We attended the very first IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party last night, an event that allows guests to enjoy an Epcot dessert party without being part of a private group. Here is our review with photos and video.
The IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party occurs Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights from 7:45 p.m. to 9:20 p.m.
Before diving into a review, the question I was asked most about on Instagram and Twitter has been whether there were chairs. No, there weren’t. I don’t expect table and chair seating, since it would cut down on how many could fit here (but anything can change). There were about 100 guests last night, which surprised me as the event was just announced days earlier. We were told that the area that Disney could include for the party allows up to 500 guests.
Also, our paperwork told us to be at World Showplace for 7:45 p.m. This was incorrect, it is held at World Showcase Plaza between the two shops (next to what we call the “Duffy store”). We received our wristbands at about 7:30 p.m., allowing us to enter the dessert party area within about 10 minutes. Disney did have someone at World Showplace to turn guests around!
Jeff and his party wristband.
The IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party offers a small selection of desserts, accompanied by fruit platters and, as of now, two different sparkling wines served in generously sized flutes – unlimited! Several types of ice cream bars are also included.
I have been to at least a dozen private IllumiNations dessert parties through the years, so that was what I was comparing the experience to. I found it interesting that nearly everyone I spoke with was comparing it to the Magic Kingdom Wishes Dessert Party, which we have never experienced. For myself, the experience was worth the $49.00 cost compared to other IllumiNations dessert parties I’ve attended. Most parties I’ve attended at Epcot through the years have been more expensive for a lesser view and no alcohol. Other guests I spoke with wanted chairs and more dessert choices, as the Wishes Dessert Party offers. We thought a cheese and cracker platter would add a lot, along with a few more dessert options. In other words, we think this is a great start to an IllumiNations Dessert Party, but a few changes would make it even better.
The desserts were not terribly fancy, and I’m not sure if they are actually *from* the countries or just inspired by them. I have never seen a small, fresh shortbread cookie in the United Kingdom (the United Kingdom pavilion does, however, offer a delicious English Bay Cookie at the Yorkshire Fish Shop). And I’ve never heard of Vanilla Pot de Creme in France. I looked up “Cronis” online and found nothing – but those are apparently small cronuts. No matter whether the desserts are from or inspired by, it would be nice if every country was represented. Why not small servings of chocolate “moose” from Canada, bavarian cheesecake from Germany, and school bread from Norway? There are so many wonderful options around World Showcase. Miniature chocolate eclairs from France would be welcome as well. A little “ImagiNation” could go a long way!
That said, there was nothing I didn’t enjoy – I think my favorite item was the baklava. Who doesn’t love baklava? And the small cronuts were a big hit. But I eschewed the ice cream for fresh fruit, I was so glad it was available even though not on the menu.
We have been asked if we think the event was worth the money. That is all relative. While discussing the cost today, Jeff said today that we could have gone to Via Napoli, enjoyed a large pizza and drinks, maybe a dessert for the same price (or less). But at the same time, I enjoy events, and I think $49.00 for an IllumiNations dessert party compared to what I’ve spent in the past is reasonable with the wine included. I think $29.00 for children (ages 3-9) is a little high, since there isn’t as much there for them. Except for the ice cream, I don’t know consider the current desserts particularly child friendly. I don’t mind standing at a tall table, and a lot of guests sat on the ground for IllumiNations.
This was the very first day, and I expect tweaks will be made along the way. I will say that the first IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party went off pretty smoothly!
Here are more photos from the event and some night photos around Epcot in the 2 hours after it ended.
Jeff holds the IllumNations Sparkling Dessert Party menu.
Check-in was at this podium.
Cast Members were still getting everything ready, but we were let in on time (or a few minutes early).
There were two different types of white sparkling wine.
Here are some of the items we enjoyed, but I wish Disney would put tong rests to the side of the platters – tongs resting inside the platter means that the first person touches the food.
The fruit included cantelope, strawberries, grapes, pineapple and raspberries.
This was the view from our table of Spaceship Earth.
Ice cream was being handed out of a cooler.
I tried each of the items, including a small cronut and shortbread cookie.
The sparkling wine was actually quite delicious!
Here are some dessert combinations at our table.
We enjoyed the first night of the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party!
Jeff enjoyed a Mickey bar with his wine.
There was also lemonade, water, iced tea, hot tea and coffee.
When we were told that about 100 guests were attending, I thought our location would be a little busy – it wasn’t, it felt very empty.
There was a gorgeous moon and clouds last night!
The desserts, fruit and wine were kept refreshed all night.
This was our view of IllumiNations from where we were taking photos. It was windy last night, so guests couldn’t get quite as close as usual.
Here is our video of the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party, and we will be talking about it on Mousesteps Weekly #93 this week!
After Illuminations, we took a walk around World Showcase, leaving Epcot by 11:15 p.m. I brought my tripod to take photos with – it was a perfect night for it! I loved how the moon just glowed above some of the buildings and topiaries.
Dopey in Germany for the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
Lady and the Tramp in Italy.
Japan with clouds above it.
The Eiffel Tower soars above the France pavilion.
Chip and Mrs. Potts.
Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie and L’Artisan des Glaces.
Belle and Beast topiaries.
A quiet street in the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom pavilion lit up briefly a couple of times as we walked by. Peter Pan is on top of it for the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival.
I love how the trees don’t have leaves right now.
Goofy is ready to kick the soccer ball toward Spaceship Earth.
Mickey, Minnie and Pluto.
Sparkly sidewalk and the Fountain of Nations.
I ran out of time at the front of the park, but we will be back for more evening photos soon!
It was a lovely night, from the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party to enjoying a quiet walk around World Showcase while taking photos.