And according to a recent post on Unite Here Local 737’s Facebook page, we’ve just learned of a few more groups of restaurant Cast Members that are being asked to return to work.
Walt Disney World’s Land Pavilion
is home to one of our go-to quick service spots in Epcot’s Future World — Sunshine Seasons — but upstairs from Living with the Land is one of my favorite underrated character meals: Garden Grill. It’s here, in a rotating restaurant, that diners meet Disney character friends, dine on some really great grub, and get a bird’s eye view of the attraction below. It’s truly one-of-a-kind.
Remember, at Garden Grill, always ask for a booth versus a table. I just think they’re more fun, plus your view of the Livin’ With The Land attraction scenes below is much better with a booth!
Garden Grill Characters
Before we get into the food, let’s say hello to some friends. Garden Grill is home to Farmer Mickey who always looks sharp in his overalls and plaid!
A brand new dining experience has just made its debut at Pizzafari!
Plzzafari is a Counter Service restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Located on Discovery Island, this spot is best known for its unique and colorful atmosphere, as well as its primary food item as highlighted in the name: PIZZA.
It’s always operated the same way you’d expect at any Counter Service location: place your order and pay at the register; pick up your food at a counter; then bring it all to whatever table you manage to find, depending on how busy it is in the moment.
But now — from 5:00 – 8:00 PM daily — a new service style is available. Though daytime will continue to offer the typical Counter Service experience, the evenings now ALSO present Pizzafari Family-Style Dining!
Let’s see how this works…
Now, if you’ve ever paid a visit to Pizzafari, things will look quite similar at first. In fact, the typical counter service operations also still take place in the evening, so guests seeking the regular meals here still have that option. [Read more…]
We’re heading back to Epcot’s Future World for dinner at Garden Grill Restaurant!
This is a DFB favorite, and it comes together as Chip ‘n Dale’s Harvest Feast. The dinner features an all-you-care-to-eat meal served Family Style.
If you’ve ever shied away from eating in Future World in favor of the more varied cuisine available in World Showcase, it may be time to give Disney World’s only rotating restaurant a chance.
Please join me, Chip ‘n Dale, Pluto, and the main Mouse himself (MICKEY!) at the Harvest Feast for some food and fun!
The atmosphere? Well, that depends… You see, the Garden Grill rotates over the various scenes of the Living with the Land attraction, so what you see depends on where in the rotation you are in the moment.
It takes about one hour to make the full rotation, so it’s slow enough that you don’t really notice the feel of it while you are dining — at least, I didn’t. I was too busy enjoying the views! Take a look…
We enjoyed all of this from our table on the lower level of this two-level restaurant. It’s definitely a score if you are seated on the lower level, which is fashioned with booths as opposed to the chairs and tables on the upper level.
The booths provide more of a “front row seat” experience for the attraction, so it’s worth asking at check-in to see if you can get one. I wasn’t expecting a booth since it was just my husband and me, but several of the booths are divided with drop-leaf tables, allowing for a larger family on one side, and a pair on the other. The drop-leaf, of course, can be raised to accommodate a larger group, if needed.
Of course, the special touches are in full effect here — check out this table setting! Remind you of a certain character?
Speaking of… The one thing with the ability to distract you from the attraction views is… well, it’s actually FOUR things: the Characters!
Here’s Chip striking a pose in front of the Prairie Desert.
Pluto stopped by to say “Hello!”
Dale plotted how he might sneak some of our food…
… but I informed him it was people food, and not well-suited for chipmunks. (That makes for a sad chipmunk!)
Okay, this next shot is not a shining example of terrific photography 😉 . But I hope it conveys that moment of excitement when you first spot THE EARS over a nearby booth (c’mon, you can admit it!), and realize who will be at your table shortly…
Farmer Mickey Mouse — in OVERALLS, no less!!!
At the start of the meal, I was a bit [Read more…]
Join us in welcoming guest author Kevin Carpenter with a dinner review of ‘Ohana. This Polynesian Resort restaurant at Walt Disney World is popular for its all-you-care-to-eat fare served family-style. Aloha!
Dining at ‘Ohana is not an experience entered into without expectation. The restaurant regularly claims a spot among the best table-service venues on Disney property and it enjoys word of mouth that is nothing short of exemplary. As such, reservations go quickly.
After years of close calls and near misses, I finally secured a dinner reservation – for a party of nineteen, no less – and my hopes were sky high for my first visit to ‘Ohana.
As we arrived at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, a large crowd already milled about outside ‘Ohana’s entrance. Seeing this, I feared our large group would be in for quite a wait. After all, our party – extended family members enjoying a Disney vacation together for the first time in many years – was well used to lengthy waits for tables. And this night looked to be no different.
We checked in and, much to my surprise, were immediately whisked to our table. I should have known that there is very little the Cast Members of Walt Disney World are not prepared to handle.
From my very first steps past the Tiki idols guarding the entranceway, I was impressed by ‘Ohana’s ambiance. In true Disney style, the interior theming strikes a fine balance between subtlety and traditional Hawaiian decor.
As we reached our long table, one thing became abundantly clear – we had made the perfect choice for our trip’s centerpiece meal. The word ‘Ohana, meaning family, would prove to be more than simply the name of the restaurant. Everything – from the unending salads and appetizers to the main course and dessert – would be served family style. Even the servers are considered honorary “cousins”. What place could be better for a large family meal?!
While we had many cousins gathered around our table, it was our server, “Cousin” Candy, who stood out the most. She may have been a member of the family for just this one evening, but she fit right in with remarkable warmth and attentiveness.
We had scarcely taken our seats before the table was filled with the incredibly tasty Welcome Bread and bowls of salad with passion fruit dressing. I could have been quite content to savor the bread’s rich tones of pineapple and coconut all night, but the few ‘Ohana veterans among us had warned not to fill up on the bread.
Next came plates of honey-coriander chicken wings and pork dumplings. These were labeled appetizers, but they could have sufficed as meals unto themselves. Especially as everything was all-you-can-eat!
Tangy and delicious, the trays of wings and dumplings demanded refilling several times. Thankfully, my seat at the end of the table afforded an excellent view of the grilling area, where skewers upon skewers of meat and shrimp delivered a firm reminder that the best was yet to come.
Several of us requested drinks from the bar, including one who chose to fully immerse himself in the evening’s Hawaiian spirit by ordering the Lapu Lapu. This blend of rum and fruit juices comes in extravagant style – served inside a hollowed-out pineapple.
Much to the chagrin of the one who ordered it, the Lapu Lapu made its way around the table as everyone wanted a taste. It received high marks from all who sampled it. And, honestly, our meal just felt that much more traditionally Hawaiian for having the Lapu Lapu on the table!
One important consideration to note is that it was not only the size of our party that posed a challenge, but that we were a motley crew of adventurous and picky eaters, with a dietary restriction thrown into the mix as well. One family member suffers from gluten intolerance and required special dietary accommodation. The chef came out to speak with her before any food arrived on the table, and he promised to keep her well-stocked with an assortment of gluten-free alternatives (including gluten-free bread, noodles, and dessert).
The ‘Ohana chefs worked hard to ensure that she did not miss out on any aspect of the meal and she could not have been happier with the results.
“Cousin” Candy soon delivered [Read more…]
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is upon us
! And it got us thinking… where would we most like to relax and celebrate after a runDisney race in Disney World? There are lots of things to consider when planning your post-race celebration. So, lace up, friends, and read on!
Located in the heart of the Contemporary Resort, Chef Mickey’s fun-filled buffet is also character meal featuring the Fab Five… which, of course, includes the Big Cheese himself, Mickey Mouse!
• A great buffet with an abundance of choices to fill most any post-race craving;
• If your race happens during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January, this is the place where you can get your picture taken with a character that likely matches the one on your medal! (Minnie for 10K finishers, Donald for Half Marathon finishers, Mickey for full Marathon finishers, and Goofy for those just goofy enough to run both the half and the full!)
• There will be a fair bit of standing (for character pics) and walking (to and from the buffet)… something to keep in mind for tired legs;
• Chef Mickey’s is not open for lunch (when most runners will finish the full marathon), so you’ll need to wait for dinner or next morning’s breakfast to celebrate.
Imagine this: you are walking through Walt Disney World, and suddenly you find yourself immersed in colonial America.
Not only are you reliving some of American history, you discover that it’s Thanksgiving Day and a feast has been prepared for you to enjoy.
Welcome to Liberty Tree Tavern!
Liberty Tree Tavern is located in the Liberty Square area of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. The lobby has somewhat of a “lodge” feel to it. There is a lot of exposed wood and very open spaces.
When we visited, the computers were down, causing several delays and the restaurant to be extremely crowded. After waiting outside for our table to be ready, we were summoned to the lobby and taken to our table.
There are several different dining rooms within Liberty Tree Tavern, all themed after historical figures from United States history. We happened to be seated in the [Read more…]
Based on a previous guest review of this restaurant, I couldn’t wait to go try it out!
Now, to be fair, it’s not as though I’d never been to the Garden Grill Restaurant before… Well, that’s not entirely true. Before this visit, I hadn’t been to the current incarnation of the restaurant. In fact, back in the 80’s, I went to The Land Grille Room, which was what the restaurant was called before its renovation into the Garden Grill Restaurant. (Check out my friend Andy’s creation of a recipe from The Land Grille Room here!
Born as the Good Turn Restaurant and then morphed into The Land Grille Room, this restaurant has had many personalities (my memories include dark red booths and full-blown sculptures of Mickey Mouse made out of butter). Today, it’s a family-style character dinner featuring Chip, Dale, Mickey, and Pluto!
Perhaps the most impressive attribute boasted by Garden Grill is that it’s a rotating restaurant. That’s right — you go around in circles while you’re eating!
But don’t worry; this isn’t as though you’re having dinner on the Teacups. The restaurant rotates s-l-o-w-l-y during your meal, allowing views of the different scenes from the Living With the Land ride taking place below the restaurant.
There are two seating styles in the restaurant, and…listen up — it makes a BIG difference where you sit. I know I’m picky about seating, but in this case, I strongly suggest that you request a semi-circular booth on the lower level of the restaurant.
This isn’t just for comfort’s sake (though the cushioned booths ARE more comfortable than the hard chairs at the tables). The booths give you an unobstructed view of the scenes you’re passing by from the ride below, and the high backs also [Read more…]
Today, my friends, we’re headed to Disney World’s Polynesian Resort to visit one of my favorite places — and yours — ‘Ohana. Those of you versed in Lilo and Stitch, or those of you who have been lucky enough to visit the beautiful islands of Hawai’i, know that “‘Ohana” means “Family,” and at this restaurant, they drive the point home.
Food is served family style, everyone in the restaurant — including you — are “cousins,” and the Hawaiian entertainment is aimed at bringing everyone together to participate in common activities. It’s a restaurant like none other in the Disney realm, and its high points are what keeps ‘Ohana a tough reservation to get.
You’re greeted at ‘Ohana by “cousins” at the podium who take your name, give you a buzzer, and send you out into the Polynesian Resort to explore. Trust me, this is one of those rare restaurants where you hope you have 15-20 minutes to wait until you’re seated — there’s so much to do! Here are my favorite diversions while waiting for my buzzer to go off at ‘Ohana:
- Have a Drink: Grab yourself a giant wicker chair in the Tambu Lounge just past the ‘Ohana podium. Knowledgeable bartenders and friendly servers will cater to your whims as you relax and wait for your table. (One of my favorites is the Lapu Lapu…a drink served IN a pineapple!)
- Listen to the Islands: ‘Ohana often provides a very talented [Read more…]