For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.

By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Category — q. Reviews

Dining at Disney’s Old Key West Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Old Key West Resort, see this.)


Dining at Disney’s Old Key West Resort includes a table service option, a bar, and two snack bars.

Olivia's Disney's Old Key West Resort from

Near the Hospitality House area you’ll find the table service restaurant at Disney’s Old Key West Resort, Olivia’s.

Olivia's Outside Disney's Old Key West Resort from

Outdoor seating is available too. The menu for Olivia’s is here.

Here’s the review of Olivia’s from our book The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020:

Bar Disney's Old Key West Resort from

Outside near the pool you’ll find a very small bar, the Gurgling Suitcase. The menu–appetizers and a few entrees– is here.

Right next to the bar is a small snack bar, one of two counter-service offerings here.

The menu for the snack bar is here.  The snack bar and bar are right next to the main Sandcastle pool, so of course serve them as well.

There’s no indoor seating for either the bar or the snack bar–just outdoor tables.

In addition, there’s another snack offering at the far end of the resort in the Turtle Pond pool area.

There’s not a lot to the menu here (an up-to-date menu and operating hours will be on Disney’s website here), but given the distance of the buildings at this end of Old Key West from the Hospitality House, it’s nice to have the option.

That’s it for dining at Disney’s Old Key West Resort.  A limited assortment, but understandable, given all the kitchens, but a bit awkward for anyone on the dining plan…or in a studio.


This review continues here!




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October 12, 2020   No Comments

Review: Regal Eagle Smokehouse in Epcot’s American Adventure Pavilion


The Regal Eagle Smokehouse opened in the American Adventure Pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase earlier this year.

It replaced the OK but uninteresting Liberty Inn with house-smoked meats and sauces highlighting a several of America’s different barbecue styles, and in so doing, fulfilled one of my wishes:

The moral here: keep your wishes small, and perhaps they will be granted.

Meat is the star at Regal Eagle Smokehouse, and is generally good, with the more expensive cuts—such as the ribs—being the weaker offerings.

The full menu is here,  and a good way to start is with the American Platter, letting you pick three different meats from among the options of Texas brisket, Kansas City chicken, Memphis pork ribs, North Carolina chopped pork, and South Carolina sausage.

There’s also a variety of sauces available separately at Regal Eagle Smokehouse, so you can either match with for example mustard sauce on the South Carolina sausage, or mix.

I had the chicken, ribs, pork butt, a side of baked beans with burnt ends, and the banana pudding. All but the ribs were quite good, and I also hear good things about the onion rings (cooked in batter, not from frozen rings), pickles, and s’mores brownie. Tom Corless’s crew has a review of every menu item here and I’m kinda surprised Josh has not yet published a similar review (at least that I can find), although he does address Regal Eagle Smokehouse in passing in his updated overview of the American Adventure Pavilion here.

On the walls, you’ll find a variety of Muppet’s stuff, as Sam Eagle is the sponsor of the Regal Eagle Smokehouse, but not enough for a special trip except for the most devoted of Muppets fans. Dining at Regal Eagle Smokehouse is also not worth a special trip, but is a great option for barbecue at Epcot, and a stronger offering than the old Liberty Inn.


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September 14, 2020   1 Comment

Review: Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway


Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in March 2020, in the space formerly occupied by The Great Movie Ride.

Since the parks re-opened, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway has been one of the most popular rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with only Rise of the Resistance being a higher priority. This makes sense, as it is an all-ages ride in a park with few such, and has some pretty appealing stars. And it’s silly and fun!

The concept of the ride is that guests are being transported into a cartoon via a train for which Goofy, taking a break from leading the worldwide COVID-19 response, is the engineer and conductor. Goofy being G, things get off-track pretty quickly, and the train cars split off into separate ride vehicles for the rest of the experience.

Most of the ride is spent passing through a variety of large, richly detailed sets that combine physical structures, audio-animatronics, and projection-mapped added visuals. The overall effect is astonishing, with rich details that will take many rides to fully see.

One exception is a waltz-conga scene which fits nothing else on the ride whatsoever but simply exists to take gleeful and whimsical advantage of the underlying technology of the ride vehicles.

The pre-show to the ride, which includes a brief Mickey short and a tour-de-force entry to the railroad station, has been suppressed for social distancing reasons.

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway has been seeing what today counts as long lines all day. The lowest-wait way to see it is at park open or just before park close.

Note that the Disney characters in Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway are based on the more recent Paul Rudish styles of these characters, not the more cuddly versions elsewhere in Walt Disney World.

If you or your party has not yet seen these, then a first stop to see Vacation Fun in the Mickey Shorts Theater is the right thing to do, to be introduced to the new styles.

This would work, of course, only if either you have a two day visit to the Studios, with Vacation Fun on day one and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway on day two, or if you plan to see Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway near park close and Vacation Fun earlier that day.


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September 6, 2020   1 Comment

Review: Vacation Fun in the Mickey Shorts Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios


The Mickey Shorts Theater opened in the space formerly occupied by many attractions—Sounds Dangerous my favorite among them—in Echo Lake near Indiana Jones in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in early 2020.

At the moment it is showing Vacation Fun, a set of excerpts from recent Mickey Mouse shorts such as Potatoland and Amore Motore, collected together into a reasonably coherent montage, with a new ending.

It’s fun, it’s air-conditioned, it’s a place to sit, and perhaps most importantly, for those who have not yet seen the “new” Mickey Mouse animation style, it’s a very helpful stop before going to Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

For such folks, seeing Vacation Fun first will keep them from possibly being jarred early at the Railway from the very different animation styles found there.

Also fun are the seats in the Mickey Shorts Theater…

…which are Mickey Shorts!

During the virus, every other row is roped off, and there are also closed spaces between groups of seats.

This is a minor attraction—but Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is not. For those intending to see the Railway who are not yet familiar with the new Mickey animation style, it is a necessary pre-show.

Some other photos from the attraction:

From the pre-show holding area.

From the post-show exit area.


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August 30, 2020   No Comments

Dining at Disney’s Riviera Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Riviera Resort, click here.)


Most of the Disney Vacation Resorts largely share the dining offered by their paired deluxe resort. Disney’s Riviera Resort, as a standalone DVC offering not paired with a deluxe resort, offers its own complete set of dining venues, with a substantial table service and a major quick service offering, and also several bars, each of which has a food menu of some sort.

When you factor in how convenient all of these offerings are—Disney’s Riviera Resort is the most compact of the stand-alone DVC offerings–on balance dining at Disney’s Riviera Resort is better than that at the other standalone DVC resorts, and on a par with or better than dining at all the paired resorts except for the monorail resort DVC offerings.


Primo Piatto (Italian for “first plate) is the principal quick-service venue at Disney’s Riviera Resort. On the first floor of the East Wing, it is also convenient to the two pools at Riviera.

It begins with a snacks/cold drinks/pre-packaged foods/bakery area.

After that is an electronic menu area and a couple of cash registers. The current Primo Piatto menu is here. Toggle it to see the various meal periods.

You order here, and bring one of the increasingly common electronic pucks to your table, which a cast member will use to find you and deliver your order.

Behind the registers is an area with condiments and such, and also some beverages–coffee and three Coke Freestyle machines in particular.

The seating area is bright and nice…

…includes a view of the kitchen…

…and is lined with photographs, particularly from Walt’s summer 1935 visit to Europe.

I’ve had a number of meals here, and with one exception–more about me than the food–found them all just fine.

The Riviera Burger…

…the Croque Monsieur, which was fine as a representative of its kind, but I have never quite gotten the point of this sandwich…

…some delightful blueberry-lemon pancakes…

…and the “Primo Piatto Breakfast,” where the eggs were nicely done (they were not dry, although they look dry in my lousy image), and the sausage–also featured with the pancakes–delightful.


Topolino’s Terrace is the distinctive table-service dining venue at Disney’s Riviera Resort. (“Topolino” is how Mickey Mouse is referred to in Italy.)

It offers a character breakfast in the morning, with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy, and a non-character dinner in the evenings. It also has a bar, and an outdoor terrace with distant views of the higher parts of the evening shows at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The menu for Toplino’s Terrace is here–toggle it to see the breakfast and dinner offerings.

Somewhat ridiculously, I did not eat in Topolino’s Terrace in either of my 2020 stays at Disney’s Riviera Resort. But co-author Josh has published a review of the character breakfast here, and of the bar and outdoor terrace here.


The lobby bar at Riviera, Le Petit Cafe, functions as a coffee shop in the morning and as a bar with a light dessert and appetizer menu in the afternoon and evening.

The menu of Le Petit Cafe is here.

The desserts are quite appealing…

Le Petite Cafe does not have seating in the ordering area, but you can sit in the lobby, just outside, or in this next-door library-ish area.


The pool bar at Disney’s Riviera Resort, Bar Riva, serves both drinks and a set of hot and cold food offerings. The menu of Bar Riva is here.

Poolside service is available as well–the menu from my last trip is above.

The bar is just outside the main Riviera Pool–and Primo Piatto is just steps away from it, if you are looking for a broader menu.


Villas at Riviera have a full kitchen, and studios have a coffeemaker, toaster, and microwave.

There’s a reasonable selection of food and dining supplies in the gift shop, and you can also use the various delivery sources to stock up as well.


This review continues here.



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May 10, 2020   No Comments

Amenities at Disney’s Riviera Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Riviera Resort, click here.)


Disney’s Riviera Resort is a standalone Disney Vacation Club resort, so largely has its own amenities.  Guests share a Disney Skyliner station with next-door Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, and are also welcome in the shops, dining, playgrounds, jogging trail etc., of Caribbean Beach.


Arrival at Disney’s Riviera Resort is at this port cochere.

This is also where Magical Express buses load and unload.

A water feature separates this area from the entry doors to Disney’s Riviera Resort, somewhat reminiscent of that at the Polynesian Village.

Inside the lobby you are greeted by lovely flowers and some intriguing design.

To one side is the bell stand…

…and next to it the check in and concierge services area (at Disney, concierge means help with tickets, dining reservations and such).

There’s also a kids waiting area with an electronic play table.

The seating area of the lobby–which also serves as a seating area for the coffee shop/bar that is here, which I’ll cover in my material on dining at Disney’s Riviera Resort–is small, not particularly themed, but lovely and comfortable. The light at the right comes from windows in a two-story staircase down to the pool area.

A slightly different angle on this space.  Directly at the back–between the two floral art works–is the entry to the resort’s gift shop.

The gift shop includes the usual toys and clothes…

…but also offers art inspired by Disney’s Riviera Resort.

As is true in all Disney Vacation Club resorts, there’s also lots of food available in the gift shop you can use in your kitchen or kitchenette…

…including cold and frozen items.

Downstairs from the lobby is the airline check in desk (note that this is a tip-based service).

Just outside and to the right is a nice-sized workout area.

More from the workout area.

Bus transportation is outside the lobby’s port cochere entrance, to the right.

Buses here go to all parks and Disney Springs.  While the Disney Skyliner is operating, service to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is hourly.  When it is not operating, bus service to these two parks is the same as to the other parks–on average, every 20 minutes.

The Disney Skyliner is the other transportation option, providing gondola service to Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and, should you wish to go for a visit, Disney’s Art of Animation and Pop Century Resort.

The Skyliner station that Disney’s Riviera Resort shares with Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is outside at the pool level, to the right–pass through a breezeway with fun murals.

The Skyliner station has two boarding areas. The first one will take you to the Caribbean Beach hub. Change here for Hollywood Studios (or Pop Century/Art of Animation.)

The second boarding area will take you right to Epcot.

In this same area of Disney’s Riviera Resort near the Skyliner station, you can also see the portion of the Epcot evening show that goes well above World Showcase Lagoon.

You can also see these fireworks from the top-floor viewing area and lounge outside of the principal dining venue at Disney’s Riviera Resort, Topolino’s Terrace.  See the link below for dining at  Disney’s Riviera Resort shortly.


This review continues here.



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May 4, 2020   2 Comments