Tag Archives: travel

Food on Disney Cruise Line

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One of the best aspects of a cruise is the food. Disney Cruise Line is a notch above the rest when it comes to food and they know how to make a dining experience special and employee the BEST servers that will help take that dining experience to the next level.

Let’s go through the options for filling your belly on a Disney Cruise.

Main Dining Rooms

There are three main dining rooms on the Disney ships, they vary by ship, but each one has 3 main dining rooms with 2 seatings. Usually, the times are 5:45pm and then 8:15pm. Each ship has Animator’s Palette, although they are a bit different on each ship. The other restaurants vary by ship, but each will have two other themed dining rooms.

Disney operates a Rotational Dining experience onboard all Disney ships. Each night of your cruise, you and your personal wait staff will “rotate” to one of the 3 distinctly themed restaurants onboard the ship, ensuring you enjoy a delicious meal catered to your liking in a unique setting nightly. And since your servers travel with you each night, they get to know you quickly and will take fabulous care of you. This is definitely a #DisneyDifference. Servers know just how to make you feel special and entertain the adults and the kids.

There are 2 dinner seatings each night of your cruise. Although specific times vary based on itinerary, dinner is served at approximately 5:45 PM (Main Seating) and 8:15 PM (Second Seating). Once onboard the ship, check the dining tickets that can be found in your stateroom for assigned seating time, restaurant schedule and table number.

One of the main dining rooms is usually open for breakfast and lunch if you don’t want to buffet or poolside options. This is open seating so you can sit anywhere and come in anytime during the opening hours.

ProTip: Order as many entrees or appetizers as you want. Can’t decide or don’t think one portion will be enough, go ahead and order two.

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My son had 3 entrees nightly. The first night he finished his dish and wanted more so from then on, our servers would bring out a second and 3rd dish without us asking once he was close to finishing the first.  He would pick something from the menu and then our server would bring him the basic chicken or steak and salmon dishes off the “offered every night” menu. 

Buffet and Pool Deck

Cabanas is Disney’s buffet restaurant located on the pool deck. Breakfast and Lunch are buffets and offer an incredible selection. Cabanas is also open for dinner, but the interesting thing is it has table service at dinner, it’s not a buffet.

The pool deck also offers fast food options, there is a pizza window and burgers, chicken fingers, etc…window that are open most of the day and late into the night.

Specialty Restaurants

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Palo is one of Disney’s specialty restaurants available on each ship and is adult-exclusive. Palo is Northern Italian themed and is available at an upcharge, currently $40 per person for brunch or dinner. This does need to be booked in advance and is popular and can be difficult to get into. See more about Palo here.

Remy is another adult-exclusive French gourmet dining experience aboard the Disney Dream and Fantasy. Brunch and Dinner are available to be booked in advance, again, it is popular and reservations can be hard to come by. Why yes, that is gold leaf on the chocolate dessert!

 

Eye Scream Treats is the ice cream shop available on all the ships on the pool deck. Self-serve soft serve is available here. 

Room Service

Another #DisneyDifference is room service is available at no additional charge on all Disney Cruise Line ships. While room service is free, be sure to tip your servers.

ProTip: Mickey Bars are available at no charge from the main dining rooms and room service. All the Mickey Bars you can eat! 

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You certainly won’t go hungry on a Disney Cruise. Let’s get you on one soon!

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Inside the Magic – Tower of Terror

Since we cannot be at Disney World right now, let’s take a look at some of the things that make it so special.

Another one of my favorites! This attraction opened its doors on July 22, 1994.

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The story

The plot of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror follows the tragic night of Oct. 31, 1939, when lightning struck the building. Five people were aboard an elevator as the building was struck, causing the elevator to free-fall. The hotel was closed after these tragic events and now guests are permitted to visit the obviously haunted hotel.

The History

The Tower of Terror is basically a drop ride with an incredible themed story around it. As for the drops, it drops 130, or 13 stories down. The first smaller drop in darkness is about 8 stories, then back to the top for the 13 story plunge doubled. The speed of the drop is about 39 MPH, and the drop itself only lasts for around 2 ½ seconds, although it seems longer!

Early on Mel Brooks was involved and it started out as “Castle Young Frankenstein” which would have featured a Bavarian village with winding streets to the castle with a drawbridge.  The idea later changed to “Mel Brooks’ Hollywood Horror Hotel”. Mel Brooks eventually left the project and Disney Imagineers had some ideas of their own and brought in the idea to have a moving elevator off its track and moving down hallways. Imagineers decided on Spanish-Renaissance/Riverside Mission Inn architecture because it would fit in on Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards. Disney also felt the attraction needed a movie reference and settled on the Twilight Zone theme making it an eerie and thrilling attraction.  

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The attraction uses an Autonomous Guided Vehicle. A self controlling, self contained ride vehicle, that can move without track. Although the 5th Dimension floor has guideways for traction, the vehicle itself runs on its own wheels along the floor. The AGV guides itself into the ride shaft to ascend to the boiler room (load) level, it slots into a larger elevator the VVC, or Vertical Vehicle Conveyance. This is a normal elevator car complete with cables and wheels. It is this that lifts the AGV up through the corridor scene, and to the 5th Dimension level. As the AGV transfers horizontally, the VVC returns to the basement level to receive the next AGV. The AGV then will get into another VVC for the drop portion of the attraction. 

An informative video on how the Tower of Terror works.

Fun Facts

  • Our Walt Disney Imagineers viewed 156 episodes of “The Twilight Zone” for inspiration when creating The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
  • The ride vehicle is an elevator car.
  • The storyline of the attraction sets the date as Halloween night – October 31, 1939.
  • The architecture of the tower was inspired by multiple Southern California landmarks, such as the Biltmore Hotel and the Mission Inn.
  • The building has 27,000 roof tiles.
  • The grounds of the Hollywood Tower Hotel were inspired by the look of California’s Griffith Park and Elysian Park.
  • The lobby of the Hollywood Tower Hotel was outfitted with antiques and furniture purchased at Los Angeles-area auction houses.
  • The Library room features a hidden nod to Mickey Mouse in this sheet music, which is for the song “What! No Mickey Mouse?”
  • The clip of film in which Rod Serling introduces the attraction was taken from a “Twilight Zone” episode called “It’s a Good Life.”
  • The young girl who disappears in the elevator carries a Mickey Mouse doll.
  • The attraction’s “Fifth Dimension” scene was inspired in part by the “Little Girl Lost” episode of “The Twilight Zone.”
  • The drop is 13-stories.
  • The drop sequence for each elevator car is selected at random by the attraction’s computer system.
  • Measuring 199 feet tall, Tower of Terror is one of the tallest attractions at Walt Disney World Resort.

Step into the elevator

 

Inside the Magic – Expedition Everest

Since we cannot be at Disney World right now, let’s take a look at some of the things that make it so special.IMG_1761

Expedition Everest is one of my favorite atractions in all of Disney World! 

The adventure begins in Asia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom,  join the Expedition Everest team and embark on a trek through Anandapur. The trail leads visitors to the village of Serka Zong, which means “fortress of the chasm.” The Royal Anandapur Tea Company shipped its tea by train from Serka Zong through the Forbidden Mountain pass. The railroad was closed after several mysterious accidents, rumored to be from the hand of a Yeti. Today, the village of Serka Zong is thriving again thanks to the efforts of local entrepreneurs. The Himalayan Escapes, Tours and Expeditions company has partially refurbished the railway and now offers transportation for adventurers to the base camp at Mt. Everest.

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Imagineers traveled to Nepal and surrounding areas to research local culture, architecture, food, and the legend of the Yeti. This massive feat was accomplished by building the ride track and the mountain completely independent of the other. The track and mountain never touch and were both built with superstructures that do not dependent on each other. When the attraction opened, the Yeti was the biggest, most advanced audio-animatronics figure to ever be created. He stands a whopping 25 ft tall and has the potential to move his entire body an astounding 5 ft horizontally in a few seconds flat. The figure was constructed to sit atop a 46 ft tall independent concrete base meant to hold its weight while allowing the beast to swoop down on passing train vehicles, terrifying riders and confirming the legends’ truth. Of couse, he hasn’t worked as he was meant to since that firt year, 2006. No explanation has ever been given as to why and stobe lights and fans to make his fur move have been put in place as a Plan B. 

The queue for the ride is pretty incredible itself, try to take in as much detail as you can. The statutes featured outside, the flags hanging, the clothing in the cases, even the currency in the photos is all spot on with the Indian culture that exists at the base of the real Everest.

Building a Thrill Ride

Intestesting documentary on the building of Expedition Everest.

Fun Facts

  • The Forbidden Mountain’s rocky peaks and distinctive face are based upon the actual northwest face of Mount Everest.
  • More than 2,000 handcrafted items of wood, stone, and metal supplied by artisans in Asia are featured in the attraction.
  • At 199 feet, Expedition Everest is the tallest mountain at any Disney park.
  • The steam rising from the train after it pulls into the loading area actually comes from steam vents underneath the train station! These create the effect of an actual steam powered engine but the steam isn’t water-based to prevent rusting.
  • Expedition Everest reaches a top speed of 50 mph!
  • Notice the many hairbands thrown on the mountain when you stop at the broken track! It’s a weird tradition to throw hairbands here.

 

Climb aboard, let’s go to the base of Mt. Everest!

Inside the Magic – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Since we cannot be at Disney World right now, let’s take a look at some of the things that make it so special.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was one of the first Disney rides to utilize computer-aided design. The attraction first opened at Disneyland in 1979, and the Magic Kingdom’s larger version opened in 1980.IMG_3222_original

The Story Behind the Mountain

Once a working mine during America’s Gold Rush, there was gold found deep within Big Thunder Mountain in Red Rock Canyon. Almost overnight, the town of Tumbleweed became a thriving mining town. Barnabas T. Bullion established the Big Thunder Mining Company to go after the gold. Barnabas was born into a powerful East Coast family, so naturally, he thought it was his very right to claim the gold inside the mountain.

Big Thunder Mountain was protective of its gold and would curse anyone who dared try to take it. Miners would hear ghostly sounds, strange events occurred, including cave-ins and equipment failure. On a stormy night, a flash flood completely wiped out the town, destroying the mining company. Rumors has it Professor Cumulus Isobar, a rainmaker, brought the flood to Tumbleweed. If you look carefully, you might spot a mysterious machine with Cumulus’ name on it during your ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad travels through an empty ghost mine and rushes riders through the canyons, caverns, abandoned mine shaft and the ghost town of Tumbleweed! Barnabas, however, is still trying to dig and find gold inside Big Thunder Mountain, despite the warnings and curses from the mountain. Spooky!

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Big Thunder Fun Facts:

  • As you whiz past the Gold Dust Saloon in the town of Tumbleweed, you can spot the “Wildest Party in the West” happening on the second floor.
  • The setting of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was inspired by Monument Valley in Arizona.
  • A miner in his pajamas can be seen relaxing in a bathtub.
  • The attraction’s top speed is 36 miles per hour and has a 40-inch height requirement.
  • There are 3 lifts (two indoor and one outdoor) on the roller coaster.
  • The trains from Disneyland’s version were used in the mine chase sequence in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!”

Climb aboard the Wildest Ride in the West…

Your rip-roaring adventure proves that some legends are true. You’re sure to have a real blast!

Inside the Magic – Pirates of the Caribbean

Since we cannot be at Disney World right now, let’s take a look at some of the things that make it so special.

Today let’s take on another classic, Pirates of the Caribbean.

A Pirate’s Life for You

Board a weathered barge for a treacherous voyage to the 17th century, when rowdy rogues and ruthless rapscallions ransacked Caribbean seaport towns. Sing along as pirates serenade you with their anthem, “Yo Ho, Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me).”

Sail past haunted Dead Man’s Cove. Navigate cannon fire between a Caribbean fort and a striking 12-gun galleon. Behold boisterous buccaneers drunk on the spoils of plunderin’ as flames engulf a seaside town.

Be sure to keep a spry eye out for Captain Jack Sparrow, from The Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

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Magic Kingdom’s Pirate’s of the Caribbean attraction in Adventureland opened on December 15, 1973. This classic Disney ride first opened at Disneyland on March 18, 1967. It’s a boat ride, but when the idea first came about (sometime in the 1950s), the attraction was going to be a walkthrough wax museum!

Pirates of the Caribbean was the last ride Walt Disney himself actually oversaw and worked on before his death in December of 1966. Unfortunately, Walt passed away three months before the boat ride was finished, so he never saw the final product.

The ride inspired the popular film series and has even been revamped to include many of the films’ characters, including Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa.

Pirates Fun Facts:

  • During the ride’s battle scene between the pirate ship and town’s fortress, you’ll hear cannon balls whizzing over your head and dropping in the water. The illusion is created by moving cannons, flashes of light, and blast from beneath the waves!
  • Another memorable scene from the ride is the town in flames! This effect is actually just created by a bunch of different cloths, fans and lights.
  • There are over 120 Audio-Animatronics on the ride. This is a mixture of both human and animal animatronics.
  • The film characters added to the ride are all voiced by their original actors. Some of the ride’s original Audio-Animatronics are voiced by Paul Frees; you might recognize him as being the “Ghost Host” from the Haunted Mansion!
  • In 2012, mermaids were added to the grotto scene in Magic Kingdom. You can see the mermaid skeleton onshore, but it’s harder to catch the one swimming port side in the water!

Let’s take a ride…

Ye beware, mateys: Dead men tell no tales!

Inside the Magic – Jungle Cruise

Since we cannot be at Disney World right now, let’s take a look at some of the things that make it so special.

First up, the iconic Jungle Cruise!

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The Jungle Cruise was an opening day attraction at Disneyland inspired by Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventures films and “The African Queen.” The original attraction was more serious than today. Walt wanted it to be the Kilimanjaro Safaris of the 1950s. He even wanted live animals to be used in the attraction before learning that wasn’t exactly the best idea.

Since the day Disneyland park opened, the Jungle Cruise has been one of its most popular attractions. As you cruise the rivers of the world, you’re surrounded by fascinating animal life and a lush jungle of exotic trees, plants and flowers.

When building the Jungle Cruise, Walt Disney turned to Imagineer and horticulturist Bill Evans to create the landscape. Bill created a “Hollywood Jungle,” a mixture of exotic plants and trees that would give the feeling of traveling through exciting and uncharted territories. To create his Hollywood Jungle,  Bill developed some intrepid techniques, like smuggling plant seeds inside the cuffs of his socks and planting orange trees upside down to resemble mangroves.

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Through the years, the tall trees engulfing the Jungle Cruise have created a lush canopy that regulates the temperature inside this Hollywood Jungle, allowing plants that you won’t find anywhere else in Southern California to thrive right here in Disneyland park.

The Queue

The Jungle Cruise queue is an open-air outpost accepting bookings for cruises. Winding through the queue, guests can see the boats pulling up to the docks, as well as cargo, artifacts, and maps.

The Jungle Cruise Experience

The premise of the Jungle Cruise is that guests have signed up for a lengthy tour down the rivers of the world guided by a skipper from the Jungle Navigation Co. The ride lasts about 8 minutes, guests journey down the Amazon, the Congo, the Nile, and finally the Mekong.

Each section has audio-animatronics specific to that region, such as a giant python, a camp raided by gorillas, headhunters, waterfalls, or a pride of lions. While some of the scenes are humorous, more so the main draw of the attraction is the rapid-fire puns and cheesy jokes from the skippers.

Several jokes and gags from the skipper’s spiel have become iconic over the years, and often get a big reaction from guests who have cruised before. Be expecting the famous “backside of water” cheer when your skipper takes the boat behind a waterfall. 

Let’s take a ride on the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland…

The Jungle Cruise is a gentle, slow-moving boat cruise with plenty to see. It’s the perfect family attraction as it truly offers something for every age and member.

Touring the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

We are in uncharted territory at the moment, with the Disney Parks worldwide closed due to the Corona Virus. This is all so unprecedented.

To brighten your day a little, I wanted to take you on a little tour of the beautiful topiaries Disney World has decorating Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival.

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Anna and Elsa in Norway
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Lady and the Tramp in Italy
Character Topiaries at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White in Germany

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Hopefully, you can get there next year and see them all in person. Stay healthy.

Strong Water Tavern

Strong Water Tavern at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando Resort is a hidden gem and worth a visit even if you are not staying at this resort.

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A wall of vintage rums, your own rum specialist, a ceviche bar and a patio overlooking the lagoon combine to make Strong Water Tavern an exceptionally cool and stylish watering hole. Featuring tapas-style dining options with rum tastings, this is a true jewel at this very tropical island feel resort.

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On a recent visit to Universal Orlando, I visited twice. The service was wonderful each time and the food delicious! It was impossible to choose drinks and tapas, but our server made suggestions and following those proved to be the right choice.

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Seafood Ceviche
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Florida Ceviche

My companion and I shared a few tapas, the Florida Ceviche and the Seafood Tostadas which were both incredible. Especially the Florida Ceviche which came highly recommended by our server. She was not wrong, we got it again on our next visit!

While they have anything you could want including wine and beer, Rum is their speciality as we went with rum drinks. Fountain of Youth the first visit for me and to accompany our Florida Ceviche on our second late-night visit, a Cayman Island Iced Tea.

The bar was full late afternoon on our first visit, pre-dinner drinks going strong, tables were plentifully available though. During our late-night visit, there were considerably more people, but we still were able to be seated immediately, it’s a very large space.

Next time you are at Universal Orlando, be sure to stroll over or take the water taxi over  You can even walk to Loews Sapphire Falls Resort from Citywalk.

Strong Water Tavern is an absolute gem!

Review: Sandos Cancun

Sandos Cancun offers the perfect long weekend escape from reality! It’s right on a gorgeous stretch of beach in the hotel zone, just minutes from the airport.

 

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A high rise compact resort, nothing is far away and while it’s not technically an adult-only resort, children will be few and far between because the resort does not cater to children. There are no kid’s clubs or activities for children.

BEACH

The white sand beach is exactly what you have been dreaming about. With beach service, you can enjoy a refreshing mojito without leaving your lounge chair. Located between the pool and the beach is the popular St.Trop restaurant serving up freshly baked pizzas straight from the wood oven. And the best fish tacos I’ve ever had!

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SPA DEL MAR

Treat yourself to a well-deserved full body massage and a variety of health and beauty treatments. Service here is impeccable.

FITNESS CENTER

Stay fit or start getting in shape at the fully equipped gym, complete with treadmills, recumbent bikes, elliptical trainers, free weights, resistance machines, yoga mats, and everything you need for a full-body workout.

ACCOMMODATION

There are 5 different room options available with all the facilities and amenities you´d expect from a high-end all-inclusive resort in Cancun. Modern suites with jacuzzis and picturesque ocean views of the beach and blue waters of the Caribbean. Rooms include free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, pillow menu, and more.

SUPERIOR ROOM

Superior Room sleeps up to 3 people in 450 square feet of living space and offers astonishing views of Cancun’s famous white sand beach and the rich turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean. These rooms come with a 32-inch flat-screen TV, spacious bathroom with separate shower and soaking tub.

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DELUXE ROOM

Watch the sunrise from the fully furnished balcony which offers excellent views over the beach or Nichupté Lagoon. The Deluxe Room sleeps up to 3 people in 450 square feet of living space.

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LAGUNA SUITE

The two private balconies highlight the eye-catching views in this spacious suite: one balcony overlooking Nichupté Lagoon, and the other overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The Laguna Suite features a calming master bedroom with a king bed, as well as a separate living and dining area with a well-equipped kitchenette.

SANDOS SUITE

The Sandos Suites provide 800 square feet of living space which is more than enough room for 3 adults. A highlight of the suites includes excellent views from the balcony.

CARIBE SUITE

Take in some of the best views the Riviera Maya has to offer from the luxury Caribe Suite which provides1160 square feet of living space. Caribe Suites have two spacious bedrooms with their own private bathroom, separate living and dining area with kitchenette, and modern decor. One of the highlights of this luxurious 2 bedroom suite is the huge furnished balcony where you can enjoy your morning coffee with panoramic views of Cancun’s famous turquoise waters.Sandos_Cancun_Suite_Caribe4_0IMG_5136

RESTAURANTS

Choose from 4 exquisite gourmet restaurants and dining options including the Seasons steakhouse, the chic Gaijin serving authentic Japanese cuisine, A La Carte Italian cuisine at Frattini´s, and Zangos international buffet. Delicious Caribbean dishes, traditional Mexican food, and a broad selection of snacks and delicious goodies will keep you going throughout the day. Don’t forget 24-hour room service to make that dream of waking up to breakfast in bed overlooking the Caribbean Sea a reality.

 

BARS

Stretch out and soak up the sun on the luxury sun loungers in the manicured gardens of the hip Bar Two positioned just in front of the white sand beach. Bar One is a sophisticated lobby style bar where you´ll find everything from exotic cocktails to a selection of popular wines and beer.

ENTERTAINMENT

Besides the beach, and three outdoor infinity pools that seemingly blend into the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, there’s plenty of entertainment available at Sandos Cancun. Live the “Rhythm Experience” where you’ll enjoy a different genre of music each day of the week with themed events and extravagant shows. From 11am to 5pm the resident DJ sets the mood by the pool area and as the sun sets the party begins in Bar Two. Looking for a more relaxed ambiance, head to Bar One where you can zone out to the chilled out vibes set by the DJ.

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Contact me to plan your next romantic getaway or friends weekend in Cancun at Sandos Cancun Lifestyle Resort.

Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen

As a lover of all things CHOCOLATE, I had to try out Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen for myself. I mean look at the milkshakes!!!

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Toothsome is an impressive sight from across the water at Citywalk. It sits just outside the entrance to Islands of Adventure and appears to be a Willy Wonka’esque contraption rising from the water.

Inside, the theme is steampunk head to toe and it’s a fully immersive experience. The story of Penelope and how she created the Emporium to find her family is entertaining. Penelope and her chocolate creating friend Jacques wander from table to table chatting with guests. The building houses the restaurant, the foundry (milkshake shop), a pastry shop and a gift shop. And upstairs a small bar.

The restaurant offers more than just chocolate though. The menu has some eclectic choices and comfort food with a twist. The menu is expansive with everything from burgers, flatbreads, steaks, pasta and of course an amazing dessert menu.

We started with a chocolate drink of course!

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On this particular trip, my companion and I shared a few appetizers.

The Totchos,  fried tater tots, spicy green chili, crispy pork belly, andouille sausage cheddar cheese sauce.

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Forest Mushroom Flatbread, Mushrooms, goat cheese, caramelized onions, arugula, white truffle oil

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Both were excellent, the totchos were nice and crispy and the flatbread was simply divine.

After ducking into the parks for a bit to close them down, we returned to Toothsome for the icing on the cake, or whip cream on the milkshake, or something like that.

They taste as great as they look!

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I chose the Chocolate X5 and it was delicious! Not gonna lie, they are a bit difficult to eat, but worth every messy napkin involved.

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Finding a spot to sit can be difficult, but there is plenty of seating along the wall outside.

This is definitely on my return visit list. So many more things to try on the incredible menu and just a fun vibe. Have you tried a meal or a milkshake at Toothsome? I’d love to hear about it!