WDW Table Service Review: Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’
You must add Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ restaurant to your next Walt Disney World itinerary. Bless your heart; this is southern comfort food served with innovative style.
Michael and I booked a meal at this cozy Table Service Restaurant — Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ — located in Disney Springs.
Lunch at Homecomin’!
Repeat visitors may have noticed the subtle name change here. The restaurant debuted as Homecoming and then took on a more southern sound, Homecomin’. Indeed, Chef Art has brought his culinary skills back to his Floridian roots. In Jasper to the north of Disney World, Chef Art’s mom, Addie Mae, used local ingredients like sugar cane and citrus in her homemade recipes. You’ll find cake on the menu if you have room for dessert; Chef Art baked cakes for Central Foods in the 1981 Magic Kingdom college program. Welcome to Homecomin’!
An outdoor patio (and screened porch) welcomes guests to sit a spell while drinking beverages from Shine Bar.
Large Dining Table.
Beautiful view of Disney Springs from screened porch.
Inside, some of the rustic chandeliers boast the wonders of russet potatoes. I’m a starch, lovin’ spud fan so I was already digging the farmhouse ambiance.
Russet Potatoes. Yes, please!
With a late lunch reservation, we were seated quickly inside the quiet restaurant. As the dinner hour neared, the restaurant filled up and the noise level increased. Still, it was a relaxing meal with attentive service.
The dining room showcases local farmers.
You’ll notice that some tables offer pretty views of Disney Springs.
Tables in Dining Room.
Inside and outside, guests will find mentions of Florida Sunshine and local ingredients throughout the decor.
The open kitchen window.
While waiting for your table or prior to exiting the restaurant, look for personal artifacts adorned on the restaurant walls.
Letter from WDW to Chef Art Smith.
While the ambiance is comforting, the food also sets the mood for an experience to relish.
Homecomin’ Food and Beverages
Local farmers are key to the fresh ingredients showcased on the menu. As you’ll see, this restaurant’s menu is Florida-inspired.
Beverages include shine on tap, crafty moonshine, resort cocktails, wine, moonshine flights, and beer (drafts, cans, and bottles).
Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Beverage Menu.
My husband and I both ordered the Thigh High Chicken Biscuits as our entree.
Thigh High Chicken Biscuits
Drizzled with hot honey, three biscuits are filled with Chef Art’s famous fried chicken thighs plus bread and butter pickles. These were absolutely divine.
Thigh High Chicken Biscuits.
Drizzled in honey!
Typically, southern dinners showcase an assortment of sides that are usually no less delicious than the main course. The choices we made at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ did not disappoint. We opted to share the Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Momma’s Mac and Cheese. Both were easily shareable due to the hefty portions and rich flavors.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
These were a game-changer for both of us. We wondered throughout the meal how a simple dish like mashed potatoes could be elevated to such divine quality. Yes, they are as creamy as they are unforgettable.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes.
Look at that gravy!
Momma’s Mac and Cheese
Please, just order the mac and cheese. First of all, this dish is visually stunning; the family seated near us had to ask what it was so they could order it too.
And every forkful is filled with tender macaroni brimming with cheese.
Momma’s Mac and Cheese.
It’s impossible to describe the mouth-watering adventure that our taste buds were treated to during this meal. We both agreed that all three of our choices were some of the best food that we’ve ever tasted. We truly left wondering how these simple, southern specialties could be so different from anything we’ve previously tasted. Every bite was savored and yes, we’re going back for more very soon!
Recommendation and Tips
Portions are hearty. Share some or all elements of your meal.
Dine early to beat the crowds.
Order an appetizer as your entree; as a picky eater, I’m always a fan of restaurants with apps that are entree-worthy.
Ask your server about the restaurant, Chef Art Smith, and local ingredients. We found out that Chef Art Smith is as generous and kind in person as he is portrayed in the media.
Chef Art stops by about twice per month.
The restaurant features local farmers.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Ten Expedition Tips for Pandora
Pandora – The World of Avatar opened on May 27, 2017 in Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World. While fans of “Avatar” and the Animal Kingdom wondered how this mythical land would come alive, the unveiling of Pandora quieted the skeptics with out-of-this-world scenery. Nearly ten years after “Avatar” touched viewer’s hearts at cinemas, Pandora is now experiencing intense fandom.
With peak crowds rushing to Pandora and waits for Flight of Passage over two hours, I wanted to share these tips before you journey to this exotic land. Don’t miss a thing; Pandora is worth the effort!
It’s time to step inside the Valley of Mo’ara; here are your expedition tips:
Welcome to the Valley of Mo’ara.
FastPass Plus for Pandora Attractions
My Disney Experience and FastPass+ (FP+) are going to be your must-use tools for a visit to Pandora.
I recommend narrowing down your FastPass+ choices before your booking window opens. Book your Animal Kingdom day first, and grab any availability for Flight of Passage. If it’s not available on your first-choice touring day, go to your second choice, and so on. You can go back and edit your FastPasses and touring plans once you secure a FastPass for this incredible attraction.
Flight of Passage Queue.
What if you don’t secure a FastPass+ before your Walt Disney World Arrival day? Don’t panic. In fact, the same thing happened to us recently. I kept looking for availability and one popped up while we were at Walt Disney World. It was about midnight when I secured the FP+ for a late Animal Kingdom morning that was three days away. Score!
What if you are unable to reserve a FastPass for Flight of Passage? You have two options: one, plan to be at the Disney’s Animal Kingdom one hour before opening and put yourself in the swarm of early-risers headed for Flight of Passage. Two, enter the standy-by line about 60-90 minutes before park closing.
To appreciate Pandora’s beauty and excitement, it’s not necessary to see the film. However, your personal journey to Pandora will be somewhat richer after seeing the movie. Consider “Avatar” to be a familiarization travel video. Then, let yourself wander Pandora and experience the interactive power of nature.
The power of nature.
Visit Pandora Day and Night
Repeat visitors to Walt Disney World already know that many attractions should be seen in the daylight and after nightfall. However, this is absolutely a must for the bioluminescent world of Pandora.
You’ll see and hear details by day and by night that are of otherworldly beauty. Visually inventive, Pandora’s emotional resonance is memorable for the whole family.
Sample the Unique Food and Beverages at Pandora
Fortify your troops at Pandora’s Quick Service Restaurant — Satu’li Canteen.
The friendly expats working at Pongu Pongu have concocted some unique frozen cocktails. Get one with a glowing Unadelta Seed!
Pongu Pongu in Pandora.
Bonus Tips: Satu’li Canteen is a welcoming refuge from the elements. However, this place gets jam-packed by lunch time. A word of caution: signs note that tables are for the canteen’s patrons only. Really need a respite? Get a beverage and small snack!
Dining Room at Satu’li Canteen.
To save time, use Mobile Order to pre-order your meal at Satu’li Canteen.
Save time with Mobile Order.
Plus, you’ll want to see the morning “entertainment” here:
Yes, we did jump the “rocks”!
Avatar Flight of Passage – a Pandora Thrill Ride
Relive one of the film’s powerful scenes by taking your own flight atop a banshee. Imagineering marvels outdid themselves when they created this 3-D simulator. It’s a multi-sensory thrill ride like none other at Walt Disney World.
RDA – Mining the Universe, together
So, there are no disappointments, note before your visit that the minimum height for riders is 44 inches.
Na’vi River Journey through Pandora
Gently floating down this mysterious river, your reed boat will journey through exotic caves filled with wondrous plants and creatures. Through music, the Na’vi Shaman of Songs fills the rainforest with positive energy.
Watch the Weather on Pandora
Disney’s Animal Kingdom has always been the park that our family avoids on rainy days. It’s also a really tough park to tour in the Florida heat and humidity. While the park is lush with greenery, it’s difficult to find air-conditioned spots to recharge and dry areas to get out of storms. This is even more of a concern in Pandora.
On a recent visit, we had to wait for our FastPass+ time at Na’vi River Journey underneath a sparse tree that did little to keep us from getting soaked in the pouring rain. After the attraction, we found a hidden cave to escape the downpour and lightning. Yet, a lot of Pandora visitors were heading to Discovery Island to seek shelter. Expect long walks to find a place to take cover and be prepared with rain jackets or ponchos.
Shop at Windtraders
Even on Pandora, the main attraction, Flight of Passage, dumps you right into a gift shop. Or you can enter at your leisure.
Windtraders has an assortment of mystical treasures to take back to Earth. Look for items that glow in the dark, an Avatar Maker, Adopt a Banshee opportunities, and all kinds of souvenirs.
Take a souvenir back to Earth!
Be an Explorer
Informative Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE) guides can teach you Na’vi phrases, point out special plants and creatures, and answer your questions about this exotic land.
In this interactive world, find the creatures and plants that react when touched by a human. Will it light up, mist, or spit? You’ll only find out if you take time to explore!
Flaska Reclinata, near the entrance to Pandora, sprays a mist of spores when humans transfer their energy by touching it.
The landscaping is stunning!
Lush landscaping and floating mountains.
Bonus Tip: Look for two Wilderness Explorer stations in Pandora. Kids can begin Wilderness Explorers at any station throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom. These are fun and free activities for young trekkers.
Earn Wilderness Explorer Badges.
Visit During Extra Magic Hours for WDW Resort Guests
While you’ll be arriving Pandora with many other excited trekkers, Walt Disney World hotel guests can still get ahead of the masses by touring on a day that Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a scheduled morning Extra Magic Hour.
Explore nature in Pandora.
Bonus tip: Get a FastPass+ for later in the morning so that you can ride Flight of Passage twice!
With some advance planning, your adventure to Pandora can be stress-free.
Contact Us, Friend Us on Facebook, or comment below to share your tips for exploring Pandora. Let us know when you’ll be traveling to Pandora!
This week, I’m taking a look at some Walt Disney World throwbacks. These are things I miss at Walt Disney World. Each week, I’ll add three more items to my list. Some, like Wishes, were removed recently.
My first three Walt Disney World World Throwbacks are…
Chef Remy at Les Chefs de France
An adorable dinner guest, Chef Remy was at his best while visiting tables at Les Chefs de France in Epcot. This was one of my favorite dining experiences, however it ended in October of 2013.
The adorable Chef Remy
Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade
The Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade in Disney’s Hollywood Studios debuted in October 2001. My son’s first visit to WDW was January 2002, thus he grew up watching these floats go by.
Toy Story Float in Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade.
From our seats on the steps of the now-defunct Sounds Dangerous, he had fun waving to the characters. In fact, the variety of characters and fun motor vehicles made this afternoon entertainment a highlight of our Disney World visits.
Hi Mickey and Minnie!
R2-D2 rolled along the parade route! Unfortunately, this parade’s last run was in March 2008.
R2-D2 in the parade.
Mickey’s and Minnie’s Country Houses in Toontown Fair
While this was a small land in the Magic Kingdom, Toontown Fair offered kids and kids-at-heart the chance to tour the homes of Mickey and Minnie. These structures were removed to make way for an updated Fantasyland.
My son toured these houses with wide eyes throughout his younger years. He was fascinated with their homes and was always excited to see where the beloved mice lived. I miss the simplicity of these attractions. While simple, they were extraordinarily magical for children and their parents.
Touring Minnie’s Country House.
What’s in her fridge?
Kids flocked to Minnie’s oven to watch the cake that was baking inside.
Situated on a well-traveled corner of Main Street U.S.A. in Disney’s Magic Kingdom, the Main Street Confectionery is adored by first time visitors and repeat guests of Walt Disney World. Fashioned after a candy store from a bygone era, the sights and smells lure passersby during their morning, afternoon, and evening strolls.
Main Street Confectionery in the Magic Kingdom.
Did you know that this beautiful venue is sponsored by Smucker’s®?
J.M. Smucker’s is the sponsor of this venue.
Nostalgic sweets such as cotton candy, candy apples, and fudge are always available to curb your snack cravings. And this beloved candy shop is also known to debut all-new treats and new flavors of already popular snacks.
After making your purchases, take your treats outside and admire the creative window displays.
Main Street Confectionery Window Display.
Main Street Confectionery Window Display.
While waiting in line (yes, this place gets busy!), take a close look at the decor. For example, the art of chocolate making is showcased on several signs throughout the shop.
The art of chocolate making.
Or watch the Cast members as they create some of the amazing confections that are oh-so appealing.
Watch cast members make creative sweets.
Look for seasonal decor to add whimsical ambiance during holiday seasons.
Halloween at the Main Street Confectionery.
Best of all, step inside to admire (and taste test) the featured treats.
Rice Krispy Pumpkin Treats
Holiday Rice Krispy Treats in the Bakery Case.
Bakery and Candy Case
Mickey Macarons, sometimes in holiday colors, are delectable sweets to eat on-the-go.
Popular with many guests, candy apples are decorated before making their way to the candy cases. These creations are stunning. Candy apples are decorated with various candies and/or in festive themes.
Beautiful Candy Apples.
Watch your favorite treats being made.
Created with caramel, milk chocolate, Macadamia nuts and a dark chocolate Mickey piece, the Micky Macadamia Nut Cluster is sometimes featured in the confectionery cases.
Mickey Macadamia Nut Cluster.
Another option: Curb your sweet tooth with a marshmallow pop — Mickey-shaped, of course.
Mickey Marshmallow Pops.
During your visit, watch eye-catching cotton candy being spun by Cast Members, then purchase a fresh bag.
Cotton Candy Window.
Fresh cotton candy.
Kids and kids-at-heart love cotton candy.
Jolly Berry Strawberry Flossugar by Gold Medal is pre-mixed and boasts vibrant colors.
Flossugar for cotton candy making.
Another favorite theme park snack — popcorn! Scan the shelves for your favorite flavor or a new-to-you variety.
Now that you’ve chosen a delightful goodie, it’s time to find a nearby table. I love finding hidden nooks within the Magic Kingdom and highly recommend the side streets along Main Street U.S.A. for quaint seating during morning or late evening hours.
Find tables down this side street off of Main Street U.S.A.
Main Street Confectionery Tips
Ask to have your candy apple cut into bite size portions. Don’t forget to take pictures first!
Avoid the park closing rush and get your goodies earlier in the evening.
Utilize your snack credits if you are on the Disney Dining Plan.
Contact Us, Follow Us on Twitter, or comment below to share your must-have treat from the Main Street Confectionery.
For many reasons, you may have been unsure about your transportation needs. Maybe you didn’t reserve your flights to Orlando International Airport (MCO) yet or perhaps you decided against driving when you saw an airfare sale. At any rate, you now need to add complimentary motorcoach transportation between MCO and your WDW resort.
No worries! I want to share how you can easily add Disney’s Magical Express to an existing reservation.
First, if you are working with a travel agent, they can take care of it for you.
Add Disney’s Magical Express Service
If you are making your own travel plans, follow these simple steps:
Now that our family has made the exciting trek to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to explore the all-new Pandora – The World of Avator, it’s time to take a look at some of our latest Walt Disney World trip highlights. We discovered the treasures within this new land by day and by night, including a visit to Satu’li Canteen.
Pandora’s night time illumination is awe-inspiring.
During a quick walkabout to get more photographs, Michael and I surveyed the provisions available at Pandora’s Quick Service Restaurant — Satu’li Canteen.
As expected, the bounty grown in Pandora boasts fresh ingredients of wholesome grains, crunchy vegetables, and hearty proteins. Satu’li Canteen, therefore, features many health-conscious menu items that can be customized at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Upon arrival, you’ll first notice the outdoor seating area tucked inside the Quonset-hut.
Tables for Satu’li Guests only.
Indoor seating is also available. High chairs are stocked for smaller Pandora tourists.
Weary travelers will discover that the venue is now owned and operated by Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE). ACE is the sole provider of eco tours to Pandora from Earth. And you’ll be so glad that you took the tour!
Photos and letters are framed near the ordering queue.
Look for documents that explain the backstory of Satu’li Canteen, including a document signed by Marshall Lamm, ACE’s founder. Pictures show his successful efforts to partner with the Na’vi.
Backstory items are on display in the queue.
Upon closer inspection, Na’vi artifacts such as tapestries and cookware decorate the canteen.
Satu’li Canteen Decor.
Na’vi art and culture is celebrated throughout this former RDA (Resources Development Administration) mess hall. Look for Earth references as well.
Some equipment has been offworld tested.
Former mess hall for the Resources Development Administration (RDA).
Na’vi cultural influences.
Our first visit to Satu’li Canteen was for an early afternoon snack accompanied by thirst-quenching beverages. We needed a quick recharge and hydration as the summer heat was zapping our strength as we hiked through the Valley of Mo’ara.
Valley of Mo’ara.
My husband and I shared a Chocolate Cake, Pandoran Sunrise, and Diet Coke from the fast-casual menu. One of the nice perks of dining here — your food selections will be served on beautiful dishes with nice cutlery. After dining, return your Earthly materials to these bins.
Return dishes here.
The chocolate cake was quite airy. And while I wasn’t sure how the crunchy cookie layer would play out, it was an absolute winner. You’ll want to get some of that scrumptious banana cream topping and crunchy bottom in every bite.