If you haven’t read the first part, and you have any interest in it, click HERE to read part one.
Part two - Electric Boogaloo
Wow, that was a long part one. I would say this would be more brief, but NAH, that’s not how I roll.
Tuesday, June 15th (this is the actual date, made an error in Monday’s date, doh!)
Since this was the first morning staying at the POLY, I managed to snag a breakfast reservation at the KONA CAFE. Not sure if you know or not, but this one is hard to get because it’s the only sit-down on property that was open at the time. 'Ohana was still being refurbished, and then there’s the QS option (not bad - Cap’t Cooks), and the Kona to go order system on MDE mobile.
But c’mon, coffee drinkers know what is up with the KONA COFFEE PRESS. You want $9 worth of magic brown water? Then you know what’s up - Kona all day, keep the sleepy eyes away!
We got seated with the lovely MARY by host TIM (fun, quiet guy… but not for long with me around) who said that rainy, overcast days were the best days to plan golfing or when locals went to Disney. So yeah, I guess that means that we’re READY to become locals. Where do I sign up for THAT action?
Mary was, in a word, UNIQUE. She was fast, of course, and pleasant, naturally, but also the only one that could fix the regular coffee machine in the back when it went kazoo. It’s a sit down restaurant, but if you don’t get people their IHOP pitcher of coffee immediately at the POLY, apparently, a turf war (HER words) goes down.
Between fixing the coffee machine, negotiating with the wait staff for people to take turns filling their coffee carafe’s for the tired piles of people sitting in their booths with interesting faces and not-so-nice commentary to the Cast Members (CM’s), she managed to charm us and talk to us personally. I love that, I encourage that, and I always (to my husband’s chagrin) ask what the CM likes to eat at this establishment. We may not always agree, but when it’s a win, it’s AMAZING!
Mary swooped to the rescue with my kona coffee, a warm mug for me, and a COLD mug for my hubby to put his MONSTER ZERO in (so he could toast to a tasty breakfast with me). Talk about pixie dust, we were laughing and happy all before our delicious breakfast came to the table.
DH got the Tonga Toast at first, but he hesitated. Mary gave him a sideways “is anyone looking at me” glance, and we all leaned in to whisper. “Hon, if you are a vegetarian, we can work with you. It’s not on the menu anymore, but how about the BIG KAHUNA with some substitutions?”
I was vibrating with happiness, as I’m a Disney Liner geek, and I knew about the meal she was offering. There are usually a few off-menu items available (oooh, like at Skippers’ Canteen / Jungle Cruise restaurant in MK - more on that in a future post!), all you have to do is BE A HUMAN BEING AND TALK TO PEOPLE like people, not your underlings. Yeah, we all paid good money to be here, don’t be a to people, no body likes it.
TIP - Talk to your Waiter / Waitress and ask what they like, and if they have any recommendations - be open to surprise and magic everywhere, and the Universe will find you and treat you well
(Sorry, that’s preach-y, I hear it… but wow, try it, please try it. They will replace your meal if you hate it.)
THIS pic, from the web, is pretty accurate. That is french toast, macadamia nut pancakes with macadamia nut butter, eggs (your style), potatoes (were made with onions and red peppers for his), Ham (he asked that they keep the ham), and BACON (for me!!!)
He smelled it, we share, it’s all good.
I got the regular order of Macadamia nut pancakes, which I got with… yes, BACON! I don’t make it at home anymore (we’re mostly vegetarians at this point, HIM more than ME… lol), but when on a trip, I enjoy myself. The pineapple and the butter melt together into a little pile of joy on top. So good, so many nuts, so rich… I could only eat half. (Maybe too much bacon? Nah)
Mary came back at one point, and I noticed her jewelry. It was also UNIQUE, so I asked her about it. Turns out she is also an artist, and she had some amazing pictures on her phone (I made her show me, don’t get in trouble Mary, it’s my fault) of her work. She started talking about the resin, and how she added the metal, and that’s when she started educating us on ORGONE. Look it up, it’s fascinating. "Orgone is a pseudoscientific concept variously described as an esoteric energy or hypothetical universal life force… "
Anyway, it influences her work, and my DH perked up and joined the question and answer session that we were enjoying together. Tim came by and said, “phew, finally, a happy table this morning!” We all laughed, finished our meal and checked out. I hit up twitter immediately to #castcompliment the duo, and we cruised through the two gift shops at POLY that were finally open. Traded for a cool JAWA pin at the upstairs shop, and bought a resort magnet for our fridge at the downstairs shop… so cute!
Wrapped up our little gifts in my little bag, and we were off to Disney Springs.
TIP - If you are planning on spending any time in Disney Springs, go EARLY (before lunch, opening preferred), be FLEXIBLE (because the patterns of entry and egress are changing with the times), and avoid the weekends if at all possible. Because people… ALL the people, from ALL the Orlando area and resorts, flock here for the weekend, for dinner, and now for lunch too it seems
I really wanted to rest at the resort, but DH knows I’m a fan of Disney art, and DS has a bunch of it. He’s also a S.H.I.E.L.D. fan, and we are both SW geeks, so there’s a lot to enjoy at DS. Oh, and the Candy Cauldron, Goofy’s Candy place (has amazing icys, try the banana flavor!), Marvel store, SW store(s) (there’s the one in the strip, and the one at the end near World of Disney - much more like Batuu shopping in there, you should go!)
We grabbed an Uber and got dropped off at the Cirque du Soleil end, because I figured we could walk from that end to the major shopping end, have all our bags, and leave at that entrance near Earl of Sandwich / Christmas Tree walk before the lunch crowds got there.
Drop off was smooth (be aware, they WILL NOT LET YOU IN EARLY, if you are too early, you have to wait), but we had to walk through the back pre-security side, through the garage, until we got to enter near the AMC. I guess no donut shop this time, maybe we can try that new place next trip. Not that we were hungry, more just curious.
We get through security, me forgetting to hold my umbrella OUTSIDE of my bag and IN FRONT OF ME when I walked through the metal detector / image screener thingee with Security. A quick bag check, and we were off to the Candy Caldron for our first icey drink of the day - flavor was BLUE .
The Candy Caldron has all of the candy and treats, but so does the GOOFY candy store on the other end of DS. We just got icy drinks and walked into the other stores. The heat was brutal and humid, even with our fans on our necks. It was a small joy to sip that blue goo and window shop. Nothing in either of those strip stores was worth a buy for us, so we moved along the strip to see what Gideon’s wait time was like at the bakery.
DH called it - two hours already. Nope. No thanks. If you really, REALLY want Gideon’s Bakery treats (and you should, they’re amazing), go to their East Orlando website and pre-order for the following day. You tell them when you are coming, what you want, pay on the web, and they will even individually wrap them (makes it safer for travel) for you… ALL BEFORE YOU ARRIVE. Check out the WEBSITE HERE to see what I’m talking about. We didn’t do it this trip, but next trip for sure, it’s WORTH THE UBER - your tongue can’t repel flavor of this magnitude. (one of our favorite SW jokes - watch the ROBOT CHICKEN video by clicking the link)
OK, so we’re walking, storm clouds coming, and LOTS OF LUNCH LOOKIE-LOOS were arriving. People were aimlessly wandering, talking on their smart phones, no masks on 95% of them. Oh, yes, the mask mandate was outside = OK for no mask, inside = mask at Disney in most areas for the day BEFORE, but this was the first day you didn’t have to wear a mask inside if you didn’t want to (as a non-CM). Nope! We’re wearing masks inside. Sorry, don’t want to get sick, vaccinated as we were, and still a little freaked by the shear numbers of people at the happiest resort destination on earth. Derp, I know, derp, what did we expect?
People were going MASK FREE BANANAS in the parks. DH did an estimate based on stats and other nerd fun (hey, you’re on vacation, go nuts), and this was what he surmised:
5% or less of people in the park are wearing masks
then assume 40% are not vaccinated
and 10% are infected
50,000 people in the park
5,000 are infected
47,500 are unmasked
(Frankly, I think he told me this to encourage me to wear my mask… he has a slight phobia about pandemics, it’s a miracle I’ve been able to get him to go on vacation, or even OUT of the house)
Picture of DH outside every store at Disney
We made our way to the PIN store, and looked at all of the limited edition pins. Remember, we already put down over $100 the previous night, so I kept my opinions on things I might want mostly to myself. I love pins, but wow, we have THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS worth of them. Should make the people our Son sells them to on eBay after we cross the rainbow bridge very happy.
Sneaky-hunky-monkey-man-DH managed to sneak a pin purchase in, and we laughed and hugged as we marveled over the treasure. We snaked around the Co-op, purchased even MORE art, and struck up a fun conversation with the CM in the art/dress shop in the back. She had a service dog on the floor next to her, and was disabled, but really was more energetic than both of us on vacation. Must be the A/C? Yeah, sure, that’s it, it’s the A/C.
Her service animal was very large and sleepy, lying to her side sprawled out on the cool floor. She was a cute puppy and had the cutest name - Thumbelina. Awwww!!!
We bought a few cool pieces that need to be framed, so I’ll be looking for the MICHAELS STORE coupons for custom framing sales, as the sizes were a little odd on these matted pieces. Still, adorable!
DH wanted to check out WORLD OF DISNEY, but once again, they had changed the entry and exit procedures to the store. It seemed they wanted us to walk all the way back to the now empty/closed THE VOID area and get into a cue to go inside. It was NOT very busy (for WoD, that is) from what we could see from the outside. DH threw up his hands and said NOPE! We were both hot, and this was just irksome, so we kept moving along.
TIP - Keep your DH, DW, and all the D-kiddos cool and happy… but ESPECIALLY the DH
Walking around the Star Wars store on the end of the row (wow, I can’t remember the name) was great! They have larger, Pooh-sized clothing options here most of the time, and DH even tried on two jackets (they looked fantastic). He has the orange puffy jacket they sold originally at GALAXY’S EDGE/Batuu, and everyone compliments him on the bright orange color… which is also his favorite. He looks really good and really happy in it, so that makes me especially happy to see him in it.
In the corner of the store, there was a small cue and a small glass case near what I believe is normally the dressing room area. These smart vendors set up a small space to sell the heavy, cool, metal lightsabers (i.e. - the REY one I got the night at Batuu, Mace Windu, Kylo Ren, all the greats), and the line was pretty short. Like us, I feel like people were surprised to see them in this store. There were A LOT of cool merch items from Batuu in this shop.
TIP - If you KNOW you’re probably going to buy a bunch of heavy SW gear, MAYBE check out this store at DS first; You can ship your goods home, all at once, and not carry them around Batuu with you and your drippy blue milk. It costs no more than $40 NO MATTER HOW HEAVY OR HOW MUCH you ship at time of shipment purchase. This is a luggage saver, a back saver, and sanity b/e you know you can get it home safely, or easily replaced, if Disney ships it to your house. It will take about 10 or so business days, SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS in case the shipment gets lost, broken in transit, or stolen by a scurvy porch pirate (Disney insures it)
So yeah, ship it, baby.
DH was supposed to pick out something pricey for the upcoming Father’s Day at Disney. So far, no dice. I was getting antsy at this point and asked him to PLEASE send me an Amazon list, because I wasn’t seeing him making any great purchase moves, and I was worried that our Sunday at home would be empty handed.
Pro-TIP - Amazon Prime is your friend when your DH isn’t sure what he wants for Father’s Day
(yeah, I was ordering him stuff later that night like a crazy lady in the bathroom out of sight… good times)
So we end up in the Art store, and it’s all pretty lovely, but we want to connect to the art if we’re going to buy anything. This is one of our favorite stores on property, and it usually isn’t crazy-busy inside, so you can soak up the A/C and walk around shopping as slowly as you like. The CM’s are very gregarious and helpful, and if you let them know what you’re interested in, they can sometimes even work some magic for you.
OK - backstory so you can also connect.
Last trip, we went to AK and rode the Safari ride. There were lines, we had to wait (enjoying dole whip, the best way to wait, IMHO) for a socially distanced seat in the weird plexiglass seated buggy. A couple had two little kids, and they were doing that thing all families do with little kids - trying to connect them to the thing HAPPENING, not the toys they didn’t buy on their way to the ride. The little girl had 1/2 of what we assumed was a single safari kit, and the boy had the other… but wanted ALL of it. He wore the hat, kept poking at the girl, who kept poking back… it was sibling rivalry at it’s finest, and in the lovely heat in the plexiglass prison. They sat in front of us, we were privy to the entirety of their family from start to finish, and they were much louder than the lady driving the ride.
Before we came on this trip, we watched the Disney+ Animal Kingdom series, and some other NatGeo ones that weren’t as good at storytelling as Disney… because, well, Disney. One of them, can’t remember which, talked about the PAINTED DOGS, and how they had to be very careful with their interaction, structure, group mentality. In a nutshell, if they have to separate them for medical care, for example, they have to trick the group (and the singular animal) into thinking that they are ALL together, with NO ONE separate. If a painted dog goes away from the group for too long, they won’t accept him back into the fold. This is troublesome when they need medical check ups or care, so they have a whole system to make them comfortable and unaware of the separation and re-grouping of the dogs.
So here we are, on the safari, and BOOM, there are the painted dogs. So pretty! So cute! Grouped together, my DH and I ooooh-ed and aaaah-ed at them, but the kids were still really annoyed and fighting over the fake binoculars, missing the ride. Then, something glorious happened. The painted dogs started making piles, raising their tails (they are super cute, it’s all cute, even the experience). I poked my DH and said “uh-oh, it’s potty time” as we laughed.
The little boy heard it, and his eyes got as wide as saucers, and he screamed Daddy, look, daddy, the dogs are pooping! The little girl squealed, the entire car of distanced passengers, even the driver, laughed at their joy. They were finally connecting, and they forgot all about the toy war. We were all lost in the beauty of the painted dogs, and their tilted heads at us gawking at them… it was a magic moment.
DH bought me a painted dog toy from the AK store that day, and it sits on the back of our couch. When someone is being grumpy, the other might grab the dog, turn it around, and pop up it’s painted tail. Brings a laugh in the best and worst of times.
I am WAY OFF THE RAILS here, but love these tidbids, sorry for dancing in the weeds… but that’s the backstory of the painted dogs.
So BACK TO ART OF DISNEY STORE, there we are, talking to a CM, and she says “have you seen this?” because we mentioned we were going to AK for dinner later.
It was a Joe Rohde print of his painting titled “African Wild Dogs”… it was framed… it was perfect. This is a pic of it I found on the web… the frame is awesome! Don’t you just want to chomp on those perfect little ears?!? ::chomp chomp:::
DH bought it for me and had it shipped to our home with the art we bought at the Co-op. I am a very lucky gal
TIP - As long as you buy it on property, have the receipt, it isn’t food/drink item or container, and it isn’t from the countries, Disney will ship it to your home for a fee (i.e. - Disney has to be able to replace it for you if it’s broken, and those aren’t operated by Disney all the time… so Epcot country stuff has to ship from the country when you buy it, or you’re taking it home in your suitcase)
We saw the storm clouds coming, and decided to skip the Goofy store and head to the Uber area. We got into the car minutes before the sky erupted in buckets of rain again. Phew! No co-op art to worry about getting wet! It was coming down so hard and fast that the driver was having a hard time seeing the road.
We made it to AK, but there was no place to drop us off with an overhang. Correction, there WAS a space where the buses for Good Neighbor hotels pick up their customers, but DERP, I said to the driver “you can just drop us off as close to the front as possible”.
DH, I found out later, was super-annoyed that I did that, because we had no choice but to get wet, even with umbrellas, as we made our way to the security and front gate. Oh well, such is life, I made a mistake. Sorry, but he was hot and we were soaked, so we just kinda went with it. Later he was fine, but my bad, I probably should have just let him take the lead.
I guess when it comes to Disney, I’m usually the one that knows everything and takes the lead so to speak. I just thought I was taking care of us by trying to get to what I thought I saw near the drop off, which was another shelter. It was actually the Security area, FAR from the drop off area. The Uber guy was like, uh, oh well, see you later… lol.
Anyway, we got over that bump and headed toward YAK AND YETI. It is pretty tasty, but this is one of the few restaurants where I don’t need a reservation to get in, no matter how full it is on the app.
TIP - Join the LANDRY SELECT club at least 2-weeks prior to your arrival at Disney. It costs $25, but you get that back on the card immediately for purchase (aka - money taken off of your bill by the restaurant in their group of your choice at time of visit). You ALSO get a $25 GC every year for your birthday. The Birthday Reward is automatically loaded onto the Landry’s Select Club card on the first day of the month of your birthday and will expire on the 15th of the following month. For example, if your birthday is June 30, your card will be loaded on June 1 and can be used until July 15th.
Why should you join the LANDRY SELECT club, aside from that info I just gave you, earning points towards free food, etc? Well, you can walk up to any LANDRY SELECT restaurant WITHOUT a reservation and get put on the list. Even when they are booked solid. Every-single-time. We almost exclusively use it at Yak & Yeti (because fried rice and lettuce cups and spicy shrimp and chicken tiki masala), but they have quite a few other awesome restaurants under their umbrella as well.
READ THIS BLOG ENTRY from Brian at Touring plans, and you can learn all about it… as well as get to their website, see the restaurants, and maybe save some $$$ while you slide into a reservation at a tasty AK table service spot.
We got seated in less than 10-minutes, and they were full… so bonus points. The rain came down, then went dry and sunny, and came down again several times during our meal. We got seated upstairs in a great location, which unfortunately had a bunch of parents that had completely tuned out their children, who were just in overload mode and making everyone uncomfortable.
They were throwing things at other parties… is that OK? I vote no.
Get off your phone, your IG, and pay attention to your family.
Remember… your family?
Luckily, food was served really quickly, so it wasn’t too terrible in the danger zone. We ordered all appetizers / sides and shared, it was lovely.
Firecracker Shrimp (Crispy fried shrimp tossed in a creamy, spicy sauce, Asian slaw which is more like a salad to soak up all the goodness of the sauce and s-krimp-s)
(PS - I don’t like seafood, and I love this)
Lettuce Cups - Minced chicken breast, chopped vegetables, crisp lettuce cups, and this AMAZING Saigon Haison sauce which we both wanted to bathe in. I wonder if they sell this sauce at WEGMANS
House Fried Rice - A friend from our HR department told me about YAK & YETI, and mentioned that this was the reason they fell in love with the restaurant. She goes with her Mom to Disney several times a year, and this was always a stop on their journey because of the rice. You can get a version of this from the QS café outside, but THIS version has a bunch of different meats in it. Chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, and of course egg and veggies. It’s a BIG portion, so don’t feel bad if you can’t share it all and maybe take some back with you.
I love, love, LOVE Flight of Passage (DH will ride), and the roller coaster Expedition Everest (DH will NOT ride… lol). But this trip was supposed to be about relaxing, so we just smiled and said “let’s hit the gift shop and get outta here”.
That’s weird for me, I’m a 25k steps-per-day kind of Disney touring gal. DH expressed his desire to relax at the hotel pool during this trip, and promised to stay off work email, so it seemed like the right call. Each day, it was closer to 12k, and each day I put on the pre-blister tape to keep those blisters at bay. It really made a difference, hot spots never formed a full-blown blister alert. Sweat and socks are not friendly on my feet, and I probably need to train more before a Disney trip… I know what’s coming.
It’s the standing more than the walking that gives me blisters. Am I the only one?
We got back to the hotel, got a few drinks from the mini fridge, and went to the quiet OASIS pool. I grabbed our shoes, put them in their own shoe packing bag, grabbed a couple of shirts, and put our shoes in the dryer in the laundry room for about 45 minutes. We sat by the pool, and thought out loud to ourselves “we should totally do a pool morning/early afternoon tomorrow, and then hit DHS tomorrow for our Brown Derby reservation”.
TIP - plan pool time AND nap time into every trip… every day if possible. It made a go-go-go trip pattern into a chill-go-chill pattern, and it was more like a vacation that a boot camp.
Wow, that’s a lot of text. I’ll pull up my phone and post some more pictures in a reply to the comment area below. If you are interested in more, I can trip report tomorrow on WEDNESDAY’s activities, etc. Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for dancing in the weeds… er, rain, with my trip report!
~ Josie ~
aka - Imaginette