Credit: Disney

Cook Up Some Magic

There are so many reasons to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World, and food is one of them. Emily Amato shared with Disney Parks Blog a sneak peek of a recipe you can find and some fun facts:

“Hiya, foodies! Can you believe “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” in honor of the 50th Anniversary at Walt Disney World Resort begins next week?! The 18 months of festivities will spotlight what’s made Walt Disney World so special for the past five decades, along with the magic of the future. Of course, Walt Disney World food, from the past and present, are key parts of the celebration. Starting next week, you’ll be able to cook up the magic from your own kitchen, with Delicious Disney: Recipes & Stories from the Most Magical Place on Earth by Pam Brandon, Marcy Carriker Smothers, and The Disney Chefs.

Credit: Disney

Today we’re giving you a sneak peek at one recipe you can find in the cookbook: the Empress Lilly au Gratin Potatoes. The Empress Lilly Riverboat, moored on the shores of what is now Disney Springs, was named for Walt’s wife Lillian, affectionately known as Lilly. The Riverboat welcomed guests for the first time on May 1, 1977, and Lilly attended the location’s dedication with five of her and Walt’s grandchildren. The Empress Lilly included three restaurants and a jazz lounge, with the Empress Room being the most elegant dining experience at Walt Disney World at the time. The Empress Lilly closed on April 22, 1995, and is now home to Paddlefish at Disney Springs.

Credit: Disney

Credit: Disney

Enjoy some of this fine dining from your home with the signature Empress Lilly Au Gratin Potatoes from Delicious Disney. Yum!

Credit: Disney

Serves 4

  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 1 cup half and half
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated onion, optional
  • 3 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake potatoes 50 to 60 minutes, or until soft enough to pierce with a fork. Refrigerate to cool, then peel and coarsely grate.
  2. Bring half and half almost to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add salt, pepper, celery salt, and onion. Mix in grated potatoes.
  3. Reduce oven heat to 350°F. Spoon potatoes into buttered 1-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until browned and bubbly.

Note: Always use caution when handling sharp objects. Please supervise children who are helping or nearby. This recipe has been converted from a larger quantity in the restaurant kitchens. The flavor profile may vary from the restaurant’s version. 

Click here for a print-at-home version of this recipe!

Delicious Disney: Recipes & Stories from the Most Magical Place on Earth will be available exclusively at and Walt Disney World beginning Sept. 28, 2021, just in time for “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.” And be sure to share any recipes you make at home on social with #DisneyWorld50.”


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About Tricia Kennedy

Tricia Kennedy lives in Orlando and loves having Walt Disney World pretty much in her backyard. She can be found at Disney several times a week. She will often stop by a park for an hour or two, but she also enjoys spending a whole day there with her friends. A lifelong Star Wars fan, Tricia especially enjoys Star Wars Weekends and has ridden Star Tours over 200 times. Tricia's other favorite thing is Disney's BoardWalk, where she can often be found taking a walk or watching the nightly street performers.