Experiencing the magic of Gluhwein.
I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to start trying treats from the holiday kitchens at Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays (yes, I’m probably gonna slip up and call it Holidays Around the World a time or two!).
Yep – as we move toward All Festivals, All The Time at Epcot (I’m ok with this) Holidays Around the World has grown and officially become Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays. If you’ve never experienced it, imagine a winter holiday-themed Flower & Garden or Food & Wine. If you’ve never experienced either of those, imagine lots of little kiosks with internationally themed and inspired foods and drinks.
These items are at the top of my “must try” list:
Chocolate Peppermint Glazed Croissant Donut
Yukon Holiday Kitchen (Canada)
Ice Wine Flight. ICE WINES. Winessss. Plural. More than one. Yes please. Merry Christmas, Kevin.
Maple Buche de Noel. A kind of maple and gingerbread yule-roll-type thing. I need it. Canada has a special place in my heart; maybe it’s because I spent three years living between Seattle and Vancouver, BC. Maybe it’s because of their delicious foods like nanaimo and poutine. Maybe it’s a little because of Justin Trudeau. I guess we can’t be sure.
Alsace Holiday Kitchen (France)
Spiced Rum Punch Slush. I haven’t yet met an Epcot slush I didn’t enjoy, and this one is delightfully red and contains spiced rum, orange, and cinnamon. It sounds SO endearingly Christmassy, I can practically hear sleigh bells and reindeer hooves. I’m just picturing drinkable holiday cheer. Side note: I wasn’t really even considering trying this (not much of a rum person) until Disney Food Blog tempted me with their photo and review. Now, it’s one of the items I’m MOST excited about.
Hokkaido Holiday Kitchen (Japan)
Cinnamon Mochi Cake: Cinnamon and Coconut Cake. I’m in love with cinnamon this time of year and I always love coconut, so what could go wrong?
Strawberry Nigori Sake Cocktail: Semi-sweet Unfiltered Sake with Puréed Strawberry. I’ve never had Sake because I’m afraid it’ll taste like gasoline, but this sounds so juicy and tempting.
American Holiday Table
Slow-Roasted Turkey with Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, and Cranberry Sauce. All the holiday foods in one boat. I’ll take it.
Chocolate Apple Shake featuring Twinings Winter Spice Herbal Tea and Bols Butterscotch Schnapps. Oh. Em. Goodness. Also available in a nonalcoholic version.
Cocoa Candy Cane: Nestlé Chocolate Delights Hot Cocoa with Peppermint Schnapps. Yuuuuup. Pretty sure this is the kind of thing you’re supposed to leave out for Santa.
Bavaria Holiday Kitchen (Germany area)
So basically, I’m gonna need this entire menu. It offers a bunch of my favorite holiday things: cheese, melted cheese, mulled wine, and cider. My heritage is Bavarian so I feel especially validated in my love for those foods, too.
German Artisan Cheese Plate: German ButterKase with Ham, Mushroom Brie with Pretzel Crostini, and Tillamook Cheddar. Had this last year. Having it again this year. The ButterKase is so creamy (imagine Gouda meets Munster, maybe?) and the Mushroom Brie gives a little something extra to one of my favorite everyday cheeses.
German Artisan Cheese Plate
Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl with freshly steamed Baby Vegetables and Marble Potatoes. Also had this last year. It involves melted cheese, so I’m DEFINITELY having it again. You can’t go wrong with melted cheese at any time, but hot, melted cheese on a cold Florida evening, surrounded by evergreens and fairy lights? Heart eyes.
Hard Apple Cider and Hard Blackcurrant cider. Oh yeah. Mmm hmm.
And last but not least, my personal favorite: Glühwein! Imagine red wine mulled with clementine, cinnamon, and every delicious Christmas spice imaginable. HOLIDAY JUICE, if you will. You drink it warm, and it is perfection.
Gluhwein makes me happy.
Tuscan Holiday Kitchen (Italy)
Panettone alla Milanese: Warm Italian Fruit Cake with Vanilla Sauce and Cherry Syrup 😳
(If the words “fruit cake” scare you, Panettone is not very similar to the heavy, sticky thing I bet you’re picturing. The versions I’ve had have been more akin to a light, fluffy raisin bread.)
Norway: Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe
Traditional Holiday Rice Cream. No idea if this is different from the rice cream served at Kringla Bakeri year-round, but I’m kind of hoping for something with apple, cardamom, and raisins – yummm.
The Cookie Nook (Odyssey Center)
Warm Apple Fritter with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Warm Caramel Sauce
Gingersnap Cookie with Cream Cheese Icing and Cranberry Jam
Florida Orange Groves Winery Sparkling Cranberry Wine
Someone please fetch me a paper bag to breathe into.
Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen (Mexico)
Tostada de Tinga: Crispy Corn Tortilla smothered with Black Beans, topped with Chipotle Chicken and garnished with Crema Mexicana, Queso Fresco, Avocado, and Tomatillo Sauce. “Oooohhhhh” is the only commentary I’ve got right now.
Okay, well, now I’m starving. Someone we know will probably be leaving Epcot quite a few dishes fuller bit also several dollars poorer.
Your turn! Are you visiting Epcot during International Festival of the Holidays? What are you most eager to try? Have you experienced any of the dishes I’m longing to get? If so, what did you think?
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Summertime, like many parts of the year in Florida, can be hot. Like, miserably, sweating-from-places-you-didn’t-even-know-could-sweat hot. And humid. Oh man, it’s humid. If you’re not used to it, you might feel like you’re walking around in a sauna. In hell. A really pretty, fun version of hell.
But guess what? Even though it’s hot, you can still have a totally amazing vacation by being prepared and taking care of yourself.
1. Get used to walking before you go.
I know this is not an option for some, but it’ll help. Promise. You’re gonna be dang tired if you go from 2,000 steps a day at home to 20,000 steps a day at Disney World. Going from 10,000 or more steps a day to 20,000 steps is less of a punch in the face. You’ll be less tired, less cranky, and able to get more done.
You probably already don’t drink enough water, and you’re going to be sweating like mad in the Florida heat. There’s no need to bring in heavy bottled water or spend $4 per bottle of Dasani, either. Any quick service restaurant or counter that has fountain drinks will give you a cup of water at no charge. (Note: if the outlet/cart only has bottled beverages, they won’t be able to give you water.) My favorite method? Packing an empty water bottle to keep the weight of your park bag reasonable. I use a Bobble bottle with a filter and fill it at water fountains throughout the park.
3. Protect yourself from the sun.
The last thing you want on your vacation is a fierce sunburn, and I’m guessing you’d like to avoid damage to your skin and premature signs of aging, too. You need SPF on any exposed skin: face, lips, ears, arms, legs, even the tops of your feet. I use a tinted moisturizer with SPF 50 for my face, an SPF 15 lip balm, then a Coola spray sunscreen for the rest of my body. Also essential? A breathable hat! I have a wide-brimmed, packable, squishable safari-type hat. It helps shade from the sun and keep me a little cooler, plus I can just smoosh it up and throw it in my backpack when it gets dark. Sunglasses are another big one – I literally never make a daytime park trip without mine. And I know you know this, but… you still need to protect yourself from rays even when it’s cloudy.
4. Seek shade.
There are a bunch of good ways to do this! Meals are an awesome opportunity to get into the air conditioning. You can make Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) for a number of table service meals, or you can visit some of the larger quickservice outlets that offer ample indoor seating. Dark rides are another good one: the dim lighting and chilled air on Haunted Mansion feels pret-ty dang good on a sweltering day! Or pop into pretty much any shop for some shade. Cool off and browse the cute stuff at the same time!
5. Rest when you need to.
Seriously. Listen to your body. You don’t even have to miss out on the fun. Attractions like Philharmagic and the People Mover are perfect for getting off your feet while still enjoying the magic.
6. It’s probably gonna rain.
Acceptance helps. Daily afternoon thunderstorms are simply a part of Florida summers! Get a rain poncho. You can either bring one of these with you or purchase in-park for around $10 (they’re not on display, so you’ll have to ask at the counter). Five years on, our Disney ponchos are still going strong! It’s money well-spent if you’re able to continue throughout the park instead of hover under an overhang, too. Most park operations continue as normal during the rain, but outdoor attractions will temporarily close if there’s lightning in the area. Keep in mind: parades and outdoor shows may also be adjusted, delayed, or canceled.
7. Get plenty of sleep.
When you’re tired, it’s easier to get cranky and forget to hydrate and rest.
There you have it: hydrate, rest, and take time to cool off. It’s gonna be hot, but taking good care of yourself will go a long way in helping you have a great time.
*obviously I’m not a medical professional, so seek guidance from yours should you have any concerns
If you’re a person on the internet, chances are you’ve seen lots of chatter regarding D23’s Parks and Resorts panel. Rumors run rampant all year round (vom), but this panel is where the official announcements come from.
Disney Parks Blog has a page of updates and information here, so you’re welcome to hop on over to read the full story. Buuuut I always want to know one thing first: what’s closing. Disney Parks Blog – understandably – tends to bury that information in favor of highlighting the new and exciting. Some of the updates are related to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, too, and may not necessarily be of interest to our WDW visitors. So below, I’ll outline the changes coming to our parks at Walt Disney World.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The Great Movie Ride is closing for good on August 13, 2017. I’ve heard rumors that GMR would be replaced by a Mickey-themed ride for a while, but this one was still the biggest surprise to me. While GMR was definitely dated and in need of an overhaul, it’s a Hollywood Studios icon! It’s also one more attraction that’ll be closed at Hollywood Studios while Star Wars Land (Galaxy’s Edge) and Toy Story Land are completed.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will replace the Great Movie Ride. This will be a “2.5-D” ride based on the new Mickey animated shorts. The description leaves me feeling a little underwhelmed, but I’ll try to reserve judgement until I actually experience it.
Toy Story Land, currently under construction, is set to open in the summer of 2018. Attractions will include the Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers. The concept art gives me Dinorama vibes… I can’t say I’m anxiously awaiting the opening, but I’m sure it’ll be fun.
Star Wars Land, or Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge as it will officially be called (does that sound super Michael Bay-ish, or is it just me?), opens in 2019. Galaxy’s Edge is evidently set in a “remote trading port” which totally screams Hondo to me. The land will offer “two major attractions” – one that involves piloting the Millennium Falcon, and the other “will make you feel like you’re on a destroyer inside a hangar bay” and “is built on a scale we’ve never done before.” The word “immersive” is used a lot, and there’s going to be a cantina. I love Star Wars, so while I’m excited for this one, I’m going in with few expectations.
Mission: SPACE is getting a themed restaurant! This should be fun, as eateries are less abundant in Future World than they are in the World Showcase.
Ellen’s Energy Adventure will close on August 13 and will be replaced by a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction. This has been rumored for years, so I’m surprised it’s actually happening! I was hugely pleasantly surprised by how much I loved both Guardians movies, so I’m excited for this. I’ll miss the dinosaurs and the opportunity to sit in the dark and air conditioning for 40 minutes, but it was time for a change.
The France Pavilion is also getting a Ratatouille-themed attraction that’s similar to the 4D -ride in Paris. Evidently there are food smells, so please pass my Thanksgiving pants.
Both rides are scheduled to open in 2021, in time for WDW’s 50th anniversary. No word on the Mission: SPACE restaurant yet.
Main Street USA is getting a theatre inspired by Kansas City’s Willis Wood theatre. It’s hard to tell by the concept art exactly where this will be, but I’m thinking behind Tony’s-ish.
And the big one: Magic Kingdom is getting a TRON ride similar to (or the same as?) the TRON Lightcycle Power Run from Shanghai Disneyland. Contrary to what many clickbaity headlines shouted last week, this is not replacing the Tomorrowland Speedway. Based on the concept art, it’ll be located behind Space Mountain. Like the new Epcot attractions, this is scheduled to open in 2021 for the 50th anniversary.
WDW is getting a Star Wars-themed resort. Yay, fun! Disney Parks Blog uses that word over and over again: immersive. Apparently it involves a view of space from every room, special attire, and an experience that will “touch every minute of your day.” Well… okay. I’m totally onboard with a Star Wars resort, but I want to be able to see daylight from my room, wear my own damn clothes, and maybe not have an experience “touch 100% of my day.”
There was also talk about the two towers going in at Caribbean Beach Resort. Evidently they’re DVC oriented.
The Skyliner has been confirmed. Gondolas will connect Art of Animation, Pop Century, and Caribbean Beach Resorts, plus Hollywood Studios and Epcot’s International Gateway. I have a hard time imagining how efficient this might be, but I’ll prepare to be pleasantly surprised. I’m still holding my breath for a different route into/out of Magic Kingdom that allows one to skip the ferry or monorail.
WDW is also adding Minnie-themed vehicles to take you anywhere on resort property. I’m envisioning something like a Disney uber.
So there you have it. What do you think? Did any of the news surprise you? What are you most looking forward to?
Why does it feel like just last week that Epcot Flower & Garden Festival was starting and everyone was excited for the debut of Beauty and the Beast?
On Monday, Flower & Garden comes to an end and I still haven’t made it to the theatre for B&TB. 😱
Where does the time go? I’m not ready to say goodbye to Flower and Garden.
This is my favorite festival of the year, so I’ll be braving the Memorial Day crowds to have one more go of taking in the beauty, enjoying my favorite seasonal treats, and attempting to try all the things I haven’t been able to get my hands on.
The Must Have at Least One More Time list:
- Desert Violet Lemonade. Obviously. This Instagram darling is sweet, tart, and fruity. And it’s a slush. Oh yeah. The perfect spring drink. – Pineapple Promenade (near the start of World Showcase, just a bit before Canada)
- Watermelon Salad. I’d buy a whole bucket of this is they’d let me. Peppery arugula, lush, juicy watermelon, tart, creamy feta cheese, the syrupy zing of balsamic glaze, and the astringent sweetness of pink pickled onions. I’m not an onion fan – raw onions especially (they taste like fire), but I loooove these pink pickled onions. – Urban Farm Eats (along the path between the Imagination Pavilion and the World Showcase)
- Candied Strawberries. These are so strange and so delicious! Imagine a skewer of bright, plump strawberries coated in an almost savory sesame-esque brittle candy. – Lotus House (China)
- M.S.G: Mango Wine, Strawberry and Ginger Ale. This was DELICIOUS. If you like peach or lychee (neither of which are in this drink, but, you know), you’ll like this. SO fruity and refreshing! – Lotus House (China)
The Would Really Like to Have at Least One More Time if Life Permits List:
- Nanaimo Bar Trifle. Creamy and comforting, this is like an extra-decadent chocolate and coconut layered pudding. – Northern Bloom (Canada)
- La Vie en Rose Slush. Essentially a strong, exponentially more delicious version of a vodka cranberry with a hint of Saint Germain. The pale pink color is exceedingly pleasing. – Fleur de Lys (France)
- Watermelon Cucumber Slush. Hydrating, summery, and fruity. I’ve had the alcoholic version (gin) twice, once was perfection and the other was stunningly strong. The non-alcoholic version is equally delightful. Sweet, but not too sweet. – Florida Fresh (between France and Morocco)
- Frushi. This fruit sushi is a festival staple! Cute, novel, and tasty. – Hanami (Japan)
- Warm Chocolate Cake with Bourbon-Salted Caramel Sauce and Spiced Pecans. So good! Warm, caramelly, and spicy. – The Smoke House: Barbecue and Brews (US)
- Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapeños. I really liked this one! Mega flavorful and just a teensy bit spicy. I love a good mingle of jalapeño and cheese flavors! – The Smoke House: Barbecue and Brews (US)
The These Sound Really Good and I Want to Try Them Before They’re Gone List:
- Avivé Natural Peach Sparkling Wine – Urban Farm Eats
- Ciderboys Strawberry Magic Hard Strawberry Cider – Cider House (UK)
- Caribe Blood Orange Tropical Hard Cider – Cider House (UK)
- Carne Asada with Black Bean Cake and Cilantro Lime Cream Cheese – Florida Fresh
- Meatball Parmigiana: Hand-made Beef and Veal Meatballs, Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Parmigiana and Fresh Basil – Primavera (Italy)
The Mr. EC’s favorites list:
- Currywurst with Curry Ketchup and Paprika Chips – Bauernmarket (Germany)
- The aforementioned Violet Lemonade
- The aforementioned Nanaimo Bar Trifle
- Beef Tenderloin Tips – Northern Bloom (mentioned below)
And finally, Things I Have Tried:
- Warm Wild Berry Buckle with Pepperberry Sorbet. Nothing at all wrong with this one, but I felt the flavors were much more suited to the holiday season instead of spring. – The Berry Basket
- Spicy Hot Dog with Pineapple Chutney and Plantain Chips. This was unusual and tasty, but the hot dog itself was a bit too spicy for my liking. – Pineapple Promenade
- Beef Tenderloin Tips, Mushroom Bordelaise Sauce, Whipped Potatoes with Garden Vegetables. SUPER flavorful. The beef could’ve been more tender, though. – Northern Bloom (Canada)
There you have it! Will you be visiting Epcot this weekend? Which treats are your favorite, and which would you avoid if given the opportunity to experience again?