Friday, October 4, 2013

dining at disney

As promised, I wanted to share a bit about our food & dining experiences at Disney. Across the board, whenever “we’re going to Disney World” came into a conversation before our trip, I’d always have the same unanimous comment, “The food is great! Wasn’t the case a few years ago though.” So I’m not sure what happened, but I can chime in and say we all loved everything we tried everywhere.

We were part of a dining plan which allowed one quick service, one snack and one sit down dining per day. They can be used and spread out however you wish during your stay. Part of our stay we used our quick service at breakfast and then snacked in the middle of the day but found if you used your quick service for lunch your portion also included dessert. Since we stayed in Animal Kingdom, the majority of the dining on site was African-inspired. We just loved everything we tried as we ate at Boma (one night for a dinner buffet) and Mara for all of our breakfast services.

Owen enjoying Mickey waffles at Mara. One neat perk of staying at Kidani Village was our refillable cups for fountain beverages. I’m always really thirsty in pregnancy so I was constantly refilling.

Inside Animal Kingdom park we tried Tusker House (another dinner buffet) and Yak & Yeti Food Cafe for quick service. Both were great. A couple stand-out snacks I’m thinking might be exclusive to Animal Kingdom were Mickey Shaped Jalapeno Pretzels with Cheese and their Flavoured Nuts. We tried the sweet pecans and they are the most delish pralines I’ve ever tried! I brought them home and are planning on using them in Everyday Food’s Baked Banana-Pecan Oatmeal this weekend.

We ate at Wolfgang Puck's in Downtown Disney which was good, but I don't think I'd make an effort to go again. We also ate at Via Napoli at the Italy pavilion in Epcot. You'll find your standard Italian dining menu and the food was pretty decent. I had a pizza made in the wood burning oven and it wasn't bad. 

But the desserts were great. Here is some of the assortment that arrived at our table including Ricotta Fritters, Tirimisu and...

Ugly But Good - that's the name of this dessert.

Owen was thrilled to pieces over his chocolate sundae.
Here is one of Disney’s most infamous desserts, the Dole Whip! So famous you can buy a souvenir T-Shirt about this particular novelty, I found mine at Aloha Isle in the Magic Kingdom (but it is also available at the Polynesian Resort and at Disneyland in California).
I tried an Orange Dole Whip with Pineapple Juice and loved it. It was very refreshing, light and thirst quenching. Little did I know until arriving back home that it’s vegan, gluten-free and fat-free.

But all of these dining experiences mentioned above don’t come close to several very memorable spots. First is the Sci-Fi Drive-In located at Hollywood Studios.
Upon entering the dining room you are seated at a 50’s style car converted dining table overlooking a giant drive-in movie screen where you watch projected collections of 50’s science fiction movies. Considering my sister and her boyfriend (who runs) attend Trash Palace weekly and are huge retro movie fans, you can only imagine what a hit this place was. For me, it brought back memories of my years watching Off-Beat Cinema.

Here’s Owen watching my favourite 50’s cult hit Cat-Women on the Moon. Honestly, Owen was too transfixed with the movie screen to eat, I had to coax bites from him.
We all loved our dinners, as indulgent as they were. Some of us started off with milkshakes (the Coconut Cream Pie was to die for!) I ordered New York Strip Steak with Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Blue Cheese Butter and Crispy Onion Rings and a dessert of their homemade candy bar.

The other outstanding dinner experience was at Citricos. This high end restaurant is located inside the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa near the Magic Kingdom. I ordered the Madeira-Braised Short Rib entree and it was the best dinner I had on the vacation.

The dessert I ordered coincidentally is the most photographed dessert at Disney, the Warm Banana Chocolate Tart with a Belgian Chocolate Tiara. Short of eating in the castle, I felt like a princess dining here. I so highly recommended eating here if you ever have the chance.

All in all, when choosing options for dining at Disney, for us the dining plan was a huge success. However, you have the chance to completely squander the credits if you order quick service for every meal and don’t attempt to book your sit down dinners (which you need to do months ahead of time). Some of the best places to dine in Disney are booked years in advance and unless sitting around for no less than an hour waiting is part of your itinerary, it really is a good idea to book ahead.

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