Friday, April 29, 2016

DCA Food and Wine Festival Report

Welcome to the Food and Wine Festival!

We had been waiting for the Return of the DCA Food and Wine Festival since it first went away during the construction of Carsland around 5 years ago.   It became a yearly tradition to go to the festival and we were super sad when it went away.  Until its departure it had been growing each year—and the hope was that it would eventually rival Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival.    

Here is our Report of what we liked and didn’t like about the Festival and where it could be improved on if it returns next year.
The Bad

The only complaint I had about the Festival –was the availability to book a Beer or Wine Seminar.    I read the Disney Parks blog regularly and when I noticed that they were bringing back the Festival I was super excited.   The Blog mentioned that more details would be coming soon, but they never announced a date of when you would be able to reserve seminars   --which were limited to a small number of people.      Reserving the seminars and the fact that they now charged for them was a change from the old Food and Wine Festival.   Previously you would just line up early and if you got a wrist band you were in.   Paying wasn’t a problem (you would pay for a similar Wine Tasting at any Wine venue).    The lack of an announcement as to when they would be available was frustrating –because all of sudden everything was online already and at first I couldn’t reserve a spot for anything which was disappointing.    I kept checking back for days and finally found one Wine Seminar that we could arrange.      So hopefully next year they will give better notice about what seminars are available and when they will be available.

The Good
The Marketplace.   I personally thought the Food Marketplace was done really well.   They had little building representing different sections of California –that offered limited time only Food Offerings.   The buildings lined the parade route from just past Carthay Circle down to near Little Mermaid.

I’m sure this works even better at Epcot since it is more spread out, but I still thought it was effective, even even crammed all in one section.

Here is what we sampled.   

The Triple Cheese Mac with Smoked Chicken was great.  They had me a Three Cheese.

The Artichoke chips that my wife tried were a disappointment.  Not only did they look nothing like the picture...they tasted bland.

Up next was the Brewhouse.  
The Brewhouse offered a choice of 2 beer flights.  
We tried the Southern California Flight. 

The Fight comes with a card showing what you are tasting.
Our favorite was the Karl Strauss Columbia Street Amber

Then it was off to the item I had been wanting since seeing the signage a few quick weeks ago when I was in the parks with my step daughter.

The White Cheddar Ale Soup with Bacon.  My wife said that she will try and make this at home it was so good.

Then we decided we would hang out at our favorite Wine spot in the park the Alfresco Lounge.    We were the first in line about 30 minutes before it opened.   (We were shocked that it didn’t open until 2pm during the Food and Wine Festival)

The worst words you can read when you want your Risotto Bites.

Once it opened it filled up instantly.   We enjoyed the relaxing view and had our favorite Risotto Bites and some Bruschetta.

I still think the Alfresco Lounge is one of the Hidden Treasures of DCA

We had some time to kill until our Wine Seminar so we headed down to watch the Jungle Book 4-D Sneak Peek.  Then we wanderedover for our Seminar in the Sonoma Terrace section of DCA.

The Seminar we attended was for Eden Canyon Vineyards which features handcrafted wines using minimal intervention.

We aren't huge red wine fans,  but the selections were pretty good. The  2008 "Presente" Dessert Wine was our favorite.   It was like having a chocolate ganche treat.   If I had know ahead of time we should have stopped at Ghiradellis beforehand and grabbed a Chocolate to pair with it.   We would have bought a bottle --but they had already sold out of what they had brought to the festival.

One of the great things about Wine Seminars is that each one is kind of unique as each Wine maker has a different and unique story to tell.  Eden Canyon Vineyards is a small production Winery that bottles about 2,000 cases a year.  Some of their wines our featured at several restaurants on the Disney Property such as Napa Rose and Steakhouse 55

 Here is the link to Eden Canyon Wines.

Overall the DCA Food and Wine Festival was good and I hope it returns.   I would like to see the return of the "TASTE" event that they had  previously. That event was a ticketed indoor event that incorporated entertainment, Wines and Food with Celebrity chefs. They should also bring back the Wine passports they had previously which was a great way to sample a bunch of different wines.    They also had some free culinary and lifestyle demonstrations which we skipped this time around that were interesting.   There was a Star Wars recipes one that I definitely would have visited if it hadn't been on a different weekend.  And of course the Celebrity chef demonstrations (which were out of our price range -since we had to renew our passes).

This weekend  April 29th - May 1st is the last weekend to go.  Check it out.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Disneyland Resort Tip #1: Dude Where's My Car

Remember where you parked your car! 

This seems like an such obvious Tip.
Obvious until you end up watching down aisles clicking that find my car button on your key ring.
I myself have made this mistake before. 
You are excited to be going to Disneyland and have a thousand other things on your mind.

For Example:

Do the kids have a sweatshirt.  
Do I have my pass?
Unfolding the stroller
Putting Sunscreen on the kids
Getting Grandma’s wheelchair out of the trunk
Should I take the good camera or just use the phone?
Telling the kids to stop hitting each other
Too Busy checking in on Facebook
Locking the car
Unlocking the car because someone forgot something
Locking the car again

The excitement of the day ahead is running  through your head. You are thinking about everything other than where your car is parked at the end of the day.

There is nothing worse at the end of the day then lugging your entire family (that is ready to collapse) around the parking lot in search of your car.  The “You didn’t remember where you parked”   conversation is one that no one wants to have.  The worst is when you can’t even remember what level you are on.    Clicking the clicker over your head –hoping the signal is strong enough to find your car through the thick concrete.

There are a couple easy ways to help you remember.

  1.  Disneyland gives you a parking ticket when you enter the structure.  A good way to remember where you parked is to circle the parking area on that ticket so you can reference it at the end of the day
  2. Another easy way to remember is to take a picture of the closest sign on your phone.  That way at the end of the day you can just look back at your first picture and know exactly where to go.

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Disney Magic Kingdoms: 3 Traps and Pitfalls of an Addictive Endeavor

I hadn’t been suckered into a phone game since Nemo’s Reef. 
My Step daughter had tricked me into that one so that would could visit each other’s reefs.   This lead to to an OCD person’s worst nightmare.  Logging into this cute little game to collect fish and build an underwater mega reef.    Luckily at some point my phone broke –which gave me relief from the Reef. 

 I definitely wasn’t going to start over and now –I had hours of my life back.  I went about a good year without playing any obsessive compulsive phone games.   Then Disney Kingdom’s came out.

  1. The Hook    If I became addicted to building a make believe underwater reef for a cartoon fish---I didn’t have a chance when Disney Magic Kingdoms came out.      There goes all my free time again.  I was a big fan of Roller Coaster Tycoon back in the day. This sucks you a theme park fan in with a similar concept.   
    It is basically a Disney addicts dream –or is it a Disney addict’s nightmare?   You basically get to play around in the Disney parks with Mickey and Friends.  Building rides and opening up new characters.
  2.    The Tease   When you start the game only a small portion of the parks is available to you….  But you can see several enticing sections of the park that you will be able to unlock.   And then there are sections you can’t even see yet that are just off screen.   For an OCD Disney addict ---this tease will keep you playing for a long time
  3.  The Trap   The trap of the game (which is where all the money is) is that you need Gems (a lot of gems) in order to unlock certain characters and attractions.    The problem is Gems are extremely hard to come by and are super easy to accidentally use (when you didn’t intend to).   While clicking on the attractions and concessions in order to earn credits –all it takes is one accidental push of a button and 20 Gems will accidentally be used.   It will take days to earn these back …. Unless you of course Buy Some……. T hat is the catch –but it seems like a cheat.   If I can just buy them –then it isn’t much of a game.    It is more of a money pit.       Like many other Free phone games.    I personally don’t believe in paying money to for credits or points in a game.   I’m more than willing to buy actual souvenirs or collectibles in the actual parks.   But paying money to buy a digital Pluto in a game is beyond me.     But I’m sure many people without patience fall into the trap.     Disney may as well just open up a Casino in Vegas---because I really don’t see the difference.
    The Game itself isn’t super exciting ---it takes way too long to accomplish the little tasks in the game (Disney is banking on this to encourage you to purchase your way to a quicker goal).   I’m addicted to the game,  because I desperately want to see the areas that haven’t been unlocked yet.    It just may take me forever to get there. 
Currently Level 21 and just achieved  Buzz Lightyear's Spin

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Disney Restaurant Review: Zootopia Corn Bananas at Award Wieners

Some things you just have to try and you end up regretting afterwards.

An example of this is Chocolate Covered Bacon.

I remember trying it at a Chocolate Festival.   
I figured “I like Chocolate” and “I like Bacon”

“I’ll probably like Chocolate Covered Bacon Right ?”.  

I was wrong of course.   The first bite tasted okay –but then aftertaste kicked in.

So when I saw this limited time treat for Zootopia was going to be at Award Wieners at DCA ---I was interested –but uncertain.

I saw the picture for it on the Disney Parks Blog. 
It looked interesting.  

It was basically 2 bananas dipped in corn and honey batter (Sounds Good) Topped with Powdered sugar (Good right).   It came with a pair of dipping sauces.  Chocolate and Raspberry (Yum).     

Well I had been out to the park a couple of times and curious though I was, I kept thinking “Chocolate Covered Bacon”.   
I passed up on getting this both trips.  The thought of Chocolate Covered Bacon running through my brain.

My 3rd trip to the Disney Parks I knew it wasn’t going to be around much longer so I just had to try it.

Just like Chocolate Covered Bacon the first bite tasted pretty good.       

Again my logic was flawed.

“I Love Corn Dogs” and “I like Bananas”, but just like Chocolate Covered Bacon --apparently not together.   A couple bites in my original positive impression had faded.    Bananas on their own are good.  Frozen Bananas covered in Chocolate are great.  A banana Split is one of the best things ever. 
A mushy warm banana in Corn Dog batter....."NOT SO MUCH"
I’ll give them some props for trying it –but I would not order this item again if they brought it back.

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More Disney fun to come as we head to the DCA Food and Wine Festival later this week.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Cinderella 2015 6 out of 10 (Disney Family Film #4)

Cinderella  2015  6 out of 10

I finally got around to seeing the new Disney version of Cinderella.  It was a good quality remake of the animated film.  I personally think that the classic Cinderella story just isn't that interesting or exciting to me.   I can't find a flaw in the film making itself.   
The acting was solid and the visuals were stunning.   My favorite segment was the Fairy godmother transformation sequence, which I had seen previously in a sneak peek at the Disney parks.  So I guess my only issues with both this live action remake and the original animated feature are the simplicity of the story.   Everyone knows the story.   Cinderella is under the thumb of her evil step mom and her two horrible daughters.  They basically treat her like a servant.  Every women in the kingdom is invited to a big dance at the castle.  Cinderella helps her sisters get ready -but isn't allowed to go.  Then her fairy godmother helps to transform her for the dance with the help of some magic.  She shows up to the ball and falls in love -until she is forced to run away at midnight when the fairies spell is broken.   The end of the movie --is all about finding the girl that fits the glass slipper that was left behind.    

Girls love this fairy tale about a simple girl finding her prince.  It is a classic love story, but nothing exciting really happens in either the animated film or this remake.   She simply falls in love and then the prince searches for the girl that fits the shoe. 

Like I said everything about the movie itself was well done and stayed true to the classic tale.  I just don't think the story of Cinderella is too dull.    

It is definitely worth a rental as a family film if just for the transformation scene, but not one of my favorites among the recent Disney Films and if I had seen it in the theaters I wouldn't have bought it on DVD.

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

DCA Food And wine Preview

I was out in DCA a couple of weekends ago and the Food and Wine Festival was already in full swing.  I was there with my step daughter so we had a different agenda for the day... But I snapped a couple of Pictures as a preview to when me and my wife go out there April 24th.

Here is a look at one of the stages for the free Culinary seminars that is setup in the section of the Mad T Party area in DCA.   We will be heading back out to the park on April 24th for one of the Wine Seminars and to dine at Carthay Circle.  Maybe we can squeeze in a culinary seminar as well.

 Here was the signage for the Beverage Seminars for the day.  It looks like they did a really good job of organizing things for this event.  Super excited for our Food and Wine day.

They also have other events called Lifestyle seminars that cover a range of other things.  This day they had an air brush artist doing a Haunted Mansion painting on the stage where the Mad T Party band performs.

Looks cool

The Festival Merchandise is located where Wandering Oaken's Trading post is in front of the old Muppet 4-D Theater.
Here are a couple samples of what they have.

If you signed up for one of the Celebrity Kitchen events that will be located in the old Who Wants to be a Million Sound Stage --used most recently as the home for Olaf during the winter.

Along the area that leads from Buena Vista street to the Wine Terrace and all the way down to where you can see Paradise Pier,  they have these cool little Food Stations featuring limited time only food items created just for the event.

We can't wait to check out the By the Bay station.

They had me at White Cheddar Ale & Bacon Soup in a Boudin Bread Bowl.

Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek. 
Expect a lot more pictures once we go to the Festival.

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Rollickin' Roadsters: A DCA Ride Review

The Replacement for Luigi’s barely moving  Flying Tires has arrived at DCA.  I took my step daughter out to the park the other week to check it out.  

When Carsland was built one of the 3 attractions was the ill-advisedly  attempt to bring back the Flying UFO ride from Tomorrowland in the form of Flying Tires.   (Seen below)

The ride was slow and difficult to maneuver and pretty much a flat tire of a ride.   

It’s replacement is  called Rollickin Roadsters which is a cute little Family Friendly ride.  

Don’t expect big thrills here…It is a pretty tame ride.  A step below Mater’s JunkYard Jamboree.   The ride uses a track less ride system that has many different routes programmed into it… you can get a slightly different experience each time you ride it.
The ride is aimed at little kids and as such it is a perfect little addition to Carsland.   I often see people commenting or complaining on blogs or podcasts about rides that weren’t really aimed at them.  Everything isn’t going to be Radiator Springs folks.    There is a place for the Heimlick’s Chew Chew Train type rides as well.    This ride is a kids ride and achieves its purpose. 

You enter the ride through Luigi's Casa Della Tires

Making your way through the same memorabilia that was present for the Flying Tire ride.

The look of this ride is great.  The little cars each have their own look.   Here are some pictures from our ride on this cute little kids attraction.

The Cars basically dance around the area in random patterns to different songs.  The best part is when the cars do a little spin at the end of the song.


My Review would be: Adults --don't get to excited about this attraction....but your  little one will enjoy it.

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