Thanksgiving is upon us and Christmas is right around the corner. The end of the year will be here before we know it. I always like to take time to reflect on the impressions the waning year has made on me even while I’m making plans and resolutions for the one to come.
I’ve been thinking about this year as “The Year of Disney Foods” – I made a point to try as many new snacks and restaurants as possible (with gusto!) during our May visit to Walt Disney World. Then in October, we experienced our first Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. I even cooked a few Disney restaurant recipes at home. Overwhelmingly my experiences were positive ones, but as usual, I wouldn’t be offering balanced feedback if I didn’t also include the disappointments. In some cases, my taste-testing netted surprising results – I liked a few things way more than I thought I would. And I was let down by some foods unexpectedly. Which finally brings me to today’s topic…
Walt Disney World Food Surprises
Croissant Donut – What I was expecting: Fluffy plain donut with cinnamon-sugar coating. What I got: Warm, flaky, delectable pastry with a delightful texture. Surprisingly delicious! Don’t take my word for it – head on over to the Refreshment Port in Epcot (on the Canada side as you enter the World Showcase).
Jalapeno Cheese Pretzel – What I expected: Plain, giant pretzel with a hint of jalapeno and cheese in the background behind the pretzel taste. What I got: A very tasty blend of pretzel bread and jalapeno cheesiness – much more front and center pepper/cheese flavors than pretzel. Tastes as good as it looks. This is now going to be a must-have Animal Kingdom snack!
Roasted Pork Shank – What I expected: Somewhat greasy, gristly smoked meat akin to the infamous turkey leg. What I got: Nothing short of one of the best hunks of meat available for purchase anywhere at Walt Disney World! Seasoned well, fall-off-the-bone tender with very little to discard except the bone. These will save the legs of millions of turkeys! Best thing in Gaston’s Tavern! In fact, make a special trip TO the Tavern just to feast on a shank of your own. They’re really filling, too.
Cinnamon Roll (Also from Gaston’s Tavern) – What I expected: Big, warm, soft, well-blended cinnamon/sugar/glaze/roll flavors. What I got: Enormous disappointment! It was cold, dry and offered very little to love. I can’t believe I would say this, but the taste of cinnamon was much too strong. The whole roll seemed like a day-old bakery reject. And it was HUGE, so I felt like I was wasting a lot of food when I threw most of it away.
Dole Whip – Yes, I know! Everyone’s favorite Disney snack – thousands upon thousands of guests wait patiently in line, sweating under the Florida sun to partake of this famous frozen treat in Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland. What I expected: Refreshing pineapple flavor in a creamy soft-serve form. What I got: Overly sweet, overly pineapple-flavored ice-cream-ish blob. It melted all over me. I wanted to like it and I tried my best, but no…which means one lest person in line with the rest of you. I’m going to try a Citrus Swirl next time and see if that suits me better.
Flying Fish’s Artisanal Cheeses – What I expected: Good selection of cheeses and a good choice for an appetizer to share. What we got: Best cheese “starter” for any meal I’ve had at a restaurant anywhere. Interesting flavors and textures – the perfect way to kick of a great meal.
Sweet & Spicy Chicken Waffle Sandwich (Sleepy Hollow, Liberty Square) – What I expected: Crispy waffle wrapped around a mildly spicy chicken tender with a lettuce garnish. What I got: A completely mixed reaction! I loved the chicken. Raymond loved the chicken – we were both surprised a Magic Kingdom eatery would serve something with such a spicy kick! The chicken was amazing! The rest of the waffle’s contents were perfect with the chicken – arugula and coleslaw complimented the heat of the chicken in both flavor and texture. There was one, glaring downside to this sandwich – the regrettable sogginess of the waffle! I wanted it to be crispy on the outside, soft on the inside – the way a well-cooked waffle should be. Instead it was a limp, soggy mess. I’d probably order it again, though, just to have that chicken.
The Grey Stuff – When Lumiere said, “Try the Grey Stuff, it’s delicious” I believed him. I wanted to love it. So much so, I tried two different desserts containing the mysterious substance to be certain I was 100% sure about my feelings. What I wanted: Something with texture and flavor befitting such a touted edible blob. I guess I was imagining something like cream cheese icing’s texture. In fact, cream cheese icing infused with pulverized Oreos would probably taste really good. What I got: Room-temperature, grey Reddi-Whip. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I just hoped it would be more substantial. It’s clever, don’t get me wrong. Everyone who dines at Be Our Guest should indulge in some Gray Stuff. Just don’t expect to be blown away.
Taco Salad at Pecos Bill’s – It was just announced this week that Disney is discontinuing the taco salad at Pecos Bill’s in Frontierland. This was the best thing on the menu and the only reason I would darken the door of Bill’s establishment. Taco shell and a warm scoop of seasoned ground beef is what you got – the famous fixin’s bar was what made it worth the trip. Your shell and beef could be transformed into the salad of your dreams! Ah, well. The surprise here is that Disney would remove what had to have been a popular menu item (also quick and easy to serve). Columbia Harbor House here we come!
You know I love discussion! Weigh in now!!! What were your biggest Disney dining surprises this year?