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The only coffee shop in the Contemporary Hotel is set off in a corner of the lobby near the entrance to the Conference Center, no directional signs or publicity. The menu is limited to coffee products including lattes and cappuccinos and bakery products. Regular coffee is $3 and fancier options up to $6. Assorted muffins, crullers, and donuts also run no more than $3. The pastry products were excellent, the coffee among the best ever sampled in the state of Florida. Seating is at a few random couches with low tables across the lobby from the counter. More than any other Disney venue, we found the counter help friendly and cheerful, worthy of note.
Perhaps the higher standards here reflect management by an outside company, Joffrey's, rather than the Disney operation.
Updated Nov 13, 2012
The second large buffet restaurant with Disney characters is located on the Grand Canyon Concourse, approximately the fourth floor of the Contemporary. The offerings are identical to those at the Crystal Palace, obviously prepared off premises and transported in, with the exception of a few different desserts. And of course the quality remains the same.
There are several reasons this is probaby a better choice for the big expense involved in buffet dining with the characters - here a few dollars more than the Crystal Palace and with the obnoxious 18% tip added gratuitously.
First - the characters are the more familar Disney faces, with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, etc, and since the facility is somewhat smaller they have more time to spend with each table and can easily get around to all of them. We found the characters here more likely to spend time waiting till the perfect picture is obtained and to pose with everyone who might want an image.
Second - overall the servers seemed a little more pleasant. Could have been the luck of the draw, of course.
Third - liquor service is available from the little bar tucked away on the concourse, with a surprisingly passable if not outstanding martini.
Written Oct 31, 2012
Contempo Cafe is a counter service restaurant at the Contemporary Hotel offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner in an open setting. Orders are placed through a computer screen, picked up after manufacture or reconstition or whatever at the counter, and transported to the register for payment. The wide ranging menu includes eggs and waffles with appropriate sides for breakfast, sandwiches salads pizzas pastas hot and cold sandwiches and hamburgers for lunch and dinner. Bakery products are in a separate counter and drinks and icecream products can be found in typical refrigerated cabinets. Prices are only on the computers. Seating is at separate tables with teak wood tabletops and wood backed chairs. Not familar with other options we came here for both a dinner and a breakfast.
The Contempo occupies prime real estate on the Grand Canyon Concourse of the Contemporary Resort and presumes to reflect a new orientation of the Disney Empire towards more healthy food choices. What we found was uniformly dismal food at high prices with clueless staff ( splitting a bill across two credit cards should not represent an intellectual challenge - we gave up trying to explain this complex financial maneuver ). The room was basically dirty, the food awful, and the coffee worse than dishwater. Unquestionably our worst dining experience at Walt Disney World.
Written Oct 28, 2012
Thoughts on What Passes For Dining at Disney World --- Given the venue, high prices and mediocre food should come as no surprise. What was unexpected was the number of sub-mediocre venues at the same high prices. Even the most expensive places with tablecloths and waiter service are guilty of providing subpar food and superpar prices. In retrospect, the best course might be simple food prepared as ordered and not prepared en masse, pre-plated, and nuked as in the higher cost restaurants. As will be described in another tiip, even this plan does not always work.
That said, Pecos Bill comes closest to offering decent food at what passes for decent WDW prices. Located in Frontierland near Adventureland and across from Splash Mountain, location is certainly optimal. Also large, with several air-conditioned indoor rooms as well as outdoor shaded seating. The decor is meant to invoke an old time bar with heavy chandeliers, scattered wrought iron accessories, and a dull golden stucco wall as in older western movies. Orders are placed on computer screens where payment is made ( helpful mouse acolytes aid as needed ). The food is picked up on trays at a long adjoining counter. Despite the size, table space can be hard to come by especially outdoors. Best to send an advance party to find and hold a table.
Pictured is the happiest diner we saw in WDW. This fearless creature joined in just like another member of the family, posed for a photo-op, and then helped him(her)self, scared the hell out of the granddaughter who fled in tears.
Major menu items include hamburgers and wraps, taco salads and BBQ pork sandwiches, served with decent if not good french fries or apple slices. A Caesar salad is also on the limited menu ( all priced $7-9 ). Scattered sides, a few desserts - carrot cake, chocolate cake,and yogurt. Drinks and desserts - $2-4.
Favorite Dish: What sets Pecos Bill apart from most of the other moderately priced restaurants is the condiment bar - a real shock. Lots of toppings including cheese sauce, good sliced tomatoes and onions, and most impressively grilled mushrooms and onions - all included in the price of the ordered meal. Definitely adds a star or two on the rating.
Written Sep 16, 2012
The final night of our trip, we were in Downtown Disney, which is populated with many restaurants - some chains, some kitchy. We settled on Raglan Road after checking out the menu. Once again, we had reservations, but they didn't seem as necessary this time - we were seated quickly in a more restaurant-like part of the place, as opposed to in the bar area. This worked well having the little ones in tow.
The waitress was extremely friendly, and very helpful, chatted with the kids, and did everything right. The menu is fairly expansive - there were a number of choices that I had to whittle my order from, and they had several gluten free offerings for the wife as well. Lot's of choices for the kids (though they went with their good old standby burgers.) Having a bar attached, they also had a pretty extensive beer list. You also get served some tasty Irish bread that you can dip in Olive oil (infused with Guinness of course!)
I finally settled on Bangers and Booz - Guinness and onion bangers on mashed potatoes, topped with caramelized onions and beef stew. This was heavy, hearty, and heavenly. The stew was delicious, and had me second guessing as to whether or not I should have just gone with a full order of that.
Later in the meal, Irish dancers started up in the bar, and my wife, mom., and daughter went to watch for a few minutes. This added to the lively atmosphere of course!
Lots of good choices on the menu make this one a strong recommendation if you're in Downtown Disney.
Updated Jul 15, 2012
We found ourselves on Main Street around lunch time, and were looking where to go. Unfortunately, without reservations, the choices at this end of the park are extremely limited - so we ended up here at Casey's
The inside decor is all baseball themed, and the menu is all hot-dogs. And when I say all hot dogs, I mean you basically can choose from about four or five hot dogs (Chicago style, chili dog, BBQ dog, corn dog nuggets.)
There is no kids menu, and the price of the dogs run between $7-$9, so the tab runs up very quickly. I will say it tasted good, but this was our most expensive quick serve lunch, and all we got were a couple of hot dogs, served with apple slices.
Seating is very limited inside - we were able to get a table outside, but had to rotate because there wasn't enough room for all of us at once :(
Good in a pinch, but I would plan my day much better if I could do it again and eat elsewhere in the park - don't get caught over on Main Street!
Updated Jul 14, 2012
Lunch at the Magic Kingdom was at the Columbia Harbor House. We were in the vicinity of the Haunted Mansion and decided to give this one a go. As we walked up, the sheer volume of strollers informed us of how busy it was inside (as we were reviewing the menu, a supervisor got into it with one of the employees about keeping an eye on how the strollers were being parked - one of the few episodes I saw of the not-so-happiest moments here.)
Much like the other quick-serve places, you walk up to a register, order, then move to the counter to collect your food. Kids options were still in the 3-4 range, but there were a lot more options on the adult menu this time. Still a lot of fried food, but I guess they make up for it with the option to have steamed broccoli instead of fries.
I decided to try the chicken nuggets and fish meal, figuring if either was bad, I could fall back to the other. Surprisingly, both were decent. I loved having broccoli as opposed to fries, and they also had a few options of sauces for the nuggets and fish. There were vegetarian and chicken options, so if you aren't into seafood, you can still find something here. It was very crowded on a Friday, so finding seating may be your only hassle.
Written Jul 14, 2012
Another park, another day at a quick-service lunch. When we walked in to the Electric Umbrella, we almost left on account that the seating looked extremely limited. However, we found another area on the second floor, and made our way up there.
Like the other quick-serve places, there's about 5 choices for adults, and three or so on the kids menu. You pay at the register, then move forward to collect your tray(s) of orders. The kids had their standard cheeseburger (includes carrots, grapes, and milk.) I, however, got to try something a little more adventurous. One of the options is the Southwest flatbread - a flatbread sandwich with Black bean cakes, Monterey Jack cheese, corn salsa, and Chipotle mayonnaise. This thing was loaded with flavor - such a great option from the standard burgers and fried food. The price for a pop was outlandish, but it more than made up for it to have such a tasty sandwich option. Highly recommended.
Written Jul 14, 2012
For our second night out, we decided to try something we could get to from the Magic Kingdom. The Polynesian is a monorail ride away, and so that made our choice up for us. We had 5:30 reservations, but got there right as it opened (around 5:00), and they were able to seat us with no problem. The restaurant is on the second floor of the hotel, and actually right across from the monorail station. Our server was prompt, and courteous, but not quite as friendly as we experienced in other restaurants on the trip.
The food here is, our course, Polynesian themed - lots of tropical fruit sprinkled through the menu. They had a "build-your-own" multi-course meal deal for $30, which I debated going with a few times, before being talked out of it by my family. It would have been nice to try a soup or appetizer (or one of the fabulous looking desserts), but instead I just went with the straight meal. My choice was the coconut almond chicken. The chicken was delicious - I love the coconut almond crust. That came with a side salad that was also tasty. They also serve a really delicious bread while you are waiting.
The kids really enjoyed their meal too. Granted, the meal was just a cheeseburger, but kid meals come with dessert, which in this case was a build your own ice-cream sundae - a generous scoop of ice cream with multiple toppings on the side.
All-in-all, everything tasted great and everyone was satisfied. A really nice meal.
Written Jul 14, 2012
Because we didn't want to get too structured with our days, we decided not to make reservations for lunches. That meant visiting a couple of the quick-serve table places throughout the parks. Our first stop was here, as we were in the Animal Kingdom.
If you didn't realize it by now, food can cost a fortune in the parks, and my wife was shocked as we looked at the menu board. Knowing that it wouldn't get much better, she went and collected a table for us while I ordered. Like many of the quick serve places, you stand in line, get up to a register to order, then proceed to a counter where the folks serve your food on a tray. You'll be impressed with the efficiency of the system.
As far as the food, I found this place to be a hit-and-miss. Hit for the kids, miss for me. They got a hot dog with grapes, carrots, and a milk, all served in a little plastic pail (with shovel) They devoured it quickly, and were happy to have the toy (for us to lug around the rest of the day.) At least for the most part the lunch has a lot of healthy components to it. I went with the shrimp po-boy with fries. The shrimp were OK - there was a lot of them in the sandwich, but all the fried food was too salty and greasy. Very bad choice on my part. They did have apples, which would probably have helped.
All the restaurants generally have 3-4 choices for the kids and about 5 for the adults. That was the case here as well, so you should be able to cover most people's tastes.
Written Jul 14, 2012
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