Let It Grow

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.

Another text book perfect day in Orlando.

The Fountain of Nations putting on a show for us

Mickey’s got the Weber fired up !

First, we had a bit of business to do in Norway.

Grass Roof over the new Frozen meet and greet.

Norway’s village square with traditional architectural elements designed to represent the towns and cities of Bergen, Oslo, Alesund and Setesdahl.

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.

A foreign intruder!

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!

Stunning details in China.

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.

Korean-style BBQ Beef with Steamed Rice and Cucumber Kimchi

Roasted Pork Lettuce Wrap and Kimchi

It was about time for some beer. Germany seemed like a solid bet.

Brewers Collection Booth, very popular.

Today’s selections.

I snapped my way around while Jeff stood in line, the dear.

German Chalet with JJ Abrams lens flare.

The train set set in Germany is maximum.

Wishing Well where you may see Snow White. Not today.

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.

Schöfferhofer Zitrone Weizen-Mix, Hacker-Pschorr Hefe Weisse, Radeberger Zwickel Pilsner (Unfiltered)

We tend to just skip the good ole’ USA but they had an interesting offering this year.

The American Adventure

The Hops and Barley Booth is super cute.

Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese served on Griddled Garlic Toast and a Anchor Liberty Ale (I think, it was a long time ago).

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 had the Ricotta Ravioli. It was aamzing and I forgot to take a picture.

The Chew Collective

We had the ravioli. It was amazing and I forgot to take a picture.

Our view as we ate the phantom ravioli.

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.

Pre-gaming for Crush!!!

Always a good time.

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.

Livin’ with land…

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.

Our guide’s backside.

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.

Plants hosting said good bugs.

Of course.

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.

Plants being propogated in mason jars. So hipster.

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!

Who you lookin’ at?

This section mostly entailed the explanation of all the hydroponic gardens. Very cool.

You too can hydroponic at home!

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.

This is Stanley. He’s sensitive.

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.

This guy on the right considered himself a bit of an expert. I guess it was because he was a biologist or something.  Whatever.

More hydroponic stuff….

I thought this one was pretty artsy. See the hidden Mickey?


Hey, it’s the gang!

This is a nine pound lemon tree. One lemon makes a gallon of lemonade. One of the few facts I’ve retained.

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.

Aquaculture area.

Always with the hidden Mickeys.

We made our way backwards as the tour wrapped up.

Another artsy pic from moi.

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.

Miracle Fruit


One last Mickey.

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!

Food & Wine signage

The sun was get low in the sky on this stunning day.

Jolly olde England looking dapper today.

Next on my list of must try dishes was at the Morocco booth.

Spicy Hummus Fries with Cucumber, Tomato, Onions and Tzatziki Sauce

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!

A stroll past Japan.


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!

She’s there on the stage behind the Minnie ears.

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.

This sunset.

China was the setting for our next snack.

Beijing Roasted Duck in a Steamed Bun with Hoisin Sauce

Kung Fu Punch with Smirnoff Vodka and Bols Triple Sec

Two excellent selections indeed.

Come on! It’s so pretty.

One of the boat docks where you can catch a boat to cut across the lagoon.

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.

Seared Venison Loin with Wild Mushroom Marsala Sauce and Kumara Dumpling

Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir. It was serviceable.

You guys…

Next we visited the Islands of the Caribbean which is right at the cusp between World Showcase and Future World.

Charming Signage

Vibrant Plantings

This little plaza had lovely views.

Pescado don Coco – Seared Grouper, Pigeon Peas, and Rice with Coconut Sauce

Jamaican Beef Patty

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.

It was time.

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.

Thank goodness.

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?

It’s alive! And showing how long it’s taking me to blog this trip! Geesh.

Up Next: Gird yourselves, it’s the last day.

This entry was posted in Dining Review, U. S. Travel, Uncategorized, Walt Disney World. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *