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Party For The Senses

by CHERYL PENDRY, PassPorter Featured Columnist

If you’re a food lover like me and you want an exclusive evening of fine wine, food and entertainment while you’re at Walt Disney World, then you’ll probably be thinking about getting tickets for the Party for the Senses.

Held on Saturday nights during the Food and Wine Festival held at Epcot every fall, tickets don’t come cheap. In 2005, the price was $95 per person, but the following year that rose dramatically to $125 per person. For ages, we wondered whether this event could be worth the money. After all, we were talking about three hours and that’s a lot of money for that little time. Then again, it’s fairly comparable to the price of tickets for some of the biggest stage shows these days. Well, that’s the logic I used anyway, when deciding whether or not we take the plunge. Working on the theory that you only live once, two tickets were booked for the night of Saturday, October 28. So having made the decision to go for it, was the party worth the money we paid? The answer is an unequivocal yes.

The party is held in what was once the Millennium Village (remember that?) between Canada and the UK in the World Showcase. These days the space is only open for special events and it’s massive. There seemed to be hundreds of people waiting outside before the party started, but once we got inside, it never once felt crowded and there were plenty of tables.

As we walked in, we were given a program, detailing the food and wine available, the chefs responsible for them and the restaurants they work in. Although a number were understandably from Disney, there were also many other names from across the country. We avidly studied the guides to work out exactly what we wanted to sample.

For me, my main concern had been whether there would be enough options for me as a non-meat eater. I needn’t have worried; there were plenty of fish and vegetarian dishes – and of course desserts! – on the menu and I literally tried every dish I could. In that respect, I felt lucky, as I had just about enough choice, with the meat eaters in our party admitting that the choice of goodies on offer was almost too much to pick from!

The first thing you notice is that you get very small portions of food to sample, but that’s not a bad thing, as you may come across the occasional item that you don’t like. You can also go back to any section as many times as you like and by the end of the evening, having lost count of the amount of different foods I’d sampled, I felt as if I’d had a really good meal and left there feeling pretty full.

To give you an idea of some of the items that have been available to sample in the past, during the night we tried such delicacies as Curry of Wild American Shrimp with Lemon Grass Steamed Basmati Rice by Jens Dahlman from the California Grill, Grilled Lamb with Salsa Verde, Roasted-garlic Cauliflower Mash and Feta Cheese by Adam Levine from the Contemporary Resort Conventions and Catering and a white chocolate mousse with a citrus glaze from Deran Lanpher from the Boardwalk Bakery.

Or how about Squash Soufflé on a Phyllo Cup with Hazelnut Crème Anglais, Spicy Squash Shooter with Brandy Cream and Squash Roulade with Watercress Salsa by Edgardo Ruiz from Disney’s Grand Floridian Catering and Conventions? Maybe the Duck and Chicken Polpetine with Caramelized Onions and Truffled Basil Pesto by Maurice Bonhomme from Pave Caldo in Chicago is more to your liking? Or perhaps the Smoked Eel and Duck Ravioli with Celery and Apple Salad by Brooke Vosika from the Four Seasons Hotel in New York appeals instead?

If, like me, you’re getting hungry just reading that list, you would definitely enjoy the party. And here’s where the warning comes - if none of those food names excite you, then maybe Party for the Senses isn’t for you.

What about the other aspects of the party? In each section, you’ll find wines to complement your food and if you’re worried about getting a little light headed by the end of the night or you don’t drink alcohol, then water and coffee are on hand as well.

In between all the sampling of the food, there were also performances by artistes from Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba. As you’d expect from such a high caliber show, you’ll watch the performers in awe. It’s a good way of finding out what La Nouba is all about, as anyone who’s seen it will tell you that it’s not the easiest show to explain! You’ll also see Cirque du Soleil performers wandering around during the evening, which is a piece of additional magic.

We all know that Disney puts on a wonderful show and Party for the Senses is no exception to that rule. Yes, it’s a pricey night out, but it’s also a magical night out and you really are in for a treat for your senses. It may not be the sort of thing that you can afford every night, but it’s definitely something worth sampling at least once.

Related Links: Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival

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Updated 04/06/07 

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