Dining

Menu Monday: Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar

by on August 18, 2014

Trader Sam's drinks - Natalie Reiner

The Shipwreck on the Rocks and the Polynesian Punch in their souvenir mugs at Trader Sam’s. The Navy Grog, being off-menu, doesn’t have a souvenir option.

For such a hot spot for Disney super-fans, Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar sure has an unassuming location.

Sharing a building and patio with the Disneyland Hotel’s counter-service dining location, Tangaroa Terrace, Trader Sam’s could easily be overlooked amidst all the drooping palms and towel-clad children running to the monorail water-slides. But word is out: Trader Sam’s, a tiny little bar named for the head salesman of the Jungle Cruise, is a can’t-miss highlight of any Disneyland vacation.

Inside, louvered “windows” look out on tropical islands, a la the Enchanted Tiki Room, and tiki gods gaze down from the rafters and walls. Notes and aged photos pay tribute to Disney films, Imagineers, and Cast from over the decades. Just in terms of exploring the archives and deciphering the inside jokes, Trader Sam’s is Disney-nerd heaven.

And so Trader Sam’s has become part of the Disneyland trip for in-the-know fans. One morning that I was there, in fact, every single person in the room was a Walt Disney World Cast Member or Cast Member-alumni–including myself, and the bartender.

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Menu Monday: Inside the Disneyland Corn Dog

by on August 18, 2014

What makes these so special?

Why is this so delicious? Photo - Disney Parks Blog

Food. It is the most important experience you will have on a vacation. Whether you are traveling to Walt Disney World or Paris, the food you eat will shape your entire traveling experience. So, why is it that foodies always insist on people trying the Disneyland corn dog? It is just a corn dog after all, right? Well, this is not no ordinary corn dog, my friends. This is a piece of crunchy, delicious heaven. Even TouringPlans’ Researcher and blogger Guy expresses that…

Disneyland corn dogs are legendary among Disneyland locals for a good reason. They are giant, cheap, and most importantly delicious! They are hand dipped right before serving so you will hardly ever get a stale corn dog. Believe the hype.

Guy is not the only one that raves about the corn dog at Disneyland, L.A. Weekly’s Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold has stated that the corn dog at Disneyland is the best he has ever eaten.

So, what makes these corn dog so dang special? Well, it is actually pretty simple, and Gary Maggetti, Director of Food and Beverage for Disneyland Resort and Disney World, explains the originals of the Disneyland corn dog and why it is so magical in the video below.

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Favorite Park Series: Disney’s Magic Kingdom

by on August 17, 2014

Magic Kingdom

We made it!

We did it. We made it to the end of my Favorite Park Series. To read my highlights on Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, here ya go!

Now, let’s see what puts the ‘Magic’ in Magic Kingdom.

Memorable Moments 

“Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy” – Walt Disney.

Indeed, these memorable words are embodied in the ambiance and attractions of Magic Kingdom. Main Street, U.S.A., is reminiscent of small town America, with Ma and Pa general stores full of delicious goodies and fun souvenirs. Adventureland creates exotic experiences such as boarding the Jungle Cruise and joining the crew on the fan favorite, Pirates of the Caribbean. Make your way over to Frontierland and enter the Wild West. Hold on to your cowboy hats

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Observations from Downtown Disney Part 2 (Disney Springs, World of Disney, T-REX)

by on August 12, 2014

In part one of this photo tour of Downtown Disney we covered the West Side and all the walls surrounding Pleasure Island. We start off part two with one of the only references to Disney Springs that you will see in the entire Downtown Disney area. Even the concept art doesn’t have “Disney Springs” on it. Several lampposts outside of Fulton’s Crab House were emblazoned with the Disney Springs logo earlier this spring.

 

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Snacks Around the World Showcase – United Kingdom

by on August 11, 2014

Welcome to Menu Monday. If your diet started today, we apologize. The TouringPlans Blog is trying out themed days for our content – starting with a consolidation of food and restaurant reviews on Mondays. Let us know what you think by email blog at touring plans dot com.

We’re making our way around Epcot’s World Showcase, finding interesting packaged snacks to try.  We have already visited Japan and Canada, and tried some red bean paste buns, crackers, and a maple lollipop so now it’s time to try a United Kingdom snack!  What will we find to munch on there?

Epcot Spaceship Earth

No time for Spaceship Earth! It’s time for a snack!

 

Snack Rules

  • No snacks over $10; preferably less than $5
  • As unusual as possible
  • Something I personally would eat

Let’s go and see what we can find!

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Anything But More Chicken Fingers: A Tour of Healthier Kids Meals at Disney World Resorts

by on August 11, 2014

t_logo_fbWelcome to Menu Monday. If your diet started today, we apologize. The TouringPlans Blog is trying out themed days for our content – starting with a consolidation of food and restaurant reviews on Mondays. Let us know what you think by email blog at touring plans dot com.

A challenge many vacationing families face is the seemingly static food offerings for the youngsters. Hamburgers and fries, chicken tenders and tater tots – those are the options you will find almost everywhere. Stop at your typical restaurant off the interstate on the way to Walt Disney World, and one, if not both, of those will certainly be among the kids’ selections.  It can be frustrating, but if you have elementary school-aged children, a cycle of repetitive fast food is sometimes almost a necessary evil.  By schedule, convenience, or even vacation, we’ve all been on a run of eating out just a little too much, to the point where the mere sight of your eight-year-old popping down one more chicken nugget drives you to your wit’s end.

You wonder, possibly even aloud: “Am I going to have to make the kids drink nothing but water for the next month to flush all of the grease from their digestive systems?”

Well, good news! While many of the kids’ menus at Disney also feature these good ol’ standbys, a little exploration of your resort restaurants will open up the meal options for the children.  Here are some of my clan’s favorite healthier choices at restaurants found at Walt Disney World resorts.

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Menu Monday: Best Sandwiches in Disney World

by on August 11, 2014

Welcome to Menu Monday. If your diet started today, we apologize. The TouringPlans Blog is trying out themed days for our content – starting with a consolidation of food and restaurant reviews on Mondays. Let us know what you think by emailing blog at touring plans dot com.

Sandwiches are pretty darn close to being the world’s most perfect food. No wonder they’re Anna and Hans’ favorite food (I mean, they’re always finishing each other’s sandwiches…). They aren’t expensive, cover most of the main food groups, can be simple or gourmet. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t like sandwiches. Even the pickiest eater can usually find a sandwich they enjoy. So, whether your have a family of picky eaters, frugal penny-pinchers, or just sandwich connoisseurs, here’s a list of the top ten places to find the best sandwiches in Disney World.

*If you’re looking to save some dough, be sure to ask the cast members at each dining location if they give discounts to DVC members, Annual Passholders, or if they accept the Tables in Wonderland discount. This information changes regularly, so it’s always good to ask to make sure you get the best bang for your buck!*

 

Earl of Sandwich - Full Montagu.

Earl of Sandwich – Full Montagu.

Earl of Sandwich (Downtown Disney): For me, no Disney vacation is complete without a visit to Earl of Sandwich, in the Marketplace of Downtown Disney. They have a huge selection of sandwiches which are priced around $6. With a choice of numerous side dish options and a beverage, you’re looking at spending a little less than $10 for a very tasty and filling meal. I can think of no better way to spend an afternoon than with my favorite Earl of Sandwich (The Full Montagu), a patio table and people-watching as families hustle and bustle into the World of Disney in search of vacation treasures.

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Observations from Downtown Disney Part 1 (Parking Garage, West Side shopping, Food Truck Park)

by on August 11, 2014

It has been a while since I have done a photo tour of Downtown Disney, and it was time to head back into what might be the construction capital of the world. There are major projects going on in every single section of Downtown Disney, making a day trip there a potentially stressful challenge. However, it seems as though the area has finally turned a corner, and we are starting to see developments that make Downtown Disney a place worth checking out rather than avoiding because of the construction hassle. Looking at my previous Downtown Disney article from April shows some rather significant changes, so here is what is going on now….

DIS1

Status of parking garage on West Side of Downtown Disney near Cirque du Soleil

 

The parking garage is looking massive, and the map of the area says it should be completed “Early 2015.” Busch Gardens should have done that for its long delayed Falcon’s Fury ride that is “Opening Sometime in 2014.” As ugly as Downtown Disney is right now because of the overall construction, far and away the biggest problem is parking. It was bad enough before huge sections of parking spaces were completely shut down to make way for a much-needed parking garage, and now it can be maddening. For the Guardians of the Galaxy showings this past weekend, the AMC movie theater at Downtown Disney was advising guests to arrive an hour early to give themselves time to find a parking space, with many guests being directed to the overflow areas across the street at Team Disney and Casting.

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Be Our Guest Restaurant Testing New Standby Line Process

by on August 10, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

A test is taking place currently at the Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest Restaurant. During this test, which is only during the venues counter service lunch, guests will find Cast Members near the restaurant who will give them a paper ticket with a return time. (Hmmm…this sounds familiar….) That return time indicates when you will be able to come back to order and enjoy your meal at the restaurant. A limited number of standby tickets are available each day; once these tickets run out, that’s it for the day.

This is similar to tests that have recently taken place at Princess Fairytale Hall to meet Anna and Elsa and Soarin’, and a similar process is currently utilized at both The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow and “For the First Time In Fovever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration” at Hollywood Studios.

Guests who are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel may still make a FastPass+ reservation for lunch and pre-order their meals. However, keep in mind that this is still supposedly an invitation-only option. (Though I’ve also heard that it is open to all guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort. Your mileage may vary.)

The lunchtime test is taking place for the foreseeable future, with no end date announced. Dinner at Be Our Guest remains a table service meal where dining reservations are quickly snatched up, and no procedures are changed for that meal.

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SATURDAY SIX: Top Six Reasons to Visit Downtown Disney In Its Current State

by on August 9, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Top Six Reasons to Visit Downtown Disney in its Current State. There is a lot of construction going on right now at Downtown Disney as the area is being converted over to Disney Springs. “A lot” may actually be an understatement, as there is work being done in every single area of Downtown Disney: the parking lots, West Side, Pleasure Island, and the Marketplace. Parking can be – at best – inconvenient and – at worst – something that can trigger even the most peaceful person to go “Michael Douglas in Falling Down.” Construction walls are everywhere. However, there are still some very good reasons to overcome these obstacles and spend a day or evening there, and today we are going to count down the top six.

# 6 – Raglan Road

raglanroad1

Raglan Road (photo by Brandon Glover)

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