What’s New Around Walt Disney World: March 3, 2015

We’re taking a quick trip around all four Disney World Parks and then making stops at several Resorts, where a lot of food news seems to be taking place as of late!

But we’re starting our “World”-wide tour at Downtown Disney, and taking a peek at how things are shaping up as the transition towards “Disney Springs” continues on. And we may even take a sneak peek at something coming to our friends in Disneyland on the west coast.

Disney Springs mural

Disney Springs mural

So, are you ready to see What’s New? Good! Because in the words of Peter Pan, “Here we GOOOOOOO…”

DOWNTOWN DISNEY

Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC

Okay, so we’ve mentioned it a couple of times recently, but that’s because we’re happy that BabyCakes has a new home in Downtown Disney! Located at The Landing of what will be Disney Springs, Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC has been up and running since 1 pm on Sunday, February 22nd.

Erin McKenna's Bakery storefront

Erin McKenna’s Bakery storefront

Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC

Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC

Erin McKenna

Erin McKenna

Samoa Donut

Samoa Donut

Featuring gluten-free and vegan baked goods, this is great news for guests on some dietary restrictions. Read our opening day review here!

Flour and Sugar

Speaking of baked goods, Flour and Sugar is a little kiosk that can be found on the newly opened Marketplace Causeway. It sells pre-packaged cookies inspired by various cities in the Sunshine State.

Flour and Sugar

Flour and Sugar

We tried the Siesta Key Key Lime S’more, and we’ll have a review here for you soon!

Key Lime S'more

Key Lime S’more

Disney Springs Construction

All in all, things really seem to be picking up speed in Downtown Disney with the Causeway completed, allowing an easy stroll from spots around T-Rex to the Rainforest Cafe side at the Marketplace.

The Marketplace Causeway

The Marketplace Causeway

Light post on The Marketplace Causeway

Light post on The Marketplace Causeway

Disney Springs sign

Disney Springs sign

We’ll be sure to take a little tour along the path when we’re back with our Flour and Sugar review! The next thing we have our eyes on? Look for [Read more…]

Celebrate National Margarita Day Tomorrow, Walt Disney World Style!

We are happy to start a little early celebrating National Margarita Day tomorrow, February 22! Now, this is a holiday I can get behind!!!

If you’ve been here for any amount of time at all, then you know I lurve a good Margarita. (If you’re new here at DFB — welcome…and FYI, I love margaritas!) And some of my very favorites can be found right at Walt Disney World.

Grab some limes and tequila and let’s take a look at our must-drink margs!

Avocado Margarita at La Cava del Tequila

The AguacateAvocado Margarita — from La Cava del Tequila has been one of my very favorites from the first time I sampled it!

It’s a wonderful, made-to-order concoction that blends Avocado, Lime Juice, White Tequila, and Melon Liqueur for a flavor that’s like no other!

Avocado Margarita

Avocado Margarita

My favorite thing about this drink is the perfect balance of the creamy consistency with a sweet flavor — not to mention the tequila :-). A little Agave Nectar and the liqueur balance the flavors nicely.

And thanks to an awesome reader, you and I can even make this one at home today with this recipe, and celebrate this holiday in style!

Blood Orange Margarita at Flying Fish Cafe

Blood Orange is one of my favorite flavors. After all, with the complex, less sweet, almost bitter taste it imparts, it’s a little more interesting than plain old orange…orange.

And it’s especially delicious when paired with other flavors in a margarita. We’ve enjoyed versions of this festive cocktail at San Angel Inn Ristorante, but my favorite one can be found at Flying Fish Cafe.

Blood Orange Margarita

Blood Orange Margarita

If you’re anything like me, if you order this, it’ll be gone pretty quickly! SO good!

Italian Margarita at Via Napoli

One thing that you can count on at Disney when it comes to food and drink is a fun, fusion approach to some of your favorites. Case in point: the Italian Margarita in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion!

I first discovered this delicious drink at Via Napoli, the Italy Pavilion’s fantastic spot for pizza.

Italian Margarita

Italian Margarita

But it’s proven to be so popular, it’s also been available at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in recent years! And fortunately, you can still order it at Italy’s Gelato Stand.

Italian Margarita at the Food and Wine Festival's Italy Booth!

Italian Margarita at the Food and Wine Festival’s Italy Booth!

Flavored with a smooth combination of [Read more…]

Guest Review: Maya Grill at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

It’s an out-of-the-way restaurant that you might have overlooked, so join guest author Rebecca Dolan with a review of Maya Grill at the Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World!

Maya Grill has never been high on my priority list. Even after all these years of Disney trips, I always figured why go to Maya Grill when I can get my Mexican fix at Epcot’s San Angel Inn? Well, I finally broke down and took the plunge, and San Angel is still the way to go.

Atmosphere

As the signature restaurant of the Spanish-colonial inspired Coronado Springs Resort, Maya Grill evokes the cities of the ancient Maya. You’ll find it towards the back of the main building – just head left off the entryway and continue past the Pepper Market.

Maya Grill Sign

The restaurant is centered on a stylized Maya pyramid, under which bubbles a fountain.

Tables around Pyramid

Tables around Pyramid

The walls are decorated with artistic representations of Maya life. Try to get a table near one of the large windows overlooking the hotel’s central lagoon.

Dining Area

Dining Area

Wall Art

Wall Art

Tables by the window could offer a view

Tables by the window could offer a view

I was surprised to encounter a wait when I arrived at the hostess desk, as Maya Grill isn’t exactly one of Disney World’s most in-demand restaurants. Luckily, I’d made a reservation, despite assuming I wouldn’t need one. So, you might find it worthwhile to make one just in case.

Once seated, my companions and I found the restaurant too loud for our taste. The live entertainment, a gentleman singing and playing the guitar with other canned instruments, was deafening and we strained to hear our conversation. So, this is not the place to go for a quiet evening.

Eats

As was expected, the meal started with a basket of chips and salsa. The chips were thick and sturdy, perfect for getting a big scoop of dip without any breakage.

Chips and salsa while you peruse the menu

Chips and salsa while you peruse the menu

The menu consists of pretty typical Mexican fare, like nachos, tacos, chimichangas, and fajitas. There’s a small but clearly marked vegetarian section, and the abundant gluten free options were interspersed but highlighted throughout the whole menu. My non-spicy-food-eating grandmother appreciated the “North of the Border” section of the menu, which offered simpler fare.

Menu

Menu

First up was the queso fundido appetizer, served with flour tortillas for scooping. Unlike the liquid-y chile con queso you’re probably used to, queso fundido is more like the middle of a mozzarella stick: stringy, gooey and most easily eaten with a fork or plucked with a bit of tortilla. Though a bit salty, it’s hard to go wrong with a big bowl of cheese.

Queso fundito and accompanying tortillas for scooping

Queso fundito and accompanying tortillas for scooping

Next were orders of [Read more…]

What’s New Around Walt Disney World: March 19, 2014!

It’s time to take another stroll around Disney World and see what’s new and awesome! We’ve got parade pics, Olaf apples, Gaston-themed headwear, and more! Won’t you please join us :) ?

Fun “Frozen” Finds

Everything’s coming up “Frozen” at Walt Disney World to celebrate the release of the movie on Blu-Ray and DVD.

Blue "Frozen" Treats

Blue “Frozen” Treats

Olaf the Snowman has been bestowed a true Disney character honor… He’s now a Candy Apple!

Olaf Candy Apples

Olaf Candy Apples

Keep an eye out for him in candy locations like Sweet Spells, Main Street Confectionery, Candy Cauldron, and Goofy’s Candy Company… I’m hoping he’s here for the long haul!

You may also spy some favorite treats in a blue hue for a very limited time, including Mickey Krispy Treats and Marshmallow Wands.

Blue "Frozen" Marshmallow Wands

Blue “Frozen” Marshmallow Wands

Downtown Disney

A recent walk around Downtown Disney revealed that  the Disney Food Trucks are making their way around. Previously housed primarily between Cirque du Soleil and House of Blues (and occasionally spotted in the grassy area next to Bongos Cuban Cafe), the Food Trucks we’re spotted in new and different places around the West Side.

For instance, the World Showcase of Flavors truck was parked across from Splitsville.

World Showcase of Flavors Food Truck across from Splitsville

World Showcase of Flavors Food Truck across from Splitsville

And Fantasy Fare has been spotted over in the Marketplace (this is the spot next to World of Disney where Santa’s Chalet can be found during the holidays).

Fantasy Fare Food Truck next to World of Disney

Fantasy Fare Food Truck next to World of Disney

However, the one thing certain about the Food Trucks is that they are ever-changing :) . And we know something new is coming thanks to these Food Truck Park signs found around Downtown Disney.

Food Truck Park coming to Downtown Disney Orlando

Food Truck Park coming to Downtown Disney Orlando

What’s to come? Only time will tell!

The first sure sign of spring at Disney World is the Flower & Garden Festival. But a smaller sign is seeing all the things available to stuff your Easter basket at Ghirardelli.

Ghirardelli Easter Merchandise

Ghirardelli Easter Merchandise

Ghirardelli Easter Merchandise

Ghirardelli Easter Merchandise

Ghirardelli Easter Merchandise

Ghirardelli Easter Merchandise

The Starbucks construction site on the Marketplace side is really starting to take shape. You can now see the triangular top peeking out above the walls, matching the “Coming Soon” artwork.

Starbucks Construction

Starbucks Construction

Artwork on construction walls for Starbucks

Artwork on construction walls for Starbucks

And as new things arrive, we also say [Read more…]

What’s New Around Disney World and Disneyland for March 8, 2014!

There’s lots new to see all over the World and the Land! So settle in, friends, and read on!

Hollywood Studios

We’re starting this round at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant!

Sci Fi Diner

“…It came from the snack bar”

The House-made Sci-Fi Candy Bar has hit the dessert menu: a white and dark chocolate mousse layered between sponge cake and dipped in chocolate ganache.

Sci Fi Dessert Menu

Sci Fi Dessert Menu

There have been a couple of additions to 50’s Prime Time Café as well.

50s Prime Time Sign

50s Prime Time Sign

Another vegetarian entrée has been added to the menu: Sissy’s Vegetarian Favorite Multigrain Spaghetti! “Vegetable Protein and Mushrooms tossed in Marinara Sauce, just like Spaghetti and Meatballs.”

And don’t forget dessert! All your favorites remain, but Old-fashioned Handmade Milk Shakes are listed, featuring the famous “Peanut Butter & Jelly” and the limited time “Red Velvet Cupcake.”

Magic Kingdom

Okay, this next update isn’t about food… it’s just next to food ;) . But I couldn’t resist [Read more…]

News! and Review: Las Ventanas Makes its Debut at Disney World’s Coronado Springs Resort

UPDATE: Please note that as of February 2015, Las Ventanas also serves dinner. Advanced Dining Reservations are also accepted. 

Guess what! Disney World opened a new restaurant, and we’ve got all the details for you! :-)

Nope; you won’t find it at the parks. You won’t even find it at Downtown Disney! Nope — it’s at Coronado Springs, a Mexican-themed moderate resort!

Coronado Springs has a few aces up its sleeve when it comes to dining. The Pepper Market has a great reputation for lots of delicious choices in its unique station-style food court, and no one can argue with the margarita flight available at Rix Lounge and Maya Grill. Today, we’re excited to present the Resort’s brand new restaurant: Las Ventanas!

Las Ventanas entry

Las Ventanas entry

Well…it’s not exactly new. Las Ventanas has always been the private dining room for Rix Lounge. I guess they just realized they needed more table service offerings for conventioneers!

Las Ventanas is open for breakfast and lunch. It’s tucked in a hallway next to Rix Lounge. Since it’s closer to the Convention Center, if you are staying at Coronado as a non-Convention guest, it could be easy to miss. Thankfully, there is a sign in front of the Pepper Market leading the way.

Pepper Market

Pepper Market

Las Ventanas sign with operating hours

Las Ventanas sign with operating hours

Atmosphere

Two things struck me upon entering Las Ventanas. First, the size. It’s small and intimate, due to previously being a private dining room. You’ll nearly be able to see the entire restaurant within these pictures.

Las Ventanas seating

Las Ventanas seating

Las Ventanas

Las Ventanas

There were only 14 or 15 tables in the whole place and, even though the room is small, they were very well-spaced with plenty of room in between each.

Las Ventanas Table

Las Ventanas Table

Second, it’s beautiful. Decor is minimalistic. Rather than being filled to the brim with details, things are kept rather simple. This serves to enhance the atmosphere, as you can truly take in the touches that catch your eye.

Las Ventanas Hanging Lamps

Las Ventanas Hanging Lamps

Fresh flowers on the table

Fresh flowers on the table

Wall decoration

Wall decoration

One thing I can’t share with you in pictures [Read more…]

DFB Food Challenge: The Walt Disney World Gelato Crawl!

There’s not a lot that I love better on a hot day in Florida than a little ice cream. But leave it to Disney World to kick ice cream up a notch by offering Gelato!

Disney World Gelato Crawl

And we’re seeing it in a lot of different spots across Walt Disney World, and even in Disneyland. If you are a fan of this richer, more dense version of that snack we all scream for, then you’re in luck.

Today, we thought it was high-time to offer some inspiration for another DFB Food Challenge, and so we are going in search of all things gelato we can get our hands on with the Walt Disney World Gelato Crawl!

Since you can only enjoy so many desserts in a 24 hour period, feel free to bring along friends to split all the goodies, or pace yourself on the crawl by spreading out the stops over several days.

I hope you came hungry. Let’s get started!

Gelato Bars

Since our very first visit, Landscape of Flavors at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort has been one of our favorite counter service destinations. And one of the biggest reasons for that is their killer Gelato Bar!

If you’re lucky enough to be staying at Art of Animation, this first stop on the Gelato Crawl will be a snap! Check ‘em out!

Gelato at Disney's Art of Animation Resort

Gelato at Landscape of Flavors in Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

But my favorite thing about the Gelato Bar here — aside from the variety of flavors — is that you can also add toppings for a perfectly customized treat.

Toppings! Woo!

Toppings! Woo!

Pick your scoops, pick your sprinkles, and off you go!

My Favorite Combo -- Raspberry and Chocolate

My Favorite Combo — Raspberry and Chocolate

A couple of other Disney resorts also have gelato available. If you’re staying at Disney’s Coronado Resort, feel free to amend your crawl and start your gelato journey at Cafe Rix.

Gelato Flavors and Pricing at Cafe Rix

Gelato Flavors and Pricing at Cafe Rix

You can also check out a pretty awesome selection at End Zone Food Court over at All Star Sports!

End Zone Gelato Bar

End Zone Gelato Bar

Ahhhh…don’t you just love having options??

Gelato Cookie Sandwiches in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

After polishing off your first gelato of the day, head straight for Epcot, where you’ll have lots of different ways to enjoy your frozen favorite! Next stop: the Italy Pavilion.

View from Epcot's Italy Pavilion

View from Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

For your next foray into gelato, stop by the little [Read more…]

Guest Review: Breakfast (and Creme Brulee French Toast) at Pepper Market in Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Welcome Bob Sikon with a review of the Pepper Market’s breakfast offerings at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. After experimenting with buffet meals for breakfast and lunch, the Pepper Market has returned to a la carte menus.

Since our first visit to Walt Disney World in 1999, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort has held a special place in our family’s heart. The same can be said for Coronado’s Quick Service option, the Pepper Market.

In our many visits, we’ve seen Coronado and its Pepper Market change many times as well. It has transformed itself twice – first from an a la carte selection of an eclectic variety of cuisines to a breakfast and lunch buffet and back again. In early 2013, my wife and I got the chance to see the newest incarnation of our favorite quick service restaurant. We went for breakfast several days after it returned to its a la carte roots.

Atmosphere

One thing that hasn’t changed much is the Pepper Market’s decor. For instance, a very familiar site welcomes you to the restaurant, and we would miss it if it was gone.

Welcome to the market!

The Pepper Market's Menu. (Click image for larger version.)

And, as you move through the restaurant, you’ll see that [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…]

Disney Dining Tip from the DFB Guide: Dining at Bars and Lounges in Walt Disney World

When it comes to Disney World, bars and lounges aren’t just adults-only destinations — and they don’t just serve drinks.

In fact, here’s a Best Kept Secret in Disney dining planningDisney bars and lounges can be great places to get a meal with the whole family. These hidden gems are often less crowded than standard restaurants, too!

In The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2013 e-Book, we have an entire section reviewing every single bar and lounge in Walt Disney World. It’s well worth a read to find out great spots to get a full meal or a snack — even with no Advance Dining Reservation!

Now let’s take a peek at a few of our favorites…

English Bulldog with Chips at Rose and Crown Pub in Epcot's UK Pavilion

Bars and Lounges Inside the Theme Parks

A Disney World trip can be hectic (meeting characters, dashing to attractions, and racing off to dining reservations!), so finding a place inside the parks to escape the hoopla is key to a relaxing vacation!

With signature cocktails, cheese plates, fondue, burgers, donuts, pasta, and more, you’ll find some truly inspired menus at Disney World’s bars and lounges. Sometimes you’ll even be able to order from the full menu of a nearby restaurant.

In Epcot, we can highly recommend stopping in to Tutto Gusto in Italy, Rose and Crown Pub in the UK, or La Cava del Tequila in Mexico.

Fireplace Area Seating at Tutto Gusto

At Tutto Gusto, order from an awesome menu of meats and cheeses, paninis, pastas, and more. A relaxing atmosphere and full tables allow for an easy meal for the whole family.

Cheeses, Meats, and Shrimp Cavatappi at Tutto Gusto Lounge in Epcot's Italy

Rose and Crown Pub, attached to Rose and Crown Restaurant, features a fun menu that — gasp! — the kids might even like! We can highly recommend the Scotch Eggs and the British Bulldog sausage (see our review of the British Bulldog here — and the photo at the top of this article)!

Scotch Eggs at Rose and Crown

If you’re there on a weekday, seek out Carl the Bartender and ask him to show you his amazing magic trick!

Carl the Bartender and the tipping pint

At La Cava del Tequila, sample a few Mexican appetizers like chips and salsa, queso, and guacamole along with your margaritas!

Chips and queso at Cava del Tequila

Another favorite place to unwind in the parks and get a great meal is at Tune-In Lounge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Here, you can get great shakes for the kids, fun signature drinks for [Read more…]