Sunshine Villa Florida

Guide To Drinking Around The World At Epcot

drinking around the world

Walt Disney World is not just for kids and Epcot is arguably Disney’s best park for adults because of its cultural themes and the many options to eat and drink.

Since most of us aren’t able to spend thousands travelling the world at a moment’s notice to experience artisan cheese in Paris, or fine wine in Italy, Epcot’s World of Showcase offers us the next best thing.  The opportunity to sample alcoholic beverages and cuisine from around the world. Take a tour around the world sampling unique beers, wines and cocktails from many different Countries without having to leave North America!

The premise of drinking around the world is simple.  Epcot’s World of Showcase features several Countries to explore.  Choose to begin on the right at Canada, or the left in Mexico and work your way through all the Countries.

Tips:

Share drinks:      Drinking in moderation is key in maximizing fun.  Sharing will help avoid over-consumption and help you make it to the end of all the countries.

Be respectful:    Be mindful that Epcot is a family theme park.  Know your limits.

Explore the Pavilions: You’re limited to which attractions you can visit with a drink in hand so take the time to explore the beauty and uniqueness in each pavilion.

If you find your group may have trouble carrying their drinks purchase the handy Bottle Strap for $3.75 sold in Norway.

Let’s start our journey!

MEXICO:

La Cava Del carries 200+ tequilas and serves some excellent drinks like the Blood Orange Margarita, Avocado Margarita, Jalapeno Margarita and the Tequila flights.

If you were looking to blow all your money in one day, Pay $250 for a shot from a 250 year old tequila company; easily the most expensive drink in the park.

Cuervo 250 Anniversary, $248

NORWAY:

The Linie Aquavit Glacier Shot, $12.25 – referred to as “Satan’s Tears”, is an epic shot with a slight licorice flavor popular in Scandinavian countries.

Nordic Draft Beers, $9 – Choose from Aass Pilsner, Einstock White Ale and Einstock Toasted Porter.

Pear Cider, $9.75 – The only one found in Epcot.  For another caffeine fix, try the Viking Coffee, $10.50 – The coffee is flavored with Kamora Coffee Liqueur and Baileys Irish Cream.

CHINA:

The Tea Stand in China features some of the most unique beverages like the Mango Gingerita, Canto Loopy, Peach Snap! or Green Tea Plum Slush.  The Plum wine is also a fan favourite and cheaper than Japan at $5.  For a real treat, try the Tipsy Ducks in Love $8.95 made with Bourbon Whisky, Coffee, Black Tea, Cream & Chocolate Syrup.

GERMANY:

Well, it’s pretty obvious that this pavilion has its fair share of great beer. Be prepared for long lines at this one but if you head deeper into the pavilion the beers offered here typically include paten,  Altenmunster Oktoberfest, Lowenbrau, & Adeberger.  You can also enjoy some Jägermeister shots, $9.

ITALY:

Head to Via Napoli and enjoy a Moretti La Rosa beer and be sure to have a pizza to go with it – delicious!   You can also enjoy beer flights at Tutto Gusto and Italian wine like the Fior D’Arancio, a sweet & refreshing Moscato, $8.  Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar is a hidden gem and no reservations required.   Try the Villa Marzia Limoncello, $11 – A classic Italian cordial or the Belnero Banfi Sangiovese ’13 Glass, $20 – A pricey, bold red wine with deep flavors. When in Rome!

AMERICA:

Throughout the year, they promote different American craft beers from around the US.  Blue Point toasted lager, and the Blood Orange Wheat Ale at $8.75 each are good options.  Hard Cider is a rare find in Epcot and you can find McKenzie’s Black Cherry Hard Cider, $10 as well are your typical Bud Light and Yeungling.

JAPAN:

Some favourites here include plum wine a sweet and sour drink made with Japanese plums, shochu and sugar, $7, hot or cold sake and a Kirin Frozen Draft for $6.75

MOROCCO:

If you want beer, the Casa Beer is the only Moroccan beer offered at $7.99.  The mixed drinks and Sangria (especially the Sultan) are really good here.   If you need a caffeine fix, head over to the Tangerine Café where you can enjoy a coffee infused with liquor.

FRANCE:

Find your way toward the back of the pavilion to LES HALLES BOULANGERIE-PATISSERIE, a refreshing quick service eatery with air conditioned seating. They serve many delicious entrees and desserts, as well as a variety of drinks.

The Grand Marnier & Grey Goose Orange Slush, and the Grey Goose Citron Lemonade Slush are pretty good but expensive. These might be a good sharing option.  For wine, the Beaujolais Duboef, $6.90 – One of several French regional wines.

UNITED KINGDOM:

The UK Beer Cart is oddly named as it only offers three beer choices – Bass Ale Draft or Harp Lager Draft for $8.75 and Magner’s Pear Cider for $9.

There are several good beer options in the UK, including the Black and Tan, $9.75 but why not try their Leaping Leprecaun Coctail, $16.75 or a Johnnie Walker Blue or The Macallan 18yr, $41,  a 2 oz. pour from one of these classic scotch whiskies.

CANADA:

La Fin Du Monde is arguably the best beer in the world!  It has a score of 98 on Ratebeer.  For reference, that’s over double the best beer in Germany!  The Trois Pistoles & Éphémèreis also an excellent beer option.

Le Cellier Ice Wine Flight is $21, and features Neige Apple, Inniskillan Vidal and Chateau des Charmes Vidal wines.

We believe in 100% responsible drinking. Remember to drink in moderation and be courteous to fellow guests during your trip, as Walt Disney World is a family vacation destination.

All prices were calculated at time of writing and are subject to change. Availability may also vary.

Why Disney Is NOT The Happiest Place On Earth

why Disney is not the happiest place on earth

Why Disney World is NOT the happiest place on Earth

Screaming kids:  When children see their beloved characters in real life, they scream and cheer in delight because up until now, these characters were merely on pages in a book or on a TV screen. To see their little faces light up is just pure magic.  There are plenty of meet and greet opportunities around each park but be sure to plan ahead of your trip.

Too much competition:

With attractions like Toy Story Mania & Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger, your group’s competitive spirit is likely to shine!  Blast away aliens while trying to attain the highest score in your group!

You may come face to face with lions, tigers, crocodiles, and maybe even a T-rex!

Animal Kingdom is a zoological theme park and is the largest of the 4 parks at Walt Disney World. It’s filled with live animals like Sumatran Tigers and a safari attraction that takes passengers through a 110 acre area where you can encounter elephants, giraffes and lions roaming around.

Toystory Land is the newest section of Hollywood Studios and features attractions from the popular Toy Story movies. While there are no real animals found here, you will find yourself surrounded by giant sized versions of the beloved characters like Woody, Jesse & Rex that makes you feel like you’re in the movie itself!

You’ll likely cheat on your diet:

Walt Disney World offers amazing cuisine and treats around all its parks and resorts making it challenging for those who are trying to eat healthier.  Like this refreshingly delicious Lost Princess Cone with purple cone

A giant Mickey Celebration Donut in strawberry, chocolate or vanilla.

mickey donut

A Tangled Éclair filled with dulce de leche, topped with white chocolate cream, sugar flowers and a chocolate frying pan.

Don’t fret, there are plenty of healthier options. Like The Electric Umbrella in Epcot with fresh salads, sandwiches and offers gluten/wheat,milk/dairy, egg, soy, peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish free choices. Additionally, it’s peanut/nut safe!

The 50’s Prime Time Café located in Hollywood Studios also features an allergy friendly menu and some good old comfort food like pot roast, soup, pork chops, meatloaf with veggies and more.

Loud Fireworks late at night

Disney’s fireworks is nothing short of mesmerizing. Their current show, “Happily Ever After” is a spectacular show that showcases classic and contemporary Disney stories at Magic Kingdom nightly.  Watch in awe as Cinderella’s Castle becomes the story backdrop by magically transforming through amazing state of the art projection technology.  It’s a dazzling journey of lights, color and song that will warm your heart and take you right into Disney’s animated films.

Unreliable Elevators:  You may want to reconsider accommodations at the Hollywood Tower Hotel.   It reportedly has serious issues with its elevators like plummeting multiple stories! Scary!

Hollywood Tower of Terror is a dark, accelerated drop tower ride located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The attraction is inspired by the television series “The Twilight Zone” and takes place in the fictional Hollywood Tower Hotel. At 199 feet, it’s the second tallest attraction at Walt Disney World.

You won’t want to leave:

Kidding aside, Walt Disney World really is the happiest place on Earth (at least I think so!). But all good things must come to an end unfortunately and you may suffer from a case of the post Disney blues.  You can help combat the blues by reflecting on the magical time you had by sharing some of your photos, make a scrapbook, or watch a Disney movie to get you back into Disney zone.  Of course you can also book another Disney trip and start counting down!

*Images courtesy of Disney Food Blog

How Safe Is Your Sunscreen?

Orlando.  The sunshine State.  This means that people load up on the sunscreen to protect their skin from the sun’s beaming rays.  But are we actually causing more harm than good?  I recently came across an article that opened my eyes to sunscreen. Here’s what you need to know.

There are two main kinds of sunscreen: chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreen uses chemicals to block UVA and UVB rays, while mineral sunscreen uses physical barriers in the form of minerals like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (these are naturally broad spectrum).

Chemicals used in conventional sunscreen include the following:

  • oxybenzone
  • avobenzone
  • octisalate
  • octocrylene
  • homosalate
  • octinoxate
  • ethylhexyl salicylate

Some studies suggest that these harmful chemicals can be absorbed into your bloodstream. However, some mineral sunscreens also contain chemical sunscreen ingredients, so it’s important to check the active ingredients.

Dangers of Chemical Sunscreens

These chemical sunscreen ingredients aren’t harmless either. They affect the body and the environment in serious ways.   In the 1970s, the FDA grandfathered in many sunscreen chemicals because they were already in use. These chemicals have never been evaluated for safety.  According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), oxybenzone is the most concerning of the chemicals in conventional sunscreen. Oxybenzone can easily pass through the skin and into the body. It was found in 96 percent of the adult population and can cause allergic reactions, especially on sensitive skin. It was also found to be a weak estrogen and to have potent anti-androgenic effects (block hormones like testosterone).

Environmental Impact

Chemical sunscreen use also affects the environment. People use sunscreen before swimming and much of it is washed off into the water.  Worldwide, every year, up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen are deposited on coral reefs. Many of these blockers are composed of chemicals listed above that are contaminants to the marine environment. These components are especially toxic to juvenile corals, as they increase their vulnerability to bleaching, affect their DNA and alter their development process. That is why the products that contain Oxybenzone and other chemical products represent a danger for the conservation of the reef and threaten the resilience of corals in the face of climate change and other effects caused by different human activities.

Concentrations of oxybenzone as low as 62 parts per trillion caused damaging effects. For perspective, the researchers explain that this is the equivalent of one drop in 6.5 Olympic swimming pools. Clearly, not much sunscreen is needed to cause environmental problems.

Oxybenzone is also toxic to algae, sea urchins, fish, and mammals.

According to MarineSafe.com, oxybenzone can have the following effects:

  • Inhibits embryonic development in sea urchins.
  • Causes gender shifts in fish (male fish take on female characteristics and female fish have reduced ability to produce offspring).
  • Potentially acts as a mutagen and exhibits carcinogenic activity in mammals.

If you’re looking for a mineral sunscreen that’s truly safe, check the ingredients. If any of the above chemicals are listed, don’t buy it. Additionally, if it’s made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide make sure it is non-nano. This means that the particles are not nano-sized (i.e., able to penetrate into the body).

The EWG lists some mineral sunscreens that are safe:

Thankfully we now have many safe, natural sunscreens to choose from.

You can read the full article with sources here.

What To Do For Mothers Day In Orlando

mothers day in orlando

Treat Mom to something special on Mother’s Day.

 Are you spending Mother’s Day in Orlando?  We’ve got some suggestions that will spoil your mom!

 The Silhouette Portraits

For a unique & sentimental souvenir, the Silhouette Portraits cart in Disney Springs Marketplace offer gorgeous framed silhouettes. You and mom can pose for an artist who cuts a portrait of your profile from plain black paper, resulting in a shadow-like image.  Pricing starts from $12 and you can have up to a family of 4.  A truly memorable souvenir.

Brunch

Here are a few restaurants offering brunch a lovely in and around the Orlando area:

Island Grove
Island Grove Winery at Formosa Gardens have a Mother’s Day Brunch featuring scones, crepes, eggs benedict, chocolate dipped strawberries and bottomless Mimosas! The cost is $39.95

island grove brunch

STK is offering a lovely Mother’s Day Brunch 10:30-3:00 on May 12th. featuring Brunch Classics, Raw Bar, Dessert Playground, DJ, Vie Vite Rosé Garden, Flower Wall & More! Cost is $79 and includes cocktails.

STK brunch menu

Maria & Enzo’s a signature mother’s day brunch featuring a spread of classic Italian dishes and fan favourites including Brioche French Toast, a live-action carving station, and a chocolate fountain. Cost is $45

maria and enzos brunch

Disney Character Couture

Mom deserves to be treated like a Princess, so why not give her a Disney Character Couture Package for Mother’s Day. Disney stylists will transform hair, makeup and nails into designs inspired by classic characters.

Character Couture Packages:

  • Timeless Transformation– Character Inspired Hair, Makeup & Nails – Adults $120, Children 4-12 $90
  • StoryBook– Character Inspired Hair – Adults $80, Children 4-12 $50
  • Magical Makeover– Character Inspired Hair & Makeup – Adults $105, Children 4-12 $75

Here is a list of the Character Couture Locations:

  • Ivy Trellis Salon – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
  • La Vida Salon – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Ship Shape Salon – Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
  • Salon by the Springs – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Shopping

What mom wouldn’t enjoy a day of Shopping?  Lucky for mom, there are tons of fabulous shopping in the Orlando area!

Disney Springs

Disney Springs has come a long way since it was Downtown Disney. Still home to old favourites but with the addition of a great shopping experience. Shop at stores like Alex & Ani, Pandora, Lily Pulitzer, Zara, Anthropologie, Coach, Mac, Ugg, Sephora, and more!

Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets 

You are bound to find great deals here at rock bottom prices at stores like Armani, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Kate Spade, Diesel, Adidas, Nike, Gap, Lacoste and more!

Florida Mall

Here you can shop at stores like Adidas, Aeropostale, American Girl, Banana Republic, Bath & Body Works, BCBG, Billabong, Disney Store, Forever 21 and is also home to Carlo’s Bake Shop from Cake Boss.

The Mall at Millenia

Shop at stores like American Eagle, Holllister, Vans, Foot Locker, Under Armour Abercrombie as well as high end shops like Jimmy Choo, Versace, Chanel, Gucci, Prada, & Hermes

Cake Decorating Experience at Amorettes

Decorate your very own culinary masterpiece — in the form of a Signature Mickey Dome Cake while under the instruction of the talented Pastry Chefs at Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs. It’s a hands-on class where mom’s walk away with a Signature Mickey Dome Cake that they have personally decorated. The 90-minute small group session is limited to just 14 guests, allowing for interaction and conversation with the Pastry Chefs. The experience takes place in Amorette’s Show Kitchen prior to the shop’s opening, and includes beverage refreshments (with alcoholic options such as mimosas and Bellini’s for guests 21-and-over).

Sundays through Thursdays at 9:00 am. 90 minutes

Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday classes decorate a Classic Mickey Dome Cake
Monday and Wednesday classes decorate the Artist’s Current Seasonal Mickey Cake

The cost for two people, including the cake and beverages during class, is $149 plus tax.

Book here

Happy Mother’s Day!

*Times and prices subject to change.

Cruise Ship Watching – Beyond The Parks Edition

As you know we like to feature our Beyond the Parks articles which introduces you to Orlando area activities that are not theme parks.  While fun, Orlando is so much more than that.  Today we talk about Cruise Ship Watching in Port Canaveral, Florida.

If you’re visiting Orlando and want something different to do than definitely consider Cruise Ship watching. It’s an experience filled with excitement, amazement and tons of fun!  Only an hour from Orlando, Port Canaveral is a hub for Cruise Ships such as Disney Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruises and seasonally, Norwegian Cruise Line.

Take your pick of one of these 3 delicious restaurants where you can enjoy some delicious cuisine while watching the ships cruise on by.

Fishlips Waterfront Bar & Gril

Their menu features a variety of delicious seafood options like, Conch fritters, tuna, shark bites, mussels, oysters and much more.  They also feature live musical entertainment every weekend.

Grills Seafood Deck:

Grills was built right on the water’s edge of Sunrise Marina and serves Breakfast Lunch Dinner & Dessert in an authentic Florida Style. The feature a unique Lionfish menu which contrary to popular belief is not poisonous, but a delicious, white flakey fish. They offer a vast variety of fresh seafood, sandwiches and sushi.

If you plan to visit either one of these restaurants on a Saturday or Sunday, the best time to arrive is around 3:30pm. Though the ships don’t begin their parade out to sea until approximately 4:30pm, to get an outdoor table next to the water, an early arrival is important and will increase your chances to snag a good outdoor.

Seafood Atlantic

A smaller and quieter restaurant/seafood market, Seafood Atlantic gives you the same views as Grills and Fishlips but with fewer people and fabulous fresh fish. You can even buy fresh fish or seafood at the little market and pack it in ice for your drive home.

Jetty Park

Jetty Park is one of the most sought after points of interest in Brevard County.  A 35 acre park at your fingertips offering a variety of activities .  You will have to pay an entrance fee ($15 for non-resident), but it’s well worth it. Once inside the park, follow the winding path until you get to the parking area. Park, grab your camera/smart phone and head towards the pier.

Jetty Park has campgrounds, a beach, fishing pier, concessions and is also currently developing a new Cruise Terminal.  The best spot to watch the ships are from the fishing pier.

What Time Do Ships Sail Away From Port Canaveral

Your best bet is to check the websites for Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney to find out the sail away times. But do it a week before you plan to go to Port Canaveral. If you wait until the day of the cruise to check the departure times, they will have been removed from the cruise lines’ websites.

Generally speaking, the cruise ships leave from Port Canaveral beginning about 4:00 pm.  If you’re heading out to Jetty Park, it’s about a 15-20 minute walk from the parking lot to the end of the pier.

Plan Your Disney Trip With Our FREE Planning Itinerary

disney planner itinerary

With 4 parks filled with so many attractions, shows, and dining, it could get overwhelming trying to plan your Disney vacation.  We have created a simple Disney Planning itinerary that you can download here FREE!

disney planner itinerary

Before planning, it may be helpful to check crowd calendars.  We recommend checking here.  This site provides crowd times for each month.

A lot of time and effort goes into planning your perfect Disney vacation.  Here are some great articles that you should check out before you go:

Travelling with pets? Read here

Want some insta worthy snaps?  Don’t forget to look for the elusive #disneywalls here

Beat the Orlando heat!

You’re all set to have a magical holiday!

Disney Store Magical Egg Hunt Adventure

disney store egg hunt title

disney store egg hunt

If you are anything like me, I get the Disney blues when I am not in Disney especially when I see so many fun Disney events like the Epcot Eggstravaganza.  So I was delighted to learn that from now until April 13, you can visit your local Disney store and take part in an Easter Egg scavenger hunt.

disney store egg map

You will need to purchase a map and stickers from a cast member to begin your hunt. We paid $6.99 but this may vary depending on where you are located.  The store has hidden 8 eggs in and around the store that you will need to find.  Once you find an egg, you take the corresponding sticker and place it on your map.  There is a Spider-man, Woody, Stitch, Darth Vader, Mrs. Incredible, Elsa, Iron Man, & BB8 that you will need to find.  Once all 8 eggs are found, you take your map to a cast member who will provide you with your choice of a cute Minnie or Mickey Easter egg with a little surprise inside.

Our local store even had a pin board for trading! Not all store do so we suggest calling first if this is something you want to partake in.

disney store pin board

There are no set times, you can start your egg hunt at any time during store hours until April 13th.  Happy hunting!

Disney Plant Based Food Guide

vegan and gluten free dining in orlando

Not too long ago, we shared some gluten free and vegan friendly dining options in the Orlando area.  Well Disney’s Magic Kingdom has now launched a visitor’s guide especially for those in search of vegan & vegetarian food options.

MK vegan list

The new Disney Plant Based Cuisine Guide lists all of the vegan and veggie options across the park in a convenient pamphlet.

The guide is categorized by area and then lists each vegan and veggie-friendly restaurant in the region of that park including the offered dishes.  Head over to Casey’s corner for a vegan hot dog, The Plaza for a veggie burger or Tomorrowland for a plant based sloppy joe.

Disneyland in California was recently crowned the most vegan friendly theme park in the USA by animal rights activist group PETA.  Hopefully this means that Disneyworld will soon have just as many vegan friendly options.

The guide is available at the following locations in the Magic Kingdom:

  • All Table-Service and Quick-Service Restaurants
  • All Guest Experience Team podiums
  • Guest Relations (City Hall and Liberty Square Ticket Office locations)

For any questions or concerns about allergy-free dining and dietary preferences, see Walt Disney World’s page on special dietary requests. Alternatively, you can contact them at Special.Diets@DisneyWorld.com with any questions you might have.

*Images courtesy of WDWNT

Legoland Florida Ticket Discount Benefits Autism Speaks

legoland

Legoland Florida is offering discount pricing during the month of April in support of World Autism month.  You can purchase print at home theme park tickets at a discount rate of $42.50 plus tax or combo tickets offering same day admission to the theme park and water park for $65.50 + tax.  $10 of each ticket sold will be donated to the North and Central Florida markets of Autism Speaks.

Over the past couple years, Legoland Florida Resort has made ongoing efforts to make their resort a more welcoming place for guests with autism spectrum disorders.  Here are some of the ways Legoland Florida is accommodating guests on the autism spectrum:

  • To assist guests who have difficulty waiting in line, they have created a pass specifically for guests on the autism spectrum. The no cost “Blue hero pass” allows the guest and their family to bypass the standby line at popular attractions.legoland blue hero pass
  • Multiple “quiet rooms” located throughout the resort offer a private space where guests on the autism spectrum can relax with noise cancelling headphones, weighed blankets and soothing toys.quiet room legoland florida
  • “Social stories” where guests can see an illustrated step by step walk through of every ride and show, so guests won’t be surprised by periods of darkness, loud noises, bright lights or other elements that may be frightening or overwhelming. legoland social stories
  • The resorts newly hired Model Citizens now receive specialized training to prepare them with skills and sensitivities needed to more effectively interact with guests on the autism spectrum

The parent company Merlin Entertainments operate under a set of values that includes “we care”, and by working in partnership with organizations like Autism Speaks, they are committed to ensure that the place built for kids is truly built for all kids.

You can purchase tickets here. The offer is available now through April 30. Tickets must be redeemed by May 31, 2019.

*Photos courtesy of Legoland

Epcot’s Easter Egg-stravaganza

Every year during Epcot Flower & Garden Festival, Epcot hosts an annual scavenger hunt for Easter eggs.  This year the hunt runs until Sunday, April 21.

To join the scavenger hunt, you will need to first purchase a scavenger hunt map. The map costs $6.99 and you can find them at Disney Traders, Pin Central, or World Traveler.

*

The eggs on your sticker card are the eggs you are looking for around the park.  Keep your eyes peeled as some are tricky to find.

Place the matching sticker on your map after you have spotted the egg.  Once you have found them all, head over to Disney Traders to submit your map and receive your prize, the choice of one themed egg!  New this year is that the eggs themselves have a surprise inside!

Eggstravaganza is on through April 21st during Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival.  If your looking for an Easter service, Disney’s Contemporary Resort offers church services on Easter Sunday.

Hint:  Some eggs are located inside

*Image courtesy of All Ears