Disney Dining – Trattoria al Forno

Honestly, the newest Italian eatery at Disney’s Boardwalk, Trattoria al Forno, was never on our radar.  We love the Boardwalk to be sure, but we usually visit for dinner at Flying Fish or as I’m running down the actual boardwalk during a runDisney event.  Even when the Trattoria was Kouzzina, it never occurred to us to eat there.  Too many dining choices, too little time!

All of that changed when I was making plans for our most recent visit to Disney World (last December).  I wanted to see the Candlelight Processional and I didn’t want to wait in a long, LONG line only to find out that all the seats were taken.  We needed a dining package!  I was surprised to find that Trattoria al Forno was a choice for the dining package and that breakfast was an option.  SCORE!  We could sleep in, head to the Boardwalk, try out this previously unnoticed restaurant, spend most of the day in Disney Springs and arrive in Epcot just ahead of the Candlelight Processional.  To me, breakfast wasn’t a risk and not a substantial investment to get preferred seating for the Processional during Christmas week.

We were very pleased with the entire experience!  The atmosphere and décor are fantastic.  The breakfast menu is unique and the service was fine.  Shorthanded on the morning we were there, the restaurant’s manager jumped in to serve coffee and chat up the patrons.  Clearly out of his element, we appreciated his willingness to pitch in.  We were in no hurry and didn’t mind sipping Mimosas (I ate the orange slice before I took a picture…oops) while we waited for our food.  This ended up being a welcome respite from rushing around, dealing with Christmas crowds.  Raymond had the Breakfast Calzones, I had the Poached Eggs (with sausage over polenta) and Joseph had the Scrambled Eggs (with sausage and potatoes) we shared a  big bowl of fresh fruit.  We were all satisfied and thought the Italian-inspired menu items combined with traditional picky-eater-pleasing choices meant there was something for everyone.  We would definitely return again!

In early February, Disney World announced that a Trattoria al Forno character dining experience will soon be available!  This sounds like a wonderful option and excellent alternative to Akershus in Norway (a popular Disney Princess meal).  This new offering will allow guests to meet their favorite Disney couples!  Different from other character dining options and convenient to Epcot, this new experience will definitely put Trattoria al Forno on many people’s to-try lists.  If it has fixed pricing and takes only one table service credit on the Disney Dining Plan, all the better – this should be a big success!

Rumor Alert!  I heard that today (February 23, 2017) is the first day to make ADRs for this experience, so if you’re headed to Walt Disney World this summer and are interested in dining with beloved Disney couples (Like Rapunzel and Flynn & Ariel and Eric), you might want to get busy on the reservations.  If you are able to book this new Character Dining Experience, please let me know the details!

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?

 

Chef Mickey’s Character Dining Review

Happy Saturday, Disney Friends!  Let’s talk character dining today!  When our kids were little, Chef Mickey’s was a must-do for every visit to Walt Disney World and I’ve recommended this fun chance to meet the Fab Five many times over the years.  Nick’s opinion of Chef Mickey’s is a little different than mine.  I welcome all views and opinions here and now you can hear about Chef Mickey’s from someone who prefers to enjoy his character dining experiences elsewhere.  What I want to know is this – How about YOU?  Are you a fan of Chef Mickey’s or do you favor a different restaurant?

Chef Mickey’s Character Dining Review

By: Nick

I’ve eaten at Chef Mickey’s twice in the last several years. Once with our Godson, Flynn, back in 2009, and just a couple of months ago with our friends Kandi and John and their kids Jazzlyn and Grayson.

 Me, Jazzlyn, Barbie, Kandi, Grayson, and John

I’m going to just come out and say it. It’s my least favorite buffet in Walt Disney World.

It’s not bad, but I have some issues.

Let’s look at the good first. The Fab Five, Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Goofy, are here, and that is truly awesome!

 None of our Minnie Pics came out well!

They come around often and spend quality time with each table. Periodically, there is even an opportunity for kids and adults to cut loose with the characters!

The not so great?
The layout of the restaurant, which is located in the Contemporary Resort, is just odd.

Somehow, both times we’ve eaten here, we have been put up in an upper corner. This past time, it was a very dark corner.

There really shouldn’t be any dark corners in a character buffet, in my opinion.

Then, there is the food. It’s not bad, I just don’t feel it’s on par with other Disney buffets, with the exception of the desserts.

There are a variety of salads and a soup du jour, as well as sushi and pick and peel shrimp.

There is Mac and Cheese, Chicken nuggets, pasta and meatballs.

Some of the better items were the small individual dishes, such as the Braised Beef. The Lemon Pepper Chicken was pretty good also.

There are a few other seafood selections as well as BBQ ribs.

The carving station included turkey and beef.

The desserts include a variety of cakes, cream puffs, and cookies, as well as ice cream.

I can see why this would be a top priority for kids with the Fab Five, but I don’t recommend this buffet when there are so many other better character dining options, such as Crystal Palace and Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast at the Garden Grill.

Don’t miss any of Nick’s Disney adventures!  Follow along at the Disney Musings Blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Pinterest. You can listen to Nick, our friend Dave and me on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we talk about…well, you can probably guess.

Headed to Walt Disney World in 2016? The Disney Exchange Podcast will be having a meet-up in February during the Princess Half Marathon Weekend! Details will be available on The Disney Exchange’s Facebook Page and also on Twitter. We’d love to see you there!!!