Our Favorite Magic Kingdom Restaurants

Magic Kingdom, how we love you. You are, for many of us, the source of our earliest Disney Memories. Heck, some of us remember when you were the ONLY Park. (Am I showing my age here?)

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

But even though you’ve been around the longest, we’re no less fond of you. In fact, coming back to ride old favorites or experience new attractions always feels a bit like coming home. [Read more…]

FULL Review: The New Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen in Disney World’s Adventureland

You may have seen our First Look… and now we are back for our full review of Magic Kingdom’s brand new Table Service eatery!

Welcome back to the Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen!

With the exception, perhaps, of the arrival of Trader’s Sam’s Grog Grotto in Disney World last March, no new restaurant has met with as much anticipation as the Skipper Canteen since the opening of Be Our Guest Restaurant in 2012. But while Be Our Guest debuted as part of the all-new Fantasyland expansion, the Skipper Canteen finds its home in Magic Kingdom’s classic Adventureland. This land is also home, of course, to the Jungle Cruise, the beloved attraction on which the Skipper Canteen is based.

We enjoyed our first meal at the Skipper Canteen on its first day of soft openings, but today the restaurant officially opens to all Magic Kingdom guests. So, what better time to get to know this spot a little more?

Jungle Skipper Canteen sign

Jungle Skipper Canteen sign

So, my fellow Jungle Cruise passengers, let’s step back in, shall we? [Read more…]

News: Disney World’s California Grill to Offer “Brunch at the Top” Starting February 2016

Great news if you’re a fan of California Grill, Sunday Brunch — or both!

Coming on the heels of the announcement that Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian would begin offering a Sunday brunch, now we are hearing that California Grill will do the same.

The popular signature restaurant, which sits atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, has been a dinner-only spot since opening in the 1990s. But as Disney World continues to expand hours in table service restaurants across property, it looks like California Grill will soon join the trend.

The experience promises to be a hybrid of sorts. If you’d like, you can choose to begin your meal with something to drink. Options include both mocktails and cocktails, or indulge in a trip to the Bloody Mary Bar.

Bloody Marys from the Bloody Mary Bar

Bloody Marys from the Bloody Mary Bar

Guests begin their meal with house made Breakfast Pastries and Breads. Assortments will include Caramel Apple Monkey Bread, Cranberry Pecan Scones, and Tillamook Cheddar Biscuits, accompanied by Jam made from scratch and Orange Blossom Honey Butter. [Read more…]

DFB Podcast Episode 26: Alternatives to Popular Disney Restaurants

We are back with episode 26 of the DFB Podcast! dining with kids at Disney World and Disneyland!

dfb podcast

What’s It About?
Last minute trip? Change in plans? Need to get a Disney trip on the books FAST? I’m all for it, but you may run into a little problem when it comes to booking beloved and popular Disney restaurants at the last minute.

We have a solution!

In this episode we discuss what options you have when you can’t get a reservation at the most popular Disney dining locations. Nothing available at Cinderella’s Royal Table? No reservations to be had at California Grill? Chef Mickey’s all booked up? No worries! We’ve got some awesome “second choice” restaurants (some of which are better than the “first choice” restaurants in our opinion!) that will be much easier to book for a last minute trip.

Listen right now at DFBPodcast.com, or subscribe via iTunes, RSS, or Stitcher!

snow white cinderella's royal table

[Read more…]

Guest Review: Breakfast at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Inside the mysterious Beast’s Castle, Be Our Guest Restaurant at Magic Kingdom continues to be an uber-popular reservation for Walt Disney World diners. Today, Beth Wesesky shares a guest review of the Croque Madame and other breakfast items.

I was deep in the throes of vacation planning for our upcoming trip to Walt Disney World; obsessively marking our itinerary on my calendar down to the minute (we all do that, right?!), when I received an email from My Disney Experience, requesting that we pre-order our meals for our breakfast Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) at Be Our Guest Restaurant (BOG). OK, so if you’re like me, you know how COOL it is to check out all of the options ahead of time and add just one more completed task to your plans, so of course, I jumped at the chance! That’s when I noticed something that I hadn’t seen before in all of my neurotic menu-checking and review reading – a NEW entrée option for breakfast!

The “Croque Madame” is described as an “Open-faced Ham Sandwich topped with a Fried Egg, Gruyere Cheese, and Béchamel served with Fresh Fruit and a selection of pastries”. It sounded wonderful, and I’m not even a big Swiss cheese fan! I told my hubby and son about the new option, and they BOTH chose it for their entrée. In my effort to be more “continental,” I chose the Assorted Cured Meats and Cheese for my entrée (how “European” of me!).

be our guest restaurant sign 2

Atmosphere

The morning of our 8:45AM ADR, which also happened to correspond with morning Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom (so no early entry for us…boo!), we piled on the Resort bus from Pop Century and headed to the Happiest Place on Earth! [Read more…]

News: Breakfast at Be Our Guest Restaurant is Permanent

Greetings, Monsieurs et Madames!

The invitation to be the guest of Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts for breakfast at Be Our Guest Restaurant has been extended. The initial test phase of the prix fixe, “fast, casual” meal at Be Our Guest Restaurant has ended and breakfast is now officially a permanent offering!

Of course, along with change comes… more change ;). This time in the form of a price increase: it will now cost $21.99 for adults to enjoy the prix fixe breakfast at Be Our Guest (the cost was $19.99 during the test period), and $13.99 for children ages 3-9 (previously $11.99).

Breakfast at Be Our Guest remains 1 Counter Service credit on the Disney Dining Plan.

Open-Face Bacon and Egg Sandwich for Breakfast at Be Our Guest

Open-Face Bacon and Egg Sandwich for Breakfast at Be Our Guest

The official word is that Advance Dining Reservations will open tomorrow, August 5th, via My Disney Experience or by calling (407) WDW-DINE for dates October 4 and extending through the typical 180-day window for reservations. But I’m just sayin’, this is what popped up on my computer today, so you may get lucky and be able to book today for that booking window: [Read more…]

Disney Dining Tips: What to Expect on Peak Booking Days

Are you excited to book your events for the  Epcot Food and Wine Festival?

OF COURSE you are!! You know who else is excited?

Buddy Valastro Demo at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Buddy Valastro Demo at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Lots and lots (and LOTS) of other people. ;)

Booking for Special Events and Demos and Seminars for the Festival will open to the general public on July 30th at 7 am this year, and the popularity of these events makes that date into something we call a Peak Booking Day — a day when you never quite know what to expect, because the phone lines and online booking engines are often jammed with folks trying to nab their top choices.

"Thank you for calling..."

Get ready to dial!

Of course, sought-after bookings aren’t unique to the Food and Wine Festival. Just ask anyone who’s ever tried to [Read more…]

News: Victoria and Albert’s Debuts New Ten-Course Menu

If you think you’ve done it all at Victoria and Albert’s, it’s time to think again.

The Chef’s Degustation Menu is comprised of 10 small courses, and will pay tribute to Chef Hunnel’s travels through Europe and Asia. As always, the menu will also be influenced by seasonal flavors.

Guests who opt for this meal will enjoy a few extra touches: they’ll choose options from a cheese trolley, will be treated to table side butter carving, and receive a custom chocolate box at the end of their meal.

If guests are looking for a premium experience that explores wine pairing, the restaurant will also be offering food and wine pairings in the [Read more…]

Review: California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Time to check in on one of Walt Disney World’s most popular signature dining spots — California Grill.

Located atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the Grill has become nearly as well known for its stellar views as its market-inspired food. And those two factors can make this a tough table to book.

My last visit here, however, when the restaurant had just reopened after an in-depth refurbishment, was somewhat disappointing. At the time, I chalked it up to the kitchen having an off night; after all, I had enjoyed incredible dining here many times before.

I decided it was time to check in again. So we booked an early Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) on a recent visit, and up we went.

Atmosphere

If you’ve never visited California Grill, then there’s one thing you should know: you don’t just head to the 15th floor. Your journey actually starts on the 2nd floor of the Contemporary where you check in. Even if you’re just heading to the first-come, first-served Lounge, this is your first stop.

Second Floor Check In Desk for California Grill

Second Floor Check In Desk for California Grill

You’ll then be escorted via a private elevator to the 15th floor. In this way, staff act as gatekeepers for the popular spot. If left unattended, it would get pretty busy up there, especially around Wishes-at-Magic-Kingdom time.

Once you make your way upstairs, a bank of Wine Fridges greets you straight ahead.

Entrance and Wine Fridges

Entrance and Wine Fridges

You walk through the Lounge and Bar to get to the restaurant’s main seating area. That sounds as though these are different spaces; they aren’t. Basically, with the exception of a few private dining rooms, the restaurant features an open floor plan, accentuating the sweeping views and retro-meets-modern vibe.

California Grill Bar

California Grill Bar

If you find yourself without an ADR, there’s still hope. You can sit in the Grill’s Lounge and order from the menu, or just enjoy Drinks, Sushi, and Appetizers. Be forewarned, though: it’s not uncommon for this area to reach capacity as the night goes on. Here at 5PM, though, it was pretty bare.

California Grill Lounge

California Grill Lounge

Wrap around to the main seating area, and you see that nearly every table commands an excellent view of the surrounding landscape, including Magic Kingdom and the Resorts situated around Seven Seas Lagoon.

Seating varies here and includes both tables and chairs and booths.

Seating

Seating

There are also a selection of tables that mix banquette and chair seating. Note that white tablecloths and cloth napkins are the norm here, lending to the upscale air of sophistication.

Table for Two

Table for Two

Booths are somewhat unique in that they are located in the middle of the floor. That means that you can enter from either side, and there will be traffic on both sides of your table, similar to what you find at Jiko. While this isn’t necessarily bad, it does mean that your booth won’t be as secluded as you might like.

But the view outside of the windows isn’t the only thing you have to look at.

California Grill Kitchen

California Grill Kitchen

The well-orchestrated, professional hustle and bustle that’s happening behind the counter in the on-stage kitchen can be fascinating as well.

Prepping for Dinner Service

Prepping for Dinner Service

Although we will focus today on the food here, the sweeping, panoramic vistas certainly bear mentioning. You can see for miles!

The View

The View

And that’s one of the biggest draws of California Grill — this view, especially when it comes to [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Be Our Guest Restaurant in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom was an overnight sensation, and has stayed at the top of every Disney fans’ must-get-a-reservation list.

The crazy to get a table has reached epic proportions and has resulted in an unprecedented move: this counter-service-at-lunch spot now offers Advance Dining Reservations. (Previously, Be Our Guest tested lunch Fast Passes. See more information on the move to ADRs here.) Dinner, which continues to be table service, also requires ADRs just as soon as your 180-day window opens.

And now, after hearing rumors forever, Be Our Guest just started testing Breakfast Service. We had a chance to try it for ourselves the very first morning it was served!

Be Our Guest Restaurant sign

Be Our Guest Restaurant sign

I’ve enjoyed all three meals here. The food has been good to great, and the impeccable themeing make this a must-do experience at least once.

Gargoyle Light Post and Waterfall

Scenery Begins Before You Ever Enter the Castle: Gargoyle Light Post and Waterfall

But I never like to assume a place continues to be awesome — especially a spot as busy as this. It’s very easy for busy restaurants to nose dive in the quality department, and to trade on their fame alone. And so, it’s become pretty important to me to check in with Be Our Guest periodically to see if I’d still recommend that you fight the good fight to get a table here. And that’s just what I did on a recent lunch visit.

Join me, won’t you?

Atmosphere

Be Our Guest has taken a hybrid approach to service since day one. While dinner is a table service meal, lunch continues to be…not so much counter service, as upscale quick service. But now there’s officially a twist to lunch — you can (and totally, totally should) book an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR for short). So you’ll check in for lunch much the same as you do for dinner.

Check In for Be Our Guest Restaurant

Check In for Be Our Guest Restaurant

My, how things have changed. Thanks to ADRs (and the fact that standby waiting often isn’t even available), the routinely crazy-long line for lunch doesn’t start up at the crack of 10AM anymore.

Be Our Guest Entrance

Be Our Guest Entrance

Wanna see what I mean? Here’s a view from the pre-ADR lunch days. Yikes!

Lunch Line at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Lunch Line at Be Our Guest Restaurant

But don’t get any ideas that you’re just going to stroll in for a quick look-see. Nearly the only ticket that will gain you access to Beast’s Castle is an ADR.

Entrance Into the West Wing

Entrance

Once you’re through the entrance (woo! You made it!), be sure to take in every detail. Be Our Guest is truly a gem, and a stunning example of Disney’s ability to imagine and bring to real life the animated worlds that they’ve created.

To your left, you can see just what I mean. Fans of the film will remember the backstory of Beauty and the Beast at the beginning of the film, told through a series of stained glass windows. And in the final scenes of the film, a new window is shown — with Belle and her Prince. You’ll find the scene immortalized in a mosaic at Be Our Guest.

Belle and Prince Stained Glass Window

Belle and Prince Stained Glass Window

But to get your lunch party started, you’ll actually head to your right, down the Gallery. The narrow passageway is lined with shining suits of armor standing at attention — and it’s one of my favorite spots in the restaurant.

Whispering Suits of Armour

Enchanted Suits of Armour

These Enchanted Suits of Armour whisper, crack jokes, and generally just have a good time.

More Whispering Suits of Armour

More Enchanted Suits of Armour

I’m going to take you a little out of the normal DFB sequence here so that we keep the order of how things work at Be Our Guest. Once you leave the Gallery, you enter the ordering area. And this is why I don’t call Be Our Guest a counter service spot. Here, you can see to the right the Digital Menu Boards that feature lunch items.

Digital Menu Boards

Digital Menu Boards

And directly ahead, there are kiosks. Some are manned with Cast Members who can take your order, and others are available for guests to enter their information directly. I chose the self serve option.

Instructions for Ordering

Instructions for Ordering

From there, the detailed menu took me through each stage of ordering. Here are the adult options. A “1” over the item indicates that it is part of our order. Because I had a FastPass to dine at Be Our Guest (this was before the restaurant changed to ADRs), I pre-ordered, making the ordering process slightly faster once I got there. It was just a matter of confirming our choices.

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu -- Entrees

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu — Entrees

And here’s a screen which shows you Kids’ Meal options. We had pre-selected a meal for the child in our party as well.

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu -- Kids' Meals

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu — Kids’ Meals

An additional pop-up menu for the Kids’ Meal gave us the opportunity to change up any beverages or side dishes.

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu -- Kids' Picks Options

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu — Kids’ Picks Options

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu -- Kids Picks Options

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu — Kids’ Picks Options

It’s at this point that you pay. Once payment is taken care of, you either receive a [Read more…]