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Friday, February 15, 2019

Our Top Five "Affordable" Table Service Dining Locations at WDW in 2019! - These Even Surprise Me

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin


Our Top Five "Affordable" Table Service Dining Locations at WDW in 2019!

While at this point it may be relatively common knowledge that we aren't Disney World locals, one of the most frequent questions I get asked is how we afford to travel to the parks so frequently. Truthfully, we aren't a "trust fund" family and we're not independently wealthy or anything anywhere close to it (lol). The secret to it all is knowing your priorities and striving to make the most of every dollar. Over the years, it's something we've gotten incredibly good at and it also helps that we typically travel with family so we're not footing the entire cost every trip. However, the costs do still add up so we save money whenever and wherever possible. For us, one of the best ways to do that is in the dining realm. 

I've waxed poetically (ok in all honesty my writing is likely the farthest thing away from waxing poetically... its more like a train wreck that you feel obligated to watch lol) about how we typically avoid the dining plan. It's not that the dining plan is inherently bad, but it's no secret that 90% of people using the dining plan will spend more on food than they would if they would have simply paid for their meals or select meals out of pocket. I know that's not the only reason so many people use the dining plan time and time again, but that is the main reason we avoid it and have done so for so many years. 



Also, we're known to cut costs by "combing meals" and doing something like a late breakfast and a counter service dinner and bridging the gap with a mid day snack or one of the incredible festival booths at Epcot when the festivals are running. At this point in the course of Epcot there are very few times of year when a festival isn't running which is always a huge benefit for the guest experience. 


(The Pulled Pork Slider From The Smokehouse During Flower and Garden Festival)

Returning to the topic, it is interesting to note how many value oriented options you can find available at WDW if you know what and where to look for them and how to order at the restaurants when you do. So, without further ado, here's a closer look at our top suggestions in 2019. Obviously this isn't our favorites list because "affordable" and the "absolute best dining offerings" available don't always fall hand in hand. Then again, these are still incredible "value" oriented offerings in the dining realm. You're not going to get a $10 steak dinner (unless you want to head to the Golden Corral up the block... not recommended lol) or anything but if you're looking for great food at reasonable price, these are our top picks. 




Perspective is a Function of Location 

As a last word of warning, our idea or "reasonable" and yours may vary. Affordable is a vastly subjective term and it's also important to note that perspective is a function of location. Something that may seem expensive elsewhere may not be all that pricey in relation to other dining options at WDW so your perspective does become a little skewed. 


The List 


Via Napoli 

So far, Via Napoli has been our greatest surprise of this year. It was a near perfect experience and one that I spoke in great detail about in our Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria - A Near Perfect Epcot Dining Location post a few weeks back and I still stand by every word of that article. In my opinion, if you go here and order a reasonable amount of food you can get a near perfect meal for around $80 for four people. I mentioned in our full review that most people are going to tend to over order at Via Napoli. We did just that ourselves and while I would 100% order all the same things again, you could easily order far less if you really want to maximize your budget and minimize your costs. If you have four people, split one large pizza (or two individual pizzas) and you will have plenty of food in most cases. Order water to keep your costs down and you could get out of the meal for under $60. For table service at Walt Disney World that's going to be hard to beat. It's value at its finest and personally my current number one pick for table service at Epcot. The only thing coming close is Le Cellier or Teppan Edo but those meals will easily cost you at least 50% more than this one.
 

Whispering Canyon 

Whispering Canyon is a location I talk about time and time again on this site because I personally think the food is vastly underrated. That atmosphere is an acquired taste and truthfully it's not going to be an environment everyone enjoys but if you don't mind being the focus of a few light hearted jokes along the way, it's well worth a visit. The food is actually quite good, and even if you order the largest item on the menu, the Canyon Skillet (which is literally an all you can eat family style "skillet"), you're looking at a cost of $24 at lunch time. Dinner is a bit higher at $33 per person, but other items on the menu are far cheaper and just as great if you're not looking for a family style meal. We even reviewed breakfast here a short while back in our Whispering Canyon Breakfast - A Closer Look and Review post and it's the most budget friendly option of them all.  


For lunch, a personal favorite of mine is the pulled pork sandwich which is only $14! The sandwich is plenty of food for one person and at that price you're not going to find much better value per dollar spent anywhere on property.     

If you've not been to Whispering Canyon, it's worth a visit at least once. It's a little out of the way over at Disney's Wilderness Lodge, but it's about a 10-15 minute free boat ride over to the resort from Magic Kingdom. 

Homecomin' Kitchen

Homecomin is, without a doubt, one of my favorite picks for dining at Disney Springs. The food is great, the portions are large, the people are incredibly nice, and the setting makes you feel at home as soon as you walk in the door (that may just be the southern person in me, but it feels like home... but we're from KY so if the shoe fits... lol). If you're looking to stay budget friendly, split meals or order appetizers and you'll have plenty of food while still remaining at or near the $60 mark for a family of four. You may have to be somewhat careful what you order if you're being truly price conscious, but if you stay away from the pricey drinks and incredibly tempting desert menus, this can be a quite budget friendly meal in the table service realm of Disney dining. 


Again, it's all about what you order and how much food you really want to eat, but I will say that if you're leaving Homecomin' hungry, you're doing something wrong along the way! If you're looking for a great server, ask for Brooke if she's still working there and you're set for a near ideal meal at the springs. 

Once again, we reviewed Homecomin' in greater depth in our Homecomin' Kitchen: Our New "Must-Do" Disney Dining Location! post a while back. 

Boathouse

The Boathouse is a restaurant that I'm guessing very few people expected to see on this list. It's no secret that it's known for it's high end steaks, elaborate seafood menu, and the insanely large Baked Alaska dessert, but you can find quite a few entrees for well under $20 on the menu as well. Dining here on a budget is kind of taking into consideration the "best of both worlds." You get the incredible service, spectacular theming, and world class views, while at the same time you can avoid being startled by your bill if you choose to order carefully. I know I keep saying that same phrase over rand over again but that's kind of the key to it all when trying to dine in a budget friendly manner at WDW. 

You're not necessarily receiving a lesser experience, but you're spending far less than what you may expect from the outside looking in. This is especially true if you're a guest that typically eats counter service everywhere you go while on vacation in the parks. The difference in cost to get better food (in some cases), better theming, and ultimately a more memorable experience is actually quite negligible at times. 


When it's all said and done, we go to the parks to create memories and for us so many of those memories come from a great meal gathered around the table with friends and family recounting the stories of the day and simply enjoying a moment together that more often than not gets lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life when we're back home. We are to that point in life where it's not always easy to coordinate a "real meal" with everyone all in one place at the same time so that needed time together and that experience at WDW is one that is so vastly important to us on vacation that we will often do whatever it takes to make it a feasible possibility on each and every one of our vacations. It all seems so simple but some of the greatest memories I have of the parks are as a result of telling stories around the table, interacting with an incredible waiter or waitress, or enjoying the flavors of a meal we can't find back home. It's those little moments that make all the difference and as I always say we're all here in life trying to make the most of every minute and this is likely one of the best ways to do just that!   
      

Yak and Yeti 

To round out our list we have to head over to Animal Kingdom in our minds to Yak and Yeti. Truthfully, we put off trying Yak and Yeti for years because we're not the most adventurous folks in the realm of dining. We always assumed the menu would be odd or we wouldn't know what to order, but about a year ago we made the jump almost out of necessity to escape the heat one brutally hot summer day and gave it a shot. Our Landry's Select card got us priority seating and the cards all seemed to fall into place on that particular day. At the end of the meal we were shocked to say the least and every hesitancy we originally had about this restaurant was long gone. Without a doubt, it had moved towards the top of our list of places to return to and since then we've been back a few times and it's met or exceeded our expectations each and every time. 



As with anything on this list, your cost is going to vary based on what you order. However, every time we eat here, we order around three entrees or two entrees and a nacho or a side of house fried rice or some combination of the group and split everything. Not only do you get to try a variety of the menu but you also get the chance figure out what you really want to order next time. 

The menu isn't all that adventurous when your food actually arrives at your table and I'm pretty picky when it comes to out of the ordinary food. Nothing on this menu is off-putting or so odd that it makes you feel like you're "in Asia" despite the incredibly well appointed decor that puts you in the heart of the Animal Kingdom experience.

Long story made short, if you're concerned about trying this because of the menu, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with your dining experience if you decide to give it a chance. 

Fo more one this one as well, check out our Yak and Yeti Restaurant Review - The Overlooked Gem of Animal Kingdom? article where we really dive into the details of one our visits. 

Wrapping Up 

At this point, it's not very difficult to notice a trend in our recommendations. Inevitably, this whole dining conundrum comes down to what you order and how much of it you order. Your bill will reflect your entree decisions and that's not only true for these dining locations but also many many others across property. If you're not careful you can end up spending $20 on a counter service meal and sitting outside in the heat when you could have spent $22 on an entree for one and spent an hour or two enjoying the air conditioning and the added benefits of table service dining. 

I've always been a huge proponent of table service dining and that's likely the main reason I made this list in the first place. So many guests overlook table service options and write them off simply because of preconceived ideas of high costs when that isn't always the case. 



If you're considering a Disney vacation, consider at least one table service meal. It may not be for you, but you never know until you try it at least once. Everyone has their preferences. but I'm a firm believer in the fact that a good meal can change your day, refresh you for a few hours, and ultimately better your overall vacation experience. That's the key to all of the tips on this site. Everyone's ideal vacation experience is going to differ but it's my goal to provide you with opportunities or thoughts that may change the way you view parts of your vacation experience. In the end, if I can help just one person create a new memory with family or a life long friend, then I've done what I hope to do! If this helps even one person, it's a vast success in my book and well worth every minute put into the process of creating this content. As always, thanks for reading and we appreciate you taking a few minutes out of your busy lives to share a moment here with us. If you ever have questions, comments, or just want to join a group of like minded Disney fans I invite you to join us in the Guide4WDW Group on Facebook or to follow us on your favorite social media platform!  
      

Your Thoughts

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's here and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!


Need a Travel Planner?

If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They'll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you'd like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.

Ready to Plan?

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.




Saturday, February 9, 2019

5 Things Most WDW Guests Don't Take Full Advantage Of

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

5 Things Most WDW Guests Don't Take Full Advantage Of

Disney entertainment these days, especially in regards to Walt Disney World, is so incredibly all encompassing that it's often quite difficult to fully take advantage of all that is available to you as a guest during your stay. Even with as much as we tour the parks, there's always something new to see and do that you've never done before. I was just talking with a few friends on Facebook about how I'd love to do DiveQuest in the Seas Pavilion at Epcot. It does require scuba certification, but I can only imagine it would be something truly mind blowing to experience in person. While that would be a dream come true, it is perhaps one of the better examples of that same aforementioned concept. I've been touring the parks literally my entire life and there's still hundreds of things I've never made the time to do, but that's part of the fun of going back time and time again. 


These tips hinge on that same general idea, but in a slightly simpler iteration. Today we're talking about things at Disney that so many guests don't take full advantage of while they're visiting Walt Disney World. However, just to be clear, we're not recommending you try to "take advantage of Disney" in an unethical way, but rather sharing ways to make the most of the resources Disney wants you to use and offers up to you as there designed benefit. This won't be a list of ways to "work the system" but rather things that most guests simply overlook and could potentially utilize more effectively during their vacation experience.   


      

Free Water 

This is by far the simplest item on our list but it's here for good reason. If you're not already aware, Disney still provides glasses of ice water to guests entirely free of charge at most quick service locations across property that have a fountain drink machine. All you have to do is walk up to the counter, ask for a glass of ice water, and they'll typically hand you at least one with no questions asked. Water bottles are typically expensive so if you're willing to drink tap water, it can save you hundreds of dollars in a week long vacation in those peak-heat summer months. 

As of race weekend at WDW in January of 2019, about 50% of the ice water in the parks appears and tastes like it is being filtered through a Coca Cola machine which offers a far better taste than in some previous years. Every once in a while you'll get a glass that tastes like that "classic Florida water", but that is getting more rare than it once was. if you've never experienced "Florida water" it's an odd blend of tap water flavor and a slight saltiness that is difficult to explain. It's not the end of the world, but can be a little surprising if you're not used to it. 


Either way, this is one of the greatest money saving options you have that is oh so incredibly easy to implement throughout your stay. We drink water almost every time we eat in the parks and I can't tell you how many hundreds of dollars we've saved over buying soft drinks or water bottles and truthfully you need its hydrating capabilities in the heat of those warm Florida days more than just about anything else. It's a quick cure for a heat related headache and I cant tell you how much staying hydrated can benefit you in the parks.     

The Pathway to Hollywood Studios/Epcot 

Again, this is an incredibly simple overlooked gem of Walt Disney World. Between Hollywood Studios and Epcot there is one long walkway that very few guests know exists. The path wanders casually along the edge of a lake and weaves its way a short distance over to the Boardwalk Resort. Once you get to the Boardwalk, you can enter the resort at the ground level (or walk around following the path) and cut through the air conditioned resort out to the waterfront boardwalk itself which leaves about 10 minutes more of walking to arrive at the back exit of Epcot called the International Gateway. A boat also offers guests a ride along the lake/river but so many guests over estimate the length of the walk. When we've stayed at the Boardwalk and the Swan and Dolphin we've walked the distance many times. Because of the layout of the paths, it is a much further walk to the Swan than the Boardwalk and the same is true for the Yacht and Beach Club, but it is no means out of the question to walk it rather than waiting on a boat. 


In my opinion, (given that I am 22 years old) it's a very easy walk and unless it's 100 degrees in the heat of the summer it's a quite pleasant walk and one of the most picturesque spots in all of Walt Disney World.      
   

Last Minute Fastpass+ Changes 

As we move into a few of the less common items on our list today, perhaps the best takeaway from this article is the fact that reservations (dining and fastpass+) are something you should never stress about. If you cant get your desired fastpass+ selections on day one of your booking window, don't worry about it. One of the greatest "secrets" many returning guests and local Disney fans have figured out is that it is quite possible and quite easy to secure popular fastpasses 24 hours or less before your desired time in the parks. As guests vacations get closer, people cancel their trips, check in dates move, and things in life just get in the way and at the last minute they'll bail on their fastpasses. If that happens, they pop right up on the my Disney Experience app and they're yours to grab. Often so many guests get so transfixed by their previously set plans that they don't even bother looking days or even hours before their time in the parks. If you're not overly picky about what times you want to ride certain attractions, it's quite doable to pick up Flight of Passage, Slinky Dog Dash, and even Seven Dwarfs Mine Train fastpass+ selections at the last second.

Perhaps the greatest example of this I can give is from last summer. We booked a last minute trip (a few weeks after we returned home from WDW) to return to the parks after the debut of Toy Story Land. Our fastpass booking window had obviously already started and many selections were already completely booked. However, two days before our day in Hollywood Studios we managed to snag a Fastpass for Slinky Dog Dash literally a couple weeks after the attraction first debuted to the public.

 If you're willing to look multiple times and even quite possibly sit on the couch with the TV on and simply refresh your fastpass+ selection time search page for 20 to 30 minutes you will be blown away at how fast people add and drop selections and as a result what you can pick up! If you put in the time and check even at the last minute, a lot of things can move in your favor!             

Last Minute Dining Reservations 

Dining is the same situation as mentioned above. Don't get caught up in booking your dining reservations 180 days out right down to the minute. Unless you're traveling with a massive group or want a vastly coveted reservation at Victoria and Alberts or something of the sort, 99% of the time it's unnecessary to worry about booking at that exact 180 day mark. I have never once booked a meal 180 days in advance. I don't usually know what I want to eat tomorrow, let alone 6 months from now. If you find booking these things fun and it helps you look forward to your trip and build anticipation than by all means go for it! However, don't sweat it if you don't enjoy doing things super far in advance. 


Just back a week or so ago we booked a trip to WDW beginning March 9th. We went ahead and made our dining reservations and every single time and location we wanted was still available. And... on the off chance it isn't available, just be flexible and check back a few times and it will pop up more often than not. 

As perhaps the greatest hidden tip surrounding this topic, don't forget to watch the cancellation window. Disney requires all guests booking table service dining do so with a credit card on file. If you don't show up, and fail to cancel your reservation you will be charged a $10 per person fee. However, you can avoid the cancelation fee by canceling the reservation at least one day prior to your scheduled meal. As a result, tons of dining reservations pop up the day before your desired meal time and location. Believe it or not, I've seen Be Our Guest reservations pop up the day before and even the day of our time in  the parks and the same is often true for Cinderella's Royal Table. I personally don't recommend either of those dining locations unless you're going to experience the atmosphere or have kids that really really really want to go, but that's a story for another day. 

Long story made short, don't stress about dining reservations. If I've learned anything from my friends that are locals it is that dining reservations are no big deal and that if you're even remotely flexible with times/locations, you can find just about anything your heart desires super last minute with the sole exception of super high traffic days like Christmas day.
              

Your Time Outside Of the Parks

I emphasize and overemphasize this point at length on this site time and time again but for good reason. If you're going to Walt Disney World, take at least a part of a day on a multi-day vacation to enjoy your resort, a different resort on property, or even to do a "Monorail tour" of the Magic Kingdom resort area. The "Monorail tour", as we like to call it, is essentially jumping on the resort monorail at Magic Kingdom or the Ticket and Transportation Center and then riding it to each of the resort stops. At each stop get off and explore the resort, grab a meal, check out the stores, or enjoy the little details of the experience. It is, without a doubt, one of the simplest things you can do at WDW that will create some of the best memories. It's budget friendly, it's uniquely Disney, and truthfully it's one of the things we enjoy the most on our WDW trips time and time again.


Another great thing to do is to enjoy what special activities your resort offers or at a resort near whatever location you choose. For example, many resorts have fire pits and marshmallows to roast at night, many offer movies under the stars, others offer live performances by cast members (ex: street performers at the Boardwalk and the legendary YeHaa Bob at Port Orleans), and even a select few offer scavengers hunts completely free of charge! If you don't know where to start or what to look for, head to the front desk or the concierge and they'll break down the weeks activities for you!  




Your Thoughts

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!




Need a Travel Planner?

If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They'll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you'd like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.

Ready to Plan?

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.



Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Best Budget Friendly Lens for Disney Parks Photography - Getting a New Perspective

Guide4WDW.com
by: guide4wdw - Collin

The Best Budget Friendly Lens for Disney Parks Photography - Getting a New Perspective  

I know the first thing many of you are asking is why is a camera lens review on a Disney Parks themed website? Well, about a year ago I took the leap and dove into the Disney photography realm. I knew absolutely nothing about "professional tier" photos but wanted to try my hand at capturing higher quality images not only to share here but also to supplement social media posts, share greater details in reviews, and even potentially to use in print for future projects. 

I'm certainly no photography expert and will never claim the title of a "professional" because it's more of a hobby than anything else. It's something I enjoy and essentially that's why I do any of this. Contrary to popular belief in the blogging realm, I don't do this for the money, I do it simply because it's what I enjoy doing and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to share that with so many of you. I've said it before, but I never in my wildest dreams would have thought even one person would have had an interest in what I write and talk about. It blows my mind to this day but I'm incredibly thankful for the people it's allowed me to meet along the way.


So to best answer that initial question I have to say a lens review is on this site mostly to encourage other folks traveling to the parks to try something new. It may not be photography, it may not be a website, and it may not be anything beyond trying a new restaurant in the parks, but trying something new can change your outlook in so many ways. 

Why am I sharing this? Well, hopefully it will help someone out there looking for something just like this as I was a short time ago. If you're not at all interested in the review, I completely understand and invite you to check out one of our other posts here on the site. This will apply to a very limited audience but sometimes it's fun to switch things up a bit in this content sharing journey. Theme park photography has become something I really enjoy and sharing things that interest me and potentially others is one of the many things this site is for. 

To jump right into it, I do have to credit Tom Bricker (the man, the myth, the Disney photography legend himself over at the disneytouristblog.com) for the initial lens recommendation. He's the reason I caved and bought this lens and I've never once regretted the purchase.

In my opinion, the best budget friendly camera lens for Disney parks photography is none other than the Tokina 11-16mm F/2.8 DX Type II. the important parts of that lengthy description are 11-16mm and Type II. Essentially, for the non-photography folks reading this, an 11-16mm lens covers an angle of view of 104 degrees. While that seems trivial, it's incredibly helpful in the Disney parks to capture things both in tight quarters and in a more creative perspective. It's not going to be ideal for portraits or anything of that variety because it's simply too wide for most of those applications. However, the lens is designed primarily for landscapes and architecture photography on crop sensor cameras. 


To further explain, a crop sensor camera is essentially the removable lens cameras about 95% of you reading this likely have. Full frame or FX sensor cameras are not fully compatible with this lens but if you have a full frame camera, you're probably not looking at this lens to begin with. Also worth mentioning is the fact that this will not work on iPhones or anything of the sort. Additionally, the lens is currently built for Canon and Nikon cameras. 

The type II reference is also quite important because only the second version of this lens will auto focus with most DSLR cameras due to its internal focus motor. In the simplest of explantations, the previous version had to be manually focused by hand on most entry level DSLR's in the Nikon lineup. The second generation put a focus motor in the lens itself allowing it to focus with even the most budget friendly camera in the Nikon lineup, the d3400 (an incredible entry level offering). I cant speak to Canon directly because I've never used one but I believe the same is true for at least select camera models.

Why Is This The Ideal Disney Parks Photography Lens?

Truthfully the main selling point for me on this lens was and is it's incredible array of uses in the Disney parks. At an aperture of f/2.8 it's capable of absorbing enough light to use a reasonable shutter speed and a reasonable iso on most dark rides to get the shots desired. It's also great for nighttime photography when you really need that fast aperture to capture the image without a tripod (depending on the shot). 


For the non photography geeks out there, the process of capturing images in dark spaces is a delicate balance of aperture (referred to as f-stop), iso, and shutter speed. Aperture is referred to as being "fast" or "slow." Faster lenses are paired with small aperture numbers. For example, f/2.8 is a wider opening inside the lens than a f/4 lens. The f/2.8 aperture allows the camera to gather more light. The iso number is essentially a representation of artificial light the camera is creating (without flash) to expose the image correctly. Higher iso numbers yield higher grain in the image, so it's desired to shoot at an iso of 100 (or lower) to get the sharpest images possible in most cases. Lastly, shutter speed is a varying number referring to how long the cameras shutter is physically open when gather light on the cameras internal sensor. The darkest scenes require many seconds of exposure time with the camera completely still to gather enough light. However, for dark rides, you can only slow down your shutter speed so much or it will induce motion blur into the image. 

It's an intricate process and this is a vast oversimplification of complex concepts but in essence, a lower number f-stop lens is better to have in your bag 99% of the time, a lower iso is better 99% of the time, and shutter speed will vary drastically. In all reality if you want tac sharp nighttime images you'll shoot photos on a tripod, at iso 100, and at an f-stop at around f8-f/11 for peak image quality. However, none of this matters unless you learn to use your camera in manual mode. Also, if you're going to buy this lens, I suggest you do so only if you're going to learn to use your manual mode, aperture priority mode, or shutter priority mode. If not, the only thing this lens will provide you is a wider angle of view and very little difference in image quality in most cases. 

Your greatest resource in photography is knowledge of your gear and how to use it. I wont drone on in weird photography terms any longer but why is this lens a great deal??  

1. It's incredibly sharp at its price point. It even comes close to comparing to lenses 4 and 5 times it's price when used correctly.  

2. It's an incredibly wide lens which is perfect for photos like what you see in this post. Personally, it's my favorite kind of photography and I'm a bit of a wide angle freak. If you like these photos, you'll love this lens because 100% of the photos in this post were taken on the Tokina. The photos here are not peak quality due to the websites compression, but if you want real details, check out our Facebook or Instagram pages. About 50% of those photos were taken with this lens.

3. It allows for vast creativity. Disney and ultra wide angle photography go hand in hand. This lens allows you to capture things no phone can capture, no standard zoom lens can capture, and will allow you take photos of things you never thought were possible. 

I've gone on and on about this lens, but what does it cost? Personally, I paid $279 for it and bought it refurbished directly from Tokina. I'm not a Tokina ambassador (even though that would be cool), I'm not getting paid by them to write this, and I'm not looking to sell you anything while writing this. The link to Tokina's website is intentionally not an affiliate link. I recommend it because it is what I use and what has worked for me. So far it's the main thing that's kept me from jumping to a full frame camera and that's a good thing considering what full frame cameras cost! 



It is without a doubt one of the best lenses out there for the money. There are a few different versions of it and I've heard the optical quality of the 11-20mm version of this is quite stellar as well, but I have not used it personally. The greater zoom length is pretty trivial to me so I opted for the the 11-16mm to save some money and recommend you do the same to save a few dollars. Chances are your standard kit lens that came with your camera will cover the 18-55mm focal range so this version works out quite well for most entry level photographers and many professional photographers as well. 

Last but certainly not least, it's a lens that grows with you as you learn more about photography. Sure it does have some weird chromatic aberration in the corners or when shooting into direct sunlight, but it's a two click fix in Adobe Lightroom's lens corrections. It's not without flaws but it is an incredible lens for crop sensor cameras and quite possibly the one lens I would take to Walt Disney World if I ever had to choose just one to carry with me in the parks.  


Your Thoughts


As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!


Need a Travel Planner?


If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They'll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you'd like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.


Ready to Plan?


Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.



Sunday, February 3, 2019

5 Snacks Under $5 at Walt Disney World - Our Top Budget Friendly Snack Recommendations!

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

5 Snacks Under $5 at Walt Disney World - Our Top Budget Friendly Snack Recommendations!  

As many of you may already know, the food at Walt Disney World is just as important as the attractions for so many reasons. At the same time, it's also no secret that dining at Disney can get expensive. As a result, today I'm sharing our top 5 snacks under $5 at Disney World. 

Would you rather listen than read? Check out this weeks podcast where we cover this topic in greater depth! 


Dining in the parks and on Disney property as a whole is all about knowing where to go, what to order, and how to make the most of every meal. This is especially true if you're looking to save money. Some guests fall in the expensive dining preferences category while others are perfectly content eating at quick service locations or even quite possibly carrying their food with them into the parks (which I don't necessarily recommend due to extra bags, etc.). When we travel to the parks, I like to think that we bridge the gap of both mindsets. It's not out of the ordinary for us to eat one table service meal a day, but often times we'll also skip a lunch or a dinner after a big table service meal earlier in the day. To us, a good meal can make all the difference in the flow of your day and how you feel throughout the day, especially during those hot summers that Florida has become synonymous with. 



Obviously, when taking that mindset into consideration, we're not necessarily the most frugal travelers, but at the same time we're not spending hundreds of dollars a day on food simply because we've found ways to cut down on costs and only select the most expensive dining offerings for select occasions or one time per trip meals. Snacks fall into a similar frame of thought for us. In general, we don't snack all that much in the parks, but we are notorious about picking up desserts at a bakery or late night ice-cream before heading back to our resort. I share that detail mostly because your idea of a snack could certainly differ from ours so it's something you may want to be aware of along the way.

Over the years, we've come to recognize that often times a snack can help you bridge the gap between a table service breakfast and an early dinner, or any other combination of possibilities simply because we've learned the hard way. No matter what your strategy for touring the parks is, a snack at Disney doesn't have to be a $7 Mickey Pretzel (yep, that's right... they're $7 now!). Snacks come in all shapes and sizes at Disney but knowing what snacks are best and which ones wont brake the bank can really help you out and more importantly help out your budget along the way. 

1. Mickey Beignets ($4.49)  

Believe it or not, beignets at Walt Disney World are still one of the little known hidden gems of the dining realm. For just $4.49, you can grab 3 beignets at Port Orleans French Quarter at the Floatworks dining location. These beignets are, without a doubt, one of the very best snacks on property regardless of the cost. Additionally, at less than $5 they're a must-try treat for every Disney Parks guest. 

You wont find beignets in the Florida theme parks, but the short bus ride or drive over to Port Orleans is well worth it to get the chance to try this budget friendly snack. While you're there. consider trying a fried catfish Po' Boy to complete the experience and to enjoy one of the best all around budget friendly meals on Disney property at one of the most underrated resorts around.       

2. Mousse au Chocolat ($4.50)

While this is essentially fancy wording for chocolate mousse, there's nothing ordinary about this dessert/snack option. This particular Mousse au Chocolate is only sold at one location in the parks over at the France Pavilion in Epcot. France's Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie quick service location is the best little tucked away bakery in nearly all of the parks and resorts. On top of that, it features one of the most budget friendly and best tasting dessert menus in all of Epcot. 


The Chocolate Mousse is certainly a highlight of the experience, but it's also good to note that nearly half of their expansive dessert lineup costs less than $5 as well. So, if mousse isn't your thing, you have a huge variety of other pastries all with a little bit of french flair. 
           

3. Side of Chicken Fried Rice ($4.25) 

If you've every been to Animal Kingdom, you likely know how unique the food can be at times. If you're like me, you may not be the most adventurous eater and that doesn't always play in your favor. However, Yak and Yeti Local Foods Cafe somewhat solves that problem with a simple snack that will keep you relatively full, and appeals to a fairly broad audience, fried rice. I know simply stating fried rice sounds like the opposite of a fun snack, but in all reality this isn't your local Chinese take-out spot's fried rice. Instead, Yak and Yeti adds a variety of flavor to the seemingly simple dish that really sets it apart. If you've never tried the Local Foods Cafe or the table service restaurant next door, I highly recommend it. Not only do you get a quick break from the typical food you can find in other parks, but you also get a budget friendly snack that can tie you over until your next meal.   
  

4. Raspberry Lunch Box Tart ($3.29) 

When this tasty treat was first announced as the details of theToy Story expansion slowly started to trickle out, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hesitant of how good it would be. It looks like a glorified Pop Tart and in essence that is exactly what it is! Perhaps a better explanation is that it's everything a Pop Tart should be... I know that sounds like a stretch but the Raspberry Lunch Box Tart at Woody's Lunch Box is a killer snack or breakfast item that exceeds expectations. The soft pie crust-esque texture coupled with the perfect amount of sweet and fruity filling topped off with the near perfect amount of icing is a treat that will exceed your expectations. I expected to be disappointed by this one and it is, without a doubt, officially on my list of "must-try" snacks at Walt Disney World irrelevant of the price. Speaking of price, it's only $3.29 and is the cheapest item on our list today! If you've not tried one of these, run... don't walk... to Woody's Lunch Box next time you're at Walt Disney World.        


5. Churros in Mexico ($4.50) 

There's a slight caveat to this one because these churros are far more budget friendly than churros other places in the parks. The churros at La Cantina de San Angel are $4.50 opposed to the $6.25 churros other places. It's a huge difference but in all fairness it is a different style of churro and a far different presentation. In my opinion, the churros of the Mexico pavilion are the best churros around and at nearly two dollars cheaper than all the others it is well worth a stop by the outdoor quick service area for a quick snack as you make your way around Epcot. 

The churros here typically come in a small basket with a caramel sauce on the side. The churros themselves are small thin strips that have been curved into an oval shape (which makes them far easier to dip) and you get a few of them in your basket. Additionally, the sauce seems to be a little better than the sauce you typically get in theme parks and it features a thinner consistency. It's the perfect amount of sweet to add to the classic snack.       

While this list could literally go on and list 20+ more items around Walt Disney World, I'll stop myself at 5 offerings for today. However, your list doesn't have to stop there! Be sure to add your top picks under $5 in the comments on your favorite social media platform and we'll consider adding a few of them to our next list of snack recommendations. Above all else, remember that a simple meal can create a story that you'll remember for years on end. I'm a firm proponent of the fact that the simplest of moments yield the most memorable of moments in the parks. If you've not experienced it for yourself quite yet, expect the unexpected and enjoy every moment of your Disney vacation. 

Your Thoughts

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

Need My Help?

Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or free-lance work at Guide4WDW@gmail.com. If you need a landscape or theme park photographer, feel free contact me with photo requests or contracts. All theme park writing and photos will be assessed on a case by case basis. 

For anyone else looking to give me a shout or to have their questions answered by me, feel free to contact me anytime via that same email address! I never charge anyone to answer a question and I do answer all of my emails personally.     



Need a Travel Planner?

If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They'll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you'd like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.

Ready to Plan?


Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.       

   


                   



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