More Online ADR Booking Info

The TouringPlans.com Blog has a great summary of the remaining questions (and potential answers) lingering from yesterday’s online dining reservations launch.

The summary includes a great What We Know and Don’t Know So Far section, mentioning topics like what time the online system opens for use on each respective morning; and the fact that you can now book dinner shows and Special Dining Events online, like Hoop-Dee-Doo and “Dine with an Imagineer.”

Also included are sections on the menus that Disney has been posting on its site and potential abuses of the online system.

Check out the blog here!

Great job, TouringPlans!

Online Dining Reservations (ADR) Launched at Disney World!

Hey all! Just heard (6-26-09) that the Disney system is cancelling double booked time slots. Would love to hear your experiences!

You can now make your Disney World dining reservations online!

Disney has integrated the online ADR option into its restaurants section, so just click on your preferred restaurant and book the reservation. Here’s an example for Yak and Yeti.

Here’s a screen-shot of the system:

Online ADR Screenshot

Online ADR Screenshot

Here’s what you see when the system finds a reservation for the time and restaurant you requested (note that they also give you other options to choose from). I like that, because I signed into the system and Disney knows I’m an Annual Passholder, they tell me what discount I can get with that perk:

Found Reservation During Time Requested

Found Reservation During Time Requested

And what you see when your reservation request is NOT available. Again, they give you other options:

What You See When The Requested Reservation is NOT Available

What You See When The Requested Reservation is NOT Available

Once you’ve got your online ADRs booked, you’re taken to the Shopping Cart screen. This gives specific instructions at the top, then lays out all of your ADRs. You are now welcome to add dietary and other requests:

Shopping Cart Screen

Shopping Cart Screen

Dietary Requests Screen looks like this:

Dietary Requests Screen

Dietary Requests Screen

Other Requests Screen looks like this:

Other Requests Screen

Other Requests Screen

Once your ADR is confirmed, you get this screen:

Confirmation Screen

Confirmation Screen

Once confirmed, the system will send you an email about your reservations. If you need to cancel a reservation, simply log back into the system, pull up your reservations, and cancel according to confirmation number.

NOTE: If you book two reservations for the same time, you get the following screen warning you of your error. Disney does not make you confirm that the reservations are for two different parties, however. Just heard (6-26-09) that the Disney system is cancelling double booked time slots. Would love to hear your experiences!

If You Book Two Reservations for the Same Time...

If You Book Two Reservations for the Same Time...

I shall investigate further! Until then, book away! Send your reviews of the system to webmaster@disneyfoodblog.com and I’ll post them—surely they’ll be helpful to other planners.

Thanks to Touringplans.com for the info!

Note–You can now make online reservations at The Diamond Horseshoe for the period of August 16th through October 3rd (dinner will be table-service, all-you-can-eat).

ONLINE ADR SYSTEM REVIEWS FROM AROUND THE WEB
@cherylp3 twittered that the system didn’t work very well for her in the Safari browser. Also confirmed that, if you log in, the system sends a confirmation email.
@gdpinvestigator twittered that the system took a bit longer than he’d like, and that you could likely make ADRs quicker by calling.

Good Disney Food Posts Around the Web

Eat HereI’ve come across a bunch of great reviews and photos over the past few weeks and wanted to highlight a few of them. Thanks for all the good food writing, all!

Scott Joseph Orlando’s Chefs de France Review: Highlights the fascinating history of Chefs de France, including its three famous owners, along with Scott Joseph’s excellent food critique. If you’re a foodie and visit Orlando, you should be subscribed to this blog.

Touring Plans’ Research Results on When to Make your Advanced Dining Reservations for Certain Restaurants: Touring Plans releases and analyzes research here about how far in advance you’ve got to book those Disney dining reservations. Find out the theme park restaurants where you can possibly dine as a “walk up” customer, and which you need to book right at that 90-day window.

Etckt’s ESPN Club review: A great writer and Disney afficionado (who’s been quite close to the Mouse in the past) reviews his recent ESPN Club experience at the Boardwalk. Great photos.

SoloFriendly’s Coral Reef Review and SoloFriendly’s BlueZoo review: Excellent, detailed, and honest reviews of a couple of restaurants not everyone who visits Disney World knows about. And these are from the perspective of an adult, solo traveler in Disney World, which makes them even more interesting.

Laughing Place Paradiso 37 Pictures and Review: A good, thorough review of the restaurant’s opening day, including some comments from E-brands Restaurants CEO Rashid Choufani. LOTS of photos, folks!

Epcot Twinings Tea Tour

Tea Tour Times

Tea Tour Times

I’ve long wanted to take part in the Twining’s Tea Tour in Epcot, and I finally got the chance over Memorial Day weekend. This tour seems to pop up during the Flower and Garden Festival in the Spring and during the Food and Wine Festival in the Fall, and takes place several times per day (Friday/Saturday/Sunday while I was there) in the garden of the United Kingdom pavilion in Epcot. If you’re lucky enough to have the time, stop by the UK pavilion, and get your name on the list for the tour time of your choice.

Our guide, a CM from the UK pavilion who’s been “tea-trained,” led us through a shockingly informative and enjoyable tour of the tea (and, mostly, tea-flavoring) plants in the UK garden’s many teacup planters. I mentioned that I’d wanted to take the tour for a couple of years, but I never expected that a no-cost experience could be so well-done. The guide was quite knowledgeable about the history and art of tea-making and answered each question very well (including a few toughies); I left feeling like I’d really learned quite a bit.

Tour Guide Discusses Camellia Sinensis

Tour Guide Discusses Camellia Sinensis

Twinings of London
The guide began by tell the group a bit about the exhibit’s sponsor, Twinings of London. The original Store, which can be found on the Strand in London near The City (the eastern financial district of London), was actually a coffee shop bought by Thomas Twining in 1706. Twining was the first to sell the newly-imported tea in his coffee shop, giving him a competitive advantage against the city’s coffeehouses. 40 years later, tea became one of England’s significant exports to the American colonies. Today, Twinings offers 300 varieties of tea and exports around the world.

Camellia Sinensis Info

Camellia Sinensis Info

The Tea
The guide spoke first about the Camellia plant, of which there are two versions: one from China and one from India. This is the plant from which all teas, excepting herbal teas, is made. Whether you’re drining green tea, oolong tea, black tea, or white tea, it all comes from the Camellia plant. So how do you make it different? Leaf picking, oxidization, and infusions:

–Black tea, which is what we western hemisphere residents largely consider “regular tea,” gets its name and dark brown color because it’s been fully oxidized. These teas have a deeper flavor, often described as “burnt caramel.” These teas have the fewest antioxidants, though there is still a larger concentration than in a large serving of carrots.

Tour Guide Discusses Tea Making

Tour Guide Discusses Tea Making

–Oolong tea, made from leaves that have been only partially-oxidized (usually only the edges of the leaf are oxidized), has a medium flavor that varies between those of black and green tea; it can be made to carry both lighter and bolder flavors depending on leaf treatment.

–Green tea, which is consumed most often in eastern cultures, has been picked early and is steamed or pan-fired to stop oxidation, leaving its green color and lighter flavor.

–White tea is harvested only once per year, as it takes the first bud and top leaf of the plant. These are withered and dried, with no oxidation. These teas have the most antioxidants of all.

Oolong Tea

Oolong Tea

Our guide went on to explain how teas are flavored with leaves and blossoms of other plants as well as herbal infusions; Twinings’ 300 tea varieties are the work of master blenders who undergo 5 years of training. He also briefly discussed herbal teas, which are made solely from herbs with no inclusion of the Camellia plants.

And a Few Other Fun Facts
The tour was rounded out with some great tips and facts about tea blending and brewing, including how to make DIY decaffeinated tea; the history behind America’s best-loved tea, Earl Grey; and why Irish Breakfast tea is so much stronger than English Breakfast tea.

All in all, it was a highly enjoyable half-hour. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to stop by the next time you’re in Epcot while the tea tours are offered!

The Tea Walk

The Tea Walk

Recipe: ‘Ohana Bread Pudding

‘Ohana, at the Polynesian Resort, is a hawaiian-themed restaurant that serves skewered meats and side dishes family-style. Their menu has taken many twists and turns over the past several years, but at least one of the changes has been embraced by just about everyone who’s tried it.

Bananas Foster Bread Pudding at 'Ohana

The Bread Pudding with Bananas Foster Sauce, although one of the heavier Disney World desserts, has become almost universally beloved among Disney fans. And, as luck would have it, it comes along with your meal at no charge!

Now, my family and I love the dessert so much that one family member (who shall remain un-named) decided to try to make the dessert as part of a recent Christmas dinner. This likely occurred at my urging, but who can remember?

As it turned out, the “flambe” directive was a bit tricky, and we still had quite a bit of rum left in the sauce when it was served. Still delicious, but not exactly the same taste we were used to! From then on, we’ve taken a bit of the alcohol out of the dessert prep… just food for (hiccup!) thought… Recipe follows.

Ohana Bread Pudding with Bananas Foster Sauce

Ohana Bread Pudding with Bananas Foster Sauce

Recipe (This recipe was found on both AllEarsNet and WDWMagic, so I feel pretty confident with it. It’s also the one we used at my house, so take your chances!)

Ingredients
BREAD PUDDING
5 eggs
3 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cup sugar
8 cups french or ‘Ohana breakfast bread

1. In bowl mix eggs, milk, salt, sugar, and nutmeg. Set aside.
2. Cut bread in medium (usually 2-inch) pieces and place on cookie sheet pan. Put in 350 degree oven.
3. Bake bread until lightly toasted: about 15 minutes. Remove bread and place in egg and milk mixture.
4. Place mixture in a greased 10-inch cake pan, and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.
5. Let stand 5 minutes; serve hot with ice cream.

BANANAS FOSTER SAUCE
4 oz sugar
4 oz brown sugar
4 oz corn syrup
4 oz unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup spiced rum
1 cup banana slices

1. Combine sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and half of heavy cream in a large pan. Bring to a boil and slowly add remaining heavy cream keeping mixture at a steady boil.

2. Add spiced rum and flambe.

3. Candy will brown slightly; cook 3 minutes until candy forms into a firm ball in cold water. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Add sliced bananas. Serve warm.

Many thanks to Brett Young for use of his photos on this blog!

Flame Tree Barbecue: The Circle of Life

Flame Tree Barbecue Sign

Flame Tree Barbecue Sign

So, one of my favorite things about Disney Imagineering is that they can get kind of cheeky and creepy sometimes, and Flame Tree Barbecue offers a little bit of both.

Picture this: you’ve just piled your tray with your half-slab of St. Louis ribs, fruit plate, and cole slaw, and you’re wandering off into the Flame Tree’s outdoor seating area. There’s a reflecting pool to your right and several covered pavilions with tables; a little bridge leads you past the water to stepped seating, ending at a tree-framed view of Animal Kingdom’s Mt. Everest. You take a deep, relaxed breath and start walking toward…a seating sign sporting a giant snake swallowing half a mouse? Well, that’s a little weird when it comes to Disney decor. I mean, there are usually a couple of villains here and there, but… .

Seating Sign

Seating Sign

Regardless, you keep walking toward your chosen table with the view and, down by the reflecting pool, happen upon a statue of a cat…lifting its freshly-caught, still-living lunch into the air.

Right. OK. What’s up with this restaurant!?

The Circle of Life
Starting to feel clued in, you take at look at your other surroundings and notice that images and representations of predators catching and eating prey surround you.

Statue in Seating Area

Statue in Seating Area

Carved, stylized anteaters buttress the roof of one seating pavilion, their tongues forming golden curves as they reach for painted ants (check the lampshades, where it’s an even more graphic representation). Owls snatch terrified-looking rabbits on windsocks hanging from another pavilion. The pattern in the wrought iron chairs depicts predatory animals circling. Even the restaurant’s sign gives you a clue: an alligator snaps at a fish right at the top! Fascinating!

The more you look, the more you see. This seating area is a giant representation of the circle of life: particularly when it comes to the food chain! Like I said, Disney Imagineering can be highly creepy! But it’s the cheeky part that I like best. As you’re walking through this virtual National Geographic documentary and finally take your seat down by the water, you look down at your plate and see that big ol’ half-slab of ribs! I mean, c’mon! You just had to look at terrified mice and rabbits about to be injested and now you’re going to rip into this? I can hear them laughing now…!

Seating Pavilion Carvings

Seating Pavilion Carvings

Kudos to Disney for continuing the teachable moments even into mealtime, though it might not have to be quite that close to home!

The Food
Flame Tree Barbecue is often touted as a favorite (if not THE favorite) counter-service restaurant in Disney World by many visitors. It has good food, a decent selection (not a burger in sight), some healthy options, and, like I said, a beautiful seating area with great views. Choices include those BBQ ribs, smoked half-chicken, pulled-meat or turkey breast sandwiches, and a mixed green salad with BBQ chicken.

The restaurant is located on Discovery Island in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.

Chefs de France–A Photo Review

Hey guys–just had a chance to chow down at Chefs de France recently and wanted to post a few food pics for ya! (Haven’t had a good “food pic extravaganza” for a while!) Here’s a “photo review” with few words thrown in for good measure!

Chefs de France seating

Chefs de France seating

The restaurant is just beautiful. It looks best, I think, from the outside, after dark. I can remember several years ago stopping into a bistro in Paris with a friend after arriving in the city on a late train; it was winter and the bistro looked so warm and inviting. The lighting and walls of windows were identical to those at Chefs…it’s a great memory that the Epcot restaurant always brings back to me.

Chefs de France Seating

Chefs de France Seating

Chef Remy

Chef Remy

Another photo of the newest chef at Chefs de France–Monsieur Remy! I can’t get over how he moves his little hands!

Pasta and Gruyere Cheese

Pasta and Gruyere Cheese

If you’re a fan of Gruyere, mac and cheese, or bubbly yumminess in any way, you probably need to treat yourself to this dish. Yes, it gets to be too rich after a few bites, but hopefully you’ve trained hard prior to your vacation to endure massive amounts of cheese and heavy cream (isn’t that standard for everyone before a Disney trip?). We got it as part of the set menu for lunch.

Quiche

Quiche

Another great dish. Probably not as spectacularly bad for us as the mac and cheese, but lovely all the same! (This’ll give you a little protein for the rest of your day as well…)

Orifuteroles au chocolat

Orifuteroles au chocolat

Never been a great fan of profiteroles, but these were amazing! I couldn’t get enough. The chocolate was the best part, so lucky us that they drowned the pastry with it.

Creme Brulee with Madeleine

Creme Brulee with Madeleine

A decent creme brulee; in my book, Jiko’s pistachio version and Le Cellier’s maple version beat it out, however. Would love to hear from readers how it stacks up to other WDW creme brulees.

Paradiso 37 to Open to Guests Tomorrow…Ltd.

Paradiso 37 Concept Art (c)Disney

Paradiso 37 Concept Art (c)Disney

Good news! Paradiso 37, the newest restaurant at Disney World’s Downtown Disney, will be opening tomorrow…sort of. The restaurant will open to walk-up traffic only, and reservations won’t be taken.

Here’s Disney’s website language about the restaurant:
This high-energy restaurant and bar serves up unique cuisine inspired by the Street Foods of the Americas. Menu items from North, South and Central America will be featured for lunch and dinner. Paradiso 37 features an international wine bar and a one of a kind tequila tower bar with more than 50 kinds of tequila and a selection of signature frozen margaritas.

Come in for a cup of specialty coffee at Paradiso 37 when they open at 11:00 a.m., and return in the evening for festive food, beverages, and entertainment; the restaurant closes late at night.

Even more good news: An impromptu review from a cast member over on The Disney Blog just became available! Check it out here: The Disney Blog Paradiso 37 Cast Member review.

2009 Eat to the Beat Concert Series Announced

Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Thanks to Tim Weston over at The Daily Mickey blog for the tip that Disney’s finalized its Eat to the Beat concert series line-up!

These folks are set to light up the stage at this year’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival. For more information about the festival, click here!.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – A platinum lineup of popular music acts, including several Grammy-winning bands, will unleash an eclectic mix of classic and current tunes during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sept. 25-Nov. 8 at Walt Disney World Resort.

The Eat to the Beat! concert series will bring 17 acts – showcasing everything from rock to jazz, funk to pop – to the America Gardens Theatre stage during the 45-day festival. The lineup includes five performers playing the festival for the first time: Richard Marx, Better Than Ezra, Vanessa Carlton, John Waite and Billy Ocean.

Concerts, which are included with Epcot admission, begin at 5:15, 6:30 and 7:45 p.m. daily. The lineup (subject to change) includes:

Sept. 25-27
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (“You & Me & The Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)”
Sept. 28-29 Richard Marx (“Hold On to the Nights”)
Sept. 30-Oct. 3 Starship starring Mickey Thomas (“We Built This City”)
Oct. 4-6 En Vogue (“Free Your Mind”)
Oct. 7-8 Better Than Ezra (“Good”)
Oct. 9-11 Sister Hazel (“All for You”)
Oct. 12-13 Kool & The Gang (“Celebration”)
Oct. 14-16 Spyro Gyra (“Morning Dance”)
Oct. 17-18 Jon Secada (“Just Another Day”)
Oct. 19-20 Sister Sledge (“We Are Family”)
Oct. 21-22 Vanessa Carlton (“A Thousand Miles”)
Oct. 23-25 Taylor Dayne (“Tell It to My Heart”)
Oct. 26-28 Boyz II Men (“Motownphilly”)
Oct. 29-31 John Waite (“Missing You”)
Nov. 1-2 Night Ranger (“Sister Christian”)
Nov. 3-5 Billy Ocean (“Caribbean Queen”)
Nov. 6-8 Los Lobos (“La Bamba”)

Kidani Village’s Sanaa Restaurant

Sanaa Sign

Sanaa Sign

I recently got my first look at and taste of the newest Disney World restaurant, Sanaa, whose tagline is “The Art of African Cooking With Indian Flavors.” Located in the Kidani Village section of the Animal Kingdom Lodge Disney Vacation Club Villas–just opened in May 2009–the restaurant offers Disney diners another “almost authentic” ethnic taste (I say “almost,” only because they consistently have to water down any would-be exotic tastes for visitors like me–you know, the ones whose palates never quite hit puberty and are still stuck somewhere between chicken fingers and pizza rolls.).

Sanna Table

Sanna Table

The restaurant is downstairs from the lobby in a low-ceilinged, rustic room bejeweled with low-hanging lanterns and beaded necklaces (“Kidani” is swahili for necklace, after all). It’s meant to give you the feeling that you’re outside–the ceiling is made of stylized tree branches and leaves, the columns of the restaurant are the tree trunks, and guests are seated among rock outcroppings that continue through the walls to the actual outside area. The windows are floor-to-ceiling–with a magnificent view of the giraffe, ostriches, zebra, and other animals housed on the resort’s Sunset Savanna–which gives a “patio” feel to the restaurant. Finally, the tables and chairs are bulky and free-form, making guests feel as if they’ve just arrived at a rustic outpost lodge after a long Safari.

Sanaa Dining Room

Sanaa Dining Room

The Food!
Sanaa prepares and serves food influenced by the Indian and African spice tradeline countries. Highlights from the menu are:

–An Indian bread service, which includes choices of Naan, Roti, Paratha, and Paneer (cheese) Paratha along with choices of several different dipping sauces, including raitas and chutneys flavored with fruits and veggies

–Tandoori (tandoor-oven cooked) meats

–Slow-cooked dishes with gravy

–Specialty items like a daily dish of sustainable fish and Dum Biryani

Sanaa Wine Flight and Slow-Roast

Sanaa Wine Flight and Slow-Roast

The wine list is also available for lunch and dinner. Sanaa has several wine flights on the menu; I ordered the “Sanaa” wine flight, including Gunderloch Diva Spatlese Riesling from Germany, Fess Parker Riesling from California, and Chateau de Montfort Chenin Blanc from France.

For my entree, I ordered the slow-cooked dishes. Guests get a choice of two dishes, including chicken with red curry sauce, shrimp with green curry sauce, paneer cheese and spinach, and beef short ribs, served with basmati rice or five-grain pilaf. I chose the paneer cheese and spinach and the beef short ribs. Both were lovely, though I very much enjoyed the beef. Not sure I could have gotten to the bottom of the bowl of cheese and spinach even if I’d been starving–it was pretty rich.

Slow-Roast with Rice

Slow-Roast with Rice

I’m not at all a food critic, but I found Sanaa to be a decent restaurant that I would plan to visit every couple of years or so. I predict that, because of its distance from the rest of Disney World, its cloistered location even within Animal Kingdom Lodge, and its good, but not outstanding, cuisine, it will probably remain a third choice (after Jiko and Boma) to folks heading to Animal Kingdom Lodge for a dining experience. Though its prime Savanna-view offers it a leg up on the other two table-service restaurants at the Lodge–perhaps that alone will drive the non-DVC member traffic over to Kidani.

See this page for more information and menu links for Sanaa.