I think the general belief when it comes to Disney cuisine is that it comes in two – heh – flavours: Expensive, or churros (or Premium Mickey Bars, or turkey legs, or Dole Whip, or Mickey pretzels, or popcorn – lots of snacks ’round the parks.) Sometimes it can be both; this dinky little cup of Dole Whip (an iconic Disney dish, and I do not know why, because it’s nothing more than pineapple-flavoured soft serve) was $7!
But it doesn’t always have to be uninspired park fare. Although it will always be expensive, because there is no other way at Disney. However, even after making your peace with the fact that theme park pricing does not in any way resemble our Earth pricing, a $7 cup of ice cream is still a tough nut to crack (I was going to go with the slightly more food-friendly idiom of “bitter pill to swallow,” but this sweet, tropical soft serve was actually quite easy to swallow.) 😉
From a cost perspective, there are a number of dining plans available through Disney; I saw a lot of families with young children taking advantage of the counter service options (I suppose when your little one will only eat chicken fingers or mac and cheese, there’s not much point in going with a more fulsome and varied table service plan.) Mr. Finger Candy and I have never availed ourselves of one of these plans before. We looked into it briefly as we were planning this Christmas trip, but ultimately concluded that owing to our eating habits, as well as the rather lengthy list of new-to-us restaurants we wanted to try, we’d be better off going our own way.
And as we were marveling the other day, we actually did better than better, enjoying one of those ultra rare vacations where every dining experience was a winner. There isn’t a single thing we ate, save perhaps that $7 Dole Whip, that I thought afterwards, “Aargh, I really wish I hadn’t wasted money and/or calories on that.” Winner winner, excellent dinners! And so in a sea of memorable meals, here are some of the highlights from our trip.
Breakfast and Dinner at Be Our Guest
Fun fact about Mr. Finger Candy? He loves Beauty and the Beast, and he loves eating at Be Our Guest, a Beauty and the Beast-themed restaurant at the Magic Kingdom, even more. We kicked off the first park day of our trip with an early morning breakfast reservation (you don’t always need reservations to get a table at this very popular restaurant, but I wouldn’t chance it during the holidays.) When we visited Be Our Guest at Halloween, we dined in the West Wing. This time we nabbed a cozy table over by the grand ballroom’s floor-to-ceiling windows, outside of which gently falling snow drifted down onto a craggy, snow-peaked mountain scape.
As at Halloween, I enjoyed the Feast a La Gaston, your standard (but quite yummy) bacon, egg and roasted potatoes platter. Also going with the same delicious order he had last time (Croque Madame Without the Ham, as we call it) was my husband, who…who just is. Man, I don’t even know with this guy sometimes! Also, this is absolutely not the last photo you will see of him shoving a plate of food directly into his face, usually to the total amusement of everyone around us.
Then late on Christmas Day (10 pm!) we returned to Be Our Guest for an intimate, French-inspired meal hosted by the Beast himself. Quite hospitable for a reclusive shut-in, really.
Dinner at Be Our Guest is a bit of a different experience than breakfast, which falls under the quick service banner. Dinner is a proper table service meal overseen by a fussily attentive waiter. Everything feels quite lovely and luxurious, even if you’re sitting there in dorky mouse ears, half-comatose from having spent the past 15 hours running around a theme park, holding a rose-shaped napkin.
After dinner (herb butter-topped steak frites for me, a lovely little cheese plate and a salad for my far-more-responsible-than-I husband) we tried the Grey Stuff! And it was…all right, I guess?! Wait, I don’t think that’s the right answer. I believe the dishes would say it’s delicious, but I thought this cookies and cream-flavoured flan was just sort of okay. I am, of course, the completely wrong person to assess the merits of a dessert; not much of a sweet tooth, me. Sorry, dishes. 😦
Then after dessert the lord of the castle himself received us in his study! My husband bowed and I curtsied. Not the least bit ashamed to out ourselves as massive wieners here. 🙂
Dinner and Drinks at La Hacienda de San Angel
With a bit of an emphasis on the “drinks” part of that title. 😉 Not that dinner at La Hacienda de San Angel, housed in the Mexico pavilion at Epcot, was not stupendous on its own merits. I absolutely loved the taco sampler I ordered, particularly the crispy fish and barbacoa tacos, and Mr. Finger Candy is never not pleased with any place that considers a skillet of melted cheese and peppers to be an acceptable thing to eat as an entree. Queso Fundido, it’s what’s for dinner!
Oh, but the drinks…so despite all evidence to the contrary, I’m not much of a drinker. I’ve never been great at holding my liquor (my intoxication trajectory, if you will, is pretty much a straight up and down line) and as I’ve gotten older, I find it’s a buzz I just don’t care to seek out that often. But I do love the taste of alcohol (wood barreled things in particular) and when we dine out (which in our non-Disney life we do very, very infrequently) there’s nearly always a delicious-sounding cocktail that catches my eye.
And so it went at La Hacienda de San Angel, where I ordered an absolutely fan-freakin-tastic Orange Mango Fire margarita to accompany my meal, only to find myself, some hours and two additional margaritas later, attempting to parkour off the bridge leading to “Old Montreal” in the Canada pavilion. It did not go well!
I blame the Orange Mango Fire margaritas, which were far, far, far too delicious and absolutely lethal. Somehow not as bonkers as the Habanero Lime margarita I enjoyed from Boatwright’s the first night we were at our resort (I took a sip and slapped myself across the face) but quite close! Disney cocktails don’t screw around, particularly the ones laced with ginger liqueur, Tabasco sauce and Tajin chili-lime seasoning.
Seriously, this juicy, fruity, sweet-and-heat cocktail was so absorbing (more like being absorbed into my bloodstream) I barely noticed the gorgeous sunset taking place right outside the lagoon-facing windows. Next time we visit we’re going to see if we can time our dinner reservations to Illuminations, Epcot’s evening fireworks show that takes place right over top of the lagoon. Also not get so tispy that we fail to notice that day has turned to night.
After dinner we salsa’d our way out of the restaurante and directly over to the Choza de Margarita, an outdoor margarita stand roughly 20 Latin dance-infused steps away from the San Angel. There we grabbed another on-the-rocks marg, this time a Guava Pink Peppercorn margarita (I’ve really got a thing for the spicy and sweet, tequila-based cocktails, don’t I?) and set out on a leisurely stroll around the World Showcase (because you can do that now, just wander around Disney with open alcohol; my, how the times have changed in the era of Food and Wine.)
But all margaritas and then even more margaritas make Sandra something something, so we stopped for a wee sit-down and a giggle in front of the Epcot Christmas tree. This is actually one of my favourite moments of our trip – squiffed at Disney, sitting on a bench with my husband in front of a 30-foot Christmas tree in a short sleeved tee on Boxing Day, giggling our butts off. Okay, so he has abysmal table manners. But we do have fun. 🙂
I think I’m going to leave things off right here for this first installment of
Drunk Dining at Disney. 😉 Join me next time, won’t you please, as I talk about the amazing Christmas Eve dinner we enjoyed at the 50s Prime Time Cafe and more drinks, drinks, dranks at our favourite Florida hangout, Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’. Until then, bon appetit! Oh, and cheers!