Flashback Friday – Whispering Canyon Cafe – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort February 2011

February 2011, we went on holiday with my brother, his wife and daughter (then aged 8).  While there they wanted to revisit the Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort as they had previously stayed at the hotel and had really enjoyed it.

On arrival at the resort we checked in at the gatehouse and saw 2 deer to the side of our vehicle in the ‘wilderness’.

The Wilderness Lodge is as you would expect very rustic and full of wood.  Our table was ready and we were seated straight away.

The theme of the cafe is cowboys and indians – with teepee lights, rodeo pictures, servers dressed as cowboys.  Every so often they round the children up for hobby horse races round the restaurant – one of the things my niece had remembered and enjoyed.

The food was hearty and rustic – ribs, corn on the cob, chicken, prime rib.  Soda came in jars and my brother was delighted to see Sam Adams on the beer menu.

We had good service and it was a real experience, it wasn’t quiet!  Don’t go for a romantic couples dinner – this is not the location for that – there is no whispering at the Whispering Canyon Cafe.

Food & Wine Festival – Epcot

This year the Food & Wine Festival runs through to Monday 14 November.  Over the years the festival has been expanded and now features additional ‘happenings’ including Beverage Seminars, What’s Cookin’ with, Mix it, Make it, Celebrate it, Cheese seminar and Culinary Demonstrations in the Festival Centre plus Festival Dining Events in the World Showcase.

I think the majority of visitors attend to stroll around the world sampling the festival exclusive foods and wine.  There are an additional 38 marketplace stands as well as the usual eateries.  This year features 5 new marketplace stands including the Chocolate Studio and the Islands of the Caribbean – where we got a rather nice frozen mojito!

We also enjoy the Eat to the Beat series of concerts and have been lucky enough to catch Chaka Khan and Boyz II Men.

The only downside if there is any is that you may find your waistline increases and your spending money decreases – as there are a lot of tasty temptations along the way.

One of our favourite annual Disney events – we definitely recommend it

2 girls, 1 week in a holiday villa in Orlando – Disney Springs

On our last full vacation day, we headed to Disney Springs to check out the changes.

We parked in the multi-storey Orange car park – undercover so keeping the car cooler for our return, lots of spaces and good location into Disney Springs by the bowling at Splitsville and the new Coca Cola World.

Starting our visit on the terrace of Coca Cola World (3 storeys of Coke branded products) we took in the view and got our bearings.

We made our way through the new undercover shopping arcade – to the outside stores.  What an absolutely fabulous setting, fountains, palm trees with pristine shop fronts.  We had a quick browse in Kate Spade before making our way to The Boathouse for our lunch reservation.

Lunch at the Boathouse was everything we had hoped for – great service, good quality food, nice selection and the crafted cocktails were the best!

After lunch we made our way to the Disney and Lego stores before going back to the new stores including Under Armour, Sephora, Zara and Ugg.

Taking a mid afternoon break, we went to Sprinkles for a cupcake desert.  I had been looking forward to trying the cupcake ATM out, however, it was out of order.  We went in and order a cupcake sundae – a cupcake cut in half with a scoop of ice-cream in the middle. For us, the product didn’t live up to the hype – I’m not sure we would return – particularly as there is Ghirardelli which serves amazing ice creams.

All shopped out and appetites well and truly satisfied we headed home, just ahead of a very  nasty storm!

2 girls, 1 week in a holiday villa in Orlando

The following day we headed out on the US 27 for Bok Tower Gardens as we were interested to see the newly opened Hammock Hollow.

Located to the right of the restaurant area as you go in, it is nice ly tucked away so the tranquility around the Tower is not spoiled.

Hammock Hollow is amazing – including a snake shaped sandpit, water fountains to play in, a word garden, fairy gardent with dress up accessories and stage, hammocks, pine garden.  With lots of shade, seating and picnic areas I think it will be very popular.

We also took.a turn along the main walk, through the wild garden and bog garden stopping briefly at the window on the pond.

We then headed to the Blue Palmetto Cafe for a lovely wrap and some beer battered fries.

After lunch we had a leisurely stroll up to the Tower, feeding the fish on the way.

Another excellent visit – highly recommended

2 girls, 1 week in a holiday villa in Orlando

So after the disappointment of Sarasota and the Red Tide preventing us from visiting the beaches we were back on the road at 8.30am.

We decided to drive straight through to Celebration for a stroll around the lakes followed by lunch at Columbia.

There was a small tortoise on the walkway.  We also looked at the shops which are a bit disappointing and very touristy – OK to browse.

Lunch was amazing as usual – I tried something new a sauted  beef stew called Steak Saltedo – fantastic.  My friend chose a mojito  (comes with sugar cane) gazpacho and Steak with onions, plantain and rice.

Leaving room for a scoop of Kilwin’s – I tried the Georgia Peach which was apparently flavor of the day meaning I got 2 scoops for the price of 1!


Friday Feeling – Mall of Millenia

The Mall of Millenia in Orlando is an absolutely beautiful place to visit.  It is actually a beautiful building and the domed roof means it is also very light.  There is a light and airy feeling and always lots of space both to park and to browse.

With loads of parking, you will never struggle to park and if you are feeling really fancy you can even valet park.

When I have taken guests to the Mall they have described it as a leisurely experience with no overcrowding.  A great selection of Retail – from the best designers, jewellers and department stores.  There is also a fabulous selection of restaurants and bars.

Even the restrooms are nice – spotlessly clean, plenty of them and spacious.

If you are visiting during a holiday season e.g. Easter, Christmas it is always worth checking their website to see if there are any events on.  One year we were there to see Father Christmas arrive – it was amazing!  Even if you are not there for the actual events it is still worth visiting as the decorations are fantastic.

My favourite stores include Bloomingdales, Sephora, Tiffany’s, Kate Spade and Macys.  Other familiar names include Pandora, MAC, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister and GAP.  If you go to the website you can download a voucher for a savings booklet which you need to present at Guest Services (Millenia Concierge) on Level One at the Main Entrance.

To eat there are fast food offerings in the Orangerie including subs, wraps, vegetarian, chinese and chicken.  There is also a good selection of restaurants including The Capital Grille and The Cheesecake Factory.  My personal favourite is PF Chang’s China Bistro which often has a good happy hour and offers both lighter plates and lunch menus.

Located on Conroy Road just off Exit 78 of the I4.  To find out more please visit http://www.mallatmillenia.com.

Panera Bread

Panera Bread is a chain of restaurants through out the USA specialising in freshly baked breads, sandwiches, paninis, soups, salads and pastries.  The ethos of Panera Bread is that food should be clean.   No artificial colours, preservatives, sweeteners or flavours.  They have vegetarian, gluten conscious and protein rich options.

We tried it for the first time this week.  Chosen from their You Pick 2 menu. The ‘perfect pair for 500 calories or less’. With this menu you can combine any two items – 1/2 salad – 1/2 sandwich – cup of soup – 1/2 mac & cheese – 1 flatbread.  I chose a cup of creamy tomato soup (210 calories) and a 1/2 turkey breast sandwich (220 calories).  My husband chose the black bean soup (150 calories) and the Mediterranean quinoa salad (220 calories).  They were delicious and fresh.

The menu is very informative regarding ingredients and calorie values.  There is easy to find nutrition and allergy information.  There is also a Panera Kids menu featuring organic options.

You can avoid the line by ordering online for ‘rapid pick-up’ at http://www.panerabread.com 20160416_180316