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?
1. More time to play
All Disneyland Resort hotel guests enjoy admission to select attractions, stores, entertainment and dining locations in Disneyland or Disney California Adventure parks for one full hour before the parks open to the general public on select days!
2. A warm welcome
Everyone knows that a stay in a Disneyland Resort hotel begins with a warm “Welcome!” from the cast members at the front desk. At Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, more than 50 of these cast members have learned to say “welcome” in 10 different languages to make all guests feel at home.
“Guests visit the Disneyland Resort Hotels from all over the world,” says Guest Services Manager Brian Elling. “When a cast member says ‘welcome’ in a guest’s own language, it creates an instant connection with the guest and puts them at ease.”
3. Surf’s Up!
Did you know that the PCH Grill at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is the only dining location at the Disneyland Resort where you can enjoy a meal with Mickey Mouse? The Surf’s Up! Mickey and Friends Breakfast is an all-you-care-to-eat breakfast experience, and seeing Mickey Mouse himself dressed in his beachy best is a perfect way to start surfing your way through a fantastic day at the Disneyland Resort.
“You definitely get to have a full experience with our characters during the breakfast,” says PCH Grill Area Manager Stacey Edwards. “Every guest gets to see Mickey in our photo location when they come in, and while they’re eating, guests can even get up and dance with the characters!”
4. Closer to the magic
Staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel puts you just steps away from all there is to do at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks and the Downtown Disney District. Plus, you’re surrounded by all the special Disney details that make the Disneyland Resort such a magical place to be – you never have to leave the Happiest Place on Earth until it’s time to go home!
Thirsty travelers over 21 years of age can order a Shipwreck on the Rocks or Krakatoa Punch at this tropical oasis at the Disneyland Hotel. But be careful, because the tiki gods might just create a fearsome lightning storm (complete with thunder and a sinking ship in a bottle) or cause a volcano eruption.
“We’re ex-skipper captains from the Jungle Cruise,” explains Bartender Roy Hanzal. “We kept wrecking the boats, so Trader Sam sent us over here to serve drinks to the guests instead.”
6. Kids have a getaway of their own
Pinocchio’s Workshop offers supervised play and themed activities each evening for children (ages 5 – 12) of hotel guests, providing parents an opportunity to have their own adventures. This fun-filled child activity center is located at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa but is open to guests staying at any of the three hotels of the Disneyland Resort.
7. A ‘Signature’ experience
While every guest room at a Disneyland Resort hotel includes special Disney touches, the six themed Signature Suites at the Disneyland Hotel fully immerse guests in the magic of Disneyland. From the replica of Davy Jones’ Dead Man’s Chest in the Pirates of the Caribbean Suite to a twinkling Tinker Bell turning on the lights of the Sleeping Beauty Castle model in the Fairy Tale Suite, it would take much longer than one night to see all the details in these extraordinary suites.
8. Something special for fitness fanatics
While a walk in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks is a great way to stay in shape during a vacation, a power walk before a park opens to the public is a special treat. The early-morning Get Up and Go Power Walk through Disney California Adventure Park and Fitness Fusion class at the outdoor fireplace at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa are open to guests at all three hotels.
9. See more with a tour
The Happiest Hotel on Earth tour at the Disneyland Hotel teaches guests about the history and heritage of the hotel, while the Art of the Craft tour at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa shows the influence of the Arts and Crafts Movement on the hotel. These tours are complimentary and available on select days to all guests, including those not staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, though reservations are encouraged.
10. Time for a bedtime story
Everyone loves a good story — and there’s nothing quite like having your own personal storyteller at bedtime. Guests cuddle up with blankets and gather in the rocking chairs around the stone fireplace in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa to hear Tales from the Hearth. It’s a great way for the whole family to wind down after a day at the parks. But if you miss it, no fear: just turn to the designated channel on your TV at any of the three Disneyland Resort hotels to hear Disney’s Princess Story Time. What better way to have sweet dreams?
Special thanks to my fellow cast member, Madeline Des Jardins, for providing these great tips!
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, is a Hawaiian experience with that touch of Disney magic that makes your island vacation unforgettable. Todayʻs exciting news highlights that touch of Disney magic here in paradise. For the first time in history, Aulani will have a Disney Ambassador to represent our Disney resort and engage our guests, cast and communities. For those of you who may not know the role of a Disney Ambassador, the tradition dates back to 1965 when Walt Disney first selected a cast member to serve as the official spokesperson and representative at Disneyland park.
Janelle Sanqui, Aulani’s first Disney Ambassador, currently works in Workforce Management at the resort and was born in Hawaii. She lived in California before returning to to the islands nearly 10 years ago. Her previous experience includes two years as a parade performer at the Disneyland Resort, and she was part of our Aulani entertainment team when we opened in 2011.
What better way to begin a new year than with a visit to the Disneyland Resort? If you’re planning a vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth between January and March, I’ve got some great offers to share with you!
First, you can save up to 25 percent on premium rooms at Disneyland Resort hotels on select nights, Sunday through Thursday, for travel from January 4 – February 12, 2015.
If your travel plans fall later in the winter, you can save up to 20 percent on premium rooms at Disneyland Resort hotels on select nights, Sunday through Thursday, for travel from February 13 – March 26, 2015.
To take advantage of these savings, be sure to book today through February 12, 2015. You can make reservations online here.
*Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room at the same hotel for select Sunday through Thursday nights between 1/04/15 – 03/26/15. Book from 10/29/15 through 02/12/15, with travel completed by 03/27/15. 25% savings available on Premium, Deluxe and Woods/Garden/Courtyard rooms; select Concierge rooms; and Paradise, Artisan and Regal suites for travel between 01/04/15 to 2/12/15 and 20% savings available on Premium, Deluxe and Woods/Garden/Courtyard rooms; select Concierge rooms; and Paradise, Artisan and Regal suites for travel between 02/13/15 to 3/26/15. Ask about savings in other room types. Not valid on previously booked rooms. Advance reservations required. Subject to availability as the number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Excludes applicable fees and taxes. Limit two (2) rooms per reservation and five (5) people maximum per room. Not valid in combination with any other hotel discounts or offers. Subject to restrictions and change without notice. Separate Theme Park admission required to enjoy the Parks.
The spiffing-up began earlier this year at Steakhouse 55, one of the finest restaurants at the Disneyland Resort: new carpet, new chairs, new dishes, new silverware – “It’s almost like opening a new restaurant,” says Chef Marcel St. Pierre.
Chef Marcel took the helm in early 2014 and has been working on the new menu for nearly four months, side-by-side with manager and sommelier Brian Van Amber. And now, with extensive training for the staff complete in everything from guest service to wine pairings, Chef Marcel says they’re ready to launch tomorrow.
While a handful of dishes may sound familiar (Baltimore crab cake, filet mignon, slow-roasted prime rib), every single dish on the menu has been refined, says Chef Marcel. You’ll still find Tiger Prawns, but they’re served with a new Bloody Mary cocktail sauce, shallot mignonette and lemon gelée. The new pan-roasted pork belly appetizer comes with truffle mascarpone, green apple and pickled black kale. Chef Marcel is especially proud of the new smoked filet mignon tartare, the meat arriving tableside under a crystal dome. When the dome is lifted, there’s the aroma of smoke as the dish is gently tossed tableside with mustard aioli and cage-free egg yolk, then served with shaved rye croutons.
A clever new appetizer is ratatouille “meatballs,” made with finely chopped mushrooms, lentils, carrots, celery, onions and a little bread crumbs. The meatballs are served with zucchini spaghetti, vegan Bolognese and a shave of Parmesan (request no Parmesan for the perfect vegan starter).
Hearts of romaine is the Steakhouse 55 version of the classic Caesar, with Castelvetrano olives from Italy, crispy bacon lardons and Caesar dressing. The new French onion soup gets a hearty seasonal vibe with cream and chicken stock, served with grilled onions and California Muenster cheese focaccia.
You’ll still see the classic cuts of meat: filet mignon, bone-in ribeye, New York strip, prime rib, Porterhouse. But the classic cuts receive a special twist, like a hickory-molasses rub on the New York strip. King salmon is crusted with fava bean and rye. Lamb chops are roasted with garlic “dust” and peppercorn. Each cut of beef is beautifully garnished with roasted bone marrow (with a tiny fork for scooping out the rich center) topped with lemon gremolata.
Some of the new sides to share the spotlight are a truffled mac ‘n cheese, flash-fried spinach, and the Delmonico Gruyère Casserole — a decadent, cheesy side made with fingerling potatoes, Applewood smoked bacon and fresh thyme. Duck-fat fries come with blood orange sabayon for dipping; the mashed potatoes have a new mushroom-infused gravy.
Dessert isn’t an afterthought, and while the legendary 24-Layer Cake stays on the menu, it’s now served with spiced pumpkin gelato and roca (almond butter-crunch toffee). Chef Marcel thinks the new warm apple butter cake will be another home run, served right out of the oven with a scoop of Bourbon ice cream and a side of crème Anglaise. Or try the banana mascarpone cheesecake with caramel glaze, honey-dipped pecans and butterscotch sauce.
The new, three-course Steakhouse 55 Chef’s Tasting for $55 ($85 with wine pairings) makes it easy to choose: start with the Fifty-Five Salad (ruby beets and feta cheese with apricot granola and citrus vinaigrette); next, the braised short rib Bourguignon with roasted root vegetables, and finish with crème brûlèe served with pear marmalade, candied bacon madeleine and cranberry compote.
The new Steakhouse 55 has been a real team effort,” says Chef Marcel. “We hope we’ve created a fantastic new dining experience for our guests.”
The magic of a vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, is at the top of any must-do list for families looking for a once-in-a-lifetime getaway. With included amenities designed for every age like Aunty’s Beach House, Painted Sky and the Aulani Starlit Hui, it’s no surprise that Orbitz recently recognized this beautiful Hawaiian resort with the 2014 Orbitz Best in Stay Elite Award!
The 2014 Best in Stay Awards recognize up to five properties in each category, and Aulani earned the Elite Award for being the highest-rated hotel in the Family category. Each of the winners were selected based on hotel reviews submitted by Orbitz customers and travel experts, spanning 75 of the most popular destinations in the world.
If your bags aren’t packed yet, there is still time to book a consecutive four-night stay at this award-winning resort and receive the fourth night free! This offer is available to book through October 30, 2014, for most vacations to Aulani through December 22, 2014. Don’t forget – you can also upgrade to a one- or two-bedroom villa and receive a $100 per night resort credit, in addition to your free night. Learn more about this limited-time offer here!
What does your family love most about a vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa? Tell us in the comments below!
In case you can’t make it to Disneyland Resort to taste all the delectable pumpkin treats we mentioned in last week’s pumpkin cheesecake recipe post, here’s one more recipe we just had to share just in time for National Pumpkin Day (Oct. 26): hearty pumpkin muffins packed with the flavors of sweet golden raisins, nutmeg and cinnamon. A crunch of streusel on top makes them perfect with coffee to start the day.
You’ll find these pumpkin muffins in Disneyland park at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café and the Cappuccino Cart in the Hub. At Disney California Adventure park, they’re at Schmoozies and Pacific Wharf Café. You can also find them at White Water Snacks at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Surfside Lounge at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel.
But if you can’t make it to Disneyland Resort, whip up a batch and enjoy – maximum flavor, minimum guilt.
Pumpkin Muffins Makes 12 muffins
1 cup cake flour
1 cup bread flour (may substitute all-purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 5-ounce can pumpkin purée
1 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 375°F and line a muffin pan with paper liners. Set aside.
Sift together cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a large bowl. Set aside.
Beat together sugar and eggs until pale yellow in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Blend in oil and pumpkin purée until mixture is smooth.
Blend half of flour mixture into egg mixture until just combined. Scrape sides of bowl, then stir in raisins. Add remaining flour mixture to batter, mixing just until combined.
Scoop batter into prepared muffin pan, filling about 3/4 full.
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Mash butter with a fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon streusel on each muffin.
Bake 18 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 325°F and bake 5 minutes more or until golden brown.
Disney Parks Blog authors have recently shared details about the Halloween tricks and treats taking place this year at Disney Parks & Resorts around the world. Today, I’m excited to “carry the banner” and pass along details about the festivities materializing at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawai`i! And the best part? Like most activities during a vacation to Aulani, these special Halloween events are included with your stay!
Keiki Halloween Party – On October 17, 24 and 31, the Halawai Lawn transforms into a frightfully fun party perfect for the entire family. Adults and keiki staying at Aulani are encouraged to dress up for craft activities, game stations and face painting. Be sure to bring your cameras and autograph books as well because some of your favorite Disney characters are making special appearances!
Hallow “Teen” – Teens ages 13-17 celebrate the Halloween season on October 24, 26 and 28 with their own exclusive party. They’ll meet up at Makiki Joe’s Beach Rental and then head to the beach for a pumpkin sand sculpting contest and other surprises.
Trick or Treat – If you are vacationing at Aulani on Halloween, don’t miss the chance to go trick-or-treating! A special map showcases all the treat locations and you can show your “Disney Side” by wearing a Halloween costume.
Be sure to check The Daily ‘Iwa upon your arrival for any more spooky surprises taking place during your vacation this October!
Opening day is set for December 18 for Trattoria al Forno, the new restaurant at Disney’s BoardWalk that will showcase classic Italian cuisine including handcrafted mozzarella made daily, fresh cavatelli pasta and pizzas baked in wood-burning ovens.
Open daily for breakfast and dinner, with reservations starting October 21, Chef Dee Foundoukis and her team in Trattoria al Forno’s kitchen are creating a true taste of all of Italy’s diverse regions.
We’re so excited to finally share the menu with you – in upcoming posts we’ll be sharing details from Walt Disney Imagineering about the décor and more as we get closer to opening. And some delicious recipes for you to try at home!