Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic Review 2015: Our Favorite Foodie Event of the Season

Hi everyone!

This past weekend, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin presented its 6th annual Food & Wine Classic. This was our 5th year attending, and it is always my favorite foodie event of the season. Held for 2 nights each year in the latter half of October, one of my favorite aspects of the event is getting to sample food reflective of the restaurants at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels. Some of Orlando’s highest ranking restaurants can be found here, including Shula’s and Todd English’s bluezoo. And Todd English himself always makes an appearance at the Food & Wine Classic!

We had already posted an extensive food preview in the days leading up to the event. It covers many items that were available over the 2 nights. Menus at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic are distinctly different both nights, although Shula’s usually stays the same. And there are seminars that guests can book before the event.

We were invited this year to attend on Halloween night. The dates for next year have not been announced yet, but the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin always announces the weekend many months in advance, along with posting menus. It makes it easier to plan! The event team always begins right after Thanksgiving. It takes almost a full year to plan the event, and it shows in the food and entertainment. For 2015, dates were announced in January and tickets went on sale in April. It really allows for a lot of lead time! And the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin has always offered hotel packages with the event, a very good deal for guests looking for an inclusive weekend.

I found my drink early in the evening and stuck with it all night. In the Beer Garden (an upcharge to the event, but well worth it), we tried a not-yet-released Florida Brewing cider in a blood orange flavor. I don’t drink a lot, but this I will buy when available. The Beer Garden also offered pretzels, Wiener Schnitzel, and Phins and Feathers beer. Phins and Feathers is the brand of the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin (and a play on the name). Phins and Feathers is brewed by the Shipyard Brewing Company.

Here is a look at the Wiener Schnitzel from the preview. It is the second year I’ve tried it, and I now look forward to the Beer Garden offerings.

My favorite dish at the Classic is always the steak from Shula’s. The cut of beef offered changes each year, and this NY Strip didn’t disappoint. Actually, I’m not usually someone who would purchase a NY Strip – but this was tender and so full of flavor. And the reason we’ve dined at Shula’s at the resort is because of the Food & Wine Classic (we recommend signing up for the restaurant’s E-Club). The steak sat on a small bed of mashed potatoes.

Nearby was St. Augustine Distillery, new this year. One of the two drinks they offered was a Florida Mule. It was a very good drink sample.

I don’t eat fish or sushi, but Jeff tried the Dragon Roll with crispy shrimp and tuna from Kimonos. Actually, I think he tried it twice, it was one of his favorite items of the evening.

The Mascarpone – chestnut ravioli, Italian sausage, celery root and bacon jus was just okay for me – but Jeff enjoyed it. What I do like about each sample is the care and artistry that is put into it. I am not going to appreciate every flavor, but sometimes something will just “pop” as it did during the media preview of Classic items. One tiny, pickled carrot slice put a lot of pizazz into an already delicious sample of fried chicken (served Friday).

Jeff always enjoys seeing Todd English at the event.

Cib’s Smoke Shop is a pop-up location, it isn’t a restaurant at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. It always is a must for us, this year it served the above mentioned chicken on Friday and Smoked Wagyu Short Ribs on Saturday. Both were excellent, and a good reason to visit during both evenings.

We didn’t try the Fish ‘n’ Chips from the Garden Grove booth, but we heard so many raves about it.

New this year was Carnival Corner, it was a big hit.

Seriously, I had my first corn dog ever here. The thought of hot dogs with batter has never appealed, but it wasn’t bad.

Funnel Cakes were also served in individual portions. Guests could choose from Nutella or fruit toppings.

Nutella is a treat for me, so I chose that. I like the small serving size, generally funnel cakes are pretty large and it’s why I never order one in the parks.

Wine and beer permeated each location, and this area was no different. Guests could imbibe on several different adult beverages, including Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. Jeff tried a number of different beers, including this one. Beer used to have a much smaller presence at this event, but beer lovers wouldn’t have a problem finding many solid choices now. The craft beer market has taken off in recent years, and the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic has followed this trend.

Even desserts were mostly different Friday and Saturday nights. Two-time winner of the World Pastry Championships, executive pastry chef Laurent Brandlard leads his team in unique desserts and flavors.

Each year, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic offers lively entertainment.

A few years back, a new lighting package was installed. This year I think the resort outdid itself with lighting on the Dolphin.

One of several bands playing on Saturday night had a lot of guests dancing in the causeway.

Beautiful colors highlight the trees and lights dance on the Dolphin hotel.

We look forward to the 7th year in 2016. If you plan to visit Orlando – or if you are local to the area – watch for the dates to be announced in a couple of months.

Halloween evening was gorgeous for the event, we look forward to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic in 2016!

Mousesteps was invited to cover the event. All views are ours. This is an event we would attend invited or not, and we recommend it.