2022 Summer Disney and Universal Trip (and FOOD) Report

Back to Disney we go! And let’s throw in Universal for good measure!

We had had a wonderful spring break trip just this past April but of course I still wanted to go back. I had booked a good deal for the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista a year ago (for just in case :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:) as I had always wanted to try these “good neighbor” hotels that are considerably cheaper than Disney resorts. Plus, this Hilton is the closest in walking distance to Disney Springs, giving me the perfect opportunity to hit my vast DS dining bucket list.

DH, DD13, DS10, DMIL, and I set out on an early morning flight out of NYC. As we were still waiting to take off at 7am, I logged into MDE to try grabbing LLs for the afternoon. Alas, almost all of HS LLs were still solidly in the AM, the outlier being, of course, SDD. However, I wanted to concentrate my G+ days on grabbing LLs that appealed to our entire group as DMIL would not be joining us 3/7 park days. I grabbed a late afternoon SDD in a panic (as it felt weird to not grab a LL) and then canceled it, thinking it would make it faster for me to grab what I actually needed (MFSR or MMRR) when our flight landed around 9:30am. But when we landed, the LLs I needed still hadn’t advanced far enough for my needs. I was then kicking myself for not keeping the SDD as I would’ve been eligible for my next LL grab anyway by the time the MFSR/MMRR LLs had advanced far enough. As Homer would say, “DOH!”

After a stop at baggage claim (I really miss Magical Express :cry:), we took a Lyft to the Hilton. While waiting for our Lyft, I obsessively refreshed MDE to watch it very S L O W L Y advance my coveted LLs to a time I could use- 1:25pm MFSR! And miracle of all miracles, our Junior Suite was actually ready shortly after we checked in even though it was only 11am or so!

Pros of the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista:

  • An extremely easy and quick walk to DS Marketplace. You just walk over 2 pedestrian bridges that are above the roadways and bam, you’re in DS within 5 minutes. Granted, most of the best dining options are farther down but I would say you could get to the West Side/Landing within 15-20 min depending on your pace.
  • We got a Junior Suite for considerably less than a standard room at a Disney Deluxe would cost. It included 2 double beds and a chaise (which should’ve been a sofabed but we wound up with one of the few Junior Suites with the chaise instead), as well as a writing desk AND a small dining table with 4 chairs around it.
  • Double sinks (awesome as we were a party of 5)
  • Chat feature in the Hilton app made it easy to request items
  • Free 2 water bottles and 2 coffees daily. They give you all the vouchers at the beginning of the trip so it was easy to redeem them at the grab-and-go spot. This was a much easier system than when we stayed at the Dolphin earlier this year. I think we were also entitled to 2 free bottles of water daily there but they didn’t make it clear how you were supposed to obtain them.

Cons of the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista:

  • Although the free bus shuttle did depart from our hotel as scheduled the 2 times we used it, it took us a LONG time to get to Epcot and MK. The buses are the big coach buses that Mears uses (in fact, it might’ve been a Mears) so they’re reasonably comfy. However, the bus first picks up at the Hilton across the street (Hilton Buena Vista Palace) AND each bus hits 2 parks. For instance, one bus takes guests to MK (via the TTC) and then Epcot while the other bus takes guests to HS and AK (I don’t know which order as we didn’t use it for those parks). For our Epcot trip, it took us almost an hour to get from our hotel to the front gates of Epcot (factoring in a bit of extra walking time as non-Disney buses are let out a bit farther down in the drop off areas). Similar with MK as you have to factor in the extra time it’ll take you to get from the TTC to MK front gates. For an Early Entry rope drop gal like me, this is a big deal breaker.
  • DH found the beds uncomfortable. The rest of us were fine with them so your mileage may vary. Also, they are double beds so they are smaller than the Queens in Disney Deluxes.
  • A lackluster grab-and-go counter service. They had very basic food options, which I guess made sense as most guests would just walk over to the nearby DS. But the one night I needed to grab food for DS10 (he hadn’t enjoyed our dinner in DS), they had run out of cheese pizzas and when I asked for a hot dog instead, the lady hesitantly said she could heat up some. None of the hot items were ready to go, making me think they hardly got ordered, which thus made me nervous about the freshness of the product. :grimacing:
  • Insufficient towel hooks and lack of a drying line in the bathroom. There was literally ONE towel hook. This made it very hard for us to dry our bath towels and our swimsuits.

After happily dropping off our luggage in our room and taking a quick tour of our suite, we walked over to the Polite Pig in DS. We had:


Slider Trio (Southern Pig, Low and Slow Brisket, and Fried Chicken)


Hop Salt Pretzel with Beer Cheese Fondue and IPA Mustard


BBQ Cheddar Brats and Crispy Brussel Sprouts


USDA Prime Brisket with a side of Mac and Cheese


Low & Slow Brisket Sandwich


And a surprisingly strong seasonal Melon Frozen Slush. I forget what alcohol was in it, but it packed quite a punch. Delicious but dangerous. :stuck_out_tongue:

As Disney does not provide bus service to the parks from DS (and the Hilton shuttle only runs buses to the parks once an hour between noon and 6pm), we opted for a Minnie Van to take us to HS. We had a great cast member who quizzed us on Disney trivia the entire ride. That was a fun way to start our trip. While leaving DS, my 2 hours were up so I was able to then grab a 2:25 MMRR.

Once in HS, we stopped by ABC Commissary for much needed cold drinks (Strawberry Lemonade Slush) and a dessert on our way to MFSR:


Tropical Tart (Mango Passion Fruit Curd filled Graham Cracker Tart with Whipped Raspberry Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, Toasted Coconut, and Dehydrated Strawberry and Passion Fruit)

After riding MFSR, we had to grab another frozen drink cuz we were all melting in the heat.


Pineapple Coconut Slushy


Frozen Iced Tea Lemon Peach


Frozen Cappuccino

After the above, we redeemed our LL for MMRR. After using my last booked LL, I obtained a 3:25pm for TSMM. While waiting for this LL time to open, I left my family to cool off on a bench inside Star Wars Launch Bay with their drinks while I walked around GE looking for additional Magic Shots. I also tried the Cold Brew Black Caf:

During this time, our TSMM LL converted to an anytime LL as the ride went down. I rejoined my family, now nicely refreshed. A few minutes later, TSMM was back up so we left Star Wars Launch Bay. Unfortunately, that’s when the skies opened up and it POURED for at least half an hour. We took shelter in the overhang near the currently defunct Voyage of the Little Mermaid and watched Disney Junior Characters scuttle inside amidst the downpour. When the rain finally lessened to a sprinkling, we walked over to Toy Story Land. The standby line said 60 min but it was a LIE. As we walked through the LL line, there was NO ONE in the standby queue, right up to the vehicles! We could’ve used standby and saved our LL for a second ride! grumble

After TSMM, we got a LL and rode ASS before heading out of the park. We could’ve easily grabbed a LL for ST but my family was beat from both the early rising that morning and the heat. At the park exit, I then discovered to my consternation that Disney no longer provided buses to DS (as they usually did pre-COVID after 4pm most days). To thus get back to DS, we chose to take the Skyliner to Caribbean Beach. We then wandered around lost in that vast resort while searching for a DS bus. We finally found a bus stop that WASN’T an internal bus stop and returned to DS.

At DS, we had dinner at D-Luxe Burger. It was the second to last day of the Flavors of Florida event, so we grabbed the specials:


Lime Garage and Orange Garage Burgers- both are Beef Patties with Citrus Braised Pork Belly and Pepper Jack Cheese. But while the Lime one had Lime Avocado Crema and a Fried Green Tomato, the Orange one had an Orange and Onion Marmalade. They actually tasted remarkably similar to me.

I also had the Orange Bird Milkshake while my son chose the Vanilla:

Good food to cap off our first day!

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I like the way you guys cool off, lots of yummy drinks!

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Love all the delicious beverage pics!

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All those yummy drinks!! Looking forward to following along.

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That barbecue looks delicious! I’ve always heard good things about Polite Pig but how do I go there when Homecomin’ is RIGHT THERE?!?

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Exactly! My family always went straight to Homecomin’ whenever we went to DS. But because we were staying at a nearby hotel with easy access to DS, I was finally able to convince them to try new places. :blush:

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Day 2: Epcot and AK

This was the first of 3 days where DH, DD13, DS10, and I were joining some friends on a VIP tour. The tour wasn’t starting till 10am so we took it fairly easy in the morning and tried out the free bus service from the Hilton. As previously mentioned, it took us quite a bit of time to reach Epcot. We arrived a few minutes after the start of Early Entry (unacceptable if I had been trying to rope drop headliners!) and walked leisurely towards France as we planned to eat breakfast at Les Halles. Just like in April, the opening times of Les Halles were still unreliable. Disney’s website stated that Les Halles opened at 8:30am that day. It did not. It opened a few minutes before 9am instead. Meanwhile, the website also stated that the To-Go option of the creperie opened at 10am. However, when we made our way to that area after breakfast at Les Halles, we saw that the creperie window was open for business before 10am. If I had known it was opening earlier, I would’ve opted to try the crepes instead. :frowning_face:

This is what we had for breakfast instead:


Pain Lard & Fromage (bacon and cheese roll) and Croissant Jambon Fromage (ham, cheese, and bechamel in a croissant)


For myself, I chose an almond croissant, which I quickly regretted. It was literally heavy (as if doused in oil), tasted wet, and not flaky at all. I wound up tossing it as I strongly suspected it was made wrong and I didn’t want to get sick. This was definitely a lackluster dining start to the day. To kill time before the tour, we walked around France and Morocco to look for hidden Remys for the Scavenger Hunt.

At 10am, we met up with our friends and the tour guide and started the day off with Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. We then walked towards the front of the park and knocked out Soarin’ and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. The latter made my friend, her young daughter, and me a bit dizzy/nauseous so we skipped the next ride on the tour (TT) to settle our heads/stomachs. I decided to settle my stomach by eating. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


The Fry Basket’s Adobo Yuca Fries with Garlic Cilantro Aioli was delicious and light. It actually did settle my stomach so go figure.

Following TT, most of the group that had ridden TT then proceeded to MS:Orange. At this point, my husband bowed out since MS:O had made him nauseous during his last ride on it. He joined my friend and I with this:


Flavors From Fire’s Smoked Corned Beef with Crispy Potatoes, Cheese Curds, Pickled Onions, and Beer Cheese Fondue

Following a final Epcot ride at FEA, the tour guide then drove us all to AK via a back entrance. En route, we placed a Mobile Order for Satu’li Canteen to save time. Or rather, I tried to but my cellular service was wonky the entire commute. I wound up only being able to complete the Mobile Order when we were directly in front of the restaurant. Thankfully, this was the only time Mobile Order gave me problems the entire trip. My family and I had the following:


A Pandoran Sunrise (tropical juices with Powerade Melon), Chili-Spiced Crispy Fried Tofu Bowl, a Chocolate Cake (with a crunchy hazelnut cookie layer, banana cream, and goji berries), and a “Teylu” All-Beef Hot Dog Wrapped in Dough


Combination Bowl and a Slow-Roasted Sliced Grilled Beef Bowl

Following lunch, we rode FOP and NRJ. Afterwards, we rode KRR, EE, and Dinosaur. Unfortunately (or fortunately, according to the kids), most of us got drenched during KRR. We still had not dried completely by the end of the tour. We therefore Lyfted back to the hotel first to shower and change before heading to dinner with DMIL at Jaleo. I was super excited to finally try this restaurant and it completely lived up to my expectations. I think aside from Homecomin’, it was one of the biggest DS hits with my family.

I started the meal off with a cocktail called Agua de Sevilla (Bourbon, cava, pineapple, sage, and orange bitters) while DH had a Jerez Old Fashion (Contradiction bourbon, Spanish Solera brandy, cinnamon, and fernet)

We then proceeded to share all of the following:


Endives with goat cheese, oranges, and almonds


Selection of Iberico Spanish cured meats


Jamon Iberico de Bellota


Fried Calamari


We had ordered a Kids Grilled Cheese for DS10, in case he didn’t care for the other food, but the Grilled Cheese wound up being one of the few foods that he DIDN’T like. DH and I thus split the Grilled Cheese to dip in the delicious sauce of the following:

Gambas a la Zahara (“head on shrimp with garlic and extra virgin olive oil prepared as Jose does in the summer”)


Croquetas de Pollo (traditional chicken fritters)


A plate of the seafood paella of the night


Charcoal grilled octopus with potatoes and tomato confit


Grilled flat iron steak with confit piquillo peppers


For dessert, we split the Selva Negra (Manjari 64% chocolate mousse atop a crunchy feulletine base with black cherry chocolate sponge cake and topped with chocolate glaze).

DS10 opted for a strawberry sorbet:

Even though we were quite stuffed from the delicious meal, I couldn’t pass up on getting ice cream from Salt & Straw since it was in the vicinity. I opted for a scoop of Panther Coffee Chocolate Tres Leches as none of the seasonal vegetable flavors appealed to me. :grimacing:

I can’t recommend Jaleo enough- the service was super friendly and helpful, the decor is beautiful and perfect for a date night, and the food was outstanding. Jaleo was a perfect way to end the day.

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Day 3: AK

We took a Lyft to AK and arrived a few minutes after Early Entry already started. That was not ideal for rope dropping FOP but I didn’t want to push my family too hard as we had had a very long day yesterday and Early Entry was at 7:30AM. Due to our “late” arrival, we were really far back in the long queue for FOP. It took us about 45 minutes to get to the Avatar matching room but it was, of course, still worth it. In fact, a few hours later, DH and I decided to buy an ILL to get one more FOP ride for the entire family.

At the 7am mark, I forgot that LL times are now more stable during the booking process. So when I clicked on the 8am LL for Safari, I was dumbfounded when it it finalized to the actual 8am time instead of pushing back to 8:30 or so like it used to. This was not ideal since I knew it was going to take us a while to get through the FOP queue and I had originally planned for us to do NRR as standby before heading to Africa. In the end, we decided to forego NRR to avoid cutting it too close to the end of our Safari LL return time. I’m aware that there is reportedly a 15 min grace period after your LL return time ends but neurotic me did not want to chance it, especially since my family preferred the Safari over NRR.

After we tapped into Safari, I booked a 10:20AM LL for EE. Since we had some time to kill before then, we had “breakfast” from Zuri’s Sweets Shop and Harambe Fruit Market:


Strawberry Rice Krispy Treat


Caramel Butter Bar

We also had a Mickey Pretzel (but of course!) before killing some more time by walking the quiet trail around the Tree of Life and stalking Kevin.

DH and DD13 rode EE with the LL while the rest of us chilled in Asia. Following their taps into EE, I booked us an almost immediate return time for Dinosaur. As we proceeded through Asia towards Dinoland, we caught some of KiteTails and obtained the last Super Zoom Shot that I was missing from our April trip.

Following Dinosaur, we walked back to Pandora and redeemed our ILL for FOP. On the way to Pandora, I joined the virtual queue for Nomad’s Lounge and kept my fingers crossed that the timing would work out. We were delayed while in the Avatar matching room but I had no idea if we were being called back to Nomad Lounge as my cellular service was non-existent in most of the FOP queue. As we were exiting FOP and re-entering cellular service coverage areas, I received a text that our table was ready and to return within 10 minutes. Problem was, that text was technically sent several minutes ago. I sent a text back explaining that we just exited FOP and that we would be there ASAP. Thankfully, our place in line was still honored by the time we arrived at Nomad’s Lounge and we were quickly seated.


Jenn’s Tattoo (Ketel One Vodka, Watermelon, Hibiscus, and Lime Juice) and Lamu Libation (Starr African Rum, Cruzan Banana Rum, and Guava Puree with Orange, Lime, and Pineapple Juices topped with Gosling’s 151 Rum)


Gobi Manchurian (Fried Cauliflower in Manchurian Sauce with Green Onions), Lobster Mac and Cheese, and Honey-Chili Glazed Pork Belly with a Chorizo and Cheese Biscuit, Soft-Poached Egg, and Tasso Gravy


Charcuterie


Tiffin Bread Service (Red Pepper Hummus, Spicy Coriander Yogurt, and Ginger Pear Chutney)


Churros with Vanilla Crema and Coffee Creme Anglaise

Unfortunately, DS10 didn’t care for the food from Nomad’s so we bought him a Na’vi-Sized Pretzel from Pongu Pongu. It came with a Beer Cheese Sauce.

We left AK around 1:30pm and Lyfted back to the Hilton. DH and DMIL rested in the room while I took DD13 and DS10 to the mostly empty pool. After the pool, all of us rested in the room for several hours before walking over to DS for dinner.


Chicken Guy’s Loaded Fries, which were smothered in SMC (Super Melty Cheese), chopped grilled chicken, bacon, and green onions.


A few of their famous Chicken Tenders and Fries with a load of sauces

And for dessert, a slice of Gideon’s Bakehouse’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake and several cookies


Key Lime Chocolate Chip


Cookies & Cream

Since we were passing Swirls on the Water on our way back to the hotel anyway :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:, I also got a Dole Whip Flight (Pineapple Vanilla, Lemon Blue Butter Cookie, and Watermelon)

We also refilled our Homecomin’ squeeze bottles with the Sweet Tea Shine and Strawberry Lemonade from their patio bar.

And then we waddled back to the Hilton to rest up for my favorite part of a Disney trip- a Food and Wine Festival smorgasbord day!

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Loving your report. “We rode a couple rides and whatnot, but look at all the glorious food and drinks”! :rofl:

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This is delicious. Just looking at it makes me hungry

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I was gonna say that too! I’m loving all the food detail :yum:

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Day 4: Epcot (and Food Festival galore)

We Lyfted to Epcot and arrived several minutes before Early Entry at 8am (YES!!!). At the 7am drop, I had booked an 8:30am LL for TT while DH obtained Boarding Group 53 for GotG with a predicted return time around 1pm. But by 9am, the predicted return time had changed to around 11am, which we sort of forgot. More on that later.

We rope dropped Soarin’ and then did SE on standby with a minimal wait. After tapping into our TT LL, I obtained a 12:15pm FEA LL. After TT, we shopped at the Creations Shop while I impatiently waited for the festival booths to open. At 10:30AM, several did so and I happily ate:


Mac & Eats’ Cowboy Mac and Cheese (with Smoked Pork Belly, Brisket Burnt Ends, Pickled Peppers, Onion Straws, and Barbecue Aioli)


The entire food menu from Flavors From Fire: Rocky Road Chocolate Cake, Banh Mi Bao (with Char-Grilled Asian Skirt Steak, Chicken Liver Aioli, Pickled Vegetables, and Cilantro), and the Smoked Corn Beef (again because it’s that yummy). DH also picked up a Saugatuck Brewing Company Bonfire Beer.

And yes, that IS a food tray. I take my food festival days VERY seriously. :joy:


Fry Basket’s Fry Flight (Sea Salt and Malt Vinegar Fries, Barbecued Bacon Fries, and Sweet Potato Casserole Fries with Candied Pecans, Toasted Marshmallow Cream, and Caramel Whisky) and the Adobo Yuca Fries (again). DH also picked up an 81Bay Brewing Co. Key Lime Lager.

We hadn’t yet received a notification about the GotG boarding group but I decided to check in MDE. Good thing I did as it stated that our Boarding Group was currently boarding and to return by 11:20am (it was 11:11am when I saw this message :grimacing:). DH was none too happy about doing the GotG attraction right then as he had just imbibed 2 beers and eaten. Thankfully?, he and DD13 had to wait about 30 min to board, giving him some time to digest. :sweat_smile: While they rode GotG, the rest of us waited with some cooling drinks. (DS10 and I were happy to have experienced GotG the other day but had no desire to repeat the nausea/headache).


Another Frozen Cappuccino and a Refresher from the Joffrey’s near Mission Space.

After DH and DD13 rejoined us, we all went to rest inside the AC comfort of the Odyssey Building. While the kids and DMIL sat inside, DH and I took the opportunity to obtain some more nearby food.


The Swanky Saucy Swine’s Soy-Glazed Sticky Ribs with Green Onions and Peanuts

We then proceeded into World Showcase, starting with Mexico, while looking for all the Remys. I was sadly too full to eat for the next few food booths. :cry: We rode FEA with our LL and shortly after, I booked a Remy LL for 5:20pm, estimating that we’d be in France around then. It was HOT so we took frequent AC breaks in the shops while traversing World Showcase. DS10 also enjoyed the small Viking Gods exhibit in Norway.

Even though I was too full to eat, that doesn’t apply to drinks and ice cream. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


Passion Fruit Bubble Tea from the China booth


Dole Whip Watermelon from Refreshment Outpost. This Watermelon was better than its counterpart at Swirls on the Water (way too artificial tasting) but it still wasn’t as good as most other Dole Whips I’ve tried.

Once in Germany, DH and DD13 got their food groove back and ate the following:


The Alps’ Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese with Alpine Ham, Bay Potatoes, Cornichons, and Baguette.


The Germany food booth’s Roasted Bratwurst in a Pretzel Roll, Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce, and a Beer Flight

As my family plodded along in the heat, we took a few PhotoPass shots in various countries before taking a seat in the AC comfort of Regal Smokehouse. We bought DS10 a watermelon cup to hydrate with while the rest of us split Hops & Barley’s Chesapeake Crab Slider and Freshly Baked Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing.

I also bought a plain funnel cake with sugar and the Mini Pina Colada Funnel Cake from the America pavilion. I inhaled the latter but the rest of my family preferred the former.

DS10 had not eaten much at this point as he just didn’t care for this year’s festival’s offerings. He asked for the “white pizza” he had had from the Italy food booth during Christmas 2019 but sadly, it only had gnocchi this year AND the pizza window from Napoli was not operating that day. :frowning_face: I thus bought him some white rice and 2 sides of shrimp tempura from Katsura Grill in Japan. After eating, the entire family had fun shopping and just plain gawking at the odd stuff in the Mitsukoshi Dept Store. Lazy Egg anyone? We also enjoyed the exhibit on kawaii (Japan’s “cute” culture) in the Bijutsu-kan Gallery at the back of the Japan pavilion.

While my family rested on a bench in Morocco and then France to wait for the Remy LL to open, I ran around like a maniac to eat at a few more food booths and to look for the remaining Remys and PhotoPass Magic Shots.


Greece’s Griddled Cheese with Pistachios and Honey


I was sadly way too full to try Brazil’s Fejioda but did stop by for a Frozen Calpirinha.


At Canada, I could NOT pass up the Le Celier Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce.


To cool off on my way back to my family in France, I had the Apple Cinnamon Soft Serve from Refreshment Port.

At this point, MDE was telling me that Remy was down but my LL hadn’t converted :confused: so I took a chance and herded my family to the back of France. The ride was boarding people so we shrugged and redeemed our LL. During the stove scene, our ride stopped. After a few minutes, the cast members announced that the lights would come on and everyone would be evacuated off the ride. Since we had already experienced the ride both in April and the other day, having Remy interrupted in this way was exciting, not disappointing. We weren’t allowed to take any photos/videos but it was fun to look at everything with the lights on as we walked back through the rooms. I got to look inside Remy’s fridge to my heart’s content! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

As we walked through Canada, DD13 likewise couldn’t pass up on Le Celier’s Filet Mignon so we bought her one. And the Canadian Cheddar and Bacon Soup and Collective Arts Audio/Visual Lager for DH.


Upon tasting the soup this trip, I realized that I must’ve had a bad batch during Christmas 2019. :grimacing: The Cheddar and Bacon soup I bought then had been at the end of the night and had a peculiar tang to it. Ew. This version was better. :sweat_smile:

And because DH loves him some lamb chops, we stopped by the Australia booth as we made a full circle around World Showcase.


Roasted Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies and a Lamington (Yellow Cake with Raspberry Filling dipped in Chocolate and Coconut)

And since DH helpfully bought the cheese soup, I had my final stamp for Emile’s Fromage Montage and redeemed my prize of more food- the Strawberry Cheesecake Soft Serve with a piece of cheesecake on top! Since I was at Shimmering Sips anyway to obtain my prize, I also bought the Guava Mousse on a Sugar Cookie with Coconut Lime Whipped Cream and a Tropical Mimosa

After eating our final festival foods, we walked back to the Creations Shop to pick up some bulky souvenirs we had eyed earlier in the day (but didn’t want to carry around). We called a Lyft at the front of the park after wandering around lost looking for the Rideshare designation. Unlike at the other parks, there wasn’t a clear sign depicting where the rideshare pickups were. I think it was ultimately in the Figment lot? You’ll notice a bunch of people likewise meandering around that same area. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

I was sad to have passed up on some festival foods but had a great time regardless. Onto MK!

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Day 5: MK

We took it relatively easy on our MK morning as we were joining our friends again on a tour at 3pm. We rode the free Hilton shuttle to the TTC, boarded the monorail, and arrived at MK about 20 minutes after the official park opening time. We elected to forego most rides to leisurely browse the mostly empty Emporium on Main Street and snack, snack, snack like hobbits. First breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies…


Giant Mickey Waffle from Sleepy Hollow


Sausage and Gravy Tots from Friar’s Nook


Binx’s Cat Paw (hazelnut chocolate pastry) from Cheshire Cafe


All-Mixed Up Slushy (Mixed Berry Tea with Whipped Cream and Sprinkles ), also from Cheshire Cafe


Goofy Dome Cake (Dark Chocolate Mousse with Orange Curd insert and Candied Orange Peel on top of Chocolate Flourless Cake) from Gaston’s Tavern

We also caught the Mickey and Friends Cavalcade on our way to BTMRR to use up our Anytime LL from the day before. (When we were evacuated from Ratatouille, we were given an Anytime LL to use the rest of the day in Epcot. However, we stopped by Guest Relations on the way out of Epcot to convert it to MK for the following day instead). The Anytime LL had a few restrictions (i.e. it couldn’t be redeemed for 7DMT, PPF, or Meeting Mickey/Minnie at the Town Sq Theatre). Out of the available attractions, my kids elected to do BTMRR. That was fun as we hadn’t ridden BTMRR in 3 years (I hadn’t been able to get a good LL time for it during our April trip). Afterwards, they all marveled over how it was a relatively long coaster ride for Disney. That’s why it’s one of my favorites at MK. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

After BTMRR, we took the monorail one stop over to the Contemporary. Since we were early for our 12:30pm ADR at Steakhouse 71, we browsed the shops and then rested on some quiet couches on the convention floor.

At Steakhouse 71, I started with a Citrus Grove Cocktail (Campari, Green Chartreuse, Citrus Juices, Simple Syrup, Orange Bitters)

And my beloved Bacon and Eggs (Maple-lacquered Pork Belly, Smoked Cheese Grits, Perfect Egg) from the days of the Wave:

DD13 started with the Lump Crab Cakes (Old Bay Rémoulade, Corn Hash, House-made Saltine Crackers)

DH had a Cigar City Jai Alai beer and the Prime Rib Sandwich

Both kids opted for the Hanger Steak Frites

And I had the Stack Burger (Signature Blend of Beef, American Cheese, Lemon Aïoli, Red Onion, House-made Pickles, on a Brioche Bun)

Funnily enough, DH then ordered the Sea Salt-Dusted Potato Brioche (that came with butter and a Roasted Garlic-Tomato Spread) to help him feel “less full” after the heaviness of his prime rib sandwich. :woman_shrugging: I’m not sure how his stomach works but basic bread always makes him feel less full after a meal.

Even though I was thoroughly stuffed, too, I couldn’t pass up the incredibly light and unique sounding Ambrosia dessert. It was Coconut Chiffon Cake, Mandarin Curd, and Compressed Pineapple.

Fueled up for our tour, we headed back to MK via the monorail. We met up with our friends and the tour guide in Adventureland and proceeded to ride the following: MCoA, JC, BTMRR, Splash, PotC (we had to double back as it was previously down), HM, IaSW, PPF, 7DMT (2x), and SpMt (2x) before taking a prolonged meal/snack break. My family was still not very hungry so we just had a few snacks.


Sweet Candy Corn Soft Serve and some Vanilla Soft Serve from Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies


The I Lava You Float (Fanta® Strawberry Soda and Passion Fruit flavor served with DOLE Whip® Orange and topped with Popping Candy ) and Fried Potstickers from Sunshine Tree Terrace


Cream Cheese Warm Stuffed Pretzel from the Lunching Pad

We then competed for Space Ranger glory on BLSRS with our friends before heading back to the hotel. Our friends were staying for Enchantment but my family was pretty beat, 2 of us had seen Enchantment already this past April, and the remaining 2 did not care about fireworks (or rather, they cared more for sleep/rest than fireworks at that point).

We grabbed an Orange Slush from the Confectionary on the way out of MK. It was the only flavor available at the time that was sufficiently frozen (and it actually was pretty watery). We often encountered slush machines that were not sufficiently frozen for serving throughout our trip. :cry:

With somewhat cooling refreshment at hand, my family rode the monorail over to the Contemporary to then catch a Lyft back to the Hilton. Next up, water park day!

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How the hell am I ever supposed to eat all the yummy things in your pictures in one trip? :weary:

:rofl:

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That ambrosia dessert is surprisingly delicious.

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What did you think of it?

Day 6: TL

As TL didn’t open till 10am and we were located very close to it, we all slept in a bit. Also, DS didn’t allow guests in till 9am. (As we discovered to our consternation on the previous day for MK). I had originally planned for us to take a Minnie Van from DS to MK (as it would drop us off right at MK instead of the TTC). However, we were turned away by DS Security as it had only been 8am. That’s when we returned back to the hotel to take the Hilton bus.

As far as I could tell, only Earl of Sandwich and Everglazed would be open at 9am for breakfast on a weekday. :frowning_face: Given a choice between the 2, my sweet tooth self would’ve preferred Everglazed for breakfast (and hey, they have a few savory sandwiches for the rest of my family! :sweat_smile:). However, Everglazed was located all the way on the other side of DS. I read the room and no way would my family choose it over a place that was literally at the entrance of where we entered from our hotel. Plus, I think only DMIL and I were hungry enough to eat anything. (Most days, the kids had a light breakfast in our hotel room of bananas/apple sauce and crackers/pretzels we had ordered from Amazon Fresh). DMIL and I split a Breakfast BLT.

At 9:30am, we boarded a TL bus from Town Center. We were actually very lucky to find a bus driver that was willing to drive there before 10am. He told us that technically, the TL buses weren’t scheduled to go to TL till 10am (park opening). That made no sense to me as a rope dropper.

My family and I were through the turnstiles, had rented a locker, and were among the rope dropping crowd by a few minutes before 10. :+1: At exactly 10, the crowds were released and we walked to the first attraction on our path to the right- Crush N Gusher. Now that my kids were older, us adults happily sat in the shallow waters of the nearby pool while our kids took themselves on the water rides. Aaaah…this is the life. :tropical_drink:

My kids did the first run as a walk on but had to wait a bit by the second ride. After this second run, my kids elected to proceed onto the next attraction, hoping to stay ahead of the crowds as we traversed TL in a counterclockwise fashion. We all rode MAF as a family once before our friends arrived at the park and their kids joined ours. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: It was their kids’ first time at TL and my kids were ecstatic to show them around. The 4 older kids rode both Crush n Gusher and MAF together while I went to get my second breakfast and elevensies from the Snack Shack.


Loaded Nachos with Walt’s Chili.


Hei Hei Cone (Dole Whip® Pineapple and Raspberry Soft-serve)


DH wanted a basic snack so we got the always classic, Mickey Pretzel.

We then walked with the kids over to the Storm Slides, Humunga Kowabunga, and then Mayday Falls and Keelhaul Falls. Unfortunately, one of the Falls was down so the line for the other ballooned. I think the long wait made my kids impatient because after they were done, they elected to do the no waiting, Surf Pool. While the older kids swam/bobbed to their heart’s content in the waves and the younger kid happily slid on the adjoining Bay Slides, I enjoyed another treat.


Happy Landings’ EARidescent Ice Dream Cone (Birthday Cake flavored Soft-serve Swirl with a White Chocolate dipped cone and EARidescent Sprinkles)

As I was finishing this treat, I absentmindedly rejoined my friends at the Surf Pool edge, forgetting that I can’t bring food/drinks into the water. Just as I remembered, a nearby lifeguard reminded me of the rule. In a panic about breaking the rules, I shoved the remaining large bite into my mouth. I think I sort of horrified the lifeguard. :rofl:

After this interesting debacle, I sat with DH at a nearby beach chair after grabbing him his own EARidescent Ice Dream Cone. The cast member actually misheard me at first and brought me a vanilla cone. When I politely corrected him, he promptly gifted the vanilla cone to a nearby little girl, which I thought was pretty sweet.

A few minutes before the Surf Pool was scheduled to switch to 30 min of gentle waves, I bought some mini doughnuts for the kids to share once they were out of the water. Sadly, the donuts were not freshly made so they weren’t warm. FAIL.

As the kids were only interested in massively scary waves, most of them elected to do the lazy river, Castaway Creek, during the gentle wave cycle. As a group of 8, it took us a LONG time to obtain tubes for all of us. But we finally obtained tubes for all and sort of relaxed in the lazy river. Sort of relaxed as we were trying to keep our large group somewhat together in the crowded river and the kids were taking turns steering us adults into the waterfalls. :sweat_smile:

After about an hour? of the lazy river, the kids went back to the crazy waves at the Surf Pool. We left TL after that cycle ended and took the bus back to DS to then walk over to another bucket list restaurant of mine, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar!


I had the Cool-Headed Monkey (Starr African Rum, Van Der Hum Tangerine Liqueur, fresh Lime Juice, Watermelon, and Pineapple Juice )

DH had a beer flight (Jock’s Visiting Brew, Konig Ludwig Weissbier, Kungaloosh Spiced Excursion Ale)


Air Pirate’s Cargo Loaded Pretzel (Prosciutto, Sliced Brats, Artisan Pepperoni, Smoked Cheddar, Black Diamond Cheddar, Caraway Pickles, Spicy Mustard, and Beer Cheese Fondue)


Doctor Astorga’s Queso Fundido (A Skillet of Melted Soft Cheeses topped with fresh Pico de Gallo and Cilantro served with Corn Tortilla Chips)


Nona’s Home-style Meatballs (Handcrafted Italian Meatballs, Sunday Gravy, Basil Pesto, Scratch-made Lemon Ricotta, Grilled Focaccia Crostini, Grated Pecorino Romano)


Tuna Poke Tacos (Ahi Tuna, Pineapple Pico De Gallo, Sriracha Aioli, Watermelon radish, Red Cabbage)


Club Obi Wan Chicken Wings with Shanghai BBQ


Berbere Flank Steak Flatbread (with Romesco Sauce, Manchego, Arugula and Peppadews)


Grilled Flank Steak (usually served with Pumpkin Seed Chimichurri and Spicy Aji Amarillo Peanut Sauce but we had them leave it out for the kids). We left in the Fried Sweet Plantains.

Although the adults loved everything, these eats were unfortunately not big hits with my kids. DD13 found it too spicy so she made a dinner out of the chips and steak only. DS10 ate even less and I was truly surprised that my carb loving son didn’t like the pretzel. Because I felt bad that he didn’t like most of the dinner, we made the trek to Everglazed so that I could get him one of their famed doughnuts as a dessert (for after he ate a lackluster hot dog from the hotel). It was worth it though because when he was eating their iconic Vanilla Iced with Sprinkles back at our hotel, he repeatedly exclaimed, “Wow! This is a really good doughnut!” :joy:

DH bought a Cinnamon Toast Crunch for himself.

And for yours truly? Heh. The massive Pluto Peanut Butter Waffle Sundae from Marketplace Snacks.

Another successful park and food day!

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Delicious! But I like the Tropical Serenade from Aloha Isle more so going forward, I’d probably pick the latter if I had to choose one treat from Adventureland.

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Food goals. Food training. :pancakes: :icecream: :martial_arts_uniform:
:rofl:

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Day 7: HS

Today was the final tour day with our friends. So we again took it easy in the morning. In fact, I used the non-rope drop opportunity to hit up Primo Piatto at the Riviera for breakfast, one of my dining bucket list items. It almost didn’t happen though- when our Lyft pulled up to the security gates at the Riviera, the guard hesitated for a moment when I showed him my mobile order for Primo Piatto. I think the guards are told to only let through non-Riviera guests if they have an ADR for a table service restaurant to avoid people going there solely to use the Skyliner. Thankfully, the guard let us through but it was a tense moment.

One of the items I had been most looking forward to trying were the Blueberry-Lemon Pancakes (filled with fresh Blueberries topped with Mascarpone Cream and Lemon Zest) that were supposedly made in the Japanese style (thick and fluffy).


Honestly, they were a bit of a disappointment. They tasted like standard pancakes from a school cafeteria and I could barely detect any lemon. In fact, I think McDonald’s pancakes are better.

DH and DD13 opted for the Primo Piatto Breakfasts (Scrambled Eggs served over Mascarpone Polenta with a Sweet Brioche Roll served with Bacon and Italian Sausage)

Carb-loving DS10 chose Mickey Waffles but they also included Minnie. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

I had originally planned on also getting a pastry from Le Petit Cafe but my full stomach betrayed me. :cry:

After breakfast, we took the Skyliner directly to the International Gateway. We were early for our meeting time so my family took a leisurely stroll around Crescent Lake and browsed the shops at the Epcot resorts. I also took a quick peek at the newly re-themed Boardwalk Deli but didn’t see anything I wanted. DD13 cooled off with our favorite Goofy’s Glacier mixture, Orange and Lemonade, from the Boardwalk’s gift shop.

I discovered the awesomeness of layering the slush flavors in 2017 when I saw another guest walking around with this intriguing treat while we stayed at the Boardwalk. I actually ran after her and asked where she bought it. Thankfully, she was a kindred foodie spirit so she didn’t look taken aback by me. :sweat_smile:

My family then sat and relaxed in the Yacht Club lobby before meeting our friends and the tour guide at the Beach Club lobby. After a quick drive, we entered HS through a back entrance usually reserved for employees and came out near ToT and RaRC.

DH and my kids went off with most of the group to ride RaRC. I skipped it as it usually gives me a headache and went for a treat instead.


Hollywood Scoop’s Key Lime Shake

I then bravely decided to try ToT for the first time ever. I’ve always wanted to see the theming (I LOVE the HM in MK) but I HATE drops. My heart was hammering and I seriously questioned my choice to have a heavy milkshake and donut right before this ride but I did not go out the chicken exit. And I liked it! The drops weren’t bad at all. Much mellower than the giant Splash Mt drop since you bounce up and down.

We then progressed to MMRR and ST before entering GE. We first rode RotR. Due to some technical issues that RotR was experiencing, we skipped the room where you joined the Resistance, the Resistance transport vehicle, and being boarded by the First Order. We went through some Cast Member hallways to directly go to the room of storm troopers. My family has luckily done this attraction before so although it was disappointing to miss those parts, it was ok since we’ve seen them before. However, I felt bad for newcomers where this was their first RotR experience.

After RotR, we all rode MFSR. We then mobile ordered lunches from Docking Bay 7 and Ronto Roasters.


Smoked Kaadu Pork Ribs and the Outpost Puff (Chocolate Pastry filled with Guajillo Chocolate Mousse finished with Thai Tea Panna Cotta, Spiced Pineapple, and Confectionary Debris)


Ronto Wrap
I also ordered a Tatooine Sunset (Gold Peak® Unsweetened Tea and Minute Maid® Premium Lemonade with Melon and Blueberry)

After lunch, the kids elected to do MFSR again. After fulfilling Hondo’s mission for a second time, we proceeded to Toy Story Land, where we rode ASS, SDD, and TSMM, some of them for a second time for different members of the group, depending on preferences. Afterwards, we rode MMRR and ToT a second time. And the thoughtful tour guide, who had helpfully provided us with waters during each tour, gave us all ice cream. What an awesome way to end the tours!

By this time, it started pouring so we hitched a ride with my friends back to their hotel to then Lyft over to the Hilton. I had made a 7:15pm ADR for Morimoto Asia (another bucket list item!) but we stayed in the hotel room for some time trying to wait out the downpour. It finally trickled down to a sprinkling around 7pm so off to DS we went. I ran ahead to confirm our reservation. The place was PACKED as it was Friday night but thankfully, we didn’t have to wait more than a few minutes to be seated. Service was a bit slow (surprising considering Morimoto’s caliber and reputation) but I assumed it was due to Friday evening crowds. Also, our waitress apologetically admitted that they were short-staffed that evening. But onto the most important part- the food!


As a starter, DH and I shared the Jyo Sashimi Combo and 3 specialty fish from around the world (Madako/Octopus from Chiba, Japan; Kinki/Thorny Head from Hokkaido, Japan; and Kegani/Hairy Crab from Hokkaido, Japan).


I had the Shirayuri (house-infused citrus haku vodka, calpico, and yuzu served with a twist)


DH had the sake flight


DH selected the A-5 Wagyu Loco Moco (house-blended burger with A-5 Wagyu Beef and Filet Mignon served over a sizzling rice bowl with a sunny side up egg and teriyaki mushroom gravy)


DS10 chose the famous Morimoto Spare Ribs


DD13 had the Tonkotsu Ramen (rich pork bone broth, wheat noodles, roasted pork, woodear mushroom, pickled ginger, scallion and soy marinated egg)


DMIL chose the Grilled Korean Style Pork Skirt Steak (with house kimchi, beansprouts, scallion, and gochujang sauce over rice)


We also all split a small portion of Japanese A-5 Wagyu Beef that was prepared tableside over an ishiyaki grilling stone with sansho peppercorn sauce. I’ve always wanted to try authentic Wagyu beef (we even received a certificate to prove its origin!) and was happy to scratch this off my bucket list. But would I order it again? Probably not as I didn’t think the taste justified the considerable cost. Definitely a once in a lifetime thing for me.

Although service was overall slow that night, the food quality at Morimoto was really good and I was also pleasantly surprised by the portion sizes. With high end restaurants, sometimes you get a minuscule amount of food. But that wasn’t the case here. In fact, my kids surprised me by stating that this was their top choice after Homecomin’. I had guessed that Jaleo would be their second choice out of the Disney restaurants we had this trip.

I would’ve liked to try the specialty desserts at Morimoto (Fried Black Sesame Mochi Ball! Melon Soda Float!) but given how slow the service was and how tired my family were, I skipped on dessert. Thankfully, we had already packed for our transfer to Universal the previous day so we didn’t have much to do but rest when we returned to the Hilton for our final Disney night.

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