Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: Part 1

Welcome to EpcotAlrighty, here we are again, to talk about the other BIG happening in WDW right now – Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival. I am just as excited to chat about this event today as I was to tell you about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Just so you understand my enthusiasm, let me elaborate – I love food. I love to make it and I love to eat it. I LOVE wine. Probably more than food. Maybe. It’s a tough call… Anyway, I also love to photograph food I make or that is served to me. My husband teases me about this constantly. He calls me a hipster and says I embarrass him. We went to California Grill last year on our honeymoon and he wouldn’t let me take any pictures of the food. I should have. The food was as BEAUTIFUL as it was delicious. Now all I have are my memories… *Sigh.

So now that I’ve shared, you can imagine the kind of excitement this event can bring. I am going to be honest with you though, I’ve only been to this event once, a couple of years ago before I developed the habit of photographing food. So unfortunately I don’t have a lot of pictures. But I DO have a ton of information and tips for you! Hooray! So much so, in fact, that I am breaking Epcot Food and Wine Festival into two posts.

The Basics: Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, this year, began on September 27th and will be running daily through November 11th. This insanely large event breaks down into two main categories: Food Marketplaces and Special Events (seminars, demonstrations, concerts, celebrity appearances, etc.).

Today, in Part 1, we are focusing on the Food Marketplaces.

World ShowcaseYou will need an admission ticket into Epcot to visit Food & Wine Fez, and from there some events are free and some are of an additional cost. The Food Marketplaces are all a-la-carte. So you can purchase as much or as little as you would like to taste.

This year there are 30 (holy cow!) Food Marketplaces. Some of the Food Marketplaces have several things to eat and drink while others may only have one or two offerings. You can certainly try a little flavor from around the world. Here are this year’s Food Marketplaces and their offerings:

  • Terra – This tantalizing menu was developed with a focus on things that come from the earth. Munch on: Trick’n chick’n curry with basmati rice featuring Gardein chick’n breast, Chili Colorado with house-made chips and chashew cheese featuring Gardein beefless tips, and Chocolate cake with coconut mousee and passion fruit sauce. Sip on: Fresh watermelon juice, Napa Smith Organic IPA, The Vegan Vine Chardonnay, The Vegan Vine Red Blend.
  • Brazil – To Eat: Seared scallop with ragout of tomatoes, peppers, hearts of palm, and steamed rice or Crispy pork belly with black beans, onions, avocado, and cilantro. To Drink: Cerveharias Kaiser Brewery Xingu Black Beer, Carnaval Moscato White, and Frozen Caipirinha featuring LeBlon Cachaça.
  • Argentina – Taste the Beef empanada, or the Grilled beef skewer with Chimichurri sauce and boniato purée. To drink:
    • Pascual Toso Sparkling Brut
    • Terrazas Reserva Malbec
    • Terrazas Reserva Torrontes
    • Kaiken Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Australia – Head down under with these food and beverage options:
    • Garlic shrimp with roasted tomatoes, lemon myrtle and rapini
    • Grilled lamb chop with mint pesto and potato crunchies
    • Pavlova – crispy meringue shell with fresh Driscoll’s berries and vanilla custard.
    • Rosemont Estate Pinot Grigio
    • Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay
    • Rosemont Estate Merlot
    • Penfolds Bin 8 Carbernet Shiraz
  • Mexico – This booth is bringing classic Mexican flavors that are sure to delight. A comer y beber:
    • Shrimp taco with purple cabbage
    • Taco de ribeye with salsa de chipotle
    • Rice pudding
    • Dos Equis Beer
    • Sangria
    • Tequila Flight
    • Mango-Habanero Margarita
  • Singapore – Travel to far-away places with the flavors in this Food Marketplace:
    • Lemongrass chicken curry with coconut and jasmine rice
    • Seared mahi mahi with jasmine rice and “Singa” sauce
    • Tiger Beer
    • Marqués de Caceres Satinela
    • Singapore Sling featuring Hendricks Gin and Cherry Herring
  • China – This Food Marketplace has a large selection of China’s flavors. Food offerings: Mongolian beef in a steamed bun, Black pepper shrimp with suchuan noodles, Chicken potstickers, and Silky spun ice with toppings (3 flavors, coconut, strawberry and chocolate). Beverage offerings include: Tsing Tao Beer, Francis Ford Coppola Su Yuen Riesling, Francis Ford Coppola Su Yuen Syrah, Kung Fu Punch with vodka, Happy Lychee with vodka, and Lychee-aerated water.
  • South Korea – Have a true taste of Asia with these offerings:
    • Kimchi dog with spicy mustard sauce
    • Lettuce wrap with roast pork and kimchi slaw
    • Bohae Black Raspberry Wine – Bokbunjajoo
    • Jinro Chamisul Soju
    • Soju Fruit Slushy featuring Jinro Chamisul Soju
  • Africa – Try the Berbere-style beef with onions, jelapeños, tomato, okra, and pap or the Spinach and paneer cheese pocket. To drink you’ll find Man Vintners Chenin Blanc, The Wolftrap Red, and Porcupine Ridge Syrah.
  • Cheese – This Food Marketplace is featuring Once Upon a Vine’s The Lost Slipper Sauvignon Blanc, The Fairest Chardonnay, The Big Bad Red Blend, and A Charming Pinot. They would all make an excellent pairing to the Almond-crusted blue cheese soufflé with fig jam, or the Artisan cheese selection including: Beechers Flagship Reserve served with honey, La Bonne Vie Triple Cream Brie served with apricot jam, and Wijngaard Goat Gouda with Craisin bread.
  • Brewer’s Collection – This impressive collection can be tried singly, or in two different flight options.
    • Schöfferhofer Grapefruit
    • Radeberger Pilsner
    • Altenmünster Oktoberfest
    • BraufactuM Parlor
    • BraufactuM Roog Smoked Wheat Beer
    • Warsteiner Premium Verum
    • BraufactuM Darkon
    • Warsteiner Premium Dunkel

     

  • Germany – Delight your German side at this Food Marketplace offering traditional eats and a host of beverages. To eat: Schniken nudel (pasta gratin with ham and cheese), Roast bratwurst in a pretzel roll, Apple strudel with Werther’s Original Karamel and vanilla sauce. To drink: Altenmünster Oktoberfest, BraufactuM Darkon, J&H Selback Bernkasteler Kurfürstlay Reisling Auslese, Weingut Pitthan Dornfelder Dry Barrique Style
  • Poland – Good eats: Kielbasa and potato pierogie with caramelized onions and sour cream or Zapiekanki (toasted mushroom, caramelized onion, and cheese break with house-made ketchup). Good drinks: Okocim Brewery, Okocim O. K. Beer, Frozen Szarlotka (apple pie) featuring Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka, Temptation Zinfandel
  • Italy – This menu is made of traditional dishes from this well-loved culture’s cuisine that will have your mouth watering.
    • Ravioli de formaggio all’emiliana (baked cheese ravioli with creamy beef bolognese sauce, parmesean and mozerella)
    • Salsiccia e “papacelli” Napoletani (sweet Italian sausage with peppers and onions on ciabatta bread)
    • Cannoli al cioccolato (chocolate covered cannoli filled with sweet ricotta, chocolate, and candied fruit)
    • Moretti Beer
    • Prosecco Zardetto
    • Pinot Grigio Mezzacorona
    • Chianti Castello di Querceto
    • Italian Margherita
  • American Adventure Coffee Cart – Here you can find your coffee fix. Shakin’ Jamaican coffee is made with Kahlua, with a touch or either vanilla or caramel. You can choose to have it hot or cold.
  • Hops & Barley – New England is brought straight to you with the tastes of this menu. If you can’t decide which beer floats your fancy, you can go for the flight option.
    • Lobster roll with lemon herb mayo
    • Griddled lobster tail with garlic herb butter
    • New England clam chowder with a side of Tobasco
    • Craisin bread pudding with Gran Marnier anglaise
    • La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
    • Rogue Chocolate Stout
    • Iron Horse Fairy Tale Cuvée
    • Samuel Adams Boston Lager
    • Samuel Adams Octoberfest
    • Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat
  • Florida Local – This spot is all about celebrating the Florida flavors. Dine on the Florida grass-fed beef slider with white cheddar and sweet & hot pickles, or try the Florida shrimp ceviche with fire-roasted vegetables and micro cilantro. Beverage offerings from the sunshine state: Florida Orange Groves Hurricane Class 5 White Sangria, Florida Orange Groves Key Limen Florida Key Lime Wine, Orlando Brewing Sun Shade Organic Pale Ale, and Cigar City Brewing’s Florida Cracker Belgium-Style White Ale.
  • Japan – Presenting traditional Japanese dishes, this booth will delight the sushi and teriyaki lover. To eat: California roll, Spicy hand roll (tuna and salmon with chili pepper, soy sauce, and sesame oil topped with Kazan Volcano sauce), Teriyaki chicken hand roll (marinated dark meat chicken with sushi rice topped with teriyaki sauce), Youki tofu (topped with miso sauce, edemame, and served with grilled veggies). To drink: Sapporo Draft Beer, Saki: Junmai Ginjo Yuki “Snow,” Green Tea Colada
  • Morocco – To eat: Kefta pocket, Harissa chicken roll, Baklava. To drink: Casa Beer, Ksar White, Sangria, Mimosa Royale
  • New Zealand – Well known for their wines, this booth is certainly offering a charming sampling of New Zealand grapes. Not to be outdone by the wines, the food offerings are full of flavor:
    • Steamed Green Lip Mussels with Garlic Butter and Toasted Bread Crumbs
    • Venison sausage with picked mushrooms, baby arugula, and black currant reduction
    • Lamb meatball with spicy tomato chutney
    • Kim Crawford Pinot Grigio
    • Mohua Sauvignon Blanc
    • Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay
    • Kim Crawford Pinot Noir
  • Belgium – Belgium is bringing the waffle! Try the Potato and leek waffle with braised beef, or the Belgium waffle with warm chocolate ganache and whipped cream, or a Belgium waffle with berry compote featuring Driscoll’s berries. On tap you’ll find Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, Leffe Blonde, and Leffe Brune – served singly or try a beer flight. Chilled coffee featuring Godiva Chocolate Liqueur is also available.

French Toast

  • France – Rich traditional flavors make up this menu from the country with a long-standing classic culinary history.
    • Escargots persillade en brioche (garlic and parsley snails in brioche)
    • Boeuf bourguignon (braised short ribs in cabernet with mashed potatoes)
    • Crème brûlée au chocolat au lait (chocolate milk crème brûlée tropped with caramelized sugar)
    • Beer Kronenbourg Blanc
    • Chardonnay, Macon-Villages, La Côte Blanche
    • Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, Château Bonnet
    • Sparkling Pomegranate Kir
    • Eiffel Sour Cosmo Slush (vodka, Grey Goose Cherry Noir, Gran Marnier, and cranberry juice)
  • Ireland – This Food Marketplace is bringing the best of Ireland’s favorites:
    • Lobster and seafood fisherman’s pie
    • Kerrygold cheese selection: reserve cheddar, Dubliner with Irish Stout, Skellig
    • Warm Chocolate pudding with Bailey’s custard
    • Guinness Draught
    • Bunratty Meade Honey Wine
    • Chilled Irish Coffee featuring Bunratty Potcheen
  • Canada – To eat: Canadian cheddar cheese soup (yes please!), Seared rainbow trout with bacon, frisee, maple Minus 8 vinaigrette, or “Le Cellier” wild mushroom beef filet mignon with truffle butter sauce. To drink: Moosehead Lager, La Face Neige Apple Ice Wine, La Face Neige Sparkling, and Mission Hill Family Estate Syrah.
  • Greece – Taste the classic Mediterranean flavors of Greece in this extensive menu. To eat: Taste of Greece – grilled and marinated calamari, hitipiti, eggplant dip, olives and pita bread, Griddled Greek cheese with pistachios and honey, Chicken gyro with tzatziki sauce, Spanakopita, or Dannon Oikos Blueberry Greek Nonfat Yogurt Cup. To drink: Domaine Skouras Moscofilero, Siglas Assyrtiko/Athiri, Apha Estate Axia Syrah-Xinomavro, or Ouzo by Metaxa
  • Refreshment Port – Dole Pineapple is the star of the show here! Try these tropical delights:
    • Dole pineapple fritters
    • Fried Shrimp with Dole pineapple sweet & sour sauce
    • Fried chicken chunks with Dole pineapple sweet & sour sauce
    • Orange Dole Whip
    • Orange Dole Whip with Crème de Cacao White
    • Frozen Dragon Berry Colada featuring Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum
  • Desserts & Champagne – It’s as if this Food Marketplace was made just for me, filled with sweet delights and bubbling wine. Dessert offerings: Chocolate orange cupcake, Hazelnut chocolate cheesecake, Morello cherry pistachio mousse, Guylian Belgian chocolate seashell truffles. Can’t decide?  Don’t worry, they offer a Dessert trio option. To Drink:
    • Pyranud Weiss Cream Beer
    • Möet & Chandon Ice Impérial
    • Möet & Chandon Impérial
    • Möet & Chandon Nectar Impérial
    • Nicolas Feuillatte Rosé
    • Frozen S’mores
  • Hawai’i – Through this menu I can almost hear the ocean and the ukulele. Eats: Kalua pork slider with sweet and sour Dole pineapple chutney and spicy mayonnaise or Tuna Poke with seaweed salad and lotus root chips. Beverages: Kona Brewing Company’s Big Wave Golden Ale, Kona Brewing Company’s Pipeline Porter, Lucien Albrecht Gewurztraminer Réserve, Aulani Sunrise featuring Ocean Vodka
  • Scotland *NEW THIS YEAR* – A delightful menu full of tradition is a great way to welcome this beautiful country to Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival.
    Food: Seared Scottish salmon with cauliflower puree, watercress and malt vinaigrette, Vegetarian haggis with neeps & tatties (grilled vegetable cake with rutabaga and mashed potatoes), Scottish banoffee tart with bananas, Scottish whisky toffee, Walkers Shortbread Cookies and sweet cream. Drinks: Innis & Gunn Original, Loch Lomond featuring Glenfiddich, and Glenfiddich Scotch Flight.
  • Craft Beers – A selection of craft beers that would please any beer lover can be tried singly, or in two different flight options. (Here is where my hubby would want to stay.)
    • Dogfish Head Brewery, Namaste
    • Abita Brewing Company, Fall Fest
    • Leinenkugel’s Seasonal Shandy
    • Florida Beer Company, Devil’s Triangle
    • New Belgium Brewing Company, Fat Tire
    • Widmer Brothers Brewing, Alchemy Ale
    • Red Hook, Audible Ale
    • Sierra Nevada, Torpedo Extra IPA

As you can plainly see, you could eat and drink ALL STINKING DAY and still probably not try every Food Marketplace. Hubby thinks that a long weekend should be devoted to the sole purpose of taking in as much of the festival as possible. I have to say that it’s not a bad idea.

Whether you have one day or 4 days to check it out, here are my TIPS to make the most out of your time visiting the Food Marketplaces in the World Showcase:

  • Plan Ahead and Prioritize Make sure you make yourself aware of all of the food & beverage offerings. Pick up a Food & Wine Fez guide and mark what you most want to try. If you are still wanting more, you can go back for your second choices.
  • Share, Share, Share! While all of the portions at the Marketplaces are sized with the idea of sampling in mind, sharing with a friend or family member is the best way to go. You will save on cost, and room in your tummy, so you can try more flavors.
  • Budget Know how much you are willing to spend ahead of time. Taking a specific amount of cash, or buying one of the Food & Wine Fez prepaid giftcards will keep you from overspending.
  • Pace Yourself Make sure to give yourself enough time for what you want to experience. The World Showcase is huge, so be sure to factor time for walking, as well as the Food Marketplace lines.
  • Avoid the Weekends If possible visit the Food & Wine Fez Monday – Thursday. The weekends draw in the locals (understandably!), so the lines are often longer.

M. M. – Sunshine Seasons at Epcot

Hello hungry people! For MUNCHY MONDAY this week we are visiting one of the best Quick Service spots in Walt Disney World – Sunshine Seasons at Epcot.

Epcot Day

The Land If you’re in Future World in Epcot and your stomach starts to rumble, head to The Land Pavilion and make your way downstairs to quiet your hunger in this delicious eatery.

Part of what makes Sunshine Seasons so charming is it’s bright decor. Vibrant greens, warm yellows, and oranges are the focus of the color scheme, making you automatically imagine warm sunshine and lush grass. The Land is designed with an open floor plan, so that the seating area of Sunshine Seasons has a view of the ceiling overhead. Suspended above are whimsically painted hot air balloon sculptures and draped ribbons. The globes of the hot air balloon sculptures each represent one of the 4 seasons, centered around one that is painted as the earth.

The Land CeilingSunshine Seasons serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As far as breakfast is concerned, Sunshine Seasons is one of the few spots in Epcot that offers this meal. The menu is minimal, but you’ll find the basics such as pastries, breakfast sandwiches, fruit, bagels, yogurt, and even french toast for kids.

Lunch and Dinner offer much more extensive and variant menus. But here’s what is really great about it – Sunshine Seasons offers yummy, flavorful, HEALTHY food. Let’s be real. When you’re at WDW, you’re on vacation and for many of us that means indulgence. We tend to eat less carefully and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I find I get to a point where I really want something more than a burger and french fries. Sunshine Seasons is a fantastic spot to grab something tasty and healthy to give your body some much needed fuel. (Epcot is huge – you do a lot of walking!!)

Sunshine SeasonsThe lunch & dinner food choices all fall into categories: Sandwiches, Asian Flavors, Soup and Salad, and Wood-fired Entrees. Each category has it’s own station, where you order what you like. In the sandwiches station you can expect to find something such as a turkey sandwich with monterery jack cheese and chipotle mayo on ciabatta bread, served with potato salad. I have that delicious sandwich for lunch more than once. Salads offer classics like chicken cesear, or try one with roasted beets and goat cheese.The grill features oak-grilled chicken and fish entrees served with veggies. If you want something with Asian flair, try the Mongolian Beef with veggie fried rice, or the Spicy Cashew Chicken with vegetable stir-fry noodles. Kids have a range of choices such as a chicken leg with mashed potatoes or rice and grapes. Or perhaps they’d macaroni & cheese with carrots and grapes. And let me tell you – that mac n’ cheese is darn good.

If your sweet tooth happens to strike, fear not. Just because there are healthy choices here doesn’t mean dessert isn’t at hand. A big, beautiful case displays a myriad of dessert choices so you can find just about anything you’d like. (Think cheesecake slices, mini fruit tarts, cookies, strawberry shortcake, brownies, and plenty of cupcake choices.)

After you finish eating, don’t leave The Land right away! Soarin’, Living With The Land, and The Circle of Life attractions are also in this pavilion. The Garden Grill restaurant calls The Land home as well, but that’s another yummy story for another MUNCHY MONDAY.

Just like anywhere in WDW, the menu may change with the seasons. But overall, Sunshine Seasons is focused on offering healthy choices with some Asian flavors. I know you’ll find something there that will make you smile.

M.M. – Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar

DSC05026Pictured above my friends, is pure happiness. A perch in the shade with my favorite ice cream treat in the ENTIRE WORLD: Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar. Welcome back to MUNCHY MONDAY, the tastiest day of the week.

Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar:

noun

Perfection. A frozen serving of silky, creamy vanilla ice cream covered with a thick, rich chocolate shell in the shape of the iconic Mickey ears.

IMG_0644Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar is a whole-lotta-name. My family and I usually just call it a Premium Bar, and I’ll treat you all like one of the gang and refer to it as such here. Sold exclusively by Disney, we can thank Nestle for bringing this delight to us. The bar comes packaged in a red, blue, and white wrapper featuring a smiling Mickey face. (You can see the wrapper stuck under my cup in the picture above.) Now-a-days you can find a Premium Bar just about anywhere on Walt Disney World property. They’re available at all theme parks, as well as Downtown Disney, from an ice cream cart. You won’t have to trek far in any park to find one of these carts set up with a big, blue umbrella and a sign displaying what goodies it offers. You may also be able to find a Premium Bar in the food court of your WDW Resort Hotel. Just ask a cast member if your hotel serves them up.

IMG_0645 Now that you know where to find them, let’s talk strategy. Everyone has a different approach to how they eat a Premium Bar. Hubby, as seen to the left, digs right in, biting off an ear. He prefers to enjoy the chocolate & vanilla flavors together in bites. I’m not really a bite-my-ice cream kinda gal. I like to savor the ice cream slowly as it melts. So I very carefully eat the chocolate shell first and then eat the vanilla ice cream layer by softly melting layer. You can see below, how I’ve already got the side of the chocolate coating off, exposing the vanilla ice cream. My strategy also makes the Premium Bar last longer. Win.

DSC05027Like Pineapple Dole Whip, I shamelessly eat more than one of these during a WDW trip. I simply love them. They’re the ideal treat – sweet, cool, and refreshing. Incidentally, I’ve discovered that despite of the countless hours I’ve spent at Walt Disney World and the many, many times I’ve enjoyed this treat, I have very few pictures of it. I will say that this reason is probably two pronged. Firstly, it’s so tasty you want to eat it immediately, and photographing it doesn’t really come into consideration. Secondly, we usually visit WDW in the summer. And it’s HOT. There is little-to-no time for snapping pictures before you start to have a melting mess on your hands. But the melting mess, especially when you’re a kid, is part of the fun.

DSC_0918

W.T.D.W. – Epcot, World Showcase – Mexcio

¡Hola amigos! ¿Come están ustedes? I hope this finds you all well this week. I realize that I’m posting this week’s WHAT TO DO WEDNESDAY on a Thursday, and if you’re astute you noticed I missed MUNCHY MONDAY this week as well. It has been a week of life highs and lows. Sadly, my husband’s aunt passed away unexpectedly, and we spent the early part of the week celebrating her beautiful life and attending her funeral services. A day later, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary!! It’s been a busy week with very little time for writing until now.

photo-3

Mexico signSo this week on WHAT TO DO WEDNESDAY (ahem, Thursday…) I want to take us to Mexico in the World Showcase at Epcot. Hugged around a beautiful lagoon, the World Showcase is home to eleven countries. Mexico is first on the leftmost side as you approach the World Showcase from Future World. Colorful and celebratory, with plenty to see and experience, I always look forward to visiting Mexico.

Mexico detail

As you approach Mexico you are welcomed by an Aztec inspired pyramid with warm terra cotta colors and splashes of turquoise. The landscape surrounding the pyramid is rich and thick. As you step inside, you will notice expressive, wood carved animals in bright, vibrant colors. These fantastically carved animals are from the Oaxacan culture, and are an important part of Mexican Folk Art. Many beautiful carvings are on display with details about their history and significance. Often, there is an artist working at a table surrounded by carved animals of all shapes and sizes. Further inside, you will enter the Plaza de los Amigos. I love the ambiance of the plaza. It is perpetually just past twilight, and twinkling lanterns suspended overhead glow softly upon a Mexican marketplace. Fountains trickle water, creating relaxing, peaceful background sounds. Carts and tiendas (shops) feature jewelry, glassware, leather goods, clothing, instruments, books, sombreros, and many authentic merchandise items for sale.

Mexico Marketplace

In the back of the Plaza de los Amigos, you can find the entrance to the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros. This charming boat ride is a cultural tour of Mexico with a fun twist created by the three caballeros: Donald, Ponchito, and José. Lovable Donald Duck is missing, so Ponchito, and José go in search of him and you are along for the ride. Unbeknownst to them, Donald is off enjoying the Mexican culture; trying on sombreros, snapping pictures, listening to a mariachi band, and taking an ocean swim. This ride is very kid friendly and there usually isn’t much of a wait, even during peak seasons.

Gran Fiesta Tour

Inside EPCOT MexicoIf you’re hungry there is plenty of opportunity to grab a taste of Mexico.  San Angel Inn Restaurante, a Table Service restaurant, is located in the Plaza de Los Amigos set amongst a Mayan pyramid and smoking volcano.  A second Table Service restaurant, La Hacienda del San Angel, offers a flavorful menu and beautiful views of the World Showcase Lagoon. If you want to try a flight of tequila, La Cava del Tequila in the Plaza de Los Amigos offers a variety of tequila tasting options as well as Mexican beers, wines, and light snacks. If you’re looking for something quick and easy, try the Cantina de San Angel. There you’ll find treats such as margaritas, tacos, empanadas, nachos, and guacamole. ¡Ole!

photo

We always have a good time having a margarita, trying on sombreros, and relaxing on the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros. Keep an eye out, if you’re lucky you may be able to see a live mariachi band or meet Donald Duck. Donald often appears in Mexico for meet and greets wearing a colorful sombrero and serape. It’s a great opportunity to snag an autograph and pose for a unique photo!

Until next time, ¡Hasta luego amigos!

What To Do Wednesday?!?

Welcome to the brand new segment of this blog: What To Do Wednesday!!

Everyone has their own game-plan when they go to Walt Disney World. Some people love to visit the parks and try to do EVERYTHING. All of the attractions, all of the parades, all of the shows – all of it! Others go to relax. In a day, they may visit a park for a few attractions, then relax by the pool or visit a spa, go shopping, and enjoy a leisurely dinner followed by a night cap in a cozy resort hotel lounge. I’m somewhere right in the middle. In a perfect WDW (Walt Disney World) day I would visit a theme park as early as possible in the morning, experience all of my favorite attractions, then return to the resort for a late afternoon swim and a visit to the pool bar, have a delicious Table Service dinner, and perhaps return to the parks for a nighttime fireworks show. I see nothing wrong with this day. It’s an awesome day. My husband would disagree. He claims I have TOO many favorite attractions, and TOO MANY things I want to do, and therefore my theme park days are over-packed. Fortunately for me, he’s a good sport about my theme park style and he manages to keep up with fairly little complaint. I don’t know, perhaps I am one of the pack-it-in people. I can’t help it! There is fun EVERYWHERE!!

Close-up of an envelope I purchased in WDW several years ago. Yup, I would be Donald Duck in this scene.

Close-up of an envelope I purchased in WDW several years ago. Yup, I am Donald Duck in this scene.

At any rate, by taking a close-up look at a couple of attractions each week, What To Do Wednesday is designed to help my readers know what attractions they want to make sure to see when they visit Walt Disney World . The reality is Walt Disney World offers so much to do, you can’t possibly do it all in one vacation trip and everyone has a unique circumstance when visiting. Some guests are families visiting WDW with young children, some have teenagers, and others are couples on their honeymoon. What To Do Wednesday will help you discover the fun Walt Disney World offers so you can have your own perfect WDW day when you visit – hitting as many or as few attractions as you want.

To kick of the first What To Do Wednesday, I am highlighting two of my favorite attractions, one from Magic Kingdom and one from Epcot:

Pirates of the CaribbeanYo Ho, Yo HoPirates of the Caribbean at Magic Kingdom. You know you want to sing… “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a pirate’s life for me!” Take your pirate oath and climb into the boat! This attraction made its first appearance at Disneyland in California and was the last attraction Walt Disney personally worked on. It opened at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World in 1973, and was refurbished in 2006 where minor changes were made in the way of including some of the characters from the Pirates of the Caribbean films starring Johnny Depp. Jack Sparrow can now be seen popping in and out of the scenes as the ride progresses. I can honestly say there is nothing show stopping and amazing about this ride, but it’s just good fun and a Disney classic. As you drift along in your boat you witness pirates ransacking a Caribbean town. There’s plenty of pillaging, plundering, burning buildings, and humor as women chase pirates with pitchforks. There is one very mild drop in the boat ride, but mostly you just coast along at a very mellow pace. This is a very kid (and adult) friendly attraction. I will note that the ride is somewhat lengthy and dark, so if you have a little one who prefers not to spend extended time without lights, just be aware.

1280px-Soarin_over_California_-_Disney_California_Adventure_ParkSoarin’ at Epcot – Prepare for flight in this breathtaking attraction. Guests are lifted into the air in a hand gliding simulator over a huge OMNIMAX screen and “flown” over stunning scenes of California highlighted by vibrant orchestral music. The experience moves beyond visual and becomes amazingly realistic as your feet dangle in the air, a breeze tousles your hair and you smell orange groves, sea salt and pine forests. I can certainly say this is one of my favorite attractions in all of Walt Disney World and it always makes my “Must See” list. A relatively new attraction, Soarin’ opened its doors in 2005 while I was interning at WDW on the Disney College Program. This attraction is very family friendly, but guests must be at least 40″ tall to enter.

I think you’ll be impressed with how many favorite attractions I have at Walt Disney World. Stay tuned each week to learn about all of them! Next What To Do Wednesday I will reveal a cherished attraction from both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. See ya real soon!