We recently got to experience a triple whammy of sorts: we visited Walt Disney World Resort on Mickey’s 90th Birthday, which also happened to be Dapper Day AND the opening day of the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. Even though we only had a few hours, I couldn’t resist a trip to my favorite park to see the decorations and sample some of the special holiday treats.
This event has only been around since 2016, but it’s already developing into a full-fledged festival worthy of a trip of its own, especially if you can plan a visit that coincides with the lovely Candlelight Processional. This year’s festival runs from November 18-December 30.
This year there are 12 holiday kitchens around the World Showcase as well as numerous locations around the park where you can partake of some special holiday goodies. You’ll want to grab a festival passport at the front of the park so you can see the menus and venues for all the treats. The passport also includes information on entertainment like the Candlelight Processional and the “International Yuletide Extravaganza,” which features holiday traditions from many nations. There are Chinese Lion Dancers, a Daruma storyteller at the Japanese pavilion, Pere Noel in France, and of course Santa and Mrs. Claus in the American Pavilion.
New this year is L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen featuring traditional Jewish dishes, a “Ralph Breaks the Internet” themed play area, and a Holiday Cookie Stroll. Purchase five select holiday cookies and get your festival passport stamped at each of the five kitchens, and you can visit the Holiday Sweets and Treats kiosk and receive a complimentary “completer” cookie and a glass of milk.
Returning to the festival is Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree, a scavenger hunt where kids help Chip & Dale collect ornaments. Map and stickers may be purchased at several locations around the park for 6.99 plus tax. Last year the prize for completing the hunt was one of three sets of buttons, this year it appears to be a set of holiday cards.
But really, most folks are here for the food and drinks, right? We arrived at World Showcase just after it opened on the first day of the Festival, only to find people already lined up at the Mexican kitchen. Yes, the kitchens are set to open at 12 each day while the World Showcase opens at 11 am.
Fortunately, the cast members had mercy on the crowd (it was a warm, sunny day) and opened about half an hour early. A neighboring gift shop with festival merchandise also opened a bit early. I’m not sure whether times will be adjusted in the future, but it’s worth keeping in mind. Not every kitchen took pity on the waiting crowd, and my daughter was disappointed not to be able to sample one of the Chinese dishes because the festival kitchen was not yet open.
We only tasted a few of the offerings, but we really enjoyed what we had. We did notice that portions are somewhat larger than at the International Food and Wine Festival. The price tag is also a bit larger, with quite a few of the dishes $7 or more, but this makes many of the tastes a very good choice for a Disney Dining Plan snack credit.
Of the items we tasted, we especially liked the Enchilada de Pollo con Mole, chipotle chicken in a corn tortilla topped with mole negro and garnished with shredded Oaxaca cheese and sesame seeds, $6.35, and the Holiday Green Tea “Yule Log:” delicate spongecake rolled with whipped cream filling with a strawberry garnish, $5.00.
The drinks we sampled were all outstanding, and I loved the way the Noche Buena Margarita ($12.00) was presented. My husband found the Spiced Rum Punch Slush (Spiced Rum, Rhum Clement V.S.O.P., Orange and Pineapple Juice with Cinnamon, $10.75) from France’s Le Marche de Noel particularly refreshing.
There’s still time to plan a trip to see the gorgeous holiday decorations and try some yummy seasonal treats! Contact Patricia at All For Dreams Travel today for a FREE quote and help planning your vacation!
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