On March 15th, Epcot introduced the “IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party.” For one hour prior to the start of IllumiNations, you get a selection of desserts from around World Showcase along with a limited selection of champagnes and sparkling wines, as well as coffee, tea and soft drinks. The cost for this event is $49 for adults, and $29 for children.
Desserts include Shortbread cookies from the UK, Tiramisu from Italy, Baklava from Morocco, and Chocolate Grand Marnier Vanilla pot de crème from France. There were also two specialty stations that were preparing churros and donuts cooked in Kahlua Coffee liqueur and Bacardi 151 Rum. Both of these desserts can be prepared without alcohol by request. Soft drinks in the form of water, iced tea and lemonade were served (no sodas) and coffee and tea were available as well.
Before I tell you what’s wrong with this event, let me start out by saying what’s right about it. First, the deserts were quite good – not the usual ‘we ran this through a flavor vacuum to ensure it was as bland as possible’ desserts that Disney is sometimes famous for. Also, the cast members working the party were outstanding. Accommodating, friendly and fun are some words best used to describe them. This is also a great space to watch IllumiNations from – located directly opposite the American Pavilion at the Epcot Showcase Plaza.
With that said, there were a few places where this event fell short. First, when receiving my confirmation for the event, we were told the event was held at World Showplace, which made no sense at all, since World Showplace is tucked back between Canada and the UK pavilions and is not a location where you can watch IllumiNations (this was the pavilion created for the Millennium celebration and is now used to host special events). Asking cast members in this area about the location of the dessert party was met with odd looks and lack of interest to find an answer. “I don’t know what you’re talking about” was the general response. No one picked up a phone, asked a supervisor or did anything else to help direct us to the proper location.
The ‘sparkling’ part of the dessert party consisted basically of the three cheapest sparkling wines / champagne they could find. My mother, who is no one’s definition of a harsh critic, said it was the worst glass of champagne she’d ever had. To quote her directly ‘it was disgusting.’ One person at the party was overheard asking whether or not this was a non-alcoholic champagne. No one thought this was ‘the good stuff.’
So, for $50 a person, you’re paying for some better-than-average desserts and a good place to watch IllumiNations. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth the expense. There are some great places to watch IllumiNations around World Showcase, and for $50 a person, you can buy some good champagne and desserts with money to spare.