Review: Disney’s Aulani Loco Mocos

I’m back from my first visit to Hawaii with, of course, a visit to Aulani, Disney’s outpost in the Aloha state. Since it was my first visit, I was particularly excited to explore Hawaii’s unique culture.

Aulani View

Aulani View

During our initial morning on site, we chose to have breakfast at Ama Ama, the more upscale of the resort’s table service restaurants.

Ama Ama breakfast menu.

Ama Ama breakfast menu.

The rest of the family chose to eat traditional American style food: pancakes, scrambled eggs, and French toast (can I call French toast American? :-)). But I chatted with the server, a native Hawaiian, and asked what the most traditional local dish was. She responded, “Loco Moco,” and told me that the Ama Ama version was excellent. So Loco Moco it was!

For those of you not in the know, a Loco Moco consists of rice, topped by a hamburger patty, topped by a fried egg, topped by a brown, usually onion or mushroom based, gravy.

Here’s the Ama Ama Loco Moco. (Try saying that five times fast.)

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I loved the way the semi-cooked yolk and gravy oozed into [Read more…]

Favorite Finds: Disney Valentine Treats at Target

During a recent pass through Target, I was please to see that much like last year, they’ve got a nice selection of Disney-branded treats fill your Valentine’s stocking. (Wait, that’s not a thing, is it?)

Many of the items feature retro-style Mickey and Minnie illustrations. They remind me a bit of the “Get A Horse” film short that runs before the theatrical showings of Frozen.

My Target had an aisle end-cap with a Disney theme, but I found Disney items scattered throughout the Valentine candy section, not just on the end-cap.

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The items included a plush Mickey, holding a chocolate heart lollipop.

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These cutie patootie Mickey and Minnie tins hold wafer cookies.

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Here’s a cupcake mix. It comes in a [Read more…]

Review: Cabana Eats at Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa in Hawai’i

I’m back from a recent trip to Aulani, Disney’s vacation outpost in Hawaii. I am already itching to return – that place was magnifico!

Part of what made it even more over-the-top great was that we had access to a private poolside cabana. Score!

Our cabana!

Our cabana!

We had comfy reserved chairs, a fan, a stereo, a TV (’cause hubby wanted to check in on the football games between swims), water bottles, a constant supply of fresh towels, a mini fridge, and of course, an ever-attentive attendant to keep us supplied with drinks and snacks. Naturally, it’s that drinks and snacks part I want to talk about.

We arrived at the cabana at about 9:30, after a big character buffet breakfast, so we weren’t immediately ready to eat. And then magically, as if Mickey himself knew the peckishness was imminent, a complimentary fruit plate arrived.

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Check out all the tropically goodness: orange, mango, grapes, papaya, dragon fruit, starfruit, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, passion fruit, pineapple, edible orchids, and [Read more…]

My Holiday Dining Dilemma

Erin Foster is the Disney Food for Families columnist and a behind-the-scenes guru here at Disney Food Blog! Check out more of her posts here.

I’ve had the good fortune to spend several major holidays at Walt Disney World with my family. Last week, as I made reservations to spend the winter holidays at the parks again this year, I was reminded of a situation we encountered on Thanksgiving Day 2008.

My three pre-teen daughters, my husband Jeff, and I are dining at the California Grill. They’ve got a special menu of turkey and all the trimmings, hubby and I ordered a nice bottle of wine, and we’ve timed it so that Wishes is starting just as we’re ready for dessert. It’s pretty much a perfect celebratory situation.

California Grill is a perfect holiday destination

We’re enjoying each other’s company and the dining room is filled with other families as pleased as we are. A few tables away from us, is a woman dining alone, seated by the window overlooking the Magic Kingdom. She’s well-dressed, maybe late-30s or early 40s. She’s not reading a book or playing iPhone Scrabble (like I often do when I’m eating alone at a table service restaurant). She’s simply eating her turkey at a moderate pace, enjoying the view of the castle, and chatting pleasantly with the waiter when he comes to refill her water or offer more bread.

On absolutely any other day, I wouldn’t have given this woman a second thought. I’ve been that woman myself many times. I frequently travel to Walt Disney World on my own and often enjoy the peace of a solo meal at a fine restaurant.

The Sunset at California Grill is a great backdrop for a solo dining experience

If I had seen her a few days earlier, I would have assumed she was a business woman at a convention, or a food blogger, or just someone who likes to travel alone. Again, all perfectly normal situations. If I had seen her a few days earlier, I would have [Read more…]

Getting the Best Spot for the Big Game: Strategizing and NEW VIP Seating at Disney World’s ESPN Club

So apparently there’s a this thing that happens in the winter called football.

It’s not my personal bag of chips, but my husband is all but obsessed with it. We’ve spent many an hour during our Disney vacations strategizing about how to make sure he’ll get to see his beloved Giants games on TV while we’re in Florida. (Well, probably not such an issue this year … but I digress.)

The finest place at Disney World to watch any big televised sporting event is the ESPN Club, located on the Boardwalk, just past the International Gateway exit from Epcot. And they’ve just introduced a brand new VIP seating option for game day… . More about that in a minute.

They’ve got cold brew on tap, the best wings in town, and most importantly, approximately a billion television sets tuned to sports channels.

ESPN Club -- With a line to get in on Game Day!

Heck, they’ve even got TVs in the bathrooms.

Restroom Stall TV

And like any good sports bar, there’s lots of friendly banter among fans of rival teams.

Sounds perfect, right? The only problem is that because it’s such an awesome place, and because the number of venues to watch non-market games at WDW is fairly limited, the ESPN Club tends to fill up quickly. Without a plan, you’ll end up shut out of ESPN, scrambling to find a cab to watch your game at an off-site Applebee’s.

Don't Miss The Chance to See the Game in Disney World!

Here are some tips to make sure that you get in to watch your game in style:

NEW VIP Seating and Reservations

During football games, ESPN is now offering a VIP seating option.

With VIP seating, you can make reservations for your game of choice. This is particularly notable, because this is the only way to secure a reservation at ESPN Club. Theoretically, you can do this through the main Disney Dining Line (407-WDW-DINE), but when I called to give it a shot, they had no idea what I was talking about. I had much better luck calling ESPN Club directly at 407-939-1177. The cast member who answered there was super knowledgeable about game times and was happy to take a reservation.

The restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m.-1:00 a.m., so that’s when they’ll be [Read more…]

New Look for Walt Disney World Private Dining Menus

During my recent stay at Walt Disney World’s Bay Lake Tower, I did my usual arrival-time scan of the room: lights work (check), TV works (check), hangers in the closet (check), room service menu on the table … whaaaaat? No room service menu?

I don’t often get room service, AKA Private Dining, during my Disney visits (there’s soooo much yum to eat out in the parks and restaurants), but sometimes at the end of a long day of park hopping, room service is exactly what you need. Plus I was visiting with my husband for our 20th wedding anniversary, so, you know. Anywhoooo, I was a little confused when I didn’t immediately see the room service menu in its familiar place on the table.

As it turns out, the menu was there all along, just in an entirely different format. The previous room service menus were oversized and made of sturdy card stock.

The old Contemporary/Bay Lake room service menu, large and in two parts.

The new menu is hiding among a bundle of pamphlets and information in an all new guest check-in presentation folder. See it there, third item down on the left.

New guest presentation folder

The new menu is smaller, with smaller print, but in my opinion, the [Read more…]

Snack Series: Raspberry Macarons at Epcot’s France

I was favorably impressed by my first visit to Les Halles bakery in the France pavilion at Epcot. I’ve been back several times since then and continue to think this is one of the best counter service dining venues at Walt Disney World.

During a recent trip to Epcot, I took my husband for his initial taste of Les Halles. As his introduction to the bakery, I bought him a raspberry macaron.

Macaron at Epcot's France pavilion

During a trip to Paris and Disneyland Paris in 2010, we become obsessed with macarons. I’m not saying that lightly. We sampled macarons at Pierre Hermé, Angelina, Ladurée, and a dozen more locations throughout Paris. I’m a professional ;-)

Macaron display at Ladurée Paris

Raspberry macaron at Angelina in Paris

For those of you who have yet to be initiated into the cult, French macarons are [Read more…]

Snack Series: Meet Mochi in Japan

Remember that cool ice pop freezer we found a while ago in Epcot’s Japan pavilion? (Get it – cool … freezer – oh, never mind.)

Epcot Japan snack stand

The happy freezer has more than just ice pops in it these days. Meet the Mochi.

Japan snack stand freezer

Mochi is actually a Japanese version of a marshmallow, sweet and somewhat bland, but with a smooth texture and easy chew.

The product sold here is mochi ice cream — a golf-ball-sized scoop [Read more…]

New! iPad Wine List Debuts at Victoria & Albert’s in Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort

I took a quick trip to Walt Disney World last week and had the opportunity to experience several new technological initiatives related to Dining at Disney World.

I’ve written these up in several posts for DFB, and today we’ll cover the new iPad wine list that recently debuted at Victoria & Albert’s!

iPad Wine Menu at Victoria & Albert’s

During our trip, my husband and I dined at our favorite restaurant on the planet — Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian. Maitre d’Hotel Israel Perez was excited to show us that the venue’s wine list had recently been transferred to an interactive iPad format.

Our server, Al showing us the iPad wine menu.

The interactive features were quite helpful for guests like us who are not quite as wine savvy as we should be. And the system will also work well for wine experts who know what they’re looking for.

You could search by [Read more…]

Merchandise: Tiki Themed Ceramics to Celebrate the Enchanted Tiki Room’s 50th Anniversary

There’s been a celebration this summer of one of Disney’s most classic attractions: The Enchanted Tiki Room. We’ll have a post soon detailing the celebration first hand, but first up, we’ve got some merchandise to talk about!

First appearing at Disneyland in 1963, this feather-filled confection of song is now observing its 50th anniversary.

To mark the occasion, Disney has released a series of ceramic kitchen items reminiscent of the attraction’s Polynesian Island mood.

Among the wares are several items that would be perfect serving pieces for your next home luau. (You’re planning one now, aren’t you?)

There’s a chalice-like bowl called the “Rongo Enchanted Tiki Bowl.” I’m not sure if this piece, designed by Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, is meant to hold chips and nuts, or whether it’s a goblet for an especially thirsty sailor.

I’m thinking that if you’re out of pineapples and are serving lapu lapus, then this would make a fair alternative vessel.

The “Luau Bowl” could be for chips, or it could hold the [Read more…]