Review: Olivia’s Cafe at Disney’s Old Key West Resort

Olivia’s Cafe over at Old Key West in Walt Disney World is just about the most homey restaurant in Walt Disney World. Its only rival would be Trail’s End, and I see them both as a great place to meet up with old friends year after year.

These are the types of restaurants that inspire memories of heading off on summer vacation, reuniting with friends you haven’t seen in a while, and enjoying some good food together in an atmosphere that’s as familiar to you as your own kitchen. I guess that’s what Disney was going for with the Disney Vacation Club, and they’ve achieved it at Olivia’s.

Atmosphere

In fact, when I walked into Olivia’s, it almost felt as though the needle scratched off of the record in the jukebox and everyone turned to stare at the newcomer. Because I’m not a regular at Old Key West, it really did feel like I was a bit out of place at this restaurant that’s frequented by Disney Vacation Club members who are owners at Old Key West.

Olivia's Sign

Olivia's Open Sign

Of course, that was only my perception. After checking in, we were [Read more…]

Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend Step-by-Step Guide

Let us help you gear up for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend being held September 30 – October 1, 2011! Whether you are racing in the 5K or the half marathon, or cheering on a participant, this weekend will also offer time to dine on international foods at the 2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Be sure to check out our Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend pages for all the info you need!

Calendar of Events

Friday, September 30

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Expo
Jostens Center at ESPN Wide World of Sports 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

The Expo is a two-day event filled with fun, fitness and food! This is where runners will register for the weekend events, pick up numbers and goody bags, and attend any seminars or events having to do with the races.

Pre-Race: Race waiver forms are ready to be downloaded and printed. Fill out the waiver and bring it with you to the Expo so you can receive your race number. Go ahead and take care of it out now! Pack the waiver with your other race essentials. Download here.

Now is a good time to review your Half Marathon, Half Marathon Relay, Family 5K, and Disney Kids’ Final Race Instructions. Unable to attend Packet Pick-Up? See Absentee instructions.

Will you wear a costume? Costumes are permitted in the Half Marathon. No face masks and costumes must not “be questionable or offensive” to others.

Transportation: Buses from Host Resorts will leave every 20 minutes. Look for runDisney logo in the front window of bus. Buses will run from one half hour prior to Expo opening until one half hour after Expo closing.

Step 1: Pick up your race packet at the HP Field House, then proceed to the Jostens Center for your t-shirt and goody bag.

Note: Your race packet should contain Half Marathon Bib Number with B-tag attached, Bag Check Sticker, Finish Line Party Guide, Finish Line Party Wristband, $10 Disney Gift Card, Pre-purchased commemorative pin if applicable.

Step 2: Pick up pre-purchased items. You will need to show your ID to pick up your items including commemorative Ears.

Step 3: Purchase any tickets needed for [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: The DVC Villa Kitchens, Part 2

Erin Foster, our Disney Food for Families columnist, is back with another useful post about making food when staying in the Disney Vacation Club villas!

In part one of The DVC Villa Kitchens series, I showed you the tools you’ll have to work with if you’re cooking in a Walt Disney World Vacation Club villa kitchen. Here in part two, I’m going to show you what foods you’ll have ready access to cook.

Beach Club one-bedroom villa kitchen and dining area

If you have a car, your own or a rental, you can easily make a stop at a local supermarket to get any of your favorite food items. There are also a number of local Orlando area services that will deliver grocery items to your hotel. Among the most popular of these is Garden Grocer at gardengrocer.com. I’ll get to exploring those options in my next post. For now, I’m going to go over what types of foods you’ll typically find for sale at your WDW resort hotel.

What Groceries Will I Find At My Disney Vacation Club Resort?

The good news for guests wanting to do some bare bones cooking during their vacation is that the resorts that house the villa-style rooms all have a mini convenience store section in their gift shops.

The foods and supplies listed below can be found at [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: The DVC Villa Kitchens, Part 1

Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster begins this DVC Villas Kitchens series with a look at what you’ll find in your villa kitchen!

My family has been a member of the Disney Vacation Club since 2001. Because of this, we often stay in DVC villa-style rooms when visiting Walt Disney World, which we pay for using our DVC points. While villa rooms are most often used by DVC members, anyone may rent them. And one of the best parts about a villa is the inclusion of a kitchenette in studio villas and a full kitchen in one-bedroom and larger villas!

Over the next few posts, I’m going to discuss the villa kitchens. What do they include? What is easily available to cook in the kitchens? Is is possible to save money by cooking in your villa? Will the villa kitchen save you any time?

A statue of Ariel greets guests at the Beach Club Villas

Here are a few more details about DVC Villas: There are villa rooms at seven Walt Disney World resort hotels — Animal Kingdom Lodge, Bay Lake Tower (Contemporary), Beach Club, Boardwalk, Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, and Wilderness Lodge.

  • Villas are available in studio, one bedroom, two bedroom, and three bedroom versions.
  • Studio villas are like regular hotel rooms, with the addition of a small kitchenette area. The kitchenette includes a sink, a dorm-sized refrigerator, a microwave oven, a coffee-maker and a toaster.
  • One, two, and three-bedroom villas are like apartments. They include a the requisite number of bedrooms, often several bathrooms, a washer and dryer, plus a living room area and a full kitchen.

Bay Lake Tower (Contemporary) two-bedroom villa kitchen

The villas are a terrific option for guests with larger families or larger traveling parties, multi-generational families, families where the parents don’t want to sleep in the same room as the children, or for families who want, or need, a kitchen.

The larger space and multiple bathrooms make vacationing with my mirror-loving daughters a breeze — that alone makes the villas worth it for my family. But I must confess that I have a real love/hate relationship with the villa kitchens. Obviously, having a kitchen can be a godsend for guests who need to prepare food for an allergic or special needs family member. But what is the value of the kitchen for the average family? What is the value of the kitchen for the average mom, like me, who finds that one of the best aspects of vacation time is not having to cook?

As a first step in the Villa Kitchen series, I’ll show you what exactly you can expect to find in a Disney Vacation Club Villa kitchen at [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: October 24, 2010

Welcome to the Disney Food Post Round-Up!

The 2010 Epcot Food and Wine Festival may be half over, but there’s still a lot of eating and drinking to do! You can find links to all of our coverage, including reviews of some of the newest events at the festival, here.

And if the World Showcase booths are your destination, we’ve got food pictures, prices, and menus to help you as you plan how to make the most of that stomach space!

Now, on to the Round-Up!

Progress City USA collects another panoply of weird, early 80’s Disney World marketing goodness for us here. The reason why I’m allowed to post it on the round-up is because if you look at the third video, around 6 minutes and 2 seconds in, you’ll see some great footage of the old Top of the World Restaurant at Disney’s Contemporary Resort (the ORIGINAL one). But, all in all, you should watch all the videos. And read the commentary. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry.

Hoperatives shares a guide to better beer at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival.

Parkeology has a bone to pick with Pinocchio Village Haus… .

Main Street Gazette has a photo from the Belgium booth that I’m loving!

AllEars.net blogger Deb Martin Koma has some great coverage of the First Bites Opening Reception at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

MousePlanet and Jim Korkis have more Frito Kid goodness. (Speaking of, the Frito Kid and Klondike now reside on my cell phone as my ringtone. Just thought you guys should know that.)

Zannaland covers a fun evening with Chef Robert Irvine at the Crew’s Cup Lounge! You can see more coverage here (from our own Chef BigFatPanda), here from Disney Everyday, and here from Theme Park Mom!

Touring Plans‘ blogger Kristen Helmstetter shares her F&W Fest experience and reviews!

The Disney Chick makes Rum Raisin Gugelhopf from the 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

990 Square has some gorgeous photos and a review of her Sweet Sundays experience with the owners of Baked.

A Taste of Disney makes Tacos de Carne from La Cantina de San Angel.

All’s Fare Food Blog makes the Key Lime Pie recipe from Old Key West Resort.

A Taste of Wonderland considers eating organic in Disney World.

Disney Food Post Round-Up: October 17, 2010

Woo hoo! Just wanted to remind everyone before we start the round-up: We were finally able to announce the winners of the WDW Foodie Fest Scavenger Hunt! (And thank the volunteers and sponsors as well!)

Thanks to all 300+ (!!) folks who came to celebrate with us at the 2010 WDW Foodie Fest! Stay tuned to the Disney Food Blog Newsletter, and Disney Food Blog on twitter and facebook for details about the 2011 WDW Foodie Fest. It will be held in the beginning of October 2011, and there may be some surprises in store… ;-)

Now, on to the Round-Up!

StitchKingdom reports on Day 1 of D23’s Sip and Stroll event in Epcot, including Dave Smith’s retirement dinner!

DisZine has a great review of Olivia’s Cafe at Disney’s Old Key West Resort! Check out that Key Lime Tart!

Epcot Crowd at Wine and Dine Half Marathon After-Party

Touring Plans‘ blogger Caroline Baggerly recaps and shares her opinion on her experience running the brand new Wine and Dine Half-Marathon, which took place in Walt Disney World on October 2nd as part of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival opening weekend.

Disney Every Day has some great photos from a trip around the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

BritMick has a fun review of Kouzzina by Cat Cora!

Eating (And Drinking) Around the World has an awesome review of the Beer and Sake seminars at the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic from last weekend. Check it out!

Wine-Oh Of The Year offers a trip report of their visit to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival — with special attention paid to the wine, of course.

Everything WDW has a great review of Epcot’s Via Napoli.

Main Street Gazette reviews the Singapore Booth at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Eating Around WDW shares a review of Sci-Fi Dine-in at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

HeatherW.com is back with some more great Disney Food scrapbooking layouts! Here’s Main Street Bakery and Birthday at Chef Mickey’s!

Mousekefoodie discusses Kimonos at the Swan.

Armchair Imagineers have a very cool review of their visit to the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic as well!

Finally, thanks again to StitchKingdom for sharing the links to the third and fourth parts of the Disneyland Paris Mickey Cookie Decorating Competition!

No Park Tickets? No Reservation? No Problem!

The main complaint I hear regarding the re-instated 180-day window for Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations is that it’s impossible to get a seat in a restaurant “on a whim.” I wanted to address that concern and add another challenge: what if you don’t have park tickets, either?

I thought it’d be fun to tackle this situation and suggest a few spots in both Disney World and Disneyland for those who find themselves in this “pickle!”

Beaches and Cream Beef Sandwich Au Jus

Walt Disney World

Nope! I’m not kidding. It doesn’t have to be a hassle to find a good, table-service meal in Disney World — even when you don’t have a reservation or a park ticket! Here are four of my favorite go-to locations at all different price points:

Beaches and Cream $
Welcome back to the 1950’s soda shoppe! Beaches and Cream is located at Disney’s Beach Club Resort and doesn’t even take reservations, so you won’t ever run into the no ADR problem! This spot serves simple, but delicious, [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: March 21, 2010

fessparkerwineLots happening on the Disney news front this week as we mourn Fess Parker, a man known for deeply affecting both the Disney and Food communities with his careers. In case you haven’t seen it, Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide features a wonderful write-up of Mr. Joseph’s dinner with the late Fess Parker during the 1992 Walt Disney World Village Wine Festival.

Before we start the round-up, here’s a reminder of a couple of Disney food-related news items:

  1. The Wine and Dine Half Marathon and Mickey Halloween Family Fun Run 5K details and registration information have been announced.
  2. Napa Rose is holding a Wine Pairing Dinner this Wednesday, hosted by the Napa Valley Vintners. Click on the link for reservation information.

And now, on to the Round-Up:

Main Street Gazette allows me to breathe a sigh of relief that Artist Point seems to be regaining some of the culinary expertise I’ve found lacking in my recent trips. Absolutely gorgeous food here!

Magical Kingdoms Disney Blog has a review of Walt’s — An American Restaurant in Disneyland Resort Paris. Food pics here from the adult menu, teenagers menu, and kids menu, so go take a look!

Inside John’s Locker (John, of course, being Mr. Owner’s Locker himself) shares the story of Olivia Farnsworth, the namesake of Olivia’s in Disney’s Old Key West Resort.

Dining With the Mouse has posted some mouth-watering food photos from her several Disneyland trips over the past few months. Definitely getting me excited for my DL trip in a month!

MousePlanet reports that Disneyland Chefs will be participating in demo events at area Bloomingdales Department Stores the weekend of March 24-26.

Chip and Co has a lovely article reviewing Disney World’s Biergarten…with a pretty funny icebreaker story to boot!

Watch Me Eat takes us back to Tangierine Cafe this week! We just can’t get enough!

Tasty Chomps visits the Fife and Drum Tavern in Epcot’s World Showcase. (Note/Warning: very close-up photo of a Turkey Leg if you’ve never seen one…)

The Daily Disney has one of my favorite recipes this week: Pop Century’s Fried Chicken! (Also love this Mickey’s Premium Bar antenna topper that theme park ranger DeWayne Bevil found…)

Disney Food Post Round-Up: March 7th, 2010

Eat hereHappy Sunday, all! Just a quick reminder of a couple of updates before we launch into this week’s round-up:

LaughingPlace has the latest on St. Patrick’s Day menus for WDW’s Portobello, Fulton’s Crab House, and Wolfgang Puck Cafe.

CakeWrecks showcases some amazing Alice in Wonderland themed cakes.

SamLand’s Disney Adventures brings a Disneyland popcorn stand into focus.

StitchKingdom posts an info-packed story with the latest news about the D23 Expo, the WDW Fantasyland Expansion, and more. In it, he mentions the upcoming Be Our Guest Restaurant and also showcases some delicious Disney event dessert photos.

PSCalculator reviews Trail’s End Buffet restaurant in WDW’s Fort Wilderness!

Bakerella has some fun Oscar season recipes inspired by nominated Disney films! (Check out the “Up”cakes and Frog Pops.)

Zannaland recaps her experience at the February Tables in Wonderland “Wave Discovery Dinner” in WDW.

Main St. Gazette shares a creamy grits recipe from Olivia’s at WDW’s Old Key West Resort.

Watch Me Eat visits Epcot’s Lotus Blossom Cafe.

A World View visits three of WDW’s best counter-service spots: Flame Tree Barbecue, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, and Earl of Sandwich.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has a unique profile of the New Orleans chef who was inspirational to the Princess and the Frog story.

Dining In Disney World With Kids: Part 1

Introducing the Disney Food Blog Dining in Disney World With Kids two-part series! Thanks to Zannaland for guest blogging Part 1, where she includes a few of her favorite family secrets. And stay tuned for tomorrow’s Part 2 in the series, where Disney World Moms Panelists determine the best dining locations for kids of certain ages. There are some very informative and surprising ideas that I think you’ll enjoy!

Parent or not, the wonderful dining options and experiences for kids at Disney World are no secret. But what if you don’t want to spend your entire vacation doing character meals? (Not that there’s anything wrong with those — they offer some of the best food on property!) What I’d like to share are some of the dining secrets we’ve discovered over the years as the best options for something different. They may just become regular favorites for your family!

Best Location For a Nap

    maya

  • Maya Grill - This restaurant became a favorite of ours during a stay at Coronado Springs Resort when we were unable to secure a breakfast reservation anywhere else. We had been to Maya Grill for dinner on its opening night, but hadn’t tried it for breakfast. We were so pleasantly surprised by the food as well as the fact that it was not crowded at all. It was nice to enjoy a peaceful, leisurely breakfast for a change. For that reason, it makes it a great location for a stroller-bound child to enjoy a nap without interruption. The location also makes for some lovely scenery as you walk off your meal.
  • Columbia Harbor House - Magic Kingdom’s hustle and bustle excitement is sometimes too much for the littlest guests, and all the over-stimulation leads to not wanting to nap at all. Columbia Harbor House is a respite from that stimulation. The dark paneling and dimly lit interior ensure no distractions for tired kids. Even on the hottest of days, it’s always cool and calm inside. Sometimes, the second floor is open for even more secluded dining. Once they wake up, there are some great kids’ favorites here like Mac & Cheese and Chicken Nuggets.

Best Entertainment

    sanaa

  • Sanaa - Animals are perhaps the most engaging entertainment for little kids. Young kids are just learning different animals’ names and habitats, but even older kids will be fascinated by the on-going show happening just outside the dining room windows at Sanaa, located in Disney’s Kidani Village in Animal Kingdom
    Lodge. The best part is the show is completely unpredictable and different each time you visit. Your server is also able to tell you more about the animals as well as the unique cooking options offered at Sanaa, making it a great learning experience for all.
  • Germany’s Biergarten - One of my fondest childhood memories at Disney World is seeing the German Ocktoberfest show in Epcot’s World Showcase for the first time. More than just the great music and singing, guests are invited onto the dance floor to show off their best polka moves. Wonderful memories and photo opportunities are to be had here watching kids dance with parents and grandparents. It’s also an easy-to-walk-in location if you don’t have reservations.

Best Kids’ Activities

  • Olivia’s - Disney Food Blog’s recent entry about Olivia’s reminded me of this favorite spot, located at Disney’s Old Key West Resort. Amazing food and scenery aside, Olivia’s offers a special treat for all children – Olivia’s Artist of the Day. Upon arrival, kids are given a coloring sheet and crayons to color however they wish. Then they turn in their masterpieces, and twice a day – morning and evening – cast members choose an Artist of the Day. The chosen artwork is displayed at the front hostess stand, and the winning child gets to ring a bell in celebration. Despite the sibling rivalry when my son was chosen first, both kids were chosen during our stay and it made for quite the memorable experience.
  • Whispering Canyon Cafe Warnings

    Whispering Canyon Cafe Warnings

    Whispering Canyon Cafe - This is perhaps not a real secret to many Disney World fans, but I couldn’t pass up talking about it. Whispering Canyon Cafe offers some of the best entertainment around, and there really isn’t a set show at all! Here, your servers are the entertainment, often yelling back and forth to each other and joking around. For even more fun, ask for ketchup. (If you’re shy, sit back and wait for someone else to ask for it; I’ve never been there when someone hasn’t asked for ketchup, and the fun ensues.) There are also several times when kids can engage in pony races using wooden hobby horses. There is definitely no shortage of entertainment for kids and adults here.