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A mid-week getaway to WDW? Yes, please!

My husband and I recently took a short trip where we visited 12 countries on the first day and explored the wildlife of two continents the next. If you haven’t already guessed it, we went to Walt Disney World. While I have long been a fan of the most magical place on earth (thanks to my grandparents) my husband took his first trip last year. If you are wondering why in the world two adults went to Disney for nearly four days let me break it down for you. But first, you may want to get something to catch the drool that may start.

Day One – Arrival

What do you do when you arrive at Disney but you don’t have a park ticket for that day? You go to Disney Springs, of course! With over 100 shops, 60 restaurants and lounges, and 25 attractions and shows there is honestly something for everyone. Not everything is Disney themed, which is either a relief or a bummer depending on your level of love for everything themed. Stores like Coach and Lacoste are mixed in among DisneyStyle and Disney Pin Traders. While the shopping is great it has nothing on the food that can be found everywhere in the Springs. First thing we hit up was the Daily Poutine for the New Delhi Poutine. If you are a fan of curry this is a must get. It was a delicious (mild) chicken curry over fries with paneer shredded over the top. Our next stop was City Works Eatery & Pour House for a few beers while we enjoyed the wonderful weather.

Our next and last stop was a familiar favorite, The Edison. This interesting but warm and inviting speak easy type lounge is everything you would expect at a craft cocktail lounge in New York, Chicago, or Las Vegas. While nothing here is less than amazing, I highly suggest the DB Clothesline Candied Bacon. It was thick cut, sweet, savory, and served on a fun mini clothesline. Each cocktail we tried was delightful and possibly better than the last one. My favorites were the Sazerac and their namesake cocktail. If you are staying on Disney property, be sure to take advantage of the complementary transportation from the Springs back to your hotel.

Days Two & Three – At the Parks

If you aren’t tuned in to all things Disney, or more specifically EPCOT, you may not realize that it hosts some awesome festivals throughout the year. Four to be specific: Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts, EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival, EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival, and EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays. Each festival features unique activities, drinks, and food throughout the 12 countries of World Showcase and there are many additional spots with delectable offerings. At the Festival of the Arts there were 19 spots to grab an artistic spin on food and drink items.

Some of the highlights from Epcot are highlighted below. But let’s be real, most of the things we tried made the list.

  • The symphony in chocolate flight was everything you could hope it would be. A trio of drinking chocolates (yup, drinking chocolate) were paired with creamy liquors. This amazing trifecta was located at The Artist’s Table.

  • Everything at The Deconstructed Dish. Honestly, the items here were all things you know and love but presented in a completely different way so you still got the essence of it. We tried a deconstructed French onion soup that featured a beef broth ravioli and onion bread pudding amongst other things and it was yummy. The BLT and key lime pie were both stunning to look at and were phenomenal. Crispy pork belly, an ooey-gooey egg, crispy brioche, and tomato jam looked a little intimidating but I wanted to eat another order immediately. I am not always the world’s biggest fan of squishy eggs but the yolk tied everything together in a way that was delectable. And the key lime pie tasted better than it looked which was a feat in and of itself.

  • If you like food with a Latin influence the El Artista Hambriento and Vibrante & Vivido booths are a must do. The line for the Encanto themed chorizo and potato empanada at V&V was always at least 20 people long but it was worth it. Seriously, we almost waited in line a second time for it. I hope this booth is back next year. We also tried the carne asada and huarache verde at the first booth were so good. The huarache was made with cilantro in addition to the masa to give it the green (verde) color and a light, bright flavor. If you are one of those folks that doesn’t like cilantro, I would advise that you skip this one.

  • Gnocchi poutine. Yes, we ate poutine two days in a row and I wasn’t even a little upset about it. The Refreshment Port offered up this twist on a Canadian delight by frying the gnocchi and topping them with red wine braised beef, cheese curds, basil, and a big chunk of burrata.

  • The other big winner was in the Morocco pavilion at Tangierine Café. We tried their lamb kefta with chickpea salad, Moroccan bread with three dips, a chai tea mint mimosa, and crispy almond phyllo pockets. These were all winners in my book. The mimosa featured key lime sparkling wine which paired surprisingly well with the spicy chai flavors and the bread was hot and delicious, similar to a pita. My favorite was the phyllo pockets, probably because they had a nostalgic feel for me. They make almond paste that you can buy in a can at the grocery store and it is like candy. Anytime my mom made egg rolls she would make a few desert ones using this almond past and these phyllo pockets were very similar.

To say we just snacked around the world would be an understatement. There were too many items to try and the best part is each item is basically a shared plate size, perfect for two, and priced in a way that you can easily eat around the world for the cost of a nice sit-down meal.

We stopped at La Cava del Tequila, inside the Mexico pavilion, and ordered some chips and dips and two drinks each and spent double what we had the entire day leading up to that point. These drinks are great and there is something for nearly everyone from mild to wild (hello ant rimmed glass!). The service is fantastic, which shouldn’t be surprising, and they are fast. The to-go walk up bar keeps people moving which is awesome since there is so much to see.

While we spent most of our first day exploring the world, we did park hop over to the Magic Kingdom to visit the Haunted Mansion. The park was insanely busy, especially for a Thursday in January, so we snuck in and out before the fireworks.

Our second day was spent with more than 2,000 of our favorite furry, scaly, and feathered friends at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Did you know that Walt Disney World is home to nearly 10,000 animals and two accredited Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facilities? That’s right, both Epcot’s The Seas and Disney’s Animal Kingdom maintain AZA accreditation status, which means that the animals are cared for to the strictest standards of care. Scattered throughout the park were little areas tucked away with animals from babirusas to flamingos and two animal treks, Africa and Asia, and even a safari ride through the homes of African elephants, lions, hippos, okapi, and more. And while more than 300 species live in this park alone it surprisingly wasn’t the animals that stood out the most: it was the message of conservation across the park. From the moment you entered the park, there were signs encouraging everyone to do their part in conserving the species that we share our planet with.

Along with the amazing views Animal Kingdom has great shows like It’s Great to Be a Bug and A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King featuring favorite characters from beloved movies. While we didn’t eat around the world, we did grab lunch and a snack off world in Pandora. Satu'li Canteen offered familiar favorites, build a bowl style, with an otherworldly flair. While picky eaters may turn their nose up to the chicken or beef bowls I would be willing to bet the cheeseburger pods will please anyone. For dessert we grabbed a pongu lumpia from Pongu Pongu. This small deep fried spring roll was filled with pineapple and cream cheese and reminded me of warm pineapple upside down cake. Yum!

Day Four – Until Next Time

While leaving the magic of Disney is never fun, I suggest grabbing breakfast at one of the resorts before leaving. Did you know that you can visit any of the Disney World Resorts even if you aren’t staying there? While COVID-19 safety procedures may require you to book a reservation, check the Walt Disney World website for updated protocols, they will welcome you to any of the resorts in hopes that you will stay there in the future.

The resort at the top of my list is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge so we hit Boma – Flavors of Africa for their breakfast buffet. The restaurant is beautifully decorated to resemble an African marketplace and is very warm and homey. Breakfast includes the standard American buffet spread like oatmeal, omelets, and pancakes but also has items with an African flair including turkey bobotie, which reminded me of frittata, and deviled eggs with smoked salmon. Breakfast also came with jungle juice, also known as POG juice, a refreshing blend of passion fruit, orange, and guava juices. Everyone was so pleasant and welcomed us with the spirit of Boma. I can’t wait to visit them again for dinner next time.

Whether you’ve been to Walt Disney World before or not I would love to help you plan a trip. From a weekend getaway to a week long event I can create the perfect itinerary for you.

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