Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Bit More Disney! FBF Recap Part 2

So as some of you know, I had the chance to spend last weekend in Walt Disney World at the Food Blog Forum 2013 Conference.

Take 100 of the most talented Food Bloggers from all over the country, stick them in the happiest place on earth and what do you get? You are about to find out...

You can read about my journey getting to the conference here.

I had spent the night prior to the conference at another Disney hotel with Heather of Heather Likes Food. She and I hit it off right away, which is a good thing because she was in store for "Kasey's Disney Whirlwind Tour". This is an event that can easily make or break any friendship.

We raced over to Disney's Grand Floridian first thing Friday morning (with the Jefferson's theme song in our heads). I mean, can you get a load of this place. As I like to call it... The Ritz Carlton of Disney World.

Does anyone recognize that piano?? Hint: Think TGIF!

After we received our official FBF 2013 badges it was up to the monorail to hit up Epcot. A land of rides, innovation and food from around the world. Yeah, this is pretty much the number one park for a foodie. 
After a spin on the new Test Track, lunch at The Land and a Grand Mariner Slushie in France, it was time to head back to the hotel and freshen up before the Welcome Reception.

Heather and I playing in "Paris", Lemon Tarts, Grand Marnier Slushies and Mrs Potts!

We bolted back to the hotel in time to get situated in our rooms and I had the chance to meet my new roomie. Alicia (Alicia Carlson Photography) and I were assigned to room together and come to find out, we both majored in Broadcast Journalism at Emerson College and had plenty of stories to share about one grueling professor. I guess it really is a small world after all! Sorry, couldn't resist.
Alicia and I at the conference. Making Marsha proud!

We enjoyed a brief reception in the Convention Center lobby which felt like a Meet and Greet of all the wonderful people I've been chatting with the few months leading up to the event. We were presented with a selection of intricate dishes that are offered at Disney's Grand Floridian. I wish I had a bit more time to enjoy the food but it was hard to chat and chow down at the same time.

Shortly after, it was time for me to hop on the Disney Transportation bus to MGM (Disney Hollywood Studios - but I refuse to call it that) for an intimate dinner hosted by Glam Media and Foodie.com at The Brown Derby. It was wonderful to have the chance to talk to a group of bloggers on a smaller scale and learn more about the opportunities that are out there for us. We enjoyed a number of elaborate appetizers and I even had my first bite of Bison!
Jessica (My Baking Heart) and I enjoying our specialty cocktails up top and of course a fun group shot!

The Conference Day started bright and early at 8am and was non-stop until 5:30. It was PACKED with information and inspiration from FBF founders Jaden and Scott Hair (Steamy Kitchen), Todd Porter and Diane Cu (White On Rice Couple). We were also brought up to date with the latest technology for food bloggers thanks to Elise Bauer (Simply Recipes) and Babette Papaj (Bake Space). Conference coordinators Julie Deily (The Little Kitchen) and Lindsay Landis (Love and Olive Oil) joined a panel with David Leite (Leite's Culinaria) and Jeff Houck (Tampa Bay Tribune) to discuss building a community with your blog and keeping your authentic voice. 

Since this is a Food Blog conference, you didn't think they were going to make us starve, did you?? Disney presented us with a whimsical spread of their revamped Kid's Menu. For someone who was born with an elaborate palate I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed but I can see what they were going for. The presentation was fantastic, 100% Disney all the way, but the bland flavors on each dish made me wrinkle my nose. The one standout for me however was the Turkey Pot Pie which can be found at Cinderella's Royal Table. That was packed with flavor and made me want a second helping!

How adorable is the presentation of these dishes from Disney!?
After the conference sessions wrapped and all the prizes were raffled off (Thanks Kitchenaid and Oxo!) it was time to dart back over to MGM for a private dessert reception and Fantasmic. I had the pleasure of hanging with these lovely ladies for the night!
Diana (The Kitchen Prep), Jessica (My Baking Heart), Yours Truly, Alicia (Alicia Carlson Photography), Heather (Heather Likes Food), Annelies (The Food Poet)

Of course Disney put out a wonderful spread of sweets and treats.... and a cordial bar. Amaretto on the rocks please!



Now I do have to confess, a few of the girls and I decided to ditch the Fantasmic show (I've seen it dozens of times) and hit up a few rides. I opted for my favorites, The Great Movie Ride and Rockin' Rollercoaster before the park closed!

Since I knew Magic Kingdom closed at 1am (!!!) I rounded up a few troops and made our way over there on the hunt for Dole Whip! We were able to hop on It's A Small World, The Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain before closing down the park a little after 1:30 :-)
 
Our group with our coveted Dole Whips! Thanks NoshOnIt for the pic!

The following morning I dragged my exhausted behind out of bed and made my way over to the brunch that was being hosted at Whole Foods Market Orlando. You could tell that the staff at WF put so much time and care into each dish! My favorite would have to be the pulled pork on habanero cornbread! YUM!

After brunch I was faced with the difficult decision... spend my three remaining hours at the hotel pool... or hit up Epcot. If you know me at all, you know what my answer was! I hit up Epcot with Alicia, Vijay and Charles for the quickest tour around the World Showcase I have ever experienced in my 35 times at Disney World. If you can believe it, we had time to hit every country, stop and eat in France and get stuck in a torrential downpour, all within 45 minutes! THAT was a record!
Even a downpour in Epcot could keep us from having fun!

In the end, the event that seemed like it took forever to happen was over in a flash (like most good things) and I made sure to savor every minute. I am so grateful for the knowledge I gained and the friends I made. I hope you all enjoy seeing the tips from the conference put into action over the next few months here on Kasey's Kitchen! To see all my photos from the trip, click here!