Posts Tagged ‘dining’

Menu Monday: Infant Friendly Dining at Walt Disney World

by on December 22, 2014

BiergartenOne of the (many) reasons I love Walt Disney World is because the parks are so family friendly. There are some vacation destinations where bringing a baby would be impossible. At Disney, even the dining is suitable for all ages.

Having a young one of my own, I know the insecurities that come with bringing an infant to a restaurant.

Will she get fussy? What if she cries? How will I entertain her?

Quick service dining is one thing, but enjoying a nice sit-down meal is quite another. So with that in mind, i’ve provided a list of my favorite infant-friendly restaurants within the four parks.

Note: When making your dining reservation, be sure to include your child into the final number. Disney counts per spot at the table, not just who is eating.

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Menu Monday: Best Counter Service Restaurants in Animal Kingdom

by on December 1, 2014

This is the second installment in a series on the top counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World. The first article addressed the best and worst counter services of Magic Kingdom, and now we’ll take a walk on the wild side as we review the best counter service restaurants in Animal Kingdom. Keep in mind that to dine at any of these locations, you will need a valid park ticket for admission. Additionally, with some of the construction and updates occurring around Animal Kingdom, not all of these locations may be open or accessible during your planned trip, so be sure to check the Disney Dining website for a full list of open dining options.

To refresh your memory, here is the grading scale I’ve used to determining how each counter service location has earned it’s ranking:

  • Value (portion/cost ratio) = 10 points
  • Flavor = 10 points
  • Originality = 5 points
  • Atmosphere = 5 points
  • Grand total = 30 possible points

So, let’s dive in!

Flame Tree Barbecue – Discovery IslandFTB Sign

Flame Tree Barbecue has long been a popular recommendation among Disney vacationers, and for good reason! It’s got a menu that pleases practically everyone in your group, prices that aren’t so difficult to swallow, and after years of visiting this location, I’ve never been disappointed. The quality has remained consistent and delicious. So, swing by Discovery Island for some finger-licking deliciousness.

Value = 10/10

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Menu Monday: Late Arrival Day Food Choices at Disney World

by on November 17, 2014

Late Night Castle, perfect sight for late night dining at disney world

Even if you arrive to see this gorgeous sight, it still isn’t too late for you to find a good meal.

The Walt Disney World Resort area has tons of options for dining, from quick service restaurants, places to get snacks, or regular table service restaurants, to fancy, signature dining experiences. However, sometimes there seems to be no options other than the $2 vending machine crackers at your resort, once you’re on the property, especially if you don’t have a vehicle and are relying on Disney transportation. To avoid the stress of trying to track down dining options for your late arrival, I have gathered a listing for restaurants that stay open late, so you can avoid wandering around hungry. In addition, I listed the items available on the menu, written in plain language for easy understanding (i.e., it might be Oak-Grilled Salmon with a Selection of Winter Greens, but I’ll simplify it down to Grilled Salmon). Obviously, both hours and menus are subject to change, but you can check with Cast Members at the park or at your resort upon check in to ensure that these options are still available and open late. Here goes!

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Menu Monday: Best Counter Service Restaurants in Magic Kingdom

by on November 17, 2014

Be Our Guest RestaurantPicking your favorite Walt Disney World counter/quick service restaurant is like picking your favorite child, sure on some days you may like one more than the other (come on, we’ve all been there!), but overall, you just can’t choose a favorite! Dining in Walt Disney World has become a favorite past time among repeat guests. And now, more often than not, first time guests have their own “bucket list” of restaurants to eat at or snack to try. With this increase in demand and expectation, Disney has responded by adding more restaurants and expanding the menus of their current restaurants. These adjustments also come with price increases. As Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin from ABC’s Once Upon A Time always reminds us, “all magic comes with a price” even Disney’s pixie-dusted munchies. But fear not intrepid traveler and foodie, you can indulge your taste buds and save your budget with the counter/quick service restaurants available at every Disney Park and resort. But with literally, over a hundred to choose from (seriously, 102 – I counted!), I’m here to help you select the best of the best, park by park and even among the resorts. This article will focus on the counter service options of the Magic Kingdom. The focus will be on restaurants that offer a full meal option. Though there are many additional locations I could have included in this list, I narrowed it down to exclude those counter locations that really only sell snacks. After watching hours of Master Chef and Chopped, I’ve devised a ranking system that will incorporate four criteria into the ultimate calculation for the best counter service meals.  The criteria are:

  • Best value (portion/cost ratio) = 10 points
  • Flavor = 10 points
  • Originality = 5 points
  • Atmosphere = 5 points
  • Grand total = 30 possible points

Be Our Guest – New Fantasyland

This latest addition to the Magic Kingdom dining line-up has everyone crazed to make dinner reservations or snag the elusive lunch FastPass+ option. The menu is a bit pricier than other counter service option, and it’s only available as a counter service during the lunch hours (10:30am to 2:30pm). Starting at 4pm, Be Our Guest is considered a Table Service restaurant where prices increase and the menu changes a bit.

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Menu Monday: A Pescetarian Guide to Disney World

by on November 3, 2014

Even spell-check does not know what a pescetarian is, so allow me to explain: a pescetarian diet is similar to a vegetarian diet, with the addition of fish. Reasons for eating pescetarian range from the health conscious to the animal loving. My family and I have been pescetarians for the past eight years–minus one stubbornly carnivorous brother. We have traveled throughout the Walt Disney World theme parks finding counter service restaurants that offer a variety of pescetarian, vegetarian, and vegan options. So whether you’re a pescetarian yourself or you ride The Seas with Nemo and Friends and think “them’s good eatins,” this pescetarian guide to Disney World is for you.

pescetarian Disney World

Columbia Harbor House has an extensive seafood menu. Photo by Maddi Higgins.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom’s counter service dining has vastly improved in recent years, and that improvement has included adding many pescetarian and vegetarian options.

Pescetarian Pick: When I mentioned to my fellow Cast Members that I was working on this article, Columbia Harbor House was the first restaurant mentioned by every single person. Options range from the classic fried fish and French fries to grilled salmon with couscous and broccoli. The fried selections are essentially the same as you’ll find anywhere else on property, but the Anchors Aweigh and Lighthouse sandwiches are unique selections It’s also home to my favorite kid’s meal: tuna salad sandwich on goldfish-shaped bread for only $5.99. While seafood and veggie-lovers have a great variety to choose from, pickings are relatively slim for classic carnivores. I’m also happy to see that TouringPlans.com users agree with unfailing support of the restaurant, with 93% of users giving Columbia Harbor House a positive review.

Honorable Mentions: If you can manage to get in the restaurant, Be Our Guest’s tuna Nicoise salad is yummy and you can’t beat the atmosphere. I never thought I would ever say this in my life about a restaurant in Fantasyland, but Pinocchio Village Haus actually has pretty good flatbread pizza. However, there is no reason not to walk to Columbia Harbor House no matter where you are in Magic Kingdom, considering how superior the selection is to anywhere else.

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Menu Monday: Desserts Aboard the Disney Wonder

by on November 3, 2014

Disney Wonder Desserts

A Work Of Art – It tasted as good as it looks!

If you’ve been following along you probably already know by now that I was lucky enough to enjoy a spectacular Disney Alaska Cruise this summer aboard the Disney Wonder. Between rounds of bingo and incredible Port Adventures like dog sledding, riding the rails and soaring in a floatplane, I managed to fit in some time to eat. Talking to several cruisers during my planning, I discovered that dining onboard the cruise ship was a large part of the vacation for most people. Being an extremely picky eater myself, I planned on focusing my meals mainly on dessert.

Please continue on to see my dessert lover’s photo diary as I ate my way around the Disney Wonder!

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Cast Member Chronicles: Chef Kevin Marshall

by on October 12, 2014

Photo Credit - Derek Burgan

Crystal Palace

I met Chef Kevin Marshall at a dinner party while visiting Orlando this past September. He is a friend of my Uncle Keith, and was gracious enough to share his culinary talents as our personal chef for the evening. As he prepared a scrumptious feast for us, I interviewed him about his diverse and fascinating career at Walt Disney World.

In June of 1989, he was a man fresh out of tech school. He applied at Walt Disney World, but soon learned there was a hiring freeze for positions he originally desired. Because he had previously managed a Wendy’s restaurant, he was offered a job in food and beverage at The Crystal Palace. As part of the culinary staff, he moved around to different positions, soon cooking alongside professional Disney chefs.

While working at the Crystal Palace, he and two other coworkers were asked to carve a 700 lb pumpkin for Halloween. They were told to carve and hand paint the ‘Blustery Day’ scene from Winnie the Pooh. It took two weeks of overtime and 90 man hours to complete this masterpiece. It was displayed outside the restaurant, surrounded by bales of hay to prevent guests from touching it. One day, a Cast Member saw a little boy ignoring the bales and and putting his hands on the carved image of Pooh. Originally thinking the boy was causing mischief, the Cast Member told the boy to refrain from touching the pumpkin. As it turns out, the little boy was blind. He never knew what Pooh and his friends looked like. From the carving, the boy was able to feel and learn the character shapes. It was his own personal braille pattern. Kevin said it made all his hard work truly worth it and is a memory that touches him to this day.

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Best Things to Do Outside the Parks

by on September 3, 2014

Walt Disney World Resort has endless ways for you to fill your vacation days. When most people plan, save, and book a Disney vacation, the main idea is exploit all of the attractions the parks have to offer. And with four theme parks stuffed to the gills with attractions, restaurants, and characters, anyone can have a fabulous vacation just focusing on these options. However, the Walt Disney Resort isn’t just about the parks, as many locals and veterans of Disney vacations can attest, what keeps us all coming back are the endless options to have a magical time.

The Unofficial Guide recommends building in a “down day” into your vacation schedule. One day, set aside where you don’t go to a park, but enjoy the extra amenities that Disney offers beyond the parks. This is not only a great way to recover from 2-3 straight days of Touring Plan mania, but it can also save you a bit of cash from needing another day of park tickets. Here are some of best ways to spend your vacation days out of the parks.

No Disney vacation is complete without your favorite souvenir

No Disney vacation is complete without your favorite souvenir

Shopping. Ok, this option may end up costing you more than another day of park tickets, but what vacation is complete without a few souvenirs to take home with you? And with Downtown Disney undergoing the transformation into Disney Springs, this option is going to get even better!

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Menu Monday: The Best Recurring Items at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

by on August 18, 2014

The Hawai'i kiosk at Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

Copyright – Disney

Walt Disney World’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival is a wonderful thing. Do you remember that episode of The Simpsons where Homer frolicked through a land made entirely of chocolate? That’s essentially the Food and Wine Festival in a nutshell, only with less cruelty-to-confectionaries and more damage to your wallet. All around the World Showcase you’ll find new kiosks set up celebrating food and drink from across the globe, with dozens of shareable sized dishes of everything you could ever hope to try available for purchase. While each year they offer a wide variety of new menu items, there are always some that are so popular they keep coming back. Here are some of the best items that will be back this year you should be reserving valuable tummy space for… and make sure to check out the official Food and Wine Festival 2014 menus for all the rest! (Food item prices range from $3.00 to $8.00 USD per.)

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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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