Full Review: The NEW California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Update: Scroll to the end of the Eats section (yep, waaayyy down there!) for a mini-review of opening night, courtesy of one of our favorite DFB guest writers, Julie B!

We are headed back to the fifteenth floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort today, as we take a closer look at the brand new California Grill!

The outpouring of Disney food fan love has just been astounding throughout the last eight months as we’ve continued to watch the newly re-imagined California Grill take shape. Folks who love the restaurant and its amazing menu have been anxious for news. Would it retain its panache? Would beloved dishes from the old menu make the cut? How would we survive with no Yoshie??

We are happy to report that, if possible, California Grill is even more spectacular than before. We were happy to show you a first look at all that was new after last Thursday’s media event. Today, we’re unveiling more details. If you haven’t already, get ready to make those advance dining reservations. I think you’re going to like what you see.


Settle in. This is going to be a long one!


Immediately, as you step out of the elevator onto the fifteenth floor, you are enveloped by the cool vibe of California Grill. You know at once that you’re in for a special experience.

If you weren’t aware of it already, now you know: wine matters in this restaurant. A lot. Wine coolers aren’t dressed up to be anything else; they’re unapologetically part of the decor here. This makes sense, as the restaurant now boasts 1,600 bottles of wine in the state-of-the-art wine display.

You’ll find around 250 wines on the list, with 80 available by the glass. And with more than 20 sommeliers on staff, you are literally enveloped in a wealth of wine knowledge.

Wine, Anyone?

Straight ahead, you’ll find the trademark view of Seven Seas Lagoon. With any luck there will be a spectacular sunset over the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa during your visit like there was for ours.

This area continues to serve as the lounge for the restaurant. You can still score a table here with no advance dining reservation, and the full restaurant menu is available for ordering.

Entrance and Bank of Wine Fridges

The bar area continues to be highlighted by the ceiling’s circular cutout. While the shape is the same, the whole bar has been overhauled with new finishes. Comfortable seating beckons you to relax and have a cocktail or two.


To quote one of my Disney friends, nothing here is the same as it was! The lights are wonderfully whimsical. While modern, there’s still a retro feel here. In fact, the lights remind me a lot of old pictures I’ve seen of the Contemporary from the 1970s.

Seating Area is Ready for Guests

Tables are set for service. I was glad to see that the [Read more…]

Review: Breakfast at Disneyland’s Carnation Cafe

Today, we’re visiting a newly re-vamped Disneyland classic — the Carnation Cafe. Situated on prime real estate right along Main Street U.S.A., the spot has been serving up simple and delicious eats since Disneyland opened in 1955.

Exterior and Patio Seating

And although it’s no stranger to facelifts and name changes, it’s recently undergone a renovation that has added a whole new dimension to the spot. In addition, the menu has (sadly) been updated since our last visit for breakfast.

Let’s take a tour and see what’s new!


Carnation Cafe is located in the middle of Disneyland’s most famous street. It has all the charm of a turn of the (last) century building.

Building and Door Inside

At the beginning of last year, Carnation Cafe closed for a renovation. Prior to that point, the restaurant (at least in this chapter of its life) had been exclusively an outdoor spot. All of the seating was on the patio. However, when Blue Ribbon Bakery gave way for Jolly Holiday Bakery, Carnation Cafe acquired [Read more…]

Vintage Disney Matchbooks Part 1: Disneyland

As much as society has changed, there used to be a time when smoking was much more common (In fact, even Walt himself was a smoker; and more often than not, he’d be seen with a cigarette in hand )…and the activity created lots of opportunities for businesses to promote themselves.

Although smoking is not for me, I DO appreciate the gorgeous matchbooks that used to be distributed throughout the Disney Parks.

Vintage Disney Matchbooks

Nearly every single dining establishment, store, “land,” hotel and lounge had its own matchbook – free souvenirs to visiting guests.  I’ve recently stumbled upon (and won) some online auctions for vintage Disney Parks matchbook collections.  I am completely obsessed with their coolness.

The matchbooks I’ve received include everything from early early Disneyland to Disneyland Paris, to Epcot and Pleasure Island in Walt Disney World.  It was so much fun to go through them and sort out the restaurants and lounges to share here on the blog.

Vintage Disneyland Matchbooks

Because there are so many, this will be a three part series divided into Disneyland, Epcot and “Other.” Let’s start in Disneyland!

Disneyland Vintage Matchbooks

Club 33

The Club 33 match book is one of the more recent matchbooks in the collection.  Not sure that it would be considered vintage, but it’s still pretty awesome.

Years ago, personalized match books awaited you at your table when you dined at Club 33, but when a healthier trend started to spread, the matches were replaced mini pads of paper that looked exactly like a matchbook.  This photo though, is an actual matchbook.

Club 33 Matchbook

Plantation House and Red Wagon Inn

The other three matchbooks are much older.  The one below features two restaurants, The Plantation House in Frontierland and the Red Wagon Inn on Main Street USA.

Both restaurants debuted at Disneyland’s grand opening and were operated by Swift Meats.  The Plantation House served up fried chicken dinners for $1.70.  Meals could be enjoyed on the patio of a plantation style home along the Rivers of America.  The Plantation House closed in 1962 to make room for New Orleans Square.

The Red Wagon Inn and Plantation House

The Red Wagon Inn was said to be Walt’s favorite restaurant at Disneyland.  A lovely table service restaurant, The Red Wagon Inn was the most popular place to dine as well as the only restaurant in Disneyland to serve full course dinners. They also served [Read more…]

DIY Disney Recipe: Cobb Salad from The Hollywood Brown Derby

We’re thrilled to welcome back DFB guest chef Carol E.! This week, she shows us how to create the famous Cobb Salad from The Hollywood Brown Derby. Get your forks ready!

One of our favorite parks at Walt Disney World is Disney’s Hollywood Studios (or MGM if you still can’t get over the name change ;). And the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant is one of the main reasons we LOVE this park.

You walk in and it feels like old Hollywood! It’s fun to see all the sketches of famous celebrities lining the walls.

Stars like Lucille Ball, Bette Davis, Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, and hundreds of other actors of an era gone by have dined at the original restaurant in Hollywood and made it the place to be in that town.

The sketches lining the walls are one of the things that made the original Hollywood Brown Derby famous worldwide!

The Hollywood Brown Derby's Dining Room.

But it’s not a trip to the Hollywood Brown Derby without trying the Cobb Salad! As the story goes, owner Robert Cobb was raiding the fridge at the restaurant late one night seeking to put together a midnight snack for theater magnate Sid Grauman (you know, the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater).

He chopped up a little bit of this lettuce and that lettuce. Then he took leftovers of bacon, egg, avocado, blue cheese, turkey, and whatever he could find in the kitchen. He chopped it all up, mixed up his own dressing, and threw it all into a bowl. Cobb’s salad became an overnight sensation when Sid came in the next day to order it again!

Cobb Salad served tableside.

I was so excited to find the original Hollywood Brown Derby Cobb Salad recipe in the Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs Cookbook! Let’s make it!

Salad Ingredients

*See below for the A Few Lessons I Learned section for more about these ingredients.
-1 cup chopped iceberg lettuce leaves, washed and spun dry
-1 cup chopped chicory leaves, washed and spun dry*
-1 cup tender sprigs of watercress, washed and spun dry
-1 pound poached turkey breast, finely chopped*
-2 medium-sized, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
-1 avocado, peeled, seeded and finely chopped -½ cup crumbled blue cheese (about 2 ½ ounces)
-6 strips bacon, cooked crisp, drained, and crumbled*
-3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped
-2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
-1/2 cup bleu cheese, crumbled
-½ cup The Hollywood Brown Derby Old Fashioned French Dressing (not the orange French dressing we are used to, more like a vinaigrette). See Recipe below.
-Chicory and watercress sprigs for garnish!

Yield: 4-6 Servings

Cobb Salad Ingredients.

Salad Dressing Ingredients

-2 tablespoons of water
-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
-1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
-½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
-½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
-½ teaspoon minced garlic (one clove)
-¼ teaspoon of sugar
-1/8 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
-1/8 teaspoon dry English mustard
-1/3 cup vegetable oil
-2 tablespoons olive oil

Yield: About ½ Cup

Ingredients for dressing for Cobb Salad.


Step 1-Bacon and Hard Boiled Eggs:

-Definitely start by getting your bacon and hard boiled eggs finished. Skip to the bottom of this post to the A Few Lessons I Learned section to find a quick and easy way of making bacon in the oven. You have a lot more important stuff to do than stand over a [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…]

News! A Video Look Inside 1901 Lounge AND Club 33 Invites New Members!

Club 33 Sign

Exciting news announced on the DisneyParks Blog!

Club 33 Invites New Members

Club 33 is celebrating its 45th anniversary by inviting a limited number of new members for exclusive membership!

Walt Disney was inspired to create Club 33 by the executive lounges at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Since 1967, the club has intrigued Disney fans!

Disneyland fans that receive new Club 33 membership will get some extra perks too — sneak peeks to new attractions, VIP tour guides, itinerary planning, valet parking, and comp resort upgrades — for an exceptional concierge experience.

A Peek Inside the Exclusive New 1901 Lounge

Access to the new 1901 lounge inside the Carthay Circle Theatre (opening June 15) is also included in these new memberships.

Check our our earlier reports on Club 33 membership and the 1901 Lounge for details on these exclusive locations AND on the ins and outs of membership!

Check out this video for details and a peek inside the new 1901 Lounge in Disney California Adventure, opening [Read more…]

Construction Update: Carthay Circle Theatre in Disney California Adventure

The Carthay Circle Theatre is looking gorgeous in Disney California Adventure. Disney Imagineering has worked hard on the replica of this famed theatre in which “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” premiered in 1937. Check out these great pics that Heather got!



We first reported on this construction back in 2009, and then learned at the D23 Expo that this venue will showcase an exclusive restaurant.

Acclaimed Napa Rose Chef Andrew Sutton is creating the menu, and we anticipate exquisite cuisine. The last time we dined at Napa Rose, Chef Sutton let us know that [Read more…]

What is Your Most-Missed Extinct Disney Food?

We’ve been talking a lot about new restaurants and new menu items these past few weeks, but for many Disney food fans the long-lost favorites really stick in their memories.

I decided that we need to pay tribute to some of these famous dishes and want to find out: What are your most-missed extinct Disney dishes? I’ll start the ball rolling with a few of my own!

Fried Boursin Cheese at 50’s Prime Time Cafe

UPDATE –> This one is back!! Woo!! This is, no doubt, my most missed dish in a Disney restaurant. While it’s meant to be shared, you know I ordered one all for myself when I visited 50’s Prime Time Cafe in Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Fried Boursin Cheese at 50\’s Prime Time Cafe

This is basically herb cheese spread that’s fried and served with fruit and bread crisps. Pretty standard, eh? But that warm, creamy cheese coupled with the sweet fresh fruit was the perfect starter!

Maui Scalloped Potatoes at ‘Ohana

There have been several appetizer changes at ‘Ohana in the past several years, but the most devastating has to be the switch from scalloped potatoes to noodles. (You can read the whole, sad story here…in fact, please do, because I’m uncharacteristically funny in that blog post and it will change your whole perception of me, I promise.)

RIP Scalloped Potatoes (photo courtesy Brett Young)

Meyer Lemon Curd Dessert at Jiko

You know I love Lemon Curd, so to have an entire dessert based around the stuff at Jiko in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge was quite a find. And when they added [Read more…]

Citrus Swirl is Back in the Magic Kingdom

Next week we’ll have a post here on the Disney Food Blog about our favorite “extinct” foods, but I’m happy to say that one of the best is now officially OFF of that “extinct” list!

Currently back in its original home at the Magic Kingdom’s Sunshine Tree Terrace, the Citrus Swirl is available once again!

Sunshine Tree Terrace in the Magic Kingdom

Don’t fret when you approach the Terrace and look at the menu. The Swirl hasn’t yet made it back onto [Read more…]

Review: D23’s “Off the Map” Event with Dinner at Club 33

When I heard about D23’s Off the Map event, I made sure to be home when tickets went on sale. A visit to the Disneyland Dream Suite, touring Walt’s Apartment, a ride on the Lilly Belle, and a super surprise dinner at one of the resort’s most unique restaurants (hmmmm, wonder where that could be)? Sign. Me. Up. 

I sat down at my computer at about 9:50am, tickets would be available starting at 10:00am. I literally sat and refreshed for 10 minutes straight. Yes, I’m that nerdy.  It paid off, because at exactly 10:01 (according to my computer’s clock) I had two tickets in my shopping cart and was checking out, credit card in hand.  By the time I finished checking out, the event had sold out. I was surprised that they went so fast, but I then realized that it must be a very small and obviously sought after event.

NOTE: This review is long and has lots of pictures of awesome things. There’s a whole meal and a snack in the write-up (of course, this is the Disney Food Blog), but we couldn’t help including pics of the rest of the tour as well! I hope you enjoy!

Checking In

We checked in at 9:00am on a Tuesday morning and were put into groups. We soon met with our uber fabulous D23 guide, Jeffrey (you may know him as the Disney Geek)!

Guess Who???

This is where we learned that there were only 72 tickets sold for the event and that it sold out in 30 seconds. Wow, so lucky to have scored two!  The crowd was very mixed, the age range spanned from teen to senior and some people traveled from across the country to be here.  We had 11 people in our group; most were southern California Disneyland locals, others were from Las Vegas, and there was one all the way from Georgia (Hi Andy!).

Off the Map Check In

Our group was scheduled to go to Walt’s Apartment at 10:30, so we had a bit of time to kill. Disneyland had just opened at 10:00, so it was fun to watch the park “wake up” as the horse drawn carriages emerged, characters came running from backstage, and the Disneyland Band marched right in front of us.  We met our apartment tour guide outside of the Disneyland Fire Department promptly at 10:30.

Disneyland Fire Department

Touring Walt’s Apartment in Disneyland

After given some history of Walt’s Apartment, we walked backstage and headed up the stairs (holding the handrail like we were asked) and entered the Victorian style apartment. Immediately I noticed the musty smell and got goosebumps knowing that I was in a room that Walt Disney spent many a night in, entertaining friends, playing with his grandchildren, and looking out the window [Read more…]