Top 5 Disney Dining Plan Quick-Service Values for 2012

It’s time to re-visit our Top 5 Quick-Service 2012 Disney Dining Plan* Values! Last year, our choices were great bargains because they offered good portions and quality food — and they were less attractive when paying out-of-pocket!

Since then, prices and options have changed, so it’s time to re-evaluate for 2012!

Wolfgang Puck Express at Downtown Disney

While shopping at Downtown Disney, use your quick service credit at Wolfgang Puck Express! The Pennette Chicken Alfredo with peas, bacon and parmesan at $15 is very filling (an easy meal to split)!

Pennette Chicken Alfredo

Here are some other smart choices:
Spaghetti & Meatballs with tomato-basil-garlic sauce and fresh herbs $16; Oven Roasted Salmon served with fennel, tomatoes, arugula, roasted potatoes and horseradish cream $18; or the Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf accompanied by mashed potatoes, port wine sauce and crispy onion rings $15.

Quality and quantity make WPE the place at Downtown Disney to get the best value with your DDP credit!

Katsura Grill

We’re assuming that Katsura Grill, which opens TODAY at the Japan Pavilion in Epcot, is on the Dining Plan as a counter-service location. If we’re right, it will be a great value for a counter-service credit. (By the way, since it’s replacing the Yakitori House, we’re guessing that it will be on the Dining Plan; but we don’t know yet for sure!)

On the new menu the Sushi Combos, including the California Roll and the Spicy Tuna Roll, top out at $12.99, as does the Tonosama combo, with comes with teriyaki beef, chicken, and salmon. The Teriyaki Salmon is $11.99, while the [Read more…]

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: The Fab Four of Kid Food — Pizza, Pasta, Hot Dogs and Chicken Nuggets

Disney Food for Families columnist and Disney World Moms Panelist Erin Foster has more great info about kids’ dining in Disney World!

Casey's Corner Hot Dog, Fries, and Fixins

If your family is like mine, then at some point at least one of your children will go through a picky eater phase — where he or she will ONLY eat a certain type of food, texture of food, color of food, or food prepared in a certain way.

Luckily the chefs at Walt Disney World are well acquainted with the picky eater syndrome. They’ve seen it all before and can accommodate most childhood food idiosyncrasies. That’s one of the reasons WDW became such a frequent destination for us; dining out with our fussy daughter was a breeze compared to other vacation spots.

The Fab Four of Kid Food

Some common variations on the picky eater theme are the kids who will only eat pizza, or pasta, hot dogs, or chicken nuggets. While these favorites are, of course, readily available in the parks, they are not all available at [Read more…]

Guest Review: Animal Kingdom’s Flame Tree Barbecue

Guest reviewer Bill Iadonisi is back with another great counter-service review! This time, Bill takes us to a beloved Animal Kingdom eatery — Flame Tree Barbecue. Take it away, Bill!

Hello again Disney Food lovers! As promised, here is the second in the continuing reviews of Disney’s amazing quick-service restaurants. From our last review of the Columbia Harbor House, we trek over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to talk about a personal favorite of mine, the Flame Tree Barbecue restaurant. Located in Discovery Island on the path to Dinoland U.S.A, you will find [Read more…]

Guest Review — Theme Park Throw Down: Counter Service

After long deliberation, Nick T. of Disney & Beyond has ranked the four Walt Disney World Theme Parks based on his interpretation of the quality of their counter service offerings! Every once in a while we like to stir things up on the Disney Food Blog, so we’d love to hear your opinion on the matter — did Nick get it right, or would you change some things around?  Take it away, Nick!

Backlot Express

Just over a month ago, a friend and I, both avid readers of The Disney Food Blog, got into a debate about the best overall counter service options in Walt Disney World’s parks. What started as a fun, simple discussion quickly turned heated, and I started to wonder what the reaction would be if I shared my opinions with the world. Thanks to AJ, now I can. I’d simply like to rank, in my humble opinion, the four Disney World theme parks based on counter service offerings.

For this list, I have taken into account both food and atmosphere. The food part is obvious, but I take atmosphere into account because I feel that is what makes the experience uniquely Disney, and it can actually add to the dining experience. But enough of this chit chat, yak yak, and flim flam. Just refrain from hibernating and enjoy the show. (Some Disney Fudge to whoever is the first to recognize that line.)

ABC Commissary

4. Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Yes, I rank the park formerly known as Disney-MGM Studios as the worst overall in park counter service. Why? Well, to me, both the food selection and the atmosphere of the counter service restaurants in the park are quite [Read more…]

DIY Disney: Disney Recipes for Your Summer Picnic

I’m thrilled to announce the first, official Disney Food Blog column — Chef BigFatPanda’s DIY Disney Recipes! Every month, our resident Chef BigFatPanda will put together his amazing step-by-step, photo-filled posts where he and Chef Mickey show you their adventures in the kitchen cooking up Disney goodies! Today, we launch the column with three great recipes that you can pack up and take on a Disney-inspired picnic (perfect for 4th of July!). Enjoy…

Hello! Chef BigFatPanda here! How are you? Don’t answer cause I can’t hear you, but I’ll assume you’re reading this with peachy vigor. I like that. Peachy Vigor! I’m going to use that from now on.

So, did you hear? I am so excited to get my own column here on the Disney Food Blog. No longer am I a guest, but a cast member (or whatever AJ wishes to call it). Thanks so much to everyone!

I wanted to do something a bit different for this post, so I chose some fairly simple yet overlooked Disney recipes that can truly be incorporated into a delicious summer meal. I am going to make the Barbecue Sauce from the Flame Tree Barbecue in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, grilled Asparagus just as they make it in Disney’s Grand Californian Resort’s Storyteller Café, and Coquina cookies, originally from the Cinnamon Bay Bakery at Disney World’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Add these Disney recipes to a rice, pasta, or potato side and you have a complete and colorful summer meal just in time for Summer Nightastic!

Flame Tree Barbecue Sauce

As usual, the recipe’s instructions will be bolded for easy reference should you wish to print this out and skip my banter.

Ingredients for Flame Tree Barbecue Sauce

You will need:
1 cup Ketchup
¼ cup Rice Wine Vinegar
¼ cup Water
¼ cup Packed Light Brown Sugar [Read more…]

Flame Tree Barbecue: Lunch With a View

Flame Tree Barbecue has long been a favorite counter-service location in the Animal Kingdom Theme Park for Disney World guests.

Flame Tree not only offers incredible value and an interesting atmosphere, it also has one of the best views in Disney World!

Atmosphere
Found in Animal Kingdom Theme Park’s Discovery Island section, right next to the entrance to Dinoland, you’ll find a long, flat, open-design building that usually has several lines of Disney guests sticking out of it and snaking back to the main thoroughfare.

Flame Tree Barbecue Queue Line

Jump into one of those lines and use the time to take in the interesting [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: March 14th, 2010

Epcot Morocco Baklava

Epcot Morocco Baklava

I’m trying out something new this week, guys. Every once in a while, I’m going to use a relevant pic other than my standard “Eat Here” photo into the Weekly Round-Up. Hopefully this’ll be fun. :-) Now, on to the round-up!

To start out, here’s some cool NEWS!!: Have you heard about Chef Cat Cora’s book-signing and cooking demo in Orlando next weekend? Check out the specs here!

Touring Plans has a guest blog by yours truly all about the Monorail Crawl — a fun way to experience the lounges at the Monorail Resorts.

StudiosCentral analyzes prices at Disney’s Hollywood Studios restaurants to determine whether or not the restaurants are a good value cost-wise.

DisneyGeek shares his incredible pics, including several food photos, from Disneyland’s D23 Anniversary Event! Keep scrolling through after the linked page to see more.

The Plain Chicken has developed her very own recipe for the Butterfinger Cupcake from Disney’s Hollywood Studios Starring Rolls Cafe. We’re thrilled that she first heard about the delicious confection right here on our blog!

Imaginerding takes a look at Minnie Mouse’s bookshelves — with a special look at her cookbooks!

Babes in Disneyland has a pic of some Cheshire Cat-tail Candy in Disneyland! I totally missed this post last week, but I’m hoping they’re still there!

EverythingWDW does a Q&A about the newest Disney World dining plan — the Quick Service Dining Plan.

Tasty Chomps is tempting me with photos of the baklava…and other good stuff…from Tangierine Cafe in Epcot’s Morocco.

Watch Me Eat visits Epcot’s Club Cool.

The Disney Parks Blog shares the news that Disney World chefs were in the White House this week cooking for the Greek Prime Minister!

Deb Wills from AllEarsNet tweeted the following pic of Flame Tree Barbecue’s new queue line.

Chip and Co shares a review of breakfast at Epcot’s Akershus Restaurant. This one’s especially good for those of you who have little princesses.

Disney Every Day visits the Main Street Bakery for breakfast. Yum-o cinnamon rolls!

DisUnplugged‘s Culinary Quest family compares and contrasts Disneyland Resort’s Rancho del Zocalo and Cocina Cucamonga. I love the venn diagram at the end!

In The Daily Disney from the Orlando Sentinel, food writer Heather McPherson highlights the recipe for the oh-so-tempting Chocolate Crusted Key-Lime Pie from the Grand Floridian Cafe. If anyone wants to make this and send it to me, feel free.

Disney Food Post Round-Up: March 7th, 2010

Eat hereHappy Sunday, all! Just a quick reminder of a couple of updates before we launch into this week’s round-up:

LaughingPlace has the latest on St. Patrick’s Day menus for WDW’s Portobello, Fulton’s Crab House, and Wolfgang Puck Cafe.

CakeWrecks showcases some amazing Alice in Wonderland themed cakes.

SamLand’s Disney Adventures brings a Disneyland popcorn stand into focus.

StitchKingdom posts an info-packed story with the latest news about the D23 Expo, the WDW Fantasyland Expansion, and more. In it, he mentions the upcoming Be Our Guest Restaurant and also showcases some delicious Disney event dessert photos.

PSCalculator reviews Trail’s End Buffet restaurant in WDW’s Fort Wilderness!

Bakerella has some fun Oscar season recipes inspired by nominated Disney films! (Check out the “Up”cakes and Frog Pops.)

Zannaland recaps her experience at the February Tables in Wonderland “Wave Discovery Dinner” in WDW.

Main St. Gazette shares a creamy grits recipe from Olivia’s at WDW’s Old Key West Resort.

Watch Me Eat visits Epcot’s Lotus Blossom Cafe.

A World View visits three of WDW’s best counter-service spots: Flame Tree Barbecue, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, and Earl of Sandwich.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has a unique profile of the New Orleans chef who was inspirational to the Princess and the Frog story.

WDW Moms Panelists Consider: What Are Some Underrated Disney World Restaurants?

Here’s our third post in the Walt Disney World Moms Panel mini-series! You’ve met some of the moms and heard about their most magical Disney dining moments and their thoughts about the best dining values in Disney World. Today we get to hear what restaurants the moms think might not grab the spotlight as much as they should…

From Mom Erin F.

The Wave Trio of Desserts

The Wave Trio of Desserts

The Wave – really nice stuff and good wine flights. Good tasting desserts, and they have really lovely food.

Another one that I tried – Raglan Road – had really delicious food. And I was very pleasantly surprised by the food on the plate (I had shepherd’s pie). The Strawberry Salad was poppin’ in your mouth delicious. If they can make a basic green salad so tasty, they’ve got something good going on.

From Mom Amber V.

The two places that come to mind are the Grand Floridian Cafe and Maya Grill. I think they both get lost in the shuffle, especially if you aren’t staying at the Grand Floridian or Coronado Springs. When we ate at Maya Grill, we were able to walk up and get a table without an ADR, which was a surprise. We found the menu, service and atmosphere to be really wonderful. The Grand Floridian Cafe is a great choice for a refreshing, light lunch and is also a nice respite from the parks.

From Mom Anna S.

It seems to me that the one restaurant I can ALWAYS get a reservation for is Restaurant Marrakesh at EPCOT, and I love it there. We have had some of the best, most attentive servers of our Disney dining experiences there, and there is never the feeling that you are being rushed so they can turn the tables over. The kids enjoy the music and dancing, and the food is delicious. We eat here at least every other visit.

From Mom Jennifer W.

Flying Fish Cafe! I rarely hear anyone talking about makings ADRs here, and it is one of the best restaurants at WDW! It is a bit on the pricey side but worth every dime. The chef will even come to your table to personally discuss your order if you like. The atmosphere is a calming change from the hustle and bustle of many restaurants and the food is top notch. I highly recommend The Flying Fish to all my friends who are looking for something different at WDW.

From Mom Kara B.

Walt Disney On-Screen at Sci-Fi Dine In

Walt Disney On-Screen at Sci-Fi Dine In

Disney provides a chance to experience something new and exciting around every corner, so often for us a magical Disney experience may be more about the experience rather than the actual food. For example, Sci-Fi is an absolute must see for us every trip, regardless of the constant criticism regarding the food. Stick with hamburgers and milkshakes and all is good (I’ll gladly share that their tofu entree is de-lic-ious!). However for us, it is clearly the atmosphere that makes this restaurant a must-do. In the middle of a hot trip (we visit in June), escaping into the cool “night” air is so relaxing. The kids sit in the front seat; my husband and I sit in the back. We feel like we are on a date because the kids are shockingly silent watching those campy movies. In fact, the entire restaurant is eerily quiet. Again, total relaxation. And of course, we all get those silly drinks with light-up ice cubes and use them at home for a fun souvenir.

From Mom Joanne M.

1. Fulton’s Crab House, Downtown Disney. Awesome view, fantastic food, and great selection. We love going there for lunch before heading to DisneyQuest. It’s not on the Disney Dining Plan, so we’ve never had a problem getting a table.

2. Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian Resort. The food is great, and where else can you simply turn your head and watch Wishes?

3. Kona Cafe – I have to say I’m not sure that this one is underrated, but I was so pleasantly surprised by the dining experience I have to mention it. The service was fabulous and attentive, menu varied, and great food! And the Kona Kone is the coolest dessert on Disney property!

From Mom Heather R.

In the Magic Kingdom I think the Plaza Restaurant is a real hidden gem. The location is quite convenient, and while the menu is somewhat limited, the food is excellent and the portions are quite large. My Chicken Strawberry Salad was not only delicious, but HUGE – easily shared between two people.

At the Fort Wilderness Resort, the Trail’s End Restaurant serves up home cooking style food at a very reasonable price, and since it’s a buffet (and a reasonably priced one at that!) it offers a good bang for your buck.

The Grand Floridian Cafe (guess where?) is also a real hidden gem. I can’t recommend any one particular standout menu item, but I know that every meal I’ve had there has been very good, service was attentive, and I leave intending to visit again. In a way I like it when that happens, because if I eat somewhere and have a particularly fantastic dish, I’m very likely to never try anything else! It’s good to branch out. :)

From Mom Whitney P.

Where do I begin? The Boardwalk Pizza take-out window is one of the best values, with a pepperoni pizza slice at $3.99! Its crust is like no other pizza on property! My indulgence is opening packet after packet of parmesan cheese and topping it off. I like to eat it outside at one of the nearby tables and people-watch. That, with a view of the water, is a great dining experience whether you’re alone or with your family.

If you’re looking for night-life, I recommend Kimono’s at the Swan. I’m a fan of karaoke and can sing with the best of them–from the comfort of my seat! It has the most extensive sushi menu on property, in my opinion, and if no one has the guts to get on the small stage and belt something out, you can sing along with the evening’s hostess.

From Mom Jo Y.

My family love Kona Cafe at the Poly, last trip I had the most delicious steak there, I much preferred it to Le Cellier and recommend it to everyone. I love how they have sample desserts on show as you enter the restaurant and if you time it right you can wander down to the beach afterwards to watch Wishes!

From Mom Kim L.

The Paint Room at Backlot Express

The Paint Room at Backlot Express

My family loves to eat at the Backlot Express at Disney’s Hollywood Studios when we are looking for a counter service meal. There’s always a quiet corner with fascinating props to view.

Also, Olivia’s Cafe at Old Key West serves wonderful dishes in a relaxing atmosphere. This is a hidden gem.

From Mom Kay B.

I think one of the most underrated food spots is Citricos. This is an unbelievable restaurant that is constantly being overshadowed by Victoria and Alberts at the Grand Floridian. It is family friendly yet can still be a romantic spot with a table in the inner room by the windows. The food is excellent from appetizers through desserts and the service has always been outstanding. They also have a nice wine room that can be reserved for a little more intimate dinner opportunity.

Another table service restaurant that is often forgotten and shouldn’t be is Artist Point in the Wilderness Lodge. This is another outstanding location for food, service and ambiance.

In the counter service category I would say that Flametree in the Animal Kingdom park is not remembered and this is the one place we will go and not try to get dining reservations because we would all rather just eat at this counter service location. The barbecue is excellent, served in large portions, and then the area to sit in is quiet and relaxing. We take the path down to the lake and sit under the cool trees to catch a breeze on a hot day.

From Dad Doug I.

I think that Biergarten does not get it’s due as a fun dinner venue. While I can think of a few German classics that should be added to the menu, the buffet combines a lot of great choices, as well as some americanized selections for choosy kids. And the entertainment value is a nice plus. Finally, I love that you can meet people in their long table seating arrangements.

I also like San Angel Inn more than most. Having grown up in Mexico City, I think that some of the selections there are more authentic Mexican than you can typically find in the U.S., but it seems to get panned for cuisine, often by guests looking for more Tex-Mex style choices (which I love too!).

From Mom Jodi G.

I think sometimes the resort restaurants are overlooked, and the restaurants at Animal Kingdom Lodge are top-notch.  Jiko, in particular, is my favorite restaurant on property.

Sleepy Hollow's Homemade Ice Cream Sandwich

Sleepy Hollow's Homemade Ice Cream Sandwich

From Mom Beth C.

The Sleepy Hollow in Magic Kingdom is a great spot to grab a treat. They have homemade chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches. You can watch them bake the cookies right there! Sleepy Hollow is located right over the bridge as you cross into Liberty Square. It is a great place to get a snack before the parade or fireworks or if you are walking to the other attractions in this area.

From Mom Margaret F.

One location that our family really loves and I think misses some of the spotlight is Mama Melrose at Hollywood Studios. While it is often crowded, I think it often does not get the attention it deserves. We love the feel of the restaurant, with the warehouse setting and open kitchen. It is very family friendly and comfortable. The menu slection is top notch. The flatbread choices are delicious, and the bruschetta is superb. The pasta choices have a perfect blend of herbs and spices. My favorite here is the sirloin with grilled asparagus and red wine sauce. Mouth-watering for sure!

Thanks again to all the “moms” who are participating in the interviews!

Don’t forget, if you’d like to share your “most magical Disney Dining moment,” send me an email! I’m collecting stories and will post them in the next post of “Chicken Soup for the Disney Foodie soul!”