8 Must-Try Bites at Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays

There may be no activity I enjoy more than events that allow me to stroll from booth to booth eating way more food than necessary, and Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays is no exception.

While Epcot has always been the park known for it’s annual events and festivals, it wasn’t until recently that food has become a focal point for other festivals other than Epcot’s Food & Wine. But we’re not complaining! After all, it’s the holidays; and food does bring people together.

The Alsache Holiday Kitchen

This was one of the first Holiday Kitchen’s we stopped at, as I had already had my heart set on the Bûche de Noël au Chocolat: Slice of Chocolate Christmas Yule Log. Despite the fact that it felt like we were walking around New York in the middle of December, I decided to pair it with a Spiced Rum Punch Slush. This drink was already a bad decision considering how cold I was, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the flavor either, which essentially tasted like kool-aid topped with cinnamon. The Yule Log however, was out of this world. The cake was perfectly moist, and the filling which tasted like a very rich dark chocolate was sweet and flavorful without being overbearing. If it were possible, I’d have ordered the entire log.

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The American Holiday Table

The American Holiday table offerings provide a lot of nostalgic holiday options. Though considering that I was living off Thanksgiving leftovers for a food portion of the week before our Disney trip, this wasn’t much of a throwback Thursday. While these dishes aren’t anything wildly innovation, it’s the simplicity of these classic dishes that made them so memorable. They turkey and pork were cooked well; and the green bean casserole, complete with fried onions, was delicious. Another benefit of the American Holiday Table is the portion size, which is decently larger than many other small plates you’ll find during both the Festival of the Holidays and Epcot’s Food & Wine. This pavilion definitely gets your more bang for your buck.

8 Must-Try Bites at Epcot's Festival of the Holidays | A Great Big Hunk of World | www.agreatbighunkofworld.com | #agbhow | Disney World

 

The Bavaria Holiday Kitchen

German cuisine has always been one of my favorites; this might be because I’m more than a quarter German, or because Biergarten provides some of the most delicious food on Disney property. Safe to say, there was no way I was passing by the Bavarian Holiday Kitchen empty handed. While the cheese plate was calling my name, and you can rarely go wrong with cheese fondue, I ended up deciding on the Sauerbraten, Red Cabbage and Spätzle option. The vinegar taste was strong with this one, so this dish was easily a clear winner for me; and the Sauerbraten, a.k.a German Pot Roast, was falling apart the way a pot roast should and was saturated with flavor. And of course a hard cider was the perfect drink to wash it all down with.

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The Cookie Nook

It doesn’t get more festive than inhaling a day’s worth of calories in cookies, and it’s pretty hard not to considering how many cookie varieties are offered a the Cookie Nook. My pick was the Sachertorte, a chocolate cake with apricot jam and a dark chocolate glaze, because how does on pass up on a description like that? But the chocolate chunk cookie was tasty, and the snickerdoodles were just as delicious as the one’s you’ll get your hands on at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The Snowflake Sugar Cookie was easily the most surprising though, as it was so much more moist than I anticipated and despite being topped with a thick layer of frosting, still managed to not be too sweet.

8 Must-Try Bites at Epcot's Festival of the Holidays | A Great Big Hunk of World | www.agreatbighunkofworld.com | #agbhow | Disney World

 

Feast of the Three Kings

I was the most excited for Feast of the Three Kings for three reasons: coquito, yuca, and shredded beef. Unfortunately the coquito didn’t live up to expectations whatsoever, but coming from a half Dominican family I have drank my body’s worth in good coquito. Fortunately, Festival of the Three Kings provides food that is just as delicious and mouth-watering as the Islands of the Caribbean pavilion during Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival. Shredded Beef Tamale with Avocado Crema and Cilantro Rice was super filling, though it didn’t stop us from clearing the entire plate. And the Roasted Pork with Smashed Yuca and Pickled Green Bananas was so packed with flavor that we had to stop ourselves from ordering a second.

8 Must-Try Bites at Epcot's Festival of the Holidays | A Great Big Hunk of World | www.agreatbighunkofworld.com | #agbhow | Disney World

 

Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen

I originally stopped as Las Posadas strictly for a Frozen Kahlua Coffee Margarita, but while waiting in line I couldn’t help but stare as fellow customers as they walked away with their picks. So naturally, despite how full I was, I walked away with a coffee margarita and a Tamal de Chilorio, made up of slow-roasted pork shoulder, marinated in Ancho Paste and stuffed in a corn masa. The corn masa was the perfect consistency and the toppings of queso fresco and crema added a lot to the flavors inside. It just goes to show that during the holidays, your stomach is just as big as your eyes.

8 Must-Try Bites at Epcot's Festival of the Holidays | A Great Big Hunk of World | www.agreatbighunkofworld.com | #agbhow | Disney World

 

The Shanghai Holiday Kitchen

The Shanghai Holiday Kitchen left us the most indecisive and so we decided to just go down the menu, which I do not regret one bit, partially because it meant we got an couple extra fortune cookies. The egg rolls were filled with a pork and vegetable combination which will taste very familiar to those who frequent Chinese restaurants, though these were much less greasy than you may experience elsewhere. The Chinese bbq pork was a bit chewy in spots, but the sauce was delectable and was great to mix into the rice. But the clear winner at the Shanghai Holiday Kitchen was the Mongolian Beef Bao Bun. Oddly enough, this was the one we didn’t expect much from but if Disney bottled and sold whatever it is they cook their beef in, I’d buy it by the bottle.

8 Must-Try Bites at Epcot's Festival of the Holidays | A Great Big Hunk of World | www.agreatbighunkofworld.com | #agbhow | Disney World

 

The Tuscany Holiday Kitchen

Though they may make for the most aesthetically pleasing photo, the Crespelle di Mele at the Tuscany Holiday Kitchen are worth tasting. These cinnamon apple fritters are drizzled with powdered sugar, vanilla sauce, and a chocolate caramel sauce; though they’d be fine on their own. They made for a sweet, yet not too sweet dessert, which I love, and the warmth of this snack was great on such a cold day.

8 Must-Try Bites at Epcot's Festival of the Holidays | A Great Big Hunk of World | www.agreatbighunkofworld.com | #agbhow | Disney World

 

What festivals have you been to at Epcot?

What experiences or treats were your favorite?

 

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8 Must-Try Bites at Epcot's Festival of the Holidays | A Great Big Hunk of World | www.agreatbighunkofworld.com | #agbhow | Disney World

 

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6 Reasons to Attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

When it comes to the best place to celebrate the holiday season, I’m a bit bias to New York. But Walt Disney World definitely ranks high on the list. The entirety of Walt Disney World from the parks to the resorts is decked out for the season; but when it comes to the ultimate Disney holiday experience, nothing beats heading into Magic Kingdom after the sun’s already set and Main Street is lit up with Christmas lights from the tree at the entrance all the way down to Cinderella’s Castle.

While tickets can cost a pretty penny, especially for larger families (this year’s MVMCP tickets ranged from $89 – $99), the party is filled with fun and interactive activities that are worth experiencing at least once. The best part? You’re free to rock your favorite Christmas pajamas or ugliest holiday sweater while you take part.

 

Complimentary Cookies & Holiday Drinks

Similar to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP), where guests are given trick-or-treat bags to gather treats as they pass treat-spots, guests at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) can collect various cookie and holiday drink pairings at select outposts. But it gets even better, because you’re free to revisit any outpost as many times as you would like! This year’s pairings included a ginger molasses cookie and eggnog at the Liberty Square Ticket Office, a snickerdoodle and hot chocolate at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café, a Santa Claus cookie and a snow-cone at Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies, dove chocolate and apple cider at The Friar’s Nook, a peppermint chocolate crunch cookie and a Nesquik at Pete’s Silly Sideshow, and a snowman soft pretzel and a snow-cone at Tortuga Tavern. I know, it’s a mouthful…literally. And I’m not ashamed to say that we grabbed a hot chocolate and snickerdoodle combination from Cosmic Ray’s three times in an hour.

 

 

Rare Character Meet & Greets

Holiday parties at Walt Disney World are an excellent time to snag that keepsake photo with less-commonly seen characters such as Jack Skellington, the Seven Dwarves, or my personal favorite Scrooge McDuck and his family. This is also a great opportunity to meet some male leads like Flynn Rider and Prince Charming, since one of the only opportunities currently available to meet some of the princes is the Bon Voyage breakfast at Trattoria al Forno. Wait times can get pretty long, so it’s best to choose one or two must-meet characters, and plan your night with their meet-and-greet schedules in mind.

6 Reasons to Attend Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party | MVMCP | A Great Big Hunk of World | www.agreatbighunkofworld.com

 

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

After the loss of the Main Street Electrical Parade, Magic Kingdom has remained without a nighttime parade for quite some time, but in my opinion Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime parade is even more magical. Visitors are able to enjoy all of the classic characters, like Cinderella, Belle, and the Fab Five, as well as newcomers like Vanellope from Wreck it Ralph; and of course the entire parade ends with Ol’ Saint Nick himself. I recommend grabbing some snacks trying to arrive about 45 minutes prior to the start time. While some nights are less packed than others, there is nothing better than grabbing that curb spot along Main Street. Warning, you’ll be humming “Once upon a Christmastime at Christmas” for about two weeks after leaving.

 

 

Shorter Wait Times for Attractions

For some, the best part of Disney holiday parties are the shortened waits for popular attractions. Once the party starts, only party ticket holders remain in the park; once the party crowd disperses between holiday shows, attractions, snack depots, meet and greets, you’ll find that many wait times are significantly shorter than usual. For those who may not have been able to snag a Jungle Jingle Cruise Fast Pass during the day, or those who just want to ride Big Thunder Mountain three times in a row, this is a major advantage to purchasing party tickets.

6 Reasons to Attend Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party | MVMCP | A Great Big Hunk of World | www.agreatbighunkofworld.com

Holiday Wishes

It wouldn’t be a night at Magic Kingdom without a nighttime fireworks spectacular with Cinderella’s Castle as the backdrop. Personally, I don’t think anything can beat the original Wishes Nighttime Spectacular, though the Happily Ever After Fireworks were very well done. But there is something that warms the heart when you’re standing on Main Street with a hundreds of other families in their Christmas sweaters, drinking hot chocolate, watching the castle light up with some holiday tunes.

 

Snow on Main Street

Except for a few rare occurrences, I think it’s safe to say one doesn’t picture a “white Christmas” when it comes the holiday season in Florida. But at the Magic Kingdom, anything is possible. During our trip this year, it was actually colder in Orlando than it was back home in New York, and we ended up throwing on three or four layers at night. It may not have been what you’d expect during a trip to Florida, but it definitely made the snow feel that much more realistic.

There are a handful of other things that make the Magic Kingdom one of the most magical places to spend the holidays, from the family photo ops in front of the Main Street Christmas tree, to the seasonal lunches of red velvet Mickey waffles and ice cream, to watching your family and friends break out there worst dance moves at Club Tinsel. And remember, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party isn’t only for families of kids, but also families made up of kids-at-heart. After all “adults are only grown up kids anyway.”

6 Reasons to Attend Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party | MVMCP | A Great Big Hunk of World | www.agreatbighunkofworld.com

 

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