What’s New Around Walt Disney World: March 3, 2015

We’re taking a quick trip around all four Disney World Parks and then making stops at several Resorts, where a lot of food news seems to be taking place as of late!

But we’re starting our “World”-wide tour at Downtown Disney, and taking a peek at how things are shaping up as the transition towards “Disney Springs” continues on. And we may even take a sneak peek at something coming to our friends in Disneyland on the west coast.

Disney Springs mural

Disney Springs mural

So, are you ready to see What’s New? Good! Because in the words of Peter Pan, “Here we GOOOOOOO…”

DOWNTOWN DISNEY

Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC

Okay, so we’ve mentioned it a couple of times recently, but that’s because we’re happy that BabyCakes has a new home in Downtown Disney! Located at The Landing of what will be Disney Springs, Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC has been up and running since 1 pm on Sunday, February 22nd.

Erin McKenna's Bakery storefront

Erin McKenna’s Bakery storefront

Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC

Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC

Erin McKenna

Erin McKenna

Samoa Donut

Samoa Donut

Featuring gluten-free and vegan baked goods, this is great news for guests on some dietary restrictions. Read our opening day review here!

Flour and Sugar

Speaking of baked goods, Flour and Sugar is a little kiosk that can be found on the newly opened Marketplace Causeway. It sells pre-packaged cookies inspired by various cities in the Sunshine State.

Flour and Sugar

Flour and Sugar

We tried the Siesta Key Key Lime S’more, and we’ll have a review here for you soon!

Key Lime S'more

Key Lime S’more

Disney Springs Construction

All in all, things really seem to be picking up speed in Downtown Disney with the Causeway completed, allowing an easy stroll from spots around T-Rex to the Rainforest Cafe side at the Marketplace.

The Marketplace Causeway

The Marketplace Causeway

Light post on The Marketplace Causeway

Light post on The Marketplace Causeway

Disney Springs sign

Disney Springs sign

We’ll be sure to take a little tour along the path when we’re back with our Flour and Sugar review! The next thing we have our eyes on? Look for [Read more…]

Celebrate National Margarita Day Tomorrow, Walt Disney World Style!

We are happy to start a little early celebrating National Margarita Day tomorrow, February 22! Now, this is a holiday I can get behind!!!

If you’ve been here for any amount of time at all, then you know I lurve a good Margarita. (If you’re new here at DFB — welcome…and FYI, I love margaritas!) And some of my very favorites can be found right at Walt Disney World.

Grab some limes and tequila and let’s take a look at our must-drink margs!

Avocado Margarita at La Cava del Tequila

The AguacateAvocado Margarita — from La Cava del Tequila has been one of my very favorites from the first time I sampled it!

It’s a wonderful, made-to-order concoction that blends Avocado, Lime Juice, White Tequila, and Melon Liqueur for a flavor that’s like no other!

Avocado Margarita

Avocado Margarita

My favorite thing about this drink is the perfect balance of the creamy consistency with a sweet flavor — not to mention the tequila :-). A little Agave Nectar and the liqueur balance the flavors nicely.

And thanks to an awesome reader, you and I can even make this one at home today with this recipe, and celebrate this holiday in style!

Blood Orange Margarita at Flying Fish Cafe

Blood Orange is one of my favorite flavors. After all, with the complex, less sweet, almost bitter taste it imparts, it’s a little more interesting than plain old orange…orange.

And it’s especially delicious when paired with other flavors in a margarita. We’ve enjoyed versions of this festive cocktail at San Angel Inn Ristorante, but my favorite one can be found at Flying Fish Cafe.

Blood Orange Margarita

Blood Orange Margarita

If you’re anything like me, if you order this, it’ll be gone pretty quickly! SO good!

Italian Margarita at Via Napoli

One thing that you can count on at Disney when it comes to food and drink is a fun, fusion approach to some of your favorites. Case in point: the Italian Margarita in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion!

I first discovered this delicious drink at Via Napoli, the Italy Pavilion’s fantastic spot for pizza.

Italian Margarita

Italian Margarita

But it’s proven to be so popular, it’s also been available at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in recent years! And fortunately, you can still order it at Italy’s Gelato Stand.

Italian Margarita at the Food and Wine Festival's Italy Booth!

Italian Margarita at the Food and Wine Festival’s Italy Booth!

Flavored with a smooth combination of [Read more…]

Guest Review: Maya Grill at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

It’s an out-of-the-way restaurant that you might have overlooked, so join guest author Rebecca Dolan with a review of Maya Grill at the Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World!

Maya Grill has never been high on my priority list. Even after all these years of Disney trips, I always figured why go to Maya Grill when I can get my Mexican fix at Epcot’s San Angel Inn? Well, I finally broke down and took the plunge, and San Angel is still the way to go.

Atmosphere

As the signature restaurant of the Spanish-colonial inspired Coronado Springs Resort, Maya Grill evokes the cities of the ancient Maya. You’ll find it towards the back of the main building – just head left off the entryway and continue past the Pepper Market.

Maya Grill Sign

The restaurant is centered on a stylized Maya pyramid, under which bubbles a fountain.

Tables around Pyramid

Tables around Pyramid

The walls are decorated with artistic representations of Maya life. Try to get a table near one of the large windows overlooking the hotel’s central lagoon.

Dining Area

Dining Area

Wall Art

Wall Art

Tables by the window could offer a view

Tables by the window could offer a view

I was surprised to encounter a wait when I arrived at the hostess desk, as Maya Grill isn’t exactly one of Disney World’s most in-demand restaurants. Luckily, I’d made a reservation, despite assuming I wouldn’t need one. So, you might find it worthwhile to make one just in case.

Once seated, my companions and I found the restaurant too loud for our taste. The live entertainment, a gentleman singing and playing the guitar with other canned instruments, was deafening and we strained to hear our conversation. So, this is not the place to go for a quiet evening.

Eats

As was expected, the meal started with a basket of chips and salsa. The chips were thick and sturdy, perfect for getting a big scoop of dip without any breakage.

Chips and salsa while you peruse the menu

Chips and salsa while you peruse the menu

The menu consists of pretty typical Mexican fare, like nachos, tacos, chimichangas, and fajitas. There’s a small but clearly marked vegetarian section, and the abundant gluten free options were interspersed but highlighted throughout the whole menu. My non-spicy-food-eating grandmother appreciated the “North of the Border” section of the menu, which offered simpler fare.

Menu

Menu

First up was the queso fundido appetizer, served with flour tortillas for scooping. Unlike the liquid-y chile con queso you’re probably used to, queso fundido is more like the middle of a mozzarella stick: stringy, gooey and most easily eaten with a fork or plucked with a bit of tortilla. Though a bit salty, it’s hard to go wrong with a big bowl of cheese.

Queso fundito and accompanying tortillas for scooping

Queso fundito and accompanying tortillas for scooping

Next were orders of [Read more…]

News! Coronado Springs’ Pepper Market to Test Breakfast and Lunch Buffet

It’s been recently noted over on WDW For Grownups that the innovative food court, the Pepper Market, at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort will test a buffet during its breakfast and lunch hours.

The Pepper Market buffet “test” will take place December 4, 2011 – January 4, 2012 at a cost of $14.99 for adults and $8.99 for kids for the morning meal [Read more…]

Review: Maya Grill at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Hidden in Coronado Springs Resort’s El Centro, between the lobby and the Casitas section of the resort, Maya Grill offers a Latin American menu in the midst of Mayan architecture.

Atmosphere

You really do feel like you’re at the entrance to a Mayan pyramid when dining in this restaurant, and the decor — with soaring ceilings and moody lighting — is stunning. But many folks shy away from Maya Grill due to its distance from…well…just about everything.

Maya Grill sign

We arrived without a reservation, and although I could see many empty tables, we were told there would be a 45-minute wait. This was disturbing, since I think of Maya Grill to be one of the lesser-populated restaurants in Disney World. But since we were already staying at Coronado Springs (and since we had to eat here anyway so that we could cover it on the blog), we just told the hostess that we’d come back in 45 minutes, and spent the time catching up on work in our room.

When we returned, she’d [Read more…]

Fancy Flights: Margaritas, Whiskey, and Beer, Oh My!

When most people hear the word “flight” when referring to a menu — they automatically think “wine flight.” Well, while Disney restaurants have some spectacular wine flights (Sanaa…yum!), there are also plenty of other kinds of flights that I can recommend you order up post haste on your next visit! :-)

Margarita Flight

This beautiful little tray of heaven (as I like to refer to it) sports five gorgeous mini-margaritas. On my last visit, we were treated to Lime, Pineapple, Hibiscus, Jalapeno, and Mango Blueberry flavors on the tray, but the tequila geniuses that have taken over the creation of the bar menus at Disney’s Mexican food joints are always dreaming up new and inventive options. My favorites? Lime, Mango Blueberry, and Pineapple. But that Jalapeno will definitely knock your socks off with flavor.

Margarita Flight

You can get these at most of Disney’s Mexican food locations, including Maya Grill and Rix Lounge at [Read more…]

Review: Margaritas at Epcot’s La Cava del Tequila

You guys know how much I love Epcot’s new tequila bar, La Cava del Tequila. Located in the pyramid of Epcot’s Mexico pavilion, the Cava opened in August 2009 and has been a huge success!

The interior of this place is so cozy; it’s one of those hidden Walt Disney World gems that you just cherish once you find it. Heavy, painted furniture sits on large, rough tile. And the mural along the wall depicts [Read more…]

Dining In Disney World With Kids: Part 1

Introducing the Disney Food Blog Dining in Disney World With Kids two-part series! Thanks to Zannaland for guest blogging Part 1, where she includes a few of her favorite family secrets. And stay tuned for tomorrow’s Part 2 in the series, where Disney World Moms Panelists determine the best dining locations for kids of certain ages. There are some very informative and surprising ideas that I think you’ll enjoy!

Parent or not, the wonderful dining options and experiences for kids at Disney World are no secret. But what if you don’t want to spend your entire vacation doing character meals? (Not that there’s anything wrong with those — they offer some of the best food on property!) What I’d like to share are some of the dining secrets we’ve discovered over the years as the best options for something different. They may just become regular favorites for your family!

Best Location For a Nap

    maya

  • Maya Grill - This restaurant became a favorite of ours during a stay at Coronado Springs Resort when we were unable to secure a breakfast reservation anywhere else. We had been to Maya Grill for dinner on its opening night, but hadn’t tried it for breakfast. We were so pleasantly surprised by the food as well as the fact that it was not crowded at all. It was nice to enjoy a peaceful, leisurely breakfast for a change. For that reason, it makes it a great location for a stroller-bound child to enjoy a nap without interruption. The location also makes for some lovely scenery as you walk off your meal.
  • Columbia Harbor House - Magic Kingdom’s hustle and bustle excitement is sometimes too much for the littlest guests, and all the over-stimulation leads to not wanting to nap at all. Columbia Harbor House is a respite from that stimulation. The dark paneling and dimly lit interior ensure no distractions for tired kids. Even on the hottest of days, it’s always cool and calm inside. Sometimes, the second floor is open for even more secluded dining. Once they wake up, there are some great kids’ favorites here like Mac & Cheese and Chicken Nuggets.

Best Entertainment

    sanaa

  • Sanaa - Animals are perhaps the most engaging entertainment for little kids. Young kids are just learning different animals’ names and habitats, but even older kids will be fascinated by the on-going show happening just outside the dining room windows at Sanaa, located in Disney’s Kidani Village in Animal Kingdom
    Lodge. The best part is the show is completely unpredictable and different each time you visit. Your server is also able to tell you more about the animals as well as the unique cooking options offered at Sanaa, making it a great learning experience for all.
  • Germany’s Biergarten - One of my fondest childhood memories at Disney World is seeing the German Ocktoberfest show in Epcot’s World Showcase for the first time. More than just the great music and singing, guests are invited onto the dance floor to show off their best polka moves. Wonderful memories and photo opportunities are to be had here watching kids dance with parents and grandparents. It’s also an easy-to-walk-in location if you don’t have reservations.

Best Kids’ Activities

  • Olivia’s - Disney Food Blog’s recent entry about Olivia’s reminded me of this favorite spot, located at Disney’s Old Key West Resort. Amazing food and scenery aside, Olivia’s offers a special treat for all children – Olivia’s Artist of the Day. Upon arrival, kids are given a coloring sheet and crayons to color however they wish. Then they turn in their masterpieces, and twice a day – morning and evening – cast members choose an Artist of the Day. The chosen artwork is displayed at the front hostess stand, and the winning child gets to ring a bell in celebration. Despite the sibling rivalry when my son was chosen first, both kids were chosen during our stay and it made for quite the memorable experience.
  • Whispering Canyon Cafe Warnings

    Whispering Canyon Cafe Warnings

    Whispering Canyon Cafe - This is perhaps not a real secret to many Disney World fans, but I couldn’t pass up talking about it. Whispering Canyon Cafe offers some of the best entertainment around, and there really isn’t a set show at all! Here, your servers are the entertainment, often yelling back and forth to each other and joking around. For even more fun, ask for ketchup. (If you’re shy, sit back and wait for someone else to ask for it; I’ve never been there when someone hasn’t asked for ketchup, and the fun ensues.) There are also several times when kids can engage in pony races using wooden hobby horses. There is definitely no shortage of entertainment for kids and adults here.

Best Disney World Restaurants When You Don’t Have A Reservation!

It’s happened to all of us — you need some eats and have no advanced dining reservation (ADR) for a meal at Disney World. No matter if it’s on purpose or by accident, sometimes those nights you have to “wing it” can end in a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter from the Hess Station if you’re not prepared (speaking from experience!). DisneyFoodBlog readers have pulled together their suggestions for the best Disney World restaurants they count on when they’re starving and minus a reservation (thanks again for everyone who contributed)! Quick reminder, though, when Disney World’s busy, you’re probably going to have a wait everywhere. These might get you in a little quicker…

Best Disney World Restaurants for When You Don't Have a Reservation

Marrakesh
Restaurant Marrakesh, Morocco, Epcot’s World Showcase
Coming in strong at the top is Restaurant Marrakesh, serving authentic African Mediterranean dishes in a beautiful setting. Wind through Morocco’s medina to the back of the pavilion to find the small door of the restaurant. The King of Morocco sent his own artisans and tile-workers to create the Morocco pavilion, and Marrakesh’s decor is stunning. (Even if you’re not dining there, head in to take a picture or two!)

Marrakesh Dining Room

Marrakesh Dining Room

Marrakesh Decor

Marrakesh Decor

The Dinner Menu at Marrakesh includes plenty of couscous, the National dish of Morocco, along with chicken, mussels, and other authentic cuisine.

Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic Salmon

Sampler Platter

Sampler Platter

For more food photos, just visit the umbrella’d podium at the front of the Morocco pavilion; they’ve set up a cast member with a large photo album of food pictures of the dishes at Restaurant Marrakesh in hopes of driving more traffic to the establishment.

Bonus: There’s some great entertainment — belly dancers! — at Restaurant Marrakesh!

Biergarten, Germany Pavilion, Epcot’s World Showcase
Biergarten in Epcot’s Germany was a shock to me when it came in at the number two spot for places to go without an ADR (good to know that I can head over there anytime!)! Every review I’ve seen of Biergarten has been positive, and with family-style seating (meaning you’ll probably be seated at a long table with one or two other parties) and some fantastic entertainment, the restaurant offers great opportunity for fun.

Celebrating With Steins!

Celebrating With Steins!

Christmas Entertainment

Christmas Entertainment

Dancing the Night Away

Dancing the Night Away

Riiiiiiiicolaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Riiiiiiiicolaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Not sure the menu will agree with you? Biergarten is a buffet, which means there’s something for everyone! Lots of spaetzel, wurst, pretzel, and sauerkraut, but there’s mac n cheese, too, just in case!

Famous Pretzel Bread Rolls

Famous Pretzel Bread Rolls

Wurst and More

Wurst and More

Carving Board

Carving Board

Maya Grill, Coronado Springs Resort
Maya Grill came in a distant third in the poll, but it was mentioned several times and deserved a spot in the blog. This restaurant is located in Coronado Springs Resort and serves dishes representative of the resort’s southwestern USA and northern Mexico theme.

Maya Grill

Maya Grill

As a general rule, restaurants at Disney’s moderate-level and Disney Vacation Club resorts don’t fill up as fast as the theme park and regular resort restaurants, so these are good spots to stop for an unplanned meal.

Other Suggestions
While these three were the most-suggested, there were several others mentioned that you should keep in the back of your mind as “just-in-case” locations. Thanks again to everyone who contributed ideas!:

Captain’s Grille, Yacht Club Resort
Olivia’s, Old Key West Resort
Rainforest Cafe, Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Kona Cafe, Polynesian Resort
San Angel Inn, Epcot’s World Showcase, Mexico
Yak and Yeti, Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Turf Club, Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa
Mama Melrose, Disney’s Hollywood Studios Theme Park
Nine Dragons, Epcot’s World Showcase, China
Trails End, Fort Wilderness Resort
Grand Floridian Cafe, Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
ESPN Zone, Disney’s Boardwalk
Big River Grille and Brewing Works, Disney’s Boardwalk
Fulton’s Crab House, Downtown Disney
Raglan Road, Downtown Disney
The Plaza Restaurant, Magic Kingdom Theme Park

Let me know your thoughts (and YOUR top spots for grabbing an unplanned meal!) via facebook, twitter, or email!

Check out the other “Best Disney World Restaurants” in our series!