Is Tiffins in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Worth Two Disney Dining Plan Credits?

If you are looking for an eclectic meal in the heart of Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, Tiffins could be the right choice. Open just under two years, Tiffins is a Signature Dining experience — which means it requires two Disney Dining Plan table service credits (or quite an investment from your wallet).

But guests agree that dining in Tiffins is as much about the atmosphere as it is the food. The restaurant is inspired by travel and the wonderful adventures that take place when one steps out of one’s comfort zone. You’ll see nods to travel quite literally everywhere — from wall to wall. You’ll also find love for animals and conservation in the artwork at Tiffins, in keeping with the Park’s theme.

The food at Tiffins is an interesting blend of flavors and ingredients from around the globe, and it’s generally enjoyed by guests who yearn for something adventurous in their dining. Tiffins, and her sister Nomad Lounge, adjust their menus with some regularity (particularly on the Small Plates menus), so if you plan on dining here, you’ll want to keep an eye on the menus.

Tiffins Sign, with tiffins on top

Tiffins Sign, with tiffins on top

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Review and Tips: Breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

We hear it again and again (and we’ve said it ourselves): Cinderella’s Royal Table is a must at least once in your Disney World vacation life.

And most guests who’ve dined in this hard-to-book restaurant inside Cinderella Castle agree that you’re really not there for the food. But the ambiance! The princesses! The views! The whole dining experience (did we mention it’s inside the castle?!) is the draw, even if the food is… a little hit or miss.

And it’s that experience that keeps Cinderella’s Royal Table hopping — with Advance Dining Reservations (ADR) ideally being made right at the 180 day mark — 180 days before the first day of your vacation. (Learn more about making dining reservations at Disney restaurants here.)

If you do get an ADR, prepare to be dazzled by the decor and wooed by the energy in the restaurant. You definitely get the sense that you’re in a special space, and with princesses swooping in for a chat and wishing stars waving in the air, it’s a one of a kind meal.

Cinderella's Royal Table

Cinderella’s Royal Table

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Review: SO MANY Good (NEW!) Eats at The Plaza Restaurant in Walt Disney World

The Plaza Restaurant at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is a classic.

From its prime location at the Cinderella Castle end of Main Street, USA, to its elegant decor and moderately priced menu, The Plaza Restaurant is a truly great value. And the menu is family friendly (including those bottomless milkshakes!), so it’s easy to enjoy a meal with your whole crew.

But flashier dining options have relegated The Plaza to the realm of hidden gems.

And, honestly, we’re kind of okay with that. Because when Be Our Guest is booked solid, The Plaza is often a gettable alternative. And with a few new menu items, my most recent visit was a total home run.

Plaza Sign

Plaza Sign

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2018 Disney Dining Plan Restaurants List

Last June when Walt Disney World announced updates to the 2018 Disney Dining Plan, many guests were thrilled to discover that beginning this year, all three plans include Specialty and Alcoholic Drinks! This means that diners can order delicious milkshakes, fruity smoothies, and tasty adult beverages without having to pay out of pocket.

Southern Sangria and Not Everyone's Margarita

Southern Sangria and Not Everyone’s Margarita

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Review: The Dining Room at Paddlefish in Disney Springs

With so many new (and not-so-new, but still greatly loved) dining experiences in Disney Springs, it can be tough to decide where to make your precious Advance Dining Reservations.

So on a recent visit to Disney Springs, I checked out Paddlefish — this time in the dining room (as opposed to the top deck bar) to get an overview of some of the menu’s most popular items. And while most of it was good, some of it was great (and one item — spoiler alert! — was just bad).

Paddlefish is a brand new restaurant in an old, established building. You’ll recall that Fulton’s Crab House used to reside here, in the docked, multi-storied Empress Lily on Lake Buena Vista; and actually this spot has been a restaurant since 1977. When Paddlefish opened, guests were greeted with a combination of old and new. Neutral and trendy gray paint gave the restaurant a streamlined look, but some details of old remained, like brass railings and the fabulous sternwheel.

So what do you say? Shall we paddle in?

Paddlefish

Paddlefish

Atmosphere

The first floor bar at Paddlefish is a beautiful space, with its curved, recessed ceiling, wall of windows, and various seating arrangements. Definitely a comfortable place to grab a drink or two! [Read more…]

Review: Floridian Pancakes and Lobster Thermidor Burger at Grand Floridian Cafe

With so many dining options to try at Walt Disney World, it’s not every trip that I’m able to return to some classic Resort restaurants — particularly if I’m not staying at the Resort in question.

But on a recent visit, I had a meeting that was (thankfully!) at the Grand Floridian Cafe. Located off the lobby in the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa’s main building, the Grand Floridian Cafe offers lovely views of the rose garden and courtyard pool beyond. It’s nice and tranquil, but not at all stuffy. So if you want to check out the Grand Floridian with your entire crew (including kiddos), this is a great place to try it.

The Cafe menu serves up traditional American dishes with a few nods to seafood and Southern fare in celebration of the Sunshine State, and our most recent trip here was for dinner. But a great feature at the Grand Floridian Cafe is the brunch-style menu offering breakfast dishes (in addition to the lunch offerings) through 2:00 pm. Hence the “Pancakes and Burger” mashup we’re reviewing today!

And there’s another big boon for the Grand Floridian Cafe: since it’s on the Resort Monorail loop, it’s easily accessible from Magic Kingdom and a terrific get-away if you need a little break from the park.

Atmosphere

Like every restaurant at the Grand Floridian, the Cafe is simple and elegant. You won’t find over-the-top, Disney-fied theming in terms of characters or bright colors. But you will feel as though you’ve gone back to the Victorian Era (minus all the stiff social constructs). Check in takes place at a desk with white columns and great trim details.

Grand Floridian Cafe Entrance

Grand Floridian Cafe Entrance

Right away you’ll notice the lattice-and-flowers carpeting, which carries throughout the restaurant. The wood trim also continues into the dining room, where floral wallpaper and tasteful seating await.

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News! New Steak (With NO Mac and Cheese) Debuts at Mama Melrose in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Update: As of January 2018, mac and cheese has returned! See our note at the end of this post! 

Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been a guest go-to for years, and the Strip Steak with Mac and Cheese has — by far — the most fans (yours truly included).

Strip Steak and Mac and Cheese at Mama Melrose's

Strip Steak and Mac and Cheese at Mama Melrose’s

Which is why it pains us to report that the steak has changed. And the Mac and Cheese? It’s disappeared, and has been replaced with… a bed of potatoes. (Whaaaat?!) The new dish is a Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Fingerling Potatoes. [Read more…]

Review: My Favorite Food in Disneyland

OK, for serious. I’m just going to say it. This is the BEST food in Disneyland. Believe me, Napa Rose is incredible, Steakhouse 55 slays, and Club 33 is amazing. I’ve been to all three many times. But if I only have one meal to eat in Disneyland, it’s going to be this one.

We all know that Disney restaurants can be maddeningly inconsistent, but this one? Always good. And these particular menu items are home-runs every single time. It’s a good day for a visit to Cafe Orleans in Disneyland, don’t you think?

Located in New Orleans Square, this casual Table Service restaurant serves consistently killer NOLA French Quarter-inspired fare with a little bonus panache.

New Orleans Square

New Orleans Square

New Orleans Square, for those who haven’t been, is so fun. It’s always Mardi Gras here, people! Big masks, oversized beads, and beautiful architectural details make this place a magnet for visitors to the Happiest Place on Earth.

And Cafe Orleans is right in the heart of things.

Atmosphere

Cafe Orleans is a pretty classy joint. Think stained glass and elegant decor (by theme park standards). It all starts outside. [Read more…]

Review: Yak and Yeti Restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Since its earliest days, I’ve always enjoyed a stop at Yak and Yeti Restaurant.

Yak and Yeti is located in Animal Kingdom’s Asia (you’ll pass it on the corner on your way to the Maharajah Jungle Trek) in the fictional village of Anandapur. Like Tiffins and Restaurantosaurus — and pretty much any restaurant in Animal Kingdom — theming is key here, with decor that is immersive and memorable. While you dine, you are surrounded by images and icons of Asian culture. Even the brightly painted exterior mimics that which you might see on the colorful village streets of Northern India or Nepal.

And as for the food? It’s also usually — dare I say it? – consistent here. Consistently GOOD. If you’ve been reading DFB for any length of time, then you’ll know that is a compliment I rarely bestow, as it’s so rarely earned in any Disney World Table Service restaurant.

So… I headed to Yak and Yeti ON MY BIRTHDAY, because I reeeeally wanted those firecracker shrimp on my special day. Did my most recent visit likewise measure up?

Atmosphere

Once you’re on the right continent in Animal Kingdom, the bright purple stucco exterior that makes up Yak & Yeti Restaurant is accented by arched windows, intricate corbels, and beautifully carved doors.

Yak and Yeti Restaurant

Yak and Yeti Restaurant

The backstory here is that the owner of this building in Anandapur is a man named Arjun, a former merchant who’s turned his opulent home into lodging for travelers. These details account for the eclectic mix of statues, wall hangings, and furniture. The bar area you see below features examples of these details. [Read more…]

News: Disneyland Bids Adieu to Disney Legend Chef Oscar Martinez

If you’ve enjoyed a meal at Carnation Cafe on Main Street, U.S.A., in Disneyland, you’ve likely been in the midst of real Disney royalty –perhaps without even knowing it.

Carnation Cafe

Carnation Cafe

Chef Oscar Martinez has been working in the Cafe for half a century — and he has been working at Disneyland for over sixty total years. This makes Chef Oscar the longest tenured Disneyland cast member ever.

Carnation Cafe's Chef Oscar

Carnation Cafe’s Chef Oscar

But after decades of turning out “Oscar’s Potatoes” and his Loaded Baked Potato Soup, Chef Oscar retired on September 27. (And may we say that it is a well-deserved break?!)

Chef Oscar with his New Penguin Buddies

Chef Oscar

Chef Oscar has been a touchstone for visitors to Walt’s park, often seen first thing in the morning, waving to guests as they entered the park. He was always game for a chat, as our Disneyland correspondent Heather Sievers (@diningindisney) found out one morning.

Oscar started as a bus boy and worked his way up the restaurant ladder, finally achieving fame as a connoisseur of comfort food at Carnation Cafe. It was here that Oscar spent the last fifty years of his service to the Walt Disney Company and to the guests he loved so much.

Chef Oscar

Chef Oscar

And while Oscar has more recently spent his time as an ambassador in the dining room rather than as a chef on the line, his influence will continue to be felt in the Carnation Cafe and in the Company for years to come.

We wish Chef Oscar all the best in his retirement — and thank him for spreading so much Disney magic over the past six decades.

Have you met Chef Oscar? Share your story in the comments below!