Today, we have a big treat for you!
You know that we love to talk about the Epcot Food and Wine Festival here at DFB. It’s like the Super Bowl and Olympics and Christmas all rolled into one!
And while there’s tons to do and see and eat throughout the event, some of the most highly anticipated premium events are the Parties for the Senses. (See the review of our last time attending the event here.) In 2016, you can choose from parties held on October 1, 8, 15, 22, 28, and 29, featuring different themes. Read all about it on our Special Events Page!
We booked tickets to the Part for the Senses last year, and today we’re sharing all of the beautiful entertainment and eats with you. There’s a ton to see, so we should get right to it. Hopefully these pictures will help you to determine whether or not the Party interests you. Remember that booking opens July 21st!
Atmosphere and Entertainment
Party for the Senses takes place in the World ShowPlace Pavilion at Epcot. You’ll find it between the Canada and UK Pavilions in World Showcase.
As many of you know, Disney now takes a tiered approach to many events as they offer premium upgrades to the general admission ticket. Party for the Senses is no exception. You can choose from three different levels. General Admission gets you into the front door for the 2 1/2 hour party. While you enjoy all of the food and drink as part of the ticket price, there is limited seating at this level.
The cool thing about General Admission is that they do allow you to wait out in this area until the curtains are drawn back, and you can enter. As you check in, you receive your wine glass and plate. Hold onto them! They’ll come in handy all evening.
Reserved Seating is one step up, and includes seating at a reserved table on the main floor, early entrance into the event, and specialty cocktail toast.
If it’s an ultra-premium experience that you’re looking for, you’ll want to choose the Wine View Lounge, which includes a private reserved table, early entrance into the event, a specialty cocktail toast, access to a premium bar and artisanal cheese station, and more.
While you enjoy those other perks, it may also be worth it to you to have the extra close proximity to the stage when the entertainment begins.
And speaking of…that part of things has always involved performers from Cirque de Soleil’s La Nouba, which calls Disney Springs home.
In 2016, we understand that the entertainment will be all new. We can’t wait to see what they offer!
The Cirque de Soleil show offered a glimpse into what a performance by the internationally acclaimed circus is like. We have always loved that the show features live music! And Party for the Senses is no exception.
While the musicians sang and played, Gymnasts, Acrobats, and other artist took to the stage — and the air above it!
Truly, the entertainment is world class. It’s a big part of what makes the experience so special.
The experience was wonderful. But it made us hungry. And thirsty. Time to hit the Tasting Stations!
Eats and Drinks
Similar to other events, like the Rockin’ Burger Block Party, Party for the Senses features Tasting Stations. That means that you’ll mill around the room, trying all of the dishes that are on offer. Servers are on hand to take away plates and glasses as needed.
Each of the stations is also paired with a beverage. You’ll find electronic signs with the particulars at each station, so you’ll always know just what it is that you’re about to try.
Note that beverages and food items will change at each event. Each party features different beverage vendors and chefs. Also, remember that all food and beverages are included in the price of your ticket, so it’s all-you-can-eat/drink at the event.
Let’s take a peek at a few of the beverages and dishes on offer.
Adult Beverages flow in abundance. The evening we visited, beer lovers were treated to a full menu of Goose Island offerings.
Guests could choose from Honkers Ale, Goose IPA, or Urban Wheat Ale. Or actually, they could have all three.
There was also no shortage of Wine on offer. “Alcohol by Volume” poured Aviary Chardonnay, Bread & Butter Pinot Noir, and Le Mistral Single Vineyard Red.
San Sebastian from St. Augustine offered their Vintners Red and Port Ruby.
Bodega Norton Winery shared Privada, Malbec, and Chardonnay.
Pascual Toso Winery from Argentina shared some bold reds, including Reserve Malbec, Alta Reserve Malbec, and Alta Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
Lakeridge Winery, another Florida offering, came with their Sunblush and Southern White blends.
Wilson Daniels poured Ponzi Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint Martin.
And finally, Neil Empson shared selections from Italy, including Canella Bellini, Bongiovanni Arneis Lange, and Zabu Nero d’Avola.
There were also a few cocktails and liquor offerings. Mixologist Gustavo Ortega crafted different drinks to complement dishes: he offered a Tamarind Margarita as well as Mayan God Mezcal and Ambhar Tequila.
Because one of the tasting stations was sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic, we also had a chance to try Ron Barcelo Dominican Rum.
As I mentioned earlier, the dine around portion of the evening means that you visit the tasting stations. My advice? Scope it out, be adventurous, try everything, and go back for seconds of your favorites!
The tasting stations will each feature a particular Chef or restaurant, so you may find a few favorites at your event.
Our DFB photographer for this event, @Mealtrip, put into the comments the full list of menu items available at this event so we’re adding it up here in the post. Thanks @Mealtrip!
- Atlantic Cod with Brandade de Morue
- Tacos de Carnita – Braised Pork served on a Corn Tortilla topped with Roasted Habanero Salsa and Pico de Gallo
- Jasper Hills Farms Cheeses (table with various cheeses)
- Tagine of Lamb with Apricots and Toasted Almonds
- Banana-Hazelnut Timbale
- Cresta de Gallo with Confit Duck
- Scallops with Roasted Cauliflower, Quinoa Salas and Aji Amarillo Leche de Tigre Vinaigrette
- Salmon “Lomo Saltado”
- Gardein Beefless Ground Ratatouille Tortelloni, Melted Cipolin and Parsnip Puree with Sundried Tomato Basil Sauce and Merlot Greens
- Malted Milk Chocolate Whiskey Cake with Popcorn Gelato
- Dolci di Ricotta Buffalo Ricotta Cheesecake, Spice Bread, Poached Huckleberries with Chocolate Mirto Sorbetto
- Sautéed Duck Breast in a Port and Blueberry Reduction
- Tuscan Short Ribs with Polenta
- Bruschetta topped with Roasted Tomatoes, Pesto, Herbed Ricotta and Arugula
- Alaskan King Crab Toast
- Cinnamon Cake Truffles on Spoons
- Pastrami-cured Lamb Loin with Black Brioche Crumble, Pickled Cabbage, and Harissa
- Skate Wind Braciola
- Roasted Sake Miso Duck Breast with Furikake Rice, Beet and Carrot Salad with a Ginger Soy Sauce
- Pan-seared Elk Loin with Pumpkin Gnocchi, Oven-roasted Wild Mushroom and Apple Brandy Reduction
- Cheese Dumplings with Tasso Ham Cream, Lima Beans, and Baby Kale
- Sonoma Lamb with Backyard Fattouch and Mint Chutney
- Guinea Drunk on Soft Chenchen Scented of Coconut served with Black Beans and Tomato Foam with Coriander
- Chocolate Ganache, Various Flavors from Chocolate Accents
- Artisanal Cheese Selection (table with various cheeses)
Offerings the evening that we attended included dishes from restaurants throughout Walt Disney World as well as from visiting chefs who had conducted Culinary Demos at the Food and Wine Festival throughout the previous week.
Chef Samad Benzari and his staff from the Morocco Pavilion were on hand with a dish. At first, he was feeling a little camera shy…
But we won him over with our charm in the end.
Want to get up close and personal with a few of the dishes? Meee toooo!
Chef Jeff Moore and his staff from ‘Ohana were up first.
Here, the small plate featured Roasted Sake Miso Duck Breast with Furikake Rice, Beet and Carrots Salad and Ginger Soy Sauce.
Next, we enjoyed a dish by Chef Pascal Oudin of Brasserie Central in Coral Gables, Florida.
The chef and his staff treated us to Atlantic Cod with Brandade de Morue.
We then visited a table by Chef Axel Martinez from Cinderella’s Royal Table.
The dish here was a savory and filling vegetarian option — Gardein Beefless Tortelloni and Parsnip Puree. And they were making the Tortelloni right there! Now that’s fresh!
Next up, we checked out what Chef Clay Conley of Buccan in Palm Beach, Florida was offering.
The dish was a Salmon Lomo Saltado, featuring Verlasso Sustainably Farm Raised Salmon.
Tuscan Short Ribs with Polenta were available at the table by Chef Jonathan Benno of Lincoln Ristorante, in New York.
Chef Ana Lebron drew upon island specialties as she represented the Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic with her Guinea Drunk on Soft Chenchen Scented of Coconut with Black Beans and Tomato Foam with Coriander.
Another vegetarian option greeted us at the table of Chef Robert Leonardi from Wolfgang Puck’s.
A fresh mix of Roasted Tomatoes, Pesto, Herbed Ricotta, and Arugula completed this Bruschetta.
We were happy to see Chef Ernesto Zendejas from the San Angel family of restaurants in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion.
He and his crew served up a lovely Tacos de Carnita — Braised Pork Served on a Corn Tortilla, and topped with Roasted Habanero Salsa and Pico de Gallo.
Chef Kevin Zbraga, of Zbraga in Philadelphia, brought another seafood option.
His Alaskan King Crab Toast was simple, but elegant.
You never know when you might run into a celebrity or two at Party for the Senses. And it was exciting to see Chef Art Smith enjoying the party and chatting with guests! We can’t wait until his new Disney Springs restaurant, Homecoming: Florida Kitchen, opens very soon!
Chef Smith brought a really interesting dish — Pastrami-cured Lamb Loin with Black Brioche Crumble.
Also in the house was Chef Warren Brown, who has been a regular at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival for years. You may know him from his Food Network TV Show, Sugar Rush. Chef Brown is the founder and owner of CakeLove Bakery in Washington DC.
His Cinnamon Cake Truffles were conveniently served on Spoons, which made for easy consumption! And you know we loved the little dollop of Icing next to it.
Chef Kristine Farmer and the crack team from the Grand Floridian’s pastry shop also brought it, with this extravagant Banana-Hazelnut Timbale.
Finally, Chef Jason Stricker of the Epcot Events Team shared a Malted Milk Chocolate Cake with Popcorn Gelato.
Senses fully engaged and spent, we were ready to call it a night.
Party for the Senses is aptly named. If you’re looking for an event that’s about more than just the food, this may fit the bill. With spectacular entertainment engaging your eyes and ears, there’s never a dull moment. And the smells coming from the tasting stations where dishes are actually being prepared for guests really draw you in. And, of course, there’s tasting!
If you haven’t had a chance to attend Party for the Senses, and you enjoy tasting events, I’d definitely recommend you give this one a try. Sure, it’s pricey. But given the level of entertainment as well as the quality and quantity of food and wine, I think many would feel that it’s a splurge well spent.
And now, I’d really like to hear from you! Have you attending Party for the Senses during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival? Leave a comment and let us know what you think of this Special Event!