Epcot ‘Frozen’ Over – Wish List


UPDATE: Disney has officially announced that Maelstrom will be replaced by a Frozen attraction, with Maelstrom closing September 5, 2014 and the new attraction opening in early 2016. The new ‘Frozen’ attraction will take our guests to Arendelle and immerse them in many of their favorite moments and music from the film. The pavilion will also include a royal greeting location where Anna and Elsa can meet our guests. With that, here’s our original post written prior to the announcement that predicted a Frozen attraction coming to Norway, and what we’d like to see happen if one came…

There was a time when Disney characters in World Showcase seemed less likely than pigs flying or…uh…certain ‘things’ freezing over. Well, it seems Epcot’s Norway is about to be Frozen over. Rumors are indicating that Maelstrom will close on September 28, 2014 to make way for a Frozen attraction, which would essentially be a quick conversion of Maelstrom into a Frozen attraction, rather than an entirely new attraction in its place. These possible plans have already proven quite divisive among Disney fans. The consensus among EPCOT Center fans is that Maelstrom should not be replaced by anything-Frozen, which is not set in Norway and is disrespectful to World Showcase. Fans of the addition are generally excited about anything coming to World Showcase, which has had plenty of restaurants and shops added over the years, but hasn’t seen a new attraction since Maelstrom in 1988.

I’m a big fan of movies, and one thing that really fascinates may is how the critical consensus of a film can radically differ from the audience consensus. In terms of Disney attractions, I think the same often happens in terms of the fan consensus versus the average guest consensus. If I had to guess, I would say Maelstrom is in the top 5 in terms of the differential (sadly, it’s probably right there with other favorites of mine like Country Bear Jamboree, Carousel of Progress, and the TTA) between the hardcore fans and the average guests. For many Disney fans, Maelstrom is quotable, campy fun–even a classic attraction. For average guests, it’s a puzzling look into a land inhabited by trolls, anorexic polar bears, and oil rigs.

I love Maelstrom, but I also don’t think it’s a well-done attraction. For me, it’s so bad it’s good. Perhaps I’m not winning any friends with this sentiment, but if you’re a fan of Maelstrom, why do you like it? Do you really think that it’s a well done attraction, or is it just nostalgic fun?

Since I already am not making friends with this blog post, I’ll go a step further: I don’t mind Frozen being added to Norway in World Showcase. Before you throw your shoe at your computer screen, there are some caveats to this, so hear me out… (more…)

Tips for Finding Good Beer At Disney World

walt-disney-world-food-031

Walt Disney World offers a number of craft beers and microbrews in its parks and resort hotels. This post offers tips for finding delicious beer at Walt Disney World, which can be a bit of a challenge. In addition to the normal BMC options you can find just about anywhere (besides the Magic Kingdom), there are some exceptional beers throughout Walt Disney World…you just need to know where to look.

Unlike wine, which (I’m told) Walt Disney World does pretty well–even touting things like their selection of South African wines at Animal Kingdom Lodge–the same effort isn’t put into having high quality beers. Most outdoor vending carts that serve beer at Walt Disney World have Bud Light, plus maybe a token alternative. Nothing against Bud Light–they are great at convincing people their beer is worthwhile with their astronomical marketing budget–but Bud Light is awful. Okay, so everything against Bud Light. BMC are sort of like the fast food of beers: okay options in a pinch, but probably few beer drinkers’ favorites if they had to choose. If Bud Light is your favorite beer, I’d encourage you to try a variety of other beers and give them a chance.

If you haven’t gathered from the remarks towards BMC, I’m sort of a beer snob. Coming from Michigan, I came of drinking age right around the time of the big explosion in craft brewing, with Bell’s opening its brewery ~10 miles from my house about a decade ago. Add to that other great options like Founders (every craft beer aficionado should attend a Kentucky Breakfast Stout release party at some time in their life), Arcadia, New Holland, Dark Horse, and many more, and my opinions of beer have really been shaped by living in one of the greatest beer state. Not really sure how this is relevant to the topic of the post, but I like giving props to my home state when I have the chance. Moving on…

When we first started visiting Walt Disney World as adults, there was a serious dearth of craft beer options, and the selection was laughable. If you wanted a good beer, you pretty much were stuck going to Le Cellier for some Unibroue. While that’s still a great option, Walt Disney World has recognized the growing discontent with BMC, and has incorporated better options into their menus. Things have improved substantially almost every year for the last ~5 years, and continue to get better. So props to Disney for that.

If you’re looking for great beer at Walt Disney World, here are some tips… (more…)

Restaurant Marrakesh Review

Restaurant Marrakesh is a table service restaurant in Epcot’s World Showcase at Walt Disney World. This Restaurant Marrakesh review covers lunch at the Moroccan restaurant, which seems fairly similar to dinner. Just compare the menus for yourself–the Morocco Pavilion actually has great menu pages with photos of each entree to help you decide what you might like before you visit. As you can see, there are a lot of similarities and only a few differences between the lunch and dinner menus. The biggest difference seems to be that lunch is significantly less expensive.

Restaurant Marrakesh participates in the Disney Dining Plan, and accepts Tables in Wonderland for a 20% discount. It can be a good use of a Disney Dining Plan table service credit if you’re trying to maximize your value on the Disney Dining Plan, but only at dinner and only if you order one of the few expensive menu items. At lunch, it’s an incredible value when paying out of pocket, with a few items that are only slightly above counter service prices. 

Before our recent visit, we had never given this Moroccan restaurant much thought because it doesn’t really seem to be on anyone’s radar. It’s not that we have ever really come across memorable negative reviews of this restaurant…we just have never really come across many reviews of it, period, and most we have encountered have only been vaguely positive. This was easy to understand when we stepped inside, as the restaurant was 50% full, at most. The reason it’s not on anyone’s radar is because very few guests are eating there!

Since Restaurant Marrakesh is probably one of the least popular restaurants at Walt Disney World in terms of guest demand, it is a great last minute ADR of walk-up place to eat. We think it’s low popularity can probably be attributed to two factors: 1) Restaurant Marrakesh is located deep in the Morocco pavilion, which is a pretty deep pavilion; and, 2) the cuisine at Restaurant Marrakesh, while mild enough for most palates, is probably the most ostensibly adventurous restaurant in World Showcase. This much is clear when you see the photo-heavy menu on display on a table in front of the restaurant that tries to entice the limited foot-traffic inside. Given the World Showcase shift towards more dining that is “accessible” to families in the last several years, it’s actually a bit surprising that Restaurant Marrakesh still exists as it does.

“Restaurant Marrakesh is my favorite restaurant in Epcot.” I don’t think that’s a sentence I’ve ever heard spoken or seen written by anyone. Well… Restaurant Marrakesh is my favorite restaurant in Epcot. (more…)

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Info & Tips

Epcot-Food-Wine-Festival-0568

Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival at Disney World runs September 19, 2014 through November 10, 2014. During this culinary celebration, guests can taste (and drink!) around Epcot’s World Showcase.  The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is one of our favorite events at Walt Disney World, and is one reason why we love visiting Walt Disney World during the fall.

Although this article will provide tips for the 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, there are a lot of things we recommend doing in the fall; make sure to read our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, the Tower of Terror 10-Miler runDisney event, and our When to Visit Walt Disney World posts to get an idea of what else to do this time of year. As you may know, fall is the perfect time to visit Walt Disney World! Well, my personal “perfect” time of year is Christmas (nothing beats Christmas at Walt Disney World for me!), but fall is a close second.

We’ve been to Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival for each of the last several years, spending more money on snacks than we care to think about! While Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival can be a pricey event, it can also be an a ton of fun, and it doesn’t have to be expensive if you have the right approach (we’ll cover how to save money at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival further down this post).

If you’re looking for what’s new for the 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival or what our recommend plan of attack is for the festival? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s our preview of what’s new, what we recommend doing, and strategy for keeping your sanity at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival! (more…)

Epcot Food & Wine Festival Snack Reviews

Dessert Trio at Epcot's Food & Wine Festival is one of the top snacks...read about 20+ other great choices!

Epcot’s 2014 Food & Wine Festival makes fall great at Walt Disney World. This post reviews the best Food & Wine Festival Snacks, and how to save money by getting the most bang for your buck and value from Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival snacks. This is a great foodie event, but let’s be real: it’s also an expensive event. These snack tips can help you save time, money, and valuable stomach “real estate,” while also aiding you in finding the best of the Epcot Food & Wine Festival snacks!

Even if you’re not a “foodie,” per se, the 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is still a lot of fun and a great way to spend a day grazing the World Showcase at Epcot enjoying good food and drinks, capped off with an evening of Illuminations. The downside to all of this is that grazing Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival can be expensive. Prices for these snacks range from around $3 to $7. Add beer or wine to the mix, and one person could easily spend over $100 on snacks in a single day. That may seem outrageous, but it has happened to us! Unless you have plenty of snack credits on the Disney Dining Plan or you are careful and only go for the snacks that are good values, expect to spend a decent amount of money at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival.

With these Epcot Food & Wine Festival reviews, hopefully you can better (and more economically!) experience the fun without breaking the bank by ordering the “duds” at the various Food & Wine Festival booths. We have ordered many, many items at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival over the past few years, and have gotten a great idea of what tastes good, what tastes bad, what’s a good value, bad value, etc.

Note that there is a bit of selection bias in these reviews, as we no longer order things we tried in our pre-blogging days (you know, before we started taking oddly dramatic photos of everything we ate) and didn’t like or thought offered poor value, and when new things are added to Food & Wine Festival, we generally only try those things that have a little buzz or sound good to us. Thus, there are proportionately more “Top Picks” in this post than there would be if we did a post reviewing every single item at the 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. (more…)