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March 29, 2014

A young model from Orlando helps Walt Disney World spread its magical message

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Recently, my family was excited to see that one of my daughter's friends was pictured in a full-page color ad for Walt Disney World in the Orlando Sentinel. And that piqued my curiosity about how child models are chosen for the company's advertising campaigns and what is involved with that experience.

In this case, Kayla Davis, who will turn 9 next month, is living out her own fairy tale. She began modeling at age 4, and her first photo shoot was for Disney, portraying a princess story time.

"It was truly a magical moment for Kayla," said her mother, Tammy Davis. "She was able to meet Jasmine and Snow White that day."

Tammy said that when Kayla expressed an interest in modeling at a young age, she decided to research what she and her husband could do to facilitate their daughter's dream. She cautions other parents who have children interested in modeling to take the time to find a reputable talent agency. One sign of trustworthy representation is that no fees are collected up front, she said.

The talent agency then handles the interaction between clients, such as Walt Disney World, and its talent, such as Kayla. So, for all the work Kayla has done for Disney World ads, she has not had to audition. Her agency forwards her information and photos when they see a job she might be qualified for, and then the client makes a request for certain models.

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For this most recent ad, Kayla had to be at the Magic Kingdom at 1 a.m. and work until 9 that morning. And although she was able to rest in between shoots, that's still a long night for a third-grader. To prepare, Tammy said she went to bed at 7 p.m.

Once she arrived on Disney property, her job began with having her hair styled and light makeup applied, plus a trip to the wardrobe department for the Belle shirt she is wearing in the ad. Kayla wore several different Disney Princess-themed outfits during the course of the shoot and thoroughly enjoyed that part of the experience, Tammy said.

During this particular shoot, Walt Disney World was showcasing its newest restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, Be Our Guest, as the backdrop for a hiring campaign. The ad reads, "I made her feel like the Belle of the ball. #IamDisney"

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Kayla was required to pretend she was eating in the Fantasyland restaurant, which can be seen in the final full-page ad. She also had to pose for a slew of photos in front of the entrance to the castle. While she was on the job, Kayla got to see a big scene of Beauty and the Beast dancing. She said that interacting with the characters is one of her favorite parts about Disney modeling jobs. The Florida native also was infatuated with the windows in the ballroom of Beast's Castle that depict snow falling.

Kayla has done more shoots for Disney than any other company, her mother said. It certainly would seem that Disney has a way of making dreams come true for both theme-park guests and even others living out their own fairy tales.



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November 14, 2012

Review: Dinner at Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland

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At a recent passholder preview of New Fantasyland, my family and I were thrilled to discover Be Our Guest was open for dinner that evening. Reservations were being accepted outside the restaurant for that night only.

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Cast members were accommodating when we asked to be seated in the West Wing. Because it's such a small dining room compared to the Ballroom, there are no promises made that guests will get a table there, but the hostess will take a request when you check in and are given a pager. The Ballroom and the West Wing are the only two dining rooms open for dinner.

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Entering Be Our Guest for dinner was an entirely different experience than when we queued up for lunch. Our host led us directly through the great hall, where cast members lined the entrance to the Ballroom and wished us "Bon Appetit!" As we entered the Ballroom, it was obvious the lights had been dimmed, and the atmosphere was a little more formal. Tables were set with electric candles and red cloth napkins folded into the shape of roses. As we were led to the West Wing, we noticed that the food trolleys now lined the walls and were filled with desserts.

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We chose the West Wing because we wanted to experience the thunderstorm and its effects on the Enchanted Rose and Beast portrait. (See my previous post for more details about the entertainment in the West Wing.) This, coupled with the fact that the doors to the kitchen exit into the West Wing, make this dining room louder than the Ballroom. That didn't bother us at all, but please be aware if you have young children or someone with hearing issues, this might not be the best spot for you to dine. (When my son was a toddler, the thunder at Rainforest Cafe really scared him.)

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Once we were seated and perusing the menu, my husband and I were having difficulty narrowing our selections because everything sounded so delicious. My eight-year-old daughter, however, was struggling because she didn't see any of the traditional kid favorites and she can, at times, be a picky eater. (See the kids' dinner menu here.)

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And there is the dilemma for some parents: Their little girls may be excited to step into Belle's world but disappointed when they can't fully enjoy the experience because the kids' menu is a little more grown-up than their palates. Our server handled the situation beautifully, though, when we explained the situation. She asked a chef to come to our table, and he was very helpful about finding a solution. In my daughter's case, he offered the baked au gratin macaroni that is usually served with the adult pork chop and paired it with French fries. My daughter was satisfied, and we were pleased about the restaurant's flexibility.

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My son chose the thyme-scented pork rack chop with au gratin macaroni and seasonal vegetables and raved about it. My husband and I found it to be quite tasty, too, when we sampled the portion he was unable to finish. One caution: The pork was heavily seasoned with pepper.

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My husband tried the pan-seared salmon on leek fondue, which was served with creamy saffron-crushed potatoes. The salmon was a moist and meaty serving of fish that flaked nicely on the fork. I had the grilled strip steak with garlic-herb butter, which was very flavorful and tender, and pommes frites. The portion was so large that I ended up sharing quite a bit with my husband, who certainly was not complaining. (See the full dinner menu here.)

Be Our Guest has an extensive wine list, which you can see here. Several imported beers are available as well. My husband tried a dark belgian strong ale, Chimay Blue, and said it had a subtle hint of fruit that paired well with the salmon. Beast's castle also serves two signature non-alcoholic drinks: All-Natural Fruit Punch and All-Natural Lemonade. If you choose a light-up castle-themed souvenir goblet for the foamy drinks, the price quadruples. Almost $20 for a drink without alcohol -- ouch!

Although Be Our Guest is expensive, the pricing is in line with other table-service restaurants at Walt Disney World. In fact, it costs less overall than dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table, which does not offer alcohol but does include a photo package. The only price that really stunned me was the non-alcoholic drink. We saw plenty of diners, including children, sipping away, though.

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Still, our dinner experience at Be Our Guest was outstanding. Our server was attentive to our needs, keeping our drinks and bread basket filled and plates cleared. She was knowledgeable about the menu, too. Of course, our favorite part of her service was when she rolled the dessert trolley to our table. Guests can choose a cupcake -- strawberry cream cheese, triple chocolate or lemon meringue (Belle's favorite) -- or a cream puff -- chocolate, passion fruit or lemon-raspberry. We all tried the triple chocolate cupcake, which was quite a sweet ending to an excellent dinner.

November 13, 2012

Review: Lunch at Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland

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Did someone say, put our service to the test?

During a recent passholder preview of New Fantasyland, I was excited to find Be Our Guest open for lunch AND dinner. With Be Our Guest dinner reservations booked into March, this was a rare opportunity to dine at Magic Kingdom's newest restaurant. Given that each meal has a separate menu and different service, my family and I decided to dine there twice in the same day -- and we were happy we did. Today, I'll tell you about our lunch experience and then I'll be back with a separate blog post about dinner.

First, lunch is a step up from other Disney World counter service restaurants in that guests order their food and then it is brought to their tables by the waitstaff. No juggling trays, bags and kids at the same time! As we entered Beast's castle, we were directed into the Armory Room for a short wait. We were entertained there by the Suits of Armor who talk to each other and to guests. Plus, the lunch menu is displayed on waist-high screens for guests to peruse.

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At the end of the hall, guests are greeted by a cast member at a podium who asks about the size of your party and hands your group a small red monitor with a rose motif on the top. It actually contains Disney's new RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology and allows cast members to identify you inside the castle, and most importantly, bring your lunch to the correct table. Rose in hand, you will be directed to a manned kiosk or unmanned touch screen to order, depending on your preferred method of payment.

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Although we were directed to a manned kiosk, which would seem to cut down on ordering mistakes, we still ended up with problems with our children's meals. First, the cast member did not explain that kids have an option to substitute side dishes, and we missed the fine print. My daughter ordered the Mickey Meatloaf, which is served with broccoli and zucchini, and my son chose the slow-cooked pork with sauteed green beans and mashed sweet potatoes. Both would have preferred French fries with their meals.

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Their meals also came with desserts, which the cast member did not enter into the system, and consequently, were never delivered. My son also never received his apple juice, and a server told him to pick something else from the beverage station, even though he wanted the juice. Clearly, there are some bugs that are being worked out by the staff as the restaurant prepares for its official opening.

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Once our order was placed, we were free to choose a table in the Ballroom, West Wing or Rose Gallery. It was a tough choice, but we opted for the far end of the Ballroom, where we could see the "snow" falling outside the windows. Beautiful! We were invited to collect our silverware, which is metal and not the plastic that is typical of counter-service restaurants, and drinks from a station that included Coca-Cola products, coffee, hot chocolate and iced tea. Then, while we waited for our food, we toured the other rooms.

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The centerpiece of the Rose Gallery is a large-scale replica of a music box made by Maurice and showing Belle and Beast dancing. The walls are decorated with portraits from the tale and other pieces of art. This is the only room with banquettes, if you prefer that type of seating. Also, the Rose Gallery only is open for lunch.

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The West Wing is Beast's hideaway before Belle's love tamed him. It's dark and foreboding, and the furnishings appear to have been ravaged by Beast's frequent fits of anger. Thunder can be heard in this room, making it louder than the others. When the last petal on an Enchanted Rose drops and the thunderstorm is upon the room, a portrait of Belle's handsome prince changes to an image of Beast. (Read more about the design of restaurant from Imagineers here.) Photos will be included on my dinner review because we were seated in the West Wing.

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Returning to the grand Ballroom, our food was being delivered via trolley after just a short time. My husband ordered the Quinoa, Shallot and Chive Salad, and I had the Vegetable Quiche, and we were pleased with the flavors of each meal. Both were served with baby lettuce coated with Champagne vinaigrette, which was fantastic. (This dressing is served on a side salad on the dinner menu, as well.) We found our lunch selections to be delicious.

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Even with the problems with the kids' meals, we'd certainly give Be Our Guest another try for lunch. (See the full lunch menu here and here.) After all, our lunch experience was during a "dress rehearsal." Plus, our children were so engrossed in their surroundings that they even forgot that cupcakes were included with their meals. Other parents, I'm sure, can agree that's quite a testament to how much fun they were having in the imaginative surroundings.


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About Be Our Guest

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Be Our Guest category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Ariel's Grotto is the previous category.

Big Top Souvenirs is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.