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Food Blog Forum: Orlando, Disney, and a Heart Felt Thank You

Food Blog Forum: Orlando, Disney, and a Heart Felt Thank YouThe sign says “Where Dreams Come True”. You have no idea what that actually means to me, so allow me a moment to explain. On March 14th my family and I boarded a plane from Chicago to Orlando. It would be the first time I’ve ever been to the state of Florida, let alone DisneyWorld. When I was in high school we couldn’t afford family vacations, it just wasn’t in a divorced parent’s budget. We lived in a tiny rented house in an affluent northern Chicago suburb. We certainly had a happy family life, just limited means. So when spring break rolled around and everyone in school (and I swear, it was everyone!) went to Florida and came back with a great tan, I stayed home.. that’s right, I went back to school pale, no tan for me.

Food Blog Forum: Orlando, Disney, and a Heart Felt Thank YouSure, I was jealous, who wouldn’t be? Though I knew that someday I would get there, to the great state of Florida, I just didn’t know how long I would have to wait. So now, 30 years later, thanks to Food Blog Forum and Walt Disney World themselves, that dream has finally come true!

My good friend Angela, from Big Bear’s Wife, and one of the group hostesses on my site The Secret Recipe Club, sent me an instant message one day in mid-January asking if I was going to Food Blog Forum. So I have to say a big thank you to her for bringing it to my attention!

Food Blog Forum: Orlando, Disney, and a Heart Felt Thank YouThis post has the potential to end up being so long that you may not get to the end of it, so I’ve decided to break it up and share my personal vacation experience separately. It’s important that I use this space to show you why I went in the first place. I also want to be able to thank DisneyWorld, Food Blog Forum, and all of the amazing sponsors that not only made this event possible, but affordable as well!

Special thanks go out to (pictured from left to right) Jaden & Scott Hair of Steamy Kitchen, Julie Deily of the little kitchen, and Todd Porter & Diane Cu of White on Rice Couple. Also pictured (3rd from the right) is one of the sponsors, Rachel Barbarotta who represents KitchenAid. Thank you for all the amazing prizes that were provided!

Note: If you would like to see a larger view of each picture, simply click the photo.

Food Blog ForumI told you that we boarded a plane on the 14th, yet the conference didn’t begin until the 16th. Disney and Food Blog Forum made it possible for our families to attend, so we extended our stay and came in early. On the 16th we arrived at The Polynesian Resort, a gorgeous Hawaiian themed hotel on Disney property. The room was spectacular, the view from our room a private hotel beach in full view of nightly fireworks, and more amenities than you would ever need.

Food Blog Forum: Orlando, Disney, and a Heart Felt Thank YouA short walk from The Polynesian is the breathtaking Victorina style deluxe resort The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. It was at their Summer House Patio and Sand Beach where Friday night’s welcome reception was held and I was able to finally meet so many blogging friends! The food provided by the resort was phenomenal, appetizers, desserts and drinks that could not have made me feel more pampered. I even ate caviar for the first time!

(Special thanks to Elise Bauer from Simply Recipes for allowing me to use the above pictures from the reception as I forgot to bring my camera that evening!)

Food Blog Forum: Orlando, Disney, and a Heart Felt Thank YouSaturday we hopped the monorail and headed for Epcot where the conference was being held. The grounds were dotted with botanicals as the annual Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival was going on.

Food Blog Forum: Orlando, Disney, and a Heart Felt Thank YouFirst up was breakfast, and what a spread it was! Disney constantly spoiled us with dishes from their 5-star resorts and restaurants. Once we were all settled and enjoying our meal, the conference began.

Food Blog Forum: Orlando, Disney, and a Heart Felt Thank YouFood blogger conferences were created for the same reason other business conferences are, to help you improve and expand the business you are passionate about. Throughout the day we heard from speakers Scott & Jaden of Steamy Kitchen and Todd & Diane of White on Rice Couple, as well as a great line up of other notable bloggers in the industry. There were round table discussions, presentations and plenty of opportunities for learning.

Food Blog Forum: Orlando, Disney, and a Heart Felt Thank YouWe broke for lunch and walked over to the Epcot World Showplace where Disney’s restaurants and bakeries put on a spectacular show of culinary magic. The incredible array of foods available was astonishing and not something I expected from DisneyWorld. While we weren’t able to visit any of the restaurants showcased here, they are definitely on my list for next time. Believe me, after this experience there WILL be a next time! I could see vacationing here with my husband after the kids have moved on.

So many restaurants were highlighted, their managers standing by to answer questions and chefs whipping up delicious bite sized morsels so that we could sample everything available. If I had to choose a favorite much to my own surprise it was a cuisine that I don’t normally eat. The restaurant is called Sanaa, within Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I spoke with the chef who described it as “the art of African cooking with Indian flavors”. They served stewed lentils, a fabulous flat bread with accompaniments and wonderful roasted cauliflower with tomato sauce. The flavors were unforgettable!

Food Blog Forum: Orlando, Disney, and a Heart Felt Thank YouAfter lunch we returned to the conference, attended round table discussions and of course there were prizes! From Kitchen Aid mixers to large package bundles, they even gave away a brand new refrigerator! The sponsors of the event included of course the gracious Walt Disney World Resort, KitchenAid, Whole Foods, Oxo, Land of Lakes, Le Creuset, Scharffen Berger, Lifetime Brands, Downtown Food & Wine Fest, Edgeware, Kissimmee, Bob’s Red Mill, Goo Goo Clusters, Spice Islands and King Arthur Flour. I cannot thank each of these generous companies enough for making this event possible as well as so enjoyable.

Food Blog Forum: Orlando, Disney, and a Heart Felt Thank YouJust because the conference was over didn’t mean the hospitality ended. There was still a dessert after party to attend at Eau de France Epcot. That evening we were treated to an array of Irish desserts and treats in honor of St. Patrick’s Day as well as the spectacular fireworks show, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. We had front row seating for the show in a roped off VIP area. Disney definitely made us all feel very special.

Food Blog Forum: Orlando, Disney, and a Heart Felt Thank YouJust when you thought it was over, there was one more food filled event to attend, Sunday morning’s brunch at Whole Foods Market in Orlando. The spread was amazing with homemade miniature pastries, a yogurt and granola bar, bread pudding, fresh fruit, eggs, sausage, the list goes on! All family members were in attendance as well, making it even more memorable.

Food Blog Forum: Orlando, Disney, and a Heart Felt Thank You

Pictured from left-top going clockwise: 1) Aly of Cooking in Stilettos, Denise of Creative Kitchen, Angie of Big Bear's Wife, me; 2) Me and Katie of Katie's Cucina; 3: Kiran of Kiran Tarun, me; 4) Leslie of The Hungry Housewife, me.

An outside dining area was created for us so we could mingle one last time and grab some pictures before it was time to say goodbye. Ah, goodbye. I really didn’t want to leave. That was the hardest part!

I can’t say thank you enough to everyone that put this together and to all of the generous sponsors.

To Disney I do have a special thank you. Thank you for making my dreams come true and allowing me the opportunity to take my family on a vacation of a lifetime. While I haven’t posted about the rest of the trip yet, I will. Thank you Disney, I will be forever grateful for your graciousness and your hospitality.

Me

27 Responses to Food Blog Forum: Orlando, Disney, and a Heart Felt Thank You

  1. 1

    YAY!! Love the recap! I’m so glad that we both were able to go and that I finally got to meet you!!! HUGS!!

  2. 2

    A wonderful recap!! So glad we finally met and love how much mosaic makes a difference with so many photos. Looks great :D

  3. 3

    Loved your recap Amanda!! You got some terrific photos, and wow…I haven’t eaten yet today and that Whole Foods brunch was amazing. Wish I had some now.

    It was SO great to meet you!! And I do hope you and hubby plan to make it back down. You’d really want to plan for fall next time and take in the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. You both would love it!! That time of year Disney usually offers the FREE dining plan for guests that stay on property. :)

  4. 4
    Elise Bauer says:

    What a great recap Amanda, thank you!

  5. 5
    JoAnn says:

    Sounds amazing, so happy that you and your family were able to live your dream!!! Hope you got lots of great ideas. Your site is my favorite, thank you for all you do!!!!!

  6. 6
    Angie says:

    I loved your recap! You got some great photos. Hopefully next time I get to hug ya and say hi!

  7. 7

    Hey Amanda, I nominated you for the Liebster Award, although I think you fall out of the actual rules so I apologize if I was mistaken. But I love your blog and the conference looks like loads of fun. Anyway, yeah. Keep on cookin’ :)

  8. 8
    Julie Scriver says:

    Hi Amanda, sounds like you had a wonderful time, I’m so happy for you. We have been there a few times and each time it is magical. You said you stayed at the Polyiesian resort, but no mention if you had dinner at Ohana. Its a Hawaaiian themed restaurant where food is fun. All the waiters call you ‘cousin’ and the food is like a Brazilian BBQ where the waiters keep bringing meat on swords till you’re full! If you missed it, next time you’ll have to go.

  9. 9

    This looks like so much fun. A very well deserved break, Amanda :)

  10. 10
    Katrina says:

    Definitely sounds like an experience and trip of a lifetime. How fun that your whole family got to go! Great write up!

  11. 11

    Great recap! Sounds like you had a blast.

  12. 12

    How wonderful! I love Disney & I’m guessing you are officially hooked now Amanda!! It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know about this conference or I would’ve been wanting to go myself, and we did just go last September with the whole family – including the grandkids! Looks like you had a wonderful time.

  13. 13

    [...] probably seen my post about Food Blog Forum, the food blogging conference I attended in March. Thanks to the generosity of Disney World and [...]

  14. 14
    katie says:

    How did I miss your recap? I’m so glad we finally got to meet in person!!!

  15. 15

    [...] say that as a family we have visited both Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida. I was lucky enough to attend Food Blog Forum, which was sponsored by Disney. That was in March of 2012 and I’m crossing my fingers to be [...]

  16. 16

    oh my goodness, this look fabulous!!!

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