News! Dole Whip-Topped Pineapple Upside Down Cake in Magic Kingdom!

There’s a new pineapple snack in town, and you’re going to want to sit down for this. It’s Pineapple. Upside Down. Cake. With. DOLE WHIP!

Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Dole Whip!!

Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Dole Whip!!

[Read more…]

Review: Dinner at Tusker House in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

There are some fantastic new things to enjoy around Walt Disney World — and especially at Animal Kingdom. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to forget our favorites! So today, we’re heading back to Tusker House.

The buffet restaurant has been around for quite some time now, but I’ve continued to think of it as a hidden gem. Not only does it offer a character dining experience — and now, you can dine with your Disney friends for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — but the menu is also more interesting than most that you’ll find in Disney buffets.

The last time I visited, it was to enjoy that sort of between-breakfast-and-lunch period. (It’s not technically called brunch, but that’s sorta kinda what it is.) This time, we’re taking in an evening meal to see if everything is still as awesome as it always has been.

Atmosphere

You’ll find Tusker House in the village of Harambe. Just head back like you’re going to Kililmanjaro Safaris, and you’ll see it on your left.

Tusker House - Outside View

Tusker House – Outside View

The themeing here is superb, as it is with every other part of Animal Kingdom. The restaurant itself is fashioned as the Safari Orientation Centre, with rooms tumbling into one another. [Read more…]

First Look and Review: Ferrytale Wishes Fireworks Dessert Cruise at Walt Disney World

Set sail on the Seven Seas Lagoon with us today as we take a first look and review a brand new premium offering at Walt Disney World — Ferrytale Wishes, A Fireworks Dessert Cruise.

Ferrytale Wishes Dessert Cruise Logo

The special event is still undergoing testing as Disney works to get all of the bugs out before the event’s official debut on Monday, October 5.

I had the opportunity to experience the cruise for myself last week while I was at Walt Disney World for the kickoff of the 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Of course, I was anxious to check it out ahead of the opening. I know some of you have already booked the experience, so I’ve been excited to share with you a first look. Let’s head to the boat!

Ferrytale Wishes, A Fireworks Dessert Cruise

The Cruise departs from the Transportation and Ticket Center, so I was instructed to park in the Magic Kingdom parking lot.

I checked in at a location near the entrance to the Ferry Boats Dock. Don’t worry; Cast Members are there to help you find your way. :-) As you approach the TTC, just head left as though you plan to board a ferry to Magic Kingdom, and you’ll be in the right place.

Gangway to the Ferry

Gangway to the Ferry

Boarding began at 7:45 PM, and we were scheduled to sail at 8:00 PM promptly. Sailing time will change, of course, as it depends on when Wishes will be scheduled each night. Be sure to pay attention to the information for your particular booking. [Read more…]

Review: Fruit Plate with Honey Yogurt at Flame Tree Barbecue in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Trying to get your recommended daily servings of fruits and veggies while touring the parks?

We’re spotlighting something that can help… with half of that goal, anyway ;)! We’re visiting Flame Tree Barbecue in Disney’s Animal Kingdom for the Fruit Plate with Honey Yogurt.

Flame Tree Barbecue is known for its hearty offerings with a menu focused on barbecue, naturally. Featured items include Ribs & Chicken and Pork Sandwiches. And ever since Trilo-Bites changed its menu, Flame Tree is THE place in Animal Kingdom to grab a Jumbo Turkey Leg. So the Fruit Plate stands out by being unique among the barbecue offerings.

We’ve always liked the Fresh Fruit Salad that you can find at Tamu Tamu Refreshments and Bradley Falls during the warmer months – so much so that we’ve yet to give the Flame Tree Fruit Plate its due. Let’s have a look!

Flame Tree Barbecue sign

Flame Tree Barbecue sign

The menu description says “Seasonal Fruit served with Honey Yogurt.” For my visit, the fruits served happened to match the picture on the menu: honeydew, watermelon, grapes, pineapple, cantaloupe, and orange.

Flame Tree Menu

Flame Tree Menu

While it doesn’t have the same visual impact as the Fresh Fruit Salad, it’s not bad in its own right!

Fruit Plate

Fruit Plate

Fruit Plate

Fruit Plate

Fruit Plate close-up

Fruit Plate close-up

It’s just a [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at Crystal Palace in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Welp, boys and girls — it’s time to head into Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and take in lunch at Crystal Palace! This is a beloved character spot for many Disney fans, and a must-do character experience for lots of you.

Me? I hadn’t been to Crystal Palace in foreva…not since an ill-fated late-night visit a couple of years ago when the food was AW-FUL! Yep, it was the end-of-the-night dregs of the buffet and we were pretty much just grossed out. (Have you ever seen a buffet about 15 minutes before a restaurant is about to close? Not pretty.) We ate very little and left as soon as we could. Sad, since we do love dining with Pooh and friends.

But it was time to revisit the 100 Hundred Acre Wood — after all, we’d had lots of great meals here previously — and I made reservations with some friends for lunch.

We have tons of shots to show you, so let’s get started!

Atmosphere

You’ll find Crystal Palace to the left of Main Street USA’s end, just as you approach Cinderella Castle. The beautiful glass building, inspired by ornate conservatories of the late Victorian Age, is a slice of Disney history as well. The restaurant has been around since opening day in 1971.

Entrance to Restaurant

Entrance to Restaurant

And here’s a tip if you’re looking for an extra-special experience during your Disney vacation: try and book Crystal Palace for an early breakfast. You’ll be one of the first guests into the Park when you do this, and visiting a nearly empty Magic Kingdom is an event to remember.

Once you step inside, you’ll see whitewashed walls that carry the bright, light decor throughout. Artwork depicting inspiration for the architecture as well as photos of lush palms cover the walls.

Artwork and Framed Photos

Artwork and Framed Photos

The soaring atrium above is gorgeous — especially on a sunny day!

Crystal Palace Atrium

Crystal Palace Atrium

After you check in, you’ll wait for your table outside on the shaded veranda. But once you step in, pause a moment to take it all in.

Dining Rooms

Dining Rooms

Tons of windows and glass domes allow for plenty of natural light in the two dining areas.

Dining Room from Another Angle

Dining Room from Another Angle

And really — look up. Because the windows are really stunning. I love the beautiful stained glass detail.

Stained Glass Windows

Stained Glass Windows

The decor puts you in mind of a Victorian conservatory, with its outside-but-inside feel. Lush flowers and what reminds me of patio furniture finish the area.

Evening Light

Afternoon Light

Crystal Palace is, of course, a character dining experience, and you’ve stumbled onto a party!

Center Atrium -- Up Close

Center Atrium — Up Close

In fact, visit here, and you’ll take part in a Friendship Day Celebration with Winnie the Pooh and his friends.

Banner -- Up Close

It’s Friendship Day!

Just check out these gorgeous flower topiaries of the whole gang!

Pooh and His Hunny Pot

Pooh and His Hunny Pot

Eeyore Topiary

Eeyore Topiary

The sweet little figures appear to be made of dried roses, and foreshadow the characters you’ll meet while you dine.

Piglet Topiary

Piglet Topiary

Bouncing Tigger Topiary

Bouncing Tigger Topiary

And beautiful hanging arrangements of tropical flowers complete the classic conservatory feel.

Fresh Flowers

Fresh Flowers

Seating is standard and fairly comfortable. Heavy, padded chairs share the space with booths, but some tables are situated a bit too closely for our comfort.

Seating for Two

Seating for Two

Seating along windows gives you a glimpse of guests waiting to be seated! But beyond them, you’ll also see a beautiful view of [Read more…]

Review: Trail’s End Restaurant at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

It’s been a while since I’ve slept in a camper, cabin, or tent, but that doesn’t stop me from loving Trail’s End Restaurant!

Located at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, the down-home spot is one of my favorites for many reasons — but delicious food and reasonable prices top the list.

While I love lunch and dinner at Trail’s End, I hadn’t visited for breakfast before, so I decided it was time to do just that on a recent trip.

Atmosphere

Getting to Trail’s End is half the adventure. It’s located waaaay at the back of the resort, in the area known as the Settlement.

Now, wait. To be fair, adventure is kind of a generous word. It’s actually kind of a pain to get here. Maybe that’s why I like it so much — it’s rarely too packed!

If you’re coming here via bus from a theme park, or via your own car, you’ll park way up at the front of Fort Wilderness and have to take some internal buses to get back to the Settlement. That’s why I prefer to get to Trail’s End and the other Fort Wilderness restaurants via boat from Magic Kingdom, Wilderness Lodge, or the Contemporary — much less intensive on the travel end, and more enjoyable as well.

On this morning we took the bus, so we had some sight-seeing to do on our way from the bus stop back to Trail’s End… .

Welcome to the Settlement!

It’s not uncommon to see horses at Fort Wilderness, where there are carriage and wagon rides available.

Ft. Wilderness Activities

Pioneer Hall shares space with our destination. I love this place! It looks like a giant log cabin. The surrounding by tall pines and live oaks dripping in Spanish moss really give it the feeling of a pioneer settlement.

Pioneer Hall

Pioneer Hall is home to several popular destinations at Fort Wilderness. You’ll find Mickey’s Backyard BBQ close by. But it’s also where you’ll head for an evening of down home fun at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue!

Pioneer Hall -- Up Close

Just past the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue venue, you’ll find our destination for the morning — Trail’s End table-service restaurant. This location shares [Read more…]

Review: Breakfast at Boma in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Mention that you’re looking for a breakfast restaurant during a stay at Walt Disney World, and you are bound to be met with this piece of advice: “You MUST go to Boma.”

It’s true! This buffet restaurant is among the most favorite options for lovers of Disney food, myself included. We’ve even named it as one of our most favorite Disney brunch destinations!

But even though dinner offers an amazing spread, your Disney friends will tell you that breakfast is the “can’t miss” meal here.

It was a shock to me when I realized that I had never actually reviewed this all-important meal on the blog! Time to remedy that right now!

Atmosphere

Boma is located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. You’ll find it below the lobby on the ground floor, adjacent to other AKL restaurants The Mara and Jiko.

There’s one pretty important distinction that sets Boma apart from other very popular buffets at Disney. Many of the others are primarily character dining experiences. But you won’t find any characters at Boma. That’s an important detail to keep in mind when planning your advance dining reservations.

Boma Background Information

“Boma” is actually an African term for a fence made of sticks that forms a safe enclosure for gathering. Throughout the entrance of the restaurant, you see the stick fence motif captured in different materials.

Here, Imagineers used wrought iron to line the bridged walkway leading into the space.

Entrance to Boma

Beautiful statuary decorates the low wall that separates the buffet from the seating area.

Statuary and Decor

Ceilings are lined with large pieces of [Read more…]

Review: Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club Resort

We are heading to the quaint New England shore today for a breakfast buffet at Cape May Cafe!

The expansive restaurant, located at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, is a favorite among guests for a couple of reasons: 1.) You get to see Minnie, Donald, and Goofy in their BATHING SUITS! SO FUN! (OK, that sounds weird as I read it over, but you know what I mean, right?), 2.) It’s slightly easier to get an advance dining reservation here than at one of the other, more well-known character breakfasts, like Chef Mickey’s or Crystal Palace.

We hadn’t been back to Cape May for breakfast in quite a while, so on a recent trip, we headed over one morning pre-park with AJ’s Mom and AJ’s Dad to see what was new.

Atmosphere

You enjoy the same open, airy feeling at Cape May that you sense throughout the rest of the Beach Club Resort. The stick-style architecture (I totally learned that from Samantha Brown back when she was doing “Great Hotels” on the Travel Channel…remember?) brings to mind Victorian beach house themes.

Entrance

Check in at the podium, and soon you’ll be making your way to one of two dining rooms — a large main room, or a smaller one adjacent to the restaurant’s entrance. I much prefer the large main dining room since it has a lot more to look at and has slightly easier access to the buffet. ;-)

Check In Area

The palette is pastel, and vintage-style beach umbrellas and chairs adorn the space to drive home the seaside feeling. The colorful carpet depicts beach umbrellas, too.

Seating

Seating is comfortable, with a mixture of [Read more…]

Disney Dining Tip: Fruity Snacks in the Disney Parks

Over the past few years, Disney has introduced some great fruity options in the parks. Some super healthy…and some not so much. But even when our selection isn’t necessarily a low-calorie treat, the added fruit at least makes us feel less guilty. ;-)

So for those looking to make their five servings a day, let’s take a look at a few of those sweet treats!

Fresh Fruit at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Fruit Snacks

I love to reach for a piece of fresh fruit, especially on a hot Florida day, and especially for breakfast. And these days you’ll find some really appetizing (as opposed to a few years ago) fresh-cut and whole fruits in each park. (I usually find the best stuff in Disneyland, but Disney World’s selection has gotten better and better.)

Fruit at Hollywood Studios

If you find yourself in between a Dole Whip and Mickey Ice Cream Bar at the Magic Kingdom, practicing some moderation with fruit from Liberty Square Market is a guilt-free option.

Menu Items at Liberty Square Market

One of our favorite fresh fruit menu items is found at the Animal Kingdom’s Bradley Falls and Tamu Tamu Refreshments. Doesn’t this fruit salad (pineapple, mango, grapes, blueberries, kiwi, and lychee) look amazing?!

Lychee Fruit Bowl at Bradley Falls Kiosk

If fresh fruit doesn’t work for your touring style, it’s time to grab the [Read more…]

Review: Fairfax Fare Breakfast at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Editor’s Note: With the opening of Trolley Car Cafe, Fairfax Fare is no longer serving breakfast.

Breakfast time!!! Today we are at Fairfax Fare in Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a quick nosh.

One of my favorite things to do when I’m in Disney World is combine exercise with research, so while I was on a morning walk on the BoardWalk during a recent trip, I headed in to the Studios to scrounge up some breakfast.

Since Fairfax Fare is one of the only quick service locations for a hot breakfast in the Studios — and it’s fairly close to the front of the park — it seemed like a good choice! Let’s see how it goes…

Atmosphere

Fairfax Fare is located in the Sunset Ranch Market area of Hollywood Studios. This super convenient spot is at a crossroads of sorts between Tower of Terror and Rock n Roller Coaster. It’s the perfect place to await your fastpass time!

The counter service location, like all of the Sunset Ranch Market stops, is a tiny walk up counter, and features a small menu.

Fairfax Fare -- Outside

Seating for Fairfax Fare is shared with other Sunset Ranch Market locations, and is made up of outdoor pavilions and tables with umbrellas. I prefer the pavilions, since they’re fitted with fans overhead.

Seating Pavilion for Fairfax Fare

Much of the seating is covered, although the early morning sun does tend to spill in anyway. It’s perfectly fine though for a quick stop.

Eats

We’ve stopped by Fairfax Fare recently for a review of some seriously good gourmet hot dogs. But this time, we were visiting a bit earlier in the day.

If you’d like to sample their breakfast menu though, you’d better get here early. Like most of the park breakfast spots, they only serve the meal until 10:30am! (Yup; I was rushing to get here on time!)

Breakfast Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Among other options, you can choose from [Read more…]