We are closing in on the end of the first weekend of the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. Somehow I decided it would be a good idea to schedule an event every day from last Thursday through Saturday of next week, so we’ll be seeing a lot of Epcot in the near future. I’ve already been chewed out over the lack of variety by the boss, so please be gentle with me if you get tired of looking at Spaceship Earth with a line in the morning and then no line in the afternoon. I really don’t have much else to say.
Spaceship Earth with a line in the morning. Actually, it’s just past 12pm. We have the Mexico Tequila Lunch at La Hacienda de San Angel at 1pm.
This is the new wait times board in front of the Fountain in Future World. When I saw it for the first time on Friday, I started laughing because it is so small. You can see how close people are getting to it in order to read the wait times. For some reason, Disney decided it would be a good idea to post tweets about the Food and Wine Festival on the right side of the board. I hate Twitter.
I’m still laughing. Maybe someone saw the dimensions and assumed it was inches rather than feet. Remember, this took them like two weeks to install. Still laughing.
It “feels” busier than it has been in recent memory.
Wait times on the bigger board:
Not bad, but we already have FASTPASSes at Test Track with return times that are two hours in the future and Soarin’ is four hours in the future. It’s 12:20pm. Test Track hit 60 minutes in the afternoon and Soarin’ was up to 70.
Heading up to World Showcase, which is where we should find more people. According to our “crowd calendar,”
Epcot will be busy again for the first weekend of the International Food and Wine Festival. Many locals know how busy Saturdays are and they wait until Sunday to visit. We’ll also have a lot of “hardcore” Disney fans visiting Magic Kingdom yesterday for the 40th Anniversary and they’ll hold off on Epcot until today. Because the Food and Wine Festival runs every day during the week, there’s really no benefit to visiting over the weekend if you have flexibility in your choices, unless you’re planning to attend a special event or workshop that is only offered on the weekend. For most locals, visiting on the weekend is much more convenient than trying to swing a weekday visit. Thus, weekends are busier. You can find success if you arrive prior to 9am and head straight for Soarin’, Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, and Mission Space, but you would be much better off waiting until tomorrow to visit when you won’t need to worry as much about Food and Wine crowds. The World Showcase will be busier than usual in the afternoon and evening.
Turning the corner and looking up toward La Cantina de San Angel and the Mexico Pavilion. It “feels” more crowded.
One more look before we cut into La Hacienda de San Angel.
As you’re probably aware, La Hacienda de San Angel is the relatively new Mexican restaurant overlooking World Showcase Lagoon. It only serves dinner from 4pm to 9pm. The nice thing is that you can eat inside the restaurant from 11am – 3pm or so if you’re picking up quick service from La Cantina de San Angel next door. The air-conditioning is particularly nice on hot summer days and it provides a nice view of the Lagoon.
This specific event is the Mexico Tequila Lunch. According to Disney’s website, “Savor samples of tequila that complement a selected Mexican regional cuisine as you learn about tequila history and production.” You had me at tequila. Many restaurants host similar events throughout the Food and Wine Festival on select days. This event happens every Saturday and Sunday at 1pm.
A very nice setup here. They were passing out Rosita Margaritas (El Mayor Premium silver Tequila, orange liqueur, fresh lime juice, rose syrup with hibiscus salt on the rim – $13.00) as we entered. A nice touch.
Another look. We’ve got three different tequilas in what I would call “wine glasses,” a shot of tequila in a traditional glass, a bottle of Dasani water/crackers for “palette cleansing,” and an assortment of items that we’ll make use of later.
We’ve got a bunch of tables pushed together for more of a “community feel.” It’s always fun to chat with people about their experiences. Unless you’re sitting across from me, anyway.
La Hacienda’s head chef (I think) introduced each dish and explained a little bit about what was in it. The restaurant manager was out and about answering questions and the event was hosted by the very popular Hilda, “tequila ambassador” or some such.
The menu. The entree and dessert are on the regular menu, but the ceviche, soup, and empanada are not.
This was a nice way to start the meal. Even my tablemate that “didn’t like scallops” enjoyed it and the woman who didn’t like seafood of any kind gobbled it right up. It was paired with the Milagro Select Barrel Silver Tequila, which runs $16/shot at La Cava del Tequila. We were instructed to smell the lime that we saw in the first picture and then smell the tequila to pick up on the “notes” that make it unique.
It tasted like tequila.
Two appetizers were served next:
The sope on the left was the best food item of the entire meal and I have no idea why they don’t serve it on their regular menu. The empanada was also a table favorite. This was paired with the Gran Centenario Resposado, which normally runs $14/shot. You could indeed taste a hint of cinnamon to go along with its distinctively floral aroma. A very nice tequila.
Before each course, Hilda explained the flavors of each tequila and the chef explained why it was paired with the food.
The entree was a portion of La Hacienda’s Pescado a la Talla ($23.95) and Puerco en Salsa de Mole Negro ($25.95):
I was happy because both items were better than they usually are, but neither was particularly popular with the table. The pork was dry and the tilapia didn’t have a lot of flavor, though it was cooked perfectly. This was paired with the Chinaco Anejo ($15/shot), which tasted strongly of alcohol and vanilla. It seemed like it was everyone’s least favorite because it overpowered the flavors from the food. Since the pork and tilapia are such different items, I’m not sure where they were going with the pairing. Supposedly, the almonds on the pork were supposed to bring out the almond flavor in the tequila (or vice versa) and I’m sure there was something in the fish too.
The biggest complaint was the speed of the meal. The courses were served too fast. The meal was supposed to go through 2:30pm, but we were forced out by this TouringPlans.com meet that began at 2pm right through these shutters in the same room.
The Tamal de Dulce ($7.95) was not to my tastes, though others seemed to enjoy it. The strawberry coulis tasted very bizarre and the Agavero Tequila Liquor ($9/shot) was oddly sweet.
Overall, it was a very pleasant meal. I like these sorts of “experiences” because you get to try a variety of different items in an intimate setting. They usually offer a good value for the money as well. If you tally up the actual/approximate cost of everything you would get $54 for the tequila, $13 for the margarita, $8 for the ceviche, $13 for the appetizers, and $25 for the entree, for a grand total of $113 for the four courses and liquor. Plus, you get to meet the chef and other key people that make up the restaurant. At a cost of $65, it wasn’t a bad value by any means. Not cheap though, either.
We’re back out on the promenade for a quick look at crowds:
Immediately outside the restaurant. Looking toward the China Pavilion.
Up past the Norway Pavilion.
Long lines at most of the booths. They’re all outside, uncovered, and in the sun. Luckily, temperatures should cool off moving into November. It was warmer today than yesterday and highs will be back up in the upper 80s later this week, but we should see low 80s by the end of the month.
Up to Germany.
Even the line at the fast-moving Cheese booth is long.
Particularly during the weekends, tables and chairs in the World Showcase are few and far in between. This is my favorite spot to take a break, other than the tables outside the American Adventure Pavilion:
These tables are right behind the wine store and on your way to Via Napoli or Tutto Italia in the Italy Pavilion. Otherwise, the tables in front of or inside the Liberty Inn in the American Adventure are your best bets.
Up at Hops & Barley in the American Adventure.
And over to France.
Get down from there!!
Looking into the United Kingdom Pavilion from afar.
And zoomed in.
Who knows where we are here. People are covering up all of the landmarks!
Looking back at Canada.
This guy hands out free bags of Crasins all day.
Not much of a line at Spaceship Earth in the afternoon.
A pretty nutty number of people in the World Showcase, right? We’ll see what it looks like tomorrow.