What’s New Around Walt Disney World: November 18th, 2014

Ready for another trip around the World? We’re heading to three parks and a few resorts to check out holiday treats, gingerbread feats, and new menu eats! And which Counter Service location is now serving up steak? Just read on to find out and see What’s New!

HOLIDAY TREATS

Red and green aren’t the only colors taking over Disney World now that the holiday season has launched around here… hues of blue decorate the festive snacks at this year’s brand new “Frozen” Gingerbread Display at the Contemporary Resort!

Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Display

Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Display

We tried the Blue Raspberry Cake Gelato

Blue Raspberry Cake Gelato

Blue Raspberry Cake Gelato

Read our review and see all the other treats available at the new display here!

Get ready for all your favorite Disney World bakery items (we’re talking Krispy Treats, Candy Apples, and Mickey Macarons) to be dressed up for the holiday season in spots like the Main Street Confectionery, Seashore Sweets, and Big Top Treats.

Holiday Bakery Case

Holiday Bakery Case

Ornament Candy Apples

Ornament Candy Apples

More candy apples!

More candy apples!

Holiday cupcakes

Holiday cupcakes

Red and Green Mickey Macarons

Red and Green Mickey Macarons

And now let’s look into some ways the Parks are getting into the [Read more…]

2014 Gingerbread House Displays at Walt Disney World

Once again, visions of gingerbread houses will become reality at select Walt Disney World resort hotels!

Gingerbread Mickey Cookie

Gingerbread Mickey Cookie

The holiday season is underway as Mickey and his elves (and some talented chefs!) get busy filling the resorts and parks with seasonal decor, merchandise, and treats. Plan to stop by the resorts to see the displays, purchase a pin, and/or meet one of the fabulous chefs!

Contemporary Resort

And how cool is it that the Contemporary’s NEW gingerbread display showcases characters from Disney’s popular film, “Frozen” in the artistic style of Disney Legend Mary Blair! We reported on all the details last week. Check out all the details (including festive treats!!) on the Frozen Gingerbread Display here.

Frozen Gingerbread Display

Frozen Gingerbread Display

Grand Floridian Resort

The impressive gingerbread house churns out baked goods made from a classic Austrian recipe. Holiday treats for sale include cookies, shingles,ornaments, and houses — all made from gingerbread. Other freshly made items include Stollen Bread, chocolate peppermint bark, and truffles. Gingerbread decorating tips are given in free demonstrations! Opening date: November 23, 2014.

Life-size!

After 400 hours of baking, the chefs spent 160 hours decorating the house. This unique 80 square feet of retail space is 16 feet high by 17 feet wide and constructed with 1,000 board feet of trim, 60 sheets of plywood, 40 window panes, 100 square feet of display, and 10,000 pieces of gingerbread used.

Looking Down on the Grand Floridian Gingerbread House

Looking Down on the Grand Floridian Gingerbread House

The immense amount of gingerbread was made with 700 lbs. of chocolate, 1,050 lbs. honey, 600 lbs. powdered sugar, 35 lbs. spices, 800 lbs. flour, 140 pints egg whites. and 180 lbs. apricot glaze. Wow!

BoardWalk Inn

Inside the gorgeous lobby of the BoardWalk Inn, the Sweet Treats gingerbread display conjures visions of a Jersey Shore concession stand. We love the whimsical decor!

Gingerbread Shingle from Disney's BoardWalk

Gingerbread Shingle from Disney’s BoardWalk

Beach Club

Once again, a life-size carousel will be the centerpiece of the Beach Club’s lobby. Look for the seven Hidden Mickeys! Take home treats including small gingerbread kits will be available for purchase at the Beach Club Marketplace. Watch for inspiring demonstrations by pastry chefs. Opening date: November 25, 2014.

Carousel Horse at Disney's Beach Club

Carousel Horse at Disney’s Beach Club

Think your holiday baking list is long? It took [Read more…]

New “Frozen” Gingerbread Display Debuts at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort

It’s time to ring in the season with the famous Disney World Resort Gingerbread Displays!

While displays throughout various resorts are in different stages towards completion, the Contemporary Resort has debuted its brand new 2014 Gingerbread Display themed to (shocker, I know) Frozen!

Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Display

Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Display

This impressive display brings together current and classic as the Frozen characters are designed in the vintage style of Mary Blair, as is fitting for the Contemporary. And the whole thing (which looks a lot like a Norwegian Stave Church) is set against a pretty familiar looking background. It’s Arendelle meets “it’s a small world.”

Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Display sign

Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Display sign

Frozen Friends

Frozen Friends

"It's a Small World" design

“It’s a Small World” design

As always, there are some great fun facts regarding the ingredients that make up this enormous display!

Ingredients!

Ingredients!

And those 14 Hidden Olafs? Just look among the characters to locate a few.

Olaf... and teeny tiny Olaf

Olaf… and teeny tiny Olaf

See the sliver of silver on the bottom left? That’s one!

Directly next to the display is a counter topped with gingerbread selling [Read more…]

2014 Resort Cast Member Pumpkin Carving Contests

Didn’t get your fill of Halloween fun this year? Fret not, friends! Because we’ve got one more treat for you from the season of tricks…

On October 30th and 31st, Disney Resort Cast Members at resorts around the World competed in pumpkin decorating contests. I got to check out the displays at the Contemporary Resort and Port Orleans — Riverside, and wanted to share some of the fun with you today!

At the Contemporary Resort, individual Cast Members showed off their pumpkin carving skills. The display was huge, including well over twenty pumpkins!

Contemporary Resort Cast Member Pumpkin Carving 2014

Contemporary Resort Cast Member Pumpkin Carving 2014

Contemporary Resort Cast Member Pumpkin Carving display

Contemporary Resort Cast Member Pumpkin Carving display

Contemporary Resort Cast Member Pumpkin Carving display

Contemporary Resort Cast Member Pumpkin Carving display

Contemporary Resort Cast Member Pumpkin Carving display

Contemporary Resort Cast Member Pumpkin Carving display

Contemporary Resort Cast Member Pumpkin Carving display

Contemporary Resort Cast Member Pumpkin Carving display

Guests at the Contemporary placed their votes for pumpkins across a few categories. A member of the Security Team won “Best Overall” for this awesome [Read more…]

DFB Reader Questions Answered: Best Restaurants to Celebrate a Grown-Up Birthday at Walt Disney World

Today, we’re pulling another great question out the Disney Food Blog mailbag. You guys ask some great ones, and lots of times, we’ll get several emails and inquiries about the same subject.

Spontaneous Birthday Treat at Citricos

Spontaneous Birthday Treat at Citricos

Today, we’re going to delve into the wonderful world of birthday celebrations for grown-ups!

Celebrating Grown Up Birthdays in Walt Disney World

Our DFB reader asks:

We will be vacationing at WDW in May. My 25-year old son will have a birthday while we are there. We would like to have a special meal to celebrate, something fun but also really good!

I love this question! Disney brands itself a great place for all kinds of celebrations. And when it comes to birthdays, why should kiddos have all the fun?

When planning a special meal to celebrate a birthday at Walt Disney World, the most basic advice is probably a great starting point: what does the birthday boy or girl enjoy?

Birthday Dessert

Birthday Dessert

Does he like fine dining, or would he prefer a great night out at a sports bar? Does she like a quiet, elegant setting, or a spot with intricate themeing? Or are they a kid at heart who can Celebrate Mickey with the best of them?

Fantastic ideas abound for fun birthday celebrations at Disney World, but let’s go with my three favorite ideas. At the very least, it might lead to some good brainstorming when it comes time to plan your own special dinner party!

Signature Dining

For the Disney fan who enjoys a fine dining experience, there would be no other place to celebrate a birthday than where these two things meet — Disney’s signature dining restaurants.

If you’re looking for the pinnacle of fine dining, consider booking a table at Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Victoria and Albert's Main Dining Room

Victoria and Albert’s Main Dining Room

The ultimate in Disney fine dining, this relaxed, refined restaurant has won countless awards for its upscale take on modern American fare and its stellar wine menu. To make it an even more special experience, book the Chef’s Table!

Another great option is California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The restaurant sits atop the hotel, and boasts panoramic views. It’s a great spot for viewing Wishes, Magic Kingdom’s fireworks spectacular!

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli is as Good as Ever

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli at California Grill

Food here is always fresh and inventive, celebrating the farm to table movement and the Asian fusion style that placed California on the culinary map.

For something a little off the beaten path but no less delicious, check out Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Jiko at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

In a relaxing atmosphere that mimics the [Read more…]

Walt Disney World Steak Gallery

It’s time for another fun addition to our Disney Food Galleries!

disney world steak gallery

We just love to share photos of all of our favorite foods — and collect them into galleries for easy viewing! Whether your craving is for popcorn, ice cream, or a cupcake, there’s a gallery for you!

And today, we’re introducing a brand new gallery for all of you red meat lovers out there! Yep, we’ve gathered a whole buncha steaks from around Disney World to help you make your choices on your next visit.

Remember, some of these may drop off menus from time to time or have side dishes or preparation changed, but hopefully this will give you a good overview of what’s available! Here we go!

Yachtsman Steakhouse

Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club is one of my top picks when it comes to steak at Walt Disney World. After all, they decorate with meat — the first thing you pass en route to your seat is the Steak Trimming Room!

Chefs here pride themselves not only on the very best cuts of meat, but appetizers, side dishes, and desserts inspired by market fresh ingredients. Yachtsman combines the very best of seasonal flavors with the traditional steak experience.

My absolute favorite pick at Yachtsman is the 16-ounce Boneless Ribeye. It is always a melt-in-your-mouth choice.

Ribeye with Herb Fries at Yachtsman Steakhouse

Ribeye with Herb Fries at Yachtsman Steakhouse

But we are also big fans of the 12-ounce Prime New York Strip Steak, served here with a rich potato gratin stack.

Strip Steak

12-ounce Prime New York Strip Steak

Shula’s

Shula’s at Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin is the kind of place that you think of when you envision an upscale steakhouse. As your eyes adjust to the dim lighting and you check out the menu — printed on a football! — you’ll settle into the refined elegance of your surroundings.

When I have the chance to dine here, I almost always go for my favorite, the 22-ounce Cowboy Ribeye (are you sensing a theme?). The Bone-in Steak has been excellent on every visit. The flavor is unbelievable!

Cowboy Ribeye

22-ounce Cowboy Ribeye

Looking for a lighter approach to soothe your carnivore cravings? We’ve also enjoyed the Steak Mary Anne. Delicate by steakhouse standards, the 5-ounce medallions are served with a simple demi glace in this case. It’s the perfect plate for the guest who prefers all the flavor of prime, aged beef in a smaller serving.

Steak Mary Anne

Steak Mary Anne

Flying Fish

If you’re a landlubber like me, then finding a great steak at a restaurant known for fabulous seafood is a dream come true. But it’s not impossible if you’re dining at Flying Fish Cafe.

When I visit, I always order the Char-Crusted Black Angus New York Strip. The creamy Sauce Foyot is such a great accent — and they’re never chintzy with it!

Char Crusted Black Angus New York Strip

Char-Crusted Black Angus New York Strip

Can’t decide between surf and turf? You don’t have to! Try the two house specialities side by side with the Entree Duo, which features the Char-Crusted Angus New York Strip Steak and the restaurant’s most famous fish dish, the Potato-wrapped Red Snapper.

Entree Duo of Red Snapper and Strip Steak

Entree Duo of Red Snapper and Strip Steak

Jiko

Jiko offers some of the most interesting food at Walt Disney World.

And while I enjoy the fusion of African, Indian, and Meditteranean flavors when it comes to appetizers and desserts, I rarely deviate from my favorite entree: the Oak-Grilled Filet.

Oak Grilled Filet with Mac and Cheese

Oak-Grilled Filet with Mac and Cheese

And even when their delicious Mac and Cheese isn’t featured as the dish’s side, you can usually score it as a special request (and I totally recommend that you do). :-)

Liberty Inn

In the mood for steak with no Advance Dining Reservation? Then head to Epcot’s Liberty Inn. Their New York Strip Steak, served with Red Wine Butter, Roasted Potatoes, and Steamed Broccoli, is surprisingly good.

New York Strip Steak Meal

New York Strip Steak Meal

Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant

Even though most of my favorite steaks at Disney World are featured at signature restaurants, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good option at moderately priced restaurants, too, like Sci-Fi Dine-In.

Recently, I was pleasantly surprised by [Read more…]

Guest Review: Dinner at The Wave… of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Join us in welcoming back Guest Author Paul Kuconis! His latest review features dinner at The Wave… of American Flavors located at the Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World.

When I think of Contemporary Resort-based restaurants, California Grill and Chef Mickey’s immediately come to mind. It’s hard to miss the glass dome sitting atop the Resort — ‘Oooh, there’s California Grill!’; and Chef Mickey is always in sight from the monorail.

But there is a hidden gem neatly tucked away — The Wave…of American Flavors — and entering through the front door makes it easy to miss. We always arrive by boat from Disney’s Wilderness Lodge so we walk by it often. Well, we finally decided to stop ‘passing by’ and made reservations during our last visit.

Atmosphere

The first thing I saw was a video marquee highlighting the culinary options presented inside. To me this presentation is very much in keeping with the ‘contemporary’ theme of the resort. OK, now I know what they serve, so let’s head inside.

Video Marquee

Video Marquee

The entrance is rather neat. First, it establishes the stainless steel theme I noticed throughout my meal, and the tunnel takes me to a different place — that of sustainable and locally-sourced ingredients.

Entrance to The Wave

Entrance to The Wave

As we approached the reception desk, I noticed the earth tones in keeping with the sustainable theme. Also, the wall partition presents the wave theme.

Reception Desk

Reception Desk

We had nice wall art to look at while we waited for our table. A very contemporary rendition, in keeping with the resort.

Wall Art

Wall Art

Even the ceiling features carry the wave theme with contemporary light fixtures. It all works well together as the earth tones carry throughout the restaurant.

The Wave Themed Ceiling

The Wave Themed Ceiling

A nice touch, and a very subtle one, is the wave embroidered on the linen napkin.

Themed Linen Napkin

Themed Linen Napkin

Eats

After we sat down and perused the wine list, we decided on a bottle of Bonterra Chardonnay 2012. I enjoy a nice chardonnay and this wine fits the bill. It’s from Mendocino, one of California’s better known wine regions with predominant vineyard acreage in chardonnay.

Bonterra Chardonnay 2012

Bonterra Chardonnay 2012

A very nice wine. An initial impression of rich, buttery cream quickly turns to aromas of honey and lightly toasted almonds, followed by tropical aromas of pineapple, citrusy lemon and crème brulee. The wine is refreshing on the palate, with a minerality that is both bright and clean, drawing you into a vibrant tartness and lemon zest.

Although that description sounds very complex, it’s not. Bottom line for me is, does it have a nice flavor? And yes, this one does! Notice the stainless steel wine cooler.

A Nice Pour

A Nice Pour

After we ordered we were served bread and butter — Multi grain bread with ground flax seeds and butter with Hawaiian sea salt. (Notice the stainless steel bread bowl.) The bread was nice and fresh and the butter was just soft enough to spread easily and allowed the salt to mix in giving each bite a nice crunch. The ground flax seeds provided a visual balance to the sea salt atop the butter. Nicely done!

Bread and Butter

Bread and Butter

I always look for menu offerings that I haven’t had before. The Sustainable Fish Taco fit the bill. To me, it also fit the theme of the restaurant, sustainable and locally sourced. I’ll try that!

Sustainable Fish Taco Menu Item

Sustainable Fish Taco Menu Item

Oooh! Very nicely plated with a stainless steel taco tray! The fish used were Snapper and Swordfish and fit nicely with the Apple-Jicama slaw and a mild white sauce drizzle, topped with micro greens.

The apples used were Pink Lady (a trademark and the variety is more correctly known as Cripps Pink). Cripps Pink apples are a cross between the Australian Lady Williams and the Golden Delicious. At any rate, this variety was new to me and had a very nice flavor and texture.

The slaw and sauce complemented the mildness of the fish and made for a nice bite. Providing a contrast in textures; the crunch of the apple and jicama worked well against the smoothness of the fish.

Sustainable Fish Taco Appetizer

Sustainable Fish Taco Appetizer

Yuzu Gelato was served providing a palette cleanser and a nice finisher. Yuzu a citrus fruit, originates in East Asia and looks like a very small grapefruit. The yuzu’s flavor is tart, closely resembling that of a grapefruit with hints of mandarin orange. A very nice way to end an awesome appetizer!

OK, how can my entrée top my appetizer? A tough task indeed.

I settled on the [Read more…]

Disney Food Pics of the Week: Glow Drinks!

We’re back with more Disney Food — er, Drink — Photo fun today, thanks to our fantastic readers who contribute to Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza — our Flickr page!

Speaking of Disney Drinks, it’s time to talk Glow Drinks! I can’t help it — I absolutely love these things!

Lunar Landing Glow Drink at Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant

Lunar Landing Glow Drink at Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant

You do too, it seems! Let’s see a couple of your best shots featuring Disney’s world-famous glow drinks that we found on Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza!

Light & Colours at Disneyland Paris

Photographer: Hilary_JW

For our first glowing cocktail, we’re going all the way to France! Yep, that’s right. they even have them at Disneyland Paris! If you’re interested in picking one up on your next trip, head to The New York City Bar at Hotel New York, and ask for the Light & Colours. A combination of raspberry vodka, green apple liqueur, and fruit juices, this sounds refreshing, and looks fantastic!

Light & Colours Cocktail from Disneyland Paris

Light & Colours Cocktail from Disneyland Paris

Tropi-Glow Cocktail at The Wave

Photographer: MGiordano1

This lovely shot of the Tropi-Glow Cocktail, formerly found at The Wave of American Flavors in Disney’s Contemporary Resort makes me want to run right there, right now, and order their [Read more…]

Disney Recipe (and Happy Hour!): Monorail Drinks from Top of the World Restaurant at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

I have an old souvenir book from my first trip to Disney in the late seventies. And while it’s super fun to look through the whole thing, some of my favorite images are from Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

It’s here that I first learned about Top of the World, the restaurant that once occupied the spot that California Grill calls home these days.

Well, the seventies glamour that epitomized the Contemporary may have given way to a sleek mix that is both modern and retro at once, but we don’t have to look too far to bring some of those fun days back. Thanks to Disney cookbooks, their cocktails live on!

That’s right! I’m talking about those famous and delicious Monorail Drinks!

If you love retro Disney cocktails like we do (hellooooo, Kungaloosh!), then you’re going to really love this post. Because we’re not giving you just one recipe, but three! Seriously — how much cooler will your next party be?? Very. You’re welcome.

Can't You Just Feel Monorail Red Swooshing By??

Can’t You Just Feel Monorail Red Swooshing By??

So Please Stand Clear of the Doors (Por Favor Mantengase Alejado de las Puertas) — get those blenders ready — and, GO!

Monorail Cocktails

Top of the World

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Monorail Pink

Serves 1

Ingredients: [Read more…]

Guest Review: Califonia Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

The California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort has re-opened with a new menu and revitalized decor. This week, guest author Paul Kuconis returns with a review from this Walt Disney World restaurant.

My daughter and I last ate at California Grill in May 2012, seated in the Wine Room overlooking Wilderness Lodge and Epcot in the distance. The meal, as usual (and expected) was superb! Soon after this the restaurant was closed for a remodel. And the wait began.

When I found out (in early September, I believe) that California Grill was accepting Advance Dining Reservations I thought I would give it a shot for our October visit. I was able to grab the date and time I wanted. AWESOME!!

So off we head on the boat from Wilderness Lodge to the Contemporary.

From the Boat Dock

You can’t beat this view of the Contemporary right around dusk! Red sky at night, Sailor’s delight. We are in for a nice day tomorrow.

Atmosphere

The reception desk is now on the right of the elevator banks, moved from the left.

Reception Signage

Right off the elevator — the first new element I saw was the immense wine cooler.

The Wine Cooler

As we waited for our table we took in the sights.

A Nice Spot to Watch the Fireworks

The results of the remodel look fantastic and the contemporary theme was carried throughout. The bar has a nice clean look to it with illuminated shelving and neatly arranged bottles.

The Bar

The open concept seating remained, providing good views out all the windows.

The Dining Area

Even the light fixtures carry the ‘contemporary theme’, right down to different colored globes!

Contemporary-Themed Light Fixtures

It was nice to see that the open kitchen concept was maintained through the remodel. I enjoy watching the chefs prepare the offerings. And it is done with Military precision. No ‘Hells’ Kitchen’ theatrics here!

Open Kitchen

You can’t beat white tablecloths and sharp, branded linen napkins. Classy!

A nicely set table

OK, enough of the Atmosphere. We came to eat!

Eats

Now the fun begins. The menu logo mirrors the signage we saw at the reception desk.

The Menu

My daughter and I selected a bottle of Landmark Vineyards Overlook Chardonnay. The vineyard is located in Kenwood in the heart of Sonoma (along with Napa and Mendocino) in the North Coast wine region of California. Also in keeping with the California theme.

Chardonnay Choices

We made a nice choice. We noticed aromas of dried pit fruits, melon, honey, and tarragon. It was very fruity, with a nice finishing warmth and lingering spiciness.

The Wine

A Nice Pour

Luckily we got rolls and butter and that gave me something to eat while I perused the menu.

Rolls and Butter

As usual with Disney, they are not just ‘rolls and butter’. We had a choice of sourdough rolls (my favorite and a staple of San Francisco) and focaccia. The butter was topped with sea salt and a lavender blossom. Visually, perfect! This is important as we ‘see’ the food before we eat it.

The crunchiness of the salt worked well with the butter and spread that on the sourdough roll — it doesn’t get any better. At least until the appetizer arrives!

Appetizer and entrée selections proved to be very difficult. To me, that is the sign of a well thought out menu. So many choices, so little time!

I like to try items I have never had and the [Read more…]