Columbia Harbor House Lunch Review

One of the must try restaurants for me this trip was Columbia Harbor House!  I am a huge fan of seafood and this is the go to place in the Magic Kingdom for that.  This quick service location is in Liberty Square, just look for the cast member ringing a bell.

I mentioned seafood but that is not the only thing on the menu, there are salads, chicken pot pie, macaroni and cheese, and soups.

dscn3881For lunch I was torn between two options, luckily Jamie felt the same way and we agreed to split the two.  The first one was the Lobster Roll with potato chips this was a hearty serving with lots of lobster and not a lot of filler.  The roll it came on was so soft and delicious as well.  I give this one thumbs up!  The other choice was the Anchors Aweigh Sandwich with chips.  This was a tuna sandwich with lettuce and tomato on a toasted multigrain bread.  This was even better than the lobster roll.  I really really loved this.  The tuna was very plentiful and the bread made the sandwich even better.  I give this one 2 thumbs up and I would get it again! 

Jamie: I was so happy Jillian wanted to split our options for lunch, too! I couldn’t decide and really wanted both, but obviously didn’t want to eat both. I’d previously had the lobster roll so I knew it was good, but I really enjoyed the tuna sandwich, maybe even more so than the lobster. Plus the house chips are really delicious! Both of these options are miles above the “typical” counter service restaurants most people think of. While I enjoy a good burger and fries at Disney, having options like these at Columbia Harbor House really make even quick dining at Disney really enjoyable.


Tara: I had the chicken pot pie with steamed broccoli and since I thought that was super healthy I splurged and had the blackberry cobbler for dessert. The chicken pot pie and broccoli were really good and filling. I could not even finish the pot pie because I needed to save room for the cobbler which was a huge hit. The cobbler was topped with a vanilla cream that was perfect and made it worth the broccoli side at lunch. I definitely recommend visiting Columbia Harbor House!

Shannon: I had the chicken and fish plate.  The fish was very good and cooked perfectly.  The outside is crispy and light and the fish inside was very tender.  The chicken nuggets are the same chicken nuggets you find in other areas of the parks and they are very good for what they are.  The fries are basically the same as what you’d find anywhere else in the parks and that’s fine with me because I love them.  I was not very crazy about the cole slaw that was included, but it wasn’t bad.  I’m just picky about my slaw.  Overall, I really enjoyed this meal.

This is a popular place so go early or a little later in order to avoid a long wait time or lack of seating.  The food is very fresh and filling and you can find something for even the pickiest eaters.  Put Columbia Harbor House on your short list of quick service locations to try!

Best Use of Dining Plan Quick Service Credits

When you get the Dining plan or Quick Service dining plan you want to make sure you are getting a good value for your money.  But cost can’t be the only factor.  You will want to make sure you are checking out the menus to verify that you are choosing a restaurant menu that will appeal to your party.  This isn’t a comprehensive list but some suggestions for great eats!

dscn3593

Be Our Guest for lunch is a fantastic choice based on the location, amazing atmosphere and the food.  The food is similar to the dinner offerings but all at one quick service dining credit. Located in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland you will be immersed in the Beast’s castle and can choose from three different rooms to sit in.  This restaurant is like no other.  First of all it does require reservations for the quick service.  Next you order solely from a kiosk and then get your “rose” and find a spot to sit.  Your food will be delivered to your table.  You can check out my lunch review here.

Wolfgang Puck Express located in Disney Springs is another amazing choice for a quick service meal, lunch or dinner. Similar to Be Our Guest, you will have your food delivered to your table.  This food is pretty amazing, we recommend the mac and cheese and the bacon wrapped meatloaf.  Check out this review for more information!

Sunshine Seasons food court with high ceiling and a massive glass roof

Photo via Disney

Sunshine Season in the Land pavilion in Epcot is a delicious option with seasonal foods grown right there in the Land Pavilion! Plus the amazing strawberry shortcake is always worth getting.  This location is also ideal if you need to fuel up before waiting in line for Soarin’ Around the World.  They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner so any time the mood strikes you can check out this quick service restaurant.  This restaurant has some amazing choices like Oak grilled salmon, slow roasted pork chops and Mongolian beef.

Columbia Harbour House located in Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom is a fantastic option for a healthier lunch or dinner with many options.  Some of the most popular options are the Lobster Roll, chicken pot pie, Lighthouse sandwich, clam chowder, and broccoli peppercorn salad.  You cannot beat the location and people watching if you head up to the second floor seating.

 

Flame Tree Barbecue in the Discovery Island area of Animal Kingdom is probably one of the best quick services values.  You can get more than just barbeque here though, some choices are ½ a chicken, ribs & chicken combo, smoked turkey sandwich, full slab of ribs, and roasted chicken salad.

Dining area of Landscape of Flavors restaurant at Disney's Art of Animation Resort

photo via Disney

Landscape of Flavors is located at the Art of Animation resort is an awesome choice with unique and adventurous flavors.  You can get things like curry chicken, beef stirfry, create your own pasta or pizza, burgers, soup, and salad. Yep, that is a lot of choices in one restaurant!

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café in Frontierland in Magic Kingdom is another fantastic choice.  If you love tex-mex food this is the place for you.  It is similar to Qdoba or Chipotle where you can get a rice bowl, fajitas, or burritos and then step up to the fixins bar to doctor up your dinner.

Capt. Cook’s in the Polynesian Village Resort is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  You can get the famous Tonga Toast for breakfast or the pulled pork nachos for lunch and dinner.  This location is great whether you are staying at the Polynesian or just visiting from the other monorail resorts or want a break for the parks.  The menu has variety and is a pretty good value.

Tangerine Café located in the Morocco pavilion in Epcot is a cool choice for lunch or dinner.  They have many unique offerings such as Mediterranean chicken wrap, shawarma chicken or lamb platter, lamb wrap, and kefta sandwich.  Plenty to choose from for the adventurous palate.

IMG_2944

If you have a suggestion to add let us know!  We are always looking for great values and interesting menus!

Rapid Fill Refillable Mugs at Walt Disney World

At the Disney Resorts there is a very good deal you may have overlooked. The Rapid Fill Refillable Mugs that are available at the quick service locations at the resorts could save you a bundle of money. As of 2016 the cost is $16.99 plus tax for the length of stay. What this includes is a plastic mug that has an RFID chip embedded in the base. This allows you to fill the cup with fountain beverages (soda pop, Powerade, lemonade, and water), coffee, and iced tea. The RFID chip and the chip reader have a timer which will allow you to fill your mug every 2 minutes.

mugs

There are mug wash stations which have a faucet and sink. However if you are like me and want to mix up your beverages my suggestion is simple. Take a new, dry sponge and put some dish soap on it. Allow it to dry out, then cut into pieces. When it is time to go on vacation put a few of these pieces into a baggie and you have soap to wash your mug!

If you purchase the dining plan you will get the refillable mugs as part of that purchase. You will just need to choose your mug and pay with your Magic Band.

Some other things you will want to know. You can use the mugs at any Walt Disney World Resort, but not at the parks. Do not microwave the mugs, this will ruin the RFID chip which means no more drinks. Your refills will end the day you check out at 11:59pm.

IMG_3463IMG_3465

Why do I think this is a great value? The cost of single 20 oz drink at Disney is around $3.50 and say you need your coffee in the morning and then need a pick me up or some lemonade in the afternoon, and then again in the evening you need some Powerade to hydrate you are looking at $10.50 and that is if you are the only one getting a drink. Plus at the end of your vacation you get a cute new mug to take home! The mugs are very sturdy and will hold up to many times through the dishwasher as my 2013 mugs will attest.

rapid refill

In order to get a good value you will want to look at how long your visit it. Next you will want to look at your drinking habits, are you a morning coffee, tea or pop drinker? Are you going to be hitting up the refill station at least another time during the day? If you are going to go at least two times I day I think it is worth it. Especially if you fill it up twice in one visit to the food court. Plus if you think of it a partially a souvenir the cost is really reasonable.

Gaston’s Tavern Review

I had the opportunity to try Gaston’s Tavern on my recent Disney visit and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Gaston's Tavern Review

This little quick service nook is hidden away in the back of Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom.  You have to walk past Be Our Guest and it’s tucked away there on the left.  It’s a small place with only a few tables and chairs, but if you can find your way in there, it’s worth the walk.

The menu includes chocolate croissants, warm cinnamon rolls, and fresh fruit.  The day I visited was a nice sunny day, not too warm, so I decided to have the Tavern Beef Stew ($9.99).  It’s served piping hot with a generous portion of baguette for dipping.  I have to say, as someone who loves beef stew, my expectations were low.  I was pleasantly surprised by how good the stew actually was!  The beef was nice and tender and the broth was seasoned well.  The potatoes could have used a bit more cooking time as they were not quite as soft as I would have liked, but that didn’t really bother me.  The baguette was crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside.

I washed my stew and bread down with a Le Fou’s brew which I will review in a future blog post so stay tuned for that!

Overall, I highly recommend trying the Tavern Beef Stew at Gaston’s Tavern.  You won’t be disappointed!

Is the Disney Dining Plan “Worth it”?

It’s a question we hear a lot. Is the Disney dining plan worth it? Unfortunately this question does not have an easy answer! It depends. For most families the convenience of paying for your meals ahead of time is absolutely worth it. Budgeting for such a variable can be difficult but when “pre-paying” with the meal plan that’s one less thing you need to worry about. I was curious about cost though, so during my last trip I kept track of one of our day’s dining and decided to do a comparison.

Is the Disney Dining Plan -Worth It--

Breakfast

Location: Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory (POFQ)

Three Beignets (snack credit, or $2.99), Coffee (resort refillable mug, or $2.49 out of pocket)

Lunch

Location: Be Our Guest Quick Service (MK)

Carved Turkey Sandwich ($12.99, quick service credit), Soda ($2.99 or included with quick service meal), Chocolate Cream Puff ($4.59 or included with quick service meal)

Dinner

Location: Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine

Buffet dinner ($46.99 for adults, or 1 table service credit)

Total cost: $73.04  or $60.64 per night per adult on the Disney Dining Plan. So in this case, we absolutely made out using the Disney Dining Plan! As always your family’s own eating habits will decide if the dining plan is right for you, but you can see that for some, it is a great choice! 

Be Our Guest Lunch Review

DSCN3586We were lucky enough to snag a reservation for this lunch. We arrived just a few minutes before our reservation to check in at the stand before the bridge. We went right in and waited in a short line before we went in to place our orders on the kiosk. Since we were given menus before we got to the kiosk we have plenty of time to consider our options.

IMG_3019

After our orders were placed we were given our rose and made a stop to get drinks and silverware. With those settled we opted to have lunch in the main room, the ball room. While we waited, we took turns checking out the other rooms.

DSCN3593

I ordered the Quinoa Salad, my husband had the Roast Beef Sandwich, my Mother-in-law got the Braised Pork and my daughter ordered Chip’s Delight (tomato soup and grilled cheese).

 

Chip’s Delight was hit and miss with my daughter, she loved the grilled cheese fingers and cookie. The tomato soup she didn’t care for but I tried it and it was delicious. It does taste like fresh tomatoes rather than Campbell’s Soup if that is what your children are used to.

IMG_3027

The Quinoa Salad I had was very tasty and I enjoyed it because it was fresh and light. If you are wanting something that isn’t heavy this is a great choice.

IMG_3022

The Roast Beef Sandwich that my husband ordered was hearty and filling. It is a good sized sandwich that came with fries on the side. It was another great option if you are looking to fill up.

IMG_3032

The favorite of the group was the Braised Pork. This came with mashed potatoes and vegetables and was so delicious. I would definitely choose this entrée the next time I was there if I were looking for a very filling meal.

IMG_3030

The atmosphere of the restaurant is amazing. It is straight out of the movie and if you have a Beauty and the Beast fan, they will love it! Bottom line, we would eat there again in a heartbeat!

IMG_3015

 

New Pecos Bill Menu Changes

pecosbillYou may or may not have noticed that Pecos Bill, a quick service restaurant inside Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, has a new, updated menu.

In my opinion, it’s a bit like Disney’s version of Chipotle.  You can now choose from chicken, veggie, or beef rice bowls, as well as beef or chicken fajitas, beef or chicken burritos, or Southwest Salads with either chicken or beef.

They also offer Chicken Enchilada soup or chips as sides.  The Fixin’s bar is still there with some new peppers and sauce offerings as well.

For dessert, try the mini churros with chocolate dipping sauce, or sopapillas.

If you get a chance to try it, let us know what you thought!  Did you like the changes?

Beyond Burgers and Fries: Epcot

In the final installment of the “Beyond Burgers and Fries” series, we explore counter service options at Epcot! I think we saved the best for last, but it is kind of a cheat. With all the amazing counter service options at Epcot you’re actually going to be hard pressed to find that burger and fries. If you have a picky eater in your family and you’re looking for a quick burger, it is an option at the Electric Umbrella. But for the more adventurous eaters in your family be sure to check out some of the best rated options in Walt Disney World at Epcot.

IMG_5026

Sunshine Seasons: Sunshine Seasons is recognized across the internet in many “Top 10” or “Best” counter service meals in Walt Disney World and for good reason. Boasting a large menu with soups and salads, sandwiches, wood fire grilled options and many choices with Asian flare there is a lot to choose from. Sunshine Seasons also has one of the most extensive dessert lists with options from their bakery section. One thing to note is that, like Cosmic Rays, there are different bays to order from for their different options. A family will often have to split up to order their meals and plan a meeting place, so be aware of this! Because of it’s fresh, unique, delicious options Sunshine Seasons is a do not miss quick service at Disney, not just Epcot. If you make your FastPass for Soarin’ (located in the same building as Sunshine Seasons) in the lunchtime range you’ll have a great afternoon for sure!

Tangerine Cafe: Tangerine Cafe is another quick service restaurant that is often listed on “must have” lists in all of Disney World, not just Epcot. Tangerine Cafe is located in the Morocco pavillion, between France and Japan in the World Showcase. Famous for their schwarma platters (chicken, lamb or a combo with both), chicken wraps and Mediterranean sliders combo, Tangerine Cafe is a great introduction to truly authentic Moroccan food if you’ve never had a chance to try it.  Oh, and don’t forget to try one of their alcohol slushies if you’re “Drinking Around the World”, they come in strawberry and tangerine and are perfectly refreshing.

Yorkshire County Fish Shop: If you’re a fan of fish and chips Yorkshire County Fish Shop is the best place to grab yourself a quick lunch. While the menu here isn’t as extensive as our other top choices (as it consists almost in it’s entirety of, you guessed it, fish and chips) it excels at it’s specialty. There’s often a line at Yorkshire County, and it’s for good reason. The line isn’t all bad though, it means you’re served up a fresh piping hot serving of those fish and chips hot out of the fryer every time. As a fish and chips enthusiast Yorkshire County Fish Shop is a do not miss meal for me!

La Cantina de San Angel: I had a really tough time choosing the fourth restaurant for this blog post. With so many outstanding options I really could have put so many counter service restaurants in this spot and I still would have been missing out on some great options. Cantina de San Angel has the standard nachos and tacos, but I prefer the empanadas… and margaritas ;). The margaritas aren’t quite as good as the ones served in Mexico’s table service restaurants but if you’re looking for a nice refreshing fruity tequila beverage it still definitely fits the bill.

What is your favorite quick service restuarant at Epcot? Do you agree or disagree with my choice to include Mexico’s La Cantina de San Angel over another country in the World Showcase? Please, tell us about it! We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Port Orleans French Quarter Resort Review

FQ Walk

Port Orleans French Quarter is an adorable New Orleans-themed moderate resort at Walt Disney World. It is situated on the Sassagoula River with stunning views, perfectly manicured walking and running trails along the river and boat access to Downtown Disney. It is also centrally located between the Magic Kingdom and Epcot which means short travel times to both parks. As a moderate resort it features a large pool area with a water slide, hot tub/whirlpool, and even a splash pool for the little ones.

The reason I chose this resort for my last vacation was its size. It is the smallest resort at 1,008 rooms so it is not a far walk to your room, the lobby, restaurant, pool, or bus stop no matter where you are located.

This resort was refurbished not too long ago and the rooms were fresh and clean and large enough for my family of three adults and one child, all of our luggage (and shopping bags of course) with room to move around. The color scheme is gold and purple with dark wood with two queen beds (or one king). The rooms feature two sinks that are just out side of the rest of the bathroom which allows at least two people to get ready at the same time. There is also a curtain between the sink and the bed area that can be pulled to allow the rest of your group to sleep in a little longer.

For food you can check out the Quick Service, Sassagoula Floatworks, which serves Louisiana/New Orleans/Cajun-inspired foods like jambalaya, barbecue, or Creole burgers. You can also get basic burgers, hot dogs, pizza, and pasta. The bakery inside the food court serves fresh baked goods and you can get delicious beignets, and Mickey Rice Krispie treats. Grab-and-go food like cereal, fruit, granola bars, chips, juice, milk and other snacks are available. There is also a pool-side bar, Mardi Grogs, with great drinks and even better service. The food here is simple but very delicious. And of course if you choose to get the refillable mugs or have the dining plan there is plenty of hot or cold drinks to choose from.

If you don’t fancy a day at the parks there is plenty to do around the resort for kids and adults. At dusk there are movies shown, campfires, where for a small charge you can get the fixins’ for s’mores and huddle around a bonfire. You can of course hit up the pool and then the kids can join in the fun activities. The cast members play fun games with the kids like hot potato, but with water balloons or guessing games. You can also let your kids play on the playground or there are bikes and fishing equipment for rent. There are horse-drawn carriage rides or pirate adventures for kids available at an additional cost. There is plenty to do just at this resort if you would like to have a slow day.
Water Balloon POFQ

You cannot go wrong if you choose to stay at this beautiful, exciting, and fun resort.