Review: Dinner at Garden Grill Restaurant in Disney World’s Epcot

We’re heading back to Epcot’s Future World for dinner at Garden Grill Restaurant!

This is a DFB favorite, and it comes together as Chip ‘n Dale’s Harvest Feast. The dinner features an all-you-care-to-eat meal served Family Style.

If you’ve ever shied away from eating in Future World in favor of the more varied cuisine available in World Showcase, it may be time to give Disney World’s only rotating restaurant a chance.

Please join me, Chip ‘n Dale, Pluto, and the main Mouse himself (MICKEY!) at the Harvest Feast for some food and fun!

Garden Grill Sign

Garden Grill Sign

The Atmosphere

The atmosphere? Well, that depends… You see, the Garden Grill rotates over the various scenes of the Living with the Land attraction, so what you see depends on where in the rotation you are in the moment.

It takes about one hour to make the full rotation, so it’s slow enough that you don’t really notice the feel of it while you are dining — at least, I didn’t. I was too busy enjoying the views!  Take a look…

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill -- The Farmhouse

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill — The Farmhouse

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill -- The Farmhouse

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill — The Farmhouse Dog!

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill -- Rainforest

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill — Rainforest

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Garden Grill Mural

Garden Grill Mural

We enjoyed all of this from our table on the lower level of this two-level restaurant. It’s definitely a score if you are seated on the lower level, which is fashioned with booths as opposed to the chairs and tables on the upper level.

Garden Grill booth

Garden Grill booth

The booths provide more of a “front row seat” experience for the attraction, so it’s worth asking at check-in to see if you can get one. I wasn’t expecting a booth since it was just my husband and me, but several of the booths are divided with drop-leaf tables, allowing for a larger family on one side, and a pair on the other. The drop-leaf, of course, can be raised to accommodate a larger group, if needed.

Larger Booth -- Family Side

Larger Booth — Family Side

Larger Booth -- Side for a pair

Larger Booth — Side for a pair

Of course, the special touches are in full effect here — check out this table setting! Remind you of a certain character?

Mickey Table Setting :)

Mickey Table Setting :)

Speaking of… The one thing with the ability to distract you from the attraction views is… well, it’s actually FOUR things: the Characters!

Here’s Chip striking a pose in front of the Prairie Desert.

Chip strikes a pose

Chip strikes a pose

Pluto stopped by to say “Hello!”

Pluto!

Pluto!

Dale plotted how he might sneak some of our food…

Dale Plotting...

Dale Plotting…

… but I informed him it was people food, and not well-suited for chipmunks. (That makes for a sad chipmunk!)

Sad Dale

Sad Dale

Okay, this next shot is not a shining example of terrific photography ;) . But I hope it conveys that moment of excitement when you first spot THE EARS over a nearby booth (c’mon, you can admit it!), and realize who will be at your table shortly…

EARS!

EARS!

Farmer Mickey Mouse — in OVERALLS, no less!!!

Farmer Mickey

Farmer Mickey

At the start of the meal, I was a bit [Read more…]

News!! Star Wars Themed Character Meals at Disney World During Star Wars Weekends

Yes. You heard us correctly.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will feature new Star Wars themed character meals for a limited time only!

When Star Wars Character Meals begin on May 4th, dinner at the Hollywood & Vine restaurant and breakfast at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater will offer these galactic experiences through June 15, 2014. Note that the character meals are available all week — not just on weekends!

Star Wars Themed Character Meals

Meet These Awesome Friends at Star Wars Themed Character Meals This Year!

Booking begins March 26! These will be popular so we recommend dialing (407) 939-5277 at lightspeed.

The Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine

At Hollywood and Vine, dinner will feature Disney characters wearing their Star Wars best! You may get the chance to meet Ewok Chip & Dale, Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy, and/or Stormtrooper Donald. Dinner seatings start at 4:15pm and go until park close (8pm-9:30pm) for $55.99 adults and $33.99 kids 3-9.

Make your Star Wars experience extra special with a Fantasmic dinner package for adults $59.99; kids 3-9 are $36.99. The meals include a digital download of a photograph with Chip and Dale! Sweet.

Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast

Sci-Fi will offer breakfast reservations from 8am until noon — so fun! The cost is $47.99 for adults and $29.99 for young padawans. This also includes a digital photo of your party on a commemorative PhotoPass card.

Characters for breakfast include Stormtroopers, Jawa, Greedo, Boba Fett, and DARTH VADER.

Share yer waffles with this guy!

Share yer waffles with this guy!

Instead of the usual science fiction movie clips, the restaurant’s big screen will feature

[Read more…]

Six Secret Disney Dining Deals

Everyone’s looking to save money and to wring just a little bit more enjoyment out of their Disney dollars. We’re right there with you!

Six Secret Disney Dining Deals

So today, we’re bringing you the details on some of our favorite Disney Dining Deals!

These little-known tricks and tips could save you big on your next Disney World vacation, so let’s get planning!

Prix-Fixe Menus

One of my favorite ways to save a little dough around Disney World is by taking advantage of Prix-Fixe Meals — specialty multi-course menus that let you choose from a variety of the restaurant’s popular dishes for a discounted price.  While you’ll find them here and there in a number of places, lots of Epcot World Showcase restaurants offer them.

For real savings, check out the prix-fixe offering at Les Chefs de France in the France Pavilion.

This beautiful spot is one of my favorite places to dine in all of Disney World anyway, so saving money is a great perk.

Les Chefs de France in Epcot

Les Chefs de France in Epcot

Prix-Fixe Menu at Les Chefs de France -- Click to Enlarge

Prix-Fixe Menu at Les Chefs de France — Click to Enlarge

When you compare the price with the a la carte prices for each item, you can really see the savings!

Appetizers -- Click to Enlarge

Appetizers — Click to Enlarge

Entrees -- Click to Enlarge

Entrees — Click to Enlarge

With desserts set at $8.99, that’s a $7 savings!

Enjoy fan favorites, like Bisque de Homard and the Croque Monsieur. And you have your pick of dessert! We love the Profiteroles here!

Save Room for the Profiteroles!

We Pick Profiteroles!

The savings are a little slimmer at [Read more…]

DFB Reader Questions Answered: Celebrating Your Child’s Birthday at Walt Disney World

Today, we’re reaching into our mailbag to answer another reader question! Since we often get the same question from several of our readers, what better way to share the answers than in a post for all of you to see?

Today’s question comes from a mom who plans to celebrate her young son’s birthday in style during an upcoming trip to Walt Disney World.

I was interested in having my son’s 7th birthday in Disney World. I want an awesome cake and I would like Mickey as well as some other characters to be there. Do you have any information regarding how to arrange this?

When it comes to celebrating a birthday (or any special occasion) at Walt Disney World, you have lots of options!

BIrthday Party at Disney World for a DFB Reader!

BIrthday Party at Disney World for a DFB Reader!

Character Dining

You could choose to make a reservation at a character meal experience, like Chef Mickey’s, 1900 Park Fare, or Crystal Palace. Character dining spots such as these feature interaction with several Disney characters, who will visit with you at your table as you dine for no extra charge. It’s a great opportunity for photo ops. And no standing in line — they come to you!

In many Disney restaurants, if you mention that you’re celebrating a birthday to your server, they’ll arrange for a special birthday treat!

Spontaneous Birthday Treat at Citricos

Restaurant Cakes

Most table-service restaurants at Walt Disney World can accommodate an on-the-spot birthday cake request. Simply let the host or hostess at the restaurant’s podium know that you’d like a cake for your celebration, and they can provide you with a choice of a basic vanilla or chocolate cake.

Customized Cakes

Customized birthday cakes are available throughout Walt Disney World at most table-service restaurants.

Chip 'n Dale Cake at California Grill

Chip ‘n Dale Cake at California Grill for a DFB Reader

The resort asks that you provide 48 hours notice to create your custom cake. To arrange for a Disney bakery cake, call 407-827-2253. For all the skinny on ordering your Disney special occasion cake, be sure to check out our Disney World Cake FAQ page.

Don’t forget to check out our Disney Birthday Cake Gallery for [Read more…]

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: 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…]

Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins Join Play ‘n Dine at Hollywood and Vine!

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Announcing the arrival of young royal Sofia the First to Hollywood and Vine at Hollywood Studios… and joining Her Highness is fellow Disney Junior star, Doc McStuffins!

Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First

Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First

Hollywood and Vine

Hollywood and Vine

That’s right! Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins have joined their pals Jake from “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” and (AJ’s favorite :-D ) Handy Manny for the Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine character meal.

AJ's Favorite! Handy Manny at Hollywood and Vine Restaurant

AJ’s Favorite! Handy Manny at Hollywood and Vine Restaurant

Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates

Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates

Not only do the characters mix and mingle, but Play n’ Dine also features “musical moments” where all the kids are invited to sing and dance along (while Mom and Dad can keep on eating)!

Sofia and Doc McStuffins bring a few new [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…]

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…]