Dining

Menu Monday: When to Expand the Palate and When to Stick with Tradition

by on September 15, 2014

BBQSlaw

From Casey’s Corner

We all have foods that take us to our happy place.

Better yet, we all have foods in our happy place that remind us we are there.

Best of all, we all have Disney dining favorites in the Happiest Place on Earth that we love to eat – over and over and over again.

For me, it is the Barbecue Slaw Dog at Casey’s Corner in Magic Kingdom park. Ever since I heard about the hot dog thanks to the Disney Food Blog, I have been getting it on every trip – four vacations and counting!

But when is it time to let that delicious habit pass, and replace it with something else that’s delicious? Is it ever okay? It depends on the situation. Let’s think this over together.

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Menu Monday: A Review of the Four Seasons Ravello Character Breakfast

by on September 15, 2014

Where we live in Central Florida, we are able to drive by a view of the Four Seasons several times a week. When we heard that they offer a character breakfast, it seemed like a great way to take a look at the resort and enjoy a meal without feeling like people going to the resort to snoop around and gawk.

The Four Seasons offers Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and His Pals at Ravello. Before I go any further, I want to point out that I have a four-year-old who is a big fan of characters and an even bigger fan of breakfast. Thus, unless Ravello completely missed the mark, this would be an easy sell. I, on the other hand, am not a big breakfast eater and get a little shy around characters, so I’d be harder to impress. My husband is middle-of-the-road in terms of love of breakfast and characters, but as long as the coffee is good, he will be content. Long story short, all three of us left thinking this was the best character meal we have ever had and possibly the best breakfast as well. We made reservations through OpenTable from the Four Seasons web site and had plenty of availability even at the last minute, even though this is probably the smallest character buffet on property.

ravello bfast

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons Breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table is Worth Your Time and Effort

by on September 13, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons Breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table is Worth Your Time and Effort. One of the most coveted dining experiences at Walt Disney World is Cinderella’s Royal Table (CRT). Even with its high price tag ($58.15 for adults, $35.86 for kids, or two table service credits on the Disney Dining Plan) this restaurant can be a challenge to get into, especially for breakfast. Is CRT worth the hype? I believe it is, but to get the best possible experience it is going to take more than just money. It is going to take a decent amount of planning, a little bit of patience, and maybe just a pinch of luck to get the opportunity, but you and your family are worth the effort, right? Remember that clicking on any picture will bring up the full size version, and let’s get to counting down what separates Cinderella’s Royal Table from everything else, starting with….

# 6 – An empty Main Street, U.S.A.

CRT_MoneyShot

How much is this view worth to you?

 

This won’t come easy, but it is a wonderful reward to some hard work. To be able to get an early morning walk down Main Street, U.S.A., you’re going to have to get up even earlier 180 days ahead of time to book your CRT reservation. With Disney on-site guests getting “180 days + 10″ for advance dining reservations, it certainly wouldn’t hurt your chances to be staying a night or more on Disney property. I recommend using this Priority Seating Calculator (not affiliated with TouringPlans) to figure out when you’ll be 180 days out from the date you’d like. On the day you are eligible to book your advanced dining reservation, you need to be prepared to go online or call (407) WDW-DINE at 6 AM. I would recommend the phone call and make sure you are ready by 5:45 AM. The earliest seatings at CRT are one of the hardest reservations in the Disney system, but luck favors the prepared and your chances of scoring an elusive 8:05 AM reservation will increase tenfold if you go into this with a plan.

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Observations from Downtown Disney (Fit2Run, Theme Park Tagalongs, New Bridge to Saratoga Springs, Construction Walls)

by on September 9, 2014

Time to head back to Walt Disney World’s shopping and dining district, Downtown Disney (DTD). In my last several photo reports of DtD I have skipped over just how many construction walls have popped up all over the place, so today we’re going to get up close and personal with those, as well as a new bridge connecting DTD to the Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. We’ll also check out the Fit2Run store on the West Side, look at some new merchandise at World of Disney, artwork at Art of Disney, collectibles at D-Sreet and give a full report on whether or not Theme Park Tagalongs actually do what they say they do (as I had my doubts when I first saw them). So sit back and get ready to take a tour through the construction capital of the world (and don’t forget that clicking on any picture will bring up the full size version). Ready? Well let’s get to it!

 

DTD_MoreWalls

All roads lead to more walls.

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Disney Dining: Bongos Cuban Cafe at Downtown Disney

by on September 8, 2014

Recently I was at Downtown Disney and had planned to go to the House of Blues to do a photo report. Unfortunately, when photographer Brandon Glover and I got to the restaurant they told us it would be a ten minute wait. This was in the middle of a weekday and the House of Blues was – at best – 30% full. There were even two parties ahead of us waiting to get a table. Acting on principal alone, the thought of waiting 10 minutes to get a table in an empty restaurant with so many other choices nearby seemed beyond ridiculous, so we left to try another venue. A couple steps down from House of Blues lies Bongos Cuban Cafe, so we decided to check it out since neither one of us had ever tried it before.

 

Bongos_outside

Bongos Cuban Cafe (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Menu Monday: Snacks Around the World Showcase – Germany

by on September 8, 2014

Spaceship Earth!

Spaceship Earth! © Disney

Welcome once again to Menu Monday, where we explore what packaged edibles Disney offers. We are traveling around the World Showcase, stopping in at each country to give an interesting and unusual (and hopefully tasty!) snack a try. We have already visited Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, and France. Today we are checking out what snacks are available in Germany. Before we get started heading around the Showcase, let’s remember the rules:

Snack Rules

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

Let’s go find some snacks from Germany!

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Menu Monday: Downtown Disney Breakfast Options

by on September 8, 2014

With all the construction going on for the future of Disney Springs, it is very tempting to stay away. Between limited parking, confusing mazes of walls everywhere, and the challenge of even finding what entrance is open to drive in, the whole experience can be a bit stressful, especially later in the afternoon and evening times. Yet, there is a wonderful reason to find your way in – and at a time when parking is easy to find and crowds are low: Breakfast!

Downtown Disney may not be the first thought for many people when they think breakfast, but there are actually more Downtown Disney breakfast options than there are in some of the theme parks. Here’s a sampling of what you can find.

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Menu Monday: Trials and Tribulations of an Amateur ‘Disney’ Chef

by on September 8, 2014

FoodandWinelogosmallAs some of you know, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will be starting September 19 and running through November 10. In honor of this event (and the fact that I will be attending for the first time), I decided to put my culinary skills to the test.

The Challenge: Recreate three popular recipes found at Walt Disney World.

The Line Up:

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The Disney Dazzle: Cinderella’s Royal Table

by on September 7, 2014

We’re back for another Disney Dazzling story! If you want to read about my magical time meeting Mickey Mouse, click here.

I experienced breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table* in early 2014. Reservations had been made the previous fall, and the anticipation had been building ever since. Not only would I be visiting Magic Kingdom, but I was going to meet five of my childhood idols. My inner five-year-old was rejoicing at the opportunity!

We walked down Main Street, U.S.A., and the closer we got to the castle, the faster I walked. I’m pretty sure I was sprinting those last few yards, trying to quickly close the distance between the castle and myself.

The entrance to the restaurant is next to Fantasyland. As I walked through the castle tunnel, I noticed five beautiful mosaic murals depicting Cinderella’s fairy tale. Fun Fact: These murals were made with over 300,000 pieces of Italian glass, and some contain sterling silver and even 14-karat gold. They were sure a ‘gem’ to look at! (bu dum, chee!)

Photo - Keith Dahlgren

How majestic!

Upon notifying the hostess of our arrival, we waited outside only a few minutes before being ushered into the castle. We walked through a gothic archway and entered the beautiful entry hall. The medieval-inspired hall had antique-looking tapestries covering the marble walls, while aged light fixtures made the space glow. I saw several coat of arms high above, and wooden benches lined the walls. As I walked further in, I saw none other than Cinderella herself greeting guests. My mind began to wonder as I waited in line: Would I be able to give her a hug? Would she let me live in the castle with her? If she asked, I would surely say, “Yes,” even if it meant having Gus and Jaq as roommates. When it was our turn, she smiled and signed my autograph book while asking us about our morning. She graciously accepted my hug (Hugging a princess, check that off my bucket list!), and a Disney photographer took our picture. There were other photo opportunities following our time with Cinderella. I recall a throne chair, suit of armor, and an old fireplace. We took a picture of our baby daughter in the fireplace (don’t worry, it wasn’t lit), and, luckily, she didn’t get any soot on her dress.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons to Check Out Disney’s Pop Century Resort

by on September 6, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons to Check Out Disney’s Pop Century Resort. One of Disney’s Value Resorts, Pop Century has a level of theming that makes it stand out compared to the other lower priced hotel offerings at the All Star resorts as well as dedicated bus transportation to the parks and Downtown Disney. The entire resort is themed around pop culture icons from the latter half of the twentieth century, with the wings of the hotel dedicated to the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Each wing has elements from their particular decade throughout the area. If it sounds cheesy, that’s because it is cheesy, but it’s a good kind of cheesy way and one that can bring back a lot of memories for every family. At the very least Pop Century is great for an afternoon of “resort hopping” to see some of the things they offer that you can’t find at any other Disney resort, starting with…

 

# 6 – The Lobby is a Wonderful Trip Back Through Time

SS_PopCentury_Lobby2

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

 

While the check-in desks inside Classic Hall are the same that you will see in many theme park hotels, the walls opposite check in are filled with shadow boxes containing items from the 1950s through the 1990s. This is a wall that will have various generations of every family seeing an item and instantly remembering where they were in life when that was popular.  Elvis, the Moon landing, Dobie Gillis (with Maynard G Krebs), the Beach Boys, Star Wars, Mork & Mindy, Jane Fonda’s workout book, Trivial Pursuit, He-Man, Go-Bots, Smurfs, and so much more are in this area.

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