Come along with me as I recap the first half of our trip to the 2018 Walt Disney World Food and Wine Festival!
So this post was supposed to go up yesterday morning, but unfortunately our puppy girl was in the emergency room last night vomiting 🙁 She just loves to eat random things and so we were quite concerned that it could have been ingestion of a foreign body causing her symptoms, but it turns out she ate and then threw up some dried leaves and that led to a lot of irritation in her throat. Several x-rays and contrast studies later, they said she was good to return home with some medication to help calm the irritation in her throat. Poor baby! Suffice it to say, preparing this post for yesterday was not my biggest priority, but here we are today, ready to TALK DISNEY! So, let’s jump right in!
day one: flight
We like to fly into Disney on a late night flight on Friday afternoon/evening. This let’s us get settled in our hotel room without having to take a full day off work that Friday. We have typically had flights anywhere from 6-8pm, which puts us into Orland around 8:30-10:30pm. (Barring any delays, of course 😀 which is a risk we take).
I like to dress super comfy and in layers for the plane, because I always find airports and planes to be pretty chilly, but I want the option to take off a layer when we arrive in steamy hot Florida. This is my typical outfit, with a long-sleeved or short-sleeved t-shirt, my favorite NYDJ leggings (seriously, these are so bomb that I now own a total of three pairs. In the same color.), a leather jacket for layering, and my AllBirds sneakers. Sidebar: if you haven’t tried AllBirds yet, you are missing out on some of the comfiest sneakers you can purchase, in my opinion. And I do not like sneakers, because I don’t find them to be stylish at all, except for AllBirds! I love these wool running shoes in gray with the white soles, but I am planning to also purchase them in white, and possibly one of their fun limited edition colors too!
After an uneventful plane ride (in which the pilot warned us there would be much turbulence and there actually was not – for once!), we settled in with our luggage aboard Disney’s Magical Express. This is their complementary bus transportation to and from the airport for all guests staying on Disney property and flying in through Orlando’s airport. We love taking the Magical Express because during the day (actually, up until 10:00pm), you don’t have to worry about your luggage at all. Several weeks before your trip, they will mail you luggage tags for your bag. You just have to attached those to your checked bags and they grab the luggage for you at the airport and deliver it to your room later that day. Which is amazing if you’re the kind of person who would prefer to not have to worry about wrangling all your bags together for the journey to the hotel, and it allows you to just head out to the parks as soon as you want!
day two: animal kingdom
There’s only one thing you need to know about the weather for this trip: it. was. hot. It was in the low to mid 90’s all week, and while the first few days were quite lovely seeing as there were a lot of clouds in the sky, towards the end of the week it became a bit too much for us. While pretty much everyone we met who lives in Florida said it was unnaturally hot for this time of the year, we probably won’t choose to travel there again in September, and will likely keep future Disney Food and Wine Festival trips to late October or early November.
But, we weren’t going to let hot, sticky sweatiness stop us from having a great vacay! So our first day in the park we spent at my husband’s favorite park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We always start the morning in Animal Kingdom with a breakfast sandwich wrap and giant cinnamon roll from Kusafiri Bakery, our favorite breakfast joint for mornings at Animal Kingdom. It’s the perfect place for us because we love to hop onto the Kilimanjaro Safaris ride right after, which usually has a pretty short wait time (if any) in the early morning. We rode that a couple of times (it’s the hubby’s favorite: we joke that when he retires we’ll move here so he can drive the safari trucks in retirement 😀 ).
Then we headed over to another classic Animal Kingdom favorite: the Maharajah Jungle Trek. This is where you can see all kinds of animals including my favorite: the tigers! The immersive feeling of this trail is so fun too: it feels like you are trekking through Asia on an adventure!
Next up we traveled over to the newest area of Animal Kingdom: Pandora! This is based on the James Cameron movie, Avatar, and the new rides are incredible! There is a boat ride through a rainforest while you listen to the sounds of the Na’vi, which is absolutely beautiful. The Flight of Passage ride, however, takes the cake in terms of excitement: it is an incredible journey through the forest on the back of a banshee. As an adult (mostly), there aren’t many things that I find truly impressive when it comes to attempt of a theme park ride to suspend reality for me, but this ride is at the top of that list!
We had an incredible first day in the parks that was topped only by our dinner that night at Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs. We love Asian food, and Morimoto Asia is hands down one of our favorite restaurants in Disney World. Our spectacular meal was only surpassed by the fact that chef and owner Masaharu Morimoto was there that night, and we got to meet him and snap a photo! What an honor to meet such an accomplished chef! (So pretty much the rest of our trip was downhill from here :D).
day three: the magic kingdom
Our second day in the parks was at the most magical place on earth: The Magic Kingdom! This will always hold a special place in my heart because it’s where my husband and I got engaged in 2014. We stopped off quickly as soon as we got in the park at the place where it all happened to snap some photos!
We rode all our favorite rides in the morning, including Peter Pan’s Flight, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (my personal favorite!), Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Haunted Mansion, and the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride. Exhausted from roaming around the park, we tried one of the newer restaurants in the Magic Kingdom, Jungle Skipper Canteen Restaurant.
Now, as much as I lovvve the food in Walt Disney World (I mean let’s be honest, it’s one of the primary reasons I go there), before Jungle Skipper Canteen opened the table service restaurants at the Magic Kingdom left much to be desired, in my opinion. Probably the best of them was Liberty Tree Tavern, but it still was not my favorite. I used to prefer to visit one of the monorail resorts (Grand Floridian, Polynesian, or the Contemporary) for a lunch outside the park before returning. But Jungle Skipper Canteen has finally brought some truly delicious cuisine to this park, and I couldn’t be happier! Of note on the menu are our favorites: the shu mai, jungle green salad, and the “Tastes Like Chicken” entree.
We rode the train from the back of the park, and of course no trip to the Magic Kingdom is complete without some version of a Dole Whip!
For dinner, we tried a new restaurant in Disney Springs called Maria and Enzo’s Ristorante, an Italian style restaurant. The food was decent, but I don’t think it was the best Italian food I’ve had. There is some of the best italian in jacksonville fl restaurants, according to some sources, so we may have to give that a try and compare, but Italian food is all over, so it is important you take a look around and try out various places as one could be your go-to. As it was our first visit there and the place just opened recently, we would be willing to give it another shot before our final verdict, though.
day four: epcot
Finally: our first full day in Epcot for the Walt Disney World Food and Wine Festival! We had travelled into Epcot twice already on our trip for late night entertainment and the fireworks show, but today was our first actual meal at the festival.
My favorite thing about the Food and Wine Festival is being able to try so many different “small plates” of various foods and tastes, and this year’s festival did not disappoint! The full menu can be found here, but here were some of our first day highlights:
- The Beijing Roasted Duck Bao Bun with Hoisin Sauce from the China booth is always a favorite at the festival, and it’s easy to see why after you try your first one. I say “first one” because you will undoubtedly return to the booth – I think we had three of these buns during this trip, and I could have easily eaten more!
- The Warm Indian Bread with Pickled Garlic, Mango Salsa and Coriander Pesto Dips from the (you guessed it) India booth was excellent. The bread was warm and soft, and the sauces were a perfectly complimentary trio – it made us really excited to get to our dinner at Sanaa later in the week… stay tuned for part 2 for details!
- The Roast Bratwurst in a Pretzel Roll from the Germany booth was a surprising favorite of mine. I’m not a huge bratwurst fan, but this one was nice and juicy, and served with mustard and a delicious pretzel roll. Seriously, the highlight was for sure that pretzel roll!
- At the Japan booth, they were serving a bun to rival the duck bao bun from China: the Teriyaki Chicken Bun. This steamed bun is filled with chicken, veggies and a sweet teriyaki sauce, and it came in a close second to the duck bao!
- Dessert wise, the Cannoli filled with Sweet Ricotta, Chocolate and Candied Fruit from the Italy booth was stellar, but I am a real sucker for a cannoli. Like, anytime, anywhere, people.
After a late afternoon nap (which I am a huuuuge advocate for when it comes to long days at Disney World), we got ready and headed out to the Boardwalk for dinner at BlueZoo and some evening fun!
BlueZoo is one of our favorite restaurants on Disney property, and it is located in the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel. Their food is exceptional, the ambiance is luxurious, and the service is always on point. The cherry on top of the cake was that they were playing all my favorite songs, one after the other. I have always wondered how they play music in restaurants and other eating places. Do they just plug in their phones and play their favorite playlist from Spotify? Or is the process for using such platforms for commercial use any different? Anyone having the same doubts can head to https://cloudcovermusic.com/music-for-business/spotify-other-services/ or similar web pages to learn more. Coming to the food, our eyes consistently tend to be bigger than our stomachs at BlueZoo, which is a testament to their incredible menu! Even to the point where we ordered this delish earl gray tea cake with mousse for dessert and my husband literally could not handle it. (PSA: We finished it. The whole thing.)
day five: hollywood studios
The next day was another exciting first for us: our first trip to the new Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! The wait was well worth it: this new area is so playful and whimsical, and makes you feel like you are just a little toy in Andy’s backyard! I love it! We got to ride all three rides in Toy Story Land, including the new Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster – which is super fun! I was unfortunately so excited that I failed to snap very may photos of the new land, so I guess that leaves something for next time!
For dinner, we ended up back at Epcot to eat at Teppan Edo, a hibachi restaurant in the Japan pavilion. This is one of our go to meals every trip, and it did not disappoint! We were considering having some dessert at one of the booths for the Food and Wine Festival, but decided to try the new Ample Hills Creamery on the Boardwalk. We were having a hard time deciding which flavors to get, and if you find yourself in the same boat, I recommend the same option we took: their sampler plate! You get to pick small scoops of six flavors so you can try all your choices!
So that was the first five days of our trip, and I’ll be posting about the last half of our trip soon! So let me know below: what is your favorite Disney park and why?