Review: Tonga Toast at Captain Cook’s in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Who’s ready for some TONGA TOAST?!

Really, is there a better way you can think of to start the day than with this Disney World breakfast staple? Of course, you can only find it at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, but fortunately it’s available in not one, but TWO, locations there: Kona Cafe and Captain Cook’s. (Oh, and just so we’re clear before moving any further, for those who have noticed Tonga Toast on the menu for breakfast at Rainforest Cafe, it’s totally not the same thing.)

Today we’ll be enjoying Captain Cook’s version (as well as discussing the differences from the way it’s served up at Kona Cafe). But no matter where you go to grab your Tonga Toast, you’re just one Monorail ride away from the Magic Kingdom, making Tonga Toast a must-have breakfast tradition for many Disney World guests regardless of their chosen Resort.

Now, it’s no secret that a LOT of changes have taken place at the Polynesian Village Resort with its Extreme Resort Makevoer ;). Now that the dust has just about settled (in the Great Ceremonial House, anyway), let’s take a quick look around first!

Atmosphere

As mentioned, you can order Tonga Toast at two Polynesian Village Resort restaurants, and if you’re arriving via bus or car, you’ll need to make your way past the entrance into the Polynesian Village Resort lobby. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen the entrance unsurrounded by refurbishment walls on one — if not two — sides, here’s what it (along with some general landscaping) looks like these days.

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Entrance

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Entrance

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Scenery

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Scenery

We’ve visited the updated lobby previously, but here’s another few glances at the new look. [Read more…]

Review: Pop-Tarts® Breakfast Sandwich at Pop Century Resort

So, Everything Pop Food Court at Disney’s Pop Century Resort is at it again.

We recently shared our review of lunch here. But when we heard of a new-to-us breakfast sandwich, I knew we needed to get in gear and head back to Everything Pop asap.

In the past, Pop Century has brought us such greats as Twinkie Tiramisu, Tie-Dyed Cheesecake, and Mom’s Night Out TV Dinners, but this one…this one is going to take some getting used to.

The Pop-Tarts® Breakfast Sandwich

OK, so here we go. This unique breakfast sammy includes: eggs, bacon, cheese (pretty standard, right?) and…Pop-Tarts. Yep. Pop-Tarts. As in the original breakfast toaster pastry.

And I may be able to understand the whole thing if they were using the un-frosted brown sugar version…that might give it a fun, breakfast-y sweet/salty thing. But, no. They’re sandwiching the egg, bacon, and cheese between two frosted strawberry Pop-Tarts. Wha?!?

Yeah, so, that’s happening.

Pop Tart Breakfast Sandwich

Pop-Tarts® Breakfast Sandwich

Should you [Read more…]

First Look! Breakfast at Disney World’s Be Our Guest Restaurant!

Here we goooooooooo!

After months of waiting, it’s finally here. The first day of Breakfast at Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest Restaurant is on the books, and it was a great one!

After opening in 2012, Be Our Guest Restaurant was an instant sensation for disney-goers, and it has since become THE reservation to get when you’re planning a trip to the World.

BOG has a long history of “firsts.” The table-service dinner at the French, Beauty and the Beast-inspired restaurant features alcohol in the Magic Kingdom for the first time ever, the lunch meal became the first to offer dining FastPass+ bookings (no longer offered), and subsequently lunch just became the first counter-service restaurant to require reservations to dine.

Now, Be Our Guest’s counter-service breakfast is also taking Advance Dining Reservations!

And today we’ve got a fun FIRST LOOK at all of the food for you. We’ll have a full review on Monday with our fancy camera pics, but I couldn’t wait to share a few phone pics with you this morning!

UPDATE: Please note that as of June 2015, the initial test phase of breakfast at Be Our Guest Restaurant has been extended and Advance Dining Reservations are currently available through October 3, 2015. 

Atmosphere

There’s nothing like an early morning romp through the Magic Kingdom — especially when the park is totally empty (well, almost)!

Cinderella Castle in the early morning light

Cinderella Castle in the early morning light

And that’s one of the many benefits of booking a “before-the-park-opens” meal at one of Magic Kingdom’s breakfast restaurants. Not only do you get some great photo ops, but you’re also done with breakfast and ALREADY IN THE PARK just in time to get to the front of the line at your favorite rides as soon as they open.

Morning at Magic Kingdom

Morning at Magic Kingdom

But, our favorite attractions are always the restaurants, so we couldn’t wait to cross that bridge over to the Beast’s Castle and enjoy breakfast at Be Our Guest for the first time ever.

Be Our Guest Restaurant

Be Our Guest Restaurant

Check-in was at two umbrella’d tables in front of the main [Read more…]

Review: Breakfast at The Wave… of American Flavors in Disney World’s Contemporary Resort

This morning we’re enjoying breakfast at The Wave… of American Flavors!

Located at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, The Wave is unlike any other restaurant at Disney World due to its emphasis on sustainable eating – many of the ingredients used in the dishes here are sourced locally.

The Wave also has the added benefit of being a mere stroll away from the Magic Kingdom, making this a great and convenient place to start the day when you’re headed into Disney World’s original park!

Atmosphere

You’ll find The Wave on the Lobby Level of the Contemporary. As you enter from the front, you’ll notice a faint blue glow coming from the end of the concierge services desk and to the left.

The Contemporary Lobby Level

The Contemporary Lobby Level

That blue stems from the unique “tunnel entrance” that lights the way to the eatery. Something about this reminds me of the Contemporary when I was a kid way back in the day.

The Wave Entrance

The Wave Entrance

For one of the resort’s more recent additions, the entrance is retro Disney World, and I love it for that. (Does anyone else remember watching Disney movies in a small theater on this floor, by the way, or has my memory stored that incorrectly? I’m more certain of my memories of the Air Hockey table in the old Game Room… .)

After walking through the tunnel you’re greeted at the check-in counter. There is a sign to remind guests that The Wave is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Check-in Counter

Check-in Counter

The Wave Hours

The Wave Hours

We were seated very promptly, even though we arrived prior to our scheduled Advance Dining Reservation.

Upon entering the dining room, the vibe changes entirely. Decor changes from cool blue to warm earth tones, and the theme of “waves” is echoed throughout the chairs at the tables — and even on the ceiling and in the lighting.

Dining Room

Dining Room

Table Seating

Table Seating

Ceiling Lanterns

Ceiling Lanterns

There is little else in the way of detailing, in favor of simplicity. However, the artwork that has been selected brings the focus back to fresh ingredients.

Artwork at The Wave

Artwork at The Wave

Eats

Upon being seated, our server came to greet us right away (and he remained attentive throughout the meal). After walking us through the menu, he invited us to view the breakfast buffet prior to making our decisions.

I’ve enjoyed The Wave’s buffet a few times, so for this visit I chose from the menu for a change of pace. But because the buffet here is noteworthy, I’d like to give you a peek before going into our entrees.

Where lunch and dinner entrees can change fairly frequently at The Wave due having a sustainable menu, several of the breakfast buffet offerings remain consistent. From right to left, the buffet begins with a cold section featuring, among other items, salmon and hard-boiled eggs, and fresh fruit.

Salmon and hard-boiled eggs

Salmon and Hard-boiled Eggs

Fresh fruit

Fresh Fruit

Fresh fruit

Fresh Fruit

An assortment of pastries is [Read more…]

Review: Strawberry Oat Bar at Main Street Confectionery

What’s your very first treat stop after you enter Magic Kingdom? Do you head straight to Main Street Bakery for a cuppa joe, or do you take in a few attractions while patiently awaiting a midday hot dog at Casey’s Corner?

Maybe you prefer to start the day at Magic Kingdom’s premiere sweet stop, the Main Street Confectionery.

Main Street Confectionery

Main Street Confectionery

Main Street Confectionery (5)

Main Street Confectionery

Let’s say your traveling buddy’s tradition is to grab a Mickey Krispy Treat first thing in the morning (hey, it IS made of cereal!), but you’re in the mood for something a little more breakfast-y.

Well, you may be able to find something in that beautiful bakery case after all: a Strawberry Oat Bar with Smuckers Jelly.

Strawberry Oat Bar Smuckers  (14)

Strawberry Oat Bar with Smuckers Jelly

It’s similar to a [Read more…]

Review: Breakfast at White Water Snacks in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

We’re in Disneyland on this lovely Friday, and we’re heading to White Water Snacks for a quick tour and bite before venturing into the parks!

White Water Snacks

The counter-service and grab-and-go restaurant is located at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, and serves as a stop for a hearty, hot breakfast on the run.

But with lots of grab and go options, you’ll find all kinds of choices to fuel up for a fun day. Let’s head in for a look around.

Atmosphere

Enter White Water from the California sunshine, off of the hotel’s courtyard. The entrance is right off of the pool area, so watch for drippy kids and wet floors! ;-)

Entrance

Entrance

A menu at the entrance gives you some general information about what’s available here, and the hours during which you can order different meals. Handy!

Menu Board -- Click to Enlarge

Menu Board — Click to Enlarge

Once inside, you see the same wood and stone touches that are a familiar part of the rest of this hotel. The feeling here is slightly more rustic than Storyteller’s Cafe, however. It’s more like a posh camping outpost than a restaurant in a swanky lodge.

Seating White Water Snacks

Seating and Rustic Atmosphere

There is seating available both inside and outside. Both options are basic, but comfortable for a quick meal.

Seating and Atmosphere

More Seating

Outdoor Seating

Outdoor Seating

Be sure to keep an eye out for the famous Disneyland cats! Fun little furballs roam Disneyland’s grounds freely, and they often stop by Whitewater as it’s one of five official Disneyland feeding stations for the kitties (others can be found at Hungry Bear Restaurant in Disneyland and Taste Pilot’s Grill at DCA).

One of the famous Disneyland Cats

Back inside, you start to get a feel for your options, which range from hot, prepared entrees, to grab and go selections.

During our morning visit, we spied a small variety of [Read more…]

Review: Trail’s End Restaurant at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

It’s been a while since I’ve slept in a camper, cabin, or tent, but that doesn’t stop me from loving Trail’s End Restaurant!

Located at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, the down-home spot is one of my favorites for many reasons — but delicious food and reasonable prices top the list.

While I love lunch and dinner at Trail’s End, I hadn’t visited for breakfast before, so I decided it was time to do just that on a recent trip.

Atmosphere

Getting to Trail’s End is half the adventure. It’s located waaaay at the back of the resort, in the area known as the Settlement.

Now, wait. To be fair, adventure is kind of a generous word. It’s actually kind of a pain to get here. Maybe that’s why I like it so much — it’s rarely too packed!

If you’re coming here via bus from a theme park, or via your own car, you’ll park way up at the front of Fort Wilderness and have to take some internal buses to get back to the Settlement. That’s why I prefer to get to Trail’s End and the other Fort Wilderness restaurants via boat from Magic Kingdom, Wilderness Lodge, or the Contemporary — much less intensive on the travel end, and more enjoyable as well.

On this morning we took the bus, so we had some sight-seeing to do on our way from the bus stop back to Trail’s End… .

Welcome to the Settlement!

It’s not uncommon to see horses at Fort Wilderness, where there are carriage and wagon rides available.

Ft. Wilderness Activities

Pioneer Hall shares space with our destination. I love this place! It looks like a giant log cabin. The surrounding by tall pines and live oaks dripping in Spanish moss really give it the feeling of a pioneer settlement.

Pioneer Hall

Pioneer Hall is home to several popular destinations at Fort Wilderness. You’ll find Mickey’s Backyard BBQ close by. But it’s also where you’ll head for an evening of down home fun at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue!

Pioneer Hall -- Up Close

Just past the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue venue, you’ll find our destination for the morning — Trail’s End table-service restaurant. This location shares [Read more…]

Review: Breakfast at Boma in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Mention that you’re looking for a breakfast restaurant during a stay at Walt Disney World, and you are bound to be met with this piece of advice: “You MUST go to Boma.”

It’s true! This buffet restaurant is among the most favorite options for lovers of Disney food, myself included. We’ve even named it as one of our most favorite Disney brunch destinations!

But even though dinner offers an amazing spread, your Disney friends will tell you that breakfast is the “can’t miss” meal here.

It was a shock to me when I realized that I had never actually reviewed this all-important meal on the blog! Time to remedy that right now!

Atmosphere

Boma is located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. You’ll find it below the lobby on the ground floor, adjacent to other AKL restaurants The Mara and Jiko.

There’s one pretty important distinction that sets Boma apart from other very popular buffets at Disney. Many of the others are primarily character dining experiences. But you won’t find any characters at Boma. That’s an important detail to keep in mind when planning your advance dining reservations.

Boma Background Information

“Boma” is actually an African term for a fence made of sticks that forms a safe enclosure for gathering. Throughout the entrance of the restaurant, you see the stick fence motif captured in different materials.

Here, Imagineers used wrought iron to line the bridged walkway leading into the space.

Entrance to Boma

Beautiful statuary decorates the low wall that separates the buffet from the seating area.

Statuary and Decor

Ceilings are lined with large pieces of [Read more…]

Snack Series: Beignets at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express

I have been promising myself — and you guys! — that I’d get back to Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express for a while now. And today is the day!

Sign at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen Express

Located adjacent to the main Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen table service restaurant in Disneyland’s Downtown Disney District, this counter service spot serves up some great, quick options.

We showed you the icy Sno-Balls last year, and now it’s time to share the most prized (in my opinion) option on the menu!

Atmosphere

The Express location of Ralph Brennan’s offers the same New Orleans vintage vibe as the table service restaurant, but with no indoor seating. This is strictly and “order it to-go” kinda place, though there are several tables outside.

One cool feature, though: see that area behind the glass? It’s actually an “on stage” area where employees are making beignets!

Inside Jazz Kitchen Express

After you taste a beignet from here, you’re pretty much guaranteed to want to duplicate the magic at home (or at least try). For the adventurous, Cafe Du Monde Beignet Mix is sold here as well.

Cafe Du Monde Beignet Mix For Sale

Once your order is ready, you’ll [Read more…]

How MyMagic+ Will Affect Disney Dining

Planning your Disney World vacation is about to change—big time. While making your Advance Dining Reservations 180 days in advance will still be important, MyMagic+ is going to make it easier to pre-plan your trip and maybe even save your Disney dollars at the same time!

We’ve outlined the basics of the new Walt Disney World Resort technology below, followed by a healthy dose of Disney dining tips for making the most of the new system — including how it will change your Disney Dining planning, and how you might save money using MyMagic+!!

How MyMagic + Will Affect Disney Dining

MyMagic+: The Basics

This past week, MyMagic+ — a new, tech-savvy planning process for your Disney vacation — officially rolled out across the Walt Disney World resort. Relying on RFID technology, this will create a “more immersive, more seamless and more personal experience” for guests, according to Disney Parks Blog.

A major piece of the MyMagic+ puzzle is the new My Disney Experience website and mobile app, which help guests plan their trip. The interactive tools allow guests to log in to book advanced dining reservations and ride times for popular attractions as well as parade and fireworks viewing locations with FastPass+. They’ll also make it easy to change those plans on the fly from any smartphone or Guest Relations kiosk.

All of that MyMagic+ data—including ride and meals times—will be encoded onto the new must-have Disney accessory: the MagicBand. These high-tech bracelets will replace the Key to the World card, becoming a room key, theme park ticket, PhotoPass card, FastPass and charge account in one.

MyMagic+ MagicBand

MyMagic+ MagicBand in action

Right now, guests saying at WDW resort hotels, Annual Passholders, and those who purchase PhotoPass will automatically receive a complimentary standard MagicBand. Upgraded wristbands, decorated with characters, will also be available for an additional fee.

Guests who stay off property will receive an RFID-enabled card, which will act as a park ticket, charge account and FastPass+ ticket, but they will have to purchase a MagicBand separately.

Don’t Forget Your MagicBand!

The new technologies will likely have a significant impact on your dining strategy, so we’ve put together a quick primer on how to make the most of MyMagic+:

Pay and Go

The most immediate and obvious impact of the MagicBand will be the ability to pay for snacks and quick service meals with the flick of a wrist.

Literally tap the RFID bracelet (or card for non-resort guests) against the sensor at the register to settle the bill on purchases of $50 or less quickly and efficiently. No more digging around for the Key to the World!

Schedule Your WHOLE Day

With the current system, FastPass dictates your return window based on how many FastPasses have already been distributed. On some days, it’s possible to arrive at Soarin’ at 9:30 a.m. only to be locked into a 6:35-7:35 p.m. return time. That presents a problem for those [Read more…]