Have I got some eye candy for you! (No, not attractive men and women to look at.) I'm talking about a photo safari/review of the brand new 2017 Epcot International Festival of the Holidays! Epcot's newest festival kicked off this weekend with a bang! There were holiday shows, decorations and lots and lots of delicious treats to enjoy! Wanna know what you can look forward to on your visit this year? Follow me and I'll show you!
For starters, can I just say that I'm kinda surprised that Disney picked November 19th to open this brand new Festival? Why? Well, for starters, I don't think I have ever seen them open a Festival on a weekend before. Typically opening day has some kitchen mishaps, slow lines due to new Cast Members learning the event, etc. Opening on a weekend day seemed risky to me. And not only THAT, it was also the Sunday before Thanksgiving, AND it was Dapper Day! (What's Dapper Day? An unofficial Disney event where Guests dress up in 40's and 50's attire, reminiscent of what Guests would have worn to the opening of Disneyland in 1955.) So suffice it to say, the park was packed! Didn't stop us from having fun though! After wait what seemed like forever to get through bag check, we checked out the various displays and decorations around Future World. Unlike other Festivals in Epcot, the Holiday Festival Center is NOT in the old Wonders of Life building, but in the Odyssey Center, so it doesn't open until 11am, when World Showcase opens up.
|Closest thing to a "snowman" we get here in Florida!|
|Popular Gospel choir, Joyful, returns to Epcot this winter!|
|It's the same tree every year, but it always takes my breath away!|
|This year's Passport|
|Like other Festival Passports, this one includes menus, events, and stickers to mark of where you have visited.|
Even though World Showcase wasn't open yet, we looked around the shops, and walked toward France, so we could start from there, and get ahead of the crowd a bit.
|These "Holiday Shops" are filled with toys and gifts for little ones.|
|Who doesn't love a Disney Christmas stocking?|
|The new line of character themed purse ornaments are really cute!|
|Hey! My grandmother made us one like this when I was little!|
|The various Joffrey's locations each have their own unique holiday themed drinks!|
|There's a scavenger hunt at this Festival too! Buy a map for Chip and Dale's XMas Tree Spree|
and search for holiday wreaths with ornaments on them and then match the corresponding sticker.
|Hey, I found you, Dale!|
Turns out none of the Holiday Kitchens were actually opening until noon, so we hit up Les Halles for a baguette and a holiday treat. This seems like a good place to get started with my food reviews from around World Showcase. I want to lead in by sharing a couple of general comments on things I saw.
Firstly, much like Festival of the Arts this past January, I quickly noticed that the portions from thebooths were considerably larger than what you would get during Food and Wine. Not only that, most of the items were more substantial. (Not just a piece of turkey on mashed potatoes.... turkey, mashed, stuffing, gravy, green beans and cranberry sauce.) As one might expect, this also means that the per item cost was much higher. Most Food and Wine items average about $4-$5. Most of the Festival of Holidays items were more like $6 or $7. Worthwhile? Sure, but still not easy on the wallet, so be prepared.
Also, a big difference, and one I was NOT a fan of, they seem to have far fewer registers and at most of the booths, you order right up where you get the food, as opposed to at a separate cash register area. This made for much longer waits and seemed to create a waste of man-power. There were several times throughout the day where I would be at the single register, waiting to order, and there were multiple Cast Members inside the booth, waiting to put orders together, but because they were coming in so slowly, they had nothing to do. I hope management figures this out and re-configures.
My third observation was that once again, allergies were a challenge. My son has an egg allergy and so I have to check out most items to see if he can have them. The procedure for this at each booth, just like at previous Festivals and in previous years, was to have to call a chef on the radio and ask them about allergens. This takes a really long time and seems like a big inconvenience. I don't understand why they can't have pre-printed allergy menu pages, just like they do at the counter service restaurants, stating which allergens are in each item. I asked one of the chefs, after we have backed up a line and made some enemies behind us, and he said that for legal reasons, they can't. However, the Holiday Kitchen in Japan did have exactly what I was looking for... a binder with printed pages, stating ingredients and allergens. Why can one booth have it and not others? This is so weird to me. Anyway, be prepared that if you have food allergies, you will likely have to wait at each booth, while they call a chef for you. At least you will until they finally listen to me and fix this. Ya hear me, Bob Iger???? (Hahaha..... I'm sure he's directly in charge of the menus at the Holiday Kitchens. That's why they pay him the big bucks).
OK, I think we are ready for the booth by booth run downs, no? Here we go then...
Alsace Holiday Kitchen
- Napoléon de Saumon Fumé, Brioche á l’aneth: Smoked Salmon Napoleon in a Dill Brioche
- Le Réveillon de Noël: Turkey Breast Stuffed with Mushrooms and Chestnuts with Sweet Potato Purée
- Bûche de Noël au Chocolat: Slice of Chocolate Christmas Yule Log
- Spiced Rum Punch Slush: Spiced Rum, Rhum Clement V.S.O.P., Orange and Pineapple Juice with Cinnamon
- Merlot & Cabernet Blend, Château de Bechuad, Saint Emilion
- Holiday Kir: Sparkling Wine and Monin® Cranberry Syrup
- Champagne Brut, Nicolas Feuillatte
In full disclosure, the booth wasn't open when we were in France, and we never got back to it. We did, however, try the Buche de Noel from Les Halles bakery, so I included a review here, but just know that is it NOT the same one that you would get at the booth.:
|Buche de Noel from Les Halles|
Tarabaki Holiday Kitchen