That’s what we’re here to find out! The Grand Floridian Cafe is well-known for its brunch, we should know as we previously answered the question, is it brunchtastic? We’re still waiting for Webster to confirm that brunchtastic will make it into the next edition of his famous book. EVOO did, so why not brunchtastic? Anyways, we’re here to answer the next big question about the Grand Floridian Cafe, is it a grandest of dinner times? After a fun-filled day in the parks, we’ve worked an appetite!
It’s the grandest of locations! See what we did there? This is our grandest review after all. Back on topic, we’re talking about the Grand Floridian Resort. Either a monorail or a boat ride away from the Magic Kingdom you’ll find the flagship resort of Walt Disney World. Entering the resort you’ll find the restaurant on the first floor towards the back left when facing Seven Seas Lagoon.
The restaurant is an indoor setting with the feeling of being outdoors. With views of the main courtyard, the dining area is lined with large glass windows that fill the area with natural light. We found the dining area to be well laid out with ample space between the tables, which creates a more intimate setting.
Passholder Insights: The waiting area for the Grand Floridian Cafe is shared with 1900 Park Fare and it can get confusing which check-in line is for which restaurant. On busy days it’s definitely worth asking a cast member to make sure you’re in the right line.
The Dining Room Presents…
Some times it just writes itself! Kick-offing our grandest dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe we opted for the cheese plate. We’re always suckers for a good cheese plate. With a collection of cheeses from around the world, brie from France, cheddar from the UK, and a bleu cheese from the US, the plate did not disappoint. Surprising to us was how the accoutrements were the real stars of the show. Served on the side were an apricot chutney, honey-comb, and carrot cake. Yes, carrot cake!
Each of the accoutrements made the cheese plate fantastic. The apricot chutney was perfectly sweet, yet not too sweet, to stand-up to rich creamy flavorings of the brie. Meanwhile, pairing the honeycomb with bleu cheese was delightful in so many ways. The floral aspect of the honeycomb worked well with pungent, upfront flavors of the bleu cheese. What stole the show had to be carrot cake. A dessert that could have easily been served by itself was truly delightful. For a real treat, pair it with cheddar. It doesn’t sound like it should work, but it definitely does!
Passholder Insights: In Epcot’s France pavilion at Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie is one of our favorite grab and go cheese boards. Pair it with your favorite French wine and you’re in for a treat.
Let’s eat! With a Florida inspired menu, it would only make sense to order the shrimp the grits. Right? The Grand Floridian Cafe version of the dish is definitely an evaluated variation from the norm. A half dozen jumbo shrimp are combined with chorizo and fennel, then served atop mascarpone cheese grits. We can’t decide what’s better the grits or gravy. Why not both! By adding the mascarpone cheese to the grits it created a richer flavor compared to traditional grits, which is exactly what the dish needed to stand up to bold spicy flavors of the chorizo. The shrimp were perfectly cooked. Often we find that shrimp tend to be overcooked and more on the rubbery side. Definitely not these shrimp. If you’re a fan of shrimp and grits and looking for a different spin on the dish, we’d definitely recommend this one. Best shrimp and grits at Disney World!
When you think Florida inspired menu, miso-glazed salmon is the first thing comes to mind right? No, most people would be thinking of fried chicken or meatloaf. Both of which came highly recommended by our waiter. On this night, we decided to take a chance and go off-script with miso-salmon. Guess what, we’re glad we did! Perfectly cooked salmon is served atop lemon-scented sticky rice, along with french green beans dressed in a ginger-soy vinaigrette. It’s a toss-up the star of the plate between the salmon and sticky rice. The subtle flavoring of the sticky rice was a welcome balance to the bolder flavors of miso glaze and ginger-soy vinaigrette. If you’re looking for a lighter dish, this is a fantastic choice. We’d order it again.
Passholder Insights: The Lobster Thermidor Burger is another of the famous dishes at The Grand Floridian Cafe. We previously tried at brunch and reviewed in the following article.
Why didn’t we go here sooner! Similar to Kona Cafe at the Polynesian Resort, the Grand Floridian Cafe definitely gets most of its hype for its breakfast options. We have to say we were very impressed with our dinner and would highly recommend it if you’re looking for a restaurant with a variety of classic dishes. The restaurant itself is perfect for families and great way to enjoy a meal before the Magic Kingdom fireworks or wrap a fun day at the parks. To answer our question, yes it was the grandest of times!
The Cove at Disney? Construction update? We thought construction at Disney World stopped to dueCOVID-19. True, Disney World did stop all construction projects due to social distancing, but. There is always a but. Why is there always a but? Anyways, The Cove at Disney World is not a Disney construction project. It is a new resort being built by another company. Alright, I think the stage is set, let’s dig into this The Cove at Disney construction update!
What Is The Cove?
A resort? Well, yes that is a given, Nate. Within Walt Disney World, not all resorts are owned and operated by Disney. In the Epcot resort area, both the Swan and Dolphin hotels are owned and operated by Marriott. With many people preferring to use their Marriott Rewards points to travel, in 1990 Disney decided to expand its hotel offerings to include Marriott hotels with the Disney resort benefits. In addition to the hotels, the Swan and Dolphin included larger conference spaces. The Cove will be an expansion to the Marriott footprint at Walt Disney World.
The Cove at Disney will be a 14-story hotel tower with 343 guest rooms. This boutique-style hotel is mainly being added to expand the overall available conference space for the Swan and Dolphin hotels and is focused on business travelers. Included within the new resort will be 22,000 square-feet of meeting space, broken down into two ballrooms, a rooftop reception space, and 12 meeting rooms.
Passholder Insights: When staying at the Swan and Dolphin hotels you can usually find better rates via hotels search tools over booking directly through Marriott or Disney World.
Why did the guest cross the road? To get to The Cove at Disney resort! Ba Dum Tss! Oh, the dad jokes. The new resort expansion for the Swan and Dolphin will be across the street from the main resort area next to Fantasia Gardens (the yellow area). Replacing the tennis courts, the resort will be a standalone resort with its own lobby, parking, dining, etc. What is still unknown is if the resort will have its own bus stop or if guests will use the stops located at the Swan and Dolphin. We believe it will have its own.
Passholder Insights: If you’re looking to head to Fantasia Gardens for mini golf we recommend taking a bus to either the Swan and Dolphin and it’s a short walk from there.
Breaking It Down
It’s all about the details! The glass-clad tower resort is a $150-million upgrade to the Swan and Dolphin resort area. The resort will leverage a lot of the dining options and amenities of the current area. However, The Cove at Disney will have a 90-seat restaurant atop the tower, along with a 50-seat lounge, both of which will have firework views of Hollywood Studios. The food continues on the second floor with a grab and go market and lobby bar serving up craft cocktails.
Beyond the food options, the resort will have a 16,800 square foot pool area, fully equipped with a fire pit, fountains, and an array of seating choices.
With Marriott leading the construction effort for The Cove at Disney, construction has not slowed. The new resort is projected to open on March 1, 2021. At the time writing the resort tower, has reached its halfway point in height. Doing a little quick math, that means the resort is currently seven-stories tall. Everything is currently on track to meet the resorts scheduled opening date. Once complete the Swan, Dolphin, and Cove resort area will be 2,600 guest rooms and 350,000 square feet of conference space, making the area the third-largest hotel at Walt Disney World.
Passholder Insights: The Swan and Dolphin are the only hotels at Walt Disney World that have a resort fee. When booking a room the resort fee is usually not included in the pricing.
We’d go to a conference there! Ok, let’s be honestly we would take any reason to go to Disney World. We’re excited to find out more about the restaurant and lounges at The Cove at Disney, especially since the current restaurants at the Swan and Dolphin are fantastic. Alright, construction update complete! As they say the building will go on!
Million-dollar question? More like $900 million dollar question! In The Walt Disney Company’s most recent earnings call, Bob Chapek mentioned there would be Disney World project delays in order to save the company around $900 million in spending this year. Many Disneyphiles around the globe are wondering what Walt Disney World projects delays should we expect thanks to no one’s friend, COVID-19. You don’t have a friend in us! Let’s take a trip around the world and what Disney World project delays we could see.
The $900 Million
The date, May 5, 20202. The place, The Walt Disney Company earnings call. On this date, we learned from Bob Chapek about the $900 million Disney is looking to save this year. First and foremost, it is important to understand what this year means in terms of Disney. The Disney year runs from Oct 1st to Sept 30th. When Bob Chapek mentioned saving $900 million this year, he is referring to the next six months.
Another key aspect to understand is how Disney recognizes expenditures as it relates to Disney park projects. To keep costs and spending down, Disney will usually spread the spending of updating or building of a new attraction over the course of many quarters. For example, if a project is expected to cost $80 million dollars to construct, we could see cost spread over 18 months or more, compared to a lump sum.
When Bob Chapek stated Disney would save $900 million we immediately knew there would we see Disney World project delays. More than likely not canceled, just delayed to when the projects would begin or would be completed. Additionally, with Disney having a multitude of projects around the world, the savings will also come from outside of Walt Disney World. The question now becomes which projects could be impacted at Walt Disney World.
The Magic Kingdom. We’re looking at you Tron Lifecycle Power Run. Slated to be the new cornerstone of Tomorrowland, the Tron coaster could see its opening pushed out further. From what we understand, the original plans were looking for the coaster to be completed within the first half of the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary celebration in 2021. It was meant to be one of the projects that drew guests to the parks earlier parts of the celebration. With the attraction being a mirror image of the Shanghai Disneyland attraction, Disney knew exactly how long it would take to construct the new attraction and there would not be any delays.
According to Jim Hill, of Jim Hill Media, Tron could be one of the attractions where we could see Disney World project delays take effect. With the attraction not within the park limits, it would be easy for Disney to slow construction progress to spread out the cost associated with the attraction and have minimal impact on the guest experience.
On to Hollywood Studios. After the completion of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and the opening of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the park has minimal construction projects. The one project mid-stream is the new Toy Story Restaurant. Our original estimates had the restaurant opening for the first half of the 50th anniversary celebration.
With recent opening of Regal Eagle Barbecue in Epcot’s American Pavilion and location of the Toy Story Restaurant Disney could easily pause the project. Currently everything is behind the scenes (off-stage, in Disney terms), Disney could easily pause the progress with no guest impact. Based on the current social distancing requirements for restaurant this is a project would make a lot of sense to delay.
It’s the one everyone has been waiting for, Epcot. Just prior to everything getting flipped upside down Epcot was in the early stages of its major overhaul. The multi-year project including changes throughout the park and now we could see Epcot having most Disney World project delays. Let’s go around the horn and start with the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. The first of its kind coaster includes scenes filmed by the movie’s cast. The plan called for the scenes to be filmed in conjunction with the filming of the third movie. This is a similar approach that Disney used with Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout in California. With the movie production facing delays, it is safe to assume the attraction will face delays as well. These scenes play a critical part in the attraction and until they can begin production on the movie, Disney is unable to create what is needed for the attraction.
Next door to the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is the Play Pavilion. The Play Pavilion has been one of the projects Disney has kept mostly under wraps. It is unknown when it could open, what the experiences will be, and everything in between. With the pavilion having gone used for many years prior to COVID-19 and every being 100% indoors, the Play Pavilion is an easy attraction for Disney to delay. There would be zero guest impact.
Off to the World Showcase Lagoon. When Epcot Forever debuted in Oct of 2019, everyone knew the nighttime show would be a temporary offering until HarmonioUS took its place. Epcot Forever was projected to have a 12-month run before making way. Now, it is looking like HarmonioUS could be delayed for some time. With social distancing being the new norm in the short-term, we would expect Disney to hold off on any nighttime shows in order to prevent “large gatherings” of guests. This could be one of the easiest Disney World projects delays to assume, as Disney will want to make a splash with the new nighttime show.
If there is one attraction that has the highest likelihood of being canceled it would have to be Mary Poppins. Since its announcement at D23 back in August of 2019, the project has been the most up in the air of any announced Disney World related attraction. With estimates of the attraction costing around $80 million to build, we could see this attraction being put back in the Imagineers file cabinet for a bit. This would similar to when Disney canceled the Main Street Theater in order to reallocate the money to other projects.
The time has come to tackle the project that is front and center at Epcot. We’re talking about the Epcot spine project or what will be known as World Celebration. With buildings already torn down and the Fountain of Nations removed, Disney will have a major decision to make as it relates to this area of Epcot. Currently, navigating Epcot is not easy and Disney planned to make updates to this section of the park as fast as possible. This is the one project impacting the guest experience. Rumors are floating around Disney could be looking a lighter version of the planned overhauled. We’ve heard everything from not opening Epcot for some time to finish construction to paving over the area in the short term, and even scraping the idea around the festival center building. With nothing confirmed by Disney, we’re saying everything is on the table. According to Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media, Imagineering is evaluating an array of potential options for the area.
There is one delay we should expect and that will be a major overhaul to Spaceship Earth. We’re projecting Disney to go one of two ways, either the lightweight update we spoke about a previous article or holding off altogether. We should know more come the end of May and the originally planned date for Spaceship Earth closing.
Disney World project delays will all depend on when Disney can reopen. There will be a definite balancing act Disney will have to consider, as many of these projects are expected to be headliners for the Walt Disney World 50th-anniversary. A portion of the $900 million in savings is occurring already with all construction being on hold. Additionally, another portion of savings is related to global construction projects like the Disneyland Marvel Campus being delayed. The remaining amount will come from slowing down these projects and potentially resuming normal construction efforts in October of 2020. For us, the next big question is how will this impact the 50th-anniversary celebration. But, that’s a question for another day or maybe next week. Hint, hint! Did we answer the $900 million question? Maybe, as Disney has not officially announced any Disney World project delays. For now, we’re off to work on that next article!
It’s the iconic drink of Disneyland! No, we’re not talking about the Blue Milk in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. We’re back with another installment of our Disney at home recipes. This time around we’re sharing a true classic in the Disneyland Mint Julep recipe. Alright, let’s shake up another drink, or should we stir it? I don’t which we should do we’ll have to go ask James, Bond that it is.
In the New Orleans Square portion of Disneyland, there are three places to find the Mint Julep. First is the Mint Julep Bar window at the French Market, second, being the Blue Bayou, and the last spot is Cafe Orleans. This refreshing, non-alcoholic, just tart enough beverage has been a go-to for Disneyland goers for years. Alright here is our Disneyland Mint Julep Recipe:
Mint Simple Syrup
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of mint leaves
3/4 cup of limeade
1/2 cup lemonade
3 tbsp of mint simple syrup
1 Lemon (cut into wedges)
Mint Simple Syrup
Add water and sugar to a saucepan
Muddle mints leaves
Add mint leaves to the saucepan
Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 10 minutes
Add ice to a cocktail shaker
Add limeade, lemonade and 3 tbsp of mint simple syrup
Shake until the cocktail shaker is too cold to hold
Serve over ice with a lemon wedge, maraschino cherry, and mint sprig to garnish
Variety it’s the spice of life. Below are a few variations and substitutions, feel free to make changes where you would like.
Replace mint simple syrup with creme de menthe liqueur (non-alcoholic)
Replace mint simple syrup with creme de menthe liqueur with alcohol (adult version)
Add 1.5 ounces of your favorite bourbon (adult version)
Add little Jazz music for background music and it’s almost like you’re there!
Blink and you may miss it! Miss what? One of the best Disney World ride photos. Every Disney World vacation is packed with great picture moments. From the quintessential photo in front of Cinderella’s Castle to capturing evidence that you saw the fast hunk of junk, and of course when you meet the mouse himself. In the DVC Duo house, some of our all-time Disney World photos are the on-ride photos. It got us thinking, what are our top three best Disney World ride photos? Let’s brush our teeth, so we can flash the pearly whites for the camera!
What Are On-Ride Photos?
It’s complicated (#sarcasm)! They’re photos taken of you while you’re on a ride. Select attractions around Walt Disney World have cameras hidden within the attraction to capture your instant reaction. Where the magic really happens is how Disney automatically (on-select attractions) links the photos to your My Disney Experience account via your Magicband and if you have Memory Maker you’re able to download and share your photos.
Passholder Insights: If you do not have a Magicband you can use your admission ticket to tap the touchpoint below on your photo at the attractions exit to link it to your My Disney Experience account.
Similar to a mic drop, a photo drop also involves falling. Kicking-off our best Disney World ride photos is a towering attraction at the end of Sunset Boulevard. We’re sure you can guess it, we’re of course talking about the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. What makes the Tower of Terror one of our best Disney World ride photos is the moment it captures. Not to spoil the ride, the photo captures the first few seconds of your thirteen-story plunge.
Brining the Tower of Terror photo to the next level is Memory Maker. In conjunction with the photo, Disney uses your on-ride photo to create a unique video of your experience. The video is available within My Disney Experience when you have the Memory Maker option.
Passholder Insights: Definitely keep your eyes open on the Tower of Terror. At the top of the attraction you get a fantastic view of Hollywood Studios.
More like flash beginning, but that does not roll-off the tongue as easily. Around the corner from our first stop is our second attraction making our best Disney World ride photos list. Let’s count it down together (in a Steven Tyler voice of course), 5…4…3…2…1…Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster. We love this on ride photo for one reason and one reason alone, Serena’s reaction! No matter how many times we ride Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, Serena’s expression is same every time. It has us wonder if Disney is photoshopping her reaction each time. Hmm…
For us, the on-ride photo for Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster accomplishes two things. First and foremost, it captures the “take-off” moment and rush of adrenaline everyone experiences. Second is the flash itself. The flash serves the purpose of taking your photo, but also makes this indoor dark coaster even darker. That flash of bright light makes the rest of ride seem pitch black.
Passholder Insights: Keep an eye out for the hidden Mickey at the end of the ride. You can see if while you wait to exit the ride vehicle.
Count It Down
You can’t take a picture without a count down, right? While topping our best Disney World ride photos use to have “countdown” in its name. What ride are we talking about? We’re talking about the ride formerly known as Countdown to Extinction, now better known as Dinosaur. It’s one of our favorite Animal Kingdom attractions. What makes the Dinosaur on-ride photo so great is the faces you can make. Yes, we are those people who pose for the photo!
In the DVC Duo house, our all-time favorite Dinosaur photo came when Serena surprised everyone with her pose of “fake scared”. After years of photos of her being scared, it’s a moment we’ll never forget. We could not stop laughing when the photo came up.
Passholder Insights: The shortest way to Expedition Everest is to take the bridge through Dinoland USA and stay to the left and head pass Finding Nemo the Musical.
There are tons of great on-ride photos that were not mentioned. We are looking at you Expedition Everest and Splash Mountain. For us, the on-ride photos are what make our Disney World vacation so great. We’re always pulling them up and remembering our adventures. Alright, best Disney World ride photos list complete! We’re off to think of our next great pose for Dinosaur!