Tuesday, November 18, 2014

2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Wrap-up Part Two

In Part One of our Epcot's Food & Wine Festival wrap-up we went through the Discovery Passport pages covering the left side of The World Showcase. We'll continue on the the right side of World Showcase in this post. If you want to see good pictures of the food vs. Dave's awful photos check out The Disney Food Blog.

Items we had at Japan and Morocco were ok. The Gyoza was bland and did not come close to the goodness over at China. The Kefta Pocket might have been the better choice than the shrimp over at Morocco.

Belgium and Brazil were very popular booths. Holly enjoyed the Potato Leek waffle while Dave preferred the chocolate one. The beers offered at Belgium were a let-down since you can get them anywhere. Some non-generic Belgium beers would have been nice.

Flavors at the Brazil booth stood out. Great combinations. Of course we had overcooked fish and cold cheese bread.

France changed up the escargot this year. No more puff pastry. Instead they were served in a pie-crusty tart. Good, but not like before. The gratin was good, especially if you like mushrooms.

We skipped the Lobster Pie in Ireland since we've had it many times before and just needed a snack at the time we hit the booth. We went with the cheese. It was good - it was cheese.

We miss the chicken sausage from Canada. The beef was just  ok. We didn't get a medium-rare piece so it was a little tough and salty.

Our experience a few festivals ago with the griddle cheese was not very good. This time, things went just about the same. Just not good - and we got a cool piece. Greek food is just not for us.

But what is up our alley is pairing champagne with a Cronut (Croissant Doughnut). That was awesome!

The food at Puerto Rico had promise, but did not deliver. Blander than expected, but Holly loved the Mayo Ketchup served with the Frituras.

Last two:
Hawaii's Pork Slider was a repeater. The sweet and sour chutney was perfect for a pork sandwich. We skipped the beers here since we can get Kona at home.

In Scotland we really enjoyed the scallop. Finally, seafood prepared perfectly. We tried the barrel aged beer. It was good, but barrel aged beers tend to have too much of a liquor taste we don't look for in a beer.

Overall, the festival was fun. Having the Swan &Dolphin Food &Wine Classic to add-on to the weekend made the quick trip totally worth it. It may be a while before we make another trip down for the Food & Wine Festival because there is a large element of same stuff, different year. With Off-Kilter gone there's less of a reason to spend so much time wandering the Showcase. If you can time a favorite band with your visit that can change the whole way you experience the festival.

Bonus food: Our first night in town we stayed at The Animal Kingdom Lodge and dined at Jiko. This is one of our favorite restaurants. Holly stuck to our go-to items: wild boar tenderloin appetizer and the filet over mac and cheese. Dave also had the filet but went with the carrot soup with garlic ice cream for the appetizer. Everything was excellent as always!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Wrap-up Part One

While assembling this post we have determined he will never be a food photographer. When he actually remembered to take photos 1/2 of them were blurry or poorly lit, while the others are just meh. If you want to see photos of anything related to the festival, we (strongly) encourage you to check The Disney Food Blog for AJ's superior coverage.

One of our favorite things to do at the festival is to grab a free Festival Passport and collect all the stamps. To collect the stamps you need to visit each festival booth that lines The World Showcase; usually 24-27 of them. This year Disney threw in the existing counter service stops as well and gave them each one signature item. So now we have 34 stops. We considered this unfair and against the spirit of F&W. You do not need to buy anything to collect the stamps so we should stop complaining. After collecting all booth stamps you can get a completion stamp at the Festival Center.

We split the festival over two separate visits to WDW this year. The first visit we had items from about 1/3 of the booths and rounded out our passport in November. During the last trip we spent three afternoons/evenings at the festival and found we had more than enough time to hit all the booths. A good plan of attack for future trips would be to hit another theme park in the morning, then the festival in the afternoon and evening. Booth traffic was especially light during the last hour of park hours - perfect for dinner.

Eat to the Beat shows are fun and crowded. In September we had reserved seats for all three Hanson shows. In November we were scrambling to find two seats for 38 Special 25 minutes before show time. American Pavilion area was pretty busy during Boyz II Men (didn't bother for seats - listened to a few songs while sitting by the fountain).

It looks like the Flower and Garden Festival will see a return of the mini Food and Wine Festival.
Terra was the vegan booth - something we were not interested in. However, the Blackened Chick'n was one of the most flavorful items at the festival. The Paperboy red was like Greek wine: port with some water pouring in it - yuck!

We loved both the skewer and empanada at Patagonia. Dave actually called the empanada his favorite item (it was great as far as empanadas go).
New Zealand mussels were awesome. We really should have had a second helping. The bread crumbs put them over-the-top.

During the trip Dave had several iced coffees at Joffrey Coffee carts so that was the food item at all coffee carts that we tried.

Craft Beer was inside the closed Odyssey restaurant. They had a nice area set up with pub tables and smooth jazz playing in the background. Most beers here were easy to find in a grocery store so we didn't sample much. The muffuletta was ok, but the real winner was the snack mix.

Australia shrimp were good. Nice mix of everything.

The tacos in Mexico were really good, but not as good as the tacos at the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic (post to come).

We visited Farm Fresh many times. We got the hash twice - Great dish! This kiosk had two great beers - Uinta's Ba Ba Black and Duke's Cold Nose Brown Ale. Ba Ba is one of our favorites and Cold Nose has now joined that list.

We had China's Mongolian Beef twice and loved it (Dave got beyond the mayo). Black Pepper Shrimp was ok.

The Kimchi dog in South Korea was ok.

The beef in Africa wasn't as good as it was in other years - too salty. The bobotie was tasty and the wines were pretty good.  On our first visit the stamp was broken so a cast member signed our square.

We skipped the special items at The Refreshment Port and visits there were for Yuengling refills.

To try everything at Brewer's collection we shared two flights of four oz beers. One flight was the lighter beers and the other the darker beers. We enjoyed the darker flight.

Singapore's mahi had great flavor, we just got an overcooked portion.

The German bratwurst and pasta were our dinner after the marathon Hanson sets. We repeated the pasta another time because it was that good.

Poland - the sausage was good but the pierogi was similar to Mrs. T's.
In Italy we had the ravioli - they phoned it in.
Liberty Inn was a beer stop (who eats here?).

Five and Drum also a beer stop. We did try Hanson's Mmmhops. Ok for a Pale Ale, but we are not fans of the genre.

The Slider at Hops and Barley was decent and the we enjoyed the lobster pasta. Lots of pieces of lobster.

At Block and Hans we tried a wine for the fun of it. Nothing too exciting with the red blend.

That takes us 1/2 way around the World Showcase. We will follow up with the second half of the Festival Passport in another post. We'll close up with a quick review of The Hollywood Brown Derby patio in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

The patio is a separate seating area and small bar attached to The Brown Derby restaurant. A hostess will seat you. It seats maybe 30 or so people at a time. We just missed arriving at opening so no seats were available. We put our name on the list and timed it right to arrive back for a short table wait. The outdoor menu is more appetizer and sandwich focused, but you could order food from the inside menu. Since we were hitting the festival we split an order of waygu sliders. Excellent choice. We opted for two beef as opposed to one beef/one duck. Holly had the martini flight and Dave the Jack Diamond (a Manhattan). We look forward to future visits.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

2014 Des Moines Marathon Race Report and Video

Here's Holly's 2014 Des Moines Race Report​:

This race was on my radar for this year, but I never officially registered for it right away. It was just one week after the Hartford marathon and I have never run marathons one week apart. I did book a hotel back in March and decided I would wait until after Hartford to make the final decision. If you read my Hartford report you know I had some knee pain during that race. It was really bad after the race and even the next day. I was pretty sure Des Moines was out. Monday it felt better, much better. I then went to my miracle massage therapist. She worked on my IT band for an hour. Holy crap was that painful. As I was lying there I thought I must be crazy. I was in pain in Hartford. I am in pain now. This is all just so I can hopefully put myself through the pain of a marathon again on Sunday. I am an idiot.

I went for a shakeout run on Wednesday and everything felt good. I did it again on Thursday and it felt good again. I registered for the race. We were going to Iowa. We decided we would just drive over Saturday morning and come back Sunday after the race. We made the 5-hour drive and went right to the expo. It was a nice size expo. After the expo we went to the hotel and then we started our Des Moines beer tour. Dave will cover that at the end of the post. We had dinner at an Italian place (wasn't very good) and went to bed early.

Race day and the weather was perfect! Thank goodness! I could not have run another race in the rain. Our hotel was right by the start and we walked down and found a bunch of port o potties with no line! Dave left to go cheer and I got in the corral. The race started on a bridge and it was a fun start. Dave did a great job as usual of race chasing and saw me a ton of times. The course was beautiful with no "junk" miles. It was quite hilly from mile 2-10 or so. I was a bit worried with the hills in the beginning but I took my time and walked up the big ones and ran down the backside. I wasn’t feeling too bad during the first half and my pace was pretty good.

Dave gave me the GoPro to run with while I went through Drake stadium. I don’t know how anyone could run with this for an entire race. Around Mile 15 I started to tire and I think a lot of it was mental. I started doing math. Can I walk from here and finish under 6? I didn’t listen to myself and kept going. Dave would be at 18 and I told myself to get to him and then evaluate. My leg pain came back around mile 17. I took two Tylenol and by mile 19 everything felt ok. I kept up my 2:1 ratio but was slowing down a bit. Around Mile 23 I really was done running. I started doing 1:30/1:30. I was so happy to make the final turn and run up the bridge and cross the finish line. State 25!! I am halfway towards my goal of running a marathon in every state.

The Des Moines Marathon was a great event. Great organization, nice shirt and medal and a beautiful course. The five hour drive home was painful, but thanks to Dave for doing the whole drive and for always supporting me on this crazy adventure.

Dave's Comments:

For the most part this was an easy course to navigate. There were several miles I had no options for stop points because the course went through a few large parks. The Start Line and Mile Marker 1 were two blocks from each other. Des Moines streets were fairly close to a grid layout so getting around was easy, except for the end by the parks and river where there were a few road closures. I saw Holly seven times by the half marker and four times after that point. I found a decent parking spot near the finish that happened to be close to a bar with a patio. I had time for a quick beer and used my people markers and Find Friends app to make sure I would get to the finish line in time.

Snacking options were mostly limited to gas stations. I grabbed a few coffees along the way and ate snacks I brought with me - Sour Patch Kids and a bar of some sort.

As for local beer in the downtown area there are three breweries within a fairly straight mile walk. We lunched on Saturday at Court Avenue Brewing. Great sandwiches and really good beers. We moved onto Raccoon River and we were not too impressed by their offerings. Finally, we went to Exile Brewing and were quite impressed. Great spot (old warehouse done up nice), good approachable beers, and really nice tap handles.

Here's the video:

Friday, October 31, 2014

November Charity of the Month: Toys for Tots

Charity of the Month is the newest way Team Tizzel is helping to support some very worthy organizations. As part of this program, we will dedicate a post to a charity that we will sponsor through the month by donating Holly's training run money.

October: In October we sponsored Soles4Souls because our friend, and world record holder, Eddie Vega inspired us to do so. He's run a ton of marathons barefoot in order to raise awareness that so many people in the world still require the basics. We will be donating $120 plus a matching gift to Soles4Souls. You can still donate by following this link.

November's Charity:

You may be familiar with this one. The U.S. Marines organize a major toy drive to help bring smiles to needy children each Christmas. We're choosing Toys for Tots in November so the donated funds can go towards the 2014 (and 2015 by the time the matching gift kicks in) toy drive.

This one is simple: Either donate money online or drop an unwrapped toy into a bin at a participating location. Here's more about the program straight from their website:

U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program

MISSION: The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

GOAL: The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.

OBJECTIVES: The objectives of Toys for Tots are to help less fortunate children throughout the United States experience the joy of Christmas; to play an active role in the development of one of our nation’s most valuable resources – our children; to unite all members of local communities in a common cause for three months each year during the annual toy collection and distribution campaign; and to contribute to better communities in the future.

ACTIVITIES: The principal Toys for Tots activity which takes place each year is the collection and distribution of toys in the communities in which a Marine Corps Reserve Unit is located. In communities without a Reserve Unit, the campaign can be conducted by a Marine Corps League Detachment or group of men and women, generally veteran Marines, authorized by Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to conduct a local Toys for Tots campaign. Local Toys for Tots Campaign Coordinators conduct an array of activities throughout the year, which include golf tournaments, foot races, bicycle races and other voluntary events designed to increase interest in Toys for Tots, and concurrently generate toys and monetary donations.

Click the button below to donate:



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

2014 Hartford Marathon Race Report and Video

Here's Holly's report from the Hartford Marathon:

Butternut Squash Ravioli at Sorella
I was super excited for this race because I had heard really good things about the Hartford Marathon and we would be meeting up with some great friends for pre and post race fun. We arrived in Hartford Friday night and immediately hit the expo, even though we could have skipped it because I paid extra to have my bib and shirt mailed to me prior to the race. This is an excellent service and I wish more races offered this. We went to the expo because it was right next to the hotel and I wanted a souvenir pint glass. We met up with our friends and had a beer at a fun little bar (Vaughn's Public House) then went out for a great Italian dinner (Sorella). It was fun catching up with everyone. We were all excited for the race but worried about the forecast of rain for the race.

We woke up to a dry morning! Unfortunately that did not last. As soon as we stepped out of the hotel, the rain started and it didn’t let up for the entire race. It was also quite chilly, in the 40’s. I’ll just say that the conditions were completely miserable and I was ready to pull the plug at Mile 7. I was freezing and I didn’t know how I was going to be out there for another 4 hours. I sucked it up and kept going because I need this state for my 50 States Challenge and I didn’t want to waste the money we spent getting here. I felt pretty good except I was having issues with my knee/shin area on my left leg. I started having this issue the week after Utah and I think it is related to my ITB.

Thank goodness for our awesome spectators! Dave and Rich did a great job chasing Amanda and myself. I couldn’t believe they were standing out in the rain for the ENTIRE time. CRAZY!! I really appreciated it. They supplied me with Tylenol, oranges, and a banana. The best treat of all was a delicious beer around Mile 23. For how miserable the conditions were and the fact that my leg was bothering me, I still was able to run strong. I kept with my 2:1 ratio the entire race and managed to finish in 5:20. Pretty close to my Utah time. I think I really just wanted to be done.

After the race I got a really nice medal and a finisher's water bottle. We headed over to the beer tent. I missed the food tent, but I was freezing and just wanted a beer and to get back to the hotel for a super hot shower. The beer was great!

Nothing to see here officer
This was a well-organized race and had really nice extras. I think the course would have been great, but I have to admit I wasn’t really paying attention due to the conditions. I will say the spectators and volunteers were all great. I was surprised that they all were out there. Special thanks to the guy at Mile 20 that gave me a Yuengling. I only had two sips, but they were fantastic! Perhaps someday I will make the trek back to Hartford to give this one another try.

Dave's Comments:

Miserable weather-wise. Freezing most of the day and even got to the shivering point around noon. My gloves were soaked and not helping me out any. I wasn't too happy with my camera work as I was trying to keep it dry and didn't have much time to focus on settings by the time our runners reached us.

I did have a lot of fun teaching the art of Race Chase to my runner friend Rich (benched this race while recovering). The Hartford course map wasn't very well detailed and we had an adventure getting to what we thought was MM 6 (it was really 7.5).
What added some complexity into planning was chasing two runners going at different paces. Our friend Amanda was having an awesome day on the course and eventually finished several minutes in front of Holly. The officers didn't give great instructions on how to get back to downtown from MM 23 and we called upon iPhone lady to help us out. With a bit of a jog we made it to the finish line in time to see both runners go under the archy-thing.

Snacks weren't too plentiful on the course. Rich and I stopped at Dunkin Donuts for coffee and donuts before the start. At MM 7.5 we were by a Holiday Inn with free lobby coffee so I got us some refills. Around mile 20 we passed a liquor store and bought the MM 23 beers for the ladies. I would have killed for some east coast pizza but the place at MM 23 was still closed when we arrived there. The remaining snacks came from my backpack - an apple and Sour Patch Kids.

During the weekend we discovered that Hartford has embraced the craft beer movement and supports its local brewers. We found an abundant selection at The Tavern, Sorella had nice stuff on tap, City Steam Brewpub served a variety of their own beers, and Trumball Kitchen had some unique beer on tap (including Stone's Coffee Milk Stout).

Here's the video:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Epic Disney Weekend Day 3

The last three times we were in Disney Parks we were waking up early to get to race start lines. It was really nice to actually be able to sleep in until 7:15 each morning. Today's agenda wasn't as demanding as the previous day. Morning in the studios, afternoon in Epcot. Most of our morning would be occupied by Frozen Summer Fun and our evening by hitting the three Eat to the Beat Hanson sets.

Of course we had bus issues. "Let's walk to the main building". Along our way we were able to see buses for other parks go by, including one with no name listed. We decided we'd wait at the main building for a few minutes and get a cab if we had to. Luckily, that blank bus was actually heading to Disney's Hollywood Studios. Hooray! We got to the main gate with lots of time to spare and hold these stupid Olaf signs. After passing through the turnstiles we made our way towards the Sorcerer's Hat stage for the park's special opening show for Frozen Summer Fun. This involved some British guy on stage talking to Olaf on a Jumbotron while attempting to be funny.

After the fun we hit headliners - Rock & Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror, and Toy Story Mania. Fortunately Holly's gun was broken and we got a second ride around without waiting. Because of this Dave got his highest all-time score (213M - not great but great for him). The Frozen winter wonderland was still open (not the official name) as well as Wandering Oaken's store. The play area with the snow and ice skating rink were well done and a nice add-on unique activity.

We settled into a space on Hollywood Boulevard for the Frozen Processional. We had to guard the space with our lives since this was the last day of the parade and people were being pushy. The parade portion of the processional lasted about five minutes and featured some costumes and floats from the Magic Kingdom Christmas Parade. This was ok with us since we've never seen that parade live. After the princess and queen pass you sorta join a mass of humanity and shuffle up to the stage where the characters engage with the host and lead the crowd in a horrible rendition of "Let it Go". We skipped the sing-a-long show in the theatre since we were returning in November when that particular show will still be running.

Time to head to Epcot. We had just missed a boat and decided to wait for the next one. It took forever for another boat to arrive and took even longer for the boat to get just to the Swan. We decided we could race the boat to Epcot from there. Good news is we won. Bad news is we got real sweaty doing so (humid out there). We made our way to the Chase Cardholder Lounge in the American Adventure Pavilion. Chase credit card holders had access to a third floor lounge with AC, sodas, bathrooms, and a small cash bar. Disney Visa Cardholders could get wristbands for special seating to one concert and Illuminations fireworks. We obtained our second reserved seating for a Hanson set (the first one was obtained by booking a lunch package). We may have found a loophole and received reserved seating to the third show, but we didn't feel too bad about since we each have a Disney Visa Card account and could get two bands per card.

We booked our lunch package at Via Napoli. For $40/pp we could each have a soft drink, appetizer, main dish, and dessert. Way too much food but it drove us to try things other than pizza. The calamari appetizer was probably the best fried squid we've ever had! The meat/cheese plate was a nice small appetizer and easy to share. We split a pizza and chicken parmesan for our main courses and had gelato and zeppolis for dessert. Cocktails cost extra.

We walked off all the food by strolling the Japan Pavilion and getting beverages for the first show. Our dining package bands got us seats a few rows back in the second section, which were not undercover. It looked like there was going to be a chance the skies would open up on us, but we dodged that bullet!

Some of our friends thought we were kidding when we said we planned a Disney weekend around the Hanson Eat to the Beat shows, but we really did. Most people gave up on Hanson as a child novelty act after "Mmmbop". Dave stumbled on a Hanson video podcast a few years ago focusing on making an album and visiting South Africa ("Taking The Walk"). As adults they proved to be talented musicians and songwriters. You could classify their current music with groups like Train, Sister Hazel, Better than Ezra, etc. As an added bonus they have their own beer.

We saw all three sets and they exceeded our expectations. Friends we coaxed into watching the show were quite surprised at their talent level,  Hanson sang well and put the effort into making each set a show. During set one, some lady in the front section passed out. We got to see Disney in action and take her out in a stretcher. Impressive enough, Taylor Hanson stopped the show for a minute to ask the cast members if she was ok. Set two and three we were about four rows back thanks to the Chase Lounge access. There were a few repeat songs in the 35 minute sets but enough variety to keep it all interesting. The final song of the night was AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top".

When the last set ended it was almost time for the park to close. Luckily the Food & Wine booths were open until the last minute so we were able to get a sausage and schnitzel from the German booth just before they closed. We didn't bother with Illuminations and headed to Mouse Gears (the big store) for a last minute merchandise check before leaving the park. Luckily an Old Key West bus was at the stop waiting. We closed the evening spending some time at the little closet bar then walked back to our room. The next morning we got up early and headed home.

This trip proved you can really get quite a lot accomplished at WDW if you plan well and resign yourself to the fact that you will be exhausted.

Here's some video with more Frozen Summer Fun, Hanson, and general nonsense:

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Epic Disney Weekend Day 2

This was going to be one long day. There was a lot on the itinerary and Holly had been tweaking the Fastpass+ (attraction reservations made online) to optimize our day. Today's plan included:
  • Parisian Breakfast event in Epcot as part of Food & Wine Festival
  • Having our first experiences with the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and The Frozen characters in the Magic Kingdom
  • Seeing the new(ish) Magic Kingdom Parade
  • Seeing one of the last performances by our favorite Epcot band Off Kilter
  • Having dinner at The Brown Derby and seeing one of the last nights of the Frozen fireworks in Hollywood Studios
  • Going to the Top of the World Lounge for a drink before hitting Magic Kingdom again until 1am.
Let's see what happened….

Getting anywhere from the Old Key West is a challenge. Epcot wasn't too far so we decided to leave the room at 8am. No buses for Epcot came around so we hopped an Animal Kingdom bus to get to the lobby and call a cab. As soon as the cab came a bunch of buses were stacked up and of course one was for Epcot. Since we needed to go to World Showcase we had the cab take us to Beach Club and then we walked over to the International Gateway entrance. We made our reservation almost on time.

The Parisian Breakfast event was held in Chefs de France and cost $40/pp including tip and tax. Upon arrival we were each handed a mimosa and shown to our table which we shared with one other couple. We ordered coffee and hot cocoa from our waiter and then went to one of the four buffet stations. Lots of pastries, cheeses, jellies, etc. everything was very good and we tried everything at least once. The wait staff was very attentive and came around often enough to refill your beverages - including mimosas! Upon exiting the restaurant we were each given a gift bag with an odd assortment of items (check the video).
Time for the monorail trip to Magic Kingdom! We arrived a few minutes before our Princess Fastpass+ so we rode the carousel. Our wait to visit Anna and Elsa was less than 5 minutes. Standby people can wait three hours for the same experience. We also experienced the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It's a dark ride with some roller coaster elements. Not too thrilling, but the dark ride effects were amazing. We killed some time on Haunted Mansion, eating snacks from Aloha Isle, riding the TTA, etc. we staked out a parade location in Frontierland, then the five minute rain shower came. Not too bad, just enough to moisten and annoy us.

Unfortunately it was enough to cancel the parade that day. Off to Peter Pan for our Fastpass+ then leave the Magic Kingdom for more Monorail rides to Epcot.

The first thing we did in Epcot was to visit the Art of Disney Store. Love that place. Next, Dave had to go into Club Cool (Where you get free samples of Coca-Cola products from around the world) for a few cups of Inca Kola from Peru. Finally, we found a beer cart by The Land and grabbed some Yuenglings for the walk over to Canada. Food booth lines at this time of day looked rather busy. We avoided the temptation and headed over to the Off Kilter area. With the benches gone we had to sit on the ground to wait out the show. While there some folks brought over a good bye poster to sign.

To provide some background: Off Kilter is a band that played in the Canada Pavilion of Epcot for 17 years. They were recently axed along with several other performers to make way for new entertainment. We have spent a lot of time watching Off Kilter over the years and could not believe this was going to be our last show. Fortunately we got to share the moment with some friends we met through Team AllEars. Off Kilter came on stage - with both bagpipe and fiddle players and gave it their all like the professionals they are. The place was packed and everyone was singing along. We may have had a tear or two form in our eyes - especially when they sang "The Wild Rover". After the set the band hung out for photo opportuntities. Getting rid of Off Kilter will definitely cut down on the number of beers we purchase in Epcot.

Their set ended close to 6pm and we had 6:30 ressies in the Studios. We decided walking would be quicker plus there was a chance for a beverage at The Boardwalk. We were five minutes late, no big deal. We scored a nice table and had an excellent meal. Dave's tip: Always get the pork.

After dinner we stepped Into the Tune-In Lounge for some beverages then found our way to Hollywood Boulevard to get a good position for the fireworks. We were right in front of a Jumbotron installed by the tip board just for the Frozen Summer Fun. The show included a video Olaf with some clips from the film plus pictures taken around the park all day. Anna and Christof started the firework show then introduced Elsa to show off her ice powers. At times, it snowed on Hollywood Blvd. This was the first time we have seen fireworks at the Studios and they were great! After that we headed to the bonus late performance of Fantasmic!

At this point we decided to quit while we were ahead. It's far to The Contemporary and Magic Kingdom area. We decided to skip the park/Top of the World and go to our hotel bar and unwind. The Gurgling Suitcase was not a lounge, but a counter in a closet. Inside there was seating for about 8, but there were plenty of picnic tables outside. When Disney builds DVC hotels they seem to assume you don't want to have a nice place to sit and have a drink - that's what your room is for. When we were ready we took the half mile walk back to our room rather than wait for a stupid bus to come.

One more day left on this trip - including 3 sets from the band Hanson!

Here's some video from the day: