Eating Around The World

My Walt Disney World Dining Project

Stranded at the Drive In: Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre (lunch) October 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — scarlettashley1 @ 10:17 pm

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For my mom’s last day of her visit, we decided to go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  We were only going to spend a half day there since we had to get up early the next day to get my mom to the airport, so we were only going to need a lunch ADR.  Most people in the Disney community know that the food situation here is a bit…iffy.  Their counter service choices leave a lot to be desired and would be considered generic at best, but are often called much worse things.  There are a few sit down restaurants…I’d already been to Hollywood & Vine, and I’m saving Brown Derby for when I do a Fantasmic Dinner Package.  So, I was aiming for a reservation at either 50’s Prime Time or Mama Melrose.  The only place I absolutely did NOT want to eat was at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre.

Why didn’t I want to eat there?  Well, even more so than Coral Reef, Sci-Fi is very much maligned in the Disney community.  I don’t think I have ever heard one good thing about the food at this restaurant.  Sure, some people say the atmosphere is neat, but that you should only go for dessert and never actually eat the food there.  It’s talked about so much that I actually kind of developed a fear about it.

So, would you like to guess the one restaurant with lunch availability?  Of course…Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre (although you probably could have guessed from the title of this post).  I tried for several days to find a different ADR.  I tried adjusting times and party size…I looked online, I called…for days.  I thought about trying for a walk up some place, but didn’t want to risk being subjected to the awful counter service.  There was nothing else to do…we were going to have to eat there.  I knew I was going to have to go there eventually in my mission to eat at all of the Disney World restaurants, so it might as well be now.  I was hoping that the atmosphere would be as cool as people said and my mom wouldn’t be too disappointed with a horrible meal.

That morning, we got to DHS for rope drop to do the big Toy Story Mania dash (standby and then got a FastPass for later), went to Muppetvision 3D, and then it was time for lunch.

This time, I decided to warn my mom about Sci-Fi’s reputation.  I wanted her to be prepared for a bad meal.  Plus, at this point she knew all about my blog and was all for supporting it, even if it meant bad food…mom’s are good like that.  We were both looking forward to seeing the restaurant though, since we both thought the concept sounded really awesome.

We checked in with the hostess about 10 minutes before the reservation time and were told we would be in one of the car tables…awesome!  It would be pretty lame to have bad food and a boring old normal table…I wanted the full experience!  I told them we needed a high chair and they said it would just go on the end of our seat.  We were seated almost immediately.

Now, for people who haven’t been to Sci-Fi…it’s set up like a Drive-In theatre (hence the name).  Almost all of the tables are designed to look like cars with all of the seats being bench seats facing a big movie screen.  The cars all have 3 rows of bench seats which hold two people (or maybe 3 if some are small children).

Okay, I thought these tables, while cool, had lots of practical issues.  First of all, as a mother who often travels alone with two young children…I’m not too sure how seating would work.  Do I let my two kids sit in their own row and I sit behind them? I’m sure other parents of young kids realize how terrifying that concept seems.  So, do I let one of the kids sit alone? Do we all try to squeeze into one seat?  It’s just not practical.

Next problem, there wasn’t really a way for the tables to accommodate a high chair.  Yes, we put the high chair next to the table, but Malcolm couldn’t actually reach the table, so it wasn’t really convenient for him to eat as he couldn’t reach his food.  We decided that since my mom and I were sitting side by side, we could put Malcolm in a booster seat between us and since we would be kind of tight, Malcolm wouldn’t be able to climb out of the booster and it would work out.  However, the service here was terrible (more on that later) and they didn’t bring the booster til after our food came, so Malcolm actually spent most of the meal alternating between sitting and standing on the seat between us.

I do have to say, I think this is one of the best themed restaurants I’ve ever been to.  It was all dark like night time and there were stars twinkling on the walls.  There were old sci-fi movie clips and classic drive-in commercials showing on the screen, there were old movie posters up on the wooden fence around the perimeter of the dining room…it was fabulous.  And then, when you exited the dining room to go to the lobby or restroom, the backs of the walls were obviously facades like it was a film set to fit in with the whole Hollywood Studios theme.  The decor and theme definitely got an A.

The service however, did not.  Our waitress was super nice and very helpful and informative.  The problem was she was soooooo slooooooow.  Everything we asked for seemed to take forever…like the booster seat that didn’t arrive until after our food.  Our drinks took forever, then it took forever for her to come take our food order, it took forever to get the check…you get the idea.  It was lunch time and the meal took about 2 hours.  That’s pretty unacceptable.  I tried to scope out the floor to see if she had too many tables, but that didn’t seem to be the problem.  Who knows.

While I loved the atmosphere, it wasn’t very conducive to dining.  It was really difficult to see the menu, especially for my mom who doesn’t have the best eye sight anyway.  There was a strip of light right over the table, but you had to hold the menu just right, and there wasn’t a lot of space to maneuver.  It wasn’t an impossible situation, just irritating.

One thing I was happy about was that they had flavored sodas on the menu.  I’m a big fan of vanilla coke, and you can’t get it everywhere…so I was pretty stoked about that.  The menu was pretty unexciting: sandwiches, salads, burger, pasta…nothing special.  My mom got the Angus Chuck Burger, which came with onions, mushrooms, and bacon.  I got the Smoked Turkey Sandwich with avocado mayonnaise.  The turkey usually comes on multigrain bread, but I asked for plain old white bread instead.  Both also came with fries.  Malcolm was not going to get his own meal but share with us. Note: Due to the terrible lighting, I didn’t take any pictures of our food…but really it was just a sandwich and a burger and fries…nothing fancy.

While we waited for our food we watched the movie screen.  It was really entertaining…very kitschy.  However, it wasn’t a very long reel.  I think we saw it twice all the way through, and then some.  I think they either need to make a longer reel, or provide faster service…or preferably both.

Our food (finally) arrived, and we discovered more issues.  This is another time when I had issues with the lighting.  I’m one of those people who likes to see my food.  I don’t know what it is…but I seriously have problems eating in the dark, I don’t like it.  Even if I know exactly what I’m having and that there isn’t anything foreign in it…I still want to be able to see it.  At Sci-Fi, don’t expect to be able to see what you are eating.  At this point, we were also really grateful we hadn’t ordered Malcolm his own meal, solely because there would not have been enough room on the table for it.  The tables are so small, we barely had enough room for our own meals and drinks, plus ketchup, salt, pepper, and all the other stuff that goes on restaurant tables.  By the way, eating with a toddler at a table where everything is within his reach is not fun.  We spent a lot of time trying to keep condiments and silverware out of Malcolm’s hands.  He also seemed really determined that one of us should have our plate dumped in our lap.  Luckily, despite his efforts throughout lunch, he was not successful.

Then it was time to actually eat the food.  I tentatively picked up my sandwich and took a bite.  Now, there were several things I had considered might happen.  I might spit it out, or gag, or throw up on the table.  There was one thing I wasn’t expecting…and that was to like it.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t an amazing sandwich, it wasn’t life changing or anything…but it was good.  I actually really liked the avocado mayo.  I asked my mom about her burger, and she said the same thing…not earth shattering…but good.  When discussing this with someone later, they mentioned that maybe the reason my sandwich wasn’t as horrible as what other people had reported was because of my special order.  Possibly they usually pull something from under a heat lamp, but mine had to be special made, so it was better.  Not sure if this is the case or not, but it would also partially explain why it took so long.

We discussed ordering dessert, but after sitting there for so long Malcolm was getting restless, and quite honestly, we were too, so we decided against it.  Plus, we were freezing.  Seriously, they are not joking with the air conditioning in there.  And while it’s nice when you first walk in (being that it was August), after 2 hours I was covered in goose bumps and shivering.  The family sitting in front of us kept taking turns to run outside for a few minutes to warm up.

All in all, the experience was just okay.  If there is no where else to eat at DHS, or I’m with people who want to go, I’ll return to Sci-Fi.  But, I won’t go back there on my own.  If you’ve never been there…try it once.  And I seriously think kids would really enjoy it…I’m sure when Malcolm is older we will return pretty frequently.  However, go in knowing that the food will be just okay, and that there may be some other irritants (service, a/c, lighting).

Tune in next time when I venture to one of Disney World’s newest restaurants Via Napoli!  Til then, let me know about your experience at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre.  Leave a comment here, or you can tweet me @scarlettashley1, friend me on FaceBook under the name Scarlett Ashley, or email me at scarlettashley1@yahoo.com

 

“Jubel, Trubel, Heiterkeit”: Biergarten (Dinner) September 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — scarlettashley1 @ 4:14 pm

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Okay, so first, for anyone who doesn’t know, I had my baby.  Zinn was born on September 6th at 2:40am and weighed 8 pounds and 7 ounces.  However, I had stockpiled quite a few dining experiences, and was spacing out writing about them, because I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to get back into the parks and back to eating out.  So, even though little Zinn is here, you’re still going to be reading about experiences where I’m pregnant for a little while.  In fact, I’m still writing about my mom’s trip a month ago!  Yikes, I need to catch up!  Here we go…

So, in my very first post, I believe I said that I had never been to a table service restaurant in any of the Disney World Parks.  That was not entirely true.  I had been to one.  For Malcolm’s first birthday we all (Will included!) went to Epcot, and we decided to go to Biergarten for his birthday dinner.  We had a fabulous time!  The food was good, the show was super fun…I loved it!

My mom actually lived in Germany for a while, and really enjoys German food, so I knew I wanted to take her to Biergarten.  Since we left early on our first Epcot day and had to cancel our dinner there, I knew when we planned a second day that we HAD to get there for dinner.  To make sure we’d be hungry we decided to plan just 2 meals, and make our dinner reservation fairly late (7:45pm).

After a fantastic day of touring World Showcase (since we’d already done FutureWorld), we showed up to Biergarten at about 7:35, and were told it would be just a short wait.  We parked the stroller and, since it wasn’t too crowded, decided to let Malcolm get out and wander around the area near the hostess stand.  There were several Cast Members (the hostess, greeters, etc) in the area, and one of them went to the hostess stand and pulled out a soccer ball.  Three CM’s spent the next 15 minutes playing ball with Malcolm!  They would toss it to him, and he would chase it and throw it back…Malcolm had the best time.  They were all so good with him, and really wore him out so that he was ready to sit patiently when we were seated for dinner.  It was also so much fun for my mom and I to watch that the time we waited went by super fast.  It was such a small thing, but it was really a magical moment for all of us.  In fact, when we were seated, the CM’s seemed pretty sad to say goodbye to Malcolm, and one even told us that he was going home to tell his fiancee that it was time for them to have kids!

So, we go in, and they have us wait just inside the door.  For those who have never been to Biergarten, the tables all seat 8 people, and if there are less than 8 in your party, you are seated with other families.  We waited inside the door until they called the other parties who would be sitting with us, and then we were led to the table.

Our table was right next to the stage and dance floor, which I was excited about, since Malcolm would be able to watch the musicians and see people dancing.  We were seated with another party of 3, a couple and their teenage daughter, and an older couple.  Everyone seemed really nice, though none were very openly outgoing.  After we placed our drink orders, my mom and I tried to make conversation with people.  The family of 3 was the most responsive, the couple didn’t talk to any of us much at all.

At Biergarten, it is always twilight, and it is always Oktoberfest.  The restaurant is set up to look like a quaint German village town square.  I love the inside of the restaurant.  It’s so pretty, and the theming is so fantastic.  I always seem to forget that I’m inside and it’s not actually twilight.

I was taking pictures of the restaurant to use in my blog post, and everyone at our table thought I was totally crazy!  They all made fun of me blogging about Disney restaurants and asked why anyone would want to spend the time and money going to every restaurant on property just to write about it.  So, in case you’re wondering why there aren’t a lot of pictures of my food, that’s why.  I took one picture of my plate while standing up by the buffet, but didn’t take pictures of any other plates (the other 2 I had, or any of my mom’s).  I know I shouldn’t have let those people bother me, and I should have taken all the food pics I wanted…but they were really rude!

We wanted to get our food before the show started, so we hit the buffet.  My first plate was mostly salad, bread (starters for me), and macaroni and cheese and roast potatoes (for Malcolm).  I really love the pretzel rolls they have at Biergarten!  I dip them in mustard and they are super yummy!  I’m also a big fan of the roast potatoes, but then again, how hard are roast potatoes.

Anyway, I went back for a second plate, and stocked up on sausages, chicken, spaetzle, and the other German specialties.  Sadly, I was NOT impressed.  Almost everything was dried out and felt like it had been sitting out for a long time.  I was so surprised.  The one other time I had been there the food was fantastic!  Often, locals and regular Disney World travelers will describe Biergarten as a hidden gem, and one of the better values on property, but not today.  I asked my mom’s opinion, since she has actually spent time in Germany.  She did say that the red cabbage was phenomenal, however, the roulades, which she had been looking forward to more than anything, were inedible.  Luckily, the desserts were delicious!  I tried one of everything and was quite pleased with that decision.

About half way through our meal was when the Oom-pah band came out.  Even with the food being sub-par, I think the entertainment was totally worth the cost of dinner.  They played some traditional German drinking songs, a polka, and even an alpine horn and cowbells!  Lots of kids and adults got up to dance…Malcolm and I do a mean polka…which is difficult to do when you’re almost 9 months pregnant and your toddler weighs 30 pounds!  There was even a little boy break dancing!!  It was so cute!  We had a fantastic time dancing with the band, and my mom knew all the words, in German, to several of their songs, so that was pretty neat.

When we were leaving, as soon as we walked out the door, the host stand cast members saw Malcolm, and immediately grabbed the soccer ball to resume playing with him!  It was so sweet!  They really seemed to genuinely enjoy playing with him.  After a few minutes we had to drag him away so that we could watch Illuminations, and the CM’s looked honestly upset to have to say goodbye to their playmate.  It made me feel so special that they had such a good time with my son.

All in all, if this had been my first time at the restaurant, and I didn’t know that the food was usually much better, I would still want to go back just for the entertainment.  I would imagine that it’s also really fun if you sit with a fun group at your table, instead of the party poopers we were sat with.  I will still recommend Biergarten to people, and this one bad experience won’t keep me from going back.

Has anyone else had a bad experience there?  Part of me wonders if the quality was poor because we went later in the dinner service.  I’d really love to have others feedback!  You can comment here, tweet me @scarlettashley1, email me at scarlettashley1@yahoo.com, or friend me on Facebook under Scarlett Ashley.

For the next post (and last one from my mom’s visit) we go to the Sci-Fi Dine-in restaurant.  Stay tuned!

 

Dining With the Fishes: Coral Reef (Lunch) August 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — scarlettashley1 @ 7:56 pm

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So, my mom and I had already done one day at Epcot, but were doing a second day so that we could finish up World Showcase and see Illuminations.  That first day we were there, my mom spent a lot of time reminiscing about her only other trips there in 1985 and 1986 (when I was 1 and 2).  She had a lot of fun telling me about what had changed, and what was new.  At one point, she mentioned a restaurant they had eaten in that was really cool…a restaurant that looked into a giant aquarium.  When I told her that restaurant, Coral Reef, was still there, she said she would LOVE to eat there again.

Okay, now there are lots of restaurants with reputations at Disney World.  Within the Disney community, you hear a lot of opinions repeated so much, that you just accept them as fact.  Well, there are few restaurants with worse reputations than Coral Reef.  Every now and then, you may hear someone say it was okay…but mostly, you hear people say they will never eat there again, and that the food, service, and value were all horrible.  However, it is also very difficult to get an ADR there!  When you search ADR’s in Epcot, it’s very often unavailable.

So, the day before we were going back to Epcot, we were working on getting reservations, and I told my mom I would check and see if Coral Reef was available.  I just KNEW it wouldn’t be, so I really wasn’t worried about it (note: even though I knew I would have to eat there at some point for the blog, I didn’t want my mom to be subjected to a bad experience on her vacation).  With my mom sitting next to me, looking over my shoulder at my computer screen, I searched for lunch at Coral Reef.  *Sigh* Of course (in case you didn’t know from the title of this post), it was available.  This was the first time I had ever seen openings there!  The time was for 11:20am…perfect for our schedule.  My mom was so excited!  Since, as I said earlier, I knew I would have to eat there eventually anyway, I made the ADR.

At this point, I made a very cowardly decision.  I decided not to tell my mom about what everyone says about Coral Reef.  She was so excited to go there and try it, and I didn’t want to burst her bubble.  Although, I also didn’t want to tell her that it was going to be bad…that would ruin it for her.  Plus, if/when it was terrible, I wanted to be able to claim to be surprised.  Like, “Oh mom, I’m so sorry the food was awful, I had no idea!”  I know, I know…I said it was cowardly!  But, I thought maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t be so bad and it wouldn’t matter.

Since we had already done all we wanted to do in Future World, and World Showcase doesn’t open til 11 anyway, we decided to sleep in that morning (well, as much as Malcolm would let us), and plan on getting to Epcot at 11 for lunch and starting our day then.  Once again, our plan worked out well…I was quickly discovering that EVERYTHING is easier and less stressful with a toddler when you have another adult there to help you…go figure!  Anyway, we got there at about 11:15 and checked in.

One thing I had heard about Coral Reef was that if you eat there, you should request a table near the aquarium windows, since the atmosphere is the only good thing about the restaurant.  I’d heard several people say that they were far away and couldn’t see the fish and were unhappy.  I thought about it, but in the end I decided not to request an aquarium-side table.  I made this decision based on several factors: 1) Malcolm was hungry, and hungry toddlers get very cranky, 2) I was hungry, and hungry pregnant women get very cranky, and 3) It didn’t really matter to us if we were super close to the fishes, we aren’t too picky.  Even without making a special request, this was one of the longest waits I’ve had for a table after checking in.  Granted, it was only about 10 or 15 minutes, but, still, one of the longer waits.

We entered the dining room and were sat on the front part of the third level…almost as far away from the tank as you can possibly get.  However, I thought that our view was still pretty good.  No, the fish weren’t right up in our faces…but it also meant that there weren’t people coming right up to our table to take pictures of the tanks (like I totally did to some poor people at one of the front and center tables).  While I know Malcolm would have liked to be closer, and it probably would have made the meal easier for me because he would have been distracted, I don’t necessarily think it’s worth the extra wait to sit at one of the first tier tables.  That being said, I’ll probably change my mind when Malcolm is older and tells me he wants to sit right next to the fish.

I had looked at the menu online before we went (thanks to allears.net!!), and honestly, I wasn’t all that impressed with the options.  It’s actually a pretty limited menu, and it’s also very expensive.  I decided that I would ask our server for his opinion.  He recommended we get either the Grilled Mahi Mahi, or the Seared Chicken Breast.  My mom and I both couldn’t decide between the two, so we got one of each and shared.  We didn’t order anything for Malcolm, because he was going to eat off of our plates (seriously, my kid LOVES Mahi Mahi and rice…he’s weird like that).

Our drinks and bread came out first.  In Malcolm’s apple juice, they had stuck in some weird plastic dolphin thing for decoration.  I thought it was pretty dumb at first…but then Malcolm spent most of the meal playing with it, and even began to use it as a fork at one point.  I’m all about pointless crap if it keeps him entertained, so that was a bonus.  Also, the bread was super yummy.  We even had to ask for more.  I was really happy about that because I figured if the food was terrible, at least we would have bread, so we wouldn’t starve.

Our food came pretty quickly, and I have to say, I was impressed with the presentation.  It LOOKED good, and was very pretty.  I know it’s silly, but when I go to a nice restaurant, I like for my food to be kind of pretty.  It’s not a requirement, or a deal-breaker or anything, but just something I look for that makes me happy.

I started with the chicken, which was served with spaetzle with bacon.  I was actually really pleased with the flavor of the chicken.  It was a bit dry, but overall, I thought it was yummy.  The spaetzle was pretty good too.  Not my favorite thing ever, but good, and Malcolm liked it.

The Mahi Mahi with rice, on the other hand, was FANTASTIC!!  I thought it was so good, and it went so well with the rice and everything.  This is most definitely a dish I would return for.  Also, I know this is totally wrong, but there is just something fun about eating fish while looking into an aquarium.  Twisted?  Yes.  But something I think everyone should do at least once in their lives.  Anyway, poor Malcolm didn’t get very much of the fish because my mom and I ate most of it, but honestly, it was too good to waste on a kid who’s happy to eat dog food.  Don’t think Malcolm starved though.  He ate a lot of the spaetzle, rice, bread, and some crackers that our waiter brought him.

For dessert, we decided to order the Butterscotch Creme Brulee with seasonal berries.  I really wanted to get the Chocolate Wave, because I’ve heard so many good things about it.  However, for some reason, when I’m pregnant, I get SUPER sensitive to the flavor of alcohol and can’t eat anything made with liquor…it literally gags me.  So, since my mom and I are both huge creme brulee fans, that’s what we went with.

One thing I thought was interesting about the dessert…it said “with seasonal berries” on the menu, yet it came with a lone strawberry, and not even a whole strawberry!  It was cut in half!  I was a bit disappointed with that, but the actual creme brulee made me forget.  It was perfect!  I loved the butterscotch flavor, and it was cooked perfectly!  It was also served with a biscotti, but we didn’t get to try that, because Malcolm grabbed it as soon as it was set on our table and drolled all over it.  Although, he seemed to really like it, so I guess it was good.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Coral Reef.  However, I’m not sure I could really recommend it.  Yes, it was good.  Yes, I will return there.  But, if you only had one or two days to spend at Epcot, there are so many other places I would tell you to visit first.  I mean, it wasn’t as good as Les Chefs or Le Cellier or Via Napoli.  BUT, if you want American food, or just really love aquariums, someone in your party is just dying to go there, or you have several days at Epcot-check it out.

I’m hoping my good experience wasn’t a fluke after all the bad reports.  I’m hoping that maybe Coral Reef knows how bad it reputation is and is working on improving and THAT is why it was good when we went.

Have you been to Coral Reef?  Let me know about your experience there!  Either leave a comment, tweet me @scarlettashley1 on twitter, friend me on Facebook under Scarlett Ashley, or email me scarlettashley1@yahoo.com

 

Our Safari Morning: Tusker House (Breakfast) August 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — scarlettashley1 @ 10:11 pm

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After being overly exhausted at Epcot, we all (me, my mom, and Malcolm) took a couple of days off to rest.  After Les Chefs, we seriously didn’t eat until almost 24 hours later…that’s how full we were.  We spent a day just kind of hanging out at my house and relaxing, and a day shopping at outlet malls in Orlando…but then, it was back to Disney World!

There was, of course, some planning that needed to be done first.  Just like on our Magic Kingdom morning, I knew for our Animal Kingdom day, I needed Tusker House for breakfast.  I’d heard so many good things about the character breakfast, and also about the strategy of eating there before the park opens so that you can rush to the Kilimanjaro Safari’s (since the early safari’s usually have more active animals).  However, I couldn’t get an ADR.  *sigh* Here we go again.

This time though, I couldn’t get ANY breakfast times, so I couldn’t even use the strategy we had at Magic Kingdom.  Boo.  I spent almost a week trying every single day, multiple times a day, to get a breakfast ADR.  I tried to tell myself we didn’t need to eat there…but it was no good…I NEEDED that reservation.  I tried every trick I could think of…I tried specific times, I tried entering just “breakfast,” I tried calling, I tried online…nothing.

Now, I had heard from some other people, that sometimes, if you enter a larger party size, you can get an ADR.  For example, if there are 6 of you, try putting in 8.  Apparently, the way the system works is that there are a set number of reservations for each party size, and they often run out of ADR’s for popular party sizes.  I decided I would try this.  I was hesitant, because I don’t want to take a large table away from another party, but I was skeptical about it working anyway, so I tried.  Instead of entering a party of 3, I tried 5.  The reason I did 5 was because I figured I needed to try for the next table size, and a party of 3 is always seated at a 4-top.  Still, nothing was available.

The day before we were going to AK…I decided to try one last time.  Still, nothing available, at any time, for 3 people or 5 people.  At the last minute, I tried one last crazy thing.  I decided to put in a party of 4.  I knew this was ridiculous because if they had tables for 4, they of course had tables for 3, since it’s the same table…but I knew if I didn’t try it, I would always wonder “what if.”  Okay, so you know what happened next right?  There was a table available!!  For the time I wanted even!  8:15!  Pre-rope drop!

So, while I’m really excited that I got my ADR, I can’t help but think about how ridiculous this is.  It’s seriously the same table whether we are 3 people or 4, so why couldn’t I get the reservation for 3 people?  *sigh* I guess I’ll never truly understand the intricacies of the Disney ADR system.

We decided that, even though our ADR was for 8:15, that we would show up early and try to be seated early so that we would finish breakfast closer to opening time, and get on one of the earliest safaris.  We, once again, got up at an ungodly time and made the drive down to WDW.  One thing I REALLY like about these super early ADR’s though, is being like, the 3rd car in the parking lot.  Since we always avoid the tram, because of the stroller, it’s awesome to have such a short walk!  Especially at the end of the day when you’re all exhausted and hot.

Anyway, we got into the park very easily, just like we had at Epcot the other day.  Also, just like at Epcot, there was no one really around.  One of my favorite things about Animal Kingdom is when you come over that hill, and around the corner, and suddenly, BAM, there’s the Tree of Life.  I think that view is so breathtaking, and I’ll never forget how blown away I was the first time I saw it…it was so unexpected.  Seeing it with no people there was phenomenal.  Also, it was my mom’s first ever time seeing it, so she was pretty amazed as well.  That moment made all the trouble I went through getting the ADR worth it.

So, we get over to Tusker House and check in, and immediately get in line to meet Donald.  Now, I knew this was Donald’s Safari Breakfast, but I didn’t know we were going to get a one-on-one meet with Donald and a photographer and everything (although, these photo’s aren’t included in the price like at Akershus).  Malcolm LOVES Donald, so I was really excited for this.  As usual, Malcolm was very happy to spend a few minutes playing with Donald…and despite the line, we didn’t feel at all rushed.  Donald was very sweet with Malcolm, and the photographer took pictures with our camera’s and his, he seemed to really get a lot of shots in, so that was awesome.

After that, we were taken right in to our table.  As soon as we walked in, I was, once again, blown away.  It was gorgeous!  The room where they have the buffet tables is so well themed, and it just looks fantastic!  Not to mention all the yummy looking food!  We were taken into the next room (which was also super well themed) and seated.  The hostess told us it would be a few minutes before the characters started their rounds and told us the path they would take so we could be prepared.  The waitress then came by and brought us Jungle Juice and took our drink orders.  The Jungle Juice is orange, passion fruit, and guava juice (I believe), and even though Malcolm loves his apple juice, I figured we’d try this and see how it went.  Holy crap…Malcolm LOVED the Jungle Juice!  He drank like 3 cups of it (which is a lot for him), and we even had to get one to go!  I had no idea he would like it that much, so I was really glad we tried it out.

I then headed up to the buffet for our food.  I thought it was going to be typical breakfast fare, so I was very surprised by what I found.  While there was typical breakfast stuff, there were so many other choices too!  There was coconut sweet potatoes, and citrus rice, and beef bobtie quiche…lots of interesting things!  I ended up with my plate pretty overloaded…I wanted to try everything, but also all of the standard favorites (bacon, waffles, etc) looked sooo good too.  There was also a really good selection of pastries: donuts, bagels, danish, muffins, etc., and several types of cereal.  The buffet really had a ton of options!  WAY more than Akershus had!

Everything I had I really enjoyed, with the exception of the cinnamon rolls (they were a bit dry).  Malcolm really liked the coconut sweet potatoes, scrambled eggs, and ham and cheese frittata.  I wasn’t a super big fan of the Jungle Juice, but I did order coffee, and they had REAL coffee!!  It was so good to have a real cup of coffee (something I don’t have very often since I’m pregnant and limiting caffeine), and we all know how difficult it is to find at Disney World.

While we were eating, Mickey Mouse appeared!  But, he wasn’t visiting tables yet.  He came out with several cast members, and they had lots of percussion instruments with them.  The CM’s went around to the tables and handed the instruments out to kids and encouraged them to come to the center of the room for a parade.  What followed was a very loud, but very fun parade around the dining room, led by Mickey, with lots of very VERY noisy children and instruments.  Malcolm was in heaven!  Although he was too little to join, he was quite excited about all the noise and music!  It was really fun!  I can’t wait until he’s older and can really participate in the things like that at character meals.  It’s fun just to observe those activities anyway, I can’t imagine how awesome it will be to watch my own child(ren) participating.

After that, Mickey, and the rest of the characters began circulating.  Once again, I noticed that there is not a lot of room to get around once they come out.  Our tables were very close together, but, everyone seemed pretty used to it and they were good at squeezing through tight spaces.  All of the characters here were fantastic!  Mickey, Daisy, and Goofy all came by…they were all so good with Malcolm, they tickled him and played peekaboo and made him laugh.  They each spent plenty of time with us and let us take lots of pictures, it was wonderful!

Once we had seen everyone, a picture man came by and showed us our pictures with Donald to see if we wanted to buy them.  I don’t remember the price of the pictures, but it was around 30 dollars.  There were actually lots of pictures included in the price though.  There was an 8 x 10 of all of us with Donald, two 5 x 7 of the same picture, a 5 x 7 of just Malcolm with Donald, and an 8 x 10 of the fab 5 in safari clothes in front of the Tree of Life.  We decided it was definitely worth the price, and the pictures came out cute, so we got them.

By the time we finished up breakfast it was about 9:15.  We went over to the Kilimanjaro Safari’s and there was only a 10 minute wait!  We got on quickly and had a lovely safari!  That is, until we broke down out on the Savannah.  Seriously, when you’re out there, even at 9:30 in the morning it is brutally hot.  Especially after you’ve sat there FOR AN HOUR!!  It was pretty awful.  Apparently a truck in front of us broke down and needed to be emptied and towed.

The good part of this, however, was that our driver took pity on us when we started up again, and when we got near the elephants he stopped for a long time.  There is a little 2 month old baby elephant there, and we got to see him run around and play with his mom…it was seriously like, the most adorable thing ever!  It was totally worth all the time we spent stuck with only sleeping wildebeests to look at.

All in all, a fantastic morning.  I was so pleased with our breakfast experience and the way that our whole morning went.  I think Tusker House would be a great place for groups where some people like “traditional” food and others want to try something a bit more exotic (not super exotic…but a bit).  We will definitely go back!  I’m glad that, since there aren’t many restaurant options at Animal Kingdom, this one was so good.

I want to take a moment to apologize for the spacing of my posts lately.  My due date is just a little over 3 weeks away, and I’ve been pretty busy with that, as well as all the time we’ve spent at Disney, and trying to deal with other personal stuff.  I have still been dining at WDW though, and am kind of stockpiling stories so that I can continue to post even after the baby comes and I have to take a break from the parks.  I really appreciate everyone being so patient with me and continuing to read…please continue to stick around…I’m afraid things may get spotty for a bit when the baby is born, but I’ll try to get back on track as soon as possible.

Don’t forget, follow me on twitter @scarlettashley1, friend me on Facebook under Scarlett Ashley, or email me scarlettashley1@yahoo.com.

The next post will, I’m sure, be a bit controversial…Coral Reef!!  This restaurant has one of the worst reputations in Epcot, but we tried it anyway!  I can’t wait to tell you about it!

 

Conversations With a Rat: Les Chefs de France (Lunch) August 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — scarlettashley1 @ 8:25 am

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For our (me and my mom…and Malcolm) big Epcot day, I picked out Les Chefs de France for lunch.  I picked Les Chefs, because I had become mildly obsessed with it, and was dying to go.  The obsession was fairly recent, and had built slowly over the previous several weeks…but it was an obsession none the less.

I’ve always told people that I love French food.  Confession time: I’d never really eaten French food.  But, I like it in theory.  I love butter and cream and fattening things, and I love creme brulee (which I had actually eaten, but I’m not counting as “food” since it’s a dessert), and whenever I saw French food on tv or heard about, it always looked and sounded really good and seemed like something I would really like.  The problem is, French food isn’t super accessable.  Usually you have to go to a really nice, fancy restaurant, get all dressed up, spend a lot of money, and babies aren’t allowed.  However, soon after I started going to WDW almost a year ago, I realized that Les Chefs was the answer…I knew I would eat there, it was just a question of when.

Even then, Les Chefs lived in the back of my mind.  It wasn’t someplace that I usually thought of when planning meals.  Then, several people I knew seemed to eat there, all around the same time.  Shane took his mom there for dinner one night, several people in Lines chat were discussing their meals there, and another one of my Lines chat/twitter friends actually posted a video of his conversation with Remy at the restaurant.  “Remy?” you ask, “What does Remy have to do with this?”  Well folks, Remy was the final nail in my “I have to eat at Les Chefs” coffin.

On the Betamouse podcast (which you should totally listen to by the way, it’s an awesome Disney/tech show, and it makes me happy http://betamouse.net or download from iTunes), in episode #22, they discussed some of Disney’s living character initiatives-and they discussed Remy at Les Chefs.  I had never previously heard of Remy, the star rat from Ratatouille, making an appearance at the restaurant, so I was intrigued.  Apparently, a 6 inch tall Remy sits on a platter, sometimes covered by a silver dome, and is pushed around on a cart to visit all the tables and chat with guests.  In my head I couldn’t even imagine how this would work…but it seemed like an amazing piece of technology, and I HAD to see it in action.  THAT was the beginning of the obsession with Les Chefs.

After consulting with folks in Lines chat, I found out that Remy only came out at lunch, and that he did have set times when he’d make his appearances.  I checked out Steve Soares’s site (http://pages.prodigy.net/stevesoares/) where all the shows/character times are listed.  I decided to make an ADR for 1:00, right in between 2 of the times, so that even if Remy was running late or early or anything, there was a good chance we would see him.  I had also heard from someone that if it’s busy he doesn’t visit all the tables, so I put on our reservation that it was my mom’s birthday (her birthday had been 6 weeks before, so, close enough), just as added assurance that we would see him.

So, on the actual day at Epcot, remember we had a very early morning, and began with breakfast at Akershus, and then went off to explore Future World.  We had a busy, but very fun morning.  My mom had been to Epcot back in 1986, and was excited to see all the stuff that was different, and that some stuff was still sort of the same too.  Crowds weren’t bad, and we got everything we wanted to do in Future World done except for Spaceship Earth and Universe of Energy which we were saving for the brutally hot afternoon.

It was nearly 1 at this point, so we were off to France for lunch.  However, on the way to the restaurant, Malcolm fell asleep in his stroller.  Uh-oh.  I wasn’t sure how this would work out.  I’ve peeked inside the windows at Les Chefs and I know that there isn’t a whole lot of room in there, and I wasn’t sure how accommodating they would be of my massive stroller.  We discussed that if they wouldn’t let us take the stroller in, we would have to eat someplace else.  This did NOT make me happy, but, that’s one of the things you have to deal with when you have a baby.  When we checked in with the hostess, I told them right away we had a sleeping baby, and YAY!  They told us it would be no problem at all and we would be able to bring the stroller in.  They even gave us an out of the way table and cleared out some chairs so we could tuck Malcolm against the wall where he would be in semi-darkness, and it would be a bit more quiet.

My first thought upon entering Les Chefs, was that the restaurant was gorgeous!  However, my second thought, which quickly came in and shoved the first thought out of the way was, “Holy Crap…French boys are gorgeous!”  Yeah, yeah, I know that’s very juvenile and I should behave like a mature adult or whatever…but seriously, there is some serious eye-candy that works in this restaurant.  Plus, they all have really sexy French accents, so that only makes it better.

Anyway, back to my first thought, the restaurant itself is beautiful.  It’s what a little French cafe looks like when I picture it in my head.  Lots of big windows, elegant paintings, bottles of wine everywhere.  It was very nice, but not at all intimidating.  Whenever I saw the restaurant from outside, I thought it looked like it would be a bit uncomfortable inside, like I’d feel out of place in my shorts and t-shirt, but that wasn’t the case at all.

Also, we all know the stereotypes that exist about the French and their rudeness, and I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about that as well.  However, everyone, the hostess, our waiter, the manager, Remy’s attendant, EVERYONE was so nice and welcoming.  Several hostesses came over to coo over Malcolm as he slept, all the waiters came and wished my mom a happy birthday, the manager stopped by and chatted with us for a bit, everyone was wonderful.  I was very much at ease eating here, despite all of my apprehensions.

I had talked to several people about the menu at Les Chefs, and I already knew what I wanted to order.  They have a fantastic 3 course prix fixe menu that includes soup, entree, and dessert.  In each category you have 2 or 3 choices, and I found it VERY hard to pick which items I wanted.  However, based on previous suggestions from others, I got bisque de homard (lobster bisque), gratin de macaroni (baked macaroni and cheese), and creme brulee.  My mom ordered the same thing, except she got quiche lorraine for her entree.

First they brought out some bread, a fantastic, crusty, classic French baguette, and our soup.  The soup was AMAZING!  Seriously, best bisque ever.  We both practically licked our bowls (thank goodness we had the bread or we may have literally licked the bowls).  We also ate the entire baguette, and had to ask for another one.  Everything was so yummy, I didn’t think the meal could get any better, and we were only on the first course!

Then, as we finished up our soup and bread, I spotted him…REMY!!  An attendant was pushing a cart, and we could just make out the little rat sitting on the platter talking to a table of people.  Despite the fact that he was still several tables away, I pulled out my camera and got all ready to meet him.  The restaurant wasn’t crowded at all and he was taking his time at each table, and I was freaking out, I was so excited.  Finally, he got to our table.  Now Remy himself just squeaks, you know, like a rat…but his attendant translates and fills in any gaps in the conversation.  Remy and his attendant sang a birthday song to my mom, and asked about the meal so far, and asked about Malcolm (who was still sleeping).  It was awesome.  I seriously have no idea how Remy “works.”  He is pure Disney magic.  Remy was so interactive and so adorable.  I loved him.  Even with all the stuff I’d heard about him, I had no idea he would be quite that awesome.  It was just a truly incredible bit of technology, and I’m still excited that I got to experience it.

Shortly after Remy left, our entrees arrived.  Once again, everything was delicious.  I sampled my mom’s quiche, and it was very tasty, however, I was very happy with my decision to order the mac and cheese.  I ate about half of it (it was a fairly large portion), and then just couldn’t eat any more.  We had already had our soup, and lots of bread, and it hadn’t even been all that long since breakfast.  For the first time, I was beginning to understand what people meant when they say that being on the deluxe dining plan is just too much food.  When it’s 100 degrees outside, and you’re spending all your time on your feet and sweating, big meals with several courses, 3 times a day just don’t really sound good.  Plus, we had an ADR for Biergarten in about 5 hours, and we still had dessert to get through…and we were running on about 4 hours of sleep.

We decided that something had to give.  We decided that although we would eat our desserts, we would then go spend some time digesting on Universe of Energy and Spaceship Earth, and then go home.  We had already decided to do a second day at Epcot, so we weren’t worried about the fact that we hadn’t done any of World Showcase, and it was no big deal to cancel our Biergarten reservation for that night.

The creme brulee, was outstanding.  My mom’s came with a candle in it for her birthday, and our waiter whispered the happy birthday song to her in French (he whispered so he wouldn’t wake Malcolm–very sweet).  Even though we were both full to bursting, we still managed to each polish off our desserts…but just barely.

Even though we left the park by about 4, it was still a very productive day.  We got all of Future World done, and we had an amazing lunch experience.  We both agreed that it was probably one of the top meals we had ever had.  Not only was the food great, but the service was superb, and Remy was delightful.  I really look forward to returning to Les Chefs.  I think Malcolm would really enjoy seeing Remy, and want to go back when he is awake (although, I did really enjoy having a meal where I could just enjoy myself and not have to worry about him).

Even though we had an early end to our day, we still had 3 Disney days left on my mom’s trip!  Next up would be Animal Kingdom, beginning with a pre-opening ADR at Tusker House!

Look for that post to be up soon…until then, follow me on twitter @scarlettashley1, friend me on Facebook under Scarlett Ashley, or email me scarlettashley1@yahoo.com

 

My Little Prince Meets the Princesses: Akershus (Breakfast) August 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — scarlettashley1 @ 3:44 pm

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When my mom and I were first planning her visit, and we were only going to go for one day to WDW, we planned on going to Epcot.  So, there was one day where I made ADR’s several weeks in advance.  That day, was today (well, not today…but the day I’m writing about).  I carefully planned a breakfast, lunch, and dinner…I had reservations at prime times…I thought everything was perfect.  Everything was scheduled to begin with an 8:05am Akershus Princess Breakfast.  My mom and I, both being long-time princess fans, were super stoked about this breakfast!  However, keep in mind, that at the time we originally decided to schedule breakfast for 8am…we didn’t know we were going to be doing a commando Magic Kingdom day the day before.  Let’s go back for a moment, to the previous night.

We had spent a whirlwind day in the Magic Kingdom, we never stopped moving!  We did all of the attractions we wanted to, plus some extras, and had a fantastic time.  We ended the day with the Fireworks Dessert Party, and then some shopping on Main Street.  By 10:30pm, we decided that we were super tired and wanted to leave, even though we knew we would have to deal with the post-fireworks mass exodus.  I figured it wouldn’t be too big of a deal, and we could just take the resort monorail to the TTC and wouldn’t have to wait too terribly long.  For those who don’t know…the resort monorail almost always has like, NO line at the end of the night, while the express line is INSANE!  We often take the resort one instead and only wait a few minutes.

Remember in my last post, when I mentioned that Susan was stuck on the monorail?  Yeah, apparently they had issues with it all day…and both monorails were currently not running.  That meant that every single person trying to leave the park, right after the fireworks, and the end of a SUPER crowded July day, had to take the Ferry.  The ferries each have a capacity of only 600 people, they are super slow to load, and they were only running two of them.  Holy crap.  The line for the ferry was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever seen.  There were no cast members out to do crowd control, there were no switchbacks set up…it was chaos.  It was just a giant mob of hot, tired, angry people…I seriously thought a riot was going to break out.  There were all kinds of people line jumping and pushing through the crowd trying to get to the front.  Normally, I would have had a few choice words for these people…but being 8 months pregnant and having a toddler meant that I couldn’t really get into a fist fight in the ferry line…and that was the mentality of this crowd…if I had said something, it would have turned into a fight.  All around us were arguments and yelling…people were going crazy.  Since we had the stroller it was very difficult for us to maneuver, and swarms of people pushed in front of us or wouldn’t let us through…it was awful.  I think we would STILL be standing there, except for one VERY aggressive woman in a scooter.

There was a woman in a scooter near us who was having the same issue.  People were cutting in front of her, and she was trying to be polite and not run into people, and therefore, tons of people just cut in front of her.  Well, I could see that she was getting fed up and was going to make a break for it…I told my mom that when she did, we were going to get right behind her and pretend we were with her and not stop.

Okay, now before I tell you what happened next, I want to say something about stroller etiquette.  I am usually very polite with my stroller.  I try very hard not to run into people, and if I do I apologize profusely.  In crowds I’m aware of other people and do my best to not get in the way with the stroller or use it as a battering ram.  I know stroller use is a VERY heated topic and people get very fired up about “crazy mom’s running people over,” and yes, those people do exist, but I am not one of them.  I remember how much strollers irritated me before I had one and I really try to be as courteous as possible.  Usually.

However, this was a special situation.  It seemed that everyone in the crowd was taking advantage of the fact that we couldn’t get around as easily, and was using it to line jump us (and several others)…so when scooter lady was ready to go on a rampage, I was right there with her.  When the line started to move a bit, she saw the tiniest opening, and went for it..she hit the gas and took off at full speed towards the ferry.  We followed…I pushed my stroller right up to the back of her scooter and refused to budge.  As we moved towards the loading ferry, people tried to cut her off and jump in front of her, and she just kept going.  I don’t even know how many people she ran over…and eventually people just started kind of jumping out of her way.  I know that sounds awful, but she was my knight in shining armor.  And we didn’t cut in front of anyone…she only took out people who were trying to get in front of her so they could cut the line themselves.  Do I think what she did was right?  Nope.  Were we right for taking advantage of her knocking people out of the way?  Nope.  But, it was still over 95 degrees, we were trapped in a giant mass of rude people, and I was at the point that if I didn’t sit down and get some air soon, I was going to pass out (when you’re 8 months pregnant, your tolerance for standing in a large, hot crowd is greatly diminished).  I don’t think we had any other option.  If there had been CM’s there, I would have asked for help in getting out of the mob and finding someplace to wait til the crowd died down a bit…but that wasn’t an option either due to the lack of CM’s.

So, thanks to the crazy scooter lady, we made it on the ferry!  It was now 12:30.  By the time we crossed the lagoon and got to the car, it was 1:00am.  By the time we got home, it was just after 2:00am.  We had to be up in 4 hours to make our ADR.  We thought about cancelling.  However, at Akershus you have to give them a credit card when you reserve, and if you don’t cancel far enough in advance (24 or 48 hours…I don’t remember), they charge you anyway.  So, we decided that despite the miniscule amount of sleep we would get, we were going to that princess breakfast!

Somehow we managed to get up the next morning and get to Epcot.  I had never had an ADR before park opening, so I wasn’t too sure how things would work.  Luckily, they made it really easy.  There was a big sign directing us to the character dining entrance, and a security guard looked up our name on the reservation list and let us into the park.  One of the coolest moments of my mom’s entire trip, was walking underneath Spaceship Earth and through FutureWorld when it was completely empty.  It was so surreal to be there without all the crowds milling about.  We walked back to World Showcase, and through Mexico, and I think the whole time we only saw 2 or 3 cast members walking around, and didn’t see any other guests until we got into Norway.

We checked in with the hostess and our name was called less than a minute later.  When we first entered, we were led to a queue where we would meet, and get our picture taken with, a princess.  The picture is included in the price of breakfast, but apparently, no matter what the size of your party, you only get one picture.  The princess rotates, and today, it was Belle.  We were third in line, so we had to wait a few minutes, but when it was our turn, she spent a good amount of time with us.  She was very sweet to Malcolm, and let him play with the edge of her sparkly dress, and told him all about how handsome he was.  Then, they took our picture and although Belle was really nice, the look on her face in our family picture is weird…like she just left the dentist and was still numb on half of her face or something.  Then, they took us to our table, and our included picture was brought out to us during the meal.

The food at Akershus’s breakfast is half family style and half buffet.  They bring hot foods to the table, and your cold foods are on the buffet.  The hot foods include bacon, potato casserole, sausage, and scrambled eggs.  The cold buffet is fruit, pastries, breads, cheeses, and some Norwegian options like herring.  It wasn’t really anything spectacular, really just one step up from a continental breakfast, clearly we were paying for the princesses.  There were a couple of standouts with the food.  My mom was CRAZY about the potato casserole, and even had to ask the server to bring us more.  I loved the dill cream cheese so much that I ate 4 bagels, each one heaped with it!  Malcolm’s favorite was the scrambled eggs…although that’s always his favorite at breakfast.  We also all agreed that the bacon was fantastic.  I know, I know…how difficult is bacon?  But who cares, it was, for whatever reason, particularly delicious.

When we were first seated, I was impressed at how spaced out the tables were.  We had much more room than we’d had at Crystal Palace.  I quickly learned why…the princess dresses are HUGE!!  When the princesses began their rotations, the dining room became much more full, and I highly recommend getting all your food before they get to you, and don’t try to get up from your table while they are roaming in your area.

The first princess to visit was Aurora.  She was very sweet, and VERY good with Malcolm.  Malcolm had suddenly turned into a bit of a “Gaston” and why trying to grab Aurora in inappropriate places (not good behavior on his first castle visit!), and she was very nice about it.  She deflected him well, and still hung out for a bit and talked to him and seemed generally interested in him.

Next was Cinderella.  Okay, seriously…if Cindy wasn’t drunk, she had been the night before.  She was a little, ummm…weird.  She never made any eye contact, and that look she has on her face in the picture (the one where her hand isn’t in front of her face), yeah, that look was frozen on her face, just like that, the entire time.  She didn’t even move for like an entire minute while I was taking pictures.  She was frozen, just like that.  Plus, she was slurring a lot, which was kind of weird.  I was actually really glad when she left our table because she was really awkward.  I was really sad about the whole thing because Cinderella is my favorite princess and this was the first time I’d ever met her…it was really disappointing.

After Cindy left our table, I spent a few minutes watching Jasmine at the table next to ours.  She was talking to a young girl, who was probably about 10, and she sounded like she was interviewing her for a job.  She was firing questions at her super fast, “Are you on vacation?  Where are you staying?  Do you like it?  When do you leave?  Where are you from?”  It was a little intimidating and I was kind of apprehensive about her visit to our table.  But then, she came over, and was WONDERFUL!  She played with Malcolm, and talked to all of us, and didn’t use her brusque interviewer voice like she had at the other table.  We had a great time with her…although, I kind of felt bad for the little girl at the other table.

At this point in the breakfast, Malcolm was beginning to get a bit antsy.  He was finished eating and ready to get out of his high chair, but, we still had Ariel to see.  She was at the table next to ours, with her back to us.  Remember how I said the dresses were big and took up lots of space?  Well, her dress was right next to Malcolm, and before I could stop him, he reached out and smeared scrambled eggs all over the back of it.  Oops.  She was very nice about it, and said it happens all the time.  She was even really nice when Malcolm tried throwing the eggs at her.  He wasn’t crying or throwing a fit or anything…he was just bored and thought throwing eggs was funny.  We then took all the food out of his reach, and Ariel came to our table for our visit.  Of all the princesses, she was by far the best with Malcolm.  He adored her, and she talked right to him and played peek-a-boo and tickled him and was really fantastic.  She totally made up for our sad experience with Cindy.

Once Ariel left we quickly paid and left before Malcolm could wreak any more havoc.  Overall, it was an enjoyable enough experience, but honestly, I won’t do it again until I have to.  And by “have to” I mean, when my kids are old enough to beg me to take them…and that may not happen with boys…so I may never do it again, and that’s okay with me.  Basically, if you have daughters who really love the princesses, then do it…but if you don’t, there are better places to have breakfast and other places to meet the princesses.

We left Akershus to begin our day at Epcot.  We had a 1:00 ADR at Les Chefs de France, and wanted to get in as much stuff as we could before then.  I’ll talk about all that in my next post when I talk about our lunch.  Until then, don’t forget you can follow me on twitter @scarlettashley1 or friend me on Facebook under the name Scarlett Ashley.  You can also email me at scarlettashley1@yahoo.com.

 

Mom’s Magic Kingdom Morning: Crystal Palace (breakfast) August 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — scarlettashley1 @ 9:15 pm

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Sorry this post has been so long in coming.  My mom and I had a really great trip, but she left today, and the real work can begin.  I’m going to space out the posts from the last week so that there’s something new every couple of days.  I figure if I do it this way, and get “behind” on my writing, I’ll have some experiences saved up and can still write for a bit, even after going to restaurants all the time is too difficult (which I fear may be coming sooner rather than later).

Anyway, for our first day in the parks, my mom and I decided to go to Magic Kingdom.  Well, I say we decided…really it was the touringplans.com crowd calendar that decided…but whatever.  As I usually do, as soon as we decided we were going, I looked into getting us good ADR’s.  There was one thing I HAD to have…Crystal Palace breakfast.

There were several reasons I needed this reservation.  1) I felt like my mom wouldn’t be getting the full Magic Kingdom experience if we didn’t do character dining.  2) My mom LOVES the Winnie the Pooh characters (her love of Eeyore borders on obsession).  3) At CP you can make pre-opening ADR’s, and therefore don’t have to spend precious park touring time eating.

After trying several times over a couple of days, I discovered that a pre-9am reservation wasn’t going to happen.  The only breakfast reservation available at all was at 10:20am, so I took it.  I figured it would be fine, even if not what I considered ideal.  Oh well, at least we wouldn’t have to get up quite so early…although, we would still be getting up very early to get to the parks by 8:30am.

It turned out that there were going to be several “Liners” (the folks in Lines chat) at MK the same day.  Whoo-hoo!  Rope Drop meet up!!  Susan AKA Sweatshirt (@shrtswt2thpt) and Susan (@weasus) agreed to meet us at 8:30, while a couple of others said they might pop by, but no guarantees (there was also a mission planned to find a paintbrush, but we weren’t going to go along due to our ADR).

We get to the parks as planned at 8:30, with no drama!!  I was so excited that we didn’t have any of the disasters that I usually end up facing…however, it looked like we were the only ones with smooth sailing.  While we were waiting for the MK morning show, I kept checking Lines…Susan’s monorail was broken, Sweatshirt’s tram wasn’t moving, Shane was MIA…it looked like our party was a bust.

After the morning show began, we could see Sweatshirt across the crowded courtyard, but couldn’t get to her.  We waited til the show ended (I cried…as usual), then tried to find her.  While we were looking, Susan appeared!  We then found Sweatshirt, and our Rope Drop party turned into a walk down Main Street party.  My mom, Malcolm, and I were headed to Fantasyland, and Susan and Sweatshirt were headed to Space Mountain…but that walk down Main Street was still really nice.  It’s so awesome to know that we are part of this great Lines community and that there are always fellow Disney enthusiasts around.

So, after park opening we have an hour and 20 minutes til our ADR.  I want to be there 15 minutes early or so, so that mean we have about an hour to do stuff at this point.  We decided to hit Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Snow White, and it’s a small world, then run get a fast pass for Splash Mountain before heading to CP.  Normally, this plan would have worked out great.  In fact, as we boarded IASW, I was actually considering that we might have time for a quick ride on the Jungle Cruise on the way to CP from Splash.  But something happened that most people have nightmares about…we got stuck on small world.

That’s right…almost immediately after we entered the tunnel, the lights came on, the boat slowed down, and they made an announcement that our voyage would be delayed.  Now, I have to admit, that I really like small world.  The song doesn’t bother me the way it does for so many people.  However, at the thought of being trapped in there with it…I was a little nervous.  The people sitting in the row behind us?  They were full on freaking out.  They began to paddle furiously, and were encouraging others to do the same.  When we caught up with the boat in front of us, they then began yelling at the people in THAT boat to paddle…it was actually pretty hilarious.  Well, it was hilarious until their 4 year old daughter said those magic words…the one every parent dreads at times like this…”Mommy, I have to pee…RIGHT NOW!”  Uh-oh.  All of us in the boat spent a few minutes joking about what they should do…hold her out over the water, jump out of the boat and make a run for it, empty a water bottle and have her use it.  Apparently, we spent too much time joking…and she pee’d her pants…oops.

Okay, now, as I said, I totally like the ride and the song and all…but being stuck in that little boat, for 45 minutes, while hungry, and with a hungry baby…AND it smells like pee and there is an upset 4-year-old (not to mention her parents)…well, this was not a fun ride.  On top of all that, I ended up, once again, worrying about getting to breakfast on time.  When we (FINALLY!!) made it to the end, the CM’s asked if we wanted to ride again since we’d had issues…ummm, seriously?  No.

We ended up getting to Crystal Palace only 5 minutes late, and only had to wait about 10 minutes before we were seated.  As soon as we walked in, I was amazed by the building.  It was so open, airy, and bright.  It was beautiful and it smelled delicious…just walking in made me excited to eat there, and that was before I even saw the food or the characters.  I knew that this would totally save our morning following the IASW disaster.

The hostess showed us to our table, and immediately I noticed a problem.  We were assigned a 2 person table, and they just stuck a high chair on the end.  This normally wouldn’t be a problem, except that the tables were VERY close together, and our table was right by a big pole, and I have an 8 months pregnant belly.  Needless to say, getting in and out of my seat was SUPER difficult.  I felt really bad for the poor family next to me that I kept bumping with my giant stomach while going to get food, going to the bathroom, etc.

The seating issue, however, was the last of our problems.  First, we got our food.  It was pretty typical breakfast fare, although, they seemed to have EVERYTHING you would normally associate with breakfast…waffles, omlettes, fruit, eggs, potatoes, pastries, bacon, sausage…and all of it was really really REALLY yummy.  It was fresh, it was hot, it was delicious.  I also discovered that they didn’t mind when I ordered 3 different drinks…I couldn’t decide between decaf coffee, orange juice, and iced tea, and they happily brought all three, and even kept all 3 constantly refilled!

Now, we could see the characters making their way toward us on their rotation…first up was Eeyore.  I was really excited for Eeyore.  This is my mom’s favorite Disney character, and I figure Malcolm would love his big nose and his (perpetually going missing) tail.  Eeyore, however, seemed to be in a bit of a rush to finish up with our table.  He only stopped for a moment, let me get a couple of quick pictures, and then moved on.  I was worried that all of the interactions we would have would be a bust.

I soon realized, I needn’t have worried.  Piglet was next, and Malcolm loved him!  He stuck around for a while and played while I took pictures.  He even stayed and waited for my mom to get back from the buffet so that she could see him too.  Tigger and Pooh each came by shortly after, and each of them were also extremely playful and had a great time with Malcolm.  Malcolm really loved them, and seemed to enjoy how cuddly they were in comparison to the Playhouse Disney characters at our last character dining experience.

By this time, breakfast time was ending and the restaurant was clearing out as they prepared for lunch time.  There were only a few tables that still had people at them, and the characters came around a second time and spent TONS of time with us…even Eeyore stuck around for longer, so I figured the first time he was just feeling a bit gloomy, or maybe was anxious to find some thistles to eat.

My mom was so impressed with the magical breakfast.  She doesn’t get to see Malcolm play with the characters all the time like I do, so she really enjoyed being able to sit, relax, and eat while watching him have a fabulous time.  She made me realize that for people who aren’t locals, and especially people who are travelling with grandparents or other extended family, character dining is a must-do.  It’s a perfect opportunity for the whole family, to experience the characters, and to see the kids get some really good one on one time with them.  You don’t have to stand in line, you don’t feel rushed, it’s a great family experience.  We enjoyed this breakfast so much, I did some fudging to assure that we could have breakfast at Tusker House on our AK day (more details on that to come).

I definitely recommend breakfast at Crystal Palace.  If you don’t mind losing some park time, I also really recommend the time we went.  Even though I had REALLY wanted the experience of walking down Main Street when it was totally empty, it was great to knock out a few attractions right at rope drop and then take our time over breakfast instead of getting seated at 8am and then rushing to pay the check and get to Dumbo by 9am.  We actually had a very leisurely meal, we took over an hour and a half.  There is no way my neurotic touring brain would have been able to handle a breakfast that slow if it meant we had to miss rope drop.

We later had a late lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern, and then did Fireworks Dessert Party for “dinner.”  I chose not to write about either of these experiences.  I’m not writing about LTT because I already did it, and I chose not to write about dessert party because I know I’m going to do it again, and I really wanted to focus on enjoying the party with my mom and Malcolm without worrying about taking pictures and thinking about what I was going to write.

The next day, we headed to Epcot for a VERY early breakfast at Akershus!  Look for that post soon.

Don’t forget, you can follow me on twitter @scarlettashley1, friend me on Facebook under Scarlett Ashley, and subscribe to the blog on the home page!

 

 
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