Review: Meat Lovers Pizza at Animal Kingdom’s Pizzafari

Welcome back to Pizzafari!

The last time we visited this Animal Kingdom Counter Service spot was to try some of the breakfast offerings after they had a menu refresh. But the star of the show here is all in the name, so we’re back to review Pizzafari’s take on “Meat Lovers Pizza.”

You’ll also find this item on the menu over at Pizza Planet in Hollywood Studios, and as far as atmosphere goes, that’s a pretty great spot, too. But I just so happened to be at Animal Kingdom scoping out the presumed location of the final in-Park Starbucks (the former Creature Comforts merchandise location), so Pizzafari it was!



Pizzafari Menu

Pizzafari Menu

Of course, it isn’t a trip to Pizzafari without checking out some of the signature murals all over the walls, no matter which room you dine in. I truly never tire of looking at these.

Pizzafari mural

Pizzafari mural

Butterfly mural in ordering area

Butterfly mural in ordering area

Turtle mural

Turtle mural

Pizzafari mural

Pizzafari mural

But, ultimately, I strolled past the poised bobcat at the entrance (at least, I think that’s what he is) and took my pizza outside.

Pizzafari entrance statue

Pizzafari entrance statue

It was one of those perfect “winter” days, and you simply have to take advantage of any days you won’t melt outdoors in Florida. (Covered outdoor seating is available at Pizzafari as well.)

Outdoor table

Outdoor table

View of Pizzafari from outside  table

View of Pizzafari from outside table

Like all other pizzas served at Pizzafari, the Meat Lovers comes with [Read more…]

Review: Steakhouse 55 at Disneyland Hotel

Ah, Steakhouse 55, a bastion of yesteryear near the Park That Started It All. Going to this place is like a living time capsule. Some historical exhibits celebrate the past by letting you look at it. But at Steakhouse 55, it’s like you’re actually stepping back through the years. And that’s a good thing.

Steakhouse 55

But if we’ve learned anything about Disney, it’s that change is always potentially on the horizon. Recently, they decided that the menu needed an overhaul. Maybe to match to some degree the rest of Disneyland’s emphasis on healthier fare?

We actually visited Steakhouse 55 prior to the recent menu refresh. But there has been so much to tell you guys over the last month, I’m just getting around to sharing my experience! So be aware that if you plan to visit, the menu will look a little different than what you see here.


While Steakhouse 55 underwent a bit of a refresh in the decorating department last year, we didn’t find much different when we visited recently. You’re still greeted by this iconic, enlarged photo of Walt Disney as you enter the space. Rich wood trim and painted paneling hint at the more formal environment. Once you’ve entered, it’s very hard to remember that Goofy’s Kitchen is right next door.

Photo of Walt in Entryway

Photo of Walt in Entryway

You’ll come to the Steakhouse 55 Lounge first. Incidentally, this is a great spot to keep on your radar. Reservations are not required and they feature a bar menu with some delicious and satisfying options.

Recently they’ve also begun offering the full Steakhouse 55 Restaurant Menu in the Lounge as well. Stash this away in your bag of tricks in case you find yourself starving and looking for an upscale dining experience if the steakhouse itself is booked up.


Steakhouse 55 Lounge

You’ll find shades of plum and silver, with plush finishes like satin and velvet. The bar area features a flat screen television, handy for checking out the latest scores.

Full Bar with Seating AND a TV

Full Bar with Seating and Television

Find a spot at the bar, or enjoy comfortable seating in softly upholstered chairs and plush couches and chaises.

Steakhouse 55 Lounge Seating

Steakhouse 55 Lounge Seating

Small tables are perfect for Bar Bites and Cocktails, but might pose a challenge if you’re enjoying a full meal.

More Seating

Additional Lounge Seating

Exit the lounge and you’ll find the main dining room. Low lighting and white tablecloths hint at the more formal setting here.

Inside the Cool and Serene Steakhouse 55

Inside the Cool and Serene Steakhouse 55

But you’ll find the same understated decor, punctuated by those large photographs of famous faces from years gone by.

Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel

Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel

The feeling here is retro chic, and it’s not hard to imagine what this spot may have been like when the name over the door was still Granville’s, and the people in the pictures were sitting at the next table.


I’ve shared with you that Steakhouse 55 is my absolute most favorite spot for breakfast at Disneyland, and Heather has written about her delicious experience dining in the Lounge. But it had been a while since I had taken in dinner here.

Unfortunately, my timing was just a little off. Immediately after we enjoyed this experience, the menu underwent a change.

Here is the menu that Steakhouse 55 featured at the time of our dinner.

Menu: Starters, Soups, and Salads -- Click to Enlarge

Menu: Starters, Soups, and Salads — Click to Enlarge

Menu -- Main Dishes and Side Dishes -- Click to Enlarge

Menu — Main Dishes and Side Dishes — Click to Enlarge

Chef Marcel St. Pierre, a Disney veteran who was most recently over the kitchens of Club 33, has taken over at Steakhouse 55. Not surprisingly, he is eager to put his stamp on things here, and to experiment with some popular trends and classic French preparations.

Since the changes, I’ll try to note where the dishes that we ordered have been updated.

We began our meal with fresh, warm Sourdough Bread, served with softened, Unsalted Butter.

Bread and Butter

Bread and Butter

My husband was dining with me. And you long-term DFB Readers know — he never passes up the chance to enjoy a Caesar Salad, and this visit was no exception!

The classic version of the salad was served with Olive Tapenade atop a Parmesan Crisp. This salad has been replaced with Hearts of Romaine — served with Caesar Dressing. Yep. Basically the same. Just fancier.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad with Olive Tapenade and Parmesan Crisp

Another classic dish that we couldn’t pass up ordering was the legendary Steakhouse 55 Seven Onion Soup. It’s delicious, but even better — it’s food theater. The soup comes together from two different dishes.

You are presented a soup bowl with [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at Crystal Palace in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Welp, boys and girls — it’s time to head into Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and take in lunch at Crystal Palace! This is a beloved character spot for many Disney fans, and a must-do character experience for lots of you.

Me? I hadn’t been to Crystal Palace in foreva…not since an ill-fated late-night visit a couple of years ago when the food was AW-FUL! Yep, it was the end-of-the-night dregs of the buffet and we were pretty much just grossed out. (Have you ever seen a buffet about 15 minutes before a restaurant is about to close? Not pretty.) We ate very little and left as soon as we could. Sad, since we do love dining with Pooh and friends.

But it was time to revisit the 100 Hundred Acre Wood — after all, we’d had lots of great meals here previously — and I made reservations with some friends for lunch.

We have tons of shots to show you, so let’s get started!


You’ll find Crystal Palace to the left of Main Street USA’s end, just as you approach Cinderella Castle. The beautiful glass building, inspired by ornate conservatories of the late Victorian Age, is a slice of Disney history as well. The restaurant has been around since opening day in 1971.

Entrance to Restaurant

Entrance to Restaurant

And here’s a tip if you’re looking for an extra-special experience during your Disney vacation: try and book Crystal Palace for an early breakfast. You’ll be one of the first guests into the Park when you do this, and visiting a nearly empty Magic Kingdom is an event to remember.

Once you step inside, you’ll see whitewashed walls that carry the bright, light decor throughout. Artwork depicting inspiration for the architecture as well as photos of lush palms cover the walls.

Artwork and Framed Photos

Artwork and Framed Photos

The soaring atrium above is gorgeous — especially on a sunny day!

Crystal Palace Atrium

Crystal Palace Atrium

After you check in, you’ll wait for your table outside on the shaded veranda. But once you step in, pause a moment to take it all in.

Dining Rooms

Dining Rooms

Tons of windows and glass domes allow for plenty of natural light in the two dining areas.

Dining Room from Another Angle

Dining Room from Another Angle

And really — look up. Because the windows are really stunning. I love the beautiful stained glass detail.

Stained Glass Windows

Stained Glass Windows

The decor puts you in mind of a Victorian conservatory, with its outside-but-inside feel. Lush flowers and what reminds me of patio furniture finish the area.

Evening Light

Afternoon Light

Crystal Palace is, of course, a character dining experience, and you’ve stumbled onto a party!

Center Atrium -- Up Close

Center Atrium — Up Close

In fact, visit here, and you’ll take part in a Friendship Day Celebration with Winnie the Pooh and his friends.

Banner -- Up Close

It’s Friendship Day!

Just check out these gorgeous flower topiaries of the whole gang!

Pooh and His Hunny Pot

Pooh and His Hunny Pot

Eeyore Topiary

Eeyore Topiary

The sweet little figures appear to be made of dried roses, and foreshadow the characters you’ll meet while you dine.

Piglet Topiary

Piglet Topiary

Bouncing Tigger Topiary

Bouncing Tigger Topiary

And beautiful hanging arrangements of tropical flowers complete the classic conservatory feel.

Fresh Flowers

Fresh Flowers

Seating is standard and fairly comfortable. Heavy, padded chairs share the space with booths, but some tables are situated a bit too closely for our comfort.

Seating for Two

Seating for Two

Seating along windows gives you a glimpse of guests waiting to be seated! But beyond them, you’ll also see a beautiful view of [Read more…]

Review: Crossroads at House of Blues at Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney

So the big news from last week was the opening of a brand new counter service spot at Downtown Disney’s House Of Blues — the Smokehouse!

While we’ll be sure to stop by from time to time, it’s been a while since we reviewed the main house here as well! Let’s check out the dining room at Crossroads at House of Blues at Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney for lunch.

We were surprised by the quality of food on our first visit. While just about everything was good, the classic Buffalo Chicken Wings and the White Chocolate Bread Pudding were the real standouts.

But since our last visit, House of Blues has partnered with celebrity chef Aarón Sánchez to completely overhaul the food offerings. While the emphasis at House of Blues is still on live music, the new Crossroads menu has taken the previously Southern-tinged menu in a slightly different direction.


As I mentioned, if you haven’t been to House of Blues since the Crossroads menu came to the Walt Disney World location, you won’t find the surroundings to be much different than before. The menu didn’t coincide with a revamp of the restaurant itself.

In Blues We Trust!

Funky, rustic, slightly dark, and whimsical…those are the words that come to mind. You’re supposed to feel as though you happened upon House of Blues on some country road while traveling through the Deep South. And they succeed with transporting you.

Folk Art Outside

Like other Downtown Disney restaurants, House of Blues features multiple bars. The outside bar is a great spot to grab a drink and hang out with friends before or after a performance. It features “hand-lettered” menus and tole painting, as well as brackets and other finishes that appear to have been salvaged and repurposed.

Outdoor Bar

Next to Crossroads Restaurant, you’ll find the Club, which is the main performance venue for House of Blues. The hall holds up to 2,000 guests, and draws top-name talent regularly. It’s a great place to see a show if you haven’t had the chance.

Club — House of Blues Concert Venue

In addition to other performances, House of Blues also offers a regular Gospel Brunch. Held each Sunday at 10:30 am and 1:00 pm, you can read our review of Kirk Franklin’s Gospel Brunch in Disneyland’s Downtown Disney District here.

Gospel Brunch Information

But, snazzy musical performances would have to wait for another day. We were here for lunch, and we were hungry.

We made our way into the restaurant and were greeted with more folk art. At the hostess stand, you get a healthy dose of this interesting fusion. Gothic arches and cherubim call to mind a place of worship.


Seating is nothing fancy — just utilitarian wooden chairs and tables.


Even booths are wooden. Nothing cozy here in the way of seating, but the booths are [Read more…]

Review: Breadsticks and Salad at Animal Kingdom’s Pizzafari

With all the new and amazing food finds at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it had been a while since I’d last visited Pizzafari.

But while researching the new DFB Guide to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios Snacks, I headed over to check out the latest!


Head into Pizzafari, and if it’s your first time here, you’re in for a surprise. In a word, the artwork you’re about to see is gorgeous. But there are some distinctly strange elements to the themeing, too!

Honestly, I’m not wowed by the menu at Pizzafari, but I am a fan of the work Imagineers did to the inside of this place.


After passing through an archway decorated with stylized bugs (!!!!!), you’ll soon see that these aren’t the only specimens of wild life you’ll be observing.


Because within Pizzafari, you find extravagant, lush murals. In other places, there are 3D elements to the decor. More about those in a minute.

The unique thing about the individual dining rooms, however, is that they each contain a unifying theme. And sometimes, it takes a moment to understand just what it is… .

Here, for instance, you see animals that use camouflage.

Leopard Mural

More Camouflaged Animals

Since this dude sits at the top of the [Read more…]

Review: Dinner at Il Mulino New York Trattoria in the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel

It’s been a while since we had taken in a dinner at Il Mulino, so let’s head over for some Italian, shall we??

The upscale restaurant has a reputation for serving some of the best Italian food in all of Walt Disney World. And that makes sense, since it is modeled after the critically acclaimed New York restaurant of the same name.

Since we love Italian food, I thought it was time to head back and see if that opinion still held. After all, with the opening of Via Napoli and Tutto Gusto in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion — and the re-opening of Tutto Italia with a new menu — there is suddenly a little more competition.

We headed there on a recent trip with high hopes that it would be just as delicious as ever!

Menu Cover


The vibe of Il Mulino is New York chic. Rather than feeling like you’re in a corner of Walt Disney World property, it seems like you’re a thousand miles away in a cityscape. Clean, modern lines in the bar and throughout the restaurant hint at the urban feel, while exposed beams and brick warm up the space.

Bar Area

While we visited at a fairly quiet time, the bar can be a very gregarious gathering place with the amount of convention traffic that the Swan and Dolphin Hotels see. If you have the chance to stop for a drink here, I’d definitely recommend it! The bartenders have been friendly and entertaining in my experience.

Bar Seating

Low, comfortable couches offer a nice contrast to traditional bar seating, and make for a cozy gathering place.

Additional Bar Seating

This curious display of food, wine, cooking utensils, and even [Read more…]

Review: 1900 Park Fare Dinner at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Today, we’re back at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa to take in dinner at 1900 Park Fare!

You  may remember that the last time we were here, we were…nonplussed…unimpressed…frustrated…should I go on? Basically, we really didn’t have a great experience. But, as I always say, the only consistent thing about Disney restaurants is that they’re inconsistent. And some guests think this restaurant is fantastic — a great alternative to hard-to-get advance dining reservations like Cinderella’s Royal Table.

So we’re back at this character buffet for another try… . While breakfast at 1900 Park Fare left us flat, this time around we’re checking out the dinner spread and hoping for the best!


You’ll find 1900 Park Fare off of the ground floor lobby of the Grand Floridian Resort. As you walk in the hotel’s front doors, the restaurant is located to your left, just past the Concierge desk.

1900 Park Fare Sign

The antique carousel decor flows with the Victorian feel that you encounter throughout the resort. While you can’t see the individual items on this menu board that’s displayed out front of the restaurant, you can definitely see the attention to detail when it comes to theme.

Menu Board Outside of 1900 Park Fare

When you first arrive and check in for your reservation (you DID make a reservation, right?), you’ll be given a pager and told to wait in the Grand Floridian lobby to be called when your table is ready. Note: this often takes A. LONG. TIME. In my experience, I’ve never been seated at this restaurant within 10 minutes of my reservation time. I’m always waiting quite a while to be called to the table. So if you’ve got little ones who are starving, bring some snacks to tide them over just in case.

Once you’re called, you’ll be told to get in line to have your picture taken with this mural. No…you’re not getting your photo taken with a character. Just with the mural. This can be a fun memory for families, but you might want to skip the pic and head straight in for your meal. Be persistent and make sure they know you don’t want to take the photo. They’re pretty serious about getting you into that line.

Trompe l'Oeil Mural Outside of 1900 Park Fare

Once you head into the massive dining room, you’re greeted with more Victorian charm in pastel shades. Even without windows, the sheer size of the dining room makes it feel airy.

There is a main area with high ceilings in front of the buffet, and some smaller dining rooms surrounding it with lower ceilings. I prefer these areas for seating, since they tend to be slightly quieter.

Dining Area

Seating itself is fairly standard, with cushioned chairs and nondescript tables.


The main dining room makes the best use of the carousel theme. There are several large statues of fantasy carousel animals situated atop half walls and surrounded by plants. You should take a moment to look at these, because they’re really beautiful.

Calliope in the Background and Carousel Horse Statue

The wall overtop the entrance to the restaurant plays host to an enormous calliope, reminiscent of the intricate musical instruments that you find on antique carousels. This [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland: Fancy New Peppermills at Steakhouse 55

So this is a bit random, but on my last visit to Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel, I noticed that they had some awesome new custom peppermills.

After inquiring about them through our server, the manager actually came out to tell us all about them. Yep, the peppermills have a story… .

Customized Steakhouse 55 Peppermill

Manufactured by Fletcher’s Mill in Newport, Maine, these peppermills aren’t the only thing to come off of the line.  The factory actually makes more drumsticks than anything else!  In fact, they produce 55%  of the world’s market.

The Newport Mill

Owned by famous percussionist Vic Firth, Fletcher’s Mill provides drumsticks for some of the most famous musicians in the industry.  Over 50 years ago, Firth began designing his own drumsticks because he was not happy with the ones on the market.  He later sought out to manufacture his own.  Firth purchased Fletcher’s Mill with intentions of shutting down all manufacturing and making solely drumsticks. Upon touring it, he decided to keep the gourmet division open.  In addition to his drumsticks, he’s now known for peppermills, too!  The mill used at Steakhouse 55 is the 17″ Newport Peppermill.

Described as “tall and sleek” the Newport Peppermill is available in three different finishes: black, mahogany and maple. Steakhouse 55 had theirs customized with their logo in silver on black. In my perfect world I’d be able to buy the Steakhouse 55 one for myself! I was able to find one on Amazon, but the logo thing unfortunately won’t be happening… .

The new peppermills are so special to Steakhouse 55 that they actually lock them up at night! They get tucked away in the wine cellar and locked up for safety.  Wondering why?  Well, [Read more…]

Review: Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

Felice Anniversario di un Anno, Tutto Gusto!

This fantastic little wine bar, located in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion, has been open for a whole year. Can you believe it?

Tutto Italia and Gusto Wine Cellar

It’s amazing to think it’s been that long — and yet, one step into the cozy spot, and you’d swear it’s been there forever. In short order, Tutto Gusto has become one of our favorite stops in Epcot.

Time to check in and see how it’s going in this rustic wine bar after a full year of serving guests!


Stepping into the inviting Tutto Gusto is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of World Showcase.

Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar

While the space is intimate and cozy, it’s also wonderfully dim and cool. Whether you’re escaping cold temps on a (very rare) chilly day, or you’re taking a break from the heat, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief as soon as you settle into a chair.

Once your eyes adjust a bit, you’re greeted by a comfortable, rustic setting. The bricked, vaulted ceilings immediately convey a feeling of antiquity. Couches, dark woods, and low tables invite you to sit and linger over small plates and glasses of wine.

Gusto Fireplace Area

The fireplace itself is a gorgeous decorative element.

Fireplace Area Seating at Tutto Gusto

The lighting feature made from recycled [Read more…]

Review: New Lunch Menu at Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot’s Canada Pavilion

Since Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot’s Canada Pavilion is one of my favorite places to dine, I take any change to the menu pretty seriously.

We recently reported the news that the steakhouse would be changing their lunch meal to a signature (i.e. expensive!) meal, meaning they’d be featuring the same menu for lunch that they have for dinner.

The change in the menu was pretty hotly contested by most readers who are Le Cellier fans. Those of you who routinely use the Disney Dining Plan expressed disappointment that you couldn’t opt for the one credit lunch (now both lunch and dinner are “signature” meals, thus requiring two credits on the Disney Dining Plan.)

But many of you who don’t use the DDP also expressed exasperation, as the prices were steep for lunch. Still others were upset that beloved items like the Le Cellier Burger didn’t make the cut.

With all of this in mind, we decided to stop by Le Cellier for lunch and take a look at some of the new menu items. I was also interested to see how we felt about eating our large, most expensive meal midday, rather than in the evening.


Le Cellier Steakhouse is located in the “cellar” of the chateau that you’ll find in the Canada Pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase. Modeled after famed chateau-style hotels, the restaurant is themed to give you the impression that you’re dining in the wine cellar.

When you arrive, you’ll check in at the podium on the main thoroughfare, then proceed down the path and into the small lobby. Le Cellier has historically been a very tough ticket to get when it comes to Disney dining reservations. I’m interested to see if it will be easier to dine here now that both meals are on the expensive side.

Le Cellier -- Outside

When we entered the lobby, we noticed that there have been some new landscape portraits added to the walls.

New Landscape Portraits in Lobby

This plaque details the history of The Group of Seven and its importance in bringing Canadian landscape art into its own.

Description of New Lobby Decor

Before the group of artists — also sometimes known as the Algonquin school — began capturing the Canadian countryside on canvas, many thought the country not worthy of artists’ attention. The paintings are a welcome addition to the lobby, and really serve to further this spot as a real taste of Canada’s beauty.

Another View of New Lobby Artwork

Once you leave the lobby area, you enter the small dining room, which is [Read more…]