This weekend, for the first time since college sorority days, I saw Disney through a different set of eyes (they’re called wine goggles and they’re pretty awesome).
Jason and I schlepped to Orlando to attend the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. But no road trip would be complete with a few kinks, right?
It all started when I had to wake up at 5:30am (Jason got pre-approval to do this so we could get an early start). We made great time to O-town, pulled up to the hotel to drop off our bags, and headed out front to grab the shuttle to the parks. The WHOLE reason you stay on property is for the ease and convenience of the free transportation back and forth.
So after a 3 hour drive, we were ready to hop on the shuttle to Epcot. You can imagine our disappointment when the first one rolled up 20 mins later…full. “Sorry folks, we’re all full but I will call another shuttle and it will be here in 10 minutes.”
We had to sit outside watching a grown woman dressed like a slutty Minnie Mouse while we waited, and waited, and waited.
Cut to about 45 mins later when another shuttle pulls in…not only full, AGAIN, but this time, “Sorry folks, we’re full….and we’re not going to Epcot on this run, but you can squeeze on, get off at Magic Kingdom and take the monorail!” all said in the obligatory, sugary Disney-employee dialect.
Propelled by the steam coming out of his ears, fueled by fury, Jason stomped into the Waldorf lobby to give them hell. Following him were a handful of other patrons, equally pissed. They were like their own little army a la Braveheart. But instead of rudimentary sickles and axes, they were waving Mickey emblazoned water bottles and wearing crocs. Jason tells them firmly that we are NOT waiting for another shuttle, that this is unacceptable, and they’re putting us in a car and they’re doing it now!
And they did.
Not able to sit and just watch the Disney Debacle go down, I did what any savvy PR flack does. I engaged in some public shaming on Twitter. (sidenote: Twitter is by far the best thing to happen to customer service in the last 10 years. Few things get a company to respond quicker than a tweet from a pissed off patron.)
So we get to Epcot and are ready to start drinking based on that alone. But wait…it gets worse.
So the tickets gifted to Jason were in someone else’s name. Since he knew that would cause some hiccups, he proactively called in the days before, to have them switched over to his name. However, when we got to the ticket window (that we also had to wait about 20 mins for), another painfully sweet Disney employee trained to say eff you through her sparkling eyes and a contrived smile, informed us that they only switched over one ticket and she could not release the other. She even admitted that it didn’t make sense and the error was probably on their part, but there was just nothing she could do and we would now have to go to Guest Services. Yep! Another line. Thank Mickey that there was a guy who was able to help us before we even made it to the complaint window of this line. Within 5 mins he emerged with our correct tickets, and I told him I was in love with him.
Now we were really ready to drink.
I’ve been to Disney more times than I can count in my life (it’s kind of what you do when you grow up in Florida), but have never been to the Food and Wine Festival in Epcot. Closest I ever got was downing jack and diet in unassuming water bottles on a party bus at 6am for a sorority date function.
Epcot during this event is like a different place. People make t shirts saying all kinds of inappropriate things peppered with alcohol and sexual innuendos, like the group who did a 7 dwarves spin-off with their own made up “dwarf names” on the back – Tipsy, Tanked, Drunky, Wasted, Hungover, Lushy & Tore Up. This one sighting led me to one conclusion – you should NEVER bring your kids if you are going to attend this. It really is for grown ups and if you’re gonna do it, go big or go home. Which is exactly why we kicked off the day with a little Garlic Shrimp and Shiraz at 11:30am in “Africa”.
We went in like gangbusters. Trying basically everything that we hit in the first hour. Then, by 12:30, Jason lovingly cut me off because of things like this:
and divine intervention
We took a break from the mediocre food and better wine to mull around, jump on some rides and tour some countries. And when Jason’s cousins met us an hour or so later, we picked it back up.
And then, like all things serendipitous, I remembered that the Cronut had supposedly found its way to Disney, and with some quick detective style googling, I learned exactly where it was. Tucked into a “refreshment zone” typically reserved for amusement park fare like corn dogs and stale popcorn, there it was. Jason and I have been to NYC twice for self-inflicted food tours. And could not snag a cronut (we did however get to experience the chocolate chip cookie shot which was life changing). So when the opportunity presented itself, while we shared mostly everything edible that whole day, this was not up for discussion. We each got our own and didn’t utter a word as we shoved it in our mouths barely coming up for air. Worth. Every. Calorie. And yes, I’m aware there are knock-offs, and we have even tried a couple, but I promise you – Dominique Ansel (the cronut creator for you rookies) is a pastry pimp for a reason.
Before deciding to call it quits we went back to the french bakery, had “dinner” which was bread with tomato sauce, parmesan and goat cheese for me and a bacon and cheese brioche for him. We also left armed with a napoleon and chocolate covered meringue bigger than goofy’s tongue. God forbid we starve in the hotel room.
I had friends meeting us for drinks at the hotel (which were on us because “shuttlegate” had earned us a handful of drink coupons and breakfast the following morning.)
It was a long day. We walked about 7 miles according to the fitness tracker on our phone – but we have no clue how much of the garlic shrimp, sushi, tenderloin tips, shrimp sichiuan noodles, apricot jam filled donuts, shrimp tacos, ribeye tacos, sweet corn cheesecake, ravioli, chicken marsala, chocolate covered cannoli, chocolate ganache belgian waffle, neuske bacon hash, griddled greek cheese with pistachios and honey, spanikopita, tuna poke, baked lobster alfredo, countless beers and wines and god knows what else I am forgetting. It all sounds awesome, but in the interest of full disclosure, it’s not “good”. Some things are better than others (the shrimp tacos and cheesecake from Mexico for example), but the rest was like food court food. Or maybe we are just food snobs – who knows.
We woke up the next morning, ate our free Waldorf breakfast, and headed to Magic Kingdom where instead of the drunk seven dwarves, we were swarmed with toddlers dressed like Anna and Elsa – like hundreds of them. It was like a fine line between the magic of Disney and a creepy storyline for a horror flick. As we made our way through the Frozen clones, we hit up the roller coasters and then we were done. 1) We were spent from day drinking at Disney the day before, #2) It was weird being in the Magic Kingdom without my child.
So we did the next obviously logical thing, and went to eat a light lunch at Texas de Brazil (that was sarcastic for those of you who have never been there), hit the road, and snacked on some Disney fudge.
While the cuisine was not necessarily “fit for foodies”, it was a fun weekend and we made a splash for sure!
And now, I’m never eating again.
Who am I kidding? But I will be clocking some SERIOUS treadmill miles starting tonight…after I eat dinner…and my astronaut ice cream from Disney :)