What’s New Around Walt Disney World: March 3, 2015

We’re taking a quick trip around all four Disney World Parks and then making stops at several Resorts, where a lot of food news seems to be taking place as of late!

But we’re starting our “World”-wide tour at Downtown Disney, and taking a peek at how things are shaping up as the transition towards “Disney Springs” continues on. And we may even take a sneak peek at something coming to our friends in Disneyland on the west coast.

Disney Springs mural

Disney Springs mural

So, are you ready to see What’s New? Good! Because in the words of Peter Pan, “Here we GOOOOOOO…”

DOWNTOWN DISNEY

Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC

Okay, so we’ve mentioned it a couple of times recently, but that’s because we’re happy that BabyCakes has a new home in Downtown Disney! Located at The Landing of what will be Disney Springs, Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC has been up and running since 1 pm on Sunday, February 22nd.

Erin McKenna's Bakery storefront

Erin McKenna’s Bakery storefront

Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC

Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC

Erin McKenna

Erin McKenna

Samoa Donut

Samoa Donut

Featuring gluten-free and vegan baked goods, this is great news for guests on some dietary restrictions. Read our opening day review here!

Flour and Sugar

Speaking of baked goods, Flour and Sugar is a little kiosk that can be found on the newly opened Marketplace Causeway. It sells pre-packaged cookies inspired by various cities in the Sunshine State.

Flour and Sugar

Flour and Sugar

We tried the Siesta Key Key Lime S’more, and we’ll have a review here for you soon!

Key Lime S'more

Key Lime S’more

Disney Springs Construction

All in all, things really seem to be picking up speed in Downtown Disney with the Causeway completed, allowing an easy stroll from spots around T-Rex to the Rainforest Cafe side at the Marketplace.

The Marketplace Causeway

The Marketplace Causeway

Light post on The Marketplace Causeway

Light post on The Marketplace Causeway

Disney Springs sign

Disney Springs sign

We’ll be sure to take a little tour along the path when we’re back with our Flour and Sugar review! The next thing we have our eyes on? Look for [Read more…]

Guest Review: Maya Grill at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

It’s an out-of-the-way restaurant that you might have overlooked, so join guest author Rebecca Dolan with a review of Maya Grill at the Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World!

Maya Grill has never been high on my priority list. Even after all these years of Disney trips, I always figured why go to Maya Grill when I can get my Mexican fix at Epcot’s San Angel Inn? Well, I finally broke down and took the plunge, and San Angel is still the way to go.

Atmosphere

As the signature restaurant of the Spanish-colonial inspired Coronado Springs Resort, Maya Grill evokes the cities of the ancient Maya. You’ll find it towards the back of the main building – just head left off the entryway and continue past the Pepper Market.

Maya Grill Sign

The restaurant is centered on a stylized Maya pyramid, under which bubbles a fountain.

Tables around Pyramid

Tables around Pyramid

The walls are decorated with artistic representations of Maya life. Try to get a table near one of the large windows overlooking the hotel’s central lagoon.

Dining Area

Dining Area

Wall Art

Wall Art

Tables by the window could offer a view

Tables by the window could offer a view

I was surprised to encounter a wait when I arrived at the hostess desk, as Maya Grill isn’t exactly one of Disney World’s most in-demand restaurants. Luckily, I’d made a reservation, despite assuming I wouldn’t need one. So, you might find it worthwhile to make one just in case.

Once seated, my companions and I found the restaurant too loud for our taste. The live entertainment, a gentleman singing and playing the guitar with other canned instruments, was deafening and we strained to hear our conversation. So, this is not the place to go for a quiet evening.

Eats

As was expected, the meal started with a basket of chips and salsa. The chips were thick and sturdy, perfect for getting a big scoop of dip without any breakage.

Chips and salsa while you peruse the menu

Chips and salsa while you peruse the menu

The menu consists of pretty typical Mexican fare, like nachos, tacos, chimichangas, and fajitas. There’s a small but clearly marked vegetarian section, and the abundant gluten free options were interspersed but highlighted throughout the whole menu. My non-spicy-food-eating grandmother appreciated the “North of the Border” section of the menu, which offered simpler fare.

Menu

Menu

First up was the queso fundido appetizer, served with flour tortillas for scooping. Unlike the liquid-y chile con queso you’re probably used to, queso fundido is more like the middle of a mozzarella stick: stringy, gooey and most easily eaten with a fork or plucked with a bit of tortilla. Though a bit salty, it’s hard to go wrong with a big bowl of cheese.

Queso fundito and accompanying tortillas for scooping

Queso fundito and accompanying tortillas for scooping

Next were orders of [Read more…]

What’s New Around Disney World and Disneyland for March 8, 2014!

There’s lots new to see all over the World and the Land! So settle in, friends, and read on!

Hollywood Studios

We’re starting this round at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant!

Sci Fi Diner

“…It came from the snack bar”

The House-made Sci-Fi Candy Bar has hit the dessert menu: a white and dark chocolate mousse layered between sponge cake and dipped in chocolate ganache.

Sci Fi Dessert Menu

Sci Fi Dessert Menu

There have been a couple of additions to 50’s Prime Time Café as well.

50s Prime Time Sign

50s Prime Time Sign

Another vegetarian entrée has been added to the menu: Sissy’s Vegetarian Favorite Multigrain Spaghetti! “Vegetable Protein and Mushrooms tossed in Marinara Sauce, just like Spaghetti and Meatballs.”

And don’t forget dessert! All your favorites remain, but Old-fashioned Handmade Milk Shakes are listed, featuring the famous “Peanut Butter & Jelly” and the limited time “Red Velvet Cupcake.”

Magic Kingdom

Okay, this next update isn’t about food… it’s just next to food ;) . But I couldn’t resist [Read more…]

News! and Review: Las Ventanas Makes its Debut at Disney World’s Coronado Springs Resort

UPDATE: Please note that as of February 2015, Las Ventanas also serves dinner. Advanced Dining Reservations are also accepted. 

Guess what! Disney World opened a new restaurant, and we’ve got all the details for you! :-)

Nope; you won’t find it at the parks. You won’t even find it at Downtown Disney! Nope — it’s at Coronado Springs, a Mexican-themed moderate resort!

Coronado Springs has a few aces up its sleeve when it comes to dining. The Pepper Market has a great reputation for lots of delicious choices in its unique station-style food court, and no one can argue with the margarita flight available at Rix Lounge and Maya Grill. Today, we’re excited to present the Resort’s brand new restaurant: Las Ventanas!

Las Ventanas entry

Las Ventanas entry

Well…it’s not exactly new. Las Ventanas has always been the private dining room for Rix Lounge. I guess they just realized they needed more table service offerings for conventioneers!

Las Ventanas is open for breakfast and lunch. It’s tucked in a hallway next to Rix Lounge. Since it’s closer to the Convention Center, if you are staying at Coronado as a non-Convention guest, it could be easy to miss. Thankfully, there is a sign in front of the Pepper Market leading the way.

Pepper Market

Pepper Market

Las Ventanas sign with operating hours

Las Ventanas sign with operating hours

Atmosphere

Two things struck me upon entering Las Ventanas. First, the size. It’s small and intimate, due to previously being a private dining room. You’ll nearly be able to see the entire restaurant within these pictures.

Las Ventanas seating

Las Ventanas seating

Las Ventanas

Las Ventanas

There were only 14 or 15 tables in the whole place and, even though the room is small, they were very well-spaced with plenty of room in between each.

Las Ventanas Table

Las Ventanas Table

Second, it’s beautiful. Decor is minimalistic. Rather than being filled to the brim with details, things are kept rather simple. This serves to enhance the atmosphere, as you can truly take in the touches that catch your eye.

Las Ventanas Hanging Lamps

Las Ventanas Hanging Lamps

Fresh flowers on the table

Fresh flowers on the table

Wall decoration

Wall decoration

One thing I can’t share with you in pictures [Read more…]

News! Rix Lounge Announces Tequila Tasting at Coronado Springs Resort

Now and then we like to explore the lesser-known hang-outs at Walt Disney World. Tucked into the main building at Coronado Springs Resort and specializing in awesome tequilas (they’re run by the same folks who run Cava del Tequila!) Rix Lounge is a unique place to unwind!

Rix Lounge Entrance

We’ve got a photo tour of this fun nightspot for you below, but first I have some super fun news to share for those of us who love tequila and beverage tastings!

Rix Lounge’s FIRST EVER Tequila Tasting

Rix Lounge will host their first ever Tequila Tasting on Saturday, March 30th, at 8pm! A tequila ambassador (Hilda, maybe?) will guide guests through the history and production process of tequila, the different types and categories of tequila, and of course a tasting.

Rix Tequila Tasting

I’m guessing this will be a LOT like the tequila tastings from the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, which have now been turned into full blown tequila lunches! The tasting will include Milagro Select Barrel Silver, Partida Reposado, and Gran Centenario Añejo. A delicious Sangrita will be the finishing touch.

Tickets are available to the general public (ages 21 and up) at $30 per person in advance, or $35 per person at the door. A table reservation is required.

Rix Lounge Photo Tour

Now, for those of you who haven’t ever been to this little-known Disney hot spot, let’s take a gander around! Here’s a photo tour for ya!!

Rix Lounge Decor

Many special events are held at Rix Lounge, including kid birthday parties and romantic weddings! So, check the schedule before planning your evening. There is [Read more…]

News! A la Carte Menus at Pepper Market in Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Recent changes at Pepper Market at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort have resulted in brand new lunch and dinner menus at the food court.

Over the past several months, Pepper Market has gone through a series of menu changes. Prior to December 2011, the counter service spot offered a unique cafeteria-style experience, allowing guests to select their meal from a wide array of items. In early 2012, the restaurant switched to a buffet service; and on January 1, 2013, the new a la carte menu went into effect.

While the restaurant’s popular all-day buffet (and never-ending burritos) is gone, the meal is still a Quick Service credit on the Disney Dining Plan, and the lunch and dinner menus are varied and interesting.

Pepper Market Entrance

Guests can still expect a healthy assortment of Mexican- and American-inspired dishes, including the popular burrito with steak, rice, and beans … and a lot of delicious cheese sauce!

The burrito at Pepper Market is a crowd pleaser.

Here’s a peek at the new, a la carte breakfast and dinner menus (lunch is still [Read more…]

Photo Tour: Cafe Rix at Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World

While Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World has a lot of charm and many fans (myself included!), it’s a little slim on meal options.

See, the resort’s table-service restaurant, Maya Grill, is only open for dinner these days; and the counter-service Pepper Market has gone buffet for breakfast and lunch, and closes from 2 p.m. until dinner. So sometimes it’s hard to find a bite to eat outside of Siesta’s Pool Bar. And while pool bars are charming, that might not be quite the vibe you’re seeking.

Enter Cafe Rix.

This is the only grab and go option for you at Coronado Springs. But does it offer what busy families and convention-goers really need to fuel up for a day at Disney? Let’s take a peek inside!

Rix Cafe Sign

Decorated in a Mediterranean style, the cafe offers a little something for everyone.

Entry to Cafe

Fresh fruit, wine, and newspapers are available, in addition to prepared cold items. I’m also totally digging on those lantern-like, Mexican light fixtures! That’s one of [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: January 9, 2010

Lady and the Tramp Cake Topper

Howdy, all! We are firmly ensconced in 2011, and I hope it’s treating you well. First up, as always, the news! But stay tuned — lots of great new sites in the round-up this week!

And now — on to the round-up!

A Wedding Cake Blog showcases some gorgeous and whimsical Disney Wedding Cake Toppers! Belle, Cinderella, Bride and Groom Ear Hats, even Lady and the Tramp!

WDW for Grownups has a fun primer on couponing in the Disney World area — check it out and save some cash on meals and entertainment the next time you’re in Orlando!

Two Boos Who Eat takes us to Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen and Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor in Disneyland!! YUM!

Jessica Loves Cupcakes gives us an overview of cupcakes in Disneyland — including a fun Minnie Mouse cupcake antenna topper I hadn’t even seen before!

Main Street Gazette takes us on a tantalizing tour of The Wave at Disney’s Contemporary Resort!

RoriTravel’s Florida takes us out to Rix Lounge at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort!

WDW Radio focuses on the UK pavilion with guest stars Mark and Emma (my new friends from the UK!)

A Taste of Wonderland covers a few of the new dining spots in WDW!

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.

Best Disney World Restaurants When You Don’t Have A Reservation!

It’s happened to all of us — you need some eats and have no advanced dining reservation (ADR) for a meal at Disney World. No matter if it’s on purpose or by accident, sometimes those nights you have to “wing it” can end in a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter from the Hess Station if you’re not prepared (speaking from experience!). DisneyFoodBlog readers have pulled together their suggestions for the best Disney World restaurants they count on when they’re starving and minus a reservation (thanks again for everyone who contributed)! Quick reminder, though, when Disney World’s busy, you’re probably going to have a wait everywhere. These might get you in a little quicker…

Best Disney World Restaurants for When You Don't Have a Reservation

Marrakesh
Restaurant Marrakesh, Morocco, Epcot’s World Showcase
Coming in strong at the top is Restaurant Marrakesh, serving authentic African Mediterranean dishes in a beautiful setting. Wind through Morocco’s medina to the back of the pavilion to find the small door of the restaurant. The King of Morocco sent his own artisans and tile-workers to create the Morocco pavilion, and Marrakesh’s decor is stunning. (Even if you’re not dining there, head in to take a picture or two!)

Marrakesh Dining Room

Marrakesh Dining Room

Marrakesh Decor

Marrakesh Decor

The Dinner Menu at Marrakesh includes plenty of couscous, the National dish of Morocco, along with chicken, mussels, and other authentic cuisine.

Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic Salmon

Sampler Platter

Sampler Platter

For more food photos, just visit the umbrella’d podium at the front of the Morocco pavilion; they’ve set up a cast member with a large photo album of food pictures of the dishes at Restaurant Marrakesh in hopes of driving more traffic to the establishment.

Bonus: There’s some great entertainment — belly dancers! — at Restaurant Marrakesh!

Biergarten, Germany Pavilion, Epcot’s World Showcase
Biergarten in Epcot’s Germany was a shock to me when it came in at the number two spot for places to go without an ADR (good to know that I can head over there anytime!)! Every review I’ve seen of Biergarten has been positive, and with family-style seating (meaning you’ll probably be seated at a long table with one or two other parties) and some fantastic entertainment, the restaurant offers great opportunity for fun.

Celebrating With Steins!

Celebrating With Steins!

Christmas Entertainment

Christmas Entertainment

Dancing the Night Away

Dancing the Night Away

Riiiiiiiicolaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Riiiiiiiicolaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Not sure the menu will agree with you? Biergarten is a buffet, which means there’s something for everyone! Lots of spaetzel, wurst, pretzel, and sauerkraut, but there’s mac n cheese, too, just in case!

Famous Pretzel Bread Rolls

Famous Pretzel Bread Rolls

Wurst and More

Wurst and More

Carving Board

Carving Board

Maya Grill, Coronado Springs Resort
Maya Grill came in a distant third in the poll, but it was mentioned several times and deserved a spot in the blog. This restaurant is located in Coronado Springs Resort and serves dishes representative of the resort’s southwestern USA and northern Mexico theme.

Maya Grill

Maya Grill

As a general rule, restaurants at Disney’s moderate-level and Disney Vacation Club resorts don’t fill up as fast as the theme park and regular resort restaurants, so these are good spots to stop for an unplanned meal.

Other Suggestions
While these three were the most-suggested, there were several others mentioned that you should keep in the back of your mind as “just-in-case” locations. Thanks again to everyone who contributed ideas!:

Captain’s Grille, Yacht Club Resort
Olivia’s, Old Key West Resort
Rainforest Cafe, Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Kona Cafe, Polynesian Resort
San Angel Inn, Epcot’s World Showcase, Mexico
Yak and Yeti, Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Turf Club, Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa
Mama Melrose, Disney’s Hollywood Studios Theme Park
Nine Dragons, Epcot’s World Showcase, China
Trails End, Fort Wilderness Resort
Grand Floridian Cafe, Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
ESPN Zone, Disney’s Boardwalk
Big River Grille and Brewing Works, Disney’s Boardwalk
Fulton’s Crab House, Downtown Disney
Raglan Road, Downtown Disney
The Plaza Restaurant, Magic Kingdom Theme Park

Let me know your thoughts (and YOUR top spots for grabbing an unplanned meal!) via facebook, twitter, or email!

Check out the other “Best Disney World Restaurants” in our series!