For my husband’s recent birthday, I wanted to throw him a party. But hubby found out about it and let me know in no uncertain terms that he’d prefer a trip to his favorite place, Disney World. Our son and daughter met us in Florida and we pretended that American currency wasn’t real as we celebrated his birthday with thousands of cheerful strangers.
We’ve visited previously: off-season when the children were young and absences from school were not deemed child neglect, spring breaks, and a few Christmas breaks. This trip was unique. My husband’s November birthday trip coincided with the last weekend of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Times Square on New Year’s Eve is sparse compared to the food-frenzied crowd we joined.
For two days, we enjoyed amazing food, wine, and cocktails. With 35 destinations offering their specialties, no way could we taste our way around the world, even though the portions were small plates. We did, however, do some damage. Noteworthy delectables enjoyed by my family:
- Chilled tomato gazpacho with lump crab meat from Greehouse Guru
- Steamed green lip mussels with garlic butter and toasted breadcrumbs from New Zealand
- Grilled sweet and spicy bush berry shrimp with pineapple, pepper, onion and snap peas from Australia
- New England lobster roll from Hops & Barley
- Garlic shrimp marinated and sautéed with garlic and butter and served over rice from Japan
- Seared scallop, truffled celery root puree, brussels sprouts and wild mushrooms from Wine & Dine Studio
- Two Henry’s Blueberry Vanilla American Wheat Ale from Craft Beers
- Duck confit with creamy polenta and fire-roasted salsa from Greenhouse Guru
- Lamb meatball with spicy tomato chutney from New Zealand
- Grilled lamb chop with mint pesto and potato crunches from Australia (the aroma was almost enough to return me to eating meat)
- Roast bratwurst in a hard roll from Germany
I also enjoyed the tastiest cocktail ever, Grand Marnier Orange Slush at the Champagne and Wine Kiosk in the France Pavilion.
November 12 was the first Epcot Dapper Day. Many patrons dressed in vintage classic outfits and I enjoyed the formality of gloves to match dresses and heels, suspenders and vests on the men, and the handbags of old. Being surrounded by great food and spirits made the crowd lively and friendly, especially those who attempted to drink their way around the globe. Live entertainment was featured, and Sister Hazel and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy performed while we were there.
Although the festival was the highlight of the trip, it seemed fitting to celebrate a birthday in Celebration, a planned Florida community originally developed by The Walt Disney Company. We dined at Celebration Town Tavern, a family owned restaurant featuring Boston seafood. It’s been a while since I savored fried whole belly Ipswich clams that brought back memories of childhood summers spent in Salem. The food was scrumptious and the restaurant presented the birthday boy with a complimentary ice cream sundae topped with a lit candle.
Of course, we visited Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. My family doesn’t do rides, so I got my adrenaline rush alone. I finally screamed through Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, an indoor roller coaster with blasting music that turns the rider upside down a few times in darkness. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror closes in January, so I paid a second visit to the falling elevator. Rides, shows, and the attention to architectural and decorative detail resulted in a full and satisfying vacation at the amusement park.
No one does parades like Disney. I revert to a child and dance along with the passing characters to tunes from movies past. A few of the floats, particularly the fire breathing dragon, might have caused a few nightmares.
Disney World has a way of entrancing patrons into a world of fantasy and fun. My family and I shared experiences we’ll remember with smiles. As for me, I’m back to working out and eating mundane food.