Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas Review

If asked "what is your favorite Disney property to stay at", I would think it is the same as being asked to pick a favorite child. They're all unique in their on way. Over the past 3 years, I have stayed at nearly every resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando. I am going to take time to do a few reviews on them.
Up first, the popular Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. This was the very first resort I ever stayed in as an adult, back in 2004. 13 years ago, I was not the same Disney fan as I am today but I remember being in awe of the property. It's fun going back many years later and having a true appreciation of the property and the fun quirks within. The very first thing you will see upon walking in the front doors is the Hippocampus Electrolier hanging from above. If you aren't familiar, a hippocampus is a creature from Greek mythology that is part horse, part fish. Of all the many times I've seen this chandelier, I've never noticed the horses were part fish!
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn has 372 rooms and Disney’s BoardWalk Villas has 280 units. The property is located alongside Crescent Lake, which backs into Epcot. It is the perfect place to stay if you want an easy walk to Epcot or Disney's Hollywood Studios (they have boat transportation as well). Along Crescent Lake, you will find a ton of things to do if you want a break from the parks.
Disney's BoardWalk is like stepping back in time. All of a sudden, you find yourself sitting in Atlantic City circa 1930 with an abundance of seaboard charm. The miniature carousel above is BoardWalk's version of a Grandfather clock. It goes off every hour, and revolves. The attention to detail is incredible. Speaking of carousels, the ever so creepy Nanny Chairs below were for those who didn't want to ride. I don't think you could pay me to sit on one of those chairs!
The grand lawn was recently redone with turf! I people watched for about 10 minutes and nearly every person touched the grass. It looked so real but so perfect that you had to touch it!
Disney’s BoardWalk has 9,000 SF of retail shopping including one of my favorite art shops on property, Wyland Galleries. There are also a ton of restaurants and entertainment include Flying Fish Café, Trattoria al Forno, AbracadaBar, Big River Grille and Brewing Works, ESPN Club, Atlantic Dance nightclub, Jellyrolls dueling piano bar and Ample Hills Creamery (ask for a sample!).
Disney's BoardWalk is one of the locations on property who rent Surrey Bikes. There are two, four and six people bikes that start at $25. One day, I will rent one of these while on property!
Guests staying on property can take advantage of the children’s activity center, health club (which is about to receive a huge makeover), tennis courts, and the infamous Luna Park, an enormous free-form pool area with a 200-foot water slide in the form of a classic wooden roller coaster.
On my most recent trip, I had the opportunity to stay in Disney’s BoardWalk Villas which is part of Disney Vacation Club. The Villas are available in studios and one, two, and three bedroom units.
We stayed in a one bedroom villa which had a King sized bed, a living room with a pullout sleeper sofa and a bathroom that had two entrances, perfect if you are entertaining and don't want your guests to see the bedroom.
Speaking of bathrooms, let's chat about this jacuzzi garden tub real quick!
There was a flat screen TV in both the bathroom and the living room.
The living room kept with the BoardWalk decor. It was very spacious and had plenty of seating.
All of the units offer kitchens, living areas and a variety of amenities. Having a full-sized kitchen was a huge perk. If you are staying at the BoardWalk Villas, you can take advantage of Disney grocery services.
Instead of having a balcony, we had a patio which was very large. If you go for run, you can easily access your room without going through the main resort (if you have someone in there still of course).
The view from our one bedroom overlooked the bridge which brings people from the lake to Hollywood Studios.
I also had the opportunity to check out a standard room in Disney BoardWalk Inn. This room had two queen beds and kept up with the BoardWalk decor.
I loved the artwork in this room!
Overall, I absolutely loved staying at Disney's BoardWalk. The location is perfect in my mind, being able to walk to Epcot, Hollywood Studios and of course all the amenities that the BoardWalk offers. The restaurants at the BoardWalk do not disappoint and the entertainment will not leave you board. Just be prepared for Jelly Rolls....it is very possible have a little too much fun there.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Giveaway - 5th Annual Tampa Bay Margarita Festival featuring Barenaked Ladies

Hi Tampa friends! This Saturday is the 5th Annual Tampa Bay Margarita Festival. I am excited to attend once again this year.  2017 will be full of delicious margaritas and amazing music including the headliner Barenaked Ladies! Click here for the entertainment lineup at the 2017 Margarita Festival.

GIVEAWAY
I am giving away a pair of General Admission tickets - click the photo below to be taken to my Instagram (@irun4wine)
1. Follow Me
2. Like the Photo
3. Tag a friend - for every friend you tag, you will gain an additional entry.

2017 Margarita Festival Details

There are multiple ways to enjoy the festival in 2017. Be sure to get your tickets in advance and follow along at Tampa Bay Margarita Festival's facebook page so you know where you can pick up wrist bands prior to the event.

Click here to purchase your Tampa Bay Margarita Festival tickets

General Admission
$20 advanced | $25 Regular | $30 at the door (if available)
Drinks available to purchase
In and out access to the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival to enjoy all the amenities, games, and entertainment, including headliner Barenaked Ladies.

Grand Marnier VIP Experience
$125 advanced | $150 Regular | $175 at the door (if available)
UNLIMITED MARGARITAS, Beer, Wine, and Water (within the VIP Grand Marnier Cantina Only) along with all day in and out access to the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival to enjoy all the amenities, games, and entertainment. All of the margaritas served in the Grand Marnier VIP Experience will feature Grand Marnier and Top Shelf Tequila. Also enjoy access to the VIP ONLY Restroom trailers.

Lunazul Stage View VIP Tickets
$150 Advanced | $175 Regular | $200 at the door (if available)
These tickets give you an amazing close up view of the Stage along with Unlimited Lunazul Margaritas, Beer, Wine, and Water (within the Stage View VIP Only) along with all day in and out access to the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival to enjoy all the amenities, games, and entertainment.
All of the margaritas served in the Stage View will feature Lunazul Tequila. Also enjoy access to the VIP ONLY Restroom trailers

V-VIP
$450 for two people Advanced | $500 for two people Regular
The VVIP Experience is designed for those who want to be guaranteed a private lounge seating area with great views of the stage AND access to UNLIMITED Margaritas (within the VVIP only). You will enjoy a private bar serving only the reserved seating area along with cocktail service.

VIP Cabana
$3,000 for 10 People
VIP Cabanas feature large, private, elevated cabana areas along with lounge furniture and misting systems. Also enjoy unlimited margarita bar service from your very own hostess/server. Also enjoy unlimited beer, wine, and water. Amenities include: Prime stage views from elevated cabana areas, Private security/special credentialed access only, Priority Check-in & Entry (Credentials delivered prior to event), VIP only restroom trailers, Corporate signage allowed at cabana for marketing/visibility, Private catering allowed (please inquire prior to event)

Grand Tequila Tasting Add-on $25 Early | $30 Regular
This ticket is NOT VALID for entry to the festival. You must purchase an additional entry ticket (either GA or VIP). This ticket gaines you entry to the Tequila Grand Tasting event within the festival from 2pm to 6pm only. This ticket includes a collectible Margarita Festival tasting glass and FIVE tequila tastings from over 30 tequilas available. Must present this ticket at tasting tent for entry.


NEW! RFID wristbands
This year, credit cards are automatically linked to the RFID wristbands where you don't have to top-up. Top up stations will be for cash!

2017 Tampa Bay Margarita Festival Margaritas and Drinks

Drinks are listed by their bar (in bold). Reference the 2017 Tampa Bay Margarita Festival Map above for their location.

Hornitos Frozen Frozen Classic Margarita | Frozen Mango Margarita | Frozen Strawberry Margarita | Frozen Classic Bucket | Frozen Mango Bucket | Frozen Strawberry Bucket

Hornitos Bar Hornito's Classic Margarita | Hornitos Flor Rita - Natalie's Fresh OJ | Hornitos Black Barrell Margarita | Hornitos Midori Sour Rita | Hornitos Cucumber Mint Rita | Sauza Pomegranate Margarita | Sauza Lemonade Margarita | Sauza Black Cherry Margarita

Tito's Handmade Vodka Bar
Tito-Rita | Water-Meli Rita | White Peach Rita

Milagro's Tequila Bar
Classic Miracle Margarita | Paloma Rita | Ancho Reyes Margarita (spicy) | Strawberry Kiwi Basil Margarita

BOLS LIQUEUR-Add Flavor to your Margarita Bar featuring Suerte Tequilla
Classic V.O.C Margarita | Azul Rita | Flower Rita | Watermelon Rita

Cazadores Tequila Bar
Classic Cazadores Margarita | Tiki Rita | Prickly Pear Margarita | Spicy Margarita

Cuervo Tequila Bar
Classic Traditional Margarita | Blood Orange Margarita - Natalie's Juice | Passion Fruit Margarita | Mango Jalapeno Margarita | Crisp Apple Margarita

Corona Beer
Corona | Corona Light | Modelo

Corona Find Your Beach Bar
Corona-Rita | Corona Light -Can

EXTREME MARGARITA BAR ft. Margaritaville Tequila
Margaritaville Mango Margarita | The Snake Charmer Rita w/Natalie's Fresh OJ | Pineapple Sriracha-Rita | Fire (Balls) to the Wall | Rita | Rosé- Rita | Rosé Wine by the Glass | Rosé Sparkling by the Can | Southern Twang Rita | Blood Orange Red Bull-Rita | Red Bull- Blood Orange Can | Red Bull Rita | Red Bull - Regular Can | Blue Chair Bay Rum Bar | Classic Blue Chair Rum-Rita | Spicy Cucumber Rum Rita | Melon Rum Rita

White Claw Bar
White Claw Grapefruit-Rita | White Claw Lime-Rita | White Claw Black Cherry-Rita | White Claw Grapefruit-Can Only | White Claw Lime-Can Only | White Claw Black Cherry-Can Only

Cabo Wabo Tequila Bakyard Bar
Cabo Rita | Mango Rita | Beer Rita | Cabo Mule

Zignum Mezcal Bar
Second AV Sling | Ginger Mezcalita

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dining at Trattoria al Forno - Disney's Boardwalk

I had the opportunity to dine at Trattoria al Forno located at Disney's Boardwalk a few weeks back while at the Capture the Bite photography workshop. If you read my review of Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival, you saw how much we stuffed our faces before heading to dinner. While my belly was far from rumbling, I was very excited to dine here for the first time! Also - this is a great spot for all my runDisney friends looking to carb-load prior to a race!
The first thing you see when you walk inside the entry way of Trattoria al Forno is a giant wall of wine. This is speaking my language! The extensive wine list found at Trattoria al Forno is 100% Italian, featuring over 60 offerings by the bottle and 25 wines by the glass.
The main restaurant has an open floor plan, including an open air kitchen with a fire burning oven. While I didn't get to try the Neapolitan pizza this time around, I will be back!
We were greeted with a glass of Prosecco and with that, Trattoria al Forno and I were instantly best friends.
We started off with a few of Trattoria al Forno's most popular appetizers served family style.  Everything we tried was great and I would order them again on my own.

Calamari Fritti (Crispy Pepperoncini, Balsamic Agrodolce)
Insalata Salad (House-pulled Mozzarella stretched daily in house, Tomatoes, Aged Balsamic)
Salumi Italiani (Assorted Charcuterie with Seasonal Accoutrements)
Formaggio Artigianale (Assorted Cheese, Olives, Marinated Vegetables, Grissini)
We were offered a variety of entrees to choose from. Being I had steak the night before, I went with the handmade Pasta alla Bolognese with braised short rib, smoked pork belly, tomatoes, mushrooms, pecorino romano. It was absolutely delicious and although not starving, I nearly finished it.
My dining neighbor Lara ordered the Parmigiana di Pollo AKA Chicken Parmesan, breaded chicken breast, pecorino romano, provolone, fresh Pasta topped with Sunday gravy. This is one of Trattoria al Forno’s staple dishes. The even have a chicken pounder machine in the back, allowing them to pound multiple pieces of chicken at one (although pounding chicken is one of my favorite things to do while stressed out). It was a very well executed Chicken Parm.
A few other meals from our table – The daily risotto, which was scallop and asparagus. I am not a fan of scallops but this risotto looked incredible.
Continuing around the table, the Oak-grilled Strip Steak was served, paired with fire-roasted potatoes, seasonal vegetables and a herb-scented beef butter. Yep, I said beef butter.
Later that night, we had the Epcot Dessert Party scheduled, so I was not expecting dessert at Trattoria. Of course that was ignorant thinking on my behalf, an Italian restaurant sending you home without dessert? I had a small bite of each: Zeppoli, Almond Sugar-coated Fried Dough with Dipping Sauces; Dark Chocolate Semolina Torta with Brachetto Raspberry Crema
But the homemade gelato stole my heart. On the menu, it is called Spoonful of Gelato - you get your choice of Hazelnut, Double Dark Chocolate, Strawberry-Basil, or Pistachio-Stracciatella and I couldn’t stop. The pistachio and hazelnut were crazy good. Although we were full and had a Dessert Party to attend, we ended up fighting over the gelato.

We had a really nice dinner at Trattoria al Forno. I would suggest it for a nice sit down dinner outside of the parks. Boardwalks proximity to Epcot makes it an easy place to hop over.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Behind The Seeds Tour at Epcot, Walt Disney World

During my trip to Walt Disney World for the Capture the Bite Photography Workshop, we were hosted at a Behind the Seeds Tour at The Land Pavilion. If you are familiar with The Land, this is where Soarin is housed, along with four green houses and a fish farm.
Behind the Seeds is a tour that I have wanted to do for a very long time. If you’ve been on the Living with the Land ride, you've likely seen guests on this tour.
This tour is held daily. starting at 10:30 am. It is a walking tour so be sure to wear comfortable shoes. I by no means have a green thumb (skipped a generation) but this tour still kept my attention the entire hour.
Prior to starting our tour, we had a continental breakfast in The Land. It was the first and probably only time I have ever seen this always busy venue completely empty! Of course everyone had to take a shot of this surreal scene.
Our tour guide was interning at Disney and was quite knowledgeable in the world of horticulture. She was very patient with us too – let me tell you, corralling 11 bloggers is not an easy job!
We started off learning how they use bugs as natural pesticides. If you know me, you know I had zero interest in this and mentally blacked it out, waiting to put some distance between myself and the creepy crawlers.
Next up was seeing how Disney uses hydroponics in their garden, a form of gardening using no soil. I was first introduced to this style of growing vegetables from my father in law. However, his hydroponic garden looked nothing like Disney’s!
We also encountered one of the largest squash I have ever seen.
We saw many vegetables and fruits that Disney uses at its onsite restaurants. In fact, we had edible flowers from here the night before during our dinner at Tiffin’s.
Throughout the tour, we saw scanners where you could get recipes served at Disney restaurants using the produce found at the greenhouse. This particular one was the Tomato and Cucumber Salad found at Sunshine Seasons Restaurant in Epcot!
Moving through, we learned how Disney uses molds to shape some of it’s vegetables. Mickey shaped cucumbers? That will surely help kids eat veggies! Mickey shaped pumpkins?
What I wouldn't give for one of these in October.
What would you make with a Nine Pound Lemon?
We walked through the fish farm and witnessed a variety of fish including some of the largest shrimp I have ever seen in my life. We even saw white catfish! I thought he was albino but this is a variety of the catfish. Other varieties seen were eels, tilapia, catfish and freshwater shrimp
One of my favorite parts of this tour was going to the spice garden. This is typically where you will start your boat cruise once you get inside the greenhouse. It’s always fascinated me on the boat ride, so being that close and personal to the garden itself made me geek out just a bit.
If you my spice cabinet, you would understand my fascination. My name is Megan and I have a spice problem. They played a little game with us, testing our noses with the ground spices. Having 11 food bloggers in one area was a bit funny. I got a few right! We also learned how truly expensive saffron is. I always hate buying it in the store as I can spend the same amount on a bottle of wine.
Overall, this is a great tour if you are into plants and gardening. I am by no means a green thumb but I found the entire experience fascinating. The Behind the Seeds tour is $25 a person and last about an hour long. Click here for more information.