Craving a Burger at WDW? Try This One!

Sometimes it’s good to be wrong. Really! I’ve bragged for years that I never order a burger when on vacation at Walt Disney World. Why would I? So many amazing options combined with the fact that I’m an adventurous, food-loving omnivore. I typically stay away from ordinary menu items I can easily find at home. Last month I ordered the first Disney burger I’ve eaten since the Duval Street Burger I ordered at Olivia’s Cafe (Old Key West) back in 2014…and was I ever glad that I did!

Craving a Burger at WDW? Try This One!

The Hollywood Brown Derby / Disney's Hollywood Studios

It was time for us to revisit the Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. On our first visit long ago we were underwhelmed and have since only frequented to patio lounge (wine and cheese!!!). We booked lunch at the Brown Derby for because it’s a particular favorite of our friends, Nick and Barbie. And since we use the Two Strike Rule for WDW restaurants, the Brown Derby was getting its second chance.

Side note: Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge previously held the record for our two worst dining experiences at a table service restaurant. This restaurant has now been replaced with a character dining experience called Storybook Dining at Artist Point – watch for a review coming soon!

Now, back to the Derby…

When we arrived, we were seated after a very short wait. As I perused the menu, my eyes kept drifting back to one particular item: the Grilled Wagyu Beef Burger, “Gruyère, Pastrami, Heirloom Tomato, Avocado, Fried Egg, Toasted Brioche, Cognac-Mustard Aïoli, Hand-cut Steak Fries” . I had to have it. Disney burger-shunning me! It sounded too good to be true. I like all of those ingredients individually, but how would they taste combined? I was borderline hangry and willing to take a chance.

Raymond ordered the same thing and when our lunch was served? Heaven! The burgers were perfectly prepared and incredibly delicious. I’d have it again right now if I could! I was wrong to dismiss all Disney burgers and I will not make that mistake again.

What’s your favorite burger at Walt Disney World? Have you tried this one at the Brown Derby?

Disney Parks – Smoking, Strollers & Ice – The Outrage

Walt Disney World Summer Crowd

If you follow any Disney-related social media folks, you’ve surely seen this article and/or the associated outrage. Personally, I’m struggling to come up with any negative feelings about this latest series of Disney park announcements and believe me, I’m trying to see these changes from every possible view. Let’s take a closer look at the news and my estimates on the outrage level for each…

Disney Parks – Smoking, Strollers & Ice – The Outrage

Smoking (14% Outrage / 86% Support)

As smokers and non-smokers on social media weigh in, I see a few negative comments. My favorite of these: “Disney just alienated half their fan base” and “No more family vacations!” One smoker observed, “With as much money as I pay to get in those parks, I shouldn’t have to waste all my time leaving and returning just to have a smoke!” I’m actually sympathetic to that person as the smoking areas have never bothered me. Since smokers in the US make up just 14% of all adults (according to the CDC’s 2017 data), Disney isn’t worried about any attendance-related impact from banning in-park smoking. Unlike alcohol, Disney doesn’t make any money from smoking, so there’s that. The Twitter and Facebook comments I’ve seen have been overwhelmingly in favor of the US Disney parks smoking ban, with “It’s about time!” seeming to be the most popular sentiment.

Strollers (25% Outrage / 75% Support)

Honestly, who hasn’t been rammed by a giant, hard-to-steer stroller in a Disney park? It’s such a common occurrence, frequent Disney park visitors joke about it all the time. Add in those space-hogging wagon strollers and park walkways become increasingly traffic-jammed and hazardous. One problem I’ve noticed is that popular large rental strollers don’t have the familiar handling of one’s own stroller and learning to maneuver this new vehicle seems to take some time for many people. Also, those giant strollers on the Monorail were getting ridiculous. I’m in favor of this change, but also sympathetic to people who’s children have special circumstances (asthma, for example) and need a mobile resting place. Most of the complaints on social media are in the “what will we use now?” category. Excellent article here for help.

Loose and Dry Ice (100% Confusion)

I haven’t found anyone who can tell me what horrors must have occurred with loose or dry ice to get them banned in Disney parks, but I’d like to know! I’ve never taken perishable food into a park and fortunately have had no need to keep any medicine cold. If you know what’s up with this, please post a comment! (Reusable ice packs are still allowed.)

So…no smoking, no giant strollers or wagons, no loose or dry ice. I can’t even tell you how much of my Twitter and Facebook feeds have been taken up with this particular news over the past several days! Personally, I think it’s going to be okay. How about you?

Disney Dining – Why I’m Cheering for Skipper Canteen

Let’s talk about Magic Kingdom dining and Adventureland’s best restaurant – The adorably themed Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen. I’m always surprised by the Skipper Canteen’s seeming lack of popularity. It’s easy to get into and has a great location. The food and service are consistently good and the menu changes frequently. That being said, I’m not sure if the menu changes are an attempt to get more people in the door or just to keep things interesting. I’ve never had a bad meal at Skipper Canteen and I’m pulling for them to succeed!

Disney Dining – Why I’m Cheering for Skipper Canteen

We first visited Skipper Canteen right after it first opened. There were cheesy Jungle Cruise-like jokes by both the host and server although that seems to have been scaled back on more recent visits. There was bread served with dipping sauce (spiced honey) – both are gone now. There was tasty shu mai (still our go-to appetizer), outstanding noodle bowls (alas, also gone) and yummy desserts (still there). It was and still is nice to have a place to sit and relax in Magic Kingdom that’s relatively quiet and serves beer. We like many quick service locations in Magic Kingdom, but they’re rarely quiet and never serve beer.

Perkins Thai Noodles – Spicy and Delicious!

Skipper Canteen has more going for it than peace and booze.

Why does it bother me that this particular restaurant seems to be struggling? Because we like the concept. We like a table service restaurant in Adventureland and would like Skipper Canteen to be successful enough to prompt the addition of one or two more places like it. Imagine Frontierland and Tomorrowland with their own versions of well-themed table service eateries. I’d gladly stay in Magic Kingdom rather than heading to Wilderness Lodge for lunch at Whispering Canyon or the Polynesian for dinner at Kona Cafe. We also prefer the menu prices at Skipper Canteen compared to dinner at Be Our Guest (fixed price for adults is $60/kids $36) or Cinderella’s Royal Table ($65-$80 for adults/kids $45-$65).

Curried Vegetable Crew Stew – Excellent Lunch Option!

A successful Skipper Canteen might pave the way for additional options in Magic Kingdom and we are all for that! Have you eaten at Skipper Canteen? How was your experience there? What other restaurants would you like to see in Magic Kingdom?

Epcot International Festival of the Arts – Best Thing We Ate

We tried a few specialty food offerings at this year’s Epcot Festival of the Arts this year. Some were good, some were great, all were certainly creative. One delectable dish stood out from the rest and I’m still thinking about how very tasty it was. (I’m trying to forget about the calories.)

Festival of the Arts, as the name implies, gives food booths and kiosks the opportunity to show off clever culinary works of art that showcase the artistry of plating and the beauty of specialty ingredients.

A great example of this was an offering from the POP EATS! booth. We chose the Sous Vide Chicken Roulade ($6.75) “Served with Apples and Sage, Warm Brie Fondue, Blueberry and Beet Gel, and Garnished with Apple and Beet Chips” This dish certainly sounded interesting (to say the least). We paired that selection with the Almond Frangipane Cake ($4.50) “Layered with Raspberry Jam and Callebaut Belgian Chocolate”.

Open-minded were we when we dug in! The chicken was delicious and none of the garnishments were overpowering. The flavors were nicely balanced. The cake (remember I don’t have a sweet tooth) was meh. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t great. I feel like maybe the vibrant colors were a bit off-putting as well.

Epcot Festival of the Arts – Best Thing We Ate

On each visit to Epcot, I searched for things that appealed to both Raymond and me so we could share. There was one, extra-tempting item I kept hearing about. It wasn’t located in World Showcase, but sounded exactly like a dish we would both love. We headed for Taste Track in Future World East. We didn’t even know this place existed. What did they have that we couldn’t resist? I’ll tell you – it was the best thing we ate at Festival of the Arts!

Lobster Bacon Macaroni and Cheese!

Served in a warm bread cone, this stuff was scrumptious! The temperature, texture, and flavors were perfect which seemed to me no easy accomplishment. Unless you have a shellfish allergy (I’m sorry for you, Nick and Heather) – I would not miss an opportunity to try this dish if they bring it back next year. Oh, boy, it was great. Raymond and I polished the entire thing off in mere moments. It was hard to share, but the $8.00 price tag kept us from buying a second serving.

Have you tried this Lobster Bacon Mac & Cheese? What was your favorite Festival of the Arts food?