For my first dining adventure, I’m fully aware that I made a rather boring choice. However, I have good reasons, so let me explain. Yesterday, I logged into the WDW website and put in a request for a 3:00pm ADR and left the restaurant blank. When the results came back, I realized I could eat at pretty much any restaurant I wanted, with the obvious exceptions like Le Cellier, Coral Reef, CRT, etc. I figured I needed to narrow my search, so I decided we would eat in the Magic Kingdom. I picked MK for two reasons. First, we spend the most time in MK, so it seemed fitting. Second, MK is dry. There are lots of dining experiences around the world where I know I would like a glass of wine or a fancy cocktail, and since I can’t really drink right now, I figured a dry restaurant was a good idea. Even after I narrowed my search to Magic Kingdom, I still had the ability to pick from any restaurant in the park (except CRT). I looked at menus for each restaurant, and even toyed with the idea of doing dinner instead of lunch. All the time I was looking, I kept coming back to Liberty Tree. I have walked by Liberty Tree Tavern (LTT) several times, every time we have been in the park, and I always think, “Mmmm…that looks good, I should eat there.” But I never do. I either don’t eat until later, or I opt for the nearby counter (meaning cheaper) service at Columbia Harbour House. So, I decided, I would finally eat at LTT.
I took the last available lunch time, 2:50 pm (they close at 3 to prepare for dinner service which begins at 4). I figured that was a late enough time that Malcolm and I could sleep in, and he could have a good nap before we headed to lunch, thus ensuring a happier baby. What a great plan. Nothing could go wrong, right?
You know those days where the entire universe seems to conspire against you? The days where you KNOW there is a god because the absolute disaster you are going through can only be some sick yet incredibly well choreographed joke played on you by a higher power. Today was one of those days.
It all started with Malcolm not falling asleep for his nap as easily as usual, which, in turn, meant that once he actually fell asleep, he slept longer than usual. Towards the end of his nap I started calculating how much time we had. An hour drive, ten minutes to walk from the parking lot to the TTC (we don’t usually take the tram due to the nightmare of folding a giant stroller and then lugging a toddler, stroller, backpack, and diaper bag onto the tram singlehandedly at 31 weeks pregnant), fifteen minutes to take the monorail to the park, then another 10 miniutes to get into the park and to the restaurant. If the ADR is at 2:50, and I want to be there by 2:35, that means we need to leave the house at 1:00.
Anyone with children will tell you that the number one rule is never ever wake a sleeping baby (unless it’s for Rope Drop). By 12:55 I was panicking. I was dressed, the bags were ready to go, but Malcolm was still sleeping. I figured I could let him go for a bit, as I had scheduled plenty of time and it wouldn’t be a problem. At 1:15 he woke up (yes!). I changed his diaper, dressed him, and poured him some milk for the road. I gathered up our bags, my phone, his sippy cup, and my water, turned to grab him…and he was gone. Malcolm had crawled into the dog’s crate and had half of the snaps on his outfit undone (all in about 10 seconds). *sigh* I put everything down, got down on the ground, pulled him out, did up his snaps, gathered up all of our stuff again, put Conrad (the dog) into the crate, and headed out to the car. By the time I pull out of the driveway, it’s 1:30. Crap. Oh well, I can speed a little bit, right? Wrong.
I drive to WDW a lot, and I have probably seen less than a dozen cops in the past 6 months combined. Not today. In the 10 minute drive to the Florida Turnpike alone I saw 6. They were also all the way down the turnpike, and on 429. My final count was 27. I also hit every red light, of course, so it took me just over an hour to get to the MK parking lot. Once in the MK lot, it was 2:35 and I was about 3/4 of the way down my parking aisle…and my aisle was Donald 64. Those of you who know the MK parking lot know that this is basically as far away from the TTC as you can get. Outstanding. I quickly decide we’ll have to take the tram, there is no way we have time to walk. Luckily, I have the umbrella stroller in my car, which is much easier to fold up and carry on the tram (it’s not as comfy for Malcolm, and there is no place to put my bags in it, and it doesn’t have cup holders so we never use it at WDW). I quickly grab a few necessities out of the diaper bag and throw them in my backpack (so that we only have one bag), grab Malcolm and the stroller, and run for the tram. Seriously, picture that for a minute. I’m almost 8 months pregnant, it’s 100 degrees outside, I’m carrying a backpack, a folded umbrella stroller, and a 30 pound toddler. Not fun.
I get to about 10 yards from the tram…just close enough to hear “No further boarding,” and the tram pulls away. Luckily, there is another one there to take it’s place. We (very clumsily) get on, and then the tram waits…and waits…and waits…for more people coming in from the lot. In reality, we probably sit there for all of 3 minutes, but in my head, it’s more like 3 days. We finally get moving, and then stop for 3 people in the Minnie Mouse lot to get on!! First of all, I have never seen a tram make a stop on the way into the park like that. Second, it was only THREE people! Third, Minnie Mouse is like, 10 feet from the TTC…why the heck do they need the tram?! We finally get to the TTC, I jump out, get Malcolm in the stroller, and run (again, picture that…feel my pain) to the monorail, which, of course, pulls out just as we reach the top of the ramp. We get on the next monorail and I stop to look at my watch, it’s 2:45. I realize that if I really hustle, we can make it right on time.
Whew…I finally take a deep breath and relax. I relax for about 5 seconds, and then, the monorail stops. The announcement comes on about how we’re holding for clearance or whatever. And then it comes on again…and again. We sit there until exactly 2:50. My ADR time. Normally, I would think that they deal with lateness often and will squeeze me in. However, I’ve made a reservation at a time right before they close and switch over from lunch to dinner. I know that if I don’t make it by 3:00, I’m not making it at all.
When we get off the monorail I once again start running. Now, those of you in the know will realize that I am walking in the gate at 2:55. What does that mean? Exactly…it’s parade time, which means I have to cut through the shops. In the shops, I meet a plethora of people in no hurry what-so-ever. Strolling couples holding hands, an old lady with a walker, a toddler who just learned to walk and keeps falling down right in front of me…seriously, any horrendously slow person you can think of walked in front of me today and I never had an opportunity to get around them. I walk in the door of LTT at 2:58. I’m hoping that my sweaty, exhausted, and heavily pregnant appearance will make them take pity on me and seat me 8 minutes late.
This is when the real fun begins. There is a couple ahead of me at the check-in desk checking for an ADR for that night and the cast member helping them, is a cast member in training. Ack!! This process takes about 10 minutes, and the whole time I’m standing there behind them, wanting to yell, “You have all day!! My ADR is now!! Let me go first!!” But I don’t. I stand there, and sweat, and panic, and try to tell myself that they can’t penalize me for being behind the slowest couple ever. The couple leaves and (I swear, I can’t make this up) some random guy comes in the door and jumps right in front of me and begins to talk to the cast member. At this point I am about to lose it but I (in a voice that is only slightly snarky) say, “Excuse me, I was in line.” The guy turns around, rolls his eyes at me, and goes back to the CM. The CM looks at me, and, even though she clearly heard me, ignores me. Then THAT guy takes about 10 minutes. By this time, it is 3:20 and I am so frustrated I’m crying. I’m also angry at the rude guy in front of me for being a jerk, and at the CM for ignoring me. When I (finally) get to the desk, the CM says, “We stop seating at 3.” Okay, I have worked in restaurants, and I really try to be understanding, but I was there before 3 AND she totally let a guy cut in front of me. I am NOT okay with this situation. I calmly explain to her that, while I was late, I was there before 3, but she took a long time with the other couple, and then the line cutter, and it is not my fault that she didn’t actually acknowledge me for 25 minutes. She responds by telling me, that’s not true, I’m lying, I couldn’t have been there that long.
At this point, upon being called a liar, the exciting cocktail of heat exhaustion, pregnancy hormones, and frustration mixes up and I start to cry. Not “cute, sweet, look how precious I am, please give me what I want” crying. But full on, I can’t breathe, I can’t speak, I am red and blotchy and hideous, ridiculous sobbing. The trainee, the experienced hostess, and the woman who was greeting people at the door have no idea what to do. They do however, seem to think that since I’m crying, I must also be deaf, and begin to talk about me right in front of me. I imagine it’s the way nurses in a mental institution behave when a patient having a meltdown (“It’s okay, they’re insane, if we just stand here and whisper soothing things at no one in particular everything will be fine”). Thankfully, the woman who was working the door tells the hostesses that indeed I am not lying and I have been standing there forever and they decide to call for a manager. Through my sobs I’m trying to explain to them that I’m not crazy, just hormonal…but I think it mostly just came out as weird choking sounds and me pointing to my belly. Interestingly, the trainee CM said at one point to the other two, “Weird, that’s the fourth time this week.” So, unless they are inundated with hysterical pregnant women, I’m assuming they often are really slow and then people are late who subsequently get mad because it’s not their own fault that they’re late.
By the time the manager gets there I’ve managed to pull myself together a bit and when he asks what happened I’m (amazingly) pretty calm. I also add that I would be happy to wait for a 4pm dinner time instead if that is available, because I feel like a total jackass for crying. He then says, “Oh, it’s no problem, of course you can still have lunch, right this way, I’ll show you to your table.” I swear I thought the hostesses were going to punch me.
So, I realize this is already really long, and I haven’t even started talking about my lunch yet, but I think the build up is important so you understand my state of mind when I actually sat down to eat. I felt so stressed out and at this point it just felt awkward to be there, but I really wanted to get started on my project so I felt like I should follow through. Also, I have a new appreciation for people who come down for trips and plan ADR’s for every day. None of the obstacles I encountered today were super out of the ordinary (although their combination was pretty divine). Even if you are staying on property, there are so many things that can get in between you and your ADR. Doesn’t that get stressful? I can’t imagine being on the deluxe dining plan and dealing with trying to be in the right place, at the right time, three times a day. I think I would spend the whole time freaking out about making it to the restaurant in plenty of time.
Anyway, onto the actual dining experience. The official WDW site describes LTT as an “authentic recreation of an 18th-century American inn.” Honestly, there is no better way to describe it. It is exactly what I imagined it would be. I felt like I was eating in the same place that Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin once ate. It just has that feel. I really wanted to take lots of pictures of the inside, but I was feeling so awkward about the whole hostess debacle, that I was too intimidated to. However, I can tell you, the details were fabulous (as they usually are at Disney). Old fashioned fire places, pewter dishes stacked in weathered hutches, lanterns, old paintings…it was lovely. Even if you don’t ever eat there, just go check out the lobby area sometime, it’s really neat.
From checking out the menu online, I already knew what I wanted to order. A bowl of clam chowder to start and then the Tri-Corner Sandwich for my entree. The Tri-Corner Sandwich is roast beef, swiss cheese, “liberty slaw,” horseradish cream sauce, and arugula on multi-grain bread (although, I ordered it without “liberty slaw”).
I looked at the kid’s menu for Malcolm, but since he likes clam chowder, and I ordered more food than I can handle right now, I knew he could just share with me. However, I want to mention that I never really thought about the kids menu’s at the table service restaurants. I figured they would be the same chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese that you would see at the counter service places. But really, the kids food seems way better at TS than CS. I realize now that this makes total sense, as the adult food is better at TS than CS, I just figured that they would have the same types of options for kids as CS, but was glad to see I was incorrect.
So, my clam chowder came, and it was really yummy. It was creamy and thick with big chunks of clam and potato. It was exactly what I wanted it to be. It was so delicious that (with Malcolm’s help) I ate the whole bowl, despite the fact that it was about 100 degrees outside. What I was really excited for though, was my sandwich. One of my weird cravings I get with my pregnancy is horseradish. The horseradish cream sauce on my sandwich was a huge part of my decision to eat at LTT for lunch. Sadly, I was a bit disappointed. All of the individual elements of the sandwich were good, but the balance was off. The bread was really thick (the top slice was literally an inch and a half thick), and the sauce was way more horseradish than cream, and although I really liked the sauce’s flavor, it just didn’t balance well with everything else. I ate about a quarter of my sandwich before asking for an extra side of the sauce. I then took the rest of the sandwich apart and just ate the roast beef dipped in the horseradish sauce. Now THAT was seriously yummy. But, the sandwich just didn’t work. Maybe it’s my fault for ordering it without the slaw, who knows. Also, the fries that came as my side…delicious! I know it’s just fries, and really how difficult is that…but still, they were really really good and I thought you should know.
One of the tables near me was celebrating a birthday, and I have to say, I was impressed with their birthday routine at LTT. It wasn’t anything too fancy, three servers brought out a little cupcake with a candle in it, but then they did a whole 18th century style speech. You know, like, “By proclimation, I declare, that on this ninth day of July, Timmy is 11 years old,” or whatever (there version was much better than my re-creation, I should have written it down, it was really good), and then they have a little birthday song that is sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle Dandee.” It just fit in so well with the atmosphere and everything, I thought it was awesome.
There you have it. My first ever, full on, ADR dining experience. I kind of hope they aren’t all that eventful…I’m exhausted. Also, I hope you got a sense of my style and what I want to accomplish. I’m not a restaurant reviewer or critic. I’m here to tell you the story of what happened, my whole dining adventure, which is why there is so much detail and whatnot about my entire hectic journey today.
I already made my next ADR. I’m eating a late lunch/early dinner at the Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney on Monday. So, until then…