A quick round up of dining at Walt Disney World – Part II

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Hello and welcome to Part II of my Disney Dining round-up. It feels like such a long time ago now but reading about Disney restaurants is still one of my favourite things to do. If you’re interested in reading Part I you can find it here!

Picking up where I left off….

Chefs de France

Chefs de France

Chefs de France
World Showcase, Disney’s Epcot

I’d heard rave reviews about Chefs de France so thought I’d give it a whirl. We had to wait for ages for our table despite having an ADR. When I say ages, I mean a-g-e-s. It was so busy inside. Food was good though and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m not sure it was special enough for me to warrant a revisit but it was great all the same. Even better was the cocktail stand outside the restaurant – Grand Marnier Slushies rule.

Be Our Guest

Be Our Guest

Be Our Guest
Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Be Our Guest is one of the newest arrivals at Walt Disney World and the jewel in the Magic Kingdoms crown. We visited twice, once for lunch and once for dinner. Lunch was a debacle of the highest standards and the less said about that the better. Dinner was a better experience. The restaurant itself is not to be missed – it’s got some pretty incredible theming and of course you get to meet the Beast. The food was good but the dessert trolley did it for me. I loved it that it was an old fashioned style dessert trolley – and of course, you must try the grey stuff, it’s delicious*

*Kind of. Didn’t really taste of much.

T-REX Cafe

T-REX Cafe

T-REX
Downtown Disney

If you like peaceful, quiet, relaxing dinners then you’re not going to like this very much. What with the roaring dinosaurs and meteor showers accompanied by screaming kids in every direction. Of course with all that in mind, my children loved it. Actually we all did. This was our second visit and I still think the theming is fab. The food is your usual TGI/Rainforest Cafe style burger and chips but it’s great and you’re more there for the experience. And for the fact that you can get absolutely fleeced in the Build-a-Dino shop that is attached to it.

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater
Disney’s Hollywood Studios

I flipping loved the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. Who wouldn’t want to sit in fake cars watching old black and white movie clips on a giant cinema screen? As I was having a cocktail (a glow-tini, which was useful in the dimly lit theater) the kids had to take the driving seat, they even got their license. So you can’t quite see what you’re eating, who cares! Fun experience.

Chef Mickeys

Chef Mickeys

Chef Mickeys
Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Right before hell, Chef Mickeys was created. Harsh, and probably controversial. Everyone loves Chef Mickeys right? This is THE character restaurant. We’ve tried both breakfast and dinner here, both kind of made me want to lie in a darkened room for a good while after. The kids love it though, it’s all for the kids right? If it wasn’t for the decent amount of characters you see here I’d probably not come here. The food is average and the mayhem when the characters come round is pretty crazy. My children wouldn’t let us miss this if I begged and bribed them.

Garden Grill

Garden Grill

The Garden Grill
Disney’s Epcot

A new experience for us – The Garden Grill is unique in that it is a revolving restaurant. It turns ever so slowly, you hardly notice, but turn it does and we thought that was rather novel. Food here is served family style and you get what is on the menu dished up to share amongst you. We had a fantastic server and he was only more happy to bring us extra meat (sans gravy for our fussy eater). They also have characters here – Chip’n’Dale are the main ones but Pluto and Mickey also stopped by.

And there you have it. My quick-fire round-up of where we ate at Walt Disney World.

If you’ve been recently I’d love to hear about your experiences – or even better, if you’re planning a trip, come talk to me about it. I love to plan, even if it’s just vicariously!

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A quick round up of dining at Walt Disney World – Part 1

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This post is probably only relevant or interesting to you if you’re planning on going to Walt Disney World anytime soon. One of my favourite parts of planning a Walt Disney World trip is researching where we are going to eat. Some people don’t like this form of regimented planning, which includes booking your restaurants 180 days out but it suits me down to a tee as a) I am a GIANT planner and b) I find that have a set itinerary really helps you get the best out of Disney. I’ve done it both ways, unplanned and planned and I’d go with planned every single time. Anyhow, this post is just a quick round-up of the restaurants we dined at a mini-review of what we thought!

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Tusker House

Tusker House Restaurant
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park

This is a family buffet restaurant situated in “Africa”. At breakfast and lunch it’s a safari-themed all-you-can-eat breakfast with Donald Duck and friends. There’s plenty of opportunity to meet and greet the characters, take photos and autographs and the food on offer is the usual breakfast offerings alongside some unique African influenced dishes. Some of my favourites were the coconut & sweet potato casserole, the sausage patties, banana & cinnamon bread pudding with vanilla sauce and we all love the jungle juice! Our waitress even gave us all a big takeaway cup filled with juice when we left. We love Tusker House and we’d definitely go back.

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Whispering Canyon Cafe

Whispering Canyon Cafe
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

This was our second visit to the Whispering Canyon Cafe. They describe it as being for a “rowdy, rootin’ tootin’ good time” and that’s not wrong. This isn’t somewhere to go if you want a quiet, peaceful meal. It is however a great place to take children as there are lots of fun and games to join in with and the cast members are tons of fun. We had the popular “Build-Your-Own All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Platter” which is served family-style and features pork ribs, barbecued pulled pork, roasted chicken, beef strip loin, and western-style sausage served with lots of veggies, corn and beans. Don’t forget to ask for ketchup!

Yak and Yeti

Yak and Yeti

Yak and Yeti
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park

One of my absolute favourites to visit, it’s such a blessed relief to sit in here on what is always a super hot day in Animal Kingdom. Just me or the hottest park ever? Try the honey sesame chicken and the cream-cheese filled wontons. OH MY.  Yes, they are deep-fried and basically a heart attack right there on the plate but they are so good. If you can’t get an ADR when you’re there, they also do a (more limited) counter service option.

Sanaa Lounge

Sanaa Lounge

Sanaa
Kidani Village, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

A tucked away hidden gem of a restaurant, this restaurant is in Kidani Village, the DVC part of Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s beautifully themed and the food, which is a kind of African/Asian kind of hybrid, is delicious and feels quite different from anything else I’ve had at Disneyworld. Also pleasantly quiet and beautifully air-conditioned!

Boma

Boma

Boma
Jambo House, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

We ate at Boma twice, once for breakfast and once for dinner. Both were an absolutely crazy hectic experience but both were worth doing. Boma is a buffet restaurant and there are an amazing array of African-inspired goodies are on offer.  You’ll struggle to know what to try but make sure you try lots of little bits – I didn’t want to miss out on anything!

Grand Floridian Cafe

Grand Floridian Cafe

Grand Floridian Cafe
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

I love the Grand Floridian Resort, if I had the money I would stay there every time, the smell of the Grand Floridian is incredible, very floral. Unfortunately I don’t have the money to stay there for two weeks, so I just eat there instead.  It’s worth a visit when you’re at Magic Kingdom as I don’t particularly rate the restaurants within Magic Kingdom itself, it also had the bonus of being super quiet when we were there on an August lunchtime.  Have the Cafe sandwich – ham, turkey, bacon, tomato, Boursin sauce and fried onion straws! Yum.

Teppan Edo

Teppan Edo

Teppan Edo
World Showcase, Disney’s Epcot

Teppan Edo is a fantastic experience. As the name suggests it is a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant in the heart of the world showcase. The menu is relatively limited – you basically choose from chicken, steak or shrimp –  they cook it before you’re very eyes. So entertaining, the children love it. Tables seat eight, it’s likely you’ll be sitting with others but it’s a great friendly experience and chance to get to know new people.

 

Join me for Part II tomorrow….

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Our Walt Disney World trip – the Lows

So following on from my recent blog post covering THE HIGHS of our summer trip to Walt Disney World, today I am writing about the lows.  This bums me out somewhat as it’s never nice to write about the negatives but in the interest of balance…it’s not all complete perfection. Most are minor niggles and certainly did not detract from the amazingness of the place or the awesomeness of the holiday.

Again I realise that this post won’t be of much interest if you’re not interested in going to Walt Disney World so feel free to skip on by and ignore! As before, these are just my own personal thoughts, others will not agree and my trip was in no way sponsored or funded!

WALT DISNEY WORLD – THE LOWS

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The one villain we got to see…but couldn’t meet.

Disney Villains Event – We were so excited to get tickets to this special one-off event at Hollywood Studios in August. It just so happened to be our last night in Florida so we stumped up the extra dollars for this ticketed event (approximately £170!) and looked forward to it with relish. Unfortunately it was a complete disaster. The parks were totally overcrowded, queues to meet characters were in excess of 2-3 hours, it was a good 30-40min wait for a drink and the special merchandise stand with limited edition items also had a 2-3 hour queue, even though the majority of stock had sold out by then. It was really disappointing but I am glad to say Disney knew this and refunded our money without question.

c/o disneyparks.disney.go.com

c/o disneyparks.disney.go.com

Be Our Guest lunch – We loved the new hottest restaurant at the Magic Kingdom for dinner, but for lunch it was a bit of a car crash. We had an ADR but they made us wait ages, we got in ordered our food and had a row with a very rude CM who wasn’t very clear at explaining things. The menu was extremely limited and I have a child who won’t eat food smothered in sauce. I KNOW that Disney are more than accommodating and asked if the turkey or whatever it was could come without gravy. After a lot of huffing and puffing and saying it couldn’t out came the chef who said it was no problem at all. Tsk. We then got something different to what we ordered once we’d fought to find a table but had lost the will to live let alone try and change it.

Wasps – Wasps weren’t generally a problem unless there was an outside drinks station nearby. This was a big problem at the pool at Kidani Village at Animal Kingdom Lodge, so much that we only went there once despite it having the better pool. Deal with the wasp issue Disney!

Beverage stations – Talking of beverage stations…what a hassle. The whole registering of the cups before allowing you to fill up your cup was tedious as sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. The buttons fell off the machines when you were finally filling up your cup and everyone was pushing and shoving.

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Parades – I know the parades should be a high and they used to be but now? Not so much. They are so busy and crowded, obviously because it’s the main time to see lots of the characters together but to get a half-decent spot you have to have your bum on the kerb for a good 2 hours beforehand. Woe betide you if you have any body part sticking out of the rope or masking tape! Also there are no parades at Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom anymore which doesn’t help the crush at Magic Kingdom. The other parks parades were sorely missed this time.

Seven Dwarves Mine Train – I got up at 5am to book a FP for this. 5AM! and was it worth it? No! I don’t understand the hype around this ride at all. I’m pretty glad I never waited the 180min queuing times I witnessed. The ride was over in about a minute and was so slow. If you get a FP, great do it. If not – don’t waste precious park time queuing!

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The lonely towel animal

Towel animals – Okay this is a petty gripe but it’s still going down as a low. Two weeks in a deluxe resort with children and we got ONE towel animal. ONE! I know they’re not a given but when I first started going to Walt Disney World they were a regular occurrence. My children were really disappointed coming back to the room every day.

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c/o https://www.undercovertourist.com/

Mobility scooters – I don’t want to talk too badly about people who use mobility scooters as some people genuinely need them and of course they should be able to BUT there is a whole section of society (and generally you’ll find them hanging around a Disney theme park) that, let’s just say, could probably get around just as well without them but insist on using them. This is never quite so annoying as when you have waited 30 mins for resort transportation and they whizz up, first on the bus, taking 10 family members on which more often than not can mean you have to wait for the next bus. It irks me. Actually maybe it’s the family members that irk me. They should have to wait in line like everyone else. Ooh I am so British.

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Downtown Disney

Construction – Everywhere! Disney isn’t about standing still. It will never be finished and you have to accept some disruption but I’ve never been faced with so much construction. The Polynesian, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Magic Kingdom not to mention the disaster zone that is Downtown Disney at the moment. It seems like there is Disney hoarding everywhere and it was a bit of a shame. On the upside, this means that by the time we go back in a few years there will be lots of new things to look at!

c/o http://disney.wikia.com/

c/o http://disney.wikia.com/

Splash Mountain – I’m sticking this in as a low because some div decided to do something unmentionable (I have no idea what, because it was unmentionable) on our ride which meant we didn’t get our Memory Maker pictures after having queued for an hour to go on. The CMs didn’t know why but were insistent to start with that the photos would appear eventually and she was really quite rude about it – even when I was showing her that somebody else’s photos had appeared in my Memory Maker instead.  Generally CMs are the happiest people on earth, we’re at Disney after all, but somehow I did manage to find the two most grumpiest OAP cast members ever during my trip. Fortunately a Memory Maker CM appeared, after about 10 mins, and confirmed what had happened and walked us right back to the front of the ride for another ago.

So you seem, niggles but no real deal breakers – apart from the Disney Villains debacle, I wasn’t going to let that one slide!

Regardless Walt Disney World is still one of my favourite places to holiday and I can’t wait until we can afford to go back one day!

If you’ve been to Walt Disney World, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my LOWS or what you would include in your own!

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Our Walt Disney World trip – the Highs

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It’s been a while now since our holiday to Florida, in fact, so much has happened between then and now it feels like an absolute lifetime ago. I participate regularly on a forum called The Dibb where many people do full lengthy trip reports of their visits to Walt Disney World. Whilst I really enjoy reading this and am always full of great intentions, I just don’t have the energy, or more importantly the memory for that, so another popular idea on the forums is a highs and lows post.

I realise that this post won’t be that interesting for a lot of people but if you’ve been to Walt Disney World or you are considering it in the future (and I firmly believe everyone should go at least once!) then you might find something here that you find interesting.

Remember these are purely my own thoughts, other people will have a different view altogether, that’s what makes us unique. It’s also worth mentioning, this is not a review or sponsored post of any type. Unfortunately my trip was entirely funded out of my own pocket!

WALT DISNEY WORLD – THE HIGHS

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I’m not sure why he’s in this position, I suspect I’d had too many glow-tini’s

Characters – Obviously it goes without saying but all the characters and the interactions are fabulous. I did wonder if my children would have outgrown character meets this time around but definitely not! Favourites were definitely Anna & Elsa, Russell and Doug from Up and Pluto & Goofy.

Most days it looked like this…

Weather – It’s August, what’s not to love! If you know Florida, you’ll know that travelling in August can be somewhat of a risk. Daily, heavy, thunderstorms are extremely common. As it turns out, we arrived after an incredibly wet period and ended up with an unseasonably dry spell. This is of course a HIGH as rain can stop play big time. It was ultra hot though, and this could have quite as easily ended up as a low. Air conditioning is your friend!

But you know, some times it did look like this…

Fastpass+ – The new Fastpass+ scheme is pretty controversial, and definitely a Marmite topic. I happened to love it, however if you’re not a planner then I can see why this would gripe you. Personally I liked the ability to book fastpasses for key attractions, even if it did take some really quite meticulous planning. It meant we had a more relaxed holiday and actually spent a lot more time sitting around the pool, as we knew we could still go out at midday and get on the best rides. Definitely took away some stress.

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Teppanyaki Disney-style with the best chef EVER.

Food – The food at Disney is always a highlight for me and the biggest element of my planning. I shall be doing a whole separate post on this in the future. The restaurants at Walt Disney World are outstanding – so much variety and choice, and the themeing is excellent. Sure, like Fastpasses, you need to get yourself SUPER organised and book in advance (180 days in advance for the very popular ones) but it’s well worth it. Absolutely no excuse for eating burgers and fries every night.

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Grand Floridian Dessert Sampler. One word. YUM.

The people – When I say the people, I am not just talking about the cast members, who cannot do enough for you, I am also talking about other guests. We came across some really truly lovely American people. When trying to find a space for the parades (see LOWS!) a lovely family let us squeeze in next to them. Not only this, they also gave my children glow sticks. Such a lovely random act of kindness. When my son was violently sick all over the floor (and down my leg, naturally) some lovely Americans came to our aid with bottles of water and baby wipes. Really helped to take the pain out of a stressful situation.

Our hotel – We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge and cannot recommend it enough. It totally WOWed us and having stayed at some of the more value resorts in the past, the difference here was that it really felt more of a vacation rather than a theme park holiday. There were tons of activities at night including looking at the animals through night vision goggles – something my children adored. Our room was standard issue Disney but was in a great location – exactly where we had requested – within spitting distance of the food, lobby and transport. Perfect.

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The pool at our hotel, bliss.

Disney Transport – Not everyone loves the Disney Transportation and a whole lot of whinging can be done about the buses but when you think about it, they move a lot of people, to a lot of different places and are pretty regular. We never waited more than 20 minutes for a bus. I don’t know anywhere else I have been to that runs such an efficient service.

Wifi – Noticeable from my visit in 2011 was wifi. I know we shouldn’t care about having wifi on holiday but this was really helpful when we wanted to modify ride or restaurant reservations, or check out wait times using the the My Disney Experience App.

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Yes, that is a gorilla’s butt.

Wilderness Explorers at Animal Kingdom – Something we very nearly totally overlooked was the Wilderness Explorers experience at Animal Kingdom, an activity where children complete challenges and collect “badges” in their Wilderness Explorer books. It takes a lot of exploring in the park and encouraged us into other areas we’d not been before – we realised how much we’d missed out on in the past. The children thoroughly enjoyed this activity and collected all 30 badges, even though by the end of the day we were flagging!

Beautiful Belle

Enchanted Tales with Belle – This is a new attraction in the Fantasyland park extension so we weren’t really sure what to expect. We loved it! It was an interactive experience and the special moment was when my daughter got picked to be the Beast and danced with Belle. What a beautiful moment we’ll never forget, dancing with your favourite princess at Walt Disney World. I won’t lie, it brought a tear to my eye.

Dreamliner – We flew out on the new Dreamliner. I was a little nervous given all the media reports in the run up to our trip and I’ll admit, I didn’t really get the hype once aboard, however it got us into Orlando an hour early so for that reason alone – it’s a high!

I’m in danger of boring you all to sleep so I’ll leave my HIGHS there and continue the LOWS in another post very soon!

If you’ve been to Walt Disney World, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my HIGHS or what you would include in your own!

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I am ALL about the Disney Dining Plan!

 

Now this isn’t a sponsored post at all. I just wanted to clear that up before I launch into this post which is all about my love of Disney restaurants. I am paying for my Disney trip completely out of my own pocket, and ouch, don’t I know it (especially given recent work circumstances).

One of the things I love about going on holiday to Disneyworld is eating. No wonder I am a fatty. I love visiting all the different restaurants in the theme parks and also at the on-site hotels – it gives a great opportunity for a snoop around at somewhere different to where you are staying.

 

If you’re not family with the Disney Dining Plan (or DDP as it is known) it’s a plan you pay for upfront or if you’ve savvy, you get free when you book your holiday at certain times. The DDP includes a quick (counter) service meal, a table service meal and snack credits for each day you are in the park. It doesn’t sound a lot but it works out to be quite a lot of food as you get dessert with both meals. Luckily you can often get something to go!

Now with Disney restaurants, especially the most popular ones, you’ve got to book in advance. When I say advance?

I mean ADVANCE.

Like 180 days in advance.

I know, right. Sounds completely NUTSO to planning exactly where you are going to eat dinner every day for two weeks, six months in advance and plans change don’t they? It’s best to be flexible? Scrap that. If you want to eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table or the new favourite Be Our Guest, you’re going to have to grit your teeth and join ’em because let me tell you, you certainly won’t beat ’em!

 

It goes without saying this takes much careful consideration, weeks of planning even. There’s a lot to consider when working out a plan for your two week holiday but I do love salivating over menus and restaurant descriptions and as this is my second time on the DDP I’ve tried to go to new places with a few old favourites thrown-in for good measure.

We’ve got character meals, breakfast buffets, teppanyaki, excursions to other hotels…

 

We’ve got to visit the children’s favourite which is Chef Mickeys – it’s in the middle of the Contemporary Resort, and the monorail stops right inside the building. The excitement and entertainment factor of this knows no bounds for my transport-loving son. And I thought I’d let me husband choose his favourite which is Teppan Edo. My personal favourite last time was Yak and Yeti but they do an excellent quick service option so I have plumped for that instead. The restaurants I am most excited about trying this time around are ‘Ohana and The Grand Floridian Cafe. We went to Ohana for breakfast last time and it was lush so I am trying it for dinner and have high hopes. The Grand Floridian Cafe is generally just an opportunity to snoop around the Grand Floridian Hotel which is where I would stay if I had like another few extra thousand pounds to splurge.

So for me, the eating out is as much a part of the holiday as the theme parks themselves. Every single restaurant is a different experience.

The tipping sucks though. 20%? Bah.

Have you been to Disneyworld? I’d love to hear what your favourite restaurants are!