Animal Kingdom at Disney World

We’ve visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom numerous times, and I never fail to admire the lush tropical landscaping, the attention to detail in the various lands, and the excellence of the live shows. This time we strolled around at our leisure, roaming first toward the great artificial tree of life. Myriads of paths criss-cross around the tree where you can stop for photo ops or to admire the animal life.

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At Africa, we passed on the safari ride that is my favorite, on the train ride to the conservation station, and on the longer nature trail. Instead, we opted to veer toward the Asian section where the snowy mountaintop towers over all, along with its thrill ride.

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We passed by the Dinosaur land and the kiddie carnival to head back once again toward the entrance and to lunch at the Rainforest Café. Their portions are generous and I had leftovers. Fortunately, we headed home thereafter as it began to rain heavily. The tram station at this park has no shelter. Once aboard, we got wet, despite my having brought along an umbrella. At least we’d accomplished our purpose in getting our morning exercise.

Another day here we started out eating breakfast at the Riverside Resort. We ate in the food court and then strolled among the lush grounds. It’s one of the most scenic resorts on Disney property.

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We ate dinner one night at Bahama Breeze, or rather we had drinks and appetizers and that was enough of a meal. I had coconut shrimp. My husband had a crab cake. And we shared the hummus platter. Make you hungry?

BB Crab

BB Shrimp      BB Hummus

Bahama Breeze

Epcot Garden Festival

April is a good month to visit Disney World. Other than April showers, mornings tend to be cool and daytimes in the eighties. This year at the Flower & Garden show was the first time Epcot had food booths around World Showcase. We merrily ate our way around, starting at Mexico where our kids got tacos. Next we came to my favorite site, Norway. The Maelstrom ride inspired my paranormal Drift Lords series based on Norse mythology. Don’t miss the little museum that displays costumed figures while you are there.

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At the Chinese marketplace called Lotus House, I couldn’t resist the Spring Pancake with Grilled Chicken and Green Apples. It was a generous portion and very tasty! And next at Germany, I had to try the potato pancake. I’m already getting full.

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I passed by a few of the booths, while my husband got a noodle dish that reminded me of worms like a Klingon might eat, and then he tried the smoked beef brisket at the American pavilion. We detoured at France to see the newly remodeled pastry shop then zipped past the UK and Canada. I had to get the pineapple soft serve ice cream at the Dole booth. We just couldn’t sample everything we might have liked.

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Another day we took a brisk stroll around Downtown Disney to see what’s new. Pleasure Island is scheduled for renovation but nothing has been done yet. It’s always pleasant to walk through this area and people watch.

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My main purpose in visiting Orlando this time wasn’t to sightsee, however. I attended the Florida Library Association convention where I spoke along with authors Sandra Balzo, Patrick Kendrick, Ron Farrington Sharp, and Elaine Viets. MWA sponsored the breakfast, where we introduced ourselves and answered questions about our publishing careers.

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Later in the morning, we spoke on a panel about New Possibilities in Publishing, discussing how the digital revolution has affected each of us on a personal basis. Now we have more choices than ever before in terms of sales and distribution of our work. Members of the audience asked pertinent questions during the Q&A Session.

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And now instead of touring by car, I am touring via the Web. Follow my blog tour and catch up on what you’ve missed so far. I’ve discussed Dreams at Terry’s Place http://bit.ly/10peaal and been interviewed at Love in a Book at http://loveinabook.com/?p=1182. You’ll learn something new about me at each tour stop that features a blog or interview. Find the full schedule here: https://nancyjcohen.com/appearances/

Epcot Food & Wine Festival

We ate our way around World Showcase at this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. This event runs from Sept. 28 – Nov. 12 so you have plenty of time to get there. You need a regular ticket to get into the theme park and then you buy the sample foods and drinks as you circle the lake and browse the marketplaces.

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We turned left and hit the Terra stand first, sampling the Chicken Curry with Basmati Rice. While I like curry dishes, this one was a bit spicy. I wanted to try the Jerk Chicken Drumstick with Mango Chutney at the Caribbean booth, but the line was too long, so we moved on to Argentina. Here I had the Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Puree (tastes like mashed potatoes with pesto sauce). This item cost $5.00. I believe prices went up this year because I don’t remember many dishes costing that much before.

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I might have liked the Shrimp on the Barbie or the Grilled Lamb Chop at Australia but saved them for another visit. One of our kids got the Shrimp Taco at Mexico and I had a taste. Good!

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On to Scandinavia, another favorite. Their Swedish Meatballs with Lingonberries is the best—even better than Ikea’s meatballs. This cost $3.50 each and was well worth the price. My husband had the Taste of Scandinavia for $4.00. This was a plate with cured salmon and herring and shrimp salad.

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China came next. I’ve had their Potstickers and Chicken Satay before so passed on it this time. Also walked past South Korea even though the Mung Bean Pancake with Shrimp looked interesting. South Africa is another favorite with Filet of Beef and Smashed Sweet Potatoes. It’s one of the most tender cuts of beef around and done just right for $5.00.

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We moved on past vendors with plates of cheeses, a Brewer’s Collection for beer drinkers, and skipped the Apple Strudel at Germany. One dish sounded really interesting at Poland—Toasted Mushrooms, Carmelized Onions and Cheese Bread—but I’ll have to save it for next time. We breezed past Italy to the American pavilion where I zeroed in on my favorite dessert, the Pumpkin Mousse at the “Hops and Barley” counter. For $1.50, this is a bargain. It comes in a mini-dessert cup like you get in some restaurants these days. It’s so good, I had to buy the Festival cookbook for the recipe ($16.95 plus tax).

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I wanted to get the Coq au Vin with Mac and Cheese at the France pavilion because it was so good last year, but I was too full already. I passed up the whole other side of World Showcase, unable even to taste the Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon at Canada or the Griddled Greek Cheese with Pistachios and Honey or the Chocolate Lava Cake at Ireland. I did go for the Mai Tai at Hawaii for the hefty price of $7.50. Save your money on this one. While I tasted some rum, it was a pleasant fruit drink in a plastic cup.

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Now I’ve made myself hungry again. I need to go back to try all things I missed on this trip. Next time, we’ll start from the opposite direction.

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China Pavilion                                                  New Wine Cellar Lounge at Italy

Star Wars Weekends

I’m taking a well-deserved break from writing to play in Orlando, visit family, and participate later today in a multi-author booksigning at B&L Books in Altamonte Springs. I hope you’ll join us if you’re in the area. Free giveaways!

Meanwhile, we visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We took a stroll around, having been on most of the rides on previous stopovers, ate lunch (a really good pressed turkey and cheese and sweet red pepper sandwich on multi-grain bread), and rode on The Great Movie Ride. I wish they’d update this attraction. I know it’s supposed to show classic films but it could use some nods to modern times.

A surprise came with a daily parade. As this month is Star Wars Weekends (or is it Star Tours, as per the ride?), the parade consisted of characters from the films. I’m not a parade enthusiast, but these costumes were wonderfully like the movies.

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Join me in person today:

Sunday, June 3, 1:00 – 3:00 pm, 25th Anniversary Signing, B & L Books, 990 N.S.R. 434, Suite 1140, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, 407-682-0090. Authors Nancy J. Cohen, Karen Rose, Karen Hawkins, Roxanne St. Claire, Robin Kaye, Lee Roland, James Gillen, Kristen Painter, and more. http://on.fb.me/Ktum3W

Epcot Food & Wine

As per our annual family tradition, we attended the Epcot Food & Wine Festival last weekend. The weather was perfect, delightfully cool in the morning and warming into the 70’s in the afternoon. World Showcase opens at 11am so we arrived by lunchtime, turning left toward Mexico. For those of you not familiar with this event, each country has a little pavilion where they offer samples of food and drink for a fee.

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Here are some photos from previous years. I didn’t bring a camera this time; too busy eating.

We passed on the entries at Chile, Brazil, and Puerto Rico but stopped at Argentina for the grilled beef skewer with chimichurri sauce and boniato puree ($4.75 per portion) and a glass of Kaiken cabernet ($5.50). Delicious. Next came Mexico. They have a whole new area across from the pyramid with a dine-in restaurant and counter service café with outdoor seating under cover. Our kids got the taco at their festival pavilion. We went past Poland, then came to China and just had to get their barbecue chicken stick. This was a generous portion and very tasty. We skipped South Korea, although the honey ginger tea sounded good.

At South Africa, the seared beef tenderloin with mango barbecue sauce and sweet potato puree is a good choice. I had to taste the shrimp cake with noodle salad at Singapore next ($3.50 each). Another tasty dish. Am I making your mouth water yet?

By now I was full, so I strode by Germany, Italy, the U.S., Japan, Australia and Morocco. I’d had some of these foods at previous forays anyway. Belgium was new and there was a long line. The baked Belgium waffle with berry compote and whipped cream was to die for. Very luscious and reasonably priced at $2.75. The Godiva chocolate liqueur iced coffee was expensive at $7.25, but I had to try it. Lip-smacking good.

Too full to eat more, we passed by Spain, resisted the chocolate crème brulee at France and the warm chocolate lava cake at Ireland, even the maple glazed salmon at Canada. Would have loved to try the items at Greece or the lamb slider at New Zealand, but we’ll save those for next year. My stomach always gets satiated halfway around World Showcase.

THE OTHER ORLANDO

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ORLANDO: BEYOND THE THEME PARKS

We could spend a weekend every month in Orlando and not just for the theme parks. There’s a lot to do in this vibrant and growing Central Florida city. Next time you visit, leave time to explore beyond the usual tourist sites.

Re the Theme Parks:  If you think of Walt Disney World as just the Magic Kingdom, think again. There’s Hollywood Studios with its behind-the-scenes glimpse into movie making and its own version of American Idol. Epcot showcases different countries and their wonderful restaurants along with Spaceship Earth and other fantastic rides. My favorite place is in The Land pavilion where you ride a boat and see the wondrous fruits and veggies growing in their hydroponics labs. The Animal Kingdom is the best, especially in Spring and Fall when the weather is warm with low humidity. It’s a habitat friendly zoo and rainforest mixed together with lush tropical foliage. They do animal conservation projects making this an eco-friendly park. Aside from Disney, Universal Studios has two parks including the brand new Harry Potter attraction. Seaworld and Aquatica and Dolphin Cove invite water-oriented exploration. You can spend a whole week at the theme parks, but then you’re missing the real Orlando. So keep your walking shoes on and venture beyond the theme park gates.

ORLANDO: THINGS TO DO
Copyright 2010 by Nancy J. Cohen
 
CHINATOWN: Asian markets and Vietnamese restaurants on E. Colonial Drive
 
COLLEGE PARK & BALDWIN PARK: Village Centers (shopping & dining)

 

DOWNTOWN DISNEY  (shopping, dining, attractions, movies, free parking)

FARMER’S MARKETS: Winter Park (Sat.); Lake Eola (Sun.)

FLEA MARKETS: Osceola; International Drive

LAKE EOLA: Sunday Farmers Market, Swan Boats, Lakeside Walking Trail, Amphitheater

MUSEUMS: Morse Museum of American Art, Orlando Science Museum, Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens, and more!

NATURE LOVERS: Henry P. Leu Gardens, Mead Garden, Lake Tibet Nature Preserve, Wekiva Springs State Park, Arboretum at UCF, and more.

PERFORMING ARTS : Regional Community Theatres, Orlando Ballet, Broadway shows, Cirque du Soleil, Dinner Theaters, and more.

SHOPPING: Prime Outlets, Premier Outlets, Millenia Mall, The Florida Mall, Pointe Orlando, Festival Bay Mall, Winter Garden Village, Park Avenue in Winter Park, Fashion Square Mall.

SPORTS: Orlando Magic, Disney’s Wide World of Sports, Golf, UCF Knights.

THORTON PARK: Downtown restaurants and clubs.

WINTER PARK: Park Avenue shopping & dining, Winter Park Village, Boat Ride, Saturday Farmer’s Market, Mead Garden, Henry P. Leu Gardens, Museums, Movies.

DAY TRIPS OUTSIDE OF ORLANDO

CASSADAGA (certified mediums give psychic readings)

DAYTONA BEACH

DELEON SPRINGS STATE PARK and Old Sugar Mill Pancake House

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER and COCOA BEACH

LAKERIDGE WINERY in Clermont 
 
MOUNT DORA (quaint town with shops, restaurants, train ride, nature walk, boat tour)
 
NEW SMYRNA BEACH

ST. AUGUSTINE  (Historical Sites, Museums, Shops, Restaurants and Beaches)

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