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…]

Guest Review: Beers Around the World, Part Two

In part one of “Beers Around the World,” D.J. Jones and his team of experts examined the various beers available in Epcot’s World Showcase. Here is part two of their global journey.

Kirin Beer Tap

After several hours of tedious research, the combination of the Florida sun and beer had begun to take its toll. So the research team and I decided to head back to our hotel where we would take in a much needed nap. Feeling refreshed and ready to complete our “Around the World” journey, we returned to Epcot and picked up where we had left off, which was halfway around the “World” in…..well, America.


We entered the American pavilion’s Liberty Inn, where Bud Light and Samuel Adams Boston Lager were both available on draft. While either of those would have been an acceptable choice, I decided to wait on ordering as my gut told me something better lay on the horizon.

My patience soon paid off, as I was astonished to find Sam Adams “Boston Brick Red” on draft at a nearby ice cream cart. The beautiful amber color of this beer was only surpassed by its incredible body of flavor. I later was told that this beer has been limited in distribution to only Boston area bars, which makes finding it in the World Showcase that much more impressive.

The Samuel Adams Boston Brick Red


Next we journeyed back across the Pacific to the Japanese pavilion. There we found on draft [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: January 30, 2011

Hello, hello, Disney food lovers! It’s the end of January, and that means two things: 1. You’ll be getting your January Disney Food Blog Newsletter tomorrow, and 2. We’re now only eight months away from the 2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! OK…I know I’m a little too excited about that one, but we just booked our hotel, so I’m enthusing.

All righty — here’s the latest Disney Food News!

And now… on to the round-up!

Kevin Kidney combines the release of his new Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship replica (which I now need) with an incredible post describing the history and design of the actual Chicken of the Sea in Disneyland. A great read.

Daily Mail eats around WDW! (I’m itching to correct the zillion things that are wrong about that photo caption, though…)

Southern Plate highlights the recipe for 1900 Park Fare’s Strawberry Soup.

Eating (and Drinking) Around WDW reminds us to always tell your server when it’s your birthday

Main Street Gazette checks out the new burgers (veggie and decidedly non-veggie) at Liberty Inn in Epcot!

Cupcakes Take the Cake highlights some of our favorite Marvel characters, cupcake-style.

Disney Parks Blog checks in from the Dream!

New “Designer” Burgers at Disney World

After debuting the snazzy new hot dogs at Lunching Pad, Disney decided that it’s time to make bigger, better burgers!

Cheddar cheeseburger at ABC Commissary is topped with fried shrimp

Magic Kingdom
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe: Angus burger topped with Cheddar cheese, guacamole and bacon.

Liberty Inn:
1. Veggie burger with Monterey Jack cheese, avocado, tomato and lettuce
2. Angus burger topped with smoked ham, bacon, smoked Gouda cheese, red onion, tomato, pickle, lettuce and mustard aioli sauce.

Electric Umbrella: Mushroom-blue burger with sautéed mushrooms, bacon, blue cheese, fried onion straws, lettuce and [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 — 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…]

Epcot’s Liberty Inn: A Publick Dining Room

Did you know there’s a counter service restaurant in Epcot’s American Adventure pavilion? Lots of folks don’t, because it’s tucked back into the corner, but this place is massive!

It’s a great spot to stop for a rest and a bite to eat when you’re halfway around your World Showcase touring, and it’s also a good place to pass the time while you’re waiting for a show in the amphitheater across the way — Flower Power Concerts, Eat to the Beat Concerts, and the Candlelight Processional all take place there! (Note: Don’t feel like searching for a seat for the concerts? Sitting at an outdoor Liberty Inn table will give you the opportunity to hear the concert while enjoying your food! Win-win!)

Outdoor Seating

While this is a typical Disney counter-service restaurant, imagineers have provided special touches [Read more…]

Best Disney World Restaurants for Fireworks Viewing: Part II

World Showcase

World Showcase

Here’s the second in our series of Best Disney World Restaurants for Fireworks Viewing! Today, we’ll discuss the restaurants with the best views for Illuminations fireworks viewing. (The previous blog post, Part I, has information about Wishes fireworks viewing.)

Illuminations, Reflections of Earth, is shown at Epcot at 9:00PM every night, Saturday-Thursday. Friday nights vary between 9:00PM and 8:00PM depending on Epcot’s schedule.

Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room, patio table
Rose and Crown in Epcot’s United Kingdom pavilion is the quintessential dining and viewing spot for Illuminations. If you’re lucky enough to get one of the coveted tables out on the covered patio, Rose and Crown’s view of Illuminations will offer you one of best experiences in Walt Disney World. There’s simply nothing like it.

Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room

That said, the fierce competition for these tables has made me forego even making a reservation for dinner at Rose and Crown over the past few visits to Disney World. While Rose and Crown cannot guarantee their ability to grant requests for patio tables, hopefuls begin crowding the podium before 7:00PM each night, willing to wait as long as it takes. The line of patrons waiting to check in can stretch all the way to Tudor Lane. As a result, Rose and Crown has instituted a policy (in my experience) that those checking in at the podium may wait only one hour for a table request; after an hour, they must take the table offered, or choose not to dine at Rose and Crown.

Patio View

Patio View

How can you improve your chances? Visit Disney World during a slow season (e.g. Winter or early Fall), book your reservation for around 7:30-7:45pm (it’s simply not fair to the servers to book earlier; unless, of course, you’re willing to pay three times the tip!), and tell the cast members when you check in that you’re willing to wait the hour for a fireworks-view, patio table.

Back Patio

Back Patio

Note that the Rose and Crown patio stretches around the Rose and Crown, meaning you might be seated at the side of the restaurant. You can still see the fireworks here, but the view will not be as good as from the back patio, directly next to the lagoon. You can specify that you’re requesting a back-patio, fireworks-view table, but patio is patio… .

Side Patio

Side Patio

Rose and Crown is a casual restaurant; park-wear is acceptable. No reason to dress up. By the way, the potato and leek soup is to die for!

La Hacienda de San Angel
One of Epcot’s newest restaurants, La Hacienda de San Angel, offers — for the first time in Epcot history — an Illuminations view rivaling that at Rose & Crown! While many of the tables offer excellent views (the windows are expansive), those that are right up against the windows will be highly prized.

View from Our La Hacienda de San Angel Window Table

One of the Main Dining Rooms at La Hacienda

Bistro de Paris
This high-end restaurant located on the second floor of the building housing Les Chefs de France in Epcot’s France pavilion has excellent Illuminations viewing. Again, you’ll want to arrive early and request a window table, but a steep price and nearly hidden entrance (the entrance to Bistro de Paris is hidden around the back of the Le Chefs de France building) mean that competition for seating is limited compared to Rose and Crown.

Fireworks from Bistro de Paris Window

The dining here is top-notch, but the view from the second story windows can’t be beat. Dress up for this one and make it a celebration.

Cantina de San Angel
The Mexico pavilion’s counter service dining option has been touted by some, panned by others, but everyone agrees that it’s a good option for watching Illuminations…assuming you can commandeer a table and stand your ground!

Cantina de San Angel

Because the tables are lined up along the World Showcase Lagoon, patrons have complained about kiddos squeezing themselves between tables and fence to get a better view. Also, folks who might not have as much need for personal space as you do may invite themselves to infringe upon yours by “sharing” your table.

This spot might be more hassle than it’s worth, but it’s an inexpensive way to get one of the best views in the park. And the food’s tasty, too!

Tokyo Dining
Tokyo Dining, in Epcot’s Japan pavilion, was recently renovated and re-opened in 2007. Specializing in sushi and tempura, the restaurant shares the second floor of the Mitsukoshi Department Store building with Japan’s other table-service restaurant, Teppan Edo.

Tokyo Dining

This might be your best bet for getting an advanced dining reservation less than 90 days out, as many folks don’t yet know about Tokyo Dining, aren’t sure where it is, or simply don’t want to try the food. Luckily, this means that the floor-to-ceiling window views are up for grabs!

Dining Room

Dining Room

As with the other restaurants, make a reservation for an hour or so before Illuminations and arrive early. Request a window table (tell them you’ll wait if necessary). Once seated, enjoy your meal leisurely until the show begins.

View of World Showcase Lagoon

View of World Showcase Lagoon

Note that there is an outdoor, public walkway along the windows at Tokyo Dining. If people notice it’s there, they may crowd it before the show. You’ll still be able to see the fireworks, but this could possibly block the view a bit.

Outdoor Walkway

Outdoor Walkway

Tokyo Dining is a more casual restaurant; park-wear is acceptable.

Other Potential Viewing Spots With Dining
While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend either of these spots for Illuminations viewing, Tangerine Cafe in Morocco and Liberty Inn at the American Adventure might offer a decent place to sit to see the higher-up fireworks. At Tangerine Cafe, even if you’re sitting outside (the windows are too opaque to see from the inside), the crowds will likely mar your view of the action on the water. At Liberty Inn, the American Gardens Theater tends to block out the lagoon view. But both offer spots to sit, take a load off, and nosh a bit while you listen to the music and enjoy at least some of the show.

If you have other ideas and options, be sure to let me know in the comments section below!

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