5 Must Eat Disney Snacks You Can Get Without a Park Ticket!

So, you’re in Disney World, but for whatever reason, you don’t want to use a park ticket that morning/night/afternoon/arrival day/leaving day. No problemo!!

You can still cross some of the best Disney snacks off your must-eat list…even without scanning a single ticket/magicband/key to the World card!

Everyone knows that you can get a Mickey Bar all over the place in Disney World (you DID know that, right?), but we’ve got a few more must-try eats to share with you today! Time to check out our 5 Must Eat Disney Snacks You Can Get Without a Park Ticket!

Dole Whip

UPDATE: Dole Whip is no longer being served at Captain Cook’s, is no longer self-serve, and is no longer available 24 hours a day. BUT — you still can get it outside of the Parks. You’ll now find Dole Whip at the Pineapple Lanai in Disney’s Polynesian Village. You can also get a Dole Whip Float at Pineapple Lanai!

Let’s start with the granddaddy of them all, the Big Kahuna of Disney Must Have Treats, the stuff that legends and t shirts are made of. Ladies and gentleman, we are talking about the Dole Whip here, of course.

This frosty, delicious treat has a bona fide cult following that has blown up and taken over mainstream! You simply cannot visit Disney without having one, whether it’s a float (my favorite!) or a cup.

Dole Whip

The pineapple soft serve, which is both vegan and gluten-free, is the perfect refreshing dessert on a sunshiny day!

Even though there are few things that say “I’m at Disney right now!!!!!!” more loud and proud than strolling through Magic Kingdom, Dole Whip Float from Aloha Isle in hand, it’s great to know that you don’t ever have to head into the parks to score one of these babies!

If you’re craving some of that tropical goodness and you aren’t on park time, just head over to Captain Cook’s Snack Company at Disney’s Polynesian Resort to get your fix! The Poly’s counter service spot is not only home to some deee-licious fast fare, but they also have Dole Whip machines that pump out the yum dessert.

Dole Whip (Almost) 24-7!

And here’s a BIG OL’ TIP: You can get a Dole Whip here all day…and all night!! long. :-D Note, they DO shut down the machine for, like, one hour each night to clean it (believe me, I’ve been disappointed during that one hour before); so just avoid the 3AM Dole Whip craving and you’re good to go.

Zebra Domes

Ah, Zebra Domes. How (much) do I love thee? Enough to truck all the way over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge regardless of where I’m staying, that’s how much.

These little half-spheres first called to us from the buffet of Boma, one of Animal Kingdom Lodge’s most celebrated table service restaurants. Sure, we love Boma for their exotic dinner fare (those soups!), their carved meats and interesting condiments, and their delicious breakfast spread. But one thing’s for sure: a trip here must end with at least one Zebra Dome.

A Herd of Zebra Domes

The creamy, rich mousse domes taste like nothing you’ve ever had. That’s because the secret special ingredient is [Read more…]

Review: Peanut Butter and Candy Bar Brownies at The Mara in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Not so long ago, I took a trip to The Mara, the Quick Service location at Animal Kingdom Lodge to check out the Giraffe and Zebra Cupcakes. But when I posted my review, we also shared pics of a couple of delicious looking brownies that we’d seen at the bakery… .

Peanut Butter Brownies in bakery case

Candy Bar Brownies in the bakery case

I guess they grabbed the attention of a few DFB Readers as well :), because when I read over the comments on that article, several went something like this:

“Yep, the cupcakes look great. But, ummm… HELLO! What can you tell me about that Peanut Butter Brownie?!?” (And THIS is exactly why DFB Readers are So. Great. :) )

So, with that… it’s back to The Mara we go!

Atmosphere

Located on the ground floor of the Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Mara is one of the more interesting quick service locations in Disney World.

The Mara at Animal Kingdom Lodge

The Mara offers unique eats in a unique setting. From African Stew and a delicious variety of soups to something on the menu called an “African Chili Cheese Dog” (Note to self: find out what that’s all about), there is so much more here than your standard cheeseburger.

The Mara at Animal Kingdom Lodge

What I most appreciate about the atmosphere is that it has a more “grown-up” feel for a Quick Service location, with its nods to the majesty of nature. Yet it’s still completely comfortable and approachable, in large part due to the whimsical artwork on the walls.

Part of the wall mural at The Mara

Part of the wall mural at The Mara

For this visit, I took my goodies to the outdoor seating area.

Outdoor Seating at The Mara

Outdoor Seating at The Mara

It’s lovely and [Read more…]

Disney World and Disneyland Thanksgiving Treats!

Happy Thanksgiving (tomorrow), DFB Readers! Maybe you are having a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Or, if you’re spending your holiday in a Disney park, perhaps you’ve made an Advanced Dining Reservation at one of the Best Restaurants for Thanksgiving.

Well, be sure to leave a little room, because Disney World and Disneyland have some extra treats out this week for Thanksgiving guests :).

Disney World Thanksgiving Treats

Hollywood Studios has topped this Pumpkin Cupcake with Maple Icing at several counter-service locations throughout the park!

Pumpkin Cupcake with Maple Icing

I snagged one at my favorite spot for cupcakes in the Studios: Starring Rolls Cafe. This is a very lightly spiced pumpkin cake topped with an intensely maple-flavored frosting, dusted with crushed walnuts and topped with a milk chocolate pumpkin.

Pumpkin Cupcake with Maple Icing

Seriously – the frosting tastes JUST like maple syrup!! It’s also very dense. I was impressed with the flavor, but found it to be very sweet. After a few bites it was a little much, so I’d recommend sharing this one.

Inside the Pumpkin Cupcake with Maple Icing

If you’re craving something a little stronger ;), stop by Tune-In Lounge or High Octane Refreshments and check out one of the specialty cocktails mixed for the holiday: a Smoked Turkey or a Spiced Jack (with a Graham Cracker Crust rim). [Read more…]

Review: Chocolate Butterfinger and Orange Marmalade Cupcakes at The Mara in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

DFB author Wendy tempts us with treats from The Mara at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World!

Steps away from the Uzima pool at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and head over to The Mara!

This awesome counter-service spot is a hidden gem, and well worth your time to head over to AKL and explore. We’re always impressed with the offerings here — many of which have an African flavor — and they’ve surprised us again with some unique desserts in the bakery case!

Let’s head over and see what we can find… .

The Mara

Located on the bottom level of Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Mara has a nature-ific theme — including “trees” that grow up onto the ceiling!

The Mara

The Mara has earned its reputation for some truly unique quick service options: African Stew, a rotating array of soups, and the Falafel Pita, to name a few.

Menu

Previously, though, The Mara Bakery has flown under the radar as a spot for unique desserts.

Though you can certainly find some awesome items in The Mara’s chilled grab-and-go section (HELLO, Zebra Domes!), the bakery case itself often seemed to feature items that are standard across Disney Resorts, especially in comparison to spots like the Contemporary Resort’s Contempo Café or the Polynesian’s Captain Cook’s, where one can often make a new dessert discovery.

Mara Bakery

Bakery Case at The Mara

So it was with some excitement that I went in to sample the Zebra and Giraffe Cupcakes, unique to The Mara!

Cupcakes on the menu

Cupcakes

I must say, while my visit was intended for the cupcakes, it was a little difficult to stick to the plan when my gaze fell upon the Peanut Butter Brownie, and the Chocolate Candy Corn Cupcake complete with Oreo Mickey Ears (this one, of course, being unique to the Halloween season)!

Peanut Butter Brownie

Candy Corn Cupcake with Oreo Mickey Ears

Oh, and by the way, Candy Bar Brownie… one day, you WILL be mine.

Candy Bar Brownie

Even among these happy distractions, however, I was able to regain focus rather quickly, thanks to the awesome presentation of the Zebra and Giraffe Cupcakes. These would stand out in any bakery case!

Giraffe Cupcakes in Case

Zebra cupcakes in case

I love how the animal themeing of these cupcakes help them fit right into their surroundings!

Safari theme at The Mara

Alright, let’s dig in!

Zebra Cupcake

Right off the bat, it should be noted that The Mara’s Zebra Cupcake is NOT the same Zebra Cupcake that you may have enjoyed previously at Animal Kingdom. (And to those of you who became understandably excited when you read the name of this cupcake, I offer my apologies!).

Zebra Cupcake from Animal Kingdom park

Considered on its own, however, this Zebra Cupcake is exactly [Read more…]

Disney Dining Tip: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Private Dining at Uzima Springs Pool Bar

I don’t know about you, but it’s Monday where I am, and I could use a trip to a pool bar. Fortunately, we are headed straight for Uzima Springs Pool Bar today!

Uzima Springs Pool Bar Sign

Wow — I haven’t written about this place since waaaaaay back in 2009 (awwww…look at the baby food blog!). Shocking, since it’s one of my favorite pool bars! :-) I mean — check out these pics! This is from back when Uzima Springs Pool was GREEN!

OK, enough reminiscing. I’ve got some news about this spot that makes it even more fun to visit!

Uzima Pool at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Located poolside at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo House, this spot is truly an oasis. It’s often a most welcome sight — especially after a hot hot HOT Orlando day.

Uzima Springs Pool -- LOVE Zero Entry!

The enormous pool offers a fun, family-style atmosphere amidst gorgeous jungle-like landscaping.

Pool from Another View. Waterslide -- WOO!

Poolside information (starring PUUMBA!) gives you a rundown of the activities at the resort, as well as operating hours for most of Disney World’s attractions.

Uzima Springs Pool Info

C’mon! Grab a hula hoop! You know you wanna!

Hula Hoops!

Uzima Springs Pool Bar Food and Drink

For a long time, I’ve loved the pool bars at Disney’s various resorts. I mean, nothing says, “Hey, you’re on vacation!” more succinctly than sidling (c’mon; everyone sidles on vacation) up to a waterside watering hole, and grabbing a brew or a drink topped with an umbrella.

Uzima Springs Pool Bar

You’ll find the [Read more…]

Review: Breakfast at Boma in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Mention that you’re looking for a breakfast restaurant during a stay at Walt Disney World, and you are bound to be met with this piece of advice: “You MUST go to Boma.”

It’s true! This buffet restaurant is among the most favorite options for lovers of Disney food, myself included. We’ve even named it as one of our most favorite Disney brunch destinations!

But even though dinner offers an amazing spread, your Disney friends will tell you that breakfast is the “can’t miss” meal here.

It was a shock to me when I realized that I had never actually reviewed this all-important meal on the blog! Time to remedy that right now!

Atmosphere

Boma is located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. You’ll find it below the lobby on the ground floor, adjacent to other AKL restaurants The Mara and Jiko.

There’s one pretty important distinction that sets Boma apart from other very popular buffets at Disney. Many of the others are primarily character dining experiences. But you won’t find any characters at Boma. That’s an important detail to keep in mind when planning your advance dining reservations.

Boma Background Information

“Boma” is actually an African term for a fence made of sticks that forms a safe enclosure for gathering. Throughout the entrance of the restaurant, you see the stick fence motif captured in different materials.

Here, Imagineers used wrought iron to line the bridged walkway leading into the space.

Entrance to Boma

Beautiful statuary decorates the low wall that separates the buffet from the seating area.

Statuary and Decor

Ceilings are lined with large pieces of [Read more…]

Review: Victoria Falls Lounge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Today, I thought I’d invite you to come along for a visit to the serene and scenic Victoria Falls.

Well, OK, I’m not springing for airfare to Africa, but we’re going to the Victoria Falls Lounge, which is pretty nice in and of itself.

Victoria Falls Sign

This gathering spot, located in Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, is a great place to meet with friends, enjoy a quiet solo drink, or await your table at nearby Jiko or Boma. I love meeting friends here, and I thought you’d enjoy taking a closer look with me.

Atmosphere

One of the coolest things about Victoria Falls is its name and its relationship to the lounge’s location. It’s actually suspended between levels of the hotel, below the main lobby, and yet overlooking Boma. It’s situated very much as a waterfall would be. Cool, eh?

View of Victoria Falls from Above

Open iron railings allow light from all sides to pool in, and the stacked columns display colors of the savanna as well as the sunset. I especially love the indirect lighting that peeks up from within the stacked columns.

Bar Area and Painted Columns

Tables for two overlook Boma, and are especially great for [Read more…]

Review: Jiko at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

You guys…Jiko still rocks.

Animal Kingdom Lodge’s signature dining spot has it all — unique, interesting food that’s constantly changing to reflect seasons and trends. Ambiance that changes with the evening light. Impeccable service.

We have returned to Jiko again and again since my husband and I celebrated our first Valentine’s Day together. On a recent visit, we met friends at Jiko for a special dinner in hopes that our streak of great experiences would continue.

Atmosphere

Jiko is located on the ground floor of Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Head downstairs from the lobby, past Victoria Falls Lounge. You’ll find Jiko adjacent to Animal Kingdom Lodge’s other table service spot, Boma.

Menus -- Click to Enlarge

A bank of windows overlooks a beautiful water feature just outside of the restaurant. The rocks and running water provide a soothing backdrop to your dining experience. And if you happen to be seated near the window, be sure to try and spot the hidden Mickey in the rock formations!

Outside View

Back inside, you’ll pass a bar area and the outside wall of the Cape Town Wine Room en route to the main dining room. This is a great time to discuss the truly amazing wine offering at Jiko. The restaurant offers only African wines and is home to the largest collection of South African wines outside of the African continent.

Bar Area and Wine

Pause as you enter the restaurant and take in the view before you. The interior created by well-known restaurant designer Jeffrey Beers evokes themes from The Lion King. The colors, although understated, are rich and mimic nature.

A View of the Restaurant from the Front

Dozens of bird sculptures are suspended in realistic fashion from the ceiling and provide a wonderful sense of movement. I have yet to walk into Jiko with someone seeing the birds for the first time and not see his or her face light up. They’re a beautiful touch.

Ceiling and Bird Detail

A “jiko”, or cooking place, is [Read more…]

News! Update on Disney’s New Rapid Fill Refillable Mug

According to sources, Disney World will soon be bringing the new Disney Rapid Fill Refillable Mug program to Disney resort hotels.

Tested at All-Star Sports Resort a while back, and much like the process currently in use at Disney’s Water Parks, the new system would use an RFID bar code on each mug to give Disney guests access to refills for a pre-purchased period of time. The mug will then deactivate itself at the end of the purchased time frame.

But as of today, it’s looking more and more like the rumors may be true. Although at this time the Rapid Fill Refillable Program has not been confirmed by Disney, we have news today that the fountain machines at some beverage refilling stations at Walt Disney World resorts have been replaced with new machines that resemble those in a demo video by the company ValidFill.

The first set of photos are from the Beach Club Marketplace, where the machines were installed earlier this week.

Newly Installed Beverage Refill Station at Beach Club Marketplace

Newly Installed Beverage Refill Station at Beach Club Marketplace

In this photo, you can see the small screen that provides the customer detailed information about their refill as it dispenses, as well as the trays below the fountain taps that reads the cup’s sensor.

New Beach Club Marketplace Refill Station -- Up Close

New Beach Club Marketplace Refill Station — Up Close

The same set up is in place at All-Star Music Resort’s beverage refill station. The screens here are [Read more…]

News! 2014 Disney World Free Dining Packages for United Kingdom Residents

United Kingdom residents — we have GREAT news! Now’s the time to start planning your 2014 holiday to the Walt Disney World Resort. When you book a selected Walt Disney World holiday, you’ll receive free dining for your family!!

Disney Deal

Disney is offering a less restrictive Free Dining deal to United Kingdom residents, PLUS you’ll receive a $200 Disney Gift Card and 14 park days for the price of 7. However you’ll need to book prior to July 1, 2013, for select arrival between January 1 – April 8 and April 27 – November 30, 2014.

If you stay at a selected Disney Hotel for a minimum of 5 nights, you’ll benefit from these three magical offers:

1. FREE Disney Dining for your whole party throughout your entire stay at Walt Disney World.

2. FREE $200 Disney Spending Money.

3. Disney’s 14-Day Ultimate Ticket which includes unlimited entry to ALL six parks for a price of a Disney’s 7-Day Ultimate ticket.

PLUS save 35% on your accommodation by staying at Disney’s Old Key West Resort or Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa in a studio room.

Who doesn't want unlimited free Mickey waffles??

This offer is available on participating Disney Moderate, Deluxe Villa or Deluxe Resort hotel stays plus tickets.

Bookings must include 5 nights minimum stay at a Walt Disney World Hotel plus Disney’s 14 Day Ultimate Tickets for the whole party traveling to receive “14 day tickets for the [Read more…]