Get your appetite ready, because the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival returns to Walt Disney World Resort July 14th through Nov. 19th!
This is my favorite festival, and it's going to last a whopping 129 days this year!
In addition to the incredible food booths, the Eat to the Beat Concert Series returns this year with both internationally known artists and local bands on the America Gardens stage. The lineup of musicians will be released at a later date.
The family-friendly Remy's Ratatouille Hide & Squeak scavenger hung will return again. Emile's Fromage Montage will also return as a fun way to try delicious cheeses!
Stay tuned for more information about this popular festival as it's released!
The Food & Wine Festival is one of the most popular festivals that Walt Disney World offers every year. To be among the first to get information, join my newsletter! (Linked below!) To book your Walt Disney World vacation during this festival, click here.
Disney Travel News
It's been a big week for Disney travel news! We've heard multiple announcements from Walt Disney World and have even heard a big announcement from Disney Cruise Line. Check it all out below!
Changes Coming to Toy Story Land in 2022
Attention all honorary toys! After enjoying Toy Story Mania!, guests will soon be treated to a new experience. Jessie’s Trading Post will be full of the coolest toys and finest souvenirs.
That's not all! Also coming in 2022 is the previously announced Roundup Rodeo BBQ restaurant! This family-friendly dining experience will offer barbecue fare. It will also offer some fan-favorite Pixar characters! Stay tuned for more details!
New Character Sightings Available on Genie+
The latest update to theDisney Genie+ service has extra...character! Starting Jan. 26, guests who have purchased Genie+ will find select Character Sightings have been added as an option for Lightning Lane entry. Character Sightings will include:
*Attractions with Lightning Lane entrances that are Disney Genie+ and individual purchases are limited in availability, subject to change or closure, may vary by date, are not guaranteed and may not be available at all on the date of visit or at the time you make a selection.
Pixar Day at Sea - Coming in 2023
Disney Cruise Line Guests will be immersed in the stories of their favorite toys, monsters and heroes during the all-new Pixar Day at Sea aboard special sailings on the Disney Fantasy in early 2023.
This day-long celebration on select seven-night voyages will bring beloved Pixar tales exclusively for Disney Cruise Line Guests. These experiences will include themed dining, character encounters, dance parties and a theatrical musical experience.
Contact me for more information about Pixar Day at Sea sailings.
It’s a good day to be a Disney Foodie! Three fan-favorite dining locations are reopening in Walt Disney World, while two more will be expanding their offerings! All of these dining options are available for booking now.
Flying Fish, at Disney’s BoardWalk, will welcome guests back on January 27th. This restaurant is known for their signature seafood dishes, but don't sleep on the steaks! This dining location is just a walk or boat ride away from Epcot.
Reopening February 3rd is The Turf Club Bar and Grill. The Turf Club is located at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. Here, you'll find delicious American flavors in every dish!
Beginning on February 17th, Jiko - The Cooking Place will finally reopen at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge! Here, you can savor the tastes and flavors of African, Indian, and Mediterranean cuisine. This is one of the best places for a fancy date night! (The wine selection is phenomenal!!)
Beginning February 15th at Cape May Cafe, guests can once again feast upon an all-you-care-to-enjoy, buffet breakfast! Complete with Mickey AND Minnie waffles! The buffet will continue for dinner, where it will offer seafood favorites. Cape May Cafe is located at Disney's Beach Club Resort.
Prepare to be transported back to mom's kitchen! (Or grandma's, depending on your age.) We dined at 50's Prime Time Cafe on our most recent trip, and I'm here to break it all down for you!
When you arrive, you'll notice that there's a waiting area that looks just like a living room, complete with couches and a retro TV! There's also the Tune In Lounge, which is a bar full of adult selections! If you can find seating (good luck!) you can also order from the full 50's Prime Time Cafe menu. If you're part of an adults-only party, I strongly recommend being seated in the restaurant. The experience is the big draw for this place, and the restaurant is where the real magic happens!
The atmosphere in this restaurant can't be beat. We were lucky enough to be seated at a TV table for the full experience. Our "cousin" (server) told us that we were allowed to watch a little TV since we'd been good. She handed us a basket of utensils and told us our chore was to set the table ourselves.
The staff here stays in character the entire time. Our cousin played it up with us, since we enjoyed having the full experience. Most other tables around us were really into it, too and played along with the cast members. However, I did notice one table nearby that didn't seem to be as into the theming. Cast Members will follow suit and will let those tables eat their meals without "playing along".
All of your comfort food favorites are here! Whether you're craving pot roast, fried chicken, or the famous meatloaf, this restaurant has it all. We both opted for the meatloaf, which is served with green beans and the most heavenly mashed potatoes. The onion rings and peanut and jelly milkshake are both amazing, too. They also have a great dessert selection, but I've always been so full after my meal that I haven't tried any of them for myself! Adults can also order something from Dad's Liquor Cabinet!
We loved our meal at 50's Prime Time Cafe. We love to eat on our Disney trips, and this definitely checked all of the boxes for us. Is it right for your family?
This is a must-dine if:
You may want to pass, please if:
Disney Dining Review: Via Napoli
"In Napoli where love is king, when boy meets girl, here's what they say."
It's definitely "amore" at first sight at Via Napoli. This restaurant and pizzeria is the perfect tour of Southern Italy, right in the heart of EPCOT!
We visited Via Napoli in September for an early dinner. After just a few hours in EPCOT, we were already hot, thirsty, and had worked up a bit of an appetite. After checking in, we were seated right away.
The restaurant is actually much larger than it looks, but we were fortunate to sit inside with a perfect view of the wood burning ovens. If you haven't visited Via Napoli, it's worth a reservation just to check these out! The ovens are named after the 3 active volcanoes in Italy: Mount Etna, Mount Vesuvius, and Stromboli.
Via Napoli features traditional Neapolitan pizza. The thin-crust pizzas are made with fresh mozzarella cheese, San Marzano tomatoes and real Caputo flour imported from Southern Italy. (Water for the dough is even sourced from a spring similar to Italy's Campania region!) Restaurateur Nick Valenti actually spent time in Naples studying the art of dough, crust, sauce and oven temperatures before creating the menu at Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria. Talk about attention to detail!
We decided to share a Piccante pizza, and added pepperoni at the suggestion of our waitress. It. Was. Heavenly. I'm self-admittedly not a pepperoni pizza girl, but this was perfect!
(On previous trips, I've also enjoyed the prosciutto e melone and the margherita pizzas. I've also had the chance to try their heavenly sangrias and tiramisu!)
I strongly recommend Via Napoli to guests of all ages and groups of all sizes. They are easily able to accommodate large groups. (I once personally visited with a group of 19!) Via Napoli has a kid-pleasing menu, very shareable pizzas, a wide variety of drinks, and is a lovely reprieve from the parks. Find it at the back of the Italy pavilion.
Advanced Dining Reservations are recommended for Via Napoli. All of my clients receive my personalized dining recommendations. Click here to be added as a concierge-level client!
Walt Disney World Turns 50!
Walt Disney World is officially 50 years old!
I was fortunate enough to be in Magic Kingdom on its actual 50th anniversary. While it was magical and emotional, it was also crowded. Read along to find out how I skipped all of those crazy lines and what I did instead!
I've been planning this trip for a long time. I predicted that the crowd situation would likely look intense, and I was right. However, what I wasn't prepared for were where the crowds actually were.
I personally prefer my "merch" in the forms of things I can use in my daily life. (Water bottles, coffee mugs, hoodies, etc.) After over 20 personal trips over the last 31 years, I've learned what I use the most. Anyway, I never got super into things like popcorn buckets, pins (I do have a few), or other items that I otherwise can't use in my daily life.
If you saw the INTENSE lines on the news, TikTok, IG, etc., those were lines for merchandise and popcorn buckets. No joke. As of 8:15 a.m., the Emporium and Main Street Confectionary were literally full for the day and were not accepting anyone else into their virtual spots. With those people in lines for merch, as well as people who didn't mobile order food in advance (more on that soon), lines for rides were crazy short all day.
While most people were extremely polite, I sadly saw some very ugly behavior on October 1st, too. Literally fighting over merchandise, folks screaming at Cast Members, complaining about having to wait for food, you name it. Please, no matter where or when you're traveling, remember to BE KIND.
What I Ate
I pre-ordered our breakfast, dinner, and snacks at 5:30 a.m. (We had table service lunch reservations.) While that may sound extreme, I mentally thanked myself for that all day long. I was also sure to hydrate constantly, and carried snacks in my park bag, just in case! (If you're wondering what's in my park bags, get my packing list here!)
Breakfast - Fresh fruit waffle sandwich and French Vanilla Iced Coffee (Sleepy Hollow)
Lunch - All-You-Care-to-Enjoy platter and 2 adult beverages (Liberty Tree Tavern)
Snack - Pineapple Dole Whip cup (Aloha Isle)
Dinner - 1971 Meal (Casey's Corner)
One of the highlights of my day was seeing absolute legend Randy Morris play at Casey's Corner! Randy started as a pianist at Casey's Corner (then called Coke Corner) back at the park opening in 1971. He's since retired, but returned on the 50th to play again! It was incredible, and I'm getting emotional just typing about it!
What I Did
While these aren't the order we rode them in, we experienced:
I was at Magic Kingdom on September 29th for the last-ever Happily Ever After, and I thought that surely nothing could top that show. This one absolutely did.
Stunning. Absolutely stunning. This show made my jaw drop, gave me goosebumps, and made me laugh, cry, and sing along. The theme song, "You Are The Magic", is one of the best, most magical pieces written for a Disney attraction ever. This show is a must, MUST see. I was so glad to get up close to the Castle (we were in front of the hub grass) for the premiere, but next time I definitely want to watch from Main Street USA.
Did you know that there are projections along Main Street during this show?? Depending on where you watch, you'll have a completely different experience!
This was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I'm so incredibly thrilled that I was there to experience it. The heat, the crowds, the exhaustion...they were all well worth it.
The World's Most Magical Celebration lasts for 18 months, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to experience everything that the 50th Anniversary has in store, including cavalcades, nighttime spectaculars, shows, and merchandise (did I mention that the infamous Starbucks cup that people were punching each other over is already back in stock???? LOL!!)
There is tons of fun, excitement, and magic to be had. If your trip isn't on the books yet, contact me to get started or schedule a complimentary vacation consultation to get more information!
What I Wore
I opted not to do a DisneyBound for the 50th, and instead relied on a few of my tried and true favorites. I wore a pink version of my favorite FunkyMonkey park sandals, a pink "bunny ear" scrunchie at the bottom of my Dutch braid, rose gold Mickey earrings, (mine were "Hey June" brand and a gift from a friend, but I've linked something similar), and my favorite Disney Parks Attractions Loungefly mini-backpack. You can find each of these right on Amazon and can shop them from these links or from the photos below!
New & Returning Dessert Parties and Dinner Packages at Walt Disney World Resort
Looking for a special way to celebrate the fireworks at Walt Disney World? Now you can choose from FIVE dessert parties and TWO dinner packages!
From sweet treats to international fare, there’s no shortage of options for making the most of the nighttime spectacular experience. To make your evenings even more magical, a new lineup of Appetizing Occasions will be returning just in time for “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.”
Disney Enchantment, a brand-new, dazzling nighttime fireworks spectacular, debuts October 1st at Magic Kingdom. To enrich the experience of this immersive show, there’s a full menu of dessert party options that include viewing locations from the heart of the park to the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Learn more about Disney Enchantment here.
Celebration at the Top: 50th Flavors and Fireworks at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
$129 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Dress code requirements apply.
Beginning October 2nd, a sophisticated evening awaits you at this event, where you'll be welcomed to the private Sonoma and Napa Rooms at California Grill to sample specialty drinks, canapes, sushi and small plates. After an elevated cocktail hour, step outside to the observation deck on the 15th floor for a unique viewpoint of Disney Enchantment, complete with the synchronized music. The event continues back inside after the show with petit-fours, cordials and coffee.
At Magic Kingdom Park, three dessert party options put you right in the middle of the magic to view Disney Enchantment. Each event includes 50th anniversary-themed delights at different times throughout the evening at Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant. These events will begin on October 3, 2021.
Each of these 3 parties will include 50th anniversary-themed desserts, a variety of cheeses, and drink selections, including beer and wine for anyone ages 21+
As I previously shared, Disney's Ferrytale Fireworks: A Sparkling Dessert Cruise begins September 18th. Reservations are available now. On select Wednesday and Saturday nights. set sail on an iconic ferryboat for a magical evening on the Seven Seas Lagoon. Once onboard, you can enjoy bite-size signature sweets including build-your-own mousse, key lime tarts, cupcakes and specialty beverages. (Beverages both with and without alcohol are available.)
Kids can participate in an ultraviolet scavenger hunt. During the cruise, you'll get to experience observe the Magic Kingdom fireworks accompanied by stunning water views.
$99 for adults and $69 for children ages 3 to 9 (tax and gratuity included)
Harmonious, one of the largest nighttime spectaculars ever created for Disney Parks, will light the EPCOT's World Showcase Lagoon beginning October 1st.
With choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics and lasers in a 360-degree view, Harmonious shows how Disney music and stories have the power to bring people from all around the world together. To celebrate there are two new package options available at World Showcase restaurants. Both of these experiences will be available October 1, 2021.
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New dining experiences are coming to Disney’s Contemporary Resort for “The World’s Most Magical Celebration!”
Replacing The Wave at Disney's Contemporary Resort, Steakhouse 71 will be a new casual-themed dining concept that gets its name from the resort’s opening year and will be open in time for the celebration.
Upstairs at California Grill, a new dining experience will also be available later this year, featuring a limited-time menu with items inspired by the restaurant’s history.
While these experiences are not yet available for reservations, I will be sharing more information as it becomes available! You can read more about Disney's Contemporary Resort here and learn more about the new Incredible rooms here!
One of my all-time favorite restaurants, Boma - Flavors of Africa is reopening Friday, August 20th. Reservations will be available August 18th.
If that wasn't exciting enough...it's been announced that it will reopen as a BUFFET! This is a huge deal because this is the first time Disney's reopened a buffet since March 2020!
Boma is unique because it not only offers typical breakfast and dinner fare, but also has completely unique African dishes.
Breakfast offerings include creamy pap, turkey bobotie, pancakes, waffles, deviled eggs with salmon, and delicious freshly baked items from the Boma bakery.
At dinner, the rotisserie area will offer pork ribs, salmon, African-spiced strip loin, Durban rotisserie chicken, and lamb bobotie. The kid’s cooking pod will have pasta and meatballs, mac n’ cheese, and chicken bites. The rotating selection of soups, stews, and chowders are back, as well as tasty salads like berbere chickpea salad and North African cauliflower salad. For dessert, enjoy delicious Zebra Domes (YUM!!!!!!!) and a variety of other sweet treats.
Boma is located at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
More Dining Options Returning!
Calling all foodies! Disney has announced the reopening of four dining locations!
2 quick-service restaurants and 2 table service restaurants are returning in August. Keep reading to learn everything we know about the reopening of these fan-favorites.
Beginning August 2nd, Pizzafari at Animal Kingdom will reopen. This quick-service location offers pizza (of course!) but you'll also find chicken parm sandwich, a green and grains salad, and specialty cupcakes and beverages!
Beginning August 5th, Columbia Harbour House at Magic Kingdom will reopen again! Seafood favorites are back, including the Lobster Roll and Trio Platter, as well as chicken strips, hushpuppies, the Lighthouse Sandwich (my personal favorite!!!!), and the Harbour Salad.
Looking for a sit-down dining experience? 2 popular locations are also reopening!
Yachtsman Steakhouse, at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, reopens August 5, 2021, with booking available July 29th. In addition to their signature steaks and chops, the Chilled Admiral’s Tower for Two is back as well as the creamy Lobster Bisque and the Yachtsman’s Chocolate Cake for Two.
Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood, located at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort will also reopen August 5, 2021, with booking also available July 29th. Here, you'll sample small plates and dishes inspired by the flavors of Spain. The signature Chuletón Bone-in Rib Eye is on the menu along with Char-grilled Steak, Rioja-braised Chicken, and “Café con Leche” Choux.
All of my clients receive my professional dining recommendations and important details about booking advanced dining reservations. To become one of my concierge clients, contact me!