Another day at Epcot. I know you’re getting tired of it and I’m sorry, but it’s important that we accurately gauge crowd levels/patterns now that the Food & Wine Festival is in full swing. As expected, Monday and Thursday turned out to be less crowded overall with shorter waits and fewer people in the World Showcase. Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were decidedly busier. Today (Friday), Epcot is “tentatively recommended.” According to the “crowd calendar:”
Epcot is tentatively recommended due to the Food and Wine Festival that will attract a lot of locals in the evening. Luckily, Disney moved evening Extra Magic Hours to Wednesday, so Disney resort guests won’t be as much of an issue as usual. If you’re trying to schedule Epcot over the weekend, today is your best opportunity, though yesterday and next Monday will be less crowded. You can certainly have success if you arrive prior to 9am and head straight for the headlining attractions, but the World Showcase will be busier than usual from 5pm through the end of IllumiNations. You’ll want to move up through the World Showcase at 11am if you want to stay ahead of the incoming crowds. Tomorrow and Sunday will be more crowded because many locals will have the weekend off work.
Fair enough. Epcot is a bit of a challenge to schedule in October and November during the Food/Wine Festival and Mickey’s Parties. Unfortunately, this isn’t TouringPlans.com and I can’t just never recommend Epcot:
I guess it’s good news if you wanted to visit Magic Kingdom five days and Animal Kingdom one day, while skipping Epcot and Hollywood Studios altogether. This “crowd calendar” is about getting you to the least crowded days relative to the days around it, knowing that you probably want to mix things up and visit each of the four major theme parks over the course of a week. Otherwise, we’re spending a lot of time at Animal Kingdom in October and apparently, Magic Kingdom in November.
I don’t think it’s going to get any bigger. I hope these aren’t the same people that we’re trusting Avatar Land to. Or it’s going to be very small.
Wait times at 4:45pm:
Not too bad. Longer than we’d like at Soarin’, obviously, but there’s really no way around seeing those wait times in the afternoon when the overall crowd level is average to slightly above average. That’s why it’s our #1 morning/FASTPASS priority.
The Seas Pavilion was closed and would continue to be closed for the rest of the day for “technical difficulties.” My guess is some sharks got out and were tearing up the place.
To the bog! I’m hoping that apple farmers sponsor the Festival next year and Disney plants an orchard in the middle of Future World.
Over to Mexico:
And over to Norway:
Crowded, but not overwhelmingly so.
From the perch.
Time for a snack from the China booth. Here’s the menu:
We’ll try the Black Pepper Shrimp ($4.50):
This was okay. The noodles and shrimp were on the gummy side and the flavors not as bold or spicy as I would have liked. While a little on the expensive side, it’s much more food than the Potstickers, which you only get two of, or the Chicken Stick. I wouldn’t go so far as to “highly recommend” this particular dish, but it was okay and a pretty safe bet if you’re looking for something “more normal,” while still “a little different.”
Looking in the opposite direction back at China.
And over to Germany.
Not too bad.
More people in Italy.
And looking in the opposite direction. It’s just after 5pm.
Jon Secada is playing the Eat to the Beat concerts this weekend.
A full house. Nice pants.
Japan is crowded too.
Time for another snack – this time from the Singapore booth. Here’s the menu:
The Shrimp Cake on a Sugarcane Skewer with Singapore Noodles ($3.50):
The Shrimp Cake itself was good, but I didn’t care for the noodles, which are served ice cold and have an unfortunate texture. The Shrimp were more interesting than what’s served in Australia, cheaper, and there’s actually more of it. I guess you could just toss the noodles or you never know, someone in your party might really enjoy them. Should that happen, remember that they are not to be trusted for any future food recommendations.
Looking at the Singapore booth on the right and back at the United States Pavilion.
Over to Morocco.
The busiest area in the World Showcase during the Food/Wine Festival is right in the United Kingdom Pavilion.
There are a ton of people here. It’s about 5:30pm, which means more and more people will be entering World Showcase, particularly on a Friday night.
Braving it. Not that we have much of a choice. Retreat back to Morocco maybe.
Lots of people.
Headed back to Future World:
About a dozen people in line for Sum of All Thrills just before 6pm.
And back to World Showcase at 6pm:
Back through Canada on our way to the “3D Disney’s Dessert Discovery,” which is taking place in the World ShowPlace between Canada and the United Kingdom Pavilions. The event costs $55 for “general admission” or $80 for “Sweet Seats.” We’ll cover Sweet Seats in more detail later.
Like other paid events, you need to check in:
This is the check-in table for general admission. It’s located right across from the entrance to the World ShowPlace and right in front of the Ireland Food & Wine booth.
If you’ve purchased Sweet Seats tickets, your check-in area is right in front of the World ShowPlace. The check-in area was staffed at 5:30pm, so you can check-in well before the start of the event. There was never much of a line until about 6:40pm when it backed up a bit with 15-20 people in line. Check-in early if you can. You’ll be given a colored wristband depending on which ticket you purchased.
Off-Kilter played throughout the wait, which helped pass the time.
Just a mob of people.
Here we are in an informal line for the event. We arrived around 6:40pm for the 7pm start. In a few weeks, the Party will run from 8pm – 9:30pm because of the longer operating hours and 10pm IllumiNations on the weekends.
A bit of a line for check-in.
A lot of people behind us, though you can’t really tell. But I wouldn’t lie to you. Your position in this line isn’t that important, but it’s always better to be up front. More on this in a moment.
At precisely 7pm, we were let into the ShowPlace. Had you purchased the Sweet Seats for $25 more per person, you would have been let in at 6:45pm. The Sweet Seat includes the earlier access to the food and drinks, a guaranteed chair/table in a “private” seating section, and a special chocolate dessert of some kind that’s only available within the Sweet Seat section.
We’re not quite there yet. You’ll enter the building and then continue to this curtain. A voice comes over the intercom welcoming everyone to the event. This is the area where you’ll want to be up close to the curtain because it’s a bit of a race to the tables. You’ll want to make securing a table your priority. The food and drinks aren’t going anywhere, but the tables are quickly snatched up.
A lot of people behind us in this terrible quality photo.
Another bad quality photo. This is the “Sweet Seat” section. Cast members stand at both entrances to this area checking to make sure you have the proper wristband. There are other tables outside this area. Luckily, tonight’s event wasn’t heavily attended and there was a chair and table for anyone that wanted one. There are also taller tables suitable for standing in the back. There were a few people using these tables, though they could have found empty seats had they wanted to by joining another party with fewer than five people. All of the tables (I think) outside the Sweet Seat section have room for about five people and many parties are fewer than five. In the Sweet Seats section, there are a lot of tables for two.
A decent enough band played throughout the evening. Most of their songs were “food-themed,” which was a little corny. They were loud, but not loud enough that it made it difficult to chat, at least at the tables further away from the stage.
Let’s take a look at the goodies:
When you enter, you’ll be given a list of everything that’s offered.
A lot of stuff.
The Whoopie Pies were very popular. I didn’t think any of these items particularly stood out, but they’re all good!
Oh man, Flambeed Cinnamon Donuts with Red Stag Ice Cream, Red Stag Cherries, and Red Stag. AMAZING!!! And see those little pipettes? They’re filled with bourbon. It’s almost too good to be true.
Some heavier items if you’re looking for something that isn’t necessarily in-your-face-sugar. The pumpkin buttons aren’t pictured above, but they were cute little pieces of pumpkin bread that were about the size of a button, as the name implies. Look for them in a small container at the end of the table.
Boss edit: Found a picture of the buttons.
BabyCakes LOL. Everything here is amazing if you love chewing, like your desserts extra-gritty, and have any number of bizarre allergies or other hangups. George, a good friend of the site, suggested that you get a bit of a running start by starting to chew before actually placing the item in your mouth. This seemed to work well and caused less jaw discomfort.
Some candy in case you’re not getting your fill of sugar elsewhere. There are Werther’s candies and “crisped rice treats” to the left outside of the picture. I was very nervous about operating one of these machines because I have a tremendous fear of not being able to “turn it off.” I would just be standing there while the entire canister of M & M’s empties out on the floor. Very embarrassing, I imagine.
Cheese, breads, fruit, and more:
A nice variety of cheeses, crackers, and accompaniments.
Crackers and bread in the basket behind it. The bread was really good!!
Apricots, figs, and ummmm..
Melted Gouda cheese!! Divine!!
That should be just about everything.
On to the liquid:
A variety of DeKuyper (pronounced duh-kie-per) liqueurs to go along with your coffee.
My eyes lit up when I saw Jim Beam Devil’s Cut. I beelined for it. Through some sort of proprietary processes, Jim Beam extracts the bourbon that “evaporates” into the whiskey barrels and then adds that liquid to extra-aged six-year Jim Beam. If you like oak, you’ll like Devil’s Cut. It’s very strong. A gimmick? Probably, but it’s one I’m willing to bite on.
They’re still pushing Jim Beam Red Stag as well, which is a “cherry-infused” bourbon. It’s very sweet and mixes well with cola (and apparently coffee). If you like artificially-flavored cherry stuff, but not necessarily bourbon specifically, you may enjoy Red Stag.
Very exciting. They also had bottles of Evian water that you could take back to your table.
This cocktail was really the only “miss” of the night. The Car #9 wasn’t particularly good. Get one anyway, though.
“crave” liqueurs. They aren’t on the market until next year, which is “exciting” I suppose. It’s not really my thing. They have a very pronounced “fake” taste. Chocolate Chili, Chocolate Mint, and Chocolate Cherry.
Some wine choices for those who would like to indulge.
Courvoisier Rose, which is cognac mixed with red wine. Worth trying.
Martini Asti, which runs about $10/bottle and Martini Sparkling Rose, which also runs about $10/bottle. Always nice to have a glass of champagne with all of this sweet stuff.
Somehow I don’t have a picture of the Blood Orange Margaritas or Apple Ginger Coolers, but they were also available and very good. It’s not the Blood Orange Margarita from the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot, but it was still good.
I know you guys like half eaten pictures of food from buffets, so I took some of those too.
The previously mentioned margaritas, bottle of water, Courvoisier Rose, and some desserts.
Some of the breads, which we didn’t get a very good look at earlier. Cheese, apricots, a fig, a pickle, and the melted Gouda.
This is an action shot of the donut. Because this is a professional blog, I have set this image up just right with the help of good-friend-of-the-site Deb holding the bourbon pipette. A very classy shot.
BabyCakes after. Deb had the best line of the night, “Friends don’t let friends eat BabyCakes.” After about 20 minutes of gnawing at this stuff, we finally made it through half, which turned out to be enough coincidentally.
More cheese and bread.
More fruit with a pickle on top.
Overall, “3D Disney’s Dessert Discovery” is a compelling value if you come to drink. At $55, it would be difficult to “get your money’s worth” solely on the desserts offered and personally, I would prefer to sample the Food & Wine booths outside on the promenade with that amount of money. The donut was unique, but most of the other items were more run-of-the-mill. Thanks to the booze, I felt like I got my “money’s worth,” but I also pounded drinks non-stop for an hour and a half.
On this particular night, the Sweet Seats did not seem to present a tremendous value. You do get in 15 minutes early, have a guaranteed chair and table, and have a special dessert only available to those in the Sweet Seat section. However, you have to enter/exit the area every time you want to get food/drinks and there were plenty of tables for everyone that wanted one. If future events are better attended, the Sweet Seats would present added value. The lines for the food/drink were a few people deep at the start of the event, but there was basically no one in line anywhere after the first 45 minutes.
The “3D” in the name refers to the “3D Glasses” that you will be provided with to watch IllumiNations. The Party does include a “private” viewing area at the base of World Showcase. I’m told that this is one of the best places to see IllumiNations and the “3D Glasses” make the fireworks (and any other light source, for that matter) look like “Hidden Mickeys.” It’s a neat effect and if you really enjoy IllumiNations, it’s a stress free way to enjoy the show.
The Party runs up until 30 minutes before IllumiNations begins and they’re serious about getting you out of there. The band stops right on the dot and an announcement comes over the intercom indicating that it’s time to go. Because it was raining, Disney provided everyone in the Sweet Seats section with a “free” Mickey Poncho. The rest of us got ponchos that were exactly the same, but did not have the Mickey logo.
Tropical Storm Josh. Amusingly, by the time we got our ponchos on, the rain had all but stopped. It has rained all day today and should continue raining pretty much nonstop for the next couple of days. Glad it waited until this weekend though. And sorry if you’re just arriving.