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20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Expands for First Time into Future World

posted on July 13th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


For the first time ever, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is stretching into the park’s Future World with four new food and beverage marketplaces.

The festival opens September 25 and runs through November 16, and will feature more than 30 global marketplaces for sipping and noshing throughout the park.

20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Expands for First Time into Future World

Along the walkway toward Future World West, the new Artistry of Wine & Cheese festival area will feature the Cheese Studio (offering a cheese sampler served on an artist’s palette to pair with wines) and the Wine Studio with premium wines on tap – each keg keeps the wine super fresh and holds the equivalent of 26 bottles, eliminating bottle, cork, cardboard and paper waste. Bottles, corks and materials from other marketplaces are recycled.

Then, near the Epcot Character Spot, the new Next Eats area will debut with Sustainable Chew and Chew Lab marketplaces inspired by ABC’s Emmy-Award® winning lifestyle series “The Chew,” starring co-hosts Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly and Daphne Oz. Sustainable Chew will feature three dishes, and Chew Lab will show off hot culinary tech trends like a Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel.

Beginning July 15, you can go to epcotfoodfestival.com for more details. Booking for premium events like the new Rockin’ Burger Block Party (details soon!), Party for the Senses and Signature Dining Experiences will begin July 30 at 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378).

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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Disney’s ‘Grand’ Dining Offerings

posted on July 11th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week we highlighted two dining offerings at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa by sharing a selection of mouth-watering photos.

First, Pam Brandon shared that Victoria & Albert’s just unveiled a new Chef’s Degustation Menu, which includes 10 small courses inspired by Chef Scott Hunnel’s personal favorites and world travels. Mmm, is it lunchtime yet?

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Pam also gave us a peek into the My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party offered at the resort. The experience, which she caught in photos, includes a full hour of music, dancing, storytelling and a lesson in Sign Language, led by Princess Aurora and her friend, Rose Petal.

Princess Aurora Meets Guests During My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Rose Petal Meets Guests During My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

There are also photo opportunities and gifts for young princesses, including a tiara, a Princess Aurora doll, charm bracelet and more – read all the details in Pam’s post here.

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Disney Cruise Line’s Summertime Freeze Recipe: Warm Hugs

posted on July 10th, 2015 by Salah Chetbi, Dining and Beverage Standards and Consistency Manager, Disney Cruise Line


Disney cruisers are in for a cool treat on their next visit to Castaway Cay! Adding to our new “Frozen” fun, we recently opened Summertime Freeze, themed in honor of our lovable friend, Olaf.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing recipes for some of the drinks we’re serving here, starting today with one of my favorites, Warm Hugs. Try it out at home, and then check back next week for another refreshing drink recipe.

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Warm Hugs

  • 2 scoops ice cream
  • 4 strawberries
  • 1.5 oz. coconut cream
  • 4.5 oz. Illy Issimo Mochaccino

Blend ingredients and top with whipped cream, fresh strawberries and chocolate syrup.

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My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party a Special Treat for Little Ones – and Parents, Grandparents

posted on July 9th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


What little girl wouldn’t love to be Princess for a day? We had the very special treat of a Sunday morning at the My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, accompanying two very special little girls, Hazel and Lucy, to experience first-hand the joys and sweetness of an old-fashioned tea with a little pixie dust.

Little Princesses Enjoy My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Little Princesses Enjoy My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

The room was full of little princesses ranging in age from 3 to 9, some in princess attire, and the very fancy party was thoughtfully geared toward every little girl (no boys attended, but they are most welcome). From the regal welcome by Rose Petal, a magical rose from Princess Aurora’s garden that comes to life, to the final farewell parade through the elegant lobby of the hotel, the children, parents and grandparents are charmed. It’s a non-stop hour of live music, dancing, storytelling and even a fun lesson in Sign Language. The children gather round Rose Petal for singing, and on our special day, Princess Aurora was the icing on the cake when she arrived to the delight of each little girl.

Princess Aurora Meets Guests During My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Rose Petal Meets Guests During My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Both Rose Petal and Princess Aurora make a stop at each table to talk with the children and pose for photos, and gifts are delivered nearly non-stop throughout the hour, starting with a tiara from Rose Petal as they enter, and a Princess Aurora doll awaiting each girl at the table. There’s also a charm bracelet, friendship necklace, fresh pink rose and a knapsack to carry it all home. For our little friends, all the surprises and royal treatment made it feel like a party just for them. So many photo ops! There is even a Disney PhotoPass photo opportunity to capture the magic.

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The tea service and apple juice tea for the little ones with heart-cut jelly sandwiches and ham-and-cheese sandwiches was followed by a generous slice or cake with pink strawberry icing. Grown-ups have a lovely plate of tea sandwiches, fruit and cheeses with herbal tea, beautifully served on china.

It’s a very special moment to see a little one immersed in the magic of fairytales, especially a 3-year-old who knows the Disney princesses by name. And days after to hear a little voice singing, “Hail to the King, Hail to the Queen, Hail to the Princess Aurora,” accompanied with a princess wave. The experience made a lasting memory for our little guests.

Children must be accompanied by an adult, and the price, $334 including tax and gratuity includes one adult and one child ages 3 to 9 (additional guests are welcome to join for $235 per child and $99 per adult). Boys receive a royal Knight’s sword and shield, Disney Trading pin and a Duffy the Disney Bear. Merchandise gifts are available for guests up to age 12, by paying an additional fee at the podium upon arrival. For reservations, call 407-WDW-MYTEA. The parties are on select days at 10:30 a.m.

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New 10-Course Menu at Victoria & Albert’s Expands Exquisite Dining Experience

posted on July 9th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


With the distinction of being the only AAA Five Diamond restaurant in Central Florida (and one of only three in the state), Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa continues to raise the bar.

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The award-winning dining room is adding a new Chef’s Degustation Menu, a series of 10 small courses featuring some of Chef Scott Hunnel’s favorite dishes inspired by the seasons and by his world travels to Asia, Spain, Italy and France. The seven-course Chef’s Tasting Menu will remain, and the kitchen will continue to meld tradition with innovative cuisine “for an avant-garde culinary journey,” says Israel Perez, maître d’hôtel.

Other big changes include a focus on food-and-wine pairings in the adjacent Queen Victoria Room. With just eight seats, diners will be offered Chef Hunnel’s 10-course menu paired with exclusive wines from Victoria & Albert’s impressive wine cellar. “The wine pairings will be exclusive to the private room, and we want to enlighten our guests about how the chef and sommelier work together to perfectly pair food and drink,” says Perez.

Adding the 10-course menu in the main dining room creates a more leisurely dining experience, and other special tableside touches have been added, such as a cheese trolley, tableside butter carving and a custom chocolate box for selecting post-prandial sweets.

The popular Chef’s Table, tucked in a cozy kitchen alcove with a front-row seat for watching the action in the kitchen, continues to offer 10 to 13 courses, small tastes of everything from caviar to Japanese Wagyu beef, paired with wine and spirits. The dinner lasts nearly four hours, the time filled with delectable tastes and conversations with the chef and his team.

“Diners now have a choice of three distinct dining experiences with food-and-wine pairings in Queen Victoria Room, two menus in the main dining room and the Chef’s Table in the kitchen,” says Perez. “Whichever they choose, they will enjoy the finest quality ingredients and impeccable service.”

The seven-course menu is $185 ($250 with wine pairings); the 10-course menu is $235 ($340 with wine pairings). Dinner in the Queen Victoria Room is $340, and includes 10 courses paired with wine. The Chef’s Table in the kitchen is $250. The restaurant is open daily for dinner. For reservations, call 407-939-3862.

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Your Chance to Sip a Rare Wine at Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

posted on July 8th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


A state-of-the-art WineStation by Napa Technology is the newest “toy” for the sommeliers at the award-winning Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at the Disneyland Resort.

“The WineStation lets us open four distinctive bottles of wine to give our guests a taste of something extra special,” says Eric Quezada, area manager and sommelier at Napa Rose. “We’re offering older vintage wines, cult wines, bottles you won’t find every day.”

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The WineStation offers 1-ounce, 3-ounce and 5-ounce pours so that guests can sample vintages like a 1989 Vega Sicilia Unico Tempranillo from Spain that sells for more than $400 a bottle. “Every time we pour, it tastes like we just opened the bottle,” says Eric.

There are always four offerings, usually a Pinot, two Cabernets and a Spanish wine, he explains. Bottles are listed on the menu with ratings. “Not everybody wants to spend $300 for a bottle of wine, but now they can have a glass for dinner,” says Eric. “Our guests are really excited to discover a variety of premium wines that they don’t find on other by-the-glass wine lists.”

The focus is on “big-name” vintners, and not all wines are at the top of the price range. Depending on what’s in the Napa Rose cellar, the prices are based on the bottle and how rare it is – but there also are fun and affordable tastes.

You never know what wine you’ll find, but you know it will be very special – just like the Napa Rose Vintner’s Table, where the menu changes every Friday based on seasonality. “We showcase dishes by our chefs that are not on the regular menu,” says Eric. For instance, right now there’s a duo of prime New York beef and a braised beef short rib with morel mushrooms, sweet onion puree and black plum relish; and a dessert tart made with Robiola cheese, cashew frangipane and Black Mission figs with a mint and Port reduction. Cost for the Vintner’s Table menu is $100, $45 for a wine pairing.

For reservations, visit Disneyland.com/dine or call 714-781-DINE.

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2015 Candlelight Processional Packages on Sale

posted on July 8th, 2015 by Charles Stovall, Public Relations Manager


Happy Holidays! (Deck the halls with boughs of …)

Wait! It’s not holiday time yet, is it?

While it may not be time to unwrap presents quite yet, it’s time to let you, our guests, start booking dinner packages for the 2015 Candlelight Processional at Epcot.

Right now, in fact!

Regular readers of the Disney Parks Blog know that I am a huge fan of the Candlelight Processional, part of Holidays Around the World at Epcot.

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The dramatic re-telling of the Christmas story with celebrity narrators like Neil Patrick Harris and Whoopi Goldberg; the spectacular mass choir singing traditional and contemporary Christmas songs; the swelling sounds of the Walt Disney World orchestra — I love it all.

This year’s event runs nightly at The America Gardens Theater at Epcot from November 27 to December 30.

We also have a sneak peek at some of our narrators from this year. Here’s the list so far: (Entertainment and times subject to change)

  • 11/27 – 11/29 — TBA
  • 11/30 – 12/3 — Neil Patrick Harris
  • 12/4 – 12/5 — Whoopi Goldberg
  • 12/6 – 12/8 — Joe Morton
  • 12/9 – 12/11 — TBA
  • 12/12 – 12/14 — Meredith Vieira
  • 12/15 – 12/16 — TBA
  • 12/17 – 12/18 — TBA
  • 12/19 – 12/20 — TBA
  • 12/21 – 12/23 — TBA
  • 12/24 – 12/26 — Edward James Olmos
  • 12/27 – 12/28 — TBA
  • 12/29 – 12/30 — Amy Grant

The Candlelight Processional is presented three times per night at the American Gardens Theater at Epcot. Show times are 5 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. *

Dining packages include appetizer, entrée, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage at select Epcot full-service restaurants (or one full buffet where applicable), and guaranteed seating for the Candlelight Processional. Dining packages do not include park admission.

For Dining Reservations that include preferred Candlelight Processional Seating, please call Disney Dining at 407-WDW-DINE.

For more information on Holidays Around the World at Epcot and the Candlelight Processional or to make reservations for a Candlelight Processional dinner package, check out http://www.disneyworld.com/holidays. And check back to the Disney Parks Blog for updates on who fills those last coveted slots in our narrator lineup.

*Dining packages are not available on Sunday, December 6, at 5:00 pm.

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New Tea Traders Café by Joffrey’s Opens at Downtown Disney in Florida

posted on July 7th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


As a southerner who was born and raised outside of Atlanta, GA, there’s nothing I love more than a perfectly brewed glass of iced tea—sweet, of course! Soon, I’ll be expanding my tea palate and exploring a variety of loose leaf teas from The Tea Traders Café by Joffrey’s, a brand-new tea café joining other new venues in The Landing, the first of four planned neighborhoods coming to Downtown Disney as it transitions into Disney Springs.

Whether you enjoy your tea stepped hot, iced, blended, spirited or even edible (yes, they’ll be serving delicious tea-based cookies and treats), there’s a tea for you.

Enjoy Tea from The Tea Traders Café by Joffrey’s Coming to The Landing at Walt Disney World Resort Enjoy Tea from The Tea Traders Café by Joffrey’s Coming to The Landing at Walt Disney World Resort

If you’re like me and have a lot to learn about tea, be sure to engage with the onsite Tea Smith who hand-blends loose leaf and herbal teas and can discuss tea selections if you’re unsure what to order.

Enjoy Tea from The Tea Traders Café by Joffrey’s Coming to The Landing at Walt Disney World Resort Enjoy Tea from The Tea Traders Café by Joffrey’s Coming to The Landing at Walt Disney World Resort

Modeled after a 1940s warehouse setting, this modern-meets-Old World tea café will feature teas from the finest tea gardens around the globe. Joffrey’s CEO Ted Abrams promises “complex flavor profiles” and hopes to “introduce guests to the vast world of tea that cannot be found in local grocers.” Based on all I’ve heard, I’m ready for my introduction!

The Tea Traders Café by Joffrey’s is now open in the heart of Downtown Disney. For the latest real-time updates on openings and new offerings, follow Downtown Disney on Twitter at @WDWDowntown.

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Celebrate Tanabata With New Beverages From Tokyo Dining in Epcot

posted on July 7th, 2015 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


Today is Tanabata, also known as the Star Festival in Japanese culture. This holiday celebrates the one day of the year that two loves, Altair the Cowherd and Vega the Weaver, were allowed by the king to be together. The rest of the year they are separated by the Milky Way. In Japan, many festivals take place to celebrate Tanabata—in fact, Tokyo Disneyland celebrates the festival with a parade lead by Mickey and Minnie.

Today at Walt Disney World Resort, Tanabata is being celebrated in the Japan pavilion at Epcot. Cast members wear traditional Kimono, and in the afternoon guests are invited to write their wishes on slips of colorful paper and place them on a bamboo tree in the Mitsukoshi department store. Continue the celebration at Tokyo Dining, where you can share a meal—and some drinks from the new beverage menu—with a loved one.

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Recently, I had the chance to catch up with Garin Williamson, beverage manager for Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo, who walked me through the new beverage menu. With a focus on natural, fresh ingredients, these drinks have a distinct Japanese flair.

Shochu Squeeze from Tokyo Dining at Epcot Shochu Squeeze from Tokyo Dining at Epcot

For a “hands-on” experience, try the Shochu Squeeze: choose grapefruit, lemon or orange to hand-squeeze into a glass of clean, crisp shochu for the ultimate refreshment.

Junmai Sake Flight from Tokyo Dining at Epcot Sake from Tokyo Dining at Epcot

There are many ways to sample sake—choose from a new carafe or masu box—purposely overflowed to show generosity—or try the Junmai Sake Flight, a sampling of three premium sake: Junmai, Junmai Ginjyo, and Junmai Daiginjyo.

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On a hot day, cool down with the Sake Mojito with sake, shochu, Japanese shiso herb and fresh mint, or go for something tropical like the Okinawa Beach with gold tequila, blue curacao, pineapple juice, sour mix and calpico. Tea lovers will enjoy the Green Tea Martini with honey-infused matcha tea and vodka.

Celebrate Tanabata today with your loved ones or next time you visit the Japan pavilion at Epcot. For reservations, visit DisneyWorld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.

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#CoolestSummer Ever: AmeriCool!

posted on July 3rd, 2015 by Greg Ehrbar, Writer/Author, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group


To lots of folks, the Fourth of July is one of the coolest times of the year. There are fireworks, icy cold drinks, fun foods and, of course the spirit of America – a spirit that can take on many forms, from ingenuity and tradition to good old-fashioned belly laughs.

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Here are a few AmericFaves, in no particular order of preference:

The Hall of Presidents. Many thanks to those readers who commented on last week’s post (and on all of our posts)! Several of you—including Jason, Eric, Sidney and James’s wife-named The Hall of Presidents as a great place to cool off and enjoy a spectacular presentation in which every U.S. President appears on stage. Thanks for the nice comments about what a great attraction it is!

The American Adventure. This is one of my personal favorites because the voice of Ben Franklin is done the late actor Dal McKennon, who worked on dozens of Disney films, park attractions, TV shows and records. Dal was also the voice of TV’s Archie, Gumby, and on camera played lots of character roles, including Cincinnatus on TV’s “Daniel Boone” starring Fess Parker, and Sam the cook in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” Living on the West Coast, it was over 20 years before Dal actually saw The American Adventure. He wept for joy, and the guests who happened to be there that day had the pleasure of briefly meeting him in person.

Muppet*Vision 3-D. And now, for something completely silly. Who else but the madcap Muppets would present a crazy extravaganza like Sam Eagle’s “A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America”, in which what appear to be “it’s a small world” characters and “Babes in Toyland” figures cavort in utter chaos, as Lady Liberty Piggy beams majestically … until … well, you know what went down if you saw it. If not, check out Muppet*Vision 3-D soon!

Mickey’s Backyard BBQ. Corn-on-the-cob, chicken, burgers, mac and cheese are national treasures. Whether it’s the Fourth of July or not, this is a great way to meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Chip ’n Dale, hear live country music and watch rope tricks (kind of like “Talent Roundup Day” on the Mickey Mouse Club!). This is an open-air experience with lots of circulating fans to supply the coolness. Reservations for dinner are required, but you don’t have to be staying at Fort Wilderness Campground and Resort to book it. Allow yourself some time to explore the lovely surrounding area, too (don’t forget to look for the Lawnmower Tree).

Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream. Walt was called an “American original”; the very personification of hard work, goals and dreams realized (and some setbacks as well). But Walt and his creations are not bound by lines on a map or stars in the sky. His magic really belongs to the entire world. This magnificent journey through his amazing life, career and myriad of creations is sheer joy for everyone to share … makes no difference who you are.

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