The Rising Spoon: Top Foodie Experiences at Disney World From a First-Timer

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Top Foodie Experiences at Disney World From a First-Timer

Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom at night. :)
When I arrived home this past Friday evening after a week-long stay at Disney World, I figure it'd be helpful to future visitors if I wrote about my top eating experiences. I could go on and on about the awesome attractions, but this is primarily a food blog, so I'm trying to stick to the theme. (If you'd like my feedback on all other things Disney, send me an email.)

If you're a first-timer, like I was, I know my foodie feedback will be helpful. Know why? There's food practically everywhere in stands, cafes and restaurants throughout the four Disney World parks, the plethora of resorts and attaching Disney areas. That's a lot of places to choose from. Food stands are most prevalent, followed by cafes, but while there are a fair number of restaurants, they are often pre-booked or have very long waits. I HIGHLY recommend pre-booking at least a few restaurant reservations, as most of the food stands serve only expensive junk food. If you're going to spend money, at least do it on quality meals or snacks! 

Oh, and just to give you fair warning, I took all these photographs with my cell phone and often in a rush, so don't expect stellar quality (not that my photos normally are, cause I'm often too lazy to spend time on lighting, etc.). I was trying to spend more time observing my surroundings first hand rather than squinting through an actual camera to capture the perfect picture. Hence why I didn't snap shots of everything I ate.

Without further adieu...

My Eight Favorite Foodie Experiences at Disney World:

1) Lunch at Cinderella's Castle in The Magic Kingdom. I had a mixed greens salad to start, followed by Major Domos Short Rib, described on the menu as "slow-cooked in a Pinot Noir Demi-glace" with "potato and parsnip puree" and carrots. This was hands down the BEST meal I ate during the trip, mostly due to the short rib. It was super tender, practically melted in my mouth and the sauce (pinot noir demi-glace) was extremely flavorful and savory. For dessert, I chose the key-lime cheesecake with a graham cracker crust. Key-lime pie is one of my favorites, so I couldn't resist. It was amazing! 
Short Rib with Potato & Parsnip Puree and Carrots. Yum.Yum.Yum.
For dessert, I chose the key-lime cheesecake with a graham cracker crust. Key-lime pie is one of my favorites, so I couldn't resist. It didn't disappoint. 
Key-lime cheesecake

During the meal, several Disney princesses walked around, signed autographs, took pics and chatted with tables. The waitresses handed out toy wands to the girls ("princesses") and toy swords to the boys ("princes"). Even as an adult, I still had fun. It was pretty thrilling to go inside the gynormous castle at the center of Disney World. However, you MUST have a reservation to eat here. I should also mention that the meal includes a picture with Cinderella, which you take when you first walk into the castle. The dining area is on the second floor. 

2Lunch at 50's Prime-Time Cafe in Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM). You should eat at this place simply for the experience. The interior is like walking into a family kitchen from the 50s! Everything from the chairs, tables, decorations, etc. are 50s themed, and there are old fashioned televisions set up everywhere playing black and white shows. The server refers to herself as "mom" and urges the "kids" (customers) to keep their elbows off the table and eat all their vegetables. I ordered the Fried Chicken platter, which came with mashed potatoes and sauteed greens with bacon and onion. Oh my gosh, the chicken was FANTASTIC. Not only was it extra crispy (how I like it), but it was well seasoned. Because the interior design was so believable, we spent most of the lunch listening to my boyfriend's parents tell stories about when they were children and what it was like growing up before and during an era of technology and gadgetry boom. It was one of the most fun food experiences I had at Disney World. 
Boy was this fried chicken good. Loved that they served it with greens, too.

3) Lunch at Tangierine Cafe in the Morocco section of Epcot's World Showcase. My boyfriend and I were starving after walking around all morning (Epcot is a huge park) so we picked this place at random. I ordered a chicken wrap, which was basically an gyro. The chicken was well seasoned, topped with veggies and had plenty of sauce (a creamy sauce similar to tzatziki) plus a fresh, chewy pita wrap. I'm used to ordering gyros a la carte, so I was surprised when it came with a side of cous cous & lentils. Both were amazing! I gobbled them up. This is a great place for a fresh, healthy meal that will keep you full for hours and won't bog you down. 

4) Lunch at Rose & Crown Pub in the England section of Epcot's World Showcase. We ate outside, since it was warm that afternoon, but slipped inside to scope out the decorations. The walls, tables and chairs were made of dark wood and what seemed like hand painted porcelain plates decorated the walls. Our server was a cheery gal from Scotland. I love that all the countries in Epcot's World Showcase are staffed by people who are originally from or have lived in that country! It makes it feel so much more authentic. Needless to say, I enjoyed listening to the employees speak with their accents. 

For lunch, I ordered the house specialty, which is fish & chips. To my delight, instead of 3-4 small pieces of fried fish, I received one large piece. They'd fried the whole filet! First time I've ever seen it that way. Since I was on vacation, I drank a pint of half and half (Harp with Guinness floating on top) with my meal. Day drinking is mandatory. :) I should also mention that our table started with a delicious cheese platter as an appetizer and my boyfriend's father ate the cottage pie for his entree, which he raved about. In other words...eat at this pub/restaurant! Don't pass it up. 

5) For dinner one night, my boyfriend and I decided last minute not to go back to the resort and instead got off at Disney's Board Walk area. We hobbled around (our legs and feet really hurt from walking) looking at the menus posted out front of the establishments until I came upon a greek restaurant, Kouzzina by Cat Cora. I instantly recognized the iron chef's name, squealed, then promptly informed my boyfriend we were eating here. Luckily it was late on a tuesday night, so we were able to get a table without a reservation. 

The interior is inviting, with slightly dim lighting and a large, open dining room where you can view the kitchen. My boyfriend and I both ordered a greek beer (a lager I believe), then started with goat cheese sto foumo, which was a baked goat cheese dip with artichokes, olives, peppers and olive oil. Goat cheese is one of my favorite things, so I loved it. The server brought out fresh bread, kalamata olives and two olive oils (both from a different region) for dipping. He recommended the lamb shank, but I was lured into trying the Kouzzina Trio because it had samplings of three different menu items. In hindsight, I probably would have ordered the lamb shank since my boyfriend and I got the same thing. 
Goat cheese appetizer with the olives & olive oil on the left. 

The trio came with a cinnamon stewed chicken served over herbed orzo, a greek lasagna (Pastitsio) with "pasta, cinnamon stewed meat-sauce and greek cheese bechamel", and a "char-grilled lamb burger". The chicken and lasagna had noticeable amounts of cinnamon, which I enjoyed, since I never I almost never add cinnamon to my savory dishes. I was really excited for the burger since I like lamb and don't eat it often, but it was a bit overcooked. The lasagna was my favorite, by far. It was so good that I closed my eyes after taking the first and second bite. It's an ultimate comfort food, for sure. 
Sorry this picture is so grainy and yellow. This is after I tried to fix it in PS. It came out extremely dark. Oh well!

Even though I was extremely full, I could not pass up ordering baklava with toffee gelato for dessert (love it) along with a shot of ouzo for each of us. OPA! (The staff and customers yelled that phrase a few times during dinner whenever someone dropped something loudly in the restaurant.) Overall, it was a fantastic dining experience (our server, Sayid, was excellent), the food was great and the prices were reasonable. Actually, the meal cost less than most restaurants at Disney World.

6) For a late afternoon snack, we stopped at a gelato stand in the Italy section of Epcot's World Showcase. The staff was italian, of course, but spoke perfect English and were quite charming! I ordered my boyfriend a beer and for myself a double-dipped cone with strawberry and chocolate gelato, plus a double espresso on the side. The strawberry was DELICIOUS and the chocolate was equally good, but intense. You have to like chocolate to enjoy it! If you've never had espresso with ice cream or gelato before...you're missing out on one of life's greatest small pleasures.  

7) Our first night at Disney World, after returning back to The Yacht Club from The Magic Kingdom, we stopped at a little nook on the first floor: The Ale & Compass lounge. I was salivating over the handmade cocktails that had all natural ingredients and settled on a Maker's Mark Strawberry Julep (so good...I'm missing it right now), while my boyfriend ordered the Jameson Whiskey Sour (equally good) with a side of the truffle fries
Maker's Mark Strawberry Julep. My current favorite cocktail. <3
Holy foodgasm! Those fries are incredible!!! I could eat them every night. Replicating that recipe at home is definitely on my to do list. If you have access to The Yacht Club or Beach Club resort you must stop here. 
Ahhhmazing truffle fries with an empty glass that was the Jameson Whiskey Sour.

8) Last but not least, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant at Hollywood Studios. Another unique experience likened to 50's Prime-Time Cafe, the Sci-Fi dining area is a large, dim room with tables designed like old fashioned cars (you literally sit in the cars) all facing a huge screen that plays old, black and white, campy sci-fi commercials, trailers, etc. The atmosphere mimics old drive-in theaters from back in the day! I loved it! 

Since we showed up here (with a reservation) the same afternoon that we ate at Prime-Time, we were pretty full so only had room for an appetizer and drinks. We both ordered cocktails, which were huge, strong (no complaints here) and had a glowing cube positioned at the bottom of the glass that changed colors every few seconds. 
The Magical Star Cocktail
My first drink was the Magical Star Cocktail (average sized drink pictured above) and second was The Comet (much larger drink), while my boyfriend had a gigantic blue margarita called Space Invaders. For food, we ate the onion rings, which were decent but nothing to write home about. The drinks and atmosphere definitely made up for it, though. This is a unique experience you should not miss! Great by yourself, with the whole family or even with a significant other. 
The Comet cocktail
Now that the list is complete, I wanted to confess that I did have a few less than satisfactory food experiences, but I think it would be unfair for me to write about them here since it was my first time at Disney World. Food reviewers generally eat at restaurants at least two times before writing their articles, right? However, if you'd like to know my honest opinion on these establishments, send me a quick e-mail, DM on twitter, or leave a comment on my facebook page

Oh, and if you're wondering why there are no food joints from The Animal Kingdom listed, it's not for lack of quality. My boyfriend and I only spent half a day there (in the morning), so all we ate was an order of fries and a beer before lunchtime. 

And I certainly can't finish this post without giving a bit of attention to the attractions. For your viewing pleasure, here's a photograph of one of my favorite rides: The Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios.
Tower of Terror. Isn't the outside FANTASTIC! It looks like a real hotel. The detail is unbelievable.
It's extremely difficult to say what attractions or parks were my favorite because Disney World is literally SO HUGE that you can go there multiple times a not experience everything. Despite this, I focused on the attractions that either put a shit-eating-grin on my face, made me nostalgic for childhood or wowed me with the sheer attention-to-detail. 

Magical Kingdom
Favorite Attraction: The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (major nostalgia here)
Runner Up: The Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Pirates of the Caribbean, Astro Orbiter (especially at night)
Most Underappreciated Attraction: Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover (especially at night)
Most Overrated Attraction: Space Mountain

Epcot
Favorite Attraction: Spaceship Earth
Runner Up: Living with the Land, Universe of Energy
Most Underappreciated Attraction: Journey Into Imagination With Figment
Most Overrated Attraction: Test Track, Mission Space

Hollywood Studios
Favorite Attraction: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Runner Up: Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Star Tours, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
Most Underappreciated Attraction: The Great Movie Ride
Most Overrated Attraction: Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Animal Kingdom
Favorite Attraction: Kilimanjaro Safaris
Runner Up: Expedition Everest, Dinosaur 
Most Underappreciated Attraction: Maharajah Jungle Trek
Most Overrated Attraction: Festival of the Lion King (it was still good though...the second half is much better)

And at the end of my week-long stay, I even managed to spend half a day at Universal Studios so I could visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Dream come true, let me tell you. I posted a butterbeer picture on my facebook, so check it out there. :)

Until next time,
Elaina

Question for Discussion: Ever been to Disney World? Never been? 

Discuss your favorites experiences, impressions or future plans in the comments section below. I'd love to hear from you!

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I ONLY recommend helpful products that I myself would use. And I'm really picky about what I share with you guys. Because I myself am super choosy about what I buy and consume. Recommending products that I love or want to own helps me cover the costs of running this blog and keep providing you with free, helpful information. And it costs nothing extra for you. Thanks! 

About Elaina Newton
Elaina is the creator, writer, and foodie behind the blog, The Rising Spoon. She's a self-taught cook and passionate about spreading basic cooking skills and information about real foods. She loves reading fiction, crafting, video games, dark roast coffee, cats, and rainy days. Connect with her on Pinterest, Facebook, Google +, and Twitter.

2 comments:

  1. Love your feedback!!Thank you for sharing!!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Alex! I know you've been before. I'd love to hear what your favorites are sometime.

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