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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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Final Phase of Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows Opens Today

posted on July 1st, 2015 by Amanda Adler, Public Relations Manager


The final phase of Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, the newest Disney Vacation Club property at the Walt Disney World Resort opened today, marking the completion of all 360 Deluxe Studios at the resort.

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I recently had the opportunity to stay in one of the resort’s Deluxe Studios and it was truly a fantastic experience. During my stay, I zipped over to Epcot via the monorail and made it back in time to watch the Magic Kingdom Park fireworks from the resort. I strolled along the resort’s beach area and tested out room service (late-night pizza was fantastic, but not as yummy as eating Tonga Toast in bed the next morning). At Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort I took my son on his first pontoon boat ride on Seven Seas Lagoon, spoiled his lunch by getting him a Dole Whip from Pineapple Lanai and sampled drinks on the outdoor patio of the new Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.

In addition to the resort’s unbeatable location and fun amenities, the features within our villa make this my favorite Disney Vacation Club Deluxe Studio to date. We especially enjoyed the spacious split bath design, the hidden pull-down bunk-size bed and the kitchenette (the fridge would have been perfect for our leftover take-out pizza, had we not polished the whole thing off right away).

Want to see more? Take a tour of this unique accommodation in this video.

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Filed: Disney Dining, Disney Vacation Club, Epcot, Hotels & Resorts, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

S’Mores Are a Treat This July at the Disneyland Resort

posted on June 29th, 2015 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


Fans of our S’mores gourmet apple, prepare yourselves – this summer is about to get even better as we “treat” you to a few other surprises from our candy kitchens at the Disneyland Resort! Our candy makers have come up with some new concoctions inspired by some of your favorite gourmet apple flavors. Joining the S’mores apple for the month of July will be a similarly themed (and tasty) marshmallow wand, crispy treat and bark.

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The gourmet apple and marshmallow wand are dipped in caramel and milk chocolate, then carefully layered with graham crackers and toasted mini marshmallows. You’ll notice that the crispy treat is prepared almost identically, without the caramel. How could we possibly top all of that? With milk chocolate drizzle, of course!

Looking for something with a bit more “bark” than bite?

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The S’mores bark is made of milk chocolate and marshmallow, topped with graham cracker pieces as well as toasted mini marshmallows.

You won’t have to “camp out” to enjoy these new treats – look for them beginning July 1 at Candy Palace on Main Street, U.S.A., and Hunny Spot in Critter Country in Disneyland park; Trolley Treats in Disney California Adventure park; and Marceline’s Confectionery in the Downtown Disney District.

Which one will you try first?

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disney Dining, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney District

No Reservation? No Problem! Unique Breakfasts at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 25th, 2015 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


It’s no secret that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Last year, I wrote about some of my favorite places to grab breakfast before a day in the parks at Walt Disney World Resort. Today, I have a few unique breakfast picks to share with you — all available without a dining reservation.

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What is your favorite quick-service breakfast at Walt Disney World Resort? Let us know in the comments below!

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First Look: New Menu Items at The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on June 25th, 2015 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


There’s no better place in Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see and be seen than The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge. Especially with the addition of small plates and beverages with the newly renovated outdoor bar.

New small plates include grilled Bloody Mary-marinated shrimp and chorizo and heirloom tomatoes on toasted ciabatta with garlic herb butter and a new seasonal soup — Zellwood Corn Bisque, served with a corn and lobster fritter and Ancho chili oil. Or share the Crispy Bites, featuring parmesan and goat cheese risotto sticks with a peach-habanero chili sauce, Brie with a sweet onion and orange jam, and affiné blue and mushroom arancini with a fig and balsamic dip. These new tastes join favorites like The Famous Hollywood Brown Derby Cobb Salad, Derby Sliders, and Artisanal Cheeses and Charcuterie Board.

New additions to the drink menu include a Mint Julep made with premium reserve bourbon; the new Bloody Mary turns up the heat with pepper-infused vodka and a garnish of olives, spicy pickles, and pickled green beans; a Champagne Cocktail with sweet and floral elderflower liqueur and Fairytale by Iron Horse Celebration Cuvee (exclusive to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts); Sangria; and, my favorite, the Grapefruit Cake Martini — a delicious twist on the classic dessert.

Stop by The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge to take in the sights, sounds and tastes of Hollywood and leave feeling like a star!

First Look: New Menu Items at The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge First Look: New Menu Items at The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge First Look: New Menu Items at The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge
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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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Filed: Disney Dining, Epcot, Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort

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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Moms Panel Monday: Planning for a Birthday at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 22nd, 2015 by Jamie Langdon, Social Media Manager


Celebrating a birthday at Walt Disney World Resort is an unforgettable experience, and there are so many great options on how to personalize for the guest(s) of honor. So much so, that it can be tough to decide what’s the best fit for your group! The real parents who make up the Disney Parks Moms Panel can give tips and advice on how to make special arrangements, and in this edition of Moms Panel Monday several panelists help a guest who wants to plan a birthday celebration for teens who happen to have a strict diet. From private surfing lessons at Typhoon Lagoon to a vegan-friendly meal at Sanaa, they provide ideas that will make the special day even more memorable!

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Zuri’s Sweets Shop Now Open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 22nd, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Zuri’s Sweets Shop recently opened its doors in Harambe Market at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to showcase a bevy of new animal-inspired treats.

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The location features 80 new items, including decorative candy apples, uniquely flavored chocolate bars, African-spiced popcorn, animal-shaped lollipops, animal crackers, chocolate mini crocodiles and other treats. Zuri’s Sweets Shop will also offer African spice rubs, a gourmet cocoa set and Flame Tree Barbeque sauce.

Which item are you most excited to try? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Starbucks Opens, Flat White Lattes To Help Endangered Species

posted on June 19th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Beginning today, guests can enjoy Starbucks beverages at Creature Comforts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom while supporting conservation efforts for the cotton-top tamarin – a critically endangered species of monkey that resides in South America.

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Starbucks Opens, Flat White Lattes To Help Endangered Species Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Starbucks Opens, Flat White Lattes To Help Endangered Species

The menu will include regular Starbucks coffee and espresso beverages, Frappuccino blended beverages, breakfast sandwiches and pastries, as well as treats crafted by Disney chefs. A portion of the sale of each Starbucks Flat White Latte at the reopened Creature Comforts will benefit conservation programs already underway to help preserve the cotton-top tamarin in Colombia. This drink was specifically selected from other menu choices because of the cotton-top tamarin’s fluffy white crests that appear on their heads.

Located on Discovery Island area of the park, Creature Comforts will reflect the theming of the park with African design elements such as geometric designs and carvings, warm colors, African maasai shield designs and hand-painted coffee beans.

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