Review: The Artist’s Palette at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort

Welcome back to Saratoga Springs Resort!

Saratoga Springs is a Disney Vacation Club Resort, with easy access to Downtown Disney by boat, bus, or foot path. Tucked into the main building that houses reception, a merchandise shop, and the Turf Club Bar & Grill (the resort’s Table Service restaurant and lounge), you’ll also find the Counter Service option for Saratoga Springs: The Artist’s Palette.

Having really enjoyed dinner at The Turf Club Bar and Grill a few months ago, I was looking forward to spending a little more time checking out The Artist’s Palette.

And since the hunt is currently on for the Triple Crown with “American Pharaoh” leading the way after winning the Kentucky Derby, what better time to visit this equestrian-themed resort once more?

Building housing Artist's Palette and merchandise shop

Building housing Artist’s Palette and merchandise shop

The Artist's Palette Sign

The Artist’s Palette Sign

Atmosphere

While Saratoga Springs Resort itself is themed after upstate New York — a place known for spas and horse-racing (hence, the Turf Club), The Artist’s Palette is modeled to resemble a city artist’s loft.

The Artist's Palette Seating

The Artist’s Palette Indoor Seating

The Artist's Palette seating

The Artist’s Palette Indoor Seating

Wood and brick walls, along with a lofted ceiling and lots of windows, provide a peaceful, simple setting that allows the bold and colorful lighting fixtures to really pop. I don’t know if this was the intention, or maybe it was just having painting on my mind due to the theme, but all the primary colors remind me of paint colors on a white palette just before mixing.

Signature Lighting Fixtures

Signature Lighting Fixtures

Lighting Fixture

Lighting Fixture

Naturally, large pieces of artwork complete the scene.

Artwork and Lighting

Artwork and Lighting

Artwork

Artwork

During your visit, be sure to check out the work of any little budding artists staying at Saratoga Springs ;).

Artists of the Day

Artists of the Day

Work of the Artists of the Day

Work of an Artist of the Day

Outside, you can find a few tables — not to mention rocking chairs — as well.

Outdoor Seating

Outdoor Seating

These overlook the main pool area, and face the beginning of the waterfall at High Rock Springs. Overall, it manages to feel calm and serene, even while being the busiest area of the resort.

View from outdoor seating

View from outdoor seating

High Rock Springs

High Rock Springs

And, since we’re outside, I’ll show you something that has absolutely nothing to do with food ;). This one’s for my [Read more…]

Fun Find: Vintage Attraction Poster Mugs

When the Marketplace Co-op opened up in Downtown Disney’s Marketplace last year, it was clear that Disney had taken steps to create some kitchen and home merchandise that really spoke to Disney fans through the Disney Centerpiece shop, with much of it focused on vintage designs from the earliest days of Disneyland and Disney World.

Marketplace Co-op in Downtown Disney

Marketplace Co-op in Downtown Disney

Things only continued to get better when Memento Mori — the first shop dedicated entirely to the Haunted Mansion — opened later in the year.

Memento Mori gift shop

Memento Mori gift shop

The thing is, so much great stuff came out last year, that it was almost hard to take it all in! So I don’t think I realized how cool these vintage attraction poster mugs are until I got to check them out in more detail on my most recent Disney World trip. These days, you can also find them in other places outside of the Co-op, like Magic Kingdom’s Confectionery.

Each mug has four attraction posters on it, so you’re looking at different views of the same four mugs in the pictures below (just click on any of the images to enlarge).

The first blue mug on the left features absolute favorites and classics across the board, from Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, as well as the Monorail System.

Vintage Attraction Poster Mugs

Vintage Attraction Poster Mugs

You’ll notice the purple mug is entirely dedicated to Fantasyland (including Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, which is [Read more…]

Guest Review: Magic Kingdom Fireworks Dessert Party

UPDATE: A NEW VERSION of the Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party debuts on Sunday, July 5th, at Magic Kingdom.

Fireworks-dessert-party-hostess

It will be very similar to the Tomorrowland Terrace event featured in this post when it comes to views of the fireworks and dessert options, but this new event will include reserved seats, a sparkling cider toast, and a few new menu items (chocolate-dipped strawberries, chocolate mousse, ice cream, seasonal fruit, cheese assortments, Disney character cupcakes, hot chocolate, and signature lemonades). The price for the new dessert party is $49 for adults, and $29 for children with tax included.

Welcome guest reviewer, Liz Jostes , as she treats us to a review of the Magic Kingdom’s Fireworks Dessert Party. This fun Walt Disney World event takes place at the Tomorrowland Terrace restaurant.

The Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party is held at the Magic Kingdom during the Wishes fireworks show. It is a “hard-ticket event”, meaning there is an additional cost to attend the dessert party and seats are limited.

Tickets for the dessert party can now be purchased at the 180 day mark along with your other Advance Dining Reservations. The dessert party begins about an hour before Wishes, and is held at Tomorrowland Terrace. Table assignments are made at the time of booking, which is nice because you don’t have to worry about checking in to the party as soon as it opens that evening. Your table is there waiting for you, whenever it is that you arrive!

Atmosphere

You can get to Tomorrowland Terrace from Main Street (by walking past The Plaza Restaurant) or from Tomorrowland near Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.

Tomorrowland-Terrace-Sign

There were a few PhotoPass photographers set up near the entrance to the party, which makes for a great opportunity for an evening photo with the lighted castle as the backdrop.

We waited in line for a few minutes before being seated. Each pre-assigned table had the last name of the party and the number of guests. Our hostess explained to us how the party worked, then told us to head over to the dessert area to choose what we wanted. She took our stroller from us and parked it with the other strollers as we made our way to the desserts.

Reserved Seating

Reserved Seating

Eats

There were 2 lines for desserts, with the cold drink station and ice cream sundae bar in the middle, and the coffee station across from that. The desserts were the same in either line, so it didn’t matter which line you got into. The desserts were unlimited, and you could go back as many times as you’d like.

Ice Cream Sundae Station

Ice Cream Sundae Station

Unfortunately, none of the desserts were labeled so we had to guess what may be inside each one. We grabbed what looked good to us and figured we’d give them a taste. You can tell from the photos that most of the trays of desserts were in need of being refilled when we were going through the line.

Fruit

Fruit

More desserts

More desserts

Cookies

Cookies

Dipped in chocolate

Banana Puffs Dipped in chocolate

Chocolate Boats

Chocolate Boats

Desserts

Desserts

My dessert selections

My dessert selections

I wish I could say that the desserts were wonderful, but I can’t. A couple things were truly wonderful (like the cannoli), but all in all, we were underwhelmed with most of what we tried. I’ve had much better desserts and sweet treats throughout the parks. (I’d definitely choose Main Street Confectionery over almost anything we tried at the dessert party.)

As we were finishing up our desserts and enjoying our coffee (and the comfortable chair!), we prepared to watch the castle projection show and the fireworks. The view from Tomorrowland Terrace is a good one, albeit somewhat off-center from the castle. You will have a good view of the [Read more…]

Three Ideas For an Unconventional Disney World Date Night

Call us romantics, but we think that Walt Disney World is a GREAT place for a date night!

Watch the Fireworks from the Polynesian Resort Beach!

Do You Love to Watch Magic Kingdom Fireworks From the Polynesian’s Beach During Your Disney Date Night? We Do!

But we like to take a very broad approach to date night here at Disney Food Blog. So we decided that it would be all kinds of funnnz to come up with some radical departures for how to spend your Day o’ Love. I mean sure, chocolate-dipped strawberries and Champagne are awesome, and a fancy meal is sure to impress. But more than anything, we just wanna have fun!

If you’re with us, check out our Top 3 Ideas for Your Unconventional Date Night, Disney World Style!

Swap a Fancy Meal for FastPasses

Fancy meal? Whatevs. Who wants to get dressed up and sit around for hours?? You’re at Disney — get out there and enjoy it!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Snuggle Up for a Ride on Disney’s Newest Attraction, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train!

Instead of dinner at a signature restaurant, skip straight to the fun, and schedule FastPasses for three of your favorite rides together (and make sure at least one of them is a dark ride. ;-) )

Spaceship Earth, How We Love You

Spaceship Earth, How We Lurve You

Getting hungry after all those adventures? Share your favorite savory snacks. The Lucky Combo from Joy of Tea in Epcot’s China Pavilion would be perfect!

Lucky Combo from Joy of Tea in Epcot's China Pavilion

Lucky Combo from Joy of Tea in Epcot’s China Pavilion

Or split a Waffle Sandwich from Sleepy Hollow Refreshments in Magic Kingdom.

Chicken Waffle Sandwich from Magic Kingdom's Sleepy Hollow Refreshments

Chicken Waffle Sandwich from Magic Kingdom’s Sleepy Hollow Refreshments

They’re definitely big enough to share!

Get the Kids Involved!

Spending more time together as a family always figures high on our list of priorities. And kiddos especially love some one on one time with Mom and Dad. So how about taking a different approach to your next evening out. Make a “date” with your littles!

One fun idea would be to split up for fun Mom/Son, Dad/Daughter “dates”. Go on separate dinner dates and let the kids choose the restaurants! ESPN Club at Disney’s BoardWalk is a great choice for your budding baseball or soccer star!

ESPN Club (with a line to get in on Game Day!)

ESPN Club is a Great Place to Take Your Favorite Sports Fan!

But save room, because you can all meet up for some ice cream later and compare notes! How about sharing a No Way Jose from Beaches and Cream four ways?? (Want more ice cream suggestions? Check our our Ice Cream Gallery!)

No Way Jose at Beaches and Cream

Split a No Way Jose from Beaches and Cream!

Top off the evening with an outdoor movie at your resort before tucking in for pleasant dreams.

Play with Your Food

Have you always wanted to [Read more…]

Review: Anna’s Happy Birthday Cupcake (A “Frozen Fever” Treat)

Happy Birthday, Princess Anna!

All over Disney World and Disneyland, guests are invited to celebrate the birthday of Frozen’s Princess Anna (she’s a princess, right?). This goes hand in hand with the Frozen Fever film short where our Arendelle friends attempt to throw her a surprise party, and Anna’s Happy Birthday Cupcake is one of three Frozen Fever treats brought out for the occasion.

Anna's Happy Birthday Cupcake

Anna’s Happy Birthday Cupcake

I grabbed mine at Epcot’s Kringla Bakeri og Kafe in Norway, but this is just one of the spots where you can find it. From parks to resorts, you can grab it at several locations including the Beach Club Marketplace and Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons in Disney World, and Jolly Holiday Bakery and The Coffee House in Disneyland (find the full list of locations here!).

When I mention our “Arendelle Friends,” that clearly includes Olaf, who tops this treat. (Incidentally, you’ll also find this white chocolate piece topping Olaf’s Perfect Sundae Day.)

Olaf Topper

Olaf Topper

The cupcake is a simply a basic yellow cake— which, when I think about it, goes along pretty well with [Read more…]

Review: Sweet Treats at Main Street Bakery Starbucks in Magic Kingdom

Time for another visit to the Main Street Bakery in Magic Kingdom!

It’s long been a DFB tradition to stop by Main Street Bakery first thing to kick off the day with a morning pastry. In the past, I’ve also loved popping into this spot to see what’s new in the way of cupcakes.

While things aren’t exactly the same as they were in the days before MSB became a Starbucks location, you will still find an assortment of breakfast offerings in the morning and sweet treats throughout the day. (Check out our recent review of the Bacon and Gouda Artisan Sandwich.)

And a sweet snack was what my friend and I were after during our late night stop into the coffee shop recently. Let’s check out what we found.

Mocha Cupcake

While many (MANY) of my sentimental favorites, like their amazing cinnamon rolls, are no longer available at Main Street Bakery, the spot has continued to offer some cupcake options that you don’t find at your neighborhood Starbucks. That’s cool, right? I mean, it’s not as awesome as that cinnamon roll, but still. (And if you’re missing the cinnamon roll as much as me, head back to Gaston’s Tavern, where you’ll find a very similar model. Or make it at home with this recipe.)

But back to cupcakes. On our visit, we decided to give the Mocha Cupcake a try.

Mocha Cupcake

Mocha Cupcake

This is mostly chocolate on chocolate. We didn’t really discern much in the way of coffee flavor, although the garnish of Chocolate-Covered Espresso Beans would indicate there’s some java there.

(You’ll have to excuse my lighting. I got this cupcake at around 9:00 at night while the parade was passing by and the Starbucks was PACKED. It was tough to jostle my way to a good location without weird yellow nighttime light.)

Mocha Cupcake -- Cross Section

Mocha Cupcake — Cross Section

Ultimately, while this was fine, I’ve had better. Unless you’re just dying for a chocolate cupcake, I’d probably pass this one up in favor of something more interesting…

Salted Caramel Square with Pecans

…Like the Salted Caramel Square with Pecans.

Ok. Maybe I’m just a sucker for anything that combines the words “salt” and “caramel”. This was very good, but the pretzel game is strong in here; so it was much more crunchy and less creamy than I expected.

Salted Caramel Square with Pecans

Salted Caramel Square with Pecans

Salted Caramel Tart

But it was this final option that truly converted me to Starbucks’ sweets. Let me introduce you to the [Read more…]

News! “Rebel Hangar — A Star Wars Lounge Experience” Reservations Available NOW

UPDATE: Great news! Disney has opened online Advance Dining Reservations for Rebel Hangar for WEEKDAYS in addition to Star Wars Weekends, from May 15 through June 14th!

Star Wars Weekends begin at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 15th and WE. CAN’T. WAIT!

Especially now, since there’s a whole new dining hangout for all you Rebels out there coming to Echo Lake: the Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience!

Here’s what we know: according to Disney, the Rebel Hangar was “once a known hangout of Rebel pilots, aliens, and smugglers.” Themeing of the atmosphere will be a major part of the experience, with abandoned spacecraft and remnants of vehicles framing the entry. But themeing of the FOOD seems to be just as much of a draw!

Among the items on the menu: some Fruit and Cheese Sabers

© Disney

© Disney

And Ensalada Naboo!

© Disney

© Disney

The Slider Sampler featuring “The Sith” barbecue-braised brisket and “The Jedi” barbecued pulled chicken features items for your inner Jedi or your Dark Side.

© Disney

© Disney

A lovely Trio of Thermal Detonators (aka spicy pork wings), anyone ;) ?

© Disney

© Disney

Check out the Pilot’s Pomme Frites with everyone’s favorite Wookie!

© Disney

© Disney

Chips and SITH!!! Can you even handle it?!?

© Disney

© Disney

I’m already loving The Dark Fried Chicken [Read more…]

Review: New Desserts at Tamu Tamu Refreshments in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

So, if you’ve been following along recently, you know that LOTS of changes are in store for Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Among them, Starbucks is due to open in mid-June, and the new Harambe Market will bring us FOUR new walkup food windows (along with merchandise shops) when it opens in late May. Add to that there are still rumors floating around about the possible addition of a Table Service restaurant to be located in part of what is currently Pizzafari… well, suffice it to say, the dining options at Animal Kingdom are certainly expanding!

With so many new food stops in the works, it’s bound to affect some of the established eateries around the park. In fact, we’ve already begun to see hints of change starting at Tamu Tamu Refreshments.

Tamu Tamu Refreshments

Tamu Tamu Refreshments

You see, it’s located in the village of Harambe in Animal Kingdom’s Africa, so it’s just across the way from where the Market will be.

Location of Tamu Tamu in Animal Kingdom's Africa

Location of Tamu Tamu in Animal Kingdom’s Africa

Since the Harambe Market will have a whole slew of new entrees to choose from, the menu at Tamu Tamu just switched over to focus entirely on desserts and drinks as opposed to its previous entrees like curry dishes and the Pulled Beef Sandwich.

Lucky me, I had a group of friends visiting Animal Kingdom who offered to try them ALL!

Taste-Testers!!

Taste-Testers!!

Or perhaps I should say, “Lucky THEM,” because altogether there are FIVE desserts on the menu!

All-new Tamu Tamu menu

All-new Tamu Tamu menu

While the Pineapple Whip Soft-serve (with Dark or Coconut Rum) has been available since last May, the Chocolate Waffle with Espresso Mousse, Double Chocolate-Chip Ice Cream Sandwich, Mickey Ice Cream Chocolate Cookie Sundae, and Chocolate-covered Espresso Beans are all BRAND NEW to Tamu Tamu!

Tamu Tamu desserts

Tamu Tamu desserts

Let’s take them one by one, starting with the Chocolate Waffle topped with an Espresso Mousse.

Chocolate Waffle with Espresso Mousse

Chocolate Waffle with Espresso Mousse

The group reported that the waffle was [Read more…]

Review: Tutto Gusto in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

It’s time once again to look in on one of my favorite “hidden” spots in Epcot — Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar!

Tutto Gusto, located on the left as you travel through the Italy Pavilion toward Via Napoli at the back, hasn’t been open for very long. But in the short span of three years, Tutto Gusto has become a part of the fabric of World Showcase.

With its commitment to offering small plates that feature authentic Italian cuisine, Tutto Gusto has continued to be a DFB favorite. But you know me — I’m never content to continue recommending a spot unless I know for sure that it still  deserves to be recommended!

So, in the name of research, a friend and I headed there to grab a light dinner during a recent visit to Walt Disney World. We tried some new things and revisited some favorites. Let’s check it out.

Atmosphere

Although the sign for Tutto Gusto is perched high and prominent, it’s still sort of easy to miss it if you aren’t looking for it. You may mistake it for another entrance to neighboring Tutto Italia, if you notice it at all.

Tutto Italia and Gusto Wine Cellar

Tutto Italia and Gusto Wine Cellar

The entrance sits back a little, but Cast Members are usually flanking the door, and you’ll also notice the menus posted outside. Pay attention and you’ll find it.

Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar

Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar

Walk in and (after your eyes adjust to the darkened area) you’ll notice that the bar is front and center, serving as the small venue’s main feature.

Gusto Bar

Gusto Bar

Wine is king here, but you’ll also find an increasingly interesting array of Italian craft beers. Tutto Gusto also offers a full liquor bar. Check out the Italian-inspired cocktail menu, or order your favorite. Whatever you’re looking for, they can make it.

Gusto Bar

Gusto Bar

Because this is a wine bar, however, much of the real estate is given over to vino. Amuse yourself as you wait by checking out the ever-changing variety of Italian wines that are available by the glass or bottle.

Wine Fridge

Wine Fridge

Wine Fridge

Wine Fridge

But Tutto Gusto has more to offer than just beverages. From the get go, I prized this spot for their amazing array of small plates. There’s a display of some of the offerings to whet your appetite.

Antipasti Showcase at Tutto Gusto

Antipasti Showcase at Tutto Gusto

As is usually the case when you’re dining anywhere in the Disney universe, be sure to look up! The details of a spot usually include some really cool lighting, and Gusto is no exception.

Wine Bottle Lighting

Wine Bottle Lighting

You will find that Tutto Gusto can reach capacity rather easily — hence those Cast Members stationed at the doors. There isn’t a ton of seating here, but what you do find is rustic, cozy, and fairly comfortable. It is a little “close”, however, so if you prize privacy or personal space, you may want to look at the couch options.

Gusto Table

Gusto Table

Speaking of…you’ll find more comfy seating flanking the fireplace, another nice focal point in the small space.

Gusto Fireplace Area

Gusto Fireplace Area

Tables and stools here are low and well padded. It’s a great place to relax and catch up with friends, or to just take a breather from the bright sunshine.

Fireplace Area Seating at Tutto Gusto

Fireplace Area Seating at Tutto Gusto

And it truly is a beautiful location. Personally, I think they hit the themeing out of the park. Don’t you love the brick ceiling?

Tutto Gusto Seating

Tutto Gusto Seating

Having shown you around, I’m ready to get down to the serious business of [Read more…]

Sneak Peek: Harambe Marketplace Opens in Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Late May

It’s been fairly quiet in Disney’s Animal Kingdom as of late… but all that’s about to change! Disney has provided a few glimpses of what will be the new Harambe Market, opening in late May!

Harmabe Market

Harmabe Market © Disney

Disney shares that the story behind the Market revolves around it serving as a center of commerce and place of welcome for visitors from all around the world who come to the village in order to explore the animals of Africa on the reserve.

Harambe Marektplace

Harambe Marketplace © Disney

While the marketplace will also feature merchandise spots, food will be the focus, featuring four walk-up windows serving African-inspired street food, with seating for over 200 guests. The idea is to wander and find what catches your fancy, though you may find it hard to decide…

harambe market disneys animal kingdom 11

© Disney

Kitamu Grill will be serving up Skewered Chicken as as well as a Kabob Flatbread Sandwich.

harambe market disneys animal kingdom 1

Kitamu Grill © Disney

Kabob Flatbread Sandwich

Kabob Flatbread Sandwich © Disney

Skewered Chicken

Skewered Chicken © Disney

Famous Sausages will feature sausage Corn Dogs, with the unique distinction of [Read more…]