Guest Review: California Grill at the Contemporary Resort

Today, we’re welcoming Alex F. with a signature dining review. Alex takes us with her to the top of the Contemporary Resort for dinner at the California Grill! Let’s go…

I have been to Disney World over 20 times and I have always wanted to write a review. So, finally I decided that on my latest trip, I would take pictures and review California Grill at the Contemporary Resort. I hope that this review is helpful and enjoyable!

Atmosphere

California Grill, a signature dining restaurant located on the 15th floor of the Contemporary Resort, features unique views through the walls of windows and the two observation decks.

While dining here, you can either have close up aerial views of the Magic Kingdom from one side of the dining room, or distant views of Epcot and Hollywood Studios from the other (you can see Spaceship Earth, the Swan and Dolphin hotels, and even the Tower of Terror).

Table by the Window with Magic Kingdom View

To access the California Grill, you must check-in on the 2nd floor to the right of the escalators. Years ago, you were able to simply go straight upstairs and check-in, but that has all changed. Now, once you have checked in, you can head over to a special elevator just for [Read more…]

Review: Todd English’s bluezoo

We were very excited on a recent trip to see what was new at one of the chicest spots at Disney, Todd English’s bluezoo at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.

Located in the Dolphin, the restaurant will trick you into thinking that you have strayed away from Theme Park Land and entered the glitzy glam of a sleek Las Vegas hotspot.

But the real story is the impeccable attention to detail that Chef Chris Windus shows at every turn.

We have a TON of food to cover, so let’s get right to it!

Atmosphere

As I mentioned above, you’ll find a sophisticated and upscale vibe at bluezoo, which calls to mind a more grown up feeling. However, even though it may not seem super kid-friendly at first glance, this is still Walt Disney World and there will be kids there (yours are welcome, too!). bluezoo would also be a terrific spot for date night, if you decide to leave the kids at a kids’ club or with an in-room sitter while you strike out on your own.

bluezoo entry

As you enter, you’re immediately greeted by a fluid, aquatic feel. The effect goes beyond the visual — you hear the running water as well — but you are surrounded by a palette of vibrant blue, with accents of bright orange and flashes of silver.

bluezoo bar

Even when things aren’t moving, they may seem to be (especially after you start indulging in some of the unique bar drinks…haha!). For instance, when you enter through the bar, there is a stylized presentation of a school of silver-colored fish, seemingly alive with synchronized movement.

bluezoo bar table

The glossy, natural woods and comfortable booths complement the rest of the look of the bluezoo bar. And the touchscreen order system is a fun addition. You’ll feel like you’ve strayed into the future while choosing what to eat!

bluezoo interactive bar menu

bluezoo interactive bar menu

We reported this detail in 2011, and on this visit we were told that the touch-screen menus will be getting an upgraded look and feel very soon.

Beyond the bar, we made our way into the huge, airy main dining room. The soaring ceilings and beautiful bubbly lights are combined artfully with [Read more…]

Guest Review: Dawa Bar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Welcome to Friday Happy Hour! Guest Author Melissa Sue Sorrells Galley takes us to one of our favorite rest stops — the Dawa Bar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

You sure do a lot of walking in Animal Kingdom. The paths are beautiful, but they’re long. And after a morning touring Disney’s most animalriffic theme park, I like to stop for a nice, refreshing drink. Luckily, there’s a perfect place for resting and sipping in Africa’s Harambe Village.

Dawa Bar in Harambe Village

Atmosphere

Located just as you cross the bridge into Harambe, Dawa Bar is inside a huge, covered pavilion just next to the line to get into Tusker House and across from Tamu Tamu Refreshments.

Dawa Bar Seating

It’s a great place to sit, relax and watch Harambe pass you by. If you time your cocktail right, you can even [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at Raglan Road Irish Pub

One of the most consistently delicious stops on the Walt Disney World trail, we recently had the pleasure of a lunch date with my parents at Downtown Disney’s Raglan Road.

Located right at the front of what is (kind of) Pleasure Island, the vibe from the Emerald Isle spills right onto the sidewalk and around the corner as you take in Raglan Road Pub and Restaurant, the adjacent Gift Shop, the Hole in the Wall watering hold, and Cookes of Dublin next door.

Even though we were there during Spring Break, we didn’t find early lunchtime to be too busy. We stopped in JUST before the restaurant switched to an updated menu, but luckily most of our choices can still be found amongst the new offerings.

Atmosphere

You want authentic atmosphere? You got it. Much of the decor here is authentically Irish, and the bars themselves were shipped directly from Ireland.

Raglan Road Sign and Front of Building

The entrance to the restaurant is central, while there is outdoor seating to the left and a nifty gift shop to the right. If Raglan Road does have one shortcoming it would be that there aren’t many places to sit while waiting for your table. Fortunately, that wasn’t an issue for us that day.

Entrance Foyer

The gift shop really is so cool! You feel like you’ve wandered right into a shop that was destined for Epcot’s World Showcase (had they ever built a separate Ireland Pavilion.)

Tons of Irish souvenirs and sauces from the restaurant are available here. This is also a nifty place to pick up some of Master Chef Kevin Dundon’s fantastic cookbooks, like Recipes that Work or Full On Irish, if you wanna recreate a little Raglan Road in your kitchen once you head home!

Gift Shop

What you see in the restaurant itself really is a little slice of Ireland in the Florida sunshine. You’re surrounded by rich, dark woods and brass fixtures. The tile floors below your feet add to the feeling of antiquity, and the soaring heights of the domed main dining room, complete with cupola, are crowned with [Read more…]

Review: Bongos Cuban Cafe

At long last, we finally made it to the Downtown Disney hotspot that is Bongos Cuban Cafe!

I’ll admit, I’d been putting off my visit to this restaurant. I hadn’t heard great reviews, and I wasn’t sure I’d like the food. But I’m SUCH a giant loser — what have I been waiting for?!?

I had a great time, I had awesome food…and it’s finally time to peek inside and find out what the Big Pineapple has to offer!

Atmosphere

With architecture billed as “Old Havana” in style, this breezy, open restaurant certainly puts you in the mood for a tropical drink and a conga line. ;-) When we visited just before St. Patrick’s Day, Downtown Disney was alive with the excitement of a young, vibrant crowd, ready to get their dance on! The traditional Cuban dance music pouring out from the restaurant beckons you to come take a closer look and listen, and was perfect for a warm, breezy Florida evening.

Bongos Sign

Originally, our Advanced Dining Reservation was scheduled for much later than our 7:30 meet up time. When we checked in at the podium, though, we had no trouble getting a seat immediately. As a newcomer to Cuban food, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the fun setting hinted of some adventurous eating ahead!

One of THE most amazing features of Bongos is the wide open feel of the place. Seating is available both inside and outside, giving the restaurant an authentic Cuban or Miami vibe. After all, these are places where people “live outside,” and restaurants in these locations really reflect that.

To help with the heat, both inside and out, we noticed high ceilings and lots of ceiling fans. It really lends to the impression of cool, airy spaces.

Outdoor Atmosphere

The upstairs veranda also provides a pleasant view of surrounding hotels, the Characters in Flight balloon, and the lake beyond. VERY cool view, eh??

Upstairs Outdoor Seating

While the walls inside are painted to give an old world, weathered feel (and the stone no doubt lends to a sense of coolness on a sweltering Florida summer day), there are plenty of [Read more…]

Guest Review: ‘Ama ‘Ama Lunch at Disney’s Aulani Resort

Aloha to guest author Anderson Dun! A native of Hawai’i currently living in Arizona, he brings us a delicious review of ‘Ama ‘Ama at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawai’i. Let’s hear it from an expert!

While I didn’t have a chance to stay there, I just knew that I had to visit the Disney resort and have a meal there during my trip home to Hawai’i. I thought about eating at Makahiki buffet, but after reading some good reviews of lunch at ‘Ama ‘Ama, I decided to try it out.

Sign

Pre-Lunch Visit to Off the Hook Pool Bar

When we first arrived at 11:10 AM, my mom and I were told that they were closed and didn’t have any openings until 12:45 PM. I was a bit surprised, but we took the time to wander about the resort.

The first thing we did was head next door to the Off the Hook Pool Bar. The pool bar is right next to the restaurant and offers food and drinks, but of course, we were [Read more…]

News! Complimentary Beer Sampling at Disney’s Contemporary Resort!

UPDATE: Since posting this, we have gotten word that this beer tasting is only for guest staying at the Contemporary Resort or Bay Lake Towers. We’d heard differently from a Contemporary CM before printing, but this word is directly from the manager at the restaurant. Sorry folks!

In a recent comment, reader Bill M. (thanks, Bill!!) told us about a Beer Tasting that happens every Saturday at Disney’s Contemporary Resort! I made some phone calls to find out the deets, and we’ve got ‘em right here!

Visit The Wave’s lounge to sample complimentary beer each Saturday, from 3-4 p.m.. Three certified organic beers by Orlando Brewing Company are provided, making this a great stop on your monorail crawl.

Don’t like beer? While your friends are sipping complimentary brew, order a screw-top wine (ya gotta pay for it, though).

Beer Sampling

While this activity is advertised in the Disney’s Contemporary Resort (and Bay Lake Tower) Recreation Activities Guide, you do not need to be a guest of the resort to participate. Of course, the beer tasting is only open to [Read more…]

Review: Waldorf Orlando Bull and Bear Lounge New Menu

It’s no secret that I LURVE the Bull and Bear Steakhouse at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. This place is phenomenal, and with a location in the middle of Walt Disney World property, it’s well worth trying if you haven’t been there yet.

Entryway

Now, perhaps you don’t have time for a full, multi-course meal, but you’d still like to pamper yourself and your taste buds? I now have the perfect solution thanks to the Bull and Bear’s new lounge menu!!

Bull and Bear Bar and Lounge area

Have you ever wanted to pretend you’re Marilyn Monroe or Clark Gable, out for an evening in a luxurious Hollywood lounge? That’s exactly how you’ll feel surrounded by plush seats (pillows!!), sparkling white tablecloths, dark wood, and a fabulous staff of servers. The best part? You’re in a lounge, which means you get all of the Bull and Bear flavor with a lower check total!

Eats

The new menu debuted at the Bull and Bear a couple of months ago, and we got the chance to go in and sample some of the new dishes!

Menu - click image for larger version

Don’t be fooled; the prices reflect the quality of the food, but trust me — it’s well worth it! We started out by sampling the new-and-improved bar snacks in the lounge.

Wanting to appeal to different tastes and all of your taste buds, Chef David Sears decided on a trio of accompaniments you wouldn’t expect!

Bar Snacks

Next up on our tasting menu: the Shrimp and Grits with Tasso Ham and Tomatillo Chutney. Now, how cool is this presentation? Chef Sears wanted to include a smoked flavor, but didn’t want it to be too strong. His solution? Add a touch of smokiness by serving the plate under a dome of flavor!

Shrimp and Grits Presentation

How do they do it? Trade secret… ;-)

Shrimp and Grits Presentation

The shrimp and grits did have a mildly smokey flavor, and the touch of tasso ham gave it the [Read more…]

Review: Disneyland’s Club 33 (Part 2 of 2)

After touring the history, mystery, and myth of Disneyland’s Club 33 in Part 1 yesterday, I hope you’ve worked up an appetite!

Join us at Club 33

Let’s dive into the food at Club 33 lunch! (Heather will be around with a Club 33 Dinner Review in a few weeks!)

Eats

We left you in our post yesterday as we were taking our seats at the table in the Main Dining Room. After we sat down, we were [Read more…]

Disney World AMC Theatre Dine-In Experience Begins May 16

The AMC Theatre in Downtown Disney Orlando will unveil a new experience with in-theatre dining on May 16, 2011. This 24-screen cineplex gives food top billing with great menu choices in six of their auditoriums. The menu will include quesadillas, burgers, flatbread pizzas, grilled sandwiches, specialties, and tempting appetizers and desserts (see a sample menu here). Quench your thirst with a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic specialty drinks, beer and wine.

Guests will watch feature films while savoring cuisine and cocktails! AMC Dine-In Theatres offer this meal with your movie option along with a convenient bar and lounge, MacGuffins, for gatherings before or after the flick. When you opt for the Dine-In experience, you’ll enjoy casual, table top dining with reserved seats. Best of all, you won’t miss a minute of the on-screen action with personalized service brought to your seat and a call button to quietly signal your server.

Sample Menu Page

Guests of the Fork and Screen option will need to be [Read more…]