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…)

IllumiNations Post Show: A World Showcase Stroll

Okay, so this isn’t really a post about the post-show to IllumiNations, but as I was listening to the “Evening at Epcot” music, I started thinking about how there are few experiences we enjoy more at Walt Disney World than strolling around World Showcase at night. In particular, we really like wandering around World Showcase after IllumiNations, when the park is closing and the crowds have cleared out.

World Showcase’s countries are inherently romantic, and there’s something special about being there late listening to the peaceful background music, walking hand-in-hand with someone you love through those beautiful environments, while few other guests are around. This is by far our number one World Showcase experience.

That may seem crazy since it’s not something you’ll find on a park map and isn’t really a “thing” at all, anyone who has ever done this probably understands. For us, Walt Disney World is about the little moments during which we enjoy the place and the presence of one another, and walking through World Showcase after IllumiNations is typically one of those little moments for us.

Since the restaurants in World Showcase make dining reservations until park closing and it takes some guests over an hour after park closing to finish their meals, you have some time to linger and slowly make your way out of the park. In fact, the best way to enjoy this tranquil walk through World Showcase at the end of the night is to make an 8:55 p.m. Advance Dining Reservation for a restaurant deep in World Showcase. By the time you’re done with your meal, you’re pretty much guaranteed one of these enjoyable walks out. Our top recommendation for this is Tokyo Dining, where you can enjoy a great view of IllumiNations, too, and is basically in the “middle” World Showcase, allowing you to see the most countries possible on your way out.

We understand that this late night stroll is not going to be possible for everyone for various reasons. Fortunately, while World Showcase is light on actual rides, it’s a great place to just experience, and actually has quite a lot to offer. This post definitely isn’t meant to be a definitive guide to Epcot’s World Showcase. Since we already have a Guide to Epcot Attractions, we’ll instead focus on some of the little things that many guests miss that we like most about World Showcase and random tips for having your own excellent evening in Epcot.

Let’s start out in Mexico and make a stop in each World Showcase country as we embark on our own (virtual) evening in Epcot. Hopefully you can apply some of these tips to your own World Showcase visit. Oh, and this post is best read while playing that “Evening at Epcot” music in the background… (more…)

Kringla Bakeri og Kafe Review

Kringla Bakeri og Kafe is a bakery and counter service restaurant in Epcot’s Norway at Walt Disney World. It has a menu with entrees, drinks, and desserts, but the real draw here is the desserts. Kringla is arguably the best bakery in Epcot, with a variety of popular snacks. These desserts include School Bread, which has a cult following, and Lefse, which should have a cult following. Kringla participates in the Disney Dining Plan, with options for using counter service credits and snack credits.

In terms of location, Kringla is located in the village-front between the Stave Church and the Norway gift shops (and the Frozen Princess Meet & Greet), and across from Akershus. Unlike the newly-opened Les Halles in France, Kringla Bakeri og Kafe is small. Essentially, you’re in the front door, through the line, and out the other to the covered, outdoor seating area. It’s definitely not a place you’ll want to go for a snack or meal if you’re looking to escape the weather. It’s popular for guests on the Disney Dining Plan and guests paying out of pocket, thanks to a variety of snacks with a range of prices.

While it’s technically counter service, Kringla is better known as a bakery. This is not to say that the limited menu of meal items is bad (quite to the contrary), it’s just that the desserts cast a pretty long shadow. We generally only get dessert here, but that’s usually because we’ve already eaten somewhere else or are disregarding proper nutrition and are Snacking Around the World Showcase, but can’t resist a Kringla dessert. The “regular” food at Kringla actually makes it one of the better World Showcase counter service menus.

There are several good bakeries in the Epcot area (“area” is intentional here as BoardWalk Bakery rivals the best of them!), but Kringla is definitely our favorite. It’s right up there with Sunshine Seasons (which also has a solid selection of desserts) as the restaurant we visit most at Walt Disney World. We probably stop at Kringla once per trip, and 50% of the time, we get the exact same thing. Still, over time we’ve sampled just about everything on the menu. (more…)

Spice Road Table Review

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Spice Road Table is a new tapas restaurant in Epcot at Walt Disney World. It’s located in the Morocco pavilion in the World Showcase, and offers waterfront views in an open area or indoor eating area. Technically table service, Spice Road Table has a Mediterranean menu and is priced between Tangierine Cafe and Restaurant Marrakesh in Morocco, skewing much closer towards Restaurant Marrakesh. Spice Road Table accepts neither the Disney Dining Plan nor Tables in Wonderland at present, but we anticipate it accepting Tables in Wonderland at a later date.

Spice Road Table continues a recent trend in the expansion of World Showcase dining options. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this, but when the only additions to World Showcase in recent years are La Cava del Tequila (2009), Via Napolia (2010), La Hacienda (2010), Tutto Gusto (2012), Les Halles Boulangerie and L’Artisan des Glaces (2013), with no substantive attraction additions or overhauls (excluding minor exhibits and games) since El Rio Del Tiempo became Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros in 2007, it’s a little troubling. This is especially true when the last bona fide new attraction added to World Showcase was Maelstrom in 1988. That’s over 25 years ago. We love some of these new dining options–La Cava del Tequila and Via Napoli are great–but the idea of paying admission to a theme park for the “privilege” of then paying more money for its new focus, dining, is frustrating. If the dining additions were coming step-in-step with attraction additions and plussings, we would applaud these new dining choices.

But we digress; Disney’s focus of increasing upcharge opportunities at Epcot instead of experiences included in theme park admission doesn’t bear on the quality of Spice Road Table itself. While it eats up more prime World Showcase lagoon waterfront space, it’s actually replacing a hodgepodge of “temporary” kiosks and looks far nicer than these kiosks. So at least there’s that small victory. (more…)