7/12-7/18 @ WDW
Resort: Port Orleans French Quarter
2 Adults, no children
Deluxe Dining Plan
4 day hopper plus fun tickets (military discount)
Memory maker (military discount)
7/18-7/21 @ Universal
Doubletree at Universal Entrance
4 day 3 park to park tickets (military discount)
Before I give the rundown of our trip, let me tell you a little bit about us to help to explain why and how we did what we did. We live in Houston and often get asked if we are sisters rather than a married couple. However, when at Disney this doesn’t really happen even when we have on matching t-shirts. This is nice because the awkward “no” response and then the awkward “huh” look the individual responds with is always fun (insert sarcasm emoji). We planned this trip in celebration of our 2nd anniversary (7/15). The trip would also be a celebration for myself as I would mark the 1st anniversary of gastric sleeve surgery (7/13).
You may be asking why would you do the deluxe dining plan if you can’t eat more than a child, but I will explain how we ate some amazing food and got to have some great experiences using the dining plan. I read multiple reviews and threads that discussed the cons of the deluxe dining plan and how it was a waste of money. I beg to differ and I firmly believe it was perfect for our trip. We used the plan to eat at signature restaurants and character dining that we would never pay out of pocket for due to my limitations. We shared meals everywhere they would allow us to do so. The only non-buffet/character meal that wouldn’t was Via Napoli. I eat very small portions, but I have to eat more often. I eat about 6 small meals a day. We are foodies, moreso now than before my surgery because if I’m going to eat something, I want it to be good because I only eat a few bites. I apologize if I use “foodie” language that doesn’t make sense. Also, Kona and Be Our Guest were our only “repeats” from our visit at Spring Break. (Yep, we were at WDW in March and guess what, we are going back in November. LOL) We spent $1272ish on the plan plus $200ish in tips. After we got back, I totalled up what we would have spent out of pocket eating what we did where we did and it came out to roughly $1650ish. I would say we got our money’s worth even though we ended up turning a credit into 3 snack credits our last night and bought some snacks to bring home including a little mermaid lollipop for a friend’s little girl.
We were able to take advantage of Disney’s wonderful support of our armed forces. My wife is a disabled veteran. We were able to not only get the room discount, but also the tickets and memory maker using her military ID. Military families are allotted 6 tickets per calendar year and we are going to use that benefit to the fullest this year. We bought the tickets ahead of time at a base here in Texas so we could get our fastpasses 60 days out. If anyone is a military family and has questions or needs help, feel free to ask. Now, on with the report which will really read like a giant dining review because how many times can you read that rides need to be updated and 1970’s animatronics as nostalgic as they are, are really kinda creepy. I will talk about Pandora, though (WOW!!!). Also, I’ll talk about using the DAS. On with the show…
Day One- Arrival and Disney Springs
We drove from Texas and broke up the drive by spending the night in Tallahassee. This put us into Orlando around 1. When we arrived at Port Orleans-French Quarter right as rain was in the area. Our room was ready, but bell services couldn’t help us because lightning was in the area. We had a late lunch reservation at Boathouse at 3:30, so I didn’t stress not having our luggage in our room before we left for Disney Springs. We decided to take the boat from POR to DS. It was a nice little ride and fun to see the different DVC resorts along the route. Lunch at Boathouse was wonderful. We shared our meal, so we only used 2 dining credits as Boathouse is a signature restaurant and requires 2 credits per meal. It was quite hot and humid outside (imagine that… Florida in July), even for us being from Houston. We didn’t want anything heavy, so we started with the pimento cheese dip. It was great! It had a great kick to it and came with some lovely pickled vegetables. We liked it so much that took the rest back to the room with us and snacked on it the next day. For our entree, we ordered the lobster roll. My wife ate so many lobster rolls when we went to Boston a few summers ago that her cholesterol numbers were jacked up when she had routine testing done after we got back. Therefore, it was a no brainer that we had to try it. I enjoyed it, but she said it needed a little more flavor aka seasoning. I get what she meant, but I liked the fact that the lobster “shined” in it. By the time it was time for dessert, there was no way either one of us could eat it. We decided to get it to-go. We ordered the key lime pie in a jar. We ate a few bites later that night and it was excellent. I ended up eating the rest of it Saturday night.
After we finished eating, we headed over to guest relations to activate our tickets. If you are using a military ticket, you have to activate them at guest relations. You can do it at any of the parks or in Disney Springs. Even though they require this extra step, they definitely worth the savings. We also wanted to buy a Memory Maker package using the military discount. Both the tickets and the memory maker are discounted by 50%. My wife’s disability is not “visible.” However during our March trip, we discovered there were situations where it limited her ability to enjoy her time at WDW. Therefore thanks to Tom Bricker’s article on Disney Tourist Blog about his dad’s experience with the Disability Access Service, we planned to get it as well while at guest relations. We had to wait maybe 5 minutes for someone to assist us at guest relations. A very nice bit about GR at DS is that they have seating for while you are waiting. They take your name at the door and put in a “queue.” They call your name when a cast member is available to assist you. Much smoother process than doing anything at GR in the parks. Highly recommend DS GR if it works into your plans. The CM helping us was still earning her ears, but we were happy to let her “use” us for training and I told her I would ask hard questions if she needed me to. I was a trainer when I was in the restaurant biz and now I’m a teacher, so I’m a perfect person to practice with. She was able to activate our tickets and get us our memory maker package. However because DS does not have attractions, you can’t get DAS at DS. Didn’t know that, but now I do and that’s fine. I understand. By the time we finished at GR, the rain was coming so we hopped on a bus and headed back to POR. Now I was stressing not having our luggage because we had a 7:30 reservation at Yachtsman and we both needed to change clothes. I called bell services and they were still down due to lightning in the area. I completely understand ensuring CM safety, but it rains in Florida in July everyday. There needs to be a way to help guests when it’s raining. As a result, my wife and I went down and got our luggage out of our car ourselves. Not fun, but had to be done.
It was still raining by the time we needed to leave to head to the Yacht Club. Thank goodness my wife grabbed her golf umbrella when we got our luggage out. Our dinner was amazing! I agree with those who claim the Yachtsman as the best steak in WDW, even though we haven’t eaten at Le Cellar. Again, we shared our meal and it was a 2 credit meal. We ordered the caesar salad as our app. It was excellent. I eat caesar salad all the time and it was one of the best I’ve ever had. Very fresh! Our server told us the romaine was grown in the Land pavilion. It wasn’t served in the typical “caesar” manner. It was served more like a wedge salad with the dressing drizzled on rather than the romaine being chopped and tossed in the dressing. If you don’t normally order a caesar because it’s swimming in dressing, this is one to consider because that was not the case. A nice surprise was grated hard boiled egg on top. The crouton was more like a parmesan tuile than a focaccia one, but it was very good. It also included a few slices of coppa secca (like salami) and they added a nice salty bite and texture to the salad. The plate was garnished with a slice of preserved lemon. I’ve always been curious about what it tastes like because we see it show up in “Chopped” baskets from time to time. I love lemon anything, but my wife doesn’t. I cut a little piece to see what it tasted like and then I built a bite with the salad, coppa secca, and lemon. OMG! Awesome! She even like it because the preserving process mellowed the tartness of the lemon. For our entree, we ordered the 18 oz. 21 day aged Kansas City strip. We subbed a potato gratin for the malt vinegar fries. The steak was delicious. My wife was in heaven being the steak lover she is. I’m not a huge steak fan, but I eat more of it now being with her. The steak was tender and cooked perfectly. The chimichurri was a nice addition. The gratin was great, but how can you go wrong with potatoes and cheese. My wife had a glass of cabernet that she asked the server to recommend and she loved it. For dessert, we ordered the sorbet trio (cherry, peach, and pineapple). It was a great way to finish the meal. It was light and delicious. After dinner, we headed back to POR to get ready for the next day… golf and Animal Kingdom.