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New Beach Side Bonfire Dinner Buffet at Disney’s PCH Grill at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort

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


Do you know what “PCH” stands for? Most folks think it’s for Pacific Coast Highway – but at Disney’s PCH Grill they’re now saying “Pure Culinary Heaven.”

With a riff on the picnics, barbecues and bonfires that happen often at Pacific Coast Highway beaches, the team at Disney’s PCH Grill has created a new nightly buffet starting on July 17 with tastes inspired by all of California’s coastline, from the southern San Diego shores all the way to the northern redwoods.

Carving Station at Disney’s PCH Grill at Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort Salad Bar at Disney’s PCH Grill at Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort Seafood Sauté Station at Disney’s PCH Grill at Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort

Start with a carving station with dry-rubbed smoked tri-tip beef and baby back ribs, or the seafood sauté station with shrimp Alfredo with cavatappi pasta, or littleneck clams, chorizo and potatoes, cooked in broth with a roasted garlic-herb crostini. Then there’s wood-fired pizzas, mini taco station (beer-battered sustainable fish or veggie tacos), spice-rubbed pork shoulder, and sides such a roasted potato salad, heirloom tomato-mozzarella salad, deviled eggs and a build-your-own salad bar.

Mac and Cheese at Disney’s PCH Grill at Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort Cheeseburger Sliders at Disney’s PCH Grill at Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort

Add kid favorites like a mac ‘n’ cheese bar, fried chicken, seasonal veggies, whole-roasted salmon, smashed potatoes, cheeseburger sliders and mini hot dogs.

Dessert at Disney’s PCH Grill at Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort Dessert at Disney’s PCH Grill at Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort Dessert at Disney’s PCH Grill at Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort Dessert at Disney’s PCH Grill at Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort

Dessert is mostly in your hands: a s’mores bar or build-your-own strawberry shortcake, fancy ice cream cones filled with vanilla bean, passion fruit and strawberry mousse. Or there’s a brioche fresh fruit pizza (made in the wood-burning oven), seasonal berry crisp and milk chocolate caramel tart (with sea salt and bacon brittle!). Add a little taste of the islands with creamy haupia pudding with layers of coconut and mango.

Party Wave Lemonade at Disney’s PCH Grill at Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort Peach and Blood Orange Tea at Disney’s PCH Grill at Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort

Sip a Party Wave Lemonade – we won’t spoil this deliciously sweet surprise by telling you what’s in it – but it could be dessert. Or enjoy peach and orange tea or watermelon lemonade (all three cost extra).

Cost is $27.99, $13.99 ages 3 to 9. Hours are 5:30-9 p.m. nightly. For reservations, visit Disneyland.com/dine or call 714-781-DINE.

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20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Expands for First Time into Future World

posted on July 13th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


For the first time ever, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is stretching into the park’s Future World with four new food and beverage marketplaces.

The festival opens September 25 and runs through November 16, and will feature more than 30 global marketplaces for sipping and noshing throughout the park.

20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Expands for First Time into Future World

Along the walkway toward Future World West, the new Artistry of Wine & Cheese festival area will feature the Cheese Studio (offering a cheese sampler served on an artist’s palette to pair with wines) and the Wine Studio with premium wines on tap – each keg keeps the wine super fresh and holds the equivalent of 26 bottles, eliminating bottle, cork, cardboard and paper waste. Bottles, corks and materials from other marketplaces are recycled.

Then, near the Epcot Character Spot, the new Next Eats area will debut with Sustainable Chew and Chew Lab marketplaces inspired by ABC’s Emmy-Award® winning lifestyle series “The Chew,” starring co-hosts Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly and Daphne Oz. Sustainable Chew will feature three dishes, and Chew Lab will show off hot culinary tech trends like a Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel.

Beginning July 15, you can go to epcotfoodfestival.com for more details. Booking for premium events like the new Rockin’ Burger Block Party (details soon!), Party for the Senses and Signature Dining Experiences will begin July 30 at 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378).

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My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party a Special Treat for Little Ones – and Parents, Grandparents

posted on July 9th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


What little girl wouldn’t love to be Princess for a day? We had the very special treat of a Sunday morning at the My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, accompanying two very special little girls, Hazel and Lucy, to experience first-hand the joys and sweetness of an old-fashioned tea with a little pixie dust.

Little Princesses Enjoy My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Little Princesses Enjoy My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

The room was full of little princesses ranging in age from 3 to 9, some in princess attire, and the very fancy party was thoughtfully geared toward every little girl (no boys attended, but they are most welcome). From the regal welcome by Rose Petal, a magical rose from Princess Aurora’s garden that comes to life, to the final farewell parade through the elegant lobby of the hotel, the children, parents and grandparents are charmed. It’s a non-stop hour of live music, dancing, storytelling and even a fun lesson in Sign Language. The children gather round Rose Petal for singing, and on our special day, Princess Aurora was the icing on the cake when she arrived to the delight of each little girl.

Princess Aurora Meets Guests During My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Rose Petal Meets Guests During My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Both Rose Petal and Princess Aurora make a stop at each table to talk with the children and pose for photos, and gifts are delivered nearly non-stop throughout the hour, starting with a tiara from Rose Petal as they enter, and a Princess Aurora doll awaiting each girl at the table. There’s also a charm bracelet, friendship necklace, fresh pink rose and a knapsack to carry it all home. For our little friends, all the surprises and royal treatment made it feel like a party just for them. So many photo ops! There is even a Disney PhotoPass photo opportunity to capture the magic.

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The tea service and apple juice tea for the little ones with heart-cut jelly sandwiches and ham-and-cheese sandwiches was followed by a generous slice or cake with pink strawberry icing. Grown-ups have a lovely plate of tea sandwiches, fruit and cheeses with herbal tea, beautifully served on china.

It’s a very special moment to see a little one immersed in the magic of fairytales, especially a 3-year-old who knows the Disney princesses by name. And days after to hear a little voice singing, “Hail to the King, Hail to the Queen, Hail to the Princess Aurora,” accompanied with a princess wave. The experience made a lasting memory for our little guests.

Children must be accompanied by an adult, and the price, $334 including tax and gratuity includes one adult and one child ages 3 to 9 (additional guests are welcome to join for $235 per child and $99 per adult). Boys receive a royal Knight’s sword and shield, Disney Trading pin and a Duffy the Disney Bear. Merchandise gifts are available for guests up to age 12, by paying an additional fee at the podium upon arrival. For reservations, call 407-WDW-MYTEA. The parties are on select days at 10:30 a.m.

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New 10-Course Menu at Victoria & Albert’s Expands Exquisite Dining Experience

posted on July 9th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


With the distinction of being the only AAA Five Diamond restaurant in Central Florida (and one of only three in the state), Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa continues to raise the bar.

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The award-winning dining room is adding a new Chef’s Degustation Menu, a series of 10 small courses featuring some of Chef Scott Hunnel’s favorite dishes inspired by the seasons and by his world travels to Asia, Spain, Italy and France. The seven-course Chef’s Tasting Menu will remain, and the kitchen will continue to meld tradition with innovative cuisine “for an avant-garde culinary journey,” says Israel Perez, maître d’hôtel.

Other big changes include a focus on food-and-wine pairings in the adjacent Queen Victoria Room. With just eight seats, diners will be offered Chef Hunnel’s 10-course menu paired with exclusive wines from Victoria & Albert’s impressive wine cellar. “The wine pairings will be exclusive to the private room, and we want to enlighten our guests about how the chef and sommelier work together to perfectly pair food and drink,” says Perez.

Adding the 10-course menu in the main dining room creates a more leisurely dining experience, and other special tableside touches have been added, such as a cheese trolley, tableside butter carving and a custom chocolate box for selecting post-prandial sweets.

The popular Chef’s Table, tucked in a cozy kitchen alcove with a front-row seat for watching the action in the kitchen, continues to offer 10 to 13 courses, small tastes of everything from caviar to Japanese Wagyu beef, paired with wine and spirits. The dinner lasts nearly four hours, the time filled with delectable tastes and conversations with the chef and his team.

“Diners now have a choice of three distinct dining experiences with food-and-wine pairings in Queen Victoria Room, two menus in the main dining room and the Chef’s Table in the kitchen,” says Perez. “Whichever they choose, they will enjoy the finest quality ingredients and impeccable service.”

The seven-course menu is $185 ($250 with wine pairings); the 10-course menu is $235 ($340 with wine pairings). Dinner in the Queen Victoria Room is $340, and includes 10 courses paired with wine. The Chef’s Table in the kitchen is $250. The restaurant is open daily for dinner. For reservations, call 407-939-3862.

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Your Chance to Sip a Rare Wine at Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

posted on July 8th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


A state-of-the-art WineStation by Napa Technology is the newest “toy” for the sommeliers at the award-winning Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at the Disneyland Resort.

“The WineStation lets us open four distinctive bottles of wine to give our guests a taste of something extra special,” says Eric Quezada, area manager and sommelier at Napa Rose. “We’re offering older vintage wines, cult wines, bottles you won’t find every day.”

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The WineStation offers 1-ounce, 3-ounce and 5-ounce pours so that guests can sample vintages like a 1989 Vega Sicilia Unico Tempranillo from Spain that sells for more than $400 a bottle. “Every time we pour, it tastes like we just opened the bottle,” says Eric.

There are always four offerings, usually a Pinot, two Cabernets and a Spanish wine, he explains. Bottles are listed on the menu with ratings. “Not everybody wants to spend $300 for a bottle of wine, but now they can have a glass for dinner,” says Eric. “Our guests are really excited to discover a variety of premium wines that they don’t find on other by-the-glass wine lists.”

The focus is on “big-name” vintners, and not all wines are at the top of the price range. Depending on what’s in the Napa Rose cellar, the prices are based on the bottle and how rare it is – but there also are fun and affordable tastes.

You never know what wine you’ll find, but you know it will be very special – just like the Napa Rose Vintner’s Table, where the menu changes every Friday based on seasonality. “We showcase dishes by our chefs that are not on the regular menu,” says Eric. For instance, right now there’s a duo of prime New York beef and a braised beef short rib with morel mushrooms, sweet onion puree and black plum relish; and a dessert tart made with Robiola cheese, cashew frangipane and Black Mission figs with a mint and Port reduction. Cost for the Vintner’s Table menu is $100, $45 for a wine pairing.

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

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ABC’s ‘The Chew’ Will Broadcast from 20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival; Also Featured in Two First-Ever Future World Marketplaces

posted on July 2nd, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


We all have a favorite host from ABC’s “The Chew” – superstars Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly, Carla Hall and Daphne Oz each have a special way of sharing their culinary know-how on the Emmy-Award-winning lifestyle series. And for the first time in the show’s history, these dynamic hosts are leaving the Manhattan studio to tape shows October 7, 8, and 9 from the 20th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Epcot. The five festival episodes will air October 12-16.

Shows will be taped before a live audience, and we’re sure the hosts will be all over Walt Disney World Resort discovering remarkable dining finds, getting a taste of innovative, fun and healthful eats – the best the vacation kingdom has to offer.

CLINTON KELLY, DAPHNE OZ, MARIO BATALI, MICHAEL SYMON, CARLA HALL

Along with the taping of the show, “The Chew” will be featured in two marketplaces throughout the festival’s 53-day celebration from September 25-November 16, helping celebrate 20 delicious years. For the first time in the festival’s history, marketplaces will expand into Future World in the new Next Eats festival area with three delicious dishes from “The Chew” in their Sustainable Chew Marketplace: Savory Pork Spareribs with Cheesy Mascarpone Grits; Ricotta & Zucchini Ravioli with Tomato Sauce, and Vanilla Panna Cotta with Fresh Figs and Pistachio Brittle. (Herbs and veggies from The Land pavilion will flavor the marketplace dishes when harvested.) The eco-home-inspired marketplace will offer a chance for guests to learn more about how food is grown and the importance of sustainability.

Also in Next Eats, Disney chefs are collaborating with “The Chew” for the Chew Lab, a cutting-edge marketplace inspired by food-science labs and the hottest culinary tech trends.

“The Chew” airs on ABC Monday through Friday at 1 p.m. EST, noon CST. For updates on the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, visit epcotfoodfestival.com throughout the summer.

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Learn Culinary Secrets of Disney Chefs in New Backstage Adventure at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on July 1st, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Ever wonder how to make a buttery pasta noodle or fork-tender filet mignon? Beginning July 8, the new “Disney Family Culinary Adventure” at Disney’s Contemporary Resort whisks guests backstage for a fun, interactive evening that includes plenty of time with the Disney chefs, hands-on cooking and a festive, five-course dinner with beer and wine served in the kitchen by the professional catering staff.

Aimed at guests 9 and older, the evening starts at 5 p.m. with a friendly introduction to the massive catering kitchen. A maximum of 30 guests put on aprons, hats and gloves and are divided into five cooking groups. And every station has a wow technique, from the ease of making homemade butter (equal parts buttermilk and heavy cream) to a fresh pasta with just three ingredients.

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“We want to show them the tricks of the trade,” says Chef Frank Brough. “It’s a guided experience but they do everything from making cheese and butter to rolling out pasta and breaking down a whole beef tenderloin.”

The five stations:

  • Garde manger, is the French term for food produced in the cold kitchen, where guests learn how to make farmer cheese, from-scratch butter, and how to plate a gourmet salad on a rapidly moving electric belt in the professional kitchen.
  • Sushi, with sushi chefs teaching the art of rolling sushi and sashimi. (This station may rotate with other culinary ideas.)
  • Boucherie, or butcher station, where guests learn how to trim a beef tenderloin to make the perfect filet mignon.
  • Pasta, with just three ingredients (semolina, olive oil and egg), guests learn to make tender noodles from scratch, along with fresh basil pesto.
  • Patisserie, or bakery, where guests get to play with chocolate, mousse and other sweet endings.

Once the food prep is complete, guests move freely about the big kitchen to chat with the chefs – no culinary question goes unanswered. It takes about an hour for all the prep work, then everyone is seated at a long table in the center of the kitchen to enjoy the five-course meal they’ve just prepared. (Vegetarian, vegan and selections for guests with allergies are options for dinner.)

Lights are dimmed, background music plays, and a toast begins the special meal, where each course is served with wine and beer. At the meal’s end a special molecular gastronomy demonstration wows guests (we’ll keep that a secret), and they receive a special toque (chef’s hat) to take home, along with a Disney cookbook signed by the chefs.

“We really want them to leave the kitchen with ideas for a spectacular dinner party that they can do at home without opening a can or reaching for something frozen,” says Chef Brough.

The program is planned two evenings a week (days vary), starting at 5 p.m. Cost is $175 plus tax, $125 plus tax for ages 9 to 12. (Younger guests may have their own cooking station.) Complimentary transportation is provided for Disney Resort hotel guests. To book or for more information, call 407-WDW-PLAY.

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New Chef, New Menu Items for Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

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


Disney’s Wilderness Lodge takes guests on a journey to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, with design inspired by turn-of-the-century National Park lodges. And Artist Point carries that theme into the dining room with dramatic murals, timbered columns and pretty views of Bay Lake and Silver Creek Falls.

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So, of course, the cuisine helps tell the story, and Chef Michael Gonsalves, new at the helm in the Artist Point kitchen, is having fun with a menu that is focused on the America’s Pacific Northwest. “We are looking to convey the wonders of nature through food,” says Chef Michael.

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Regional dishes such as Dungeness crab cakes, steamed mussels, Cedar plank salmon and wild-caught prawns and halibut are on the menu, but Chef Michael is having fun with new tastes, too. A dashi-braised short rib starter is served with kombu turnip pickles, daikon and wild greens. Charred field asparagus with Berkshire prosciutto, mustard vinaigrette, and foraged greens also graces the menu. And he showcases produce from the “Land” at Epcot as well with offerings such as the “Land” Greens Salad featuring Masumoto Peaches, and Seed Granola.

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Favorites such as the smokey portobello bisque with crispy shiitakes stays on the menu, as well as the buffalo strip steak from North Fork Canada. For summer, Chef Michael is adding a new cheese and house-made charcuterie boards.

“We’ll be offering Pacific Northwest cheeses with house-made seed lavosh and crostini,” says Chef Michael. “And the house-made charcuterie will be ‘nose-to-tail,’ using the whole hog.” The restaurant’s beef, bison, halibut and salmon all are sourced from the Pacific Northwest too.

Most popular dish? The Cedar plank salmon, says Chef Michael, with his new rendition with local potatoes, baby fennel, Florida citrus and ver jus.

Every dish on the menu gets a wine pairing from sommelier Alvin Burrill, with each selection from Washington or Oregon. But Alvin also might recommend a Pacific Northwest ale if you ask, like the handcrafted Rogue Ales made in partnership with Voodoo Donuts (strange but true).

Looking ahead, Chef Michael says they are working on a terrace dining experience with a communal chef’s table – stay tuned for details!

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Don’t Miss This Sweet Tribute to the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

posted on June 23rd, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


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Step in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and the sweet smell of vanilla will lead you directly to the new Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration centerpiece – this elegant cake, standing more than 3 feet tall, is a delightful rendition of Sleeping Beauty Castle that took a team of 10 talented bakers, artists and engineers more than 140 hours to create. (This is the same team that brings you the Haunted Mansion Holiday gingerbread extravaganza.)

Don't Miss This Sweet Tribute to the Disneyland Hotel Diamond Celebration at Disney's Grand Californian Resort & Spa Don't Miss This Sweet Tribute to the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Just for fun, we asked: there are 18 pounds of marshmallows, 54 pounds of rice cereal, 30 pounds of white chocolate, 40 pounds of gum paste, 15 pounds of fondant and 6 hidden Mickeys. We won’t get to eat this cake, but it sure makes a distinctive photo backdrop. Happy 60th, Disneyland Resort!

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Luck O’ Irish for These Five Cooks, With a Little Help From Raglan Road Chef Kevin Dundon

posted on June 4th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


We got a sneak peek of Raglan Road’s 10th birthday celebration, thanks to a clever contest that the Downtown Disney restaurant sponsored asking amateur cooks to come up with their perfect three-course Irish meal, via a two-minute video, to celebrate 10 years.

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Chef Kevin Dundon (of American Public Television’s “Kevin Dundon’s Back to Basics” series) selected the top five and invited them to travel, all expenses paid, to his own Dunbrody Country House Hotel and Cookery School in beautiful Wexford County, Ireland. (We got to join the winners for this spectacular trip of a lifetime.) Take a look at these photos by Raglan Road photographer Ivan Cummins that give a taste of the incredible experience.

From a pint of Guinness in Dublin to gorgeous Dunbrody House on Ireland’s dramatic Hook Peninsula, the winners got an inside look at Raglan Road’s roots, from the farms where Dundon sources his food for his restaurant at Dunbrody House (and perhaps Downtown Disney in the near future) to the rollicking deck of a fishing boat on the Atlantic Ocean. Everyone got a chance to improve culinary skills under Dundon’s oft-humorous tutelage in the estate’s Cookery School.

All five winners – Janice Epaillard of Mount Dora, Fla.; Aaron Van Swearingen of Winter Park, Fla.; Colleen Kerney of Orlando; Heather McBroom Walker of Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Linda Rohr of Darien, Conn. – will be back in the kitchen at Raglan Road in October to work with the culinary team to create a dish for a special 10th birthday dinner.

Seeing the real deal on the Emerald Isle makes Raglan Road all the more special, with its dining rooms of aged walnut and mahogany wood furnishings from old Irish bars and churches that were shipped to Orlando to build the restaurant almost a decade ago. And Dundon’s Irish cuisine translates beautifully in his Walt Disney World Resort restaurant, where he spends several weeks each year working with the chefs to perfect classic dishes such as Irish Mist-glazed loin of bacon, fish and chips, Guinness and bangers and Granny Dundon’s Famous Steamed Orange Pudding.

After the whirlwind visit, we appreciate even more the live Irish bands and The Raglan Road Dancers every night of the week (and during weekend brunch) that bring the spirit of the Emerald Isle across the ocean.

Stay tuned for more details for the 10th birthday celebration!

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