Back to School Sale! DFB Disney World Dining Guidebook Discounts for a VERY Limited Time

Hey all! The kids are about to go back to school (not sure if you noticed), and we’ve got a great idea for how you can fill up all that extra time you’ll have (ha ha!!). How about reading up and planning your next Disney vacation! While your kids are looking over their new text books, grab your own reading from the DFB Team. ;)

Take a look at our Back to School Special — available now through Sunday, August 24th!!

For a limited time, you can enjoy $5 off of our DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2014 by using code School2014!

And you can scroll down to the end of the post for details on even more savings!

2014 dfb guide 3d cover

The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2014

Our fully guaranteed, comprehensive e-Book offers more than 450 full-color pages to help you plan your very best Disney World trip ever!

With reviews, tips, expert advice, and hundreds of color photographs, you’ll get the biggest bang for your planning buck! And our handy e-Book format has been completely updated for your 2014-15 Disney World vacation.

Inside the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2014, you’ll find:

  • Four free, downloadable worksheets for planning your trip. These worksheets are designed to help you execute all the steps of planning the perfect Disney dining experience. And they’re reusable for all of your future trips!
  • Seven sample one-day dining itineraries to help you start the planning process. There are hundreds of dining options in Disney World. These examples, which highlight particular theme parks, touring styles, and dietary needs, will help you get an idea of what a perfect dining day might look like for you and your family.
  • A full chapter on discounts to apply to your Disney Dining experiences.
  • A comprehensive index of bars and lounges. Disney Food Blog readers asked for this feature, and we were happy to make it happen! An often under-appreciated option for both dining and entertainment, we devote a whole index to the topic. Every single bar and lounge in Disney World is covered — and includes a review!
  • Details about how the My Magic+ Planning System and FastPass+ affect your vacation planning.
Sample Page from the 2014 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining

Sample Page from the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2014

  • Scavenger Hunts, Trivia, and Top 5 List updates to pass the time while you’re waiting in line.
  • Disney Food Bingo Cards — a whole new way to play with your Disney food!
  • Plus SO much more!

The best part? [Read more…]

Keep Up to Date — Subscribe to the Disney Food Blog Newsletter Today!

It’s an exciting time to be a fan of Disney Food!

DFB Newsletter

Our staff here at Disney Food Blog works hard to cover every facet of Disney Food — big and small. From reviews of every Disney restaurant to spotlights on snacks and beyond to special events like the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, we want to bring you all the latest!

But there’s so much to tell you that we can’t fit it all on the blog! And that’s where the Disney Food Blog Newsletter comes in handy.

We bring you issues twice each month, and each is packed with color photos, news, plus deals and offers.

And with the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival and the Fall and Winter Holidays right around the corner, it pays to be in the loop!

We Love Special Holiday- Themed Goodies!

We Love Special Holiday- Themed Goodies!

Don’t wait — sign up today and you’ll receive [Read more…]

Photo Tour and Food Review: Captain Cook’s Reopens at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

It’s quite the whirlwind of activity around the Polynesian lately!

Construction continues to affect the lobby, the Nanea Volcano pool, and the entrance of the resort… not to mention the recent name change back to Disney’s Polynesian Resort Village.

Slowly but surely, some results of all that work are starting to be seen, beginning with the newly reopened Captain Cook’s: the Polynesian’s Quick Service location. We gave you a tour of the temporary location when Captain Cook’s refurbishment began in April, and now we’re excited to share the results of the past four months with you!

Say “Aloha” once again to Captain Cook’s!

Atmosphere

The entrance feels very familiar… mainly because it’s the same ;) .

Entrance to Captain Cook's

Entrance to Captain Cook’s

Captain Cook's sign

Captain Cook’s sign

In fact, though, the entire location feels familiar since most changes are cosmetic (with a few exceptions that we’ll explore a little later).

If you’ve visited Captain Cook’s before, you’ll still know exactly where to go. Upon entering, you’re greeted by the main dining area.

Captain Cook's dining room

Captain Cook’s main dining room

Captain Cook's main dining room

Captain Cook’s main dining room

The breezy, palm-trees-swaying vibe has changed to a darker color palette, which is offset by two things: attractive light wood flooring and super fun vintage travel “posters.”

Samoa and Niue posters

Samoa and Niue posters

Bora Bora poster

Bora Bora poster

Tokelau poster

Tokelau poster

Tonga poster

Tonga poster

The one thing competing for your attention with the artwork are [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at Crystal Palace in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Welp, boys and girls — it’s time to head into Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and take in lunch at Crystal Palace! This is a beloved character spot for many Disney fans, and a must-do character experience for lots of you.

Me? I hadn’t been to Crystal Palace in foreva…not since an ill-fated late-night visit a couple of years ago when the food was AW-FUL! Yep, it was the end-of-the-night dregs of the buffet and we were pretty much just grossed out. (Have you ever seen a buffet about 15 minutes before a restaurant is about to close? Not pretty.) We ate very little and left as soon as we could. Sad, since we do love dining with Pooh and friends.

But it was time to revisit the 100 Hundred Acre Wood — after all, we’d had lots of great meals here previously — and I made reservations with some friends for lunch.

We have tons of shots to show you, so let’s get started!

Atmosphere

You’ll find Crystal Palace to the left of Main Street USA’s end, just as you approach Cinderella Castle. The beautiful glass building, inspired by ornate conservatories of the late Victorian Age, is a slice of Disney history as well. The restaurant has been around since opening day in 1971.

Entrance to Restaurant

Entrance to Restaurant

And here’s a tip if you’re looking for an extra-special experience during your Disney vacation: try and book Crystal Palace for an early breakfast. You’ll be one of the first guests into the Park when you do this, and visiting a nearly empty Magic Kingdom is an event to remember.

Once you step inside, you’ll see whitewashed walls that carry the bright, light decor throughout. Artwork depicting inspiration for the architecture as well as photos of lush palms cover the walls.

Artwork and Framed Photos

Artwork and Framed Photos

The soaring atrium above is gorgeous — especially on a sunny day!

Crystal Palace Atrium

Crystal Palace Atrium

After you check in, you’ll wait for your table outside on the shaded veranda. But once you step in, pause a moment to take it all in.

Dining Rooms

Dining Rooms

Tons of windows and glass domes allow for plenty of natural light in the two dining areas.

Dining Room from Another Angle

Dining Room from Another Angle

And really — look up. Because the windows are really stunning. I love the beautiful stained glass detail.

Stained Glass Windows

Stained Glass Windows

The decor puts you in mind of a Victorian conservatory, with its outside-but-inside feel. Lush flowers and what reminds me of patio furniture finish the area.

Evening Light

Afternoon Light

Crystal Palace is, of course, a character dining experience, and you’ve stumbled onto a party!

Center Atrium -- Up Close

Center Atrium — Up Close

In fact, visit here, and you’ll take part in a Friendship Day Celebration with Winnie the Pooh and his friends.

Banner -- Up Close

It’s Friendship Day!

Just check out these gorgeous flower topiaries of the whole gang!

Pooh and His Hunny Pot

Pooh and His Hunny Pot

Eeyore Topiary

Eeyore Topiary

The sweet little figures appear to be made of dried roses, and foreshadow the characters you’ll meet while you dine.

Piglet Topiary

Piglet Topiary

Bouncing Tigger Topiary

Bouncing Tigger Topiary

And beautiful hanging arrangements of tropical flowers complete the classic conservatory feel.

Fresh Flowers

Fresh Flowers

Seating is standard and fairly comfortable. Heavy, padded chairs share the space with booths, but some tables are situated a bit too closely for our comfort.

Seating for Two

Seating for Two

Seating along windows gives you a glimpse of guests waiting to be seated! But beyond them, you’ll also see a beautiful view of [Read more…]

Guest Review: Dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Disney’s Magic Kingdom

The uber-popular restaurant, Be Our Guest, serves a quick service lunch and table service dinner at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Sharing her dinner experience, guest author Rebecca Elliott takes us inside the Beast’s Castle!

Atmosphere

My family and I have always been big Beauty & the Beast fans. Which made it such a surprise that, prior to the grand opening of the new Fantasyland in 2012, Disney World didn’t have a whole lot of Beauty & the Beast attractions.

All that changed with the opening of Be Our Guest, a spectacularly themed restaurant set in the Beast’s castle. It’s almost as if Disney is trying to make up for its previous lack of Beauty & the Beast material by creating this over-the-top, lavish dining experience.

A View of the Castle from Across the Bridge

A View of the Castle from Across the Bridge

As you can imagine, dinner reservations are hard to come by. Guests staying on site are able to make advance dining reservations (ADR) 180 days in advance. Since our plans came together rather spur of the moment, we attempted to make a reservation about 60 days out. Of course, none were available. However, we kept trying several times over the next week and, unbelievably, someone must have cancelled and we got our reservation for 6:30pm.

Gargoyle Outside the Castle

Gargoyle Outside the Castle

Atmosphere

Hats off to the designers and Imagineers that brought the Beast’s castle to life. Every nook and cranny of this restaurant makes you feel like you’re in the movie. We checked in at the desk at the foot of the bridge outside of the restaurant, then crossed over and waited outside the castle until our buzzer went off.

It was fun to take in the details even the exterior of the building had to offer. Giant lion statues flanked heavy wooden doors with a tile mosaic above the threshold featuring the famous enchanted rose. (Roses became almost like Hidden Mickeys; they are featured consistently throughout the décor. It was fun to find them everywhere, from the napkins, to the chairs, to the sculptures and more).

The Entrance of Heavy Wooden Doors with Rose Tile Work

The Entrance of Heavy Wooden Doors with Rose Tile Work

Even the Napkins Carry Out the Rose Theme

Even the Napkins Carry Out the Rose Theme

Entering the castle is truly like entering the movie. Theming in Disney restaurants has always been ambitious, but Be Our Guest is their best interpretation of a film in real form. Don’t rush to the restaurant – you’ll want to take a closer look at the gargoyles holding up the archway. Even more, you don’t want to miss the tile mosaic of Belle and the Beast dancing, which is a re-creation of the very last scene in the movie.

This Guy’s Got a Tough Gig – Holding Up the Castle

This Guy’s Got a Tough Gig – Holding Up the Castle

Belle and the Beast Tile Mosaic in the Entry

Belle and the Beast Tile Mosaic in the Entry

We were greeted by a cast member at the inside host desk who informed us we would be eating in the West Wing. I nearly fainted. I had no idea where our reservation would be, and I certainly didn’t think it would be in the West Wing. We were very, very excited!

It is perpetually evening in the castle, no matter what time of day you go. To get to the West Wing, the cast member guided us through the Ballroom. Holy smokes! Stepping in there was like stepping into the scene of Belle and the Beast dancing, with Mrs. Potts singing, “Beauty & the Beast” in the background. The ceiling is painted with cherubs and clouds, the crystal chandeliers let off a soft, warm glow, and when we looked out the windows overlooking the terrace, it was snowing! We had read about this, but until we saw it, we didn’t realize what a truly magical effect it was.

The Dramatic Ballroom

The Dramatic Ballroom

The Hand Painted Ceiling in the Ballroom Takes Your Breath Away!

The Hand Painted Ceiling in the Ballroom Takes Your Breath Away!

Snow Falls Outside the Windows, Setting the Scene for an Enchanted Night in the Castle

Snow Falls Outside the Windows, Setting the Scene for an Enchanted Night in the Castle

We made our way to the West Wing, which was equally dramatic. The setting is a dark and stormy evening. Thunder and lightening can be heard and seen in the background. There is the painting of the Beast as a young man, complete with claw marks, just like in the movie. (Tip: Keep an eye on the portrait; it changes into the Beast himself with a flash of lightening!)

The Beast’s Portrait in the West Wing, Appropriately Scarred

The Beast’s Portrait in the West Wing, Appropriately Scarred

The most dramatic element of the West Wing is the enchanted rose. It floats beneath a glass dome, its petals falling. I have no idea how they created this effect (hologram?), but again, it is just like the movie.

The Enchanted Rose in the West Wing Was Truly a Sight to See

The Enchanted Rose in the West Wing Was Truly a Sight to See

My daughter and I decided to take in the Rose Gallery. Here is where things got a little confusing. The Rose Gallery is huge – not as big as the Ballroom, but certainly bigger than the West Wing. And it was empty. There were a couple of tables with guests, but the rest of the dining room remained unseated. This was perplexing, because reservations were so hard to come by. It looked as if the few tables that were seated were overflow from the main dining room. The rest of the tables weren’t even set. I understand this room is typically full at lunch. Why not utilize it at dinner? (Editor’s Note: At dinner, the Rose Gallery is often used as a food preparation area instead of a seating area.)

Belle and Beast Take Center Stage in the Rose Gallery

Belle and Beast Take Center Stage in the Rose Gallery

Tapestries Depicting Scenes from the Movie Hang in the Rose Gallery

Tapestries Depicting Scenes from the Movie Hang in the Rose Gallery

More Tapestries

More Tapestries

I should mention here another feature of the dining room. About every 15 minutes or so, a clock chimes and you can hear the Beast being introduced. Because we were seated in the West Wing, we saw him make his entrance into the dining room. He walked out, waved to the diners, and made his way to the picture taking spot at the other end of the restaurant, greeting guests along the way.

We thought this was a fun touch. The picture area is the quick service ordering spot during lunch. On our way out, we had our picture taken with him. He was very kind and accommodating.

Beast Making His Way Through the Dining Room

Beast Making His Way Through the Dining Room

Guests exit the restaurant through a hallway lined with suits of armor. I was reminded of the scene in Beauty & the Beast when Cogsworth gives Belle a tour of the castle. They walk through a similar hallway. Make sure you listen closely – some of the suits of armor talk!

Suits of Armor Line the Exit Hallway

Suits of Armor Line the Exit Hallway

Some of the Suits of Armor Were a Little Chatty!

Some of the Suits of Armor Were a Little Chatty!

Eats

We were seated and promptly greeted by our server, who informed us that Be Our Guest offers beer and wine, the first restaurant ever to do so in the Magic Kingdom. We don’t drink, but noticed several guests were taking advantage of this new offering. Instead, all three of us ordered the all-natural lemonade sweetened with organic cane juice and topped with wildberry foam. It was delicious. (FYI, even though this drink is non-alcoholic and we didn’t order it in the commemorative chalice, there were no refills and it is not considered a fountain beverage.)

All Natural Lemonade with Wildberry Foam

All Natural Lemonade with Wildberry Foam

The menu at Be Our Guest is French themed, thought not authentic French. Still, it was one of the better meals we experienced on our trip. We were participating in the Disney Deluxe Dining plan, so each of us ordered an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert.

To start, I selected the assorted cured meats and sausages. Please note, this dish serves two, but I made a pretty good dent in it all by myself! It is served with a whole loaf of bread, some delicious pate, cured meats (prosciutto, ham), sausages, mustard, cornichons, some tart jam, and cheese. I truly enjoyed this dish. A lot of Disney food tends to the mildly seasoned. This dish was bursting with savory flavors and a variety of textures. It was very satisfying, and could easily serve as an entrée.

Assorted Cured Meats and Sausages

Assorted Cured Meats and Sausages

My daughter tried the [Read more…]

News! 2015 Disney Dining Plans Announced

Details for the 2015 Disney Dining Plans are starting to emerge!

2015 Disney Dining Plans

2015 Disney Dining Plans

We’re not seeing many changes so far in the 2015 plans, but take a look at a few updates that we want to share with you.

2015 Quick-Service Disney Dining Plan Changes

Disney has added the new Starbucks at Downtown Disney West Side to the plan for 2015. Only breakfast can be redeemed as a quick service meal.

2015 Table-Service Disney Dining Plan Changes

  • Las Ventanas at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort has been added to the line-up. Breakfast and lunch can be redeemed for a table-service credit.
  • Photos are no longer included at Cinderella’s Royal Table and will now have an extra charge.
Cinderella's Royal Table Sign

Cinderella’s Royal Table Sign

2015 Premium and Platinum Disney Dining Plan Changes

Here’s an update:

  • Two tours — Wild by Design and Backstage Safari — are no longer offered.
  • The cost has [Read more…]

Last Day! Enter to Win A Ceramic Dole Whip from the Disney Food Blog Newsletter

There’s so much going on in the world of Disney Food, and we don’t want you to miss out on any of it!!

DFB Newsletter

Whether you’re planning your next vacation to Walt Disney World or Disneyland, or you’re just dreaming about the Happiest Place on Earth, we want you to have all of the Disney Food News that’s important to you.

In every color issue of the Disney Food Blog Newsletter, we share highlights of all the latest news as well as the reviews that you rely on Disney Food Blog to bring you.

And here’s a reminder, we’re giving away this must-have Ceramic Dole Whip to a DFB Newsletter subscriber TOMORROW! If you’re subscribed to our newsletter, you’re automatically entered into our drawing!

Ceramic Dole Whip!

Ceramic Dole Whip!

But hurry — today is the last day that you can subscribe to be entered into the drawing!

And as news continues to break about the [Read more…]

Guest Review: Whispering Canyon Café Breakfast at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

The Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World is a fabulous escape! Even if you’re not staying at this inspiring resort, we highly recommend making an Advance Dining Reservation for the Whispering Canyon Café. Today, guest author Rebecca Elliott shares a breakfast review.

We like to eat breakfast at the Whispering Canyon Café when we stay at the Wilderness Lodge. It’s convenient, the portions are hearty, and there’s usually no wait for a table. (Even so, get the Advance Dining Reservation – just in case! You never know!)

Atmosphere

My family and I love staying at the Wilderness Lodge. The hotel is modeled after the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park, a historic landmark built in 1904. Its lobby is inspired by the Pacific Northwest and is absolutely stunning.

Like most of Disney’s deluxe hotels, the Wilderness Lodge has three levels of dining options: counter service, family-ish, and fancy schmancy. Whispering Canyon Café is the moderately priced (for Disney) family restaurant located just off the hotel lobby.

The View of the Breath Taking Wilderness Lodge Lobby

The View of the Breath Taking Wilderness Lodge Lobby

The Dining Features Graphics and Elements of a Child's Playroom in the 50's

The Dining Features Graphics and Elements of a Child’s Playroom in the 50’s

The décor of the Whispering Canyon Café reminds me of a little boy’s bedroom in the 50’s. It’s decked out in a cowboy and Indian motif with a Lincoln log-like ceiling and a floor that looks like a homemade quilt.

The Chairs Are Adorned with Cowboys and Indians

The Chairs Are Adorned with Cowboys and Indians

Here Are the Cowboys and Lincoln Log Ceiling

Here Are the Cowboys and Lincoln Log Ceiling

The wait staff take on the persona of wayward cowboys out to have a good time. They encourage diners to take part in their hijinks, which include singing, pony races, and general tomfoolery.

Chandeliers are Adorned with Buffalo Cut Outs

Chandeliers are Adorned with Buffalo Cut Outs

Here’s where I am going to abide by the old honesty-is-the-best-policy rule: I’m not a huge fan of the wait staff’s antics. Many, many people (including my husband and daughter) love it. They play along and find the jokes entertaining. I hate to say it, but they’re just not that funny to me. Not all of the servers are good at improvisation, so watching a non-funny person trying to be funny can be uncomfortable.

When They Say Large, They Mean LARGE

When They Say Large, They Mean LARGE

The entertainment can also be physical, and some people don’t like that. The servers throw straws and napkins on diners; if you order ketchup, they bring you all the bottles in the restaurant; they also slap diners on the back and try their best to throw funny insults. The good news for me is, the shtick doesn’t start until after 8:45am.

Every time I’ve eaten breakfast there, it hasn’t been too crazy. I’ve heard that diners can ask not to participate in the hijinks, but I’ve also heard that can backfire and cause even more unwanted attention. Beware! (Editor’s Note: If you’d rather not take part in the antics, let the cast member know at check-in that your table wants to be left out of the “fun.” It’s not Disney’s goal to make their guests uncomfortable, and the cast member should pass your wishes on to your server.)

Ready for Service!

Ready for Service!

Eats

We’ve eaten breakfast at Whispering Canyon Café many times, and every time it’s been good. Drinks are served in mason jars and meals at lunch and dinner are served in cast iron skillets!

Despite my ambivalence about their style, the servers are all efficient, excellent at answering questions about the menu, and very accommodating of special dietary needs. Here’s what we had on our last visit:

My daughter ordered the Belgian waffle. We’re all huge fans of Mickey waffles, so we were thrilled to see it was a [Read more…]

News! Discounts, Early Booking Dates, Eat to the Beat Dining Packages, and Sneak Peek at Menu Items From the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

DFB had the wonderful opportunity of attending the Epcot Food and Wine Festival preview yesterday evening at Walt Disney World’s Epcot, and I have more new information to share about the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Below, you’ll find:

As always, you can visit our Epcot Food and Wine Festival index page for ALL updates at any time.

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Booth and Menu Information

Be sure to check out our 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Booth Page for updated menus, food photos, and more as the Festival gets closer!

OFFICIAL 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Booths:
The following booths have been confirmed as officially returning in 2014. We’ll have more to list for you — and full menus — this week!

Patagonia
Africa/South Africa
Brazil [Read more…]

Tip from the DFB Guide: Where To Dine With Both Picky AND Adventurous Eaters!

We’re sharing another great tip from our critically-acclaimed e-Book, The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2014!

disney dining tips

Today, we’re talking about a common conundrum: How do you satisfy all of the people, all of the time?

We’ve all been there. You have a picky eater in your group. No problem, right? Hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets are all available throughout the parks and resorts.

But where do you go when you have both picky and adventurous eaters among your number?

How about a buffet or food court?

Disney excels at offering some truly interesting, all you care to eat options and food court choices, where the picky and the persnickety can both find satisfying options. Let’s check out a couple.

Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Tusker House in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is one of our favorite stops for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The restaurant features a wonderful spread of African-inspired food. And at breakfast and lunch, you also have the added benefit of a character dining experience!

Goofy Strikes at Pose at Tusker House in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Goofy Strikes at Pose at Tusker House in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

If you’re feeling adventurous, start your meal off with the interesting array of Chutneys and Spreads, before moving on to interesting house specialties like Bobotie or Potato and Pea Samosas.

Beef Bobotie at Tusker House

Beef Bobotie at Tusker House

And lovers of food and pickier eaters alike are [Read more…]