Comin’ Right Up!: Dining Tips and Stories From the Disney World Moms Panel

A New Disney Food Blog “Mini-Series!”
I recently had the great luck to interview several Disney World Moms Panelists about their Disney dining experiences and opinions. They shared some fantastic information, and I’m excited to announce that I get to consolidate all that expertise into several blog posts for you!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share several posts that will include tips and stories shared by the Moms Panelists. These will cover a wide range of topics, including suggested restaurants for kids of certain ages, dining alone in Disney World, and Disney World restaurants offering the biggest bang for your buck, among others!

Thanks to all of the moms (and dad) who were so generous with their time and their wonderful stories (and with their patience — I ask a LOT of questions!).

Mickey With Some 2009 Moms Panelists

Mickey With Some 2009 Moms Panelists

But First: Last Chance To Apply for the 2010 Moms Panel Is Sunday, September 20th!
Before I leap into the first topic tomorrow, I’d like to remind everyone that Sunday is the last day to complete your 2010 Moms Panel Application. And, remember, you don’t actually have to be a mom to be on the panel… . If you’re interested in applying, just click on the link and answer three little questions.

To give you a little better feel of what it’s like to be on the panel, I asked two-year Panelist Erin F. about her experience being a “mom.”

“I was always the ‘go-to’ mom in the neighborhood for Disney planning; my husband used to joke that I should do this for a living! The first year I read about the contest, I filled out the application on a whim. It’s been a life-altering experience: going backstage, meeting incredible cast members, and finding friends on the moms panel who will be dear to me for life!”

And here’s a bit of advice from Erin about applying:

“Be yourself, and mention a niche area you know a lot about, such as traveling with food allergies or visiting with grandparents. Make yourself sound unique in some way. If you have writing, marketing, or communication experience –- demonstrate that. And always check spelling, grammar, and word usage.”

For more helpful hints on applying, check out this post with suggestions from other moms panelists. Good luck with your applications, and be sure to visit the Disney Food Blog tomorrow for the first post in the Moms Panel Mini-Series where some of the moms share their most magical Disney dining experiences!

See you tomorrow!

(All images and graphics copyright Disney)

Magic Kingdom Wishes Dessert Party Extended into January 2010

Wishes Dessert Party Buffet

Wishes Dessert Party Buffet

Just confirmed a rumor with Disney Dining that the Wishes Dessert party has been extended through January 2, 2010!

You can see past posts on the Wishes Dessert Party here:

Wishes Dessert Party Announced (includes details of the evening)
Wishes Dessert Party Photos!!
Wishes Dessert Party Extended Through October, 2009

I was told that in November and December, the party will only be held Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Not sure if I’d bet on that, though… . As always, you can book 90 days in advance.

Thanks to reader Psg42 for the tip!
Photo Credit: Zapperz @ MyDisneyMania.blogspot.com

Disney Kitchen Items You Never Knew You Needed

I was trolling Amazon today and found some rockin’ Disney kitchen products. Now, these are probably wants, not needs, but I thought it was important to share with you nonetheless. So whether you’re collectors, or just curious, here are some of the countless Disney kitchen products swimming around out there… .




Disney Wall-E Cake Pan and Candle

Wall-E Cake Pan and Candle: OK, this is just too much fun. I had NO idea that Wall-E had made his way into children’s birthday parties…or anybody’s birthday parties…but apparently he’s there and going strong. I just thought the cake was pretty cute, and I could really go for some frosting right now. (Psst: you can also get the icing food coloring set, should you so desire.)




Disney Ice Cream Maker


Disney Ice Cream Maker: You know you want it. It has Mickey feet. And it makes ice cream whenever you want. Any flavor. Will wonders never cease? Besides, Dave of Davelandblog‘s review is five stars on this one.







Spode Disney Cheese Wedge Plate and CoverSpode Disney Christmas Tree 7-inch Cheese Wedge and Cover: I had no idea my cheese wedges needed their own plate and cover. And to think I was about to go into the winter without a season-appropriate version!







Disney Alice and cheshire Cat salt and pepper setAlice and Cheshire Cat Salt and Pepper Set: I would throw a dinner party just to use these. And I’d do all kinds of subtle themeing, like make “Drink Me” tags for the wine glasses and “Eat Me” tags for the dessert dishes. Big, plastic pocket watches everywhere. Centerpieces made from decks of cards and half-red/half-white roses. Stop me anytime.





And there’s much more where that came from! Happy shopping!

Kouzzina Grand Opening at Disney World’s Boardwalk

Mickey and Cat

Mickey and Cat

Kouzzina (Greek for “Kitchen”) was opened this morning by Chef Cat Cora and her staff, to a huge cheer of “Opah!” Believe it or not, this is Cora’s FIRST signature restaurant — I’m so excited it’s at Disney World!

Celebrity chef Cat Cora prepares dishes prior to the grand opening of her first signature restaurant

Celebrity chef Cat Cora prepares dishes prior to the grand opening of her first signature restaurant

Kouzzina Exhibition Kitchen

Kouzzina Exhibition Kitchen

Open for breakfast and dinner, the Kouzzina’s menu includes “time-honored recipes passed down from my ancestors, as well as my favorite Greek and Mediterranean dishes that my family loves,” Cora told Disney PR. For breakfast, try steel-cut cinnamon oatmeal, blueberry orange granola pancakes, or the stacked Kouzzina breakfast with two poached eggs, kalamata olive toast, artichoke spread, sweet potato hash and bacon or chicken sausage.

Prior to dinner, sample “Cat’s Ouzo-tini,” Mediterranean sangria, and her own wine label, Coranation, featuring California wines. For an appetizer: calamari, goat cheese-stuffed grape leaves, spinach pie, and Spiro’s (Cat’s Dad!) Greek Salad. Entrées include cinnamon stewed chicken, traditional whole fish, and Pastitisio — a Greek “lasagna.” (See full Kouzzina menus here.)

Kouzzina Ouzo-tini featuring Absolut vodka, Metaxa ouzo, pineapple juice, fresh lime juice and pomegranate served in a sugar-rimmed martini glass shaken and served tableside

Kouzzina Ouzo-tini featuring Absolut vodka, Metaxa ouzo, pineapple juice, fresh lime juice and pomegranate served in a sugar-rimmed martini glass shaken and served tableside

Kouzzina Spiro's Salad: tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, kalamata olives and feta

Kouzzina Spiro's Salad: tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, kalamata olives and feta

Kouzzina Spanakopita

Kouzzina Spanakopita

Kouzzina Cinnamon-stewed chicken, with tomatoes, herbed orzo and Mizithra cheese

Kouzzina Cinnamon-stewed chicken, with tomatoes, herbed orzo and Mizithra cheese

Kouzzina Whole Fish

Kouzzina Whole Fish

Kouzzina lamb burger, dressed with olives and feta, with a side of sweet potato fries

Kouzzina lamb burger, dressed with olives and feta, with a side of sweet potato fries

Kouzzina Pastitisio, with bucatini pasta, cinnamon-stewed meat sauce, and béchamel sauce

Kouzzina Pastitisio, with bucatini pasta, cinnamon-stewed meat sauce, and béchamel sauce

Kouzzina Baklava with Pistachio Gelato

Kouzzina Baklava with Pistachio Gelato

The restaurant replaces another Mediterranean spot on the Boardwalk, Spoodles, recently closed to make way for Cora’s new spot. The kitchen will be presided over by Chef Dee Foundoukis.

Kouzzina Chef Dee Foundoukis

Kouzzina Chef Dee Foundoukis

According to Disney’s press release, Cora began working with Disney in 2008 by creating a Disney Video on Demand series to showcase ways to help families develop more healthy eating habits. Cora has been a featured chef at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and at Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival at Disneyland Resort.

Be sure to check out other Kouzzina Food Photos from the restaurant’s soft opening in August!

All images copyright Disney.

Pool Bar Series: Uzima Springs Pool Bar

Uzima Springs Pool Bar

I’m not sure about you, but a fruity drink in hand, a thatched roof over my head, and a few flamingos frolicking in the background is just about all I need on vacation ;) If that’s your dream come true, you can have it! Even the flamingos! Just stroll out to the Uzima Springs Pool Bar at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jambo House.

View of the Pool Bar Across Uzima Springs Pool

View of the Pool Bar Across Uzima Springs Pool

Relaxing at the Pool Bar

Relaxing at the Pool Bar

Besides the thatched roof and generous umbrella-ed seating, what makes this spot so enticing is the enchanting themeing around the pool. Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of Disney World’s best-themed resort hotels, without a doubt. From the indentations of leaves, brush, and children’s footprints in the red dirt-tinted cement, to the whirlpool spas hidden by foliage, to the numerous savanna ponds scattered around, the Uzima Springs Pool area is a jungle of fascinating imagineering touches.

Even if you’re just there for a drink, it’s impossible not to go peek behind that grove of trees or jagged fence to see what treasures (and you KNOW there are treasures) lie beyond it! The place is a mini-theme park in itself.

Behind Curtain Number One...A Whirlpool Spa!

Behind Curtain Number One...A Whirlpool Spa!

Behind Curtain Number Two...Hakuna Matata Playground!

Behind Curtain Number Two...Hakuna Matata Playground!

Although we’re having fun exploring the pool grounds, let’s head back to the bar! In addition to the ubiquitous Disney Pool Bar standard menu, Uzima Springs Pool Bar also features some wonderful African beers and South African wines. And don’t forget, they’ve still got that rolodex of old recipes back there, too; if there’s something you’re pining for, be sure to ask!

Pool Bar Menu

Pool Bar Menu

And once you have your delicious bevvy, head over and find those elusive flamingos!

Ah Yes...the Flamingos.

Ah Yes...the Flamingos.

I told you so!

Thanks to AKLResort.com for contributing photos for this blog post! Also, quick reminder — there’s no pool hopping to Uzima Springs, so although you can visit the pool and get a drink, don’t swim unless you’re an AKL guest.

“Is This Place Ever Open?”: Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station

Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station

Let’s just start out by saying: if you have eaten here, let us know how it was and what you ate (and send a photo if you’ve got it!).

The Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station is located in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, nestled between the Plaza Restaurant on Main Street, USA, and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Factory in Tomorrowland. It’s a full-fledged counter-service restaurant, serving Asian cuisine including noodle bowls (natch), salads, and stir-fry.

(Note: Don’t confuse the Noodle Station with the Tomorrowland Terrace Cafe, which is also rarely open — though you can book for the buffet on September 13th, 20th, and 27th!)

Ordering Stations

Ordering Stations

Ordering Station

Ordering Station

The seating areas are largely outdoors, covered, and accessible to anyone walking by. And because this restaurant is only open seasonally, these seating areas do some pretty good double duty as a spot to get in out of the rain, or just to take a breather in the shade during a long Magic Kingdom day.

Seating Area

Seating Area

Outdoor Seating

Outdoor Seating

Seating Area

Seating Area

It’s also a favorite spot for some to sit and catch the Wishes fireworks show at night. Tinkerbell flies right over your head in this location (she lands right past the Noodle Station!).

In fact, the Wishes Dessert Party takes place right here at the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station!

Wishes from the Dessert Party Vantage Point

Wishes from the Dessert Party Vantage Point

So, have you had the luck to dine here? Let us know what you thought by leaving a comment here on the blog!

Thanks to Zapperz at My Disney Mania for the Wishes Dessert Party photo!

Olivia’s at Old Key West Resort

Tucked into the beautiful dock-side Turtle Krawl district at Disney World’s Old Key West Resort is Olivia’s restaurant. This relaxed table-service spot is probably one of the more underrated dining spots in Disney World.

One of the Photo Walls at Olivia's

One of the Photo Walls at Olivia's

The atmosphere is right-off-the-beach — casual and classic Florida keys. The walls are covered with memorabilia, including sections dedicated to the Old Key West Resort’s Disney Vacation Club family album. After all, Old Key West was Disney’s premier Vacation Club property and has quite a family tree by now!

Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can stroll in anytime for a bite. And although you can make advanced dining reservations for Olivia’s, you may not need them during less busy seasons at Disney World.

Dining Table and Photo Wall

Dining Table and Photo Wall

Olivia's Has a Relaxed, Casual Atmosphere

Olivia's Has a Relaxed, Casual Atmosphere

Olivia's Menu

Olivia's Menu

The menu is just as casual as the decor, and there are some delicious options to try. For breakfast, consider the Banana Bread French Toast with Bahamian Banana Rum Butter Sauce and Vanilla Whipped Cream; for lunch, consider the Key West Salmon Salad; and for dinner, try the crab cakes and pork chop with barbecue sauce and cheddar grits!

Crab Cake Appetizer

Crab Cake Appetizer

Mixed Greens Salad

Mixed Greens Salad

Grilled Pork Chop with Chipotle Barbecue Sauce and Smoked Cheddar Grits

Grilled Pork Chop with Chipotle Barbecue Sauce and Smoked Cheddar Grits

Finish off your meal with a yummy dessert. My mom’s favorite is the Key Lime Tart!

Key Lime Tart

Key Lime Tart

Key Lime Tart on the Inside

Key Lime Tart on the Inside

And, after your meal, take a few minutes to wander around the grounds of this beautiful resort, or jump on the next boat for Downtown Disney — the Disney Transportation boat will bring you to Disney World’s shopping and entertainment district in no time! Have a great time!

D23 Expo Reveal: Be Our Guest Restaurant and Gaston’s Tavern!

UPDATE: Read about the Opening Date for Be Our Guest Restaurant and Reservations Info!

The rumors from this summer are true! By now, many of you have heard about the incredible re-vamp in store for Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Fantasyland. You’ve heard about Dumbo expanding, the Ariel attraction, and dancing lessons with Cinderella. But what WE like to hear about is the FOOD! And Disney has happily included some new dining establishments in its Fantasyland plans: Be Our Guest Restaurant and Gaston’s Tavern!

Be Our Guest Restaurant:

Be Our Guest Restaurant Concept Art, Beast's Castle

Be Our Guest Restaurant Concept Art, Beast's Castle

Both dining spots will be in the new Beauty and the Beast area of Fantasyland, and we know for certain that Be Our Guest Restaurant will be a three-room, themed, table-service restaurant in the “Beast’s Castle.” Speculation is that this may be the re-emergence of a restaurant slated for Disneyland Paris’ fantasyland a while back.

Michael, over at Progress City, U.S.A., hypothesized even more for the restaurant in his July 16th, 2009, blog post. This came soon after the initial blueprints for the fantasyland plans were leaked earlier this summer:

What’s really mysterious is the “Be Our Guest Restaurant.” … Could this new restaurant be a revived version of the unrealized dining concept for Disneyland Paris’s Fantasyland, which would feature an animatronic dinner show based on Beauty and the Beast? In that attraction, guests would dine while the Beast’s castle slowly came to life around them; it would be as if they had combined the Enchanted Tiki Room with an actual restaurant. It would certainly be a nice addition to the park.

This sounds like an amazing dining experience. My fingers are crossed!

Gaston’s Tavern:

Gaston's Tavern Concept Art

Gaston's Tavern Concept Art

Also new on the scene is Gaston’s Tavern, which looks like it might be a counter-service or less-expensive table service location. You can see, as Jay Rasulo quipped in his description, Gaston said he likes to decorate with antlers…

From The Source
Here’s the YouTube video of Jay Rasulo’s speech on the subject! Enjoy!

Other info welcome!
If you were at the Expo or know anything more about these two dining spots, let us know. I can’t wait to hear more.

You can contact me via facebook, twitter, or email. Thanks!

Food Post Weekly Round-Up: Sept. 13

Animal Kingdom eat hereHowdy, all! I’ve been on vacation this week and might have missed a few food posts; if you’ve caught some that aren’t mentioned here, drop me a line and I’ll add them! In the meantime, these ones are pretty fantastic:

Jim Hill Media essays about Cap’n Jack’s Menu Change and La Cava del Tequila: As we’ve come to expect from Jim Hill’s site, there are some fantastic photos here, along with pics of the new menu at Cap’n Jack’s Restaurant in Downtown Disney!

The Disney Chick whips up some Guinness Stew from Rose and Crown Dining Room: This favorite from Epcot’s local pub is another Disney Chick hit. As usual, she includes photos of each step of the recipe (great for all the visual learners out there, like me!).

Theme Park Mom lists Four Sandwiches To Try at Disney World: Nom, nom, nom! Put these on your list to grab on your next trip!

Recipe: Potatoes With Afritude

Boma's Potatoes with Afritude

Boma's Potatoes with Afritude

I thought this would be a really fun one to make at home this weekend! Be sure to let me know if you try it out :-)

POTATOES WITH AFRITUDE, Boma, Animal Kingdom Lodge
Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients:
5 lbs. Red Skinned Potatoes (any variety of potato may be used)
2 ounces Olive Oil
3 T. Curry Powder
2 T. Turmeric
1 T. Garlic Powder
1 T. Paprika
To taste Salt and Pepper

Method:
Wash potatoes well, and cut into wedges. In a large bowl mix the spices and olive oil. Add the raw potatoes. Coat the potatoes with the spice mixture. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet, place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Recipe Credit: DisneyRecipes.homestead.com