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November 4, 2010

Disney Magic and Disney Wonder Cruise Ships

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Disney Magic vs. Disney Wonder

Since the Disney Cruise Line fleet will soon be expanding to include four ships, I wanted to take a moment to look back at the two ships that started it all, the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder.

Disney Cruise Line


Disney Cruise Line


These two sister ships are similar in many ways, but also incredibly unique. Unique décor gives each ship its own feel and vibe, while at the same time, honoring the great ocean liners of the past, and sprinkling in a little Disney magic. This blog is going to take a look at the differences between the two ships, both in décor and onboard facilities.

Basic Facts:

The Disney Magic first set sail in 1998, with the Disney Wonder following a year later in 1999. Both ships are registered in the Bahamas and were built by Fincantieri Shipyards in Italy. Each ship has a gross tonnage http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_tonnage) of approx. 83,000, is 964 feet long, 106 feet wide, and cruises at an average speed of 21 to 23 knots (25-28 mph or 40-44kph). Both ships hold approx. 2400 passengers in 877 staterooms and have 11 passenger decks.

Exterior:

From the outside, there are only two major differences between the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder, the first being the artwork adorning the bow and stern. On the bow of the Disney Magic is Sorcerer Mickey.

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On the bow of the Disney Wonder, you will find Steamboat Willie.

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If you are especially observant, you might notice some of Mickey's friends hanging out in the scrollwork on the bow of both ships.

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On the stern of the Disney Magic is Botswain Goofy.

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On the stern of the Disney Wonder is Donald and his troublemaking nephews.


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The second difference between the two ships is in the shape of the fake portholes of the Navigator's Verandah staterooms. These are the category 7 staterooms that have a partially enclosed verandah. As you can see below, the Disney Magic has smallish, round portholes.

Disney Cruise Line


Disney made a slight modification to the Disney Wonder to allow guests in Navigator's Verandah staterooms a better view. On the Disney Wonder, the portholes are larger and oblong.

Disney Cruise Line

General Décor:

In the tradition of the great ocean liners, the Disney Magic is decorated in the Art Deco style http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Deco This style focuses on geometric shapes, warm tones, and elegance. In contrast to the Art Deco style of the Disney Magic, the Disney Wonder is decorated in the Art Nouveau style http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Nouveau which focuses on soft colors and organic shapes.

The next two photos are of the guest services area on both ships. Notice the elegance and geometry of the Disney Magic in the first picture, and compare it with the softer lines and grand style of the Disney Wonder in the second picture.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line


The next two photos show the different décor as it plays out around the ship. Everything from the chairs, to the curtains, to the carpeting changes to reflect the unique style of each ship. The Disney Magic is pictured first and the Disney Wonder is pictured second.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line


Atrium:

The elegant atriums of the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder are not only the hub of much of the activity on the ship, but also a showcase of the Art Deco and Art Nouveau décor of each ship. On the Disney Magic, the atrium is centered on Helmsmen Mickey.

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On the Disney Wonder, the atrium is centered on Ariel.

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Each atrium exhibits the character of its ship, and, as the first part of the ship guests experience, sets the tone for the rest of the ship. Notice the classic elegance of the Disney Magic.

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Disney Cruise Line


Disney Cruise Line


Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line


On the Disney Wonder, the atrium exudes the playfulness of the sea, as well as the grandeur of a great ocean liner.

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Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line


Restaurants:

On the Disney Magic, Lumiere's is the grand dining room. This Art Deco inspired dining room features a giant Beauty and the Beast mural, domed roses, and the elegance of a day gone by.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

On the Disney Wonder, Triton's is the grand dining room. This Art Nouveau inspired dining room features a giant Little Mermaid mural, lighting that subtly transports you under the sea, and bubbles aplenty.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Also on the Disney Magic, the deck 9 buffet is known as Topsider, and boasts a nautical motif.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line


On the Disney Wonder, the deck 9 buffet is known as Beach Blanket Buffet, and has a laid-back beachside atmosphere.


Disney Cruise Line


Nightclubs:

On the Disney Magic, the adult nightclub district is known as Beat Street. This center of nightlife features a dance/show club called Rockin' Bar D, a relaxed lounge called Sessions, a duty-free store called Off Beat, and a sports pub called Diversions (identical on both ships)

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Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line

On the Disney Wonder, the adult nightclub district is known as Route 66. This nighttime entertainment hub features a dance/show club called Wavebands, the Cadillac Lounge for relaxing piano music, a duty-free store called Radar Trap, and a sports pub called Diversions (identical on both ships).

Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line


Ocean Quest:

Found only on the Disney Magic, Ocean Quest is a space for tweens ages 11-13 and was carved out of the conference rooms on deck 2. (On the Disney Wonder, this space is still used as meeting rooms.) Also of note, the teen club on the Disney Magic is called The Stack, and the teen club on the Disney Wonder is called Aloft. Despite the difference in names, the two clubs are virtually identical.


Outlook Café:

Found only on the Disney Wonder, the Outlook Café was added during the Wonder's 2009 dry dock to add additional indoor space for the Alaskan cruises. This beautiful space is connected by a spiral staircase to the Cove Café and overlooks the Quiet Cove pool.


Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Well, there you have it. A photo description of the differences between the two sister ships, the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder.

Look for the 2 new ships, the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy to have similar differences.


November 6, 2010

Trade City USA - Walt Disney World Pin Celebration

Guest Blogger Carol Cruise returns with a report from this year's Pin Celebration at Walt Disney World!

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It has been just over a year since my last report about the Carol's 2009 Pin Event Blog">EPCOT Pin Celebration. Wow time does fly by quickly! This year the pin event was held in August and was a wee bit different than other years. I will touch on that a bit later!

The event was organized much the same as previous years; it was announced on the Disney events site, registration opened March 31st and if you registered early you were entitled to a $15 discount off the registration fee and the first 750 to register also received an early bird pin. Your RSP (Random Selection Process) request was due July 1st; this is when you list the pins you want from the merchandise catalog and hope that you get lucky when they run your choices through the random selection process. I think registrations must have been slower than previous years since they later extended the RSP date to July 5th and for the first time almost everyone I spoke to got everything they wanted on their RSP.


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The theme for the Disney Pin Celebration 2010 was Trade City USA and all pin traders were invited to the 10th Anniversary "Founder's Day"� celebration which took place August 27 - 29, 2010 at EPCOT's World ShowPlace. It was a grand celebration of 10 years of Disney Pin Trading!

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Once again this year I shared a room at All-Star Sports Resort with my friend Susan. We both flew in on Tuesday. She flew out of Buffalo and I started from Syracuse. Susan arrived first and caught Magical Express to the All-Star Sports Resort. I arrived a bit later, picked up a rental car and met her at Downtown Disney. We shopped a bit Tuesday and on Wednesday visited Hollywood Studios.

Thursday morning we were up early and ready to go! This was early registration day for the pin event. After doing a few chores and a bit of shopping we made our way to the Yacht & Beach Club Convention Centre for check in. This year was a bit different, first you had pick your registration time, so if you had not indicated on the entry form that you were coming on Thursday you had to wait until Friday to pickup your pins.

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The registration line seemed to move very quickly compared to other years. Once you got your package with all your information and you got your pins you had to leave the big conference room and go out to the lobby. There was another queue set up in the lobby where you lined up in to get your event gifts.

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This year the gifts included a T-Shirt and a book which included 2 pins and places to put several other pins. Some of the missing pins were in the mystery boxes that were purchased from the event catalog and the other eight pins were going to be released at the event and could be found on the trading boards. This was a bit disappointing for some, since they had not realized that the mystery pins were needed to complete the collection.

Another exciting addition this year was the Vinylmation event, being held Sunday morning. This was a separate registration for $25.00. If you registered for that event you got your free gift from this line as well. It included a mini Vinylmation key chain and a large Vinylmation pin. After I picked up all my loot I went back into the conference room. Half of the room was set up for registration and the other half was set up for pin trading. The pin trading room was full and remained that way until it closed at 10 p.m.

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Our group found a table and we all started checking through our pin purchases and paper work. It felt good to sit down and the room was well air conditioned so I was happy to park myself there for the rest of the day. At one point my friend Susan and I decided to go for a leg-stretch and ended up at Beaches & Cream. It was a nice break in the day.

Friday morning we thought we were doing well and got to EPCOT by 9 a.m. We were able to use the special entry for pin traders, where they have a sniffer dog so you don't have to open all your bags. As we walked down through the rose garden to World ShowCase we could see the line, all the way to the edge of the rose garden, so much for getting there early (lol).

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As we walked into World ShowPlace there was a huge statue of Mayor Mickey welcoming us to Trade City USA.

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Inside the building the AC felt wonderful and once my eyes adjusted from the bright sun outside I could see that Disney once again outdid themselves with the decorations. It was magnificent! World ShowPlace was filled with building facades representing the buildings of Trade City USA and there were event pins which corresponded to most buildings.

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There were several trading boards with roped queues that were already full of people. The queues on average took 45 minutes to get through. The rules were simple, you gave the cast member two of your pins and you got to select two pins from the board. The catch, you had one minute to make your choice and there were hundreds of pins on the board.

This year I had already traded for all the Hidden Mickey pins, so I focused on the newly released Road Sign pins to complete my Trade City Gift Book. Lots of people do look for other goodies, such as limited editions pins or AP (Artist Proof) pins. Apparently this year there were lots of them there, but I pretty much stuck to finding those elusive new event pins.

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There was also a large stage set up in the middle of the pin board area and there were numerous activities going on all day. Throughout the day there were visits from some of the Disney cast who entertained us, including the sheriff, a cowboy and a saloon girl. Of course Scoop Sanderson was there too!

In the back half of the room there were rows of tables and the traders were setting up their bags and books. It was fun to walk around and see everyone's traders. This year in addition to lots of pins there were also Vinylmations. I was actually more interested in trading my Vinylmations than I was my pins. I admit I am hooked on these little guys.

I met up with some of my friends and our group staked out a table and some chairs. We alternated between the table and the boards. I also took some time to walk around and look at the displays presented by Walt Disney World Pin Trading, Disneyland CA, Disneyland Paris Pin Trading and Vinylmations. Each of the booths displayed the upcoming designs for 2011.

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We pretty much stayed inside all day with the exception lunch. We ran out for a quick bite which we brought back to the table to eat. It was way too hot for me to be anywhere that didn't have AC.

At 6 p.m. we packed up our stuff and headed out of the park. There was another pin trading gathering being held at Port Orleans Riverside. It was organized by Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders (CJDPT), founded by our friend John Rick. We dropped off our event gifts and pins at All-Star Sports and then hurried to the next pin event. We wanted to get there early so that we could have some dinner before the pin action started. I have to say that the food court at Riverside is very good; I really liked the pasta bar.

Soon the area that we were in started to fill with familiar faces and the pin trading began. For me it was more of a social event, I chatted with lots of people and did very little trading. It was a nice relaxing way to spend the evening. After a few hours we were all getting tired so the four of us headed back to our resorts. It was soon lights out for us.

Saturday was another beautiful sunny day, too bad it was just so darned hot! We arrived at EPCOT a little later this day, no need to rush. We made our way though the special entrance and sniffer dog Max gave us the go-ahead through security.

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The entire day pretty much mirrored Friday, pin boards and more pin boards. When the event closed at 6 p.m. we all went to Sunshine Seasons for dinner, then at 7 p.m. Susan and I went back to the World ShowPlace for a special Illuminations Dessert party. This was something new this year and we both thought we would enjoy it. The dessert was very good. There were also some pin boards that were operational for trading but the lines were very long.

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It was raining pretty hard so neither one of us was too fussy about going to watch Illuminations. We decided to track down the rest of our buddies. They were just going to go in to see Captain EO so we made our way over to Imagination and joined them. It was fun to watch this after so many years. By the time we got out of the show the park was closed and we were tired, so we trudged to the car and back to the resort. Another night where we just didn't have enough energy left to go to Downtown Disney.

Sunday we were excited and up early; this was the first Disney Vinylmation Event and we wanted to be there when the doors opened. It was exciting to be experiencing something new. We arrived at EPCOT and we could still enter through the special entrance for pin traders, there was a different sniffer dog today, Max must get Sunday off.

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We got to World ShowPlace just as the doors were opening. There really wasn't anything different in the way the room was set up or the decorations. The pin boards were gone and in place of them were trading stations with Vinylmations. Some of the lines had flat boxes with about 20 Vinylmations in each box. You waited your turn and then basically swapped your Vinylmation for any of the ones in the box. There were also a couple of lines that had the mystery boxes. They were the same mystery boxes that you see out in the stores. There are 24 squares and you pick a number - whatever Vinylmation is behind that number is what you are trading for. The exciting part was that Disney had put lots of the older series out in the trading boxes. Park Series 1 & 2 and Urban Series 1 & 2 have been out of circulation for a while, so this gave you a chance to get some of the earliest and rarest Vinylmations. They also had lots of chasers in the boxes so the challenge was to be near the front of the line when the "refresh" was done. Each refreshed trading box they brought out had about 4 really hard to find Vinylmations.

It was a lot of fun and not too crowded; it seemed to go by too fast. Once the "official" event was over the room opened to the public. This was the chance for people who did not register for the pin or Vinylmation event to purchase items that were left over. This year there were only a few pins that sold out so there was a good selection.

Our gang was heading over to the Electric Umbrella for lunch but I still wanted to do a bit of Vinylmation trading so they left and I headed to the back room. I had an ace in my pocket! It was a chaser from the Urban Series 1 that I had been hanging onto. I knew it was a scarce item and there were a couple of older Vinylmations which I really wanted. After working the room and talking to several traders I was able to make a good trade, my Gold Chaser for three other Chasers, the prize for me was Pongo. (If you are new to Vinylmations, a "Chaser" is the rarest form of them. Since Chasers are scarce, they are highly sought after.)

I left the event a happy trader and I was still able to catch up with my friends at the Electric Umbrella. I had a quick lunch and then we all made our way over to the Magic Kingdom. It was very hot and we were moving slow. We wandered through the shops along Main Street and decided that we should have an ice cream. We went into the Bakery to eat our treat and cool down. When we were done we decided to go to Adventureland and ride Pirates of the Caribbean. There was no line and we had our own boat - it was great. From there we went over and rode the Haunted Mansion, again there was no line.

It was getting near dinnertime but after the ice cream we were not very hungry yet. Susan and I decided we would try and track down our Canadian friends Juanita and Carrie since we knew they were at the Magic Kingdom. We said our good byes to our friends Ann, Mike, Aimee and Donald and found Juanita sitting by the bakery waiting for Carrie. We went with them to the Columbia House and had a cold drink while they had their dinner, it was nice to just sit and chat for a while.

We left them and decided to go to Downtown Disney since it was our last night. By the time we got there we were both hungry so we went into The Earl of Sandwich and both had the BLT. It tasted so good! When we were done we made our way to the Pin Station and then over to D Street for one final check before we went back to the resort. It was 11 p.m. and everything was closing. We were tired!

It had been a fun few days with good friends but all too soon it was over. I had my suitcase packed before I went to bed so that when I got up I could just get in the car and go to the airport. In the morning I said goodbye to Susan, she had a late flight, and made my way to the airport. It was an easy drive, my plane was on time and I was walking in the door at home in time for dinner. I can't wait for next year! It's scheduled for September 9 - 11, 2011 and the theme is "The Florida Project"

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Gary says we might take the motor home and make a longer trip of it! Yahoo!

Carol's 2009 Pin Event Blog

Carol's 2008 Pin Event Blog

Holiday Decorations at the Magic Kingdom

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Guest Blogger Ashley Livingston visited the Magic Kingdom today and found it already being transformed into a Winter Wonderland!

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Magic Kingdom Holiday Decorations


Magic Kingdom Holiday Decorations


Magic Kingdom Holiday Decorations


Magic Kingdom Holiday Decorations


Magic Kingdom Holiday Decorations


Magic Kingdom Holiday Decorations


Magic Kingdom Holiday Decorations


Magic Kingdom Holiday Decorations

Magic Kingdom Holiday Decorations

November 7, 2010

Holiday Decorations at Disney's Hollywood Studios

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Guest Blogger Ashley Livingston paid a visit to Disney's Hollywood Studios this weekend, and discovered the holiday decorations already appearing. As she notes, they are "lovely!"

Reminder: The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights begins November 8!

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November 9, 2010

Disneyland Circa 1973

You never know what you will find on the internet on any given day. Sometimes you get pleasantly surprised.

I recently stumbled upon Loren Javier's online photos. Hidden among what has to be thousands of Disney photos, are some pictures from times gone by at the Disney Parks.

When I contacted Loren to ask his permission to post the photos he replied:

"I am a big fan of AllEars.net (it was VERY helpful to me when I was doing my research for my recent WDW trip), so I am honored you want to use them.... You have my permission to use the photos and thank you for attributing them to me. "

Thank you Loren for allowing me to share these photos with everyone!

The first group are from Disneyland circa 1973, Loren's very first trip to Disneyland!

Notice the sign for the A Coupon or 10cents in the upper left corner.

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Loren and his uncle at the Matterhorn. Notice the GAF Photo Trail sign in the upper left.

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Dumbo the Flying Elephant. In this photo you can see a couple of the Sky Way cars in the background.

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Notice that the placement of the Mad Tea Party is near Casey Junior Circus Train. It used to be where Dumbo the Flying Elephant is now.

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Captain Hook's Pirate Ship. Check out the "Waste Paper" trash can.

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I am at the Disneyland Character Phones which used to be at the America The Beautiful Circle Vision Lobby.

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Finally, the moving walkway at the monorail station in Tomorrowland.

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Hope you enjoyed my photos!

Trail's End Restaurant - Ft. Wilderness - Walt Disney World

Andrew Rossi

The Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground tends to be overlooked by many guests, but it is a really interesting place to visit especially if you have never seen it before. It is a truly unique location within Disney World.

Fort Wilderness features variety of fun and exciting offerings found nowhere else at Disney with everything from horseback riding and archery lessons to making s'mores with Chip and Dale at a nightly sing-along campfire.

Like any other Disney resort, Fort Wilderness also offers a variety of dining opportunities. Mickey's Backyard Barbeque (held seasonally on Thursdays and Saturdays only) features an all-you-can-eat buffet along with a live country band, line-dance instructor, and appearances by your favorite Disney characters.

The Hoop-De-Doo Musical Review has three shows nightly in Pioneer Hall at 5:00, 7:15, and 9:30 featuring singing, dancing, and comedic skits along with pails (literally) of American favorites such as fried chicken and barbeque ribs.

But if you are looking for just a regular sit-down meal, Fort Wilderness has a restaurant that tends to be overshadowed by these other dining experiences. The Trail's End Restaurant may not be the most glamorous or well-known dining location at Disney World, but it is definitely a restaurant worth checking out if you are visiting Fort Wilderness.

Trail's End Restaurant  - Ft. Wilderness

Trail's End Restaurant  - Ft. Wilderness


Overview:

The Trail's End Restaurant is located adjacent to Pioneer Hall in a section of Fort Wilderness known as "The Settlement."

One of the reasons why this restaurant may not be very well known among Disney guests is that it is somewhat out of the way and it can take a while to get there. From Magic Kingdom, you can take a boat to Fort Wilderness followed by a short walk from the dock to the restaurant. From any of the other parks, however, Disney buses drop guests off at "The Outpost" near the front entrance of Fort Wilderness and from there you must get on an internal resort bus that will take you to The Settlement. Because of its isolated location, Trail's End probably receives most of its business from guests staying at Fort Wilderness.

Up until recently Trail's End has featured an all-you-care-to-eat buffet throughout the day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The breakfast buffet featured traditional items such as scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and Mickey waffles. The lunch and dinner buffets included, among other things, the same fried chicken and barbeque ribs served at the Hoop-De-Doo Review. While the restaurant still offers the same breakfast and dinner buffets, Disney has decided to try out a new a la carte menu for lunch and I decided to go check it out first-hand.

Atmosphere:

I can best describe the atmosphere of the Trail's End Restaurant as casual-rustic. The restaurant has a very laid back and informal feel that makes it a great dining location for the entire family. At the same time, the restaurant's remote location means that it is far less crowded than many other dining locations found inside the theme parks. This makes it a great alternative for those guests looking for a quiet meal (especially at lunchtime) and to escape the hustle and bustle of the parks for a little while.

The restaurant's theme is that of an old-western, frontier tavern or hunting lodge and the walls are adorned with many items you would typically expect to find in this setting. Tea kettles, pots and pans, snowshoes, horseshoes, washboards, saws, ceramic jugs, and even a wooden canoe are just a few of the period pieces that lend a sense of authenticity and history to the restaurant.

Trail's End Restaurant  - Ft. Wilderness

Trail's End Restaurant  - Ft. Wilderness

Trail's End Restaurant  - Ft. Wilderness

And, of course, what frontier tavern or hunting lodge would be complete without an assortment of wild animals on display?

Trail's End Restaurant  - Ft. Wilderness

Trail's End Restaurant  - Ft. Wilderness

However, I was a little disappointed to find that the attention to detail was not at the same level as you find in many other Disney dining locations. This is unfortunate because the restaurant's frontier theme and wilderness setting lend themselves so well to a completely immersive dining experience.

While the restaurant has a definite overarching theme, I felt that it was not carried out as far as it could have been. For example, the ceiling is supported by wooden beams meant to give the restaurant a log cabin feel, but this is betrayed by white ceiling tiles and a generic tile floor. It does not really make you feel as though you are actually eating in a rustic frontier tavern. While many other Disney restaurants have the unique ability to transport you to a completely different time and place through highly themed and detailed décors, the Trail's End Restaurant falls a little short in this area.

Trail's End Restaurant  - Ft. Wilderness

Trail's End Restaurant  - Ft. Wilderness

The Menu:

The main reason I wanted to try Trail's End was to experience the new a la carte lunch. It is a menu that offers some traditional Southern favorites as well as some more unique items. The menu is made up primarily of old-fashioned comfort food, with such classic Americana offerings as grits, hush puppies, and fried chicken. While it may not be a gourmet meal, Trail's End features home-style food that is simple but satisfyingly good.

Appetizers are limited to Beef Chili with Beans ($6.49), a Mixed Greens Salad ($5.49), and the Soup of the day ($6.99), but the entrée choices are far more interesting.

There are a good variety of entrees that offer something for everyone, whether looking for a hearty meal or something on the lighter side. In many cases the accompaniments and sides are just as intriguing as the main course itself.

The Spicy Grilled Shrimp and Andouille Sausage ($16.99) is served over cheese grits, the Grilled Pork Chop ($17.99) is accompanied by Hoppin John (a southern version of rice and beans), and the Fried Green Tomatoes ($15.99) come with fried green beans and sweet potato fries.

The menu also features an Angus Chili Cheeseburger ($13.99) topped with chili, cheddar, and Swiss cheese and served with sweet potato fries as well as the Angus Chuck Bacon Cheeseburger ($12.99) topped with bacon and cheddar and also accompanied by sweet potato fries.

On the lighter side there is the Fresh Berry Salad with Chicken ($12.99) tossed with raspberry vinaigrette, fresh berries, blue cheese and candied walnuts. However, the most interesting, and unusual, option on the menu is the Fried Chicken and Waffles ($13.49), which my server explained was one of the more popular lunch choices.

The dessert choices are few but interesting nonetheless and include Wilderness S'mores ($4.79), a dark chocolate mousse layered with graham crackers and topped with toasted marshmallows drizzled with chocolate sauce, a Warm Sticky Bun Sundae ($4.99) layered with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, and whipped cream, and Angel Food Cake ($6.99) with fresh berries and raspberry sorbet.

For my meal I chose the Pan-seared Catfish ($14.99) which came served with coleslaw and corn-chive hush puppies. As someone who grew up in New England, this type of food is something far different than what I am typically used to and while I found it to be somewhat more exotic, someone from the South would probably think it rather commonplace.

I had never had catfish before and it is actually a very mild flavored fish. The fish was pan-seared perfectly so that it was golden brown on the outside but still moist, light, and flaky on the inside. The catfish came coated with cornmeal that provided an added texture to the dish that was more coarse and crunchy than a flour or breadcrumb coating, but I felt it was a little dry.

The fish would not have had much flavor if not for a spicy horseradish sauce that accompanied it and provided a much needed kick to the dish. The sauce was very strong and definitely not for the faint of heart or people who are not fans of horseradish. The hush puppies served alongside the catfish were very soft and light, but a little dry. Mixed inside the hush puppies were pieces of corn and bell peppers that provided some added flavor and a little spiciness. Overall, the catfish and hush puppies were both good, but I was disappointed with the coleslaw because it was very dry and had little flavor.

Trail's End Restaurant  - Ft. Wilderness

For dessert I decided on the Warm Sticky Bun Sundae. This was definitely the highlight of my meal. The dessert features a pecan sticky bun topped with vanilla ice cream, a combination that I had never seen before but one that works really well. The sticky bun and the vanilla ice cream present two totally different flavors and textures, but they compliment each other perfectly. The sticky bun itself was nice and soft, and although it was served warm I wish it had been a little warmer. The pecans added even more texture and flavor to the dessert in addition to the whipped cream and caramel that topped the sundae. The dessert may be simple, but it was something unique. The combination of a sticky bun and ice cream may seem unusual at first, but the two paired together to create a very tasty dessert.

Trail's End Restaurant  - Ft. Wilderness

Service:

It was only recently that Trail's End made the switch from a buffet lunch to an a la carte menu and I could tell that the servers were still getting used to the change. Up until this point, the restaurant had always featured a buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and thus a conventional sit-down meal is a major change for the servers. The service was a little slow and, although it did not happen to me personally, I did witness some confusion in orders coming out of the kitchen and meals being brought to the wrong tables.

That being said, I could tell that all the servers were trying really hard and doing the best they could to adapt to this changed lunch format. I was very happy with my server. While he was still getting used to the new menu and had a sheet of notes providing descriptions of the different dishes, he really went out of his way to make sure that everything about my meal was satisfactory. He was a grandfather-like figure who referred to me "partner" and seemed genuinely interested in how I was enjoying everything. This is a quality that I noticed among all of the servers in that they seemed to be very personable and really cared about the service they were providing.

Dining on a Budget:

Trail's End is actually a very affordable dining location for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Breakfast features an all-you-care-to-eat buffet for $15.99. That is quite a bargain when compared to the Crystal Palace breakfast buffet for $20.99 or breakfast at Chef Mickey's for $26.99. While Trail's End breakfast may not feature Disney characters or have a selection of food as elaborate or extensive as these other restaurants, it still offers a hearty and filling meal with many traditional breakfast favorites.

Likewise, the all-you-care-to-eat dinner buffet for $22.99 may be one of the best values on Disney property, especially when you consider that dinner at Chef Mickey's costs $34, Boma's dinner buffet is $30, and the dinner buffet at Cape May Café is $26.99.

Again, I am not saying that Trail's End is on the same level as these other restaurants, but it is a much more affordable option if you are looking for a buffet meal. The a la carte lunch also features many reasonably priced selections, with most entrée items on the menu ranging from $12.99 to $14.99. One of the best values on the menu may be the Chicken and Waffles for $13.49 because the portion size looked to be absolutely huge.

The Overall Experience:

I am the kind of person who always likes to try different things and this is especially true in regards to restaurants. The Trail's End Restaurant is not one of the most popular or well-known dining locations at Disney World, but just because a restaurant is not crowded all the time does not mean that it is not good. It may not be the best meal that I have had at Disney, but the food was still good and featured large portion sizes at a reasonable price. I am definitely glad I tried the Trail's End Restaurant at least once and, in fact, there are still several other items on the lunch menu that I wish to taste.

While I will probably not purposely make a special trip to go back to the restaurant again, if I ever find myself at Fort Wilderness I will not hesitate to eat there. Even though it may not be one of my "must-do" Disney restaurants and its isolated location makes it a little bit of a hassle for most guests to get to, the Trail's End Restaurant is definitely worth a visit for anyone staying at Fort Wilderness or if you are looking for a dining experience that is a little different and off the beaten path.

Have you dined at Trail's End recently? Share your experience and read what others have to say! AllEars Rate and Review Trail's End Restaurant

Read Andrew's first blog, a review of House of Blues in Downtown Disney.

November 11, 2010

Solo Travel to Walt Disney World

By Guest Blogger Kim Knight

I recently was asked to participate in a podcast discussion about solo travel to Walt Disney World. It's probably because I spend a good portion of my year on a plane or in a hotel room for business and pleasure. Add it all up & I spend significantly more time "on the road" than at home. Which suits me just fine - I like to travel.

But there's a HUGE difference between traveling solo for business & on vacation. So this made the idea of solo travel for me at Disney a bit hard to get a handle on. Sure, I love the place to distraction" but who would be at my side during Illuminations? Who would sing with me during Magic Kingdom rope drop or dance with me during street parades? Who would hold their nose with me on Spaceship Earth as Rome burned? Who would share those wonderful moments when your eyes roll back into your head at some tasty treat in the world showcase?

Kim Knight

It just didn't seem very fun.

I ended up getting thrown into the world of solo trips - my 1st was a botched attempt at a BD celebration (mine) with friends. I decided that I was going anyway and it was going to be great! I'd finally get to do everything I wanted to do! All in one weekend! Yay me!

Soooooo... it was kind of weird.

Here I was in this place that I loved, but had never really experienced on my own. I'd never made choices there without thinking about everyone else. I enjoyed Epcot's Food & Wine Festival, but I kept thinking how much other people would enjoy this and planning to come back with them. It was a bit distracting and I lasted less than 48 hrs before I invited a friend to join me and put me out of my misery.

It took 3 more attempts before I did what I'd consider a completely solo trip. And it was wonderful!!

My trip was short, but sweet. I had no one else coming. It was just me, myself and I (gulp). And as I watched Illuminations from one of my new favorite spots, I realized it wasn't strange at all. In fact I enjoyed it quite a bit! As I strolled along the Boardwalk at night I took the time to really savor all of the sights & sounds. Since I didn't have to worry if anyone was tired, or hungry, or hot, or cold, or bored (whew) I was able to really notice all the things we sometimes take for granted but create that atmosphere that is so distinctly Disney.
It was perfect.

Kim Knight

I've done friend trips, family trips, Disney"tweep" trips, and just about any other kind of trip you could imagine at this point. And I cannot wait to go back to Walt Disney World on my own.

Things to consider? There are a few & safety is 1st. I have strolled avenues worldwide and Disney is probably the place I feel most safe as a solo female traveler. I am never worried about leaving my resort at night or coming in at 2am due to an Extra Magic Hour evening in one of the parks. I can converse and share the magic with complete strangers in our special place.

Ever wonder why you just feel a little bit safer at WDW? It's not just those lovely endorphins making you feed good. Disney takes security and "Protecting The Magic" very seriously. There are security cameras throughout the parks & attractions and lots of cast members are employed by Disney Security to keep our "World" safe & secure.

Kim Knight

That said, common sense will always be your best friend. I don't disclose my resort/room number or leave my food or beverage unattended with strangers. I also pay attention to my surroundings & don't check my "street smarts" at the wonderful gates to the "World".

I have one other rule for solo travel (Disney or not) that makes me feel very secure. I don't stay at properties where my bedroom door is also an exterior door (i.e. open to the elements). Interior hallways just feel safer to me. They tend to be better lit - which is important at night. If your budget doesn't allow for this I'd reserve or request a room closer to the main buildings at Moderate & Value resorts. This will at least put you closer to the front desk & hopefully more guest/cast member foot traffic.

2nd observation & confession time: I rarely make advanced dining reservations for my solo trips. (And I enjoy table service dining).

I admit full-on obsession when it comes to dining plans for vacation. I have a spreadsheet for my Disney vacation reservations. And I save it to a folder on my phone. And I have a paper back-up - which I put in a plastic sleeve for protection. I stay up late reading and (re-reading) menus on Allears like they're bestselling novels. I have to - my mom's vegan and even at Disney World (perhaps the most accommodating place on Earth) it isn't easy to fly by the seat of your pants with dietary restrictions. I also refuse to live solely on burgers and fries while on vacation.

But when I solo travel I'm a free spirit. I love the freedom of figuring out where to eat based on how I feel at the moment. My 1st meal at the Whispering Canyon was a solo one - and I still got the BEST refill ever.

Kim Knight

And loosening up a bit on my planning has led to discovering some new counter service gems in places like the Morocco pavilion in World Showcase or Beaches & Cream (which usually has the longest line ever). It's simply a lot easier to get into some of these places solo.

And finally, the absolute GEM of solo travel (drum roll please) - you can DO anything YOU want.

I know, it seems simple but it's probably the best part so I saved it for last. When it's just me I can see or do whatever I feel like doing in the moment. Jog along the Boardwalk instead of racing to a park for rope drop?? Or get to rope drop on time every day? Why not? Putter around and take pics at night? Sure! The "World" is your oyster.

Kim Knight

My new goal is to slow down on my solo trips. Taking the time to soak up the magic has become more & more fun to me and I can't imagine a better way to do it than solo.
What do you like to do when it's JUST you? What do you dream of doing on your own at the world? Leave a comment - share your thoughts & suggestions with us!


Kimberly Knight is a born & bred New Yorker who loves living in the DC Metro area. She is completely addicted to all things travel related & everything Disney Parks. She's been visiting Walt Disney World for over 20 years & still gets excited about her next trip like it was her 1st. You can follow her on Twitter @KimberKnight

November 12, 2010

Play & Greet with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider

By Guest Blogger Michele Lindsay

It was a magical Monday indeed. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the rope drop crowds were engaged in the Dumbo Dash while my family and I took a turn toward the Enchanted Garden to catch a peek at the new Play and Greet set for Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from the upcoming Disney movie "Tangled". That day, October 25th, was the first day Rapunzel and Flynn were meeting guests in the Magic Kingdom. Previously, they had been meeting guests in Epcot while their set was being completed.

Flynn and Rapunzel Play and Greet

The Garden, formerly the site of Storytime with Belle, has now been transformed into a stone castle-like setting. Accents of purple and sunbursts abound in the set. The guests are transported back to an almost medieval time. A time when damsels in distress waited for their prince to come.

But not for the Disney incarnation of Rapunzel. Her savior is a new take on the male hero, different from the Prince in the classic Grimm Brothers version of the fairy tale. Flynn Rider comes across as a very Robin Hood-esque figure (his costume looks like it came straight out of Sherwood Forrest). He is not a prince, but more of a scoundrel. More Han Solo than Prince Charming.

As for our heroine, Rapunzel presents herself as a lovely addition to the Princess franchise. She is sweet, with a high-pitched voice and a delicate air about her. Rapunzel has let down her golden hair, adorned with flowers and braids. Dressed in a purple and pink, with trim of lace, she looks the part of a princess. I was anticipating that she would be a bit less proper, as the character appears to be more strong-willed and independent in the movie trailers.

Two cast members are there to assist with the children, helping them color pictures of Rapunzel, as they await her arrival. The kids know that she is coming, so there wasn't a true surprise (the doors are clearly in the center of the staging area).

Flynn and Rapunzel Play and Greet

Rapunzel and Flynn join hands with the children (or in our case Flynn holds hands with one mom and a young boy as several of the girls didn't want to hold his hand) and they do a dance around the table. The children were young enough that this entertained them, but it wasn't a very interactive experience. Playing a game of some sort, or singing a song would be more engaging. The coloring and dance seem to target the under five age group.

Flynn and Rapunzel Play and Greet

Flynn and Rapunzel Play and Greet

While waiting to meet the characters, cast members walk thru the line introducing Pascal, Rapunzel's faithful companion during her term in the tower. They play a game with the children of "Pass Pascal", much like Hot Potato. He's passed down the line as quickly as possible. "Pass Pascal" kept the children entertained for a few minutes.

Flynn and Rapunzel Play and Greet

The next attempt to distract the children in line was the cast members asking the kids to make their scariest faces for the PhotoPass photographer. My younger daughter broke out crying. She is typically a pretty ferocious kid, but someone made a scowl that scared her silly for a few moments. The cast members saw this and toned it down so no other kids would have to meet Rapunzel in tears.

A PhotoPass photographer was on hand during the Greet and took photos of the kids coloring, while in line passing Pascal, and then with the characters. The availability of PhotoPass photographers with character greets is something I wish Disney would do more of. It allows for the parents to enjoy watching their children interact with the characters and not worry about being a shutterbug. My girls had a very animated conversation with Rapunzel about their shoes (my little one had Mickey crocs on, and Rapunzel asked if we had met him and what was he like).

Flynn and Rapunzel Play and Greet

The girls focused their attention on Rapunzel and didn't give Flynn very much time. I think that many of the children had no idea who Flynn was, but could easily identify Rapunzel. Even if the children were not familiar with the fairy tale, they certainly recognized her as a princess, making her more approachable.

Flynn and Rapunzel Play and Greet

Flynn and Rapunzel Play and Greet

If you plan on meeting Rapunzel and Flynn, arrive 10-15 minutes early to the staging area. The meets are set on the hour, but we found that the cast members let children in earlier than that. Once the area was at capacity, cast members roped it off.

Overall, we were thrilled to have been among the first people to meet Rapunzel and Flynn. The staging area is lovely, the costumes are great, and the characters are wonderful with the children. I think the "play" aspect of this experience could be improved, especially for older children, but that should improve over time. And hopefully once "Tangled" hits the theaters more children will know who Flynn Rider is and someone will dance with him!

********

Check out Michele's first blog - A Special Preview Princess and the Frog - Zeigfeld Theatre

About Michele: Michele Lindsay is a Connecticut Yankee who recently moved to Metro Detroit. A stay-at-home-mom to two active girls, she's never truly "at home." This was Michele's eighth visit to Disney over the last 35 years, and certainly not her last.

November 21, 2010

One Man's Dream Reopens Disney's Hollywood Studios

by Guest Blogger John Kurowski

Before Mickey Mouse squared off with Pegleg Pete at the helm of a steamboat, to after a group of plane crash survivors squared off with a smoke monster, the tradition of history and entertainment by the Walt Disney Company spans many generations.


One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

For an up-close look at this legacy, Disney's Hollywood Studios recently reopened its One Man's Dream attraction after a three-month rehab. Our friends at D23, Disney's Official Fan Club, welcome guests to this exhibit that Walt Disney World introduced in 2001 as part of its 100 Years of Magic celebration that celebrated the 100th birthday of company founder, Walt Disney.

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

When the attraction first opened, guests could trace the life and times of Walt Disney and the influence he had on the company in the years after his death. Light-up placards gave a brief history on various topics that meant a lot to Walt.

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios


One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

"Transportation" for example, in the old exhibit, started with Walt Disney's enthusiasm for steam locomotives, followed by his building a model train in his backyard, to the construction of the Disneyland Railroad, and then finally, the introduction of linear induction motors with Walt Disney World's WEDWay PeopleMover in 1975.

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios


With an exhibit covering the history, present, and future of an ever-changing company like the Walt Disney Company, challenges usually arise when trying to keep your content fresh. As a result, many artifacts and assets throughout the years have been replaced. Nothing usually too major -- maybe by replacing a small poster highlighting 2003's The Lizzie McGuire Movie to some promotional materials showcasing 2008's High School Musical 3.

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Other elements of the exhibit have disappeared due to being on loan from various owners. For example, the special Academy Award Walt Disney received from Shirley Temple honoring Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs belongs to the Disney family. They loaned the statuettes to Walt Disney World for a short period of time as the attraction was only scheduled to be open for the 100 Years of Celebration. As the exhibit remained popular, Disney kept it open and the time came for Walt Disney World to return its borrowed goods. A portrait of the award with a picture of Walt and Shirley Temple is still on display.

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Some cosmetic changes to the set-up occurred during the downtime. The color palate at the entrance went from blues to a wood panel and wall-to-wall carpet replaces the different tiles and themed floors that reflect each decade on display.

When the attraction first opened, guests would meander through the the first four decades of Walt's life then encounter a series of doors with a mural of Imagineer Herb Ryman's concept art of Disneyland. After an announcement the doors would open and invite guests to take part in Disney's legacy from the 1950s to the present. The opening of the doors effect has been abandoned for a few years but now a castle stone facade replaces the doors with a smaller version of the concept art of the castle next to the panel of televisions playing the opening of Walt Disney's Disneyland series.

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

The small lighted panels of history have changed as well. Each highlighted text now falls in a category that seems to reflect a milestone in the Walt Disney Company's history, as opposed to the man, Walt Disney. "Mickey's Milestones," for example, depicts four key moments within Mickey's career, his debut in Steamboat Willie, his first color appearance in The Band Concert, his memorable role in The Sorcerer's Apprentice, the premiere of The Mickey Mouse Club, and, finally, the release of the video game Epic Mickey. Other categories include "New Media, New Magic" which highlights Disney acquisitions like ABC/Capitol Cities and the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City.

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios


Some notable changes throughout the display include Julie Andrews' white dress from Mary Poppins has been replaced with Fred MacMurray's suit from the little seen Disney film Bon Voyage.

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Guy Williams' mask and cape that he wore as Zorro have been replaced with a suit he wore as Zorro's alter ego, Don Diego de la Vega, accompanied by a suit worn by his silent companion, Bernardo, played by Gene Sheldon. Disney Legend, Betty Taylor, known for her years of playing Slue Foot Sue at Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe is now represented in the form of a beautiful dress worn as the hostess of a beloved Disneyland classic.

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios


The display featuring the controls of Audio Animatronics now can be seen behind glass. A model bust along with rubber and hair depiction of Abraham Lincoln can be seen over a bare animatronic body, as well as a scale model of Disneyland's "it's a small world" facade. The Tower of the Four Winds model from the 1964 New York World's Fair moved from its previous home at Disney's Contemporary Resort to One Man's Dream, as did models of Figment, Horizons' Robot Butler, and plush characters from Epcot's extinct Kitchen Kabaret.

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

A wall promises that in the Fall 2010 the legacy will continue with more exhibits as a wall that looks temporary surrounds the entire conclusion of the display. Various Disney pictures from all areas of the company are given their due from ESPN's SportsCenter to Buena Vista's syndicated television talk show Live! with Regis and Kelly to various Disney and Pixar animated films.

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

The glass containers devoted to the 20th Anniversary of Disney's Hollywood Studios have been replaced with a model of Disney California Adventure's Paradise Pier, complete with a model of the World of Color fountains. Guests with eagle eyes will spot the model Mr. Potato Head within the display and concept art and models for The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast additions coming to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in 2012.

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Many people claim that Walt Disney always said that Disneyland is not a museum but a living breathing place that will constantly change. In short, One Man's Dream serves as somewhat of a museum, but with such a vast past and ever-changing present and future new additions and replacements make it a treat to stop in for many repeat viewings. While taking the time to stroll through Disney's memory lane it gets easy to find a connection with a certain Disney decade or element that brings a sense of history and nostalgia that you can not find anywhere else in the park. As time goes on, One Man's Dream becomes more a valuable resource to allow us all to thank the Walt Disney Company for giving us the opportunity to remember the magic.

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios


One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios


One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios


One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios


One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios


November 26, 2010

Breakfast with a Greek Flair at Kouzzina

Andrew Rossi

When vacationing at Disney World, breakfast can sometimes be an overlooked meal. Rushing to get to the theme parks early in the morning, many guests simply grab a snack on the run or a quick bite to eat at the food court of their resort. With so many guests planning to have a big meal at lunch or dinner, they do not want to also have a large breakfast and spoil their appetite. As a result, breakfast at Disney World does not usually receive the same notoriety as lunch or dinner.

One of the exceptions to this rule are the character dining experiences, such as the buffets at Chef Mickey's, Chrystal Palace, Cape May Café, or Tusker House. These restaurants are very popular for breakfast and reservations are needed well in advance. But what if you do not necessarily want to have a character meal and are looking for something other than a buffet? The reality is that Disney offers plenty of other breakfast options if you are looking for a nice, relaxing meal. Kouzzina at Disney's Boardwalk Resort is one such option and offers a breakfast unlike any other in Disney World.

Kouzzina at Disney's Boardwalk Resort

Overview:

In the Spring of 2009 it was announced that renowned chef Cat Cora would be partnering with Disney on a new restaurant venue and that August Kouzzina opened at the Boardwalk Resort replacing an existing restaurant known as Spoodles.

Spoodles, which featured a menu of Mediterranean cuisine, had been a very popular dining location among Disney guests and many were disappointed to see it go. Cat Cora's Kouzzina, however, is very much in the same vein and strongly reflects Cora's Greek heritage. Cat Cora, who is probably best-known for her role on Food Network's "Iron Chef America," has created a restaurant which celebrates classic Greek and Mediterranean dishes as well as some of her own personal favorite recipes.

The name "Kouzzina" is actually the Greek word for kitchen and examples of Cora's Greek roots can be found throughout the restaurant in the décor and especially the menu, which even includes some of her own special cocktail recipes. Greek cuisine features very distinct combinations of flavors and ingredients that people of other cultures may not be accustomed and the result is that Kouzzina offers a dining experience, for both breakfast and dinner, that is truly unique among Disney restaurants.

Kouzzina at Disney's Boardwalk Resort

Atmosphere:

Kouzzina's atmosphere is simple, but elegant; it is at the same time upscale as well as warm and inviting. The restaurant's Mediterranean influences, as well as Cat Cora's Greek heritage, are evident as soon as you enter the restaurant, with the lobby area featuring a large wall mural depicting a map of the Mediterranean in addition to various black and white photographs of the Cora family.

Kouzzina at Disney's Boardwalk Resort

Kouzzina at Disney's Boardwalk Resort


The main dining area of the restaurant has a rustic Mediterranean feel with wood-plank flooring and dark wooden tables, chairs, and paneled walls.

Kouzzina at Disney's Boardwalk Resort

Kouzzina at Disney's Boardwalk Resort


Despite its dark, earthy colors, the restaurant actually has a very open feel. Contributing to this is the fact that the dining room is just one large, open space and features high, vaulted ceilings.

Kouzzina at Disney's Boardwalk Resort

The restaurant also has large windows that allow in plenty of natural light and add to the sense of openness.

Kouzzina at Disney's Boardwalk Resort

The overall décor is very plain and without a lot of decoration. The walls do feature some black and white photographs of the Greek coastline and small fishing villages, which are just enough of a touch to tie-in the restaurant's Mediterranean theme.

The real allure of Kouzzina atmosphere, however, is its open show-kitchen that really helps to make guests more a part of the dining experience and see their food being prepared before them. While some might find the hustle, bustle and noise of the kitchen to be distracting, I found it to be extremely interesting and thought it really added some energy and excitement to the restaurant (while there was not too much action in the kitchen during breakfast I was told that things are much more lively at dinner time).

Kouzzina at Disney's Boardwalk Resort

Kouzzina at Disney's Boardwalk Resort

While Kouzzina certainly offers a more refined setting, I still found the atmosphere to be very welcoming and relaxing. It is an atmosphere which is definitely conducive to a nice quiet meal for adults, but I would not shy away from bringing families with children here as well. In Greek culture, spending time with family is very important and Kouzzina is a restaurant that offers a comfortable setting for families to enjoy a meal together.

The Menu:

Kouzzina's menu offers a selection of breakfast dishes the likes of which cannot be found at any other dining location in Disney World. If you are a person with simple tastes, this may not be the best restaurant for you. However, if you are someone more daring, then Kouzzina is truly an adventure for the taste buds and one which offers plenty of new and interesting dishes to try. Not only does the menu feature some unconventional breakfast dishes, but it also takes some traditional favorites and presents them with a Greek twist.

Greek flavors and ingredients are found throughout the entire menu. One example of this is the Stacked Kouzzina Breakfast ($11.99), featuring two poached eggs, kalamata olive toast, artichoke spread, and sweet potato hash with a choice of bacon or chicken sausage. There is also the Spinach, Tomato, and Feta Scrambled Eggs ($11.99) that come served with breakfast potatoes and a choice of bacon or chicken sausage. Similar to this is the Vegetable Flatbread ($11.99) topped with scrambled eggs, roasted red peppers, spinach, and feta. Yet another interesting dish is the Turkey-Sweet Potato Hash ($12.49) with two eggs and arugula salad.

For those less adventurous eaters, Kouzzina also offers some more conventional options. There is a Ham and Cheese Omelet ($12.49) served with breakfast potatoes, Challah Bread French Toast ($10.49) with a choice of bacon or chicken sausage, Blueberry Orange Granola Pancakes ($10.49) with a choice of bacon or chicken sausage, and the American Two Eggs ($11.99), which comes with breakfast potatoes and a choice of bacon or chicken sausage.

For my breakfast I chose the Classic Golden Waffle ($10.49) which comes topped with whipped mascarpone cheese, honey, and chopped pecans and is served with a choice of bacon or chicken sausage. While the price may seem a little steep for waffles, the portion size is absolutely huge and I was not even able to finish it all. The waffles had a light, fluffy texture and were nice and thick. They were cooked perfectly to have a golden brown color and were just slightly crispy on the outside but still soft on the inside. The waffles actually tasted very similar to the Mickey waffles that are found at restaurants across property, but what made this breakfast really stand out were the waffle's toppings.

The waffles came accompanied by a generous portion of whipped marscapone cheese, which is similar to cream cheese but lighter, softer, and sweeter in taste. The sweetness of the marscapone proved to be the perfect compliment to the waffles; it was not even necessary to add any butter or syrup on top. The waffles also came drizzled with honey, just enough to provide a little added flavor and sweetness to the dish.

The waffles were then topped with a good-sized helping of pecans, which really helped to add some additional texture to the dish and provided a nice contrast to the softness waffles and the sweetness of the marscapone and honey. I thought the combination of marscapone, honey, and pecans blended together perfectly so that no one ingredient dominated the others and each served to enhance the flavor of the waffles rather than draw attention solely to themselves. While certainly a little on the sweet side, I did not find the overall sweetness of the dish to be overwhelming by any means.

Kouzzina at Disney's Boardwalk Resort

The waffles also were served with a side of chicken sausage, which I found to be relatively mild in flavor especially when compared with more common pork sausage. The sausage did have a little spiciness to it, adding just a little kick to the breakfast that provided a nice contrast to the sweetness of the waffles and their toppings.

As a side dish I really wanted to try the Sweet Potato Hash ($5.95) because it seemed like something unique; I had never seen anything like it on other breakfast menus before. The flavor of this dish really surprised me. I was expecting it to be a little on the sweet side, but the sweet potato came mixed with peppers and onions that gave it a little bit of a spicy flavor and proved to be a great contrast to the sweetness of the waffles. While the hash had a definite kick, I did not find it to be too spicy.

Kouzzina at Disney's Boardwalk Resort

The Sweet Potato Hash really helps exemplify breakfast at Kouzzina as a whole. It may not be your traditional type of breakfast, but it is a meal with plenty of flavor the likes of which you cannot find at any other breakfast location in Disney World.


Service:

One thing that Kouzzina prides itself on is that every meal is served fresh and is made to order. As a result, this may not be the best restaurant for you if you are looking for a quick bite to eat. That being said, I did not find the service to be slow, but rather the meal progressed at a very relaxing pace. Unlike many other breakfast restaurants that look to get tables turned-over quickly in order to seat as many people as possible, I did not feel rushed at all. Adding to this was the fact that the restaurant was nearly empty. This is a great way to start the morning if you are looking for a calm and quiet breakfast option, especially since many of the breakfast buffets and food courts can be crowded and a little noisy.

Because the restaurant was not very busy, my server was able to be very attentive to my needs and frequently checked in with me to make sure everything was to my liking. However, with a menu featuring so many unconventional selections, I would have liked it if the server took a little time to describe the menu offerings.

Dining on a Budget:

Kouzzina may not be the cheapest breakfast location in Disney World, but you get good value for your money in terms of both quality and quantity. The portion sizes are all very large and if you were to go to Kouzzina for breakfast you could actually save money by not needing to get anything for lunch. When compared with other breakfast options, Kouzzina is actually very affordable.

For example, the breakfast buffet at Crystal Palace costs $20.99 while the buffets at Cape May Café and Chef each cost $26.99. Even breakfast locations that do not have characters can be more expensive, such as the Boma breakfast buffet for $18.99. While comparing a restaurant with an al a carte menu to that with a buffet is like comparing apples with oranges, breakfast at Kouzzina offers less expensive selections without sacrificing anything in terms of quality.


The Overall Experience:

I was extremely pleased with my breakfast at Kouzzina and will definitely be going there again. The restaurant offers a real change from the typical breakfast foods that you find at so many other dining locations around Disney World. If you are the type of person that likes to try new and different foods, then Kouzzina is must-do because you will experience a breakfast the likes of which you have never had before.

Not only does Kouzzina present a breakfast with a Greek flair, but it does so with dishes that have an incredible amount of flavor and portion sizes that are very generous; this is a really high-quality breakfast and you certainly get what you pay for. Kouzzina offers an escape from the crowds and congestion of the resort food courts and the popular character breakfast buffets. It is a nice, relaxing way to start your day and get you energized before heading out into the parks.

Read what others have to say about Breakfast at Kouzzina!

One important note: Kouzzina by Cat Cora will close for refurbishment from Monday, Nov 29 - Tuesday, Dec 14, reopening to guests on Wednesday, Dec. 15. Enhancements are planned for many areas of the restaurant, including the lobby and the dining area.

The pizza window will remain open during the refurbishment.

While Kouzzina by Cat Cora is undergoing refurbishment, guests can enjoy an a la carte breakfast from 7:30am - 11am at The Flying Fish as well as regular dinner offerings at Disney's Boardwalk Resort.

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About November 2010

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

October 2010 is the previous archive.

December 2010 is the next archive.

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