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Review: Lunch at Epcot’s Coral Reef Restaurant

We’re dining “Under the Sea” today at Epcot’s Coral Reef Restaurant!

And if you’re wondering if it was all part of my plan to insert that song in your head for the rest of the day, the answer is “Yes.”

(Insert evil laugh here. ;) )

Coral Reef is one of only two Table Service Restaurants in Epcot’s Future World (the other being Garden Grill), and the only one open for lunch, which is the meal we’re having today. But first things first: in order to eat at Coral Reef, you’ve got to find it. Just head to “The Living Seas…” whoops! I mean, “The Seas with Nemo and Friends” Pavilion.

And once you get your fill of the birds chanting “Mine, Mine, Mine,” just hang a right…

The Seas Pavilion

The Seas Pavilion

… and head as far as you can towards the back. (The outdoor sign will help, too.)

Heading to Coral Reef

Heading to Coral Reef

Coral Reef sign

Coral Reef sign

So, now we’ve found it! Let’s head in…

Atmosphere

As per usual with Disney dining, there are some fun details to take in here, starting right at the entrance.

Entrance

Entrance

Seahorse door handle

Seahorse door handle

The dining room is well-concealed for the “big reveal” to come, but touches in the check-in area (which expands into a fairly large hallway) give several indications as to what awaits you once you dine.

Octopus at Check in

Octopus at Check in

Octopus at check-in counter

Octopus at check-in counter

What are those lights, anyway? Jellyfish?

Check-in area hallway

Check-in area hallway

Glass fish behind check-in counter

Glass fish behind check-in counter

But as fun as it always is to check out the little things, the truth of the matter is that everyone is here to see one, single, MAJOR “detail.” The aquarium!

Coral Reef Dining Room

Coral Reef Dining Room

Yep — the dining room has giant picture windows that look right into the massive Living Seas aquarium. It’s like you’re dining in a submarine.

Coral Reef Dining Room

Coral Reef Dining Room

And here’s an interesting thing about Coral Reef: in most restaurants, several of the tables for two are often tucked on the outer perimeters, and sometimes that can lend to a feeling of being a little removed from the atmosphere. At Coral Reef, many of the tables for two receive “front rows seats” for the big show. Our table for two was right next to this table for four.

Coral Reef Seating in front of aquarium

Coral Reef Seating in front of aquarium

Our server presented Fish Guides to us, so we could identify some of the marine life swimming by.

Fish Guide

Fish Guide

Fish Guide

Fish Guide

Being that close contributed just a little extra to an already unique experience. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

Aquarium views

Aquarium views

Aquarium views

Aquarium views

Aquarium views

Aquarium views

Though I gotta say, this felt Continue reading →

Disney Food Post Round-Up: September 28, 2014

We’ve got the scoop on some new cupcakes in Disney World!

Oreo Cupcake

Oreo Cupcake

The BoardWalk Bakery is one of our favorite sweet spots, and the revamped Strawberry and Oreo cupcakes are a fun addition to the mix. There’s also a new Halloween cupcake that’s worth a peek.

Plus, click below for all the details on this week’s Disney Food News…

Disney Food News

Check out all the latest Disney Food News — even the stuff we don’t mention in posts on the blog! — on our Disney Food News Pin Board, including restaurant closures, and more!

We’ve got all the latest for you, so check it out before you go.

DFB Reader Finds

If you find a fun new food — or other edible awesomeness — in or from Disney, share a photo with us on facebook or twitter so we can add it to our DFB Reader Finds each Sunday!

Some of our readers turn to Disney recipes when they are missing their favorite Disney foods. A great example is School Bread made by Facebook Friend Dennis. Nice production!!

Homemade School Bread

Homemade School Bread

Start your morning with Mickey Mouse pancakes! DFB’s Facebook Friend Lori shared a fun homemade version. (I LOVE the plates, Ryan and Shannon!

Mickey Mouse Pancakes at Home

Mickey Mouse Pancakes at Home

What’s your Favorite Find? Send it in!

The DFB Guide to the 2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival e-Book!

Pick up your copy of the DFB Guide to the 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival e-Book for $4 off today using code OPENINGDAY!

2014 Food and Wine Guide 3D

The DFB Guide to the 2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival e-Book features all the info you need to know before you attend the Food and Wine Festival this year, from what’s NEW this year to touring strategies — and a new section with top tips on how to use MyMagic+ at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

As always, we’ve made this guide instantly downloadable for your convenience, and easily installed on your mobile devices. It’s a PDF guide with over 220 pages of detailed information about the Festival as well as photographs and customized bonus items to help you get the best experience possible. On a budget? Find out how to make those dollars (or Disney Dining Plan snack credits) stretch all around World Showcase. And we have a fully updated FAQ section that answers questions you didn’t even know you had!

Bonus Items

The DFB Guide to the 2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival includes customized bonus items that go above and beyond any other Food & Wine Festival coverage currently available. These include:

  • A full, daily schedule of events for every day of the festival
  • A printable World Showcase Booth Menu Checklist that you can use to plan, and easily bring with you to the festival
  • Themed World Showcase booth crawls (there’s even one for the kids!)
  • Food and Wine Festival customized Touring Strategies for One Day visits, Budget-Conscious visits, visits with kids, and more
  • A chapter dedicated to all Continue reading →

Review: Epcot Food & Wine Festival Premium Package, and Food and Wine Festival Late Nights LIVE! Event

The 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival is underway, and this year marks the debut of several new options for Festival guests. We’re going to cover two of the most popular — and most expensive — today!

The Epcot Food & Wine Festival Premium Package is available exclusively to Disney Resort guests (as well as guests at Swan & Dolphin and Golden Oak), and the Food and Wine Festival — Late Nights LIVE! after hours party, which is available for purchase to all guests.

Premium Package credential, gift card, and themed MagicBand

Premium Package credential, gift card, and themed MagicBand

Today we’re breaking down the components into a few sections beginning with the Food & Wine Premium Package. At the end of the post, we’ll go over our thoughts regarding value for the price of these options.

Epcot Food & Wine Festival Premium Package

There are three main components to the Food & Wine Premium Festival Package available for Disney Resort guests: In-Room Amenities, dedicated Food & Wine Festival Premium Package Areas at Epcot, and entrance into the Epcot Food & Wine Late Nights Live! party. The package costs $199/person.

In-room Amenities

I was definitely curious to see the in-room amenities included in the package, though I had some idea from the official description from Disney: “a select bottle of wine (for Guests over 21 years of age), a festival wine glass and delicious chocolate truffles.”

I arrived to my resort a few hours early, hoping for the possibility of an early check-in. I was kindly accommodated, but since I arrived early, I actually picked up my gift bag at Concierge Services at the front desk. So, if you are participating in this package and are also an early check-in hopeful (before 3:00PM), that’s just something to keep in mind. With that said, I received everything in a thermal Food & Wine tote.

Amenities Bag

Amenities Bag

Let’s check off the list, starting with the wine, which was a bottle of “Sogno d’ Italia (Dream of Italy)” Chianti. It was one of the bottles “made exclusively for Disney Parks.”

Dream of Italy Chianti

Dream of Italy Chianti

Sogno d'Italia label

Sogno d’Italia label

Guests can find this wine sold in the Italy Pavilion (we’ll have a “math breakdown” later on to discuss more of the value).

A Food and Wine Festival souvenir stemless wine glass is part of the package as well.

Souvenir wine glass

Souvenir wine glass

Four truffles came in an edible box made of dark chocolate, topped with a white chocolate themed decoration.

Truffle box made of chocolate

Truffle box made of chocolate

Flavors included salted caramel, cherry, ganache, and white chocolate.

Truffles

Truffles

The in-room amenities are fun, and it did feel a little like a holiday, opening gifts upon arrival.

Gifts inside the amenities bag

Gifts inside the amenities bag

But it may be the next three items that are of the most interest: a Food & Wine themed MagicBand, a $50 Disney gift card, and the Premium Package “credential” lanyard, which grants guests access to exclusive Premium Package Areas within the Festival.

Premium Package credential, gift card, and themed MagicBand

Premium Package credential, gift card, and themed MagicBand

The credential is a lanyard to wear around the Festival, and while we’ll explore its design and function more in the next section, it’s worth noting that one side is printed with the dates the guest can access the Premium Package areas.

The MagicBand is decorated with the current signature artwork for the Food and Wine Festival.

Themed MagicBand

Themed MagicBand

Themed MagicBand

Themed MagicBand

Finally, there is a $50 Disney gift card. It’s the Continue reading →

Don’t Miss A Minute of the Magic — Sign Up for the Disney Food Blog Newsletter Today

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! No, we aren’t jumping on the bandwagon to usher in the Winter Holidays two months early. ;-) We’re talkin’ Fall at Disney!

DFB Newsletter

And whether you’re celebrating the change of seasons in Disneyland or Walt Disney World, this time of year is something special. With must-do seasonal events and lots of special eats and drinks, we don’t think you should miss a single thing!

But there’s the rub. Because there’s so much to cover, it’s tough to bring you all the news on the Blog. That’s why we send out the DFB Newsletter twice a month.

Right now, there’s so much happening. You have new snacks, like the Pumpkin Spice Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich at L’Artisan des Glaces in Epcot’s France Pavilion.

Artisan des Glaces Pumpkin Spice Macaron Sandwich

Artisan des Glaces Pumpkin Spice Macaron Sandwich

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom includes tons of exclusive favorites — plus all that candy! At Disneyland, we see the return of classics, like the Pumpkin Muffin and Halloween Time!

And of course…we are right in the middle of THE Continue reading →

Review: Breakfast at Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory, Port Orleans French Quarter

Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory — it’s a long name for dining spot, and kind of a tongue twister — but it has some unique menu items and is definitely worth a visit if you’re a beignet fan!

Or a New Orleans fan.

Or a Mardi Gras fan.

Or just like big, giant parade float heads hanging from ceilings.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Let’s take a look inside… .

Atmosphere

Sassagoula is, of course, the river running through the resorts around Downtown Disney, including the sister Port Orleans resorts — Riverside, and French Quarter. Upon arrival at the Port Orleans French Quarter resort, a welcoming indoor courtyard complete with an ornate fountain creates a relaxing atmosphere.

If you’re hungry, you’ll find Floatworks — named as such because it’s themed after a warehouse storing Mardi Gras parade props —  opposite the Registration area. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks are offered throughout the day.

Entrance to Float Works

Entrance to Float Works

Look closely and you’ll see some hidden dining references in the Sassagoula sign. Utensils, seafood, lemon, asparagus… what else?

Look for hidden food references

Look for hidden food references

A display reminds guests of their dining choices while visiting the Port Orleans resorts.

Dining Choices at the Port Orleans Resorts

Dining Choices at the Port Orleans Resorts

Here’s your first glimpse of the “floatworks.” Crazy, eh?

It's Mardi Gras time!

It’s Mardi Gras time!

While the weird parade props have always disturbed me, some guests enjoy the whimsical decor. I understand the theme but find the decor outdated. (I’d love to see a refresh here). Of course, you’ll find whimsy around the resort — from Scales (the serpent pool slide) to jazzy tunes, the vibe is casual and relaxing. Just as it should be on vacation!

I spy a yellow piece of candy!

I spy a yellow piece of candy!

Entertain the kids with a game of “I Spy” while dining!

A great snack option is ice cream!

A great snack option is ice cream!

I do like the dining room’s dark wooden tables and mismatched chairs; it just feels cozy. Brick accents and lantern lighting adds to the quaint ambiance. In fact, the whole resort is a mixture of playfulness and charm.

Mardi Gras props in dining room

Mardi Gras props in dining room

Most importantly, the dining area and serving stations are kept very tidy. (During our stay, we did not find this to be the case over at the Riverside Mill.)

Artwork reflects the Cajun and Creole flavors on the menu such as the Gumbo and Jambalaya dishes served later in the day.

Louisiana is known for  spicy Cajun and Creole dishes

Louisiana is known for spicy Cajun and Creole dishes

Take your breakfast to the adjacent Scat Cat’s Club for a quieter meal.

Additional seating at Scat Cat's

Additional seating at Scat Cat’s

Inside the club, your morning meal can be savored with a dose of cartoons!

Cartoons

Cartoons

Eats

Guests on the Disney Dining Plan can use their quick service credits to redeem meals at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Use your Disney Dining Plan credits

Use your Disney Dining Plan credits

Snack options are also available!

Got a Rapid Fill mug? Head to the beverage island for hot and cold drinks!

Hot and cold beverages

Hot and cold beverages

At the Rapid Fill station, fill up on water, Sprite Zero, Barq’s Root Beer, Fanta Orange, Coca-Cola Zero, Minute Maid Light Pomegranate Lemonade, Coca-Cola Cherry, Sprite, Powerade Mountain Berry Blast, Hi-C Fruit Punch, Diet Coke, and Coca-Cola.

Cold beverages at the Rapid Fill station

Cold beverages at the Rapid Fill station

Breakfast
Breakfast here at Sassagoula often includes their “you-can-only-get-’em-here” made-to-order beignets. Many Disney guests visit this spot solely for these doughy treats.

Port Orleans French Quarter Beignets

Port Orleans French Quarter Beignets

But we’d had beignets the previous day, so my husband opted for the Bounty Breakfast Platter served with Continue reading →

DFB Reader Spotlight: Make Your Own Epcot Food and Wine Festival Tray!

So, you all know that you’re the best readers in the history of blogging. Here’s a little story sent in via email (with pictures, of course) to prove it.

As many of you are aware, I highly advocate bringing your own tray to Epcot for the Food and Wine Festival every year. After all, there usually isn’t a great place to sit and eat at every booth; so it can be helpful to have a method for carrying all of your goodies and drinks around with you as you’re looking for a good stopping point in the shade. As it turns out, this is true for the rest of the parks as well!

Disney Food Blog Reader, Jocelyn Martins, explored the Epcot Food and Wine Festival (and other Walt Disney World parks) with her own Disney Food Blog Tray!

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 2.35.04 PM

That’s right; she took our unique bumper sticker and attached it to the food tray she brought from home. Totally L.O.V.E. that she brought it to Disney with her!!!

Jocelyn reports that she loved using the tray and apparently other guests admired it, too. She was asked several times where to get one! Take a look…

DFB Tray with Eats and Drinks

“I had to grab just one more pumpkin ice cream macaron sandwich, but couldn’t pass on the martini either… thank goodness I had my own DFB Tray to balance on the stroller!” (We knew we loved her.) Head to L’Artisan des Glaces in Epcot’s France for your own ice cream treats.

Pumpkin Ice Cream Macaron Sandwich and Coconut-White Chocolate Ice Cream Martini with Whipped Cream Vodka

Pumpkin Ice Cream Macaron Sandwich and Coconut-White Chocolate Ice Cream Martini with Whipped Cream Vodka

“Luckily I knew  from the DFB to look for the Harambe Popcorn Cart because our most-awesome-ess server, Neil, at our Tusker House Breakfast had worked there forever and had no idea where I could find the Jungle Juice Slushies.”

DFB tray for Jungle Juice Slushies & Rum

DFB tray for Jungle Juice Slushies & Rum

Jocelyn then used her homemade DFB Tray to Continue reading →

Disney Details: Yak and Yeti Restaurant Lighting

One of the lesser-known, but still pretty awesome restaurants in Disney’s theme parks is Yak & Yeti, found in the Asia section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Our experiences there have always been good when it comes to the food, but one of my favorite parts of the dining spot is the decor.

It’s clear that Disney’s imagineers searched high and low for authentic props and “set dressing” for this restaurant, and I’ve always been captivated by the lighting particularly.

On a visit many years ago, I snapped shots of several of lamps, light fixtures, and even chandeliers that make this restaurant so eclectic. I just came across the pics and wanted to share them with you. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know which Disney restaurant decor you’re most fond of!

Yak and Yeti Restaurant

Yak and Yeti Restaurant

Yak and Yeti Restaurant Lighting Elements

This incredible chandelier hangs above the main staircase up to the second floor. Its tiered crystals practically drip down to the railing!

Atmosphere from lighting

A few old-fashioned and vintage options look like they were taken right out Continue reading →

Epcot Food & Wine Festival Food Pictures and Review: Brazil and Puerto Rico Marketplace Booths

We are continuing our LIVE coverage from the first week of the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Welcome to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

We’ve been busy eating at the various Marketplaces and attending events to bring you lots of good information.

And today, we’re ready to offer you the first in-depth look at two booths that are crowd favorites — Brazil and Puerto Rico.

Let’s go!

The Brazil Marketplace Booth

The Brazil Marketplace returned last year after a brief hiatus, and wasted no time establishing itself as a favorite stop on festival guests’ trip around the World. And this year, it’s back again on a big ol’ plot of World Showcase land all its own (with a WATERFALL! and LIVE MUSIC!).

2014 Brazil Marketplace Booth

2014 Brazil Marketplace Booth

This is the old Belgium location (Belgium has been booted next door), so there’s a seating area set up covered with colorful flags.

Gorgeous Seating Area for Brazil

Gorgeous Seating Area for Brazil

There’s a little waterfall (which the Cast Member made sure I knew about; they’re super proud of it). And if you’re lucky, you might catch some live Brazilian music while you’re there.

Brazil Marketplace Scenery

Brazil Marketplace Scenery

The food is pretty much all new, except for the pork belly. And the drinks include some good offerings.

2014 Brazil Menu

2014 Brazil Menu

We were interested to see a new seafood dish debut at the Brazil Marketplace. The Moqueca de Pescado features responsibly farm-raised Regal Springs Tilapia. It’s flavored with a Coconut Lime Sauce and is served on a bed of steamed Rice.

You guys know I’m not a HUGE seafood eater, but some of the festival’s offerings this year have made a liar out of me…including this one. I really enjoyed it! The dish is light with good flavor. But I was shocked that after I took my first tentative bite of fish, I actually went back for more. Red-letter day for me, my friends. ;-D

Moqueca de Pescado Regal Springs Premium Tilapia with Coconut Lime Sauce and Steamed Rice

Moqueca de Pescado Regal Springs Premium Tilapia with Coconut Lime Sauce and Steamed Rice

One of 2013′s most popular dishes, Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Tomato, and Cilantro, returns this year. While the 2013 version also featured Avocado in the mix, we aren’t really missing it. The Pork Belly stands on its own just fine!

Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Tomato, and Cilantro

Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Tomato, and Cilantro

One of our early favorites this year is the Continue reading →

What’s New Around Walt Disney World: September 24, 2014

Food is always the star of the show for Disney Food Fans, but there’s no time of year when food steals the spotlight quite like this… with a little something called the 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival!

But that’s not all the food news in these parts! We’ve spotted more fall treats and new Resort eats as we’ve been looking around Disney World to see What’s New

EPCOT

So, right off the bat, we know this isn’t exactly what you would call a “surprise” ;) , but since it’s Epcot’s time to shine, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the recent opening of this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival!

Welcome to the Food and Wine Festival!

Welcome to the Food and Wine Festival!

Be sure to check out the Must-Eats among the dishes making their debut this year!

Bacon Hash at the Farm Fresh Booth

Bacon Hash at the Farm Fresh Booth

Coconut Candy at the Brazil Booth

Coconut Candy at the Brazil Booth

Fresh baked carrot cake with Craisins® and cream cheese icing

Fresh baked carrot cake with Craisins® and cream cheese icing at the Hops & Barley booth

In other EPCOT food news (yep, there’s still more!), the ice cream experts at L’Artisan des Glaces are helping everyone get into the Fall spirit with their release of the Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream Macaron Sandwich.

Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream Macaron Sandwich

Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream Macaron Sandwich

You can enjoy this pumpkin deliciousness in a Continue reading →

Tip from the DFB Guide to Epcot Snacks: Strawberry Red Bean Ice Cream and Waffle Snack Pairing

Ready for strawberry-ness all over the place? It’s time to dive into a tip from the DFB Guide to Epcot Snacks!

Restaurant dining is great in Disney World, but if you want to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to eating on the go, you should make use of some of our Snack Pairing Ideas.

Epcot's China Pavilion

Epcot’s China Pavilion

Need some help getting started? Let’s take a look at something pretty unique!

Strawberry Red Bean Ice Cream and Waffles with Strawberry Jam

One of our favorite things to do when seeking out Snack Pairings is to combine flavors from different countries! But this works best if you can find flavors to match in neighboring pavilions, of course. :-)

If you’re looking for something fruit-flavored but a little off the beaten path, head into the China Pavilion and try the Strawberry Red Bean Ice Cream at the Joy of Tea kiosk (sometimes it’s found at Lotus Blossom Cafe as well).

Strawberry Red Bean Ice Cream

Strawberry Red Bean Ice Cream from Lotus Blossom Cafe

The dense, creamy dessert is Continue reading →