Our Favorite Valentine’s Day Places At Walt Disney World

Happy Valentine’s Day!

We thought that to celebrate the day, we would share some of our ideal places to celebrate at Walt Disney World!

Valentine's Day

Beth

A fun unique way to spend Valentines Day at WDW for me is to take a stroll around the Boardwalk. Grab some dinner & drinks while taking in a view of Illuminations before ending the night at Jellyrolls for a fun sing-a-long. 

Betsy

One of the most romantic things I love to do at Walt Disney World is stroll around with that special someone. I have a few places in particular that I enjoy. One of my favorites is Epcot at night. The parks transforms when the torches are lit before Illuminations and the ambient noise from guests seems the die down. I especially love finding a quiet spot in France by the back gardens or tucked away while everyone else is getting ready for the fireworks and listening to the beautiful French accordion music. Enjoying a toast with an adult beverage or even a snack from the patisserie is a great way to cap off a romantic stroll around World Showcase. 

 

If you are looking for romance outside the parks, also in the evenings I really enjoy walking around the gardens at Port Orleans French Quarter, maybe after enjoying some beignets! After all, the French do seem to know what they’re doing when it comes to l’amour <3!  I also would never turn down a romantic walk around the Polynesian with the palms swaying in the breeze, ukelele and steel guitar music gently wafting through the air, sand beneath my toes, and a view of Wishes fireworks from the beach would make almost anyone swoon. 

 

Dining options around Walt Disney World are prevalent, but it can sometimes be hard to picture a romantic place that is quiet and sans children. Of course if I had the choice, I’d pick dressing up with my man to go to Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian where no children under 12 are admitted and the tones are decidedly hushed. I’d also prefer not to pay that bill ;). Looking for something a bit more affordable, but still with a nice atmosphere, I like Artist Point at the Wilderness Lodge or Flying Fish at the Boardwalk. Both are quieter than most other restaurants I’ve found on property and have a nice ambiance, great food and wine to match. 

Gail

There are many restaurants and places to go for Valentines day, depending on how extravagant one is willing to go.

 

For me, if I’m not planning on going to a restaurant or park, one of my favorite things is fireworks. So my recommendation would be to go to The Polynesian, pick up a coffee and a sweet snack and head down to the beach area. If it’s chilly be sure to take a blanket, which can be used to sit on too. 

 

The view from the beach at the Polynesian is special as you don’t need park access, and the view is stunning as you get the reflections off the lake too.  Just be sure to get there around 15/20 minutes before they begin so you can secure a good viewing spot. 

Watching the fireworks with your loved one can be so romantic, especially snuggled up with a hot beverage by the beach! Don’t forget a selfie to capture your night! 

Jillian

I’d love to spend Valentine’s Day with a nice meal at Yachtsman Steakhouse followed by a night time stroll around Crescent Lake or World Showcase. Then cap the evening off with any of the firework spectaculars. 

Kelly Hicks

My ideal Valentine’s Day at WDW would have to be in the World Showcase at Epcot. I especially love wandering around at night when the pavilions are lit up. Maybe grab an ice cream cone at L’Artisan des Glaces in France – my favorite flavor is profiterole! – and do a little window shopping. Of course the night wouldn’t be complete without a viewing of Illuminations!

Kelly Walker

When I think romance (which I hardly ever do in general) around Disney World, I immediately think of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Not only is it one of our favorite restaurants, but it tends to be quite one-on-one. It’s normally not loud and while it’s “fancy”, it’s got a laid back feel to it as well. And if you’re not looking to spend a bunch of money on dinner, a favorite of mine is to get a good spot on the train station and watch Wishes from there.

Mike

If I could pick somewhere to spend Valentines Day in Walt Disney World it would have to be experiencing a romantic candlelit dinner at the California Grill located within the Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Not only does this location have excellent food and atmosphere, but it also provides for some of the greatest views of the entire Walt Disney World property. Located on the 15th floor, the California Grill provides views of the Magic Kingdom, the Seven Seas Lagoon, Bay Lake and numerous other landmarks on Disney World property. There’s nothing quite like being able to catch a Florida sunset from the top of the Contemporary Resort while enjoying an excellent glass of wine and top notch cuisine. At the end of the night you can head out onto the balcony and top off your romantic evening with a breathtaking view of Wishes, the Magic Kingdom’s night time spectacular. In my opinion the California Grill is one of the most romantic dining options on Walt Disney World property and an excellent way to spend your Valentines Day. 

Shelley

My favorite date night with Dave is a little bit corny, but we love to head to the Magic Kingdom. We have a ‘light’ dinner of appetizer’s at Tony’s Town Square, take a stroll through the park as the sunsets, and then settle into our favorite spot for the rest of the night. We head over to Sleepy Hollow Refreshments to grab a funnel cake and a table near the castle. Sleepy Hollow is an awesome spot, because you can watch the Main Street Electrical Parade and Celebrate the Magic before heading to the castle to watch Wishes! I love our Magic Kingdom nights, because it’s a great chance to slow down and I don’t have to share my treats with Zoe!!!

Wherever you are celebrating today, we hope that your Valentine’s Day is awesome!

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Wordless Wednesday – Christmas in Orlando

Wordless Wednesday – December 25, 2013

We want to wish everyone celebrating today a very Merry Christmas!

We hope that you all have a day full of family, fun, and love!

Merry Christmas from Orlando!!!

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Epcot’s Candlelight Processional

While Candlelight Processional at Walt Disney World is a must do for many of my friends, this year was the first time I’ve ever watched it!

httpv://youtu.be/05w8C62Emdg

I grew up in the parks and I’m sure we were here around Christmas time, however, even as an adult, I can’t believe I had never seen this show before. This is definitely the way to get you in the holiday mood!

Candlelight Processional IMG_7074

It was quite the experience!

Watching the cast choir fill into all their spots.

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Listening to and enjoying the live orchestra.

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And then there was Gary Sinise, who was the narrator for the night that I was in attendance. (For a full list of Candlelight Processional narrators for 2013, you can view the list here.)

It was so awesome to watch his reactions to certain songs – you can catch some of his head bobbing in the video above 🙂

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While I am not a religious person, the songs and show are put together so well and I know that the cast members put in a lot of time for each of their practices.

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I hope to now make this a yearly tradition!

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Do you have a favorite narrator that you have to see? Is there someone that you would like to see added to the list of narrators at Epcot’s Candlelight Processional?

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Wordless Wednesday: Germany Glass Ornament Artist

Wordless Wednesday:

December 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday
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Disney Vacation Club Merry Member Mixer

Merry Member Mixer

Come ring in the season with Disney Vacation Club! Mingle with fellow Members at the Merry Member Mixer as you enjoy festive entertainment and complimentary refreshments. Plus, you’ll be able to purchase a limited-edition Disney Vacation Club holiday trading pin (while supplies last).

Celebrate, share, and always discover vacations you never outgrow.

LOCATION
Epcot at the World Showplace Pavilion
Located between the Canada and United Kingdom Pavilions

CELEBRATE THE SEASON ON ONE OF THESE DATES
November 25
December 2
December 9
December 16

TIME
3:00 PM to 5:00 PM

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runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Meet-Up

On Thursday, November 7, runDisney held their first nighttime meet-up leading into the Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend. Previously, meet-ups had always been held on weekday morning and I wouldn’t have been able to attend due to work. As soon as I saw that this one would be held at night, I jumped at the chance to sign up. Luckily, I got my email in quick enough and I made the list of 125 attendees!

 

Check-in began at 7:00, but the meet-up didn’t officially start until 8:30 where we were to be in place at Mexico Vista for Illuminations. I got there around 7:30 and received my admission ticket, a runDisney shirt made specifically for the meet-up that we were asked to change into, and a fastpass for Test Track to be used that night. With some free time on my hands, I wandered around World Showcase for a bit.

 

Soon it was time for the first part of the evening – Illuminations! This is my favorite nighttime show at Walt Disney World so I was especially excited to have a prime viewing spot.

Illuminations

After waiting for some of the park crowd to thin out, we made our way over to the America Gardens Theatre. There were a couple food stations set out, one with the Trick’n Chick’n Curry from the Terra booth at the Food and Wine Festival. I hadn’t had the chance to try that yet so I was happy to have that opportunity and ended up really liking it! They also had samplings of chardonnay from The Vegan Vine. I can honestly say that I had no idea that there was vegan wine. It was really good too!

 

Chef Mickey was also available during this time for pictures. I also took the opportunity to meet Jeff Galloway, whose run-walk-run method I follow. He was so nice and was genuinely happy to hear from everyone about how they were doing in their training.

Chef Mickey Jeff Galloway

Soon it was time to hear from a few speakers. First up, sports media director Darrell Fry and Faron Kelley, Director of Marketing and Communications for Disney Sports, came up to give out some prizes. I was really hoping to win one of the certificates for a future runDisney race entry! Next up was Jeff Galloway and nutritionist Tara Gidus. They spoke about how great runDisney has been in making running accessible to so many people. I, for one, probably would not be running if it wasn’t for volunteering for one of their races and seeing how fun it could be. Tara also gave some advice on fueling up for a night race.

Giveaways
Giveaway time!

We also heard from a couple of Epcot chefs who told us about foods that might be good for us to try during the party after finishing the Wine and Dine Half Marathon. One excellent suggestion was the salmon from the Scotland booth. My friends and I definitely enjoyed that one after the race!

chefs

Representatives from New Balance spoke a bit about the shoes that were designed for runDisney. They have been wildly popular with long lines to purchase at the race expos. They let us know that the current versions would only be available through Wine and Dine Weekend and the 2014 design would be available at Marathon Weekend in January. Sneak peeks will be coming so keep an eye out on Twitter! Other new merchandise next year will include race specific shoe inserts and lace charms. We got to see the race inserts and they looked great!

NewBalance
Ali from New Balance shows off the new shoe inserts. Photo courtesy of runDisney

Next up – time to run! There were two running groups: one for straight running and one for run-walk-run. I went with the latter and off we went through an empty World Showcase. The torches and countries had remained lit after Illuminations, which was pretty cool. We ran one and a half times around the lagoon, ending up by the Fountain of Nations for some group photos.

runDisney Group Shot
Photo courtesy of runDisney

After photos, we headed to the front of the park for a toast. The meet ended around midnight and was a great start to a fun Wine and Dine Weekend! If you ever have the chance to attend a runDisney meet-up, I would definitely recommend it!

Cheers
A toast under Spaceship Earth
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Wordless Wednesday: A Journey Back Through Time

Wordless Wednesday – October 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

This week’s Wordless Wednesday takes us to my all time favorite ride at Walt Disney World, Epcot’s Spaceship Earth. I rode Spaceship earth for the first time in 1986, and every time I am greeted by this mural I can’t help but smile and think of riding with my blue Fisher Price camera!

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Best Bathrooms in Disney

I thought I would take this time to share some of my favorite bathrooms around Walt Disney World and Disneyland. I know this may not be the most glamorous subject, but I thought it would be fun. Hey, maybe you’ll find a new favorite spot. This is certainly subjective, but I am basing my list on a few things. Theming is one parameter, location is another, and size/stall to guest ratio. They don’t all have to meet all criteria and they are not listed in any particular order.

Magic Kingdom Bathrooms

I have to say the Tangled bathrooms in the Magic Kingdom are probably the most themed I’ve ever seen. Rapunzel’s tower is illuminated at night and the surrounding area is beautifully decorated around the village near Rapunzel’s parents’ castle and the Snuggly Duckling. Lanterns are lit up at night and hang above the area to provide a gentle light at night. Outside there are seating clusters even with charging stations. Inside the theming is carried on even further (at least in the ladies room) to reflect many of Rapunzel’s hobbies featured in the opening song of Tangled. Plus, there are tons of stalls and I’ve never had to wait.

Tangled bathroomTangled 2Tangled 3Tangled 4Tangled 5Tangled 6

As a runner up, I’d choose the bathrooms in the Fantasyland train station. They aren’t quite as spacious as the Tangled toilets, but they are very pretty. Honorable mention in the Magic Kingdom goes to the New Fantasyland bathrooms behind Gaston’s Tavern.

Disneyland Bathrooms

Hands down my favorite bathrooms in Disneyland are the Alice in Wonderland bathrooms adjacent to the Alice attraction and the Matterhorn. Friends of mine steered me to these bathrooms to check them out on my first trip and I wasn’t disappointed. While Alice in Wonderland isn’t one of my favorite Disney films, the attraction is my favorite dark ride in Fantasyland. I loved these bathrooms with the cards for the stall doors and the hearts on the light fixtures.

Alice bathroomAlice 2Alice 3Alice 4Alice 5Alice 6

I haven’t seen them in person, but a shoutout to the Club 33 bathrooms must be made. Also, have to give props to the Tiki Room bathrooms as the only bathrooms to my knowledge inside of an attraction.

Epcot Bathrooms

Just recently the new bathrooms opened in the American Adventure pavilion, which might now usurp the position of my favorite bathrooms from the old Millennium Village/now World Showplace bathrooms as my favorite in World Showcase. I have to give the edge to America because the World Showplace bathrooms are often only open for special events or during super crowded times of the year like New Year’s Eve. The new bathrooms are also much prettier with a colonial theme (or as colonial as you can get with Dyson airblade hand dryers).

American Adventure bathroomAmerican Adventure 2American Adventure 3American Adventure 4 American Adventure 5

In Future World, I adore the bathrooms tucked away to the right of the entrance to the Imagination Pavilion. So few people seem to know these exist I have rarely seen more than one or two other people here. Bonus points are definitely awarded for the bright rainbow colors carrying over the theming from the pavilion and the fact I’ve never had to wait in line for these bathrooms.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Bathrooms

My pick here for best bathrooms comes down to a matter of convenience and accessibility. The restrooms outside of the American Idol Experience to the right of the attraction entrance aren’t themed at all. They are purely functional, however they are, from what I’ve found, consistently the least crowded bathrooms anywhere in the park. These bathrooms are also pretty centrally located just off of Hollywood Boulevard to the left of the Sorcerer’s Hat.

Disney California Adventure Bathrooms

On first thinking of this post, my immediate answer was the beautifully themed new bathrooms on Buena Vista Street on the right a little after the park entrance. I loved the colors and how they fit right in with the style of Hollywood in the late 20s and early 30s. When I mentioned this post to Shelley, she added the bathrooms in Carthay Circle as a suggestion. I forgot how great these were as well with pictures of Walt and other celebs from the time of the premiere of Snow White at the Carthay Circle Theatre in the 1930s.

Buena Vista Street bathroomBuena Vista Street 2Buena Vista Street 3Buena Vista Street 4Buena Vista Street 5Carthay 1Carthay 2Carthay 3Carthay 4Carthay 5Carthay 6

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Bathrooms

The best themed bathrooms are tucked away in a corner of Camp Minnie-Mickey just outside the exit to the Festival of the Lion King. These are rarely busy, except right after a show of FotLK lets out. They are representative of the decor with a camp style reminiscent of the woods that currently surround them. I say currently because these bathrooms are probably not long for this world with the relocation of Lion King to Africa. The proposed Avartarland expansion of this section of the park will surely be the end of these bathrooms, at least in their current state. I can’t imagine they’d fit in with the landscape of Pandora.

 

What are some of your favorite bathrooms at Walt Disney World or Disneyland? Did I miss any?

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Ocean Spray Bog Returns to Epcot for Food & Wine Festival

Ocean Spray Returns to Epcot For The18th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

The Ocean Spray Bog is back with tips on how to incorporate cranberries into everyday living

Ocean Spray Bog

At the 18th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival park guests have the opportunity to learn about how cranberries are grown and how every part of this versatile fruit is used at the cranberry bog near the Fountain of Nations.

httpv://youtu.be/FG6Nc_Gxz0E

I had the chance to take a dip in the bog, to talk to a few of the Ocean Spray growers, and to try several dishes from around the world that were created with cranberries and Craisins to kick of the Festival!

Ocean Spray Bog

This was my second year strapping on waders and heading into the bog, and it is was just as much fun as it was the first time around. The floating berries, chatting with people as they are walking by, and talking to Ocean Spray growers and hearing their family stories is a great way to spend an evening.

Ocean Spray Bog
Our menu of international dishes featuring Craisins

The international dishes we were able to sample were absolutely amazing! I would have never thought of some of these cranberry flavor combinations, but they were delightful!

My favorites were the Craisin glazed Pork Belly with white cheddar maple grits with cranberry and sea salt cured wild salmon with maple sugar crystals from Canada, the Craisin infused five spice char Kobe beef with Sriracha with Craisin vegetable fried rice from Japan, and the mole shrimp quesadilla with cranberry salsa from Mexico. The artisan cheese stuffed mini Craisin Brioche from France was also delicious!

Ocean Spray Bog
The pork belly from Canada was beyond tender and flavorful and the salmon had a sweet undertone that cut paired well with the natural taste of wild salmon.
Ocean Spray Bog
While the Kobe Beef was definitely the star of this dish from Japan, the cranberry and Sriracha combo of slightly tart and spicy was amazing!
Ocean Spray Bog
I am always a sucker for mexican dishes, but the sweet mole shrimp quesadilla filling that with a tart and spicy cranberry salsa made for a tasty pair!

Also until November 11th, chefs at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will showcase the delicious versatility of Craisins Dried Cranberries through select chef demonstrations and private events, at certain restaurants, and at the Hops & Barley Marketplace.

“The beauty of the cranberry isn’t just what you see on the outside, it’s how it makes you feel on the inside,” said Ken Romanzi, COO, Ocean Spray Global. “Through our sponsorship at the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, we can illustrate the many ways cranberries can be incorporated into snacks and meals every day, and educate guests about the healthy origins of the fruit.”

The cranberry bog at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is filled with more than 1,000 lbs. of floating cranberries, and is manned with Ocean Spray farmers all to happy to share their heritage, passion for growing cranberries, and spread the word about the healt benefits from these tasty fruits!

If you are passing through Epcot during the Festival, make sure you stop by the bog for a bit to talk to one of Ocean Spray Bog farmers and I am sure you will be surprised at how versatile the cranberry really is and also make sure you try one of the many tasty Craisin dishes!

Ocean Spray Bog
Good night from the Ocean Spray Bog!

Can’t make it to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival? Visit www.oceanspray.com for delicious everyday ideas and seasonal inspirations from around the world. Cranberry lovers eager to share their stories and recipes are encouraged to tweet @OceanSprayInc or post on Ocean Spray’s Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram pages.

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Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival Returns This Week

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Each year, Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival continues to be one of the most anticipated special events for guests of Walt Disney World. Around World Showcase, kiosks are setup for the festival that feature food and beverages from countries and regions around the world. This year includes more than 25 kiosks with returning favorites, and new offerings from Scotland like the seared salmon, vegetarian haggis, and banoffee tart. The Scottish booth will also serve Innis & Gunn Original beer, which I recently discovered at the Grand Floridian, and what I may be most excited about, Scotch tastings from Glenfiddich with 12, 15 and 18 years included in the flight.

The kiosks will presumably, like in years past, take Disney Dining Plan snack credits for payment for most of the food and some non-alcoholic beverages. This is a fantastic use of your snack credits if you are on the dining plan as some of these individual items can often cost upwards of $6 or $7 like the lobster dishes at the Hops & Barley kiosk. The festival will definitely have me going back to some of my favorites including the escargot in France, Fisherman’s pie and cheese plate in Ireland, kahlua pork sliders and tuna poke from Hawaii, Florida shrimp ceviche, and Schinken nudel in Germany.

Ceviche
Ceviche
Lobster Roll
Lobster Roll

Another great thing about the Food & Wine Festival is that  you get the opportunity to try some of the featured menu items from some of Epcot’s restaurants that you may not be able to get into very easily, like Le Cellier in Canada. For those not fortunate enough to get a reservation, don’t despair. You can sample the restaurant’s cheddar cheese soup and filet mignon with truffle sauce at this year’s festival booth.

In addition to the kiosks, the festival plays host to celebrity chefs and representatives from vineyards and other spirit companies. Many special events are offered over the festival’s almost two month span from September 27 through November 11 this year. Seminars and mixology classes along with tastings are among some of the more affordable extras that can start as low as $10 or so for some (occasionally passholder discounts are offered for select events). Other special parties, like the Party for the Senses, can go to upwards of $200 per person. Check out the festival page to see more details or call (407) 939-3463 to book.

One of the most fun parts of the festival is the Eat to the Beat Concert Series. This year new acts join some of the favorites that have been coming back for years. Last year I got to see both Sugar Ray and Boyz II Men put on great concerts. This year’s lineup (subject to change and courtesy of Disney) is as follows:

9/27-9/29 STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas “We Built This City”
9/30-10/1 NEW! The Go-Go’s “We Got The Beat”
10/2-10/4 Air Supply “All Out of Love”
10/5-10/6 Sister Hazel “All for You”
10/7-10/9 Sugar Ray “Fly”
10/10-10/11 NEW! Edwin McCain “I’ll Be”
10/12-10/13 NEW! The Manhattan Transfer “Boy From New York City”
10/14-10/15 NEW! Wilson Phillips “Hold On”
10/16-10/17 The Pointer Sisters “I’m So Excited”
10/18-10/20 Night Ranger “Sister Christian”
10/21-10/23 Boyz II Men “End of the Road”
10/24-10/25 Survivor “Eye of the Tiger”
10/26-10/27 38 Special “Caught Up in You”
10/28-10/30 Smash Mouth “Walkin’ on the Sun”
10/31-11/1 NEW! Spin Doctors “Two Princes”
11/2-11/3 NEW! Christopher Cross “Sailing”
11/4-11/5 Hanson “Get the Girl Back”
11/6-11/8 Dennis DeYoung
original member of the group STYX
“Come Sail Away”
11/9-11/11 Big Bad Voodoo Daddy “Go Daddy-O”

 

Concerts take place in the America Gardens Theatre at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00pm each night. Some of these performers can be very popular and guests have been known to line up hours in advance to try to get seats for the show. If there is someone that you really want to see, try to get there an hour or so ahead of time to give yourself the best chance to get into the theatre. If you don’t get in, rest assured, you can still see/hear the music and the band from elsewhere in the American pavilion.

I cannot wait for the Food & Wine Festival to start! This is one of my favorite events of the year, I often try to spread out my visits over three or four days to sample a few items each time. This gives me time to digest between booths and also to give my wallet a rest since you can literally spend hundreds to thousands if you were to purchase each item at each booth of the festival. I won’t be able to go for a few weeks, but I know many who are going this weekend.

Fisherman's Pie
Fisherman’s Pie

Have you been to Epcot for the International Food & Wine Festival? If so, what are some of your favorite items? Have you done any of the special events or tastings? What are you most looking forward to? Let us know!

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Disney Dish: Epcot’s Biergarten’s Nudel Gratin

Last month on the Disney Parks Blog, a post was published about new menu items at the Biergarten in Epcot. Included in this article was a recipe for the new to the buffet nudel gratin. Looking at the pictures alone made me hungry for this Disney dish, so I decided to give it a shot making it at home.

Here is the recipe from the Parks Blog:

Nudel Gratin 
Serves 8 to 10

2 cups heavy cream
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch ground white pepper
Pinch nutmeg
4 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded
4 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 pound cooked elbow macaroni

    1. Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a 16×9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
    2. Combine cream, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a large bowl, whisking to combine. Toss cheeses together in a small bowl until combined; remove 1 cup cheese and set aside. Stir remaining cheeses into cream mixture.
    3. Cook macaroni until just tender; drain and add cream mixture, stirring immediately. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil.
    4. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil, and sprinkle reserved cheese over top of noodles. Bake 15 minutes longer.
    5. Cool 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve warm.

My Disney Dish: Nudel Gratin

Nudel gratin is essentially a form of macaroni in cheese to put it in its simplest terms. The basics are there with elbow macaroni pasta, cheese, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg and eggs. I have made mac and cheese from scratch before, but had forgotten how much time it takes in comparison to opening a box of Kraft or heating up Stouffer’s frozen mac and cheese. Make sure you read through the entire recipe including the instructions and not just the ingredients before you start cooking. I made the mistake of not doing so and didn’t realize until I was ready for it that I was out of aluminum foil and had to go out and get some even though the food was ready to go in the oven. I don’t think it had any adverse affect delaying the baking, but it made dinner later, which was annoying. So make sure you have your baking dish, mixing bowls, cooking spray, aluminum foil, etc. all ready to go along with your ingredients.

Ingredients
Ingredients
Baking pan
Baking pan
Preheating oven
Preheating oven
Boiling water
Boiling water

Since I couldn’t find shredded white cheddar or swiss cheese with the other shredded cheeses at Publix, I bought blocks of each type of cheese and ended up grating them myself. This also added just a couple minutes to the relatively quick prep time of otherwise about 15-20 minutes. Most of the prep time was taken up by preheating the oven while waiting for the water to boil and cooking the pasta. While these were happening that didn’t need active supervision, I combined the cream, eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cheeses. Total start to finish time with preheating, prep work, baking and cooling should take about an hour and ten minutes, so make sure you set aside a good amount of time before dinner to start.

Adding salt into cream and egg mixture
Adding salt into cream and egg mixture
Grating cheese
Grating cheese
Incorporating half of the cheese into cream mixture
Incorporating half of the cheese into cream mixture
Cooked pasta before adding cheese and cream
Cooked pasta before adding cheese and cream

Overall, my brother and I thought it turned out well, and we would definitely have it again. We served it with ham and peas with a chardonnay, which seemed to complement the pasta dish well. Have you tried to make your favorite Disney dish at home? I’ve tried a few with varying degrees of success, but this was one of the best results and best tasting recipes I’ve made from Walt Disney World. Give it a try if you’re looking for a relatively easy, albeit time consuming, dish to start.

Pasta with cheese and cream mixture before baking
Pasta with cheese and cream mixture before baking
Pasta after baking 30 minutes with cheese and cream
Pasta after baking 30 minutes with cheese and cream
Remaining cheese on top after baking for 30 minutes
Remaining cheese on top after baking for 30 minutes
Nudel gratin
Nudel gratin
Close up
Close up
Plated dish
Plated dish
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Baby Care Center – Epcot

This post is the second in a mini series about the Baby Care Centers at Walt Disney World, there will be four total; one for each theme park.

For the first post we went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and for this installment we will be traveling to Epcot.

 

Signs to the Baby Care Center.

 

Epcot’s Baby Care Center is located in the Odyssey building next to First Aid. It’s about as centrally located as you can get in a park with a lagoon in the middle. Strollers can’t come into this Baby Care, but there is parking right outside the doors.  

 

Stroller parking area, right outside.

 

When you first walk in, there is a little lobby area with a couch, usually occupied by dads or grandparents. There is a short hallway & then you are usually greeted by the Cast Member stationed there. 

Little lobby.

 

To the right is the little play room. There is a TV in there playing Disney Channel or a Disney movie, several chairs for sitting, & some toys for the kids to play with. A minor thing to consider, there is no food allowed in this room. 

Play room.

 

A little further down the hall on the right are full sized adult restrooms. A nice thing to have right there. The hallway ends with the changing room. There are four large, nicely padded changing tables in this room, along with a hand washing sink. 

Roomy changing tables.

 

Continuing back down the hall (as if you were headed to the exit), you have the feeding room/mini gift shop. This room has a few small merchandise displays of Baby Mickey & Minnie plush, rattles, bibs, & onsies. This area has a child sized table and chairs along with high chairs and regular sized chairs for adults. 

The feeding room, with merchandise.

 

The next room is the kitchen & supplies room, very important!! They have filtered water, a microwave, sterilizer, bottle warmer, & a sink. They also carry all those forgot to grab before you left the house/hotel items or things you just run out of. They have bottles, pacifiers, diaper kits, food, sippy cups, formula, juice, sunscreen, sundries & some childrens medicines!

Kitchen/merchandise shop.

 

Items available for sale.

 

Last but not least, is the nursing room. Not my favorite of the four parks, but at least it’s there! This nursing room, unlike the ones at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which I’ll cover later) is a public one. Only nursing mothers are allowed in the room, but it still holds 4 at a time. The room is quite large, it has 4 non-padded wooden rocking chairs, each side of the room has a small table between the 2 chairs, outlets all over the room for pumping or charging a cell phone, and there are dimmer lights over each chair. If the room is set up properly by the Cast, the four chairs all face the center of the room. A lot of mothers will turn their chair around to face the wall instead. Most of the time when we’ve gone in there, we’re either the only ones or there is only one other person in there. Only once have I ever gone in (and we go at least once a month) and there been a wait, all 4 chairs occupied and one lady nursing sitting on the floor. That is far from a normal day though!

Door to the nursing room.

 

Chairs in the nursing room.

 

Of all four Baby Care Centers, this is our second most visited and our third favorite! Stay tuned for our next installment!

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Epcot’s Eat To The Beat Concert Series Line-Up

Eat to the Beat

With this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival right around the corner, September 27 – November 11, it’s time to look at the line up for the Eat to the Beat Concert Series!

I am really excited about the new acts that will be joining this year’s lineup! The new bands include the Go-Go’s, Edwin McCain, The Manhattan Transfer, Wilson Phillips, Spin Doctors and Christopher Cross. And I am even more happy to see that so many of my favorites like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Sugar Ray, and Boyz II Men are returning!!!

Eat to the Beat

Here is the full Eat to the Beat Concert schedule:

  • Sept. 27-29 – Starship starring Mickey Thomas
  • Sept. 30-Oct. 1 – Go-Go’s
  • Oct. 2-4 – Air Supply
  • Oct. 5-6 – Sister Hazel
  • Oct. 7-9 – Sugar Ray
  • Oct. 10-11 – Edwin McCain
  • Oct. 12-13 – Manhattan Transfer
  • Oct. 14-15 – Wilson Phillips
  • Oct. 16-17 – The Pointer Sisters
  • Oct. 18-20 – Night Ranger
  • Oct. 21-23 – Boyz II Men
  • Oct. 24-25 – Survivor
  • Oct. 26-27 – 38 Special
  • Oct. 28-30 – Smash Mouth
  • Oct. 31-Nov. 1 – Spin Doctors
  • Nov. 2-3 – Christopher Cross
  • Nov. 4-5 – Hanson
  • Nov. 6-8 – Dennis DeYoung
  • Nov. 9-11 – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

The Eat to the Beat Concert Series is free with admission to Epcot, and takes place in the American Gardens Theater in World Showcase nightly at 5:30 pm, 6:45 pm, and 8:00 pm. The concerts are about 30 minutes long, but you will want to be prepared to line up extra early if it is one of your favorite bands!!!

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Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sneak Preview “Taste Your Way Around The World”

2013foodandwinebanner

Tables in Wonderland Food & Wine Festival Special Event

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sneak Preview “Taste Your Way Around The World”

Odyssey Pavilion at Epcot®

Saturday July 27, 2013 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Price: $133.13, tax and gratuity included

 

Counting down the days to the Festival?  Looking forward to international marketplaces featuring tasty tapas-sized dishes and refreshing beverages? Eager to try your hand at mixology?  Ready for some Culinary Demonstrations? Excited to enjoy an exhilarating outdoor concert?

With the 18th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival just around the corner, we would like to invite Tables in Wonderland members only to a “sneak preview” of this year’s Festival! Join us as we sample the food and hear speakers talk about the new and exciting things we have in store for you this year! Learn what new marketplaces will be added, as well as new special events. Be one of the first to be “in the know” as we taste our way around the world! 

Please visit the following website www.disneyurl.com/SneakPreview for self-booking and instant confirmation. 

The website will go live and begin taking reservations on Monday, July 1, 2013 at 10:00am. 

 

When you go to the website please have the following information ready:

Tables in Wonderland Ticket Number (number beginning with a W and includes a date)
First and Last Name of everyone in your party (you may purchase up to 10 tickets)
Home address
Phone number
Credit Card Number
Billing Address of the Credit Card
Personal Email Address
Food Allergies (if any)

Things to note about this event: 

The event is limited to 150 Guests, and is exclusive to Tables in Wonderland members.  Park admission not required. 

The menu for this event is inspired by the International Marketplaces:

Buffet Reception:

Florida Local: Florida Grass Fed Beef Slider with White Cheddar and Sweet & Hot Pickles
South Korea: Kimchi Dog with Spicy Mustard Sauce and Kimchi

Terra: The Vegan Vine Red Blend
Cheese: Once Upon a Vine’s The Fairest Chardonnay
Brazil: Carnaval Moscato White Sparkling
Craft Beers: Sierra Nevada, Torpedo® Extra IPA
Poland: Frozen Szarlotka (Frozen Polish Apple Pie) featuring Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka

Plated Dinner

Appetizer

Brazil: Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Onions, Avocado and Cilantro

Brazil: Cerveharias Kaiser Brewery, Xingu Black Beer

Salad

Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival Rewind
Florida Fresh: Watermelon Salad with pickled Red Onions, Baby Arugula, Feta Cheese and Balsamic Reduction

Florida Local: Florida Orange Groves Hurricane Class 5, Florida White Sangria

Entrée

Canada: “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce
Scotland: Scottish Salmon with Cauliflower Puree, Watercress and Malt Vinaigrette
With Baby Root Vegetables

Africa: The Wolftrap Red (Syrah, Mourvèdre, Viognier)
New Zealand: Mohua Sauvignon Blanc

Dessert Trio from Desserts & Champagne:

Chocolate Orange Cupcake
Hazelnut Chocolate Cheesecake
Morello Cherry Pistachio Mousse

Desserts & Champagne: Nicolas Feuillatte Rosé

Soft Drinks, Water, Coffee, Tea

If you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions, which you have not already told us about, please send an email to WDW.Tables.In.Wonderland@disney.com to give us time to accommodate your needs.

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