See Part 1 below, or here.
First, a couple of updates from the previous post. Yes, you can pick up Festival Passports from the DVC booth on the way into the World Showcase. The booth is on the right hand side of the cranberry bog. The passports won’t be out, but the person working the booth will be more than happy to pull them out of a drawer for you. They are also available at the Festival Welcome Center, but the DVC booth is more convenient if you don’t have any business at the Festival Center. The Festival Center houses most of the seminars, the wine shop, a large selection of event merchandise, other Disney related merchandise, and air-conditioning. In both cases, passports are “free.” The passport is a little book that lists the names of all the booths and the food and beverage items that are offered (without prices). A cast member at each booth will stamp your passport and you can check off which items you’ve tried, just like a real passport!! It’s a neat way to keep track and you might want to pick one up if the Food/Wine Festival is a big part of your visit. You could probably skip it if you’ll be joining me at the Sam Adams booth slamming beers. Here’s this year’s passport and an example page:
Also, I checked the portion size on the Rice Pudding from Scandinavia and it is indeed extremely small. The size of the lobster items I showed you yesterday were the exact same size as you’ll receive at the Hops and Barley booth.
Let’s start back up where we left off…with more low quality pictures of desserts:
Tres Leches Verrine (I think) ($1.50)
White Chocolate Macadamia Mousse with Dark Chocolate Pearls ($1.50)
Lemon Chiffon ($1.50)
This is the holy trinity that makes up the Dessert Trio ($3.75) from the Desserts and Champagne Booth. They are $1.50 each or you can purchase all three for $3.75 (recommended). This is another great value and a highlight of the Food/Wine Festival. The White Chocolate Macadamia Mousse was particularly good.
This is the Showcase Stage, where a number of Festival events will be taking place throughout the next six weeks. Babycakes is on at the moment.
I am back from this evening’s “First Bites Opening Reception.” This event only happens once per year on Food and Wine Festival Eve. It was a hard decision between this event and trying to pick up Disney cast members at the Food and Wine Festival booths. See, Disney buses in cast members on the afternoon/evening of the Thursday prior to the start of the Festival. That’s the “real” reason why the Festival booths were open on Thursday. However, after years of trying to pick up girls outside the Singapore booth, I have found out a couple of things. 1.) Most cast members are at the end of their contract. While they arrive with a wine-cooler-tolerance of one and a half, they leave with a wine-cooler-tolerance of somewhere north of eight. At $9 a drink, Disney has basically instituted a two drink maximum without even trying. 2.) It’s very difficult competing against seven foot tall guys with blonde hair and blue eyes from the Germany Pavilion. 3.) I ride public transportation and no one is riding the Lynx bus home with me.
With few prospects for true love, I begrudgingly chose to eat/drink until death at the First Bites event. There was another Haunted Mansion event in the Magic Kingdom this evening, but your author is never invited to these things and is actually at Disney World most of the time when the events are announced and sign ups are taken. Arm-chair blogging has its perks. I also take lousy pictures in the dark and it wouldn’t be very helpful for me to just brag about how I got to go to the Haunted Mansion event. So I guess bragging about going to this First Bites event will have to suffice. The good news is that every other blogger was at the Haunted Mansion thing and I’m sure we’ll hear all about it. I saw the itinerary earlier this week and it didn’t look that awesome. But I might just be jealous. You might just be jealous. We’re all just a little jealous. It’s contagious.
First Bites is very similar to the “Party of the Senses,” which takes place in the World ShowPlace between the Canada and United Kingdom Pavilions in the World Showcase on Saturday evenings. To quote the woman I met that runs About.com’s Orlando section, First Bites is “much more civilized” than Party of the Senses. Seating is at such a premium at Party of the Senses, Disney actually sells a separate add-on package that guarantees seating and a couple of other perks for about $110 per ticket, on top of the $145 ticket price. The 3D Dessert Party at the World Showplace is very similar, with seating that is at a premium and separate add-ons to guarantee tables and chairs. One of the nice things about First Bites is that there’s plenty of seating and short lines for most of the food/alcohol stations. It can get a little annoying standing behind a pair of ladies asking 30 questions about Moet champagne (HE’LL GIVE YOU A GLASS OF ALL THREE LADY JUST ASK OR GO HOME AND CLICK GOOGLE), but I digress. Overall, there weren’t a lot of people there and seating was plentiful. It was a much more relaxing atmosphere than you’ll find at Party of the Sense or the Dessert Party. Some might call it “boring,” but I’ll take short lines and a relaxed vibe over elbowing and “GIMME THAT” any day of the week. This is a “crowd calendar website” after all.
Here we are arriving at the Festival Welcome Center. The event was supposed to begin at 6:30pm, but Disney was gracious enough to let us in around 6:20pm. A merciful move considering the humidity. About half the people got the memo on the dress code. I saw people in everything from suits and cocktail dresses to ripped jeans and t-shirts. Disney almost never enforces any dress code, stated or implied (except at Victoria & Albert). There was a four piece band playing in the background, which was a nice touch. We’re through the door about a minute after the doors open and you can already see people guzzling wine. This is a serious event for serious people.
Here’s a look at some of the wines for sale in the Festival Center. “Signing events” are a good way for wineries to connect to followers and coax people into buying a bottle:
Beers and other liquor served for the Food/Wine Festival are also available for purchase separately.
I am just popping in here for a moment before heading back out to this evening’s “First Bites” event at the Food and Wine Festival Center. I’ll be the kid wearing the Duffy Ears hat and singing along to all the Taylor Dayne songs (hammered).
The Cranberry Bog is new to the Festival this year. Part of the Craisin invasion of Walt Disney World. I’m not sure if presenting your product swimming in disgusting Florida rain water with people walking all over the fruit for 12+ hours a day is the best way to make people want to eat cranberries any time other than Thanksgiving. But I’m not a marketing genius either.
A couple more looks:
Mmmmmmmm. No, you can’t join them in the bog without getting thrown out of Epcot.
They finally took down the “15 Beers for 15 Years” sign and replaced it with the “Craft Beers” sign. As someone who dabbles in alcoholism, I consider myself to be both an expert and not an expert on beer.
Here’s this year’s lineup.
This is a pretty disappointing selection, even within the breweries that were selected to participate. Full Sail, Red Hook, Sierra Nevada, etc. all make terrific “craft brews,” but these aren’t them. This basically looks like a list of beers you can pick up from the supermarket in a 12 pack for $16 (at most). Full Sail makes an AMAZING imperial stout. Their “Bump in the Night” Reserve for 2011 is a little disappointing, but still would be an awesome addition to the lineup. Why Red Hook isn’t serving their Late Autumn Ale or Sierra Nevada isn’t serving one of their 100+ more interesting beers is beyond me. Anyway, there’s one opinion.
Promenade Refreshments is now the Desserts & Champagne booth.
September 28 Update: Disney has a new mobile website and application that includes the full menus: http://videos.parksmedia.disney.go.com/wdw/fwmobile/feature.html
Updated 9/27 – I added the menus for all the booths that were available as of this evening and pictures of a couple of the booths that were missing. About five still aren’t available. For all of you snack credit people, make sure you check out the soft serve ice cream with Gran Marnier at the Dessert Booth (near the bottom of this post). It normally costs $6.50 and counts as a snack credit!
Here are pictures of the Food and Wine Festival booths along with the menus from the guide map. We’ll go around the World Showcase clockwise beginning with the booths on the way to Mexico and then into China. With the exception of the first picture of the 15 Beers for 15 Years booth, which is on the right side of the path that leads into the World Showcase. You’ll see.
15 Beers for 15 Years
Full Sail IPA
Abita – Purple Haze
Red Hook Pilsner
Key West Sunset Ale
Shrimp on the Barbie with Pepper Berry Citrus Glaze – $4.50
Grilled Lamb Chop with Potato-Goat Cheese Salad and Shiraz Reduction – $5.75
Lamington (Chocolate and Coconut covered Yellow Cake) – $3.00
Penfolds “Koonunga Hill” Chardonnay – $2.50
Greg Norman Estates Shiraz, Limestone Coast – $3.25
Lindeman’s “Bin 90” Moscato – $2.50
Penfolds “Thomas Hyland” Cabernet Sauvignon – $3.00
Seared Mahi Mahi with steamed Rice, Hearts of Palm and Coconut-Lime Sauce – $4.50
Brazil’s National Dish – Feijoada (a Black Bean and Pork Stew) – $2.75
LeBlon frozen cocktail Frozen Caipirinha – $7.50
Dasani – $2.50
I finished up the daily analysis for the rest of April. The crowd calendar image changed slightly from the original during the last two weeks of the month. We can expect Disney to release the May 2012 operating schedule in the middle of October, most likely around October 17th, but possibly as late as the 21st. At that time, we’ll also have an updated to the November 2011 operating schedule.