Photo Tour: Animal Kingdom Starbucks Now Open

Starbucks opened today in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, completing the line-up of Starbucks locations in Walt Disney World parks (the others being Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Bakery, Epcot’s Fountain View, and Hollywood Studios’ Trolley Car Cafe along with Downtown Disney’s two locations).

On a recent tour of the building’s exterior (formerly a merchandise store), we noticed what looked like coffee beans added to the design elements. Africa is one of three main regions from which Starbucks sources their coffee!

As you approach the Starbucks from the front of the park (located between Discovery Island and Africa), this is the first Entrance of two that you will encounter.

Starbucks Entrance

Starbucks Entrance and Peter, a Super Helpful and Friendly Cast Member Decked Out in the Team Uniform

You’ll notice that the name “Creature Comforts” has stuck, which kind of make sense, right? I love the two little monkeys with their coffees flanking the sign. ;-)

Creature Comforts

The Store’s Official Name is Creature Comforts. And Yes, They Do Serve Monkeys Apparently.

But just in case you’re not sure where you are, a subtle mermaid logo sign is posted near the door.

With [Read more…]

Even More Top Disney Dining Tips from the Experts!

We are back with some great advice some of the best experts around when it comes to planning your Disney Dining — DFB Readers!

Top Disney Dining Tips from the Fans

Seriously, you guys are the best, and I’m always excited to learn new things from your experiences! So when it came time recently to update our Top Tips for Disney Dining, we turned to you for input and advice. And you responded with tons of great suggestions.

Check out just a few of them below, as we offer you even more Top Disney Dining Tips from the Experts!

Have a Plan…and Don’t Blow Those Snack Credits on Things You Can Get at Home!

It was important enough for several different DFB readers to mention — and expound on! Do not waste those precious Disney Dining Plan snack credits on something as ho hum and common as a piece of fruit or a bottle of water.

And…I have to agree here. You can get a banana and a Dasani in your supermarket at home. But when was the last time you waltzed into Kroger and picked up a Carrot Cake Cookie or Schoolbread?

Yep, they can sometimes pile up on you toward the end of the trip. So spend a little time planning beforehand so you don’t waste a single one. Here’s a TIP: DFB Snack Guides can come in handy for this endeavor; we have one for every park at Walt Disney World with our recommendations for the best snacks!

Carrot Cake Cookie at Writer's Stop in Disney's Hollywood Studios

Make Those Snack Credits Count with a Carrot Cake Cookie

Get the Dining Plan…And Don’t.

One of the most interesting suggestions for stretching your Disney Food Budget came from @Greg_Crowder: he suggested that you go halfsies on the Disney Dining Plan. He writes: “2 of us had the free plan a couple of years ago and 2 didn’t. The snacks and counter [service] meals were plenty for all 4 people.

Butterfinger Cupcake at Starring Rolls Cafe in Disney's Hollywood Studios!

Butterfinger Cupcake at Starring Rolls Cafe in Disney’s Hollywood Studios Are Totally Shareable!

It’s true that Disney portions can be pretty big, and eating lots of large meals and rich snacks and then walking 100 miles a day may be a tall order. So if you’re willing to share, this can be an excellent way to keep costs down. It also means that you pre-pay, so your spending money goes a little further.

Just note that if you’re all staying in the same room, you all need to be on the same plan; so this tip only works if your compadres are in a different room.

Don’t Forget About Resort Restaurants.

Many readers chimed in that visitors should never forget to check out resort dining options, saying that you should definitely venture out of the Park for incredible food. Resort restaurants offer some of the most amazing dining on property.

Slow-cooked in Gravy, Simple and Well-seasoned Butter Chicken and Chicken Vindaloo

Slow-cooked in Gravy, Simple and Well-seasoned Butter Chicken and Chicken Vindaloo at Sanaa — Be Sure to Schedule a Meal Here

Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge was mentioned lots of times. For instance, reader David Mendoza says: “Whether you are staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge or not, make the trip to the Sanaa restaurant. Wonderful food and such a picturesque setting, watching the beautiful animals as you dine on some of the most awesome food in Disney World! A real must see! And when you are done you can take a stroll and get even closer to the animals. Truly a wondrous place.”

I couldn’t agree more! (Read my latest Sanaa review here.)

Allergies and Food Sensitivities? No problem.

We’ve written about it lots of times — Disney is tops when it comes to serving guests with allergies, food sensitivities, and special diets. And our readers are eager to agree that Disney routinely goes above and beyond to ensure their guests have the best experience possible, regardless of their dietary limitations.

Jiko Allergy-Friendly Menu -- Appetizers -- Click to Enlarge

Example of Jiko’s Allergy-Friendly Appetizer Menu

Ann Hooghuis Dealy weighs in by saying, “If you have food allergies or sensitivities [Read more…]

News and Rumors: Potential Updates to the Disney Dining Plan

Disney World guests utilizing the Disney Dining Plan will want to be aware of some rumored changes taking place to the popular plans available for Disney Resort guests starting today, May 31, 2015 (though it is rumored that Disney will not post the changes officially until June 4th).

Disney Dining Plan

Please note that at this time we have not received official confirmation from Disney regarding any of these changes. We just wanted you to be aware of the rumors in the case that you’d be able to put them into practice this week in the parks.

Participants on the Dining Plan will be able use their dining credits in the typical ways (i.e. guests on the standard Disney Dining Plan will still receive 1 Table Service Credit, 1 Quick Service Credit, and 1 Snack Credit per night of stay and can use those credits accordingly at designated locations); however, there may be additional opportunities that will allow for more flexibility.

Snack Entitlements

The most commonly rumored change says that a “snack credit” will now include all single-serve items and beverages such as Caramel Apples — not including Character designs — and large Mickey Cookies among other previously ineligible items. Also included may be Quick Service restaurant side items and breakfast items, like sides of bacon or sausage.

Caramel Apples

Caramel Apples

These may include: [Read more…]

News: Discounted Walt Disney World Play, Stay, and Dine Packages

Get a discounted Play, Stay & Dine package at Walt Disney World! According to Disney, guests can save up to $400-600 with this discounted offer valid for most Disney-owned resorts, theme park tickets, and Disney Dining plans.

Disney Dining Plan Frequently Asked Questions

Valid for stays December 14 through December 20, 2014 and January 5 through March 7, 2015, your package must include at least 3 nights (maximum of 14 nights) at a Disney resort, a minimum of a 2-day theme park ticket, and a dining plan for the length of your stay.

Your first night must be within the above dates. For example, check in March 7 and your entire stay will be included in the discounted package.

While Value resorts can be booked with any dining plan, all other resorts must include the regular Dining Plan or Deluxe Dining Plan. Take a look at Disney Dining Plans before booking your trip, and read up on the DFB Disney Dining Plan FAQs.

Please note that the offer excludes Villas at Grand Floridian, Bay Lake Tower, Polynesian Villas, Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation Resort, campsites, and 3-bedroom villas.

Packages must be booked by [Read more…]

Top Tips for the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

The 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival kicks off this week! Get ready for 53 days of food and fun, starting this Friday, September 19!

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Tips

We know that you are just as excited as we are! But it’s a pretty big undertaking. With Special Events, Low Cost Demonstrations and Seminars, and of course, International Marketplace Booths, it can quickly become overwhelming.

Today, we thought we’d lend a hand by giving you a few of our tried-and-true Top Tips from our DFB Guide to the 2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival e-Book. We’ll help you make this the best Epcot Food and Wine Festival yet!

1. Plan Ahead

If you don’t read or heed any other tip in this post, pay attention to this one: it pays to plan ahead when mapping out your visit to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

It’s a good idea to check out all of the Marketplaces and their Menus before you ever set foot inside of Epcot. After all, the portions may be appetizer-sized, but visits to just a couple of spots could mean you’re stuffed before you’re finished exploring!

Will the Mushroom Filet at the Canada Marketplace Be Part of Your Plan?

Will the Mushroom Filet at the Canada Marketplace Be Part of Your Plan?

If you have an idea about what’s offered at the kiosks and how much things cost, then you’ll be better equipped to make decisions and stick to a budget. Be sure to keep an eye on DFB’s 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival main page for links to booths, menus, prices, and more.

Disney also gives you some great tools to plan ahead. This year, they’ve published ahead of time a full listing of gluten-free items. We also expect that vegetarian dishes will be marked on the menus. And don’t forget to pick up a Festival Passport at the Festival Center! It’s a fun way to keep track of the dishes you’ve tried!

Collect Those Awesome Stamps in Your Food & Wine Festival Passport!

Collect Those Awesome Stamps in Your Food & Wine Festival Passport!

Worried about your budget? You may want to pick up a Food and Wine Festival Gift Card and have it pre-loaded for convenience.

Food and Wine Festival Gift Card

Food and Wine Festival Gift Card

Not only is this a quick way to pay at the booths, but it also makes easy work of tracking how much you’ve spent.

2. Know How to Beat the Crowds

There’s a reason that the festival is celebrating its 19th year — it’s kind of a big deal! So don’t be surprised when you encounter larger crowds than you might expect during the Fall at Disney World.

But there are ways to deal with the crowds. First, know that [Read more…]

2014 Disney World Free Dining Offer Now Available for General Public Reservations

Booking is now available! Walt Disney World’s Free Dining Offer has been extended to the general public for select dates in September, October, November, and December 2014!

The offer was first available only to Disney’s Visa Cardholders.

Travel Dates

Free Dining is being offered to guests ARRIVING during the dates listed below. A minimum stay of 3 nights is required and may not be booked for longer than 14 nights.

August 31 – October 3, 2014
October 26 – November 1, 2014
November 9 – 20, 2014
December 12 – 23, 2014

Disney Resorts

If you stay at a Value Resort, you’ll receive the Quick Service Dining plan for FREE. (Note that you can upgrade to the standard or deluxe dining plans by paying the difference in cost per night.)

If you reserve a Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa Resort, you will receive [Read more…]

News! 2014 Disney World Free Dining Offer Details

Great news! Walt Disney World’s Free Dining Offer will be offered for select dates in September, October, November, and December 2014!

As happens most every year, the offer is currently available only to Disney’s Visa Cardholders, BUT… the offer should be available to the general public on May 7, so get your booking details ready to go!

Travel Dates

Free Dining is being offered to guests ARRIVING during the dates listed below. A minimum stay of 3 nights is required and may not be booked for longer than 14 nights.

August 31 – October 3, 2014
October 26 – November 1, 2014
November 9 – 20, 2014
December 12 – 23, 2014

Disney Resorts

If you stay at a Value Resort, you’ll receive the Quick Service Dining plan for FREE. (Note that you can upgrade to the standard or deluxe dining plans by paying the difference in cost per night.)

If you reserve a Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa Resort, you will receive [Read more…]

Disney Dining Tips: The Disney World Restaurant Search Tool!

Have you ever wished that with the push of a button you could figure out the PERFECT dining spots for your next Disney vacation?

Well, guess what? We’ve got you covered with the Disney Food Blog Restaurant Search Tool!

We LURVE Dining at Disney World, and we know that you do, too! But – wow! – with SOOOO many choices of where to eat, how in the World (ha!) do you narrow it down and make a decision?

We have taken 18 important Disney Dining search criteria and created a tool that will give you selections for the perfect Disney dining experience. And once you’ve narrowed down your restaurants, you can check out reviews, menus, and expert tips for each of them! Let’s take a look at how it works…

It’s incredibly easy (and actually pretty fun!) to use this tool.

1. Choose Criteria

You have 18 choices, so you can be as specific or as general as you

[Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Top 5 Disney Dining Plan One-Credit Values for 2014

Now that you’ve booked your 2014 Disney World vacation, it’s time to make your Advance Dining Reservations.

Top5DisneyDiningPlanOneCreditTableServiceValuesfor2014

But which restaurants are worthy of your precious Disney Dining Plan credits?

What’s the DDP? The vacation package add-on called the Disney Dining Plan is a pre-purchased meal plan. Based on the plan you choose, you’ll receive a certain number of credits to be utilized during your Disney stay. (Remember your college meal plan? Yeah; it’s kinda like that!)

Many table-service meals in Disney World cost one credit per person, but are you getting the best value?

If you reeeeeeally want to get your money’s worth, stick to the one-credit restaurants, order the most expensive meal on the menu, and maximize your savings! Let’s get to the DFB guide’s top picks for best value at “one table-service credit” Walt Disney World restaurants.

Remember: this is primarily based on food cost, but we have taken atmosphere and food quality into consideration a bit as well. We don’t want you eating at a bad restaurant, after all. ;-)

Tutto Italia

Offering regional specialties, Tutto Italia is located in Epcot’s Italy pavilion. With dinner entrees costing about $30, and a pricey dessert topping $13, your one meal here is a great use of a table service dining credit!

Braised Meatballs and Shortrib

Braised Meatballs and Shortrib

Kouzzina

Kouzzina features Mediterranean cuisine showcased on a menu created by Celebrity Chef Cat Cora. A dinner at this BoardWalk restaurant can be costly. With a $35 grilled steak entree and $10 desserts (Baklava!!), Kouzzina is a smart choice for your dining credit use!

Baklava Dessert Close-Up

Baklava Dessert at Kouzzina

Teppan Edo

Teppan Edo is a fun Hibachi restaurant in Epcot’s Japan pavilion. Order the $32 Filet Mignon and a dessert at $5-7 to make the most of your table service credit.

Steak and chicken

Steak and chicken at Teppan Edo

Les Chefs de France

Located in Epcot’s France pavilion, Les Chefs de France serves up delicious cuisine. Dinner entrees cost $20-35 with desserts about $9 each. Use your table service credit here for a memorable meal.

Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee at Chefs de France

Rainforest Cafe

While Rainforest Cafe gets mixed reviews, [Read more…]

News! Food Trucks Arrive Disney World’s Downtown Disney in Early November

As we announced earlier, Downtown Disney Orlando will soon debut mobile eateries as the popular Walt Disney World district joins the Food Truck craze!

But now we have a DATE RANGE (yes, this is how it works) to look forward to! In early November, Disney will welcome four new food trucks to Downtown Disney’s West Side (near Cirque de Soleil and House of Blues).

Let’s get to the food…

Superstar Catering truck

“Favorite of the Stars of Disney’s Hollywood Studios,” this truck will feature hearty meatball variations: a spinach and feta beef meatball sandwich; turkey sausage and golden raisin meatballs on polenta; and a lamb meatball flatbread with tzatziki. For the kids (or kids at heart!) — meatball sliders!

Lamb Meatball Flatbread

With a stainless steel exterior accented in teal, tan and orange, this truck will be reminiscent of a 1930s Art Deco diner.

Namaste Café truck

“Tasty Explorations from Disney’s Animal Kingdom,” is the theme at this colorful truck! Designed with an Asian influence, guests will enjoy Sanaa-inspired food. We can’t wait to sample the BUTTER CHICKEN!!!!!!!!!, slow-cooked beef short ribs, and tandoori spiced shrimp. All dishes will be served with [Read more…]