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…]

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Review: Sweet Sundays with Celebrity Chef Carla Hall

DFB reporter James Armstrong recently attended Sweet Sundays with celebrity chef Carla Hall (co-host of The Chew and Top Chef Alum) during the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! Let’s check out his review!

The two hour event was divided up into two parts: the first hour consisted of the Sunday Brunch and the second was the celebrity chef demonstration. Upon arrival at 9:30am, we lined up for our table assignments. Doors opened promptly at 10am.

Table assignments

Each assigned table sat approximately six guests with seats on a first come first serve basis. The tables were set with pre-made yogurt parfaits and orange juice.

Once most of the guests had arrived, waiters began escorting each table to the buffet in an orderly “one table at a time” fashion.

Buffet overview

Buffet

Sweet Sundays Brunch

The brunch portion of the event started with some standard buffet items — croissants and strawberry cheese danish. They were good but there was nothing exceptional about them. The croissant was flaky and buttery.

Overview of buffet

There was also fresh raspberries and blueberries [provided by Driscoll’s one of the Festival sponsors]. They were very sweet and at the height of their ripeness.

Raspberries and blueberries

A favorite part of the buffet was the [Read more…]

Review: Trail’s End Restaurant at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

It’s been a while since I’ve slept in a camper, cabin, or tent, but that doesn’t stop me from loving Trail’s End Restaurant!

Located at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, the down-home spot is one of my favorites for many reasons — but delicious food and reasonable prices top the list.

While I love lunch and dinner at Trail’s End, I hadn’t visited for breakfast before, so I decided it was time to do just that on a recent trip.

Atmosphere

Getting to Trail’s End is half the adventure. It’s located waaaay at the back of the resort, in the area known as the Settlement.

Now, wait. To be fair, adventure is kind of a generous word. It’s actually kind of a pain to get here. Maybe that’s why I like it so much — it’s rarely too packed!

If you’re coming here via bus from a theme park, or via your own car, you’ll park way up at the front of Fort Wilderness and have to take some internal buses to get back to the Settlement. That’s why I prefer to get to Trail’s End and the other Fort Wilderness restaurants via boat from Magic Kingdom, Wilderness Lodge, or the Contemporary — much less intensive on the travel end, and more enjoyable as well.

On this morning we took the bus, so we had some sight-seeing to do on our way from the bus stop back to Trail’s End… .

Welcome to the Settlement!

It’s not uncommon to see horses at Fort Wilderness, where there are carriage and wagon rides available.

Ft. Wilderness Activities

Pioneer Hall shares space with our destination. I love this place! It looks like a giant log cabin. The surrounding by tall pines and live oaks dripping in Spanish moss really give it the feeling of a pioneer settlement.

Pioneer Hall

Pioneer Hall is home to several popular destinations at Fort Wilderness. You’ll find Mickey’s Backyard BBQ close by. But it’s also where you’ll head for an evening of down home fun at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue!

Pioneer Hall -- Up Close

Just past the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue venue, you’ll find our destination for the morning — Trail’s End table-service restaurant. This location shares [Read more…]

Review: Breakfast at Boma in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Mention that you’re looking for a breakfast restaurant during a stay at Walt Disney World, and you are bound to be met with this piece of advice: “You MUST go to Boma.”

It’s true! This buffet restaurant is among the most favorite options for lovers of Disney food, myself included. We’ve even named it as one of our most favorite Disney brunch destinations!

But even though dinner offers an amazing spread, your Disney friends will tell you that breakfast is the “can’t miss” meal here.

It was a shock to me when I realized that I had never actually reviewed this all-important meal on the blog! Time to remedy that right now!

Atmosphere

Boma is located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. You’ll find it below the lobby on the ground floor, adjacent to other AKL restaurants The Mara and Jiko.

There’s one pretty important distinction that sets Boma apart from other very popular buffets at Disney. Many of the others are primarily character dining experiences. But you won’t find any characters at Boma. That’s an important detail to keep in mind when planning your advance dining reservations.

Boma Background Information

“Boma” is actually an African term for a fence made of sticks that forms a safe enclosure for gathering. Throughout the entrance of the restaurant, you see the stick fence motif captured in different materials.

Here, Imagineers used wrought iron to line the bridged walkway leading into the space.

Entrance to Boma

Beautiful statuary decorates the low wall that separates the buffet from the seating area.

Statuary and Decor

Ceilings are lined with large pieces of [Read more…]

Review: Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club Resort

We are heading to the quaint New England shore today for a breakfast buffet at Cape May Cafe!

The expansive restaurant, located at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, is a favorite among guests for a couple of reasons: 1.) You get to see Minnie, Donald, and Goofy in their BATHING SUITS! SO FUN! (OK, that sounds weird as I read it over, but you know what I mean, right?), 2.) It’s slightly easier to get an advance dining reservation here than at one of the other, more well-known character breakfasts, like Chef Mickey’s or Crystal Palace.

We hadn’t been back to Cape May for breakfast in quite a while, so on a recent trip, we headed over one morning pre-park with AJ’s Mom and AJ’s Dad to see what was new.

Atmosphere

You enjoy the same open, airy feeling at Cape May that you sense throughout the rest of the Beach Club Resort. The stick-style architecture (I totally learned that from Samantha Brown back when she was doing “Great Hotels” on the Travel Channel…remember?) brings to mind Victorian beach house themes.

Entrance

Check in at the podium, and soon you’ll be making your way to one of two dining rooms — a large main room, or a smaller one adjacent to the restaurant’s entrance. I much prefer the large main dining room since it has a lot more to look at and has slightly easier access to the buffet. ;-)

Check In Area

The palette is pastel, and vintage-style beach umbrellas and chairs adorn the space to drive home the seaside feeling. The colorful carpet depicts beach umbrellas, too.

Seating

Seating is comfortable, with a mixture of [Read more…]