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Best Disney Restaurants for Every Occasion

Disney destinations around the globe are known for their family-friendly attractions. But what many visitors don’t realize is that Disney restaurants are also extremely popular, and some have even won numerous culinary accolades.

From award-winning chefs and character dining to exotic cuisine and themed dining rooms, restaurants at Walt Disney World in Florida, Disneyland in California, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line ships, and Disney Vacation Club resorts are earning high marks from diners.

Venture away from stereotypical theme park food and you’ll find a world of interesting and memorable menus. Visitors to Disney restaurants will encounter incredible seafood, mouthwatering steaks, and delights for all palates, including those that require special diets.

Dining at any Disney location will immerse you in the theme of the restaurant. If you’re looking for fun, you can find a down-home hoedown with barbecue eats and kick-up-your-heels entertainment for the entire family to enjoy. Or, if you’d like to dine abroad but don’t want to leave the continental United States, a trip to Epcot in Florida will provide numerous restaurants in the World Showcase that offer regional specialties from around the globe; the servers are even from the represented countries, working in Epcot on an international exchange program.

Want to dine with Disney royalty? Book a character meal with Disney princesses. Looking for a romantic ambiance? You’ll find it at Disney locations worldwide — including at Remy aboard the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream cruise ships, Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian Resort in Walt Disney World, and Napa Rose nestled in the Grand Californian Resort at Disneyland.

Whether you’re looking to impress, relax, or satiate a craving, Disney restaurants offer a multitude of dining experiences. Travel with us as we visit the top Disney restaurants around the world.

Best chance to “eat in a movie:” Be Our Guest Restaurant, Walt Disney World

Beast’s Castle from Beauty and the Beast houses Walt Disney World’s Be Our Guest Restaurant, a new dining addition to the Magic Kingdom. Diners are enchanted by three dining rooms — Belle’s book-filled library, the West Wing featuring an enchanted rose and a painting of the Beast that hides a surprise, and the elegant Ballroom with views of falling snow taken directly from the film — it’s a wonder of “imagineering!” This location is also notable as it’s the only spot to order an alcoholic beverage in the Magic Kingdom.

Best Disney-shaped food: Crystal Lotus, Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney visitors quickly become accustomed to having their food served in familiar character shapes, such as a smiling Mickey face. But at the Crystal Lotus in the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, even the dim sum is presented in the form of beloved Disney characters. As an award-winning Chinese restaurant, the atmosphere is elegant and the cuisine is outstanding.

Best bar/lounge : Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, Disneyland Resort

Believe it or not, Disney Parks and Resorts offer hundreds of themed bars and lounges that are kid-friendly and offer menus of food in addition to drinks. But tucked into the Disneyland Hotel, Trader Sam’s is undoubtedly our favorite. Named after the shrunken-head-peddling “Trader Sam” from the beloved Jungle Cruise attraction, this spot offers more than meets the eye. Look for Disney references in Trader Sam’s “artifacts” while enjoying the hilarious antics of the bartenders. This spot welcomes kids until the evening, when it becomes 21-and-over.

Best for meeting princesses: Cinderella’s Royal Table, Walt Disney World

Dining inside the iconic Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom is a royal experience. Guests enter into the two-story stone foyer to meet Cinderella, then proceed to the red-carpeted, winding staircase to the dining room of Cinderella’s Royal Table. You’re surrounded by finery, including royal flags, huge chandeliers, and stained-glass windows that look out onto your “royal subjects” who are playing their day away in the Kingdom. As you dine, Disney princesses (and sometimes a prince or two!) hobnob with each visiting family. Book dinner in the castle during the fireworks to get a unique view.

Best “fast food:” Plaza Inn, Disneyland Resort

Disneyland’s historic Plaza Inn is set on Main Street, U.S.A. within view of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Featuring Victorian décor and a gorgeous outdoor patio, this is a spot Walt Disney himself liked to frequent during his days in Disneyland. Whether you dine indoors or outside, your quick-service meal should absolutely include the cult favorite fried chicken with all the trimmings — it’s among the best we’ve had. And the desserts are well worth trying. The food and ambiance here are on par with many casual, sit-down restaurant offerings.

Best immersive theming: Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, Walt Disney World

For a truly unique experience, head to the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Guests are often amazed as they walk inside a massive dining room imagineered to resemble a vintage drive-in movie at twilight — twinkling stars and all. But it gets better: guests are seated at “tables” that look and feel like 1950s convertible cars (two guests get the front seat, and two guests get the back in most of these cars). After the car hop takes your order, watch the clips on the screen featuring old news reels, silly horror flicks, and classic cartoons.

Best family experience: Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Walt Disney World

Families looking for comfort food and an unforgettable experience for all generations will feel right at home at Pioneer Hall at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Inside, the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue — an historic musical showcase that’s been going strong since Disney World first opened its gates — plays to sold-out crowds every night of the year. Fasten your kerchiefs and get ready to dig into all-you-can-eat buckets of fried chicken, barbecue ribs, cornbread, and decadent strawberry shortcake. Mom and Dad also get to indulge in endless beer, wine, and sangria. This is a tradition for many families who keep coming back year after year.

Best waterside show: Oceano, Tokyo Disneyland Resort

Oceano at Tokyo DisneySea in the Hotel MiraCosta offers a Mediterranean menu with a choice of a buffet or table-service experience in separate dining rooms. It provides a gorgeous atmosphere and a great view of the Mediterranean Harbor, but the main draw for us here is the epic water show “Legend of Mythica,” which can be thoroughly enjoyed from the restaurant’s exclusive viewing platform!

Best for special occasions: Napa Rose, Disneyland Resort

Napa Rose inside the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa offers a seasonal, market-inspired menu. There are tables tucked away in nooks and crannies for those hoping for a more private, romantic experience; but we also love to book the Chef’s Counter, where guests have a close-up view of the open kitchen and may get to sample a few of the dishes-in-progress. Either way, your experience will be capped with impeccable service, a top-notch wine list, and unforgettable food.

Most interesting atmosphere: Magellan’s, Tokyo Disneyland Resort

Magellan’s at Tokyo DisneySea is known for its stunning theme dedicated to explorer and navigator Ferdinand Magellan. “Props” themed to astronomy and exploration are featured throughout the fortress-like venue, which is centered on an Old World globe in a two-story dining room with balcony seating. While the elegant atmosphere is exceptional, the multi-course meals are also noteworthy.

Best steakhouse: Steakhouse 55, Disneyland Resort

This place is a classic. Located in the Disneyland Hotel, Steakhouse 55 exudes Hollywood glamor in a refined and memorable setting. Perfectly cooked steaks are the specialty of the house — there are no frills here! — and if you’re a meat and potatoes fan, you won’t leave disappointed. Ask the expert sommelier to pair a wine with your signature entrée, and don’t forget to save room for the towering 24-layer chocolate cake for dessert.

Best beach and ocean view: ‘AMA’AMA, Disney’s Aulani Resort

What’s better than sitting on a Hawaiian beach feeling the ocean breeze? Eating there, that’s what! Known for Hawaiian cuisine and sweeping ocean views, ‘AMA’AMA is located at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii. From the open-air tables, the view of the beach and Pacific Ocean are breathtaking. We recommend a dinner reservation at sunset.

Most exclusive: Club 33, Disneyland Resort

Club 33 is a members-only club with a years-long waiting list. Located in New Orleans Square of Disneyland, this hidden gem was designed by Walt Disney himself as a tranquil location to hold important meetings and entertain friends. If you want to dine here, you’ll need a reservation made by a member. But once inside, it’s a treasure trove of authentic Disney history. Walt and Lillian Disney shopped for much of the décor themselves, and some of the original “Imagineering” still remains. Be sure to ask for a tour when you’re there.

Best seafood: Flying Fish Café, Walt Disney World

This is a tough one to rank, as seafood can be great in so many Disney restaurants. But our pick for most consistently excellent seafood goes to Flying Fish. But what we love most is that the mouthwatering menu includes several incredible options for land lovers as well, so your group will find something for everyone here. Located at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort, this restaurant is situated along Crescent Lake and boasts whimsical décor, an open kitchen, and fresh seafood specialties.

Best way to eat in a ride attraction: Blue Lagoon, Disneyland Resort Paris

Swashbucklers (and hungry guests) should make reservations to dine at the “waterside” Blue Lagoon inside Disneyland Paris — the restaurant overlooks the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Serving exotic fish and Creole dishes, the moonlit atmosphere, twinkling fireflies, and boats floating by create an enchanting environment. You can get a similar experience at Blue Bayou in Disneyland stateside as well!

Best character dining experience : Chef Mickey’s, Walt Disney World

While it’s not necessarily the best food in any theme park, the opportunity to get autographs from all of the “Fab Five” characters is not to be missed for any new Disney character-hunter. Chef Mickey’s is in the middle of the main concourse in Disney’s Contemporary Resort, which means you’ll get to watch Monorails whooshing overhead as you sing and dance with your favorite pals — Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto. The buffet food and copious desserts will please any young guest, and the grown-ups seem to enjoy it, too. Once you’ve done this one, you may prefer several of the other character meals for food and atmosphere, but snagging all five autographs in one meal will save you priceless hours waiting in line in the parks.

Article via USA Today.

Discover a World of Cuisine at Beaches Turks & Caicos

As with all Luxury Included® Vacations, a stay at Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa guarantees diverse dining options that guests of every age will enjoy. What you may not know is that Beaches Turks & Caicos will soon house more restaurants than any other resort in our brand. From kid-friendly burgers, fries and milkshakes at Bobby Dee’s to oceanfront dining at Barefoot by the Sea, their hardest decision will be deciding what to try next!

With Beaches Resorts’ Discovery Dining program, internationally trained chefs create authentic dishes that take guests on a gastronomic expedition around the world without ever having to leave the resort. Families can indulge in a taste of Northern Italy at elegant Mario’s, British pub fare and pints at Cricketer’s Pub or tasty Tex-Mex at Arizona’s. For interactive dining, Teppanyaki-style restaurant Kimonos attracts families for dinner, while personalized pizzas are prepared fresh daily and cooked in the wood-fired oven at Bella Napoli.

The introduction of the Key West Luxury Village in May will offer guests three additional gourmet dining options. Guests will be able to enjoy Marin Restaurant, the brand’s signature beachfront restaurant, which will overlook the award-winning Grace Bay Beach on Providenciales; Sky Lounge Restaurant, offering Italian cuisine and local, fresh seafood for dinner; and Grill Bleu Restaurant, a beachside casual restaurant with panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea offering a buffet selection for breakfast, an a la carte menu for lunch and authentic Tandoori cuisine for dinner.

Watch the video below for an inside look at dining at Beaches Turks & Caicos with Beaches Resorts’ Culinary Ambassador, Walter Staib, and Executive Chef, Colin Watson.

An all-inclusive vacation experience should never be restricted by buffet lines and reservation-only dining options; that’s why Beaches Resorts provides five-star cuisine at any hour of the day. The new Key West Luxury Village opens on May 22nd but it’s never too early to book a stay to be sent on a culinary expedition around the globe at Beaches Resorts.

Disney World’s turnstiles vanishing, replaced by Apple iPod Touches and RFID bracelets

Visitors to Walt Disney World know the drill: if you want to spin in a giant tea cup, drop down Splash Mountain, or wave to Snow White, you’ll likely encounter a less than magical turnstile before the fun can begin.

Recently, though, guests have been in for a surprise.

At Disney properties in Florida the company has taken out half the turnstiles and replaced them with “touch points,” globes with a mouse logo that lights up green when a visitor holds a valid ticket up to it, Disney told NBC News.

Turnstiles are being replaced with “touch points.” When Walt Disney World Resort rolls-out MyMagic+ later this year, guests will be able to enter the parks with the touch of a wireless wristband.

Turnstiles are being replaced with “touch points.” When Walt Disney World Resort rolls-out MyMagic+ later this year, guests will be able to enter the parks with the touch of a wireless wristband.

Choose this way to enter a park and you can just walk in. There are no more gates or turnstiles to deal with.

Visitors in wheelchairs or those with strollers can use the same entrance that everybody else does.

Park employees have also been equipped with iPod touches to scan tickets. The gadgets are part of a test and provide “another option to help with guest service,” Disney said.

The company has been quietly introducing the upgrades as part of its “MyMagic+” program, which will eventually get rid of turnstiles all together. It will also provide visitors with other high-tech features, such as the “MagicBand,” a wireless RFID bracelet that will function as a park entry pass, hotel room key and wallet. The program, still in the testing phase, is expected to be fully rolled out over the coming year.

The changes are designed to make moving around the parks smoother. The company hopes they will create a “more seamless and more personal experience,” wrote Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, in a blog post earlier this year.

Visitors can get in quicker without turnstiles, Disney pointed out, which may translate into shorter lines. Park employees will still be working at the entrances, helping visitors and monitoring the process.

Most people are “surprised and delighted” not to see turnstiles, Disney told NBC News. The new system is in place only in Florida for now, though visitors will likely see similar upgrades at Disney properties in other parts of the country and the world down the road.

Industry observers predicted the changes will likely pay off for the company.

If there’s less hassle for travelers to enter the park, that adds to their experience and makes them a little happier during their visit, said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors. That, in turn, can translate into more money for the park.

“This may give [Disney] a bit of an advantage in that people know now that when they come to visit a Disney park, it’ll be a little more convenient perhaps than other theme parks,” Gerner said.

It’ll be a while before the wristbands are handed out, but the disappearing turnstiles are already a reality.

Studies have shown that theme park visitors hate “double dipping” – or having to constantly go into their pockets to bring out more money or produce tickets – so the wireless wristband will likely appeal to guests by helping reduce the need for cash, Gerner said.

“In the time that they would have spent waiting at a turnstile to get in, those are a few more minutes that they can spend browsing in a shop or getting something to eat and that adds revenue,” said Gerner.

If you’re interested in pricing for a Disney World Vacation, fill out the form below and we’ll take care of you!

Article via NBC News

Rafael Nadal Joins Alex Zozaya to Share Property Updates at Secrets Aura Cozumel and Sunscape Sabor Cozumel

Alex Zozaya, CEO of Apple Leisure Group and Rafael Nadal

Alex Zozaya, CEO of Apple Leisure Group and Rafael Nadal

See bottom of page for SPECIAL OFFER for Secrets Aura Cozumel!

MÉXICO, D.F. (March 7, 2013) – During championship tennis player Rafael Nadal’s recent stay at Secrets Aura Cozumel, he joined Alex Zozaya, CEO of Apple Leisure Group, to discuss the latest updates Nadal’s properties have undergone since AMResorts assumed sales, marketing and management duties for the resorts.

As of December 15, 2012, adults-only Secrets Aura Cozumel completed the necessary renovations to bring the resort up to the Secrets Resorts & Spas’ brand standards. Guests of Secrets Aura Cozumel now enjoy 168 luxury rooms and suites with a balcony or terrace with Caribbean Sea and pool views. All benefits of the brand’s signature Unlimited-Luxury® concept are also available, including limitless access to four gourmet a la carte dining options and premium beverage brands; 24-hour room and concierge services; countless daytime activities; live evening entertainment; and more. Secrets Aura Cozumel features three main swimming pools, a newly revamped full service spa, a fitness center, non-motorized water sports, as well as suites with a private pool.

The 330-room Sunscape Sabor Cozumel is slated to begin operations under the Sunscape Resorts & Spas brand by April. Guests of that resort will enjoy the benefits of Sunscape Resorts & Spas’ signature Unlimited-Fun® vacation concept which provides limitless access to gourmet a la carte dining and top-shelf spirits, countless daytime activities, live evening entertainment, fitness facilities and more. Additionally, Sunscape Sabor will offer the brand’s signature Explorer’s Club for kids and Desires night club, along with diving and water sports centers, and three pools.

“The coming together of the Nadal family and Secrets Resorts & Spas is important for the brand, these resorts and the destination of Cozumel,” said Alex Zozaya, CEO of Apple Leisure Group. “We have immediately seen its effects in guests’ positive reception to the rebranding and the high occupancy levels we are enjoying.”

“I have quickly seen the positive impact and improvements brought about by the recent rebranding of my resorts in Cozumel,” said Rafael Nadal. “I’m a person that travels significantly and can say that in AMResorts’ hands, my properties have turned into the kind of resorts I like to stay at.”

“Cozumel is my home away from home. Here, I feel comfortable, and am able to enjoy the beauty of the destination,” Nadal added.

SPECIAL OFFER for Secrets Aura Cozumel: Rates from $120 per person, per night!
Click here for our Secrets Aura Cozumel page for pricing and availability and a custom price request form. Offer subject to end at any time.aura_600x600

What would an American-US Airways merger mean for you?

The boards of US Airways and American parent AMR have voted to merge. The deal still has some hurdles to clear, but the deal would bring big changes to many U.S. travelers if it closes. Here are some things you can expect in a merger between American and US Airways.

Is it safe to buy tickets on these airlines?

Definitely. It will likely take the airlines months to win approvals and close on the merger. And, even once (if) that happens, it still will take many months to combine operations. During that time, each carrier would continue to operate normally. That includes selling their own tickets and operating their own flights. Once the airlines are ready to combine, the newly merged carrier would honor all future tickets sold on either one.

What name would the new carrier take?

American in all likelihood. Although US Airways’ management will have many of the top jobs in the merged airline, CEO Doug Parker and other US Airways executives are on record as saying that they will assume the American name and brand. They’ve also said they intend to move the company’s headquarters from Arizona to American’s current location in Texas.

Are my miles safe?

This is one of the top questions people want to know any time there’s a merger. Fortunately, the answer is “yes.” Mileage programs are a key perk airlines use to hold onto their top customers, and the new “merged” American won’t risk alienating any of those customers by not honoring the “other side’s” miles in a merger. It would take several months – maybe even a year – from the time a merger closes, but the carriers eventually will consolidate their frequent-flier programs and merge the accounts of fliers who have miles with both airlines.

Which frequent-flier alliance will the carrier be in?

oneworld. US Airways is currently in the Star Alliance, but CEO Parker has been clear that the merged airline would hitch its wagon to the oneworld group that American helped found. Even other members of oneworld – such as British Airways’ chief Willie Walsh – have openly said American would have more to offer oneworld if it merged with US Airways.

Would the merger be good or bad for frequent fliers?

As with any merger, there would be changes that cut both ways. One of the most obvious improvements would be an increased number of international destinations available to frequent fliers.

More broadly, American’s AAdvantage program is widely regarded as one of the best loyalty programs in the world. The program has many options to earn miles, and AA is considered to be among the easiest U.S. airlines for redeeming miles for award tickets. American also allows customers the option to redeem miles for one-way award tickets by using just half the miles needed for a one-way trip – an option that would surely be well-received by US Airways’ frequent fliers if that carries over to the merger carrier.

As for US Airways, its Dividend Miles frequent-flier program is solid — if not among the world’s best. It does have its perks, though, such as low-mileage off-peak award tickets that give members great deals for winter trips to Europe.

The biggest fear would be if the airline raised the miles needed for award tickets, but observers expect the airline won’t make such a move, at least early on, as it tries to placate customers worried about the merger.

Will fares go up?

Yes, that’s likely on some routes. However, one recent study by professional services firm PwC US suggests that the two previous big airline mergers (Delta-Northwest and United-Continental) have not produced the across-the-board price increases many had feared. And, proponents of “consolidation” argue that creating a third big “global” U.S. airline could actually help keep fares in check by preventing United and Delta from becoming a duopoly that can dictate fares.

Reprinted from USA Today

Sandals Resorts International Acquires the Veranda Resorts & Residences

Sandals Resorts International, parent company of Sandals ResortsBeaches Resorts, and Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts, has announced the purchase of The Veranda Resorts & Residences in Turks & Caicos, a luxury property with beautifully appointed suites and villas and spectacular oceanfront views along Grace Bay. The agreement to acquire the resort was successfully reached after ongoing negotiations with His Excellency the Governor, Damian Roderic Todd and the Government of the Turks & Caicos Islands.”We sincerely thank Governor Todd, Premier Dr. Rufus Ewing and the entire cabinet for their ongoing support of Beaches Resorts,” said Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Chairman of Sandals Resorts.  “We admire their vision and tireless efforts for the betterment of the Turks product and wish them ‘All That’s Good’ for the future.”The purchase will be an expansion of the award-winning Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa and introduced as the Key West Luxury Village.  The Key West Luxury Village will feature studios, multi-bedroom suites and villas, perfect for visiting families, and will be the first major addition to the property since the grand opening of the resort’s Italian Village in 2009.  In addition to the 16 restaurants currently at Beaches Turks & Caicos, guests will now have access to three new gourmet-dining establishments through the expansion, as well as a number of other luxurious amenities.Stewart commented, “It has been an exciting month for us and we are so pleased to continue the expansion of the Beaches Resorts brand in Turks & Caicos.  Everything here is expressly designed for the way today’s families live and travel and we have truly added upon what was already the Caribbean’s most comprehensive, Luxury Included® vacation for every member of the family.  We have so enjoyed sharing the beauty of Grace Bay over the last fifteen years and look forward to welcoming guests to this new piece of paradise.”

 Some of the Key West Luxury Village highlights include:

  • Excess of 150 rooms, suites and villas
  • The East & West Villages are composed of villas and two story buildings, reminiscent of Key West
  • The Veranda House is a four story building housing magnificent rooms, one bedroom and two bedroom loft suites.
  • Three and four bedroom villas on the beach with private pools that are as large as private homes
  • All concierge with butler villas and suites
  • Three additional restaurants
  • One additional bar
  • An additional state of the art fitness center
  • Three additional swimming pools
  • An additional kids center
  • Fire Pits

These rooms will be bookable immediately. Contact an agent for more information!