2013 Holiday Gingerbread Houses and Pins at Walt Disney World Resorts

Once again, visions of gingerbread houses will become reality at select Walt Disney World resort hotels!

The holiday season is underway as Mickey and his elves (and some talented chefs!) get busy filling the resorts and parks with seasonal decor, merchandise, and treats. Plan to stop by the resorts to see the displays, purchase a pin, and/or meet one of the fabulous chefs!


To commemorate the inspiring gingerbread houses, NEW limited edition pins will be released. Starting November 14, 2013, gingerbread house pins will go on sale at the Contemporary, Beach Club, and Grand Floridian resorts. Disney’s BoardWalk pin will debut on November 29th.

Grand Floridian Gingerbread House

So which came first? The gingerbread or the pin? Well, Jeanne Lewis (Disney pins merchandiser) explained how the Disney pastry chefs studied the pins in order to select characters to incorporate into their designs!

2013 Disney World Gingerbread Houses and Pins!

The Grand Floridian’s pin celebrates the 15th anniversary of their unique gingerbread house. Meet executive chef Erich Herbitschek on November 16 from 1-2PM near the Grand Floridian gingerbread house.

Grand Floridian 2013 Gingerbread House Pin

And how cool is it that the Contemporary’s pin showcases the five-legged goat from Disney Legend Mary Blair’s mural. Five-legged goat,  you ask?! You’ll want to look for it on your next visit to the Grand Canyon Concourse at this Disney resort! On November 15, meet pastry chef Jeff Barnes at Disney’s Contemporary Resort from 5-7 PM.

Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Tree

Contemporary and Beach Club 2013 Gingerbread House Pins

Stop by the Beach Club on November 18 to meet pastry chef Deran Lanpher from 1-2:30PM and to see the creative gingerbread displays.

Beach Club Carousel from Above

Disney’s BoardWalk is unveiling a new [Read more…]

Guest Review: Citricos at Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort

The Grand Floridian Resort is home to several fine dining experiences. Today, guest author Rebecca Dolan reviews the resort’s Citricos restaurant.

I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on Citricos all these years.

My family and I tend to shy away from Disney’s fine dining experiences. Truth be told, we’re often just too tired (read: lazy) to put on “real” clothes after a day at the parks. But, this meal is even worth putting on your nice khakis for.


Citricos is set on the second floor of Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort at the back of the main building, where it shares a check-in foyer with Victoria & Albert’s.

A set of iron gates is an artistic touch to delineate the waiting area from the bar and dining room.

The gates to Citricos

Fun gate detail

Past them is the first dining area and bar. This is bordered by large windows overlooking the rest of the hotel and the Seven Seas Lagoon to the right, with a large wine room, bar, and display kitchen to the left. A bit further back is a glass-and-wood enclosed “chef’s domain” — a private dining rom.

The bar

Front part of the dining room, with tons of natural light

Entrance to the glass-enclosed private dining room

The rear part of the dining room is perhaps what Citricos is known for architecturally. The round room is enclosed by what are essentially floor-to-ceiling windows, offering an amazing view of the property, the lagoon, and even part of the Magic Kingdom.

Round dining room, again with no shortage of a view

Looking out over the Grand Floridian

Though it’s a bit obstructed, you can even catch a glimpse of the [Read more…]

Review: Disney World Resort Quick Service Pasta Options

Thanks to DFB Author Wendy for a look at some great counter-service carb-loading options for your runDisney races this year!

Are YOU running the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler (or any of the other runDisney races this year)? If so, you might be interested in participating in a good old-fashioned carbo-load before your race!

Even if you’re not tackling those ten on October 5th… odds are good you’ll be putting in plenty of miles at the Parks at some point, no matter what.

It’s time to fuel up, people ;)!

Spaghetti time!

For those running one or more of the east coast races this season, there are plenty of places all over Disney World property where you can take part in the time-honored runners tradition of a pasta “carbo-load.”

Today we’re going to focus on some of your pasta options in the resort Quick Service restaurants.

Counter Service Pasta Options at Walt Disney World Resorts

Let’s start with this terrific trend: Create-Your-Own-Pasta stations are cropping up in a few of your favorite Quick Service restaurants!

Create Your Own Pasta

Art of Animation’s Landscape of Flavors already has a reputation for innovative and delicious dining, and you can read a full review of the Create-Your-Own-Pasta experience here.

Add-ins for Create Your Own Pasta at Landscape of Flavors

Spaghetti Carbonara with Broccoli

The Riverside Mill at Port Orleans Riverside also offers this fun option!

Riverside Mill

Create Your Own Pasta Options at Riverside Mill

Unique to the Grand Floridian’s recently refreshed Gasparilla Island Grill is a [Read more…]

New! iPad Wine List Debuts at Victoria & Albert’s in Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort

I took a quick trip to Walt Disney World last week and had the opportunity to experience several new technological initiatives related to Dining at Disney World.

I’ve written these up in several posts for DFB, and today we’ll cover the new iPad wine list that recently debuted at Victoria & Albert’s!

iPad Wine Menu at Victoria & Albert’s

During our trip, my husband and I dined at our favorite restaurant on the planet — Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian. Maitre d’Hotel Israel Perez was excited to show us that the venue’s wine list had recently been transferred to an interactive iPad format.

Our server, Al showing us the iPad wine menu.

The interactive features were quite helpful for guests like us who are not quite as wine savvy as we should be. And the system will also work well for wine experts who know what they’re looking for.

You could search by [Read more…]

Review: NEW Disney World MyMagic+ Touch To Pay System — and MagicBand Disney Food Bling!

I took a quick trip to Walt Disney World last week and had the opportunity to experience several new technological initiatives related to Dining at Disney World.

I’ve written these up in several posts for DFB, and today we’ll begin with the new Touch to Pay system that accompanies the unrolling of MyMagic+ in the parks — as well as take a look at some fun foodie bling that you can add to your MyMagic Band!

Stay tuned over the next week to see more new technology innovations that are affecting Disney dining in Disney World!

Tableside Touch To Pay Pads

In addition to the previously installed “Tap to Pay” pads located at the WDW quick service and snack locations, Tap To Pay Pads are now being used in many table service venues at the parks and resorts.

During our stay, some of the restaurants we dined at were Artist Point, Territory Lounge, Citricos, Raglan Road, and Tutto Gusto. At each of these locations, when we asked for our check, our server appeared at our table with a small touchpad, about the surface area of an iPhone, but much thicker.

Our server with a Touch to Pay device at Raglan Road.

When it was time to pay, the server scanned my MagicBand to link our restaurant bill to our WDW charge account. You could also use the Touch to Pay pad with an RFID-capable Key to the World Card.

Our server at Artist Point scanning my Magic Band for payment.

After the MagicBand or KTTWC is scanned, you enter your personal PIN code.

Hubby entering PIN at Raglan Road.

That was all super fun and easy. However, there were two points in the process that needed a little work. First, the system is [Read more…]

Review: 1900 Park Fare Dinner at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Today, we’re back at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa to take in dinner at 1900 Park Fare!

You  may remember that the last time we were here, we were…nonplussed…unimpressed…frustrated…should I go on? Basically, we really didn’t have a great experience. But, as I always say, the only consistent thing about Disney restaurants is that they’re inconsistent. And some guests think this restaurant is fantastic — a great alternative to hard-to-get advance dining reservations like Cinderella’s Royal Table.

So we’re back at this character buffet for another try… . While breakfast at 1900 Park Fare left us flat, this time around we’re checking out the dinner spread and hoping for the best!


You’ll find 1900 Park Fare off of the ground floor lobby of the Grand Floridian Resort. As you walk in the hotel’s front doors, the restaurant is located to your left, just past the Concierge desk.

1900 Park Fare Sign

The antique carousel decor flows with the Victorian feel that you encounter throughout the resort. While you can’t see the individual items on this menu board that’s displayed out front of the restaurant, you can definitely see the attention to detail when it comes to theme.

Menu Board Outside of 1900 Park Fare

When you first arrive and check in for your reservation (you DID make a reservation, right?), you’ll be given a pager and told to wait in the Grand Floridian lobby to be called when your table is ready. Note: this often takes A. LONG. TIME. In my experience, I’ve never been seated at this restaurant within 10 minutes of my reservation time. I’m always waiting quite a while to be called to the table. So if you’ve got little ones who are starving, bring some snacks to tide them over just in case.

Once you’re called, you’ll be told to get in line to have your picture taken with this mural. No…you’re not getting your photo taken with a character. Just with the mural. This can be a fun memory for families, but you might want to skip the pic and head straight in for your meal. Be persistent and make sure they know you don’t want to take the photo. They’re pretty serious about getting you into that line.

Trompe l'Oeil Mural Outside of 1900 Park Fare

Once you head into the massive dining room, you’re greeted with more Victorian charm in pastel shades. Even without windows, the sheer size of the dining room makes it feel airy.

There is a main area with high ceilings in front of the buffet, and some smaller dining rooms surrounding it with lower ceilings. I prefer these areas for seating, since they tend to be slightly quieter.

Dining Area

Seating itself is fairly standard, with cushioned chairs and nondescript tables.


The main dining room makes the best use of the carousel theme. There are several large statues of fantasy carousel animals situated atop half walls and surrounded by plants. You should take a moment to look at these, because they’re really beautiful.

Calliope in the Background and Carousel Horse Statue

The wall overtop the entrance to the restaurant plays host to an enormous calliope, reminiscent of the intricate musical instruments that you find on antique carousels. This [Read more…]

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.


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.


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…]