22nd EPCOT Food & Wine Festival Bands Announced!

This year during EPCOT's Food & Wine Festival, a record 32 musical acts will perform as part of the Eat to the Beat Concert Series!

The festival, which runs for 75 days, will host these performances on the America Gardens Theatre stage throughout the festival. Eleven new-to-the-festival bands, including Baha Men, Kenny G., Squeeze, 10,000 Maniacs, and others, join 21 fan-favorite musical acts for a diverse lineup of pop hit makers

Guests also can tune into their favorite returning bands that will include festival opening act Delta Rae.  Concerts take place at 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. daily and are included in the price of your EPCOT admission ticket.  Take a look (songs are listed to help you identify the act)! Which ones are your favorites?!

  • Aug. 31-Sept. 1         Delta Rae “Bottom of the River”
  • Sept. 2-3                  The Hooters NEW! “And We Danced”
  • Sept. 4-5                  Baha Men NEW! “Who Let the Dogs Out”
  • Sept. 6-7                  Fuel “Shimmer”
  • Sept. 8-10                STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas “We Built This City”
  • Sept. 11-12                Lauren Alaina NEW! “Road Less Traveled”
  • Sept. 13-15               Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah”
  • Sept. 16-17               Sister Hazel “All For You”   
  • Sept. 18-20              Air Supply “All Out of Love”
  • Sept. 21-22              David Cook “Light On”
  • Sept. 23-24              Everclear “Santa Monica”                   
  • Sept. 25-27              Sugar Ray “Every Morning”
  • Sept. 28-29              38 Special “Hold On Loosely”
  • Sept. 30-Oct. 1         Mark Wills NEW! “19 Somethin’”
  • Oct. 2-3                   American Authors NEW! “Best Day of My Life”
  • Oct. 4-5                   Christopher Cross “Sailing”  
  • Oct. 6-8                   Devon Allman NEW! “Ragged and Dirty”
  • Oct. 9-11                  Dennis DeYoung: The Music of STYX “Come Sail Away”
  • Oct. 12-13                Taylor Dayne “Tell It to My Heart”
  • Oct. 14-15                Jeffrey Osborne “On the Wings of Love”
  • Oct. 16-17                Postmodern Jukebox NEW! Various Hits                 
  • Oct. 18-20               10,000 Maniacs NEW! “Because the Night”
  • Oct. 21-22               Toad The Wet Sprocket “Walk on the Ocean”
  • Oct. 23-24              Kenny G NEW! “Songbird”
  • Oct. 25-26              Billy Ocean “Get Outta My Dreams”
  • Oct. 27-29              Tiffany “I Think We’re Alone Now”
  • Oct. 30-Nov. 1        Hanson “MMMBop”
  • Nov. 2-3                  Blue October NEW! “Into the Ocean”
  • Nov. 4-5                  Living Colour “Cult of Personality” 
  • Nov. 6-8                  Boyz II Men "End of the Road"
  • Nov. 9-11                 Big Bad Voodoo Daddy “Go Daddy-O”
  • Nov. 12-13               Squeeze NEW! “Black Coffee in Bed”

Festival-goers can also enjoy Eat to the Beat Dining Packages at 15 popular Epcot restaurants, guaranteeing a breakfast, lunch or dinner reservation and confirmed seating at a same-day Eat to the Beat concert. Talk to your Upon A Star Agent about the Food & Wine Festival and about booking you a dining package! 

New dining heading to Disney Springs

Disney Springs is bursting at the seams with awesome new dining options! Here's a sneak peek of what's to come:

The Edison will be opening later this year. Modeled after it's sister location in Los Angeles, The Edison will be a lavish, industrial gothic restaurant and bar with live entertainment. The live entertainment will include  contortionists, aerialists, DJs and more. It will include classic American Food, craft cocktails. 

Also opening later this year, Wine Bar George. Master Sommelier George Miliotes brings a wine list of over 100 different varieties. Cheese, charcuterie and small plates will be served to complement the wine selections. There will also be special events and guest wine makers conducting fun wine education. 

Portobello Country Italian Trattoria will be replaced by a new Italian concept. At the helm of this new project is Top Chef Master and James Beard Award Winner, Tony Mantuano.  

2018 will bring us several new locations as well! Chef José Andrés’ will be opening Jaleo, a Spanish inspired tapas location. Jaleo will be a multi-level restaurant which will feature Spanish-style sandwiches on the first floor storefront. 

Also in 2018, we will see a new concept by Wolfgang Puck. Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill is inspired by Puck's dishes at his world renowned Spago location. The restaurant will have a classic farmhouse look with a touch of elegance. Expect comfort food with a Mediterranean flair!

There's always so much to do at Disney Springs! Let our travel experts help you make the most of your time there. Contact us here today!


VIP Disney Experiences - Dining Events (Part 1)

What a fun but crazy month! We here at Upon A Star Travel have been hard at work planning magical vacations and checking out new offerings for our clients!  I had the opportunity to check out some VIP Experiences down at the Walt Disney World Resort this past month, and let me tell you - I am super excited to share.  If you want even more detail, check out the Divas Dish Podcast where I shared live from my hotel at the Grand Floridian (Episode 68). Click this link, or grab it on iTunes, I Heart Radio, or Stitcher.

Of course, the magic of Disney is unsurpassed; but, if you are someone who likes just that extra special touch, never fear! Disney has it covered! So, let's start with one of my favorite topics ... FOOD. 

Of course, thinking of upscale, VIP cuisine in Disney, your mind may go immediately to Victoria & Albert's.  This is a 5-Diamond Restaurant located on the 2nd floor of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. I've often heard about the amazing food, and this is a place that had always been on my bucket list.  Let me say - it lives up to the hype! WOW!

So first of all - GO HUNGRY.  This is a 7-course meal, and it can be done with or without wine-pairings. Everything was absolutely delightful. Even if you aren't sure about a particular dish, trust me - it will taste amazing. 

And they even had this really cool way of brewing coffee for dessert - and as a coffee snob - trust me when I say it was fabulous!

Looks like a science experiment, right? Very neat to watch.  

Now we ate in the dining room, but there is also the option to do the Chef's Table. 

Speaking of Chef's Tables... did you know that you can request a special Chef's Table? Whether you're heading down for business or just having a special family gathering, Disney can coordinate a beautiful experience. 

It was such a neat experience watching the chefs prepare your food at the On-stage Kitchen. The head chef then described each and every course - it really brought the food to life! Oh, and as you might imagine, it was absolutely fabulous!

I also experienced the dessert portion of the "Highway in the Sky Dine Around" on the roof of the Contemporary.  The desserts were perfection, and of course, so was the view of the fireworks!

Another fun dining experience was "Savor the Savanna" at Disney's Animal Kingdom... but that's a post for another week! Stay tuned for more of this series very soon!

Interested in booking one of these experiences? Contact your Upon A Star Agent today!

New Summer Dining at the Diamond Horseshoe

If you've ever walked through Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom, chances are you've noticed the building housing the Diamond Horseshoe.  Additionally, chances are that the doors were closed, and you bypassed it without much thought. 

The Diamond Horseshoe is the East Coast version of Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Review.  As the Golden Horseshoe was one of Walt Disney's favorite places to be in the park, it stands to reason that it was also included in plans for the Florida park.  The Golden Horseshoe is still going strong - and it provides daily entertainment in the form of Old-West Saloon style singing and comedy alongside down-home quick service cooking.  

While the Golden Horseshoe still provides daily shows and meals, the Diamond Horseshoe's run hasn't always been so smooth. For a time just after the park opened, it was a packed-house for the Saloon-style entertainment and refreshments.  People arrived early to get tickets on Main Street to ensure a view of the entertainment. Standby was very difficult to get in terms of viewing this show (something we experience now with Anna & Elsa, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Be Our Guest). It changed names a few times over the years - Diamond Horseshoe Jamboree, Diamond Horseshoe Saloon Revue - but in the long run, for various named reasons, the company decided to close the doors on this unique experience.  

The Diamond Horseshoe has operated only seasonally since 2003 as a Quick Service location, and it has occasionally housed meet-and-greets for Woody, Jessie, and Bullseye.  Even when it was open seasonally, it really was only during peak lunch hours.  One trip, we happened upon the doors being open, and we were excited for the opportunity to sit and dine in this really neat space! 

The food was tasty, and you could see by walking around that it would have been a fun and intimate atmosphere for a stage show.  Of course, one could never count on being able to dine there.  Until 2016... 

This year, we were excited to learn that the Diamond Horseshoe would host a 1 Table Service credit meal throughout some of the summer months! Knowing the history of this place, and of course being curious, we quickly snagged a reservation for our May trip.   We weren't disappointed. 

The service was good, and the food reminded us a lot of the Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge (one of our favorites).  Food comes served family-style with favorites like baked beans, corn bread, ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, turkey, mac and cheese, and corn on the cob.  Dessert was a campfire s'mores brownie - YUM!

All-you-care-to-enjoy, including dessert! I really enjoyed my dining experience as well as the food.  The place was by no means crowded, so it was a nice escape from the heat and crowds.  Currently, this is only a temporary dining experience scheduled to end this summer.  I truly hope they decide to keep this option around, though! 

Disney Dinners: A Yummy Way to Countdown to Your Disney Vacation

Anticipation is one of the wonderful side effects of booking your Disney Vacation.  You’ve figured out where you want to stay and how many days you want to go.  You’ve been wise and booked your package with Upon A Star Travel and are taking full advantage of the Concierge service.  You’ve excitedly told your kids!  “YAY!  We’re going to Disney!!” They yell.  Now you have to wait- it’s the hardest part.  It can be especially difficult for kids.  When you’re little, time moves so slowly.  Even High Schoolers feel like they’ve been in a relationship forever if it lasts from Christmas to Snowball.  A fun way to help add to the anticipation and move the time more quickly are Disney Dinners! 

A Disney Dinner is a meal themed after a Disney movie.  My family started doing this on Friday nights and we count down the weeks instead of the days.  It doesn’t feel as long to say we leave in 10 weeks instead of 70 days.  This gives everyone something to look forward to each week.  It also helps us get reacquainted with some Disney movies and characters.

My kids are 11, 13 and 16.  We rotate who gets to pick the movie.  Then they help plan and assist with cooking the meal to go with it.  I can’t even explain how wonderful this has been for my family.  With school and activities, it’s been quality family time.  We work together on the menu, including looking up recipes together.  We then post the menu on the fridge, a day or 2 before so everyone knows what’s planned.  Sometime we plan a menu that’s similar to the location where the movie takes place- we did a Hawaiian theme for Lilo and Stitch.  Sometime we play on words like our Pirates Pizza Party because my husband was craving pizza.  My son is autistic and by posting the menu in advance, he knows what is coming and has tried many new foods since we started doing this.  He associates it with the movie so it “makes sense”.  Working one on one with each of my kids has been wonderful, and they’ve really been great about cooking. 

There are several ways to plan Disney Dinners.  You can make it simple and pick fun names for simple foods like Playing Card Sandwiches for Alice in Wonderland or “Poisoned” Apple Slices for Snow White.  There are some great preschool ideas online (check out Pinterest).  You can add activities, coloring pages and decorations.  You can even get some Walt Disney World recipes online for your dinners.  Make it your own and have fun!

Here are some of our favorites:

You can follow Carrie on facebook at facebook.com/uponastarcarrie and on Twitter & Instagram @uponastarcarrie.

California Grill Brunch

If you were watching my page last week, you know that my hubby and I had the opportunity to dine at the California Grill's new brunch this past Sunday.  I was so excited, because it was literally opening day for this experience!  Being among the first to take part was amazing.  

California Grill is located atop the Contemporary Resort, and it offers stunning views of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot (in the distance), and the other Magic Kingdom resort areas.  It's also a very popular location for viewing Wishes Fireworks in the evenings.  

So here is an admission: prior to this weekend, I had never eaten here.  Hard to believe, right? It's always been on the list, but we never followed through for one reason or another.  We love a good brunch, though, so this was the perfect time to make a reservation.  

The hostess was so kind and escorted us right up to the lobby.

We were greeted immediately and ushered to our table.

As you can tell by the chopsticks, the California Grill does offer a lot of sushi.  Of course, there are many other delicious offerings as well. Here's a peek at the menu.

The first course is self-serve. There is a beautiful display of all of the above offerings.  I particularly enjoyed the mini lettuce wedge and the self-serve yogurt station, although all of it was amazing!  There is also bread service served with butter and jam delivered right to the table.

Next came the entree.  We both tried the steak, and it was out of this world!  The seasoning and preparation were perfect.  I also heard rave reviews about the sweet potato pancakes.  I guess this means I'll have to go back to try those!

For those so inclined, there is a complimentary cocktail included; there is also a Bloody Mary Bar available for those who would like to choose their own ingredients -- based on the amount of Bloody Marys I saw on tables, I'd say this station will be very popular!

After all of this amazingness, you may think the experience is almost over - au contraire! There is still a luscious dessert tray!  Of course, dessert is only complete with coffee, and the coffee here was amazing.  It was french-pressed, strong, and not bitter at all.  It was the perfect accompaniment to the beautiful cookies and candies.  Disclaimer: I totally forgot to take a picture before we dug in... so this is a midway through re-arrangement of the cookies/chocolates. :) There is also a yummy toffee bark!


Of course, you simply must check out the observation decks at some point throughout your stay.

 The entire experience lasted about an hour and a half, so it's definitely a leisurely experience.  Unlike some of the character breakfasts/brunches, this location was quiet and peaceful.  I should also mention that there was a wonderful piano/string bass duo playing throughout our meal, adding to the ambience.  There were some families there, but by and large the population consisted of adults.  This is a great location for honeymooners and couples.  it would also be a great option for a date day - drop the kiddos off at the Polynesian's Kids' Club (there is a charge for this) and then the adults can enjoy a date before heading out for the day.

I would absolutely go back here! Have you ever dined at the California Grill? Comment below!

Disney Springs Area Transformation

On my recent trip to Walt Disney World, my hubby and I spent some time exploring the newly expanded Disney Springs area.  While it isn't completely finished yet, much of the area known as "The Landing" is largely construction free, and the West Side is coming along beautifully.  The Marketplace has some fresh expansion as well.  

So let's begin with the Landing.  We ate lunch at the Boathouse on this particular visit.  The Boathouse is considered signature dining for dinner, so it requires 2 Table Service credits. In this case, we opted to pay out of pocket.  

The Boathouse is beautiful, and as you might imagine, has a nautical theme.  It also features Amphibious Cars, which you can pay to take a ride in!  They are really cool. Oh, and the blackened salmon BLT was amazing! 

But the Boathouse isn't the only new addition.  Right next door, take a trip into the world of Indiana Jones by visiting Jock's Hangar.  I loved all the subtle nods to the classic Indiana Jones movies. Although I didn't get one, they DO offer really cool looking souvenir mugs!

A spot that I have been really excited about is the new Ganachery, which features an onstage kitchen that produces amazing chocolate!  The assortment was to die for, and the taste ... incredible! I tried the Egyptian Sea Salt Dark Chocolate, and it was everything I hoped it would be!

Although I didn't get to head in and try yet (stay tuned, I'm eating there in March!), Morimoto Asia is now open!

Another great addition (that I missed getting a picture of) is the Gelato Shop.  And if you go there, you must try the Riso! It was a surprisingly yummy treat!

Moving on to the West Side, many things have remained the same, but there were two additions/changes that I was really excited about!  Now it boasts a Star Wars Galactic Outpost as well as a Marvel Super Hero Headquarters!

There is still a lot of construction occurring here, but there are more great shops and restaurants to come!

Of course, the Marketplace is still a great place to shop.  The World of Disney Store is newly expanded, and as always, the Lego Store is a fun place!  It also has my favorite shops, Tren-D and the Co-Op.  Inside the Co-Op, there is a great new men's store, Twenty-Eight and Main.  My hubby really enjoyed shopping here!

I am excited to see how this area continues to transform, and I will definitely keep blogging about the changes as I experience them!  What are you most excited about? Comment below!

Quick Service Dining in Disney: Epcot Edition!

A few weeks ago, I began a series on Quick Service dining around Walt Disney World.  If you missed part 1, you can catch up here.  Today, we will be heading around Epcot and talking about my favorite Quick Service eateries and snack locations!

Epcot has such a huge amount of options for food.  It also has my favorite Quick Service restaurant on all of Walt Disney World - Sunshine Seasons! This place is my favorite for a variety of reasons.  First, it is located in the Land Pavilion, which is my favorite.  It's my happy place, and sometimes during a stressful day I like to envision sitting in the food court area here, looking up at the Seasonal Hot Air Balloons that decorate the ceiling.

Of course, the important part, even more than the atmosphere, is the yummy food!  Sunshine Seasons has a variety of options: Stir Fry, Salads, Sandwiches, Rotisserie Chicken, Soups... and so much more!  The pastry section never ceases to amaze, and you are sure to find something for every palate!  There are also fantastic breakfast selections. 

In all my food pictures, I am ashamed to say that I do not have a single picture of my typical order here -- the salmon over green beans.  It's so amazing! I do have a picture of my husband eating his favorite dessert, though -- a red velvet whoopie pie!

Sometimes, though, when we are ready for lunch, we are back in World Showcase.  On those days, we love to try out the countries.  We have recently come to really enjoy the food at the Liberty Inn (American Adventure Pavilion). 

All American food with options like Hamburgers, Chicken Wraps, S'mores & Apple Pie abound here.  I've always found the food to be tasty, and the lines aren't too bad, either!

Another yummy option is the Cantina de San Angel in the Mexico Pavilion.  This is the quick service area, and there is a beautiful outdoor seating area that overlooks World Showcase Lagoon.  Yet again, no food pictures.  Apparently I am always too hungry to snap a picture before I eat...

I also want to give a shout out to 2 of my favorite snack options here.  First up is Karamel Küche in the Germany Pavilion.  This is Werther's Caramel at its finest, and holy moly is this place good!

My second shout-out goes to France.  Between La Boulangerie Patisserie (pastries & coffee) and Les Glaces des France (ice cream), I don't know if I can pick!

So, there you have it.  Next time you're at Epcot, give one of these options a whirl - and let me know what you think! 

Tasting and Drinking Our Way Around the World: Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival 2015

This week, agent Carrie shares her experience at this year's Food & Wine Festival! If you've always wanted to go but haven't, this post is for you!       ~Jenn

My best friend from high school, Amy, and I have been going to small wine festivals around PA for many years.  As we celebrated our 30th birthdays at a fall wine festival in Yorktown in 2005, we decided we needed to have something greater in order to “look forward” to the big four-oh looming in front of us.  We decided to go to Italy!  We started planning, even buying books and tapes to learn Italian.  We weighed out the pros and cons of going with a tour group vs. renting a convertible and winging it.  Sometime last year it hit us- we have no money saved up for our grand tour of Italy.  Over the last 10 years, life happened- children got older, houses were bought, jobs were lost and new ones started.  That’s when my husband surprised us by saying he was sending us to Italy!...in Epcot for the Food and Wine Festival.  

I started reading and learning about the F&W Festival.  I quickly learned it was not like any of the festivals I’d been to locally -- meaning no free wine tastings.  I was a little worried about how much money we were going to spend on tiny sips of wine.  I started to feel overwhelmed with everything there is to know about the festival.  There are parties, special events, food demonstrations by famous chefs, drink seminars, and so much more.  I wanted it all!! 

There were two small problems with wanting it all…money and time.  The money is pretty self-explanatory.  While the demos and seminars felt completely doable at $15pp for a 45-60 minute session, some of the parties and VIP experiences went for up to $500pp.  Time was the bigger factor.  We were going for a Girl’s Weekend and only 2 days in the parks.  At first, I wanted to spend both days at the festival (Epcot is my favorite park), but then I found out that Amy hadn’t been to the parks since high school. So we HAD to go to the Magic Kingdom for a day.

We made the sad decision to skip the demos and our desired special event - the Italian Regional Food and Wine Pairing Luncheon - because it would take 3 hours up in the middle of our day.  Instead, we planned to eat (and drink) our way around the World.  The Global Marketplace consists of 30 booths that represent countries and refreshments that are placed around the World Showcase.  It’s more than the regular World Showcase pavilions.  Additional countries are represented as well: Poland, South Korea, Greece, and Patagonia are just a couple of examples.  We pre-purchased the Sampler Package that included 8 entitlements for food or drink items in the Global Marketplace, a 20th Anniversary F&W pin, and VIP seating for the Eat to the Beat Concert.

After a beautiful morning riding rides in Future World, we headed to the Festival Center.  It’s the hub of all the comings and goings for F&W.  The demos and seminars happen here.  There is a small area to buy festival merchandise (Dooney and Bourke anyone?!?!)  This is also where you pick up any festival tickets and passes.  While we were there, we got a F&W gift card and loaded it with the max money we were willing to spend at the festival.  This was to ensure we didn’t go overboard.  We also got our “Festival Passport”, which tells you all the Festival booth menus throughout the Global Marketplace.  This passport makes a great souvenir because you can have it stamped at each country’s booth you visit.

The booths have a minimum of 2 main dishes, a dessert, and a beverage.  We decided to order different dishes so we could try each other’s.  In Scotland, I ordered the Haggis with Neeps (rutabaga) and Tatties (potatoes) and Amy had the Seared Sea Scallop with Spinach-Cheddar Gratin and Crispy Bacon.  I thought the haggis was a bit dry, but since I’ve never had haggis, I have nothing to compare it to.  That became the theme of the day…let’s try something we haven’t had before.

Then we went over to Hawaii.  I was disappointed that they were sold out of the Tuna Poke with Seaweed Salad (at 12:15pm!), and they didn’t know when they would have more.  So, we both had the Kalua Pork Sliders with sour Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayo.  I could have had eaten these all day!

Off to Greece!  You can easily find Greece in the Marketplace.  Just follow the cheers of, "Opa!"  When you pick up your drink, shout, "Opa!" and the cheer is quickly returned.  This was one of the best interactions with Cast Members and people at all the booths we visited.  I got a Greek Salad and Amy got the Vegan Moussaka with Vegan Sausage Crumbles.  My salad was good, but small.  The moussaka was also good, but very hot.  It was a 90-degree day, and eating the super-hot food wasn’t going down well, so it didn’t get finished.  I was very impressed with the vegan/vegetarian options all through the marketplace.

Next was the Champagne and Desserts booth.  As a champagne lover, this was my favorite booth.  I really wanted to splurge on a tasting on Dom Pérignon, but at over $20 for 2 ounces, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Darn budget!  Instead, I went with the Moet & Chandon Nectar Impérial instead.  Amy got the Moet & Chandon Impérial to go with her Chocolate Cherry Exposion dessert.  I got the fancy Strawberry-Basil Champagne “Toast”.  Everything was phenomenal!  We immediately planned to go back at the end of the evening to get another glass of bubbly and dessert.

Next stop was the Refreshment Port. This booth is not a country, but it offers one of the best Disney treats around -- the Dole Whip with Coconut Rum!!  We enjoyed this while looking out at the lagoon for a small break.

O Canada!  Cheddar Cheese Soup and Moosehead Lager for me.  Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter and Tawse Vineyard Cabernet Franc for Amy.  The soup and filet are on the menu at Le Cellier, so I was a little disappointed that there was nothing new.  But, I LOVE the Cheddar soup and the beer was light and made an excellent pairing.  The wine was really good and had the right notes to compliment the fillet and earthy mushrooms.  It was one of our favorite booths, and Amy now wishes to go to Le Cellier the next time we are in WDW.

After a shopping excursion and concert in England, we headed over to France.  It was Champagne again for me in the Sparkling Pomegranate Kir.  The Boeuf Bourguignon was so delicious and melted in my mouth.  I was excited to see it on the menu, because I have always wanted to try it.  Amy’s Cabernet Sauvignon was a bit bland, but the Crioissand aux Escargots was the simply amazing.  It was both our favorite of the whole festival.  We then went into the wine shop, Les Vins de France, where we purchased the red and white wine flights.  This was our biggest disappointment of the day.  Each glass was 2oz, and the flight was $18ea.  Given the rich food we had, the wine seemed, well…boring.  We still drank it all while sitting on the edge of the fountain enjoying the beautiful day.

Italy!!!  We finally made it!  We started with some shopping and pictures -- and then it poured!  Have no fear; there is a w(h)ine shop.  While we whined about the rain for a minute, we drank a glass of wine.  Due to the rain, La Bottega Italiana was packed.  We got one glass of Pinot Noir, then got back in line to get another glass of something we couldn’t pronounce (looks like those Italian tapes were a waste of money). We really enjoyed the wine here.  By then, the rain had slowed down a bit so we headed to the festival booth.  I tried the Raviolo alla Caprese (cheese ravioli) and Amy had the Filetto di Pollo Funghi al Marsala (chicken marsala).  We were very disappointed in the Italian booth.  It only had those 2 selections, and they were so dull.  A great part of our time at the booth was talking with a nice couple from Cleveland -- I had to poke a little fun at his Browns shirt.  Turns out “Mrs. Browns Fan” was actually a Steeler fan and grew up 2 blocks from where I currently live.  It’s a small world after all!

With one more entitlement left and 10 minutes until our dinner reservation, we headed to Germany.  They make the best Riesling, and they have four to choose from!   We drank our wine while we headed over to Morocco to try Spice Road Table as our final stop in trying something new.  We had a little wait, so we decided to get henna tattoos that mean “Sisters”.  I really enjoyed the atmosphere and cast members here.  Everyone was very helpful and friendly, and the food was amazing!  We watched Illuminations from here and then headed back.  We were entirely too full (and a bit too giddy) to stop at the Champagne booth again.

We ended up using all of the entitlements and all but a couple dollars on the gift cards.  We were happy we didn’t go over budget.  We were disappointed, though, that we didn’t make it to more of the Global Marketplace.  As we started around the lagoon, our goal was not to miss anything.  The only booth we purposely missed was Poland.  As Pittsburghers, we didn’t think they could do a pierogi better than home -- I mean after all, we have pierogi races at Pirate games.

The Epcot Food and Wine Festival is an EVENT!  We had so much fun the whole day.  Even after an amazing day at the Magic Kingdom, we said we were going to come back and do 2 days at the festival.  We’ll be back for our next milestone birthday celebration!  Forty-One is a big deal…right?

Quick Service Dining in Disney: Magic Kingdom Edition

I think it's well established that I love to eat.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks... I'm no respecter of times.  And when I am on vacation, good food is very important! That being said, I have decided to do a series involving my favorite eateries around the "World". Because there are so many, and in order to keep these posts manageable to read, I'll focus on a specific type of dining in a park/resort.  For me, the Magic Kingdom really epitomizes the Disney experience.  As such, our journey begins here.

When it comes to a Quick Service meals in the Magic Kingdom, the first that comes to mind is the ever-elusive Be Our Guest.  This restaurant is an anomaly in that it changes over from a Quick Service by day to a Table Service by night.  I love this! First of all, the ambience is second to none.  As a little girl who grew up loving Belle and her movie, dining in Beast's Castle truly never ceases to amaze me.  

Trust me, these pictures do NOT do this place justice! But really, the focus of this article is the food.  And Oh. Em. Gee.  It is fantastic! I typically get the carved turkey sandwich with pommes frites (AKA french fries), which is so so good! Dessert varies, but I love anything with the gray stuff on it -- and hubby almost always opts for the Strawberry Shortcake cupcake.  Of course, there are tons of options here, and I'm pleased to say that they are a lot different from traditional fast food.

Aside from the menu, this location is unique as far as how it serves your food.  When you check in/order, you are given a small "rose".  This is actually a handy little device that uses RDFI technology to allow the servers to know where you chose to sit - and they deliver your order right to you! You also get real silverware (as opposed to plastic).  As far as seating choices go, I love dining in the West Wing -- it's so spooky and amazing. 

The trick with this restaurant is that you usually can't just walk in.  Reservations are a must if you really want to dine here.  So, when you need a "walk in" location, one of our favorites is Columbia Harbour House in Liberty Square.

There are so many things I love about this place.  But first, I have to give a shout out to my favorite greeter.  He sings to the passers-by, rings a bell, and welcomes everyone in with a smile.  He is basically a fixture from what I can tell - I think I see him every trip!

The menu is definitely heavy on seafood, which happens to be my favorite.  I love the fried fish and chicken basket when I feel like throwing my diet to the wind, but on my most recent trip, I discovered how amazing the salmon platter was!

The decor inside is nautical, and there are some nods to the Haunted Mansion ... one of my favorite attractions! If you dine here, try to sit on the second floor - there is a great view!

My 3rd go to in the Magic Kingdom is definitely Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Inn.  This has been an annual favorite of mine, partially because of the fixin's bar!  Now a disclaimer: there was just an announcement that this restaurant is slated to receive a new menu.  And I am SUPER excited about it!  Originally I was in love with their taco salad, which was discontinued a couple of years ago.  Now, it is going to be a lot of burritos, rice bowls, and fajitas.  Second to seafood, these are my favorite food groups!

Now for some stunning news -- I apparently have absolutely no food pics from this establishment.  This is likely because I'm starving and gobble down my food before taking a picture when I go here... I promise to rectify this situation on my trip in January!  Hopefully the new menu will be in place by then so I can offer our loyal readers a review.

So, those are my 3 faves in the Magic Kingdom.  Honorable mention goes to the Diamond Horseshoe, which is only open seasonally.


So, what are your go-to Quick Service eateries in the Magic Kingdom? Comment below!