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Cooking Around the World Showcase – Baklava from the Morocco Pavillon

Cooking Around the World Showcase – Baklava from the Morocco Pavillon

Cooking Around the World Showcase - Baklava from the Morocco Pavillon

Next stop – The Morocco Pavilion! Located within the World Showcase at Epcot, this pavilion can be easy to overlook. There is no giant landmark that draws attention, no movie or ride found within, and no street performers. Without the bells and whistles of the other pavilions, guests can often walk right on through. If this is you, you are missing out on a plethora of unique merchandise, delicious tastes and smells and architecture that makes you feel like you’re wandering through a bazaar.

Baklava

Morocco Pavillon
Spice Road Table

There are 3 dining options in The Morocco Pavilion:
1. Restaurant Marrakesh: a table service restaurant tucked away in the back of the pavilion with live music and belly dancers.
2. Tangierine Cafe: a quick service location offering casual Moroccan fare such as Mediterranean shawarma, kebabs, and hummus.
3. Spice Road Table: a table service restaurant with a beautiful indoor/outdoor setting located on the lagoon.

This week I created Baklava, which is a rich and sweet pastry that can be found on the dessert menu at Spice Road Table. I found a really great recipe posted online by Back To Our Roots, which I have included below.

Baklava Ingredients:
Serving Size: 1 9″ x 13″ pan

 

  • 1 lb raw, unsalted nuts
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp each of the following spices:
    • ground nutmeg
    • ground cloves
    • mace
    • ground cardamom
    • allspice
  • 1 16oz package phyllo dough at room temperature
  • 1 cup melted butter

Baklava Directions:

 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9×13 inch baking dish.
2. Chop the nuts very fine and mix the ground spices into them.
3. Unroll the phyllo and cover it with plastic wrap and then with a damp cloth.
4. Place 4 to 6 sheets of phyllo in the bottom of your baking dish and brush generously with the melted butter.
5. Sprinkle 5 to 6 tablespoons of the nut mixture evenly over the phyllo.
6. Add 2 more sheets of phyllo dough and brush with butter.
7. Continue to layer the nuts and phyllo sheets, brushing the sheets with butter as you go, until you have used all of the nut mixture. For the top layer of phyllo, use 6 to 8 sheets, buttering each one.
8. Using a very sharp knife, cut the Baklava all the way through, into 4 long rows. Then cut diagonally to make diamond shapes.
9. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown.

I will admit, this recipe called for a run to the grocery store as it features many spices that I don’t normally use. However, now that I have them in my pantry, I will certainly find more recipes that call for Mace, Cardamom, Cloves and Nutmeg.

The recipe did seem a bit intimidating at first, but I actually found it quite simple to put together. First, I chopped up all of the nuts. I did this by hand with no problem, but if you have a food processor it would definitely make this step easier and quicker!

I then alternated layers of well buttered dough and the chopped nuts.

I decided to use puff pastry dough instead of the traditional phyllo dough, which is why my baklava looks slightly different. They came out a little fluffier and delicious!

After cutting my Baklava into diamond shapes and placing it in the oven, I got started on the syrup.

Syrup Ingredients:

 

  • 1 cup packed sucanat or brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • The peel from 1 orange – washed, cut in strips, and pith removed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves

Syrup Directions:

 

1. Combine the brown sugar and the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Add the honey, cinnamon sticks, cloves and orange peel and return to a boil.
3. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Remove and discard the cloves and cinnamon sticks. The orange peel is now “candied”.
5. Add the lemon juice and the vanilla and mix well.
6. Remove the syrup from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
7. After removing the Baklava from the oven, immediately spoon the syrup over the top. Allow the Baklava to cool completely before serving.

 

The syrup is what really brings this dish together and makes each bite melt in your mouth! With brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, cloves and orange peel, I could have just dunked my spoon in it all day.

The best part of my baklava making experience was that my whole house smelled like Christmas! With your baklava fresh, you can now cuddle up, put on Aladdin, light some incense, and feel like you are back exploring Morocco.

Follow us on social media so you can follow our Cooking Around the World Showcase journey. Next week, we are recreating a special dish from Japan! Can you guess which one we chose?

About Me
Hi everyone! My name is Kara and I am so excited to help you plan a magical Disney vacation. My love of Disney started during my very first trip there in March of 1994. Disney quickly became my family’s “happy place”. There was never any question, when it was time for a vacation, we packed our bags and headed to the most magical place on Earth. Nowadays, it is extra special for me to experience the Disney magic again through the eyes of my 4 year old son, Liam, and 2 year old daughter, Jennie. Seeing their eyes light up when Mickey and Minnie pass by and seeing their faces all sticky from Mickey ice cream bars make special memories that only Disney can bring. I can’t wait to help you build those memories together as a family!

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Cooking Around the World Showcase – French Onion Soup from the France Pavillon

Cooking Around the World Showcase – French Onion Soup from the France Pavillon

Cooking Around the World Showcase - French Onion Soup from France Pavillon

 

As we continue along Epcot’s World Showcase in our weekly Cooking Around the World blog series we find ourselves at the France Pavillon. After passing over the Pont des Arts inspired footbridge you will be met with cobblestone lined streets, flower carts, streetside artists and of course, a replica of the Eiffel Tower. This week I decided to recreate a dish from Chefs de France, which is one of our favorite restaurants to book for our families within the France Pavillon. And what better menu item to cook than their delicious French Onion soup!

French Onion Soup

France Pavillon
Chefs de France

French Onion Soup is a well-known classic. With a combination of sweet caramelized onions, rich beef broth and a delicious cheesee crusted top, this is the ultimate comfort food. Thankfully, it is super easy to make as well! The recipe I chose to follow was found on Spend With Pennies and it turned out amazing. Follow along below to see the process!

Ingredients:
6 servings

 

  • 3 large onions, peeled and sliced
  • ½ teaspoon brown sugar (optional)
  •  cup butter
  • 8 cups beef broth
  •  cup dry white wine
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 baguette
  • 3 cups gruyere cheese
  • 6 tablespoons fresh parmesan cheese

Directions:

 

1. Slice onions ¼” thick then cook them for about 30-45 minutes while stirring occasionally over low heat in melted butter until golden.

2. Add wine, beef broth, bay leaf, thyme, black pepper and worcestershire. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Remove bay leaf and thyme and discard.

3. Meanwhile, slice bread and brush with olive oil. Broil 2 minutes per side or until golden. 

4. Ladle soup into ceramic bowls. Add 2 slices of bread in each bowl. Divide cheeses over bowls and broil until golden and bubbly.

 

The first step is to cut up all of your onions. If your eyes typically water while cutting an onion, try placing it in the freezer for about 5 minutes before cutting and make sure you’re using a very sharp knife when slicing.

It is important to cook the onions slowly and keep a watchful eye on them to ensure they do not brown and instead become soft and golden. If you would like to prep your onions the evening before to save some time, you can caramelize your onions in a slow cooker instead.

After my onions were the perfect color and texture, I added in the rest of the ingredients. This is when it became time to play the waiting game!

In order to successfully achieve all of those decadent flavors that make French Onion Soup so special it requires about an hour of simmering. Once finished the broth should be transparent with some caramel coloring. 

This next step is super important! Putting the sliced pieces of baguette in the oven and broiling them before adding them to the soup helps ensure that they do not immediately fall apart. 

I kept them in there for about two minutes per side and made sure they were perfectly golden. Having toasty bread is vital for the overall texture and structure of your soup.

Finally, I poured the soup into oven safe bowls, added the bread, placed the cheese on top and broiled it until it started bubbling. While any and all cheese combinations are acceptable, I highly recommend using gruyere as suggested – it is extremely flavorful and gives the soup a delicious, creamy texture on top.

All ovens are different, so be sure to watch your soup closely while broiling to ensure the cheese does not burn!

Overall, while this was the easiest recipe I have recreated so far, it was also one of the most flavorful. All of the ingredients really came together into a perfect and delicious combination. I thought my little ones (ages 2 and 4) would be skeptical to try this dish, as they are not the biggest fans of onions, but they surprised me by finishing their bowls clean! I can definitely see myself making this recipe again in the near future.

Follow us on social media so you can follow our Cooking Around the World Showcase journey. Next week, we are recreating a special dish from Morocco! Can you guess which one we chose?

About Me
Hi everyone! My name is Kara and I am so excited to help you plan a magical Disney vacation. My love of Disney started during my very first trip there in March of 1994. Disney quickly became my family’s “happy place”. There was never any question, when it was time for a vacation, we packed our bags and headed to the most magical place on Earth. Nowadays, it is extra special for me to experience the Disney magic again through the eyes of my 4 year old son, Liam, and 2 year old daughter, Jennie. Seeing their eyes light up when Mickey and Minnie pass by and seeing their faces all sticky from Mickey ice cream bars make special memories that only Disney can bring. I can’t wait to help you build those memories together as a family!

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Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

Embrace the true spirit of Aloha at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. In Hawaiian, Aulani translates to “Messenger of the Chief”, and the resort brings Hawaii’s fascinating history, legends, and welcoming spirit to light in a way only Disney can accomplish.

Located on the island of Oahu, this tropical resort is designed to bring families closer to each other and to nature, all while enjoying some of the best beaches and pools the island has to offer. Every minute detail, from whimsical artwork to themed recreational areas and fantastic lava rock formations, were designed to immerse guests completely in the story of Hawaii. It’s apparent that Disney went to great lengths to make sure that they respect the history, culture, language, and traditions of Hawaii. Local Hawaiian islanders, affectionately called “Aunties” and “Uncles” are found throughout the resort to immerse you in Hawaiian culture through activities such as storytelling, crafts, Hula lessons, language lessons, and much, much more. With stunning beaches, exciting cultural activities, once-in-a-lifetime adventures, and magical surprises along the way, Aulani brings that trademark Disney magic to the Hawaiian islands to create a family vacation that you will never forget.

Location

Aulani is located on the southwestern shores of Oahu, in Ko Olina (which means “Place of Joy” in Hawaiian). Opportunities for adventure abound in Ko Olina, from snorkeling, shopping, a championship golf course, and much more. The resort is just 17 miles from the Honolulu airport, and is driving distance to both Waikiki and the beautiful North Shore. This location makes Aulani feel like a secluded paradise, but you’ll never be too far from the action.

What’s Included?

In addition to gorgeous ocean views, you may be surprised at how much is included in a stay at Aulani. At no extra cost, guests can enjoy a variety of award-winning amenities, such as Waikolohe Valley – which comes complete with pools, lazy rivers, waterslides, and whirlpool spas. 

Families will also delight in Rainbow Reef, the resort’s saltwater snorkeling area, for an up-close encounter with angelfish, butterfly fish, and tangs. 

Characters love to vacation at Aulani, and you may find some of your favorites lounging around the resort in their beach attire. Classic characters like Mickey, Minnie, Lilo, Stitch, and more have been known to be spotted at dining locations, kid’s clubs, beach parties, and other special events.

Each night, you can enjoy a wide range of entertainment options, from Movies Under the Stars to live performances. Children can stay for free at Aunty’s Beach House, the resort’s exciting kid’s club, while adults can enjoy a complimentary beach chair for some much-needed relaxation time. 

Each stay at Aulani even comes with a free hula lesson for the entire family!

Accomodations

With a large variety of rooms, suites, and villas, Aulani has perfect room options for any party size. Every single room at Aulani has a private balcony, perfect for relaxing in the mornings and soaking up gorgeous island views. The resort offers five different room categories ranging from Standard View rooms to Ocean View rooms. While most rooms can accommodate four or five guests, Aulani also offers many interconnecting options and larger signature suites. Each room is outfitted with modern conveniences, such as a deep soak tub and rainfall shower, flat screen LCD TV, a Mini Fridge, under-bed storage, and a screen door that allows fresh air and ocean breezes to circulate. 

Each room is also carefully designed to immerse you in Hawaiian culture, with beautiful Hawaiian art and unique design. And be sure to check your bedspread – you may just find a Hidden Mickey waiting to be discovered!

Dining

Meals are not included with the cost of a stay at Aulani. However, the resort’s many enchanting offerings will make sure you will never go hungry. 

Exciting character dining experiences are offered at Makahiki – The Bounty of the Islands, the resort’s buffet restaurant. Guests can enjoy both local flavors and international cuisine at this dining location, and of course, there will always be something for the little ones to enjoy. If you’d like a little fresh air with your meal, you can dine at ‘Ama’Ama, an elegant outdoor restaurant serving classic Hawaiian cuisine while overlooking the ocean. 

If you just need a quick bite, Ulu Cafe offers a variety of grab-and-go options and drinks, as well as hot meals. No need to leave the pool for a meal, either – Off the Hook’s casual cuisine and PapaLua’s Shaved Ice serve perfectly for a casual lunch by the water. Beachside guests can also enjoy Little Opehi’s Beachside Kiosk, offering salads, sandwiches, and snacks. 

Adults can enjoy a refreshing tropical drink at The Olelo Room lounge or Wailana Pool Bar, serving a variety of cocktails and savory experiences. 

Of course, no visit to Aulani is complete without an evening at Ka Wa’a, the resort’s signature luau experience. This three-hour dinner show features authentic Hawaiian storytelling, singers, dancers, and fire-twirlers, as well as opportunities to get up and dance with your favorite Disney characters. 

Fun for Everyone

As a resort designed from the ground-up with families in mind, guests of all ages will delight in Aulani’s offerings, with amenities and experiences offered for every age group. 

Younger guests will enjoy a wide variety of experiences at the resort, including Aunty’s Beach House, Aulani’s amazing interactive kid’s club. Each night, enjoy Ohana Disney Movie Nights out on the lawn, or Mo’olelo storytelling with “Uncle” around a magical fire pit. The infinity-edge Ka Maka Grotto Pool and Keiki Cove Splash zone also make sure that the littlest guests don’t miss out on any fun in the sun. 

Children of all ages will enjoy exploring the Menehune Adventure Trail, an interactive adventure with pyrotechnics, special effects, and magical surprises along the way. Be sure to look out for Menehune throughout the resort – following in the footsteps of Hidden Mickeys, the careful eye can find many of these little creatures peeking around corners and hidden in the rafters of the resort. 

Teens will delight in Painted Sky, a branch of the resort’s spa dedicated to treatments for teenagers. They can also party and make friends at the Sunset Mele, a teen-only beach celebration of Music and Hawiian Culture. 

For adults, Laniwai – A Disney Spa is ready to welcome you with over 100 relaxing therapies to choose from. Spa visitors can enjoy luxuriating private vitality baths, six unique rain showers, whirlpool jet spas, soaking pools, and a complimentary Hawaiian Body Polish. Adults can also take advantage of the nearby golf course, relax in a private cabana at Wailana (the resort’s adults-only pool), or enjoy live music and drinks each evening at two unique lounges.

With the perfect blend of adventure, relaxation, cultural immersion, and Disney Magic, Aulani brings the spirit of Hawaii to life in a way you’ll never forget.

Bookings for Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, have officially opened for 2021 and we would love to assist with planning your trip! For any questions or to discuss your plans further, please do not hesitate to contact us at (407) 636-2390 or info@myviptour.com.

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Cooking Around the World Showcase – Scotch Eggs from the UK Pavillon

Cooking Around the World Showcase – Scotch Eggs from the UK Pavillon

Cooking Around the World Showcase - Scotch Eggs from United Kingdom Pavillon

 

 After our Canadian dish last week, the next stop along Epcot’s World Showcase brings us to the United Kingdom pavilion, which celebrates the cultures of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. With the Tudor style gift shops and thatched roof tea shops, you may feel as if you have stepped back in time. This week I wanted to create a dish unique to these cultures, that can be found on the menu at the Rose and Crown Pub. After searching the menu I decided that the Scotch Egg would be the perfect test of my cooking skills (and patience)! 

Scotch Eggs

United Kingdom Pavillon
Rose & Crown

A Scotch Egg consists of a hard or soft boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, coated in breadcrumbs and then baked or fried to breakfast perfection. You can find many recipes online, however I followed the one from Nerds With Knives. While the ingredients are simple, this recipe is a labor of love, so make sure you have space, time, and patience!

Ingredients:
Makes 8 Scotch Eggs

  • 10 extra large eggs
  • 1 lb. pork breakfast sausage, raw, removed from casing
  • ¾ lb. ground pork
  • ¼ cup chopped mixed herbs (chives, sage, parsley and thyme)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil
  • Coarse sea salt (optional)

This specific recipe calls for 8 eggs to be made, but since we are a small family and not hosting any dinner parties during quarantine, I decided to make just 4. Because of this, I opted out of the additional meats and stuck to just the mild Italian sausage. I also did not have nutmeg, so I used cinnamon instead.

Directions:


1. Boil eggs and peel.

2. Mix the sausage, ground pork, herbs, nutmeg, mustard, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and divide into 8 balls.
3. In a shallow bowl, beat the two raw eggs with a tablespoon of milk. In a second shallow bowl, add the flour and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the breadcrumbs to a third bowl. Arrange in an assembly line in the order of flour, egg, breadcrumbs.
4. Put each meatball in the middle of a square of plastic wrap, then place another square of plastic wrap on top. Roll out meat until large enough to cover eggs.
5. Roll each egg in flour, then place in the center of the meat and cover. Dip each covered egg in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, then egg and then breadcrumbs.
6. Fill a pot a third full of vegetable oil and put on medium-high heat. Fry the eggs two at a time for 5-7 minutes.

 

After boiling and cooling the eggs, I started with the sausage mixture. 1 pound of sausage is just enough for 4 perfectly sized portions.

Each sausage ball is to be rolled thin enough to wrap around each egg. I used saran wrap, which can be a bit tricky to manipulate. Parchment paper would be a great substitute as it is easy to handle and you can still see the sausage you are rolling out.

Once each egg is wrapped up and covered in the flour, egg and breadcrumb mixture, it is time for the fryer. If you do not own a fryer you can fill a large pot with at least 3 inches of vegetable oil and fry 2 eggs at a time.

To get the oil to the perfect temperature wait until breadcrumbs turn golden, yet not burnt within a few seconds.

If the oil becomes too hot, the eggs will crisp on the outside, but the sausage may not cook through on the inside. Make sure the temperature is around 350 degrees for the perfect even cook.

My scotch eggs needed a little extra time so I decided to place them in the oven for a few moments to make sure the rest of the sausage was cooked through.

I couldn’t be happier with how these Scotch Eggs turned out. They were crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and the perfect savory addition to any breakfast (or lunch, or dinner)! My 2 year old couldn’t stay away from them, so this is definitely a dish that I will be making again. 

Add a black and tan and put on a British Disney inspired movie like Mary Poppins, and you would think you were right there in the UK yourself!

Follow us on social media so you don’t miss out on the next delicious Disney recipe!

About Me
Hi everyone! My name is Kara and I am so excited to help you plan a magical Disney vacation. My love of Disney started during my very first trip there in March of 1994. Disney quickly became my family’s “happy place”. There was never any question, when it was time for a vacation, we packed our bags and headed to the most magical place on Earth. Nowadays, it is extra special for me to experience the Disney magic again through the eyes of my 4 year old son, Liam, and 2 year old daughter, Jennie. Seeing their eyes light up when Mickey and Minnie pass by and seeing their faces all sticky from Mickey ice cream bars make special memories that only Disney can bring. I can’t wait to help you build those memories together as a family!

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Epcot’s Park Preview Experience

Epcot’s Park Preview Experience

Epcot's Park Preview Experience

Walt Disney World Resort closed mid-March due to Covid-19. Four months later, we are thrilled that all four theme parks are now open! Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom opened their gates to all guests on Saturday, July 11th. Hollywood Studios and Epcot open this Wednesday, July 15th. Follow along with us as we document everything you can expect at Epcot for your upcoming visit!

 

Entering the Park

Parking 

Upon entering the Epcot parking lot, cast members direct cars to park in every other row to allow space between each car. If you are planning on driving to the park, we would recommend factoring in additional time not only for parking, but also for walking up to the main entrance as trams are not currently running. You may travel to Epcot by either resort bus or driving directly to the park. The monorail is unavailable to and from Epcot at this time.

Temperature Screenings/Security 

As you approach the front of the park, Disney cast members will direct you to the temperature screening area currently run by employees from AdventHealth. A representative will quickly scan your forehead to make sure that your temperature is under 100.4 degrees. If your temperature reads above 100.4 degrees, you may take a few moments to cool down in a cooling tent before being screened again.

Security cast members will then direct you to walk straight through the metal detectors. There is no need to stop or open any of your bags as required in the past, this makes for a much quicker and safer process.

Turnstiles

Once you are through temperature screening and security, you will arrive at the turnstiles queue, which will have separated markers on the ground to promote social distancing. At the turnstiles, a cast member will scan your park ticket or Magic Band. Guests are no longer required to use their fingerprint to enter the park to minimize contact.

Masks

Rules

All guests over the age of 2 are required to wear face coverings during their time in the parks. In order to enter the park, you must be wearing a face covering with ear loops that cover both your nose and mouth. The parks do allow guests to remove their masks to eat or drink. To view Disney’s complete lists of rules regarding masks click here.

Relaxation Stations

Disney has added mask-free “Relaxation Stations” throughout the park to cool off throughout the day. These small, roped-off areas allow guests to remove their masks and take a break. Cast members only allow a small number of guests in at a time to ensure that everyone is at a safe enough distance.

Epcot’s Relaxation Stations can be found at the following locations:

  • Outside the Yorkshire County Fish Shopper in the United Kingdom (World Showcase)
  • In between Test Track and Mission: Space (Future World)
  • Inside Akershus restaurant in Norway (World Showcase) as an air-conditioned option

Ride Experience

Attraction and Experience Updates

Despite previous plans for a two-year long renovation, we are so excited that Spaceship Earth is open for guests returning to the parks. This gives guests the opportunity to experience the attraction one last time before any changes take place. Renovations for Spaceship Earth are delayed to a later date.

Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak also returned on July 13th. Guests who are interested in this fun activity can purchase a scavenger hunt map from guest services for $7.99 and find Remy figurines hidden around the World Showcase.

Queues

All attractions throughout the park have new floor markers which indicate where each group should stand in order to be 6 feet apart. Most rides have added plexiglass shields as an additional barrier in areas where the line wraps around or are close together.

All interactive elements found in queues such as Project Tomorrow at Spaceship Earth, and the design stations at Test Track are currently roped off and are not operating at this time.

Safety Procedures

All Disney cast members are permitted to wear face coverings throughout the park.

Most attractions have plexiglass shields in between rows or reserved, empty seats to separate guests. For example, Soarin’ Around the World is currently seating guests in each row, however, plexiglass separates parties from one another. Guests may ride in groups of two or four. 

Ride vehicles are deep cleaned and sanitized by cast members every two hours. We recommend bringing your own sanitizing wipes if you would like some added reassurance before boarding rides.

Characters

Sightings

Epcot is one of our favorite parks on Walt Disney World property to meet characters and Princesses. Even though character meet & greets are unfortunately not currently available, we are so excited that there are still so many characters to see around the park!

Throughout the park previews, Anna and Elsa have been noticed welcoming guests to the park. Around the World Showcase, you may see Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Goofy as well as Disney Princesses making their way from country to country. Joy, from Disney’s Inside Out, as well as Winnie the Pooh, have also been seen frolicking through grass areas in the World Showcase.

Dining Experience

Taste of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Due to Epcot closing shortly after the Flower & Garden Festival began in March, Disney has decided to blend the event together with the annual International Food & Wine Festival. Guests will see a handful of Flower & Garden topiaries placed around the park as well as more than 20 global marketplaces to sample cuisine from around the world. Appropriate social distancing will be mandatory at all marketplaces and high top tables will be offered for a mask-free dining experience. Click here for more information on the Taste of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

Quick Service Restaurants/Mobile Ordering

While Mobile Ordering on the Disney Experience app is not a new concept, it is now required for all Quick Service restaurants. This includes the new Regal Eagle Smokehouse located in America at the World Showcase and Sunshine Seasons in Future World. The process is relatively quick and easy! After you select your restaurant and food, you will be asked what time you would like to pick it up. A cast member will greet you and direct you to the correct pick-up window. Plenty of seating options are available and spaced out appropriately.

Table Service Restaurants

Many of Epcot’s table service restaurants located around the World Showcase are not currently open, which is more of a reason to visit the global marketplace booths included in the Taste of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Several restaurants in Epcot are owned by third party companies and do not currently have set dates to re-open. Restaurants that are currently closed include Chefs de France, Monsieur Paul, Nine Dragons Restaurant, Restaurant Marrakesh, Takumi-Tei, Teppan Edo, Tokyo Dining, Yorkshire County Fish Shop, and more.

We were extremely happy to see that character dining became available at Garden Grill located in Future World. Here you can see Mickey Mouse, Chip ‘n’ Dale and Pluto.  Princess dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall will remain closed for now.

All of the restaurants at Epcot have spaced their tables out six feet apart and will be utilizing paper menus.

Shopping

Stores

Many souvenir shops located in the countries around the World Showcase are currently closed. If you are looking to do some shopping on your upcoming visit to Epcot, we recommend visiting MouseGear, temporarily located at the end of Innoventions East building, where you can find a wide variety of gifts and souvenirs for the whole family.

Markings and signage are found throughout the stores to inform shoppers of health procedures as well as which direction to walk in. Dressing rooms were blocked off and will remain closed for now. Similar to the rest of the park, plexiglass shields are located at all of the check-out counters and contactless payment is encouraged.

Overall, it was a dream to be back in the parks experiencing the Disney magic we have been longing for! While there were many changes from our last visit, we still thoroughly enjoyed our day and felt so fortunate to be part of the lucky Annual Passholders that could experience the day. Due to all of the new safety procedures and the Cast Members implementing them, we felt super safe as we explored the park in the “new normal”.

 

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Hollywood Studios’ Park Preview Experience

Hollywood Studios’ Park Preview Experience

Hollywood Studios' Park Preview Experience

Today we had the pleasure of being some of the first guests back inside Hollywood Studios since its closure back in March due to Covid-19. While Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom both reopened their gates this past Saturday, Hollywood Studios and Epcot will not officially reopen to guests until tomorrow, July 15th. Luckily, we were able to book reservations for the Cast Member Park Preview and get a first hand look. Follow along with us as we document our full experience of the day!

 

Entering the Park

Skyliner

Disney’s Skyliner made its debut back in September and is a fun, alternative way to get to and from Hollywood Studios and Epcot if you are staying at one of the select resorts along its route.

Thankfully, these character themed gondolas will be back in operation for the park’s official reopening tomorrow with some additional safety features in place to ensure proper social distancing in queues. Gondolas will now be limited to one party per cabin.

Temperature Screenings/Security 

Cast members and signs direct you to the temperature screening tent. They quickly scan your forehead to make sure that your temperature is under 100.4 degrees.

Security then directs you to walk straight through the metal detectors. There is no need to stop or open any of your bags as required in the past unless you have an umbrella, metal drink container or aerosol can with you, which makes for a much quicker and safer process. 

Turnstiles

Once arriving at the turnstiles, a cast member scans your park ticket or Magic Band with an iPad. Guests are no longer required to use their fingerprint to enter the park to minimize contact.

Paper maps are still available at the entrance, but it is recommended that you use your Disney Experience app.  

Masks

Experience

All guests over the age of 2 are required to wear face coverings during their time in the parks. However, the parks do allow guests to remove their masks to eat or drink. To view Disney’s complete lists of rules regarding masks click here.

During the afternoon when the Florida heat is at its peak, it does get a little more uncomfortable to keep a mask on, so having the right mask is important. It is also worth noting that you may experience some fog while pairing your mask with the 3D glasses used on attractions like Muppet*Vision 3D and Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. The mask experience was a lot easier than we expected and everyone was wearing them.

Relaxation Stations

We love that Disney has added mask-free “Relaxation Stations” throughout the park. These small, roped-off areas allow guests to remove their masks and take a break. Cast members only allow a small number of guests in at a time to ensure that everyone is at a safe enough distance.

Hollywood Studios’ Relaxation Stations can be found near the entrance of Rise of the Resistance and in the Animation Courtyard next to Star Wars Launch Bay. We recommend taking advantage of the station in Animation Courtyard as it is indoors with air conditioning.

Ride Experience

Queues

The biggest difference found throughout the attraction queues are the new floor markers that indicate where each group should stand in order to be 6 feet apart. Most rides have even added plexiglass shields as an additional barrier in areas where the line wraps or is close together. 

Safety Procedures

Almost all of the cast members working the attractions were wearing plastic face shields in addition to their mask for added precaution. They were also regularly announcing any new procedures to ensure all guests were safe, such as standing 6 feet apart and keeping masks on.

All attractions either had plexiglass shields in between rows or reserved, empty seats to separate guests. Ride vehicles are deep cleaned and sanitized by cast members every two hours. We recommend bringing your own sanitizing wipes if you would like some added reassurance before boarding rides, especially ones like Toy Story Mania that are high touch.

Closures

We were so excited to see that most of the attractions are open and running as usual. However, all shows will remain closed for the time being including For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! and Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage. Jedi Training will also not be available.

Characters

Sightings

While character meet & greets are not currently available, there are still so many characters to see! Character cavalcades go throughout the park around every 20 to 30 minutes and feature characters from Disney Junior and Pixar as well as Mickey Mouse and friends.

In Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge we also found characters, such as Kylo Ren and his StormTroopers, out for patrol on platforms located by the different starships in the area.

Dining Experience

Quick Service Restaurants/Mobile Ordering

While Mobile Ordering on the Disney Experience app is not a new concept, it is now required for all Quick Service restaurants. This includes Backlot Express, Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, PizzeRizzo, Ronto Roasters and Rosie’s All-American Cafe. The process is relatively quick and easy! After you select your restaurant and food, you are asked what time you would like to pick it up. A cast member will greet you and direct you to the correct pick-up window. Plenty of seating options are available and spaced out appropriately.

Some Quick Service Restaurants, such as Woody’s Lunch Box and ABC Commissary, are remaining closed for now.

Table Service Restaurants

While some restaurants were offering walk-ins, we were told this will not be the case once the park opens to all guests tomorrow. It seems at that point, all table service restaurants will require a reservation made in advance. Hollywood Studios’ character dining experience, Hollywood & Vine, will remain closed for the time being.

All of the restaurants have spaced their tables out six feet apart and will be utilizing paper menus. 

Shopping

Stores

While some shops did remain closed there were still plenty of stores open in each of the lands to satisfy all of your merchandise needs! The stores have a capacity limit, and utilize a virtual queue once capacity has been reached. For the shops in Batuu cast members only allow one party in at a time to shop. 

Markings and signage are found throughout the stores to inform shoppers of health procedures as well as which direction to walk in. Dressing rooms were blocked off and will remain closed for now. Similar to the rest of the park, plexiglass shields are located at all of the check-out counters and contactless payment is encouraged. 

Overall, it was a dream to be back in the parks experiencing the Disney magic we have been longing for! While there were many changes from our last visit, we still thoroughly enjoyed our day and felt so fortunate to be part of the lucky Annual Passholders that could experience the day. Due to all of the new safety procedures and the Cast Members implementing them, we felt super safe as we explored the park in the “new normal”.

 

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