Dining

The Land Pavilion Triple Play: Ride, Tour, Eat at Epcot

by on June 30, 2015

© Sarah Graffam

Epcot’s Behind the Seeds tour (photos by Sarah Graffam)

The Land Pavilion in Epcot’s Future World offers Disney World guests a cornucopia of experiences with its multiple attractions, a fantastic food court, a table service restaurant (that rotates!), and a behind-the-scenes tour. Even better is that many of these experiences are an excellent way to appreciate the original goal of Epcot—for guests to have fun while they learn. For these reasons, my family recently decided to complete a Land Pavilion Triple Play. Come along as we ride, eat, and tour at the Land Pavilion!

Creating a Touring Plan for a Triple Play

TouringPlans logoI decided that creating a personalized Touring Plan would be an excellent way to test the timing of spending an afternoon in Epcot experiencing the Land Pavilion’s attractions, taking its Behind the Seeds tour, and eating dinner at the Garden Grill Restaurant.

This plan would include a FastPass+ reservation at the Land’s Soarin’. To round out our allotment of three FastPass+ reservations per day, we would start our plan with just enough time to use FastPass+ at Spaceship Earth and the Seas with Nemo & Friends before heading to the Land Pavilion.

My first step was to book the Behind the Seeds tour. Booking the last tour of the day—at 4:30 PM—seemed like the best way to maintain a relaxed pace throughout the rest of our day. At the very latest, we would arrive at the Land Pavilion with enough time to experience the Living with the Land attraction before the tour. Living with the Land is a boat cruise through the same greenhouses where the in-depth Behind the Seeds walking tour takes place. This makes it a perfect way to get excited for the tour.

© Sarah Graffam

Guests enjoying Living with the Land boat attraction

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Universal Dining: Emeril’s New Cocktail Menu

by on June 29, 2015

A longtime favorite of TouringPlans readers, Emeril’s Orlando is the Florida outpost of Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans restaurant and has probably the best food and wine list within all of CityWalk, and considering the new competition including Vivo Italian Kitchen, Antojitos Authentic Mexican and The Cowfish, that is quite the accomplishment. The restaurant itself sits in prime real estate at Universal, overlooking the park’s lagoon as you make your way to Islands of Adventure. The food is Louisiana-style with Lagasse’s signature creative flair, with a menu that is routinely being updated with new dishes.

Emerils_main

Emeril’s in Universal CityWalk. (photo by Brandon Glover)

We were recently asked to try out Emeril’s new cocktail menu, and we felt we needed to bring along an expert in the field of theme park drinking to fully gauge the quality of this menu. A call was placed to the agents of Drunk@Disney, and after tough negotiations he agreed to join crack photographer Brandon Glover on this journey. The theme of the new menu  is simple: Classic New Orleans both pre-prohibition and modern. Emeril’s wanted to focus on providing an authentic new Orleans experience. Did they pull it off? Let’s check it out…

Emerils11

Monk’s Revolt, The New G&T, Smoking Gun, and Passion Fruit Hurricane

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s BoardWalk Resort

by on June 27, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s BoardWalk Resort. While we have done articles on several of our favorite Walt Disney World resorts, including Animal Kingdom Lodge, Art of Animation, and Port Orleans French Quarter, it was the BoardWalk Inn & Villas which was the hardest to cut down to just our six favorite things. The overall depth of theming and amount of details throughout the resort is second to none. 

BoardWalk_LOGO

Disney’s BoardWalk.

The BoardWalk was the second of Disney Vacation Club properties to be built (following Old Key West) and its “story” revolves around  the great East Coast boardwalk areas of the 1920s and 30s. In the early part of the 20th century places like Coney Island in New York and Atlantic City in New Jersey were the Walt Disney World of their day. Attractions, restaurants, hotels… they were the place to be. Disney Imagineers and architect Robert A.M. Stern pulled from this incredible era of history of America to create Disney’s BoardWalk and left tons of wonderful details for guests to appreciate. The details are just one of the many reasons we think this resort is the bee’s knees, so let’s begin counting down our top six reasons starting with…

# 6 – The Lobby

There are some lobbies at Walt Disney World which will have you picking your jaw off the floor (most notably the Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Wilderness Lodge) but what the BoardWalk lacks in expansiveness it makes up for in fantastic show elements, such as the gorgeous Hippocampus Electrolier hanging above. A hippocampus is a creature from Greek mythology that is part horse, part fish, while electrolier is a name for a ceiling fixture holding electric lamps (a name which never took hold and is just referred to as a chandelier today.) Weighing in at 3,000 pounds and intricately detailed, this may very well be the most impressive chandelier on Disney property, and imagine what that is saying.

BoardWalk_chandilier

The BoardWalk’s stunning hippocampus electrolier. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

FAQ Dining with Kids on Disney Cruise Line

by on June 24, 2015

A common refrain on Disney cruises is, “If you see it, eat it.” It’s no secret that, for many guests, a key attraction of cruising is the food. This holds true for kids as well as adults. Just the thought of the unlimited ice cream available on the pool deck is enough to send some kids begging you to book another voyage. Here’s everything you need to know about dining with kids on Disney Cruise Line.

All the Mickey waffles you can eat on the Disney Fantasy

All the Mickey waffles you can eat on the Disney Fantasy

THE BASICS

What type of restaurants are on board the Disney ships?

Much like the Disney theme parks, there are five main classifications of dining venue on board the Disney ships.

  • Counter Service. This is the equivalent of the quick service venues in the parks. You walk up to a counter, ask for your food, a cast member hands it to you, and you take it yourself to a table. The counter service restaurants are primarily located in a cluster on the main pool deck of each ship. Typical offerings include pizza, small sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, fresh fruit, chicken fingers, etc. You’ll also find fountain soda dispensers and soft serve ice cream dispensers nearby. All these items are included in the cost of your cruise. There are additional counter service windows located near the theaters on each ship. These counters offer packaged snacks like M&Ms, fresh popcorn, and canned sodas. These items are not included in the price of your cruise.
  • Rotational Dining. This is the equivalent of the standard table service restaurants in the parks. You are seated at a table and presented with a menu, a server takes your order, brings your food, and clears it when you’re done. With the exception of a few specialty beverages, the cost of these meals is included in the price of your cruise. There are three rotational dining venues on each ship. These are also known as the main dining rooms (MDRs).You will “rotate” through the three main dining rooms on different nights of your sailing. The longer your voyage, the more times you’ll experience each restaurant. But don’t worry about getting bored, the menus change nightly.
  • Buffet. While the buffet-style restaurants in the Disney theme parks hew closely to the table service model, the buffets on the ships are more like a cross between a food court and a school cafeteria during the breakfast and lunch hours. The buffet location will operate as a table service location for dinner service. With the exception of a few specialty beverages, the cost of these meals is included in the price of your cruise.
  • Cafe and Lounge. This is the equivalent of a Disney World hotel bar, or the in-park Starbucks (though they don’t serve Starbucks coffee). Each ship has several cafes, offering specialty coffees and teas, and lounges offering primarily adult beverages and soft drinks. None of the beverages here are included with your cruise, but there are snack-size food items at these venues which generally are included.
  • Adult Dining. This is the equivalent of the fancy signature dining restaurants at Walt Disney World. On the Disney Cruise Line ships, these restaurants are restricted to guests ages 18 and up. The adult dining venues are Palo on all four ships, plus Remy on the Dream and Fantasy.

Additionally, you’ll find that room service (in-room dining) is available for all staterooms on the Disney ships.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

2016 Disney Dining Plan Prices

by on June 22, 2015

Disney Dining PlanFirst, Rikki let us know the changes coming to the very popular Disney Dining Plans for 2016. Now that 2016 package terms have been released, it looks like we have prices too. There are small increases coming in pricing for guests in 2016.

Note: Disney doesn’t actually announce pricing. This was figured using a January 1, 2016, booking at Pop Century and a calculator.

2016 Disney Dining Plan Pricing

  • Quick Service $42.77/night, child 3-9 $17.54 – was $41.99 and $16.03
  • Regular plan $61.82,  child $20.98 – was $60.64 and $19.23
  • Deluxe Plan $111.73, child $32.56 – was $109.53 and $29.86

All prices include tax.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

A Star Wars Weekends Experience Without a Plan

by on June 10, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

One of my favorite annual events at Walt Disney World is Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Star Wars Weekends takes place Fridays through Sundays from mid-May to mid-June and has only expanded over the years.

Today fellow fans of the force can get autographs and photos with Star Wars characters and celebrities, watch the Legends of the Force: Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade and the Symphony in the Stars fireworks display, take in the Stars of the Saga Star Wars Celebrity Talk Show, and, for the kids, participate in the Padawan Mind Challenge and Jedi Training Academy.

There’s also Star Wars themed dining and shopping and even more events for the major fans! Clearly, Star Wars Weekends is true to its name as you need weekends to do it all; but what if, like me, you really don’t want to spend hours in line or have to live by your times guide. What if you just want to check out the event? Sure there are touring plans that work great, but is it actually possible to enjoy a day at Star Wars Weekends by flying casual? Last week, I decided to find out and went to the event on a whim with no plan, no FastPass+, and absolutely no agenda. As it turns out, I was still able to see and do quite a bit. So for today, I’m going to share with you Padawans how I had A Star Wars Weekends Experience Without a Plan.

I Visited on a Friday – I decided to check out the event on a Friday; and as Friday is still a work day, I found that the crowds and wait times weren’t quite as bad as what I could have experienced on a Saturday or Sunday. For example, The Great Movie Ride had only a 30 minute wait time on Friday while on Sunday, the posted wait time on My Disney Experience was 60 minutes.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Emeril’s Orlando: Very Nice, but Skip It

by on June 7, 2015

My culinary tour of Universal Orlando Resort has, thus far, hit all the highs: the best food, best dessert and breakfast, best theming, and, of course, the best restaurant, in both full-service and counter-service varieties. But now it’s time to hit a low – one of the biggest lows, in fact, that Universal has to offer.

Emeril's Orlando

Before CityWalk’s recent renovations – which have, to date, unleashed eight brand-new venues on the area – Emeril’s Orlando was the flagship eatery at the dining/shopping/entertainment district. And, really, it’s easy to see why: slick, upscale décor, an expansive (and decadent) menu, and a staggering collection of wines (all impeccably stacked in a 12,000-bottle gallery) all make for an impressive dining destination. Eating here is undeniably an experience.

Unfortunately it’s still an experience that, for most people on most schedules and with most budgets, is an experience I recommend be skipped – particularly considering all the other gastronomic delights that Universal Orlando has on hand, from the exclusive themed offerings of The Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter and Springfield, USA to the more traditional (but still excellent) likes of Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food and The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar.

Here’s why you’re better off spending your hard-earned vacation dollars somewhere else:

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

SATURDAY SIX: The Six Best Snacks in Epcot’s World Showcase

by on June 6, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Best Snacks in Epcot’s World Showcase. By now you know we love theme park snacks. From the iconic Mickey Bar and Dole Whip at the Magic Kingdom to the outrageous Brain Freezin’ D’oh-nut Sundae in Springfield USA, we can’t get enough. Today we are going to the holy land of all dining in Walt Disney World, Epcot’s World Showcase. Yes, you know about the incredible restaurants like Via Napoli and bars such as La Cava del Tequila, but we are going to take a look at the underrated dining aspect of World Showcase: the snack department. Everyone has their favorite, so let’s start off the list with….

# 6 – Hand Twisted Pretzel – (Germany)

No offense to the Mickey pretzel but this is THE pretzel to get in Walt Disney World. A hand twisted pretzel in Germany is in fact almost the perfect snack because it’s; A) Easy to eat while touring the park B) Big enough to share C) Is something almost everyone in your party can enjoy D) Goes great with an ice cold beer. Good news on the last point because as luck would have it Germany is also one of the best places to get a beer in World Showcase. How convenient! While we recommend the Oktoberfest brew, you can’t go wrong with the Grapefruit Beer either.

EPCOTSNACKS_GermanPretzel_glover

Pretzel and beer? Who wouldn’t be smiling. (photo by Brandon Glover)

EPCOTSNACKS_pretzel2_glover

Hand twisted pretzel and Altenmunster Oktoberfest. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Brunch

by on June 5, 2015

(Photo by Julia Mascardo)

(Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Although I’ve eaten at Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Hotel for breakfast and dinner, neither my husband nor daughter have had the experience. Most Disney meals tend to be last-minute impulses for us, and Chef Mickey’s is often a difficult one to secure at the last minute. So when I heard that they were going to start brunch, and I was able to get a reservation for the first day, I was delighted to give it a try.

The official name is Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Brunch Buffet, and the price is the same as breakfast at $37.99 for adults and $19.99 for children ages 3 to 9 (plus taxes and gratuity), with Tables in Wonderland discounts available. This price includes your choice of a non-alcoholic beverage.

How does the menu stack up? Well, here are the breakfast menu and the brunch menu side by side.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

NBC Sports Grill & Brew Opening Fall 2015 at Universal Orlando CityWalk

by on June 1, 2015

NBC Sports Grill & Brew Citywalk

Concept art for CityWalk’s new NBC Sports Grill & Brew (image via Universal Orlando)

We’ve been watching the construction and following the permit filings for months, but now it is finally official: NBC Sports Grill & Brew is coming to Universal Orlando CityWalk, on the site of the former NASCAR Sports Grille.

The new venue was announced at an industry convention last night, and publicly revealed today via the following Youtube video:

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print