New Year’s Eve Events at Walt Disney World to Ring in 2016

Have you made your New Year’s Eve plans yet???

New Year's Eve Toast

New Year’s Eve Toast

Yeah, me neither. But believe it or not, it’s not too soon to start making plans… if you’re planning on ringing in 2016 at Walt Disney World, that is!

In addition to regular dining opportunities in the parks and resorts, special dining events will once again be offered for guests looking for some unique ways to celebrate, and the options appear to have expanded from last year’s offerings.

As you might anticipate, Epcot tops the list for most guests hoping to ring in the new year in one of the parks, thanks to extra special entertainment throughout the day as well as an extended version of the Illuminations Nighttime Spectacular, so the bulk of special New Year’s options take place throughout World Showcase.

However, a few of the Resort restaurants are planning celebrations of their own as well. Here’s the festive rundown (so far! It’s always possible that other events may yet be in store…)

New Year’s Eve at Epcot World ShowPlace

Returning to Epcot this year is the New Year’s Eve at Epcot World ShowPlace dining event. Once again, the event will feature buffet dining set to classic Disney music, and will also feature vignettes for fun photo opps to remember the celebration. [Read more…]

Review: California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Time to check in on one of Walt Disney World’s most popular signature dining spots — California Grill.

Located atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the Grill has become nearly as well known for its stellar views as its market-inspired food. And those two factors can make this a tough table to book.

My last visit here, however, when the restaurant had just reopened after an in-depth refurbishment, was somewhat disappointing. At the time, I chalked it up to the kitchen having an off night; after all, I had enjoyed incredible dining here many times before.

I decided it was time to check in again. So we booked an early Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) on a recent visit, and up we went.


If you’ve never visited California Grill, then there’s one thing you should know: you don’t just head to the 15th floor. Your journey actually starts on the 2nd floor of the Contemporary where you check in. Even if you’re just heading to the first-come, first-served Lounge, this is your first stop.

Second Floor Check In Desk for California Grill

Second Floor Check In Desk for California Grill

You’ll then be escorted via a private elevator to the 15th floor. In this way, staff act as gatekeepers for the popular spot. If left unattended, it would get pretty busy up there, especially around Wishes-at-Magic-Kingdom time.

Once you make your way upstairs, a bank of Wine Fridges greets you straight ahead.

Entrance and Wine Fridges

Entrance and Wine Fridges

You walk through the Lounge and Bar to get to the restaurant’s main seating area. That sounds as though these are different spaces; they aren’t. Basically, with the exception of a few private dining rooms, the restaurant features an open floor plan, accentuating the sweeping views and retro-meets-modern vibe.

California Grill Bar

California Grill Bar

If you find yourself without an ADR, there’s still hope. You can sit in the Grill’s Lounge and order from the menu, or just enjoy Drinks, Sushi, and Appetizers. Be forewarned, though: it’s not uncommon for this area to reach capacity as the night goes on. Here at 5PM, though, it was pretty bare.

California Grill Lounge

California Grill Lounge

Wrap around to the main seating area, and you see that nearly every table commands an excellent view of the surrounding landscape, including Magic Kingdom and the Resorts situated around Seven Seas Lagoon.

Seating varies here and includes both tables and chairs and booths.



There are also a selection of tables that mix banquette and chair seating. Note that white tablecloths and cloth napkins are the norm here, lending to the upscale air of sophistication.

Table for Two

Table for Two

Booths are somewhat unique in that they are located in the middle of the floor. That means that you can enter from either side, and there will be traffic on both sides of your table, similar to what you find at Jiko. While this isn’t necessarily bad, it does mean that your booth won’t be as secluded as you might like.

But the view outside of the windows isn’t the only thing you have to look at.

California Grill Kitchen

California Grill Kitchen

The well-orchestrated, professional hustle and bustle that’s happening behind the counter in the on-stage kitchen can be fascinating as well.

Prepping for Dinner Service

Prepping for Dinner Service

Although we will focus today on the food here, the sweeping, panoramic vistas certainly bear mentioning. You can see for miles!

The View

The View

And that’s one of the biggest draws of California Grill — this view, especially when it comes to [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: April 12, 2015

Happy Sunday, everyone! We’ve got some awesome news for you this week about the menu we’ll see when Boathouse opens at Disney Springs in Disney World in the very near future. Rumors place the soft opening for walk-ups only starting April 13, and Cast Member previews are already taking place.

Check out the Amphicar Tours you might get to take on your next visit!

Amphicar Tours at The Boathouse

Amphicar Tours at The Boathouse

Until then, let’s take a look at all the news we reported on this week. For more details on the above news and more, just click on the links below!

Disney Food News

Check out every tidbit of the latest Disney Food News — even the stuff we don’t mention in posts on the blog! — on our Disney Food News Pin Board, including menu updates, restaurant closures, special events, and more!

We’ve got all the latest for you, so check it out before you go.

DFB Reader Finds

If you find a fun new food — or other edible awesomeness — in or about Disney, share a photo with us on facebook or twitter so we can add it to our DFB Reader Finds each Sunday!

Today, we’re featuring entrees from some of Disney’s most beloved Signature spots! Jace Heiden shared with us “The beautiful bison striploin with a side of the heavenly tomato risotto from the famous filet at California Grill! [It’s the] Best of both worlds.” I agree!!

Bison Striploin with a Side of Tomato Risotto at California Grill

Bison Striploin with a Side of Tomato Risotto at California Grill

Kelly Patton and family had a chance to dine in Le Cellier Steakhouse, and they loved everything about the experience — especially the Kurobuta Pork!

Kurobuta Pork at Le Cellier Steakhouse

Kurobuta Pork at Le Cellier Steakhouse

Do you have a favorite Disney Food find? Share your photos with us!

Deal of the Week: The FULLY UPDATED DFB Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks e-Book, 2015-16 Edition

Magic Kingdom Snacks are some of our favorite treats in all the World! And in fact, many of them can just about amount to a meal. And those are just a couple of the reasons we are so excited to announce that the 2015-16 Edition of The DFB Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks e-Book is now available!

To celebrate the 2015-16 launch of this important book, we have a great discount for you! Our readers can get the new guide for $3 off the purchase price for a limited time — just use code MK15 at the check-out!

It’s time to snag your copy! Here are the details.

The Disney Food Blog Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks e-Book

The DFB Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks e-Book is one of the many fun and informative Disney Dining e-Books offered by Disney Food Blog!

Now we’ve updated our best-selling DFB Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks e-Book for 2015-16 with even more great information, photos, and…yep!…snacks (about 30 more than the 2014 edition)!

Don’t Miss Out on the Best Snacks in the Magic Kingdom!

This guide is guaranteed to help you find the best snacks and treats (even mini-meals!) for your family while visiting the Magic Kingdom — or we’ll refund the purchase price. We all know that treats at Magic Kingdom are just as nostalgic as our first flight on Dumbo!

The DFB Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks e-Book includes: [Read more…]

News! Enjoy “Eat Local Week” in Disney World

Fun news for those of you visiting Disney World this week!

EatLocalWeek Orlando Logo

Slow Food Orlando is sponsoring Eat Local Week in The City Beautiful — and it’s happening right now!

While the event showcases eating, drinking, and shopping local throughout the Central Florida Region, there are opportunities to celebrate local growers and producers by dining in some of our favorite Disney Restaurants.

Enjoy menus featuring locally-sourced ingredients all this week, showcasing ingredients from Florida farms, ranches, and fisheries.

And the list of participating Disney restaurants includes some of our tried and true favorites. Choose from The Wave…of American Flavors or California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. We’ve enjoyed delicious seasonal dishes in both.

California Grill view

A Beautiful View and the Season’s Best Flavors at California Grill

At Disney’s Grand Floridian, dine slow-food style at the beautiful Citricos. Or hop over to Disney’s BoardWalk for dinner at Flying Fish Cafe — hands down, one of my absolute favorite spots! (Read our latest review of Flying Fish here.)

Crab Cake

The Flying Fish Cafe is Always an Excellent Choice, Especially for Seafood, Like Their Killer Crabcakes

But we aren’t finished! Yachtsman Steakhouse, known for perfectly prepared steaks and seasonally-inspired sides, will also be participating. Finally, end your Eat Local tour at [Read more…]

DFB Reader Questions Answered: Best Restaurants to Celebrate a Grown-Up Birthday at Walt Disney World

Today, we’re pulling another great question out the Disney Food Blog mailbag. You guys ask some great ones, and lots of times, we’ll get several emails and inquiries about the same subject.

Spontaneous Birthday Treat at Citricos

Spontaneous Birthday Treat at Citricos

Today, we’re going to delve into the wonderful world of birthday celebrations for grown-ups!

Celebrating Grown Up Birthdays in Walt Disney World

Our DFB reader asks:

We will be vacationing at WDW in May. My 25-year old son will have a birthday while we are there. We would like to have a special meal to celebrate, something fun but also really good!

I love this question! Disney brands itself a great place for all kinds of celebrations. And when it comes to birthdays, why should kiddos have all the fun?

When planning a special meal to celebrate a birthday at Walt Disney World, the most basic advice is probably a great starting point: what does the birthday boy or girl enjoy?

Birthday Dessert

Birthday Dessert

Does he like fine dining, or would he prefer a great night out at a sports bar? Does she like a quiet, elegant setting, or a spot with intricate themeing? Or are they a kid at heart who can Celebrate Mickey with the best of them?

Fantastic ideas abound for fun birthday celebrations at Disney World, but let’s go with my three favorite ideas. At the very least, it might lead to some good brainstorming when it comes time to plan your own special dinner party!

Signature Dining

For the Disney fan who enjoys a fine dining experience, there would be no other place to celebrate a birthday than where these two things meet — Disney’s signature dining restaurants.

If you’re looking for the pinnacle of fine dining, consider booking a table at Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Victoria and Albert's Main Dining Room

Victoria and Albert’s Main Dining Room

The ultimate in Disney fine dining, this relaxed, refined restaurant has won countless awards for its upscale take on modern American fare and its stellar wine menu. To make it an even more special experience, book the Chef’s Table!

Another great option is California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The restaurant sits atop the hotel, and boasts panoramic views. It’s a great spot for viewing Wishes, Magic Kingdom’s fireworks spectacular!

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli is as Good as Ever

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli at California Grill

Food here is always fresh and inventive, celebrating the farm to table movement and the Asian fusion style that placed California on the culinary map.

For something a little off the beaten path but no less delicious, check out Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Jiko at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

In a relaxing atmosphere that mimics the [Read more…]

Walt Disney World Steak Gallery

It’s time for another fun addition to our Disney Food Galleries!

disney world steak gallery

We just love to share photos of all of our favorite foods — and collect them into galleries for easy viewing! Whether your craving is for popcorn, ice cream, or a cupcake, there’s a gallery for you!

And today, we’re introducing a brand new gallery for all of you red meat lovers out there! Yep, we’ve gathered a whole buncha steaks from around Disney World to help you make your choices on your next visit.

Remember, some of these may drop off menus from time to time or have side dishes or preparation changed, but hopefully this will give you a good overview of what’s available! Here we go!

Yachtsman Steakhouse

Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club is one of my top picks when it comes to steak at Walt Disney World. After all, they decorate with meat — the first thing you pass en route to your seat is the Steak Trimming Room!

Chefs here pride themselves not only on the very best cuts of meat, but appetizers, side dishes, and desserts inspired by market fresh ingredients. Yachtsman combines the very best of seasonal flavors with the traditional steak experience.

My absolute favorite pick at Yachtsman is the 16-ounce Boneless Ribeye. It is always a melt-in-your-mouth choice.

Ribeye with Herb Fries at Yachtsman Steakhouse

Ribeye with Herb Fries at Yachtsman Steakhouse

But we are also big fans of the 12-ounce Prime New York Strip Steak, served here with a rich potato gratin stack.

Strip Steak

12-ounce Prime New York Strip Steak


Shula’s at Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin is the kind of place that you think of when you envision an upscale steakhouse. As your eyes adjust to the dim lighting and you check out the menu — printed on a football! — you’ll settle into the refined elegance of your surroundings.

When I have the chance to dine here, I almost always go for my favorite, the 22-ounce Cowboy Ribeye (are you sensing a theme?). The Bone-in Steak has been excellent on every visit. The flavor is unbelievable!

Cowboy Ribeye

22-ounce Cowboy Ribeye

Looking for a lighter approach to soothe your carnivore cravings? We’ve also enjoyed the Steak Mary Anne. Delicate by steakhouse standards, the 5-ounce medallions are served with a simple demi glace in this case. It’s the perfect plate for the guest who prefers all the flavor of prime, aged beef in a smaller serving.

Steak Mary Anne

Steak Mary Anne

Flying Fish

If you’re a landlubber like me, then finding a great steak at a restaurant known for fabulous seafood is a dream come true. But it’s not impossible if you’re dining at Flying Fish Cafe.

When I visit, I always order the Char-Crusted Black Angus New York Strip. The creamy Sauce Foyot is such a great accent — and they’re never chintzy with it!

Char Crusted Black Angus New York Strip

Char-Crusted Black Angus New York Strip

Can’t decide between surf and turf? You don’t have to! Try the two house specialities side by side with the Entree Duo, which features the Char-Crusted Angus New York Strip Steak and the restaurant’s most famous fish dish, the Potato-wrapped Red Snapper.

Entree Duo of Red Snapper and Strip Steak

Entree Duo of Red Snapper and Strip Steak


Jiko offers some of the most interesting food at Walt Disney World.

And while I enjoy the fusion of African, Indian, and Meditteranean flavors when it comes to appetizers and desserts, I rarely deviate from my favorite entree: the Oak-Grilled Filet.

Oak Grilled Filet with Mac and Cheese

Oak-Grilled Filet with Mac and Cheese

And even when their delicious Mac and Cheese isn’t featured as the dish’s side, you can usually score it as a special request (and I totally recommend that you do). :-)

Liberty Inn

In the mood for steak with no Advance Dining Reservation? Then head to Epcot’s Liberty Inn. Their New York Strip Steak, served with Red Wine Butter, Roasted Potatoes, and Steamed Broccoli, is surprisingly good.

New York Strip Steak Meal

New York Strip Steak Meal

Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant

Even though most of my favorite steaks at Disney World are featured at signature restaurants, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good option at moderately priced restaurants, too, like Sci-Fi Dine-In.

Recently, I was pleasantly surprised by [Read more…]

Guest Review: Califonia Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

The California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort has re-opened with a new menu and revitalized decor. This week, guest author Paul Kuconis returns with a review from this Walt Disney World restaurant.

My daughter and I last ate at California Grill in May 2012, seated in the Wine Room overlooking Wilderness Lodge and Epcot in the distance. The meal, as usual (and expected) was superb! Soon after this the restaurant was closed for a remodel. And the wait began.

When I found out (in early September, I believe) that California Grill was accepting Advance Dining Reservations I thought I would give it a shot for our October visit. I was able to grab the date and time I wanted. AWESOME!!

So off we head on the boat from Wilderness Lodge to the Contemporary.

From the Boat Dock

You can’t beat this view of the Contemporary right around dusk! Red sky at night, Sailor’s delight. We are in for a nice day tomorrow.


The reception desk is now on the right of the elevator banks, moved from the left.

Reception Signage

Right off the elevator — the first new element I saw was the immense wine cooler.

The Wine Cooler

As we waited for our table we took in the sights.

A Nice Spot to Watch the Fireworks

The results of the remodel look fantastic and the contemporary theme was carried throughout. The bar has a nice clean look to it with illuminated shelving and neatly arranged bottles.

The Bar

The open concept seating remained, providing good views out all the windows.

The Dining Area

Even the light fixtures carry the ‘contemporary theme’, right down to different colored globes!

Contemporary-Themed Light Fixtures

It was nice to see that the open kitchen concept was maintained through the remodel. I enjoy watching the chefs prepare the offerings. And it is done with Military precision. No ‘Hells’ Kitchen’ theatrics here!

Open Kitchen

You can’t beat white tablecloths and sharp, branded linen napkins. Classy!

A nicely set table

OK, enough of the Atmosphere. We came to eat!


Now the fun begins. The menu logo mirrors the signage we saw at the reception desk.

The Menu

My daughter and I selected a bottle of Landmark Vineyards Overlook Chardonnay. The vineyard is located in Kenwood in the heart of Sonoma (along with Napa and Mendocino) in the North Coast wine region of California. Also in keeping with the California theme.

Chardonnay Choices

We made a nice choice. We noticed aromas of dried pit fruits, melon, honey, and tarragon. It was very fruity, with a nice finishing warmth and lingering spiciness.

The Wine

A Nice Pour

Luckily we got rolls and butter and that gave me something to eat while I perused the menu.

Rolls and Butter

As usual with Disney, they are not just ‘rolls and butter’. We had a choice of sourdough rolls (my favorite and a staple of San Francisco) and focaccia. The butter was topped with sea salt and a lavender blossom. Visually, perfect! This is important as we ‘see’ the food before we eat it.

The crunchiness of the salt worked well with the butter and spread that on the sourdough roll — it doesn’t get any better. At least until the appetizer arrives!

Appetizer and entrée selections proved to be very difficult. To me, that is the sign of a well thought out menu. So many choices, so little time!

I like to try items I have never had and the [Read more…]

The Best (and the Worst!) Pizza in Disney World

Ahhhh…Pizza. Most of us love the stuff, whether it’s high end, low end, or homemade.


But one thing’s for sure — you and I both know that not all pizza is created equal — and this is definitely true when it comes to Disney.

Today, we’re awarding some Pizza Pie Superlatives. From Best to Worst and Everything In Between, let’s take a look at a few.

And when we’re finished with the awards, I’ve love to hear if you agree! Leave us a comment with your best and worst!

Best All-Around Pizza in Disney World

If you’ve been reading Disney Food Blog for any amount of time, the winner in this category will come as no shock to you. The hands-down best pizza in all of Disney World are the pies you find at Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion.

With authentic ingredients right down to the flour, tomatoes, and water they use, these are some serious pies that come closest to the real deal from Naples, Italy. They also taste the most like my favorite New York Style pizza (Lombardi’s!!!!) — the gold standard, as far as I’m concerned!

Quattro Fromaggi Pizza from Via Napoli

Quattro Fromaggi Pizza from Via Napoli

You can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas you order here, whether you’re getting a personal size, or you’re sharing with the table.

Build Your Own Pizza with Prosciutto

Build Your Own Pizza with Prosciutto (and/or Other Ingredients…Whatever)

We give high marks to the Quattro Formaggi White Pizza, as well as the Build Your Own with Prosciutto. But really, there are no wrong choices here!

Worst Disney World Pizza

When it comes to pizza that you can safely — no, you definitely should — skip, we’ll chalk this up to… [Read more…]

Disney Recipe: Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli from the California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Today, I’m excited to share with you a recipe for one of my all-time favorite Disney dishes from the California Grill!

I enjoy going to this posh restaurant when I’m celebrating a special occasion, or just meeting friends for an extra special evening. And anytime I visit California Grill, you can bet that I’ll order the Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli! In fact, I ordered it during my most recent visit (it’s still there after the menu revamp!) and it never fails to impress.

The smooth, creamy, and slightly tangy filling of the house made ravioli is the perfect combination with the vibrant tomato broth. So it’s awesome to know that if I find myself with a craving for it between visits, I have a great recipe to fall back on!

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli

And now, you can whip up a batch, too!

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli

California Grill, Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Serves 4 to 8


Clear Tomato Broth: [Read more…]

Disney Food Pics of the Week: Sushi!

We are back with another fun series of food photos, courtesy of Disney Food Blog Readers! That’s right, we love to show off the talents of folks who post their gorgeous photos on Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza, our Flickr group!

As you know, Sushi continues to be popular at Disney and everywhere else! Let’s take a look at some of the beautiful and fresh options for this Japanese delicacy that you’ve captured on film around Walt Disney World.

Spicy Kazan at California Grill

Fans of sushi who are also lovers of Disney dining know that one of the most awesome places to get sushi in Walt Disney World is California Grill. This uber popular fine dining spot, located high atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, is known for fresh, seasonal ingredients, Pan-Asian influences, and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. And don’t forget to stay for the fireworks!

But when it comes to eats, this Spicy Kazan Roll looks pretty awesome. And if you’re a sushi-nonconformist like me, be sure to try the Pork Nigiri!

Photographer: Natasha Joyan

Spicy Kazan Roll from California Grill

Spicy Kazan Roll from California Grill

Tuna at Flying Fish Cafe

The Flying Fish Cafe remains one of my top choices for dining when I’m in Walt Disney World. I never pass up a chance to eat at this stellar restaurant. With food that’s always something special and a whimsical, carnival-like atmosphere, it always rates highly in my book.

One of the most popular appetizers that you can get here is the Yellowfin Tuna Tartare and Crispy Tempura Tuna-Vegetable Sushi Roll. We’ve tried it and it’s awesome!

Photographer: Stan4dSteph

Tuna at Flying Fish Cafe

Tuna at Flying Fish Cafe

Sushi at Wolfgang Puck Cafe

Another great spot for California cuisine is Wolfgang Puck Cafe and Dining Room at Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney WestSide. And along with other house specialties like their [Read more…]