Wine Country Trattoria – WOC Dining – January 28, 2017

It’s been almost 10 months since this meal, and I’m finally attempting to write this report. I’ve been dreading it, trying to put it off for as long as possible. I hate negative reports, but I really don’t know if there are any positives from this meal…

We did the World of Colour Dining Package at Wine Country Trattoria back in 2015 on our first trip to Disneyland and it was great, so we were looking forward to getting back to try it again.

We checked in, and were led upstairs to an almost empty second floor. Apparently this is where all of the WOC dining package people were sitting (in 2015 we were in the regular restaurant).

We had the dining package menu placed in front of us:

First up was our drink orders. While we were downstairs waiting for our table, I was looking through the drink menu and saw that they had Fairytale Cuvee – the champagne that is included with an Escape Wedding Package through Disney Fairy Tale Weddings. We had already been discussing that as an option for our wedding (we had only been engaged for a few weeks at this point), so I decided I wanted to order a glass to try it. The waiter looked so confused, and told me he had to go ask for permission to serve me a glass of it (what? He had just told us we could order anything from the bar downstairs…) Eventually he came back with my tiny little $17 DOLLAR GLASS OF CHAMPAGNE! Ouch, I probably wouldn’t have ordered it if I had known it would be that expensive (can you tell I rarely drink at restaurants?)

Luke kept it a little easier for our waiter, and just ordered a beer of some kind (according to our receipt, it’s an  ‘Anaheim Hefewzn’ – whatever that means.). He described it as not bad, but not memorable.

Next up were our Appetizers – we could choose between soup or salad.

I went for the soup, which was a Minestrone that day. It was ok, nothing special. I’ve had better at Olive Garden. It was also a pretty small serving.

Luke went for the Starter Salad – arugula, fennel, red onion, spiced walnuts and goat cheese with a fig-balsamic dressing (the only thing I’d eat from that salad are the walnuts, and I’m not supposed to eat nuts due to my Crohn’s). This salad was similar to the one Luke had back in 2015, but it wasn’t as good as he remembered.

Then came the entrees. On our trip in 2015, I had ordered the steak option and sent it back twice to be cooked as I had ordered it (if I ask for well done, I don’t want it bleeding out on my plate). Once I finally did get it cooked as ordered, it was delicious.

I decided to go for the steak option again this time, and ordered the Ribeye Steak – served with creamy garlic stacked potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and honey. I mentioned that I don’t like brussel sprouts, and the waiter let me know I could swap out for broccoli no problem.

The steak was fairly dry (I know, I ordered it well done – but a properly cooked well-done steak should not be dry!). There also wasn’t much flavour on it – shouldn’t they be putting at least salt and pepper or something on it while they cook? The broccoli was cold (but cooked), and the potatoes were just ok. They reminded me a bit of the scalloped potatoes I had at Olivia’s Cafe at Old Key West a few weeks earlier, but the Olivia’s ones were a million times better!

Luke ordered the Herb-Roasted Chicken Breast – served with broccolini, caramelized onions, red peppers and fettucine pasta with an alfredo sauce.

The pasta was good, but the chicken was much better back in 2015. Luke says it seems like everything was pre-prepared, and pretty dry by the time it made it’s way to us – as if it had been sitting under a heat lamp for awhile.

Also included in this dining package is a tray of desserts – Trattoria Tiramisu, European Macaroons, Caramel Chocolate Panna Cotta and Lemon Cream Puffs.

I’m not a fan of cream puffs (or lemon flavour), so Luke ate his and mine was left. I also don’t get the current obsession with macarons (or European macaroons as the menu called them…) – I ate one of these, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy them (I did buy a few from a cart in Downtown Disney a few days prior, and I regretted it  – I just don’t love them!). Luke told me his list of best to worst form this dessert plate would be the macaron-cream puff-tiramisu-panna cotta. In comparison, my list would be panna cotta-macaron-tiramisu-cream puff.

Overall, the desserts were fine – but the rest of the meal had been so disappointing up to that point that we were just over it.

This meal cost $46 each, and we saved $13.80 with my annual pass. Our total bill was $111.20 – way too expensive for such a disappointing meal.

The Wedding Party – Luke’s Side

Jill Antle – Best Woman

I met Jill on May 6,1984. The day she was born. She had a smushed nose.  She’s been my sister ever since. She’s bossy. I don’t remember specifically asking her to be best man. In all likelihood she muscled her way into it because that’s how Jill is. But she’s also the life of the party, extremely loyal, caring, considerate, uncomfortable with being praised like this so I’ll deviate and say she’s had my back my entire life and couldn’t be prouder to have her on my team.

When she’s not being a Best Gal, Jill can be found chilling with her tinysweetheart watching NFL action (Go Steelers!), kickin’ it on the 1s & 2s as DJ Wing Wednesdays, cooking, book clubbing, and living her best life.

 

Lisa Glover – Groomswoman

The unstoppable force that is Luke and Lisa was forged in the fires of conflict from mid-to-late-2000s MTV reality shows, specifically ones focused on identical twins who were into girls and dudes. Their shared passion for potatoes – even baking cakes with perogy-shaped cookies on them, karaoke and Metric shows is unrivaled. Whether it’s yelling “sports” at Oiler/Eskimo games, or saying “Woooooooooo!!!” at concerts, this cat-loving duo has been an immense force of awesomeness going back to ’05. This has nothing to with anything hut The Gaslight Anthem is a great band. Luke recently  the attendant in Lisa’s wedding to Handsome Trevor West and the reviews were overwhelmingly positive somehow. In all seriousness though – Lisa saved my life and I couldn’t be happier that she’s going to be at my side as I marry Fallon.  Lisa is one of my all-time favourite people, a pickleball champion, and I’m proud to have her in our party.

 

Devin Patterson – Groomsman

2005 was a very good year. That’s when i had the fortune of meeting Devin Patterson. I was new to Edmonton from then Regina. We worked at the station together and lived blocks apart. What started as Onowayan hospitality over Ugandan magic Pepsi cocktails had led to a lifelong friendship. I know I can always count on Devin if I need help. He’s as honest, hard-working, genuine and kind a person as you’ll ever meet. Fun fact: one night in summer ’06 Devin was at a wedding near my Whyte Ave apartment. He called me to come meet up. I arrive at the venue and Devin’s all the way up a tree. I call him on my cell and he says “When Chuck Norris jumps into water, he doesn’t get wet… the water gets Chuck Norris’d” then jumps down almost onto my car. It’s like midnight and we head back to my place. Devin decides he’s not ready to crash so we head out to Hudsons. Devin gives the doorman $20 and we walk right in. While inside we meet some mutual friends and he starts hitting it off with this Matthew Good fan named Larissa. A few of us head back to my place, snack on Premium Plus crackers and peanut butter, then head out onto the roof to mess with tipsy passers-by. All in all a good night. In 2010 – I was a groomsman in Devin and Larissa’s wedding. I’m so happy the tables have turned and they both get to be here for me.

 

Isabella Nicole Perez Antle – Flower Girl

Look at my niece! Isn’t she cute? Just wait till she’s a flower girl. Oh man. So much damned cute!!!

Budget Friendly Disney Eats!

Look, we know Disney is expensive. Just because we’ve made all those dining reservations does not mean you need to join us for them – but you’re still going to want to eat haha. We decided to put together a list of some great options we’ve tried (or trust the opinions of people who have tried) that might be little easier on the wallet…

Magic Kingdom

  • This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Peco’s Bills! It’s possibly my favourite quick service restaurant at Disney (that fixin’s bar doesn’t hurt my opinion of that). It’s a Tex-Mex style menu, and you can easily get an entree and a soft drink for under $20 (we recommend the fajita platter at $14.99 or the beef nachos, $12.49), and then you load it up with all the shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole and sour cream your heart desires – you end up with a large portion!  
  • Columbia Harbour House – we have never ate here, but it always has great reviews. The most expensive entree on the menu is $15, and you can actually get healthier options (like grilled salmon, salad, etc)
  • Another place we’ve never ate at, but is talked about a lot in the Disney forums is Casey’s Corner, located on the corner of Main Street. This place is all about the foot long hot dogs – topped with chili&cheese or mac&cheese – each $10.99 (includes fries) – or . I’ve also heard a lot of great things about the corn dog nuggets ($8.49 with fries).
  • I’m giving an honourable mention to Be Our Guest (lunch only). This is one of the only quick serve locations on property to accept advance dining reservations, as it is one of the most in-demand places to eat. We actually do have a reservation made for 20 people on January 9th for lunch, and you’ll be pleased to know the most expensive entree is $17 (the braised pork – which I highly recommend!). Soft drinks are self-serve, so you can get free refills throughout your meal as well.

Epcot

  • Sunshine Seasons is the top of my list for this park based on the size of the menu. There are options for everyone – soup, salad, sandwiches, chinese food, vegan – and everything is under $15!
  • We’ve never ate there, but Tangierine Cafe in the Morocco Pavilion is always raved about. The servings are generous, and cost is under $20.
  • If you’re feeling like fish and chips ($10.99), head to Yorkshire County Fish Shop in the UK Pavilion.
  • It’s very easy to make a meal out of snacking around Epcot. Boulangerie Patisserie les Halles has very cheap French pastries, if you like coconut you’ll love the School Bread ($3.49) from Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in the Norway Pavilion, the curry chicken pocket ($4.50) from Joy of Tea in the China Pavilion seems to be well reviewed as well. Turkey legs (~$10) are found in the American Adventure Pavilion, as well as funnel cakes ($7.99).

Hollywood Studios

  • This is the park most lacking in food options, but you can still find things to fill your belly 🙂 The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge has a small menu that is surprisingly affordable. The actual restaurant is pricer, but you can get a smaller version of their famous Cobb salad in the lounge for $10, or wagyu-beef sliders for $17.
  • Backlot Express is considered the best quick service location at the Studios. The menu is fairly straight forward, with a few items having a Star Wars theme (like the Dark Side chicken and waffles, $10.99)

Animal Kingdom

  • Satu’li Canteen is a brand new restaurant that opened with Avatar Land in May of 2017. They offer a healthy “bowl” served with your choice of beef or fish for $12.99, or chicken or tofu for $11.49.
  • If you’re looking for a giant plate of fries, head to Flame Tree BBQ. We shared an order of their pulled pork and cheese fries ($6.49) on our last trip, and it was more than enough for us as a mid-afternoon snack.  
  • There is a Rainforest Cafe located near the entrance to the park. The appetizer menu is shareable and affordable – we shared a $20 appy platter on our last trip to California at the Rainforest Cafe located there and it was a generous portion of food.

Disney Springs

  • Our #1 recommendation here will always be Earl of Sandwich. Luke loves it – I’m not even much of a sandwich person and I’ve always enjoyed my meals here as well. They are very simple pressed sandwiches with straight forward ingredients, and cost under $7.50 each. Even if you make your meal a combo (add a drink and small bag of chips), your total will be only be a little over $10. You can’t eat on Disney property much cheaper than that! 
  • We haven’t tried it, but Blaze Pizza always seems to be loved! Who can complain about $10 pizzas?
  • D-Luxe Burger is also highly reviewed, burgers are $10-$13 with a side of fries costing about $5.
  • Morimoto Street Food is a grab and go location serving Asian-inspired snacks (Bao buns are $8-10 for 2, sushi rolls $8, etc)
  • If you’re craving something sweeter, Ghiradelli serves great ice cream sundaes, although they are a little pricy ($10 and up).

Disney Resorts

  • A lot of people seem to forget about all the options available at the hotels. A personal favourite is Saana at Animal Kingdom Lodge. This can an expensive option depending on what you order, but I highly recommend the bread service ($15). It is more than enough food for one person to make a meal out of!
  • The food options at the All Star Resorts are plentiful and affordable. I had a turkey dinner at All Star Music back in 2016 for under $11 – and it was actually really tasty! [IMG]
  • Beaches and Cream at Beach Club Resort is technically a table service restaurant and you will need an advance reservation, but the prices are very affordable! We have actually made reservations for the group on Friday, January 12th 🙂 It is an old, 50’s diner feeling, and serves up very basic fare – patty melts, burgers, sandwiches, etc. My personal favourite was the grilled cheese and tomato soup ($12.99) – honestly one of the best I’ve ever had. Also save room for dessert – giant ice cream sundaes large enough to share between 2-3 people ($7.99 for No Way Jose, the one we shared)

Honourable Mentions

  • I need to give a shout-out to Disney chicken nuggets. These can be found at select quick service locations in every park, as well as a few resort food courts. They are not your standard McDonald’s style nuggets, they are real chunks of chicken and are quite tasty! ($9.49)

January 8th, 2017 – Part One

When we woke up, the first thing we noticed was how cool it was. The temperature had dropped overnight, and we woke up to it being only +2 degrees Celsius. We weren’t going to let that stop us though, it just meant we needed to bring our jackets with us for the day.

We were up fairly early this morning, since we had asked bell services to stop by our room around 8am. We were saying goodbye to Old Key West, and would be checking in to Saratoga Springs for the remainder of the trip. Bell services was on time, and we handed over all of our luggage, just taking our park bag with us. We headed out to the bus stop, and the internal shuttle pulled up almost immediately so we jumped on that and rode it to Hospitality House. We checked out, then went to sit and wait for the bus to Epcot…and we sat and waited, and then waited some more. The estimated arrival time on the screen kept changing, and after about a 40 minute wait it finally showed up. That’s the longest we’ve ever waited for a bus, but we knew it was due to all the road closures on property to accommodate the full marathon happening that morning.

Luke’s only request for scheduling our park days was that we go to Epcot on the morning of the full marathon. His plan was to sign up for his first ever full in 2018, and he had found watching some of the race in 2016 very inspiring.

We arrived at Epcot, and it was fairly busy despite the cold temperature. Eventually, we were through the security line and entering the park. We stopped to cheer on some of the marathon runners while checking current wait times in the park. We noticed a low wait time for Soarin’, so we decided to go for a trip around the world 🙂

It was great as always 🙂 Once we exited, we realized we were kind of hungry, so we grabbed a table by Sunshine Seasons and split the Mickey Mousse we had purchased the day before from Amorette’s Patisserie.  

Once we finished our treat (who doesn’t love cake for breakfast?!), we were well within our window for our first Fastpass. You definitely do not need a FP for the Seas with Nemo and Friends, but I think it’s a cute ride and worth going on at least once each trip (and this was our second day at Epcot, plus you need to choose something from tier 2).

We then went and watched/cheered on some of the marathoners! I think this is such an awesome thing, it’s really quite amazing to see all the training and hard work these people have put in, and to see them so close to the end of their run. Seriously, if you are ever around Epcot on a marathon day, make sure you take some time to watch the race and clap for the accomplishment these people are about to achieve.

From there, we made our way over to Test Track for our next Fastpass!

We scanned our Magicbands and entered the Fastpass line, and 12 minutes later (according to the time stamps on my phone), we were designing this beauty…

I named her Alberta, after the province we live in – where people seem to love their jacked-up trucks hahahaha.

The ride was great as always (but not as great as Radiator Springs at Disneyland…)

We decided to start walking towards World Showcase, and entered on the Mexico Pavilion side. Since we had never done it before, we went inside the pyramid and saw there was no line up for the Grand Fiesta Tour! Off we went on a journey through Mexico with Donald Duck 🙂

We did not go any farther into World Showcase at this point, and instead starting making our way over to Canada for our lunch ADR. Of course, we had to stop to watch more marathoners! And I had to take a picture of the wonderful signs these ladies had made haha!

After seeing some people run by with absolutely fantastic costumes, we finally entered the Canada Pavilion – gosh it’s pretty!

We checked in, and had lunch at Le Cellier (review here).

Since we were already in the Canada Pavilion, we had to stop and ask for some of the Canada 150 Buttons they had created in celebration of Canada’s 150th Birthday this year. The cast member (who was from Regina, Saskatchewan according to her nametag) even wrote our hometowns on our pins for us (and dotted all the i’s with Mickey Heads!), and then covered the writing with a piece of tape to protect it.

While we were eating, we had decided to drop our Figment Fastpass, and were able to pick one up for Soarin’.

Soarin’ is such a great ride! I can’t believe we had never been on it prior to this trip (although it was closed for refurbishment on our only WDW trip before this one, and it was closed on 1 of our Disneyland trips as well).

 

Fastpass+ at WDW

First of all, what is Fastpass+ (FP+)? It is a service offered by Disney complimentary with your park tickets which allows you to select up to 3 attractions per day to experience with a shorter line. At all of the applicable rides, you will see the regular, or “standby” line as well as a Fastpass line. The standby line might be a wait of over 2 hours, but with a FP+ you should be on the ride within 10-20 minutes (usually faster, sometimes it might take a little longer).

At the 60 day window before your trip, you can select up to 3 Fastpasses in advance. Your 3 choices must all be at the same theme park, but once you have used those up on the day of, you can search for any available FP+ that may be remaining for any park (to be used that day). I believe our max was 6 or 7 Fastpasses in one day… so it can be done!

If you are staying off site, your window to book these does not open until the 30 day window. By this point, some of the most popular rides will already have zero availability for FP+ – this is just one of the many perks of staying on site at WDW.

You will be given an hour long window to use your FP+ – there is a very small time frame of wiggle room on each side of this hour (from everything I’ve head or read, it’s about 5 minutes early or 15 minutes late – which essentially gives you an hour and 20 minutes).

When you go to use your FP+ for a ride, you must scan your Magicband (see, these things are important!).  The light will turn green, and a cast member will wave you through to the Fastpass line. Typically there will be a second scan point as well, to deter any line jumpers, so keep your Magicband out and ready!

Not every ride or show offers FP+ selection. Also, not every ride/show that offers it actually requires it. Each park is different as well, as you will see below. If you click on the name of the park, it will take you to my blog post describing a little more detail about each ride.

Magic Kingdom (choose any 3):

  • it’s a small world – Fastpass is not really required, line is typically not too long to wait in.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Dumbo – Fastpass not required, just go a little later in the day
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Mad Tea Party – Fastpass not required, line is never too long
  • Meet Ariel at her Grotto – character meet
  • Meet Cinderella and a Visiting Princess – Princess Fairytale Hall
  • Meet Mickey Mouse – Town Square Theater – talking Mickey!
  • Meet Rapunzel and a Visiting Princess – Princess Fairytale Hall
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic – Fastpass not required, you can almost always get in to the next show (so you might wait 10 min)
  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor – Fastpass not required, the theater is large and you’ll just have to wait for the next show
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – highly recommend getting a Fastpass for this one. It’s one of the newest rides in this park (about 4-5 years old now, but lines are always over an hour)
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • The Barnstormer – Fastpass not required
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – Fastpass not required
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – Fastpass not required
  • Tomorrowland Speedway – Ugh, no. Don’t waste a fastpass on this. Don’t even waste the time spent in line for this.
  • Under the Sea: Journey of The Little Mermaid – Fastpass not required

The three fastpasses you choose for Magic Kingdom will depend on the people in your group.

Epcot

Epcot Group A (choose 1):

  • Frozen Ever After 
  • IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth 
  • Soarin’ 
  • Test Track 

This is a tough call. The easiest one to eliminate as your choice is Illumintions, as the show can be viewed from anywhere around the World Showcase. Are you traveling with younger girls who love Anna and Elsa? Then you might want to pick Frozen as the lines are always long. Soarin’ is one of my favourite rides, but the line does tend to be shorter than Test Track (which is also an excellent ride) – neither one of those are bad choices to be honest.

Epcot Group B (choose 2):

  • Character Spot
  • Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
  • Journey Into Imagination
  • Living with the Land
  • Mission: SPACE
  • Spaceship Earth
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

Most of these are unnecessary to use a Fastpass on – Turtle Talk, The Seas, Living with the Land, and the Short Film Festival almost always have minimal wait times (if any). I’m a wimp and can only handle the green side of Mission:Space, so the line for that is rarely long (although if you’re a thrill seeker who likes G-Force rides you’ll want to grab a Fastpass and go to the orange side). The character spot can see long lines, since it’s one of the only places to see Classic Mickey and Minnie. Even the Fastpass line for that moves slowly. Journey into Imagination is mainly for kids, so if you are a group of adults it’s not necessary to use a Fastpass on. Spaceship Earth never has a crazy line, but it’s something you HAVE to ride while at Epcot, so we usually grab a FP for it.

Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Group A (choose 1):

  • Toy Story Mania!
  • Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
  • Fantasmic!
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

This group should only have 2 options – Toy Story or Rock ‘n’ Roller. Fantasmic is easy to grab as a 4th Fastpass later in the day, and Beauty and the Beast isn’t difficult to get into since the theater is large. Again, what ages are the people in your group? Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is the only coaster at WDW with an inversion, and it does have a height restriction, whereas Toy Story is for everyone. Both rides tend to have long standby lines most of the day as well.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Group B (choose 2):

  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Disney Junior – Live on Stage!
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
  • Star Tours
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terrror

This one is always easy for us – Star Tours and Tower of Terror. You can almost always walk into the Muppet ride, and the other four options are shows with roomy theaters.

Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Group A (choose 1):

  • AVATAR Flight of Passage
  • Na’vi River Journey

I have not been on either of these, since Avatar land opened after I was last at WDW, but from everything I’ve heard Flight of Passage is one of the best rides Disney Imagineering has ever created, and should be your #1 choice for a Fastpass.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Group B (choose 2):

  • DINOSAUR
  • Expedition Everest
  • Finding Nemo – The Musical
  • Flights of Wonder
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug
  • Kali River Rapids – tends to be closed for refurb in January
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
  • Primeval Whirl
  • Rivers of Light

I always get a Fastpass for Everest – my fav ride in all of WDW! I also usually wait in the standby line multiple times (later at night, it’s almost a walk-on). The Safari is always worth a FP+ as well. Dinosaur is ok. FP+ is not required for Nemo or Flights of Wonder.