Best Food Bets at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts

by on January 16, 2017

Best Bets for Food at the Epcot Festival of the Arts

This is an article on the Epcot Festival of the Arts first weekend from guest author Todd Santanello:

I am an erstwhile chef and current Disney food aficionado. I hope that my back of the house knowledge comes through in my reviews, and helps you better plan your Disney dining experience. You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @cheftodd55, or join my Facebook group Chef Todd Eats Disney.

Opening weekend at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts was full of hits and misses from the new food studios. Most of the misses were not so much in the quality or flavor of the food, but in the overall delivery of the product. Service was very awkward and clumsy at most of the kitchens. While the concept of “food as art” is wildly appealing, the actual delivery

Read the rest of this entry »

A Frozen Holiday Wish – Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2016 + Video

by on November 15, 2016

Photo - Matt Stroshane

Photo – Matt Stroshane

For today’s TouringPlansTV, I’m bringing you with me to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!

Watch Elsa freeze Cinderella Castle in A Frozen Holiday Wish.


Read the rest of this entry »

TouringPlans LIVE: Kids Edition – TODAY – Tuesday, Sept 20 at 8pm

by on September 20, 2016

If you have a question for the Bloom children, ask in the comments below

Many of you have seen Brian’s regular Thursday afternoon chats LIVE on Facebook (1pm EDT…be there!). This week we have an extra-special event for you; our own Steve Bloom has volunteered his children–Rachel and Isaac–to host their very own live show.

Beginning at 8pm EDT on Tuesday, Rachel and Isaac will be answering your questions LIVE on Facebook. We know you have a lot of questions about what kids really think about theme park attractions, dining, getting up early, all day touring, and tons of other stuff. Now is your chance to ask some real, honest-to-goodness kids.

Rachel (14) and Isaac (12) have been to Walt Disney World at least twice per year their whole lives and have visited Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and just got back from a family trip to Aulani in Hawaii. They will be there Tuesday night waiting to answer all of your questions.

While you’re waiting for the Q&A to begin, go ahead and ask questions that you would like to see Rachel and Isaac answer in the comments below.

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dine or Dash? Epcot’s Food and Wine Booths (Part 3)

by on September 12, 2016

Some say that bad things happen in threes, but I’m a mojito-glass-half-full kind of person. When it comes to booths at Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, a review in three parts is far better than one. So it is with great irony that I start off with the booth that has the one food I will absolutely positively not be eating at Food and Wine. (Oh, and if you missed part 1 or part 2, feel free to catch up before diving into this one.)

*Indicates item returning from last year.


  • Grilled Spicy Edamame tossed with Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, and Chili Powder
  • Spicy Sushi Roll: Tuna and Salmon with Kazan Volcano Sauce
  • Marinated Shrimp sautéed with Garlic and Butter, Served Over Rice

I’m very fortunate that I have outgrown many of the food allergies I had as a child, but one still causes me an anaphylaxis reaction–concentrated amounts of soy, like those found in tofu or in edamame. As a result, because I value my life, I’ll be skipping the Grilled Spicy Edamame. I know my husband will be more than willing to take one for the team and try it, as this sounds like a great snack option. I’ll likely skip the sushi roll–if I want sushi, there’s so many good options at Walt Disney World to have a seat for a full sushi meal. On the other hand, I’m excited about the shrimp dish. My only hope is that the shrimp will have the tails already removed, so I can chow down without having to juggle a knife and fork.



  • Barbacoa Enchilada: Corn Tortilla filled with Beef Barbacoa, covered with Oaxaca Mole
  • Taco de Camaron: Battered Shrimp served over a Flour Tortilla with Crispy Purple Cabbage and Chipotle Mayonnaise (Pictured, but slightly changed this year)
  • Flan de Chocolate Abuelita

    Read the rest of this entry »

Dine or Dash? Epcot’s Food and Wine Booths (Part 2)

by on September 9, 2016

Time for the next column of this culinary cabaret of cuisines. In part 2, some old favorites are back, but some new booths are making their debut. Let’s get right into the action. (And if you haven’t read part 1, you can find it here.)

*Indicates item returning from last year.

Farm Fresh


  • *Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Nueske’s Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers, and Green Onions (Pictured)
  • Chicken & Dumplings: Stewed Chicken with Mushrooms and Spinach
  • Pickled Beet Salad with Herbed Goat Cheese, Minus 8 Vinaigrette and Toasted Walnuts

    Read the rest of this entry »

Dine or Dash? Epcot’s Food and Wine Booths (Part 1)

by on September 7, 2016

Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival is right around the corner. What else is right around the corner? Lines for the food booths on the first Saturday afternoon of the festival. With so many booths to choose from, but lines being almost guaranteed at most, how do you know what is worth waiting for and what can be skipped during peak times? Here’s my views from sampling all the foods last year and eagerly anticipating the new ones.

If you’re just looking for the highlights, you might want to check out my Top Ten Returning Items.

*Indicates item returning from last year.



  • *Berbere-style Beef Tenderloin Tips with Onions, Jalapenos, Tomato and Pap (Pictured)
  • *Buttered Chicken with Micro Cilantro and Naan Bread

Perhaps it is its location near the back of the park, or maybe it is because people either don’t feel “adventurous” enough to try African food (or those who do already have an ADR for Boma, Jiko, Sanaa. or Tusker House), but lines rarely seem to be too long for this booth. It’s a shame more people don’t give it a try, because the Buttered Chicken is one of my favorite meals. For a little more of a kick, the Beef Tenderloin Tips are good, but not as good as the chicken, in my opinion.

Read the rest of this entry »

TouringPlansTV: Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party + Video

by on September 2, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

Welcome back to TouringPlansTV!

Halloween is my favorite time of year, so I’m extra excited to share today’s video with you all. It’s just in time too, since today–September 2–is the first 2016 Halloween party at the Magic Kingdom!

Check out below to learn all about Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, found at Walt Disney World.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ten Best Returning Items at Food and Wine

by on September 2, 2016

Now in its 21st year, Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival is one of our favorite events as locals. On the last day of Food and Wine, I actually took plastic containers and a cooler bag to Epcot and took a dozen favorite foods “to go” for dinner the next day, because I knew there were many foods I would be missing for at least a year. Even with the recipes for many of these foods, somehow they just taste better from Epcot. Maybe it’s a bit of Disney magic and a pinch of pixie dust. (The same thing happens with popcorn at Disney, too.)

Here’s ten foods that are scheduled to come back to Food and Wine that I’ll be near the front of the line to try once again. (In no particular order.)

1. Africa: Buttered Chicken with Micro Cilantro and Naan Bread


There’s something about comfort food in the fall. The Indian-inspired buttered chicken has a great flavor and just a bit of spicy heat. Even though I plan to get this early in the festival, I know I’ll be back to sample it again when the weather gets cooler.

Read the rest of this entry »

6 acts to see at the 2016 Eat to the Beat series

by on August 9, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

One of the great bonuses of visiting Epcot during the International Food & Wine Festival is the opportunity to see live music during the Eat to the Beat series. In the past, the concert series may have been dismissed for its reliance on one-song wonders or nostalgia acts well past their prime. But I think the people who book this festival have stepped up their game, and the 2016 lineup has some pretty amazing musicians, including many playing Epcot for the first time.

Here are my picks for the artists who would be well worth a special trip to see this fall. They’re not necessarily the most popular, but rather the most interesting for music fans.

Los Lobos, Sept. 29-30

Hands down, the finest group that will be playing the festival, and the one that probably best captures the international flavor of World Showcase. It surely will be magical to listen to these consummate musicians playing their mix of rock and blues interpreted through traditional Mexican music, as the pyramid of Epcot’s Mexico pavilion sits in the distance.

The great thing about Los Lobos is that in the four decades they’ve been together, with a lineup that has been mostly unchanged, they’ve become one of the most dynamic and interesting live bands touring today. In 2015, they were nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If there’s any justice, they won’t have a long wait to be inducted.

After years of honing their craft at weddings and dances around their East Los Angeles home, they broke through with 1984’s “How Will The Wolf Survive?” Never a band to stand still, they followed their biggest hit, the title track to the soundtrack of “La Bamba,” with an album of traditional Mexican folk songs. In 1992, they released their experimental masterpiece, “Kiko.” Their music continues to evolve with their most recent record, “Gates of Gold,” one of my favorites of 2015. If you want a good flavor of what Los Lobos is about, here’s a performance of the “Gates of Gold” track “Poquito para aqui.”

Read the rest of this entry »