Recap of Food & Wine Festival

With Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival recently wrapping up I thought it might be fun to recap some of the things I enjoyed there this year, what I’d like to see next year and what could maybe be left off the list!

My husband and I visited Epcot as soon as the World Showcase opened on a rainy Tuesday. I cannot recommend this specific combination enough! I know we can’t control the rainy part 😉 but a Tuesday around 11am is a great time to start enjoying the Food & Wine Festival. We were so lucky and didn’t wait in a single line for food or drink the entire afternoon. This was definitely not the case on our last visit to Food & Wine on a Friday evening in 2013!

Our first stop was the Craft Beer building. My husband chose the Beer Flight 2: Goose Island, 312 Urban Wheat Ale; Florida Beer Company, Sunshine State Pilsner; Magic Hat Brewery, Dream Machine IPL; and Terrapin Beer Company, Rye Pale Ale for a cost of $10.25. This flight also came with a complementary snack mix. He was very pleased! As more of a beer fan than a wine drinker the opportunity to taste so many different beers was a real draw to this festival for him. So if you have a beer drinker don’t let the name Food & Wine deter them. Plenty of beer to be had as well!


Next stop was Mexico for the Rib Eye Taco with marinated rib eye, roasted chipotle sauce and grilled scallions on a corn tortilla. This was so good! And it would have paired perfectly with the tequila flight or the Mango Strawberry Margarita also offered at the Mexico booth. Unfortunately I did not get to try either, but the Rib Eye Taco was great all on its own!


Next up for me was Germany. I knew I wanted to try the Roast Bratwurst on a pretzel roll from the minute I started looking at menus. It did not disappoint! The pretzel roll was a perfect home for the bratwurst.

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My husband opted to skip Germany in favor of Poland for the Kielbasa and Potato Pierogi with caramelized onions and sour cream. I don’t think I ever got a direct quote on the quality of the snack but judging from the sounds he made while eating it… it was a hit!


Japan was our next stop! My husband remembered the Teriyaki Gyoza Bun (a Steamed bun filled with chicken, vegetables and sweet teriyaki sauce) from our visit to the Food & Wine Festival two years prior and knew he had to get it. I’m not as big of a fan as he is, preferring the chicken pot stickers from China instead.

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Another stand I skipped was Morocco. My husband did get the Kefta pocket, which is Ground seasoned beef in a pita pocket but I think this wasn’t his favorite treat either.

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I personally was saving my appetite for Belgium! Another Food & Wine classic that I could enjoy year after year was the Belgian waffle with warm chocolate ganache and whipped cream. YUM! If they ever decide to do away with this treat at the festival I will be very sad!

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Our final stop for this visit was Hawaii for the Kālua Pork Slider with sweet-and-sour Dole® pineapple chutney and spicy mayonnaise. This is a fan favorite and rightly so. It is a do not skip booth for both my husband and I. In fact, we each got our own pork sliders here, something we rarely do at the festival! Well worth it though.


All in all our time at the festival was a smash hit. The only complaint I have is the same one I’ve had every year in the past and will have every year in the future: not enough room in my stomach for all the delicious treats! I’m very happy with the semi-recent additions of food booths to the Flower & Garden Festival and seasonal food booths during the holidays at Epcot. More opportunities to try different cuisines of the world sounds good to me!


Did you visit the Food & Wine Festival this year? What was your favorite item?

Podcast Episode 32: Disney Thankfulness

This week the whole gang gets together to discuss what we’re thankful for, Disney-style!  This is a very special and emotional episode so if you’re looking to get into the spirit of the holiday, you don’t want to miss this!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Top 5 Disney Smells

Smell is a one of the senses you will use a lot at Disney.  It can help bring back some great memories as well!

5. Resorts, some have a very unique and memorable scent, I’m looking at you Polynesian!

4. Pirates of the Caribbean, yeah you’ve probably smelled it before, chlorine and musk. It never fails to remind me of my previous vacations.Pirates

3. Toiletries, yes those little lotions and soaps they have in the resorts. They vary by resort type but they all smell so good.

2. Main Street Bakery, baked goods are always a win in our book.

1. Soarin’, aside from being a favorite attraction it smells so good you want to bottle it up and take it home.

Photo Tour of Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post

If you’re headed to Hollywood Studios any time in the near future you must make a pit stop at Wandering Oaken’s Trading post. This shop is stuffed full of adorable Frozen merchandise for Frozen fans of all sizes!




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Have you been to Wandering Oaken’s? What did you think?

Touring Disney Resorts at Christmastime

Not only is Christmas in full swing in the theme parks at Walt Disney World– it’s also important to not forget about the resorts. Each Disney World resort hotel decorates for the holidays in unique ways that match their themes.

To get the most for your time here are some tours you could do during a break from the parks.

15792_10200192422122049_498719298_nMonorail Resorts
Hop on the monorail and check out the gingerbread displays at the Contemporary and the Grand Floridian. The Grand Floridian is home to a life-size gingerbread house that contains a store where you can buy gingerbread items shaped like roof shingles. There is a majestic Christmas tree in the Grand Floridian’s lobby that is the perfect background for a holiday photo. There are chairs for taking pictures and a Photopass photographer is there throughout the day to take family photos.

Bay Lake Tour
Take a boat from the Magic Kingdom to either Fort Wilderness Campground or Wilderness Lodge for some rustic Christmastime decorations. Wilderness Lodge is host to a floor-to-ceiling Christmas tree, which adds to the resort’s already wintery theme. Fort Wilderness Campground is a special place to visit during Christmas. Many of the guests camping decorate their campsites for the holidays and it’s fun to walk around and take in the creative displays.

1238229_566078386813330_787701002_nEpcot Resorts
Exit Epcot via the International Gateway and check out the resorts on Crescent Lake. Each resort has a unique holiday tradition. The Beach Club is host to a candy carousel. The Yacht Club’s lobby is home to an intricate train display—if you have a train lover, this will be a winner. The Boardwalk Inn’s lobby always has a creative and entertaining display.

1507552_565325770221925_238204350_nResort Touring
All of the Disney resorts have beautiful decorations that match the theme of the resort. Animal Kingdom Lodge has a beautiful tree and you cannot beat the backdrop of the savanna to your Christmas tree. If you have some free time, hop on a bus from a park to a different resort than where you are staying and check out their holiday decor and how it represents that resort’s theme. The nostalgic Christmas decorations at Pop Century are one of my favorites to go and see.

Podcast Episode 31: Disney For Teens and Tweens

This week we talk about all things Disney for teenagers, including the tweens!  We go park by park and lay out the attractions that we think would appeal to that age demographic, including some restaurants we think teens might want to try!  If you’ve got a kid who’s into video games or “Disneybounding”, you’ll want to give this a listen!

Happy listening

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Art of Animation: Little Mermaid Standard Room Review

Ever since Disney’s Art of Animation resort opened in 2012 I’ve been trying to find a way to stay in a Little Mermaid themed room! As you may or may not know, the Art of Animation has 4 different themed sections: Cars, Lion King, Finding Nemo and Little Mermaid. The first three are suites, but the Little Mermaid rooms are all standard hotel rooms. All standard rooms here have 2 double beds, a table with two chairs and a bathroom with bathtub/shower and toilet. The vanity with sink and mirror is located separate from the bathroom. Each room also has a flat screen TV, refrigerator and wall safe for valuables.

The GIANT Ariel outside our building:


Two double beds:


Table and 2 chairs, cabinet (the refrigerator is under here) and television.   IMG_6946 IMG_6947


There is a curtain separating the sink/vanity area from the sleeping area:  IMG_6952

Sink and vanity, with iron, ironing board and safe to the left:IMG_6953




Now on to the pros and cons of staying in one of these rooms!


-The theming in these rooms really can’t be beat. For total immersion in Disney themes, especially the Little Mermaid, these rooms are for you! Comparable rooms at All Star resorts are more generically themed.

-Little Mermaid rooms have their own pool, which is very convenient. The main pool near the Finding Nemo suites is large and tons of fun, but sometimes it’s nice to have a smaller quieter pool nearby for relaxing!

-The price. As a value resort the Little Mermaid rooms can be had for  $109-199 per night depending on season. This is in line with the other value resorts, sometimes more expensive by a few dollars per night (but in my opinion totally worth it).

-Benefits of the Art of Animation resort include the awesome Landscape of Flavors food court (my favorite on property!), dedicated bus service, overall newer buildings and that great theming I talked about before carries throughout the resort.


-The Little Mermaid rooms are located far from the main building at Art of Animation, so sometimes walking back to the room (and we were in the back of the very farthest building on property, number 8) after a long day in the parks was a little hard on the feet.

– … Nope, that’s it! Just the one con for me! We really enjoyed our time at Art of Animation, and would stay in those rooms again in a heartbeat!

Disney Books

Disney is a very real addiction and unless you live pretty close you probably only get to the parks every year or two. In the mean time you scour forums, read blog posts, listen to podcast and park music and maybe read some books. I do all these things too so if you are looking for some good Disney related reading here are some suggestions!

Thinking Fan’s Guide to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom by Aaron Wallace- This is a great book for fans and reluctant fans alike. It tells the back story of attractions and fun facts divided by lands. I am sure hoping this author writes more and it is easy to read, informative and very interesting.

Thinking Fan's Guide to Walt Disney World

It’s Kind of a Cute Story by Rolly Crump- If you are interested in Disney art and parks history you will want to pick this book up. It is like listening to Rolly Crump an Imagineer who is also a Disney legend tell you stories about Walt while you are sitting in his living room. It was a fascinating look at working for the company in its heyday. You will finish wanting to pick up more books by Disney Imagineers.

Vault of Walt Volumes 1 & 2 by Jim Korkis- You can sometimes hear Jim Korkis on the WDW Radio Podcast. He tells great-little known stories about Disney History. Hearing him talk about Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel at Walt Disney World made me want to pick up his books. The books are easy to read and you can take bits and pieces with you to the parks and impress your family.

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Len Testa and Bob Sehlinger- This book is a true guide book but it is fully of funny quips and boatloads of good information. If you want to get a non-Disney perspective this is the go to book. The only negative thing I might say is this is a huge book and you most likely will not be reading it cover to cover.

Walt Disney

Walt Disney by Neal Gabler- Here is a book for those people interested in the man, Walt Disney. I learned so much from this book; like the fact that Walt Disney failed so many times, was bankrupt, close to losing it all and still never gave up. You learn about his upbringing, his family, his movies, and his parks. It is a long read but very much worth it if you are interested in reading more about the man behind the parks.

Imagineering Field Guides– Disney puts out these books for each of the Florida parks and also for Disneyland. Reading these books is like walking through the parks with an Imagineer who has worked on the attractions or park layouts. These books are probably more for the super fans who love to see how Disney works.

Imagineering Field Guide

Disney Trivia from the Vault by Dave Smith- Yes, this is a trivia book but it is a very interesting trivia book. I found it to be accurate and easily readable. It might be a good starter book for a reluctant or beginning Disney fan.

I would love to know what your favorite Disney book so I can add it to my list!

Be Our Guest Review: Dinner

With just the right amount of pixie dust (and a 6am phone call on 180 days out!) I was able to snag a Be Our Guest dinner reservation for my recent trip to Walt Disney World. This was actually my second visit for dinner, the first being last year. Sadly, I did not enjoy my dinner that first visit. After some thorough research I had decided that I simply made the wrong choice of entrée, meticulously picking my new choice for dinner this time. I’m happy to report it was so much better!

But before we jump the gun! Let’s start at the beginning. My husband and I had a reservation at 5:30pm. We checked in at the desk and headed to the front door of Beast’s Castle for a short wait. Our name was called and we were led to our seats in the main seating area, the ballroom.

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I love the atmosphere in the ballroom. The windows are dark and you can see that it’s “snowing” outside! A cool little tidbit: The angels painted on the ceiling are actually based off of baby photos of some of the Imagineers who helped create Be Our Guest! Pretty cool.

Ok, now on to the food. Be Our Guest is the only place in the Magic Kingdom where alcohol is served so my husband took advantage of that and ordered a Saison Dupont (beer). I was intrigued by the All-Natural Fruit Punch (sweetened with Organic Cane Juice and Wildberry Extract topped with Lemon-Lime Foam) so I ordered that and it was really good!


Fresh bread was delivered to the table with sea salted butter. These rolls were delicious!


In addition to the bread we decided to order a few appetizers (hey, we’re at Disney… why not!) My husband got the French Onion Soup, topped with a Croutons and Gruyère Cheese.


We also got the Assorted Cured Meats and Sausages served with cornichons, pickled onions, and a toasted baguette. I wish I knew what some of the meats were but nothing was explained to us, the one minor disappointment of this meal. The cornichons (pickles) were my favorite, and I really loved some of the meats.


For entrees! After all the research I had done I’d found that two meals were always mentioned as standouts. So that’s what we ordered! My husband got the Grilled Strip Steak with Garlic-Herb Butter and Pomme Frites. He raved about this steak for days!


I went with the Braised Pork (Coq au Vin Style): Eight Hour Slow-cooked Pork with Mushrooms, Onions, Carrots and Bacon served with Puréed Cauliflower and Seasonal Vegetables. It was SO good! I wasn’t sold on the pureed cauliflower as I’m a starch addict and was sure I’d have preferred mashed potatoes but these were so good, and just different enough as to be really interesting. The braised pork was delicious, and I probably could have drunk the gravy off a spoon!


Despite being completely stuffed we did not decline when a dessert menu was brought to the table. It was not at all hard for me to choose what I was going to have for dessert, but it was still nice to see the cart of different treats rolled over to look at.

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I, of course, went with the “Grey Stuff”: a Chocolate Shell, Cookie Crème topped with Lumiere’s special “Grey Stuff” (a cookies and cream type mousse). It was perfect, and just light enough to not send me over the edge after such a large dinner.


My husband went with a special seasonal dessert, the blood orange cream puff.


A few times during dinner Beast made his way through the dining rooms to his library where he’d meet guests when they were finished with dinner. This was as close as we’d get to him that night though!


Delicious dinner complete we paid our bill and headed back out the doors of Beast’s castle and into the Magic Kingdom. I’d highly recommend trying dinner at Be Our Guest if you’re able to snag a reservation (or have your travel agent snag one for you!)