Full Review: Gaston’s Tavern in New Fantasyland

While visiting the Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland in Walt Disney World last week, I knew I had to pay a visit to the new Gaston’s Tavern!

Gaston's Tavern

This tribute to the mighty Gaston from Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast features everything you’d expect, from a rustic atmosphere to antler-ific decor from top to bottom.

While it’s not getting as much attention as the new table-service restaurant, Be Our Guest Restaurant, in New Fantasyland, it’s not to be passed over. Debuting brand new, unique eats, Gaston’s is a must-do on your next Magic Kingdom visit…

Atmosphere

While it’s a counter-service joint offering mostly snacks along with the newly introduced Pork Shank, Gaston’s showcases some unique dining areas once you grab your grub.

Gaston's Tavern Ordering Area

If you turn to your right after getting your food, you’ll find a main dining room complete with a giant portrait of Gaston. The room sports wooden tables and stools, a massive fireplace, and even Gaston’s giant chair, which is perfect for pictures.

Gaston's Tavern main dining room

Random Guy in Gaston's Chair

Over in the corner is this great little seating area that’s separated a bit from everything else. This circular spot is crowned with a chandelier of antlers, of course!

Gaston's Tavern side room off of main dining room

If you turn to your left after getting your food, you’ll find a smaller dining room. This one also holds plenty of wooden tables and stools for seating, and also features a dart game — in progress — between Gaston and [Read more…]

New Fantasyland Grand Opening Eats and Treats

If you’ve been following my twitter, instagram, and facebook streams, you’ve been inundated with photos and reports from this week’s New Fantasyland Grand Opening!

And, of course, I was busy trying all of the goodies you can now find in New Fantasyland! Let’s take a peek…

New Fantasyland Cupcakes

During this Grand Opening weekend, guests will be able to find lots of fun eats, treats, and memory-making merch to indulge in. A couple of my favorites? These New Fantasyland cupcakes!

These can be found at Big Top Treats and Main Street Confectionery.

Find these at Main Street Bakery!

Gaston’s Tavern

Over at Gaston’s Tavern, they’re open for business serving up Pork Shanks, Le Fou’s Brew, and cinnamon rolls among other eats.

LeFou's Brew

Gaston's Tavern Cinnamon Roll -- with extra icing

And commemorate your visit with one of these fun Gaston t-shirts! [Read more…]

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…]