Disney’s Aulani Resort Restaurants and Dining Details

Thanks to Werner Weiss at Yesterland for the heads up on this great news. Here are all the details on Disney dining at Aulani Resort, Disney’s newest Vacation Club property at Ko Olina on Oahu, Hawai’i. Details can be found at DVCMember.com for those with log-ins and passwords.

Makahiki Buffet Restaurant

This restaurant will have an open-air dining room featuring murals created by local artists depicting the story of Makahiki, the Hawaiian harvest festival. This location will be on the Main Building’s lower level, and will offer character breakfasts and casual dinner buffets with cuisine reflecting local favorites. These will include fresh, line-caught sustainable seafood and chef-inspired dishes.

The ‘Olelo Room

This will be a fun, interactive lounge serving tropical beverages, Continental breakfast, traditional Afternoon Tea, and cocktail service. You’ll find it adjacent to the Makahiki Buffet.

‘AMA’AMA Beachside Restaurant

Ah, yes! The beautiful Aulani beachside restaurant we speculated about so many months ago! Seating will be inside hale (beachside houses) and will serve traditional and locally-inspired meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You’ll be able to get omelets, bakery items, hot and cold sandwiches, salads, seasonal and sustainable seafood, steak, duck and vegetarian selections, and other menu selections.

'AMA'AMA Beachside Restaurant concept art

Beachside Lounge/Pool Bar

Right next to the ‘AMA’AMA Beachside Restaurant, this lounge will serve favorites like the Mai Tai, Pina Colada, Blue Hawai’i and Long Island Iced Tea. Of course, you’ll be able to get anything from the full bar, such as margaritas, sangria, sparkling cocktails, wine, and local beer. Be sure to ask about the ‘Ike Mua, the discovery drink of [Read more…]

Guest Review: Garden Grill Restaurant

Jeff Kocan, an incredible writer and blogger over at www.CigarettesandCoffee.com (he was the evil photographer of this little ditty — don’t look if you’re hungry), kindly penned and photographed this review of the Garden Grill Restaurant in Epcot’s The Land. This rotating restaurant is in many of our childhood memories, but these days, it’s got a new “spin.” (Couldn’t help it.) Take it away, Jeff!

Garden Grill Restaurant

For too many Walt Disney World visitors, The Land pavilion on the east side of Epcot’s Future World is probably best known as the building you rush through twice per visit – once to get Soarin’ Fastpasses and once to redeem them. It’s worth spending a little extra time here, though, as the building also houses an above-average food court, a more-fun-than-it-sounds agricultural boat ride, and one of the park’s most unique restaurants, the revolving Garden Grill.

The Garden Grill has been around since Epcot’s (or, if you will, EPCOT Center’s) opening day on October 1, 1982. Back then it was known as the Good Turn Restaurant; it became the Land Grille Room in 1986 before taking its current name in ’93. Lunch service here ended in 2008, and the restaurant now exclusively hosts Chip and Dale’s Harvest Feast, a family-style character dinner.

Chip and Dale's Harvest Feast

The Atmosphere
I tend to think of the Garden Grill as one of Disney World’s “forgotten” character meals — it certainly isn’t mentioned as frequently as, say, Chef Mickey’s or Cinderella’s Royal Table. That said, during our Sunday-night visit, the restaurant was full and the adjacent waiting area was packed with diners waiting for their buzzers to buzz.¬†Said waiting area is essentially a vacant corner near the public restrooms, and aside from a couple benches, the ground is the only available seating. Germophobes may prefer to stand.

Once you’re in the restaurant itself, you’re treated to an experience unlike any other in the parks: [Read more…]

Liberty Tree Tavern Character Meals Available January 3-February 14, 2010

Liberty Tree TavernWDWMagic is reporting that Liberty Tree Tavern will open as a character meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the Crystal Palace refurbishment closure.

Character meals will be available from January 3, 2010, through February 14, 2010. Meals will be family style. Update: The characters at the meals will be Minnie, Pluto, Chip and Dale (thanks Dan!). All characters are subject to change, of course.

You can book online at DisneyWorld.com or by calling 407-WDW-DINE.

Enjoy!

Crystal Palace: A Great Reason To Get Up Early

Early Morning on Main Street

Early Morning on Main Street

The Early-Morning Advance Dining Reservation (ADR)
One of the well-known tips among Disney enthusiasts is that you should always try to book a dining reservation for breakfast in a theme park before it opens. Why? Because this means you get in before the general masses. You get the golden opportunity to wander through a practically empty Disney park. It’s magic at its finest. (Plus, if you eat quickly enough, you can make it over to the Adventureland rope and be first in line for Splash Mountain…but I didn’t tell you that.)

Empty Tomorrowland

Empty Tomorrowland

One of my favorite restaurants at which to snatch up one of these break-of-dawn reservations is Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom Theme park of Disney World. This is a character breakfast, so you get to share your noms with Pooh and the gang (usually Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet); it’s a buffet, so you pretty much dictate how long your breakfast lasts; and it’s HUGE, so you have a great chance of getting those elusive 8:05 AM time slots.

Nearly Empty Main Street

Nearly Empty Main Street

So with all that going for it, you’ve got to give it a try! And I didn’t even mention that many guests deem Crystal Palace eats to be some of the best buffet food at Disney, scout’s honor.

...And the Castle

...And the Castle

Getting Into the Park for Your Reservation
While it may seem like a red tape nightmare to get into the park an hour early, it’s usually pretty streamlined. Bring your dining reservation confirmation number with you to the park and show up about 20 minutes before your scheduled time. You’ll simply enter through the turnstyles marked for the Breakfast crowd (usually all the way to the right, but this can change); a Cast Member might check off your name and confirmation number, and then you’re free to explore Main Street in all its empty glory. This is why I suggest arriving 20 minutes early; you get to take all of those fascinating photos. Don’t forget to make your reservation for a day without extra magic hours in the morning!

By the way, if you’re staying at a Disney resort and taking the bus to the Magic Kingdom, a “breakfast bus” usually begins running at least 30 minutes before the first reservation in any park. The monorail also starts running far enough in advance as well.

Time for Breakfast!

Time for Breakfast!

Checking In for Your Reservation
The Crystal Palace can be found between Main Street USA and Adventureland — it’s the huge, glass domed building to the left of the walkway. Simply head up the steps (past the throngs of people, most likely — the Magic Kingdom may seem empty, but almost everyone who IS in the park is at the same restaurant) and jump into line to check in for your reservation.

magickingdom1-093

Once your party is called, you’ll head into the beautiful Crystal Palace restaurant and be greeted by…

The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers...

The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers...

…some very familiar friends! Not to mention an absolutely stunning, light-filled atrium made entirely of clear and stained glass. For all of Disney’s signature dining restaurants designed by award-winning interior artists, I find Crystal Palace’s atrium to be one of the most gorgeous design aspects on property.

The Beautiful Central Atrium

The Beautiful Central Atrium

A Buffet With Character!
Once you’re seated in one of the two side rooms (these are beautiful, too — paneled with mirrors and filled with plants) you’re free to head up to the buffet.

There are two sides to the buffet, and these are mirror images of one another. The two sides culminate at the customize-your-own-omelet station in the center of the semi-circular buffet.

The Buffet

The Buffet

Hot Items are Identical on Both Sides of the Buffet

Hot Items are Identical on Both Sides of the Buffet

The Buffet

The Buffet

On the far ends of the buffet lines are cold items: yogurts, granola and other toppings, fruit, salmon, breads, etc. In the center you’ll find hot items: breakfast pizzas, breakfast meats, waffles, the famous puffed french toast, breakfast potatoes, and omelets.

Cereals

Cereals

In the middle of the room you’ll find muffins, cereals, and Pooh’s famous breakfast lasagne.

Pooh's Breakfast Lasagne

Pooh's Breakfast Lasagne

Baked Items

Baked Items

The food is fairly similar to most of the other Disney breakfast buffets, which is actually quite good. Here are a few more close-up foods of some of our favorites. That Mickey Waffle might look familiar to some of you! It’s my avatar on Twitter!

Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizza

Mickey Waffles

Mickey Waffles

Puffed French Toast

Puffed French Toast

Pooh and Friends
Once you have your food, it might be time for the first Character Parade! Hopefully you haven’t forgotten that some of your favorite friends are here, and they can’t wait to have a great time with you (and/or your kids…they’re good to go either way).

Piglet Leading the Parade!

Piglet Leading the Parade!

While Character teams (Pooh and Piglet, and Tigger and Eeyore) take turns visiting tables on either side of the restaurant, some sort of Character Parade or Celebration occurs when it’s time for the teams to switch restaurant sides. This is when you should encourage your little ones to go find a character and follow along. Cast Members will be there to help move the parades forward.

There’s usually much singing and music; napkin “twirling” is a common activity during these functions. All in all, it’s a good time!

Eeyore Being Shy During the Parade

Eeyore Being Shy During the Parade

And then it’s back to signing autographs, taking photos, and making people smile for the characters (and back to eating for you!).

Tigger Signing Autographs...Sort Of...

Tigger Signing Autographs...Sort Of...

And then, if you’re lucky, you pay the bill when the park is just about to open. I couldn’t resist posting this photo of a family following Alice (in Wonderland) as she hurried to “unlock” Fantasyland and her TeaCups ride right at opening time!

Alice is Very, Very Late in Opening the TeaCups Ride!

Alice is Very, Very Late in Opening the TeaCups Ride!

So you can see why Crystal Palace is one of my favorites for breakfast, but don’t forget that you can dine here for lunch and dinner as well! Both of those meals are buffets as well, and offer great food (in my opinion).

Enjoy!

Tusker House Breakfast (or…Duck a l’Harambe)

I hadn’t had Tusker House breakfast in years. I had great memories of going to the little counter-service eatery right after the park opened, getting my breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, shredded potatoes, and a biscuit, and sitting out at one of the tables, lazily watching commando dads and exhausted kids taking “monster steps” toward the Kilimanjaro Safari queue line. Sigh. Those were lovely mornings.

The Duck of the Hour

The Duck of the Hour

No sooner had I developed a routine, however, when Disney pulled the rug out from under me and established Tusker House as a table-service buffet rather than my beloved counter-service stop. They moved the Duck Breakfast there, too–no longer dubbing it “Donald’s Breakfast-o-saurus,” as was it’s name when hosted by Dino-land’s Restaurant-o-saurus, but “Donald’s Safari Breakfast,” implying its new home next to the Kilimanjaro Safari ride.

Tusker House Buffet Area

Tusker House Buffet Area

Now, don’t get me wrong; I love ducks as much as the next guy. And I love having breakfast with ducks…and mice, and dogs, and chipmunks, too. But I was a little perturbed that my slow, lazy, relaxing Tusker House breakfast was about to be turned into a typical loud, crazy, take-a-buzzer-and-hope-to-get-a-seat-within-an-hour character buffet meal.

Oatmeal and Mealie Pap

Oatmeal and Mealie Pap

Luckily, my first experience at Donald’s Safari Breakfast was a good one. We were seated after only about a 10 minute wait, and despite the hoarde of cheerleaders occupying an entire section of the restaurant, we were waited on quickly and efficiently and were doted upon by the characters twice during our hour in the restaurant.

Beef Bobotie, Veggie Quiche, Coconut Sweet Potato Casserole

Beef Bobotie, Veggie Quiche, Coconut Sweet Potato Casserole

The “complimentary” Jungle Juice was also a considerably successful attempt to brighten my experience (I LOVE that stuff!).

Jungle Juice

Jungle Juice

Tusker House is serving some fun, ethnic breakfast items along with the standards, and the massive size of the restaurant keeps the crowds from being unbearable. I think I’ll consider it a must-do character breakfast from here on out–alongside our favorite Crystal Palace!

Go! Enjoy! And say Hello to the duck for me!