Tip from the DFB Guide: How to Outsmart the Heat and Crowds at Disney World This Summer

We’re coming into the very hot, very crowded summer months at Walt Disney World. And that gives me a chance to share with you one of my favorite tips from the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining!

2014 dfb guide 3d cover

So, dining in the theme parks is awesome and convenient, since you’re probably already there. BUT, it can also be a hassle…because you’ll get hungry for lunch, well, just about same time that everyone else does!

So one of my favorite tips for dealing with crowds during lunch at Disney Parks? Escape the Parks for lunch at a nearby resort.

The food is as good (and sometimes it’s better) than what you’ll find in the Parks. And with all of that wonderful air conditioning comes another pleasant surprise. Since most guests are busy running to and fro to attractions, you’ll often find little to no wait at Resort restaurants.

When I’m at Magic Kingdom, I love to hop a boat and head for lunch at Trail’s End Restaurant. Located at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort Campground, getting there by boat is actually a smart move, since the restaurant is located all the way at the back of the resort.

Grab this Sticky Bun Sundae -- or another mouth watering menu item -- at Trail's End on your Magic Kingdom Day

Grab this Sticky Bun Sundae — or another mouth watering menu item — at Trail’s End on your Magic Kingdom Day

ESPN Club is a short walk from both Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and it’s a great place to catch up with what’s going on in the world of sports while you cool down!

Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has amazing food, and it’s an easy commute from Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

You Just Might View Some Animals While You Take in Lunch at Sanaa

You Just Might View Some Animals While You Take in Lunch at Sanaa

And don’t forget [Read more…]

The Best (and the Worst!) Pizza in Disney World

Ahhhh…Pizza. Most of us love the stuff, whether it’s high end, low end, or homemade.

bestandworstpizzaindisneyworld

But one thing’s for sure — you and I both know that not all pizza is created equal — and this is definitely true when it comes to Disney.

Today, we’re awarding some Pizza Pie Superlatives. From Best to Worst and Everything In Between, let’s take a look at a few.

And when we’re finished with the awards, I’ve love to hear if you agree! Leave us a comment with your best and worst!

Best All-Around Pizza in Disney World

If you’ve been reading Disney Food Blog for any amount of time, the winner in this category will come as no shock to you. The hands-down best pizza in all of Disney World are the pies you find at Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion.

With authentic ingredients right down to the flour, tomatoes, and water they use, these are some serious pies that come closest to the real deal from Naples, Italy. They also taste the most like my favorite New York Style pizza (Lombardi’s!!!!) — the gold standard, as far as I’m concerned!

Quattro Fromaggi Pizza from Via Napoli

Quattro Fromaggi Pizza from Via Napoli

You can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas you order here, whether you’re getting a personal size, or you’re sharing with the table.

Build Your Own Pizza with Prosciutto

Build Your Own Pizza with Prosciutto (and/or Other Ingredients…Whatever)

We give high marks to the Quattro Formaggi White Pizza, as well as the Build Your Own with Prosciutto. But really, there are no wrong choices here!

Worst Disney World Pizza

When it comes to pizza that you can safely — no, you definitely should — skip, we’ll chalk this up to… [Read more…]

Guest Review: Trail’s End Dinner Buffet at Disney World’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Howdy! Today we’re rustling up some dinner grub at the Trail’s End Restaurant courtesy of guest author Daniel Staten. Don’t forget this restaurant for breakfast and lunch too. Let’s dig in…

The atmosphere at Walt Disney World changes often. With the seasons come new decorations and with the decades come new attractions.

There are a few places at Walt Disney World, however, that evoke a sense of nostalgia while providing a fun environment and novelty. Trail’s End Buffet at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort and Campground is one of those places.

Traveling to Fort Wilderness, and Atmosphere

Nestled far away from the hustle of the Magic Kingdom, Trail’s End feels uniquely Disney. It’s very low-maintenance and rustic.

Trails End Sign

Should you decide to dine at Trail’s End, prepare by factoring in additional travel time to the restaurant. If you arrive by bus or car, plan on an extra 30 minutes from the time you pass through the front gates of the resort.

Trail's End Outside

Trail’s End Outside

Due to the expanse of Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort, a separate inter-resort bus system shuttles guests to and from the main entrance to where Trail’s End is situated.

If you’re visiting the Magic Kingdom during the day and plan to eat at Trail’s End, you have the option of taking a boat. As a veteran Walt Disney World vacationer, I was taken by surprise and was even late to my reservation at Trail’s End due to the unanticipated transportation.

Seating at Trail's End

Seating at Trail’s End

Once you arrive, the tall trees and relaxed atmosphere reminded me of a family reunion, where the details aren’t fussy and the food is plentiful.

Buffet at Trail's End

Buffet at Trail’s End

Eats

For dinner, Trail’s End offers a buffet with several unique and fun options. The selection of meat, sides, and desserts is sure to please families and large groups. In addition, Southerners take note: this is one of the only places at Walt Disney World were you can order traditional sweet tea. At the end of my vacation, I had been tea-free for a week and was certainly experiencing cravings!

Buffet at Trail's End

Buffet at Trail’s End

The buffet area is smaller than newer restaurants like Boma, however we never found it cramped, and this was on a Friday night where we waited about 20 minutes after our Advance Dining Reservation time.

Several items on the buffet proved to be particularly popular, including the fried chicken and BBQ ribs.

Fried Chicken, Salmon, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Fried Chicken, Salmon, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

BBQ Ribs

BBQ Ribs

One of the best things about Trail’s End was the unique dishes that

[Read more…]

Review: Trail’s End Restaurant at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

It’s been a while since I’ve slept in a camper, cabin, or tent, but that doesn’t stop me from loving Trail’s End Restaurant!

Located at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, the down-home spot is one of my favorites for many reasons — but delicious food and reasonable prices top the list.

While I love lunch and dinner at Trail’s End, I hadn’t visited for breakfast before, so I decided it was time to do just that on a recent trip.

Atmosphere

Getting to Trail’s End is half the adventure. It’s located waaaay at the back of the resort, in the area known as the Settlement.

Now, wait. To be fair, adventure is kind of a generous word. It’s actually kind of a pain to get here. Maybe that’s why I like it so much — it’s rarely too packed!

If you’re coming here via bus from a theme park, or via your own car, you’ll park way up at the front of Fort Wilderness and have to take some internal buses to get back to the Settlement. That’s why I prefer to get to Trail’s End and the other Fort Wilderness restaurants via boat from Magic Kingdom, Wilderness Lodge, or the Contemporary — much less intensive on the travel end, and more enjoyable as well.

On this morning we took the bus, so we had some sight-seeing to do on our way from the bus stop back to Trail’s End… .

Welcome to the Settlement!

It’s not uncommon to see horses at Fort Wilderness, where there are carriage and wagon rides available.

Ft. Wilderness Activities

Pioneer Hall shares space with our destination. I love this place! It looks like a giant log cabin. The surrounding by tall pines and live oaks dripping in Spanish moss really give it the feeling of a pioneer settlement.

Pioneer Hall

Pioneer Hall is home to several popular destinations at Fort Wilderness. You’ll find Mickey’s Backyard BBQ close by. But it’s also where you’ll head for an evening of down home fun at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue!

Pioneer Hall -- Up Close

Just past the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue venue, you’ll find our destination for the morning — Trail’s End table-service restaurant. This location shares [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…]

56 Must-Read Disney Dining Secrets from Disney Food Blog

Disney may be the Happiest Place on Earth, but nothing can wreck the happy faster than poor planning.

This is especially true when it comes to one of the most important parts of your trip — eating!

After decades of Disney dining, we’ve perfected some expert tips and advice to get the most out of  your Disney World visit.

Today, we’re sharing our 56 Must-Read Disney Dining Secrets to ensure that you have the magical visit of your dreams!

Top Disney Dining Secrets

Let’s get started!

1. Make dining reservations. Even if you don’t follow any other piece of advice, we can’t say this emphatically enough. To fully appreciate the truly entertaining and delicious array of Disney Dining offerings, you must make advanced dining reservations. If you wait until you arrive at Disney to make table service arrangements, you may miss out on many of your top picks because they will be booked.

Book Dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant 180 Days in Advance to Guarantee a Table

2. BYOP (Bring  Your Own Pepsi). Yep. Those of you who are die-hard Pepsi drinkers will be sad to note that any and all Disney establishments will not carry Pepsi products. It’s a Coke-only zone here! So either bring your own Pepsi, or plan to take a trip to a nearby gas station, convenience store, grocery store, or drug store to pick up your stash. You can also order it and have it delivered directly to your hotel from Garden Grocer.

No Pepsi Here.

3. Don’t miss the must-eat items! After years of eating Disney goodies, we here at Disney Food Blog have amassed quite a list of “must-eat” treats in Disney parks and resorts. Cult favorites like Dole Whip Floats, Zebra Domes, School Bread, and Mickey Bars are high priority when you’re visiting the Happiest Place on Earth. To read up on our favorites, head over to our Best Disney World Restaurants Page for some great “Best Of” posts like Best Cookie Snacks in Disney World, favorite Disney ice cold snacks, Disney’s best grilled cheese, and more! And if you’re headed to Disney World for the first time, you must read our Best Disney Restaurants for First-Timers article — very helpful!

Dole Whip Float! A Must-Eat snack for every Disney guest.

4. Make your reservations 180 days prior to your visit whenever possible. Nope — it’s not enough to just make reservations; you need to make them as early as possible. For most restaurants, that’s 180 days prior to the date you’re seeking. If you’re staying in a Disney hotel, you can book all of your reservations for up to 10 days beginning exactly 180 days before the first day of your trip.

5. Don’t pay for food you don’t want. One of my favorite Disney Dining tips is to be a squeaky wheel when you need to be. Disney is very good at customizing meals, and at counter-service restaurants, your customized meal might even save you some money! For example, [Read more…]

The Most Popular Disney World Restaurants (and Alternatives When They’re Full)

Many Disney guests agree that the most important Disney Dining Tips lists include one specific piece of advice:

Making Advance Dining Reservations is an absolute must when it comes to planning.

While many seasoned Disney travelers are aware of this, there are lots of folks who visit the parks and are stunned to find no tables available at their top restaurant choices. Don’t worry, it happens to all of us at one time or another…and we’ve got solutions for you!

Today, we’ve updated our list of the most popular Disney restaurants, and terrific alternatives if you can’t score a table at your coveted spot!

Let’s take a look at the most elusive restaurants to book these days…

Dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Scoring an advance dining reservation at Be Our Guest Restaurant for their table service dinner can be a daunting task.

Be Our Guest Restaurant Ballroom Dining Room

From the time that they first announced the restaurant’s soft opening until now, we have heard from many readers who haven’t been able to secure a spot at Magic Kingdom’s newest restaurant. Here are a couple of reasons why:

Newness: The biggest reason for this remains the novelty of the place. Be Our Guest and all of New Fantasyland is still the hottest ticket in Walt Disney World since its grand opening in December 2012.

Incredible, Immersive Themeing: The impeccable themeing means that stepping into Beast’s Castle is truly like climbing through a portal into Beauty and the Beast. You almost expect to look down and find your food animated!

The Grey Stuff -- It's Delicious!

Novelty: The French-inspired cuisine that’s served at Be Our Guest is unlike anything else available in all of Magic Kingdom. In addition, there is huge novelty surrounding the fact that you can now order beer and wine in the formerly dry Magic Kingdom (for dinner only).

So, what to do if you can’t [Read more…]

Disney Recipe: Hoop Dee Doo Revue Cornbread from Disney World

It’s no secret that I love Disney World’s Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue in Fort Wilderness. I mean, come on? What’s not to love?

All you can eat picnic food served in metal buckets; all you can drink beer, wine, and sangria; a show that’s been entertaining guests since Disney World first opened? It’s all good.

Napkin Twirling and other Audience Participation Will Occur

And they serve one of my very favorite foods. So we thought it would be fun to share a recipe that can bring home the awesome flavors and fun atmosphere of this fantastic spot: Hoop Dee Doo Cornbread!

Cornbread with a Ball of Butter

Let’s get to it!

Ingredients:
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon [Read more…]

Best Disney World Restaurants for First Time Disney Visitors

Everyday we receive lots of mail from you, our awesome DFB readers, asking for restaurant suggestions and recommendations. And while we certainly have our favorites, we know that you do, too!

So when a Disney first-time visitor recently asked what restaurants we would recommend for their upcoming trip, we couldn’t think of a better panel of experts to ask than YOU!

When I put the question out on the Disney Food Blog Facebook page, I was overwhelmed by the huge and immediate response that I got!

Let’s take a look at your recommendations for the restaurants first timers must experience on that inaugural Walt Disney World trip!

If you have other thoughts or ideas — or, better yet, stories of your favorite restaurants during a first-time visit — please share them with all of us in the comments section! More suggestions are always better!

Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

When it comes to first time Disney dining, the winning restaurant recommendation is, hands down, Chef Mickey’s in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Many of you agree that anyone visiting the Happiest Place on Earth for the very first time MUST experience a buffet that includes lots of character interaction.

Chef Mickey's is highly recommended by our DFB Readers!

But the suggestion is practical, too. Readers pointed out that a character dining experience offers terrific value for your Disney dollar, with an all-you-care-to-eat option.

A View of the Castle from Chef Mickey's

And with the addition of characters, you have a less rushed (and air conditioned!) meet and greet opportunity that guarantees you’ll see lots of characters without waiting in long lines in the parks.

Also, don’t forget that Chef Mickey’s is walking distance from the Magic Kingdom. This is a great
place to start or end your Magic Kingdom day!

Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland

Judging from the reader response, we’d say that Disney definitely hit the mark with one of its newest restaurants, Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland.

Be Our Guest Restaurant Bridge Entrance

Set in Beast’s Castle (from Disney’s animated classic, Beauty and the Beast), the huge eatery is a counter service location for lunch and table service location for dinner (see our “Everything on the Menu!!” Review Here!).

Be Our Guest Restaurant Ballroom

The menu has a French flair — and chefs worked hard to create tasty, interesting meals for the younger set as well.

Be Our Guest Restaurant also has the distinction of being the only spot within Magic Kingdom where guests can order beer and wine. While it broke with tradition when Disney announced the decision to offer adult drinks in the otherwise dry park, they felt it was necessary in keeping with the French-inspired menu.

The Beast occasionally greets visitors in his study during dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Many guests celebrate special occasions at Be Our Guest Restaurant, and if that’s you, be sure to mention it to your server. He may actually bring you a celebratory taste of “The Grey Stuff” — mentioned by Lumiere in the film!

This cookies and cream panna cotta truly is “delicious!”

The Grey Stuff -- It's Delicious!

Guests seem to be loving this spot for many reasons, and Advanced Dining Reservations for dinner remain hard to come by.

While we’ve tasted just about everything here and agree that the food’s quite good, most of you especially love it for the incredible, immersive themeing. So, remember that even if you can’t get a reservation for dinner, you can still enjoy the restaurant itself — including getting a peek at all three dining rooms — if you dine here for a counter-service lunch!

braised pork -- coq au vin at Be Our Guest Restaurant -- for LUNCH!

Here’s a TIP: if at all possible, snag a table in the West Wing and keep an eye on the [Read more…]

More Great Disney Dining Tips from the Experts!

A while back, we polled Disney Food Blog readers — Disney fans who have been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt — on their top Disney Dining Tips.

Not surprisingly, the top tip mentioned was the advice to make Disney Dining Reservations, since you don’t want to be shut out of your favorites or from the most popular restaurants. So this time around we thought it would be fun to ask about their SECOND best Disney Dining Tips!

Read on to see what our Disney Food Blog twitter followers shared as their second best Disney dining tips, and be sure to share in the comments whether you agree or disagree! Share YOUR tips to help your fellow Disney lovers!

Enjoy Some Disney Snacks

We LURVE our Disney snacks around here! And so do our readers! Many of the tips we received were about the favorite classic pre- and post-meal goodies we all love to tuck into in the Parks.

While Brian C. had a unique, sweet option on the mind (“Try the beignets!”), Twitter pal Amber B. writes, “Do NOT skip the Schoolbread!” We can heartily agree!

Norway School Bread

Whether you prefer a sweet or salty treat, there are plenty of cupcakes, cookies and specialty pretzels to choose from.

And if you need a little help selecting the treat you’ll try first, make sure to download our DFB Mini-Guide to Epcot Snacks and our DFB Mini-Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks.

Eat at “Off Hours”

Disney vacationers cannot live on snacks alone, though—there are too many great Disney restaurants!

Several of our twitter friends recommended taking advantage of “off” meal times by enjoying a late breakfast/early lunch, or a late lunch/early dinner! This is when the restaurants are less likely to be packed with families sticking to the traditional meal times.

Coral Reef in Epcot is even more serene during non-traditional dining hours!

Paul B. tweets, “Off hours eating leads to taking advantage of shorter attraction lines during the normal meal times.”  So while everyone else is waiting in the lunch line, you’re able to hop onto Splash Mountain with a much shorter wait.

And when you are ready to enjoy your late lunch, not only will you have a quieter, more intimate meal, but you’re more likely to get a coveted window seat or other special seating area (like a car-booth at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater). Dining bonus!

Awesome convertible car booths at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

Visit the Resorts for Meals

If you’re not able to take advantage [Read more…]