Do you ever associate certain memories or activities with food? It’s probably not a healthy thing, but it’s something I always do. For example, the first time my father took me to a Tennessee football game, I got a hot dog named a “Touchdown Frank” by those clever Tennesseans. I still remember the taste of that dog, and the excitement as my Dad and I cheered the Vols on to victory.
At Walt Disney World, with the variety of foods and experiences around the resort, I’ve made lots of food associations. It’s these sorts of things that make walking around the World so fun for me. Whether it’s Animal Kingdom on a hot day or Epcot in the bitter cold, there’s always a treat or a drink that I associate with certain experiences.
One of my absolute favorites is at Christmas time. The very first time I went to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party was with my family. I distinctly remember grabbing the free hot chocolate and cookies then camping out right in the hub for a glimpse of Holiday Wishes. To this day, that’s the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. It was so smooth and creamy, and even though I knew it had to be from a mix, it was divine. I can’t go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and watch the fireworks without a cup of steaming hot chocolate in my hand.
At Epcot, one of my absolute favorite experiences is strolling through World Showcase in the afternoon, getting ready for IllumiNations. A few years ago, when my family was out of town but I had to stay home and work, I made an impulse decision to head down to Disney on my own. On Saturday night, I went through Epcot just enjoying the experience. At IllumiNations time, I grabbed a plate of sliders from Tangeriene Café and sat on the bridge between the UK and France to watch the show. Now, whenever I hear the Reflections of Earth music, I get a taste for roasted lamb.
Animal Kingdom is hot. Always, without fail. In 30 degree weather, if you want to warm up, just go to the Animal Kingdom, and you’ll be warm in no time. Seriously, it’s like the surface of the sun in there. When my son and I decided to do all four Disney parks in one day, we spent the second part of our day at Animal Kingdom. It was hot, like it always is. Our solution was Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar, of course. That cool ice cream and a bottle of water really hit the spot. Now, anytime I’m walking out of Animal Kingdom, I’m ready for some chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream in the shape of Mickey’s head. Because we all know that Mickey-shaped food tastes better.
In Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I’m usually running like crazy in the morning to find the right place to go. Is it Toy Story Mania? Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster? Tower of Terror? After the morning hustle and bustle, I usually need a little more coffee or something to pick me up. Without fail now, part of the morning routine at the Studios for our family is to stop by Starring Rolls and grab a cupcake around 11 a.m. This allows us to power through the normal lunch hour and have a late lunch. It got so bad on our last trip that I started tasting red velvet cupcake during our last drop on Tower of Terror.
For the longest time, I didn’t have a good food memory at the Magic Kingdom outside of the holiday season. After all, the standard fare of chicken fingers and hamburgers wasn’t much to write home about. One trip, though, as we prepared to leave, I grabbed some popcorn from the stand on the right side of Main Street on the way out. Since, as always, some of the party had to take a restroom break, I had time to sit and eat the popcorn. Sitting on the bench by myself, watching the Magic Kingdom go by, was pure bliss. I always want to get some popcorn from that stand, no matter when we go.
I’m sure many of you have food memories like this, where the experience is so vivid and fun that you can’t imagine what it was like without the taste of the food. What are yours?