I love reading other people’s trip reports so here’s my contribution! Plus, going through it is like being on vacation again. =) I’m also a major foodie so any chance I get to discuss food, I’m all for it!
Day 1: Arrival and Epcot
DH, DD8, DS5, and I took an early flight out of NYC into MCO and the Magical Express, as always, got us to the Boardwalk Villas in under an hour. We had stayed at the Contemporary for both of our previous stays but 1) wanted to try an Epcot resort as we would be enjoying the first 2 days of F&W and 2) I found a better deal at the Boardwalk this year. This would also be the first time we were staying in a DVC room. We booked a standard view studio but were happily upgraded to a pool view without us asking. Our room faced the main clown pool but we were never really bothered by the noise of the happy splashers.
To be honest, I was a little nervous about the available counter service options at the Boardwalk. The Contemporary’s Contempo Cafe is easily the BEST counter service in all of Disney due to its large and varied selection combined with high quality food. Plus, the prices are (for Disney) really reasonable! The Boardwalk area has several highly lauded table-service restaurants (i.e. Flying Fish) in addition to nearby table-service restaurants at the Yacht and Beach Club or the Swan/Dolphin that are likewise highly recommended. However, we didn’t feel like dropping a ton of money for every meal, which is what we almost always wind up doing every time we go to a table-service restaurant. So we generally try to find the counter service gems. The Boardwalk area doesn’t really have any. Of course, Epcot World Showcase is an easy walking distance away but when you have 2 kids under 10, sometimes (ok, many times) you just want something quick and easy and literally 5 min from your hotel room. We found Boardwalk Bakery to offer a small but decent selection, albeit limited hot food items. We had much better luck with dessert due to both the Boardwalk Bakery’s phenomenal cupcakes and Ample Hills Creamery’s kickass ice cream. After several visits to said dessert places, I vote for the Mickey Oreo cupcake as the best Disney cupcake and Ooey Gooey Butter Ice Cream as the best ice cream. We made use of the To-Go Cart and Pizza Window on the Boardwalk several times just because it was easy for the kids when we were tired from a day of touring. They offer basic hot dog/chicken fingers/pizza options that are your standard fare, nothing to write home about. The kale chicken caesar salad offered at both the Boardwalk Bakery and Pizza Window was a decent healthy option (to provide buffer for all those cupcakes and ice cream!). Like I said, the above food was decent but we had the Contempo Cafe to compare it to (Lobster roll! Pot roast! Salmon caesar salad!) so we were a little disappointed by the limited options.
Ok, back to the trip. We arrived at the Boardwalk around noon but decided to eat in the area instead of braving the lunch crowds in Epcot. I had read that Captain’s Grille at Yacht Club (temporarily located at Beach Club) offers great food and is never crowded. We found both points to be true the 3 times we dined there. (Although we generally try to eat counter service to save money, I’m not adverse to table-service when the reviews are good!). The Seared Tuna appetizer was refreshing and light. We also really enjoyed the Blackened Fish Tacos and Bacon Cheeseburger Sliders. DD8 loved the kid’s menu shrimp skewers and DS5 went for chicken fingers. For dessert, we headed to Ample Hills. DD8 loved the Lemon Sky Ice Cream while I enjoyed Nonna D’s Oatmeal Lace Ice Cream in a M&M Cone. The ice cream was good (but super sweet!). The M&M cone was eh- not something I would order again as it was pretty tasteless.
Our room still was not ready by then so we just left our carry-on bags with the front desk and took the boat to Epcot. As we found out over the next few days, walking to Epcot takes less than 10 minutes and HS about 15 minutes (even with 2 young kids, including a DS5 that was doing his first stroller-free Disney trip). Walking always beat the boat but note that if you get caught in the usual August downpour on the way to/from HS, there is very little cover so you’ll get drenched.
We concentrated on FutureWorld and got to do Figment, Seas with Nemo, Spaceship Earth, and TT. It might not sound like we did much but my kids spend a LOT of time in the interactive exhibits after Figment and SE, especially SE. Seeing how we woke the kids up at 3:30am that day, we turned in for an early night and just grabbed food from the To-Go kart for dinner. The nighttime atmosphere at the Boardwalk is so sweet and relaxing but my kids hardly got to experience it as they would be extremely tired by the end of most days. Even DH was too tired to explore so it was mostly me who got to experience the Boardwalk at night. Mommy alone time!
Day 2: Magic Kingdom and Epcot
While my kids being early risers (5:30-6am anyone?) is generally painful for everybody involved, it really helps us during our Disney vacations. We can generally get to the parks in time for EMH and we get sooo much done those first few hours of EMH days. After a beautiful almost-sunrise breakfast on the Boardwalk, we took the bus to MK and arrived about 25 min before park opening. Cast members let the crowds in before EMH hit and stopped us at the entrances of the various lands open for EMH. Once EMH started, we proceeded into Fantasyland.
WTP was down so we adjusted our plans a bit. We did Barnstormer first because I like to ease my kids into roller coasters instead of throwing them right off the bat onto 7DMT. (It helps prevent flat out refusals to do any roller coasters the rest of the day). Regardless, the lines for 7DMT climbed to 45 min within the first few minutes of park opening and I personally refuse to wait more than 20 min for ANY ride. After riding the Barnstormer several times, we then met Ariel at her Grotto and rode Under the Sea. WTP was up by then but the wait was 45 min so…no WTP for us. Since Frontierland was still not open, we did Small World earlier than we had planned. We then ran to BTMR…and it was down. sigh We waited in vain for another 10 minutes and then decided to give up. We decided to use our FP for Splash Mountain instead and then ran over to Adventureland to meet Aladdin and Jasmine, fill up on Dole Whip, and ride Magic Carpets. Then back to Fantasyland for our FP for PP.
The previous night, I was able to score a last minute BOG lunch reservation (thanks Reservation Finder!). I had eaten dinner at BOG on our first trip in 2014 but was underwhelmed by the food. I wanted to give BOG another try since many reviews rate the lunch as the best of the BOG meals. I really liked my French Onion Soup but found the Tuna Nicoise Salad just ok. The tuna I had at Captain’s Grille was better and the salad was barely dressed so tasted pretty bland. DH’s Braised Pork was much tastier and I stole a decent amount. DD8 was happy again with Shrimp from the Kid’s Menu and we coaxed DS5 to try the Grilled Cheese and Turkey Noodle Soup. He wasn’t that excited and mainly nibbled on the crusts. (My kid is unusual in that he generally prefers the crust to the actual grilled cheese sandwich). Much to my pleasant surprise, my kids opted to eat in the West Wing. I had thought that the darkness and frequent thunder would scare them but nope, they had fun staring sideways at the Prince/Beast’s painting the entire time to “catch” it turning to the Beast. We stopped by Gaston’s Tavern for LeFrou’s Brew as dessert and some light shopping while waiting for our FP to meet Elena and Cinderella. Then some more shopping/browsing while we waited for a 4th FP to Monsters Inc Laugh Floor to activate. My kids had us go to MILF a total of 3 times this trip and loved it every time. We highly recommend it! I was hoping to grab more FPs then for Buzz or TS but there were no more available and the waits were too long. So we decided to make a stop at the Confectionary and then head back to the hotel to rest. I got a Mickey rice krispy treat and DD8 got powdered sugar candy. Just looking at the latter makes my mouth feel like it’s drying up but DD8 loves it. When on vacation…
After resting in our hotel room for a little bit, we walked over to Epcot WorldShowcase and had a delicious dinner at Les Halles. We all shared a Brie aux Pommes, Croissant Jambon Fromage, Quiche Lorraine, and Roule Lard and Fromage. We also had a coffee pastry dessert (I apologize but I can’t remember the actual name but it looked and tasted like an Opera Cake), DD8 also enjoyed some macarons and took the remaining home. After dinner, we walked around World Showcase a little. DD8 and I got our traditional henna tattoos in Morocco but boy, they really jacked up the prices! I think it’s doubled in price from just a year ago! If those prices keep skyrocketing, I’ll have to seriously reconsider our “tradition”.
We then enjoyed Strawberry and Cherry Kakigori from Kabuki Cafe in Japan while listening to the acapella group, American Sound Machine, in the American Pavillon. My kids were transfixed by the guy who could make all sorts of interesting sounds without any instrument but his voice. After that, we browsed Italy, Germany, and Norway a little before heading back to the hotel. I then had a nice pina colada from the kiosk on the Boardwalk before calling it a night.
To be continued…