Review: Dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

We are back for another visit to Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Tree Tavern — and this time, it’s for dinner.

What’s the difference between lunch and dinner? Well, it’s major, actually. Lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern is an a la carte offering — you order what you want off the menu. I’ll often go for their Angus Chuck Cheeseburger. And the Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake is one of the best desserts on property. (Here’s the recipe.)

But dinner is a completely different deal — and still quite good. You’re treated to a family style feast consisting of roasted meats and all the trimmings.

I haven’t covered dinner at LTT here on the blog for a long time…for two reasons: 1.) It’s always the same. The food rarely changes, and everyone gets the same thing, so our previous reviews are still totally valid when it comes to the food. 2.) For some reason, every time I’ve been there for dinner in the past year, something has happened to keep me from getting the photos I need to blog the post. Either a member of my party gets sick or one of the kids has a meltdown…or we’re with a huge group and the food is decimated before I can take a picture.

So, I made it a focus on my last trip to get over there and make it happen! Here we go!

Atmosphere

Liberty Tree Tavern is a Magic Kingdom icon. It’s been there since the Park opened, and there are many Disney fans who count a meal here among their earliest Disney memories. It’s located on Liberty Square, near the Hall of Presidents and other exhibits celebrating Colonial American History.

Liberty Tree Tavern Entrance

Liberty Tree Tavern Entrance

Liberty Tree Tavern offers seating in six different rooms, each themed to a notable historical figure. They include Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Paul Jones, Paul Revere, Betsy Ross, and George Washington. You can see a more in-depth atmosphere review here.

John Paul Jones

A door in the John Paul Jones Room

Decor

Model Ship and John Paul Jones Portrait

If your kiddos are studying American history, it’s fun to take a look around each of the rooms to see some of the more well-known stories come to life. Ben Franklin’s kite and George Washington’s wooden teeth appear in their respective rooms.

Kite in Ben Franklin Room

Kite in Ben Franklin Room

And if there are any invasions or revolutions that require your help, you’re all set. Grab your cloak and three corner hat, and you’re off!

Coats and Hat Hanging at the Ready

Coats and Hat Hanging at the Ready

Seating throughout the vast network of rooms is made up of booths and tables. Primarily you’ll find ladder back chairs that are fairly comfortable surrounding rectangular and round tables.

Seating

Seating

Seating

Seating

If you prefer some natural light, be sure to request a seat in one of the outer facing dining rooms. But don’t plan on parade- or people-watching. The glass is bubbled and wavy, so you’ll just see blobs of color.

Seating and View

Seating and View

Eats

As I mentioned before, if you dine at Liberty Tree Tavern for dinner, you’ll be partaking in a prix fixe, family style meal. That means that each person in your party will pay a set price — one price for adults, and a lower price for children. (Children under 3 are free.)

Your meal includes everything listed below, including a standard beverage and dessert. The format is all-you-care-to-enjoy, so there’s no reason to ever leave a Liberty Tree Tavern dinner table hungry.

Liberty Tree Tavern -- Click to Enlarge

Liberty Tree Tavern Menu — Click to Enlarge

We began with a [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at Crystal Palace in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Welp, boys and girls — it’s time to head into Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and take in lunch at Crystal Palace! This is a beloved character spot for many Disney fans, and a must-do character experience for lots of you.

Me? I hadn’t been to Crystal Palace in foreva…not since an ill-fated late-night visit a couple of years ago when the food was AW-FUL! Yep, it was the end-of-the-night dregs of the buffet and we were pretty much just grossed out. (Have you ever seen a buffet about 15 minutes before a restaurant is about to close? Not pretty.) We ate very little and left as soon as we could. Sad, since we do love dining with Pooh and friends.

But it was time to revisit the 100 Hundred Acre Wood — after all, we’d had lots of great meals here previously — and I made reservations with some friends for lunch.

We have tons of shots to show you, so let’s get started!

Atmosphere

You’ll find Crystal Palace to the left of Main Street USA’s end, just as you approach Cinderella Castle. The beautiful glass building, inspired by ornate conservatories of the late Victorian Age, is a slice of Disney history as well. The restaurant has been around since opening day in 1971.

Entrance to Restaurant

Entrance to Restaurant

And here’s a tip if you’re looking for an extra-special experience during your Disney vacation: try and book Crystal Palace for an early breakfast. You’ll be one of the first guests into the Park when you do this, and visiting a nearly empty Magic Kingdom is an event to remember.

Once you step inside, you’ll see whitewashed walls that carry the bright, light decor throughout. Artwork depicting inspiration for the architecture as well as photos of lush palms cover the walls.

Artwork and Framed Photos

Artwork and Framed Photos

The soaring atrium above is gorgeous — especially on a sunny day!

Crystal Palace Atrium

Crystal Palace Atrium

After you check in, you’ll wait for your table outside on the shaded veranda. But once you step in, pause a moment to take it all in.

Dining Rooms

Dining Rooms

Tons of windows and glass domes allow for plenty of natural light in the two dining areas.

Dining Room from Another Angle

Dining Room from Another Angle

And really — look up. Because the windows are really stunning. I love the beautiful stained glass detail.

Stained Glass Windows

Stained Glass Windows

The decor puts you in mind of a Victorian conservatory, with its outside-but-inside feel. Lush flowers and what reminds me of patio furniture finish the area.

Evening Light

Afternoon Light

Crystal Palace is, of course, a character dining experience, and you’ve stumbled onto a party!

Center Atrium -- Up Close

Center Atrium — Up Close

In fact, visit here, and you’ll take part in a Friendship Day Celebration with Winnie the Pooh and his friends.

Banner -- Up Close

It’s Friendship Day!

Just check out these gorgeous flower topiaries of the whole gang!

Pooh and His Hunny Pot

Pooh and His Hunny Pot

Eeyore Topiary

Eeyore Topiary

The sweet little figures appear to be made of dried roses, and foreshadow the characters you’ll meet while you dine.

Piglet Topiary

Piglet Topiary

Bouncing Tigger Topiary

Bouncing Tigger Topiary

And beautiful hanging arrangements of tropical flowers complete the classic conservatory feel.

Fresh Flowers

Fresh Flowers

Seating is standard and fairly comfortable. Heavy, padded chairs share the space with booths, but some tables are situated a bit too closely for our comfort.

Seating for Two

Seating for Two

Seating along windows gives you a glimpse of guests waiting to be seated! But beyond them, you’ll also see a beautiful view of [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…]

Disney Recipe: Gratin de Macaroni from Les Chefs de France in Epcot

Macaroni and Cheese — that glorious food that is both side dish and main dish.

But one of my favorite grown up versions is the baked Gratin de Macaroni at Les Chefs de France in Epcot’s France Pavilion.

The dish is so well loved that it’s even made its way onto the menu over the years for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in the France Marketplace Booth. Will it make the cut for the 2014 Food and Wine Festival? Only time will tell!

But for the mac and cheese lover, this dish has everything! Sharp, tangy Gruyère cheese, golden crust, and it’s plenty big enough to share — if you want to! (Confession: Usually I don’t want to.)

But what are you to do if your next advance dining reservation for this wonderful spot is months off, and you’re craving some of this awesomeness, like, yesterday???

Gratin de Macaroni at Les Chefs de France

Gratin de Macaroni at Les Chefs de France

Why, make it at home, of course! Because with this recipe, the cheesy power is in your hands.

Gratin de Macaroni

Les Chefs de France

Ingredients: [Read more…]

Mickey’s Toontown “Restaurant Tour” at Disneyland!

Mickey’s Toontown is the perfect place to visit when you want to feel like a kid again. It’s easy to believe that you’ve been dropped right into a cartoon as you venture into this land based on Toontown in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Exploring Mickey’s and Minnie’s houses, and seeing all the cool detail, is one of my favorite things to do here!

And it’s great knowing that Toontown is still alive and kicking in Disneyland, since it went by the wayside to make room for New Fantasyland expansion in Walt Disney World.

But what if you’re looking for a bite to eat in the land of ‘toons? You’re in luck! There ain’t much to eat in Mickey’s Toontown, but what’s there sure is fun!

Toon Town Restaurants

Toon Town Restaurants

Among the wonky architecture and interactive attractions in Toontown, you’ll find an assortment of stands for grabbing a bite to eat between rides. And no worries about picky eaters — everything here is sure to please even the littlest members of your crew!

Let’s take a little tour of the counter services spots and see what they have to offer. Fortunately, they’re all nestled close together, similar to a food court – great for a family or group whose members all want something different for lunch!

Counter Service Eats in Disneyland’s Toontown

The first stop on Toontown’s Restaurant Row is Daisy’s Diner. Donald’s girlfriend serves up Pizza in two varieties — Cheese or Pepperoni. Pizzas are individually sized, and are pretty standard Disney pizzas. If you’ve eaten Disney counter service pizza anywhere else, you’ll know what to expect.

You can also get a limited assortment of drinks here — Soda-Pop, Milk, or Juice. The Souvenir Sipper is also available. We’ll see a pic of that in a sec. There are also a few desserts available as well.

Daisy's Diner

Daisy’s Diner

The next stop is Pluto’s Dog House. CUUUUUTE! ;-) I have serious love for that hotdog skewered on the fork above the window. Even the road signage out front lets you know what’s happening in this part of town.

Pluto's Dog House

Pluto’s Dog House

It probably won’t surprise you to find out that Pluto serves up Hot Dogs. Get a basket with a side of Apple Slices or Chips.

Pluto’s also features a few Kid’s Meal options, including a Kid’s Hot Dog or Turkey Sandwich, which both come with sides. There’s also a Toddler Meal featuring Macaroni and Cheese. Assorted desserts are available here, too.

In the drink department, Souvenir Sippers are also for sale here, along with the same beverage options that Daisy’s Diner features. However, you can also get Coffee, Hot Tea, and Hot Chocolate at Pluto’s — which are available in a Travel Mug.

Pluto's Dog House Menu

Pluto’s Dog House Menu

Our next stop is Clarabelle’s! Head to the awning with the cute cow spots if you’re looking for something a little fresher for lunch or dinner.

Clarabelle's

Clarabelle’s

Options include “Moo” Plate Specials (bahahahahahaha!), and you see the word [Read more…]

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Recipe: Mac n’ Cheese Bundles from Chef Carla Hall

The Epcot Food and Wine Festival has come to close, but there was one recipe that I simply couldn’t get out of my head!

DFB reporter James Armstrong had the opportunity to attend a special event — Sweet Sundays with Chef Carla Hall

Carla Hall Demonstrating Mac n' Cheese Bundles

…and she made THESE! Mac n’ Cheese Bundles!

Mac and Cheese Bundles

I’ve been dreaming of the dish ever since I read about it! And just in case you have been as well, here’s the recipe!

Mac n’ Cheese Bundles

Serves 4

Ingredients: [Read more…]

Review: 1900 Park Fare Dinner at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Today, we’re back at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa to take in dinner at 1900 Park Fare!

You  may remember that the last time we were here, we were…nonplussed…unimpressed…frustrated…should I go on? Basically, we really didn’t have a great experience. But, as I always say, the only consistent thing about Disney restaurants is that they’re inconsistent. And some guests think this restaurant is fantastic — a great alternative to hard-to-get advance dining reservations like Cinderella’s Royal Table.

So we’re back at this character buffet for another try… . While breakfast at 1900 Park Fare left us flat, this time around we’re checking out the dinner spread and hoping for the best!

Atmosphere

You’ll find 1900 Park Fare off of the ground floor lobby of the Grand Floridian Resort. As you walk in the hotel’s front doors, the restaurant is located to your left, just past the Concierge desk.

1900 Park Fare Sign

The antique carousel decor flows with the Victorian feel that you encounter throughout the resort. While you can’t see the individual items on this menu board that’s displayed out front of the restaurant, you can definitely see the attention to detail when it comes to theme.

Menu Board Outside of 1900 Park Fare

When you first arrive and check in for your reservation (you DID make a reservation, right?), you’ll be given a pager and told to wait in the Grand Floridian lobby to be called when your table is ready. Note: this often takes A. LONG. TIME. In my experience, I’ve never been seated at this restaurant within 10 minutes of my reservation time. I’m always waiting quite a while to be called to the table. So if you’ve got little ones who are starving, bring some snacks to tide them over just in case.

Once you’re called, you’ll be told to get in line to have your picture taken with this mural. No…you’re not getting your photo taken with a character. Just with the mural. This can be a fun memory for families, but you might want to skip the pic and head straight in for your meal. Be persistent and make sure they know you don’t want to take the photo. They’re pretty serious about getting you into that line.

Trompe l'Oeil Mural Outside of 1900 Park Fare

Once you head into the massive dining room, you’re greeted with more Victorian charm in pastel shades. Even without windows, the sheer size of the dining room makes it feel airy.

There is a main area with high ceilings in front of the buffet, and some smaller dining rooms surrounding it with lower ceilings. I prefer these areas for seating, since they tend to be slightly quieter.

Dining Area

Seating itself is fairly standard, with cushioned chairs and nondescript tables.

Seating

The main dining room makes the best use of the carousel theme. There are several large statues of fantasy carousel animals situated atop half walls and surrounded by plants. You should take a moment to look at these, because they’re really beautiful.

Calliope in the Background and Carousel Horse Statue

The wall overtop the entrance to the restaurant plays host to an enormous calliope, reminiscent of the intricate musical instruments that you find on antique carousels. This [Read more…]

Guest Review: Trail’s End Restaurant at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Join me in welcoming back guest author Julie B.!

She returns with a review of Trail’s End Restaurant in the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. The journey to this restaurant is part of the experience, right?!

Howdy folks! Even though we’re on vacation, sometimes you just want the comforts of a home-cooked meal. Trail’s End Restaurant at Fort Wilderness Campground brings all the happiness of home to its dinner buffet.

Remember, this spot is a little distant from some parks and resorts. You can reach Trail’s End at Fort Wilderness by taking a boat from Magic Kingdom, Contemporary Resort, or Wilderness Lodge; or by taking a bus from any park or Downtown Disney to Fort Wilderness. Note that if you take a bus, you’ll have to transfer to the Fort Wilderness internal bus system to get to Trail’s End. (DFB recommends taking a boat if possible — so much easier.)

Trail's End Sign

Atmosphere

Trail’s End is a cute little restaurant, featuring the theme of a cabin in the woods. It blends perfectly with the campground!

Welcome Mat

The walls are adorned with the best of the outdoors and the back country. Large wooden beams finish setting the scene for your meal in the wilderness.

Holiday Decor

Dining Room

On the lower level (just down a small half-flight of stairs), Trail’s End is also home to Crockett’s Tavern.

The bar is themed the same way as the restaurant and even features a [Read more…]

Guest Review: New Earl of Sandwich Macaroni and Cheese!

Welcome DFB guest author Jenna G. as she tells us all about the brand new Winter Special at Earl of Sandwich in Disney World’s Downtown Disney — Mac and Cheese!

For those of us braving the wintry weather in most of the country, there are some new cozy comfort foods at Earl of Sandwich that may make us all feel better!

Check out these Earl of Sandwich Winter Time Specials, available for a limited time only.

We tried the macaroni and cheese, which was medium in size and was a sharable snack between two.

Winter Time Specials -- Get 'Em While You Can!

As a connoisseur of great Walt Disney World macaroni and cheese (my favorite being the Truffle Mac & Cheese from Yachtsman Steakhouse) I will say that this wasn’t the best mac ‘n’ cheese. But I can easily see it being a favorite with children.

Macaroni and Cheese

For the price of $3.99, it provides great value and [Read more…]

Review: Liberty Tree Tavern Dinner

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’ll know how much I love Liberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom. This is one of my veeeeeeery favorite restaurants to visit for lunch, because it’s simple, good food; usually great service; quick; easy; and relatively inexpensive. It’s consistently in our top 5 Disney restaurants at our house!

But I hadn’t been for dinner in a long time. A really long time. Like, “not in over three years” kind of a long time. So one night during our recent trip to Disney World, we decided on a whim to cancel our current dinner reservation and go to Liberty Tree Tavern. My husband had never been, and I was craving some mac and cheese, so… off to Liberty Square!

Liberty Tree Tavern

Atmosphere

When you walk into Liberty Tree Tavern, you can immediately tell that it’s meant to represent colonial days. The wood paneling, candlestick sconces and chandeliers, and thick glass windows along with the absolutely massive cooking fireplace in the lobby make you feel as though you might be in Colonial Williamsburg!

Liberty Tree Tavern Lobby

Table Setting at Liberty Tree Tavern

What you don’t immediately see is some of the best restaurant Imagineering in Disney World as far as I’m concerned. I’ve done an entire post previously about this, but I’ll [Read more…]