3:45 AM – SIGH. Hey, idiot, you know it’s barely past Midnight, right?? You have only been in this time zone for 12 hours, you can’t have adjusted yet. *Closes eyes*. GO BACK TO SLEEP GO BACK TO SLEEP GO BACK TO SLEEP
6:34 AM – Well I suppose this is the best I am going to do. No point in laying here in bed and probably disturbing the wife.
Off to EPCOT today, or as it is called these days, the Experimental Prototype Construction of Tomorrow. This park is undergoing a massive multi-layered overhaul and expansion, and we are prepared for the fact that construction will be everywhere.
As this is our first day here and I knew there would be some jet lag, I booked nothing this morning; in fact, our first booking is lunch at the Japanese pavilion in the early afternoon.
We are here at this time of year for three reasons. One, of course, it’s my 50th birthday later this week. Secondly, we have never seen the Orlando parks decorated for Xmas. Third, and this is what we are going to get to experience a little today, we have never been here for the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. All of our previous trips here have been in the spring.
The Festival has been running for months and is winding down now – only a week or so left – so today will be our only opportunity to check it out. Our plans for today: Lunch, then use our pre-booked Fastpasses for a few rides, then explore the F&W Festival and much on nibbles for dinner at some of the various booths.
This week should be the “calm before the storm” in terms of park crowds. Next week, which is US Thanksgiving, is going to be chaos. We have planned this trip so that we go go go go go during our first week here, and then take it much easier next week. I know that might be tough on Tracey, and we are prepared to change things up if need be, but if we can get most of our Theme Park-ing done before the holiday crowds show up, we can really have a relaxing second week with a few days planned to stay at the resort and enjoy the many amenities here.
One of the big challenges will be figuring out what to wear. The weather is going to be quite pleasant for most, if not all, of our time here. Today and tomorrow are scheduled to be the coolest days of the trip with a high of just 19 degrees. By Thursday, for contrast, that number jumps up to 27. Zero percent chance of rain today, which is great. If you’ve ever been drenched in one of Florida’s famous rainstorms, you know how important that is.
Ever heard the phrase “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”? I think whomever coined that phrase must have been in Florida at the time. So that’s the issue; I can dress for 19 degrees. I brought the whole gamut: shorts and tank tops, jeans and T-shirts, and a jacket. But dressing for the humidity is a whole new ballgame. For example, it wasn’t particularly warm when we landed last night, but we both had sweat dripping down our forehead while standing at the rental car counter.
The forecasted humidity today runs between 77% (now) down to about 52% (when it reaches peak temperature of 19 degrees around 3 PM) and I really don’t know what that means. I guess it’s something we’ll have to figure out today.
At some point today, we have to partially re-pack as well, as tomorrow we leave the resort that we just checked into, and head to the Grand Floridian Hotel for 4 nights. Yes, I know, it is particularly gluttonous to have two residences going at the same time; but if you’ve ever been here, you understand the SIGNIFICANT perks that you get while staying on Disney property. I will get into it more once we are there, but it’s worth the extra money just to get the opportunity to book Fastpasses earlier. Hotel guests can book them 60 days in advance, non-hotel guests just 30.
So, today for example, we are not hotel guests so we could only book today’s Fastpasses 30 days out, and the main ride we want to experience at Epcot, the Frozen ride, was fully booked. If we want to get on that today, we will have to stand in a (probably) long line. I am not a fan of long lines. We had no problem booking it for our second visit to Epcot however, as we are visiting each of the 4 parks during our Grand Floridian stay, and were able to book just about anything we wanted for those days. It makes a huge difference. And since we have never been on the Frozen ride (we missed it’s grand opening by TWO WEEKS on our last visit here), we are very much looking forward to it.
8:00 AM – While the wife catches up on her ZZZ’s, I hop into the car to head to Target to pick up some essentials that we forgot to buy yesterday. Top of the list are some decent wine glasses. I am not drinking fine wine out of plastic goblets. Target has opened up a “store within a store” concept wine shop, selling some really good stuff. If by any miracle we run out of wine on this trip, we know where to go to get more.
Seriously, the complete and utter failure of Target to succeed in the Canadian market must be one of the great examples of poor management in recent retail history. Any chain that is a license to print money in the USA should be able to translate that into Canada. It just takes a little bit of proper planning to understand the differences. Shocking that it was mis-managed that poorly.
9:55 AM – Wife told me to wake her up by 10. I laughed. Well, the joke is on me as she is up and wide awake.
11:45 AM – We are out the door, on our way to Epcot. Cannot wait.
Goosebumps. Every. Single. Time.
So, it’s pretty freaking cold right now. The weather forecast is for a high of 19 and mostly sunny. I think they forgot what mostly sunny means.
1:20 PM – Lunch at Teppon Edo, in the Japanese Pavilion. Tracey was, I think, skeptical of this, as we never eat Japanese food. I just thought it was be cool
Food was great, ambiance was great, everything was great. We will definitely be back.
Wandering around we saw a lot of great food and wine vendors. You might wonder, why would two huge oenophiles, and Disney fans, have never previously been to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival?
Well, let’s get real. Disney is not going to allow guests to wander around one of their parks carrying glass. That means, wine in plastic cups.
Serious wine people cannot and will not drink wine in plastic cups.
So, the wine part of this event is really a curiosity more than anything else. The food portion, however, looks to be quite interesting. We should have one more day here before the festival ends to taste some of their wares.
Christmas has already come to Disneyworld but, because of the festival, not much here in Epcot yet. Here is the wife at the France pavilion in front of one of the few exceptions.
Look at her hair and you can see how windy it is today. There is no way it is anywhere near 19 degrees, and there is certainly no sun in the sky.
As we expected, the theme of Epcot these days is construction. In fact, the above picture doesn’t show it, but there is a huge construction zone at the back of the pavilion, as they create a Ratatouille ride. If you have ever been to Paris Disneyland, you know this ride. It is, by all accounts, quite spectacular.
So much construction. The next time we come here, it is going to be a whole new ballgame.
4:30 PM – Done for today, and headed back to the resort for dinner and some wine and relaxation time. We know that most days, 3-4 hours in the parks is going to be all we can handle, and today was no exception.
With dinner, we had a couple very nice bottles of wine from our Wine.com case.
What a treat. And I am going to make a bold prediction: This spectacular Chardonnay will be, at best, the fifth best wine we have this trip.
How can I say that? Well, I know what else is in the case we ordered from Wine.com, and I know where we are having dinner tomorrow: Victoria & Albert’s.
Regarded by many as the best restaurant in Orlando, if not all of Florida, our dining venue tomorrow is going to set the standard for meals. And the wine…oh the wine.
It will be late by the time we get done, so don’t expect an update tomorrow night, but you can probably expect an update early on Monday morning. You are going to want to check this post out. Trust me.
2 thoughts on “Birthday trip begins for real at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!”
Ooh! Thanks for the recommendation on that Chardonnay, I’m going to actively search it out here in Calgary. I too will be in Florida a few weeks, and I’m very understanding about the humidity levels which can sometimes be brutal. Anyway, enjoy it while you can, looking forward to the next read.
Any Hartford Chardonnay is worth a buy, we’ve never had a bad one. We have one more in the fridge for this trip, which I expect to be as good or better as this one.