Thursday, March 17, 2016

Magical Grand Adventure - Dining!

Disney paid for my family's trip to Walt Disney World® Resort. As always, all opinions are my own.

My family of sixteen recently enjoyed a five day, four night vacation to Walt Disney World® Resort. Eight of us were guests of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine and Walt Disney World® Resort as part of the Better Homes and Gardens Magazine "Making Memories Magical" contest promotion. Enter for your own chance to win a multi-generational family trip for eight! Contest details and links found here!

Dining at Walt Disney World® Resort!

We didn't show up at Walt Disney World® Resort just to eat, although I've heard that some people do exactly that. I'm not surprised. If there ever was a showcase of fabulous food to please practically every single taste at every single price point, it's right here! We discovered for ourselves that the wide range of prices and flavors has one consistent quality - delish! Here's a sampling of what we experienced......

Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park:

The Walt Disney World® Resort manages to infuse every one of its sites with heaping platters of atmosphere. Often, that extends to the area outside of the dining room, too. Like this one. While waiting for breakfast seating at the African flavored Tusker House Restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park, we admired ceremonial masks and had fun choosing our favorites. I liked that silver one next to Nick's head!

Step inside to the warm embrace of feasting! - this rich marketplace visual, and an equally amazing culinary one both greet you! Tusker House serves buffet style dining all day long. Classic items that kids will enjoy join a large selection of African specialties. Characters dressed for safari mingle about; it's a lively, exotic experience! We loved it!

 "Where does Walt Disney World® Resort find all this cool stuff?" In this case, I know the answer: Mexico! Permanently parked along the lush path that winds though the Asian area of Disney's Animal Kingdom®Theme Park is the Anandapur Ice Cream Truck. If ever a picture spoke a thousand words, I wouldn't have to make another peep!....but I will!....

"Step right up for tasty frozen treat
window service!"

When we were hungry for lunch, Restaurantosaurus beckoned us! Oh, it was as busy as a manic bee hive when we arrived at peak lunch hour, but tables to snatch and hold opened up continually. Mommy and daddy lined up to order our food - simple and good - fries, burgers, and apple slices served in cute sand pails. Not one of us had to be coerced to "shovel it in!"

Every vacationing Mouseketeer appreciates dining that's easily accessible. Guests of Disney's Beach Club Villas enjoy a bounty of that convenience. Let's start with what's right under our ears and move outward from there!

Disney's Beach Club Villas:

Two casual, family friendly eateries anchor the main lobby of the Villas. (Isn't she a beauty? Just couldn't stop taking pictures of her, inside and out - morning, noon and night! :) ) We frequented Beach Club Marketplace during our stay for quick sandwiches, early morning coffee, and the mini Disney merchandise shopping area. Time didn't allow us to poke into Cape May Cafe, but character buffet breakfast dining is featured - something you'd normally have to leave the building to enjoy. Next time, for sure!

Disney's BoardWalk entertainment district:

I've mentioned in a previous post that this lodging location is in the "backyard" of both Epcot® and Disney's BoardWalk entertainment district. That means a brisk few moments walk delivers you back in time to the BoardWalk Bakery. I recommend sending your son-in-law for take-out breakfast croissants if in-room morning dining is your pleasure. Worked for us! Scrumptious! - and a great time-saver!

My favorite Walt Disney World® Resort-dinner-to-remember will always be Italian. At Disney's BoardWalk entertainment district. At Trattoria al Forno. Best food. Best wine. Best company! (You know who you are!:)) Step right in! "Be our guest!"

Meet our handsome, talented and attentive chef!

My grandsons were fascinated with the open kitchen and the flaming pizza oven.

Since I've been home, I've read independent reviews of this restaurant; plenty of people think it offers the best, most authentic food of any Walt Disney World® Resort restaurant! I was also impressed with the generous portions.

Use your My Disney Experience app to view complete menus for all restaurants and make reservations.

Indulge in an authentic Italian appetizer platter at Trattoria al Forno!
Cheeses! Breads! Olives! Prosciutto! Calamari!

Mussels, too! This is a delicacy I'd not tasted before. I'm a fan for life now!

Epcot®! So many delicious countries, such limited digesting capacity! Nonetheless, our best, most relaxed moments were those spent together in enjoyment of ethnic food. And Walt Disney World® Resort does think of everything! No matter the cultural theme, there is always a "kid section" on the menu or in the buffet line. And that includes the Biergarten Restaurant.

It might as well be Oktober! Here's a beautiful slice of Germany outside the restaurant, under the watchful gaze of Spaceship Earth® attraction.

The Biergarten Restaurant offers a sumptuous buffet of authentic German food coupled with towering mugs of beer. Multiple offerings, specializing in sausages and potatoes, with sides of sauerkraut and marinated veggies.

And, when it's time for dessert, the cheesecake is out of this world!

Entertainment! Authentic and lively. This is where grandchildren will enjoy a sense of the world outside of their own. Next time, I'm sure we'll opt to sample another culture, but this festive visit will always remain special to us.

Magic Kingdom® Park:

Table for sixteen? We managed to do it! The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom® Park is a wonderland of beauty, great food, and characters hailing from the Hundred-Acre Wood. This evening simply warmed my heart. Characters table hop, hug, and lead a kid parade. The dining is buffet style and it's delicious!

Here's Kaylee taking a break from pursuing cuddly characters. Food choices for kids are healthy and appealing.

The Crystal Palace serves three meals each day, but an evening dinner reservation assures you of quick access to the best fireworks watching location once you've eaten!

I'd recommend one elegant dining experience per park to create the best multi-generational family memories. Reserve in advance on My Disney Experience!

We found day time Magic Kingdom® Park attractions so involving and exciting that eating just wasn't a priority! If that's the case with you too, quick counter service works well, although we would have benefited from the oft-given advice to avoid rush hours! The places we chose for lunch were crazy-busy at noon, but proved yet another reason to travel with grandma and grandpa. We served as table-spotters, taking the kids with us to make the wait in line more tolerable for mommy and daddy. When lunch finally arrived, kids were relaxed and happy, ready for the serious business of eating!

I didn't find this out until I returned home and read reviews, but Columbia Harbour House is an acclaimed venue for its seafood focused menu, including the lobster rolls we ordered! Delicious! Generously sized and reasonably priced, chips included!

Here's another choice for quick stop refueling - The Friar's Nook. Hot dogs, mac and cheese in several flavors - pot roast and barbecue among them - and more!

Disney's Hollywood Studios®:

Disney Junior Play n Dine is a lively spot, appropriately named. It was our last stop on the final day of our vacation. I secretly wondered if the kids would be "character-weary" by then, but they proved me wrong. Lots of hugs remained for Handy Manny, Doc McStuffins, Sophia the First and Jake and the Neverland Pirates in between bites from a healthy and satisfying buffet that pleased both adults and kids.

Below: Can you guess who'd just visited Disney's Hollywood Studios® gift shops before lunch?

Just had to include a final farewell to "Gertie" even though we didn't partake of her "Ice Cream of Extinction." Next time, for sure!

Bloggers and others who give travel advice often suggest packing portable snacks for kids. I agree with them. Even if you're not visiting Walt Disney World® Resort on a budget, it makes sense. I stuffed the corners of my suitcase with cheese cracker packs as my own contribution. My daughters did more. In the days before departure, texts and emails flew between us at a furious pace. What were we bringing? How much of it? How would we transport it all? It seemed a wise choice to bring peanut butter and a loaf of bread. "Bread?" read one text, "It'll get squished!" 

We pondered that dilemma until Christy's husband stepped up. "Just put the loaf in a shoe box!" Ahhhh! We breathed a sigh of deep relief. "Shoe Box Bread" was born that day, courtesy of my innovative son-in-law, Keenon. And you can be sure that he is, to this day, hailed as our family hero, the well admired inventor of "Shoe Box Bread!"

One more reminder! Be sure to enter the Better Homes and Gardens Magazine "Making Memories Magical" contest for a chance to win a multi-generational family trip for eight to Walt Disney World® Resort! Links and details right here!

Continue reading for more! "Magical Grand Adventure - Entertainment!" is right here!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Better Homes and Gardens and Walt Disney World® Resort. 


  1. A dream come true, shows on their faces.

  2. Another great post on your trip! I am sure all the food was delicious. Cute shots of your grandchildren and family. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day!

  3. Forget that shoe box have me craving pizza now ! :) The kids are adorable ; my favorite pic is little Kaylee gazing at her dish of scrumptious food! : )

  4. My gosh, how did you decide whether to eat your way through the park or ride your way through. Wow - everything looks delish. I'm starving, and I may be resorting to bread and sunbutter though because I don't have anything that exotic available. Great post.

  5. I'm just overwhelmed with the fabulosity of it all (like my new word?). What fun memories for the kids - and grandma and grandpa too. All that food made me hungry - but I have none of those yummy food at hand - drat. Can't wait to see what you did next - such fun!!!!

  6. It seems like your grandchildren have a great deal of fun with you. What an exciting childhood they're leading.

  7. Sounds like a dream vacation, with so many family members gathered together for what seems like quite an adventure! Love your photos!

  8. One of my favorite places in the world! It really is MAGICAL, isn't it? I hope I can go there again someday... especially if I can go with my little nephew!

  9. What a fun adventure -- good thing you had to do a lot of walking so you could burn off all that yummy food!

  10. Oh WOW! How awesome! And so grand to enjoy it with your family! It definitely looks quite delightful. My kids are toying with Disneyland - with a bit of discussion of Disneyland vs Disneyworld. I'll have to tell them about this. Thank you for such an interesting review and delicious visit :)


  11. How fun! We are 4 hours from Disneyland but, never get there enough. I'd love to go to Disneyworld. Happy you all had this great experience. Thanks for sharing at the Inspiration Spotlight party!

  12. That's amazing your vacation was paid for!! So happy you all were able to enjoy family time! Thanks for sharing your link at the #HomeMattersParty !