So this is pretty exciting — I finally got to attend a Party for the Senses at this year’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival!
For those who aren’t sure what I’m talking about (I know — “Party for the Senses” can sound a bit odd!), the Party for the Senses is held most Saturdays during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival each year. This exclusive event impresses the taste buds, of course, but it also aims to awaken all of your senses. During this 2 1/2 hour extravaganza, food and beverages flow freely as awe-inspiring entertainment is performed by Cirque du Soleil, La Nouba.
There are two more parties being offered this year — November 5, and November 12 — for $145 per ticket (plus you’ll need Epcot park admission). Note that the Wine View Lounge upgrade, which includes private tables ($260) is sold out. Reservations can be made at 407-WDW-FEST or at Disneyworld.com/foodandwine.
Interestingly, the artfully prepared menus (including chefs and vinters) change, so your party may not have the same offerings as the one that we attended.
Now that we have the specs out of the way, let’s get into the meat of the night!
We attended the Party for the Senses during the “Deluge of 2011,” as I like to call it. That’s right; we got all gussied up and sloshed over to Epcot on October 8th. When we arrived at the World Showplace entry — between the UK and Canada in Epcot’s World Showcase — the line to get into the event was about 200 people long!!
With just one umbrella and a poncho, the two of us decided to wait out the line under the warm and welcoming cover of Canada’s Trading Post shop; but after another half hour of staring at Moose jammies and maple candy, we decided that the line was just getting longer and we should bite the bullet.
We ended up waiting for another 30 minutes in the rain before our soggy selves were allowed into the Party. That was definitely not the most logical way to check-in high-paying guests, I don’t think. It had been raining for two days straight at that point; I would have thought Disney would have put up a few temporary tents to keep the waiting (well-dressed) guests a bit more dry.
Alas, at this point we passed through the gate and were handed our snazzy Food and Wine Festival wine glasses and “palette plates,” as I call them.
Oddly, it seems that there was a serious spelling error at the crate factory when they were packing up the gear for the party…
Once we got inside the actual building, we were greeted with a landscape of color and food! The Party is held in a ginormous room, where individual cooking and pouring stations are set up for each represented Chef, restaurant, and winery/beverage company.
Tables are scattered around the room and covered in colorful cloths. Tables are first come, first served, and from what I hear, the number of tables has been increased over the past few years. We had no trouble finding a table when we were there.
Throughout the event, guests are entertained by performances from Cirque du Soleil, La Nouba — the spectacular show that’s put on in Downtown Disney every evening.
The combined acts and music are truly outstanding, and I think this is one of the most compelling reasons to visit the Party for the Senses.
Once your eyes have adjusted to the dark and you’ve scanned the room for your plan of attack, it’s time to start hitting the food tables…
The food tables at the Party for the Senses each week are taken up by Disney chefs as well as chefs and beverage companies who are visiting presenters that week at the Food and Wine Festival Culinary and Beverage demonstrations. This means that you’ll always get to try something a little bit different, and you might even see a celebrity or two!
Of course, I wanted to try a little bit of everything, so…I went with dessert first! 😉 I happened to be at a table right by Chef Deran Lanpher, who is taking up the post of Pastry Chef at the Yachtsman Steakhouse this month. His offering was a Peanut Butter and Pretzel Gianduja with a Valhrona Brownie and Caramel Milk Chocolate Mousse, which will be introduced on the Yachtsman dessert menu very soon (if it hasn’t been already!).
This dessert was fantastic. Clearly Chef Lanpher is going back to the flavors we all loved as kids — caramel, chocolate, pretzels, and peanut butter — to create a high end, melt-in-your-mouth dessert. This is a winner.