Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Foodie Guide

Food Guide created by Noelle Schreiber

The 2021 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival has officially begun! Guests at Epcot can enjoy this exciting festival taking place from July 15 through November 20. The Food & Wine Festival takes Guests on a culinary tour through 6 continents and also offers fun activities and entertainment.

Global marketplaces located around World Showcase offer the opportunity to enjoy an irresistible selection of gourmet plates and unique beverages. As you indulge in flavors from around the world, you can also treat your senses to fresh sounds and toe-tapping tunes from the live performers around the World Showcase. Guests of all ages can embark on a Ratatouille-inspired adventure that’s très magnifique as they search for Remy on a savory scavenger hunt around the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Cheese lovers can’t miss Emile’s Fromage Montage,  where you can sample a variety of delicious cheeses served in inventive ways. Whatever you choose to enjoy, the Food & Wine Festival is sure to add some fun and flavor to your Walt Disney World vacation!

Click the image below to view our Foodie Guide to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to taste some of these incredible gourmet delights for yourself? It’s not too late to start planning your Walt Disney World vacation for the Epcot Food & Wine Festival 2021. Contact your Wish Upon a Star with Us Vacation Planner or fill out the form on our contact page to get started!

Taste of Epcot® International Flower and Garden Festival Foodie Guide

Taste of Epcot® International Flower and Garden Festival

Food Guide created by Noelle Schreiber 

It may still be a bit chilly outside now, but a hint of spring is in the air as EPCOT prepares for the Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. This beloved festival returns to EPCOT on March 3, 2021 and will continue through July 5, 2021. From garden-fresh cuisines, creative gardens and unforgettable topiaries, this vibrant festival combines the freshest flowers and flavors from around the world.

If you’re planning a visit during this exciting festival, be sure to set aside time to explore and admire the extraordinary character topiaries. Plus, a kaleidoscope of bright blooms and floating gardens scattered throughout EPCOT will make the perfect backdrop for photos.

And of course, a major highlight of this exciting festival is the arrival of 20 festival-exclusive Outdoor Kitchens to the park! A smorgasbord of flavors and beverages await throughout World Showcase as you explore flavors of Spring from around the world. Discover creative cuisine featuring the season’s
freshest flavors, bringing the garden to your table. Be sure to check out our Foodie Guide below to see all the sweet and savory bites as well as refreshing sips that await you during your visit to the Taste of Epcot® International Flower and Garden Festival!

Click the image below for the Taste of Epcot® International Flower and Garden Festival Foodie Guide:

 

Want to taste some of these incredible flavors for yourself this Spring? It’s not too late to start planning your Walt Disney World vacation to experience this exciting festival. Contact your Wish Upon a Star with Us Vacation Planner or fill out the form on our contact page to get started!

Guide to Valentine’s Day at Walt Disney World

Guides created by Noelle Schreiber 

Valentine’s Day is the season of love, and there’s plenty to love at Walt Disney World this time of year!

Check out our foodie guide for all of the special seasonal treats that will be popping up around the Walt Disney World Resort during the next month. If you’re visiting Walt Disney World soon, then you’ll definitely want to check out some of these delightful treats!

Click the image below to see the full Valentine’s Day Foodie Guide:

Shopping more your style? Love is in the air at Disney Springs! Be sure to check out our guide below to see all of the Sweet Finds and special seasonal offerings at Disney Springs.

Click the image below to see the full Sweet Finds for Valentine’s Day Guide:

It’s not too late to start planning your Walt Disney World vacation. Contact your Wish Upon a Star with Us Vacation Planner or fill out the form on our contact page to get started!

Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts (with Culinary Guide)

Festival of the Arts

The Epcot International Festival of the Arts has once again returned to Walt Disney World! This exciting festival will take place January 8 – February 22, 2021. Since 2017, this annual event has provided guests the opportunity to celebrate visual arts, performing arts and culinary arts through a variety of experiences! Explore your creative side and immerse in the arts with artsy activities that are fun for every member of the family.

Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts Decadent Delights Palette Cookie

Visual Arts

Learn how to draw in Animation Acadamy or leave your mark on the hands on wall mural. Also keep an eye out for artful photo ops and interactive experiences. Take the oportunity to bring some art home with you as well!

Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts

Performing Arts

Catch captivating performances everywhere you turn! Enjoy live art
performances! Listen to the Voices of Liberty sing a new songbook and amaze at Art Defying Gravity.

Culinary Arts

Art critics and gourmands alike can enjoy a feast for the eyes as well as the palate! Explore a world where food imitates art as the epicurean elite converge to create mouthwatering magic that rivals the masters.

Click the image below to view a Taste of Epcot® International Festival of the Arts Culinary Guide

Food Guide created by Noelle Schreiber

Want to taste some of these incredible treats for yourself? It’s not too late to start planning your Walt Disney World vacation. Contact your Wish Upon a Star with Us Vacation Planner or fill out the form on our contact page to get started!

Walt Disney World Holiday Food Guide

Foodie Guide to the Holidays

Food Guides created by Noelle Schreiber 

The holiday season at the Walt Disney World Resort officially started this week, and we are so excited about all the magical experiences happening around the theme parks and resorts this year!

From Nov. 6 through Dec. 30, guests can enjoy special cavalcades, seasonal décor, themed merchandise, delicious treats, characters donning their holiday best and so much more. Then, beginning on November 27, EPCOT will join in the festivities with the arrival of the Taste of Epcot® International Festival of the Holidays which will feature live entertainment, holiday kitchens, the Holiday Cookie Stroll and more.

As one of our resident ‘foodies’, Travel Specialist Noelle has created guides to the Holiday Snacks available in all four theme parks, as well as a guide to the Taste of Epcot® International Festival of the Holidays! We hope this gets you in the spirit of the season and excited to try some of these enticing holiday treats.

Here are some of the things on Noelle’s “To-Eat” list this holiday season:

❄️Sweet Potato Casserole Funnel Cake topped with Marshmallow Topping, Cinnamon-Sugar, Honey-roasted Pecans and a Caramel Drizzle

❄️Warm Brown Sugar-stuffed Pretzel with Soft-serve Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce

❄️Salted Caramel Spaceship Earth® Cookie

Click the image below for the Holiday Snacks Guide:

Click the image below for the Taste of Epcot® International Festival of the Holidays Foodie Guide:

 

Want to taste some of these incredible treats for yourself this holiday season? It’s not too late to start planning your Walt Disney World vacation for this holiday season. Contact your Wish Upon a Star with Us Vacation Planner or fill out the form on our contact page to get started!

Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

During the holidays I had the opportunity to experience the newest dining experience on property – Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood at Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.


Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood opened July 2019 and has been a hit from opening day! The new Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is quite amazing, feeling more like a Deluxe Disney property than a Moderate resort.

This unique rooftop dining experience is just one of three new options at Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort offering both food and beverage, with Toledo and Dahlia Lounge offering spectacular views as well!

The menu choices are inspired by the flavors of Spain and include tapas, steaks and seafood created in the on-stage tapas kitchen.

The atmosphere and experience was amazing and the service top notch! The food presentation was impeccable and everything was prepared to perfection!


We started our meal with an order of Tronchón Cheese Gratinado from the Cazuelas (Spanish for cooking pot) menu. This was essentially a cheese bread with tupelo honey and lavender, it was very flavorful and you could smell and taste the lavender.

Our entrées included Scallops (fava hummus, olives, harissa vinaigrette, roasted carrots, yogurt powder), Manhattan Filet (olive oil-potato purée, grilled onions, dates, sherry vinaigrette) and the Red Wine-braised Chicken (grapes, sherry vinegar, roasted tomato ‘bomba’ rice). In addition, we ordered the Roasted Cauliflower and Olive Oil-Potato Purée as sides to share.
My only critique was regarding the descriptions and recommendations from our server – – – my husband and I ended up switching plates once our food arrived because our server was not accurate with his information.


I would definitely recommend the Manhattan Filet (which is what I ended up eating) and feel that the Red Wine-braised Chicken is a heavier meal (which my husband ended up eating). And, definitely order the Roasted Cauliflower side dish – I am not a fan of cauliflower but this dish was amazing!

If you aren’t looking for a table service dining experience, but have the time, I highly recommend simply going to this new resort on property to check it out – the new lobby, Barcelona Lounge, Dahlia Lounge and Three Bridges Bar & Grill all offer amazing experiences and the feel of a Deluxe resort. And, yes, I have experienced and enjoyed it all!!

I am in LOVE with the lobby area – the lighted panels randomly change colors and the tables all have charging ports!
Barcelona Lounge
Three Bridges Bar & Grill

Let your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent know that you would like to experience Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort during your next Walt Disney World vacation!

Disneyland Resort in California

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

I have been to Disneyland in California several times – when I lived in California and again in September 2016 when I participated in the runDisney Coast-to-Coast Half Marathon – I didn’t know at the time, but this was the last year for this runDisney experience in California. However, a lot has changed even since 2016 so I was very excited to be chosen to participate in a Travel Agent learning experience at this Disney Destination!

While we toured all 3 of the Disneyland property hotels, we stayed at the Disneyland Hotel. Even though you are in the heart of Anaheim, this is still a very large property with 3 towers for rooms. We stayed in standard rooms that all had magical Disney touches from the light fixtures to the headboards to the faucets! Everything was so “Disney”.


And we toured a themed signature suite at this hotel – Adventureland Suite – which was AMAZING! This suite takes guests on the most luxurious safari ever. With the feel of an explorers’ camp from the 1930s, the Adventureland Suite features a master bedroom fashioned as a safari lodge with a claw-foot bathtub in the living area. In the master bathroom there is a grotto with a foot spa, steam and rain showers, and lighting and sound effects that make you feel like you’re in a rain forest or savanna. There is also a second bedroom, which makes you feel like you’re sleeping in a safari tent. The Asian/Indian-inspired main living area includes a wet bar, a flat-screen TV hidden behind artwork above the faux fireplace, and a “hidden” closet (hint: try the bookcase). When you’re in this suite, it even sounds like you’re in the jungle: the doorbell “rings” with tiki gods playing drums, and – for the first time in a Disneyland Hotel suite – themed background music plays three separate tracks inspired by the Jungle Cruise, Disney adventure-themed movies and music first created for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park.

There are also 3 other signature suites at the Disneyland Hotel – Fairy Tale, Big Thunder, Mickey Mouse Penthouse and Pirates of the Caribbean. All signature suites include concierge level access.

All of the property hotels have signature suites and concierge level service. The concierge service is different than Walt Disney World where you book the Club Level room type for concierge level services. At Disneyland Resort you book any room type and then pay additional to add on the concierge services per person per night. And, unlike Walt Disney World, you are encouraged to take food and beverage from the concierge offerings to enjoy when in the parks.

During our resort tours we also enjoyed Brunch at Storyteller’s Café with Mickey and Friends! This character dining experience offers a delicious buffet with great character interaction for Breakfast and Brunch. It was a fun experience and I would definitely recommend it for your Disneyland vacation!

Dining reservations open 60 days in advance and walk-ins are typically not available.
There are 5 locations for character dining:
– Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & SpaDisney Princess Breakfast Adventures (Napa Rose) – Breakfast with Disney Princesses
Disneyland Park – Breakfast with Minnie & Friends at Plaza Inn – 7 -11 am *Park ticket required
Disneyland HotelGoofy’s Kitchen – Breakfast & Dinner
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & SpaMickey’s Tales of Adventure (Storyteller’s Café) – Breakfast and Brunch – after 2:30 pm there are no characters
Paradise PierDonald’s Seaside Buffet – PCH Grill is a small venue and characters are only at Breakfast – this dining experience is known for the best character interaction.

There are 2 parks at Disneyland Resort – Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park – and they are only separated by a small courtyard-like area so park hoppers are definitely the way to go with tickets at Disneyland. Disneyland Park is very similar to Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort except it’s a bit smaller – or at least seems smaller. This is where the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open Summer 2019.
Note: With Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge scheduled to open Summer 2019, non-Star Wars fans should plan to visit NOW before opening date.


Disney California Adventure is similar to Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort. The two new attractions, Incredicoaster and Guardian’s of the Galaxy, were definitely on my “to-do” list as they were not open yet during my 2016 trip! Neither disappointed but Guardian’s of the Galaxy was my favorite – but one of my favorite rides at Walt Disney World is Tower of Terror and Guardian’s is a similar experience with different theming and a bit different experience but close.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa also offers a secret entrance for guests staying at that hotel. This hotel sits “inside” Disney’s California Adventure and offers great views of the park.

And, if you are looking for a quiet spot to get away from it all – the Alfresco Tasting Terrace is the perfect little spot!

The Downtown Disney area offers shopping, dining and entertainment with many outdoor areas to enjoy during the day and at night. Splitsville is new to Disneyland and more new venues will be opening soon!

I also highly recommend adding MaxPass to your resort package. MaxPass will allow you to make advance FASTPASS selections the day of your visit and also includes PhotoPass. If you aren’t heading in to the parks first thing in the morning, be sure to walk over to the Monorail entrance to activate your park tickets – just enter the Monorail area, scan your ticket and exit – you can then make FASTPASS selections if you have MaxPass. Without MaxPass you will only be able to use the paper FASTPASS system once inside the parks. With MaxPass you can have mobile FASTPASS selections and also paper FASTPASS selections for the same or overlapping times.

The PhotoPass system is a bit different at Disneyland than Walt Disney World… for ride photos you will want to take a screenshot of your photo code and enter it into your Disneyland Mobile App as the photos do not automatically capture to your account like they do with your My Disney Experience (MDE) account at Walt Disney World.

And, once you link your park ticket to your mobile app, take a photo of it to save to your phone in case your internet is not working once at or in the parks. They can scan the photo of your park ticket instead of needing to open your mobile app.

Disneyland Resort is a great way to kick off a Southern California vacation – Disney/San Diego/Hollywood – and we can book it all for you! At Paradise Pier there is an Alamo Car Rental office which offers no drop fee to pick up at one location and return to another. So, for example, you could rent a car at Disneyland and drop it in San Diego for your return flight home without any additional drop fees.

If you are looking for a laid back, more spontaneous Disney vacation experience, where you will often see the characters roaming around and interacting with Guests, then Disneyland is for you! Contact me to help you book and plan your Disneyland Resort vacation!!

The Disney Dream – Very Merrytime Cruise

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

The Disney Dream was the very first cruise ship I sailed on in 2012 and then again in 2014. I wasn’t a Travel Agent in 2012 yet and still learning my way as a Travel Agent in 2014 so I haven’t written a blog about my experience on the Disney Dream…

The Disney Dream’s first voyage was in January 2011 and it was last refurbished October 2015. As the first of the larger Disney cruise ships to set sail, the Disney Dream is still just as magical as her sister ship, the Disney Fantasy.

So, here you go! I actually sailed on the Disney Dream early November 2018, this was a regular Disney cruise experience, and then again early December 2018 which was a Very Merrytime cruise experience.
The Very Merrytime sailings offer many fun holiday activities in addition to the normal onboard fun! This was my second Very Merrytime Disney Cruise experience, my first was on the Disney Magic out of the port of Miami. This time we sailed out of Port Canaveral for both November and December. On a Very Merrytime cruise, you experience the magic of the holidays before even boarding the ship!

And remember to download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app before you sail away! The Navigator app will help you locate experiences while onboard, check out dining menus and the drink of the day and stay in touch with your fellow cruisers via the messaging feature.

The holidays seem to make anything more magical, even a Disney Cruise! The ship was all decked out for the holidays and there was a tree lighting ceremony, a gingerbread house as well as gingerbread house making classes, even Castaway Cay was decorated for the holidays, and Santa and Mrs. Claus sailed with us too! And, as a special touch, many of the characters were also dressed in their holiday themed costumes.

Once onboard I always head straight to Cabanas for lunch and I get a big plate full of fresh peel ‘n’ eat shrimp and then dessert – what can I say, it’s vacation!

Around 1:30 pm my stateroom is ready, and I head there to unpack and then go explore the ship – catching up with crew members that I have come to know from my previous sailings on the Disney Dream and meeting new crew members too. This is time for you and your family to also start enjoying the pools and water slide onboard and check out the kids clubs and other activity areas. And if you would like to make any changes to your dining rotation you can do this now as well.

After the safety drill (which is required attendance for all cruisers), we head to the upper decks for the Sail-Away Party. Our favorite location to view from is the deck just above the pool area/stage on the port side of the ship.

Once we set sail the shops open and I can check out the Disney Cruise Line souvenirs – I like to get a new Tervis cup with each cruise. And then it’s time to get ready for the evening activities – Broadway-like musical productions, dinner and other fun activities for adults and children. And there is even a move theater onboard – movies are free to watch and they always show the most recent Disney movie – while the movie is included with your cruise, popcorn, snacks and beverages for your movie are available for a fee.

My husband was cruising with me and we always choose a Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah or Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah. We enjoy going out on our verandah to “feel” the ocean and we always choose the Starboard side because we love seeing Castaway Cay as we enter the port!

Disney Cruise Line has thought of everything to ensure first-rate comfort and convenience during your cruise. We have never felt cramped or crowded in our stateroom when cruising with Disney. The Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah design features include:
      A sitting area with a couch, TV and desk
      A heavy privacy curtain to separate the sitting and sleeping areas
      A “split bath” (in most) that includes a bathroom with a vanity, sink, shower and tub and a half bathroom with a
      vanity, sink and toilet
      A leather-upholstered ottoman with hollow inside storage
      Cabinets with storage space in the living area
     And my favorite feature – Elevated wooden bed frames for under-bed storage of suitcases and other large items
For the kids (or kids at heart), a mural of Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Wendy and her brothers soaring through a starry sky reveals itself when the upper-berth bed is pulled down!

And don’t forget about the fun and amazing towel art that the talented crew leave in your stateroom – you can also sometimes find towel art around the pool area too!

The itinerary for both November and December were 2 ports of call – Nassau and Castaway Cay – with the December itinerary offering an additional day at sea as well.

My preference for Nassau is to stay onboard and enjoy the ship – movies, pools, water slides, games, dining, entertainment and all the soft serve ice cream you want – IT’S ALL INCLUDED!

Every Disney cruise that departs from Port Canaveral or Miami stops at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, consistently rated by Disney Guests as their favorite port of call – and MY favorite port of call when cruising with Disney!! And, as I mentioned previously, the island was decked for the holidays with a large Christmas tree greeting you on arrival.

Castaway Cay is reserved exclusively for Disney cruisers and the ship will dock right at the island to allow you to come and go as you please while enjoying experiences such as snorkeling, boating, swimming and sunbathing and bicycles can also be rented if you want to explore the island’s nature trails. While all areas of the island can be reached by walking, an island tram offers four stops to help you easily get where you want to go.

Your “Key to the World” card will work for all purchases on Castaway Cay except at the local post office where you can send mail to your loved ones back home with a Bahamian postage stamp; the post card postage rate is approximately $0.70 USD each. Dining on the island is also included as part of your cruise package with covered outdoor restaurants serving burgers, BBQ chicken and ribs. Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase and, if you are traveling without children, Disney offers “adult only” areas at Castaway Cay – Serenity Bay is a secluded beach exclusively for adults (where you just might encounter Captain Jack Sparrow strolling the beach!) and families can have fun together at the Castaway Family Beach. Cabanas are also offered for rent in both beach areas but it’s best to reserve in advance during your online check-in as they are very popular and sell out quickly!

I am a runner and since I have started cruising with Disney Cruise Line they have offered a 5K on Castaway Cay – IT’S INCLUDED. It’s very informal and you can run or walk. You also receive a race bib and medal at the finish line. If you want to participate in the 5K on Castaway Cay, you can register at Guest Services when you board your cruise and your registration ticket will be added to your onboard activities. Your “Key to the World” and photo ID are required the day of your event to participate. The 3.1-mile out-and-back event is free and family friendly – open to walkers and runners ages 10 and older. The race takes place first thing in the morning on the island, typically with a meeting time onboard of 8 am, and the runners are the first group to disembark the ship. The vibe of the event is casual, a fun experience worth the early wake-up!

Cruising with Disney is a very casual experience – I wear comfortable dresses and flip flops while my husband wears shorts and polos – even to dinner. The only exceptions are if you reserve adult only dining experiences at Palo or Remy which both have dress codes. And, unlimited room service is also included!!

I enjoy the rotational dining exclusive to Disney Cruise Line, experiencing a different restaurant and menu with the same servers each evening – my favorite is Animator’s Palate on all 4 Disney ships.

It’s fun to get to know your servers and I requested the same service team for my December cruise that I had for my November cruise and, even though it was a month later and they had served many Guests since me, they remembered everything about my likes and dislikes! Amazing service is just one of the things that keeps me coming back to Disney for my vacations – land or sea!

In addition to Castaway Cay and exceptional dining experiences, Disney Cruise Line offers many entertainment options including Broadway-like musical productions, viewings of recently released Disney movies, character meet & greets that you often cannot find at the parks, deck parties, dance clubs, karaoke, trivia and so much more – be sure to say hi to Tony from Spain when you cruise on the Disney Dream!

Some experiences are included, and some are offered for a fee. There is definitely enough to keep everyone – adults and children – busy on a Disney Cruise if you aren’t the lounging at the pool or beach type. And Disney is the only cruise line allowed to display fireworks at sea!

There are also “adult only” experiences and areas on the ships, including spa services and mixology classes, so if you are traveling without children, which we normally do, you will be able to find adult spaces.

And be sure to purchase your photo package in advance for the best price – you can then just pick up your photo prints or digital images from Shutters on your final morning.

There is so much more I could share about cruising with Disney but then this would be a very long blog… If you are thinking about a Disney Cruise Line vacation, reach out to me and I will help you make the most of your magical experience!

International Travel – What You Need to Know Before You Go

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

If you are thinking about an International destination for your next vacation, it is your responsibility to obtain all necessary documents for entry and exit required by law or regulations of the countries you are traveling from and to. All carriers reserve the right to refuse service to any guest who does not have the necessary documents with valid expiration dates.

*Click images to link to more information.

Know Before You Go

A passport is your key to international travel. Due to a surge in passport applications, you should apply several months in advance, especially if you need visas for your foreign destinations. Travelers should make sure their passport is valid at least six months after returning home and has two or more blank pages, or some countries may not let you enter.
Note that passports for children under 16 are valid five years and adult passports 10 years, so check expiration dates carefully. It is recommended that all cruise ship passengers have their passport with them in case of emergency, even if not required.

Below are links to more information online that you will find helpful with your International travel planning:

Travelers Checklist

How to Apply for a Passport

How Long Does it Take?

Get a Passport in a Hurry

Check Application Status

Sign Up for STEP
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service that allows U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad to receive the latest security updates from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Getting Emergency Help During Travel
If you are overseas and in need of emergency assistance contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.