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Staten the Facts // Blog

Confessions. A Disney First: Citrus Swirl.

Daniel Staten

I have to admit a secret. I may no longer be considered the credible Disney food fanatic that many of you have come to know me as. Why you may ask?

It wasn't until May that I sampled one of the most legendary Disney snacks of all time. The Citrus Swirl. 

The famed Citrus Swirl. Available at Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom.

The famed Citrus Swirl. Available at Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom.

I regret my actions. I regret the lost time. I regret waiting in the sweltering sun at Aloha Isle while Sunshine Tree Terrace sat empty. 

Please forgive me. I now know what I've been missing. The Citrus Swirl is refreshing. It's cool. It exceeded my expectations. 

All hail the Orange Bird. I'm looking forward to a fruitful relationship in the near future.

Disney Food: Frozen Treats with Anna, Elsa and Olaf

Daniel Staten

As it turned out, I never found the time to see Frozen in theaters. The days went on and time passed by and before you knew it, I opted just to order the movie on iTunes and be done.

Anna, Elsa and Olaf make a daily appearance in the Festival of Fantasy Parade – 3 hour wait not required.

I'm a fan of the movie – I struggled at times to grasp its popularity until my sister brought up a point that I'll run with: Frozen was the first movie focused on a Disney Princess not to feature a Disney Prince that had to perform a rescue, true love's kiss or any of the other things that go along with a traditional Disney narrative. It was empowering to young women. I see that.

Disney has made an insane amount of money on Frozen and it's quickly become one of their most successful properties ever. Today we're taking a look at some of the food items available at Walt Disney World.

When we first arrived at Pop Century, I was a little surprised to see no Frozen merchandise. Just these pre-fabricated – and unappetizing – "crisped rice treats." The expiration date was for three days later. I passed.

These just don't look appetizing. I wonder if the limit was needed for these items?

In Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom, you can purchase a souvenir Frozen frozen beverage with Olaf gracing the cup. This was tempting, but I didn't want to carry it around all day! I guess you can say I just let it go. Do they offer package delivery for food?

Olaf is cool, but I'd tire of carrying this after the drink was gone.

Finally, on Main Street USA, these "holiday apples" grace the top right of the display case of the  Main Street Confectionery. Disney may call them apples, you may call them primitive folk art, either way, they're instantly recognizable and highly coveted.

I'm just glad that the nose wasn't made of Bugles!

Speaking of being highly coveted...each guest was limited to five of any item per day. One morning after strolling underneath Cinderella Castle, I noticed huge line stretching outside of Sir Mickey's in Fantasyland. Sure enough, the store was packed with families buying Elsa wigs, Olaf ink pens and autographs prior to joining the line to meet Anna and Elsa. I stopped by later in the afternoon and the pickings were slim. I was able to get my coworker's daughter one of the Olaf pens for $4.95.

As the Frozen juggernaut continues to draw fans to the parks, I'm looking forward to more treats and hopefully an attraction one day! Until then, I think next time I'll grab a Frozen Coke in that Olaf mug.

Disney Food Preview: 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Daniel Staten

This afternoon Tables in Wonderland invited members to a sneak preview of the International Food and Wine Festival that returns this fall to Epcot for its 19th season!

While I won't be attending, I'm happy to share the menu. It looks like there are some interesting additions to this year's lineup.

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival returns this fall to Epcot!

To welcome attendees, there will be a Buffet Reception featuring:

  • Africa: South African Bobotie with Turkey and Mushrooms
  • Scotland:  Sea Scallop with Spinach Cheddar Gratin and Crispy Bacon
  • Puerto Rico: “Papa Rellena” Crispy Fried Potato Balls stuffed with Pork and Beef
  • Terra: Blackened Chick’n Breast, Farr, Spicy Gumbo Sauce featuring Gardein Chick’n Breast

Epcot takes on a whole new feel during the Food & Wine Festival.

Part of this event also includes a Plated Dinner with several new selections:

  • Patagonia Course: Roasted Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimi Churr paired with Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier.
  • Farm Fresh Course: Griddled “Yard Bird” with Braised Greens and House Made Habanero Sauce paired with the Chateau St. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica® Riesling.
  • Puerto Rico Course: “Carne Guisada con Arroz Blanco” Slow Braised Beef with Puerto Rican Grown Rice, Paired with Medalla Light

Last year's Aulani Sunset was one of my all-time favorite drinks from Walt Disney World. I apologize for my unsightly fingernail.

As far as drinks go, the Aulani Sunset will be making a return this year, featuring Sammy's Beach Bar Rum. It was one of my favorite drinks last year.

The Frozen S'mores was a gamble last year; I'm not sure if it will make the cut this year.

For dessert there's a special trio that's being offered to Tables in Wonderland guests:

  • Hops and Barley: Fresh Baked Carrot Cake with Craisins® and Cream Cheese Icing
  • Refreshment Port: Croissant Doughnut
  • Bean to the Bar: Warm Drinking Chocolate

The Florida grass-fed beef slider was another hit last year. The cheese and pickle added a salty bite to the beef.

I'm excited to try the offerings from Puerto Rice and Patagonia, and the Hops and Barley carrot cake and Refreshment Port croissant doughnut sound very tempting! 

On-Ride Photos, MyMagic+ and Memory Maker

Daniel Staten

Disney announced this week that guests' on-ride photos will automatically link to their MyMagic+ account when they wear MagicBands. That's both amazing and magical. The catch — it requires the purchase of a $199 Memory Maker package. 

A good on-ride photo is well worth the purchase. Me, with medal, middle row, far left.

Although I've been offered Memory Maker for as low as $149 prior to my arrival at the Walt Disney World Resort, I find the initial buy-in price steep. There's an internal conflict I consider each time the reservation agent asks me if I'd like to purchase. 

On one hand, you really can't put a price on photos. They literally are once in a lifetime. I can't go back and recreate a moment in time later. For that reason, I have purchased my on-course photos from the runDisney races I've completed. Note that runDisney photos are operated by a third-party, and not part of Memory Maker.

I don't regret this runDisney Tower of Terror 10-Miler photo one bit – sweat included!

Conversely, on-ride photos are hit-or-miss and most of the time an impulse purchase. As you exit the attraction, your a preview of your photo is flashed on a display for a brief moment in time, beckoning you to purchase before that memory disappears forever. What if I wait and don't get any other on-ride photos? What if another photo comes along later that I like much more?

Maybe this would have been a good photo? I wish I was creative like the girls behind me. All I have is a cropped iPhone snapshot.

My bottom line: I like that MagicBands are being fully integrated to the park touring experience. I wish I didn't have to commit to purchasing Memory Maker to see my on-ride photos at home. What if every guests' on-ride photos were automatically linked to their account via MagicBand, with the opportunity to view and purchase once they return home?

By viewing my photos at home, I'd be more satisfied with the MyMagic+ service overall because I'd choose only the photos I want, rather than spending up to $199 only to find on-ride photos with other guests' hands blocking my face, my eyes closed or other out-of-my-control circumstances. 

My reaction is exaggerated. My friend Patrick's is pure terror. Well worth $18.

Will you purchase Memory Maker? Do you buy on-ride photos? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. 

Road to the Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Daniel Staten

It's been a while since I ran my last half-marathon. Following the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon in January 2013, I took a break from longer runs until the Tower of Terror 10-Miler last October. Since then, I've only participated in one runDisney event, the Inaugural Walt Disney World 10K back in January.

Since then, my running has been a little haphazard, with brief spurts of dedication to getting in some miles. The second half of 2014 is going to be a bit busier, with the Disneyland Dumbo Double Dare coming up quickly in August, followed by the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in early November. Both of these are events that I'm really looking forward to and needless to say, the trip planning has already begun!

Eye on the prize!

Eye on the prize!

Being an Annual Passholder allowed me to sign-up early for both events this year. I'm still on the fence as to whether or not I will upgrade my park hopper to an annual pass in November. I let my pass expire just a few weeks ago, as I won't be at Walt Disney World for another five months or so. Also – I was able to book the free Disney Dining Plan offer early because I have a Disney Rewards Visa card, for which I was required to purchase theme park tickets. 

So far, the trip plan for November looks like this:

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party: We're really looking forward to this! This trip will mark our first for November and our first being able to see the Christmas decorations in the parks! A few years back, I did catch a glimpse of the Christmas tree at Disney's Hollywood Studios, but I've never seen the Magic Kingdom in all of its Christmas glory. Rumor is that this year there will be new decorations on Main Street, USA due to the height of some of the Festival of Fantasy parade floats.

How could I forget about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? After seeing some preview testing in May, I'm even more excited to ride in November!

How could I forget about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? After seeing some preview testing in May, I'm even more excited to ride in November!

Wine & Dine Half Marathon: This will be the fifth anniversary of the Wine & Dine. The sneak peak of the medal looked pretty awesome and the Food & Wine Festival is one of my favorite events. You all know I love food, right? Hopefully, I won't be too exhausted from the Dumbo Double Dare, but I'm thankful that W&D is a nighttime race! They're so much more exciting and you don't have to wake up at 2 AM like some of the other runDisney events!

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is one of my favorite events at Walt Disney World! At this year's Flower & Garden Festival, we tried the ghost pepper dusted talapia and it was outstanding! I'm hoping some form of this dish makes an appearance at F&W. It's high on my list!

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is one of my favorite events at Walt Disney World! At this year's Flower & Garden Festival, we tried the ghost pepper dusted talapia and it was outstanding! I'm hoping some form of this dish makes an appearance at F&W. It's high on my list!

Disney Dining Plan: For the past year, I've had the luxury of using a Tables in Wonderland card for receive 20% off food and drinks at restaurants around WDW. One of the things I like about the DDP is that it encourages us to try new restaurants. Up on the list right now is the San Angel Inn at Epcot! This restaurant has always intrigued us, so we figured we would give it a shot. I've heard mixed reviews, but if the food isn't good we can always make up for it with margaritas from La Cava!

Disney's Wilderness Lodge: Since the DDP arrival dates started the day after the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, we'll be booking a few nights "room only" at Wilderness Lodge. Having never been to Walt Disney World in November before, I'm hoping the weather cooperates enough to enjoy some time by the pool without having to worry about park hopping! I'd love to do the resort tour, spend a few hours by the pool and grab drinks at Territory Lounge. My shoulders just relaxed thinking about it.

Disney's Wilderness Lodge seemed the most "theme appropriate" for a pre-Christmas trip!

Disney's Wilderness Lodge seemed the most "theme appropriate" for a pre-Christmas trip!

I'm sure there will be more things that I think of that we will add to the list! Until then, I need to get working on my running plan!