What’s New Around Walt Disney World: February 9, 2016

February is the month we celebrate love!

Lady and the Tramp Cupcake at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Lady and the Tramp Cupcake at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

And since we LOVE few things more than checking out all the goings-on with FOOD all over Disney World, what say we take a whirlwind tour around the parks (and a few resorts) and see What’s New?! [Read more…]

News: Same-Day Dining Reservations for Skipper Canteen in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Ahoy, Jungle Cruise Passengers!

If you have a trip planned to the Magic Kingdom in February, you may want to know about a new limited-time option for booking a same-day dining reservation at the Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen (the Jungle Cruise Restaurant)!

Since the Jungle Skipper Canteen first opened its doors in mid-December of 2015, it has broken typical Advance Dining Reservation protocol for Table Service restaurants by retaining its status as a walk-up only location.

Perhaps in anticipation of one of Disney World’s first peak weeks of 2016, however, a same-day reservation system will be in place that will be unique to the Jungle Skipper Canteen, available from February 12 – 27, 2016. (Presidents Day weekend, the RunDisney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, and school breaks for a few regions of the country combine to result in high park traffic during this time of year.)

Skipper Canteen Entrance

Skipper Canteen Entrance

The process will be much the same as making a standard Advance Dining Reservation; interested guests may visit the Jungle Skipper Canteen page on the Disney World website. Of course, being outside of those dates right now, it currently only lists the standard operating hours for lunch and dinner. Presumably, however, the standard booking engine should appear on February 12th with bookings for that day only, and so on through the 27th. [Read more…]

Disney Food (and Drink) Pics of the Week: Beer at Disney!

We are back with another fun installment of Disney Food Pics of the Week, courtesy of the Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza, our Flickr group!

You may not know it, but Disney is offering some really great beer these days! From more interesting seasonal options, to craft beers you know and love, there’s a ton of variety happening where this adult beverage is concerned.

Kona Beer Flight at Trader Sam's Tiki Terrace

Kona Beer Flight at Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace

Today, we’re showcasing some of the beeeea-utiful photos of Beer that our readers have captured around Disney! [Read more…]

News: Disneyland’s River Belle Terrace Now Accepting Advance Dining Reservations

In late November it was announced that a big change was coming to River Belle Terrace, a Disneyland dining favorite.

River Belle Terrace

River Belle Terrace

February 1st was the last day River Belle Terrace operated as a Counter Service location. When it reopens on February 10th, it will be a Table Service restaurant. Additionally, this beloved breakfast location will serve only lunch and dinner moving forward. [Read more…]

DFB Reader Questions Answered: Best Disney World Breakfasts Without Characters or Buffets

We’re tackling another question from the DFB Reader mailbag! And today, it’s all about breakfast.

The Samoan at Kona Cafe

The Samoan at Kona Cafe

Our reader asks:

Where can we get a good breakfast if we are NOT into characters or buffets?

There are lots of spots to enjoy a terrific breakfast at Walt Disney World — even if you prefer not to have characters, and you’d rather order a la carte.

We’ll break down a few of our favorites below, and share why these spots are tops for starting your Disney Day.

Good Counter Service Options

If you are crunched — for time, money, or both — then consider some of Disney’s best Counter Service Breakfast options.

Deluxe resorts are some of my favorite spots for counter service eats. Roaring Fork at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge offers Mickey Waffles with a variety of toppings. We love the Bananas Foster option!

Wilderness Lodge Waffles

Wilderness Lodge Waffles

And at Captain Cook’s, located in the Polynesian Village Resort, you can indulge in an iconic Disney breakfast — Tonga Toast — without paying table service prices!

[Read more…]

Review: Smoky Cheddar Grits at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Welcome back to Animal Kingdom’s Smiling Crocodile!

Now, you may be thinking, “Huh? What do you mean ‘welcome back’? I’ve never heard of the Smiling Crocodile.”

Well, the Smiling Crocodile previously went by a name you may be more familiar with:  the Gardens Kiosk. In fact, several Animal Kingdom snack stands have received mini-makeovers in the form of new names and, in several cases, updated paint colors; spots like the Eight Spoon Cafe (formerly the Beastly Kiosk), Mahindi (which was Harambe Popcorn) and Warung Outpost (previously known as Upcountry Beverages).

In most cases, though, the changes have been in name and fresh coats of paint only while the menus have remained the same. The Smiling Crocodile, however, is one of the exceptions to the rule. Last summer brought a menu refresh to this kiosk featuring the Trek Power Salad and Farmers Salad along with some unique and refreshing beverages.

The Smiling Crocodile

The Smiling Crocodile

But our recent visit to the Smiling Crocodile was to check out its refreshed menu and try one of the new items: Smoky Cheddar Grits. Care to join us? [Read more…]

Recommended Disney Dining Plan One-Credit Restaurant Values

We previously shared with you our picks for the Best Disney Dining Plan Value in Disney Signature Dining. Today, we continue our series exploring which Disney Restaurants offer the best value for your Disney Dining Plan credits!

Disney Dining Plan One Credit Recommendations

One of the biggest questions that we get here at DFB is whether or not the Disney Dining Plan is a good deal. To begin answering the question, we armed ourselves with calculators and menus and ran the numbers to see which spots had the most expensive average entrees.

But it’s more than that, isn’t it? I mean, no matter how much the average check runs, if the food or the atmosphere doesn’t appeal to you and yours, it won’t be a good value, no matter how you slice it.

With the calculations in mind, we were curious to determine which One-Credit Disney Table Service Restaurants offered the best deal or value price-wise — but also could be recommended by the experts here at DFB for atmosphere and food quality. All of the restaurants that we considered are One-Credit spots, meaning they’ll require just one credit to dine with the Disney Dining Plan.

Here are our picks for the restaurants that give you the best overall bang for your Disney Dining Plan buck when it comes to single credit table service spots.

Best Friends Character Breakfast at ‘Ohana

When we set out to determine which one-credit restaurants offered you the most in terms of sheer cost, one trend emerged immediately: you can’t go wrong by spending your credit on a Character Meal.

Mickey at 'Ohana

We Can’t Resist Eating with this Guy!

And with only one exception (Cinderella’s Royal Table), all Disney World character meals require only one DDP table service credit.

And while character meals are not one size fits all — you should definitely check out our tips before booking one — they’re for sure an experience everyone can enjoy with a little planning.

As for our favorite, this year we are really enjoying character meals that are served family-style like ‘Ohana’s breakfast. These include Garden Grill at Epcot, which you can now book for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Chip

Chip n’ Dale Visit with You During Meals at Epcot’s Garden Grill

Or enjoy the Princesses at Akershus. You can still enjoy the koldtbord selections and all you care to eat, but meals come plated.

Princess Cinderella at Akershus in Epcot's Norway

Princess Cinderella at Akershus in Epcot’s Norway

But my favorite remains the Best Friends Character Breakfast at ‘Ohana. For a combination of cute characters (Mickey in a Hawaiian Shirt, and Lilo is awesome!) and delicious food, it just can’t be beat.

Mickey Waffles!

Mickey Waffles!

And while buffets are great for a bounty of offerings, sometimes it’s nice to sit back and let the food come to you — especially if there’s a baby or toddler along for the ride.

Boma

Hot on the heels of character meals though, you should probably also consider other buffets or all you care to enjoy service formats if you’re truly interested in “getting your money’s worth”.

Boma Buffet

Boma Buffet

Boma at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge doesn’t offer characters — but I don’t see that as a bad thing. The food here is  interesting and delicious. Don’t miss the Soups or the Carving Stations at Dinner! (Here’s the recipe for that killer Coconut Curry Chicken Stew!) Breakfast offers some great pastries and more.

Breakfast Pastries from one of our favorite buffets -- Boma in Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge!

Breakfast Pastries from one of our favorite buffets — Boma in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge!

Then of course, there’s the Zebra Domes. :-)

Zebra Dome

Zebra Dome Yum

The restaurant serves breakfast and dinner, and we’ve enjoyed both. And because Boma doesn’t feature characters, I find the ambiance to be a little more relaxing as a result.

But don’t forget spots that offer all you care to enjoy, but do the heavy lifting for you. If you wish that everyday was Thanksgiving Day (but without the clean up!), then make your advance dining reservation for Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom. Besides getting a hearty helping of history, you’ll also see endless platters of Turkey with all the trimmings.

The Full Spread!

The Full Dinner Spread at Liberty Tree Tavern!

And that is truly something to be thankful for.

Be Our Guest Dinner

But if you’re looking to spend those credits wisely, then don’t leave Magic Kingdom just yet. Because any Disney Food Bucket Lister will tell ya — you’ve gotta book dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant at least once.

Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom

Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom

For starters, this spot is truly magical. If you’ve ever wanted to tumble through a movie screen and join in the action, this is your chance to do it, as Beast’s Castle has been reproduced in painstaking detail.

Want to see the last petal drop at Be Our Guest Restaurant? Planning ahead is key!

The Enchanted Rose in the West Wing

But then, there are some pretty great reasons to eat here as well. Of course, the menu is French-inspired. We’ve tried pretty much everything, and give high marks to the Potato Leek Soup, the Pork Chop, and of course, the Grilled Strip Steak!

Grilled Strip Steak

Grilled Strip Steak

And if you enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with dinner, take advantage of ordering one here — the only spot in Magic Kingdom where you can enjoy this indulgence.

Chimay Blue at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Chimay Blue at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Choosing Dessert may be tough. We enjoyed most of the options, but the Master’s “Grey Stuff” dessert will be the most high-profile.

Les Chefs de France

What’s that? You’d like to go to the REAL France?

Well, I can’t deliver that to you at Disney, but I can get you pretty close to the real deal. If you travel over the Epcot, that is. When you get there, head to World Showcase for some of the best spots to spend those table service credits.

Front of Les Chefs de France at Night -- Isn't It Amazing??

Beautiful Les Chefs de France in Epcot’s France Pavilion

While many of the restaurants in this international village boast steep pricetags, we love some better than others. And in terms of beautiful atmosphere and consistently delicious food, Les Chefs de France gets a gold star from me.

I know, I know. Epcot international dining can be less than authentic. But all of the restaurants in the France Pavilion are owned by the Bocuse Group, and I’ve enjoyed lots of fare that reminded me of my time traveling as a student through France and Switzerland.

A la flamme Alsacienne

A la flamme Alsacienne

Service can be slow and reserved. But the restaurant offers a beautiful setting.

Teppan Edo

But as I mentioned, you aren’t limited merely to France in Epcot. There’s a whole world out there, of course. When it comes to fun and value, consider Teppan Edo.

Teppan Edo in Epcot's Japan Pavilion

Teppan Edo in Epcot’s Japan Pavilion

This Japanese Habachi-style experience is as much food theatre as it is eating. The chefs here are wonderful at all of the tricks that you might expect to see in a Japanese steakhouse. We especially like the fire-based ones. :-)

And the food is bountiful. While I’m partial to ordering the Steak, I also love the combos here. Steak and Chicken or Steak and Shrimp give you the opportunity to enjoy different textures and flavors.

Steak and Chicken at Teppan Edo

Steak and Chicken at Teppan Edo

And with bountiful sides, I guarantee you won’t leave the table hungry.

And there you have it! With so many varied experiences, flavors, and settings, it’s hard to go wrong with Disney Dining. But you won’t go wrong if you decide to try a few of our favorite one-credit options!

2016 book cover dfb guide

Ready for All of Our Best Tips?

We’ve got TONS of Disney World Dining Tips — including LOTS of restaurant suggestions for your every need — in our big, bold 2016 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining!

With more than 530 pagesThe DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining is full of tips and planning tools developed by Disney World experts over 20+ years of visits. We’ve done the research for you, so you’ll know just which spots will uniquely suit your family’s needs!

With sample dining itineraries, plus our “Disney Dining at a Glance” section, featuring “Where Can I Find?” options, you’ll have everything you need to plan your best vacation yet. Click here to get your copy of The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining E-book — and use code HAPPYPLACE for an extra $4 discount for a limited time!

Now, I’d love to hear from all of you guys! What are your best picks for value when it comes to DDP one credit table service spots? Leave a comment with your favorites!

Review: Watermelon Mimosa and Beermosa at Animal Kingdom’s Dawa Bar

In December, we paid a visit to Animal Kingdom’s newest watering hole, Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks.

But we’re all for old favorites, too, so when AJ got a text from her friend Andy with the news that Dawa Bar in Animal Kingdom’s Africa had switched up their early morning cocktails, we were there!!

Now, all the talk about Animal Kingdom these days surrounds the upcoming nighttime activities like the Rivers of Light spectacular, which will extend the park into an all day experience later this spring. (And obviously we can’t wait for the arrival of Tiffins — Animal Kingdom’s first Signature Dining location — as well as the Nomad Lounge to open in conjunction with these new activities in 2016.)

But like I said, as excited as we are about all that future nighttime entertainment, we’re here to explore an exclusively early-morning experience: the recently refreshed Sunrise Cocktail menu at the Dawa Bar. While the Dawa Bar operates all day, this special menu of morning beverages is only available from 9:00 – 11:00 am.

Though morning pours aren’t new to the Dawa Bar (you may remember the Bloody Mary menu that was introduced in late 2014), we’re here to go over some changes with you, including an absentee from the Bloody Mary selections along with some fun new additions. (Did somebody say “Mimosas”?!)

Atmosphere

2014 brought a renovation and slight relocation to the Dawa Bar as well as the aforementioned morning menu of Bloody Marys.

Animal Kingdom's Dawa Bar

Animal Kingdom’s Dawa Bar

Other than that, though, things have held pretty steady at this African-themed lounge over the years. It still sits right beside the Tusker House check-in area. [Read more…]

The Best Brownies in Walt Disney World

Remember oh those many years ago when I presented you with my Top Five Disney Brownies?

Best Disney World BrowniesWell, times change… as do snacks and desserts in and around Disney World.  And now here we are celebrating a still-new year, and the brownie landscape has changed. While a few of our favorites from Round One continue to grace our list of Best Brownies, some are no longer available. (We miss you, Paw Print Brownie and Brownie Fudge Sundae!)

But fret not… there’s still no shortage of classic brownie goodness in Disney World (and some not-so-classic, as you’ll notice many of these feature a twist on tradition).

Whaddya say we make a NEW Best Brownies list?

That’s right… a new list for a new year! Grab a fork and get ready to dig into some chocolatey brownie deliciousness with me!

Peanut Butter Brownie with Warm Caramel Sauce

OK, this is probably the best thing you will put into your mouth all month. Let me say that I eat a lot — A LOT — of Disney food, and much of it is sweet deliciousness; but this thing took my breath away.

You can find the Peanut Butter Brownie with Warm Caramel Sauce at Sunshine Seasons in Epcot. And here’s the kicker…

Warm Peanut Butter Brownie with Warm Caramel Sauce

Warm Peanut Butter Brownie with Warm Caramel Sauce

[Read more…]

News! New Booths and Eats at the 2016 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

The 2016 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival is just around the corner. And today, we’re getting lots of news about how the Festival will take shape this Spring!

Disney Food Blog Epcot Flower and Garden Festival (2)

Mark you calendars for March 2-May 30, 2016, as the festival celebrating all things that grow expands to a record 90 days! [Read more…]