Sultan’s Oasis Review

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Have you ever heard the idiom, “catch the tiger by the tail?” Well, the phrase likely originates from Sultan’s Oasis in Tokyo DisneySea. Here, at this seemingly unassuming little restaurant, one of the greatest snacks ever bestowed upon mankind, based on one of the greatest characters to leap from the mind of mankind, is served: Chandu Tails. Therein lies the problem, and the origin of the aforementioned phrase: how do you serve a snack that is so awesome in a location that is so awesome without exposing guests to catastrophic levels of awesomeness.

I’m no scientist, but clearly the good folks at Walt Disney Imagineering and the Oriental Land Company have solved this problem and made Sultan’s Oasis a safe destination for all. In all seriousness, Sultan’s Oasis truly is one of those special little places that is a great spot to slow down and soak up the remarkable ambiance that defines Tokyo DisneySea. This site is obviously not light on praise for Tokyo DisneySea, and if you’ve never been you probably have read it and heard praise from others and perhaps wondered how the park could possibly live up to the hype. After all, the headliners like Journey to the Center of the Earth sound fun, but can they really make the park that good?

The truth is, what often goes overlooked in reflections upon Tokyo DisneySea is how the little details and moments really define the experience. Let’s take a look at why snacking at Sultan’s Oasis makes for one of those sublime little moments… (more…)

Cocina Cucamonga Review

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Cocina Cucamonga is a counter service Mexican restaurant in Disney California Adventure’s Pacific Wharf at Disneyland Resort. This review features photos of the food, plus my thoughts on the cuisine here, and to whom this purported “Mexican” restaurant will most likely appeal. The menu here has a lot of options, including tacos, burritos, tamales, salads, and more.

I mentioned this in the Lucky Fortune Cookery Review, but I’ll reiterate: the Pacific Wharf “land” is very simple. It’s essentially an outdoor mall food court where there are multiple places with ordering windows and an abundance of common seating in the middle. There is no indoor seating, nor is there any theming to speak of at Cocina Cucamonga.

As a preface to this review, how you view the food at Cocina Cucamonga is largely going to be dictated by perspective and background. In terms of background, if you’re a Disneyland local living in Santa Ana, for example, or anywhere that has an abundance of Mexican fast food, this restaurant won’t strike you as even remotely authentic. If you’re from a small town in the Midwest where the only Mexican food around is Taco Bell, your opinion of Cocina Cucamonga will likely be much more favorable and issues of authenticity aren’t likely to arise. Regardless of your background, if you approach this restaurant from the perspective of whether Cocina Cucamonga has quality cuisine, your opinion is likely to differ from someone who approaches it from the perspective of whether it has authentic cuisine.

With those caveats about the restaurant out of the way, let’s take a look at the food, and see how it holds up… (more…)

Katsura Grill Review

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Katsura Grill is a counter service restaurant in the Japan Pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase at Walt Disney World. The menu here is quite expansive, and consists of teriyaki, udon, sushi, curry, and various combos. For an ostensibly Japanese restaurant, many of these options are fairly approachable and will appeal to a broad selection of guests. In other words, it’s fairly Americanized. You aren’t going to find poisonous fugu fish that will leave you with 22 hours to live if you eat it.

While Katsura Grill made our list as the #3 counter service restaurant in Epcot, it’s worth noting that it’s not in the same league as Tangierine Cafe or Sunshine Seasons. In terms of basic info, Katsura Grill participates in the Disney Dining Plan, but does not accept the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount. It can be a reasonably priced or expensive meal depending upon what you order–it’s a solid use of a Disney Dining Plan counter service credit if you order one of the combos and are trying to maximize your counter service credit value on the Disney Dining Plan.

We tend to eat at Katsura Grill a lot. Here’s why… (more…)

Golden Horseshoe & Stage Door Cafe Review

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The Golden Horseshoe and Stage Door Cafe are counter service restaurants at Disneyland serving ice cream and various fried foods. This review features photos of the food and ice cream, history, and general thoughts on the locations. As for why these spots are lumped together in one review: Golden Horseshoe is the main restaurant here with meals served inside accompanied by performances, while Stage Door Cafe serves virtually the same menu from the same kitchen outside via a grab and go window. By any reasonable account, they are the same thing.

Well, except for the fact that The Golden Horseshoe is approximately twenty-seven billion times more awesome from a non-food perspective. It alone contains a staggering amount of Disneyland history.  It unofficially opened on  July 13, 1955, as the Golden Horseshoe Saloon, when Lillian and Walt Disney celebrated their 30th anniversary with a private party and the premiere showing of the original Golden Horseshoe Revue. A few days later, The Golden Horseshoe Saloon officially opened, and Disney Legend Wally Boag made his first performance there. Boag went on to perform approximately 40,000 performances on the Golden Horseshoe stage, and is credited as inspiring countless other comedians, including Steve Martin.

Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Revue went on to become the longest running stage production in show business history, as listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Other acts have come and gone over the years, most recently being the hilarious Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, who have since been retired by Disneyland and now perform down the street at Knott’s Berry Farm as Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies. Currently, Laughing Stock performs here.

Being huge Billy Hill and the Hillbillies fans, we have eaten here countless times. Unfortunately, it’s arguably the worst restaurant at Disneyland Resort. Why is it so bad despite all that history? Let’s take a look… (more…)

Tips for Making Be Our Guest Restaurant Reservations

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With Advance Dining Reservations now available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, you might find yourself wanting to have a meal…or 3…there. After being shut out of getting ADRs there more times than I care to admit, I think I have some helpful tips to offer to ensure that you’re able to score those elusive reservations.

At first, I thought it was simply a matter of waiting for the initial hype of the restaurant to die down, as we were unable to get ADRs during our first couple of trips shortly after it opened. Fast forward almost 3 years later, and I still haven’t eaten dinner there. Some of this is because I simply don’t plan 180 days in advance anymore, which is when the window for booking ADRs opens for the restaurant. It’s a rarity for me to start planning 3 months in advance, and by that time, ADRs are long gone.

In fact, they’re often long gone by the 180 day mark. That may not make sense, but the first tip isn’t really a tip so much as it is a simple fact of life: if you’re staying on-site at a Walt Disney World hotel, there’s a good chance you’ll be shut out for dinner even at the 180 day mark. This is because on-site guests can start making ADRs 180 days before the start of their trip, not the day before they want to dine. In other words, if you’re staying on-site and have a 7-day vacation starting on September 26 (180 days from today), you could make ADRs starting today not just for September 26, but for the duration of your trip, whereas off-site guests could only make ADRs for September 26 or sooner.

Given that there are around 80,000+ guests staying on-site in Walt Disney World on any night, this is a lot of people who potentially can book reservations for Be Our Guest Restaurant before the window for off-site guests even opens. Granted, the vast majority of guests know nothing about ADRs and won’t try book reservations at the 180 window, but around 1% of those guests could book dinner and the restaurant would fill up.

If you’re staying on-site, it’s good practice to try booking Be Our Guest Restaurant as soon as your window opens, and for as far into your vacation as you can. Plan your park days around that. You might even make a couple of ADRs so that you can cancel one after park hours are released. If you’re not staying on-site, well, good luck. Try right when your 180 day window opens, and repeat as necessary for subsequent days of your trip.

Let’s just assume for a second that you’re unable to score one of those coveted ADRs far in advance of your trip. Fortunately, there are other options… (more…)

Lucky Fortune Cookery Review

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Lucky Fortune Cookery is a counter service restaurant in Disney California Adventure’s Pacific Wharf at Disneyland Resort. This review features photos of the food and ambiance, plus my thoughts on this restaurant. The menu is very basic, consisting solely of made-to-order Asian rice bowls. You start by choosing a protein: chicken, beef, and tofu. Then you choose a sauce: Mandarin Orange, Spicy Korean, Thai Coconut Curry, or Teriyaki.

Much like the entire Pacific Wharf “land”, the restaurant here is also very simple. It’s an outdoor ordering area with limited seating adjacent to the restaurant plus a ton more in the middle of the restaurant area. Think of it as a glorified mall food court.

As far as Disney California Adventure dining goes, Pacific Wharf is often overlooked. Despite the limited menu here, Lucky Fortune Cookery is actually a bit of a hidden gem… (more…)