Written by Erica V. Ellis – Magical Tripcations Travel Planner
Have you heard that Walt Disney World has started the “Highway In The Sky Dine-Around” which, according to the Walt Disney World website, allows you to climb “aboard the Walt Disney World Resort Monorail for a culinary journey where each destination offers a distinctively delicious experience.”
We at Magical Tripcations are excited to see this new Disney Dining experience being offered to guests! For now, it is only being offered a few nights a week, so what if you can’t make your itinerary work for one of those nights but you still want to eat and drink your way around the “Monorail Loop”? Well, don’t you worry, we have your back!
In September, during a “research” trip to Walt Disney World during the first weekend of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival four travel planners from the Magical Tripcations team took a spin on the Monorail and here we offer our findings from the evening filled with delectable foods, yummy drinks, plenty of laughs and fireworks to cap off the evening! This journey is also sometimes referred to as the “Monorail Crawl.” **Disclaimer, we recommend this be done with a 21 & over crowd.**
We were coming from Epcot so we disembarked the Epcot Monorail and loaded onto the Resort Monorail at the Ticket and Transportation Center. From there we hit up our first stop, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. We arrived at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto around 4:45pm on a Thursday afternoon and found there to be available space. We hopped up on some bar stools and perused both the food and drink menu. Each of us placed an order for the Pan-fried Dumplings served with Soy-Sesame Dipping Sauce and they did not disappoint! They were the perfect way to start off our journey. The grotto offers other yummy options that I would have like to try as well, like the Hawaiian Poke, yum! For our beverages, we all opted for an adult beverage, there were so many to choose from but two of us ordered the HippopotoMai-Tai and the other two ordered Rosita’s Margarita. We also were convinced to buy the fun glasses that come with the beverages, they’re a great souvenir! Ordering drinks and receiving them was quite the experience. When a drink is being made and served, the bar and wait staff have a special saying or the bar undergoes some slight changes, so pay attention! Also, if you sit at the bar, watch for sinking stools, you’ve been warned! The ambiance is a ton of fun and silly and a great way to kick off a trip around the Monorail Loop.
We stopped in the lobby of Polynesian to take a quick picture and then we were back on everyone’s favorite mode of transportation, The Monorail! Our next stop was at the ever elegant, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. We made our way to Citricos which is a great dinner spot for a nice date night or family dinner. Our party was very happy to discover that when you sit in the lounge you have access to the entire menu; it was a great surprise! This stop was much more low key, we were able to have good conversation, plan the rest of our weekend, and discuss what we had already done that day. It was a nice respite, we enjoyed that it was in the middle of our trip around the loop. Since it was the full menu there was a lot to choose from we ordered a variety of things which included the Citricos Cheese Board, Arancini, and Sautéed Local Shrimp. In our beverage selection, we had lots of options and ended up with some wine and martinis. Their drink menu does change, so what you have in September could be totally different in January. We enjoyed our time at Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and we were ready for our final stop, Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
One of my favorite restaurants in all of Walt Disney World is California Grill so we were all thrilled to learn that we arrived with enough time to find a spot at the bar for our last round of food and drinks and also watch Wishes from Magic Kingdom! Fireworks that evening were at 8:00pm and we arrived around 7:00pm. The restaurant was buzzing with fun energy and we made our way to the bar/lounge area. There were a couple seats open so we claimed our spot and after about 20 minutes the two spots next to us opened so all four of us had a seat. At this point in the evening we were all pretty full so we ordered one appetizer, Tuna Three Ways, and boy was it the right choice! It was possibly some of the BEST tuna I’d ever had. California Grill is known for their sushi bar, we got a great tip from the bartender, the best day to get some of the best sushi for a crazy good price is on January 1st! California Grill hosts a huge New Year’s Eve Party so on New Year’s Day they turn around and need to get rid of the fish that wasn’t consumed the night before, we were told it’s the best day to eat there. For our drinks a couple of us ordered the Cucumber Fizz, which was light and refreshing and a great way to end the night. As the fireworks started I was able to get a great viewing spot by the window, the restaurant pipes the music from the show in and dims the light so it’s a really awesome viewing experience!!
Whether you’re able to get a reservation with Disney Dining for “Highway in the Sky Dine-Around”, you follow our lead, or you come up with your own “Monorail Crawl”, it’ll be a fun adult evening out! Remember, Disney isn’t just for kids! Cheers!!!