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“it’s a small world” Holiday at Disneyland Park

Trattoria al Forno Opens Today at Disney’s BoardWalk

posted on December 18th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


It’s opening day for the newest Walt Disney World Resort restaurant, and we’ve got Vinnie Tai, area manager, to walk us through Trattoria al Forno on Disney’s BoardWalk.

With four distinct dining areas, authentic Italian cuisine and top-notch Italian wines, the Trattoria al Forno story was inspired by the authentic Italian menu and the rich storytelling of the turn-of-the-century boardwalk setting.

Trattoria al Forno Brings the Italian Countryside to Disney's BoardWalk

Trattoria al Forno will be open 7:30 – 11 a.m. for breakfast, 5 – 10 p.m. for dinner, and accepts the Disney Dining Plan. For reservations, visit www.disneyworld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.


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Disney Characters Stay for Dinner at Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on December 17th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


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Tusker House Restaurant in Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been a popular spot for breakfast or lunch with favorite Disney characters, and starting March 8, 2015 the lovable bunch is staying on for dinner.

Donald Duck Dressed in his Safari Best at Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Donald Duck Dressed in his Safari Best at Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Guests will find Donald Duck dressed in his safari best, and other favorite Disney pals Daisy Duck, and Goofy at the restaurant daily, with a lively celebration about once every hour. As you dine, Disney characters visit your table for laughs, photos and autographs.

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This is one of our favorite Disney buffets with the flavors of Africa offered along with all-American tastes. At breakfast, for instance, you can have bacon and eggs, waffles, cereal, fresh fruit and pastries – but also try beef bobotie (spiced minced meat with egg) or fruit chutneys.

Lunch and dinner offer an abundance of savory and sweet tastes, such as spit-roasted chicken, carved beef and Kenyan coffee BBQ pork loin; sides like vegetable samosas, curried rice, tandoori tofu and saffron-infused veggies; classic African tastes such as peri peri salmon, curry chicken and tamarind seafood stew, and pita and lavosh breads. Add chutneys, hummus and tabouli – so many interesting flavors to try. (Youngsters get their own buffet with corn dog nuggets, mac ‘n cheese, mashed potatoes and assorted meats and cheeses.)

And save room for the warm banana-cinnamon bread pudding with vanilla sauce (even at breakfast), chocolate fudge volcano cake, cherry-apple cobbler or a bite of passion fruit tart. Breakfast is 8 a.m. – 10:55 a.m.; lunch, 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and dinner starts at 4 p.m. Cost is $29.99, $16.99 ages 3 to 9 for breakfast, $34.99 and $17.99 for lunch and $41.99 and $19.99 for dinner.

For reservations, call 407-WDW-DINE or visit disneyworld.com/dine.

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Special Dishes, Where to Find Bubbly for New Year’s Eve at Disneyland Resort

posted on December 16th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


So fun to ring in the New Year at the Disneyland Resort, and the culinary teams have added a few goodies to celebrate in ways grand and small.

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In Disneyland park, you can go for the gusto with a pan-seared New York strip loin a la Oscar with Dungeness crab, classic Béarnaise and a chive-café au lait sauce from Blue Bayou Restaurant. Another delicious steak is on the menu at Carnation Café: sirloin with skewered shrimp, mashed potatoes, fresh broccoli, sun-dried tomato butter and a rich herb beurre blanc (French butter sauce). Round out the beef ideas with a simple flat iron steak served with garlic mashed potatoes, butternut squash and green beans at Café Orleans.

At the French Market Restaurant, a generous roasted pork chop is flavored with Calvados applesauce, braised greens and sweet potato soufflé.

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If you’re on the run, try the Jambalaya Skewer at Bengal Barbecue. Café Orleans is serving a rich pecan praline Yule Log. Or go for the old-fashioned chocolate funnel cake with peppermint at Stage Door Café, if you simply want dessert.

Disney California Adventure park has two New Year’s Eve specialties: herb-roasted rack of lamb with potato rosti, fresh veggies and Zinfandel jus at Ariel’s Grotto Restaurant, and a simple New York strip steak with mashed potatoes and fresh veggies at Wine Country Trattoria. You also can sip a mulled wine at Alfresco Tasting Terrace – rich and warm with berry tones, hints of orange and aromatic seasoning spices (no to-go cups for this one). And if you’re looking for sparkling wine to ring in the New Year at Disney California Adventure park, you’ll find it at Wine Country Trattoria, Mendocino Terrace and Alfresco Tasting Terrace.

If you forego the theme parks and are looking for hotel dining, Storytellers Cafe has a hefty rib-eye with garlic roasted potatoes and fresh veggies on their New Year’s Eve menu. End with their chocolate crème brûlée – who says you can’t ring in 2015 with chocolate?

For reservations, visit disneyland.com/dine or call 714-781-3463.

Happy New Year!

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In True Disney Fashion, the Story of Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk

posted on December 9th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Opening Dec. 18, Trattoria al Forno is the newest Disney dining experience, and together Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney Parks Food & Beverage Concept Development have crafted a backstory that builds upon the Disney legacy of storytelling and originality. Trattoria al Forno has been a creative collaboration bringing story elements such as authentic food and ingredients, a wine list featuring 100% Italian wines, and décor together to create an exciting new dining experience for Walt Disney World Resort guests.

“The Trattoria al Forno story was inspired by the authentic Italian menu and the rich storytelling of the turn-of-the-century boardwalk setting, says Missy Renard, Walt Disney Imagineering resorts art director. “Working closely with the Food & Beverage Concept Development team throughout the project was critical to the seamless merging of the story, menu and design – it was a shared vision.”

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The story begins with an Italian family that ran a modest tavern and boarding house on the boardwalk, which expanded over the years into a popular restaurant. The menu’s mix of authentic and innovative dishes supports the story of the restaurant being handed down, with each generation adding their own touches to the meals and the restaurant’s design. The color palette throughout is inspired by the fresh ingredients used to make the flavorful dishes.

The new restaurant is arranged as a series of separate rooms, starting with the original Entrata, or entrance, where the story begins. An arched brick wall with an aged keystone medallion anchors the room and introduces the traditional building materials used throughout the restaurant. Along the back wall, a custom wine cabinet displays authentic regional wines offered on the menu. Vintage family photos line the walls and introduce the generational story.

“As the restaurant was growing, boardinghouse rooms were converted into additional dining spaces,” explains Renard. “There are four distinct dining rooms, with furnishings, finishes and lighting relating to the character of each original boarding house room.” The first room, the Cucina, is designed as the eat-in kitchen for the boarding house guests. The forno, or oven, with its rustic wood mantle and copper hood, is the centerpiece. Next is the Sala da Pranzo, the formal dining room, which showcases the family’s fine silver, glassware and eclectic china in a grand hutch, with two crystal chandeliers above in the vaulted ceiling. “The finishes are more opulent – carpet, draperies, settee-style seating and a communal table in front of the show kitchen,” says Renard.

The Sala da Pranzo leads into Salotto, or living room, of the old boarding house, now a dining area with tufted circular booths and upholstered chairs, and photos of vintage Italian market scenes decorating the walls. Finally, the Taverna is a secluded dining area located in the structure’s original tavern, where the mirrored back bar still hangs in front of exposed brick walls.

“The three main dining rooms are open to the show kitchen and to each other, but the styling differences in each create individual dining experiences,” says Renard. “The result is combination of intimate and lively dining spaces with a tailored progression of storytelling.”

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Fantastic New Home for Disney Food Trucks: Exposition Park at Downtown Disney West Side

posted on December 5th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Check out these photos of the new Exposition Park at Downtown Disney West Side, the permanent home of the four Disney-owned food trucks.

Disney Food Trucks: Exposition Park at Downtown Disney West Side Disney Food Trucks: Exposition Park at Downtown Disney West Side

“Guests can always find one or more of the Disney food trucks at this location, with visiting local food trucks joining the fun from time to time” says Darcy Clark, Downtown Disney marketing manager. “With nightly entertainment and extra seating, this West Side location is sure to become a favorite.”

The four Disney food trucks, along with the ESPN food truck, may be there – Namaste Café with flavors from Disney’s Animal Kingdom (think butter chicken and Tandoori spiced shrimp); Superstar Catering with favorites from Disney’s Hollywood Studios like a Margarita Flatbread; Fantasy Fare with Magic Kingdom Park goodies like the corn dog, and World Showcase of Flavors with Epcot tastes from grass-fed beef sliders to Pierogies.

You’ll find Exposition Park between Bongo’s Cuban Café and Starbucks – an expansive grassy area that take advantage of the pretty waterfront. Hours may vary during peak times and special events

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Think Outside the Box for New Year’s Eve Celebrating at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 4th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Early birds are already making their New Year’s Eve plans, and reservations go fast for many Walt Disney World Resort restaurants. But we’ve got some offbeat ideas for ringing in 2015 that don’t require a reservation (except for one).

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If you’re at Epcot, you can still make a reservation for early dining at lovely Monsieur Paul upstairs in the France Pavilion (one of our top spots for fine dining). It’s a treat to lunch at Monsieur Paul, as it’s usually just open for dinner: there are still seats available at 11:45 a.m., noon, 2:15 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. This gracious experience ($85 per person plus tax and gratuity), starts with Cassolette d ’escargots Cauderanaise (escargot cassolette with white wine, bacon, shallots); a salad with Roquefort cheese, pear and caramelized pecans, or mussels soup with saffron and light fennel cream. Entrées include chicken with morels mushrooms and white sauce; broiled Maine lobster casserole, or beef short ribs braised in red wine with Parisian gnocchi with herbs. The sweet ending is a delectable French dessert.

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If you can’t snag a reservation, another favorite is Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in the Italy Pavilion, a cozy spot to sip Bellinis or martinis, or choose from a solid wine list. Small plates include pastas, Tuscan-style pork ribs, paninis, charcuterie and imported cheeses. La Cava Del Tequila in the Mexico Pavilion doesn’t take reservations either – try a flight of tequilas (more than 100 to choose from) and pair with chips and guacamole or a shrimp cocktail for a light bite.

If you prefer to watch Magic Kingdom Park fireworks from afar, grab a seat in the lounge at Cítricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. The expansive wine and cocktail list pairs nicely with small bites from the kitchen like arancini (crispy risotto with sweet Italian sausage and mozzarella), Prince Edward Island mussels or slow-roasted Berkshire pork belly.

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You can also see Magic Kingdom Park fireworks from Disney’s Contemporary Resort where The Wave . . . of American Flavors lounge (ages 21 and older) offers signature cocktails, beer and wine along with seasonal tastes such as steamed Florida Cedar Key clams, lump crab, Florida rock shrimp cakes and a sustainable fish taco.

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At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge offers prime outdoor seating with wine, beer and cocktails and a substantial menu – yes, you can get the famous Cobb Salad as well as Wagyu beef sliders, artisinal cheeses and charcuterie and Maine mussels (we love the desserts too, like the warm blueberry cobbler with crème fraîche and orange blossom honey).

Another tucked-away spot that’s got a view of Epcot fireworks from along the BoardWalk at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is casual Crew’s Cup Lounge – beer fans highly recommend the Sam Adams beer flight, but there’s a bounteous selection of other brews, cocktails and wine. The menu runs the gamut from a New England-style lobster roll to pappardelle pasta with braised short ribs.

And if fireworks aren’t an important part of your year-end celebration, for a lovely spot head to Victoria Falls Lounge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, where you can sip a Coconut Elixir (non-alcoholic), a truffle olive martini or a fabulous South African wine while listening to live music. The menu is one of our lounge favorites: tandoori-spiced chicken wings, peri peri scallops, pork wings, crispy chick pea bites and artisanal cheeses. For guests looking for a heartier meal, Boma Flavors of Africa still has reservations available on New Year’s Eve.

Wishing you a happy, healthy 2015!

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Filed: Disney Dining, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Hotels & Resorts, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Classic Italian Sweet Endings at Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk

posted on December 2nd, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


We’re counting down the days until the December 18 opening of Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk at Walt Disney World Resort, where the chefs are busy in the kitchen creating delectable Italian dishes like this classic tiramisù with the familiar flavor of coffee and rich mascarpone cream.

It’s just one of the memorable desserts in the line-up. Go for simple gelato, or the hot bomboloni (donut) with dark chocolate and vanilla gelato. A clever spin on cannoli uses pizzelle cookies filled with chocolate and pistachio cream. For old-fashioned goodness, try the hazelnut-chocolate cake with oranges and whipped cream. And, yes, there’s a no-sugar-added, gluten-free sweet ending: lemon panna cotta with almond crunch and berries (one of our favorites).

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Tiramisù may look complicated, but it’s relatively easy to create a dessert that will make you look like a pro.

Trattoria al Forno will be open 7:30-11 a.m. for breakfast, 5-10 p.m. for dinner, and accepts the Disney Dining Plan. For reservations, call 407-WDW-DINE or www.disneyworld.com/dine.

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Tiramisù

Serves 6

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 (8-ounce) containers mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups espresso or strong coffee, divided
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup amaretto, divided
  • 20 to 25 packaged ladyfingers
  • Cocoa powder, for dusting
  1. Combine egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at medium-high speed 2 to 3 minutes until light yellow; add mascarpone, 1 tablespoon espresso, and 2 tablespoons amaretto, whisking until very smooth.
  2. Combine egg whites and 1/2 cup sugar in a separate large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into mascarpone mixture.
  3. Combine remaining espresso, amaretto, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow bowl.
  4. Quickly dip each ladyfinger into espresso mixture and create a single layer along the bottom of a 13×9-inch dish.
  5. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers, then create a second layer of soaked ladyfingers. Top with remaining mascarpone mixture. Dust liberally with cocoa powder.
  6. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least for 3 hours and up to 8 hours before serving.
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Over-the-Top Gingerbread Creations Wow Walt Disney World Resort Guests

posted on December 1st, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


How about an amazing gingerbread ice castle inspired by the blockbuster movie “Frozen,” or a life-size replica of a Jersey Shore concession stand stocked with holiday goodies?

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These are just two of the spectacular, all-new gingerbread designs that Walt Disney World Resort pastry chefs have spent months planning and weeks meticulously building. While the finished creations may look easy as pie, cobbling together a life-size masterpiece in gingerbread takes a lot of skillful hands.

You can see the displays through the first week of January, 2015.

Fast facts:

  • The all-new “Frozen” gingerbread ice castle at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is adorned with sugar snowflakes, gingerbread shingles and chocolate-coated trees – Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven are decorated with sugar, chocolate and candy. In all, 423 pounds of chocolate and 311 pounds of honey went into the creation. While you can’t eat the house, there’s a special blue raspberry cake “Frozen” gelato, plus gingerbread and sugar cookies, snowflake ornaments, linzer and the popular chocolate-peppermint cookies. Take home a build-your-own snowman kit.
  • Also all new is a life-size replica of a Jersey Shore Boardwalk concession stand serving holiday treats – ice cream cones, gingerbread houses and cookies and stollen bread. Sweet wreaths and Mickey- and Minnie-shaped gingerbreads decorate the stand that’s made of 674 gingerbread shingles, with a huge ice cream cone on top – and the marquee features 420 marshmallows! You can even make your own gingerbread house with kits for sale.
  • The life-size gingerbread house celebrates 16 years at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – the pastry chefs use the same building plans to re-create a fresh masterpiece each year, using a classic gingerbread recipe from Austria (they estimate 400 hours of baking). The house stands 16 feet high and features 40 window panes, made with a whopping 1,050 pounds of honey, 700 pounds of chocolate, 600 pounds of confectioner’s sugar, 35 pounds of spices, 800 pounds of flour, 140 pints of egg whites and 180 pounds of apricot glaze – more than 10,000 pieces of gingerbread make up the house. Gingerbread house decorating demos are featured daily except Sundays, and this is the place to buy gingerbread cookies, stollen, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate-peppermint bark (divine), gingerbread ornaments, mini-gingerbread houses and other goodies.
  • Head over to Disney’s Beach Club Resort and check out the 14th annual Holiday Carousel, a life-size, spinning carousel with ponies made of chocolate and fondant, handcrafted poinsettia and gingerbread snowflakes – look for 14 hidden Mickeys, one for each year! The chefs used 36 pounds of honey, 96 pounds of bread flour, 100 pounds of icing and 50 pounds of dark chocolate to create the extravaganza that also features a miniature Magic Kingdom Park Castle made of gingerbread. Sweets for sale include mini-gingerbread houses, cookies, gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese icing, stollen and gingerbread kits. While you’re there, look for a new winter wonderland gingerbread scene in Fittings and Fairings, as well as a chocolate Maleficent at the Beach Club Marketplace.
  • Next door at Disney’s Yacht Club, an adorable holiday village with miniature train adorns the lobby, surrounded with sugar rock mountains.
  • At Epcot on the Promenade at American Adventure in World Showcase, Mrs. Claus’ Bake Shop is offering freshly baked gingerbread, sugar and chocolate cookies, peppermint bark, hot cocoa and ciders (perfect for Epcot Candlelight Processional snacks). Inside, you’ll find a gingerbread version of the Capitol building of the United States.
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Learn More About The Talented Hong Kong Disneyland Chefs

posted on November 26th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Since 1955, Disney Parks and Resorts have been places where guests can create memorable experiences with their friends and families. Immersive dining experiences have become an integral part of the storytelling and guest experience. Disney chefs across the world create meals for guests with careful attention to detail. The talented chefs at Hong Kong Disneyland have recently proven themselves to be international culinary leaders.

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The wide range of dishes prepared by Hong Kong Disneyland chefs showcase their diverse culinary talents. They are able to cook delicious American meals, South Asian cuisine and even Halal-certified and vegetarian options. The chefs at the award-winning Crystal Lotus restaurant in the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel can even create dishes from four major culinary regions of China: Sichuan, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong.

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The chefs at Hong Kong Disneyland have boosted the resort’s reputation for its culinary excellence. A team of chefs led by Hong Kong Disneyland won the world-renowned Salon Culinaire Mondial last year. This western cuisine competition is held every six years in Basel, Switzerland and measures culinary art at the topmost level. Also, two young chefs from Hong Kong Disneyland won the 2013 International Young Chef Challenge in Korea.

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Not only do these chefs cook excellent meals at the park, they use their time and culinary talent to serve people in the community. Through a partnership with Hong Kong’s leading hunger relief charity, Foodlink, the Hong Kong Disneyland chefs donate surplus food to those in need. Since the program began in December 2013, Hong Kong Disneyland has collected more than 11 tons of safe-to-eat excess food from its hotel and restaurants. Chefs volunteer their personal time and use surplus ingredients to make delicious meals which are then delivered to underserved children and families in nearby communities in Hong Kong each week.

We are thrilled to have such talented chefs at Hong Kong Disneyland!

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Disney Magic Creates Spectacular ‘Frozen’ Gingerbread Castle at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on November 17th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Take a look at this amazing time-lapse video of the all-new Gingerbread Holiday Ice Castle at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, inspired by Disney’s blockbuster film, “Frozen.”

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Soaring in the resort’s Grand Canyon Concourse, the 17-foot-tall masterpiece is visible from the monorail as guests head to and from Magic Kingdom Park. While it took months to bake all the sweet components, pastry chefs spent five days building the Holiday Ice Castle that’s also inspired by Mary Blair’sit’s a small world.”

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Adorned with sugar snowflakes, gingerbread shingles and chocolate-coated trees, look for Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and his sidekick Sven created with sugar, chocolate and an assortment of candy. All in all, the pastry chefs whipped up 311 pounds of honey, 514 pounds of flour, 212 eggs, 67 pounds of spices, 222 pounds of icing and 423 pounds of chocolate. The Ice Castle has more than 1,500 gingerbread shingles!

Can you find Olaf? He’s hidden 14 places in the display.

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