From being greeted during supper by Mickey and the gang, to trying food and drinks from around the world. From dining in the Beast’s castle, to laughing my way through a 50’s themed meal. Disney, you did not disappoint!
It’s official! At 25 years old I FINALLY took my first trip to Disney World.
I have been bugging my husband for the last couple of years to finally get this trip checked off my bucket list and we finally did it. I was so determined to “go big or go home” with this one and really do it right because I figured it would be a one time trip and it would be out of my system for us to go do grown up things like musicals on Broadway and wine tasting in Napa Valley. I was wrong. I was so wrong. I am now 100% Disney World addicted and before walking out of Magic Kingdom for the last time I stopped dead in my tracks and made Chad promise me that we would come back.
We agreed on 2019. That’s when the Star Wars land in Hollywood Studios is supposed to open so I used that as leverage.
Disney culture really is a thing of its own. I spent a lot of time researching before this trip because there was so much to know, so much to do and we only had 4 days to do it. I didn’t wanna miss out on anything. Between choosing your resort, selecting your FastPasses, dining plans and booking your early dining reservations there’s a lot to know. So trust me when I say plenty of thought went into each restaurant that we dined at. Through this post I will share with you where we chose to eat, what we liked or didn’t like about it and how we used our dining credits.
Before I dive in, I need to apologize for something in advance. I am an awful food blogger. In some cases, I got so excited about my food arriving that I forgot to take photos of it! So bare with me, the food photos may be limited but I hope that my descriptive writing and your incredible imagination can work together and make it happen.
While doing my pre-Disney research I discovered that dining plans were a little more controversial than I expected. If you’re planning a trip to Disney, spend some time looking at whether or not a dining plan is right for you, and if so, which one. Look at where you want to eat as well as what you would likely order and do the math. We decided that a dining plans was definitely worth it for us and we went with the “Regular Dining” plan which included (per person/per day):
- 1 table-service meal
- 1 quick-service meal
- 2 snacks
- 1 refillable mug (can be refilled for free at any resort but not inside the park)
For us this was PLENTY of food! We actually would split our quick service meals, allowing us to eat at 2 quick service locations instead of one each day. At the end of the trip we were able to convert our leftover “quick-service” credits to “snacks” and used that to purchase treats to take home with us.
It wasn’t until after we had booked our trip that Disney announced their “free dining dates” for 2017 and lucky for us it was during our trip! So although we had already decided on a dining plan and were prepared to pay for it, we ended up getting our dining plan for free. Traveling to Disney during “free dining” is a great way to save money!
We did discuss after the trip that should our next trip not be a free dining trip, we would still go ahead and purchase a dining plan. But again, crunch some numbers and see what’s best for your family!
We started our trip with a full day at Magic Kingdom (duh!). We booked a breakfast reservation at Crystal Palace which is a buffet character breakfast with Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore. We opted not to use a table-service credit for this restaurant. We chose to pay for this meal and use our credit for supper because breakfast (even as a buffet) is cheaper than supper and we wanted to make sure we really stretched our credits and got the most bang for our buck.
The breakfast buffet included things like fruit, meats and cheeses, a make-your-own-omelette station, french toast puffs, sausage, bacon, hash browns and of course MICKEY WAFFLES! That’s what I ran for. They were so good!
During the meal Pooh and his friends make their way around the restaurant greeting each table. The character meet is why I chose this restaurant. It’s the only place in the park that had Piglet & Eeyore and it’s an easy way to knock out pictures with 4 characters. Now keep in mind character meals generally take longer so give yourself a little extra time with these ones. It took about an hour for all of the characters to make their way to our table.
As far as food goes, this wasn’t the best meal we had at Disney but it was still really good. It’s pretty much your standard breakfast buffet but if you’re looking to get a photo with these cute characters I would recommend it. To me, it was definitely worth it and I am glad we got the chance to dine here but now that I have checked these characters off of my list, I’m not sure we will be stopping by on our next trip. This was a bit of a “one and done” restaurant for me.
For supper we used our table-service credit to dine at Chef Mickey’s, another character buffet. Chef Mickey’s is located in the Contemporary Resort and is just a quick monorail ride from Magic Kingdom. There are a couple reasons that we chose to dine here on our first day. First of all, while you are eating you get to meet and interact with the Fab 5, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto. Each one is dressed in their own chef attire which is super cute. Second, with this restaurant being so close to Magic Kingdom it was easy for us to get back to the park for fireworks.
The food here was really good! We started with your typical salads, breads, appetizers etc. and then dove into the Mickey shaped mac & cheese, ribs, corn on the cob, peel & eat shrimp and then made a stop at carving station.
For dessert there was cookies and cakes, macaroons and ice cream cones! It was all really good and we really had a fun time with Mickey and the gang. If you’re planning on dining here, make your reservation well in advance, it’s a popular one! We will definitely be making a trip back to Chef Mickey’s on our next visit.
We woke up more sore and tired than we expected to be but we had a big day ahead of us as we were off to Epcot for the International Food & Wine Festival! This truly is a foodie’s dream and I am so glad that the timing of this special event coincided with our trip dates. This year is also the 35th anniversary of Epcot so there was a lot of additional events, celebrations and merchandise available.
When we entered the park we received a passport that had stickers for us to use for each pavilion we tried as well as a list of the festival specials. For food and wine fest Epcot adds additional small booths for countries that don’t have a permanent spot in Epcot. This included Greece, Islands of the Caribbean, Australia, Patagonia, China, India and several others.
Our plan for Epcot was to take part in the unofficial “drink around the world tour”. We even got our custom buttons made.
And I think given the time we had (and the cash we were willing to spend) we did pretty good! We both ended up having the same favorite: the grapefruit beer in Germany. It was so crisp and refreshing, which was exactly what needed while we were walking a ridiculous amount of steps in the Florida heat.
As for food, our first meal was from Germany at Sommerfest. We used 1 quick service credit and shared a meal with a bratwurst with sauerkraut on a freshly baked roll, served with house-baked paprika chips and traditional potato salad. I loved the paprika chips so much. I think they were one of my favorite sides from the whole trip! The potato salad was also super tasty. The brat was definitely too big for the bun but it too was delicious. We got the sauerkraut on the side though, I am not a sauerkraut person.
Our early afternoon snack stop was in France because there were a few things here that I have been dying to try ever since I started planning this trip. We went to Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie, a quick service restaurant which serves sandwiches, salads, quiches, desserts and pastries. The also have beverages including specialty coffees as well as wine and champagne (bonjour!). I was totally here for the sweets though and I went straight for the raspberry macaroon and the strawberry tart. I was NOT disappointed. They were both as delicious as I had been imagining in my mind.
The macaroon is a little bigger than the ones you can get in a multi-flavor box set. It’s filled with a slightly tart lime cream, fresh raspberries and a raspberry-jam-like puree. My eyes lit up on my very first bite. It was incredible. I wish I had gone back for seconds (or thirds). Now this one is not a “snack credit” item but I would totally recommend purchasing it.
The tart was also heavenly. The super flaky tart shell was pilled high with a sweet, stabilized whipped cream and garnished with glazed (? I don’t know 100% what they did to the strawberries but I liked it!) strawberry slices. This one is definitely big enough to split between two people AND you can use a snack credit for this one!
Had to stop in Italy for pinot grigio and a cannoli. Obviously.
Before we left Epcot we stopped at the quick service window of Via Napoli and shared another quick service meal which included a very large slice of pizza, a bottled drink and a cannoli. I thought what the amount of food you got with your credit was really great value. The pizza was super delicious, but a little greasy. Nothing a little napkin dab can’t fix! The cannoli was also pretty good and satisfied my sweet tooth. If you’re wanting more options, Via Napoli also has a full restaurant serving full sized pizzas, pastas and salads. This is somewhere that I will definitely go back to during our next trip. I have heard nothing but good things about all the food here and wish we had just a little more time this trip to really try it out.
Our dinner that night was back at Magic Kingdom at the ever so popular and hard to book Be Our Guest Restaurant. This restaurant is one of the newest to Disney and is located inside the Beast’s castle. As a die hard Beauty and the Beast fan this was at the very top of my “must-do” list.
When a cast member comes to greet your party they let one member carry in a light up Lumiere to your table. You enter the castle, walk through the slightly dark but very detailed foyer and are lead into the stunning ballroom. Y’all. The imagineers at Disney knocked this one out of the park. The attention to detail is mind blowing. From the gold chandeliers to the painted cherub and cloud ceiling to the floor to ceiling window with a mountain view and FALLING SNOW it is literally right out of the movie.
We used a table service credit for this meal which included a non-alcoholic drink, entree and dessert per person. Any alcohol or appetizers we had to pay for separately, which we did because we had a “go big or go home” mentality for this one.
Our meal started off with fresh rolls brought to your table, which were delicious and really hard not to fill up on. For an appetizer I had the french onion soup, which is Belle’s favorite according to our server. The broth was rich and super flavorful. The layer of melted Gruyere on top of the crouton was so thick and created the most beautiful “cheese pull” when you lifted your onion loaded spoon.
Chad had the mussels for his appetizer. When the large bowl came out we realized we probably could have shared it but, oh well, we were on vacation! The “Marseilles-style Mussels” were steamed in a smoked tomato and saffron broth and served with a garlic crostini (which was perfect for soaking up the delicious broth).
Now this is where I get a failing grade. I forgot to take pictures of our entrees! I’m so sorry. I guess you will just have to make a trip to see for yourself! I ordered to braised beef which was served with vegetables, baby potatoes, balsamic-caramelized onions, and topped with crispy potato curls. Everything about this dish was incredible. The beef was fall apart tender and melted in my mouth. The vegetables were perfectly cooked and yummy but my favorite was the crispy little potato strings on the top. They added a nice little crunch. Chad ordered the roasted rack of lamb which was served over couscous, olive tapenade, sautéed snow peas, and a red wine gastrique.
Then it was dessert time. This was what I had been waiting for. When the dessert cart was brought to our table I didn’t hear anything that was said because I was already decided. There was no way that I was going to dine in the Beast’s castle without trying the grey stuff! The chocolate tart was filled with a cookie creme and topped with Lumiere’s “grey stuff” (cookies and cream buttercream). And let me tell you, the grey stuff really is delicious! Don’t believe me? Ask the dishes! But really. You can trust me on this one.
Chad decided to get something different so that we could try more than one thing. He picked the strawberry cream cheese cupcake, a vanilla cake filled with a strawberry mousse and topped with a cream cheese icing. It tasted just like cheesecake but with the texture of a regular cupcake. It was really yummy!
As we enjoyed our meal they played an instrumental soundtrack of the movie and, I am going to be 100% honest here, it was really hard not to cry. I knew 5 year old me was super excited for the experience I was sharing with my husband and I enjoyed every single minute of it.
When we were finished our meal we were invited to tour the two other dining areas. The first was the west wing where you could see the princes torn portrait on the wall as well as the enchanted rose. The second room was the art gallery which was filled with large portraits of Belle, the Beast and the other characters from the movie.
Tale as old as time.
Your very last stop on your way out was a chance to meet your host, the Beast. Right now this is the only place in Disney World where you can meet him. Now, even as a grown adult, I was 100% committed to the character meets throughout my trip and this one was no different. I greeted the Beast with a curtsy, thanked him for the invite and the wonderful meal and posed for our photo. Before leaving he gave me a twirl and I walked out of the castle feeling like a true princess.
If this is something that you would love to do during your Disney trip you’re going to want to book your advanced dining reservation 180 days before your stay. If not, you’re likely not going to get a spot at this one. It is very popular!
As you can see I am super excited to get to share all of this with you! For fear of turning this into a novel I am going to press pause on this post and come back with another one for you!
Stay tuned for part two of this post where I talk about our foodie adventures at Animal Kingdom (including Pandora’s Valley of Moa’ra), Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs as well as discuss the best way to use snack credits!
Thanks for tuning in my fellow Disney lovers.
Y’all come back now!