The biggest draw for us on our recent trip to Walt Disney World was a chance to experience the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. But when Disney announced the Highway in the Sky Dine Around, we knew that dinner via the monorail would perfectly complement our time tasting around the world.
The Highway in the Sky experience is a progressive dinner via the monorail. It begins at the Contemporary Resort, with the monorail then jetting you off to the Polynesian Village and Grand Floridian before returning to the starting place for a private viewing of the Happily Ever After fireworks show over the Magic Kingdom. Along the way, you will travel in a private monorail car which awaits you at each stop.
We made our reservations in July for a late-September experience. The reservations fill up fast and most dates sell out in a matter of days after Disney posts them. The dinner is a bit on the pricey side: soon to be $170 per person, which includes food, cocktails, and wine over the course of 4-ish hours. This includes gratuity but not tax.
To wrap up in time for an 8 pm fireworks show, we needed to be at The Wave at 4:45 pm. The group itself was around 25 people, and my husband and I (both in our 30s) were the youngest, but we made friends throughout the evening and the three cast members accompanying us made it clear that in addition to sampling delicious treats, the event encourages you to mix and mingle with new people.
Our first two stops set the tone for the evening; each one included one or two food courses and a drink. At The Wave, we enjoyed a tomato bisque and delicious, bite-sized goat cheese grilled cheese along with a cocktail, the Bay Lake Sunset. At the Polynesian, we gathered in a roped-off open space outside Kona Café where we got a Mai Tai along with a beet salad, spicy tuna roll, and pork belly.
Our experience reached a crescendo at the Grand Floridian, where we were ushered into the Garden View Tea Room with a sparkling wine and cheese pairing. We then migrated to Citricos, enjoying “surf and turf” consisting of halibut, short rib, and a wine pairing. Here you are offered white or red, but I asked to do a half glass of each, which the server happily poured.
I thought we would be watching the fireworks from California Grill, but in fact, they set up a private viewing area on a 2nd or 3rd floor balcony of the Contemporary. There, we enjoyed flourless chocolate cake, orange cake, and unlimited aperitifs (Kahlua, Bailey’s, and Frangelico). The music from the show was piped in as the fireworks flashed above Cinderella’s Castle.
Although the event officially ended shortly following the fireworks, a small group of us stayed on the deck chatting and finishing our drinks as the cast members said goodbye and the rest of the group departed.
So, I’m sure your big question is: was it worth it? As food and drink aficionados, this was worth the value we paid (which was only $150 p/p at the time). But if you abstain from alcohol, I don’t think this is the event for you. You can probably create your own dine around without liquor for far cheaper. There were also no food allergies in our group but they can be accommodated. General food substitutions cannot.
Would I do it again? That is a tough one given the price. This was a magical experience and I recommend it to anyone who is interested, but I feel this is kind of a one-and-done adventure. If the route somehow changed or the food courses were dramatically different, then I would consider it again (I should note that in reading other reviews, the menu seems to have changed slightly since launching in late 2016).
As it stands, I will mark this culinary event as one for the magical record books.