2017 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Favorites

2017 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Favorites

With just about 4 weeks left in this years Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, 26 days to be exact I wanted to share some of my new favorites to this year’s festival, and some past favorites that are still around. We got to enjoy the first 4 days of the festival earlier in the season and I definitely wish we had more time. I miss the days of being able to go to the festival way too many times while it was going on. Oh the perks of being a local.

New this year was the Light Lab, in the Future World West building behind Club Cool. We really got to enjoy the space on Thursday and Friday the first 2 days of the festival before people started to find out about it and the crowds started to pick up. It was the perfect spot to cool off from the heat, enjoy a drink, with a nice atmosphere. The weekends however had lines to even get in the space, so you couldn’t just hang out. However there were still tables inside the back area of Future World West. We did a beer flight that was in the outside area, and also tried the Blue Spectrum. I really enjoyed it, especially once I popped the Boba Balls trying to get them out. The fun part about Light Lab was that they make the drinks right there in front of you like it’s a science lab, and lab coats are part of their costume.

My favorite thing, and also the last thing I had the entire festival was the Tequila Chipotle Shrimp at the Mexico booth. At first I wasn’t going to try it, I was sad they had something new instead of the shrimp taco I have loved for years. I’m going to be honest, this was even better! This was done on a Black Bean Huarache, topped with Red and Green cabbage, Queso Fresco and Crema Mexicana. I’ll be honest I’m so mad I didn’t get it sooner so I could have had it more than once. I also grabbed their Classic Margarita and the two paired perfect together.

The Almond Orchard was another new stop though it’s location has been many things over the years, it is sponsored by Almond Breeze and they had a variety of dairy free treats. It was nice to find a smoothie for my toddler as they are her favorite and she is dairy free.  It was a pretty basic strawberry smoothie made with Almond milk but it was good and she loved it, especially on a hot day. I actually found there were many more kid friendly options than I’ve noticed in years past. When you pick up your Food and Wine Passport look for the strawberry next to items that are designated as kid friendly options.

With mention of the Passport, a little tip if your kids love stickers the Food and Wine Passport was a BIG hit with my daughter. She loved the stickers and it kept her so happy while we waited in lines. We grabbed a few extra to bring home.

 

The Epcot Legacy Showplace in the Odyssey Center was set up as a tribute to Epcot’s 35th Anniversary, with Foods inspired by Epcot’s past. We tried both good items here the Chilled Scotch Egg wrapped in Sausage with mustard sauce, as well as the Zesty Cheeseburger and Cheddar Cheese Macaroni handwich. We were big fans of the scotch egg. The handwich is one of the best deals of the festival, at $5.50 its a great price for the portion. I didn’t love it because I don’t do onions and it had some big pearl onions in it. ( yes I can be picky) Don’t let that discourage you from trying it though if that doesn’t bother you because everyone else has loved it!

One last one, though there was so much more I wish we would have had time to try was the Sweet Pancake with Spicy Chipotle-Chicken Sausage, Onion Jam, and Maple Butter Syrup and the Piggy Wings from Flavors from Fire in Future World West. The sausage definitely had a kick too it, and the Piggy Wings reminded me a bit of the wings at Ohana but were still different and of course delicious.

Here are a few other favorites that have been around for a while.

China– Chicken Potstickers

Canada– “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon

Brazil– Brazilian Cheese Bread

Hops and Barley– New England Lobster Roll and Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese

 

Belgium– Belgian Waffle with Berry Compote

We also of course enjoyed some drinks around the showcase. I tried a mix of things while my husband pretty much stuck to beer.

Always a favorite is the Passion Martini Slush in France. While this has changed time to time over the years for the festival it is still the perfect drink to cool down with, and always tasty!

New and exclusive to the festival Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen Pomegranate Beer at the Brewers Collection. This was honestly fantastic! I know everyone has gone crazy over their grapefruit beer which I’ve yet to have but I’m really hoping Schöfferhofer decides to sell this one after he festival, at least in the parks.

Of course I couldn’t not try the Rosè that was available. I’m really only a fan of dry Rosè, I’m not a sweet wine drinker so when you’re looking for a dry one the lighter ones tend to me the most dry ones. I really enjoyed the Meomi Rosè from The Wine and Dine studio. I had been wanting to try this one for a while but didn’t want to pay $20 for the bottle at the store. I also had the Moët & Chandon Brut Rosè Imperial Champagne at the Almond Orchard. It was a tad sweet but still dry, but as you can see the colors in the two are really quite different.

There was so much more we wanted to try but there just wasn’t enough time to do it all. What are some of your favorite finds from the festival?

How to Update an Old Pair of Minnie Ears in Under 5 minutes

How to Update an Old Pair of Minnie Ears in Under 5 minutes

Planning Disney outfits are always so much fun, and one of the best accessories to a Disney Day outfit is Minnie Mouse Ears of course. I’ve been doing Disney for years so I have quite the collection of ears. My older classic black sequin ears just needed something new as the old bow was flimsy and didn’t hold in place. Of course I could have bought a new pair but I actually love the way the older ones fit my head vs. the new ones. I actually had 2 of the same ones so I went with 2 different colors.

This is so simple. You need 5 in sequin bows or the bows of your choice. You can get them here or also Etsy depending on what you want. You will also need scissors and a glue gun.

I cut the bow off my old ears to get started. Then i opened the back of my bow because I really like the look of bow being wrapped on the headband and I also wanted to hide the left over glue. I wrapped it around the headband and glued it in the back. There you have it, fresh new fun Minnie Ears for about $2!

I love saving some money and sprucing up old items! Giving something  a fresh new look is so much fun for me and I am always thinking of things I can do that for. Go dig out those old ears and add some new fun to your Disney Style!

 

Dairy Free Dole Whip Inspired Popsicles

Dairy Free Dole Whip Inspired Popsicles

*this post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a small commision for products purchased through my links. I do not recommend products I don’t love myself 

So here I am again with another popsicle recipe! Popsicles have been a saving grace through toddler teething and these already hot summer days. They seriously make my child so happy. When we are at Disney I love to a Dole Whip or Dole Whip float is my absolute FAVORITE treat, and my favorite part is they are dairy free. With a daughter that has a dairy allergy when I decided on these Dole Whip inspired popsicles, they had to be dairy free too. We had tried some homemade dole whip recipes so those helped create this inspiration a bit.

So here is what you need:

1 bag of Frozen Pineapple

1 can of coconut cream

12 oz of pineapple juice ( I used 2 of the small size cans like these)

1 – 2 TBS of Honey or Agave Nectar to taste

Popsicle Molds


 

Use a blender and add in frozen pineapple, pineapple juice and the coconut cream. You could also use a large  can of pineapple with the juice if you wanted I just don’t love canned pineapple. Once it is mostly blended add in honey or agave nectar ( I used agave and did 2tbs, I tasted until it was just right).

After all ingredients are blended together and consistency is to your liking pour mixture into your popsicle molds. Let the popsicles freeze for at least 24 hours. I had to run under warm water over them get them out. I have a small skinny freezer so it was easier to wrap in wax paper and store in a  freezer bag. My husband and I even used them in our own version of Dole Whip floats on our Magic Kingdom Inspired Date Night which you can find here.These made 4 of the bigger popsicles and 8 smaller ones, and left enough for my daughter to drink like it was a smoothie. If you are limited on popsicles molds you might want to cut the recipe in half.

These don’t taste just like my beloved Disney Dole Whip however they do hit the spot. Any recipe I have found for Dole Whip just isn’t the same but at least they can fill the void in between trips. You will get a bit of a coconut flavor but I honestly couldn’t tell all that much. These went fast, and yet again I can’t seem to keep any popsicles we have been making stocked in the freezer. I’m thinking about trying these subbed with other fruits, maybe some strawberries. What do you think?

How to Plan a Magic Kingdom Inspired Date Night

How to Plan a Magic Kingdom Inspired Date Night

 

*this post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a small commision for products purchased through my links. I do not recommend products I don’t love myself 

 

I can’t believe we are already on week 3 of  my Date Night series! It has really been so fun and this weeks was no exception. One of our absolute favorite things to do when at Disney is eat. Ya we love the food. We used to head out after to work to the Magic Kingdom for some Casey’s mini corn dogs, dole whip floats, and other things get a spot for the night time parade and then watch Wishes. We would literally didn’t even leave the Main Street area. While I could not completely recreate this exact date you better believe I did the best I could!

The first thing I wanted to figure out was a fun activity to add in other than just eating. I remembered we had Disney Scene It game ( you can get yours here) , and I knew that trivia was the perfect addition to the evening. While Hub Grass was not really a thing when we lived there, it is now so the best I could do to recreate this was a picnic on the ground with a green ( ya I know it’s mint green) blanket.



Casey’s Corner mini corn dogs are my favorite, even though I sure do miss the “plastic” cheese that made them taste even better! While I could have made them myself and they would have tasted much better there were just other things I wanted to make. Also I am a toddler Mama my time is very limited. The nuggets we used are just the State Fair brand mini corn dogs. Trust me they are not Casey’s mini corn dogs and I will be working up a recipe for these puppies so I can have them at home. We also made some shoe string fries to go along with the Casey’s theme.

It’s just not Magic Kingdom to me without a Dole Whip float. I recently came up with a recipe for a Dairy Free Dole Whip inspired popsicle (coming to the blog on Monday) so we did miniature Dole Whip Floats that way. They were so good, and of course easy!

Once I was completing things I realized we had way too many sweet treats! Those seem to be our favorite in the kingdom. We added some delicious homemade Mickey Rice Krispy treats dipped in chocolate and M&M’s just like our favorite from the Main Street Confectionary.

When I was walking through Trader Joe’s one day I came across these mini churros and knew they were also perfect for this date night. Of course my husband insisted on some chocolate sauce too. I’m more all about eating them as they are, but to each their own. Also if you love churros these did not disappoint so head on over to your local Trader Joe’s!

Magic Kingdom makes me think of all the Disney classics. Playing the Disney Scene it Trivia game and eating all our favorite Magic Kingdom snacks helped in making it almost feel as if we were HOME. Plus who doesn’t love to get competitive with their spouse, it’s fun right? Make sure to share with me your at home Disney dates. Happy Planning!

 

 

“Grey Stuff” Inspired No Bake Cheesecake

“Grey Stuff” Inspired No Bake Cheesecake

 

The Live Action Beauty and the Beast movie comes out on Blue Ray/DVD today! If you have yet to see it go out and get a copy because Disney did an absolutely amazing job with this LIVE action remake of an animated classic. You can order it here. I also happen to be celebrating my 8th wedding anniversary with my husband today so I have a little Beauty and the Beast date night in planned for the evening. I am excited for him to see the movie for the first time.

With the Beauty and the Beast theme in mind I wanted to whip up a dessert for the evening. Of course the “Grey Stuff”came to my mind but I wanted to play a twist on it a bit. After much thought and looking through my dessert board on Pinterest to see if anything gave me that inspiration, I decided on a Grey Stuff Inspired No Bake Cheesecake.

This was super easy to make, and I really enjoy the flavor of it more than the cool whip flavored recipe that is floating around, and is used in the park.

Here is what you need:

18 Oreos

10 oz of cream cheese softened

1.5 oz of milk ( I used Ripple Milk( dairy free(

1 packet of Simply Jello Vanilla Pudding

wine glass, jars, or whatever you would like to serve it in

Lay your cream cheese out to soften. Mix 1 cup of the milk with the pudding mix until it thickens, then add in  12 of the crushed Oreos. You can crush Oreos by placing in a baggy and using a cup or rolling pin. For the first 12 I left the cream in the center. Mix together. Remove the filling from the remaining 6 Oreos and add to the mixture, with the cream cheese. Mix all together and then refrigerate for one hour. Crush the remaining 6 Oreos, divide and place in bottom of your serving dish of choice. Top with the cheesecake mixture.

You can spoon it in or use a pipping bag which I found much easier with using wine glasses. Place back in the fridge for a few hours before serving. Mine made these 2 huge wine glasses and 2 small cheesecakes, which we enjoyed as soon as they were set. You could definitely get 6-8 servings out of this depending on how you portion them.

Pop in the animated classic or the new LIVE action film, and enjoy this tasty treat with the entire family, or just your significant other!

*This post may contain affiliate links, that means I may receive a small commission. I don’t recommend items I don’t personally love.


Disney’s Toy Story Date Night In

Disney’s Toy Story Date Night In

 

Today starts my Date Night In Series.  Dating your spouse is so important! When you add a child into the mix, the dynamic of things change. Those weekly date nights, time alone with just your spouse become few and far between. By the time bedtime rolls around for the kids you are just plain exhausted. Budgets can be tight not allowing for a date night and a sitter, and even schedules can get crazy. However you can’t let that foundation you set for your marriage fade. That is why date nights even if they are not out of the home are so important.

We are lucky that we have grandparents that watch our daughter about once a month so we can get out. Otherwise we would not have nights out very often at all. Not everyone has that option, and lets be real leaving a young child with a sitter is hard. Because of this and our need to make sure we are creating that time more than once a month we started Date Nights In at our house.

I am not talking always starting up Netflix and getting cozy on the couch more often. I am talking really creating a night where you can talk, dream, and inspire each other and have that one on one time without the distractions. That can even be tough on a real date night out. Find things to do that maybe take you back to things you used to love to do together.

I love to create things with a theme.  These date nights at home give me the ability to do so. When my daughter is old enough to watch and enjoy these things I can see many family themed date nights with movies in our future. I love to plan also, and as a Mom I’ve lost the ability to be creative as often as I would like to be so this gives me the ability to do it a few times a month.

A lot of this all started when I created our 12 Dates of Christmas.Something that has been a tradition of ours for the last 6 years or more. I’ll share more about that when Christmas is closer. I’ve been picking my brain for sometime about the things we loved to do and a lot of our most favorite dates night take us back to Disney Date nights from our time in Florida. The first date night in My Date Night In series, is Toy Story themed.

When we lived in Florida we absolutely loved hitting up the parks for really fun yet simple date nights. One of our favorites was to hit up Hollywood Studios for Pizza Planet and Toy Story Mania. (It was best during the non busy times.) Of course we would hit the other parks too. The goal was to create that at home for us and I did just that!

So the making of this date night was combined of homemade pizza, a Sheriff Woody inspired drink we called ” There’s a Snake in my Boot”, White Chocolate Chex Mix, and the Nintendo Wii Toy Story Midway Mania game. We also decided to pop in Toy Story 3 when we tired out from the game.

The Sheriff Woody inspired drink was actually fairly simple. Add 1.5 oz of Bourbon into a cup, top with  Ale 8 One which is a soda from Kentucky that is kind of a mix of Sprite and Ginger Ale. You can find it here. The glass bottle is better if you just want to drink it but we stock up when we go to Kentucky. These are a tad pricey to order online but you can sometimes find them at a local Kroger or Harris Teeter. Even Cracker Barrel sometimes has them as  they have started to expand outside of Kentucky! Add a few gummy worms and you have a “There’s A Snake In My Boot.” If you don’t have these just use ginger ale.

The recipe for the White Chocolate Chex Mix can be found here. Its super easy and the perfect movie snack!

We had the best time being competitive with each other playing Toy Story Mid Way Mania. Sometimes it is easy to forget how much fun you can have. For the dinner portion we decided it would be a non family dinner  night. We were more than ok and we would have dinner just the 2 of us after our daughter was in bed. It was the perfect time for conversation which does not happen much at dinner anymore. We are both are lucky enough to eat while trying to make sure our daughter is fed, not attempting to find a way out of her high chair, or dumping her plate on the floor.

There are so many ways you can create these great date nights at home. Most of this one with our grocery budget or things we already have in the house so this can definitely be done on a budget. Make sure to stay tuned as more Date Night In’s are coming every Friday in the month of June!

*This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you purchase something through my link I may  get a small commission from it.

A Farewell To Wishes

A Farewell To Wishes

 

Writing this is a little emotional for me. I know to the normal person writing a farewell to Wishes a firework show at Walt Disney World seems so silly. You think, it is just a firework’s show. The thing is to me, to many of friends, my Disney family, and so many people I do not even know it is so much more. On Thursday, May 11th this show closes and honestly its a mix of emotions for me. It has been 10 years of Magical Memories, and  for others even more since its beginning in 2003.

Wishes has been the start of new chapters, and endings of others. It has been the ending to many wonderful celebrations, reasons for random date nights, meet ups with dear friends, and a thing to always go back to each and every visit and let all those memories come back in.

I am not just your average Disney lover. I am a Disney College Program and Professional Internship Alumni, and a 3 year Disney Cast Member after that. I was engaged in Cinderella’s Castle, and some of my best friends in the whole world came from my experiences and time at Disney. Disney is home, it is special, it is a I just left there and I need to go back like yesterday kind of place. Wishes, well it is just the icing on the cake!

So, let’s talk about those new beginnings. My then boyfriend (now husband) and I took our first trip to Disney together in the summer of 2007. It was his first trip and my first time ever staying on property, and going to any park other than Magic Kingdom or Epcot. I hadn’t been to Epcot in probably 10 years or more. My love for Wishes began this trip. The music is what really gets you. I had known for a while but I really knew that trip he was the man I was going to marry. March of 2008 we went back for our Senior Year of College Spring Break. That trip Wishes got a whole new meaning! One evening while dining at Cinderella’s Castle my husband proposed to me, and just a few minutes later we watched Wishes from our table out the Castle Window. It was a new chapter for us to start our lives together. This year exactly 9 years to the date he proposed, we watched Wishes for the first and sadly the last time with our 1 year old Daughter. Getting that moment with her was so special.

The next new beginning was the start of my college program. Thanks to Facebook I was able to jump in a group with other people doing the program the same time as me. Many of these people are still some of my dearest friends. I remember after our first day of traditions as soon as we had the ticket to get in we all made plans to meet up for Wishes. I am not even kidding there were like 20 or more of us.  Some of the best times ever in January of 2009, and some of the slowest times I have ever experienced in the parks to date. Oh, the fun we had! But all great things must come to end, and just like we started that experience together on Main Street with Wishes, it is also where that May we all met up at the end of our program.( and again in August for some people who extended.)Me I still stuck around. I remember those nights being filled with so many tears. Not wanting to say goodbye, not wanting “The Time of Your Life” (Disney’s marketing campaign at the time) to be over. Wishes was our thing. These weren’t the only nights we saw Wishes together but one of the few times we saw them in such large groups, as it got very hard to all meet up with work schedules. Wishes made us cry tears of happiness and sadness many times.

Then there were just memories. I spent 6 months doing my management internship in Magic Kingdom. 6 months away, and then another 3 years in that magical place. I have fond memories of heading out to the patio with an empty restaurant with some of my cast members at Pinocchio’s Village Haus. I remember the 6 months I spent at the Contemporary sneaking away to the observation deck wishing I was back in the park, but still loving the view just the same. Then I got to go back to Magic Kingdom, to Stands East. (sadly no longer a thing) At the time Toon Town was one of my areas and the Cast Members had a thing for watching Wishes in the backstage area. It was a such a great viewing spot. I remember some of my cast members making plans to watch it there one last time before Toon Town closed for the New Fantasyland expansion, and I remember watching right in front of Gaston’s Tavern with some of the very same cast members when we got to open that new location. I heard the music 3-4 nights a week and even if I was too busy to stop and watch it never got old! It was truly one of the best parts of working in Magic Kingdom.

 

Then I remember that last closing chapter. The one where we closed up the chapter of our Florida life. I remember the last night shift I worked and watching Wishes in front of Gaston’s Tavern, that one last time.  I remember one of my very best friends surprising me my last day at work and coming down for a few days to close that chapter with me. It was special, and magical, it was tradition.

In March, we not only watched Wishes one last time with our daughter, but also several of these same people who were a part of making this show so special. How special it was to close yet another chapter with people who mean so much.

As Walt said, “We keep moving forward opening up new doors & doing new things, because we are curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. “ While I am so sad to see Wishes go, I am excited to start making new memories with the new show. With this I leave you;

“Make a Wish and do as dreamers do and all our Wishes will come true. “

Farewell Wishes!

 

 

6 Reasons a Walt Disney World Annual Pass may be right for your Family

6 Reasons a Walt Disney World Annual Pass may be right for your Family

My family and I love to go Disney! There are a lot of reasons but here is a few. It is our second home, I was a cast member there for 4 years, we got engaged there, and it is just the perfect place for a fun family vacation. Being a previous cast member I know a lot of the ins and outs, tips and tricks of  Walt Disney World even though it has been 4 years since I worked there. We visit frequently, I read Disney Blogs on the regular and much more to constantly stay up to date. This past year in November we decided it was time to get a Walt Disney World Annual Pass. We have been blessed with many trips to Disney for cheap thanks to Disney friends but with a child we needed to be able to have more flexibility and plan on our own.

 

So is a Walt Disney Word Annual Pass right for our Family? Here are 5 reasons why it might be.

 

  1. You have a child under the age of 3 (Disney with young children – Another post for another day)

 

Our daughter is only 1.5. She has been to Disney 3 times already. We are taking extra advantage of it since we don’t have to pay for her right now, as our ability to go more often may change once she turns 3. (We hope not though.) At Disney 2 and under are FREE. No ticket required, no dining plan or meals have to be purchased, we can even still get a King size room. She can get her own plate at character meals at no charge, and eat off ours at others. However, she is an eater so we do buy her meals sometimes. This just makes things that much easier. I know it seems so young for a child to go to Disney but its free and they may not remember but you will!

 

  1. If you plan to go for more than 10 days in a calendar year it may pay for itself

 

When we got our pass in November we actually got an extra month free which gave us 13 months to use our pass. We have already been for around 14 days and the pass has easily paid for itself and then some. Price compare the options, especially if you like to park hop like we do. Also annual pass holders get room, food and merchandise discounts so that adds more savings.

 

  1. Memory Maker

 

This can be confusing to some as its listed as Photo pass under the pass holder perks, but it’s the exact same thing as the memory maker. It is one of my favorite perks of the pass. If you’re a Florida resident not every pass comes with this, but it is worth it for one person in your party to have the one with photo pass for the perk alone. Memory Maker cost $169 a trip, $149 if booked in advance. Over 2 trips that’s $300 or more you would pay for it close to half the cost of a pass. I wouldn’t do a trip without it, it is worth every bit!

 

 

  1. Free Parking

 

If you ever decide to go and stay off property, your parking with an Annual Pass is FREE! Parking is crazy expensive at $20 a day. Our most recent trip we stayed off property ( not my favorite thing, but we had a good deal!) and the pass saved us $140 in parking fees we would have paid.

 

  1. Discounts & Perks

 

Pass holders save on rooms, dining and merchandise. Room discounts can be up to about 30% off depending on the type of the resort. You receive 20% off merchandise and 10-20% off at certain food and beverage locations. We have yet to use the room discount but have easily saved upwards of $100-$150 from dining and merchandise discounts. You can even use your pass holder discount on the shop Disney parks app. Also just this year they have added special pass holder entrances. It was so great to skip the line at the turnstiles on the early mornings.  Who doesn’t love a discount, and good perks!

       6. Special Events and Merchandise

There are so many great special events throughout the year at Disney. From Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival, Food and Wine Festival, Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party, Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party, Holidays around the World , to the New Festival of the Arts Disney always has something fun and new to offer! The Fall and Christmas are one of our favorite times to visit, and no it never gets old! With an annual pass you can experience it all, and there is always special merchandise just for annual pass holders.

 

As I mentioned we have already been 14 days since our first day of use in November. The park days alone have already paid for themselves and then  some based on what we have paid for 2 different trips worth of 7 day park hopper tickets. Because we got 13 months at time of purchase we plan to get one more week trip, and hopefully a long weekend or 2.

Do the math and the research and see what works best for your family. You could take one trip with your pass in 2017 and one in 2018 before its expiration saving you on trip for the following year. I think so many people don’t realize this is even an option.

Annual passes may not be the best option for every family depending on how often your family likes to make the trip. Sometimes we like to be spontaneous and plan a last minute little get away. That’s not easy for everyone to do, but if you can sometimes it is fun to fly by the seat of your pants. Happy Disney planning!