Posts Tagged ‘Epcot’

Indoor Children’s Play Areas in Epcot

by on October 3, 2016

As much as I love walking around the parks, sometimes you just need an air conditioned retreat. With kids in tow, it can be even more imperative to escape indoors. And though it’s typically not considered the most kid friendly of the Walt Disney World parks, Epcot has plenty of great indoor play areas for kids of all ages to let loose. If you’re looking for a reprieve from that Florida heat, humidity, sun, or even an afternoon rain shower, here are some great locations in Epcot for kids to burn off some excess energy.

Home of the Figment-centric interactive games

ImageWorks – home of the Figment-centric interactive games

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Top 6 Overlooked Restaurants

by on September 23, 2016

One of the toughest choices to make regarding a Walt Disney World vacation is deciding where to eat. With all the options available at this amazing resort, it’s overwhelming for anyone planning their trip, whether they’re first-time visitors, or seasoned annual passholders. If you’ve done your research, you’ll see the pattern of some of the same names coming up over and over again in reviews and recommendations (Be Our Guest, Chef Mickey’s, Le Cellier, etc).

Disney Dining DonaldBut hopefully, after reading this article, I can introduce to some of Walt Disney World’s unsung restaurant heroes. I have selected my own top six overlooked restaurants at Walt Disney World. Each of these offers great food, value, and even atmosphere but somehow seem to get left out of the top popular recommendations. The plus side, is that because these are often overlooked, that means they are often less crowded and have open reservation availability. These aren’t ranked in any particular order, and range between table service and quick service, but you’ll find one selection from each park, a resort, and Disney Springs.

 

 

Animal Kingdom

First up, the overlooked restaurant in Animal Kingdom, Yak and Yeti. With all of the publicity of the newly opened Tiffin’s and the standing popularity of Rainforest Café, Yak and Yeti often gets forgotten as a wonderful table service option. As far as atmosphere, there are two levels to the restaurant with multiple rooms on each level, and each room is adorned with unique, ornate decorations. Every detail leaving the guest of an experience of actually eating in a quaint restaurant in Asia.

As for the menu, it definitely offers some unique Asian fusion options that you find everywhere. Some guests may pass by Yak and Yeti because the menu seems too ethnic or daunting for their taste buds. Any guest who does venture in will be richly rewarded.  I can honestly account that the Kobe Beef Burger I had here was the best burger I’ve had anywhere. So, if you’re in Animal Kingdom, or looking for a fun and rewarding dining experience, be sure to not to overlook Yak and Yeti.

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Family-Friendly Favorites at Epcot’s 2016 Food and Wine Festival

by on September 21, 2016

Last week, we took a look at every new item at the 2016 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, but it’s always hard to resist trying our longtime festival favorites again first thing. This week, we’ll take a look at 15 family-friendly festival favorites (yes, even kids will like many of these options!) to see if they’re just as good as we remember. I took a stroll at dinnertime one evening just after festival opening to try a few dishes I recommended in my preview post, plus a few more that always seem to be the most popular dishes of the festival. I’ve included a quick summary at the bottom of this post, with my take on whether each of these dishes is a skip/maybe try/must-do, as well.

The Dishes

  • Hawai’i's Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole® Pineapple Chutney and Spicy MayonnaiseHawai’i: Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole® Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise ($4.25)

The pulled pork here can sometimes be a little dry, but on my visit, it was perfectly succulent, very savory, with a little punch of sweet from the pineapple chutney. The spicy mayo isn’t really very spicy, but it does help keep the whole slider together. You’ll only get about five bites out of the sandwich this year, with a lot of bread in there, but it’s just as solid a pick as in previous years.

  • Patagonia: Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Puree ($5.75)

Patagonia's Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato PureeI’ve always found this to be a solid pick, as most everyone loves food on a stick, and while it sounds kind of scary with the boniato puree and the chimichurri, these are flavors that many are familiar with and happy to sample. The beef on this year’s skewer was tender and nicely grilled without being dried out, with the starchy puree (think: mashed potatoes) helping round out the bite and give a bit more richness to the whole plate. The chimichurri is packed with garlic, cilantro, parsley, and a little bit of a peppery kick – you’ll want it slathered over every bite, it’s that good. Chefs at the Patagonia booth were even offering a side of the chimichurri for guests ordering the beef empanada, as well!

  • Canada: Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup Served with a Pretzel Roll ($4.75)

This dish is so famous at the Food and Wine Festival that no modifiers are necessary – it’s just “The Soup”. This year’s portion has, once again, shrunk slightly, but it now comes with a pretzel roll (which will look familiar if you’ve ordered the bratwurst from the Germany booth in the past). The soup was a tad too salty for me, though still deliciously creamy and packed with a slight smokiness from the bacon inside. Canada's Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup and "Le Cellier" Wild Mushroom FiletThe pretzel roll was a little stale, but a better delivery system for the soup than a spoon, so I went with it. With the smaller portion, this was overall a bit disappointing – it’s probably still going to be a super-popular option for most festival-goers, but I’d skip unless you are seriously craving it.

  • Canada: “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce ($7.75)

At $7.75, this is one of the most expensive food buys of the festival, and to be honest, my portion was not worth that price this year. Even during a fairly busy dinnertime visit, with fresh steaks being cooked and served every few minutes, I got a slightly tough and unevenly cooked steak (very well done on one end, medium on the other). The mushrooms and truffle sauce were as decadent as ever, earthy and savory without being too salty. This is another “skip” for me (an unpopular opinion, to be sure), but even for kids and picky eaters, there are better options for a better value out there.

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Bodh’aktan To Perform at Epcot’s Canada Pavilion

by on September 20, 2016

Bodh’aktan

©Bodh’aktan

The revolving door of performers for the Canada Pavilion in World Showcase at Epcot is continuing, but this time it appears that Disney is bringing back a Celtic rock band. No, it’s not Off Kilter. This new band is known as Bodh’aktan.

According to this article, Disney has been attempting to work with this band for years, but due to the their busy schedule, an agreement was unable to be met. That agreement has finally come to fruition, as Bodh’aktan will be performing for 20 days in both October and January.

The band was formed in 2011 and their music fuses elements of celtic, trad-Quebecois, polka, punk, Irish folk, Breton and Maritime into their sets.

Bodh’aktan will perform on The Mill Stage five days a week and will perform 20 minutes each hour.

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Every New Dish at the 2016 Epcot Food And Wine Festival Reviewed!

by on September 16, 2016

Food and Wine 2016 EntranceThe 2016 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is finally here! I was lucky enough to spend festival kick-off day sampling every (yes, I tried them all!) new and modified dish at the festival this year, to see which dishes were must-dos or must-skips for all of you. Here you’ll find photos and my thoughts on all of these new items, organized as you travel around the world (in the same order they are listed in the festival passport). Below my reviews, you’ll see a few hot takes – I’ve ranked all of these new items based on whether I’d try them again this festival season. As always, click on any photo to see the larger version of each dish. Don’t forget, you can check out full menus and prices from every booth here to start your planning now.

The Dishes

  • Craft Beer's Piggy WingsCraft Beers: Piggy Wings – Fried Pork Wings with Korean BBQ Sauce and Sesame Seeds ($4.25)

Sticky, sweet, and sour, these are definitely good BBQ wings, but you’ll only get to taste two of them per order. Perfect with a beer (or three in a flight), these are worth the purchase if you need a snack to munch on while enjoying a little free air conditioning, but I wouldn’t make a special stop here just to try them.

  • The Chew Collective: Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots, and Feta Cheese ($5.00)

At the end of the day, this dish is exactly as billed: it’s a few pieces of grilled steak on a salad. The apricots and feta bring some necessary freshness and texture, but ultimately, this dish needed a sauce to make it all come together. The Chew Collective's Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse (L) and Grilled Beef Skewer (R)Kids who like plain steak may want to steal a bite from mom and dad on this dish.

  • The Chew Collective: Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle ($5.00)

This dish tastes exactly like someone crushed up a package of Nutter Butters (which is definitely a good thing, to me). Rich and slightly salty from the peanut butter, the white chocolate and caramel provide a bit of offsetting sweetness. Everyone (who can eat this) will love this dessert, and though it’s a small portion for the price, it’s worth a shot.

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Daisy’s Best Week Ever, September 15, 2016: Disney on Ice (and off ice)!

by on September 15, 2016

Hello, lovebugs! I hope you’ve had an amazing last few weeks! This week we’re visiting Disney on Ice, taking a quick trip to Epcot, and finishing up with some nighttime fun at Animal Kingdom.

Now, I’m not sure if you guys will appreciate Disney on Ice. I know it wasn’t very popular when I posted it on Instagram. (Did you know TouringPlans has an Instagram?? Come play with us there!) But I absolutely loved the show. We were fortunate enough to have seats right on the ice and I was ready with my camera. While I agree Frozen has been overplayed,  I was just enchanted with the characters in this format. Just take a look at how pretty Elsa was in her element!

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There’s lots more to see this week. Click to read more.

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Quick Picks for the 2016 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

by on September 13, 2016

It’s almost Christmas… well, *my* Christmas. Epcot International Food and Wine Festival opening day is quickly approaching, and it’s time to start strategizing how to tackle all of the great eats during your trip around the World (Showcase). To do that, I’ve made “quick pick” lists full of my favorites from past years in a few categories: classics (great for festival first-timers), dishes that are great for families with kids or picky eaters, dishes for adventurous eaters, vegetarian picks (that even carnivores will love), and of course, a few drinks. I’ve included new picks in some of the categories that I’m looking forward to, and also some tips and tricks for making the most of your time (and finding the shortest lines!) at the festival booths.

Classics for first-time Food & Wine Festival visitors

  • Kalua pork slider (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

    Kalua pork slider (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

    Hawai’i: Kalua pork slider with sweet and sour pineapple chutney and spicy mayo

This booth’s menu rarely changes because it’s always consistently good. Definitely stop here early in the day, as it is one of the first booths in World Showcase and lines grow quickly.

  • Australia: grilled lamb chop with mint pesto and potato crunchies

Great walk-around finger food to enjoy while strolling Epcot. Only a few bites, but the potato chip crunchies make this a fun take on a classic dish.

  • Hops & Barley: New England lobster roll

A consistent favorite, usually heavy on the lobster and served on a heavenly butter-grilled bun

  • Farm Fresh: Loaded Mac & Cheese with pepper bacon, cheddar cheese, and peppers

Who doesn’t like mac & cheese, especially when it has bacon and other toppings? This can be a lighter portion, but one that nearly everyone will enjoy

  • Belgium: beer-braised beef with smoked gouda mashed potatoes

The beer-braised beef returns this year with a new presentation (no more potato leek waffle). This booth can be a little slow, depending on how many are ordering sweet waffles (made to order), but it’s worth the wait for this dish.

  • Liquid Nitrogen Chocolate Almond Truffle (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

    Liquid Nitrogen Chocolate Almond Truffle (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

    Mexico: Mexican chocolate flan

Mexico is always a must-stop for desserts for me – every year they make something slightly different, but always tasty, and this flan is sure to fit that pattern. A great stop for the very end of the night, when this always-busy booth’s line tends to be shorter.

  • Chocolate Studio: liquid nitrogen chocolate almond truffle with warm whiskey caramel

This dish debuted last year and became an instant classic for pretty much everyone. It’s usually rich enough to share, and it’s always a blast to watch them freeze the truffles to order.

Perfect bites for families with kids or “picky eaters”

  • Germany: Schinkennudeln (baked mac and cheese with ham)

Again, who doesn’t like mac & cheese? This rich dish is a variation of the baked mac and cheese found inside Biergarten, and it is just ridiculously heavenly. A good stop if you are worried Farm Fresh’s version is too veggie-heavy, and usually a pretty quick line.

  • Brazil: Crispy pork belly with black beans and tomato

Most kids love bacon, and this is exactly that, just with the addition of a nice stew of black bean and tomato. Full of savory flavor, this dish will be a winner for many, and bonus – there’s a really cool seating area at this booth, too!

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Daisy’s Best Week Ever August 25, 2016: Magic Kingdom, and Epcot, and DISNEYLAND. Oh my!

by on August 25, 2016

Hello, my lovebugs! I’m so excited to be able to share this week with you. Hopefully I’ll be getting back into rotation with the team moving forward, so we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other! This week I visited the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and had a surprise two night adventure at Disneyland. (I know, right??) So let’s get started with one of my favorite views in the Magic Kingdom.

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I know, it’s a bathroom, but doesn’t it look majestic? Of course, I was excited to see anything after 67 days away from the parks. We decided to downgrade to silver passes this year and while I had a couple of tough days missing my “home” over the summer, it was overall a positive experience. I think we’ll continue with passes at this level in future years. What would you do? Do you think we’re crazy skipping the summer and peak holidays? Let me know in the comments.

There’s so much more to see – click to read more. 🙂

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SATURDAY SIX: The Six Best Kept Secrets at EPCOT

by on August 20, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at the Six Best Kept Secrets at EPCOT. Yes, we love the awesome rides, the incredible resorts, and the mouth watering restaurants at WDW, but the more trips we take, the more we appreciate all the little details throughout The World. While most guests know of Hidden Mickeys, there are many other “Easter eggs” to discover, with many of these secrets being hidden in plain sight. We’ve previously looked at some great details at the Magic Kingdom (including references to Mr. Toad and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), and today we are going to look at some of our favorite “secrets” at EPCOT. So sit back, pour a out a 40 for Horizons, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…

# 6 – The Hollywood Tower of Terror at DHS Blends in with the Morocco Pavilion in World Showcase

The Hollywood Tower of Terror is one of the greatest rides in Walt Disney World – in fact it took first place in our very own Best WDW Attractions Poll – but one of its most amazing features is that the ride not only fits thematically into Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it fits into EPCOT. The attraction is so tall that – from certain angles – it is one of the few things that you can see from inside a WDW park, but the Tower’s facade was ingeniously designed so that it would fit into the theming of the Morocco Pavilion in World Showcase.

EPCOTsecrets_towerofterror_carey

If Guardians of the Galaxy replaces the Tower of Terror in DHS, Morocco may have to be rethemed to the Knowhere Pavilion.  (photo by Brian Carey)

# 5 – Future World Lights Up At Night

This is one that kids will probably notice well before adults, but at night some of the pavement in Future World takes on new life thanks to a fiber optic lighting package. In an area in-between Spaceship Earth and Innoventions Plaza, some of the pavement tiles have tiny lights that sparkle, making for a magical appearance. Meanwhile, over by Innoventions West, there are larger sections of pavement completely lit up with designs that “move” and change colors. Don’t feel bad if you’ve been to EPCOT 1,000 times and never noticed any of these lights, as most guests don’t even come near this area on their dash out of the park. As always, one of our best tips when it comes to touring the WDW parks is to slow down, and give yourself time to take it all in.

EPCOTsecrets_lights_glover

Future World, who may want to consider suing Pandora: The World of Avatar for gimmick infringment. (photo by Brandon Glover)

stacey_epcot

Stacey, enjoying another magical night at EPCOT. (photo by Ryan Pastorino. Instagram @disphotomagic)

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The 5 W’s of Pre-Park-Open Dining at Disney World

by on August 19, 2016

Did you know that it’s possible to enter the parks at Walt Disney World before they officially open for the day? A valid park ticket and dining reservation for one of seven restaurants is all you need to get into the park before regular guests. Read on to learn about the who, what, where, when, and why of these reservations.

Who?

Regardless of whether you’re staying on or off site, guests with valid theme park admission are eligible to enter the park early if they have an Advanced Dining Reservation scheduled for before the park’s official opening time. Since these are some of the hardest reservations to score, guests staying at a Disney resort have an advantage due to the extended 180 day + length of stay window for dining reservations for on-site guests. Our dining Reservation Finder can also help you snag those hard to get reservations.

Walking through World Showcase before Epcot's official open

A perk of early reservations – walking through a nearly empty Epcot

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