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December 2009 Archives

December 1, 2009

Castaway Cay Enhancements - Preparing for the Disney Dream

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Preparing for the Disney Dream - Castaway Cay Enhancements

While onboard the November 7th Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Disney Magic, I had the opportunity to get a peek at some of the new developments on Castaway Cay. I know that some folks have expressed concerned about how the new development is affecting the island, so I will address this first.

Disney Cruise Line (DCL) is doing an excellent job of keeping the construction impact to a minimum. As of my sailing, all island facilities were open to guests. As you walk around the island there are many construction fences, but the construction is well contained inside the fences.

Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

The only significant impact to the island is in the area between the Heads Up Bar, located on the far side of the family beach, and the teen beach.

Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

Portions of the lagoon are closed in this area for construction of the new Pelican's Plunge slide and for the barge/crane for Pelican's Plunge and the cabanas. The rest of the beaches, paths, and facilities are still wide open, and the island is just as beautiful as ever.

After the Magic docked at Castaway Cay, I noticed that they had begun pier enhancements for the larger ships. It looks like this process was not started too long ago. As far as I could tell, they have not started dredging the channel yet.

Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

DCL has already constructed the new tram stop for the tram running from the pier to the family beach. It has been moved across the path from the old tram stop, about 80 feet closer to the ship. This means that guests no longer have to cross the tram path to get to the tram stop, and it seemed to make the foot traffic flow better. The tram has also been extended from 3 cars to 4 moving the crowds along much faster.

Old Tram - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

New Tram - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

Arriving at the family beach, I spotted the new Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure , one of the Castaway Cay shore excursions. It is now located between the boat rental area and Gil's Snorkel Rentals. The building and stingray lagoon are double in size from the original stingray area by the teen beach.

Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

The family beach area and Cookie's BBQ remain unchanged. Most of the construction is in the area surrounding the sports beach and the teen beach on the far end of the family beach. The bike rental hut has been moved closer to the Grouper Game Pavilion.

Bike Rentals - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

Bike Rentals - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

Bike Rentals - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

The former site for bike rentals has been leveled and will become the new Spring-a-Leak water playground.

Spring-a-Leak - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

I also noticed that the tram stop from the family beach to the Serenity Bay adult beach is being rebuilt. My guess is that they might be extending the tram route from the ship to this point, helping to move more guests to the far end of the family beach.

Serenity Bay Tram - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

Next, I checked out the new Pelican's Plunge slide. It is in its permanent location and is now being prepped for its opening in summer 2010. There are two large slides, one enclosed and one unenclosed. All of the equipment is on a floating platform that will be stable, but has the ability to rise and fall with the tides. The slides are accessed by a spiral staircase and end up in the lagoon. There is also a water spray area and a large bucket that will fill with water and dump over onto the "castaways" below.

 Pelican's Plunge - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

 Pelican's Plunge - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

 Pelican's Plunge - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

 Pelican's Plunge - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

 Pelican's Plunge - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

I took a peak at the new beach cabanas and they look very fun. One of the cabanas was very close to completion, but the rest have a ways to go. Once finished, they will be in a prime location right near Pelican's Plunge.

 New Cabanas - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

 New Cabanas - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

 New Cabanas - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

 New Cabanas - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

 New Cabanas - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

Behind another construction wall, the buildings for Cookies Too, the new family lunch buffet area are well under way. It is my understanding that the building in the back will be the food service building, the building to the left will be a seating area, and the Grouper Game Pavilion will be converted into a second seating area.

 Cookies Too - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

 Cookies Too - Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

A new shaded structure, In Da Shade Game Pavilion will be located near the Family Beach.

The original Castaway Ray's building is still on place, no word on the future of this structure.

 Castaway Rays- Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise Line

Serenity Bay, the adult beach, remains unchanged at this time and there is no construction in process. The only additions that have been announced are some of the new Beach Cabanas and also a few additional massage cabanas.

Castaway Cay is looking great and I think Disney Cruise Line has done a great job keeping the effects of construction to a minimum. They placed a letter in my stateroom apologizing for any inconvenience or construction noise, but I did not have any problems. I was there on a Friday, and no construction was going on, so it appears they are trying to get work done on the days when no ships are in port.

The new changes are very exciting, and it looks like when the changes are completed next summer, Castaway Cay will be more magical than ever.

Check out the Disney Cruise Line Press Release on Castaway Cay's Enhancements.

Mike Dion is a 19 year old sophomore at the University of Florida (UF) and is pursuing a bachelors degree in International Business. Born in Grand Rapids, MI he fell in love with Walt Disney World on his family's many trips to Orlando. In 2002, he and his family moved to Orlando and have been WDW annual pass-holders ever since. Mike's favorite ride is Splash Mountain, and his favorite restaurant is Ohana. Mike took his first cruise on the Disney
Wonder in 2006 and has since taken 11 cruises with 7 on Disney Cruise Line. In 2008 Mike visited Disneyland for the first time, returning in 2009 as part of the D23 expo. During the school year Mike performs improv comedy at UF.

December 5, 2009

Bluezoo - Walt Disney World Dolphin - A Review

Guest Blogger Jeff Onorato is back, this time with a review of Bluezoo!

Celebrity chef Todd English is the owner of 18 restaurants in the United States. He has hosted TV cooking shows such as "Cooking In With Todd English" and "Todd's Table". He has also appeared on nationally syndicated television programs such as Iron Chef USA and Martha Stewart Living. On top of all of this, he has also authored or co-authored 3 books.

In 2004, this culinary expertise was introduced to Walt Disney World via Bluezoo, an upscale seafood restaurant located in the Dolphin.

Bluezoo


Bluezoo


Bluezoo is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated restaurants in Walt Disney World. I have never had a problem booking reservations there on short-notice. In fact, on my most recent visit I didn't have one at all. My decision to dine there was on a whim at the last minute.

Nevertheless, I do recommend making Advanced Dining Reservations if you are planning to dine here. They can be made by calling (407) WDW-DINE or Online at http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/dolphin-resort/dining/todd-english-blue-zoo/reservations/.

Bluezoo


Upscale, chic, and elegant - diners are welcomed into the restaurant by a cascading waterfall which displays images of the wonderful food they are in-store for.


Bluezoo


After checking in, you pass the beautiful bar area flanked by a school of "fish".

Bluezoo

Bluezoo

There is also a lounge area, ideal for kicking back and having a few drinks.

Bluezoo

As you make your way to the Dining Room, you pass by the Raw Bar and Sous Chefs hard at work.

The main Dining Room is beautiful. The décor is sophisticated and subdued.

Bluezoo

Bluezoo

The color spectrum of the restaurant is soothing to the eye and perfectly fits in with the oceanic theme of the restaurant.

Bluezoo

Bluezoo

Bluezoo

Look up at the "bubbles" floating near the ceiling. Gorgeous chandeliers evoke the feeling of being under the sea.

Bluezoo

I have dined here about a half-dozen times since 2005 and have never left disappointed. The service has been wonderful each time. Gracious and attentive, the servers here are informative without being overbearing. Tonight was no exception. My server, Rachael, provided an in-depth tour of their ever evolving menu.

My meal began with the Chilled Lobster Tail. Sweet and tender, the appetizer was garnished with shaved fennel and oranges which accentuated the taste of the Lobster. An orange gel artistically decorated the plate.

Bluezoo


A Bluezoo staple - New England Clam Chowder with salt-cured bacon. This was much lighter than I expected. Not as thick and hearty as other clam chowders I have had.

Bluezoo

I chose the Dirty South Swordfish for my main course. The fish was mild, flakey, and served with clams atop a bed of risotto. Beware: this entrée is spicy (as evidenced in the name). I could also taste a hint of BBQ in the Cajun rub.

Bluezoo

I followed up the meal with the Pavlova. This wonderful dessert consisted of Vanilla orange ice cream alongside a hard-shell raspberry filled meringue and paired with fresh raspberries. Desserts here are like works-of-art.

Bluezoo

The Opera Rock is pictured below. This dessert consists of layered marshmallow nougat sandwiched between chocolate wafers and presented on a Popsicle stick with an Orange Liqueur chaser. The citrus of the Orange nicely contrasted the sweet taste of the chocolate and marshmallow.

Bluezoo

While I can't really recommend the Bluezoo for children, they are welcome here and a Kid's menu is offered. It includes Beef Tenderloin, Grilled Chicken, and Pizza.

I never fail to walk away satisfied after a meal at Bluezoo. I am a fan of fine dining and find the atmosphere, service, and food at the restaurant to be conducive to a wonderful evening. Bluezoo is an ideal choice for a celebratory meal or romantic night out. Do yourself a favor and give it a try on your next trip to Walt Disney World. It really is a hidden gem of the Sea.


Related Links:

Bluezoo Menu

Readers Rate and Review Bluezoo

About Jeff: I am 33 years old and from Gettysburg, PA. By day I work in the Accounting Department of a Newspaper Publishing Company. My first visit to WDW was at the age of 2, and have been back around 35 times since then. I often travel solo to WDW, as well as with family. I make good use of my Annual Pass, and trek to Orlando about 5 times per year to visit my favorite travel destination. My favorite resort is the Polynesian, but have stayed at all of the WDW resorts at least once. In fact, my favorite aspect of visiting the Walt Disney World Resort is trying out the different Resorts and Restaurants. I also enjoy the many restaurants and sampling different foods that I normally would never try at home! (such as Escargot at the France pavillion).

Read Jeff's other blog, a review of Paradiso 37 in Downtown Disney.

December 20, 2009

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World for Everyone on Your List

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World for Everyone on Your List
by Guest Blogger Amanda Tinney

Nobody likes a "Bah Humbug". Don't be like Scrooge McDuck this year! Give the gift of Disney!

Here are the top 20 Christmas Items available at the Walt Disney World Resort this Holiday Season - in no particular order:

#1 For the Mouseketeer - Snowman Mickey Ears (M. Mouse Mercantile at The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World


#2 For the Collector - Jim Shore Disney Traditions Mickey & Minnie Sleigh Sculpt (Bayview Gifts at The Contemporary Resort)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World

#3 For the Chef - Mickey and Minnie Salt & Pepper Shakers (Bayview Gifts at The Contemporary Resort)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World


#4 For the Pin Collector - $75 Disney Gift Card with a FREE Disney Pin (Mickey's of Hollywood at Disney's Hollywood Studios)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World

#5 For the Big Guy Himself - "Cookies for Santa" Plate and Mug (Mickey's of Hollywood at Disney's Hollywood Studios)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World


#6 For the Music Lover - Epcot Candlelight Processional CD (M. Mouse Mercantile at The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World


#7 For the Fashionista - Disney Christmas PJ's (M. Mouse Mercantile at The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World


#8 For the Tree Trimmer - Disney Character Bulbs (M. Mouse Mercantile at The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World

#9 - For the Coffee Drinker - Disney Holiday Cheer Coffee (Bayview Gifts at The Contemporary Resort)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World


#10 For the Pixie Lover - Tinker Bell Ornaments (Bayview Gifts at The Contemporary Resort)


Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World

#11 For the Baker - Gingerbread Cookie Mix with Cookie Cutter (Bayview Gifts at The Contemporary Resort)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World


#12 For the Writer - Disney Christmas Cards (Bayview Gifts at The Contemporary Resort)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World


#13 For the Driver - Disney Holiday Antenna Toppers (Bayview Gifts at The Contemporary Resort)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World


#14 For the Late Nighter - Mickey Bubble Night Light (Bayview Gifts at The Contemporary Resort)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World


#15 For the Planner - Mickey & Minnie Advent Calendar (Frontierland Trading Post in the Magic Kingdom)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World


#16 For the Outdoorsman - Rustic Christmas Tree Skirt (Frontierland Trading Post in the Magic Kingdom)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World



#17 For the T-Shirt Lover - Joy From the World 2009 Tee (Bayview Gifts at The Contemporary Resort)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World


#18 For the Walt Disney World Lover - Four Park Ornament Set (Mickey's of Hollywood at Disney's Hollywood Studios)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World

#19 For the A.A.Milne Lover - Winnie the Pooh Stockings (Mickey's of Hollywood at Disney's Hollywood Studios)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World


#20 For Just about Anyone on Your List! - Disney Gift Card with Holder (Bayview Gifts at The Contemporary Resort)

Top 20 Christmas Gift Items at Walt Disney World

About Amanda Tinney: Hello fellow Disney Aficionados! Like you, I am a major fan of Deb's AllEars! I am also a tad bit Disney Obsessed. As a Disney local, I visit the parks weekly, sometimes more frequently than that. I write a Disney blog, and am also active on Twitter @amandatinney. You can also find Deb there under @AllEarsDeb. And I talk regularly with other Disney Fans on Facebook as well.I hope you enjoyed this post so that Deb will have me back to do another post soon! Have a Magical Holiday! ºoº

December 21, 2009

Special Preview Princess and the Frog - Zeigfeld Theatre

The Princess & The Frog - Special Preview in New York City's Zeigfeld Theatre
By Guest Blogger Michele Q. Lindsay

I like to call it "The Connecticut Connection". Snow White, Walt Disney's first princess, was voiced and sung by Bridgeport, Connecticut native Adriana Caselotti. Anika Noni Rose of Bloomfield, CT is the first actress since Caselotti to reprise the efforts of voicing and singing a Disney princess.

Tiana, the newest addition to the Princess Empire, was about to take the world by storm. And here we were, two moms and their girls from CT ready to bring this experience full circle and see what Tiana has to offer our daughters. We did not leave disappointed!

Special Princess and the Frog New York Preview

When I heard that Disney would preview the latest addition to the princess franchise at the Zeigfeld Theater in New York City, it was a no-brainer that I would take my older daughter Grace (age 4). Immediately, I called one of my best friends to see if she and her daughter would like to join in the fun. Taina (not Tiana) and her daughter Ava (also 4) are princesses at heart and were up for the adventure.

Special Princess and the Frog New York Preview


So on Monday, December 7th, we met aboard the Metro North commuter train and the girls could hardly contain their excitement. What would the movie be like? How does Tiana become a frog? What princesses will we meet today?

Our tickets were for the 1pm show, but we wanted to arrive with ample time to get in line. As our tickets were general admission, seating would be on a first come basis. I had checked the ticket status online the night before and saw that the show was not sold out, so we weren't too worried about getting good seats.

The queues outside were short and smooth. There were two lines, one for general admission and one for reserved seating. With a reserved ticket, you were given a strand of purple plastic beads with a Princess & The Frog medallion at the end and a limited edition lithograph. All cameras and camcorders were taken before entering the building. Once inside and on our way up the escalator, one theater employee was calling out "Happy Holidays!" He bellowed, "Welcome to the Zeigfeld Theater and The Princess and The Frog!" Apparently the Zeigfeld had its own town crier! He kept the lines moving as the adults were scanned with metal detecting wands. If only all TSA employees were this jovial.

The Zeigfeld Theater is one of Manhattan's grand experiences. The original theater was home to the Zeigfeld Follies and the Perry Como television show. That theater was demolished in 1966, and in 1969 a few blocks away, the new theater was constructed. If you see a celebrity walking the red carpet at a movie premier in New York, odds are they're at the Zeigfeld.

Before entering the theater, we couldn't resist some movie theater popcorn and fountain sodas. Grace was already in heaven; she had a soda in hand (a special treat for her) and a bag of popcorn the size of her head!

We settled into four seats on the right side of the theater. Our view was perfect! There was no one directly in front of us for several rows. All around there were excited young girls and boys. Many of the girls were dressed up for the occasion in princess dresses.

Without giving too much away, the movie was another Disney masterpiece. Not only was it a triumphant return of 2-D animation, but it also introduced a modern princess who, all children, regardless of color, can emulate. Directors John Musker and Ron Clements have returned with a winner on their hands.

We meet Tiana as a young girl, full of spunk and determination. Her talent in the kitchen is obvious at an early age and she dreams of opening a restaurant of her own. As she becomes a young woman, her hard work draws her closer to that dream. Then she encounters Prince Naveen, the handsome playboy whose happy-go-lucky attitude is quite the opposite of Tiana's work ethic. Tiana's world gets turned upside down by Naveen, but the adventure that they share turns out to be the salvation that they both need. Add in a delicious new villain, a disgruntled servant, a pampered princess, two bayou residents, and one voodoo fairy godmother, and you've got yourself a fast-paced and robust story.

The animation in this movie was amazing. There seemed to be a few different types of animation present (for example, one scene was an homage to the very graphic animation of the 1960's) and they all worked together. The musical score by Randy Newman kept the adults and kids hopping in their seats. I still have "You Gotta Dig a Little Deeper" stuck in my head.

Many have voiced opinions on setting the movie in New Orleans a few short years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Once Oprah signed on as the voice of Tiana's mother, it was construed as a seal of approval from the African-American community. Personally, I find it a fitting tribute to New Orleans. While I have not visited the Crescent City, this is how I envision it: romantic, mysterious, with a dash of Creole, and a hint of voodoo.

The Disney Princess franchise has grown into an undeniably influential media empire. Children look up to these heroines and learn the morals of their respective stories. The evolution of the princess as the damsel in distress (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella) to the warrior princess (Pocahontas and Mulan) is refreshing. Yet no matter what temperament the princess has, each one has to overcome several obstacles to resolve her problems. That is what makes all of them so appealing. I think it's often forgotten that these stories come from classic fairy tales, written long before Walt Disney turned them into media darlings.

Tiana struck me as a princess figure much like Belle. She's smart, independent, hard working, and devoted to her family. Caught in the sticky situation of being turned into a frog, Tiana is determined to get back to her human self. And while each princess has their fairy godmother figure, Tiana seems to have two: Mama Odie, the voodoo practioner of the bayou, and Raymond the firefly. Both impart the wisdom she needs to return back to the human world.

The movie is the draw for the kids, but the Ultimate Disney Experience was the lure for this mom. After each performance, your ticket (from $30-$50 per person) also gave you admission into "The Ultimate Disney Experience". In LA, they did it right at the studios, in NYC, they had it at Roseland. We were given wristbands upon entering the movie theater, and immedately after the movie, we walked over to Roseland.

We didn't have a Disney trip planned for this year, so this was the boost of Disney magic I'd been looking for. Roseland Ballroom is a popular concert venue in Midtown for all kinds of bands (recently The Happy Mondays and The Psychedelic Furs) and was the perfect size for this interactive experience.

Special Princess and the Frog New York Preview

Immediately upon entering, there was of course Tiana merchandise: dresses, tiaras, plush toys, the whole kit and caboodle. But once you walked past the merchandise display, the lights shone upon eight small stages and one main riser. Each princess had her own meet and greet platform, with Tiana in the center as the main attraction, and Grace and Ava were ready to rock and roll!

Special Princess and the Frog New York Preview

For Grace, our first stop was to meet Mulan. This is one of her favorite Disney movies and she often imitates Mulan in her Ping/warrior mode. When we were at WDW last year, we didn't meet any of the princesses (I know, sacrilege! I'm a horrible mom!), so this was a big first. Mulan barely had a line, so Grace went right up and had a little chat with her. Grace was wearing a tunic that read "Disney Princess" on it, and that seemed to be the conversation starter for all her meets.

Special Princess and the Frog New York Preview

Ava made a beeline to Cinderella, her favorite princess. When we found Taina and Ava again, Taina told me she had tears in her eyes when she saw Ava look up at Cinderella. We laughed and I told her I had the same reaction when Grace met pretty much everyone! Ava hasn't been to WDW yet, so this was an extra special afternoon for her.

Ava and Cinderella

The relatively small crowd allowed the children (and some adults) to meet each princess and enjoy a moment with them. We didn't wait more than five minutes in any line to meet a princess. I think this also ran so smoothly because no autographs were allowed. Each attendee received an autograph card with all the princesses' autographs on it.

In speaking with one event staffer, he said we came at the right time. Weekend shows had been very crowded, as well as the morning shows. School groups were attending the 10 am shows, so in our selecting a 1 pm show, we were missing those large waves of kids. Our performance was not a sell out, but I'd estimate there were over 300 people in the theater.

In addition to the Princess Meet and Greet, there were other activities including a few midway style games (dart game, frog toss), a craft area, a session with a Disney Animator, a Photopass style booth (take your picture with the animated Tiana), a Bayou Adventure (playground), and memorabilia on display from the Disney Archives.

Special Princess and the Frog New York Preview

Special Princess and the Frog New York Preview

I was interested in the memorabilia that included costumes from Enchanted, Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, and Pirates of the Caribbean, the Declaration of Independence from National Treasure, Jack Sparrow's jar of dirt, and sneakers from HSM.

Special Princess and the Frog New York Preview


Special Princess and the Frog New York Preview

Special Princess and the Frog New York Preview


The Disney Animator was leading session on how to draw the frog characters. Our daughters were a bit too young to sit and focus on the animation, but I was enthralled by what I saw. And I was delighted to see adults and older children fascinated by the craft.

Ava and Grace had a blast in the Bayou Adventure. It was an area full of blue foam squares, with green cushy lily pads throughout. There was a tunnel to crawl up and down, tire swings, slides, and miniature versions of Tiana's house for the children to play in.

As the crowd made its way thru all the princesses and moved onto the craft activity or into the Bayou Playground, we returned for a few more moments with the princesses.

Grace had made a paper tiara in the craft activity section. And she decided that Belle needed to have it, as she only had a ribbon in her hair. We were probably the last people to meet with Belle, and when Grace presented her with the tiara, I thought Belle was going to cry right along with me. She was obviously touched and thanked Grace over and over.

Special Princess and the Frog New York Preview

Special Princess and the Frog New York Preview

The princesses must have been in New York on vacation from their true home at WDW because they were flawless in their princess demeanor. It appeared to me that there were special event staff hired in New York (they were wearing Princess and The Frog t-shirts), and then character handlers in plain clothes that must have been Cast Members from WDW. Their level of professionalism was outstanding.

On the train ride home, we sat with a lovely woman who chatted with the girls. She asked what they did in New York today to which the response was "We saw The Princess and The Frog movie!" And when she asked what their favorite part was, they both described the end scene of the movie.

What's the end scene? Well, now I'd really be giving away the story! You can see for yourself as the movie opened nationwide on December 11th. I promise you'll leave with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

December 26, 2009

Epcot's Tutto Italia in World Showcase - a Review

Guest Blogger Jeff Onorato is back, this time with a review of Epcot's Tutto Italia!

Like many loyal patrons, I lamented the loss of L'Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante when I heard the news of their closure back in 2007. When it was announced that the restaurant would be quickly re-opening in a new incarnation, I was intrigued to see what changes where in store. The Italy pavilion was a favorite lunchtime spot for me when visiting Epcot's World Showcase.

When Alfredo's contract with Walt Disney World Resort expired, the Patina Group was selected to fill the void left behind. In addition to Tutto Italia, the Patina Group also manages several restaurants on the West Coast, including Disneyland's Tortilla Jo's, Naples Ristorante, and Catal.

Second only to Canada's Le Cellier restaurant, Alfredo's was arguably one of Epcot's most popular restaurants. Their Fettuccini Alfredo was a favorite among park visitors. Naturally, when I heard that the restaurant would be changing management I was curious to see how the new establishment would live up to the reputation set by its former occupants.

Translated, Tutto Italia means "anything/everything Italy' in English. I visited for the first time during a trip to Walt Disney World in early December and was pleased to see that they do live up to their name. All of the staples of a traditional Italian menu can be found here: Pasta, Fish, Chicken, Veal, Lamb, and a wide variety of appetizers. Fettuccini Alfredo was not on the menu on the day of my visit.

Cosmetically, not much has changed since the new management took over. In fact, no visible changes were made to the outside of the restaurant with the exception of new signing.


Tutto Italia Approaching

Tutto Italia Outside

Tutto Italia Outside

Tutto Italia Signage

Tutto Italia continues to offer outdoor seating, and there is a separate host podium outside for guests wishing to dine alongside the plaza. I enjoy eating outdoors here on a sunny day. All of the tables have umbrellas and offer picturesque views of Italy.


Tutto Italia Outdoor Seating


For this visited I opted for indoor seating. Again, there were no major changes to be found. The lobby area and interior of the restaurant look just as they did before. I did immediately take notice of one alteration - the absence of the pasta kitchen. The machines previously used to make the pasta in-house where nowhere to be found, and decorative bowls of fruit where in place.


Tutto Italia Lobby


Tutto Italia Lobby


In-house Pastry Chefs created the amazing holiday sculpture on display in the lobby throughout the Holiday Season. The attention to detail in this tiny Italian village is astounding. I thought the candy-cane fence and gondolas were a nice touch.


Tutto Italia Italian Village Pastry


After checking in at the host stand, I was quickly escorted to my table within a minute or two. My reservation was for 12:00 and the restaurant was about 75% full at that time of day.

Murals of Italy's Masqueraded carnival performers still adorn the walls within. Exquisite glass chandeliers hang from the ceilings, and the restaurant still has its old-world European renaissance charm fully intact.


Tutto Italia Dining Room


Tutto Italia Dining Room

Tutto Italia Dining Room


Tutto Italia Dining Room


Tutto Italia Dining Room

Each table is under the care of both a Server and their assistant. After being seated, a basket of bread and olive oil is served to welcome you. No butter is presented, as it is not customary to do so in Italy. When in Rome, does as the Romans do.

I found the service here to be very good. My server was very friendly and seemed more than happy to answer any questions I had about the menu. A children's menu is also available, and I recommend this restaurant for birthday celebrations - the wait staff gathers together to sing "Happy Birthday" in Italian.

Food was presented at a nice pace, and I did not feel hurried despite the restaurant being busy. Drink refills were readily available, as was the side of parmesan cheese I requested. It is not automatically offered here.

For my appetizer, I chose the Melanzana Alla Parmigiana. This consisted of baked eggplant, melted mozzarella, tomato sauce, and parmesan cheese. The eggplant was sliced very thin and the tomato sauce had a nice zing to it. It was topped off with Basil which helped to bring out the flavor of the other ingredients.


 Tutto Italia Melanzana Alla Parmigiana


For my Entrée I had the Tagliatelle Alla Primavera. This included fettuccini egg pasta, broccoli, peas, mushrooms, sweet cherry tomatoes, and a very light cream sauce.


Tutto Italia Tagliatelle Alla Primavera

As is the case with many pasta dishes, the meal was very filling. However, I found the portion size served at Lunch to be especially large. This would definitely have been enough for two people to share. Everything was freshly prepared. I could actually see steam still rising up off of the plate. The sauce was perfect - not at all rich or overpowering.

For dessert I had the Gianduja, which is a chocolate and hazelnut layered cake topped with whipped cream and raspberry sauce. This is a chocolate lover's dream. The cake itself was very rich however the whipped cream and raspberry sauce helped to bring things down a notch.

Tutto Italia Gianduja


I was most impressed by the food and service at Tutto Italia. I went in fearing that the recent changes would tarnish my opinion, but am glad I kept an open mind and gave it a try. From what I found, there is still a lot to love here. I plan to stop in again the next time I am on a "tour of Italy".

Related Links:

Tutto Italia Lunch Menu
Tutto Italia Dinner Menu
Tutto Italia Children's Menu

Readers Rate and Review Tutto Italia!


About Jeff: I am 33 years old and from Gettysburg, PA. By day I work in the Accounting Department of a Newspaper Publishing Company. My first visit to WDW was at the age of 2, and have been back around 35 times since then. I often travel solo to WDW, as well as with family. I make good use of my Annual Pass, and trek to Orlando about 5 times per year to visit my favorite travel destination. My favorite resort is the Polynesian, but have stayed at all of the WDW resorts at least once. In fact, my favorite aspect of visiting the Walt Disney World Resort is trying out the different Resorts and Restaurants. I also enjoy the many restaurants and sampling different foods that I normally would never try at home! (such as Escargot at the France pavillion).

Read Jeff's other blogs:

A review of Bluezoo

A review of Paradiso 37 in Downtown Disney.

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About December 2009

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in December 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2009 is the previous archive.

January 2010 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.