What’s New Around Disney World: January 23, 2015

The year isn’t the only thing new around Disney World… we’re on the lookout for new eats, sweets, and refurbishment feats. Please keep your hands, arms, feet, and legs inside your ride vehicle at all times as we tour all four Disney World Parks to see What’s New!

Something's always just around the corner at Disney World!

Something’s always just around the corner at Disney World!

Animal Kingdom

We’re starting out with another WILD trip to Animal Kingdom, which includes a couple of menu updates. At Yak & Yeti Restaurant, Firecracker Shrimp and Ahi Tuna Nachos for Two join the appetizers (the Dim Sum Basket for two remains), and Ginger Salmon with Japanese Udon has been added to the noodle dishes. Chicken Tikki Masala is among the new specialty entrees, and Malaysian Seafood Curry arrives under Wok selections.

Yak and Yeti Restaurant

Yak and Yeti Restaurant

Be sure to check out the Specialty Drinks for some fun new beverages: Pink Himalayan, Kiwi Kimono, and a Rickshaw Rickie.

Right next door at Local Food Cafes (also known as Yak & Yeti Counter Service), Korean Stir-fry Barbecue Chicken has replaced the Sweet and Sour Chicken.

Local Foods Cafe menu

Local Foods Cafe menu

At Dino Diner in Dinoland, U.S.A., the Snow Cone has been switched out for Nachos, served with just cheese or as Nachos Supreme (at least for these cooler months).

Dino Diner

Dino Diner

Dino Diner

Dino Diner

Tamu Tamu Refreshments has undergone another menu refresh, currently offering the Slow-cooked Chicken Curry, Vegetarian Curry, and Roasted Chicken Salad.

Tamu Tamu Refreshments

Tamu Tamu Refreshments

This isn’t entirely unexpected, as the menu here seems to go through a standard rotation. So, if you’re disappointed that the Slow-cooked Pulled Beef Sandwich is no longer available, Hakuna Matata. It could very well make its way back around in a few months.

And, as we discussed a few weeks back, Flame Tree Barbecue is closed for refurbishment with a tentative reopening of April 1st. Find out where you can find some of your favorite Flame Tree foods at other locations around the park!

Flame Tree Barbecue closed for refurbishment

Flame Tree Barbecue closed for refurbishment

Speaking of refurbishments, construction of [Read more…]

News! Disney Park Mugs Arrive at Starbucks Locations in Disney World and Disneyland

They’re heeeeere….

Disney Parks "You Are Here" Collection

Disney Parks “You Are Here” Collection

As of TODAY, Main Street Bakery and Fountain View (the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Starbucks locations) are carrying Starbucks mugs dedicated to the park in which they serve your mochas, Frappuccinos, and soy, half-caf, vanilla lattes (no whip!). We stopped by Fountain View today to see the Epcot mug. Since you can only see one side of the design in the box…

Epcot "You Are Here" mug

Epcot “You Are Here” mug

… we grabbed one to show you each side of the design (if a circular mug indeed has a “side,” that is).

Epcot "You Are Here" Mug

Epcot “You Are Here” Mug

Epcot "You Are Here" Mug

Epcot “You Are Here” Mug

Epcot "You Are Here" Mug

Epcot “You Are Here” Mug

Epcot "You Are Here" Mug

Epcot “You Are Here” Mug

Bottom of Epcot mug

Bottom of Epcot mug

Also at Fountain View were the travel cold cups, designed [Read more…]

News! Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Souvenir Popcorn Bucket at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

So. If YOU had a Mine Train cart of your very own, would you fill it with jewels…

Gems in the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Queue

Gems in the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Queue

or with Disney Popcorn?

Disney Popcorn!

Disney Popcorn!

What if you didn’t have to choose? Because you can have BOTH, thanks to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Popcorn Bucket, available at Popcorn Carts throughout Magic Kingdom!!!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train popcorn bucket

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train popcorn bucket

This one is a beauty, and just like the cars on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Roller Coaster, the body of the cart swings from side to side.

Swinging Mine Train Bucket

Swinging Mine Train Bucket

AND if you have more than one, you can [Read more…]

Review: Lighthouse and Anchors Aweigh Sandwiches at Magic Kingdom’s Columbia Harbour House

We always love to talk with you about the latest and greatest of Disney food here on DFB.

But today we’re taking time to savor a couple of classics: the Lighthouse and Anchors Aweigh Sandwiches have been around for a long time, and they can only be found at Columbia Harbour House in the Magic Kingdom.

This quaint counter service spot is a hidden gem for Disney visitors. It’s not splashy like Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, and it’s not really huge and sprawling like Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn. It’s small and understated. In fact, you could easily walk right by and not even know it’s there!

Columbia Harbour House

Straddling Liberty Square and Fantasyland (here’s what it looks like from the Fantasyland side…)

Columbia Harbour House -- Fantasyland View

Columbia Harbour House — Fantasyland View

…the restaurant offers several long-time Disney guest favorites. It’s one of those spots that first-timers don’t really know about unless they stumble upon it, but Disney vets try to visit as much as possible.

Ordering Area

Ordering Area

Fish, chicken, pasta, and more are the features here, and there always seems to be one or two “specials” happening at any given time. But the best part about this spot is that the upstairs dining area tends to be blessedly quiet much of the time.

Upstairs window tables at Columbia Harbour House

Upstairs window tables at Columbia Harbour House

It’s a spot I often escape to when I need a breather in the Magic Kingdom.

Columbia Harbour House upstairs

Columbia Harbour House upstairs

But we’re not here to show you pics of empty tables — we’re here to tell you all about some of those must-have eats that so many Disney fans hold near and dear.

These two sandwiches have quite the following among DFB readers, but those new to Columbia Harbour House might wonder what all the fuss is about. After all, upon reading the description of Anchors Aweigh — which is basically a tuna sandwich — many may ask, “what’s the deal?” (Jerry Seinfeld voiceover in your head entirely optional).

Columbia Harbour House menu

Columbia Harbour House menu

And it’s true — there aren’t any super unique or wacky ingredients that you can’t easily combine in your own home. No surprises here (unless there’s some added pixie dust that my eye can’t pick up. You never know around these parts…). What you see is what you get: tuna salad, tomato, and lettuce on multi-grain bread, served with potato chips. Frankly, it’s not even the prettiest sandwich ever, from a photography perspective.

Anchors Aweigh sandwich with chips

Anchors Aweigh sandwich with chips

Anchors Aweigh

Anchors Aweigh

But maybe the [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at The Plaza Restaurant in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

On a recent visit to Walt Disney World, I made it my mission to visit some of my favorite spots. And when it came time to dine in Magic Kingdom, I knew I wanted to visit a classic –The Plaza Restaurant

Sure, Magic Kingdom has the hot ticket, Be Our Guest Restaurant. And I have so many counter service favorites here, it’s hard to keep track of them all. But when it comes to the crossroads of nostalgia, value, and a (fairly) easy advance dining reservation to score, nothing compares to The Plaza.

I bet you’ve passed it on a dozen visits and never given it a second thought. Allow me to show you around a bit, and maybe even change your mind.

Atmosphere

The Plaza Restaurant occupies some primo Magic Kingdom real estate. You’ll find it at the corner of where Main Street USA joins with the bridge to Tomorrowland.

Plaza Sign

Plaza Sign

Its central location makes it accessible to all corners of the park, so it’s a great spot to dine, especially if you’d like to take a break from touring and enjoy your meal at a more leisurely pace.

The Plaza Restaurant -- Outside

The Plaza Restaurant — Outside

The restaurant isn’t very large. It’s made up of two main dining areas. The first room is pretty, comfortable, and bright, with lots of natural light. The mirrors, which feature ornate etching, also reflect the light and make the space feel larger.

Atmosphere and Seating

Atmosphere and Seating

The art nouveau decor is in keeping with the rest of Main Street, and the pastel palette is pretty timeless. I especially love these delicate brass light fixtures.

Lighting

Lighting

Attached to the main dining room is a smaller, octagonal room that’s filled with windows. It looks a bit like a conservatory (without the glass ceiling), or maybe a patio or gazebo that’s been walled in. While it is a beautiful space, the hard floors can make it a bit loud for my taste, and banquette seating means that I’ll spend my meal listening to my neighbor’s conversation. (Totally true. This visit I was seated at that little round table with two big parties on either side of me. I pretty much knew all of their plans by the time I was finished.)

Sunroom Seating

Sunroom Seating

Here’s a nice close-up of a table in the main dining area. Kind of feels like eating in Grandma’s parlor, right?

Window Table

Window Table

Spending time on Main Street USA means that you’re likely to run into some of the town’s most notable characters. This is one of those fun Magic Kingdom traditions that unite us with the customs of the past; we’ve enjoyed visits with the Mayor as we dined before.

The Mayor Often Visits The Plaza Restaurant

The Mayor Often Visits The Plaza Restaurant

But this time out, it was the [Read more…]

Review: New Year’s Eve Dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table

Dinner inside the Magic Kingdom’s quintessential castle at Walt Disney World is a remarkable experience any night of the year!

But imagine hobnobbing with Cinderella and feasting inside the royal dining room at Cinderella’s Royal Table on New Year’s Eve. Last year, my family crossed this adventure off of our bucket list — right before the clock struck midnight!

New Year’s Eve Tips

First, make your Advance Dining Reservation as soon as possible. For the most popular restaurants (especially during holidays!!), you’ll need to book 180 days prior!

view of fireworks from Cinderella's Royal Table

You’ll find recommendations to arrive the Magic Kingdom early and stay all day and night. Without a break. In the massive crowds. This commando touring is not my family’s style. So I researched when the Magic Kingdom had closed and re-opened to guests for the past several years.

I found that the Magic Kingdom historically reached crowd capacity in the early morning and afternoon with re-openings by late afternoon/early evening. Even with our pre-paid dinner, we took our chances and it worked perfectly! Tip: You do not have to stay in the Magic Kingdom ALL day and night unless you must have a view of the castle forecourt for fireworks time. By 8PM on December 31, 2013, the Magic Kingdom had re-opened to all guests, including families staying off-site!

We spent the morning at the Animal Kingdom (late breakfast at Tusker House!!) and rested at our hotel the rest of the day. Arriving the Magic Kingdom about 6PM, we were admitted with no problems. Once inside, we experienced the thickest crowds that we’ve ever encountered anywhere. We formed a family chain by holding the back of each others’ shirts and somehow made our way to the back of the park.

Passing people sleeping on blankets as they saved their coveted spots in front of the castle for the evening’s fireworks display — we made our way to New Fantasyland. And the crowds were… gone! We practically had Big Top Treats and the area behind it all to ourselves. We got a snack and relaxed at an outdoor table. Tip: there were barely lines for the character meet and greets in this section of the park!

New Year's Eve Snack in New Fantasyland

New Year’s Eve Snack in New Fantasyland

Our advance dining reservation was for 9:30PM. It was especially crowded waiting to be let in to the castle; and believe me, we weren’t allowed to approach the podium even a minute before our reservation time. There was only a small area in which we could wait as the back of the castle was already roped off for the fireworks. Once inside though, we experienced pure magic!

Holiday Decor

Holiday Decor

After photographs with Cinderella, we waited in the lobby to be beckoned to the dining room.

Grand Hall

Grand Hall

Among the last diners of the night, we witnessed Cinderella playing with children. She actually played hide and seek with them all throughout the lobby. It was an intimate moment with a fairytale princess that we reveled in watching, and I’m sure the children and their parents cherished the experience.

Hide 'n Seek with Cinderella!

Hide ‘n Seek with Cinderella!

After our meal, we had to wait by the outdoor podium for the castle show to end. Once done, we were able to exit into Fantasyland. We found a place to sit on the pavement in front of Mickey’s PhilharMagic and waited for the fireworks. And they were amazing!

New Year's Eve Fireworks

New Year’s Eve Fireworks

Ringing in the New Year at the Magic Kingdom was an amazing experience. We continued to walk around the park allowing the crowds to disperse. We found very few crowds in Frontierland where a DJ was still spinning tunes!

DJ Entertains on New Year's Eve

DJ Entertains on New Year’s Eve

So, let’s check out our meal…

Atmosphere

Cinderella was holding court next to a Christmas tree decorated in rich silver, gold, and blue!

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

Once you ascend the winding red-carpeted stairway (or take the more modern elevator), you’ll step in to a medieval dining room with a vaulted ceiling.

Vaulted Ceiling at Cinderella's Royal Table

Vaulted Ceiling at Cinderella’s Royal Table

The table setting was enhanced with purple napkins and a gold table runner. The silver cutlery resembles crossed swords!

Table Setting

Table Setting

Gentlemen (young and young-at-heart) receive swords as souvenirs.

Souvenir Swords

Souvenir Swords

The menu’s cover echoes the jaw-dropping stained glass features found throughout the castle.

Regal Menu Cover

Regal Menu Cover

Eats

The bread basket and accompanying butter were delivered promptly.

Bread Basket

Bread Basket

With a choice of appetizers, hubby and son went with the Royal Tasting of Cheeses and accompaniments. Both of them enjoyed sampling the different options and gave it a thumbs up as a starter!

Trio of Cheeses

Trio of Cheese

For my picky palate, I requested a garden salad with ranch dressing (from the kids menu!).

Garden Salad

Garden Salad

For entrees, note that the accompaniments change up frequently.

The guys had no difficulty choosing the Beef Tenderloin. Again, they both found the steak to be a delicious option but not nearly as good as previous steak entrees at [Read more…]

Disney Food Pics of the Week: The Holidays!

Season’s Greetings and Merry Christmas! We hope that the season is treating you well, and that you’re taking time out to enjoy all of the little blessings it holds.

And speaking of treating…why don’t we chat about some Disney treats! See? I can bring anything right back to the Disney and the eating.

Swirled Ice Cream at Storybook Treats May Be Available

Who Can Resist Soft Serve in Seasonal Colors?!?

Today, we’re sharing another fun installment in our Disney Food Pics of the Week Series, which features you, our wonderful readers, and all of the great images you capture and share with us!

If you’d like to get in on the fun, we’d love to see your photos, too! Just head over to the Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza — our Flickr Page — and join up to share!

Since we’re enjoying the holidays at present, I wanted to share a few more shots that you’ve captured from the season of Merry and Bright. Let’s take a look!

Holiday Tamales from Rancho del Zocalo

Photographer: jingorokitty

Isn’t it awesome when we get to enjoy our holiday favorites? In some parts of the country, tamales are a beloved holiday food, and I love that Rancho del Zocalo in Disneyland honors that. Now I know what I’d like to have for dinner…

Holiday Tamales from Rancho del Zocalo

Holiday Tamales from Rancho del Zocalo

Snowman Marshmallow Pops

Photographer: Kirsten Marie Hutton

These Snowman Marshmallow Pops, which were spotted at Marceline’s, are crazy cute! If the little scarves around their neck don’t charm you, I know their Mickey Ear Hats will!

Snowman Marshmallow Pops from Marceline's

Snowman Marshmallow Pops from Marceline’s

Holiday Cupcakes with Mickey Flair!

Photographer: Hilary JW

Sometimes, nothing but a big, frosting-topped [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at Pinocchio Village Haus in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Today we’re visiting a Fantasyland classic… Pinocchio Village Haus Restaurant!

We were here not all that long ago, trying out the recent addition of Pesto Knots to the menu at this joint, which simultaneously features Bavarian architecture and Italian fare. And Pinocchio’s is always a great place to check out — especially in the hot summer months — for their character-inspired frozen Slushes (not to be confused with “Frozen” character slushes… just so we’re clear on that ;) ).

But it’s been a while since we’ve reviewed a full-on meal here… or three! So, that’s what we’re here to do. Welcome to Pinocchio Village Haus!

Atmosphere

Have you ever wondered about the German-style architecture of this restaurant for a story that’s set in Italy?

Pinocchio's Village Haus

Pinocchio's Village Haus

Pinocchio’s Village Haus

Pinocchio’s creator, Gepetto, is decidedly Italian, but even the Pinocchio atop of the ordering section reminds me a little of a German oompah figurine.

Pinocchio

Pinocchio

To learn a little more about this unique style choice, check out this guest review for some insight!

Aside from the architecture, other hallmarks at Pinocchio’s are the gorgeous murals depicting characters and scenes from the film.

Geppetto Mural

Geppetto Mural

"Give a little whistle"

“Give a little whistle”

True, there are no roses with magically falling petals or indoor thunderstorms a la Be Our Guest Restaurant, but if you really take a look at the artwork (entire rooms and murals are dedicated to specific characters), I think [Read more…]

Be Our Guest Restaurant To Offer Table Service Breakfast? We Think So…

UPDATE 3/17/2015: Be Our Guest Restaurant will begin testing prix-fixe quick service breakfast for a period beginning March 20 and ending June 18. Advance Dining Reservations for the meal opened on March 17 and are bookable 30 days out. Breakfast hours are scheduled 8-10AM.

Lunch, Dinner…and now Breakfast?

Be Our Guest Restaurant has proven to be extraordinarily popular. It’s incredibly difficult to get a dinner advance dining reservation (ADR) a full two years after its opening. And lunch continues to be such an attraction that Disney seems to be moving toward a FastPass+ System for the quick service meal — something unprecedented.

But it’s looking more and more like we’ll all have another shot at dining in Beast’s Castle in the very near future.

Be Our Guest Restaurant to Begin Serving Breakfast in February?

We’ve been monitoring rumors forever it seems that Be Our Guest would begin serving breakfast. And it looks like that rumor is about to become a reality.

Our team has been checking daily to see if Be Our Guest is offering a breakfast ADR option…and as of today, they are! Now, before you run over and excitedly jam up the Disney website ;-) , I should mention that, while the breakfast option is showing up, it’s not bookable yet. When we try to book a table, we’re told that we can’t at this time.

Be Our Guest Breakfast Option on Disney World Website

Be Our Guest Breakfast Option on Disney World Website

But here’s what we DO know: [Read more…]

DFB Black Friday Sale: Our Best Deal Ever!

Whew! I hope you had an awesome Thanksgiving Day yesterday! But today feels kind of like a sit-around-the-house-and-plan-a-Disney-trip kind of day, so it’s time to carry on the holiday weekend with a little more celebrating… .

Check out our biggest DFB Guide Discount EVER!

The DFB Everything Bundle — Half Off This Weekend

When it came time to offer you something truly special for our Black Friday Sale, we couldn’t think of anything better…than giving you everything.

Disney Food Blog Guidebooks

Disney Food Blog Guidebooks

And that’s why we’re announcing that, for this weekend, you can purchase the DFB Everything Bundle for 1/2 off the already deeply discounted price! Just enter code Everything50 at the check-out.

What does the Everything Bundle include? The name says it all — Everything! When you purchase the DFB Everything Bundle, you get all of the following DFB Guides: