Day 2: “Relaxation” Day and The Rest of The Group Arrives
After traveling all day and a 2 am bedtime the night before, the 8 am alarm clock comes way too early (it would’ve been 5 am at home). We have a 12pm reservation for California Grill Sunday Brunch and the goal is to be out of the room by 10am. Not happening! I finally get myself out of bed at 8:30am and shake everyone else out of bed around 9:30am. We’re out the door around 11:00. We have perfect timing and walk right onto a bus that takes off as soon as we get on. (This will be one of very few good bus experiences, not necessarily Disney’s fault though.)
DS loved looking at all the construction during the bus rides. I think this is part of the Skyliner?
We get dropped off at the Magic Kingdom depot at about 11:20. At this point, my husband is panicking about being late even though we are literally across the street from the Contemporary (albeit a large street and there is no sidewalk from our side of the bus depot). I tell him we need to take the sidewalk up and around the bus depot to get to the sidewalk to the Contemporary. He insists we cut through the bus depot travel lanes. After a brief “debate”, of which I am the losing party, we cut through. I’m not sure what the hell he (or I) was thinking. If you are familiar with this set up, you know that the bus depot lanes are definitely not pedestrian friendly. Jet lag brain must’ve been strong here, because my husband is a medical professional and deals with auto vs. pedestrian incidents on a regular basis and is normally over cautious.
Once we make it across the depot, we realize there is a line of bushes and security rope blocking sidewalk access. I briefly consider tossing the kids over and Indian Jones’ing it through the bushes as opposed to having to walk back through the depot lanes. Luckily, the security guard takes pity on us -or just doesn’t want to be responsible for us getting ran over- and he comes and takes us through an opening and back to the security check point without much grief (maybe our stupidity rendered him speechless). They check our bags and let us continue on our way. Luckily, we conquer our real-life Frogger stage and make it to the Contemporary in one piece.
Lesson #4: If you value life and limb, do not cut through the Magic Kingdom bus depot to get to the Contemporary Sidewalk! There is no access to the sidewalk there. Makes sense, since you know people aren’t supposed to be walking that direction….derp.
At least DH’s stupid shortcut was effective…we get to the CG check-in desk 20 minutes early. They take us right up and tell us we can wait in the seating area and have mimosas. Before the trip, I read about other people waiting outside on the balcony and ask if we can do that. The hosts act a little put off by the request but they escort us outside. After a few minutes, we go inside and are immediately escorted to our table. I’m not sure if there was a miscommunication and they were waiting for us or if it was just more perfect timing. I also don’t know if it is because of our request or because we are in a fancy restaurant with two young kids but the vibe is not super welcoming. DH and I are not fancy people, but we enjoy fine dining (including Michelin starred restaurants) once or twice a year. We felt more uncomfortable at CG than we have anywhere else. This was disappointment #1 with CG and also…
Lesson #5: I don’t advise taking children to the signature restaurants, or at least California Grill. I naively figured it’d be okay since I mean, it’s Disney World. There were a few tables with kids but the vast majority were without. There was also one chef who very clearly did not like children there and would shoot the death glare at any kid who approached the appetizer bar, no matter how the child behaved. This was at Sunday Brunch. I’ve heard dinner is even more formal…can anyone confirm?
Anyway, we are led to a booth right across from the kitchen where the chefs cook the main courses. It’s neat watching them but I am a little disappointed we don’t get a window table. I’m also a little annoyed whenever I notice the child hating chef glare at children (including mine who are not doing anything but sitting there like everyone else). The bubble mimosas and food from the appetizer bar are delicious but we’re all still kind of jet lagged so it’s a very blah meal. The kids, in true kid fashion, have no appetite, despite there being food they’d normally eat. $50 for a kids meal…straight down the drain (or 2 dining credits anyway). The sushi, deviled eggs and bacon and egg salads are my faves but DH likes the yogurt parfait best.
There’s that grumpy chef. And now that I review these pictures I realize the kids did eat some bread. So their favorite, by default, was the bread.
The picture could be better but the food was yummy!
The kids express zero interest in ordering off the menu, even refusing the offer of totally decadent pancakes. I know that the minute we walk out, we’ll hear “I’M HUUUUNNNGRRRY” so we order them carrot cake pancakes to split anyway. DH orders vanilla bean French toast, I get the U-10 shrimp. DH raves about his dish but mine….well… it has decent flavor but the shrimp are so overcooked that it’s a legitimate struggle to cut them with a knife (a gift from the grumpy chef perhaps?). We debate saying something but at this point I already feel like we’re not very welcomed and I don’t want to be that person so I just don’t eat the shrimp at all. An attentive server should have noticed this, but ours doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. Oh well. The kids eat none of the pancakes but DH and I sample them. They’re decent enough to take to go, but I’ve honestly had better at IHOP.
This picture actually makes the shrimp look better than it was…
This was the closest DH would let me get to his food to take a food picture. Too delicious to wait!
Pretty but underwhelming pancakes.
At this point, DH and I are stuffed and the kids are still boycotting all food so we decide to ask for desert to go and our ticket. It takes forever for our waitress to finally come back but once she does, she quickly gets our desserts and ticket. We pay and leave a decent tip even though we’re less than impressed because again, we don’t want to be those people. In hindsight, I probably should’ve brought it to someone’s attention. Unfortunately, the dining survey I got after leaving WDW didn’t ask about this meal. Overall, it was really disappointing as this was the one thing I planned specifically for me. It wasn’t just the restaurant’s fault; it was also part jet lag and part unrealistic expectations about having a “relaxing” Sunday brunch with kids in tow the day after long travels.
After brunch, the original plan was to ride around on the monorail. However, everyone really wanted some pool time and the clouds were starting to build. The forecast called for evening rain, so we headed straight back to the resort. I think it was about 2 pm at this point and the rest of our travel group wasn’t scheduled to get to the resort until around 6pm. The clouds weren’t looking that bad when we got back to our room but it took us a while to get ready. We had literally just stepped out of the room when the rain started. DD really wanted to see if the pools would still be open so we decided to give it a shot. There doesn’t appear to be any lightning and people are still in the main pool when we got there. Long story (sort of short) they close the pool right as we’re getting in but the lifeguards maintained it wasn’t weather related and would be open again soon. Some people asked the why it was closing but the lifeguards wouldn’t say. I guess it was top secret…maybe poop in the pool. Who knows?
Swimming attempt #1
Since swimming is a no go, we head back to the room to rest and unpack. I check our co-traveler’s group flight status and everything is still showing on time. I have doubts because of the rain and heavy wind it eventually brings with it, but hope all will be well. A few hours later, the rain stops so we decide to give it another try. We get to the main pool and guess what…it starts to rain again. Hello, Florida! Again, we just get our stuff settled when we get kicked out. We decide to tough out the rain and go look at the Cars themed area. We get over there and realize that the Cars pool is still open and several people are swimming.
Love the theming at Art of Animation…we loved everything about the resort actually!
DD and I are hardcore, and decide we’re not going to let a little rain ruin our swimming day. DH and DS seek higher ground in our hotel room. It isn’t for the faint of heart, but all of us who were swimming with sheets of rain coming down upon us were having a grand time. I mean, we’re at Disney World, and we’re already wet anyway. If Disney determined it was safe to swim, it had to be…right?!
DD talks regularly about swimming in the rain at WDW. It is one of mine and her favorite memories of the trip.
We wrap things up at about 7. When I get to my phone, I see I have a text message from SIL saying they just landed. Apparently, their flight was delayed leaving their home airport (with no status update either) and then had to circle the Orlando Airport for an hour before landing due to weather. Ouch. At least their flight was only 3ish hours total, but this is really bad timing as they have a late Chef Mickey’s dinner reservation to make at 9:25pm. DH, the kids and I just grab some dinner to go from Landscape of Flavors (the food here was actually really good). We’re settling into bed about 9:30 when SIL sends me character pics from Chef Mickey’s showing they made it just on time. Kudos to them, I don’t know if I could’ve survived all that…
I want to get some sleep because tomorrow will be our first (looong) park day, Magic Kingdom, woo hoo! Our first fast pass window of the day starts at 9 am and it’s a ride we’ve all been dying to go on so we can’t miss it. The idealist in me is also hoping to make it to rope drop so we can get a few things in (Winnie the Pooh, Barnstormer, Dumbo) before the lines build. My immediate family also has a reservation for the Happily Ever After Garden Terrace Desert Party, so it’s going to be a really long day.
Will my rope drop dreams become reality? Will the rest of our group be too tired to make it to our first fast past? Will the whole group make it the whole day? Stay tuned to find out in…
Day 2 – A MAGICAL day at Magic Kingdom and a Not-So-Magic Meltdown