Review: Disneyland’s Lunar New Year Food Booths!

The Lunar New Year event at Disneyland is a multicultural celebration for the Year of the Dog — and it’s in full swing! The 2018 Lunar New Year events include three tasty food booths, plus the return of a nighttime water show called Hurry Home, the Lucky Wishing Wall (add your own wish!), and Mulan’s Lunar New Year Processional.

Lunar New Year Decor

Lunar New Year Decor

[Read more…]

Review: Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast Dinner at Garden Grill in Epcot

Today, we’re sharing with you our latest visit to Garden Grill Restaurant for Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast Dinner!

Garden Grill is basically one of my favorite character meals. First, it’s a character meal with really great interaction. And while Chip ‘n’ Dale are the headliners, here, you also get to hang out with Farmer Mickey and Pluto!

But beyond the characters, we enjoy the unique ambiance that Garden Grill offers. If you’ve never visited the restaurant, wait ’til you see what it does! Yes — DOES!

We’ve also had some pretty fantastic meals here. Breakfast is virtually a tradition for my family.

But today, we’re visiting in the evening. We’ve enjoyed past dinners here. Let’s see if the trend continues.

Atmosphere

Looking for Garden Grill Restaurant? Hang a right after Spaceship Earth and head toward The Land Pavilion in Future World West.

The Land Pavilion

The Land Pavilion

Walkways line the perimeter walls inside the building and lead you down to the pavilion’s three levels, which host The Circle of Life film on the right, and Living with the Land, Soarin’, and Sunshine Seasons (one of our favorite counter service spots) on the bottom. There’s also an elevator if you’d prefer it to walking.

The Land Ceiling

The Land Ceiling

You’ll find the Garden Grill directly across from the entrance.

Garden Grill Sign

Garden Grill Sign

And here’s where we talk about what Garden Grill does: it rotates. In fact, it’s the only restaurant in Orlando — and only one of a handful in the world — that spins.

Now, just in case the thought of a rotating restaurant doesn’t sound all that appetizing, we promise you that Garden Grill spins at a snail’s pace. We aren’t talking spinning teacups here.

Garden Grill Wide View

Garden Grill Wide View

Why does it spin? Well, there’s more than one way to check out the attractions within Living with the Land! As the restaurant rotates, guests are treated to scenes from the ride. This mural acts as sort of a gateway.

Garden Grill Mural

Garden Grill Mural

You’ll visit a farmhouse — or see it from above, anyway. I think this scene is particularly fun, because you get to look inside one of the windows from this vantage point!

Farmhouse Scene in Living with the Land

Farmhouse Scene in Living with the Land

You’ll also see extremes in landscapes. As you view a rainforest scene, and watch it morph into a desert scene as you travel.

Rainforest

Rainforest

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill

The Desert

Your vehicle for sightseeing is your table, of course.

Tables are arranged in a sort of stadium seating pattern on two levels around the restaurant. Top tier tables are your garden variety rectangular tables, like you see here.

Table and Seating

Table and Seating

On the lower level, semi-circular booths face out, giving you the best view of the scenes you pass.

Garden Grill booth

Garden Grill booth

Larger Booth -- Family Side

Larger Booth — Family Side

And did you notice? Mickey makes an appearance before your meal ever starts! :-D

Mickey Table Setting :)

Mickey Table Setting :)

And that brings me to Reason Number Two that you might want to visit Garden Grill: the characters. Let’s check ‘em out.

Characters

One of my top reasons for visiting Garden Grill is the character interaction. In fact, it’s one of my Top Two Favorite Character Meals in Walt Disney World! Of course, I love when I can see Mickey during a character meet and greet. And here, he’s dressed in his farmer finest.

Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse

Mickey is joined by his faithful pup sidekick, Pluto.

Pluto

Pluto

But this is, after all, Chip ‘n’ Dale’s gig. So you’re sure to see the playful pair as you enjoy your dinner.

Chip

Chip

Sad Dale

Sad Dale

And that’s one of the coolest things about Garden Grill — it’s not just the stellar character interaction, but the amount of interaction you get. The restaurant is fairly small in size, so that means you normally have the chance to visit with characters more than once during your meal.

Eats

So we’ve talked about the fact that Garden Grill rotates, thus making it something kinda special. And, of course, any day that you can share your meal with Chip ‘n’ Dale and Friends is gonna be a good one.

But how about the food? Well, the good news is — that’s pretty great, too.

Garden Grill serves its meals family style, meaning that shareable platters are brought to the table, and you can ask for more of anything you like. That also means that everyone dining has the choice of a non-alcoholic beverage as part of the prix fixe price of his or her meal. But if you’d like, you can also order from a list of special drinks, including cocktails, mocktails, beer, and wine.

Special Drinks Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Special Drinks Menu — Click to Enlarge

Wine Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Wine Menu — Click to Enlarge

You don’t really choose what you’re getting at Garden Grill (unless you have special dietary needs; talk to your server in that case). The offerings are pretty much standard. You’ll start with warm Dinner Rolls, served with a side of Whipped Butter.

Rolls with Whipped Butter

Rolls with Whipped Butter

Next comes the Harvest-Inspired Farmer’s Salad. During our visit, the salad included greens, hard boiled egg, radishes, and grape tomatoes. It’s lightly dressed with a creamy dressing.

Harvest-Inspired Farmer's Salad

Harvest-Inspired Farmer’s Salad

The main course is the combination platter with sliced Homestyle Pot Roast, sliced Turkey Breast, and Italian Sausage served with sautéed Peppers and Onions. Sides on the platter include Mashed Potatoes and Bacon and Leek Stuffing.

The Italian Sausage is new, having replaced the previously served Sustainable Fish of the Day.

Platter of Meats, Mashed Potatoes, Dressing, and Gravy

Platter of Meats, Mashed Potatoes, Dressing, and Gravy

But that’s not all. You get additional veggie sides, like Green Beans and Sweet Potatoes, plus Macaroni and Cheese.

Platter of Sides -- Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, and Sweet Potato Fries

Platter of Sides — Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, and Sweet Potato Fries

For dessert, it’s a shareable Short Cake topped with Fruit Compote and Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream.

Short Cake

Short Cake

Some folks may call this a cobbler. Whatever name you give it, the rich cake and super saucy berry topping is a winner with everyone at the table.

Nosh or Not?

You’ll enjoy Garden Grill if:

  • You’re looking for a great character meal that combines great food, MICKEY, and more fun aspects
  • You have a nostalgic affinity for Epcot (Living with the Land!!!)
  • You’re touring Epcot with small children. The rest of the table service restaurants in Epcot can be ho hum for little kids.

You may want to skip Garden Grill if:

  • You’ve got a busy touring day and would rather stick to counter service
  • You’re in an adults-only party and nobody much cares about characters

Overall

After lots of visits, I still love Garden Grill Restaurant.

I think I’ve laid out a pretty convincing argument. When you visit Garden Grill, you’re getting a three-way combo of unique environment, great characters, and excellent (and plentiful) food. And when it comes to characters and kids, I personally lean toward a character meal where the food comes to you, because it’s so much easier to juggle kids, characters, and food when you don’t have to worry about visiting a buffet.

But even beyond the convenience of Garden Grill, the characters, and the novelty of the place, I think this place just offers really great food. It may be kind of standard fare, but it’s thoughtfully prepared. And when you’re paying Disney prices, it’s great when you can enjoy a character meal as much for the food as for everything else.

If you haven’t tried it before, book an advance dining reservation for Garden Grill Restaurant. I think you’ll be pleased.

Read Our Review of Garden Grill’s Breakfast Options Here!

Now, I’d love to hear from you! Is Garden Grill Restaurant one of your favorites? Let us know in comments!

Review: Chip N’ Dale’s NEW Harvest Feast Breakfast at Epcot’s Garden Grill

Are you ready to start your day with Chip & Dale (along with a few more Disney pals) at Epcot’s Garden Grill?!

That’s right! Garden Grill, Disney World’s only rotating restaurant, has been serving dinner only for a while now. But on November 8th, TWO new meals joined the lineup: Garden Grill now serves up breakfast AND lunch, in addition to dinner! (This, by the way, brings the total of Character Breakfasts in Epcot to two, with the Norway Pavilion’s Akershus Royal Banquet Hall offering the other option with Princess Storybook Dining. Characters are now at both restaurants for every meal.)

The menu for the new lunch addition nearly duplicates that of Chip ’N’ Dale’s Harvest Feast for dinner. But breakfast is all-new, operating each day from 8:00 to 10:30 am.

We can’t wait to dig in! And we’ve got a few friends who would like to say “Good Morning” to you, too…

Chip

Chip

But let’s take a look around first. And, as always with the Garden Grill, I do mean AROUND… [Read more…]

#OnTheList: ‘Ohana Character Breakfast at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

DisneyFoodBucketList 8-018
This post is part of the DFB #OnTheList series, where we feature eats you’ve GOT to have while you’re at Disney! Let us know what’s on YOUR Disney Food Bucket List @DisneyFoodBlog #OnTheList!

Writing about Disney Food — all of it — well, it’s kinda the point of this blog. But I am never happier than when I can share one of my truly favorite meals with you.

And ‘Ohana’s Best Friends Character Breakfast definitely qualifies! Let’s take a closer look at this experience as we head into the Great Ceremonial House and see why ‘Ohana Breakfast is definitely #OnTheList!

Atmosphere

Recently, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort underwent a lengthy refurbishment. If you haven’t visited the resort in a while, you’ll definitely notice some changes to the lobby and other public areas.

Tiki Statue in Lobby

Tiki Statue in Lobby

With the Resort’s name change (the Polynesian resumed its original, opening day name), we also welcomed a couple of exciting new additions — the Pineapple Lanai and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. [Read more…]

Guest Review: ‘Ohana Character Breakfast at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

While Disney’s Polynesian Resort is undergoing extensive renovations (including Captain Cook’s), it’s still a good time to stop by ‘Ohana for the Best Friends Breakfast featuring the adorable Lilo & mischievous Stitch. Today, guest author Rebecca Elliott reviews her family’s morning meal at Walt Disney World.

‘Ohana, located in Disney’s Polynesian Resort, is an extremely popular dinner venue with overwhelmingly positive reviews. Its all-you-care-to-eat format of delicious Polynesian-inspired dishes and relaxed atmosphere earn it rave reviews from just about everyone that eats there.

But is the character breakfast equally as good? My husband, daughter and I decided to find out!

Atmosphere

The Polynesian is one of Walt Disney World’s original resorts. I remember going to the luau when I was a kid back in the 70s and feeling like I was in another country.

As an adult, I recognize that there’s something decidedly kitschy about it. I half expect to see Elvis a la Blue Hawaii round the corner with Joan Blackman on his arm. The theming is fantastic, and consistent.

Pluto Makes His Way Through the Dining Room

Pluto Makes His Way Through the Dining Room

‘Ohana is on the second level of the lobby, just a stone’s throw away from the monorail. Guests are required to check in at the host stand before entering the restaurant. We found this a little confusing, mostly because there were a lot of excited children swarming the area.

We ended up walking right past the host stand. We were re-directed to the “cousin” in the lobby’s host area who was pleasant and efficient and whisked us to the photo area. (Cast members are called “cousins” to reinforce the feeling that everyone at ‘Ohana is family.)

We had our picture taken in front of a Tiki-inspired hut and waited for our buzzer to go off. When it did a few minutes later, we made our way to the host stand inside the restaurant, where we were greeted warmly by more exceptionally friendly “cousins.”

Baskets of Welcome Bread Await Diners

Baskets of Welcome Bread Await Diners

Eats

On the way to our table, our host gave us helpful information about the service for our meal and tidbits about the open kitchen and some of the menu items.

We were seated at a sunny table near the window with a sweeping view of Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom. (Editor’s Note: Views may be obstructed due to ongoing construction.) Our server quickly greeted us and also took a moment to explain the service style. Breakfast would arrive in a large skillet, with the ever-popular Mickey waffles brought separately. Before scurrying away, she uttered those six magical words, “It’s all you care to eat.

Live Kitchen Elements, Including This Grill, Are a Focal Point

Live Kitchen Elements, Including This Grill, Are a Focal Point

Our server returned with a basket of Hawaiian welcome bread flavored with pineapple and coconut, as well as iced cinnamon bread. Both were delicious.

Welcome Bread with Pineapple and Coconut, and Iced Cinnamon Bread

Welcome Bread with Pineapple and Coconut, and Iced Cinnamon Bread

She also brought ‘Ohana’s famous breakfast beverage – a combination of passion fruit, orange and guava juices, known as P.O.G. I would drink this juice intravenously if I could. It’s heaven.

P.O.G. – Passion Fruit, Orange, and Guava Juice

P.O.G. – Passion Fruit, Orange, and Guava Juice

Next came a fruit plate, with cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, and berries. Poor fruit plate. It barely got touched, because the gigantic skillet of breakfast yumminess arrived, heaped with [Read more…]

Review: Dinner at Garden Grill Restaurant in Disney World’s Epcot

We’re heading back to Epcot’s Future World for dinner at Garden Grill Restaurant!

This is a DFB favorite, and it comes together as Chip ‘n Dale’s Harvest Feast. The dinner features an all-you-care-to-eat meal served Family Style.

If you’ve ever shied away from eating in Future World in favor of the more varied cuisine available in World Showcase, it may be time to give Disney World’s only rotating restaurant a chance.

Please join me, Chip ‘n Dale, Pluto, and the main Mouse himself (MICKEY!) at the Harvest Feast for some food and fun!

Garden Grill Sign

Garden Grill Sign

The Atmosphere

The atmosphere? Well, that depends… You see, the Garden Grill rotates over the various scenes of the Living with the Land attraction, so what you see depends on where in the rotation you are in the moment.

It takes about one hour to make the full rotation, so it’s slow enough that you don’t really notice the feel of it while you are dining — at least, I didn’t. I was too busy enjoying the views!  Take a look…

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill -- The Farmhouse

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill — The Farmhouse

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill -- The Farmhouse

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill — The Farmhouse Dog!

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill -- Rainforest

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill — Rainforest

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Garden Grill Mural

Garden Grill Mural

We enjoyed all of this from our table on the lower level of this two-level restaurant. It’s definitely a score if you are seated on the lower level, which is fashioned with booths as opposed to the chairs and tables on the upper level.

Garden Grill booth

Garden Grill booth

The booths provide more of a “front row seat” experience for the attraction, so it’s worth asking at check-in to see if you can get one. I wasn’t expecting a booth since it was just my husband and me, but several of the booths are divided with drop-leaf tables, allowing for a larger family on one side, and a pair on the other. The drop-leaf, of course, can be raised to accommodate a larger group, if needed.

Larger Booth -- Family Side

Larger Booth — Family Side

Larger Booth -- Side for a pair

Larger Booth — Side for a pair

Of course, the special touches are in full effect here — check out this table setting! Remind you of a certain character?

Mickey Table Setting :)

Mickey Table Setting :)

Speaking of… The one thing with the ability to distract you from the attraction views is… well, it’s actually FOUR things: the Characters!

Here’s Chip striking a pose in front of the Prairie Desert.

Chip strikes a pose

Chip strikes a pose

Pluto stopped by to say “Hello!”

Pluto!

Pluto!

Dale plotted how he might sneak some of our food…

Dale Plotting...

Dale Plotting…

… but I informed him it was people food, and not well-suited for chipmunks. (That makes for a sad chipmunk!)

Sad Dale

Sad Dale

Okay, this next shot is not a shining example of terrific photography ;) . But I hope it conveys that moment of excitement when you first spot THE EARS over a nearby booth (c’mon, you can admit it!), and realize who will be at your table shortly…

EARS!

EARS!

Farmer Mickey Mouse — in OVERALLS, no less!!!

Farmer Mickey

Farmer Mickey

At the start of the meal, I was a bit [Read more…]

Guest Review: Garden Grill Restaurant

Jeff Kocan, an incredible writer and blogger over at www.CigarettesandCoffee.com (he was the evil photographer of this little ditty — don’t look if you’re hungry), kindly penned and photographed this review of the Garden Grill Restaurant in Epcot’s The Land. This rotating restaurant is in many of our childhood memories, but these days, it’s got a new “spin.” (Couldn’t help it.) Take it away, Jeff!

Garden Grill Restaurant

For too many Walt Disney World visitors, The Land pavilion on the east side of Epcot’s Future World is probably best known as the building you rush through twice per visit – once to get Soarin’ Fastpasses and once to redeem them. It’s worth spending a little extra time here, though, as the building also houses an above-average food court, a more-fun-than-it-sounds agricultural boat ride, and one of the park’s most unique restaurants, the revolving Garden Grill.

The Garden Grill has been around since Epcot’s (or, if you will, EPCOT Center’s) opening day on October 1, 1982. Back then it was known as the Good Turn Restaurant; it became the Land Grille Room in 1986 before taking its current name in ’93. Lunch service here ended in 2008, and the restaurant now exclusively hosts Chip and Dale’s Harvest Feast, a family-style character dinner.

Chip and Dale's Harvest Feast

The Atmosphere
I tend to think of the Garden Grill as one of Disney World’s “forgotten” character meals — it certainly isn’t mentioned as frequently as, say, Chef Mickey’s or Cinderella’s Royal Table. That said, during our Sunday-night visit, the restaurant was full and the adjacent waiting area was packed with diners waiting for their buzzers to buzz. Said waiting area is essentially a vacant corner near the public restrooms, and aside from a couple benches, the ground is the only available seating. Germophobes may prefer to stand.

Once you’re in the restaurant itself, you’re treated to an experience unlike any other in the parks: [Read more…]

Disney Canned Goods Sculpture — A Breakdown

So, being the person I am and writing the blog I write, it’s natural that I hung around after the canned goods sculpture reveal at the Disney “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” press event and took a few photos… :-) The world record-setting sculpture (yep — Guinness World Records authenticated it) was made up of 115,527 canned goods. The canned goods were donated to food banks in Orlando, Fla., Miami, and Atlanta.

This was part of a massive media event promoting what I believe to be one of the most game-changing Corporate/Non-Profit partnerships in the history of philanthropy. Disney’s “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” volunteer program aims to encourage 1 million people to volunteer one day of service at a local nonprofit in exchange for one free day in a Disney park. Why is this game-changing? Because that 1 million people includes thousands of children, who will learn why it’s important to volunteer and help out in the community — and I don’t mean just getting a ticket to Disney World. This program will introduce thousands of people to the outstanding benefits volunteering can bring — both personally and to the community.

To date, Disney’s already hit the 600,000 person mark…and that’s in just six weeks. I’m guessing they’ll hit their 1 million person goal in no time flat.

But on to the Sculpture…
One thing I really wanted to capture was how many different types of items were used to create the sculpture, as well as the innovation of the “artists!” According to a Disney press release,

The sculpture contains approximately 44 tons of food – everything from albacore tuna and apricot halves to spaghetti, stewed tomatoes and mixed vegetables – destined to become more than 70,000 meals for the needy.

Let’s begin with a photo of the full sculpture. Scroll down to the bottom of the post to see a cool time-lapse video of the sculpture being built!!:

NEW WORLD RECORD SET AT DISNEY

Here are a few breakdown photos that I thought were pretty interesting uses of canned, bagged, and boxed foods:

Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse was made up primarily of flesh-toned Kirkland Salmon cans. Black olive cans were used for his ears and nose, and pineapple chunk cans made up his eyes. All of the characters had popcorn plates for pupils!

Mickey’s paintbrush was made out of boxes of lasagna noodles, bags of spaghetti, and [Read more…]

‘Ohana Character Breakfast: Mickey and Friends

Pinvestigator Cody, of the Global Disney Pinvestigator Blog, is back with another round of comments and photos about a recent meal. This one, breakfast with Mickey and Friends at ‘Ohana, is one of his favorites; you’ll see why when you see these amazing photos! Thanks, Cody!

sign-11

‘Ohana means “family,” and the restaurant stretches that feeling throughout the meal! Opening at 7:30am, we arrived at 7:20 for a 7:40 Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR). There were about 20 families in front of us waiting to check in, but we were the second family to be seated (they really do pay attention to those ADR times!)

'Ohana Breakfast Open Kitchen

'Ohana Breakfast Open Kitchen

The hostess took us to our table, giving us a short tour of the restaurant along the way. We briefly stopped by the open kitchen where the hostess took our appetizer plate from the rows and rows of Pineapple and Cinnamon Raisin Bread (both are delicious, by the way), explaining that giving bread to family is one of the ‘Ohana customs celebrated at the restaurant.

Pineapple Bread and Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Pineapple Bread and Cinnamon Raisin Bread

We sat at our table, which included a great view of Cinderella Castle.

view from 'Ohana

Right away, a server came out with our “POG Juice” — Orange, Pineapple, Guava! It was delicious.

POG Juice

POG Juice

Not less than 5 minutes later, we got our food. It’s served family-style at ‘Ohana, with all-you-can-eat bacon, eggs, sausage, and potatoes.

breakfast

Another server also came around regularly with a bowl of Mickey Waffles, hot out of the “iron.”

Mickey Waffle

Mickey Waffle

Additionally, we received a small fruit platter, with pineapple, cantaloupe, grapes, and more.

'Ohana Fruit Platter

'Ohana Fruit Platter

Finally, the characters made their appearances! They were great and spent an equal amount of time at each table. Every 30-45 minutes is the ‘Ohana Family Parade, where the characters invite everyone to dance and sing and “shake!”, all to the song “Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride.”

Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse

Stitch

Stitch

Pluto

Pluto

Lilo

Lilo

Overall the meal was really enjoyable, and definitely delicious. This has to be my FAVORITE
Disney resort character breakfast.

Rating: 4.5 of 5
Tables in Wonderland: yes
Characters: 5 of 5
Food: 4.5 of 5