What’s New Around the World!

What’s new in your favorite Disney World “chomping grounds”? What’s changed? Read on to find out what we’ve checked out recently!

Downtown Disney

The biggest change over the past week has been the addition of The Smokehouse to Downtown Disney’s West Side. This stop for all-things-barbeque features a lovely outdoor seating area and the chance to enjoy live music.

The Smokehouse

The Smokehouse

Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich with House-made Cole Slaw

Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich with House-made Cole Slaw

Live music!

Live music!

Signs of bigger changes to come can be spotted all over Downtown Disney as the area delves into its transformation to Disney Springs … and when I say “signs,” I mean actual signs.

We’ll be sharing more in a future post, but the artwork all over Downtown Disney give us an idea of what guests can look forward to in the future.

Artwork depicting the future Disney Springs

Artwork depicting the future Disney Springs

Artwork depicting the future Disney Springs

Artwork depicting the future Disney Springs

Artwork reflecting the West Side Starbucks, opening Spring 2014

Artwork reflecting the West Side Starbucks, opening Spring 2014

A smaller change – yet nearly as significant for fans of “Earl’s” ;) – is that Earl of Sandwich has added [Read more…]

“The Best Thing I Ever Ate in Disney!” Breakfast!

We’re back for more fun with a brand new version of our hit series, “The Best Thing I Ever Ate in Disney”!

Best Thing I Ever Ate in Disney -- Breakfast

With your awesome input, we had tons of fun exploring our favorite Disney food categories a looong time ago. But Disney keeps adding amazing new dishes, treats, and foods! And so, it’s time to revisit these questions and add some of our new, and enduring, favorites to the mix!

Today, we’ll get the day started off right just like we should — with some delicious Breakfast! I’ll let you know a few of my favorites…and then it’s your turn to chime with in YOUR votes for “The Best Thing I Ever Ate in Disney — Breakfast”!

Let’s get to crackin’! (Like…eggs. Crackin’ eggs. Get it? :-) )

Warm Honey Pecan Cinnamon Roll at Kouzzina

In no time flat, Kouzzina by Cat Cora has become one of my favorite places to dine at Walt Disney World for breakfast. It’s quiet, relaxed, and offers some truly delicious eats.

If we’re going to talk about killer ways to start your day, first up has to be one of my favorite breakfast finds of recent Disney visits: the Warm Honey Pecan Cinnamon Roll at Kouzzina.

Warm Honey Pecan Cinnamon Roll

Wouldn’t you just love to dig into one of these babies right. this. minute?? Me tooooo! Warm, butter-rich dough envelops a beautiful center filled to overflowing with that yummy, buttery, cinnamon-y goodness that just makes your heart SING!

This. This is what a cinnamon roll should look like — so gooey that you need a fork to eat it! Believe me when I say that the Warm Honey Pecan Cinnamon Roll is plenty reason enough to make Kouzzina your very next advance dining reservation.

Warm Honey Pecan Cinnamon Roll — Inside

Tonga Toast at Kona Cafe

Classics become so for a reason. In Disney food circles, classics = awesomeness (and often over-the-topness) that just about everyone loves.

Case in point: Tonga Toast at Kona Cafe.

Tonga Toast with Bacon

Thick, fluffy bread is stuffed with banana yum, before it’s battered and deep-fried. After a roll in a ton of [Read more…]

Guest Review: ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Join us in welcoming guest author Kevin Carpenter with a dinner review of ‘Ohana. This Polynesian Resort restaurant at Walt Disney World is popular for its all-you-care-to-eat fare served family-style. Aloha!

Dining at ‘Ohana is not an experience entered into without expectation. The restaurant regularly claims a spot among the best table-service venues on Disney property and it enjoys word of mouth that is nothing short of exemplary. As such, reservations go quickly.

After years of close calls and near misses, I finally secured a dinner reservation – for a party of nineteen, no less – and my hopes were sky high for my first visit to ‘Ohana.

The Entrance to ‘Ohana

As we arrived at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, a large crowd already milled about outside ‘Ohana’s entrance. Seeing this, I feared our large group would be in for quite a wait. After all, our party – extended family members enjoying a Disney vacation together for the first time in many years – was well used to lengthy waits for tables. And this night looked to be no different.

We checked in and, much to my surprise, were immediately whisked to our table. I should have known that there is very little the Cast Members of Walt Disney World are not prepared to handle.

Atmosphere

From my very first steps past the Tiki idols guarding the entranceway, I was impressed by ‘Ohana’s ambiance. In true Disney style, the interior theming strikes a fine balance between subtlety and traditional Hawaiian decor.

Tiki idols stand watch as you enter ‘Ohana

As we reached our long table, one thing became abundantly clear – we had made the perfect choice for our trip’s centerpiece meal. The word ‘Ohana, meaning family, would prove to be more than simply the name of the restaurant. Everything – from the unending salads and appetizers to the main course and dessert – would be served family style. Even the servers are considered honorary “cousins”. What place could be better for a large family meal?!

While we had many cousins gathered around our table, it was our server, “Cousin” Candy, who stood out the most. She may have been a member of the family for just this one evening, but she fit right in with remarkable warmth and attentiveness.

Where all the magic happens – ‘Ohana’s grilling area

Eats

We had scarcely taken our seats before the table was filled with the incredibly tasty Welcome Bread and bowls of salad with passion fruit dressing. I could have been quite content to savor the bread’s rich tones of pineapple and coconut all night, but the few ‘Ohana veterans among us had warned not to fill up on the bread.

Welcome Bread

Salad with Passion Fruit Dressing

Next came plates of honey-coriander chicken wings and pork dumplings. These were labeled appetizers, but they could have sufficed as meals unto themselves. Especially as everything was all-you-can-eat!

Tangy and delicious, the trays of wings and dumplings demanded refilling several times. Thankfully, my seat at the end of the table afforded an excellent view of the grilling area, where skewers upon skewers of meat and shrimp delivered a firm reminder that the best was yet to come.

Chicken Wings & Pork Dumplings

Several of us requested drinks from the bar, including one who chose to fully immerse himself in the evening’s Hawaiian spirit by ordering the Lapu Lapu. This blend of rum and fruit juices comes in extravagant style – served inside a hollowed-out pineapple.

Much to the chagrin of the one who ordered it, the Lapu Lapu made its way around the table as everyone wanted a taste. It received high marks from all who sampled it. And, honestly, our meal just felt that much more traditionally Hawaiian for having the Lapu Lapu on the table!

Lapu Lapu

One important consideration to note is that it was not only the size of our party that posed a challenge, but that we were a motley crew of adventurous and picky eaters, with a dietary restriction thrown into the mix as well. One family member suffers from gluten intolerance and required special dietary accommodation. The chef came out to speak with her before any food arrived on the table, and he promised to keep her well-stocked with an assortment of gluten-free alternatives (including gluten-free bread, noodles, and dessert).

The ‘Ohana chefs worked hard to ensure that she did not miss out on any aspect of the meal and she could not have been happier with the results.

Gluten-Free Bread

Gluten-Free Dessert

“Cousin” Candy soon delivered [Read more…]

Food Challenge: The 2013 DFB Holiday Cupcake Crawl

I suppose it’s no secret that we love our cupcakes here at Disney Food Blog!

And every year the holiday cupcake creations that crop up all over Disney World remind us exactly why we adore them so much. Last year we started a new tradition with our 2012 DFB Holiday Cupcake Crawl Challenge!

This year we found even more awesome holiday cupcakes, so we’ve decided to bring back the special Holiday Event from last year! Check out some of these unique and gorgeous holiday cupcakes around the Disney World resorts in 2013!

Welcome to the…

2013 DFB Holiday Cupcake Crawl!

Like last year, most of these cupcakes are available as snack credits on the Disney Dining Plan, so stock up those credits, and get ready to roll!

The Beach Club Resort: Cupcakes Required = 1

Starting just outside Epcot’s International Gateway, The Beach Club’s Marketplace is home to a wonderfully sparkling Gingerbread Cupcake that’s guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit!

Gingerbread Cupcake

The first thing to draw your attention is the large sugar crystals that serve as edible glitter among the red and green sprinkles of mini Christmas trees and candy canes. They sit atop a cream cheese frosting that is surprisingly dense. It’s almost like eating a sweetened cream cheese straight out of the container… and you will never hear me complain about that ;)!

The Beach Club's Gingerbread Cupcake

The cake base is more reminiscent of a mild spice cake than a stronger dark gingerbread flavor. I think it is a good balance to the sweetness of all the sugar on top (including the pretty sugar snowflake), but it’s a good thing to know if you’re expecting something different.

Inside the Gingerbread Cupcake

Not in the mood for gingerbread? You can grab this Vanilla Cupcake with red and green Minnie and Mickey Toppers for your crawl credit!

Vanilla Cupcake

BoardWalk Inn: Cupcakes Required = 1

We’re staying within the Epcot Resorts for our next stop. [Read more…]

5 Must Eat Disney Snacks You Can Get Without a Park Ticket!

So, you’re in Disney World, but for whatever reason, you don’t want to use a park ticket that morning/night/afternoon/arrival day/leaving day. No problemo!!

You can still cross some of the best Disney snacks off your must-eat list…even without scanning a single ticket/magicband/key to the World card!

Everyone knows that you can get a Mickey Bar all over the place in Disney World (you DID know that, right?), but we’ve got a few more must-try eats to share with you today! Time to check out our 5 Must Eat Disney Snacks You Can Get Without a Park Ticket!

Dole Whip

UPDATE: Dole Whip is no longer being served at Captain Cook’s, is no longer self-serve, and is no longer available 24 hours a day. BUT — you still can get it outside of the Parks. You’ll now find Dole Whip at the Pineapple Lanai in Disney’s Polynesian Village. You can also get a Dole Whip Float at Pineapple Lanai!

Let’s start with the granddaddy of them all, the Big Kahuna of Disney Must Have Treats, the stuff that legends and t shirts are made of. Ladies and gentleman, we are talking about the Dole Whip here, of course.

This frosty, delicious treat has a bona fide cult following that has blown up and taken over mainstream! You simply cannot visit Disney without having one, whether it’s a float (my favorite!) or a cup.

Dole Whip

The pineapple soft serve, which is both vegan and gluten-free, is the perfect refreshing dessert on a sunshiny day!

Even though there are few things that say “I’m at Disney right now!!!!!!” more loud and proud than strolling through Magic Kingdom, Dole Whip Float from Aloha Isle in hand, it’s great to know that you don’t ever have to head into the parks to score one of these babies!

If you’re craving some of that tropical goodness and you aren’t on park time, just head over to Captain Cook’s Snack Company at Disney’s Polynesian Resort to get your fix! The Poly’s counter service spot is not only home to some deee-licious fast fare, but they also have Dole Whip machines that pump out the yum dessert.

Dole Whip (Almost) 24-7!

And here’s a BIG OL’ TIP: You can get a Dole Whip here all day…and all night!! long. :-D Note, they DO shut down the machine for, like, one hour each night to clean it (believe me, I’ve been disappointed during that one hour before); so just avoid the 3AM Dole Whip craving and you’re good to go.

Zebra Domes

Ah, Zebra Domes. How (much) do I love thee? Enough to truck all the way over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge regardless of where I’m staying, that’s how much.

These little half-spheres first called to us from the buffet of Boma, one of Animal Kingdom Lodge’s most celebrated table service restaurants. Sure, we love Boma for their exotic dinner fare (those soups!), their carved meats and interesting condiments, and their delicious breakfast spread. But one thing’s for sure: a trip here must end with at least one Zebra Dome.

A Herd of Zebra Domes

The creamy, rich mousse domes taste like nothing you’ve ever had. That’s because the secret special ingredient is [Read more…]

Disney World and Disneyland Thanksgiving Treats!

Happy Thanksgiving (tomorrow), DFB Readers! Maybe you are having a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Or, if you’re spending your holiday in a Disney park, perhaps you’ve made an Advanced Dining Reservation at one of the Best Restaurants for Thanksgiving.

Well, be sure to leave a little room, because Disney World and Disneyland have some extra treats out this week for Thanksgiving guests :).

Disney World Thanksgiving Treats

Hollywood Studios has topped this Pumpkin Cupcake with Maple Icing at several counter-service locations throughout the park!

Pumpkin Cupcake with Maple Icing

I snagged one at my favorite spot for cupcakes in the Studios: Starring Rolls Cafe. This is a very lightly spiced pumpkin cake topped with an intensely maple-flavored frosting, dusted with crushed walnuts and topped with a milk chocolate pumpkin.

Pumpkin Cupcake with Maple Icing

Seriously – the frosting tastes JUST like maple syrup!! It’s also very dense. I was impressed with the flavor, but found it to be very sweet. After a few bites it was a little much, so I’d recommend sharing this one.

Inside the Pumpkin Cupcake with Maple Icing

If you’re craving something a little stronger ;), stop by Tune-In Lounge or High Octane Refreshments and check out one of the specialty cocktails mixed for the holiday: a Smoked Turkey or a Spiced Jack (with a Graham Cracker Crust rim). [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at Kona Cafe in Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Most of us know that Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian Resort is one of the best-kept dining secrets in all of Walt Disney World.

But these days, it’s becoming less a secret, and more of an established must-eat! If your list of advance dining reservations doesn’t include at least one meal here, then you’re sorta missing out.

By a long stretch, breakfast is the hottest meal ticket at Kona Cafe (Tonga Toast!!), followed by a loyal fan base at dinner time.

What about lunch, though? Well, I’m so glad you asked…

Atmosphere

I’ve said it before, and to date, nothing has changed: the atmosphere at Kona Cafe is boring. This is one spot at Disney World that you aren’t frequenting for the epic design choices.

Kona Cafe Sign

The vibe is “modernized hotel lobby kind of Hawaiian chic.” And by “modernized,” I do mean last decade. That’s not to say that it’s unpleasant. You just (probably) won’t be squealing with delight as you take in every element.

Dining Area

Seating is functional and comfortable. I prefer these round tables to the other options however, since I feel a little less constricted here.

Seating

There are some interesting decor elements we should point out, though, especially if you look up or down. To begin, you have the seriously awesome natural light that comes from the skylights above. This is a great touch, since there are few combinations more wonderful to dine in than natural light and air conditioning.

These frosted glass “leaves” break up the monotony of the ceiling nicely and also soften the light a bit.

Lighting and Ceiling Decor

The fans here are one of the elements that brings “Polynesia” to this restaurant, and they keep the air circulating to make for a more comfortable space. Patterns on the amber light shades are reminiscent of Polynesian art as well.

Ceiling and Lighting

Carpeting includes vibrant colors that remind you of a tropical setting. Be sure to look closely at those flowers — you just might discover a little surprise!

Be Sure to Pay Attention -- A Hidden Mickey in the Carpet

If you’re looking for a [Read more…]

Guest Review: Kona Café Dinner at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Let’s travel to Disney’s Polynesian Resort for dinner at the Kona Café with guest author Katie Roth. We love the flavors from the south seas at this Walt Disney World restaurant!

I’m embarrassed to admit that I have stayed at the Polynesian multiple times and have never eaten at Kona Café! Until now, I always admired its colorful decorations and festive atmosphere from afar on my way to the monorail.

After eating here, we are THRILLED that we made the decision to try it. I’m pretty sure this restaurant is going to be a staple for our trips now.

Kona Cafe Sign.

Atmosphere

Kona Café is located on the upper terrace of the Great Ceremonial House at the Polynesian resort. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to miss. The colors are vibrant and the decibel level is pretty high compared to other restaurants. (It didn’t seem as loud once we were inside the restaurant though; the sound from the lobby probably amplifies noise coming from the restaurant to any passerby.)

Kona Cafe Dining Room.

Once inside the restaurant, it’s even brighter and cheerier! Everything screams tropics here, from the carpets (see below) to the adorned ceilings. (Editor’s Note: Check out the Hidden Mickey in the carpet!)

Tropical Carpet with HIdden Mickey!

Eats

Once our waitress took our order, we were treated to Kona Café’s complimentary [Read more…]

News! Changes to Disney World Tables in Wonderland Dining Discounts for 2014

We’ve got some news about one of Disney World’s popular dining discounts!

Tables in Wonderland, Walt Disney World’s fee-based dining discount program offered to Florida residents, Annual Passholders, and Disney Vacation Club members, is a great way to save money if you are a frequent diner at Walt Disney World.

The program offers 20% savings on food and beverages, including alcoholic beverages, at more than 100 Walt Disney World restaurants.

Today, we’re getting news of an update to restaurants that will either stop offering the Tables in Wonderland discount in the near future, or will be subject to more blackout dates when using the card.

Victoria and Albert’s to Discontinue Offering Tables in Wonderland Discount

According to the Tables in Wonderland website, Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa will continue to honor the Tables in Wonderland discount through July 14, 2014. However, as of August 1, 2014, the ultra-luxurious dining spot will no longer accept the Tables in Wonderland card.

Victoria and Albert's Main Dining Room

Currently, Tables in Wonderland members may still [Read more…]

News! Update on Disney’s New Rapid Fill Refillable Mug

According to sources, Disney World will soon be bringing the new Disney Rapid Fill Refillable Mug program to Disney resort hotels.

Tested at All-Star Sports Resort a while back, and much like the process currently in use at Disney’s Water Parks, the new system would use an RFID bar code on each mug to give Disney guests access to refills for a pre-purchased period of time. The mug will then deactivate itself at the end of the purchased time frame.

But as of today, it’s looking more and more like the rumors may be true. Although at this time the Rapid Fill Refillable Program has not been confirmed by Disney, we have news today that the fountain machines at some beverage refilling stations at Walt Disney World resorts have been replaced with new machines that resemble those in a demo video by the company ValidFill.

The first set of photos are from the Beach Club Marketplace, where the machines were installed earlier this week.

Newly Installed Beverage Refill Station at Beach Club Marketplace

Newly Installed Beverage Refill Station at Beach Club Marketplace

In this photo, you can see the small screen that provides the customer detailed information about their refill as it dispenses, as well as the trays below the fountain taps that reads the cup’s sensor.

New Beach Club Marketplace Refill Station -- Up Close

New Beach Club Marketplace Refill Station — Up Close

The same set up is in place at All-Star Music Resort’s beverage refill station. The screens here are [Read more…]