How to Enjoy Fine Dining in Orlando

September 21st, 2016

Orlando is a city that covers over 100 square miles of land, and has a population of over 2 million people. As you can imagine, there are restaurants scattered throughout that 100 square miles, although most of them are concentrated in certain areas, of course, such as downtown Orlando or near the theme parks.

downtown Orlando dining

Most of the larger restaurants will have websites, which make it easy to discover their existence. However, there are plenty of small, excellent restaurants located in residential areas that only the “locals” of that area have ever heard of, and which serve “regional” specialties that you can’t get anywhere else.

Even if a local, family-owned restaurant doesn’t have a website, it may well have a Facebook account, or be listed in aggregate websites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, or Zomato (formerly Urban Spoon).

So let’s talk about how you can enjoy fine dining in Orlando.

  1. Bring appropriate clothing.

Although dining (and going out to the theater) has gotten a lot more casual in the last decade or so, there are still fine dining establishments that expect men to wear jackets and ties, and women to wear dresses. Dining in jeans and sweatshirts with holes in them is discouraged!

  1. Do some research on restaurant choices before you go. Thanks to the internet, this is extremely easy. This preliminary research makes an excellent starting point.
  2. Be adventurous!

Be adventurous, as far as your food tourism goes. Be willing to check out cuisines that you’ve never tasted before. As with most major cities, Orlando will have at least a couple of restaurants in every ethnic category. You’re on vacation – why not try a new cuisine or two?

unique orlando dining

Make a list of all the cuisines you’ve had – and a list of those you’d like to try. You’ve probably had Chinese food, but have you ever had Thai or Japanese? Mongolian? Vietnamese?

Mexican and Italian restaurants abound in most cities – but have you ever been to a French restaurant?

  1. Do a search online for “Orlando regional cuisine,” and “famous Florida foods”

This will give you some idea of the local specialties. Most major cities have newspapers with online editions, so you are bound to find articles from local food writers on the regional cuisine. Read these articles, look at the accompanying photos, and if your mouth starts watering, write the restaurant – and its address – on your List of Restaurants to Visit in Orlando.

  1. Don’t miss the fresh seafood

Restaurants in Florida have access to fresh seafood, of course, so if you’re a seafood lover, make sure you visit several seafood specialty restaurants to try the variations in shrimp, oysters, tuna, grouper and more.

Orlando seafood dining

  1. Do you have any friends who have recently come back from a visit to Orlando? Ask them to recommend some restaurants, and of course, include the address. Make sure your food preferences match those of your friends, of course!

You’ve done your preliminary research, and packed appropriate clothing for the variety of restaurants you’ll encounter in Orlando.

Now…you’ve arrived.

  1. Check out the brochures in the racks at your hotel.

Most hotels will have vast literature racks – full of brochures on things to see and do in the area. Several of these will be restaurant related! Check to see if any of them aren’t on your list and if they sound good, add them.

Also check out the local coupon magazines and community newspapers that will probably also be present in your hotel. Some restaurants will offer two-for-one deals. The higher-end restaurants may just have coupons for a free appetizer.

  1. Check menus online

By now you’ve got enough information to have planned your dinners for every night of your stay. If you waited until you arrived in Orlando before deciding on restaurants, there’s still time to check the menus online to see how the different entrees are prepared.

orlando dining menus

  1. Why not be spontaneous?

That’s not me asking *you* that question – that’s *you* asking me.

For breakfast and lunch there’s nothing wrong with walking along a street, seeing a restaurant or café with an interesting name, and walking in. But dinners are different. You may stop into an interesting-looking restaurant only to find out you don’t meet the dress code, or, worse, that there’s an hour wait because you didn’t make a reservation.

By planning in advance, you’ll save yourself some time and aggravation.

Best Priced Orlando Hotel With Waterpark

September 19th, 2016

A newly renovated property only two miles from Walt Disney World with great amenities and affordable rates might sound too good to be true, but it’s now open and just as attractive as it sounds. The Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites – Waterpark just opened on the site of the old Nickelodeon Hotel after pouring $30 million into the property. It’s still just as family friendly as ever, but with upgraded accommodations and amenities that make it a perfect headquarters for visiting Walt Disney World and the surrounding theme parks.

Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites

The Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites – Waterpark is an all-suites hotel, providing plenty of room for any size family with its one, two, and three bedroom suites. Every room has either a kitchenette or full kitchen for eating meals or snacks right in the room. With 777 rooms, it has bragging rights as the largest property among all Holiday Inn Resorts.

The Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites – Waterpark has its own water park right on site for cooling off on steamy Florida days. Many families like to take afternoon break from the parks, or even a full day off, so the slides and flumes will keep them busy while Mom and Dad relax poolside and indulge in beverages from the bar. Cabanas are available for rental to add an extra layer of comfort to your family’s day of water play.

Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites Waterpark

If the kids get tired of swimming, they’ll enjoyed activities themed to favorite characters like Batman, the Joker, the Ice Age gang, and the Angry Birds. Batman and his nemesis are the theme of a laser tag game, and Ice Age and Angry Birds are featured in onsite 4-D movies. There’s also a massive on-site arcade and hide speed internet access so the who family can stay connected.

The Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites – Waterpark do is good for guests who drive and those who prefer to not bother with a car. If you have your own vehicle or a rental car, you can get to Walt Disney World within minutes via several routes and easily get to I-4 to go to SeaWorld Orlando or Universal Orlando Resort. Otherwise, hop a free shuttle to those destinations. Disney World shuttles leave every 90 to 120 minutes, while Universal and SeaWorld transportation is scheduled a couple of times each day.

Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites Lagoon Grill

The hotel is near many dining options on Highway 192 and State Road 535, but if you don’t feel like heading off-site, it has several convenient options. The Lakeside Café has both table service and buffet options, while Antonio’s Pizzeria lives up to its name with hand-tossed pizza and other kid-friendly fare. Cravings is the spot for Starbucks coffee, along with baked goods and hand-dipped ice cream, and Stackers Deli crafts freshly made sandwiches. The Lagoon Bar & Grill is a casual poolside eatery, and the Hideaway Lounge is a nice adult enclave that serves drinks while sports play on multiple TVs.

With so many pluses, the Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites – Waterpark is quickly becoming a popular spot for Orlando vacationers. Its fresh look, coupled with a wide range of amenities are hard for travelers to resist.

Call to book as low as $89/night!

 

Disney World Fall Events 2016

September 14th, 2016

The fall season means cooler weather leading into winter and a variety of seasonal events at Walt Disney World. Some are tied to the holidays, while others are Disney exclusives. Here’s what to expect when you visit the Disney theme parks between September and December:

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Mickey's not so Scary Halloween

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom is an annual favorite for both children and adults. Kids of all ages get to trick-or-treat at stations all around the park, taking in a heavy haul of goodies. It’s also one of the rare occasions on which adults get to wear costumes in a Disney park, and many take full advantage of that fact. It’s sometime hard to tell which characters are official and which are guests with a talent for creating authentic costumes. Many of the Magic Kingdom rides are open, and the party also features special character greets, shows, and the Boo to You parade. The party runs on select nights through October 31, 2016, and requires a special ticket that’s separate from regular theme park admission.

Even though the party starts at 7 p.m., the ticket gets you in at 4 p.m., so you don’t have to use a day ticket if you hang out at your hotel or vacation home, go shopping at Disney Springs, or explore Orlando until admission time. Get to the park early and enjoy the rides before the party officially starts. That gives you more time to devote to trick-or-treating and waiting in line for photos with the Disney characters in their costumes and special guests like Jack Skellington and Sally. You’ll also want to catch the parade, dance parties, and “Hocus Pocus” stage show, so check the show guide as soon as you arrive and make a plan for your evening. If your children are young, get them to nap before the party so they can make it through to closing time.

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is a popular fall event that’s geared toward the “big kids,” although it’s family friendly. It runs from September 14 to November 14, 2016, and gourmet food, wine, and other adult beverages abound, with kiosks around World Showcase and spilling over into Future World. The festival also features special dinners, seminars, tasting events, themed merchandise, and the Eat to the Beat concert series with artists like Wang Chung, Living Colour, and Soul Asylum. The concerts are included with park admission and they feature open seating, so get in line early to get a good seat for your favorite bands.

Epcot Food & Wine Festival

Pick up a free festival passport when you arrive at Epcot and let the kids assist in getting it stamped at each kiosk as you navigate the culinary landscape. That will keep them involved and help maintain their interest. It doesn’t hurt to promise them a ride on the new Frozen Ever After ride when you get to the Norway Pavilion, although you’ll want to book a FastPass+ time in advance to avoid at hour-plus wait in line.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Disney World Merry Christmas Party

Like the Halloween party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is an after-hours event at the Magic Kingdom that offers special shows, fireworks, and a parade featuring favorite Disney characters and Santa Claus himself. Most of the rides are open during the party, including the Jingle Cruise, a special holiday-themed version of the famous Jungle Cruise, complete with seasonal wisecracks from the skippers.

During the party, guests can indulge in all the free cookies, cider, and hot cocoa they can eat and drink at various stops around the park. Even though Florida’s not known for chilly winters, Disney magic makes it snow on Main Street every night to add to the festive holiday atmosphere. While the party starts at 7 p.m., your tickets get you in at 4 p.m., letting you enjoy the rides and regular shows before the special party activities begin. Make the most of your night by arriving early and staying ‘til the party ends.

Holidays Around the World

Holidays Around the World Epcot

Epcot lets guests take a quick trip around the world at any time of year, but Christmas is a special time because it offers a glimpse into global holiday celebrations. Costumed Cast Members at each of the pavilions share information on traditions in their countries through storytelling and song. Epcot is also home to the Candlelight Processional, a retelling of the nativity story with a different celebrity narrator each night, accompanied by a live band and choir. The show is free, but its popularity means long lines, so you may want to take advantage of the lunch or dinner package. You get a meal at a select Epcot restaurant and access to a reserved seating area rather than waiting in line and hoping you make it into the theater before it fills.

The nightly Illuminations: Reflections of Earth show adds a special flair during the holiday season, with a souped-up finale. While the show always ends with a bang, the fireworks are even more brilliant during the holiday season.

Disney Springs

Disney is almost finished with a massive renovation of the former Downtown Disney area, now known as Disney Springs. It’s packed with stores, restaurants, and entertainment, and things get kicked up a notch during the holidays. Enjoy Christmas music as you shop for gifts, and take some time out to enjoy the carolers, stilt walkers, and other performers. You’ll see shows centered around Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, and the kids can meet Santa and tell him if they were naughty or nice. Parking is free at Disney Springs, and there’s no admission charge to enter the area, so it offers a nice break if you want to take a day off from the theme parks but still spend some time immersed in holiday magic at Walt Disney World.

Christmas shopping Disney Springs

The Lego Movie 4D – Now Playing At Legoland Florida

March 28th, 2016

Fans of Legoland are in for a treat on their next visit to the Orlando park: Merlin Entertainments has partnered with Warner Bros and The Lego Group to create an incredible 4D animated film. It began screening at all Legoland parks across the world on January 25th. It’s an incredible combination of the popular characters from the smash hit Lego Movie and some truly impressive 4D technology.

lego movie 4d legoland florida

Are you a fan of The Boxtrolls?

Families who love The Boxtrolls will be excited to learn that the writer of The LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure is written by Adam Pava – the same writer of The Boxtrolls. It’s also co-written and directed by the man who directed the sequel to The LEGO Movie (which will premier in 2018). Some of the original voices will be in this special feature, too! They include Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Elizabeth Banks, and Nick Offerman. Patton Oswalt will be added to the cast.

The story behind the adventure

This new 4D movie will follow favorite characters from the movie: Unikitty, Wyldstyle, Benny, and MetalBeard. It picks up right after the group has received a mysterious invitation. Following the instructions leads theme park that was built based on their adventures in the original LEGO movie. Don’t be surprised when nothing is as it seems! Soon the heroes realize that they’re in the middle of a secret, evil plot – but they have help! The audience uses their LEGO building skills to save the day.

lego movie 4d

Special effects make all the difference

Those in the know say that this experience would be wonderful on its own, but it’s truly taken to another level by adding elements like smoke, wind, water, and special lighting. It brings the main characters back together with their friends in an adventure that folks of all ages will enjoy.

The team behind this new experience

Merlin Entertainments PLC is behind this new experience. They’re tops in Europe and second in the world as far as visitor attraction operation. In total they have 111 attractions, 12 hotels, and 4 holiday villages. Their work is in 23 countries and spans 4 continents. Their goal is to deliver experiences that are both memorable and rewarding. Other attractions they’re responsible include Sherk’s Adventure, Blackpool Tower, and the Orlando Eye.

By all accounts this new attraction is one worth checking out. It’s an exciting time at LEGOland, with old favorites holding strong and new attractions being added regularly.

lego movie weekends

Take In Orlando With The Orlando Eye

March 15th, 2016

A trip to the Orlando Eye is the perfect addition to any Orlando vacation, whether it’s your first trip or you’ve been dozens of times and simply want to see the city from a vantage you’ve never experienced before. This attraction offers a truly unique experience and utilizes technology that had never before been used. Let’s take a look at what wonders behold those who take on the Orlando Eye.

orlando eye

Adding new meaning to the “City Beautiful”

Did you know that one of the nicknames of Orlando is City Beautiful? Once you go up in the Orlando Eye you’ll understand why! The Eye will take you up 400 feet into the sky and you’ll be treated to incredible, breathtaking 360 degree views. There’s no better way to see the city and miles and miles of surrounding central Florida. In fact, you can see all the way to Cape Canaveral.

Don’t miss the pre-flight excitement

Before you go up into the Eye itself you have the opportunity to take advantage of the Eagle Eye view in a pre-flight experience. This 4D cinema attraction engages all your senses and has special effects that put most movies to shame. This pre-flight experience is worth the price of admission on its own.

A convenient location makes this attraction even more appealing

Right in the heart of International Drive, at I-Drive 360, the Orlando Eye is easy to get to. It’s not only one of the tallest observation wheels in the country – it’s the tallest on the entire east coast. There are thirty capsules in total, each of which can hold up to 15 people. These high tech pods rotate gradually so you’ll constantly have a brand new perspective.

inside orlando eye pod

Technology makes the experience even better

Every capsule is complete with Apple iPad Air tablets, which add an extra bit of interest to the experience. With them, guests can learn more about the landmarks they’re seeing. The guided tours are available in numerous languages, and there’s so much to learn that guests can ride the Orlando Eye several times and still learning something new on each visit.

The makers of the Orlando Eye have a lot to offer

Anyone who’s visited Madame Tussauds celebrity wax museum, or the incredible SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, won’t be surprised to learn that the Orlando Eye was created by the same masterminds who created those attractions. In fact, there are passes available to visit all three. The SEA Life Orlando Aquarium is one of the most immersive underwater experiences in the entire world and comes highly recommended.

SeaWorld’s Mako Will Be Orlando’s Tallest, Fastest and Longest Roller Coaster

March 10th, 2016

Exciting changes are on the way to SeaWorld Orlando, including Mako, an incredible new roller coaster that’s poised to break some records. This may be surprising to some folks, who don’t think of SeaWorld as a great place to visit for roller coasters, but this could be a game changer. Let’s take a look at what we know so far.

The background of Mako

Mako is named after a shark – but not just any shark. It’s named after one of the very fastest sharks in the world. SeaWorld first began teasing the public in April of 2015. The only thing they revealed at first was that the coaster would be a staggering 200 feet and would break many records. In May they officially announced the construction of Mako and added many new details.

mako roller coaster seaworld orlando

The incredible stats on Mako

SeaWorld already has several roller coasters, but Mako is slated to be something special indeed. The stats are impressive, with a steel track of more than 4,750 feet – which is nearly a mile long! The top speed will be 73 miles per hour, and SeaWorld promises it will leave riders both weightless and breathless. There will be deep dives and huge climbs – all designed to give riders the feeling of the hunt. When it’s completed, it’ll be the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Orlando.

Special effects make all the difference

Another unique aspect of Mako will be its incredible special effects. A special sound system will enhance rider’s experiences both on and off the ride. The score of Mako will follow them as they go up the first lift hill, and additional surround sound effects and scores will follow them on the ride. Nighttime riders are in for a special treat, as special lights accent the coaster, and flicker and shimmer to stimulate fish being scattered as the shark is on the hunt.

seaworld mako coaster

Mako’s place in the park

Mako won’t just be a standalone roller coaster, and it’s not replacing anything. Instead, it’ll be the centerpiece of an entirely new themed area. This plaza is going to be chock full of shark-themed attractions, including a Shark Encounter, and a restaurant called Sharks Underwater Grill. There will also be shops and various educational opportunities for kids and adults alike.

There’s another reason Mako is such a big deal

Besides the many records it’s breaking, Mako is a big deal for SeaWorld for another reason: It’s the first new roller coaster in six years. In fact, that least one to open was Manta, the exciting coaster that soars through the water and gets guests wet. It’s also the first new attraction in three years. The last attraction they added was the popular Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin back in 2013.

Mako’s opening day

While SeaWorld hasn’t officially announced when they’ll be opening Mako we do know that it’s slated for some time in 2016. We’d expect them to try and have it open before the peak season begins in June but only time will tell!

New Star Wars Attractions Coming To Disney’s Hollywood Studios

March 1st, 2016

Fans of Star Wars have a lot to be excited about at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios. Tons of changes are coming, including new themed shows, attractions, food, and more! The Star Wars galaxy will open a bit at a time over the next few years, but those in the know agree that these are changes worth waiting for.

What we know about the new Star Wars features

There are two categories of info about these new features: official info announced by Disney and rumors from Disney insiders. First, let’s take a look at what Disney has officially announced.

Star Wars Launch Bay

Set to go up in what is now the Animation Courtyard, Star Wars Launch Bay will provide guests the opportunity to meet with their favorite characters. Their options will include meeting those from the Dark Side in a Star Destroyer area, or meeting the Rebels in a Rebel Base themed area. In one they’ll meet Darth Vader and in the other they’ll meet Chewbacca.

launch bay hollywood studios disney world

Star Wars Launch Bay will also have a few exhibits. Celebration Gallery and Hallway gives guests a chance to see ships from the Imperial Navy Fleet and the Rebel Alliance, along with other props and murals from the movie. The Preview Gallery will include costumes, models, and artwork from the most recent film. The final stop will be Launch Bay Cargo, which will feature a huge selection of Star Wars merchandise.

Changes to Star Tours

Star Tours has long been one of the most popular attractions in Hollywood Studios, and there’s even more to get excited about, thanks to Disney’s recent changes. They’ve kept the daring adventure intact for the most part, but have added new characters and adventures. The ride is longer, too – which gives fans even more to enjoy.

The return of Jedi Training

Disney guests were bummed to learn that Jedi Training was closing, but the good news is that it’ll be opening again with enhanced features and new characters – including the Seventh Sister Inquisitor. This popular interactive attraction allows kids to step right into the shoes of Jedis in training.

jedi training disney world

Abridged cinematic reels

Guests of the park who want to relive their favorite moments can head to Star Wars: Path of the Jedi to see an abridged cinematic reel with some of the best parts of episodes I – VII.

star wars cupcakes disney worldNew food throughout the park

Restaurants and snack carts throughout the park are embracing the Star Wars spirit. Look for exciting galactic foods like Blue Milk Panna Cotta, BB-8 Lemon and Butter Cream Cupcakes, and Padawan Limeade.

Fireworks only Disney could pull off

Disney World is known for their unsurpassed fireworks, and guests of Hollywood Studios are sure to be excited by the newest Disney fireworks spectacular: Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular. These have been going on nightly since mid-December and are expected to continue indefinitely.

Rumored additions to Star Wars Land

Rumors must be taken with a grain of salt until they’re officially confirmed, but some of the more credible rumors have included:

  • A life-size Millennium Falcon that allows fans to fly in the cockpit
  • The second major attraction will feature Rogue One content
  • A new Disney job listing seems like pretty solid evidence that there will be a Star Wars Rebels meet and greet or show

While the full details of the new Star Wars attractions aren’t yet clear, one thing is certain: this will be an incredible addition that Star Wars fans can get excited about.

 

Interactive Lines At Disney World Make Waiting Easier

February 23rd, 2016

As you decide which Disney attractions to use your FastPass+ on, there are numerous factors to consider. One of the key components many people forget are the lines themselves. Some rides have incredible interactive queues that are almost worth the trip alone. Here’s a comprehensive list of all lines with interactive queues.

Magic Kingdom rides with themed or interactive lines

Some lines are simply heavily themed, meaning there’s plenty to do, while others are actually interactive. Let’s review all of the options in Magic Kingdom and which ones are worth seeing.

7d mine train interactive line disney world

  • Haunted Mansion. There are tons of great things to see and do in this line. The best time to go through is within the first two hours of park opening.
  • Here there’s an entire indoor play area for kids! Using FastPass+ totally bypasses it, so if you’re interested in the play area you’ll need to go in the standby line.
  • Winnie the Pooh. There are numerous hands-on activities in this line. Using FastPass+ still lets you see and experience a few of them, but you’ll be going by quickly.
  • Space Mountain. There are video games to make the long lines more bearable but they’re not worth doing for the sake of doing.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This one is tricky. The interactive elements are truly amazing, but the line can be hours long. Try getting to this ride within the first hour the park opens to avoid long lines but still be able to see the interactive elements.
  • Journey of the Little Mermaid. There are tons of great details in this line but you can see most of them buzzing by in the FastPass+ line.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Some new, updated queue elements are cool but not worth the long lines.
  • Peter Pan’s Flight. This is another newly revamped line with some very cool themed elements. Still, the line can be unbearably long. Best to use FastPass+ for this one.

Epcot

There is only one ride in Epcot with an interactive queue: Soarin’. At the moment, it’s closed to improve this queue. Before the improvements it was certainly not worth seeing, but only time will tell if the improvements make it a must-see.

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios is undergoing some serious changes, thanks to the building of both Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land. At the moment there are a few rides with interactive queues. Who knows what the park will look like in just a few years!

  • Toy Story Midway Mania. There’s lots to see in this queue but nothing worth waiting in the 120+ minute long lines.
  • Tower of Terror. This is likely the most impressively themed queue in all four parks. However, everyone gets to see it FastPass+ or not.
  • Star Tours. Fans of the movies will love the queue, but once again most details can be experienced from the FastPass+ line too.

toy story mania interactive line

Animal Kingdom

The only ride in Animal Kingdom with noteworthy theming is Expedition Everest. It’s not worth waiting in a long line for though, so we recommend either using a FastPass+, taking advantage of the single rider line, or visiting it right when the park opens or in the last hour the park is open.

Gluten Free Eating At Disney World

February 11th, 2016

Many Disney World guests following a gluten-free diet are understandably worried that their options will be limited, or that they’ll have difficulty determining what they can and can’t eat. The good news is that Disney takes all food restrictions seriously. If you’re eating at a table service restaurant, be sure to note on your reservation that you are gluten-free. Not only will you have options available, but the chef will come to your table to consult with you about what you can and can’t eat, and offer their recommendations. Below are just a few of the gluten-free choices we recommend.

Garden Kiosk in Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom has an amazing food allergy kiosk specifically for guests who have special diet needs – including dietary restrictions and food allergies. Cast members are there every day from 9 am to 3 pm and are specially trained to handle these questions and offer advice. They also sell pre-packaged snacks, many of which are gluten-free, and even gluten-free beer.

garden kiosk animal kingdom gluten free

Splitsville in Disney Springs

Another great option is not in the parks themselves, but is in the newly revamped Disney Springs. Splitsville, an upscale bowling alley, has an impressive 16 gluten-free dishes. They include tasty entrees like rick bowls, pizzas, BLT sandwiches, grilled salmon, and more!

Flame Tree BBQ in Animal Kingdom

This spot gets a special place on the list because it’s a quick service option. Though you’ll have gluten-free options at every table service restaurant, that’s not necessarily the case at every counter service or snack kiosk. Flame Tree BBQ offers open air dining and great options like BBQ chicken and coleslaw. They even have gluten-free brownies!

gluten free treats flaming tree bbq disney

Biergarten in EPCOT

Biergarten is not just a restaurant, it’s also a fantastic experience. The food is buffet style and a German show takes place while guests sit around communal tables and chow down. All you have to do is let your server know you’re gluten-free and the chef will come out, walk you through the buffet, and explain what you can and can’t eat. There are tons of choices, and sometimes the chefs even come back out and present guests with pre-packaged gluten-free treats for later snacking.

Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom

Crystal Palace is another buffet, and just like at Biergarten you can expect the chef to walk you through and let you know what you can eat. They have many options, including shrimp, quinoa salad, roast chicken, carving station, and they’ll even bring out tapioca rolls. Make sure you save room for the best part: a special chocolate dessert that many swear is the best gluten-free dessert in all of Disney World.

crystal palace disney world gluten free

Mama Melrose at Hollywood Studios

Mama Melrose is a table service Italian restaurant with adorable theming and tons of gluten-free options. The best thing about this restaurant, for those with gluten intolerance, is that most of their gluten-free options are naturally gluten-free. They do offer GFI rolls, desserts, etc. but they also have numerous meat dishes served with delectable sauces and sides that naturally contain no gluten.

Disney World offers so many options for guests with special needs – including those with dietary restrictions. These are just a few of the places you can have delicious food with no hassle.

Downtown Disney Is Now Disney Springs

February 1st, 2016

As of September 29th, 2015, the shopping and entertainment hub once known as Downtown Disney is officially Disney Springs. This is a huge re-imagination of the area that will almost double the size, add shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

Disney Springs is set up into four neighborhoods

Construction will be complete sometime in the middle of 2016. When all is said and done there will be four separate neighborhoods for guests to enjoy: Marketplace, Town Center, The Landing, and West Side. Each will have unique theming, shops, restaurants, and entertainment.

disney springs view

The Landing

Those familiar with Downtown Disney of yesterday will remember The Landing as Pleasure Island. It’s an outdoor neighborhood and several new restaurants will make their home there: The Boathouse, Tea Traders Café by Joffrey, Morimoto Asia, Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar, and STK Orlando. There’s plenty of other nightlife in The Landing, including The Edison, a gothic-style club themed to the 1920s with Cabaret performances.

Several new stores will make their way to The Landing:

  • Art of Shaving
  • Sanuk
  • Vivoli Getateria
  • APEX by Sunglass Hut
  • Erin McKenna’s Bakery
  • Sound Lion
  • Art of Shaving
  • Chapel Hats
  • Havaianas
  • Erwin Pearl

erin mckennas bakery disney springs

Town Center

Town Center is another outdoor neighborhood. There guests will find a mixture of dining and shopping, plus a relaxing promenade guests can stroll down while taking in the beautiful surroundings.

The Marketplace

The Marketplace was part of the original Downtown Disney, but they’re adding a larger World of Disney Store, plus new retailers. At the moment, the Village Causeway is open, which connects one end of the Marketplace, close to the LEGO Store, to the other end, near the Rainforest Café. As guests walk this causeway they’ll find a variety of retailers selling everything from toys to local specialties like Flour & Sugar, a Florida-themed cookie company, and Florida Bath Co.

Dockside Margaritas, while not new, has benefited from a facelift and taken on a bigger menu, which includes local beers, Florida wines, and brand new cocktails. Its location on the waterfront makes it a great place for a casual meal or drink.

dockside margaritas

West Side

The West Side was also a part of Downtown Disney. There guests can check out live entertainment, and elevated spots that offer shade and great views of the entertainment. A new NBA experience will also be added later this year, and will including food, shopping, and interactive activities. It will go in where DisneyQuest used to be.

New parking

One of the biggest complaints about Downtown Disney was the lack of parking. Disney took that complaint seriously and has built two new parking garages, with a total vehicle capacity of more than 6,000. This will be a relief to anyone who’s tried to park there on a Friday night in the past!

There’s no question that exciting things are in store for Disney Springs. From all evidence it looks like it’s shaping up to a be a totally overhaul that will be well worth the wait.

disney springs dining