Lunching at The Wave…of American Flavors

One of my favorite “under the radar” restaurants at Walt Disney World is The Wave…of American Flavors (The Wave for short) at the Contemporary Resort.

Comtemporary

The menu here features American cuisine and many of the ingredients are sourced locally. I’ve always felt that the food I’ve eaten here has been fresh and prepared so that these fresh ingredients, especially produce, can shine.

The restaurant is located in the back corner of the lobby, just past the check-in desks. The entrance is definitely one of the coolest on property!

Entrance

Various elements of the décor also bring out the “wave” theme. It also features close up photographs of produce, like an ear of corn.

Picture from Disney
Picture from Disney. Interior.

I’ve eaten at the Wave several times now of the past few years, at least once for every meal. Recently, it’s become a tradition for my mom and I to eat Easter brunch there after church service. They always have a fantastic breakfast buffet there (sweet potato pancakes anyone??), but for Easter they add a few extras, like carving and omelet stations.

Today though, I’m going to focus on lunch at the Wave. I’ve eaten lunch there a couple of times now. I love that you can usually always get in without a reservation there and that is especially true at lunch. It’s very quiet and I think could be a great break from a busy (and hot) theme park day. Plus, it’s an easy walk from the Magic Kingdom!

Now onto the food…I will warm you that I’m not the greatest when it comes to food reviews. They usually consist of varying degrees of yumminess! But I’ll try to be a bit more descriptive this time!

Most of the time, I like to keep it light at lunch with a salad and maybe an appetizer. My first lunch there, I fell in love with the Wave’s version of the Cobb salad.

From the menu: MacGregor Farms Greens, Naturally Raised Eggs, Bacon, Florida Avocados, Chile-Lime Vinaigrette, and Midnight Moon Cheese
From the menu: MacGregor Farms Greens, Naturally Raised Eggs, Bacon, Florida Avocados, Chile-Lime Vinaigrette, and Midnight Moon Cheese

Most Disney fans know of Brown Derby’s version, which is great, but I give the Wave’s a bit of an edge because of the bigger pieces of the ingredients. With the Brown Derby’s I feel like it all sort of mushes together. I’m also a bit obsessed with the bacon on this salad. It’s thick-cut and has a bit of sweetness to it. It goes great with the tangy vinaigrette. I know there are people who aren’t fans of the traditional bleu cheese found on most Cobb salads. You will be happy to hear that the cheese on this version is much more mild and has a parmesan-like texture.

You can choose to add chicken or steak to the salad to make it more of an entrée. Instead, I decided to go with the soup of the day, which was a Zellwood corn and chicken chowder. The restaurant happened to be a bit chilly that afternoon so sop actually sounded fantastic. And it was! Zellwood corn is known for being sweet. The chicken was shredded and there was some spice with red peppers in the base. This was also paired with a jalapeño corn bread muffin, which also added a bit of heat, but nothing overwhelming. Our server made sure to warn us.

Season Soup - corn chowder
Season Soup – corn chowder

I will definitely be back to The Wave…for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Lunch is definitely a treat and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a break from the parks for an hour or two. The only complaint I have is I’ve had some inconsistent service there. The servers have always been very nice, it’s just some have been more on top of everything than others.

Have you been to The Wave? What would you recommend for my next visit?

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Jiko, The Cooking Place presents May Wine Dinner

Jiko Logo

 

Jiko – The Cooking Place is pleased to announce the following Wine Dinner

 

A Pinotage Tasting – Thursday May 15, 2014

 

The following details apply to this event:

6:00PM Reception Sunset Lounge Disney’s Animal Kingdom

6:30PM Dinner Dress Code – Business Casual Evening Attire

$160 inclusive of tax and gratuity.

 

Please see below for Menu Offerings for the Dinner

For reservations please contact Victoria Thompson at Victoria.j.thompson@disney.com

This event is limited to 40 guests. This event is a credit card guarantee, and there is a 3 day cancellation policy.

 

Reception

Moroccan Rock Shrimp Tagine

Grilled Seitan, Delta Asparagus Jus, and Kenyan Style Mashed potatoes

Smoked Pork Belly and Green Mango Atjar

Boekenhoutskloof Semillon, Franschoek 

 

First Course

Butter Poached Lobster, Delta Asparagus, Chipolini Onions and Heirloom Potatoes

Southern Right, Pinotage, Hamel-en-Aarde

 

Second Course

Fiddlehead Fern Salad, Rocket, Duck Crackling, and Dark Cherry Vinaigrette

M*A*N Family Wines Pinotage, Coastal Region

 

Third Course

Egyptian Stuffed Squab, Liver Pate, Prunes, and  Dates

Spice Route Pinotage, Swartland

 

Fourth Course

Burundi-style Coffee Crusted Veal with Roasted Spring Baby Vegetables, and Ramp Emulsion

Side by Side tasting of Fairview Pinotage, Paarl

 

Dessert

Tasting of Seasonal Peaches Local and Beyond with a White Peach Sphere

Fairview La Beryl Blanc Late Harvest Chenin Blanc, Coastal

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Raglan Road Irish Pub Presents: The Summer Solstice Signature Dining Experience

Raglan Road Logo

Raglan Road Irish Pub Presents: The Summer Solstice Signature

Dining Experience with Master Chef Kevin Dundon

Date: Thursday June 19th 2014

Time: 6.30pm

Dress Code: Smart Casual

Price: $95.00, plus tax and gratuity

Tables in Wonderland Discount Accepted

To book your Reservation please call 407-938-0300

 

Master Chef Kevin Dundon of Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant has created a tantalizing menu incorporating fresh seasonal flavors for a special Summer Solstice Signature Dinner which takes place on the 19th of June. Enjoy a sumptuous four course menu paired with the finest wines that have been expertly chosen to complement and enhance the delicious flavors of each dish. Chef Kevin adds his unique style and flair to the menu combining his passion for freshness and simplicity.

 

The Summer Solstice marks the official start of the summer in the Northern Hemisphere and has long been associated with ancient summer customs and traditions. It is often the time of the first harvest and when plants and herbs planted during the spring equinox were collected hence a celebration of nature’s bounty. In ancient times the Summer Solstice was hugely significant; it was a time when the power of the Sun was at its highest and crops & fields were blessed to ensure a good harvest.

 

Celebrations take place across many parts of Europe dating back thousands of years. Most involve festivals, maypole dances, lighting of bonfires, feasting and celebrations. The Summer Solstice is such a joyous and magical occasion celebrated for centuries. We hope you can join us for a truly memorable dining experience. 

For more information, please visit http://www.raglanroad.com/summer-solstice-signature-dinner

 

Menu Offerings:

Appetizer

Classic Irish prawn cocktail

Chateau Minuty, Rose, Provenance, 2013

***

Soup

Summer inspired chilled melon soup

Cape Mentelle, Sauvignon Blanc- Semillon, Margret River, Australia, 2012/13

***

Main Course

Spit roasted baby lamb with a rosemary salt crust,

minted pea jelly & fondant potatoes

Campo Alegre, Toro, Spain, 2010

***

Dessert

Fresh Strawberries & white chocolate mousse

wrapped in a picnic blanket

Domaine Chandon, Etolie Rose, Napa, MV

***

Tea/Coffee/Petit Fours

 

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New Eats And Treats At Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

In addition to the opening of the new Allergy Friendly Dining Kiosk, there were several new menu and dining changes at Animal Kingdom!

Let’s start our food journey in Harambe!

Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery will now be open for breakfast instead of Tamu Tamu.

Animal Kingdom

And as you can see from the Kusafiri menu, they’ve added a few new items!

The Warm Colossal Cinnamon Buns, Elephant Ear Pastry that feature a dark chocolate dip, African Spice Cake, and Danish Chocolate Twist which are very similar to the chocolate croissants that you can find around Walt Disney World are the standouts on the menu additions.

The Cinnamon Buns are still being worked on, so you will need to ask if they are available.

As you walk from Harambe to Asia, you will want to take a stop at Kumal’s Kiosk for some really tasty new eats!

Animal Kingdom

The falafel sandwich is served with lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber yogurt sauce wrapped in a pita and come with your choice of chips or apple slices. I was excited to find that the falafel patties were deliciously crispy on the outside while still creamy on the inside. I will definitely be ordering this again!

Animal Kingdom
Kumal’s Falafel Sandwich is available with chips or apple slices.

The samosas are a great value!!! In an order you get 5 medium size vegetable samosas, a side of mango chutney, and a carrot & raisin slaw. Samosas are quite possibly one of my most favorite things to eat, and these have a great taste and hint of cinnamon that really takes the flavor up a notch! The mango chutney is tasty, but I wasn’t a fan of the slaw as it made the samosas a little soggy. Next time I order them, I am going to hold the slaw!

Animal Kingdom

The hummus at Kumal’s is more that just a sabra cup that you can find around the park! There is a scoop, probably around a cup, served in a container that has baby carrots and pita triangles. It looked really yummy!

Traveling around Animal Kingdom, and heading over to Animal Kingdom my first stop was to peek at Tril-O-Bites!

Animal Kingdom

Tril-O-Bites is now offering desserts instead of turkey legs. If you are on the lookout for turkey legs, you will want to head over to Flame Tree Barbecue.

Animal Kingdom
The Tril-O-Bites Menu up close

There were also a few changes over at Restaurantosaurus!

Animal Kingdom

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this tour of new eats and treats at Animal Kingdom…now if you’ll excuse me I need a snack now!!! 🙂

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Allergy Friendly Dining Kiosk At Animal Kingdom

Allergy Friendly Dining

A new Allergy Friendly Dining Kiosk has opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and it will greatly improve the experience of guests visiting the parks who have food allergies & intolerances!

Allergy Friendly Dining
Allergy Friendly Dining Kiosk

The Allergy Friendly Dining kiosk, located on Discovery Island next to Adventurers Outpost, the Disney Parks Blog indicated that it would be called the Gardens kiosk however there is no sign up yet.

The Kiosk is full of absolutely amazing information! Guests can stop and chat about food allergies or intolerances (especially gluten or wheat, lactose or dairy, peanuts and tree nuts, shellfish, soy, fish, eggs and corn) with Cast Members who have been specially trained.

Allergy Friendly Dining
The Menu at Allergy Friendly Dining Kiosk Binder is a great tool for guests with food allergies and intolerances.

There is also a book that has information about almost every snack and food option offered in the kiosks around the park, and even copies of the wrappers for you to read in most instances, so it really takes a lot of the guesswork and waiting for information out of your day.

Allergy Friendly Dining
Here is a page from the Menu at Allergy Friendly Dining Kiosk Binder

You can even pick up a pamphlet that has great information about the quick service restaurant options that are perfect for those looking for allergy friendly dining options.

Allergy Friendly Dining
Allergy Friendly Dining Pamphlet Front

It’s VERY important to remember that this information will help direct those with allergies to the best restaurants to accommodate your needs, it’s still extremely important to still speak with a manager or chef at the restaurant after you are seated.

Allergy Friendly Dining
Allergy Friendly Dining pamphlet that has information for Animal Kingdom, and any items with a (*) can be prepared as gluten free upon request.

If you get hungry from all this talk of food at the Allergy Friendly Dining Kiosk, you can pick up some great snacks. You can pick up items like popcorn, desserts, chips, hummus with vegetables, granola bars, and they even offer a gluten-free beer.

Allergy Friendly Dining
Menu at Allergy Friendly Dining Kiosk

Vegan sweets from BabyCakes can also will be found at the kiosk!!! These all-natural, organic goodies that are made without wheat, gluten, dairy, casein, and eggs are not only kosher but delicious beyond words. I cannot tell you how exciting it is to have Babycakes in Animal Kingdom!!! These cookies are a sweet treat for anyone!!!

Allergy Friendly Dining

The Gardens Kiosk is open daily from 9 am-3 pm, so make sure you drop by! I promise you that their knowledge and care for detail will absolutely blow you away!  This is an amazing addition and improvement for those affected by food allergies and intolerances.

Allergy Friendly Dining

Here is some really good info to keep in mind from the Disney Parks Blog…

 

While this is the only park with a kiosk, guests with food allergy concerns can always speak with a manager or chef at many Walt Disney World Resort restaurants, who will do their best to accommodate. For more information, visit Disneyworld.com to review special dietary requests, or send an email 14 days prior to your visit with specific needs to special.diets@disneyworld.com.

 

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Disney Sports Solutions At ESPN Wide World Of Sports

ESPN Wide World of Sports

Playing in a tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort is a dream come true for many athletes, and getting there is often a labor of love for Team Parents! Disney Sports Solutions helps make the process so much easier! From fundraising support to photography to custom event merchandise, they have help for you and your team.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

Gene Kousoulas, Head Coach of Tappan Zee Softball Team, has brought several teams to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex over the years, and always looks forward to returning.

“The team is always excited to be traveling away from New York, and the fields at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex are always great” say Kousoulas.

Mr. Kousoulas also encourages teams to communicate as much as they can with their Disney Travel Coordinators, because they are there to help and are always ready with solutions.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Marybeth our host for the Team Mom Disney Sports Solutions Breakfast.

At a Team Mom Breakfast held in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill, Marybeth, a specialized Cast Member, helped several Team Moms whose teams were playing at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex get to know some of the facilities and services offered at the Complex better. Also, they held some pretty great giveaways that were special bonuses for the teams.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Fun Team Mom Breakfast Goodies

The first thing that Marybeth introduced us to was the Welcome Center. The Welcome Center is really the heart and soul of the ESPN Wide World of Sports. It is centrally located in the Complex, and is available to help in any way that they can. At the Welcome Center you’ll find Cast Members who are solutions oriented with extensive training in Sports Travel, Guest Relations, and Event Planning. If you have questions about what to do before and after your competition,  this is your one stop for purchasing Disney Theme Park Tickets, making Disney Dining Reservations, finding Recreation Options, Golf Reservations, Planning Celebration Events, and Transportation Tips just to name a few.

If you are out on the fields and need information, help is never too far from even the outermost field! Welcome Center Cast Members are always at the fields and for larger events there are mobile stations set-up around the complex.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
The Welcome Center is an amazing tool for teams visiting the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex!

There are several dining options at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, but for busy teams on the go there are several ways to make sure that your team is fueled with healthy food that doesn’t take away from their time at the Complex. The first option available is box breakfasts and lunches. These meals are made fresh daily ($6.99 per breakfast and $7.99 per lunch), can be ordered online prior to arrival, are customizable for team members with allergies, and most importantly can be delivered directly to the field where you are playing.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Box lunches being distributed at ESPN Wide World of Sports fields.

We got to have a breakfast box during the Team Mom Breakfast, and it was a good amount of food that was great fuel for the day. However, you can also have pizzas delivered to your field, there are several quick service options, and there is always the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Our Box Breakfast was a great way to start the morning.

The ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill is a quick-service restaurant located near the entrance of the Complex. The Grill is perfect for large groups, and is a high energy environment with six HD displays playing sports and sports news, a full-service bar, and even a replica of the ESPN SportsCenter Desk for fun photo opportunities for your team! My favorite feature is the bank of Coca-Cola Freestyle Machines…but I am a sucker for Cherry Coke!!!

ESPN Wide World of Sports Gameday Photos provides teams with photo solutions that are extremely unique and high quality!

 ESPN Wide World of Sports
Josh Shortened is one of the Gameday Photographers at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

The Gameday Photos photographers are highly trained to catch just the right moment in your athlete’s game, and are available for individual or team pictures. The best part of the Gameday Photography is that once you purchase the CD of images, which are guaranteed to have at least 150 photos, the rights to those pictures are yours and you can print out and share them as much as you can with friends and family!

If you want to take part in this really personal photography experience, you will want to make arrangements in advance. It is also important to know that the sessions are pre-paid and scheduled by the game, however there are multiple game discounts available. Individual Gameday Photos start at $99 for a single game and Team Gameday Photos start at $169 for a single game.

Events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex are recorded and broadcasted in several different ways to really make athletes feel like they have really made it to the big leagues!

The dedicated video department at Wide World of Sports is truly a Disney-Sized ESPN with a control room, editing bays, and bustling camera operators. It is truly an amazing thing to see!

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Inside the Broadcast Center at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Parents, coaches, and athletes are able to watch game highlights on a channel 25 in their Walt Disney World Resort hotel room, often games are broadcasted live on ESPN3.com, and highlights are shown on various ESPN platforms such as ESPN.com, ESPN2, and SportsCenter.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Information, live event coverage, and more are featured on screens all over ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Sharing your video highlights with friends and family at home is also easy, because ESPN Wide World of Sports makes some event games available on their YouTube channel and their Facebook Page.

The Custom Tee Center by Champion® is a way to customize your experience at the ESPN Wide World of Sports! After purchasing an event or customizable t-shirt, visit the Custom Tee Center by Champion® to really make the shirt your own. With more than 50 designs available to commemorate your accomplishments, the Center located inside the entrance to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill is a must-do in the Complex!

ESPN Wide World of Sports

A visit to the Playstation® Pavilionis a great way to keep the game going! These seventeen PS3™ systems on 40-inch HDTVs are fully stocked with new game titles. The cost to play is $5 per 30 minutes, and is a fun way to wind down from an exciting event.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

Business Center coming soon, and will provide access to computers, printers, charging stations, etc, for those busy parents and coaches who want to communicate about their team’s competition through email, websites, social media, and keep up with their careers while on the road.

The Disney Parks Mom’s Panel is a great way to get pre-arrival planning advice from two ESPN Wide World of Sports Specialists. These Mom’s Panel members provide team moms and coaches with tips, advice and direction to make their youth sports travel easier.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
The Hess Fields were busy with the Disney Memorial Day Soccer Shootout

I got to speak with Angie Gregg from Hummelstown, PA, whose daughters love Disney and have competed in several soccer tournaments, and even won the Disney’s President Day Festival in February 2012, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports!

Angie’s family loves how they can add extra days on to their team stay to make these tournaments into vacation opportunities for the whole family. She also encourages Team Moms to play a year ahead for their fundraising events to ensure that as many team members as possible can make the journey for this amazing sports opportunity.

The ESPN Wide World of Sports team understands how important Fundraising is to teams, and offers a wide variety of Fundraising Assistance Programs.

The Dream Team Donation Program – Teams are given the opportunity to raffle off a Disney vacation as well as keep 75% of proceeds from raffle ticket sales. Teams also have the opportunity to sell ESPN The Magazine subscriptions and keep 75% of all profits. And a rebate program with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Alamo Rent A Car which allows a team to earn fundraising dollars by gaining 5% of every rental car purchase through the team’s fundraiser site

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Baseball in Champion Stadium are always exciting.

Equipment Drop-off is a really great service that ESPN Wide World of Sports offers! Coaches can drop off their team’s equipment at the front of ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and it will be delivered to the team’s field of play.

Little Champions program offers fun games and activities available on-site for younger siblings, freeing parents and coaches up so they can stay focus on the competition.

With so many great Disney Sports Solutions, beautiful grounds, and helpful Cast Members at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex it is easy to see why it is a premier sporting destination that you will definitely want to check out!

ESPN Wide World of Sports

 

 

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Dine With Shamu – A Dinner You Will Never Forget At SeaWorld Orlando

dine with shamuDine with Shamu at SeaWorld Orlando

 

Dine with Shamu at SeaWorld Orlando is quite possibly the most unique and memorable dining experience I have ever had.

We were invited by SeaWorld Orlando to take in this experience, and my Mom, Zoe, and I had such an amazing time!

dine with shamu
Our view for our Dine with Shamu experience

During a buffet that featured sustainable, organic, seasonal or locally grown ingredients that aim to minimize environmental impacts to animals and their habitats, we got closer than we ever expected to these beautiful and powerful whales.

dine with shamu
The trainers work with the whales in different places of the Dine with Shamu area for everyone to get a great view.

The buffet at Dine with Shamu changes seasonally, but features seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, certified sustainable seafood, all natural grain fed Beef Sirloin, oven roasted turkey breast, 100% natural pork loin with no preservatives or additives, seasonal accompaniments, fresh breads baked daily, signature desserts.

The beverages included in the price are assorted Coca-Cola® products, hot tea, coffee, beer, and wine

On the Kid’s Buffet you’ll find some of their favorite foods! Hot dogs, sea shell pasta with vine ripe tomato marinara and meatballs, mac and cheese , seasonal fresh fruits, and vegetables are offered in addition to the regular buffet.

The service at Dine with Shamu is amazing! My Mother is diabetic, and they even made sure she had a tasty dessert!

As we were eating, we noticed that the whales were slowly began swimming beside us. This was a great opportunity to get an incredible glimpse into the interactions that occur between the SeaWorld trainers and whales.

dine with shamu
Swimming before the fun really began

We got to watch them do fun tricks, how they are trained, conservation tips to help save ocean resources and habitats, and even learned what their favorite treats were (jell-o and ice cubes).

dine with shamu
Zoe and one of Shamu’s trainers

One of the best parts of the Dine with Shamu experience is that it is priced extremely reasonably! Adults (Ages 10+) $29.00 Children (Ages 3-9) $19.00, and there are Annual Passholder discounts available!

dine with shamu
This happened right next to our table…amazing!

Dine with Shamu is a behind-the-scenes experience that will increase your appreciation and knowledge of these amazing whales and their trainers. It’s only at SeaWorld Orlando, so I absolutely recommend that you take advantage of this unique dining experience during your next visit to the park!

dine with shamu
How whales say good-bye!

Additional Dine with Shamu Information:

  • Children under 3 are free but require a reservation.
  • A SeaWorld admission ticket is required but not included.
  • Proof of age (21) for purchase or consumption of alcohol beverages on these premises.  SeaWorld requires identification from anyone appearing 30 years of age or younger.
  • If you are concerned about food allergens, such as peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg or soy, please note allergens at time of booking.
  • Florida sales tax will be added to all taxable items.
  • Dine with Shamu will be refunded if cancelled 24 hours in advance of the scheduled dine.
  • All events are subject to change and/or cancellation due to animal availability.
  • Events are not cancelled due to inclement weather; programs will still be offered except in the event of lightning.
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Thanksgiving Dining at Walt Disney World

Mickey and the gang celebrating Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving image copyright Disney

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!

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My Happy Place – It Must Be the Dole Whips

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.

Boutiki

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.

Polynesian bed
Polynesian room
Polynesian room looking towards patio
Polynesian room day bed
Polynesian bathroom vanity
Polynesian fridge area
Polynesian room closets
Polynesian bathroom
Polynesian toilet room
Polynesian bathroom shower
Polynesian room tiki lamp
Polynesian room patio

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).

Spirit of Aloha
Kona Cafe
Capt. Cook’s
‘Ohana

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.

Tonga Toast
Kona Cafe pineapple macadamia nut pancakes
Kona coffee
Kona Island Sushi Bar tuna poke

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.

‘Ohana breakfast
‘Ohana breakfast view
‘Ohana asian noodles and broccoli
‘Ohana dinner bread pudding

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!

Tambu Lounge
Backscratcher
Zombie
The Neverland Club
Nanea volcano pool

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.

Mikala Canoe Club

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!!!

combing the polynesian beach
Electrical water pageant and Wishes
Lobby
Polynesian beach featuring my hammock

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. 🙂

me making my dole whip
me eating my dole whip
me with dole whip
dole whip

 

Please check out my youtube video of some more pictures from the Polynesian.

 

 

 

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My Favorite Restaurants At Walt Disney World

We haven’t really focused much on food specifically and thought it was about time we explored this huge part of most guest’s Walt Disney World vacations. Dining in the parks and at the resorts ranges from Uncrustables to hot dogs, sandwiches and other typical park fare like burgers and fries to some of the finest dining in the world. Today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite signature restaurants at WDW. If you have a Tables in Wonderland membership you are able to save 20% (with an automatic 18% gratuity added back in) at these restaurants. The other great feature of the TiW card is that it allows you complimentary valet parking at the Disney resorts with validation showing you used your Tables card on your dinner receipt.

5. Todd English’s Bluezoo (Walt Disney World Dolphin) The restaurant sits on the lower level of the Dolphin at the bottom of the escalator. The decor reminds me of an upscale club or bar, but more subdued with subtle lighting and lots of blue accents. I’ve only been here once back in November of 2009, but the food was fabulous. My mom and my brother treated me to dinner for my 30th birthday, and it was amazing. The seafood seemed so fresh and the service was great. We started the night off with the zooberry (a twist on the blueberry martini). They were so fresh the perfect way to begin our meal. We shared the beet salad and the classico flatbread for appetizers. For an entree I had the teppan seared jumbo sea scallops, which were magnificent and perfectly cooked. The dessert was a lemon meringue pavlova and was complimentary for my birthday, which made it taste even better.

4. Flying Fish (Disney’s Boardwalk Inn) Situated on the Boardwalk, Flying Fish is decorated with whimsical fish flying through the air with parachutes. The resort’s atmosphere reflecting early 20th century seaside fun with rollercoasters and ferris wheels is carried through the restaurant as well. The first time I experienced the restaurant it was August of 2009, and more recently I returned in February of this year. So, the two times I’ve been here I ordered the same exact things for appetizer and entree and was so full that I didn’t get dessert. The cheese platter changes in the featured cheeses, but was great both times. I guess I really like the scallops in the Epcot Resort area because I have ordered the oak-grilled Maine diver scallops each time. Scallops aren’t even my favorite seafood, but I absolutely love them from here.

3. Citrico’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) Featuring a Mediterranean theme, Citrico’s is located on the second floor of the Grand Floridian between Mizner’s and Victoria & Albert’s. The decor and the menu reflect the influences of Italy and Greece and are both aesthetically and gastronomically pleasing. Of the restaurants on my top five list, this is the one I have been to the most, having been more than five times, and most recently in the beginning of March. Each time I have been the food has been absolutely fabulous. One of my favorite seasonal appetizers, which they didn’t have this last time, was the gateau of crab. This past time we had a nice cheese and cracker amuse bouche to start our palates on our dining adventure. I tried something new for my entree and was not the least bit disappointed. The Madeira-braised short ribs were so tender, they were falling apart. Wild mushroom ragout and trofie pasta accompany the short ribs along with a truffle creme fraiche. For dessert I did repeat one of my favorites in the seasonal berry gratin with a champagne – Grand Marnier sabayon. It was just as incredible as when I had first had it in November of 2010.

2. Jiko – The Cooking Place (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge) This is the restaurant I have honestly been craving the most above all others on property. I love the atmosphere here with the gorgeous blue ceiling, setting sunset and beautiful (fake) birds flying overhead. It is an eclectic menu and I like to try different things each time I go. The first time I went was in July of 2008, when I first stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I remember having the ostrich filet as an appetizer and the Kenyan coffee barbecue braised short ribs (another favorite of mine apparently). They were both so tender and falling apart in my mouth as I took each bite. On subsequent visits I have had the Taste of Africa bread and dipping sauce service, kalamata olive flatbread, duck and stonefruit salad, oak grilled filet mignon with mac and cheese, and seared barbarie duck breast. I can say that each of the three times I’ve been, the last time being in November of 2010, the service and the quality of the food have been nothing short of fantastic.

1. Victoria & Albert’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) Ah, la creme de la creme. Victoria & Albert’s is a 13 time AAA Five Diamond award winning restaurant. I’ve only been here once, and would love to go back if someone else is paying. This is not to say that the price isn’t worth it (I want to say it was about $475 for two with the wine pairing and gratuity included AFTER my Tables in Wonderland discount), it is. I’d just prefer to have someone else pay, and I’d like to do chef’s table next time. But I digress. This meal is easily within my top five, if not top three meals I’ve ever eaten. The service was beyond impeccable. Situated on the second floor of the Grand Floridian, Victoria & Albert’s is hidden behind large wooden doors with frosted windows. The decor is a refined elegance not to be found elsewhere at a Disney restaurant. It is one of only a few Five Diamond restaurants in the state of Florida. I went with my mom for my 29th birthday present in 2008 and it was an incredible dining experience. There were amuse bouche, palate cleansers, about seven courses, coffee, dessert, and the aforementioned wine pairing to go with each course. This is most definitely a culinary experience, not simply a meal. You need every bit of the three plus hours they warn you about when you book. One of my favorite aspects of the pre-arrival communications with the restaurant is the conversation about your allergies, likes and dislikes. This is so the restaurant can customize your menu to you so you are not being served something for hundreds of dollars that you do not enjoy. I don’t recall the specific menu items, as there were so many, but there wasn’t one I didn’t like. I’ve included a picture of the general menu for the evening. Each guest also receives a personalized copy of their menu to take home, which I am unable to locate at the moment.

 

Have you been to any of these restaurants? If so, what were your thoughts? Do you have any favorites?

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Who you callin’ Babycakes???

The landscape of the Downtown Disney Marketplace just got a whole lot sweeter with the addition of Babycakes NYC!

Refined sugar-free? Gluten free? Wheat-free? Soy-free? Casein-free? Egg-free? Vegan? And it’s good?

No.

It is absolutely amazing!!!

I have to admit that I was more than worried as I stared at my red velvet cupcake, but I have to tell you as a girl who has never lived above the Mason-Dixon line that this cupcake would give any other red velvet cake a run for its money!!! It was super moist, and the frosting was so sweet, creamy and wonderful!!!

Worried about food colorings? Don’t be! They use natural food dyes in their frostings and cakes.

Babycakes NYC, which is located in the same building as Fresh A-Peel and Pollo Campero, offers a wide variety of cupcakes, doughnuts, cookies, cookie sandwiches (which look absolutely amazing), and other seasonal sweets. Although, my favorite is the frosting shot!!! 🙂

Also, this Friday, December 10th, from 1 to 2 pm there will be a cookbook signing and little sweet pack giveaway for people who stop by!

This has really started a conversation in our family about finding other healthy food alternatives. Seriously, if they can make a cupcake taste this good, then what do we have to fear?

Here are a few pictures I took during my outing…

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