Tips from the DFB Guide: Fun, Free Holiday Activities in Walt Disney World

It’s here — we are officially 181 days out from Christmas!! Woohoo! Have you started your shopping yet?

180 Days Sale

Ha — me neither. But I do know that if I have any hope of scoring advance dining reservations for the uber busy holiday season at Walt Disney World, I need to be ready to book as soon as those lines open up tomorrow.

But how do I fit everything in that I want to do? By planning ahead, of course. And we want to help you do the same.

And that’s why we write the DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays. Because I want your holiday visit to the ‘World to be nothing less than spectacular.

And when you pre-order the 2015 DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays right now, you’ll receive the 2014 edition immediately, for free.

Don’t forget — you have three ways to save on the DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays Guide. Check our our 180 Days ‘Til Christmas Sale to learn more!

But hurry — our sale on this popular guide ends tomorrow at midnight!

Today, let’s explore

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News: Disney World Testing Free Taxi Service to Signature Restaurants

Disney is currently testing a new transportation method — complimentary direct taxi service — for guests dining at select signature restaurants while staying at Walt Disney World monorail resorts!

Monorail Orange at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Monorail Orange at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Until June 30, 2015, some guests at the monorail resorts (Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and Contemporary) will be selected to participate in this Disney dining test. Those invited to participate will receive complimentary round-trip vouchers delivered to their room.

Participants will have the option of enjoying direct taxi transportation to [Read more…]

Review: Gasparilla Island Grill at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

It’s time for lunch at Gasparilla Island Grill in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort!

The Grand Floridian dining scene is primarily defined by unique dining experiences such as Victoria and Albert’s (Disney World’s AAA Five-Diamond Restaurant) and Afternoon Tea as well as two signature restaurants (Citricos and Narcoossee’s) and character meals at 1900 Park Fare. It’s also home to one of my very favorite Disney meals in all of history: the Grand Floridian Burger at the resort’s more casual Table Service restaurant, the Grand Floridian Cafe (the name doesn’t convey the highlight of the dish: it’s the lobster-topped burger you may have heard about).

Even among all that, the Grand Floridian still remains a place where you can grab a quick Counter Service bite 24 hours a day thanks to to Gasparilla Island Grill.

Gasparilla Island Grill sign

Gasparilla Island Grill sign

The last time we paid a visit it had recently been through a refurbishment, changing from Gasparilla Grill and Games to its current name. While not much has changed in the way of atmosphere since that visit, the menu differs somewhat from its immediate post-refurb offerings, so we’re back to grab a quick bite (or three!) at Gasparilla Island Grill!

Gasaprilla Island Grill entrance

Gasaprilla Island Grill entrance

Atmosphere

The general vibe at Gasparilla Island Grill is decidedly — and expectedly — Floridian! Creamy colors, pale greens, and lots of natural sunlight keep it airy, while the lush, darker greens and palms associated with the state of Florida are represented in the seating decor.

Gasparilla Island Grill indoor seating

Gasparilla Island Grill indoor seating

Gasparilla Island Grill indoor seating

Gasparilla Island Grill indoor seating

Second seating area

Second seating area

At the same time, the resort’s Victorian style is reflected in the light fixtures (check out those hidden Mickeys!), and by a small display of dish and glassware.

Lighting

Lighting

Lighting

Lighting

Dish display

Dish display

Dish display

Dish display

Though not known for tons of Disney detailing, the basic scene here is very pleasant in that it’s fresh, clean, and simple.

Perhaps the most unique feature to Gasparilla is the amount of high-backed booths lining the perimeter. They do allow for a certain feeling of privacy in what can be a bustling place, depending on the time of day.

Booth seating

Booth seating

Outdoor seating is also available; however, it wasn’t much in use on the day my friend and I visited, due to to some classic spring showers.

Outdoor seating in the rain

Outdoor seating on a rainy day

Once the rain lightened up, I stepped outside once more to [Read more…]

Easter Treats and Spring Break Eats Around Walt Disney World

The 2015 Chocolate Easter Egg Display at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort isn’t the only sure sign of spring around here these days! Easter treats have been “hopping” up everywhere around Disney World Resort to celebrate this weekend’s holiday — not to mention the remainder of the Spring Break season through the end of next week.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a holiday at Disney World without all sorts of specialty cupcakes, and Easter is no egg-ception. (I. Can’t. Stop. Doing. That!). At Epcot, a Chocolate Cupcake with marshmallow filling and marshmallow buttercream frosting can be found at Fountain View from now through April 11th, and at Sunshine Seasons for a very limited run on April 4th and 5th.

©Disney

©Disney

This beauty of a Carrot Cake Cupcake topped with a mini Bunny Macaron will be at the Contemporary Resort only through April 5th! The inside has a pineapple-coconut filling and it’s all topped with white chocolate buttercream frosting along with toasted coconut and — hooray! — jelly beans!

CEC8898471LARGE-613x409

©Disney

While there, be sure to check out the Contemporary Resort’s display of Chocolate Bunnies and decorated Easter Eggs presented by the Resort’s pastry chefs on the fourth floor!

BoardWalk Bakery boasts its own Easter Cupcake: vanilla cake filled with raspberry panna cotta, topped off with a coconut nest filled with jelly beans.

makmak868775-613x409

©Disney

And, of course, you can check out spots at [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Off-The-Radar Disney World Bars and Lounges

Walt Disney World is supa fun, but it’s also go-go-go-go. Sometimes ya just gotta relax.

dfb2015_guide_3d

Of course, there’re all kinds of ways to accomplish that. But after a long, hard day of Disney touring, I love to head to one of my favorite Disney Bars and Lounges.

“Bar” might not be the first word you think of when you picture Mickey Ears and Pixie Dust. But actually, these are some of my favorite spots on property for a number of reasons.

And I know you agree, because when I first published the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, a comprehensive Index of Disney World’s Bars and Lounges was one of our readers’ top requests.

Well — we heard you! And I’m happy to let you know that the DFB Guide includes reviews of every Bar and Lounge in Walt Disney World!

Let’s dive into the Index and take a closer look at a few. You know my favorites, like Territory Lounge and the Dawa Bar. But today, I want to take you on a tour of a few places you may not have discovered yet.

And if you find this information helpful, then be sure to pick up your copy of the Guide today for $4 off using code “2015” right here!

Ready to grab a drink?

A Niche Menu and Free Beer: The Wave Lounge at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

The Wave…of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary resort is a great place to take in a relaxing breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Seldom crowded, the restaurant, located in the quiet back corner of the hotel’s lobby offers a market-inspired menu at a much lower price point than you’ll find at Disney’s suite of signature restaurants. You’ll also find some delicious breakfast options.

But in addition to interesting eats, you’ll also find a pretty cool bar and lounge area.

The Bar at Disney's The Wave Restaurant

The Bar at Disney’s The Wave Restaurant

While the food menu is market-driven, the drink menu features some specialties, too. The Wave’s wine list features New World Wines, primarily from the Southern Hemisphere. And nearly all of the wines featured have one thing in common — screwcaps! Sealing wines with screwcaps is a way to battle cork taint, an unfortunate chemical reaction that can ruin a good bottle of wine. So don’t be put off by screwcaps the next time you see one; many quality New World wines, especially those from New Zealand and Australia, are sealed this way.

Wines at the Wave

Wines at the Wave

Do your tastes run to beer rather than wine? The Wave also features a nice selection of Organic Beers. In fact, if you’re a guest staying at the Contemporary or Bay Lake Towers, you can enjoy a Complimentary Organic Beer Tasting on Saturdays from 3-4PM. (Remember, this is JUST if you’re staying at the resort.)

Beer Flight at The Wave

Beer Flight at The Wave

Just stopping in for a drink? Try the Beer Flight. The presentation is pretty impressive.

A Bar That Switches Things Up: Kona Island Coffee/Sushi Bar

Another favorite stop of mine certainly lives up to the name “bar” — but for completely different reasons. In this case, we’re (mostly) trading cocktails for java and some interesting eats.

New Tiki Statue in Lobby at the Polynesian!

New Tiki Statue in Lobby at the Polynesian!

The Polynesian Village Resort has just undergone a major facelift. We’ve welcomed new spots, like the Pineapple Lanai (the resort’s purveyor of Dole Whips these days) as well as the crazy popular Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (waiting times have been up to 6 hours during its soft opening!)

Trader Sam's door sign

Trader Sam’s Door Sign

But with all of the changes, the resort has maintained most of its beloved eateries, including [Read more…]

News: “Frozen Fever” Sweet Treats at Disneyland and Disney World

So… Frozen Fun ends in Disneyland on May 15th, and Frozen Summer Fun LIVE won’t return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios until June 17th. That’s one full Frozen-free month… What’s an Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf fan to do?!?

What will we do when there's no Frozen Fun?!

What will we do when there’s no Frozen Fun?!

Fret not, Frozen fans! In the downtime between the two events, Disney is releasing a few treats in honor of “Frozen Fever,” the film short that can currently be seen on the big screen prior to showings of the live-action “Cinderella” film.

As in the film short, these treats go about the task of celebrating Anna’s birthday… and what’s a birthday celebration without a little cake? Anna’s Happy Birthday Cupcake is a vanilla cupcake with blue buttercream frosting, topped with marshmallows, snowflake candies, and a white chocolate Olaf.

Anna's Happy Birthday Cupcake

Anna’s Happy Birthday Cupcake ©Disney

At Disneyland, you’ll want to check spots like the Jolly Holiday Bakery, Market House, Pacific Wharf Cafe, Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe, and The Coffee House.

Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe

Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe

While the cupcakes are already available at Disneyland, starting April 8th, Disney World guests can check various eateries scattered across property, in parks and resorts alike. Altogether, twelve restaurants will carry the cupcakes in WDW, including Main Street Bakery and Gaston’s Tavern in the Magic Kingdom, Starring Rolls Cafe and ABC Commissary in Hollywood Studios, and Sunshine Seasons and Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in Epcot.

Resort restaurants  that will carry the cupcake include BoardWalk Bakery, Beach Club Marketplace, Contempo Cafe, Gasparilla Island Grill, Landscape of Flavors and The Mara.

BoardWalk Bakery

BoardWalk Bakery

Looking for something a little more frozen to celebrate the cast of Frozen? Olaf’s Perfect Sundae Day features birthday-cake flavored ice cream topped with hot fudge, mint marshmallows, brownie pieces (!), whipped cream, and sprinkles.

Olaf's Perfect Sundae Day ©Disney

Olaf’s Perfect Sundae Day ©Disney

Those mint marshmallows look a lot like the ones currently available to enjoy with your Warm Hugs Hot White Hot Cocoa over at Olaf’s Snow Fest in Disneyland!

At Disneyland, the Sundae is available at Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor and Clarabelle’s.

Clarabelle's in Disney California Adventure

Clarabelle’s in Disney California Adventure

 

And again, starting April 8th, Disney World guests will find it at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, Hollywood Scoops, and Beaches & Cream.

Beaches and Cream at Disney's Beach Club Resort

Beaches and Cream at Disney’s Beach Club Resort

In a new twist, even a few Table Service restaurants are [Read more…]

Photo Tour: The 2015 Grand Floridian Resort Easter Egg Display in Walt Disney World

It’s one of my favorite times of the year at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort!

Every spring in the weeks preceding Easter, the Grand Floridian Bakery Team is given the opportunity to create some absolutely spectacular Easter Eggs for guests to enjoy. And the best part? The Eggs are made of CHOCOLATE. There are other ingredients involved, too, such as fondant, icing, and cocoa butter. But no matter what they are made of, they are all edible!

2015 Grand Floridian Easter Egg display

2015 Grand Floridian Easter Egg display

The Easter Eggs have been a Grand Floridian tradition for 19 years, but this is just the fourth year that the eggs have been on display for every guest who passes through the Grand Floridian lobby.

2015 Grand Floridian Easter Egg Display

2015 Grand Floridian Easter Egg Display

2015 Grand Floridian Easter Egg Display

2015 Grand Floridian Easter Egg Display

Something new this year… previously the Eggs were all displayed in one row directly at the lobby entrance. This year, the eggs are grouped in smaller displays in different areas around the lobby. Since some of the eggs are preserved from year to year (you may recognize some familiar ones from the 2014 Easter Egg display), the collection just keeps on growing!

Eggs are on display in various areas throughout the lobby

Eggs are on display in various areas throughout the lobby

The Easter Eggs are on display through April 10th. But in case Walt Disney World isn’t part of your 2015 spring break plans, we wanted to bring the Eggs to you once again this year!

One of the centerpiece eggs for 2015 is an edible replica of Cinderella’s Golden Coach.

Cinderella's Coach Egg

Cinderella’s Coach Egg

The classic Disney animated version of Cinderella received a tribute as well.

Cinderella Egg

Cinderella Egg

Cinderella Egg

Cinderella Egg

In an echo of the fountain in the lobby of the Grand Floridian Disney Vacation Club Villas, the penguins from Mary Poppins have come out to play!

Penguin Fountain Egg

Penguin Fountain Egg

Penguin Fountain Egg

Penguin Fountain Egg

Penguin Fountain Egg

Penguin Fountain Egg

There are no shortage of Disney characters on display, including the entire Toy Story gang.

Toy Story Egg

Toy Story Egg

Toy Story Egg

Toy Story Egg

Peter Pan tops off this egg complete with a map of Neverland.

Peter Pan Egg

Peter Pan Egg

Never one to be outdone, Tinkerbell tops her own egg, too!

Tinkerbell Egg

Tinkerbell Egg

And what’s a day at Disney World anymore without spotting this face ;) ?

Queen Elsa egg

Queen Elsa egg

Nothing against Queen Elsa, but it is totally awesome to see some less-heralded characters get a little love this year, too. I think I audibly gasped when I saw [Read more…]

What’s New Around Walt Disney World: March 26th, 2015

I’m not sure what it feels like in your neck of the woods, but the calendar says it’s officially SPRING! And the season is ON at Walt Disney World, with new food items to help feed those spring break crowds (did somebody say “Grilled Cheese”?), as well as an egg-stra special Easter display at the Grand Floridian Resort.

But that’s not all! There’s much more in store… so let’s hop to it, as we take another trip around the World to see What’s New!

MAGIC KINGDOM

Be Our Guest Breakfast

Hey, has anyone heard of some little dive by the name of Be Our Guest Restaurant? ;)

Be Our Guest in the First Light of Morning

Be Our Guest in the First Light of Morning

Well, in case you didn’t know about the Advance Dining Reservations heard ‘round the World, the popular restaurant is now open for BREAKFAST! Huge hits on the all-new prix fixe menu include the Open-Face Bacon and Egg Sandwich and the Croissant Doughnut.

Open-Face Bacon and Egg Sandwich

Open-Face Bacon and Egg Sandwich

Croissant Doughnut and fresh fruit

Croissant Doughnut and fresh fruit

You can read our Opening Day Everything on the Menu review HERE!

Sweet Treat Makeovers

Not sure how long this gem will be around, but the Cinderella Coach Apple celebrating the recently released live-action “Cinderella” film sure is a beauty!

Cinderella Coach Apple

Cinderella Coach Apple

You can find it for a limited time at the Main Street Confectionery and Big Top Treats. (Keep an eye out at spots outside of Magic Kingdom like Goofy’s Candy Company and Sweet Spells, too!) A few of the Krispy Treats have joined in on the fun, as well…

Cinderella Coach Apples and Krispy Treats

Cinderella Coach Apples and Krispy Treats

Snack Location Switcheroos

Looking for your favorite Dole Whip or Citrus Swirl over in Adventureland?

Citrus Swirl at Sunshine Tree Terrace

Citrus Swirl at Sunshine Tree Terrace

Well, the homes for these beloved snacks have changed places. You see, Sunshine Tree Terrace — home of the Citrus Swirl — is now located where Aloha Isle used to be. And Aloha Isle, boasting its signature Dole Whip? It’s now located where Sunshine Tree Terrace used to be.

New Aloha Isle location

New Aloha Isle location

New Sunshine Tree Terrace location

New Sunshine Tree Terrace location

Confused? Fret not — you can read all about it here! Rumor has it that this all has something to do with a new restaurant on the horizon for Adventureland. (And what’s this we’re hearing about a possible Jungle Cruise theme?!) Time will surely tell!

Speaking of location changes… If you’re hoping to enjoy a Jumbo Turkey Leg in Magic Kingdom, they’ll be available at Cool Ship in Tomorrowland starting TODAY.

Cool Ship

Cool Ship area

Walt Disney World Turkey Leg

Walt Disney World Turkey Leg

This temporary move will allow for [Read more…]

News! Enjoy “Eat Local Week” in Disney World

Fun news for those of you visiting Disney World this week!

EatLocalWeek Orlando Logo

Slow Food Orlando is sponsoring Eat Local Week in The City Beautiful — and it’s happening right now!

While the event showcases eating, drinking, and shopping local throughout the Central Florida Region, there are opportunities to celebrate local growers and producers by dining in some of our favorite Disney Restaurants.

Enjoy menus featuring locally-sourced ingredients all this week, showcasing ingredients from Florida farms, ranches, and fisheries.

And the list of participating Disney restaurants includes some of our tried and true favorites. Choose from The Wave…of American Flavors or California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. We’ve enjoyed delicious seasonal dishes in both.

California Grill view

A Beautiful View and the Season’s Best Flavors at California Grill

At Disney’s Grand Floridian, dine slow-food style at the beautiful Citricos. Or hop over to Disney’s BoardWalk for dinner at Flying Fish Cafe — hands down, one of my absolute favorite spots! (Read our latest review of Flying Fish here.)

Crab Cake

The Flying Fish Cafe is Always an Excellent Choice, Especially for Seafood, Like Their Killer Crabcakes

But we aren’t finished! Yachtsman Steakhouse, known for perfectly prepared steaks and seasonally-inspired sides, will also be participating. Finally, end your Eat Local tour at [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: The Best Spots for Coffee and Tea in Walt Disney World

Just a couple of years back, if you wanted to get a decent cup of coffee or tea somewhere inside the Big Purple Gates, you were out of luck.

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With Nescafe on standby in most spots, the coffee outlook was dismal. And while Twinings teabags are available all over the place, there still wasn’t anything special about them.

But in the last few years, Disney has really stepped up their game in both the java and cuppa departments!

Today, we’re sharing one of our favorite tips from the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World DiningWhere to Find Good Coffee and Tea in Walt Disney World. Pick up yours today for $4 off using code 2015 right here!

Starbucks

By far, the biggest beverage news to hit Disney in the last few years has been its partnership with coffee giant Starbucks. Love them or hate them, you can’t dispute — they’re super popular.

Hollywood Studios Starbucks Trolley Car Cafe-21

The Most Recent Starbucks to Open at Disney — Trolley Car Cafe in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Seriously…there’s a reason for the queue ropes inside! Have you seen a Disney Starbucks on a busy morning? Madness!

The Line at a Disney Starbucks Can Get CRAZY Long

The Line at a Disney Starbucks Can Get CRAZY Long

The first two Starbucks to open in Walt Disney World replaced established eateries — Main Street Bakery in Magic Kingdom and Fountain View in Epcot. Now you can stroll right up to Cinderella Castle with your Vanilla Latte in hand, or enjoy your Frappuccino in the shade of Spaceship Earth.

Fountain View Starbucks in Epcot

Fountain View Starbucks in Epcot

Two additional stores are located in Downtown Disney — one walk-up window nestled between entrances to World of Disney, and a larger store in West Side, which boasts a Starbucks Reserve Counter.

Coffee on fire!

Enjoying a Cup of Coffee on the Patio of Starbucks West Side

Trolley Car Cafe, the Disney’s Hollywood Studios Starbucks outlet opened just a couple of weeks ago.

Trolley Car Cafe is now open!

Trolley Car Cafe is now open!

And later this year, the final Walt Disney World store will open in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Aren’t a fan of Starbucks? Joffrey’s is considered the “official” coffee of Disney World and still operates a number of kiosks throughout the Parks, where you can grab a cup of coffee or a selection of espresso drinks.

Great Spots for Tea

If you prefer tea to coffee, there are also some great spots for you to enjoy a cup. And we aren’t just talking about your grandmother’s cup of tea. :-)

One of my favorite spots for tea is the [Read more…]