Tips from the DFB Guide: Fun, Free Holiday Activities in Walt Disney World

It’s here — we are officially 181 days out from Christmas!! Woohoo! Have you started your shopping yet?

180 Days Sale

Ha — me neither. But I do know that if I have any hope of scoring advance dining reservations for the uber busy holiday season at Walt Disney World, I need to be ready to book as soon as those lines open up tomorrow.

But how do I fit everything in that I want to do? By planning ahead, of course. And we want to help you do the same.

And that’s why we write the DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays. Because I want your holiday visit to the ‘World to be nothing less than spectacular.

And when you pre-order the 2015 DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays right now, you’ll receive the 2014 edition immediately, for free.

Don’t forget — you have three ways to save on the DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays Guide. Check our our 180 Days ‘Til Christmas Sale to learn more!

But hurry — our sale on this popular guide ends tomorrow at midnight!

Today, let’s explore

[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…]

Review: Porterhouse for Two at Yachtsman Steakhouse in Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Today, we have a real treat for you. It’s time to highlight a special dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse.

This signature dining spot, located at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, offers up a full array of classic steakhouse fare. But you’ll also find innovative dishes with an emphasis on using seasonal ingredients.

While we often find our favorites still on the menu during a visit, we can always count on some surprises. We had the pleasure of dining there with some friends on a recent trip, and I just had to share with you a glimpse of our special meal.

32 Ounce Porterhouse for Two at Yachtsman Steakhouse

I always enjoy a visit to Yachtsman Steakhouse. (Check out this dinner review of a full meal we enjoyed here recently.) While the atmosphere isn’t particularly inspired, we’ve had some truly amazing meals here!

A quick look at the menu will show you what I mean about the combination of steakhouse-classics-meets-seasonally-inspired fare. And notice the emphasis on Charcuterie — something we’re seeing in other signature restaurants like California Grill as well.

Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Menu — Click to Enlarge

But even though it’s tough to make a choice from all of those steaks, we were after just one thing: the 32 Ounce Porterhouse for Two.

After we placed our order, we were surprised with an Amuse Bouche — this Savory Mickey Waffle! This had to be just about the most adorable started to a meal, ever. The Sweet Potato Waffle was delicious, and I loved all of the little touches on the plate.

An Amuse Bouche Featuring a Savory Mickey Waffle

An Amuse Bouche Featuring a Savory Mickey Waffle

Soon, however, we were ready to dig into the main course — that beautiful Porterhouse! It’s presented tableside already cut into pieces. I thought this was a great touch, and made sharing a much neater situation.

You can see that the meat was cooked to the medium rare temperature that we requested. In fact, it was a little on the rare side. The dry-aging process lends complexity and depth to the flavor and makes the meat very tender.

The steak comes with plenty more to share as well, including the Trio of Classic Steakhouse Sides: creamed spinach, mushrooms, and onions.

32 Ounce Porterhouse for Two with Trio of Steakhouse Sides

32 Ounce Porterhouse for Two with Trio of Classic Steakhouse Sides

And I couldn’t help but order the killer [Read more…]

Review: Breakfast at Captain’s Grille in Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Today, we’re getting a hearty start to our day with breakfast at Captain’s Grille!

I’ve long considered Captain’s Grille to be a hidden gem at Walt Disney World. Located at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, this place isn’t much to look at (pretty boring, in fact), but they really do have some great food and there always seems to be a table available.

I love heading here for a quiet, delicious lunch, or for a full breakfast spread. Similar to The Wave…of American Flavors at the Contemporary, at breakfast you can choose from the buffet or order from the a la carte menu.

Atmosphere

The decor of Captain’s Grille is consistent with the rest of the Yacht Club Resort. You won’t find anything outlandish in this corner of Disney, just lots of blond wood and boaty details — stripes, stars, compass-type stuff, anchors…you know the deal.

Captain's Grille Seating

Captain’s Grille Seating

The space is open with lots of light from overhead chandeliers and recessed light above as well as windows onto the lobby and grounds. The whole effect gives the room an airy feel. Seating is comprised of large padded chairs and booths. It’s fairly typical to find a sparsely populated dining room, so I’ve always considered the space to be roomy and comfortable.

Seating

The Main Seating Area

In the main seating area around the ceiling you’ll spy these porthole-type windows, which give you the feeling that you’re enjoying your meal below deck.

Porthole Window Detail

Porthole Window Detail

Shadow boxes feature interesting items, like this grouping of vintage keys.

Decor

Decor

While there aren’t tons of decorative details here, what you will find is pretty interesting. The three-dimensional sailing scenes are some of my favorite touches, and are a whimsical way to bring the theme into focus.

My Favorite One!

A Ship Sailing the Ocean Blue

Dioramas

Ocean Scenes

Now that we’ve had a look around, let’s explore the breakfast options.

Eats

Starting your day off with a [Read more…]

2014 Gingerbread House Displays at Walt Disney World

Once again, visions of gingerbread houses will become reality at select Walt Disney World resort hotels!

Gingerbread Mickey Cookie

Gingerbread Mickey Cookie

The holiday season is underway as Mickey and his elves (and some talented chefs!) get busy filling the resorts and parks with seasonal decor, merchandise, and treats. Plan to stop by the resorts to see the displays, purchase a pin, and/or meet one of the fabulous chefs!

Contemporary Resort

And how cool is it that the Contemporary’s NEW gingerbread display showcases characters from Disney’s popular film, “Frozen” in the artistic style of Disney Legend Mary Blair! We reported on all the details last week. Check out all the details (including festive treats!!) on the Frozen Gingerbread Display here.

Frozen Gingerbread Display

Frozen Gingerbread Display

Grand Floridian Resort

The impressive gingerbread house churns out baked goods made from a classic Austrian recipe. Holiday treats for sale include cookies, shingles,ornaments, and houses — all made from gingerbread. Other freshly made items include Stollen Bread, chocolate peppermint bark, and truffles. Gingerbread decorating tips are given in free demonstrations! Opening date: November 23, 2014.

Life-size!

After 400 hours of baking, the chefs spent 160 hours decorating the house. This unique 80 square feet of retail space is 16 feet high by 17 feet wide and constructed with 1,000 board feet of trim, 60 sheets of plywood, 40 window panes, 100 square feet of display, and 10,000 pieces of gingerbread used.

Looking Down on the Grand Floridian Gingerbread House

Looking Down on the Grand Floridian Gingerbread House

The immense amount of gingerbread was made with 700 lbs. of chocolate, 1,050 lbs. honey, 600 lbs. powdered sugar, 35 lbs. spices, 800 lbs. flour, 140 pints egg whites. and 180 lbs. apricot glaze. Wow!

BoardWalk Inn

Inside the gorgeous lobby of the BoardWalk Inn, the Sweet Treats gingerbread display conjures visions of a Jersey Shore concession stand. We love the whimsical decor!

Gingerbread Shingle from Disney's BoardWalk

Gingerbread Shingle from Disney’s BoardWalk

Beach Club

Once again, a life-size carousel will be the centerpiece of the Beach Club’s lobby. Look for the seven Hidden Mickeys! Take home treats including small gingerbread kits will be available for purchase at the Beach Club Marketplace. Watch for inspiring demonstrations by pastry chefs. Opening date: November 25, 2014.

Carousel Horse at Disney's Beach Club

Carousel Horse at Disney’s Beach Club

Think your holiday baking list is long? It took [Read more…]

DFB Reader Questions Answered: Best Restaurants to Celebrate a Grown-Up Birthday at Walt Disney World

Today, we’re pulling another great question out the Disney Food Blog mailbag. You guys ask some great ones, and lots of times, we’ll get several emails and inquiries about the same subject.

Spontaneous Birthday Treat at Citricos

Spontaneous Birthday Treat at Citricos

Today, we’re going to delve into the wonderful world of birthday celebrations for grown-ups!

Celebrating Grown Up Birthdays in Walt Disney World

Our DFB reader asks:

We will be vacationing at WDW in May. My 25-year old son will have a birthday while we are there. We would like to have a special meal to celebrate, something fun but also really good!

I love this question! Disney brands itself a great place for all kinds of celebrations. And when it comes to birthdays, why should kiddos have all the fun?

When planning a special meal to celebrate a birthday at Walt Disney World, the most basic advice is probably a great starting point: what does the birthday boy or girl enjoy?

Birthday Dessert

Birthday Dessert

Does he like fine dining, or would he prefer a great night out at a sports bar? Does she like a quiet, elegant setting, or a spot with intricate themeing? Or are they a kid at heart who can Celebrate Mickey with the best of them?

Fantastic ideas abound for fun birthday celebrations at Disney World, but let’s go with my three favorite ideas. At the very least, it might lead to some good brainstorming when it comes time to plan your own special dinner party!

Signature Dining

For the Disney fan who enjoys a fine dining experience, there would be no other place to celebrate a birthday than where these two things meet — Disney’s signature dining restaurants.

If you’re looking for the pinnacle of fine dining, consider booking a table at Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Victoria and Albert's Main Dining Room

Victoria and Albert’s Main Dining Room

The ultimate in Disney fine dining, this relaxed, refined restaurant has won countless awards for its upscale take on modern American fare and its stellar wine menu. To make it an even more special experience, book the Chef’s Table!

Another great option is California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The restaurant sits atop the hotel, and boasts panoramic views. It’s a great spot for viewing Wishes, Magic Kingdom’s fireworks spectacular!

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli is as Good as Ever

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli at California Grill

Food here is always fresh and inventive, celebrating the farm to table movement and the Asian fusion style that placed California on the culinary map.

For something a little off the beaten path but no less delicious, check out Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Jiko at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

In a relaxing atmosphere that mimics the [Read more…]

Review: The Crew’s Cup Lounge at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

We are stopping into The Crew’s Cup Lounge for a light bite!

Located in Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, The Crew’s Cup Lounge is a wonderful little spot to take a breather and beat the heat for a bit. In fact, if you’re ever looking for me and I’m not wandering the parks with my camera, I’ll most likely be in a Disney resort lounge somewhere hiding in the blessed coolness.

This spot has a surprisingly awesome menu (dinner’s pretty darn fancy, even), a great staff, and a relaxed atmosphere. I headed in for lunch on a recent trip after arriving from the airport famished!

 

Atmosphere

The Crew’s Cup Lounge is tucked into the hallway between Disney’s Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts. It’s easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention.

Crew's Cup Lounge Sign

Crew’s Cup Lounge Sign

See what I mean? There’s no flash here, folks. It almost feels like a private club. And that definitely enhances the relaxing atmosphere.

Entrance

Entrance

Step inside and you’re surrounded by the same decor you see elsewhere in the resort — lots of light-stained wood everywhere, from floor to ceiling.

You’ll find comfortable seating throughout the fairly small space. The wooden chairs are generous and cushioned, making them perfect for lingering.

More Seating

More Seating

The bar is tucked into one corner of the room.

Bar Seating

Bar Seating

Since there’s no outside light here, surroundings are a bit more dim than they are in lobby area; but it’s by no means dark. You’ll have no trouble reading your menus. :-)

But while you’re looking up at the lights, check out the brass surround depicting — what else? — rowing. The rowers are sculling along a smooth river, their perfect reflections mirrored in the water below. Don’t you love the detail? Well, we aren’t finished yet!

Lighting and Decor Detail

Lighting and Decor Detail

Check out the racing shell suspended from the ceiling! That big “window” is a view of the Yachtsman Steakhouse meat cutting room; the Crew’s Cup is often a waiting area for those awaiting their table at the restaurant.

Atmosphere

A Comfortable Place to Relax

Rain slickers hang from [Read more…]

New Entrees Debut at Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Carnivores — we’ve got some news to sink your teeth into from Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort in Walt Disney World.

Within the last few months, New Dry Age steaks debuted at Yachtsman Steakhouse and have already become quite popular at this signature restaurant.

First up: The Porterhouse for two is 32 ounces of steak! It boasts a 21 day dry age.

Served with Gruyere Potato Gratin and a Trio of Classic Steakhouse sides, this entree is sure to curb your hunger! Check out this picture sent in by a DFB Reader!

Porterhouse for Two!

Porterhouse for Two!

Chef Daniel Sicilia at Yachtsman Steakhouse also introduced a [Read more…]

Walt Disney World Steak Gallery

It’s time for another fun addition to our Disney Food Galleries!

disney world steak gallery

We just love to share photos of all of our favorite foods — and collect them into galleries for easy viewing! Whether your craving is for popcorn, ice cream, or a cupcake, there’s a gallery for you!

And today, we’re introducing a brand new gallery for all of you red meat lovers out there! Yep, we’ve gathered a whole buncha steaks from around Disney World to help you make your choices on your next visit.

Remember, some of these may drop off menus from time to time or have side dishes or preparation changed, but hopefully this will give you a good overview of what’s available! Here we go!

Yachtsman Steakhouse

Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club is one of my top picks when it comes to steak at Walt Disney World. After all, they decorate with meat — the first thing you pass en route to your seat is the Steak Trimming Room!

Chefs here pride themselves not only on the very best cuts of meat, but appetizers, side dishes, and desserts inspired by market fresh ingredients. Yachtsman combines the very best of seasonal flavors with the traditional steak experience.

My absolute favorite pick at Yachtsman is the 16-ounce Boneless Ribeye. It is always a melt-in-your-mouth choice.

Ribeye with Herb Fries at Yachtsman Steakhouse

Ribeye with Herb Fries at Yachtsman Steakhouse

But we are also big fans of the 12-ounce Prime New York Strip Steak, served here with a rich potato gratin stack.

Strip Steak

12-ounce Prime New York Strip Steak

Shula’s

Shula’s at Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin is the kind of place that you think of when you envision an upscale steakhouse. As your eyes adjust to the dim lighting and you check out the menu — printed on a football! — you’ll settle into the refined elegance of your surroundings.

When I have the chance to dine here, I almost always go for my favorite, the 22-ounce Cowboy Ribeye (are you sensing a theme?). The Bone-in Steak has been excellent on every visit. The flavor is unbelievable!

Cowboy Ribeye

22-ounce Cowboy Ribeye

Looking for a lighter approach to soothe your carnivore cravings? We’ve also enjoyed the Steak Mary Anne. Delicate by steakhouse standards, the 5-ounce medallions are served with a simple demi glace in this case. It’s the perfect plate for the guest who prefers all the flavor of prime, aged beef in a smaller serving.

Steak Mary Anne

Steak Mary Anne

Flying Fish

If you’re a landlubber like me, then finding a great steak at a restaurant known for fabulous seafood is a dream come true. But it’s not impossible if you’re dining at Flying Fish Cafe.

When I visit, I always order the Char-Crusted Black Angus New York Strip. The creamy Sauce Foyot is such a great accent — and they’re never chintzy with it!

Char Crusted Black Angus New York Strip

Char-Crusted Black Angus New York Strip

Can’t decide between surf and turf? You don’t have to! Try the two house specialities side by side with the Entree Duo, which features the Char-Crusted Angus New York Strip Steak and the restaurant’s most famous fish dish, the Potato-wrapped Red Snapper.

Entree Duo of Red Snapper and Strip Steak

Entree Duo of Red Snapper and Strip Steak

Jiko

Jiko offers some of the most interesting food at Walt Disney World.

And while I enjoy the fusion of African, Indian, and Meditteranean flavors when it comes to appetizers and desserts, I rarely deviate from my favorite entree: the Oak-Grilled Filet.

Oak Grilled Filet with Mac and Cheese

Oak-Grilled Filet with Mac and Cheese

And even when their delicious Mac and Cheese isn’t featured as the dish’s side, you can usually score it as a special request (and I totally recommend that you do). :-)

Liberty Inn

In the mood for steak with no Advance Dining Reservation? Then head to Epcot’s Liberty Inn. Their New York Strip Steak, served with Red Wine Butter, Roasted Potatoes, and Steamed Broccoli, is surprisingly good.

New York Strip Steak Meal

New York Strip Steak Meal

Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant

Even though most of my favorite steaks at Disney World are featured at signature restaurants, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good option at moderately priced restaurants, too, like Sci-Fi Dine-In.

Recently, I was pleasantly surprised by [Read more…]

The Worst Ketchup in All of Walt Disney World

Ketchup. I personally love the stuff. I dip fries into it. It goes onto my burgers and hot dogs. I’ve been known to put it on steak. All incarnations of chicken — when not slathered in Buffalo wing sauce — get ketchupped.

But recently, I requested ketchup at Crew’s Cup Lounge in Disney World’s Yacht Club Resort when having a little lunch there. And I met with the Worst. Ketchup. In. Disney World.

If I’ve piqued your interest, here’s a pic of the offending condiment: Dickinson’s Ketchup. In one of those teeny tiny room service jars, no less. (Apparently the Crew’s Cup kitchen is the same one that manages room service. Sigh. Double sigh.)

Dickinson's Ketchup in a Jar

Dickinson’s Ketchup in a Jar

As I see it, there are three major problems here. Shall we?

Problem #1: getting the ketchup out. Um…it’s impossible. There’s ketchup in there, all right, but it’s uber thick and pretty much just stays in there no matter how long you tip the thing upside down. So you have to get your knife involved in scraping the stuff out, which not only provides a nails-on-a-chalkboard (or, knife-on-glass, as it may be) irritation, but also dirties your knife.

Problem #2: the taste. I know that most ketchup starts with concentrated tomatoes — like tomato paste, I’m thinking — but this seems, well, entirely too tomato-y to me. It’s, like, mega-tomato. There is such a thing as too much tomato.

Dickinson's Ketchup Ingredients -- Click to Enlarge

Dickinson’s Ketchup Ingredients — Click to Enlarge

But THEN there’s Problem #3: the texture.

Once you wrestle it out of the jar — and really, you should have a tiny rubber spatula for this feat — you see that it really is the consistency of tomato paste. You could probably make a little ketchup sculpture out of it. And that’s just wrong.

Out of the Jar

Out of the Jar

So I have made a mental note to myself: when staying at Walt Disney World, I’ll squirrel away a packet or two (or 6) of good, old fashioned Heinz if and when I see them. It may be tough, what with all those ketchup dispensers at condiment bars. But I’m gonna try.

Gloppy ketchup. Gross. Sorry Dickinson Family.

Are you opinionated when it comes to condiments? Tell us about your most — and least — favorite dips and toppings in Walt Disney World!