Thursday, September 22, 2016

5 Ways To Spend Your Evenings AFTER the Parks Close

Hey there, Disney Fans!!!

    I hope everyone had a smooth transition into back-to-school season and is enjoying the heck out of a pumpkin spice something right about now! Now that we are in the "off-season" here in theme park world, (HALLELUJAH!), one of the very few negatives is that parks generally start closing earlier. So if you are visiting in off-season, what should you plan on doing to occupy your evenings? Here are five of my favorite ways to spend an evening, outside of the parks!

1. Make Dining An Event

     With so many awesome restaurants on Disney property, you could easily make an evening out of enjoying your dinner reservations. In fact, there are already some meals that include entertainment, like Disney's three dinner shows, The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Mickey's Backyard Barbecue at Fort Wilderness, and The Spirit of Aloha, (known to most Guests as "The Luau"), at the Polynesian Village Resort. These three shows each include not just your meal, but a fantastic musical, interactive show. They are fun for all ages, but do be aware that the only one that features characters is Mickey's Backyard Barbecue.

Amazing Irish Step Dancers at Raglan Road
     Speaking of characters, character dinners are available outside of the parks, in the following locations: 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian, Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary, and Garden Grove at the Swan. Kids will love having the opportunity to interact with The Mouse and friends OUTSIDE of "his house."

     Not into the character scene, but want some entertainment while you dine? Whispering Canyon Café at the Wilderness Lodge offers a goofy, interactive experience. The ESPN Club at the BoardWalk is the best place to catch a game. 'Ohana at the Polynesian has a strolling ukulele player, and hula lessons. Rainforest Café and T-Rex at Disney Springs have amazing scenes around you, with animatronics that come to life while you dine. Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village, offers some pretty unusual dinner companions... giraffes and zebras frolicking just outside of the windows.

     If live music is more your style, check out House of BluesBongos Cuban CafeParadiso 37, and Raglan Road, all at Disney Springs, and all have live musicians onsite. Raglan Road even has Irish Step Dancers!

     And even if you aren't looking for "dinner and a show", there are so many fantastic restaurants to choose from, you are sure to find something you will love! The agents here at Kingdom Konsultant Travel are happy to help book whatever dining arrangements you would like!

2. Everybody Do The Monorail Hop!
The Grand lobby

     I love visiting the resorts on the monorail line, (the Contemporary, Polynesian Village and the Grand Floridian), especially at Christmastime when they are all decked out in their holiday finest. Even if it's not holiday season though, it's fun to see the resorts' different theming, shop in their gift shops, have a cocktail, or check out any live entertainment taking place, like the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra. In fact, many adult Guests have taken to doing a Monorail Pub Crawl, stopping off at the various bars in the monorail resorts.

     Been there, done that? Check out some of the other resorts! The Swan and Dolphin, the BoardWalk, and the Yacht and Beach Clubs are all within walking distance of one another. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of my very favorite resorts to visit, since you can relax on one of the many balcony areas and gaze down at the gorgeous African animals on the savanna.

A gorgeous view of the BoardWalk at Christmastime
     Visiting Disney resorts can provide hours of fun for your family. Just keep in mind that some amenities are reserved solely for Guests staying at those resorts, especially the pool areas.

3. Carriage Rides, Mini-Golf and Campfires (and Movies), Oh My!

     Both Fort Wilderness and Port Orleans Riverside host carriage rides through some of their quieter and more scenic areas. It's a nice way to have a romantic date night, or to take the kiddos out to do something quiet and fun. Carriage rides are about $45 and each carriage can hold up to 4 adults, or 2 adults and 3 small children. Reservations are recommended, and can be made through your travel agent.

Mini-golf at Winter Summerland is a blast!
     Disney has two awesomely fun places to mini-golf. Fantastia Gardens is located across the street from The Walt Disney World Swan Resort. There are two courses. One is a traditional mini-golf course, with the characters from Disney's Fantasia creating obstacles for your ball. The second course is called "The Fairways", and it is MUCH more challenging, and not quite as fun for kids, since it has sand traps and water hazards, and no characters shooing your ball along. At the second mini-golf location, Winter-Summerland, it's Christmas all year round! One course shows off what it's like to celebrate Christmas in July and has sandmen instead of snowmen. The second course shows Christmastime in the snow, and each hole has a different wintery scene. Unlike Fantastia Gardens, both courses here are equally fun and family-friendly.

     Over at Fort Wilderness, you can sit around a campfire with those zany chipmunks, Chip and Dale, and sing-a-long to campfire songs, roast marshmallows, and then enjoy a movie under the stars! But that isn't the only place you can watch an outdoor movie. In fact, most Disney resorts offer "dive-in" movies, on a blow up screen, right next to the pool. It's a cool way to enjoy your favorite Disney films.

4. Stroll the Showplace of the Shore, The Vacation Sensation, Where There's Timeless Fun for Everyone!

Welcome home to The BoardWalk!
     The BoardWalk doesn't get nearly the attention that it deserves, in my opinion. If you've never been, it's a gorgeous resort, themed to a 1920's Atlantic City-esque beach hotel. It's nestled along Crescent Lake, right behind Epcot, and directly across from the Yacht and Beach Clubs. It's SO much more than just a resort, though! The property has four great restaurants, Flying Fish Cafe (fine dining), Trattoria al Forno (moderate Italian), The ESPN Club (casual sports bar), and Big River Brewing Works (casual micro-brewery). There are also great grab and go spots, including a pizza windowa fantastic bakery, (the Peanut Butter, Banana and Candied Bacon Pie is a must!), an ice cream shop and outdoor carts with hot dogs, funnel cakes and more.

     Once you are well-fed, you can be sporty, and take a run around the almost mile long loop surrounding the lake, (or stroll at a leisurely pace, like I do), or even rent a surrey bike for 2, 4 or 6 Guests. Trust me, they are WAY more challenging than they look, but a whole lot of fun! You'll crack up for years, thinking of Auntie Susan getting out and trying to push your bike up the hill.

     Want to have a drink and enjoy some adult-only fun? Jellyrolls is a dueling piano bar that gets Guests raising their glasses and singing along to their favorite tunes. Atlantic Dance Hall hosts a DJ dance party every night, though it's usually not a very busy place. The building is beautiful though, and the balconies have a great view of IllumiNations at Epcot. Atlantic Dance holds a special place in my heart, since I used to frequent this location in the early 2000's during the swing music revival. They used to host nightly dance lessons and then live swing bands. It was the perfect use of that space. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that swing music will come back around again and revive Atlantic Dance. Anyway, if you live to support your favorite team, you'll love catching a game at The ESPN Club, where there are screens everywhere, including in the bathroom stalls. They even host live radio sports shows on some days! And don't forget to check out the brand new Abracadabar, which is a unique and fun bar, with a backstory involving this place being the hangout of old timey magicians and illusionists. Many of the drinks are served with a bit of magic!

     If you're looking for something more family friendly, you can stroll the BoardWalk in the hours leading up to IllumiNations, (7-9pm), and catch one of the live performances of magicians and dare devil acts. Then, at 9pm, when it's time for IllumiNations, head down toward Atlantic Dance and stand just outside, to get the best view of the high fireworks from the show.

     The BoardWalk is a really fun way to spend a night, and not nearly as busy as Disney Springs.

5. Discover the NEW Disney Springs!

Shopping options abound
at Disney Springs!
     Disney Springs, (formerly known as Downtown Disney), has over 80 different venues onsite of shopping, dining and entertainment for the whole family.

     Unique shopping experiences are all over, including The LEGO StoreDisney Design-A-TeeOrlando Harley Davidson and United World Soccer. If you need to do some last minute gift shopping, World of Disney is the largest of all of the Disney gift shops, and there isn't much that you can't find there! Plus the whole new Town Center section is full of upscale shopping from stores like Vera Bradley and Tommy Bahama.

     Dining options include some of the best restaurants in all of Orlando, like The BoathouseWolfgang Puck CaféFulton's Crab House, Homecoming and Raglan Road. There's all different styles of cuisine and all different types of restaurants to choose from!

Grab a Canadian snack, eh?
Blaze Pizza is quick, delicious and reasonably priced.
The kiddos will love eating with the dinos.
     If you are looking for something fun to do while you eat, check out Splitsville, where you can bowl or play pool, as well as catch a tasty bite. Enjoy dinner and a movie at AMC's Fork and Screen Dine-In Movies. Or if you already ate, you can still catch a flick on one of the 24 screens. For the next few months, you can still visit DisneyQuest, Disney's indoor, interactive theme park. There are games here ranging from old school Pac-Man and Ski Ball machines, to Virtual Space Mountain, where you can create and ride your own virtual coaster. DisneyQuest is a lot of fun, but it will be closing it's doors in 2016, to make way for the all new NBA Experience, so enjoy it while you still can!

Awesome views from the Coca-Cola Experience rooftop bar.
     See one of the very best shows I have ever experienced, Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba, in their permanent location at Disney Springs. This show is an Orlando exclusive and is loved by Cirque and Disney fans alike. Don't assume you're going to see Disney characters, or hear Disney music, though. The show has no tie in to Disney at all, but it is mesmerizing and beautiful and the music will be stuck in your head for weeks later. I should know. I have seen it 14 times, and would go again tonight if someone gave me a ticket.

     Get one of the best views of Disney property money can buy, at a relatively low cost, when you board Characters in Flight... if you can stomach the height, and the swaying. If you've been to Disney at all in the past 6 years, you have seen the huge red and yellow balloon floating above Disney Springs. A ride in the balloon will give you the chance to view miles and miles in every direction and you can take some really fantastic pictures. If you time it right, you may even catch a view of some fireworks! Flights are, of course, subject to weather conditions.

Characters in Flight soars over Disney Springs


     Of course, these are only 5 of the many, MANY things you could do. There's always evening spa or salon appointments, resort arcades, swimming in your resort's pool, working out in one of the fitness centers, or just plain hittin' the hay early, so that you can get a nice head start into the parks the next day. (Or to then sleep in late the next morning too. I won't judge.) The point is, parks closing early doesn't mean less fun for you as a Guest. It means a wider array of things to choose from and hopefully getting to experience something new to you. I, for one, am THRILLED that we are in the least busy month of the year. To us locals and Guests that are lucky enough to visit this month,  It's the mooost wonderful tiiiime of the yeeeeaaarrrr! Enjoy off-season, folks!

- Jenn aka "Tink"

Thursday, September 15, 2016

5 Tips to Make Your Character Experience More Magical

Hey there, hi there, ho there, guys and gals!

Doc took the Littles for a stroll
     Today I want to talk to you about characters, and specifically how to maximize your interactions with the characters and make them as enjoyable and memorable as possible. Take it from someone who still tears up almost every time she is in the presence of a larger-than-life animated mouse... Meeting a favorite Disney character can be an Earth-shattering experience to a kid, (or even someone who once was a kid). It may seem like something that doesn't need a whole lot of explanation or preparation, but there are absolutely ways that you can make or break your experience interacting with the characters. Allow me to shed some light. Here are my top tips on having an awesome character experience:

1. Take It From Scar... Be Prepared (You just sang that, didn't you?)

     There are super fun ways to prepare for meeting the characters before your trip, including watching movies featuring some of the most beloved characters. You could even do a countdown to your trip, by watching a different Disney film each week. Some of the most useful options? Dumbo, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Star Wars films, Frozen, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, the Toy Story films, Monsters Inc, Lion King, Bug's Life, Finding Nemo, and so many more!

K and Max, taking a quick nap.
     Another fun activity is to make your own autograph book. Rather than buy a generic, (and costly), book at the parks, why not buy a small, spiral-bound sketch pad at your local craft store, and have fun decorating the cover and personalizing it to your child's style. If you're feeling super crafty, you could even decorate the pages with stamps and stickers that are specific to the different characters that you want to see. (Kudos to you if you are motivated enough to do this!)

     If you want to create a really unique keepsake, rather than just bringing an autograph book, you could bring a white t-shirt, a white baseball cap or visor, a blank mat for a frame, or a Disney book or poster for your favorites to sign. (Bear in mind, though, that Disney characters cannot sign any printed or logoed items that are not official Disney merchandise. Don't think you're going to get your Minions t-shirt signed by Pluto, or the "Diznee" t-shirt that you bought at Walgreens on 192 autographed by Ariel.)

Bolt gets down at a dance party
     Once you are onsite, and about to meet your first character, get yourself organized while you're in line. Have your cameras/phones and autograph books all out, and ready to go. Open your book to the next blank page. Have your pens uncapped, and ready. Sharpies work best, and Mickey's gloves make it challenging to open marker caps, so help a mouse out. Know in advance who is taking the picture and who is posing. If you absolutely MUST have one shot of just the girls, then one of just the boys, then one of The Smiths, then one of the Joneses, be organized about it, and be considerate of those that are waiting. Don't make Cinderella tell you she's going to miss the ball if you don't hurry the heck up.

     And absolutely take advantage of the services of the PhotoPass Photographers! The Memory Maker package is TOTALLY worth the money. The photogs have great cameras and capture really beautiful pictures that we wouldn't be able to snap ourselves, and your WHOLE family can be in every shot, including you! Plus, it gives you the chance to enjoy watching your kids meet the characters without having to watch the whole thing on the tiny screen of your phone, while you snap pics.

     You'll also help yourself a lot by knowing where and when you can meet the characters. This is very easy to do nowadays, since right on the My Disney Experience App, you can see the list of character appearances in each park and the times that they will be there. Technology. Woah. But if you don't have the app, or don't get along with technology, you can ask a Cast Member to help you out. There's a hotline that they can call and find out the meet and greet times of any character you want to see. And ALWAYS be ready for the fact that appearances are subject to change at any time. You might want to use language with your kids like, "If Donald's not busy when we get there...", and, "I hope we get to see Doc McStuffins, but it'll depend on how many patients she has!"
K and his favorite lady, Mulan, sharing the secrets of the Hun army. This pic
came out SO much better than the one I took on my phone! SO glad we have
Memory Maker with our annual passes!

     One of the BEST ways to see characters, and make sure you get enough time with each, is to book a character dining meal. There are options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with various sets of characters including Lilo and Stitch, Princesses, Mickey and the Gang, Pooh and Friends, and more. The awesome travel planners over at Kingdom Konsultant Travel can help you book whichever meals you'd like to include in your trip. Check out the choices, HERE.


Squeezes from Doc!

2. Please, Disney Fan, Don't Hurt 'Em

     Try and remember that the characters have... how shall we say this???? A soul inside. All of the characters have a "soul" and that "soul" is fragile. You should never pull, push, tickle, pinch, fondle, or try to manipulate a character. You could be creating a very dangerous situation for the "soul" inside. Remember that lines of sight are limited, as is range of motion, so make sure that a character is aware that a little one is present, and standing underneath them, in order to avoid a trampling. Have a conversation with your kids in advance that they should never touch a character, other than to hug or high five them. Don't ever let them touch a character's face, honk their nose, poke their eyes, kick their sensitive areas, etc. (Yeah, I shouldn't have to say that, but it happens.)

3. Characters May Appear Larger In Person

"Woah, Tigger, you're TALL!"
A rare encounter with Tarzan
     Let's face it. The characters can be scary to many kids. (And don't even get me started on the villains! I am afraid of Jafar, to this day.) They are large, brightly colored, and usually silent. This can be very intimidating. If it's the first time your little ones are meeting Goofy, you approach Goofy first. Give him a hug, and show them how docile the old dog is. If they are little enough, and they are nervous, hold your child for their first encounterDon't force them to hug a character. Let them just high five them. If you scare them on their first meet and greet, it'll be MUCH harder to get them to even be in a photo with any other characters. If your kiddos are very nervous, you may also want to try starting with a "face character". (Any character that is an actual human, like Cinderella, Peter Pan, Rapunzel, Ariel, Tarzan, Prince Charming, etc.) Or see the characters for the first time in a non-meet-and-greet setting, like in a parade or show. That way, your little guy can size them up before he's forced to interact with them. Ultimately, let your kid tell you what they are comfortable with, and don't push it further until they are ready.

4. Put All Those Viewings of 'Frozen' To Good Use

Mary asking K if he has
seen Burt around anywhere.
     By now, I bet you know Elsa and Anna's entire backstory. You know all of the outfits that they wear, the songs that they sing, the other characters that they interact with, and maybe even their favorite foods. (FYI, the icy sisters love chocolate!) So USE what you know! This applies in two ways. Firstly, when a character is trying to communicate with your littles by signing and using their language of charades, throw them a bone. Yes, there's usually a greeter there, who can help tell your child what that character wants to communicate, but if not, be prepared to step in and help your kid understand that Minnie making a heart sign and pointing at their Mickey t-shirt is her trying to tell your kid that she loves Mickey. When Snow White asks your shy daughter for her name, make sure you are close enough to hear this, and help Snow out. It will make your experiences so much richer.

D and Tiana chat about where Naveen and Louis are.
     Going hand in hand with that, is that you should be able to prep characters with relevant information when you can. Here's an example: You're about to meet Peter Pan, whom your daughter loves. She has just played Wendy in her school play and she adored meeting Peter on your Disney Cruise last year. While your daughter is saying her initial hellos, chime right in, "We are SO excited to see you again, Peter! We met you on the cruise last year and have been talking about you ever since. In fact, Sarah just played Wendy in her school play!" What is likely to happen is that rather than having a generic conversation with your kid, Peter now has the ability to say, "I'm so excited to see you again, Sarah! You got so tall since the cruise! Were you as good of a Wendy as MY Wendy?" And , BOOM, your child's mind is BLOWN! Now, I'm not saying ALL character experiences will be like this, but your chances of having something memorable and wonderful happen are SO much better if you do this! I told Tiana about how D got to choose her own middle name, and she named herself after her hero, Tiana, and well, that princess's expression completely changed. She was beside herself and understood how special this moment was to my little girl. She sat with D and talked all about Naveen, and told her to make sure she stayed away from the Shadow Man. D still talks about her first meeting with Tiana all the time.

5. Don't Rain On Anyone's 3 O'clock Parade

D and K catch up with their friend, Belle. 
     This is the MOST IMPORTANT tip I can offer! Please, please, remember that these aren't "people in suits". There is no need to ask, "Are you a boy, or a girl, Dale?" And please don't say, "Must be hot in there!" Repeat after me: THERE IS ONLY ONE MICKEY MOUSE. For the love of all things Walt, PLEASE don't say out loud to your kids, your friends, or anyone else anything to the contrary. We are all here because we believe in the magic, right? Or at least because we want to for a little while. So don't ruin it for your kids, or mine.

     Chances are, if you go to Story Time With Belle, the well-read princess may look a little different if you then go to have dinner with her at Cinderella's Royal Table. Kids remember faces, so if it's all in one day, one trip, or even if you have been to Disney recently, plan accordingly. Try not to see the same "face characters" more than one time per trip, to avoid questions from the kiddos about how Jasmine gained a few pounds overnight, or how Tinkerbell's voice changed.

     Don't ever forget to do one very important thing... Have FUN!!! Let yourself be that kid that we all turn into at Disney. Laugh at yourself. Let Mr. Incredible mess up your hair. Dance with Phineas and Ferb. Don't get grumpy when Dopey steals your hat. (See what I did there?) Enjoy yourself and enjoy being among the characters. If you can't have fun at Disney, where you can hug a pants-less, honey-loving Pooh-bear, or practice your monster roar with a lime green eyeball with arms and legs, then where the heck CAN ya have fun????

     Have a blast and make your day a MAGICAL one!

- Jenn aka "Tink"

Saturday, September 10, 2016

2016 Epcot Food and Wine Info and Full MENUS!!!

Hello there, Disney fans!
     Well, it's time to write one of my very favorite posts of the year... the announcing of the details, (and MENUS!), of Epcot's 2016 International Food and Wine Festival! Along with Holidays Around the World and Flower and Garden, Food and Wine is one of the top highlights on the Walt Disney World calendar and one event that I personally am SO excited to attend! It's a delicious and exciting culinary adventure around the world that anyone that likes food, (and who doesn't????), or alcohol, (again...), is sure to love. Let's check out what's new and exciting this year, as well as what old favorites will be returning! 
     Did you know that at Food and Wine, you can catch some of the most fun concerts from famous artists of days gone by, try amazing bites and sips, AND learn culinary tricks of the trade from some of the top chefs in the industry? Well, you can! And this year is set to be better than EVER! Here's why...
     First of all, this year's Food and Wine Festival will be the longest running yet, with two full months to enjoy the festivities. The festival officially opens on September 14th and will run through November 14th.
Eat to the Beat Concerts
This year's festival is truly going to ROCK because the concert lineup for the Eat to the Beat concerts looks awesome, including a few brand new acts! Check it out:
  • September 14th-15th – Wang Chung (“Everybody Have Fun Tonight") NEW!!!!
  • September 16th-18th – Starship with Mickey Thomas (“We Built This City”)
  • September 19th-20th – Air Supply (“I'm All Out of Love")
  • September 21st-23rd – BoDeans (“Good Things") NEW!!!!
  • September 24th-25th – Fuel (“Hemorrhage")
  • September 26th-28th – Sugar Ray (“Fly")20151016_173303
  • September 29th-30th – Los Lobos (“La Bamba")
  • October 1st-2nd – David Cook from American Idol (“Light On")
  • October 3rd-4th – Wilson Phillips (“Hold On")
  • October 5th-6th – Blues Traveler (“Run Around")
  • October 7th-9th – Plain White T's (“Hey There Delilah") NEW!!!
  • October 10th-11th – 38 Special (“Hold On Loosely")
  • October 12th-13th – Jeffrey Osborne (“On the Wings of Love") NEW!!!
  • October 14th-16th – Tiffany (“I Think We're Alone Now")
  • October 17th-19th – Dennis DeYoung: Music of STYX (“Come Sail Away")FoodnWineTori
  • October 2oth-21st – Christopher Cross (“Sailing")
  • October 22nd-23rd – Toad the Wet Sprocket (“All I Want") NEW!!!
  • October 24th-25th – Chaka Khan (“I'm Every Woman")
  • October 26th-27th – Billy Ocean (“Caribbean Queen")
  • October 28th-29th – Living Colour (“Cult of Personality")  NEW!!!
  • October 30th-November 1st – Hanson (“MMMBop")
  • November 2nd-3rd – Soul Asylum (“Runaway Train") NEW!!!
  • November 4th-6th – Delta Rae (“Run") NEW!!!
  • November 7th-9th – Boyz II Men (“Motown Philly")
  • November 10th-11th – Sister Hazel (“All For You")
  • November 12th-14th – Big Bad VooDoo Daddy (“Go Daddy-O")
     Awesome, right??? Keep in mind, of course, that all entertainment is subject to change, but typically the shows stay pretty much as is. Each concert night, three shows are performed, one at 5:30pm, one at 6:45pm and one at 8pm. And the best part about these concerts? They are included with park admission! (Though, as they have in previous years, dining packages will be available, which include a meal at your selected restaurant, and priority seating at one of the concerts. For more information, contact Kingdom Konsultant Travel.)
Global Markets (aka: "The Booths")
Probably the most popular reason to be at the Festival is for the Global Marketplaces, 29 kiosk booths, located all around the park, selling snack sized food items and sample sized drinks, alcoholic and non. Each booth has either a cultural theme, (like Patagonia or Australia), or a culinary theme, (like Brewer's Collection or Chocolate Studio). This year's menus look AMAZING!!!! Get ready to salivate while we check 'em out! 
(BLUE marks a Food Item, while RED marks beverages.)
  • Buttered Chicken with Micro Cilantro and Naan Bread
  • Berbere-style Beef Tenderloin Tips with Onions, Jalapenos, Tomatoes and Pap
  • Simonsig Pinotage
  • Indaba Chenin Blanc
  • Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz
  • Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies
  • Lamington: Yellow Cake dipped in Chocolate and Shredded Coconut
  • Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp with Pineapple, Peppers, Onions and Sanp Peas
  • Yangarra Estate Vineyard Shiraz
  • Bulletin Place Unoaked Chardonnay
  • Coopers Brewery Extra Strong Vintage Ale
  • Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Dry Riesling 
  • Beer-Braised Beef served with Smoked Gouda Mashes Potatoes
  • Belgian Waffle with Berry Compote and Whipped Cream
  • Belgian Waffle with Warm Chocolate Ganache and Whipped Cream
  • Hoegaarden Witbier
  • Leffe Blonde Belgian Pale Ale
  • Stella Artois Hard Cider
  • Pao de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread
  • Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans and Tomatoes
  • Escondidinho de Carne: Layered Meat Pie with Mashed Yucca
  • Kaiser Brewery Xingu Black Beer
  • Carnaval Moscato Sparkling White Wine, Serra Gaucha
  • Frozen Caipirinha featuring LeBlon Cachaca
  • Schofferhofer Zitrone Weizen-Mix
  • Hacker-Pschorr Hefe Weisse
  • Radeberger Zwickle Pilsner (Unfiltered)
  • Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup, served with Pretzel Roll
  • "Le Cellier" Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce20151002_123339
  • Moosehead Lager
  • Neige Premier Apple Ice Wine, Quebec
  • Fielding Estate Red Conception
  • Ricotta and Zucchini Ravioli with Rustic Tomato Sauce
  • Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots and Feta Cheese
  • Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle
  • Festival Chardonnay, CA
  • Festival Cabernet Sauvignon, CA
  • Chicken Pot Stickers20150924_120622
  • Sichuan Spicy Chicken
  • Black Pepper Shrimp with Garlic Noodles
  • Beijing Roasted Duck in a Steamed Bun with Hoisin Sauce
  • Tsingtao Lager
  • Strawberry Plum Wine Cooler with Takara Plum Wine
  • Ritzy Lychee with Courvoisier Cognac VS Smirnoff Vodka
  • Kung Fu Punch with Smirnoff Vodka and Bols Triple Sec
  • Happy Peach with Dekuyper Peach Liquor and Myers's Dark Rum
  • Mango Bubble Tea with Assam Black Tea and Milk
  • Red Wine Chocolate Truffle
  • Ghirardelli Chocolate Raspberry Torte
  • Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel
  • Fonseca Bin No. 27 Port
  • Justin Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Rosa Regale Sweet Sparkling Wine
  • Blandy’s Alvada 5yr-Old Madeira
  • Pimento Cheese Dip with Pretzel Crisps
  • Charcuterie Plate with Country Pâté, Cured Meats and Crostini
  • Piggy Wings - Fried Pork Wings with Korean BBQ Sauce and Sesame Seeds
  • Orlando Brewing OTown Weiss, Orlando, FL
  • Florida Beer Company Passport 20 Belgian-Style Tripel Ale, Cape Canaveral, FL
  • Two Henrys Blueberry Vanilla American Wheat Ale, Plant City, FL
  • Concrete Beach Stiltsville Pilsner, Miami, FL
  • 3 Daughters Bimini Twist IPA, St. Petersburg, FL
  • Shipyard Midnight Snack Milk Stout, Clearwater, FL
  • Beer Flights 
  • Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin “Yellow Label” Brut
  • Dom Pérignon Brut
  • Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé
  • Moët & Chandon Ice Impérial
  • Hard Soda Floats with Vanilla Soft-Serve (alcoholic): Best Damn Hard Root Beer Float, Sprecher Hard Cherry Cola Float or Sprecher Hard Orange Cream Soda Float
  • Soda Floats with Vanilla Soft-Serve (non-alcoholic): Coca-Cola Float, Grape Fanta Float or Strawberry Fanta Float
  • Chicken and Dumplings: Stewed Chicken with Mushrooms and Spinach
  • Pickled Beet Salad with Herbed Goat Cheese, Minus 8 Vinaigrette and Toasted Walnuts
  • Loaded Mac ‘n' Cheese with Nueske's Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers and Green Onions20150924_122600
  • Woodchuck Raspberry Hard Cider
  • Wyder's Dry Pear Hard Cider
  • Two Henrys Elderberry Hard Cider
  • Florida Orange Groves Mango Mama Wine
  • Croissant aux Escargots: Escargot Croissant with Garlic and Parsley20151002_130030
  • Soupe à l’oignon au Gruyère et Cognac: Gruyère and Cognac Onion Soup
  • Boeuf Bourguignon: Cabernet Sauvignon-braised Short Ribs with Mashed Potatoes
  • Crème Brûlée Caramel Chocolat: Caramel and Chocolate Crème Brûlée topped with Caramelized Sugar
  • Kronenbourg Blanc 1664 Pale Lager
  • Chardonnay, Bourgogne Blanc, Mommessin, La Clé Saint-Pierre
  • Merlot & Cabernet Blend, Bordeaux, Château les Graves de Barrau
  • St-Germain Sparkling Kir: Sparkling Wine and St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • Frozen Daiquiri Ice Pop: Strawberry Puree with French Caribbean Rhum Clément
  • La Passion Martini Slush: Vodka, Grey Goose Le Citron Vodka, Cranberry and Passion Fruit Juice
  • Roast Bratwurst in a Hard Roll
  • Schinkennudeln: Pasta Gratin with Ham and Cheese
  • Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce

  • Radeberger Zwickel Pilsner (Unfiltered)
  • J&H Selbach Bernkasteler Kurfürstlay Riesling Kabinett, Mosel
  • Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Mosel
  • J&H Selbach Bernkasteler Kurfürstlay Riesling, Mosel
  • Spanakopita
  • Loaded Greek “Nachos”: Pita Chips, Meatless Sausage Crumbles and Vegan Tzatziki
  • Chicken Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce featuring Oikos Greek Yogurt
  • Oikos Greek Yogurt Vanilla Cake Soaked in Ouzo with Yogurt Whipped Cream and Pistachios
  • Domaine Skouras Moscofilero
  • Domaine Siglas Assyrtiko
  • Alpha Estate Axia Syrah Xinomavro
  • Spicy Tuna Poke with Seaweed Salad and Nori Rice
  • Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise
  • Florida Orange Groves Sparkling Pineapple Wine
  • Kona Brewing Company, Big Wave Golden Ale
  • Mai Tai featuring Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum
  • New England Lobster Roll20151016_181954
  • Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese served on Griddled Garlic Toast
  • Freshly Baked Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Icing
  • Samuel Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA, Boston, MA
  • Anchor Brewing Liberty Ale, San Francisco, CA
  • Dogfish Head Chicory Stout, Milton, DE
  • La Crema Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
  • Cambria Estate Winery Benchbreak Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County
  • Frozen Orange-spiked Tea featuring Florida Cane “Orlando Orange” Vodka
  • Seafood Fisherman's Pie
  • Irish Cheese Selection Plate: Irish Cheddar, Dubliner and Irish Porter
  • Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard
  • Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale
  • Bunratty Meade Honey Wine
  • Twinings Pumpkin Chai Tea Frozen Cocktail with Caramel Vodka
  • Twinings Pumpkin Chai Tea and Caramel Shake (Non-alcoholic)
  • Jamaican Beef Patty
  • Mojo Pork with Black Beans, Cilantro Rice and Pickled Red Onions
  • Pescado con Coco: Seared Grouper, Pigeon Peas and Rice with Coconut Sauce
  • Quesito: Puff Pastry with Sweetened Cream Cheese and Guava Sauce
  • Presidente Pilsner
  • Frozen Mojito
  • Caribbean Sangria
  • Pennete alla Parmigiana: Baked Ziti and Chicken Parmigiana, Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese
  • Spezzatino alla Toscana con Polenta: Tuscan-style Stew with Carrots, Mushrooms and Crispy Polenta
  • Cannoli al Cioccolato: Chocolate-covered Cannoli filled with Sweet Ricotta, Chocolate and Candied Fruit
  • Moretti Lager
  • Moretti La Rossa Double Malt Beer
  • Pinot Grigio, Placido
  • Chianti, Placido
  • Prosecco, Fantinel Borgo
  • Corbinello Spumante Dolce Rose, Montegrande
  • Fior d’Arancio Moscato Spumante, Montegrande
  • Frozen Margarita with Limoncello and Tequila
  • Spicy Sushi Roll: Tuna and Salmon with Kazan Volcano Sauce
  • Grilled Spicy Edamame tossed with Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce and Chili Powder
  • Garlic Shrimp: Marinated Shrimp sautéed with Garlic and Butter and served over Rice
  • Kirin Pale Lager
  • Sapporo Black Lager
  • Pineapple Breeze Sake Cocktail
  • Echigo “Northern Bloom” Junmai Sake
  • Taco de Camarón: Battered Shrimp served over a Flour Tortilla with Crispy Purple Cabbage and Chipotle Mayonnaise
  • Barbacoa Enchilada: Corn Tortilla filled with Beef Barbacoa and covered with Oaxaca Mole
  • Flan de Chocolate Abuelita: Mexican Chocolate Custard
  • Bohemia Pilsner with Floater
  • Mexican-style Red Sangria
  • Mezcal Pineapple Margarita on the Rocks
  • Jalapeño Margarita on the Rocks
  • Kefta Pocket: Seasoned Ground Beef in a Pita Pocket
  • Spicy Hummus Fries with Cucumber, Tomato, Onions and Tzatziki Sauce
  • Chocolate Baklava: Rolled Phyllo Dough with Toasted Almonds and Dark Chocolate Sauce
  • Casa Pale Lager
  • Les Trois Domaines Guerrouane White Wine
  • Moroccan Sangria
  • Mimosa Royale: Sparkling Wine and Orange Juice topped with Orange Liqueur
  • Lamb Meatball with Spicy Tomato Chutney
  • Steamed Green Lip Mussels with Garlic Butter and Toasted Breadcrumbs
  • Seared Venison Loin with Wild Mushroom Marsala Sauce and Kumara Dumpling
  • Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir
  • Kim Crawford Pinot Gris
  • Mohua Sauvignon Blanc
  • Beef Empanada
  • Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée
  • Roasted Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri
  • Verum Pinot Noir
  • Bodega Noemía A Lisa Malbec
  • Golabki: Pork-stuffed Cabbage in Tomato Sauce
  • Kielbasa and Potato Pierogi with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream
  • Okocim O.K. Beer Euro Pale Lager
  • Donausonne Blaufränkisch Hungarian Wine
  • Frozen Szarlotka Apple Pie featuring Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka
  • Traditional Scottish Lamb Stew with Neeps and Tatties
  • Fresh Potato Pancake with Scottish Smoked Salmon and Herbed Sour Cream
  • The Tipsy Laird: Whiskey-soaked Cake with Lemon Cream and Toasted Oats
  • Citrus Thistle featuring Hendrick's Gin
  • Innis & Gunn Irish Whiskey Aged Stout
  • Roasted Pork Lettuce Wrap and Kimchi
  • Korean-style BBQ Beef with Steamed Rice and Cucumber Kimchi
  • Vegan Korean BBQ with Steamed Rice and Cucumber Kimchi featuring Gardein Beefless Tips
  • iCing Grapefruit Sparkling Rice Brew
  • Bohae Bokbunjajoo Raspberry Wine
  • Soju Fruit Slushy featuring Jinro Chamisul Soju
  • Pork Tenderloin with Cannellini Bean Ragoût and Zinfandel Reduction
  • Seared Scallop, Truffled Celery Root Purée, Brussels Sprouts and Wild Mushrooms featuring Melissa’s Produce
  • Trio of Artisan Cheese
    • La Bonne Vie Goat Cheese served with toasted Craisin Bread
    • Karst Cave-aged Cheddar Cheese served with Fig Compote
    • Statesboro Blue Cheese served with Spiced Candied Walnuts
  • Artist Palette of Wine and Cheese
    • Trio of Artisan Cheese paired with Conundrum White Blend 25th Anniversary, Kurt Russell’s GoGi “Goldie” Chardonnay and Robert Mondavi Maestro Red Blend
  • Round Pond Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Rutherford
  • Kurt Russell’s GoGi “Goldie” Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills
  • Conundrum White Blend 25th Anniversary, California
  • Vinum Cellars Pinot Noir, Monterey
  • Kurt Russell’s GoGi “Tiger” Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
  • Michael David Winery Seven Deadly Zins Zinfandel, Lodi
  • Robert Mondavi Winery Maestro Red Blend, Napa Valley
I've just told you about the highlights of Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival, but there's even more to enjoy, like....
Remy's Ratatouille Hide and Squeak20151016_160505
Kids and adults alike will enjoy roaming from country to country, seeking out Remy! Little statues of the rat hide around World Showcase and you can seek him out, playing for fun, or you can buy a map and sticker set at a nearby gift shop, and once you locate all of the Remys, turn it in to collect a prize!
ABC's The Chew: Live from the Festival
October 5th-7th, join the cast of The Chew, as they film their cooking/talk show. Believe it or not, our whole family are huge fans, including The Littles, so we will likely be there!
Celebrity Chefs
A massive array of culinary geniuses will make appearances at this year's festival, including Andrew Zimmern, Duff Goldman, Masaharu Morimoto and many more. For the full list of appearances, click HERE.
Festival Center
20150924_101521The Festival Center, located inside the old Wonders of Life Pavilion, hosts all sorts of classes, displays and experiences, including:
  • Back to Basics Sessions: (Fridays-Sundays at 1:15 and 3:15pm) Learn tricks and tips from the pros.
  • Book and Bottle Signings and Meet and Greets: (Consult Times Guide) Meet some of your favorite chefs and vintners.
  • Seasons of the Vine: (Continuous) A 7 minute film on the wine-making process.
  • Festival Stage- Hosted by ABC's The Chew: (Continuous) Watch clips of The Chew talk show, as well as pick up a list of 'Chew Approved' Food and Wine eats!
  • StockPot Shop: Pick up some of the best kitchen gadgets and cookware out there.
  • Wine Shop: Grab a bottle of your favorite red or white, or try something brand new.
  • The Chocolate Experience- From Bean to Bar: Join the folks from Ghirardelli for tastes, pairings and to stock up on your chocolaty favorites.
Beverage Seminars
Offered daily, at 1pm, 3pm and 5:30pm, this event allows Guests to taste various spirits, and learn more about them from local experts. Price is $15 per person and a full schedule can be found HERE, and reservations can be booked with the friendly agents from Kingdom Konsultants.
Cheese Seminars
Offered selected Saturdays at 9:15 am, this seminar teaches Guests about the various flavors and textures of cheeses and how best to pair them with your favorite alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is included, and the price is $89 per person. For a full schedule, click HERE.
Culinary Demonstrations
Offered daily at 12pm and 2pm, these 45 minute demonstrations will show Guests how the pros do it, and give you the chance to enjoy the fruits of the chef's labor, plus a small sampling of a paired wine or beer. Price is $15 per person, and a full schedule can be found HERE.
Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!
Cake decorating and mixology are just a couple of the skills that will be explored in these workshops. Held daily, from 4pm-5:15pm, pricing is $49 per Guest. You can learn a new kitchen skill from a true expert! The full schedule of classes is HERE.
What's Cookin' With...
Do you dream of having a celebrity chef make you breakfast, while sharing with you all of his or her best tips? Well, you'll love this experience! On selected Fridays and Sundays, chefs like Buddy Valastro from "Cake Boss", and Cat Cora from "Iron Chef" will roll out the red carpet and welcome Guests to join them for breakfast. Pricing is $129 per person. and for the full schedule, click HERE.
Grand Tasting Events
  • Rockin' Burger Block Party: On selected Friday nights, join master chefs and sample their take on sliders and burgers, while enjoying a rockin' soundtrack. Prices range from $99-$199 per person, depending on whether you include reserved seating and/or the premium bar option. For more info, click HERE.
  • Party for the Senses: Enjoy live musical and magic acts, while feasting on samplings from over 50 tasting stations. Alcohol is included, (for Guests over 21), as well as reserved seating at a Eat to the Beat concert. Prices range from $169- $329 per person, depending on whether you select general admission, reserved seating, or the upgraded Wine View Lounge option. There are even themed nights, like Chefs of Disney Springs, Chefs of the Disney Parks, and the Halloween themed "Yelloween". For more details, click HERE.
Festival Packages and Activities
  • Tasting Sampler: A sampling package that includes a voucher for 8 Food and Wine booth items of your choosing, as well as an exclusive pin and lanyard, for $59, plus tax. This option can be purchased at multiple spots around the park.
  • Illuminations Dessert Party: Enjoy desserts, sparkling wines, coffee and more, as you watch Illuminations from an exclusive viewing location. Pricing is $49 per adult and $29 per child, (ages 3-9). For more information, click HERE.
Specialty Dining and Pairings
  • French Family Meal Traditions: Savor an authentic French meal, and wine pairings, and even take home a copy of Paul Bocuse's recipe book! Located in Monsieur Paul's, pricing is $95 per person and click HERE for details.
  • Hibachi Experience: Inside Teppan Edo, enjoy an 8 course hibachi cooking experience, including sake pairings. Pricing is $160 per Guests and you can click HERE for more details.
  • Italian Food and Wine Pairing Luncheon: Inside the wine cellar of Tutto Gusto, enjoy a 5 course Italian meal, with perfectly paired wines and spirits. Pricing is $99 per Guest and you can learn more by clicking HERE.
  • Italian Food: Wine Vs. Beer Pairing: This 5 course Italian feast is served inside Via Napoli and includes hand-selected wines and beers of the chef's choosing. Pricing is $88 per Guest and more information can be obtained HERE.
  • Japanese Craft Beer Tasting: Served at the outside garden deck, six different food items will be paired with Japanese craft beers. Pricing is $60 per person and more info is HERE.
  • Mediterranean Food and Wine Pairing: Over at Spice Road Table, Guests can enjoy the flavors of the Mediterranean, including Morocco and beyond, all paired with the perfect wines. Pricing is $65 per Guest and more information is HERE.
  • Mexican Tequila Lunch: This 4 course Mexican meal is served inside La Hacienda de San Angel, and it's all paired up with various tequilas. Prices are $85 per Guest. For more info, click HERE.
  • Moroccan Food and Wine Pairing: Inside Restaurant Marrakesh, enjoy 3 tasting-size courses and unique Moroccan wines. This culinary adventure is $62 per Guest and details are HERE.
  • Parisian Breakfast: An authentic French breakfast, inside Chefs de France, including fresh made baguettes, croissants and more. Pricing is $40 per person and details are HERE.
  • Parisian Afternoon: Indulge in French finger sandwiches, pastries and desserts, while sipping unlimited mimosas. Located inside Monsieur Paul's, this event is $55 per Guest and detailed information can be found HERE.
  • Tokyo Pairing: 3 enticing Japanese courses, including sushi and sake, are served inside Tokyo Dining and will be $150 per Guest. To learn more, click HERE.
Dining Events at Disney Resorts (NEW!!!)
  • Brunch with a Twist at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort: An incredible 5 course brunch at Citricos! Watch the chefs of the Grand Floridian prepare your meal, and get the chance to ask questions and learn their tricks, before enjoying your amazing feast. Offered on October 6th and November 3rd only, the meal is from 12pm-2pm and will cost you $169 per person. See full details HERE
  • The Secrets of Flavor: Held at the Yachtsman Steakhouse, start with a 60 minute tasting session and lesson on how sensory memory helps us determine our favorite foods. After the tasting, use your 5 senses to enjoy a 3 course lunch. Offered on September 22nd, October 20th and November 3rd only, from 12pm-2pm. See details HERE
  • Behind the Scenes at Trader Sam's Grog Grotto: Learn the history of this unique tiki lounge, and learn how to make their famous cocktails. You will also get to enjoy some Polynesian bites and tastes, and take home a souvenier mug. Prices are $99 per person, and the experience is only offered September 21st and 28th and October 5th and 12th, from 12pm-2pm. Details are found HERE.
  • Culinary Advnetures with a Master Chef: Prepare a meal, in 60 minutes, in a professional kitchen, under the toutalage of Disney's best chefs. Then enjoy a 5 course "Chef's Table" meal, with wine pairings. The event will be held at the Convention Center of the Contemporary Resort, and will be offered on October 7th and 21st, and November 3rd and 9th, from 5:30pm - 8:30pm. Pricing is $259 per person and HERE are the deatils. 
Culinary Adventures in Signature Dining
Disney's top chefs will be designing multi-course meals, complete with wine/beer/cocktail pairings, to tickle Guests' taste buds. Reservations can be booked by a Kingdom Konsultants agent, and more information can be found HERE. Here are the planned events:
  • Sep. 15th: The Boathouse - Champagne welcome reception with signature cocktails and raw bar, followed by 4 course meal. $150 per person
  • Sep. 20th: ESPN Club - Beer tasting lunch. $119 per person
  • Sep. 24th: Narcoossee's - 5 course meal with wine pairings. $199 per person
  • Sep. 27th: ESPN Club - Beer tasting lunch. $119 per person
  • Sep. 28th: Portobello Country Italian Trattoria - Reception-style Italian meal with wine pairings. $110 per person
  • Oct. 4th: ESPN Club - Beer tasting lunch. $119 per person
  • Oct. 5th: Trattoria al Forno - Fine Italian dinner and wine pairing. $139 per person
  • Oct. 6th: Yachtsman Steakhouse - 5 course tasting menu with wine pairings. $229 per person
  • Oct. 8th: Artist's Point - Farm-to-Table luncheon with wine pairings. $169 per person
  • Oct. 14th: Contemporary Catering Chef's Table - Molecular Gastronomy Reception and Wishes fireworks viewing. $259 per person
  • Oct. 20th: Raglan Road - Craft beers and a gastro-pub feast. $177 per person
  • Oct. 20th: Hollywood Brown Derby - 5 course meal with wine pairings. $199 per person
  • Oct. 21st: Victoria and Albert's - An incomparable 10 course meal with wine pairings. $600 per person
  • Oct. 26th: The Wave - 5 course farm-to-table lunch with wine pairings. $169 per person
  • Oct. 27th: Flying Fish Cafe - Surf and turf meal with wine pairings. $199 per person
  • Oct. 27th: California Grill - Elegant dinner with wine pairings. $319 per person
  • Oct. 28th: Afternoon Tea at Crescent Solarium - 5 food and beverage pairings. $79 per person
  • Nov. 2nd: Trattoria al Forno - Elegant Italian lunch with wine pairings. $139 per person
  • Nov. 3rd: Flying Fish Cafe - Surf and turf dinner with wine pairings. $199 per person
  • Nov. 10th: Trattoria al Forno - Elegant Italian dinner with wine pairings. $169 per person
  • Nov. 10th: Flying Fish Cafe - Surf and turf dinner with wine pairings. $199 per person
  • Nov. 12th: Jiko - Upscale African dinner with wine pairings. $199 per person
     Oh, and don't forget all of the Food and Wine Festival themed shopping, pin trading, the Wine and Dine Half Marathon and more! There's so much to do, you'll need more than just one day to get it all in!
     Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival is by far one of, if not, THE best event that Disney offers in the whole year! Don't miss out! To plan your trip, hook up with an awesome travel agent on the Kingdom Konsultant Travel page, or by calling into them. The agents can help you make dining plans, book any of the events, give you advice and more. 
That's all, folks! Be sure and keep an eye out for updates and reviews as they become available. Oh, and....
BON APPETIT!!!20151016_192525

- Jenn aka "Tink"
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