Review: Breakfast at the Grand Floridian Cafe

I know I’m not alone in considering the Grand Floridian Cafe to be a hidden gem among resort restaurants.

Located in one of Walt Disney World’s most beautiful hotels, the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, this moderately-priced table service restaurant is rarely so busy that you can’t score a walk-up table. That has held true for me at even the busiest times, such as spring break.

A while back we experienced a delightful dinner at Grand Floridian Cafe, and I had been anxious ever since that time to get back for breakfast.

On a recent trip, we finally had an opportunity to take in our morning meal there.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere at the Grand Floridian Cafe is a little on the nondescript side. It’s not that it’s uncomfortable or unattractive; it’s just that bumped up against all the over-the-top themeing in many Disney spots, this one pales by comparison.

Sign at the Restaurant's Entrance

What you will find is a really beautiful, bright, cheerful spot that melds the Victorian with the Floridian perfectly.

At breakfast, you’ll find plenty of guests sitting back, sipping coffee, and reading the paper. It’s just screams “relaxed,” which may be exactly what you need during a busy Disney vacation.

Seating in the Main Dining Room

It does feel a little on the dated side…but that kinda makes sense, since you’re supposed to feel like you’re surrounded by the 19th, not the 21st, century.

Mirrors give the space a larger feel, and the heavy marble and iron tables remind me a bit of the sunroom seating at Tony’s Town Square in Magic Kingdom. It’s a nice tie-in to the Main Street U.S.A. vintage feel.

There’s also mixed banquette and chair seating here, so everyone can have the seat they prefer.

Mixed Seating and Decor

The view through the windows onto the [Read more…]

News! Changes to Disney World Tables in Wonderland Dining Discounts for 2014

We’ve got some news about one of Disney World’s popular dining discounts!

Tables in Wonderland, Walt Disney World’s fee-based dining discount program offered to Florida residents, Annual Passholders, and Disney Vacation Club members, is a great way to save money if you are a frequent diner at Walt Disney World.

The program offers 20% savings on food and beverages, including alcoholic beverages, at more than 100 Walt Disney World restaurants.

Today, we’re getting news of an update to restaurants that will either stop offering the Tables in Wonderland discount in the near future, or will be subject to more blackout dates when using the card.

Victoria and Albert’s to Discontinue Offering Tables in Wonderland Discount

According to the Tables in Wonderland website, Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa will continue to honor the Tables in Wonderland discount through July 14, 2014. However, as of August 1, 2014, the ultra-luxurious dining spot will no longer accept the Tables in Wonderland card.

Victoria and Albert's Main Dining Room

Currently, Tables in Wonderland members may still [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…]

Review: Mizner’s Lounge at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

Today, I’m continuing my tour of Disney World’s bars and lounges with a trip to Mizner’s Lounge. Tucked into one end of the second floor at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Mizner’s takes full advantage of views to the outside as well as the atrium.

Mizner's Sign

And if you’ve ever been in the Grand’s lobby in the evening and heard some bouncy jazz, this is where it was coming from!

I’m always interested in finding out what these spots serve. You can usually find some really interesting dishes in Disney’s resort lounges that reflect the theming of the hotel. Let’s check it out.

Atmosphere

If I were to describe the vibe of Mizner’s decor in one word, it would be relaxed elegance. Here’s a pre-reno pic!

Mizner's Lounge During the Day

Theming here is understated, but the setting is comfortable. During the day, tons of natural light floods the room, giving it an airy feel.

Mizner's Bar

Potted palms and ornate carpets hint at the Victorian theme. Rather than [Read more…]

Review: The NEW Gasparilla Island Grill at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Today we’re headed to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort to check out the newly renovated Gasparilla Island Grill!

This counter service spot, tucked in a corner off of the first floor lobby, offers counter service fare.

Open 24 hours a day, it’s a great amenity for guests who arrive early or late in the day for their Disney visit. It’s also a good option for revelers who are enjoying late or early Extra Magic Hours!

The big news regarding Gasparilla, however, is the recently completed refurbishment that has changed the spot up a bit.

Gasparilla Sign

Let’s head in to see what has changed about this counter service oasis amid the finery of one of Disney’s most expensive resorts.

Atmosphere

The Grand Floridian is undergoing lots of construction and refurbishment lately. In addition to the new Disney Vacation Club villas being built and the Beach Pool Bar undergoing updates, Gasparilla was closed from late summer 2012 until early this year, as the space (and the name!) was given an overhaul.

From the outside, however, it still looks very much the same as before. You enter the restaurant through doors from an outside terrace.

Terrace Leading to Gasparilla Island Grill

One complaint guests had about the previous incarnation of this spot was the “Grill and Games” combo. An assortment of arcade games shared space with the seating area. Though convenient for parents, it could get a little loud at times.

The arcade has now been relocated to an adjacent space where the Grand Floridian’s kids’ club used to be. With the arcade gone, the restaurant has been rechristened “Gasparilla Island Grill.” As with many spots around the Grand Floridian, this one takes its name from a Florida locale, Gasparilla Island, a gulf barrier island located on the state’s southwest coast.

Gasparilla Island Grill Entrance

Guests familiar with the old layout of Gasparilla will immediately notice the change to the restaurant’s look. The green and burgundy palette has been replaced with a simpler, more modern green and blue combination.

The seating has been greatly expanded as well, although the actual ordering area remains very similar.

View of the Restaurant Through the Seating Area

Ornate touches remain, however, and these chandeliers are a nice new (almost steampunky) touch. Check out the [Read more…]

News! 2014 Disney World Free Dining Packages for United Kingdom Residents

United Kingdom residents — we have GREAT news! Now’s the time to start planning your 2014 holiday to the Walt Disney World Resort. When you book a selected Walt Disney World holiday, you’ll receive free dining for your family!!

Disney Deal

Disney is offering a less restrictive Free Dining deal to United Kingdom residents, PLUS you’ll receive a $200 Disney Gift Card and 14 park days for the price of 7. However you’ll need to book prior to July 1, 2013, for select arrival between January 1 – April 8 and April 27 – November 30, 2014.

If you stay at a selected Disney Hotel for a minimum of 5 nights, you’ll benefit from these three magical offers:

1. FREE Disney Dining for your whole party throughout your entire stay at Walt Disney World.

2. FREE $200 Disney Spending Money.

3. Disney’s 14-Day Ultimate Ticket which includes unlimited entry to ALL six parks for a price of a Disney’s 7-Day Ultimate ticket.

PLUS save 35% on your accommodation by staying at Disney’s Old Key West Resort or Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa in a studio room.

Who doesn't want unlimited free Mickey waffles??

This offer is available on participating Disney Moderate, Deluxe Villa or Deluxe Resort hotel stays plus tickets.

Bookings must include 5 nights minimum stay at a Walt Disney World Hotel plus Disney’s 14 Day Ultimate Tickets for the whole party traveling to receive “14 day tickets for the [Read more…]

Disney Recipe: Strawberry Soup from Disney World’s 1900 Park Fare

Some dishes are the stuff of Disney legends.

If friends tell you they’re dining in at ‘Ohana, for instance, the first words out of my mouth are “save room for dessert! You’ve gotta try the bread pudding!”

The same certainly goes for 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

While our experiences here have been varied, many readers love the place! And one dish I agree is outstanding is the cold Strawberry Soup.

Creamy, sweet, and beautifully bright pink, the soup beckons to you, and you just know you must try it. Of course, it’s hard to describe this. I’m usually not a fan of cold soup, but I couldn’t get enough of this one!

The enormous bowl of bright red strawberries, to be used as a garnish, sweetens the deal.

Strawberry Soup on 1900 Park Fare's Buffet

The first time I tried the soup, I knew that [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…]

News! Citricos and Flying Fish Cafe Wine Dinners Announced at Walt Disney World

Here’s some fun news if you’re headed to Walt Disney World this Spring or Summer!

Citricos at the Grand Floridian Resort has announced two more wine dinners for 2013! And Flying Fish Cafe on Disney’s BoardWalk will host a wine dinner May 31st!

Flying Fish, a signature restaurant at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort.

If you’re looking for a special evening, a wine dinner at Citricos or the Flying Fish Cafe is sure to be memorable!

Citricos Wine Dinners

Thursday June 6th — Reata Winery. Wine Maker Nori Nakamura will be hosting the event.
Thursday August 22nd — Jax Vineyards. Hosted by Alexis Rose Depe.

Each exclusive event offers only 10 seats in the private Chef’s Domain dining room. Celebrate your [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…]