Aulani Makahiki Character Breakfast Review

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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…)

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

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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

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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

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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…)

Earl of Sandwich Review (+Hotel Stay Giveaway!)

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Earl of Sandwich is a sandwich shop in Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris. There are also a few other locations, mostly at airports, around the United States. The restaurant has developed a cult following among Disney fans, particularly for its inventive “Holiday Turkey Sandwich,” which is basically like a mash-up of Thanksgiving dinner in a sandwich.

Each of the Earl of Sandwich locations are unique, but they share the same common backstory. It’s an interesting story that combines true historical figures (yes, there really were Earls of Sandwich) like John Montagu, the supposed inventor of the sandwich in 1762, with a bit of fiction–or perhaps just a bit of truth-stretching–about the history of the sandwich. It is true that Earl of Sandwich’s founder is a descendent of John Montagu, but it’s unclear how many other parts of the story are true. Regardless of what’s true and what’s imagined, it’s nice in that it makes Earl of Sandwich more than just a generic sandwich shop. The paintings of the various Earls of Sandwich, antique books, and things like the “Sandwich Charter” all on the walls give the various locations their own unique wrinkles.

The Earl of Sandwich at the Downtown Disney location in Walt Disney World is always incredibly busy, likely because of its inexpensive price, good sandwiches, and very positive word of mouth. We’ve heard from many Walt Disney World fans who make special trips to Downtown Disney just to visit Earl of Sandwich! Given its prominence at Downtown Disney in Walt Disney World, we think this Earl of Sandwich review is the perfect place to kick-off our second Downtown Disney Area Resort hotel giveaway. Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter! (more…)