Dining

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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La Cava del Tequila to Host Patron Party at Coronado Springs on Friday, September 12

by on September 3, 2014

On Friday, September 12, at 7:00 PM La Cava del Tequila (the tequila bar located Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion) will host a party at Rix Lounge at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Limited to 150 people, each $30 ticket includes a shot of Patrón Single Barrel Reposado, a Patrón margarita, and light appetizers. Guests can RSVP via email to CavadelTequila@me.com 

laCava

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Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory Review

by on September 2, 2014

Ed. – Today the blog is taking you to Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter. These resorts are connected by a very pleasant walk along the Sassagoula River and are favorites on the Unofficial Guide reader survey.

On my most recent trip to Walt Disney World, I stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter, which is my personal favorite moderate resort hotel. An important factor in choosing any Walt Disney World Resort is the food. Especially when traveling with a larger group, variety is essential when it comes to dining options. Luckily, Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, the main dining option at French Quarter, offers a variety of choices with a strong influence on Cajun and New Orleans cuisine.

Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory is a breakfast, lunch and dinner quick service food court decked out in a bright and colorful Mardi Gras theme. If you’re into subtlety, you might just die of excessiveness while eating here. Some may say that many of the decorations of Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory are “creepy” or “terrifying” but I personally think they straddle the, “almost scary but hilarious because of it” line quite nicely. Also, in case you were wondering, both the Disney Dining Plan and Tables in Wonderland are accepted at Sassagoula. That’s all well and fine but the real question remains. Is the food any good? I’m happy to report that after staying at French Quarter for a week and having multiple meals there, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Fun ambiance or terrifying nightmare fuel? You decide!

Fun ambiance or terrifying nightmare fuel? You decide!

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Be Our Guest Lunch Standby and Same-Day Reservation Policy Updates: September 1, 2014

by on September 1, 2014

Trying to get a lunch table at Be Our Guest can be downright Beastly...unless you know the restaurant's latest policies. (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Trying to get a lunch table at Be Our Guest can be downright Beastly…unless you know the restaurant’s latest policies. (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Last week’s blog post about my unsuccessful attempt to eat lunch at Be Our Guest provoked a number of comments and questions, so I spent a humid Labor Day morning trying to make sense of the latest policies and procedures at the Magic Kingdom’s newest premiere restaurant. Be warned that everything in the below Be Our Guest lunch update should be taken with a shaker of salt, since operations are being adjusted on a daily basis — much to the chagrin of front line cast members, who often don’t know exactly how things will operate on any given day until they attend their morning meeting. With that said, here is my latest first-hand experience with Be Our Guest lunch standby and return time tickets, as well as same-day dinner reservations.

Be Our Guest Lunch Standby and Return Time Tickets

One of my first stops after rope drop was Be Our Guest restaurant, where much to my amazement I found a couple of people already in the standby queue for lunch. When I initially inquired about standby and return time tickets, I was told there was no guarantee yet whether they would be used that day, and was invited to wait in line or return closer to the 10:30 a.m. opening time.

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Menu Monday: WHY WAIT IN LINE WHEN WE CAN JUST DINE? Considering the value of Disney’s Character dining.

by on September 1, 2014

Now that Walt Disney World has a fully operational Fastpass+ system, it seems more clear than ever that the days of spontaneous character meet and greets are over. Instead of wandering up to park-goers on Main Street, characters meet with guests at specific locations, at specific times, with specifically designated lines. This translates into more planning, and, possibly, more waiting, to meet your favorite Disney icons.

Character Times

Character Times from the My Disney Experience App

Thankfully, character dining provides another opportunity to meet some of your favorites. As Brian McNichols outlined in a post here a few months ago, Walt Disney World offers a number of different dining experiences that feature visits with beloved characters to go along with your meal.

But is a character meal, which can approach $50 per adult at certain restaurants, a better value than waiting in line for a meet and greet (which has no cost other than Park admission and the time spent waiting)?

In this post, I’ll do my best to put values on character dining and on meet and greets so you can compare and decide how/where you’ll get a picture of little Suzie with Ariel. Read on for an explanation of how I made my calculations, or, if you prefer, skip right to some examples

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