Travel Destination: Disney World Update
Oh, the joys of Disney World never cease! Here’s my latest update from the Happiest Place on Earth.
I tried out a few new places, and dined at some of my favorite spots when I was in Disney to celebrate my 25th birthday with my parents. See my review from last year here.
The first new restaurant I ate at was Whispering Canyon Cafe in the Fort Wilderness Lodge, which is in the Magic Kingdom resort area. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this is the place to go if you have kids. The restaurant features frontier fare in a “rowdy, rootin’-tootin'” atmosphere. Every hour there are hobby horse rides for all the small children, along with periodic sing-alongs and a wise-cracking wait staff.
For dinner, there is one all-star gluten-free and vegan option: Skillet-fired Red Quinoa Cakes. You have to slightly modify the dish because it comes with a yogurt-based sauce, but I checked with the manager, who used to be a chef there, and the cakes themselves are 100 percent gluten-free, vegan and delicious. Besides the quinoa, they use chickpea flour as a binder. They were great! The only thing I wish is that I could have had a sauce with them. I took one home and enjoyed it with hummus.
Then we went to the Coral Reef Restaurant located inside Epcot. I’ve been there before, and I love it because not only do they have a giant aquarium wall that allows you to watch sharks, fish, and stingrays swim by as you eat, but they have black rice! A chef come out to confirm my order. I had the vegan option, Marinated Grilled Vegetables over black rice, minus the fake chick’n breast that it comes with because they are made with gluten. The vegetables and rice are great together. As a bonus, they have gluten-free and vegan rolls to start off with.
Next we went back to Citricos to celebrate my birthday. It’s a must as far as I’m concerned. Citricos is a fine-dining restaurant in the Grand Floridian resort, which is also in the Magic Kingdom resort area. I usually get the Seared Tofu Ratatouille without tofu, but Chef Dave said he’d love to make me a vegan tasting plate featuring some of my favorite items. The new celery root soup is also gluten-free and vegan, so I began my meal with that.
Let me just say it was so fantastic we decided to come back later that week for a repeat performance. And again, Citricos delivered a fantastic meal.
The following day we spent the day at the Animal Kingdom theme park. After we rode the Expedition Everest ride, we headed over to the Tusker House Restaurant for a lunch buffet. As with all buffets, the chef came out to talk to me and walk me around the buffet line. I told him I didn’t want anything too heavy because we had a long day planned at the park, and that I loved vegetables. He prepared me a Mt. Everest-sized salad and plate of steamed vegetables. It was exactly what I wanted. As a special treat, I got my a birthday card from Mickey Mouse!
For dinner, we went to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to eat at its fine-dining restaurant Jiko. This was our first time at Jiko and I was excited to try it because they had an extensive gluten-free and large vegan menu. I explained my dietary needs to our server, and he went and asked the chef to come out. The chef highly recommended their vegan roasted vegetable tamale, as it was one of their specialty dishes and already met my dietary requirements. I agreed. Unfortunately, neither the gluten-free soups or vegan soup I could eat, and I didn’t want a salad again, so I didn’t order an appetizer.
The tamale itself had excellent points and some areas for improvement. I absolutely LOVED the spicy red pepper sauce it came with, and the roasted cauliflower the chef made me as a surprise because I told him it was my favorite. However, I’ve had better tamales. It was only filled with a few roasted zucchini and squash pieces and lots of corn kernels, which aren’t my favorite. It definitely wasn’t bad, my not outstanding either. For the price, I don’t know if it was worth it.
The next day we went back to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to Boma for dinner, hands-down the best buffet in Disney World. After walking me through the buffet line, the chef made me a large, and totally satisfying meal.
It started off with two soups, the harira, a spicy lentil stew, and chakalaka, a spicy tomato soup. Both were good, although a little tomato-heavy. My meal was a plate overflowing with flavor. He made me an African-spiced cabbage stir-fry, roasted green beans and baby carrots, and AMAZING mashed potatoes. I actually asked for a second helping of potatoes because they were so good.
For the first time, my parents and I spent the last two days staying at Disney in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Our room overlooked the savannah, so we woke up to giraffes and zebras. It was really cool.
It was also the first time I had breakfast and Boma. And let me tell you after not being able to eat at a breakfast buffet in four years, it was an emotional experience. I actually taught Chef Chris how to make a chickpea omelet, which he paired with a bowl of hot quinoa with cinnamon. For his first try, he made one heck of a chickpea omelet, and it was HUGE!
Even though I didn’t love my Jiko meal, we decided to go back for dinner that night because my parents had LOVED their meals. Once again, I could not have an appetizer or desert, but a different chef did make me a lovely roasted vegetable and potato plate with the amazing red pepper sauce. I preferred the mashed potatoes from Boma to the sautéed baby potatoes at Jiko, but it was still quite tasty. And they even produced some rolls for me to eat so I didn’t have to watch my parents eat their bread and soup without anything.
The next day Chef Ben copied how he saw Chef Chris make the chickpea omelet, and made his own, more refined, omelet for me. He also spent 20 minutes tracking down sweet potatoes to make me a sweet potato hash because I told him I was desperately craving them. It was also my last Disney meal. It took him a while, and my parents had to leave me to finish packing, but totally worth every minute. Thank you Boma for again restoring my faith in what a restaurant can be.
Overall, it was another great Disney adventure! I can’t wait to go back again, so I can eat in luxury :).