Disney Character Dining – Chef Mickey’s Versus Tusker House

Looking for a character dining experience at Walt Disney World?  Love Mickey, Minnie and the gang?  You have two choices:  Chef Mickey’s (Disney’s Contemporary Resort) and Tusker House (Disney’s Animal Kingdom).  Which one should you choose?  Both take one Table Service Credit on the Disney Dining Plan, both are similarly priced (Tusker House is slightly less expensive).  Both provide excellent character meet-n-greets with great photo ops.  Let me see if I can help you with a few pro’s and cons.Meeting Minnie at Chef Mickey's

Disney Character Dining – Chef Mickey’s Versus Tusker House

Chef Mickey’s Pros

Not in a Park – No park ticket required to meet the Fab Five in air-conditioned comfort.  Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto (dressed as chefs) make the rounds while you eat.  Because you don’t need park access, Chef Mickey’s is a very popular first and last day choice for many guests.

Easy to Reach from Magic Kingdom – Walk or grab the monorail!  Start the day with breakfast at Chef Mickey’s before heading to Magic Kingdom or take a break for a meal later in the day.

Pluto Fans Rejoice – If Pluto’s your favorite, Chef Mickey’s is a fantastic way to get a meet-n-greet with this lovable pooch.

Chef Mickey’s Cons

Very Basic Fare – Read:  Mediocre food.  Unfortunately, Chef Mickey’s popularity is more about the location and characters than the actual culinary choices.  If you’re picky and/or prefer pretty bland, meat-and-potatoes (or pasta) dishes, this may be a solid choice.  If you want more diversity in buffet choices with a few slightly more adventurous flavors, this is not the place for you.

Loud and Crowded – Big open spaces often full of screaming children.  It just seems crazy noisy to me all the time with lots of distractions.  Goes with the character-dining territory, I know, but Chef Mickey’s is extreme.

Tusker House Pros

Preferred by my Twitter Friends – In a recent Twitter poll I conducted with the simple question, “Which do you prefer?” and a choice between Chef Mickey’s and Tusker House, Tusker House won big (75% to 25%).

Convenient on an Animal Kingdom Day – Tusker House is a fun way to start the day and also a wonderful break for lunch or dinner.  Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy make the rounds dressed in their safari attire.

Delicious Flavors of Africa-inspired Dishes (plus plenty for less adventurous eaters).  I wanted to try everything, but had to settle for about a dozen different things to taste before I couldn’t eat another bite.  Our whole group of seven (included varying degrees of pickiness) walked away happy when we had breakfast at Tusker House one morning last year.

Daisy Fans Rejoice – She’s pretty special and if you want to meet her in a park, the lines are often very long (and cut off quickly).  In Tusker House, you’ll have her complete and undivided attention for a few minutes…very sweet!  I love her long eyelashes!

Tusker House Cons

Need a Park Ticket to Dine – Maybe because you have to enter Animal Kingdom to dine at Tusker House it makes it easier to get a reservation there than at Chef Mickey’s.  Seems to me demand is always higher at Chef Mickey’s.

Buffet Area gets Congested – This is basically due to nobody listening to instructions, but it happens anyway.  The hosts and hostesses explain up front that the design of the buffet is to encourage guests to walk up and help themselves to whatever looks delicious.  In reality, nobody does that, everyone forms lines.

Are you a fan of character dining?  Have you been to both Chef Mickey’s and Tusker House?  Which did you prefer?

 

 

Disney Dining – Tusker House Breakfast

Great location, perfect for families and groups of all sizes, wonderful variety of buffet foods, AND fantastic Disney characters! What a perfect way to start the day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Disney Dining – Tusker House Breakfast

Once upon a time, our family made character dining experiences a must-do on every Walt Disney World visit.  Just because we may have outgrown that tradition (for now), doesn’t mean we can’t make room in our touring plans for a Disney vacation meal that still includes some character interaction from time to time – especially if the menu is great.tusker-house-mickey-lyndsey-and-joseph

I’d heard great things about the menu at Tusker House and realized that an early breakfast there would give us a jump on our full day of action-packed Animal Kingdom plans.  Our group of seven consisted of a wide variety of food preferences and varying degrees of pickiness – what could be easier than a buffet packed with both traditional breakfast fare and several more exotic, African-inspired flavors?  I chose an 8:35 reservation & we arrived extra early…better to beat the crowds and be first in line for Kilimanjaro Safaris after breakfast.

At the park entrance we were directed to a specific Tusker House waiting area where a very kind Cast Member told us how to find the restaurant. After a short wait, we were on our way.

Once inside, our excellent server, Kat, showed us around the food stations on our way to our table. She explained that the foods were arranged to make it as if guests were shopping in a marketplace. There were no lines…simply move from station to station and fill your plate as you desire.  We arrived at our table, Kat left to get coffee and juice, we headed for the market/buffet.tusker-house-buffet4 tusker-house-buffet3 tusker-house-buffet2

So many options! It was hard to decide where to begin. Along with bacon, eggs, ham, Mickey waffles and the other usual crowd-pleasers were more unique choices from salads to curry, bobotie, and a carving station.  I took small portions of a few things, intending to go back for more after round one.  I’m wary of buffets sometime and want them to be super clean and well-stocked.  These food stations were beautifully maintained.tusker-house-breakfast-plate3 tusker-house-breakfast-plate2 tusker-house-breakfast-plate1

Kat had let us know to expect characters to come by our table, one at a time. Sure enough, the well-paced arrival of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy allowed us plenty of time to eat while pausing for photos. I thought they were all terrific, but Goofy was extra fun.  The characters are all dressed for safari with their own individual styles.tusker-house-donald-and-megan

Just before Daisy made her entrance, I stepped back over to the buffet intending to take a few pictures and maybe grab a couple more foods to sample. Unfortunately, the reason Kat had made an effort to explain how the buffet is supposed to work became clear – a huge, long line had formed! This was no marketplace, this was a slow-moving nightmare. I decided I was finished eating, but made an effort to take a few pictures for you by squeezing in between people here and there. (Find menu details here.)tusker-house-goofy

Our breakfast was over moments before the scheduled park opening & we were on the first Kilimanjaro Safari of the day. We had a great time in Tusker House and would recommend it to small families and large groups alike. The food’s plentiful and tasty, the characters charming and fun, the atmosphere and setting are well-themed and highly detailed.  Just as we’d hoped, Tusker House was the perfect way to kick off the day at Animal Kingdom.

Do you enjoy character dining at Disney World?  Have you tried Tusker House?  What did you think?

 

Disney World! Always New Things to Try

Walt Disney World – Trying new things and revisiting old favorites is what makes every visit different from the one before.  I’m committed to adding something new to every trip…our most recent Disney vacation was no exception.

Disney World! Always New Things to Try

Most of the items on this list rate their very own review in the future (please stand by).  Today I’m going for a quick rundown of what was new (to us) and what our initial impressions were.  Please feel free to weigh in on what you’re looking forward to trying for the first time on your next Walt Disney World visit.

  1. Mad Tea Party.  Yes, that’s right, Raymond and I have never, not once, taken a spin on this most iconic of Magic Kingdom attractions.  Now we can say we’ve done it. Aaaaaaand that’s pretty much all I have to say about that…for now.on-the-tea-cups
  2. Disney Springs’ new offerings.  We didn’t have a great deal of time to spare, but we did manage to grab lunch at Morimoto Street Food (new walk-up counter service at Morimoto Asia) and check out a few of the new stores in the new retail shopping section.  Lunch was great, the stores were okay.  In spite of all the fancy, new high-end offerings, I found myself pulled back to my old favorites like the Marketplace Co-Op and Disney’s Days of Christmas.  That’s where I spent my money.  schweitzer-falls-fanI was inordinately happy with my Schweitzer Falls t-shirt buy…can you blame me?tiffins-exterior
  3. Animal Kingdom’s Nomad Lounge and Tiffins – Guys!  We give these new places a resounding, unanimous vote of approval!  I promise more details later, but if you’re on the fence about trying one or both…get off the fence on the side of definitely going.via-napoli-pizza-slice
  4. Epcot’s Via Napoli – Raymond and I enjoyed a special dining experience here during the 2014 Food & Wine festival, but had never made a regular ADR for a meal here until this visit.  I’d been skeptical of reviews that said the pizza was fantastic (Disney pizza is typically anything but fantastic) and the food excellent overall, but I’m a believer now and cannot wait to go back!  We were very happy!sci-fi-dine-in-menu
  5. Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater – All I can say in my own defense was that I thought it would be unique and fun.  Yeahhhhh….not so much.  Didn’t hate it, but now that we’ve given it a try, there’s no need to go back.  For the price, service level, and menu, there are too many superior choices…we’ll put this in the “once and done” category.  I’ll go ahead and add that for us, the service was subpar and the seating less than ideal for a party of more than four.frozen-ever-after-figures
  6. Frozen Ever After – Raymond and I managed to score a FastPass for this and ride it on the first day of our vacation.  I hate that we couldn’t get FastPasses for the rest of our party!  This attraction is outstanding.  Let’s not debate its suitability for the Norway Pavilion in Epcot and just focus on the experience alone…wonderful!soarin-new
  7. Soarin’ – This was THE one thing I was most looking forward to.  I’ve always been a fan and could not wait to check out the new version.  I was both delighted and disappointed in equal measure.  Have you ridden it yet?  What did you think?

Okay, now it’s your turn.  Have you tried any/all of these yet?  Where do we agree and disagree?

Disney Dining – An Ode to Filth

Por Favor PodcastHi there readers! This is Gary and Mike from the Por Favor Podcast. Lisa has been kind enough to give us some space on her wonderful blog. After much consideration, we figured we should talk about what we know best. Filth.

For anyone not familiar with our podcast (we have literally dozen’s of listeners!) we endearingly refer to most food as filth. At least most food that we eat. That’s mostly because we eat generally filthy offerings, especially at Walt Disney World.

A perfect example of filth would be a burger from Pecos Bills with all the fixings. Apple slices would not be considered filth. I think you get the basic idea.

Now, on to the really fun part. We are going to break-down some of the filthiest foods in Walt Disney World. Some you will have surely heard about, some may be new to you. Each holds a place near and dear to our hearts…and stomaches.

Magic Kingdom

Dole Whip
​A Dole Whip from Aloha Isle might not be considered by many to fit the definition of filth, as set forth earlier in the article, but if we take into account the fact that Por Favor Gary likes to start his day with a Dole Whip for breakfast, this clearly falls into the filth file.Pineapple Dole Whip

Pork Shank
​A pork shank from Gaston’s Tavern is one of the truest forms of filth one can find in the Magic Kingdom. This greasy mass of meat is probably going to slow down your touring plans, but the lethargy is well worth it as you’ll feel a primitive satisfaction as you gnaw the last pieces of pig flesh off the bone in triumph.RM-Gaston's-Tavern-Roasted-Pork-Shank

Sweet and Spicy Chicken and Waffle Sandwich
​The sweet and spicy chicken and waffle sandwich from Sleepy Hollow Refreshments holds a special place in the pantheon of filth at the Magic Kingdom. There are some who would say that chicken and waffles don’t belong together (stuff that doesn’t go with stuff) and there are others who salivate at the idea of this culinary concoction. However you feel personally about this unique sandwich, you must agree that it is quite filthy.RM-Sweet-&-Spicy-Chicken-Waffle-Sandwich

EPCOT Center

Jalapeño and Cheese Stuffed Pretzel
​The jalapeno and cheese stuffed pretzel from Block and Hans in the American Adventure Pavilion is one of the best hidden secrets at Walt Disney World. This snack has it all. Portability, affordability and of course it’s stuffed full of cheese and jalapenos that define filth. This may be the neatest of the filth we encounter, but don’t let that fool you. This is a must try!RM-Jalapeno-Cheese-Pretzel

Scotch Egg
​Found at the Rose & Crown Pub, the scotch egg is an instant Por Favor Filth Favorite. Both Mike and Gary have experienced the true filthy beauty of this deep fried, hard boiled egg surrounded in sausage topped with an incredible mustard sauce. If this appetizer wasn’t presented so nicely in the restaurant it might take the cake as filthiest in all of EPCOT, but even in its somewhat refined form, it’s close to tops.

Churritos
​The miniature version of the iconic churro can be found at La Cantina de San Angel, the quick service outside of the Mexico Pavilion. The reason this item has made our list is because of the caramel dipping sauce that accompanies it. These adorable churritos are very tasty on their own, but when utilized properly they become a conveyance system for the caramel. No trip to Walt Disney World would be complete without a churro, so you might as well grab these little beauties and double down with the filthy caramel sauce!

Disney Hollywood Studios

Peanut Butter and Jelly Shake
​The 50s Prime Time Cafe is well known amongst Disney fans for its kitschy décor and intentionally overbearing waitstaff. It’s also know to have some of the best comfort food on property. However many guests overlook an item on the menu that has earned a spot in any filth lovers heart. A peanut butter and jelly shake may sound off-putting to some, but we say, give it a try and you’ll soon realize why Mike and Gary consider this pure filth in a cup.The Hollywood Brown Derby / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Cobb Salad
​Excuse me, did someone take over the reigns on this article? How on earth did a salad make its way into a list of filth? These questions could only be asked by someone who hasn’t experienced the filthy goodness of a Cobb salad from the Hollywood Brown Derby. You know this salad must be mind-blowingly filthy to make it to such rarefied territory. One bite of this salad and you’ll forget you’re actually eating some veggies among the filth.Starring Rolls Cafe / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Ham or Turkey Sandwich
​Once again, you may be having double take, but let us explain. The ham and turkey sandwiches from Starring Rolls Cafe are so chock full of deli meat that you can barely unhinge your jaw wide enough to fit all the filth into your maw. There is a token piece of lettuce and a scant offering of tomato on top of this sandwich and the bread is merely there because society hasn’t progressed enough yet to make it acceptable to eat a pound and a half of deli meat by itself in one sitting.

Animal Kingdom

Anything from Flame Tree BBQ
​Is this a cop out? Yes. Undoubtedly, but who are we to deprive you of any of the offering from what many consider the best quick-service on property. Mike and Gary can definitively say that this is the filthiest quick-service around. Between the fall-off-the-bone ribs and the best baked beans around, this joint can fling some filth. Do not do yourself a disservice and miss Flame Tree. You can’t go wrong with any of the filth offered.Flame-Tree-Barbeque

Beef Lo-Mien
​You got us. This item is no longer offered at Yak and Yeti, but we felt it was still worthy of our praises. Just because something is gone doesn’t mean it hasn’t impacted our lives. And, hey, look at the citrus swirl! It could come back. Anyway, this was one of the original food items that Mike and Gary referred to as filth on the podcast. It’s just a Chinese food take-out style box filled to the brim with filth. Tons of beef, noodles and some veggies to make people feel a little better about themselves. Maybe if this article gets enough traction, we might see this menu item make its triumphant return to Animal Kingdom.RM-Yak-&-Yeti-Restaurant-Exterior

Spice Rubbed Karubi Ribs
​It helps having a local as one half of your show, because this filth offering is from the brand new Harambe Market. Por Favor Mike had the difficult task of dragging himself to Animal Kingdom and trying out this new item. It comes with green papaya-carrot slaw and a chickpea, cucumber and tomato salad. In case you weren’t sure, that is considered “stuff that doesn’t go with stuff”. Despite this, it still was able to earn Mike’s seal of approval. Next time you are in Animal Kingdom, check out the new Harambe Market and see which new piece of filth piques your interest!

There are many more chances to indulge in filth at Walt Disney World and perhaps if Lisa is so gracious we can come back and list a few of our favorites from outside the parks! If you liked what you’ve read, be sure to check out our podcast at www.porfavorpodcast.com like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/porfavorpodcast and follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/porfavorpodcast and www.twitter.com/porfavormike