Review: Hot Chocolate Cupcake from the Contempo Cafe at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

So, today we’ve got a SUPER cute cupcake from Contempo Cafe at Disney’s Contemporary Resort!

The restaurant, located on the Concourse in the Resort, is one of my favorite stops for delicious counter service eats. It’s just a monorail ride (or quick walk) away from Magic Kingdom, making it a great option if you need a break during a busy Park day.

But they’ve also featured some truly decadent and beautiful Cupcakes throughout the years. I’m always anxious to pop in every time I’m in town to see what Chef Jeff Barnes and his creative team have come up with!

And on a recent visit, I didn’t come up empty handed when I stopped by for an afternoon snack.

The Hot Chocolate Cupcake

Well, the very last thing that you want in Florida 11 1/2 months out of the year is a steaming cup of anything. So this is a fun nod to hot chocolate without getting any of the “hot!”

It’s pretty great that you get so much description here on the sign…and it’s pretty irresistible, eh?

Hot Chocolate Cupcake -- In the Case, with Description

Hot Chocolate Cupcake — In the Case, with Description

I quickly opted to try this new-to-me cupcake, passing by the ever popular Frozen Cupcake and the classic Red Velvet Cupcake.

It’s definitely super cute, with Toasted Marshmallows on top, a Striped Chocolate Straw, Red Sprinkles, and a mound of light Chocolate Buttercream.

Hot Chocolate Cupcake -- Up Close

Hot Chocolate Cupcake — Up Close

When I cut into it, I found [Read more…]

Disney Lounge Classic Cocktail: The Shadow at Belle Vue Lounge in Disney’s BoardWalk Inn

Belle Vue Lounge is one of those Disney spots.

Yep — it’s a hideaway…that only the cool kids know about.

True, I love Disney Bars and Lounges. A lot. They’re some of my favorite spots on property, and they’re awesome for some many reasons. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax after a long day, meeting friends, or even grabbing a bite to eat without an Advance Dining Reservation.

Well, Belle Vue is a bit different than some of my other favorites, like Territory Lounge or Tambu Lounge. Belle Vue doesn’t serve food, except at breakfast, when they offer light continental options, coffee, and a few other beverages.

So you won’t find signature Pub Grub like Fondue or Pulled Pork Nachos here. But you will find loads of relaxing, beautiful atmosphere.

The Belle Vue Lounge in Disney's BoardWalk Inn

The Belle Vue Lounge in Disney’s BoardWalk Inn

And if you happen to encounter a helpful bartender (and the long-time bartender here is always helpful), you may be able to enjoy a Belle Vue classic.

The Shadow at Belle Vue Lounge

You’ll mostly find the Standard Disney Bar Menu here. It’s a little sad…because this place could be even more awesome with an inspired drink menu. But there is one bright spot. And oddly, it’s called The Shadow. :-)

This drink is Belle Vue’s claim to fame, even though it’s not officially on the menu anymore.

A mixture of Chambord, Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, Vanilla Vodka, and Heavy Cream, it’s as much dessert as it is a cocktail.

The Shadow at Belle Vue Lounge

The Shadow at Belle Vue Lounge

It’s not really my kind of drink. I don’t usually go in for [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: NEW Unique Meals for Kids at Walt Disney World

Many of us have been there — you’re trying to plan the best and most delicious vacation, but when it comes to Disney Kids’ Meals, the options can seem pretty ho-hum at first glance.

dfb2015_guide_3d

But there’s more to eating with small fry in Disney World than meets the eye! We first told you about Unique Kids’ Meals a while back in a Tip from the DFB Guide.

But times marches on, and menus evolve. And since we first visited the subject, Disney has committed to offering guests healthier eating options — and that includes Kids’ Meal reforms. We’ve fully updated the DFB Guide again this year, and I thought it was the perfect time to revisit Unique Kids’ Meals at Walt Disney World!

These tips come to you courtesy of the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2015! And if they’re helpful to you, pick up your copy of the Guide today for $4 off using code “2015” right here!

Mickey Check Meals

We can’t begin to discuss Disney World Kids’ Meals without at least touching on the biggest change to come to children’s menus in the history of the Resort. We’re talking about Mickey Check Meals.

mickey check for kids meals

Part of the Disney Magic of Healthy Living Initiative, the meals are designated on Disney restaurant menus with the “Mickey Check” Symbol. Meals earning the Mickey Check meet the Disney Nutrition Guidelines and limit the amount of sodium, sugar, and saturated and trans fats. In addition, they must also include at least three of the following:

  • fruits and vegetables,
  • low-fat dairy,
  • whole grains, and/or
  • lean protein, beans, eggs, and/or nuts.

So what’s the bottom line? The guidelines have certainly challenged Disney chefs to come up with some interesting meals as a result.

Mickey Turkey Meatloaf

Turkey Meatloaf at Be Our Guest Restaurant…Super Cute! But Not So Delicious

But how do they taste? Wellllll…my jury is still out on that one. While I commend Disney for offering healthier options to guests who are in search of them, the Disney Check Meals that I’ve seen and tasted personally…let’s just say they have a long way to go before taste catches up with the requirements.

A la Carte and Appetizers as Kids’ Meals

If you aren’t using a Disney Dining Plan, then another great idea for a Unique Kids’ Meal option is to order a la carte sides or appetizers instead of something from the Kids’ Menu.

This strategy works great for a couple of different reasons. Even with all of the improvements to kids’ meals across the parks and resorts, some Disney restaurants lag behind a bit, and the options can be a little, well, boring. After all, you can only eat Chicken Nuggets so many times. So it’s a great way to get your young, adventurous eater something tastier and more satisfying.

Smoked Chicken Quesadilla

Smoked Chicken Quesadillas, a Whispering Canyon Cafe Appetizer, is a Great Meal Choice for an Adventurous Kid

It’s also a great idea when [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…]

What’s New Around Walt Disney World: March 3, 2015

We’re taking a quick trip around all four Disney World Parks and then making stops at several Resorts, where a lot of food news seems to be taking place as of late!

But we’re starting our “World”-wide tour at Downtown Disney, and taking a peek at how things are shaping up as the transition towards “Disney Springs” continues on. And we may even take a sneak peek at something coming to our friends in Disneyland on the west coast.

Disney Springs mural

Disney Springs mural

So, are you ready to see What’s New? Good! Because in the words of Peter Pan, “Here we GOOOOOOO…”

DOWNTOWN DISNEY

Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC

Okay, so we’ve mentioned it a couple of times recently, but that’s because we’re happy that BabyCakes has a new home in Downtown Disney! Located at The Landing of what will be Disney Springs, Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC has been up and running since 1 pm on Sunday, February 22nd.

Erin McKenna's Bakery storefront

Erin McKenna’s Bakery storefront

Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC

Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC

Erin McKenna

Erin McKenna

Samoa Donut

Samoa Donut

Featuring gluten-free and vegan baked goods, this is great news for guests on some dietary restrictions. Read our opening day review here!

Flour and Sugar

Speaking of baked goods, Flour and Sugar is a little kiosk that can be found on the newly opened Marketplace Causeway. It sells pre-packaged cookies inspired by various cities in the Sunshine State.

Flour and Sugar

Flour and Sugar

We tried the Siesta Key Key Lime S’more, and we’ll have a review here for you soon!

Key Lime S'more

Key Lime S’more

Disney Springs Construction

All in all, things really seem to be picking up speed in Downtown Disney with the Causeway completed, allowing an easy stroll from spots around T-Rex to the Rainforest Cafe side at the Marketplace.

The Marketplace Causeway

The Marketplace Causeway

Light post on The Marketplace Causeway

Light post on The Marketplace Causeway

Disney Springs sign

Disney Springs sign

We’ll be sure to take a little tour along the path when we’re back with our Flour and Sugar review! The next thing we have our eyes on? Look for [Read more…]

WDW Swan and Dolphin Resorts Announce Spring Savings and Easter Character Meal

As the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival gets underway, we have more spring news for you.

Pineapple Dole Whip

Pineapple Dole Whip

If you’re still looking for a place to stay while you attend the Festival, you’ll want to check out the springtime savings available at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts. From March 4 – May 17, 2015, guests will save up to 40% off!

For guests vacationing April 1-8 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel, a full schedule of Easter-themed activities awaits. With meet-and-greets with the Easter Bunny, glow-in-the-dark and traditional Easter egg hunts, bunny hop races, arts and crafts, and a poolside showing of the movie HOP, the young and young-at-heart will find plenty to do when taking a break from the enchanting gardens in Epcot.

Other featured experiences during the week include a special Easter Bunny basket delivery to the room on Easter morning and an Easter dinner buffet at Garden Grove Cafe with Disney character appearances on Sunday, April 5, at 5PM. Additional costs apply for both.

This resort is within easy walking distance of both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and provides [Read more…]

Review: Territory Lounge at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort

We are headed back to Territory Lounge! FINALLY!

The lounge, located in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, is pretty much the definition of awesome when it comes to Disney resort bars and lounges.

We’ve talked about the  pub grub here in the past, and it’s no secret that every time I stay at WL I find myself down here at least a few times. So during a recent stay I was excited to dig in and share the latest updates with you.

So kick back for a relaxing visit. Let’s begin by taking a look around.

Atmosphere

You’ll find the Territory Lounge tucked off to the left side, way past Whispering Canyon Cafe, as you enter the lobby of Wilderness Lodge. It’s fully separated from that animated restaurant, so don’t let its close proximity put you off. It’s fairly quiet in here.

territory lounge wilderness lodge

Bar Area and Round Table Seating

There’s sort of a nostalgic hunter’s lodge feel about the Lounge, matching the feel of the whole resort. Wood paneling, paintings of wildlife, and antiqued walls give that sense that you’re in a bit of a man cave.

Rich Colors and Comfortable Seating Make the Space Inviting

Rich Colors and Comfortable Seating Make the Space Inviting

Americana Decor and a Cozy Loveseat Make for an Inviting Space

Americana Decor and a Cozy Loveseat Make for an Inviting Space

Intimate tables for two along the wall offer that “didn’t-get-here-early-enough-to-get-the-easy-chairs” seating. ;-)

Intimate Seating Along the Paneled Wall

Intimate Seating Along the Paneled Wall

I love the shadowboxes that hang just above these tables. They’re full of interesting expedition objects, and the faint glow provides nice light.

Cool Shadowboxes Use Old Expedition Tools as Decor

Cool Shadowboxes Use Old Expedition Tools as Decor

But, of course, I always seek out the comfy seating in a Disney lounge, and Territory doesn’t disappoint. Curling up in these easy chairs with a nightcap seems like the perfect way to end a Disney Day.

Comfy Chairs and the Framed Flatscreen

Comfy Chairs and the Framed Flatscreen

Be sure to check out these guys, too! The carved bears [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Healthier Options in Walt Disney World

Many of us regard a trip to Walt Disney World as an opportunity to take a break from healthy eating, and counting calories, carbs, etc.

dfb2015_guide_3d

But sometimes, you don’t necessarily want to check nutritional discipline at the Purple Gates.

You may think that healthy eating at Walt Disney World is an oxymoron. But more and more, that’s simply not so.

Sure, you can indulge to your heart’s content. But whether you’re looking to sub out just one meal or snack a day for a health-savvy option, or you plan to stick to your guns in the nutrition department while you’re amidst the magic, we have some great tips for finding healthy and tasty options at Walt Disney World!

They come courtesy of the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2015! And if you find these tips to be helpful, pick up your copy of the Guide today for $4 off using code “2015” right here!

Head for the Grab and Go

Not too long ago, Disney World was a sea of hamburgers, fries, and soda pop. And some people think that’s what it STILL is.

But, honestly, things have changed.

Disney Grab and Go Healthy Options

Disney Grab and Go Healthy Options

Sure, you still have lots and lots of choices in the burger genre. But they’ve definitely expanded beyond the fast food mentality when it comes to quick eating options.

My best tip for eating healthy — and this goes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack time — is to head for the Grab and Go section.

Sunshine Seasons Fruit and Cheese Plate

Sunshine Seasons Fruit and Cheese Plate

You’ll spy Grab and Go spots in lots of places. There are always robust choices in the Resorts. There, you’ll find everything from prepared salads, sandwiches made with lean meats, and even sushi. Check out Landscape of Flavors at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort for a great selection! And when it comes to a Park option, Sunshine Seasons offers choices that can’t be beat.

Grab and Go Sushi

Grab and Go Sushi at Landscape of Flavors

So if you have the resolve to pass the pizza and burgers by, a healthy meal is totally in your grasp!

Be Mindful About Restaurant Choices

If you have healthy eating in mind, then you probably shouldn’t pencil in a counter service lunch at Casey’s Corner. ;-)

Don’t get me wrong — Corn Dog Nuggets and Plastic Cheese are totally boss. But let’s face it — planning ahead to eat at a restaurant that offers lots of fresh choices and grilled options is probably a better idea when you’re trying to stay on the healthy bandwagon.

Fortunately, better-for-you options abound at Walt Disney World. One of my favorite spots to grab a healthy counter service lunch is Tamu Tamu Refreshments at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. You can’t go wrong with their Chicken or Vegetable Curry.

Tamu Tamu Vegetarian Curry

Tamu Tamu Vegetarian Curry

Another option that I can recommend is the Japan Pavilion at Epcot. Whether you choose Miso Soup from Kabuki Cafe, a counter service meal at Katsura Grill, or you opt for [Read more…]

Spotted: Hawaiian Host Macadamia Treats at Polynesian Village Resort’s Boutiki

Did you know you can take a real taste of the Hawaiian islands home with you from Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort?

Boutiki

Boutiki

Boutiki

Boutiki

Now, you may already be familiar with some of the ways you can grab a macadamia treat while at the resort… say, the Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cupcake occasionally spotted at Captain Cook’s, or Macadamia Pineapple Pancakes from Kona Cafe.

Chocolate Macadamia Cupcake from Captain Cook's

Chocolate Macadamia Cupcake from Captain Cook’s

Macadamia Pineapple Pancakes from Kona Cafe

Macadamia Pineapple Pancakes from Kona Cafe

But I was walking by Boutiki recently — the main merchandise location at the Polynesian — and couldn’t help but notice this window display packed to the brim with “Hawaiian Host” items, prepackaged and ready for travel.

Boutiki window display

Boutiki window display

Boutiki window display

Boutiki window display

Boutiki window display

Boutiki window display

Stepping inside I found the Hawaiian Host display, which features an assortment of chocolate treats — all starring Macadamia nuts. The selection at Boutiki includes [Read more…]

Best Disneyland Restaurants for First Timers

Okay. So I tried to come up with the Top Three Disneyland Restaurants for First Timers. But there was no way I could limit my picks to just three. So then, I said, hey, let’s try for the Top Five.

Even still.

So in the end, I cut myself off at Eight. :-)

Disneyland's Matterhorn

Matterhorn!

There is so much good food in Disneyland. Really, it was super hard not to just give you a list of pretty much every restaurant there, and call it a day.

But if you must narrow it down, these are the restaurants that I love. These are the spots that I’d go to every single time if I could. (And mostly, I do.)

Heading to Disneyland, or just dreaming about a pilgrimage there? Check out my picks for the places you have to visit during your very first trip. Whether you’re looking for a meal or a snack, you can’t go wrong with putting these spots on your list.

Cafe Orleans

If I could only eat at one spot in Disneyland for the rest of my life, I’m fairly sure that spot would be Cafe Orleans. Located on New Orleans Square, it’s offers some of the beautiful patio seating that Disneyland is known for.

Outdoor Patio at Cafe Orleans

Outdoor Patio at Cafe Orleans

But I’m going to be honest — Cafe Orleans claims the distinction of offering not just one or two, but three of my favorite Disneyland dishes. (And that’s pretty much all I ever eat there.) First, when you visit here, I insist you order the Pommes Frites. Tossed with Garlic and Parmesan, they’re served with a Cajun Remoulade ramekin. I also insist you order TWO remoulades. At least. Per person.

Cafe Orleans Pommes Frites

Cafe Orleans Pommes Frites

While I love their gumbo here as well, it’s the Monte Cristo Sandwich that I can’t live without. Pockets of bread layered with Ham, Turkey, and Swiss Cheese are lightly battered and deep-fried. Served with Berry Puree for dipping, this is pretty much something everyone should eat at least once in life.

Disneyland's Famous Monte Cristo

Monte Cristo at Cafe Orleans

Not a meat-eater? There’s also an All-Cheese Version. No. Seriously. There is.

Behold. The Three-Cheese Monte Cristo. Did I mention the Double Creme Brie?

Three-Cheese Monte Cristo at Disneyland's Cafe New Orleans

Three-Cheese Monte Cristo at Disneyland’s Cafe New Orleans

But save room for dessert — because you can’t pass on the Mickey Beignets served with Dipping Sauces.

Mickey Beignets with Sauces

Mickey Beignets with Sauces

Have this meal just once, and you can say “I’ve been to Disneyland” properly as far as I’m concerned.

Blue Bayou

But Cafe Orleans has an older, slightly more posh sister — Blue Bayou. And while I usually skip it in favor of Cafe Orleans, if you’re visiting the ‘Land for the first time, you really need to experience this place.

Because more than anything, Blue Bayou is an experience; it’s as much an attraction as a restaurant.

Blue Bayou Atmosphere

Blue Bayou Atmosphere

Because the restaurant is fashioned to look like a verandah on a river’s edge. Look below you into the water, and you see travelers, en route to explore the mysteries of the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Honestly, the food is less important here to me than the “view.” I have enjoyed the New Orleans Signature Gumbo. And in this setting, it’s even better.

New Orleans Signature Gumbo

New Orleans Signature Gumbo

And yep, to be honest, I like to order the Monte Cristo here, too!

Le Special de  Monte Cristo Sandwich

Le Special de Monte Cristo Sandwich

It’s a little fancier (and more expensive), but just as delicious.

Napa Rose

Some of my Disneyland dining choices are obviously sentimental; either I love the restaurant, the food, or both. But it’s not like they’re the tip-top of the culinary pyramid or anything. But then, there’s Napa Rose.

I Love the Napa Rose Outdoor Lounge Area

Start Your Napa Rose Adventure With a Glass of Wine on the Outside Patio

Nestled inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, Napa Rose stands as a testament to fine California fusion cuisine, inspired by fresh farm-to-market ingredients.

Chef Sutton's Chili Base

Chef Sutton’s Chili Base — Even Base Ingredients are Created in House From Scratch

Chef Andrew Sutton is in charge here, and his menus make use of the freshest items. Prepare to be [Read more…]