We recently attending the Tables in Wonderland Special Event at the Design & Display Warehouse… when we first decided to do this, we were a bit dubious that we’d see anything new because we’ve been in the Decorating Support warehouse twice during the Holiday D-Lights Tours (2010 and 2012)… however, this was in a super secret location located quite a distance from Walt Disney World property.
When Nick made the reservations, it was reiterated that PHOTOS WERE NOT ALLOWED… so, he didn’t bring his camera. Imagine our surprise when we arrived and there were people with great big cameras running around taking photos — grrrrr. We were told after arriving, that “oh no, photos are allowed in the office areas and you can even take photos of the buffet and the food, but you can’t take photos of the general warehouse…” BAD SHOW. If the rule is “no photos” then “no photos!!” There was a deputy sheriff in the buffet area, and although there were people running around with those big cameras, he told Nick that he couldn’t take photos. Everybody needs to get on the same page…
Anyway, we were offered wine or beer and time to look around the Imagineers offices before heading to the warehouse area…
The central area of the office was done in black & white, nora detected an homage to “Plane Crazy” -
There are five full-time Imagineers that work at the Design and Display Warehouse… We were able to take photos of their offices…
After a short reception in the office area, we were invited back into the warehouse. We had been given table assignments when we arrived, we sat at table #2 which was near the popcorn station and the dessert station. The theming on our tables was a big popcorn box, but the other tables had more interesting decor… The chairs were standard “convention dinner” chairs with cushions that weren’t well attached (nora had difficulty with hers). Although the promotional materials had desserts themed to Star Wars and a food station themed to Little Mermaid – apparently there was a dust-up and those two were swapped.
Okay! Now on to the food… We’ll start with the Popcorn Action Station (nora asked, “action station” means that they’re actively doing something to prepare the food for you). Also, the beer and wines that were available at the reception were still available in here.
We tried both the chowder (no photo though, it looks like creamy chowder) and the cerviche. The chowder was better than your average Walt Disney World soup, but it wasn’t OMG Amazing! Nora thought that the cerviche was really salty, there was too much chopped red pepper, and the seafood seemed cooked (as in treated with heat) – isn’t cerviche seafood that’s been cooked in a citrus acid? Nick liked the level of spice in the cerviche but wasn’t a fan of the corn nuts. Overall, these two items were just “eh”
Next up was the Tron Chilled Action Station…
First off, the Trio of Flavors was just strange… starting at the bottom, there was a little gelatinized disc and some pink fruity sauce (yuck in terms of texture and taste); next was a cocktail with tonic and tapioca like things floating in it that you couldn’t see (this was super yuck in terms of taste and especially texture, nearly made nora gag), and lastly there was a spoon with strawberry pop rocks on it (this was the best of all 3, but not sensational by any means). This trio of flavors was just yuck.
The Heirloom Tomato Disc is basically a caprese salad… so, it had potential. We agreed that the tomatoes were mushy and the mozzarella was basically flavorless. The description doesn’t mention the olive oil, there was plenty of that. Another ugh…
Next up was the Star Wars Action Station… originally, this was the Little Mermaid Action Station and was to include:
- Nori “Sea” Salted Kale Chips
- Baked Indian “Ocean” Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges
- “Under the Sea” Conch Roll (Conch Fritters served in Bun with Lettuce and Key Lime Aioli)
It still included those items, but they were renamed…
We both liked the Kale Chips quite a bit, would have liked to have more than two… The sweet potato wedges would have been very nice except that were coated in black pepper. The pickles were the quick homemade kind – could have benefited from some vinegar and salt. The sandwich? Well, the fritters weren’t crispy at all, in fact they were soggy and contained WAY TOO MUCH filler… shouldn’t even call them fritters. This station was disappointing, except for the kale chips.
Next up, last one before dessert… the Good versus Evil Action Station.
- Medley of “Good” Greens and Vegetables served with “Evil” Bloody Mary Vinaigrette
- “Good” Roasted Marble Potatoes with Seared Beef Medallion and “Evil” Red Wine Demi
- Creamy “Good” Sweet Polenta with “Evil” Shrimp Fradiavlo
- “Evil” Charred Flatbread with “Good” Butter
We liked the salad and the bloody mary vinaigrette dressing. Nora thought that the potatoes were good (how can you mess up potatoes? undercook them). The flatbread was mostly uneaten, just wasn’t worth the calories. The steak was okay, not overcooked but it seemed to be one of those cuts that was a little too chewy. The shrimp were the hit of the evening thus far, they were very spicy and yummy.
So, so far, we like the cerviche okay, the kale chips, the salad, and the shrimp. Not a bad tally for the two of us at a buffet.
Now, on to DESSERTS!
The cookie was nothing to write home about (again, maybe we’re spoiled by Nora’s baking). The cupcake was very good – the cake was nice and moist and the flavorings in the icing paired well with the cake (Nick ate TWO of these). The salted carmel crunch cake was just “eh.” The dark chocolate indulgence was nora’s favorite (of course) – it was like a rich chocolate mousse topped with a dark chocolate ganache.
One of the big draws for the rabid Disney World fandom is bound to be these cars from Mr Toad’s Wild Ride (we never rode it, thus we have no memories of it, and we don’t understand the mania for this attraction – you can put Horizons in the same category). These were set up as a photo op – you could climb in and get your picture taken.
Next up was the tour of the warehouse (no photos). Basically:
The Park Event Operations Design and Display team dreams, designs, and creates themed atmosphere settings for Conventions, Special Events, and many other activities throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. From concepts to renderings, through finished construction, the Design and Display team can bring any “theme” to life. They use their talent, experience, and design skills to design and build custom pieces for events. With hundreds of props, sets, and backgrounds in the warehouse, they create the perfect atmosphere and surroundings for events. This is your opportunity to peek “backstage”, and see historical Disney pieces like the Nautilus and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride! Come meet the Design and Display team, learn about what they do, and see all the props up close.
Our tour guide were Michelle and Vicky (you saw their offices earlier)… They led us through the stacks and explained what items were used for and how they were sometimes repurposed. There’s a very low level of organization in the warehouse – for example: there’s a basket set of shelves, there’s a set of shelves for tables, another for chairs, another for crates and boxes, etc… And no, there isn’t a computerized inventory that they can reference…
After the tour, we were taken to their conference room (OMG, I think that a lot of offices would go ga-ga to have this conference room, and YES this is what it looks like all the time!). It’s themed to “Alice in Wonderland”… here’s the doorway… After we got in there, we watched a video montage of things that this group has done in the past…
The best food – cerviche, kale chips, shrimp, and cupcakes!
This is only our second Tables in Wonderland Event – as they’ve become more popular, they’ve also become more expensive (ex: The Great Movie Ride Event) and we just don’t think that the really expensive ones are worth the $$ or the calories. Nora did learn that the pricing of these events is NOT set by Tables in Wonderland but is set by Food & Beverage. We know that the food for these events is prepared (for the most part) at the events kitchens at Epcot and then transported over – sorry that just isn’t worth $200 per head (again, The Great Movie Ride Event). This event was $115 per person, and given that it’s a backstage tour with food, that’s pretty reasonable for Disney World.
As we do more of the “behind the scenes” events and tours, we realize that even among the Disney World Fandom, we’re at the edge of the Bell Curve, we remember what we learn and we’re hungry for NEW stuff. We have to remind ourselves that our readers don’t always have the time or the resources to do these events, so hope you enjoy and we’ll work at not becoming jaded.
Lastly, we really admire this team of Imagineers for what they do and we love their motto…
“We might not shake the hands of our guests, but our work touches them all.”