Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival Turns 21

Ugh!  I think my countdown calendar is broken.  I’m so excited about our upcoming trip to Walt Disney World in October for Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, the days are passing unbelievably slowly and vacation seems much too far away.  We’ve been looking forward to this particular trip since we started planning it in 2014.  Remember when Raymond and I went to Disney World during Food & Wine to celebrate our 25th anniversary?  That was our first experience visiting during the festival and we not only had an amazing time, we knew it was something Joseph would absolutely love…once he turned 21.  Well this is the year – Joseph and the Food & Wine Festival both celebrate the same milestone in 2016.Epcot-International-Food-and-Wine-Festival

Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival Turns 21

62 days long this year, Food & Wine is a great place to sample new flavors and enjoy World Showcase in a different way.  The fall weather in Orlando is incredible with less humidity and rain than during the summer months.  We’ll be visiting for 7 days and as is my habit, I’ve been obsessed with planning just the right amount of activities, time in each park, free time, special meals…you get the idea.  I may have gone overboard with the ADRs (advance dining reservations), but I have plenty of time to tweak the plan when we make our FastPass selections 60 days from our trip.  I’m anxiously awaiting more festival details so I can better plan our time in Epcot.  In 2014 Raymond and I found that scattering our Epcot visits liberally throughout our vacation allowed us to sample plenty of flavors and take in a couple of special events.RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Landscape

I’ll tell you what I’ve got planned now.  I know you’re going to be shocked that we’re passing on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but four of the seven in our travel party have attended the party fairly recently and the other three are not all that excited about going.  Best to use that time and money elsewhere on this visit, I think.  Here are the plans – if you’d be so kind, please leave me a comment and let me know what you’d change (add, delete, move, etc.).RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Landscape2

Saturday – Arrival Day at Epcot – All veteran Food & Wine visitors will tell you to keep away from the festival on the weekend, but I’m bucking common sense here because I want everyone to see what a crazy Saturday night looks like in Epcot during this most unusual time of the year.  The only time that surpasses a Saturday night in Epcot during Food & Wine is World Showcase on New Year’s Eve (and we’ve seen that too!).  So basically, we’ll hit Epcot by early afternoon with whatever FastPasses I can score 60 days out, make our way slowly through the masses in World Showcase and arrive at 8:00 pm for our Via Napoli ADR.  I took suggestions from my friends on Twitter and Via Napoli was highly recommended as a crowd pleaser that won’t cost too much.  We plan to share appetizers and pizzas and call it a day.RM-Spaceship-Earth

Sunday – Magic Kingdom all day.  We’ll want to get an early start and fit in as many attractions as possible.  We do have a late lunch reservation at the Skipper Canteen, but depending on FastPass availability, it’s probably the most likely ADR to be cancelled.  Since the park closes early for Mickey’s Not So Scary, I thought this would be a great day to visit the Polynesian for drinks and dinner.  Hopefully, Trader Sam’s won’t be too crowded.  We have a dinner reservation for ‘Ohana and I’m looking forward to a relaxing evening where we can turn in early and get a jump start on Monday!Tower-of-Terror

Monday – Disney’s Hollywood Studios through lunch, Epcot in the afternoon.  Megan and Grant had a great experience at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater on their honeymoon last year, so we thought we’d give it whirl!  I can’t believe we’ve never tried it before and am excited about the experience.  After lunch, it’s on to Epcot with absolutely no other plans for the day.  The rationale here is that Epcot will be uncrowded and we can take it easy and soak up all that the Food & Wine Festival has to offer.Animal Kingdom-Entrance

Tuesday – Animal Kingdom all day.  I’m disappointed that Animal Kingdom’s posted park hours show a closing time of 5:00 pm and sincerely hope this changes!  We have an early breakfast at Tusker House (a first for us) and another reservation for very early dinner at the brand new Tiffins (4:30 pm).  If the park hours change and evening activities are a go, I plan to try to call and change our breakfast to a dining package for whatever show (Jungle Book or Rivers of Light) might be showing.  If you’ve heard anything about fall hours or evening events, please let me know.Disney's-Hollywood-Studios

Wednesday – Disney’s Hollywood Studios early and briefly then Epcot for lunch before Disney Springs for the late afternoon/evening.  This sounds like a lot of hopping, but I’m thinking that if we rope-drop the Studios and hit four attractions (Tower of Terror, Rock’n’ Roller Coaster, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Star Tours), we’ll be finished in two hours or less.  The food booths in Epcot will make a great lunch activity and we can take our time getting to Disney Springs by around 4:00 pm.  We have a reservation at Raglan Road for 7:00 and would like to shop a little and visit Jock Lindsey’s before dinner.  After dinner, we may even have time to hit Magic Kingdom for a couple of hours.Jock-Lindsey's-Sign

Thursday – Magic Kingdom until lunch then to Epcot for the afternoon.  I’m excited about our lunch reservation at Whispering Canyon Café!  That nice little boat ride from Magic Kingdom to Wilderness Lodge for some great food is a wonderful break from park touring.  Dinner will be at Shula’s Steak House (at the Dolphin) that evening and we can easily walk there from Epcot.RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Menu-Boeuf-Bourguignon

Friday – Animal Kingdom in the morning before hopping to Epcot for more food booth action.  If I can, I’ll book Epcot fastpasses for late afternoon.  We can walk from Epcot to our farewell dinner at Il Mulino in the Swan.  I’m exhausted already and all I’ve done is type these plans!

Okay – I need you!  What would you change?  Have I allowed enough time at Epcot?  What about the other parks?  If I need to cancel some ADRs, which should be the first to go?Megan (5) and Joseph (4 months)

On a side note:  Today is actually Joseph’s 21st birthday.  I’d like to say…Happy Birthday to my favorite son – I admire your thirst for knowledge and your love of puns.  I am amazed every single day at the incredible man you’ve become and I adore the way you’re true to yourself always.  I love your gentlemanly manners and your love of everything old…especially your parents.  I love you, Sonny Boy.  Don’t ever change.Joe-Formal-Night-Dinner

Mickey Mouse Disney Dollars

Happy Saturday, Disney Friends!  Continuing with last week’s theme – let’s look back in history and reminisce about the heyday of the Disney Dollar!  I remember having a few of these around when the kids were little, but at the time they *gasp* struck me as inconvenient since I had to keep up with them between visits to Walt Disney World or a Disney Store.  I can’t even remember how we got them to begin with, but I would love to have them back now!  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Mickey Mouse Disney Dollars

By Nick

87 years ago, “Steamboat Willie” was released, making a star out of Mickey Mouse.
7 years ago, Disney released these Disney Dollars to celebrate Mickey’s 80th Anniversary.

The one dollar bill features the “pie-eyed” Mickey of the early 1930′s.

1928-2008, Mickey Mouse, Eightieth Anniversary.

The back of each bill features a nice illustration of Mickey’s evolution through his 80 years.

The five features Mickey as the Mickey Mouse Club Bandleader, from the mid 1950′s.

 The ten features the modern, computer generated Mickey Mouse.

 Happy 87th to the Big Cheese! (Mickey will turn 88 on November 18, 2016)

Now that Disney Dollars have been discontinued, I wonder what commemorative merchandise will be released for Mickey’s next big milestone birthday?  Have you still got any Disney Dollars at home?  Are you planning to keep them now or go ahead and spend them?

To read more about Nick’s amazing Disney collectibles and his many Disney adventures, visit the Disney Musings Blog (where this article first appeared).  You can follow Nick on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Pinterest.  You can also listen to Nick, our friend Dave, and me on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we talk about our love for all things Disney – new episodes every Sunday morning.


5 Types of Disney World Moms

Tomorrowland-CrowdsPeople-watching is one of the activities I enjoy most at Walt Disney World.  What a gathering place for the diversity that is the human population!  All ages of folks from all over the world – all in one place where I can surreptitiously study them at will.  A while back I talked about the different Disney Dads I see on vacation.  Today it’s time for me to share some observations about the other half of the parenting pair.

5 Types of Disney World Moms

Crafty Mom – This one’s easy to spot!  I like to imagine the Pinterest boards she’s accumulated prepping for the big family Disney trip.  This mom’s family has matching tee-shirts or a coordinated Disney Bounding theme going on.  Sometimes there are crafty visors, unique Earhats, homemade autograph books and little cloth backpacks.  This mom is amazing!  Her energy and attention to detail are enviable and those post-vacation scrapbooks will be absolutely fantastic!  Deep down inside, I want to be this mom, but don’t have the patience it takes to complete all the projects.  Or even one.Walt Disney World Summer Crowd

Super Mom – This is the mom who absolutely beams at her children’s happiness.  She might like Disney in her own way, but positively loves the joy it brings her offspring.  Super Mom eats on the run (usually leftovers from kids’ meals) and has mastered the art of multi-tasking.  She’s there to catch the ice cream drips, hand out snacks, carry a giant backpack of supplies, and answer 347,639 questions with the patience of a saint.  She derives fun from watching her kids have fun.  There to make sure her family is comfortable and having the time of their lives, she’s in her element when she’s doing things for others.   I don’t know how she does it, but Super Mom doesn’t even appear to sweat in the Florida heat.  (Now, that would be a super power I could use!)  My favorite Super Moms are the ones who are clearly adored and appreciated by their husband and children.RM-Fantasyland-Crowd

Sporty Mom – Sporty mom is fit and athletic.  She and her kids love runDisney events and Sporty Mom can be spotted by her attire – she’ll be wearing an event shirt from a past race.  Sporty mom enjoys the resorts with exercise rooms and running trails best because every day begins with a good workout.  This mom serves and eats healthy food at home, but will splurge on a Disney vacation, knowing exactly how many steps she’s taken and how many calories have been burned.Princess Half Fantasyland

Frazzled Mom – I always feel slightly sorry for this mom.  Perpetually worried and not having as much fun as she could, Frazzled Mom is busy doling out sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, and “don’t go to far” followed by “stay where I can see you”.  This mom in particular seems disconnected from the magic of Disney as if worry prevents active participation.  I’m the biggest advocate in the world for minding your children, so in the early years, I was Frazzled Mom and am here to tell you there’s a sweet spot to be found between being cautious enough and over-the-top paranoid.  This mom also tends to do too much scheduling because going with the flow isn’t in her DNA.Resting along Sunset Blvd in Disney's Hollywood Studios

Kid-at-Heart Mom – This mom is having the time of her life with her family.  She’s wearing her favorite character t-shirt and a full pin lanyard.  She’s eating a Citrus Swirl or a Churro or has some chocolate spots on her shirt from a Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar.  Kid-at-Heart Mom is as swept up in the Disney magic as her kids are and she can be overheard talking excitedly about Tower of Terror or Expedition Everest.  This mom knows how to relax and have fun while staying in the moment for her family.

Know a Disney mom?  Are you one?  Which type of Disney mom are you?


Disney World Favorite Random Details

WDW-EntranceYou know that expression (attributed to Aristotle), “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”?  To me, that saying is never more true than when applied Walt Disney World.  There are incredible components from the tiniest magical detail (like peanut shell impressions in cement) to the enormity of a single attraction like Expedition Everest (Animal Kingdom) or Jungle Cruise (Magic Kingdom) – add them together and the whole is more – so much more!  That, I believe, is what makes Disney World infinitely more than a gathering of some hotels and theme parks – those millions of parts combine to make a destination like no other in the world.

 Disney World Favorite Random Details

Let’s talk about a few of the parts that make up the wonderful whole of Disney World.  Remember the other day when I talked about the things I think about while riding Spaceship Earth?  This is sorta like that only these random favorites were chosen from the World at large based on my vacation history – small treasures gathered through the years that add to the happiest memories and keep our family coming back for more as often as we can!Be-our-Guest-Gargoyle

Bouncy off-ramp – Have you ever noticed the exit ramp for Space Mountain’s extreme bounciness?  No?  Next time you leave the ride and you’re riding the conveyor belt, bounce a little bit on it.  Seriously!  It’s hilarious and fun and if you see me on those screens that show live video of guests leaving the ride, I’m the woman-of-a-certain-age jumping up and down.  Every time.image

Breaking plates – Is it just me or is the sound and feel of breaking plates on Toy Story Midway Mania ridiculously satisfying.  Clearly this says something about my psyche, but that is what I love most about this attraction.  So forbidden yet satisfying.  Clearly I need help.Entrance for Toy Story Midway Mania

Yeti – it’s real! – Abominable snowmen…mythical creatures or not?  Doesn’t matter!  The queue for Expedition Everest has me 100% convinced the Yeti exists.  I always wish there were a way I could take as much time as I wanted to see every single item in that Yeti museum and outfitter shop.  If the line’s being held up by someone, it’s probably me!  The footprint casts are my absolute favorite.  If you’re too scared to ride this attraction – do not miss the queue!Expedition Everest Queue Yeti Museum

Bathing beauties – I don’t get in line for Jungle Cruise (Magic Kingdom) thinking about those elephants in the water hole.  The moment I see that one happy baby pachyderm though…instant happiness!  He’s just the epitome of cute.  Every time I see him, I wish I could buy him in lawn-ornament form to take home.image

The first bite of a Mickey Bar – There are so many beloved snacks at Walt Disney World, but one stands out as my favorite for the thrill of the first bite.  Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar – soft and creamy vanilla ice cream encased by a smooth, hard chocolate shell, shaped like Mickey Mouse.  I peel the wrapper off carefully, clutch that thin wooden stick and savor the moment when cool chocolate gives way in an audible crunch and my teeth sink into that sweet ice cream.  After that there’s no time to savor anything else since I’ve got to eat that puppy in record speed before it melts all over my hands and clothes!Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar

Singing ‘Possums – You know the ones, don’t you?  On Splash Mountain – there are so many animals and adorable details to take in, it’s hard to see everything.  I look all around and enjoy the experience until our log floats us under those ‘possums, then I only have eyes for them and their extreme adorableness.Splash Mountain "You May Get Wet" sign

What about you?  What random details are your favorites at Walt Disney World?