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Menu Monday: When to Expand the Palate and When to Stick with Tradition

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From Casey’s Corner

We all have foods that take us to our happy place.

Better yet, we all have foods in our happy place that remind us we are there.

Best of all, we all have Disney dining favorites in the Happiest Place on Earth that we love to eat – over and over and over again.

For me, it is the Barbecue Slaw Dog at Casey’s Corner in Magic Kingdom park. Ever since I heard about the hot dog thanks to the Disney Food Blog, I have been getting it on every trip – four vacations and counting!

But when is it time to let that delicious habit pass, and replace it with something else that’s delicious? Is it ever okay? It depends on the situation. Let’s think this over together.

When to Expand the Palate

A Reminder of Home

Has your mother ever announced her dinner preparations to you, and you almost did a somersault because you were so excited to eat? That happens to me whenever my mother announces “chicken and dumplings!”

If I ever went into a Disney restaurant and found “chicken and dumplings” on the menu, I would likely try it out. Disney has the best chance of using their (most of the time) culinary expertise to re-create my favorite home-cooked dish of all time into something I would really enjoy. I would at least give it a shot.

A Strong Sense of Smell

It is easy to pass by a food cart if there is no smell wafting from it. But Disney tries hard to make sure that every table-service restaurant, counter-service location, and food cart stand has a variety of smells attacking our sense at all times. And sometimes those smells are too irresistible to pass up.

Have you ever bought a bucket of popcorn when you weren’t hungry, simply because you smelled it? I did that when I ate a turkey leg for the first time. I wasn’t planning on getting a turkey leg, but when I passed the Fife and Drum Tavern in Epcot, I couldn’t resist. It was worth the try, but I doubt I’ll ever get one again just for myself. (Those things need to be shared!)

CandyA Picture on a Blog

I don’t even need to be in Walt Disney World to start making my list of new foods to try on my next trip! All I do is view the Disney blogs, read the reviews, salivate at the pictures, and write the food down on my large “Things To Eat” list.

An experimental treat I tried was the make-your-own-snack at Goofy’s Candy Company in Downtown Disney. If I hadn’t read the amazing review and seen the pictures, I would never have thought to make my amazing treat. I’m so glad that I did!

The Chicken-and-Waffle Sandwich at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments was another Internet food review that I tried and loved. I loved it so much, I recommended it to a friend of mine a few months ago, and she really liked it too!

I know that sometimes the trend of taking a photo of your food is overdone, but I feel that is never the case at Walt Disney World. There are too many amazing snacks and foods to eat that people might not notice until they see it online!

Chicken WaffleIn my upcoming trip, I’m excited to try the new Waffle Fries at the Golden Oak Outpost thanks to this article.

When to Stick with Tradition

A Family Member or Friend Tries Instead

Is there something on the menu catching your eye, but you can’t possibly betray your mainstay dish? Hopefully you brought a friend or family member along that you can needle into getting it themselves!

I love eating the Mickey Premium Bar on every trip (ear first!). My friend on the trip chose the Mickey Ice Cream Sandwich. I know it’s not a fancy new treat at Walt Disney World, but I’d never eaten it before…since I was always eating the Mickey Premium Bar! She let me try some of hers out of the goodness of her heart, and I still got to have my usual frozen treat!

A Favorite Food…OF ALL TIME

Is the Barbecue Slaw Dog one of my favorite foods of all time? It’s pretty up there. Some people might be annoyed by the large bun, but I find that bun a great way to hold up the massive pile of pork and sauce on the top! If I see a hot dog advertised anywhere else in the world with barbecued pork and coleslaw on the top, I will buy it. It is a favorite splurge of mine, especially at Magic Kingdom park!

Eventually we upgraded to the Dole Whip Float – equally amazing!

Some people feel that way about sushi, and they find delicious options all over the place in the resort. Will they find their favorite sushi of all time? Maybe. If they do, I would guess they would get sushi every single trip!

A Strong Memory

Many of us went to the Disney Parks as a child, and we had foods at that time which we loved. I personally don’t have any strong memories of childhood foods at Walt Disney World, but when I made my triumphant return to the resort after a long hiatus, I tried a Dole Whip. How amazing is that snack?!

Dole Whip reminds me of two things: the WDW Today podcast and one of my best friends, who also listens to that podcast. She and I hatched the idea of getting to Walt Disney World in 2010 after listening to a bunch of WDW Today podcasts, and we knew that we would have to try one of Mike Scopa’s favorite foods: the Dole Whip. It was definitely an amazing find, and I make sure to get to Aloha Isle every trip, just to remind myself of that first amazing vacation that started with a friend and a podcast!


Do you have a memory connected to a favorite Disney treat? What new foods have you tried at the Disney Parks and loved? When have you tried something new and immediately wished you’d stuck with your normal choice? Do you have any other reasons to stick with tradition or expand the palate? Comment below!

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Claire Nat

I've been enjoying Walt Disney World since my Nana pushed my sister's and my strollers back in the late 1980s. I enjoy my day job here in the Denver area as a teacher and music coordinator at our church. I love music, reading, Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Michigan sports!

10 thoughts on “Menu Monday: When to Expand the Palate and When to Stick with Tradition

  • stephanie w.

    I actually have a food to try list and the chicken waffle sandwich is on there!. I must get a dole whip every time I go to WDW because of childhood memories at Disneyland. It was the one treat my mom would ever let us get. It is delicious and reminds me of her. I think a new face is the corn dog bites at Casey’s Corner. Two years later and I am still thinking about them.

    • My friend loved the corn dog bites when she got them, and I got to try them off of her! I love when foods remind people of family or friends. It brings all the warm fuzzies!

  • Krissy

    Dole Whip most definitely takes me to my happy place. It’s a tradition that on the first day/night of our trip we head to the Poly for Dole Whip (and the leis and pin trading, of course). This started because we didn’t always visit the parks if we arrived late in the day, but we needed to get that instant Disney fix! (91 days and I can have it again!)
    As far as other Disney food, my experience on this upcoming December trip will be very different than any other visit for me because I just found out over the summer that I have a gluten intolerance. I have been gluten free for two months now, and it’s making my Disney planning more complicated than previous trips. I’m researching a TON! I want to know what places (on the DDP) have the best meals, snacks, etc that I can eat. I don’t want to be in the park with my family and not know what places have good options for me. I know Disney is AMAZING at accommodating for any food allergy, but I would like to know what my options are before arriving.
    The bright side is that it’s giving us a chance to try some different TS locations and it’s nice to find some “new” information, since we’re all pros at everything WDW!

    • I once heard that you can buy a Dole Whip mix for an ice cream machine. Never tried it, but it was always really tempting to see if it was real!
      As for your gluten-intolerance, AllEars.net has some great posts on gluten-free offerings at restaurants, and I also found a list of snacks on AllergyFreeMouse.com if you think those would help! Maybe you’ve already done the Google search and found these like I did, but it’s always nice to provide suggestions! Hope your trip is great and everything works out!

  • Gillian

    I love DFB and I’m glad I’m not the only one with a “To Eat” list! In fact, I think the most challenging part of my Disney vacations is figuring out just how I can eat all the things I want to in that amount of time because you have to make room for favourites and new finds too! I have no less than four things I have to eat at MNSSHP alone (thank goodness I have a guy to share with!). Ah, Dole whips; I don’t even like pineapple, but I ate two of ’em last trip. Even the juice in the float is heavenly to me. My guy is with you on the slaw dog, though I wasn’t as much of a fan. Imagine his delight when I scraped it all off and let him have the toppings for himself! :p

    • I constantly have to remind myself that I will eventually get to WDW again, and I don’t have to eat all the snacks on the same trip! It’s hard. My first MNSSHP is coming up, and I’m ready to eat as much as possible too!

  • Bobaloo000

    We had the cupcakes in the cup in August. It’s high on my list for my December trip now as well. It’s a good thing there are no calories in the food at Disney. Gotta love the magic!

    • I’ve heard the “no calorie” talk from multiple people – that must mean it’s true!
      I also really love the cupcakes. I can’t believe I didn’t mention them! The ones with chocolate filling are the best!

      • bobaloo000

        Yes, I agree the cupcakes are good. I like the chocalate/peanut butter one in the Studio’s the best. I’m talking about the cake in a cup (I mistakingly called it a cupcake in a cup) found currently only at the Cheshire Cafe. Here is a review from the Disney Food Blog: http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2014/03/14/review-white-chocolate-rabbit-and-queen-of-hearts-gourmet-cake-cups-at-cheshire-cafe/

        If you have not tried these you really should on your next visit. I liked the Queen of Hearts the best but the Mad Hatter was not far behind.

      • …Wow. Just read the article. That is the most incredible thing I have ever seen in my life. I will definitely be getting this the next time I’m there – THANK YOU.

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