October 2014 Trip Report – HHN Nights And Food & Wine Days – Day 6
This morning we had some fastpass+ reservations set at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Toy Story Midway Mania window ended at 9:55 and we arrived at the park about 9:35 giving us plenty of time to get that done and our next window would be open by the time we finished. I am not a fan of the FastPass+ service and my personal opinion is it made everything worse. Everything except one thing that is, and that is Toy Story Midway mania. In the past you either were early to the park or you did not ride TSMM, now you can conveniently schedule it easily. I do not believe it was worth ruining every other experience but I’ll take this one.
The great movie ride was down on this particular day so that pretty much was the only attraction my parents would ride for the day so the rest is on me. Star Tours was next on the agenda with that window opening. Tower of Terror was going to be up at noon, so after Star Tours I went to the single rider line of Rock’n’Roller Coaster with 15 minutes to spare. Just enough time to enjoy a yuengling with my dad behind the Sunset Ranch Market with my dad. Then off to Tower I went in order to finish up the attractions I had intended to ride. I do have to say my enjoyment of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror increases as I have gotten older. Everything about it entertains me from the walk down Sunset, through the queue and of course that incredible moment when the elevator begins its dance. It is my clear favorite attraction in all of the Walt Disney resort.
My family are big fans of the Brown Derby and we had yet to be here with the new outdoor lounge open. We stopped for a visit a short time after noon and on key the downpour began. Fortunately for us the outdoor tables do include an umbrella so it all worked out for us. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the lounge, it is so much more accessible without needing an ADR. We started with drinks and I love a Makers Mark Manhattan which on their menu is called a Jack Diamond. A white russian and a vodka and ginger for my folks and all is well in our world. We went ahead and ordered the Artisanal Cheeses and Charcuterie Board which is listed as feeding 2 people. Yes it’s simply meats and cheeses but let me say it is a home run. We ate every little scrape off that board and if we hadn’t been heading to the Food & Wine festival next we probably would have doubled down on it. I will return to the lounge eagerly to try some of the more adventurous choices and partake perhaps in one of their several flights. Wine flights, champagne flights, and even a scotch flight is on the menu.
We only spent a couple of hours at Hollywood Studios, but it was well used time. All the headliner attractions followed up by an amazing appetizer and drinks is nothing to shake a stick at. Now we were on our way for the first look at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which oddly enough would be the only Disney theme park we would visit for the remainder of the vacation. My parents rolled all the way from the Studios as I hiked my way working the artisan plate and a nice Manhattan.
Coming in from the International Gateway you might expect to see the Food & Wine festival in full swing, but oddly enough there is a pretty big gap there in booths until you pass the UK or get into France. This was my parents first visit to the festival so as we approached Canada they got their first inkling of what it was all about. Booth after booth of amazing appetizer sized food and beverages of almost every variety. As we were participating in the premium package we needed to find a premier location. The premiere package, after removing the given gifts, is basically a private location with tables and menus where you can order from typically 3 or 4 booths in the area. There is a cash register in the space where you pay and then the food is brought to you almost like a pizza delivery. There are 10 of these locations which basically covers the entire booth options at the festival. The package cost $199 each and was valid for Monday through Thursday from noon until 8pm. A gift bag was given to each participant which included a limited edition magic band, a bottle of wine, a $50 gift card, a chocolate box, a bottle opener, a reservation to the Epcot night live event, and your premiere credentials.
As we entered the Canada pavilion we located the premiere area and presented our credentials. We were invited to take a table with a menu that had all the information for the nearby booths which happened to be Canada, Greece, and Ireland. We placed our order and ran our gift card to pay for it and we relax comfortably by the table. People begin to arrive from the different booths and deliver our picks. All of the cast members were wonderful with that Disney touch we all appreciate and they do not work from tips, in fact you can’t tip. From this location we ordered the lobster and seafood shepards pie, wild mushroom beef filet, cheddar cheese soup, and the griddled Greek cheese. We washed it down with some Guinness stout and Moosehead beers. Overall it was a fantastic start to the festival, my only complaint would have been the griddled cheese just wasn’t as good as it had been in the past. As we ate we also discussed why can’t you buy the cheddar cheese soup at a booth in Canada all year long? They are really missing out on a money grab there let me tell you. The filet was very tender and the shepards pie had plenty of seafood within it. Yes, it was indeed a good start.
We pushed on to the next location where we were greeted as pleasantly as the first table. The cast members honestly went above and beyond whenever necessary, they were clearly happy with what they were doing and they seemed to want this program to be successful. As we were heading clockwise the next location would serve us from 4 locations; Puerto Rico, Desserts and Champagne, Hawaii and Scotland. The braised beef from Puerto Rico was underwhelming but the gasolina sangria cocktail made up for it. It was strong, fruity, and refreshing and made me forget the bland meat that accompanied it. The seared sea scallop from Scotland was cooked correctly and quite large. It was accompanied with a spinach and cheese gratin that paired with the scallop really well. The pork sliders from Hawaii are very popular and they did not disappoint. Two different Kona branded beers are served from that booth as well and both are really good. the Big Wave Golden Ale was crisp and the Castaway IPA, my favorite of the two, was hoppy and just a touch of bitter.
After enjoying our first visit to the festival and filling up we returned to the Boardwalk hotel where I awaited hearing from @brandglover and @BrianCarey_ who I was going to hang out with for the evening. Brandon arrived first so we had a glass of amaretto before moving on to the Belle Vue lounge for some good old fashioned beverages. Once hearing from Brian, we departed for Epcot where we all had a little food and wine and ultimately recorded episode #22 in the Electric Umbrella of all places.
|Day 10 – Summary|