News: “Disney Family Culinary Adventure” Cooking Class Now Open to All Disney Guests

We recently told you about new cooking classes at Walt Disney World that take you behind the scenes and into the kitchen with Disney Chefs for a family cooking adventure.

And today, we’re back with tons of details about this hands-on learning experience.

Even Younger Guests Get in on the Action

Even Younger Guests Get in on the Action

The Disney Family Culinary Adventure takes place in the giant catering kitchens of [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Off-The-Radar Disney World Bars and Lounges

Walt Disney World is supa fun, but it’s also go-go-go-go. Sometimes ya just gotta relax.

dfb2015_guide_3d

Of course, there’re all kinds of ways to accomplish that. But after a long, hard day of Disney touring, I love to head to one of my favorite Disney Bars and Lounges.

“Bar” might not be the first word you think of when you picture Mickey Ears and Pixie Dust. But actually, these are some of my favorite spots on property for a number of reasons.

And I know you agree, because when I first published the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, a comprehensive Index of Disney World’s Bars and Lounges was one of our readers’ top requests.

Well — we heard you! And I’m happy to let you know that the DFB Guide includes reviews of every Bar and Lounge in Walt Disney World!

Let’s dive into the Index and take a closer look at a few. You know my favorites, like Territory Lounge and the Dawa Bar. But today, I want to take you on a tour of a few places you may not have discovered yet.

And if you find this information helpful, then be sure to pick up your copy of the Guide today for $4 off using code “2015” right here!

Ready to grab a drink?

A Niche Menu and Free Beer: The Wave Lounge at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

The Wave…of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary resort is a great place to take in a relaxing breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Seldom crowded, the restaurant, located in the quiet back corner of the hotel’s lobby offers a market-inspired menu at a much lower price point than you’ll find at Disney’s suite of signature restaurants. You’ll also find some delicious breakfast options.

But in addition to interesting eats, you’ll also find a pretty cool bar and lounge area.

The Bar at Disney's The Wave Restaurant

The Bar at Disney’s The Wave Restaurant

While the food menu is market-driven, the drink menu features some specialties, too. The Wave’s wine list features New World Wines, primarily from the Southern Hemisphere. And nearly all of the wines featured have one thing in common — screwcaps! Sealing wines with screwcaps is a way to battle cork taint, an unfortunate chemical reaction that can ruin a good bottle of wine. So don’t be put off by screwcaps the next time you see one; many quality New World wines, especially those from New Zealand and Australia, are sealed this way.

Wines at the Wave

Wines at the Wave

Do your tastes run to beer rather than wine? The Wave also features a nice selection of Organic Beers. In fact, if you’re a guest staying at the Contemporary or Bay Lake Towers, you can enjoy a Complimentary Organic Beer Tasting on Saturdays from 3-4PM. (Remember, this is JUST if you’re staying at the resort.)

Beer Flight at The Wave

Beer Flight at The Wave

Just stopping in for a drink? Try the Beer Flight. The presentation is pretty impressive.

A Bar That Switches Things Up: Kona Island Coffee/Sushi Bar

Another favorite stop of mine certainly lives up to the name “bar” — but for completely different reasons. In this case, we’re (mostly) trading cocktails for java and some interesting eats.

New Tiki Statue in Lobby at the Polynesian!

New Tiki Statue in Lobby at the Polynesian!

The Polynesian Village Resort has just undergone a major facelift. We’ve welcomed new spots, like the Pineapple Lanai (the resort’s purveyor of Dole Whips these days) as well as the crazy popular Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (waiting times have been up to 6 hours during its soft opening!)

Trader Sam's door sign

Trader Sam’s Door Sign

But with all of the changes, the resort has maintained most of its beloved eateries, including [Read more…]

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Review: Japan Food and Beverage Pairing

We are ramping up for another fantastic Epcot Food and Wine Festival! Today, we’re reviewing a fun Special Event from the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

We are heading over to Tokyo Dining in the Japan Pavilion for the Food and Beverage Pairing experience. The light meals feature beverages paired with tasting-sized portions of the restaurant’s cuisine.

I’ve enjoyed dinner at Tokyo Dining as well as lots of fun meals at Teppan Edo, so I was pretty sure I was in for a treat! While we’d done the Morocco food and beverage pairing event, we’d not yet experienced the Japan version. Here we go!

Atmosphere

When I arrived for the Food and Beverage Pairing, I checked in at the stand that serves both Teppan Edo and Tokyo Dining. The cool, sleek waiting area features simple, modern decor and comfortable low lighting.

Waiting Area Serves Both Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo

This area is also shared by the two restaurants.

Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo Waiting Area from Another Angle

Step into the Tokyo Dining seating area, and the same modern Japanese vibe is prevalent throughout. A sushi show kitchen takes up space along one wall.

Tokyo Dining Seating and Open Sushi Kitchen

The other side of the restaurant is dominated by [Read more…]

Review: Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Disney World’s Downtown Disney

Ready to get yer game on? We’re heading back to Splitsville Luxury Lanes in search of good eats and good times!

Splitsville Orlando just celebrated its first birthday this past December, so we were excited to experience it again now that it’s really settled in to Downtown Disney’s West Side.

Splitsville definitely changed the West Side landscape immediately upon its arrival, because this place is HUGE. Two floors with outdoor and indoor seating, five bars, a billiards area… oh, and the small matter of thirty bowling lanes!

Atmosphere

You can tell you’re in a festive place even before setting foot inside Splitsville’s doors. Music is always playing in the outdoor seating area, and it’s often provided by live musicians.

Splitsville outdoors

Splitsville outdoors

The other hint as to what’s going on here is the colorful display of bowling balls.

Splitsville Bowling Balls

Splitsville Bowling Balls

Do I bowl? Not really. Do I totally want one of these? You bet!

Mickey and Minnie Bowling Balls

Mickey and Minnie Bowling Balls

Upon entering the building, you immediately hear music and the sound of pins being downed by bowling balls. Because there is a LOT to take in right away, these signs directing you where to go for dining and/or bowling are especially helpful.

Splitsville entrance

Splitsville entrance

Splitsville entrance

Splitsville entrance

We headed left to the Dining Check-in and mentioned our Advanced Dining Reservation. Yes, Splitsville does take ADRs, and it’s nice to have one on a weekend, especially. But — thanks to the enormous size — it can be a great place to try to score a walk-in! We were seated right away (even though we arrived about 15 minutes in advance of our ADR), but we couldn’t resist taking a look around.

Colorful lockers and rows of bowling shoes remind you that this isn’t only a restaurant, my friends. It’s the highest end bowling alley dive you’ve ever been to.

Lockers at Splitsville

Lockers at Splitsville

Rows and Rows of Bowling Shoes are encountered when you walk into Splitsville

Rows and Rows of Bowling Shoes are encountered when you walk into Splitsville

As your eyes take in all there is to see – including the enormous escalator joining the first and second floors, the entire vibe is almost over stimulating. The fun and casual attitude of the staff, however, helps you to relax right away and feel at home.

Bowling Lanes at Splitsville

Bowling Lanes at Splitsville

There are nods all over the place to the [Read more…]

News! 2014 WDW Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic Dates and Seminars

Back by popular demand, The Swan and Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World has announced that it will hold its Fifth Annual Food and Wine Classic this Fall!

Coinciding with the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic offers even more great food and drink for Disney fans!

This event is always amazing and very well done. We can’t wait to go again this year!

2014 Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic Details

Mark your calendars for Friday, October 31, and Saturday, November 1, 2014. Seminars begin at 4:30 p.m. and the Causeway is open from 5:30-9:00 p.m.

Dining al fresco on the Causeway at the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic!

Dining al fresco on the Causeway at the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic!

This year’s event continues the tradition of fun and informative food and beverage seminars that focus on wine, cocktails, sake, beer, pasta-making, and more. The seminars are conducted by experts in each field and last for approximately 60-90 minutes.

At 5:30, the Causeway between the Swan and Dolphin comes alive as the staff of the Resort’s award-winning restaurants host tasting booths. In addition, there is live entertainment as you sample and stroll around the beautiful grounds!

Wine Seminar at the 2012 Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic

Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic Seminars

You can see details on all of the 2013 Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic Seminars here!

And new for this year, the Classic is adding a Cheese seminar!

Seminars this year include:

Causeway Tasting Booths with Optional Beer Garden Upgrade!

The Causeway between the Swan and Dolphin Resorts will have tons of great offerings again this year. And we can’t wait to see the menus! We’ll be back soon with full details for you!

Want a little more than just the standard tasting experience? Upgrade to the [Read more…]

Disney Food Pics of the Week: Sushi!

We are back with another fun series of food photos, courtesy of Disney Food Blog Readers! That’s right, we love to show off the talents of folks who post their gorgeous photos on Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza, our Flickr group!

As you know, Sushi continues to be popular at Disney and everywhere else! Let’s take a look at some of the beautiful and fresh options for this Japanese delicacy that you’ve captured on film around Walt Disney World.

Spicy Kazan at California Grill

Fans of sushi who are also lovers of Disney dining know that one of the most awesome places to get sushi in Walt Disney World is California Grill. This uber popular fine dining spot, located high atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, is known for fresh, seasonal ingredients, Pan-Asian influences, and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. And don’t forget to stay for the fireworks!

But when it comes to eats, this Spicy Kazan Roll looks pretty awesome. And if you’re a sushi-nonconformist like me, be sure to try the Pork Nigiri!

Photographer: Natasha Joyan

Spicy Kazan Roll from California Grill

Spicy Kazan Roll from California Grill

Tuna at Flying Fish Cafe

The Flying Fish Cafe remains one of my top choices for dining when I’m in Walt Disney World. I never pass up a chance to eat at this stellar restaurant. With food that’s always something special and a whimsical, carnival-like atmosphere, it always rates highly in my book.

One of the most popular appetizers that you can get here is the Yellowfin Tuna Tartare and Crispy Tempura Tuna-Vegetable Sushi Roll. We’ve tried it and it’s awesome!

Photographer: Stan4dSteph

Tuna at Flying Fish Cafe

Tuna at Flying Fish Cafe

Sushi at Wolfgang Puck Cafe

Another great spot for California cuisine is Wolfgang Puck Cafe and Dining Room at Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney WestSide. And along with other house specialties like their [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.

Atmosphere

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 —

Sunset

— 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!

Sunset

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!

Bar

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…]

Review and Preview: The Causeway at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic

In just a few short days, we will be headed to the The Fourth Annual Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic!

This event, which coincides with the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, is a food and wine lover’s dream.

This year’s Food and Wine Classic will take place on Friday, October 18 and Saturday, October 19. The two-day event consists of food and wine tasting booths set up on the resort’s beautiful causeway each evening.

Guests can also take part in a number of special food and beverage seminars for an additional fee. Seminars take place at 4:30PM both days, and the Causeway booths are open from 5:30 until 9:00PM on Friday and Saturday.

In addition, guests can enjoy a complimentary Cocktail 101 seminar three times during each evening on the Causeway as well as live musical entertainment.

Tasting Plate from Shula's Steakhouse

We’ve had the opportunity to attend the event for the last three years, and we’re looking forward to what 2013 holds! To give you an idea of what lies in store for guests of the Food and Wine Classic, let’s take a look at the 2012 event!

Atmosphere

When you first arrive, you’ll most likely need to pick up your tickets at the Check-In Table.

Check In for the Causeway

Here, staff will check for your reservation, and you’ll receive either your tickets or a wristband, as well as a palate plate and a wine glass.

We had wristbands for the event, which meant that we were free to enjoy unlimited trips to each of the tasting stations. If you prefer a ticketed approach, however, you can purchase books of 25 tickets (most of the booth items require between 2 and 6 tickets).

Food and Wine Classic Wristbands and My Seminar Ticket

For this event, tents are lined up the length of the walkway between the Swan and Dolphin Resorts as well as along the walkway behind the Swan. The resorts are located within walking distance of Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The Causeway Setup

Tables of all sizes are covered with brightly colored tablecloths, and offer guests a place to sit and relax while enjoying their food and drink.

Tables and Booths Ready for Guests

In addition to tables with chairs, guests can also take advantage of high tops if they prefer to stand.

Individual Tables

It wasn’t too long before the crowd began to swell as guests looked forward to tasting a myriad of dishes.

Causeway is Getting Busy

On Crescent Terrace, guests could also take advantage of [Read more…]

Full Review: The NEW California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Update: Scroll to the end of the Eats section (yep, waaayyy down there!) for a mini-review of opening night, courtesy of one of our favorite DFB guest writers, Julie B!

We are headed back to the fifteenth floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort today, as we take a closer look at the brand new California Grill!

The outpouring of Disney food fan love has just been astounding throughout the last eight months as we’ve continued to watch the newly re-imagined California Grill take shape. Folks who love the restaurant and its amazing menu have been anxious for news. Would it retain its panache? Would beloved dishes from the old menu make the cut? How would we survive with no Yoshie??

We are happy to report that, if possible, California Grill is even more spectacular than before. We were happy to show you a first look at all that was new after last Thursday’s media event. Today, we’re unveiling more details. If you haven’t already, get ready to make those advance dining reservations. I think you’re going to like what you see.

Menus

Settle in. This is going to be a long one!

Atmosphere

Immediately, as you step out of the elevator onto the fifteenth floor, you are enveloped by the cool vibe of California Grill. You know at once that you’re in for a special experience.

If you weren’t aware of it already, now you know: wine matters in this restaurant. A lot. Wine coolers aren’t dressed up to be anything else; they’re unapologetically part of the decor here. This makes sense, as the restaurant now boasts 1,600 bottles of wine in the state-of-the-art wine display.

You’ll find around 250 wines on the list, with 80 available by the glass. And with more than 20 sommeliers on staff, you are literally enveloped in a wealth of wine knowledge.

Wine, Anyone?

Straight ahead, you’ll find the trademark view of Seven Seas Lagoon. With any luck there will be a spectacular sunset over the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa during your visit like there was for ours.

This area continues to serve as the lounge for the restaurant. You can still score a table here with no advance dining reservation, and the full restaurant menu is available for ordering.

Entrance and Bank of Wine Fridges

The bar area continues to be highlighted by the ceiling’s circular cutout. While the shape is the same, the whole bar has been overhauled with new finishes. Comfortable seating beckons you to relax and have a cocktail or two.

Bar

To quote one of my Disney friends, nothing here is the same as it was! The lights are wonderfully whimsical. While modern, there’s still a retro feel here. In fact, the lights remind me a lot of old pictures I’ve seen of the Contemporary from the 1970s.

Seating Area is Ready for Guests

Tables are set for service. I was glad to see that the [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: July 7, 2013

I hope you had an awesome Independence Day Week if you’re in the USA!

Mickey Mouse July 4th Cupcake!

We had a great time covering all of the Limited Time Magic treats in the Disney World parks for the 4th of July!

These are available through today, July 7th, but hopefully that strawberry and blueberry shortcake sundae will stick around… :-)

And there’s lots more Disney Food News where that came from! Let’s check it out…

Disney Food News

Catch up on the latest food news from Disney!

Of course, there’s more! Check out all the latest Disney Food News — even the stuff we don’t mention in posts on the blog! — on our Disney Food News Pin Board, including a possible closing date for Cap’n Jack’s at Downtown Disney Orlando.

DFB Reader Finds

If you find a fun new food — or other edible awesomeness — in or from Disney, share a photo with us on facebook or twitter so we can add it to our DFB Reader Finds each Sunday!

Monsters University treats have all over Disney parks, and have been inspiring DFB readers at home! Take a look at these homemade Mike cookies sent in by DFB Reader Angela!

Homemade cookies!

And DFB Reader Joe sent us these fun cake pops in the making!

Cake Pops!

The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining Holiday Sale

Hurry! Our holiday discount ends today! Pick up our 2013 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining e-Book for $4 off using code STARS!

This comprehensive e-Book offers over 400 pages of expert information, color photographs, advice, reviews, and details about Dining in Disney World. And these awesome bonus items are included:

  • Downloadable worksheets for planning your trip.
  • Seven sample one-day dining itineraries to help you with brainstorming.
  • A comprehensive index of bars and lounges.
  • An index of some of our favorite Top 5 lists.
  • Four food-themed scavenger hunts — one for each Disney World theme park!
  • Disney Dining Trivia to play while waiting in line, or waiting for a table.

Pick up your copy today with code STARS for a $4 discount! As a downloadable PDF, the book can be read on your computer, smartphone, and tablet easily!

Want Even More Savings?

If you’re headed to Disney World this year or in early 2014, our BEST DEAL can be found when you bundle for savings!

Right now, get over 40% off of four of our most popular Disney Dining Guides with the DFB Guide + Snacks Bundle.

Including the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining AND all three of our DFB Snacks Guides. Get more information about the DFB Guide + Snacks Bundle here!

On to the Round-Up!

Eat, Sleep, Run Disney dines at Carthay Circle in Disney California Adventure.

Mickey Fix delights with this Darth Vader candy and ice cube mold! Perfect for summer parties; we love the Vader S’mores idea!

Pop Century Site highlights Tie-Dye Cheesecake and Pop Waffles!

Walt Disney World for Grown Ups stops by Liberty Square Marketin the Magic Kingdom.

Running at Disney enjoys a feast at Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Disney Hipsters enjoys a vegetarian lunch at Whispering Canyon Cafe.

Main Street Gazette samples goodies at the Territory Lounge at Wilderness Lodge.

Disney Parks Blog heads to Disneyland to make s’mores!