Review: New Lunch Menu at Whispering Canyon Cafe in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

For years, the Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney World’s Wilderness Lodge has been known for bottomless milkshakes, all-you-can-eat skillets, and a rowdy atmosphere due to the fun antics of the servers.

And with a pretty drastic menu overhaul last month, I was eager to try some of the new dishes on the now skillet-less lunch menu!

Atmosphere

Whispering Canyon Cafe is located just off of the lobby in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge resort. This is the Wilderness Lodge’s moderately priced restaurant, and it’s definitely got a lot of personality!

Honestly, the fact that the restaurant is open to the lobby has pretty much required a noise ordinance to be placed due to the raucous (though good-natured) behavior that has characterized the restaurant in the past.

Reflecting the Cowboy-and-Indian days of the old West, just about anything goes here. From hobby-horse races around the restaurant to servers interrupting cell phone calls, and pledges to “never, EVER go to Universal Studios,” Whispering Canyon has always been a laugh and a half.

warning sign - click image for larger version

naughty people riding hobby horses

In my own experience at WCC, I’ve been brought a bucket of Diet Coke after asking for too many refills…and after drinking it all, I received my very own “fastpass to the bathroom” from my server! ;-)

However, recently the antics have been toned down a bit. Keep in mind that lunchtime guests seem to have a much quieter experience than breakfast or [Read more…]

A Disney World Foodie Meets Disneyland!

Erin Foster is the Disney Food for Families columnist and a behind-the-scenes guru here at Disney Food Blog! Check out more of her posts here.

I’ve been averaging five or six Walt Disney World visits each year for the past five years. And mostly what I do when I’m at Walt Disney World is eat, no joke.

I am intimately familiar with the ins and out of Disney World dining and can recite the menus of some of my favorite restaurants by heart. Hey, it’s a skill that may come in handy some day. :-)

But I recently found myself in unfamiliar Disney dining territory while on a brief visit to Disneyland in California. I had been there only once before, many (many, many, many) years ago. With just two days on my own, I decided to experience the parks like the newbie that I am, without a plan or preparation. Well, I did ask Disney Food Blog fearless leader AJ for a wee bit of advice, but I’ll get to that later.

So, without further ado, here, in no particular order, are my Walt Disney World foodie veteran observations about the dining situation at Disneyland.

Churros are everywhere.

While of course you can find churros at Walt Disney World, there are usually only a few locations at each park that sell them.

At Disneyland, everywhere I turned there was a churro sales stand or someone walking along nibbling on a churro.

A Barvarian cream churro at Disneyland.

I want an umbrella too!

I am all about the Dole Whip Float at Walt Disney World. But guess what, at Disneyland, they serve this nectar with maraschino cherries and a little paper umbrella.

I feel robbed. I think Disney owes me at least three or four bottles of cherries that I’ve missed out on over the years.

Such a pretty Dole Whip Float at Disneyland.

3-D ice cream menus rock.

Instead of printed menu signage at the ice cream carts, Disneyland has 3-D plastic models of the ice cream at their carts. For some reason this made me want a Mickey bar even more than [Read more…]

Review: Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Resort has long been one of my favorite counter service locations.

The yummo Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Cook’s delicious cupcakes are a great reason to visit!

UPDATE: Dole Whip is no longer being served at Captain Cook’s, is no longer self-serve, and is no longer available 24 hours a day. You’ll now find Dole Whip at the Pineapple Lanai in Disney’s Polynesian Village in addition to Aloha Isle at the Magic Kingdom. You can also find Dole Whip available intermittently at Animal Kingdom’s Tamu Tamu Refreshments, and at Epcot during some special events. On the upside, you can also get a Dole Whip Float at Pineapple Lanai!

But the best part? The 24-hour access to Dole Whips is truly epic. (Note, they DO clean the Dole Whip machine for a few hours in the middle of the night once a week, so Avoid. That. Night.)

On a recent Disney World visit, I headed back to Captain Cook’s to try another fan favorite – the Pork Sandwich. That day I found a few more surprises waiting for me, and I can’t wait to tell you about them…

Atmosphere

Hidden toward the back of the resort on the first floor, it can be difficult to find Captain Cook’s. But forge ahead, my friends. It’s worth it. ;-)

Outside View

The restaurant is small, but well-organized. There are several different seating areas, so if the first one is full, just head to the next one to find a table.

Indoor Seating

Seating is both indoors and outdoors here, and you’ll find plenty of four-top square tables with padded chairs. Huge banana leaves and a woven motif dress the standard restaurant tables up a bit.

Along the wall, you’ll also find mixed seating with a couple of booth options. Windows along one wall let in plenty of light and also give you a view of the outdoor seating area.

Indoor Seating with a View

Outdoor tables and chairs are in close proximity to both the restaurant and the pool. With the big umbrellas and lush landscape, this is a terrific place to sit on those [Read more…]

Review: Rainforest Cafe a la Disney

Welp, I finally got a chance to have another meal at Rainforest Cafe!

These restaurants often get a bad rap food-wise. While this is a really fun place to shop and explore, a lot of people wonder how good the food can actually be in such a themed restaurant. (Disney meals are precious and expensive things, and I hate to waste even one!)

But I hadn’t been to an RC for a while, and it was time to head back into the jungle! Come with me and find out how it was…

Atmosphere

This is a review of the Rainforest Cafe located in Downtown Disney District at Disneyland. However, the Disney Rainforest locations (one in Disneyland, two in Disney World) are actually quite similar.

The menus themselves — and many of the decor elements — are the same, so keep that in mind if you are only planning to visit one of the two Disney World locations.

Outside Sign - Close Up

One main difference: each location has a slightly different exterior. This Disneyland eatery has a sort of temple-in-the-jungle feeling to it.

Rainforest Cafe - Outside

As you walk in, you find yourself in a very large gift shop with all manner of [Read more…]

Review: Citricos at Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort

Come along with us on a great date night destination at Walt Disney World — Citricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa!

If you haven’t had the pleasure, there are so many reasons to give this wonderful restaurant a try. It’s a little easier to get an Advance Dining Reservation here than other, more popular spots in the Magic Kingdom area.

But with food that rivals the hottest spots at Disney World — and a quiet, comfortable atmosphere — this has become a restaurant we return to again and again. Does it continue to wow? We shall see…

Atmosphere

Citricos is tucked back behind Victoria & Albert’s (another review we’ll be treating you to soon!) on the Grand Floridian’s second floor. And with that “hidden” location, Citricos is often the overlooked signature dining spot here in the Magic Kingdom resort area. Diners often gravitate to California Grill or Narcoossee’s over Citricos in favor of spectacular fireworks views.

But don’t underestimate this place. While the fireworks viewing potential is pretty small here, sometimes being the “odd man out” can make a restaurant even more compelling. Citricos’ strengths come in the form of warmth, elegance, and a very quiet, comfortable atmosphere. I keep saying “comfortable” over and over again, and I’m pretty sure it’s because these dining chairs are some of the best on property! No kidding!

Seating Area

Warm light, sunny colors, and copper details make this an inviting space. (And did I mention the chairs? They’re comfortable.) A full bank of floor-to-ceiling windows lets in plenty of natural light during daytime hours.

Seating Area Near Windows

I like the whimsical, colorful glass touches on the tables. The candle holder and bread plates really add a pop of color to the formal place settings.

Table Setting

It’s always fun to watch the action in the open kitchen. The setting is beautiful, and the staff is poised and professional as they go about dinner service. (Don’t forget to take a peek as you walk to your table to see what items you might want to try!)

Exhibition Kitchen and Expediting Station

Off to the side of the restaurant — just next to the kitchen — is the Chef’s Domain. I’ve had the pleasure of eating in this private dining room recently for a good friend’s birthday dinner, and it’s very nice. You can order from a specialized menu or stick with the regular offerings. For events ranging from a private dinner party to a more elaborate affair, this is a great spot. This must be booked well ahead of time, and there’s a food and beverage minimum cost.

And as a bonus, you can get a really good view of the pastry specialists working at their craft – yum!

Pastry Chef Preparing Desserts

Now, back to our regular old dining room experience! Just walking to our table was enough to excite us about the meal! We were ready to get started.

Eats

The menu at Citricos focuses on [Read more…]

The Most Expensive Meals in the “World”

On the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, we field several questions every day from guests looking for ways to economize on their Disney food budget. These are meaningful and important questions, and we’re happy to help.

But every once in a while I find myself wishing that someone would send in a question like, “My rich uncle has died and left me a gazillion dollars. What’s the most expensive meal I can buy at Walt Disney World?” (Or maybe I’m just wishing that I had rich uncle in poor health :-).)

V&A's caviar. Yummy (and expensive).

The quick answer to the expensive meal question is Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian. This posh-beyond-posh restaurant will set you back at least $125 in the main dining room, or at least $200 in the even-more-posh-beyond-posh Queen Victoria Room or Chef’s Table.

And that’s not including tax, tip, booze, and supplementary extra caviar. I’m sure Uncle Moneybags would approve.

Disney World’s Priciest Meals

But I found myself wondering if there were any “regular” restaurant meals that would inflict nearly this much damage to my shiny red Disney Visa. I decided to figure out the most expensive non-V&A’s meal you could find at Walt Disney World (not counting special event or private event meals).

And as an added bonus, I realized that this would be a good tool for a guest on the Disney Dining Plan who was REEEEALLY looking to get his money’s worth.

So in order to compare apples to apples, or more accurately steak to steak, I decided to construct the most expensive standard three course meal at each Disney World signature restaurant: one appetizer/starter course, one single-serving entree, and one dessert.

Flying Fish, Boardwalk (DDP = Yes)

  • Chardonnay-steamed Mussels, $18
  • Black Angus New York Strip Steak, $42
  • Trio of Concession Sweets, $9

TOTAL: $69

Bistro de Paris, Epcot (DDP = Yes)

DFB Podcast Episode 4 Now Available: Best Disney Restaurants for Atmosphere

Hey all! Thanks again for your fantastic reviews and comments about our new DFB Podcast!

Just wanted to drop a line this afternoon to let you know that the fourth episode of our DFB Podcast is now posted and ready for downloading!

In this episode we cover the latest Disney Food News, discuss some Disney restaurants with exceptional atmosphere and themeing, answer a few reader questions, and reveal the answer to our controversial Episode 3 trivia question (as well as give you a brand new trivia question)!

Click here to go to the Podcast page for Episode 4. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSS or on iTunes!

Take a listen and let us know [Read more…]

What’s Your Ideal “Disney Dining Plan”?

So, yesterday there’s a bit of a to-do about the Disney Dining Plan. Apparently there’s a typo in Disney’s official PDF describing the Standard Disney Dining Plan, indicating that an appetizer is available with all table-service meals.

Incorrect Info in DDP PDF

Based on calls to Disney Dining (speaking to supervisors and managers), Erin heard that this is, indeed, just a typo and not a change in policy. But if it WAS true, that’d be awesome!

And this got me thinking… what if we could design our very own Disney Dining Plan based on the way we and our families eat in Disney World!?

What Would YOUR Ideal Disney Dining Plan Look Like?

So what if they introduced a “Magic Your Way Dining Plan,” where guests could build their own individualized plan off of a base plan? Let’s dream a little, shall we?

Snack-tastic

Customize your counter service : table service : snack ratio!
One thing that we keep hearing: the Standard Dining Plan is too little, the Deluxe Dining Plan is too much (and yup, we know…it TOTALLY works just fine for some folks.) So, what if you could change things up a bit?

Not a big fan of sit-down breakfast? You could add more counter service meals or snacks in to make for a light first meal o’ the day. What if your little ones have no interest in sitting still for table service? Not a problem! Which brings us to another pie in the sky option…

Different people in your party could have different dining plans!
Maybe your 3-9 year old eats like a linebacker and doesn’t order off of the children’s menu. Or maybe he or she eats like a bird, and you’d rather choose a different level for him or her. Or maybe you have a [Read more…]

Disney Food For Families: Teachable Moments at Disney Restaurants

Learn from the Chefs at Victoria & Albert's Chef's Table

My 15-year-old daughter was recently invited by a classmate’s family to a super swanky dinner event at a super-duper swanky restaurant in New York City.

When she was telling me about it the next day there was a lot of “who wore what” and “what was on the menu” discussion. And then she said this to me, “Thanks for taking us to Victoria & Albert’s. I knew what to expect at the dinner last night because we had been to V&A’s.”

After I got over the shock of such an overt expression of gratitude and politesse from a teenager, I allowed myself a brief moment of parental pride. My plan to use Disney restaurants as a manners training ground had worked!

Using Disney Restaurants as Manners Boot Camp

I understand that using Victoria & Albert’s as etiquette boot camp is a bit over-the-top, but the concept could be applied to any signature restaurant at Walt Disney World. Before I get going, let me say that while of course you can (and should) teach manners at restaurants in your home town and at your own dinner table, the Disney signature restaurants are an ideal learning environment for adult behavior.

The Disney signature restaurants have all the elements of posh and polite, PLUS all the elements of easy-going and family-friendly. The restaurants put you in a position to succeed, with no fear or threat of derision or embarrassment if you don’t. The Disney signature venues are the perfect stepping stone on the path to civilized behavior.

Here are some things your children can learn and practice at a signature venue: [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: Tips for Disney Dining with Young Children

In my mind, a vacation isn’t a vacation if you’re doing the same old chores you do at home, but at a different locale. I spend enough time packing lunches and cooking dinners all year long; I want a break from this when travel. That means I want to eat in restaurants when I’m on the road.

Tigger Meets a New Friend at Crystal Palace

This mindset was one of the factors that made Walt Disney World such a wonderful destination for my family when my daughters were small. There are dozens upon dozens of restaurants to choose from and they’re ALL kid friendly (with the one tiny exception of Victoria & Albert’s).

When I figured out that I could have gourmet food and wine while my toddlers were gleefully welcomed with high chairs, plain pasta, and coloring pages, I was hooked.

But while there are abundant dining options at Disney World, there are some types venues that work slightly better than others for families with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. There are also some tips and tricks that can make dining with small fries even happier in this happiest of places.

Preparation Is Everything

Before you arrive at Walt Disney World, there are several steps you can take to make your on-site dining run more smoothly: [Read more…]