Top 5 Bakeries at Disney World

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Fans of baked goods and desserts rejoice, as here’s our top 5 best bakeries at Walt Disney World! All participate in the Disney Dining Plan with both snacks and counter service meals offered. Notable about this list is that every single location here is located in the Crescent Lake Resort Area (or Epcot Resort Area), with no locations being in the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or any of the resort hotels in the area.

While the Magic Kingdom used to have one of the best bakeries in the Main Street Bakery, since it converted to a Starbucks location, its menu has been a subpar and generic mix of Starbucks desserts, and options like Gaston’s Tavern and Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery simply have too thin of menus to really compete with the other entries on this list. In fact, outside of the locations on this list, there are few spots at Walt Disney World with enough menu options to really qualify as standout bakeries. There are many spots with a couple of standout items, but few locations with heavy-hitting bakery menus.

As big fans of desserts and sweets, this is a bit disappointing, although probably a good thing for both our wallets and our waistlines, as it’s probably for the best that we can’t do a daily “Walt Disney World Bakery Hop” on our trips. As much as we might lobby for cupcakes being made their own food group at the top of the food pyramid, you’re still only “supposed” to have 4 servings of cupcake per day, and we would definitely exceed that amount if more bakeries would around Walt Disney World. ;)

With that said, here is our list of the top bakeries at Walt Disney World. Below each pick is a brief synopsis as to why it makes the list… (more…)

Chefs de France Review

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Les Chefs de France is a table service restaurant in Epcot’s France pavilion at Walt Disney World. This review covers the dinner menu at Les Chefs de France, and includes photos from one of our meals at the restaurant. Chefs de France participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a one credit table service meal, and accepts the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount for lunch only. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, it is an exceptional pick for dinner because of several pricey entrees, making it one of the top restaurants for maximizing your bang for buck on the Dining Plan.

How do you say “meh” in French? Well, my French is a bit rusty, but I’m thinking it’s something along the lines of les chefs de france. We’ve been to Chefs de France a couple of times in recent years, and both times the experience was roughly the same. Overpriced, so-so food and alright ambiance together culminating in a restaurant that is sort of French. It’s not that Chefs de France is a bad restaurant. It’s really not.

Like about half of the World Showcase, it’s just an ‘okay’ experience. You might walk away having had a pretty decent meal, but it’s probably nothing that will knock your socks off, and it’s not the kind of highly authentic experience that will make you ‘lose yourself’ in the theming of the World Showcase. I think Boulangerie Patisserie les Halles and certainly the former Bistro de Paris really succeeded in these regards and are/were two of the gems of not just Epcot, but the entirety of Walt Disney World. Given that, I’m not sure if with Les Chefs de France it’s just my bad luck, or if it just is an okay restaurant.

So what’s the deal with Les Chefs de France? Let’s take a look… (more…)

Epcot ‘Frozen’ Over – Wish List

UPDATE: Disney has officially announced that Maelstrom will be replaced by a Frozen attraction, with Maelstrom closing September 5, 2014 and the new attraction opening in early 2016. The new ‘Frozen’ attraction will take our guests to Arendelle and immerse them in many of their favorite moments and music from the film. The pavilion will also include a royal greeting location where Anna and Elsa can meet our guests. With that, here’s our original post written prior to the announcement that predicted a Frozen attraction coming to Norway, and what we’d like to see happen if one came…

There was a time when Disney characters in World Showcase seemed less likely than pigs flying or…uh…certain ‘things’ freezing over. Well, it seems Epcot’s Norway is about to be Frozen over. Rumors are indicating that Maelstrom will close on September 28, 2014 to make way for a Frozen attraction, which would essentially be a quick conversion of Maelstrom into a Frozen attraction, rather than an entirely new attraction in its place. These possible plans have already proven quite divisive among Disney fans. The consensus among EPCOT Center fans is that Maelstrom should not be replaced by anything-Frozen, which is not set in Norway and is disrespectful to World Showcase. Fans of the addition are generally excited about anything coming to World Showcase, which has had plenty of restaurants and shops added over the years, but hasn’t seen a new attraction since Maelstrom in 1988.

I’m a big fan of movies, and one thing that really fascinates may is how the critical consensus of a film can radically differ from the audience consensus. In terms of Disney attractions, I think the same often happens in terms of the fan consensus versus the average guest consensus. If I had to guess, I would say Maelstrom is in the top 5 in terms of the differential (sadly, it’s probably right there with other favorites of mine like Country Bear Jamboree, Carousel of Progress, and the TTA) between the hardcore fans and the average guests. For many Disney fans, Maelstrom is quotable, campy fun–even a classic attraction. For average guests, it’s a puzzling look into a land inhabited by trolls, anorexic polar bears, and oil rigs.

I love Maelstrom, but I also don’t think it’s a well-done attraction. For me, it’s so bad it’s good. Perhaps I’m not winning any friends with this sentiment, but if you’re a fan of Maelstrom, why do you like it? Do you really think that it’s a well done attraction, or is it just nostalgic fun?

Since I already am not making friends with this blog post, I’ll go a step further: I don’t mind Frozen being added to Norway in World Showcase. Before you throw your shoe at your computer screen, there are some caveats to this, so hear me out… (more…)

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…)

Restaurant Marrakesh Review

Restaurant Marrakesh is a table service restaurant in Epcot’s World Showcase at Walt Disney World. This Restaurant Marrakesh review covers lunch at the Moroccan restaurant, which seems fairly similar to dinner. Just compare the menus for yourself–the Morocco Pavilion actually has great menu pages with photos of each entree to help you decide what you might like before you visit. As you can see, there are a lot of similarities and only a few differences between the lunch and dinner menus. The biggest difference seems to be that lunch is significantly less expensive.

Restaurant Marrakesh participates in the Disney Dining Plan, and accepts Tables in Wonderland for a 20% discount. It can be a good use of a Disney Dining Plan table service credit if you’re trying to maximize your value on the Disney Dining Plan, but only at dinner and only if you order one of the few expensive menu items. At lunch, it’s an incredible value when paying out of pocket, with a few items that are only slightly above counter service prices. 

Before our recent visit, we had never given this Moroccan restaurant much thought because it doesn’t really seem to be on anyone’s radar. It’s not that we have ever really come across memorable negative reviews of this restaurant…we just have never really come across many reviews of it, period, and most we have encountered have only been vaguely positive. This was easy to understand when we stepped inside, as the restaurant was 50% full, at most. The reason it’s not on anyone’s radar is because very few guests are eating there!

Since Restaurant Marrakesh is probably one of the least popular restaurants at Walt Disney World in terms of guest demand, it is a great last minute ADR of walk-up place to eat. We think it’s low popularity can probably be attributed to two factors: 1) Restaurant Marrakesh is located deep in the Morocco pavilion, which is a pretty deep pavilion; and, 2) the cuisine at Restaurant Marrakesh, while mild enough for most palates, is probably the most ostensibly adventurous restaurant in World Showcase. This much is clear when you see the photo-heavy menu on display on a table in front of the restaurant that tries to entice the limited foot-traffic inside. Given the World Showcase shift towards more dining that is “accessible” to families in the last several years, it’s actually a bit surprising that Restaurant Marrakesh still exists as it does.

“Restaurant Marrakesh is my favorite restaurant in Epcot.” I don’t think that’s a sentence I’ve ever heard spoken or seen written by anyone. Well… Restaurant Marrakesh is my favorite restaurant in Epcot. (more…)