Crystal Palace: Dinner

One of my favorite dining venues would without a doubt be the Crystal Palace. On our September trip, it was raining hard and the porch was a nice place to hang out while waiting for our reservation time.

My rankings for this venue is as follows:

Food: 9 – Price: 7 – Atmosphere: 9

For a buffet, I really enjoyed the food. Of course, buffets almost always have me overeating, which is a downside to the whole affair. But in terms of things, I am always down for some mashed potatoes and gravy as well as a hearty serving of beef.

Of course, this is still Disney World and just at the end of Main Street USA at Magic Kingdom, so there is always going to be a rather hefty price tag for those not on the meal plan. While I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from trying out the Crystal Palace at least once, I do not think I would ever enjoy a meal there unless I have a table service meal on my dining plan.

If you’ve read my blog before, you’d know that I absolutely love character dining. The Crystal Palace offers meet and greets with the wonderful characters of Winnie the Pooh. One of my favorite parts is that every now and then, the characters put on a parade where all the children hop in line and march around, which amps up the atmosphere and give parents a fun photo opportunity.

All in all, the food is pretty great and the characters are always bubbly and keep the place alive. I love the bright lighting and colors of the restaurant and when trying to escape the rain, it’s a perfect place to spend a little extra time (and possibly find some more room to stuff yourself silly). This is why I’ve given the Crystal Palace such a high rating. So if you’re on a meal plan and have some kiddos in tow (adult kiddos count too, of course), I’d suggest planning a meal at the Crystal Palace!

 

 

Advertisements

Main Street Confectionary

Since Alec is usually not one for sweets (unless they involve peanut butter), we had not actually stopped at the Main Street Confectionary before this past trip when Alec’s mom and sister raved about the chocolate chip cookies.IMG_0254

 

The food went fast so I was only able to grab a picture of the peanut cluster. We tried out a caramel apple, two cookies, and the cluster. Everything was absolutely delicious and it took me quite some time to come down from that sugar high.

I have two pieces of advice, however. (1) Your eyes are likely bigger than your stomach. These sweets are very decadent and I definitely had too much. (2) These are a bit pricey, so if you’re not using dining plan snacks it would likely be better to error on the side of caution by not getting too much! Or, if you’ve brought some plastic baggies, this may be a good time to put them to use.

I’m actually a little mad Alec’s family introduced me to this fine establishment because now I know I’m going to stop in for sweets during every future trip!

 

Gaston’s Tavern

One of our favorite new places to go on recent trips has been Gaston’s Tavern. It is near Be Our Guest back in the Beauty and the Beast area of Magic Kingdom. Often times this place is pretty busy, but the tables and chairs are well spread out so it does not feel cramped or crowded.

Of course, apart from being a cool place to hang out, using a snack on a gigantic cinnamon roll is great fun too. Is it the best cinnamon roll I’ve had? No, but it’s still very good and a pretty good deal when it comes to using a snack credit.

I also liked the LeFou’s Brew, which I’ve had quite a few times. I didn’t enjoy the foam on top too much, but Alec really liked it and didn’t have any trouble polishing it off. The remaining is essentially frozen apple juice, which I thought was awesome and really enjoyed.

All in all, I really enjoy using this place as a hang out location where we also can snack and cool off. It’s both convenient and enjoyable, plus the decor (especially the giant chair) is super great for photos of your burly family members!

Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine: Dinner (Early)

Being on the quick service dining plan, we decided we only wanted to shell out money for one table service meal this past trip. After looking into various restaurants, we decided we wanted to try something new and settled on this mainly because it gave us priority seating for Fantasmic, my favorite evening time show.

This is a buffet and if you have small children, I would absolutely recommend hitting this place up for an early dinner because the amount of character time we got was insane. We sat down for our meal a bit before 4PM and all the characters came by at least four times, waving and stopping for photos if we wanted.

With not many people at the restaurant, we watched as families got all kind of time with the characters. Two young girls next to me had such a great time doting on the characters I couldn’t help but smile.

The food itself is quite good, though maybe not on the same quality level as the table service restaurants that are not self serve. I loved the little pastas and probably had more meatballs and shrimp than I needed, but it was a great opportunity to stuff my face. And since we were paying out of pocket, I believe it was very strategic of us to do the early dinner because we didn’t need as much in the morning and after stuffing ourselves silly, we didn’t need much in the evening either.

One thing food wise I really loved was the decorations on the desserts. The little ‘grammy’ statue Minnie was really cute – I think it was white chocolate so I enjoyed it too. My favorite item was the little ‘apple pie’ tasting item. I could’ve eaten quite a few of those had I not already eaten so much. Alec loved the little chocolate peanut butter ball, but I was not as much of a fan because of the texture.

Overall, it was a great restaurant and I loved all the character time we got. My only complaint is that Mickey still seemed to be the star of Minnie’s show because he was the one standing at the entrance where a cast member took PhotoPass photos. I guess I can understand why, as more people seem to want Mickey pictures than Minnie pictures, but I still was not a big fan of that aspect.

As for personal rankings, I would say Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine is:

Atmosphere: 10 – Food: 8 -Price: 7

This was by far the most character time I have gotten at a table service and for that I had a really great time. The food itself was very good, I only wish I had saved more room for the wonderful desserts. Lastly, as this is Disney and nothing comes without a decent price, this place was about in the middle when it comes to table service, but it is definitely a bit hard to swallow when paying out of pocket and seeing the dollar signs versus as credit on your dining plan.

I will absolutely be returning to Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine at Hollywood & Vine in the future. I am excited to take my future children here simply because I see them having a truly magical experience meeting and getting special moments with the characters, which is reason enough to go again and again!

 

Snack: Troll Horn

img_0425

While hanging out in Epcot with a rather large amount of snack remaining on our meal plan, we decided to stop into the bakery at Norway (admittedly not for the first time) and try out this wonderful Troll Horn. Being a collector of trolls, the name absolutely sold me.

This tasted like your average grocery store creme horn, though a bit more dense. The shell part wasn’t very crumbly and it was very sugary (as seen on the outside). I liked the creme part pretty well but I can’t say I was sold enough on this dessert item to want to try it again.

My mom, however, is a super big fan of creme horns and I’m sure this would have been right up her alley. So if you’re like my mom in that you love creme horns, I’d say knock yourself out and get a nice troll horn to snack on.

The Ganachery

img_0694

While at Disney Springs, Alec and I decided to pay the Ganachery a visit after seeing some great reviews. Seeing the price tag on the available items, I opted to go cheap and try the little squares (2 for $6). We tried the peanut butter and pistachio chocolates and I have to say I now understand why people spend so much money on these chocolates. They are absolutely delicious.

As a matter of fact, I would not mind having some of this now (though I’m sure my wallet would)! The chocolate melts in your mouth and I actually enjoyed the dark chocolate even though I typically avoid it. I am sure I will stop in again on future trips to enjoy these lovely little beauts.

Sprinkles Cupcakes

img_0705

Located at Disney Springs is a lovely place called Sprinkles Cupcakes which is always packed with people. Even longer many times is the ‘cupcake ATM’ line just outside, which is rather uncommon here in the states.

Unwilling to wait in a longer line, I dropped into the actual store and ordered myself a red velvet cupcake, which I very promptly devoured. Although I’ve discovered that Sprinkles is a chain (there’s actually one near me – happy day), if you do not have one nearby I would definitely suggest dropping in to enjoy a sweet treat.

The cake itself is light, the icing is sweet and not too dense (I’m not a fan of buttercream so dense is not something I look for in icing). The little topper is most garnish, but also edible. However, it is very hard and not all that enjoyable to eat.

So, to recap, if you’re in Disney Springs, you should go enjoy a cupcake from Sprinkles because the one (okay, I had two) I ate was one of the best I’ve had.

Snack: School Bread

img_0368

While Alec and I were in Norway and craving a little something to tide us by, we decided to try out the school bread. Both of us frequent the Walt Disney World subreddit and a resounding ‘must try’ was the school bread, which is the main reason I felt we should try it out ourselves.

If you’re looking for something different, this is definitely different. As you can tell from the photo, this is more of a pastry than a bread, but it is rather dense and the inside cream doesn’t exactly cover the whole bread. I liked the cream and coconut on top much more than the bread itself.

Was it my favorite food in all of Disney? Not exactly. Would I get it again? Probably. I enjoyed it and would definitely suggest giving it a try to others since it’s not like anything I’ve tried before.

Snack: A Crepe in France

img_0385

I must say, out of the many wonderful things I’ve loved and devoured at Disney, this snack tops the list of ‘absolutely will never order again.’ Alec and I have been fortunate enough to enjoy authentic French crepes while visiting Paris and while I knew my expectations would be a bit too high, I was also plenty aware that we were indeed in Orlando, Florida and not Paris, France.

The biggest issue I had with this crepe is that it is not make fresh in front of you. instead, the cast member in the crepe stand slaps a pre-made crepe on the hot plate and after roughly 5 seconds of ‘heating up,’ throws some chocolate syrup on it, folds it, and completes the crepe with another bit of chocolate syrup.

This meant a few different things:

  • The crepe was not hot. Rather, it was lukewarm at best.
  • The texture of the crepe was completely off. Rather than being light and for lack of a better word, fluffy, it was somehow dense and almost hard to swallow.
  • The garnish was simple chocolate sauce and was completely lacking in a ‘wow’ factor.

Disney has so many great options I just assumed this one would be another slam dunk, but unfortunately it more than missed the mark. When looking for snacks, I would suggest grabbing a nearby donut or stopping by the bakery in Norway to satiate your sweet tooth rather than gambling with this crepe.

 

Coca-Cola Store: International Soda Flight (Disney Springs)

A place Alec and I spent a decent amount of time was the Coca-Cola Store in Disney Springs. Locating the rooftop beverage bar, we found an international soda flight on the menu for $8. With 16 sodas to taste, 50 cents a sample is pretty reasonable for being at Disney. I am so glad that we decided to try this out because I had a blast sampling and writing down all of our reactions. Below are our comments on each drink.

Tray 1:

1. Stoney Tangawizi

  • Belle: Almost Pepper-like undertone?
  • Alec: Deceptively sweet at the start with some spice at the end.
2. Fanta Exotic Fruit Punch
  • Belle: tastes like fruit punch
  • Alec: carbonated fruit punch – kind of like a fruity bubblegum
3. Bon Bon Anglais
  • Belle: kind of like a red skittle
  • Alec: tastes like watered down strawberry, maybe more raspberry
4. Sunfill Mint
  • Belle: watered down mouthwash
  • Alec: Yeah I don’t like it. Tastes more like toothpaste
5. Minute Maid Joy Apple
  • Belle: watered down apple juice?
  • Alec: yeah
6. Fanta Apple Kiwi
  • Belle: more kiwi than Apple
  • Alec: but the smell is there of apple
7. Smart Watermelon
  • Belle: carbonated watermelon
  • Alec: Yeah it’s not bad
8. Thums Up
  • Belle: tastes like Coke but has an almost coffee-like undertone?
  • Alec: not a fan of that one
Tray 2
1. Beverly
  • Belle: I don’t even know how to describe that.
  • Alec: like bad cough syrup. The goal of it is to make it taste like alcohol without alcohol. It’s almost like gin. Ahhh that was gross.
2. Aquarius Libre
  • Belle: kind of like lemon water
  • Alec: it’s a lot better than Beverly
3. Fuse Tea with Berries
  • Belle: is that tea?
  • Alec: pretty good for tea
4. Bonaqua Fruits Apple Pear
  • Belle: kind of like sour apple but then has a weird watery taste at the end
  • Alec: it’s alright. The pear is watered down. Too tart
5. Lift Manzana
  • Belle: sugary sweet
  • Alec: thats good. Doesn’t taste like apple though it’s just sweet
6. Fanta Kolita
  • Belle: fruity but has an odd aftertaste
  • Alec: tastes like watered down toothpaste or mouthwash again
7. Inca Kola
  • Belle: kind of juice-like
  • Alec: slightly sweet
8. Delaware Punch
  • Belle: sweet but also reminiscent of cough syrup
  • Alec: tastes like watered down fruit punch
Favorites?
  • Belle: I like the Fanta Apple Kiwi.
  • Alec: Either the exotic fruit punch or the apple kiwi. I also liked the apple pear a lot, but It’s a little too tart.

Which ones did we not finish?

From tray 1, we really didn’t like #4 Sunfill Mint and #8 Thums Up (we actually looked this one up and it’s from when Coke left India – a company made a knock off and it managed to do well enough that even when Coke came back, Thums Up stayed too). From tray 2 we didn’t like #1 Beverly (we had tried this at Club Cool in Epcot and knew what we were in for, but we still weren’t quite prepared) and #2 Aquarius Libre (it wasn’t terrible but it was by no means good).

So if you’re looking to kill some time while exploring international sodas, this is absolutely worth $8. I had such a fun time that it actually was one of my favorite parts of our trip. We spent about half an hour just relaxing and pretending to be fancy soda connoisseurs. One suggestion I have, however, is buying a fountain drink (the rooftop has a freestyle machine) to cleanse your pallet after some of the ickier drinks.