Everything Walt Disney World

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New Magic Kingdom Security Measures Mean Shorter Lines for You

Since the installation of much-needed metal detectors at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom, getting into our favorite park has been difficult. Long security lines frequently pushed out as far as the ferry boat entrance, making it difficult for guests to even get into line coming from the boat and the bus stop area. Disney attempted to rectify this situation by adding more security lines, but to no avail: lines were out of control.

So how do you keep visitors to Disney’s busiest park happy? Well, the latest solution is to move security to several different locations. So far, it’s working quite well, especially for guests staying at the monorail resorts.

This is the walkway from the Contemporary Resort to the Magic Kingdom.  Guests coming from this resort will go through security here if they choose to walk to the park. It moved quickly. In fact, things were so slow, one of the cast members working there jokingly told me, “I’ve been talking to the plants. So far, they haven’t answered back.”

Guests taking the monorail from the Contemporary, Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian will go through security before the enter the monorail. I stayed at the Grand last week and things went very smoothly there, even during busier times.

Here’s another view of the Grand Floridian’s security line.

As you can see, this is a nice bonus for monorail guests, who will simply exit the monorail and walk right up to the touch points and enter the park.  It really was a breeze getting into the park this way.

If you’re parking at the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) and taking the ferry or monorail to the Magic Kingdom, you’ll go through security after you exit the tram.

The tram drop off and pick up area has been moved further from the covered area (towards the road) to make room for security.

Here’s another view of the new tram drop off area. Security and bag check is to your right.

After you go through security, you’ll choose whether to take the monorail or the ferry, same as before. Note that guests going to Epcot will have to go through security again when they visit that park. Also, if you are a guest at a monorail resort and you are taking the monorail to Epcot, you’ll go through security twice: once when leaving your resort and again when you arrive at Epcot. That seems to be the only glitch and even that is minor.

Next up, buses. I think it’s tempting to think that bus riders might have it the most difficult, but keep in mind, you’ve always had to go through security at the Magic Kingdom. Now you’re just doing it with fewer people, as monorail and ferry boat riders have already gone through the process. This means your time in line is going to be much shorter.

As you can see, even during a busy early evening in April, lines were short.

A lot of times Disney fans don’t like change. I get it because if they ever took out Carousel of Progress, I would be the first to chain myself to the building! But this is good change we can all agree on. Lines are moving faster and there’s less congestion, which means you get into the park faster. And who doesn’t want that?

 

 

Disney’s Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast

 

There’s a new character breakfast in Walt Disney World and it has two of your favorite princesses, Ariel and Rapunzel, plus their Princes, Eric and Flynn. Okay, never mind that Flynn isn’t technically a prince The fact is, Flynn is there and yes, he brought his smolder–and his charm–with him.  Called the Bon Voyage Character Breakfast, it’s located at the Trattoria al Forno on the Boardwalk. You can get there by walking out the World Showcase entrance at Epcot or going to the Boardwalk Inn. We parked at the Boardwalk Inn for our 7:30 breakfast.  If you’ve never eaten at Trattoria al Forno, it’s one of Disney World’s hidden gems at dinner, with the type of entrees and ingredients you’d expect at a much more expensive eatery.  This breakfast proved no different: we were impressed with both the quality and service. Here’s the nitty-gritty on this top notch character breakfast.

The Menu:

I’m going to save picky eaters a lot of time: Order the pancakes. Everything on the menu is more adventurous than you might expect on a Disney breakfast menu. Think poached eggs over polenta with fennel sausage and marinara or scrambled eggs with peppers and, again, more marinara. It’s more brunch than breakfast, but from my own experience and from what I’ve heard from clients already, this is a menu, which is strongly influenced by Italian flavors, that will cause less adventurous eaters some difficulty.

Having said that–oh my gosh everything was delicious! You’re first served a fruit bowl and pastries, all of which were fresh and plentiful.  Your pastries are served in a cast iron frying pan, an homage to Rapunzel’s weapon of choice.

My daughter had the Mickey waffles. Nothing memorable there, but typical kid-fare. She was pleased. The adults at the table had the omelette with salmon and vegetables and the two poached eggs over polenta, called “Two Eggs Poached Underwater” here. Both were delicious, but the eggs over polenta was the real star of the menu. Trattoria al Forno makes their own fennel sausage (as well as some of their fresh cheese like ricotta and some pastas as well) and if I had to give you one reason to visit, it would be this. It’s so fresh and delicious I could eat it every day.  The sausage mingled perfectly with the marinara and the perfectly poached eggs ran into the polenta, making it even more creamy.

One quick caveat: Sunday gravy on the menu here is not sausage gravy that those of us in the south are used to. It’s marinara. Know this and you won’t be wondering where your biscuits are !

Character Interaction:

Flynn comes out first and had plenty of time to chat with each table before Rapunzel arrived. We felt the character interaction here was more slow-paced than at some other locations,  but keep in mind the restaurant was only about 70% full. I would expect that to change as word gets out about this place.  Prince Eric came out next, followed shortly by Ariel. After the characters had made the rounds, everyone was invited to join in a parade around the room.  My daughter decided to play shy when Prince Eric came around.

This was not the case with Flynn, however, who was kind enough to demonstrate “the smolder” to my daughter and a cast member friend of mine.

Rapunzel was a huge hit.

In addition to the parade, guests are encouraged to write about their own journey.

As well as to record their own dream

What? They asked what my dream is. Anyway . . . .

Final Thoughts:

At $34 for guests 10 and up and $20 for children ages 3 to 9, the Bon Voyage Breakfast is in keeping with the cost of most character breakfast on property. It’s a great deal, at least so far. The food is excellent and the character interaction is well-paced. We didn’t fell like we were being inundated with characters, which can make eating impossible, nor did we feel we were being ignored. The slightly smaller dining room helps with the latter, by the way, as does the fact that there are only four characters in attendance. If you have a child who loves meeting the princesses, or if you like meeting them yourself, definitely add this to your list.

This experience is one table service credit on the Disney Dining Plan. Tables in Wonderland is accepted. Check your benefits to see if annual pass or Disney Vacation Club discounts apply. 

 

The Dress Shop on Cherry Tree Lane

The newly-revitalized Disney Springs is home to lots of clothing boutiques, from Kate Spade to Lilly Pulitzer, but there’s a new shop on the block that’s getting all the attention. Designed to appeal to retro-loving Disney fans, The Dress Shop on Cherry Tree Lane features Disney-inspired dresses designed with a nod to the 1950s and 60s.  Think  Tiki Room inspired sundresses, a pretty blue “Belle” dress with a darling white collar, cap sleeves, and a book motif on the hem, even a bellman themed dress for all you Tower of Terror lovers.  You can even get a bag that looks like Cogsworth.

Price-wise, expect to pay around $120 per dress.  That might sounds steep, but I love to shop and I wear a lot of dresses and I thought this price was actually fair considering the quality and flattering design.  The fabric is a heavy cotton, seams are sturdy, as are zippers.   I was told that Disney tested their dresses on many cast members with different body types to find the most flattering fit. Thankfully, these dresses aren’t just designed for size zero girls–they’re made to fit and flatter  wide range of body types.

Beauty and the Beast, The Haunted Mansion, Alice in Wonderland and more are represented here. The day I arrived, two days after the shop opened, they had already sold out of a number of designs and the shop was full of people not just looking, but buying–some of them a lot! The Orange Bird dress caught my eye, as did the pretty pastel Alice in Wonderland dress. I  also loved the Snow White inspired dress on the right and saw it on several guests in the park last week. If you’ll notice the bodice, it doesn’t have the rouching that some of the other dresses have, which flatters curvier figures.

As far as sizing is concerned, you’ll probably need to take a size or two down from your normal dress size. I bought my Orange Bird dress in a medium, which is probably equivalent to a Kate Spade size 10 or a Banana Republic or Gap size 8.  These dresses are generously sized in the bust, so keep that in mind as well.  To me, the bust fit like a roomy size 12. Straps are adjustable, so shorter ladies won’t have to worry about gaps. The cut on the sun dresses is low but not so low that you’ll feel like you’re  over-exposed.  I am a bit over five feet tall and my dress hit several inches below the knees, long enough so that even taller women can add a crinoline (which they sell here!) if they like and it won’t be too short. The good news is, this shop caters to all shapes and sizes, so petite ladies and those who wear larger sizes (around a size 22 or so) will find some nice options.

On the day I visited, the shop, which is located in the Marketplace section of Disney Springs, had a pop up with Pin Up Girl Clothing, or PUG as it’s commonly known, which makes beautiful mid-20th century inspired dresses. I suspect, although I have no confirmation here, that the folks behind PUG had a hand in designing some of the dresses featured in the shop since the sizing, quality and the design is very similar. That’s not a bad thing since most of us who love vintage reproduction are huge PUG fans.

So did I buy anything? Well, of course I did. I have always loved Orange Bird so I picked up a dress (I would have bought the Tiki Room dress as well but it was sold out). I’m not so sure about the print, but I love the cut and quality. If it doesn’t end up working for me, I’ll put it  on Ebay. But right now, it looks pretty and cheerful hanging in my closet.  What about you? Will you be checking out The Dress Shop?

Sneak Peek at Satu’li Canteen in Pandora: The World of Avatar

Disney keeps giving us hints of what to expect when Pandora opens in May.  Next up, the Satu’li Canteen, a fast-casual restaurant where the focus is on healthy proteins,  good grains, and vegetables, with an “on stage” grill as a focal point.  This isn’t your usual quick-service location. Instead, expect slightly more exotic fare. From the Disney Parks Blog:

Look for familiar dishes with a twist in the fast-casual restaurant, with bowls that allow diners to customize their lunch or dinner. Diners start with a base of quinoa and vegetable salad; red and sweet potato hash; mixed whole-grain and rice or romaine and kale salad. Next is either with wood-grilled chicken, slow-roasted beef, sustainable fish or chili-spiced fried tofu. And the bowl is finished with charred onion chimichurri, black bean vinaigrette or creamy herb dressing.

The menu also offers steamed “pods” – bao buns with either cheeseburger or vegetable curry and served with root vegetable chips and crunchy vegetable slaw.

For little ones, there’s an option of grilled chicken or beef, fish or tofu with greens or rice; a hot dog wrapped in Parker House dough; cheese quesadilla, or a steamed “pod” (cheeseburger bao bun).

Everything on Disney property has a story (even the shops!) and this restaurant is no exception:

The Satu’li Canteen was once the main mess hall of the Resources Development Administration (RDA) base located in the Valley of Mo’ara. Now the canteen is owned and operated by Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE) tour company and has been redesigned into a beautiful museum-like dining room.

This is the first restaurant on property where you can use the “Mobile Order” option in your  MyDisneyExperience app. You’ll order and pay (right now, it’s credit cards only) and when you arrive at the restaurant, you’ll tap the “I’m here” button in the app and it will alert the restaurant to start preparing your meal. Easy peasy! I like it.

While  the entire menu has not been released yet,  Satu’li Canteen looks like a great option for adventurous eaters and those who want healthier options in the parks. I’ll be checking it out as soon as they let me in! Who’s with me?

Just a quick FYI: If you’re not using the “Mobile Order” option, you can use your quick-service dining plan credits. 

Will There Be a Soft Opening for Pandora?

Caveat: this post is based on good old-fashioned conjecture. I welcome your thoughts as well. 

Disney is opening an entirely new section of Animal Kingdom on May 27. It’s called Pandora: The World of Avatar, and as the name suggests, it’s themed after the movie Avatar. Now that we have an official opening date, what about those guests who are visiting before Pandora official opens?  Will they get a chance to experience this new attraction or will they have to wait until their next visit?  The good news is, they probably will get a sneak peek.  Historically, Disney has opened attractions and lands up to two months prior to the official opening.  They call these previews “soft openings” and Disney understandably loves them. Here’s why:

It’s What Disney Does.

In recent years, individual rides such as Toy Story Midway Mania, have opened well in advance of the official opening date. For example, the new Fantasyland Expansion officially opened on December 6, 2012, but soft openings started on October 12.  Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, the second part of the Fantasyland Expansion’s opening, officially opened on May 28, 2014, with soft openings starting on May 21.  The shorter time frame of the latter was due to the many issues the ride experienced leading up to the opening, but we haven’t seen those issues cropping up in Pandora, at least not regarding the actual rides.

Soft Openings Make Sense.

Think of soft openings as a sort of dress rehearsal, a way to work out kinks before the big opening day. You’ll usually get a heads up a day or two prior to the first soft opening, but Disney can close it at any time if there are major issues that need to be addressed. Keep an eye on social media for updates of closures so you can save yourself the disappointment of going over specifically for that reason.

Because soft openings allow for closures at any time, they just make sense. You can’t exactly close an entire land after opening day, but it’s easy to close for a day or two during the soft opening phase. In fact, this happened a lot during the Fantasyland Expansion. One day you would go to the Magic Kingdom and the new section would be open. The next day, you’d see a cast member tasked with the unfortunate job of turning away forlorn guests.  Keep in mind also that closures may occur any time during the day. Openings for that matter, as well.  While I don’t recommend hanging around the gates of Pandora waiting for it to open, plenty of people did it for the new Fantasyland.

Keep in mind that Disney has a media event scheduled on May 25 (incidentally, the same day Universal opens Volcano Bay–pretty clever, right?).  In fact, the actual media event already happened earlier this month, when the major ABC shows previewed the rides and attractions for their viewers. In the coming weeks, pictures will be leaked, tweets will be tweeted, and excitement will build as guests are gradually let in. There will be no actual surprises, as far as the actual attractions are concerned, on the day of the media event. Everything will be out by then.  And that’s fine, because all this build up is good business.

Why it won’t be as early as The Fantasyland Expansion.

I’m torn on this one. As noted above, with the Fantasyland Expansion, soft openings started two months prior to the actual opening.  This means that a soft opening could conceivably be as early as right now! When you add to that the fact that major media outlets have already been admitted into that section of the park, that means that the major attractions are ready to go, leaving one to presume that nothing remains but a few finishing touches.  Here’s the problem with that line of reasoning however:  Fantasyland soft openings happened during some of the slowest weeks of the year, excluding Thanksgiving.   The weeks before and after Easter are one of Disney’s busiest travel periods.  You don’t soft open a new attraction when the parks are at their most chaotic.

The folks over at Animal Kingdom took a major hit with its nighttime show, Rivers of Light, last year. You may recall that Disney scheduled a media preview for late April 2016 and ended up having very little to show guests during that event. In fact, the show just opened in February, although cast member previews started in December.  These previews gave cast members a brief look at what to expect, but were plagued by mechanical failures. Sporadic soft openings are fine, we saw these during the Fantasyland Expansion, but not during busy periods when you can potentially fail in front of huge crowds.  Rivers of Light was a hard lesson learned.

What makes more sense? Cast member previews starting after Easter. Disney Vacation Club (DVC) member previews and annual passholder previews starting after that.  Right now, Disney is heavily pushing DVC ownership, not just because they’re continually adding to inventory, but also because it’s DVC’s 25th anniversary. By throwing DVC members the proverbial bone, they keep them happy and generate interest among non-owners who follow Disney-oriented social media outlets–non-owners who already love Disney but haven’t yet taken the plunge and bought into its timeshare.

So When Will It Happen? 

If Disney follows their usual schedule of cast member, DVC, and passholder previews, where does that leave everyone else? I would imagine, and keep in mind that this is just conjecture, that you’ll see soft openings starting in early May. Crowds are low and more manageable during this time period, allowing Disney to fix any potential issues prior to the May 25 media event and subsequent formal opening. It also, as noted above, allows them to close the attraction down at will with minimal complaints from guests. A “soft opening” is just that: you shouldn’t expect it but it’s an awfully nice perk if it happens for you.

What do you think? Heard any good gossip about when Pandora might soft open?

Cinderella’s Royal Table is a Huge Waste of Money. Here’s Why You’ll Go Anyway

Last month, my 9-year old daughter and I had breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom. For the uninitiated, CRT, as it’s commonly known, is located in Cinderella (adding the “S” is a faux pas among Disney fans) Castle. It’s one of the most coveted reservations on Disney property. It’s also one of the most expensive and one that, quite frankly, will leave you feeling a little bit ripped off. Here’s what to expect and why you’ll go anyway.

One excited kid.

You can’t talk about CRT without first mentioning the cost. You’ll pay around $60 for breakfast for guests ages 10 and up. Kids 3 – 9 are around $35. Keep in mind these prices are a few dollars higher during busy holiday periods like Christmas. Lunch and dinner is around $74 per adult and $48 per child. Children under 3 are technically free in that they may eat off of another member of their party’s plate; of course you can also order a meal for them. Your set price includes a drink, entree and dessert. Breakfast comes with a plate of pastries–the same pastries you’ll get at breakfast all over property.  Your price includes gratuity as well.

No matter how you try to sell it to yourself, this is an expensive meal, and for an expensive meal, you expect great food, right? Well, lower your expectations, because you’re not really here for the food, you’re here for the experience. Sadly, the experience itself is somewhat lacking, but more on that later.   Kids meals are a bit skimpy for kids on the higher end of the “kids menu” age range.

My daughter ordered the standard kids’ breakfast, which came with a scoop of eggs, two slices of bacon, and a Mickey waffle. It’s not a huge amount of food, but since the characters are coming at you less than three minutes apart, your child won’t have time to eat it anyway. I ordered the spinach and eggs with steak. It was good, but it was overpowered by a large scoop of boursin cheese.  Cut that in half and it would have been much more enjoyable.

Since you’re not really here for the food, or at least you shouldn’t be, let’s get down to the real reason for your visit:  Seeing Cinderella Castle and meeting the princesses.  No matter what you’re age, if you were raised on Cinderella and Disney, going into the castle is a big deal. There are really only two ways for regular guests to go inside the castle: One is to make an appointment at Bibbity Bobbity Boutique for a princess makeover (and sorry, if you’re over 12, no makeover for you!) and the other, of course, is to have a meal in the castle. You’ll check in at the desk at the entrance and then wait a few minutes before you’re admitted into a large meet and greet area. Cinderella is there to say hello and for a photo.

After that, you’ll go upstairs to be seated. We didn’t see Cinderella this trip, but my daughter was so excited as we went up the staircase, she didn’t really care. And that’s the magic of being a kid and going into Cinderella Castle. We were seated on the edge of the circular room with a great view of the entire area.

Service is friendly and efficient, but to say that it’s also brisk is really an understatement: we received our drinks and food almost immediately. Characters came and went so quickly that we barely had time to take a few bites. This didn’t bother my daughter at all, inexplicably happy with the sparkly blue wand she received with her meal. She took a few bites and then BAM–another princes. She couldn’t have been happier. I couldn’t help but feel that we were being rushed.

As an adult, it’s difficult not to think about how much money you’re spending. The food is just okay. The character interaction is probably the worst on property. But just as I was about to stifle yet another eyeroll, my daughter looked up at me at said “Thanks mom for taking me here.” And that’s when I realized that it was worth every penny. Because they’re only little once, right?

And you can bet she carried that sparkly wand with her everywhere that day.

FYI, when you make a reservation for CRT, you’ll pay in full unless you’re on the dining plan, which uses two table-service credits. 

Rivers of Light Opens February 17: Dining Packages Available

Animal Kingdom’s newest nighttime show, River’s of Light, is opening February 17! Fastpasses are not yet available (UPDATE: You can now book Fastpasses), but you can book a dining reservation at the following restaurants and get priority seating:

Tiffins Restaurant. This is Animal Kingdom’s signature restaurant. It’s pretty adventurous, but like most places on Disney property, they can customize an entree for those with more sensitive palates. It’s gorgeous inside. Try the lobster bisque. Prices for lunch or dinner start at $67 for adults and $26 for children, ages 3 to 9. This is a two credit restaurant on the Disney Dining Plan.

Tusker House: Probably the best character meal on property to see (most of) the “Fab Five.”  Breakfast is standard fare, with a few African inspired dishes. It’s probably their most popular meal, in part because the food is also familiar to most guests. Prices for the buffet start at $39 for adults and $23 for kids ages 3 to 9. Lunch and dinner sees the introduction of more African-inspired dishes, but there’s still something for everyone. Kids will love the Mac & Cheese and corn dog nuggets. Prices for the buffet are $52 for adults and $32 for kids ages 3 to 9. This is a one credit restaurant on the Disney Dining Plan.

I generally don’t think that priority seating through these types of dining packages is a necessity, but since this is a new show–and since it was supposed to open almost a year ago–it’s going to be immensely popular. Spend the money this time and get those guaranteed seats. You can book here.

Pandora: World of Avatar to Open May 27

Have you been to Tiffins, Disney’s newest signature restaurant, in Animal Kingdom? If you have, you got a little (very limited) peek into the World of Avatar right outside the terrace area.  Well, if you’re visiting this summer, you’ll get to see the  entire, glorious thing: Pandora opens May 27:

This new land will transport guests to the visually stunning world of Pandora. Here, guests will wonder at floating mountains and bioluminescent plants, and can join the Na’vi on two excursions that take adventure to the next level.

First, the family friendly Na’vi River Journey will send guests through a bioluminescent rainforest. Their journey will end in an unforgettable encounter with a Na’vi Shaman, a figure who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora. And second, Avatar Flight of Passage will offer guests the jaw-dropping experience of exploring the world of Pandora atop a Banshee.

Guests will also be able to dine at Satu’li Canteen, grab a drink at Pongu Pongu or shop for Na’vi cultural items, toys, science kits, and more at Windtraders.

If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting and are ready to go: I just made a reservation for that night! I’ll have tons of pictures and details later, so stay tuned and if you’re planning on going too, let me know in the comments section.

Photo and quoted text courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

Holiday Events at Epcot

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If you like Christmas, this really is the most wonderful time of the year in Walt Disney World. Though the Magic Kingdom and the beautiful life-sized gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian usually gets the most attention, there’s plenty to do at Epcot. Here’s a list of our favorite (Epcot holiday) things to enjoy this time of the year:

Walk around the World Showcase and enjoy the cooler weather while you visit Holidays Around the World,  highlighting traditions from 11 countries. Kids love the story of Santa Claus in Germany but there’s plenty music, food and fun in each country. Schedules for these events are available when you enter the park.

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You can snack around the world on holiday specialties starting on November 25 from locations in the World Showcase.  Here’s just a sample of what you’ll find:

  • Prost! in Germany (artisan cheese plate or sauerbraten with red cabbage and spätzle)
  • American Holiday Table in American Adventure Pavilion (slow-roasted turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce)
  • Alpine Haus between France and Morocco (cheese fondue in a bread bowl with fresh steamed vegetables)
  • Seasonal Southern Delights near World Showcase Plaza (blackened catfish with white cheddar grits with okra)
  • Feast of Three Kings Feast near World Showcase Plaza (Three Kings Bread)

Personally, I’m all about the bread and cheese fondue.

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Of course, the big draw is the Candlelight Processional, which also begins November 25, a retelling of the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, complete with a mass choir, a 50-piece orchestra, and a celebrity narrator. This years schedule has a few surprises as well as some old favorites:

  • Nov. 25-27 – Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Nov. 28-Dec. 1 – Neil Patrick Harris
  • Dec. 2-3 – Whoopi Goldberg
  • Dec. 4*-6 – Edward James Olmos
  • Dec. 7-9 – TBA
  • Dec. 10-12 – Robby Benson
  • Dec. 13-15 – Meredith Vieira
  • Dec. 16-18 – Jim Caviezel
  • Dec. 19-21 – Joe Morton
  • Dec. 22-24 – Ming-Na Wen – NEW!
  • Dec. 25-27 – Jodi Benson
  • Dec. 28-30 – Cal Ripken, Jr. – NEW!

The processional is performed three times per night (5:00, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m.) during the holiday season at the American Gardens Theater. You’ll need to line up early for seating or you can book a dining package which will guarantee you a spot. Make sure you book as early as possible since availability is limited.

Finally, take time to enjoy  Epcot’s beautiful holiday decorations that reflect the culture and traditions of each World Showcase country. These backdrops make for great holiday photos.

D-Luxe Burger in Disney Springs

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D-Luxe Burger, which I visited in Disney Springs two days after it opened, is a case study in why you don’t go to any restaurant when it first opens.  That first week, there was still a line out the door as hungry guests waited for this new dining option. Would it be any good? Was it worth the price? I couldn’t wait to find out, especially since a friend had gone there on opening day and raved over the ground chicken burger and fries she ordered.

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Like many of the newer buildings in Disney Springs, D-Luxe Burger is  themed to showcase the unique “Florida cracker” aesthetic. I love that look, with sloped tin roofs, big porches, and large, airy rooms.

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As you can imagine, the pace in the restaurant those first few days was still pretty frenzied as cast members worked to get a handle on how best to handle crowds. While we waiting in line, a manager was handing out ice water and attempting to provide shade with portable umbrellas.  A nice touch that you see often at Walt Disney World. We were able to order in about twenty minutes, not bad considering that the line snaked out the door and around the porch. I chose the classic cheeseburger for $9.99 and a small order of fries for $4.99.  Adding a drink brought my total to around $20, fairly expensive for a burger but only slightly more pricey than your standard theme park burger, fries and drink.  Hopefully, the quality would live up to the price, right?

Our order took a while–it was, after all, packed–with items arriving sporadically at our table of seven. This wasn’t an issue nor a surprise, given that most of us had ordered separately. After about 20 more minutes, my burger arrived looking absolutely delicious.

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I mean, look at that. First of all, it’s huge. Secondly, the brioche bun is a higher quality than your average hamburger bun.  I took the first bite and . . . it was raw. There’s no other way around it. The kitchen says they cook the burgers to medium but my burger was positively hemorrhaging blood. That red stuff you see in the picture above? That’s not ketchup. And this wasn’t, unfortunately, an anomaly.  Everyone at the table received a burger in the same state. One member of our party sent her burger back and when the second one arrived, well after the rest of us had finished our meal, you could smell how raw the meat was when she cut into it.

Now, I don’t mind a rare steak. That’s fine. But I really don’t care for a bleeding hamburger. Despite this, I could tell one thing: If cooked properly, this would be an excellent, flavorful burger.

In addition to regular beef burgers in as many incarnations as you can imagine, you can get veggie burgers and chicken burgers.  The kids menu is essentially a smaller version than the adult menu, so if you have kids that don’t like hamburgers, you might want to skip it.  Hard “sodas” and milk shakes as well as the usual coke products you’ll find everywhere on Disney property are also available. But the real star are the French fries, which come with a myriad of dipping sauces. Honestly, I would go to D-Luxe Burger just for the fries, however at $5 for a small portion and nearly $8 for a large, the price is pretty questionable.

Despite my initial disappointment during my first visit, I was able to try D-Luxe Burger again recently and it’s definitely gotten past its initial growing pains. My burger was, as before, massive. Really, it’s so more than you need, but it’s Disney so why not? This time it was cooked perfectly medium well. That’s about as “raw” as I want a burger to be, frankly, but if you’d like yours a bit more bloody, you can ask the kitchen to cook yours a little more rare.

My burger was delicious this time. Okay, it’s not In-N-Out Burger, which secretly fantasized would come to Disney Springs instead, but honestly, it’s better. This is a really large, satisfying hamburger and the fries, while pricey, are fantastic.  Again, at nearly $20 per person it’s steep, but using a quick-service credit on the Disney Dining plan definitely makes it more palatable.

D-Luxe Burger, despite a few bumps in the beginning, is a welcome addition to Disney Springs. Check it out on your next visit.

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