Rainy Day Disney: Splitsville Bowling in Disney Springs

If you’re anything like the typical Disney vacation planner, you come here looking to max out your time in the parks and perhaps enjoy your resort a bit. For the cost of a trip to Walt Disney World, it’s often hard to justify going off the beaten path to some of the other on property offerings. Sometimes it’s nice to explore beyond the main gates, though – whether it’s because you’re a seasoned enough visitor that you want to do something different, or because you’re passing the time on a rainy day, or because you just want some down time with the family.

As locals we have the luxury of time here, so I’m trying to explore some of the things that we missed out on as vacationers—–and one of the spots that’s become a regular weekend hangout for us with the kids (especially as the rainy-ish season sets in!) is Splitsville in Disney Springs.

Splitsville Disney Springs 1

You can always find a crowd enjoying the outdoor tables by the bar here. It’s a pretty reliable place to take in the game or just take a load off for a bit. But inside you’ll find a fun little bowling alley with separate bars and a surprisingly great menu!

In fact, the thing that took us aback the most on our first visit was how good the food was…

Splitsville Disney Springs 11

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not a signature dining experience. But I was expecting the typical bowling alley pizza and such and it was SO much better. We were waiting a bit for a lane to bowl and were encouraged to have a seat at a table and order awhile. We had a pager that would go off for the lane when it was ready and could take our food with us then.

The current menu includes lots of apps (think sliders, loaded fries, nachos, edamame, and ahi tuna), pizzas, sushi, burgers, and proper entrees that include everything from fish n’ chips to ahi tuna to taco bowls. I got the Fiesta Chicken Bowl ($21…so still Disney prices here) and my husband got a burger ($17).

Splitsville Disney Springs 3

Splitsville Disney Springs 4

The kids got pizza and a hot dog and the hot dog was served New England style on a toasted bread bun.

As for the bowling, it’s a pretty chill setup with pricing by the person and (at least currently) available AP, DVC, and cast member discounts. They currently also honor Tables in Wonderland for food and alcohol.


The lanes don’t take over the building, but there are plenty of them upstairs and downstairs.


You can also have bumpers put up for the game if you’re bowling with littles (or just suck at it like me) and they even have the little ramps that the especially young (or bowling challenged) can use to launch their balls into the lane in a straight line.

And speaking of their bowling balls….look how precious…

Splitsville Disney Springs 9

All in all we’re giving two big thumbs up to Splitsville. It’s Disney prices but it’s also a good time when you want to do something a little more relaxed and a little different. And often when we go we just have the kids bowl while we relax, which makes for a much cheaper hour while we enjoy some food and a cocktail.

Have you been to Splitsville yet? What are your favorite things to do on a rainy day at Disney? (And enjoying shorter than usual lines at the parks is absolutely a good answer!!)

CastleRun: Top 7 Reasons to Run a runDisney 5K

If you’re anything like me and you’ve participated in a runDisney 5K, you have a little pang of “why why WHY did I sign up for this?” when your alarm goes off at around 2 a.m. so that you can go run 3.1 miles. There have been many mornings when I’ve reevaluated my life choices while I roll out of bed in the middle of the night to get ready, drive to a park, and then wait about 2 1/2 hours to run for 30 minutes, only to get home before anyone else in my household has even woken up. But I left this weekend’s Dark Side 5K with a little more clarity on why it makes a heck of a lot of sense to sign up for the Thursday/Friday 5K portion of any runDisney race weekend. So here are my top 7 reasons – one for waking up, one for each kilometer, and an extra one for good luck:

1. The Fanfare

Dark Side Race Weekend runDisney First Order Challenge Photopass Pic 1

If you are newer to running or otherwise are more comfortable with shorter race distances for any reason at all, you aren’t going to get a massive 5K experience anywhere quite like you will at a runDisney event. The pre-race scene is at least as festive as it is for the longer runs, the fireworks at the start are just as exciting, the music is just as energizing, and the course is at least as jam packed with characters and other PhotoPass photographers. The race is also untimed and includes a huge range of runners (and walkers!) – from complete novice to extremely experienced, so it’s one of the least intimidating race experiences you’ll find. And these days you get a proper medal for finishing – so you’ll leave with your bling, too.

ark Side Race Weekend runDisney First Order Challenge Medal Race Bling Storm Trooper

The down side is of course that this will basically ruin you for all other 5ks. But you probably won’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to run those, so it’s okay.

2. The Intimate Park Experience

Dark Side Race Weekend runDisney First Order Challenge Storm Troopers

The runDisney 5Ks are typically entirely within a given park – usually Epcot, sometimes Animal Kingdom. It will be interesting to see what the courses are going forward with the various new lands opening. I can only imagine a run through Toy Story Land or Galaxy’s Edge…. But even now the runs weave throughout a single park in an intimate way that you just don’t get with the longer runs. For Epcot 5Ks, you’ll circle world showcase in the dark with the countries lit, meander through future world with Spaceship Earth glowing, and exit back to the parking lot to finish. It’s a sort of wee hours, quiet park experience that you just can’t get any other way.

3. The Costumes!!

Most of us aren’t willing to run a half marathon in full costume – especially in the Florida heat. But you can knockout 3.1 miles in pretty much anything. This allows you to indulge in some pretty creative outfits and also makes for some of the best people watching of any runDisney event. Knock out your 5K in whatever you want and then you can indulge in comfortable gear for any other races you’re doing that weekend.

ark Side Race Weekend runDisney First Order Challenge Darth Vader 2

***Huge shout out to SuperNerdCosplay on Etsy for hooking me up with my Darth Vader gear this race!!***

4. Get your Body Clock Set Before the Weekend

I know, I know. Double edged sword since the wake ups really do catch up with you as any race weekend progresses, but if you have the luxury of getting to bed early enough throughout the course of a race weekend, it’s great to get yourself started on the crazy schedule on Friday. I typically force myself through the day without napping after finishing the 5K (if you work outside of the house you’re basically home in plenty of time to work a regular 9-5 and more) and then falling asleep early that evening is much easier, which makes waking up in the middle of the night for the 10K, half marathon, and (in January) full marathon a little…well, easier is probably too strong a word. But more natural.

5. Relax…and Knock Out the Characters before the Long Runs

(Caution: Egregious photo sharing ahead….)

Again, if you’re anything like me, your favorite part of a long run is the finish line. And so, if you’re anything like me, once you start you’re probably impatient to get there. For me, this often means that no matter what my plan is *before* the race, I rarely want to take the time to stop to wait in line for character pictures, etc., during a 10K, half marathon, or full marathon. And even if you tend not to mind stopping during those races, it’s nice to go into them with many of the character stops already in your pocket so that you can focus on running during the longer races – especially if the balloon ladies are an actual concern for you. Plus you aren’t nearly as sweaty, so you’re going to look better in the 5K pictures anyway. 😉

ark Side Race Weekend runDisney First Order Challenge Kylo Ren 2


ark Side Race Weekend runDisney First Order Challenge Boba Fett

Dark Side Race Weekend runDisney First Order Challenge BB8

ark Side Race Weekend runDisney First Order Challenge Phasma

Since the race is more relaxed and there is no time requirement, taking your time and enjoying the course is really just getting your money’s worth out of a runDisney 5K. And you can also grab the corral character pictures before or after the race, so that you go into the other race mornings not having to wait for the same characters in the much, much longer lines. Of course I can’t promise the same experience every time, but I showed up for the Dark Side 5K at about 3:15 a.m. and managed to grab every pre-race character shot in about 15 minutes. (Which was AMAZING.) And then I went on to get pretty much every character picture on the course so that I didn’t need them going into the 10K and half marathon.

ark Side Race Weekend runDisney First Order Challenge Jabba the Hut 2

ark Side Race Weekend runDisney First Order Challenge Chewbacca Chewie

Dark Side Race Weekend runDisney First Order Challenge Course Pic 2

6. Do It For the Bling.

We all know that the difference between a training run and a race is the bling. So go get yours. Other than the Dopey, which requires completing the 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon over the course of January’s marathon weekend, the runDisney race weekend challenges currently include only the 10K and half marathon – so you can complete the weekend’s challenge without participating in the Friday 5K. But do you really want to do all of that work and leave short one medal that you could have gotten for an extra 3.1 miles?? Because really. Four medals are better than three medals. That’s just basic math.


And as I mentioned above, if you are new to racing or otherwise more comfortable with shorter distances, do it somewhere that your efforts will be honored with proper bling.

7. The Snack Box.

You guys. They give you the snack box and a banana after the 5K. That’s 150% the number of snack boxes that you’d get just running the 10K and half. In case you need me to connect the dots for you, that’s 150% the cheddar cheese flavored pasteurized cheese snack. So you can basically disregard reasons 1-6 because commmmme to momma….

runDisney cheese dip


So there you have it. Seven good reasons to run through in your mind the next time your alarm goes off at 2 a.m. so that you can wait 4 hours to run 3 miles. 😉

Dark Side Race Weekend runDisney First Order Challenge Finisher Pic

Eat This: Fleur de Lys at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

I’ve shared before that I tend to overlook (or intentionally skip) the offerings at the various festivals’ France and Italy booths, as they tend to offer heavier foods that I don’t crave in the Florida heat. In part because of the cooler temperatures that we’ve had (on and off) so far this year, I’ve managed to try both menus early on and, while I was disappointed in Italy, I was thrilled with France and so excited to share my thoughts here.

As you’d expect, France’s Flower & Garden Festival booth, Fleur de Lys (see what they did there??), is located just outside and to the right of the France Pavilion in World Showcase, just after you cross the bridge from the U.K. pavilion. This year they are offering two savory dishes and one very sweet, along with a number of drinks.

  • Tarte à la Tomate Provençale: Provencal Tomato Tart with Sautéed Onions, Fresh Thyme, and Rosemary on a Flaky Pastry Crust ($5.50)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival France Pavilion Fleur de Lys Tarte a la Tomate Provencale

This was so simple and so good – fresh tomatoes and olives atop a light flaky crust. And I’m a sucker for rosemary and thyme. It was France’s take on pizza and it was wonderful. I’ll definitely be back for more…especially if I can dip it in the leftover sauce from this…

  • Confit de Canard aux Gnocchi à la Parisienne: Braised Duck Confit with Parisian Gnocchi ($5.75)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival France Pavilion Fleur de Lys Confit de Canard aux Gnocchi a la Parisienne

This is as delicious as it is ugly…. and I am *not* an indiscriminate fan of duck. It doesn’t take much for me to find it too greasy or fatty if it isn’t chosen or prepared well. This almost could have passed for a very rich chicken or turkey. And the gnocchi was far from the dense round type that you’d expect in Italian food. Instead is was a flat sort of dumpling. I cannot recommend this ugly little plate of food more strongly…especially if you are smart enough to get the tarte too and dip it in the leftover sauce.

  • Macaron au Chocolat en Sucette: Large Chocolate Macaron Lollipop (gluten free (?!)) ($4.95)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival France Pavilion Fleur de Lys Macaron au Chocolat en Sucette

You guys. Look how pretty!!

This was SO good. I’m not even a big sweet eater – and when I do have a dessert it’s rarely chocolate. Last year the French kitchen at Flower and Garden offered a raspberry macaron that got one bite from me before I had to pass it along to someone else because it was sweeter than I could take or enjoy. This is also very sweet but not nearly as overpowering. The macaron is light and filled with a rich, soft chocolate and then dipped in these pretty little balls of white and (milk?) chocolate that make the whole thing that much more fun and pretty. This might have been one of my favorite desserts at F&G so far.

  • La Vie en Rose Frozen Slush: Grey Goose Vodka L’Orange, St. Germain Liqueur, White and Red Cranberry Juice ($10.75)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival France Pavilion Fleur de Lys La Vie en Rose Frozen Slush

This thing is light and refreshing enough that I can forgive the obnoxious “glass”. The perfect thing for a hot day, especially when you have a macaron’s sweetness to cut. 😉

Have you eaten at Fleur de Lys yet? If you have, let me know what you thought!

Disney Parking: The Fly on the Wall

So yesterday Walt Disney World made the oh-so-earth-shattering announcement that resort guests will now generally be charged an overnight parking fee. The fine print can be found here – but the gist is that for reservations made on or after March 21 of this year, standard overnight parking for resort guests will cost $13/night for value resorts, $19/night for moderate resorts, and $24/night for deluxe resorts. There’s a carveout for DVC members staying in DVC deluxe villas for cash or points or staying elsewhere for points.

The Disney community was of course all a’flutter over the change and I’ve been among the people curious about the thinking behind it. Having slept on it, I think I’m now in a position to share with everyone my entirely fictional take on what the fly on the wall heard during this particular meeting.

fly on the wall.jpg

* * * * * * * * * *

Executive 1: Okay John. I know you said you had something important to talk about. I hope that’s true because I moved the yeti meeting AGAIN for this and that situation is starting to get ridiculous.

Executive 2: This is going to take about 5 minutes. Tops. You didn’t need to cancel anything.

E1: Meh. I already canceled it. Those guys are getting irritable. I don’t want to call them back again.

E2: Fair enough. Anyway, this will be quick. Basically tons of resorts are charging guests for overnight parking. Even Universal is doing it.

E1: You know we don’t care what they do.

E2: I know. I know. But stick with me here. I’ve been running the numbers and if we charged just $13 a night for value resorts, $19 a night for moderate resorts, and $24 a night for deluxe resorts….

E1: Wait – why in the world would it be tiered based on the resort level? It’s the same parking space.

E2: Oh. Um. I don’t know. That’s just how I ran the numbers.

E1: Gotcha. Carry on.

E2: So as I was saying, if we charged just $13 a night for value resorts, $19 a night for moderate resorts, and $24 a night for deluxe resorts…here look. I made a spreadsheet.

E1: John. You don’t need to make your own spreadsheets. We’ve talked about this. We have people for that. And they have the actual numbers.

E2: You know I love this stuff. Look!

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 10.49.06 AM

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 10.49.14 AM

*Yes. I mocked this up. Don’t judge me. I pulled the room numbers from Touring Plans and didn’t cross check them. If they’re a little off they’re still close enough. People with cars is a total guess for the sake of running some numbers. I reduced the number at DVC resorts drastically since members staying there are generally excluded from the new policy.

E2: We’d be making an extra $170K. EVERY NIGHT.

E1: You totally made up these numbers, John. And you’ve assumed 100% occupancy every night, which is close but a little high.

E2: Some of them. And yeah. But you get the idea. Oh and I excluded DVC members since there’s something in their contract that made it seem like we couldn’t increase the cost of their stays. Also those people kind of scare me when they’re angry.

E1: Good thinking. Have you run through how this is going to affect behavior otherwise?

E2: We’ve talked it through. With these numbers the effects should be minimal at most. The mega-fans that obsess over everything we do will yell for a minute. But they’re not going anywhere.

::muffled laughter::

E2: Anyway, like I was saying. No one is going to fly instead of drive because of this because the price of air is still way over this new charge. People are probably a little less likely to rent cars, but that’s a good thing because it keeps them using park transportation and on property. And we all know there’s a congestion problem with traffic and parking so even a few less cars is good.

E1: Fair enough. But this meshes strangely with other recent decisions – like when you talked me into offering perks like 60 day out FastPasses to guests at the good neighbor hotels. Are we trying to push guests off property?

E2: Have you tried to book a room on property lately??

::raucous laughter::

E1: True. Maybe the people complaining about room availability will like this.  I don’t know though. It still feels cheap to me. We’re not Spirit Airlines. We’re Disney. I don’t like the nickel and diming. Walt wouldn’t either.

E2: I know. I know. It’s a slippery slope. But this isn’t even going to hit the average family’s radar. It’ll show up as a charge on the bill at checkout. And everyone is doing it. People will complain for a few days and then this time next year people will have forgotten that this ever wasn’t our policy. Everyone is doing it. Let’s just rip the bandaid off and do it too. It’s a lot of money. And we’ve got a lot of projects. These road projects aren’t paying for themselves. And don’t get me started on Galaxy’s Edge.

E1: Enough said. Write it up for the website and let’s announce at noon next week. Leak it that morning to make sure that no one but the crazies threaten to storm the castle.

E2: Done and done.



******Our legal department (aka my paranoid alter ego) would like me to stress that I made this up completely and have absolutely no access or insight into the actual situation that led to this change. No harm was done to any flies (or DVC members) during the creation of this post.





Eat This (Maybe): Italy’s Primavera Kitchen at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival

Let’s start this review with some stark honesty:

Confession 1: True to my family heritage, I love Italian food – but I almost always skip Italy at the festivals because the last thing I want in the Florida sun is pasta and fried shrimp.

Confession 2: I ate this full slate awhile ago but was holding off on the review because I didn’t want to open reviews of my favorite festival of the year with a buzz kill.

All of this being said, let’s tear the bandaid off and get this done.

Italy’s Primavera Kitchen at Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival is, of course, located just across the promenade outside the Italy pavilion. While it usually takes me awhile to get to Italy’s festival booth, I was with some dear friends with food restrictions that limited options – so we hit Primavera Kitchen to get the allergy-friendly frittata that they offered and knocked out the rest of the menu at the same time.

So, for starters, I love the Bulls and miss them already and thank them for letting me hang and eat my face off with them after Princess race weekend.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Italy Primavera Kitchen Photopass

But if you’re reading this for nothing but the food review you’re probably getting annoyed at this point. So I’ll save you further scrolling and get to it.

Italy offers three savory dishes and one sweet, along with a variety of wines, sparkling options, and an Italian margarita that I still need to get my hands on.

  • Frittata di Asparagi: Asparagus Frittata, Mixed Greens, and Citrus Dressing ($7) (vegetarian) (gluten free)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Italy Primavera Kitchen Frittata di Asparagi

I confess that I don’t know the ingredients in this. But as far as I can tell, it’s eggs with asparagus in them with some lightly dressed greens on top. If you really, really want to pay $7 for a small amount of scrambled eggs, I highly recommend this. Otherwise, not so much. Let’s move on.

  • Fritto Misto: Crispy Shrimp, Zucchini, and Spicy Sauces ($8)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Italy Primavera Kitchen Fritto Misto

This was pretty bland. Small-ish fried shrimp and zucchini with lots of breading and a generous drizzle of the aptly named “spicy sauces”. It made me feel like I was eating actual calories in Disney World, which is not acceptable. Even if I liked it, I wouldn’t want to eat it in the hot sun…. If this picture makes you want to lick the screen, knock yourself out. Otherwise there are better places to spend your calories and money and then you can just get some firecracker shrimp at P.F. Changs after your trip.

  • Ravioli: Maine Lobster Ravioli with Vodka Sauce ($12)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Italy Primavera Kitchen Ravioli

These are quite tasty, as they should be for $12. (Yes, that’s $6 per ravioli….) They are nicely cooked and filled with lobster and topped with these funny little things that can only be described as lox-flavored boba balls. (If you don’t like the taste of smoked salmon, do NOT eat the balls.) I don’t really have any complaints here except that they were nothing extraordinary and they cost a fortune. If you’re craving ravioli, they will do the trick.

  • Panna Cotta al Melone: Cantaloupe Panna Cotta ($5.50) (vegetarian) (gluten free)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Italy Primavera Kitchen Panna Cotta al Melone

This was absolutely lovely. A soft, melon panna cotta with a pretty little square of white chocolate and a fresh raspberry. If you, like many, are aiming to sample at least one food item from each festival booth, the panna cotta should probably be your choice at Primavera Kitchen. It was refreshing and smooth and not overly sweet at all. A perfect dessert for a warm Florida afternoon.

  • Chianti ($8) and Prosecco ($9)

These are lovely. And help to wash down the bitter resentment of eating a $6 ravioli. Enjoy!

Eat This: Northern Bloom at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival

We’ve already raved about the Smokehouse at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival. Now it’s time to talk Northern Bloom – the second booth whose menu I was dying to tackle after I did a first flip through the festival passport.

Northern Bloom is Canada’s aptly named kitchen at this year’s festival, and is of course located just outside the Canada pavilion in World Showcase.

The menu looked absolutely amazing and the foods themselves did not disappoint. As usual, I took one for the team and ordered the full slate of options – and here are the results.

  • Seared Scallops with French Green Beans, Butter Potatoes, Brown-Butter Vinaigrette, and Applewood-smoked Bacon ($6.50) (gluten free)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Northern Bloom Seared Scallops

I dig a good scallop and Epcot’s various offerings throughout recent festivals have not disappointed. But here they up the ante because these scallops have been cavorting with BACON. I don’t know if it’s typical of this dish, but my order didn’t have much in the way of visible pieces of bacon in it. It was more like I was eating scallops that had been making out with bacon earlier in the day and still had that smell and taste all over them. They were SO GOOD. The beans were crisp and the potatoes were soaked in flavor and the scallops themselves were perfection. The brown butter vinaigrette was definitely strong, so if you aren’t a fan of vinegar this isn’t for you. But if you love this kind of flavor combo as much as I do I beg you to hit this booth up and not be bashful about licking the container clean. Waste not want not and all that.

  • Beef Tenderloin Tips, Mushroom Bordelaise Sauce, and Whipped Potatoes with Garden Vegetables ($6.75)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Northern Bloom Beef Tenderloin Tips

So this is a solid little dish without a lot of fanfare. If you’re craving a good stew-type dish (and who isn’t in Florida heat in the spring??) this will hit the spot. To be honest, after all of Epcot’s pureed root vegetable experimentation, I had to do a double take at actual mashed potatoes that lacked the soft creaminess of celery root or squash. No complaints here – just not a lot to say. If you’re traveling with a meat and potatoes kinda girl or guy, get them this. They’ll like it.

  • Griddled Maple Pound Cake with Warm Peach Compote and Sweet Corn Gelato ($4.50)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Northern Bloom Griddled Maple Pound Cake

This is grilled pound cake with warm, soft peaches, gelato, and popcorn. So, in short, it is delicious. Honestly the cake itself took a backseat to the peaches and gelato, which soaked into the cake quite nicely to make for a sloppy, delicious, and not entirely overly sweet dessert. The verdict was that all cake should be under warm fruit and corn ice cream (and popcorn if you’re feeling frisky).

  • Maple Popcorn Shake with Crown Royal Maple Whiskey ($11.75)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Northern Bloom Maple Popcorn Shake

This is basically a maple whiskey milkshake with popcorn floating on top. So you should get it and thank god that there are no calories in Disney World. Cheers and enjoy.

Eat This: The Smokehouse at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival

I’ve eaten far too much at Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, which has been underway since February 28 and runs through May 28, not to have shared any thoughts with the class. And so, without further ado, let’s kick things off with one of the booths that excited my taste buds the most going in: The Smokehouse Barbecue and Brews at the American Adventure.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Smokehouse

As usual, the American Adventure’s offerings are tucked away a bit to the right and in front of the U.S. pavilion in World Showcase. There are times when this causes me to miss their offerings for too long – but for this festival, between the enticing list and the unmistakable smell of the smoker at work as you pass the pavilion, I hit this booth early and will be returning often.

As I mentioned, you’ll find the Smokehouse kitchen to the right in front of the American Adventure pavilion, sitting beside a massive smoker and behind a topiary of everyone’s favorite deputy.


The Smokehouse offers three savory dishes and one (very) sweet, along with a healthy list of beers, wine, and spiked or unspiked frozen lemonade. It was early in the day, so I skipped the drinks and kicked things off with the full slate of food items.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival The Smokehouse American Adventure

  • Pulled Pig Slider with Coleslaw ($6.75)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival The Smokehouse American Adventure Pulled Pig Slider

This is a popular sandwich and for good reason. I saw more of these than I could count being handed to guests as I waited for my own food. For $6.75 you get a good sized sandwich on a soft roll piled high with meat and crisp red cabbage coleslaw. Hit with some barbecue sauce, it went down easy enough to go back for more. But I didn’t…because this was waiting for me:

  • Beef Brisket Burnt Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider with Garlic Sausage, Chorizo, Cheddar Fondue, and House-made Pickle ($7.25)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival The Smokehouse American Adventure Beef Brisket Burnt Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider

Hold onto your hats because in my (always humble) opinion, this is the thing to eat at Flower & Garden this year. I’m sitting here looking at the picture and calculating the minutes until World Showcase opens at 11 this morning. Eat it. And eat it often. The roll is soft and melds with the meat and sauces like butter. And while it’s melting in your mouth you can break to eat the crisp house-made pickle and sausage speared on top. The pickle is spiced perfection and the sausage is – excuse the ancient Greek reference – but if you’ve heard of Plato’s universal chair? This is the universal sausage. The Form of the Sausage, if you will. It’s everything you always wanted from a sausage but didn’t know it. Go eat some. But leave enough for me because I’m going back. As one should when a sandwich makes them pull out Contemporary Civilization class references.

  • Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalepeños ($6.50)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival The Smokehouse American Adventure Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash

Is it weird to feel sorry for a dish? Because after eating the last two items I kind of wanted to say “bless your heart” to this ugly little pile of meat and veggies. It’s not terrible – it’s the same meat that’s in the other dishes with some soft veggies and sauce and a little too much of a kick – but it just doesn’t measure up and feels almost like an afterthought. If you’re avoiding bread, I’d get one of the above sandwiches and toss the roll before I’d do this one. Sorry hash. You are my red-headed stepchild of the group….

  • Warm Chocolate Cake with Bourbon-salted Caramel Sauce and Spiced Pecans ($4) (Vegetarian)


I’m not enough of a sweet (especially chocolate) eater to give this a fair review. If you’re a lover of warm, moist chocolate cake, you’ll love this. The cake itself is soft and tastes fresh baked, the caramel sauce is heavenly, and the spiced pecans give it a little welcome texture. Not surprisingly, the taste and texture reminded me of a German chocolate cake. If this looks like it’d be up your alley, it won’t disappoint.