Top 10 Friendliest Cities in the U.S.

Friendliest Cities United States

Many don’t often think of cities when they are planning their next adventure or vacation, especially if those visitors don’t normally spend lots of time in a city atmosphere. Some cities make wonderful vacation spots because of the culinary and cultural opportunities they offer. Hospitality and helpfulness in these ten cities make them some of the best cities to visit in the U.S.

Key West, Florida

Key West is one of the most eccentric cities in the nation. Tropical shirts and flip flops, artist havens and pub crawls, THE BEACH ~ all make the city of Key West a perfect vacation spot.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

The residents of Santa Fe are some of the friendliest people in the country! Artists and jewelers flock there for handmade Native American crafts, silverwork, and turquoise. Over 320 days a year of perfect sunshine and a stunning area will greet visitors to Santa Fe.

Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minnesota

The city has a reputation for welcoming visitors with many free things to do in the area. Amusement parks, museums, art galleries, performing arts and more are all available for visitors.

Image via VisitPortland.com

Portland, Maine

A modest city along the northern coast of Maine, Portland attracts a laid back, out-doorsy crowd. The people of Portland continually live up to their reputation for friendliness. Add that to delicious lobster rolls and blueberry pies and you were have a perfect visit.

Fort Worth, Texas

The heart of cowboy country beats with an enthusiastic and zealous group of locals hanging out at the Old Fort Worth Stockyards and enjoying the city’s much-loved barbecue. Many museums are free, and the residents take a certain pride in being less buttoned up than their neighbors in Dallas.

New Orleans, Louisiana

The people of New Orleans are irrepressible and irresistible! A historically vibrant and unique culture calls New Orleans home and the locals are exude happiness all the time. I wonder if its the jazz? 

Asheville, North Carolina

Positive auras, good energy and beautiful mountains! You’ll come away from Asheville feeling younger, full of “beer of the day” donuts and counting the days until you can return. 

Nashville, Tennessee

No one knows how to make you feel welcome quite like the people of Tennessee. Music City’s singers and songwriters give the city a constant feel-good vibe and everyone is welcomed with open arms. Barbecue and music are make Nashville a repeat vacation spot for many.

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah charms anyone who visits. Beautiful architecture, Spanish moss, and good natured Southern hospitality are just a few of the reasons why you should visit.

Charleston, South Carolina

Recent tragedy has cast a dark cloud over Charleston, but this southern city’s famous compassion and resilience have helped it recover and have locals seeking new ways to become ever more welcoming. 




Advanced Ordering System at WDW Quick Service Locations

 

This week on the Disney Parks Blog hidden at the bottom of an article about the food that will be available at the new Satu’li Canteen at Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we saw a one paragraph announcement about an Advanced Ordering System that will be used through the My Disney Experience APP when this restaurant opens at the end of May. A similar system is used for both breakfast and lunch at the Be Our Guest restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.

This will be a new convenient option to order and pay for meals on-the-go within the My Disney Experience app which will allow you to bypass the queue to order when they arrive at the restaurant. Using the app, you can select menu items, customize your order and pre-pay for their meal. When you arrive at the restaurant you will tap an “I’m here” button in the app, which will notify the kitchen to prepare your meal. When ready, you will receive an alert through the app to pick up your meal at a designated window.

Additional fast-casual and quick-service restaurants will begin to offer Mobile Order later this year.

I have not yet been able to find out if food allergy sufferers will have the allergy menus available when the APP expands to additional locations. My daughter has multiple food allergies and her food often takes much longer than everyone else’s to prepare at quick service locations. I often feel like we are almost finished with our meal before her meal is ready. Being able to order an allergy meal through the APP would be ideal for my family. I am waiting for a follow-up response from the Special Dietary team at Walt Disney World and will let you know the outcome. UPDATE: It is recommended by Disney that an allergy sufferer not use the APP. They feel it would be safer to speak to a chef/manager at the dining location when ordering food for dietary restricted meals.




7 Ways to Keep Restless Kids Entertained at the Cruise Terminal

cruise terminal restless kids entertained

Today is the day. You’re finally about to board your cruise with your family. As you check in, you find out your boarding time is later in the day and you’ll be waiting at the cruise terminal for hours. You look at your children who are known to be restless and slightly wish you had thought to plan for this.

We’ve all had moments like this. Where you wish you had thought ahead for your own sanity and everyone else’s. Thankfully though, there are great ways to entertain your kids before getting on your cruise ship.

Coloring books

A tried and true method, they’re easy to carry in your bag with a few crayons and can keep them occupied for hours. Sit your kids down and give each of them their own little book, they’ll be entertained until it’s time to board the ship.

Portable DVD Player

With everything being streamed online now it is hard to remember that there was a time when we watched DVD’s but they are a great way to keep kids entertained! The plus side is you can now get a good one for under $50. They can carry it in their own bag and pick out movies before you leave. It is a great way to keep them entertained and not break the bank! You don’t have to buy movies either. Just head to your local library and rent some. Most of them will let you have them for up to 14 days.

Your phone

Download a few child friendly apps and make sure they know not to go snooping around in your personal stuff. Even if your child just enjoys pointing and clicking your camera, technology can keep them calm for quite some time if done right. Plus, with all the different apps you can get, there will be no “I’m bored” talk.

Books

If your child enjoys reading, this will be the best option. Pack them a few different books and let them have their pick as they wait. Let them dwell into a land of fantasy and by the time it’s time to board they’ll barely notice the time had passed. If you want to get them very excited for reading take them to the local library a couple days before the cruise and let them pick out new books.

Puzzle toys

Pick up a few cheap, logic toys before you go to the terminal. They’re easy enough to do that your child won’t get frustrated, but hard enough that it’ll keep them entertained. Especially if you offer a treat if they complete it, such as an ice cream cone when you board.

Play games with them

Sure, you might get tired of paddy cake or I spy after a few rounds, but your kids will gladly play over and over. You’ll make memories with them as well, and it might even keep you entertained during the long wait.

Netflix

When all else fails let them stream some kid-friendly shows on Netflix. They have a wonderful Disney section full of entertaining shows that also teach them something. If you are worried about them watching something that they shouldn’t set them up with their own section in Netflix and add parental controls before you get to the terminal.

Cruise wait times can be long, even if you get to port early. Make sure to always have a backup to keep your kids entertained.




Learn How to Decorate Your Own Mickey Dome Cake at Amorette’s Patisserie

Decorate Mickey Dome Cake Amorette's Patisserie Disney Springs

Oh, those gorgeous cakes at Amorette’s Patisserie – if you’ve ever been lucky enough to wander in the pretty shop in Disney Springs while the artists are decorating, it’s a wonder to watch. When I visited in February, I was amazed watching as the cake artist created one of those Mickey Domes. She made it look so easy! So when this new experience popped up on the Disney Parks Blog – I was thrilled!

Now you can learn how to work your own magic with the new Cake Decorating Experience at Amorette’s Patisserie beginning March 31. Reservations opened March 22, and the experience, which must be booked in advance, will be from 8:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. every Friday through May 5.

Sip complimentary specialty coffee, mimosas and bellinis while you work side by side with the pros at Amorette’s Patisserie to decorate your own Mickey Dome Cake. You’ll learn how they seamlessly blend artistry and storytelling in cake design, starting with the elegant glaçage (that’s French for “mirror glaze”) and ending with the finishing touches such as chocolate sculpted ears, tail, belt and buttons – all edible, of course.

Take your cake home to impress your family and friends – it not only looks beautiful, but tastes delicious. Space is limited. The Cake Decorating Experience at Amorette’s Patisserie is another exciting offering from the Enchanting Extras Collection, which allows you to enhance your vacation. Cost is $129 plus tax for ages 10 and up, for one to two guests working on a single cake. A second cake can be purchased for an additional $40. Reservations are available now, and can be made by visiting DisneyWorld.com/dining.

I’m definitely ready to learn how to make one of these cakes!

Pre-Order Specialty Cakes to enhance any special occasion!

To pre-order a cake, call (407) 934-3500 or stop by the shop at least 72 hours in advance. Cake types available for this service include:

  • Petit Cakes – Small, delicate works of edible art
    • Amorette’s Petit Cake: Red velvet cake with chocolate chiffon, chocolate mousse, cherry mousse, raspberry jelly and Italian buttercream
    • Tea Time Petit Cake: Lemon chiffon, matcha green tea chiffon, lemon curd and orange blossom pâte de fruit
    • Coffee Time Petit Cake:Gluten-friendly chocolate chiffon, dark chocolate mousse, and coffee buttercream
  • Dome Cakes – Whimsical Disney character-inspired or elegant dome cakes exclusive to this bakery
    • Mickey Mouse Dome Cake: Chocolate chiffon, milk chocolate mousse and orange blossom pâte de fruit
    • Minnie Mouse Dome Cake: Lemon chiffon, white chocolate mousse and strawberry pâte de fruit
    • Goofy Dome Cake: Chocolate chiffon, chocolate mousse, caramel mousse and milk chocolate ganache
    • Donald Dome Cake: Lemon chiffon, lemon curd, lemon mousse and blueberry pâte de fruit
    • Pluto Dome Cake: Chocolate chiffon, peanut butter mousse and banana pâte de fruit
  • Amorette’s Signature Cake – Layer cake complete with a beautifully designed “hat box” packaging
    • 8-Inch Cake with 11 Layers: Red velvet with chocolate chiffon, chocolate mousse, cherry mousse, raspberry pâte de fruit and Italian buttercream



What to Expect from Pandora-The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom

Pandora Avatar Animal Kingdom
Photo Credit: www.vocativ.com

Opening May 27, Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will transport guests to a mystical world of bioluminescent rainforests, floating mountains and soaring Banshees. In collaboration with filmmaker James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment, Disney is bringing to life the fantasy world of Pandora, inspired by Cameron’s epic film AVATAR.

You will discover two main adventures in this breathtaking new land. Avatar Flight of Passage, sending guests flying above the jungles of Pandora on a Mountain Banshee. Na’vi River Journey is a family-friendly boat ride that sails down a sacred river hidden within a glowing rainforest for an unforgettable encounter with a Na’vi Shaman.

Hungry adventurers can recharge at Satu’li Canteen, the main dining location, or Pongu Pongu, a drink kiosk with a design as eclectic as its expat owner. Shoppers can stock up on Na’vi cultural items, toys, science kits and more at Windtraders. The artful storytelling in Pandora continues at Satu’li Canteen (pronounced “Sa-too-lee”), a Quonset-hut-style building. The fast-casual restaurant is inspired by the healthful bounty of Pandora – wholesome grains, fresh vegetables, and hearty proteins.

The largest addition in the history of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Pandora carries on the park’s tradition of celebrating the intrinsic value of nature, transformation through adventure and a personal call to action.

Guests to Disney’s Animal Kingdom will cross the park’s Discovery River into Pandora – The World of Avatar and continue along a winding rainforest path for their first glimpse of the land’s iconic floating mountains. The Pandora landscape will be alive with creatures. They have brought to life everything from the largest creature you might encounter to the most microscopic. Animals will appear out of the underbrush – big Pandoran animals will appear at the edge of the forest and you’ll hear the very complicated calls they issue back and forth.

As guests explore the verdant terrain sprawling beneath mountains that appear to float in the sky, they will see waterfalls cascading down the mountainside into meandering streams and pools, and they will discover two thrilling new expeditions: Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey.

Avatar Flight of Passage launches each guest on an exhilarating, wind-in-your-face experience on a winged mountain banshee over the awe-inspiring world of Pandora. Guests will actually feel the banshee breathe beneath them as they soar through the forest and past floating mountains. What was a rite of passage for Na’vi in Cameron’s film becomes a multisensory experience for guests seeking the ultimate adventure – a faceoff with the most feared predator of Pandora, the Great Leonopteryx.

On the family-friendly Na’vi River Journey, guests travel down a sacred river deep into a bioluminescent rainforest. The eight-seat reed boats float past exotic glowing plants and Pandoran creatures into the midst of a musical Na’vi ceremony. The mystical journey culminates in an encounter with a breathtakingly realistic Na’vi Shaman of Songs who is deeply connected with Pandora’s life force and sends positive energy through her music into the forest.

Based on Oscar-winning filmmaker James Cameron’s record-breaking box-office hit, AVATAR, the new land welcomes guests to the lush world of Pandora long after the human conflict with the native Na’vi inhabitants has ended. The dramatic daytime beauty of the land transforms to glow by night when bioluminescent flora and intricate nighttime experiences add a dreamlike quality to Pandora.

Pandora – The World of Avatar is a creative collaboration of Walt Disney Imagineering, Cameron and Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment.

Rivers of Light is now open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This new nighttime show takes you on a magnificent journey with a mix of water, fire, nature and light choreographed to an original musical score. Continuing the park’s transformation from a day-into-nighttime experience, the amazing after-dark experience on the banks of Discovery River celebrates the majesty of nature and the connection between animals and humans in the world.