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…]

Review: Lunch at Flo’s V-8 Cafe in Disney California Adventure

We are back in Disneyland today with another fun look at Flo’s V-8 Cafe in Disney California Adventure!

Flo's V-8 Cafe in Disney California Adventure's Cars Land

Flo’s V-8 Cafe in Disney California Adventure’s Cars Land

This diner is a throwback to all that was good and cool about eating while on the Great American Roadtrip, when Route 66 was in its heyday. And since it opened, Flo’s has quickly become a favorite for its incredible themeing and terrific eats.

While breakfast is phasing out at Flo’s, we recently had the chance to take in lunch here as well, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it! Read on for all the details and lots of pics…

Atmosphere

Visiting Flo’s anytime of the day is a treat, because there’s just so much rich detail to experience. But we especially love the views at night, when the whole place is decked out in neon lights.

Flo's V-8 Cafe in Disney California Adventure

Flo’s V-8 Cafe in Disney California Adventure

There’s some fun lighting inside, too! The entrance, which is a rotunda of sorts, features soft lights that change colors. I caught this pic when the room was decked out in bubble gum pink. Check out the cool chandelier!

Period Chandelier

Period Chandelier

One thing to note about Flo’s — it’s enormous! And the seating areas all have different themeing, so be sure to schedule a little extra time for this lunch stop if checking out incredible Disney detail is something that you enjoy.

The restaurant is actually much larger than it looks from the outside. That’s because part of the seating area is themed as a car clinic — both inside and out. Here’s the outside view.

Ornament Valley Mechanical Clinic

Ornament Valley Mechanical Clinic

And here’s the inside!

Mixed Seating

Mixed Seating in the Mechanical Clinic

Don’t you love the X-ray machine? It’s one of my favorite imagineering touches.

Diagnostic Machine

Diagnostic Machine

Much of the front seating section is decorated with touches that are a throwback to the 1950s, and a lot of the memorabilia centers around Flo — a member of the illustrious Motorama Girls.

The story goes that Flo gave up her glamorous career to settle down in Radiator Springs, where she opened up the coolest diner, ever.

I Love These Booths!

I Love These Booths! Check out the headrests!

The Mechanic Room is a tribute to Doc Hudson’s glory days as a championship racer. With rich details like dark wood and leather-esque booths, it has a more [Read more…]

Disney Recipe: Veggie Tater Bake from Flo’s V-8 Cafe in Disney California Adventure (A Vegetarian Recipe!)

It’s always a good idea to have a vegetarian meal or two tucked into your recipe box, don’t you think? And if Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie are your thing, you’ve gotta try this veggie version!

Flo's V-8 Cafe in Disney California Adventure

Flo’s V-8 Cafe in Disney California Adventure

Offered at Flo’s V-8 Cafe in Disney California Adventure’s Cars Land, Flo’s Veggie Tater Bake has been delighting herbivores and carnivores alike since the restaurant first opened two years ago!

Veggie Tater Bake

Veggie Tater Bake

Whether you’re looking for fresh ideas for Meatless Mondays or Fridays during Lent, or you have special friends you’d like to impress with your vegetarian cooking skills, we definitely think you should give this hearty casserole a try!

Veggie Tater Bake

Flo’s V-8 Cafe, Disney California Adventure
Serves 6

Ingredients: [Read more…]

Guest Review: Ten Everyday Eats That Just Taste Better At Disney

Welcome guest author Michelle R.! She’s sharing her thoughts on everyday food that’s just better in Walt Disney World.

food tastes better at disney

Anyone who has ever flown long distances is familiar with jet lag. The time zone adjustment can take a few days or even weeks for mind and body to work out. I’ve discovered a little known vacation malady known as food lag. It’s similar to jet lag but normally occurs upon arrival home after a vacation. Days or weeks can go by before normal home food is appealing again.

Ten Normal Foods That Just Taste Better At Disney

While on vacation, meals are enjoyed in nice restaurants under relaxed or exciting circumstances. Throw Disney in the mix and you can get some serious food lag following your trip. The most ordinary foods taste much better when prepared and served at Disney parks and hotels.

I’ve listed 10 and all of them were so delicious, I couldn’t eat them for weeks after coming home.

Hot Dogs

While waiting for a parade to start, we grabbed a hot dog at Casey’s Corner on Main Street USA and split it. It was the best half hot dog I’ve ever eaten. The cheese, deep orange and flavorful, was in the middle of the meat and the bun soft and fresh. It was hot without burning and frankly, the most delicious hot dog I’ve ever had before or since.

Hot Dog and Fries from Casey’s!

Turkey Legs

If you’ve ever had to fight relatives at Thanksgiving for the turkey leg, go ahead and give it up now. Head to Disney and grab a turkey leg. Serving over 1.6 million drumsticks a year, there is plenty to go around and are they ever delicious!

Turkey Leg at Disney

Waffles

With a plethora of Waffle Houses and IHOPS in every town across America, you’d think eating waffles at Disney wouldn’t be a big deal.

Is it the extra thickness or the fact they’re shaped like Mickey heads? Is it the generous supply of butter and real maple syrup? I’m not sure, but waffles at Disney absolutely spoiled me for home waffles for several months following our last trip.

Mickey Waffle with Butter!

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are good just about anywhere, especially Grandma’s house. But again, Disney mashed potatoes are extraordinary.

Whether you’re at Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Boma, Disney chefs seem to bring a little extra fluff and flavor to this ordinary food.

Mashed Potatoes at Liberty Tree Tavern

Fish and Chips

All kids and many adults like fish sticks; but they love fried fish at Disney. Epcot’s Rose & Crown Pub serves the very best although folks say that Columbia Harbour House in the Magic Kingdom is every bit as good.

Again, wherever you are in Disney, the fish and chips are going to be good.

Fish and Chips from Epcot’s Yorkshire County Fish Shop

Pizza

Mama Melrose’s in Disney’s Hollywood Studios serves a wonderful brick oven baked pizza in a homey atmosphere. Followed by Fantasmic’s display of fireworks, water and music, you’ll be convinced no pizza could ever top the one you had just before the show.

Carne d’Italia Flatbread

Lemon Ice

Disney sells a prepackaged lemon ice that can be bought at almost any convenience store in the country, yet for some mysterious reason, this same lemon ice that quenches thirst and refreshes is 10 times more delicious within the confines of Disney.

Frozen Strawberry Lemonade

So far I’ve covered six ordinary foods and one refreshing treat, but I’ve saved room for desserts. Dessert at Disney is [Read more…]

Review: Crossroads at House of Blues at Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney

So the big news from last week was the opening of a brand new counter service spot at Downtown Disney’s House Of Blues — the Smokehouse!

While we’ll be sure to stop by from time to time, it’s been a while since we reviewed the main house here as well! Let’s check out the dining room at Crossroads at House of Blues at Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney for lunch.

We were surprised by the quality of food on our first visit. While just about everything was good, the classic Buffalo Chicken Wings and the White Chocolate Bread Pudding were the real standouts.

But since our last visit, House of Blues has partnered with celebrity chef Aarón Sánchez to completely overhaul the food offerings. While the emphasis at House of Blues is still on live music, the new Crossroads menu has taken the previously Southern-tinged menu in a slightly different direction.

Atmosphere

As I mentioned, if you haven’t been to House of Blues since the Crossroads menu came to the Walt Disney World location, you won’t find the surroundings to be much different than before. The menu didn’t coincide with a revamp of the restaurant itself.

In Blues We Trust!

Funky, rustic, slightly dark, and whimsical…those are the words that come to mind. You’re supposed to feel as though you happened upon House of Blues on some country road while traveling through the Deep South. And they succeed with transporting you.

Folk Art Outside

Like other Downtown Disney restaurants, House of Blues features multiple bars. The outside bar is a great spot to grab a drink and hang out with friends before or after a performance. It features “hand-lettered” menus and tole painting, as well as brackets and other finishes that appear to have been salvaged and repurposed.

Outdoor Bar

Next to Crossroads Restaurant, you’ll find the Club, which is the main performance venue for House of Blues. The hall holds up to 2,000 guests, and draws top-name talent regularly. It’s a great place to see a show if you haven’t had the chance.

Club — House of Blues Concert Venue

In addition to other performances, House of Blues also offers a regular Gospel Brunch. Held each Sunday at 10:30 am and 1:00 pm, you can read our review of Kirk Franklin’s Gospel Brunch in Disneyland’s Downtown Disney District here.

Gospel Brunch Information

But, snazzy musical performances would have to wait for another day. We were here for lunch, and we were hungry.

We made our way into the restaurant and were greeted with more folk art. At the hostess stand, you get a healthy dose of this interesting fusion. Gothic arches and cherubim call to mind a place of worship.

Entrance

Seating is nothing fancy — just utilitarian wooden chairs and tables.

Seating

Even booths are wooden. Nothing cozy here in the way of seating, but the booths are [Read more…]

Guest Review: Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in the Magic Kingdom

Join me in welcoming guest author Katie McFarland Roth with a review of Cosmic Ray’s – a futuristic eatery in the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland. Enjoy!

Atmosphere

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café is a great counter-service option available in the Magic Kingdom. The portions are heaping and the food is pretty good (for quick-service).

In general, Cosmic Ray’s is a pretty chaotic place to eat. There are always people zooming in and out; and trying to get to the toppings bar with your tray of food is sometimes more dangerous than when Simba was running with the wildebeests.

Word of advice: if you’re traveling in a party with more than 1 person, send 1 person off to find a table for everyone!

Cosmic Ray's Sign

It can be nuts trying to find a place to sit during busy mealtime hours. Almost as nuts-y as trying to find the entrance doors to this restaurant!

Cosmic Ray's Seating -- and Sonny Eclipse!

Something new to me was the graffiti wall in the restaurant that patrons liked writing their hometowns on! I wonder if they start fresh every day? Maybe every hour with the traffic this place gets!

Graffiti "Wall" ...with very surprised photo subject!

Eats

There are three different areas, or “bays,” which people can order from; Chicken (#1), Burgers (#2), and Sandwiches (#3).

Ordering Area at Cosmic Rays

There aren’t very many main dish options at each station (4-5), but considering there are [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…]

Review: Chef Mickey’s Dinner at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort

It has been too long since I’ve taken a trip to Chef Mickey’s in Disney World’s Contemporary Resort!

We’ve shared with you our review of their breakfast buffet. But today, we’re heading there to see what’s new for dinner!

When many people think about a Disney character dining experience”, they immediately think of Chef Mickey’s. This one has it all — the Fab Five, a sprawling buffet of family-friendly foods, regular raucous celebrations, and monorails whizzing by.

But in the past, the food has had a reputation for being a little lackluster. Time to see how things are looking these days… . We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started!

Atmosphere

One of the coolest things about Chef Mickey’s is its location. You’ll find this well-known character meal at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Chef Mickey's Sign

This place is a stone’s throw from the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, which makes it a great place to stop and eat before heading into the park, or after a long day of rides and attractions.

Once you enter the hotel’s main floor lobby, take the elevator to the fourth floor. Chef Mickey’s is located on the south end of the concourse, right below where the Disney World monorail enters the building. (You can also arrive at the Contemporary via said monorail, of course — in which case you’d take an escalator down to the 4th floor).

The Grand Canyon Concourse at the Contemporary

Head to the central desk to let the hostess know that your party has arrived. You can’t miss it — Mickey is smiling down with his fork and spoon, ready to greet you!

Central Desk Check-In

If your table isn’t quite ready, you can wait until your party is paged in this comfortable seating area. This spot features a view of Bay Lake and the resort’s pool patio — and offers plenty of room for running off excess energy.

Waiting Area

Before you’re seated, your party will [Read more…]

Walt Disney World Pot Roast Throw Down

What makes for a good pot roast is a very subjective set of criteria in my opinion. What passes for Best! Pot Roast! Ever! for some might just be meh for others.

Dearly departed Sunday Roast at Rose & Crown

So today we are entering this hallowed comfort food ground. We are throwing down the gauntlet to decide, once and for all, where to find the BEST Pot Roast in all of Disney World! See what you think, and be ready to tell us all about your favorite!

50s Prime Time Cafe

Who makes it better than Mom? We have to kick off this homage to pot roast with a trip to 50s Prime Time Cafe!

The atmosphere here is pure 1950s sitcom kitsch, and servers are your cousins, demanding that you behave like the nice young person you were raised to be. That means NO elbows on the tables, and you had BETTER know the color of that soap if you go to the bathroom.

50s Prime Time Sign

To be sure, Mom’s Old-Fashioned Pot Roast is a reader favorite. This one is slow-cooked until there’s no need for a knife, and served on a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes. Smothered in a rich gravy, the roast is topped with carrots, celery, and onions for some good nutrition. And you best eat all your veggies!

Mom's Old-Fashioned Pot Roast

A way cool thing about the pot roast at 50s Prime Time is that you can [Read more…]