Akershus Lunch Review

Recommended:  No for the food.  Yes to see the Princesses in one swoop.

Located in Norway, but surprisingly void of Anna and Elsa, I’m torn on whether or not to recommend Akershus, which is the only character meal available in the EPCOT World Showcase.

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If you are looking to collect a lot of princess autographs quickly, this would be the way to go.  A number of princesses, like Snow White and Belle, are not available for very hospitable hours.  Usually, you have to already know where they’ll be and line up a half an hour before they arrive to get your photo and autograph.  Typically, once the princess arrives to her outdoor station, the line to meet her has already been cut off.  Then, if it rains, the character doesn’t come out at all.  So, when thinking of Arkerhus in those terms, it is an easy way to meet five princesses in one shot.

They say the line up can change any time, but these are the princesses that we saw:

Belle meets you as you enter the restaurant.
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Then you’ll see Cinderella,
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Followed closely by Aurora,
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next is Ariel (in a green dress that she NEVER wears in any of the films – my daughter thought she was Merida because of that),
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and last is Snow White.
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Snow White only hangs around in EPCOT these days, and she is one of those weather-permitting princesses.  We’ve had trouble getting to her in the past, which is what brought us to Akershus in the first place.

However, be warned that there are NO Photo Pass photographers once you get to your table, so you will be on your own there.  There are also a lot of tables crammed into a little bit of building (Akershus was clearly built before Disney World saw the volume of tourist that is does today), so getting great pictures that show off the princesses beautiful dresses will not be a likely possibility.

We also felt very rushed with the time the princesses gave our table.  Much like Chef Mickey’s, we got about 2 minutes per princess in.  It was, hello, hugs, autograph, pose for photos, and goodbye.  They keep these characters on too tight of a schedule, it would be nice if the kids could have a few more sentences with each one and create a stronger memory of the event (like my daughter training squirrels with Rapunzel or teaching yoga to Merida).

The princesses also do a gathering/parade for all the little ones who want to join in.  That seems to happen at every character meal, and it’s always a cute touch.
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The Akershus building is magnificently beautiful.  It feels like an Old World castle that has been refurbished by a modern owner.  As you can see in the photograph above, the walls are stone, and put together in an uneven, ancient architecture type of style (something like Merida’s castle, I suppose).

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The artwork on the walls ranged from tapestry and flags to very somber paintings.

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And even the roof was magnificent.  My daughter said it looked like Elsa’s snowflake.  While the waiter denied any resemblance, I’d be surprised if the designers of Frozen didn’t find some inspiration in this building.
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The food is where the experience gets iffy for me.  Norwegian food is weird, if not gross.  At Akershus, there is a set price, and that include the salad bar, an entree, and a plate of three Norwegian desserts for the table.  Here’s a not-too-great picture of the Oven Roasted Chicken Breast.

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It came with potato dumpling and Brussels sprouts, but they had been cooked (boiled?) until they tasted the same with the same bland texture.  Definitely not my favorite meal from Disney, although my father highly recommended the meatballs.

The dessert portion of the meal was interesting.  They brought out two sets of the desserts, which included a piece of Apple Cake (not my cup of tea, personally), Chocolate Mousse (amazing, actually), and Rice Cream (no, not Ice Cream, a tapioca kind of warm, solid, goop – not a fan!).  Having two sets of desserts for five people, and only one of those desserts being any good, essentially leads to a fight over the Chocolate Mousse.  That is worth the fight, fork your children if you have to so that you can try a piece!  haha.  But, really, it would have been nice if everyone has a smaller sized sampler plate than making everyone share.  I actually missed out on the photo opp here, but I found a picture from DisneyFoodBlog.com to share.

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I also didn’t appreciate that we were a party of 5, we had made reservations months in advance, and we were crammed into a table for four.  There was not enough room for plates, the kids had to climb over people to get to the princesses, and the room we were in (the rounded room in the castle tower portion) was already a tight enough space without putting someone on the end like a baby in a high chair.  That was very poor dining management from whomever decided to seat us there…

So, if you’re looking for a good place to eat, skip Akerhus, there is much better places in the World Showcase.  If you’re looking for a guaranteed slew of princesses, this is your best bet in EPCOT.  It just depends on what you’re looking for.

The Crystal Palace – Lunch Review

Recommended:  Yes to meet Eeyore and Piglet.  Toss up to go for the food alone.

I’m not sure what The Crystal Palace was originally designed to be, but I think the Winnie the Pooh character meal was not their initial intent.  This is a beautiful building, very closely resembling the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.  But, somehow, throwing Pooh and his friends in the mix does not hurt the charm of the place at all.  In fact, while it doesn’t seem to fit together theme wise (I know Pooh is a British story), the old and new elements work well together and make the place very fun and lively!

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I have to say that I really, really loved the entry presentation.  The main Pooh cast done in flowers!cp10

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While you dine, your buddies from the Hundred Acre Wood will come to your table.

You’ll see Tigger,cp2

Pooh (my husband’s favorite),cp5

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and Piglet.
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Other than during the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, I have not seen Eeyore or Piglet available anywhere else in Disney World.

Now, the downside to a character meal/buffet is that you’re getting up and down, and you may not be able to see the characters coming before they hit – or miss – your table!  Tigger, especially, seems to carve out his own walking path, and we ended up missing him at first.  The waitress asked his handler to get him to stop by again before he left for the other side of the dining hall, but Tigger was Tigger and didn’t listen!  It was over an hour before we were finally able to catch him again, and this was after even a manager asked him to come back.  >.<  So, keep your eyes open, and be prepared to pounce if you see a character walking away from your table!

This was also the anniversary celebration meal for my husband and myself, so we got a little extra gift!  Apparently, it was supposed to be a photo of the Pooh gang, but those ran out.  I still like this one all the same, though!cp7

To get to the food, as I mentioned before, it is a buffet.  The options are pretty random, stretching from salads and traditional carved meats to samples of Indian and Mexican food.  A number of standard desserts were available.  Nothing was really bad, but nothing was really amazing either.  It reminded me of a smaller scale Golden Corral.

Honestly, though, if you have a party of two adults and two children under 10, you are looking at roughly $80 for any sit down meal that you have, before the tip.  At The Crystal Palace, we paid just around the $100 mark before the tip, and that included time with the characters and any beverage that we wanted, so it’s not an awful deal for Disney prices.  For the extra $20, I prefer to get the character experience and let the kids meet the hard-to-find guys.  So, even though the food wasn’t stellar, considering any other sit down lunch would have cost the same, I’m not dissatisfied with what we got.

San Angel Inn Restaurante Review

Recommended:  Toss up.

I came very, very close to cancelling our reservation at San Angel after hearing a number of bad reviews.  By a number, I mean that I posted a question about the restaurant and over a hundred people responded with their bad experiences, and only a few listed positive ones.  With that in mind, I had very low expectations when entering the restaurant.

Just to be clear, there are several restaurants named San Angel in the Mexico section of the World Showcase in EPCOT.  The one I am reviewing is the place inside the Mayan temple, the other two are La Hacienda de San Angel and La Cantina de San Angel.

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Like most other guests, I highly recommend sitting next to the water.  It’s very cool to watch the boats go by for the ride in Mexico.  Now, the place can be packed, so the only way to guarantee that you can sit by the water will be to book a reservation for as soon as the restaurant opens, and check in about 15 minutes early (as recommended).  We did that, we were the first ones to check in, and even though we didn’t get seated first, we did get an awesome table with a beautiful view of the water.

Now, there are three major complaints that I heard about San Angel Inn – it’s too dark, the tables are too small/tight, and the portion sizes are way too small for the price.  I tend to agree with all three of these points.  Most of my photos are blurry from a severe lack of light, and the small lanterns at the table just aren’t enough.

As is the case with most Mexican restaurants, you get complimentary chips at the table.  They come with an interesting green dip and a very, very watered down tomato based salsa.  I like my salsa chunky and fresh, and, in this area, I wasn’t too impressed.

I had the Pollo a las Rajas, which was grilled chicken breast served with red peppers & onion cream sauce, poblano rice, and queso fresco.  I didnt really stop and think that poblano rice was not the usual, brown/red rice that comes with most Mexican dishes, and it seemed like some of my rice was not fully cooked.  But, the meal got better with every bite, so I was not disappointed.  Although, considering how cheap foods like rice are, it would have been nice if they at least were overly-generous with that part.  There really wasn’t much side at all considering that it was $19.50 and a $9 plate at a local Mexican restaurant outside of the park would have been double the food.
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My husband asked the waiter for a recommendation, and ended up getting the Tacos de Carne – which he is still obsessively raving about to this day.  To quote the menu, it is grilled New York strip on flour tortillas, topped with chipotle pepper sauce, scallions and avocado.  He couldn’t get over how amazing the avocado made it.  Although, he was very sad that the three tacos are very, very small for the $21 price.  The photo below is not of a very large plate, and the tortillas were the smallest size I’ve ever seen (roughly half the size of Chipotle tortillas, if that helps as a sizing reference).  Just like with Be Our Guest, he left the meal still hungry.
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My daughter was very happy to find Cheese Quesadillas on the menu.  Those are her safety Mexican food that won’t “spice my tongue,” as she puts it.  Again, though, there wasn’t a lot on the plate for $8.50.

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Finally, my son had the kids Grilled Chicken with Rice.  Oddly enough, he got more rice than my husband and I combined.  His was probably the best value in terms of quality, price, and size of the meal at $9.50.
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So, I will say that it’s a toss up as to whether I would recommend San Angel Inn.  The food was definitely good, but there just wasn’t a lot of it offered, the prices are very high considering the amount of food you get, and it is dark with cramped tables.  Apologies again for the blurry images, that’s a side effect of the advance darkness.  But, overall, I’m glad to have went, but I don’t think that I’d book it a second time.

Be Our Guest FastPass Lunch Ends in February

Like all good things, the FastPass lunch at Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom is coming to an end.

According to http://www.beourguestlunch.disney.go, the official website for booking Be Our Guest for lunch (only available if you have a resort reservation), the FastPass testing period will end on February 24, 2015.

However, there is some good news here too!  The website says that on February 25th you can find more information on Be Our Guest lunches at MyDisneyExperience.com.

While that is a little vague, it likely will mean one of three things.  Either, 1) anyone (even non-resort guests) will be able to book Be Our Guest for lunch, 2) Be Our Guest will be a non-reservation dining venue, like all of the other quick service restaurants in Disney World, or 3) Be Our Guest will not be a quick service option for lunch any longer, and they will have a sit down menu like they do for dinner hours.

I have to admit, Disney has done this “test” for lunch Fast Passes for a few years now, so I’m curious what their final decision will be here.  But, no matter what they do for lunch, as long as they keep the restaurant open, it will give more guests an opportunity to experience this beautifully detailed venue.

None of this should change Be Our Guest for dinner time, which has always been a sit down/reservation location.

Be Our Guest – Dinner Review

Recommended:  Yes – Dinner was MUCH better than lunch.

I do not have a high opinion of Be Our Guest for lunch, as the food we received in October was bad/stale and the whole experience was an over-priced “blah.”  But, for the sake of trying to figure out the hype of Be Our Guest, my family and I scored a last minute dinner reservation and decided to give it a try.
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Despite the desolate look in my photo, it was actually very crowded.  We had a 6:30pm reservation, checked in fifteen minutes early, and it was after 7 before we finally had a table.  You will check in before crossing the bridge, then be given a rose that is actually a buzzer that will let you know when they are ready to seat you.  Unfortunately, you can’t go very far, or the buzzer won’t work, so you need to wait on the bridge, even if it’s cold or raining.

Once you get buzzed to enter the gate, you have a few minutes to take some photos and wait for your host to seat you.  One member of your party will get to hold a cousin of Lumiere, and the doors for the castle will open automatically for you.

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Now, I will recommend that your little lady dresses as Belle, if she can, and I’ll tell you why later on. 🙂

We were seated in the West Wing, which I was nervous about.  We ate in the main ballroom in October and popped over to view the West Wing, and it was so dark and so many people were flashing camera lights – I thought it would be a horrific area to eat in.  But, after waiting more than 45 minutes, I wasn’t going to risk making a fuss and waiting longer.  Much to my surprise, when you are seated at a table, the flashes are not so bad and your table has its own lighting so that you can see very well.

The decor in that room is very lovely, with the main features being the prince’s photo (which flips over to the Beast’s image when lightning strikes) and the enchanted rose.
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And our plates were decorated with rose napki-gori (napkin origami!):
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The food was a little slow coming out of the kitchen, but we had bread to keep us company.  This is a french restaurant, which means the food is probably unusual for a lot of people.  The kids menu seems to be more accommodating towards picky eaters, but, to err on the safe side, my daughter just ordered a fruit side dish and a cupcake.  The fruit dish was mostly green and orange melon, so she wasn’t thrilled with it.

My husband ordered the Ratatouille, which is a vegetarian meal.  My husband is a pretty big guy, and for the price of the meal, he felt like there wasn’t much food to be had.  It was good, but too small for the price.  The Ratatouille does not include any side dishes, so what you see here is all you get for, I believe, $18.
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I ordered the chicken.  I won’t try to use the name listed on the menu, but I think it was the only adult chicken dish listed.  The flavor on the chicken was divine.  Whatever they cooked into the skin was just wonderful, and that green sauce was scrumptious (I am not a foodie, I had no idea what it was, haha!), even though the chicken itself was on the dry side.  It came with a mix of spinach, potatoes, and other vegetables.  Overall, I left happy with my meal and would definitely recommend the chicken.
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My oldest ordered the mac and cheese with a side of broccoli (his call, I believe you may substitute it).  He finished every bite with no complaints and no “ick” faces, like he had at lunch.
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Both of my kids had desserts, with my son having the Master’s Cupcake and my daughter having the Strawberry one.  Unlike our lunch experience, where the bread was extremely dried out and stale, as if it had sat in a refrigerator overnight, the dinner desserts were perfect.  Moist cake and creamy icing.  Although, the cupcakes are still very small for a price tag at over $4 per item.  Unfortunately, I seem to have lost my photo for this, I will try to find it and insert it in at a later time.

Also, since it was my daughter and husband’s birthday trip, and they had on their buttons, the waiter brought out a dapple of The Grey Stuff with a lighted candle for the birthday people.
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They also recieved birthday cards with autographs from Belle and the Beast (fyi, the Beast is a character who cannot sign autograph books, because “Belle is still teaching him how to write,” so this is the ONLY way to get his autograph at Disney World!).
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In addition to that, Be Our Guest during dinner time is the only place to meat the Beast in person, which you can wait in line to do after you’ve finished your meal and are ready to leave.  The Beast hangs out in his library, which is on the left side, before the cash registers/bathroom, as you walk out.
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And the reason that you want your little one dressed as Belle is because the Beast will dance with her!  I didn’t know about this, and didn’t expect it, but as soon as my daughter stepped out for her turn, the Beast got excited, bowed, and they danced!
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Overall, the interior of Be Our Guest is amazing, and the food is very tasty.  However, after the tip, we left there with a $76 bill, which is very high for my husband to leave still hungry.  It would not have been much more money to be at a Disney buffet once all was said and done.  If you have young ones who love Beauty and the Beast, it is a worthwhile meal to let them experience the surroundings, and to meet the Beast.  Be cautious with your food orders though, and be sure to ask questions, if you have any doubts, about what a meal will come with.  Just based on our October lunch experience, I would also ask how fresh the desserts are before ordering as well.  But, when considering the crowds, wait times, and food, I don’t think this is a dinner experience that I need to repeatedly have.

Nine Dragons Review

Recommended:  No.

Inside of EPCOT’s China, there is a beautiful sit down restaurant called Nine Dragons.

The portion sizes at Nine Dragons are quite large on entrees, but the food is heavy and more than any normal person could eat at lunch, which means that you’ll end up throwing a lot of food away (unless you’re headed back to the hotel after).

I personally ordered an appetizer, which would have been the perfect sized meal with a side of rice.  It was a special menu item, I believe it was called “Spicy Pork Bao,” and it was decent, but very overpriced for the size of two small sandwich-type items.
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My kids were torn on this venue.  My son ordered a kids meal with rice and love it.  He all but licked the plate clean (which was a cute panda plate!).
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My daughter wanted dumplings, which she’s ordered at other places several times and enjoyed.  The dumplings here weren’t to her liking, though.
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I have to say, overall, that I shared her look of disappointment in the restaurant.

Again, it’s lovely to look inside of Nine Dragons, but I don’t know that I would recommend it.  It’s just not very special in any way.  And, personally, I like Chinese buffets, or a place where I can order sweet and sour chicken with fried rice.  I know not everyone will share my preference, but Nine Dragon’s menu felt more like an upscale Golden Panda than something that was authentic Chinese dining.

The options on the menu are pretty limited, just like when you go through the line at the Golden Panda (ie all they have are a limited number of troughs to get food out quickly).  I don’t know what their kitchen structure is at Nine Dragons, but I saw very few items that I would be able to get at a real Chinese restaurant in any given city in the world.  In short, this restaurant wasn’t impressive to me and I don’t plan to go back again.

This part has nothing to do with the food, but I thought it was odd that the Chinese staff we interacted with had a horrible grasp on the English language.  I walked in and asked if they had a table for five, and the lady asked me to “please, in English.”  I had to repeat myself four times before she understood what a table for five meant, even while I was pointing to my hand holding up five digits.  Now, I don’t have a particular accent, and I’ve always been very conscious to speak properly – so if someone can’t understand me, it’s usually because they do not know English fluently.  The waiter was the same way, and we had to repeat ourselves multiple times on everything. It was like the staff had all studied English in school, but they had never spoken to native English speakers or had any real-life practice/usage of the language.

And, yes, I realize that EPCOT is set up to have people working in their home countries to make a more magical experience.  However, there are so many people in China who are fluent in English that it seems like a bad call to hire people who struggle with the language.  I can repeat myself a dozen times and maybe get my point across, but what about people with thick accents or who are from another country?  I mean, people come to Disney World from all across the globe, so that means many of the guests are not fluent in English.  Trying to communicate through multiple language barriers is so very difficult.  I expected a little better from Disney’s hiring on that end of things, and I’ve yet to have an issue communication with anyone else in the World Showcase.

The 10 Hardest Restaurants to Book at Disney World

I cannot recommend enough how imperative reservations are to a smooth visit to Disney World.  So many people get angry when they can’t walk into their restaurant of choice, they can’t step right into Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique, or the like.  It can be very frustrating, but you have to consider just how many people are at Disney World at any given day, and advance planning will really take a lot of these problems away.

Here is my list of the hardest dining venues to get a reservation at (in no particular order after #1):

1)  Be Our Guest – Magic Kingdom.  Often times, even if you try to book a reservation 180 days in advance (the maximum they allow), Be Our Guest is already booked solid.  Cancellations are rare, and if a spot does happen to open you you will have a lot of competitors fighting for the same table.  It’s safe to say that Disney would be wise to open an additional Be Our Guest restaurant in Downtown Disney or Hollywood Studios.

2)  Cinderella’s Royal Table – Magic Kingdom.  This is where you actually get to eat inside of the giant castle in Disney World, and it’s full of princesses that go from table to table.  Because it’s such a highly themed experience, it has people flocking to book up the tables.

3)  Chef Mickey’s – The Contemporary Resort.  Even though this restaurant is in a hotel (The Contemporary) you may still make reservations to eat there.  The food is very highly rated, and the classic Mickey crew is there to meet everyone.

4)  ‘Ohana – The Polynesian Resort.  This is my favorite breakfast location is all of Disney!  The seasonings they use are downright magical, and you get Lilo and Stitch visiting every table.  Reservations are usually pretty easy to get up until a month before your travel date, but this can very a lot depending on how busy Disney World is during your trip.

5)  T-Rex – Downtown Disney.  A lot of people have mixed reviews about the food, but the beef is to die for, and the menu has a wide array of choices to fit pretty much any budget.  However, the highlight of T-Rex is not the meal, but the environment.  Very similar to Rainforest Cafe, every inch of T-Rex is decked out in a dinosaur theme, and every 30 minutes or so a meteor shower happens, which causes the pre-historic beasts to come alive! 

6)  Akershus Royal Banquet Hall – EPCOT (Norway).  There is a lot of praise on the food at Akershus, and it is a princess character experience, which makes it a wonderful alternative (or addition) to Cinderella’s Royal Table.  I would also be surprised if Anna and Elsa don’t become part of the regular character experience before to long (as of this post, they are NOT).

7)  1900 Park Fare – Grand Floridian Resort.  If all else fails, try 1900 Park Fare for your princess fix!  At dinner time, all of the Cinderella crew is brought out to interact with guests.  This is a great way to get some uncommon signatures, like Prince Charming or the Ugly Stepsisters.  At breakfast time, you can enjoy Alice, the Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger too!

8)  ANYTHING that connects to a fireworks show in the parks (Fantasmic especially!).  There are multiple parks and multiple restaurants in each park to choose from, but the availability is very limited, which makes the seating very hard to get.

9)  Teppan Edo – EPCOT (Japan).  They are always packed and always well worth the price.  For the price of an average up-scale meal, you get a chef at your table cooking food for you.  It’s actually an incredibly entertaining experience!  Be aware, though, if you party is less than 8, you will very likely be seated with strangers (I like that aspect, but others do not). 

10)  My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party – Grand Floridian Resort.  This is probably the most expensive meal you can have a Disney World.  For just my daughter and I (this was her one birthday present she chose) the cost was $290+ dollars after tax!  And you do have to pay in full upfront.  Even though the price might scare many people away, they tea party is only throw once a day, at 10:30 am, and is not available everyday, making this one of the most exclusive restaurants in Disney.  The food is pretty light, and the money you pay goes more into the experience to meet Aurora and Rose Petal (a magical, living rose from Aurora’s garden), as well as receive the exclusive My Disney Girl 18″ doll, ribbon tiara, and silver bracelet (among other gifts).  If you can swing the cost and find a table, this is a really amazing mother/daughter experience.

My best advice to get your ideal set of dining plans is to book 180 days in advance.  Have your alarm set for 12am EST at the 180 day mark, and then reserve your heart out!  Some of these restaurants will still have space in them a month or less before your travel date, just due to cancellations and such, but many times the available reservations will be at awkward times (dinner at 9:30 pm anyone?).  I rarely go to Disney World with no plans, so I’m always trying to work around FastPass+ times or Run Disney races or the like, meaning the more I can plan things out, the better our vacations work out.

Let’s Talk Teppan Edo

Recommended:  Yes!

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Above is Chef Mae, an incredibly entertaining performing cook at Teppan Edo.  I love her.  I wish I could do the things she did, but, as my son puts it, I “can’t kitchen.”  It would be funnier if it weren’t so true!

You can go a lot of places and get dinner in EPCOT, but there are not as many places where you’ll find dinner and a show.  In classic Benny Hanna format, guests sit at a table for eight (you will sit with strangers if you don’t have a party of 8) and each table includes a grill.  You place your order and around 15 minutes later your chef comes out with a cart.  The chef has everything they need right there, and they cook your dinner before your eyes.

Of course, watching chicken become edible isn’t all that entertaining in and of itself, but Teppan Edo spices up the action by playing with the food and cooking utensils (all hygienically, of course).  As pictured above, Chef Mae made a volcano/smoking train with the onion she had just sliced up moments before.  And, for the hidden Mickey chasers, Chef Mae even made one for us in the cooking oil.
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Chef Mae spent about 30 minutes cooking in front of us, making meals for eight people.  When it was all finished, she stayed behind to clean and chat for a little bit.  I run on the philosophy that “no story is not worth hearing,” so I really love to hear about the paths people take to get them where they are today.  I would expect that someone who is so talented at cooking would be more stuck up and unapproachable, but, at least with Chef Mae, she was so friendly and energetic.

As for the food review, I ordered an appetizer of sushi first.  I love sushi and this was very high quality to me.  It was simple, clean, and pure, so I had finished it much faster than I had intended.  So quickly, in fact, that I didn’t get to snap a photo first.  Sorry guys, my sushi brain kicked in!  But, California Roll fans, definitely order!

The entree options are fairly limited, but I find that to be pretty understandable as the Chefs have a set space to work in.  They aren’t able to have a Suex Chef assist them, and they can utilize a full sized kitchen to prepare meals, so it’s the menu has a lot to do with preparation speed and ability.  At least, that’s my guess at the reasoning.

My kids were interesting to watch here.  They loved Chef Mae, but I’m not sure my daughter loved her vegetarian meal, called Yasai.  She’s a big fan or fruits and vegetables, and Chinese noodles, but I think zucchini and udon noodles (kind of like bloated spaghetti without any significant sauce or taste) were off to her taste buds.  And for kids, the can choose from a vegetarian, chicken, or shrimp meal, all of it grilled (no nuggets or pre-prosessed foods), so it’s not the best choice ever for younger, pickier children, but my son enjoyed his food tremendously.

My son and I ordered the same thing – Tori, which is the chicken breast with udon noddles and Sukiyaki beef rice.  I believe Chef Mae sprayed a lemon glaze on the chicken, which I’m usually not a fan of, but the flavor was spectacular.  I tried out the dipping sauces, which were the Japanese variations of ranch dressing, mustard, and soy sauce, and I really liked them all.  Normally when I try a new food or sauce, I have to ease into it and build up a kind of tolerance/preference to it, but, for whatever reason I loved these Japanese sauces that I’d never heard of before.

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The rice is a lot different than the white or fried rice I’m used to.  It does have beef in it, and it seems like the rice is boiled in a beef broth.  It’s a very unique flavor.  Not bad, but not as in line with my tastes as I’m used to.  And, for me, a little bit of noddle went a lot way.  It wasn’t bad tasting, but I tend to dislike unflavored noodles, and that’s pretty much what udon is in my opinion.

Now, Teppan Edo is a fairly pricey restaurant.  The entrees run roughly $15 for vegetarian all the way up near $35 Filet Mignon.  It’s not a horribly overpriced restaurant, as can happen in Disney World, and I think it’s comparable to a lot of sit down meals in Orlando.  Overall, just for the show aspect and to get to meet the chef and have such a unique experience, I think it’s worth the price.  So, if you are like many travelers and trying to decide on one sit down dinner in the World Showcase, I strongly recommend Teppan Edo.

Flame Tree Barbeque Review

Recommended:  No!

If you’ve even come close to Dinoland USA in Animal Kingdom, you’ve probably gotten a whiff of Flame Tree Barbeque.  We went there this week after catching the aroma during out Easter visit.

Before, the barbeque smell was insanely strong, and amazing.  This time I really didn’t smell much until we got closer to the ordering area – which may have been because we were there right after they opened.

Kid-wise, mine loved the chicken legs.  My son tried to eat the bone, unsuccessfully:
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My husband finally got his giant turkey leg he’d been dreaming about for months:
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But I must admit, I felt a little shorted with my $10 turkey sandwich.  Yup, that’s a photo of the amount of meat I got, with the other half being roughly the same.  I mean, really, $10 and I can’t even get enough turkey to cover the bread area?  And my only side is a  slice of cantaloupe with no other option?
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Like I said, my kids were happy with their chicken wings.  I would have been happy with my sandwich had it actually had some turkey on it.  But then my husband bit into his turkey leg and it was really, really pink.  I don’t know that it was improperly cooked, but I can say that I tried a piece of his and was running to the bathroom repeatedly later – which is so fun to do in massive lines!  Now, it could have been my sandwich that made me sick, but my husband’s turkey leg tasted off to me, and, of course, I’m the one with the sensitive stomach.  My husband could eat branches off a tree and probably not have any after effects…

Some other odds and ends about Flame Tree – if you want fries or onion rings, you’re looking at another $4+.  Personally, with the way they skimped on the meat, I think fries are justifiable with the meals.  My kids’ meals came with carrot sticks, and my husband’s came with beans and coleslaw, so you do get some type of side with your food, but they don’t seem to substitute anything – so I was stuck with an individual cantaloupe slice because, obviously, everyone who wants a healthy turkey sandwich wants to remain hungry all day.

Water bottles are $2.50, which is cheaper than the soda, and gives you a water-fountain-refillable bottle to lug around with you for the rest of the day.  They also brought out a pin board while we were leaving, which was fun.  But, ultimately, I’d say Flame Tree Barbeque is a SKIP for your trip to Animal Kingdom.

Happy May the 4th!

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Now that Star Wars is officially a Disney property, we should be seeing stronger and stronger May the 4th celebrations. This year, it seems like Disney is taking a giant leap forward with giving Star Wars fan service.  For example, at the Disney Store today you could get a special edition Star Wars pin.

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(found this photo online, not lucky enough to get one of my own)

 

At Disney World, a lot of this celebration is centered in MGM (oops, Hollywood Studios – still can’t get used to that name change!), where they have the Star Tours ride, the Jedi Training Academy, and Star Wars themed shops already.  I’ll be visiting later this month, but I hear Star Wars characters will be available for photos and autographs, a new Star Wars shop will open, AND you can choose from two different breakfast with Star Wars character options.  At the Sci-Fi Dine In Theatre Restaurant in Hollywood Studios, you can do breakfast with Star Wars characters.  Princess Leia seems not to make the list of breakfast appearances, but there have been character photos of Queen Amadala in the park, so I’ll be curious to update how this final line up ends up.  Also, at Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios, you can do dinner with Disney characters, like Mickey dressed as Luke Skywalker.  Both are adorable, but pricey, going from $30.00-60.00 per person, depending on which event you attend and the age of the parton eating.  You can’t book these reservations for Star Wars meals online though, so call up (407) WDW-DINE if you’ll be at Disney World between today and June 14, 2014.

 

And aside from Disney fun, Lego and Toys R’ Us has also participated in May the 4th for the past few years.  Usually this takes place on a Saturday, this year is happened on May 3rd from 12-2pm at most Toys R’ Us locations, and it’s free to come in and build a small Lego Star Wars themed kit.  Here are the 2013 and 2014 freebies (the mini X-Wing and Tie Fighter are from 2014).

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So, now that you know, go out and enjoy your May the 4th!