Tips from the DFB Guide: Should I Book a Disney Character Meal?

Dining at Walt Disney World is very often an experience rather than just a meal. It’s become a rite of passage to dine with characters during a visit to Disney — and there’s stiff competition to secure Advance Dining Reservations at some of these table-service restaurants.

Mickey strikes a pose!

Meeting Cinderella, rubbing Pooh’s tummy, hugging Mickey Mouse, and posing with Chip and Dale are some of the memorable moments that can be discovered while dining at Character Meals.

Tigger Lounges and Signs an Autograph Book at the Plaza Inn

But is a character meal right for your group? On one hand, adults and kids alike enjoy meeting characters from Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood, Cinderella’s Castle, and more! Yet on the other, character meals can be costly — both in time and money!

We’ve been to countless meals in which Disney characters hobnob with guests, and now we can help you determine if a character meal fits well into your next Disney vacation!

Chef Mickey serves up fun and food at the Contemporary Resort!

In our The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2013 e-Book, we have an informative section on character meals. Pick up your copy here for an extra $4 off using code 2013 for a limited time! Your vacation is an investment and we want you to have the best trip possible!

So let’s take a look at whether a character meal makes sense for YOUR family…

Should I book a character meal?

Let’s get right to some important dining considerations that we’ve included in the DFB Guide to help you plan your meals.

Meet the princesses at a character meal!

1. Do you have kids who may be afraid of characters?

Character meals can be a good place for children to get to know the Disney characters. However if one (or more) of your children are not fond of the characters then consider dining at a restaurant with a fun theme instead.

Not sure if your kiddo hates characters? Here’s how to find out without too much trauma: [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: How to Avoid Crowds When Dining in Disney World

If you’ve ever eaten at a crowded Disney World restaurant, you KNOW it’s not something you want to repeat.

Endless lines, deafening volume, long waits for tables (or sometimes even having to sit on the floor at counter-service restaurants)…it’s definitely not a “magical moment.” After all, vacations are for relaxing — especially at meal times!

We know that you want to make the most of every moment of your trip, and that means eating when the restaurants aren’t crowded — and taking advantage of rides and attractions when restaurants are busy. You need stress-free Disney Dining!

Our recommendations will give you a chance to unwind, enjoy a great meal (or quick and tasty pick-me-up), and get you back to the Walt Disney World attractions! We’ve done the meal time research for you! After years of touring the parks and countless meals at Disney World, we’ve gathered tips to avoid the crowds!

Book an early ADR to get a great table without the crowds!

In our The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2013 e-Book, we have a whole section dedicated to avoiding crowds in Disney World. Pick up your copy here for an extra $4 off using code 2013 for a limited time!

With our in-depth DFB Guide, you’ll learn tips for avoiding the crazy in Disney World — and ensure  you have a relaxing and nourishing meal so you’re ready to get back out to the parks. Don’t go on your vacation without these tips for stress-free dining!

3 Awesome Tips to Avoid Disney World Dining Crowds

Let’s get right to our meal time strategies that we’ve included in the DFB Guide to make the most of your Disney Dining without the crowds.

We found Tortuga Tavern empty at 11am during a June visit! An hour later, there were no seats available!

1. Dine at “Off-Times”

If you’re visiting Disney World during a busy time (yes, Spring Breakers, Summer visitors, Christmas Folks, that includes you!), finding a restaurant without a wait will be difficult.

Still, crowds thin after the throngs depart during major meal rushes. We suggest avoiding 8-9AM, noon-1:30PM, and 6-7PM. We’ve found that booking meals for “brunch” at 10:30 or 11AM, late lunch at 3 or 4PM, or late dinner at 8 or 9PM works well for avoiding the crowd crunch. For counter-service restaurants, we [Read more…]

Guest Review: Captain’s Grille Breakfast Buffet at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Today, we’re welcoming back Emma Snobbish with a review of the Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. Her review highlights the breakfast buffet!

When you’re contemplating breakfast choices around Walt Disney World Resort, the Captain’s Grille may not be on your radar.

“Oh, yeah – that one at the Yacht Club?” you might say.

That’s what I said, but on my family’s trip this January we wanted to try something new — someplace where we would be able to get a walk-up reservation. We had also heard tell of the Captain’s breakfast buffet, so we decided to give it a try.


The Captain’s Grille is just off the Yacht Club Resort’s lobby. You’ve passed it if you’ve ever taken the stroll from the Beach Club to the Yacht Club.

Outside the Captain’s Grille

Behind its fresh, white French doors you’ll see soft nautical stripes, and model boats and paintings of seaside scenes hanging on the walls.

The Main Dining Room

Once inside the restaurant, you’ll see a kid-sized waiting area complete with coloring sheets and crayons!

Children’s Coloring Area – the Crayons are Kept in a Little Boat!

The themeing here is subtle but still charming. I loved the compass design on the center of the tables and the beach waves etched on the chairs.

Big arched openings at the edges of the restaurant look out over the hallway leading to the signature restaurant — Yachtsman Steakhouse — and Stormalong Bay, the giant pool and play area shared between the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts. Kinda fun for people watching during your meal, although if you’d rather something more quiet there are plenty of [Read more…]

Best Disney World Restaurants for Fish Fry

With Lent on the horizon — and with a few questions from readers recently about where to get a great fish fry in Disney World — I knew that now would be the perfect time to check out the best places to find that golden battered goodness at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Let’s check out some of the best fried fish in Disney World

Best Disney World Restaurants for a Fish Fry

United Kingdom Pavilion in Epcot

You can’t go wrong for fish and chips in the delicacy’s home pavilion in Epcot.

Fish and Chips from Yorkshire County Fish Shop

Whether you take a load off at the Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room or grab some fried food to go from Yorkshire County Fish Shop, you’re in for a mild but authentic taste of one of England’s best exports.

While you’re there, enjoy a beer and a performance by The British Revolution or the Pub’s Hat Lady.

Cookes of Dublin and Raglan Road in Downtown Disney

If you find yourself in need of a fish fix while you’re “Downtown,” head over to the Pleasure Island District for two authentic and delicious options. The One & One at Cookes of Dublin is one of our favorites on property.

Cooked to order and served piping hot, the fish is flaky and tender.

Fish and Chips from Cooke’s of Dublin

But if you have the time for a slower meal, you may want to consider the famous beer battered fish and chips on the lunch menu at Raglan Road Irish Pub right next door.

Columbia Harbour House in Magic Kingdom

Here in Liberty Square, you can enjoy a counter service battered fish basket with broccoli, apples, or French fries at Columbia Harbour House counter service restaurant. The proportion of breading to fish is perfect, and the fish isn’t too oily.

Fried Chicken and Fish at Columbia Harbour House

Fried Chicken and Fish at Columbia Harbour House (photo from Kelly Amey via the DFB Flickr Group) 

Citricos at Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

For a slightly more upscale take on the English classic, take a monorail ride to the Grand Floridian and pull up a chair at Citricos. There, you should order the melt-in-your-mouth pan-fried Florida black grouper, which gets [Read more…]

Guest Review: Photo Tour of NEW Hurricane Hanna’s Waterside Bar and Grill at the Yacht and Beach Club Resort

We’re thrilled to introduce guest author Bob Sikon with a review of the re-opened Hurricane Hanna’s quick service restaurant and pool bar at the Yacht and Beach Club Resort.

The poolside dining area at Stormalong Bay has been under refurbishment for the past several months, and now re-opens with a fresh feel and brand new name! There are also several more items on the bar menu and counter service menu for guests to enjoy! Scroll down to see pictures of a few of these!

Let’s take a look at the updated name, atmosphere, and menu…

The quick-service outdoor restaurant at the Beach Club resort has re-opened after a lengthy refurbishment. It’s now known as Hurricane Hanna’s Waterside Bar & Grill!

New Sign

Poolside Dining

View of Hurricane Hanna's


As you look at Hurricane Hanna’s, the bar is on the left, the food ordering queue and counter is in the center, and the mug wash and condiment station is on the right.

Bar Area at Hurricane Hanna's

The updated yet classic nautical feel offers guests a “sit and stay a while” feel. We like the new sturdy wooden bar chairs and great-looking lanterns lighting the bar area.

Outdoor Bar

Enjoy a beverage at the bar!

View from the Bar

The counter-service ordering area is set up as usual to the right of the [Read more…]

Disney’s Best Grilled Cheese

It’s been grilled cheese weather for us out there, and I’m pretty sure it has been for many of you as well! So it’s time to put together our list of the Best Grilled Cheese in Disney Restaurants…and I can’t wait to hear your additions!

Best Grilled Cheese at Disney

Grilled Cheese — perfect for dipping!

You know we love cheese around here, and Disney has found lots of different ways to be creative with this particular recipe for success.

Let’s take a look at our favorites in Disney World and Disneyland!

Walt Disney World Grilled Cheese

Before we catch a flight to California, let’s see what’s happening, grilled-cheese-wise, at Walt Disney World!

Tomato Bisque and Grilled Cheese at Beaches and Cream

OK, I’ll admit that this sammich is currently my #1 at Walt Disney World! I tried it (belatedly) in October and couldn’t get enough!

When you’re down for the count and need some sustenance to get through your park touring, trust me and head over to Beaches and Cream at Disney’s Beach Club Resort for their take on a familiar favorite: Tomato Bisque and Grilled Cheese.

Six flavorful cheeses make up the blend on this amazing entry. And buddied up with sourdough bread and super creamy tomato bisque, this is comfort food perfection.

Tomato Bisque and Grilled Cheese Sandwich at Beaches and Cream

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese at Captain Cook’s

A cult favorite among Disney fans, Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Resort has a must-try entry into the Grilled Cheese category: the Grown-Up Grilled Cheese.

What’s so adult about this one? Three cheeses — cheddar, Swiss, and Boursin (Boursin!) — melted together on a hearty sunflower bread give this one the perfect marriage of creamy and nutty. It’s lovely.

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich at Captain Cook’s

Croque Monsieur at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Let’s head over to Disney World’s newest restaurant — Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland — for our third contender!

Be Our Guest features a table service format for dinner, but during lunch hours you’ll find a more casual line up, including this delicious Croque Monsieur. I’ll have my own [Read more…]

Review: New Menu at Beaches and Cream in Disney’s Beach Club Resort

Recently, we told you about about a new menu at one of my very favorite spots in all of Disney World: Beaches and Cream at Disney’s Beach Club Resort.

With so many loyal fans, many of you expressed concern for the changes and wondered if the new options would measure up. I was right there with you! So does Beaches and Cream still rate as THE place to go for burgers and sundaes at Walt Disney World?

Time to find out! We headed over ASAP to try out the new menu…


Walk into Beaches and Cream, and you’ll feel that you just traveled back in time to that beach side soda fountain of family vacations gone by. From the tall and frosty Orange Sunshine to the flavored cokes, this place will definitely bring back memories.

Don’t you love the beach balls decorating the booths? They’re a completely awesome pop of color and immediately make me smile every time I see them.

Seating and Beach Balls!

Seating is comfortable (snag one of the three booths if you can!). And don’t forget to check out the ice cream cone-shaped lights…

Seating -- Up Close

Pastel musical notes and beach towels romp alongside some of the fun dishes served at the restaurant in this colorful mural.

Mirrored glass shelves host a collection of Coca Cola in glass bottles, as well as an impressive array of glassware. This is a great reminder that you can still get your “soda pop” as a fountain drink, or in a cool “nostalgia bottle.”

Murals and Vintage Coca Cola Bottles

It’s always fun to [Read more…]

2012 Walt Disney World Gingerbread Holiday Displays

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…in Disney World!

As we look forward to the holiday season in Walt Disney World, let’s take a look at when to expect the artful (and edible) decor to go on display this year! Several Disney deluxe resorts showcase massive holiday gingerbread displays, and we’ve got info and photos about where and when to see them below!

And if you’re really craving all there is to know about the holidays in Walt Disney World, it’s time to treat yourself (or a friend!) to the DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World® Holidays 2012 e-Book! We’ve included all of the gingerbread displays, when to visit them, and more!

The gingerbread displays at Disney’s deluxe resorts are created by the Walt Disney World Food and Beverage team. Sometimes you can even watch the chefs put on the finishing touches! In addition to the beautiful displays, storefronts at each display sell yummy treats, and 2012 limited edition Gingerbread Display pins!

Grand Floridian Gingerbread House

As your eyes try to take in the enormous Christmas tree in the lobby, your sense of smell will lead you toward the 16 foot tall Gingerbread House located in the Grand Floridian Resort. Stop by November 19th – December 31st!

Grand Floridian 2010 Gingerbread House

It takes over 400 hours to bake the 10,000+ pieces of gingerbread! Look closely and you may even see puffs of smoke coming from the chimney!

Looking Down on the Gingerbread House

Don’t forget that you can purchase a treat made from a classic Austrian gingerbread recipe right inside the Gingerbread House!! Freshly baked items will include [Read more…]

Favorite Find: Oreo Bon Bons at Beach Club Marketplace

There are many reasons to head to the Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club — good food and fun character interactions, to name just a few.

But one of the stars of the evening buffet in the past have been the beautiful and delicious Oreo Bon Bons.

Oreo Bon Bons on the Cape May Cafe Buffet

The yummy little treat is made of an Oreo cookie base, topped with cookies and cream mousse, and enrobed in chocolate with a chocolate fudge ganache garnish on top. It’s delicious, and has been a Disney fan cult favorite for years!

So when we started hearing reports of its disappearance from the Cape May Cafe dessert buffet, we were just as shocked and sad as you were!

But I’ve got good news for all of us today! The treat is back! You can now find Oreo Bon Bons [Read more…]

News! Menu Changes at Beaches and Cream in Disney’s Beach Club Resort

One of our favorite places in Walt Disney World has changed up the menu a bit! It’s even sporting a new contrasting color scheme!

Beaches and Cream at Disney World’s Beach Club Resort has definitely added and subtracted from the menu from time to time over the past several years.

But this update includes a few big changes to the entrees section. (Don’t worry…the No Way Jose and your other favorite sundaes are still there!)

Beaches and Cream Menu

Thanks once again to AJ’s Dad — my favorite roving reporter — we have some great shots of the new menu and even some pics of the new food!!

Here’s a wide angle pic of the whole menu. Beaches fans will see some definite changes to the style of the triptic.

Menu Wide Angle.

Eats Updates

Now, let’s check out what’s been changed and updated food-wise!

The Fountain Favorites are pretty much the same as before. Guests can still get their favorite flavored cokes here (cherry for me, please!) — and is the raspberry flavor new, Beaches fans?

Fountain Favorites - click image for larger version.

But the Hot Off The Grill section has definitely seen some changes! From what I can see…this place is getting FAN-CY!

New here are a Bacon Angus Burger served with blue cheese and barbecue sauce; the Beaches Rachel Sandwich featuring [Read more…]