Posts Tagged ‘World Showcase’

Epcot After Hours Wind Down – Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar Review

by on April 23, 2014

On just the third night of the new Epcot After Hours Wind Down event I was lucky enough to grab a table at Tutto Gusto.  Since this event is still so new and I wasn’t able to find any information before we arrived for our reservation so I’m exited to share our experience with you!  If you haven’t heard about it yet, the Epcot After Hours Wind Down is a new experience where guests are invited to stay in the park two hours after closing to enjoy a snack and drink at one of four restaurants.  The cost is $35 per person and while advance reservations are highly recommended, the crowds were minimal the night we went.  I’d heard rumors about rides staying open late but this turned out to be 100% false.  For the premium price you get to see a completely empty Epcot and enjoy a quiet walk out of the park.

Of course, before I whisk you away to Tutto Gusto I should give you a quick look at Illuminations!  One of the main benefits of this after hours party is that you don’t have to worry about positioning yourself to get out of the park post fireworks.  We settled into a spot in Germany that we likely wouldn’t have chosen if we knew we’d be fighting the crowds on our way out to the parking lot.

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Immediately following the fireworks we headed for Tutto Gusto and were greeted at the podium.  When we checked in we were given wristbands and immediately shown to our table.  We only counted ten other patrons in the restaurant besides our party!  In talking to other guests in the park during the day it seemed like nobody had heard about it yet.  Spoiler alert: get your reservations now!  This event is fabulous and I can see the day coming where it sells out nightly.      

As we were seated we were given a special event menu listing six different options.  They included: All Bubbles Flight, Elegant Reds Flight, Piemonte Hills Flight, Seafood Flight, Vegetarian Flight, and Sweet Dreams Flight.  I’m working on getting the menus uploaded for you but in the meantime I’ll detail the three flights that we tried.  Also, unlike other locations for the Wind Down, in Italy you are able to get other food items from their cold foods case.  The kitchens do close during these events so if you’re looking for a full meal you’ll likely be disappointed.

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And now what you’ve all been waiting for – let’s talk about the food!  I’ll start with the course I ordered which was the All Bubbles.  Now, while the menu is very clear and even has pictures I just saw the name and immediately decided I wanted this course.  The wine was delicious and the snack was.. interesting.  The food included: parmigiano reggiano cheese, la tur, and olive di cerignola.  So basically I had big hunks of cheese with bread and olives.  I would have been delighted with this at lunch time but it was a bit much at 10pm at night and I ended up boxing up most of it to bring home.  The quality and taste were excellent, though!  One warning, the olives do have pits so it’s tough to eat them and look terribly ladylike.  While we noshed on our snacks our server was very attentive and offered us several other items to go with our meal.  I’m not sure if they have the same capabilities in the other Wind Down locations but adding a cappuccino was lovely!  We didn’t feel rushed at all as we talked and enjoyed our time.

IMG_2125Next up is the Seafood course which we all agreed looked the best of the items we ordered.  This was a mix of shrimp, squid, octopus, potato, celery, red onion, capers, lemon, and extra virgin olive oil all over a bed of lettuce.  Of everything that we had at the table this was the only one that could be considered a late night, light dinner.  I had a bite and if I went back this is the course I would order.  If you’re torn between this and dessert we saw several people celebrating birthdays that received a free dessert during this after hours event.  Ironically, there were only about five tables seated and two had cake delivered.  I’m not suggesting that you fake a birthday to satisfy your sweet tooth but if those are available I would assume other desserts are available for order.  We didn’t find out because our third flight took care of that for us!

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Our third and final flight was the Sweet Dreams.  It was divine but quite a sugar rush between the desserts and sweet wine.  I would recommend that it should be shared.  What you’re looking at is a mocha, chocolate, and a strawberry dessert.  Between the three I couldn’t pick a favorite.  This was the perfect end to a day at Epcot especially if you’ve already had a larger meal in World Showcase.  Somewhere between this dessert and a few of the wine samples I lost my gumption to go take long exposure night photos of the World Showcase.  Originally, my plan had been to scarf down my snack and then go take photos.  But as the name indicates, when we left Tuttu Gusto I was completely relaxed and ready for a quiet stroll out to the car.  I’ve been in Epcot hundreds of times but this was the most empty I’ve ever seen it… and the most magical.  Sounds like a pretty good deal for $35, huh?  My answer to that question is pretty obvious.  We already have Spice Road Table booked for next weekend! :)

So what do you think?  Will you be trying the Epcot Wind Down Event?  Do you have any questions about our experience?  Let me know in the comments below.  I’m always happy to hear from you!  As always thanks so much for reading.

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Epcot After Hours Alcohol Tasting Events Begin April 17

by on April 10, 2014

Epcot After Hours alcohol tasting events

Drink up! Epcot After Hours alcohol tasting events begin April 17. (photo courtesy Stacey Lantz)

Do you like Epcot? Do you like staying late at Walt Disney World theme parks? Do you like adult beverages? If, like us, your answer to all three questions is “heck yes,” then Epcot has a new treat for you. Beginning on April 17, several venues around World Showcase will begin holding Epcot After Hours Wind Down alcohol tasting events on select nights after the park officially ends operations for the day.

The after hours events will run from 9:20 p.m. (immediately after the end of IllumiNations) until 11:00 p.m., and are scheduled to run every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening. Each tasting session will cost $35 per person (plus your park admission), and includes wine or spirits samplers and small bites at one four different locations.

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Epcot Observations: March 23, 2014

by on March 26, 2014

Despite the overcast skies, Sunday, March 23, was a beautiful day to visit Epcot. But it wasn’t the first park I tried that day. At 8:30am I was rolling up to the parking plaza for Magic Kingdom, but it looked more like a parking lot. The crowds were unreal, with bumper to bumper traffic several lanes deep. I chose to stay in the left lane and head straight for the exit with my fingers crossed crowds would be more manageable at Epcot. Luckily, they were, and I have lots of fun to share! For starters, check out these flower beds!

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But, I’m getting ahead of myself! I took several photos of the deep lines at bag check and entrance gates. I’m guessing those aren’t as fun to look at as the topiaries at the park entrance. Sorry for the odd angle, but this was just mobbed with folks taking photos! (Don’t worry – there are lots more coming!)

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A Trip Around The World: Canada

by on March 10, 2014

This is it! The grand finale we’ve all been waiting for, Canada! I have to tell you guys I’m a little sad to see it end, but I’m so excited to show you the Canada pavilion! If you haven’t been able to join us until now, why not take a look at Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, ItalyAmericaJapanMoroccoFrance, and the United Kingdom? You can take a world tour and still be home in time for dinner! (Anyone who caught that obscure Muppets reference, please leave a comment. We should really be best friends.)

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I always like to start with a wide shot of the land, but if you were leaving the United Kingdom and heading towards Canada, the view wouldn’t be quite so glamorous. You’d come to the park entrance to the old Millennium Village. This area hasn’t been open to the average guest since 2001, and it’s now used mostly for convention space and private events. The photo below gives you a peek at what it looks like inside today.

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A Trip Around The World: United Kingdom

by on February 28, 2014

Greetings from the United Kingdom! Can you believe we’ve already toured Mexico, Norway, ChinaGermanyItaly, America, Japan, Morocco, and France? We’ve almost seen the entire World Showcase, with only two stops left on our world tour. If you recall when we left off in France we were crossing a long bridge. At the end of this bridge you have two choices. You can head towards your right into the United Kingdom, which will look like the below photo.

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If you turn left, you’ll head towards the International Gateway, which exits the park towards the Beach Club, Yacht Club, Swan, Dolphin, and BoardWalk resorts. This makes it an easy walk to Beaches & Cream, which is one of the most fun restaurants on all of Disney property. (Seriously – if you don’t know what I’m talking about, click that link. You don’t want to miss this place! Okay – now back to our regularly scheduled world tour.)

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A Trip Around The World: France

by on February 20, 2014

Bonjour, mes amours – and welcome to France! I hope you’re ready for one of the most beautiful lands around the entire World Showcase. The day I went for photos was just perfect. The weather was crisp and sunny and the crowds weren’t too bad. I could almost hear the soft music from France before I crossed over from Morocco. When coming from this direction the first thing you will see on your left is Les Chefs de France. I haven’t eaten here in ages! Does anyone love it or hate it? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

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When entering France on your right you will see Crepes des Chefs de France. It’s just a little cart, but the crepes are yummy. We pop by this cart pretty often. It’s sort of like a year round Food & Wine Festival cart.

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Case Study: FastPass+ Impact On Epcot Touring Plans

by on February 18, 2014

FastPass+ Kiosk LogoMany people are understandably concerned about how Disney’s new FastPass+ system is going to affect their Disney vacation. Some of the worries most frequently mentioned with the new system are:

  • Limit of three FastPass+ reservations per day
  • Not able to get multiple FastPass+ reservations for the same attraction
  • No ability to get FastPass+ reservations for all headliner attractions
  • Only getting FastPass+ reservations for one park per day.

Some of the benefits of the new system, such as the ability to select the time of the FastPass+ reservations – may not be as obvious. And not having to run around the park to get paper FASTPASS tickets will definitely save people time.

In many cases, however, using an optimized touring plan with FastPass+ will result in a touring plan that’s just as fast as one with the same attractions and legacy FASTPASS.

Given the way my family tours the parks, I assumed that Epcot would be the most negatively impacted by the new system. With Legacy FASTPASS we would acquire multiple FASTPASSes for Soarin’ and Test Track. Now we can only get one FastPass+ for Soarin’ or for Test Track, but not both.

To evaluate the impact of FastPass+, I’m going to compare touring plans for Epcot on the second Monday of June in 2013 and 2014. Both touring plans include the same attractions and optimize the use of the available FASTPASS/FastPass+ system. Since we would never use FASTPASS/FastPass+ in World Showcase, and since we take a casual touring approach in World Showcase, I’m going to allot a chunk of time for World Showcase. I’m also allotting 100 minutes for eating. For our family, FastPass+ will not affect our dining or touring World Showcase.

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A Trip Around The World: Morocco

by on February 7, 2014

Welcome to our grand tour of Morocco in Epcot’s World Showcase! I can’t believe we’ve already visited Mexico, Norway, ChinaGermany, Italy, America, and Japan! I will start off by saying Morocco was the most fun to research. It isn’t a land I really spend a lot of time in, and I loved stopping to really take a look around. I can’t wait to show you what I discovered! Let’s start with a nice scenic shot from the World Showcase Lagoon. The white building on the water is the new Spice Road Table restaurant!

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When you first enter Morocco from Japan, you’ll see this beautiful sign. I can’t think of another land that has something so beautiful with the name of their country (or kingdom)! Maybe that’s because King Hassan II was actually involved with the creation of the pavilion. The government also sponsors the land rather than allowing corporate sponsors.

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Next is the small stage where you can catch Mo’Rockin. This is a fun group that plays rock and roll music with an Arabian beat. Plus there’s a belly dancer! Sorry guys – I was there too early in the day to get those photos for you! ;)

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The Ziti Sisters To Leave Epcot

by on February 4, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

The Ziti Sisters, a musical and comedy group that can be found in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion, will perform their final show on February 22.

The Sisters’ show is about 25 minutes in length and features audience participation in many of the dance performances, as well as in their skits. The show takes place in the main courtyard, and guests are able to recognize the Sisters because they all wear red dresses.

The Ziti Sisters’ remaining showtimes are on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., and 5 p.m. (These are, of course, subject to change.) Make sure to pick up a Times Guide or check Lines for exact showtimes.

Currently, there are no immediate plans to replace this show.

Have you ever caught The Ziti Sisters?

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A Trip Around The World: Japan

by on January 24, 2014

It’s hard to believe we’ve already passed the halfway mark on our world tour! For those keeping track at home, we’ve visited: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, and America. Next up is the beautiful land of Japan. I always like to begin with a striking image, so I’ll start with the large Torii Gate that marks the pavilion on the World Showcase Lagoon. This bright red arch is visible from all around the lagoon, and it’s the prettiest thing on the water (especially at sunset).

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But really when you walk into Japan from America, the first thing you’ll see is the tiny Kabuki Cafe. It’s the little building on the left in the photo below. Don’t be fooled by the size – there is a whole lot of awesome in this little package. Not only are there sushi, ice cream, and beer (which are all excellent separately, but we don’t recommend them together) – there is also kakigori!! “What is kakigori?” you ask? It’s shaved ice with with sweet, fruity flavoring added. This is one of my favorite treats on a hot summer night, and at only $3.75 it won’t break the bank.

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