Even More Top Disney Dining Tips from the Experts!

We are back with some great advice some of the best experts around when it comes to planning your Disney Dining — DFB Readers!

Top Disney Dining Tips from the Fans

Seriously, you guys are the best, and I’m always excited to learn new things from your experiences! So when it came time recently to update our Top Tips for Disney Dining, we turned to you for input and advice. And you responded with tons of great suggestions.

Check out just a few of them below, as we offer you even more Top Disney Dining Tips from the Experts!

Have a Plan…and Don’t Blow Those Snack Credits on Things You Can Get at Home!

It was important enough for several different DFB readers to mention — and expound on! Do not waste those precious Disney Dining Plan snack credits on something as ho hum and common as a piece of fruit or a bottle of water.

And…I have to agree here. You can get a banana and a Dasani in your supermarket at home. But when was the last time you waltzed into Kroger and picked up a Carrot Cake Cookie or Schoolbread?

Yep, they can sometimes pile up on you toward the end of the trip. So spend a little time planning beforehand so you don’t waste a single one. Here’s a TIP: DFB Snack Guides can come in handy for this endeavor; we have one for every park at Walt Disney World with our recommendations for the best snacks!

Carrot Cake Cookie at Writer's Stop in Disney's Hollywood Studios

Make Those Snack Credits Count with a Carrot Cake Cookie

Get the Dining Plan…And Don’t.

One of the most interesting suggestions for stretching your Disney Food Budget came from @Greg_Crowder: he suggested that you go halfsies on the Disney Dining Plan. He writes: “2 of us had the free plan a couple of years ago and 2 didn’t. The snacks and counter [service] meals were plenty for all 4 people.

Butterfinger Cupcake at Starring Rolls Cafe in Disney's Hollywood Studios!

Butterfinger Cupcake at Starring Rolls Cafe in Disney’s Hollywood Studios Are Totally Shareable!

It’s true that Disney portions can be pretty big, and eating lots of large meals and rich snacks and then walking 100 miles a day may be a tall order. So if you’re willing to share, this can be an excellent way to keep costs down. It also means that you pre-pay, so your spending money goes a little further.

Just note that if you’re all staying in the same room, you all need to be on the same plan; so this tip only works if your compadres are in a different room.

Don’t Forget About Resort Restaurants.

Many readers chimed in that visitors should never forget to check out resort dining options, saying that you should definitely venture out of the Park for incredible food. Resort restaurants offer some of the most amazing dining on property.

Slow-cooked in Gravy, Simple and Well-seasoned Butter Chicken and Chicken Vindaloo

Slow-cooked in Gravy, Simple and Well-seasoned Butter Chicken and Chicken Vindaloo at Sanaa — Be Sure to Schedule a Meal Here

Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge was mentioned lots of times. For instance, reader David Mendoza says: “Whether you are staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge or not, make the trip to the Sanaa restaurant. Wonderful food and such a picturesque setting, watching the beautiful animals as you dine on some of the most awesome food in Disney World! A real must see! And when you are done you can take a stroll and get even closer to the animals. Truly a wondrous place.”

I couldn’t agree more! (Read my latest Sanaa review here.)

Allergies and Food Sensitivities? No problem.

We’ve written about it lots of times — Disney is tops when it comes to serving guests with allergies, food sensitivities, and special diets. And our readers are eager to agree that Disney routinely goes above and beyond to ensure their guests have the best experience possible, regardless of their dietary limitations.

Jiko Allergy-Friendly Menu -- Appetizers -- Click to Enlarge

Example of Jiko’s Allergy-Friendly Appetizer Menu

Ann Hooghuis Dealy weighs in by saying, “If you have food allergies or sensitivities [Read more…]

News: Disney World Refillable Mug Price Change Test Currently Underway

UPDATE: In the days since this post first published, many of our readers have reported that the new price of the Refillable Mugs has rolled out to several more Disney Resorts in addition to the original locations named in this post. 

Heads up, all! A few select Disney World Resorts have rolled out an updated pricing structure for the Rapid Fill Mugs — refillable mugs that provide guests the option to purchase one mug and reuse it for fountain and other drink station beverages throughout their vacation for a pre-designated amount of time.

Rapid Fill Mugs

Rapid Fill Mugs

The price for a Rapid Fill Mug has been $17.99 for length of stay, with lower pricing options available for 1, 2, and 3 day visits since the Rapid Fill drink program debuted in August 2013. And it remains in effect at several Disney resorts currently.

Rapid Fill Price Sign

Rapid Fill Price Sign

BUT…at Pop Century, the All Star Resorts, and Port Orleans – Riverside, the price is currently $16.49 plus tax for length of stay.

Rapid Fill New Length of Stay Pricing -- Refillable Mugs

Rapid Fill New Length of Stay Pricing — Refillable Mugs

However, the 1, 2, and 3 day options are not currently available to guests, so essentially [Read more…]

Review: Everything Pop Food Court at Disney’s Pop Century Resort

It’s time to head back to Everything Pop Food Court at Disney’s Pop Century Resort for lunch!

Pop Century Resort has a cult following of legendary proportions, and Everything Pop Food Court goes right along with that. Maybe it’s because the eats here are little more imaginative than they have historically been at other value resorts. Or maybe it’s just because you can get a waffle with a giant Pop! emblazoned on it!

Whatever the reason, this spot has long been a favorite of mine — and even a destination for me for some of their specialties when I’m staying at other resorts. (King Cupcake, anyone?)

It’s been a while since I’ve visited, so on a recent trip I made it a point to stop by Everything Pop for a bite to eat.

Let’s take a look at what I found!

Atmosphere

You will find no shortage of color and decor as you enter Everything Pop. But you wouldn’t really expect a Zen experience with such a name anyway, right?

Entrance Sign -- Up Close

Entrance Sign — Up Close

It’s fun, and it’s, well. Pop. The kind of loud, happy decor you’d expect with a name like that. These food “billboards” entice you into the eating area, beckoning you to come check out the newly updated menus.

Fun Food Signs

Fun Food Signs

As with other Food Court-type settings at Walt Disney World, the “Create You Own” theme is big here. But you’ll find more options to customize here than just about anywhere else. As the sign says, it’s the perfect place to head when you’re feeling hungry AND creative!

Poppin Nachos and Baked Potatoes Sign

Poppin Nachos and Baked Potatoes Sign

We’ll take a quick side journey to check out seating.

While there are plenty of tables and chairs to choose from, you won’t find super comfy digs here. After all, this is counter service. I don’t figure that you’re interested in lingering for hours over that burger or plate of eggs.

Additional Seating

Seating Area

Still, if you do require a bit of a comfortable break, booth seating is padded and a little more cozy, since it’s walled (or windowed) off to one side.

Booth Seating

Booth Seating

More tables along the bank of floor to ceiling windows provide a little space from the rest of the guests, and give you a good view out onto the grounds.

Table Seating

Table Seating

Enough with tables and chairs. On to the food!

Eats

Pop in to Everything Pop, and you can choose from seven different serving stations. They include, in broad terms, a [Read more…]

Reminder! Just a Few More Days to Get These Limited Time Discounts!

I hope you’re all having an amazing day on this Memorial Day Monday!

As we mark a time of remembrance this Memorial Day weekend, we also look forward to fun celebrations with family and friends as Summer gets underway! And if you’re like me, that means one thing — vacation is JUST around the corner!

I wanted to remind you that here at DFB we’ve got some fantastic discounts on our best-selling DFB Disney World Dining Guidebooks for a limited time to celebrate all of the fun trips planned ahead!

Believe it or not, it’s already time to start making those Advance Dining Reservations! And we’re going to help you make sure you choose the best restaurants Disney has to offer. There are hundreds, after all!

We have three great offers for you to choose from! Read on for all the details, but hurry — you can only take advantage of these savings through Saturday, May 30!

dfb2015_guide_3d

Discount #1: $5 Off The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2015

Our fully guaranteed, comprehensive e-Book offers more than 490 full-color pages to help you plan your very best Disney World trip ever!

With reviews, tips, expert advice, and hundreds of color photographs, you’ll get the biggest bang for your planning buck! And our handy e-Book format has been completely updated for your 2015-16 Disney World vacation.

Inside the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2015, you’ll find:

  • A 5-Step Strategy for Disney Dining Planning, covering everything you need to know from budgeting and booking to kids’ meals, dining discounts, and fireworks. 5 simple steps and you’re done!
  • A comprehensive and in-depth look at EVERY Disney World restaurant, kiosk, bar, and lounge, including our personal tips to ensure a positive and stress-free dining experience.
  • Four free, [Read more…]

Memorial Day Sale! DFB Disney World Guidebook Discounts for a Limited Time!

As we mark a time of remembrance this Memorial Day weekend, we also look forward to fun celebrations with family and friends as Summer gets underway! And if you’re like me, that means one thing — vacation is JUST around the corner!

Whether you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World during the busy Summer season, or you have your eyes set on a Fall Food and Wine Festival Trip or a Holiday Extravaganza, we know one thing for sure: you need to make some plans.

Believe it or not, it’s already time to start making those Advance Dining Reservations! And we’re going to help you make sure you choose the best restaurants Disney has to offer. There are hundreds, after all!

We have three great offers for you to choose from! Read on for all the details, but hurry — you can only take advantage of these savings through Saturday, May 30!

dfb2015_guide_3d

The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2015

Our fully guaranteed, comprehensive e-Book offers more than 490 full-color pages to help you plan your very best Disney World trip ever!

With reviews, tips, expert advice, and hundreds of color photographs, you’ll get the biggest bang for your planning buck! And our handy e-Book format has been completely updated for your 2015-16 Disney World vacation.

Inside the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2015, you’ll find:

  • A 5-Step Strategy for Disney Dining Planning, covering everything you need to know from budgeting and booking to kids’ meals, dining discounts, and fireworks. 5 simple steps and you’re done!
  • A comprehensive and in-depth look at EVERY Disney World restaurant, kiosk, bar, and lounge, including our personal tips to ensure a positive and stress-free dining experience.
  • Four free, [Read more…]

What’s New Around Walt Disney World: May 20th, 2015

Sure, we may have said “So long” to the Flower and Garden Festival for this year, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to look forward to at Walt Disney World! Springs moves to summer as Disney World gears up for the busy vacation season, otherwise known as the “Coolest Summer Ever”!

©Disney

©Disney

And since it’s a very special time of year for Star Wars fans in particular, why don’t we start our ‘round the World tour at Hollywood Studios to see What’s New!

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Star Wars Weekends kicked off on May 15th!

Star Wars Weekends 2015

Star Wars Weekends 2015

The excitement! The pageantry!  The CUPCAKES! The Jabba the Hutt Cupcake has joined the Darth Vader and Yoda Cupcakes this year.

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

It can be found at counter service locations such as Starring Rolls, Backlot Express, The Trolley Car Cafe, and Tusken Fridge Raiders — the premiere Star Wars snack stop, located inside Darth’s Mall.

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

But cupcakes aren’t all that’s in store…

Star Wars snacks for Star Wars Weekends

Star Wars snacks for Star Wars Weekends

Like last year, several temporary pop-up bars can be found all over the park for the weekend events.

Star Wars Weekends Pop-up Bar

Star Wars Weekends Pop-up Bar

However, they feature all-new drinks this year. Each bar serves two out of of four drinks: The Mustafar and The Tatooine, or The Endor and The Alderaan.

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

We’ll be taking a closer look at those beverages soon, but once again this year, it’s ALL about the souvenir glow cubes: drinks come with either a Millennium Falcon glow cube or your very own mini Death Star.

Millennium Falcon Glow Cube

Millennium Falcon Glow Cube

The Jedi Mickey Character Dinner at Hollywood and Vine and Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast returned to Hollywood Studios earlier this month (on May the Fourth Be With You, naturally). But brand new to Star Wars Weekends this year is the Rebel Hangar — A Star Wars Lounge Experience, which has effectively converted half of Backlot Express into an abandoned spaceport in the Sullest system.

Entrance to Rebel Hangar

Entrance to Rebel Hangar

Chips and Sith at Rebel Hangar

Chips and Sith at Rebel Hangar

Blue Milk!

Blue Milk!

You can read all about this special month-long dining event featuring small plates and specialty cocktails in our full review of the Rebel Hangar!

Believe it or not, though, it’s not all Star Wars at Hollywood Studios… we’ve got some regular ol’ menu changes at some favorite Table Service restaurants to report as well. Sci-Fi Dine-In has added the Sci-Fi Popcorn Treat to the appetizer selection. It’s popcorn soup (for watching those old movies, of course!) with buffalo popcorn chicken and celery sticks, drizzled with blue cheese dressing.

Sci-Fi Dine-In

Sci-Fi Dine-In

New entrees include Grilled Marinated Salmon, while the Veggie Burger got a [Read more…]

News! Chef Mickey’s Brunch to Begin May 31; Reservations Open May 22

Fans of Chef Mickey’s — get ready for a whole new meal option!

The SUPER popular (and we are not even exaggerating a little there) character dining experience at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort has always offered breakfast and dinner. But now, it’s expanding to offer brunch daily!

Get ready to dial — Advance Dining Reservations will open on Friday, May 22. Seating for brunch at Chef Mickey’s will begin on Sunday, May 31.

But I think the really cool thing here is that this is brunch, rather than lunch. Fans of Chef Mickey’s breakfast spread can continue to dine on all of their favorites, like Mickey Waffles!

Mickey Waffles!

Mickey Waffles!

But the menu will also include lunch goodies such as soups and lots of salad options. In addition, look for Seafood Étouffée, Barbecued Ribs, and Baked Salmon. The sweets team will also feature [Read more…]

Friday Happy Hour: Lava Flow at the Barefoot Pool Bar at Polynesian Village Resort

Well, wouldn’t you know it?

Right after I visited the Polynesian Village Resort’s Barefoot Pool Bar when it reopened along with the refurbished Lava Pool and I reported that the specialty drink menu hadn’t changed…

It changed.

Well, that’s not entirely true :). Everything you could previously purchase at the Barefoot Pool Bar is still available (that means the pool bar standards like the Captain’s Mai Tai and Banana Cabana). In fact, they’re all still prominently listed on the main menu.

Barefoot Pool Bar

Barefoot Pool Bar

Barefoot Pool Bar menu

Barefoot Pool Bar menu

But, lo and behold…. just days after my visit, I heard about some all-new (and if I understand correctly, mostly exclusive) drinks at the Barefoot Pool Bar!

You can spot the descriptions on a stand-up sign, and fans of the Polynesian will get a kick out of reading the well-themed drink names as much as the descriptions with titles like the Pago Pago Pain Killer, Niue Rita, Lava Flow, Tonga Tea, and Samoa Sunrise. Just click on the image below to enlarge and read the item descriptions. I love that the Samoa Sunrise features POG Juice!

Specialty Drink Menu

Specialty Drink Menu

I didn’t see this menu at all on my previous visit, but whether that’s because they were not being served yet since the pool bar had just reopened or I’d missed the roving sign, I’m honestly not sure.

Ah, well… it’s here now, and so are we! So, let’s have a drink, shall we? We’ll go with [Read more…]

Review: The Artist’s Palette at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort

Welcome back to Saratoga Springs Resort!

Saratoga Springs is a Disney Vacation Club Resort, with easy access to Downtown Disney by boat, bus, or foot path. Tucked into the main building that houses reception, a merchandise shop, and the Turf Club Bar & Grill (the resort’s Table Service restaurant and lounge), you’ll also find the Counter Service option for Saratoga Springs: The Artist’s Palette.

Having really enjoyed dinner at The Turf Club Bar and Grill a few months ago, I was looking forward to spending a little more time checking out The Artist’s Palette.

And since the hunt is currently on for the Triple Crown with “American Pharaoh” leading the way after winning the Kentucky Derby, what better time to visit this equestrian-themed resort once more?

Building housing Artist's Palette and merchandise shop

Building housing Artist’s Palette and merchandise shop

The Artist's Palette Sign

The Artist’s Palette Sign

Atmosphere

While Saratoga Springs Resort itself is themed after upstate New York — a place known for spas and horse-racing (hence, the Turf Club), The Artist’s Palette is modeled to resemble a city artist’s loft.

The Artist's Palette Seating

The Artist’s Palette Indoor Seating

The Artist's Palette seating

The Artist’s Palette Indoor Seating

Wood and brick walls, along with a lofted ceiling and lots of windows, provide a peaceful, simple setting that allows the bold and colorful lighting fixtures to really pop. I don’t know if this was the intention, or maybe it was just having painting on my mind due to the theme, but all the primary colors remind me of paint colors on a white palette just before mixing.

Signature Lighting Fixtures

Signature Lighting Fixtures

Lighting Fixture

Lighting Fixture

Naturally, large pieces of artwork complete the scene.

Artwork and Lighting

Artwork and Lighting

Artwork

Artwork

During your visit, be sure to check out the work of any little budding artists staying at Saratoga Springs ;).

Artists of the Day

Artists of the Day

Work of the Artists of the Day

Work of an Artist of the Day

Outside, you can find a few tables — not to mention rocking chairs — as well.

Outdoor Seating

Outdoor Seating

These overlook the main pool area, and face the beginning of the waterfall at High Rock Springs. Overall, it manages to feel calm and serene, even while being the busiest area of the resort.

View from outdoor seating

View from outdoor seating

High Rock Springs

High Rock Springs

And, since we’re outside, I’ll show you something that has absolutely nothing to do with food ;). This one’s for my [Read more…]

Three Ideas For an Unconventional Disney World Date Night

Call us romantics, but we think that Walt Disney World is a GREAT place for a date night!

Watch the Fireworks from the Polynesian Resort Beach!

Do You Love to Watch Magic Kingdom Fireworks From the Polynesian’s Beach During Your Disney Date Night? We Do!

But we like to take a very broad approach to date night here at Disney Food Blog. So we decided that it would be all kinds of funnnz to come up with some radical departures for how to spend your Day o’ Love. I mean sure, chocolate-dipped strawberries and Champagne are awesome, and a fancy meal is sure to impress. But more than anything, we just wanna have fun!

If you’re with us, check out our Top 3 Ideas for Your Unconventional Date Night, Disney World Style!

Swap a Fancy Meal for FastPasses

Fancy meal? Whatevs. Who wants to get dressed up and sit around for hours?? You’re at Disney — get out there and enjoy it!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Snuggle Up for a Ride on Disney’s Newest Attraction, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train!

Instead of dinner at a signature restaurant, skip straight to the fun, and schedule FastPasses for three of your favorite rides together (and make sure at least one of them is a dark ride. ;-) )

Spaceship Earth, How We Love You

Spaceship Earth, How We Lurve You

Getting hungry after all those adventures? Share your favorite savory snacks. The Lucky Combo from Joy of Tea in Epcot’s China Pavilion would be perfect!

Lucky Combo from Joy of Tea in Epcot's China Pavilion

Lucky Combo from Joy of Tea in Epcot’s China Pavilion

Or split a Waffle Sandwich from Sleepy Hollow Refreshments in Magic Kingdom.

Chicken Waffle Sandwich from Magic Kingdom's Sleepy Hollow Refreshments

Chicken Waffle Sandwich from Magic Kingdom’s Sleepy Hollow Refreshments

They’re definitely big enough to share!

Get the Kids Involved!

Spending more time together as a family always figures high on our list of priorities. And kiddos especially love some one on one time with Mom and Dad. So how about taking a different approach to your next evening out. Make a “date” with your littles!

One fun idea would be to split up for fun Mom/Son, Dad/Daughter “dates”. Go on separate dinner dates and let the kids choose the restaurants! ESPN Club at Disney’s BoardWalk is a great choice for your budding baseball or soccer star!

ESPN Club (with a line to get in on Game Day!)

ESPN Club is a Great Place to Take Your Favorite Sports Fan!

But save room, because you can all meet up for some ice cream later and compare notes! How about sharing a No Way Jose from Beaches and Cream four ways?? (Want more ice cream suggestions? Check our our Ice Cream Gallery!)

No Way Jose at Beaches and Cream

Split a No Way Jose from Beaches and Cream!

Top off the evening with an outdoor movie at your resort before tucking in for pleasant dreams.

Play with Your Food

Have you always wanted to [Read more…]