Disney Food for Families: Counter Service Dining with the Adventurous Child

Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster has a very adventurous eater in her family — her daughter, Josie! Here are some great suggestions for kids who want something a bit different than the standard kids’ meal fare!

I’ve written before about my finicky, fearful daughter Louisa who never met a chicken nugget she didn’t like.

As it turns out, her twin sister Josie has a completely opposite dining profile. Josie will try anything, loves exploring new foods, and craves variety to spice up her meals. An endless stream of pizza bores her. If you have an adventurous eater in your life, you’ll want to find options beyond the ubiquitous pizza, pasta, hot dogs, and nuggets.

Josie enjoying the meat of a giant bird

In recent years, Disney has done a somewhat better job of providing a range of healthy and innovative foods on their childrens’ menus. Here I’m going to focus on some of the out-of-the-pizza-box Walt Disney World children’s counter service meal and snack options for those looking to avoid the kid food basics while on the go.

Counter Service Dining with an Adventerous Child at Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom

Columbia Harbor House and Cosmic Ray’s offer mixed greens with chicken for [Read more…]

Disney Food For Families: 11 Tips for Better Disney Character Dining

Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster has some great character meal tips for your fam!

Goofy Poses at Chef Mickey's

I spent a recent weekend reminiscing over old photos, many of which featured family trips to the Disney Parks. While flipping through the albums, one of my girls commented that the photos were, to put it mildly, character meal intensive. So we started counting, going back to my oldest daughter’s first trip to Walt Disney World in May of 1998.

I have photographic evidence of having been to character meals with my family at least 93 times since then. These meals took place at Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and most predominantly at Walt Disney World, including each of the character meals currently available there, plus the now defunct meals at the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Tree Tavern, Animal Kingdom’s Restaurantosaurus and what is now Fulton’s Crab House at Downtown Disney.

Our single highest visit count is at the Magic Kingdom’s Crystal Palace, with 17 separate visits.

Liberty Tree Tavern character meal. Gone but not forgotten.

After all that eating, and eating, and eating, aaaand eating, we’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way that may make your character meal experience even better than it otherwise might be:

1. Decide Why You’re There and Plan Accordingly
While the obvious answer to, “Why are you going to a character meal?” may be, “to eat.” In reality there are a number of reasons why you might find yourself communing with Mickey and a heaping plate of breakfast lasagna. These may include: [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: Little Kid Snacks Throwdown — Disney Style

Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster has done a bit of experimenting this week with a couple of volunteers!

Disney has made admirable strides in recent years in providing healthier food options for kids: fries are no longer the auto-side for meals, fresh fruit is readily available, and non-sugary snacks are often displayed on the same shelf as candy.

Among these non-candy options are offerings called “Tiny Treats,” some branded with the Chip & Dale Snack Company logo and some with the Minnie’s Bake Shop logo.

Visually appealing Tiny Treats, displayed right next to candy

Introducing Tiny Treats

Tiny Treats are single-ish serving, easy to hold containers of the Disney version of preschool snack basics: Cheddar Mickey Crackers (think Pepperidge Farm Goldfish or Annie’s brand bunnies), Oat Cereal (think Cheerios), Arrowroot Cookies (think Gerber and others), and Dried Bananas and Strawberries (think Gerber and others).

When my own children were preschoolers, probably 50% of their calorie intake consisted of Goldfish and Cheerios. (I had three kids in three years. We were in “whatever-it-takes-to-survive” mode. Don’t judge.) Back in those days, touring the Disney parks meant bringing snacks from home and toting along a multitude of [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: The DVC Villa Kitchens, Part 4

Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster is back with the fourth segment in her series about making and enjoying food in the Disney Vacation Club villa kitchens. See post #1 here, post #2 here, and post #3 here!

In the previous installments of the Disney Vacation Club Villa Kitchens series, I discussed the cooking supplies available, the food available for sale at the Villa resorts, and alternate places to buy groceries around WDW. In this last post, I’m going to do a little hypothetical menu planning and try to give you some ideas for meals created using only foods sold at the DVC resort hotels. What can you actually cook using the limited food supplies available at DVC Resorts?

Refrigerated dairy and protein

Breakfast Ideas

There are easy fixes for breakfast, with both light and more substantial options among the obvious [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: It’s a World of [Better] Candy

As we celebrate the USA today, Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster is back with some very good news about the candy sold at Epcot’s America pavilion!

America Pavilion in Epcot

Regular Disney Food Blog readers may remember that a few weeks back I wrote about my family’s epic quest to consume candy in each of Epoct World Showcase’s eleven countries.

Several of the countries sold a bonanza of fabulous treats, making it difficult to choose just one. (I’m talking to you Japan, Italy, and France.) But I bemoaned the fact that there was very little candy in the America pavilion, and what was there was a tired replay of the Disney branded candy available in every other merchandise location on property. I suggested that Disney rev up its offerings by including “American nostalgic or regional specialty candies” or sweets from an American candy company like Hershey or Mars.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I took a spin through Epcot recently, walked into the America pavilion and saw this — an entire wall, plus two double-sided, free-standing display racks, of American nostalgic and regional specialty candies and sweets from Hershey and Mars, which according to super-helpful cast member Chris from Orlando, had been installed just the day before my arrival. It’s like they knew I was coming. SCORE!

Cast member Chris gives the Vanna treatment to some of the new candy

I’m not naive enough to really think that my post had anything to do with this magical transformation. I’m sure the pace of change at Disney merchandising runs much more slowly than that. But just for a minute now, I’m going to [Read more…]

New Disney Cupcake Cookbook, Vinylmation, and More!

Erin Foster, our Disney Food for Families columnist, has a few sweet bits of news about cupcake merchandise in Disney parks and resorts!

Remember those Vinylmation cupcake designs we showed you for the Vinylmation Bakery cupcakes? Well, now we get to show you the finished product — and a bunch of other cupcake craziness happening in Disney World!

Bakery Tinkerbell

Cupcakes are a craze, as we know, and while we love the edible Disney cupcakes, we like the inedible ones almost as much! Here’s a run-down of what’s happening for cupcake collectors in Disney World these days…

Cupcake Vinylmation About To Be Released

Planned to be a limited edition set, Vinylmation Bakery will now be offered as an open window box. Sweetness! ;-) While the box still recognizes it as a limited edition, there will be no production limit set for these cute Vinylmations.

A close up look at the figures and packaging shows the adorable cupcake-y Vinylmations. Yum!

Six Flavors

Packaging

The release date is set for June 3, 2011, at the D-Street stores in California and Florida. Created by Susan Foy, the figures have [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: The DVC Villa Kitchens – Part 3

Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster is back with the third segment in her series about making and enjoying food in the Disney Vacation Club villa kitchens. See post #1 here and post #2 here!

Save Some Dough By Buying or Bringing Groceries

In my previous post, I identified the grocery items that are sold in the Disney Vacation Club resort shops. But what I didn’t tell you was what the convenience of on-site resort grocery shopping will cost and what your alternatives might be.

Other Options for Groceries

In addition to buying groceries at your DVC resort hotel you can:

  • Use a car or taxi to shop at a nearby grocery or discount store. You can find a list of grocery stores near WDW in the Disney Food Blog Guide to Walt Disney World Dining e-Book.
  • Bring non-perishable items with you in a suitcase.
  • Purchase non-perishable grocery items at your local supermarket and mail them to yourself at your WDW resort hotel.
  • Purchase non-perishable grocery items online (via Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com or others) and direct them to be mailed to you at your WDW resort hotel.
  • Use a local [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: It’s a World of Candy

Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster and her daughters toured World Showcase with an eye for candy!

You’ve probably heard of the Drink-Around-The-World activity where you and some strong-stomached companions visit each country at Epcot’s World Showcase and partake of a signature adult beverage in every land. Sounds good to me too, but unfortunately that’s not going to work when your touring partners are a couple of 11-year-old girls.

When my twin daughters, Josie and Louisa, and I were recently faced with an afternoon at Epcot and a two-hour wait for Soarin’, we decided to do what any good Disney foodie would do: eat. Specifically we decided to undertake the G-rated version of country crawl: Candy-Around-The-World.

World Showcase

We set up a few rules for ourselves:

  • We had to buy and sample a candy in each Epcot country. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. :-)
  • The candy had to be as native as possible.
  • When in doubt, get a recommendation from a cast member from the represented country.

And off we went to create an international sugar coma. When we started our trek, we happened to be near [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: The DVC Villa Kitchens, Part 2

Erin Foster, our Disney Food for Families columnist, is back with another useful post about making food when staying in the Disney Vacation Club villas!

In part one of The DVC Villa Kitchens series, I showed you the tools you’ll have to work with if you’re cooking in a Walt Disney World Vacation Club villa kitchen. Here in part two, I’m going to show you what foods you’ll have ready access to cook.

Beach Club one-bedroom villa kitchen and dining area

If you have a car, your own or a rental, you can easily make a stop at a local supermarket to get any of your favorite food items. There are also a number of local Orlando area services that will deliver grocery items to your hotel. Among the most popular of these is Garden Grocer at gardengrocer.com. I’ll get to exploring those options in my next post. For now, I’m going to go over what types of foods you’ll typically find for sale at your WDW resort hotel.

What Groceries Will I Find At My Disney Vacation Club Resort?

The good news for guests wanting to do some bare bones cooking during their vacation is that the resorts that house the villa-style rooms all have a mini convenience store section in their gift shops.

The foods and supplies listed below can be found at [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: The DVC Villa Kitchens, Part 1

Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster begins this DVC Villas Kitchens series with a look at what you’ll find in your villa kitchen!

My family has been a member of the Disney Vacation Club since 2001. Because of this, we often stay in DVC villa-style rooms when visiting Walt Disney World, which we pay for using our DVC points. While villa rooms are most often used by DVC members, anyone may rent them. And one of the best parts about a villa is the inclusion of a kitchenette in studio villas and a full kitchen in one-bedroom and larger villas!

Over the next few posts, I’m going to discuss the villa kitchens. What do they include? What is easily available to cook in the kitchens? Is is possible to save money by cooking in your villa? Will the villa kitchen save you any time?

A statue of Ariel greets guests at the Beach Club Villas

Here are a few more details about DVC Villas: There are villa rooms at seven Walt Disney World resort hotels — Animal Kingdom Lodge, Bay Lake Tower (Contemporary), Beach Club, Boardwalk, Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, and Wilderness Lodge.

  • Villas are available in studio, one bedroom, two bedroom, and three bedroom versions.
  • Studio villas are like regular hotel rooms, with the addition of a small kitchenette area. The kitchenette includes a sink, a dorm-sized refrigerator, a microwave oven, a coffee-maker and a toaster.
  • One, two, and three-bedroom villas are like apartments. They include a the requisite number of bedrooms, often several bathrooms, a washer and dryer, plus a living room area and a full kitchen.

Bay Lake Tower (Contemporary) two-bedroom villa kitchen

The villas are a terrific option for guests with larger families or larger traveling parties, multi-generational families, families where the parents don’t want to sleep in the same room as the children, or for families who want, or need, a kitchen.

The larger space and multiple bathrooms make vacationing with my mirror-loving daughters a breeze — that alone makes the villas worth it for my family. But I must confess that I have a real love/hate relationship with the villa kitchens. Obviously, having a kitchen can be a godsend for guests who need to prepare food for an allergic or special needs family member. But what is the value of the kitchen for the average family? What is the value of the kitchen for the average mom, like me, who finds that one of the best aspects of vacation time is not having to cook?

As a first step in the Villa Kitchen series, I’ll show you what exactly you can expect to find in a Disney Vacation Club Villa kitchen at [Read more…]