Saturday, June 12, 2010

Because I Am Obsessed: the RWA 2010 Eating Guide

Okay, perhaps writing my RWA 2010 Planning post was a little early, because already I'm unhealthily excited about the upcoming National Conference, to the point where I'm taking myself on little 360 tours of the Swan and Dolphin Resort, as well as looking at the restaurant websites. Obsessed? Yes, maybe, but in the process of mentioning it on Twitter, I had requests to make a post about it to help out the newbies. So, you know what, why not?

Okay, this is mainly going to deal with the restaurants AT THE HOTEL. We're in the middle of Disneyworld so there are probably a gajillion more, but these are the ones that are located in the Swan and Dolphin. Remember, folks, RWA is giving us two luncheons, a dinner, and two breakfasts while on this conference so you won't always have to use a restaurant anyhow.

Ahem. The restaurants are as follows:

Shula's Steakhouse
Mmmmm, steak.
Open for: Dinner only, folks.
Price Level: Smoldering Desert Sheik - and he will definitely require you to perform certain tasks in his harem for a night out here.
People Who Will Hate It: Vegetarians and Vegans. Literally every entree and every appetizer has meat or fish in it. Two types of side salad and French onion soup are your only options.

El Mulino - New York
Italian food! They also have a kid's menu and a nice dessert menu.
Open for: Dinner only.
Price Level: Aristocratic Younger Son - yes, everything's on the wrong end of expensive - especially the entrees, but the pizzas, soups, appetizers, and antipasto aren't too bad and can be shared without a great deal of expense.
People Who Will Hate It: Folks who hate subtitled movies. Everything's in Italian, so you have to read the food descriptions.

Voted "Top Sushi Restaurant" by Orlando Magazine, and since this is a part of the world that's actually next to the ocean, I'm inclined to trust their judgment. Also - nightly karaoke!
Open for: Doesn't say - but I would assume dinner.
Price Level: Sexy Shape-Shifter - it depends. Ordering sushi individually can get ridiculously expensive, but their salads, platters, and sushi roll combos aren't bad.
People Who Will Hate It: People with violent seafood allergies.

Todd English's Bluezoo
I don't know who Todd English is - should I? This is apparently his restaurant. I guess he works here. I think. Anyhoo, given the name, this is primarily a seafood restaurant. Comes with a raw oyster bar.
Open for: Dinner only.
Price Level: Greek Tycoon - most entries are thirty bucks and up.
People Who Will Hate It: People with seafood allergies, and people looking for dessert who have nut allergies - nearly everything's served with peanut ice cream.

Garden Grove
A garden-themed restaurant - brightly-lit, nice green and yellow tones, with a giant tree in the middle! Suppers are served buffet-style, with different themes every night - Backyard BBQ, Mediterranean, Fisherman's Wharf, etc. Also, some Disney characters may show up on the weekends to make sure you're enjoying your omelette.
Open for: Breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Price Level: Up and Coming Lawyer - their breakfasts aren't bad, neither are their lunches, but their suppers (buffet-style) are steep - around thirty bucks a plate.
People Who Will Hate It: Fans of Menus.

Fresh Mediterranean Market
Fresh food inspired by the Mediterranean, use of seasonal vegetables, sounds pretty healthy and the place looks pretty and well-lit. Has what looks like a killer breakfast buffet.
Open For: Breakfast and lunch.
Price Level: Compassionate ER Doctor - breakfast's not bad, but lunch can be steep.
People Who Will Hate It: People with Nut allergies watch out - a lot of their breakfast foods are gussied up with almonds and pecans. Ask the servers for a nut-free alternative.

The Fountain - Eats and Sweets
This seems like a much more casual hang-out - burgers, salads, milkshakes - with an extensive ice cream menu.
Open For: Lunch and dinner.
Price Level: Hot Mechanic - finally! Prices are decent across the board. For a light lunch, you can have a nice soup for under five dollars.
People Who Will Hate It: Vegetarians, Vegans, the Lactose Intolerant and the Health Conscious. Yeah, it's a burger-barn, so if you're looking for something that's not fried or topped with chili, this might not be your gig. Also the desserts are primarily ice cream. Dessert-wise, while the nut-allergic should be wary (walnuts and peanuts present), there are nut-free options (soft serve and sorbet.).

Cabana Bar and Beach Club
If you're looking to chill out by the pool with a nice meal with friends - this is the place. Right next to the Dolphin lap pool. It's mainly seafood flavoured, but with other alternatives. Great kids' menu. Extensive cocktails!
Open For: It doesn't say, but I would suspect lunch and dinner.
Price Level: Handsome Preacher with a Secret Past - the meal menu prices are great, affordable food all around, but if you're looking for liquor, they will rob you blind.
People Who Will Hate It: People with Seafood Allergies should be wary, but there are options. Vegans and Vegetarians who don't eat fish will find few options.

The Splash Terrace
Another poolside restaurant to eat after you swim (or an hour before - remember your mother's advice!).
Open For: Doesn't say - I'm assuming lunch and dinner.
Price Level: The Intrepid Journalist - very affordable prices.
People Who Will Hate It: People with Seafood Allergies and Vegans. There are lovely vegetarian options (with cheese), though.

The other options are the quickie-cheapie places - Picabu, Splash Grill, and Java Bar. None of them display their menus or prices, but I'd expect an inexpensive fast food vibe from the first two, and a standard coffee and wrapped-pastries vibe from the third.

As for lounges, Shula's, El Mulino, Bluezoo, and Kimonos all have lounges - as does the lobby, called (unimaginatively enough) the Lobby Lounge.

Are these your only options? No - we're in the middle of Walt Disneyworld so there are lots of other restaurant options - particularly in Downtown Disney. But will I list them? No. Part of the fun of travelling is the exploration and surprise aspect of it - even for the over-planning me. No, this guide is for those who want to know firsthand what to expect from the conference hotel itself - so where to meet for get-togethers, where to eat between workshops, or where to eat when you don't want or have time to leave the hotel to look for other places.

Hope this helps!


  1. Holy Restaurant Batman!! Are all these at the Sword and Dolphin???? And I love the way you did your breakdown *g*

  2. I would also add that if you plan on doing the theme parks, there are a crap-load of places to eat at Epcot alone.

    And yes! Eat the meals RWA provides with your conference registration. Heck, you paid for them, might as well eat them :)

  3. Thanks for sharing this! (And I love your price break-down. :) )

    So far I've held off on doing the 360 tours, but I've had the tab open on my browser for weeks. LOL!

  4. sushi place is very good. Karaoke is fun there too.

    Blue Zoo (Todd English's place) very good but overpriced.

    Shula's -- excellent. But pricey and kitchy. Menu is on a football.

    Walk (5 mins) to Boardwalk (not a theme park) -- Flying Fish is excellent.

    You need to take a bus to get to Downtown Disney.

    We like Raglan Road, the Irish Pub there.

    Otherwise, meh.

    Have fun!!