Aulani Makahiki Character Breakfast Review

Auntys-Breakfast-Celebration-Makahiki-goofy-brickers


Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration at the Makahiki is the Disney character breakfast at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii. It’s the restaurant to meet Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy in Hawaiian attire. This is a breakfast buffet, with Western and Asian options available. The restaurant is meant to be an international harvest, as “Makahiki” is an annual Hawaiian harvest festival held in O‘ahu to celebrate the season of bounty and peace. Calling this meal an “international harvest” is a bit of a stretch, but the food is quite good.

In terms of ambiance, since Makahiki doubles as a standard restaurant for dinner, and Disney has taken great lengths towards authenticity at Aulani, the restaurant is fairly elegant with jewel and glass motifs. Makahiki has a lot of sweeping lines in the design, and many murals gracing the walls. Like every restaurant at Aulani, it’s open air, with tables near the edge of the restaurant having nice views out into the Waikolohe Valley pool area. 

The restaurant had plenty of open tables when we visited. Now that the character breakfast is offered daily, we understand this is typical. Although we didn’t think of it at the time, if quality character photos are important to you, request a table near the outer, open-air side of the restaurant. The lighting isn’t as harsh there, and will allow for better character photos.

Let’s take a look at the food and characters at Makahiki… (more…)

Ristorante di Cannaletto Review

Ristorante di Cannaletto is a table service Italian restaurant in Mediterranean Harbor at Tokyo DisneySea with outdoor patio seating overlooking the Venetian waterway canal and gondolas. Pause a moment to let this sink in: while you are in a theme park in Tokyo, Japan, you can have pizza at an Italian restaurant as you watch Venetian gondolas float through the waterway pictured above. Just look at that view! At this point, is this review even necessary? Ristorante di Cannaletto could be serving Kibbles ‘n Bits drenched in mayonnaise, maple syrup, and dusted with Pixy Stix, and it would probably still be worthwhile to eat there.

Fortunately, the actual menu is nothing like what I just described. Rather, it’s one of the best restaurants at Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland, offering a solid variety of Italian food with an emphasis on excellent pizzas. It’s also the only restaurant in Tokyo DisneySea that offers a menu with vegetarian items. Yes, really. Variety, excellent food, and great ambiance? Okay, now you can probably stop reading…

For our meal here, we went to the restaurant first thing in the morning to try for Priority Seating, Tokyo Disney Resort’s version of Advance Dining Reservations. Fortunately, it was a slow day, and the restaurant had some availability. As we learned on our subsequent visit to Tokyo Disney Resort, during which we tried on 3 different days to get Priority Seating times here without success, it’s a very popular restaurant. We highly recommend trying for Priority Seating after you do the morning attraction dash (or, make reservations in advance if you’re staying on-site). There is standby seating available, as well, but prepare for a wait in line if you go that route.

Ristorante di Cannaletto is gorgeous on the inside and outside. Most of the inside of the restaurant consists of a single, large room with high ceilings. While such an environment runs the risk of coming across as a ‘mess hall’ type setting, Ristorante di Cannaletto pulls it off very well, with lots of art, tables spaced appropriately apart, and beautiful design-work on the ceiling. Booths and flowers further give the restaurant a sense of intimacy, allowing it to simultaneously feel grandiose and personal. (more…)

Lumiere’s Review

lumieres-restaurant-disney-magic-081

Lumiere’s is a table service Disney Cruise Line restaurant that serves what is essentially a cross between American and French cuisine. Lumiere’s has a look that combines Art Deco and Beauty and the Beast (get the restaurant’s name?) into a stylized restaurant that is elegant, yet full of Disney whimsy and charm. This review of Lumiere’s covers dinner on the re-imagined Disney Magic.

This is one of the restaurants in the Rotational Dining schedule on the Disney Magic, meaning that for dinner it offers two seatings, one around 6 pm and another around 8 pm. Because of this, like all of the Rotational Dining restaurants, it’s a large venue that is built for high capacity.

In terms of ambiance, the beauty of the restaurant itself doesn’t match the overall ambiance. We ate here after having dinner followed by brunch at Palo as our first two Disney Cruise Line meals. We knew these intimate experiences weren’t representative of actual dining on the Disney Cruise Line, but it was still a bit of a contrast to go from those meals to the large, noisy, and frenetic Lumiere’s. Kids were having meltdowns after long days of activities (and those who weren’t were playing with swords in preparation for Pirate Night) and servers were rushing all over the place trying to keep every guest satisfied. No complaints here necessarily, both of these things are absolutely to be expected of a restaurant this large that is serving this many people.

By contrast, the actual theme and detail of the restaurant itself are elegant and beautiful. Besides a large mural on the back wall, the details are more evocative of Beauty and the Beast than they are directly pulled from the animated film. The Art Deco styling is beautiful, and the decor choices are generally quite pretty. A lot of this we didn’t even notice until we returned for breakfast the next morning and found the restaurant more or less empty. It was actually quite a romantic environment! This isn’t to say the environment is perfect, as it does feel like it could use a bit of a refresh, but overall it’s very solid.

As for food, we’ve come to the conclusion that dining at the rotational restaurants on the Disney Cruise Line is a highly variable experience since they have to serve so many people at a single time… (more…)

Star Wars Character Breakfast Review at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

star-wars-breakfast-sarah-tom-bricker

New for Star Wars Weekends 2014, Walt Disney World is offering Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This Star Wars character breakfast is available during the entire Star Wars Weekends “season” (in other words, weekdays in addition to the weekends) and features Star Wars characters roaming the “outdoor” drive-in theater at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. In addition to this Star Wars character breakfast, we also did the character dinner. For a look at that, check out our Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine Review.

Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast costs $47.99 for adults and $29.99 for kids ages 3-9, or two table service credits for those on the Disney Dining Plan. This meal does not accept Tables in Wonderland nor does it accept any other form of Walt Disney World discounts. Since it does require 2 credits, it is not a good use of Disney Dining Plan credits if you’re trying to maximize your value on the Disney Dining Plan. It will forever go down in the record books as the most expensive breakfast we’ve ever eaten. (ALERT GUINNESS! ;))

We have dined at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater previously, and absolutely love the ambiance (and, unlike many others, the food!). In fact, we like it so much that it is near the top our of Top 10 Themed Restaurants at Walt Disney World list. You can read more of my thoughts on the theming in those posts, but suffice to say, we are big fans of the ambiance at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater.

In this case, I was worried that the ambiance would be what would make the experience unpleasant. Since Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater is themed to be an outdoor drive-in set at night, it’s dark in there. And since it’s not actually nighttime during the meal (well, unless you eat there at night–but the restaurant is still indoors, so you get the idea), this theming is accomplished by way of lighting and a little Disney wizardry. A character meal in this setting means two things: flash photos and poorly lit photos. The former could potentially ruin the ambiance, while the latter is the probable result even when using a flash (since most people won’t be able to balance the ambiant light in their exposures).

Despite the exorbitant cost and the difficulty of photographing characters in Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, we loved the experience. This Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast in Disney’s Hollywood Studios review will cover why we enjoyed the breakfast, who it will be a good idea for, and who should probably skip it. We’ll also have some photo tips to help you get at least decent photos.

My concern was that Walt Disney World was shoe-horning this experience into Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater despite it not being a good spot for a character meal, because they wanted to put a Star Wars character breakfast somewhere in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and this was the most suitable location. It turns out that I was right and wrong. (more…)

Star Wars Character Dinner Review at Hollywood & Vine

sarah-tom-bricker-star-wars-character-dinner

New for Star Wars Weekends 2014, Walt Disney World is offering Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This Star Wars character dinner is available during the entire Star Wars Weekends “season” (in other words, weekdays in addition to the weekends) and features Disney characters dressed in Star Wars attire.

The Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine costs $55.99 for adults and $33.99 for kids ages 3-9, or two table service credits for those on the Disney Dining Plan. This meal does not accept Tables in Wonderland nor does it accept any other form of discounts (we’ve heard Disney Visa Cardholder discounts have been honored, but we forgot to bring our Disney Visa credit card!). It can also be done as a Fantasmic dining package for $59.99 (adults) and $36.99 (kids). This option is probably the way to go if you want to see Fantasmic. Since it does require 2 credits, it is not a good use of Disney Dining Plan credits if you’re trying to maximize your value on the Disney Dining Plan.

When the Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine and the Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast were announced, I decided to call immediately and make us reservations. The prices for these meals made me a bit uneasy, but I knew they were going to be fairly popular with Star Wars fans, so better to make the reviews and cancel later if we decided we just couldn’t stomach the prices. We wavered back and forth on canceling, but ultimately decided to bite the bullet and just do both meals. We love unique/special offerings at Walt Disney World, plus…we have to find something to blog about, right?! ;) Make sure to read our Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast Review, too!

We had never dined at Hollywood & Vine previously (well, I did long ago when it was not a character meal), mostly because it’s a meal with obscure (to us) characters that hold no interest for two adults with no children. Plus, the venue looks fairly dull. So, on the one hand, this meal presented an “opportunity” for us to dine in a place we normally wouldn’t. On the other hand, even with some mild Star Wars overlays, it was still a really uninteresting venue, especially by Disney’s Hollywood Studios standards. I don’t know what they’re going for with this place, but it reminds me of actual generic mess halls at which we’ve eaten at movie studios. I guess kudos for nailing that if that was the idea, although it’s probably a “theme” that should have never been attempted.

Despite this, we both were incredibly glad that we didn’t cancel either meal. This review of Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine will cover why we enjoyed it, who it will be a good idea for, and who should probably skip it. Let’s dig in! (more…)

Cafe Portofino Review

cafe-portofino-tokyo-disneysea-152

Cafe Portofino is a counter service buffeteria in Tokyo DisneySea’s Mediterranean Harbor. It’s a nice Italian option at the front of the park, and is one of the largest restaurants in the park. Tokyo Disney Resort’s official description of Cafe Portofino is that it originally was “a very small, unassuming restaurant, but it was so popular, the owners converted the fishing net repair shop next door into a dining area for their many Guests. In this rustic seaside Italian buffeteria, you can enjoy various delicious dishes.”

The description is mostly apt, as it appears more or less like an Italian restaurant with a port/fishing theme. We find Cafe Portofino to be a charming and surprisingly intimate restaurant for its size with a nice portside motif, but in terms of part of it being a restaurant and part being a converted fishing net repair shop, we don’t really see it.

There’s nothing at all wrong with that–it just doesn’t have the same level of transportive theming found elsewhere at Tokyo DisneySea. Still a very beautiful restaurant, but just not on the same level. (more…)