Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rainforest Café at the Animal Kingdom





Rainforest Café at the Disney Animal Kingdom is one of those quirky restaurants hidden away just outside the AK gates. Yes, when you drive up the gatekeeper asks you for a $10 parking charge but tell him you plan to go to the restaurant and he may very well just let you in. Not to worry if you have to pay as the rainforest café will give you that $10 off your meal upon proof of parking receipt. Once inside the place is an eclectic arrangement of strange tables, gigantic aquariums and the most unusual bar that has to seat almost a hundred people. With the sounds of wild animals, rain forest storms with lightning and thunder and even the occasional light rain this place is worth seeing. . If for nothing else just a couple of exotic drinks and an appetizer or two. This is a must see restaurant with something for everyone in the family.

Don’t underestimate the gift shop for an hour of real fun and laughter. All sorts of weird gifts and rib tickling toys. Hippie clothing to safari wear. Hats that you will never forget and the most unusual assortment of affordable trinkets. This place has it all to entertain you. Just outside the back entrance is a courtyard your children will love. Odd statues and fountains and even a few park benches where you can sit down and relax. The rainforest café is much like the same restaurant located at Downtown Disney’s marketplace with one main difference. Here you can expect to walk right in and reservations are never needed.

HOT TIP: when you exit there is always some Disney character greeting opportunities before you enter the gates. Ideal for family photo opportunities without entering the main park.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Celebration, Florida ( Disney inspired downtown )




When staying in Central Florida don’t forget to visit the quaint downtown of Celebration. Celebration is a Disney inspired town over several thousand homes located east of I-4 off of Highway 192.It is well marked an easily found.Although not formally connected to Disney World it might as well be. This town in magical and you can understand why Walt Disney's brother insisted that their company sponsor something of a tribute to his brother.You really feel safe here and the town itself is like a small American village the way you'd always hope it could be.

For those of you who have not heard of Celebration, the town was originally designed by Walt Disney and his family.There are all sorts of quirky laws that include that every private home has a front porch and you can never see the driveway from the street. The downtown boasts many good places to eat, drink and to satisfy your sweet tooth. If you are in the mood for a movie night, Celebration’s cinema has two screens and is never very busy. One ofour favorite features of Celebration is the fountain located near the lake across from the movie theatre. At anytime you can hear children giggling and screaming as they run through the fountains. Downtown is host to all sorts of unusual restaurants. Here is a lsit of some of the most popular ones.


Seito Sushi:Great place for sushi and other Japanese favorites and is usually never crowded. You can eat either inside or outside. If you are lucky, Celebration may be hosting a festival of some sort and you will hear a local artist on the stage downtown.


Columbia Restaurant:Great Cuban food and their 1905 salad is the best. They have a nice, quiet bar that often times features Cuban music.On Friday and Saturday nights that quiet bar converts to party night with local entertainers and the occasional magician working the crowd. They offer the best mojitos in town with mint leaves and real sugar cane sticks. The sangria is a popular drink and made tableside with wine, juice and fresh fruit.The menu is balaced to include delights for young and old.


Market Street Café:Definitely the best breakfast in town. Their pancakes are awesome and it has the old time diner feel.Nothing on the menu is expensive and the staff make you feel like you have come home for diner.



Celebration Hotel:I suggest trying the Filet Mignon eggrolls (they are outstanding!) and ordering a martini as they have a large selection of fun martinis to choose from. The hotel has a very charming lobby where a piano player plays the classics on the weekends. You can also take your favorite beverage outside by the lake and relax. If all you want is a drink or two the bar area is magical.We suggest you start your eveneing there with a few special drinks and then wander down the street to enjoy whatever other restaurant you feel like enjoying.



Town Tavern:The burgers, seafood and clam chowder are excellent and the bar is a place “where everybody knows your name.” It is a wonderful spot where the locals hang and is very welcoming. It can get noisy at times as it is a local hang out but if you are in the mood for “ Cheers” but outside this is the place. Family, Food & Friends” says it all when it comes to the Celebration Town Tavern. This New England style restaurant & tavern has become the town’s social hub and place to be seen since opening in early 2000. The town tavern offers an extensive menu that is very family friendly.
Items that the tavern is famous for include: Award winning clam chowder Fried Ipswich Clams Fresh Boston Scrod Haddock & Scallops flown in fresh from the Northeastern Coastline as well as main plate salads, burgers, chicken, ribs & steaks

Sherlocks Tea Room: (Desserts) :If you’re looking for some place to satisfy your sweet tooth, make sure to stop by Sherlock’s. They have some very tempting and delicious desserts, wines and teas. On Friday and Saturday nights they feature live music and if you like English beer, this is definitely the right spot.
If you’re looking for ice cream, Kilwins is the place to go. They host many different flavors along with decadent chocolate and fudge that are made on sight.



Café D’Antonio
Located in the heart of Celebration’s downtown area, Cafe D’ Antonio enjoys a lakeside view with seating indoors and “al fresco.” Dress is casual in this warmly decored and family friendly atmosphere. With an open kitchen and the wood burning oven, grill and rotisserie that are common to Antonio’s restaurants, the menu features items representative of many of Italy’s varied regions. Fresh fish and seafood, Black Angus steaks, veal, chicken, pasta --- everything’s a specialty! Sample a simpler fare luncheon menu or a more traditional dinner menu; we have a children’s menu as well. There is a full bar at your service and an excellent wine list with wines by the glass and the bottle. After dinner, enjoy a liqueur or cappuccino in true Italian style.



Kilwin’s of Celebration Confectionery Chocolates and Ice Cream from Kilwin’s.


Starbucks : The bottom line is they always figured that putting people before products just made good common sense. So far, it’s been working out for them. Their relationships with farmers yield the highest quality coffees. The connections we make in communities create a loyal following. And the support we provide our baristas pays off everyday. This used to be the wildly popular Barney’s Coffee shop but as a Starbucks things improved. You can dine inside or out on the patio and watch the world go by. Meeting with friends to you’re your next day on vacation? This is the place. As always, free WI-FI for all patrons.


Upper Crust Pizza :Opened in late 2001, the restaurant features two types of pizza, thick Sicilian style and traditional New York style, both with a variety of toppings. Pizza is served as a whole pie, or by the slice with a drink for $2.79. In addition to the pizza offerings, Upper Crust also features a variety of Pannini’s, pressed sandwiches filled with items such as Tuscan Chicken, Steak and Cheese and Vegetables. A unique item served at Upper Crust is an open faced calzone called a “Crusti”. These hand made delights are stuffed with meatloaf, steak, Greek Salad and other items, and made to order in about 8 minutes. To top off your meal, Upper Crust offers a rotating menu of dessert pizzas including chocolate and apple cinnamon. Delivery is available in the immediate area, with about 20% of sales coming via delivered items.