Disney Dining Review: Kimonos

Kimonos is a sushi and karaoke bar located in the Swan side of the Swan and Dolphin resort in the Boardwalk area of Disney property. Kimonos is open for dinner at 5pm and karaoke starts at 9pm. I called prior to our trip to Disney, but was told that reservations are not taken. Note that Kimonos does not accept Disney room charges, the Disney Dining Plan, or Disney Gift Cards.

Warm wood tones, dark furniture and hanging paper lanterns invite you into what at first looks like a small restaurant. There is a sushi bar to your left with a few chairs and the modest karaoke stage is to the right. Tables in the center of the room can be pushed together for larger parties and smaller tables line the inner walls. Once you are inside the restaurant you notice there is also seating along the outer walls, an area separated from the center of the room by colorful Kimonos hung from the ceiling. This outer area has more tables and some comfortable couch seating. The bar is at the very back of the restaurant.

We asked our server, Megan, for recommendations for dinner and she didn’t steer us wrong. We started with the Filled Eggplant appetizer, a crab and chicken combination rolled in thinly sliced eggplant and tempura-fried. Very yummy! She also suggested the Lobster Salad Roll, a tasty mix of lobster, fried grouper and wasabi caviar and the Bonzai roll with spicy tuna, avocado and topped with eel. The flavors in this were wonderful, but unfortunately there were some bones in the eel. We also had a couple of pieces of yellowtail nigiri, because well, it’s my favorite and always just melts in your mouth.

Another great thing about this restaurant was the drink menu. Being the martini-lover that I am, I had to try the Cool Cucumber Saketini, a delicious mix of vanilla vodka, sake, a hint of rock candy syrup, and fresh muddled cucumber. I wasn’t sure exactly what that last ingredient meant, but I never thought that a cucumber martini could taste so good. But, here is the best thing about their wine list – they actually carried a wine from the New York Finger Lakes! We live in the Finger Lakes region and are big supporters of NY State wine, so to find one on a menu out of New York State is a wonderful thing. If you try Kimonos, I highly recommend a glass of Heron Hill Semi Dry Riesling, it would be a perfect complement to their food.

It didn’t seem like it would be a lot of food, but we were quite full. (The rolls were pretty big.) Megan tried to persuade us to have a few more drinks and stick around for the karaoke, but we politely declined. We thanked her for her humorous and attentive service and thanked the sushi chefs for a delightful meal on our way out. Since this was the first night of our vacation, my fortune cookie fortune was pretty appropriate: “Happier days are definitely ahead for you.”

Disney Free Dining Extended through September 2011!!!

Free Disney Dining plan for all of 2011 rumors are TRUE! (well, almost)

Disney has extended the Free Dining Plan promotion for select nights thru September 29, 2011. As in the past, you get the Quick Service plan with vacations at Value resorts and the standard plan with Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts. This Free Dining promotion is valid for most arrival dates 10/1/10 – 10/7/10, 10/22/10 – 10/28/10, 11/12/10 – 11/18/10, 11/27/10 -12/2/10, 12/10/10 – 12/21/10, 1/1/11 – 1/5/11, 1/9/11 – 1/13/11, 1/21/11 – 2/3/11, 2/11/11 – 2/17/11, 2/25/11 – 3/3/11, 5/27/11 – 6/2/11 and 8/19/11 – 9/29/11. Not visiting during these times? Find out if paying for the dining plan is a good deal and if the dining plan is right for you and your family. To be eligible for the free dining offer, you must also stay for three consecutive nights and purchase a minimum two day base admission ticket. Note that most of March thru July is blacked out, with the odd exception of the Memorial Day timeframe in May-June. The biggest restriction is that you must book by 12/20/2010. Get all the details at mousesavers.com.

Disney Dining Plan Pricing for 2011

For 2011, Disney has made a couple of adjustments in addition to raising prices across the board for each of the Dining Plan options. First, when using a Quick Service credit for a breakfast, you are only entitled to an entrée and non-alcoholic beverage, versus the previous years entitlements of juice, entrée, and non-alcoholic beverage. Second, Le Cellier, one of the best dinner values for your dining plan table service credits, [Read more…]

Character Dining at Disney World

Donald's Safari Breakfast

Donald's Safari Breakfast

Character Dining at Walt Disney World is one of the best ways to get the most memorable pictures and a full autograph book. Dining with the Disney Characters doesn’t mean that they literally sit down at the table with you and eat, (kinda tough in some of those costumes!) but that they come out during your meal to greet you and have their picture taken and generally entertain you. It is also never guaranteed that a certain character will be in attendance, Cinderella at Cinderella’s Royal Table is a high probability, but don’t have your heart set on seeing Jasmine too, she may not show.

There are a couple of factors that will determine where you want to do your character meal. [Read more…]

Should I buy the Disney Dining Plan?

As a follow-up to our previous post “Is the Disney Dining Plan a Good Deal?”, we will try to help you determine if the Disney Dining Plan will be right for you and your family. Several factors go in to determining if the Dining Plan will be a good deal for you. Note that Disney offers three options of the Dining Plan, Quick Service, Standard, and Deluxe. At this point, we are addressing only the Standard Disney Dining Plan. (See the Dining Plan Pricing here) Note also that during peak seasons plan pricing goes up $5 per day for adults and $1 per day for children corresponding with an increase in menu prices during peak season.

The first factor is [Read more…]

Is the Disney Dining Plan A Good Deal?

Determining if the Disney Dining Plan is a good deal is an interesting task. I have been researching this for some time now and there are all sorts of opinions, analyses, and hard facts to search thru. After combing thru all this information I can offer the absolute definitive answer to the question: “Is the Disney Dining Plan a good deal?” The Answer is: It depends. I’m sorry, but that is the best answer anyone can truthfully offer. It simply depends on several factors. Mathematically, the Disney Dining Plan can certainly work out to be a great deal. On the other hand, you could end up in the red if you use your credits for items on the low end of the scale, are unable to use all your credits, or do too many of Disney’s Signature Dining experiences. [Read more…]

Free Disney Dining 2010

Official Release of the Free Dining Plan for 2010!

Free dining is back at the Walt Disney World Resort for stays between August 15 and October 2!  The quick service plan will be offered for stays at value resorts and the regular plan will be offered for moderate and deluxe resorts. Note that if you stay in a value resort you have the option to upgrade to the regular plan for the price difference. See the Disney site for all the details.

Check our breakdown of the Disney Dining Plan pricing structure for 2010.

Review: Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside

Our review of Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside is based on our single experience staying there November 13th thru 18th, 2009. The service, cleanliness and theming are comparable to other Disney moderate resorts, fully living up to the usual Disney standards.

The grounds are a bit confusing. We had some trouble finding our room at first but once you get your bearings its ok. Riverside is very picturesque, especially in the mornings. The reflections in the calm waters of the Sassagoula River…

Disney's Port Orleans-Riverside Mill

Disney's Port Orleans-Riverside Mill

Disney's Port Orleans-Sassagoula Steamboat Co.

Disney's Port Orleans-Sassagoula Steamboat Co.

…and the way the morning sun comes thru the trees is beautiful.

Disney's Port Orleans-Alligator Bayou

Disney's Port Orleans-Alligator Bayou

Disney's Port Orleans-Alligator Bayou

Disney's Port Orleans-Alligator Bayou

The main pool is not nearly as big as the one at say, Caribbean Beach, but it does have a water slide and some water spouts for the kids. If you want to do some exploring, the Alligator Bayou area is lush and winding and it’s just a short walk to check out the Port Orleans French Quarter too. The room layout is typical of other moderate resorts, basically identical to those we stayed in at Caribbean Beach, just themed differently. Some of the Riverside water view and standard view rooms with two double beds also offer a trundle bed for a maximum occupancy of five. As of 2009 I would say that the rooms at this resort could stand a refresh in terms of a coat of paint and some new furniture. This didn’t jump out at me but when you look at the details one would hope that the rooms at this property are nearing the top of the list for renovation.

In my mind the best part about Riverside was the dining options. We have not eaten at Boatright’s Dining Hall, the table service restaurant at Port Orleans Riverside, so I can’t give any opinions on that. However, in our opinion, the counter service options offered at the Riverside Mill food court are some of the best. There is a pastry shop with all sorts of wonderful goodies. There are make to order sandwiches, salads and hot food. Servings were enough for the two of us to split one entrée and be satisfied. For breakfast the hot food was scrambled eggs with whatever fixins’ you wanted and the the usual Mickey waffles. Lunch consisted of gourmet sandwiches, interesting pastas and salads, and a selection of made to order stir fry entrées. The River Roost Lounge is a full indoor bar and lounge and has a separate section with a piano player that does fun sing-a-longs to entertain the kids. The Muddy Rivers Pool Bar by the main pool serves drinks and snacks. They were getting ready to close as we arrived for a drink in early evening. I asked about their hours and the bartender said they would stay open as long as they had customers but in mid-November crowds were very light so they usually closed up fairly early.

I would be comfortable recommending Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside resort to anyone looking for moderate price range accommodations on Disney property. If you are looking for the very freshest rooms I may point you more toward Caribbean Beach since I know they have done some recent renovations. For the amount of time we spend in our room this doesn’t bother us and the excellent quick service food options are a big plus that will keep us coming back.

Disney Dining with a Food Allergy

One concern we had when we first decided to go to Disney or with any outing where we will be dining away from home, is my son’s food allergies. We are fortunate that his are relatively easy to avoid, but still require reading every label and analyzing every menu. He is allergic to tree nuts (thankfully not peanuts which are technically not a nut, but a legume) and shellfish. We are also fortunate that he has never had a severe anaphylactic reaction but that doesn’t mean that we can ever be unprepared. [Read more…]

Saving Money by Bringing Food and Drinks to Disney

In all the Disney research we did for our first trip, we decided it would be smart to somehow bring some food and drink items with us so we wouldn’t be tempted to spend so much at the parks. The plan was simple: eat healthier and save time and money by having cereal in the room for breakfast, and carrying our own snacks and drinks with us in the parks. For a seven night, eight day trip it seemed we would need a lot of cereal, snacks, and drinks. I went to BJ’s and bought economy size boxes of granola bars, fruit gummies, single serving cereal boxes and a case of Powerade. We were able to pack some in our luggage, but the majority we had shipped to our resort. Unfortunately, this plan didn’t work out as well as we had hoped…

[Read more…]