Review: ‘Ama ‘Ama Dinner at Disney’s Aulani Resort

Welcome back DFB Reporter James Armstrong. Today, we get to peek at his Hawaiian dinner at ‘Ama ‘Ama at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii!

Let’s go back to Hawaii once again for dinner — this time at Aulani’s upscale restaurant ‘Ama ‘Ama.

Atmosphere

This seaside open air restaurant is the perfect romantic venue for any special occasion. ‘Ama ‘Ama has a perfect view of Hawaii’s famous sunsets!

And listening to the sound of the waves from the nearby lagoon while savoring your meal is a memorable experience.

Sunset View

Sunset View

The decor of the restaurant itself was rather minimalist to emphasize the natural beauty of the surroundings.

Dining Room

Dining Room

‘Ama ‘Ama is named after a type of mullet fish native to Hawai’i, also known as striped mullet. The restaurant itself is meant to look like a fishing shack from the 1890’s.

'Ama 'Ama Details

‘Ama ‘Ama Details

Aulani-AmaAma-Dinner-Story

The tables are setup to emphasize panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean no matter where you sit, but I recommend requesting a table closest to the open air windows for the maximum effect.

Hawaiian Sunset

Hawaiian Sunset

Eats

The menu is designed to use fresh locally grown produce, sustainably caught fresh fish, and house made desserts. The cuisine is considered Hawaiian and Asian with some European influences.

Front of Dinner Menu

Front of Dinner Menu

Dinner Menu

Dinner Menu Starters

aulani-AmaAma-Dinner-MenuEntrees

Aulani-AmaAma-Dinner-MenuMenuForTwo

aulani-AmaAma-Dinner-MenuDesserts

After ordering drinks, crusty sourdough bread was delivered to our table. It is served with two different kinds of Hawaiian Sea Salt — Pink Hawaiian and Black Lava. The black lava salt had a smokey taste to it while the pink sea salt almost had a floral taste.

Sourdough Bread with Sea Salts

Sourdough Bread with Sea Salts

After the bread, we started the meal with some appetizers. First up, we chose the Big Eye Tuna Poke with Rice Chips and Avocado Mousse. This was a gourmet twist on a common Hawaiian appetizer poke. We tried poke at several places on the island including Aulani’s Buffet restaurant Makahiki, a luau, and several local places. This had to be one of the best.

Tuna Poke Appetizer

Tuna Poke Appetizer

The Tuna was fresh and flavorful and the Avocado Mousse added a nice richness that complimented the acidity of the lime juice in the poke. The rice cracker on top added a little crunch to contrast to an otherwise buttery texture of the poke.

Tuna Poke

Tuna Poke

We also got the Crispy Singaporean Pepper Shrimp with Green Papaya Salad and Thai Ketchup. This dish sounded like it was going to be something interesting and exotic but ended up just being fried shrimp with papaya on top.

The shrimp was average and the Thai ketchup tasted like ketchup with a little chili paste added. When I think Asian food I imagine bold flavors and this didn’t seem to deliver. Don’t get me wrong it was good, but considering the cost ($18) and what seemed like a lot of potential in the ingredients, it could have been more interesting.

Pepper Shrimp

Pepper Shrimp

For our main course, I had the Island Seafood Thai Curry served with Japanese Eggplant and Choi Sum (Chinese Flowering Cabbage) served with Jasmine Rice. This was cooked in a parchment packet that was opened and served tableside.

Thai Curry

Thai Curry

The seafood featured was [Read more…]

News! Mother’s Day Meals at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel

Looking to treat Mom to an extra special meal this Mother’s Day? We have a few great options for you at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Restaurants!

Garden Grove Cafe

You’ll feel like you’re in a garden, with all the comforts of being in the a/c! Garden Grove Cafe at the Walt Disney World Swan Resort is the perfect spot to spoil Mom this Mother’s Day.

Feel Like You're Outdoors with the Comfort of Indoors!

Feel Like You’re Outdoors with the Comfort of Indoors!

And with two different options, there’s something for early risers as well as those who plan to let her sleep in a little. If it’s breakfast you’re after, enjoy Garden Grove’s special Mother’s Day Breakfast Menu.

When: Sunday, May 10, 7:00 — 10:00AM

Where: Garden Grove Cafe, Walt Disney World Swan Resort

Cost: $35.99 for Adults, $19.99 for children ages 3-9, children under three eat for free

Garden Grove Mothers Day Breakfast Menu

Garden Grove Mothers Day Breakfast Menu

Garden Grove Mothers Day Breakfast Menu

Garden Grove Mothers Day Breakfast Menu

Menu highlights include [Read more…]

DFB Challenge: The Walt Disney World Beer Crawl

Alrighty, Guys — it’s time for another fun Disney Food Blog Challenge. And this one is definitely for the grown ups!

Everyone’s aware that craft Beer has become increasingly popular. Sure, through the years, you always had the garden variety options…

Lovely Beer!

Lovely Beer!

But these days, Craft Beers and International Selections are where it’s at. So we thought that it was high time we take a closer look at some of the interesting beer that you can get throughout Walt Disney World.

In the interest of interactive fun, we decided to come up with another DFB Food — er, Beverage — Crawl, dedicated to the world of beer, and all that it encompasses.

And we know that there are LOTS of you out there who are serious about your study and research of this important subject. We are in it for the fun. ;-) So we definitely want YOUR comments below on what you think the Can’t Miss Beers of Walt Disney World are!

Because this is a rather weighty subject, we’ll spread it out over a 3 day visit. But feel free to consolidate as your tolerance level allows.

Grab some beer nuts, and let’s go!

Day One: Explore Epcot

We’ll start our 3-day Beer Crawl in the best place for sampling a wide variety of food and drink — Epcot!

When beer is the main attraction of the day, it’s a good idea to get some sustenance first thing. We love to enter Epcot via the International Gateway Entrance and start our day with a stop in Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in the France Pavilion for a petit déjeuner of French Pastries and Coffee or Chocolat Chaud.

We especially love the Frangipane Triangles!

Frangipane -- Cross Section

Frangipane — Cross Section

If you’d like a full-on breakfast platter-type situation, head to Sunshine Seasons (although the Croissant Berry Bread Pudding gets our vote).

Fueled up and ready to go, it’s time to hit World Showcase!

Moosehead in the Canada Pavilion

We all have our traditions, and one that we love to embrace is the First Beer of the Day in Epcot. And that honor almost always goes to Moosehead as we begin our Drinking Journey around the World! Find it at the Canada Beer Stand located near the entrance to Le Cellier Steakhouse.

The beer offerings in Canada

Stroll the area, making time to check out the Totem Poles before you head to your next stop.

Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room in the UK Pavilion

With a small breakfast and your first brew under your belt, it’s time to stop for lunch and more beer in one of our favorite Epcot dining spots.

The Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room in the UK Pavilion offers a wide array of beer and cider from the British Isles. Make your advance dining reservation ahead of time for a sit down meal, or take a gamble with finding a spot in the pub (it can get pretty crowded in there). Note that you can also get beers at a counter outside the restaurant and pub.

Sampling British beers is your goal here, so we recommend the Imperial Sampler, which normally includes pours of Bass, Harp, Strongbow, Boddington’s, and Guinness.

Imperial Sampler

Alternatively, you can choose from a long list of Pub Blends, which are half-and-half mixes of some of the beer on tap. You’ll never go wrong with a Black and Tan — half Bass Ale and half Guinness.

Of course, if you have a favorite beer among those on tap, enjoy a pint of that one instead. We especially love to order a Guinness, served with its famous Shamrock Head!

Shamrock Design on Top of Guinness

And if you visit on a weekday, don’t forget to say “hello” to Carl the Bartender!

Japan

With a little lunch under your belt, it’s time to hit up the Japan Pavilion for another unique stop on your beer tour. Kirin Frozen Beer comes with a fluffy, semi-frozen head that keeps your beer cold a little longer in that warm Florida sun.

While the picture below is from Tokyo Dining, you can also get a portable version in a plastic cup at Kabuki Cafe.

Frozen Kirin Beer in Epcot's Japan

Frozen Kirin Beer in Epcot’s Japan

Take in some time listening to the drummers or checking out the [Read more…]

Spotted! Olaf’s Perfect Sundae Day at Disney World’s Beaches and Cream

So, remember a few weeks ago when we announced that some new treats celebrating the “Frozen Fever” film short would be hitting the scene at BOTH Disneyland and Disney World?

Frozen fans on both coasts were given a few new sweet snacks to look forward to, including Anna’s Happy Birthday Cupcake and even a slice of Anna’s Birthday Ice Cream Cake at a few select Table Service restaurants.

Anna's Happy Birthday Cupcake

Anna’s Happy Birthday Cupcake

Well, with many thanks to awesome DFB Reader Jessie J., we can share a picture and mini review for you today of another of the Frozen Fever Treats: Olaf’s Perfect Sundae Day! She grabbed it at Beaches and Cream Soda Shop — the favorite ice cream stop for many a guest at Disney World :) .

Beaches and Cream Entrance

Beaches and Cream Entrance

Frozen Fever Treat sign

Frozen Fever Treat sign

Olaf’s Perfect Sundae Day features hot fudge, mint marshmallows, and brownie bites all topping a huge pile of Birthday Cake Ice Cream (a natural choice for the celebration of Anna’s birthday, just like in the film). YUM!

Olaf's Perfect Sundae Day

Olaf’s Perfect Sundae Day

Jessie shares that, “It’s really tasty, especially the homemade Mint Marshmallows. The Olaf and Sunflower are white chocolate.”

Olaf's Perfect Sundae Day

Olaf’s Perfect Sundae Day

Even those who have been [Read more…]

Review: Gasparilla Island Grill at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

It’s time for lunch at Gasparilla Island Grill in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort!

The Grand Floridian dining scene is primarily defined by unique dining experiences such as Victoria and Albert’s (Disney World’s AAA Five-Diamond Restaurant) and Afternoon Tea as well as two signature restaurants (Citricos and Narcoossee’s) and character meals at 1900 Park Fare. It’s also home to one of my very favorite Disney meals in all of history: the Grand Floridian Burger at the resort’s more casual Table Service restaurant, the Grand Floridian Cafe (the name doesn’t convey the highlight of the dish: it’s the lobster-topped burger you may have heard about).

Even among all that, the Grand Floridian still remains a place where you can grab a quick Counter Service bite 24 hours a day thanks to to Gasparilla Island Grill.

Gasparilla Island Grill sign

Gasparilla Island Grill sign

The last time we paid a visit it had recently been through a refurbishment, changing from Gasparilla Grill and Games to its current name. While not much has changed in the way of atmosphere since that visit, the menu differs somewhat from its immediate post-refurb offerings, so we’re back to grab a quick bite (or three!) at Gasparilla Island Grill!

Gasaprilla Island Grill entrance

Gasaprilla Island Grill entrance

Atmosphere

The general vibe at Gasparilla Island Grill is decidedly — and expectedly — Floridian! Creamy colors, pale greens, and lots of natural sunlight keep it airy, while the lush, darker greens and palms associated with the state of Florida are represented in the seating decor.

Gasparilla Island Grill indoor seating

Gasparilla Island Grill indoor seating

Gasparilla Island Grill indoor seating

Gasparilla Island Grill indoor seating

Second seating area

Second seating area

At the same time, the resort’s Victorian style is reflected in the light fixtures (check out those hidden Mickeys!), and by a small display of dish and glassware.

Lighting

Lighting

Lighting

Lighting

Dish display

Dish display

Dish display

Dish display

Though not known for tons of Disney detailing, the basic scene here is very pleasant in that it’s fresh, clean, and simple.

Perhaps the most unique feature to Gasparilla is the amount of high-backed booths lining the perimeter. They do allow for a certain feeling of privacy in what can be a bustling place, depending on the time of day.

Booth seating

Booth seating

Outdoor seating is also available; however, it wasn’t much in use on the day my friend and I visited, due to to some classic spring showers.

Outdoor seating in the rain

Outdoor seating on a rainy day

Once the rain lightened up, I stepped outside once more to [Read more…]

News! Disney to Roll Out Allergy-Friendly Menus at More Than 100 Restaurants in Disney World and Disneyland

For some time, Disney has been a leader in the hospitality industry when it comes to serving guests with food allergies and sensitivities. Today, we’re learning that they’re offering options that will hopefully continue to make Disney visits more enjoyable and worry-free for guests who live with allergies.

Allergy-friendly kiosk menu

Allergy-friendly kiosk menu

After previously piloting Allergy-Friendly Menus at a number of venues, Disney has announced they will roll out Allergy-Friendly Menus to around 120 restaurants. The menus will be available at both counter service and table service locations throughout Walt Disney World and Disneyland parks and resorts. The move will include venues at Disney water parks and Downtown Disney restaurants as well.

Gluten Free Menu currently at ABC Commissary

ABC Commissary Took Part Offered a Gluten Free Menu During the Pilot Program

The goal is to provide a convenient way for guests to manage their food allergies while dining at Disney restaurants, and to provide more food options that are readily available.

The allergy-friendly menus will focus on the most common allergens: [Read more…]

Take A Tax Break…

Yep, today is TAX DAY in the US of A, and we know you’ve been buried under receipts and government forms and other boring things for days, weeks, and months.

This is me while I'm doing my taxes.

This is me while I’m doing my taxes.

But it’s time to take a TAX BREAK…and plan your DISNEY TRIP INSTEAD!

disneydining

Today and tomorrow only, we’re offering our uber popular DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining e-Book for 50% off…just to jump start your happy mood! Use code TAXBREAK to get the discount!

dfb2015_guide_3d

The fully updated DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2015 e-Book is an instantly downloadable PDF guide, featuring over 490 full-color pages of photographs, information, and advice about our favorite subjects — food and dining in Walt Disney World.

It’s guaranteed to help you navigate your way to delicious dining on your next trip! And if you’re ready to get yours now, head on over to DFBStore.com to pick it up!!

Today and tomorrow only, use code: TAXBREAK to get 50% off  the regular price for a limited time!

What’s In The Guide?

As thousands of repeat customers already know, the Guide includes:

  • 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.
  • 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, downloadable worksheets for planning your trip. These worksheets are designed to help you execute all the steps of planning the perfect Disney dining experience. And they’re reusable for all of your future trips!
  • Seven sample one-day dining itineraries for a head-start on planning.
  • A comprehensive index of bars and lounges. An often under-appreciated option for both dining and entertainment, the e-Book devotes a whole index to the topic.
  • The ability to be read on your mobile device or computer! It’s fully portable right in your pocket!

While our 2014 Guide was extensive, Disney World is always updating menus, prices, and other dining info. And we’re always finding new things to tell you about! So we’ve updated our 2015 edition with brand new details and more exclusive info! Check out a couple of sample pages below. Click to enlarge!

Be Our Guest FastPass Tips. Newly updated for 2015!

DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining Sample Page

What's New Sample Page from our new 2015 Dining Guide!

DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining Sample Page

Here’s Just Some Of What You Get With Our 2015 Guide:

  • Over 490 Pages of Disney Dining and Planning information, tips, reviews, and recommendations!
  • An in-depth Disney Dining Restaurant Reviews section, covering all Disney restaurants, food kiosks, bars, and lounges
  • An updated Disney Dining Plan section and price analysis for 2015
  • NEW Disney food and restaurant photos
  • An updated Disney Snacks chapter, including our list of dozens of must-try snacks AND our Top Must-Have Snacks for 2015
  • A comprehensive chapter of What’s New in Disney World in 2015, including new restaurants, menu updates, and more
  • Details about how the My Magic+ Planning System and FastPass+ will affect your vacation planning
  • Our picks for Great Snacks you must try this year
  • Tips for scoring a Be Our Guest FastPass for lunch time dining
  • Our suggestions for [Read more…]

Photo Tour: Reopened Barefoot Pool Bar and Volcano Pool at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Okay, so we all know the news surrounding bars and lounges at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort has revolved almost solely around two places recently: Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Terrace.

But one place we haven’t discussed much at all recently is the Barefoot Pool Bar… primarily because it hasn’t been open. You see, with the major refurbishment of the Polynesian’s Volcano Pool came the closure of its accompanying pool bar.

But early this month the pool opened up again — much to the happiness of many a Poly guest! And the Barefoot Pool Bar has reopened right along with it.

Not much has changed at the Barefoot Pool Bar itself, still finding its home at the side of the volcano, though the sign is new.

Barefoot Pool Bar at the main Polynesian pool

Barefoot Pool Bar at the main Polynesian pool

Barefoot Pool Bar sign

Barefoot Pool Bar sign

But the general feel is somewhat different, and I think that’s due more to the bar’s changed surroundings more than the lounge itself. For instance, the fence around the pool, which ends at the Barefoot, does change the vibe (though all are still welcome to have a drink at the bar — only Resort guests are permitted swim in the pool, as per usual).

Barefoot Pool Bar

Barefoot Pool Bar

Barefoot Pool Bar

Barefoot Pool Bar

The familiar Disney pool bar drinks still grace the menu (and the full bar is also available).

Barefoot Pool Bar menu

Barefoot Pool Bar menu

Specialty drinks closeup

Specialty drinks closeup

Menu closeup

Menu closeup

Info on menu board

Info on menu board

A little reminder is posted regarding operating hours.

Operating Hours for Barefoot Pool Bar

Operating Hours for Barefoot Pool Bar

Alas, I didn’t have time to sip, since I was preparing to get in line for Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. But I did take a few moments to do a little exploring in the surrounding areas. Now that the pool is open again and the majority of construction walls are down in the main area surrounding the Great Ceremonial House, we can all at last get a feel for what the renovated Polynesian Village Resort is like.

Map of the Polynesian Village Resort

Map of the Polynesian Village Resort

So while we’re here, let’s take a walk, shall we? Here’s another look at the pool.

Lava Pool

Lava Pool

One very welcome addition is that of the new [Read more…]

Review: Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Terrace at Disney World’s Polynesian Village Resort

CHEERS! COWABUNGA! TULLEEHO! KUNGALOOSH!

It’s already time to go back inside (and outside!) Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Terrace at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort!

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

While both the Grotto and Terrace continue in soft openings with an official opening anticipated for late April (when all the sought-after souvenir glasses will be available for guests to take home), these new hot spots remain the talk of the town.

On March 28th, when both the Grog Grotto and the Tiki Terrace soft opened for the first day, tales of lines up to 6 hours long were nearly as much of a story as the bars opening themselves. So a common question now is, “What are the wait times like?”

How long until you can get past Trader Sam's door?

How long until you can get past Trader Sam’s door?

Grog Grotto Hours of Operation

Grog Grotto Hours of Operation

Unsure of what to expect, my husband and I arrived at the Polynesian at 2 pm on a weekday for the 4 pm opening, and no line had started yet (though the bar is open until midnight, after 8 pm only guests 21 and older are permitted).

At 3 pm, we decided we’d better stake out our spot, so we went to the inside door of the Grog Grotto, where two Cast Members were waiting. We were told we were the first for the day, and could start the line outside at the metal bench pictured below.

The line starts here

The line starts here

The next guest arrived at 3:15, and a line in earnest began to form at 3:30 pm. Around 3:50, a Cast Member came outside and gave us all a stamp to show at the door as our proof that we’d been counted in the line. At this time, I counted around 40 people waiting, and when we were let in at 4:00 pm, everyone made it inside to fill up the 51 person capacity. Huzzah!

Outdoor entrance into the Trader Sam's hallway

Outdoor entrance into the Trader Sam’s hallway

Now, I’m not claiming this will be the case everyday. We clearly arrived early anticipating a wait and were shocked that there wasn’t one, especially during what’s considered a peak time (still in the Spring Break window). Now, I had a friend in town Saturday of the same week. She arrived at Trader Sam’s at 7:30 pm and was given a pager for a 90 minute wait, and folks arriving a while after were looking at a couple hours at least.

Pager for Trader Sam's

Pager for Trader Sam’s

That’s not altogether surprising, though, since I think we can all anticipate longer lines on weekends for what is sure to be a popular destination for locals as well as vacationers for a long time to come.

Okay, logistics, schmogistics! WE’RE IN! It’s time to see a little more of what Trader Sam has in store for his guests…

TRADER SAM’S GROG GROTTO

Atmosphere

You’ve now entered Trader Sam’s “happy hideaway.” The story of the Grotto is told to us by Skip, Manager of the Jungle Cruise Navigational Company (just click the image below to enlarge). As head salesman of the jungle that we all know and love from the Jungle Cruise, Trader Sam discovered a passion for mixology as an extension of his professional interest in head-shrinking potions. As he traveled the globe for ingredients, he picked up many a souvenir and brought them back to the Grotto.

The story of Trader Sam's Grog Grotto

The story of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

Entering the Grotto for the first time was — for me, at least — overwhelming in the best way possible. While you want to grab a table or a seat at the bar (and lemme tell ya, it’s best to move quickly to get one), it’s difficult to not want to try to take in every bit of the INSANE amount of details and decoration right away. This room is simply the stuff of dreams for fans of Disney detail and history.

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

Before we take in a few of those gems, the basic setup is small and…well, I don’t know if “cozy” is the word. It’s snug, for sure, but somehow not in a bad way. The way everyone is close together, it seems to encourage a party atmosphere and festive mood.

Oh, my… where to start? Well, I’ll take a cue from a Jungle Cruise Skipper and point out a few of my favorite details! There’s this one.

Postcard

Postcard

And this one.

Family Tree East Coast Branch

Family Tree East Coast Branch

I like this one.

Picture of Walt Disney

Walt Disney

Ooookay, so CLEARLY that joke doesn’t play out in writing the same way it does on the Jungle Cruise when your Skipper deadpans pointing out his or her favorite plants ;) . Still, you get the point. There is just a TON of [Read more…]

Photo Tour: Vintage Food Fun at Disney’s Pop Century Resort

When you see the words “Photo Tour” in the title of any DFB post, it often means we’ve got something NEW around Disney World or Disneyland to share. But not this time… As a matter of fact, some of the things we’re going to show you today are over well over 50 years old. We’re taking a tour of some of the vintage food-related items in the Pop Century Resort Shadow Boxes!

"Remember When..."

“Remember When…”

If you haven’t had a chance to visit Disney’s Pop Century Resort, the check-in area is lined with shadow boxes filled with blasts from the past, in keeping with this fun and colorful Value resort’s theme dedicated to pop culture from the 50s through the 90s.

The shadow boxes include items reflecting music, television, fads, trends, gizmos and gadgets from the various decades represented, but we’re focusing on those related to food, and hope you have fun traveling through the decades with us!

Starting in the 50s, you’ve gotta love one of the first shadowboxes, dedicated to Walt Disney, Disneyland, and the first Mouseketeers.

Vintage Disney 50s display

Vintage Disney 50s display

The vintage food find here is the tin school bus lunch box, complete with Goofy driving around some of our oldest Disney pals.

Disney School Bus Lunch Box

Disney School Bus Lunch Box

It was also the era of soda fountains and diners when “teenage” life as we know it hit the scene.

Diner Shadow Box

Diner Shadow Box

Diner Shadow Box

Diner Shadow Box

Take a very close look at the menu, and you’ll spot one of Walt Disney’s favorite dishes, Chili and Beans, going for the high price of 15 cents (though I think I’d spring for “Bob’s Special Steak” for a quarter).

50s Diner display

50s Diner display

Even the songs in the tabletop jukebox reveal a few food gems, with the [Read more…]