Last weekend I had the privilege of attending Food Blog Forum Orlando again. You may remember last year I came home from Food Blog Forum with a renewed zest for my site and bought my own domain name. It was my first food blog event, and I learned so much and met so many wonderful people….like my friend Michelle. An experience that great would be hard to top.
So if the pictures are already jumping out at you, you’ll see why this year was beyond amazing! When I first found out Walt Disney World was one of the major sponsors of our event, I was in shock. If you’ve been around here long enough you know we are BIG Disney fans, and season passholders several times over. So when I found out that our conference was not only at Disney, but that we’d be staying at the Polynesian Resort (a deluxe monorail resort) I was stunned. Staying at a Disney monorail hotel has always been a dream of ours, but never in our budget.
I kept things hush/hush around the house while I anticipated whether I’d get in or not. One of the major things I love about Food Blog Forum is the intimacy….they keep the numbers low so we have a chance to get to know each other better. But this time around, that also meant a limited number of people were going to be able to go….especially once word got out that we were being hosted by Disney! After an agonizing week and a half, I got word we’d be able to go.
Yes….WE….our family was invited to come along!! Resort stay and 4 day park hoppers for each of our family members. Wow, thank you Disney!! I still kept it under wraps, because I wanted the perfect moment to tell my girls. It just so happened we were going away on a 12 day Disney vacation a couple weeks later, and I wanted to tell them while we were there. Our monorail stopping in front of the Polynesian one day when leaving Magic Kingdom was the perfect chance….we had the car to ourselves thankfully, because the girls couldn’t stop screaming! Of course, hubby was excited too…he’s a bigger Disney fan than they are, if that’s possible.
So last Friday we headed up to a dream weekend at Disney. We arrived at the Polynesian, and I was immediately transported back to my days of living in Hawaii. Disney is known for their authenticity, and I did actually feel like I was there. Between the leis we received upon check in, the bell hops taking us to our room by golf cart, the volcano poolside and the self serve dole whip at Capt. Cook’s restaurant….I was taken back in time.
As you see in the picture above, one of the best things about staying at a monorail resort is the quick access to the Disney parks! Do you see the center picture with the monorail peeking out from under the building? A quick 5 minute ride, and you’re at the gate to the happiest place on earth….Magic Kingdom! What? You want to go to Epcot? No worries….the monorail takes you there too! Yes, we were in our element……check out our room below, and you’ll see why we didn’t want to leave.
We were excited to stay at the Polynesian, but now as a family of 5 we were a bit concerned about space. Thankfully, space wasn’t an issue at all! I loved, loved, loved our balcony, and it was the perfect spot to sit with my morning tea. The bathroom was huge….see the double sinks? We were also equipped with a ceiling fan (how tropical!), and a daybed which meant our family of 5 was perfectly comfortable. Our middle girl claimed the daybed.
After checking in, and getting settled we set out to explore the Polynesian and grab a quick bite to eat at Capt. Cooks. It was already after 2pm, so I just had a small ceasar salad so I wouldn’t ruin my appetite for the night ahead. Once we got back to the room, my family took off to Magic Kingdom and I set about getting ready for the welcome reception that night at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
I hope my pictures do it justice….I didn’t take as many as I’d have liked because, well….you know, I was meeting and chatting with fellow food bloggers, signing up for the next day’s conference sessions and eating! The Disney chefs went all out for us. See the BIG shrimp? Shrimp tempura….it was incredible! They had 2 other types of shrimp also. The chef above was making made to order macaroni and cheese with your choice of toppings…..breadcrumbs, pancetta, lobster, peas, short rib, and more. Another favorite of mine was the 3 different types of salad suspended vertically in a sort of wire tree. I had the asian salad….aren’t they so pretty? Yes…all of these and many more, plus the desserts below make up our “light” appetizers of the evening.
In addition to the appetizers and dessert, they were also serving red and white wine, beer and a dangerous little drink I wish I’d gotten a picture of….a cranberry cosmo. Definitely a girlie drink where you can’t taste the alcohol at all. It was cold, sweet with a little bit of a tang.
And what about these desserts? Too many to choose from….thankfully food blogging gives us the excuse to try them all. I tried….but I was filling up. See the gorgeous tree of macarons in the center? I wish I could go back and try the other flavors. Macarons are a french dessert that I’d only discovered a couple years ago, but ever since I’ve wanted to try my hand at making them. They also had cake pops, vanilla creme brulee and chocolate creme brulee, and a few others. Thank you Disney for going above and beyond….I really did feel like a princess.
And I certainly can’t forget the people…..all the fellow food bloggers. As I walked into the party, I bumped into Tina and Jessica right away. I hadn’t seen Jessica since last year, but Tina lives in my town and we’d gotten together with Michelle last fall when we met the Neely’s. I finally got to meet Amanda and Lana (top left picture), and Angie (top right). I met Aggie last year (bottom left). I met so many other bloggers that night (not pictured), all of them super friendly.
After the party wrapped up, Julius, Aggie, Leslie and I walked back to the Polynesian. It had been an amazing evening, and I went inside my room to change and absorb it all. My family had already come back from Magic Kingdom, and gone swimming. They were now headed back over to the park. I told them I’d catch up to them in a bit, and relaxed on the balcony for awhile enjoying the silence. Before heading over, I stopped and watched the Wishes fireworks from the beach of the Polynesian (yes, they have their own beach!).
I hopped on the monorail (yay!!) and a few minutes later I was on Main Street USA. I met up with my family in Adventureland and we hopped on the Jungle Cruise. After that we rode Aladdin’s Magic Carpets and Pirates of the Caribbean. We cut through Frontierland as the Electrical Parade was ending, and headed to the Haunted Mansion. Our last ride of the night was Peter Pan. Since it was now midnight, it was so nice being only a quick monorail ride back to our hotel.
I have so much more to share with you guys about the conference on Saturday, and the Sunday brunch at Whole Foods. Friday night my friend Michelle wasn’t able to attend the festivities like originally planned due to a curve ball she was thrown, and though we’re both a bit disappointed, we’re just so glad her hubby is okay.