Welcome back to part two of my September Walt Disney World trip report! If you haven’t read the first installment yet, be sure to look back to last Monday’s post to catch up; it’s worth a read as it features the Behind The Seeds Tour, Wild Africa Trek, and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
Wednesday – After a long (but fun!) day experiencing the Wild Africa Trek and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, my mom and I were once again up bright and early to head to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for opening. On our previous trip, Cast Members actually ended up opening the park thirty minutes before official opening, so we have learned to show up to Hollywood Studios early and it has almost always paid off. Once through the gates, we partook in what I like to call the “running of the tourists” straight to Toy Story Mania. We like to FastPass the attraction then hop on the stand-by line as it is usually only about five to ten minutes at that point. I absolutely love Toy Story Mania, the only downside I ever consider regarding it is how much it makes me wish that Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin would get a little upgrading. Nevertheless, as usual we had a great ride. We then backtracked to Starring Rolls Café to pick up some coffee and the infamous Butterfinger Cupcake. Every trip I have my heart set on eating that cupcake and somehow it never works out- most often I am thwarted by the fact that Starring Rolls closes at four during the slower months. Regardless, cupcakes for breakfast are always wise choices and this one did not disappoint.
After that delicious breakfast, I wandered off to ride The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the Rock n’ Roller Coaster while my mom looked around in the stores on Sunset Boulevard. So far, that morning had been the best weather we experienced all week. Even though it was still cloudy and overcast, it at least wasn’t raining. But alas, upon exiting those attractions the rain was pouring down once again. Not bothered, we just threw on our ponchos and continued our way through the park. One of the highlights of our visit to Hollywood Studios came in discovering that they had finally changed over the props and costumes on display in The Great Movie Ride! Instead of the Mary Poppins horse and dress from Elizabeth, there was now a great display of costumes and props from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
After working our way through the park, we decided to leave in the early afternoon and take a bus to The Contemporary Resort. Not only did we want to walk around the resort, but we also needed to be able to catch the monorail to the Magic Kingdom for our 4pm reservation at Be Our Guest! Dinner there was absolutely amazing! We ended up being able to preview the main ballroom last November when Cast Members were conducting a soft opening, and since then had not been able to secure a reservation. This trip, we ended up getting really luck and finally booking dinner there about a week and a half before leaving for WDW! We ended up being seated in the West Wing which had some pretty amazing effects and definitely felt ominous. Our waiter was also fantastic in that he took us around the entire restaurant pointing out small details and Hidden Mickeys before our main course came. Plus, we got to meet the Beast himself. If you are lucky enough to obtain a reservation there, I definitely recommend trying the lamb and the gray stuff, it actually is delicious!
After dinner, we made our way to Downtown Disney to shop and wander around for a while before calling it an early night.
Thursday – This morning brought us back to the Animal Kingdom to experience the Conservation Station and the Pangani Forest Trail. My mom and I both could not remember going to Conservation Station since the year it opened, so we definitely wanted to devote a good chunk of the morning to exploring and checking everything out. Unfortunately, the rain was back in full force, soaking us through the ponchos by the time we walked from the train to the building. So our stay was cut a little short. We did walk around and ended up having some great views of the gorillas sleeping right up against the habitat’s glass, but we ended up heading back to our resort around lunch to dry off and relax for a bit.
Of course, by the time we got back the sun was shining so we took advantage of it and relaxed by the pool for a few hours before heading to the Magic Kingdom to explore Tom Sawyer Island. Similarly to the Conservation Station, I have no conscious memory of ever going over to Tom Sawyer Island, so it was high up on my list of things to do. People ask my mom and I all the time how we can vacation in Disney so often? The answer lies in always experiencing new things or things that you haven’t done in years. We take the time to explore different resorts, always book dining reservations in restaurants we haven’t dined in before, and purposely see attractions which we don’t frequently visit. This keeps a trip fresh and fun while still maintaining that Disney magic.
That being said, we spent some time wandering around before taking the rafts back to Frontierland. We then took our time working our way through the Magic Kingdom before heading back to the hotel to rest up for another early morning.
Friday – This of all days was the one I was looking most forward to from our whole vacation- the first day of Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival!! Despite the Festival’s start, we actually headed first to Test Track since it opened at 9am and the booths did not open until 11am. I was pleased to see that Test Track’s new effects and the rankings of each guest’s vehicle were working. I had experienced the attraction twice in April shortly after it debuted, and unfortunately there was a lot that either wasn’t working at all or was only partially working. Experiencing it this time definitely redeemed the attraction for me!
After Test Track, we took our time wandering through the Festival Center which is located in the old Wonders of Life Pavilion. The Center always has some great merchandise as well as cooking supplies, so if you are a foodie you should definitely check it out.
At that point, it was 11am and we were ready to start eating and drinking our way around World Showcase Lagoon! The first stop was the Mexico booth where we shared the Rib-Eye Tacos, and I had a Mango-Habanero Margarita. Both were delicious, especially the margarita which was sweet upon first taste but really left your with a zesty aftertaste. Next up was the Australia booth where we had the Garlic Shrimp and the Grilled Lamb Chop. Both were very tasty, my only complaint was that the lamb chop was a little fatty. My mom then ordered a Bohae Black Raspberry Wine from the South Korea booth. Unfortunately, I am allergic to raspberry so I was unable to taste it, but she said it was very bitter at first, but left a pure black raspberry aftertaste.
Up next was my favorite booth, Cheese. I literally could eat cheese at every meal for the rest of my life. I love it. So naturally, we ordered both options- the Almond Crusted Blue Cheese Soufflé and the Artisan Cheese Selection which featured a cheddar, brie, and gouda. Hands down, best things I ate all day! But then again, I might be a little biased with my love of cheese. I also had the Once Upon A Vine’s A Charming Pinot which was quite delicious. I am usually not a fan of red wine, but this one was very good.
We decided a short break from eating and drinking might be wise at this point so we stopped to listen to the always amazing Voices of Liberty and to watch The American Adventure. My mom then ordered the Craisin Bread Pudding from the Hops & Barley booth which she maintains was the best thing she ate all day. Once again, I couldn’t try it since I am also allergic to cranberries. (All the good stuff, I know.) We then spent time wandering through the Japan Pavilion before making our way to the Ireland booth to sample the Kerrygold Cheese selection (woohoo more cheese!) Our last Food & Wine booth stop of the afternoon was the Canada booth at which we ordered the Filet Mignon and two of the most delicious drink I have ever had at WDW- La Face Neige Apple Ice Wine. At $5.75 and in a miniscule glass, this is a really pricey drink but it is so perfectly sweet and tart that it is worth every penny.
At this point, we thought it would be a good idea to walk off a little of what we ate, so we headed towards Journey Into Imagination to hang out with Figment. At that point it was nearing time for our Biergarten dinner reservation, so we took one of the boats across to Italy. We had never eaten in the Biergarten before, but ended up having a great time. We were seated community style with two other great families and the food was delicious. We were also able to watch the entertainers come out to sing, play their instruments, and do a really great routine with dozens of small bells. Perhaps the best part was the liter of Altenmunster Oktoberfest which was absolutely delicious!
After dinner, we waddled our way to the Desserts & Champagne booth where we shared the Belgium Truffles and Moet & Chandon Ice Imperial Champagne. We then took our time wandering towards the front of the park when I realized that I must have literally just missed seeing Lou by minutes! I had just walked past the cranberry bog when he uploaded a picture from inside of it! I always have the worst luck with stuff like that. Anyway, stuffed and tired we headed back to the resort to pack up our bags as the following day was our last on vacation.
Saturday – Once again up bright and early, we checked into our flights for later that afternoon, checked out of our hotel, dropped off our bags for Disney’s Magical Express, and stowed our carry-on luggage. We then headed, as per tradition, to spend our last day in WDW at the Magic Kingdom. It turned out to weather-wise be the most gorgeous day of our whole vacation- blue skies, those big fluffy Florida clouds, and some strong sun. So at least in the end we ended up having some nice weather! We only had a few hours before needing to head back to the resort to catch our bus, so we did our favorite attractions including Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and Peter Pan’s Flight.
We then picked up lunch and spare sandwiches to take with us to the airport for dinner later that night. Trust me, cold Disney food is still better than airport food! Then, tired but still not ready to leave we headed back to Port Orleans French Quarter one last time to take Disney’s (Not So) Magical Express to the airport.
So there you have it- a week of rainy weather, multiple tours, Halloween partying, lots and lots and lots of food, great experiences, and many attractions. All in all we had an amazing time…and didn’t even make it twenty minutes into the flight before talking about when the next trip would be!
Have you ever gone to Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival? What are your favorite culinary offerings? Have anything to recommend trying the next time I am there? Be sure to let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
*Pictures are from my personal collection.
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.