Saturday, August 23
11am – 4pm
Orange County Convention Center
Hall D2 West Concourse
Online Ticket Sales End Friday at 5pm
($10 Adult, $5 Kids)
Tickets Available at the Door
($15 Adults, $10 Kids)
*There is a discounted community parking fee of $9.00 if you choose to park at the Convention Center.
Come see the O-Town MacDown, a delicious “food fight” cooking competition featuring professional chefs and restaurants as well as home cooks and non-profit organizations who will duke it out to the very end to be named Orlando’s Mac-n-Cheese Champion.
Prizes will be awarded in various categories, and the event will include live entertainment, celebrity chef cooking demonstrations, live performances, a kids’ fun zone including face painting, bounce houses and macaroni art station, theme park character meet-and-greets and vendor booths.
Presenting sponsor SeaWorld along with Give Kids The World invite the general public to come sample the cheesiest mac-n-cheese that area culinary combatants have to offer at this cooking challenge.
Attendance and participation benefits Give Kids The World Village, a 70-acre, nonprofit resort in Central Florida that provides weeklong, cost-free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.
Win a $10 Krystal Gift card to celebrate the Krystal Crave Cruiser giving away 10,000 of chain’s newest burger
The Krystal Company is going on tour to celebrate Krystal Stackers, a new take on its iconic burgers with double the juicy grilled-to-order beef, yet served on the classic, fresh-baked bun that makes a Krystal, a Krystal. The Atlanta-based company will give away 10,000 burgers to lucky fans at 10 stops in 10 cities throughout the Southeast.
Krystal will rev up its Krystal Crave Cruiser – a literal restaurant on wheels – for the tour and give away 1,000 free Stackers in each city, from Atlanta to Orlando. In total, the Cruiser will travel more than 2,000 miles to introduce customers to the Stacker line.
“Stackers are a great new taste experience that we wanted to share – and in a big way,” said Krystal President and CEO Doug Pendergast. “With double the flavor, served piping hot and, during the great Stackers Taste Tour, completely free, we know they’ll gain quite a following.”
The Krystal Cruiser’s crew will hand out free Stackers along with Krystal T-shirts, coupons and other giveaways. A pace car will follow, broadcasting sights, sounds and stops along the way on Krystal’s social media sites. Fans can follow the tour on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at #LetsKrystal #StackerTour.
The Krystal Stacker Tour will be in Orlando on June 21, 2014 when the Krystal Crave Cruiser will be at the Walmart 11250 E. Colonial Drive!
I had the chance to give the Krystal Stacker a try, and it is definitely one of my new favorites (although nothing can replace my love of the chili cheese pup)!
And now it’s your chance to win a $10 Krystal Gift Card to try the Krystal Stacker yourself!
We are giving away one (1) $10 gift card to Krystal. This contest open to Residents of the United States who are eighteen(18) years and older. Void where prohibited by law. We use rafflecopter to choose one lucky winner at random, and each & every contest entry will be verified. The winner of our contest will be contacted by email (so be sure to double check your entry) and will have 48 hours to respond to the email or a new winner will be chosen. Any questions? Contact email@example.com
If you have never eaten from a local Food Truck before, specifically one in Orlando, then you are missing out! There are many amazing gourmet trucks to be found, from BBQ, to Sushi, to burgers, to dessert trucks, there are many options for you to try! The best way to be able to try a range of all they offer is to attend a food truck night. A lot of local communities have organized monthly food truck events now, or there are food truck bazaars that travel around major locations around central Florida bringing a huge selection of trucks to your local Malls or Downtown areas.
My husband and I love to go round to the food truck events, so I thought for those of you who haven’t done that before, that I would compile a list of tips for attending a food truck night. I could think of many, but I will keep it to just 10 so it can hopefully help start you off, in descending order…
Tip Number 10:
Look up ahead of time where your nearest Food Truck event will be. A quick search online will lead you to many sites that will list where they are and when.
Tip Number 9:
Come Hungry! Sounds silly but you will find so many dishes you will want to try, from all different trucks, so bring your hunger and prepare to be amazed at what you will find.
Bring chairs and/or tables. This is something you may not think would be useful, but these events can take place among lake sides, parking lots, downtown areas, and many do not have any seats available. Bringing chairs, or even blankets, mean you can hang out more and relax while you try your selections. This is especially helpful if you have children or elderly friends or family members who would prefer the comfort of a chair and table.
Tip Number 7:
Bring friends or family! If you come in groups, it means everyone can maximize their options as you can split dishes and get to try things that normally you wouldn’t get to if you were only choosing one item.
Bring an umbrella in the car or in your bag with you. Many food truck nights take place during the summer months in which we have our torrential downpours in the afternoons/early evenings. Most of these nights the trucks continue come rain or shine, so don’t let the rain put you off!
Tip Number 5:
Bring cash or cards. The majority of the trucks accept cash and credit cards now, so no need to stop at the ATM if you don’t have cash, just bring a major credit card and you’ll be good to go! Many will even email the receipt directly to you, and you can even add gratuity to these also.
Don’t stop at the first truck you see, its true that you will most likely find options at every truck you like the sound of, but walk around all the trucks first and see what they have. You will be surprised how many options there are, and for many diets too!
Tip Number 3:
Do you own a dog? Bring them with you! Not only may your dog love to socialize with the others there, but there are sometimes dog specialty food trucks also, featuring organic treats and refreshments for your best friend!
Arrive early to avoid lines! Many food truck nights can get very busy, especially ones close to downtown areas where people can walk by on their way home from work. Getting there at the beginning of the night is always best if you can, the later it gets the longer the lines get, and since most of the items are cooked fresh for you, there may be a long wait if you arrive later on.
Tip Number 1:
Social media! Many, if not all, of the food trucks use social media to get the word out about not only which locations they will be in, but also what new menu items they will feature and any special offers going on. Its also a great way to keep in touch with your favorite truck, or to ask any questions ahead of time. They tend to monitor them closely so don’t expect a long wait to hear back from them, whether its Twitter, Facebook or emailing, they will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. If you look at the trucks, many will have decals and wraps stating how to contact them online.
Now all that is left for you to do is start looking up where your local food truck event is. Whether it’s in Orlando, Chicago or L.A, there are many out there to find, you will not be disappointed! Good luck and remember….arrive hungry!
While I have found some ‘Theme Park Friendly’ options for snacks to bring with us into the parks for Zoe, finding snacks that I enjoy taking to the parks has proven to be quite the quest until I found Mario Snack Olives!
Theme Park Friendly snacks, for our family, are ones that don’t melt, aren’t sticky, don’t require us to have a table to eat them, and can be eaten without preparation.
Packaged without the typical brine, the Snack Olives are easy to open, easily fit into my park bag, and come in a variety of flavors sure to make any olive lover happy!
Here are some of my favorite ways to bring Mario Snack Olives as I am On the Go in the Theme Parks!
If we are going to be in the parks all day, I like to pack a heavy snack to keep our blood sugar (and mood) up! I can’t tell you how many times this snack has salvaged our day in the park! Using inexpensive containers that stack nicely in my park bag, each member of our family gets their own treat with what they enjoy!
I like to add Mario Snack Olives to my salads! Since they are packaged without a lot of mess, it is easy to tear open a pouch to add an extra kick to my salad!
And finally, they are delicious on their own! I am guilty of opening a pouch to snack on while I am waiting in a queue or for a parade!
Want to give Mario Snack Olives a try? You can find them here on Amazon, in 7/11 stores in the Tampa, Lakeland and Miami areas, or by entering our Giveaway!
Last month on the Disney Parks Blog, a post was published about new menu items at the Biergarten in Epcot. Included in this article was a recipe for the new to the buffet nudel gratin. Looking at the pictures alone made me hungry for this Disney dish, so I decided to give it a shot making it at home.
Here is the recipe from the Parks Blog:
Nudel Gratin Serves 8 to 10
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch ground white pepper
4 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded
4 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 pound cooked elbow macaroni
Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a 16×9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
Combine cream, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a large bowl, whisking to combine. Toss cheeses together in a small bowl until combined; remove 1 cup cheese and set aside. Stir remaining cheeses into cream mixture.
Cook macaroni until just tender; drain and add cream mixture, stirring immediately. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil.
Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil, and sprinkle reserved cheese over top of noodles. Bake 15 minutes longer.
Cool 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve warm.
My Disney Dish: Nudel Gratin
Nudel gratin is essentially a form of macaroni in cheese to put it in its simplest terms. The basics are there with elbow macaroni pasta, cheese, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg and eggs. I have made mac and cheese from scratch before, but had forgotten how much time it takes in comparison to opening a box of Kraft or heating up Stouffer’s frozen mac and cheese. Make sure you read through the entire recipe including the instructions and not just the ingredients before you start cooking. I made the mistake of not doing so and didn’t realize until I was ready for it that I was out of aluminum foil and had to go out and get some even though the food was ready to go in the oven. I don’t think it had any adverse affect delaying the baking, but it made dinner later, which was annoying. So make sure you have your baking dish, mixing bowls, cooking spray, aluminum foil, etc. all ready to go along with your ingredients.
Since I couldn’t find shredded white cheddar or swiss cheese with the other shredded cheeses at Publix, I bought blocks of each type of cheese and ended up grating them myself. This also added just a couple minutes to the relatively quick prep time of otherwise about 15-20 minutes. Most of the prep time was taken up by preheating the oven while waiting for the water to boil and cooking the pasta. While these were happening that didn’t need active supervision, I combined the cream, eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cheeses. Total start to finish time with preheating, prep work, baking and cooling should take about an hour and ten minutes, so make sure you set aside a good amount of time before dinner to start.
Overall, my brother and I thought it turned out well, and we would definitely have it again. We served it with ham and peas with a chardonnay, which seemed to complement the pasta dish well. Have you tried to make your favorite Disney dish at home? I’ve tried a few with varying degrees of success, but this was one of the best results and best tasting recipes I’ve made from Walt Disney World. Give it a try if you’re looking for a relatively easy, albeit time consuming, dish to start.
If you are like me, and you are finding yourself at Walt Disney World over Thanksgiving and don’t have set plans yet, don’t fret. There are great dining options across property in both the parks and resorts. Some are even still available for dinner reservations at this point in time (11pm Wednesday, 11/14) (subject to change of course). Even if you don’t want to make a reservation for some of the restaurants for a Thanksgiving lunch or dinner, there are counter service locations that can still fill your craving for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
Character Thanksgiving Meals
Some of the character meals across the parks and resorts are getting special treatment just for Thanksgiving. They offer holiday menus with many having traditional meals, with others focusing more on their own twist on the holiday fare. At the Contemporary Resort, Chef Mickey’s buffet is offering a Thanksgiving dinner. Across Bay Lake at Fort Wilderness, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ becomes Mickey’s Backyard Thanksgiving feast featuring turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and many of your favorites. In the parks, Tusker House, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, is having Donald’s Dining Safari Thanksgiving Lunch and then a non-character Thanksgiving meal for dinner. Walt Disney World Swan’s Garden Grove is having a character buffet dinner as well.
Table Service Thanksgiving Meals
Many of the restaurants in the parks are also providing meal options for the holiday. In the Magic Kingdom, Liberty Tree Tavern has both family style lunch and dinners. Also, the Diamond Horseshoe is hosting a table service dinner. At Epcot, the Biergarten in Germany has both Thanksgiving lunch and dinner options. Hollywood Studios has their buffet open for lunch and dinner as well as the Fantasmic dinner package. And, as already mentioned, in the Animal Kingdom, Tusker House is offering their dinner buffet.
At the resorts is where you will find most of the special holiday menus being offered. Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has a special prix fixe menu. Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club has a dinner buffet and the Captain’s Grille at the Yacht Club is serving both lunch and dinner buffets. At the Grand Floridian, Citrico’s has a prix fixe dinner menu. Also with a prix fixe menu is Flying Fish Cafe at the Boardwalk. For some a la carte menu options you could try lunch or dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe. Still at that resort for dinner you can have a Thanksgiving dinner at Narcoossee’s. Trail’s End at Fort Wilderness is having a lunch and dinner buffet. At the Polynesian you have lunch or dinner at Kona Cafe, Olivia’s at Old Key West is also serving both meals, as are Sanaa at Kidani Village, the Wave at the Contemporary and the Turf Club at Saratoga Springs. For more family style meals, check out either Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge for lunch or dinner, or dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Yacht Club.
Are you staying at the Walt Disney World Swan or Dolphin? If so, don’t worry, they have great options too! Fresh Mediterranean Market at the Dolphin is having a lunch buffet. The Swan’s Il Mulino is serving Thanksgiving dinner a la carte as is the Dolphin’s Todd English’s bluezoo. Downtown Disney even has some options for you at the House of Blues for dinner and Planet Hollywood for both lunch and dinner.
Counter Service Thanksgiving Meals
So, what if you, like me, have waited til the last minute and maybe there aren’t reservations available for your party of five? Don’t worry, Disney has that covered too. In Epcot, Sunshine Seasons, one of my favorite counter service options already, is supposed to be offering a special holiday menu too. Don’t want to go to a park, there’s a resort that has your name written all over it. At Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, the End Zone Food Court is even getting into the holiday meal spirit with a Thanksgiving dinner from noon until 10pm with turkey, mashed potatoes, candied yams, vegetables, cranberry sauce, rolls and your choice of either apple or pumpkin pie for only $10.99 for guests 10 and up and $5.99 for children 3 to 9 (prices, times and menu items subject to change without notice).
All in all, it looks like Walt Disney World has some pretty great options of many varieties of cuisine and location for just about any appetite. Many of these options are on the Disney Dining Plan and as I mentioned, a few are even still available at this time. If you find yourself at WDW over the holiday, have a Happy Thanksgiving and happy eating!
Recently I went to Carmel Café & Wine Bar in Sarasota for a friend’s birthday lunch. It was my first time visiting the restaurant and was very pleasantly surprised by what I encountered. The aesthetics were nice and it was welcoming and comforting from when you enter. What I was most excited about after I walked in was seeing the stack of Apple iPads on a table by the hostess stand.
I immediately asked the hostess jokingly if we got iPads to play with during our meal. Surprisingly, she said we got one, but not to play with. She explained as she escorted us to our table that the iPads are used for ordering. The menus are all on there along with the ability to order.
I had a new toy to play with during lunch and couldn’t wait to explore the functionality! The menus were very clearly laid out and featured full color pictures as well as written descriptions of each menu item. You could swipe from right to left to select the next category from appetizers to entrees, beverages to dessert. You also have the ability to search from the menu at the top and quickly jump to the desired category instead of scrolling through them.
This was such an awesome experience! To be able to control your food and the timing and not have to depend on servers to come around was great. We first ordered our drinks, then appetizers, then when we were getting towards the end of our first course, we ordered our entrees. This made the process so much smoother and more fun than the typical dining experience. Service was prompt and the timing flowed much better instead of food being brought out before you were ready only to get cold, or long after you had finished your previous course.
Our server still stopped by periodically, but it felt like at natural times to see about water refills, instead of the often annoyance of a server coming too frequently or not frequently enough. This felt like we had more control over our meal and the experience was made more enjoyable by the technology Carmel Café brought to the table. We even had the ability to see our check as we added items to our order on the iPad.
On top of the amazing use of technology to ameliorate our meal, the food was excellent. There were tons of healthy options including gluten free and vegetarian menu options. I cannot wait to go back to Carmel Café again since this was such a pleasurable experience and the food was great! They even offer great specials like “After 5 at Carmel,” which feature $5.00 wines, small plates and martinis on weeknights from 5-7pm, Wine Wednesdays, and Prix Fixe Dinners for 2. In addition to the Sarasota restaurant, they have locations in Tampa and Clearwater.
I highly recommend Carmel Café and hope that some of this use of the iPad technology will spread to other restaurants and maybe even to our theme parks. I was recently listening to an episode of the Betamouse podcast from last year and they talked about their desire to see something of this nature at Walt Disney World. I would love to see this come to fruition in the near future whether by iPad or even your own smartphone. Like they say in Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress at the Magic Kingdom, “What will they think up next? … Who know? We’ve got a whole new century waiting for us out there.”
If you are interested in learning more about how Carmel Café uses Apple technology to improve the dining experience, check out this video here on Apple’s website.
Here at On the Go we have been having another week of fun around Orlando, and it’s time to take a look back so we can Keep Moving Forward…So let’s go!!!
On Monday, we took at look at the new Oz: The Great and Powerful, opening March 8, 2013, trailer that was released. This looks like it is going to be an amazing movie!!!
Then it is almost my favorite time of year again…Food and Wine Festival at Epcot!!! Aurora looked at the Eat to the Beat Concert Series line up for this year on Tuesday, and I am really excited!!! Sugar Ray, Boyz II Men, Smash Mouth, Gin Blossoms, Blues Traveler, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy are just a few of the bands that will be performing at this year’s series! You HAVE to check out one of these concerts if you are here for the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot!!!
If your family is anything like mine, you have caught Wreck-It Ralph fever and November 2, 2012 needs to be here today! Tuesday we looked at the slew of talented actors from some of your favorite video games and movies that are lending their voices to this highly anticipated movie!
Wordless Wednesday took us to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, were we needed to be Quiet on the Set at The Great Movie Ride!
The only thing cuter than a manatee is a rescued manatee that gave birth to an absolutely adorable calf! Our friends at SeaWorld rescued this momma manatee from Sykes Creek in Merritt Island, FL, because she had severe injuries to the front right flipper caused by a crab pot line. Mom and Calf are doing well and are as cute as can be!
Thursday Betsy took us with us as she looked at her Happy Place at Walt Disney World where the Dole Whips flow…Disney’s Polynesian Resort. This post is filled with great photos, information, and delicious food that you can find at the Poly, and is sure to make you say Aloha to this amazing Deluxe Resort!
Congratulations! It’s a 100 Weedy Sea Dragons! Over at SeaWorld there is a rare birth about to take place, as a father Weedy Sea Dragon is taking care of 100 eggs that will hatch soon!
We closed out the week with one of the coolest things that we have done yet! The Gaylord Palms hosted a Christmas in July event where we found out about how Ice! will feature some of our favorite characters from Merry Madagascar and had a surprise performance from Vanilla Ice! We also take a peek inside this beautiful resort. How can you not love that???
Thanks for joining us this week at On the Go, and we can’t wait to bring you even more posts next week!!!
The sounds of steel guitars and ukuleles skip across the lagoon and you immediately think “mahalo.” Sun sets off to your left as you sway peacefully in a hammock between two palm trees on the beach and you truly believe you are in heaven. To me, these are just a couple of the things I equate with my happy place, otherwise known as Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Now for those of you who don’t know, I love almost all things Hawaiian. My house is decorated in Hawaiiana, with tropical accents, travel posters, surf boards large and small, hibiscus prints, and even some vintage maps of the islands. This is right up my alley, but let me explain why so many others agree with me in choosing the Polynesian as their favorite deluxe resort at Walt Disney World.
One of three resorts that opened at WDW in 1971, along with the Contemporary and Fort Wilderness, this classic features some of the most beautiful landscaping on property. The resort is situated on the shores of the man made Seven Seas Lagoon and is directly across the lagoon from the Magic Kingdom. It is one of the three monorail resorts that is accessible to the Magic Kingdom, and it also offers boat transportation. I personally prefer the peaceful cruise by resort launch to the theme park as it relaxes me and is often less crowded than the monorails tend to be. The main building, the Great Ceremonial House, is home to the shops and restaurants as well as the front desk and monorail station. There are two shops on the first level in Boutiki and the Wyland Gallery. Boutiki is where you find mostly the latest and greatest Disney gifts and apparel in addition to resort specific merchandise. The Wyland Gallery is home to beautiful oceanographic art, some even featuring Disney characters in the paintings and sculptures. Upstairs you find Samoa Snacks (appropriately named for snacks and drinks) and Trader Jack’s which is aimed more at the kids with clothing, toys and games.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort features standard rooms that accommodate up to five guests plus an infant under three with two queen sized beds and a day bed, in addition to club level rooms and larger suites that can accommodate up to nine plus an infant. This is the only one of the deluxe resorts that can guarantee the bedding of two queens and a day bed, whereas it is a request at the other deluxe resorts aside from Animal Kingdom and Wilderness Lodges which offer two queen beds standard. The rooms are some of the largest at WDW and offer a mini fridge, coffeemaker, ceiling fan, full bath, desk area, complimentary wifi, and either a patio or a balcony.
A great draw to the resort is the variety of restaurants and bars between the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show (a luau!!!), ‘Ohana, Kona Cafe, Kona Island Coffee/Sushi Bar, Capt. Cook’s, Barefoot Pool Bar, Tambu Lounge, and of course, private dining. Now, being that this is my favorite resort in all of Walt Disney World, I have experienced the majority of these dining experiences with the exception of ‘Ohana for the character breakfast, Kona Cafe for lunch and private dining (WDW’s nomenclature for room service).
The Spirit of Aloha in Luau Cove was a great time with good food and fun for kids and the adults with a story at the beginning and more adult geared cultural information and dances towards the end of the show. Capt. Cook’s is a wonderful counter service location on the first level of the Great Ceremonial House, and is one of only a handful on property that is open 24 hours (the grill is usually closed from 11pm to 6:30am). One of my favorite things ever is here in the self serve dole whip, which you can get in either pineapple, vanilla, or my favorite twist. I have been known to take my dole whip creating to a whole new level. 😉
Kona Cafe is located on the second level of the Great Ceremonial House and features awesome meals for breakfast like the infamous Tonga Toast (which you can also get at Capt. Cook’s), a thick slice of sourdough bread stuffed with sauteed bananas and covered in cinnamon sugar. Another great breakfast find is Kona coffee in a French press and the pineapple macadamia nut pancakes. Lunch and dinner offer nice salads, sandwiches, pot stickers, coconut chicken and an awesome teriyaki strip steak. The adjacent Kona Island Coffee Bar in the morning and Sushi Bar at night, shares the same menu and also offers a few other grab and go items in the morning. The tuna poke at the Sushi Bar is one of my go to quick, but delicious sushi meals on property. It is awesome being able to watch the sushi chefs prepare your meal right in front of you if you are lucky enough to get a seat right at the counter.
Now if you like meat ‘Ohana is the place for you to go for dinner. The restaurant has an open concept and serves their meals family style, bringing the meat straight from the open wood fire grills. Shrimp, pork, chicken and beef are served off of giant skewers that are brought table side by the servers. Side dishes are just as tasty as the meats and accompanying dipping sauces. The salad features a honey lime vinaigrette that is one of the best in my opinion. Coconut bread, asian noodles, pot stickers and broccoli are also served with the meal. And then comes dessert. The bread pudding. Oh my goodness the bread pudding. Now in general, I am not a fan of bananas cooked in things or banana flavored food, despite the fact I love bananas themselves, but the bread pudding at ‘Ohana and the Tonga Toast at either Capt. Cook’s or Kona seem to be the exception to the rule. I don’t know what they do to it, but that bread pudding is magical. Thank goodness it is all you care to eat because you will be asking (maybe even begging) for more! As I mentioned, I haven’t had the breakfast at ‘Ohana, but I have heard great things about it and have snuck in to take a few pictures for the sake of reporting back to you fine folks. It looks like it is a great time with Mickey and friends (please be aware characters may vary), which on the day I visited featured Mickey in a very festive Hawaiian shirt as well as Pluto, Lilo and Stitch.
Tambu Lounge is probably my favorite place to stop for an adult beverage at Disney World. It offers great views of the grounds and even a peek at Cinderella Castle across the lagoon. On top of this, it also is home to one of my favorite drinks, the backscratcher. This is not for the faint of heart as it consists of rum, more rum and some Jack Daniels, along with some tropical fruit juice and is typically garnished with an orange, a cherry, and of course a backscratcher. No, I’m not kidding. The drink is served in a hurricane type glass and comes with a backscratcher, which is usually placed in your drink by the bartender. It is fruity, but not too sweet, and hits the spot if you are just looking for a nice drink to help you unwind while in this tropical paradise. They also make a killer zombie as well as the standard fare found in almost all the bars across property. If pool bars are more your thing, check out the Barefoot Pool Bar for gorgeous views of the Nanea Volcano Pool and the beach as well as the Magic Kingdom. If mom and dad want to have an evening to themselves while enjoying a few cocktails they can always look into enrolling the kids (ages 3-12) at the Neverland Club from 4pm – 12am. This is the Children’s Activity Center located right at the Polynesian and offers a kid’s club atmosphere with dinner, snack, movies, games, arts and crafts (call for pricing). Hey, parents are on vacation too you know!
Speaking of pools, the Polynesian offers two: the aforementioned Nanea Volcano Pool, which is the main theme pool complete with a slide running down the volcano and zero entry at one end, and the quiet pool. For views, I don’t think the main pool can be beat with a beautiful panorama of the beach and lagoon as well as a direct sight line to Cinderella Castle. The only thing I feel the resort is lacking is a hot tub. They offer great private cabanas with poolside service, restrooms and showers by the pool, hammocks on the beach, lounge chairs and the bar. Other recreation options at the resort can be found in pool activities and games like trivia, name that tune, diving for toys in the pool and dance parties. The resort also has its own marina, called the Mikala Canoe Club. Sea Raycers, pontoon boats, Boston Whalers, sailboats and bicycles can all be rented here. For those who favor more of the indoor activities, the Polynesian also has an arcade called Moana Mickey’s, which is next to Capt. Cook’s on the first level of the Great Ceremonial House.
The beach at the Polynesian is beautiful and offers sweeping views of the Magic Kingdom resort area with the Wedding Pavilion and Grand Floridian to the left, the Magic Kingdom straight ahead, and Bay Lake Tower and the Contemporary to the right. One activity that I love to partake in when I stay at the Polynesian is the nightly movie on the beach. Each night (subject to cancellation due to inclement weather), the resort inflates a large movie screen and sets up lounge chairs on the beach for guests to watch a Disney movie free of charge. This is a great way to spend a nice evening at the resort relaxing after being on the go in the parks all day. Sometimes they even set up a small fire pit and sell smores kits or marshmallows to roast. Another classic, not to be missed nighttime display is the Electrical Water Pageant, which has been around since the 1970s, shortly after the resort opened. If you are lucky, you may even be able to time it right to where you can see Wishes from the beach of the Polynesian with the water pageant in front of you. Talk about magic!!!
I don’t know what it is about this resort that makes it just feel like home to me. Maybe it is the welcoming smell of grilled meats and the flickering tiki torches along with the mellifluous sounds of familiar (to me) Hawaiian music. Or it could be that I have a hammock on the beach that I have claimed as my own and I have spent many hours there enjoying the sounds of the faint train whistle off in the distance of the Magic Kingdom across the water. Perhaps it is the aesthetically pleasing tropical decor found across the common areas of the resort and in the rooms. Backscratchers are always a compelling draw, but no, I think it must be the dole whips. 🙂
Please check out my youtube video of some more pictures from the Polynesian.
I have always taken a lot of care and pride in creating Autograph Books for Zoe to use on our visits to Walt Disney World, and it was time to make a new one so I thought I would share my love of Disney Crafting with you!
And now for the fun part! If you would like to win a customized Autograph Book, please enter our Giveaway by Midnight on July 27, 2012.
While we briefly gave an overview of the meals we sampled the other day for breakfast and dinner, I thought we should take a closer look at what I’m sure will become one of my favorite counter service locations on property: Landscape of Flavors at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. There are so many amazing things to share about this great food court. It is like no other value resort in its attention to detail and theming that are prevalent throughout the resort common areas and suites.
One of my favorite details I wanted to share was all of the incredible artwork in the different dining areas themed after the resorts areas of The Lion King, Cars, Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid. I wish I could take some of this artwork home to decorate my house! It feels like you are immersed in a very cool art gallery while enjoying some truly incredible food. I was trying to describe the menu to a friend the other day and think Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Kidani Village is the closest as far as the world flavors influence, but with some Riverside Mill from Port Orleans Riverside thrown in with the create your own pasta and salad options. Having said that, this food court really doesn’t feel like any other. The ambiance is very relaxed and welcoming. I cannot wait to go back and try some of the incredible offerings that this restaurant has!
Also check out our post from the other day with pictures of what we ordered for dinner and breakfast here.
Last night a few friends and I were able to experience dinner at the new food court, Landscape of Flavors, at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. We sampled several different menu items from the restaurant and were very pleasantly surprised by both the level of service, quality of food and presentation for a value resort. First off, the food is served on real plates and bowls and with real silverware, as opposed to the paper plates and plastic utensils one finds at other counter service restaurants. I hope you enjoy some of the pictures from our dinner as well as breakfast this morning! We cannot wait to go back and try some more of the items we didn’t get to this visit. I have a feeling this will quickly become one of my go to counter service restaurants.
The other day I found myself with a few extra hours before I was supposed to meet up with friends for dinner and decided to go exploring. Not actual exploring, like at the polar ice caps or anything (for anyone who knows me, I don’t do cold), but one of my favorite types of exploring: at Disney resorts. After some brief investigative work a few weeks ago, I made a list of some lesser known activities around the parks and resorts that I’d like to highlight here or at least try out for myself. So, back to the other day, I chose to spend a few hours at the Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village.
This resort opened back in May of 2009 and I had my first stay there several months later. One of my favorite things about the resort, aside from the animals, of course, is their restaurant Sanaa. The food has always been great, featuring flavors of African and Indian influence in a setting that has, in my opinion, one of the best views to be found from a restaurant anywhere on Walt Disney World property. When I learned that there was a free Cultural Tour of Sanaa, I knew I wanted to learn more about one of my go to restaurants. On the activities guide at the Animal Kingdom Villas, the description is listed as “Discover the inspiration behind this unique location through the eyes of one of our Cultural Representatives.” Based on this, I was expecting something similar to the Cultural Safari that takes place at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in Jambo House in the evenings.
Seeing that the tour was scheduled for 4pm, I opted to get to the resort with plenty of time to see the animals on the savanna before I needed to check in at the restaurant’s podium. I started my adventure in the library at Kidani Village, which is probably my second favorite rooms at a resort in which to relax. After a short while I went downstairs to Sanaa to make sure that they knew I was there for the tour. Sometimes these tours are not very well known, to the point where not many guests show up, so it is best to announce your presence if you don’t see any other people around, which was the case this time.
My host, Vincent, was from Botswana and kindly gave me a private tour, which was really cool since it was more like us just hanging out and having a conversation as opposed to a typical lecture style tour. We started at the entrance to the restaurant where he explained that the word Sanaa means “works of art” in Swahili. The restaurant is decorated accordingly with various works of art from tribal drums from different African nations, to gourds used as drinking vessels, coffee pots, clothing, light fixtures and wall hangings.
During the tour, Vincent explained how the restaurant was setup into areas reminiscent of the boma, roughly translated to a hearth or safe area for gathering. There is usually a boma found in each home, and then also a larger boma in the village for everyone to gather together. After pointing out a couple of hidden Mickeys, in the restaurant, one of which I’d never noticed, Vincent led me to the lounge area of the bar. He advised me that the chef would be coming out to greet me with the bread service that is typically on the menu as an appetizer. This was an added bonus that I wasn’t aware of previously: free food!!!
Chef Johnathan came out and described the process the restaurant used for making the bread in the tandoor oven and how they only use fresh herbs and spices and grind them there at Sanaa to ensure consistency. The bread service consists of several pieces of naan and three dipping sauces: a coriander (more commonly known here as cilantro) chutney, a mango chutney, and a cucumber raita. While I’m not a fan of cucumber at all, unless it is in the pickled form, I decided to be an adult and try what was served to me. The sauce was creamy, being yogurt based, with only a hint of cucumber if you didn’t actually eat the chunks of cucumber mixed in, which I didn’t. The mango chutney was typical, but with some peppers mixed in and it was a bit more liquid than what I’m used to. My favorite of the sauces was definitely the coriander chutney, which by taste, is very similar to a sauce that I make based on a recipe that used to be used at Jiko. I love cilantro, but if you are not fond of it, you may want to skip this one. I enjoyed this so much I went back and asked for and received a copy of the recipe to take home.
The tour and tasting took me about half an hour, which was just about perfect since I had the place to myself. I would gladly take this tour again, especially now knowing that there is a snack at the end. It was a great way to spend a part of my afternoon and think it would be fun with a group of friends maybe even ending the tour at the bar with an adult beverage. If you go, say hi to the bartender Kat. Have you been to Sanaa? Did you take the tour? Have you taken any other tours? I’d love to hear your feedback.
I have to give a special shout out to Briana Alessio who is my special guest writer today! She is an awesome gal, and I can’t thank her enough for her post!!!
The Dole Whip. Just saying it brings a smile to the face of many. Whether you are a fan of fruit or not, this is definitely worth a try. Located in The Walt Disney World Resort, you can get one at either Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian Resort or at the Magic Kingdom’s Aloha Isle in Adventureland.
Aloha Isle’s menu of assorted Dole Whip treats consists of two different treats: The Dole Whip Soft Serve in pineapple, vanilla, orange, or swirl ice cream for $3.49, or the Pineapple Float which is a pineapple Dole Whip served with pineapple juice for $4.49. Aloha Isle also offers a Coca Cola or Barq’s Root Beer Float served with vanilla Dole Whip for $4.19. They also have various other beverages and a couple of additional snack offers. (Note: The Magic Kingdom does not serve alcohol so you will not find any here or anywhere throughout the park.)
Captain Cook’s is a 24 hour eatery located inside on the 1st floor of the Polynesian Resort. They offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snacks in portions for both adults and children. (For a lunch or dinner recommendation, a few friends of mine highly suggest trying the Adult Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Using a mix of cheddar, blue, and Swiss cheeses along with frisee and tomato, this is served on sunflower multigrain bread with specialty Poly chips. All for $7.99!). When I get distracted discussing food, I lose train of thought…right, the Dole Whip! Captain Cook’s offers a Dole Whip self-serve machine which you can access at any hour of the night. I, along with a few great friends, went there at midnight last year and had a Dole Whip party. Even at small places like these, you can have memories which will last a lifetime!!
Personally, I think they are super fantastic. My first one was this past October. I tried the soft serve pineapple from Aloha Isle with my friends James and Tammy. I devoured the whole thing in about five minutes flat. I had the next one the day after that at Captain Cook’s, where I made myself a soft serve swirl. I cannot decide which one I enjoyed more!! It is seriously the best frozen treat which I, and many others, have ever had.
I cannot wait to return in May to have one again!!! Or two. Or three. Or….