Disney Springs

Enzo’s Hideaway: Pricey Pasta Eatery or Hidden Gem?

by on January 26, 2018

Enzo's Hideaway's entrance at nightThe last of a trio of recent Italian restaurant additions to Disney Springs to open, Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar is a bit of a misnomer – it’s not terribly “hidden” with the bright neon signage out front of the main entrance, nor is it just “a bar”. Located just below STK, directly across and downstairs from Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante and Pizza Ponte, Enzo’s Hideaway is a restaurant specializing in modern takes on Roman Italian classics in a higher-end atmosphere. Disney Dining Plan is not currently accepted for the 2018 plan, but Tables in Wonderland discount applies.

Atmosphere and Menu

The entrance to Enzo's Hideaway Tunnel BarAs the story on the menu tells diners, Enzo (of Maria & Enzo’s fame) found this tunnel when the couple took over the abandoned airport next door (remember, Maria & Enzo’s is an airport terminal), which was previously used by rum runners. This story works hard to service the restaurant’s focus on both Italian food and a spirit & cocktail menu replete with aged rums, an unlikely (in this reviewer’s mind) pairing. Advertised as a bar, the location really does have a vast menu on the drink side, with wines by the bottle and glass, beers, spirits, specialty cocktails, family-style punches and sangria, and a dessert cocktails and digestivi. The restaurant does have a bar with limited seating, located in the main dining room, but fair warning: food service here is hit or miss for the first few weeks of operation, so if you plan to visit the bar, plan on drinks only.

Enzo's stash spot greets you as you enter the restaurantI had fully expected a lounge-type atmosphere when I read the restaurant’s description many months ago, but this is not what Enzo’s delivers; instead, the tile and wood, brick and stone décor with minimal lighting from beautiful chandeliers above reads as an attempt at upscale hipster reclamation modern. You first enter the restaurant through a “hidden” door underneath the dome with flashing neon signs stating “Enzo’s Hideaway”, so, you know, not so hidden, but a fun concept, no less. The check-in area is small and strangely shaped, but hopefully you won’t spend much time in there before being led through the “tunnels” to the main dining area. Carved out of the tunnels, with requisite containers of rum left behind for theming, booths, tables and a nicely appointed bar and open kitchen area fill the rather dark and intimate main dining room. Practically speaking, it looks a lot like a slightly-better-appointed and brighter version of Epcot’s Tutto Gusto wine bar.

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Pizza Ponte: Quick-Service Slices for Diners on the Go

by on January 24, 2018

Pizza PonteRight next door to the newly opened Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante, diners are discovering a new pizza hot spot sure to be popular in Disney Springs. Pizza Ponte recently opened, serving up several varieties of pizza by the slice, sandwiches, and specialty desserts. This adds another new option for quick food on-the-go. I dropped in to put the pizza to the test and see where it measures up compared to some of my pizza favorites around Walt Disney World.

A few of the basics, first: like your local pizza-by-the-slice joint, toppings aren’t customizable at Pizza Ponte (head to Blaze across Disney Springs for that). Slices run $7 each, which sounds a bit high, but a single slice is definitely big enough for a meal for one (or two little ones). Sandwiches, similarly appropriate in size, run around $9 each, and desserts are available for $3-7. Specialty Italian sodas, standard soft drinks, and several specialty coffee options fill out the rest of the menu. Disney Dining Plans are not currently accepted, but there are Annual Passholder, DVC, and even Tables in Wonderland discounts.

No matter the time of day, it’s likely you’ll encounter a line at Pizza Ponte. Don’t be scared away, though – in my experience, the line really moves quickly, and the pizza was worth the wait. My choices for my first visit were the forest mushroom (a white pizza) and pepperoni. Served on paper plates, the slices slice were so large that they nearly flopped over the sides of their plates.

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Star Wars Secrets of the Empire: A Virtual Reality Experience at Disney Springs

by on January 22, 2018

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away … No, wait, it was last weekend in a storefront at Disney Springs, but it most certainly felt like Star Wars. Yes, really.

There’s a new experience at Disney Springs called Star Wars Secrets of the Empire, located in the Marketplace section, between the entrance to Once Upon a Toy and the new location of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. The storefront is unassuming, you might pass by if you weren’t looking for it. There’s not any overt Star Wars theming on the building exterior, just stylized sign reading “The Void” (the experience parent company). I arrived during the late afternoon with my 18-year-old twin daughters Josie and Louisa and their friend Emily. We didn’t know much about what to expect, other than it was something different to do at Walt Disney World.

As it turns out, walking up to the storefront at 4:30 p.m. was not the way to go; we were immediately turned away because the experience was fully booked. If there is availability, walkups are accepted, but this primarily happens in the morning on weekdays. The friendly staff on site recommended that we make a reservation for a time to come back during an open slot. We did this via the website thevoid.com and found an opening a few hours later. I did this on my phone and a couple of clicks later we had a reservation. After some shopping and a yummy Art Smith’s Homecomin’ chicken dinner, we were back and ready to represent the rebellion.

Check-in at touch screens.

Arriving again, we were asked for the QR code on our reservation confirmation email. I pulled this up on my phone and was directed to hold it near a scanner at the back of an iPad-like touchscreen device in the lobby. A few seconds later, each member of our party had to use the touchscreen to input basic info (name, age, email address) and “sign” a waiver. When this was all completed, an attached printer spit out custom QR code wristbands for each member of our group.

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Maria & Enzo’s Takes Flight with Fine Fare

by on January 19, 2018

Maria & Enzo's RistoranteWithin the last few weeks, several new Italian eateries have opened their doors at Disney Springs; among them, Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante, a table service location situated in The Landing, just adjacent to The Edison and Aerophile (formerly Characters in Flight). The restaurant’s story claims that it’s run by Maria and Enzo, and occupies an abandoned airport terminal from the 1930s, lending theme to the various retro travel posters adorning the walls of the massive main dining room. Every guest gets a dramatic entrance here, with a large sweeping staircase leading down from the lobby and check-in area of the restaurant to the central dining area (and adjacent “private” dining room, with a few tables tucked away in a quiet corner).

Atmosphere

The main dining room of Maria & Enzo'sVisually, the restaurant is colorful and striking – almost too much so, reminiscent at times of the old Wolfgang Puck dining room. The atmosphere is loud, with the open ceilings echoing the comings and goings of the many diners all around. Daylight floods the back of the dining room, full of windows, which offers guests a great view of the Aerophile balloon rising and falling periodically. Overall, it’s a welcoming space for families, but not terribly intimate.

The menu is enormous (both literally and figuratively), populated largely with an extensive wine and cocktail list highlighting Italian specialties like various red wine varietals, sangrias, and an entire section of negronis (a step up from most Disney cocktail offerings). For food, expect to find moderate to upscale Italian staples, not dissimilar from the pasta and entrée menus at Via Napoli or Tutto Italia, priced similarly to Tutto Italia (read: on the higher end of the “acceptable” price range for Italian food).

Appetizers

Bread serviceTo start off our meal, our server brought over the obligatory bread and olive oil service, which was fine, but nothing you wouldn’t find at your local Italian chain eatery. We settled on two appetizers, both recommended by our server, the Arancini di Carne (meat ragu stuffed risotto balls, $14) and the Caciocavallo Fritto (fried Sicilian cheese with spicy Pomodoro sauce, $13). Both arrived in short order, and we were off to the races.

I’m a big fan of the arancini available at Via Napoli, so I had high hopes for these, but ultimately, they disappointed a tad bit. For $14, you receive two golf-ball sized arancini (a small portion, in my opinion, for the price), and while the fry on the exterior was perfectly crisp, the interior was a bit too gummy for my taste, and completely lacking in the promised meat ragu filling. There couldn’t have been more than one piece of ground meat in each arancini, unfortunately. Flavor-wise, they felt a little one note, but the spicy Pomodoro sauce really Caciocavallo Fritta and Arancini di Carnemade for a great accompaniment, lending an acidic and spicy punch to the party without overwhelming the rich and cheesy risotto.

The Caciocavallo Fritto sounds a lot like fried mozzarella on paper, but fair warning, this Sicilian cheese has a completely different flavor and texture than what you would expect. Six small balls, each also perfectly fried, come in one order (again, a bit small for $13, based on my expectations). The cheese inside is tangy and sharp, akin almost to an aged provolone in flavor, but the texture is less stretchy than you’d expect, and more custard-like. The flavor was a surprise, intriguing and new for me, and I enjoyed the few bites I had, but I really did wish for a few more balls to complete the plate.

Pugliese saladSeveral fresh salads also feature on the menu, so I wanted to give one a try to see whether their $12-14 price tags were justified. Ultimately, I decided on the Pugliese, composed of a handful of frisee, tiny bits of crisp pancetta, caciotta cheese, a soft poached egg, and dressed in mustard-white balsamic dressing. This salad is relatively decently sized, slightly larger than a typical side salad, but a bit smaller than what I’d expect from an appetizer (a trend, it seems). Well-dressed and seasoned, the caciotta cheese was really the star of the plate (aside from the oozing poached egg, of course), flavored similarly to the caciocavallo and punchy enough to stand on its own against the zippy dressing. Overall, I’d order this salad again, with only a bit of hesitation because of the price.

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The #RockTheDots Event is Back at Walt Disney World and Disneyland

by on January 18, 2018

©Disney

Last year, Guests were able to experience the very first #RockTheDots event, where the resorts celebrated everything Minnie and polka dots! This year, the event is back once again, on January 21, the day prior to National Polka Dot Day (because there is a day for literally everything).  During the #RockTheDots event, Guests will be invited to participate in a variety of fun offerings to celebrate. Guests looking to celebrate should visit Disney Springs in Walt Disney World or Downtown Disney in Disneyland dressed in their polka-dotted attire.

Guests who visit should first stop and pick up a commemorative button. At Disney Springs, the button can be found at World of Disney, Tren-D, and the Welcome Center while supplies last. At Downtown Disney District, they are at

At Walt Disney World, Guests will be able to take advantage of special retail discounts or Minnie-themed items from January 18-22 at the following locations:

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World of Disney at Walt Disney World and at Disneyland to See Updates

by on January 10, 2018

World of Disney

©Disney

Do you love shopping at World of Disney as much as I do? The large Disney-centric stores which are found in both Disney Springs at Walt Disney World and at Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort offer tons of souvenirs and I almost always end up taking something home when I visit. But soon, both of these locations will be receiving some love beginning mid-February 2018.

Work on the stores will be done in phases and the stores on both coasts will remain open during construction. When work on the interior is done, Guests will a dynamic and distinctly Disney retail environment.

A few shops will offer select merchandise while construction takes place. In Town Center at Disney Springs, Ever After Jewelry Co. and The Disney Corner, which opens in mid-February, will carry select merchandise while World of Disney undergoes renovations.

Over at Disneyland, at the Downtown Disney District, Guests can find some items in the recently opened Dream Boutique, as well as the Disney Home store which is opening in February in the former D-Street location.

I’m excited to share more details about what we Guests can experience once the refurbishment work is completed, so make sure to stay tuned to the blog for more!

New Restaurants Now Open at Disney Springs

by on January 10, 2018

It’s official! Three new restaurants have made their debut at Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs! Maria & Enzo’s, Pizza Ponte, and The Edison all officially debuted this past weekend. (The remaining dining establishment in this complex, Enzo’s Hideaway, has not yet opened.)

©Rikki Niblett

 

While The Edison had their official grand opening on New Year’s Eve with a fun party, the restaurant didn’t officially open to Guests until this past weekend. The feel of the restaurant is definitely an industrial one. Steampunk design fills the table service location. Guests should be comfortable coming here for a meal, or even enjoying a drink, as there are wonderful couches and chairs scattered throughout. 

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Reservations Now Open for The Edison at Disney Springs

by on January 3, 2018

©Rikki Niblett

Are you anxious to finally try The Edison in The Landing at Disney Springs? Well, you can now make reservations for the restaurant for dates beginning January 15. Reservations can be made by visiting The Edison’s website or by visiting OpenTable.  The restaurant recently held a New Year’s Eve Grand Opening Gala.

The Edison, for those who don’t know, combines great food, cocktails and world-class entertainment. The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner and will feature a menu of American fare, with a selection of sandwiches, salads and entrees; plus a focus on artfully crafted cocktails.

The story behind the restaurant is that it is set in a 1920s-period power plant, recalling the era of innovation and imagination. During the day, The Edison will be a family restaurant, however after 10:00 p.m., it will transform into a 21-and-over nightclub. Guests arriving after 10:00 p.m. must wear venue-appropriate attire. Men may wear slacks, jeans or dress shorts. Jackets are optional. No ball caps, sleeveless shirts or flip-flops will be allowed. There will be a cover charge of $10 after 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.

The main room will feature a dance floor and stage, where each night the venue will feature an eclectic lineup of live entertainment including musicians, aerialists, dancers and more. There will actually be multiple themed areas for guests to explore. They include The Ember Parlour, Telegraph Lounge, The Patent Office, The Radio Room, The Tesla Lounge, The Lab performance space, and a Waterfront Patio.

The Edison in Disney Springs is inspired by its sister location that’s found in Los Angeles.

Five Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World in 2018

by on January 1, 2018

As workplace calendars take shape for 2018, attention turns to vacation destinations. For the Walt Disney World addicts among us, it’s not a question of whether we’ll go, but when and for how long. Others may need additional incentives to choose theme parks over the beach or big city.

For those of you with the challenge of convincing your significant other to spend their valuable vacation time armed with MagicBands and Touring Plans, we’ve got you covered. Read on for five reasons you can use to argue that 2018 is the year to visit Disney.

Let’s see Andy’s backyard

New lands don’t come around every year, but for the second straight summer, Walt Disney World will take down the construction walls and invite visitors to a new theme park land.

While not as impressive in scope as Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the new Toy Story Land will bring kid-friendly attractions to a park that badly needs them, Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disney announced an opening of summer 2018 for the land. If it follows the same pattern as Pandora, that would mean soft openings in May.

Two new attractions and a quick-service dining location will be added with the opening of Toy Story Land.

The land, which will include the existing Toy Story Midway Mania! attraction, will be modeled to look like Andy’s back yard. Visitors shrink down to toy size in their surroundings. The two new attractions, the Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster and Alien Swirling Saucers, should be kid-friendly, but with enough clever theming to appeal to everyone.

Add a quick-service dining location, Woody’s Lunch Box, and you have enough to bring visitors back to Hollywood Studios, even as a large portion of the park continues to be blocked off by construction walls (more on that later).

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Cirque du Soleil’s New Show in Development for Disney Springs

by on December 19, 2017

When the clock strikes midnight on December 31, it won’t just be the end of 2017; it will also be the end of an era as Cirque du Soleil La Nouba will see its last performance. La Nouba was performed for 20 years at the Walt Disney World Resort, but, we fans don’t have to say goodbye to a Cirque show at Disney Springs. A brand new, original show is currently being created by Cirque du Soleil and this new show will pay homage to Disney’s rich history of animation, of course, told in a way only Cirque du Soleil can do.

Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, said, “We are incredibly inspired by Disney’s immense creative universe. We are convinced that bringing Disney’s magic to life on stage will touch audiences and bring them back to their childhood.”

This new show doesn’t have an official opening date yet, but stay tuned to the blog for further details about this upcoming new spectacular coming to the West Side in Disney Springs.