Epcot recently launched a new after-hours event called the "After Hours Wind Down." For those not familiar with what it is exactly, click here.
John and I were eager to try it out. We had originally booked the Rose and Crown for a Saturday evening, but the typical Florida rains moved in around 3:00, so we called and rescheduled it for a week later, at Tutto Gusto instead. I had read a few reviews and knew what each participating restaurant was offering, and it seemed that Tutto Gusto offered the better value for the buck.
We decided to make a day of it and enjoy some of the Flower and Garden Festival beforehand, so we started the day at Hurricane Hannah's to see our friend Disney Bill.
This is my go-to summer style for park touring. Something I don't have to wear a bra with (if you missed my post about dressing for the 'Rock Your Disney Side' 24 hour event, I mentioned this as being one of the few perks of being, shall we say, less endowed.)
Necklaces: Stella & Dot After Midnight Necklace (again, old and no longer in production, but I found one here on Ebay!) and Azadouhi Jewelry Triple Quartz Necklace
Toenail polish: OPI Kiss Me On My Tulips
I spy Spaceship Earth in the photo below. Do you see it?!
I was so excited to get these next few photos. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!
The reflection in the water, though!
We made our way around the World Showcase and ended up at the America Gardens Theater just as the sun was setting.
It was a beautiful evening around the World Showcase.
Another main reason for going on this particular day was to see Herman's Hermits in the Flower Power Concert Series. John and I danced to them last year on the day we first met, and it's where we really hit it off and took notice of each other after spending the afternoon with a group of friends drinking around Epcot. We joke that we'll have Herman's Hermits play at our wedding for sentimental value.
Before the concert began, we stopped by the Smokehouse to try the infamous Piggylicious cupcake and a Magic Hat #9. I can't say we were the biggest fan of the cupcake, but it was interesting nonetheless.
Remember this next picture as it pertains to the ones coming up during the After Hours Wind Down event (no, I didn't forget that was the purpose of this post!)
Beer in hand, we walked back to enjoy the show.
After watching two performances, it was time to head to Tutto Gusto. The event doesn't actually start until 9:20, when Illuminations is over, but we headed back anyway. I'm glad we did- a small crowd had already arrived and was waiting at the tables outside of the lounge. It ended up being a different vantage point for watching Illuminations, too.
We made sure to each order something different so we could sample a variety of wines and foods. John went with the Elegant Reds Flight while I went with the Vegetarian Flight.
We really liked both options. The flavors were all very complementary of each other, and the veggie plate was really quite filling and satisfying. The cold asparagus wasn't my favorite, and the eggplant was a bit mushy, but the artichoke hearts were delicious, and the bruschetta was phenomenal! I also liked my wine pairings, but if I were to do it again, I would order something with a red flight and here's why: John and I wanted to linger and really take our time to feel like we got our monies worth. With cold white wines, you need to drink them before they get room temperature, so I felt a bit rushed to get them down. With reds, you can sip, savor and reaaaaalllly stretch the experience out.
Okay, so the food and wine were great, the atmosphere was lovely, but now the real reason why I would recommend the 'After Hours Wind Down' and say it is worth the money.
We left Tutto Gusto around 10:15 or so and slowly started making our way toward the International Gateway where we had parked. We honestly didn't see ANYONE on our walk back- no security, no other guest, nothing. For a real Epcot lover (or heck, a Disney park lover in general), it was amazing. To be able to hear the background ambient music in each country, to take clear shots of the different architecture in the glow of the night lights, to stroll hand in hand with my sweetheart around a deserted World Showcase- it was really a magical moment. Forgive my lack of photography skills (namely, editing- these pictures are not all that they have the potential to be) but here are a handful of shots from our walk out of the park.
Remember the picture from earlier in the day, with the people all in the background? Notice how there's NO ONE in this picture?! So cool, right?!!
Here's my attempt at a Frenchy, provocative model pose. I won't quit my day job. Notice the lightweight cardigan I had put on. I'm telling you, even in the 100 degree heat of summer, these are essential once the sun goes down or you plan to spend any time in air conditioned buildings. Remember, places often overcompensate for the hot, muggy air outside by blasting the a.c. inside.
Featherweight J.Crew Cardigan (very old, similar here- they're on sale AND J.Crew is offering an additional 25% off with code SUMMERTIME through June 8th. ALSO, J.Crew Factory has lots of cardigan options for even lower prices with 50%-60% off through June 10th!!)
One last parting shot looking towards the UK- just to emphasize how empty the park was. It's unfortunate that we were very tired at this point in the evening, as I would have like to walk all the way around the World Showcase soaking up the ambiance. But, alas, we'll just have to go back! Next time around, we're planning to try Spice Road Table- again, I've heard the portions and options are a good value for the money.
Until next time, cheers!