Disney Dining – Off the Beaten Snack

The tried and true, wildly popular, well-known Disney snacks are great!  Essential contributors to Disney vacation happiness, those Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars, churros, Mickey-shaped pretzels, and Dole Whips are must-haves for masses of fans.  But there are so many more options!  What about those?  Let’s talk about the lesser known but just-as-delicious Disney World snacks. (My apologies, turkey leg fans, I just can’t include you’re precious poultry treat here today…or ever.)

Disney Dining – Off the Beaten Snack

I consider the iconic snacks – you know, the ones mentioned above that are made into souvenir magnets and such – to be “tier one” Disney snacks.  Those would be followed by the slightly less popular “tier two” selections.  Those include Magic Kingdom popcorn (I’ve never had it, but I hear it’s the best in the World), Mickey krispie treats, and funnel cakes.  Also in this category are cupcakes like Butterfinger, Red Velvet, and the ones decorated like Disney characters, the Studios’ Carrot Cake Cookie, and those amazingly fancy candy/caramel apples.  I suppose my beloved Citrus Swirl would also fall into the tier two category (being slightly less popular that that frozen pineapple concoction). Starring Rolls / Red Velvet Cupcake

Finally, there are the snacks that fall out of the mainstream and into “tier three”.  These include some of the tastiest and best snacks in Disney World that are not available in every park.  Thus, they’re less well-known.

Think about the offerings in World Showcase like School Bread in Norway (Kringla Bakeri og Kafe), Macarons in France (Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie), caramel popcorn in Germany (Karamell-Küche), and the Churros with Caramel Sauce in Mexico (La Cantina de San Angel).  That caramel popcorn got me through Hurricane Matthew!  The School Bread, macarons, and churros are still on my to-try list.  Disney Dining - Off the Beaten SnackAlso in Epcot there’s the Croissant Donut from the Refreshment Port (YUM!) and let’s not forget that kiosk over in Italy where that Espresso Gelato “Affogato” is sold – so incredibly delicious!  I’ve mentioned the cinnamon glazed almonds and pecans before.  I’m not sure where else they can be purchased, but I always enjoy them during a visit to Animal Kingdom.  Finally, I’ve got to add the Cheeseburger Spring Rolls from the Adventureland egg roll wagon.  Yet another thing I haven’t tried, but I keep hearing how good they are.

The point of all this?  So many snacks, too little time!  I’m training like crazy for the Dark Side Challenge with just two weeks to go.  All that running makes me hungry and has me daydreaming about what snacks I’m going to have while I’m at Disney World.  Seriously, if running 19.3 miles in two days doesn’t justify a few extra snack calories, I don’t know what does.  This is a short trip and if I had more than four days to snack, I wouldn’t have to pick and choose.  Decisions, decisions…

Do you have a favorite Disney snack that I haven’t mentioned?  Please, tell me what it is and where to find it!

 

Dark Side Challenge – April Disney Vacation Plans

In just a few weeks, we’ll be headed to Walt Disney World for a short, action-packed adventure.  We may be there for only three days, but we’ve built quite an itinerary!  With so much to look forward to, it feels like my countdown calendar is moving backwards.  Making things worse is fickle Mother Nature and her indecision about which season to embrace.  Feels like winter one day, spring the next, back and forth until everyone’s sneezing from either a cold or pollen allergies.  All of it has me staring at my suitcase wondering if it’s too soon to pack.

Dark Side Challenge – April Disney Vacation Plans

We chose our travel dates purely for the Dark Side Challenge.  The Star Wars 10K and Half Marathon will be Joseph’s first runDisney events and I couldn’t be more excited for him.  After he spent fall and winter of 2015 running with me as I trained for the 2016 Glass Slipper Challenge, then stayed home with Junior while I went to Disney World, I promised him I’d take him with me this year.  With just a couple of long training runs remaining, we’re ready.

Dark Side Challenge - April Disney Vacation Plans

Springtime in Disney World!  It’s been years since we’ve visited during Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival and we have missed it so much.  Weighing heavily into our plans, Epcot’s going to be where we spend most of our non-running time.  Since Nick and Dave from the Disney Exchange (and their wives) will also be at Disney World, we’re doing our best to coordinate our schedules for a get-together.  The weekend looks like this:

Friday mid-day – Arrive, grab lunch at the Grand Floridian (staying in the Villas) and head to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to pick up our race packets.  Based on past experience, we’ll be there a whole lot less time than it takes to get there.  The race expo is always too crowded to enjoy browsing the booths.  I gave it my best shot last year and still walked away empty-handed.  There’s a lot of cool merchandise, but my patience won’t last long enough to actually purchase anything except a beer.  Once we’ve got our packets, we’ll head right back to the bus and make our way to Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom – We’ve got late afternoon / early evening FastPasses for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Space Mountain.  Between FastPasses, we’ll squeeze in what we can.

Late Dinner at Narcoossee’s – The last time Raymond and I ate here was late December, 2015 and our experience could not have been better.  The food and service were both excellent.  One of the things we liked best was that our server encouraged us to step outside on the deck to watch Wishes while he held our entrees back to keep them warm.  Nice touch! I’ve scheduled our reservation for 8:30 with Wishes at 9:00 so we can do it again.  After that it’s off to sleep.

Here’s where our plans are a little squishy.  Saturday morning we’ll need to be at the 10k’s starting line well ahead of the 5:30 am start time.  Unlike the previous runDisney events I’ve done, this one starts on Floridian Way rather than at Epcot.  I’m sure we’ll have to take a bus to the starting line, but don’t have a clear idea about how long that will take.  Once the official race course and event guide have been published, hopefully we’ll know more.  The race ends at Epcot and we should be making our way back to the Grand Floridian by 7:00 am to clean up and have breakfast.Epcot View

Epcot all Day!  Sure we’ll be a little tired, but for not rushing around, sampling plenty of snacks and having our group meet-up, Epcot is perfect!  We do have a little lunch reservation we’ll duck out for at Beaches & Cream (our first time there!) and then we’ll be right back for more Flower and Garden action.  We have late afternoon FastPasses for Frozen Ever After, Spaceship Earth, and The Seas with Nemo & Friends.

Il Mulino Dinner – As per our pre-Disney-half-marathon tradition, this amazing little Italian eatery at the Swan is where we’ll order giant servings of carbs and pretend we don’t have to get up super early and run 13.1 miles.  Last year while we were enjoying our Il Mulino dinner before the Princess Half, Joseph (home with Junior) texted us, of all things, a video of him playing Bella Notte (from Lady and the Tramp) on an antique accordion he had purchased earlier that day.  (Sometimes Joe’s love for both music and antiques collides.)  It was perfect and one of my happiest Disney vacation memories.  It’s a shame he can’t pack that thing and bring it along to serenade us in person this time.

Running to the Dark Side!

Sunday morning Joseph and I will put on our epic matching Star Wars shirts (nope, not kidding – had them custom printed just for us) and two great things will happen:  I will not be running 13.1 miles alone (I can’t tell you how much this means!) and Joseph will get to experience first hand how incredibly amazing runDisney half marathons are.  I’m excited to hear what he has to say about the course and all the surprises along the way.  Post-race we’ll meet up with Raymond and enjoy the after-party for a few minutes before we head back to our room to clean up.

Epcot and Animal Kingdom.  We are absolutely ending the day at Animal Kingdom, but if we have time, we’ll make a quick dash to Epcot for lunch around the World.  At Animal Kingdom we have two FastPasses scheduled before dinner – Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest.  We’re eating Dinner at Sanaa in the Kidani Village section of Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Joseph’s going to love the bread service!  Then it’s back to Animal Kingdom park for Rivers of Light.

That’s it.  Then we go home.  I’m hoping we’re not trying to do too much.  At the same time, I’m hoping our scheduled plans will be enough to make our three days feel much longer.

This will be the shortest Disney vacation I’ve ever taken.  How about you?  Would you (could you?) go for just three days?

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Epcot’s Future

This morning in my way to work I was listening to Episode 98 of Radio Harambe.  This is an excellent podcast and one of my favorites, especially since it’s mostly focused on Animal Kingdom and you know how I feel about that park.  Anyway, Mike and Dave, the hosts, were discussing the recent Disney announcement about the future of Epcot and what that might mean for Epcot fans.  Mike and Dave and I don’t always agree on stuff and today was no exception…I was interjecting my opposition to their opinions out loud on my commute (as if they could hear me) and the discussion was inspirational for this post.Epcot View

Thoughts on Epcot’s Future

Epcot’s changed a lot since I first visited the park in 1990 and not always in a good way.  Lots of attractions have closed, sponsorships ended, and Future World has been mostly left to stagnate and generally decline.  What was once a thought-provoking center for amusing edu-tainment has become a mere shadow of its former self.  Updates are badly needed and if Disney must incorporate some of its popular entertainment franchises to do it, so be it.RM-Living-With-The-Land-Greenhouse

If visitors to Future World were to once again find themselves inspired by technological innovations, the original purpose of Epcot lives on.  If said inspiration were to be derived from familiar movie characters, what’s the harm?  It’s a fact, Disney sells more merchandise with well-known fan favorites than they would with newly launched concepts and sales are what keeps stockholders happy.  I want to see Epcot revitalized and am willing to be open-minded about it.

A few thoughts on what I would consider moving in the right direction…

Inside Out has been the movie most discussed among Disney fans as a perfect fit for Future World.  A new attraction related to how and why changes occur in our brains as we grow up would be perfect!  Every young person should know that an immature frontal cortex will inhibit sound decision-making long past their 18th birthday and this is why they should listen to their mom!

Perhaps, in the same building, The Incredibles (and my favorite character, Edna Mode) could entertain us while helping us understand the relationship between nutrition and the optimum performance of both brain and brawn?  Personally, I think The Incredibles are woefully underrepresented in Disney parks!  This would be a win-win for me.RM-Universe-of-Energy-Exterior

Guardians of the Galaxy has been rumored to be the theme of a new attraction to replace the outdated Ellen’s Energy Adventure.  What if Rocket, who is an engineering genius, were to host an attraction based on how creativity and technology come together to solve problems with things like clean energy, transportation, space exploration, or waste disposal?

While I’ve heard that Wreck-It Ralph may be slated for Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom, I could see wonderful potential with this franchise for an Epcot attraction as well.  How about an interactive attraction that allowed guests to see what goes on during the invention of arcade/video games.  By helping visitors see how imagination becomes virtual reality through technology, young future-programmers might be encouraged while the rest of us just have fun!SSE Lecture Dude

Education combined with entertainment is great, but the final, Epcot-worthy result needs to be inspiration.  When guests leave feeling like they can make a difference in their own lives as well as the world around them, then Epcot’s mission has been accomplished.  If, in the course of visiting Walt Disney World, some small fraction of young guests discover a new interest in science, technology, engineering, or math…just by having fun on vacation, then Epcot’s bigger meaning is realized.  And isn’t that as Walt Disney intended it to be?  Just my two cents.

What are your thoughts on Epcot’s future?

 

 

Epcot Dining – Yorkshire County Fish Shop

It’s time for another Disney Dining review from Nick.  We don’t always see eye to eye (or should I say stomach to stomach?) on our favorite Walt Disney World eateries, but today we agree 100%.  When in Epcot, there’s one fantastic family favorite…

Epcot Dining – Yorkshire County Fish Shop

By Nick

One of our favorite stops for a quick lunch or dinner in all of Walt Disney World is located in Epcot’s United Kingdom Pavilion.

My wife is such a fan of Yorkshire County Fish Shop in fact, that she has eaten here during Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival!

It’s got a very limited menu.

Fish and chips of course. Victoria Sponge Cake, whole seasonal fruit, soft drinks, water and beer.
That’s all you need, really.

Though there are several seating area options, such as down by the World Showcase Lagoon, this is a very popular spot, and seating is limited.

There are covered tables located next to the Shop, but, again, it’s limited. If you see a table for 4 with 2 people sitting, don’t be afraid to ask to share the table.

There are also a couple of tables to be found outside Rose & Crown.

As for the fish and chips, well, we find them delicious, light and flaky fish and perfectly cooked potatoes. This is our favorite fish and chips just about anywhere. I like mine with Malt Vinegar alone, but ketchup and Tartar Sauce can also be found among the condiments selection.

Have you eaten at Yorkshire? What did you think?

 

You can follow Nick, his wife Barbie, and all their friends on their many Disney adventures:  Disney Musings Blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, On Instagram, On Pinterest.  You can listen to Nick, our friend Dave and me on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we talk about all things Disney.