Guest Review: Disneyland’s Fantasmic! Premium Viewing Dessert Package

Heather Sievers, a Disneyland food expert, Mom, and inventor of Time Out Spots, is back with another great Disneyland review! Today she’s sharing her experience at the Fantasmic! Premium Viewing Dessert Event! Take it away, Heather!

Disneyland's Fantasmic Dragon

As an annual pass holder for over 15 years, it’s a little embarrassing to say that I had never seen the whole Fantasmic show, until now!

The crowd has always turned me off; they send out the cast members waving their light sticks in their yellow Fantasmic uniforms way before the show starts and the sea of people makes it impossible to get a good standing position unless you’re willing to plant yourself and stake a claim a few hours before the show starts. There are one-way walk ways, people telling you where to walk and where not to walk, the whole scene is pretty wild. Not interested in the chaos? Me neither.

So, as a special treat, I bought my family Fantasmic premium viewing tickets and it was amazing! We knew that the tickets came with great seats and dessert, but we had no idea how elaborate the [Read more…]

Rose and Crown Review

I have a love/hate relationship with Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room, and I’m currently in love. Blissful, British-y love.

This tidy little pub and dining room set on prime World Showcase Lagoon real estate really does approximate a pub you’d find in the UK today. Although I’m not sure they have pub quizzes…which they should have. Does anyone know if the Rose and Crown has pub quizzes?

View from Pub into Dining Room

The site is split between the pub, which sits on the street-side of the building, and the dining room, which sits on the lagoon side of the building. The two have separate entrances; to head into the pub, use one of the front doors on the street-side of the building. To check-in for a [Read more…]

2009 Candlelight Processional Dinner Packages

Candlelight Processional (copyright Disney)

Candlelight Processional (copyright Disney)

Please Note: According to MousePlanet, Disneyland’s Candlelight Spectacular will be a hard ticket event for D23 Charter Members only, with an additional price tag of $275. The following information is rumored for Disney World ONLY.

Stitch Kingdom is reporting that this year’s Candlelight Processional Dinner Package at Disney World includes access to a reserved area to watch Illuminations: Reflections of Earth! This added benefit might just make it that much more worth it to book a Dinner Package!

The site also lists all of the specifics regarding the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package, including costs and times for the different tiers of restaurants:
Tier I: Biergarten and Garden Grill
Tier II: Nine Dragons, Restaurant Marrakesh, Rose and Crown, and San Angel Inn
Tier III: Chefs De France, Coral Reef, Le Cellier, Teppen Edo, Tokyo Dining, Tutto Italia

Word on the street (e.g. the message boards) is that booking this year will be on the regular 90-day schedule, and that Processional Dinner Packages will not be available via the online booking system.

As of right now, the Candlelight Processional will be offered November 27 – December 30, 2009, at 5:00, 6:45, and 8:15 pm.

Best Disney World Restaurants for Fireworks Viewing: Part II

Love the magnificent nighttime display of fireworks and lasers at Epcot during Illuminations? Here’s your guide to the best restaurants from which to watch Illuminations!

World Showcase

World Showcase

This is the second in our series of Best Disney World Restaurants for Fireworks Viewing! Today, we’ll discuss the restaurants with the best views for Illuminations fireworks viewing. (The previous blog post, Part I, has information about Happily Ever After fireworks viewing.)

Illuminations, Reflections of Earth, is shown at Epcot at 9:00PM every night, Saturday-Thursday. Friday nights vary between 9:00PM and 8:00PM depending on Epcot’s schedule.

Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room, patio table
Rose and Crown in Epcot’s United Kingdom pavilion is the quintessential dining and viewing spot for Illuminations. If you’re lucky enough to get one of the coveted tables out on the covered patio, Rose and Crown’s view of Illuminations will offer you one of best experiences in Walt Disney World. There’s simply nothing like it.

Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room

Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room

That said, the fierce competition for these tables has made me forego even making a reservation for dinner at Rose and Crown over the past few visits to Disney World. While Rose and Crown cannot guarantee their ability to grant requests for patio tables, hopefuls begin crowding the podium before 7:00PM each night, willing to wait as long as it takes. The line of patrons waiting to check in can stretch all the way to Tudor Lane. As a result, Rose and Crown has instituted a policy (in my experience) that those checking in at the podium may wait only one hour for a table request; after an hour, they must take the table offered, or choose not to dine at Rose and Crown.

Patio View

Patio View

How can you improve your chances? Visit Disney World during a slow season (e.g. Winter or early Fall), book your reservation for around 7:30-7:45pm (it’s simply not fair to the servers to book earlier; unless, of course, you’re willing to pay three times the tip!), and tell the cast members when you check in that you’re willing to wait the hour for a fireworks-view, patio table.

Back Patio

Back Patio

Note that the Rose and Crown patio stretches around the Rose and Crown, meaning you might be seated at the side of the restaurant. You can still see the fireworks here, but the view will not be as good as from the back patio, directly next to the lagoon. You can specify that you’re requesting a back-patio, fireworks-view table, but patio is patio…

Side Patio

Side Patio

Rose and Crown is a casual restaurant; park-wear is acceptable. No reason to dress up. By the way, the potato and leek soup is to die for!

La Hacienda de San Angel
One of the restaurants in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion, La Hacienda de San Angel, offers — for the first time in Epcot history — an Illuminations view rivaling that at Rose & Crown! While many of the tables offer excellent views (the windows are expansive), those that are right up against the windows will be highly prized.

View from Our La Hacienda de San Angel Window Table

One of the Main Dining Rooms at La Hacienda

Monsieur Paul
This high-end restaurant located on the second floor of the building housing Les Chefs de France in Epcot’s France pavilion has excellent Illuminations viewing. Again, you’ll want to arrive early and request a window table, but a steep price and nearly hidden entrance (the entrance to Monsieur Paul is hidden around the back of the Le Chefs de France building) mean that competition for seating is limited compared to Rose and Crown.

Fireworks from Bistro de Paris Window

The dining here is top-notch, but the view from the second story windows can’t be beat. Dress up for this one, and make it a celebration.

Cantina de San Angel
The Mexico pavilion’s counter service dining option has been touted by some, panned by others, but everyone agrees that it’s a good option for watching Illuminations…assuming you can commandeer a table and stand your ground!

Cantina de San Angel

Because the tables are lined up along the World Showcase Lagoon, patrons have complained about kiddos squeezing themselves between tables and fence to get a better view. Also, folks who might not have as much need for personal space as you do may invite themselves to infringe upon yours by “sharing” your table.

This spot might be more hassle than it’s worth, but it’s an inexpensive way to get one of the best views in the park. And the food’s tasty, too!

Tokyo Dining
Tokyo Dining, in Epcot’s Japan pavilion specializes in sushi and tempura, and the restaurant shares the second floor of the Mitsukoshi Department Store building with Japan’s other table-service restaurant, Teppan Edo.

Tokyo Dining

This might be your best bet for getting an advanced dining reservation fewer than 90 days out, as many folks don’t yet know about Tokyo Dining, aren’t sure where it is, or simply don’t want to try the food. Luckily, this means that the floor-to-ceiling window views are up for grabs!

Dining Room

Dining Room

As with the other restaurants, make a reservation for an hour or so before Illuminations and arrive early. Request a window table (tell them you’ll wait if necessary). Once seated, enjoy your meal leisurely until the show begins.

View of World Showcase Lagoon

View of World Showcase Lagoon

Note that there is an outdoor, public walkway along the windows at Tokyo Dining. If people notice it’s there, they may crowd it before the show. You’ll still be able to see the fireworks, but this could possibly block the view a bit.

Outdoor Walkway

Outdoor Walkway

Tokyo Dining is a more casual restaurant; park-wear is acceptable.

Other Potential Viewing Spots With Dining
While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend either of these spots for Illuminations viewing, Tangierine Cafe in Morocco and Liberty Inn at the American Adventure might offer a decent place to sit to see the higher-up fireworks. At Tangierine Cafe, even if you’re sitting outside (the windows are too opaque to see from the inside), the crowds will likely mar your view of the action on the water. At Liberty Inn, the American Gardens Theater tends to block out the lagoon view. But both offer spots to sit, take a load off, and nosh a bit while you listen to the music and enjoy at least some of the show.

If you have other ideas and options, be sure to let me know in the comments section below!

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

Best Disney World Restaurants for Fireworks Viewing: Part I

One of the most enjoyable ways to spend an evening is with dinner at a great restaurant followed by a beautiful Disney fireworks display. The best way to spend an enjoyable evening is to have the great dinner DURING the fireworks display!

There are several Disney restaurants from which you can see either Magic Kingdom’s Happily Ever After or Epcot’s Illuminations. Here in Part I of our “Restaurants for Fireworks Viewing” series, we’ll look at restaurants from which you can see Happily Ever After.

Happily Ever After is the Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks display. It usually takes place at 9:00PM, but it can be earlier or later depending on time of year and the MK’s schedule of special events. The Happily Ever After soundtrack is piped into the restaurants, so hearing the accompaniment to the fireworks will not be a problem.

Best Restaurants From Which to View Happily Ever After Fireworks

‘Ohana, one of the two table-service restaurants at the Polynesian Village Resort, has arguably the best view of Happily Ever After from any restaurant. With a wall of windows facing the castle, directly across Seven Seas Lagoon from the Polynesian, the view of Happily Ever After is head-on — just as you’d see it on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom (only farther away).

'Ohana Sign

See that blue spot in the middle? That's the Castle from our 'Ohana table.

See that blue spot in the middle? That’s the Castle from our ‘Ohana table.

The second picture isn’t the best — the castle looks a million miles away — but trust me that it’s a great show from ‘Ohana. Definitely worth booking. And speaking of booking, you’ll want to book a reservation about 30-45 minutes prior to the scheduled time for Happily Ever After. When you arrive at the podium, request a “Fireworks view” table. They cannot guarantee it, but they’ll do their best. If you happen to be seated in one of the few tables from which you can’t see the fireworks, you’re free to move during the show to stand in an area of the restaurant offering a better view.

Also, note that if you don’t get a reservation for around fireworks viewing time, the Polynesian Village Beach is another great spot to view Happily Ever After.

‘Ohana is a casual dining establishment; standard park-wear is acceptable here.

Narcoossee’s, in the Grand Floridian Resort, sits over to the left-hand side of the Magic Kingdom. Several window tables offer a great view of the Happily Ever After fireworks show.

View of Castle From Narcoossee's

View of Castle From Narcoossee’s

Narcoossee’s also has an outdoor viewing area along the railing outside of the restaurant. This will offer a great view if you’ve not yet been seated at your table. Again, book a reservation about 30-45 minutes prior to the scheduled start time for Happily Ever After.

Narcoossee’s is a bit fancier than ‘Ohana; you might want to dress up a bit.

California Grill
California Grill, on the Contemporary Resort’s 15th floor, is often thought of as the quintessential Happily Ever After viewing spot. The restaurant offers its outdoor viewing deck in addition to the views from the wall of windows in the restaurant.

California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort

California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

View of Castle from our California Grill Table

View of Castle from our California Grill Table

That said, California Grill isn’t my favorite location for Happily Ever After viewing, as the vantage point is strongly to the right of the castle. As a result, many of the fireworks launched from a mile or so behind the castle are skewed and don’t appear as they would when watching the show from directly in front. However, California Grill definitely has my vote for best food of the three!

Note that if you can’t book a reservation around fireworks time (these fill up fast) but get a reservation at some other time that evening, you are welcome to return to the 15th floor observation deck to view the fireworks at their scheduled time. Also, James comments below that the bar at California Grill has non-reservation seating, so you might get lucky with a seat at the bar if you hit the Contemporary at the right time. (This seating is first-come, first-served.)

California Grill is another Disney signature dining location, so it’s pricey…and dressy.


While these three are clearly the front-runners in dining reservations, you can also see glimpses of Happily Ever After from Magic Kingdom’s Plaza Restaurant, Crystal Palace, Casey’s Corner, and Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station.

Interesting “views” of Wishes can be had from Cinderella’s Royal Table in Cinderella Castle and Pinnochio’s Village Haus in Fantasyland. While the fireworks are exploding above your head (not necessarily in your view, of course), you can see the flares being released from the tops of Magic Kingdom buildings around you. You won’t be able to truly experience Happily Ever After, but it’s a unique view for anyone who has an interest in pyrotechnics, engineering, or fireworks in general.

Restaurants in the Magic Kingdom from which you can see very little — if any — of the Happily Ever After Fireworks display are: Liberty Tree Tavern, Tony’s Town Square, Columbia Harbour House, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, Tortuga Tavern, and Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Cafe.

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

Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party Photos!

THANK YOU to Zapperz at My Disney Mania for allowing me to use his stunning Wishes Dessert Party photos from this weekend. Stop by his blog and see more of his photos from his trip (including a few from the Museum of Pintiquities)!

The Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party is currently running from June 23 through August 28. (9/18 Update: The Wishes Dessert Party has been extended through January 2nd, 2010!) It includes exclusive viewing for Wishes fireworks and a self-service dessert buffet. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 407-WDW-DINE.

You can read more about the event on our previous Wishes Dessert Party blog post.

Tomorrowland Terrace--Location of the Dessert Party

Tomorrowland Terrace--Location of the Dessert Party











Castle from Party Vantage Point

Castle from Party Vantage Point

SpectroMagic from Party Vantage Point

SpectroMagic from Party Vantage Point

Wishes from Party Vantage Point

Wishes from Party Vantage Point

Wishes from the Party Vantage Point

Wishes from the Party Vantage Point

Magic Kingdom Wishes Dessert Party Announced

A new dessert party for fireworks viewing!

9/18 Update: The Wishes Dessert Party has been extended through the end of the year 2009! Pricing is slightly higher, at ~$24 for adults and ~$14 for children.
“From June 23 through August 28 a new nightly celebration at the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station will include exclusive viewing for Wishes fireworks and a self-service dessert buffet featuring a wide range of sweets and beverages.

Reservations are required and can be made by calling 407-WDW-DINE. The price is $17.99 for adults and $9.99 for children ages 3-9.”

Here are some great photos from one of the first dessert parties in June (thanks to MyDisneyMania).

The party begins an hour before Wishes, and reservations are limited to only 35 people per night! (thanks to @GajitMan for that info).

According to WDW-DINE, dining plan is not accepted for this party, and there are no Tables in Wonderland or Annual Passholder discounts noted.

Update from some readers who’ve booked:

  • Be sure the names match on your credit card and the resort/dining reservations.
  • Party is selling out quickly. Entire weeks are already sold out. Do call soon to get your spot!

According to SRSounds, the party will go on rain or shine (as it’s under cover). So, even if Wishes is cancelled, you still get dessert!

Thanks to @xxliz28xx over on Twitter for the news!