2009 Candlelight Processional Dinner Packages

Candlelight Processional (copyright Disney)

Candlelight Processional (copyright Disney)

Please Note: According to MousePlanet, Disneyland’s Candlelight Spectacular will be a hard ticket event for D23 Charter Members only, with an additional price tag of $275. The following information is rumored for Disney World ONLY.

Stitch Kingdom is reporting that this year’s Candlelight Processional Dinner Package at Disney World includes access to a reserved area to watch Illuminations: Reflections of Earth! This added benefit might just make it that much more worth it to book a Dinner Package!

The site also lists all of the specifics regarding the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package, including costs and times for the different tiers of restaurants:
Tier I: Biergarten and Garden Grill
Tier II: Nine Dragons, Restaurant Marrakesh, Rose and Crown, and San Angel Inn
Tier III: Chefs De France, Coral Reef, Le Cellier, Teppen Edo, Tokyo Dining, Tutto Italia

Word on the street (e.g. the message boards) is that booking this year will be on the regular 90-day schedule, and that Processional Dinner Packages will not be available via the online booking system.

As of right now, the Candlelight Processional will be offered November 27 – December 30, 2009, at 5:00, 6:45, and 8:15 pm.

Crystal Palace: A Great Reason To Get Up Early

Early Morning on Main Street

Early Morning on Main Street

The Early-Morning Advance Dining Reservation (ADR)
One of the well-known tips among Disney enthusiasts is that you should always try to book a dining reservation for breakfast in a theme park before it opens. Why? Because this means you get in before the general masses. You get the golden opportunity to wander through a practically empty Disney park. It’s magic at its finest. (Plus, if you eat quickly enough, you can make it over to the Adventureland rope and be first in line for Splash Mountain…but I didn’t tell you that.)

Empty Tomorrowland

Empty Tomorrowland

One of my favorite restaurants at which to snatch up one of these break-of-dawn reservations is Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom Theme park of Disney World. This is a character breakfast, so you get to share your noms with Pooh and the gang (usually Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet); it’s a buffet, so you pretty much dictate how long your breakfast lasts; and it’s HUGE, so you have a great chance of getting those elusive 8:05 AM time slots.

Nearly Empty Main Street

Nearly Empty Main Street

So with all that going for it, you’ve got to give it a try! And I didn’t even mention that many guests deem Crystal Palace eats to be some of the best buffet food at Disney, scout’s honor.

...And the Castle

...And the Castle

Getting Into the Park for Your Reservation
While it may seem like a red tape nightmare to get into the park an hour early, it’s usually pretty streamlined. Bring your dining reservation confirmation number with you to the park and show up about 20 minutes before your scheduled time. You’ll simply enter through the turnstyles marked for the Breakfast crowd (usually all the way to the right, but this can change); a Cast Member might check off your name and confirmation number, and then you’re free to explore Main Street in all its empty glory. This is why I suggest arriving 20 minutes early; you get to take all of those fascinating photos. Don’t forget to make your reservation for a day without extra magic hours in the morning!

By the way, if you’re staying at a Disney resort and taking the bus to the Magic Kingdom, a “breakfast bus” usually begins running at least 30 minutes before the first reservation in any park. The monorail also starts running far enough in advance as well.

Time for Breakfast!

Time for Breakfast!

Checking In for Your Reservation
The Crystal Palace can be found between Main Street USA and Adventureland — it’s the huge, glass domed building to the left of the walkway. Simply head up the steps (past the throngs of people, most likely — the Magic Kingdom may seem empty, but almost everyone who IS in the park is at the same restaurant) and jump into line to check in for your reservation.

magickingdom1-093

Once your party is called, you’ll head into the beautiful Crystal Palace restaurant and be greeted by…

The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers...

The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers...

…some very familiar friends! Not to mention an absolutely stunning, light-filled atrium made entirely of clear and stained glass. For all of Disney’s signature dining restaurants designed by award-winning interior artists, I find Crystal Palace’s atrium to be one of the most gorgeous design aspects on property.

The Beautiful Central Atrium

The Beautiful Central Atrium

A Buffet With Character!
Once you’re seated in one of the two side rooms (these are beautiful, too — paneled with mirrors and filled with plants) you’re free to head up to the buffet.

There are two sides to the buffet, and these are mirror images of one another. The two sides culminate at the customize-your-own-omelet station in the center of the semi-circular buffet.

The Buffet

The Buffet

Hot Items are Identical on Both Sides of the Buffet

Hot Items are Identical on Both Sides of the Buffet

The Buffet

The Buffet

On the far ends of the buffet lines are cold items: yogurts, granola and other toppings, fruit, salmon, breads, etc. In the center you’ll find hot items: breakfast pizzas, breakfast meats, waffles, the famous puffed french toast, breakfast potatoes, and omelets.

Cereals

Cereals

In the middle of the room you’ll find muffins, cereals, and Pooh’s famous breakfast lasagne.

Pooh's Breakfast Lasagne

Pooh's Breakfast Lasagne

Baked Items

Baked Items

The food is fairly similar to most of the other Disney breakfast buffets, which is actually quite good. Here are a few more close-up foods of some of our favorites. That Mickey Waffle might look familiar to some of you! It’s my avatar on Twitter!

Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizza

Mickey Waffles

Mickey Waffles

Puffed French Toast

Puffed French Toast

Pooh and Friends
Once you have your food, it might be time for the first Character Parade! Hopefully you haven’t forgotten that some of your favorite friends are here, and they can’t wait to have a great time with you (and/or your kids…they’re good to go either way).

Piglet Leading the Parade!

Piglet Leading the Parade!

While Character teams (Pooh and Piglet, and Tigger and Eeyore) take turns visiting tables on either side of the restaurant, some sort of Character Parade or Celebration occurs when it’s time for the teams to switch restaurant sides. This is when you should encourage your little ones to go find a character and follow along. Cast Members will be there to help move the parades forward.

There’s usually much singing and music; napkin “twirling” is a common activity during these functions. All in all, it’s a good time!

Eeyore Being Shy During the Parade

Eeyore Being Shy During the Parade

And then it’s back to signing autographs, taking photos, and making people smile for the characters (and back to eating for you!).

Tigger Signing Autographs...Sort Of...

Tigger Signing Autographs...Sort Of...

And then, if you’re lucky, you pay the bill when the park is just about to open. I couldn’t resist posting this photo of a family following Alice (in Wonderland) as she hurried to “unlock” Fantasyland and her TeaCups ride right at opening time!

Alice is Very, Very Late in Opening the TeaCups Ride!

Alice is Very, Very Late in Opening the TeaCups Ride!

So you can see why Crystal Palace is one of my favorites for breakfast, but don’t forget that you can dine here for lunch and dinner as well! Both of those meals are buffets as well, and offer great food (in my opinion).

Enjoy!

Mid-Century Nostalgia

One of the Waiting Area Living Rooms

One of the Waiting Area Living Rooms

One of the unsung heroes of dining at Walt Disney World is the 50’s Prime Time Cafe, a diner where the food is decent, the servers are funny, and the decor is the real reason you’re there.

Reminiscent of their youth for those over 50 and the Wonder Years for those under 40, 50’s Prime Time takes pride in its less-than-chic furnishings. Knick Knacks prevail in colors like cornflower blue and avocado, and, more than once, you’ll hear “didn’t Mom used to have one of those?”

A Coveted TV Table

A Coveted TV Table

Arrive early and request a “TV Table.” This is a table for four or five that has a TV right next to it, so that you can watch the loop of black-and-white show snippets that includes The Mickey Mouse Club (what’s more fun than an egg race?), Spin and Marty, I Married Joan, The Dick van Dyke Show, and others.

The food here is less than stellar, usually on a par with a bad Denny’s, but you can score some pretty good fried chicken, chicken pot pie, and meatloaf. They recently took the best dish off the menu–a fried boursin cheese served with toasted baguette slices and grapes–but the atmosphere is almost enough to keep me coming back. Service is inconsistent and based largely on your waiter–who happens to be playing the part of your Aunt, Uncle, cousin, or brother and is at liberty to force you to eat your vegetables…no kidding. Be sure to ask if you can see the photo albums!

Chocolate Malt and Dessert Viewfinder

Chocolate Malt and Dessert Viewfinder

Dessert is another good reason to visit this restaurant. Again, the quality isn’t great, but Disney comes through on the themeing! Your dessert menu is a Viewfinder, and you get to feel like a kid all over again when you click through the enticing photos to “choose your poison.” FYI: the milkshakes are great, and the s’mores have a good reputation.

So, if you’ve got one of those free dining slots open, I suggest you pop on by 50’s Prime Time Cafe for lunch. While the food could be better, the experience can be a true Disney highlight.

Free Dining at Walt Disney World–The Pros and Cons

The pros and cons of this offer are different for everyone, so I thought I’d take a minute to give you my specific “set of learnings” from my previous free dining experiences:

  1. Free dining means I get to use up all of my table service credits in three days by eating at California Grill every night
  2. Free dining means that Yachtsman Steakhouse stops serving Ribeye because it takes up too much space on the grill
  3. Free dining means I leave for the airport with about 20 bottles of water because I wasn’t able to use all of my snack credits (blame California Grill)
  4. Free dining means I get to discover that Casey’s Corner hot dogs and french fries are the best hot dogs and french fries in Disney World, and that’s that.
  5. Free dining means I should leave more tummy room to use snack credits on Dole Whips!
  6. Free dining means I have to book my advanced dining reservations even earlier than before!
  7. Free dining means that the ghost town that was September in Disney World has now turned into a literal free-for-all! Use fastpass!
  8. HAVE FUN!

Getting It Your Way

Disney is on a customization kick. You can get customized t-shirts, customized park tickets, customized dining plans…you can even customize your Mickey Ear Hats now!

So this is why I insist I should be able to customize my meals as well! I’m one of those picky eaters who never orders directly off the menu. I’m always adding here, substituting there…it’s likely very annoying, yet oddly commonplace for the restaurant waitstaff to have to deal with vacationers like me.

The Perfect Sundae

The Perfect Sundae

But Disney CMs overall are well-trained to endure crazies like myself, and make me feel entirely comfortable to customize my meals willy-nilly. One of my favorite places to do this is Beaches and Cream, where they’ll gladly create for me my very own dessert creation! This is a ginormous brownie topped with ice cream, hot fudge, and peanut butter. C’mon. You know you want it!

Beaches and Cream Counter

Beaches and Cream Counter

Beaches and Cream is located at Disney’s Beach Club resort, in the Epcot resort area. There are only a few tables in this ice cream parlor (which also serves burgers, hot dogs, and the like), and they don’t take reservations, so arrive during off-hours to cut your wait. Open 11am-11pm.

And don’t forget to order the famous Kitchen Sink, made with every flavor of ice cream, topping, and candy they have in the joint and topped with a whole can of whipped cream!

Kitchen Sink (c Rough Guides)

Kitchen Sink (c Rough Guides)

Butterscotch Sundae

Butterscotch Sundae

“Book Early” Series: Le Cellier

Le Cellier

Le Cellier

Lots of folks just glide right by the large, wrought-iron gate leading to the beautiful replica of Vancouver’s Victoria Gardens in Epcot’s Canada Pavilion. They figure it’s just a garden, of which there are MANY in Disney World, so why stop to gawk when you could move on to Soarin’?

Breadsticks

Breadsticks

Le Cellier, that’s why. French for “the cellar,” Le Cellier is the Canada Pavilion’s table-service steakhouse restaurant that’s known for its filet with mushroom risotto,

Cheddar Cheese Soup

Cheddar Cheese Soup

cheddar cheese and Moosehead Beer soup, and delicious breads. Le Cellier has been on top for a while now, and quality and service haven’t seemed to suffer for the many years I’ve been dining there. It’s dark, cellar-like dining room provides plenty of cover for Disney big-wigs who have been rumored to hold business meetings on the premises.

Sausage and Corn Polenta

Sausage and Corn Polenta

Le Cellier is part of our “Book Early” Series, because it’s practically impossible to get a dinner reservation here, and only slightly more possible to get a lunch reservation.

Filet with Mushroom Risotto

Filet with Mushroom Risotto

The place is booked solid six months in
advance, and, in my opinion, Le Cellier could easily pay an extra cast member full-time wages to turn away potential walk-in diners.

When you do get a seat, indulge in that Cheddar Cheese soup, the new sausage and corn appetizer, and the lovely filet mignon (though we like the good ol’ burger, served with black diamond cheddar, just as much). If you still have room

Burger and Fries

Burger and Fries

for dessert the maple creme brulee is wonderful, but I tend to grab the seasonal cobbler most of the time!

Disney + Food = Happiness

We all love pictures, so I’ll post as many as I can. PLEASE send in yours as well–webmaster@disneyfoodblog.com–and be sure to let me know how to credit your work in the blog!

My favorite thing to do in Disney World is eat. And you should admit right now that you love it, too. I don’t know about you, but my Disney Vacation starts with restaurant planning, and I’ll take any opinions I can get (especially if there are pictures attached to the opinions!).

'Ohana Barbeque

'Ohana Barbeque

Here’s hoping that this blog will give you a little “taste” of what’s available for your tummies at Walt Disney World. Whether you’re eating table-service (where a waiter brings your food) or counter service (as in: fast food), there are high-brow, low-brow, hoity toity, and down home options. Whatever type of food you want, you can likely get it (or something close to it) at Disney World.