News! New Botanas Botánico Outdoor Kitchen Debuts at Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, Plus Garden Rocks Concert Line Up

It’s exciting to think that we’re just a little over a month away from the start of the 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival!

Disney Food Blog Epcot Flower and Garden Festival (2)

We’ve always enjoyed this beautiful special event, but now it’s right up our alley since they added Outdoor Kitchens to World Showcase. Similar to Marketplaces Booths at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, they offer tapas-like dishes and sips of all kinds of interesting beverages. It’s super sweet to sample and stroll as you take in all of the gorgeous gardens!

We’re anxiously awaiting all of the puzzle pieces to fall into place about this year’s menus, but today, we have a couple of new details!

New Botanas Botánico Outdoor Kitchen Coming to World Showcase

First and foremost, the FOOD! A brand new Outdoor Kitchen will debut in 2015. Botanas Botánico will be located between the France and Morocco Pavilions. This is the area that was occupied by the Brazil Marketplace Booth during the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, so we’re wondering if this will be a featured gathering spot of sorts.

2014 Puerto Rico Marketplace Booth

We’re Wondering if the Puerto Rico Marketplace Booth from the Food and Wine Festival May Do Double Duty as the Botanas Botánico Outdoor Kitchen During Flower and Garden!

From the menu, we’re guessing that the influence will be South American in general, and Venezuelan in particular. At any rate, we can’t wait to see the set up!

Speaking of the menu, we already have a few details. Dishes here will include [Read more…]

News! Book Now for New Year’s Eve Dining Events in Epcot

It’s never too early to start talking about holidays, and that’s especially true when it comes to Disney World planning.

New Year's Eve Toast

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

Today, we’re bringing you early news of a few 2014 New Year’s Eve dining opportunities. And the good news is — you can book them today!

Keep in mind, however, that other NYE dining events are likely to be announced. So if you don’t like either of these options, hang tight. Your favorite may appear before it’s all said and done!

New Year’s Eve at Epcot World ShowPlace

If you’ve ever spent Christmas week at Walt Disney World, you know that the crowds can be massive. Disney meets the need for expanded dining capacity by offering a few extra spots to dine. And back for 2014, guests can take advantage of a special dining event held at Epcot’s World ShowPlace.

Party for the Senses at World Showplace Pavilion in Epcot (Photo copyright Disney)

World Showplace Pavilion in Epcot (Photo copyright Disney)

Fantasia 2014 is a dining event geared toward the whole family. Guests will enjoy scenes and songs from the Disney animated classic while they dine on a full buffet spread. The menu includes items with international flair:

  • An array of Soups and Salads such as: Fresh Greens, Antipasto Salad with Basil, Seafood Harvest Chowder, Grilled Flatbread and Hummus
  • Hot Food Items including: Chimichurri-baked Mahi Mahi with Mango Chutney and carved Deep-Fried Turkey Breast with Garlic and Cranberry Sauce
  • A Dessert Station that features Carrot Spiced Cream Cheese Cupcakes, Guava and Apple Turnovers, and a Chocolate Fondue with various Dippers
  • An extensive Kids Menu, to include Fried Chicken Fritters, Baked Mini Corn Dogs, and Mac and Cheese, among other items

You can book Fantasia 2014 between the hours of [Read more…]

Review: California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

On a recent trip to Walt Disney World, I met a group of friends at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill for what promised to be a memorable dinner.

It was my first trip to the hallowed culinary spot since the dramatic re-imagination of both the restaurant itself and the menu earlier this year. I’m a big fan of Chef de Cuisine Brian Piasecki, and I was anxious to see what he and his team had put together for the opening.

Having heard mostly good things about the new menu, and lots of raves about the decor refresh (see some breathtaking photos here!), I was really looking forward to this special night out. Would the restaurant deliver on expectations? Well, kind of…and kind of not. Let’s delve into the full story.


If you’ve never been to California Grill, getting there is a bit of an odyssey. Although the restaurant sits high atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, you’ll begin your journey on the hotel’s second floor, where the check-in desk is located.

Second Floor Check In Desk for California Grill

From there, you’ll be directed to an elevator where a cast member will escort you up to the restaurant. This way, the staff can practice a little crowd control, as the restaurant’s lobby and bar can get quite crowded at times.

You emerge from the elevator and are greeted by sleek design, accented by cool colors and rows and rows of wine fridges. Form follows function, as California Grill’s stellar selection of wines is well known.

Entrance and Wine Fridges

Time your visit just right, and another hallmark of the Grill’s atmosphere greets you —


— A beautiful sunset through the picture windows directly ahead of you. I was lucky on this visit, as I got to see both the sunset AND the fireworks through those floor-to-ceiling windows!


As I mentioned before, California Grill underwent an extensive renovation earlier in 2013. If you haven’t been to the restaurant since then, you will find that almost everything looks completely different from before.

We shared lots and lots of photos with you from the reno in that previous post, including pics of the private dining rooms. Be sure to pop over there if you’d like to see even more decor detail. For now, we’ll just give you a quick tour.

Step away from that glorious sunset, and you realize that you passed the beautiful bar area as you entered. It’s just to the left as you step off the elevators and head into the restaurant.

Directly in front of the bar, there’s also a limited lounge seating area. This means that you can, theoretically, score a table without an advance dining reservation, or meet here for appetizers and drinks on a whim. That said, the lounge is first come, first served, and you can imagine the scramble for seats during the fireworks. So look alive if that’s your plan!


Where the view is concerned, there are really no bad seats in all of California Grill! But the window seats on the Magic Kingdom side offer the best view if you’re going for fireworks. As part of the renovation, new windows were installed that block ultraviolet light, and electronically-controlled shades ensure that guests are never blinded by that bright Florida sunshine.

Views and Tables

A glance across the seating area gives you a good overview of the [Read more…]

2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Booth Preview: Scotland and Brazil Booths

Excitement is building for the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! And we know that you’re looking forward to it just as much as we are!

We’re keeping track of the Food and Wine Festival marketplace booths and menus carefully, and I wanted to share a preview with you today!

As always, the culinary team at Epcot is striving to keep this classic event fresh and exciting by introducing some brand new Marketplace Booths to the mix. New for 2013 is another entry from the United Kingdom, the Scotland Marketplace Booth! And after a year long hiatus we’re also excited to see a return of another South American hotspot, the Brazil Marketplace Booth!

Let’s take a closer look at what these two marketplaces will offer this year’s festival guests.

Scotland Marketplace Booth

While we are still awaiting our first pictures of what the Scotland Marketplace Booth will actually look like (soon!), we are excited already to know some of the fun additions that the menu will bring to this year’s festival.

And check out the new stamp from the Scotland booth that guests will be able to get in their Food and Wine Festival passports! (It’s in the bottom right hand corner of the slide.)

Scotland Booth Information

The menu offers some intriguing new flavors for guests!

2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Scotland Booth Menu

  • Seared Scottish Salmon with Cauliflower Puree, Watercress and Malt Vinaigrette
  • Vegetarian Haggis with Neeps and Tatties (Griddled Vegetable Cake with Rutabaga and Mashed Potatoes)
  • Scottish Banoffee Tart with Bananas, Scottish Whisky Toffee, Walkers Shortbread Crumbles and Sweet Cream
  • Innis & Gunn® Original Beer
  • Loch Lomond Cocktail featuring Glenfiddich® 12 year
  • Glenfiddich® Scotch Flight (12, 15 and 18 year)

Seafood lovers are already looking forward to the inclusion of authentic Scottish Salmon.

Scottish Salmon with Cauliflower Puree, Watercress and Malt Vinaigrette

And the Scottish Banoffee Tart will feature a pleasant kick courtesy of Glenfiddich Whisky Cream! I can’t wait to try this one!

The Scottish Banoffee Tart will be part of the NEW Scotland Booth at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in 2013

I have no idea what to expect from the Vegetarian Haggis, but you know I’ll be first in line to try it!

The other real standout here will be a number of [Read more…]

Guest Review: Dinner at La Hacienda de San Angel in Epcot

Guest Author Katie Roth returns this week with a review of La Hacienda de San Angel in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion. Go ahead and grab a margarita!

La Hacienda de San Angel is special to both my husband and I for sentimental reasons, because this was one of the first restaurants we dined in for our honeymoon. While I wasn’t too impressed with this restaurant during that reservation, I was willing to give it another shot.

The views out of the windows are breathtaking, and if nothing else, I could get a great margarita.

Orange Mango Fire Margarita at Epcot's La Hacienda de San Angel


La Hacienda is located directly across from the temple pyramid that is the focal point of the Mexican pavilion. The entryway can be somewhat hard to miss, especially if you are in the throngs of a major crowd with strollers!

Just look for the sign in the picture below. There is a hostess stand underneath the sign where check-in is required to gain access to the restaurant.

The check-in podium is underneath this sign!

We arrived at the restaurant over 30 minutes before our reservation time just to check in, and to our wonderful surprise they seated us early! We were directed to the foyer/lobby area that contains beautiful blue lanterns. Another hostess in the foyer directed us to our seats.

Lobby area.

The restaurant atmosphere is relaxed with an afternoon siesta feeling and is elegant without being stuffy. The decorations are subtle – at least much less subtle than stereotypical Mexican restaurants – with patterned ceilings, clean walls, star lanterns dangling from the ceiling, and wrought-iron accents.

Booth and Artwork

While it’s not as scenic as a volcano or Mayan river with a Mariachi band playing in the background (San Angel Inn) – it did set a pleasant atmosphere for a meal.

Dining Room at La Hacienda.

The wall of windows overlooks the lagoon and the rest of World Showcase. If you’re able to get a window seat during IllumiNations, it is a great place to watch the show!

A wall of windows provides a great IllumiNations Fireworks view

When we arrived at 5:30 PM, there were hardly any other diners there; but by 6:00 PM the restaurant was packed. After our meal, my husband said “They don’t need a volcano here! The food is the main attraction!” Needless to say, our meal this time around was OUTSTANDING!


I’m not a margarita person (tequila – bad experiences – won’t go there), but I made a promise to myself to be adventurous on this trip, so I went with [Read more…]

Guest Review: Fulton’s Crab House

Today, we’re welcoming Orlando native Matt Shealy with a guest review of Fulton’s Crab House in Downtown Disney. Matt shares a rave review of the seafood as well as the memorable ambiance of dining at Fulton’s at sunset.

My childhood memories of Disney include images of loveable characters like Mickey, Minnie and Pluto as well as care free roaming of the park’s lush grounds. Those memories were still vivid after an over ten year hiatus. Now that I am a proud father of a two year old girl, I made the 30 minute trek south of Orlando to that magical place called Disney. Other memories of Disney include long lines and Florida’s summer heat, so we headed to the park bright and early.

After a long day of rides and good times, it was time to grab some good food and relax. My wife and I are huge fans of seafood. After asking some of the cast members we settled on Fulton’s Crab House.

On our walk to Fulton's Crab House


We arrived at Downtown Disney at dusk on a warm breezy Central Florida evening. As we strolled towards the larger than life riverboat style restaurant, the [Read more…]

Raglan Road News! St. Patrick’s Day, Gluten Free Food, and More…

Downtown Disney’s Raglan Road has announced Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day events. There also new gluten-free items on the menu and a fun, professional photo opportunity!

Gluten Free Eats

Raglan Road has added gluten-free dishes to their menu including Scallops, Fish & Chips, and Calamari & Pasta. To create a light and crisp batter that is also delicious, the culinary team devised a gluten fee batter mix made with Champagne and garbanzo flour!

Gluten Free Fish and Chips

Raglan Road invites all guests with a special diet to talk to a server about menu items that are available for modification to meet various nutritional needs.

Valentine’s Day

Head over to Raglan Road’s Facebook page (I’m a fan!!) and become a fan to be entered to win a [Read more…]