What’s New Around Walt Disney World: May 20th, 2015

Sure, we may have said “So long” to the Flower and Garden Festival for this year, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to look forward to at Walt Disney World! Springs moves to summer as Disney World gears up for the busy vacation season, otherwise known as the “Coolest Summer Ever”!

©Disney

©Disney

And since it’s a very special time of year for Star Wars fans in particular, why don’t we start our ‘round the World tour at Hollywood Studios to see What’s New!

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Star Wars Weekends kicked off on May 15th!

Star Wars Weekends 2015

Star Wars Weekends 2015

The excitement! The pageantry!  The CUPCAKES! The Jabba the Hutt Cupcake has joined the Darth Vader and Yoda Cupcakes this year.

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

It can be found at counter service locations such as Starring Rolls, Backlot Express, The Trolley Car Cafe, and Tusken Fridge Raiders — the premiere Star Wars snack stop, located inside Darth’s Mall.

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

But cupcakes aren’t all that’s in store…

Star Wars snacks for Star Wars Weekends

Star Wars snacks for Star Wars Weekends

Like last year, several temporary pop-up bars can be found all over the park for the weekend events.

Star Wars Weekends Pop-up Bar

Star Wars Weekends Pop-up Bar

However, they feature all-new drinks this year. Each bar serves two out of of four drinks: The Mustafar and The Tatooine, or The Endor and The Alderaan.

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

We’ll be taking a closer look at those beverages soon, but once again this year, it’s ALL about the souvenir glow cubes: drinks come with either a Millennium Falcon glow cube or your very own mini Death Star.

Millennium Falcon Glow Cube

Millennium Falcon Glow Cube

The Jedi Mickey Character Dinner at Hollywood and Vine and Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast returned to Hollywood Studios earlier this month (on May the Fourth Be With You, naturally). But brand new to Star Wars Weekends this year is the Rebel Hangar — A Star Wars Lounge Experience, which has effectively converted half of Backlot Express into an abandoned spaceport in the Sullest system.

Entrance to Rebel Hangar

Entrance to Rebel Hangar

Chips and Sith at Rebel Hangar

Chips and Sith at Rebel Hangar

Blue Milk!

Blue Milk!

You can read all about this special month-long dining event featuring small plates and specialty cocktails in our full review of the Rebel Hangar!

Believe it or not, though, it’s not all Star Wars at Hollywood Studios… we’ve got some regular ol’ menu changes at some favorite Table Service restaurants to report as well. Sci-Fi Dine-In has added the Sci-Fi Popcorn Treat to the appetizer selection. It’s popcorn soup (for watching those old movies, of course!) with buffalo popcorn chicken and celery sticks, drizzled with blue cheese dressing.

Sci-Fi Dine-In

Sci-Fi Dine-In

New entrees include Grilled Marinated Salmon, while the Veggie Burger got a [Read more…]

Review: Steamed Vegetables and Rice at Katsura Grill in Epcot’s Japan Pavilion

I bet we caught you by surprise with the title of this post ;).

After all, here at the DFB we’re known for our love of all things fried, frosted, or otherwise fixed up in the name of vacation indulgence! It’s not that we’re opposed to veggies, believe it or not. (I love ‘em!) It’s just that in the Vacation Kingdom that is Disney World, we enjoy showing you all sorts of decadent vacation treats you might not typically encounter.

But sometimes maybe you just feel the need to switch things up for whatever reason… to counteract overindulgence, or just fulfill a sudden craving for more simple, natural foods.  For such times, I’d like to introduce you to one of my (surprisingly, I know!) favorite finds in Epcot: Steamed Vegetables and Rice at the Japan Pavilion’s Katsura Grill.

Katsura Grill

Katsura Grill

Now, the Steamed Vegetables and Rice aren’t sold as a combo – they are each [Read more…]

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Review: Japan Food and Beverage Pairing

We are ramping up for another fantastic Epcot Food and Wine Festival! Today, we’re reviewing a fun Special Event from the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

We are heading over to Tokyo Dining in the Japan Pavilion for the Food and Beverage Pairing experience. The light meals feature beverages paired with tasting-sized portions of the restaurant’s cuisine.

I’ve enjoyed dinner at Tokyo Dining as well as lots of fun meals at Teppan Edo, so I was pretty sure I was in for a treat! While we’d done the Morocco food and beverage pairing event, we’d not yet experienced the Japan version. Here we go!

Atmosphere

When I arrived for the Food and Beverage Pairing, I checked in at the stand that serves both Teppan Edo and Tokyo Dining. The cool, sleek waiting area features simple, modern decor and comfortable low lighting.

Waiting Area Serves Both Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo

This area is also shared by the two restaurants.

Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo Waiting Area from Another Angle

Step into the Tokyo Dining seating area, and the same modern Japanese vibe is prevalent throughout. A sushi show kitchen takes up space along one wall.

Tokyo Dining Seating and Open Sushi Kitchen

The other side of the restaurant is dominated by [Read more…]

Review: Green Tea Cheesecake at Katsura Grill in Epcot’s Japan Pavilion

We’ve been enjoying snack time at Walt Disney World as we launched our Disney Food Blog Guide to Epcot Snacks e-Book, 2014 Edition earlier this week!

To continue the celebration, let’s check out one of my favorite spots in World Showcase. And while we’re there, we’ll sample a never-featured-here-before snack today!

I think Epcot’s Japan Pavilion boasts some of the loveliest landscaping in Epcot, and a lot of it can be enjoyed from an outdoor seat at Katsura Grill.

Katsura Grill

Katsura Grill

Outdoor seating

Outdoor seating

The greenery, the paper lanterns, and waterfall all contribute to a sense of beauty and peace — even on the busiest of park days — so I’m always looking for reasons to spend more time in this spot.

A view from Katsura Grill

A view from Katsura Grill

Lanterns

Lanterns

Waterfall

Waterfall

One of those reasons, recently, was to try the Green Tea Cheesecake. I adore cheesecake, but have had both good and bad experiences with green tea infused food, so I was curious about what I might discover.

Upon receiving my slice, the first thing my eyes took in was the color. As expected, it’s rather green :), but a very light hue.

Green Tea Cheesecake

Green Tea Cheesecake

Green Tea Cheesecake

Green Tea Cheesecake

The portion size, I must say, seemed [Read more…]

Fun Find: Food Erasers in Epcot’s Japan Pavilion

There is always some other-things-dressed-up-as-food fun going on at Mitsukoshi Department Store!

This expansive retail space, which takes up much of the Japan Pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase, is a great place for exploration. We love to pop into the store for fun souvenirs like this monorail plate (okay, it might be a bullet train, but we’re going to keep pretending).

Mitsukoshi Department Store

It’s a great place for snacks like Pocky as well. You can also browse other fun finds to satisfy cravings, like Japanese candy, or, you know, dried crabs.

And don’t forget to pick up a beverage — Ramune or sake, depending on your taste!

There is also an incredible array of “cute” in the store — and that carries straight through to the back part of the store where you’ll find all the food stuff. In addition to snacks, tea sets, and tableware, there’s some adorable food-shaped merch, like erasers.

Food Erasers!

Yep! We were exploring with Erin when we found these awesome souvenirs. The erasers were SO detailed, and many of them were packaged in themed sets. I’ve pretty much never had occasion to use an eraser in the past few years, but still… how can you just pass these by?

We found beverage cartons that look like little servings of milk and juice! (Is that corn juice on the left?)

Beverage Carton Erasers

The bakery items are [Read more…]

Disney Recipe: Frushi from Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival

Today, we are so excited to bring you one of our DFB readers’ most requested recipes — Frushi! What’s Frushi, you’re asking? Basically, it’s “Fruit Sushi”…minus the fishes!

Frushi from the 2013 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

The super fun dessert item was featured this past spring at Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, which featured marketplace booths similar to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

Read our complete review of the 2013 Flower and Garden Festival here! There were some amazing eats available at the [Read more…]

Spotted! “Monorail” Kids’ Plates in Epcot’s Japan

I absolutely cannot resist a stroll through Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Japan Pavilion whenever I am in Epcot. I mean, I have to have my Pocky fix, don’t I?! And on my last stroll through the store, something caught my eye that I was SUPER excited to see!

A little background: One reader question that we get over and over again is: Where can we find those cute kids’ plates that they use at Teppan Edo?

Kids' Plates at Teppan Edo -- Spotted!

It seems that guests think the plates look just like the front of the monorail. (Looking more closely, they may be airplanes, but there are no wings, so I’m all for the monorail theory.)

So I was so excited to share these with those of you who have been wondering!

To be honest, the price is [Read more…]

Review: Tokyo Sunset at Japan’s Outdoor Sake Bar in Epcot

Welcome our new DFB researcher, Steven Cline, with a mini-review of the Tokyo Sunset cocktail found in Epcot’s Japan pavilion at the outdoor sake bar!

Disney Food Blog has hinted at the Tokyo Sunset in previous posts about the outdoor sake bar in Japan, and guests could find it at the Japan Booth in the 2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

We found the new drink (new to us anyway) right there at the kiosk across from the entrance to Teppan Edo.

Tokyo Sunshine - click image for larger version

The Tokyo Sunset sells for $8.00 plus tax (according to the sign, but rings up as $7.98 plus .52 cents tax for a total of $8.50).

Tokyo Sunset

It contains Coconut Rum, Peach Schnapps, Banana Liqueur, and [Read more…]

New! Ice Pop Stand in Epcot’s Japan Pavilion

Beat the Disney World summer heat at this kiosk in Epcot’s Japan Pavilion that is now serving Ice Pops…for a song!

Ice Pop Stand

These snacks are a pretty good size, and cost only $1.00 each (UPDATE: We’ve just had a note from a reader that these are now $2.00. Still a good price, but not as good as before…). Bargain! Flavor choices are lemon, melon, orange, grape, and strawberry.

Ice Pops in Freezer

They basically taste like good Popsicles. But the price is great! And the wrapper is a pretty sturdy plastic. It maintains its shape, even after the ice/juice is gone. This makes it a GREAT choice for kids because it [Read more…]

Katsura Grill, Rogue Food & Wine Booths, and More Changes in Epcot’s Japan Pavilion

Andy over at Eating (and Drinking) Around WDW got the inside scoop on a bunch of news coming out of the Japan pavilion in Epcot! Here are the main subjects, but be sure to head over to his site for details!

Katsura Grill and Gardens Replaces Yakitori House

The Yakitori House, now closed for refurbishment, will reemerge as Katsura Grill (menu will stay essentially the same, Andy says), and the beautiful gardens next door will be refurbished as well!

The Yakitori House in Epcot's Japan Pavilion Will See Some Changes

Japan Food & Wine Festival Booth Being Used as a Stand-In Counter-Service Spot

Those of us familiar with the Japan Booth will recognize the structure and sign here! It’s serving a limited menu of [Read more…]