Today is a sad day in the Disney World. Today marks the last official day of the 2018 EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival. The second best time of the EPCOT year, (right after Food and Wine of course). If you haven't gotten to enjoy this festival before, trust us, it's one you definitely don't want to miss. And if you have enjoyed this festival before, you know exactly what we're talking about!
We lovingly refer to this festival as "Food and Wine Halftime" because that's kind of what it's become. There's about half as many booths as the Food and Wine Fest, but it's growing every year. Honestly, sometimes we kind of like the fact that there's half as many booths. It feels less overwhelming, and you get to try more things at each booth (especially if you only get to visit once). PLUS, there's amazing topiaries and beautiful flowers throughout the park.
Below are some of the highlights for us of this year's festival!
The Honey Bee-stro
This was a new booth for this year, and it's so cute! I love this area, and the food and drinks were great!
One of our favorite stands of the festival!
Honey-Peach Cobbler Freeze with Blueberry Vodka and
Honey Tandoori Chicken Flatbread with White Cheddar Cheese, Charred Veggies, and Clover Honey Sour Cream.
This is somewhat of a famous booth at Flower and Garden festival. It's the booth that not only offers Dole Whip and Dole Whip WITH rum (both classic favorites), but also the ***Violet Lemonade***
This frozen flavored lemonade has built up such a following you can now purchase shirts, pins, hats, and more all over the internet to show your extreme fandom for the drink!
I mean...what can we say? We're fans of it, too. It's THAT good.
La Isla Fresca
Easily the cutest booth of the festival, as you can probably tell by how many pictures we took of it.
AND my own personal favorite drink, as well.
The tropical freeze with mango rum. This was by far my favorite drink this year. It has real chunks of mango on top, and I'm pretty sure I drank the whole thing in about 4 minutes. Oops.
The Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer with Steamed Rice and Coconut-lime Sauce was also awesome!
The Berry Basket
To be honest, with a booth dedicated to berries, I definitely thought I was going to enjoy this stand more than I did. The blueberry moscato was not great (didn't even get a picture of it, sorry), and the Green Tea Berry Mint Julep was just okay.
I will say, this drink photographs SO well. And, it did get better when we mixed it around. When they first handed it to us (and you can see this in the photo) all of the liquor sank to the bottom.
The bottom as in, where my straw was, as in, I took a huge gulp of bourbon and was not happy with the taste. But, like I said, it photographs SO well. Haha :)
Jardin de Fiestas
Of course, we also love Mexico! They also have great options, and it kind of feels like home to us.
This year, though, I think was one of Mexico's strongest line-ups yet.
Violet Cassis Punch and Rose Margarita (my fav)
The chilaquiles!!! One of my favorite food options this year. A little different than the chilaquiles we're used to in San Antonio, but still really good! Fried pieces of corn tortillas topped with ranchera sauce, chorizo, Mexican cream, and cotija cheese.
So, China is another booth that's usually a favorite of ours. But, I've got to say- this year I was kind of let down. We didn't even bother ordering the cocktails since they always offer the exact same ones (at both Flower and Garden AND Food and Wine).
I was excited for the Fried Chicken Dumplings, but after trying them, I realized that I like the regular dumplings better. Oh well, hopefully this Fall the China booth will be back on top.
Bauernmarkt: Farmer's Market
Toasted Pretzel Bread with Black Forest Ham and Gruyere Cheese and
Potato Pancake with Caramelized Ham, Onions, and Herbed Sour Cream.
They do offer a potato pancake with applesauce instead of the ham and onions if that sounds more appealing to you.
And you can't stop in Germany without getting a beer! This is the Kostritzer Schwarzbier Black Lager.
Italy's always a safe bet at any EPCOT festival. You know what to expect, and it's pretty much always good!
Maine Lobster Ravioli with Vodka Sauce
Fritto Misto- Crispy Shrimp and Zucchini with a spicy sauce drizzle.
The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews
EPCOT always does a great job making sure America has great offerings during festivals.
And this year was no exception!
Three meats: One Sandwich! If this doesn't scream "'Murica!" I'm not sure what does.
It's a Beef Brisket Burnt Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider with a Chorizo Cheddar Fondue, and topped with Garlic Sausage and a slice of House-made Pickle! Whew! That's a mouthful...of delicious!
And a beer flight to wash it all down. Yum!
Another festival fan favorite item can be found at the Japan pavilion- Frushi aka Fruit Sushi.
Personally, we're not the biggest fans of it. It's okay, but not a favorite on our list by any means.
Also pictured above is the Ginger Beer Yakiudon: Thin-sliced Beef, Onions, and Noodles tossed in Soy and Ginger.
Taste of Marrakesh
Desert Rose- Sparkling Wine topped with Pomegranate Liqueur.
This was another one of the best looking booths of the festival.
So much greenery around this one, plus, you can never go wrong with string lights.
Step aside violet lemonade! The cucumber watermelon slush has arrived and it's giving you a run for your money! (Pictured left the awesome watermelon cucumber slush available with or without gin)
And on the right- First Magnitude Brewing Co. Monarch Milk Stout.
Fleur de Lys
France is home to the best alcoholic slushes in world showcase! And outstanding desserts!
Macaron au Chocolat en Sucette: French for Large Chocolate Macaron Lollipop!
This was SO good. Not only is it photogenic and easy to eat: it actually tastes great too!
Easily one of our favorite desserts of the year!
Confit de Canard au Gnocchi a la Parisienne: French for Braised Duck Confit with Parisian Gnocchi.
Too many mushrooms for Parker, but other than that he really enjoyed it.
If you recall from previous posts, Parker is the Cider King! So, naturally, this is one of his favorite booths. Although we weren't crazy about the food, if there's a cider flight available, it's a win for him!
Black Cherry, Pineapple Tropical, and Apple Orange Grand Mimosa.
Potato and Cheddar Cheese biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare.
Canada's always a great spot to get some hearty options at the festival. They usually offer some sort of meat and potato and/or thick soup, etc. This festival we absolutely LOVED the Canada booth!
Beef Tenderloin Tips with Mushroom Bordelaise Sauce and Whipped Potatoes and Carrots. YUM!
Seared Scallops with French Green Beans, Butter Potatoes, Brown Butter Vinaigrette, and
Applewood-Smoked Bacon. YUM X2!
And of course, the Flower and Garden festival just wouldn't be as magical without the impressive living topiaries scattered throughout the park! Here are some of our favorites!
And there you have it! The 2018 EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival all wrapped up. We're sad to see it go, BUT, that means it's only three months until Food and Wine starts!
Who's ready?? We know we are!
Welcome, everyone, to this week's Ride or Dine post! It's not too often that we get to blog about something BRAND NEW in our community, so when the opportunity arises, we get very excited!
As many of you probably already know, Six Flags Fiesta Texas announced last year that they would be opening a brand new roller coaster this Spring.
Well, after many days spent waiting, the time has finally come, and we were there to preview it's opening!
The Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster is a first of it's kind single-rail coaster. It features a 90-degree drop, two airtime hills, a 180-degree stall, and a zero-g roll. Basically, this ride is intense! (AND AWESOME)
The ride officially opens May 12th, but the park offered pass member previews last weekend, and we jumped at the opportunity. Diamond and Diamond Elite members were able to ride as many times as they wanted last Fri-Sun from 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM.
We rode in the middle, front, and back to try all of the different experiences, and they varied quite a bit. Personally, I thought the back was a bit too intense, but I'm not the coaster lover the way Parker is. The front is very cool because you have a completely unobstructed view, and there's a tiny, microscopic bit of hang time on the first drop! If you're looking for an easy, fun, hands in the air kind of experience then the front is definitely the way to go. If you're looking to be out of your seat and don't mind a rough ride, then the back is for you!
*I have to make a note that Parker rode in the back twice last weekend and when we got home his shoulder area was slightly bruised. So, just be aware of that if you're unsure about the intensity of the back row!
It's seemed that in the last few years Fiesta Texas has kind of become the guinea pig Six Flags park in a sense. We were the first SF to get the 4D coaster (Batman), the first SF to get a water coaster (Thunder Rapids), and now the first SF to get the single rail coaster (Wonder Woman). This is awesome news for San Antonio locals like us! And these are also all awesome additions. Hey, we're all for new, innovative rides like this replacing the boomerangs of the world!
All members and season pass holders will have the chance to preview the coaster this weekend, May 4th - 6th. For everyone else, the ride officially opens May 12th! Let us know in the comments or via social media if you've gotten to ride yet, and if not what you're looking forward to most about Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster!
Mardi Gras Festival
This past weekend was also the kick-off of Fiesta Texas' Mardi Gras Festival! This annual event offers traditional New Orleans-style food and drinks, live music and entertainment throughout the park, and an all new nighttime parade.
The entire park was decorated, even though the majority of the food booths and
entertainment were located in Rockville.
And the characters were out and about in their Mardi Gras gear getting people in the spirit!
As far as the food is concerned, they've got a pretty decent selection.
The items range from about $8 - $14, and they also offer a 5-item sampler for $40. We opted for the sampler since it made more sense monetarily, and we knew we wanted to try a few things!
The beignets were our favorite!
*(Fun fact: that cornbread rolled right off that plate approx. 3.5 seconds after this photo was taken.
The things we do for photos! Haha)
Look at this GIANT Muffaletta!
And it's served with chips! By the way, these Voodoo Zapp's are our new favorite chips!
And of course, it wouldn't be Mardi Gras without Hurricanes!
Pictured above: Left and Center- Hurricane, Right- Pimm's Lemonade
And, last but not least, Po' Boys. We tried the Fried Catfish and the Shrimp.
They also offer a Crawfish Po' Boy if you prefer!
Overall, the food was good, not great. We can tell the park made an effort, and for that we are grateful! And we're hopeful for more events like this in the future!
We'll take this over standard park food any day.
The parade was pretty neat. The floats were well-done, and there were beads galore!
Catching all the beads!!
Some of these were so pretty!
It's a dolphin. It's a shark. It's out of place.
And just like that (with a confetti explosion) the parade was over. It was a lot of fun, and Diamond members get a special viewing area, so that was a nice little perk.
Well, this past weekend was definitely one for the books at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. You can't beat a new coaster AND a food festival. It's literally what our blog is all about! Let us know if you have plans to attend Mardi Gras fest (running through May 28th), or if you have plans to check out the new Wonder Woman Coaster! We love hearing from you guys! Until next time, Laissez les bons temps rouler!
This past weekend was the kick-off of SeaWorld San Antonio's FOURTH Annual Seven Seas Food Festival! We absolutely love this event, and we're so excited that we've gotten to attend every single year and to watch it grow and succeed so much.
We're going to take you through a photo journey of our time at the opening weekend of this year's festival and share our thoughts on what you have to try, what you can skip, and everything in-between!
First thing's first! Buying a lanyard! You can purchase a 10 Sampler package for $45, a 15 Sampler package for $60, or the VIP Chef's Tasting Package for $65. And YES, you can use Season Pass discounts on these! Cha-Ching!
And don't forget to pick up your Seven Seas Festival Passport! This free guide through the booths allows you to get a stamp at each location you purchase a food/beverage at. When you've gotten a stamp from every booth, you get a free dessert!
Gulf of Mexico
So. Many. Tempting. Options!
Caribbean Punch (left) and Mexican Sunset (right)
I think we preferred the Sunset, but both were good, so if you can spare the lanyard punches- Get both!
Buffalo Chicken Tacos (Brittany's dream food item) and Green Chile Chicken Verde Tacos (Parker's dream food item).
How perfect is this??
Mexico also offers Tequila Tasting for an additional charge. The experience offers 4 tastings of different tequilas for $14.95, or $19.95 with a souvenir shot glass.
North Atlantic- France
Crepes on crepes on crepes on crepes!!!
France was a new booth added to the mix last year, and we immediately fell in love with it!
The crepes are amazing! We tried the Ham, Spinach, and Cheese, Berries and Cream, and Hazelnut and Jelly Crepes last year. This year we tried the new Boston Creme Pie (we miss you, S'Mores Crepe), and it might just be the best one yet!
*Parker would like the record to show that his favorite is the Hazelnut and Jelly Crepe.
France also added a new immediate favorite this year- Macarons!
A ranking of flavors:
Obviously, Parker's crazy!
Just like the Tequila experience in Mexico, SeaWorld also offers a Whiskey Tasting. This booth isn't really in a specific Seven Seas area, it's just in between France and Greece. There's also a Craft Beer stand right next to it, so I guess we can call this "Alcohol Area."
Neither of us are really Whiskey fans...but the employees were just so friendly and they really sold it! So we had no choice but to taste a bunch of whiskeys!
Aaaaand that's it. We can't tell you anything about whiskey other than- still not a fan.
In our very honest opinion, Greece really needs to step it up. The Lamb Burger used to be a favorite of ours in years past, but it's gone down hill. There also haven't been many changes to the booth other than those Greek Nachos (which are a direct rip off of EPCOT, by the way) and the new cocktail.
The new cocktail, Santorini Sunrise, was also not our favorite. To be fair we didn't know what Ouzo was before ordering it, but now that we do, we won't order it again. If you are also unfamiliar with the liquor, it has a strong black licorice taste. Be cautious!
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Italy really stepped it up this year! We'll add a photo of the menu in an edit later but for now here's the full menu:
Italian Meatball Slider
Three Cheese Polenta with Braised Beef & Wild Mushroom Sauce
Grilled Artisan Flatbread Pizzas
The meatball slider was okay. It looks better than it tasted, but we didn't even care because, once again, THE FLATBREADS!
The limoncello, like previous years, takes the cake for STRONGEST drink of the festival.
Such a pretty area.
The cutest little booth :)
Both of the cocktails, Caribbean Breeze and Jamaica Me Crazy, are really good! Try them both!
And SHOCKER- Parker loved the mac and cheese!
Jerk Pork White Cheddar - Mac
Pasta & white cheddar cheese mixed with spicy jerk pork topped with mixed cheddar cheese
Jerk Chicken with Rice & Gungo Peas
Traditional jerk spiced chicken drumettes, served over a bed of rice with gungo peas and a side of sweet jerk dipping sauce
Pacific Ocean- Japan
Japan is one of our favorite booths of the festival. It's one of the few stops that includes entertainment, and the food is really good as well!
The ribs are my favorite!
The new Chicken Gyoza were also a new favorite!
Spain is a great booth, as well! The tapas are all pretty good, and you can never go wrong with Sangria!
The charcuterie plate is a good size! And it's tasty!
The flank steak is an old favorite of ours.
We also really liked the cocktail "Porron con Garrabato"
The highly anticipated NEW booth of 2018! Hawaii! We love that SeaWorld added a new booth to the mix this year, and did a great job with the offerings!
The only downside to this experience was SW's poor planning.
I don't think they anticipated so much traffic to this booth on opening weekend because they ran out of a lot of stuff.
But, it just means we'll have to try some of the other options when we go back in the next few weeks.
SPAM fries with Red Chile-Garlic Dipping Sauce and Kalula Pork Slider with Grilled Pineapple Slaw
This was our first time trying SPAM and, honestly, it wasn't bad. Plus the dipping sauce was amazing! The pork slider was also very good. We'd get it again, for sure.
South Atlantic- Brazil
Admittedly, Brazil is not our favorite booth for food at the festival. But, there's just something about the area, decor, and entertainment that we can't help but love.
Choripan con Chimichurri- Basically Sausage on Bread with a side of sauce.
It wasn't great, but it was better without the bread.
The cheese and guava pastry! This one was good, we definitely need to try all of the pastries!
And there you have it!
A successful first trip to SeaWorld San Antonio's Seven Seas Food Festival!
The event runs on weekends from April 20-May 28, so you still have plenty of time to check it out!
Taste your way around the world and have a whale of a time!
HELLO EVERYBODY! It's felt like forever since we've written a blog post, and it feels SO good to be back! We took a pretty long hiatus there for a while, but now that theme park season is back in full swing we are more ready than ever to get RideorDine back up and operating.
Since we were gone for so long, we figured we should come back with a bang and post a trip report about one of the most unique and exciting parks we've been to: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park! Located in Glenwood Springs, CO, this mountain-top amusement park is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. The park features cavern and cave tours, numerous thrill rides, and (of course, our favorite) excellent food! We do have to warn you, though. If you're not a fan of heights or are prone to altitude sickness, you may need to skip this one. While we absolutely LOVED Glenwood Caverns and fully believe that everyone should experience it, we can also recognize that it is not for everyone. I mean, the park makes you sign a waiver before even entering, so that should tell you something. BUT, please don't let any of that discourage you. If you're unsure or are on the fence about this one, lean toward the side of DOING IT! Because it is absolutely worth it!
Since this park is located on top of a mountain, the first step when arriving is to take the Iron Mountain Tramway all the way up. And yes, I mean ALL. THE. WAY. UP! The ride feels like it lasts a lifetime which can be a bit nerve-racking, but if you focus on the amazing views and take fun pictures along the way like we did, you'll be okay!
Once you get to the top, you really get to begin the fun! The tramway is an attraction all its own, but it's nothing compared to some of the rides that this adventure park has to offer! The park offers wristband options which get you admission to the park via the tram, unlimited rides, and/or unlimited cave tours. We opted for the ride wristband since we were pressed for time when we were there, but we'd love to return and explore some of the caves eventually.
The first thing we did upon entering the park was head straight for the Alpine Coaster. This was my first time ever trying a coaster like this. I'd seen videos online, so I had an idea about it, but I was a bit nervous.
Of course, Parker was ready to go and excited, so I had no choice but to get ready! Although I was a bit scared at first, once I was out there, I had a blast! For anyone unfamiliar with an alpine coaster, you are strapped into a small car like the one above. You have controls on the side of your car that let you control your speed as you race down the track on the side of the mountain. I loved the fact that Parker and I got to ride in our own cars and control our own speed. (I didn't want to hold him back from going too fast, and I knew I definitely wanted to take it a bit slower). The views and scenery during this ride were so incredible, you almost forget that you're on a thrill ride at all. This was definitely one of our favorites!
Next we checked out the Soaring Eagle Zip Line. This one may look familiar to a lot of people since they feature it in many parks across the country. (Usually for an up-charge) Of course, once again, the views come into play here. Everything is prettier on top of a mountain!
One of the other extreme highlights of this park is the Giant Canyon Swing. If you can manage to keep from shutting your eyes on this ride, you'll get to enjoy absolutely breathtaking views. 1,300 feet up + 50 mph swing off the side of a mountain = BRAVERY.
Of course the park also has to offer a classic roller coaster. The Alpine Coaster is fun and different, but if traditional coasters are more your style then you can check out Cliffhanger Roller Coaster. Although, at 7,100 ft in elevation, this is technically the highest coaster in North America, so I'm not sure how "traditional" that really is! But either way, it's a fun little coaster!
Now, the attraction we're most excited to tell you about! We definitely saved the best for last on this one! Not even a year old yet, is Glenwood Cavern's newest and most thrilling ride to date: The Haunted Mine Drop! A first-of-its-kind drop tower that instead of taking riders up and dropping them back down to ground level, STARTS at ground level and drops them DOWN- underground! This is hands down the most terrifying ride either of us has ever ridden. Although, I will say, a lot of that terror came from the unknown. Now that we've done it and know what to expect, it may be a little less scary!
The theming of the entire ride was very well done. Walking through the queue, you feel like you've entered an old abandoned mine with characters and screens along the way keeping you engaged. Once you get to your actual seats, you're strapped in and greeted via screen by ghostly miners that set up the true story of the ride. This is the perfect distraction from the fact that the floor just slid out from under your feet. Before you know it, you're plunging underground into a mountain! The drop was terrifying because it's dark, cold, and a total mystery. We had no idea how far we were dropping, or what would be waiting for us at the bottom. We won't give away any of the details of the actual ride (since that's half the fun), but just know that this is definitely one of the COOLEST rides you will EVER experience.
After an adrenaline-pumping day of thrill rides, you're bound to work up quite an appetite. Luckily, in addition to a snack shack and popcorn wagon, Glenwood Caverns has a full-service restaurant that offers great meal options with a view. The Lookout Grille offers burgers, wraps, appetizers, and more. They also have a feature that they offer which changes depending on the day or week. When we were there they were offering a home-made green chili (which if they ever bring back, we highly recommend).
On top of it all, the staff of The Lookout Grille (and the entire park, honestly) were SO nice and friendly. They made you feel right at home and they were genuinely helpful. We loved them so much we took a photo of them!
The food itself was also pretty good. We can tell that the park is trying to make an effort to heighten the food and beverage experience. We spoke with Bob Stepniewski, the Food and Beverage Manager, while visiting and he shared some of the history and future plans of the park. Glenwood Caverns originally started as a lookout restaurant on top of the mountain, and eventually transitioned into the adventure park that it is today. Having that restaurant background, it only makes sense that the park offers more than the traditional "theme park food" experience. Having those changing features and home recipes as an option is a great example of how the park is trying to break the mold on the industry standard.
We loved our meals, and we wished we had more time to try more. Hopefully we can get some desserts next time, because I was definitely eyeing up that menu!
And there you have it! Our full review of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park! In case it wasn't obvious in our raving above, we LOVED this park! It was something totally different than any park we'd been to. It has exhilarating rides, an adorably friendly staff, and delicious food. And once again- THE VIEWS! If you find yourself in Colorado, definitely make a point to drive to Glenwood Springs for the day to enjoy this park. Just make sure to check their website ahead of time to make sure they're open and the attractions you're interested in are open as well. This is Colorado after all...on top of a mountain...weather definitely plays a huge role!
Let us know if you've ever been to Glenwood Caverns, and if not, do you think you could brave a park like this?
And don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram as well!
Parker and Brittany Ruhmel- Lovers of all things food and theme park related!