We’ll head back out to Epcot on a pretty afternoon.
The “turnstile situation” is less and less of a problem as more and more turnstiles come out from behind refurbishment walls.
I walked right up to one with my Annual Pass and you could walk right up to an RFID turnstile on the right. It’s 1:15pm, so it isn’t exactly a peak arrival time.
With runners arriving for Sunday’s Princess Marathon and the evening Extra Magic Hours, Epcot was not recommended. But it was far from busy in the afternoon and crowds didn’t really begin to pick up until after 6pm. The runners seemed to be headed to the Expo instead. I saw over 500 people lined up waiting at Downtown Disney to be picked up. On-site transportation to the marathon and the marathon events seemed to be a nightmare from what I heard.
It’s artsy because it’s tilted.
It’s artsy because of the vignette.
Last one I promise.
The same flower mural that’s planted every year for the Festival is in place.
Pretty. It would be neat with some Disney characters represented.
It’d be nice if the railings were removed so we could get a better look, but as I was riding the monorail into the Park, I saw some kids stomping on flowers while their parents took pictures. This is why we can’t have nice things.
Disney is promoting a Wizard of the Oz movie of some variety at the Festival with a playground, half of which has opened.
A la Brave’s Highland Games, there are three activities for the kids.
Pie (beanbag) toss. And some “funny mirrors” that aren’t pictured.
This is out by the walkway that leads to World Showcase near the Imagination Pavilion.
These Dale Chihuly-esque flowers are very cool.
I didn’t think of Chihuly at first, but three people mentioned his name while they walked by. Chihuly lives in the Seattle area, so a lot of his work is represented around neighboring cities.
Pretty amazing stuff created by Craig Mitchell Smith. More information on the process (which is neat) is available here.
The playground looks to be mostly or completely new. It’s probably going in the backyard of one of the Parks’ bloggers after the Festival.
It’s officially designed for 3 to 5 year olds.
Follow the yellow brick road! Follow the yellow brick road! Follower the yellow brick road!
The tent theming is particularly well done – this is Oz’s deflated hot air balloon. Underneath the canopy are comfy chairs for parents to sit on while their kids play.
Overheard during the 10 seconds I stood here taking this picture: “Oh, that movie is coming out.” That bodes well for the box office.
Anyway, this is a fun little area for the kids. If you’ve got one or more around the ages of two to seven, you probably want to head over here for a few minutes in the late morning or afternoon. I’d expect them to close around dusk, or 6:30pm – 7pm.
I was crestfallen to see that the mundane “Chicken Breast Nuggets” had replaced the unique Spicy Chicken Cheddar Poppers at Refreshment Port.
You may remember these delicious edibles available only here.
At least the fantastic Crispy Shrimp remain at the very good price point of $7.19.
Elsewhere in Canada, you may be able to see where I edited out a rather large person. It was almost a good shot.
At least they have a sense of humor about it.
Flat out of the camera.
The same image overly edited.
And a moment before the tourists showed up.
Off Kilter supposedly has a different lineup or will shortly.
Outside World Showplace in between the UK and Canada, Mickey and King Louie were greeting guests to short lines.
Captain Hook has relocated to the UK this year.
My favorite character of all-time (of all-time) has relocated as well.
Croc is crazy.
Noooooo!! Don’t do it!!
Universal may be streamlining one of the most technologically advanced attractions to ever hit a theme park, while at the same time building Harry Potter 2.0 and expanding Springfield, but the UK has hopscotch and a soccer ball. Did someone say scotch?
The adorable Pooh characters appear in the UK, just past Yorkshire on the way to France.
I wish Disney had more characters milling about interacting with guests at random. But that’s probably an impossibility in 2k13. Disney might love to have Aladdin and Jasmine ride the Magical Carpets with lucky kids all day, but the number of parents that would demand the characters ride with their snowflakes makes that sort of thing impossible. Smiling and saying, “How nice for them” is a thing of the past.
Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports7/eiffelbig.jpg. I liked how the tower fit in between the branches.
Princess Whoever This Is sort of blends into the tree behind her. The family next to me while I took this picture was arguing over whether it was Princess Fiona. I told them it was most likely Aurora.
Cinderella and Prince Charming in their usual location on the opposite side.
Morocco was freshly planted:
There’s a new gift shop in the entrance to Tangierine Cafe, probably because few people tend to explore the rest of the Pavilion.
As part of last week’s “Limited Time Magic,” the Voices of Liberty performed outside at the America Gardens Theater.
I was surprised Disney spent the money on a sign.
Not busy at all.
It’s been almost a year since we visited Tutto Gusto, the “wine cellar” attached to Tutto Italia in the Italy Pavilion. You can read the previous review along with a better look around in this post. The Gusto portion starts about half way down – before that is a review of Tutto Italia just after it opened.
An updated menu, which looks quite a bit different than the old menu. The meats and cheeses were originally available for $8 each or $14 for three. Now it looks like three run a minimum of $24, though the portions may very well be larger. If just one sounds good, ask about ordering it separately. They should be able to accommodate most reasonable requests. The “Small Plates” are also now unavailable. Those ranged in price from $5 – $11. So it certainly appears as though Gusto has moved toward a menu that is more expensive. On the plus side, the Cavatappi are the same price as when the cellar debuted in May 2012. The Paninis are up a $1 and are quite small. Get two if you’re going to get one, as the price for the second is only $4, or less than half of the first.
The food as displayed in the case. Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports7/gusto.jpg. The size of the sandwiches is also visible.
Gusto is otherwise a comfortable, somewhat posh locale with a variety of seating. Here, couches surround a small table with benches. I recommend requesting a couch or table away from the entrance because it affords a bit of privacy, you won’t have as many people popping in and out, and the light from the constantly opening door will be less distracting.
Regular tables are also available in varying sizes depending on party. On the left, high tops that seat two to six are also present. There is not much of a bar to speak of – a gentleman and his wife are really standing in the only possible place.
The international program cast members in Epcot are among the friendliest you’ll find on Disney property and the Italians are dangerously charming. We were seated and the server explained the daily special, which is a wine that they offer that day by the glass. It’s usually only available by the bottle (supposedly). In this instance, it was a $155 bottle that was being offered at $25/glass. Pass.
With a wine list that includes over 200 Italians, Gusto is intelligent to realize that most people are going to be lost making a choice. They offer a “Grand Tour” of six 2oz pours for those of us that like a variety, but don’t know where to start.
For those looking for a little more “quality” in their selections, you can opt for the “Best of Italy,” which is two 2oz pours for $25.
Scarlett from TouringPlans.com will again be joining us on our journey of wine and cheese. We opted for two of the Grand Tours – one is pictured.
The Zardetto is a $10 bottle of Prosseco, rated 86 by Wine Advocate and 85 by Wine Spectator at some point.
A bit more expensive, the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesio is a $14 verdicchio, which is a wine derived from a yellow-green grape from central Italy.
The Pieropan Soave Classico would run you around $20. The Internet says it has a “steely mineral character and fruit components of citrus and stone fruits.”
Another $20 bottle, the Beni di Batasiolo Barbera d’Alba has an 87 point rating from Wine Enthusiast.
At around $30, the “Super Tuscan” is probably the most prestigious on the list. I’m sure 2009 was a good year.
Finally, the moscato would run you around $15 for a half bottle.
I didn’t know any of this going in and this information is due to some light Google searching. I am not a wine person, but I like to think I try. I liked all of them perfectly fine except I thought the Pieropan Soave was a little earthy for my tastes. Considering the retail price of the wines, the flight seems like a decent enough value and a nice way to try multiple Italian wines without much effort. One flight would be pretty easily sharable if you’re not such a lush.
On the food front, I ordered the Canneloni – baked ricotta filled pasta, bechamel, sausage ragu – $16. This consisted of two melt in your mouth canneloni with a light tomato sauce and a little bit of sausage. The ricotta had a nice strong flavor and the bechamel contrasted nicely with the tomato. I enjoyed them, though it was not a ton of food for the money. You can order anything off the Tutto Italia menu at Tutto Gusto and you might want to look in that direction if you’re interested in something hot. I would go in a different direction next time, despite enjoying the dish for what it was.
Scarlett ordered a hunk of the Fior di Latte Mozzarella - pasta filata, hand crafted, made from cow’s milk – I believe it was $9 or a third of the price of the $27 sampler that includes it. She had ordered it before and enjoyed it both times. Women love cheese. And bread. It was a little mild for my taste – but mozzarella isn’t one of those all-up-in-your-face cheeses.
Archival footage of beers available – they also have a drink list similar to Tutto Italia:
It should look something like this.
All in all, we spent about an hour and a half at Gusto, from 2:30 to 4pm. It was busy enough that we didn’t feel like we were being watched or over-handled, but there were enough tables available that we didn’t feel like we needed to rush anything. Service was attentive and friendly. Our first server had plenty of smiling recommendations, while our second server told us stories about the mob life in Mexico, where his girlfriend’s parents were involved in some sort of illegal activity. He explained that here in the United States, you can stop at red lights. In Mexico, you can’t. He kept saying Mexico, but my guess is he was talking about Italy.
Tutto Gusto is one of my favorite places to sit down and grab a drink and a bite to eat. It’s air-conditioned and comfortable, which is a big plus. And it’s a lot more relaxing than the hectic atmosphere inside La Cava del Tequila. Of course, there’s a time for a margarita – but there’s also a time for a glass of wine and some prosciutto. Luckily, Epcot offers both, along with a myriad of other options.
World Showcase Lagoon as pretty as ever.
The BoardWalk flat out of the camera.
The same image edited. Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports7/photographyisascam.jpg.
More modifications. Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports7/ahugescam.jpg.
Or with a lamp post mostly removed.
Next up is some more September crowd calendar, a June update, a return to Splitsville for sushi and fries (and drinks), a quick stop at Bongos on a Saturday night, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad interactive queue, a pop into Hollywood Studios and lunch at 50s Prime Time, and Captain Cook’s.