Tips for Finding Good Beer At Disney World

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Walt Disney World offers a number of craft beers and microbrews in its parks and resort hotels. This post offers tips for finding delicious beer at Walt Disney World, which can be a bit of a challenge. In addition to the normal BMC options you can find just about anywhere (besides the Magic Kingdom), there are some exceptional beers throughout Walt Disney World…you just need to know where to look.

Unlike wine, which (I’m told) Walt Disney World does pretty well–even touting things like their selection of South African wines at Animal Kingdom Lodge–the same effort isn’t put into having high quality beers. Most outdoor vending carts that serve beer at Walt Disney World have Bud Light, plus maybe a token alternative. Nothing against Bud Light–they are great at convincing people their beer is worthwhile with their astronomical marketing budget–but Bud Light is awful. Okay, so everything against Bud Light. BMC are sort of like the fast food of beers: okay options in a pinch, but probably few beer drinkers’ favorites if they had to choose. If Bud Light is your favorite beer, I’d encourage you to try a variety of other beers and give them a chance.

If you haven’t gathered from the remarks towards BMC, I’m sort of a beer snob. Coming from Michigan, I came of drinking age right around the time of the big explosion in craft brewing, with Bell’s opening its brewery ~10 miles from my house about a decade ago. Add to that other great options like Founders (every craft beer aficionado should attend a Kentucky Breakfast Stout release party at some time in their life), Arcadia, New Holland, Dark Horse, and many more, and my opinions of beer have really been shaped by living in one of the greatest beer state. Not really sure how this is relevant to the topic of the post, but I like giving props to my home state when I have the chance. Moving on…

When we first started visiting Walt Disney World as adults, there was a serious dearth of craft beer options, and the selection was laughable. If you wanted a good beer, you pretty much were stuck going to Le Cellier for some Unibroue. While that’s still a great option, Walt Disney World has recognized the growing discontent with BMC, and has incorporated better options into their menus. Things have improved substantially almost every year for the last ~5 years, and continue to get better. So props to Disney for that.

If you’re looking for great beer at Walt Disney World, here are some tips… (more…)

Walt Disney World Memorial Day Trip Report – Part 6

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On the last day of our Walt Disney World Memorial Day trip, we elected to go to Animal Kingdom. I had wanted to go there earlier in the trip, as the park was open until 8 pm over the weekend, which meant potential night photography there. That didn’t work out, so we were left with a half day in the park. We were both hoping for more time there, but it seems Animal Kingdom is often the park that draws the short straw from us, even if that isn’t our intention.

As you may know, I had a change of mind about Disney’s Animal Kingdom after spending more time than normal there last year, which I wrote about in the article “I Was Wrong About Disney’s Animal Kingdom.” That post was surprisingly popular (I think you all just like it when I’m wrong, but as Sarah will tell you, that’s fairly often) and I spoke more to the topic on the Animal Kingdom-centric podcast, Radio Harambe. While I no longer view Animal Kingdom as a half day park, it feels incomplete for me, and it’s missing that special something that I can just do over and over again to kill time.

Something like the PeopleMover, Country Bear Jamboree, or Carousel of Progress in Magic Kingdom, and American Adventure, Living with the Land, or Impressions de France in Epcot. About the closest thing Animal Kingdom has is eating Flame Tree BBQ ribs at the spot that overlooks Expedition Everest. This is probably largely because I haven’t spent enough time in Animal Kingdom to really feel an emotional attachment to anything in the park. It shouldn’t feel bad (assuming theme parks have feelings), as Disney’s Hollywood Studios is about the same for me. Although there I guess the Great Movie Ride sort of occupies that role. Sort of.

I am really hopeful that the boat ride that’s coming to AVATAR Land will fill that void. I remain in the approximately .5% of Disney fans who are actually optimistic about AVATAR Land. I’m by no means a fan of the movie (I thought it was mediocre at best), but it did have some truly beautiful environments that I think will transfer well to a theme park. This is why I’m looking forward to AVATAR Land. Like I’ve written countless times, I think ultimate quality transcends source material. Meaning, if the attractions are compelling and the land is beautiful, no one will care that AVATAR doesn’t really have a fanbase or wasn’t really that good of a movie. I’m not a fan of Cars, but I love Cars Land because the environment and main attraction are great. That’s not the best example because others love Cars, which could explain why the land is a hit. A better example is Splash Mountain. I wonder what percentage of guests have the slightest idea what the source material for it is, let alone how many have actually seen it. But I digress–I know I’m not going to change any minds with any of this, as AVATAR Land is one of those topics where you’re either ‘with us or are the enemy’.

We only had limited time in Animal Kingdom that morning and early afternoon, and that time included lunch at Yak & Yeti. Unfortunately, we hadn’t made FastPass+ reservations, so we jumped into the standby line for Kilimanjaro Safaris first thing. The posted wait was only 10 minutes…although that turned out to be more like 25. Oh well, it’s worth it. (more…)

Best Disney’s Animal Kingdom Attractions & Ride Guide

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is another park that is lean on attractions (and has unfairly earned a reputation as a half day park because of this), but has more than enough quality entertainment to fill a day. This guide to Disney’s Animal Kingdom attractions contains short reviews and numerical scores for every ride and show in the park. If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, it’s a great place to start when determining what and when you want to do various Animal Kingdom attractions, as well as how you should use your three FastPass+ in the park. Preferences vary, but we’ve tried to keep this as objective as possible with enough description so you’ll know whether particular attractions will appeal to your group.

This guide for Disney’s Animal Kingdom includes headliners and smaller attractions, plus shows and animal exhibits. We don’t recommend skipping any attractions based upon the advice of others if you have the time to experience them all (except Dinorama!), but be warned that this meager list of Animal Kingdom attractions is only deceptively meager, and will take a long time to complete. If you go at a slow pace or stop for table service meals, you won’t be able to do it all in a single day. This guide will help give you an idea of which Animal Kingdom rides and attractions are must-see for you, and which ones you won’t have time to do.

Even more than our Disney’s Hollywood Studios Guide (but unlike our Magic Kingdom Attraction Guide and Epcot Attraction Guide), you’ll notice that this one is very top heavy, with far fewer attractions on “The Rest” list. This is good and bad. It’s good because the good attractions at Animal Kingdom are really good, and most appeal to a broad audience. It’s bad because there still is a shortage of attractions at Animal Kingdom, and if a certain type of attractions don’t appeal to people in your party (namely, animal exhibits or shows), then your visit to Animal Kingdom might be over by noon.

This is where the half day park reputation comes in, and it usually comes from those who don’t give Animal Kingdom’s shows or animal exhibits a chance (it took me a long time to discover the beauty of Animal Kingdom, but I finally admitted being wrong about Animal Kingdom in this blog post). Just because you’ve experienced animal exhibits elsewhere does not mean you’ve experienced anything like these. Same goes for the shows (two of which aren’t even based on actual animals).

Beyond that, Animal Kingdom ranks right up there with World Showcase as an excellent spot to just relax and spend some time. Each of the lands (besides Dinorama) has a great sense of place to it, and the thematic execution is top notch, save for some criticism that it has too much real world “grit” and not the same sense of whimsy you might find from other Disney parks. It’s truly an exceptional “ambiance park,” and although it could use a shot in the arm in terms of rides that aren’t predicated upon living animals, it appears that won’t occur until around 2017 when Avatar Land opens. Still, it’s a great park, and definitely will be appreciated by the animal lovers in your group.
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Disney Dining Reviews Index

Walt Disney World and Disneyland Restaurant Reviews

Walt Disney World and Disneyland have hundreds of restaurant and dining options, which can be overwhelming for some people. To assist, we’re highlighting reviews of some fan-favorite Disney restaurants here. This page features links to each Walt Disney World and Disneyland restaurant we’ve reviewed, plus links for the Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disney Resort restaurants we’ve reviewed thus far. (Reviews for Hong Kong Disneyland Restaurants are coming soon.)

Each review features a detailed description of the restaurant, some useful information for it, several food photos, and our opinion (or opinions, plural, if the two of us disagree about a particular Disney restaurant) on the restaurant. At the end of each review, we assign a numerical score out of 10 to each restaurant, based upon its cuisine and ambiance. Unless the review explicitly states otherwise, we do not factor service into the score, as service varies so widely (even at the same restaurant on the same night) based upon a number of factors that we do not feel it useful to you to score a restaurant based upon our anecdotal service experience. As for the scores, think of them along the lines of letter grades you received in school. A score of 10/10 is an A+, a score of 8/10 is a B-, a score of 6/10 is a D-, (and so on), anything below a 6/10 is varying degrees of flunking. Scores are not listed for any restaurants located in international parks at this time, as we do not feel we have sufficient experience with these restaurants to give them numerical scores. We expect that to change as we try more options and revisit locations.

Please note that this page includes links to only restaurant reviews. We have a wide variety of other dining resources, including where to eat to maximize your savings on the Disney Dining Plan, where the best cupcakes, steaks, etc. are found, and a myriad of “Top 10″ dining lists. In many cases, these resources are more helpful than the reviews themselves. To find these resources for your destination, be sure to check out our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews & Resources or our Disneyland Resort Restaurant Reviews & Resources. Both of those pages include links to reviews, plus the other resources.

Click each restaurant name to read our full review of the restaurant, and see some photos of different items that each restaurant serves!

Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews

Walt Disney WorldEPCOTVia NapoliWhile not the best restaurant for value on the 2013 Disney Dining Plan, Via Napoli is a great place to eat in Epcot!

Resort Hotels

I Was Wrong About Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

If you’ve been a regular reader of this site, you’ve probably come across some of my posts regarding Disney’s Animal Kingdom that are fairly critical of the park. For a while, it was my least favorite park at Walt Disney World, and I’d say I was almost bitter at the park for squandering so much potential. This year, we have spent more time in Disney’s Animal Kingdom than in any previous year (given that we’ve visited Walt Disney World fewer times this year than in any past year, this should be doubly impressive), and I will admit that my opinion of the park has changed. In short, I was wrong about it.

Phrases like “I was wrong” are not the norm on the internet. The standard modus operandi is to establish a position, entrench oneself in that position, and refuse to relent no matter what countervailing reason and opinion are offered. Sorry, fellow internet commentators, if I’ve broken some sort of unspoken code of conduct by admitting that I was wrong. In my defense, while I will admit that I was wrong, I’m not saying I was totally wrong. In fact, I still think several of my specific points are valid. What I was wrong about were my general conclusions about the park, and my general demeanor and attitude towards it.

Let’s take a look at why I am now an Animal Kingdom fan. (more…)