Friday, September 9, 2016

21st Epcot International Food & Wine Festival by the numbers

62 Days of Delicious Fun To Celebrate  21 Festival Years at Walt Disney World Resort 

Walt Disney World Resort guests are invited to join the fun when the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival presented by Chase turns 21 from Sept. 14-Nov. 14, 2016. The longer-than-ever party will feature global and specialty cuisine, refreshing new beverages and three live concerts nightly.

The 62-day festival at Disney’s Epcot theme park will showcase 30 global marketplaces including four new Future World marketplaces featuring fresh culinary concepts to pair with select wines, beers, cocktails and other beverages. ABC’s Emmy Award-winning lifestyle series, “The Chew,” will broadcast from the festival for the second year and will participate in one of the new Future World festival marketplaces, The Chew Collective. The festival is believed to be the largest food and wine event of its kind in the world.

Here are some fun numerical facts about the 21st festival celebration:
  • Now 62 days long, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival began in 1996 with a first run of 30 days
  • At the 2016 festival, 30 global marketplaces will include new offerings like The Chew Collective in Future World’s Next Eats festival area and Islands of the Caribbean along the World Showcase Promenade
  • Producers of ABC’s “The Chew” will tape 5 episodes of the show before 5 festival guest audiences numbering in the hundreds for each show
  • The 21st festival will feature 32 new marketplace dishes and 49 (as of right now) new cocktails, beers, wines and ciders
  • In 1998, 200 domestic and international wines were poured at the festival. This year, at marketplaces and premium events, more than 300 domestic and international wines will be offered
  • More than 50 wineries and more than 35 breweries from around the world, including local craft beer operations, will be represented at festival marketplaces
  • The new “The Best of Epcot Festivals 2016” cookbook by Pam Brandon and the Disney Chefs features 75 recipes from the global marketplaces
  • 3 Rockin’ Burger Block Parties and 6 Party for the Senses grand tastings will take place at World Showplace during the festival run. In all, the festival will feature 204 premium events ranging from Signature Dinners and Food & Wine Pairings to Beverage Boot Camps and Festival Events in World Showcase pavilions
  • Guest chefs and Disney chefs numbering 250 will present culinary demonstrations and will cook for festival events
  • Celebrity chefs and visiting culinarians from 10 countries and 26 U.S. states will participate in the festival at culinary demos, book signings, and special tasting events and dinners.
  • Nearly 400 culinary demos, beverage and interactive seminars will take place during the 62-day festival
  • During Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak festival scavenger hunt, guests can help Remy scour the park for the ingredients to make his signature dish, ratatouille. Along the way, they’ll find 12 Remy statuettes hidden in each of 11 countries of the World Showcase and at the African Outpost location. Guests can redeem the 12 stickers they’ve collected for one of 6 special pins at Select merchandise locations
  • More than 375 hours of scheduled seminars will take place at the Festival Center for the 62 days of the festival.  These include culinary demos and beverage seminars, the new Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It! interactive events, plus more
  • 186 Eat to the Beat concerts will be performed; 8 musical acts will appear for the first time at this year’s festival featuring entertainment ranging from rock and soul to funk and blues
  • The Festival Passport (previously called the Marketplace Discovery Passport) was introduced in 2010 for the 15th annual festival; today, the free passport will feature pages with all 30 festival marketplaces
  • More than 1,200 fireworks will explode each night over World Showcase Lagoon in IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth nightime spectacular
  • Chase is the festival’s presenting sponsor for the 5th year; its Chase Lounge at the American Adventure Pavilion is open exclusively to Chase cardholders and offers an inviting place to relax and recharge
  • More than 225,000,000 festival dishes were served during last year’s 53-day festival
  • 100,000-plus desserts, including the Hard Soda Floats at Desserts & Champagne Marketplace, are expected to be served
  • In 1997, during the festival’s second year, festival planners introduced the first Grand Tasting culinary extravaganza; in 2002, the event was renamed and moved to World Showplace as Party for the Senses, now featuring up to 50 food and beverage stations and, in 2016, new and different themed entertainment for each event

Disney Parks Launches 10th Annual Moms Panel Search

Today, Disney Parks kicks off the 10th annual search for applicants to join the 2017 Disney Parks Moms Panel. Moms, dads, grandparents, and guardians of all walks of life can serve as panelists for this award-winning, online trip-planning forum.

Disney Parks is seeking seasoned Disney vacationers with diverse backgrounds to lend fresh insights to the Disney Parks Moms Panel that offers advice to guests looking to plan their ultimate Disney getaway. The search is on for new panelists who can answer questions in any of the four languages now used on the forum –English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. Adults who have experience with and a passion for Disney vacations are encouraged to apply now through September 14 by visiting

The Disney Moms Panel began in January 2008 as a simple, question-and-answer forum with only 12 members focused solely on the Walt Disney World Resort. Today, the Disney Moms Panel is a multilingual resource that has tripled in size with a diverse array of enthusiastic panelists with extensive knowledge of Disney vacation destinations and offerings, including Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, runDisney and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Over the years, more than 145 moms, dads and grandparents have participated on the panel and have answered more than 300,000 Guest questions.

“With this being the 10th year of our global search for Disney Parks Moms Panelists, I’m always in awe to see so many passionate and inspiring applicants share their Disney memories and emotional experiences as they vie for a spot on the Panel.” said Leanne O’Regan, Director of Content Relations for Disney Parks.  “Since 2008, the Panel has replied to hundreds of thousands of questions providing personalized answers and often sharing fun stories that help guests with their individual planning needs.”

Panelists tap into their own real-life experiences to thoughtfully answer a wide array of questions. Whether the questions are about visiting as a family on a tight budget, a parent of a child with special needs, or families traveling in groups looking to plan the ultimate getaway, there is truly a panelist for everyone.

How to Apply
Disney Parks will accept applications for the 2017 Disney Parks Moms Panel from noon EDT on September 7, 2016, through noon EDT on September 14, 2016. Visit to enter. The application process includes a series of written questions and essays in the first round; additional questions and essays along with a video submission in Round 2; with the final round being a phone interview. Applicants selected to be panelists for the Disney Parks Moms Panel will be announced in January 2017. Those selected must be available to attend a training session at Walt Disney World Resort in December 2016.

About the Disney Parks Moms Panel
The Disney Parks Moms Panel is an online forum where guests can get tips and insights for a Disney vacation from real moms, dads and grandparents who have mastered the art of planning Disney getaways. Guests can pose questions to panelists in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese, and gain access to other Disney vacation planning tools. Featuring just 12 members in its 2008 inaugural year, the panel has more than tripled in size since. That growth is a result of the popularity of the forum and an ever-growing number of questions submitted by curious parents. For more information and to meet the panelists, visit

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

2016-2017 runDisney Race Season Takes Off Labor Day Weekend at Disneyland Resort

The 2016-2017 runDisney race season gets up and running in September with a string of nine race weekends and events geared for runners of all ages and levels. In the U.S., each race weekend offers runDisney Kids’ Races, 5K, 10K, half marathon and a massive health & fitness expo, while Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend also features the full 26.2-mile marathon.

The runDisney series kicks off Labor Day weekend with the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna and concludes with the Tinker Bell Half Marathon presented by PANDORA jewelry in May. In all, more than 200,000 runners from around the world are expected to participate in runDisney events at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and, for the first time this season, Disneyland Paris.

Here’s a breakdown of all runDisney race weekends coming up this season:

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna (Sept. 1-4): More than 32,200 runners are expected to participate in the various events during this 11th annual event. Many runners will participate in more than one event, including more the than 6,000 runners doubling their running fun during the 10K and the half marathon in the Dumbo Double Dare challenge.

Disneyland Paris – Val D’Europe Half Marathon Weekend (Sept. 23-25,): The much-anticipated debut of the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend comes this fall. Kick-off parties, uniquely designed medals and a course that takes runners through the Disneyland Paris Resort area and the Parisian countryside sets this inaugural international event apart from other runDisney races. This race weekend features the Disneyland Paris 5K and Disneyland Paris Half Marathon, as well as the Castle to Chateau Challenge for runners who complete the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon and a runDisney race in the U.S.

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend presented by MISFIT (Nov. 3-5): This culinary-themed race coincides with the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. For the first time, what used to be a nighttime race will now take place in the early morning hours. Participants will run through multiple theme parks and finish at Epcot, site of an exclusive after-hours post-race party. New this year are the Disney Wine & Dine 10K and Lumiere’s Two Course Challenge, for runners who do both the 10K and the half marathon.

Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend (Nov. 10-13): This 3rd annual race weekend includes a 5K that pays tribute to the 75th anniversary of Captain America, while the 10K gets its theme from the upcoming film, “Doctor Strange”, the latest installment in the Marvel film franchise. The Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon caps the weekend’s events. Runners can put their super powers to the test by participating in the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge – running the 10K and the half marathon. There’s also a pasta party during the weekend’s events, where guests can indulge in a buffet dinner and interact with their favorite Marvel super heroes.

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna (Jan. 4-8, 2017): This is runDisney’s signature event, which began in 1994 and features a marathon that takes runners along a magical 26.2-mile journey through Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Known as one of the top family-destination races, this race weekend attracts more than 55,000 runners and their guests. Participants who didn’t get enough action during the race weekend can run from the parks to paradise by participating in the Disney Castaway Cay Challenge. The Monday after the marathon takes place, guests can sail on the Disney Dream and run a 5K on Disney’s private island in the Bahamas.

Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend – The Light Side (Jan. 12-15, 2017): One of two Star Wars-themed races in the runDisney series, this race weekend at Disneyland Resort is one of the most popular runDisney events of the season. Runners can meet and pose for pictures with their favorite Star Wars heroes as well a variety of races including the Rebel Challenge – tackling the 10K and the half marathon.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (Feb. 23-26, 2017): With more than 26,000 runners participating throughout the weekend, this is 8th annual event one of the largest women-specific endurance events in the country. The fiercest princesses of them all can sign up for the Disney Glass Slipper Challenge, which involves running the 10K and the half marathon.

Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side (April 20-23, 2017): This race weekend is the newest at Walt Disney World, taking place for the first time last April. Before the race, runners have the opportunity to interact with their favorite Star Wars characters from the dark side of the force. The toughest runners can participate in the Dark Side Challenge by doing the 10K and half marathon on back-to-back days.

Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend presented by PANDORA jewelry (May 11-14, 2017): This 6th annual race coincides with Mother’s Day weekend and is Disneyland Resort’s women-specific endurance event. Runners can earn their “wings” across the weekend’s events, and those with a little more faith and trust can do the Pixie Dust Challenge – “flying” through the 10K and half marathon.

Some of the most special features of a runDisney event are the highly coveted medals for each race. In addition to the event-specific medals, runners also have the opportunity to earn a special Coast to Coast Challenge medal, given to those who complete a half marathon at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World resort in the same calendar year. Runners who specifically do the Disney Princess Half Marathon and Tinker Bell Half Marathon will receive a special pink edition of the Coast to Coast Challenge medal. And if the force is with them, runners who participate in both Star Wars-themed half marathons will earn the Kessel Run Challenge medal.

For more information on runDisney events, visit

Re-imagined Flying Fish Restaurant, AbracadaBar on Disney’s Boardwalk

With hues that conjure up the deep blue sea, the re-imagined Flying Fish restaurant beckons guests to Disney’s BoardWalk with a contemporary, sophisticated interior that pays homage to the golden era of seaside boardwalk dining.

A clear-glass school of artful fish and bubbles is suspended from the stretched-fabric ceiling, adding a lightness to the dining room. White linens, wood, tiled walls and deep-blue carpet add a richness to the space that features an open kitchen and 191 seats. An elegant private dining area room at the back of the restaurant showcases part of the extensive wine collection.

The popular “Chef’s Counter” is redesigned, now with seating for 12 at three separate tables directly in front of the open kitchen, where a six-course dinner with its own menu is offered, said Chef Tim Majoras.

Majoras, who was has been on the Flying Fish team since 2011, is at the helm in the kitchen, where sustainable fish is the star of the new menu. Starters include Blue Crab Bisque with jumbo lump crab, melted leeks, aged sherry and tarragon crème fraîche; corn-crusted wild Gulf shrimp, and Tour of the Coast with local middleneck clams, rock shrimp, icy blue mussels and Florida coast grouper cheek. Along with sustainable fish, entrées include planch-seared Hokkaido scallops; Wagyu filet mignon; Maine lobster Nero Pasta with golden tomato sauce, young artichokes and micro-lemongrass; Wild Alaskan King salmon; bison striploin, and a wood-fired Spanish octopus and Chilean sea bass combo.

New high-tech wine technology allows more special wines by the ounce, according to Stig Jacobsen, general manager and sommelier at Flying Fish. The restaurant has more storage capacity, with nearly 300 labels, and almost 80 by the glass. The popular wine flights are back, as well as an all-new cocktail menu.

AbracadaBar Lounge

Next door, the new AbracadaBar “curious cocktail lounge” combines the Golden Age of Magic with the magic of Disney storytelling, with whimsy in the design from the Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) team that creates stories in true Disney fashion.

According to WDI, the lounge was once a secret stomping ground for famous touring magicians, local boardwalk illusionists and the loveliest magician’s assistants of the day. After every magic show, these prestidigitators would gather at the bar, where they’d conjure up new cocktails, swap magic tips and tricks, and often stay up all night attempting to “out-charm” each other with their extraordinary illusions.

Look for cocktails such as “The Conjurita,” with Gran Centenario Plata Tequila, Cointreau, simple syrups and lime juice; the “Parlor Trick” with Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, simple syrups and a splash of soda water, and “Pepper’s Ghost” with Cîroc Pineapple Vodka and habanero lime.

And, the story continues, it was on just such an evening that every single magician in the lounge vanished into thin air, never seen again. And after sitting vacant for nearly 70 years, the secret magician’s lounge is now back in the spotlight.

While it’s rumored that the magicians who frequented the lounge vanished without a trace decades ago, their magic still remains strongly intact, and can be seen, heard, and even savored in the bar’s signature cocktails. From its enchanted magic show posters and mystifying mirrors to vintage props and tricks left behind years ago, AbracadaBar is true immersion in Disney storytelling.

Happy Haunts Delight During Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party At Walt Disney World Resort Beginning Sept. 2

Not-so-spooky ghosts and goblins return this fall – while dastardly villains unleash some mischief — during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, delighting fun-seekers of all ages inside Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort.

On 29 select nights from September 2 through Halloween night October 31, Magic Kingdom Park will host this spooktacular after-hours party from 7 p.m. – midnight.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party features Disney characters donning their favorite Halloween costumes, while partygoers navigate treat trails and candy galore throughout Magic Kingdom themed out for happy haunts. Partygoers can dress up in Halloween costumes and explore their favorite Magic Kingdom attractions.

Eerie entertainment features the twice-nightly “Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade,” and “HalloWishes,” a green and orange fireworks spectacle complete with Disney villains, caps the evening festivities. And the Sanderson Sisters are back! Returning for a second year, the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular stage show brings together Disney Villains and the mischievous sisters to cast a spell over Magic Kingdom three times each party night.

Party dates for 2016 are: September 2, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 29 & 30 and October 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30 & 31. Guests may visit for party dates and prices, or call 407-W-DISNEY.

Guests also can purchase tickets to a special dessert party taking place during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, the Happy HalloWishes Dessert Party. Here, guests can indulge in decadent desserts, a buffet of sweet treats and specialty non-alcoholic beverages and will receive preferred viewing for the 8:30 p.m. performance of Mickey’s “Boo-too-You” Halloween Parade, as well as preferred viewing for the Happy HalloWishes Fireworks Spectacular. For dates, prices and to make reservations for the dessert party, guests may call 407-939-5262.

Party guests can also make dining reservations at some of most enchanting table-service restaurants in the park, including Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table and Crystal Palace. To reserve a table during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, guests may call (407) WDW-DINE or visit

All photos courtesy of Disney Parks

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Walt Disney World Resort Welcomes a New Princess, Elena of Avalor

Walt Disney World Resort will be the place where families can see Disney’s newest princess – the first inspired by diverse Latin cultures – Elena of Avalor. “The Royal Welcome of Princess Elena” is a live performance that will be presented several times daily at Magic Kingdom Park. Its limited-engagement begins August 12.

In the special welcoming ceremony on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage, Cinderella and Prince Charming will host their newest royal friend and invite her to share her amazing story with park guests. As part of the show, Elena will recount her magical adventures and triumphant return to Avalor through the song, “My Time.”

While Elena’s music makes the new show shimmer and sparkle, so does the new princess’ vibrant royal gown and glittering crown. Rich in color and detail, the gown reflects Elena’s special qualities and cultural origins. The one-of-a-kind gown is made from 14 yards of crimson Avaloran satin, embroidered with more than 900 flowers that represent her kingdom and family. The beautiful crown she wears holds 222 dazzling jewels.

Elena’s debut at Walt Disney World follows the launch of the new animated series, “Elena of Avalor,” which premiered in a simulcast on Disney Channel and Disney Junior on July 22. It ranks as the #1 series telecast among all kid-targeted TV networks in Total Viewers, Kids 2-11 and Adults 18-49, for 2016 to-date.

A brave and adventurous teenager, Princess Elena embodies all the qualities of a classic Disney princess, displaying thoughtfulness, resilience and compassion. She has the heart and mind of a true leader, making her a princess for everyone.

Fans of Princess Elena can find specialty merchandise like her dress, crown, and scepter throughout stores at Walt Disney World Resort.

Elena will make her debut at Disneyland Resort at Disney California Adventure this fall.

About Elena of Avalor
Set in the enchanted fairytale kingdom of Avalor, the stories of “Elena of Avalor” incorporate influences from diverse Latin and Hispanic cultures through architecture, traditions, food and customs. Magic, mythology, folklore and music also play an important role, with each episode featuring original songs spanning an array of Latin musical styles including Mariachi, Latin Pop, Salsa, Banda and Chilean Hip Hop. The series airs Fridays at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Disney Channel and weekends at 11:00 a.m. EDT on Disney Junior.

Photos courtesy of the Walt Disney World Resort

Last Chance to see Main Street Electrical Parade at Walt Disney World before it ‘Glows Away’ Oct. 9

An enduring Disney Parks classic, the Main Street Electrical Parade, will take its shimmering farewell trip through Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World in Florida on Oct. 9, 2016.

Since making its Florida premiere in 1977, the parade has become one of the most beloved entertainment spectacles anywhere. Watching the Main Street Electrical Parade has to become a rite of passage with parents and grandparents eager to share the nostalgic experience with their children. Families will have one more chance to see the parade and share this special memory, on select nights, before it departs.

The vibrant parade, a perennial favorite with Disney guests, will next travel cross-country to Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Calif., for a limited engagement beginning early next year.

Brought to light in the early 1970s, the original Main Street Electrical Parade helped establish a Disney Parks reputation for innovative, trend-setting live entertainment. As lights go down along the parade route, the parade brings a variety of beloved Disney animated feature films to life through three-dimensional floats covered with approximately half a million colorful LED twinkling lights. The parade’s iconic musical theme, the electrically synthesized “Baroque Hoedown,” is interwoven with favorite Disney themes. It all adds to the unique upbeat excitement of the procession.

Some of the parade’s most impressive scenes are the 23-foot-tall Clock Tower over Cinderella’s Ball, complete with elegant ballroom dancers in light-covered costumes; the smoke-breathing, tail-wagging Pete’s Dragon; and the 108-foot-long red, white and blue flag finale. Other characters who make appearances include Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and, of course, Mickey Mouse.

The Main Street Electrical parade at Walt Disney World Resort will not appear during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party nights. Walt Disney World guests interested in seeing the parade before it departs on Oct. 9 can check for the latest parade dates and times on or in the My Disney Experience app.