Some random thoughts…

I know things on the blog have been quiet lately.  I have had some great ideas for posts and items to share, but have not gotten a chance to put the posts together in the way I wanted to.  So I just thought I would throw together a quick mish-mash of some random items that have been going on in my life or floating through my head lately.

I noticed I was running kind of low on my favorite foaming handsoaps and candles (and my collection of fall/holiday scents are so large that we have been using up those things, which feels so wrong in April…).  So made a large spring/summer purchase at Bath & Body Works recently.  Thanks to sales and coupon codes, I got everything shown for less than $30 shipped!

I haven’t tried everything yet, but I can attest to the fact that the Gelato candle is fruitier than I thought, but still yummy.  It’s a creamy berry scent.  Also, the Espresso Bar candle isn’t really all that great.  I was hoping for something similar to my FAVORITE Hazelnut Coffee scent from Yankee Candle, but it just wasn’t up to par.  Also, I haven’t burned it yet, but the Pineapple Orchid candle smells JUST like a tropical Starburst!  Haven’t tried any of the handsoaps yet, but the Citrus Fig leaked the tiniest bit in the box and it smells AMAZING.

Last Friday Tadd and I had the most incredible date night!  We went to dinner at this secret speakeasy on Sand Lake Road, called Pharmacy.  The fun thing about this spot is that there is no sign, and it’s kind of hidden/disguised, so finding it is part of the fun.  It’s a speakeasy, so of course that’s the point.  I won’t give away more than that, but if you search around online you will be able to figure it out.   The food was great (we had the fondue appetizer and the sausage pizza) and drinks are pricey, but STRONG.  Trust me, you only need one!  Everything is made from scratch, including carbonating and bottling their own fizzy cocktails.  I had a King Mark fizz, pictured below, which was made with 44 North Huckleberry Vodka, Great King Street Scotch, Maraschino Liqueur.  In addition to what was in the glass, I still had the cocktail leftover in the bottle to drink!  It was $12, but like I said…pricey, but one is all you need!  By the way…Don’t you love the glassware?

After dinner, we went to Hard Rock Live to see Anthony Bourdain!  We are big fans of all of his shows and books.  I was able to score tickets on Groupon for $33 each, which was a steal.  As you would probably expect, he told tons of stories about his life in the restaurant business, behind the scenes antics on his shows, and insights on the other Food Network and Travel Channel celebrities.  Extremely entertaining!  So glad I jumped on those tickets when I saw them on Groupon!  If you get a chance to see him live, I highly recommend it.

I am not sure when I will be able to post next, but keep a close watch on the blog, as well as my Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds!  Tadd and I are going on another Tennessee adventure soon!  On the agenda this time: Visiting some breweries, geocaching, Jack Daniel’s Distillery Tour, maybe visiting Loretta Lynn’s dude ranch, and who knows what else.  Plus we are taking a bonus side trip to Asheville, NC!  Should be some fun and exciting sightseeing in our immediate future.  Follow along!

Also, don’t forget:  Tomorrow is “May The Fourth” Be With You/Star Wars Day!  I will proudly be wearing my Princess Leia shirt and my Star Wars headband.  I love that I am getting so much mileage out of them!

Enjoy your weekend!

Buon Compleanno (“happy birthday” in Italian!) at Via Napoli

January has turned into a bit of a blog hiatus for me.  Unfortunately, I am still dealing with issues stemming from my accident (I officially hate car insurance companies!), still dealing with traces of my cold on and off (although I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOO much better), and work has been pretty insane too.  I swear, I couldn’t believe when I woke up yesterday morning that it was ONLY Wednesday.  It felt like it should have been Friday many times over by that point.  To say this month has been challenging for me would be an understatement.  Although I do know that it could be much, much worse, and for that I am grateful.

Last Saturday, we took a break from our life stresses to celebrate my good friend Elizabeth’s birthday at Epcot, where I got to try several new things for the first time!  Having lived in Orlando for over 2 decades, and having been a Walt Disney World passholder for several of those years, I get excited when I get to try something new in the parks.

First stop: New Test Track.

It’s basically an upgraded version of the old ride.  The footprint and track of the ride are exactly the same as they always were.  However, the look and “story” of the ride are totally different.  Now the ride basically looks like you have stepped into the movie Tron.  Lots of dark spaces contrasted with neon outlines.  Everything looks more slick and futuristic.  Also, now you get to design your own car via touch screen kiosks before you ride, and your design gets pitted against the designs of the others in your ride vehicle as you go through various “tests” (stuff like sudden breaking, handling on curves, aero-dynamicness, and everyone’s favorite…SPEED!).  After each test, there is a little leaderboard that shows how your imaginary car fared against the others.

The queue looks totally different now too.  The focus seems to be on the science of car design and concept cars.  I am not a huge car person, but I could see where this would really interest someone who was into that kind of thing.

Later on in the day, we surprised Elizabeth with lunch at Via Napoli for her birthday.

This was another first for me.  This restaurant opened in the Italy Pavilion of World Showcase back in 2010, and it was a place that I had always wanted to try, but just had never gotten around to it.  They are known for their authentic Neapolitan cuisine, including delicious wood fired pizzas.  What I think is the coolest feature of this restaurant are the three very striking pizza ovens shaped like the faces of the patron gods of each of the three active volcanoes in Italy: Stromboli, Vesuvio, and Etna.  So cool!

The pizza was delicious.  It’s traditional oven-fired style pizza with thin crust, ever-so-slightly charred on the bottom with great toppings.  We got a delicious white pizza with artichokes and truffle oil, and some kind of custom-ordered prosciutto and sausage monstrosity that I wouldn’t touch (I don’t like meat on my pizza…I’m a veggies-only kind of girl, but my friends really loved it).

Then the birthday girl got serenaded by the waitstaff!  She got some kind of lemon cookie mini-dessert.  But really, the cookie was just a vehicle for the AMAZING chocolate and raspberry sauce drizzled all over the plate.

I would say all of us really enjoyed it and I know I would definitely go back.  The pizzas are pricey when compared with regular takeout pizza ($30 each for the large), but they were a good size and two of them were the perfect size for the 6 of us.  I didn’t think it was bad at all for a filling, sit-down lunch at Disney.  I know I left stuffed.

My WDW escapism continues this weekend at Magic Kingdom…We have reservations this Saturday for dinner at Be Our Guest, the brand new restaurant in the Beast’s castle in New Fantasyland.  I had to book these reservations back in August (three plus months before the place even opened!), so they are quite coveted.  I am psyched!  If only this week could mercifully end so I could get back to the fun stuff!

A photo walk in World Showcase

Tadd and I were finally able to get back to Walt Disney World this past weekend.  Disney’s summer season is officially over and Tadd’s seasonal pass was no longer blocked out, so we took advantage and went to Epcot.  We were especially interested in working more with our new camera.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate at first, and it was drizzly and rainy for most of the morning and into the afternoon.  Which was nice for crowds (the park was almost empty when we got there!), but not so great for taking photos.

We had lunch reservations at Le Cellier, which is the extremely popular sit-down restaurant in the Canada pavilion, so we decided to wait and see what the weather was like when we were done eating.  First of all, holy crap was Le Cellier good!  It was our first time dining there, and I had to get us reservations back in May because it’s always booked months in advance.  I was very curious to see if it lived up to the hype.  We had a great, really fun waitress, and they even had my favorite Canadian beer, La Fin Du Monde.  I’m not really a steak person, but Tadd kept rolling his eyes back into his head while enjoying his wild mushroom filet.  I had the pork chop and the sauce it was served with was delicious.  But my favorite part was the pretzel bread they brought out at the very beginning.  Soooo good!  Tadd also really enjoyed the cheddar cheese soup (which is one of their signature items).  We both walked out stuffed.

When we left Le Cellier, the weather was starting to clear up.  So we decided to proceed with our day, which included a visit to Captain EO (which I had not seen since I was probably about 6 years old), watching the movie in France, and trying out the wonderful new wine bar, Tutto Gusto, in Italy.  We took photos all along the way.  Here are some of my favorite shots.

My week in Instagram; 4th of July version!

4th of July is over and our out-of-town family have left.  Posts should resume normal frequency now!  I’m sure you have all missed me immensely…Ha!

Just thought I would share some Instagram snaps from the week with you all…

Getting the guestroom ready for Tadd’s mom with a little help from the furkids.

Sunday morning, we got up early and drove out to DeLeon Springs to have breakfast at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill. It’s a historic restaurant where every table has it’s own griddle, and they bring pitchers of pancake batter and mix-ins (chocolate chips, blueberries, etc), and you cook your own pancakes at your table! Fun!

A closer look at the waterwheel of the Old Spanish Sugar Mill.

We took a brief stroll through the Stetson University campus, which is beautiful. This is one of the campus buildings.

We spent the afternoon and evening of July 4th enjoying the GORGEOUS weather by Lake Eola for the City of Orlando’s Fireworks at the Fountain celebration.

The breeze off the lake was sooooo lovely. Especially for July in Florida!

Awesome view!

If you are on Instagram, follow me!  I am “sunshineteablog”.

Linking up!:

Maxine’s On Shine

I meant to post about this earlier in the week.  I wanted to share a restaurant review for a new-to-us place that we tried last Sunday night.  However, I am excited to share that I have been promoted at work!  And in preparing for my new role, time and energy has been scarce lately.

Tadd and I actually went to Maxine’s On Shine Sunday  night to celebrate said promotion.  It’s a cute little bistro on Shine Avenue tucked away in an adorable residential neighborhood just north of downtown Orlando.  The food seems to focus on Italian and Greek cuisine, kind of a Mediterranean blend, but I wouldn’t really categorize it strongly that way.  The food is just really good.  That’s all you need to know!   Although the menu is not large, I’m sure anyone would be able to find something they like.

Source: Maxine’s On Shine’s Facebook Page

We ate on the patio, as the weather was lovely that night.  Not too hot or humid, with a slight coolish breeze, which is becoming less and less common in Central Florida this time of year.  We started with a couple of beers, Shipyard Applehead for me (LOVE!), and Magic Hat #9 for Tadd.  We found their beer & wine list to be impressive.  It’s always nice to see lesser-known craft brews on a menu.  Tadd had originally tried to order a Blackened Voodoo, which is one of his favorite more obscure beers.  He was impressed to see it on the menu, but it turns out they were out of it that night.

We found out that they have a Sunday night special called Magical Mystery Tour.  For $25, you get a 3 course meal (appetizer, entree, and dessert) chosen by the chef, and a your choice of a draught beer or glass of wine.  Tadd was feeling adventurous, so he chose that option.  I am way too much of a picky eater to leave that much to chance, but there really isn’t that much that Tadd won’t eat (olives and raisins are really the only two biggies), so he went for it.  While we waited for his first course to come out, I also ordered a cup of their soup of the day, butternut squash and apple soup.  Mmmmmmm, so good!  I only wished it was fall, because these are flavors that I usually associate with that season.

Soon enough, they brought out Tadd’s appetizer of stuffed grape leaves.  I tried one and thought they were ok, though not really my taste.  Tadd, however, inhaled them.

For entrees, I got the spinach ravioli with ratatouille.  And looking back at the pic, I realize this doesn’t look super appetizing, but I really really loved it.  The mountain of roasted veggies were SO good.  There were mushrooms and artichokes and summer squash and spinach and even beets, which I don’t typically care for.  All really really good.

Tadd lucked out and was presented with something he is STILL raving about; Gnocchi con Pollo Sorrentina, which is gnocchi and chicken served with prosciutto and veggies in a wine/butter sauce.  He was soooooo happy, and cleaned his plate.  I thought he might have licked it afterward if he thought he could have gotten away with it!

Tadd’s mystery dessert was an interesting concoction of what seemed like house-made vanilla ice cream, house-made butterscotch sauce, strawberries, and blueberries.  No idea what this dessert was called, but I think it was just right to end Tadd’s meal.  I had a few bites, and LOVED the ice cream.  Especially combined with the butterscotch and berries.  Nothing complicated or fussy, just really good.

Towards the end of our meal, the owner approached and asked us about our experience.  He was warm, friendly, and welcoming.  Service throughout the meal was great too.  We had Mary as our server, and she was sweet and cheerful.  Loved her.  We walked back to our car vowing to come back soon and bring friends.  Tadd’s office is nearby, so he would love to come back someday for lunch, and I have heard their weekend brunch is great as well.

If you live in Central Florida and are looking for a place to dine near downtown Orlando, check it out!

Maxine’s On Shine

337 N Shine Ave

Orlando, FL 32803

(407) 674-6841

Instagram Link Party: Celebrating and sewing.

We spent a lot of time celebrating this weekend.  Saturday night, we had dinner with some friends at one of our favorite local spots, Pannullo’s, and got to celebrate the fact that one of them is starting a fantastic new job!  Sunday, we had a belated celebration for my brother and father’s birthdays.

We actually already had the dinner plans in place for Saturday night when we heard that my friend got the new position, so I decided I wanted to use my (limited) sewing skills make her a little gift to bring to dinner, just to let her know how thrilled we are for her.  I had gotten such positive feedback on the reusable coffee sleeve I had made a few weeks back, that I decided make one especially for her, using a cute fabric in her favorite color, purple (which is also my favorite color!).  There were some really cute prints on sale at JoAnn Fabrics, so I bought a few that caught my eye, including the perfect purple fabric for my friend’s gift.

I am sure when she starts her new job, she will be enjoying plenty of coffee, so I figured it was an appropriate gift.

And again, if you want the original tutorial that I used to make these, please click here!

I actually made another one on Sunday for my grandmother in the same pink paisley fabric as the original.  And I have plans to make a few more.  They are small, cute, and not too difficult, and they allow me to practice my sewing skills on something not too overwhelming.  After my third time making these coffee sleeves, I can tell I am getting better, little by little.

Linking this post up with the weekly Instagram Link Party at a {little} dash of ash!

Instagram Link Party: Orlando Staycation

Tadd and I had plans to go to Hilton Head Island, SC this past weekend.  Unfortunately, they had to be canceled due to a family emergency that required us to stay closer to home, just in case we found out we had to leave town quickly.  We decided to make the best of it and our romantic weekend getaway turned into a last-minute “staycation” in the Orlando area.

We booked an inexpensive room via‘s name-your-own price feature and spent two nights staying very close to Walt Disney World property.  When we checked into our hotel, we really had no plans aside from dinner Saturday night at Il Mulino at the Walt Disney Swan Resort.  We were just going to play it by ear, and have a fun, relaxing weekend away from the stress of life, and focused just on each other.

We wound up in Downtown Disney Friday night.  Dinner at Paradiso 37 (which was better than I thought it would be!), followed by desserts from Goofy’s Candy Company.  They have this create-your-own treat thing, where you fill out a form and choose an item (apple, rice krispie treat, marshmallows, pretzel rods, or ginger bread cookie), then you choose to dip it in white, dark, or milk chocolate, then choose a candy topping (M&Ms, Oreos, peanuts, Reese’s Pieces, etc), then you choose a chocolate drizzle for the top.  It used to be that the marshmallow option was only $2.95 so it was a great bargain, because when they were done being dipped in everything they were enormous and they presented them to you skewered on a Mickey head crazy straw that you could keep.  Now they are $4.95…Not a bargain, but still a generally affordable treat.  We got ours to go and brought them back to the hotel room.  On the way out of Downtown Disney, we decided randomly to stop by guest relations and make reservations for the Sunday morning Keys to the Kingdom tour at Magic Kingdom.

Saturday we really weren’t sure what to do, but in the end decided to go to the Premiere Outlets where Tadd got some new bright green hi-top chucks at the Converse store (they are awesome…I need to get a picture of them), and I almost got something on clearance from the Coach Outlet, but ended up with a new Vera Bradley bag that I adore (an angled tote in Baroque), plus some extra stuff for gifts (everything in the VB Outlet was buy 2 get 1 free).  Then we set off to Celebration, FL for an afternoon of lunch at Celebration Town Tavern (which made me homesick for Boston), relaxing by the lake, Starbucks, and getting Tadd’s hair cut at a charming little place called S. Todd Esq, Barber!  We made so many Sweeney Todd jokes before and after the haircut…could not resist!

Saturday night, we had reservations for dinner at Il Mulino for that evening, so we went back to the hotel room, got gussied up a bit, and drove over to the Swan & Dolphin Resort near Epcot (refered to by locals as the Swolphin).  Il Mulino gets somewhat mixed reviews on Yelp and other places, but I have to say that we had a fabulous dinner!  They won us over with all the little extra surprises that added to the experience, including an appetizer of thinly sliced Italian sausage and eggplant caponata provided to us “compliments of the chef”, a tiny bottle of Rosa Regale included with our special Valentine’s Day dessert, and concluding the meal with a complimentary limoncello.  We had a head waiter & assistant waiter doting on us, and the manager came over twice to make sure we were happy.  These little extras really made our dinner special!  We felt like royalty.

We were thinking about walking over to Epcot for Illuminations after dinner, but when we left the restaurant, it was getting cold (and I had bare legs in a dress & heels!) and we had about 10 minutes before they started.  So we decided to go to the bridge between Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and Boardwalk Resort, and watch the fireworks over the treeline.  We were almost completely alone, huddled together in the cold, with a great view, and it turned out to be a very romantic moment.  I’m so glad we decided to stop there instead of rushing all the way into the crowded theme park for the show.

Sunday morning, we woke up bright and early, checked out of our room, and headed over to the Magic Kingdom for our 9AM Keys to the Kingdom tour.  Wow, was it cold!  I think it was 33F when we left our hotel.  We arrived at the gates of the park just after 8:30, and because of our tour, were allowed into the park before the masses.  Getting to see Main Street Town Square totally empty was a treat!

We had a fabulous time on our five hour tour, which included lots of history, trivia, VIP front-of-the-line guided access to a couple major attractions, and we were also allowed backstage to see how the park is run from behind-the-scenes.  It also included lunch at Columbia Harbor House.

I don’t want to give too much away regarding the tour, since part of the fun is not really knowing what you will see next, but if this kind of thing interests you, then I definitely recommend it!  Our tour guide was Robert, who was a lot of fun, enthusiastic, and very sweet.  The tour brought back a lot of happy memories for Tadd, who was a WDW cast member about 12 years ago.  We both really, really enjoyed it.

Thus ended our impromptu romantic staycation weekend.  I am sad that we didn’t get to go to Hilton Head, but we still had a great time together and made some special memories.  Valentine’s Day is important to us because it’s the anniversary of the day Tadd asked me to marry him, so we always try to do something to celebrate.  I think our weekend was more than befitting of the occasion.

This post is linked to the weekly Instagram link party over at a {little} dash of ash!

Valentines for my BFFs!

I know I have discussed my best girlfriends on the blog before.  These are some of the sweetest, most fun and lovely ladies you will ever meet.  They are the type of people who band together in someone’s time of need, and also in their time of celebration.  We look out for each other, we miss each other terribly when we spend too long apart, and we are always on the lookout for reasons to get together and fun new adventures we can have.  We are a fun bunch!

The last few years, we have started a tradition of getting together around Valentine’s Day to exchange valentines.  Last year it was a big house party where we ate junk food and watched The Princess Bride, and this year it was a bit more intimate at a chic little restaurant in Winter Park called Hot Olives.  We give all sorts of valentines to each other…Little notes, cards, boxed valentines, candy, trinkets, small gifts, crafts, etc.  It’s always fun to see what everyone comes up with.  And of course, it’s wonderful just to be able to take some time to express just how much we appreciate and care about each other.  Not that we don’t the rest of the time, but we make it a little extra special at Valentine’s Day.

As soon as I knew I was getting a sewing machine, I knew what my first major undertaking would be; making something to give as valentines to my girlfriends!  I searched for a small, quick, easy project that I could easily make several times over with some fun pink & red fabrics.  A couple years ago, my mother-in-law made me a purse-sized tissue case, which I thought would be perfect.  When shopping at JoAnn Fabrics a few days later, I stumbled upon some Valentine-print tissue packs, and that sealed the deal for me!  I looked up a tutorial on Pinterest, and set to work on a few practice runs of the project.  I had to adjust the size a bit for the tissue packs I was using.

You basically cut out four rectangles of fabric (you can make them with rectangles of different fabrics, or all the same…I kept mine the same this time), 4″ by 5.75″.  The tutorial I used, which can be found over on Life In Grace, suggested 4″ by 5.25″, but as I said before, mine needed to be a little bigger for the tissue packs I got.

Take 2 of your rectangles and lay them wrong sides together.  Fold 2 of your rectangles in half the long way and lay on top with the folded sides facing toward each other in the middle.

Pin everything in place.

Sew all the way around with a 1/4″ seam allowance and turn inside out once you are done.  Insert the tissue pack.  And that’s it!  Simple, simple, simple.  If you have a sewing machine, you can do this, trust me.

To make them a little more special, I included a little valentine from a box (mine are Glee valentines this year…love that show!), and a Valentine-themed lip balm, all tied with a Valentine’s Day ribbon!  So festive!

This post is linked to the Tutorials & Tips Link Party at Home Stories A to Z!

Home Stories A2Z

Tadd’s Birthday Party at Oblivion Taproom!

Hope your weekend went well (or for you lucky souls who have MLK Day off, hope it is still going well).  Tadd’s birthday celebration extended into this weekend, so that was the major focus for us.

We had about 25 friends meet us at Oblivion Taproom on Saturday night.  Oblivion is one of our favorite local hangouts.  They always have interesting food & beer to try (they are famous for their craft beer selection, burgers, and rotating daily specials…almost everything is made from scratch, even the ketchup!).  And they were incredible at handling our party size on a Saturday night with only a few days notice.  They not only let us bring in our own birthday cake, but they also brought it out to him with his Darth Vader candle lit and had the whole restaurant sing to him!  Several staff members wished him a happy birthday and constantly made sure we had everything we needed.  Everyone had a great time, and I can’t say enough great things about this place.  If you are local to Orlando, give them a try.  They are on East Colonial Drive (Hwy 50) between Bennett Rd and S. R. 436, east of the Fashion Square Mall.

The birthday boy with his stout beer flight.

Happy birthday to Tadd!

Thank you once again to Oblivion Taproom, and special thanks to all of our dear friends for joining us and making his birthday celebration such a great and memorable night!

WDW at Christmastime Grand Finale: Candlelight Processional

Happy Monday morning!  Hope everyone had a great weekend.   I spent most of it resting, trying to get rid of this cold.  I am feeling much better, but still coughing a bit here and there.

Mexico Pavilion @ Epcot

One thing that we DID do this weekend, is that Tadd and I wrapped up our grand tour of celebrating the holidays at Walt Disney World Saturday at Epcot.  If you recall, we have already attended Castle Dreamlights and the holiday version of Magic, Memories, and You at Magic Kingdom and were dazzled by Osborne Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The last stop on the list of Holiday to-dos at the parks was Candlelight Processional in World Showcase at Epcot.  And of all my years of living in Orlando and being a WDW passholder, this was actually my very first time attending a performance of this show.  It’s not often that I get to see or experience something new at Disney, so I was excited!

We, along with some friends, had booked a Candlelight Processional dining package back in September.  For $50 per person, we got dinner reservations at Cantina de San Angel in the Mexico pavilion (included appetizer, entree, dessert, and a soft drink…it’s a LOT of food per person, so if you do it make sure you arrive hungry!), guaranteed reserve seating at the Candlelight Processional show, and reserved viewing area for Illuminations at the close of the evening.  You can book the same package at several of the Disney restaurants for various prices depending on time of reservation and location.  Click here for some ideas of package prices for this year.  You pay for your package at the restaurant at the end of your meal, and they give you a sticker that will get you into the reserved seating line for the show.

Waiting in line for the show with my reserved seating admission sticker, and a warm mug of Gluhwein (a German spiced holiday wine).

If you are unfamiliar with what exactly the Candlelight Processional is; it’s a retelling of the Christmas story with a mass choir and orchestra, and each night is hosted by a celebrity narrator.  On our night, the celebrity narrator was Neil Patrick Harris!  And he did an amazing job too.  He was sweet, funny, gracious, and you could tell he was enjoying himself.

After the show, we ended up forgoing the special fireworks viewing area (too crowded!) and watched Illuminations: Reflections of Earth (Epcot’s nightly fireworks show) from between Morocco and France.  I had almost forgotten that this time of year, Disney inserts a special “holiday tag” at the end of the regular Illuminations dislpay.  It’s like a bonus finale, set to the song “Let There Be Peace On Earth”…but I must admit, it didn’t sound very peaceful.  The number of fireworks they set off for this extra song are just mindblowingly incredible.  If you are at Epcot during the holidays, PLEASE do yourself a favor and make sure you stay until the very end of the night and watch this special holiday tag.  Especially if you love fireworks.

By the way, admission to the Candlelight Processional show is free with park admission, but the reason why we went with the package is because it is very difficult to get into the show without one.  Those in the regular “standby” line waited for hours (I heard as long as 3-4 hours for some), and were not guaranteed a seat at all, nevermind a good one.  This is an EXTREMELY popular event, so we found it worth the money to buy the dinner package and avoid the hassle.  If you think of what you would normally spend on an evening out for dinner and a show, $50/person isn’t too terrible.  Of course, we are all annual or seasonal passholders, so our admission was already covered.  I think my tune would change if I had to pay for a one-day park admission in addition to the $50/person.  But if you are already going to be there, especially if you are a local passholder, it is definitely worth it to spring for the package.  We still had to wait in line, but our wait was more like 30-45 minutes, as opposed to hours.  And we got first dibs on the best seats.