Food Blog Forum 2015: Disney World!
I’ve been to Disney World a few times in my life, both when I was a child and in young adulthood. But the trip we just had a couple of months ago was BY FAR the best yet. The Most Magical Place On Earth with our little guy was certainly magical!
Where do I even begin? My gosh, there is so much I could tell you, but I’ll try to keep it fairly short and sweet.
First things first, a little explanation of what took us to Disney. You might recall that a few years ago, my friends Lindsay, Leah and I planned Food Blog Forum here in Nashville. Well, in the years since, FBF has visited Disney twice. Once was less than a month after Archer was born and the next was just a year later, and while I could have gone and taken my family, visiting with a 1-year-old didn’t really appeal to me. But when I heard that Walt Disney World was hosting Food Blog Forum 2015, there was absolutely no hesitation- I knew we simply MUST go!
Fun in the pool and courtyard at Disney’s Art of Animation hotel
For most of our stay, like other FBF attendees, we were at the beautiful Grand Floridian hotel. We loved everything about this place- the pools, the beach, the proximity to the parks, being on the monorail line, and most of all, the dock right around the corner from our room where we could watch the Electrical Water Pageant at night.
We also added a night to the front end of our trip, and since the Grand Floridian didn’t have any rooms available, I took the opportunity to book us at a place I knew Archer would be tickled with- Disney’s Art of Animation hotel. The suites are themed as Finding Nemo, Cars, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. Nemo is by far his favorite Disney movie, so it was the Nemo suite for us! The courtyards and pools here were so much fun for him that he actually cried the morning we left to go get on a bus to go to Magic Kingdom, begging to stay at the hotel and play. I think we probably could have spent the entire 4 days playing at just that hotel and he would have been happy!
Excited to meet Donald Duck!
But of course there was no way we were just going to hang out at a hotel all day every day. We had Disney parks to conquer! Day 1 was Magic Kingdom, and despite the overcast and slightly drizzly weather, we had a blast. (In fact, the cooler weather may have been a blessing in disguise) Archer didn’t show much interest in most of the rides, but what he did love were the characters! The face you see above is not terror, it’s actually him screaming with excitement/happiness.
I’m not sure if we got lucky or it’s like this most of the time, but the lines for character meet & greets at Pete’s Silly Sideshow were short and moved super fast, so if you’re planning a visit to MK, keep that in mind.
Archer’s favorite experience of the day seemed to be the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House, which absolutely made me the happiest mama, as it was my favorite as a kiddo too! As soon as we finished going through it, he begged to go back again, so we did. And for a few days he talked about moving into that tree house to live forever. Which I kinda wish we could do…
Watch out Mickey, I think Archer may steal your girlfriend!
Day 2 for my family meant a rainy day at Animal Kingdom while I headed to the Food Blog Forum conference being held at the Contemporary resort.
I’m so glad that Disney has photographers everywhere to capture moments like these, particularly since I was not around when Archer met Mickey and Minnie for the first time. They captured so many cute pics of the meeting that I almost felt like I was there!
While I would have loved to see this magical moment in person, I can’t say that I wasn’t thoroughly enjoying my time with other food bloggers at the conference. There were some awesome speakers, and there really is something to be said about surrounding yourself with so many inspiring people for a day.
After a few years of blogging, there are times when I feel myself barreling toward burnout. Trying to balance a full time job, a family, multiple social media accounts, writing a blog (which is almost like a second job) and just a little bit of leisure time is not easy. There are many times I’ve felt like shutting it down, but then I go to something like FBF and I’m reminded of why I started it in the first place and how much I love it.
Or maybe I’m just reminded of how much I love food ;-)
California Grill – Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Braised Pork Belly with Goat Cheese Polenta and Country Applesauce
Ah yes, the food. Let me just say that Disney knows how to host a food blogging conference. Overall I was blown away by their generosity, and the lunch they prepared for us was pretty much mind-boggling. They brought together a huge group of chefs from all of the top restaurants on property to serve us a feast at the California Grill.
Just take a gander at all of these photos. And yes, I ate every bit of this!
Flying Fish Cafe – Disney’s Boardwalk
Local Ocean Shrimp, Risotto di Carnaroli all Frutti di Mare
Sanaa – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Fragrant Lamb Potije with Basmati Rice and Minted Lemon Pickle
Trattoria al Forno – Disney’s BoardWalk
Braised Beef “Bolognese” with House-made Cavatelli
Be Our Guest Restaurant – Magic Kingdom Park
Sauteed Shrimp and Scallops with Seasonal Vegetables and Mushrooms served in Puff Pastry and Creamy Lobster Sauce
Le Cellier Steakhouse – Epcot
Roasted Baby Beets with Pear, Goat’s Milk Feta, Toasted Pistachio, and Petite Greens
Sunshine Seasons – Epcot
Power Salad – Kale, Chard, Chicory, Radicchio, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Quinoa, Goat Cheese, Toasted Sliced Almonds, and Dried Sour Cherries with Spiced Honey Vinaigrette
Disney’s Contemporary Resort Bakery – Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Chocolate Pudding Cake with Chocolate-Hazelnut Sauce and Mint Cream
Florida Strawberry-Orange Cake with Champagne Sorbet
Now that is some kind of lunch, wouldn’t you say?!?
The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion at Epcot
Day 3 we headed to Epcot, which was probably our favorite park of them all. Not only was there plenty for Archer to enjoy (the Seas with Nemo and Friends was definitely the favorite), but mommy and daddy got to partake in some adult refreshments as we made our way through all of the countries, and the kiddo slept in his stroller for almost 2 hours while we did so!
Oh, and we had some great meals here too. For lunch we dined at Sunshine Seasons in the Land Pavilion, and they had some wonderful healthy offerings at reasonable prices.
Pastries in Epcot’s France
Of course, a healthy lunch must always be balanced with a decadent dessert…
La Hacienda de San Angel
And then there was the avocado margarita for dinner!!!! Oh man, this was perhaps the best frozen margarita I’ve ever had. The avocado gave it a creamy consistency and I’m now not sure if I can ever drink a regular old margarita again. Will be trying this at home. For sure.
Must not forget to mention the best purchase we made during out trip, which was the Mickey ‘lightsaber’ (as Archer calls it). I’m not sure of the proper terminology- glow stick? Anyway, they were selling them after dark at Epcot and I think we only paid $12 for it. Definitely well worth the money. Not only did he carry it everywhere with him for the rest of the trip, but we’ve had countless number of hours of play time with it once back home.
Archer and his Mickey lightsaber at Hollywood Studios
Day 4, our last day at the parks, took us (and the lightsaber) to Hollywood Studios for one of the other highlights or our trip, a character lunch with Jake! While most of the rides and shows at HS are meant for an older crowd, we knew we wouldn’t spend too many hours there, but we definitely could not miss meeting Jake of Jake and the Neverland Pirates, A’s favorite show.
The character dining experience at Hollywood and Vine was awesome. The characters were from Disney Junior shows – Sophia, Jake, Handy Manny, Doc McStuffins – and even though Archer doesn’t watch all of those shows consistenly, he knew who they all were and absolutely loved meeting each of them.
Every few minutes, the characters, along with other performers, dance around the room and sing, and kids are encouraged to join in. Great for burning off some of that seemingly endless toddler energy!
Meeting Jake. Thankfully he didn’t mind that Archer put his hand in his mouth.
The happiness this experience brought him was priceless, and as an added plus for us adults, the food was actually great too. Set up buffet-style, there are a plethora of options for picky palates and adventurous ones. I don’t remember everything I had but I do know some things I thoroughly enjoyed were a roasted beet, apple and goat cheese salad, an antipasti salad, lobster mac & cheese, roasted chicken, and a fantastic bean cassoulet.
It’s hard to put into words what a great time we had, and I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to experience this trip to Disney through Food Blog Forum. We look forward to many more visits in the years to come!