Tips from the DFB Guide: How MyMagic+ is Impacting Disney World Dining

When we all had our first glimpse of Magic Bands a couple of years back, did any of us have an idea that MyMagic+, Disney’s all-inclusive planning system, would impact so significantly the way we dine in Disney World?

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As soon as we saw those super cute bracelets (how many colors do you have??), we had an inkling that they’d spell major changes in the way we enjoy our Disney mealtimes. Almost immediately we put together this post, which gave our predictions for the MyMagic+-ful future.

Fast forward a couple of years, and we’re definitely seeing the impact of Disney’s commitment to the technological overhaul. So today, we thought we’d share with you some seriously helpful information from the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2015!

And if you find these tips to be helpful, pick up your copy of the Guide today for $4 off using code 2015 right here!

So let’s talk about some ways that MyMagic+ is impacting your Disney World Dining!

Schedule Meals and FastPasses — Without Conflict

This is probably one of my favorite things about MyMagic+. Use of the My Disney Experience app to preschedule my Advance Dining Reservations and my ride FastPasses means that the two don’t ever conflict.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Choose Between Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Be Our Guest? Now You Don’t Have To!

In the past, when the FastPass machines simply spit a time out for your return, there were times that I had to choose between Soarin’ and La Hacienda de San Angel’s Crema de Elote. (And seriously. You do know that the food always, always won, right?)

Corn Soup -- Up Close

Sorry — But I Will Always Choose La Hacienda’s Corn Soup Over Soarin’

But in the time since MyMagic+ was introduced, I’ve been able to schedule attractions around meetings, meals, and anything else I’d like! Seriously — I’ve ridden so many more rides since MyMagic+ came on line!

Touch to Pay is Awesome!

If you ask me — and pretty much all of the DFB Staff! — we agree that the Touch to Pay using our Magic Bands is one of our favorite things about MyMagic+ System.

Touch to Pay at a Counter Service Location

Touch to Pay at a Counter Service Location

Across the board, we love that you no longer have to search through your bag or wallet for a Key to the Kingdom card or credit card to pay.

Touch to Pay at Raglan Road

Touch to Pay at Raglan Road

Teenagers especially love the freedom of being on their own in the parks, knowing that [Read more…]

News! New “Kitchen Magic with Mickey” Disney Cookbook Arrives in Disney Parks

Many of us love to reproduce the recipes that we find at our favorite Disney restaurants once we get home. That’s one reason that I love to collect Disney Cookbooks, filled with my favorite old and new recipes. They’ve become some of my family’s favorite meals!

If you love to collect, cook, and recreate, too, then you’ll be excited to hear this news today. Disney has introduced a brand new cookbook, Kitchen Magic with Mickey!

Kitchen Magic with Mickey Cookbook

Kitchen Magic with Mickey Cookbook

Written by Disney cookbook author Pam Brandon and the Disney Chefs, the cookbook brings together a collection of favorite and often-requested recipes from the four corners of Disney. You’ll find dishes from the Parks, Resorts, and even Disney Cruise Line! With 100 recipes ranging from comfort food favorites like [Read more…]

News! Menu Item Photos from the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival — Plus Cooking Demos!

Menu news just keeps coming! Slowly but surely, menu details are trickling out about this the food and drink options for the 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.

Disney Food Blog Epcot Flower and Garden Festival (2)

Just a couple of days ago, we shared with you some of the new food items that are scheduled to appear in the Outdoor Kitchens around World Showcase. Today we’re bringing you an update on a few of the drinks you can look forward to sampling!

And check out a beautiful and delicious dessert option in France — plus some fun news about FREE cooking demos at this year’s Festival!

New Flavors at France’s Fleur de Lys Outdoor Kitchen

We were thrilled to bring you a first look at a fun new option debuting in the Fleur de Lys Outdoor Kitchen. And today, we have another gorgeous pic to share!

I had the chance last week to sample a couple of the new offerings that will be at the Fleur de Lys Booth this year! The Ice Pop features a combination of French Peach Iced Tea, Grand Marnier Peach Raspberry Liqueur, and Vodka. It’s going to be perfect for those warm Florida Spring days!

You can absolutely taste the Grand Marnier and Vodka in this one! It’s amazing — even if you’re not an iced tea fan! And the texture isn’t exactly “frozen” due to the alcohol, so it’s very easy to eat.

A Grown-Up Ice Pop Debuts at the Fleur de Lys Outdoor Kitchen in the France Pavilion

A Grown-Up Ice Pop Debuts at the Fleur de Lys Outdoor Kitchen in the France Pavilion

And while we told you about the brand new Macaron Guimauve à la Fraise (Strawberry Marshmallow Macaron) that will be offered at Fleur de Lys, today I’m sharing a first look!

Macaron Guimauve à la Fraise (Strawberry Marshmallow Macaron)

Macaron Guimauve à la Fraise (Strawberry Marshmallow Macaron)

It’s a great celebration of the fresh Florida Strawberry Season that’s underway right now. The crunchy-and-soft cookie and the marshmallow are super-sweet, but the strawberry inside is still a bit tart. It’s an amazing contradiction in flavors.

New Beverages Coming to the 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

The name of the game is Fresh Flavor in the Outdoor Kitchens for 2015. Look for fruits and veggies to be featured everywhere — even in the libations!

Key Limen Wine from Florida Orange Groves has been a Festival feature in the past (we’ve seen it at the Food and Wine Festival, too). But this year, there might be something a little different on the horizon, as Key Lime Sparkling Wine is set to debut at the Florida Fresh Kitchen. We are also looking forward to another fun fruit-based option — Ace Pineapple Hard Cider.

Ace Pineapple Cider -- the First Pineapple Cider in the World and Perfect for the Flower and Garden Festival!

Ace Pineapple Hard Cider — the First Pineapple Cider in the World and Perfect for the Flower and Garden Festival!

In addition, there will be a Sparkling Pineapple Wine; look for both at the Pineapple Promenade Kiosk.

New cocktails are also set to debut. We’re getting our first look at the La Tizana that we told you about previously. A fruit punch that’s inspired by the flavors of Venezuela, the bright punch includes Orange Juice, Lime Juice, Banana Puree, and Grenadine. It’s garnished with chopped fresh fruit. Find it at the Botanas Botánico Outdoor Kitchen, a new booth to the Festival this year.

Edgy Urban Eats will feature the Urban Mary, which takes cues from the classic Bloody Mary recipe. Spicy Tomato Juice, Lime Juice, and Worcestershire are mixed together and garnished with a Pickled Green Bean and Micro Greens.

New Beverages Set to Debut at the 2015 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Include Pineapple Cider, X, and an Urban Mary

New Beverages Set to Debut at the 2015 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Include Pineapple Cider, La Tizana, and an Urban Mary

And something that we love this year — La Tizana and the Urban Mary are available with or without alcohol, so you can enjoy the beverages regardless of your preference. Opt for a splash of RHUM Orange Liqueur to La Tizana, or add shot of Vodka to the Urban Mary.

Look for lots of interesting Craft Beer options as well, like the Shipyard’s Maple Bacon Stout at Barbecues and Brews.

Fresh Flower and Garden Beverage Options in the Mexico Pavilion

The Mexico Pavilion will also provide market-inspired fresh flavors in some of their artisan Margaritas. We’re looking forward to sampling the Blueberry Pomegranate Margarita at Jardin de Fiestas Outdoor Kitchen in the Mexico Pavilion. Other fun options that will be available include a Tequila Liqueur Flight and [Read more…]

Celebrate National Margarita Day Tomorrow, Walt Disney World Style!

We are happy to start a little early celebrating National Margarita Day tomorrow, February 22! Now, this is a holiday I can get behind!!!

If you’ve been here for any amount of time at all, then you know I lurve a good Margarita. (If you’re new here at DFB — welcome…and FYI, I love margaritas!) And some of my very favorites can be found right at Walt Disney World.

Grab some limes and tequila and let’s take a look at our must-drink margs!

Avocado Margarita at La Cava del Tequila

The AguacateAvocado Margarita — from La Cava del Tequila has been one of my very favorites from the first time I sampled it!

It’s a wonderful, made-to-order concoction that blends Avocado, Lime Juice, White Tequila, and Melon Liqueur for a flavor that’s like no other!

Avocado Margarita

Avocado Margarita

My favorite thing about this drink is the perfect balance of the creamy consistency with a sweet flavor — not to mention the tequila :-). A little Agave Nectar and the liqueur balance the flavors nicely.

And thanks to an awesome reader, you and I can even make this one at home today with this recipe, and celebrate this holiday in style!

Blood Orange Margarita at Flying Fish Cafe

Blood Orange is one of my favorite flavors. After all, with the complex, less sweet, almost bitter taste it imparts, it’s a little more interesting than plain old orange…orange.

And it’s especially delicious when paired with other flavors in a margarita. We’ve enjoyed versions of this festive cocktail at San Angel Inn Ristorante, but my favorite one can be found at Flying Fish Cafe.

Blood Orange Margarita

Blood Orange Margarita

If you’re anything like me, if you order this, it’ll be gone pretty quickly! SO good!

Italian Margarita at Via Napoli

One thing that you can count on at Disney when it comes to food and drink is a fun, fusion approach to some of your favorites. Case in point: the Italian Margarita in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion!

I first discovered this delicious drink at Via Napoli, the Italy Pavilion’s fantastic spot for pizza.

Italian Margarita

Italian Margarita

But it’s proven to be so popular, it’s also been available at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in recent years! And fortunately, you can still order it at Italy’s Gelato Stand.

Italian Margarita at the Food and Wine Festival's Italy Booth!

Italian Margarita at the Food and Wine Festival’s Italy Booth!

Flavored with a smooth combination of [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Best Character Dining for YOU!

Character Dining! What’s a trip to Walt Disney World without at least one meal shared with your favorite Disney Characters?

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There’s simply no better way to kill two birds with one stone at Disney. You enjoy a hearty meal — oftentimes, it’s all-you-care-to-enjoy — and you get to interact with your favorite characters. Best of all — they come to you! There’s no waiting in line for hours to see them.

But you may think that a character dining experience isn’t for you if you don’t have kids in your party, or if your kiddos are as tall as you now. Or maybe you fear that the excitement and stimulation — not to mention all those trips back and forth to the buffet — will leave you and your toddler exhausted before you even get to the Parks.

Well, I happen to think that there’s a character dining experience just right for you, regardless of who makes up your unique party. So today, let’s look at a few tips that I’ve put together from countless Character Dining Meals — courtesy of the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2015!

And if you like what you see here, there are a lot more where these came from! To see all of our advice for choosing just the right Character Dining Experience, pick up your copy of the Guide today for $4 off using code 2015 right here!

Character Dining With a Toddler: ‘Ohana Best Friends Breakfast

You’ve decided that the time is right for your pre-schooler to enjoy breakfast with Character Appeal for the first time. Now, how in the ‘World do you choose the meal that’s right for you?

Well, one thing to keep in mind is that most of the character dining experiences offer a buffet spread. This is great news when it comes to value. But juggling trips to the buffet, photo ops with characters, and a toddler who is stimulated to the max can be a challenge. So one of my favorite tips is to enjoy character dining that offers a sit-down…and stay down…meal. And one of the best is the Best Friends Breakfast at ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

To begin, well. Mickey in a Hawaiian Shirt. Best.

Say Aloha to Mickey and Friends at 'Ohana

Say Aloha to Mickey and Friends at ‘Ohana

But then, you have platters of Pastry and Bread, Fresh Fruit, and a Bountiful Breakfast Skillet brought to your table! And it’s as much as you want. And you don’t have to get up a SINGLE time to get any of it!

Family Breakfast Platter at 'Ohana

Family Breakfast Platter at ‘Ohana

Friendly servers also roam the dining area with Mickey Waffles! And you can ask for seconds. And thirds.

Mickey Waffles

Mickey Waffles

They even have Stitch waffles for the younger set.

Stitch Waffles for the Littles

Stitch Waffles for the Littles

Mickey, Lilo, and Stitch share relaxed times with you and pose for lots of pictures. And there’s no end to the smiles during the Coconut Races. It’s one of my favorite ways to kick off a Disney Day!

Character Dining For Grownups: Garden Grill

You may have witnessed the — shall we say, exuberant — spirit that pervades Chef Mickey’s at breakfast and dinner time. This character dining experience at Disney’s Contemporary is one of the Resort’s most popular, and can be viewed from above as you whirl by on the Monorail. It can get right down raucous with excited children and loud music and the inevitable napkin twirling.

And that’s totally fine, if you’re up for it. But if you aren’t, you may leave with a splitting headache.

If you’re an adults-only group, there’s probably a good chance you’d prefer to keep it on the quiet side. You know what? You can still enjoy character dining and all the great photo ops. And Garden Grill in Epcot’s Future World is a great spot for it.

Garden Grill is located in The Land building. And while the character dining is super fun, the restaurant has another unique attribute: it revolves!

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill -- The Farmhouse

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill — The Farmhouse

Not at supersonic speed, of course. You won’t be getting motion sickness while you dine. But you will enjoy an ever-changing view of the Living with the Land attraction as you enjoy your dinner. And in between the changing tableaus, expect a few fun visitors!

Farmer Mickey

Farmer Mickey, Chip & Dale, and Pluto Join You for Dinner

As for eats, there isn’t a lot of traipsing about, as the Garden Grill is family style meal. You’ll enjoy Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast, an all-you-care-to-enjoy meal of [Read more…]

News! More Menu Details from the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Outdoor Kitchens

It’s an exciting time, as we count down the days until the 2015 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival gets underway!

Of course, around here, we’re most interested in the Outdoor Kitchens! We’re so excited to see the return of these kiosks stationed around World Showcase.

Disney Food Blog Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

2015 will mark the third consecutive year that guests of the Festival can enjoy sips and tapas-sized dishes, themed to celebrate the bounty of the garden.

And while we’re still awaiting the full menus, we do have some news regarding some of the new dishes that will debut at this year’s festival.

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Outdoor Kitchens

First off, let’s discuss which Outdoor Kitchens you can expect to see this year. While we haven’t heard word which Kitchen from 2014 won’t return, we know that Botanas Botánico will debut. Check out this post about Botanas Botánico to learn more about its menu.

Fleur de Lys

Fleur de Lys in the France Pavilion Returns

That means we anticipate at least one 2014 Kitchen will be absent, as we expect there to be 11 kitchens.

So far, we know the following will return:

  • Fleur de Lys in the France Pavilion
  • Taste of Marrakesh in the Morocco Pavilion
  • Hanami in the Japan Pavilion
  • The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews Outdoor Kitchen in the America Pavilion
  • Primavera Kitchen in the Italy Pavilion
  • Lotus House in the China Pavilion
  • Jardin de Fiestas in the Mexico Pavilion
  • Florida Fresh
  • Pineapple Promenade
  • Urban Farm Eats

Does that mean that the Buttercup Cottage in the UK Pavilion gets the axe this year? We super hope not — the Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare and the Lemon Scones were to die for last year!!

As far as dishes go, there are certainly some exciting things that we can’t wait to try. We hear that fan favorites, like Frushi, will return.

Frushi (Fresh strawberries, pineapple and cantaloupe rolled with coconut rice, atop a raspberry sauce sprinkled with toasted coconut and whipped cream)

Frushi (Fresh Strawberries, Pineapple and Cantaloupe Rolled with Coconut Rice, atop a Raspberry Sauce Sprinkled with Toasted Coconut and Whipped Cream)

Chefs will also take advantage of the Florida strawberry season once more by offering Beijing Candied Strawberries.

Beijing-Style Candied Strawberries Return to the Lotus House

Beijing-Style Candied Strawberries Return to the Lotus House

New for 2015! New Flower and Garden Festival Dishes Debut

But we also have a few details on brand new menu items. Look for the [Read more…]

Tips From the DFB Guide: Secret, Must-Have Orders That Aren’t On Any Menu…

OK, here’s where it gets good.

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I love showing you guys pictures of what you can get at Disney restaurants. It’s the best way for you to judge for yourself whether or not you think a restaurant is right for you.

But sometimes I just gotta share a few secrets that I’ve discovered. Things that aren’t actually ON the menu, exactly, but that are truly worth getting and trying.

And today, I’m sharing another great tip from the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World DiningOrdering “Off the Menu” Items in Walt Disney World Restaurants.

And if you like what you see here, there are a lot more where these came from! To see our whole list of must-have “off the menu” items for 2015, pick up your copy of the Guide today for $4 off using code 2015 right here!

Spicy Tomato Butter at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

Recently, we’ve been enjoying some truly incredible meals at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano. This quirky eatery in Disney’s Hollywood Studios has plenty of traditional Italian fare on offer, but they can also surprise with a creative twist or two.

Strip Steak

Mama Melrose Makes an Incredible Steak and Mac and Cheese Combo!

During my last couple of visits, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy their Spicy Tomato Butter! You’ll find this amazing sauce on their Oak-Fired Mussels, but if you’re not interested in ordering said Mussels, consider requesting some of the Spicy Tomato Butter with your bread.

Bread with Butters and Olive Oil

Bread with Spicy Tomato Butter and Other Accompaniments

And I’m so glad I asked the server for this “off the menu” request, because that butter is incredible! Spicy, savory, and rich, it’s delicious served with bread.

In fact, on one recent visit, the server actually brought it to me slightly melted, like a dipping sauce! Heaven.

Cranberry Sauce at Liberty Tree Tavern

Have you had the pleasure of enjoying dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom? If not, what are you waiting for?? ;-)

Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom

Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom

And if so, then you know that part of what makes it so awesome is that it looks a lot like America’s favorite meal — a Thanksgiving Day Feast!

Roast Pork, Turkey, and Beef with Cornbread Stuffing and Chutney at Liberty Tree Tavern

Roast Pork, Turkey, and Beef with Cornbread Stuffing and Chutney at Liberty Tree Tavern

But there is one key ingredient missing when they bring the family-style dishes to your table; the meal doesn’t automatically include Cranberry Sauce. And I don’t know about you, but it just isn’t Turkey Day without that little gem on the table.

Cranberry Sauce at Liberty Tree Tavern

Cranberry Sauce at Liberty Tree Tavern

But never fear — they have Cranberry Sauce — and it’s pretty fantastic! You just have to request it. It seems that not all guests love it as much as you and I, so it ended up being thrown out quite a lot of the time.

So order it with abandon if you like a little Cranberry Sauce on the side of your meal — they’re happy to bring it to you, included in the cost of the meal!

Fried Mozzarella at Via Napoli

Speaking of Liberty Tree Tavern, they used to have a wonderful Tavern Fried Cheese Appetizer that included Deep Fried Cheese Curds. They were out of this world.

Sadly, you can’t get them in the Colonial American-themed spot — but I DID find something similar at [Read more…]

News! “A Cooking Safari with Mickey” Cookbook Coming Soon to Disney Parks

Pam Brandon and the Chefs at Disney have put together yet another cookbook to share some of our favorite dishes — and we have a feeling we’ll be adding this one to our shelves soon!

A Cooking Safari with Mickey will feature recipes from the restaurants of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The emphasis will be on the cuisine of South Africa and India.

A Cooking Safari with Mickey Cookbook Cover

A Cooking Safari with Mickey Cookbook Cover

Could it be…is it possible…we’ll finally have the secret to the incredible [Read more…]

Sneak Peek! Ice Pop Frozen Cocktail Coming to the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

It is less than one month until Epcot officially welcomes Spring with the 2015 Flower & Garden Festival beginning on March 4, 2015!

Disney Food Blog Epcot Flower and Garden Festival (2)

Even among all the gorgeous topiaries and fun Garden Rocks Concert Series, what we at the DFB look forward to most is the Outdoor Kitchens. They’re similar to the Marketplace Booths at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, offering plates and sips in appetizer portions allowing you to sample a wide variety of flavors throughout your World Showcase stroll.

And today, thanks to the twitter feed of L’artisan des Glaces, we’ve got a glimpse of a new offering coming to the Outdoor Kitchen in France: the Ice Pop Frozen Cocktail!

Ice Pop Frozen Cocktail © L'artisan des Glaces

Ice Pop Frozen Cocktail © L’artisan des Glaces

It’s Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach, vodka, and iced tea. While [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland: The Snowberry Twist from Maurice’s Treats

Frozen Fun has taken over the Disneyland Resort, and with it comes new entertainment, activities, shopping, and fun eats!

The Snowberry Twist has debuted at Maurice’s Treats and it’s a pretty tasty addition to the other “Twists” that they serve up!

Maurice's Treats in Disneyland's Fantasy Faire

Maurice’s Treats in Disneyland’s Fantasy Faire

The Snowberry Twist is $3.89; it’s blueberry filled and topped with edible glitter and blue sugar crystals.

Snowberry Twists on Display

Snowberry Twists on Display

It’s hard to see in the photo, but the edible glitter is in the blueberry filling.  This treat is pretty & delicious!

Snowberry Twist Close Up

Snowberry Twist Close Up

Snowberry Twists are sort of a hybrid of a croissant and a jelly donut.  The pastry is flaky and served up warm.  They are also generously sized and perfect for sharing.  The blueberry filling is not overly sweet or artificial tasting.  I definitely enjoyed the flavor.  It’s no Pumpkin Twist, but it was still great!  The filling is also thick, making the twist easy to eat without getting too messy!

Snowberry Twist Close Up

Snowberry Twist Close Up

If you’re a Frozen Fan, I suggest grabbing a Snowberry Twist and settling in for a showing of Frozen at the Royal Theater.  If you’re not a Frozen fan, grab one and get the heck out of that area!

Regardless, twists from Maurice’s Treats are not to be missed. It’s a great little snack stop in the heart of Fantasy Faire.

Have you been to Maurice’s Treats? Do you have a favorite twist? Are you looking forward to trying the Snowberry Twist? Let us know in the comments below!

Heather Sievers is the Disney Food Blog’s Dining in Disneyland columnist. See more of her columns here!