Every year Disney World puts on a huge international food festival with entertainment that’s really well done. It’s held in the World Showcase section at the EPCOT park and it focuses on cuisine from around all the world. The event is called the International Food and Wine Festival and we had went in 2014 for the first time and had a blast.
This time, our friend’s Chris and Cindy were able to join us and we really had a great time.
We flew into Orlando late at night, since we had left after work on a Wednesday. Because we arrived close to midnight, we had booked one night at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport, which is a hotel literally in the middle of the airport. It doesn’t get more convenient that getting off the plane and walking directly to your hotel.
The next morning we met up with C&C and took the Magical Express bus to our hotel, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. This hotel is themed after the South Seas/Hawaii and was connected to the EPCOT park with a monorail.
If you were not aware, Disney World is enormous, roughly covering about 47 square miles. There are four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney Studios, and Animal Kingdom), two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach), and 30 resorts. This does’t include all of the recreational facilities like the huge sport complex called ESPN Wide World of Sports and the shopping area called Disney Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney). It really is huge.
The Polynesian Village Resort was a pleasant place to stay during our trip. The landscaping was very lush and the rooms were large and comfortable.
This was our view from the room overlooking the Seven Seas Lagoon. On the other side of the lagoon is the Magic Kingdom park and you can just make out Space Mountain building. Right in front of our room were the new Polynesian Bungalows, modeled after the over-the-water bungalows you would find in places like Bora Bora and the Maldives in the South Pacific.
After getting settled into our hotel, we attempted to take the monorail to EPCOT but it had broken down so we had to queue at the Disney bus stop. Minor set-back but soon we were on our way to the park. A quick stop at the park ticket booth and we were in.
EPCOT consists of two separate “lands” – Future World and World Showcase. This is taken directly from the Disney website: Celebrating the human spirit, Epcot has 2 distinct realms: Future World, which features technological innovations, and World Showcase, which shares with Guests the culture and cuisine of 11 countries: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada.
For this trip, our focus was on the World Showcase and the Food & Wine Festival. However, with 11 country pavilions to visit, there was a lot to see, especially for first timers like C&C. Each country pavilion consists of restaurants, shops, and general theming from that specific country. What makes it feel real is that all of the people working at each pavilion actually comes from their respective country. That’s one of the reasons we have always enjoyed the World Showcase area. EPCOT is about 300 acres, almost 4 times the size of Disneyland in California.
Chris posing as a shop keeper in the Moroccan pavilion, he might have missed his calling.
A highlight of the trip was breakfast at the France pavilion before the park had opened. This pavilion is well themed to France and it was easy to imagine yourself in Paris having a breakfast, with French waiters and the overall ambiance of a French cafe. Since Paris is one of our favorite places in the world, this simulacrum automatically rates high to us.
Just so you don’t think all we did was eat for 3 days (but you wouldn’t be far off if you did think that), we did do a couple of rides. We spent one morning at the Animal Kingdom park and as you can tell from this picture, statistically 25% of people find the Expedition Everest ride terrifying.
It was a fantastic trip and what made it so was the company. How can you go wrong with good friends, good entertainment, and good food all rolled into one extended weekend. It’s like traveling the world without flying.