Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Each fall, for the past several years Epcot has hosted the International Food and Wine Festival in the World Showcase. While Epcot is well known for its culturally diverse eateries, what makes the International Food and Wine Festival different is that it not only features the 11 countries that make up the World Showcase, but also highlights almost 30 other countries including Greece, Belgium, South Africa, and Australia. During the festival small marketplaces are set up around the World Showcase Lagoon and serve traditional food and wine from the country which they are representing. For example a popular dish at South Africa market is a traditional seared beef filet with smashed sweet potatoes and Braai sauce.

Furthermore, the festival also hosts a numerous amount of other activities, such as culinary demonstrations, wine and beverage seminars, and the Eat to the Beat concert series.

If you ever get the chance I definitely recommend visiting Disney during the International Food and Wine Festival. It is a great way to experience the tastes of many cultures in one place.

Have a magical day!

xoxo – Michaela

See Your Favorite Characters on the Big Stage

The are many opportunities to see your favorite characters in the parks. There are meet and greets and character dining experiences for all guests. Another great way to see your favorite characters is in the many shows and musicals that the parks offer.

Magic Kingdom

1) Mickey’s PhilharMagic – This movie is a great choice for the whole family especially if you want to cool off for while. This 3-D film features Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse and takes you on a fun-filled trip through some of your favorite Disney films such as Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. This film, located in Fantasyland, is about 12 minutes long and runs throughout the day.

2) Dream-Along with Mickey – This show runs throughout the day in front of Cinderella’s Castle. The show celebrates the magic of dreams and is great for younger children. This show also features many characters like Mickey, Minnie, Cinderella, Snow White, Peter Pan, and Captain Hook. Make sure to check your Times Guide to see what times this show will be playing.

3) Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial – Learn how to be a pirate from the one and only Captain Jack Sparrow. This show invites children to take the stage with Captain Jack as he teaches them how to be a pirate. The show runs throughout the day and can be a very memorable experience for young kids. This show is located in Adventureland and runs at numerous times throughout the day.

Captain Jack Sparrow teaches young children how to be a pirate.

Captain Jack Sparrow

4) Monsters, Inc Laugh Floor – This interactive show located in Tomorrowland invites you to help Mike Wazowski power the city of Monstropolis with your laughter. This is a great show for both kids and adults and is sure to make you laugh. The show is about 15 minutes and runs continuously throughout the day.

5) Country Bear Jamboree – This 20 minute show located in Frontierland is a great show if you need to relax for a few minutes. This show features the Country Bears singing some your favorite classic country songs.

Join these singing bears and their friends in the Country Bear Jamboree!

EPCOT

1) Turtle Talk with Crush – This is show is located in the Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion and invites children to have a fun-filled discussion with Crush from Finding Nemo. Because the show revolves around your questions every show is different. Even if you’re traveling without kids this is a great show to sit in on as it is very cute and entertaining. The show is about 15 minutes long and runs throughout the day.

2) Circle of Life – This show features Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa, from The Lion King and teaches children and adults alike about human impacts on the environment. This attraction is located in the The Land Pavilion and is about 20 minutes long, running continuously throughout the day.

Hollywood Studios

1) Fantasmic – Fantasmic is a great way to see many of your favorite characters. This 25-minute fireworks and water show takes you into the imagination of Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This show is only performed on select nights so check your Times Guide to see when it will be playing. Furthermore this show is extremely popular so I recommend getting to the theater, located on Sunset Boulevard, early if you want to find a good seat.

2) Lights, Motor, Action! Extreme Stunt Show – This show is about 30 minutes long and shows you how Hollywood creates its amazing car stunts. This is a fun action packed show that is great for the whole family. Be sure to be on the lookout for Lightening McQueen who likes to make an appearance during this show. This show runs a few times each day at the Backlot so be sure to check your Times Guide to see when it will be playing while you are there.

Cars perform many stunts during this action packed show!

Lights, Motor, Action shows the audience how they safely use fire when making movies.

3) Beauty and the Beast – This Broadway-style show tells the story of the beloved Disney Classic, Beauty and the Beast.  This live show is about 20 minutes long and features your favorite songs from this beloved Disney movie. It usually runs a few times each day so check your Times Guide to see which performance time works best for you. The theater is located on Sunset Boulevard near the Tower of Terror.

4) Disney Junior – Located in the Animation Courtyard, this show is great for young children. The show invites children to jump, dance, and sing along with some of their favorite characters from Disney Junior television shows like Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Little Einsteins, and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Showtimes for this attraction can vary so be sure to check your Times Guide if this is something you want to see.

5) Voyage of the Little Mermaid – One of my favorite shows, the Voyage of the Little Mermaid allows you to relive the Disney Classic through colorful puppets, live performers, special effects and movie clips. The show is about 15 minutes long and runs continuously throughout the day.

6) Star Wars: Jedi Training Academy – Kids ages 4-12 are invited to learn how to use the Force from a Jedi Master. As they train to become Jedi Knights, children will pledge the sacred Jedi-Oath and learn how to use a lightsaber. At the end of this 30 minute show the participating children get to battle Darth Vader. This show runs at various times throughout the day so check your Times Guide to see when it will be running when you are in the park. The show only allows about 15 children to participate during each show, so if you have a child who wants to participate you must get their early and your child will have to wait in line. Cast members entertain children with games while they wait.

Junior Jedi’s learn the art of the lightsaber.

Younger brother John battles Darth Vader!

7) Muppet Vision 3-D – Muppet-Vision 3-D is fun-filled comedy featuring your favorite Muppets including Kermit the Frog and Ms. piggy. This movie is located in the Backlot and has continuous 20 minute showings throughout the day.

Animal Kingdom

1) Festival of the Lion King – The Festival of the Lion King is one my favorite shows in the parks. The show is a high-energy live show featuring your favorite characters from The Lion King. This is a show for the whole family and great show to watch if you need to sit down and cool off. The show is located in an indoor theater in Camp Minnie Mickey and is approximately 30 minutes long. Check your Times Guide to see what times this show will playing at.

Simba greets guests in The Festival of the Lion King

2) Finding Nemo the Musical – Take a trip under the sea and visit Nemo and all of his friends. This performance is approximately 30 minutes long and uses large puppets and catchy songs to help tell the story Finding Nemo. The play is performed in an indoor theater located in Dinoland USA. Check your Times Guide to see what times this musical is showing.

3) It’s Tough to be a Bug – This 3-D movie is located in the Tree of Life and runs continuously throughout the day. The show is approximately 10 minutes long and invites guests to become honorary bugs as Flick and his friends from A Bugs Life show you what its like to be a bug.

Have a Magical Day!

xoxo – Michaela

Finding Princesses in the Parks

In honor of National Princess Week I have decided to dedicate a post on finding your favorite Disney Princesses in the parks. Currently there are 10 official princesses who are part of the Disney Princess line-up and they can be found throughout the parks.While almost all of the princesses can be found in the parades or in shows  here are some of the ways you can meet the princesses in person.

Princess Meet and Greet in Disney World

1) Snow White – Snow White can usually be found in both the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. In the Magic Kingdom she is sometimes found in the Town Square Theater at “Disney’s Storybook Princesses Meet and Greet”. **Fastpass is available for this meet and greet. Snow White is more often found in the Germany Pavilion of EPCOT. She usually makes appearances throughout the day, so I recommend checking the Times Guide to see when she will be around.

2) Cinderella –  Cinderella can usually be found in Town Square Theater at “Disney’s Storybook Princesses Meet and Greet”. There is usually a long line so I recommend getting a fastpass. There are also certain occasions where she can be found around the Castle however this is pretty rare.

3) Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) – Like Cinderella Aurora can usually be found in Town Square Theater at “Disney’s Storybook Princesses Meet and Greet”. She is sometimes found in the France Pavilion in EPCOT. I recommend checking your Times Guide to see if Aurora  will be making an appearance in EPCOT while you are there.

4) Ariel – Ariel can be found at the Magic Kingdom in the Adventureland Veranda. Check your Times Guide to find out what times she will be there on the day of your visit.

5) Belle – Belle is most commonly found in the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. In the Magic Kingdom a good place to find Belle is at Town Square Theater at “Disney’s Storybook Princesses Meet and Greet” with some of the other princesses. In EPCOT she can be found in the France Pavilion.

6) Jasmine – In the Magic Kingdom you can usually find Jasmine by The Magic Carpet’s of Aladdin ride in Adventureland. Also, she can typically found in the Morocco Pavilion in EPCOT. As with all meet and greets check your times guide to see when Jasmine will be making appearances.

7) Pocahontas -Pocahontas is one of the trickier characters to find. She is the only Disney Princess that can be found in Animal Kingdom. She is typically found in the Camp Minnie-Mickey Greeting Trails. However she can sometimes be found in other areas of the park. I highly recommend checking your Times Guide to see when Pocahontas will be making an appearance.

8) Mulan – EPCOT is the place to go if you want to meet Mulan. She is typically found in the China Pavilion.

9) Tiana – Tiana can usually be found in the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square. Check your Times Guide for her specific meet and greet times.

10) Rapunzel -Rapunzel has recently relocated from the Fairytale Garden by the Castle and she can now be found in the Town Square Courtyard. The line to meet Rapunzel tends to get extremely long so I recommend finding out what time she will be making appearances and get there early.

**Please note that  “Disney’s Storybook Princesses Meet and Greet” in Town Square is only a temporary home for the Disney Princesses. Upon completion of the Fantasyland Project they will be relocated to Fanstasyland. Snow White’s Scary Adventure will close and the area will be refurbished into a Princess Meet and Greet.

Dining With the Princesses

If you don’t want to wait in line to meet the princesses, you might want to look into a character dining meal. There are numerous character dining experiences that feature Disney’s leading ladies.

1) 1900 Park Fare – Located in the Grand Floridian this restaurant offers buffet style, American dining. The restaurant hosts Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner, where you can meet Cinderella, Prince Charming and other characters from beloved classic. This is a great option if you want to meet characters that are not typically found in the parks like Cinderella’s step-sisters. (Note that this restaurant offers character dining for other meals but they are not dining experiences with any of the princesses).

2) Akershus Royal Banquet Hall – Located in EPCOT’s Norway the Royal Banquet Hall is a great way to meet many of the princesses. Breakfast consists of American favorites. Lunch and dinner features a Norwegian buffet of cold dishes with hot entrees available à la carte.

3) Cinderella’s Royal Table – This restaurant is located inside Cinderella’s Castle and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Numerous Princess’s come to greet you as you dine on American favorites.

* All three of these restaurants are typically busy and it is unlikely that you will be able to be seated without an Advance Dining Reservation.

Have a magical day!

xoxo – Michaela

Disney for Teens

Many people think that Disney is a place for only young children but that would be a false statement. Disney can be fun for people of all ages including teens. As a teenager myself I enjoy going to Disney just as much as I did when I was younger. Despite the fact that the parks have not changed much since I was younger I still end up enjoying myself just as much as or even more than my previous trips. Many times when you visit the park as a youngster you’ll be excited and overwhelmed by everything that’s going on around you and you fail to realize how much detail Disney puts into all its rides and attractions. When I got a little I began to realize this and it only made me appreciate Disney more. Furthermore Disney has rides and attractions that are great for teens. Disney is definitely a place that a teen can enjoy visiting with friends. In fact one of my most memorable trips to Disney was with my a few of my friends. I’m all for going to Disney with your family but experiencing the park with some of your close friends can be a new and fun experience too.

Teens at Disney:

Rides: There are many great rides that are appropriate for teens. Some of my favorites include Splash Mountain, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, Test Track, Expedition Everest, Tower of Terror, and Space Mountain.

World Showcase: Personally walking around the World Showcase in EPCOT is one of my favorite things to do in Disney. Disney does a great job of immersing you in different cultures and for teens (or any other people) who aren’t big on rides, walking around the World Showcase can be a great option. There are many different restaurants, shops and attractions that represent the culture of 11 different countries.

Downtown Disney: Downtown Disney is a great option for teens who want to have a fun easy-going night without having to be in the parks. Downtown Disney has a great shopping district with a large variety of shops that will appeal to teenagers. Furthermore there are numerous restaurants and giant movie theater. Overall I think that Downtown Disney is a great place for teens to visit.

Blizzard Beach/Typhoon Lagoon: While both of Disney’s water parks are great for people of all ages, teens are sure to have a fun time. Blizzard Beach hosts a 12 story water slide the ‘Summit Plummet’ while Typhoon Lagoon boasts a giant surf pool with waves up to 6 ft high. Both parks are a great place to cool off on a hot day.

Have a magical day!

xoxo -Michaela

From Secret Agent to Under-the-Sea Adventures: Fun Special Experiences in Epcot

Epcot is my favorite park because there are so many things to explore! The list below compiles only a few of my favorite special experiences in Epcot.

1. Turtle Talk with Crush, located in The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion, is a wonderful interactive experience for young children. As an adult, I marvel over the technology needed to make this attraction possible! Young children are invited to sit on a special patch of carpet in the front of the room while benches are available for older visitors to watch. There is a large screen in the front of the room, depicting an underwater scene. Crush, the sea turtle from Finding Nemo, appears onscreen and begins to interact with the kids. Crush is able to answer specific questions from the children and even makes jokes about things that are happening in the room! This attraction is both a novelty experience for children and a technological masterpiece!
2. IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth is the nighttime fireworks show located in the center of the lake. To see more about this experience, see the previous post “Nighttime Shows!”
3. Disney’s Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure is a wonderful, interactive experience for kids and adults alike! To become a secret agent, just find one of many stands located throughout the park. The assistants at these stations will scan your park ticket and give you a ‘Kimmunicator” (a cellphone-like device) which will guide you through your mission. There are several different missions located in different countries. I, personally, have completed the mission in China, England, and France. Following the instructions given, you search through the given country to find specific objects or locations within the showcase. Once you have completed your task, point the Kimmunicator at the object and press the button. Something spectacular will happen! Sometimes hidden screens appear or special objects are dispensed, and sometimes the exhibits even move or make noise! Once you have completed all of your tasks, you are sent to the final mission in which the villain is caught. This mission usually has the most dramatic event occur when you activate the location. You can end your mission at any time or, if you need help, hints are available on the Kimmunicator! This is great for children ages 6 – 12 and, of course, for the young at heart!
4. British Revolution is a great rock group located near the maze in the United Kingdom Pavilion. They are a very talented band that plays classic rock music. This is a fun show to see when need a break from walking around. Kids love this! Whenever I see them perform, there are always kids dancing and singing excitedly in front of the stage.    
5. Club Cool, located in Future World, is one of the best secrets of the park. Inside this Coca-Cola store, there are several soda dispensers with eight different sodas. These sodas are all from different countries, including Mozambique, Costa Rica, China, Mexico, Israel, Japan, Germany, and Italy. The watermelon soda from China is delicious, but beware of the non-alcoholic beer from Italy. This soda is all free, so I like to come here in the middle of the day to hydrate instead of spending money on an overpriced soda elsewhere in the park.

6. Miyuki is one of the few people trained in traditional candy sculpting in the world! She does shows several times a day in Japan. Watching her work is incredible! She starts with a soft ball of taffy like candy and slowly adds colors and molds the candy until it looks exactly like a type of animal! She takes requests from audience members so be prepared to shout out your favorite animal.

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7. Voices of Liberty is a world-renowned a cappella group that performs in the American Pavilion. They have performed in many prestigious places, including the White House! This is a great option for the adults. They are truly amazing!

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8. The fountain show in Future World is an often overlooked feature of the park. The fountain ‘dances’ to majestic tunes, creating a spectacle of water and sound. Bonus! When it’s hot outside, there will be a refreshing spray of water around the fountain. While many children will be bored by this, this is a great option for adults. The show begins at seemingly random times, so I never specifically plan to stop, but if the show begins as I am passing the fountain, I take it as I sign that I should rest my legs!

I hoped these tips helped! Let me know if you have more questions! Have a magical day! ❤ Jessica

Eating Around the World: The Best Restaurants in Epcot

Epcot is the best park to eat in as you have a wide variety of foods to choose from. On my last visit, I attempted to “eat my way around the countries” and, over the five days I was there, I succeeded! There is so much good food available, it is difficult to choose! Hopefully these suggestions will help you decide where you should eat.

1. Epcot offers two restaurants for Character Dining: Akershush Royal Banquet Hall and The Garden Grill Restaurant. Like all character dining options, these are slightly more pricey than regular restaurants. It is up to you to decide whether the experience is worth it. The Garden Grill, located in The Land Pavilion, is a slowly spinning restaurant. Your food is served family style as you are visited by characters such as Chip and Dale. In the Akershush Royal Banquet Hall, located in Norway, you are able to interact with your favorite storybook princesses.

2. My favorite restaurant in Epcot is La Cantina de San Angel. This outdoor restaurant is located right outside of the Mexico Pavilion. This is a great quick lunch option. My favorite menu item is the cheese empanadas with tortilla chips and salsa verde. While the food is delicious, it might not be appropriate for picky eaters. There is usually ample seating available outside where you are able to overlook the lake and the World Showcase…it’s a great view! If all the seats outside are filled or the weather is uncomfortable, continue into the outdoor seating and look to your left. There should be a door marked “Additional Seating Inside.” There is a huge room inside with lots of extra seating. Most of the time, there is no one inside so it is a nice, quiet place to eat! There are huge windows overlooking the lake, so the view is not obstructed.

3. For a more upscale dining experience, try the Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room in England. This restaurant provides an authentic and delicious British dining experience. However, check the menu before arriving if you have picky eaters. My favorite item on the menu is the cheese sampler. There are three different types of cheese with pairings such as onions, nuts, cranberries, and bread. It is delicious! This restaurant is also known for its delicious fish and chips. They are so popular that they opened a stand right outside the restaurant that sells them as well. This is a great alternative if you do not have time to sit. I recommend getting a reservation before attending as this is a very popular restaurant.

4. Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe, located in Norway, is a wonderful lunch or snack option. The line is usually very short. You can purchase delicious sandwiches, but I always buy a Norwegian dessert. They have so many options and they are all delicious! My favorite is school bread, which is a sweet bread filled with cream and topped with powdered sugar. I would recommend sharing these desserts with a friend as they are on the larger side. There is a covered seating area immediately as you exit the restaurant that is nice and cool and usually has a table free.

I hope you enjoyed my recommendations. As always, let me know if you have any questions about any other dining options! Have a magical day! ❤ Jessica

Soarin’ through Epcot: My Favorite Rides

While the Magic Kingdom will always hold a special place in my heart, Epcot is my favorite of the four theme parks. I can spend hours walking (and eating!) through the World Showcase. Also, Epcot is home to my favorite ride in the entire park: Soarin’!

1. Soarin’ is a flight simulator located in The Land Pavilion. This is one of the most popular rides in Disney World…during the day the wait times can be over two hours! When riding Soarin’, I have a strategy. I like to get to Epcot as soon as the park opens (be careful as the World Showcase opens at a different time as the rest of the park) and immediately rush to Soarin’. This involves lots of pushing through the crowds, so make sure you know exactly where you are going. If you get lost on the way to the ride, you lose the advantage and will probably have to wait for a long period of time. When you arrive at the ride, the line for the ride itself and the line for the fastpasses are equal. I like to ride Soarin’ first (wait is usually approximately 20 minutes if you get there immediately) and get the fastpass upon exiting the ride (it will be deserted). This allows you to ride Soarin’ twice in one day with minimal wait time! If you are prone to motion sickness, do not ride this attraction! You sit in a row of chairs (make sure to securely button your seatbelt, stow away all carry-ons, and leave flip-flops on the floor) and are lifted up 40 feet in the air. The sensation of being lifted is more intense if you are in the front row of chairs. (Also, if you are in the front row, you are the highest row and you don’t have other people’s feet dangling in front of you.) Once you have been lifted in the air, you will fly over famous sites of California, including the ocean, a snow-covered mountain, and Disneyland! You will be able to feel the wind rushing, truly creating the sensation of flight. Also, you will experience the smells of pine trees and oranges as you travel through California.

2. Test Track, located in the Test Track Pavilion, is the fastest ride in Disney World, traveling at 60 mph. The wait for this ride can be long, so either plan to get a fastpass or ride single-rider. The single-rider line moves faster, but you are unable to sit with anyone in your party. The wait for this ride is very interesting as it displays cars going through various stages of testing. In the ride, you are a test crash dummy going through various dangerous scenarios. You go through bumpy terrain, test brakes (with and without ABS), go through environmental chambers, make sharp turns, and, finally, speed up to 60 mph! This ride has no drops; the sole thrill is the speed. This is a very fun ride and is appropriate for both thrill seekers and coaster-phobics!

3. The Seas with Nemo and Friends is a great ride for small children and the young at heart. On this ride, you travel in slow-moving oyster shells as you join Dory and Marlin on their quest to find Nemo. You are able to see into various aquariums and the characters are projected into the tanks along with the real fish! Young children will be delighted! When exiting the ride, be sure to check out the rest of the pavilion. There are many fun things to explore, including a dolphin show and many aquariums with exotic fish.

I hope you find these tips helpful! Have a magical day! ❤ Jessica