Top 3 Restaurants for Kids in Disneyland

Visiting Disneyland can certainly make you feel like a kid again! But what about if you’re visiting with…you know…real, live, actual kids?

We talk a lot about good options for grown ups, but today, I thought we could hit up our very favorite spots in Disneyland for when you have some small fry with you (which, for many of us, is most of the time!). So let’s tick off the Top 3 Restaurants for Kids in Disneyland.

Grab your Mickey Ears, and let’s go!

Goofy’s Kitchen

If you have a small child in tow on your Disneyland trip, a character meal is practically a requirement.

After all, most kiddos love meeting larger than life characters. But kids and adults alike can agree that long lines in the hot sun don’t make for magical memories. So our first suggestion is that you book your advance dining reservation asap for Goofy’s Kitchen.

The Entrance to Goofy's Kitchen

The Entrance to Goofy’s Kitchen

Why? Because we think the food is better here than at many other character meals.

Located in Disneyland Hotel, choose from brunch or dinner character dining at this popular spot. And the characters are especially fun at Goofy’s. Because in addition to Goofy, you just never know you might drop by!

Of course, you can totally expect to see the man himself.

Chef Goofy at Goofy's Kitchen

Chef Goofy at Goofy’s Kitchen

But you might just see a prince or a princess as well! And MANY other friends!

Aladdin and Jasmine at Goofy's Kitchen

Aladdin and Jasmine at Goofy’s Kitchen

Parents will appreciate the terrific seating options here. Sure, there’s no monorail whizzing above your head like you’ll find at Chef Mickey’s. But there are tables located both inside the sunny dining room and outside on a shaded patio. Ahhhh…how I love California.

One Room of Goofy's Kitchen Restaurant

Goofy’s Kitchen Seating — Inside

Outdoor Seating at Goofy's! Love It!

Outdoor Seating at Goofy’s! Love It!

And even though the characters are fun and the atmosphere is adequate, the eats are [Read more…]

Guest Review: Trail’s End Dinner Buffet at Disney World’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Howdy! Today we’re rustling up some dinner grub at the Trail’s End Restaurant courtesy of guest author Daniel Staten. Don’t forget this restaurant for breakfast and lunch too. Let’s dig in…

The atmosphere at Walt Disney World changes often. With the seasons come new decorations and with the decades come new attractions.

There are a few places at Walt Disney World, however, that evoke a sense of nostalgia while providing a fun environment and novelty. Trail’s End Buffet at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort and Campground is one of those places.

Traveling to Fort Wilderness, and Atmosphere

Nestled far away from the hustle of the Magic Kingdom, Trail’s End feels uniquely Disney. It’s very low-maintenance and rustic.

Trails End Sign

Should you decide to dine at Trail’s End, prepare by factoring in additional travel time to the restaurant. If you arrive by bus or car, plan on an extra 30 minutes from the time you pass through the front gates of the resort.

Trail's End Outside

Trail’s End Outside

Due to the expanse of Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort, a separate inter-resort bus system shuttles guests to and from the main entrance to where Trail’s End is situated.

If you’re visiting the Magic Kingdom during the day and plan to eat at Trail’s End, you have the option of taking a boat. As a veteran Walt Disney World vacationer, I was taken by surprise and was even late to my reservation at Trail’s End due to the unanticipated transportation.

Seating at Trail's End

Seating at Trail’s End

Once you arrive, the tall trees and relaxed atmosphere reminded me of a family reunion, where the details aren’t fussy and the food is plentiful.

Buffet at Trail's End

Buffet at Trail’s End

Eats

For dinner, Trail’s End offers a buffet with several unique and fun options. The selection of meat, sides, and desserts is sure to please families and large groups. In addition, Southerners take note: this is one of the only places at Walt Disney World were you can order traditional sweet tea. At the end of my vacation, I had been tea-free for a week and was certainly experiencing cravings!

Buffet at Trail's End

Buffet at Trail’s End

The buffet area is smaller than newer restaurants like Boma, however we never found it cramped, and this was on a Friday night where we waited about 20 minutes after our Advance Dining Reservation time.

Several items on the buffet proved to be particularly popular, including the fried chicken and BBQ ribs.

Fried Chicken, Salmon, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Fried Chicken, Salmon, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

BBQ Ribs

BBQ Ribs

One of the best things about Trail’s End was the unique dishes that

[Read more…]

Guest Review: Crystal Palace Breakfast in the Magic Kingdom

Welcome back guest author Catie Hiltz! Hundred Acre Wood fans will love this review of the Crystal Palace Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Read on…

I have been going to Crystal Palace ever since I was a little kid – they have been serving up breakfast, lunch, and dinner with “character” for years from their prime location near Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.

My husband and I were lucky enough to get to visit Walt Disney World last year at Christmas time – and we couldn’t miss out on the chance to dine at this character buffet featuring Winnie The Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet.

We had a 9:40am Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) for breakfast at the Crystal Palace, and we arrived a bit early so we could leisurely stroll down Main Street before heading over to the restaurant (and we took time to pose for a photo or two of course!).

Ready for a delicious Crystal Palace Breakfast

Ready for a delicious Crystal Palace Breakfast

Atmosphere

The week of Christmas is a busy time at the Disney Parks but I was pleased to see that the level of service I had come to expect from Disney was still upheld. We were led inside promptly at 9:40am and our waitress appeared right after to take our drink order (soft drinks, coffee, teas, and juice are available here) and explain the buffet to us.

Entrance to Restaurant

Entrance to Restaurant

The atmosphere of the restaurant was pretty upbeat overall; it was loud and crowded and full of kids running around, but it was a high-spirited kind of chaos, where everyone seemed happy – which I am convinced had to do with the amazing food options!

Winnie The Pooh and Friends Greet You As You Enter

Winnie The Pooh and Friends Greet You As You Enter

Eats

The menu is pretty standard as far as Disney breakfast buffets go; it’s advertised as “traditional fare with American flair” – which means there will be plenty of options to choose from, and that everyone will find something they love!

The Menu!

The Menu!

The kids’ area featured puffed french toast and Mickey waffles.

Pooh's Corner

Pooh’s Corner

There’s a selection of Assorted Pastries.

Assorted Pastries

Assorted Pastries

At the Fresh Fruit Station, you’ll have plenty of choices, including Honey Yogurt and Strawberry Yogurt.

Mixed Fruit, Watermelon, Strawberries, and more

Mixed Fruit, Watermelon, Strawberries, and more

OK, this probably was my favorite part of the buffet. I LOVED the [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Expert Reviews of Walt Disney World Restaurants

Ever wonder where to eat on your next Walt Disney World vacation? Are you a veteran visitor looking for somewhere different to dine? Or perhaps your family will be first-time visitors and you’re just trying to figure out your options?

where to eat in disney world

Yep, we’ve been there too! Countless restaurants and ever-changing menus keep us all wondering where to dine when visiting Disney World! Whether you are just seeking sustenance or long for a memorable meal — knowing ALL of your options is key to making the best dining choices for your family.

We understand that you have budget considerations and differing palates to contend with — and finding the right restaurant for your group may seem daunting. What you need are — restaurant reviews!

Our recommendations will provide you the information needed to make the most informed dining picks for your family! We’ve taste-tested many items for you! And after years of eating at Walt Disney World restaurants, we also tell you about the service and atmosphere.

In our The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2014 e-Book, we have mini-reviews of EVERY Disney World restaurant. Pick up your copy here for an extra $4 off using code 2014 for a limited time!

With our comprehensive DFB Guide, you’ll learn which character meals are our favorites — and where to find the best treats. Don’t dine without reading our reviews!

Counter Service Restaurants

Let’s dig in to the comprehensive listing of counter service restaurants that we’ve included in the DFB Guide to share with you our opinions of quick service spots.

And our reviews are completely honest. We’ve had some less than stellar eats at Electric Umbrella in Epcot, however in our mini-review, we acknowledge that the Vegetarian Flatbread was a hit. And we’d definitely return for another one!

We recommend the Veggie Flatbread at Electric Umbrella!

We recommend the Veggie Flatbread at Electric Umbrella!

Snack Kiosks

When you’re busy touring Walt Disney world and need a quick snack (yes, it happens to us, too!), choosing the right pick-me-up is key. Don’t waste [Read more…]

Great Places to Celebrate your runDisney Race!

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is upon us! And it got us thinking… where would we most like to relax and celebrate after a runDisney race in Disney World? There are lots of things to consider when planning your post-race celebration. So, lace up, friends, and read on!

Chef Mickey’s

Located in the heart of the Contemporary Resort, Chef Mickey’s fun-filled buffet is also character meal featuring the Fab Five… which, of course, includes the Big Cheese himself, Mickey Mouse!

Chef Mickey's!

Chef Mickey’s

Pros:
• A great buffet with an abundance of choices to fill most any post-race craving;

• If your race happens during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January, this is the place where you can get your picture taken with a character that likely matches the one on your medal! (Minnie for 10K finishers, Donald for Half Marathon finishers, Mickey for full Marathon finishers, and Goofy for those just goofy enough to run both the half and the full!)

Chef Mickey

Chef Mickey

Cons:
• There will be a fair bit of standing (for character pics) and walking (to and from the buffet)… something to keep in mind for tired legs;

• Chef Mickey’s is not open for lunch (when most runners will finish the full marathon), so you’ll need to wait for dinner or next morning’s breakfast to celebrate.

OTHER CHARACTER MEALS FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
• Epcot’s Akershus in the Norway Pavilion: We’re thinking of all of you Princesses running the February races with [Read more…]

Guest Review: Holiday Island Dinner Buffet at Magic Kingdom’s Tortuga Tavern

During the busy holiday season, Walt Disney World accommodates famished guests with unique dining experiences. Guest reviewer @MealTrip, takes us to Tortuga Tavern’s Island Dinner Buffet in the Magic Kingdom! Book your meal online or at 407-WDW-DINE.

Island-Dinner-_0000_001

During the holiday season, through January 4th, the dining area that is normally utilized for Tortuga Tavern counter service dining is trying out something new. From 5pm until 9pm they’re hosting a dining event called the “Island Dinner Buffet.”

Atmosphere

Tortuga Tavern is normally a walk-up, counter service Mexican food location, just across the street from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. I was curious as to how they would frame out the rather open, free-seating area so passers by would not inadvertently sit down and join the buffet. The solution… planted palm trees.

Potted palm trees keep the area private

Potted palm trees keep the area private

Many, many planted palm trees tucked into every nook and cranny, between every garbage can and bench, which all added to the Island theme quite nicely — and surprisingly, did provide separation from the main walk way.

The entrance to the event is over by what is usually the walk-up counter. Because this is not the normal configuration of the space, payment for your meal happens at one of the restaurant’s normal registers before you are seated. This is a bit different for a Disney restaurant, but not unusual for a buffet.

Covered registers

Covered registers

There appears to be seating for around 350 guests at any given time, and before we get into the food, I picked up a great tip from one of the managers. There are at least 50 seats that are kept out of the booking system every day… until 24 hours before the next day’s meal. This is because some of the seating can be considered “not covered.” If they’re expecting inclement weather (i.e. rain or cold), they will not release those seats to the booking system.

Outdoor tables and tables with umbrellas

Outdoor tables and tables with umbrellas

So if you would like to go to the Island Dinner Buffet, and it looks like it’s completely booked up… fear not… unless it’s raining or exceptionally cold out, they may just have a bunch of extra seats that won’t hit the booking system until the day before you want to go. Because that’s pretty short notice in Disney-Speak, that may also mean there’s a chance that you can score a seat without any reservations at all.

Seating at Tortuga

Seating at Tortuga

This is great news for Disney Dining Plan guests with one table service dining credit and no [Read more…]

Things To Do in Walt Disney World and Disneyland On New Year’s Eve

We’re gearing up for New Year’s Eve; and those of us lucky enough to ring in the New Year at our favorite Disney parks and resorts should be aware of the evening’s festivities.

Many of the exclusive options may already be booked solid, so we’ll also offer some unique alternate ideas.

Walt Disney World

Holiday events are underway in Walt Disney World.

Epcot

Stroll around World Showcase where you’ll find a variety of DJs. The lineup includes DJ Scooter (Top 40) at the Future World Fountain Stage, DJ Mark Sanchez (European Techno/Pop) on the Italy Stage, DJ Carlos Carrion (Latin Dance/Top 40) in the America Gardens Theatre, and DJ David Griffiths (British Revolution Style) on the United Kingdom Stage, and more. Enjoy two showings of IllumiNations with a holiday finale at 6:30PM and New Year’s countdown at 11:40PM.

Monsieur Paul: Opening at Noon, Monsieur Paul will serve a three-course menu for $75 (plus tax and gratuity) until 6:30PM. At 9PM and 9:30PM, there’s a special four-course menu to ring in the New Year for $195 (plus tax and gratuity). See menus here.

View of IllumiNations from Monsieur Paul

La Hacienda de San Angel: On the waterfront in Mexico this location will host a New Year’s Eve dinner.

Biergarten: This festive stop in Germany has announced special lunch and dinner options.

Le Cellier Steakhouse: This popular restaurant in Canada will hold three festive seatings.

World Showplace: This unique venue will offer a buffet dinner (4:30-10:30PM) and dancing.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom will feature Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season at 9PM with a special presentation of Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks at 11:50PM.

Tomorrrowland Terrace: This spot with excellent views of Cinderella’s Castle is offering a special ticketed dinner and fireworks party.

Wishes from the Dessert Party Vantage Point

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Enjoy an evening of dancing, music, and fireworks while touring this festive Disney theme park. Disney’s Hollywood Studios guests can rock in the New Year with Mulch, Sweat and Shears, the resident landscaping rock and roll band. Enjoy sets of classic rock and roll, special effects, a DJ spinning dance tracks, and fireworks. The party starts a 6PM.

Hollywood & Vine: Holiday buffet lunch and dinner meals.

Party with the Little Einsteins

Downtown Disney

Enjoy a festive atmosphere at Downtown Disney. Look for a DJ at the Cirque du Soleil Stage, Keith Park’s Living Statues, and special New Year’s Eve celebrations at House of Blues, Bongo’s Cuban Café, Paradiso 37, and Raglan Road.

DisneyQuest: Want to really impress the kids? Choose an evening of fun, games, music, and dancing at DisneyQuest featuring Wreck-It Ralph! With 5 floors of electronic games (innovative and classic), you’ll be able to play as you ring in the New Year from 8PM-1AM. You’ll have access to all of the DisneyQuest attractions and games, Disney character meet ‘n greets, a New Year’s Eve countdown, food, and refreshments for $55 in advance or $65 per person at the door. Call 407-934-7639 for tickets or visit the Box Office.

Splitsville: Bowl and dine at this fun entertainment complex. Watch for New Year’s specials.

Bongos: Check out this restaurant for New Year’s Eve specials.

Portobello: Holiday prix fixe menus available at lunch and dinner.

Raglan Road: Rings in the Irish New Year at 7PM, followed by a midnight celebration with complimentary champagne toast. Music starts at 6PM.

Dancing Podium and Live Music Stage at Raglan Road

Cirque du Soleil: Attend the 6 or 9PM shows.

House of Blues: Michael Ray and Jill’s Cashbox will take the stage on New Year’s Eve starting at 9:30PM. Cost is $27.

Resorts

Hang out at one of the amazing Disney resorts or [Read more…]

5 Must Eat Disney Snacks You Can Get Without a Park Ticket!

So, you’re in Disney World, but for whatever reason, you don’t want to use a park ticket that morning/night/afternoon/arrival day/leaving day. No problemo!!

You can still cross some of the best Disney snacks off your must-eat list…even without scanning a single ticket/magicband/key to the World card!

Everyone knows that you can get a Mickey Bar all over the place in Disney World (you DID know that, right?), but we’ve got a few more must-try eats to share with you today! Time to check out our 5 Must Eat Disney Snacks You Can Get Without a Park Ticket!

Dole Whip

UPDATE: Dole Whip is no longer being served at Captain Cook’s, is no longer self-serve, and is no longer available 24 hours a day. BUT — you still can get it outside of the Parks. You’ll now find Dole Whip at the Pineapple Lanai in Disney’s Polynesian Village. You can also get a Dole Whip Float at Pineapple Lanai!

Let’s start with the granddaddy of them all, the Big Kahuna of Disney Must Have Treats, the stuff that legends and t shirts are made of. Ladies and gentleman, we are talking about the Dole Whip here, of course.

This frosty, delicious treat has a bona fide cult following that has blown up and taken over mainstream! You simply cannot visit Disney without having one, whether it’s a float (my favorite!) or a cup.

Dole Whip

The pineapple soft serve, which is both vegan and gluten-free, is the perfect refreshing dessert on a sunshiny day!

Even though there are few things that say “I’m at Disney right now!!!!!!” more loud and proud than strolling through Magic Kingdom, Dole Whip Float from Aloha Isle in hand, it’s great to know that you don’t ever have to head into the parks to score one of these babies!

If you’re craving some of that tropical goodness and you aren’t on park time, just head over to Captain Cook’s Snack Company at Disney’s Polynesian Resort to get your fix! The Poly’s counter service spot is not only home to some deee-licious fast fare, but they also have Dole Whip machines that pump out the yum dessert.

Dole Whip (Almost) 24-7!

And here’s a BIG OL’ TIP: You can get a Dole Whip here all day…and all night!! long. :-D Note, they DO shut down the machine for, like, one hour each night to clean it (believe me, I’ve been disappointed during that one hour before); so just avoid the 3AM Dole Whip craving and you’re good to go.

Zebra Domes

Ah, Zebra Domes. How (much) do I love thee? Enough to truck all the way over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge regardless of where I’m staying, that’s how much.

These little half-spheres first called to us from the buffet of Boma, one of Animal Kingdom Lodge’s most celebrated table service restaurants. Sure, we love Boma for their exotic dinner fare (those soups!), their carved meats and interesting condiments, and their delicious breakfast spread. But one thing’s for sure: a trip here must end with at least one Zebra Dome.

A Herd of Zebra Domes

The creamy, rich mousse domes taste like nothing you’ve ever had. That’s because the secret special ingredient is [Read more…]

DIY Disney Recipe: Breakfast Pizza from Disney World’s Chef Mickey’s Restaurant

Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World serves up a breakfast buffet with “character” each morning. Welcome back guest chef Carol E. with a Do It Yourself Recipe for Chef Mickey’s Breakfast Pizza!

One of my favorite Disney pictures ever taken took place at a meal we had at Chef Mickey’s Restaurant inside the Contemporary Resort.

In our pictures, Pluto literally was eating my husband and Dale was fluffing up my hair…the looks on our faces were priceless. (Editor’s Note: Chip ‘n Dale are no longer appearing at Chef Mickey’s.)

This meal was definitely worth the price of admission thanks to all of our wonderful pictures and time that we got to spend with our favorite Disney friends! It’s also one of the rare places that you can actually get your picture taken with Mickey and Minnie together!

Kids love this place, because not only are Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald Duck there to hang out with you, but the buffet is filled with a ton of kid friendly favorites!

Pluto!

Dale!

Mickey and Minnie!

Breakfast is also a fun time to enjoy this unique restaurant! If you’ve been, you know one of the famous dishes on the buffet during breakfast with Mickey and friends is the classic Chef Mickey’s Breakfast Pizza! The creaminess of the eggs and the blend of cheeses make you feel like you are eating cheese fondue on a pizza. While kids love this dish, it also can be an adult favorite, too.

Well, I’m excited to tell you that Disney [Read more…]

Disney Recipe: Nudel Gratin from Epcot’s Germany Pavilion

It’s time for another delicious Disney recipe! And this one is seriously a MUST-TRY for any cheese addicts out there.

When it comes to Eating Around the World, an awesome family destination is the Germany Pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase. Their Biergarten Restaurant will trick you into thinking you’ve hopped a plane for Bavaria.

And a bounty of brand new delights await you if you haven’t been to Sommerfest, their counter service spot, in a while.

One of my favorite dishes on the Biergarten buffet is the amazing Nudel Gratin. This is one of the best versions of macaroni and cheese that I’ve ever tasted in my life.

So when it popped up on the Sommerfest menu, we had to try it.

Nudel Gratin at Sommerfest

But even better — now, I can make it between trips to Walt Disney World, thanks to this recipe! I know what we’re having for dinner tonight! :-)

Sommerfest and Biergarten Nudel Gratin

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients: [Read more…]