Tag: dining

Watching Happily Ever After fireworks from inside Cinderella’s Royal Table

We love the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom, Happily Ever After, and we’re always looking for new and different ways to view the show … especially since that front-of-the-castle mob scene can be exhausting! We’ve tried watching from Fantasyland, from the deck of California Grill, from ‘Ohana at the Polynesian, and soon will be attending the dessert party at Magic Kingdom. This last trip, though, we tried something outside the box: we had dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table during the show.

To start with, some tips on how to watch Happily Ever After from the castle. Once you pick a day to go, find out what time Happily Ever After is scheduled for that night and then try to get a reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table for dinner shortly before that time.  This can be a tough-to-get reservation, so you have to make it a priority when you can make dining reservations 180 days before your trip. Once you get the reservation, make sure to re-check that timing of the fireworks show when it gets closer to your trip. Times can change, and you’d need to make adjustments.

Cast Members will start roping off access to the castle as much as an hour before the fireworks show, so leave yourself plenty of time to get to Cinderella’s Royal Table, which is located in the rear of the castle. We had been shopping on Main Street, for example, and at 8 PM started heading to the restaurant. Front and side entrance to the castle was already roped off, and we had to go around the long way either through Liberty Square or down by the tea cups, and for the most part, you’re going against the crowdflow. We had plenty of time to get to our 8:30 reservation, but were glad we’d left early. Even when you reach the back, you’ll need to let them know you have a dining reservation or you won’t be let into the roped-off area around the castle. At your reservation time you’ll be checked in and taken in to meet Cinderella, and then escorted up to your table. For an ideal view of the fireworks, you’d want to be seated at the windows.

fireworks

Watching Happily Ever After from our table at Cinderella’s Royal Palace.

Unfortunately, Cinderella’s Royal Table does not take seating requests of this nature. As we and every other person who asked was very politely told, it’s simply not possible due to the fact that almost everyone would make this request. You’ll still be able to see from a great many tables in the restaurant, but the window spot is definitely best. You’ve just got to cross your fingers and hope for a little pixie dust on this one. Here’s a bit of information, though — there are a number of two-person-only tables at the windows. At least one or two four-tops as well, but because of the small, angled space, it seems like the restaurant tries to take advantage of every bit of space and sort of crams those tables in there. So if you’re just a party of two … you might stand a better chance. Still not a guarantee, though — we saw couples seated at four-tops elsewhere in the restaurant.

When Happily Ever After begins, the princesses leave the dining area and the music and voiceover from the show is piped in to the restaurant. The fireworks begin and you have a truly magical view.

Some of the fireworks are shot off behind Fantasyland and you have a perfect view of those here. Others shoot off from the castle itself, literally right above your head! It isn’t too loud but it can be dazzling.

fireworks

Obviously, you miss the castle projections that are part of what tells the story of Happily Ever After — you’re in the castle they’re being projected on. I certainly don’t recommend skipping those entirely, so catch the show with a clear view of the projects another time. But if you’re looking for a different experience, I very much recommend this one.

A bit of video from the show — you’ll hear a lot of “Oh mys!” from a young lad seated nearby. We were all glued to the view.

Review: Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian

Having Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian’s Garden View Tea Room has been on my Disney bucket list for some time.  Since the tea room is relatively small, reservations can be a little hard to come by, and it’s also difficult sometimes to carve out time in a busy Disney Parks afternoon. I very highly recommend doing so, though, after our delightful experience there.

The cafe is small, light and airy, but the seating is comfortably intimate without being too tight. We were seated and offered ice water while we went over the tea options on the menu.

afternoon tea

Having already had lunch that day, we opted for the simplest/smallest tea, the Bedfordshire Tea. I will end up saying this over and over, but it was far more food than you might think. Somehow even now it seems like a few finger sandwiches and desserts would not be enough to fill anyone up, especially if you’re Disney foodies like we are. But it was substantial. We noted another couple two tables over ordered the Cheshire Tea, which adds a fruit and cheese plate. The plates were enormous. Next time, we’ll skip lunch and order the Cheshire. Neither of us are fans of caviar so I don’t think we’ll ever go for that option, but it’s available for those who are, with the Berkshire Tea.

Then we made our dessert choice. The Bedfordshire Tea has these three courses. The first is finger sandwiches, the second is a scone, and then the final course is dessert. You each choose between one of three desserts: pastries, including a mousse-filled swan, macaroons, and a chocolate-covered strawberry; strawberries topped with whipped cream; or,  an English trifle with custard, ladyfingers, fruit and cream.  We decided to each choose something different and share. I got the trifle, and my husband got the pastries.

afternoon tea

Next, we made our tea selections. There were a few that looked interesting, and I decided to go with the Rose Garden black tea. It was really good. My husband can’t have caffeine of any kind, so we were happy to see a very nice herbal tea selection on the menu. It’s nice when there’s more than just your basic chamomile. He chose Thoroughly Minted and liked it a lot, but wants to try Golden Caramel Rooibus next time.

afternoon tea

afternoon tea

Very soon, a pot of your chosen tea is brought to your table, complete with a tea cozy. This keeps the tea very warm — in fact, be careful when you remove the cozy and pour, the pot is hot. It holds a lot of tea, but if you run out, they’ll happily bring you more.

afternoon tea

The first course of finger sandwiches arrived. This was the only disappointing part of the experience, with one notable exception. Starting clockwise from twelve o’clock, the sandwiches pictured below were chicken curry, goat cheese and fire-roasted tomato, cucumber, caramelized onion tart, and egg salad. I found the chicken curry, goat cheese, and cucumber sandwiches to be fine but bland, and the egg salad to be unpalatable because it contained celery (that might be just me, but I hate celery in egg salad). My husband, on the other hand, considered the onion tart to be one of the best things he’s ever eaten, so it saved the day.

afternoon tea

Moving forward, though, things went back to being delectable. The scone (second and bottom tiers, below) was nicely made, not too dense; I think it was orange and golden raisin in flavor.  I tried each of the accompanying gooey bits in turn. Loved the marmalade and clotted cream. The lemon curd was too tart for me, and overpowered the scone. The berry tart was a quick, enjoyable bite.

afternoon tea

Finally, dessert. The macaroons were light and flavorful, and the strawberry dipped in chocolate certainly didn’t disappoint. The mousse-filled swan was beautiful to look at, airy, and a perfect bite. As for the trifle , I enjoyed every bite — and it’s a lot of bites! The trifle is seasonal, so mine was a lemon custard and blueberries. Not even two of my favorite flavors, but still delicious. And filling. The trifle alone, with tea, would have been a nice-sized dessert/snack. I recommend each getting different selections and sharing as we did.

afternoon tea

The Afternoon Tea at the Garden View Tea Room of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is held seven days a week, on the following schedule:

Review: Cake Decorating at Amorette’s Patisserie

Amorette’s Patisserie, a delightful bakery in Disney Springs, recently began offering an early-morning cake decorating class. While originally scheduled just for the summer, Disney and Amorette’s have extended this experience through the end of 2017, and recently my husband and I had a chance to attend.

cake decoratingThe class is small — only 14 students at a time — and begins at 8:45 am, before most of the stores in Disney Springs are open. (If you’re driving, park in the Lime Garage, and Amorette’s is just a few steps away from the entrance.) You are greeted promptly and offered your choice of specialty coffee, water, juice, mimosas or bellinis, and refills are encouraged.  You choose your station, fully stocked with the supplies you’ll need, and then the fun begins!

There are two instructors, both pastry chefs at Amorette’s, and they begin with a little bit of the history of Amorette’s and an overview of the cake making process, including descriptions of flavor profiles, ingredients, and their tools of the trade.

Here’s the best news: even though the gorgeous Mickey cake you’ll be decorating is a work of art, this isn’t an advanced class. Amorette’s does all the heavy lifting for you. When they started talking about frosting with the buttercream and the crumb coat and the second layer and showed us how to smooth out the knife strokes, I got pretty dubious we’d be able to pull this off. But they know that and aren’t expecting more than a novice can do, so the cake with its many layers has been crafted and baked and frozen and frosted in advance.

cake decorating

From here on out, Amorette’s walks you through the process step by step, bringing additional supplies (and even taking them away, to prevent mess and save space) as needed. The key to this instruction is learning how to pour glaçage and coat Mickey’s sculpted ears, tail, belt and buttons with edible paint.

cake decorating

There are actually three layers of glaçage on each cake! In between, your cake is whisked away to spend some time setting in the freezer. In the meantime, you paint Mickey’s ears, tail, and buttons. After the final layer is set, you add these elements to the cake, as well as Mickey’s belt. For the finishing touch, you step to the front to write your name, or anything else you like, on the back of the cake. I let my husband do this part — it looked really hard!

cake decorating

And voila! Your cake is finished, kept into the cooling case until you’re ready to leave. Amorette’s can hold the cake for you until the end of the day, if that suits your plans better. When you pick it up, either way, they pack it for you in a delightful hat box and send you on your way with a delicious treat to enjoy. The cakes do need to be refrigerated, so you do need to think about what you’re going to do with it ahead of time. If you’re dining at a Disney restaurant that evening (and can get to it easily), you might be able to call ahead and arrange for them to hold it in their fridge for you. Or, you can take it back to your resort. If you’re staying at a Disney resort, I can report that we were just able to fit it in our room fridge by taking it out of the box.

cake decorating

 

The 90-minute cake decorating class is currently offered Sunday through Thursday at 8:45 am. There are two different classes to choose from:

Classic Mickey Design: Featured in Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday classes
Artist’s Current Seasonal Mickey: Featured in Monday and Wednesday classes

The cost is $129 plus tax (there was no AP discount), which covers up to 2 guests (who must be age 10 and up) decorating one cake.  The cost is really rather reasonable when you consider that the Mickey Cake itself retails for around $60. Once you consider the beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, that are included, the class fee itself, per person, is nominal.

Cake Decorating

We had a terrific time. The teachers are friendly and encouraging and ready to help in any way you need. We learned a lot without needing to do anything that required special skills. The small class size lent to a fun atmosphere and at the end of it all, you take home a really delicious cake. Was our cake perfect? No, but it looked pretty good considering we’re total amateurs. If you’re looking for a fun new experience to try at Disney, you’ll definitely enjoy the cake decorating class at Amorette’s Patisserie!

Review: AMC Disney Springs 24 Dine-In Theatre

Last weekend my husband and I went to Disney Springs to see Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s new live action version of the animated classic. (The movie was wonderful,  by the way!) We decided to head up to WDW for the movie so we could do some shopping, be immersed in Disney, and to try out AMC’s Dine-In Theatre.

Seating is reserved. The chairs are comfortable, but getting old; the leather is stiff and aging. They lean back but in a desk chair kind of way, not like the feet-up recliners you see in a lot of theaters these days. In front of you there’s a table for your food, which conveniently has a foot bar I found very comfortable to prop my feet up on. It’s not stadium seating at all, though; there isn’t much slope to the floor so I wouldn’t get seats too far in the back. Overall, the theater viewing room itself needs a refurb soon.

disney springs amc

Our movie was at 11 AM, so we got there a little early to get our food order in right away. There are menus waiting for you, as well as silverware and 3D glasses, if needed. You can look at the full menu here on Disney’s site, but it offers a wide array of choices, including but not limited to burgers, boneless wings, nachos, sushi rolls, flatbreads, teriyaki bowls, mac & cheese, salads, wraps, tacos, chicken tenders, fish & chips, and doughnuts. You can also, of course, order traditional movie fare such as popcorn, candy, and drinks.

When you’re ready to order, you press a button at your table.

disney springs amc

Shortly thereafter, a waiter arrives and takes your order. The food arrived rather quickly after that — we had everything, drinks, appetizers, and main course, before the movie started. The waiters were all extremely helpful, polite, and attentive. Definitely a little of the Disney spirit of customer service going on there.

Review: AMC Disney Springs 24 Dine-In Theatre at Walt Disney World Click To Tweet

You don’t have to order early, though. And if you need anything during the movie, like a refill or napkins or dessert, just push the button and your waiter comes by again. This, though, was my biggest concern about a dine-in theater. I hate it when people talk, use their cell phones, or do anything distracting during the movie. It drives me crazy. People ordering food, waiters walking around, all during a Disney extravaganza and remake of one of my favorite movies, that I’d waited over a year for? Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Weirdly, though, it wasn’t at all distracting. The aisles are wide and the waiters really know how to be unobtrusive. It was fine, no problems, no distractions. Trust me, if there’s ANYONE this arrangement was going to bother, it was me, and it didn’t.

So, on to the food!

disney springs amc

We ordered two appetizers, the first being the Crispy Brussels Sprouts. They were very nicely seasoned, crunchy-crispy, and the cheese was a nice added touch. I know everyone isn’t a fan of Brussels sprouts (though I don’t know why not!) but these were delicious.

disney springs amc

We also got the loaded tater tots, and these were a little disappointing. The tots did have cheese sauce, bacon, scallions, and Ranch dressing, but not the way I’d imagined it — there was just a drizzle of each on top of regular old tater tots. Which are always yummy, but I expected something a little more decadent.

disney springs amc

Both of us had burgers and fries as our entrée. The fries were pretty good, especially while they were still hot. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, nicely greasy. The burger wasn’t exceptional, though. The bun was fine but the patty itself was overcooked and dry.  My husband got the Royal Burger, which was loaded with bacon, brie, carmelized onions, sweet fig jam, and Royal sauce, and he didn’t notice that it was dry, given all those gooey toppings. A better-cooked burger to start with, though, would be a good improvement all around.

We had a great time at the AMC Dine-In at Disney Springs and would definitely go to a movie there again, especially a Disney movie, just to feel a little more immersed in the land of the Mouse. A few updates, a fresh coat of paint, and a better meat thermometer and I’d give it an A+, but even without those it’s a fun experience I can definitely recommend.

 

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.

My Disney Experience app now gives directions

app mde directions You can now get turn-by-turn directions for Disney World right from your My Disney Experience app!

In its latest update, the My Disney Experience app (available for iPhone and Android) allows you to search for an attraction within the parks. . A blue line will appear on a map leading to the destination and showing your location as you head over there, with turn-by-turn directions as well. The program will also display estimated times to reach your next stop — completely estimated, though, because the app does not live update in regards to crowds, parades, or weather. Otherwise, though, it’s kind of like Google Maps for Disney World.

From any attraction, restaurant, shop or hotel’s p age, you can touch ‘Get Directions,’ and then choose where you are departing from. People traveling between theme parks can get information on routes by bus, monorail and boat. Visitors can also find out how to reach shops and eateries within the Disney Springs entertainment complex.

There’s also been an update to the Dining Reservations section of the app, making it easier to find that ADR you’re looking for. There’s a new, clean interface for a quick and simple search, with the option to then filter by location, cuisine, Table Service vs Quick Service, Dining Plan eligibility, rating, accessibility, and price range.

The Muppets’ PizzeRizzo replaces Pizza Planet

Big news reported from both The Muppets and the Disney  — the formerPizza Planet location at Hollywood Studios will reopen this fall as the redesigned Muppet-themed PizzeRizzo, as part of Muppets Courtyard.

muppets pizzerizzo

From the Disney Parks Blog:

Rizzo The Rat owns and operates the pizzeria, where guests can grab a pizza pie and a cold drink. Enjoy a casual Italian-American dining experience in a whole new way, through the eyes of the lovable, wisecracking Muppet.

Walt Disney Imagineering hid hints of Rizzo, his extended family and friends who have visited PizzeRizzo over the years throughout the two-story quick-service location. In addition to the expansive indoor and outdoor seating area, guests will be able to dine in a “cheesy” banquet room, or take five in a special booth designated just for Rizzo’s celebrity friends.

This change has been rumored for awhile. And it’s a little sad for fans of the old pizzeria, but it’s a logical shift. Pizza Planet may be gone, but in years to come I’m sure we can expect new Buzz and Woody-themed restaurants in Toy Story Land.

New Muppets-themed restaurant PizzeRizzo is coming to Hollywood Studios this fall. Click To Tweet
RizzoTheRat

Rizzo the Rat, testing out a slice.

Since Disney acquired The Muppets, it hasn’t seemed like they’ve had a big enough presence in the parks, aside from MuppetVision 3D. On the other hand, last year’s more-adult-tweaked The Muppets on ABC — which, for the record, we loved every minute of — was not renewed for a second season, which seems to indicate a lowered interest in all things Muppet. Still, all in all, it could be a great addition. Although there aren’t any other details about the menu, my guess is that it will be similar to Pizza Planet’s, possible slightly expanded.

 

Club Villain returns to Hollywood Studios

Club Villain, which seemed to come to an end a few weeks ago, is alive and well and taking reservations for September and October, 2016.

clubvillain2016

There were rumors it was going to return — eagle-eyed Disney fans noticed that there were auditions posted for new Club Villain dancers, after the show had closed. The rumors were true and this unique event will return to Hollywood Studios this fall.

Held every Friday and Saturday evening in September and October 2016, as well as on on Halloween night, October 31st, this is a hard ticket event with a steep price ($129 per person, tax and gratuity included). Regular park admission is also required.  The event is offered twice nightly at 5:15 and 8:30 PM.

I haven’t had a chance to attend this one yet, but I’m interested and glad to have the chance to do so again. I’ve read very favorable reviews — like this one from the Disney Food Blog — and I’m a sucker for unique experiences.

Here’s some more information from the Disney World web site, where you can make reservations as well, up to 90 days in advance:

Dance the night terrors away with Dr. Facilier and his evil-diva cohosts at this specially ticketed dining event at Sunset Showcase.

Sunset Showcase loudly presents Club Villain, a frightfully fun dance-and-dine event featuring some famous fiends!

This spellbinding evening serves up decadent New Orleans delicacies like tender beef strip loin rubbed with herbes de Provence, Voodoo sticky “pig wings” with citrus gremolata and spicy shrimp sautéed with Andouille sausage, tomato, okra and onions over creamy polenta.

Trick or treat yourself to some chilling cocktail concoctions—specialty alcoholic drinks plus beer and wine—hilarious stage-show numbers and up-close encounters with Disney’s most dastardly doomsday divas. Mix and mingle with mysterious Maleficent, hilarious Queen of Hearts, the delirious Evil Queen and the always fur-fetched Cruella De Vil—and wicked jams from our house DJ!