Full Review: Nomad Lounge in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

“Welcome Travelers, to the Nomad Lounge, a place to share stories about travel and adventure.”

These are the words that welcome you to the Nomad Lounge in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But even before reading that sentence, you can already tell you’ve entered into a place celebrating the “concept of being transformed by adventure.”

So pack your own sense of adventure as we do some exploring of this brand new space that just joined the scene on May 27th — the very same day that the park itself stayed open well into the night for the first time! Of course, it’s not the only new offering in the park that has found the need to expand food options as well as entertainment in light of the new all-day schedule.

But I do think you’re about to see why it’s become an immediate favorite to many guests already. Step in with me, fellow travelers…

Atmosphere

Nomad Lounge is housed in the same structure as Tiffins — Animal Kingdom’s first Signature Restaurant.

Nomad Lounge

Nomad Lounge

It’s located in Discovery Island (just head around the corner from Pizzafari to find the building). [Read more…]

Review: Breakfast at Kona Cafe in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

We are kicking off this week right with one of my favorite breakfasts in all of the Disney Food Universe — Kona Cafe!

This mainstay of Walt Disney World flies under the radar quite a lot of the time. If you don’t know better, you’ll probably write it off as just a garden variety hotel lobby restaurant, good for grabbing a bite before you move onto bigger things.

For me — and for many Disney fans in the know — it’s a destination.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a look around, then dive right into the eats.

Atmosphere

If it’s been a while since your last visit to the Polynesian, then you’re in for a bit of a surprise. The hotel, one of Disney World’s original resorts, recently underwent a huge renovation.

The work not only added many new enhancements, like Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, and the Pineapple Lanai (your home for Dole Whip at the Poly). But it also transformed areas like the hotel’s lobby. While I miss the sound of the old waterfall, I think this assortment of glass float lights is a nice, new focal point.

Kona Cafe

Newly Renovated Polynesian Village Resort Lobby

Still, for better or for worse, Kona Cafe has remained largely unchanged. Located off of the second floor atrium, it still appears to be a rather ho-hum restaurant. [Read more…]

Best Places for Pressed Pot Coffee in Walt Disney World

Remember the old days when getting a decent cup of coffee at Walt Disney World was practically impossible?

Press Pot Trattoria al Forno

Unless you enjoyed kicking off your day with a cup of Nescafe, you were just out of luck back then. Stories of Disney fans bringing provisions from home weren’t out of the ordinary.

But as the world has slowly awakened to better coffee, Disney has jumped on the bandwagon. In the last few years especially, better coffee options at Disney World have grown by leaps and bounds.

One of the best ways to enjoy a good cup is via Press Pots, which are offered at many table service restaurants throughout the resort. You’ll find specific varieties, roasts, and blends by Joffrey’s Coffee, tailored to the tastes and theme of each resort.

Let’s look at a couple of our favorites! [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: The Best Spots for Coffee and Tea in Walt Disney World

Just a couple of years back, if you wanted to get a decent cup of coffee or tea somewhere inside the Big Purple Gates, you were out of luck.

2017-dfb-guide-to-wdw-dining-cover_3d

With Nescafe on standby in most spots, the coffee outlook was dismal. And while Twinings teabags are available all over the place, there still wasn’t anything special about them.

But in the last few years, Disney has really stepped up their game in both the java and cuppa departments!

Today, we’re sharing one of our favorite tips from the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World DiningWhere to Find Good Coffee and Tea in Walt Disney World.

Starbucks

By far, the biggest beverage news to hit Disney in the last few years has been its partnership with coffee giant Starbucks. Love them or hate them, you can’t dispute — they’re super popular.

Hollywood Studios Starbucks Trolley Car Cafe-21

Trolley Car Cafe –the home of Starbucks in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Seriously…there’s a reason for the queue ropes inside! Have you seen a Disney Starbucks on a busy morning? Madness!

The Line at a Disney Starbucks Can Get CRAZY Long

The Line at a Disney Starbucks Can Get CRAZY Long

The first two Starbucks to open in Walt Disney World replaced established eateries — Main Street Bakery in Magic Kingdom and Fountain View in Epcot. Now you can stroll right up to Cinderella Castle with your Vanilla Latte in hand, or enjoy your Frappuccino in the shade of Spaceship Earth.

Fountain View Starbucks in Epcot

Fountain View Starbucks in Epcot

Two additional stores are located in Downtown Disney — one walk-up window nestled between entrances to World of Disney and a larger store in West Side, which boasts a Starbucks Reserve Counter.

Coffee on fire!

Enjoying a Cup of Coffee on the Patio of Starbucks West Side

Trolley Car Cafe, the Disney’s Hollywood Studios Starbucks outlet, opened a couple of years ago, bringing the famous mermaid to Hollywood Boulevard.

Trolley Car Cafe is now open!

Trolley Car Cafe is now open!

And shortly after Trolley Car threw open its doors, the final Walt Disney World store opened in Creature Comforts in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Starbucks in Animal Kingdom

Starbucks in Animal Kingdom

Aren’t a fan of Starbucks? Joffrey’s is considered the “official” coffee of Disney World and still operates a number of kiosks throughout the Parks, where you can grab a cup of coffee or a selection of espresso drinks.

Great Spots for Tea

If you prefer tea to coffee, there are also some great spots for you to enjoy a cup. And we aren’t just talking about your grandmother’s cup of tea. :-)

One of my favorite spots for tea is the [Read more…]

Dinner Review: The NEW Trattoria al Forno at Disney World’s BoardWalk Inn

We’ve been waiting and the day is finally here! We have had our first dinner at the brand new Trattoria al Forno, and we’re excited to share it with you!

Trattoria Stone Medallion at the Hostess Station

Trattoria Stone Medallion at the Hostess Station

Trattoria al Forno replaces Kouzzina by Cat Cora, which closed in September after a 5-year run on the BoardWalk. While we have heard from some readers that they’ll miss the Greek restaurant, we are interested in seeing just how Disney goes forward bringing an Italian offering to this space.

It is true that there are many Italian restaurants on Disney World property — several within walking distance of Trattoria al Forno. So it will be interesting to see how this one compares. Speaking of, let’s head in and explore a bit before we turn our attention to the food.

Atmosphere

We gave you the full tour of the new restaurant last week, but we’ll show you around just a little here as well. You’ll find Trattoria al Forno tucked into Disney’s BoarkWalk, right between Seashore Sweets and the BoardWalk Pizza Window.

Trattoria Entrance

Trattoria Entrance

Step inside, and rich, earthy finishes of stone and wood greet you. Directly ahead, the bank of wine coolers hints to you the large role that vino plays in the menu.

Entrata

Entrata

As was the case in the restaurant’s previous lives — before it was Kouzzina, the Mediterranean-leaning Spoodles occupied the spot — the exhibition kitchen has always been the main focus of the dining room. That continues with Trattoria al Forno.

Wide Shot of the Trattoria Kitchen

Wide Shot of the Trattoria Kitchen

And it is this detail that makes the backstory of the space a little thin. As it goes, Trattoria al Forno is a family-owned restaurant that has been on the BoardWalk for years. Originally, the family owned a boardinghouse and a restaurant, but over time, the restaurant has grown.

Kitchen

Kitchen

With its growth, it has expanded down the BoardWalk, taking in one room after another — but they all face the beautiful exhibition kitchen. Perhaps the kitchen grew, too. :-)

This is one of the most extensive “on stage” kitchens that you’ll find at Disney World. It seems that just about everything takes place in front of guests, and finishes and equipment are part of the decor. Check out the bright red meat slicer, which will be used to slice some paper-thin charcuterie a little later on in our story.

(By the way, in the background of this picture you’ll see Chef Dee Foundoukis, who arrived here to head the kitchen for Cat Cora at Kouzzina and has apparently stayed on with Trattoria al Forno. So for those who are chef-watchers at Disney World, that may be an interesting tidbit.)

Meat Slicer and Chef Dee!

Meat Slicer and Chef Dee!

But let’s get back to the theme. To convey the progression, you see slight changes throughout the space from “room” to “room.” The restaurant’s original dining room is the Cucina, a warm, casual spot that has the feel of an eat-in kitchen.

Kitchen from the Cucina, the Restaurant's First Dining Room

Kitchen from the Cucina, the Restaurant’s First Dining Room

At some point, the family must have decided to glam things up a bit and build a more upscale dining room, and the Sala de Pranzo came into being. You know you’ve arrived in the formal dining room from cues like the crystal chandeliers overhead and the large display of silver and glassware along the back wall.

Sala da Pranzo

Sala da Pranzo

Still, business continued to boom, so a living room area, the Salotto, was converted to the restaurant’s third dining room.

Seating in the Salotto

Seating in the Salotto

Finally, guests may also find themselves in the Taverna. According to the story, this secluded area represents the restaurant’s origins and still retains the feel of a cozy inn restaurant. (Guests who dined at Kouzzina will recognize this as the former “Coranation” Room, an area used for Chef’s Table dining.)

The Taverna

The Taverna

Throughout the space, the seating is comfortable, and finishes are rich and refined. There is a mismatched sense to the furnishings, but it doesn’t really intrude on your consciousness. Overall, the theme here is conveyed in subtle fashion.

Seating -- Looking Back Across the Rooms

Seating — Looking Back Across the Rooms

We had dinner at Trattoria al Forno on opening night, and the restaurant was full throughout our time there. Even at capacity, however, it never seemed loud or uncomfortable. Shocking, since the previous restaurants in this space — Kouzzina and Spoodles — were well known for sound carrying and bouncing off the walls.

A Full House on Opening Night!

A Full House on Opening Night!

Speaking of dinner, let’s get to it.

Eats

When we sat down to order at Trattoria al Forno, we found the menu to be a curious mix. Based on pricing alone, you quickly understand that [Read more…]