Day 3: HS, AK, and MK (A jam-packed exciting day)
Since we wanted an early start at HS, we just picked up some items from the Boardwalk Bakery and ate by the water. The adults split the Ooey Gooey (an Artisan Roll with a Cage-free Egg, Cheddar and Mozzarella Cheese, Capicola and Oven-dried Tomato) and an almond croissant. It doesn’t sound like much but the former was extremely heavy (and messy!). Grab lots of napkins. My kids had a Chocolate Croissant and Plain Croissant (pretty much their typical choices every time we went to the Bakery for breakfast).
We arrived at HS relatively “late” at 7:30am (EMH started at 7am). By then, lines for Slinky were of course already at 60 minutes. I was unable to get a FP for Slinky at the 60 day mark but did get one for further along our trip so I wasn’t too devastated. We were able to do Alien Swirling Saucers once on Standby with minimal wait and TSMM twice with Standby and once on FP. We also got to hang out with the Green Army Men. I eagerly tried the S’mores French Toast Sandwich from Woody’s Lunch Box but was disappointed as it was only lukewarm, didn’t have a strong chocolate or marshmallow flavor, and the bread was dry. I got the kiddie menu version that came with tots and a clementine. My kids were more interested in the tots and clementine if that tells you anything.
Our friends, who were also touring HS that day, had an extra FP for RnR so DH headed over while the rest of us explored the RnR store and Star Wars Launch Bay. Afterwards, we rode ST, had some Mickey Ice Cream Bars, and enjoyed the Frozen Sing A-Long.
Since we were going to join our friends for a VIP tour later that day/night, we decided to have a filling and relaxing lunch at Ale and Compass to fuel us for the coming few hours. I tried the Maple Old Fashioned this time while DH had the Seaworthy Breeze (Yacht Club Vodka with Grapefruit and Cranberry Juices). The latter was a lighter option. Both kids had the Kiddie Menu’s Beef Skirt Steak (I don’t know why they felt they had to specify that it was beef. Isn’t steak usually beef? ). DMIL and DH each had the Lobster Corn Chowder (I had a taste and liked it). DMIL also enjoyed a Maine Lobster Roll. I was feeling healthy so I ordered a Salmon Salad that included Kale, Swiss Chard, Quinoa, Dried Cranberries, and Spiced Walnuts.
It was quite tasty but I definitely enjoyed stealing slices from DH’s Bacon Flatbread which included Applewood Smoked Bacon, Caramelized Onions, Gruyere Cheese, and Arugula (quite similar to the Breakfast Flatbread actually minus the Poached Egg).
For dessert, we headed over to Ample Hills Creamery. DS6 had Vanilla while DD9 got a scoop each of Ooey Gooey Butter Cake and Shirley Temple (Cherry, Lemon, Lime, with a splash of Ginger) while I opted for an Ice Cream Flight!
Starting at 9:00, the flavors were Peppermint Patties, PB Wins the Cup, Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, Shirley Temple, Coffee Toffee, and Chocolate Fudge Brownie. Ice cream flights are the best invention ever!
After a brief rest in our hotel room, we were ready to join our friends for the tour. We started off in AK and hit Dinosaur, EE, Na’vi River Journey, and FOP. At MK, we hit BLSRS, Space Mountain, HM, and PPF before taking a light dinner break at Columbia Harbour House. The adults were still pretty full so we just nibbled a bit from the kids’ dinners of Fried Fish, Fried Shrimp, Chicken Nuggets, and Fries. DMIL also had a Shrimp Harbour Salad (which included shrimp served on top of mixed greens, diced tomato, bacon, egg, melons, onions and cucumbers drizzled with Zinfandel Vinaigrette dressing). Usually Columbia is my favorite counter service restaurant in the MK but I just wasn’t hungry enough to get my usual favorites (i.e. Salmon, Lobster Roll, Chicken Pot Pie). I’m also still miffed they took away the Iced Tea Lemonade Slushy. WDW has a huge variety of slushes in the parks but they had to take away my favorite!
The nearby lightning finally stopped long enough for us to ride 7DMT and BTMR before heading over to watch HEA. HEA was delayed due to the return of lightning but it finally started about 20 min (?) after the scheduled time. It was a beautiful way to end an incredibly fun-filled day.
Day 4: BB
Since BB opened at 10am, we went to Boma in AKL for breakfast first. I was excited to try the various buffet options which included French Toast Bread Pudding, various carved meats, a spinach and goat cheese omelet, and many more.
After this extremely fortifying breakfast , we headed over to BB just in time for opening. We took the Chairlift up to Mt. Gushmore to ride Teamboat Springs twice before enjoying Runoff Rapids a few times. We then spent about 2 hours at Ski Patrol Camp, which is great for kids ages 5-12 or so, in my humble opinion. There’s a good variety of water activities there and the adults can kick back a bit while their kids traverse the various water options relatively independently. I took the time to grab a few sweet chillers for my family:
Frozen Passionfruit and Strawberry Slushy, Frozen Cappuccino, and Shakin’ Jamaican (the Frozen Cappuccino with a splash of Bailey’s).
The Joffrey’s kiosk I got these treats from didn’t have a tray so I had tons of fun holding these 3 drinks AND a cup of water back to my family. Fortunately I was able to grab a tray from another food kiosk halfway back but it would be good if all the drink kiosks had trays available!
We finished up BB with a few circuits around the Cross Country Creek. The lazy river at TL (Castaway Creek) had a lot more floating tubes available. Tubes at BB’s lazy river were a lot scarcer and thus, poor DH spent the whole time walking waist-deep alongside the rest of us. Have I mentioned that he’s a great husband, father, and son?
After BB, we took the bus back to AK to then transfer to a bus for the Polynesian for our early dinner reservation at 'Ohana. The meal started with some Pineapple-Coconut Bread. Yummy but we didn’t want to fill up before the “real” food started! The bread was followed quickly by a salad with Lilikoi (Passionfruit?) Dressing and a giant platter of Pork Dumplings in Garlic Ginger Sauce, Honey Coriander Chicken Wings, and Teriyaki Noodles. And oh yeah, some veggies in the back.
After these starter plates of food, the skewers of Spicy Grilled Peel N Eat Shrimp, Szechuan Sirloin Steak, and Sweet N Sour Chicken quickly followed.
Dinner was concluded with 'Ohana’s famous Bread Pudding a la mode with Caramel Sauce. I think bananas were supposed to be included but were absent for ours. Kids were provided with Rice Krispy Treats as an alternative.
And of course I got the Lapu Lapu (Myers’s Original Dark Rum and Tropical Fruit Juices served in a fresh Pineapple topped with Goslings 151 Rum). It was mostly juice, not very strong at all. Still tasty though.
Reviews have been mixed for 'Ohana but our experience was solidly good. Yes, the food comes out fast, but I never felt rushed to leave and the server did come back at least once to ask if we wanted more food. Truthfully, we were given plenty from the start so we didn’t need to ask for many more helpings. However, we did have a very early dinner reservation (4:00pm) so the dinner might be more rushed closer to fireworks time when more people are hoping for a fireworks view table. Note that typical kiddie fare (i.e. hot dogs, chicken nuggets) are reportedly available for picky eaters but our kids were fine with the regular 'Ohana dinner menu so we didn’t need to ask for any. My favorite meat was the shrimp as I found the steak slightly tough and I prefer white chicken meat (the skewers of chicken were dark meat). Still, the chicken and steak were pretty good. I was slightly disappointed with the wildly lauded Bread Pudding. I found it overly sweet and that’s odd since I love dessert. I’m glad I got to try it though.
After this hugely filling dinner, my family all voted to head back to the hotel. It killed me a bit to let go (haha) our FEA FP but it had been a long day. While DMIL and I sat on our balcony, we were pleasantly surprised to find that we could see some of Illuminations’ fireworks!
Another beautiful view to end the day.
Day 5: Epcot and AK
We all slept in a bit due to the previous long days. We headed over to Epcot for the 9am opening and ate breakfast at Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie. Does anyone have a better way to start breakfast than this?
We had a Roule Lard Fromage (Bacon and Cheese Roll), Croissant Jambon Fromage (Ham and Cheese Croissant), a Chocolate Hazelnut Beignet, Frangipane (both pictured), a Croissant Sale (basically bacon and egg on a croissant), and a Cappucino Glacé (like a coffee slushy).
The only thing we had that I probably wouldn’t order again was the beignet. It wasn’t bad but it tasted like a basic doughnut. Until you get to the chocolate hazelnut filling which made it MUCH better. However, they are a bit stingy with this filling so I’m not sure if it would be worth it to get it again, especially when there are so many sweet options to choose from.
After breakfast, we explored the outside of France, UK, and Canada for a bit. We could only explore the outside of each country as the World Showcase didn’t open till 11am. I always found it a bit frustrating that the World Showcase opens so late. I guess Disney’s reasoning is that people are using the morning hours to enjoy Future World before making it into World Showcase but what about those of us coming in from the International Gateway? World Showcase is my favorite part of WDW. I hate not being able to take advantage of my family’s early wake up times (my kids naturally wake up at 6am. ) to explore the pavilions before they get crowded.
I was able to get a treat though at Refreshment Port. My kids got some ice cream while I enjoyed Signature Poutine (Fries with Canadian Cheddar and Bacon Sauce with Cheese Curds). Very yummy though a little crazy to eat basically hot soup on fries in Orlando August weather. The things I do for gluttony.
We then browsed MouseGear for a while before returning to our hotel for a brief rest before heading to AK for the afternoon. What did we first do at AK? Eat lunch at Flame Tree BBQ of course!
St. Louis Ribs Dinner. It’s a bigger portion than pictured but my little carnivore, DD9, grabbed a huge chunk before my snapshot. It also comes with coleslaw and baked beans.
Fries with Pulled Pork and Cheese along with some Onion Rings
After lunch, we headed over to Asia for our first FPs of the day. We rode KRR before we split up for the next 2 rides- EE for DH and DD9 and Dinosaur for DS6, DMIL, and me. While in Asia, I grabbed a Dragon’s Breath (Byejoe Dragon Fire Spirit, Mango Pureé and Pineapple Juice ) from the Thirsty River Bar. The bartender did warn me that it was spicy towards the end but it was spicy from the start! Sorta odd to drink a spicy alcoholic beverage. I didn’t bother finishing it cuz my palate was utterly confused.
We then watched some of Dinoland’s Donald’s Dino Bash. My kids usually love dancing but were strangely shy then so they just watched as Chip and Dale (dressed up as dinosaurs) got their groove on. We then headed over to Pandora for our FOP FP. After FOP, we met our friends for dinner at Boma in AKL.
We love Boma’s dinner buffet. My favorites include the various carved meats and soups. That night, the rotating soups were Carrot Ginger, Coconut-Chicken Curry, and Seafood Stew. For dessert, my favorites were the Zebra Domes and Kenyan Coffee Tarts. For drinks, DH had a White Sangria while I enjoyed a Bahama Mama.
After dinner, I was last woman standing as everyone else voted to return to the hotel. I, however, opted to head back to AK as I had never seen it at night. I headed over to the Standby line for Rivers of Light 30 min before showtime and was able to grab a decent view.
Following RoL, I explored Pandora.
followed lastly by the Tree of Life Awakenings.
Day 6: MK
We started the day with a “light” breakfast at Boardwalk Bakery as we had a delicious brunch waiting for us midday. Once we arrived at MK, DH took DD9 to Splash Mountain while the rest of us enjoyed PPF. In our previous WDW trips, we always used a FP for PPF as the lines can get crazy but I was determined to try the queue this time as I had read that it has nice details (you get to see the Darling’s home and Tinkerbell flying around) and an interactive game (you wave at shadow bells to make them jingle). Since it was the first ride we headed to at park opening, the wait wasn’t too bad- it was just enough to let us enjoy the interactive elements of the queue without being an overly long wait.
My family then met back up together to enjoy the Winnie the Pooh ride. Again, we had previously only rode with a FP but I wanted to try the queue as there was a simple play area for the kids and a “honey wall” they could interact with. As with PPF, the wait was just enough to let my kids explore the queue activities without being overly long. After Winnie the Pooh, we explored the adjoining shop a bit before heading to Barnstormer and It’s a Small World. We then decided to walk over to the Contemporary to explore the gift shops there before our brunch reservation at California Grill.
Let me just say that this brunch was our BEST meal at WDW this trip. It has quite a hefty price tag and was incredibly hard to book but it was worth it.
Our server was extremely attentive and friendly. The adults were started off with a mimosa with popping blueberry bubbles. The buffet portion of the brunch included various pastries (during our visit they offered Pecan Sticky Buns, Country Cheddar Biscuit, a Berry Scone, and something else that I can’t remember); a sushi bar with tuna, salmon, and shrimp tempura selections; House-made Charcuterie including Orange-Honey Ham, Bison and Sweetbread Terrine, Pork Belly Rillettes, Whole-Grain Mustard, Zellwood Pickles, Pickled Pero Farms Peppers, Sweet Onion Jam; Bacon and Egg Salad; Smoked Salmon; Deviled Eggs, Crispy Lardons, Spiced Aïoli; Soba Noodle Salad; Yogurt Parfaits; and some kind of Peach Salad. And this was just the buffet portion! For that particular day, they also had some kind of Bourbon and Dates Cake (I think) with Cornflake Ice Cream. I don’t even like dates but this was delicious!
A sampling of the buffet offerings:
For our entrees, we got:
U-10 Shrimp with Grits. The shrimp was tasty but I found the grits way too heavy.
Grilled Hanger Steak. DMIL and DD9 both got this and seemed to enjoy it. I didn’t try it myself though.
Vanilla Bean French Toast with Creme Brulee Custard and Caramelized Bananas and Walnuts.
I found this entree to be just ok. The french toast was like regular french toast. The custard had a slightly gritty and thick texture that I found off-putting. When I hear Creme Brulee, I expect a smooth and light texture. I didn’t get that here.
Shakshuka (a lamb dish cooked with tomatoes). This was DH’s dish and I found it tasty but I was so full by then that I could only tolerate a bite or 2.
But there’s always room for dessert!
The table gets this whole dessert plate to share and we barely made a dent after all the filling food before. I cannot remember all the details of this dessert plate but it included a Berry Financier (the little cakes), chocolate truffles, macarons (green tea, chocolate, passionfruit), Chocolate Bark, and I believe Cardamon Cookies. Thankfully, we were allowed to box the desserts home to enjoy.
After brunch, we rolled our stuffed selves back to MK. We all rode the Jungle Cruise but by this time, both DH and DMIL were pretty beat (they were extra full and their feet were hurting) so they rested in various seating areas while I took the kids to the Swiss Family Treehouse (so cool!). It was sweltering hot that afternoon so we then took a Dole Whip break before heading to Mickey’s PhilharMagic. Afterwards, we headed to Liberty Square to get Silhouettes done of my kids. Super unique souvenir!
On the way to the Silhouettes cart, we stopped to see Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History.
Afterwards, we rode 7DMT with a FP before relaxing with a Peter Pan Float (Key Lime Soft Serve with Sprite).
It was good but I mostly tasted Sprite. It didn’t taste like an ice cream soda to me. While DMIL and DH rested some more at a seat outside Cosmic Ray’s, I took the kids to MILF and the Peoplemover. While we were boarding the Peoplemover, the sky opened up and sheets of rain poured down. We tried to wait it out but it just kept pouring. Plus, DH and DMIL were completely beat so we headed back to our hotel. While my family crashed into bed, I took myself to the Belle Vue Lounge to enjoy a Mai Tai.
To be continued some more…