Posts Tagged by australia

Traveling From Australia for a Dopey 50th Birthday

When Andrew first contacted me and told me about the adventure he had planned for his 50th birthday, I was beyond excited to share his experience here on RAD.  Andrew and his family traveled halfway around the world as he took on the Dopey Challenge.  He might have recruited them to run a bit with him as well.

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How best might a runner celebrate a ‘big’ birthday and have the family join in as well?  The Dopey Challenge provided the answer!

Exactly one year ago (and the date of the 2014 WDW marathon) I set the challenge for me and my family: I’m going to run this event next year for my 50th birthday and you’re invited to come with me, but there’s a catch – you have to join me in at least one leg of the Challenge each!

And with that, baited by the idea of an overseas trip (and not really understanding the 3:30 am wake-up times!) the Dopey Challenge for 2015 became a year-long family adventure. From planning the rest of the trip, raising the funds, making the bookings – and training – it was a step up for each family member. But the running was where the big steps were required;

  • for the 14 year old who had never run longer than 10k to run a half,
  • the daughter who isn’t into running to run a 10k,
  • the 16 year old to get out of bed at 3:30am!,
  • the wife to go from 0 kilometers as a runner to a full marathon in exactly 12 months.

Now the other challenge was traveling half way round the world. From Australia to Orlando. From summer to winter. From time zone to who knows what time zone it is! We joked that jet lag might actually help!!

After a white Christmas we hit Orlando and thought it was just as cold! We stayed in a family room at the All Star Resort and it was just the right size and space. We bought 6 day tickets and had marathon Sunday ‘off’. The four events made an incredibly memorable birthday experience that lasted for four days!

The Family 5K was first – and it should have featured Elsa on the medal and not Pluto… it was a truly Frozen event!

These guys had great costumes …. And at least some warmth!

These guys had great costumes …. And at least some warmth!

Despite the cold we had great fun. We started in Corral A which helped get the race over with faster and we dressed up as Peter Pan and Captain Hook. We met a fellow runner whose surname was ‘Hook’ and he even asked to have a photo with us! We got lots of comments about how strange it was for Peter and Hook to be doing something together to which we assured them this was a once-off!

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How hard is it to order a drink around here!!

The 10K was a heat wave by comparison!

After a day at Hollywood Studios – and the last sighting of Mickey’s hat – we got up for the 10K.  Tinker Bell joined me this time and boy was she glad she didn’t have that costume on the day earlier!

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A highlight was the cheerers chanting “Pan and Tink! Pan and Tink!” That really lifted us over the finish line! Another highlight was my 16 year old son racing – and winning – his age group and coming 11th overall 🙂

Magic Kingdom here we come …..

The Half Marathon was a long day!   Not only because of the 3:30am start but because we started in Corral P, the last corral (because one of us didn’t have a qualifying time).

Again it was very cold but there was a lovely warm camaraderie in the very last group. Running with my two super guys was terrific fun as Captain America, Mr. Incredible and Hercules. Once the cold thawed out we got into the run but the lines for character photos were SO long by this stage we pushed on, most of the time on the grass to go around the walkers. No one complained though, they all just enjoyed the experience. For some pretty fast teenagers, this shows how the crowd experience at runDisney events is bigger than individuals.

Sharing my sons first official half marathons was a great feeling for a Dad!

Sharing my sons first official half marathons was a great feeling for a Dad!

Epcot here we come!

Epcot here we come!

Marathon day was amazing.

For this one I was worried about the crowds but the Disney organization really shined. We had so many character photo opportunities, often just running straight into the front of the line. Everything was well spaced and, compared to Corral P, the experience was much more pleasant.

I really enjoyed some of the different experiences – like the Speedway and Wide World of Sports (the track and the baseball ground).

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A light sprinkling of rain at Hollywood Studios was refreshing rather than wet (especially compared to the next day’s thunderstorm). My wife and I ran as Jasmine and Aladdin and two of our favorite photos were with the ‘Aladdin’ characters because of the over-the-top welcome we received!

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Taking along you own personal cheer squad really helps!

And then before you know it, Donald and Pluto greet you at the finish line and you’re wearing 6 medals around your neck and you’re officially “Dopey”. That last kilometer is really a bit of a blur!

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So how do you capture the four days (and year’s journey) in words? I got the kids to wear costumes! I captured it all with (maybe) a million photos! I got to run and experience their running ‘firsts’ as well. We wore medals and enjoyed the Parks together. I still can’t think of another experience where we could do all these things as a family together.  A great birthday overall with a ripper celebration dinner on marathon night at Downtown Disney.

I’ve been disappointed with some posts I’ve been following where runDisney is criticized for many things. Apparently some people think it’s possible to create a perfect Disney experience with 30,000 runners. The logistics were great, any question was answered happily, lots of goodies, great bling. In fact the next running event is going to be hard to match up to this one.

My key bits of advice:

  • Get a time registered or beware of ending up in Corral P. OK if you’re a walker or slow, but if you’re anything of a runner it makes a long hard slog of an event.
  • Make a dinner reservation for the night to make it pleasurable and not like some who wandered around fruitlessly.
  • Get the photo pack – and take in as many opportunities as you can.

The 51st birthday celebrations are going to seem a little low key compared to this!!

 

 

Coming From Australia to Get Her Coast to Coast! Part 2 – The Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

As if running the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in the pouring rain wasn’t enough after flying halfway across the world, Ashleigh took off to Disneyland later that week to run the Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon!  Here’s what it was like to run 2 half marathons in 1 week…

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After all the fun at Wine and Dine, we boarded a plane on Wednesday to LA in preparation for the Avengers Half Marathon. For me, the timing of Avengers was perfect. It meant I could fit in 2 runDisney races, and get my Coast to Coast in one 3 week holiday.

We had decided to stay at the Paradise Pier Hotel as I was a little nervous having never been to Disneyland before about getting around without a car. Although staying onsite was quite expensive in comparison to staying onsite at Disney World, I found the benefits of being able to walk everywhere to outweigh the cost factor (especially because it was our first time there). If we were to visit again I would probably choose to stay offsite, unless I was planning on doing a multi-day runDisney race with a few early mornings.

The expo was held at Disneyland Hotel, and I heard rumors that the Disneyland expos can get quite hectic, so even though the expo wasn’t scheduled to open until 10, my boyfriend and I went over at about 9 to get in line. THANK GOODNESS WE DID! There were a few different (long) lines- official merchandise, packet pick up, volunteers and Dooney and Bourke (I think). All the lines were set up in a downstairs area of the Disneyland Hotel- I want to say a carpark, but don’t quote me on that one. I originally got into the packet pickup line before my lovely boyfriend pointed out the long official merchandise line, so we made the very smart decision to move lines. We waited in line until about 9:40, when the line began moving into the expo area upstairs, and by about 10:15 we were in the merchandise area.

I had seen quite a few cute items posted on Facebook and Twitter, so first on the list was an ‘I smashed the Half’ Hulk tech shirt. I also picked up a few other bit and pieces- a hoodie, drink bottle, I did it shirt and a medal pin.

My expo haul! I love race expo shopping!

My expo haul! I love race expo shopping!

The official merchandise area was really hectic so I wasn’t keen to stay and browse. Check out had a line but it was very organized, and we were all done with official merchandise by about 11. We then went back down and I picked up my packet and Coast to Coast wristband (YAY!), and I was then directed to get my photo taken for my Coast to Coast medal.

The best bracelet I have ever been given! The Coast to Coast wristband!

The best bracelet I have ever been given! The Coast to Coast wristband!

The lines at packet pick up were super short and I was in line for less than a minute. We then went back up to the expo to pick up my shirt and I picked up a couple more things: a Sparkleskirt, a #teamsparkle visor and some GUs. Even though it was a lot of going backwards and forwards, getting the official merchandise first was a good choice for me, because I was desperate for the ‘I smashed the Half’ shirt. If you weren’t too fussed about merch you could probably do the expo in a much more organised fashion.

The cute Avengers background at the expo was the perfect photo opportunity!

The cute Avengers background at the expo was the perfect photo opportunity!

We had a relaxing day on Friday after the expo and chilled at the hotel pool, and on Saturday we headed to the park early and returned to the hotel around 4. I had the plan to go for a quick swim and spa to try and loosen up, and get an early night around 8:30. I fell asleep at 8:30, but woke up an hour later and couldn’t get back to sleep until past midnight. When the alarm went off at 3:30 I was sleepy but excited. I got dressed, having laid out all my clothes the night before and left the hotel around 4.

Flat Ashleigh/Captain America. I think I saw about 3000 Captain Americas racing!

Flat Ashleigh/Captain America

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I think I saw about 3000 Captain Americas racing!

I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going but everything was well signed and I ended up chatting with some other runners on the way. I was in my corral by about 4:30, and just sat down and enjoyed the entertainment. I was in corral F, and I had made sure to get a spot towards the front of the corral. As it turned out, corral E and F were released together, so I ended up being the middle when we were released. It was a little congested at first, but the crowds thinned pretty quickly. The start line was really well decorated, but no fireworks like at Wine and Dine

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The first 3 miles through Disney property were amazing. Lots of crowd support, lots going on and lots of character stops. I stopped for a quick photo with the Green Army men, plus a photo with Mickey and Minnie on Main Street, and a photo out the front of Disneyland in front of the station. These lines were all quite short, so I could justify waiting in them.

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The lines for the Avengers characters were a different story. Hawkeye, Black Widow and Captain America were all on course, but with such long lines (approx. 50 people) I couldn’t wait. I am not a 16min/mile runner, so I have some leeway for photo stops, but I couldn’t risk stopping for those photos so early in the race, with no idea exactly how long the lines would take. After we left Disney property it was the end of the photo opportunities with lines, so in retrospect I probably could have waited in line, but I didn’t know that until later.

Miles 3-8 through Anaheim were a little boring to be honest. While there were school bands and cheerleaders out along the way, there were also large stretches of nothing. The wind was brutal and there were points of the races were I couldn’t even look where I was going as the wind was blowing so much dirt into my eyes. I really struggled at this point of the race. Lots of the mile markers had been blown over and many were missing clocks or the Avengers artwork.

Mile 6 marker missing its clock. Funnily enough this was one of the less destroyed mile markers!

Mile 6 marker missing its clock. Funnily enough this was one of the less destroyed mile markers!

It wasn’t until I saw Angel Stadium that my morale picked up a little. Running around Angel Stadium was the fastest part of the course for me, there was lots to keep me distracted, lots of people cheering and I knew I was in the home stretch.

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Arriving at Angel Stadium I knew I was almost there!

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The crowd at Angel Stadium was awesome- just the pick me up I needed

Just past Angel Stadium there was a line of Service men and women and I high-fived as many as I could. I powered through the last few miles and I was relieved when we finally stepped back onto Disney property. I think I was told I had 1 mile to go for about 2.5 miles. At this point some of the mile markers had completely disappeared, and even though I was wearing my Garmin, it had been over by about 500m from the 6 mile mark, and then I had lost reception going under some bridges, so I had no idea how accurate it was. When I ran past Disneyland Hotel I knew I was almost there. I picked it up a notch and sprinted towards the finish line. I was so relieved to have crossed the finish line. It had been a really hard race for me.

I was directed to the Coast to Coast tent, where they looked up my bib number (cross checked me with my photo I presume) and I was handed my medal. They had 3 people on computers at the Coast to Coast tent, and although it would probably depend on when you finished, I personally didn’t have to wait at all. I walked up and was checked straight away. After I put on my medal, I stopped for lots of photos, got my food and headed back to the hotel to relax. After 2 weeks, 2 half marathons and 2 coasts I was ready to relax.

I headed to the parks later in the afternoon (after a shower and much needed nap) and showed off all 3 medals! I love the way cast members just come up to and congratulate you, it makes it such a special day.

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Showing off all my medals!

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I had an absolute blast running Disney and would recommend it to everyone. With the right training and a positive mindset any one can complete a half marathon. Thanks for reading, and hopefully I will see you at Marathon weekend (I’ll be doing Dopey)!

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Congratulations Ashleigh and we can’t wait to hear all about Dopey!!!

Coming From Australia to Get Her Coast to Coast! Part 1 – The Wine & Dine Half Marathon

I am SO excited about this two-part series!!  Ashleigh contacted me about doing a guest post on her runDisney experience and when I found out that she was traveling all the way from Australia to run both the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend AND the Avengers Half Marathon Weekend to complete the Coast to Coast Challenge, I couldn’t wait to hear all about it!!  Here’s Part 1 of Ashleigh’s adventure!

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Hello everybody! Sarah kindly asked if I would blog about my experience running Disney as an Australian having travelled over to the States for Wine and Dine and Avengers. I will be writing a two part series, talking about my trip as a whole and the excitement of Disney and the runDisney races.

Deciding to travel half way across the world for a couple of races was not as easy decision. I am not what you would call a natural runner, I am about as far from a natural runner as you can imagine. I began running in July 2011 when I signed up for a 5k with my mum in support of a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer.

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My mum and I after my first 5k!

After that I was hooked- I signed up for another 5k and another and another, then a 10k and finally a half marathon a year and a bit later. I found out about runDisney when I saw it mentioned on Facebook, and after doing some research I began following Jeff Galloway’s run-walk program, which is what gave me the confidence to sign up for more races after my first 5k. As someone who has always struggled with running and I had some pretty bad experiences with sport in school (not so supportive physical education teachers), the idea that someone who had run marathons at Olympic level was telling me it was okay to take short walk breaks when I ran was amazing.

So that brought me to the idea of runDisney- I liked everything it stood for, running for the fun of it, running not be the best but to be the best me and hello…Disney characters on course!?! Photo opportunities!?! Wear my medals around at the park the next day and have people stop and congratulate me!?! YES PLEASE!!!

I love living in Australia, but the running culture here is very different. We don’t have runDisney or Rock n Roll or Diva running events. Everything feels a lot more serious, and there are a lot less races. The fields are smaller, but the quality of runners is higher, so there are still quick finishing times, but at my home state of Victoria’s big half marathon (The Melbourne half marathon), I was at the back of the pack with a 2:41:57 finish.

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My first half marathon finish!

I mean right at the back, which is fine with me- but the idea of being able to run a race where there are other runners just like me- people running for fun and to better themselves even though they might not be the speediest runners, really appealed to me. So runDisney was officially on my radar. But how does one justify flights, accommodation and an international trip for a race? With great difficulty!

After finishing university and settling into work I got some hard news that a very dear friend had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It was really hard to wrap my head around the fact that a friend only a few years older than me had suddenly been told that he had an incurable disease that would essentially affect the rest of his life. The reasons I had chosen not to do runDisney were stupid. Money. Work. The difficulty in planning. They were not good reasons to miss out on something that I was so passionate about. Life is short and if we don’t take opportunities when they come up, we might end up missing out on them altogether.

So when registration opened for Wine and Dine 2014 I took the plunge- the race was on my birthday, and I took that as a sign. I followed that with registration for Avengers (and registration for Dopey but more on that another time). I was registered and I was over the moon- then came the training. I actually had my strongest training block ever, even though it was actually Dopey training, so I left Australia feeling excited, because I knew I was ready.

After a lot of flying-Maningrida-Darwin, Darwin-Melbourne, Melbourne-Sydney, Sydney-Dallas Fort Worth, Dallas Fort Worth- Orlando, I finally arrived at Walt Disney World with my boyfriend who joined me for the trip and acted as support crew for the runs. We hit up the parks everyday and when we went to the expo I went crazy!

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My expo purchases! A very successful day in my book!

KT tape sells for $30 a roll in Austrailia and was 2 for $30 at the expo. Dr Kool- doesn’t exist in Australia? Cindy shoes- tick. Goofy shoes-tick. Pins- tick. Tumbler- tick. I did it shirt- tick. Tech shirt- tick. You get the idea. I loved the energy at the expo, it was a little crazy but really well organized so even as a first time runDisney participant, I found it really easy to navigate my way around and find everything I needed.

When I saw my bib for the first time I couldn’t believe it. Me. Ashleigh. I was running in a runDisney race. It was amazing. On Saturday we woke up and went to Animal Kingdom for a few hours before returning to the room at about 2. I used this time to nap, relax, re read the participant info booklet, and double/triple/quadruple check I had everything ready for the race. I went with a simple wonder woman themed costume, and even though temps were set to be around 55-65 degrees, I opted to run in just a t-shirt and running skirt as I find I overheat very quickly and I didn’t want to be stripping off during the run.

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Simple Wonder Woman inspired costume. It was super comfy to run in!

I jumped on the bus at Port Orleans French Quarter at around 7, and I arrived at the race by about 7:20. When I arrived at the race I quickly jumped in line for a photo with Chef Mickey- which proved to be a smart choice because by the time I had my photo taken the line had about doubled (and I ended up being in line for approx ½ hour).

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Chef Mickey and I. I love this photo!

I decided to skip the other character photos and instead take some time to sit down and relax before the start. Some very friendly runners chatted with me while we waited for the corrals to open, and at about 9:00 I made my way into the corral.

Corral G! I was really happy with my corral placement- it was an excellent fit!

Corral G! I was really happy with my corral placement- it was an excellent fit!

A gentleman in the corral kindly gave me a garbage bag as it started to rain almost as soon as we stepped into the corral and this ended up continuing for almost the whole race. Thank you to that mystery man- it was VERY MUCH appreciated! As I stood at the start line watching the fireworks go off, I was overcome by a sense of gratefulness. I was grateful for everything, the ability to run, the chance to be there, the opportunities that I had allowed myself.

The start line was amazing!

The start line was amazing!

I stripped off my garbage bag and bounded off as soon the fireworks went off for my corral.

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The fireworks were even more amazing. I can’t think of a better way to start a race!

I had decided to run 4:1 intervals and stop for as many photo stops as I liked, because it is not everyday you get to run at Disney! I stopped at every mile marker for a selfie, and I stopped for photos with the fairies, Timone, the Animal Kingdom tree, Buzz and Woody, the Incredibles back drop, the Osbourne lights and Captain Jack Sparrow. I also saw photo ops (but didn’t stop) for King Louie, a Star Wars character (sorry I am not a big Star Wars fan) and Country Bears.

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I could be forgetting a couple, the race was a bit of a whirlwind. I heard the green army men yelling at people but I don’t remember seeing them, I kept thinking I was about to run past them but it never happened- they may have been on the other side of the road. As for the actual running part, it may have been raining, but I was having a ball. I run in km in Australia so I just imagined that every mile marker was a km marker, so it felt like the race was only 13km!

Of course I stopped with the Australian mile marker!

Of course I stopped with the Australian mile marker!

The course was really interesting as it began at ESPN, then through Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios before finishing in Epcot. As someone who wasn’t overly familiar with the Disney World property it was actually a great way to tour around and see the parks. Although there were some huge puddles, there were lots of cast members and volunteers pointing them out, the aid stations were well organized and the medical tents and staff were amazing. I really enjoyed running through the parks because there was just so much to look at. I honestly remembered feeling disappointed at the 6 mile mark because I was sad it was half way over. I was hi fiving cast members left, right and centre and I loved the way random runners would strike up conversation for a couple of minutes. While many people complained about the weather, nothing was going to rain on my parade on Saturday night!

Still feeling awesome at mile 9!

Still feeling awesome at mile 9!

As we ran along the Boardwalk I was just so excited to see that finish line, and once I saw Spaceship Earth, I knew I was almost there. As I had run so conservatively the whole race, I had heaps of gas left in the tank and basically sprinted toward Mickey, hi fived him and then leapt across the finish line. I was given a finishers medal, wrapped in a space blanket and lead down the chute. I had my photo taken before being given some food.

I was lucky enough to have my lovely boyfriend waiting in Epcot with dry clothes so I could skip Gear Check, and I skipped grabbing a drink because the lines were just too hectic. I am a super impatient person so having all those people around and lines barely moving equals a very grumpy Ashleigh. I decided it would be best for my sanity if I just skipped the drink and moved straight through to the after party where I could have some breathing room- and show off my awesome medal! I met my boyfriend at the Australia (of course!) pavilion in Epcot and changed into some nice dry clothes and got some photos with my medal.

Very happy to have my medal and be in dry clothes!

Very happy to have my medal and be in dry clothes!

We ended up finding Dopey and Snow White and Pinocchio- I was disappointed that I had just missed Donald (my favorite). I was starving so we went to Italy, Morocco and Brazil and that satisfied my post run hunger. We decided to leave at around 3:15, but unfortunately our bus had a huuuuge waiting line, so I think we waited around ½ hour before we managed to get on the bus, and by this time the rain had started to get heavier. We arrived back at French Quarter and I had a quick shower before settling into bed at around 4:15am.

A Disney race wouldn’t be complete without post race, park touring with my medal. I had heard some horror stories about people’s medals breaking and people losing the spinner middle from the medal, so I decided to play it safe and only wear the medal in photos. The rest of the day it was tucked safely into my pocket. Even though I was a little disappointed I couldn’t wear my medal, I would have been devastated if it had have broken, so I think I made a good choice to just use it for photo ops. I loved showing off my medals at the parks and it was awesome having total strangers come up to me and congratulate me!

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My Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend trip was a blast, and as I write this I am getting ready to race Avengers in California and get my coast to coast. I had an awesome experience running Disney and I am already planning my next runDisney trip!

Ash J

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Stay tuned for Part 2 of Ashleigh’s runDisney adventure at the Avengers Half Marathon coming up tomorrow!

Friday Feast: Epcot Food & Wine Favs

It’s no secret that Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival is my favorite time of year….seriously, my FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR!  How can you go wrong with food, drinks, friends and Disney?  You can’t.  Period.

Last weekend when I was in WDW for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend, I spent quite amount of time at the festival enjoying my old favorites and some awesome new dishes.  Come on, let’s look at some awesome food porn together…

Old Favorites

There are two dishes that I MUST always get or else my trip to Food & Wine will not be complete.  First is my all time favorite Lettuce Wrap with Roast Pork and Kimchi Slaw from South Korea.  Yum, Yum and Yum!  It’s such a simple dish, yet full of flavor and probably one of the healthiest dishes at the festival.

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Last year I became obsessed with the Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies from Australia.  I think I ate about six of them.  Well I was beyond happy to see that they hadn’t changed it this year and it was better than ever!

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New Discoveries

One thing I love about the Food & Wine Festival are all the new dishes that are introduced every year.  Executive Chef Jens Dahlmann takes great pride in creating innovative dishes and bringing the flavors of the world direct to Epcot.  I had the pleasure of meeting him and picking his brain a bit last weekend…what a treat!

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Chef Jens’ favorite dish of the festival and one that he takes the most pride in is the Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Onions, Avocado and Cilantro from Brazil.  This dish takes 3 days to make and really is delicious.  But I may be biased because pork belly is by far my favorite food ever!

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There was a new addition to the Canada booth this year and that was a Seared Rainbow Trout with Bacon, Frisee and Maple Minus 8 Vinaigrette.  Ever since this was announced I was looking forward to trying it.  Top something with bacon and I’m sold! As expected, this dish was wonderful and the bacon combined with the maple vinaigrette was the perfect salty, sweet combo.

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New Zealand added quite a few new dishes this year.  After Sarah from Eating WDW raved about the Gratinated Green Lip Mussels with Garlic and Herbs I had to give them a try, along with the Venison Sausage with Pickled Mushrooms, Baby Arugula and Black Currant Reduction that had caught my eye immediately.  Both were great, but that sausage was out of this world.  I am definitely going back for another one of those over Wine & Dine Weekend!

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A new addition to the festival this year was Scotland.  Being a Scotch lover, I couldn’t wait to try the beverages.  I was actually more excited about that than the food there. The Loch Lomond featuring Glenfiddich 12 year was delicious as expected and has the potential to be very dangerous.  The Glenfiddich Scotch Flight was a really fun way to experience the flavors of the different ages as you experience the 12, 15 and 18 year varieties.  It was a tough choice, but I think the 15 year won for me.  But the surprising favorite was the Innis & Gunn  Original.  Oh. My.  Chef Jens filled me in that this beer is matured in scotch barrels, giving it a very unique flavor.  I think this might be my favorite new beer!

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So the drinks held up to my expectations, but surprisingly the food in Scotland greatly surpassed them!  I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word haggis I’m instantly nauseous.  Too much offal for my taste.  But here they have Vegetarian Haggis with Neeps and Tatties translated to a Griddled Vegetable Cake with Rutabaga and Mashed Potatoes.  This was surprisingly delicious and I actually went back and got it a second time.  I was also surprised that I actually enjoyed the Seared Scottish Salmon with Cauliflower Puree, Watercress and Malt Vinaigrette considering I don’t like cooked salmon.  Although the highlight of the dish was the cauliflower puree…just give me a big plate of that please!  And then the dessert, Scottish Banoffee Tart with Bananas, Scottish Whisky Toffee, Walkers Shortbread Crumbles and Sweet Cream…chocolate, shortbread, bananas and whiskey, really?!  It’s like heaven on a plate!  Overall, Scotland NAILED IT!

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There are still a TON of new dishes I’m dying to try, so be sure I will be stuffing my face over Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend in November!  Is it November yet??

What are your Food & Wine favs??  What new items are you looking forward to trying??