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Review: Le Cellier Steakhouse

Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot’s Canada Pavilion serves tender steaks, fresh seafood, cheesy poutine fries and other regional cuisine inspired by the provinces of Canada. From Disney:

Under sweeping stone arches and flickering candle sconces, this sizzling steakhouse recalls the wine cellars of grand château-style hotels like Fairmont Le Château Frontenac and Fairmont Château Laurier. Enjoy such signature dishes as the Canadian cheddar cheese soup and the “Le Cellier” mushroom filet mignon—or, for a lunch-time exclusive option, design your own 3-course feast from a selection of luscious prix fixe menu choices. And for a sweet ending to any meal, save room for maple crème brûlée or one of our other decadent desserts!

le cellier

I’ve had the pleasure of eating at Le Cellier twice and enjoyed both experiences greatly. The first time was during the Christmas holidays; the restaurant was decorated in a festive but understated way with garland and white lights. We had a wonderful time.

When we had the chance to return last month, we were worried that our meal, and our impression of Le Cellier, wouldn’t live up to the first impression it gave. Luckily, it very much did.

le cellier

My husband and I both started with the Canadian Cheddar Cheese soup. Made with Moosewood Beer and Applewood Smoked Bacon, this is unbelievably tasty. I thought it would be fun to dip Le Cellier’s famous pretzel bread in the soup, but in all honesty that made for too salty of a bite. As an aside, when we tried the “same” soup at Biergarten last year, we found it overall too salty, as well. But the soup offered up at Le Cellier is perfect.

le cellier

We tried the poutine on our previous visit and… we’re not fans. I love a good french fry and my husband does as well. But we like fries that are crisp, on the outside at least, and drowning fries in gravy or cheese creates a texture we’re not fond of. You know, my mother used to make what was, I’m told, a fantastic pork roast. I don’t like pork roast, though. So even the best pork roast in the world, which for all I know hers might have been, wasn’t ever going to be my favorite thing to eat. It’s the same thing with poutine. Le Cellier’s might be fantastic, if you like that kind of thing. We found it soggy. But it might be just what you’re looking at on a plate of smothered fries.

For the main course, I can never resist filet mignon. Le Cellier’s is served on a bed of mushroom risotto and with an asparagus relish (which I omitted) and truffle butter sauce. The risotto is creamy and rich; I didn’t quite finish all of it as a result. If I had one complaint it might be that the flavor is a little too strong and could overwhelm the flavor of the filet.

le cellier

The beef itself was cooked to an absolutely perfect medium rare, as requested. It had a nice char, but truly could be eaten with a butter knife, it was so tender. And delicious — drenched in the truffle butter, this might have been the most wonderful steak I’ve ever had. Is it buttery and rich? Yes. If you don’t like your beef that way, you might want to ask them to omit the sauce. I personally couldn’t resist ever bit just as it was.

Review: Le Cellier Steakhouse in Disney World's Epcot lived up to expectations & then some. Click To Tweet

le cellier

My husband enjoyed the Angus New York Strip, and he felt just as I did about the beef — perfectly cooked, tender and delicious. As per the menu it is normally served with a potato turnip gratin and crispy onions. This didn’t appeal to him (personally, I love turnips) so he asked if he could substitute the sides for those which normally accompany the Rib-Eye instead. Of course his request was accommodated, and so instead he enjoyed Crisp Fingerling Potatoes and Frisée salad with Bacon Viniagrette and Heirloom Carrots. He wasn’t excited about any of them; the salad was okay and the rest unmemorable.

Another disappointment was the side of Smoked Macaroni & Cheese that we ordered to share. We were debating between that and the Loaded Mashed Potatoes, and I think we should have gone the other way (next time!). The dish was creamy and the bacon crumble added nice texture, but when they say “Smoked”, they mean smoked. I found the flavor way too smoky. The portion size was very generous, though, and this was easily shared.

On our previous visit, my husband ordered the creamed spinach and enjoyed it very much. Our waitress also recommended the aforementioned Loaded Mashed Potatoes (and I ignored her, more fool I) so those are two sides you might want to give a try if smoky cheese isn’t your thing either.

le cellier

Finally, we arrived at dessert — who can resist? And neither of us could resist ordering the house specialty, the Maple Crème Brûlée. I can very highly recommend it, especially if you don’t have too much room left for dessert. The served dish wasn’t skimpy, but the creamy brûlée was light and airy, and didn’t feel overwhelming. The whipped cream tasted fresh, and the crisp, crunchy maple tasted wonderful. We were both very glad of our choice.

le cellier

Overall, we had a wonderful time at Le Cellier. You have to want steak, and you have to want it buttery and seasoned.  If you’re a fan of poutine, as well, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. The service was excellent and we enjoyed our experience there, both times. Give it a try and see if you agree that Le Cellier is not to be missed.

WDW News roundup: Rivers of Light (finally), Pandora, and Star Wars dates

This was a big week in Walt Disney World news as dates were confirmed for some highly-anticipated new attractions at the Parks: Rivers of Light, Pandora and Star Wars Land!

First, Rivers of Light is finally opening on February 17, 2017 — in just a few short days! “Get swept away in a timeless show that celebrates the beauty of all living things. With a brilliant fusion of water, sound and light, it’s quite unlike anything you’ve experienced before!” Both FastPass+ and dining packages (at Tiffins and Tusker House) are now available. After all the delays and setbacks, we’re looking forward to seeing this evening show at Animal Kingdom.

pandoraSpeaking of Animal Kingdom, on The Walt Disney Company Q1 FY17 earnings call, Bob Iger announced that Pandora: The World of Avatar will open on May 27, 2017. According to the Disney Parks blog, this new land will feature two exciting new rides:

First, the family friendly Na’vi River Journey will send guests through a bioluminescent rainforest. Their journey will end in an unforgettable encounter with a Na’vi Shaman, a figure who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora. And second, Avatar Flight of Passage will offer guests the jaw-dropping experience of exploring the world of Pandora atop a Banshee.

Also opening will be dining at Satu’li Canteen and a gift shop for Na’vi cultural items, toys, science kits, and more, Windtraders. Can’t wait until May? Read up to prepare for your Visit to Pandora now.

Big week in Walt Disney World news- Rivers of Light, Pandora & Star Wars Land openings revealed! Click To Tweet

Lastly, on that same call, Iger also revealed that Star Wars-themed lands at Disneyland park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be opening in 2019. From the Disney Parks blog:

At each location, guests will be transported to a never-before-seen planet – a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space – where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life. Check out some of our earlier images, including a glimpse at one of the signature attractions which lets you take the controls of the Millennium Falcon!

Buy tickets now for Beauty and the Beast

On March 17, rediscover a tale as old as time. Tickets are on sale NOW for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at BeOurGuest.com and at Fandango.

Check out the final trailer for a new take on a classic story:

Directed by Bill Condon, the film brings the story and characters audiences know and love to life in a stunning, cinematic event. From Walt Disney Studios:

The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic “Beauty and the Beast,” a stunning, cinematic event celebrating one of the most beloved tales ever told. “Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a Beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart of the true Prince within. The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s father; Josh Gad as LeFou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Ewan McGregor as Lumière, the candelabra; Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe, the wardrobe; Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster; Hattie Morahan as the enchantress; and Nathan Mack as Chip, the teacup; with Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.

Directed by Bill Condon based on the 1991 animated film, “Beauty and the Beast,” the screenplay is written by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos and produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman, p.g.a. and Todd Lieberman, p.g.a. with Jeffrey Silver, Thomas Schumacher and Don Hahn serving as executive producers. Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the animated film, provides the score, which includes new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as three new songs written by Menken and Tim Rice. “Beauty and the Beast” will be released in U.S. theaters on March 17, 2017.

Breaking news: Star Wars Episode VIII’s title revealed!

Attention Star Wars fans! The title of Episode VIII has been revealed.

From WALT DISNEY STUDIOS:

We have the greatest fans in this or any other galaxy.  In appreciation of the fans, we wanted them to be the first to know the title of the next chapter in the Skywalker saga:  STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

star wars last jedi

THE LAST JEDI is written and directed by Rian Johnson and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is scheduled for release December 15, 2017.

Review: Tiana’s Riverboat Party and Festival of Fantasy parade viewing

I recently had the chance to attend Tiana’s Riverboat Party – Ice Cream Social at Walt Disney World, complete with a VIP viewing location of the Festival of Fantasy parade. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun and special experience on a Magic Kingdom afternoon.

Riverboat paradeThe party begins with check-in at the Liberty Riverboat dock, 45 minutes before the parade begins. However, as with most things of this nature at Disney, we were allowed in 15 minutes before that, at 2 PM, instead of 2:15.

At the boat dock you’re greeted by a plethora of Cast Members and a variety of treats. The desserts and ice cream are pre-plated for you, with ice cream fixings on a side table.

riverboat paradeThere is almost no seating on the dock — just one bench right at the door — just tables scattered around for standing. You are welcome to go on the boat at any time, where there are seats to be found, but if you want to meet Tiana right away, you need to stay on the dock. Having said that, there’s plenty of time to go back and forth, and more meet & greet opportunities later.

Tiana leaves for the parade and the Liberty Belle Riverboat pulls away from the dock, just slightly moving closer to the street and parade path. This map shows the parade route (yellow line) and where the boat parks for the duration of the parade (orange).

riverboat parade

The big question is, is the view any good from there? I would answer yes and no. It was better than I was worried it would be, and yet there were still some issues. There’s plenty of room to line up along the railing of the boat to watch; we were on the upper level, where I would assume the angel is best. And you can see rather well, considering:

riverboat parade

But unless you stand in the exact right spot at the railing, there are a lot of trees in the way. Also, you’re not up close and personal, to be sure. Lastly, you miss out on seeing the front of the floats, since they go by you, not towards you, if that makes sense. It’s not a bad view, and if you’ve seen Festival of Fantasy before, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it just fine. But if you haven’t, or if you have little ones who enjoy the characters waving to them and interacting, you might be disappointed.

riverboat paradeAfter the parade, Tiana and Naveen rejoin the party and the Liberty Belle takes a cruise around the Rivers of America, circling Tom Sawyer Island. You can relax, meet & greet, and enjoy more snacks. Drinks and popcorn were available in ample supply.

One thing I hadn’t seen mentioned anywhere was the fact that a PhotoPass photographer was available during both the party and the cruise. I assume he took meet & greet photos, but he also was happy & willing to take any number of shots of visitors at the railing, watching the parade, or any other pose your heart might desire. It was nice — we love getting all the poses we can.

riverboat paradeOverall, we had a very nice time at the party. Cast members were above and beyond in regards to helpfulness and customer service. Treats and snacks were plentiful. The riverboat ride was relaxing, and it was nice to have a place to watch the parade from. But it wasn’t an ideal place. I can’t help thinking this special event would work better if, when it was time for the parade, guests were escorted off the boat and to a reserved viewing area on the street, much as they do for other parades, and then back onto the boat for the cruise. I still recommend the party the way it is, but think Disney should consider this small adjustment and improve the experience further.

Tiana’s Riverboat Party & Ice Cream Social tickets are available for $49 per adult and $29 for children ages 9 and under (tax included). For reservations, you can book online or by calling (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463.

MagicBand 2.0 Review

Disney has, as was rumored earlier this year, revamped MagicBands with a new removable “icon” that allows users to accessorize and wear their MagicBand in new ways. As an annual passholder, I received my new band in the mail just yesterday. As reported, new and renewing passholders are now being sent the new bands. While it’s expected that Disney will start shipping them to resort guests sometime soon, there’s no word yet on when. For the time being, then, for those who haven’t experiences them yet, here’s my hands-on review.

magicband

My hands-on review of Disney's new MagicBand 2.0 Click To Tweet

In every picture I’ve seen of the MagicBand 2.0, they look huge. Huger than the old band, big, kind of enormous. Mine in the picture above sort of looks gigantic too, even! The strange thing is that they’re not, really. When you’re wearing them, they feel the same. The Michey-head icon area is definitely wider than the rest of the band, which is the same size as before. But looking at it, I think it’s natural to focus on the icon, and not the rest.

MagicBand 2.0 is no heavier than earlier versions — I don’t have a scale that accurate to measure precisely, but comparing my new band to the one I received on a trip a few weeks ago, they seemed to weigh the same.

magicband

The other big difference is that the icon, that center Mickey-head puck, is removable, as you can see from the screws above. According to the Disney blog, if you buy an accessory or MagicKeeper, it will come with a tiny screwdriver to help you install your icon. Well, that’s helpful, but it brings home again that contrary to some initial thoughts, this change did not come about to save on producing multiple RFID units or because of conservation in general.

Speaking of MagicKeepers, which is what Disney is calling the alternatives to wearing your MagicBand on your wrist, they’re not for sale yet. Here’s a preview of what initial offerings will look like:

magickeepers

To be frank? So it’s a band or a keychain… not very exciting, in my opinion. I’m not a person who needs a MagicKeeper — I don’t mind wearing mine on my wrist — but I’m always interested in new Disney gear. This is underwhelming. Anyone could have just looped their previous MagicBand around a keychain fob in the first place, without all this icon removing business. I wear a watch on a lanyard that way, sometimes. I’m hoping future MagicKeeper offerings are a little more exciting.

Walt Disney World, a few seconds a day – December 2016 edition

Just got back from an 8-day visit to Walt Disney World! Much to report — we did a bunch of great signature events I want to share reviews on, but in the meantime, here’s a few seconds each day from our trip:

(I made this using 1SE — the 1 Second Everyday app on iOS. I love it and highly recommend it for all kinds of fun video projects!)

ROGUE ONE Special Extended Trailer: “Trust”

A new Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer, “Trust”, gives us more insight into the characters of this new chapter in an epic tale.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, “Trust”

From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, with Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur and Simon Emanuel are producing, with John Knoll and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The story is by John Knoll and Gary Whitta, and the screenplay is by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy.  “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016.

Official trailer and Facebook Live for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

From Walt Disney Studios: Check out the new trailer for Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated classic ”Beauty and the Beast.”  One of the most beloved tales ever told, the film brings it to life in a stunning, cinematic event directed by Bill Condon with an extraordinary ensemble cast, including: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald, Ian  McKellen and Emma Thompson. Beauty and the Beast opens March 17, 2017. #BeOurGuest

Check out the official trailer from Walt Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast opening 3-17-2017 Click To Tweet

Also, don’t miss stars Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, and director Bill Condon answering questions in a Facebook Live session this morning — at about 8:20 Pacific, 11:20 Eastern time on the Beauty and the Beast page.

New Beauty and the Beast teaser film poster

Just posted by Emma Watson on Facebook — the new teaser poster for Beauty and the Beast. I’m DEFINITELY going to need one hanging on my wall.

 

poster Beauty and the Beast

The poster is for Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated classic Beauty and the Beast. The film, which stars Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the title roles, brings the story and characters audiences know and love to life in a stunning, cinematic event, is directed by Bill Condon and features an extraordinary ensemble cast which also includes Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.

Beauty and the Beast will be released in U.S. theaters nationwide on March 17, 2017.

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