As 2016 has come to a close, here’s a look back at a very busy year for the culinary teams at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort:

    • The biggest news was the proliferation of new places to eat at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort, from grab-and-go food trucks and kiosks to restaurants by award-winning chefs. Fast-casual spots included Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza and D-Luxe Burger. Three James Beard Foundation winners joined the line-up: Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming, Chef Rick Bayless at Frontera Cocina, and Masaharu Morimoto at Morimoto Asia (which opened in late 2015). Superstar steakhouse STK also opened an outpost at Disney Springs. And Amorette’s Patisserie added confections (and savories). Coming in 2017: Paddlefish, Wine Bar George, Planet Hollywood Observatory, the Polite Pig and more.

 Afternoon Tea at Steakhouse 55 in the Disneyland Hotel at Disneyland Resort

    • January: Afternoon Tea debuted at Steakhouse 55 in the Disneyland Hotel at Disneyland Resort. This lovely oasis of elegance features white linens and historic black-and-white photos of Hollywood greats, making it a perfect spot for the rich tradition of afternoon tea.

The Diamond Horseshoe at Magic Kingdom Park

    • March: The Diamond Horseshoe at Magic Kingdom Park reopened with table service dining. Each all-you-care-to-enjoy saloon feast starts with a generous salad and cornbread, then features platters of pork, sausage, turkey and braised beef.
    • March: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival expanded its Outdoor Kitchens to 13, making food a bigger part of the annual festival. And each of the kiosks features an edible garden to showcase some of the foods being served. Look for new tastes at the 2017 festival from March 1-May 29.
    • April: Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa took home the AAA Five Diamond award for the 16th consecutive year. It also was voted the No. 2 restaurant in the United States in TripAdvisor’s 2016 Travelers’ Choice awards. The restaurant wows guests every night of the year with three dining experiences: the dining room, the elegant Queen Victoria’s Room and the Chef’s Table in the Kitchen.
    • April: Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival returned, celebrating some of the best of delicious California cuisine. New Festival Marketplaces were added, along with culinary demonstrations, appearances by celebrity chefs and seminars.

Ample Hills Creamery at Disney’s BoardWalk

    • May: Ample Hills Creamery opened at Disney’s BoardWalk. In keeping with the timeless charm of the 1930’s Atlantic coastal atmosphere on the boardwalk, the ice cream shop features whimsical, turn-of-the-century décor and is located next to ESPN Club, overlooking Crescent Lake.

Tiffins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

    • May: Tiffins and Nomad Lounge opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This beautiful new restaurant and lounge are in the park’s Discovery Island area, with menus inspired by the world travels of the park’s creators (Tiffin is the Indian word for a lunchbox used by travelers and also the word for a mid-day meal). Walt Disney Imagineering describes the interior as “a gallery you can dine in with artwork that is a direct result of travels to Africa, Asia and South America.” The menu features global tastes and the beverage program focuses on sustainable, organic wines and bio-dynamic viticulture, as well as handcrafted cocktails and beers.

Reimagined Flying Fish at Disney’s BoardWalk

    • August: The reimagined Flying Fish reopened at Disney’s BoardWalk with a sophisticated interior that still pays homage to the golden era of seaside boardwalks. The interior features an all-new kitchen and dining room (with expanded space for private dining events), sparkling architectural accents, like golden-winged room panels and an impressive chandelier that mimics a school of flying fish swimming overhead. The menu focuses on the freshest seafood.

AbracadaBar at Disney's BoardWalk

  • August: AbracadaBar, the “curious cocktail lounge” that combines the Golden Age of Magic with the magic of Disney storytelling opened next door to Flying Fish on Disney’s BoardWalk. According to the storytelling of Walt Disney Imagineering, the lounge was once a secret stomping ground for famous touring magicians, local boardwalk illusionists and the loveliest magician’s assistants of the day.
  • September: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival expanded by almost two additional weeks – from 53 days to 62 – of deliciousness, foodie fun, culinary events, celebrity chefs, seminars, music concerts and more. For 2017, mark your calendar: August 31 through November 13 will be a record 75 days of global culinary creations, celebrity chefs, premium events, Eat to the Beat concerts, and more.
  • November: Festival of Holidays debuted at Disney California Adventure park, bringing with it 14 themed festival marketplaces, serving dishes inspired by the five holidays celebrated during the Festival of Holidays: Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Navidad and Three Kings’ Day.
  • November: PizzeRizzo opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Muppets Courtyard. Rizzo owns and operates the pizzeria, where guests can grab a pizza pie and a cold drink. Hints of the wisecracking Muppet Rizzo and his extended family and friends who have visited PizzeRizzo over the years are hidden throughout the two-story quick-service location.
  • November: Highway in the Sky Dine-Around debuted at Walt Disney World Resort – a moveable feast on the monorail with stops for cocktails, appetizers, dinner and dessert on the along the way. The dine-around gives guests priority boarding on the monorail for an unparalleled dining journey around the circuit among Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
  • December: The new Epcot International Festival of the Arts is announced, a brand new event at Epcot. Dates are Jan. 13 – Feb. 20, and it’s a trifecta of global masterpieces that combines visual, culinary and performing arts for six colorful weekends. While the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival strives for seasonal flavors, and the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is all about global cuisine, the Epcot International Festival of the Arts is all about works of art on a plate. At many of the Food Studios, guests will be able to watch the chefs plating and see the creative process as the dish comes to life.

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