January 9, 2014
I’ve done several runDisney races but I don’t usually take part in many of the “extras” like the Pasta in the Park Party. I live pretty close to WDW so I have my car even when I opt to stay in one of the resort hotels. That means it’s pretty easy for me to go off property somewhere to eat or to pick up any items I need for the weekend. But, Marathon Weekend was a bit different in that I was going to be staying for more nights than usual and I had plenty of time to kill. I also knew most of my area friends wouldn’t be able to come hang out on a week night so hitting the Pasta Party sounded like a fun alternative to finding a nearby restaurant or eating at the hotel quick service.
The ticket for the Pasta Party was a bit on the pricey side at $55. But, it included entry into EPCOT and included premium viewing for the Illuminations show so, I went with it. After all, it’s part of the experience and I’ll do just about anything one time.
I checked into my hotel earlier in the day and had a little time to relax and nap before I had to get on the bus to the park. One of the greatest things about staying on Disney property is that I don’t have to use my car unless I really want to. Resort transportation is great; you get on and chill out and just enjoy your ride to your destination. Since there are thousands of runners in town for the weekend festivities chances are pretty solid that you’ll have at least one (or twenty) fellow runner headed the same way you are. Since I’m a chatty person, this is great for me. I love meeting new people and hearing the running stories or just learning where they’re from and what they do for a “regular” job. I got on the bus to EPCOT and there were a few other runners on board with me so we all chatted to pass the time.
We arrived at EPCOT and were directed to a side entrance off the main gate. The cast members were checking us in with our tickets and giving us a wrist band for entry into the Pasta Party. They gave us some directions of where to go and sent us on our way.
The Pasta Party is held in a banquet hall near the UK Pavilion. As soon as you walk in, you greeted by the sounds of the DJ playing dance tunes in the main hall. The entry hall area is where the buffet stations are set. There are a few stations on the left and right sides of the room so you can just walk up, grab a plate, and start making your way through the line. Sadly, when I got there, all of the stations were out of pasta (kind of ironic at a PASTA party). There were several other people waiting and we were told that it would be just a few minutes. Several minutes went by and we were told again that the pasta was coming. We continued to wait…
There were other things on the buffet; salad, roasted chicken (only dark meat), steamed green beans, and breadsticks. There was also some assorted fruits; mostly apples and bananas. And, there was pasta sauce, both red sauce and white sauce. But, still no pasta. It was about 15 minutes of waiting before the pasta was finally brought out and we were all able to fix our plates and move to the main dining area to eat.
I’m a finicky eater. I don’t like my food to touch and I hate to have salad on the same plate with hot food. Additionally, I don’t like when saucy foods run onto other foods. I miss being in school where we eat off of those handy divided trays. I wouldn’t be upset if restaurants went to those! So, to keep my food from all running onto my salad, I had to work my way through the buffet with two plates. I put my salad and breadsticks on one plate while my pasta with sauce, chicken, and green beans were on the other. I also had to grab my silverware but I was able to tuck that under my arm so I could go find a table.
The music in the main dining area was really loud. So, I tried to stay towards the back part of the room and away from any speakers. I found a table that had a few folks at it and asked if the empty seats were taken. They welcomed me happily so I put my plates down and made my way to the water station (I drink a lot of water before races; no alcohol and I try to keep soda to a minimum).
The food was just OK. It was lukewarm and the chicken was a bit greasy (it had the skin on it and as I mentioned before, only dark meat was offered). The pasta sauces were OK and the green beans were still a bit crunchy (which I prefer). It was marginal and I don’t think it was worth $55. But, I had some great company.
The group I happened to sit down with was really nice and they were all chatty people as well. I enjoyed talking to all of them. Two of us; myself and the guy sitting with us; were doing the Dopey Challenge while the four other ladies were taking on the Goofy Challenge. We chatted about everything from compression socks to training to corral placements and TV shows. It was a really nice time. One of the ladies even got up to find the restroom and when she came back, she had brought us all Mickey ice cream bars! Thanks new friend! I love ice cream!
There were some characters available for photos during the party as well. Dopey, Goofy, Donald, and Mickey and Minnie were all the characters that I saw during my time in the dining hall. Some of the lines were pretty long so we all sat around chatting. When the lines cleared out some, we walked over an were able to walk right up to get pictures. We timed it just perfectly too because the DJ made the announcement that we could all begin making our way out to the viewing area for Illuminations.
As I mentioned, the food wasn’t worth $55. Keeping that in mind, the viewing location was fantastic. I haven’t seen the Illuminations show in many years and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it from such a great location. Where we were standing, we didn’t miss anything! It was a great experience. I didn’t get any pics because my phone just doesn’t take great fireworks pics and well, I was too busy watching and enjoying to remember to take any!
After the Illuminations show, I walked with one of my new found friends back towards the front of the park to the resort buses. It was getting a bit late and those 3 AM wake up calls come very quickly and we both needed to get some sleep.
The Pasta in the Park Party was fun. I enjoyed it and I was glad I did it. That said, I wouldn’t spend $55 to do it again unless I had a friend who really wanted to do it. The food was marginal and while Illuminations was spectacular, I don’t need to see it again. If you haven’t done it before, I would certainly recommend doing it once. I had a great time chatting with the other runners and just hanging out. But, it is a pricey meal and for me, there wasn’t a lot of value.