Review: Lunch at The Diamond Horseshoe in Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland

It’s time to head to the Wild West and take a look behind some rarely open doors…

The Diamond Horseshoe is a seasonal option in the Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland, which means it’s open only on peak-level crowd days (much like Tortuga Tavern in Adventureland).

During Thanksgiving week and around Christmas, it’s been known to host an evening buffet.  When it’s open for lunch, though, it’s a counter service stop featuring turkey and barbeque sandwiches served up to the tunes of a self-playing Wurlitzer.

Perhaps you yourself have strolled past The Diamond Horseshoe.

The Diamond Horseshoe

The Diamond Horseshoe

If so, odds are good (well, pretty great, really) that you’ve seen these doors closed.

"The Diamond Horseshoe is not currently serving..."

“The Diamond Horseshoe is not currently serving…”

But on the busiest of busy days, you just might catch them open… it’s time to step inside The Diamond Horseshoe!

The Diamond AND the Horseshoe!

The Diamond AND the Horseshoe!

And since it’s so rare to find this place open, we’ve got a little exploring to do…

Atmosphere

Okay, I’ll admit… like any good Disney geek, when the doors opened I walked straight past the ordering counter to check out the atmosphere. But I felt fine lingering, since someone left their umbrella at the front ;) , which indicates to me that folks at the Horseshoe are expected to sit and stay awhile!

Umbrella just inside the entrance

Umbrella just inside the entrance

Though located in the more rustic surroundings of Frontierland, when you step into this ol’ West music hall, the atmosphere seems decidedly more lush — from the deep red curtains on the centerpiece stage…

The Diamond Horseshoe stage

The Diamond Horseshoe stage

… to the red glass [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland: A Look Back at 1957 Park Eats

Fire up the flux capacitor and hop in the Delorean because we’re going back in time.  I know, that’s Universal Studios talk, but Doc Brown is the only guy I know that can make this happen…

1957 Guide to Disneyland

1957 Guide to Disneyland

It’s 1957 at Disneyland. The park has only been open for two years, but Walt’s got lots of places for us to eat! Let’s take a little tour of our options starting with good ‘ol Main Street USA.

The Carnation Ice Cream Parlor (currently known as Gibson Girl) was the perfect spot for a cool treat.  Further down the road you could stop at the Carnation Plaza Gardens for some quick service food. Does anyone remember the frozen malts they sold with the wooden spoons? I DO!

There was also the Refreshment Corner sponsored by Coca Cola, The Maxwell Coffee House Shop, The Puffin Bake Shop, and the Red Wagon Inn, which is said to have been Walt’s favorite park eatery and later became the Plaza Inn.

Another option was a cafeteria style restaurant called the Pavilion.  Check out the photos below, I’m absolutely loving the popcorn cart and its cute little cowpoke customers!

Vintage Main Street USA

Main Street USA

Take a right off of Main Street USA and you’ll stumble into Tomorrowland.  Here, you can hit the Space Bar, an automat type restaurant as well as the Yacht Club (self service) and the Dairy Bar, which was an exhibit sponsored by the American Dairy Association.

Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland

After Tomorrowland, we’ll head over to Fantasyland.  Here you can eat at the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship (YES PLEASE!) or get some fresh grape juice from the Welch’s Stand.

Vintage FantasylandIn 1957, Frontierland was the place to really get your grub on; it had the most dining options of all the lands in the park.  The Chicken Plantation Restaurant served up a fried chicken dinner for just $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.

Not in the mood for fried chicken? Head over to the Golden Horseshoe for dinner and a show.  Or visit the birth place of the [Read more…]

The Story of Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port in Disneyland

For those who are new to Disney parks, everything here has a backstory. Rides, shows, and, yes, even restaurants!

Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port

Recently, one of my good friends, Eric Chu, shared the backstory of Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port with us.

For those who haven’t been there, this counter-service restaurant is located in Tomorrowland at the Disneyland resort. Basically, you climb off of Space Mountain and there you are!

But do you know WHY there’s a pizza joint in the middle of the Milky Way? Let’s find out!

The History Behind Redd Rocket’s Pizza Port in Disneyland

“The only real problem with long-term space travel is that you can’t get a decent pizza.” — Dr. Tyrone Mantanio, INSA Sector 5

A-GREED! Can you imagine traveling through space without the ability to order pizza?! I know, right? ;-D And according to the always-creative Disney imagineers, solving the problem of finding must-have food in the cosmos became a goal for scientists!

Pepperoni Pizza Slice

Redd Rockett to the rescue! He set up a [Read more…]

Review: The Golden Horseshoe in Disneyland

You want history, my fellow Disney-loving friends? Well, then, you’re going to love what we have in store for you today.

Sign

That’s right, we’re taking another trip to Disneyland for a rip-roarin’ good time at one of our favorite Old West saloons — The Golden Horseshoe!

This place has it all — Disney pedigree, a hilarious show, and signature menu items.

If you haven’t been there before, I have a feeling it will be on your Disney Bucket List once we’re finished talking about this time-honored spot in Disney’s original theme park.

Let’s check it out!

Atmosphere

Head up Main Street USA towards Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and hang a left at the hub. You’ll find The Golden Horseshoe centrally located in Frontierland, appropriately.

One of the most interesting bits of trivia about this spot is that it was one of the original fixtures when the park opened waaaaaayyy back in 1955.

In fact, Walt and his wife, Lillian, celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary with a private party here just days before the park opened to the public.

Awesome Golden Horseshoe Signs

(Check out Heather’s post about a cool Limited Time Magic event earlier this year, which included a dessert with a picture from that famous night!)

The boardwalk outside touts Ice Cream Sundaes and more as you anticipate heading inside… .

Entrance

Enter into the saloon-themed counter service spot and take in all the details. The restaurant was designed by Harper Goff, and if it seems familiar, then you must be an old film buff — it’s based upon a set design that Goff used in the the 1953 western comedy musical Calamity Jane, starring Doris Day. (See? Reading DFB is not only a treat for the eyes, it’s a learning experience, too! ;-D You’re SMARTER than you were when you started reading!)

Seating and Stage Under the Rotunda

Two levels of seating provide you lots of options for taking in the show. You’ll also notice some “box seats” situated closer to the stage. Walt himself kept the one on the right for viewing the show anytime time he wanted to, as this was a favorite spot of his. The boxes are open to the public now.

Upper Level Seating on the Rotunda and Longhorns

Rich details surround you, and actually, the feeling is pretty [Read more…]

Rumor: Will Disneyland’s Club 33 Expansion Include Walt Disney World?

The exclusive members-only restaurant, Club 33, in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square will undergo a major expansion in 2014. Disneyland recently announced that Club 33 members will be able to book reservations until January 5, 2014. Now that members have been given access to a Preview Center, we have more details to share!

Led by Imagineer Kim Irvine, Walt’s original vision for the space will be incorporated with new design elements. Changes will include the relocation of the Club’s iconic entrance (the famous door will stay but not be used), foyer, and Parisian elevator.

Club 33 Door

What does this mean for non-members? The beautiful Court of Angels will no longer be accessible to park guests!

The historical Trophy Room will become the restaurant’s kitchen as it currently uses the backstage facilities at the Blue Bayou.

Trophy Room

During the renovation, the main dining room’s [Read more…]

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.

Menus

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

Atmosphere

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.

Bar

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!

Atmosphere

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.

Instructions

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. [Read more…]