Garden View Tea Room – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

We have been fortunate enough to enjoy afternoon tea in the Garden View Tea Room at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa many times over the years, and it has become a family tradition for every trip.

Garden View Tea Room tea pot and cover

Sweet Curry Chicken

That’s because my family knows that if there’s one must-have food item I need to eat every time I go to Walt Disney World, it’s the Sweet Curry Chicken finger sandwiches at the Garden View Tea Room.

These little delights haunt me in the best possible way.

It’s the one recipe I cannot duplicate when I get home, and believe me, I’ve tried. And tried. And tried.

Garden View Tea Room

The Disney Dining Plan is not accepted in the tea room, so it’s worth noting that this is an extra expense if you typically use a dining plan as we do.

There are a few different packages at different price points on the menu, but we love The Bedfordshire Tea package (the least expensive package) which includes assorted finger sandwiches, a scone, your choice of dessert, and of course your choice of tea from their vast menu. There is no shortage of food here so be sure to go hungry!

 

A Delightful Gluten-Free Tea Experience

I’m the only one in our family that has to follow a gluten-free diet, and the chefs never disappoint when it comes to my personal tea experience.

Gluten-Free Finger Sandwiches

As with their standard menu, there is a gluten-free assortment of finger sandwiches that come on fresh gluten-free bread and they are amazing! The selection can vary but my plate pictured above included egg salad, sweet curry chicken, tomato, cucumber, and poached pear (did I mention there is plenty of food?).

gluten free cakes and spreadsThe scones on the menu are the one difference and for anyone dining gluten-free, they are replaced with different breads (snack cake style), but you won’t miss the scone and you still get to enjoy the trio of spreads that everyone else does: strawberry jam, clotted cream, and lemon curd. Again, amazing! macaroons inside view

As for dessert, I always enjoy the plate of sweet macaroons that go perfectly with those last few drops of tea.

While the entire menu is tasty, I can’t help but hold a sweet spot for that curry chicken. I have created my own sweet curried chicken salad recipe at home which is close, but that magical ingredient is sadly missing.

My hunt for that perfectly duplicated recipe continues and every time I find a recipe for curried chicken somewhere that looks close to what I imagine the Disney recipe must be, I test it. I’ve had no luck so far, but I’m enjoying the process. And if it means I have to keep visiting the Garden View Tea Room in hopes of getting my fix, so be it.


When You Can’t Get to Disney…

One week ago today, I had a nasty accident that left my entire right side badly battered and bruised, and my right wrist broken.

In an instant, all of my Disney dreams went out the window as a surgeon spoke the words I’d already been telling myself but hadn’t been strong enough to speak out loud, “there will be other marathons.”

I have spent the past seven days feeling sad and sorry for myself. I cancelled all of my vacation plans and let go of my dreams of my first Disney solo trip and running the runDisney Star Wars Rival Run Challenge.

Until today.

Today I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started thinking. I’ve trained hard and I’m ready to run my first half, so why let all of that hard work go to waste?

Virtual Running

I cannot tell you how many times the words of the surgeon have played over and over through my head, “there will be other runs.” So today I went looking for other runs.

And bingo, there it was right in front of me!

As I roamed social media, hitting every marathon and running site looking for a run in the not-too-distant-future, there it was. The runDisney Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon.

It’s perfect:

  • I have time for the bruising to subside and my wrist to heal enough to run again.
  • I don’t have to travel anywhere or run with a cast in heat and humidity (suddenly I’m thankful for the cooler Canadian temps).
  • I have the option to break the distance down over shorter runs if needed (not that I want to).
  • I still earn a Disney Star Wars themed medal.

I thought about it for all of five minutes before I hit the Register button.

Back to my Roots

This isn’t my first virtual run. It’s actually how I first began running and earning medals. I started out with the runDisney Virtual Running Shorts back in the summer of 2016, earning my Yellow Shoes, Red Shorts, and White Glove medals. I quickly also joined the Hogwarts Running Club where I earned medals running longer distances and going beyond 5K’s. And once my daughters saw me earning my medals, they were all in too!

While the official deadline for this virtual half is March 31st, I want to complete my run safely and with doctor approval. Maybe I’ll set the medal aside and run it at home on the same day of the runDisney Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon. That way it won’t hurt as much when I see all of those fabulous finish line photos pop up on social media on the day of and after the run.

Maybe it will have to wait longer. Only time will tell. Either way, I won’t unwrap and wear the medal until I’ve earned it. Safely.

So remember…where there’s a will, there’s a way.

And watch for my future post where I’ll be wearing that Star Wars half marathon medal!

runDisney Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon Medal

runDisney Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon Medal

Look here to see all of the Star Wars runDisney 2019 medals.

 


Marathon Training Continues…week 6

Yep, still running and still training!

bday shots

balloons

Ok, truthfully, it was my 50th birthday on the weekend and I did take some time off from running, but not from exercise. It’s been pretty hot here and things were crazy given we were in party planning mode, so I focused more on core and strength training last week, rather than putting in the miles.

Party over, celebrating done, house back in order…it’s now time to jump back in. And I’m happy to say I’m jumping back in with a couple new items.

After listening to my frequent rants over my issues with my old running watch (I won’t name names here), my husband lovingly gave me a new Garmin Forerunner 35 for my birthday. I love it!

Instantly, the fit was so much more comfortable than my old watch and it’s definitely a better size for my wrist. While I haven’t used it just yet, it is out and synced to my phone, charged and ready to go. Now I just need to read the manual and figure out all the features.

gifts

And…In the spirit of wearing things on your wrist while running…my fabulous husband also surprised me with a Magic Kingdom 45th Anniversary Limited Edition Dumbo MagicBand! Dumbo is one of my favourite Disney characters and I had my eye on this beauty some time ago but never picked it up. So hubby did…and apparently (according to our paperwork) he managed to order the last one in stock. It’s the perfect item for my solo trip to Walt Disney World in the spring. gifts b

So thanks to my better half, I’m now ready to continue my marathon training in style with (hopefully) a little less frustration, and I look forward to running my next runDisney event with my pal, Dumbo.

Let week six begin!

 


Planning a Solo Walt Disney World Trip

After years of dreaming about it, I’m finally doing it: I’ve booked my first solo trip to Walt Disney World.

I love my family and our crazy busy Disney vacations, but this one I’m doing just for me. No FastPasses, no hectic dining schedule, no racing through the parks at breakneck speed not really seeing it all or taking it all in… This trip will all be about enjoying the gluten-free side of Disney parks and resorts, taking time to enjoy all the sites and sounds, and of course running.

Planning a Disney vacation at this point is fairly straight-forward for us. We know which resort we want, we always get the deluxe dining plan, everyone has their favourite must-do rides and restaurants…no questions. But this time it took a lot of extra thought on my part. I’ve never been able to book whatever I want when it comes to resorts, dining, parks, or plans. Sure I’ve gone off on my own for a few hours at a stretch, but never have I had DAYS to myself. And yes, I’ve been able to select a couple must-do items that I’ve wanted for most of our trips, but again, not anything and everything for full DAYS at a time. This time, planning each detail seemed a little daunting. There were so many questions.

When to Travel?

Star Wars Half Marathon - Dark Side 5K, April 2018

Star Wars Half Marathon – Dark Side 5K, April 2018

The first question I faced was when to go. That was fairly easy. I knew I wanted to go with the idea of celebrating my 50th birthday (in August), and I want to participate in what will be my second runDisney event. I’m also Canadian and I wouldn’t want to book a trip through the worst of the winter months and risk travel issues or cancellations due to weather, so I chose the spring and the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend. The registration for this event opens in August (Happy Birthday to me) and I completed the Star Wars Dark Side 5K run last year. As a Star Wars fan, I would love to do it again..but bigger (longer?). So I’m training with April in mind and will keep my fingers crossed I get into the run of my choice.

Where to Stay?

Question number two. I’m happy to say, our family has been to Walt Disney World a number of times and we’ve always stayed on property, so I’m pretty familiar with most of the resorts. My biggest issues here were whether or not to stay on the monorail line, and of course, my budget.

First, I thought of all of our past trips, and the one memory that stood out the most in my mind was our stay at Disney’s Beach Club Resort and walking along the boardwalk into Epcot early one morning for a pastry in France before the park was open to everyone. It was so quiet and peaceful and the chance to take World Showcase photos without anyone else in them was priceless.

Secondly, I considered all the things I want to do while I’m there. I’m a huge Star Wars fan and want to do all things Star Wars, so being in the Boardwalk area and close to Hollywood Studios seemed the right choice. Not to mention, the runDisney event I want will likely start at Epcot (it has in the past), so staying closer to the park might mean a few extra winks the night before the run. Very important when you consider the races start at 5:30 am.

Problem solved: Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.

Disney Dining Plan or No Dining Plan?

I’m a chef and my kids are a couple of foodies, so we always get a dining plan (usually deluxe) and enjoy some of Disney’s finest dining options when we go on vacation. But I’m likely going during Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival (the exact dates have not yet been announced), and this time I want to try all the gluten-free food options I can at the outdoor kitchens around World Showcase. In light of this, I don’t think I’ll be sitting down to eat enough to make the deluxe plan worth it for just myself, so while I’ll still take a dining plan option, I’m going a little more basic for this trip: 2 snack options, 1 quick-service, and 1 table-service each day.

The Disney Countdown is On

Magic Kingdom, September 2017

Magic Kingdom, September 2017

That’s the plan so far. My flight is booked and paid for, my resort reservation made, and I’ve already linked my registration and customized my MagicBand in my My Disney Experience account.

Next hurdle: the runDisney Star Wars Rival Run Weekend registration date, August 28th, and successfully registering for the run of my choice (10K, half, both?).

Trip countdown: just 258 days to go!

 


Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Breakfast Review (gluten-free)

If you’re like me, you typically eat the same four or five breakfast meals over and over: toast, eggs, cereal, and oatmeal. Well, when I’m away on vacation, the one thing I allow myself to indulge in is breakfast. And indulge I do.

On our recent trip to Walt Disney World in April I could not get enough of their breakfast potatoes. Whether it was in a cheesy casserole, or baked muffin-style (I’ll write about those another day), I loved them. And all of them gluten-free.

My absolute favourite breakfast potato dish though was at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at the Norway pavilion in Epcot. This was our first time dining at Akershus and we chose to go for the Princess Storybook character experience at breakfast.

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Akershus is a unique dining experience in that it’s both a buffet and a family-style meal. They have an extensive buffet set up with assorted meats and cheeses, pastries, cereals, bagels and more. On top of that, a family-style platter is delivered to your table complete with eggs, sausage, bacon, and breakfast potatoes. And as if that isn’t enough, there are gluten-free waffles, muffins, and hash browns available to order.

Thankfully, there is an allergy-friendly menu to walk you through all the items and as always, you have the option of talking directly to the chef if you would prefer or if you have questions.

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While everything on the breakfast platter was safe for me to eat, I also ordered the gluten-free waffles. Much to my surprise though, these were not the usual Mickey-shaped gluten-free waffles that I was used to at Walt Disney World and they certainly weren’t as tasty.

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They were cold and tasteless…oh, and they came alone on the plate. Unlike at other Disney restaurants, the waffles did not come with their own little pitcher of maple syrup. I’m not sure why they were different but after a couple bites, I opted to pass.

Then I discovered the potatoes. Incredible! Creamy and hearty, topped with cheese, I could not stop eating them.

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Definitely one of the better potato dishes on property!

Once back at home, and after returning to my regular breakfast routine, I could not stop thinking about the creamy goodness I’d enjoyed. I decided to try to duplicate the potatoes at home. Thankfully, having spent a number of vacations at Walt Disney World, I had collected a few Disney cookbooks over time, so I turned to those.

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Sure enough, one of them contained my beloved Cheddar Breakfast Potatoes recipe.

I must admit they turned out quite well but were not exactly the same.

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Maybe it was the illusion of eating them in a castle that was missing, or the absence of princesses parading around my kitchen table, I’m not sure. But I do know that every last bite of them was loved both by myself and the rest of my family. Even without the princesses.