The Plaza Restaurant Review

The Plaza Restaurant as seen from the Tomorrowland bridge. It may come as a surprise, but we aren't fans of the Plaza. Here's our review: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/plaza-restaurant-review/


Tucked away behind the Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street USA in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, the Plaza Restaurant is in what would seem to be a high traffic area, yet it never seems to be too busy–at least not when we’ve stopped by. Perhaps this is because it’s a high traffic area when people are entering and exiting the Magic Kingdom, and at those times, a table service meal isn’t crossing the minds of most guests. The Plaza Restaurant’s menu consists of mostly American deli and soda-fountain classics, and is actually a lot like the Magic Kingdom’s version of Beaches & Cream.

The Plaza Restaurant participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a one credit table service meal. It also accepts the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount. We always pay out of pocket when dining here, as this restaurant is a terrible value on the Disney Dining Plan (click to see top restaurants for maximizing your bang for buck on the Dining Plan) because the restaurant is so inexpensive.

In terms of ambiance, the Plaza Restaurant is basically a simplistic soda fountain with Victorian and Art Nouveau stylings. Its interior is very light and airy, with a lot of natural light plus some pretty, yet understated design flourishes. It’s not going to win any awards for being one of the best themed restaurants at Walt Disney World, but I would definitely call its design intimate and charming. Plus, it’s fun when the Mayor stops in to entertain guests or sing ‘Happy Birthday.’ (more…)

101 Delicious Disney World Dining Tips

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There are a lot of restaurants at Walt Disney World and dining can be an important and fun part of any Disney trip. In fact, the single largest component of Walt Disney World vacation planning typically is (or at least should be) dining. Beyond just making “good” Advance Dining Reservations and purchasing the Disney Dining Plan, there are a lot of things that can save you time and money, or improve your Walt Disney World experience just based on little decisions–or big ones–that you make with regard to where you eat at Walt Disney World.

Many of you have loved our 101 Great Walt Disney World Tips post, and since dining is such a big thing, we thought we would see if we could follow that up with one specific to dining. This was no easy task. While there are literally 1,000 tips we could share based on our experiences eating at Walt Disney World, many of those would be hyper-specific, probably too specific, and thus not things we really thought would be good for more than a few slots on the list here and there.

Rather than a list with tons of menu recommendations and things like that, we decided to come up with 101 random tips based upon our experiences in years of dining in nearly every restaurant at Walt Disney World that would be helpful to most readers. These tips consist of both fundamental, high level tips (like the necessity of making ADRs) and some more specific tips (like what to order for breakfast at Roaring Fork).

You’re going to find that some of these tips aren’t applicable to you–that’s probably a good thing, as following 100+ tips just relating to dining on a single Walt Disney World trip would probably take a bit of tenacity. You may also disagree with some of these tips, but such is the nature of such a list, which offers subjective tips.

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We do want to point out that many of these tips were submitted by fans of the Disney Tourist Blog Facebook page. We mention this not to say “thanks” but as a follow up to that last point about you possibly disagreeing with some tips. If you do disagree with any of the tips here, they are definitely the tips submitted by readers. The tips with which you agree are the ones I thought up. ;)

Just kidding on that–and a huge thanks to the readers who offered their two cents. Although this list is 95% things we thought of, there were several comments that corroborated our tips, and other pretty clever ideas we had never considered. Plus, it’s always helpful to get multiple perspectives when it comes to anything Walt Disney World-related. On that note, if you have some tips of your own that we didn’t cover, please help others out and share them in the comments!

We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started with our list of 101 Delicious Walt Disney World Dining Tips… (more…)

Top 10 Best Themed Disneyland Paris Restaurants

Disneyland Paris was built with stunning attention to detail, and this is carried through to the themes of its restaurants. During our time in Disneyland Paris, we spent a lot of time exploring the restaurants–even if we didn’t eat at them–to appreciate fully their depth and character. We thought it would be fun to put together a list of 10 that we think have some of the best themes. However, since we were not able to visit every restaurant (some were either closed or table service restaurants that didn’t allow stray guests inside), this is not a top 10 list in the traditional sense. Rather, it’s the top 10 of the ones we saw, which were most, but not all of them.

Ranking the restaurants for theme was not particularly easy. I almost called this the “Top 10 Cool Disneyland Paris Restaurants” because I think some of the restaurants on this list aren’t so much themed as they are beautifully decorated, but I ultimately decided against it because I think “cool” is a hokey buzzword. Some restaurants are arguably not themed, as they convey their backstory or motifs through conspicuous design choices, props, art, and photos on the wall. Other restaurants are truly themed in the sense that they are meant to transport you to another time and place, making the guest a part of the “story” or whatever you want to call it. Regardless, I think you probably understand what is meant by “themed” and hope no one is too nitpicky with the term given that Disney often uses it very broadly, too.

An important note is that this list focuses solely on theme. Food-quality does not enter the equation at all with our rankings of the restaurants. While Disneyland Paris is a beautiful, highly immersive theme park that excels at many things, food preparation is not one of those things. This is both shocking and disappointing given its proximity to one of the culinary hotspots of the world, but c’est la vie.

With that said, so much of the Disney experience is about theme and sense of place. As a result, if you’re visiting Disneyland Paris, we recommend trying a few of these restaurants despite our comments about food quality, as you’d be missing a big part of the overall experience if you skipped them and ate every meal at Earl of Sandwich. Weeks after you visit a Disneyland Paris restaurant, you or your kids probably won’t be raving about one burger versus another, demanding that you phone Zagat immediately. However, you will probably fondly recall dining in a room based on concept art for Discoveryland/Tomorrowland for a long time. Such is the nature of a meal at Disneyland Paris–the food at a restaurant should be important, but it’s really not. 

Let’s dig into the top 10 Disneyland Paris restaurants for theme… (more…)

Cinderella’s Royal Table Review

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Cinderella’s Royal Table is a table service princess character restaurant inside Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. This review features food photos and our thoughts from dinner at the restaurant. Disney considers Cinderella’s Royal Table a “Fairytale Dining Experience,” which I think just refers to the fact that you can meet Cinderella and other visiting princesses here. The meal also includes a print of your party and Cinderella taken by PhotoPass photographers. The menu consists of American cuisine that is almost fine-dining caliber. This is actually quite a surprise given that it’s a character meal. It’s arguably the flagship restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, and the most uniquely “Disney” restaurant in all of Walt Disney World.

Due to some ADR-hoarding a number of years ago by a group called “Howie’s Angels,” (nothing surprises me in Disney fandom anymore) Cinderella’s Royal Table requires prepayment in full for secure an Advance Dining Reservation. Despite this, it accepts Tables in Wonderland for a 20% discount  (you receive a refund when you present your card in the restaurant for the amount of the discount), and participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a 2-credit Signature meal. Due to its status as a Signature Restaurant, it is not a good use of a Disney Dining Plan table service credit if you’re trying to maximize your value on the Disney Dining Plan.

With Be Our Guest Restaurant now being the top draw in the Magic Kingdom, Cinderella’s Royal Table ADRs are now easier to score. For years we had no chance at dining here as the restaurant booked up a full 180 days in advance, and we never make ADRs that early. I found this reservation a month before our trip, so we figured ‘what the heck,’ it would be awesome to dine in Cinderella Castle. We had previously been inside the Castle, but that was for a tour of the Cinderella Castle Suite, so…not quite the same.

We cringed at the cost and the idea of paying for a photo package we didn’t really want, and for meeting characters we didn’t really have an interest in meeting. Still, we booked it because it was something new to try, and I really wanted to photograph and see the inside of the restaurant, which I’ve always thought was really cool. I can still remember looking in the Walt Disney World book I had as a kid and seeing the star-filter enhanced photo of King Stefan’s Banquet Hall, and thinking how awesome it would be to eat inside Cinderella Castle. We further justified eating at here despite the price in the name of research, as many people have asked us about this restaurant. 

So, although we figured it wouldn’t be worth the money to us, we convinced ourselves to give it a try anyway. We were downright shocked by the restaurant… (more…)

Miguel’s El Dorado Cantina Review

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Miguel’s El Dorado Cantina is a Mexican restaurant in the Lost River Delta port-of-call at Tokyo DisneySea. This is the only restaurant with a Mexican menu at Tokyo Disney Resort, so if that’s what you’re after, this is your only choice. Styled like a weathered cantina in the remote jungle, Miguel’s El Dorado Cantina is aged to look as if it has seen better days. Like most of the Lost River Delta, it seems like nature is slowly reclaiming the land occupied by the restaurant. We’ve heard that a mariachi band performs at Miguel’s El Dorado Cantina, but we have not witnessed this the two times we’ve visited.

The backstory here is that the owner Miguel went to El Dorado (the “City of Gold”) with dreams of finding a mountain of gold, but was unsuccessful in his quest for riches. I guess the logical alternative was to open this Mexican restaurant for other explorers?

One thing that boggles my mind about Tokyo DisneySea is that it has so many large restaurants with insane capacity. I understand that the park draws a lot of guests, but there are at least 6-8 counter service restaurants here with more capacity than most restaurants at Walt Disney World or Disneyland. Miguel’s is one such restaurant like this, with two levels of seating, plus outdoor seating. This is really something given that it’s located deep in the Lost River Delta, the port-of-call farthest away from the park’s entrance.

Add to that the fact that it’s one of two counter service restaurants in Lost River Delta with Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe-level capacity (the stated capacity of Cosmic Ray’s is significantly higher than these, but there restaurants appear larger to me), and you’ve really got to wonder why there’s so much capacity. We dined here on a weekend when Tokyo DisneySea was near hitting capacity, and even then the majority of tables here were empty. (The same cannot be said for Cape Cod Cook-Off a/k/a “The Duffy Restaurant,” which has a huge seating area, but had an hour-plus wait.) (more…)