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February 1, 2010

The Suite Life- Staying In Style - Disney Cruise Line


Onboard both the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, there are 22 suites with 18 one-bedroom suites, two two-bedroom suites, and two palatial royal suites, the Roy and Walt Disney suites. These suites take Disney Cruise Line to an enhanced level of luxury with large, well-appointed suites and exceptional concierge service.

(There can be significant differences between the concierge service on the Disney Magic and The Disney Wonder as well as between the individual concierge managers, as they rotate every few weeks. What follows was my experience, but yours may be different. Each concierge has his or her own unique way of adding magic to your cruise)

On the November 7th Eastern Caribbean cruise, my family and I had the opportunity to upgrade to a midship one-bedroom suite, 8032. If you are interested in upgrading from any category, first check in at the port and then go to the port supervisor's desk at the far end of the check-in counter closest to the ship. If there are any upgrades available, the price will be determined based on the category of stateroom you originally booked. Sometimes the upgrade price is a significant discount; other times it will be the full price difference between your category and the category to which you wish to upgrade. The upgrades can go fast so be sure to arrive at the port early.

We arrived at the port early as always and headed upstairs to check-in. We had decided to see if any upgrades were available, after hearing that many people had been having success with upgrading during the quiet hurricane season. After checking in we headed over to the port supervisor's desk and asked about upgrading to a Category 3 suite. About half of the Category 3s were still available and we decided to take the leap. At this point, I actually began leaping out of excitement! It was like a dream come true. We were assigned 8032, which we would come to learn had a slightly different arrangement than the standard one-bedroom and was one of the best Category 3 suites on the ship. Suites 8032, 8034, 8532, and 8534 all share this slightly modified arrangement.

Disney Cruise Line Terminal

Our original Key To The World (KTTW) cards were taken and we were given the concierge gold KTTW cards. Immediately, the concierge service began as we were escorted past the line for security photos straight to the next available camera. Once our photos were taken, we were brought over to Dante, who was watching over the concierge boarding area. We grabbed a table and chatted with Dante for a while before grabbing our usual pre-boarding drinks and heading out to the balcony to get some photos with the ship.

Disney Cruise Line Terminal

Boarding began around 11:45. They brought on the family of the day and then started concierge priority boarding through the back door inside the concierge waiting area. We were the 2nd family to board the Magic. The 2nd!!!! Once again I was very excited. After boarding, we headed straight to the concierge reception in Sessions where they had drinks (both alcoholic and non alcoholic) and snacks waiting for us. Linda, the concierge for the starboard side suites introduced herself and told us that Jonathan, the concierge for the port side suites, would be right with us.

Jonathan came over and introduced himself, and presented us with our current itinerary and all of the bookings we had already made online. Jonathan said that before we began, he had to apologize to us. After this cruise, he said, we would be spoiled and always want to stay in a suite! Jonathan then asked if there was anything else we needed to book. The concierge staff can assist with Palo bookings (the adults only restaurant), shore excursions, spa bookings, activities requiring reservations (galley tours, martini/beer/wine tastings, etc.), and any dining room requests you might have. Also, a youth activities staff member is on hand to assist with registering kids for the clubs.

We had been unable to book Palo online due to availability, so Jonathan booked dinner and brunch for us, as well as booking an excursion in St. Thomas and getting tickets for the galley tour. Jonathan also helped us switch to late seating for dinner, and arranged for us to have one of our favorite servers onboard, Sompong. Jonathan asked if we would like to have coffee delivered every morning, or milk and cookies before bed, but we declined. We thanked Jonathan for all of the help and headed off to get lunch and wait for our stateroom to open.

Before we knew it, 1:30 had arrived and all staterooms were ready. We headed down to deck 8, incredibly excited to see what awaited us. Before even opening the door, we noticed what a great location 8032 had - right by the midship elevator lobby and convenient to everything. (For those of you wondering, we never had any problem with noise or foot traffic being by the elevators.)

We opened the door to our suite, and instantly, our jaws dropped. I had imagined what the suites were like, but actually seeing one was beyond belief. Walking in, you find a closet to the left and a bathroom to the right with a sink, toilet, and shower.

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032

Walking into the living room you find a pull-out sofa, two large chairs, a wet bar, a pull-down bed, a table seating four and two doors out to the verandah.

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Living Room Area

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Living Room Area

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Living Room Area

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Living Room Area

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Living Room Area

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Living Room Area

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Living Room Area

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Living Room Area

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Living Room Area

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Verandah

Across the living room is a door to the master bedroom that features a queen size bed and a large chair. Both the living room and the bedroom have large TVs with DVD players. There is also a third door to the verandah from the bedroom.

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Master Bedroom

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Master Bedroom

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Master Bedroom

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Master Bedroom

At the back of the bedroom is a door to a large desk/vanity. To the left is a walk in closet, stocked with robes, and to the right is the bathroom with a full size whirlpool tub and a shower.

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Master Bedroom

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Closet

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Master Bathroom

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Master Bathroom

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Master Bathroom

Accompanying all of this is beautiful art and woodwork and a generous amount of storage space. After exploring our room, we took a look at everything that our concierge team had provided. The suite was stocked with sodas and bottles of water, and we had a fruit basket, complements of the concierge team. A cabinet in the living room was stocked with board games and cards and there was a list of all the DVDs that we could request for in-room movies.

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Fruit Basket

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Games

All of this, however, was just the tip of the iceberg. Every day for the rest of the cruise, Jonathan would stop by once or twice a day to see if we needed anything. One day he dropped off some arcade cards for me. Another day I answered the door to find him holding Mickey Mouse ice cream bars. Still another day we came back to find popcorn for the special movie showtime in the Walt Disney Theatre.

Every night there was a different assortment of treats for us: petit fours, chocolate-covered strawberries, and the like. Jonathan also dropped off the dining room menus for each night of the cruise, as guests in suites can order from the dining room menus during a certain time period each evening. Every night we would receive the weather for the next day as well as a list of the character appearances delivered with our Personal Navigator (daily activities schedule). The concierge team was available at any time between 8am and 10pm by calling the concierge extension on the in-suite phone.

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032

Throughout the cruise, Jonathan went out of his way to make our cruise perfect. One day, we were coming back to the room and mentioned to Jonathan that we were going to get cookies from room service. He told us to just relax and he would take care of everything. Ten minutes later a huge plate of cookies showed up. The night before arriving at St. Croix, we learned that our Jeep excursion had been cancelled. A quick phone call to Jonathan and 15 minutes later tickets for a new excursion were under our door.

The concierge team also hosted a special reception during sail-away from St. Thomas. The reception was originally to be held at the outside deck of Topsider's, but due to rain earlier in the day, it was moved to Sessions on deck 3. Appetizers and free drinks were served and a special guest stopped by to say hello.

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032

Debarkation was also simplified. We were able to take care of tipping and get our stateroom account without ever standing in line at Guest Services. Jonathan handled everything. One thing to note, Disney has recently added tip envelopes for concierge gratuities; however, there is no suggested amount. Concierge gratuities are at your discretion. Our gratuity slips were delivered to our room along with a copy of our stateroom account.

Disney Wonder Category 3 Cabin #8032 Debarkation Morning Breakfast

The last night of the cruise Jonathan stopped by and gave us a magical moment certificate for sailing with him. He also gave us a DCL exclusive poster and a special card to have breakfast delivered to our suite the last morning.

After 10 cruises, I didn't think cruising could get any better, but we had our most wonderful Disney Cruise Line vacation yet. We would do it all again in a heartbeat. It truly was a Magical vacation.

Check out Mike's previous blog on the Enhancement Project at Castaway Cay.

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.

February 2, 2010

Wolfgang Puck Grand Café - Downtown Disney - Photo Blog


For fans of gourmet cooking, the name Wolfgang Puck is synonymous with the fusion of delicious Asian and Californian cuisine. The term "California Cuisine" refers to the use of fresh, local ingredients in an ever-evolving menu of artistically presented offerings.

Among his many accomplishments, Wolfgang Puck helped to introduce inventive, West Coast culinary delights to the masses and popularize them in the eyes of mainstream America by way of his many restaurants and cookbooks. Among his many accomplishments, the Austrian born entrepreneur opened the first Spago restaurant in Los Angeles, California in the 80's. His empire now reaches into the realms of catering, publishing, and television. He owns over a dozen restaurants spanning the country. From Las Vegas, Nevada to Ontario, Canada and Orlando, Florida, his brand now spans the continental United States.

Of the afore mentioned locations, I have only dined at the Orlando restaurant. My experiences there have been favorable. So when I began to plan my most recent trip to Walt Disney World, I decided to make reservations for a return visit.

The official name of the restaurant is the Wolfgang Puck Grand Café. It's located in the "Westside" district of Downtown Disney, next to Bongo's Cuban Café. In the photo below, look at the bottom row of buildings, it is in the middle.

Wolfgang Puck Cafe from Above

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Exterior

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Entrance

The title refers to three restaurants which are actually housed under one roof. The Grand Café on the first floor, the Dining Room on the upper level, and the annexed Wolfgang Puck Express (there is another, separate location at Downtown Disney Marketplace). Wolfgang Puck Express offers quickly-served, truncated versions of the meals served at the full-service restaurants. Tasty Sandwiches, Salads, Rosemary Garlic Chicken, Tortilla Soup, and homemade potato chips are just a few of the items offered on their menu.

The Café is decorated in a colorful and vibrant art-deco style. It has a bustling, hurried atmosphere.

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Entrance to Cafe

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Open Air Kitchen

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Bar Area

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Chef's Counter

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Cafe from Above

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Interior

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Interior

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Interior

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Interior

The Dining Room upstairs has a more sedate, formal setting geared toward fine-dining. Both offer scenic views of Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort and The Characters in Flight hot-air balloon.

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Stairway to Dining Room

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Upstairs Dining Room

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Upstairs Dining Room

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Upstairs Dining Room

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Upstairs Dining Room

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Upstairs to Dining Room

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Upstairs Dining Room

My most recent meal there was in early January, and it was wonderful. Since Wolfgang Puck is so well known for Sushi, I felt obliged to begin my meal with some. The restaurant has a dedicated Sushi bar and offers seating "in the round".

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Sushi Bar

Patrons may walk right up, grab an available seat, and watch as the Sushi Chefs slice, dice, and prepare wonderful meals. Their extensive Sushi menu is available to guests of both the Café and Dining Room.

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Sushi Chefs at Work

I'm always a little squeamish about ordering Sushi in unfamiliar restaurants, so I chose an old favorite. The California Roll ($12.95) is also a good introduction for folks who may be inquisitive about Sushi but have never tried it.

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Sushi California Roll

California Rolls are considered a "Maki Sushi". The term Maki-Sushi is derived from the process by which the Sushi is prepared. A Makisu (usually made of bamboo) is a mat that the Sushi is rolled on. California Rolls are one of the many types served here. They are presented with the traditional accompaniments - Ginger, Wasabi, and Chopsticks. I love Wasabi on Sushi and can not get enough of it. For those who may be unfamiliar, its' primary ingredient is horseradish and it is a very spicy condiment. The roll was cut into eight pieces and topped with Roe (fish eggs). This topping had an almost non-existent flavor. Perhaps it was my love of Wasabi I can thank for that. It is known to temporarily numb the taste buds thanks to its' spicy flavor.

A few more appetizer choices - Crispy Calamari, Artichoke and Five Cheese Spinach Dip, Teriyaki Beef Satay, and Asian Style Vegetable Spring Rolls (pictured below - $10.95)

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Sushi Asian Spring Rolls

I chose one of the more popular menu items for my entrée, the Macadamia Nut Crusted Breast of Chicken ($25.95).

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Macadamia Chicken

This consists of two golden, pan-fried chicken breasts served on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes and finished off with Sho-Yu Cream sauce and Papaya Puree. Sho-Yu is a reduction of Soy Sauce and cream. I would compare the texture to a demi-glace. This sauce was quite tasty and gave the meal some flare. Interestingly, the Papaya Puree was chilled, sweet, and brought out the flavor of the chicken. The plate was dusted with sesame seeds.

An important note for folks with food allergies - because of the broad spectrum of ingredients used by the chefs here, the servers make a concerted effort to understand and relay any food allergies on to the chef. If you have an allergy to certain foods, please convey this to your server if they don't inquire.

Another favorite of mine is the Meatloaf (pictured below - $19.95). The generous serving of Ground-Beef and Pork is wrapped with bacon and served atop garlic mashed potatoes and topped off with crispy onion rings.

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Meatloaf

Other Entrée selections include: Pumpkin Ravioli, Chilean Salmon, Asian Hoisin BBQ Ribs, and a Chinois Chicken Salad (named after Wolfgang's Santa Monica restaurant of the same name).

On to dessert! I chose the Crème Brulee Cheesecake ($7.95).

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Creme Brulee Cheesecake

This was made more in the New York style of cheesecake, and had a thick consistency. It had a very thin layer of caramelized sugar glazed over the top. Strawberries, Raspberries, and a Strawberry sauce rounded out the dessert. I had the Espresso with Cinnamon Biscotti ($2.95) to caffeinate and revive me after this delicious meal.

Florida Key Lime Pie (pictured below - also $7.95), Chocolate Lava Cake, Carrot Cake, Double Chocolate Mud Pie, and Sugar-free Cheesecake Mousse are also on the dessert menu.

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Key Lime Pie

There is a lot for kids to enjoy here, too. The Children's menu includes Grilled Chicken, Pizza, Mini-Burgers, Spaghetti and Salmon. For dessert "make your own" sundaes can be created from a wide variety of toppings.

The meals at the Café are reasonably priced. Most of the entrees run under $20.00. The pricing is on par with restaurants at Disney's Moderate resorts. The Dining Room is more on par with Disney's signature restaurants, with prices to match. Entrée prices range from $24.95 - $42.95. Both participate in the Disney Dining Plan and Annual Passholder discounts are also available. Tables in Wonderland discounts are also offered as of January 2010. Lunch is served from 11:30-4:00 p.m. Dinner runs from 4:00-10:30 Sunday and Monday, 4:00-11:00 Tuesday-Thursday, and 4:00-11:30 on Friday and Saturday. The (upstairs) Dining Room opens nightly at 6:00. Reservations can be made Online through Disney at http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/downtown-disney/dining/wolfgang-puck-cafe/reservations/ or by contacting the restaurant directly at (407) 938-WOLF(9653). Please note that they only accept reservations for dining before 6:30 or after 9:00.

One of my favorite aspects of dining at the Grand Café is the abundant choices their menu offers. It seems that no matter what type of meal I am in the mood for, I can find something to enjoy here. From imaginatively spun comfort foods to exotic seafood presented with intricate detail, they have something to satiate anything I may be hankering for. And with three restaurants under one roof, they have a setting to suit any mood or occasion. I enjoy dining here after a day of shopping at Downtown Disney. With the AMC Movie Theaters, Cirque du Soleil, and the House of Blues just a stone's throw from their front door, you may want to stop in for a bite before a night out on the town. Wolfgang Puck's Grand Café is a dining hub that has something appealing to everyone.

Related Links:

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Lunch Menu

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Dinner Menu

Wolfgang Puck Cafe Kids Menu

Readers Rate and Review Wolfgang Puck's Grand Cafe

Wolfgang Puck Dining Room Menu

Readers Rate and Review Wolfgang Puck Upstairs Dining Room

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).

February 12, 2010

Nine Dragons Restaurant in China Epcot


In Chinese culture, dragons are symbolic of the elements and considered to be forces of nature. Folklore gives mention of nine types of these magnificent creatures, which also represent good-fortune. Dragons were at one time revered by the Chinese people and referenced as a measure of success in their society. This aspect of Chinese culture is celebrated at the Nine Dragons restaurant, located in the China Pavilion of Epcot's World Showcase.


Of all the World Showcase Pavilions, I find China to be one of the most peaceful and serene. I enjoy touring the exhibits, shopping and just taking a break before Lunch or Dinner. The live entertainment here is top-notch as well.




China's table-service eatery shares its name with the Nine Dragons walls (there are three) located in the Beihai Park of Beijing, China. Huge, frosted-glass murals depicting the mythological figures adorn the walls of the restaurant's waiting area. They bear a striking resemblance to the actual Nine Dragons walls in China.





The Nine Dragons restaurant in Walt Disney World underwent a refurbishment about a year and a half ago. In the months it was closed, a colorful, contemporary overlay was put into place by way of new lighting and a glass artifacts display. The standard red and gold color-scheme has been reinvented and brought up-to-date by way of dark-brown, lacquered woods and bubbly lighting treatments.







Most of the seating here is by way of tables; however they do have several comfy booths available that can accommodate parties of 4-5 guests. I recommend requesting one of these if available. The tables in the main dining room of the restaurant are not spaced very far apart.


I had dined here prior to the changes. I have always found the servers to be gracious, hospitable and friendly. While I did find the food enjoyable, I can't really say there was anything unique about the meals to differentiate them from other Chinese restaurants. Happily, the Nine Dragons menu was given a refreshed, modernized update to match the new décor found throughout the restaurant. There are now many unique items to choose from. In my subsequent visits here since they reopened, I have made an effort to sample several of these foods that I wouldn't normally find back at home. I have been rewarded by way of several great meals. My most recent was in January.

The current menu is a cross between traditional and original, inventive Chinese fare. The cuisine of Nine Dragons represents the four regions of China. Lunch brings an array of Hot and Cold Appetizers, Soups, Entrees, and Lunch Combos.

I found the lunch prices here to be very reasonable. In an effort to adhere to my dining budget, I chose the Treasures of the Dragon. This is a special three-course meal consisting of one soup, one entrée, and one dessert for $29.68. I was planning to order one food item from each category anyway, so this was a bargain for me.

The two soup options are Hot-and-Sour or "Chicken Consommé with Pork Dumplings" (Won-Ton Soup). I chose the Consommé. The clear broth was very hot when it was served (an automatic plus) and had a generous amount of dumplings and spring onions in it. There wasn't really anything special about the soup, but it was quite tasty. In fairness there is only so much variation that can be found in Won-Ton soup. I would definitely order it here again.


I deviated from my lunch set and splurged a bit. I also ordered the Walnut Shrimp Toast, as this item sounded too interesting to pass up. Shrimp toast is something of a standard with regard to Chinese Dim Sum. Three pieces of the toast are presented with a large Walnut decoratively embedded in the crust. The Walnuts gave the toast a crunchy texture and were not at all grainy. I have found Shrimp Toast to have an overly fishy taste at some restaurants, which is a result of being frozen. This was definitely not the case with Nine Dragons' version. The flavor of the minced Shrimp was fresh. Soy Sauce is brought out with the appetizer, but I didn't find that it needed any.


Entrée choices on the Lunch set include Fragrant Five-Spiced Fish, General Tso's Chicken Duo, and Beef Sichuan. I opted for the General Tso's Chicken, which is presented two ways. Most of the portion consists of the traditional Crispy chicken, with only 2-3 pieces of the steamed version rounding out the course. I really enjoyed the Crispy version. They were fried and the sauce had a sweet, spicy taste. Huge chunks of chopped onion were mixed in with the chicken and a scoop of white rice was served off to the side of the plate. The steamed pieces were more like dumplings and gave a unique twist to the presentation. My only complaint would be that the fried version greatly trumps the (healthier) steamed version in portion size.


Dessert choices were Chinese Ginger Cake, Strawberry-Red Bean Ice Cream, and Caramel-Ginger Ice Cream. Having never ordered dessert here, I consulted with my server for a recommendation. Without hesitation, she immediately spouted out "Chinese Ginger Cake". I took the hint. While the other desserts did sound interesting, I was most pleased with this one and glad I took her suggestion. The layered cake was very light and spongy. I couldn't taste much Ginger, however it was topped with a sweet, flavorful icing. The cake was finished off with some decorative chocolate sauce.


With so many wonderful restaurants around World Showcase, I consider Nine Dragons to be a nice restaurant to fall back on in those instances when the other restaurants are full or completely booked up. China is one of my favorite countries to visit around the promenade, and a visit to Nine Dragons is an enjoyable way to cap-off a day at Epcot.

They participate in the Disney Dining Plan, Tables in Wonderland, and Candlelight Processional Dinner Packages. Views of the Illuminations fireworks can be had from some areas of the restaurant. Reservations are not always needed here and walk-in seating is often available. Nine Dragons is a worthy dining venue in its own right, but also makes for a nice "plan B" when the more popular eateries are on overflow.

February 21, 2010

Yak & Yeti Photo Blog - Animal Kingdom


One of my favorite restaurants to dine at when I visit Disney's Animal Kingdom Park is the Yak & Yeti. I am a creature of habit when it comes to restaurants. If I find something I like, I tend to keep going back for more.

There are a lot of other wonderful eateries at Animal Kingdom, but I always seem to find myself making reservations or popping in for an unplanned meal at Yak & Yeti. This is partly due to my preference for table-service dining over counter-service. At Animal Kingdom, that distinction narrows the choices down to two restaurants. I'm not counting the Tusker House since technically you serve yourself from a buffet there. And while I do enjoy the Rainforest Café quite a bit, it can be time consuming to walk to and from the entrance of the park for a meal; especially during Peak seasons when the park is more crowded.

I planned my most recent visit to the Yeti well in advance as I was ironing out the details of my recent trip to Walt Disney World. When I decided which days I would be visiting certain parks, I was on the phone with Disney Dining shortly thereafter making my Yak & Yeti reservation on Animal Kingdom day. I have never had a problem securing a reservation for my preferred meal time here. Mind you, I have never had dinner at Yak & Yeti. All of my meals have been during lunch hours.

I have been frequenting the restaurant since it opened, but when I first heard about its' construction I was a bit skeptical about the location. Yak & Yeti is located just across the bridge as you enter Asia from Discovery Island.

Bridge into Asia

Naturally since it is Yeti-themed the restaurant would need to go in Asia. Close proximity to the attraction housing its' namesake, abominable snowman also made sense. The addition of Yak & Yeti also fulfilled the need for another full-service restaurant in Animal Kingdom. Being the only restaurant in that area of the park also helps to disperse traffic from the other eateries.

I still wondered if the placement of a restaurant between several live-animal based attractions and exhibits would detract from some of the mystique surrounding them. As the months passed and the exterior of the building began to take shape, I was more confident that a spot next door to Flights of Wonder was not totally out of place. I am something of a purist when it comes to my love of the Disney parks, so I tend to over-analyze every little change. As you can see in the photos below, the building fits in perfectly.

Yak & Yeti Exterior

In keeping with its continental surroundings, Yak & Yeti is fittingly Asian-themed. The first time I saw the inside of the restaurant, I felt as if I had walked into a tavern in the Himalaya Mountains.

Yak & Yeti Waiting Area

Yeti Guarding the Lobby

Yak & Yeti Entrance

Yak & Yeti Looking toward Exit

You may get the feeling you are being watched. ;-)

Yak & Yeti Lobby Statue

They have a full-bar for weary travelers wishing to just stop in for refreshment from their hike. Even the furniture here is rich with detail. Notice the elaborate armrests of the barstools.

Yak & Yeti Bar

Yak & Yeti Bar

Seating is split between two levels, with various museum quality artifacts likening the décor to that of a shrine. It looks as if the villagers have gathered their family heirlooms in the hope of giving reverence to the Yeti inhabiting nearby Everest Mountain. Take a walk around the restaurant before or after your meal and check-out their amazing collection of relics.

The main dining room near the entrance is decorated like a temple. Other areas of the lower level have a similar vibe. They are dimly lit and have a sedate feel. Tables are nicely spaced apart, as you can see in the view from above.

Yak & Yeti Main Dining Room

Yak & Yeti Main Dining Room

Yak & Yeti Main Dining Room

Yak & Yeti First Floor Dining Room

Yak & Yeti Lower Level Dining

Yak & Yeti First Floor Dining Room

Yak & Yeti Statue Greeting Diners

It is possible to burn off part of your caloric intake here just by trekking the staircase to and from the upper level.

Yak & Yeti Staircase

Yak & Yeti Stairs

An elevator is available for those not wishing for an aerobic workout as a preface to their meal. Even the elevator area is decorated with cool memorabilia and trinkets.

Yak and Yeti HallwayTo Elevator

The seating areas upstairs are brighter and more festive. Each room is uniquely colored. Could this be symbolic of something?

Yak and Yeti Upstairs Dining Blue

Yak and Yeti Upstairs Dining Gold

Yak and Yeti Upstairs Dining Green

Yak and Yeti Art

If your party should happen to be seated upstairs, I recommend requesting a table by the windows. They offer great views of Anandapur.

Yak and Yeti Upstairs Dining Near Windows

In my experience, service here has always been good. I have found the Servers to be attentive, friendly, and able to answer any questions I have had about the menu. As is the case with most restaurants on-property, they will check to see if your party is on the Disney Dining Plan upon introduction. While they do not currently accept the Tables in Wonderland card, Annual Passholder discounts are available.

Whenever I dine at one of my favorite Walt Disney World restaurants, I try to order at least one item that I haven't had before. I tend to be far more adventurous in my restaurant dining when I know the outcome rests in the hands of Disney Chefs. This practice has served me fairly well thus far, with only a few misfires. Yak & Yeti is not Disney-owned. Landry's restaurants own and operate the Yak & Yeti, Rainforest Café, and T-Rex (located at Downtown Disney).

In keeping with this mantra I tried something old and something new on this visit. My meal began with a favorite, the Won-Ton soup ($4.99). It's served with a side of crispy, fried Won-Tons.

Yak and Yeti Won Ton Soup

For my second course I chose another favorite, the Pot Stickers ($7.99). These wrapped dumplings are filled with pork and available two ways: either steamed or seared. I chose to have mine seared. This entails cooking the outside of the Pot Sticker at a high temperature which gives the outer layer a caramelized, crunchy texture. They're served with a tangy soy-lime dipping sauce and sprinkled with spring onions and diced tomatoes.

Yak and Yeti Pot Stickers

The appetizer choices also include Seared Ahi Tuna, Pork Egg Rolls, Lettuce Cups, and Wok-Fried Green Beans (pictured below - $6.99).

Yak and Yeti Wok Fried Green Beans

From there on I was in previously uncharted territory. I decided on the Shaoxing Steak and Shrimp ($24.99) for my entrée. It was absolutely wonderful, and would have been enough for two people to share. The skirt steak had a nice, char-grilled flavor and was decoratively speared around a bed of brown or jasmine rice. Skirt steak is a flat cut of beef renowned for its flavor. It is also known for being tougher than other cuts of beef. I did not find that to be the case at all. It was flavorful and tender. The shrimp were skewered and tempura-battered. The chili plum dipping sauce was sweet and went perfectly with the shrimp and rice.

Yak and Yeti Shaoxing Steak Shrimp

While all of the menu items do have an Asian-influence, there is a broad variety of choices. Seared Miso Salmon, Duck with Anandapur Glaze, Lo Mein, Crispy Honey Chicken, Maple Tamarind Chicken, and the health-conscious Mandarin Chicken Salad (pictured below - $13.99) are just a few of them.

Yak and Yeti Mandarin Chicken Salad

After this fabulous meal I was so full I thought I would need to be carried out on a gurney. In the name of research I still ordered dessert. I opted for the Mango Pie ($6.99), which had a consistency similar to pudding encased inside of a shortbread cookie crust. It was finished off with whipped cream and raspberry sauce. Notice the tiny leaves of mint that garnish the pie. I thought that was a nice touch. This dessert was cool and refreshing. I could see it being the perfect treat on a hot summer day. While I would definitely order it again, the cream cheese filled Fried Won-Tons remain my favorite dessert here.

Yak and Yeti Mandarin Mango Pie

Yak & Yeti is a triumph for Disney's Animal Kingdom. The theme is perfectly executed, with delicious food that lives up to the standards one would expect from a Walt Disney World restaurant. There aren't any over-the-top thunderstorms or meteor showers to remind you where you're at. One look at the foreboding Yeti standing guard near the entrance and you'll feel as if you are in the foothills of an "expedition". Clean those plates, your adventure awaits.

Related Links:

Yak and Yeti Menu

Yak and Yeti Kid's Menu

Reader's Rate and Review Yak and Yeti

jeffo.JPG About Jeff: I'm from South Central Pennsylvania, where I work for a Media Publishing Company by day. My first visit to WDW was at the age of 2, and I 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 and pursue another hobby of mine - photography. My favorite resort is the Polynesian, but I 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 enjoy sampling different foods that I normally would never try at home (such as Escargot at the France pavilion).

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About February 2010

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in February 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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