Tuesday, January 17, 2017

6 Must-Dos at Epcot International Festival of the Arts

Another masterpiece has been created at Walt Disney World Resort.  For those who have forecast that the wildly popular Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival would continue to expand and grow until they merged into a continuous, year-long event, they are now one step closer to that reality.  Simply said, the inaugural Epcot International Festival of the Arts is a celebration of the senses and a blast of Pixie Dust for your soul.

"Artful Epcot" is a journey of taste, touch, sound, smell, sight, and balance.

1.  Taste

Though Epcot festival-goers have become accustomed to all sorts of food and beverage goodies, Epcot International Festival of the Arts feels different.  A mere eight kiosks have been assembled for this six-week gig:
-  Masterpiece Kitchen (Canada)
-  The Artist's Table (The American Adventure)
-  Cuisine Classique (Germany)
-  El Artista Hambriento (Mexico)
-  Pop Eats! (Showcase Plaza)
-  E = AT^2 (Showcase Plaza)
-  Decadent Delights (Showcase Plaza)
-  The Painter's Palate (Odyssey Festival Showcase)

Additionally, existing food venues will offer festival-only specialties, such as Gingerbread Funnel (Funnel Cake) and Artist Palette Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookie (Fife & Drum Tavern).

If you get the opportunity, you must ask the Cast Members for the story behind each festival dish.  My personal favorite was Pop Eats! and the theming behind it.  In the Sixties, American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein rose to fame after his son pointed to a Mickey Mouse comic book and asked if he could draw that well.  Lichentstein went on to paint using a series of dots, as you would find in a comic book.  Many of the choices at this location are on ode to this artist- the Popping Bubbles Cocktail, specifically.  Listen to this Cast Member describe the festival's creative process, while assembling this fizzy, popping beverage.

There's some pop history behind that Popping Bubbles Cocktail!

Every taste has a story, don't it?

2.  Touch

Get painting!  This expansive Wall Mural Painting takes form and color right before your eyes.  Grab a "paintbrush", numbered watercolor, and find a corresponding spot to leave your artistic mark.  The finished masterpiece corresponds to a Disney lithograph, and is replaced as soon as it is completed.  Return as often as you like.  (If you are bringing the littles, ask the Cast Member for a number close to the ground!)

3.  Sound

Authentic Broadway talent has come to Walt Disney World Resort.  Many in the crowd were visibly overcome with the power of both the music, staging, and those voices.  For the first and second weekends, Ashley Brown (the original Mary Poppins) and Josh Strickland (the original Tarzan) bring down the house with songs from those shows, as well as Disney's Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Frozen.  Yes, they announced they had a big announcement for the crowd:

It's official- Frozen is coming to Broadway!!  "Well now they know..."  The Disney on Broadway Concert Series will continue in the remaining weeks with Kerry Butler (Beauty and the Beast) and Kevin Massey (Tarzan), and Kissy Simmons (The Lion King) and Alton Fitzgerald White (The Lion King).

4.  Smell

Maybe it's just me, but I always associate Figment with the sense of smell.  (Too many trips through the Smell Lab and quite a few hits from that skunk, no doubt...)  Figment's Brush with the Masters is a MUST-DO for families.  Providing a fun art history lesson, this "art-filled scavenger hunt" resembles Remy's Ratatouille Hide & Squeak, but with bona fide teachable moments built-in.  Turn your completed map in for your choice of a Figment "Master."  I was thrilled to see Figment be given such distinction!

5.  Sight

Get you and your family into the picture, literally, with these PhotoPass opportunities scattered throughout World Showcase.  These Photo Backdrops provide oodles of laughs, but again, moments in art history for deeper discussion.  Any opportunity to mix learning and pleasure is a WIN for parents.

6.  Balance

Improve your soul's equilibrium with these Complimentary Seminars, a lecture series that offers arts tips on a wide variety of topics, from Watermelon Carving to Photography 101.  I attended the Artisan Spice Blends Seminar & Tasting and "From Animated Films to Theme Parks" with Creative Concept Artist, Lon Smart; SO much to learn, so many inspired topics to choose from. For an additional fee, Interactive Workshops are also offered throughout the festival.

The inaugural Epcot International Festival of the Arts is open, Fridays through Mondays, until February 20th.  Unlike the other more established Epcot festivals, I would say this past weekend was more of a total feel-good experience as opposed to a food and beverage stumble.  If I could go back next week, I would!  This festival is another blockbuster, and my forecast is that it will be expanded in the future.  Yes, it's a Mouseterpiece!!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Where to Find Alcohol in the Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World Resort

Let's face it, since the Magic Kingdom debuted over 45 years ago, there are more and more "seasoned" visitors drawn to Walt Disney World Resort. Thanks to runDisney, tens of thousands of drinking-age runners flood the parks 6 times a year.  Festivals such as Epcot International Food & Wine, Epcot International Flower & Garden, and now the new Epcot International Festival of the Arts do the same.  Multi-generational travel is at an all-time high.  (And no wonder; those original travelers to Magic Kingdom in 1971 are now coming back to introduce the wonder and magic to their grandchildren.)  

The more Walt Disney World attracts and appeals to these "big kids" (as Walt himself referenced), the more incentive The Walt Disney Company has to feed and satiate them.  As the brand never ceases to improve the Guest experience in its parks, alcohol has been slowly introduced into Magic Kingdom Park.  While Be Our Guest Restaurant made headlines years ago by offering beer, wine, and Champagne to their table-service dinner menu in 2012, it took four years of careful study and calibration before the park expanded this alcohol policy.  At the end of 2016, the following restaurants reworked their offerings to also include alcohol:

Tony's Town Square Restaurant

Magic Kingdom
Tony's Town Square Restaurant
This is one establishment that could use a boost.  Though the quality of the food has not changed, the addition of Prosecco (Italian Sparkling Wine), Italian White Wine from Umbria and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Tuscan Reds is a welcome compliment.  These wines represent the regions in Italy that produce the dishes that are served, and thus are perfect compliments to your meal experience.  This is not gratuitous booze, folks!

Magic Kingdom Prosecco, Wine, and Beer
Tony's Town Square Restaurant Beverage Menu
Notice that wine is served by the glass, by the bottle, and by the Quartino, which is a carafe that holds a quarter liter.

Chicken Parmigiana, Focaccia, Luce delle Vite 'Lucente' Super Tuscan
The Quartino is a growing trend in restaurant service.  This mini-carafe is the perfect size for sharing, when a single glass won't do, yet a bottle is too much.  Molto bene Tony!!

Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen

The eclectic menu at Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen is well-suited to the robust beer, wine, and Sparkling Wines offered.

Walt Disney World Alcohol
Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen Beverage Menu
The hearty Belgium Stella Artois Pale Lager and popular Blue Moon Belgian White Ale will pair well to the many spicier American, Latin, African, and Asian entrees served here.  (My Baa Baa Berber Lamb Chops sure needed something robust to dose the fire!)

Franciscan Chardonnay
Ambasha Bread, Honey-Infused Dip, Franciscan Chardonnay
Did you know??  Most restaurant wine menus (especially those at Walt Disney World Resort) list wines from light to bold; a handy reference point for those of us who might not be sommeliers!

Liberty Tree Tavern

I was so excited to sample one of my all-time favorite Magic Kingdom meals- that traditional turkey dinner- with a nice, fruity white wine!  That is, until I saw that Samuel Adams Boston Lager on tap calling my name.

How's this for pairing??

Angus Chuck Cheeseburger, Samuel Adams Boston Lager
You should also note that the Iron Horse 'Fairy Tale Celebration Cuvee' Brut is a Sparkling Wine created solely for Disney Parks.  Hailing from California, it's the stuff dreams are made of!!

Cinderella's Royal Table

Which leads to the Beverage Menu at this iconic restaurant located within Cinderella Castle.  So many engagements begin at this fairy tale spot, that is was begging for some premiere Champagnes and Sparkling Wines for those post-proposal toasts!!

Cuvee Dom Perignon and Moet & Chandon?  I can think of no better way to begin your "happily ever after!"

As you can see, the alcohol additions to Magic Kingdom restaurants are well-tailored and completely appropriate to the menus at hand.  Each choice has been painstakingly chosen to match and enhance the full dining experience.   Given its current configuration, I do believe Walt would be pleased.  As dining at this East Coast park continues to mature and evolve, something it has done remarkably well in its forty-five years, I expect we will see more such appropriate changes.  Beer, wine, and Champagne has been served at Disneyland Paris for twenty-five years without the loss of its family-friendly character.  I have faith, trust, and Pixie Dust that Walt Disney World will no doubt do the same.

Disneyland Paris, Casey's Corner, Belgian 1664 Premium Biere
What you should know:
-  Alcohol will NOT be served unless you are ordering food.  Great news!!
-  Management at Be Our Guest Restaurant knows what drunk and disorderly looks like.  The servers at these additional four eateries will take those notes.
-  At present, there is no plan to serve alcohol during lunch service at Be Our Guest Restaurant.

**PLEASE don't mess with the magic. Drink responsibly!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What Carrie Fisher Taught the Boomer Princesses

She was a Force unto herself.  For those of us born in the generation of Aurora and Cinderella, Princess Leia's trademark cinnamon buns were the first tip-off.  How can one be true female royalty without a crown? Carrie Fisher taught us how.

Harrison Ford
This daughter of Debbie Reynolds ruled her universe with "Girl Power", a still-struggling concept in the infancy of the age of feminism.  Until Carrie, our female heroines donned high-heeled glass slippers, swooned at the sight of danger, and waited patiently for their "prince to come", this Star Wars counterpart was kicking butt and waiting for no man.

Carrie gave young women in the 70s power, the force to become masters of our own universe and create our own happy ending.  Whether strangling Jabba the Hut, posing as a Stormtrooper, or going toe-to-toe with Darth Vader, Princess Leia Organa Skywalker Solo was no prissy princess.  She mussed her hair, got her face dirty, wielded a blaster like (no, better) than Luke, and spoke with an acerbic tongue.  It seems the character and Carrie were kindred spirits. She is quoted: "They asked me on the day if I wanted to have a stunt double kill Jabba. No! That's the best time I ever had as an actor. And the only reason to go into acting is if you can kill a giant monster."

Star Wars

This author, who was raised in the age of Barbie Doll, will remember General Leia Organa; the tough-talking diplomat warrior who challenged my generation's passive female roles.  I may still shine up my crown from time to time, but myself and fellow "rebel" Baby Boomers saute you...

The scene of my own Boomer Rebel Challenge

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Actually Organic Argan Oil | A Runner's Winter Relief

*  I received this product for review only because of my keen desire (and need) to explore the benefits of argan oil this winter!  Affiliate links are used in this post.

organic product
Actually Organic Argan Oil (4.0 Fl. Oz.)
It's officially winter! Ready to crack yet?  For me, once that heat starts pumping, my skin gets un-plumping.  As I spend more time training outdoors (Princess Half Marathon Weekend approaches), I expect to shrivel up entirely.

I confess.  I jumped at the chance to try Actually Organic Argan Oil.  Just what the (soon-to-be) doctor ordered!!

USDA Organic

Argania Spinosa

The properties that most attracted me were the "USDA Certified Organic" and that ingredients label that lists just one ingredient; no silicone, no perfumes, no less expensive fillers.  This 100% natural cold-pressed oil (derived from Moroccan Argan tree) is attractive for several reasons:

-   Natural source of Vitamins A and E
-   High levels of natural anti-oxidants
-   Light, non-greasy, and quick-penetrating
-   Mild odor
-   Friendly to sensitive skin
-   One product can be used head-to-toe

As a runner, we know that training in the colder months can be glorious, stimulating, and tough on exposed skin.  While a sunblock with SPF is advised throughout the year, for me, it simply is not enough to prevent chapping from December to April.  Because this product is so concentrated, I have found one or two pumps is all I need to thinly coat my face (especially around the nostrils and lips), throat, hands, cuticles before I apply sunscreen.  As a bonus, I run my fingers through my hair to prevent crazy cold weather static.

Winter Runners

Top PT Tips:

-    Post-50 and post-menopausal skin will see a marked drying due to shrinking sebaceous gland activity that leads to decreased natural oil production.  Conditions such as rosacea and eczema may occur for the first time. 
-   Medications used to treat renal, cardiovascular, and/or thyroid conditions can make skin fragile and potentially itchy.
-   Diabetes suffers will present with frequent urination, excessive thirst, and extremely dry skin.  In the case of Diabetic Neuropathy, decreased sweat production in the legs and feet may yield to the dermis cracking.  Providing scrupulous external hydration is crucial in preventing skin breakdowns and ulcers.

I have already purchased my second bottle of Actually Organic Argan Oil.  If you would like to join me, you may purchase yours HERE.

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@ActuallyOrgani3 on Twitter

Top PT Tips content is shared for general information and goodwill purposes only.  In no event will we be liable for loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage whatsoever arising from reliance on the information provided on this website.  Therefore, contact your physician before embarking on any physical endeavor.