Review: Dockside Margaritas at Disney Springs Marketplace

Remember the Margarita Bar that was at Downtown Disney Marketplace? Great news! It’s been given a new look and a new name…and voila, Dockside Margaritas is born!

We first told you about the new-but-not-quite new spot a while back. And ever since then, I’ve been eager to drop by and check out the new scene. So on a sweltering day last week, that’s just what I did. Let’s have a look.

Dockside Margaritas

I gotta say it — it looks awesome.

In keeping with the new Florida-forward Disney Springs theme, Dockside Margaritas looks like a little stand you’d find in the middle of a citrus grove. But they’re selling stuff that’s waaaaaay better than orange juice.

Dockside Margaritas at Disney Springs Marketplace

Dockside Margaritas at Disney Springs Marketplace

The distressed, faded sign gives the spot built-in age. But the bright citrus green and yellow palette keeps it feeling fresh.

Dockside Margaritas -- Other side

Dockside Margaritas — Other side

The open-air feeling of the bar lends to that “grove stand” feel. You can walk up and order from three of the four sides. And regardless of where you are, you always have a great view of Village Lake.

Overhead Bar Menu and the View. You Can Access the Bar From Three Sides

Overhead Bar Menu and the View. You Can Access the Bar From Three Sides

As you approach Dockside from the front — meaning the side that faces the shops, not the water — the largest area of seating is just to the right of the building. And I think that it’s really beautifully done as well. A pergola overhead gives a little protection, but still allows for plenty of sunshine. Strands of overhead lights and a stand set up for a musician hint at a scene that promises to be relaxed but festive as the sun goes down.

Seating Area

Seating Area

I can’t wait to meet friends here at night for a drink (or two).

Another View of the Patio

Another View of the Patio

Looking back onto Dockside from the larger seating area, you also note that there is bar seating. Upon closer inspection, you see two bars actually — you can face the bar and chat with the friendly staff, or stare out over the water.

Waterfront Bar Seating

Waterfront Bar Seating

View of the New Pedestrian Bridge

View of the Pedestrian Bridge

But at this point, after much deliberation, it was time to settle on a drink. So let’s take a look at the options. And this is where it gets good.

While the old spot was fine, just fine, for ordering a handful of tequila-based drinks and a couple of other options, things are way [Read more…]

Memorial Day Sale! DFB Disney World Guidebook Discounts for a Limited Time!

As we mark a time of remembrance this Memorial Day weekend, we also look forward to fun celebrations with family and friends as Summer gets underway! And if you’re like me, that means one thing — vacation is JUST around the corner!

Whether you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World during the busy Summer season, or you have your eyes set on a Fall Food and Wine Festival Trip or a Holiday Extravaganza, we know one thing for sure: you need to make some plans.

Believe it or not, it’s already time to start making those Advance Dining Reservations! And we’re going to help you make sure you choose the best restaurants Disney has to offer. There are hundreds, after all!

We have three great offers for you to choose from! Read on for all the details, but hurry — you can only take advantage of these savings through Saturday, May 30!

dfb2015_guide_3d

The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2015

Our fully guaranteed, comprehensive e-Book offers more than 490 full-color pages to help you plan your very best Disney World trip ever!

With reviews, tips, expert advice, and hundreds of color photographs, you’ll get the biggest bang for your planning buck! And our handy e-Book format has been completely updated for your 2015-16 Disney World vacation.

Inside the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2015, you’ll find:

  • A 5-Step Strategy for Disney Dining Planning, covering everything you need to know from budgeting and booking to kids’ meals, dining discounts, and fireworks. 5 simple steps and you’re done!
  • A comprehensive and in-depth look at EVERY Disney World restaurant, kiosk, bar, and lounge, including our personal tips to ensure a positive and stress-free dining experience.
  • Four free, [Read more…]

What’s New Around Walt Disney World: May 20th, 2015

Sure, we may have said “So long” to the Flower and Garden Festival for this year, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to look forward to at Walt Disney World! Springs moves to summer as Disney World gears up for the busy vacation season, otherwise known as the “Coolest Summer Ever”!

©Disney

©Disney

And since it’s a very special time of year for Star Wars fans in particular, why don’t we start our ‘round the World tour at Hollywood Studios to see What’s New!

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Star Wars Weekends kicked off on May 15th!

Star Wars Weekends 2015

Star Wars Weekends 2015

The excitement! The pageantry!  The CUPCAKES! The Jabba the Hutt Cupcake has joined the Darth Vader and Yoda Cupcakes this year.

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

It can be found at counter service locations such as Starring Rolls, Backlot Express, The Trolley Car Cafe, and Tusken Fridge Raiders — the premiere Star Wars snack stop, located inside Darth’s Mall.

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

But cupcakes aren’t all that’s in store…

Star Wars snacks for Star Wars Weekends

Star Wars snacks for Star Wars Weekends

Like last year, several temporary pop-up bars can be found all over the park for the weekend events.

Star Wars Weekends Pop-up Bar

Star Wars Weekends Pop-up Bar

However, they feature all-new drinks this year. Each bar serves two out of of four drinks: The Mustafar and The Tatooine, or The Endor and The Alderaan.

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

We’ll be taking a closer look at those beverages soon, but once again this year, it’s ALL about the souvenir glow cubes: drinks come with either a Millennium Falcon glow cube or your very own mini Death Star.

Millennium Falcon Glow Cube

Millennium Falcon Glow Cube

The Jedi Mickey Character Dinner at Hollywood and Vine and Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast returned to Hollywood Studios earlier this month (on May the Fourth Be With You, naturally). But brand new to Star Wars Weekends this year is the Rebel Hangar — A Star Wars Lounge Experience, which has effectively converted half of Backlot Express into an abandoned spaceport in the Sullest system.

Entrance to Rebel Hangar

Entrance to Rebel Hangar

Chips and Sith at Rebel Hangar

Chips and Sith at Rebel Hangar

Blue Milk!

Blue Milk!

You can read all about this special month-long dining event featuring small plates and specialty cocktails in our full review of the Rebel Hangar!

Believe it or not, though, it’s not all Star Wars at Hollywood Studios… we’ve got some regular ol’ menu changes at some favorite Table Service restaurants to report as well. Sci-Fi Dine-In has added the Sci-Fi Popcorn Treat to the appetizer selection. It’s popcorn soup (for watching those old movies, of course!) with buffalo popcorn chicken and celery sticks, drizzled with blue cheese dressing.

Sci-Fi Dine-In

Sci-Fi Dine-In

New entrees include Grilled Marinated Salmon, while the Veggie Burger got a [Read more…]

Review: Jabba the Hutt Cupcake at Tusken Fridge Raiders at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Well, look who’s joined the Star Wars Weekends party… JABBA THE HUTT!!!

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Brand new this year, Jabba joins the Star Wars Character Cupcake line-up alongside the Darth Vader Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cupcake and the Yoda Chocolate Cupcake with Hazelnut Buttercream Icing. Jabba the Hutt and Yoda can be found at Starring Rolls, Trolley Car Cafe, Backlot Express, and Tusken Fridge Raiders.

Darth Vader and Yoda Cupcakes return this year

Darth Vader and Yoda Cupcakes return this year

The Darth Vader Cupcake is the only Star Wars Cupcake that can be found at ALL Hollywood Studios Counter Service locations.

So where, exactly, is Tusken Fridge Raiders? The premiere Star Wars snack stop for this year is tucked inside Watto’s Grotto inside of Darth’s Mall, the main merchandise location for Star Wars Weekends.

Darth's Mall is in the Streets of America

Darth’s Mall is in the Streets of America

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders menu

Tusken Fridge Raiders menu

All three cupcakes are available there (though you’ll find them a little cheaper in the Counter Service locations for $5.19), along with the four specialty Star Wars Weekends cocktails, which we’ll be checking out in a future post.

Tusken Fridge Raiders menu

Tusken Fridge Raiders menu

Cocktail mixes at Tusken Fridge Raiders

Cocktail mixes at Tusken Fridge Raiders

Incidentally, Tusken Fridge Raiders is THE home to [Read more…]

Review: Rebel Hangar — A Star Wars Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Welcome to the Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience!

Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience

Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience

In conjunction with Star Wars Weekends, an entire half of Backlot Express at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been completely transformed.

Entrance to Rebel Hangar

Entrance to Rebel Hangar

Backlot Express transformed into Rebel Hangar

Backlot Express transformed into Rebel Hangar

From now through June 14th, instead of entering the standard theming of the movie production warehouse, guests will walk into a long-abandoned building that once served as a busy spaceport in the Sullust system.

The story of the Rebel Hangar

The story of the Rebel Hangar printed in the menu

From 4:00 – 9:00 pm daily throughout the run of the Hangar, weary galactic travelers now have the opportunity to take a moment to relax and enjoy Star Wars-themed food among the “discarded remnants” from over 100 planets.

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Our Advance Dining Reservation to hangout in the Hangar wasn’t until 8:50 pm — 10 minutes prior to the final seating. So I took some time during the day to check out the spot, arriving somewhere around 1:00 pm. That’s right — day guests coming in for the typical Counter Service menu at Backlot Express were able to enjoy much of the atmosphere, too!

Part of Backlot Express transformed

Part of Backlot Express transformed

Backlot Express transformed

Backlot Express transformed

I, for one, was taken aback by the transformation. I hadn’t realized anything more could be tucked into Backlot Express, already so well-themed for its purposes. But lo and behold…

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

Rebel Hangar atmosphere

It was a blast spotting ways in which the typical Backlot “props” were incorporated into the Hangar theme.

Backlot props redecorated

Backlot props redecorated

Backlot props redecorated

Backlot props redecorated

Backlot props redecorated

Backlot props redecorated

You can see where “decay” has settled into this space in the many years since it last served its original purpose as a spaceport.

Decaying spaceport

Decaying spaceport

"Discarded" helmet

“Discarded” helmet

It appears a graffiti artist has even taken advantage of the abandoned spot ;) .

Graffiti wall

Graffiti wall

Graffiti wall

Graffiti wall

Hidden Mickey

Hidden Mickey

Even the tabletops were [Read more…]

Friday Happy Hour: Lava Flow at the Barefoot Pool Bar at Polynesian Village Resort

Well, wouldn’t you know it?

Right after I visited the Polynesian Village Resort’s Barefoot Pool Bar when it reopened along with the refurbished Lava Pool and I reported that the specialty drink menu hadn’t changed…

It changed.

Well, that’s not entirely true :). Everything you could previously purchase at the Barefoot Pool Bar is still available (that means the pool bar standards like the Captain’s Mai Tai and Banana Cabana). In fact, they’re all still prominently listed on the main menu.

Barefoot Pool Bar

Barefoot Pool Bar

Barefoot Pool Bar menu

Barefoot Pool Bar menu

But, lo and behold…. just days after my visit, I heard about some all-new (and if I understand correctly, mostly exclusive) drinks at the Barefoot Pool Bar!

You can spot the descriptions on a stand-up sign, and fans of the Polynesian will get a kick out of reading the well-themed drink names as much as the descriptions with titles like the Pago Pago Pain Killer, Niue Rita, Lava Flow, Tonga Tea, and Samoa Sunrise. Just click on the image below to enlarge and read the item descriptions. I love that the Samoa Sunrise features POG Juice!

Specialty Drink Menu

Specialty Drink Menu

I didn’t see this menu at all on my previous visit, but whether that’s because they were not being served yet since the pool bar had just reopened or I’d missed the roving sign, I’m honestly not sure.

Ah, well… it’s here now, and so are we! So, let’s have a drink, shall we? We’ll go with [Read more…]

Review: Green Tea Plum Slush at Joy of Tea in Epcot’s China Pavilion

We’ve stopped by the Joy of Tea kiosk in Epcot’s China Pavilion several times…because it’s awesome.

So you may know by now that it’s packed with much more than tea, despite the name. I mean, sure, you can absolutely grab an iced or hot tea depending on the weather or just your personal preference. But it’s also got a decent snack selection for such a small place (I love the Strawberry Red Bean Ice Cream), and an “appetizer sampler” of sorts with their Lucky Combo, which allows you to try all three hot snacks (BBQ Pork Buns, Curry Chicken Pockets, and Egg Rolls) along with a soft drink and some ice cream.

You’d think that would about cover it! But you’d be wrong ;). Because there is a whole slew of specialty drinks here including some adult beverages, which is what we’re trying out today.

Joy of Tea

Joy of Tea

You’ll spot the choices under “Alcoholic Beverages” (natch), and they include the Mango Gingerita, Canto Loopy, Peach Snap!, and Green Tea Plum Slush, in addition to beer and wine. (Oh, and don’t forget the Tipsy Ducks in Love.)

Joy of Tea menu

Joy of Tea menu

I went with the Green Tea Plum Slush with plum wine, since I know it’s a guest favorite at the park. I really enjoyed the Strawberry Oolong Tea Slush here many moons ago, so I had high hopes for this one. I mean, plum wine? Sure — sign me up! I love that stuff.

Unfortunately, those hopes were [Read more…]

Fun Find: Flavored Moonshine in Epcot

You know how I’m always going on and on about the huge variety of food, drinks, and cuisine around Epcot’s World Showcase? I mean, you can find just about anything and everything, which is why I talk about it ALL the time, like it’s my job or something.

Oh, wait… it IS my job.

I guess somebody’s gotta do it! ;)

Anyway, I really do mean that you can find everything… and here’s my proof (ha ha — PROOF! I crack me up). Did you know that you can stock up on your supply of Moonshine at Epcot?

Backwoods Moonshine

Backwoods Moonshine

Yep! The Port of Entry and Disney Traders gift shops (those are the two gifts shops at the entrance to World Showcase between the Canada and Mexico Pavilions) carry an assortment of the whiskey beverage.

They’ve actually been available for some time now (and are, of course, being incorporated into many a cocktail around property due to the popularity of moonshine right now), but I only recently paused to take a look at the [Read more…]

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…]