Old Port Royale Food Court Review

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Old Port Royale Food Court is the quick service dining at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort at Walt Disney World. This review features food photos and my thoughts on the menu, among other things. Old Port Royale has multiple ordering “shops”, so its menu has plenty of options. In terms of money-saving info, it participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a 1-credit counter service restaurant, but does not accept the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount.

I want to start this review out with a little “keepin’ it real” for context. No one is booking a Walt Disney World vacation because they are itching to get back to Old Port Royale for another Cuban Burger. This isn’t even the Le Cellier of counter service–it’s not a place people hype up on all corners of the internet. Even Caribbean Beach superfans don’t become giddy thinking about enjoying the pleasant breeze while lounging at the food court.

This review is aimed solely at those who are going to be staying at Caribbean Beach Resort and wondering if they should skip the food court or give it a try. While I think that Old Port Royale Food Court is underrated–even a hidden gem, the fact of the matter is that no one staying elsewhere at Walt Disney World should plan a special trip to Caribbean Beach Resort to try this gem. I don’t want you to read the praise that follows and make the pilgrimage from the Polynesian to Caribbean Beach, and in the process waste so much time that you end up on an episode of “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong.

So, yeah, this is a food court review only relevant to those staying at this Walt Disney World resort hotel. Exciting stuff. Don’t worry, I’ll try to liven it up with some big budget theatrics and hilarious* comedy jokes… (more…)

Top of the World Lounge Review

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Top of the World Lounge is a bar in Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort that offers sweeping views of Walt Disney World comparable to those of California Grill. It’s more or less exclusively for Disney Vacation Club members, although there are some exceptions to that “rule.” In this post, we’ll take a look inside the Top of the World Lounge, and share some thoughts and photos of their light menu.

The requirements for admission to the Top of the World Lounge are shrouded in mystery. Basically, you show up to the downstairs check-in desk, are asked a series of questions to test your wits, and are allowed up if deemed worthy by the guardian of the sacred order of the Disney Vacation Club. Well, sort of.

The official word on gaining entrance to Top of the World Lounge is this: Disney Vacation Club Members staying at any Disney-owned-and-operated hotel at Walt Disney World Resort (whether they booked with vacation points or cash) may enjoy access.” Blockout dates apply, and are basically the evenings when there are 360-degree fireworks shows (New Year’s and Independence Day, plus the days before) and whenever else special events are planned. This rule has been relaxed a couple of times already, probably due to the fact that the Top of the World Lounge is almost never even remotely busy. I’ve gained entrance to Top of the World Lounge every single time I have tried by showing my Disney Vacation Club Member ID, and that includes the Fourth of July. Your mileage may vary.

With that said, is it worth the effort to head up to this ghost town of a lounge? Let’s take a look… (more…)

Cookes of Dublin Review

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Cookes of Dublin is a counter service restaurant in Disney Springs at Walt Disney World. It’s probably best known as the companion dining option to Raglan Road, an Irish pub that has gained tremendous popularity among Disney fans. The menu here has a ton of options, from Irish pies to fish & chips and more. In terms of money-saving info, it participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a 1-credit counter service restaurant, but does not accept the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount.

As with Raglan Road, Cookes of Dublin is similarly highly-regarded with Walt Disney World guests, and this is in large part because it serves unique cuisine, with a few items that you can’t get elsewhere. This is also due to its exceptional value on the Disney Dining Plan for a few menu items. It probably also doesn’t hurt that it’s one of the few counter service options at Disney Springs, which is mostly known for its table service offerings.

I note all of this acclaim because it’s only fair to point out that a lot of people really, really love Cookes of Dublin (at least if “the internet” is any indication) before I offer up a fairly critical review. Maybe this is one of those, Dear Cookes: it’s not you, it’s me reviews… (more…)

Be Our Guest Restaurant Breakfast Review

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Be Our Guest Restaurant in New Fantasyland now serves breakfast! This review features photos and our thoughts on breakfast here, including whether it’s a good value, and to whom breakfast at Be Our Guest Restaurant might most appeal. For starters, Be Our Guest Restaurant is the spot we’ve named the best counter service option in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World–for lunch, at least. The restaurant is set inside Beast’s Castle and themed to the various rooms from said castle in Beauty and the Beast. It’s a 2015 Disney Dining Plan participant as a one-credit counter service restaurant for breakfast, which actually makes it one of the best counter service values when on the Disney Dining Plan. You can read more background about the restaurant in our Be Our Guest Restaurant Lunch Review.

Demand for Be Our Guest Restaurant has been high since it opened with the first phase of the New Fantasyland expansion, and a couple of years later, it still hasn’t really died down. This is in large part due to the cool setting, which makes it one of the best themed restaurants at Walt Disney World. However, as is true of much of what ails the world, I blame the internet. Irresponsible bloggers have written about the difficulty of scoring Be Our Guest reservations and others have hyped this into the new “it” Walt Disney World restaurant. Like Cinderella’s Royal Table and Le Cellier before it, Be Our Guest Restaurant has become more popular by virtue of its popularity, as everyone wants to get into the restaurant that is difficult to get into (only the finest syntax here on DTB). In other words, its popularity is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It only makes sense that Disney has responded to said prophecy by finding a way to open the restaurant for another meal. While I was personally hoping for “Fourth Meal” seatings catered by Taco Bell, I guess breakfast will have to suffice. This gives more guests the chance to enjoy the fun setting of Be Our Guest Restaurant and allows Walt Disney World to sell more meals.

Seems like a definite win-win…OR IS IT?! (more…)

T-Rex Cafe Review

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T-Rex Cafe is a dinosaur-themed table service restaurant in Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World that is aimed primarily at families with small children. It is literally set in a prehistoric world, with meteor showers and giant prehistoric creatures including dinosaurs and Woolly Mammoth. The cuisine is primarily standard American fare that will appeal to a broad cross-section of guests (menu). T-REX is a 1-credit restaurant on the Disney Dining Plan, but does not accept Tables in Wonderland. However, it does offer a 10% Annual Passholder discount.

To give some context to this review, I should probably introduce you to someone. Meet 8-year old…let’s call him “Lom.” A fan of dinosaurs since first learning about them via some seriously awesome fruit snacks (and trading cards that came with them) that he consumed like they were one of the 4 food groups (back then, there were only 4 food groups!), he experienced an event that forever shaped the future of the United States: Jurassic Park debuted in theaters. After watching–and re-watching…and re-watching…and–this masterpiece, he became obsessed with dinosaurs. Virtually all money he earned from chores was used to purchase Jurassic Park playsets; he made Jurassic parks out of LEGOs; he even created an “extra credit” mural in school that consisted of painting various dinosaurs and writing facts about them underneath (banish the thought that he was a teacher’s pet–one teacher made the incisive comparison of him to Calvin from Calvin & Hobbes, which was probably not praise). Suffice to say, dinosaurs weren’t just an interest, they were a way of life.

In case it’s not readily apparent, 8-year old “Lom” is me, circa 1993. Had this restaurant existed during my annual visits to Walt Disney World in the 1990s, I would have begged my parents to dine here. My mind would have been blown so hard I probably would have had to go to the ER. It would have been the highlight of my trip, and I would have evangelized to all of my friends back at school about “the most amazing restaurant ever,” imploring them to implore their parents to take a pilgrimage to this place that transcended its understated ‘restaurant’ label.

As an adult, I am still an avid dinosaur enthusiast. If I were ‘campaigning’ for a post with Imagineering, my platform would be “more dinosaurs” (and lasers). I can think of literally nothing at Walt Disney World that couldn’t be improved exponentially by the addition of copious amounts of dinosaurs. Frankly, I am distrustful of anyone who doesn’t think it’s a good idea to reallocate all of the money we spend on “science” towards finding ways to bring back the dinosaurs.

With that said, for all of my love of dinosaurs, I also dislike Rainforest Cafe. T-REX is by the same folks as Rainforest Cafe–Landry’s–which is also a restaurant group I strongly dislike (as anyone who has read my Yak & Yeti Review knows). I also have disliked Downtown Disney since Pleasure Island closed, although I find my position on this shifting as Disney Springs is taking shape and starting to look nice.

So basically, my intense passion for dinosaurs competed with three things I disliked, and the “dislikes” won out. UNTIL NOW… (more…)