LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – From a stellar line-up of celebrity chefs at Disney Springs to trend-setting creations from Disney’s new global test kitchen, the Walt Disney World culinary team exceeds expectations of food-savvy guests. Here’s the buzz for 2017:
Disney Springs Celebrity Eats, Fast Bites
The biggest news was the proliferation of new places to eat at Disney Springs, from grab-and-go food trucks and kiosks to restaurants by award-winning chefs. Fast- casual spots included Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza and D-Luxe Burger. Three James Beard Foundation winners joined the line-up: Chef Art Smith a Homecomin’—Florida Kitchen and Shouthern Shine; Chef Rick Bayless at Frontera Cocina, and Masaharu Morimoto at Morimoto Asia. Superstar steakhouse STK also opened an outpost at Disney Springs.
Opened in 2017 is Planet Hollywood Observatory, a re-imagined restaurant with the new Stargazers Lounge that lets guest relax under the stars with live entertainment. Coming soon is Paddlefish, formerly Fulton’s Crab House, featuring contemporary, seafood-centric cuisine, craft cocktails and an all-new interior. In early 2018, look for Bar George wine bar and more.
Next Generation of Sweets
The Ganachery at Disney Springs showcases the beauty of chocolate, with Disney’s proprietary recipe for the custom-made ganache, a luxurious mixture of melted chocolate and cream. Amorette’s Patisserie features classic and contemporary pastries by the Disney chefs, with custom cakes that are works of art. And Sprinkles serves up handcrafted cupcakes, slow churned ice cream and homemade cookies. (Their innovative Cupcake ATM satisfies sweet-toothed epicureans 24/7.)
In the Disney Resorts
Disney’s famed monorail is your connection in a movable feast called Highway in the Sky Dine-Around. The new experience gives guests priority boarding on the monorail for a distinctly Disney dining experience with stops for cocktails, appetizers, dinner and dessert. From a welcome cocktail at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, guests call at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (apps), Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (entree) and back to the Contemporary for dessert, cordials and coffee. Offered Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
For those who brunch: For those who like a leisurely Sunday morning, Disney offers two brunches. The Brunch at the Top at California Grill atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort features both a buffet (with an extraordinary Bloody Mary bar) and table service, plus a remarkable view from the 15th floor. Narcoossee’s Waterfront Brunch at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a three-course delight with Mimosas, Champagne or Bloody Marys. For reservations, 407-WDW-DINE.
New lounge for small bites, original cocktails: At Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is a favorite of Disney fans, with more than 1,200 pieces of memorabilia. Hand-crafted cocktails and small plates are a hit with guests.
Flying Fish at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort reopened in Sept. 2016 with a whole new look and new menu. Sustainable fish is the star of the menu, and a new high-tech wine system allows more special wines by the ounce.
New in the theme parks
Global cuisine at two new restaurants: At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Tiffins features cuisine from places that inspired the creation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Open for both lunch and dinner, Tiffins has waterfront views and is situated at the entrance to Pandora: The World of AVATAR, opening in 2017. (“Tiffin” is an Indian English word for a midday meal or a type of container used to carry food while traveling). Adjacent to Tiffins, Nomad Lounge features hand-crafted cocktails with African, Asian and South American flavors; beers, and sustainable wines from those regions, plus specialty non-alcoholic beverages and small bites.
The Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen in the Magic Kingdom is the first restaurant inspired by a classic attraction. Just steps from the legendary Jungle Cruise attraction in Adventureland, the 222-seat restaurant features bold, flavorful tastes of Asia, South America and Africa for lunch and dinner.
Great Food Among the Flowers and More of The Best Food Fest:
Epcot is becoming a park of festivals, including the debut in 2017 of the new Epcot International Festival of the Arts (weekend through Feb. 20); the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival March 1-May 29, and the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival that kicks off Aug. 31 and runs through Nov. 13. All three festivals showcase culinary tastes in kiosks around World Showcase Promenade, along with special events.
What Disney does best: Allergy-friendly menus are found in more than 120 quick-service and table-service locations at both Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, along with more ways to make the special-diet-request process easier. Guests are still able to consult directly with a restaurant chef or special diets trained cast member. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is the recipient of a FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) Award for dedication to providing a safe and enjoyable dining experience for vacationing families and Disney chefs have been recognized for their commitment to food allergy awareness, education and management.
Where it all starts: Ever wonder how a new dish makes it on the menu? Or how a cocktail comes to life? The Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Flavor Lab brings the chefs, front-of-house managers, sommeliers, mixologists and more together in a state-of-the-art research and development facility. The new 7,000-square foot Flavor Lab serves as a hub of new product, packaging and equipment innovation for food and beverage programs across Walt Disney Parks and Resorts around the globe. While not open to the public, Disney guests will be the ultimate benefactor of all the testing, measuring and collaborations that will happen in the expansive new space.
Best of the Best: Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa took home the AAA Five Diamond award for the 16th consecutive year in 2016. It also was voted the No. 2 restaurant in the United States in TripAdvisor’s 2016 Travelers’ Choice awards. The restaurant wows guests every night of the year with three dining experiences: the dining room, the elegant Queen Victoria’s Room and the Chef’s Table in the Kitchen.
Reservations are accepted at most Walt Disney World table-service restaurants, signature restaurants, character dining locations and dinner shows, and may be made up to 190 days prior to arrival by making them on the My Disney Experience app, DisneyWorld.com/dine or by calling 407/WDW-DINE (407/939-3463).