What’s Your Favorite Disney World Restaurant for Atmosphere?

Disney restaurants tend to have that little something extra that make them a magical experience for us and our families instead of, say, just another night at the local diner. The red carpet at Cinderella’s Royal Table, the aquarium at Coral Reef, the stage show at Biergarten…they all make these restaurants a more interesting, and more compelling, place to dine.

Proximity of Animals to Diners at Coral Reef

Proximity of Animals to Diners at Coral Reef

That’s why today, atmosphere is taking center stage instead of playing a supporting role. I want to know: What’s your favorite Disney World restaurant for its atmosphere? The place that you go, without fail, almost without thought to the food. (Almost. But not quite.)

Here are three of my favorite spots that I hit up as often as possible when I’m in town. I can’t wait to hear about your favorites in the comments!

Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant

If you A) pine for the days of drive in movies, or B) have heard about such days and you’re completely fascinated, then you’ve gotta check out Sci-Fi Dine-In with me.

Dining under the stars while watching ridiculous B movies on the big screen is just too much fun to pass up.

After all, this is the only place in Disney that you can eat in your car!

Dine in a Convertible at Sci-Fi

Dine in a Convertible at Sci-Fi

No time to wait for a car table? Check out the cool picnic table option, and you can still dine in the Disney “open air!”

Sci Fi Picnic Tables

Sci Fi Picnic Tables

Thankfully, Walt shows up every now and again to make sense of it all.

Walt and His Vision

Walt and His Vision

I personally love the house specialty, the [Read more…]

DFB Reader Questions Answered: Best Restaurants to Celebrate a Grown-Up Birthday at Walt Disney World

Today, we’re pulling another great question out the Disney Food Blog mailbag. You guys ask some great ones, and lots of times, we’ll get several emails and inquiries about the same subject.

Spontaneous Birthday Treat at Citricos

Spontaneous Birthday Treat at Citricos

Today, we’re going to delve into the wonderful world of birthday celebrations for grown-ups!

Celebrating Grown Up Birthdays in Walt Disney World

Our DFB reader asks:

We will be vacationing at WDW in May. My 25-year old son will have a birthday while we are there. We would like to have a special meal to celebrate, something fun but also really good!

I love this question! Disney brands itself a great place for all kinds of celebrations. And when it comes to birthdays, why should kiddos have all the fun?

When planning a special meal to celebrate a birthday at Walt Disney World, the most basic advice is probably a great starting point: what does the birthday boy or girl enjoy?

Birthday Dessert

Birthday Dessert

Does he like fine dining, or would he prefer a great night out at a sports bar? Does she like a quiet, elegant setting, or a spot with intricate themeing? Or are they a kid at heart who can Celebrate Mickey with the best of them?

Fantastic ideas abound for fun birthday celebrations at Disney World, but let’s go with my three favorite ideas. At the very least, it might lead to some good brainstorming when it comes time to plan your own special dinner party!

Signature Dining

For the Disney fan who enjoys a fine dining experience, there would be no other place to celebrate a birthday than where these two things meet — Disney’s signature dining restaurants.

If you’re looking for the pinnacle of fine dining, consider booking a table at Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Victoria and Albert's Main Dining Room

Victoria and Albert’s Main Dining Room

The ultimate in Disney fine dining, this relaxed, refined restaurant has won countless awards for its upscale take on modern American fare and its stellar wine menu. To make it an even more special experience, book the Chef’s Table!

Another great option is California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The restaurant sits atop the hotel, and boasts panoramic views. It’s a great spot for viewing Wishes, Magic Kingdom’s fireworks spectacular!

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli is as Good as Ever

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli at California Grill

Food here is always fresh and inventive, celebrating the farm to table movement and the Asian fusion style that placed California on the culinary map.

For something a little off the beaten path but no less delicious, check out Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Jiko at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

In a relaxing atmosphere that mimics the [Read more…]

Walt Disney World Steak Gallery

It’s time for another fun addition to our Disney Food Galleries!

disney world steak gallery

We just love to share photos of all of our favorite foods — and collect them into galleries for easy viewing! Whether your craving is for popcorn, ice cream, or a cupcake, there’s a gallery for you!

And today, we’re introducing a brand new gallery for all of you red meat lovers out there! Yep, we’ve gathered a whole buncha steaks from around Disney World to help you make your choices on your next visit.

Remember, some of these may drop off menus from time to time or have side dishes or preparation changed, but hopefully this will give you a good overview of what’s available! Here we go!

Yachtsman Steakhouse

Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club is one of my top picks when it comes to steak at Walt Disney World. After all, they decorate with meat — the first thing you pass en route to your seat is the Steak Trimming Room!

Chefs here pride themselves not only on the very best cuts of meat, but appetizers, side dishes, and desserts inspired by market fresh ingredients. Yachtsman combines the very best of seasonal flavors with the traditional steak experience.

My absolute favorite pick at Yachtsman is the 16-ounce Boneless Ribeye. It is always a melt-in-your-mouth choice.

Ribeye with Herb Fries at Yachtsman Steakhouse

Ribeye with Herb Fries at Yachtsman Steakhouse

But we are also big fans of the 12-ounce Prime New York Strip Steak, served here with a rich potato gratin stack.

Strip Steak

12-ounce Prime New York Strip Steak

Shula’s

Shula’s at Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin is the kind of place that you think of when you envision an upscale steakhouse. As your eyes adjust to the dim lighting and you check out the menu — printed on a football! — you’ll settle into the refined elegance of your surroundings.

When I have the chance to dine here, I almost always go for my favorite, the 22-ounce Cowboy Ribeye (are you sensing a theme?). The Bone-in Steak has been excellent on every visit. The flavor is unbelievable!

Cowboy Ribeye

22-ounce Cowboy Ribeye

Looking for a lighter approach to soothe your carnivore cravings? We’ve also enjoyed the Steak Mary Anne. Delicate by steakhouse standards, the 5-ounce medallions are served with a simple demi glace in this case. It’s the perfect plate for the guest who prefers all the flavor of prime, aged beef in a smaller serving.

Steak Mary Anne

Steak Mary Anne

Flying Fish

If you’re a landlubber like me, then finding a great steak at a restaurant known for fabulous seafood is a dream come true. But it’s not impossible if you’re dining at Flying Fish Cafe.

When I visit, I always order the Char-Crusted Black Angus New York Strip. The creamy Sauce Foyot is such a great accent — and they’re never chintzy with it!

Char Crusted Black Angus New York Strip

Char-Crusted Black Angus New York Strip

Can’t decide between surf and turf? You don’t have to! Try the two house specialities side by side with the Entree Duo, which features the Char-Crusted Angus New York Strip Steak and the restaurant’s most famous fish dish, the Potato-wrapped Red Snapper.

Entree Duo of Red Snapper and Strip Steak

Entree Duo of Red Snapper and Strip Steak

Jiko

Jiko offers some of the most interesting food at Walt Disney World.

And while I enjoy the fusion of African, Indian, and Meditteranean flavors when it comes to appetizers and desserts, I rarely deviate from my favorite entree: the Oak-Grilled Filet.

Oak Grilled Filet with Mac and Cheese

Oak-Grilled Filet with Mac and Cheese

And even when their delicious Mac and Cheese isn’t featured as the dish’s side, you can usually score it as a special request (and I totally recommend that you do). :-)

Liberty Inn

In the mood for steak with no Advance Dining Reservation? Then head to Epcot’s Liberty Inn. Their New York Strip Steak, served with Red Wine Butter, Roasted Potatoes, and Steamed Broccoli, is surprisingly good.

New York Strip Steak Meal

New York Strip Steak Meal

Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant

Even though most of my favorite steaks at Disney World are featured at signature restaurants, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good option at moderately priced restaurants, too, like Sci-Fi Dine-In.

Recently, I was pleasantly surprised by [Read more…]

Disney Recipe: Macaroni and Cheese from Jiko at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

I have a super special treat for you today!

I know I’m not the only person in love with the Macaroni and Cheese at Jiko, right? This signature restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge — and this dish in particular! — regularly tops my list when I’m visiting Disney World.

And when you run into me having dinner here, chances are better than great that I’ll be enjoying their Oak-Grilled Filet with a side of their amazing Mac and Cheese.

While the filet is a mainstay on their menu, the side dishes that it’s paired with tend to change up regularly. But Jiko created a legend with the filet and cheesy goodness combo; it had legions of fans! So normally, even if the mac and cheese isn’t on the menu, you can request it.

Oak Grilled Filet with Mac and Cheese

Oak Grilled Filet with Mac and Cheese

And now you can make it at home too!

Jiko’s Macaroni and Cheese

Jiko — The Cooking Place, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients: [Read more…]

The Best (and the Worst!) Pizza in Disney World

Ahhhh…Pizza. Most of us love the stuff, whether it’s high end, low end, or homemade.

bestandworstpizzaindisneyworld

But one thing’s for sure — you and I both know that not all pizza is created equal — and this is definitely true when it comes to Disney.

Today, we’re awarding some Pizza Pie Superlatives. From Best to Worst and Everything In Between, let’s take a look at a few.

And when we’re finished with the awards, I’ve love to hear if you agree! Leave us a comment with your best and worst!

Best All-Around Pizza in Disney World

If you’ve been reading Disney Food Blog for any amount of time, the winner in this category will come as no shock to you. The hands-down best pizza in all of Disney World are the pies you find at Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion.

With authentic ingredients right down to the flour, tomatoes, and water they use, these are some serious pies that come closest to the real deal from Naples, Italy. They also taste the most like my favorite New York Style pizza (Lombardi’s!!!!) — the gold standard, as far as I’m concerned!

Quattro Fromaggi Pizza from Via Napoli

Quattro Fromaggi Pizza from Via Napoli

You can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas you order here, whether you’re getting a personal size, or you’re sharing with the table.

Build Your Own Pizza with Prosciutto

Build Your Own Pizza with Prosciutto (and/or Other Ingredients…Whatever)

We give high marks to the Quattro Formaggi White Pizza, as well as the Build Your Own with Prosciutto. But really, there are no wrong choices here!

Worst Disney World Pizza

When it comes to pizza that you can safely — no, you definitely should — skip, we’ll chalk this up to… [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: February 23, 2014

It’s finally time!!!

The new mug!

The new mug!

The Disney World refillable mugs have changed design after years of the old version! You can read all about it — and see more pics! — here.

Also, Spring is in the air! For starters, we dug up the menus for this year’s Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. We can’t wait to taste our way around Epcot’s Outdoor Kitchens.

On the festival front, we also learned that Disney is expanding the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival to include an extra week!

There’s even more fun food news from Disney; click on the links below!

Disney Food News

Of course, there’s more! Check out all the latest Disney Food News — even the stuff we don’t mention in posts on the blog! — on our Disney Food News Pin Board, including restaurant closures, and more!

DFB Reader Finds

If you find a fun new food — or other edible awesomeness — in or from Disney, share a photo with us on facebook or twitter so we can add it to our DFB Reader Finds each Sunday!

How about some great cupcakes?!! Facebook friend Kristie sent us some Valentine love — a Red Velvet Cupcake from Pizza Planet. Take a look!

Red Velvet Cupcake

Red Velvet Cupcake

These homemade Frozen-themed cupcakes are fantastic! Jerry shared this picture of his daughter’s amazing creations, including Olaf the Snowman!!

Frozen Themed Cupcakes

Frozen Themed Cupcakes

As always, we can’t get enough of your Disney food finds. We can’t wait to see what our readers share with us next!

The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2014 e-Book Grand Launch

The fully updated DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2014 e-Book is an instantly downloadable PDF guide, featuring over 450 full-color pages of photographs, information, and advice about our favorite subjects — food and dining in Walt Disney World.

miniguide_0114_3d

It’s guaranteed to help you navigate your way to delicious dining on your next trip! And if you’re ready to get yours now, head on over to DFBGuide.com to pick it up!!

For our Grand Launch Sale, use code: 2014 to get a $4 discount for a limited time! And at the end of this post, we have details on even more savings!

Here Are Just Some Of What You Get With Our 2014 Guide:

  • Over 450 Pages of Disney Dining and Planning information, tips, reviews, and recommendations!
  • An in-depth Disney Dining Restaurant Reviews section, covering all Disney restaurants, food kiosks, bars, and lounges
  • An updated Disney Dining Plan section and price analysis for 2014
  • NEW Disney food and restaurant photos
  • An updated Disney Snacks chapter, including our list of dozens of must-try snacks AND our Top 11 Must-Have Snacks for 2014.
  • An updated section on birthday parties and specialty cakes in Disney World
  • A comprehensive, 10-page chapter of What’s New in Disney World in 2014, including new restaurants, menu updates, and more
  • Details about how the My Magic+ Planning System and FastPass+ will affect your vacation planning
  • Our picks for the 11 Great Snacks you must try this year
  • Scavenger Hunts, Trivia, and Top 5 List updates
  • Bingo Cards
  • Updates on all pertinent facts such as dining hours, prices, resources, phone numbers, and restaurant closures/openings
  • All new restaurant additions, closures, refurbishments, and added dining experiences
  • And much more!

But, of course we’re offering a discount for our Grand Launch week!! Again, to celebrate the launch and to thank you for your support of the blog, we’ll be offering the Guide for $4 off its standard rate for a limited time! Order your copy now at DFBGuide.com and use code: [Read more…]

Disney World March Dining Events: The Wave Discovery Dinner and Jiko’s Wine Dinner

Disney fans, check out The Wave Discovery Dinner (for Tables in Wonderland members only) and a Wine Dinner at Jiko — both events will be held in March at the Walt Disney World resort!

The Wave Discovery Dinner

Tables in Wonderland has announced a January Discovery Dinner at The Wave…of American Flavors at the Contemporary Resort for January.

Discovery Dinner Details - click image for larger version

Discovery Dinner Details – click image for larger version

The Wave Discovery Dinner Details

Here are a few details for ya…

Location: The Wave…of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Date: Thursday, March 20, 2014 6:30PM Reception; 7PM Dinner
Cost: $110 per person includes tax and gratuity
Dress Code: Casual Evening Attire

To celebrate Central Florida’s strawberry season, this event will feature family-owned Lott Farms. Tim Mahr (Vice President of Sales for the Southern Division of Martin Ray Winery) will be the wine speaker.

Menu

Welcome Reception
Strawberry Tequila Shooter with Lime Caviar
Strawberry Sweet Tea Braised Short Rib Slider
Kumamato Oysters in Strawberry Gelee with Micro Wasabi
MARTIN RAY CHARDONNAY, RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY

First Course
U-12 Scallop Crudo with Strawberries Five Ways and McGregor Farms Opal Basil
MARTIN RAY SAUVIGNON BLANC, NAPA VALLEY

Second Course [Read more…]

Review: Jiko at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

You guys…Jiko still rocks.

Animal Kingdom Lodge’s signature dining spot has it all — unique, interesting food that’s constantly changing to reflect seasons and trends. Ambiance that changes with the evening light. Impeccable service.

We have returned to Jiko again and again since my husband and I celebrated our first Valentine’s Day together. On a recent visit, we met friends at Jiko for a special dinner in hopes that our streak of great experiences would continue.

Atmosphere

Jiko is located on the ground floor of Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Head downstairs from the lobby, past Victoria Falls Lounge. You’ll find Jiko adjacent to Animal Kingdom Lodge’s other table service spot, Boma.

Menus -- Click to Enlarge

A bank of windows overlooks a beautiful water feature just outside of the restaurant. The rocks and running water provide a soothing backdrop to your dining experience. And if you happen to be seated near the window, be sure to try and spot the hidden Mickey in the rock formations!

Outside View

Back inside, you’ll pass a bar area and the outside wall of the Cape Town Wine Room en route to the main dining room. This is a great time to discuss the truly amazing wine offering at Jiko. The restaurant offers only African wines and is home to the largest collection of South African wines outside of the African continent.

Bar Area and Wine

Pause as you enter the restaurant and take in the view before you. The interior created by well-known restaurant designer Jeffrey Beers evokes themes from The Lion King. The colors, although understated, are rich and mimic nature.

A View of the Restaurant from the Front

Dozens of bird sculptures are suspended in realistic fashion from the ceiling and provide a wonderful sense of movement. I have yet to walk into Jiko with someone seeing the birds for the first time and not see his or her face light up. They’re a beautiful touch.

Ceiling and Bird Detail

A “jiko”, or cooking place, is [Read more…]

What Disney Restaurant Do You Want In Your Kitchen?

Who’s up for a little kitchen reno? My brain’s clearly going a little haywire today, and I was thinking: if I could choose one Disney restaurant to remodel my kitchen after, which spot would it be?

So my fun question to you today is: Which Disney restaurant would inspire your dream kitchen makeover? I’m always happy to kick off the discussion, so I’ll share a few of mine, too!

50s Prime Time Cafe: Mom’s Kitchen!

Nostalgia abounds in what would be my “modern kitchen with a nod to the past!”

One of the 50s Prime Time Cafe Dining Rooms

While I might not go full-on formica, I’d definitely have some fun, retro elements in there like a 50s style fridge (with all the bells and whistles of today!).

Add in a couple of awesome garage sale finds as decor, and some killer wallpaper, and you’re all set!

Cinderella’s Royal Table: Medieval Castle with a View, Please

Looking to get your prince or princess on? For sheer grandeur, Disney-style, how about a kitchen based upon our favorite fortress, Cinderella Castle?

The dining room at Cinderella’s Royal Table offers plenty of inspiration: suits of armor, intricate tapestries, and family crests adorn the space.

Dining Room Windows at Cinderella's Royal Table

Fancy a kitchen with a gothic arch or two? How about mullioned windows? Check out this awesomeness!

Gothic-y Castle Kitchen!

Book a table during your next visit to get lots of ideas.

‘Ohana: Unlimited Meat, Bread Pudding, and a Killer Fire Pit

Why not build a Polynesian hideaway in your house? ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort is a perfect inspiration, and this kitchen would involve tradewinds, lava rock, and a fire pit! [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: June 9, 2013

Disney parks are heating up for summer and we’re all about preparation here at DFB!!

A classic Mickey Premium Bar is sure to cool you down...

If you’re headed to Orlando or Anaheim in the next few months, be sure to have these awesome Disney ice cold snacks on your list of must-eats!

They’ll keep you calm, cool, and collected for another round on Toy Story Midway Mania for sure.

Disney Food News

Take a bite out of this week’s food news from Disney!

  • There’s a new self-service iced coffee option at Captain Cook’s Snack Company in Disney’s Polynesian Resort.
  • Check out the review of the new Chicken Provencal dish at Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom!

Of course, there’s more! Check out all the latest Disney Food News — even the stuff we don’t mention in posts on the blog! — on our Disney Food News Pin Board, including N’Awlins Brunch Fest at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, World of Color Picnic Meals Discontinued at Disneyland, Raglan Road receives award, New Sandwich at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, and Jiko announced South African winemakers dinner.

DFB Reader Finds

If you find a fun new food — or other edible awesomeness — in or from Disney, share a photo with us on facebook or twitter so we can add it to our DFB Reader Finds each Sunday!

We love it when readers spot new menu items or new-to-us food! Reader Tomara sent us news of a Chicken Deluxe Sandwich at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe in the Magic Kingdom. This sandwich replaces the Chicken Wrap.

Deluxe Chicken Sandwich!

Facebook friend Cindy shared a bit of Hawai’i with us. “I recently returned from a great trip to Disney Aulani. I love your cupcake reports and wanted to let you know they are not to be missed in Hawaii. Here is a photo of the Pineapple Macadamia Nut cupcake. Enjoy!”

Pineapple Macadamia Nut Cupcake!

Have you spotted an interesting Disney food related item? Don’t forget to share it with us!

Coming Soon! The DFB Guide to Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios Snacks!

With over 250 pages of delicious snacks, the DFB Guide to Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios Snacks will be the third — and long-awaited — book in our DFB Guide Snacks Series! It will be released VERY soon…but I wanted to share a little sneak peek for you!

As always, you can look forward to an instantly downloadable PDF guide with comprehensive information and advice on well over 200 delicious snacks that you can savor at the Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios parks in the Walt Disney World resort. (And that’s just so far…we’re not finished with the guide yet, so there may MANY more than 200 featured by the time we’re done!)

Watch for our grand launch of the DFB Mini-Guide to Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios Snacks — Coming Soon! 

And, in the meantime, head on over to the DFBStore.com to get some great deals on our best-selling Disney Dining Guidebooks, like the DFB Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks and the DFB Guide to Epcot Snacks!

Check out how you can have the best Disney vacation ever…and pay even less!

On to the Round-Up!

Mickey Fix is running an awesome contest for just a few more days! Enter for free to win a $50 Disney Gift Card!

Staten the Facts dines at Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Orlando Sentinel shares how Disney Chefs have helped to create healthy school lunches at Orange County schools.

NASDAQ reports that Montalvo Tequila has secured placement in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion.

Merryweather’s Cottage shares instructions for a Do-It-Yourself Disney travel mug made from a park map! Love this!

Disney Parks Blog shares 50’s Prime Time Cafe wallpaper for download.

Main Street Gazette stops by the BoardWalk Bakery for a cheesecake brownie.

AKL Resort highlights the new lunch options at Sanaa.