News! Chef Mickey’s Brunch to Begin May 31; Reservations Open May 22

Fans of Chef Mickey’s — get ready for a whole new meal option!

The SUPER popular (and we are not even exaggerating a little there) character dining experience at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort has always offered breakfast and dinner. But now, it’s expanding to offer brunch daily!

Get ready to dial — Advance Dining Reservations will open on Friday, May 22. Seating for brunch at Chef Mickey’s will begin on Sunday, May 31.

But I think the really cool thing here is that this is brunch, rather than lunch. Fans of Chef Mickey’s breakfast spread can continue to dine on all of their favorites, like Mickey Waffles!

Mickey Waffles!

Mickey Waffles!

But the menu will also include lunch goodies such as soups and lots of salad options. In addition, look for Seafood Étouffée, Barbecued Ribs, and Baked Salmon. The sweets team will also feature [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…]

FULL Review: The NEW BoardWalk Bakery in Walt Disney World!

OK,  I promised you on Saturday that I’d have a full, extensive review of the new BoardWalk Bakery for you soon…and here it is!!

Last Friday, I was up bright and early to be first in line for the grand re-opening of the brand new BoardWalk Bakery at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn! And while I wasn’t FIRST in line, I came pretty close. :-)

Long a fan favorite, this tiny bakery needed a major overhaul in the space department, and we couldn’t wait to see what Imagineers had dreamed up.

We’ll start with atmosphere pics and lead into the goodies. If you want to dive right into the super sugary part, scroll to the bottom section called “What Did I Pick?”

Atmosphere

When looking for the BoardWalk Bakery, head down the steps from the hotel’s main lobby to the BoardWalk, and you can’t miss it.

Sign Leading Down to the BoardWalk

I wasn’t disappointed to see that the bakery had tripled in size. This place really needed to be larger!

The NEW Boardwalk Bakery -- three times the size of the old one!

You can see that there are now two entrances to the bakery — one for those queuing up for food, and one for BoardWalk Inn and Villas guests who just need to refill their resort mugs. A great system!

Mug Filling Station Has a Separate Entrance from Bakery Queue

And, of course, Hue G. Krazont is still the proprietor. :-)

Bakery's Windows and Proprietor's Name

Time to head inside!! Guests who were there first thing received these snazzy celebration buttons. (Okay, they’re the regular celebration buttons with handwriting. But still.)

Celebration Buttons to Mark the Grand Re-Opening!

We are ecstatic to see a lot more room inside the bakery, even though most of it is reserved for the actual queue line.

The classy red walls and checkerboard floor along with wrought iron, brass, and dark wood accents give this spot a been-there-forever kind of classic feel. The schoolhouse lighting is another fun addition!

Note, however, that the display cases have multiplied by about four! They’re not kidding around with the focal point here!

Bakery Display Cases and New Queue Setup

If you do find yourself in that long queue line, at least the large windows make people watching on the BoardWalk an easy sport.

Looking Out from the Inside Onto the BoardWalk

Soon you’ll get up to the bakery and dessert cases to make your selections. We’ve got LOTS more pics of these in our “Eats” Section of this review…so scroll down for the goodies!

Assorted Pastries in the Bakery Case

After you’ve made your selections and check out, it’s time to [Read more…]

Review: Monsieur Paul in Epcot’s France Pavilion

Today, we have a real treat for you!

Monsieur Paul Restauarant in Epcot's France Pavilion

We are heading through the unassuming door and up the fabled staircase above Epcot’s Les Chefs de France to savor a meal at the newly revamped Monsieur Paul Restaurant!

Located in the France Pavilion within Epcot, Monsieur Paul was formerly Bistro de Paris. When the signature restaurant underwent refurbishment last year, it received a new name, honoring the life and legacy of legendary chef and owner Paul Bocuse.

But what else had changed? We were curious as well. And so, armed with a camera, my notebook, and an appetite, I recently made my way through the double doors to bring the story to you.

This is going to be a long one (over 50 photos!!), so settle in for a culinary journey!

Atmosphere

As you poke around the France Pavilion and see glasses of wine and glaces for sale, you’ll encounter this sign letting you know of your (less obvious) dining options.

External Sign Showing France Pavilion Restaurants

And it’s a good thing! Because unless you know it’s there, it would be pretty easy to pass right by the entrance for Monsieur Paul, which is actually tucked back into the pavilion, wrapped behind the more prominent Les Chefs de France.

Monsieur Paul Menu Plaque

With its crisp awning cover and double doors, it blends in as just another part of the authentic themeing in the pavilion — which nearly convinces you that you’re in Paris.

Monsieur Paul -- Outside

Just like high-end restaurants that are hidden to all but those who have been let in on the secret, you won’t see any flashy signs hanging over the door. Instead, you’ll simply catch a glimpse (if you’re really looking for it) of [Read more…]

Review: Pizza Planet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Time to head To Infinity…and Beyond! (Except you’ll pretty much stay in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.) Recently, I headed over for a late lunch (early dinner?) at Pizza Planet to see what was up!

A perennial kids’ favorite, families LOVE this place! The pizza-heavy menu and oodles of video games make this a good family stop in a park that’s not necessarily known for its kid-oriented counter service options. And while the food probably won’t wow you, the chance to let the kids burn off some energy might.

Atmosphere

Did you know that Pizza Planet has been mentioned in every Pixar film except The Incredibles? Remember the “YO” truck in Toy Story? Pizza Planet Delivery Guy!

Modeled after the fictional restaurant Pizza Planet from the Toy Story franchise (complete with a huge arcade!), you’ll feel like you’ve stepped right into the film as you enter the place.

Outside Sign

It’s actually housed in part of the old Backlot Area at the Studios, right across the way from Muppet Vision 3D.

Pizza Planet

Even if you’re just looking to escape the heat for a little, this place is huge and offers seating upstairs, downstairs, or [Read more…]

Photo Tour: Cafe Rix at Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World

While Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World has a lot of charm and many fans (myself included!), it’s a little slim on meal options.

See, the resort’s table-service restaurant, Maya Grill, is only open for dinner these days; and the counter-service Pepper Market has gone buffet for breakfast and lunch, and closes from 2 p.m. until dinner. So sometimes it’s hard to find a bite to eat outside of Siesta’s Pool Bar. And while pool bars are charming, that might not be quite the vibe you’re seeking.

Enter Cafe Rix.

This is the only grab and go option for you at Coronado Springs. But does it offer what busy families and convention-goers really need to fuel up for a day at Disney? Let’s take a peek inside!

Rix Cafe Sign

Decorated in a Mediterranean style, the cafe offers a little something for everyone.

Entry to Cafe

Fresh fruit, wine, and newspapers are available, in addition to prepared cold items. I’m also totally digging on those lantern-like, Mexican light fixtures! That’s one of [Read more…]

First Look! Food Photos From Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe in Disney California Adventure

Update: Check out the discreet integration of Starbucks into Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe.

We’ve had a great time sharing sneak peeks of many of the new dining locations opening soon in Disney California Adventure! Be sure to check out the great menu options at Flo’s V-8 Cafe, Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel, Carthay Circle Restaurant, Trolley Treats, and Clarabelle’s Ice Cream!

And one more of the places on Buena Vista Street I am really looking forward to is the Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe. Why? Because Disney California Adventure NEEDS a good counter service spot where one can grab a great sandwich and a STARBUCKS beverage

Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe

At a recent media preview I was able to check out some of the items that will be served at the Cafe, and it looks like there will be some pretty tasty options…

Menu

I got some great photos of the dishes that will be served here at the Fiddler. The first thing I noticed about the menu, though, was that the items appeared to be very similar to what is being served over in Disneyland at the Jolly Holiday Bakery

This is not a bad thing by any means; Jolly Holiday is fantastic! Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Fiddler, Fifer & Practical will be serving a wide variety eats:

  • Breakfast: Freshly baked pastries & cinnamon rolls, breakfast sandwiches and wraps
  • Lunch and Dinner: Hot and cold sandwiches, salads, and two daily soups

A Sampler of Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe Offerings

I don’t have the “official” names of the sandwiches pictured below, but some appear to be identical to [Read more…]

Review: Cape May Cafe Clambake

Ready for a beach vacation and a seaside buffet meal? We’re headed to Cape May Cafe in Disney World’s Beach Club Resort to enjoy a guest favorite dinner buffet — The Cape May Cafe Clambake!

Atmosphere

The Cape May Cafe Clambake was a dinner I’d never been to, and one my mom had been dying to try. So when my parents were in Disney World at the same time we were recently, we gave it a go!

Cape May Cafe is an open and airy buffet restaurant adorned with pastel impressionist paintings depicting beach scenes, colorful beach umbrellas and folding chairs, carpet that brings beach balls to mind, and the stick style architecture seen throughout Disney’s Beach Club Resort.

Cape May Cafe Decor

Tables are set up as booths, banquettes, and full tables, and there are [Read more…]

News! Disneyland’s La Brea Bakery Renovations and New Menu

More fun expansion news out of Disneyland’s Downtown Disney District!!

La Brea Bakery Cafe, one of the original restaurants in Downtown Disney Anaheim, began an exciting refurbishment on January 3, 2012, with the temporary closure of the counter-service area.

The full-service section will remain open until mid-March, and the renovations will be officially unveiled in April. According to OC Register’s Around Disney, the renovation will include the addition of 900 sq. ft. and showcase a new exhibition bakery where guests can watch dough being rolled before heading to the new wood stove! Plus, an awning will be added to shade full-service, outdoor diners.

Early Concept Art

When La Brea re-opens, the counter-service side will have its own kitchen enabling guests to order their quick-service food at the counter and then take a seat where their order will be delivered.

Menu

According to Disney Parks Blog, freshly baked items will be prepared right at the restaurant!

Look for a variety of [Read more…]

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe Review

Today, we’re heading to one of my favorite quick-service spots in Disney World – Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. Tucked in between Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Cinderella Castle, Cosmic Ray’s has one of the biggest, most diverse menus of all Disney World quick-service locations.

Atmosphere
Cosmic Ray’s is a giant, bright, semi-circular room situated around three food ordering “bays.” With each bay selling different types of food, be sure to check out the menus for all three before choosing your bay!

Bays at Cosmic Ray's

The theme is vintage space-age Tomorrowland, with lots of aquas and purples, trapezoids, and triangular furniture. There’s brushed chrome everywhere and signage in the same types of fonts you’d expect to find in early Space Mountain queue lines. Overall, if you loved the Jetsons and find the metal palm trees in Tomorrowland to be just about the coolest foliage ever — Cosmic Ray’s general decor will be ideal for you (and me).

Outdoor Seating

Pragmatically, what you need to know is [Read more…]