DFB Reader Questions Answered: Where Can I Get a Free Counter Service Refill in the Parks?

We’re tackling another question from the DFB Reader mailbag today! Our reader asks:

Which counter service locations in Walt Disney World have self serve kiosks offering free refills?

This is an especially good question from a budget perspective. Since the Resort Refillable Mugs can’t be used in the parks, you might want to know where you can go to get more than one drink from the soda fountain. Let’s check out a couple of spots where you can grab a drink when you’re extra thirsty.

Disney Counter-Service Halloween Drink Cup

Just note: you do need to purchase a drink from these locations before filling up your cup again and again! Also, our DFB team members have checked with cast members at each location to confirm that refills are, indeed, allowed during your meal at the restaurant. [Read more…]

Disney Dining Tips: What to Expect on Peak Booking Days

Are you excited to book your Low-Cost Seminars and Demos or Special Events for the 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival?

OF COURSE you are!! You know who else is excited?

Buddy Valastro Demo at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Buddy Valastro Demo at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Lots and lots (and LOTS) of other people. ;)

Booking for Special Events and Demos and Seminars for the Festival will open to the general public on July 30th at 7 am this year, and the popularity of these events makes that date into something we call a Peak Booking Day — a day when you never quite know what to expect, because the phone lines and online booking engines are often jammed with folks trying to nab their top choices.

"Thank you for calling..."

Get ready to dial!

Of course, sought-after bookings aren’t unique to the Food and Wine Festival. Just ask anyone who’s ever tried to [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Be Our Guest Restaurant in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom was an overnight sensation, and has stayed at the top of every Disney fans’ must-get-a-reservation list.

The crazy to get a table has reached epic proportions and has resulted in an unprecedented move: this counter-service-at-lunch spot now offers Advance Dining Reservations. (Previously, Be Our Guest tested lunch Fast Passes. See more information on the move to ADRs here.) Dinner, which continues to be table service, also requires ADRs just as soon as your 180-day window opens.

And now, after hearing rumors forever, Be Our Guest just started testing Breakfast Service. We had a chance to try it for ourselves the very first morning it was served!

Be Our Guest Restaurant sign

Be Our Guest Restaurant sign

I’ve enjoyed all three meals here. The food has been good to great, and the impeccable themeing make this a must-do experience at least once.

Gargoyle Light Post and Waterfall

Scenery Begins Before You Ever Enter the Castle: Gargoyle Light Post and Waterfall

But I never like to assume a place continues to be awesome — especially a spot as busy as this. It’s very easy for busy restaurants to nose dive in the quality department, and to trade on their fame alone. And so, it’s become pretty important to me to check in with Be Our Guest periodically to see if I’d still recommend that you fight the good fight to get a table here. And that’s just what I did on a recent lunch visit.

Join me, won’t you?


Be Our Guest has taken a hybrid approach to service since day one. While dinner is a table service meal, lunch continues to be…not so much counter service, as upscale quick service. But now there’s officially a twist to lunch — you can (and totally, totally should) book an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR for short). So you’ll check in for lunch much the same as you do for dinner.

Check In for Be Our Guest Restaurant

Check In for Be Our Guest Restaurant

My, how things have changed. Thanks to ADRs (and the fact that standby waiting often isn’t even available), the routinely crazy-long line for lunch doesn’t start up at the crack of 10AM anymore.

Be Our Guest Entrance

Be Our Guest Entrance

Wanna see what I mean? Here’s a view from the pre-ADR lunch days. Yikes!

Lunch Line at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Lunch Line at Be Our Guest Restaurant

But don’t get any ideas that you’re just going to stroll in for a quick look-see. Nearly the only ticket that will gain you access to Beast’s Castle is an ADR.

Entrance Into the West Wing


Once you’re through the entrance (woo! You made it!), be sure to take in every detail. Be Our Guest is truly a gem, and a stunning example of Disney’s ability to imagine and bring to real life the animated worlds that they’ve created.

To your left, you can see just what I mean. Fans of the film will remember the backstory of Beauty and the Beast at the beginning of the film, told through a series of stained glass windows. And in the final scenes of the film, a new window is shown — with Belle and her Prince. You’ll find the scene immortalized in a mosaic at Be Our Guest.

Belle and Prince Stained Glass Window

Belle and Prince Stained Glass Window

But to get your lunch party started, you’ll actually head to your right, down the Gallery. The narrow passageway is lined with shining suits of armor standing at attention — and it’s one of my favorite spots in the restaurant.

Whispering Suits of Armour

Enchanted Suits of Armour

These Enchanted Suits of Armour whisper, crack jokes, and generally just have a good time.

More Whispering Suits of Armour

More Enchanted Suits of Armour

I’m going to take you a little out of the normal DFB sequence here so that we keep the order of how things work at Be Our Guest. Once you leave the Gallery, you enter the ordering area. And this is why I don’t call Be Our Guest a counter service spot. Here, you can see to the right the Digital Menu Boards that feature lunch items.

Digital Menu Boards

Digital Menu Boards

And directly ahead, there are kiosks. Some are manned with Cast Members who can take your order, and others are available for guests to enter their information directly. I chose the self serve option.

Instructions for Ordering

Instructions for Ordering

From there, the detailed menu took me through each stage of ordering. Here are the adult options. A “1” over the item indicates that it is part of our order. Because I had a FastPass to dine at Be Our Guest (this was before the restaurant changed to ADRs), I pre-ordered, making the ordering process slightly faster once I got there. It was just a matter of confirming our choices.

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu -- Entrees

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu — Entrees

And here’s a screen which shows you Kids’ Meal options. We had pre-selected a meal for the child in our party as well.

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu -- Kids' Meals

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu — Kids’ Meals

An additional pop-up menu for the Kids’ Meal gave us the opportunity to change up any beverages or side dishes.

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu -- Kids' Picks Options

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu — Kids’ Picks Options

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu -- Kids Picks Options

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu — Kids’ Picks Options

It’s at this point that you pay. Once payment is taken care of, you either receive a [Read more…]

News! Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest Restaurant Introduces a New Standby Policy

UPDATE: Please note that as of February 25, 2015, Be Our Guest Restaurant began to accept Advanced Dining Reservations for lunch. For further information, please click here

Have you been caught in the forever-line that is lunch at Be Our Guest Restaurant?

Then you’ll love the news we are reporting today!

The SUPER popular Magic Kingdom restaurant has instituted a new Standby Policy for guests who show up for lunch without a FastPass+ reservation.

We’ve got all of the details right here!

Be Our Guest Restaurant Standby Lunch Policy

Guests at Magic Kingdom who would like to dine at Be Our Guest Restaurant in New Fantasyland may be able to skip the crazy long lines going forward — even if they don’t score a FastPass+ reservation.

Return Card for Be Our Guest Restaurant Lunch Dining

Return Card for Be Our Guest Restaurant Lunch Dining

And if you’re thinking this looks a whole lot like the old FastPass system for attractions that used cards, you are on the right track.

Basically, if you’d like to eat at Be Our Guest Restaurant for lunch, which continues to be a quick-service affair, head over to New Fantasyland to the entrance of the restaurant.

You’ll be greeted by a Cast Member, who will give you a card like the one above. The card will provide a window with a time for your party to return to Be Our Guest. Once the cards are all passed out for the day, signs are set out that no more guests can dine at lunch for the day.

And the super awesome news? It means that lines like THIS will hopefully be a thing of the past!

Line to get in to Be Our Guest Restaurant for Lunch

Line to get in to Be Our Guest Restaurant for Lunch

After all, who wants to spend half their day in Magic Kingdom waiting in a line for lunch??

We were on hand this morning to get all of the details. The Cast Member explained the process to us in terms of [Read more…]

Review: FastPass+ Lunch at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

UPDATE: Please note that as of February 25, 2015, FastPass+ is no longer available, as Be Our Guest Restaurant began to accept Advanced Dining Reservations for lunch. For further information, please click here

I had an awesome weekend in Disneyland, but today I’m headed to New Fantasyland with a lunch review of Be Our Guest Restaurant in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom!

The restaurant has taken the park by storm. Even after being open for more than a year, it’s still one of the top draws in New Fantasyland. If you want to eat lunch here, be prepared for long lines!

But on a recent visit to Walt Disney World, I had a little surprise awaiting me in my email inbox — the opportunity to use FastPass+ for a lunch reservation at Be Our Guest. No way was I passing up the opportunity to eat lunch here without waiting in line. Come along with me across the bridge to the Beast’s Castle!


We first told you about the FastPass+ system a while back, when Erin Foster had the opportunity to test it out.

Be Our Guest Restaurant!

Be Our Guest Restaurant

Erin found the whole process to be practically flawless. So I was anxious to see if they had streamlined it even further since that early testing phase.

Booking the FastPass+ reservation was similar to making a regular advance dining reservation. I thought the FastPass+ option for Be Our Guest was still an invite-only opportunity, but if you see the comment by a reader below, it looks like anyone with a resort reservation can book it. I haven’t tried, so let us know what your mileage is.

Once I’d logged in at the special website, I was offered several different times to dine. The time window works like a regular FastPass — you have a specific window of time in which to show up and use your FastPass. I chose a late lunchtime, but I was really hoping for an early option.

And here’s a TIP: I preferred an earlier dining time, so I checked back the next morning and an earlier spot had opened up! So be sure to secure a table, any table. There’s a good chance you can change your time later. In fact, you can change your time up until arrival.

FastPass+ Ordering

Choosing the Time for Your FastPass+ Reservation is Easy

I took advantage of the opportunity to order online. The menu that popped up looked similar to the ones I had used during my previous lunch visit.

I could even make alterations to the entrees — leave off a sauce, for instance — and the menu would show me the nutritional information changes for different choices.

FastPass+ Ordering

Ordering an Entree Via FastPass+

I could even pre-order drinks and desserts.

FastPass+ Ordering

FastPass+ Dessert Ordering!

On the day of my reservation, I arrived a little early and checked in at the same spot where you confirm your dinner advance dining reservation. The cast member gave me a rose — the customary red one, not the yellow ones that were used during earlier testing — and directed me to a FastPass+ line that was right beside the regular line.

Be Our Guest Restaurant Check-In Area

Be Our Guest Restaurant Check-In Area

And speaking of lines, they’re still long. Real long. Like, back to The Little Mermaid long. It was spring break though, so I’m hoping it’s not always so crazy.

But if you really want to eat here, be encouraged by the fact that the line generally moves pretty quick. It took about 30 minutes for me to get in the last time from the back of the bridge.

Line to get in to Be Our Guest Restaurant for Lunch

Line to get in to Be Our Guest Restaurant for Lunch

Once in, I went to the podium via the FastPass+ line and was directed to a regular pay kiosk. The cast member confirmed my order and I paid there.

Checking in for my Reservation

Cast Members Help Guests with Ordering

It’s important to note that I could have changed anything or everything about my order at this point — from my selections, to leaving some of the trimmings off of my sandwich.

Normally, I show you the menus closer to the food, but the ordering process is a little different at Be Our Guest, so let’s take a look at them here.

Main Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Main Menu — Click to Enlarge

You can also read up on the way things work here if you’re still a little confused :-)

Desserts and How Things Work at Be Our Guest -- Click to Enlarge

Desserts and How Things Work at Be Our Guest — Click to Enlarge

If you aren’t visiting Be Our Guest for lunch via a FastPass+ invitation, you will still be directed to a cast member or kiosk to place your order.

Banner Over Ordering Kiosk

Banner Over Ordering Kiosk

Kiosk Where You Place Your Order

Kiosk Where You Place Your Order

At that time, you’ll be given your rose.

Rose That Tells My Food Where to Find Me

Rose That Tells My Food Where to Find Me

And this is where the two experiences meet up! From there, I went to the drink station, which is self-serve during lunch.

Drink Station

Drink Station

Don’t you love the fancied up fountain drink station?

Drink Station -- Up Cloce

Drink Station — Up Close

I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. Real silverware and [Read more…]

6 New Things You’ve Gotta Try in Disney World!

So we all have our Disney food favorites.

You know them — the ones that would result in tears, anger, and staged protests if they ever disappear from menus. It’s okay. You can admit it.

Because I’d totally be leading the charge if they ever stop serving Dole Whip Floats.

But even with all the amazing favorites that give us warm fuzzies (and, in my case, cause me to go back to Disney parks over and over again), I still love Disney’s mission to surprise and delight guests with new offerings. It seems like every week, there’s something they’re debuting that I go nutso over — and off I go to add it to the next trip’s “must-eat” list.

Today, I’m offering a run down of the latest things that are on the list for my next trip. I’ve tried a few already, and others are completely new to me. And even though I’ll be in the ‘World smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, I’m saving room for these treats!

Gourmet Cake Cups at Magic Kingdom’s Cheshire Cafe

You Guys. I have a new FAVORITE obsession. And this time, it starts with Cake. And ends with Cup. Instead of the other way around.

We brought you the first look at the new Gourmet Cake Cups at Magic Kingdom’s Cheshire Cafe just recently. This spot in Fantasyland, formerly known as Enchanted Grove, has always been cute, but it’s never numbered among our “must-visits.”

But that has changed completely since they introduced these amazing treats.

Cheshire Cake Cup. The Stuff That My Cake Dreams Are Made Of. (Namely, Frosting.)

I mean seriously, you would think they picked up the phone, called me, and said, “AJ, we’re making a new treat, and you’re in charge of R&D.”

The parfaits are a topsy-turvy, whimsical take on a cupcake, turning the über popular treat into what it should be: a vehicle for frosting. I mean really, when was the last time you ate a cupcake and said, “Gee, that was pretty good, but I really could have used more cake.”

Um. Never.

And this cake cup got it RIGHT.

Look at All. Of. This. Frosting!

So it was a given that I made a beeline for [Read more…]

Review: Be Our Guest Restaurant Lunch

UPDATE: Please note that as of February 25, 2015, Be Our Guest Restaurant began to accept Advanced Dining Reservations for lunch. For further information, please click here

Last month I was so excited to bring you my “Everything on the Menu!!” review of dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant.

Today, it’s time to head back into New Fantasyland for my very first taste of lunch at this must-do restaurant!

Be Our Guest Bridge Entrance

Because Be Our Guest Restaurant differs greatly from the run-of-the-mill counter service spots around Disney, I’m going structure this review according to how you progress through the restaurant. Follow the headlines, and it should all make sense. :-)

We have a ton of great detail to cover, so let’s get right to it!

In Line!

Amid a backdrop of rugged, austere mountains of New Fantasyland, you find the bridge and gateway that ushers you into Beast’s enchanted castle, home to Be Our Guest Restaurant.

Now that the enormous eatery is officially opened, there are still extraordinarily long lines for lunch on many days, as guests await their turn to see inside and sample the food.

Line to Get into Be Our Guest for Lunch

Line to Get in From My Perspective

We know that Disney is testing a fastpass like system and a pre-ordering for Be Our Guest, so the lines may soon be a thing of the past. But, in the meantime, be sure you know when they begin serving lunch (usually around 10am or 10:30am) so that you can get there early.

Regardless, the line did move quickly (it’s about a 30 minute wait from the back of the bridge); and soon, I was walking into the castle.

Ordering Process

Once inside, you find pretty much exactly what you would expect: low-lighted spaces with beamed ceilings reminiscent of medieval European castles. Enchanted suits of armor guard the long entryway. At the end of the hall, you see the stained glass window depicting Belle and Beast’s famous dancing scene.

Suits of Armor in Entry Hallway (c) Disney

Listen closely, and you’ll hear the suits of armor murmuring to each other in French accents!

As you enter the ordering area, thoughtful touches tell you that you’ve arrived in the beast’s library!!

Ordering Area

This ornate room is home to a cozy fireplace and Beast’s enormous chair. You’ll also find the automated ordering areas masquerading as [Read more…]