News: New Dining Plan Options and Chef Hunnel Named James Beard Semi-Finalist

A couple of pieces of fun food news for you today!

Pollo Campero, Fresh-A-Peel and BabyCakes NYC Now On Disney Dining Plan
These Downtown Disney restaurants share neighborhood space and all have been added to the Disney Dining Plan. The new bakery on the block, BabyCakes NYC, is offering single-serve items as a Disney Dining Plan snack choice. Sick of popcorn? Then, BabyCakes NYC is your new best friend! (We LURVE the frosting-filled cookie sandwiches!)

Babycakes Cookie Sandwich

And here’s another fantastic option – if you purchase a Quick Service meal with your [Read more…]

Grand Floridian Resort Gingerbread House

I spent a whirlwind hour or so at the Grand Floridian’s gorgeous Gingerbread House this weekend, and I can’t wait to share the highlights with you!

Grand Floridian 2010 Gingerbread House

Free Gingerbread Decorating Demonstration
Free stuff alert! At Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort you can attend a free gingerbread house decorating demonstration Monday through Saturday at 1:00pm! Just head over to the giant gingerbread house at 1 o’clock, and you’ll encounter one of the nicest pastry chefs I’ve ever met directing folks on how to make gingerbread houses similar to those sold at Disney World during the holiday season.

I learned some great techniques about how to keep your gingerbread house roof from caving in, how to put icicles on the house so that they don’t break off, and even how to keep ants from invading your house!

All Around the House
After the presentation, I scoped out the decorations on this year’s massive [Read more…]

Disney Food Round-Up: January 17, 2010

Eat hereIt’s been QUITE a Disney Food week, wouldn’t you say? Here are some top round-up links from our little blog, followed by the best from the rest of the web. Bon Appetite…

DISNEY FOOD BLOG ROUND-UP — Just a reminder of our favorite news items covered this week here on Disney Food Blog:

THE BEST FROM THE REST OF THE WEB: NEWS

WDWMagic reports that WDW’s Sunshine Tree Terrace will be closed for refurb from January 17th through February 12th of this year.

BizJournals has some more updated info on the Cantina de San Angel refurb in Epcot.

The Disney Blog has news of some Valentine’s Day Dining Options in Disney World.

DLP.info reports that Disneyland Paris’ California Grill restaurant will be a buffet from January 10th through February 4th, 2010, due to refurb at the restaurant next door.

StitchKingdom has exclusive pics of Disney World’s new 3D Mickey Ears, including two for the foodies representing a Mickey Bar and a Popcorn container.

THE BEST FROM THE REST OF THE WEB: STORIES

Daveland went to Disney World and got himself some amazing pics. In his trip report photo blogs, you’ll see incredible shots of Victoria and Albert’s (trip report Part I), Liberty Tree Tavern (plus the characters!) (trip report Part II), and Hoop Dee Doo Revue (trip report Part III).

WDWforGrownups found a fun photo of a Mickey-shaped hamburger bun from DLRP.

The Disney Chick cooked up a couple of dishes for your recipe books: Mango Mousse from the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, and Shrimp and Proscuitto Penne Pasta from the Grand Floridian.

Imaginerding has the third book update from Restaurantosaurus in Animal Kingdom’s Dinoland (really fun posts, in case you haven’t made it over there yet…).

Scroll down this CakeWrecks post to see an awesome Disney Cast Member wedding cake — the CMs’ Miis are wearing Mickey hats! (Don’t worry; it’ll make sense when you see it.)

Meet the World has this historical essay post on Disneyland’s Lunching Pad.

Disney History Institute tells a fascinating story about the Christmas packages Walt Disney sent to the hundreds of children on his list and includes a photo of what went into the Christmas boxes in 1945. Trust me, it’s about food; and if you’re a Donald Duck fan, you’ll need to read this one.

StudiosCentral visits 50’s Prime Time Cafe and comments on location, decor, and why it “fits” at DHS.

DisneyGeek has some pics from his D23 Magic and Merriment trip, including some great shots of the WDW Diamond Horseshoe (keep going through the pages…this is only the beginning) and a very detailed set of pics from his tour of the Cinderella Castle Suite. The index page for the photo set is here. (I know the Castle Suite isn’t about food…but it IS very cool, so you’ll have to forgive me for mentioning it…).

The Angel Forever has some fantastic food photos over on her blog this week!

DISUnplugged has two great stories: one about a family planning to eat their way around Disneyland this year, and another highlighting photos from Friday’s Tables in Wonderland Great Movie Ride dinner (sadly, the latter doesn’t have any food photos, but the descriptions and scene shot photos are awesome).

Campfires and S’mores? Who knew?

That’s right. What started with an innocent campfire sing-a-long at Fort Wilderness has turned into one of the most-loved (and most unknown) activities for Disney World Resort Hotel guests — campfires, movies on the beach, and…s’mores!

Yacht and Beach Club Resorts Campfire and Smores

Yacht and Beach Club Resorts Campfire and Smores

In addition to the original Chip & Dale campfire sing-a-long and movie at Fort Wilderness, free (yep — I said it) “movies on the beach” can be found at several resorts, including the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, the Contemporary Resort, the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Saratoga Springs Resort, and All Star Music.

Movie on the Beach at Yacht and Beach Club Resorts

Movie on the Beach at Yacht and Beach Club Resorts

The best part, in my humble opinion, is that some of these include campfires! And where there are campfires, there are s’mores! You can either bring your own s’mores fixin’s or purchase a s’mores kit (around $5) at nearby refreshment stands.

Movies are shown at varying times (usually beginning between 7-9pm EST); check with the front desk of each hotel for an activities sheet, which will give dates and times of movie nights, and a listing of which movies will be showing.

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 Wishes 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 Wishes.

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

BEST RESTAURANTS FROM WHICH TO VIEW WISHES

‘Ohana
‘Ohana, one of the two table-service restaurants at the Polynesian Resort, has arguably the best view of Wishes from any restaurant. With a wall of windows facing the castle, directly across Seven Seas Lagoon from the Polynesian, the view of Wishes 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 Wishes. 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 Beach is another great spot to view Wishes.

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

Narcoossee’s
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 Wishes 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 Wishes.

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 Wishes viewing spot. The restaurant offers its outdoor viewing deck in addition to the views from the wall of windows in the restaurant.

California Grill Sign

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 Wishes 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.

OTHER OPTIONS FOR RESTAURANT WISHES VIEWING

While these three are clearly the front-runners in dining reservations, you can also see glimpses of Wishes 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 Wishes, 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 Wishes Fireworks display are: Liberty Tree Tavern, Tony’s Town Square, Columbia Harbour House, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, El Pirata y El Perico, Pecos Bill’s Cafe.

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