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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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Cinderella’s Dining at Cítricos–Breakfast and Brunch with the Disney Princesses at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

posted on November 12th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


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Beginning January 8, 2015, the Disney princesses will welcome guests to Cítricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa while we spruce up Cinderella’s Royal Table in Magic Kingdom Park. Reservations are available for Walt Disney World Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members beginning December 3. Reservations open to all guests on December 4.

Breakfast and Brunch with the Disney Princesses at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Breakfast and Brunch with the Disney Princesses at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Breakfast and Brunch with the Disney Princesses at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Cinderella will be there to greet guests as they arrive, and the Disney princesses will visit each table for photos and autographs during the dining experience. Diners also can participate in an interactive “Magical Wishing Ceremony” with Cinderella and the Disney Princesses, with “wishing wands” and “wishing swords” for little ones.

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Breakfast and brunch hours are 8 a.m.-2:20 p.m., and cost is $49.99; $31.99 ages 3-9. The experience is on the Disney Dining Plan (2 entitlements). For reservations call 407-WDW-DINE. Online reservations and information will be available at a later date.

Cinderella’s Royal Table is expected to reopen in March.

Cinderella’s Dining at Cítricos
Breakfast and Brunch with the Disney Princesses

Adult Menu

APPETIZERS OF THE COURT

Bakery Basket

Choice of One:

Garden Salad–Artisanal Greens, Endive, Roasted Carrots, Sugar Snap Peas, and
Marcona Almonds with Riesling Vinaigrette

Assorted Fresh Fruits

ENTRÉES ROYALE

Choice of One:

Traditional Breakfast–Scrambled Eggs, Sausage, Bacon, and Twice-cooked Breakfast Potatoes

Scrambled Egg Whites, Hot Ten-Grain Cereal, Greek Yogurt topped with Granola,
Whole-Grain Bread, and Fresh Fruit

Steak and Slow-Poached Eggs with Twice-cooked Breakfast Potatoes and Wilted Spinach

Grilled Ham and Biscuit, Slow Poached Eggs topped with Sausage Gravy

Market-inspired Fish with Angel Hair Pasta, and Aromatic Tomato Sauce

Florida Shrimp with Creamy Cheddar Cheese and Smoked Bacon Grits

DESSERT TRIO

Beverages included:

Unlimited Coffee (regular/decaf), Iced Tea (regular/decaf),
Fountain Beverages, and Juices (Apple/Orange/Tomato)
One Specialty Beverage

Children’s Menu

APPETIZERS
Choice of One

Bite-size Cheddar Cheese and Grapes

Garden Salad
Fat-free Ranch Dressing

ENTRÉES
Choice of One

Turkey Pot Pie
Turkey Pot Pie topped with a Cheese Biscuit

Roasted Chicken Leg
Roasted Chicken Leg with Brown Rice Pilaf and Broccolini

Children’s Scrambled Eggs

Mickey-shaped Waffles

Steak
served with Mashed Potatoes and Sweet Corn

DESSERT TRIO

Beverages included:

Milk and Skim Milk
Fountain Beverages
Juices: Orange/Apple/Tomato
One Specialty Beverage

Specialty Beverage Selections

Adult Specialty Beverage Selection

Choice of One

Mimosa
Champagne
Seasoned & Spiced Tomato Juice with Vodka
Cappuccino
Latte
Espresso
Glass of Wine

Children’s Specialty Beverage Selection

Choice of One served in a Specialty Cup

Tink Drink
Lemonade, Orange Juice and Sprite

Strawberry Smoothie

(Menu subject to change without notice)

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Trattoria al Forno Wines Take Diners on a Trip Through Italy

posted on November 12th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


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Opening December 18 on Disney’s Boardwalk, Trattoria al Forno promises diners an authentic taste of Italy – from the top of boot-shaped peninsula to the bottom, with classic Italian cuisine — handcrafted mozzarella, fresh pasta and pizzas baked in new wood-burning ovens.

Wine with food is a way of life in Italy, and Trattoria al Forno’s wine list “takes guests on a historic journey through the Italian wine regions,” says Jason Cha-Kim beverage manager for Disney Parks & Resorts.

“It’s unusual to have a 100-percent Italian wine list,” says Jason, who curated a list of about 70 wines from Italy’s 20 wine regions. The first page of the wine list is a map of Italy with the most famous regions highlighted, such as Tuscany and Veneto, then a few of the regions have bullet points about some of the most important wines and their flavor profiles.

“From Tuscany, we describe Chiantis and Super Tuscans,” says Jason. “From Piedmont, Barolo and Moscato d’Asti . . . and we offer wines from regions that some guests may not be familiar with, so we add a description for every single wine, along with the region and grape varietal.”

Trattoria al Forno will offer more than 30 wines by the glass, starting at $8, and also “quartinos,” which are quarter-liter carafes (about a glass and a half). “This is a great way for guests to try several different wines,” says Jason. “They’re big enough to share, so you can try wines from obscure wine regions.” Wine flights also are available.

“The wine list is like a geography lesson,” he explains, “and the list includes bin numbers for easy ordering.”
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Training the staff has been a fun journey, says Vinnie Tai, area manager for Disney’s Boardwalk food & beverage team. “We’ve been training for three months so that our servers are part of the immersive dining experience of dining at Trattoria al Forno.”

“It’s been a steep learning curve for the staff,” says Jason. “Servers had a week of intensive training with master sommeliers and leading wine educators from Italy – before opening the staff all will have an overview of Italy wine production and a tasting of all the wines on the list.”

Servers and sommeliers will be trained to suggest an Italian wine that matches a commonly known grape varietal from California and around the world – for instance, Italy’s Pinot Nero is the equivalent of a Pinot Noir, and Primitivo from Italy’s Puglia region is similar to a Zinfandel.

“It’s like a trip to Italy, and you don’t need a plane ticket or passport,” says Vinnie. “Our guests will get a true taste of Italy’s finest.” For reservations, 407-WDW-DINE.

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Tastes From Around the Globe at Epcot Holidays Around the World November 28 – December 30

posted on November 10th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Holidays Around the World at Epcot where the World Showcase countries reflect the seasonal traditions – including tastes of homelands far, far away.

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Starting our stroll at Promenade Refreshments, try the Turkey Waffle – a filling sweet potato waffle with roast turkey and green bean casserole (all-in-one holiday dinner). Then head to Canada for pecan-maple bark, a nod to our Northern neighbor’s bounteous maple sugar production. Next door in the United Kingdom, it’s hot applejack cider with whiskey and a blend of seasonal spices – sip while you listen to stories of Father Christmas.

France sweetly celebrates with the classic bûche de noël au chocolate (chocolate cake shaped like a log) at Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie, and glace au apin d’epices (gingerbread ice cream) at L’Artisan des Glaces.

Japan adds teriyaki chicken karaage, a Japanese version of crispy fried chicken bites with teriyaki sauce, at Kabuki Cafe, and you can hear the story of the hollow-round Daruma doll and the Japanese customs of the New Year.

Up next, American Adventure, with freshly baked gingerbread men, chocolate chunk cookies and sugar cookies, hot chocolate, hot apple cider and peppermint bark at the Sugar and Spice Holiday Bakery (perfect snacks for the Candlelight Processional). Look for Santa and Mrs. Claus, along with Hanukkah and Kwanzaa celebrations throughout the holidays, plus our favorite Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers.

At Italy you can meet La Befana, the kind-hearted witch who arrives on the eve of the Epiphany to grant gifts to good children – like panettone, the sweet bread loaf served at the Gelato kiosk, along with sweet moscato wine and ciocolata calda (hot chocolate).

In Germany, listen as Helga tells the story of the first Christmas tree as you nibble on stollen fruit cake and sip glühwein (hot spiced wine).

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Learn about the Christmas gnome in Norway and indulge in the traditional rice cream at Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe (so popular they leave it on the menu year-round).

Then take another lap around the World Showcase Lagoon to burn all those calories – ‘tis the season!

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Here’s a First Look at Breakfast Menu for New Trattoria al Forno Opening in December at Disney’s BoardWalk

posted on November 6th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Waffles with espresso-mascarpone cream … poached eggs with fennel sausage, Parmesan and tomato gravy over soft polenta … the breakfast menu at the new Trattoria al Forno offers American favorites along with some classic Italian tastes. Opening day is December 18.

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“Fresh ingredients are key,” says Chef Dee Foundoukis. You can get a classic American breakfast with bacon and eggs, but we wanted to offer some Italian tastes, too.” Like the frittata and the scrambled eggs with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. (Our favorite is the cured Italian meats with tomatoes, hard-boiled egg and cheese with fonduta, a warm, cheesy sauce for dipping bread.)

The spacious, family-friendly dining room is inspired by farms in the Italian countryside, with a big open kitchen and the smell of wood burning in the oven. It’s a terrific spot to fuel up for a day in the theme parks.

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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Recipe Just in Time for Holidays from The Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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


‘Tis the season for parties and sharing indulgent bites, from savory to sweet. This is one of our favorites from The Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where Pastry Chef Andreas Born works his magic with chocolate, toffee and bananas – a trifecta of deliciousness.

The Hollywood Brown Derby is tops for dining at the theme park, with an all-day menu featuring original creations such as blue lump crab springs rolls, Scotch maple-glazed Loch Duart Salmon and pan-seared, coriander-crusted black grouper. But you can also get a simple grilled burger (it just happens to be Wagyu beef and topped with a fried egg) and the ever-classic Cobb Salad, made from the same recipe as the original in Hollywood, California.

Watch Chef Andreas create this beautiful and tasty sweet finish – he tops with fancy bites, but you can rest assured it’s just as delicious without. It take a little time to make the mousse, but the result is worth it.

For reservations at The Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant, call 407-WDW-DINE or visit disneyworld.com.

Banana Toffee Mousse on Cocoa Crunch
Serves 12

  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 medium bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 12 tablespoons crushed chocolate cookies
  • 1/2 cup chocolate-covered toffee pieces
  1. Place white chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water, making sure bottom of bowl does not touch water. Melt chocolate, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Place eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in double boiler over simmering water; whisk for 4 minutes and remove from heat.
  3. Sprinkle gelatin over hot water in a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. Microwave 10 seconds, stirring gelatin until melted. Set aside.
  4. Beat eggs and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy. Stir in gelatin mixture, then mashed bananas. Fold in melted white chocolate.
  5. Whip heavy cream to soft peaks in a separate large bowl. Gently fold whipped cream into banana mixture to create mousse. Divide mixture in half.
  6. Spoon 1 tablespoon chocolate cookie crumbs in the bottom of 12 1/2-cup ramekins. Evenly top each with half of mousse. Add thin layer of toffee pieces. Repeat process with remaining mousse.
  7. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
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Hearty Pozole Soup, the Perfect Fall Supper from Paradise Garden Grill at Disney California Adventure Park

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


At Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, we rejoice in fall’s dip in temperature – nothing dramatic, but the perfect excuse to bring out the soup recipes.

Paradise Garden Grill is offering this classic Mexican soup as part of Disney ¡Viva Navidad! at Disney California Adventure park. It is also offered at Rancho Del Zocalo Restaurante in Disneyland park on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Since it’s not always there, here’s the recipe for you to try at home. And it’s even better the second day. Pozole (or posole) is a hearty hybrid of soup and stew with chewy hominy and tender pork – the fresh garnishes add crunch and freshness.

Pozole
Serves 8 to 10

  • 2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled, and split lengthwise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt, divided
  • 6 dried Guajillo chiles
  • 2 dried ancho or New Mexico chiles
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, cut into large pieces
  • 3 medium or 2 large plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise and cored
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white hominy, drained and rinsed

Garnishes

  • 1/2 small head green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 6 radishes, sliced thinly
  • 3 limes, quartered
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, large stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
  1. Rinse diced pork under cold water until water runs clear. Transfer pork to a large stock pot over medium-high heat; add 8 cups cold water. Bring to a simmer; skim off and discard foam and solids that float to surface.
  2. Stir in garlic, bay leaves, onion, cumin, and 1 tablespoon salt. Turn heat to medium to keep soup at a light simmer. Cover and simmer 90 minutes (do not boil). Periodically skim foam from surface.
  3. Meanwhile, remove and discard stems, seeds, and large veins from dried chiles. Break into large pieces in a medium saucepan and add 3 cups water. Top with sweet onion, tomatoes, and garlic cloves, keeping chiles submerged. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Working in 2 batches, puree chile mixture with cooking liquid in a blender until smooth. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into soup pot, pressing solids with back of spoon to extract liquid.
  5. Simmer soup for 90 minutes, then stir in black pepper, oregano, and hominy. Taste and season with additional salt, if desired.
  6. Remove a piece of pork and taste for doneness. If meat is not tender, simmer 15 to 20 minutes more.
  7. Serve hot soup with garnishes for topping.
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What’s That Amazing Smell – Chocolate! It’s Gingerbread Display Time at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on November 3rd, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Pastry Chef Jeff Barnes, the master of all things sweet at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, is in the kitchen cooking up this year’s gingerbread extravaganza … well, at least we think he is. Take a look at this video – that’s Walt Disney Imagineer Joseph Konopka bringing something “Frozen” for Chef Jeff to work into his creative thinking. Joseph and Chef Jeff teamed up for the masterpiece that debuts November 13 in the fourth floor atrium of Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

More details to come as Chef Jeff builds his sweet concoction – but we can guarantee there will be plenty of chocolate. Any guesses?

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