Review: Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Resort has long been one of my favorite counter service locations.

The yummo Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Cook’s delicious cupcakes are a great reason to visit!

UPDATE: Dole Whip is no longer being served at Captain Cook’s, is no longer self-serve, and is no longer available 24 hours a day. You’ll now find Dole Whip at the Pineapple Lanai in Disney’s Polynesian Village in addition to Aloha Isle at the Magic Kingdom. You can also find Dole Whip available intermittently at Animal Kingdom’s Tamu Tamu Refreshments, and at Epcot during some special events. On the upside, you can also get a Dole Whip Float at Pineapple Lanai!

But the best part? The 24-hour access to Dole Whips is truly epic. (Note, they DO clean the Dole Whip machine for a few hours in the middle of the night once a week, so Avoid. That. Night.)

On a recent Disney World visit, I headed back to Captain Cook’s to try another fan favorite – the Pork Sandwich. That day I found a few more surprises waiting for me, and I can’t wait to tell you about them…

Atmosphere

Hidden toward the back of the resort on the first floor, it can be difficult to find Captain Cook’s. But forge ahead, my friends. It’s worth it. ;-)

Outside View

The restaurant is small, but well-organized. There are several different seating areas, so if the first one is full, just head to the next one to find a table.

Indoor Seating

Seating is both indoors and outdoors here, and you’ll find plenty of four-top square tables with padded chairs. Huge banana leaves and a woven motif dress the standard restaurant tables up a bit.

Along the wall, you’ll also find mixed seating with a couple of booth options. Windows along one wall let in plenty of light and also give you a view of the outdoor seating area.

Indoor Seating with a View

Outdoor tables and chairs are in close proximity to both the restaurant and the pool. With the big umbrellas and lush landscape, this is a terrific place to sit on those [Read more…]

Review: Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe — Vegetarian Style!

Editor’s note: Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe underwent a major menu change in 2015. These items are no longer available.

We all know that Pecos Bill’s is a terrific place to grab a burger and fries, right?

But on a recent visit I really wanted to try out a few new-to-me items that I’d been hearing about: the corn on the cob, and the onion rings.

So what began as casual curiosity ended up being a completely vegetarian meal. And how did a burger joint fare as a vegetarian option? Read on…

Atmosphere

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe (known to many just as “Pecos Bill’s”) in the Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland is extremely popular. I would venture a guess that this dining location and Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe see the majority of the counter-service traffic in the Magic Kingdom.

Pecos Bill Sign

Straddling Adventureland and Frontierland, the restaurant’s architecture seems to include both Caribbean and Western influences.

Sign from Frontierland Side

But the story of Pecos Bill clearly signals that the heart of this eatery is firmly planted in the Old West. The Great State of Texas, to be exact!

Story of Pecos Bill – click image for larger version

Don’t forget to always respect the Code of the West!

Inside, you’ll find beams on the low ceilings and soft light (sometimes it can get downright [Read more…]

Review: Backlot Express at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Now with New Menu AND Buffalo Nuggets!)

Time to head to one of my favorite counter service spots in Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Backlot Express! And there’s a brand new menu in place! We’ve have more for you on that in just a few paragraphs. But first, let’s take a look around…

Atmosphere

From the name alone, you can quickly deduce that this counter service mainstay is, in fact, located in the Backlot area of the theme park. (I know. What would you do without me?)

To locate it, head straight back and to the left as you enter the park. You’ll know you’re getting close when you pass the Sounds Dangerous and Star Tours attractions.

The premise here is that you’ve wandered into a functioning part of the Disney’s Hollywood Studios backlot, where they store all of the props, paint all the sets, fashion all of the haywire stunt gear, and fix all of the machinery needed to put on the show. It’s a glorified warehouse…but that “glorified” part is where Disney’s imagineers shine.

Outside View

As you head in to order you’ll walk past the outdoor seating area, which is nicely shaded. You begin to feel the vibe of the place even here, with mismatched patio chairs and interesting outdoor props, like giant plaster statues, and classic automobiles.

Shaded Seating Area

It’s completely fascinating to wander around and through this huge spot. Imagineers have created the theme to feel as if you’re about to run into someone who’s working on a film while you’re there. There are all kinds of props everywhere, even hanging above you.

Dragon Prop - You Never Know What You Might Find Here!

You’ll also see lots of [Read more…]

Snack Series: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake and Key Lime Pie at Boardwalk Bakery

I’ve fallen into a bit of a habit when it comes to walking the Boardwalk in Walt Disney World, and it always includes heading into the Boardwalk Bakery to check out what’s new!

This big bakery with a teensy-tiny little sales area for purchasing goodies is a hidden gem and hot-spot when it comes to unique, can’t-get-em-anywhere-else sweets and savories like the Cheesecake Brownie and Mickey Face Cake.

Atmosphere

As I said, while the bakery itself is large (they create baked goods and wedding cakes for the area), the area where guests can actually purchase things is very small. Almost an afterthought.

Boardwalk Bakery Sign

And as much as I love Boardwalk Bakery, the big detractor is the lack of indoor seating. Rain or shine, sweltering or less sweltering, you have to take your purchase outside to eat it. Sure there’s a bit of an overhang, but that hardly constitutes indoor seating.

Bakery Seating

Still, it can be very nice — should the weather cooperate — to sit outside and enjoy the view of Crescent Lake. There’s also great people watching to be had here! (If you see me say Hi — I’ll be the one with the camera who’s super sweaty and probably running late for something…and I’ll likely still have chocolate on my face from something or other.)

Eats

Still, this is a terrific spot to have in your back pocket as you head off to a busy day in the parks. They have a variety of [Read more…]

Review: Citricos at Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort

Come along with us on a great date night destination at Walt Disney World — Citricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa!

If you haven’t had the pleasure, there are so many reasons to give this wonderful restaurant a try. It’s a little easier to get an Advance Dining Reservation here than other, more popular spots in the Magic Kingdom area.

But with food that rivals the hottest spots at Disney World — and a quiet, comfortable atmosphere — this has become a restaurant we return to again and again. Does it continue to wow? We shall see…

Atmosphere

Citricos is tucked back behind Victoria & Albert’s (another review we’ll be treating you to soon!) on the Grand Floridian’s second floor. And with that “hidden” location, Citricos is often the overlooked signature dining spot here in the Magic Kingdom resort area. Diners often gravitate to California Grill or Narcoossee’s over Citricos in favor of spectacular fireworks views.

But don’t underestimate this place. While the fireworks viewing potential is pretty small here, sometimes being the “odd man out” can make a restaurant even more compelling. Citricos’ strengths come in the form of warmth, elegance, and a very quiet, comfortable atmosphere. I keep saying “comfortable” over and over again, and I’m pretty sure it’s because these dining chairs are some of the best on property! No kidding!

Seating Area

Warm light, sunny colors, and copper details make this an inviting space. (And did I mention the chairs? They’re comfortable.) A full bank of floor-to-ceiling windows lets in plenty of natural light during daytime hours.

Seating Area Near Windows

I like the whimsical, colorful glass touches on the tables. The candle holder and bread plates really add a pop of color to the formal place settings.

Table Setting

It’s always fun to watch the action in the open kitchen. The setting is beautiful, and the staff is poised and professional as they go about dinner service. (Don’t forget to take a peek as you walk to your table to see what items you might want to try!)

Exhibition Kitchen and Expediting Station

Off to the side of the restaurant — just next to the kitchen — is the Chef’s Domain. I’ve had the pleasure of eating in this private dining room recently for a good friend’s birthday dinner, and it’s very nice. You can order from a specialized menu or stick with the regular offerings. For events ranging from a private dinner party to a more elaborate affair, this is a great spot. This must be booked well ahead of time, and there’s a food and beverage minimum cost.

And as a bonus, you can get a really good view of the pastry specialists working at their craft – yum!

Pastry Chef Preparing Desserts

Now, back to our regular old dining room experience! Just walking to our table was enough to excite us about the meal! We were ready to get started.

Eats

The menu at Citricos focuses on [Read more…]

Quick Bites: Pot Stickers and Pork Buns in Epcot’s China Pavilion

We’re back in the World Showcase of Epcot today with a peek at a few snacks from The Lotus Blossom Cafe and the Joy of Tea!

Atmosphere

To be honest, I often overlook the Lotus Blossom Cafe — the China Pavilion’s counter service spot — just because there are usually better options for my particular palate elsewhere. But the Joy of Tea, that adorable little stand with some of the best drinks in World Showcase, gets more love from me.

And if nothing’s going to cut it for you except Chinese food while you’re powering through the World Showcase, then it’s time to stop at these spots!

Lotus Blossom Cafe

Located just past the entrance of the Nine Dragons Restaurant in the China Pavilion, Lotus Blossom boasts modern decor and indoor/outdoor seating.

Eats
Here’s an idea of what you’ll find for a quick bite to eat at Lotus Blossom. As you can see, the menu includes pretty standard fare like Egg Rolls and Sweet and Sour Chicken.

Lotus Blossom Cafe Menu - Click to Enlarge

Since I’ve recently been going through a pot sticker phase, I wanted to try them here.

Pot Stickers - Lotus Blossom Cafe

I’m no Chinese food expert, but they were [Read more…]

Snack Series: Contempo Cafe Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake

Time for a great new Disney Cupcake addition to the Contempo Cafe bakery case in Disney World’s Contemporary Resort!

Our love for the Contempo’s Red Velvet Cupcake with its fantabulous cheesecake center, may be rivaled by this one!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake at Contempo Cafe

These cupcakes are pretty large — probably shareable if you’re the sharing type — and topped with a creamy, light frosting. Not quite whipped cream frosting — there’s definitely some heft — but close.

Top of chocolate peanut butter cupcake

Once we went in for our cross-section shot, I was pleased to see the center of the cupcake stuffed with peanut butter filling. And, as expected from a Contempo Cafe cupcake, this wasn’t just more of that light frosting. This was real-life peanut butter filling — more like what you’d expect in a peanut butter [Read more…]

Review: The Territory Lounge at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Bars and Lounges around Walt Disney World and Disneyland are often family friendly spots to grab a table-service bite or meal with no reservations needed.

You know that one of my favorites is Crew’s Cup Lounge in the Yacht Club Resort in Walt Disney World, but another fantastic spot to nosh is Territory Lounge in Wilderness Lodge.

Disney's Wilderness Lodge

I am a huge fan of all things food at Wilderness Lodge. Whether you’re whoopin’ it up at Whispering Canyon Cafe (go ahead…ask for ketchup!), having a refined and relaxed meal at Artist Point, or grabbing a bite to go at Roaring Forks, it’s pretty much always good.

But with a robust and interesting menu of cool pub food, The Territory Lounge is another must-try!

Lanterns and Menus Carry the Theme of the Bar

Atmosphere

Step into the Lounge, and you’re immediately enveloped by dark woods, leather trim, and low, lantern lighting. You’re also likely greeted and welcomed by the awesome cast members here!! A big shoutout to LouAnn!

Rich Colors and Comfortable Seating Make the Space Inviting

The bar is rarely crowded, and there is comfortable seating throughout. I love the padded and backed barstools, and the [Read more…]

Review: Lefse and Waffles at Epcot’s Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe

Time to stop by one of everyone’s (well, mine at least ;-D) favorite places to grab a snack while at Epcot — Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in the Norway Pavilion!

This place has some pretty amazing cult favorites for being so small (which it is…very, very small).

The custardy Schoolbread and the Rice Cream Pudding are some pretty incredible snacks in and of themselves, but I couldn’t wait to branch out on a recent visit. (Nope…no Aquavit this time, kids. ;-D But maybe something even better??)

Better than School Bread?!?

Atmosphere

Located just beyond the Stave church in Norway, you’ll smell the wonderful pastries of Kringla before you open its door.

Outside View

Once you’re in, you are greeted by a host of cases that hold everything from sandwiches to pastries. (Note: Don’t try to lift the glass panels to get better pictures — you’ll get yelled at. Trust me.) This is also a terrific spot to get coffee, or even that shot of Aquavit if you’re looking to [Read more…]

Review: Snacks at Epcot’s Kabuki Cafe

Ya know those times when you’re just strolling through Epcot and you really need some Miso soup…like, stat?

No?

Well, if you did, this would be the place for you, my friend.

Epcot's Kabuki Cafe

Epcot’s Kabuki Cafe is a quick service kiosk offering varied menu items, from sweet to savory. Located in the Japan pavilion, it replaced the wildly popular Kaki-Gori Stand when it opened. But Kaki-Gori fans can be assured that the sweet, chilly treat is still available here.

The menu varies based on the season — when it’s busy in Walt Disney World, you’ll find a larger variety of savory food offerings. Otherwise, there are just a few items to choose from…

Menu - Click to Enlarge

As you probably know, I love Kaki-Gori, the shave-ice-and-fruit-syrup treat that resembles a sno-cone…without the cone part.

All of the flavors are still here, and so are the [Read more…]