Alright, here’s the start of our trip report…
This was the first adults only trip that my wife and I have taken since children, so we wanted to check off a few things that we don’t get to do with children. Also, whenever I plan trips, I feel the need to keep everyone happy/make sure they get to do things they want, which often comes at the price of long days trying to fit everything in. My friends and family have joked that they’ll get me a little flag to carry so that I can make sure the “tour group” is following me. This trip was planned to be different: we weren’t seeing everything; we were going to slow down; we were going to relax.
We landed at MCO and went to the rental car garage, thank goodness we have joined every rental car club so we could skip the line at the counter. Granted this doesn’t apply to every airport, but at bigger ones like MCO, for the sake of your time and family, sign up for the club of your rental agency… it’s free and you’ll skip what could be an hour or more wait just to decline insurance and tell the counter person that you won’t upgrade today.
We drove straight to Shades of Green (don’t forget cash for the two tolls at $2.50 apiece!) This was our first time staying here, and will definitely stay here again in the future. The rooms are spacious, the grounds are pretty, and the location is pretty good. For value resort prices, the monorail is easily accessible.
After dropping our bags at our room, we walked to the Polynesian with intentions to ride the monorail to MK. But, we’re sans children and on vacation, so we need a drink! Detour to Trader Sam’s. We’d never had luck in the past without it having a wait or being crowded, but middle of the afternoon we were able to walk right in and share a table with some strangers. I figured the purpose of drinking there vs my room is the show, so I ordered an Uh Oa. The waitress cautioned me that it was large… but I’m on vacation! We enjoyed the drinks, got a quick buzz, paid and headed to the Magic Kingdom. Because I’m normally the ‘go, go, go!’ type, slowing down right away was a pleasant change for my wife.
At the Magic Kingdom we stopped to wish Mickey and Minnie a happy birthday, and I really liked their outfits. We then proceeded to ride Space, Pan, pirates, big thunder, UTS and meet Ariel before heading to check-in for the dessert party. By this time it was about 15 minutes before the start of the fireworks, and it was awesome getting walked right into the viewing area where we easily grabbed two spots on the back railing. I set up my trips and took some photos, which aren’t the best since the view is a little obstructed, but we could easily reach out and grab our happily ever after.
After fireworks, we went to the desserts and filled ourselves on egg rolls, ooey gooey toffee cake, and a whole slew of other treats. We were pleased and really liked it. Some of the desserts were okay, and I probably wouldn’t pay for the greasy egg rolls separately, but getting to ride rides up until the last moment and easily watch the fireworks was a great end to our first day.
Flower and Garden is our favorite time of year in EPCOT. Seeing the whole park in bloom is awesome, and the food was also good. I think food and wine is over rated with all the other festivals having food booths. Sure there are more options at F&W, but who (outside of bloggers) will really eat at all of them?
Because we were relaxing this trip, we slept in a bit and drove to the Poly for a breakfast reservation at Kona. The restaurant wasn’t crowded, but our waiter still managed to be hard to track down, especially when it was time to pay. I had the Tonga Toast, and it was tasty as usual.
While the walk from SoG isn’t far, we drove because of the reservation and parked close to the TTC to make it easy to get to EPCOT. We arrived after rope drop, and the lines for the bag check moved quickly. After thanking the Phoenicians, we rode Soarin’. The British father and daughter in front of us were finishing a rider swap where the daughter already went once, and it was to be the father’s first ride… Well she wasn’t having it. We were able to strike up a conversation and distract her, but as soon as it was time to buckle in, she wanted out. We felt bad for the dad, but they left the theater without riding. Poor guy, but good father.
Another first for me was going by the DVC lounge, it wasn’t hot yet, and our legs weren’t tired, but free soft drinks! We grabbed a couple, but declined any snacks since we were about to start our journey around the world eating to our hearts’ content.
We watched shows and snacked, enjoying the topiaries along the way. We made sure to watch Voices of Liberty, but other than that, we ate things that looked interesting and explored the pavilions. The only thing on our schedule was to get to the Frozen Ever After dessert party by 8p. I consulted the reviews from EasyWDW, so we figured we had a better chance of getting good dishes, and Josh steered us in the right direction.
After walking around the world, we went by the Disney Visa photo spot and got a picture with Mickey and Goofy and then with Joy and Sadness. There was only one other family in front of us for Joy and Sadness, and the characters were having great interactions with the family. The child had light up shoes, so he kept jumping to show them off, which Joy kept trying to jump to make her feet light up. We could’ve watched them play for a while. We weren’t in a rush, so we had fun watching the interactions. That moment was followed by riding Soarin’, and the gal next to me was riding for her first time. Listening to her giggles, oohs, and aahhs, was fantastic. Having ridden everything, it’s easy to get complacent and things are the same old same old. Getting to vicariously experience Soarin’for the first time was incredible. Hearing her excitement along the way was a highlight for my trip and a good reminder of how magical WDW can be.
We meandered to the fireworks check in, but there was some disorganization as people kept cutting past the line of people waiting to check in; I guess they had to beat us to the broccoli line.
We were seated at a table with a mother and her two adult daughters, and had pleasant conversation while enjoying the evening. The desserts were delicious, and the cheese sauce made the broccoli with eating. I think I liked the spread here better than for HEA, plus the addition of booze was nice. Our table was off to the side, so we didn’t have a good view of the lagoon due to the boat launch blocking part of it, but there was a more centralized table that wasn’t being used because a large party squished around fewer tables, so they let us watch from there. I must admit, the globe scene goes a lot faster when sitting with a drink in hand!
We enjoyed the ride on FEA and not having to use a fast pass for it. And after the ride it was back to the room.
While our first day and a half was already great, today was the one I was looking forward to the most.
It started with breakfast at BoG after a ride in a main Street vehicle (something is only done once before due to strollers or weather or trolley shows getting in the way). We were still full from the night before, so we just split a meal, but I wish we hadn’t since moldy fruit and a quick talk with a manager resulted in our meal being refunded (too bad we didn’t get more food!)
After a few rides, we headed back down main Street for the Keys to the Kingdom tour. We grabbed water, selected our choice of lunch from Pecos Bills, and then gathered up. While 96% of the information was stuff I already knew, this was another great chance to slow down and look at the details. It rained on our tour of and on, but our guide kept us out of it for the most part. The guide pointed out a few of the windows like Walt’s being above the ice cream parlor facing the park and the Pseudonym Real Estate Development Company run by Roy Davis(Roy Disney), Bob Price, & Bob Foster, as a nod to the acquisition of land under the Florida Project.
We rode Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion, both by entering through the exit, and I wasn’t aware of the animatronic Safari guy on the bottom of the pole also being the grave keeper. Our guide controlled the mic on Jungle Cruise giving us various facts about the ride along the way, though the skipper did end the ride with a few jokes (please, Get Out!) I had avoided learning how the ballroom scene is done, and was surprised at the trick (I won’t give it away, as it’s easy to find). It was also neat seeing the parade float storage and floats being worked on just ahead of the parade that afternoon. Lunch was good and waiting for us with a private room and our own fixin’s bar.
The highlight of the tour was going down to the first floor into the Utilidoors (what you normally walk on is technically the second floor since the backstage/below stage area was built on ground level and everything else was built above it). While much of it is non-descript with gray walls and conduit, it was fun seeing the underbelly and watching CMs coming and going. There was a party happening and a meet and greet with Hades, but unfortunately we couldn’t stop. We also saw various characters in full makeup and wigs wearing sweats and t-shirts as they headed off to get ready for the parade.
Then back up stairs to see where Tinkerbell lands and the tour was over. All in all it was fun and worth the price. The parade was just stepping off, so we rushed to Frontierland to catch the start. Low and behold, some of the characters we saw getting ready were now in full costume smiling and waving.
After watching the parade, we headed back to the room to get ready for our dinner at Victoria and Albert’s. As we were approaching our room, we received a notice of a bomb threat two blocks from our son’s school. Well, that changed our mood and messed with our getting ready time. While trying to figure out what was going on and trying to relay everything to Grandma (who was watching our children and needing to pick up our son), we were a bit distracted. Fortunately it was all a fake threat, but now we were a bit rushed.
We hopped in the car and drove to the Grand Floridian… Sure, we could’ve walked to Poly and caught the monorail, but valet parking is complimentary when eating at V&A.
Before we even got to the outside of the Citricos/V&A entrance, we were greeted by one of our servers who escorted us in to meet Boris, the maitre d’, and we were walked through the kitchen back to the chef’s table.
I was surprised at how far back the kitchen was, it seemed like the hallways wound around before getting to the table.i always assumed the table was just off the main dining area, but it was on the far side of the kitchen.
Chef Aimee came out to greet us and we had a champagne toast. I didn’t note what it was, and I’m not a wine drinker so I can’t give a whole lot of details, but it was good and definitely not Cooks or Andre’s. Our glasses were filled (and they even refilled them for us), but I noticed that the Chef’s glass was half full, but hey, I guess she was working!