Fancy Flights: Margaritas, Whiskey, and Beer, Oh My!

When most people hear the word “flight” when referring to a menu — they automatically think “wine flight.” Well, while Disney restaurants have some spectacular wine flights (Sanaa…yum!), there are also plenty of other kinds of flights that I can recommend you order up post haste on your next visit! :-)

Margarita Flight

This beautiful little tray of heaven (as I like to refer to it) sports five gorgeous mini-margaritas. On my last visit, we were treated to Lime, Pineapple, Hibiscus, Jalapeno, and Mango Blueberry flavors on the tray, but the tequila geniuses that have taken over the creation of the bar menus at Disney’s Mexican food joints are always dreaming up new and inventive options. My favorites? Lime, Mango Blueberry, and Pineapple. But that Jalapeno will definitely knock your socks off with flavor.

Margarita Flight

You can get these at most of Disney’s Mexican food locations, including Maya Grill and Rix Lounge at [Read more…]

2011 Disney Dining Plan Changes

It’s a new year, and we wanted to walk you through the ins and outs of what’s changed and what’s stayed the same when it comes to the Disney’s Dining Plan (DDP) in 2011! Fans and critics of the DDP will notice only a few changes this year:

Disney Dining Plan Snack Credit Logo

Standard Disney Dining Plan

  • The standard DDP was $41.99 per adult per night and has been bumped to $45.99 for the value and regular seasons. The rates for kids ages 3-9 remained the same at $11.99 per night.
  • Peak season 2011 rates will apply February 17-26, March 11-April 30, June 3-August 13 and December 21-31. Adult rates rose from $46.99 per night to $47.99. The nightly rate for children age 3-9 remained the same at $12.99 per night.
  • For Quick-Service, Table-Service and Private In-room meals, the option to order juice at breakfast in addition to a non-alcoholic beverage was deleted. Perhaps guests were [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: January 9, 2010

Lady and the Tramp Cake Topper

Howdy, all! We are firmly ensconced in 2011, and I hope it’s treating you well. First up, as always, the news! But stay tuned — lots of great new sites in the round-up this week!

And now — on to the round-up!

A Wedding Cake Blog showcases some gorgeous and whimsical Disney Wedding Cake Toppers! Belle, Cinderella, Bride and Groom Ear Hats, even Lady and the Tramp!

WDW for Grownups has a fun primer on couponing in the Disney World area — check it out and save some cash on meals and entertainment the next time you’re in Orlando!

Two Boos Who Eat takes us to Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen and Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor in Disneyland!! YUM!

Jessica Loves Cupcakes gives us an overview of cupcakes in Disneyland — including a fun Minnie Mouse cupcake antenna topper I hadn’t even seen before!

Main Street Gazette takes us on a tantalizing tour of The Wave at Disney’s Contemporary Resort!

RoriTravel’s Florida takes us out to Rix Lounge at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort!

WDW Radio focuses on the UK pavilion with guest stars Mark and Emma (my new friends from the UK!)

A Taste of Wonderland covers a few of the new dining spots in WDW!

Review: Margaritas at Epcot’s La Cava del Tequila

You guys know how much I love Epcot’s new tequila bar, La Cava del Tequila. Located in the pyramid of Epcot’s Mexico pavilion, the Cava opened in August 2009 and has been a huge success!

The interior of this place is so cozy; it’s one of those hidden Walt Disney World gems that you just cherish once you find it. Heavy, painted furniture sits on large, rough tile. And the mural along the wall depicts [Read more…]

Review: San Angel Inn Restaurante

Well, we finally did it. After dreading a trip back to Epcot’s San Angel Inn in the Mexico pavilion due to a couple of bad meals there, we booked an ADR. It was more a “we have to go because I write a food blog” thing than an avid desire to give the restaurant another chance, but…as it turns out…we’d been missing out for far too long.

Atmosphere
Atmosphere has always been the main selling feature of San Angel Inn. Located inside the Epcot Mexico pyramid with seating along the Gran Fiesta Tour river, this restaurant offers a fun ambiance that you just won’t get anywhere else (besides Blue Bayou in Disneyland, maybe!).

Because the Mexico Pavilion’s pyramid is home to the set-up of a Mexican village in the evening, the restaurant is in a perpetual state [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: July 4th, 2010

Happy July 4th

Happy Independence Day!

The big news this week is: Only 90 days until the 2010 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival begins!! I’ve re-vamped the 2010 Epcot Food and Wine Festival page to be even more useful for your planning. (Breaking news, including the new info on the Grand Marnier Tasting event, is at the top of the page.)

Also, don’t forget that the new Taste of Africa Street Party is slated to begin this week in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. AND those Downtown Disney cooking classes are calling your name on July 10th!

Finally, stay tuned this week for more info about the WDW Foodie Fest meet-up on October 3rd, 2010!! Save the date!

Now, on to the round-up!

Food Finds With Robin showcases some delicious photography that captures some sweet treats in Disneyland.

Main Street Gazette takes us to Cafe Rix in Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

A Taste of Disney whips up a batch of Le Cellier’s Beer and Cheese Soup in this cool video. He also gives you the recipe if you’d like to make it at home.

The OC Register reports that Disneyland Resort’s liquor license has been updated to allow special bar set-ups for this summer’s Glow Fest in Disney California Adventure.

Chip and Co takes a look at casual dining options in the Magic Kingdom.

Disney Shawn checks out Surf Doggies in Typhoon Lagoon.

The Daily Disney shares the recipe for Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli from California Grill. Yum!

All Ears Net has a fun photo gallery of the Polynesian Resort’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show.

Theme Park Insider has announced the winners for the 9th Annual Theme Park Insider Awards. Bistro de Paris and Chefs de France have taken top spots in the running! See Orlando Restaurant Guru Scott Joseph’s take here.

The Disney Parks Blog posted some great stories this week, from the wonderful (Coffee With Walt) to the helpful (Top 5 Restaurants Where You Get the Most for Your Money) to the delicious (Sweet Treats for Summer)!

photo source: burgers

5 Best Quick-Service Dining Plan Values

Wolfgang Puck Express

You heard about our Five Best “One-Credit” Table-Service Values last week, so I wanted to share what I believe to be the five best quick-service values today! These are my picks based on what you get for one quick-service credit on the Disney Dining Plan; they may not stand up as the best when we consider paying out of pocket.

Hopefully this will be useful to those of you heading down to the World for free dining this fall!

Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney (West Side and Marketplace)

With the famous (and delicious) rotisserie chicken ringing up at over $14 plus tax, it costs more than some table service meals. Some of the salads and sandwiches alone will cost [Read more…]

Dining In Disney World With Kids: Part 1

Introducing the Disney Food Blog Dining in Disney World With Kids two-part series! Thanks to Zannaland for guest blogging Part 1, where she includes a few of her favorite family secrets. And stay tuned for tomorrow’s Part 2 in the series, where Disney World Moms Panelists determine the best dining locations for kids of certain ages. There are some very informative and surprising ideas that I think you’ll enjoy!

Parent or not, the wonderful dining options and experiences for kids at Disney World are no secret. But what if you don’t want to spend your entire vacation doing character meals? (Not that there’s anything wrong with those — they offer some of the best food on property!) What I’d like to share are some of the dining secrets we’ve discovered over the years as the best options for something different. They may just become regular favorites for your family!

Best Location For a Nap

    maya

  • Maya Grill - This restaurant became a favorite of ours during a stay at Coronado Springs Resort when we were unable to secure a breakfast reservation anywhere else. We had been to Maya Grill for dinner on its opening night, but hadn’t tried it for breakfast. We were so pleasantly surprised by the food as well as the fact that it was not crowded at all. It was nice to enjoy a peaceful, leisurely breakfast for a change. For that reason, it makes it a great location for a stroller-bound child to enjoy a nap without interruption. The location also makes for some lovely scenery as you walk off your meal.
  • Columbia Harbor House - Magic Kingdom’s hustle and bustle excitement is sometimes too much for the littlest guests, and all the over-stimulation leads to not wanting to nap at all. Columbia Harbor House is a respite from that stimulation. The dark paneling and dimly lit interior ensure no distractions for tired kids. Even on the hottest of days, it’s always cool and calm inside. Sometimes, the second floor is open for even more secluded dining. Once they wake up, there are some great kids’ favorites here like Mac & Cheese and Chicken Nuggets.

Best Entertainment

    sanaa

  • Sanaa - Animals are perhaps the most engaging entertainment for little kids. Young kids are just learning different animals’ names and habitats, but even older kids will be fascinated by the on-going show happening just outside the dining room windows at Sanaa, located in Disney’s Kidani Village in Animal Kingdom
    Lodge. The best part is the show is completely unpredictable and different each time you visit. Your server is also able to tell you more about the animals as well as the unique cooking options offered at Sanaa, making it a great learning experience for all.
  • Germany’s Biergarten - One of my fondest childhood memories at Disney World is seeing the German Ocktoberfest show in Epcot’s World Showcase for the first time. More than just the great music and singing, guests are invited onto the dance floor to show off their best polka moves. Wonderful memories and photo opportunities are to be had here watching kids dance with parents and grandparents. It’s also an easy-to-walk-in location if you don’t have reservations.

Best Kids’ Activities

  • Olivia’s - Disney Food Blog’s recent entry about Olivia’s reminded me of this favorite spot, located at Disney’s Old Key West Resort. Amazing food and scenery aside, Olivia’s offers a special treat for all children – Olivia’s Artist of the Day. Upon arrival, kids are given a coloring sheet and crayons to color however they wish. Then they turn in their masterpieces, and twice a day – morning and evening – cast members choose an Artist of the Day. The chosen artwork is displayed at the front hostess stand, and the winning child gets to ring a bell in celebration. Despite the sibling rivalry when my son was chosen first, both kids were chosen during our stay and it made for quite the memorable experience.
  • Whispering Canyon Cafe Warnings

    Whispering Canyon Cafe Warnings

    Whispering Canyon Cafe - This is perhaps not a real secret to many Disney World fans, but I couldn’t pass up talking about it. Whispering Canyon Cafe offers some of the best entertainment around, and there really isn’t a set show at all! Here, your servers are the entertainment, often yelling back and forth to each other and joking around. For even more fun, ask for ketchup. (If you’re shy, sit back and wait for someone else to ask for it; I’ve never been there when someone hasn’t asked for ketchup, and the fun ensues.) There are also several times when kids can engage in pony races using wooden hobby horses. There is definitely no shortage of entertainment for kids and adults here.

WDW Moms Panelists Consider: What Are Some Underrated Disney World Restaurants?

Here’s our third post in the Walt Disney World Moms Panel mini-series! You’ve met some of the moms and heard about their most magical Disney dining moments and their thoughts about the best dining values in Disney World. Today we get to hear what restaurants the moms think might not grab the spotlight as much as they should…

From Mom Erin F.

The Wave Trio of Desserts

The Wave Trio of Desserts

The Wave – really nice stuff and good wine flights. Good tasting desserts, and they have really lovely food.

Another one that I tried – Raglan Road – had really delicious food. And I was very pleasantly surprised by the food on the plate (I had shepherd’s pie). The Strawberry Salad was poppin’ in your mouth delicious. If they can make a basic green salad so tasty, they’ve got something good going on.

From Mom Amber V.

The two places that come to mind are the Grand Floridian Cafe and Maya Grill. I think they both get lost in the shuffle, especially if you aren’t staying at the Grand Floridian or Coronado Springs. When we ate at Maya Grill, we were able to walk up and get a table without an ADR, which was a surprise. We found the menu, service and atmosphere to be really wonderful. The Grand Floridian Cafe is a great choice for a refreshing, light lunch and is also a nice respite from the parks.

From Mom Anna S.

It seems to me that the one restaurant I can ALWAYS get a reservation for is Restaurant Marrakesh at EPCOT, and I love it there. We have had some of the best, most attentive servers of our Disney dining experiences there, and there is never the feeling that you are being rushed so they can turn the tables over. The kids enjoy the music and dancing, and the food is delicious. We eat here at least every other visit.

From Mom Jennifer W.

Flying Fish Cafe! I rarely hear anyone talking about makings ADRs here, and it is one of the best restaurants at WDW! It is a bit on the pricey side but worth every dime. The chef will even come to your table to personally discuss your order if you like. The atmosphere is a calming change from the hustle and bustle of many restaurants and the food is top notch. I highly recommend The Flying Fish to all my friends who are looking for something different at WDW.

From Mom Kara B.

Walt Disney On-Screen at Sci-Fi Dine In

Walt Disney On-Screen at Sci-Fi Dine In

Disney provides a chance to experience something new and exciting around every corner, so often for us a magical Disney experience may be more about the experience rather than the actual food. For example, Sci-Fi is an absolute must see for us every trip, regardless of the constant criticism regarding the food. Stick with hamburgers and milkshakes and all is good (I’ll gladly share that their tofu entree is de-lic-ious!). However for us, it is clearly the atmosphere that makes this restaurant a must-do. In the middle of a hot trip (we visit in June), escaping into the cool “night” air is so relaxing. The kids sit in the front seat; my husband and I sit in the back. We feel like we are on a date because the kids are shockingly silent watching those campy movies. In fact, the entire restaurant is eerily quiet. Again, total relaxation. And of course, we all get those silly drinks with light-up ice cubes and use them at home for a fun souvenir.

From Mom Joanne M.

1. Fulton’s Crab House, Downtown Disney. Awesome view, fantastic food, and great selection. We love going there for lunch before heading to DisneyQuest. It’s not on the Disney Dining Plan, so we’ve never had a problem getting a table.

2. Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian Resort. The food is great, and where else can you simply turn your head and watch Wishes?

3. Kona Cafe – I have to say I’m not sure that this one is underrated, but I was so pleasantly surprised by the dining experience I have to mention it. The service was fabulous and attentive, menu varied, and great food! And the Kona Kone is the coolest dessert on Disney property!

From Mom Heather R.

In the Magic Kingdom I think the Plaza Restaurant is a real hidden gem. The location is quite convenient, and while the menu is somewhat limited, the food is excellent and the portions are quite large. My Chicken Strawberry Salad was not only delicious, but HUGE – easily shared between two people.

At the Fort Wilderness Resort, the Trail’s End Restaurant serves up home cooking style food at a very reasonable price, and since it’s a buffet (and a reasonably priced one at that!) it offers a good bang for your buck.

The Grand Floridian Cafe (guess where?) is also a real hidden gem. I can’t recommend any one particular standout menu item, but I know that every meal I’ve had there has been very good, service was attentive, and I leave intending to visit again. In a way I like it when that happens, because if I eat somewhere and have a particularly fantastic dish, I’m very likely to never try anything else! It’s good to branch out. :)

From Mom Whitney P.

Where do I begin? The Boardwalk Pizza take-out window is one of the best values, with a pepperoni pizza slice at $3.99! Its crust is like no other pizza on property! My indulgence is opening packet after packet of parmesan cheese and topping it off. I like to eat it outside at one of the nearby tables and people-watch. That, with a view of the water, is a great dining experience whether you’re alone or with your family.

If you’re looking for night-life, I recommend Kimono’s at the Swan. I’m a fan of karaoke and can sing with the best of them–from the comfort of my seat! It has the most extensive sushi menu on property, in my opinion, and if no one has the guts to get on the small stage and belt something out, you can sing along with the evening’s hostess.

From Mom Jo Y.

My family love Kona Cafe at the Poly, last trip I had the most delicious steak there, I much preferred it to Le Cellier and recommend it to everyone. I love how they have sample desserts on show as you enter the restaurant and if you time it right you can wander down to the beach afterwards to watch Wishes!

From Mom Kim L.

The Paint Room at Backlot Express

The Paint Room at Backlot Express

My family loves to eat at the Backlot Express at Disney’s Hollywood Studios when we are looking for a counter service meal. There’s always a quiet corner with fascinating props to view.

Also, Olivia’s Cafe at Old Key West serves wonderful dishes in a relaxing atmosphere. This is a hidden gem.

From Mom Kay B.

I think one of the most underrated food spots is Citricos. This is an unbelievable restaurant that is constantly being overshadowed by Victoria and Alberts at the Grand Floridian. It is family friendly yet can still be a romantic spot with a table in the inner room by the windows. The food is excellent from appetizers through desserts and the service has always been outstanding. They also have a nice wine room that can be reserved for a little more intimate dinner opportunity.

Another table service restaurant that is often forgotten and shouldn’t be is Artist Point in the Wilderness Lodge. This is another outstanding location for food, service and ambiance.

In the counter service category I would say that Flametree in the Animal Kingdom park is not remembered and this is the one place we will go and not try to get dining reservations because we would all rather just eat at this counter service location. The barbecue is excellent, served in large portions, and then the area to sit in is quiet and relaxing. We take the path down to the lake and sit under the cool trees to catch a breeze on a hot day.

From Dad Doug I.

I think that Biergarten does not get it’s due as a fun dinner venue. While I can think of a few German classics that should be added to the menu, the buffet combines a lot of great choices, as well as some americanized selections for choosy kids. And the entertainment value is a nice plus. Finally, I love that you can meet people in their long table seating arrangements.

I also like San Angel Inn more than most. Having grown up in Mexico City, I think that some of the selections there are more authentic Mexican than you can typically find in the U.S., but it seems to get panned for cuisine, often by guests looking for more Tex-Mex style choices (which I love too!).

From Mom Jodi G.

I think sometimes the resort restaurants are overlooked, and the restaurants at Animal Kingdom Lodge are top-notch.  Jiko, in particular, is my favorite restaurant on property.

Sleepy Hollow's Homemade Ice Cream Sandwich

Sleepy Hollow's Homemade Ice Cream Sandwich

From Mom Beth C.

The Sleepy Hollow in Magic Kingdom is a great spot to grab a treat. They have homemade chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches. You can watch them bake the cookies right there! Sleepy Hollow is located right over the bridge as you cross into Liberty Square. It is a great place to get a snack before the parade or fireworks or if you are walking to the other attractions in this area.

From Mom Margaret F.

One location that our family really loves and I think misses some of the spotlight is Mama Melrose at Hollywood Studios. While it is often crowded, I think it often does not get the attention it deserves. We love the feel of the restaurant, with the warehouse setting and open kitchen. It is very family friendly and comfortable. The menu slection is top notch. The flatbread choices are delicious, and the bruschetta is superb. The pasta choices have a perfect blend of herbs and spices. My favorite here is the sirloin with grilled asparagus and red wine sauce. Mouth-watering for sure!

Thanks again to all the “moms” who are participating in the interviews!

Don’t forget, if you’d like to share your “most magical Disney Dining moment,” send me an email! I’m collecting stories and will post them in the next post of “Chicken Soup for the Disney Foodie soul!”

Best Disney World Restaurants When You Don’t Have A Reservation!

It’s happened to all of us — you need some eats and have no advanced dining reservation (ADR) for a meal at Disney World. No matter if it’s on purpose or by accident, sometimes those nights you have to “wing it” can end in a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter from the Hess Station if you’re not prepared (speaking from experience!). DisneyFoodBlog readers have pulled together their suggestions for the best Disney World restaurants they count on when they’re starving and minus a reservation (thanks again for everyone who contributed)! Quick reminder, though, when Disney World’s busy, you’re probably going to have a wait everywhere. These might get you in a little quicker…

Best Disney World Restaurants for When You Don't Have a Reservation

Marrakesh
Restaurant Marrakesh, Morocco, Epcot’s World Showcase
Coming in strong at the top is Restaurant Marrakesh, serving authentic African Mediterranean dishes in a beautiful setting. Wind through Morocco’s medina to the back of the pavilion to find the small door of the restaurant. The King of Morocco sent his own artisans and tile-workers to create the Morocco pavilion, and Marrakesh’s decor is stunning. (Even if you’re not dining there, head in to take a picture or two!)

Marrakesh Dining Room

Marrakesh Dining Room

Marrakesh Decor

Marrakesh Decor

The Dinner Menu at Marrakesh includes plenty of couscous, the National dish of Morocco, along with chicken, mussels, and other authentic cuisine.

Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic Salmon

Sampler Platter

Sampler Platter

For more food photos, just visit the umbrella’d podium at the front of the Morocco pavilion; they’ve set up a cast member with a large photo album of food pictures of the dishes at Restaurant Marrakesh in hopes of driving more traffic to the establishment.

Bonus: There’s some great entertainment — belly dancers! — at Restaurant Marrakesh!

Biergarten, Germany Pavilion, Epcot’s World Showcase
Biergarten in Epcot’s Germany was a shock to me when it came in at the number two spot for places to go without an ADR (good to know that I can head over there anytime!)! Every review I’ve seen of Biergarten has been positive, and with family-style seating (meaning you’ll probably be seated at a long table with one or two other parties) and some fantastic entertainment, the restaurant offers great opportunity for fun.

Celebrating With Steins!

Celebrating With Steins!

Christmas Entertainment

Christmas Entertainment

Dancing the Night Away

Dancing the Night Away

Riiiiiiiicolaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Riiiiiiiicolaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Not sure the menu will agree with you? Biergarten is a buffet, which means there’s something for everyone! Lots of spaetzel, wurst, pretzel, and sauerkraut, but there’s mac n cheese, too, just in case!

Famous Pretzel Bread Rolls

Famous Pretzel Bread Rolls

Wurst and More

Wurst and More

Carving Board

Carving Board

Maya Grill, Coronado Springs Resort
Maya Grill came in a distant third in the poll, but it was mentioned several times and deserved a spot in the blog. This restaurant is located in Coronado Springs Resort and serves dishes representative of the resort’s southwestern USA and northern Mexico theme.

Maya Grill

Maya Grill

As a general rule, restaurants at Disney’s moderate-level and Disney Vacation Club resorts don’t fill up as fast as the theme park and regular resort restaurants, so these are good spots to stop for an unplanned meal.

Other Suggestions
While these three were the most-suggested, there were several others mentioned that you should keep in the back of your mind as “just-in-case” locations. Thanks again to everyone who contributed ideas!:

Captain’s Grille, Yacht Club Resort
Olivia’s, Old Key West Resort
Rainforest Cafe, Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Kona Cafe, Polynesian Resort
San Angel Inn, Epcot’s World Showcase, Mexico
Yak and Yeti, Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Turf Club, Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa
Mama Melrose, Disney’s Hollywood Studios Theme Park
Nine Dragons, Epcot’s World Showcase, China
Trails End, Fort Wilderness Resort
Grand Floridian Cafe, Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
ESPN Zone, Disney’s Boardwalk
Big River Grille and Brewing Works, Disney’s Boardwalk
Fulton’s Crab House, Downtown Disney
Raglan Road, Downtown Disney
The Plaza Restaurant, Magic Kingdom Theme Park

Let me know your thoughts (and YOUR top spots for grabbing an unplanned meal!) via facebook, twitter, or email!

Check out the other “Best Disney World Restaurants” in our series!