Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar – Review

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar – Review

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Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar opened its doors in 2011, it was a part of a large renovation at the Disneyland Hotel – From the moment it opened it was one of the most popular places in all of Disneyland! I can remember many Disney fans saying it was”the best thing that Imagineering had done in years” or “it was Disney Imagineering at its finest” (spoiler alert these statements are 100% true!) However it took me until 2015 to finally get to visit Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar!

Follow along for my brief history of Trader Sam’s as well as my overall review ~

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“Trader Sam” – Jungle Cruise

The Story behind Trader Sam’s stems all the way back to a classic 1955 Disneyland Attraction “The World Famous Jungle Cruise!” At the end of the ever popular Jungle Cruise you get to meet “Trader Sam” the “Head Salesman” of the Jungle Cruise – The story behind Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is that throughout all of Trader Sam’s travels over the years he developed a collection of a wide variety of things as well as a  he decided to showcase these artifacts in a bar – hence the name “Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar” – however this is just the start of the backstory…

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Not only is the bars backstory based on the Jungle Cruise but it also has a connection with the Adventures Club a bar that used to be in Disney’s Pleasure Island, a lot of the “artifacts” that are in the Tiki Bar were actually brought to Disneyland from the old “Adventures Club” –

A very high level overview of the Adventures Club is as follows – The Adventures Club is where the Society of Explorer’s and Adventure’s or SEA for short met – The idea is that “Trader Sam” himself was actually in the Society  – Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar was Disneyland’s first connection to the Society which was part of the reason it was so popular! Throughout the entire restaurant you will find details that connect different parts of the “Society” which in turn connect Disney Parks from around the world! A perfect example of this connection is a photo of Teddy Roosevelt with a note that says “Teddy and I map out our next expedition” Teddy Roosevelt was apart of SEA this connection links Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar in Disneyland and Grog Grotto in Walt Disney World to the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge in Tokyo Disney Sea! These little details are what separate Disney from any other product in the world! Making Trader Sam’s an absolute Disney fans paradise!

Walt Disney World is now going to expand its connection to the Society of Explorers and Adventures again in Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar (Jock Lindsey was Indiana Jones’s pilot who was apart of SEA) that is set to open this fall in Disney Springs as well as the newly announced Skipper’s Canteen Restaurant (which was another hang out for SEA) in the Magic Kingdom that is set to open this year as well!

Definitely a lot of detail for a restaurant / bar but what makes Disney “Disney” is all of the little details!

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Atmosphere –

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar definitely lives up to its name and delivers a spectacularly themed Tiki Bar – I really felt as though the Jungle Cruise and the Tiki Room had a baby and it was named Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar!

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Specialty Drink’s ~

The Specialty Drinks are one of my favorite things about Trader Sam’s they are relatively strong and they taste great!

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Ship Wreck on the Rocks! – Bourbon with freshly Muddled Lemon and Mint with Organic Agave Nectar

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Uh Oa! – Light and Dark Rums, Orange, Passion Fruit, Guava, Pineapple, Grapefruit Juices, Falernum, Cinnamon and fresh Lime Juice

Food –

I was a little hesitant about the Food at the Enchanted Tiki Bar because the food at Grog Grotto wasn’t spectacular however I was pleasantly surprised by how good everything we tried at the Enchanted Tiki Bar was! In particular the Shrimp Tacos were phenomenal I was very pleased by every dish here.

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Shrimp Tacos w/ Sautéed Shrimp, Cabbage, and Lime Tartar Sauce wrapped in Corn Tortillas served with Tropical Slaw

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Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Hoisin Ginger Sauce

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Sweet and Spicy Asian Wings  – served with Tropical Slaw

Overall Thoughts –

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10/10 ~ Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar is outstanding and lived up to the high expectations that I had and that Grog Grotto had set for me – I love that Trader Sam’s is apart of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers and connects itself to so many of the Disney Parks throughout the World – This restaurant is everything that makes me love Disney, great backstory, details, atmosphere, drinks, food and you can even collect the souvenir mugs!

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Cask and Larder Review

Cask and Larder – Winter Park, Florida

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Cask and Larder is a restaurant located in Winter Park, Florida about a 45 minute drive from Disney or 30 Minute drive from Universal depending on traffic. Its sister restaurant is the Ravenous Pig an award winning restaurant that gets a lot of buzz in the foodie community! When I heard that the Ravenous Pig had a sister restaurant that was just as good I had to give it a try when I was staying in Winter Park earlier this year!

Atmosphere –

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Craft Cocktail’s

One of the best parts of Cask and Larder is its high quality cocktails and let me tell you these were nothing to joke about! I had the Don Juancho and it was extremely good and extremely strong I had one and felt like I was plenty good for the evening…

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Don Juancho ~ diplomatico exclusiva rum, quinta de la rosa 10 year tawny port, cynar

Food –

Cask and Larder changes its menu very frequently in order to get the freshest ingredients and continue to have a creative menu – I can tell you that every dish we had was excellent (in particular the brisket and the country ham dish which were both incredibly good!) So I wouldn’t go to Cask and Larder just because of one thing that you see on the menu – go and try something that you normally wouldn’t their chefs are very good at what they do… trust them!

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Country Ham – ale mustard, pepper jelly, biscuits – Benton’s Madisonville, TN ~ Newsom’s, Princeton, KY ~  Father’s Bremen, KY

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KALE salad ~ peaches, avocado, baby beets, almond granola, bacon vinaigrette

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Alligator Lettuce Wraps

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Smoked Beef Brisket

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Cask Mac and Cheese

Overall thoughts ~

Cask and Larder is a superb restaurant and in my honest opinion one of the best restaurants in the entire Orlando area! The food is excellent, drinks are of the highest quality and I found the restaurant itself to be ascetically pleasing. If you have a rental car and are looking to get out of the Disney or Universal bubble I highly suggest going over to Winter Park and enjoying a meal at Cask and Larder you won’t regret it!

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Todd English’s Bluezoo Lounge – Review

Bluezoo Lounge Review – Dolphin Resort

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Bluezoo is one of celebrity chef Todd English’s Flagship restaurants, located in the Dolphin Resort, technically Bluezoo is not a Disney restaurant however it is a 5 minute walk from Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Yacht and Beach Club’s as well as a 15 minute walk from Epcot and Hollywood Studios – it does not accept the dining plan however it does accepts Tables In Wonderland therefore I consider it as much as a Disney Restaurant as any other!

Bluezoo has a different vibe than any other restaurant in Walt Disney World, the vibe is very hip, upscale, and in a way very “Vegas” however it is still family friendly especially in the early evenings. In this review we are going to focus on the lounge itself however I wanted to mention that Bluezoo is not just a lounge it is a AAA Four Diamond Award Winner, has an award winning pastry chef and the bartenders are some of the best I’ve ever dealt with! So basically Bluezoo is “all that and a bag of chips”

Onto the Lounge! ~

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Bluezoo often switches up its drink menu so instead of focusing on each drink specifically I want to say that every drink I’ve ever had here (and lets just say I’ve had a couple 😉 has been excellent! They use extremely high quality ingredients and all of the bartenders are very passionate about their craft – If you are at all interested in learning about different drinks Bluezoo is the best place on Disney property to go! They make extremely strong drinks, unique drinks, and they are not priced substantially higher than you basic “mix drinks” you’ll find all throughout the Disney parks…

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Smoking Sangria – ingredients change very frequently…

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Frost Bitten Rum Cider – Ron Zacapa rum, Ziegler’s apple cider, simple syrup, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters

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Burnt Orange – herradura blanco infused with brûléed orange and muddled with agave nectar, grand marnier, and orange

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Bluezoo’s take on a classic “Bee’s Knees” –  a re-imagined classic cocktail with the use of bluecoat gin, breckenridge bitters, fresh citrus, and honey syrup. shaken and served up with an orange blossom honey foam

I wanted to mention that one night at Bluezoo one of the people I was with was celebrating a birthday the head bartender took it upon himself to have the Pastry Chef whip up a dessert completely complimentary! This was an awesome touch and not to mention it was awesome!

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Overall Rating of Bluezoo Lounge –

10 / 10 ~ Like I said above Bluezoo is one of the best places to grab a drink or two in Walt Disney World! The Staff is excellent the food is excellent the drinks are excellent! What are you waiting for? Give Bluezoo a try on your next Disney Vacation you won’t regret it!

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Mad Tea Party Overview – by Stacie VanZandt

Mad Tea Party

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It’s time to take a spin on the wild side! Let’s head over to Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom and take on the teacups! This is an Alice in Wonderland ride where you sit inside a giant teacup that has a big circle in the middle which you can turn. The faster you turn the circle the faster the teacup goes around, and around, and around, and, well you get it. :) It was an original ride at both Disneyland and DisneyWorld, and, even though it was not an E ticket ride, it remains at both parks.

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In my family we call it The Teacups, and it is one of my favorites because I have a magical memory of my dad, my sister, and I riding it the first time we were ever at DisneyWorld. I was 11 and Jamie was 6, and it was fun to sit altogether in the ride, it is like a circle shaped booth. The music started, the ride started to go around, then my dad turned the center wheel, and our teacup started to spin. The next thing I knew, my sister and I were squashed together, then whosh, we slid across the seat and squished on the other side. We could not keep our balance, sliding one way, then the other. We were laughing so hard we could not catch our breath and there were tears streaming down our cheeks, even my dad.

Of course we had to ride it again, and rode it every day of the 3 days we were there!!

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Maya Grill – Coronado Springs Review

Maya Grill Review – Coronado Springs Resort

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Maya Grill is a restaurant that is located in Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – It is 1 Credit on the Disney Dining Plan and prices out of pocket are not high (by Disney Standards) –

Menu –

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Atmosphere –

The restaurant is pretty however it really isn’t that well themed… I felt like it could have been a Mexican restaurant anywhere in the world…

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Food –

In short the food at Maya Grill was good – I really had not heard much about Maya Grill positive or negative so I went in with a pretty blank slate – nothing was outstanding however I found everything to be better than I was expecting as it is probably one of the least talked about restaurants in all of Walt Disney World!

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Fajita Skillet

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Overall Rating:

Atmosphere: 5 – Maya Grill had a nice atmosphere however it could have been a Mexican themed restaurant anywhere nothing really made it special or made it really stand out…

Service: 5 – The Service was good however again nothing made it memorable or “Disney”

Food: 7 – Overall the food had pretty good flavor and I felt like everything was prepared well –

Overall Score: 5.5 – I found Maya Grill to be a good restaurant it had its flaws as most restaurants do however if you are staying at Coronado Springs and are looking for something close to “home” Maya Grill is a great option!

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San Angel Inn – Review

San Angel Inn Epcot – Mexico Pavilion

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San Angel Inn is the restaurant located right in the middle of the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase – The restaurant sits right on the river that the Gran Fiesta Tour Attraction is on – If you have a table by the water you can watch the boats as they sail by!

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Food –

For lunch San Angel Inn offers a 3 course Traditional Mexican Tasting Meal for 25$ – I knew that I wanted to get a “taste” of what the restaurant had to offer so I went for this option –

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Sopa Azteca – traditional tortilla soup

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Complementary Chips and Salsa

DSC_0120Enchiladas Verdes de Pollo – Corn tortillas filled with pulled chicken, covered with green tomatillo sauce

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Crema Bavaria – creamy Bavarian mousse served with mixed berries, cinnamon, orange liqueur, and vanilla sauce

Overall:

Food 6: The food at San Angel Inn was pretty good, it had good flavor for the most part and for 25$ isn’t a bad deal for Disney Standards…

Atmosphere 8: San Angel Inn is always featured in guide books and with good reason it is a beautiful restaurant that transports you to the middle of a Mexico!

Service 6.5: I found the service to be a just okay…

Overall 6.5 : I enjoyed my experience at San Angel Inn – it is not my favorite restaurant in Walt Disney World however it is a very solid option in World Showcase!

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Big Thunder Mountain ~ Overview by: Cindy Presley

Big Thunder Mountain Overview ~ by: Cindy Presley

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Located in Frontierland at Walt Disney World in Florida is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Set during the gold rush days, this runaway mine car roller coaster will take you past donkeys, chickens, goats, skunks and possums.  While walking through the queue, and all over Thunder Mountain, look out for real mining gear, such as an old stamp mill, hand-driven drill, press gears, picks, shovels and more.

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While waiting to load the ride you’ll hear that it is the “Wildest Ride in the West”, however it is really one of the milder coasters in the park. The ride is geared towards adults and teens, with a height restriction of 40”. The ride itself is just under 4 minutes in length. The coaster tops out at a speed of 32 miles per hour, so it definitely has some thrill with its speed, turns and drops.

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If you are a real thrill seeker, sit in the back of the train. You can ask the cast member when they are putting you in line for this position. You might have to wait a turn or two, but it is definitely worth the excitement.

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My family has found riding this at night time can be even more amazing. Seeing the park from a different perspective with all the twinkling lights from around. You can get a fast pass for this attraction, and I would highly recommend it.

And lastly, like you will find all over the Disney parks, Hidden Mickeys. Here are just a couple, but be on the lookout as you stand in line and enjoy the ride. They are there. I promise.

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Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom – Overview

Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom – Overview by: Shannon

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If you are looking for some extra adventure during your day at Magic Kingdom, look no further than Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom. This is an interactive experience you can enjoy throughout most of the park. You will join Merlin as one of his apprentice sorcerers and try to defeat some of Disney’s most daring villains.

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You will need to stop at one of two locations throughout the park to get your family started on their adventure. The first location is on Main Street, U.S.A. when you first enter the park. It is to the left when you first enter and has a sign for Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom. There is a second location to get set up in Liberty Square behind Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe. At these locations they will need your park tickets or Magic Bands to get you started. You will be given a sorcerers map and key card for your group in addition to one pack of “spell cards” per ticketed guest. They will then instruct you of where you need to go to get started.

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Once you have been instructed on how to get started you will use your map to locate Magic Portals throughout the park. These portals along with your Sorcerers Key Card will open up a whole new level of “magic” throughout your day! What appears to be a regular display window on a store turns in to so much more when you put your key up and open the portal. Before you on a screen will appear some of your many Disney friends guiding you on your mission. Pay careful attention to what they say, there is often a hidden message about which spell cards you may want to use on your challenge. Each spell card has a Disney character and a unique “spell” associated with your character. You will need to figure out which spell would best work during your challenges against the villains. If you successfully pass that challenge you will be sent to the next portal where you will be greeted by a new Disney friend and given new instructions. Didn’t pass your mission? You will be instructed on what to do next and will be given another chance to try a new spell card.

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This is a great activity to do when you are tired of standing in line for rides or wanting something new to try. I recommend getting set up early in the day so that when you are ready to start your adventure you can jump right in. There is no additional charge for this activity; it is included in your park ticket. Did you end up with some duplicate cards in your group? No worries! There will be many other families running around who are apprentice sorcerers with duplicates also. While you are waiting for them to finish up their mission ask if they have duplicate cards they would like to trade. It’s a great way to meet new people and get new cards. And everyone with duplicates is always up for a trade! This is a great activity for kids of all ages, including you “Big Kids” (aka Adults!). One more tip – if you are going to be at Magic Kingdom more than one day be sure to stop at one of the locations during each visit. Each day that you go there you will be given one package of spell cards per person!

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If your family is thinking of booking a trip to Walt Disney World and you would like a quote, please contact me at Shannon@goofygetaways.com . My services are always FREE to you and I would love to help customize a trip for YOUR family!

 

Star Wars Character Breakfast – Sci Fi Diner

Star Wars Character Breakfast – Sci Fi Diner

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In 2014 Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s began offering 2 Specialty Star Wars Character Meals during select days in May and June for Star Wars Weekends – a Dinner at Hollywood and Vine and a Breakfast at Sci – Fi Diner – The moment these were announced the entire Disney Community went crazy and reservations filled up quickly! I knew immediately that these were going to be a hit and was very excited when Disney announced that they would be returning for 2015 as soon as reservations opened I grabbed both a Lunch at Dinner for my May Star Wars Weekend Trip!

At over $50 per person or 2 Meal Credits on the Disney Dining Plan these meals are not cheap…  however they provide an unique opportunity to meet some awesome Star Wars Characters! In order to see these characters during Star Wars Weekends you would have to wait in lines for hours! Being able to have them come to your table is hard to put a price tag on (well I guess not for Disney because it is $49.99 not including gratuity…)

Star Wars Character’s – 

The Character’s were the best part of the meal! As soon as I stepped into the restaurant and saw Darth Vader and Boba Fett I was like a little kid ~ All I wanted to do was run up and get my picture with the characters! I can say without question that during this Star Wars Weekends Trip I felt more excited than I had during any Disney World Trip in recent memory! Hollywood Studio’s had such a fantastic vibe and really made me excited for the possibility of a Star Wars Land in the future!!! This excitement carried into both of the Specialty Meals ~

Darth Vader and Boba Fett – Greet you as you walk into the Sci Fi Diner – I do not know why I didn’t get my photo with Boba Fett seeing as he is one of my favorite Star Wars characters… I guess I need to go again next year to redo the photo 😉

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The Rest of the Characters wander through the Car’s as Star War’s Clips scroll on the Big Movie Screen! This was really cool as you had to be on your toes as Characters would just “pop up” out of know where!

Storm Trooper’s

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Jawa’s – If you brought something to trade with the Jawa’s they would trade with you!!!

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Greedo –

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Food

All of the food was pretty standard (average to below average Disney Breakfast fare) with the exception of the Blue Milk – None of it was inedible however I wouldn’t recommend this meal if you were just going for the food…

The Famous Mos Eisley Cantina “Blue Milk” – It had a Blueberry flavor – overall it was pretty good  I wouldn’t order it again and it wasn’t quite as good as ButterBeer

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Star Wars Breakfast Pastries ~

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Yoda Fruit ~

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“Darth Waffles” ~ Imperial Delight Caramelized banana-stuffed french toast with caramel sauce and strawberry compote

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The Dune Sea ~ House-Smoked Salmon Scrambled Eggs, Wild Mushroom Potato Hash with multigrain toast slathered with goat cheese butter

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Overall: 8.5

I will rate this Restaurant differently than I do others because it is a Special Event / Character Meal –

In short absolutely LOVED The Star Wars Character Breakfast at Sci Fi Diner – In all actuality it is EXTREMELY over-priced seeing as the food was just average at best… However you are getting to spend one on one time with a lot of really awesome Star Wars Characters without waiting in any lines, they transform the whole restaurant into a Star Wars theme and the whole restaurant has a different energy than I have ever experienced! I think adding Star Wars movies and original trailers on the large movie screen is an awesome touch! I can say without question that Breakfast is better than the Dinner and a great way to start your Star Wars Weekends day!

For my “regular” Sci Fi Dine in Theater Review Click Here

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Hollywood Brown Derby Review

Hollywood Brown Derby Review – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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The Hollywood Brown Derby is the Signature Restaurant in Hollywood Studio’s – located right on Hollywood and Sunset – It has been a staple in Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s or MGM Studio’s since that Park Opened in 1989 – I have been fortunate enough to have a few meals here over the years and can say without hesitation that it is one of the most consistent restaurants on all of Walt Disney World Property!

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Detail’s –

The Hollywood Brown Derby was a restaurant (or restaurant’s as there were multiple over the years) that started in “old” Hollywood – It is where the famous Cobb Salad was created as well as the Original Grapefruit cake both of these remain on Disney’s Hollywood Brown Derby menu still to this day!

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Onto the Food –

Lunch – 

The Hollywood Brown Derby has both a Lunch and Dinner Menu if you are looking for a spot to sit down and get out of the Florida Heat this is a great restaurant especially if you do not have a reservation as the Brown Derby is almost always a walk up during lunch especially!

Grilled Wagyu Beef Burger –  with Gruyère Cheese, Pastrami, Heirloom Tomato, Avocado, and a Fried Egg on a Toasted Brioche with Cognac-Mustard Aïoli and Hand-cut Steak Fries

This Burger was INCREDIBLE!!! Generally I find the burgers at Disney to be well… awful… however this burger was outstanding! The Meat was flavorful and great quality, I love fried eggs on a burger the bun was excellent! I did not have one complaint about the burger it was top notch and well worth the 18$ price tag!

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Dinner – 

Sea Salted Butter and Warm Bread

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Brown Derby Specialty Cobb Salad

The Hollywood Brown Derby is where the Cobb Salad Originated – at 16$ it is a very large portion and a great value!

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Pan-seared Black Grouper – with Half a Herb-crusted Lobster Tail over an Orzo Salad with a Cognac-Mushroom Beurre Blanc

Without a doubt this is one of the best entree’s I have had at a Disney Restaurant in a long time!  The Lobster and Grouper tasted fresh (the waiter said the Grouper had been caught earlier that day) and the orzo was superb it had a lot of flavor and really added to the dish!

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Dessert Trio – Grapefruit Cake, Banana Toffee Cake on Cocoa Crunch and Strawberry-Banana Pearls and Amaretto Flan and Opalys White Chocolate Whip with an Almond Cookie

All three of the desserts were good however I don’t like Trio’s I wanted a whole Grapefruit Cake or a Whole Amaretto Flan…

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Overall:

Food 9.5: – Almost every dish that I have ever had here has been superb! My only complaint is the dessert trio’s… I know it is silly but it is just enough to knock it down from a perfect score!

Atmosphere 8: The Hollywood Brown Derby is a beautiful art deco restaurant and it fits perfectly with the Old Hollywood Theme of Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s!

Service 8: I have always had great service here

Overall 9: The Hollywood Brown Derby is one of my favorite restaurants in all of Walt Disney World I have always had great service, I find the food to be excellent (I love that the menu is constantly changing) and I love the atmosphere and history attached to the Brown Derby – Therefore I can say without hesitation that it is my favorite in Theme Park Restaurant in all of Walt Disney World!

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