Aug 242016
 

When not using the Disney Dining Plan, eating can be expensive.  We always pack a small hard exterior carry on luggage with snacks and non-perishable breakfast items.  This way, you save money on food and have extra room to bring back special purchases!! (Submitted by Nathalie J.)

 

Best of Be Our Guest Podcast

BOGP Logo 300x300x72Each issue we will feature a snippet of what you could learn by listening to the Be Our Guest Podcast. Be sure to check back each issue for more fun.

Episode 1056 – What’s Included – Disney Cruise Line Entertainment

We needed to relax today and head out to sea!  Mike, Pam and Rikki discuss those things that are included in your Disney Cruise Line fare that really make the experience incredible!  From desk parties to trivia to first-run movies, we talk about our favorites!

The Be Our Guest Podcast is hosted by Disney lover Mike and co-hosted by fellow Disney aficionados Pam and Rikki. The show covers everything from listener experiences to questions about how to make the most of your dream trip to the world! We hope you will join us each week as we share our love of all things Disney and hope you will share yours as well.

The BOGP family has members from all over the world and we hope you will join us!

Listen to us every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Be Our Guest Podcast!

Jun 152016
 

By Tim Rogers

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Dining at Disney World is a lot of fun. With over 100 restaurants representing numerous styles and traditions, Disney offers guests a smorgasbord of possibilities when dining (including some literal smorgasbords).

 

But what about vegetarians? If you grew up not eating meat, like me, you might also have a ready made list of restaurants, trips, special occasions, family gatherings, and more where you found that there was nothing for you to eat, or that “vegetarian” option wasn’t actually vegetarian.

 

But at Disney World, you don’t have to worry, and with these tips, you can make the most of your trip to the World.

Tip 1: Do your homework

If you are reading this, I probably don’t have to tell you that trips to Disney World take some planning, from what tickets to buy, what resort to stay at, how to get there, and more. But especially if you are worried about or just thinking about food, part of your preparation should be to check out some Disney restaurant menus.

By perusing the options, you can get an idea of the places that might have more interesting options, what some of the options might be and more. Note that many of the menus are changed seasonally, so a specific menu item you see now might be changed in a year, but you will at least know the type of options available, and they might even make it for you anyway. That brings us to…

Tip 2: Don’t be afraid to ask

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As mentioned above, the first thing you can ask for is old menu items that might not still be listed. Depending on what it is, many restaurants are able to accommodate this request.

But Disney’s help to vegetarians does not end there. If nothing on the menu strikes your fancy, ask your server if there are any other options for vegetarians. Some restaurants have a separate vegetarian menu; others might ask the chef if he or she can use their creativity for you. It’s not guaranteed that this will happen, but if you don’t ask you won’t know.

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At many counter service locations, you can also get specific items a la carte or ask for meat to be left off, so as to not pay for non-vegetarian items you won’t eat or miss out on something that sounds great except for that one meat item.

But sometimes asking can just be a clarification. For example, every vegetarian is different and the standard what they will eat changes. Some eat fish, some won’t eat items with chicken stock or gelatin, but just by looking it can be hard to tell what is “safe.” So if you aren’t sure, just ask.

My favorite example of this is when my wife and I ate at the Biergarten, and through some miscommunication the kitchen got notified that we had a food allergy (special note, if you have a food allergy the Disney chef’s will take great care of you), so a chef came out to walk us through the buffet so we wouldn’t accidentally encounter an allergen. When he found out we were just vegetarians, he walked us through the buffet anyway, and that extra help let us know that one of the soups was made with chicken stock (which matters to me) and confirmed some items that did not have any meat. It was incredibly helpful and a great service from the Disney CMs.

 

Tip 3: Go to a buffet

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Speaking of buffets, go and eat at them. Besides often including characters or a show, buffets provide a ton of options for all palates. As an extra tip, look at the difference between lunch and dinner at buffets – many of them charge more at dinner and the only real difference is an additional meat option or two, which will do nothing for a vegetarian. You can get the same experience for less at lunch.

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While I have enjoyed several buffets at Disney World (including Biergarten, which is probably the biggest surprise), the one I would recommend to any vegetarian (or really anyone) is Tusker House. Located in the Africa section of the Animal Kingdom, Tusker House has safari themed versions of Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy, but more importantly a wide selection of African and Indian themed foods. This theme provides a wide range of vegetarian options, all of which are great. If you are looking for one buffet to try as a vegetarian, this one should be near the top of your list.

 

Tip 4: Try a signature meal

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While Disney service is great on many different levels, the signature meals take it up a notch. Signature restaurants are more likely to be able to accommodate special requests, and the food is fantastic. I have personally experienced this at Jiko and California Grill, and in both cases was able to get interesting and delicious vegetarian options with impeccable service. Signature meals are pricey, but for a special moment they are definitely worth it.

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Tip 5: Try new things

As seen above, Disney really goes above and beyond in accommodating vegetarians who visit the parks. One of my concerns growing up, and after many of the “incidents” I mentioned in the introduction, is that I stayed very much in a narrow comfort zone of items involving combinations of bread and cheese (side note, who doesn’t love some bread and cheese though). For me, a cruise was actually the experience that broke me out of that and exposed me to a whole range of cuisines. What made the difference is I knew what I was eating would be “safe” because of the level of information, service and care given by the wait staff.

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Disney does that as well. If you, or someone you know, is a little bit of a skittish vegetarian, a trip to Disney World can really open you up to a new world of culinary options. Just get out there and give it a shot.

Jan 282015
 

Share your best tips for dealing with Disney when it’s cold out to info@magically-speaking.com

 

We’ve got some great dining tips to share with you, thanks to a reader, Cainlamance, that include:

  • Start the day with a big breakfast to keep you going.
  • Eat lots of protein.
  • Pack snack throughout the snack as needed.
  • If possible, eat lunch later to avoid crowds and if eating supper in the park, eat later to avoid crowds again. Or eat snack then early dinner. My family loves Disney but try to avoid the crowded eating times.

 

Best of Be Our Guest Podcast

 

BOGPLogoEach issue we will feature a snippet of what you could learn by listening to the Be Our Guest Podcast. Be sure to check back each issue for more fun.

 

Episode 811 – Grand Floridian & Beach Club Villas Stay

Listener Jocelyn is here to discuss her split stay at both Disney’s Grand Floridian and Disney’s Beach Club. She shares the differences in staying in a studio vs. staying in a one bedroom Disney Vacation Club accommodations. She also shares her experience at the Epcot After Hours Wind Down which took place last Fall.

Find out more about Jocelyn’s trip on this episode.

Listen to the podcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Be Our Guest Podcast!

Sep 172014
 

 

Eating Vegan at Epcot

 

 

By Teresa Pittman

“You do know this is a steakhouse, right?” The chef who had been brought to our table at Le Cellier was apparently not impressed to hear that we were vegan.

Yes, we knew. But we also knew we were in Walt Disney World, where vegans can usually count on finding food they can eat – even at Le Cellier. Sure enough, our teasing but good-natured chef prepared us seasoned tofu strips with perfectly-spiced vegetables and brought out a vegan “ice cream” for dessert.

I’ve been vegan for eight years now, and others in my family have been vegan for much longer. (Apparently, I’m a slow learner.) This change in eating has made me love WDW even more, because it’s one of the places where I know I’ll be able to find good food I can actually eat.

A few years ago, I interviewed the man who was at the time the restaurant manager of the Sci-Fi Drive-in. He described to me the extensive training the restaurant staff receive about different “special diets” (including vegan, gluten-free, etc.) as well as about food allergies. No Disney CM is going to suggest that since you are vegan, you might like the lamb dish or the cheese-covered pizza! And the chefs are usually happy to make some changes to give you the vegan meal of your dreams.

Of course, especially during busier times, it helps to know which locations have vegan items on the menu or ones that are easily adapted. Here are a few of my favorites to help you enjoy your Epcot dining experiences:

Snacks:

You may not know that many WDW snacks are vegan. Those lovely warm soft pretzels? Vegan. The somewhat-buttery-tasting popcorn? Vegan. The Kaki Gori ice treat with sweet fruity syrup (from the Japan pavilion)? Yes, vegan. And don’t forget that fruit and vegetables are also available in many counter-service restaurants and snack kiosks.

Craving more fruits and veggies? Since the kids’ meals have carrot sticks, grapes and applesauce as sides for counter-service orders, you can usually have those items added to your meal to replace French fries or another less-desirable accompaniment. They are pre-packaged, so it’s easy to take them along with you for a snack later.

Counter-service favorites:

Vegan at Sunshine Seasons

Sunshine Seasons. While the menu here changes frequently, there is usually a vegan entrée for your enjoyment. On my last trip (February 2014), we enjoyed a stir-fry made with vegetables and vegan “chicken” in a light gingery sauce. Very tasty. Also check the “special diets” snack/dessert section as you may find such treats as vegan caramel corn, vegan cookies or vegan brownies.

Tangierine Café. The vegetable platter here provides generous portions of falafel, couscous, hummus, tabouleh, lentil salad and marinated olives. It’s like a Moroccan feast on one plate for under $11! Be sure to ask about the ingredients, though, as some may contain non-vegan ingredients. Usually we have been able to substitute a larger portion of another item for the one we can’t have. Another good option here – the falafel wrap. Again, check to be sure the falafel are vegan, as this seems to change from time to time.

Table-service favorites:

Here’s the thing. The Epcot restaurants rarely have vegan options on their menus, and the vegetarian ones are often heavy with vegan no-nos like cheese and eggs. Don’t let this worry you! When you make your Advanced Dining Reservation, note that you are vegan. When you arrive at the restaurant, let your server know and ask to see the chef.

This all works better if you are eating at a less-busy time (either because the parks are not crowded anyway or because you have arrived for your meal either earlier or later than most guests), so the chefs have more time to get creative with your meal. I’ve had the best luck by asking the chef to surprise me – I let them know what I like (lots of veggies, lots of spice) and what I don’t really care for (rice and pasta). The results have almost always been amazing.

Rose and Crown: I’ve enjoyed vegan versions of the curry, the shepherd’s pie and the cottage pie as well as original dishes that the chef made up for us! The chefs here are excellent and seem to know their way around vegan cooking. The Apple and Frisee salad is also incredibly refreshing. A lovely way to end the day in Epcot is to enjoy dinner out on the Rose and Crown patio while watching Illuminations.

Tokyo Dining: I tend to avoid ordinary Japanese and Thai restaurants because not only am I vegan, I am severely allergic to shellfish. (I know, it’s a wonder anyone will even go to a restaurant with me.) At Disney, though, I know they will be careful to avoid cross-contamination, and I can enjoy the vegetable tempura and vegetable sushi offered here – a real treat for me!

Marrakesh: There are a couple of vegan salad options and vegetable couscous as an entrée here. In my experience, the food here tends to be only very lightly spiced, to the point of being bland – which is a shame because Moroccan food I’ve eaten at other places has been well-spiced with lots of complex flavor. It does help to tell your server that you’d like the spicier versions.

Via Napoli: Yay, pizza! Just ask for the toppings you want with no cheese. Simple and delicious.

While these are my top faves, don’t assume you won’t be able to get vegan options at other places. You can get a veggie burger at Electric Umbrella, for example, and a vegan “chicken breast” sandwich at Liberty Inn (at the American Adventure pavilion).

 

Vegan at Food and Wine

The Food and Wine Festival: has always been a bit frustrating for me, as few options are vegan. However, the past few years the Terra booth has offered a couple of vegan entrees and a dessert and they have been excellent. (They use the Gardein meat substitutes, if you are familiar with those.) So if you are there during Food and Wine, be sure to drop by the Terra booth and enjoy!

We’ve just scratched the surface! I’ll be back with future articles sharing details on where you can enjoy vegan dishes in the rest of the parks!

 

Aug 212013
 

When you get in trouble and you don’t know right from wrong
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle! – Jiminy Cricket

Q.  We are using the dining plan for the first time and I wondered if certain entrees are excluded from the plan at the signature restaurants or can we order from the entire menu at the participating restaurants. I enjoy reading all the info and answers to Disney dilemmas.  (Submitted by JM)

Continue reading »

Jun 122013
 

By Kristi Letsinger

Be Our Guest 3

I recently had the pleasure of going to Walt Disney World for a few days for a family vacation.  We had heard all of the fuss about the new Be Our Guest Restaurant so we decided to try it.  The dinner reservations here fill up fast and we weren’t able to get one so we decided to try it as a counter service for lunch.  (Editor Note:  Kristi isn’t kidding when she says the dinner reservations fill fast.  They are full at the 180 day mark.)

We entered the park about 10 am in the pouring rain.  Florida was experiencing their first tropical storm for the year and we were in the center of it.  We raced to the line for Be Our Guest and to our surprise at 10:15 there were about 50 families already in line ponchos, umbrellas and all.  The restaurant opened at 10:30, however, at about 10:20 they began taking families inside to line up.  The line did move quickly and after a few more minutes of a torrential downpour we were able to get the lobby area.

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