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First Look, Guest Review, and Photos! Epcot’s Sparkling IllumiNations Dessert Party

Remember last week when we told you about the brand new “Sparkling” IllumiNations Dessert Party in Epcot? Well, we’ve got pics from the very first event! :-) Many thanks to DFB reader Tricia Noble and her husband, who snapped the photos on Saturday night and wrote up a review!

Tonight my wife and I went to the first night of Epcot’s Illuminations Dessert Party. Being the first night of an event, we expect that things will change and adjust according to the feedback Disney Events receives.

Dessert Party Menu

Dessert Party Menu

The party location was right as you enter the World Showcase, between the two gift shops at the edge of the lagoon. The view for Illuminations from here is fantastic. However, the location is a bit more public than we were expecting for a ticketed “private” party.

Dessert Party View

Dessert Party View

In addition, the slope in the area meant that there were no chairs. The ccktail tables scattered around were not sufficient for the number of attendees, and not usable by young guests and those in scooters or wheelchairs. I expect that to be addressed quickly (more tables were brought out just before the fireworks started.)

Dessert Party table

Dessert Party table

Eats

Now for the desserts. The party was billed as tastes from around the World Showcase, but unless I miss my mark, the countries represented merely inspired, rather than provided, the offerings.

I would have liked to either see more variety or better pairings between the wines and the desserts. The fresh fruit was nice and flavorful, and a good palette cleanser between the other confections.

Dessert Party Eats

Dessert Party Eats

Offerings included Cronuts (called Cronis here, apparently), strawberry sauce, Tiramisu, Pot de Creme, Baklava, fresh fruit, shortbread, and ice cream goodies like Mickey bars, Mickey ice cream sandwiches, orange creme pops, and other ice cream novelties.

France Pot de Creme

France Pot de Creme

Italy Tiramisu

Italy Tiramisu

The English shortbread cookies were quite good, and even more tasty when covered in the aforementioned strawberry sauce.

UK shortbread

UK shortbread

Morocco Baklava

Morocco Baklava

The American cinnamon-sugar mini cronuts were pretty good, especially with the included strawberry sauce, but would have been much better had they been served warm.

Sample of Dessert Party Eats

Sample of Dessert Party Eats

The Moroccan baklava was very good. Not overly sweet, but still very flavorful. This was probably my favorite offering.

Morocco Baklava

Morocco Baklava

The French vanilla creme seemed more like a pudding, and lacked either enough vanilla or some counterpoint to make it truly interesting.

Pot de Creme

Pot de Creme

The Italian tiramisu was distinctly lacking in coffee flavor. It’s as if the ladyfinger bits were lightly drizzled with espresso instead of soaked. As a big fan of good tiramisu, I was rather disappointed in this.

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

Notice what was missing from this list? Yep. There was no chocolate dessert until you got to the ice cream. The ice cream included a couple of regularly-available-in-stores fruit bars, a Mickey bar, and a Mickey ice cream sandwich. Disney really missed the boat here by not having some French ice cream or Italian gelato at the event.

Drinks were unlimited, and included a brut champaigne and a Prosecco, which was sweet but not overly so — at least until we started eating the desserts.

Non-alcoholic drinks included coffee, tea (both hot and iced), lemonade, and water. (Hint: mix the lemonade and Prosecco together.)

Dessert Party Drinks

Dessert Party Drinks

Prosecco

Prosecco

Wine

Wine

Was the event worth the $49 price of admission? As of tonight, I’d say no. I have done the Magic Kingdom fireworks dessert event in the past and that’s what I went in expecting. This event was no where near up to that level.

I suspect that the events staff will be doing some retooling based on the feedback they received tonight (and not just from us). It will be interesting to see if the event changes or improves. For now, I’d say give it some time to “earn its ears.”

The details: this event will take place on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 7:45-9:20 pm. The cost is $49 per adult, $29 for children. Booking is now available, and parties started March 15th. Interested in more information or reserving your spot? Dial 407-WDW-PLAY. No word yet on discounts or how long the event will be running.

Is this an event you’d like to try? Let us know in the comments below!

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56 Comments

  1. lulu says:

    When will the 2014 Snack Attack dates be announced!
    Please and thank you!

  2. Jude says:

    I appear to be one of few that think this is grossly overpriced especially if you don’t drink alcohol. There’s not a huge choice and compared to something like the 3D dessert party it’s not even close to being right for me. It’s never hard to find a spot for illuminations. Can’t say I really have ever struggled. Although we do go off peak

  3. Joyce says:

    I feel like there should be more dessert options. Compared to the dessert party at Tomorrowland Terrace in Magic Kingdom, they have a much larger selection of desserts. Especially paying $50 for this one, even with the wine, they should have more dessert selections.

  4. Fran says:

    I’m with you, Jude. It sounds way overpriced for the small selection of desserts.

  5. Kristi says:

    They definitely need to increase the variety of desserts to make this worth while. They have so many options to choose from throughout Epcot that this makes for a rather poor showing.

  6. Mary says:

    Ugh. I’m booked for June, but will cancel if changes aren’t made. It is cheaper to purchase the items I would eat separately, and I bet I could even snag a bench to sit on if I’m going to be in place to watch Illuminations before 8:00.

  7. Mandi says:

    Booked this as soon as I saw it for my trip in May. Hoping for 2 things: that they will increase the offerings before then and 2. that this may cause others to cancel the MK dessert party that I have been trying to book for 3 months now! Either way I’m excited!

  8. Kristina says:

    I booked a reservation as soon as I read it was available. I’ve done the MK Tommorowland Terrace dessert party before and feel this will be just as awesome, plus the prime viewing for IllumiNations (which we never seem to get any other time we visit because we’re not willing to ‘park’ ourselves in front of the railing for 2 hours)
    Also this will be my grandma’s first (and possibly only) visit to Epcot, I want it to be extra special for her ;)

  9. Cindy says:

    The desserts definitely do not look like they hold up to the photos for the Snack Attack parties. While, I would love to have the reserved seating for Illuminations, I’m really hoping you schedule a Snack Attack party for our next vacation instead (Oct 17-24, hint hint)

  10. Brian says:

    That’s ridiculous when you compare $50 for that to $55 for the 3D Dessert Discovery Party during F&W! At 3D you get about 10 times the food and drink options for $5 more (including my favorite, the flambeed donut sundaes), plus entertainment…yeah, I don’t see how they can set a $50 price point for this.

  11. James says:

    With a couple of exceptions the Desserts look rather basic and uninteresting. For the cost I was hoping for more.

  12. Allison says:

    This definitely does look like a disappointment. For $50 per adult I could easily pick up several better snacks and beverages around the world and grab a great seat for Illuminations. I really am surprised that they did not have a chocolate dessert (other than pre-packaged ice cream bars); it is one of the first things I noticed about the menu.

  13. Mealtrip says:

    Having gone to the first event last Saturday, I just thought I’d add a bit about the seating availability, because it was brought up several times throughout the evening.

    Simply, there are no chairs. Will there be in the future? Well, it’s possible… but my gut feeling is, there would be limited seating at best, and not enough for everyone. If you know the area, most of the surface it at a seven to nine degree angle downward. In other words, if you placed a soccer ball on the ground, it would roll itself straight down to the planter wall.

    The limited “flat” area is being used for the beverage and food stations, and you have to leave some room for ingress and egress to the event space. So, if the event is going to remain at it’s current location, it should be thought of more as a mix and mingle, cocktail party type of event.

  14. Lynne says:

    $50.00 and you don’t even get to sit down at a reserved table?? Uh…no.

  15. Leslie says:

    I agree that this does not seem worth the pricetag right now. I would just add that when we were last down we used one of our fastpass+ options to get this viewing spot for Illuminations. We were told to come 30 minutes before, which we did, and by that time there were about 4 rows of people lined up along the railing, and again, no seating. We could have gotten a similar view just to the right or left without wasting a fastpass+ option. We did not expect them to give away that many fastpasses and if that’s similar to the number they are allowing for the dessert party, I’d say it’s not worth it.

  16. Melva says:

    Caveat – no one loves Disney more than I do and just returned from a wonderful week enjoying Flower and Garden and all the parks. However, the pricing for events such as this borders on the absurd when you consider the limited dessert options, the lack of seating, etc. Like many dining related matters at WDW these days, the goal seems to be wring as much money as possible out of guests in exchange for the absolute minimum offering – and I fear that if the dessert party as described above continues to book up, there really will be no incentive for Disney to improve it. Not exactly on point but possibly related – I was amazed by how empty Spice Road Table was whenever I walked by – even around fireworks time. I ate there in February and enjoyed it but it is pricey even by tapas standards.

  17. Meredith says:

    I’m gonna have to say no way to this one at this point… The Tomorrowland Dessert party was so great at MK, even without alcohol. The amount of different desserts available at MK was great, this amount of offerings seems to be lacking. And no seating?? For $50 I almost expect table service! I can only hope it will make getting a spot at MK’s dessert party easier!

  18. Heather says:

    From the urban dictionary: A Cronis describes complete failure from someone’s bad actions leading to a bad buzz kill or ruining a great situation.

    eg. Disney’s execution of the new dessert party was a total cronis.

  19. Suzanne says:

    Wow. I was really thinking about switching my reservation for the Tomorrowland Terrace Party for this one (and paying the difference of course) since both are offered the same night on my next trip but after reading this, I’ll stick with Wishes.

    I’m kind of disappointed by the selection. Especially with all that Epcot can offer snack/dessert wise it’s just a sad offering even if it does include alcohol.

    They should at least have chairs. I mean that’s part of the fun of the Tomorrowland party if you ask me. Relaxing and having a nice treat while you wait for the show to start.

  20. Elaine says:

    $50 is way over priced when only 5 countries are participating and I don’t drink wine so that really makes it way too much for me. And if it is where the reserved area was for those who had the Candlelight Processional dinner package I really didn’t think it was that great of a space because of the slope. And until this would include seating I will not be attending. I could buy a drink and a pastry and find anywhere around the lagoon to sit on the ground. They need to take notes from the one at the Magic Kingdom – I LOVED the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party. It was awesome.

  21. Elaine says:

    And, one more thing – no chocolate desserts – that’s unheard of :o)

  22. Nicole says:

    Interesting that they are holding this event in the space that used to be the FP+ location for Illuminations. Any idea where they moved that to?

    Also, thank you for your review – I had read things about this event on FB that I knew had to be wrong (you had to go to different countries for the different desserts).

  23. Becky says:

    Its too expensive. Love the Wishes Dessert party at MK. I don’t think its worth the cost.

  24. Mike says:

    Wow! Basically, this is a tiny version of the Wishes Dessert Party with sparkling wines at double the price. I’ll stick with Wishes.

    They should have modeled the event after the DFB Snack Attack…the results would have been much better!

  25. Vanessa says:

    Can someone provide an updated post to see if changes are going to be made? I have my reservation at the end of this month and this is way over priced for me….my main reason for paying this prices was so I could have a seat. I will cancel our reservations if they don’t make some serious upgrades!

  26. Carrie says:

    Sheesh! You could do a private dessert party in Epcot with 9 of your closest friends for a lower per-person cost—plus you’d get to pick your own desserts, get more of them, and have a front-row spot! No thanks…

  27. David says:

    I’m booked for March 28th. Thinking about canceling now after reading the reviews. Have done the dessert party at magic kingdom 3 times and loved it. The selection at Epcot is sad and pathetic. Why hasn’t Disney had any responses to the complaints. Is it that they feel they will sell this no matter what, and there’s no need to change it. I hope the they step up to the plate and add a lot more selections to justify the cost. Let’s see if my favorite place on earth to spend mine and my family’s time steps up to the plate and does the right thing.

  28. Mindy says:

    What catches my attention most, is $29.00 for children. Would that be ACTUAL children as in under 18? Those not old enough for champagne (those under 21) or just ages 3-9? I’m thinking my 11 year old would at most, enjoy a Mickey Bar. And then, being so little, she wouldn’t be able to see over the standing adults. We have watched Illuminations from that exact spot before there was fastpass+ for that. It was an OK spot, at least when she was able to stand AT the railing, but we’ve had better. Not a value here..not to mention how much champagne I’d have to down to make the slim dessert selection worth it. I’ll stick with my little umbrella table in Africa Outpost.

  29. Lynn says:

    Will there be a DFB Snack Attack this year?

  30. AJ says:

    Thanks for your comments everyone! (And for the kind words about the DFB Snack Attack Illuminations Dessert Party!!)

  31. AJ says:

    Lynn — We’ll make plans for this year’s DFB Snack Attack soon! It will likely be in late September!

  32. Mealtrip says:

    Nicole — It “might” still be the FP+ viewing location for Illuminations. There was a thin rope that divided the area from the top planter wall, down to the bottom planter wall… in the middle of that whole, big, general area.

    So if you were looking at the lagoon, the left-side was the dessert reception area and the whole right side was (probably) FP+ viewing. I had too many glasses of Prosecco to do too much investigating, but as I remember… there were too few people in that right-side area to be just “general guests” for a Saturday night. So my guess is, the whole right-side area could and/or might still be FP+ viewing.

  33. Kev says:

    This seems one of those fabulous Disney ideas that can really add to a special visit to Orlando if you are the right kind of Disney guest.
    Would we personally pay that kind of money, no, because like many DFB readers, we can probably use our experience to plan our vacations to make the most of our valuable time without handing over huge amounts for special events.
    So, for special visits, yes, things like this can work out very well.

    The only problem with this particular event is that it does not seem to have been ‘put together’ with Disney’s legendary pixie dust! It seems very lacking somehow. Why would I for example, stand in a fairly busy and open space and put Spaceship Earth to my back when watching Illuminations?

    Fortunately the desserts look fantastic, and without too many complaints, I would be fairly confident that our family would devour each and every item, with a few ‘swaps’ here and there of course.
    Yes, I would like to try it, but no, not at that kind of price I’m afraid!

  34. Josephine says:

    I made reservations for this event for next month. I’m watching closely to see if it evolves into something more worthwhile for my family (more desserts and seats for the $). If not, I will cancel. I emailed Disney this a.m. with my concerns and got a form email back so we will see…

  35. Janelle says:

    I was so excited for this and we booked for our end of May visit. Now, I am rethinking. I was really hoping for a great view of Illuminations with a seat as well as a nice treat. I was hoping for something like the Fantasmic Dessert party at Disneyland. I will really have to rethink this as well if it does not change. My daughter is 8 and we want her to be able to see the show.

  36. Ginamarie says:

    That is way too overpriced for the selections. The fact that there is no seating adds insult to injury. I would much rather pick up some gelato and a funnel cake and find my own bench to watch Illuminations, which would cost MUCH less for our family.

  37. Barry says:

    Thanks very much for a frank review of the event. There are some Disney blogs that are so eager to please the Mouse that they never offer a word of criticism. I love a lot of the stuff that WDW does otherwise I wouldn’t keep going back. But there have definitely been disappointments along the way and I’m glad to hear about them in advance so I don’t waste my limited time or money when there are much better options elsewhere at WDW.

  38. venessa says:

    I think I’ll be the only exception to all the negative comments. Having gotten married at Disney last year, Carrie is right. Ours came out to $35pp and we had Zebra Domes, Funnel Cake Bread Pudding, an Ice Cream sundae bar with various toppings, brownies, mini chocolate lava cakes, fruits and cookies. BUT IT WAS ENOUGH!! It was the perfect amount for 50 guest and we were filled up!! Gluttony at it’s best. So while yes, $50 is a little pricey, I personally think the amount you’re getting here is just fine. It’s 5 desserts plus several ice cream novelties and two selections of sparkling wine. And it’s unlimited from 7:45-9:20. It’s not cheaper to buy these individual considering the baklava alone is $5 and that’s only one, not unlimited. This is just me, but I would be happy to stuff my face with all these desserts and wine for $50. If I wanted to stuff my face without this party, which I have, it has cost me over $150 dollars. Drinks are not cheap at Epcot my friends and neither are the yummy all you can eat ice cream bars, which are also $5.

    Idk, I too would love chairs yes, but I have always stood for Wishes, Illuminations and Parades so I’m not too bothered by it. I have also seen DP parties with plastic white chairs. if they do anything, they should at least do that. But I’m always a firm believer of trying things before you knock them. I’ll be checking this party out in Oct.

    I have never tried the Wishes party but heard the desserts while plentiful, weren’t that great.

  39. Nikki says:

    The ratio of actual reviews to judgments based on photos/word of mouth is staggering..as somebody who’s been to this, I’d say its a great experience. I don’t compare it to other dessert party bc I believe they’re all special in their own way hence the inclusion of alcohol being at Epcot. To have a designated area to eat/drink away from the masses is much needed and preferred to those who want to have a more intimate setting. Making it memorable is how and what you make of the event, purely subjective experience. I wouldn’t discourage anybody for trying something if that’s your choice.

  40. Justine Maria Caiazzo says:

    I would definitely do this if they either added a few more desserts or reduced the price. As it is right now, I’ll skip it.

  41. Jenn says:

    It is stated quite clearly when reservations are made for this event that there is no seating. It should not come as a surprise to anyone who attends that there are not seats available. I also think that this event cannot in any way be compared to the Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party. I’ve attend that event at least twice, and in my opinion, it has changed substantially from the time it first began, and not for the better. Tomorrowland Terrace amounts now to a glorified cookie buffet with some ice cream and other random desserts thrown in. The last time I attended Tomorrowland Terrace, it took staff a lot of time to refill the desserts, and the entire scene was chaotic. When I think of the price per each of these desserts for Epcot’s event, plus the fact that I can drink as much champagne and prosecco as I want, I don’t feel that the price for this event is that inflated. I actually think this event will be a step-up from the Tomorrowland Terrace party, which is really geared for kids, and families who want a prime viewing location for the fireworks. This event is clearly geared for adults. And put simply, Epcot is not a kid-friendly park, despite attempts to make it so.

    You can’t compare Tomorrowland Terrace to this event, it’s not apples for apples. I’m looking forward to attending this event in April, and quite happy Disney is offering this event in Epcot.

  42. Tricia Noble says:

    This is what I love about DFB. We all have opinions and share them freely. As my husband and I are not big drinkers but are big dessert eaters we would have loved more choices in the desserts for the price.

    If you are one for the Alcohol unlimited and like the two choices offered than this will be good for you.

  43. Nikki says:

    @Tricia I concur. I just hope that some of the opinions or sentiments are based on actual experience thus giving more credibility to the commenters

  44. Meg says:

    I think that this looks fabulous and I cannot wait to attend! I hope that they continue this and that I can hopefully go around Christmas. The view looks fantastic and some treats to enjoy while watching would be perfect. 50 bucks seems reasonable when thinking about how much a bottle of champagne and desserts would cost at any restaurant in my area and a restaurant wouldn’t come with such wonderful fireworks. Totally worth it.

  45. John says:

    Honestly, at the price they are charging, for our group of 8 we’ll probably just do another Illuminations cruise. Bring a couple bottles of wine and stop at the Boardwalk Bakery on your way and you’re all set.

  46. Sarah says:

    My husband and I are going to Disney in October for our wedding anniversary, and when I saw this was being offered I had considered it. I think based on this review though we’ll probably pass. Neither of us are big wine drinkers, and I just don’t see us eating enough desserts to justify $50. As others have said, it’s not really that hard to get a decent spot to watch Illuminations, and if I watch it elsewhere I’ll at least have the option of sitting while we’re waiting for it to start. I can certainly see where it might have better value for others- especially if wine is your thing.

  47. Kim says:

    My family of 4 would cost $180….to get what I could buy with snack credits on World Showcase. No seats either? No thanks.

    Frankly, I have never had an issue with finding suitable viewing areas for Illuminations. The desserts are meh and nothing above and beyond what you can already get around the viewing area. They either have to reduce the price OR dramatically increase the offerings (or maybe offer seats?) to match the price.

    This one is a pass for our family.

  48. Skip says:

    Looks great to us – in a couple of hours I’m sure we can get our money’s worth of bubbly and desserts, plus a pretty good viewing spot without having to exert much effort or waste any time. I like that Disney seems to be targeting/pricing this one as a (more or less) adults-only affair. Can’t wait until May.

  49. Christine says:

    Thank you for posting an honest review. Hopefully Disney will make the necessary changes. :)

  50. Sarah says:

    Attended this event March 21, 2014. Very disappointing. Grossly overpriced, bland desserts, NO seating, standing area only with just few tables. Had to eat at a table full of someone else’s trash. Nothing like the event at Magic Kingdom. No assigned tables, etc. Don’t waste your $$$$.

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