Review: Starbucks Evenings Menu at Disney World’s Disney Springs

It wasn’t too long ago that Starbucks didn’t exist in the Disney Universe.

But although the coffee giant’s presence in Disney Parks has caused quite a bit of heated debate, their popularity is undeniable. And recently, the company has begun piloting a new evening menu, which is meant to appeal to those who are looking for a place to gather after 4PM. Not only does the menu include a select list of Wine and Beer, but there are also Small Plates available — perfect for sharing.

I say “piloting” because the concept is only available in about 30 stores in the US, primarily in large metropolitan areas. More locations are expected to be announced.

And if you are a Starbucks and Disney lover, then you’re in luck, because the Downtown Disney Orlando West Side location is one of the stores that offer the evening menu!

I was intrigued by the whole concept of getting a glass of wine and a snack at a spot that’s normally reserved for meeting my tea and (very rarely) coffee needs. So on a recent trip to Disney World, I decided that I had to check it out.

Atmosphere

And there it is! Starbucks. Complete with a hole in its roof for a palm tree to grow through!

downtown disney west side starbucks orlando (5)

Starbucks Entrance

You walk into a familiar site — a rope set up for the typical queue. That queue is usually pretty full, too.

Queue for the ordering counter

Queue for the ordering counter

Not only is this a massive Starbucks location, but it’s also a Reserve Location, which means you can enjoy rare, small batch offerings of some of the world’s rarest beans. Definitely check it out if you’re a coffee lover. Wendy shared her experience in our full review here.

Reserve Coffee Counter

Reserve Coffee Counter

Looking for a place to sit for a spell? You have plenty of options. From communal seating, to cozy tables for two, you’re likely to find a spot, even at busy times.

Seating at the Reserve Coffee Counter

Seating at the Reserve Coffee Counter

Indoor seating

Indoor seating

Large table

Large table

Don’t you love the bench seating against this picture window? It’s one of my favorite spots.

Indoor seating

Indoor seating

Murals that look like chalk drawings depict coffee growing regions across the globe.

Mural

Mural

Be sure to stop by the interactive screen and check out the action at the Starbucks in Downtown Disney in Anaheim!

Interactive Screen

Interactive Screen

There are also really beautiful water views from the inside seating area and the shaded patio area.

Window wall

Window wall

But the outside area also has another great focal point — a “live” wall and a glassed-in fireplace.

Outdoor seating

Outdoor seating

Fireplace

Fireplace

Now that we’ve looked around a bit, let’s head back in and take a closer look at the Starbucks Evenings menu.

Eats

Wanting to sample the Evenings menu? Head to Downtown Disney West Side at 4:00PM, when service expands to include [Read more…]

DFB Challenge: The Walt Disney World Beer Crawl

Alrighty, Guys — it’s time for another fun Disney Food Blog Challenge. And this one is definitely for the grown ups!

Everyone’s aware that craft Beer has become increasingly popular. Sure, through the years, you always had the garden variety options…

Lovely Beer!

Lovely Beer!

But these days, Craft Beers and International Selections are where it’s at. So we thought that it was high time we take a closer look at some of the interesting beer that you can get throughout Walt Disney World.

In the interest of interactive fun, we decided to come up with another DFB Food — er, Beverage — Crawl, dedicated to the world of beer, and all that it encompasses.

And we know that there are LOTS of you out there who are serious about your study and research of this important subject. We are in it for the fun. ;-) So we definitely want YOUR comments below on what you think the Can’t Miss Beers of Walt Disney World are!

Because this is a rather weighty subject, we’ll spread it out over a 3 day visit. But feel free to consolidate as your tolerance level allows.

Grab some beer nuts, and let’s go!

Day One: Explore Epcot

We’ll start our 3-day Beer Crawl in the best place for sampling a wide variety of food and drink — Epcot!

When beer is the main attraction of the day, it’s a good idea to get some sustenance first thing. We love to enter Epcot via the International Gateway Entrance and start our day with a stop in Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in the France Pavilion for a petit déjeuner of French Pastries and Coffee or Chocolat Chaud.

We especially love the Frangipane Triangles!

Frangipane -- Cross Section

Frangipane — Cross Section

If you’d like a full-on breakfast platter-type situation, head to Sunshine Seasons (although the Croissant Berry Bread Pudding gets our vote).

Fueled up and ready to go, it’s time to hit World Showcase!

Moosehead in the Canada Pavilion

We all have our traditions, and one that we love to embrace is the First Beer of the Day in Epcot. And that honor almost always goes to Moosehead as we begin our Drinking Journey around the World! Find it at the Canada Beer Stand located near the entrance to Le Cellier Steakhouse.

The beer offerings in Canada

Stroll the area, making time to check out the Totem Poles before you head to your next stop.

Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room in the UK Pavilion

With a small breakfast and your first brew under your belt, it’s time to stop for lunch and more beer in one of our favorite Epcot dining spots.

The Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room in the UK Pavilion offers a wide array of beer and cider from the British Isles. Make your advance dining reservation ahead of time for a sit down meal, or take a gamble with finding a spot in the pub (it can get pretty crowded in there). Note that you can also get beers at a counter outside the restaurant and pub.

Sampling British beers is your goal here, so we recommend the Imperial Sampler, which normally includes pours of Bass, Harp, Strongbow, Boddington’s, and Guinness.

Imperial Sampler

Alternatively, you can choose from a long list of Pub Blends, which are half-and-half mixes of some of the beer on tap. You’ll never go wrong with a Black and Tan — half Bass Ale and half Guinness.

Of course, if you have a favorite beer among those on tap, enjoy a pint of that one instead. We especially love to order a Guinness, served with its famous Shamrock Head!

Shamrock Design on Top of Guinness

And if you visit on a weekday, don’t forget to say “hello” to Carl the Bartender!

Japan

With a little lunch under your belt, it’s time to hit up the Japan Pavilion for another unique stop on your beer tour. Kirin Frozen Beer comes with a fluffy, semi-frozen head that keeps your beer cold a little longer in that warm Florida sun.

While the picture below is from Tokyo Dining, you can also get a portable version in a plastic cup at Kabuki Cafe.

Frozen Kirin Beer in Epcot's Japan

Frozen Kirin Beer in Epcot’s Japan

Take in some time listening to the drummers or checking out the [Read more…]

News: Pomegranate Margarita Updated at La Cava del Tequila in Epcot

Fun news today out of one of our favorite watering holes — La Cava del Tequila.

Seems that the great group of margarita artistes are at it again.

This time, they aren’t debuting something brand new, like their newest must-have Tamarind Margarita. Nor are they bringing back another old favorite, like the Hibiscus Margarita, for a limited time. (Get it now during the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. Hurry!)

No — today, we’re reporting on a revamped favorite. The Pomegranate Margarita, it seems, has received a little attention, and the recipe has been updated. Think of it as the Pom 2.0, if you will.

La Cava Has Changed Up the Recipe for Their Pomegranate Margarita!

La Cava Has Changed Up the Recipe for Their Pomegranate Margarita!

The new version even incorporates [Read more…]

News! Starbucks “You Are Here” Mugs For Sale Again in Epcot

They’re finally back!

All of you who love to collect the popular Starbucks “You Are Here” Mugs can now finally add the Epcot Cup to your collection. The mugs are once again being sold in the Fountain View Starbucks location in Walt Disney World’s Epcot.

New Epcot Starbucks "You Are Here" Mug, Featuring a Grey Monorail (Photo Credit Steven A. Miller)

New Epcot Starbucks “You Are Here” Mug, Featuring a Grey Monorail (Photo Credit Steven A. Miller)

Starbucks and Disney originally introduced the joint collaboration mugs earlier this year, and debuted versions for Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. (Disney’s Animal Kingdom will have a mug as well when the new Starbucks planned for that park opens soon.)

However, the Epcot mug was almost immediately removed from the shelves when it was noted that the monorail featured on the mug had a purple stripe in keeping with the cup’s color scheme. Monorail Purple was one of two trains involved in the 2009 fatal accident that took the life of pilot Austin Wuennenberg. After the accident, the train was retired.

Epcot "You Are Here" Mug

Original Epcot “You Are Here” Mug with Purple Monorail

When the mugs were removed, Disney and Starbucks promised to return an updated version to store shelves shortly. The new cups, which feature a [Read more…]

Disney Food Pics of the Week: Caramel Apples!

It’s always so fun to check out the great photos that our members post on the Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza, our Flickr group. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, head over there! We’ll take a virtual eating trip to Disney over work any day of the week. :-)

And today, we are all about just a few of the outrageous Caramel Apple options that you have all over the Disney Universe!

Snowman Caramel Apples

Snowman Caramel Apples

Let’s check out some of the most awesome examples of Caramel Apples that you can find all over Disney for this latest look at our Disney Food Pics of the Week Series!

Olaf Caramel Apples

Photographer: Joel Caceres

Whether or not you want to build a snowman, no doubt you’ll enjoy sinking your teeth into a monster-size Olaf Caramel Apple, one of the many Frozen foods we’ve seen this past year in the parks. His little Carrot Nose might just be my favorite part.

Olaf Caramel Apples

Olaf Caramel Apples

Classic Minnie Mouse Caramel Apples

Photographer: Kirsten Marie Hutton

But you also can’t go wrong with a classic, like the Minnie Mouse Caramel Apple. There is just something captivating about rows and rows of these beautiful and perfect Minnies! Underneath that layer of Rich Chocolate, you’ll find [Read more…]

2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Recipe: Burnt Ends Brisket Hash from the Smokehouse Outdoor Kitchen

Flowers are not all that’s blooming at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival! This event — which is happening right now through May 17 — combines the best of all things: Spring and some truly Awesome Dishes! (For a complete run down of our Must-Eat Treats from this year’s Festival, click here.)

epcot flower and garden logo

The deliciousness comes courtesy of the Outdoor Kitchens. The kiosks, situated throughout World Showcase, provide guests with the opportunity to taste some fresh flavors of the season as well as some regional fare.

The Smokehouse

Smokin’ at the Smokehouse

You’ll find fan favorite Smokehouse: Barbecues and Brews located in the America Pavilion, serving up delicious regional barbecue favorites. We love their Pulled Pig Slider with Coleslaw, their new-this-year Smoked Debreziner Sausage, and their Piggylicious Cupcake!

But they’ve also introduced a brand new flavor sensation: Burnt Ends Brisket Hash!

Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapeños from the Smokehouse Outdoor Kitchen

Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapeños from the Smokehouse Outdoor Kitchen

I was excited to see the dish at the Flower and Garden Festival. Hash is having kind of a moment (it’s that whole retro thing), and we absolutely loved the Nueske’s® Pepper Bacon Hash featured at Farm Fresh during last year’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

The dish is both delicious and thrifty: it’s a great way to use up those “burnt ends” that result from low and slow smoked brisket.

So if you find yourself barbecuing Texas-style — and really, who doesn’t?? — then give this one a try to use up leftovers. Personally, they had me at White Cheddar Fondue. :-)

Burnt Ends Brisket Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapeño Peppers

Smokehouse Outdoor Kitchen
Serves 4-6

Ingredients: [Read more…]

Spotted!: Cinnamon Sweet Churro Milkshake at Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Ah, Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner — this is why I lurve you. So much.

Min & Bill’s has introduced yet another killer seasonal milkshake that you and I MUST have.

If you’re scratching your head and saying, “Min and Bill’s? What? Where?” — you aren’t alone. It’s not that it’s hidden or anything; you just probably don’t expect much from this boat-as-a-food-destination.

But this often-overlooked spot can be a treasure trove of unique eats and drinks. I’ve been a fan of their Frankfurter in a Pretzel Roll (especially the Pretzel Roll part of the equation) forever.

Min and Bill's Dockside Diner at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

You probably remember that the last time I was here, I tried the Artisan Mac and Cheese options. The Barbecued Pulled Pork version was a total hit; the Buffalo Chicken Macaroni & Cheese, notsomuch.

But the seasonal shake that I tried that day, the Caramel Apple Milkshake, was fantastic. And now, there’s yet another crave-worthy option here.

Check out that awesomeness that is the Cinnamon Sweet Churro Milkshake. And just in time too — ’cause I hear that [Read more…]

News! Star Wars Weekends “Feel the Force” Package Reservations Now Available!

Star Wars Weekends continue to grow in popularity with the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens later this year. And Disney is answering the call by providing lots of premium experiences for guests to enjoy.

Feel the Force

Wanna hang out with this guy?

But the coolest Star Wars Weekends events in our opinion? The ones that involve food, of course!

We saw the introduction of Star Wars Dining Opportunities last year, as Disney introduced Star Wars Character Dining Experiences. Guests can choose from Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine (see our review here) or Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast at Sci-Fi (see a guest review here).

But today, we have news of another returning event. Set your cruisers to lightspeed and get ready to dial: Feel the Force Premium Packages are returning in 2015, and you can start booking them today!

The packages, which debuted in 2014, get you up close to all the action happening during Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. They are available Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during Star Wars Weekends, which take place this year from May 15 until June 14.

There are two different packages to choose from. Let’s check out what you get with each of them.

Feel the Force Premium Package

The Feel the Force Premium Package includes all of the following:

  • 11:00AM — Noon: Reserved viewing for the Legends of the Force: Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade. Guests will also enjoy a selection of Soft Drinks, Water, and a Snack.
  • Reserved seating for ONE of the Celebrity Talk Shows in Theater of the Stars. Show time will be selected at check-in. Please Note: there are a limited amount of seats per show and times are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • 9:00PM: “Symphony in the Stars” Fireworks Dessert Party, which includes Star Wars-themed desserts (think Yoda and Darth Vader Cupcakes — read our review of them here!) as well as Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Beverages. Guests also enjoy a reserved viewing location for the nightly “Symphony in the Stars” fireworks show.
Darth Vader and Yoda Cupcakes

Enjoy Darth Vader and Yoda Cupcakes to Your Heart’s Content!

The price for the Feel the Force Premium Packages is [Read more…]

Pics of the Week: Disneyland Dishes!

Whenever I’m in need of a trip to the Park that Started It All, but don’t have the time to jet off to California, I love to check out YOUR shots on Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza, our Flickr group. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, head over there! It’s the perfect way to get your extra Disney food fix. :-)

Today, I thought I’d share some of our best reader photos of favorite dishes in Disneyland.

Disneyland Dole Whip Float

Disneyland Dole Whip Float

Let’s take a closer look at a few of our favorites in this latest installment of our Disney Food Pics of the Week Series!

Frites and Mint Julep

Photographer: Michael Greening
There are a couple of different spots in Disneyland that I must check out every time I visit, and one of them is Cafe Orleans. A trip just wouldn’t feel complete with at least one Monte Cristo Sandwich, and an order of Frites to share (HA!). (Michael did it right here, with two sauces!) And while you’re at it, you have to try Disneyland’s famed Mint Juleps at least once!

A Stop at Cafe Orleans for Frites and a Mint Julep

A Stop at Cafe Orleans for Frites and a Mint Julep

Disneyland Corn Dogs

Photographer: Kirsten Marie Hutton
There was never a better caption for a pic — “It’s not a trip to Disneyland…” — without a stop at the Corn Dog Truck! Hand-Dipped Corn Dogs are one of the DL treats that is a [Read more…]

News! Aunt Polly’s is OPEN (for a limited time) in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Disney History buffs are going to love this news out of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom!

Cinderella Castle in the early morning light

More Fun Dining News Out of Magic Kingdom Today!

After a hiatus of, oh, about forever — it seems that Aunt Polly’s on Tom Sawyer Island is serving food and beverages once more!

This is one for the books! After all, it’s been eons since we’ve seen anything substantial for sale here. Even the vending machines that have been in place here in recent years hadn’t been in service.

But thanks to Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster for giving us the heads up that Theme Park Insider is reporting the spot is open for business!

Now, before you get too awfully excited, you should know that the menu is limited. Very limited. Make the trip over to Tom Sawyer Island looking for sustenance, and you’ll find Sandwiches (Turkey and PB&J), Veggies and Hummus, Chips, Fresh Fruit, and an Assortment of Cold Beverages, including Lemonade. Note that, at least for now, they are not offering fountain drinks.

While it doesn’t sound like much, there are two reasons to love this move by Disney: [Read more…]