Walt Disney World & World Travels

Archive for July 2009

I don’t go to Disney without a plan for each & every day.  Which park, what time we’ll go and where we’ll eat.  Plans are necessary to make sure you don’t miss out on important things (like eating) but every now and then you have to remember they’re not set in stone.  Flexibility and “go with the flow” have a place in the vacation as well. 

You’ve probably guessed by now that today was the day I threw the “plan” out the window and you’re right.  We had planned to go to Animal Kingdom for the afternoon & evening EMH but it just wasn’t “hitting” us this morning.  The kids were disappointed that they hadn’t been on Test Track and Soarin at Epcot.  I told them to go….  and they were out of the villa in less 10 minutes.

Jon & I were hungry and went down to the Marketplace.  We ordered sandwiches–roastbeef & brie and the turkey & diamond cheddar and a couple of bags of chips.  We decided to go eat by the Villas pool, so I ran up to the room, grabbed our books, bathing suits & drinks and met Jon at the pool.  This was so nice!  We had a table with umbrella, sat in the shade and enjoyed our picnic lunch.  Changed into our suits, read our books and occasionally jumped in the pool to cool off.  It was quiet and relaxing and overall, wonderful! 

Without looking at our watches, we could tell it was hitting 2-3pm because the families with small children were back from the park and headed to the pool.  We decided that ice cream was sounding good, so we packed up our stuff and headed to Stormalong bay.  I texted the kids and told them to head back, change into suits & to meet us at Beaches & Cream.  They were working on a surprise for Jon, but as soon as they had it, they met up with us.

Stormalong Bay was pretty busy, but we found 3 lounge chairs.  We decided to go check in at Beaches & Cream and see how long it would be to get a table –too hot for eating ice cream outside!  We were told 20-40 minutes and given a buzzer.  Great thing, the buzzers work all the way from the Yacht Club to the far end of the Beach Club!  We went back into the pool area and found an empty table with umbrella & four chairs!  Jon grabbed it and sent me to get our stuff from the other chairs.  I’m not sure how that happened…He sat at the table and I went and got our bag/noodles/towels etc.   I think he got the better end of that 😉  Shortly after that, the kids showed up and joined us. 

In no time at all the buzzer went off and it was time for ice cream.  I didn’t need a menu, I was having a  No Way Jose.  I had planned to get one last summer, but we ended up getting a Kitchen Sink.  Not this time!  Chocolate & Vanilla ice cream, peanut butter, hot fudge, chocolate & peanut butter chips, whipped cream & a cherry.  YUMMY!!!!!  It really doesn’t get better than this!  Megan got the  Fudge Mudslide  sundae.  Ooeey gooeey chocolately goodnesss!  Jason really wanted the Kitchen Sink again, so he and Jon decided to go for it: 8 scoops of ice cream, EVERY topping and a whole can of whipped cream.  When I say every topping, I mean every topping they use for all of the different sundaes/desserts.  Sprinkles, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, candied orange slice, bananas, milky way cake, brownies, angel food cake, milky way candy bar and so on.  It is decadent, delicious & disgusting all at the same time and supposedly serves 4.  When they bring it out, they flash the lights in the restaurant and make an announcement explaining what it is and then deliver it to the table.  It’s quite the production.   Meg & I finished our sundaes, the boys did the best they could but it was too much for the 2 of them.

We went back to the pool and spent the next several hours reading, floating in the lazy river and just relaxing.  It was a perfect afternoon!  Then the storms moved in and in a matter of minutes the lifeguards had cleared the pool & pool area.  It is really impressive to see how quickly the lifeguards can clear Stormalong Bay.  Looking at the sky we decided it was time to head back to the villa and think about what we wanted for dinner. 

The skies opened up, the thunder & lightning were really impressive.  We thought about running out for something to eat but another look outside and at the weather radar and we decided to order our cheapest meal of the week.  Pizza delivered from Papa John’s.  After the wonderful meals we’d had so far and the meals we were looking forward to on the ship, this was actually a great meal.  We ordered 3 pizzas for $7 a pizza.  We had soda & water in the room and didn’t need anything else.  We played cards (always pack a deck of cards) watched some TV and just relaxed.  It wasn’t a typical last night at the World, but it was a good one.

In the past the Magic Kingdom was –hold on to your hats– not our favorite park.  I know, I can hear the gasps of shock.  When the kids were little, the Studios had the characters the kids knew.  Magic Kingdom had Tweetle Dee & Tweedle Dum.  Now that they’re teens/tweens and like to stay up late, we’ve found ourselves spending more time at the Magic Kingdom enjoying the late hours at the park.  Tonight is our 3rd trip to the Magic Kingdom this week.

After the kids left us at Epcot they stopped at the Polyensian Resort and grabbed their dinner at Captain Cooks.  Both had flatbreads – Hawaiian for Meg & cheese for Jason and really liked them.  They love using the kiosk to order because it’s quick & easy.  In no time at all they were back on the monorail headed to the Magic Kingdom.

Jon & I caught a bus from the Beach Club to the Magic Kingdom.   There were four women on the bus already and after we pulled away from the Beach Club they asked the bus driver what the easiest way to get to Epcot would be, because they had been waiting at the Yacht Club for an Epcot bus for over 30 minutes and gave up.  They had decided it would be easier to take a MK bus and then monorail to Epcot.  The poor bus driver didn’t seem to have the heart to tell them that they could & should have walked or taken a Friendship to Epcot from the Yacht Club; that there is no bus to Epcot from the Yacht & Beach Club.  If they had asked when they got on the bus, it would have been simple to have them get off at the Beach Club, but it was too late now.  I would guess that they were lucky if they got to Epcot by 9:30pm.

We arrived at Magic Kingdom just after 9pm and got caught in the SpectroMagic crowds.  It was not pleasant!  Jon & I ended up going thru Tomorrowland to avoid the crowds.  As we went thru Stroller land we rode Snow Whites Scary Adventure.  I remember it making Megan scared when she was little, but I just find it funny.  We made our way to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, got fast passes and then went over to Pirates.  Walked on Pirates and Jungle Cruise, went back to BTMR and used our fast passes.  We managed to ride just about everything except for Splash Mountain, which broke right before we got in line.  We joined up with the kids, and made our way back to Fantasyland where we stopped for Jason to ride Teacups & me to ride Pooh Bear 🙂 

Maybe because it was late, I don’t know, we decided to go to Mickey’s Toontown Fair and  ride Goofy’s Barnstormer.   This had been Jason’s 1st “rollercoaster” when he was little, and I hadn’t been on it since.  It takes longer to walk through the queue than the ride –which is all of 38 seconds.  Early in the morning,  (way back  in the Epcot blog), Jason had decided to have his picture taken with as many princesses as possible, so he and Jon ran into the Toontown Hall of Fame to see if they could catch them before they left.  Meg & I sat and rested our tired feet and a little while later the guys came out smiling.  They had a great experience and recomend that anyone that wants pictures with princesses or fairie should come here. There is a Princess line and a Fairy line.  Some of the things they liked: it’s inside (air conditioning), there are benches along the way, each Princess has her own “tent” and you get some 1 on 1 time to visit with her.   It was around midnight and he got his picture with Belle, Aurora & Cinderella!

Calling it a successful night, we headed out and managed to catch a bus right away. 

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Late nights and early mornings don’t go together in my family….. I’m not great at sleeping in, but Jon & the kids tried to catch up on some sleep.  We got a late(ish) start to the day and arrived at Epcot around 11:30.  Ready for lunch, we decided that Les Chefs de France sounded good and hopefully we could see Remy from Ratatouille.  We walked over to France, only to realize the restaurant doesn’t open until noon.  They did tell us that they had quite a few openings and that it shouldn’t be a problem to get a lunch ressie.   Great, but what do we do for the next half hour?  We walk back over towards the UK and go the the Kim Possible mission kiosk to sign up for our mission.  We were given a slip that told us to be in Norway at 12:45.  We were told it would be allright to be late since we were on our way to lunch first. 

Back to France and we stopped for a picture with Belle.  Jason decided to try to get his picture taken with all of the Princesses and stared with Belle.  Just after 12:00pm there was a line at Les Chefs de France.  Thankfully it wasn’t a problem and we were told we’d have a table in about 10 minutes.  Not even 10 minutes had passed when we were seated for lunch.  Most of us were excited about eating here for several reasons; Meg took French 1 & 2 freshman year and has 3 & 4 coming up this year, we had a very good meal here before and Remy is here during lunch!  Never in my life did I think I would get excited (in a good way) about a rat in a restaurant, but everything I’ve heard says this is gonna be good!

Before we ordered, Jon instructed our server to only speak in French to Megan so that she could practice.  It was a little awkward at first, but she relaxed as the meal went on and I think she got a lot out of it.  Now what are we going to eat?  Jason was starving and caught between the kid & adult menu.  He ended up trying the friand au fromage (cheese puff pastry) appetizer from the kids menu and the Mac & cheese from the adult menu.  The cheese puff pastry was good, but it was served way to0 hot.  Even after it had been cut open and sat there for a few minutes it was still too hot to taste the cheese.  By the time it had cooled enough to taste it, he had lost interest in it.  Megan went with the recommendation of our server and got the Crepes Basquaise – large crepe filled with smoke chicken strips, onions & peppers, grilled and served with a salad.  When the menu said “large crepe” it wasn’t kidding, this was huge and very filling.  I got a small bite and it was very good.  Jon & I both ordered off the Prix Fixe 3 course meal for $20.  Jon chose the lobster bisque, the Croque monsieur et sa salade verte – classic French toasted ham and cheese sandwich with a green salad and the creme brulee.  I chose the french onion soup, Quiche Lorraine & the profiteroles au chocolate.  Jon really liked his lobster bisque and it had large chuncks of lobster in it.  He loved his Croque monsieur.  The french onion soup was good, but like the cheese puff pastry it was too hot to enjoy or taste.  I had the same issue the last time I ate here.  The quiche made a very nice light lunch.  When it was time for desset, we looked at the menu and everything sounded good.  The kids ordered the crepe with cinnamon, apple, vanilla ice cream & caramel sauce and a chocolate cake with chocolate mousse, coconut ice cream and orange something (it’s not what’s the allears menu now).  These along with the profiteroles & creme brulee were shared by all of us.  They were all excellent!  The profiteroles are cream puffs stuffed with vanilla ice cream and covered with the most wonderful chocolate sauce.  I really considered licking it off the plate, it was that good!  Creme brulee had a nice crust with a light inside.  I don’t usually like creme brulee but this one I did.  The coconut ice cream was very light and refreshing, the cake with it was very good.  How do you go wrong with apples & ice cream in a crepe?  It was yummy and the caramel sauce was very good (but not as good as the chocolate sauce).

Now you’re sitting there thinking hmmmmm wasn’t Remy supposed to come by during lunch?  Well yes he did and he’s getting his own paragraph.  While we were eating, a woman came through the restaurant pushing a cart.  When she stops at your table, she lifts the lid and ta da, there’s Remy.  He moves and “talks” -Remy squeaks and his handler interprets.  This was amazing!  The imagineering that went into this is unbelieveable.  He looks at you and responds to what you say.  Remy wished us a Happy Anniversary when he saw our buttons and asked how many years we had been married. He spent a lot of time at our table and kept looking at Jason. His handler was ready to leave when Remy had a question for Jason.  Because Jason’s hair was “standing on end” and purple, Remy wanted to be sure that he hadn’t “frightened” him.  Remy explained that usually when people saw him and their hair stood up it was because they were scared.   Once Remy had been assured that Jason chose the purple hair and was not scared, Remy said Au Revoir and moved on to visit with other families.  All I can say is that this was just too cool!

After lunch we made our way around the World Showcase to Norway so we could start our Team Possible misson.  We checked in at the kiosk and our team leader Jason was given a “Kimmunicator” (aka a Verizon cell phone) and we were told to leave the area and then check for our assignment.   When you open the Kimmunicator you get a message from Wade, explaining how to use the Kimmunicator and then part one of the mission.  We followed directions and found our first location, got the next clue and moved on.  We were back and forth all over the Norway pavillion, even had to use a “secret code” with a cast member to get our next clue at one point.  Occasionally we would get messages from Kim and even Ron.  When we were done, we had the option of taking another mission or turning our Kimmunicator in to a secret drop box.  We went on to complete missions in Mexico, China (both with Jason, no Meg) and the United Kingdom (by ourselves).  This is a great way to spend time exploring the countries  and the technology is pretty darn cool.  Even Jon the techie was impressed, and that’s not easy to do!

During the day the kids dropped out one by one.  Meg went back for some pool & relaxation time, Jason stayed with us for awhile and we tried out some new exhibits at Innoventions.  The Waste Management exhibit/game is fantastic!  I admit, I thought it was going to be a waste of time but it was really well done and we all had fun.  The Great Piggy Bank Adventure was also fun and could help younger kids understand “saving” a little better. 

After Jason left, Jon & I finished up with a Kim Possible Mission in the UK, where we also tried some hard cider.  Jon bought a Woodpecker & Strongbow and had me try both to see which one I liked better.  They were both good, but I really liked the Strongbow.  We drank those while we finished Kim Possible and caught the end of the British Invasion performance.  Then we grabbed another Strongbow and  went to the American Garden theater to watch 52nd Street – a Billy Joel tribute band.  By the time we got to the theater, the kids had texted to tell us they were on their way back to Epcot.  I’m not sure what the kids did (think they went to the Land), but we had a great time at the show.  The band was great and it was a beautiful, but hot afternoon/evening.

We met up with the kids after the show and we went to Spaceship Earth, it’s just something that we always do.  The crowds were building at Epcot, Test Track had broken down, and there were no more fast passes for Soarin’.  We decided that we would go back to Magic Kingdom instead of staying for Epcot evening EMH.  The kids went out and took the monorail so they could get there fast and have dinner there.  Jon & I had really wanted the fish & chips at Harry Ramsden’s (UK counter service) so we walked back there, got our food and sat down in a garden in the UK and thourghly enjoyed our meal. 

Earlier in the day I had tried a Peach Snap in China, had my Strongbow in the UK, but a trip to Epcot is not complete without a Grand Marnier slushie.  We wandered over to France and got our slushies, and enjoyed every last little bit!  These are just too good!  Around 8pm we ran back to the villa to drop off a few things and then caught a bus to the Magic Kingdom to meet up with the kids.



We arrived at the Studios almost ready to eat again.  Our favorite restaurant at Disney is the Hollywood Brown Derby.  We have had great meals with excellent service every time we’ve been there and tonight was no exception. 

The kids got to the restaurant 1st and checked us in for dinner.  We were seated a few minutes later.  Then for some unknown (at least to me) reason, we were asked to move to a different table.  It was very odd, but we were very happy with our new booth.  Tonights dinner is our “anniversary dinner” so we ordered the Fairytale champagne to celebrate and then ordered our appetizers.   Jon & I ordered the Cobb salad for our appetizer and Megan ordered the chicken corn chowder to start.  Jason didn’t want anything.   While we were waiting on our appetizers, our server came out with a camera and asked to take our picture.  Our server asked how long we had been married and Jon answered “18 to life”; smart aleck….  

For our entrees, I got my usual; the Salmon with marscapone polenta, gorgonzola and balsamic glaze with an olive tapenade.   I love this and have ordered it more times than I can count.  It’s usually cooked pretty “well” so I ordered it to be cooked “more rare”, Jon spoke over me and said “make it rare”.  I wish he hadn’t because it was a little too rare, but still very good.  The polenta was still the best part of this dish! Delicious!  Jon & Megan both got the Ahi Tuna and it was very good (I would have tried some, but there wasn’t any left).  Megan really liked the wasabi sauce that came with it.  No one is as predictable as Jason at the Brown Derby, he ordered the kids hot dog meal.  In the past he always said it was the best hot dog on property, this year it lost out to Casey’s.  It might have held on to 1st place, but they served it on a whole wheat bun. YUCK !  White wheat would have been a good choice if you had to try to make a hot dog “healthy”, but a whole wheat bun for a hot dog?  What’s the point?! 

Time for my favorite part of any meal; dessert!  Jason’s predictability continued with the Hidden Treasures dessert on the kids menu.  Not that I can say much because the rest of us ordered our usuals.  Meg & Jon both got the famed Grapefruit Cake and I got the flourless chocolate cake.  Having had this many times before, I knew the minute it was placed in front of me that they had changed it.  It used to be served with a Port sauce, now it’s a red wine sauce; similar but not the same.  There used to be creme fraiche and lots of berries; now it’s served with a carmel ice cream and a couple of berries.   Admittedly I am a person that does not accept change readily, and while this was  still a good dessert it’s not as good as it used to be.   While we were eating, our server brought out 2 glasses of champagne (on the house!) and a Hollywood Brown Derby menu with our picture and “love story” printed inside!  It was very cool souvenir!

I wish that the hot dog still had a white bun and the chocolate cake went back to the old recipe, but all in all this was still an excellent meal and service was top notch.  We will be back!

Stuffed after that meal, we weren’t ready to ride anything too exciting……We tried to catch the next showing of the Little Mermaid but missed out by 4 people.  Instead of waiting for the next show, we headed down to Toy Story Midway Mania.  The standby line had an 80 minute wait, good thing we had grabbed fast passes this morning!  In no time at all, we were riding and playing.  This ride is hilarious!  You sit in the car wearing 3D glasses and it takes you from game to game.  These are virtual games, you aim your spring action virtual shooter & it shoots different things at each game (throws pies, arrows to pop balloons, etc).  Then in a whirly twirly crazy carnival ride way it moves you to the next game.   I did better than the last time I played, but still lost to Jon (although my score blew away the kids!).  This is a fun ride! 

We wandered the Streets of New York and San Fransisco;  and then to save time and hit the attractions that everyone wanted, we split up.  Jon & Megan went to see Muppet Vision 3-D while Jason & I went on Star Tours.  Wait times for both were practically nothing and we met back up in no time.  Feeling the effects of a long day, we slowly wandered over to Little Mermaid and then called it a night. It was around 11pm, and we’d had a full day.  As we walked out of the park there was a Friendship waiting to take us back to the Beach Club Villas.

 We walk into the park quickly make our way to our 1st and most important destination of the day: Harmony Barber Shop.  There was a little bit of a wait, so Jon & Jason stayed there while Meg & I went to grab Fast Passes and something to eat. 

We checked the time board and everything was under 30, most 20 minutes or less.  Since we had missed Jungle Cruise last night we decided to get FP’s for that (and it has a line that can get very hot), grabbed the FP’s, did some “window” shopping in Adventureland–saw some really cute sundresses and good prices.  Now it was time for food and we were looking for a breakfasty snack….hello Main Street Bakery!

You can smell the yumminess from Main Street, walk thru the door and it’s heaven!  They make the best cinnamon rolls!  They’re huge, soft & doughy with lots of cinnamon and gobs of YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY icing!  My only other request had been the french toast loaf, but sadly they haven’t brought it back yet.  I keep hoping that if everyone asks for it enough, they’ll put it back on the menu….We ordered 2 cinnamon rolls and a couple of drinks and headed back to the barber shop with our morning snack.  Meg & I sat on a bench outside the barber shop and shared 1 cinnamon roll, leaving the other one for the boys.  While we ate, we saw them hook up one of the horses to the Trolley and take it out.  Very cool!  We saw several little ones come out of the shop after getting their 1st hair cut.  The moms had the certificates and the hair clipping along with the special Mickey ears; and they looked so happy.  Then my child came out, Mr Purple Mohawk.  Yep, a purple mohawk- real not faux.  Last year he did blue, this year purple for his school colors.  He was very happy and loved all of the attention the rest of the day!  The boys sat down and ate their cinnamon roll and then we lucked out and the Dapper Dans barber shop quartet.  These guys are great, and put on a good show.  After enjoying a song, we headed over to Jungle Cruise because it was time for our Fast Passes.

We had a strange experience on JC this time, we got to the front of the line and they asked “how many in your party”. I said 4 and she split us 2 & 2.  Ok, that’s fine but when they loaded the boat Meg & I got on but Jon & Jason got held to the next boat.  It wasn’t a big deal, but I was a little annoyed until our Skipper Samantha got started and then all was good.  It is one of the silliest/lamest/corniest rides around and it’s still one of my all time favorites.  I can’t help it, I love the corny jokes.

After Jungle Cruise we went to see the Monsters Inc. Laugh Factory (our other requirement of the day).  Very funny and interactive.  Before you go, think of some good jokes.  When you’re in line you’ll get directons on how to text a joke in for the show, and they use some of them.   We all laughed a lot and then it was time to leave and/or get some lunch.

It was an awkward time, 1:30 ish and we had dinner plans at Hollywood Brown Derby at 6:15pm.  This was the dinner we were most looking forward to so we didn’t want to be full from a late lunch; but we didn’t want anyone to “crash” and be grumpy & sick.  We stopped at City Hall to see if we could change the time of our dinner reservation, but they didn’t have any other times available.  We considered a few other ideas (snack at one of the monorail resorts, etc) and then decided to see if we could get into Tony’s Town Square Restaurant.  This was kind of shocking, we walked up and were seated within 10 minutes!  This was also a 1st for me, I’ve been to most of the Disney restaurants but this was my first time here.

The restaurant is really pretty, in the waiting area there are velvet covered chairs and a TV showing ‘Lady & The Tramp’ of course!  We were seated in the solarium (sun room).  It was very pretty, very bright & a tad warm.  We were happy when some cloud cover came over.  We all ordered different things (hoping to taste all of them).  Since flatbreads were on the menu, Jason asked if he could get a cheese flatbread and was told they’d take care of it 🙂  Megan went with the Spaghetti & Meatballs (just seemed like the right choice), Jon had the meatball submarine sandwich and I got the eggplant catasta (stacked layers of eggplant, carmelized onions, mozzerella, parmesan & marinara sauce served over penne pasta).  Jason devoured his flatbread, declaring the best.  Meg loved her spaghetti & meatballs and could not finish the whole plate.  The meatball sub was great and had wonderful sweet carmelized onion on it, it was very messy but very good!  The eggplant catasta was wonderful!  I was very happy with it, the eggplant was crisp but tender (not chewy) the onions were sweet as can be and the sauce was delicious.  I couldn’t finish it, but there wasn’t enough for leftovers.  I’m really happy that we tried Tony’s and it was excellent!  It was also a pretty good value, all lunch entrees were under $17.

Time to head back to the villa and rest for a bit before going back to the Studios for evening EMH.

Monday morning and we still had several things we wanted to do at the Magic Kingdom, & our afternoon/evening plan was for Disney’s Hollywood Studios with dinner at the Hollywood Brown Derby.  Here’s a plan, we’ll take a Friendship over to the Studios and get fast passes for Toy Story Midway Mania; then catch a bus to the Magic Kingdom.

It started well, caught a boat without much wait and made it to the Studios.  Went and got FP’s for Toy Story Midway Mania (they were for mid-afternoon), crowds weren’t too bad so we started to rethink our plans and considered staying at DHS but decided to stick with the plan and head to MK for Jason’s haircut. 

We walked out of the park and went to the Contemporary/Poly/Grand Floridian bus stop.  The Contemporary Resort is right next to the Magic Kingdom and you can walk or take the monorail from there.  Very quick and easy.   There was a bus at the stop next to us headed for the TTC (Ticket & Transportation Center)  We wanted to avoid dealing with the longer lines there (everyone from offsite visiting the MK goes thru the TTC), so when the Bus Driver offered us a ride there, we declined.  We waited for a Contemporary bus, and waited and waited and waited.  Then a bus manager came by and told us that we needed to get in the TTC bus line because they don’t run regular resort busses from the park that early–guess they don’t expect too many people to leave the park at 10am.   That other TTC bus that offered us a ride had left 15  minutes before this.  UGH!  Another 5-10 minutes later and we got a bus to the TTC.  Once at the TTC we decided to take the monorail, the “express monorail” (direct to MK) had HUGE lines, we walked past those to the resort monorail.   Walked right up to the platform and 2 minutes later a monorail pulled up we walked on and were on our way. 2 quick stops at the Poly & GF and then we were at the Magic Kingdom!

Our plan to run to DHS real quick and then to MK was a little longer than we had expected.  It was 11:15am by the time we got to MK and we had left the Beach Club around 9am.  We lost a good bit of time waiting for the bus; but we did get the fast passes for Toy Story and that ride has a habit of running out of FP’s and long wait times, so all in all I think it was worth it.

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