Guest Review: Crystal Palace Restaurant in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Join us in welcoming guest author Katie McFarland with a guest review of the Crystal Palace in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom!

The Crystal Palace is a restaurant that holds a special place in many Disney fans’ hearts.

For me, it was where I discovered Breakfast Lasagna, had dinner with my husband right before he proposed, and where we ate the very first night of our honeymoon.

For many people this is where they first met Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet.

Atmosphere

The décor is Victorian elegance with a 1904 World’s Fair-feel. It’s “old fashioned” without feeling stuffy, which is probably in direct relation to the enormous amount of windows in this restaurant.

Crystal Palace Signage

They offer wonderful views of Cinderella Castle, Main Street USA, and the entrance to Adventureland (and also lots of ducks if that’s your thing).

Outstanding view from our seat of Cinderella Castle

In addition to the soaring windows, there are stained glass windows all around the restaurant, most notably in the buffet area. And be sure to check out the bathroom – it’s very [Read more…]

Cinnamon Roll Throw-Down: Gaston’s Tavern vs. Main Street Bakery

Since the Starbucks at Main Street Bakery announcement a couple of weeks ago, there’s been lots of worry about whether the beloved cinnamon rolls will still be available at Main Street Bakery in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

According to the Disney Parks Blog, the only response to this question has been: “…the cinnamon rolls are available at Gaston’s Tavern in New Fantasyland…”. Even if this only refers to the period while the Main Street Bakery will be closed for refurbishment, there’s no mention of whether or not they’ll return to the Main Street Bakery when it re-opens in the Summer of 2013. (Personally, I think they will, but what do I know?)

Gaston's Tavern VS. Main Street Bakery: Cinnamon Roll Challenge!

SO, we decided to take it upon ourselves to do a little taste test between the two cinnamon rolls to find out if the Gaston’s Tavern version is a worthy substitute for those giant rolls over on Main Street! Here we goooo!

Gaston’s Tavern Cinnamon Roll

According to cast members, these rolls are actually made at the Bakery and transported over to Gaston’s, so they should be largely the same, right? The icing (supposedly a maple version at Gaston’s) is added at the Tavern instead of at the Bakery.

First impression? The Gaston’s Tavern Cinnamon Roll is just as large — if not larger — than the one at Main Street Bakery!

As always, I asked for extra frosting — which isn’t (yet) a common request at Gaston’s. Still, the cast member was kind enough to go back to the kitchen and squeeze a bit more frosting onto the roll. The “extra frosting” thing works differently here than it does at Main Street Bakery, though: At Main Street, the extra frosting is scooped from the bottom of the cinnamon roll pan, which means it’s all warm and cinnamony!

Here at Gaston’s, the extra frosting is just squeezed on from the original frosting bottle, which means it’s room temp…and not cinnamony. Probably an issue due to the rolls being made elsewhere.

Gaston's Tavern Cinnamon Roll -- with extra icing

But we looked past that, as the roll seemed to have [Read more…]

The “Everything On the Menu!!” Dinner Review of Be Our Guest Restaurant in Disney World

Mystery has surrounded the creation of the Beauty and the Beast-themed Be Our Guest Restaurant — Disney’s newest dining location — since we first saw the Be Our Guest Restaurant concept art!

From the announcement that beer and wine would be served for the first time at a Magic Kingdom restaurant to our most recent Be Our Guest guest review, we’ve explored the Beast’s domain from afar.

Be Our Guest Bridge Entrance

Well, not anymore. I finally was able to dine at the Be Our Guest Restaurant in the New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom! And over the course of several meals I (and my various dining companions) ordered everything on the menu. (Well, the adult menu anyway.) I know how important it is to know what you’re getting when you’re planning your dining in Disney World, and I wanted to be thorough with this one for you guys.

After months (and months) of speculation about the decor and menu, stepping inside Be Our Guest Restaurant was truly exciting.

Be Out Guest Restaurant Check-In Area

After dining there several times this weekend, I’m anxious to bring to you my take on the food, beverages, and decor. So, let’s get started…

Atmosphere

Guests begin their experience by checking in at the Bridge entrance — a bit like a Gatekeeper’s area. This is where you make your requests for a dining room if you’d like — the Ballroom or West Wing (the Rose Gallery is usually used only for lunch, though some overflow tables are seated there during dinner currently).

Once you’re checked in, you’ll be given a pager and asked to wait on the bridge. Once your page goes off, head toward the large restaurant entrance to be greeted by the Beast’s servant who will take you to your table!

Be Our Guest Restaurant Entry Doors

Beast's Servant Leads Us To Our Table

Once you’re inside the castle, be sure to peek into the Beast’s Study. It’s the room where lunch guests make their orders, and is located right through the hallway where the Knights are all whispering to one another!

In the study, you might see Beast himself greeting his guests!

This was a surprise for those of us dining at the restaurant the first night of reservations. We’d all been told that Beast would not appear, but at 45 minute intervals throughout the evening he walks through the restaurant (with great fanfare and cheering) and then settles in [Read more…]

Sneak Peek! Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Eats

This time of year, there’s one Magic Kingdom event that’s a must-do — Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! This super-fun Disney World hoopla is held on select evenings now through December 21st.

In between enjoying the shows, attractions, Holiday Wishes fireworks, and Once Upon a Christmastime parade, we know you’ll be hungry!

Snow on Main Street at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Remember, we’ve included all of our tips for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in our new DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World® Holidays 2012 e-Book!

Along with party eats, you’ll find the information that you need on shows, character greetings, and more! Plus, it’s jam-packed with all of our holiday tips on visiting the gingerbread displays, and other holiday events at Walt Disney World.

But now, to whet your appetite, here’s a quick look at a few specialty goodies you’ll find at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party to nosh on this year!

Sneak Peek! Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Specialty Eats

From complimentary treats to fun quick-service additions, there are plenty of ways to quell your hunger at MVMCP!

Complimentary Holiday Treats

We love the seasonal, complimentary treats at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! They are delicious and FREE (with admission, of course)! Be sure to look for these balloons that mark treat locations!

Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party Treat Location Balloon

Fill up on cookies and hot chocolate, or healthier options like apple slices and apple juice. The cookies – usually snickerdoodles – are big and chewy! And the packaged apple slices are crisp and refreshing.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Snickerdoodles and Apple Slices

Beverages are conveniently served in to-go cups allowing for [Read more…]

Disney Recipe: Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake at Liberty Tree Tavern

Sometimes I find a dessert in Disney World that takes my breath away (‘Ohana Bread Pudding, I’m looking at YOU!). And I’ll be honest with you — I really didn’t expect it to be this one!

When I first saw the Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake on the lunch menu at Liberty Tree Tavern several years ago, I ordered something else thinking I didn’t really want “cake.”

Man-oh-man did I learn my lesson on the next visit, when I ordered it only because it was the dessert I hadn’t had before. (I know! I can’t believe it, either!)

For those who haven’t tried it, this isn’t “cake.” It’s more like a crispy-on-the-outside, gooey-on-the-inside toffee chocolate chip cookie-ish sort of thing.

Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake at Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom

Rich, buttery flavor is complimented by the bittersweet chocolate chips. Ice cream tops the whole thing off, and the dessert is drizzled in chocolate and toffee. Basically? It’s one of the best desserts on Disney property…hands down. And here’s how you make it…

Liberty Tree Tavern Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake Recipe

Cake Bottom

Serves: 5-6
Prep Time: 10 min
Total Time: 10 min

Ingredients
1 box yellow cake mix
1 large egg
1 stick butter (softened) [Read more…]

First Disney World Starbucks Locations Announced!

The news is finally here! Disney has officially announced that Starbucks will take over the Main Street Bakery in Magic Kingdom and Fountain View Cafe in Epcot in 2013.

Note the Mickeys on the Cup Sleeve

Main Street Bakery and Fountain View Cafe to become Starbucks

We’ve been wondering for nearly a year now where the Starbucks would be located at the Magic Kingdom. And as it turns out, the Main Street Bakery will be completely revamped to hold the new java shop.

According to Disney, the Bakery will close in January 2013 with Starbucks opening in early summer. At Epcot, Fountain View will close in March 2013 and reopen as a Starbucks location in midsummer.

As we saw with Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe in Disney California Adventure, the Starbucks locations will adhere as much as possible to the theme of the parks where they’re located.

For example, Magic Kingdom’s Starbucks will have an early 20th century theme to fit in with Main Street USA. Baristas will be costumed in period wear. In Epcot, the look and feel will represent the modern feel of Future World.

Starbucks Stuff in Current Disneyland Location

Also as we saw at Fiddler in DCA, the locations will offer Starbucks signature beverages along with sandwiches and baked goods.

Bakery Case at Starbucks in Disney California Adventure

If the sandwiches are anything like they are in Disneyland’s location, this means another [Read more…]

Guest Review: Be Our Guest Restaurant Lunch in the Magic Kingdom

Thanks to my colleague Zanna DiMarzio from Zannaland, for sharing her lunchtime counter-service experience at Be our Guest Restaurant. We love her honest take on things at the Magic Kingdom’s newest restaurant. To read a Be Our Guest Restaurant Dinner Review, click here.

I have been lucky enough to walk through the Beauty and the Beast-themed Be Our Guest Restaurant a few times since “Dress Rehearsals” first began for New Fantasyland. Although with each visit, even though I saw a bit more of the space, I was still missing out on seeing the two additional dining rooms as well as actually eating there.

Floor Mosaic at Be Our Guest Restaurant

That all changed today, when I got to enjoy the Be Our Guest Restaurant Quick Service lunch and venture into the West Wing and the Rose Gallery dining rooms. I was just a little bit excited!

Before we get to the food, however, let’s discuss exactly how things work at Be Our Guest for lunch.

Atmosphere and Mechanics

When you walk in to the restaurant, you are directed down the hallway to the right, flanked by three suits of armor on each side. These suits of armor are, of course, enchanted, and actually speak to each other, sing a little, snore a little, and sneeze every now and then.

Suits of Armor in Entry Hallway (c) Disney

For the time I was standing in there, the knights ribbing each other and talking back and forth reminded me of the main Tiki Birds joking with each other. It was really fun.

As you wait, menu screens in the center of the hallway switch to show you photos of the food you are about to order, making it much easier to [Read more…]

Disneyland and Dole: 36 Years of Pineapple Partnership

Recently I had the pleasure of attending Dole’s Banana Summit at the Disneyland Resort. And while we’ll go bananas a bit later, it’s Disneyland and Dole’s partnership on the pineapple front (Dole Whip anyone?) that I think you guys are going to love hearing about.

Dole Whip Time at the Enchanted Tiki Room

After all, Dole is the official sponsor of perhaps the most iconic attraction and snack of the Disneyland (and Disney World!) Resort. What better place to learn about this partnership than the Enchanted Tiki Room with a Dole Whip in hand?

While indulging in pineapple fantasticness, our group was escorted into an empty Tiki Room for a presentation [Read more…]

UPDATED With Wine and Beer Menus: News! Be Our Guest Restaurant to Serve Beer and Wine in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Interesting news coming out of the Magic Kingdom today about Be Our Guest Restaurant!

Sadly, I’m on vacation (yay!) and couldn’t be at the Be Our Guest Restaurant Media Event happening right now (boo!); but thanks to social media we’re getting great info to share with you!

Magic Kingdom Park No Longer “Dry”

According to several of our friends at the event, the big news is that Disney’s Magic Kingdom will now be serving alcohol for the first time ever.

Located in a *formerly* “dry” park where no alcohol was served (based on Walt’s wishes for Disneyland Park, where alcohol is only served at the private Club 33), Be Our Guest Restaurant will be serving alcoholic beer and wine for their guests.

According to Stuart McGuire, Beverage Director, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, “As part of the overall theming, we wanted to offer wine that enhances the guest experience and complements the French-inspired cuisine.”

Be Our Guest Restaurant Wine Menu

“The wines focus primarily on France’s famous wine-growing regions, including Champagne, Alsace, Loire, Rhone, Burgundy and Bordeaux,” says McGuire. Check out the full Be Our Guest Restaurant Wine and Beer Menu.

Be Our Guest Restaurant Wine Menu -- click for larger image

Be Our Guest Restaurant Beer Menu

According to McGuire, “We’ll also offer the leading French beer, Kronenbourg 1664. And, staying in the general region, we’ll also offer Belgian beers.” We love that they’ll have some Chimay [Read more…]

Review: Nutella Waffle Sandwich in Magic Kingdom Park

Welcome back, friends, to one of the great hidden gems of Walt Disney World dining! Sleepy Hollow Refreshments in the Magic Kingdom offers so many unique and classic Disney treats that the entire menu likely worth ordering these days!

From funnel cakes and Chicken and Wild Rice Soup to homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches and Liberty Swirl slushes (review coming soon!), this spot is a Disney Snack Superstar these days.

However, it’s the Waffle Sandwiches that are truly putting Sleepy Hollow on the map! Included in the list are a breakfast sandwich; a ham, proscuitto, and swiss sandwich, a spicy chicken sandwich, and this outstanding Fruit and Nutella sandwich!

Nutella Waffle Sandwich With Fruit

I couldn’t wait to get my first taste of this sweet waffle sandwich. Pairing trendy Nutella — a chocolate hazelnut spread that I became addicted to when I was working overseas (try it with peanut butter!!) — with gorgeous berries bananas and smooshing it all into a giant Belgian waffle is clearly a [Read more…]