pen rainbow

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tuesday's Cupboard—Good Things to Eat at Disney World

chocolate & caramel strawberries in Germany
Outstanding service + upscale menu choices + memorable dining experiences

According to one of the servers at the Flying Fish restaurant on the Boardwalk, a typical park visitor in Walt Disney World walks an average of 11 miles a day.

That's about right for us.  We've been wearing our fitbit pedometers, and although our strides differ somewhat because of our 5-inch height difference, we've averaged around 11 miles a day.  Dodging motorized scooters and overwrought parents pushing double-wide strollers is a little like Mister Toad's Wild Ride meets a jump into hyperspace on the Mellennium Falcon.  It's even more fun in the dark.

It takes stamina to navigate around Disney World.  During one park hopping day between Epcot and the Hollywood Studios, I took 23,262 steps and walked up 10 flights of stairs.  Fitbit tracked 9.4 miles that day.  It really is impressive that Disney accommodates and makes it possible for everyone, including those with limited mobility, to share in the immersive experience.

All of that activity burns calories in a big way.  On a typical day in Disney World, I burned through 2,250 calories.  That's 650 calories more than a typical day at in the not-so-magic kingdom of Walnut Creek.

Yummy Main Street popcorn at the Frontierland Trading Post
in the Magic Kingdom
Maple Syrup at the Canadian pavilion
We ate out twice a day for lunch and dinner, and we began each day with a light breakfast of raisin bran and nonfat milk, a fruit cup, and coffee in our room.  By lunch time, we were ready to refill our tanks and take a break.  We had dinner reservations every night except for two nights when we ate at the casual and consistently excellent Kona Island sushi bar at the Polynesian Resort where we stayed.

The Disney team is paying attention to details.  The wine selections and pairings were very good this year.  Across the board, the service was excellent, and we noticed three areas of improvement.

Gourmet coffees in Italy at Epcot
Quality:  Disney is appealing to the foodie in all of us.  We noticed a greater variety of food choices (e.g. the new caramel shop in the Germany pavilion at Epcot) and an overall better quality in freshness, particularly when it came to artisan breads and salad ingredients.  Fresh pomegranate seeds, delicate greens,  heirloom tomatoes, and warm Italian and multigrain breads were lovely surprises!

Wait time:  There was usually no wait, and we were consistently seated on time.  When there was a wait, it was less than 10 minutes before we were shown to our table.  When the staff is not slammed with impossible crowds during the busiest times of the year (one week before and after Christmas, same for Thanksgiving and Easter), service is as good as it gets.  Make a reservation and show up on time or check in early like we did on our last night (we were seated 30 minutes early at the Flying Fish), then sit back and let the pros do the rest.

Servers:  Our servers were fantastic!  Everywhere we went, they were friendly and experienced, and their timing was impeccable.  We never felt rushed.  More than once, our servers allowed us to linger over cappuccinos and dessert so that we could watch the fireworks.  Every restaurant acknowledged our anniversary celebration and provided various complimentary small items off of the menu.  Nice touch, Disney!

Stop by any of these restaurants for good food, great service, and wonderful Disney atmosphere!

•  Kona Island Sushi Bar > Polynesian Resort — My favorite: tuna poke & the volcano roll.  The best seats are at the bar.

•  California Grill > Contemporary Resort — Possibly, the best restaurant in WDW.  My favorite:  Chef Yoshi's specialty sushi.  For a little heat, try the spicy Kazan roll.

•  Artist Point > Wilderness Lodge — Formal dining.  My fave:  Cedar plank roasted wild king salmon

•  The Tusker House > All-you-can-eat buffet — My fave: spiced tandoori tofu

•  Royal Anandapur Tea Company > Aisa counter service — My fave:  chai lattĂ©

•  Harambe Fruit Market > Africa kiosk —My fave:  fresh bananas, Craisins

 Yak & Yeti > Sit-down restaurant — My fave:  pot stickers.  Be sure to see the artifacts throughout the restaurant.

•  Mama Melrose's > Casual sit-down — My fave: Wild Mushroom & Arugula Flatbread

•  Brown Derby > Nicer sit-down — My fave:  Grapefruit cake

•  Flying Fish CafĂ© > Nice sit-down restaurant, high-end menu — My fave:  Oak-grilled Maine Diver Scallops (yowza! super yummy risotto)

•  Biergarten  > Germany Pavilion — Group of 8 table seatings.  All-You-Can-Eat Buffet.  My fave: hot buffet, homemade spaetzel

•  Kringla Bakeri og Cafe > Norway Pavilion — Counter service, outdoor covered seating.  My fave:  Ham & Apple grilled sandwich

Our favorite place for a snack!
Boulangerie Patisserie in the French pavilion in Epcot

Refresh with freebie Cokes from around the world at Club Cool in Epcot

•  Sleepy Hollow > Liberty Square — Counter service, fast food.  This is WDW's best kept foodie secret!  Fresh waffle sandwiches are to die for.  No, really.  Grab an outdoor picnic table with a spectacular view of Cinderella's castle & enjoy.  My fave:  Ham, prosciutto & Swiss waffle sandwich & chocolate soy milk.

Best sandwiches in WDW!  Sleepy Hollow
in the Magic Kingdom