News! More Details and NEW Food Photos from the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Yesterday, we attended a media event for the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

We had the opportunity to speak to some of the chefs, check out some of the festival merchandise, and of course — taste a few 2013 Epcot Food and Wine dishes that we haven’t seen yet!

Today, we are happy to bring you a few more details from the event and share some of the pictures that we were able to capture. And stay tuned later in the article for details on new Epcot Food and Wine Festival merchandise (including this year’s cookbook!), find out what the heck that Vegetarian Haggis is going to be like, get gluten-free updates, and more!

Sneak Peek at Some NEW 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Booth Items

We began with a Griddled Lobster Tail with Garlic Herb Butter from the Hops & Barley Booth. The fresh lobster tails will be fully cooked within the marketplace booths, so guests will have the full experience of savoring the rich aroma as they’re grilled.

Griddled Lobster Tail with Garlic Herb Butter

I found the tail to be a good size, perfect for a small appetizer. And the Garlic Herb Butter enhanced the lobster’s flavor.

Another fun addition will be the Orange Dole Whip at Refreshment Port. The orange-flavored soft serve will be available by itself, or you can add Creme de Cacao White for a grown up creamsicle!

Orange Dole Whip with Cherry Man Farm to Market Maraschino

Incidentally, the smallest details matter here. Dole Whips are garnished with [Read more…]

New! Caramel Apple Stuffed French Toast at Cinderella’s Royal Table

A coveted reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table just got tastier!

Many guests opt for a breakfast inside the Castle, and now there’s a new menu item to enjoy — Caramel Apple Stuffed French Toast.

As if a walk down Main Street U.S.A. in the early morning isn’t exciting enough, actually getting to dine inside the iconic castle at the Magic Kingdom is seriously memorable.

Next time, you’re headed to dine with Disney royalty, check out this new breakfast menu item, which recently replaced the Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast.

Breakfast Menu - click image for larger version.

Reader Kristin fills us in on the details:
It was unbelievable! My daughter and I do this as a trip tradition, but I have always just passed off that we pay more for the location/characters. This meal made the price worth it! I had the french toast version back in 2008 and I couldn’t finish it. But this new version was [Read more…]

Review: 1900 Park Fare Dinner at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Today, we’re back at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa to take in dinner at 1900 Park Fare!

You  may remember that the last time we were here, we were…nonplussed…unimpressed…frustrated…should I go on? Basically, we really didn’t have a great experience. But, as I always say, the only consistent thing about Disney restaurants is that they’re inconsistent. And some guests think this restaurant is fantastic — a great alternative to hard-to-get advance dining reservations like Cinderella’s Royal Table.

So we’re back at this character buffet for another try… . While breakfast at 1900 Park Fare left us flat, this time around we’re checking out the dinner spread and hoping for the best!

Atmosphere

You’ll find 1900 Park Fare off of the ground floor lobby of the Grand Floridian Resort. As you walk in the hotel’s front doors, the restaurant is located to your left, just past the Concierge desk.

1900 Park Fare Sign

The antique carousel decor flows with the Victorian feel that you encounter throughout the resort. While you can’t see the individual items on this menu board that’s displayed out front of the restaurant, you can definitely see the attention to detail when it comes to theme.

Menu Board Outside of 1900 Park Fare

When you first arrive and check in for your reservation (you DID make a reservation, right?), you’ll be given a pager and told to wait in the Grand Floridian lobby to be called when your table is ready. Note: this often takes A. LONG. TIME. In my experience, I’ve never been seated at this restaurant within 10 minutes of my reservation time. I’m always waiting quite a while to be called to the table. So if you’ve got little ones who are starving, bring some snacks to tide them over just in case.

Once you’re called, you’ll be told to get in line to have your picture taken with this mural. No…you’re not getting your photo taken with a character. Just with the mural. This can be a fun memory for families, but you might want to skip the pic and head straight in for your meal. Be persistent and make sure they know you don’t want to take the photo. They’re pretty serious about getting you into that line.

Trompe l'Oeil Mural Outside of 1900 Park Fare

Once you head into the massive dining room, you’re greeted with more Victorian charm in pastel shades. Even without windows, the sheer size of the dining room makes it feel airy.

There is a main area with high ceilings in front of the buffet, and some smaller dining rooms surrounding it with lower ceilings. I prefer these areas for seating, since they tend to be slightly quieter.

Dining Area

Seating itself is fairly standard, with cushioned chairs and nondescript tables.

Seating

The main dining room makes the best use of the carousel theme. There are several large statues of fantasy carousel animals situated atop half walls and surrounded by plants. You should take a moment to look at these, because they’re really beautiful.

Calliope in the Background and Carousel Horse Statue

The wall overtop the entrance to the restaurant plays host to an enormous calliope, reminiscent of the intricate musical instruments that you find on antique carousels. This [Read more…]

News! Changes to Disney World Tables in Wonderland Dining Discounts for 2014

We’ve got some news about one of Disney World’s popular dining discounts!

Tables in Wonderland, Walt Disney World’s fee-based dining discount program offered to Florida residents, Annual Passholders, and Disney Vacation Club members, is a great way to save money if you are a frequent diner at Walt Disney World.

The program offers 20% savings on food and beverages, including alcoholic beverages, at more than 100 Walt Disney World restaurants.

Today, we’re getting news of an update to restaurants that will either stop offering the Tables in Wonderland discount in the near future, or will be subject to more blackout dates when using the card.

Victoria and Albert’s to Discontinue Offering Tables in Wonderland Discount

According to the Tables in Wonderland website, Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa will continue to honor the Tables in Wonderland discount through July 14, 2014. However, as of August 1, 2014, the ultra-luxurious dining spot will no longer accept the Tables in Wonderland card.

Victoria and Albert's Main Dining Room

Currently, Tables in Wonderland members may still [Read more…]

Review: Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot’s Norway Pavilion

Ready to meet some Disney princesses?!? We’re headed over to check out lunch at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot!

Akershus offers a terrific alternative to the extremely hard-to-get advance dining reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table. A mainstay of World Showcase’s Norway Pavilion, the grand restaurant offers old world Scandinavian charm and character dining encounters with a cast of Disney Princesses.

You still get to eat in a castle (albeit a much smaller one), and you still get to meet at least five Disney princesses. (Cinderella is usually included.) Plus, the price is going to be quite a bit lower than it is in Cinderella Castle. Time to take a closer look.

Atmosphere

Located to the right as you make your way back through the Norway Pavilion, Akershus is is situated across from Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe, Norway’s charming counter service location.

Akershus Sign

The inside (once you GET inside…more on that later) offers a welcome respite from the bright, hot Florida sunshine. Immediately upon entering, you pick up on the medieval decor. Heavy, ornately carved wooden “thrones” can be found in the entryway.

Akershus is modeled after a medieval castle outside of Norway’s capital city, Oslo. The fortress was completed in the 14th century, and the interior features the same white walls as the Disney replica.

Entryway

The whitewashed stone walls lend to the cheerful, cool feeling. The low windows look out on the pavilion and allow for lots of natural light to flood the pretty space.

First Dining Room and Seating

In the main dining room, you get a real sense of the [Read more…]

Review: Chef Mickey’s Dinner at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort

It has been too long since I’ve taken a trip to Chef Mickey’s in Disney World’s Contemporary Resort!

We’ve shared with you our review of their breakfast buffet. But today, we’re heading there to see what’s new for dinner!

When many people think about a Disney character dining experience”, they immediately think of Chef Mickey’s. This one has it all — the Fab Five, a sprawling buffet of family-friendly foods, regular raucous celebrations, and monorails whizzing by.

But in the past, the food has had a reputation for being a little lackluster. Time to see how things are looking these days… . We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started!

Atmosphere

One of the coolest things about Chef Mickey’s is its location. You’ll find this well-known character meal at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Chef Mickey's Sign

This place is a stone’s throw from the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, which makes it a great place to stop and eat before heading into the park, or after a long day of rides and attractions.

Once you enter the hotel’s main floor lobby, take the elevator to the fourth floor. Chef Mickey’s is located on the south end of the concourse, right below where the Disney World monorail enters the building. (You can also arrive at the Contemporary via said monorail, of course — in which case you’d take an escalator down to the 4th floor).

The Grand Canyon Concourse at the Contemporary

Head to the central desk to let the hostess know that your party has arrived. You can’t miss it — Mickey is smiling down with his fork and spoon, ready to greet you!

Central Desk Check-In

If your table isn’t quite ready, you can wait until your party is paged in this comfortable seating area. This spot features a view of Bay Lake and the resort’s pool patio — and offers plenty of room for running off excess energy.

Waiting Area

Before you’re seated, your party will [Read more…]

Review: Cinderella’s Royal Table Dinner in the Magic Kingdom

Gather, Subjects of the Royal Kingdom! It’s time to head to the castle for the dinner feast at Cinderella’s Royal Table!

Eating INSIDE Cinderella Castle is a quintessential experience for guests who visit Walt Disney World. After all, the castle has served as the icon for Disney itself in the past, and is the symbol for Disney World’s flagship park, Magic Kingdom.

Any guest visiting Magic Kingdom, whether they are 4 or 94, has dreamed of seeing inside the majestic building. Dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table gives you the best taste of the royal residence itself. Plus,  you get an audience with Cinderella herself as well as her Princess friends.

This is the type of experience that Disney dreams are made of. As such, an advance dining reservation here continues to be a tough one to score. While it may be a little easier to get now that Be Our Guest Restaurant is open and pulling lots of guests in, you should still plan to call 180 days out if you hope to secure a table.

We thoroughly enjoyed breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table a while back. Time to see if dinner still measures up to that experience (I hadn’t been here for dinner in ages)! But first, let’s take a look around.

Atmosphere

Inspired by some of Europe’s most beautiful castles (plus the fortress from a certain animated feature film we all love), the interior of Cinderella Castle is every bit as grandiose as the outside.

The Grand Hall

The Grand Hall and waiting area lends a great deal of happy anticipation to the experience. Only guests with advance dining reservations — apologies, but no prying eyes permitted — are allowed beyond the heavy double wooden doors that lead into the Grand Hall.

And once you’re there, you’ll have an opportunity to visit with Cinderella for a bit as she welcomes you into her home.

We were really fortunate to capture some great shots of the hall while it was empty. Here, you can see the weaponry and shields that adorn the stone walls. Heavy chandeliers and Gothic arches punctuate the scene. Seating in the hall is available while you await your visit with Cinderella and your admittance into the dining room.The low benches are plush and comfortable.

Entry Hall Seating and the Elevator to the Dining Room

Here’s your chance to [Read more…]

Disney Recipe: Strawberry Soup from Disney World’s 1900 Park Fare

Some dishes are the stuff of Disney legends.

If friends tell you they’re dining in at ‘Ohana, for instance, the first words out of my mouth are “save room for dessert! You’ve gotta try the bread pudding!”

The same certainly goes for 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

While our experiences here have been varied, many readers love the place! And one dish I agree is outstanding is the cold Strawberry Soup.

Creamy, sweet, and beautifully bright pink, the soup beckons to you, and you just know you must try it. Of course, it’s hard to describe this. I’m usually not a fan of cold soup, but I couldn’t get enough of this one!

The enormous bowl of bright red strawberries, to be used as a garnish, sweetens the deal.

Strawberry Soup on 1900 Park Fare's Buffet

The first time I tried the soup, I knew that [Read more…]

56 Must-Read Disney Dining Secrets from Disney Food Blog

Disney may be the Happiest Place on Earth, but nothing can wreck the happy faster than poor planning.

This is especially true when it comes to one of the most important parts of your trip — eating!

After decades of Disney dining, we’ve perfected some expert tips and advice to get the most out of  your Disney World visit.

Today, we’re sharing our 56 Must-Read Disney Dining Secrets to ensure that you have the magical visit of your dreams!

Top Disney Dining Secrets

Let’s get started!

1. Make dining reservations. Even if you don’t follow any other piece of advice, we can’t say this emphatically enough. To fully appreciate the truly entertaining and delicious array of Disney Dining offerings, you must make advanced dining reservations. If you wait until you arrive at Disney to make table service arrangements, you may miss out on many of your top picks because they will be booked.

Book Dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant 180 Days in Advance to Guarantee a Table

2. BYOP (Bring  Your Own Pepsi). Yep. Those of you who are die-hard Pepsi drinkers will be sad to note that any and all Disney establishments will not carry Pepsi products. It’s a Coke-only zone here! So either bring your own Pepsi, or plan to take a trip to a nearby gas station, convenience store, grocery store, or drug store to pick up your stash. You can also order it and have it delivered directly to your hotel from Garden Grocer.

No Pepsi Here.

3. Don’t miss the must-eat items! After years of eating Disney goodies, we here at Disney Food Blog have amassed quite a list of “must-eat” treats in Disney parks and resorts. Cult favorites like Dole Whip Floats, Zebra Domes, School Bread, and Mickey Bars are high priority when you’re visiting the Happiest Place on Earth. To read up on our favorites, head over to our Best Disney World Restaurants Page for some great “Best Of” posts like Best Cookie Snacks in Disney World, favorite Disney ice cold snacks, Disney’s best grilled cheese, and more! And if you’re headed to Disney World for the first time, you must read our Best Disney Restaurants for First-Timers article — very helpful!

Dole Whip Float! A Must-Eat snack for every Disney guest.

4. Make your reservations 180 days prior to your visit whenever possible. Nope — it’s not enough to just make reservations; you need to make them as early as possible. For most restaurants, that’s 180 days prior to the date you’re seeking. If you’re staying in a Disney hotel, you can book all of your reservations for up to 10 days beginning exactly 180 days before the first day of your trip.

5. Don’t pay for food you don’t want. One of my favorite Disney Dining tips is to be a squeaky wheel when you need to be. Disney is very good at customizing meals, and at counter-service restaurants, your customized meal might even save you some money! For example, [Read more…]

The Most Popular Disney World Restaurants (and Alternatives When They’re Full)

Many Disney guests agree that the most important Disney Dining Tips lists include one specific piece of advice:

Making Advance Dining Reservations is an absolute must when it comes to planning.

While many seasoned Disney travelers are aware of this, there are lots of folks who visit the parks and are stunned to find no tables available at their top restaurant choices. Don’t worry, it happens to all of us at one time or another…and we’ve got solutions for you!

Today, we’ve updated our list of the most popular Disney restaurants, and terrific alternatives if you can’t score a table at your coveted spot!

Let’s take a look at the most elusive restaurants to book these days…

Dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Scoring an advance dining reservation at Be Our Guest Restaurant for their table service dinner can be a daunting task.

Be Our Guest Restaurant Ballroom Dining Room

From the time that they first announced the restaurant’s soft opening until now, we have heard from many readers who haven’t been able to secure a spot at Magic Kingdom’s newest restaurant. Here are a couple of reasons why:

Newness: The biggest reason for this remains the novelty of the place. Be Our Guest and all of New Fantasyland is still the hottest ticket in Walt Disney World since its grand opening in December 2012.

Incredible, Immersive Themeing: The impeccable themeing means that stepping into Beast’s Castle is truly like climbing through a portal into Beauty and the Beast. You almost expect to look down and find your food animated!

The Grey Stuff -- It's Delicious!

Novelty: The French-inspired cuisine that’s served at Be Our Guest is unlike anything else available in all of Magic Kingdom. In addition, there is huge novelty surrounding the fact that you can now order beer and wine in the formerly dry Magic Kingdom (for dinner only).

So, what to do if you can’t [Read more…]