A couple of weeks ago Bonnie & I made our way to the World for an abbreviated weekend to finally check out the Frozen festivities at the Studios. And of course, there were some eats (and drinks) along the way…


Must be fun! The sign says so…

You’ve likely seen all about the Summer Frozen Fun by now, so I won’t recount all the goings on…

The ladies love Kristoff!

The ladies love Kristoff!

We did happen to catch the parade as it was exiting the park near Star Tours (which is not a bad place to try and see it from), it was cute and actually better than expected.

And speaking of better than expected, I must admit I really did enjoy the Frozen Sing-Along (although like pretty much all the males in the audience, I didn’t do too much singing-along…). There are a couple of fun hosts in addition to Anna and Elsa, and it’s a blast to just watch the kids (and some adults as well) in the crowd who all seemed to be really getting into it!

I didn’t think too much of the Trading Post area with the skating rink and snow play area, but Bonnie and Mama Ginny (who along with her other half Papa Harry had joined us for the day) really though it was done well.


Which shall we choose???

And of course there was lots of merch and Frozen-themed eats to be had…


All Olaf, all the time (okay, it’s almost all Olaf…)

In several places you could get a variety of baked goods and sweets. Many, if not most, were Olaf-centric, and while they were all pretty cute, they seemed quite pricey (not that I should be surprised…).


Do some look like he’s screaming in fear of being eaten?

The Olaf cake pop here for example would be about two bites-worth (at least for an average adult, who I assume is not the primary target) for $4.19, or about $2.10 per bite…

Below the Olaf pops you can also see some Snowballs… we’ll come back to those later…

Buffalo Nuggets

Buffalo Nuggets

For lunch we slid into the Backlot Express. New to the menu since we’d been there last (which had been a while) were Buffalo Chicken Nuggets, which Harry and I both ordered. They weren’t bad at all – Disney’s nuggets are usually pretty good – and the basic Buffalo sauce was actually a bit hotter than I had expected. You can get both Ranch and Blue Cheese dressing at the condiment area, so there were dipping options for the chicken, even though there wasn’t any celery or other cruchy-things served with the nuggets (fries come on the side, I guess you could have gotten a side of carrot sticks instead to take the place of the traditional celery, but just a few sticks of those thrown on the side would have been nice, and for nine bucks or thereabouts I’m sure it wouldn’t really kill their bottom line).

Bonnie and Virginia both went with the old standby Grilled Veggie Sandwich (which I think is consistently one of the better sandwich options available in several locations around property).

Compare and contrast...

Compare and contrast…

Virginia made the genius move to order the childs version and the sandwich came at about two-thirds the size of the full version (you may not be able to tell that from the pic about due to the perspective). There was a smaller side of fries (and even my spud-loving wife admitted that she didn’t need to eat the full adult side of fries and the smaller version would have filled her fried potato cravings) along with a cookie and small bottled water (or milk if you want). It was plenty of food and for $5.99 a really good deal. Likewise, if two people both want the same sandwich, the full version is plenty big enough to split if you’re not starving…

Later in the afternoon our friends left us to our own devices, and we took that time to head back to our resort and relax a bit and have a bite to eat before coming back to the Studios for the Frozen fireworks later that night.

Outside the resort (we were staying the night at the Villas at Wilderness Lodge) near the bus stop I noticed a small sign with a QR code on it…

Give it a try...

Give it a try…

when I scanned the code with my phone it immediately went to the info and online booking engine for the signature restaurant at the resort, Artist Point. This is a simple and great idea by Disney, and I’m assuming there are also in place at other resorts (anyone seen them?). I also assume that they only put these out when they know that the restaurants in the resort are not full and could use some seats filled…

Territory Lounge Menu

Territory Lounge Menu

In spite of the temptation of Artist Point, we had planned to have some eats at one of our favorite places on property, the Territory Lounge. This cozy and nicely-themed room is right next to Artist Point. With comfy seating, a nice atmosphere and good, casual service I’m always surprised that this place is rarely crowded. And with the food coming from the kitchen next door, it has some of the best “bar food” you’ll find anywhere in the World.


Ummm… Beer

And in addition to the food, it has a real decent selection of craft beers…


More beer…

so much so that I had to try more than one…

Literally everything on the menu sounded good to us, and we debated starting with two items, but we decided to share the fondue to begin with and if we were still hungry after that we’d try something else.


Fondue and beverages

The melty cheese was even better than we expected and we happily dipped the variety of breads into the pot. A couple of types of apples were also good with the cheese, but the best were the (oh-too-few) figs! We finished it off (with Bonnie debating about licking the bowl) and sadly had no more room for anything else on this visit.

We made our way back to the Studios and after an eerie visit to the Hollywood Tower Hotel, we decided to stake out a spot for the fireworks. By now Bonnie wanted a bit of something sweet so she went to get into line at Sweet Spells to see if any of the sweet snacks met her approval (did I mention the word sweet yet?). While she did this I got into a not-overly-long-but-incredibly-slow-moving line at the outdoor bar by the Brown Derby to try out one of the Frozen-themed specialty cocktails. After what seemed like an eternity without the line making much progress, I actually bailed out deciding that an over-priced cocktail wasn’t in the cards for me that night (yes, Dear Dedicated Readers, I of all people, passed on a margarita…).

As I met back up with Bonnie I found that she had selected a Snowball: a white sugar-coated Rice Crispie treat. We made our way towards the front of the park to be able to make a quick getaway after the fireworks and plopped our rears down on the curb to enjoy our sweet snack before the evenings pyrotechnics.

Well… “enjoy” wasn’t exactly what we did with the not-so-snowy snowball…  The sugar coating surrounding the crispies was so thick and hard that Bonnie was afraid she’d break a tooth getting through it! I tested the strength of my bridge and forced my artificial incisors into the rigid crust finally making my way to the insides. The rice cereal inside was, like the outside, overly sweet as to be actually unpleasant… so I think this will be the last snowball we try… now to check my insulin levels…

Oh yeah, the fireworks were great! Not quite to the level of the ones we saw at last years villains event in the Studios, but well worth braving the crowds for!


New Mickey Halloween Popcorn Bucket

The following day we took a boat over to the Magic Kingdom to check out the newly added waffle fries options at the Golden Oak Outpost.

Like we’d noticed at the gift shop at Wilderness Lodge, the Halloween merchandise was in full push mode in the Kingdom despite it still being August on this visit. I’m not usually a big fan of paying extra for the souvenir popcorn containers, but we both agreed that the new Haunted Mansion inspired Mickey bucket was awfully cute…

Golden Oak Outpost

Golden Oak Outpost

We eventually made it to the Outpost in Frontierland. Situated across the walkway from Pecos Bills, this location has gone through a few permutations since the exit of the McDonald’s fries several years ago, and just recently a potato-heavy bill of fare had begun to be offered.

Outpost Menu

Outpost Menu

We tried the first two options on the menu: Brown Gravy and Cheese Waffle Fries and the BLT Waffle Fries.

Waffle Fries

Waffle Fries!

The Gravy and Cheese Fries are a take on the traditional Canadian treat of Poutine, while the BLT version is somewhat reminiscent of the once-popular Figaro Fries that were served at Pinocchio Village Haus in Fantasyland.

The topped fries were not-quite-as-large-as-you’d-like for $5.99 each, but still after sharing the two servings we were sated for lunchtime. We really liked both versions (of the two I’d say I preferred the gravy option… when in doubt always choose gravy…) and are looking forward to coming back to try some of the other spudly items from the menu.

Well, that was it for our dining adventures during the abbreviated weekend at the World, hope you enjoyed coming along!

As always, we’re back to the kitchen, and soon we’ll be back to the World – I hear there is a little event coming up soon at Epcot…

See you soon!

If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to “like” and “share”!


If you read the recent post “It was like a Dream…” (and if you didn’t, why the heck not?), you know that Miss Bonnie and I recently tied the knot and right after went on a cruise on the Disney Dream.

Seeing that we were accompanied on the cruise by over forty of our family and friends, we considered our time on the Dream not as our honeymoon but more of an “extended reception”.

So the weekend after we decided to have a bit more “alone time” and where else would you go to be alone but to Walt Disney World?

Since we hadn’t had an opportunity to check out much of the the holiday decor and such around the parks this year we wanted to spend some time doing that, and of course along the way there were some eats and drinks… so let’s take a look back at the events of our Honeymoon Weekend at the World (well, at least some of the events…).

We checked into our resort Friday afternoon and soon made our way to the Studios to take in the Osborne Lights (and see if we could find that damn purple cat…). Trying to decide where our first food stop would be Bonnie had the genius suggestion that we try and check out the new Brown Derby Lounge.

An outdoor area adjacent to the Brown Derby restaurant, this venue had opened only about a month earlier and had been getting great reviews, so we were eager to give it a try. As luck would have it, there was a small table for two just calling our names as we walked up, so we quickly sat down and perused the menu.

Champagne Flight and Flavored Margarita Flight

Champagne Flight and Flavored Margarita Flight

The main attraction here is a “small plates” menu with a limited but interesting variety of eats, and in case you really need an adult beverage (and who doesn’t?), several beverage flights. There is also a menu of specialty cocktails and a pretty good selection of wines by the glass.

We each started with a flight (and it seems now that you can hardly go anywhere on property now without being offered a flight of some beverage), Bonnie having the Champagne Flight (with Taittinger Brut, Fairy Tale Cuvee and  Rosa Regale) while I selected the “Citizens Take Flight” which was three margaritas (mango, pomegranate and “derby”) each named after one of the Citizens of Hollywood. All were quite good, but I think the “Melvin Macheezmo” (mango) was my favorite of the three. These drinks don’t appear on the menu of speciality cocktails, but I did ask the bartender and he said they would gladly make a full size version of any of them.

Other flights available include martini (with these drinks also named after some of the Citizens of Hollywood), Scotch, Grand Marnier, and a couple of wine flights (one red and one white).

Artisanal Cheeses - Champignon brie, Midnight Moon goat cheese and Flora Nelle blue cheese served with raisins on the vine, pear jelly, spiced pecans, and crostini

Artisanal Cheeses: Champignon Brie, Midnight Moon Goat Cheese and Flora Nelle Blue Cheese served with various accompaniments

Bonnie needed her cheese-fix satiated so we started with the Artisanal Cheese plate – a nice selection of three cheeses with accompaniments to enhance their flavors. The portions could have been a bit bigger, but we really enjoyed this, especially the Midnight Moon.

Derby Sliders - Wagyu beef with cognac-mustard aioli, smoked gouda cheese, bacon and avocado, AND house-made chorizo with chipotle mayo, manchego cheese, pickles and crispy onions Brown Derby Lounge Disney's Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

Derby Sliders:  one Chorizo with chipotle mayonnaise, manchego cheese, crispy onions and pickles and one Wagyu Beef with cognac-mustard aioli, smoked gouda cheese, bacon and avocado

For our “meatier” selection we shared the Derby Sliders, two decent-sized mini-burgers. Served with good freshly made chips, one of the sliders was Wagyu beef while the other was a spicy Chorizo sausage. Both were topped off with some tasty goodies and we really liked both of these – Bonnie preferred the beef while I favored the Chorizo.

We had a fun time and there are other things on the menu here we want to try, so I’m sure we’ll be back…

As we finished up eating we were joined by a friend (who’s quite the character) to view the lights (and yes, we found the not-so-well-hidden-this-year purple cat!).

Not the cat...

Not the cat…

After a bit of time with the dancing lights we hightailed if over to Epcot for a quick beverage before viewing Illuminations with the spectacular holiday tag at the end.


Afterwards we decided to call it a night, bade farewell to our friend and made our way back to our resort.

We were staying at the Bonnet Creek Hilton (which is a beautiful resort that we quite like, but the transportation sucks if you’re going to the parks…), and when we returned to the room we were greeted with a pleasant surprise from the nice folks at the Hilton – a chilled bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries!

And yes, we were making no secret of our recent nuptials, wearing our “Wedding Ears” and “Just Married” buttons that we got on the cruise (they no longer have those buttons at the parks or resorts BTW)… milking it for all it was worth…


Saturday we started where we had left off the night before – in Epcot to check out the holiday decorations and some special food and beverage selections that were being offered during the holiday season.

Holiday Menu at Promenade Refreshments

Holiday Menu at Promenade Refreshments

At Promenade Refreshments in the World Showcase they were cooking up a couple of fresh-made waffles and we tried the “Savory Seasonal” option.

Seasonal Savory Waffle

Savory Seasonal Waffle

The waffles were being made to order, so each took several minutes to serve… also the cast members seemed to be having a bit of an issue getting our waffle to cook properly, so the waffle didn’t look too pretty (nor was it firm enough to pick the thing up and eat like a sandwich, which I think at some point was the idea of the thing…), but the stuffing-waffle tasted pretty good, and when it was filled with the turkey and cranberry sauce you had your typical Thanksgiving/Christmas-dinner-next-day-lefover-sandwich flavors on the plate. This was a big portion (plenty enough for us to share), and at $6.39 one of the best values you’ll ever find at Disney.

As you can see in the pic above, much like the passport at Food & Wine, there was a “Holiday Passport” booklet highlighting the special items around Epcot for the holiday season (and yes, there were special ink stamps of ornaments for the holiday version).

Inside of the Holiday Passport with stamp from Promenade Refreshments

Inside of the Holiday Passport with stamp from Promenade Refreshments

There were a few new holiday decorations this year…


the courtyard in France was sporting several large “ornaments” with miniature winter/holiday scenes from Paris inside – very cool! It wasn’t a big huge deal, but I really liked these!

I always enjoy the holiday storytellers around World Showcase…

Père Noël

Père Noël

we didn’t get to see many of them this go-round, but we had fun watching the ones we got to see.

We’ve been watching the construction progress in Morocco for a while hoping that the new Spice Road table restaurant would magically be open for us one day…

Spice Road Table

Spice Road Table

but this would not be the day… maybe Marathon weekend?


In Japan the Kabuki Cafe was serving up a savory treat…

Teriyaki Chicken Kaarage

Teriyaki Chicken Karaage

crispy fried boneless chicken topped with a sweet teriyaki sauce… nothing amazing, but pretty good… and nothing says “holidays” to me like Japanese fried chicken!

Sugar and Spice Bake Shop

Sugar and Spice Bake Shop

The Sugar and Spice Bake Shop in the American Adventure offered up several baked goods along with some hot and cold beverages.

Sugar and Spice Bake Shop Menu

Sugar and Spice Bake Shop Menu

Nearby in Italy, the Buona Festa booth had an extensive listing of alcoholic body-additives.

Buona Festa

Buona Festa

Buona Festa Bill of Fare

Buona Festa Bill of Fare


As usual, my favorite little village in Germany was decked out for the holidays…


even some of the train engines were adorned with Christmas finery.



Elsewhere in Germany, Christkindlmarkt had several caramel-based concoctions…

Christkindlmarkt oddly priced menu

Christkindlmarkt (oddly priced) menu

and another good selection of wines and other adult beverages. Bonnie’s favorite item of the day was from here…

Hot Salted Caramel Drink and Caramel Mocha Iced Coffee Drink

Hot Salted Caramel Drink and Caramel Mocha Iced Coffee Drink

the Hot Salted Caramel Drink… the Caramel Mocha Iced Coffee was pretty good, but the Hot Salted Caramel was, well, wow… rich, creamy-tasting (without any cream)… I think if Bonnie could have married this drink, she would have divorced me then and there to wed this glass of sweet & salty goodness!


We made one more holiday food stop before we exited Epcot.

Sweet Tamales

Sweet Tamales

The quick service location in Mexico was serving a sweet version of tamales…

Mmmm... guava...

Mmmm… guava…

Filled with guava paste, the slightly sweet masa was drizzled with a fruity sauce and was a great, sweet end to our Epcot eats. Neither of us was expecting much from this, but we both loved it!


From Epcot we boarded the monorail to head to the Magic Kingdom.


The Magic Kingdom, and especially Main Street, always look great for the holidays!

Stay classy, Dapper Dans...

Stay classy, Dapper Dans…

After watching a great performance of holiday songs by the Dapper Dans, we headed to Adventureland to take a ride on the  Jingle Cruise…


this simple holiday overlay of the Jungle Cruise was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed it…


I think some people were expecting much more and were disappointed with it, but we both thought it was great. I’m hoping they do more special holiday transformations like this in the future (and we do have some ideas… we’re just waiting for Imagineering to call…).



We stayed around MK for that evenings holiday Castle Lighting…



and no, we didn’t have anything to eat at the Magic Kingdom that day (yes, I know this is supposed to be a Weekend Eats edition, but I guess it’s also part Odds & Ends…), but we soon made up for it by hopping on the monorail over to the Polynesian resort…


where we quickly made our way to one of our favorite spots, the Kona Island Sushi Bar.

Located in the Poly lobby outside the Kona Cafe, this venue serves coffee and pastries during the day, but in the evening it serves up Island-styled sushi.

Caterpillar Roll

Caterpillar Roll

A look inside the Caterpillar Roll

A look inside the Caterpillar Roll

You can also order from the full Kona Cafe menu (and likewise you can order from the sushi menu if dining at Kona). The sushi chefs actually used to make the food inside the “Island”, but now ply their trade unseen in the kitchen, sadly taking away a bit of the show and fun from this locale.

Pork and Vegetable Pot Stickers

Pork and Vegetable Pot Stickers

We chose the Pot Stickers from the regular Kona menu (pork and vegetable dumplings topped with a creamy ginger-soy sauce – pretty good but the duck pot stickers they used to serve here were better); the cute Caterpillar Roll (an inside out tuna roll with shrimp salad and topped with avocado); and arguably our single favorite item served on property, the Tuna Poke (a traditional Hawaiian poke salad of seasoned, diced tuna).

Tuna Poke

Tuna Poke

At the end of our meal our server (who did a great job, especially on what was a very busy and hectic night at Kona) brought us a couple of congratulatory cupcakes – there were nothing really special taste-wise, but still it was a nice touch.

iphone 729

So Dear Dedicated Readers, that about wraps up the events of our Honeymoon weekend (or at least the events I’m going to tell you about)… next we’re off to the World for Marathon Weekend… I’m sure we’ll be eating something there… stay tuned…

As always, back to the kitchen… see you soon!

WDW Odds & Ends

June 16, 2013

Let’s just call this the “Random-Stuff-From-The-Past-Couple-Of-Months” Edition of Odds & Ends….

Rapunzel's Tower in the Magic Kingdom

Rapunzel’s Tower in the Magic Kingdom

nothing that’s too new or news-worthy, but some food, some drink, and some (hopefully) fun stuff from around the parks… so let’s get started!

"Tangled" Themed Restrooms in the Magic Kingdom

“Tangled” Themed Restrooms in the Magic Kingdom

If you’ve felt Nature Calling while you’ve been in the Magic Kingdom recently you may have visited the new “Tangled” inspired facilities in Fantasyland near Small World.

Hummm... what's inside that satchel???

Hummm… what’s inside that satchel???

This is without a doubt the best-themed toilet facilities ever at Disney… even if you don’t need to go, it’s worth the visit for the details…


Posters for many of the Snuggly Duckling regulars adorn the exterior walls…


And inside the gents room there are wanted posters…


and there is a very cool detail from the movie on Flynn Rider’s wanted poster:

"They never get the nose right!"

“They never get the nose right!”

Above the sinks it looks like Rapunzel has left a cast-iron warning…

Be sure to remember to wash those hands boys!

Be sure to remember to wash those hands boys!

In the ladies, Rapunzel has painted the ceiling…

Of course, Miss Bonnie took this pic, not me...

Of course, Miss Bonnie took this pic, not me…

There is also a new seating area nearby…

which has some semi-hidden charging stations for your smart phones (or other idevice)…


Charge me up!

Charge me up!

and while you wait for the electrons to flow, your little ones (or you) can hunt for Pascal and some of some of his reptilian pals…



All in all an incredible example of Imagineering, and all (at least for now…) just for a bathroom…

For a few weeks this spring Annual Passholders were allowed to exchange their current cards for the new hard plastic ones that contain an RFID chip. This took place in the Odyssey building in Epcot…

Testing the new card for park entrance

Testing the new card for park entrance

We have a winner!

We have a winner!

During that time there were castmembers on hand to answer questions about the new Magic Bands and the upcoming MyMagic+.

Look at my band...

Look at my band!

Cast with the Mickeyhead-in-a-Circle logo on their shirts have been showing up in the parks and will be the go-to people for questions about MyMagic+.

Most of the MyMagic+ castmembers aren't as fuzzy in real life as this one...

Most of the MyMagic+ castmembers aren’t as fuzzy in real life as this one…


In addition to getting the new cards and hearing the propaganda about the upcoming wristbands, we were also treated to a small display of artwork and park artifacts.








Dedicated Readers should know I can’t go on too long without getting to some food… late one night while we were staying at Kidani Village I needed a bit of a nosh, so we stopped by the bar at Sanaa to get some take-away…

Lamb Kefta Sliders

Lamb Kefta Sliders

and came away with a trio of Lamb Kefta Sliders… accompanied by a nice marinated slaw, these little jewels were tasty and just right to quell the late-night munchies.

And on one trip we discovered a couple of food & beverage related tees:

"Food Critic"... guess that's me...

“Food Critic”… guess that’s me… woof!

Please really open this bar!

Please really open this bar! I’ll go!

Over at the Studios there is now a billboard (and some smaller posters) promoting one of my current favorite TV shows, the ABC daytime show “The Chew”.


Hey Disney, you own this show, bring them to the World to film a few episodes! How about during Food & Wine (or for a Food & Wine preview)?

Oh yeah, here’s another cool shirt (and also a bit food-related…):

We all knew that Lord Vader is really just a big kid at heart...

We all knew that Lord Vader is really just a big kid at heart…

On one trip to Animal Kingdom, Miss Bonnie and I happened across an interesting event.


Signs promoting tastings and bottle signings by South African winemakers were near the entrance to the park (and also were at other locations around the park, even the cash registers at Flame Tree Barbeque sported the signage).

Brochure from wine tasting at Animal Kingdom

Brochure from wine tasting at Animal Kingdom

Inside the Mombasa Marketplace in Harambe, a couple of small tables were set up at one side of the shop for the vintners to display their featured wines.


Unlike other wine tasting or “wine walks” we’ve seen at events like the Epcot Food & Wine Festival or the Sundowner Celebration at Animal Kingdom, this was a one-one-one with an actual representative of the featured winery with only a couple of bottles being tasted at one time. On this day the first tasting ran from 11 AM until 1 on the afternoon, with the second going from 1 until 2:30 and the last one wrapping up at 4 PM with a different winery on stage at each session.

The procedure for the tasting was a bit awkward – guests had to go to one of the registers where the castmembers have a list of the wines being offered, you chose which of the wines you’d like and paid separately for each sample glass, then you take to receipt to the winemaker and he then pours your glass… as a couple of the bottles being offered were a bit pricey, the price per glass varied so in a way it made sense, but overall it seemed a bit over-complicated… but at least the first winemaker (and sadly the only one I got to visit with that day) did offer up a sample of the wine that I didn’t chose for me to compare and contrast even without me asking.

Pinotage and Kadette wines from Kanonkop winery

Pinotage and Kadette wines from Kanonkop winery

The glasses used were the same size used at Food & Wine, and most of the samples were about the same price range ($3 or so), but they did go up to $8 for a glass (which was the Kanonkop Pinotage, and yes I did try it – considering this bottle retails in the $40-range I didn’t think this was out of line – and yes, it was pretty dang tasty… and the Kadette was very drinkable…).

It would have been nice to be able to visit with each of the winemakers and sample all the wines at one time, but I would have re-visited the store throughout the day to try the others if we had been able to stay in the park later on that day. The event seemed to be sponsored by a importer/distributor of the wines (a representative of the distributor was at the table and when queried told us retail outlets for the wines), and the scheduling may have been partly their idea, but that’s just a guess on my part.

I asked the castmember at the register about the event, and she said “they do them from time-to-time”, but it had been about a year since the last one… how accurate that is I cannot say, but I hope that the next one isn’t another year away! Despite the unusual set-up, it was nice to be able to talk to the winemaker (at most samplings in the parks you’re just dealing with a castmember who’s reciting info from a script) and sample a couple of vintages I wasn’t familiar with – and this same concept would certainly work in other locations, some of the countries around the World Showcase in Epcot come to mind…

Now that we’ve had a glass of wine, let’s take a few more quick looks at some food starting with the usual good eats at Flame Tree:

Smoked Chicken with beans and slaw, Onion Rings and Smoked Chicken Salad from Flame Tree Barbeque in Animal Kingdom

Smoked Chicken with beans and slaw, Onion Rings and Smoked Chicken Salad from Flame Tree Barbeque in Animal Kingdom

Over in Epcot there are a couple of tasty and unique sandwiches now on the menu at Sunshine Seasons…


a grilled veggie flatbread sandwich…

Oak-Grilled Vegetable Flatbread Sandwich at Sunshine Seasons in Epcot

Oak-Grilled Vegetable Flatbread Sandwich at Sunshine Seasons in Epcot

and an unusual Vietnamese-style pork sandwich.

Roasted Pork Banh Mi Style Panini at Sunshine Seasons

Roasted Pork Banh Mi Style Panini at Sunshine Seasons

One of the sides offered alongside the sandwiches that day was a cold Asian-style noodle – it was much like the curry-flavored Singapore Noodles we’ve seen during Food & Wine, and was simply yummy – I’d go back there just to get a bowl of these to go if they offered them on their own!

Let’s wrap up this edition of Odds & Ends with a look at a couple of ride vehicles – and not attraction ride vehicles, but ones belonging to park guests…


Walking through a parking lot one day I came across this RV with a totally-tricked out golf cart in tow…




that’s one hot Minnie-Mobile!

And speaking of hot…


there’s this little red number…


with one of the coolest car tags ever!

Okay boys & girls, it’s time to head back to the kitchen, so let’s call this a post… see you again soon!

well, sort of…


If you listen to any Disney-centric podcasts, or frequent any Disney related message boards, the subject of “Four Parks in One Day” inevitably comes up…

How feasible is it to visit all four Walt Disney World parks in a single day? What highlights would you show someone who’s never been to the World if you took them to all the parks in a day? And so on…

A while back this sort of talk got me to thinking about the fun that could ensue from having Four Margaritas in Four Parks in a Day… and after mentioning this idea (and some other, somewhat idiotic alcohol-related quests) to Miss Bonnie I thought not much more about it.

Until late February that is, and the Best Holiday of the Year, National Margarita Day, came around!


Miss Bonnie and I, along with several members of the Harem (Mamma Ginny, Papa Harry and Lori Loves Tigger) were going to be in the World on that most Holy-of-Holy Tequila Days, and the ever-wise Bonnie suggested we finally give my goal a try!

Okay, I know Dedicated Readers are saying Four Parks? Four Margaritas? Is there some Magic Place in the Magic Kingdom that serves the Best Cocktail Ever??? Well, sadly no, and even though there is now beer and wine during dinner inside the Beast’s castle, there is not a ‘rita to be had, so for one of the four parks, we’re going to have to fudge a bit…


One option for the “Fourth Park” could be Downtown Disney (the future “Disney Springs”), and the waterfront Margarita Bar, where they do make a nice beverage…


but as Miss Bonnie & I were lodging around Crescent Lake, we all decided to meet up there and start our Tequila Trek at Boardwalk Joe’s on (where else but) the Boardwalk.

Boardwalk Joe's Margarita Menu

Boardwalk Joe’s Margarita Menu

Like the kiosk at Downtown Disney, they also make a nice (and also not-inexpensive) drink here… the beverage of choice for this day was the high-end Patron Anejo…

Paron Angejo Margarita at Boardwalk Joe's... do you know how sad it makes me that thae sign on top doesn't light up at night???

Patron Anejo Margarita at Boardwalk Joe’s… do you know how sad it makes me that the sign on top doesn’t light up at night???

this was a nice start to the festivities, but from there we had to get a move on… whereas most of the “Four Park” type events start at rope drop and go to the last fireworks at night, we didn’t start until about 5 in the afternoon, and with two of the parks (Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) closing at 7 that night, we had a lot of traveling (and drinking) to get in in a short amount of time! And to add to the time constraints, we were only going to use Disney transportation (and our legs) to get from place to place, everyone was taking part in the festivies, and with no sober designated driver no Harem member needed to be behind a wheel during this event!

So we hopped a bus from the Boardwalk Resort to take us to Miss Bonnie’s favorite park (and the home of one of my favorite bars on property) Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Dawa Bar in Harambe Village

Dawa Bar in Harambe Village

When we arrived we quickly hoofed it to the Africa section of the park, and right across the bridge on the left we came to the Dawa Bar in the busy village of Harambe.

If you insist...

If you insist…

The Dawa Bar is a spacious, open-air area next to the Tusker House restaurant, and is a great place to get a respite from the heat of Animal Kingdom. And yes, have a tasty cocktail, or three…


but on this day, we sadly only had time for one, and the choice du jour just had to be the African Margarita.

African Margarita

African Margarita

This refreshing beverage features a South African tangerine liqueur that is apparently-unobtainable-to-normal-humans (if you know where to find it, drop me a note!) – this flavor makes this different from any other margarita on property, and truly one of my favorites!

Even more African Margaritas!

Even more African Margaritas!

We took a seat to have a quick rest, drank down about half of our drinks, then downed the rest on our way back out of the park to make our next stop in Hollywood Studios.

After the bus arrived at the Studios, we hustled in not long before the turnstiles closed and made our way to the Tune-In-Lounge next to the ’50’s Prime Time Cafe.


Dedicated Readers know that this is definitely one of my favorite haunts on Property, and home to my Favorite Blonde Czech Bartender (who unfortunately was not there for this weekends festivities, but Ivan, who has served us more than once, was there to take care of our tequila needs).

Bar at Tune In Lounge

Bar at Tune In Lounge

In addition to drinks we also ordered some not-too-bad onion rings to help sop up the tequila.

Onion Rings at Tune in Lounge

Onion Rings at Tune in Lounge

I think the straight-forward Patron Silver Margaritas here are great (and goodness knows I’ve had plenty of them!) – if you’re looking for a good, basic ‘rita on property you could certainly do worse than the one here.


Patron Silver Margaritas waiting to quench our thirsts…

Now with three drinks, and three “parks” down, we had a bit of time to spare and made the scenic walk from the Studios to (my favorite park) Epcot, and what has become the epicenter of the Margarita World on Property…

La Cava!

La Cava!

La Cava del Tequila in the Mexico pavilion.


This cozy, and incredibly popular, spot in Epcot was luckily for us sparsely inhabited as we looked for our final drink of the quest, and we were able to snag a table while most of the other Epcot guests found their spots to view Illuminations.

Pineapple Margarita at La Cava del Tequila

Pineapple Margarita at La Cava del Tequila

To wrap up our Margaritafest I chose something a bit different, the Pineapple Margarita – I figured the healthy extra fruity goodness of the pineapple would counteract some of the deleterious effects of all the alcohol – yeah, right

So there you have it dear Dedicated Readers, our festival of Four Parks and Four Margaritas as we celebrated National Margarita Day! It was sure fun and I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Have you done any unique “Four Park” things? Or any different adult-beverage-related trips around the parks? If so, please share in the comments!

Back to the kitchen – see you soon!

As the New Year looms it seems that most blogs, websites, etc have to have some sort of year-in-review post, and being the Internet Lemming that I am, I will follow suit… so here are some random things from this this past year around the World – many, of course, food & drink related.2012-Disney-pin-1

Let’s hop into our TARDIS and go way back in time – all the way to January of 2012…

runDisney Event Medals

runDisney Event Medals

The first big event of the year at the Walt Disney World Resort is Marathon Weekend: thousands of runners, joggers, walkers and assorted hangers-on swamp the World to take part in the athletic endeavors that wind their way through property over the long weekend.

Disney Marathon Weekend Packet Pickup

Disney Marathon Weekend Packet Pickup

One of the first stops for the participants is at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex to pickup their bibs and other race paraphernalia and to browse and shop at the race expo.

The best booth at the race expo!

The best booth at the race expo!

And in case the runners need sustenance to make it up and down the crowded aisles of the expo, one can avail themselves of some fresh fruit, an energy drink, or, thank goodness, a glass of bubbly or a beer!

Marathon Weekend Cupcakes

Marathon Weekend Cupcakes

The Main Street Bakery in the Magic Kingdom was in the Marathon Mood during the weekend with some specially decorated cupcakes… can you say Carb-Loading?

Lots of things were going on in the brief month of February…

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Banner

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Banner above the Firehouse on Main Street

The new Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom interactive game was now in full swing in (of course) the Magic Kingdom.

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Training Session

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Training Session

Valentine’s is always a busy time at the World (what’s more romantic than a cozy ride for two through the Haunted Mansion?).

Wild Caught Jumbo Prawn and Crab "Hot-Pot" at Artist Point

Wild Caught Jumbo Prawn and Crab “Hot-Pot” at Artist Point

Miss Bonnie and I shared a nice dinner at Artist Point in the Wilderness Lodge to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

House-made Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Artist Point

House-made Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Artist Point

Another popular runDisney event. the Princess Half-Marathon, is held the end of February.

Princess Half-Marathon Snack Box and Medal

Princess Half-Marathon Snack Box and Medal

After the race instead of the usual “grab-a-bannana-and-a-bagel” line at most running events, the finishing Princesses (and Princes) were handed a nice little box of post-race refueling items.

Also that month there was a debut at the Kidani Village:

Makemba the Okapi at Kidani Village

Makemba the Okapi at Kidani Village

Makemba (an African name for “Goddess”) is a female Okapi calf that was born on October 1 of 2011 and was just making her first forays into public view for limited times at Kidani Village.

Makemba with mama Zoe keeping a watch nearby

Makemba with mama Zoe keeping a watch nearby

The rare and reclusive Okapi are kept on Pembe Savannah at the resort – this is the smaller savannah near the pool area. Even if you aren’t staying at the resort you can always stop by and try to catch a glimpse of these gorgeous creatures.

Construction at Tutto Gusto in Italy pavilion

Construction at Tutto Gusto in Italy pavilion

In Epcot’s World Showcase the refurbishment in Italy continued as we eagerly kept checks on the soon to open wine bar…

Temporary food kiosk in Italy

Temporary food kiosk in Italy

A kiosk was set up on the promenade to help service guests Italian food needs while Tutto Italia was closed.

Fancy-dancy restrooms at the new Storybook Circus train stop

Fancy-dancy restrooms at the new Storybook Circus train stop

March saw the first part of the New Fantasyland expansion debut – sections of the Storybook Circus area, including the refurbished train stop (and perhaps the nicest restrooms in the Magic Kingdom!) were opened to the public.

The Great Goofini's Ill-fated Rocket Flight

The Great Goofini’s Ill-fated Rocket Flight


Also in March I had the opportunity to attend the Food Blog Forum event that was held on WDW property for the first time this year.

Food Blog Forum opening reception at the Grand Floridian

Food Blog Forum opening reception at the Grand Floridian

"Hanging" Salads at the Food Blog Forum opening reception at the Grand Floridian Walt Disney World

“Hanging” Salads at the Food Blog Forum opening reception

In addition to a day of great seminars and the opportunity to meet many food bloggers from all over the country (as well as re-connect with friends made before), the attendees got a couple of chances to see how the Disney chefs can really strut their stuff when given the chance! An opening reception was held the evening before the seminars at a lovely outside venue at the Grand Floridian resort.

Food Blog Forum lunch in the Millennium Village in Epcot Walt Disney World

Food Blog Forum lunch in the Millennium Village in Epcot

Lunch on the seminar day was held in the Millennium Village in Epcot. Chefs from restaurants around property served a huge variety of great dishes that emphasized the healthier side of dining while still keeping the taste and style high.

Spreads and Dips from Sanaa at the  Food Blog Forum lunch

Spreads and Dips from Sanaa at the Food Blog Forum lunch

The sign says it all... I ate two of these without getting a good picture!

The sign says it all… I ate two of these without getting a good picture!

High-tech Soda making!

High-tech Soda making!

The Kitchen meets the Laboratory

The Kitchen meets the Laboratory

Chocolate Ravioli in Cognac at Food Blog Forum lunch

Chocolate Ravioli in Cognac at Food Blog Forum lunch

March also saw the opening of the 2012 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.

Cheers to the Flower & Garden Festival!

Cheers to the Flower & Garden Festival!

Haiti area at Flower & Garden Festival

Haiti area at Flower & Garden Festival

This year’s festival featured an area devoted to Haiti.

Haiti Refreshment Kiosk

Haiti Refreshment Kiosk

And yes, there were cocktails!

Haiti Refreshments Menu

Haiti Refreshments Menu

April saw the continuation of the Flower & Garden Festival…

Dragon in China pavilion

Dragon in China pavilion

Bonsai in Japan pavilion

Bonsai in Japan pavilion

Construction walls in Italy

Construction walls in Italy

and the continued construction at the restaurant in Italy.

New signage up behind the construction walls

New signage up behind the construction walls

But the new signs were up and the refurb seemed near to an end!

While impatiently waiting for the wine bar in Italy to open, we took advantage of the Wine Walk in Epcot and sampled several wines in three countries.

Sampling wines in France...

Sampling wines in France…



and Germany

and Germany

The Wine Walk is available all year and makes a fun (and relatively economical) way to sample several varietals as you make your way around the World Showcase.

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

And of course the best way to end any day at Epcot (regardless of the time of year) is with a viewing of Illuminations!

 Illuminations finale

Illuminations finale

Over at the Magic Kingdom an old friend returned…

Poster at the Magic Kingdom

Poster at the Magic Kingdom

The Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland re-opened after a bit of a refurbishment…

Sunshine Tree Terrace

Sunshine Tree Terrace

and along with it came the return of the Orange Bird character to the park.

"Little Orange Bird..."

“Little Orange Bird…”

And at the very end of April in Epcot…

Italy sans construction walls!

Italy sans construction walls!

the walls were down in Italy!

Almost open...

Almost open… but not quite

But staff posted outside (along with signage) informed guests that the restaurant and adjacent wine bar weren’t quite ready to open to the public.

Sign outside Tutto Italia

Sign outside Tutto Italia

Which brings us to the merry month of May….

Italy at night...

Italy at night…

The first weekend of the month we got to stick out heads into the much-anticipated wine bar (you can see some pics from that visit in the WDW Odds & Ends post from May 24, 2012)…

Tutto Gusto entrance

Tutto Gusto entrance

but it would still be a while before we got to eat and drink there… we’ll get to that later…

The first weekend of May also included Cinco de Mayo…

Inside the Mexico pyramid...

Inside the Mexico pyramid…

and not surprisingly the lines were long at La Cava del Tequila in Mexico.

Why yes, I'll have a cocktail...

Why yes, I’ll have a cocktail…

That weekend was also the weekend that the Flower & Garden Festival was highlighting the “Fresh from Florida” agriculture in the Festival Center (aka the Wonders of Life Pavilion). With the “Real Job” coming under the umbrella of Florida agriculture, and our company hosting a display at the Festival Center that weekend, Miss Bonnie and I were invited to a small private function “after hours” upstairs in the Festival Center and once again, I got to see the Disney chefs stretch themselves (and we also found out how easy it would be to wander around backstage fairly unnoticed if one wished to do so… but that’s perhaps another post for another day…).

Peanut Crusted Beef Skewers

Peanut Crusted Beef Skewers

They tailored the food items to represent several of the groups and companies that were displaying during that weekend: a peanut farm (who knew we raised peanuts in Florida?); kumquat farmers; a couple of ornamental aquaculture suppliers; and of course strawberry farmers .

Panna Cotta with Kumquat Jam

Panna Cotta with Kumquat Jam

Koi Colored Chocolate Drops with Sugar Coral

Koi Colored Chocolate Drops with Sugar Coral (this was incredibly impressive from both an aesthetic and taste perspective)

Strawberries and Cream

Strawberries and Cream

As we exited the event and took the tiny elevator down to the first floor, Bonnie & I (like the true Disney-nerds we are) took the chance to nose around a little in the closed building and found a fun room…

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

This is the room that became the Chase Lounge at this year’s Food and Wine Festival, so sadly it no longer exists in the cool decor we saw… but we were excited to see it and I’m glad to be able to share these pictures with my Dear Dedicated Readers.

There is another “Carousel” room upstairs (see the post at Zannaland about this room) that Bonnie and I got to see after the Food and Wine Festival Preview last year – hopefully the decor in that room will stay around for a while!

And yes, there was yet another runDisney event that weekend – the Expedition Everest Challenge – Miss Bonnie and I declined to run in that event, but we did volunteer and had a great amount of fun helping runners out with the scavenger hunt clues!

Flower Power Concert Poster

Flower Power Concert Poster

A couple of weeks later we once again made our way to Epcot for the final weekend of the Flower & Garden Festival. I specifically wanted to see the performance of Micky Dolenz who was taking the place of the late Davy Jones. It was a fun, nostalgic, and at times emotional show as Micky talked about his friend and band-mate who had just passed away in February.

Mickey Dolenz

Micky Dolenz

After the concert we finally got the chance to have a nosh at Tutto Gusto…

Polenta Funghu e Fontina at Tutto Gusto

Polenta Funghu e Fontina at Tutto Gusto

and Miss Bonnie quickly fell in love with the place! For more details on the eats we had there (and lots of other eats from that weekend as well!) check out the WDW Weekend Eats post dated June 1, 2012.

Star Wars Weekends stage in front of the "Hat"

Star Wars Weekends stage in front of the “Hat”

Another popular event opened up that weekend: Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

R2D2 filled with Churros

R2D2 filled with Churros

And yes, there was food there as well!

Lord Vader turns out to be a sweetie...

Lord Vader turns out to be a sweetie…

The June fun started in Animal Kingdom…

Safari Guide Tip Board at Animal Kingdom

Safari Guide Tip Board at Animal Kingdom

with the Sundowner Celebration.

There was food…

Indian Wine

Indian Wine


Bollywood, baby!

Bollywood, baby!

and dancing!

Even though they could have made more of it, it was a fun event – you can see more in the post Sundowner Celebration: A First Look.

"Brave" Billboard in Hollywood Studios

“Brave” Billboard in Hollywood Studios

The publicity machine for the soon-to-open film “Brave” was in full motion with huge billboards in the Studios…

"Brave" Billboard in Hollywood Studios

“Brave” Billboard in Hollywood Studios

a Merida meet-and-greet in the Magic Kingdom…



and the Highland Games going on in Epcot.

Highland Games Banner in Epcot

Highland Games Banner in Epcot

You usually don't get to chose your family!

You usually don’t get to chose your family!

"Brave" Sand Sculpture in Epcot

“Brave” Sand Sculpture in Epcot

And already merchandise galore…

Just a small sample of the Merida/Brave merchandise available even before the movie hit the big screen

Just a small sample of the Merida/Brave merchandise available even before the movie hit the big screen

Another part of the Storybook Circus opened up in June…

with the very well-themed and very wet Casey Junior Splash ‘n’ Soak Station in the Magic Kingdom.

I dare you to stay dry!

I dare you to stay dry!

While nearby the seemingly ever-present construction walls could hardly hide the advancing work going on for the New Fantasyland expansion.

Construction wall in Fantasyland

Construction wall in Fantasyland

The middle of the month found the Harem at Animal Kingdom for another run at the Sundowner Celebration.

Cheers from the Wine Walk!

Cheers from the Wine Walk!

Who's having more fun that This Guy?

Who’s having more fun that This Guy?

Spring Roll Making Demonstration

Spring Roll Making Demonstration

Miss Bonnie explaining the virtues of Rice Paper to Mama Ginny...

Miss Bonnie explaining the virtues of Rice Paper to Mama Ginny…

Mama Ginny doesn't look so sure...

Mama Ginny doesn’t look so sure…

There were also things goings on over at Epcot…

Sign up!

Sign up!

We got to play-test the new Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure which replaced the Kim Possible Adventure.

Goodbye Kim, hello Perry

Goodbye Kim, hello Perry

Inside Mexico most of the entrance area had been cleared out…

Inside the pyramid...

Inside the pyramid again…

to make way for a new exhibit.

Coming soon to a pyramid near you...

Coming soon to a pyramid near you…

And down in La Cava…

Looks good to me!

Looks good to me!

they had introduced a new high-end tequila flight!

What a name for a drink!

What a name for a drink!

And I finally got a chance to try a new beverage at the Joy of Tea kiosk in China.

And what a drink it was! Two Quacks up!

And what a drink it was! Two Quacks up!

Towards the end of June Miss Bonnie and I got our first look at the Art of Animation resort.

Art of Animation Resort exterior

Art of Animation Resort exterior (photo by Miss Bonnie)

Light fixture in the entrance way of the Art of Animation Resort (photo by Miss Bonnie)

Light fixture in the entrance way of the Art of Animation Resort (photo by Miss Bonnie)

Part of the main pool area at the Art of Animation Resort

Part of the main pool area at the Art of Animation Resort

Radiator Springs section of the Art of Animation Resort (photo by Miss Bonnie)

Radiator Springs section of the Art of Animation Resort (photo by Miss Bonnie)

And to end up the month we stepped outside the World…

  and onto the Disney Dream…

Dream a little dream...

Dream a little dream…

You can check out a few food & drink pics from that trip in the post “Life could be a Dream…”

Wow… it was quite a busy first half of the year! And since the second half wasn’t much less busy, let’s take a break for a cocktail… or two… or three…

So much for a short little post with some odds & ends…

See you soon for part two! Happy New Year!

Off to the bar…

WDW Weekend Eats

June 1, 2012

Once again it’s time to take a look as some eats & drinks from a recent weekend trip to the World… let’s look at the food, beverages and just for fun a few other random and related things from WDW that weekend.

Miss Bonnie and I decided we wanted to hit the last weekend of the Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot and the first weekend of Star Wars Weekends at the Studios (which happened to be the same weekend), so we headed to WDW on that Friday.

We were staying at Saratoga, so while I was waiting for Bonnie to arrive I sauntered over to Downtown Disney to survey the scene there…

Thinking I would need sustenance for the long trek around DTD, I stopped in at the Margarita Bar which sits on the water (roughly across from the Tren-D Store) on the Marketplace side…

on a prior visit to DTD, we had seen this same sign advertising a Grapefruit Margarita, but we didn’t have time to give it a try (shocking I know, too busy for a new margarita, even surprised myself…). Needed to rectify that oversight…

Grapefruit Margarita

And I was glad I tried it – this is a refreshing and delicious drink that ranks up there with many of the offering at La Cava! Especially great on a hot day, this drink has a nice fruit flavor, without any of the bitterness you might expect from grapefruit juice. I’ve had some really good drinks before at this locale, so don’t hesitate to give one a try there if you’re so inclined next time you’re in Downtown Disney.

So now fortified, I wandered over to the West Side to see what was going on at the under-construction Splitsville. And knowing how much my dear Dedicated Readers love pictures of construction walls, I expected there to be some to show you, and I wasn’t disappointed.


Taking over the old Virgin Megastore building, this dining, drinking and entertainment venue is scheduled to open this fall.

Bowling, billiards and dancing are mixed with an upscale (somewhat retro) environment with a menu that is a step, or three, above what you may find at your local bowling alley.

The other Splitsville locations have a policy of 21 and up only after 8 PM (and a dress code after 7 PM)…

this will be an unusual policy to enforce at Disney, but if it is the same at this location it could signal a welcome (to many at least) return to a more adult-themed entertainment area as Pleasure Island once was… maybe the start of something interesting?

Splitsville at Downtown Disney Concept Art

If you want to check out their website to see samples of the menus, etc at other locations, go to splitsvillelanes.com.

There is a location not too far from the Eating (and Drinking) Around the World kitchens, so if we get to check it out before the new location opens, we’ll give you a semi-preview.

After Miss Bonnie arrived, we made our way to Epcot to spend Friday evening around World Showcase.

Prior to eating and drinking (okay, I had a beer with me…) we went to see My-Favorite-Monkee, Mickey Dolenz at the last of the Flower Power Concerts. Mickey was a late replacement for fellow Monkee, and Flower Power regular, Davy Jones who sadly passed away (way too young!) earlier this year.

After a couple of songs, Mickey made a heartfelt tribute to his late band mate and launched into “Daydream Believer” (on which Davy originally sang lead). As one who grew up watching (and loving) the Monkees during their original run (yes, I’m an old man…) this was actually quite emotional for me, and yes, a few salty tears made their way down my cheeks as I sang along…

More hits followed, and the set wound up with the Neil Diamond-penned “I’m a Believer” – Mickey prefaced the song by pointed out to the youngsters in the crowd that he had performed the song long before a guy named Shrek…  It was an enjoyable, nostalgic and just a bit sad start to the weekend, and one of the main reasons I wanted to be there on this date…

Now on to the food… and drink…

Tutto Gusto Wine Bar

On a recent trip (see WDW Odds & Ends from May 24) we checked out the newly-opened Tutto Gusto Wine Bar, but didn’t have a chance to sample the goods. On this night we made up for it.

Castello Beer and an Italian (duh…) Moscato Wine

We perused the huge list of wines and other adult beverages and made our order while also thinking about the food…

Mmmm… meat… cheese… Finocchiona (at bottom), Asiago and Parmigiano Reggiano (with Focaccia bread)

While we were waiting to be seated, we queried one of the hostesses (a native Italian, of course) as to her favorites on the menu – she suggested three of the meat and cheese choices and we took her recommendations – and she was right on…

The flavorful Finocchiona (a fennel and pepper enhanced salami) was thinly sliced and a perfect, fatty foil to the cheeses. The hostess noted she had never had this in her native country, but since trying it here it was her favorite, and we could see why!

The Asiago and crumbly Parmigiano Reggiano were just amazing (especially the latter) – if you think of the green can when you think of Parmesan, think again… you’ll never buy it again after you have the real thing…

We also ordered some marinated olives and the Polenta with Mushrooms and cheese.

Olive Finocchio e Arance

The olives were briny and delicious, and converted Miss Bonnie into an olive-lover!

Polenta Funghu e Fontina

Fancy-Italian-Grits with sauteed mushrooms and cheese – how bad could it be?

More cheese? Yes, please!

The polenta was actually our least favorite item of the night – but it was still very good! Everything else was just that much better!

And to top it all off – yes, they do take the Tables in Wonderland card!

After catching the tail end of Illuminations we made our way back to the resort to catch a few winks before the early morning start at the Studios on Saturday.

A couple of strange characters in stage… and a couple of even stranger ones in front of the stage…

With Star Wars Weekends started we make our way to the merchandise tent to check out the goods…

and even inside Darth’s Mall, we found some food…

Snacks and beverages were available here…

many items being served in a cute R2-D2 container.

The same droid holder was seen throughout the park with different items being offered at various food locations.

From here we made our way over to Ehco Lake…

for an early lunch at Min & Bill’s.

Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner Menu

The main attraction here are the stuffed sandwiches: a baguette is stuck down upon a metal device and hollowed out…

Bread being prepped

and the rest of the sandwich ingredients are stuffed inside.

Chicken Caesar Sandwich

Miss Bonnie chose the Chicken Caesar Sandwich (chicken with salad greens, Parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing) while I had the Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions.

Italian Sausage Sandwich with Peppers and Onions (insert your own joke here…)

The Sausage Sandwich was big and filling – the sausage itself was fine, but the peppers and onions were a bit on the bland side – overall it certainly needed the help of a couple of mustard packets. Not bad, but I’m not going to run back to have it again.

Italian Sausage Sandwich with Peppers and Onions

The Chicken Caesar Sandwich however was a “two thumbs up”.

Chicken Caesar Sandwich

The filling was tasty, and the portion size is good. We both agreed we’d be glad to have this one again… At about nine bucks each, these are both actually a good value considering the size (and they include a side of chips) – if you’re not starving, these could even be split between two people.

After our meal we walked over to Epcot for some final Flower & Garden goodness.

Miss Bonnie graciously allowed me to ogle the comely HGTV celeb Genevieve Gorder for a while before we made our requisite visit to La Cava.

I stood in line a while to order one of my favorites, the Jalapeno Margarita.

Jalapeno Margarita – with something extra…

I asked the bartender to make my drink extra spicy, so he added a whole jalapeno to the chopped cucumber and mashed them together before adding the rest of the margarita goodies. After I took a quick sip, he asked if it was hot enough.

“Its’ good, but I could take hotter,” was my response.

“I have a habanero…” he said.

I paused.

“I have a habanero…” he repeated.

“Go for it,” I said and handed the drink back to him.

He smashed a whole (seeded) habanero pepper and added the drink back to the shaker and now infused the insidious fiery fruit into the drink. “You’ll remember me in the morning,” he said as he handed it back to me.

Wow… hot, flavorful, fantastic… it’s not going to be my regular drink, but for fiery sipping and savoring on a hot day, it’s a great choice if you can take the heat.

Miss Bonnie dipped the tip of her pinkie finger in and tried just a couple of drops – she was on fire for hours afterwards… this isn’t a drink for everyone… but if you’re the heat-loving adventurous type, ask if they have a habanero handy the next time you’re at La Cava!

Jalapeno – Habanero Margarita. The drink of the Gods!

We wandered the World Showcase for a while, and then made our way back to the Studios for the evening.

Bonnie had a Jones for the Darth Vader cupcake that was being offered at several locations throughout the park during Star Wars Weekends. So we made our way to the ABC Commissary  to sample one…

Darth Vader Cupcake

adorned with chocolate sprinkles a white chocolate light saber…

Shouldn’t ALL light sabers be made of white chocolate???

this chocolate-cakey-cupcake held a gooey surprise inside…

Deconstructed Darth… exposing the peanut butter for all to see…

Chocolate and peanut butter – genius! How come no one thought of combining them before?

Okay, I guess the peanut butter wasn’t that much of a surprise… it was on the sign…

So after dessert-as-an-appetiser, we went in search of some real food (or at least as real as quick service in the Studios would be).

After traversing the park several times and with much discussion and compromise, we finally settled on the Studio Catering Co.

Deciding to eschew our usual favorite of the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich, we split the two Pressed Sandwiches: Tuscan Deli and Turkey Club.

Sandwichfest! Grilled Turkey Club an the Grilled Tuscan Deli

Both were actually pretty good – but we gave the Tuscan a bit of an edge over the turkey.

After dining, we made our way to view the Hyperspace Hoopla, with a stop on the way at the Tune in Lounge.

To keep us busy and hydrated while waiting for the show to start, we got a couple of Patron Margaritas to go made by my Favorite Blonde Czech Bartender Alena.

Despite the huge crowd, the show was, as always, a lot of fun.

Afterwards we made our way back to Saratoga Springs to await the culinary fun on Sunday.

The morning started with a bit of exercise to try and work off the cupcake calories (we laced the running shoes up – get your collective minds out of the gutter), and after we packed up the cars, we sauntered over to Downtown Disney to eat at one of our favorite overlooked spots.

Cookes of Dublin

Even though it’s a place we’ve passed by countless times, only fairly recently have we discovered the great eats available at Cookes of Dublin in Downtown Disney. And now it’s among our favorite places to eat on WDW Property.

Cookes of Dublin Menu

We ordered some Whiskey and Pepper Glazed Wings (which like many menu items, come with chunky fries – aka “Chips”), and needing even more spuds, we added an order of the Skinny Chips with Thyme and Rock Salt along with Cheese and Bacon Dip.

Miss Bonnie secured us a table while I went next door to The Hole in the Wall bar to secure myself an IPA…

The Hole in the Wall Bar

Thyme and Rock Salt Skinny Chips

The “Skinny Chips” are more the size of a McDonalds-type fry – these had fantastic flavor all on their own, but if you want to add an extra layer, dunk them into one of the available dips or some of the Dalkey Mustard from the condiments area.

Thyme and Rock Salt Skinny Chip heading into the Irish Vintage Cheese and Bacon Dip

The wings here have become one of my favorites anywhere, on or off Property. Big and juicy, they have been cooked perfectly and freshly every time we’ve tried them. The sauce has just enough bite from the black pepper (even if I do add some Tabasco on occasion…) and great flavor from the whiskey.

Chicken Wings in Whiskey and Crushed Pepper Glaze

Now properly sated, we called an end to the weekends eats at WDW. A great start at a new place, a good end at a new/old favorite, and some acceptable quick eats in-between… and a few drinks as well… all-in-all another fun and flavorful weekend at the World!

Back to the kitchen – we’ll see you soon!

WDW Odds & Ends…

May 17, 2012

Once again, a few random things from some recent visits to Walt Disney World… let’s dive in!

Recently Disney began enforcing the prescribed return times on Fastpass tickets…

as noted on the signs posted on the Fastpass machines (shown here in Hollywood Studios).

The tickets now note “Not able to accommodate late arrivals.”

Most assume this change in the enforcement of return times is due to the expected up-coming “X-Pass” system of Fastpasses (check out this blog post at touringplans.com for some more info)… we’ll see in time…

At the Studios there was a cute addition to the Stage 1 Company Store (aka the “Sorta-Muppet-Stuff-in-Part-of-the-Store-Store”)…

Dr Teeth & the Electric Mayhem are now playing above one of the tee-shirts displays inside the store.

And speaking of shirts, a few new Muppet shirts have been hitting the shelves (or the hangers) in the past months – here’s one of the coolest:

Gotta love Beaker!

And speaking of the new Fastpass system, it looks like there was some testing at Magic Kingdom, with the ticket swiping posts (like what was tested at Epcot for the entry tickets earlier this year) showing up – here is one at the Winnie the Pooh ride (along with a sour look on the castmembers face…)…

Smells like Pooh???

Let’s check out some other things while we’re at the Magic Kingdom…

On Main Street we found Mickey hanging out in a stroller…

and doing some pin trading – a fun and creative alternative to the usual pin board!

A new poster at the fire station touts the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game:

The popular Rapunzel meet-and-greet has been moved to the front of the park (where Snow White had previously held court)…

to make room for Merida from the upcoming Pixar film “Brave”.

At the time of this photo, construction walls hid the new Merida meet-and-greet, but by the time you read this it should be open with the raven-tressed Pixar-Princess in full view.

And of course, there are some food-related items…

As you likely know by now, the Florida Orange Bird has made his nostalgic return to the Magic Kingdom, and more specifically, the Sunshine Tree Terrace.

Orange Bird juice containers are back…

and the iconic Citrus Swirl is poised to challenge the Dole Whip as the #1 icy fruit-flavored snack in the Magic Kingdom.

Citrus Swirl

And the Orange Bird himself surveys the scene.

Sunshine Tree Terrace Menu

And of course, the little Orange Bird is now adorning a variety of merchandise.

And on another food-related note…

over at the Liberty Square Market, in addition to the healthier options of fresh fruit and regular baked potatoes,  you can now order up a baked sweet spud.

Back in Fantasyland the construction continues at a rapid pace.

Just who the heck is that darn monkey???

Far in the distance (Can you say “forced perspective”? I knew you could…) looms the Beast’s Castle…

which looks fantastic…

The Beast’s Castle

I’m really looking forward to seeing the complete landscape of the new Fantasyland!

Two parks down, two to go… we’ll hit some odds & ends from Animal Kingdom and Epcot next time…

See you soon!

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