Welcome to DisneyBizJournal.com - News, Analysis and Reviews of the Disney Entertainment Business!

Brought to fans, investors, entrepreneurs, executives, teachers, professors, and students by columnist, economist, novelist, reviewer, podcaster, business reporter and speaker Ray Keating

Friday, September 24, 2021

Favreau on Calling the Shots

Daily Dose of Disney with Ray Keating – Episode #152: Favreau on Calling the Shots – Are you like director Jon Favreau? Do you want to call the shots?


The “Daily Dose of Disney with Ray Keating” podcast serves up a Disney or Disney-related quote each day, with DisneyBizJournal’s Ray Keating offering brief, additional thoughts on how each dose ties in to life, career, business, entrepreneurship, creativity, storytelling, work, or just plain fun.

Disney Springs Offers Unique Food Truck for Limited Time

 by Beth Keating

News

DisneyBizJournal.com

September 24, 2021

 

While you might have a specific vision in your mind of what Disney Springs looks like at any given time, Disney does try to mix things up, bringing in new music, changing up artwork and displays, and offering rotating theming for guests’ enjoyment.  

 


Right now, Disney Springs is themed to “Together We Are Magia,” celebrating “Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month” with specialty shopping, unique food offerings, special events, and high-energy live performance music. Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month runs through October 15, and guests will have the opportunity to explore the various cultural celebrations throughout the Disney theme parks and resorts.

 

One of the interesting spots you might want to check out before the theming changes is a limited-time Disney Springs food truck from Cilantro Urban Eatery.  On the day we were there, the bright green truck was located at the base of the orange garage stairs near the AMC Theater, rather than near the food truck courtyard.  

 

Menu specialties at this Latin-street food oriented food truck are from half a dozen different countries. Several rice bowls are on the slate, including Burrito Boricua featuring roasted shredded pork ($13, Puerto Rico); Burrito Pabellón with shredded flank steak ($13,Venezuela); a Veggie-rrito vegetarian-vegan rice bowl ($12); and a Chicken Awesome-rrito seasoned chicken rice bowl ($12).  A Cuban Quesadilla with roast pork ($12), and Cochinita Bibil Tacos from Mexico with Yucatan-style achiote marinated pork ($10) round out the menu offerings.  

 

Looking for dessert?  Try the Besitos de Coco, Latin coconut macaroons ($4).

 



Live musical performances include La Calle, a Latin Pop band offering up an interactive “danceable show;” Nicholas Marks, known as the “Jimi Hendrix” of Flamenco music, who blends American pop with Spanish beats and rhythms; and DJ Lu-S.

 

A number of the Disney Springs restaurants have limited time offerings in celebration of Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month, including a cherry mousse and vanilla chiffon with Bailey’s cream Tres Leches dessert at Amorette’s Patisserie by pastry cook Alex Cabrera; Tostones with marinated shrimp and pulled chicken at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar from sous chef Oscar Prieto; Chicken Pinchos with mojo, cilantro, sweet plantains, red beans and coconut rice at the Polite PigFlan de Queso with cheesecake flan, guayaba-piloncillo caramel, guava paste and fresh oranges at Frontera Cocina by Puerto Rican executive chef Christian Torres; Gambas Zahara, a shrimp dish at Jaleo that is a favorite of general manager Mario Bernal that is prepared tableside; and a Tripleta Burger with ham, pork belly and potato sticks by chef assistant Jose Rodriguez at D-Luxe Burger.

 

Interested in checking out the shows and offerings? Head to the Disney Springs Events Calendar for more information, or to the Disney Parks Blog for more on the Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month activities located around the Disney parks and resorts.

 

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Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Darth Vader, the Dark Side and Business

Daily Dose of Disney with Ray Keating – Episode #151: Darth Vader, the Dark Side and Business – Darth Vader offers an insight on human nature, life and business that needs remembering.


The “Daily Dose of Disney with Ray Keating” podcast serves up a Disney or Disney-related quote each day, with DisneyBizJournal’s Ray Keating offering brief, additional thoughts on how each dose ties in to life, career, business, entrepreneurship, creativity, storytelling, work, or just plain fun.

“Candlelight Processional” Returning to Disney World This Holiday Season

 by Beth Keating

News/Commentary

DisneyBizJournal.com

September 23, 2021

 

Many years ago, our family celebrated the start of the holiday season with a trip to Disney World, with a night at “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.” It was a festive evening, filled with falling “snoap” at the Magic Kingdom, hugs and visits with beloved characters in holiday costumes (imagine that??), and all the Christmas cookies you could eat. Wooden soldiers paraded down Main Street alongside dancing gingerbread men, and Santa himself made his appearance. It was a gloriously exciting evening, especially for the preschooler we had in tow.

 

And while that might have been an enchanting way for our family to ring in the start of the holidays, there was an even more meaningful event still to come. Several days later, we attended our first “Candlelight Processional,” a moving nod to the sacredness of the reason for the holiday, and a fitting way to give meaning to the season. 


Courtesy of the Walt Disney World website


Our first celebrity narrator was actor Edward James Olmos of Miami Vice and Battlestar Galactica fame, but in years since, we’ve also been back to hear actor Gary Sinise, among others, bring their own renditions of the nativity story to life.  It was a treasured way to kick-off the holidays for our family. 

 

Last year, the Covid-19 pandemic silenced the annual tradition at Disney World, but this week, Disney Parks Blog announced that the decades long event will be returning to EPCOT as part of the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays. The 2021 Festival will run November 26 – December 30.

 

The “Candlelight Processional” has been around for more than 60 years, beginning first at Disneyland in California in 1958, making its way to the East Coast and Disney World in 1971. The Processional started at the Magic Kingdom, but moved over to the America Gardens Theatre at EPCOT in 1994. 

 

The “Candlelight Processional” is a production of epic proportions, with a massed choir comprised of cast members (and, some years, visiting choirs), a live 50-piece orchestra, and a celebrity narrator offering a retelling of the traditional Christmas story, accompanied by the spectacular music. Unfortunately, because of COVID precautions, this year’s production will not feature visiting choirs. Disney will release the list of celebrity narrators as soon as the schedule is confirmed.

 

While the Processional is free to park guests, seating is first come, first seated for each of the performances.  Special dining packages will be available, however, with reserved seating for the show. Packages with both lunch and dinner options will include an appetizer, entrée and dessert, or one full buffet (depending on the restaurant), along with a non-alcoholic beverage. 

 

More information about the Candlelight Processional is available on the Disney World website.

 

__________

 

Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

150th Episode of the Daily Dose of Disney Podcast - Wide Appeal of Walt Disney



Hey, we just published the 150th episode of the “Daily Dose of Disney Podcast with Ray Keating.” Check out the latest episode – “The Wide Appeal of Walt Disney” – and the previous 149 episodes. And make sure that you tune in for each new episode wherever you listen to podcasts!


The “Daily Dose of Disney with Ray Keating” podcast serves up a Disney or Disney-related quote each day, with DisneyBizJournal’s Ray Keating offering brief, additional thoughts on how each dose ties in to life, career, business, entrepreneurship, creativity, storytelling, work, or just plain fun.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Il Mulino at Disney’s Swan A Good Choice for Magical Dining

 by Beth Keating

News

DisneyBizJournal.com

September 20, 2021

 

For years, we came to Orlando for our Disney vacation in late August, and it always seemed that we missed Orlando’s “Magical Dining” event by just a few days. It was disappointing because it looked like such an interesting array of local restaurants that were participating in the annual restaurant fest, and at prices that would certainly encourage us to try new places.



Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining runs from August 27 through October 3 this year, its 16th year of serving up meals.  Each three-course, prix-fixe dinner is just $37 per person at many of Orlando’s most acclaimed restaurants. If that price isn’t enough to entice you, $1.00 from each meal served supports Pathlight HOME and IDignity, two local organizations helping to combat homelessness in Central Florida.   

 

So, we’ve often wanted to branch out and try some of the local restaurants while we were in the area, and Magical Dining month seemed like a good excuse to do so.  But you know how it is when you are staying on property… the Parks beckon, making it hard to drag yourself off property to eat.  This year, though, we combined a Magical Dining experience with a Park-adjacent visit – we went to Il Mulino New York Trattoria at the Walt Disney World Swan Resort.  There are nearly a dozen “Disney” restaurants participating in the Magical Dining event, mostly at Disney Springs.

 

Il Mulino’s flagship New York location has been voted the #1 Italian restaurant in New York City for two decades by Zagat.  With that as its recommendation, we made reservations on a recent weekend night for a leisurely meal at the Florida site.  No one is rushing the experience at Il Mulino, and it isn’t because the wait staff is slow.  Rather, the restaurant was a hive of activity, but the meal itself was paced for the signature dining experience that it is.  (Be forewarned that there is a dress code.)  

 

For those unfamiliar with the Magical Dining experience, you are given a special, trimmed down dining menu, showcasing some of the restaurant’s best dishes, in exchange for the special prix-fixe cost.  Our menu at Il Mulino included a choice from three selections in each of the appetizer, entrée and dessert categories.  



Our jovial waiter introduced himself with a bread basket containing rustic slices of bread, but more importantly, yummy focaccia-style squares with roasted tomatoes that everyone agreed was the better of the two breads, though you were welcome to slather your more rustic-style bread with the complimentary eggplant tapenade, top it with the accompanying salami slices, or dip it in a lovely olive oil.  



For our appetizers, our group chose two of the three selections (there was also a Caesar salad option that we did not try).  The Polpette al Forno, a set of three Italian meatballs in a tomato basil sauce with parmesan cheese, was delicious.  The red sauce was a traditional, yet light, Italian sauce with a hint of garlic that delighted both diners who tried it, despite the fact that one diner prefers a sweeter sauce, and one prefers a more traditional Italian-grandma sauce.  That’s pretty good if you can make both ends of the spectrum happy!  The other appetizer selected was the Calamari Fritti, lightly fried calamari in a spicy marinara sauce that brought just a touch of heat.  Both diners agreed that this was perfectly done calamari, tender with a light batter, and not at all chewy, which calamari all too often tends to be



The three main course options included a mushroom rigatoni, a salmon, and a chicken fra Diavolo.  Our table opted for the sautéed salmon in garlic and olive oil with a spicy wild mushroom vegetable top dressing, and the Pollo fra Diavolo, a boneless chicken with Italian sausage, zucchini and onion in a spicy red sauce.  Both dishes had quite the kick to them, a welcome addition to the chicken fra Diavolo, but completely unexpected in the salmon dish.  The salmon itself was perfectly done, a lightly crispy outer layer over a moist and flaky interior.  Would that all restaurants perfected their salmon this way!  The salmon perched on a lightly sautéed bed of broccoli rabe, and was dressed with a top garnish of spicy mushroom and peppers. While it was a nice offset to the salmon, which had a more subtle flavor, the heat to the vegetable topping was unexpected, so consider yourself warned! 



On the flip side, the heat was totally welcome in the Pollo fra Diavolo, which was served with chunks of sweet sausage, broccoli and onions, mingling in a red sauce.  While Disney often labels things “spicy,” that is a relative term by Disney’s often-toned down standards that need to make a dish more palatable to a wider range of audiences.  It’s a bit of culinary false advertising on Disney’s part, if you will. This dish, however, was a gift in that it didn’t hold back.  It said spicy, and spicy it was.  One of our diners said they wished “spicy” always came with this level of heat at Disney, and they thoroughly enjoyed their entrée.



The Magical Dining dessert offerings included a flourless chocolate cake, tiramisu, and gelato. 


The Torta al Cioccolati, the flourless chocolate cake served with a whipped cream zabaglione, was a dense, dark chocolate cake that was rich without being overly sweet. The Tiramisu, espresso soaked lady fingers with mascarpone cheese mousse and cocoa that gave the overall dish a more chocolate appearance than traditional tiramisu, was the lightest tiramisu we’d ever eaten.  Topped with mounds of chocolate curls, it was impossible to finish this enormous portion of chocolate soaked goodness. 



As if we hadn’t already indulged enough, our waiter came to the table at the end of our meal to present us with a small glass of complimentary limoncello, warning ahead of time that it was “sweet and strong,” but would be a tasty digestive aide at the end of a very filling meal.

 

Orlando’s Magical Dining event runs until October 3.  (Head to Visit Orlando for the complete list of more than 90 participating restaurants.). If the other restaurants joining in this year are as fantastic as Il Mulino, we will certainly be heading out to explore another new venue.  And for sure, Il Mulino has made it onto the list of restaurants we will be revisiting in the future at Disney as well. Our thanks to our waiter and the Il Mulino chefs for a “magical” evening.

 

__________

 

Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Sanaa Checks All the Boxes for a Top Walt Disney World Restaurant

 by Ray Keating

Review

DisneyBizJournal.com

September 18, 2021

 

Enjoy a delicious meal while looking out large windows at assorted wildlife, including giraffes and zebras, on the Sunset Savanna. Yes, Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village checks off all of the boxes for a great dining experience, that is, food, service, atmosphere and location.



Let’s start with location. Whether staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge or simply visiting to stroll around and take it all in, this is a magnificent resort. There are four savannas, home to some 200 hoofed animals and birds, according to the resort’s website.  As a resort that is also a bit off the beaten path, the crowd level is often lower, making for a relaxing dining experience. It’s possible to wander the pathways along the savannas on your way to the restaurant, watching the four-legged residents, and only run into a few other guests along the way.

 

Location? Check.

 

And what about the atmosphere? Well, how can you beat looking out at African wildlife roaming about while eating African and Indian cuisine? For good measure, the resort at Animal Kingdom Lodge houses one of the largest collections of African art in the U.S.  The décor and theming of the restaurant ties in seamlessly with the food and view. 

 

Atmosphere? Check.

 

How about the service? It’s hard to have a bad experience at Walt Disney World in terms of customer service. But the wait staff at Sanaa were particularly friendly and engaging, exhibiting extensive knowledge of the menu and having nice senses of humor. 

 

Service? Check.



And now we get to the bottom line. How is the food? In one word: Excellent.

 

Before going to Sanaa for the first time, everyone we spoke to said that the Indian-style Bread Service appetizer cannot be missed. Five breads – Traditional Naan, Garlic-Ginger Naan, Spiced Naan, Onion Kulcha, or Paneer Paratha – are ready to be torn apart and then await various additions. That is, each tray offers nine accompaniments – Cucumber Raita, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Mango Chutney, Tomato-Date Jam, Tamarind Chutney, Coriander Chutney, Garlic Pickle, Red Chile Sambal, or Spicy Jalapeño-Lime Pickle – ranging and arranged from sweet to spicy-hot. Depending on your preferences and tastebuds, everyone will have certain favorites in terms of both the breads and accompaniments. Half the fun is trying all of the combinations, and discovering which you like best. The Indian-style Bread Service ranks as an adventurous appetizer to begin one’s meal, and indeed, it shouldn’t be missed.



As for the entrée, the Potjie Inspired option offers three main alternatives – Goan Seafood Curry, Butter Chicken, or Braised Beef. Each one is quite tasty, but the beef ranks as a star with a light pot-roast-like taste, and you could choose Chickpea Wat, Aloo Masala, or Cilantro-Coconut vegetables as a side.  We chose the Cilantro-Coconut vegetables, and our server suggested that we flip our accompanying scented Basmati Rice out of its individual serve bowl and onto our plate, and spoon our protein and coconut veggies over the top. 

 

And on the dessert front, the Kheer – a coconut-rice pudding with cashew streusel – was quite satisfying, and offered varying textures. It’s also an excellent plant-based option for diners choosing that direction. The African Triple Chocolate Mousse, with Nyangbo Dark Chocolate from Ghana, Tanariva Milk Chocolate from Madagascar, and Orelys Blond Chocolate, was deliciously feather light and creamy.



Finally, I have to mention one cocktail – the Kande Coconut Cooler. Why? Because with vanilla ice cream and orange juice, along with coconut and rum, it’s like a ramped-up creamsicle. And I’m always up for a creamsicle.

 

Food? Check.

 

Sanaa ranks in the top tier of restaurants in Walt Disney World, one that this diner will not mind returning to time and again.

 

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Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels and assorted nonfiction books. Have Ray Keating speak your group, business, school, church, or organization. Email him at raykeating@keatingreports.com.

 

The views expressed here are his own – after all, no one else should be held responsible for this stuff, right?

 

Keating has three new books out. Vatican Shadows: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel is the 13ththriller/mystery in the Pastor Stephen Grant series. Get the paperback or Kindle edition at Amazon, or signed books at www.raykeatingonline.comPast Lives: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story is the 14th book in the series. Again, get the paperback or Kindle edition at Amazon, or signed book at www.raykeatingonline.com. And order the 15th book in the series What’s Lost? A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story – grab it at Amazon.com or signed editions at www.raykeatingonline.com

 

Also, check out Ray’s podcasts – the Daily Dose of DisneyFree Enterprise in Three Minutes, and the PRESS CLUB C Podcast.

 

You also can order his book Behind Enemy Lines: Conservative Communiques from Left-Wing New York  from Amazon or signed books  at RayKeatingOnline.com. His other recent nonfiction book is Free Trade Rocks! 10 Points on International Trade Everyone Should Know

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Daily Dose of Disney - Politics, Marvel, and Doubts


Daily Dose of Disney with Ray Keating – Episode #142: Walt, Roy and Values, Not Politics – Values matters to Walt and Roy O. Disney when it comes to business. But don’t confuse values with politics. 

 

Daily Dose of Disney with Ray Keating – Episode #143: Iger and the Marvel Acquisition – Disney’s Marvel purchase showed benefits of both passion and sober analysis. Bob Iger was no fan boy, but he saw the potential.

 

Daily Dose of Disney with Ray Keating – Episode #144: Roy Disney and Acknowledging Doubts – Roy O. Disney put off retiring to see his brother’s dream fulfilled, even amidst doubts.

 

The “Daily Dose of Disney with Ray Keating” podcast serves up a Disney or Disney-related quote each day, with DisneyBizJournal’s Ray Keating offering brief, additional thoughts on how each dose ties in to life, career, business, entrepreneurship, creativity, storytelling, work, or just plain fun.

Trattoria al Forno: Lively, Friendly and Nice Italian Food

 by Ray Keating

Review

DisneyBizJournal.com

September 16, 2021

 

Does Trattoria al Forno complete the Disney BoardWalk experience?

 

Hailing for most of my life from New York, I’m guilty of assuming that, unless I’m in Italy, Italian food outside of the New York City metro area is not going to measure up. You’ve heard my ilk before, such as claiming “Pizza outside New York isn’t pizza.” And, well, it tends not to be.



At the same time, I have long enjoyed Disney’s BoardWalk Inn Resort and entertainment area. That’s been the case since my wife and I rented a Surrey bike years ago, and put our young son in the front seat for little tikes. And I appreciate the turn-of-the-century, Atlantic City waterfront feel.

 

So, could I hit on a combo of place and food, specifically, the BoardWalk and good Italian cuisine? The answer with Trattoria al Forno is: Yes, absolutely!

 

Prior to our visit, there was some skepticism after hearing mixed reviews of the restaurant. But after experiencing Trattoria al Forno’s food and ambiance, I was left bewildered by such takes. 



The Trattoria’s open kitchen concept is welcoming, and provided a lively backdrop to the room. The service was attentive and friendly. And yes, the food is excellent.

 

The meal started off with lovely small loaves of warm ciabatta with olive oil and a tasty tapenade. While the tapenade was a touch on the salty side, the bread was absolutely heavenly dipped in the olive oil, but was even better with what was to come.



We had ordered the Coastal Mussels appetizer ($18.00), which was quite good – with flavorful and tender mussels, and a nice small kick of red pepper. The pesto cream sauce worked magic on its own, and our waitress thoughtfully brought extra loaves of that wonderful bread for sopping up the sauce. We could have eaten a bowl of the pesto sauce all on its own!

 

Also, the Insalata Caprese ($13.00) ranked as a delightful appetizer. The house-made burrata was chilled and creamy, served on a bed of thick, ripe slices of tomato, with a sprinkling of heirloom tomatoes as well. The basil leaves were picture perfect, dark green and strongly flavored, with a light dressing of olive oil to pull it all together.

 


In terms of entrees, the big star with our group was the Veal Osso Buco ($34.00). It came on a bed of polenta, which worked well. The thick gravy nicely complemented the fall-off-the-bone veal. Delicious.

 

As for the Parmigiana di Pollo ($26.00), the chicken breast was thicker than typical for a chicken parmigiana dish, and was served over a bed of gnocchi. While a traditional pasta would have been preferable with the parm, the gnocchi base beneath the chicken was a bit of a culinary twist, and it still worked. 



The only small disappointment during our meal was Grilled Swordfish Salmoriglio ($32.00), as the fish was slightly overdone and wasn’t as flavorful as expected.

 

But make no mistake, this was a superb dinner.

 

While too full for dessert, our party returned to strolling the Boardwalk, and catching the fireworks far off in the distance from the Magic Kingdom and from EPCOT, which were much closer. In fact, the view from the EPCOT bridge turned out to be ideal. 

 

Good food at Trattoria al Forno, the BoardWalk Resort and fireworks make for a marvelous Walt Disney World night.

 

__________

 

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels and assorted nonfiction books. Have Ray Keating speak your group, business, school, church, or organization. Email him at raykeating@keatingreports.com.

 

The views expressed here are his own – after all, no one else should be held responsible for this stuff, right?

 

Keating has three new books out. Vatican Shadows: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel is the 13ththriller/mystery in the Pastor Stephen Grant series. Get the paperback or Kindle edition at Amazon, or signed books at www.raykeatingonline.comPast Lives: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story is the 14th book in the series. Again, get the paperback or Kindle edition at Amazon, or signed book at www.raykeatingonline.com. And order the 15th book in the series What’s Lost? A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story – grab it at Amazon.com or signed editions at www.raykeatingonline.com

 

Also, check out Ray’s podcasts – the Daily Dose of DisneyFree Enterprise in Three Minutes, and the PRESS CLUB C Podcast.

 

You also can order his book Behind Enemy Lines: Conservative Communiques from Left-Wing New York  from Amazon or signed books  at RayKeatingOnline.com. His other recent nonfiction book is Free Trade Rocks! 10 Points on International Trade Everyone Should Know

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Wine Bar George: Totally Approachable for Non-Wine Connoisseurs

 by Beth Keating

Review

DisneyBizJournal.com

September 14, 2021

 

We had family in town recently, and they had been dying to try Wine Bar George.   Since only half of our group consisted of wine drinkers, with a few not even of drinking age, we weren’t sure it was the best selection for us for the evening. We’d always thought of it as more of a “date night” destination. And, as folks who don’t drink wine all that frequently, we weren’t even sure we were up to the challenge of a wine-centric eatery. But since they made the reservations, we bowed to their decision, and off we went.  



And, as it turned out, we were very glad we did. Wine Bar George lived up to the hype.  For example, it recently ranked as the 4th best restaurant to eat at Disney Springs, according to the readers at AllEars.net. (See “The BEST RATED Restaurant in Disney Springs” August 16, 2021.)  While it surely is a date night locale, plenty of families with kids were enjoying the ambience as well, and more than a few groups of friends were gathered on this particular summer night.

 

The setting was relaxing, with our table located on the second floor, where we were able to watch the activity going on at the street level below, and there was certainly no pressure to be “wine aficionados.”   

 

You can order wine at the restaurant by the bottle, glass or even the ounce, if you just want to try a particular wine, and one of our diners chose a wine flight to sample. After selecting a flight, he inquired about one of the wines in particular.  This was the point at which we realized that Wine Bar George was truly a different kind of experience.  Instead of just bringing the pre-selected wine flight, our waiter took the time to explain the various wines in the flight, offered some suggestions, and made his own adjustments to the wine list to accommodate preferences.  He even offered up a few of his favorites, along with the backgrounds and stories behind them. What we ended up with was a completely personalized and well-curated wine flight.  What a marvelous encounter!



Some of our other diners chose the Frozcato, made with pineapple Dole Whip... this is Disney after all!   It was ice cold, creamy, and a lovely summertime drink, a tasty way to enjoy a hot summer evening for the non-wine drinkers in the group.

 

Another way that Wine Bar George is a bit different from other restaurants is that there aren’t many entrées… at least not in the traditional sense.  The menu is made up predominantly of small plates, meant for sharing while you are sipping your way through an evening with friends.  We tried a variety of enjoyable selections, and would indeed come back again to try a few of the others, and repeat one or two of the ones we’d feasted on that night.

 

The Crispy Mac and Cheese Bites were a big hit.  We should have ordered more of those excellent little snacks, they disappeared so quickly!  We also tried the House-Made Hummus, a smooth, delicately spiced blend.

 

The real fun, though, came with the Saganaki on Fire.... a flaming plate of cheese! What's not to like?  Our waiter brought the flaming plate tableside, dowsing the flames with a squeeze of lemon, leaving behind a gooey, melty plate of goodness to scoop onto the soft ovals of crostini. That dish alone was worth the trip!



One of our diners also ordered the house made meatballs, which were served on a bed of triple cheese polenta, a nice offset to the 3 large, somewhat dense tomato sauce topped meatballs. The forkful of the polenta with a bite of meatball on the end of the fork was a nice combination.

 

In addition to our small plates, several of the fish-loving diners in our group branched out and split the grilled whole Greek Sea Bass, one of four entrées on the menu.  (It was meant to serve 2-4.) While the sea bass itself was delicious – light, tender and done to perfection – the dish was also part theater, as our very talented waiter cheerfully deboned and served the fish tableside for us, all the while regaling us with stories.

 

We left the restaurant stuffed, despite the fact that we had ordered mostly a handful of "small plates" for our group of 6.

 

Wine Bar George is a pricey evening, to be sure, but the food is well worth the visit, and the service and attention is amongst the finest we've had in Disney.   It is mostly small plates for sharing though, with only a few larger entrées (also meant to be shared) on the docket.  With so many delicious small bites to share, you probably won't notice that you didn't order an entrée of your own.  Go, and have a relaxing evening with your friends or family.  

 

__________

 

Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!