Review and Preview: The Causeway at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic

It’s almost time! The Fifth Annual Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic is just around the corner!

2014 Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic Thumbnail Logo

This event, which takes place concurrently with the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, is a fantastic evening for food and wine lovers.

This year’s Food and Wine Classic will take place on Friday, October 31 (yep! Halloween!) and Saturday, November 1. The two-day event consists of food and beverage tasting booths set up on the resort’s beautiful causeway each evening. And new for 2014, a Beer Garden experience has been added for even more great food and drink.

Guests can also take part in a number of special food and beverage seminars for an additional fee. Seminars take place at 4:30PM both days, and the Causeway booths are open from 5:30 until 9:00PM on Friday and Saturday.

We’ve enjoyed the event every year since it began, and 2013 was no exception! We thought a look back at last year’s event was the perfect way to get excited about what’s in store for 2014. Let’s head out to the Causeway for a delicious evening.

Dining al fresco on the Causeway at the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic!

Dining al fresco on the Causeway at the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic!

Atmosphere

Whether you’re staying at the Swan and Dolphin or you’re arriving from another location, head to the Promenade that connects the two resorts — that’s where the evening’s festivities will take place. We stopped by the Will Call Booth to pick up tickets.

As far as admission goes, you have options. Purchase an all-access ticket, and it’s an all-you-can-eat-and-drink pass to the booths. If you prefer, you can choose a la carte tickets instead, which are sold in books of 25.

Will Call Booth

Will Call Booth

The Check In Table provided us with handy plates and plastic wine glasses.

Check-In Table

Check-In Table

These would come in handy as we juggled plates and drinks on the Causeway.

Food and Wine Classic Tray and Glass

Food and Wine Classic Tray and Glass

Booths line the walkway leading from the Swan to the Dolphin as well as the path directly behind the Swan. There’s a lot to take in!

The Promenade

The Promenade

Hi-Top tables are scattered throughout the middle of the Causeway. You’ll also find large tables with chairs off to the side directly behind the Swan.

High Top Table

High Top Table

At the end of the Causeway closest to the Dolphin, a stage is set up for musical performance. While you sip and stroll, you can listen to live tunes!

Stage

Stage

In addition to the food and beverage booths, last year’s Classic featured a large [Read more…]

Happy Hour: Block & Hans Craft Beer Kiosk in Epcot’s America Pavilion

We have some fun news for all of you beer lovers out there!

We spied this new Craft Beer Kiosk in Epcot’s America Pavilion a while back for the first time.

Block & Hans Craft Beer Kiosk

Block & Hans Craft Beer Kiosk

Today, we’re back to tell you all about it, and to give you a closer look!

Block & Hans Craft Beer Kiosk

Block & Hans have apparently been in business since 1612, supplying fine ale to the colonies. :-) And now, you can enjoy a beer from their menu while strolling the World Showcase Promenade at Epcot.

Close Up of the Action

Close Up of the Action

You’ll find beer representing many different parts of the country on the menu here. Angry Orchard is also available for those who prefer a nice alternative to beer — Hard Cider.

Were kind of intrigued that they haven’t included any local Florida craft beers, though — you can find them on many menus around Walt Disney World.

Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Menu — Click to Enlarge

Form follows function, as they’ve chosen to “decorate” with empty beer bottles. It’s a great way to see some of the cool label art.

But all I can think of is…who got to participate in the “Let’s empty some bottles so we can decorate with them!” campaign? Because I’d really like to sign up for that team.

Beers Displayed

Beer Bottles Displayed

Fortunately, the bottles that you’ll actually consume are on ice, just as they should be on a sunny Florida day.

Brews on Ice

Brews on Ice

But — to accompany your fine beverage — Pretzels! As far as the eye can see!! And you have the full pretzel panoply here — or just about! You can choose [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland: Oktoberfest Items at Disney California Adventure

Chicken Dance your way over to DCA! As part of their Limited Time Magic promotion, Disney California Adventure is celebrating Oktoberfest with some special items at Bayside Brews.

Bayside Brews in Disney California Adventure

Available through the month of October, the special Oktoberfest items include a Bratwurst Sandwich, Bavarian Pretzels, Gingerbread Bundt Cake, and two specialty beers on tap: Karl Strauss Oktoberfest & Hofbrau Munchen Beer.

The Bratwurst Sausage is served in a garlic brioche with a side of hickory smoked bacon sauerkraut. The sandwich is $8.49 and comes with a choice of apples or potato chips.

Oktoberfest Bratwurst Meal

I have to say, my husband and I were both very surprised how great this meal was for [Read more…]

Review and Preview: The Causeway at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic

In just a few short days, we will be headed to the The Fourth Annual Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic!

This event, which coincides with the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, is a food and wine lover’s dream.

This year’s Food and Wine Classic will take place on Friday, October 18 and Saturday, October 19. The two-day event consists of food and wine tasting booths set up on the resort’s beautiful causeway each evening.

Guests can also take part in a number of special food and beverage seminars for an additional fee. Seminars take place at 4:30PM both days, and the Causeway booths are open from 5:30 until 9:00PM on Friday and Saturday.

In addition, guests can enjoy a complimentary Cocktail 101 seminar three times during each evening on the Causeway as well as live musical entertainment.

Tasting Plate from Shula's Steakhouse

We’ve had the opportunity to attend the event for the last three years, and we’re looking forward to what 2013 holds! To give you an idea of what lies in store for guests of the Food and Wine Classic, let’s take a look at the 2012 event!

Atmosphere

When you first arrive, you’ll most likely need to pick up your tickets at the Check-In Table.

Check In for the Causeway

Here, staff will check for your reservation, and you’ll receive either your tickets or a wristband, as well as a palate plate and a wine glass.

We had wristbands for the event, which meant that we were free to enjoy unlimited trips to each of the tasting stations. If you prefer a ticketed approach, however, you can purchase books of 25 tickets (most of the booth items require between 2 and 6 tickets).

Food and Wine Classic Wristbands and My Seminar Ticket

For this event, tents are lined up the length of the walkway between the Swan and Dolphin Resorts as well as along the walkway behind the Swan. The resorts are located within walking distance of Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The Causeway Setup

Tables of all sizes are covered with brightly colored tablecloths, and offer guests a place to sit and relax while enjoying their food and drink.

Tables and Booths Ready for Guests

In addition to tables with chairs, guests can also take advantage of high tops if they prefer to stand.

Individual Tables

It wasn’t too long before the crowd began to swell as guests looked forward to tasting a myriad of dishes.

Causeway is Getting Busy

On Crescent Terrace, guests could also take advantage of [Read more…]

Guest Review: Biergarten in Epcot’s Germany Pavilion

A visit to Walt Disney World includes dining at some unique restaurants! In Epcot’s Germany pavilion, the Biergarten is more than a place to eat; it’s also an entertaining venue! Welcome back guest author Rebecca Dolan with a fun review.

Everyone has a restaurant or two that, for them, make a trip to Disney World complete. For me, that’s Biergarten.

This all-you-can-eat smorgasbord in Epcot’s Germany Pavilion is one of the few restaurants I insist on visiting nearly every time I’m in Orlando. Like Rose and Crown, Biergarten was one of those places my mom made me eat as a kid and I hated it. But, now it’s one of the few places where I truly relish getting my meat and potatoes on. And, if you’re a meat and carbs kind of a guy/gal, then this is definitely the place for you!

The back of the Germany Pavilion.

Atmosphere

The Biergarten can be found at the back of the Germany Pavilion, under the big bell. The hostess stand is located outside, under the stone arch to the left.

They’re a bit particular about how things are run here, and you won’t be allowed inside the restaurant until your name is called and your party is complete.

Once you’re party is called, you’ll be shown in through these doors.

Walking inside is actually like being transported back outside, as the cavernous restaurant is designed to look like an Oktoberfest celebration being held in a town square.

A semicircle of Bavarian-style buildings, draped with flags of various German locales, arches around a central stage, while a full moon oversees the action.

Inside the courtyard.

At least once during your seating, the stage will come alive with the sounds of a lederhosen-clad band that plays everything from alpine horns to polka.

The band takes the stage. Make sure to bring your dancing shoes.

Playing the alpine horns.

More cowbell!

It’s important to note that the party atmosphere comes complete with [Read more…]

2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Booth Preview: Scotland and Brazil Booths

Excitement is building for the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! And we know that you’re looking forward to it just as much as we are!

We’re keeping track of the Food and Wine Festival marketplace booths and menus carefully, and I wanted to share a preview with you today!

As always, the culinary team at Epcot is striving to keep this classic event fresh and exciting by introducing some brand new Marketplace Booths to the mix. New for 2013 is another entry from the United Kingdom, the Scotland Marketplace Booth! And after a year long hiatus we’re also excited to see a return of another South American hotspot, the Brazil Marketplace Booth!

Let’s take a closer look at what these two marketplaces will offer this year’s festival guests.

Scotland Marketplace Booth

While we are still awaiting our first pictures of what the Scotland Marketplace Booth will actually look like (soon!), we are excited already to know some of the fun additions that the menu will bring to this year’s festival.

And check out the new stamp from the Scotland booth that guests will be able to get in their Food and Wine Festival passports! (It’s in the bottom right hand corner of the slide.)

Scotland Booth Information

The menu offers some intriguing new flavors for guests!

2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Scotland Booth Menu

  • Seared Scottish Salmon with Cauliflower Puree, Watercress and Malt Vinaigrette
  • Vegetarian Haggis with Neeps and Tatties (Griddled Vegetable Cake with Rutabaga and Mashed Potatoes)
  • Scottish Banoffee Tart with Bananas, Scottish Whisky Toffee, Walkers Shortbread Crumbles and Sweet Cream
  • Innis & Gunn® Original Beer
  • Loch Lomond Cocktail featuring Glenfiddich® 12 year
  • Glenfiddich® Scotch Flight (12, 15 and 18 year)

Seafood lovers are already looking forward to the inclusion of authentic Scottish Salmon.

Scottish Salmon with Cauliflower Puree, Watercress and Malt Vinaigrette

And the Scottish Banoffee Tart will feature a pleasant kick courtesy of Glenfiddich Whisky Cream! I can’t wait to try this one!

The Scottish Banoffee Tart will be part of the NEW Scotland Booth at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in 2013

I have no idea what to expect from the Vegetarian Haggis, but you know I’ll be first in line to try it!

The other real standout here will be a number of [Read more…]

Review: Sommerfest in Epcot’s Germany Pavilion

Editor’s Note: New entrees and side items were recently added to the menu.

Alrighty, all — it’s time to take a little field trip to Deutschland!! We’re headed to Sommerfest!

This place is as simple and what-you-see-is-what-you-get as possible, but sometimes simple and easy is exactly what you need on a long Epcot touring day. When you don’t have an advance dining reservation and you’re headed toward Epcot’s Germany Pavilion, you might consider stopping at this little counter service spot!

Sausage. Pretzel. Beer. Cake. What more do you need? Let’s check it out!

Atmosphere

Atmosphere is kind of limited, since this is basically in the giant stone waiting area of Biergarten, the pavilion’s table service restaurant. That said, the waiting area itself is very well themed and has a fun old world feel to it. That’s really something I love about the whole Germany Pavilion.

Mural Welcoming Guests

Sommerfest is located at the back of the Pavilion. Head through the “town square,” past the counter selling beer and Jägermeister on your right, to the awning that reads “Sommerfest Snacks”.

Outside View

Turn the corner to the left, and you’re there! It really isn’t much more than a serving counter. You’ll head back out to the sunshine to find a seat in the square by the fountain once you get  your food.

Speaking of seating — there’s not much of it. There are a few tables scattered inside the big covered area, and a couple of them outside as well. But if you’re visiting during prime meal hours or a busy Disney season, those WILL all be taken when you get your food. Many folks perch on the edge of the fountain, or even sit on the ground to eat up.

And one other thing — there’s almost always a line here. But your patience will be rewarded.

Cast Members at Sommerfest

Cast Members here, who are from Germany of course, know [Read more…]

Disney Dining Tip from the DFB Guide: Dining at Bars and Lounges in Walt Disney World

When it comes to Disney World, bars and lounges aren’t just adults-only destinations — and they don’t just serve drinks.

In fact, here’s a Best Kept Secret in Disney dining planningDisney bars and lounges can be great places to get a meal with the whole family. These hidden gems are often less crowded than standard restaurants, too!

In The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2013 e-Book, we have an entire section reviewing every single bar and lounge in Walt Disney World. It’s well worth a read to find out great spots to get a full meal or a snack — even with no Advance Dining Reservation!

Now let’s take a peek at a few of our favorites…

English Bulldog with Chips at Rose and Crown Pub in Epcot's UK Pavilion

Bars and Lounges Inside the Theme Parks

A Disney World trip can be hectic (meeting characters, dashing to attractions, and racing off to dining reservations!), so finding a place inside the parks to escape the hoopla is key to a relaxing vacation!

With signature cocktails, cheese plates, fondue, burgers, donuts, pasta, and more, you’ll find some truly inspired menus at Disney World’s bars and lounges. Sometimes you’ll even be able to order from the full menu of a nearby restaurant.

In Epcot, we can highly recommend stopping in to Tutto Gusto in Italy, Rose and Crown Pub in the UK, or La Cava del Tequila in Mexico.

Fireplace Area Seating at Tutto Gusto

At Tutto Gusto, order from an awesome menu of meats and cheeses, paninis, pastas, and more. A relaxing atmosphere and full tables allow for an easy meal for the whole family.

Cheeses, Meats, and Shrimp Cavatappi at Tutto Gusto Lounge in Epcot's Italy

Rose and Crown Pub, attached to Rose and Crown Restaurant, features a fun menu that — gasp! — the kids might even like! We can highly recommend the Scotch Eggs and the British Bulldog sausage (see our review of the British Bulldog here — and the photo at the top of this article)!

Scotch Eggs at Rose and Crown

If you’re there on a weekday, seek out Carl the Bartender and ask him to show you his amazing magic trick!

Carl the Bartender and the tipping pint

At La Cava del Tequila, sample a few Mexican appetizers like chips and salsa, queso, and guacamole along with your margaritas!

Chips and queso at Cava del Tequila

Another favorite place to unwind in the parks and get a great meal is at Tune-In Lounge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Here, you can get great shakes for the kids, fun signature drinks for [Read more…]

Answers to Five Frequently Asked Disney Dining Questions

Where can I find a great steak at Disney World? How about a fabulous vegetarian meal? A beer? Live Music? My Lost Dining Reservations?

After years of answering questions from our readers, we at the DFB know the information that you most need to make your Disney Dining worry-free. We’ve been covering frequently asked questions here on DFB for a while, but today we’re answering a few of our favorites!

Wondering where to find a great steak in Disney World? We've got the answers!

When you need Disney Dining Details at-a-glance, we’ve got the answers to your questions in a quick and easy format in our The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2013 e-Book so you can find the deets that you need right away. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for details on discounts!

Let’s take a look at a few of our favorite FAQs…

5 Frequently Asked Disney Dining Questions

Here are five frequently asked questions about Disney food that we’ve included in the DFB Guide to lead you to fantastic finds!

1. Where can I find a great steak in Disney World?

We recommend Yachtsman Steakhouse, Le Cellier Steakhouse, Jiko, Shula’s Steak House, and Flying Fish Café. Lesser known spots we also suggest include Teppan Edo and Kona Cafe! Yes, you can find a great steak in Walt Disney World!

Rib Eye with Sweet Potato Beignets at Yachtsman Steakhouse

2. Where can I find a good beer in Disney World?

Craft beers are becoming more widely available at Disney’s bars, lounges, and restaurants. Just a few of our favorites include featured craft beers in Epcot’s Italy pavilion, The Wave at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and Raglan Road Pub in Downtown Disney. Beer is made on-premise at Big River Grill and Brewing Works on Disney’s Boardwalk.

Of course, don’t forget to visit Rose and Crown Pub in Epcot for a great British beer list!

Choose Your Own Beer Flight of Warsteiner, Magners, Kilkenny, and Smithwicks at Raglan Road!

If you just need a six-pack for your hotel room fridge, your Disney World resort store will sell them (though they may be outrageously priced).

To save a few bucks, venture to one of the two Hess Stations on Walt Disney World property. One is across from the Boardwalk Resort; the other is across from Downtown Disney and is within easy walking distance.

3. Where can I find a fabulous vegetarian meal in Disney World?

The Animal Kingdom Lodge offers two restaurants with great vegetarian options. At Boma, the buffet has a wide selection of items for vegetarians. Nearby in Kidani Village, the menu at Sanaa has an entire section devoted to [Read more…]

The “Everything On the Menu!!” Dinner Review of Be Our Guest Restaurant in Disney World

Mystery has surrounded the creation of the Beauty and the Beast-themed Be Our Guest Restaurant — Disney’s newest dining location — since we first saw the Be Our Guest Restaurant concept art!

From the announcement that beer and wine would be served for the first time at a Magic Kingdom restaurant to our most recent Be Our Guest guest review, we’ve explored the Beast’s domain from afar.

Be Our Guest Bridge Entrance

Well, not anymore. I finally was able to dine at the Be Our Guest Restaurant in the New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom! And over the course of several meals I (and my various dining companions) ordered everything on the menu. (Well, the adult menu anyway.) I know how important it is to know what you’re getting when you’re planning your dining in Disney World, and I wanted to be thorough with this one for you guys.

After months (and months) of speculation about the decor and menu, stepping inside Be Our Guest Restaurant was truly exciting.

Be Out Guest Restaurant Check-In Area

After dining there several times this weekend, I’m anxious to bring to you my take on the food, beverages, and decor. So, let’s get started…

Atmosphere

Guests begin their experience by checking in at the Bridge entrance — a bit like a Gatekeeper’s area. This is where you make your requests for a dining room if you’d like — the Ballroom or West Wing (the Rose Gallery is usually used only for lunch, though some overflow tables are seated there during dinner currently).

Once you’re checked in, you’ll be given a pager and asked to wait on the bridge. Once your page goes off, head toward the large restaurant entrance to be greeted by the Beast’s servant who will take you to your table!

Be Our Guest Restaurant Entry Doors

Beast's Servant Leads Us To Our Table

Once you’re inside the castle, be sure to peek into the Beast’s Study. It’s the room where lunch guests make their orders, and is located right through the hallway where the Knights are all whispering to one another!

In the study, you might see Beast himself greeting his guests!

This was a surprise for those of us dining at the restaurant the first night of reservations. We’d all been told that Beast would not appear, but at 45 minute intervals throughout the evening he walks through the restaurant (with great fanfare and cheering) and then settles in [Read more…]