Episode 119: 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Hunger Games

Welcome to the MouseQuest Podcast- Your guide in the quest for the perfect Disney vacation. This is episode number 119. Happy Hunger Games! Today we will be will be participating in the Third Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Hunger Games. Food items from each booth will be pitted against each other to find out what the ultimate snack is for the 2015 season. Will Cheddar Cheese Soup come reclaim her lost title?? Only time will tell!

Continue reading “Episode 119: 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Hunger Games”

Episode 117: WDW Fall Preview

Welcome to the MouseQuest Podcast- Your guide in the quest for the perfect Disney vacation. This is episode number 117. This week on the show we are going to preview upcoming events for the months of September, October, and November. Fall is a great time to visit the Walt Disney World Resort, and there are many great events coming up. We’ll let you know what we’re looking forward to over the next three months and what you can expect in regards to upcoming events, crowds, and weather.

Appearing this week are Amy Bechtol, Dawn Gosdin, Rich Grady, and Marci Smith.

Connect with us!

MouseQuest on Twitter: @MQPodcast

Amy Bechtol on Twitter: @uccats97

Dawn Gosdin on Twitter: @logpey Blog: Dawn’s Dorky Diary

Rich Grady on Twitter: @michigansahd

To submit a question for the show, please go to the MouseQuest Podcast website, or send an email to question@mqpodcast.com.

Disney By Land & Disney by Sea – Part #3

Written by Sue Nowicki
Disney by land and sea
As I mentioned in my last post, booking our Advanced Dining Reservation was less than magical.

I don’t think it’s hard to see that I am kind of an obsessive planner. Approximately 220 days prior to our vacation I know where we are staying, what parks we will be visiting each day, how we will be touring each park and where we are going to eat. Therefore, at exactly 5:55am on the 180th day I have every computer in the house and my cellphone logged into My Disney Experience to start making my Advanced Dining Reservations. If that method doesn’t work I start calling the Disney Dining phone line at 6:55am. I have ALWAYS been able to get every reservation I wanted… until now.

We have been to Walt Disney World many times. Therefore, we have been lucky enough to experience a great number of the dining options at Walt Disney World. This means the method for choosing our dining plans have changed slightly. Instead of booking two or more table service meals a day, we have old favorites we like return to and we add in 1-2 new locations each trip. Therefore, we are only planning on one table service meal each day.

This was my plan going into the 180th morning:

Monday – Rose & Crown, 8:00pm – This is an old favorite for us and holds a special place in our Disney memories. When our daughter was 5-years-old we were dining at R&C and she was picked to start Illuminations. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime magical moments. Besides the memories we come back vacation after vacation because of the great food and the amazing view of Illuminations. If you are lucky enough to get one of the coveted verandah seat you will have a front row seat for the show. And even if you aren’t selected to sit on the verandah, they have a super-secret location reserved for their guests only to watch the show. Results: Nothing available

Tuesday – Whispering Canyon Café, 6:00pm – We are planning on spending at least part of this day at Downtown Disney with lunch planned at Earl of Sandwich. (The Holiday sandwich is calling my name… can you hear it?) We thought this would be a great day to have an early evening meal in the resort. After the meal we can either hit the pool (Of course, after the required 30 minutes waiting period, Mom), maybe go to the Polynesian and watch Wishes from the beach or just simply call it a night. Results: Nothing available

Wednesday – Hollywood & Vine Fantasmic! Dinner Package – If you ask my daughter we picked the restaurant because of the pictures of the chocolate fountain on their website. We have seen Fantasmic! before but we always seem to be in the extreme stage right area even with a FastPass+. With the dinner package we will get guarantee seats in one of the center sections. RESULTS: Dinner packages not available yet.

Thursday – California Grill, 9:00pm – How can you beat the view of Wishes from that vantage point… not to mention the wine list. RESULTS: SUCCESS! We got a 9:05pm ADR.

Friday – Be Our Guest, Lunch – We will be attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party this day. My daughter and I have been to this restaurant while DH has not. He has to try the Grey Stuff… It’s delicious. RESULTS: NO LUCK!

I came out of the 180th day with ONE Advanced Dining Reservation. How can this be? Dejected, with my Ultimate Disney Planner title on the line, I headed to work with my head hanging low. Several of my Disney friends did their best to console me when I complained. “Don’t worry, just keep checking.” “It must be a glitch in the system.” “It’s the week BEFORE Thanksgiving, there’s no way everything can be gone?” “Try calling again?”

Here we are two month later and the bleak outcome of what I now call the ‘180th Day Massacre’ has turned into a not-so-bad plan.

Since Monday is the last day of the annual Epcot Food & Wine Festival we have decided to ‘eat our way around the world’. Recently the menus for F&W were released and there is no way I would be able to eat a sit-down dinner after eating all the tasty treats which caught my eye. As far as the view of Illuminations: We can always grab something from one of the outdoor kitchens and pull up a bench along the World Showcase Lagoon.

After checking multiple times for a Tuesday ADR at Whispering Canyon Cafe an 8:30pm reservation showed up. This wasn’t ideal but at least we would be able to eat there without a long wait. Using my friend Amy M’s advice I kept checking just in case something more suitable to our plans showed up. Lo and behold a week or so ago a 6:00pm reservation opened up. SCORE! As an added bonus the Garden Grill announced a special character breakfast featuring Chip & Dale. We were going to use Tuesday as a ‘catch up on some sleep day’ so we made a 10:00am ADR. I have been by the Garden Grill many times while making our way to Living With the Land and loved the idea of the rotating restaurant.

With the addition of this ADR and the fact that we are still planning on heading to Downtown Disney that day, we are considering cancelling our Whispering Canyon Café ADR. We have been there several times before so it’s not like we will be missing a new experience and we will probably still be full from the Holiday Sandwich from Earl of Sandwich.

Our Wednesday plans brightened as well. I guess I was always under the impression that the Fantasmic! Dinner Package reservations opened at 180 days like the rest of the reservations. Turns out that isn’t the case. In early July the Disney Parks Blog reported the dinner package was now open for booking. I immediately went over and booked the package at Hollywood & Vine for a late lunch.

There was a little twist to this when the brand new Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine opened up for reservations. Not only is this a character meal which features the characters in their holiday best including Santa Goofy, it also offers special seating for Fantasmic!. Again, I was on my computer bright and early… NOTHING. I started calling Disney Dining line at 6:55 a.m… NOTHING! Oh well, I guess we will keep our lunch reservation and keep checking to see if this opens up.

I am still hoping for some pixie-dust to get a lunch reservation at Be Our Guest on Friday but I did learned a few things from this misadventure: (1) Free dining really does have quite an impact of the availability of Advanced Dining Reservations, (2) Just keep swimming – by continuing to check we were able to get a couple of the ADRs we weren’t able to get on the 180th day, and (3) Disney really needs to get their act together BEFORE the 180th day on special dining experiences such as Candlelight Processional and Fantasmic! Dinner Package.

In the next post I will talk about a slight change we made to our Disney Cruise, how we got 8.9% off our Disney vacation and our first foray into the Fish Extender gift exchange.
Disney Land Sea
Sue Nowicki splits her time between planning her next Walt Disney World vacation and being team mom to ten high-energy volleyball players where she fills the roles of secretary, navigator, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist. You can follow her on Twitter @JazzinDisneyMom.

Other posts by this author:
Latest Disney News
”The Descendants” Movie Review
Disney by Land, Disney by Sea: Part 1 & Part 2
”Tomorrowland” Movie Review
Best Walt Disney World Smartphone Apps
Restaurant Review – Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – The Way Life Should Be
A Day in the Life of Disney’s FastPass+ Service

News From the World of Disney: June 19 – July 3

Written by Sue Nowicki

Disney News

June 19 – Starbucks is now open in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Offering its staple menu of coffee and espresso beverages, this location will also donate a portion of their proceeds on the sale of each Flat White Latte to help preserve the cotton-top tamarin in Columbia. (Link)

June 21 – Any questions about Disney’s bump in the road with the release of “Tomorrowland”, were answered with a resounding ‘so what’ as their new movie “Inside Out” raked in $91.06 million in its opening weekend. Add this to the overseas take of $41 million and you get a gargantuan $132 million weekend. For those keeping count this is the biggest opening week EVER for an original, non-sequel, non-sourced movie. (Link)

June 22 – When the 2016 Walt Disney World vacation packages were released this week they included a few new changes such as four mini golf vouchers instead of two, four vouchers for ESPN Wide World of Sports and discounts at Splitsville Luxury Lanes were reduced to 10% from 20%. The terms and conditions saw some tweaks as well. (Link)

June 23 – The Candlelight Processional Dinner package prices have been released for 2015. However, booking for the dinner package is slated for later this summer. (Link)

Disney NewsJune 23 – After a world-wide search we now know the star and director of the new “Spider-Man” movie. The star will be 19-year-old Tom Holland playing the part Peter Parker/Spider-Man and the director will be Jon Watts. The estimated release date for this movie will be July 28, 2017. Holland will actually make his first appearance as the webbed-wonder in “Captain America: Civil War” set for release in 2016. (Link)

June 23 – Fans of Pocahontas can now greet her at the Discovery Island Character Landing at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. (Link)

June 24 – A California man is suing Disneyland because they cancelled his Club 33 membership. One of the original members of the club, Joseph Cosgrove, 84, was terminated after a friend of his allegedly auction off passes to the exclusive club. He claims he has no knowledge the auction of his passes was taking place. A spokeswoman for Disneyland said this was not Mr. Cosgrove’s first offense. (Link)

June 24 – California Screamin’ attraction at Disney’s California Adventure was closed for approximately one hour after a guest pulled out a ‘selfie stick’ while the ride was in progress. (Link)

June 25 – Captain EO will be back on the schedule at Epcot beginning July 19. (Link)

Disney NewsJune 25 – Disney has settled the copyright infringement lawsuit over the “Frozen” trailer which bore many similarities to the short film “The Snowman”. While no details of the settlement were release, this gives Disney the ability to continue with their planning of the “Frozen” sequel. (Link)

June 25 – The Walt Disney Company received a prestigious award from the Department of Defense. Disney was awarded, along with 15 other recipients, the 2015 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award given to employers who support the National Guard and Reserve employees. (Link)

June 26 – Several weeks ago it was announced that Jay Rasulo, Disney’s CFO, was stepping down. According to SEC filing, Rasulo will stay with The Walt Disney World Company as an ‘advisor’ at his current salary. (Link)

June 26 – After events at Disney’s California Adventure earlier this week, Disney Parks are now completely banning ‘selfie sticks’. Starting on June 30 Disney Parks world-wide are banning selfie sticks from their parks. I have two words for this… THANK GOODNESS! (Link)

June 29 – The Magic of Disney Animation is closing on July 12. A Disney World spokeswoman said work is underway for a new experience in that location. (Link)

June 29 – Disney’s Consumer Product division and Disney Interactive are combining into a new operation called, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. (Link)

Disney NewsJune 29 – If you weren’t wasting enough time on your phone playing Frozen Free Fall or creating pictures of yourself as Maleficient in the Disney Side app, there is a new app called Disney Gif to help fill the void. Disney Gif is a keyboard add-on which allows you to attached gifs and emojis to your messages and emails. (Link)

June 29 – Disneyland is proposing a $1 billion dollar expansion which will include new attractions, parking and infrastructure. In return for this boost to the Anaheim economy, Disneyland wants to extend their abatement of admissions tax for the next thirty years. The Anaheim City Council will vote on this abatement at their July 7 meeting. (Link)

June 29 – As quick as they came, they are now gone. The ‘Match The Species’ treats which resembled animal droppings will no longer be offered in Zuri’s Sweets Shop in Harambe Market at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. (Link)

June 30 – Disney fans attending the D23 conference at the Anaheim Convention Center will get an extra special treat. Author of The Official Mickey Mouse Club Book, Lorraine Santoli, will host ‘Celebrating Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club—60 Magical Years’. This session will take place Sunday, August 16, at 5 p.m. in Stage 23. Original Mouseketeers Sherry Alberoni, Sharon Baird, Bobby Burgess, Tommy Cole, Darlene Gillespie, Cubby O’Brien, and Doreen Tracey are scheduled to be in attendance. (Link)

June 30 – The rash of closings around Walt Disney World continues as DisneyQuest, Disney’s indoor interactive theme park, is the next victim. It is closing to make way for the new NBA Experience. (Link)

Disney NewsJune 30 – The Walt Disney Company has named Christine McCarthy as the next Chief Financial Officer, succeeding Jay Rasulo. McCarthy was formerly Disney’s treasurer. They also promoted Kevin Mayer to the newly-created position of Chief Strategy Officer with roughly the same job duties which include identifying growth opportunities. Mayer was integral in the acquisitions of Lucasfilm and Pixar. (Link)

July 1 – Disneyland is asking their guests so dress like it’s 1955 when they come to the park on July 17th which is the actual 60th anniversary of the park. (Link)

July 2 – Beginning on July 8 Disney’s Contemporary Report will host Disney Family Culinary Adventure. During this hands on experience guests will create a five-course dinner alongside Disney chefs. The cost is $175 for adults and $125 for children ages 9-12. (Link)

July 2 – The ABC daytime talk show The Chew will tapes shows at the 20th Epcot Food & Wine Festival October 7-9. (Link)

July 2 – I want to preface this by saying this is purely RUMOR but a really good one. This blog claims that there are plans afoot to announce the rebranding of Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Disney’s Hollywood Adventure at the D23 conference in August. This plan is said to come with a $3 billion overhaul of the park. (Link)

July 3 – Rumors are rampant that One Man’s Dream, a look at Walt Disney’s life, is closing. Disney fans around the world have started to rally to keep this iconic attraction open. A Change.org petition has started and already has nearly 6,000 signatures. (Link)

Disney News

That’s all the news for now. Follow me on Twitter @JazzinDisneyMom for more Disney news.

Latest News From the World of Disney: September 25, 2015

Other posts by this author:
”The Descendants” Movie Review
Disney by Land, Disney by Sea: Part 1 & Part 2
”Tomorrowland” Movie Review
Best Walt Disney World Smartphone Apps
Restaurant Review – Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – The Way Life Should Be
A Day in the Life of Disney’s FastPass+ Service

Sue Nowicki splits her time between planning her next Walt Disney World vacation and being team mom to ten high-energy volleyball players where she fills the roles of secretary, navigator, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist. You can follow her on Twitter @JazzinDisneyMom.

Episode 96: 2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Hunger Games

Welcome to the MouseQuest Podcast- Your guide in the quest for the perfect Disney vacation. This is episode number 96. This week we will be will be participating in the Second Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Hunger Games. Food items from each booth will be pitted against each other to find out what the ultimate snack is for the 2014 season.

Last year we instituted the First Annual Food & Wine Festival Hunger Games and we are very excited to once again find out what the ultimate snack is from around the world. I would like to welcome last year’s reigning champion returning to defend his title, Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup!

This year the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival began on September 19th and will continue delighting guests palates until November 10th. An international assortment of over 25 unique booths offers a wide variety of tasty dishes and beverages from around the world. As we did last year, we are going to begin on the left side of World Showcase and work our way around the Lagoon, choosing one food item from each booth and comparing it to another. We’ll continue to do this until we find out what the ultimate Epcot Food & Wine Festival Snack is for this year. So let’s get started!

Appearing this week are Amy Bechtol, Dawn Gosdin, Rich Grady, Marci Smith, and Amy Yacullo.

Connect with us!

MouseQuest on Twitter: @MQPodcast

Amy Bechtol on Twitter: @uccats97

Dawn Gosdin on Twitter: @logpey Blog: Dawn’s Dorky Diary

Rich Grady on Twitter: @michigansahd

To submit a question for the show, please go to the MouseQuest Podcast website, or send an email to question@mqpodcast.com.

Episode 89: WDW’s Fall Events Preview

Welcome to the MouseQuest Podcast- Your guide in the quest for the perfect Disney vacation. This is episode number 89. This week on the show we are going to preview upcoming events for the months of September, October and November. Walt Disney World in the fall is my favorite time to come visit and I’m really excited to discuss some of the best offerings during this time of year. There are so many things that come to my mind when I think of Walt Disney World in the fall. Low crowds, nice weather, and some of the best seasonal events are some of the first things I think of. Let’s go month by month and talk about everything that’s coming up. Questions this week include:

  • What events are coming up in September, October and November?
  • What kind of weather can we expect during the fall months?
  • Are there any current promotions going on that can be used to book a room during those dates?

Appearing this week are Amy Bechtol, Dawn Gosdin, Rich Grady, Marci Smith, and Liz Weimann.

Connect with us!

MouseQuest on Twitter: @MQPodcast

Amy Bechtol on Twitter: @uccats97

Dawn Gosdin on Twitter: @logpey Blog: Dawn’s Dorky Diary

Rich Grady on Twitter: @michigansahd

Liz Weimann on Twitter: @LizWeimann

To submit a question for the show, please go to the MouseQuest Podcast website, or send an email to question@mqpodcast.com.

Episode 46: Epcot Food and Wine Hunger Games

Welcome to the MouseQuest Podcast- Your guide in the quest for the perfect Disney vacation. This is episode number 46. This week we will be will be participating in the First Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Hunger Games. Food items from each booth will be pitted against each other to find out what the ultimate snack is for the 2013 season.

The Food & Wine Festival began on September 27th of this year and runs until November 11th. An international assortment of over 25 unique booths offers a wide variety of tasty dishes and beverages from around the world. We had a chance to sample many of what’s available this year and found some real winners and some that weren’t so great. What we’re going to do is begin on the left side of World Showcase and work our way around the Lagoon, choosing one food item from each booth and comparing it to another. We’ll continue to do this until we find out what the ultimate Epcot Food & Wine Festival Snack is for this year.

Appearing this week are Dawn Gosdin, Rich Grady, David Smith, and Marci Smith.

To submit a question for the show, please go to the MouseQuest Podcast website, or send an email to question@mqpodcast.com.