Thursday, April 7, 2011

Everything You Need to Know About Disney Dining

So as I mentioned in my previous post my boyfriend and I recently went to Disney World for vacation since he was attending a conference there. Before we left I did all my Disney food research-something that took more time than I thought and I was not quite sure if it was worth it in the end. Why? Well because I didn't realize how hard it is to get from one Disney hotel to another. In order to make this trip you need to transfer buses from either one of the parks or from downtown Disney-you cannot go directly from one hotel to another. Honestly a lot of the best restaurants are at the Disney hotels-Todd English's Blue Zoo at the Dolphin, Sanaa and Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, The California Grill at the Contemporary Resort and Citrico's at the Grand Floridian (these are all hands down the best restaurants at the Disney Resorts and reservations should be made). So unless you have tons of time (a couple days at each park) then don't plan on taking the time to leave the park and waste the precious hours you could be spending experiencing the real Disney magic.

As for the Disney dining plan it really is a rip off. You are not going to spend that much money in a day on food no matter where you go. As of the new year Disney has tried to change this fact by upping the prices of various restaurants that are on the Disney dining plan-such as Boma which is an African themed dinner buffet.

Hollywood Studios Park was by far my favorite Disney park (there are 4 total). They have some great dining options and my favorite one was the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater. This restaurant is so great because it is one of the few dining places that really showcases how paying attention to atmospheric details can really make something an 'experience'. Disney is a master at this type of artistry when it comes to their rides and even the buildings on the streets that you walk through in the parks but, unfortunately, very few of their in park restaurants receive this kind of attention.

The Sci-Fi Dine In theme is the idea that you are at an outdoor movie theater sitting in an old-time car (cadillac?) enjoying dated sci-fi movie previews and shorts. You are surrounded by other cars 'parked' by you where people are eating and it always looks like it is night time with the stars shining down on you. The food was great. They know how to make a good juicy burger. Their burgers come topped with sauteed mushrooms, onions, and your choice of cheese as well as a side of perfectly done french fries (yum!). Justin got a Reuben (he loves those things) which was perfectly toasted, brimming with meat and cheese the only downside was he had to ask for extra dressing-which he did get right away. The milkshakes are a must-the oreo milkshake is one of the best I have ever had.

If we had been more hungry we would have eaten at Mamma Melrose's restaurant because the menu looked great (they had some really nice daily specials-better than the menu shown on-line).

The Starring Rolls Cafe is supposed to have huge delicious cupcake but they close early so we missed out-don't make that mistake too!

The Animal Kingdom also has some great dining options. Flame tree bbq has some raving reviews on trip adviser and they are pretty accurate. This meal is a great deal for Disney. You get tons of food (sides of baked beans and cole slaw included) for a good price. The ribs were sooo good and my side of crispy onion rings was the highlight. Justin enjoyed his bbq chicken (though the ribs were way better) and we were way too full to indulge in dessert (though we did grab a chocolate mickey mouse bar later-such quality chocolate!). The Tusker House lunch buffet is also a great place to go (one of the most reasonably priced buffets at Disney) is you like creative flavorful food. I'm not gonna lie-Justin and I walked through the place to decide between flame tree and Tusker for lunch (we did have a reservation but the great thing about Disney dining reservations is that you can make them and break them with no penalties-though I know its not the nicest thing to do). The buffet looked great but I was in a bbq mood and the desserts didn't wow me.

Everyone always seems to think that Epcot should be the best place to eat at Disney World but I only think its good if you make the right choices. Justin and I had lunch at restaurant Marrakesh-the Moroccan restaurant. The food was soo good and so authentic. The people who worked there were absolutely from Morocco-when I asked for a side of harrisa sauce (their form of ketchup) it was brought out right away no questions asked. We got a sampler platter so I got to try the beef brewat roll (Baked layers of thin pastry stuffed with seasoned minced beef, eggs,
fried and sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar), chicken bastilla (Baked layers of thin pastry stuffed with minced chicken, almonds, eggs
and sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar) and a grilled brochette of chicken (a chicken kebob) with rice and some veggies. I loved it! There was a really talented belly dancer that performed while we were there and Princess Jasmine and Aladdin came on through. When you go to epcot you need to eat at the countries where you can get new and exciting food-not Italy or China whose food you could just eat anytime at a restaurant at home.

If I ever get to go on that show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate..." on food network then I would have to include the caramel popcorn that I got fresh at Karamelle Kuche. The flavor was just incredible-not like the processed stuff full of preservatives that you get at the store.

Another great snack idea in Epcot is stopping by Norways bakery to get some School bread which is basically with delectable sweet roll filled with custard and topped with coconut.

Our dinner was at the San Angel Inn-hands down the best dining ambiance in all of Disney world since you are sitting in the middle of a mexican market staring at an ancient Aztec temple and watching people on boats float on by on the river. The food though? Not so much. The chicken mole was dry and came with no vegetables. The salsa was awful. I did like the duck tacos but the plantains were undercooked and the churros were way below par.

The Magic Kingdom you ask? What did you eat there? Pretty much nothing good. The Magic Kingdom is like a food desert. There is pretty much nowhere you can go to get a good meal. You can get a dole whip (fro yo covered in pineapple juice) or you can be smart and take the monorail (this is the only park you can do this at and it is quick) to one of the close by hotels-namely Citrico's at the Contemporary or go to the Grand Floridian for high tea at the Garden View Lounge. I really wanted to do this tea but I met wit my aunt and cousin for lunch instead at the Polynesian (mediocre food but not bad).

Everyone should check out downtown Disney and if you do make a trip to Paradiso 37 for dinner. The mahi mahi fish tacos were the best fish tacos I have ever had. The churros and sopapillas were lovely and I liked the nice touch of the bitter dipping chocolate as well as the dulce de leche (caramel) sauce-which I loved. This place is real creative mexican food-not the disappointing stuff they tried to feed us at Epcots so-called mexico.

So those are the deets on Disney Dining. Questions? Concerns? I probably have the answers.

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