Posts filed under ‘Epcot’

My Latest Kosher Disney Experience: Biergarten – Part II

We arrived late Thursday night/ early Friday morning at the Boardwalk, and after waking in the morning I sent my family to the Studios while I pick up my race packet at Wide World of Sports. As the day came to an end, my kids & I took a Friendship boat back to our room while my wife was finishing up her pre-Shabbat spa experience at Mandara across Crescent Lake. I knew that this would be the last time to secure the kosher meals, since the actual 24-hour mark would take place during a time I would no longer be able to call it in.

Usually, I would call the Dining line to get this done, but since I was staying on the Concierge Level, I figured I would give this Concierge perk a whirl. I sent the kids to the lounge for some Sprite while I sat at the Concierge desk and placed my orders with the Cast Member. She called Disney Dining herself with me present just to make sure we got it right. All seemed set and we entered Shabbat with the only concern in my mind being whether I’d make it through all 26 miles on Sunday.

(On a side note, while this Concierge Cast Member was friendly and helpful for this task, she was completely the opposite when we brought up the blaring horns of the Friendship boats outside our window into the late Extra Magic Hours at Epcot. Other CM’s were very helpful, but she made it seem like we were deranged for not enjoying the privilege of listening to that pleasantly loud sound as our children lay awake well past their bedtime.)

Fast forward to Marathon Sunday: Both my friend and I finish the marathon in good time and running to the finish line. After eating lunch with my family in Epcot – microwaved ziti & eggplant parm from our room with soda from Club Cool while sitting at the outdoor tables at Fountain View – I went back to the room to shower & change and meet back in World Showcase.

However, when I got to the room, I had a surprise voice mail on my phone…

“Hi, Mr. Haller, this is the Chef at Biergarten. I understand you require eight kosher meals. We need to know what your food requests are so that we can prepare the meal for you on time. Please give me a call back at…”

I got this message at 3 pm – only three hours before the ADR.

What the heck happened to the orders I placed? If I call it in now, will it be too late? They say they usually need many hours to thaw the meals. If it wont work out, will we be able to get a refund? If it will work out, what do I tell him since I no longer have everyone’s orders?!

I called the Chef, and he was the most pleasant CM voice I encountered that trip. He assured me it wouldn’t be a problem – the 24 hours thing is an “exaggeration” of how much time they need. So, I gave him our orders to the best of my memory.

Crisis averted. But this experience taught me a few lessons:

1. While Disney requires 24 hours notice for kosher meals, the actual people preparing the food do not.
2. The differences in kosher menus given to me by the CM on the phone is a computer issue, not a dining establishment issue. (See previous blog post.) The Chef assured me that any restaurant in World Showcase that has kosher meals has access to the same kosher menus.
3. Make your kosher orders prior to 24 hours, but it may be good practice to call the dining location directly to confirm they got the orders.

So, after cleaning up and getting dressed for dinner, I walked back to World Showcase and, after taking in some attractions and enjoying the entertainment, we met our friends in Germany. We were seated approximately 10 minutes after arriving.

Next time, I’ll share the actual meal experience…

August 14, 2011 at 11:21 pm 8 comments

My Latest Kosher Disney Experience: Biergarten – Part I

Back in January 2011, I had a new kosher dining experience in Walt Disney World. Prior to this visit, the only kosher experiences I’ve had were counter service meals and character breakfast buffets. But this trip was different. This wasn’t just a bring-the-kiddies-to-watch-Dad-act-like-one-of-them trips. I’m running a marathon. My first marathon. A Disney marathon. This was unlike any trip I had taken before, and it deserved something different and special.

So, I decided that I was going to set up a post-race, celebratory dinner in Epcot.

Why Epcot? Is it because of the unique international culinary cuisine of World Showcase? Nope. The dining experience of World Showcase is fairly lost on the kosher park-hopper. (Don’t get me started on my rant about World Showcase changing from the international, multicultural attraction is was in the 1980’s to the “Food Court Around the World” it is today. Maybe for another day…) No, it was because my family and my running buddy’s family would be spending the day in Epcot after crossing the finish line, and location was king for this meal.

So, a few weeks prior to my trip, I called the Advanced Dining Reservation line for WDW to make a dinner reservation for two families – four adults and four kids. Since the cuisine doesn’t matter – table service kosher meals are all the same no matter the venue – I was most interested in having something to wow everyone, and the only attraction in a table service restaurant in Epcot I could think of is Chef Remy at Les Chefs de France. The Cast Member on the other end of the ADR line reminded me that Sundays is the rodent chef’s day off, so I no longer had any real preference as to where to plant ourselves for our “feast.”

However, when discussing our other options for dinner venue, something unexpected happened. The Cast Member started telling me the differences among the restaurants regarding the kosher menus. Differences? There’s a stash of kosher meals in a freezer and they thaw out what you order within 24 hours of your reservation (which is why kosher meals are the only meals in the parks that have a full penalty for cancelling within 24 hours). Why would there be differences? For example, she told me that while San Angel Inn in Mexico had the Honey Glazed Chicken, Ginger Glazed Salmon and Lasagna meals, Rose & Crown in the U.K. had those three meals plus Brisket of Beef. This made no sense to me, but I assumed it was a computer thing and not an actual food or restaurant issue (evidence would come later to prove my thinking correct). I decided not to force the issue and I’d play along.

I asked the helpful Cast Member, “Okay, which table service restaurant has the most options available for our kosher menu?”

The answer?

“Biergarten.”

You got it. Of all places, Germany was the place where kosher-eating Jews can have the widest selection of kosher meals. So, eight Jews were going to descend on the Bavarian Village in the Germany Pavilion and have glatt kosher meals served to them by Deutschstämmige servers while celebrating with the traditional Oktoberfest band. Insert your own comment about the irony.

And so the ADR was solidified. Dinner for eight at Biergarten in Epcot for our post-marathon celebration. However, I didn’t leave my orders for meals yet for two reasons:

1. I needed to get everyone’s requests.
2. Just in case I would need to cancel, I didn’t want to leave my credit card with Disney just yet.

All I would need to do is call in our orders at some point before the 24 prior mark and we’d be good to go.

Stay tuned…

August 2, 2011 at 10:48 pm 1 comment

Happy Chanukah to all!

Enjoy some Chanukah lovin’ from the Disney Parks. This is a performance by the Voices of Liberty. They are the resident acapella group at the American Adventure pavilion in World Showcase at Epcot.

Enjoy, and a happy Chanukah to all.

December 1, 2010 at 10:28 pm 1 comment


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