We’re less than a week away from Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend, and I am so excited I could nearly burst. I haven’t been on property for a race weekend since the 2019 Marathon, so in the words of Lizzo, it’s about damn time!
If you’re headed to Orlando next week, there is one notable change to procedures. Due to demand issues (as in limited quantities of items getting wiped out quickly by resellers) and crowd management, Disney has opted to go with a virtual queue for merchandise shopping on day 1 of the expo (Thursday, November 3). There will be no standby line available.
This has not been a particularly popular decision, but I’m not going to debate the pros and cons and fairness of it all, just the facts.
Virtual Queue Details
The RunDisney Blog has a detailed post on the new process, but I’ll summarize:
1. You must have a smart phone with location services enabled, and the My Disney Experience app installed.
2. Virtual queue will open at 7:30 a.m., with first groups being allowed to begin shopping at 10:00 a.m.
3. You must be within 45 miles of Wide World of Sports to enter the virtual queue.
4. You will receive a push notification on your phone when your group is called, and then you will have one hour to make your way to the merchandise building at Wide World of Sports.
For Club runDisney members, you will not need to utilize the virtual queue. Platinum members can enter at 8:30 a.m. and Gold members can enter at 9:00 a.m.
So, what can I buy anyway?
If this is anything like past expos, there will be tons of runDisney merch available… everything from car magnets to shot glasses and keychains. The wild card is always the event-specific merch. Just in the nick of time, Disney has revealed a first look.
I probably have enough t- shirts and jackets to last me a while, but I will be all over that pin set for sure!
What about you? Got your eye on anything? Leave a comment and let me know.
So I have to admit I’m maybe a little too excited about spending a guilt-free (post-half-marathon) evening eating my way around the World Showcase. The Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend is of course meant to be the culmination of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, and the after party is a “private” party for Half-Marathon runners and their guests to enjoy the Festival foods with access to some of the big attractions and short wait times.
I was lucky enough to be at the Food and Wine Festival back on opening day in July and got to try a few things. It was a quick hit –we were park-hopping and had a special meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table planned for later in the day. We didn’t want to fill up too much do spoil our appetites for later.
I was also not thinking clearly, because I didn’t take any pictures of the Festival foods we tried. So I’ll have to share pics I found on the Disney website. I am guessing they’ll forgive me since I am basically providing them free advertising here.
If you’ve not experienced a Disney food festival before, they are wonderful ways to sample all kinds of new flavors with low commitment. Everything is small bites, though I’m sure you already know, nothing is cheap, just small.
When my daughter and I go to the food festivals we follow a couple of rules:
Everything is shared. No exceptions (except alcohol)
Nothing is off limits, for this one day
Stop when you’re full, not after…
Therefore, study the menu hard ahead of time
We only hit a couple of booths – France and Japan. My daughter is obsessed with escargot (weird for a teenager, I know) but that was first on the list.
Off to France we went. We ordered:
Beignet aux Trois Fromages (warm donut with 3 cheeses)
Brioche aux Escargots (escargot, brioche, creamy garlic & parsley sauce)
La Passion Martini Slush (vodka, Grey Goose Le Citron, cranberry and passion fruit juices)
To be super clear, this was for me, not the teenager. But rest assured it was YUM.
The verdict: Both the beignet and the escargots dishes were tasty, but we regretted ordering 2 items that were so bread-heavy. They were too similar to work together (maybe they should have taken that into consideration while planning the menu). The amount of escargot on the brioche was a little disappointing, but it was delicious and nonetheless satisfying.
Next on our super-fast spin around the lagoon was a stop in Japan for some octopus, maybe because my teenager is not quite normal. To be honest I like octopus, too, although knowing how intelligent they are I feel a little guilty when they are on my dinner plate. We ordered:
Takoyaki (Octopus, green onion, and cabbage bites) (with some other Japanese stuff)
The verdict: Skip this one. We needed a microscope to find the octopus in all that breading. As I already mentioned, we were breaded-out at this point. The cabbage was pretty yummy though.
By now we were thirsty and we backtracked into Morocco. We found a non-alcoholic special iced tea that I can’t seem to find on the Festival menu. My recollection was good flavor, but way too sweet, so keep that in mind.
That’s what I know about first-hand. Let’s look at what I am dreaming about for the Wine and Dine after-party:
Australia: Sweet & Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp (shrimp, pineapple, pepper, onion, and snap pea)
Disenfranchised (Simmering Sips, near Port of Entry): Guava Mousse on a Sugar Cookie (coconut-lime whipped cream)
Canada: Canadian Cheddar and Bacon Soup (self-explanatory)
Mexico: Taco al Pastor (pork belly, corn tortilla, chipotle black beans, pinapple, pickled onions, chives)
Also Disenfranchised (The Noodle Exchange, near Disney Traders): Chinese Char Siu Pork Udon (mushrooms, bok choy, pickled egg)
AndAlso Without Passport (The Swanky Saucy Swine, near Disney Traders): Grilled Pork Shoulder Lettuce Wrap (charred corn salsa, pickled red onion, cilantro-lime crema)
Which brings me to the final item of discussion: poutine. It’s a fan favorite. It’s also sometimes a delicate subject for me. My running partner (who will be with me on Wine and Dine Weekend) originates from Québec: birthplace and home of poutine. He’s a purist, and not at all interested in alternate, haute-cuisine takes on the north-of-the-border hangover staple. The Refreshment Port (near Canada, eh) is offering two types of poutine: traditional, and braised beef.
If you’re new to poutine, as I was not long ago, let me give a very brief primer.
It is both disgusting and delicious at the same time. It is generally used for medicinal purposes anywhere people speak French and endure winter 8.75 metric months of the year.
To me, the braised beef option, with a garlic and herb cheese sauce, sounds delightful. Upon initial consultation with my Québecois expert, he is… not impressed. I think this will likely be “settled” at the after party. But, to be completely honest, if I try everything on my wish list, there will be no room left for traditional poutine. I might just forfeit now, to make everyone’s life easy and enjoy the evening.
Either way it’s one night in food and rollercoaster heaven. The next morning I hop on a plane for reality. We’ll see who wins the poutine wars. With no official judging criteria, perhaps I stand a chance. What’s your stance on poutine? Will you be trying the plain of fancy version? Drop a note in the comments!