Epcot

Epcot Holidays Around the World Changing to Epcot International Festival of Holidays

by on September 7, 2017

©Rikki Niblett

The Epcot Holidays Around the World has always been a holiday season staple. During the event, Guests get to experience holiday storytellers from countries around the world, taste different holiday cuisines, and more. Well, this year, it’s going to be seeing a change, because everything at Epcot is a festival. 🙂

The experience will now be known as the Epcot International Festival of Holidays. Guests will still be able to learn about the holiday traditions of the countries found in World Showcase. You’ll get to enjoy live musical performances and take a festive global tour as performers bring time-honored traditions to life throughout World Showcase.

Oh and it wouldn’t be an Epcot festival without food and beverage booths! Guests will be able to enjoy more seasonal food & beverage specialties at the now expanded Holiday Kitchens. Guests will be able to indulge in the flavors of the season as they explore the tastes of the holidays around the world as each marketplace booth will celebrate a different nation. We don’t know all the options yet, but here’s what booths we do know will be there:

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Daisy’s Best Week Ever, September 7, 2017: A Little Bit of Everything

by on September 7, 2017

Hello, friends! I can’t tell you how happy I am that nothing closed this week at Walt Disney World! 😉 It seems like all I’ve done lately is say goodbye to my favorite, old attractions. So this week I’m saying hello to all four parks, a character meal, and Food & Wine Festival! Let’s get started with a look at Epcot’s iconic entrance all decked out for the festival.

So far we’ve only stopped into Epcot for one evening of Food and Wine goodness. During that visit we tried the Seared Scallops, Truffled Celery Root Purée, Brussels Sprouts, and Wild Mushrooms. It was totally stellar! Of course, you can’t go wrong with a trio of cheeses too. These can both be found in the Future World booths. I’m still adjusting to the festival spreading out all over the park.

Want to see what else we tried and check out the other three parks? Click to read more.

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Quick Tips and Picks for the 2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

by on August 30, 2017

 

The 2017 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is finally here! Are you excited? Overwhelmed by all the options? I’m right there with you, but as Touring Plans’ resident food reviewer, I’m here to help you navigate all the menus and the festival itself over the next 75(!) days. We’ve already sent many of you down the planning rabbit hole a few weeks ago, when all the festival menus were released.

Today, I’m offering up a few tips I’ve acquired over years of festival snacking. Then, I’ll help point you towards a few highlights at the festival by grouping over 50 dishes by the most popular themes you, our readers, ask about every year! Check out each category listed below, with quick links to that section of the article. To whet your appetite, I’ve included photos of some dishes from previous years’ festivals (of course, they may look slightly different in 2017… we’ll see soon!).

The Tips
The Food
Classics For Food & Wine Festival First-Timers
Family-Friendly Bites Perfect for Picky Eaters
Must-Do Desserts
New Items That Sound Like Winners
Dishes Aimed Towards Adventurous Eaters
Vegetarian Dishes Perfect for All Palates
Gluten-Friendly Treats
Can’t-Miss Specialty Drinks

 

The Tips

 

Even for well-seasoned festival-goers, the ever-growing Food & Wine Festival can be a bear to conquer. With so many options, so little time (and money!), and heat and humidity coming into play, there are a few tried and true strategies to guarantee success without going broke or missing out on your favorites:

  • Do: Set a budget. It’s ridiculously easy to sink $100 into Food & Wine dishes in less than a few hours, if you’re not careful. Set a realistic limit for what you want to spend and stick to it. To help, each menu featured here at Touring Plans includes the prices for items after they are revealed on festival day one.
  • Do: Make a plan for all your must-do dishes, so you don’t run out of stomach space or money before you hit the back of World Showcase. Speaking of planning…
  • Don’t: Start your snacking at the front of World Showcase. Just like with touring a park, you’ll want to avoid the first booths you see in order to optimize your waits in line. I won’t tell you to go all the way to the back of World Showcase and work your way forward, either – this is a very common strategy nowadays. Your best bet, in my estimation, is to start with a popular booth on either side of World Showcase – France, China, Canada, Belgium, and Germany are always solid bets for long lines that will only grow longer as the day progresses.
  • Do: Pace yourself. Even if you only have one day to snack around the festival, it’s definitely best to take it slow, especially in the early, hottest days of the festival. Speaking of heat…
  • Don’t: Forget to hydrate! Even if you aren’t partaking in any alcohol, Epcot in August and September heat is brutally hot midday. Take advantage of the bottled water sold at booths, or better yet, grab a free cup of ice water from quick service locations in Mexico, Japan, Norway, China, and the American Adventure.

Finally, probably my most controversial tip, but after a few years of experience with marathon Food and Wine days, is definitely the key to success:

  • Do: Eat breakfast. I know, I know, this sounds ridiculous. Why eat breakfast before going to Epcot to snack all day? Why? It’s simple – you need to fuel your long day of walking around in the heat somehow, and if you plan to drink any alcohol, this will ensure you are starting your day off on the right foot. I’m not suggesting a character breakfast buffet, to be sure – just make sure you grab something before heading out to the park for the day.

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The Best of Walt Disney World for Grade School Kids

by on August 29, 2017

Welcome back to Part 3 of my blog series – The Best of Walt Disney World! In case you missed it, over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing with you the top picks in attractions for various groups of travelers visiting the Walt Disney World theme parks. So far we’ve discussed favorites for babies and preschoolers. Next up are those fun-loving pirates and princesses, grade school kids (ages 6-12). When checking out the list, keep in mind each attraction that made the cut scored at least four stars by the grade school kids surveyed. Come on, everybody, here we go!

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New Entertainment for Epcot This Fall

by on August 29, 2017

©Rikki Niblett

For the past few years, the entertainment that can be found around World Showcase has been updated quite frequently. New entertainment acts grace the stages of the different countries of Epcot with unique representations of that country’s culture. One thing is for sure though; these acts, for the most part, are exceptionally entertaining. This fall, there will be some great new acts that join the Epcot entertainment roster, as well as some great fan favorites that will be returning. (Oh and I also bring good news as there are no lumberjacks that are returning!)

 

  • Suroît – This band is new to Epcot. They come from Canada’s Magdalen Islands in eastern Quebec and their sound has embraced influences from Cajun, Celtic, bluegrass and rock music. Suroît will perform on the Mill Stage at the Canada pavilion from August 31 – October 1.
  • Bodh’aktan – Returning once again, Bodh’aktan mixes Quebecois, folk and polka to make fantastic rock and dance music. This popular, kilted band is returning Canada Pavilion’s Mill Stage from October 2 – 22.
  • Raffy – This musical quartet makes their Epcot debut from October 23 – November 26 on the Mill Stage at the Canada Pavilion. Raffy has an infectious energy that they will be bringing to the park.
  • Margret Almer & The Bavarian Band – World-famous yodeler Margret Almer will be returning to the Germany Pavilion this fall. She’ll be performing with The Bavarian Band beginning August 31 and continuing through the holiday season.
  • Musique Aramenco – Returning to the stage at the Morocco Pavilion from September 1 – December 30. Musique Aramenco presents a fusion of traditional and modern Moroccan music.

I know I can’t wait to catch some of these great musical acts when touring around Epcot’s World Showcase this fall. What about you?

Walt Disney World Ice Cream Crawl

by on August 28, 2017

ice cream crawl passport cover

Leave it to artist Donna Yan’s adorable Dole Whip couple to make us simultaneously want Dole Whip and a Mickey Bar!

I don’t know about you, but one of my absolute must-have indulgences at Walt Disney World is ice cream. Add into that my love of coming up with themes or challenges for our Disney trips, and you get a recipe for success. (Specifically, you get a Walt Disney World Ice Cream Crawl!) My husband and I are apt to try a variety of challenges on our trips. We might focus on only getting snacks from places we’ve never been to before. Or we might make all of our table service reservations for restaurants we’ve never visited. Or we’ll do a trip dedicated to resort dining. (I’m just now noticing the theme of food in a lot of our planning…) For our upcoming trek, we decided to crank it up a bit and focus on ice cream.

I knew from the very beginning that not only did I want to do an ice cream crawl, but I wanted it to have its very own passport. I was inspired by the Epcot festival passports that detail out what food items you can find where. Seriously, what better way to keep track of all the amazing ice cream options than to have a dedicated ice cream passport?! (You can download your very own passport later in the article.) Let’s back things up a bit and discuss how the ice cream crawl was formed.

Simply put, the ice cream crawl was born out of an intense desire for ice cream. (Okay, it was actually as a result of the Whole30 we were in the middle of, but don’t tell anyone else that. It’s not like we were dying for sugar or anything…) First, I needed to decide what locations would be fair game for inclusion in the passport. All four theme parks were obvious, but what about resorts? Water parks? Disney Springs? At the end of the day, I went with locations that we would be reasonably likely to frequent. This included all four theme parks, Disney Springs, and the area around Crescent Lake. It’s so easy to pop out of Epcot and over to the Crescent Lake resorts that including those seemed appropriate. (And we really needed Ample Hills Creamery in there!)

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The Best of Walt Disney World for Preschoolers

by on August 22, 2017

Welcome back to Part 2 of my blog series – The Best of Walt Disney World! In case you missed it, over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing with you the top picks in attractions for various groups of travelers visiting the Walt Disney World theme parks. Last time we discussed favorites for babies, and next up are the adorable preschoolers. When checking out the list, keep in mind each attraction that made the cut scored at least four stars by the preschoolers surveyed. Come on, everybody, here we go!

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The Past, Present, and Future of Epcot’s Future World Part I

by on August 21, 2017

Can you believe Epcot is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year? On October 1st, 1982, Epcot first opened its gates and offered two themed lands: Future World and World Showcase. While World Showcase hasn’t changed too much through the years, Future World is a whole other story and more changes are on the horizon. So as this park of the future looks to its own great, big, beautiful tomorrow, let’s take a look at the past, present, and future of Epcot’s Future World!

Note: Because there’s so much to cover in Future World, this article will focus on Spaceship Earth, Innoventions, and Future World East.

In the park’s early years, Epcot was known as EPCOT Center and Future World featured a number of pavilions themed after a particular area of science or technology and funded by a corporate sponsor. But as the years passed, Future World pavilions and their attractions were either replaced with thrill rides, received overlays, or closed completely. Basically, the Future World of today doesn’t resemble its original self or the future either.

Thankfully, Disney announced at the 2017 D23 Expo that changes were quickly coming to Epcot’s Future World and they would only be the beginning! So let’s start our look at the past, present, and future of Future World with the very first thing you see when entering the park.

Spaceship Earth

While the icon of the Magic Kingdom is Cinderella Castle, the icon of Epcot is Spaceship Earth! This massive geodesic sphere actually contains an attraction that teaches guests about the history of communication.

Spaceship EarthThe Past – Spaceship Earth opened with the park in 1982 and was sponsored by Bell Systems. Guests boarded an omnimover that transported them past scenes filled with audio-animatronics highlighting communication breakthroughs in history narrated by Lawrence Dobkin. The finale showcased projections of outer space and the earth before the omnimovers descended backwards to the unloading area.

The Present –  Spaceship Earth has undergone a number of updates, as well as sponsorship changes and changes in narrators. For many people, Walter Cronkite and Jeremy Irons provided some of the most memorable lines in the Spaceship Earth narration. Siemens was the most recent sponsor of Spaceship Earth and the current narrator is Judi Dench. Today’s ride back to the unloading area also features an interactive screen where guests can pick their vision of the future.

The Future – Nothing new has been announced for Spaceship Earth and it’s unknown whether or not it will receive a new corporate sponsor.

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Mission: SPACE at Epcot Reopens this August

by on July 27, 2017

Mission: SPACE

©Rikki Niblett

It was announced at the D23 Expo that Mission: SPACE at Epcot would be seeing all new ride profiles and that more information, including an opening date would be released soon. Well, as you can see, I have some new information to share with you about this refurbished attraction.

On August 13, Mission: SPACE will return! Guests will still have the two different ride profiles that they can choose from.

On the Orange Mission, which is the more intense training, Guests will continue be able to experience a truly intense experience where you’ll be able to feel the forces of actual space launch (which let me tell you, can be pretty extreme!) On this mission, you’ll dodge meteoroids, slingshot around the moon and attempt a precision landing on the Red Planet’s alien surface, but this version has been enhanced with new, HD video to make it even clearer. (Oh good….it will make my likelihood of throwing up even higher. Thank goodness there are sanitary bags found inside the capsule!)

Say you don’t want to take the intense ride that you’ll find on the Orange Mission. You want something a little tamer or you have a little one with you who wants to experience the attraction. Well with the new family-friendly Green Mission, you’ll get to take an exciting orbit around Earth. On this new adventure, you’ll see the Hawaiian Islands, the Northern Lights, and Italy all from space, before finally landing at Kennedy Space Center, which is found in Cape Canaveral, Florida. With this new Green Mission, the height restriction will change to 40″ courtesy of new additional X-2 booster seats.

Will you be more willing to take a mission now?

 

2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Menus Released

by on July 20, 2017

©Rikki Niblett

With the 2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival beginning earlier than ever this year, this year’s festival is going to be here before we know it. Of course, one of the biggest parts of the festival are the International Marketplace and the menus for this year’s event look fantastic!

This year there will be 35 booths to choose from! (Some of the new booths for this year will include Flavors from Fire and Coastal Eats.) That’s going to be a lot of great food and beverage options! Standby favorites will be returning like cheddar cheese soup from Canada and the Kalua Pork Slider from Hawaii, and new dishes, like the Zesty Cheeseburger and Cheddar Cheese Macaroni Handwich!

So, let the planning process begin. I’ve got my list started! Here’s what you can expect to experience this year at the Marketplaces for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival:

 

Epcot Legacy Showplace

  • Chilled Scotch Egg wrapped in Sausage with Mustard Sauce
  • Zesty Cheeseburger and Cheddar Cheese Macaroni Handwich
  • L’Orange Cotton Candy: A mixture of Lime and Orange Cotton Candy (vegetarian)
  • Bright Horizons: Sprite with Multi-flavored Boba Pearls (non-alcoholic)
  • M.I.A Beer Company 305 Golden Ale, Doral, FL
  • Playalinda Brewing Company Blonde Ale, Titusville, FL
  • Florida Beer Company Passport 35 Triple Chocolate Milk Stout, Cape Canaveral, FL
  • JDub’s Passion Wheat, Sarasota, FL
  • Central 28 Trekkerbier Farmhouse Ale, DeBary, FL
  • Cigar City Guayabera Citra Pale Ale, Tampa, FL
  • Eastern Florida Flight
    • M.I.A. Beer Company 305 Golden Ale
    • Playalinda Brewing Company Blonde Ale
    • Florida Beer Company Passport 35 Triple Chocolate Milk Stout
  • Western Florida Flight
    • JDub’s Passion Wheat
    • Central 28 Trekkerbier Farmhouse Ale
    • Cigar City Guayabera Citra Pale Ale

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