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

What to Wear to Disney World

When visiting Walt Disney World or Disneyland, it is important to dress comfortably. After all, odds are that you will be on your feet for several hours during the day, often carrying purchases or other items. Also, during the summer, the heat can be overwhelming. It is important to dress comfortably and practically. Although it can be tempting to wear a cute outfit that looks good in pictures, I can guarantee that you will regret that choice after a few hours in the parks.

What to Wear to Disney during the Winter

This look above is a perfect outfit to wear when visiting Disney World during late fall or winter. Although it varies depending on the year, the weather in Florida is pretty mild during the winter. Last year, I vacationed at Disney World during the Christmas season. I wore an outfit similar to the one shown above every day and I was very comfortable. Because the temperature may change depending on the time of day, it is important to wear light layers. While, during the day, the temperature is usually in the high 60’s or 70’s, it can drop to the 50’s or even lower during the evening. I like to bring a light jacket or sweater that is easy to roll up and stuff in a bag. If you choose to bring a bulky jacket, it can be difficult to store it during the day. Although many people do wear shorts during the winter, I feel very comfortable in jeans both during the day and night. I like to wear a light tank top or t-shirt during the day in case of warmer weather. Like always, it is important to wear comfortable shoes! Do not wear shoes that you have not broken in yet. Also, it can be nice to insert shoe pads into the soles of your tennis shoes to provide extra support and comfort. This backpack is a perfect example of a bag to bring to Disney World. I personally like to use a small backpack, as it evenly distributes the weight among both shoulders. However, I have also used across-the-body bags and those work well too, but generally don’t have a lot of room for storage. I like to bring sunscreen, a water bottle, a few protein bars, a jacket, and bandaids with me in the park along with a camera, phone, and wallet. You need a fairly roomy bag to accommodate for all of those items, yet you still want it to be small enough so that it doesn’t get too heavy.
What to Wear to Disney during the Summer
The outfit above is a great example of what to wear to Disney World during the summer months. Especially in June, July, and August it can get incredibly hot during the day! The heat wears you out, so it is important to wear breathable clothing to cool you off. This backpack, like the one shown above, is a small, open bag that will be perfect to store extra water bottles to keep cool and hydrated. Also, this tank top is loose and breathable, perfect for a hot summer day. I wouldn’t recommend wearing anything other than shorts to Disney during the summer. It’s just too hot to wear long pants! Although I often wear comfortable sneakers in the parks, I like to wear flip flops during the summer. However, it is important to find flip flops that are made of a soft material with wide straps. Otherwise, small, thin straps tend to cut into the skin after walking all day and can be very uncomfortable. Although it is sometimes nice to have a light jacket at night, I usually don’t bring one with me during the summer time. It generally does not get cold enough so that it would be necessary.
I hope that you found the above article helpful! Have a magical day! ❤ Jessica

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

Walt Disney + George Lucas = Disney’s Magical Star Wars Weekend

Walt Disney + George Lucas = Disney’s Magical Star Wars Weekend

Walt Disney + George Lucas = Disney's Magical Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend is taking place right now in Disney World! During this spectacular event, you can get an autograph from one of your favorite Star Wars characters, learn how to be a Jedi, and party at a fun, Star Wars themed event! To get specific details about the event, check out the Disney website: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/hollywood-studios/special-events/star-wars-weekend/

To experience Star Wars fun any time of the year, be sure to ride Star Tours! In this 3-D simulation ride, you fly through the galaxy as you try to keep the rebel spy housed in your ship safe so that you can defeat Darth Vader! Also, the Jedi Training Academy is a regular experience in Hollywood Studios. Taking place on the left side of Star Tours, kids ages 4-12 can take part in a 30-minute training session with Jedi Masters. Also, Princess Leia can sometimes be seen outside Tatooine Traders. Make sure you get a picture with her! For more information about Hollywood Studios, check out our previous posts: “You’re a Star: Experiencing Hollywood Studios” and “Lights, Camera, Action: Special Experiences in Hollywood Studios”. May the force be with you! ❤ Jessica

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If you are planning a Disney vacation in the near future, be sure to check out these tips that will help you plan your Epcot visit! Please comment on the post if you have any questions or any topic requests for future blog posts.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Disney

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…

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Check out the new changes to the fast pass system!

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Disney

For the milestone first blog post, I thought that it would be beneficial to provide a quick overview of how to navigate Walt Disney World efficiently. These tips will make your experience more enjoyable and can save you hours of wait time!

1. If possible, you should always stay in a Disney World Resort hotel. Not only are the themes of each resort fun and kid-friendly, but the prices are reasonable and resorts are conveniently located to the four main sections of the park. If you stay at a Disney Resort, you are able to attend the parks during “Extra Magic Hours.” In these special times, always before the park opens or after the parks closes for regular visitors, only the residents of the Disney Hotels are allowed in the park. This eliminates the overwhelming crowds and allows you to enjoy the park sans unbearable wait times.

2. Always…

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Fantasmic! Part 1

Fantasmic!, located in Hollywood Studios, is an exciting nighttime show that is fun for visitors of all ages! Experience pyrotechnics, fountains, acrobatics, scenes from your favorite Disney movies, and all of your favorite Disney characters as you help Mickey overcome the forces of evil and restore magic to the kingdom!

Make Your Memories: Photo Opportunities in the Parks

One of the best things about a Disney vacation is that you get to make memories with your friends or family that will last a lifetime! To preserve these memories, make sure you take pictures to capture the fun times you had in the parks. In this post, I will name a few of my favorite spots in the Magic Kingdom and Epcot to create a memorable family picture and to make a memory of the Disney magic!

Magic Kingdom

  • As you approach Cinderella’s castle from behind, take a path to the right. You will find Cinderella’s fountain, a beautiful spot for a photo opportunity! The fountain includes a bronze-like sculpture of Cinderella holding a bird. If you move directly in front of the statue, crouch down a little bit and look up, you will see a crown on Cinderella’s head! At any other angle, the crown is simply part of decorative painting behind the sculpture, but at the right angle, Cinderella becomes a princess!
  • Are you the next great ruler? Find out by trying the Sword in the Stone in Fantasyland outside the carousel. This photo opportunity appeals to boys as well as girls, something that can be difficult to find in the land of Cinderella’s Castle! For more boy-friendly photo spots, check out Tomorrowland or Frontierland!
  • When you approach the castle from the front of the park, you will see a small bridge on your left side that leads to the entrance of Adventureland. Midway through this bridge, you will have a beautiful, unimpeded view of the castle that is perfect for pictures! You will not have to worry about the stage or other visitors disrupting the view! This is particularly beautiful at night when the castle is changing colors.

Epcot

  • Near the Italy Pavilion, there is a small, curved bridge on the path between the pavilions and the lake. If you stand on this bridge, you can get a great picture of your family with the World Showcase in the background!
  • If you enter the Mexico Pavilion, you will find a stall in the ‘street’ that sells large, colorful sombreros. If you put these on, this makes for a fun, goofy, family photo!
  • Keeping with the hat theme, if you stand in front of the arch in the China Pavilion, you will see a stall that sells the conical Asian hats. You can put these on and stand in front of the large arch for a great family photo that demonstrates the change in traditions throughout the countries when compared to the photo from Mexico.

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  • In both the England and Canada Pavilions, you can find the red phone booths that are traditional props in the pictures of world travelers! These phone booths are actually functional and one of them even holds a secret clue in the Kim Possible Adventure!

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  • In Morocco, there is a beautiful fountain in front of the pavilion. I like to sit on the fountain to take a great group photo! Also, the orange flowers in this pavilion smell great!

Of course, these are only a few of the very many wonderful photo opportunities in Disney World! It is such a magical place, every moment captured is a beautiful memory! To check out the places where you can get pictures with your favorite characters, read our previous post. Keep reading to find out more of my favorite photo spots in the rest of the parks. What are some of your favorite photo spots? Have a magical day! ❤ Jessica

Mickey Waffles: Magical Cuisine

Mickey waffles are one of my favorite foods offered in Disney World. They can be purchased at all of the Disney Resorts and at most restaurants in the parks that serve breakfast. They come with either bacon or strawberry preserves, but I usually forgo both for extra syrup and butter! Mickey waffles are both a great start to a day in the parks and a way to bring the magic of Disney into your home!

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Whenever I miss Disney World, nothing cheers me up like making a batch of Mickey waffles! Michaela and I own a Disney character waffle iron which makes six mini waffles in the shapes of Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, Pluto, and Goofy. We make them several times a week! They’re delicious!

What do you do to bring Disney magic into your home? Have a magical day! ❤ Jessica

11 Countries, 1 Park

One of the reasons I love Epcot is because of the World Showcase. The World Showcase is a showcase of 11 of the various cultures, cuisine, and histories of some of the globe’s many nations. Walking through the different pavilions is a great way for families young and old to experience and learn about the many nations and cultures of the world. Each pavilion has different options for dining and shopping as well as attractions that are both entertaining and informative.

Mexico – The Mexico Pavilion offers two different dining experiences. The San Angel Inn is located inside the pavilion’s Aztec temple and offers traditional Mexican cuisine for both lunch and dinner. La Hacienda de San Angel is located across from the Aztec temple and offers zesty Mexican meals. The restaurant is open for dinner and offers great views of the World Showcase Lagoon. If Mexican food is not your favorite the Mexico Pavilion itself is not to be missed. Step inside the Aztec temple a discover authentic Mexican goods such as pottery, baskets, jewelry, and more. Don’t forget to visit Donald and his friends on the Gran Fiesta Tour. This relaxing boat ride attraction takes you on a trip with Donald as he explores the different parts of Mexico. Art enthusiasts should check out the Mexican Folk Art Gallery to view beautiful Mexican woodcarvings and bright artwork.

Norway – The Norway Pavilion is one of my favorites. Make sure to take a ride  Maelstrom, a boat ride into the history and legends of Norway. Norway is also home to Akershus, a royal banquet hall that  features character dining with some of the Disney princesses. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and offers a taste of Norway with dishes that are sure to satisfy the whole family. This is a very popular restaurant so I recommend getting and advanced dining reservation if you want to eat here. If all you need is a quick snack stop by the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe which serves coffee and a variety of pastries. Visit the Stave Church to view collection of authentic Norse weapons and artifacts. The Norway pavilion also features an array of shops that highlight Norway’s unique culture.

China – The China Pavilion offers a glimpse into one of the world’s oldest civilizations. Reflections of  China is a short film presented in circle-vision 360 that takes you on a journey to some of China’s most notable landmarks such as the Great Wall. Visit the pavilions art gallery where some of China’s great artistic achievements are available for viewing. The Nine Dragons Restaurant offers a variety of Chinese dishes including noodles and specialty seafood meals for both lunch and dinner. The Lotus Blossom Cafe is a quick service meal option that focuses on Asian dishes. Like all of the nations represented in the World Showcase, China has numerous shops selling authentic Chinese goods.

Germany – The Germany Pavilion is home to one of my favorite restaurants: the Biergarten. At the Biergarten you will dine on traditional German dishes such as different sausages and spaetzle while musicians provide traditional Oktoberfest entertainment throughout lunch and dinner. Sommerfest is a quick service option in the pavilion that offers well-known German dishes like bratwurst. Don’t forget to look through some of the shops in the pavilion. For a quick treat I recommend getting some caramel from Werther’s Karamell Küche!

Italy – The Italy Pavilion is a beautiful pavilion with architecture reminiscent of the city of Venice. The Italy Pavilion offers two sit-down restaurants. Via Napoli celebrates the fine dining of Southern Italy, serving authentic  Neapolitan pizzas and delicious pastas. Tutto Italia Ristorante offers traditional Italian meals featuring handmade mozzarella and pasta. Take a walk around the pavilion and  indulge yourself in some Italian candies! Throughout the day musicians, clowns, and acting troupes perform in the Piazza.

America – The American pavilion allows you to take a glimpse into our nation’s rich history as it immerses you into a colonial-like environment. The American Adventure takes you on a trip through the history of America using patriotic music and audio-animatronics. Be sure to see to the Voices of Liberty or the Fife and Drum Corps to listen to classic American tunes. The Liberty Inn Restaurant is a quick service dining restaurant that serves American favorites such as hamburgers and hot dogs. The America Garden Theater features different live shows and musical performances throughout the year so be sure to check your times guide to see if anything is playing while you are there.

Japan – In the Japan Pavilion you can take a stroll through a traditional Japanese garden featuring a beautiful array of ponds, trees, and shrubbery. The Japan Pavilion is also home to Teppan Edo, a restaurant in which Japanese chefs cook your meal right in front of you!  Tokyo Dining is another dining option that serves traditional Japanese dishes. Both of these restaurants are open for lunch and dinner. Throughout the day Miyuki, a Japanese candy maker, entertains those young and old as she makes traditional Japanese candy in front of you. Art lovers should check out the Bijutsu-kan Gallery for a glimpse into Japanese art.

Morocco – In Morocco Pavilion you can eat at Restaurant Marrakesh, which offers some delicious traditional meals from North Africa for lunch and dinner. Throughout the day Mo’Rockin, a six person musical group, blends music from across the globe for a fun-filled show that will delight the whole family. Be sure to check out the shops of this pavilion for authentic goods such as woven belts and brass pots.

France – My favorite pavilion in World Showcase places you on the streets of Paris, with a view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. There are two sit down restaurants in the pavilion. The first Les Chefs de France, open for lunch and dinner is a casual brasserie featuring French favorites. The second restaurant Bistro de Paris is slightly more upscale and is open for dinner only. It features traditional French meals and wines. This restaurant tends to be very popular so it is recommended that you try to get an advanced dining reservation. One of my favorite things to do in the France pavilion is stop by the bakery and pick up some bread and cheese for a quick lunch. Don’t forget to check out the French market for goods such as wine, soaps, and cosmetics.

United Kingdom – In the United Kingdom you can dine on English favorites at The Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room. There is also a quick service dining place across the street that serves typical English food such as fish and chips. Also be sure to check out the World Showcase Players, a hilarious improv  group who perform throughout the day. Check your times guide to find out when they will be performing. There are also quite a few shops that sell merchandise ranging from British teas to athletic gear.

Canada – In the Canada Pavilion take a  journey into this country in O Canada!, a film presented in circle-vision 360. Le Cellier Steakhouse is a popular dining option for many. Open for lunch and dinner the restaurant focuses on the cuisine of the different provinces of Canada. This restaurant is extremely popular so I highly recommend getting and advanced dining reservation if you wish to eat here.

Tips for Navigating the World Showcase:

1) Be aware that the World Showcase tends to open later than the rest of the park. So check out the other great parts of EPCOT before heading over to the Showcase.

2) If you have young children and are thinking of skipping the showcase for fear that they will not appreciate it, fear not. In each nation there is a Kidcot Fun Stop. These areas target young children allowing them to interact with cast members from other countries and do crafts that represent the culture of each country.

3)Another great option for kids is the Kim Possible Spy Game, which is soon going to be converted to feature Agent P (Perry), from Phineas and Ferb, instead of Kim Possible. This interactive game gives kids which allows them to travel to each pavilion and help  solve a mystery.

4) If this is your first time visiting Disney and you have young children, Epcot and the World Showcase is a great park to start at because the park is pretty laid back. Furthermore some young children might feel that Epcot is a step down after experiencing the Magic Kingdom. However this is just a suggestion.

5) The World Showcase is a great way to meet Disney characters. Check your times guide to see which characters will be making appearances in each country.

6) Don’t rush through the nations! Stop and take a look around you. Each nation has beautiful buildings that represent the architecture found in each country. Try and appreciate the little things that Disney does to make you feel like you are really walking through the streets of Paris or strolling through a Japanese Garden.

Hope this has helped you become more aware of the different and exciting things to do in Epcot’s World Showcase

Have a magical day!

xoxo – Michaela