Disney World’s newest attraction – Melbourne
Disneyland's newest attraction is Melbourne's graffitied lanes, shop-filled arcades and Queen Victoria Market.
A re-created cityscape is at the centre of the world's largest and longest food and wine festival, at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, using the setting to extend US perceptions of Australian cuisine.
Epcot International Food and Wine Festival director Nora Carey said an expected 1.3 million visitors came to taste a foreign food culture they would not normally receive.
"There's not a lot of people who go through the pain, the rigour (of travelling extensively)," she said. "To come here, for the six weeks, it gives them an insight into what the country is like."
In this new Melbourne, a market deli serves pepperberry-coated prawns, chilled barramundi, grilled lamb chops and wattleseed mousse. A Brunswick Street-style terrace outlet serves beer and a long wine-tasting bar introduces tourists to producers such as the Mornington Peninsula's T'Gallant Winery, Prancing Horse and Yabby Lake Vineyard.
By Disney's schmaltzy standards, the Melbourne set is understated. Lanes covered with graffiti art are filled with cafe tables, where people sit to eat tapas-sized meals.
Other nations and regions focus on their strengths. New Zealand offers a small hut serving scallops and meringues, while Louisiana has a Mardi Gras float, and permanent displays like that of France feature brasseries and a replica Eiffel Tower.
Victorian food and wine were popular yesterday, with long lines and strong bookings for wine seminars.
But the mix of local landmarks, including the CityLink "Cheesestick", Federation Square "cladding", large balls of string (used in a tourism marketing campaign) and a picture of the Twelve Apostles appeared to perplex many.
"That's north of Sydney, right?" said Florida native Tim Moore.
Retiree Mike Maloney of Tampa said he had been to all 13 festivals, sampling wines and beers from around the globe. "That is my number one reason why I come," he said.
Australia's food culture was a factor behind his impending overseas trip, he added. "No doubt about it."
Tanya Burrocks of Tampa said she enjoyed the food, but did not like Victorian red wines. "Not enough chocolate and coffee," she said. "What's with all the berry (flavours)?"
The venture will include seven famous food identities heading to Orlando next month for a gala dinner that will show off their skills. Executive chef of Grossi Florentino and Mirka, Guy Grossi, executive chef at The European Ian Curley, and Blakes Feasts caterer Andrew Blake are among those attending.
The festival's director was among a Disney contingent that travelled to Australia for five days this year, attending the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and eating at city restaurants Vue de Monde, Taxi, The European and The Lake House at Daysleford.
Chief executive of Melbourne's food festival, Natalie O'Brien, struggled to describe the scale of the Disney event.
"It's not like a tasting in a marquee. It takes you back to where that space is," she said. "You have a nori roll and the backdrop is a Japanese palace."