Orlando Sentinel Foodie Awards Include Several WDW Area Restaurants

For those of you who plan your Walt Disney World vacation around your gastronomical dreams, you may want to take note of the restaurants listed in this year’s 13th Annual Foodie Awards by the Orlando Sentinel.

Readers and critics chose these restaurants for their outstanding cuisine, and with five of the restaurants located within the WDW theme parks, you’ll need park admission and an Advance Dining Reservation to cast your vote for best meal. Check them out here! [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: September 26, 2010

Coming to you LIVE from Walt Disney World, here’s this week’s Disney Food Post Round-Up!

Reminders…

First, two reminders for this week:

  1. The Epcot Food and Wine Festival is beginning on October 1st (that’s Friday!). Here’s our quick-click guide that includes menus, photos (even pics of the food you can get THIS YEAR!), and more:
    2010 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Guide and Map
    International Marketplace Booths & Menus
    Free & Low-Cost Attractions and Demos
    Special and Signature Attractions
    Eat to the Beat! Concerts
  2. The WDW Foodie Fest is happening one week from today! On Sunday, October 3rd, we’ll hold our first ever Disney Food Blog meet-up! Come find us at Ariel’s in the Beach Club Resort between 11am-2pm. Scavenger Hunt through the Food and Wine Festival starts at 11! Read more and register at the WDW Foodie Fest Website!

This Week’s News

MNSSHP Wicked Witch Cupcake

A few news items this week, coupled with some great new stuff I’ve found at WDW:

Round-Up

And now, on to the round-up:

Tim Rogerson, the Disney artist extraordinaire (whom we interviewed HERE!), has a cool new time-lapse video of his 2010 Epcot Food and Wine Festival signature artwork!

2719 Hyperion takes us to the original Captain Cook’s Hideaway.

Frugal Dinks brings us their review of Epcot’s La Hacienda de San Angel Restaurant.

The Disney Chick makes sunflower seed bread from Epcot’s Garden Grill!

Main St Gazette dines at Rose and Crown!

Eating Around the World goes to Biergarten!

Zannaland has a pic of the new Duffy the Bear rice krispie treat!

Disney Parks Blog has an awesome video from Disneyland detailing how they made their Haunted Gingerbread House for this year’s Haunted Mansion overlay!

There’s Always Room for More at Biergarten

Fun, family, entertainment, pretzel bread, and beer! Those are the things that come to mind when you think of Disney World’s Biergarten Restaurant! It’s one of those restaurants that’s almost sure to put a smile on your face.

Atmosphere
The unassuming facade — and massive wooden door — of this Epcot Germany restaurant don’t begin to describe what you’ll find once you walk inside.

Oktoberfest at Biergarten

A soaring ceiling covers an auditorium of a restaurant, where long wooden tables surround a stage where just about anything can happen, including lederhosen!

Themed to represent a community square in a small village in Germany, the decor will automatically transport you to a different place. And in the main stage area, you’ll be treated to some wonderful authentic Alpine entertainment! Feel free to cut a rug on the [Read more…]

Dinner and a Show at World Showcase

We talk a lot about food around here (can’t imagine why), but we don’t pay nearly enough attention to some of the great entertainment that Disney provides in and around its restaurants during mealtimes. I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at a few of the Epcot World Showcase restaurantsChefs de France, Restaurant Marrakesh, Biergarten, and Teppan Edo — that offer not only great food, but also fun entertainment!

Chefs de France
One of my favorite “acts” in World Showcase is just outside Chefs de France in the France Pavilion. This hilarious duo has a couple of different “schticks” — one in which the acrobat is dressed as a tourist and comes into the act from the audience, the other in which he’s dressed as a Chefs de France server as he is in the photos below. The basic gist is that he’s just trying to clean the chairs, but the Chef continues to push him into climbing higher and higher onto the balanced mountain of furniture! The finale is breathtaking!


[Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: March 21, 2010

fessparkerwineLots happening on the Disney news front this week as we mourn Fess Parker, a man known for deeply affecting both the Disney and Food communities with his careers. In case you haven’t seen it, Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide features a wonderful write-up of Mr. Joseph’s dinner with the late Fess Parker during the 1992 Walt Disney World Village Wine Festival.

Before we start the round-up, here’s a reminder of a couple of Disney food-related news items:

  1. The Wine and Dine Half Marathon and Mickey Halloween Family Fun Run 5K details and registration information have been announced.
  2. Napa Rose is holding a Wine Pairing Dinner this Wednesday, hosted by the Napa Valley Vintners. Click on the link for reservation information.

And now, on to the Round-Up:

Main Street Gazette allows me to breathe a sigh of relief that Artist Point seems to be regaining some of the culinary expertise I’ve found lacking in my recent trips. Absolutely gorgeous food here!

Magical Kingdoms Disney Blog has a review of Walt’s — An American Restaurant in Disneyland Resort Paris. Food pics here from the adult menu, teenagers menu, and kids menu, so go take a look!

Inside John’s Locker (John, of course, being Mr. Owner’s Locker himself) shares the story of Olivia Farnsworth, the namesake of Olivia’s in Disney’s Old Key West Resort.

Dining With the Mouse has posted some mouth-watering food photos from her several Disneyland trips over the past few months. Definitely getting me excited for my DL trip in a month!

MousePlanet reports that Disneyland Chefs will be participating in demo events at area Bloomingdales Department Stores the weekend of March 24-26.

Chip and Co has a lovely article reviewing Disney World’s Biergarten…with a pretty funny icebreaker story to boot!

Watch Me Eat takes us back to Tangierine Cafe this week! We just can’t get enough!

Tasty Chomps visits the Fife and Drum Tavern in Epcot’s World Showcase. (Note/Warning: very close-up photo of a Turkey Leg if you’ve never seen one…)

The Daily Disney has one of my favorite recipes this week: Pop Century’s Fried Chicken! (Also love this Mickey’s Premium Bar antenna topper that theme park ranger DeWayne Bevil found…)

Disney Food Post Round-Up: November 8, 2009

Eat hereBefore we start out, let’s take a moment to celebrate yet another Epcot International Food and Wine Festival! It was a great one this year, I think, and I’ll be posting some reviews of culinary demonstrations throughout the year.

If you’re lucky enough to be headed to the Festival for its last day (November 8th), be sure to check out all of the Festival menus, photos, and information on the Disney Food Blog’s Epcot Food & Wine Festival page!

Now, let’s head to the round-up — there’s nothing better than spending your Sunday checking out websites that mention Disney food! These first two are a few weeks old, but I missed ‘em the first time and have to share. The rest are fresh and new. Enjoy!

MichaelBarrier shares a photo of the Disney Commissary in the 1940’s, complete with excellent commentary on who is dining in the photo. Definitely worth a look.

Yet Another Disney Blog has lots of great photos and information about the Castaway Air Bar in Castaway Cay’s Serenity Bay. Ah, the islands…

Orange County Register tells us how to get free coffee at Disneyland!

The Daily Disney (which, in this case, means Heather McPherson) shares recipes for the crab cakes from Flying Fish Cafe, the penne pasta with chicken from Olivia’s Cafe, and the smoked fish appetizer from Raglan Road.

Speaking of Raglan Road…

Everything Walt Disney World has a review of Raglan Road this week.

(If you’re a fan of Raglan Road, be sure to check out DFB’s interview with Raglan Road’s master chef, Kevin Dundon.)

DisUnplugged Disney Blog has a great interview with “Bizarre Foods” host Andrew Zimmern about the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Scott Joseph Orlando shares, via the Divas of Dish, another Food & Wine Festival recipe: Moqueqa de Camarao from Rio de Janeiro (a.k.a. shrimp stew with coconut).

DisneyFotoBlog shares some fantastic photos of Germany’s Biergarten.

The Disney Chick shares another great step-by-step photo/recipe blog for California Grill’s Garlic and Herb Polenta. Yum!

Dining in Disney World With Kids, Part 2: Suggestions from the WDW Moms Panel

Hooray! Our fourth post in the Walt Disney World Moms Panel mini-series! Thanks to all the moms for their fantastic stories, tips, and insights.

Today, this post also serves as Part 2 of our Disney Food Blog Dining in Disney World With Kids series, in which the moms share their top picks for age-appropriate dining experiences. Take it away, Moms!

From Mom Erin F. — Kids’ Ages: 10-13

I’ve got the tweens and young teen segments. The 10-yr-olds love Crystal Palace and Chef Mickey’s. There are so many choices at the buffets (breakfast pizza is a favorite!).

Tables for Tea at the Grand Floridian

Tables for Tea at the Grand Floridian

I also enjoy the Grand Floridian tea. So much of the dining at Disney is the experience, not just the food. Part of that experience is allowing kids to learn and experiment in a safe arena. When working in New York City, I was invited to tea at the Waldorf, and I was completely freaked out. I didn’t know what to do. This type of experience can help kids to learn how to handle fine dining situations that they might encounter in the future.

Finally, there are some spots that the kids like, which offer great vegetable options. Garden Grill at Epcot offers fresh veggies from the Land, and Teppan Edo includes veggies mixed into the chicken. So you can get slightly healthier food.

From Mom Amber V. — Kids’ Ages: 0-5

My kids are 4 and 16 months. Obviously we’re in the character dining phase right now, and there are definitely character meals that are better than others! Probably my favorite character breakfast is with Lilo and Stitch at ‘Ohana. I have to say that while I enjoy the wider variety of foods available at a buffet, there is something to be said about the food being delivered to your table. I can’t count the number of times I’ve run up to a buffet to grab something and missed seeing my kids with one of the characters. At ‘Ohana you don’t have to worry about that, and the food that they bring to you is quite good. I’m a big fan of the breakfast potatoes. They are seasoned with just the right amount of salt, and your server will always bring more! We enjoy this breakfast from start to finish – the welcome bread and fresh fruit are a great way to start. Also, Mickey waffles . . . enough said!

Another favorite character meal is the Garden Grill at Epcot. Again, served family style which makes the whole experience so much more relaxing and enjoyable for Mom and Dad! My four year old daughter got a huge kick out of the fact the restaurant slowly rotates and just loved watching the changing view. The food is great and I like how the menu changes based on the season and what types of fresh fish and vegetables are available. They bring out food for the adults and the basic kid favorites like macaroni and cheese and fries for the kids who may not be so adventurous. The Garden Grill is another great meal from start to finish, and currently the only character meal to meet Chip and Dale!

From Mom Anna S. — Kids’ Ages: 4-18

Eeyore Leads a Parade at Crystal Palace

Eeyore Leads a Parade at Crystal Palace

I have kids that range in age from 4 through 18, so we have to work with a huge range of tastes and entertainment preferences. My oldest daughter has the most adventurous palate in the group, and at 18, she thinks she’s worldly and sophisticated. She loves places like Sanaa, can’t wait to try Kouzzina (Christmas week, I hope!), and raves about Restaurant Marrakesh.

The two little ones wouldn’t think a trip to Disney World was complete without a visit to Crystal Palace or Chef Mickey’s, but they are old enough now to really enjoy the entertainment at Whispering Canyon Cafe and ‘Ohana. The one place the whole family loves and returns to often is Boma. The kids are comfortable there, they love visiting the savanna before and after dinner, we enjoy the story tellers and the parade in the lobby, and the food is amazing.

From Mom Kara B. — Kids’ Ages: 7-14

We cherished the chance to bring my father with us to 50s Prime Time Cafe. He pretty much sat there talking about the shows he had watched that were on the TV as well as all the little knick knacks and decor he remembered. An absolute nostalgic moment for him.

TV Table at 50's Prime Time Cafe

TV Table at 50's Prime Time Cafe

Meanwhile, my kids were, of course, totally absorbed by the TV shows (they are such zombies if anything is playing on a screen) as well as all the antics of the cast members. So much giggling, and I didn’t have to ask them to finish their veggies or keep their elbows off the table! The funniest thing was my son disappeared into the bathroom for a suspiciously long time — he had been washing his hands thoroughly in case they checked beforehand.

Similarly, I think Whispering Canyon Cafe is a hoot! We ate there with my family, my brother’s family, and my parents. Immediately, the cast members placed bandanna hats of various shapes on all of our heads, so we were all laughing at one another (forgetting we each had hats). Then all of those mischievous antics of the cast members; we all laughed and laughed and laughed. The kids all enjoyed the pony races, too. And I come a family of huge carnivores (I’m constantly mocked, sadly, since I prefer soybean curd), so the endless platters of meat were perfect for them.

From Mom Joanne M. — Daughter’s Age: 9

There are really too many, so here are my nine year old’s current faves. Last month we visited the 50’s Prime Time Cafe for the first time, and she still hasn’t stopped talking about it. The decor is totally cool, with old fashioned TVs and furnishings. The service totally makes the experience! You really do feel like you’re in your granny’s kitchen, and the best part was when the server fed Nicole her veggies.

Whispering Canyon Cafe has been our must do for the past several years and remains in my daughter’s top two! The food is consistently good, but we go back for the activities, antics and excitement. Be forewarned, it’s LOUD! But guests of all ages get up and dance the hokey pokey, sing happy birthday to fellow diners, and participate in wooden horse races through the restaurant. No matter what you order, be sure to ask for ketchup!

From Mom Whitney P. — Kids’ Ages: 4-13

Because we have four children, from age four to 13, three girls and a boy, I am always on the hunt for restaurants with BROAD appeal both on the menu and in the experience. ‘Ohana’s all-you-can-eat fare fills up my growing 9- and 12-year-old boys, and is varied enough for my picky 4-year-old.

Wonderful CM at 'Ohana Dinner

Wonderful CM at 'Ohana Dinner

The coconut races and limbo are fun for everyone, even hula lessons for my teenager girl. If you’re not able to time your reservation just right to watch the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from the restaurant while they pipe in the accompanying music, you can always head down to the Polynesian’s beach for the view!

Biergarten has become a perennial favorite because my kids love the buffet that’s heavy on meat and potatoes fare with familiar flavors. It’s the floor show that can get folks out of their seats, though, especially for the Chicken Dance!

If I could add a third, it would be Teppan Edo. The chefs do a fantastic job of slicing and dicing as entertainment, and with grilled chicken, meat, or seafood on the menu, there’s something for everyone.

From Mom Jo Y. — Kids’ Ages: 11-13

My girls are aged 11 and 13 and every trip they request the same 2 restaurants. Their favourite character spot is the Crystal Palace as they both adore the Winnie the Pooh characters. They also love all the food on offer; the choice is huge so everyone will be able to find something they like.

For fine dining they love Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian; they enjoy the fact that it’s a more grown up restaurant and it serves “posh” food. They also like a reason to dress up!

From Mom Kim L. — Son’s Age: 9

I went straight to my 9 year old to answer this question. My son says his two top picks are Chef Mickey’s and San Angel Inn. Chef Mickey’s is a hit because it’s fun with the characters and your family can ride the monorail after dinner. San Angel Inn is a top choice because if you request a water table, then your child is entertained by waving at people as the boats float by.

From Mom Kay B. — Kids’ Ages: Adult; Grandkids’ Ages: Toddler

First I will speak about my grandkids (toddler age): The top restaurant experience for this age is Mickey’s Backyard Barbecue in Fort Wilderness. Toddlers are hard to keep in their seats and here is a great spot where you can get them to eat some good food (same as you would get at the Hoop De Doo Revue) and where they can dance their evening away with the characters and the live country music band. This is the best up close and personal character opportunity as well, since they can choose the character to dance with and be with him/her for as long as they want. There are always a couple of characters who stand quietly off to the side for those who are more shy. Parents can sit back and enjoy a glass of wine or beer while their kids are happy and letting loose all their energy so they can go home and sleep well!

Chef Mickey at Chef Mickey's Restaurant

Chef Mickey at Chef Mickey's Restaurant

Second choice is the Chef Mickey character dining at the Contemporary resort. This is just a great place to see all the major known Disney characters all at once, and the food buffet is outstanding. You will often see more adults taking food from the “kids” section, and I will admit I have snagged some of the great mac and cheese myself. The dessert choices are wonderful, and the kids love making their sundaes topped with all kinds of unhealthy things!

Now for my kids’ age (young adults): My children have always enjoyed the opportunity to get dressed up and head out for some special dining experiences, so Victoria and Alberts is a top choice for this and especially the Chef’s Table opportunity. But for families watching their budgets this spot becomes more exclusive. So the other choices would be Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian, as their menu is sophisticated but still in touch with a young palate. It is off the beaten path for many guests and can tend to be a little more quiet then some of the other restaurants.

For entertainment purposes I have two second choices and those would be 50’s Primetime Cafe in Hollywood Studios and the Hoop De Doo Revue in Fort Wilderness. Primetime is a classic spot to remind your teens or young adults of their often forgotten table manners. They soon realize if they don’t heed your advice they could be singing “I’m a Little Teapot” to all the other guests and making that a stepping stone for their next Idol audition! Hoop De Doo Revue is just a fun and rowdy place for all ages to let down and get into the moment. If you are lucky enough to be chosen for a participating part in the show it is even more fun. Young adults can enjoy humor too!

From Dad Doug I. — 2 Princesses (not sure of the ages, Doug!)

The first is Chef Mickey’s. It has some of the best buffet-line foods, and the setting and character experience are ideal for younger children. The second is 50’s Prime Time Cafe. I think that the kids enjoy a bit of sassy fun, and the food is always great.

From Mom Heather R. — Kids’ Ages: 2-6

My daughters are younger — 6.5, 4, and 2.5 — so character meals and buffets are perfect for them right now. One of our favorites is the Play and Dine at Hollywood & Vine character meal in Hollywood Studios. It’s a buffet, so the kids can dig in immediately, which at this age is often very important so they don’t get restless waiting for food to arrive.

Little Einsteins Sign Autographs at Hollywood and Vine

Little Einsteins Sign Autographs at Hollywood and Vine

Breakfast there is good, but we prefer lunch. There are a wide variety of dishes to choose from (my girls adore the seafood pasta) and Jo-Jo, Goliath, Leo, and June (Little Einsteins) keep the kids entertained. The children are periodically invited up front to sing and dance along with their favorite characters, which is fun for the kids and gives mom and dad a chance to eat un-interrupted, if only for a moment. The only downside to this restaurant is that it shares restrooms with the 50’s Prime Time Cafe, and there is always quite a wait. I’d recommend taking your children for a potty break in the park just before you have your meal.

A fun, non-character meal for kids is dinner at ‘Ohana in the Polynesian resort. While not a buffet, the food is served family style so it arrives quickly, and service is always very attentive. You’ll also find a strolling ukulele player, leis for the kids, and fun games like coconut races and hula hoop contests to keep little ones entertained.

From Mom Jodi G. — Kids’ Ages: 3-5

My kids are age 3 and 5, and I recommend ‘Ohana (for breakfast) and the Garden Grill (for dinner) for families like mine.

From Mom Beth C. — Kids’ Ages: 11-13

Whispering Canyon Cafe in the Wilderness Lodge is one of my family’s favorite restaurants! This little restaurant tucked in the Wilderness Lodge has a simple, down home menu. Ribs, chicken, and pork chops are done with a northwestern flair. They have amazing all you can drink milkshakes. However, the fun at this restaurant is why we make it a regular on our trips! The jokes, the pony races and ketchup – trust me to ask for ketchup – make this a fun place to dine! You can be loud and get a great meal. It is near the Magic Kingdom via a short boat ride, and the Wilderness Lodge is a beautiful hotel. After a day in the park, it is nice to go somewhere else to eat. You can then go back to the park or head home for the evening.

California Grill Sunset

California Grill Sunset

Also, when my family goes on vacation, we like to treat ourselves. We do things that we would not do at home. It is also an opportunity to get dressed up and eat at fancy restaurants. While we live just outside Manhattan and have amazing restaurants near home, it is not something we do except on vacation. My husband, Jim, and I really believe that our girls will never know how to appreciate fine dining if they do not experience it. With this in mind, I would recommend the California Grill. We first visited this restaurant alone and then again when Jess and Nicole were three and five. We rediscovered it last year when we were looking for a special night out. The food is always different and seasonal – pumpkin raviolis are yummy in the fall. You can see the chefs preparing the food, which I think helps children appreciate the hard work that goes into the meal. The pastry chef even explained his dishes to my girls. The atomosphere is great, especially if you have an Advance Dining Reservation which overlaps the fireworks. Watching the fireworks from the top of the Contemporary is so cool. My husband’s only disappointment is that they no longer make the most amazing lemon chiffon souffle!

From Mom Margaret F. — Kids’ Ages: 6-12

Our top two locations to dine with our children are easily:
1. Chef Mickey’s: what could be better than dining with the big cheese himself? The location is fun and lively with the open area to the Contemporary resort and the monorail zipping though, it just has such a fun happy feeling to it. Of course the added bonus of Mickey and his pals can’t be beat, and my kids love the “dance parties” throughout the restaurant. There is a great selection of salads, fruits, vegetables, meats, and desserts, so even the pickiest eater should be able to find something to fill their stomachs. This is a great location to celebrate a birthday with the children and just enjoy the magic of Disney.

Teppan Edo Chef

Teppan Edo Chef

2. Coral Reef (and a close second Teppan Edo): While both of these locations may seem like they are better suited to an adult guest, they are very kid friendly. There are delicious choices on the kids menu, and personally my husband and I never have a problem finding an entree here. These two spots are all about the setting for our family. There is a great entertainment value here and my boys have always been mesmerized by the scenery and the “show”. Coral Reef offers an amazing view of the floor to ceiling aquarium that runs the entire length of the restaurant. My kids love watching all of the fish, sharks, and turtles (with an occasional scuba diver) swim by. It is like a science class while we eat. Teppan Edo offers a table side show performed by the very talented and entertaining chefs. The boys love watching them chop, dice, and grill our meal right before out eyes. At both locations there is never a cry of “How much longer”, or “I’m bored,” and that is priceless to us.

Thanks again to all the “moms” who are participating in the interviews! Be sure to check out the first post in this series if you missed it: Dining in Disney World With Kids, Part 1.

Don’t forget, if you’d like to share your “most magical Disney Dining moment,” send me an email! I’m collecting stories and will post them in the next post of “Chicken Soup for the Disney Foodie soul!”

Dining In Disney World With Kids: Part 1

Introducing the Disney Food Blog Dining in Disney World With Kids two-part series! Thanks to Zannaland for guest blogging Part 1, where she includes a few of her favorite family secrets. And stay tuned for tomorrow’s Part 2 in the series, where Disney World Moms Panelists determine the best dining locations for kids of certain ages. There are some very informative and surprising ideas that I think you’ll enjoy!

Parent or not, the wonderful dining options and experiences for kids at Disney World are no secret. But what if you don’t want to spend your entire vacation doing character meals? (Not that there’s anything wrong with those — they offer some of the best food on property!) What I’d like to share are some of the dining secrets we’ve discovered over the years as the best options for something different. They may just become regular favorites for your family!

Best Location For a Nap

    maya

  • Maya Grill - This restaurant became a favorite of ours during a stay at Coronado Springs Resort when we were unable to secure a breakfast reservation anywhere else. We had been to Maya Grill for dinner on its opening night, but hadn’t tried it for breakfast. We were so pleasantly surprised by the food as well as the fact that it was not crowded at all. It was nice to enjoy a peaceful, leisurely breakfast for a change. For that reason, it makes it a great location for a stroller-bound child to enjoy a nap without interruption. The location also makes for some lovely scenery as you walk off your meal.
  • Columbia Harbor House - Magic Kingdom’s hustle and bustle excitement is sometimes too much for the littlest guests, and all the over-stimulation leads to not wanting to nap at all. Columbia Harbor House is a respite from that stimulation. The dark paneling and dimly lit interior ensure no distractions for tired kids. Even on the hottest of days, it’s always cool and calm inside. Sometimes, the second floor is open for even more secluded dining. Once they wake up, there are some great kids’ favorites here like Mac & Cheese and Chicken Nuggets.

Best Entertainment

    sanaa

  • Sanaa - Animals are perhaps the most engaging entertainment for little kids. Young kids are just learning different animals’ names and habitats, but even older kids will be fascinated by the on-going show happening just outside the dining room windows at Sanaa, located in Disney’s Kidani Village in Animal Kingdom
    Lodge. The best part is the show is completely unpredictable and different each time you visit. Your server is also able to tell you more about the animals as well as the unique cooking options offered at Sanaa, making it a great learning experience for all.
  • Germany’s Biergarten - One of my fondest childhood memories at Disney World is seeing the German Ocktoberfest show in Epcot’s World Showcase for the first time. More than just the great music and singing, guests are invited onto the dance floor to show off their best polka moves. Wonderful memories and photo opportunities are to be had here watching kids dance with parents and grandparents. It’s also an easy-to-walk-in location if you don’t have reservations.

Best Kids’ Activities

  • Olivia’s - Disney Food Blog’s recent entry about Olivia’s reminded me of this favorite spot, located at Disney’s Old Key West Resort. Amazing food and scenery aside, Olivia’s offers a special treat for all children – Olivia’s Artist of the Day. Upon arrival, kids are given a coloring sheet and crayons to color however they wish. Then they turn in their masterpieces, and twice a day – morning and evening – cast members choose an Artist of the Day. The chosen artwork is displayed at the front hostess stand, and the winning child gets to ring a bell in celebration. Despite the sibling rivalry when my son was chosen first, both kids were chosen during our stay and it made for quite the memorable experience.
  • Whispering Canyon Cafe Warnings

    Whispering Canyon Cafe Warnings

    Whispering Canyon Cafe - This is perhaps not a real secret to many Disney World fans, but I couldn’t pass up talking about it. Whispering Canyon Cafe offers some of the best entertainment around, and there really isn’t a set show at all! Here, your servers are the entertainment, often yelling back and forth to each other and joking around. For even more fun, ask for ketchup. (If you’re shy, sit back and wait for someone else to ask for it; I’ve never been there when someone hasn’t asked for ketchup, and the fun ensues.) There are also several times when kids can engage in pony races using wooden hobby horses. There is definitely no shortage of entertainment for kids and adults here.

WDW Moms Panelists Consider: What Are Some Underrated Disney World Restaurants?

Here’s our third post in the Walt Disney World Moms Panel mini-series! You’ve met some of the moms and heard about their most magical Disney dining moments and their thoughts about the best dining values in Disney World. Today we get to hear what restaurants the moms think might not grab the spotlight as much as they should…

From Mom Erin F.

The Wave Trio of Desserts

The Wave Trio of Desserts

The Wave – really nice stuff and good wine flights. Good tasting desserts, and they have really lovely food.

Another one that I tried – Raglan Road – had really delicious food. And I was very pleasantly surprised by the food on the plate (I had shepherd’s pie). The Strawberry Salad was poppin’ in your mouth delicious. If they can make a basic green salad so tasty, they’ve got something good going on.

From Mom Amber V.

The two places that come to mind are the Grand Floridian Cafe and Maya Grill. I think they both get lost in the shuffle, especially if you aren’t staying at the Grand Floridian or Coronado Springs. When we ate at Maya Grill, we were able to walk up and get a table without an ADR, which was a surprise. We found the menu, service and atmosphere to be really wonderful. The Grand Floridian Cafe is a great choice for a refreshing, light lunch and is also a nice respite from the parks.

From Mom Anna S.

It seems to me that the one restaurant I can ALWAYS get a reservation for is Restaurant Marrakesh at EPCOT, and I love it there. We have had some of the best, most attentive servers of our Disney dining experiences there, and there is never the feeling that you are being rushed so they can turn the tables over. The kids enjoy the music and dancing, and the food is delicious. We eat here at least every other visit.

From Mom Jennifer W.

Flying Fish Cafe! I rarely hear anyone talking about makings ADRs here, and it is one of the best restaurants at WDW! It is a bit on the pricey side but worth every dime. The chef will even come to your table to personally discuss your order if you like. The atmosphere is a calming change from the hustle and bustle of many restaurants and the food is top notch. I highly recommend The Flying Fish to all my friends who are looking for something different at WDW.

From Mom Kara B.

Walt Disney On-Screen at Sci-Fi Dine In

Walt Disney On-Screen at Sci-Fi Dine In

Disney provides a chance to experience something new and exciting around every corner, so often for us a magical Disney experience may be more about the experience rather than the actual food. For example, Sci-Fi is an absolute must see for us every trip, regardless of the constant criticism regarding the food. Stick with hamburgers and milkshakes and all is good (I’ll gladly share that their tofu entree is de-lic-ious!). However for us, it is clearly the atmosphere that makes this restaurant a must-do. In the middle of a hot trip (we visit in June), escaping into the cool “night” air is so relaxing. The kids sit in the front seat; my husband and I sit in the back. We feel like we are on a date because the kids are shockingly silent watching those campy movies. In fact, the entire restaurant is eerily quiet. Again, total relaxation. And of course, we all get those silly drinks with light-up ice cubes and use them at home for a fun souvenir.

From Mom Joanne M.

1. Fulton’s Crab House, Downtown Disney. Awesome view, fantastic food, and great selection. We love going there for lunch before heading to DisneyQuest. It’s not on the Disney Dining Plan, so we’ve never had a problem getting a table.

2. Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian Resort. The food is great, and where else can you simply turn your head and watch Wishes?

3. Kona Cafe – I have to say I’m not sure that this one is underrated, but I was so pleasantly surprised by the dining experience I have to mention it. The service was fabulous and attentive, menu varied, and great food! And the Kona Kone is the coolest dessert on Disney property!

From Mom Heather R.

In the Magic Kingdom I think the Plaza Restaurant is a real hidden gem. The location is quite convenient, and while the menu is somewhat limited, the food is excellent and the portions are quite large. My Chicken Strawberry Salad was not only delicious, but HUGE – easily shared between two people.

At the Fort Wilderness Resort, the Trail’s End Restaurant serves up home cooking style food at a very reasonable price, and since it’s a buffet (and a reasonably priced one at that!) it offers a good bang for your buck.

The Grand Floridian Cafe (guess where?) is also a real hidden gem. I can’t recommend any one particular standout menu item, but I know that every meal I’ve had there has been very good, service was attentive, and I leave intending to visit again. In a way I like it when that happens, because if I eat somewhere and have a particularly fantastic dish, I’m very likely to never try anything else! It’s good to branch out. :)

From Mom Whitney P.

Where do I begin? The Boardwalk Pizza take-out window is one of the best values, with a pepperoni pizza slice at $3.99! Its crust is like no other pizza on property! My indulgence is opening packet after packet of parmesan cheese and topping it off. I like to eat it outside at one of the nearby tables and people-watch. That, with a view of the water, is a great dining experience whether you’re alone or with your family.

If you’re looking for night-life, I recommend Kimono’s at the Swan. I’m a fan of karaoke and can sing with the best of them–from the comfort of my seat! It has the most extensive sushi menu on property, in my opinion, and if no one has the guts to get on the small stage and belt something out, you can sing along with the evening’s hostess.

From Mom Jo Y.

My family love Kona Cafe at the Poly, last trip I had the most delicious steak there, I much preferred it to Le Cellier and recommend it to everyone. I love how they have sample desserts on show as you enter the restaurant and if you time it right you can wander down to the beach afterwards to watch Wishes!

From Mom Kim L.

The Paint Room at Backlot Express

The Paint Room at Backlot Express

My family loves to eat at the Backlot Express at Disney’s Hollywood Studios when we are looking for a counter service meal. There’s always a quiet corner with fascinating props to view.

Also, Olivia’s Cafe at Old Key West serves wonderful dishes in a relaxing atmosphere. This is a hidden gem.

From Mom Kay B.

I think one of the most underrated food spots is Citricos. This is an unbelievable restaurant that is constantly being overshadowed by Victoria and Alberts at the Grand Floridian. It is family friendly yet can still be a romantic spot with a table in the inner room by the windows. The food is excellent from appetizers through desserts and the service has always been outstanding. They also have a nice wine room that can be reserved for a little more intimate dinner opportunity.

Another table service restaurant that is often forgotten and shouldn’t be is Artist Point in the Wilderness Lodge. This is another outstanding location for food, service and ambiance.

In the counter service category I would say that Flametree in the Animal Kingdom park is not remembered and this is the one place we will go and not try to get dining reservations because we would all rather just eat at this counter service location. The barbecue is excellent, served in large portions, and then the area to sit in is quiet and relaxing. We take the path down to the lake and sit under the cool trees to catch a breeze on a hot day.

From Dad Doug I.

I think that Biergarten does not get it’s due as a fun dinner venue. While I can think of a few German classics that should be added to the menu, the buffet combines a lot of great choices, as well as some americanized selections for choosy kids. And the entertainment value is a nice plus. Finally, I love that you can meet people in their long table seating arrangements.

I also like San Angel Inn more than most. Having grown up in Mexico City, I think that some of the selections there are more authentic Mexican than you can typically find in the U.S., but it seems to get panned for cuisine, often by guests looking for more Tex-Mex style choices (which I love too!).

From Mom Jodi G.

I think sometimes the resort restaurants are overlooked, and the restaurants at Animal Kingdom Lodge are top-notch.  Jiko, in particular, is my favorite restaurant on property.

Sleepy Hollow's Homemade Ice Cream Sandwich

Sleepy Hollow's Homemade Ice Cream Sandwich

From Mom Beth C.

The Sleepy Hollow in Magic Kingdom is a great spot to grab a treat. They have homemade chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches. You can watch them bake the cookies right there! Sleepy Hollow is located right over the bridge as you cross into Liberty Square. It is a great place to get a snack before the parade or fireworks or if you are walking to the other attractions in this area.

From Mom Margaret F.

One location that our family really loves and I think misses some of the spotlight is Mama Melrose at Hollywood Studios. While it is often crowded, I think it often does not get the attention it deserves. We love the feel of the restaurant, with the warehouse setting and open kitchen. It is very family friendly and comfortable. The menu slection is top notch. The flatbread choices are delicious, and the bruschetta is superb. The pasta choices have a perfect blend of herbs and spices. My favorite here is the sirloin with grilled asparagus and red wine sauce. Mouth-watering for sure!

Thanks again to all the “moms” who are participating in the interviews!

Don’t forget, if you’d like to share your “most magical Disney Dining moment,” send me an email! I’m collecting stories and will post them in the next post of “Chicken Soup for the Disney Foodie soul!”

Best Restaurants for Thanksgiving at Disney World

It’s time to talk turkey!

A reader comment recently prompted me to put out the feelers for the best spots to celebrate Thanksgiving in Disney World. Not surprisingly, Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Tree Tavern was suggested by most folks who responded.

Liberty Tree Tavern, in the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square, is set up to resemble a fine patriot’s home in the 18th century.

With dark woods, vintage paintings, and even a coat and tri-cornered hat hanging by the door, you’ll feel right at home!

Liberty Tree Tavern

Now that setting might be enough to spur people to suggest Liberty Tree Tavern for Thanksgiving dinner — the atmosphere is certainly ideal for celebrating that holiday.

The (false) doorway to the Liberty Tree Tavern Home

Seating and Waiting Areas

Seating and Waiting Areas

But, the better reason to recommend it is that Liberty Tree Tavern essentially serves Thanksgiving Dinner every night! With all-you-can-eat platters of turkey, brisket, pork, mashed potatoes, stuffing, veggies, and macaroni and cheese served family style, you certainly can’t go wrong here.

Rolls and Honey Butter

Salad

Roast Pork, Turkey and Beef with Cornbread Stuffing and Chutney

Close-up - Roast Pork, Turkey and Beef

Mashed Potatoes

Carrots

Beans

Mac and Cheese

Johnny Appleseed Cake with Craisins and Ice Cream

And although the Thanksgiving-specific offerings change each year at Disney World, here’s a photo of one reader’s Liberty Tree Tavern Thanksgiving meal:

Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving Meal

You can book now for Thanksgiving evening, but I haven’t yet seen any specifics of the Thanksgiving offerings at Disney World come over the airwaves. Most table-service restaurants do offer some sort of special Thanksgiving meal.

Other Suggestions
While Liberty Tree Tavern was the most-suggested restaurant, the two runners-up were Artist Point, at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, and Germany’s Biergarten, at Epcot’s World Showcase.

Other restaurants that were mentioned include: California Grill, Crystal Palace, ‘Ohana, Le Cellier, Jiko, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Garden Grill, ESPN Zone (for the Game!), and Akershus.

Be sure to check out the other “Best Disney World Restaurants” posts in this series!

Thanks to T Holland for sharing her photo!