Disney Food for Families: Fun Without Characters

When first-time families think of dining at Walt Disney World, the main thing that comes to mind for fun is character meals. After that, they’re at a loss about ideas for amusing places to eat. What to do?

No worries; even if character experiences aren’t on your agenda, there’s still plenty of fun to be had dining at Disney. These spots are particularly good if you have children of different ages in your party. The younger kids will be having a great time, even if their older siblings are “too cool” for characters.

Here’s the primer on getting the fun…without the fur ;-)! We have focused on restaurants that have entertainment and shows, spots that have entertaining waitstaff and themes, and places that have great kid-friendly (and interesting!) “views.”

Restaurants with Entertainment

These spots have a live show, movie, or something else that will hold your kids’ attention while they eat. Most of them are interestingly themed as well.

Dinner at the Dine-In

Sci-Fi Dine-In, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Sit in a car-shaped table, facing a movie screen, just like you’re at an old-time Drive-In movie. The movies playing are campy clips from 1950s and 60s science fiction gems like Plan 9 From Outer Space and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

Along with film snippets, you see drive-in promo pieces such as a dancing hot dog advertising the refreshment stand. The movie reel is totally silly, and for many kids, this is the only way they’ll get to experience this classic slice of Americana.

The best part? Your kids can order the Picnic Burger — a hamburger AND hot dog in one! See a recent Disney Food Blog Sci-Fi Dine-In review here.

Raglan Road, Downtown Disney Orlando
Visit in the evenings and be treated to Irish bands and step dancers on the center stage.

It’s the best of all possible pub experiences, with great food and a gargantuan [Read more…]

Best Disney Fried Chicken

I can’t believe I haven’t done a best fried chicken post, yet, but maybe that’s because I was subconsciously waiting until I got the chance to try the fried chicken wonderfulness at The Plaza Inn in Disneyland!

Whatever the reason, it’s time to jump into a big vat of fatty, greasy flavor today on the DFB!!!! Let’s talk chicken-that-is-fried!!! Here are three of my very favorite Disney fried chicken versions. Let me know your favorites in the comments section so I can try ‘em!

The Best Fried Chicken at Walt Disney World

50’s Prime Time Cafe Fried Chicken, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney World

Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken at 50’s Prime Time Cafe has always been one of my favorite meals in Disney World.

It’s served with mashed potatoes, gravy, and southern greens, but if you’re like me and know you won’t eat the greens, it’s best to substitute beans or something else you will eat. Don’t want to end up standing in the corner for not eating your veggies, do you? ;-)

Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried chicken

A large portion, this one, so don’t forget to come prepared with an empty stomach! And if you’d rather try a bit of this along with some of the restaurant’s other two signature dishes — pot roast and meatloaf — get the 50’s Prime Time Cafe sampler platter!

Plaza Inn Fried Chicken, Disneyland Park

Yep, I’ve been told that the Plaza Inn Fried Chicken is wonderful and indeed it is! The Plaza Inn has been touting this chicken as its specialty for years, and there’s good reason.

Plaza Inn Fried Chicken

Plaza Inn is a table-service character restaurant for breakfast, but turns into a counter-service “cafeteria” spot for lunch and dinner. Just walk in and find the fried chicken station, then [Read more…]

Disney Food New Year’s Resolutions — What’s on Your Bucket List?

All right, all, I’ve been writing this blog every day for nearly three years now, and there are still a few Disney Food items on my bucket list if you can believe it!

They always say that if you share your goals and resolutions with your friends you’re more likely to stick with them, so I’m sharing them with you guys in the hope that you’ll keep me accountable to accomplish these! :-)

And if you have your own Disney Food resolutions or bucket list items, let me know in the comments section below! I’d love to hear what you guys want to see/do/eat in the parks and resorts!

Here we go!

Resolution 1: Dine at the New Disney Restaurants

Oh my GOODNESS, you guys, there are SO many restaurants opening this year! In Disney World, there are Be Our Guest Restaurant and Gaston’s Tavern in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland, and the new Landscapes Cafe at the Art of Animation Resort.

Gaston's Tavern Concept Art...does anyone else think that turkey leg makes that girl look like she has a beard?

In Disneyland, we’ve got Flo’s V-8 Cafe (“Eat here and get gas!”), the Cozy Cone Motel, and Fillmore’s Taste-In in Cars Land; the new Carthay Circle Theater Restaurant; and the Jolly Holiday Bakery and the updated indoor Carnation Cafe.

Artist Rendering of Cars Land and Flo

And — while I’m pretty sure it’s (to quote Deborah Gibson) “only in my dreams” to try them — there are the new restaurants on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship and the restaurants at [Read more…]

Guest Review: Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

Welcome back James Hummel with a rousing review of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. You may want to kick up your heels after this fun read! By the way — don’t forget that Hoop Dee Doo experienced a few changes after a copyright battle this summer…

Hoop Dee Doo Revue Review – Yee ha! I had read and heard many things about Hoop Dee Doo Revue leading up to my last vacation. I was always reluctant to attend Pioneer Hall as it never seemed like an accessible location. Since I was staying in the Cabins at Fort Wilderness, it was the perfect opportunity to check out one of the most talked about dining experiences in Walt Disney World.

If you aren’t staying at Fort Wilderness, Wilderness Lodge or the Contemporary, Pioneer Hall can be a challenge to get to. In most cases you have to make your way to either the Magic Kingdom and hop on the Fort Wilderness boat (recommended) or get to one of the other 3 parks and take the Fort Wilderness bus (not recommended; it will end up being a 2-bus ride as you have to take a second internal bus to get to the hall). If you are staying at Wilderness Lodge or the Contemporary, it’s a simple and relaxing boat ride.

Atmosphere

Once at Fort Wilderness and Pioneer Hall, you’ll feel like you’re in an old Western town, complete with horse carriages and a Trading Post. Kids can have fun before and after the show in the sizable playground and with old time games like horseshoes (rubber shoes for safety). If you time your reservation right, you can sit on the Bay Lake beach and catch Wishes and the Electrical Water Pageant.

Pioneer Hall at Fort Wilderness

So, what’s the dinner show all about?

Inside the hall, you feel like you are sitting in an old stage saloon. Families sit at large tables on the lower level or in the balcony. We sat on the lower level, under the balcony. Our table was taller so that we could see over the other tables, and we sat on swivel chairs so we could swing around while we were eating.

Inside Pioneer Hall

Eats

Dinner is served family style and is all-you-care-to-eat. When we sat down we were provided with [Read more…]

Disney Food Pics of the Week: Creative Containers

DFB readers feed our foodie obsession with photos submitted to the Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza on Flickr! Help soothe our visual cravings by sending in your photos too!

The Disney Food Pics of the Week this week feature food presented in creative containers. Let’s take a look!

This salad is served during the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue’s dinner show.
Photographer: Amanda White/OhAmanda

Hoop Dee Doo salad

Dine at the Royal Palace on the Disney Dream to have your bread service via carriage!
Photographer: Kristen Kirk VanTassle/TheDVCMom

Bread Carriage

Dim Sum Basket for Two at Yak & Yeti in the [Read more…]

Review: Trail’s End Dinner Buffet (and NEW Baked Potato Bar!)

Trail’s End in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort has gone through a few changes over the past year. A new a la carte menu at lunch is winning raves, and now a new baked potato bar at the dinner buffet is heartily praised as well! Can’t wait to hear your comments!

The Trail’s End restaurant is especially fun because of the journey it takes to get to Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. Whether you arrive via bus, boat, golf cart or bike, you’ll find yourself naturally immersed in this far-away setting.

Trail’s End is nestled in the Settlement area of the resort, which is also home to the popular Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show, Crockett’s Tavern, and the Settlement Trading Post, which serves as the general store.

Trail's End Sign

Atmosphere

Trail’s End, Crockett’s Tavern, and the Hoop-Dee-Doo share space in Pioneer Hall, where visitors can sit for a spell in a rocking chair or play checkers on the porch.

Cozy Porch

Inside, the rustic atmosphere invites guests to unwind while savoring a buffet comprised of down-home good eats.

Lower Seating Area

Eats

Once seated your server will offer beverages. I just love [Read more…]

“You Know You’re Dining in Disney When…” Part Two!

We freely admit that our first “You Know You’re Eating in Disney World When…” post amused us so much that we had to do a Part 2! After all, where else can we dine with a beloved mouse in the kitchen!

Our “You know you’re eating in Disney World when…” thoughts were bountiful, and we’d love to hear yours too! Who knows…there may just have to be a third post in the series!

Leave us a comment with your personal “You know you’re eating in Disney World or Disneyland when…” experience! ;-)

You Know You’re Dining In Disney When…

Your beverage glows in the dark!

Disney's Blue Glow-Tini

You find it appropriate to have your server correct your manners (and, frankly, get kind of annoyed when they don’t!).

Take your elbows off the table!

You order ketchup and have multiple bottles delivered to your table by a dozen patrons seated near you.

Whispering Canyon Cafe Ketchup Delivery

There’s a train [Read more…]

Thanksgiving Meals at Fort Wilderness and Magic Kingdom’s Diamond Horseshoe

Fort Wilderness Restaurants

Howdy! Round up your crew for the annual Thanksgiving at the Fort! Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground will host countrified meals on Thursday November 24, 2011. And the Diamond Horseshoe will open its doors for table-service and counter-service meals on Turkey Day as well! Yee-haw!

Thanksgiving at the Fort

Mickey & Minnie (and some of their favorite friends) invite you to dine with them at the ranch. Look for Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald, Pocahontas, Meeko, Country Bears, and Chip & Dale. (Characters are subject to change.) At this hoe-down you’ll hoot ‘n holler with the live entertainment including a country band and Trevor the Trick Roper.

This outdoor event rolls out an all-you-can eat buffet of comfort foods in an outdoor, covered pavilion where you’ll be seated family-style with other guests. After you wrangle up some good grub, kick up your heels and dance away those calories!

Location
Fort Wilderness Pavilion (Home of Mickey’s Backyard BBQ)

Seating Times [Read more…]

New Credit Card Guarantee Requirements and Technology Affect Disney Dining Reservations

Chef Mickey's Cracking Down on Skipping Reservations

UPDATE: See bottom of post for some FAQs and answers via a Disney Dining Phone representative.

In the past several weeks, Disney has instituted a few new technologies and requirements to better regulate the Disney World Dining Reservations Systems. These are largely being put into place to deter the ever-increasing practices of double-booking dining reservations, or simply skipping reservations without canceling them.

Double-booking and skipping reservations in restaurants that fill up six months in advance means that a large percentage of dining reservations are not being used, which, in turn, means that fewer guests are able to dine at these locations, and less money is made in each restaurant.

To improve this process, Disney has (or will be) instituting three new practices:

  • Mandatory Credit Card Guarantees on Signature and Character Dining Location Reservations
  • Reservation Reminder Emails
  • Disallowing Double-Bookings

Credit Card Guarantees Required for Signature and Character Dining Locations Starting October 26th

In order to deter skipped reservations at Disney’s most expensive and popular properties, Disney will begin requiring credit card guarantees on many restaurants beginning October 26th, 2011.

What does this mean for us as guests? Basically, you’ll be required to give a valid credit card number in order to make your reservation for these popular dining spots. No money will be charged to your card at the time of booking (unless the location is a pre-pay meal). However, should you neglect to cancel a credit card guarantee reservation within the allotted timeline (usually 24 hours prior to the meal), a $10 surcharge — per person — will be charged to the card.

California Grill Cancellation Policy Warning

Starting October 26, 2011, the following restaurants will require the credit card guarantee: [Read more…]

You Know You’re Eating In Disney World When…

Let’s face it. There are a few foodie experiences at Walt Disney World and Disneyland that we don’t normally find at our hometown restaurants!

We thought it would be fun to put a few “You know you’re eating in Disney World when…” thoughts together, and we’d love to hear your additions!

Leave us a comment with your own “You know you’re eating in Disney World or Disneyland when…” experience! ;-)

You Know You’re Eating In Disney World When…

There are strangers eating in the back seat of your car.

Who's in the Back Seat?!?

You memorize the color of the soap in the bathroom while your kids willingly set the table.

Setting the table

You can’t wait to take a bite out of a mouse ear.

That's better!

You get bragging rights for eating dinner while watching fireworks.

Fireworks and castle from Narcoossees

You ask a yellow bear if [Read more…]