Oct 2009: Walt Disney World – Trip Report

Links to photos

Animal Kingdom
Epcot
Hollywood Studios
Magic Kingdom
Caribbean Beach Resort & few other places

Sat 10/17: Departure Day

I left work a bit early on Friday to make the drive home from Boston somewhat earlier than normal. I managed to get home around 7:00, which wasn’t too bad. Once we did the last minute packing, etc., we managed to get to bed around 10:30. However, the alarm at 4:15, for our 5:00 car service pickup, still came awfully early. The trip to the airport was uneventful and we had no problems checking our bags. Both were at 49 pounds; 50 is allowed. We hadn’t weighed them before, just lucky. (We had a duffel bag in one suitcase, so it wouldn’t have been hard to lighten one or both.) I do have to say it seems ages ago when we traveled with 31 lbs combined to Europe for two weeks. The flight down was fine, though we were about 20 mins late arriving.

After arriving, we grabbed our bags, changed Kyle from his PJs, and grabbed our car to head to my mom’s. (We got lucky and grabbed an HHR from National’s Emerald Club. This was good as we really needed the storage space.) We ended up getting to Beverly Hills around 12:30 after a stop at Publix for some groceries. We hung out at my mom’s house for a bit, doing some swimming despite the fact that is was only in the 70s (and the pool was 82). After a visit with my grandparents and Uncle John and Aunt Laura, who also happen to be visiting, it was a uneventful evening. We all turned in early since we had been up since 4:15.

Sun 10/18: At my mom’s

On Sunday, we hung around for much of the day. Suzanne, Kyle, and my mom went out to do some shopping. In the afternoon, my grandparents and aunt and uncle came over for some hot dogs and hamburgers. We wanted to get an early start the next morning, so it wasn’t a late night. We had a very nice visit over the weekend.

Mon 10/19: First Day at Disney

To Disney

Monday morning was another early one, up at 6:00. We had hoped to get going by 6:30, but things took a bit longer than expected. We rolled out of the driveway at exactly 7:00. I had figured on a two hour drive. That’s exactly what it was as we arrived at CBR at 9:00 on the nose. We would have been 20 minutes or so earlier, but there was an accident on the FL Turnpike just past 429, where we got off. Check in was smooth. We had done online check-in earlier in the week, but our room wasn’t ready yet.

Epcot

In front of Spaceship Earth
We hopped back in the car and headed to Epcot, our first park of the day. Coming into the park, Kyle seemed excited, but not really able to take it all in. Our first stop was Test Track. We weren’t sure Kyle was big enough, but wanted to check 40″ ride early on as it might have affected our touring plans. He made it easily. It was a bit of a trial by fire as TT is a pretty intense ride, especially for a 3 1/2 year old. He did okay, but wasn’t keen to go on again. We then headed over to The Land to ride Living with the Land. This boat ride was one of his favorites, though he didn’t like the thunderstorm in the rainforest at the beginning. (He’s not a fan of the dark or loud noises.) We got lucky as it was shut down for renovations earlier in October and wasn’t supposed to be open yet. I still say the old version, Listen to the Land, was much better.

After The Land, we headed up into World Showcase to make our way to lunch at the Biergarten in Germany. After a brief stop in China to start Kyle’s Kidcot mask, it was on to Germany. I was very much looking forward to lunch here and was not disappointed. Most of the food was reasonably authentic (the salmon and rote gr?tze — red berry sauce — were especially good). After lunch, we explored Germany, Italy, Japan, Morocco, and France. We ended up in the UK just as the British Invasion band was starting. We watched them for a bit before heading back to the car to head to the Magic Kingdom.

While doing the pre-show for Test Track, we received the voice mail that our room was ready, so we headed from Epcot to drop off the luggage. Kyle was asleep at this point, so I made one trip to the room while Suzanne waited with him and then she made a second trip while I waited.

Magic Kingdom

In the Magic KingdomAfter unloading, we headed up to the Magic Kingdom. We elected to take the ferry over as Kyle was still sleeping and we didn’t want to have to take him out of his stroller to fold it for the monorail. (It turns out you don’t have to fold strollers on the monorail unless it’s busy.) He woke up part way over and was very excited about the Magic Kingdom. (I have to admit, some of the ride and attraction ordering may be off. We wrote down what we had done each night, but managed to lose the notepad we had used.) Our first jaunt was up to Tomorrowland to ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (what used to be the Wedway People Mover). Kyle really liked this last time and did so again. I think we ended up riding it 4+ times during the week. We then headed over to Toontown. Kyle had said he wanted to ride the coaster (he had seen the one at Sesame Place earlier this year), so Suzanne was going to take him. However, when he saw the ride from the line, he quickly changed his mind. Next up was Fantasyland with a quick trip around the carousel, a showing of PhilharMagic, and It’s a Small World.

After dinner at Pecos Bill’s (our least favorite meal of the trip), it was back to Fantasyland for Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo (two more favorites), and the Tea Cups. Our last stop for the night was the Tomorrowland Speedway. Kyle actually got to “drive”, with me doing the gas and most of the steering. (I let Kyle do it at first, but was afraid he was going to get tossed out from the jerking side-to-side.) After this, Suzanne was nice enough to offer to drive Kyle back to the hotel so I could take some night photos, which I did. (I actually brought, and used, my tripod.) I did hit the Haunted Mansion during this time since Suzanne wasn’t real keen on going and the wait was 5 minutes. (I actually waited less than that to get into the stretching room.) I though Kyle might want to do this, but had forgotten how scary it would be for him. There’s always next time. After a long day, I headed back to hotel on the bus around midnight.

Tues 10/20: Epcot & Hollywood Studios

Epcot

I know we had spent Monday morning at Epcot, but the schedule worked out for it again on Tuesday as I had to return the rental car to the Dolphin hotel. Suzanne and Kyle took the bus as we had to take out the car seat for Kyle. We met up at The Land where we hopped in line for Soarin’. This ride regularly had 60+ minute waits, even when Test Track and Mission: Space were only 20-30 minutes. First thing in the morning, we waited around five. (The walk to the line took longer than the wait.) This is probably the second biggest attraction at Disney World, after Toy Story Mania. It was an excellent ride and Kyle loved it aside from the fireworks at the end. Next it was Living with the Land again and then on to The Living Seas with Nemo. The ride was cute. Kyle wasn’t excited about Turtle Talk, but once it started was enthralled. He didn’t want to sit up front with the other kids, but then wanted to move once it started. For those you don’t know, Turtle Talk stars Crush from Finding Nemo and he interacts with the audience, including the kids. It is phenomenally well done. Kyle was disappointed he didn’t get to talk to Crush, so we put it on our “do again” list for later in the week. We then did the Fire Prevention exhibit at Innoventions, which Kyle wasn’t into as much as I thought he’d be, had lunch at Sunshine Seasons in the Land (excellent roast chicken and desserts), and then headed back to catch the bus to the hotel for a quick play on the beach and a nap.

Hollywood Studios

After nap time, it was off to Hollywood Studios, formerly known as Disney-MGM Studios. I remember our first trip after it opened and it seeming like there wasn’t a lot to do. It’s still sort of that way, though there are more shows and a couple of big ticket rides. Our first stop was near Playhouse Disney to meet some characters, especially Handy Manny. Kyle & Handy Manny(We had planned to return later in the week to see the show as our schedule didn’t allow it now.) After meeting him along with the three of the four Little Einsteins, we headed up to Mama Melrose’s for our dinner reservation. The hostess asked if we were interested in the Fantasmic Package, which gives you priority seating at the show. (People generally line up 60-90 mins before.) Normally these are very hard to get but Disney added shows to a number of nights, including this one, only a few weeks before. I had considered calling and asking for a package but figured the show would be too intense for Kyle. As the hostess sat us, she told us to tell the server we were interested even if we weren’t as we got an appetizer, which is not normally included on the Dining Plan, which we did. (We ended up giving our priority pass to another family of three.) We then asked if we could get the calamari for two as our appetizer, the server said “Yes” and then looked at Suzanne and asked what she wanted. (I wonder if we could have gotten the mixed antipasto for 2 as well.) The food was very good.

After dinner, we took Kyle up to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground which he loved. Unfortunately, they closed at 6:30, so we only got a few minutes. We then headed back towards the gate (HS was closing at 7:00). The wait for the Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster was only 20 minutes and this was one of my “must-dos” (along with Tower of Terror and Expedition Everest since they were new and Big Thunder Mountain for nostalgic purposes; Space Mountain was closed for renovations). In fact, RnR has a single rider line, so I ended up getting right into the pre-show without waiting. The coaster was excellent, though it’s the only launched one I’ve been on.

After this, it was back to the hotel. We managed to get in a swim since it was early. The young kids’ play area closed at 8:00 once the lifeguards left, so we didn’t have much time there. Kyle loved the zero-entry aspect of the big pool and had lots of fun.

Wed 10/21: Animal Kingdom & Epcot

Animal Kingdom

Watchu looking at?It was our goal to make rope drop (opening) at Animal Kingdom this morning. We managed to do so. (Opening at 9:00 instead of 8:00 helped.) They did a really cure little show with Minnie, Goofy, and Mickey. At opening, we headed with a good chunk of the crowd to Kilimanjaro Safari. We go quite lucky and saw lots of animals, including a Rhino, Hippos, and a Cheetah. We also caught glimpses of a couple of lions. Next, I headed off to ride Expedition Everest (twice via the empty single-rider line) while Suzanne and Kyle headed off to the boneyard. Everest was a great coaster. The backwards part was especially cool. Kyle was disappointed in the Boneyard as there wasn’t any place to dig, but he didn’t want to check out the part on the far side of the bridge. We finally convinced him to do so and, lo and behold, there was a giant “sandbox”. (The sand was actually very coarse so as to stick too much.) After some time spent digging for bones, Suzanne and Kyle headed to the Triceratop Spin (akin to Dumbo). I headed to the Primeval Whirl (a “Spinning Mouse” type coaster). The wait was listed as 5 mins but was more like 20, and the ride was pretty lame (to the point that I suggested Suzanne might want to try it as she’s not big on coasters). Definitely not worth the wait. We then had an excellent lunch at Flame Tree BBQ, heading back to the hotel for a nap afterward.

Epcot

Yet another Epcot trip. (We ended up here four times.) Our first stop was Spaceship Earth, followed by Journey Into Imagination (the original was better, though you can’t dismiss anything with Eric Idle), and then some time in Innoventions at the Waste Management recycling exhibit (a real highlight for Kyle). We then headed to Italy for dinner, just missing some rain. (Kyle’s stroller got a bit wet as it was left outside.) Italy at nightWe then did most of what we had missed in World Showcase, including more in China (I never did do the store as I took pictures while Kyle and Suzanne went in), Norway (including the ride), Mexico (including the ride), and Canada. We ended up with a good spot for Illuminations in front of the Canadian store just as it started. Kyle enjoyed it quite a bit (sitting on my shoulders). We then took a quick trip to the UK to get the item for Kyle’s mask we has missed before. We then headed back to Future World and I did Mission Space while Suzanne and Kyle played in the playground at the exit. (It seemed that Mission Space had been toned down a bit since I was there in 2004, however, upon riding again on Sunday, I’m not so sure. And yes, both times I did the orange “more intense” training.) We then headed back to the hotel after a quick stop in the Mousegears shop.

Thurs 10/22: Hollywood Studios & The Magic Kingdom (Halloween Party)

Hollywood Studios

Tonight was the Halloween Party, so we decided to sort of wing it in the morning. We ended up getting a late start, eating breakfast at the CBR food court, and heading to Hollywood Studios for a few things. Kyle and Suzanne headed up to the playground while I did the Tower of Terror. This was my first time and is likely my favorite ride now. It was excellent. I also picked up a FastPass for later to do it a second time. We met back up just in time to catch the Playhouse Disney show. This was a “must-do” as Kyle is a big fan of Handy Manny and Little Einsteins. (This is odd since we don’t get cable and, hence, don’t get the Disney Channel. We do get DVDs from the library sometimes.) I headed back to the Tower of Terror for another ride while Suzanne and Kyle headed back to the playground, where I met them after I was done. We didn’t see all of the park, but we felt we had seen enough to be done for the week.

Magic Kingdom – Halloween Party

Pooh & KyleAfter quick trip back to hotel (mostly to get Kyle’s costume), we caught another bus over to the Magic Kingdom. We were really excited about tonight as it was time for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. We had heard very good things about this. Our first stop was to ride Aladdin’s Magic Carpets. (Kyle really likes these “Dumbo”-like rides. The flying fish Elmos at Sesame Place were also a hit.) We then happened on a good spot to watch the parade. We thought it was supposed to start in only 15 minutes, but it was more like 45 as we were in Fronteirland and it started on Main St. (This is the only parade I’ve ever seen at the MK that did so.) Next we headed over to the Crystal Palace for dinner. We were a bit concerned as people had been reporting waits of up to an hour even with reservations. It turned out that the wait was so short after check in that we didn’t even have time to sit on the porch after getting Kyle’s bag off his stroller. Dinner was excellent, one of the best of the trip. The server was incredibly friendly and the character interaction was really good. (Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet are here.) This was Kyle’s first character meal, so it was a bit special. Kyle loved marching in the parade. We even got to see a couple of characters twice.

After dinner, we happened on a Dance Party in front of the castle, which Kyle enjoyed. (It’s sort of like a stationary parade, with floats and characters even, and the audience can join in.) Afterward, we got our wristbands for the Halloween party. (The party is a specially ticketed event. Anyone without a ticket is asked to leave before it starts at 7:00.) Kyle got into his costume (a fireman, of course) and we headed off to ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (Peoplemover) again. While heading there, Buzz was reporting a wait of only 10 mins, so we hit that first. Kyle wasn’t too excited about it, but we told him maybe there was a fire inside. (I think a cast member made this hint.) He ended up really enjoying it. After being done here, we hit the TTA as planned. It was then time for the party to start, so we headed over to Adventure land to start some character meetings and trick-or-treating. Kyle wasn’t real big on characters tonight, but we did meet Baloo, Jane and Terk (from Tarzan), Genie and Abu (from Aladdin), and Mickey in his costume. Kyle & Suzanne with Mickey Genie and Abu were especially good, spending a good ten minutes playing around with Kyle. There were trick-or-treating stands set up throughout the park, so we hit a number of those. We could have gotten more candy during the evening, but it wasn’t a high priority. (We also knew we’d get more on actual Halloween in just over a week.) We ended up doing a bunch of rides during the evening including Aladdin’s Carpets, Pirates of the Caribbean, the carousel, Peter Pan (at Kyle’s insistent request — he probably saw the ride vehicles which look like boats), It’s a Small World, the Tea Cups, Dumbo, and the Speedway (also at Kyle’s insistent request). We weren’t too sure about Pirates, but decided to give it a try as the line was short. (We ended up literally walking onto a boat with no wait.) Kyle was a little unsure at first, especially where it’s really dark, but enjoyed it enough to request a second trip later in the week. Kyle feel asleep just before the parade, which was too bad as it was quite nice. (He even slept through the gravediggers group banging their shovels on the pavement.) After the parade, we headed over to Frontierland so I could ride Big Thunder Mountain, my last “must-do”. It was good, but after Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster and Expedition Everest, it seemed quite tame. That done, we headed out of the park and back to the hotel, getting there around midnight.

Fri 10/23: Animal Kingdom

Morning

Since we had a late night, we weren’t in a rush to get going. We awoke quite late and headed to the pool for a swim. Kyle got to spend a good amount of time in the little kids’ play area, though it should open before 10:00.

Animal Kingdom

Festival of the Lion KingAfter swimming, we headed out to Animal Kingdom. After lunch at Yak & Yeti counter service (the best CS meal of the trip), we headed over to see the Festival of the Lion King. This show was excellent and a real highlight. Kyle wasn’t too sure about the fire “juggler”, but liked the rest of it. We were glad there wasn’t a fire extinguisher handy. He might have tried to put out the fire. After this, we headed up to grab FastPasses for the safari to use later in the day. While Suzanne and Kyle hung out at the drums, I went and rode Everest a couple of more times. (Unfortunately, the single-rider line actually was a line this time.) We then took the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. We had heard mixed reports about this area, but we thought it was well done for kids. It would have been even nicer except Kyle had one of his, admittedly few, meltdowns while there. We then hopped on the train for the return trip and did the Pangani Forest trail.

Kyle was a little impatient, so Suzanne was going to take him for french fries for a snack while I took some more time for photos. (It was worth it to me as I got one of my favorite shots of the trip.) As they headed out, they happened on the afternoon’s parade. Kyle wanted to see it, so they waited until I was done, at which point Kyle and I watched the parade and Suzanne went to get the french fries. After the parade, it was time for our late afternoon safari. (Our FastPass window had already passed, but in nearly all cases, they don’t care you when you come back as long as it’s after the earliest time and the same day.) The second safari was also very good, though the driving was quite a bit rougher. (It made it hard to get good photos.) We did see the lions much better this time. After our safari, we walked around some of the trails around the Tree of Life. I have to admit I wasn’t too sure what to expect of the tree, but was completely blown away by the artistry and creativity. We next headed up to Tusker House for our dinner reservation. I had considered making them even later than 7:00, but was glad I didn’t as we were all ready for dinner by then. Dinner was once again excellent. I would highly recommended TH as they had some more exotic items than normal Disney buffets. Suzanne even tried the chicken curry, but said it was spicy. (It wasn’t to me, but I’m incredibly insensitive to capsaicin. I like my curry of the extra-spicy Vinadaloo variety.) By the time we were done, the park was closing after Extra Magic Hours. It was incredible to walk out of the park after closing as it was very quiet and peaceful. I was actually very impressed with Animal Kingdom and would definitely dedicate a day to return on a future trip.

Sat 10/24: The Magic Kingdom

Once again, it was a late morning. We had a nice swim. We finally managed to convince Kyle to use the slides in the play area, and he loved them. At the Magic Kingdom, we started in Toontown. Kyle picked out a stuffed box of Mr. Potatohead parts in the store and hit Mickey’s House and Minnie’s House, the latter twice. We then stopped by Pooh’s playground for a stretch before hitting lunch at Columbia Harbor House. Afterward, it was back for another ride on Pooh and a stint of water play at Ariel’s Grotto. At Chef Mickey'sWe then headed out of the park for our dinner reservations at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary resort. Kyle finally got to ride the monorail, which he had been asking to do all week. He was bit fussy, but that stopped once he saw Donald in the restaurant. The meal was pretty good. Kyle loved the Mickey-shaped ravioli, but not the sauce. The kitchen gave us a whole bowl without any sauce, which was an extra nice touch. Chef Mickey’s has the “big five” characters, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto, so it was really great. We had decided to eat here on something of a whim (originally having 8:05 breakfast reservations — I’m so glad we snagged dinner ones) and were very happy we did. It was a great way to bring the trip to a close.

After dinner, we headed back to the Magic Kingdom. It would have been shorter to walk, but Kyle insisted on the monorail. It was nice to see the Polynesian and Grand Floridian resorts up close. Back in the MK, we headed back to Pooh’s playground and did the Pooh ride one last time. Kyle wanted to do Pirates again and the line was “only” 30 minutes, so he and I went. Most of the time, Kyle and Suzanne went off together while I did something on my own, so it was nice for that to be reversed. After Pirates, it was off to the TTA (again) and Buzz Lightyear. (Kyle and Suzanne managed to score 270,000 points, beating me by a mile.) Another trip on Dumbo and the Tea Cups and Kyle was done for the day. We headed back to Frontierland and I hopped on Big Thunder Mountain for one last time. We were hoping to get back early to do some packing, but that didn’t happen as it was after 11:00 when we returned to the hotel. It was surprising how much more crowded it was today than it had been during the week.

Sun 10/25: Epcot & Back to NJ

Sunday morning we had a bunch of packing to do. I took Kyle to play at the beach while Suzanne got everything together. Disney has this really great service whereby you can check in for your flight, including checking your bags, right at the hotel. We lugged our bags to check for the flight along with several bags (and Kyle’s carseat) to check with Bell Services for the day and were all set. After heading back to the room to grab our stuff for the day, we hopped the bus to Epcot

Epcot

Food and Wine Festival CakeBack at Epcot, the first stop was The Seas with Nemo so Kyle could do Turtle Talk. He sat up front this time, but was disappointed that he didn’t get to talk with Crush. We then headed up into World Showcase. The Food & Wine Festival was going on where they set up 20-25 stands from different parts of the world, each serving a couple of snack-size samples and wine. Best of all, most of the food is covered as a Disney Dining Plan snack credit, and we still had a bunch to use. We sampled the cheddar cheese soup in Canada (excellent — I can see why people go to Le Cellier just for it) and the fisherman’s shrimp and scallop pie from Ireland. I was hoping to try escargot from France, but the line was quite long. We did, however, pick up a couple of pastries at the Boulangerie Patisserie while there. I also had a lobster roll from the Hops & Barley cart. (A great value as it would have cost $7.50.) We also had a couple of counter service credits left so we had a lunch consisting of fish & chips (from the UK) and shrimp fried rice (from China). Once we made our way around, Suzanne headed for a last trip on Test Track while Kyle and I played in the Mission: Space playground. When she returned, I did one last ride on MS. (I probably shouldn’t have as we were cutting it close to the time to get the bus back to our hotel, but it was fine in the end.) Suzanne took Kyle to play in the water near Test Track and have one final Mickey ice cream bar. After a quick change of Kyle’s wet clothes, it was back on the bus for the last ride back to CBR.

Back at CBR, we got off at the Customs House and retrieved the bags we had checked for the day. We left Ecpot almost half an hour later than planned, but had plenty of wait time back at the hotel before our 4:30 Magical Express bus. Kyle fell asleep on the way, so we waited a while before going though security so he could sleep some. The plane ride back was fine, aside from it being a bit bumpy at times. We actually landed early. (This was a surprise since, according to flightstats.com, this flight is only on time 50% of the time and has an average delay of 67 minutes. It was our flight down, on time rate of 90%, that was late.) We were back home by 10:20.

Summary & Reviews

Summary

At the Caribbean Beach ResortAll in all it was a great trip. I think we had a very good balance of “go-time” and time to relax. Did we see everything there was to see? No, but we saw all of our “must-dos”. We ended up sticking to our planned (rough) itinerary pretty well. (A lot of this was forced by our dining reservations.) We had planned to stay at the hotel Thursday morning and do Hollywood Studios Friday morning, but reversing this worked nicely. (We figured aside from Tower of Terror and Playhouse Disney, whatever we did at HS that morning was a bonus.) I also think it was a great plan to avoid any early morning dining reservations. Most mornings we could sleep in and Kyle could get going in his own time. This also helped on the days we ended up skipping naps, which turned out to be most of them.

The time of year was pretty good too. The weather was great. (It only rained twice — once while we were eating dinner and once while were on the bus, so not affecting us at all.) It got a bit warm by the end of the week, but not oppressively so (into upper 80s). The crowds were very light until the weekend. Waits were generally only 20-30 mins for most rides aside from Soarin’ and Toy Story Mania. (Each of which were generally an hour, and we could have gotten FastPasses for TSM even late in the afternoon.)

Hotel

We liked Caribbean Beach Resort. We stayed there as we knew Kyle would love having the beach to play on, which he did. One of the play structures on our beach, the one with the slide, was closed off, so that was a bit of a disappointment. The rooms had just been renovated in the last year or so, which was nice. The pool, redone in the last few months, was great, especially the play area for little kids and the zero-entry section of the big pool. The distance to Old Port Royale (pool & food court) wasn’t too bad, maybe five minutes, but we were in one of the closest, non-preferred buildings. The bus transportation was acceptable, but we only had a full bus twice. (Most times it was practically empty.) I think most rides to/from the parks were 30-40 mins all told (between waiting for the bus and the actual ride.) It probably wasn’t worth the extra $150 it would have cost to have a car for the whole week.

Dining

Inside Tusker HouseDining Plan: Based on my calculations, we saved over $300 using the dining plan. (It was free, but you had to pay full price for the room. In the end, it cost about $70/day total for all three of us.) Of course, we likely wouldn’t have eaten as much, especially not desserts at the counter services restaurants nor would we have spent so much on snacks the last day. We also got a bonus with the Fantamsic package at Mama Melrose’s on Tuesday night which included free appetizers (a $19 extra). However, it was nice to not worry about how much we were spending at dinner and whether or not we should splurge for the $28 steak or stick to the $20 pasta. The other downside is that you want to make sure to use up your credits, especially the table service ones. This requires advanced planning for reservations, including which park you’ll be visiting, a long time in advance. (You can now make reservations 180-days before your trip and many of the hot places will be booked this far out.) If it was “free”, I’d do it again. If we had to pay full price (around $100/day), I’d have to think about it.

Restaurant quick reviews

Biergarten (Epcot; Germany; lunch): Excellent and reasonably authentic food. The salmon in dill sauce and the roast pork were especially good. The sauerkraut was very mild, as it is in Germany. The rotkohl (red cabbage) was also good and served warm.

Pecos Bill (MK; dinner): Our least favorite meal of the trip. It wasn’t bad, just average. We both got bacon double cheeseburgers. I had planned to get the taco salad, but changed my mind at the last minute. I should have stuck with what I had planned on.

Sunshine Seasons (Epcot; The Land; lunch): Very good counter service. I had the roast chicken which was very good and moist. Suzanne had the pork chop, which was a bit dry. Kyle had lo mein which he liked. The desserts were especially good.

Mama Melrose’s (HS; dinner): Lucked out on being offered the Fantasmic package when we arrived. Overall food was excellent. We had calamari and bruschetta for appetizers. Suzanne had the steak which was good. I had the shrimp pipette pasta, which was good but quite heavy. The tiramisu was excellent and quite light. We also had the truffle cake.

Flame Tree BBQ (AK; lunch): Very good food. Suzanne had the chicken and I had the ribs. I thought the chicken was better. Kyle wasn’t impressed with his hot dog, but he’s very particular about the taste. (It was fine, just different.) The key lime pie was excellent.

Tutto Italia (Epcot; Italy; dinner): Excellent dinner. I had lasagna and Suzanne had veal tortelli. Both were delicious. Even Kyle’s mozzarella sticks were good. The desserts (chocolate-hazelnut torte and berry & gelato sundae) were wonderful. The bread was also very good. (I did miss the Fettuccine Alfredo from when it was Alfredo’s.)

Old Port Royale (CBR; breakfast): I had an omelet with spinach and chorizo which was good. Suzanne had a Mickey waffle which was as expected. The chocolate croissant Kyle didn’t end up eating was good even the next day when I ate it. I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat here, but it was perfectly fine as a hotel food court.

Crystal Palace (MK; dinner; character meal): The food and service was excellent. One of the best meals of the trip. The roast sirloin was very good, though I found the pork a bit dry. The desserts were also good. The character interaction was very good. It took an hour and 15 minutes from first to last, which was just about the right time. (We saw a couple twice.) Not a place for a quiet dinner.

Yak & Yeti Counter Service (Anandupur Local Food Cafes) (AK; lunch): The best CS of the trip. I had Kung Pao beef and Suzanne had the shrimp lo mein. Frozen lemonades for dessert were great.

Tusker House (AK; dinner): One of the best meals of the trip. I especially liked the “exotic” offerings, though I have had better samosas. Restaurant felt “empty”, but it was a couple of hours after normal closing time on an EMH night.

Columbia Harbor House (MK; lunch): Good food. Wanted something other than Pecos Bill. I had shrimp (10 good size ones) and Suzanne had fish. Kyle liked the Mac ‘N’ Cheese (which we had brought to Pecos Bill on Mon night).

Chef Mickey’s (Contemporary; dinner; character meal): Food was pretty good. The bowl of plain ravioli they brought for us was a nice touch. Kyle especially liked the make your own sundaes. Character interaction was great. Saw all in 45 minutes and saw a couple twice.

Yorkshire County Fish Shop (Epcot; UK; lunch): Decent fish, excellent fries. Skimpy dessert (package of Walker’s shortbread cookies).

Lotus Blossom Cafe (Epcot; China; lunch): Decent shrimp fried rice. Caramel ginger ice cream was tasty, but not Kyle’s thing.

Boulangerie Patisserie (Epcot; France; snack): Apple tart was very good, but Pithvier was superb. (Ended up eating half of each as breakfast before heading to Boston Mon morning.)

Attraction Checklist

Magic Kingdom: Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain RR (Paul), Haunted Mansion (Paul), Ariel’s Grotto, Cinderella’s Golden Carousel, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, It’s a Small World, Mad Tea Party, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Peter Pan’s Flight, Pooh’s Playful Spot, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, Tomorrowland Transit Authority

Epcot: Innoventions, Journey into Imagination, Mission: Space (Paul), Spaceship Earth, Test Track, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Turtle Talk with Crush, Listen to the Land, Soarin’, Mexico’s Gran Fiesta Tour, Norway’s Maelstrom

Hollywood Studios: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (Paul), Tower of Terror (Paul), Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground, Playhouse Disney Live!

Animal Kingdom: Discovery Island Trails, Festival of the Lion King, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, Expedition Everest (Paul), The Boneyard, Primeval Whirl (Paul), Triceratop Spin (Suzanne & Kyle)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.