This year at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, many tempting food choices await at the booths around World Showcase. I lucked out this year with all good selections. Accompanying us were Sue and Mark Bernstein and Ann Meier.
At World Showcase, we turned left toward Mexico. Our first stop was Lotus House at China. I got the Pan-fried Vegetable Dumplings. They were very tasty and served drizzled with a sweet sauce. I would get these again.
At the Refreshment Outpost by Africa, I got an Ice Cream Float with Tangerine soft serve ice cream and Cream Soda. It was a refreshing drink. This is always my husband’s go-to stop for a hot dog.
Potato Pancakes with homemade Applesauce were found at Germany’s Bauernmarkt Farmer’s Market stand. I thought I’d get one potato latke and ordered two portions, one for me and one for Richard. It turns out we could have shared. On each plate were two thick potato pancakes. They could have been a bit thinner and crispier, but I liked them nonetheless.
At La Isla Fresca (between France and Morocco), I had the Coconut Tres Leches: Vanilla cake soaked in oat milk, almond milk, and coconut milk with toasted coconut. Custardy taste with whipped topping and toasted coconut melted in my mouth. Oh-so-good! Perfect accompaniment was Florida Orange Groves Winery Tropical Perception White Sangria, a light white wine that wasn’t too fruity.
As always, the displays of flowers and topiary were inspiring.
The Festival of the Arts during the winter months at Epcot is always fun to attend. You can view art works on display and sample dishes at food booths around World Showcase.
Here are some of the items we tried:
Duck and Dumplings at the Artist’s Table by the American Adventure. Smoked Duck Breast, Ricotto Dumplings, Petite Vegetables, and Duck Jus. I liked the smoked duck flavor, and the meat was easy to cut. I’ve had better at higher end restaurants, though. The ricotto dumplings were interesting, almost like a potato texture.
Three-Meat Meatloafwith “Peas and Carrots” came with Green Pea Pudding, Carrot Ketchup, Shaved Carrot salad, and Snap Peas. This was a dish that appealed to my husband. He said it was “average,” meaning it wasn’t anything special to his palate. Same location as above.
Red Wine-Braised Beef Short Rib with Parsnip Puree, Broccolini, Baby Tomatoes, and Aged Balsamic at the Pastoral Palate by Germany was by far the best of the batch. The boneless meat was supremely tender and tasty as well. This one would be on my repeat list.
General Tso’s Chicken Shumai at The Painted Panda by China came with three pieces of shumai. These were tasty and enough to share. I’m a fan of Trader Joe’s frozen chicken shumai and so I knew I’d like this version.
On a second visit, our friend Ann Meier had the Napoleon with Beets, Cashew-Herb Filling, Pepper-Pine Nut Sauce, and Balsamic Vinegar Caviar from the France pavilion.
Then Ann tried the Carrots Three Ways from Morocco while I had their Chicken Skewer.
Next, we’ll look forward to the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival. A whole new tasting experience begins March 1st with a fresh set of “outdoor kitchen” choices.
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We were happy to dine at Disney Springs with our children for our 46th anniversary a couple of weekends ago. It has become our tradition to visit here during the December holidays. When the kids were younger, we would go to a movie on Christmas Day at the dine-in theater for lunch, and then afterwards we’d stroll through the park festive with shops, holiday decorations, and tourists.
I always enjoy seeing the differently decorated Christmas trees as we walk through the site. Their Christmas Tree Stroll is a popular event. We were able to view many of the themed trees. See for yourself:
The Space 220 Restaurant at Epcot in Disney World is an out-of-this-world restaurant. It’s so popular that it is nearly impossible to get an online reservation. We went in person on a Friday morning at 10:30 and lucked out. They had several slots available for lunch. This themed dining establishment is located next to the Mission: SPACE Pavilion. As you come into the park by Spaceship Earth, veer left toward the attractions on that side of the park.
At the designated time, we gained entry and were given boarding passes at a neon-rimmed reception desk.
From there, we lined up to ride on the space elevator. This would take us to the space station 220 miles up from Earth. A small group of us went inside. There’s a round rail in the center where we held on, with viewports at the bottom of this circle and overhead on the ceiling. With a rumbling vibration, we took off. Florida receded below as we shot toward the sky.
The station came into view above and grew larger until we docked. Here we entered a snaking utilitarian corridor. One section rotated with hydroponic vegetables reminiscent of the Land Pavilion.
A server escorted us to our table. Out the wide set of windows, we saw the curvature of Earth.
I ordered a Planetary Punch – Bacardi Silver, Malibu, Blue Curacao, Guava, and Coconut. The purple beverage bubbled and had an intriguing taste.
For $55 each, we had a two-course fixed price lunch with an appetizer and entree. Annual passholders get 10% off lunch only. Dinner is $79 and includes different choices of appetizers and entrees plus dessert. Here is the lunch menu. You can see the dinner menu here. Lunch starts at 11:30 am and Dinner at 4:00 pm. Remember that you need a reservation to Epcot for the day plus an admission ticket or pass.
I chose the Space Greens which was huge – Bibb and Red Leaf Lettuce, Honey Crisp Apples, Radish, Cornbread Croutons, Bacon Bites, Warm Bacon Vinaigrette. The lettuce was so fresh it might have been grown right there in the hydroponic garden.
My lunch was the Spaceghetti & Shrimp – Sautéed Shrimp, Spaghetti, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, Garlic Beurre Blanc. Richard had the Rocket Flame Seared Tuna – Fennel Spice-Rubbed Tuna Loin, Eggplant Caponata, Arugula, Aged Balsamic. Sue and Mark both had the Galactic Miso Salmon – Miso Glazed Salmon, Glazed Rainbow Carrots, Edamame, Celeriac Puree.
While the food was tasty, I wouldn’t return based on the meal alone, although the dinner menu is very appealing. However, the out-of-this-world space station experience would definitely be worth another visit. You can go to the lounge without a reservation if you don’t mind standing in line for a spot, but there’s limited seating and it faces away from the viewports.
As we dined, suited spacemen floated past and various spacecraft came and went. It was awesome to imagine yourself dining on a real space station. Space elevators have been elemental to science fiction novels since I’ve been reading them, and our imagination often fuels invention.
The ride down to Earth was even more exhilarating than the one up to the station. It seemed real as we jostled with movement and sped down toward the land far below. With a gentle thump, we reached the terminal and entered reality once more.
For a more immersive experience, there’s always the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Adventure. That’s a mind-blowing two-night stay in the Star Wars Universe. If not for the cost … well, maybe our kids will get there someday.
In the meantime, Space 220 Restaurant offers a stellar adventure. We were glad to enjoy it with Sue and Mark Bernstein. Next time, we’ll have to try this place for dinner.
Epcot Food and Wine Festival is the main reason we get annual passes to Disney World. It’s fun to stroll among the food booths at Epcot’s World Showcase to sample new dishes. A number of cookbooks in my collection feature previous festivals and include many of their popular dishes.
Here is what we sampled this time:
Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp at Australia with pineapple, onions, peppers, and snap peas.
Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard at Ireland
Teriyaki Chicken Bun at Japan with chicken, vegetables and teriyaki sauce.
Chesapeake Crab Slider at The American Adventure with tangy coleslaw and Cajun remoulade.
Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese with Riesling poached pears, red wine braised figs, candied pecans, honey, and cranberry toast. I liked this dish, except for the toast that was too hard to bite.
Alps Wine Flight – I liked the white wine, Huber Vision Gruner Veltliner from Austria. The rosé, Cave De La Cote Rosé Gamay from Romand was also good. I didn’t care for the red choice, René Favre Dole from Chamoson.
Flavors From Fire over by Test Track – We shared the Smoked Corned Beef on crispy potato chips with melted cheese. My blurry photo doesn’t do this dish justice, but it was delicious. It was more than enough for the two of us.
We visited Disney World twice in December for double the pleasure. First we visited Magic Kingdom. The magic got somewhat lost on our twenty-minute trek from the parking lot back in the wilds to the ticket and transportation center. No trams meant an unexpected hike. Then more walking until you get to the actual entrance. We decided to wait in line for the Jungle Cruise ride since we hadn’t been on the latest version, but after a crowded wait where we were packed into lines with no social distancing (we wore masks), we had to leave for our lunch reservation.
We had a delicious meal at Liberty Tree Tavern that’s essentially a turkey dinner with a gooey toffee dessert. This was almost worth the angst in getting there.
After lunch, the park was getting more crowded and the skies cloudier. We quit to head back to the parking lot. Naturally the monorail wasn’t working and we had to take the ferry. Finally made it back to our parking lot in the land of the forgotten and were rained on before reaching our car. Not the most magical experience this day. I will not return here until the trams are running again or else we’ll have to pay extra for preferred parking.
Our day at Disney Springs was better. We met our kids for an anniversary lunch at Paddlefish which was very enjoyable. Here’s my clam chowder and crab cake meal.
We strolled around to view the Christmas trees. There wasn’t any defined trail like in previous years. These were scattered among the stores.
We passed a concert by a band and watched our grandson on a train ride with his mom. Not sure which one of them loved it more.
Next trip, if we care to brave the crowds, will be Epcot for the food booths at the arts festival. I’d definitely get the preferred parking although it grates on my nerves to have to pay extra when the free trams should be running. The magic isn’t what it used to be.
We had a wonderful day at Disney World’s Epcot Food & Wine Festival as we strolled around World Showcase to sample the foods. My writer pal and critique partner, Ann Meier, accompanied us. It was a trek from the parking lot without the trams running and around the new construction obstacles past Planet Earth. We detoured to go on one of my favorite rides at The Land pavilion. I love the boats that glide through the plant and hydroponics gardens where you learn about new growing techniques.
Our first stop was for the Beer-Braised Beef with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes at Belgium. This was a tasty dish, although the meat could have been more tender.
The Griddled Cheese with Pistachios and Honey at Greece was delicious. The flavors were unusual and reminded me of melted Brie with jam on top. The honey and chopped pistachios were inspirational.
Who wouldn’t like the Wild Mushroom and Truffle Tart at the Rotunda Bistro in the American Adventure? It was a perfect melding of sauteed mushrooms atop a puff pastry shell.
At the Alps, Richard had a wine flight, and I had the Blueberry and Almond Frangipane Tart. Since I love marzipan, this was a yummy dessert. The portion was large enough for us to share.
And how could I pass up the Traditional Macaroni and Cheese with Herbed Panko at Mac & Eats? If you’re a mac and cheese fan, you’ll want to make a stop there. Creamy with a slight crunch from the topping, this dish is the ultimate comfort food.
We were lucky to have perfect weather, partially cloudy in the low seventies, before a cold front came through the next day with heavy rain. It wasn’t terribly crowded at Epcot, which made for almost no waits in line anywhere. There were still other foods I might have liked to try but I got too full to eat anymore. The lower temperature and drier air made walking pleasant as we strolled around World Showcase. I achieved over 12,000 steps this day but counteracted it with all the extra calories consumed.
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We had the opportunity as WDW Passholders to preview Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure ride at Disney World’s Epcot theme park. Getting there was a hike. The trams weren’t running in the parking lots, presumably due to Covid changes, and so we had to make a trek in the heat to the gate. The entire front part of this theme park is being renovated, leading to long detours to get to World Showcase at the rear. Wear your sturdiest walking shoes if you plan to come. Here I am geared up. Besides my sun hat, I have on a rechargeable portable fan around my neck to keep me cool in the heat and a water bottle holder purchased at the Animal Kingdom.
On our way around World Showcase, we stopped at the Noodle Exchange to sample a bowl of Shrimp Coconut Curry Rice Noodles with Shitake Mushrooms and Thai Basil. Basically, we got three shrimps and a bowl of spicy broth with noodles. I didn’t care to fill up on a bowl of what was essentially chicken noodle soup, so I ate the shrimp and took a few spoonfuls of the broth. This satisfied my stomach until later, but by then it was too hot under the sun for me to have an appetite. I’ll come back to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival when it’s cooler out.
Since it wasn’t time yet for the ride, we stopped into the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along, a new attraction in the France pavilion. In a quiet, air-conditioned auditorium, you sit and watch an abbreviated version of the animated film unfold for approximately fifteen minutes. Closed captions encourage you to sing along with the characters, or you can sit back and relax and enjoy the music. It’s definitely worth a stop to experience this happy, feel-good experience. Here is Belle outside posing for photos.
At our appointment hour, we headed to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure to check in. We still had to snake through a line for about twenty minutes to enter the building. We noted a new Crepe restaurant next door that was bustling with customers. Once inside the Ratatouille ride, we wound through darkened corridors with these scenes.
Then we were herded into mouse cars. A safety bar lowered, and we swerved away from the dock on our trackless vehicle. Here we donned 3-D glasses and became part of the film. It was awesome how the effects were done. You really felt you were inside this house and careening through the kitchen, even scooting under the ovens with a hot blast of air. Twice we got spritzed with water as part of the action. All too soon, the ride was over. It swirls around a bit but it’s not jerky. If you keep your eyes on the visuals, you’re fine. It’s really an amazing technology, and I hope we’ll see more experiences like this one.
As we strolled through the rest of World Showcase, several Disney heroines made their appearances. Besides Belle above, here are Snow White, Princess Jasmine, and Alice in Wonderland.
We heard a mariachi band by the American pavilion. Back in Future World, we ducked by the new Space 220 Restaurant, which is already booked out 60 days in advance. You don’t need a reservation for the Lounge but be prepared to wait in line for an indeterminate time if you plan to visit the space station restaurant.
Gold statues of various characters are spotted around the park to commemorate Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. A long trek back to our parked car ended the day. We were happy but tired. I’m hoping the trams are running again by our next visit.
We took a break and went to the Animal Kingdom at Disney World to make use of our annual passes. Our parking space was within easy walking distance of the entrance so we were lucky in that regard. We walked along the shady paths toward Africa.
After stopping at Starbucks for some snacks to refuel our energy, we headed onto the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. No wait in the line, which we also saw later at Expedition Everest. The park is so spread out that it didn’t seem terribly crowded. We got front row seats in our safari vehicle.
The animals were strolling about or lazing in the heat. We viewed quite a few as you can see from these photos.
We lunched in Dinoland at a fast food place where we could sit indoors and enjoy the air-conditioning. On our way out, we browsed in the shops and then headed home tired but happy.
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We visited Epcot International Festival of the Arts at Disney World in Orlando. The tram let us off directly in front at the entrance instead of making us detour like last time due to construction. There was plenty of that going on inside the park. I liked how the baggage inspection is now in a shadier location with fans and multiple personnel so the process goes quicker. Spaceship Earth was open but the whole rest of the central portion of Future World was sectioned off due to remodeling.
We made our way around to the Land and watched the new film Awesome Planet. The scenery depicted was awesome indeed, including simulated flashes of light in the auditorium to accompany lightning on the screen and a sprinkle of water on my wrist when the screen showed rain. The film made me want to go right out and sign up for a conservation effort. We need to preserve our beautiful home planet so it’s safe for future generations.
At World Showcase, we turned left toward Mexico. Along the way, we stopped at the Pop Eats booth and sampled the sous-vide chicken roulade ($6.75). The dish was artistically presented and very tasty.
Next we tried the red wine-braised beef short ribs ($8.00) at Germany. The meat was very tender, accompanied by a dollop of mashed potatoes and broccolini. It was really good but didn’t leave much room in our stomachs for more.
I’d seen a dessert I wanted back at Pop Eats, so we returned there after making a full rotation around the lake. My husband got the cookie with strawberry filling ($4.50). I had the almond frangipane cake ($4.50) as I’m a fan of rainbow cakes. This was nice and moist. I’d ordered the popping bubbles cocktail as well. This champagne drink has gel pearls that burst in your mouth with extra flavor ($10.50).
There were other dishes I might have liked to try, but I got too full. Plus, it was hot out with temps in the eighties, and I was beginning to wilt. After a very long walk to the exit, we boarded the tram to the parking lot and headed home to relax in our air-conditioned condo.