Another day at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. You may recall yesterday’s swirling crowds. Today is supposed to be better. I don’t think it could be much worse.
Here we are arriving at the turnstiles around 1pm:
It’s late enough in the afternoon that most of the people that are going to be in Epcot are already there.
A two minute wait.
Why is it so small?
That’s what she said. Sorry, I’ve been waiting all weekend to say that. I’m still laughing about this thing. Look at how close they are!!
A little context.
Due to some unforeseen scheduling conflicts (PLEASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSE don’t tell the boss), we can’t take the exact same look at crowds at the exact same times as yesterday. It’s 1:20pm here as we’re headed up through Mexico. Yesterday’s pictures were taken about 45 minutes earlier.
And just to jog your memory, yesterday:
It’s a slightly different angle, but it isn’t like people were hiding. It’s a little early for people to be passed out in the bushes too, but I admit the “crowd calendar” doesn’t take passed out people in the bushes into account. The algorithm isn’t perfect!!
On our way to Norway.
Here’s what our look from Norway looked like today:
And a very similar shot from yesterday:
Still a lot of people around, but far less than yesterday.
Have to turn around and head to the 2pm wine tasting at the Festival Welcome Center.
While it looks crowded, one of the nice things that may be less obvious is the fact that there is basically no one in line at any of the booths. We have one person waiting to pick up food and four people ordering.
Looking back in the opposite direction with the Caribbean booth on our right and Argentina/Brazil to our right.
A quick bite to eat from Argentina. This is the Beef Empanada ($3.75). I tried to order the Beef Skewer, but was told they were out of potatoes(?).
This was a decent size portion and tasted really good. Could have used a dollop of sour cream, but that probably doesn’t scream Argentina. The crust was flaky/crisp and the beef a little spicy. Recommended.
One person in line at Australia. Don’t forget the lamb chop!
A quick look at the other side of World Showcase.
Chef Duffy is $30.
People around, but certainly nothing like the last three days.
A couple of people in line for Hawaii.
To the Welcome Center.
Wait times at 1:40pm:
Not too bad.
Loosen Bros. (pronounced low-sun for whatever it’s worth) arriving on the scene.
There really isn’t much a reason to arrive early for these seminars, though people certainly do. You would get a seat closer to the stage if you’re in the front, but that doesn’t necessarily afford you a better view as you could be seated in the front corner with an obscured view of the stage. For these kinds of seminars, a cast member will seat people in the order that they arrive into rows. Also note that you have to collect tickets for every event in the Festival Welcome Center. As you enter, you’ll see a “Will Call” podium that distributes these tickets. You give them your last name, they check it against a list, you initial your name, and they hand you a ticket. Unfortunately, this process isn’t particularly obvious and a lot of people initially get in line without tickets, only to be told they need one. You can get tickets to all of that days events at once, but you’ll have to visit each and every day you have events planned.
And the wines.
You may remember them from Thursday’s First Bites event. I’m always amused by these sorts of tastings because the hosts inevitably make fun of wines from other regions or varieties. Loosen Bros. imports German rieslings, so they don’t particularly care for wines from France or Italy. Thomas also referred to German rieslings from the 80s and 90s as “bullshit,” which elicited laughs from the audience, your author included. When we go to one of the France tastings, I’m sure we’ll hear a little bit about those nasty German rieslings.
This was okay. We learned a little bit about German rieslings, how they’re made, what makes them different, and why they’re better than other types of wine. I didn’t think they spent enough time explaining what made each riesling unique or what we were supposed to be tasting, but I’m dense. Thomas, the male host, was a riot. I sort of wanted to see if he wanted to come over for dinner, but I’m still hosting Taylor Dayne.
The presentation. Most of the beverage tastings will look similar.
A look at wait times around 2:30pm:
About what we can expect from a “crowd level 4” day. Now that we’ve moved into October, most of the Disney theme parks will be busier than any day in September. We should see things taper off a bit moving into next week though.
Headed up through Canada to Tokyo Dining in the Japan Pavilion.
Looking in the opposite direction.
Up through United Kingdom.
And looking back.
Get down from there!!!
Not much of a line for the France booth.
Looking back toward France.
And into Japan. This is the Food and Wine Pairing that occurs every Monday from 3:30pm to 5pm during the Food/Wine Festival at Tokyo Dining. It runs $55/person.
Tokyo Dining is a dark restaurant:
Another nice place setting. We have three glasses for the sake and a menu.
The event was hosted by Scott (who must be a prominent person in the Mitsukoshi hierarchy because I see him around the Japan Pavilion a lot) and the sous-chef of Tokyo Dining.
Quite the spread. If you’ve ever had the (dis)pleasure of dining with me at a World Showcase restaurant, you would know that I have trouble understanding accents. I had no idea what the Japanese sous-chef was saying. I also have the fine motor skills of a three year old and don’t “do” chopsticks. Very embarrassing. We have several sauces that correspond to the various items on the plate. I had no idea what was supposed to be dipped in what and my tablemates weren’t too sure either. I hedged my bets and had a little bit of everything with everything else. One of those bites was correct. This was paired with a sake that I am too lazy to type out. Okay fine, the Tsukasabotan Senchu Hassaku Sake Tokubetsu Junmai. It is “extremely dry,” “clean,” and “well balanced.” At about $45/bottle, it isn’t cheap either. The green tea soba sushi roll was the best item of the meal – I would have preferred more of this sort of thing over what’s going to be coming out next.
Oh man, this “Soft Shell Crab in a Nameko Mushroom Sauce” is about the most unappetizing thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I don’t want to say I’d take an Angus Pizza Burger over it, but I’m not sure I would necessarily add it to my pairings menu. Luckily, this has fewer item/sauce complications. One item. One sauce. The salmon was presented nicely and tasted fine. It wasn’t anything particularly special, but I’m sure it tasted like it was supposed to taste. The crab was as bizarre as it looks. It was paired with the Wakatake Ginjo Onikoroshi sake. Another “clean” choice. A touch fruitier than the first.
The beef was cooked perfectly and was obviously a high quality cut, but it was served cold, which I don’t think was intentional. I imagine the platters had all been sitting out somewhere for a while before they were served. What’s inside the owl bowl is even more bizarre than the crab from pairing two. It looks like soup, but it’s a thicker, oddly textured custard-like gunk with chunks of lobster on the bottom. “Lobster Milk Consomme” doesn’t sound particularly appetizing in the first place and this dish didn’t change my mind. It was served in a really cute owl bowl though. This was paired with top-shelf Junmai Daiginjyo Jozen Mizuno Gotoshi that runs about $70/bottle. Another “fruity” sake with melon and pear notes.
Dessert was a Strawberry Ama Sake Mist. Very refreshing and a nice way to end the meal.
The biggest problem with the meal, and Tokyo Dining in general, is that we were seated right next to the boisterous waiting area. There is a never ending deluge of people moving through the area mere feet from where we were trying to listen to an already-difficult-to-understand host. It obscured any sense of intimacy and subtracted immensely from the overall experience. In one ear you’ve got Scott explaining sake culture in various regions in Japan and in the other you’ve got crying infants and angry parents.
I waited to take a picture of the waiting area until no one was sitting there because it would be even weirder than usual to turn around and take a picture in someone’s face. But you can see the tables on the right side of the picture and then right across the way are long benches for people to sit on while they wait for their table.
Overall, I didn’t enjoy this experience as much as yesterday’s in Mexico. I couldn’t understand the sous-chef and the constant disruption from the waiting area made it difficult to concentrate on what anyone else was saying. The food was a little more “out there” than I was expecting. I’ve had several very pleasant meals at Tokyo Dining and think their food is among the best in the World Showcase, but this menu didn’t appeal to me. Your experience may very well differ though. Overall, I would probably spend my $55 ordering whatever it was I wanted off the regular menu. It would have probably been more interesting if the meal had been subtitled and the sauces came with dipping instructions.
Back to the promenade to check out the America Gardens Theater, which is currently housing the Eat to the Beat concert series:
Still plenty of seats at 4:50pm, but the seats up close are mostly taken. We have about 25 minutes until showtime. 38 Special is the band.
Headed over to Germany:
It’s about 5pm, which is really when the World Showcase gets busy. This is only exacerbated during the Food/Wine Festival. To find the lowest crowds all day, move up through World Showcase when it opens at 11am and then return to Future World after 5pm when most people have moved on to World Showcase.
Italy. Unfortunately, we’re looking right into the sun.
Germany, with the Germany booth/Brewmaster’s Collection to our right.
On our way over to China.
Looking back toward Germany and into the sun.
In China, looking back toward Germany.
Looking toward China.
In Norway, looking back at China.
At the Margarita Stand looking up at Norway.
Hope you followed that. Basically, we’re looking one way and then in the opposite direction.
Not a lot of people arriving around 5:15pm.
A better looking day than yesterday. There isn’t a whole lot we can do about the heavier crowds in the World Showcase during the Food and Wine Festival, but we can visit when it’s going to be less crowded. During the Festival, your best plan of attack is always arriving by 8:40am to take care of Soarin’, Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, and Mission: Space before moving up to the World Showcase at 11am. If you have more you’d like to do in Future World (including riding the headliners with FASTPASS), return after 5pm when crowds have moved on to World Showcase. Keep in mind that most Future World attractions close at 7pm and only Soarin’, Test Track, Mission Space, and Spaceship Earth continue operating from 7pm – 9pm.
I’ll be returning tomorrow for a similar walkabout.