56 Must-Read Disney Dining Secrets from Disney Food Blog

Disney may be the Happiest Place on Earth, but nothing can wreck the happy faster than poor planning.

This is especially true when it comes to one of the most important parts of your trip — eating!

After decades of Disney dining, we’ve perfected some expert tips and advice to get the most out of  your Disney World visit.

Today, we’re sharing our 56 Must-Read Disney Dining Secrets to ensure that you have the magical visit of your dreams!

Top Disney Dining Secrets

Let’s get started!

1. Make dining reservations. Even if you don’t follow any other piece of advice, we can’t say this emphatically enough. To fully appreciate the truly entertaining and delicious array of Disney Dining offerings, you must make advanced dining reservations. If you wait until you arrive at Disney to make table service arrangements, you may miss out on many of your top picks because they will be booked.

Book Dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant 180 Days in Advance to Guarantee a Table

2. BYOP (Bring  Your Own Pepsi). Yep. Those of you who are die-hard Pepsi drinkers will be sad to note that any and all Disney establishments will not carry Pepsi products. It’s a Coke-only zone here! So either bring your own Pepsi, or plan to take a trip to a nearby gas station, convenience store, grocery store, or drug store to pick up your stash. You can also order it and have it delivered directly to your hotel from Garden Grocer.

No Pepsi Here.

3. Don’t miss the must-eat items! After years of eating Disney goodies, we here at Disney Food Blog have amassed quite a list of “must-eat” treats in Disney parks and resorts. Cult favorites like Dole Whip Floats, Zebra Domes, School Bread, and Mickey Bars are high priority when you’re visiting the Happiest Place on Earth. To read up on our favorites, head over to our Best Disney World Restaurants Page for some great “Best Of” posts like Best Cookie Snacks in Disney World, favorite Disney ice cold snacks, Disney’s best grilled cheese, and more! And if you’re headed to Disney World for the first time, you must read our Best Disney Restaurants for First-Timers article — very helpful!

Dole Whip Float! A Must-Eat snack for every Disney guest.

4. Make your reservations 180 days prior to your visit whenever possible. Nope — it’s not enough to just make reservations; you need to make them as early as possible. For most restaurants, that’s 180 days prior to the date you’re seeking. If you’re staying in a Disney hotel, you can book all of your reservations for up to 10 days beginning exactly 180 days before the first day of your trip.

5. Don’t pay for food you don’t want. One of my favorite Disney Dining tips is to be a squeaky wheel when you need to be. Disney is very good at customizing meals, and at counter-service restaurants, your customized meal might even save you some money! For example, [Read more…]

News! Citricos and Flying Fish Cafe Wine Dinners Announced at Walt Disney World

Here’s some fun news if you’re headed to Walt Disney World this Spring or Summer!

Citricos at the Grand Floridian Resort has announced two more wine dinners for 2013! And Flying Fish Cafe on Disney’s BoardWalk will host a wine dinner May 31st!

Flying Fish, a signature restaurant at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort.

If you’re looking for a special evening, a wine dinner at Citricos or the Flying Fish Cafe is sure to be memorable!

Citricos Wine Dinners

Thursday June 6th — Reata Winery. Wine Maker Nori Nakamura will be hosting the event.
Thursday August 22nd — Jax Vineyards. Hosted by Alexis Rose Depe.

Each exclusive event offers only 10 seats in the private Chef’s Domain dining room. Celebrate your [Read more…]

The Most Popular Disney World Restaurants (and Alternatives When They’re Full)

Many Disney guests agree that the most important Disney Dining Tips lists include one specific piece of advice:

Making Advance Dining Reservations is an absolute must when it comes to planning.

While many seasoned Disney travelers are aware of this, there are lots of folks who visit the parks and are stunned to find no tables available at their top restaurant choices. Don’t worry, it happens to all of us at one time or another…and we’ve got solutions for you!

Today, we’ve updated our list of the most popular Disney restaurants, and terrific alternatives if you can’t score a table at your coveted spot!

Let’s take a look at the most elusive restaurants to book these days…

Dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Scoring an advance dining reservation at Be Our Guest Restaurant for their table service dinner can be a daunting task.

Be Our Guest Restaurant Ballroom Dining Room

From the time that they first announced the restaurant’s soft opening until now, we have heard from many readers who haven’t been able to secure a spot at Magic Kingdom’s newest restaurant. Here are a couple of reasons why:

Newness: The biggest reason for this remains the novelty of the place. Be Our Guest and all of New Fantasyland is still the hottest ticket in Walt Disney World since its grand opening in December 2012.

Incredible, Immersive Themeing: The impeccable themeing means that stepping into Beast’s Castle is truly like climbing through a portal into Beauty and the Beast. You almost expect to look down and find your food animated!

The Grey Stuff -- It's Delicious!

Novelty: The French-inspired cuisine that’s served at Be Our Guest is unlike anything else available in all of Magic Kingdom. In addition, there is huge novelty surrounding the fact that you can now order beer and wine in the formerly dry Magic Kingdom (for dinner only).

So, what to do if you can’t [Read more…]

News! Be our Guest Restaurant Menu Updates

We’ve got some Be Our Guest Restaurant menu updates for lunch and dinner!

Yep — the brand new Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland is already updating their choices and prices based on high demand…

Be Our Guest Restaurant Menu Changes Already in the Works...

Price Increases

First up, we have some price increases to contend with. We’ll need to dig deeper into our pockets when ordering lunch and dinner items.

For example at dinner, the French Onion Soup was $6.99 and is now $7.49; Thyme-scented Pork Rack Chop went up $2; and the Sauteed Shrimp and Scallops will now cost an additional $3. The steak dinner is up a few dollars as well. While dessert prices remained the same, most prices for appetizers and entrees on the dinner menu were increased.

Be Our Guest Menu Update!

For a general idea of what you can expect at the restaurant, check out our Be Our Guest Restaurant EVERYTHING ON THE MENU! review!

Guests will now pay an additional $3 for the Be Our Guest Restaurant Scallops and Shrimp

Lunch prices remain the same.

New Menu Items

Chicken Breast Provençal (Pan-seared and simmered in a rustic blend of Heirloom Tomatoes, Olives, White Wine, and fresh Herbs with Seasonal Vegetables and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes) has replaced the Rotisserie Cornish Hen.

At lunch, the Grilled Steak Sandwich has been substituted with a [Read more…]

UPDATE: New California Grill Menu with Photos

As we mentioned in our update on the California Grill renovation, this popular restaurant at Disney’s Contemporary Resort will be unveiling new dishes when it reopens.

California Grill is expected to start taking reservations within the next few weeks for its end of August opening. But right now, in an off-site kitchen, California Grill Chef Brian Piasecki is creating delicious new dishes!

In our earlier post, I reviewed the three-meat meatballs — a new addition to the appetizer menu at the restaurant. They were delicious…

Oak-Fired Three Meat Meatball.

“We’re really trying to think of creative new ways to use our wood-fired oven,” says Piasecki. Those meatballs are one way, with pork, lamb, and veal spiced with house-made harissa.

An oaky, crispy crust makes them perfect for dredging in Meyer-lemon-scented chimichurri with a side of marinated picholine olives and a little orzo. “Perfect for sharing,” says Piasecki.

Three Meatball Appetizer.

Sourcing as much as possible locally is a priority for Piasecki. The Cape Canaveral prawns are a great example. He roasts them head on in the wood-fired oven and serves with oven-roasted tomatoes, charred lemon, and a handful of peppery baby arugula. (And he’s using the shells to make prawn oil.)

Prawns.

He’s also creating house-made duck charcuterie – prosciutto, sausage, rillettes, butter, and mousse, all made with duck and served with [Read more…]

News! Jiko Wine Dinners in May at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

If you’re a fan of Jiko – The Cooking Place AND wine, plan to attend a wine dinner this May! These exclusive dinners come around rarely, since Jiko actually arranges for winemakers to come directly from South Africa to present to guests.

On May 4th, Jiko will present a South African Winemakers Tour. And The Wines of Warwick Estates will be presented on May 16, 2013.

South African Winemakers Tour

Who: Abrie Beeslar, Kanonkop; Peter De Wet, Excelsior; Gavin Slabbert, Raats Family Wines
When: Saturday, May 4th; 6:00pm
Reception Location: Arusha Terrace

Reception Menu:
Spinach and Mushroom Dumpling, Paneer Cheese, and Harissa Sauce
Fire Roasted Corn Cake with Applewood Smoked Bacon
Braised Beef Short Rib, Cracked Pappadom, and Peppadew-Cucumber Raita
Excelsior Chardonnay, Robertson

South African Wine at Jiko

First Course
Grilled Moroccan Spiced Quail, Chickpea Puree, and Wilted Greens
Side By Side Chenin Blanc Tasting
Raats Original Chenin Blanc, Coastal Region
Raats Chenin Blanc, Coastal Region

Second Course
Tunisian Olive Oil Poached Butterfish, Chorizo Bobotie, and Crispy Okra
Side By Side Chenin Blanc Tasting
Raats Original Chenin Blanc, Coastal Region
Raats Chenin Blanc, Coastal Region

Salad
Watermelon and Tomato Salad, Sherry Vinaigrette
Kanonkop Kadette, Stellenbosch

Entrée
Ostrich, Herb Pasta, and Spring Vegetable Medley
Kanonkop Pinotage, Stellenbosch

Dessert
Chocolate Chile Molten Cake and Drunken Cherries
Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon, Robertson

Wines of Warwick Estates

When: Thursday, May 16, 2013; 6:00pm
Reception Location: Sunset Lounge

Reception Menu:
Braised Curried Tomatoes, Toasted Millet Bunny Chow, and Gooseberry Marmalade
Rooibos Honey Smoked Quail, Compressed Orange, and Sweet Potato
Cinnamon-Dashi Oysters and Chili Pearls [Read more…]

Tables in Wonderland May Event: Fantasmic! Dessert Party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Tables in Wonderland members — here’s a dessert-tastic event for you!

Tables in Wonderland has announced aFantasmic! Dessert Party in Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 11, 2013!

Dessert Party! Click image for larger version.

Here are the details…

Fantasmic! Dessert Party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Dates: Saturday May 11, 2013
Time: 8:30 – 9:30pm
Price: $68.72 per person. Tax and gratuity is included.

Experience the fun, fancy and fears of Mickey Mouse as he battles forces that turn his vibrant dreams into a vivid nightmare. Mickey faces off against Disney villains in an amazing spectacular of dancing water, dramatic music, breathtaking animation, lasers, fireworks, and surprises! At this private Tables in Wonderland Dessert Party, you’ll enjoy VIP seating at the premier nighttime spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Fantasmic!, while sampling platters of exquisitely prepared desserts.

Offerings include:

Savory Station
Artisan Cheeses, Dried Fruits, Nuts, and Sliced Baguettes

Sampler Station
Mickey Ear Brownie Bon Bons
Balsamic Macerated Strawberries, Mascarpone and [Read more…]

DFB Reader Questions Answered: Dinner and Fireworks Timing at Magic Kingdom

It’s time to delve once more into the Disney Food Blog Reader Questions Mailbag! We’re pretty sure that if one of you is asking about something, then many of you are probably wondering the same thing. :-)

Today, we are featuring a couple of questions that are all about how to ensure a good dining game plan to view Wishes at Magic Kingdom.

Wishes at Magic Kingdom

Be Our Guest Restaurant and Fireworks Viewing

Our DFB Reader asks…

When should we make our reservation at Be Our Guest Restaurant so that we have sufficient time to enjoy our meal, and so we are on time to see the Electrical Parade and Wishes?

The long and short answer for this? It depends! Note that you won’t be able to see Wishes or the Parade FROM the restaurant, so dining first and then finding a viewing spot out in the park is important.

When you’re making a dinner reservation for Be Our Guest Restaurant (or any other dining location) and you’d like to view the Electrical Parade and Wishes, it’s important to check park hours to find out when each of the events are taking place on that [Read more…]

Tables in Wonderland Events: La Nouba Discount and The Wave Discovery Beer Dinner

Tables in Wonderland has announced an April Discovery Dinner, as well as a great perk for the next couple of months!

La Noube Discount - click on image for a larger photo!

First up, members will receive a discount on Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba tickets in Orlando’s Downtown Disney from April 9 – May 11 and May 28 – June 21, 2013! Next, another Discovery Dinner at The Wave will be happening in April. And this one features Beer!

La Nouba Discount

Tables in Wonderland members will receive a discount on tickets for themselves and up to three guests at 6pm and 9pm performances on Tuesdays – Saturdays from April 9 – May 11 and May 28 – June 21.

Ticket prices depend on the category of seats selected.

  • 25% Discount for Category 2 Tickets: Adult: $69.75 plus tax; Child: $55.50 plus tax
  • 35% Discount for Category 3 Tickets: Adult: $48.75 plus tax; Child: $39.00 plus tax
  • 35% Discount for Category 4 Tickets: Adult: $39.65 plus tax; Child: $31.85 plus tax

Call 407-WDW-SEAT (407-939-7328) to purchase tickets OR visit https://shop.omniticket.com/wdw/wcq/?associationid=43&promocode=TBLES13Q3! (Must show current Tables in Wonderland card when picking up tickets at the Box Office.)

The Wave Discovery Dinner

Lots of fun to be had at the April Beer Discovery Dinner at the Wave!

Click image for larger photo!

Location: The Wave…of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Date: Thursday, April 18, 2013 6:30pm Reception; 7pm Dinner
Cost: $110 per person, including tax and gratuity
Dress Code: Casual Evening Attire
Menu: See below for the full menu and booking information!

The Wave welcomes Brewmaster James Emmerson of Full Sail Brewery. This brewery has earned Oregon Brewery of the Year 2013 and numerous other awards.

James Emmerson attended brewing school in 1987. He started his brewing career at Sieben’s Brewery in Chicago before being hired as Brewmaster at Full Sail Brewing Co. [Read more…]

Best Disney World Restaurants for First Time Disney Visitors

Everyday we receive lots of mail from you, our awesome DFB readers, asking for restaurant suggestions and recommendations. And while we certainly have our favorites, we know that you do, too!

So when a Disney first-time visitor recently asked what restaurants we would recommend for their upcoming trip, we couldn’t think of a better panel of experts to ask than YOU!

When I put the question out on the Disney Food Blog Facebook page, I was overwhelmed by the huge and immediate response that I got!

Let’s take a look at your recommendations for the restaurants first timers must experience on that inaugural Walt Disney World trip!

If you have other thoughts or ideas — or, better yet, stories of your favorite restaurants during a first-time visit — please share them with all of us in the comments section! More suggestions are always better!

Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

When it comes to first time Disney dining, the winning restaurant recommendation is, hands down, Chef Mickey’s in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Many of you agree that anyone visiting the Happiest Place on Earth for the very first time MUST experience a buffet that includes lots of character interaction.

Chef Mickey's is highly recommended by our DFB Readers!

But the suggestion is practical, too. Readers pointed out that a character dining experience offers terrific value for your Disney dollar, with an all-you-care-to-eat option.

A View of the Castle from Chef Mickey's

And with the addition of characters, you have a less rushed (and air conditioned!) meet and greet opportunity that guarantees you’ll see lots of characters without waiting in long lines in the parks.

Also, don’t forget that Chef Mickey’s is walking distance from the Magic Kingdom. This is a great
place to start or end your Magic Kingdom day!

Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland

Judging from the reader response, we’d say that Disney definitely hit the mark with one of its newest restaurants, Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland.

Be Our Guest Restaurant Bridge Entrance

Set in Beast’s Castle (from Disney’s animated classic, Beauty and the Beast), the huge eatery is a counter service location for lunch and table service location for dinner (see our “Everything on the Menu!!” Review Here!).

Be Our Guest Restaurant Ballroom

The menu has a French flair — and chefs worked hard to create tasty, interesting meals for the younger set as well.

Be Our Guest Restaurant also has the distinction of being the only spot within Magic Kingdom where guests can order beer and wine. While it broke with tradition when Disney announced the decision to offer adult drinks in the otherwise dry park, they felt it was necessary in keeping with the French-inspired menu.

The Beast occasionally greets visitors in his study during dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Many guests celebrate special occasions at Be Our Guest Restaurant, and if that’s you, be sure to mention it to your server. He may actually bring you a celebratory taste of “The Grey Stuff” — mentioned by Lumiere in the film!

This cookies and cream panna cotta truly is “delicious!”

The Grey Stuff -- It's Delicious!

Guests seem to be loving this spot for many reasons, and Advanced Dining Reservations for dinner remain hard to come by.

While we’ve tasted just about everything here and agree that the food’s quite good, most of you especially love it for the incredible, immersive themeing. So, remember that even if you can’t get a reservation for dinner, you can still enjoy the restaurant itself — including getting a peek at all three dining rooms — if you dine here for a counter-service lunch!

braised pork -- coq au vin at Be Our Guest Restaurant -- for LUNCH!

Here’s a TIP: if at all possible, snag a table in the West Wing and keep an eye on the [Read more…]