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90 Days of Delicious Tastes for 2016 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on February 1st, 2016 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Two new Outdoor Kitchens join the line-up for this year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, upping the deliciousness at the 23rd annual fest that will span a record 90 days from March 2-May. 30.

Outdoor Kitchens at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

La Isla Fresca and Cider House are the two new Outdoor Kitchens, and we got a sneak peek of dishes from each at a recent tasting with the Epcot culinary team. La Isla Fresca takes guests to the Caribbean for authentic bites such as Jamaican braised beef with pigeon peas and rice; spicy jerk chicken or grouper with mango salsa and a Tres Leches cake with guava puree (the traditional meringue is replaced with whipped cream in this version). Pair either of the savories with a Red Stripe Jamaican-style lager, or frozen Simply Tropical juice drink (with or without rum).

The Cider House offers a spin on tastes from the United Kingdom, including a field greens salad with greens harvested from The Land Pavilion, heirloom apples, Stilton cheese and dried blueberries; and a pear cider-brined shredded corned beef, braised cabbage and pears with Branston (a British food brand) dressing. The Cider House will offer four hard ciders, including a blueberry ciders made in Plant City, Fla., plus Cigar City Tampa-Style Lager.

Urban Farm EATS Outdoor Kitchen at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

The 11 other Outdoor Kitchens include Urban Farm Eats (new seared pork tenderloin), Pineapple Promenade , Fleur de Lys, Florida Fresh, Taste of Marrakesh, Hanami, THE SMOKEHOUSE: Barbecue and Brews (the pulled pig slider gets crispy onions on top), Primavera Kitchen, Lotus House, Bauernmarkt (German currywurst sausage is new this year) and Jardin de Fiestas. Such diversity of tastes!

You’ll be wowed by the colorful extravaganza put on by the Disney horticulture team – whimsical topiaries (yes, Elsa and Anna will be there), 220 “floating gardens” in the lagoon and a new edible flower garden next to The Land Pavilion. It’s all beautiful at night, with twinkling lights shining across the gardens.

Food lovers, mark your calendar for April 29-May 1, when Florida Fresh Weekend features the state’s edible bounty from Apalachicola to Zellwood.

For more information about the 23rd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639). Watch for details at epcotinspring.com. The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.

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Nine Dragons Restaurant in China Pavilion at Epcot Celebrates ‘Year of the Monkey’ Beginning Feb. 8

posted on January 25th, 2016 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Nine Dragons Restaurant in the China Pavilion at Epcot has been a longtime favorite, maybe because we’ve had the privilege of meeting the talented Asian chefs in the kitchen who create authentic Chinese dishes. Yes, they cater to Americanized tastes with favorites such as Kung Pao chicken and sweet-and-sour pork, but it’s also the place where you can enjoy braised pork belly steamed buns, shrimp and taro lollipops and Shanghai xiaolongbao, the ultimate steamed pork soup dumplings.

In celebration of the Chinese “Year of the Monkey,” Nine Dragons is offering some special menu items and a new prix fixe lunch menu.

The lunch special (3 courses for $17.98) starts with spring rolls or pot stickers. There is a choice of three entrees: Happily Family, with sliced chicken breast, beef and shrimp stir fry; Moo Goo Gai Pan with stir-fried chicken breast, mushrooms and snow peas; and General Tso’s Chicken Buns Lunch Box with three steamed buns and hot-and-sour soup. Dessert is strawberry-red bean ice cream or ginger-caramel ice cream.

Another addition to the menu, just for Year of the Monkey are three steamed buns: braised pork belly served with chili aioli; sweet-and-sour, batter-fried fish buns topped with pork floss; and General Tso’s Chicken buns with batter-fried chicken breast. (Pork floss is dry, fluffy shredded pork seasoned with soy sauce and sugar.) Add a cold Tsingtao beer for a real treat.

The menu specials run through January 27, 2017, so you have plenty of time, with the restaurant open daily for lunch and dinner (Disney Dining Plan accepted). Passholder, Disney Vacation Club, Tables in Wonderland and Golden Oak discounts are accepted (to celebrate the Chinese New Year, all these discounts are 20% for the month of February). For reservations, visit Disneyworld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.

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If you’d like to try to make the steamed buns at home, here’s a recipe. Happy Year of the Monkey!

Sweet-and-Sour Fish on Steamed Buns
Makes 4

Sweet-and-Sour Sauce

  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Fish

  • 8-ounce fillet white fish, such as cod, snapper or grouper
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • Pinch ground white pepper
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus additional for frying
  • 4 prepared bao buns (folded Chinese-style steamed buns–see Cook’s Note below)

Garnish

  • Thinly sliced onion, carrot, and lettuce
  • Pork Floss (see Cook’s Note below)

For sweet-and-sour sauce:

  1. Combine water, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, vinegar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Combine cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water, stirring until dissolved. Stir cornstarch mixture into sauce, stirring constantly. Simmer, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.

For fish:

  1. Pat fish dry and cut into four equal-size pieces.
  2. Season fish with salt and white pepper. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Whisk together water and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Add water mixture to flour mixture, whisking just until no lumps remain.
  4. Pour vegetable oil into a deep pan to a depth of at least two inches. Heat oil to 350°F.
  5. Dip seasoned fish into prepared batter. Shake off excess. Drop gently into oil. Fry 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown.
  6. Transfer cooked fish to a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.
  7. Reheat steamed buns by placing in a steamer basket over simmering water 4 to 5 minutes.
  8. On a plate, assemble bun by inserting a slice of fried fish between a bun, ladle sweet and sour sauce over fried fish, and place garnish over sauce. Sprinkle with pork floss (optional). Serve immediately.

Cook’s note: Bao buns are available in the refrigerated or freezer section of Asian markets. Pork floss is a sweet and salty dried, shredded pork product available in most Asian markets.

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Valentine’s Day Weekend Yum at Disneyland Resort

posted on January 20th, 2016 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Just in time for Valentine’s Day weekend, February 12-14, Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disney California Adventure park has a new seasonal menu (and a Sweetheart Dinner for Two), and other Disneyland Resort restaurants are adding a little romance and lots of flavor to their menus.

Starting with Carthay Circle Restaurant, the Sweetheart Dinner for Two ($140 plus tax and gratuity) will be February 13 and 14 and include three courses: lobster and asparagus to start; Steak Florentine for two (Grilled Porterhouse of Chianti Beef) with sautéed Brussels sprouts, parsnips and bacon and roasted fingerling potatoes with Brie; and Chocolate Hearts for Two for dessert with chocolate espresso and white chocolate raspberry served tableside with warm chocolate sauce. What’s not to love?

Valentine’s Day Weekend Yum at Disneyland Resort Valentine’s Day Weekend Yum at Disneyland Resort Valentine’s Day Weekend Yum at Disneyland Resort

And if you can’t make it Valentine’s Day weekend, the restaurant’s seasonal menu includes gems on the lunch menu such as Winter Pozole with Tempura Fried Shrimp, Grilled Turkey Scaloppini, a Crispy Maple Leaf Duck Confit Salad and savory Moroccan Lamb Meatballs. The seasonal dinner menu has added Carthay Shellfish Cioppino, Artichoke Crepes, Braised Lamb Shank with Winter Bean Cassoulet and Angus Beef Delmonico with chipotle sweet potatoes.

Back to Valentine’s Day. Here’s a quick guide to goodies that are special on the menu:

Disneyland Park

  • Valentine’s Day cotton candy on the street carts, February 14 only.
  • Carnation Café is offering Surf and Turf with sirloin steak and a shrimp skewer with veggies (February 14).
  • Blue Bayou Restaurant has a Sweetheart Duet for February 14 with a bacon-wrapped filet mignon and halibut atop tomato croutons with sautéed baby spinach and roasted potatoes, served with a chardonnay dill and cognac peppercorn café au lait sauce. In addition, Blue Bayou Restaurant will offer a Sweetheart Toast which includes a souvenir champagne flute engraved with the Blue Bayou Restaurant logo, served with sparkling cider (cost is $11.95 per person).
  • Café Orleans is serving sautéed shrimp and Andouille sausage with zucchini and cherry tomatoes with linguine pasta in a cream shrimp fume (February 14).

Disney California Adventure Park, Along with Carthay Circle Restaurant (above)

  • Valentine’s Day cotton candy on the street carts, February 14 only.
  • Valentine Sundaes at Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream (February 12-14).
  • Teddy bear-shaped bread and heart-shaped bread at Mortimer’s Market, Pacific Wharf carts and Boudin Bread Cart (February 12-14). Pacific Wharf carts also will offer a valentine sugar cookie.
  • Wine Country Trattoria at Golden Vine Winery is serving a February 14 special that starts with an arugula salad, then a choice of lobster tail or surf ‘n turf with beef tenderloin and shrimp with veggies and, for dessert, ricotta cannoli with a berry compote. The winery’s Alfresco Tasting Terrace will have a dessert sampler on February 14 with a vanilla fruit tart, raspberry macaroon and tiramisu paired with a sparkling wine.

Hotels of the Disneyland Resort

  • Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel will offer a special three-course dinner paired with wines February 13-16. Start with shrimp and scallop cassoulet with fried artichoke and lobster cream; for the main course, broiled filet mignon with morel mushroom fettuccine and asparagus; and for dessert, raspberry-white chocolate crunch cake. (The same special is available in The Lounge at Steakhouse 55.)
  • On February 14, Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will showcase Chef Andrew Sutton’s Four-Course Country Valentine’s Day Dinner (available with a wine flight).
  • Next door on February 14, Storyteller’s Cafe will offer a bacon-wrapped filet mignon with a Cabernet reduction and lobster-sun-dried tomato risotto.
  • At Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel on February 14, PCH Grill’s tasting stations will include seafood saute station, carving station with beef, a wood-fired pizza station, mini-taco station and mac ‘n cheese bar. Other hot and cold stations offer everything from pan-seared chicken breast to heirloom tomatoes with mozzarella and a build-your-own salad. And special sweets just for your valentine.

For reservations, visit Disneyland.com/dine or call 714-781-DINE.

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What’s New in Walt Disney World Resort Dining: 16 for 2016

posted on January 7th, 2016 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


2015 was full of culinary news for Walt Disney World Resort, and 2016 promises to be equally exciting, especially at Disney Springs. From new restaurants to more fun with Disney characters, here’s a look ahead at 2016.

  1. Sunday brunches are the hot weekend ticket. Narcoossee’s Waterfront Brunch at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a new one, and Brunch at the Top debuts February 7 at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. For reservations, visit DisneyWorld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.

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  1. Get over to the new Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen in the Magic Kingdom Park and try a rice noodle bowl, sustainable local farm-raised shrimp in chili-garlic sauce, or the Kungaloosh!, an African-inspired chocolate cake with caramelized bananas with cashew-caramel ice cream. This is an all-new menu for the Disney chefs.
  2. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival expands to 90 days, March 2 to May 30 (from 75 days last year). Fresh garden produce, savory bites and sweet treats will be abundant at the festival’s Outdoor Kitchens, returning for a fourth year with guest favorites and new food and beverage offerings.

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  1. Tiffins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will celebrate the art of traveling, featuring foods from places that inspired the creation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Open for both lunch and dinner. (“Tiffin” is an Indian English word for a midday meal or a type of container used to carry food while traveling).
  2. Adjacent to Tiffins, Nomad Lounge will feature hand-crafted cocktails using the art of mixology with African, Asian and South American flavors, beers and wines from those regions, and a selection of specialty non-alcoholic beverages in addition to small bites.
  3. Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s BoardWalk will temporarily close the end of January, then reopen in the fall with a whole new look – and while the kitchen is working on new menu items, Chef Tim Keating promises that potato-wrapped snapper and the popular New York strip steak will be back. Stay tuned for details.

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  1. Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood & Vine at Disney’’s Hollywood Studios debuted in 2015, but guests can look forward to new themes coming in 2016, including Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine, Minnie’s Springtime Dine, Minnie’s Summertime Dine and Minnie’s Halloween Dine.

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  1. Let’s start 2016 with a taste of the chocolate at The Ganachery at Disney Springs – the proprietary blend of chocolate and cream made right in the shop is not to be missed. The lovely little space elevates sweets to an experience akin to a wine tasting.
  2. Coming to Disney Springs in early 2016 is STK, a modern steakhouse mixed with the ambiance of a sleek lounge and emphasizing a social and fun environment. It will be one of the largest STK locations in the world, occupying 14,000 square feet in a two-story building, including a main level and a rooftop-dining area with incredible views of Disney Springs.
  3. Sprinkles, the world’s first cupcake bakery, as named by Food Network and others, will serve up handcrafted cupcakes, slow churned ice cream and homemade cookies at Disney Springs in 2016. Their innovative Cupcake ATM will satisfy sweet-toothed epicureans 24/7.
  4. Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza also comes to Disney Springs in 2016, a modern day “pizza joint” known for its custom-built artisanal pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s’more pies. The fast-casual restaurant will feature an interactive assembly-line format that allows guests to customize their pizza, choosing from over 40 fresh toppings.

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  1. Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine will showcase the cuisine of Chef Art Smith at Disney Springs when it opens in Summer 2016. Smith, who was born and reared in the town of Jasper, Fla., on the Florida-Georgia border, will feature farm-to-fork cuisine that showcases the bounty of Florida, and design inspired by turn-of-the century Florida architecture of the late 1800s.

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  1. Also opening in Summer 2016 at Disney Springs, Frontera Fresco by Chef Rick Bayless will showcase the gourmet Mexican cuisine that has made Chef Bayless a culinary legend. The restaurant will feature authentic Mexican specialties such as hand-crafted tortas, tacos, salads, fresh-made guacamole and classic Mexican braised meat entrees, all prepared from time-honored recipes with natural, locally sourced ingredients. Frontera Fresco also will serve an extensive selection of margaritas, cocktails and craft beers and wine.
  2. Look for a re-imagined Planet Hollywood at Disney Springs as the flagship venue is transformed into a star-themed Planet Hollywood Observatory to match the look and feel of Disney Springs. As part of the makeover, the venue will add a new outdoor terrace and bar space called Stargazers and feature live entertainment.
  3. Also at Disney Springs, new Disney quick-service locations and kiosks will be blooming this spring. Perfect for a quick bite. Keep checking the Disney Parks Blog for more information on these locations.
  4. Two new Disney cookbooks for 2016: a new Delicious Disney: Sweet Treats book due out in the fall, and one celebrating both the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (dates still TBD for the food & wine fest when the book will debut).
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New Dishes Highlight Indian-African Flavors at Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village

posted on January 7th, 2016 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


When Sanaa opened in 2009 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom LodgeKidani Village, the cuisine was a new adventure for Disney chefs – a melding of Indian and African influences inspired by the resort’s African theme and the melding of the two cultures so closely connected on the ancient Spice Trade Route.

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Now Chef Eddie Mendoza has added new dishes to the menu that he calls “African with an Indian touch.”

“We didn’t invent this fusion, it happened with the ancient spice trade,” says Chef Eddie. “Something magical happened once the Indian spices hit the shores of Africa.”

The restaurant is one of Disney’s top table-service restaurants, but many still consider it a well-kept secret (and a Cast Member favorite). For starters, the view is one of the best at Walt Disney World Resort, with zebras, giraffes and other animals grazing just outside the windows. Lunch is relaxed with lighter fare, and dinner is a bit more elegant and features a top-notch wine list that’s primarily South African.

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“The service team is learning the stories behind our new dishes and also having fun learning their pronunciations”, says Chef Eddie. The popular curries remain on the lunch and dinner menus, as well as the butter chicken, but new favorites include a Traditional Sosatie cooked on skewers with lamb and apricots, and served with butternut squash, bacon, cashews and goat cheese. The Biryani, generally considered an Indian dish, gets African spice and seasonal vegetables “influenced from the Cape of Good Hope.”

How about “Boerewors and Slaphakskeentjies,” traditional South African sausages (boerewors) served with a Cape Malay Onion Salad (slaphakskeentjies). We promise it’s all delicious and described on the menu with a glossary that includes everything from Potjie to describe “slow-braised items” to Umngqusho, a “favorite dish of the Congo with samp (hominy) and beans flavored with butter” (said to be Nelson Mandela’s favorite dish).

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You can be adventurous or stick with tried-and-true dishes such as grilled New York strip steak or seasonal sustainable fish – but we say this is the time to be adventurous, as Chef Eddie makes sure the dishes are just right (you can ask for more heat if you prefer). Lunch still includes the delectable roasted Peri Peri Chicken sandwich and features the new Kenya Coffee BBQ sandwich. We can make a meal of the Indian-style bread service and accompaniments: Coriander Chutney, Garlic Pickle, Tomato-Date Jam and Mango Chutney, for instance.

“Allergy-friendly menus and dietary needs are pretty simple in the Sanaa kitchen,” says Chef Eddie, “as much of the menu is plant based and easy to tweak for special diets.”

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

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A Very Special Afternoon Tea Begins January 22 at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel

posted on January 4th, 2016 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Steakhouse 55 is a lovely oasis of elegance at the Disneyland Hotel, with white linens and historic black-and-white photos of Hollywood greats from Walt Disney to Frank Sinatra and Shirley Temple decorating the walls.

The restaurant is hosting a mid-day tea from noon to 3 p.m. beginning January 22, bringing the rich tradition of a royal afternoon respite to Disneyland Resort guests where they can enjoy sweets, savories and a grand selection of a dozen special teas. After a fun morning in the parks, it’s a relaxing way to enjoy time with family and friends (and indulge just a little).

Mid-Day Tea at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel Beginning Jan. 22 Mid-Day Tea at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel Beginning Jan. 22 Mid-Day Tea at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel Beginning Jan. 22

The amazing selection of teas, including Twinings, features a variety of caffeine-free, loose-leaf varieties or herbal infused creations. Pair your favorite sip with traditional scones, an assortment of tea sandwiches, desserts and more. Apertifs, wines by the glass and cordials are available for an additional cost.

You can choose from three distinct tea parties:

Classic Tea Party at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel Beginning Jan. 22 Classic Tea Party at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel Beginning Jan. 22 Classic Tea Party at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel Beginning Jan. 22

Classic Tea Party with traditional scones, tea sandwiches, desserts, teas and herbal infusions

Premium Tea Party at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel Beginning Jan. 22 Premium Tea Party at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel Beginning Jan. 22

Premium Tea Party with sparkling wine, traditional scones, salad, tea sandwiches, desserts, teas and herbal infusions and a farewell truffle

Kids' Tea Party at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel Beginning Jan. 22 Kids' Tea Party at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel Beginning Jan. 22 Kids' Tea Party at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel Beginning Jan. 22 Kids' Tea Party at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel Beginning Jan. 22

Kids’ Tea Party with scones, tea sandwiches, desserts, herbal infused teas, milk or hot chocolate

Cost is $50 for the Classic Tea Party, $65 for the Premium Tea Party and $35 for the Kids’ Tea Party. Gluten-free and vegan options are available. For reservations, visit Disneyland.com/dine or call 714-781-DINE.

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15 for ’15 – What a Year for Walt Disney World Resort Dining!

posted on December 29th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


New restaurants open, one closes (to reopen in 2016) – here are 15 top Walt Disney World Resort culinary stories for 2015. Up next: 16 for 2016.

Starting in March, the Outdoor Kitchens expanded at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. It was the third year for the culinary addition at the festival, with the new Botanas Botánico Outdoor Kitchen between France and Morocco pavilions with treats like cachapas with farmer’s cheese, a sweet yellow corn pancake, and seafood ceviche with shrimp, scallops and grouper with mango and avocado.

Also in March, the new breakfast started at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom Park. The quick-service breakfast menu has a decidedly French touch, with everything from assorted cured meat and cheese served with marmalade, fresh fruit and a toasted baguette to eggs Florentine served in a puff pastry shell with country ham and roasted plum tomatoes.

Late March saw the opening of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. It’s a popular spot, and guests ooh and ah over more than 1,200 pieces of memorabilia. The hand-crafted cocktails are delicious (order an Uh-Oa! and see what happens with the special effects).

Beginning April 1, new allergy-friendly menus debuted in 2015 at more than 100 quick-service and table-service locations at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, along with more ways to make the special-diet-request process easier.

In May, the much-anticipated Harambe Market opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where food plays a starring role with African-inspired street food at four walk-up windows and plenty of shaded seating. Skewered chicken and kabob flatbreads, beef and pork sausage fried in a curried corn batter (like a corn dog), spice-rubbed karubi ribs and South African wines are a home run. Or try tikka masala chicken, the newest addition to the menu.

April saw the opening of The BOATHOUSE, the first all-new dining spot at Disney Springs – not a bad view in the house with all of the dining rooms with waterfront views or on the water. Seafood is the star (try the lobster roll). Then take a ride in the dream boats from the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s (or watch for free from the dock).

The new Ferrytale Wishes, A Fireworks Dessert Cruise, debuted in September, the perfect way to experience Magic Kingdom Park fireworks from a spot on Seven Seas Lagoon. The decks are laden with delectable sweets, plenty of ice cream and beverages (with and without alcohol) in souvenir glow glasses. Enjoy this sweet ending to your day, then settle to watch the spectacular Wishes nighttime spectacular overhead, the largest fireworks display ever at Walt Disney World Resort.

20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival expands for first time into Future World (Sept. 25-Nov. 16) with four new food and beverage marketplaces. Starting along the Rose Walk between Future World and World Showcase, the new Artistry of Wine & Cheese festival area featured the Cheese Studio (offering a cheese sampler to pair with wines) and Wine Studio with premium wines on tap. The new Next Eats area included Sustainable Chew and Chew Lab marketplaces inspired by ABC’s Emmy-Award® winning lifestyle series “The Chew.”

Late September was the opening of the much-anticipated Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar along the waterfront at Disney Springs. With 150 seats inside and out, the bar cleverly features salvaged equipment, spare airplane parts and mementos from Jock’s travels.

For the first time ever, “The Chew,” ABC’s Emmy-Award® winning daytime show, broadcasted from the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival October 7-9. Hosts Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly and Carla Hall filmed segments across Walt Disney World Resort in addition to taping before a live audience. Episodes aired October 12-16, 2015.

Minnie’s Seasonal Dine added to Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With five distinct dining experiences depending on the season, including Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine, Minnie’s Springtime Dine, Minnie’s Summertime Dine, Minnie’s Halloween Dine, and Minnie’s Holiday Dine. Festive new costumes and seasonally themed eats make this dinner fun for the whole family.

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Morimoto Asia also opened in November, the newest to join the line-up at Disney Springs. It’s the newest venture for Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, and his first restaurant featuring Pan-Asian cuisine, including the signature Morimoto Peking Duck, carved and roasted in house.

New Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen opened in December in the Magic Kingdom. Diners can set off on a culinary adventure at a new eatery in Adventureland featuring “World Famous Jungle Cuisine.” Just steps from the legendary Jungle Cruise attraction you can enjoy the bold, flavorful tastes of Asia, South America and Africa at this new 222-seat table-service restaurant staffed by the wisecracking crew of the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd.

The Ganachery opened in December at Disney Springs, a jewel box of a shop that’s showcases the beauty of chocolate. The star of the show is a custom-made ganache, Disney’s own recipe for a luxurious mixture of melted chocolate and cream. Stepping inside this shop is reminiscent of an apothecary of another era, a lovely little space elevates sweets to an experience akin to a wine tasting.

Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa ends the year on a high note by winning the coveted AAA Five-Diamond Award – that’s 16 years in a row, putting the restaurant in an exclusive tier of dining experiences. Each year AAA reviews nearly 30,000 restaurants, but just 0.4 percent make the AAA Five Diamond. The restaurant also was once again honored as one of the top restaurants in the United States in TripAdvisor’s 2015 Travelers’ Choice awards (No. 6 of 25). And Time Magazine named Victoria & Albert’s to its Top 100 list of U.S. restaurants.

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Reservations Open for Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 24th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Here’s a sweet new way to have even more out-of-this-world fun January 8-March 20, 2016, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort.

Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party happens January 5 – March 19, with special viewing for the “Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular” fireworks. Enjoy a selection of sweets as the night sky erupts with an arsenal of impressive fireworks, set to the most dramatic and memorable Star Wars themes of all time.

On the menu, look for lots of Star Wars-themed desserts treats, including the popular Droid and Darth Vader cupcakes and a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. And you’ll get a souvenir Chewbacca stein to take home!

Cost is $69, $39 ages 3 to 11, including tax and gratuity. For reservations, visit DisneyWorld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.

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The Ganachery Chocolate Shop Now Open at Disney Springs

posted on December 15th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


The Ganachery is now open at Disney Springs, a jewel box of a shop that showcases the beauty of chocolate with an experience much like a wine tasting. The star of the show is a custom-made ganache, Disney’s own recipe for a luxurious mixture of melted chocolate and cream.

Thanks to Walt Disney Imagineering, the little shop expands the story of chocolate through the design, costumes, graphics, props and packaging, says Imagineer Theron Skees.

“We like to tell a story, because when guests arrive they want to feel like it’s a real place,” says Skees. Like all the buildings at Disney Springs, there is a history – the shop used to be an apothecary where residents of the springs came for medicinal needs. Then, as the story goes, the space was taken over by a South American couple who turned their love for the cocoa bean into a fantastic chocolate shop. (Most of the cocoa beans are sourced from South America, so the Imagineers wanted to layer in a Latin American flair, from the ceramic drawer pulls to music seasoned with South American sounds.)

“It’s a fresh take on an old apothecary,” says Skees. Bottles, scales and other props are inspired by drugstores of another era, and well-used copper pots add a layer of history. Be sure to check out the chandelier made from authentic copper pots and kettles used to make chocolate.

Walls are painted the color of dark chocolate, another the color of caramel. Photos on the wall are the couple that opened the shop, making a fictitious history seem more real. “Our cast members will bring our story to life and make our guests feel part of it,” says Skees.

The theming carries through right down to the packaging, says Skees. “Traditional Apothecary labels are ‘blocked’ with spaces for weights, measurements and descriptions, so we were inspired by that idea and made it more modern for the elegant chocolate bars and chocolate boxes.” Thus the clever tagline, “the cure for common chocolate.” The packaging design and all of the shop’s coloration are browns, caramel, cream and ivory, inspired by all the colors of chocolate.


A big show window looks into a gleaming white, stainless steel kitchen where you can see chocolatiers preparing all the chocolate. “This is where Old World meets New World,” says Skees. Stop by and try one of the 16 flavors of ganache, like dark chocolate with a touch of shaved Egyptian salt, or milk chocolate with a dash of dark chocolate and a pinch of Sri Lankan cinnamon. You’ll never think of chocolate the same.

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‘Brunch at the Top’ Debuts February 7th, 2016 at California Grill

posted on December 14th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


We love the nighttime views from California Grill high atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, but the daytime skyline is equally spectacular, with a bird’s-eye view of Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot and Disney’s resort hotels. And now a new Sunday brunch opens the beautiful restaurant for daytime dining for the first time ever.

‘Brunch at the Top’ at California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort

The new Brunch at the Top is the perfect way to indulge on a leisurely Sunday – not quite breakfast, not quite lunch. Chef Brian Piasecki’s team is excited to launch a whole new menu to showcase their fresh, market-driven cuisine. Of course a glass of bubbly or wine (the restaurant has more than 1,600 bottles on display) pairs nicely. And there’s an over-the-top Bloody Mary Bar as well as cocktails and craft brews, as well as a signature brunch cocktail and faux “mimosas” for kids (though you can also stick with the custom-roast French press coffee).

And here’s the fun part – you get the chance to interact with the culinary team in the open show kitchen while savoring charcuterie, sushi and market-inspired salads. Start the experience with an assortment of house-made breakfast pastries delivered to your table (think caramel apple Monkey bread, Tillamook Cheddar biscuit and cranberry scones pecan) with house-made jam and orange blossom honey butter. Then head to the show kitchen for small tastes such as house smoked orange honey ham, deviled Lake Meadow Naturals eggs, Greek yogurt with vanilla-scented granola and fresh berries, kale and apple salad, baby iceberg wedge with Cherrywood bacon and avocado-buttermilk Ranch dressing, hardwood smoked salmon, California rolls with jumbo lump crabmeat, spicy tuna rolls and shrimp tempura with orange drizzle and mango. (That’s just a sampling.)

Then choose your next course, delivered tableside:

  • Pan-Fried Buttermilk Organic Chicken Cutlet with Haricots Verts, Toasted Almonds, Frisée, Beurre Noisette;
  • Sweet Potato Pancakes with Caramelized Heirloom Apples, Dried Cranberry and Raisin Compote, Vanilla
  • Custard, Warm Canadian Maple Syrup;
  • Shrimp and Grits, Gulf White Shrimp with Tillamook Cheddar Grits, Spicy Tomato Broth,
    Espellette-Spiced Tomato Ragout;
  • Poached Lobster Benedict with Butter-Poached Tail, Two Soft-Poached Eggs, Honey Ham,
    Yuzu Hollandaise, Marble Potato Hash;
  • Chef’s Frittata with Three Lake Meadow Farms Eggs, Florida Heirloom Tomatoes, Roasted Poblanos, Chorizo, Creamy Goat Cheese, Marble Potato Hash;
  • Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Soft Poached Eggs, Chimichurri, Marble Potato Hash and Charred Red Onion.

If there’s room, share sweet mini-desserts, macarons and chocolate truffles while enjoying the beautiful skyline out the floor-to-ceiling windows. The restaurant’s Mid-Century Modern design has a different vibe in the daytime – Disney fans will want to check out the carpet, inspired by artist and Disney Legend Mary Blair’s sketches. Mary created the character designs for iconic Disney attractions such as “it’s a small world” and inspired the colorful mosaic tile art stretching 10 floors high on the fourth floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Fun little detail.

Cost is $80, $48 ages 3 to 11. Reservations open December 16, and can be made by visiting DisneyWorld.com/dine or by calling 407-WDW-DINE.

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Filed: Disney Dining, Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort