Camp Dolphin Archives

October 22, 2013

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin 2013 Food & Wine Classic - Review





Disney foodies are in their element during the month of October. There is, of course, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, which stretches for 46 mouth-watering days. This month also finds the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hosting its two-night Food & Wine Classic.

I attended the event on Friday for the second year, and it really is a fun, and potentially more affordable, event. There are many similarities between the food and beverage celebrations: an outdoor setting, live entertainment, seminars, and lots of appetizer-size portions of delicious foods, as well as samples of wine and beer.


Although children are welcome at both events, there definitely is a more adult atmosphere at the Food & Wine Classic. We saw only a handful of children at the event. (Camp Dolphin, the kids club inside the Dolphin, is a great place for kids to have a night out while you do the same. We chose that option for our children last year.)

Each night has a different menu at the 12 food stations that represent restaurants and chefs that are part of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. Both years we saw consistently long lines at stations for delicacies from celebrity chef Todd English, Kimonos, Cib's Smoke Shop and Shula's Steakhouse.

English was out for several hours greeting guests and posing for photos with them. Meanwhile, his food station offered participants Tuna Tartare with Sexy Scallions, Nitro Aioli Miso Crackling Oyster Shooter, Huckleberry Champagne Vinegar, Huckleberry Foam Rock Shrimp Tacos with Creamy JalapeƱo Slaw, Pickled Onion and Micro Cilantro. The tuna dish was a firm, meaty fish that would appeal to seafood lovers, but the Nitro Aioli Miso Crackling Oyster Shooter might take a little bit more exposure before the less adventurous can get acclimated to its unique flavor. Seeing its presentation, though, was half the fun of sampling it.



Shula's Steakhouse, known for its pricey cuts of beef, was serving carved prime rib and roasted garlic mashed potatoes with horseradish creme fraiche and watercress both nights. I'm sure it won't surprise you when I say it was delicious!


Cib's Smoke Shop gave guests a taste of flavorful meat with Texas-style beef brisket, brioche purse, rhubarb pudding and garlic chips on Friday and hand-crafted bacon, black-eyed pea puree and maple fluid gel on Saturday. Everyone in our group gave the brisket high praise.


Kimono's, a sushi restaurant, offered a Dragon Roll (crispy shrimp, tuna and avocado) on Friday and a spicy yellow fin tuna with nori seasoned rice on Saturday. I never really have developed a taste for sushi, but my friends encouraged me to try the Dragon Roll. It was tasty, and my friends who love sushi declared it among the best they've ever tried.


A delightful surprise was Picabu's taqueria-corn tortilla barbacoa of beef, braised pork or organic vegetables. These soft tacos could be topped with cheddar cheese, lime wedge, lettuce, onion, shaved radishes, pico de gallo and assorted hot sauces. The pico de gallo added an amazingly fresh taste to the dish, and we all went back for seconds.



My favorite food, by far, for the evening was the Panini Ice Cream Sandwich served at the dessert station. It was toasted sweet Hawaiian bread stuffed with chocolate and vanilla ice cream. The combination of the thick, chewy bread with the cold treat was unexpected and delicious. Chef Laurent Branlard also offered three beautiful and distinctive desserts each night. For more on those, see my interview with Chef Branlard.



In addition to all the great food, there were 35 beverage stations, most with more than one wine or beer selection.


On the Friday night we attended, beer samples were made available from Sam Adams, Tampa's Cigar City brewery and Highland Brewing Company out of Ashville, N.C. My husband enjoyed most everything he sampled from Cigar City, and his two new favorites were the Gaelic Ale and the Kashmir IPA offered by Highland. One of our friends with us said she enjoyed the Black Mocha Stout offered by the same brewery.


The double bock by Sam Adams and the Orchard Hard Cider were praise-worthy, too. Still, my husband returned repeatedly to the Cigar City booth, just as he did at last year's event. Judging from the lines at the booth, others favored it, as well.

On Saturday, beer samples were offered from Gainesville's Swamp Head Brewery, the Colorado-based Breckenridge brewery, New Belgium and Oskar Blues.

My husband did focus more on the beers than the wines, but there certainly is a large selection from various vineyards for sipping while you stroll. He did enjoy the La Crema pinot noir. This year, the Food & Wine grouped its "pink" wines on the Crescent Terrace for a Drink Pink event in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. This festive area offered six rose wines to sample.


Next year, when you're making plans to enjoy a fall festival of food and wine, you might want to consider going beyond Epcot for this annual event at the Swan and Dolphin. Though not as expansive as the better-known Food and Wine Festival, the Food & Wine Classic offers its own smorgasbord of unique flavors, live music, and food and drink seminars. All of this, paired with its beautiful setting between the two distinctive buildings on Walt Disney World property, makes it a one-of-a-kind experience for the senses here in Central Florida.

DISCLAMER: I was a guest of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin at its Food & Wine Classic. This did not affect my review, and my opinions are my own.

October 20, 2012

Parents can enjoy night out while kids have fun at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin's Camp Dolphin


Walt Disney World Swan


Walt Disney World Dolphin

Parents visiting the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin can enjoy an evening to themselves while their children have their own special kind of fun. Camp Dolphin, located on the lower level of the Dolphin building, is designed just for kids ages 4 to 12.

The concept of a kids club in a large resort is not foreign to my own kids, who have enjoyed themselves at The Sandcastle Club at Disney's Beach Club on several occasions. Until recently, they had yet to visit Camp Dolphin, though. Their opportunity came last weekend when my husband and I attended the Food and Wine Classic at the resort.

Camp Dolphin operates a little differently than kids clubs in other Disney World hotels. That's because the Swan and Dolphin belongs to the Westin hotel chain, even though it is located on Walt Disney World property.

There are similarities, though. Both experiences begin with parents making reservations for their children, though the clubs will take walk-ups if space is available. Camp Dolphin opens at 5:30 p.m. each day, an hour later than the Disney World clubs, but they all close when Cinderella's coach turns into a pumpkin (which we all know is midnight).

Miss Thelma

Perhaps the most obvious comparison comes when families see the physical size of Camp Dolphin -- it's quite small compared to The Sandcastle Club. Camp Dolphin can accommodate up to 18 children with two counselors present. Thelma, who has been a camp coordinator at the Dolphin for 19 years, explained that during busy periods, such as holidays, the camp moves to one of the ballrooms.




Still, Camp Dolphin has all the basic components for kid fun: Video games, movies, crafts and counselors who will supervise and entertain youngsters in an environment where parents will not worry about their well-being. On the night my children visited, the theme for the crafts was "A Very Merry Unbirthday," which included card-making and birthday tiaras for the participants. Blackout Bingo was played for prizes, and when we arrived to pick up our children, they were just settling down with a mound of pillows for movie time.

Dinner at Picabu

Dinner is included for children who are in Camp Dolphin from 7 to 8 p.m. Counselors take the kids to nearby Picabu (Peek-A-Boo) restaurant, where the meals they have pre-selected from a menu of traditional kid favorites, such as cheeseburgers, mac and cheese, chicken fingers and hot dogs, are served. Then, they are treated to ice cream from The Fountain ice cream shop. (At The Sandcastle Club, parents help children place dinner orders when they are dropped off and the meals are served in the club. They are served cookies and milk later in the evening.)

Ice cream from The Fountain

Pricing varies slightly between the five Disney World kids clubs and Camp Dolphin, as well. At The Sandcastle Club, parents pay $11.50 per child per hour, with a two-hour minimum. At Camp Dolphin, the price is $10 per child per hour with no minimum. Plus, each adult who orders an entree at Shula's Steak House, Todd English's bluezoo or Il Mulino New York Trattoria in the hotel earns two complimentary hours for a child at Camp Dolphin. This offers also applies to an adult who purchases a spa service at Mandara Spa.

Our children enjoyed Camp Dolphin, and my husband and I appreciated the ease of checking them into a safe environment so nearby as we enjoyed what the resort had to offer. It's not hard to imagine that we will return, giving the kids a night out and enjoying the same ourselves.

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About Camp Dolphin

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Camp Dolphin category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Food & Wine Classic is the next category.

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