02 October 2011

The Food and Wine Festival @ Epcot

Epcot eats and Haunted Mansion treats 

Date: Friday, September 30, 2011, 1:45pm EDT
epcot food wine pork slider
Walt Disney Co.
Pork sliders are among the goodies at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.

Info Courtesy of Anjali Fluker
Senior Staff Writer - Orlando Business Journal
I have been to this Festival many times and it is one of my all time favorites. Not only because the food is great and you get to try so many different types of foods but, the whole atmosphere of one big fiesta. You can try a small sample of foods without being over powered by eating a huge meal at each stop/country. The food and the drinks are something everyone should experience and yes you learn about the cuisine too, perhaps how it is made and the many different cultures around the world.
~~Mouse Fan Diane 

A food and wine lover's paradise awaits you this fall at Epcot Theme Park with the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, held September 30 to November 13, 2011.

Remember that feeling as a kid when you were at Walt Disney World  after dark, sleepiness was starting to wash over you and you were doing your best to fight it off because you didn’t want the good times to end? YES....
Well, two special events — one at Epcot and one at the Magic Kindgom — took me back to those days on the evening of Sept. 29.
Hubby and I started off the evening at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival’s First Bites Opening Reception, an elegant yet casual gathering of foodies and chefs at the Festival Welcome Center, formerly the Wonders of Life pavilion at Epcot. The event served as a sneak peek into the much-anticipated festival, which runs Sept. 30-Nov. 15, and included samples of dishes and spirits that will be featured during the festival as well as chef demonstrations — including celebrity pastry Chef Keegan Gerhard, a judge on the Food Network Challenge TV show — and beverage seminars.
After checking out the treats and grabbing a small bag of green cotton candy for the road, we headed out a little early to make our second event: the first-ever Disney Parks Blog Trick or Meet-up, which later became known as the “Treat-Up.” The event was organized by Disney’s social media team and was a special treat for Haunted Mansion enthusiasts.
Attendees were encouraged to come in costume, and the result was a fabulous collection of ghouls, ghosts, Ghostbusters, heros, Disney characters, villains, a hot dog and even two “hitch-hiking ghosts,” inspired by the ride itself. The Flukers came as a couple that just attended First Bites. Original. Yeah. I know.
Anyhow, the gathering began in the parking lot of the Blizzard Beach water park, complete with a DJ spinning music and sharing Disney trivia with the crowd. I’ll admit I call myself a Disney nerd, but some of these guests put me to shame with their knowledge of the parks.
Once 9 p.m. hit, we were taken by bus to one of the back entrances of the Magic Kingdom, behind Splash Mountain, walked through a section of Frontierland into Liberty Square and filed into the Hall of Presidents, where the social media team was introduced — one member dressed as a turkey leg — and the crowd had a short presentation on the history of the Haunted Mansion ride as well as the most recent updates by author and former Disney Imagineer, Jason Surrell. Mickey and Minnie even made an appearance dressed in Colonial-era gear, serving as escorts to the presenters.
After the presentation, we were let loose in Liberty Square, where cast members handed out Halloween treats in goodie bags, Donald and Daisy were available for photos and treat stations were set up — complete with chocolate-dipped, Mickey-shaped Rice Krispies treats.
A good portion of us headed straight to the Haunted Mansion, where we were introduced to the aforementioned updates. The queue for the ride now includes a real live “ghost,” who talks with guests. Ours was Carlotta, who kept guests entertained in a great interactive way. Then, groups of 25 were paraded through the queue’s new cemetery, where Imagineer Pete Carsillo, show designer and art director, explained to us many of the newest hands-on features, demonstrating how themes from within the ride were reintroduced to guests, along with some ideas from the past that didn’t make it into the ride.
Then, the highlight: a ride on the Haunted Mansion, which for nostalgic reasons remains one of my favorite rides at the parks. And there were some new additions to the ride that gave us a thrill! No spoilers, tho ... you’ll have to see it for yourself.
The night ended with a special ride-through by the Headless Horseman, and then we trooped back to the buses to head to our cars.
Despite it being a long night — we made it home after 1 a.m. — I would gladly repeat the experience and hope Disney’s social media team brings it back.

Would you attend an event like this? Leave a comment below or e-mail me.


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