Review: Epcot Food and Wine Festival Party for the Senses

So this is pretty exciting — I finally got to attend a Party for the Senses at this year’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

For those who aren’t sure what I’m talking about (I know — “Party for the Senses” can sound a bit odd!), the Party for the Senses is held most Saturdays during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival each year. This exclusive event impresses the taste buds, of course, but it also aims to awaken all of your senses. During this 2 1/2 hour extravaganza, food and beverages flow freely as awe-inspiring entertainment is performed by Cirque du Soleil, La Nouba.

Party for the Senses at World Showplace Pavilion in Epcot (Photo copyright Disney)

There are two more parties being offered this year — November 5, and November 12 — for $145 per ticket (plus you’ll need Epcot park admission). Note that the Wine View Lounge upgrade, which includes private tables ($260) is sold out. Reservations can be made at 407-WDW-FEST or at

Interestingly, the artfully prepared menus (including chefs and vinters) change, so your party may not have the same offerings as the one that we attended.

Now that we have the specs out of the way, let’s get into the meat of the night!


We attended the Party for the Senses during the “Deluge of 2011,” as I like to call it. That’s right; we got all gussied up and sloshed over to Epcot on October 8th. When we arrived at the World Showplace [Read more…]

New Credit Card Guarantee Requirements and Technology Affect Disney Dining Reservations

Chef Mickey's Cracking Down on Skipping Reservations

UPDATE: See bottom of post for some FAQs and answers via a Disney Dining Phone representative.

In the past several weeks, Disney has instituted a few new technologies and requirements to better regulate the Disney World Dining Reservations Systems. These are largely being put into place to deter the ever-increasing practices of double-booking dining reservations, or simply skipping reservations without canceling them.

Double-booking and skipping reservations in restaurants that fill up six months in advance means that a large percentage of dining reservations are not being used, which, in turn, means that fewer guests are able to dine at these locations, and less money is made in each restaurant.

To improve this process, Disney has (or will be) instituting three new practices:

  • Mandatory Credit Card Guarantees on Signature and Character Dining Location Reservations
  • Reservation Reminder Emails
  • Disallowing Double-Bookings

Credit Card Guarantees Required for Signature and Character Dining Locations Starting October 26th

In order to deter skipped reservations at Disney’s most expensive and popular properties, Disney will begin requiring credit card guarantees on many restaurants beginning October 26th, 2011.

What does this mean for us as guests? Basically, you’ll be required to give a valid credit card number in order to make your reservation for these popular dining spots. No money will be charged to your card at the time of booking (unless the location is a pre-pay meal). However, should you neglect to cancel a credit card guarantee reservation within the allotted timeline (usually 24 hours prior to the meal), a $10 surcharge — per person — will be charged to the card.

California Grill Cancellation Policy Warning

Starting October 26, 2011, the following restaurants will require the credit card guarantee: [Read more…]

Disney Fall Food Pins Preview: Food & Wine, Gingerbread Houses, and More

We’re always happy to see new food pins! Thanks to Cody Smith at Global Disney Pinvestigation for sharing this great preview with us from the Florida Project Pin Previews!

This first group of pins was introduced at the 2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival:

Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald with menus. $44.95

Food and Wine Pins

Food and Wine pins

Disney Parks will offer these pins as online exclusive merchandise. Check out the Disney characters eating favorite Disney food for a fun mini-set!

Disney Parks food pins

Characters put the finishing touches on holiday Gingerbread decorations and chocolate displays for the Disney Cruise Line ships (Magic, Wonder, Dream), Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Boardwalk! Can’t wait to see these in just a couple of [Read more…]

Best Disney World Buffalo Wings

The Buffalo Bills are currently 2 and 0 right now — undefeated — and this is something we Bills fans do not take lightly. So I thought I’d celebrate (with the Bills, you never know when your next chance to celebrate might come…months?…years?…) by showcasing my top two picks for Buffalo Wings in Walt Disney World!

This post has been a long time coming, because for a while there I hadn’t really seen any Buffalo Wings in Disney World. Slowly but surely, I’ve visited enough places to put together my list of top picks, but I’m eager to hear your suggestions in the comments. (The more suggestions you make, the more Buffalo Wings I get to try!!!)

Also, as a disclaimer, I live in Texas now, so I only get Wing City Grille and Anchor Bar wings about twice a year — go easy on me if my palate isn’t as honed as it once was! ;-)

Where to Find the Best Wings in Walt Disney World

#1: House of Blues

Over in Downtown Disney, House of Blues serves their Buffalo Wing appetizer with a bleu cheese slaw.

The wings are crispy and hot with a strong, spicy flavor. On my scale of mild to hot, I’d definitely put these at mild-medium, but that also means that the heat isn’t charring your mouth to the point that you’re unable to taste the food anymore.

House of Blues Chicken Wings

House of Blues wings have a really great Buffalo Wing flavor, and they don’t try to do anything fancy with them so all you get is good old wings. Personally, I could use a little more sauce with them, but I’m also the person who [Read more…]

Top 10 Disney World Bars and Lounges

South African Wine at Jiko

When it comes to a happy hour beverage, a night out with your spouse or some friends, or…let’s face it…a margarita at the stroke of noon…there are a few spots in Disney World that get the job done better than others! FYI — The Disney Food Blog offers a full list of bars and lounges — complete with descriptions of each place — in our DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining e-Book.

Now, let’s take a tour of our Top Ten Disney World bars and lounges — these are the places that really make us want to get up and dance. ;-) Don’t forget to check out our list of Honorable Mentions at the end! Many of these spots offer the standard Disney Parks bar and lounge menu should you be interested.

Top Ten WDW Bars and Lounges

Top Ten Walt Disney World Bars and Lounges

1. La Cava del Tequila

Nestled in the twilit atmosphere of the Mexican pavilion in Epcot, La Cava del Tequila is popular with tequila and margarita fans. Try the Avocado Margarita while perusing the limited appetizer menu. See our margarita reviews here and a pic of the tequila flight here!

Due to its cozy and dark location, La Cava makes a great place to escape the heat and bright sunshine while touring World Showcase. However, it gets crowded quickly, so to ensure that you get a table, head over to La Cava at opening time — noon!

La Cava Bar

2. Jellyrolls

While Jellyrolls isn’t for everyone, if you love music from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, and especially if you love dueling piano improv, it’s going to fit the bill for you!

An entertainment spot on Disney’s Boardwalk bringing you non-stop dueling pianos, the bar at Jellyrolls plays second fiddle to [Read more…]

Guest Review: Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Thanks to reader Sarah McGovern for this review of lunch at the Captain’s Grille in Disney’s Yacht Club Resort!

On the second day of the Destination D event, I wanted to get away from the crowds and have a nice quiet lunch with my husband Barry. I’ve heard many positive things about Captain’s Grille and how quiet it can be, so we took a drive over to the Yacht Club.

Atmosphere and Eats

We were seated right away without a reservation, as the restaurant was quiet with only about a third of the tables filled.

We reviewed our menus, which consisted of a combination of nautical fare such as crab cakes, clam chowder, and a lobster roll, and the typical Walt Disney World lunch selections of salads, burgers, and sandwiches. “The Captain’s Burger” sounded interesting, consisting of the Angus Chuck Burger topped with Lump Crab meat and Choron Sauce, which is a variation of Bearnaise sauce with tomato puree. But this seemed a bit heavy for lunch to the both of us.

We ordered the Green Goddess Salad and the New England Clam Chowder for appetizers; and I chose the Tomato & Mozzarella Sandwich, while Barry ordered the Angus Chuck Burger, sans crab and choron.

Interestingly, when Barry asked [Read more…]

Guest Review: Coronado Springs Resort’s Pepper Market

Bill Iadonisi returns with a colorful and impressive review of the Pepper Market at the Coronado Springs Resort. Take it away, Bill!

When guests vacation to Walt Disney World, they are looking forward to going on their favorite attractions, seeing World-Class shows and entertainment, and of course meeting the Disney Characters. A trip to Disney is an exciting adventure for all. But for many, the rides and attractions are just the tip of the iceberg.

I know that for myself, dining at Disney is a whole world of fun! With menu options from around the world and a huge diversity of food choices, the dining scene is a theme park unto itself.


While most guests hanker to dine in the parks, the resort venues are just as impressive. We know the classic restaurants such as Citricos, the California Grill and Jiko, but the resorts are also home to some of Walt Disney World’s “sleeper” restaurants.

These eateries are hidden gems with mostly low crowds, fantastic menus and easy access. Many times when the parks are booked, you can usually walk right in or have just a short wait before dining. Some of my favorites are the Kona Café and the Captain’s Grille. And here we will review; Coronado Springs Resort’s Pepper Market restaurant.

Atmosphere and Ordering Process

Pepper Market is an open food court located in the main building area of Coronado Springs Resort, called “El Centro.” It is a counter-service restaurant, although your drinks are brought to the table by a server.

But what makes this eatery special is its extensive menu and expansive dining area. Even during crowded times, you can usually find a table. It is themed after a south of the border-feel marketplace. Huge and airy, it is also very colorful, bright and gives the feeling of space versus claustrophobia — something we love in Disney restaurants.

Dining Area

As you make your way to the entrance, (next to Coronado’s table-service restaurant, the Maya Grill) you walk on terracotta tiles and past wrought iron fences adorned with green plants. Everything is vibrant and very colorful. It puts a smile on your face before you are even seated. At the entrance is a [Read more…]

Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend Step-by-Step Guide

Let us help you gear up for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend being held September 30 – October 1, 2011! Whether you are racing in the 5K or the half marathon, or cheering on a participant, this weekend will also offer time to dine on international foods at the 2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Be sure to check out our Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend pages for all the info you need!

Calendar of Events

Friday, September 30

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Expo
Jostens Center at ESPN Wide World of Sports 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

The Expo is a two-day event filled with fun, fitness and food! This is where runners will register for the weekend events, pick up numbers and goody bags, and attend any seminars or events having to do with the races.

Pre-Race: Race waiver forms are ready to be downloaded and printed. Fill out the waiver and bring it with you to the Expo so you can receive your race number. Go ahead and take care of it out now! Pack the waiver with your other race essentials. Download here.

Now is a good time to review your Half Marathon, Half Marathon Relay, Family 5K, and Disney Kids’ Final Race Instructions. Unable to attend Packet Pick-Up? See Absentee instructions.

Will you wear a costume? Costumes are permitted in the Half Marathon. No face masks and costumes must not “be questionable or offensive” to others.

Transportation: Buses from Host Resorts will leave every 20 minutes. Look for runDisney logo in the front window of bus. Buses will run from one half hour prior to Expo opening until one half hour after Expo closing.

Step 1: Pick up your race packet at the HP Field House, then proceed to the Jostens Center for your t-shirt and goody bag.

Note: Your race packet should contain Half Marathon Bib Number with B-tag attached, Bag Check Sticker, Finish Line Party Guide, Finish Line Party Wristband, $10 Disney Gift Card, Pre-purchased commemorative pin if applicable.

Step 2: Pick up pre-purchased items. You will need to show your ID to pick up your items including commemorative Ears.

Step 3: Purchase any tickets needed for [Read more…]

Review: Crew’s Cup Lounge in Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Another spot that I consider to be a hidden gem in Disney World is this little wooden bar and lounge that offers a relaxed atmosphere, some decent food and drink, and great service. Crew’s Cup Lounge is located next to Yachtsman Steakhouse in Disney’s Yacht Club Resort — within walking distance of Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Crews Cup is located next to Yachtsman Steakhouse in the Yacht Club Resort

The tiny little lounge packs a big punch when it comes to accessibility, consistency, and relaxation.


Paneled from floor to ceiling with wood and sporting some very cool light-up rowers “stenciled” across the walls in brass, Crew’s Cup’s atmosphere is clear, but not overwhelming. Complimenting the craftsman-like decor of the Yachtsman Steakhouse next door, this location is cozy and comfortable.

Crew's Cup Booths to the Left and Tables to the Right

Crews Cup Seating

Crew’s Cup is rarely busy and always offers guests a great spot to kick back, have a drink or a light meal, watch the game, or just visit with friends. In fact, when I’m spending a lot of time in Epcot, I’ve found myself relying more and more on the Crew’s Cup Lounge for a quick lunch, a place to [Read more…]

How to Order a Cake at Walt Disney World

Editor’s Note: Information updated as of August 2012.

How to order a cake depends on what kind of cake you want and where you want to have it.

Podium cake with custom inscription at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney Restaurant Podium Cakes

If you’re OK with a simple supermarket-style cake in vanilla or chocolate, you can get one just by asking at the podium when you check in for your reservation at any Disney restaurant except Victoria & Albert’s. These 6-inch cakes serve 5 and cost $21 plus tax.

Basic Custom Cakes

With 48 hours’ notice, most restaurants also offer basic custom cakes in larger sizes and a limited range of flavors with basic decorations. If an 8-inch cake is offered, it will be available in chocolate or vanilla and cost $32–$35 (serves 8). Ordering a 10-inch cake ($45, serves 16) will get you more flavor choices—usually vanilla, chocolate or marble cake filled with vanilla buttercream, chocolate buttercream, white chocolate mousse, dark chocolate mousse, strawberry mousse, or raspberry mousse and covered in vanilla or chocolate buttercream or whipped cream. Sheet cakes are available in 1/4 ($55, serves 25), 1/2 ($80, serves 50) and full ($120, serves 100) sizes. The price of adding a screen-printed image to a cake varies by location and ranges from as little as $2 to as much as $35—and at some places it’s free!

Mickey Mouse cake at BoardWalk Bakery

Most restaurants also offer a Mickey Mouse cake in the shape of his head bearing a screen print of his face for $48. It serves 10–12 people, is available in white or chocolate cake with chocolate filling, and is covered in chocolate ganache. Although the cake cannot be customized, you can have a message written on the serving plate. At restaurants serviced by the Contemporary Resort Bakery, the Mickey Mouse cake may be covered in piped buttercream frosting rather than a coating of chocolate ganache.

CLICK HERE for photos of basic custom cake styles.

Fancy Fondant-Covered Cakes & Mini Cakes

If you’re looking for an elaborate fondant-covered cake, a mini cake, or cakes in nonstandard flavors, only the bakeries at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the Contemporary Resort, BoardWalk Inn, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the Yacht & Beach Club offer these, and only BoardWalk Bakery will let you pick up a cake. Note: The bakery at Animal Kingdom Lodge will not make mini cakes or fancy fondant cakes smaller than 10 inches.

Custom cake at the Contemporary Resort

However, if you’re staying or dining at the Polynesian Resort, you can get a fancy cake by calling Private Dining at the Grand Floridian. For fancy cakes at the Wilderness Lodge, and Fort Wilderness, call Private Dining at the Contemporary. For fancy cakes at the Magic Kingdom, call Cake Hotline at 407-827-2253 and choose option #4; or email For fancy cakes at Epcot’s Coral Reef, Garden Grill or Le Cellier, call Private Dining at the Yacht & Beach Club. Fancy cakes are also available at Caribbean Beach, Old Key West, Pop Century, and Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, which are serviced by BoardWalk Bakery, and at Art of Animation, which is serviced bythe Yacht & Beach Club. For these resorts, call the Cake Hotline and follow the prompts for your resort to place your order. You can pick up your cake at the restaurant or food court; many resorts will even deliver it to your room. Complete details on the cake choices and prices at each park and resort can be found on the Disney Cake Options By Location page.

To order, call Walt Disney World’s Cake-Ordering Hotline at 407-827-2253.

At this time, Disney has no email address you can write to with a cake inquiry, and there is no Disney-run web site showing cake options and prices. When ordering a fancy custom cake, you may run into difficulty with Private Dining cast members who are not aware of the bakery’s capabilities. Politely ask to speak to the pastry chef directly so that you can get the official word on cake options.

Need more cake info or details on flavors and embellishments available? Visit our Disney Cake FAQ page that Carrie put together for us!

Carrie Hayward is the author of PassPorter’s Disney Weddings & Honeymoons (, a guidebook and bridal organizer for weddings and honeymoons at Walt Disney World and on the Disney Cruise Line. Follow her adventures in Disney dining at and @lurkyloo on Twitter.