Today we’ll be making our way back to Epcot. If you recall, on our last visit I tried to ignore the Food & Wine Festival and just focus on the original eleven countries. We mostly stuck to that plan. Today we’re all about fully diving into the festival.
First, we had a bit of business to do in Norway.
We had fastpasses for the new Frozen Attraction. When Frozen fever broke out a few years back, it was no surprise that Disney would be interjecting the chilly sisters wherever possible. What was not expected was that this attraction would be replacing a fan favorite in World Showcase, Maestrom. Admittedly, Maestrom was long in the tooth and needed an update, but it represented the country of Norway. Arendelle, the setting for Frozen, is fictional! This seemingly goes against the whole intent of World Showcase. What’s more, this attraction could have easily been tucked into Magic Kingdom or Hollywood studios and would have potentially been met with ubiquitous praise, but anon, here we are trying desperately to justify this decision.
All this being said, they did a fantastic job with the ride itself. It’s a typical dark ride, but using all the newest and best animatronic technology. A great addition to the parks in general, just maybe not for World Showcase. On to the food!
The thing about Food & Wine is that it’s gotten way out of hand with the pricing. I love the little tastings, but you can easily drop $50 on just a couple booths. One is much better positioned to have a good experience if time is taken to look over all the choices. I sought out legit reviews. I say legit because there are Disney Food Blogs that are a little too willing to put a positive spin on everything Disney does. Believe it or not, there are some who are willing to sacrifice objectivity for free stuff (Crazy, I know). Not helpful. I stuck with a Disney blogger who is rather cynical about the Mouse. His booth by booth reviews not only rated how tasty (or terrible) the items were, but what value they held. Using this metric, we made pretty out darn good.
We’ll start in South Korea. You might recognize the Pork Lettuce Wrap from our first night at Food & Wine, though the picture was dark, and slightly blurry as if taken by a buzzed blogger. Both of these were yummy and a nice light start to the day.
It was about time for some beer. Germany seemed like a solid bet.
I snapped my way around while Jeff stood in line, the dear.
We couldn’t decide what to get, but no worries, there was a sampler. I’m in a real IPA place right now, so none of these were something I would tend to order. It was nice to have a wee taste of everything.
We tend to just skip the good ole’ USA but they had an interesting offering this year.
Why is it that the dish that looks like dog sick is always the most tasty? This was a real winner. My only critique would be that they could have eased up on the butter for the bread, and I love butter.
Despite my negative ramblings about Food & Wine, the rest of the free world must not agree because it continues to be insanely popular, so much so that it has crept over into Future World. The past couple of years the talk show The Chew has been hosting an area that includes modern, organically themed dishes.
We were approaching time for our next Fastpass which was for Turtle Talk With Crush. This show is seemingly for children but it’s an absolute hoot for adults too, especially if said adults have a little buzz going.
So next up today we would be doing something we have NEVER, EVER done before! We’re taking a backstage tour! There’s a wide range of Disney tours offered around all the parks that vary in price and time commitment. This is the very cheapest tour and only takes up an hour. You gotta start somewhere! We are going on the “Behind The Seeds Tour” in the Land Pavilion.
I had considered doing this tour, but thought Jeff would be bored. Turns out he was the one that suggested it! Score one for me on my subliminal indoctrination game. About ten of us gathered up in the Land Pavilion and were greeted by our guide.
At our first stop we saw a brief video and got a lesson on how Disney breeds “good bugs” to be released into the greenhouse to eat the “bad bugs”. What I found most interesting is how this environment, which is basically a sterile “bio-dome”, still struggles with all the pests and diseases with which I battle and usually fail.
From here we moved outdoors to a large window that looked into the Biotechnology Lab. We couldn’t go in cause it was all sterile and whatnot, we just got to stare into the window. Here, we were told how Disney propagates new plants from clippings.
At the end of the tour you have the opportunity to by one of these clippings. Guess which guest (sucker) bought one. Yup.
How is my ‘lil plant faring? If you make it to the end of this endless blog, you’ll find out!
The remainder of the tour took place in the greenhouses of “Living with the Land”. As a long time visitor of Epcot, being in the actual attraction was the most exciting part!
This section mostly entailed the explanation of all the hydroponic gardens. Very cool.
Next we were introduced to the Mimosa pudica or the sensitive plant also known as the sleepy plant, touch-me-not, or shy plant. We’ll stick with Sensitive plant.
Below is a video showing Stanley in action.
We got to sample some cucumbers grown right here. Disney claims that these greenhouses supply many of the on site restaurants. I find that a bit hard to believe, but ok.
More hydroponic stuff….
Next was a tour of the Aquaculture tanks. Here they farm tilapia and such. We got the opportunity to feed the fish. Just getting close to the tanks made them freak out.
We made our way backwards as the tour wrapped up.
This is a Miracle Fruit bush. If you ate one of these berries before taking a bite of your nine pound lemon, it would taste super sweet.
This was a great take. We learned (and then forgot) a ton about plants and the science of improving crops. Plus, we got to go “backstage” for the first time. It was only twenty bucks a person. With some tours running into the hundreds of dollars, this was a great deal.
All this learnin’ was making us hungry again. Back to the festival!
Next on my list of must try dishes was at the Morocco booth.
This may well have been my favorite bite of the Festival. You might assume that these are just a rectangular version of falafel. Not so, friends. These were miraculous fried sticks of creamy hummus. I’m not sure how they accomplished this, but hats off to the chef!
Each year during the Food & Wine Festival, guests have the added bonus of daily concerts. Most of the acts are admittedly those that can’t fill stadiums anymore but quality, none the less. We were fortunate enough to be there when the inimitable Chaka Khan was performing!
I really adore Chaka Kahn, but sitting in the bleachers for forty five minutes and not exploring World Showcase is too difficult for me. We stood in the back and listened to a couple of songs and moved on. She was fantastic by the way.
China was the setting for our next snack.
Two excellent selections indeed.
Jeff went rogue off my list a few times. This was one of them. It wasn’t very good if I recall. This is what happens when you ignore my research.
Next we visited the Islands of the Caribbean which is right at the cusp between World Showcase and Future World.
Both of our tasting were excellent. The Beef Patty looked so plain but was bursting with Island spices. I loved it!
It was still relatively early, but we were full and getting a bit tired. I proposed that we make it an early night. I know, this doesn’t seem like me at all. I usually try my best to stretch the most out of every Disney day. The thing is, we had had the most amazing eight days and I was so very grateful and happy. This was the point in the trip where I cried. I thought that I would sob when I saw the Castle, or when I finally got to hug Ashley for the first time, but it was in the looking back that I just couldn’t contain how immensely blessed I felt to have experienced all of this.
We had just enough steam for a night cap. Pop Century resort is not the most luxurious, to be sure, but they have the decency to offer a proper bar.
We bellied up and had a couple cocktails. I don’t remember what we had. The bartender suggested something and I’m sure we enjoyed it. While we were imbibing, a gentleman approached the bar. He had obviously had a few ahead of time. He offered up enough to get an understanding that he was here with the misses and a couple kids and he was totally burnt out. I felt bad for him. It looks so good in the brochures for families, but let’s face it, Disney can be totally overwhelming. It takes planning to near obsession to arrange an actual relaxing vacation. But done right, it can be an absolutely extraordinary experience.
So, how’s my plant doing?
Up Next: Gird yourselves, it’s the last day.