Snack Series: Vegetable Barley Soup at Sunshine Seasons in Epcot

Well, it’s no secret around here that I love soup in Disney World!

It’s a filling treat, relatively healthy (well, compared to a cupcake or Mickey Bar, anyway), and pretty cheap most of the time!

And on a recent visit to Sunshine Seasons in Epcot’s The Land pavilion, I found another great option for those of us who are Disney soup-lovers. Here, you’ll often find two kinds of soup: one will always be the Vegetable Barley Soup (vegetarian), and the other will be a seasonal soup!

I decided to try the Vegetable Barley Soup

Soups of the Day

Since Sunshine Seasons is a cafeteria-style restaurant, simply ask the cast member to dish up a bowl for you at the soup station!

Vegetable Soup

As you can see, it’s served with a crisp bread accompaniment — just enough for dipping! The soup is chock full of veggies, and the broth (unlike some vegetable broth) was very flavorful.

While you might not expect soup to be a #1 Disney snack, sometimes it’s really nice to [Read more…]

Review: The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a little gem in the middle of a busy theme park.

When it was time to meet up with friends recently for a quiet dinner during our otherwise frenzied Epcot Food and Wine Festival trip to Disney World, I was happy when we all agreed to head there for a late night bite. While the restaurant can be a bit inconsistent (I tend to hear both good and bad reviews of this place), I’ve had good experiences on my visits.

I hoped that it would continue to measure up to the pedestal I have it on! Let’s head into that fabled dining room, home to Hollywood’s Golden Age elite, and see if it does…


If you haven’t had a meal at The Brown Derby, it’s time to head on over. I waited a long time before I took in my first meal there, and once I did, I was sorry I hadn’t tried it sooner.

Your journey back in time to the Golden Age of Hollywood begins before you enter the restaurant. The grand entrance beneath the classic red awning looks like something right out of early 20th century Hollywood.

Brown Derby Entryway and Awning

And that is, of course, intentional. The Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was inspired by the restaurant located at the famous corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street.

Sign Outside of Building

Inside the waiting area, the decor is tasteful and clean Spanish Mission, with light walls and dark wood accents. A few comfy leather club chairs might be available for your wait if you’re lucky.

You also start to glimpse the famous collection of caricatures that line walls throughout the restaurant.

Brown Derby Lobby

If you need [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland: Review of 1901 Lounge in Disney California Adventure

When standing in front of Carthay Circle Restaurant in Disney California Adventure, you will notice three entrance doors. The two on the left lead you into the restaurant while the one on the right takes you somewhere very, very special.

Carthay Circle Restaurant Marquee


1901, a private lounge reserved for Club 33 Platinum Members and their guests, is perhaps one of the most tranquil spots in all of Disney California Adventure. A variety of eats and treats are served here, which are also served at Carthay Circle Lounge (a spot that all park guests can access — no membership needed there).

With a simple 1901 plaque at its entrance, behind the door is a spectacular space filled with historic mementos that Walt himself would’ve probably chosen to put on display.

1901 Entrance Plaque

As with Carthay Circle Restaurant, when you walk into 1901, you are immediately taken back to the 1930’s. The colors, decor and furniture are inviting, almost as if you are walking into someone’s home. 

The lounge is divided into two areas.

The hallway that divides the room in two.

On one side of the room you’ll find comfy couches surrounded by some chairs, loveseats, and a few little [Read more…]

Review: Nine Dragons in Epcot’s China

Today, we’re heading to the Far East — or rather, just past Norway and Mexico — for lunch at Epcot’s Nine Dragons!

Are you afraid to venture inside this eatery because you’ve heard less-than-stellar reviews? So were we.

Though we did a review way back when (not bad, not great), this blog is all about second chances; so back to Nine Dragons we went! :-) Is it better, worse, or holding steady, you ask? Read on and we’ll explore together.


When you walk into Nine Dragons, it actually feels kind of swanky since the (now long past) refurb. (Remember when it used to be all red shag carpet? No? Yeah, it probably wasn’t, but that’s what it felt like.)

The views through the front picture windows will remind you that you haven’t left Epcot behind. I love the view of the World Showcase Lagoon, and I wonder if this spot wouldn’t be bad for Illuminations viewing… anyone have experience?

View of World Showcase from Inside Nine Dragons

Seating and View of Outside

This is a beautiful restaurant, and we really enjoy the surroundings here. As I mentioned, there have been some renovations, as well as some changes to the menu, which suggest that you might want to give this spot another look if you haven’t eaten here lately.

Inside, there are three main dining areas separated by decorative wooden screens. The lovely, airy sunroom is [Read more…]

Review: Captain’s Grille Lunch

Welcome Aboard at the Captain’s Grille at Disney World’s Yacht Club Resort!

While this restaurant flies mostly under the radar for most folks, it does offer decent food and — even better — an easy-to-get table even if you don’t have reservations. Most of the time you’ll be able to walk right into Captain’s Grille and be seated, but it always pays to make reservations just in case.

I had a bit of a surprising meal here… read on to find out why!


Captain’s Grille is one of those “lost” mid-priced Disney resort restaurants, which makes it a relatively quiet and calm place to grab a bite!

Themed similarly to the Yacht Club Resort, Captain’s Grille features model sailboats and subdued nautical decor coupled with light wood furniture.

Dining Room Seating

The theme is nothing to write home about, and the restaurant is open to the lobby as well as the surrounding walkways through the hotel. You may hear a bit of [Read more…]

Best Disney Soups

We threw out an inquiry asking for favorite Disney soups and got back a crockful of great ideas! Soups are satisfying meals and hearty snacks and can really warm you up on a chilly park day. Disney’s been working overtime creating memorable ones!

The Best Disney Soups

Thanks to our DFB readers and Facebook Friends for sharing their soup suggestions via the Disney Food Blog Facebook page!

Gorgonzola Onion Soup with Pear and Bacon Garnish at Grand Floridian Cafe

The hands down favorite soup mentioned was the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup at Epcot’s Le Cellier. Honorable mentions go to the soup selection at Boma and the French Onion Soup at Les Chefs de France.

Let’s take a look at the winners, then drool over the runners-up and a few of my own new favorites!

Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup

Made with Moosehead beer and bacon, the Canadian Cheddar Cheese soup is one of the reasons you should secure a coveted reservation at Le Cellier!

Sooth your soup craving and try the Cheddar Cheese Soup recipe at home.

Cheddar Cheese Soup at Le Cellier Steakhouse

Kathy B. exclaims “It is the BOMB!!!”

Margaret C. even has a cost-saving tip. She suggests [Read more…]

Guest Review: Aulani Eats and Off-Site Treats

in front of the Lava Shack

Join us in welcoming guest author Beth Osborn with a tour of Eats at Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa in Oahu. We’ve also got some great tips about eating at non-Disney spots around the resort! Brace yourselves — there’s Dole Whip, Shave Ice, Plate Lunch, and more — ahead! Don’t forget to check out Aulani restaurant info and menus here.

Arriving to Aulani on October 15, my husband Kev and I selected familiar WDW items — refillable mugs! We purchased purple and blue refillable mugs, which have an Aulani design that matches the beige wallpaper in the halls of the hotel. Red and green options were also available.

Even though the mugs are more expensive at Aulani, we felt we got our money’s worth at $18.99 each over the week we were there.

‘Ama ‘Ama Restaurant at Aulani

We had dinner at Ama Ama — Kev’s salt crusted fish was like nothing we’d ever seen before, with a completely removable crust. He said it was very moist.

Salt Encrusted Fish from Ama Ama

I had the French Maui onion soup and a tomato and cheese salad (two appetizers instead of an entree). Both were excellent.

French Onion Soup and the Tomato Salad from Ama Ama

Makahiki Restaurant and Rip Swirl at Aulani

We had a character breakfast at Makahiki with Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy. I wasn’t as excited about the buffet as some at Disney World, but I did enjoy the [Read more…]

Review: “Dine with an Imagineer” Opportunity at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Finally! One of my Disney dining bucket list items has been crossed off of the list! Along with some wonderful friends, I got the chance to attend a “Dine With an Imagineer” lunch at Disney Hollywood Studios’ Hollywood Brown Derby earlier this month.

Details About Dine With an Imagineer

In case you haven’t heard of it, Dine With an Imagineer is a spectacular opportunity offered for lunch at the Hollywood Brown Derby, and for dinner (on select nights) at the Flying Fish Cafe.

Up to 10 guests get the chance to dine with a real live Walt Disney Imagineer. Your Imagineer will tell you about the work that he or she does, then answer any questions you might have about that work…or anything else that has to do with Disney Imagineering!

Place Setting and Personalized Menu

Cost per person is $60 (taxes and gratuity are added at the table), and the experience has been designed for guests aged 10 and older. You can book this event 180 days in advance, and it’s suggested that you do. It sells out quickly.

We had a gaggle of about 9 Disney fans who attended the lunch, including one VERY smart 11-year-old who had some great questions for the Imagineer. Don’t worry if your group can’t fill the room; Disney will keep taking reservations until the event is at capacity. That means you might have the chance to meet a few new Disney fans!

Now, the first question everyone asks about Dine With an Imagineer is… [Read more…]

Review: Les Chefs de France Restaurant in Epcot

I can remember, years and years ago, while visiting Epcot with my parents on one of my family’s “Easter vacations,” we approached the Worldkey kiosk to book a reservation in France for that evening’s meal. All I knew — around age 7 — is that I probably hated French food, and I was 100% ready to dislike this restaurant.

Well, things have apparently changed in my old age. I’ve enjoyed all of the food I’ve ever had in the “real” country of France, and the same goes for anything I’ve had in the Epcot version of the place as well. Especially at Chefs de France.


Les Chefs de France sits in a quaint corner of Epcot’s World Showcase, just across the bridge from the UK pavilion and the International Gateway.

Les Chefs de France

The restaurant is, aesthetically, one of my very favorites in Walt Disney World. With walls of windows framing a classic French bistro dining room, it’s one of the only restaurants that truly makes me feel as though I’m dining in a foreign location. (I can recall dining in a restaurant in Paris that looked a heck of a lot like this one, in fact!)

Front of Les Chefs de France at Night

Once inside the restaurant, everything is done in dark woods, beige, and [Read more…]

Guest Review: Coronado Springs Resort’s Pepper Market

Bill Iadonisi returns with a colorful and impressive review of the Pepper Market at the Coronado Springs Resort. Take it away, Bill!

When guests vacation to Walt Disney World, they are looking forward to going on their favorite attractions, seeing World-Class shows and entertainment, and of course meeting the Disney Characters. A trip to Disney is an exciting adventure for all. But for many, the rides and attractions are just the tip of the iceberg.

I know that for myself, dining at Disney is a whole world of fun! With menu options from around the world and a huge diversity of food choices, the dining scene is a theme park unto itself.


While most guests hanker to dine in the parks, the resort venues are just as impressive. We know the classic restaurants such as Citricos, the California Grill and Jiko, but the resorts are also home to some of Walt Disney World’s “sleeper” restaurants.

These eateries are hidden gems with mostly low crowds, fantastic menus and easy access. Many times when the parks are booked, you can usually walk right in or have just a short wait before dining. Some of my favorites are the Kona Café and the Captain’s Grille. And here we will review; Coronado Springs Resort’s Pepper Market restaurant.

Atmosphere and Ordering Process

Pepper Market is an open food court located in the main building area of Coronado Springs Resort, called “El Centro.” It is a counter-service restaurant, although your drinks are brought to the table by a server.

But what makes this eatery special is its extensive menu and expansive dining area. Even during crowded times, you can usually find a table. It is themed after a south of the border-feel marketplace. Huge and airy, it is also very colorful, bright and gives the feeling of space versus claustrophobia — something we love in Disney restaurants.

Dining Area

As you make your way to the entrance, (next to Coronado’s table-service restaurant, the Maya Grill) you walk on terracotta tiles and past wrought iron fences adorned with green plants. Everything is vibrant and very colorful. It puts a smile on your face before you are even seated. At the entrance is a [Read more…]