Review: Is the NEW Menu at Diamond Horseshoe in Magic Kingdom Worth a Visit?

The Diamond Horseshoe in Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland at Walt Disney World has had a bit of an identity crisis over the years.

Formerly a seasonal counter service spot, the restaurant is now a seasonal table service location. And while Diamond Horseshoe was once home only to an all-you-care-to-enjoy platter (which began as a temporary offering back in 2016), it was announced that beginning May 16, the menu would also include some a la carte options.

And that’s where Diamond Horseshoe stands today: it’s open seasonally and with limited hours (typically 1PM to 7PM), serving table service eats with both an a la carte and all-you-care-to-enjoy menu. And with the advent of the 2018 Disney Dining Plan’s alcohol-included policy, diners can now enjoy a glass of wine or beer with their meals as well.

But with the cycles of Diamond Horseshoe’s menu life seemingly always up in the air, this Magic Kingdom staple has maintained its Old West style and laid back atmosphere. And after my most recent visit, I might say that’s the best thing Diamond Horseshoe has going for it.

Diamond Horseshoe

Diamond Horseshoe

Atmosphere

Diamond Horseshoe is a rootin’, tootin’ kind of spot, holding fast to its frontier styling in Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland. And we love it for that.

[Read more…]

What’s New at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Coronado Springs Resort: May 26, 2018

We’re baaaaaack with more What’s New! This time we’re at Disney’s Hollywood Studios where the Incredibles are popping up everywhere and at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort where tower construction is well on its way! So c’mon!

Artist's Rendering of the New Tower at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort © Disney

Artist’s Rendering of the New Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort © Disney

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Updates

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Menus and Eats

It’s hot in central Florida, and it isn’t cooling off any time soon. So you’ll want to keep your cool by sipping on a Strawberry Lemonade with an optional shot of Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum. We found this at the popcorn cart to the left of the Chinese Theater.

Popcorn Cart's Strawberry Lemonade

Popcorn Cart’s Strawberry Lemonade

[Read more…]

Review: The Boathouse in Disney Springs: Still Smooth Sailing or Adrift at Sea?

When we first visited The BOATHOUSE (caps official!) in Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs back in early 2015, it wowed us with its quality seaside eats and charming decor.

We enjoyed it so much in April of that year that we returned in November to see if The Boathouse was staying afloat in the ever-changing landscape of Disney Springs. And it really was!

Truth be told, we still got a little sticker shock when we perused that mostly-seafood-and-steak menu, but with the food being as good as it was, we sort of got over it. So much so that in 2017, we headed back for dinner!

Yeah, you could say we’re fans. But even when a restaurant proves itself to be consistently good (with the exception, maybe, of that crazily overpriced, not very good S’mores Baked Alaska!), it’s our duty to keep checking on things to, you know, make sure it’s still awesome. So put on your life jacket and hoist the sails because we’re hitting the high seas at The BOATHOUSE. 

The Boathouse Sign

The Boathouse Sign

[Read more…]

Is Disney World’s Beaches and Cream Still Worth The Reservation?

We often hear from readers who want to know if DFB’s favorites of yore have still got IT.

You know what we mean: do they still have the mojo that keeps guests coming back year after year. For some restaurants at Walt Disney World, it’s killer food and a seasonal, ever-changing menu that draws in a crowd. For others, it’s an atmosphere that can’t be beat — like ‘Ohana‘s warm family feel or Sanaa‘s animal friends right outside the window.

For Beaches & Cream, it’s a sense of nostalgia paired with comforting eats that have been consistently good since the soda shop opened its doors almost thirty years ago. (Let’s just table that thirty years ago bit because there’s no way we’re that old…)

Beaches & Cream is tucked in between the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts on an outdoor walkway adjacent to Stormalong Bay — the fabulous pool shared by the resorts. That means Beaches and Cream is in the Epcot Resort Area (and just a stone’s throw from the International Gateway that serves as an entrance to Epcot’s World Showcase). This convenient location means that even guests not staying at the Resorts will make the short trip to this casual table service location for a bite to eat.

But you (and I!) wanted to know: does Beaches & Cream still have IT?

Beaches and Cream

Beaches and Cream

[Read more…]

Is Disney World’s Artist Point Worth The Money?

So, Artist Point… we meet again.

Okay, I know… “Melodramatic much?” Maybe. But here’s the thing: this Signature Restaurant in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and I have met several times now. And years ago, I would commonly say that I never knew what to expect. Some visits were terrific, while others… well, just weren’t.

But over my past few visits, I have come to a more regular expectation: that I simply won’t be wowed by the experience.

And — believe it or not — that’s exactly why I keep going back. Because if you’ve been with me here on DFB for any length of time, you know that the only consistent thing about Disney restaurants is that they can be really inconsistent. So I always want to give places a chance to up their game.

Well, that and I just straight up love Wilderness Lodge. :)

So, how did this last visit treat me? Let’s step inside the Lodge…

Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

… and find out!

Atmosphere

When you set foot inside Artist Point (and, really, anywhere in Wilderness Lodge), you’re no longer meant to feel as though you’re in the Sunshine State.

[Read more…]

Review: Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast Dinner at Garden Grill in Epcot

Today, we’re sharing with you our latest visit to Garden Grill Restaurant for Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast Dinner!

Garden Grill is basically one of my favorite character meals. First, it’s a character meal with really great interaction. And while Chip ‘n’ Dale are the headliners, here, you also get to hang out with Farmer Mickey and Pluto!

But beyond the characters, we enjoy the unique ambiance that Garden Grill offers. If you’ve never visited the restaurant, wait ’til you see what it does! Yes — DOES!

We’ve also had some pretty fantastic meals here. Breakfast is virtually a tradition for my family.

But today, we’re visiting in the evening. We’ve enjoyed past dinners here. Let’s see if the trend continues.

Atmosphere

Looking for Garden Grill Restaurant? Hang a right after Spaceship Earth and head toward The Land Pavilion in Future World West.

The Land Pavilion

The Land Pavilion

Walkways line the perimeter walls inside the building and lead you down to the pavilion’s three levels, which host The Circle of Life film on the right, and Living with the Land, Soarin’, and Sunshine Seasons (one of our favorite counter service spots) on the bottom. There’s also an elevator if you’d prefer it to walking.

The Land Ceiling

The Land Ceiling

You’ll find the Garden Grill directly across from the entrance.

Garden Grill Sign

Garden Grill Sign

And here’s where we talk about what Garden Grill does: it rotates. In fact, it’s the only restaurant in Orlando — and only one of a handful in the world — that spins.

Now, just in case the thought of a rotating restaurant doesn’t sound all that appetizing, we promise you that Garden Grill spins at a snail’s pace. We aren’t talking spinning teacups here.

Garden Grill Wide View

Garden Grill Wide View

Why does it spin? Well, there’s more than one way to check out the attractions within Living with the Land! As the restaurant rotates, guests are treated to scenes from the ride. This mural acts as sort of a gateway.

Garden Grill Mural

Garden Grill Mural

You’ll visit a farmhouse — or see it from above, anyway. I think this scene is particularly fun, because you get to look inside one of the windows from this vantage point!

Farmhouse Scene in Living with the Land

Farmhouse Scene in Living with the Land

You’ll also see extremes in landscapes. As you view a rainforest scene, and watch it morph into a desert scene as you travel.

Rainforest

Rainforest

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill

The Desert

Your vehicle for sightseeing is your table, of course.

Tables are arranged in a sort of stadium seating pattern on two levels around the restaurant. Top tier tables are your garden variety rectangular tables, like you see here.

Table and Seating

Table and Seating

On the lower level, semi-circular booths face out, giving you the best view of the scenes you pass.

Garden Grill booth

Garden Grill booth

Larger Booth -- Family Side

Larger Booth — Family Side

And did you notice? Mickey makes an appearance before your meal ever starts! :-D

Mickey Table Setting :)

Mickey Table Setting :)

And that brings me to Reason Number Two that you might want to visit Garden Grill: the characters. Let’s check ‘em out.

Characters

One of my top reasons for visiting Garden Grill is the character interaction. In fact, it’s one of my Top Two Favorite Character Meals in Walt Disney World! Of course, I love when I can see Mickey during a character meet and greet. And here, he’s dressed in his farmer finest.

Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse

Mickey is joined by his faithful pup sidekick, Pluto.

Pluto

Pluto

But this is, after all, Chip ‘n’ Dale’s gig. So you’re sure to see the playful pair as you enjoy your dinner.

Chip

Chip

Sad Dale

Sad Dale

And that’s one of the coolest things about Garden Grill — it’s not just the stellar character interaction, but the amount of interaction you get. The restaurant is fairly small in size, so that means you normally have the chance to visit with characters more than once during your meal.

Eats

So we’ve talked about the fact that Garden Grill rotates, thus making it something kinda special. And, of course, any day that you can share your meal with Chip ‘n’ Dale and Friends is gonna be a good one.

But how about the food? Well, the good news is — that’s pretty great, too.

Garden Grill serves its meals family style, meaning that shareable platters are brought to the table, and you can ask for more of anything you like. That also means that everyone dining has the choice of a non-alcoholic beverage as part of the prix fixe price of his or her meal. But if you’d like, you can also order from a list of special drinks, including cocktails, mocktails, beer, and wine.

Special Drinks Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Special Drinks Menu — Click to Enlarge

Wine Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Wine Menu — Click to Enlarge

You don’t really choose what you’re getting at Garden Grill (unless you have special dietary needs; talk to your server in that case). The offerings are pretty much standard. You’ll start with warm Dinner Rolls, served with a side of Whipped Butter.

Rolls with Whipped Butter

Rolls with Whipped Butter

Next comes the Harvest-Inspired Farmer’s Salad. During our visit, the salad included greens, hard boiled egg, radishes, and grape tomatoes. It’s lightly dressed with a creamy dressing.

Harvest-Inspired Farmer's Salad

Harvest-Inspired Farmer’s Salad

The main course is the combination platter with sliced Homestyle Pot Roast, sliced Turkey Breast, and Italian Sausage served with sautéed Peppers and Onions. Sides on the platter include Mashed Potatoes and Bacon and Leek Stuffing.

The Italian Sausage is new, having replaced the previously served Sustainable Fish of the Day.

Platter of Meats, Mashed Potatoes, Dressing, and Gravy

Platter of Meats, Mashed Potatoes, Dressing, and Gravy

But that’s not all. You get additional veggie sides, like Green Beans and Sweet Potatoes, plus Macaroni and Cheese.

Platter of Sides -- Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, and Sweet Potato Fries

Platter of Sides — Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, and Sweet Potato Fries

For dessert, it’s a shareable Short Cake topped with Fruit Compote and Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream.

Short Cake

Short Cake

Some folks may call this a cobbler. Whatever name you give it, the rich cake and super saucy berry topping is a winner with everyone at the table.

Nosh or Not?

You’ll enjoy Garden Grill if:

  • You’re looking for a great character meal that combines great food, MICKEY, and more fun aspects
  • You have a nostalgic affinity for Epcot (Living with the Land!!!)
  • You’re touring Epcot with small children. The rest of the table service restaurants in Epcot can be ho hum for little kids.

You may want to skip Garden Grill if:

  • You’ve got a busy touring day and would rather stick to counter service
  • You’re in an adults-only party and nobody much cares about characters

Overall

After lots of visits, I still love Garden Grill Restaurant.

I think I’ve laid out a pretty convincing argument. When you visit Garden Grill, you’re getting a three-way combo of unique environment, great characters, and excellent (and plentiful) food. And when it comes to characters and kids, I personally lean toward a character meal where the food comes to you, because it’s so much easier to juggle kids, characters, and food when you don’t have to worry about visiting a buffet.

But even beyond the convenience of Garden Grill, the characters, and the novelty of the place, I think this place just offers really great food. It may be kind of standard fare, but it’s thoughtfully prepared. And when you’re paying Disney prices, it’s great when you can enjoy a character meal as much for the food as for everything else.

If you haven’t tried it before, book an advance dining reservation for Garden Grill Restaurant. I think you’ll be pleased.

Read Our Review of Garden Grill’s Breakfast Options Here!

Now, I’d love to hear from you! Is Garden Grill Restaurant one of your favorites? Let us know in comments!

DFB Video: All the Mac and Cheese in Walt Disney World!

Happy Monday! We’re back this week with another DFB Video, and today we’re digging into one of my favorite dishes: Macaroni and Cheese!

Mac and Cheese at The Boathouse

Mac and Cheese at The Boathouse

Wait… did I say “one”? Scratch that. Because not only are we checking out several of our favorite versions of Disney Mac and Cheese… we’ll also tell you how you can get a list of EACH and EVERY  Mac and Cheese in Disney World! Basically, if I see Mac and Cheese on any Disney World menu, I order it so I can let you know where you can find your ideal dish. Does Mac and Cheese topped with pulled pork, coleslaw, AND onion rings appeal to you? How about shrimp-topped mac and cheese? Or are you more of a purist? No matter what, you’re bound to find at least one version (and probably more) that you’ll need to try on your next Disney World trip!

[Read more…]

Review: The Polite Pig (Including BRAND NEW Buttermilk Chess Pie) in Disney Springs

Three words: Buttermilk Chess Pie.

And three more: The Polite Pig. That’s where you’ll find it!

The Polite Pig is a fast-casual dining location serving up “modern barbecue” in the Town Center neighborhood of Disney Springs. It’s got a fantastic pedigree, being owned and operated by James Beard-nominated James and Julie Petrakis and James’ brother Brian — all of whom own restaurants in Winter Park and Orlando.

One of their restaurants — The Ravenous Pig — is The Polite Pig’s hungry older sister. And the reputation earned by that restaurant followed to the smaller Disney Springs location. And if you’re wondering where the politeness comes in, it’s everywhere.

The Polite Pig Insists

The Polite Pig Insists

Even on the walls!

Atmosphere

The Polite Pig decor story is an eclectic mix of polished subway tile, industrial lights and rails, and colorful wood. It’s definitely the kind of place where you feel like you can kick back and relax. [Read more…]

Review: New Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Pulled Pork at Animal Kingdom’s Flame Tree Barbecue

Picture it: A plate full of Baked Macaroni and Cheese.

On top of that, a pile of Flame Tree Barbecue’s Pulled Pork.

On top of THAT, another Flame Tree favorite: Onion Rings!

And on the side? Just a bit of coleslaw to provide a hint of cooling tang to the entire dish.

Well, guess what? You don’t have to simply imagine it — because the fine folks at Animal Kingdom’s Flame Tree Barbecue have made it a reality!

You’ll see it on the updated menu, where the Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Pulled Pork Topped with Onion Rings and Coleslaw has replaced the Smoked Turkey Sandwich.

Flame Tree Barbecue Menu

Flame Tree Barbecue Menu

You’ll notice a difference in presentation, though, from the menu.

[Read more…]

Disney World Mac and Cheese Gallery

Mac and Cheese, the go-to meal of toddlers everywhere, has become a bit of a phenomenon at Walt Disney World. Everyone loves it. It comes in a bevvy of styles. And it’s almost always totally awesome.

So here’s a gallery of our favorites!

Mac and Cheese — Polite Pig

The Polite Pig Mac and Cheese is one of the newest additions to our gallery, and it’s divine. We love the shell pasta and how it holds all that tasty cheese sauce. Mmmm.

Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese

Baked Mac and Cheese Varieties — Eight Spoon Cafe

It’s impossible for us to choose just one of the mouthwatering options at Eight Spoon Cafe in Animal Kingdom, so we suggest getting one of each. The simple Baked Mac and Cheese is creamy and delish, while the Pulled Pork and the Sweet and Spicy Shrimp versions are interesting and satisfying. [Read more…]