December Orlando trip - Sheraton Vistana Resort - Part 8 up 1/26 - EPCOT, Garden Grill & I am going. - Page 2 - PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel
December Orlando trip - Sheraton Vistana Resort - Part 8 up 1/26 - EPCOT, Garden Grill & I am going.
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Part IV - Rain, Pain, Shopping &amp; Emeril's Tchoup Chop
<u>Thursday, December 8</u>
Today was pretty much a ...
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Part IV - Rain, Pain, Shopping & Emeril's Tchoup Chop
<u>Thursday, December 8</u>
Today was pretty much a wash… Rain & Pain!! Ugh!
When we finally were going to go out there was a problem with both of the back tires of my scooter - the old recalled plastic rimmed tires - we had the new tires with us, but had not changed them as Joe could not get them off of the scooter. Procrastination had made it too late for us to get them done at a shop before we left, and they seemed fine… so we did the only thing that we could do and take everything with us…
Joe had the idea that it may just be the stems and that a tightening tool may do the trick. I was not so sure, but what could it hurt? Wal-Mart was just down the street so we headed there. As we neared the store we noticed that there were police cars with their flashers on, and the street lights were out… We pulled into the parking lot and saw a crowd of people standing outside the store… very odd! We soon would find out that all the commotion was that the power was out so the customers were asked to exit the store and it closed.
We drove back to the room where I grabbed my Passporter which I had important numbers listed, just in case. I had listed the place where I had rented a scooter on our last trip to Orlando and thought that they may be able to help us… and if not, I could at least rent a scooter from them if I needed to. It turned out that that place was actually outside of the Orlando area so it would not be convenient to go there, but if nothing else worked I would call them and see if they could deliver me a rental.
The next thing that I did was to call the main number for Rascal to see if they could recommend a repair facility. I then called the only Rascal place in the area to find that they could not help us today. The next day did not sound promising, either… Seems that there was some sort of bug going around in the building and they had people out sick.
Joe ran into the registration building of the Sheraton for a phone book. I called two more places, the second one would do it for us that day if we could be there by 3:30pm, which was in like a half hour!
Could we do it?
We drove back up to the registration building where Joe ran in to get directions… He received a pre-printed map with some directions jotted down… the two people at the guest relations desk seemed to have a difference of opinion on which exit to get off and the PC for guest use had a short line and there just was not enough time to wait so we had to wing it. This is the first time that I wished that we had brought one of the laptops with us. I had considered it, but just really did not want to have to deal with it or have it eat into our vacation time… Oh, well….
The driving started out fine and it seemed that things were going well until we ran into traffic. Ugh. It was stop and go and we really were not sure what would happen… so Joe opted to get off at the first exit of the two choices and then pull into the gas station right off the exit… It was just about 3:30 now and we had no idea how close we were… As luck would have it (we needed some today!) it was just around the corner and we pulled into the parking lot at 3:34pm.
Jordan and Joe unloaded the scooter and brought it in… About fifteen minutes later the repair man came out to say that there was a part missing that he needed in order to put on the new front tire and he did not have what he needed… I did not panic as I knew that there was a bag of metal parts that came with the tires that we brought with us, Joe got it out and the man said, “Just what I wanted!”
They charged me only $30, for which I was very grateful. The main guy commented that the tires were on so tight that they needed 2 people to get them off. By 4pm the new tires were on and we were good to go…
We had 7:30 reservations at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop restaurant at the Royal Pacific Resort in Universal so we decided to check out the Prime Outlet, which I had known as Belz. Fortunately there were signs up that said that it was formerly Belz as I had been there only once and it was about 9 or10 years ago… I knew it was on that strip but wasn’t sure exactly where, but we found it…
Saying that Joe is not a big fan of malls would be an understatement… I think that he has been in 1 mall in the last 2 years, and that was only because he had received a gift certificate for it… and even so he only got so far as the Radio Shack on the outside of the mall, and did not actually go inside… So this was a pretty big deal and I promised not to stay long… lmao!
I was really looking for picture frames and picked up a couple of cute ones in the gift store while Jordan shopped for his girlfriend and, secretively, for me too.. So sweet!! We also stopped for a couple of pretzels and a coffee… I must say that people in this area must not be big coffee drinkers because most of the coffee that I taste around here is just not taste bud friendly. This would actually be the second cup of coffee that I purchased that day that I could not drink… blah! Where is a Starbucks when I need one?
We ended up at the restaurant very early but did not have to wait long to be seated. Although we had dined at the Emeril’s in Universal’s City Walk once before we had never been to this one so we were all pretty excited.
Joe and I started off with a Tchoup Chop Salad with Baby Lettuces, Toasted Cashews, Fresh Orange, Yellow Pea Tendrils and a Creamy Soy Dressing. Joe wasn’t really crazy about it… I think the dressing was a bit too odd for him, but it was good. Jordan decided to pass on the salad and instead ordered the Polynesian Crab Cake With Mango Habanero Butter Sauce and Papaya Salsa as an appetizer. He let us both try it and it was amazing! He and Joe each ordered a diet Coke and I ordered their house drink with the souvenir Tiki glass. Mmmmmm…..
For entrees Joe and Jordan both opted for the Macadamia Nut Crusted Atlantic Salmon served with Ginger-Soy Butter Sauce, Wasabi Mashed Potatoes and Stir Fried Vegetables. Although they both liked it, they seemed a bit disappointed that it was not anything really special. We eat salmon quite a bit at home and I think that they actually prefer the way that I cook it. Kudos to me!
I ordered the Banana Leaf Steamed Fish of the Day served with Steamed Rice Charred Onion Vinaigrette and Sake Soy Glaze. OMG! It is soooooo fricken’ good!!! The fish was corvina, which is a white fish that is also known as white sea bass. I have never had this type of fish before, however when I do come to Orlando and go to a “splurgey” type restaurant I like to try something new. Our waiter recommended it, stating that it melts in your mouth… and he was sooo right!! If I ever have the opportunity to purchase some of this type of fish at home I am definitely going to see what I can do with it.
There is no way that we could go out for a great meal at an exciting restaurant and no order desert… Jordan and Joe had already planned on what they were ordering… Emeril’s signature desert… Banana Cream Pie with Graham Crust, Caramel Sauce, and Chocolate Shavings. You will never be able to get a better banana cream pie. I ordered a cappuccino and the Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate Chocolate Cake A La Mode. Yes, the chocolate is supposed to be there twice! It is a flourless dark chocolate cake with a lot of flavor without being sweet like most cakes are…
If you are interested in checking out the menu for our restaurant of the night, you can do so here:
While the service is not as “refined” as Emeril’s main themed restaurant, Tchoup Chop does not disappoint in the food, service or décor. There is a “pond” running down the middle of the restaurant (you can see a partial picture of it at the link above) with rippling water that always seems to be ready to spill out onto the floor, but it just never does! I swear that Jordan and I must have tried to figure out how it does not spill over for a good 5 - 10 minutes before we gave up. lol!
Thank you! I knew that we would figure something out with the scooter... The good thing about was that it happened on a really rainy day. [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
Part V - Islands of Adventure and Emeril’s
<u>Friday, December 9</u>
Today we were off to Universals Islands of Adventure. While we had been to Universal Studios on two occasions, the first time was before Islands of Adventure had been built and time did not allow us to visit it on our last vacation.
The plan was to go to Islands of Adventure for the entire day, however we planned to meet my cousin Allison and her children around 4pm, after she picked up Rachel from school. Plans, like rules, are made to be broken… It started raining around 3pm or so and did not let up until around 5pm and the park was scheduled to close at 6pm. In that time, although my cell phone was on and reading a full signal, I never heard the phone ring and saw that voice mail was left on my phone. The only thing that I could figure is that this particular park is just so loud that I did not hear the phone ring. We played phone tag for a bit, but we decided to meet the next day and she took her children out to see a movie that they had been wanting to see.
Islands of Adventure has great designing and theming. I really enjoyed taking the time to look around and absorb my surroundings. The layout of the park is a big confusing, but not as much as the layout of Sea World.
This is a coaster park and Jordan was in heaven! He rode and rode and rode and rode and rode… He proclaimed his favorite ride of the day to be the Hulk… a big green monster of a coaster with loop after loop after loop, without the big gut wrenching drop that most thrill rides have. I would have to say that his second favorite was the Dueling Dragons coaster as he road the fire side FIVE times! The first time that he road it it had began to rain, and the coaster was so fast that even though he closed his eyes the rain stung…
We had taken the opportunity when the rain began to hide out in a nearby restaurant and have a late lunch. The Enchanted Oak Tavern is a counter service restaurant with a medieval feel to it. I found it to be reasonably priced and quite good. Joe and I had chicken salads and Jordan had the Enchanted hamburger platter which came with a hamburger, fries, an ear of corn and a piece of corn bread. We also refilled out Universal cups with soda.
We found that purchasing a plastic themed refillable cup from either of the Universal parks was a great deal as the prices of drinks purchased one at a time are high and the refills were much cheaper. Even if we were just a little thirsty, we could refill one of the cups and then divide it up into the other ones…. We opted not to purchase the meal plan as the restaurants that one can use it in are limited and those restaurants always seemed to have really long lines… This was even though the park was not crowded, by any stretch of the imagination… The meal plan was $18.99 per adult for a one park meal pass that allows the holder to eat as much as he wants at the selected restaurants as long as he waits in line to order each allowed selection and drinks are not included.
Once the rain stopped the park had cleared out quite a bit and there was no waiting at the Dueling Dragon so Jordan (and others) rode the coaster again and again and again, for a total of FOUR times in a row.
The other rides that Jordan enjoyed included the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, Storm Force Acceleration, The Cat in the Hat, the Caro-Seusal and checked out If I Ran the Zoo. Jordan also rode Pteranodon Flyers after a 45 minute wait and proclaimed it the biggest waste of time and that even if there was no wait he would not bother. For eye rolling action, just ask him about it!!! He will probably tell you that the build up was just too much as it looks like a long ride that covers a large area of the park allowing one a great birds eye view… but in fact the ride is extremely short and goes no where… He could probably throw in a few more great adjectives for you. Haha!
As a group we were most amazed by Suess Landing. While approaching Suess Landing we could see how wonderfully it was decorated and could already feel the magic. Walking into that area of the park was like walking into a book… It is just that good!
We also enjoyed the Jurassic Park Discovery Cave. This is a “cave” with walls full of dinosaur fossils. There are giant “scanners” that one can move up and down and side to side while scanning - like a mini x-ray - the walls. Once something pops up on the screen there are buttons to push to find out what was found and the origins and information about that dinosaur. It was pretty cool.
After park closing we spent some time exploring City Walk. City Walk is a pretty cool place… one of the things that makes it so great is that it is right there outside of either of the other Universal parks, they are all connected. I found that this set up made for a relaxing exit of the park as people were not all streaming out at once heading for buses and the parking lot, but instead were continuing to enjoy their time at the parks.
Our first stop was Starbucks! Oh yes, decent drinkable coffee that pleasured my taste buds… Mmmmm….. We all picked out something a bit festive and sat around lounging on the comfy furniture before settling in to listen to the live band for a while. The band was good and drew quite a crowd as they switched from Christmas tunes to music from the 80’s.
We had reservations at Emeril’s for 8:30, which is just a few feet away from the band stage. Full of anticipation for the best restaurant that any of us had ever eaten at, we wandered over there a bit early. I noticed a couple of changes since our first and only visit back in February of 2004... The service and the food was just as amazing as it was then.
Joe started out with Our Emeril’s Salad - A Variety of Farm-Grown Lettuces Tossed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Pepper Jack Cheese and Seasoned Croutons while I chose the most amazing appetizer of all times - Lobster-Scallion Fritters with Grilled Hearts of Romaine, Sweet Corn Jalapeño Tartar Sauce, and a Warm Bacon Creole Mustard Vinaigrette. I shared mine with Jordan, who opted not to get his own as he wanted plenty of room for both his meal and dessert.
Our dinner entrees were lovely. I wasn’t really sure what I felt like having on this night, and since I like to choose something different and I do not eat pork chops hardly ever I chose to order Niman Ranch Double-Cut Pork Chop with Caramelized Sweet Potatoes, an Essence of Tamarind Glaze and Green Chile Mole. Joe ordered Andouille Crusted Texas Redfish with a Grilled Vegetable Relish, Creole Meunière Sauce, Toasted Pecans and a Pile of Crispy Shoestring Potatoes and Jordan enjoyed Sauté of Gulf Shrimp with Tri Colored Linguine, Tomato Concasse, Truffle Infused Olive Oil, Parmigiano Reggiano and Fresh Basil. Can you almost smell it? Mmmm….
For desert Jordan ordered Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie served with Homemade Marshmallows, Hot Fudge and Candied Peanuts, while Joe and I had that awesome specialty - Emeril’s Banana Cream Pie with Banana Crust, Caramel Sauce and Chocolate Shavings.
Our main waiter, Martine, was extremely nice, so much so that when we arrived at Universal the next day he spotted us by the people mover and stopped us to say hello and chat for a minute. How cool is that? He approached us like he was an old friend and that is just how it felt.
I have to ask myself… when can we go back??? [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]
Great update!! Sounds like you had a blast at Universal, in spite of the rain!! Your dinner sounds so good, especially the chocolate peanut butter pie, my absolute favorite!! Wonderful pictures!! Can't wait to read more!!
Part VI - Universal Studios, Hard Rock Café and the Grinch
<u>Saturday, December 10</u>
We have been in Orlando for over a week now and still have over a week to go! I can barely believe that we have been so fortunate to spend so much time here…
For the most part the weather has been beautiful, mid 60’s to low 80’s, a huge improvement over the just above and sub zero temperatures back home… I say that mother nature should have her ice and snow party there now, do it up good and tire herself out so that we do not have to deal with it when we get back… I do not want to think about going back now, as I certainly am not ready to think about leaving… will I ever be ready for that?
Today we enjoyed a full day of fun at Universal Studios. We began our journey by meeting my cousin Allison and her two youngest, Rachel (6) and Joey (3), across from the Mummy. As soon as we got there Allison grabbed Jordan and off they went onto the Mummy… And I mean as soon as we got there!!! Allison just loves Universal and coaster rides, and although she has a season pass, she does not get the opportunity to share the big rides as often as she would like. Do you think that this has anything to do with her trying to help me to talk Joe into moving to Florida?
After the Mummy we all went to enjoy ET together. I always like this one. How many times does a person have the opportunity to ride a bicycle by the moon? Then we got in line to watch Shrek 4-D, which for some reason I did not enjoy as much as I did the last time I saw it.
Jordan and I then went on MIB while the Joe, Allison, Rachel and Joey found a spot to sit and chat and the children had a snack. I just LOVE MIB, but the spinning definitely did a number on my back on this day… I guess with all of the rainy weather I really need to take it easy or I will not be able to enjoy the rest of the trip… On the bright side that whirlpool tub in the room does wonders. Soaking in that every night in as hot as I can stand it makes a huge difference and is sounding really good about now.
Not having that much of an opportunity to see my cousins very often we spent a good deal of time just walking around the park (well, they walked and I drove… lol!) and talking. The way that Universal is set up just walking around is so relaxing.
We stopped at Café La Bamba for a leisurely and tasty lunch. I ordered a rotisserie chicken salad with French honey dressing and everyone else ordered cheeseburger platters and drink refills. Allison actually has a refillable cup that she purchased years ago that she still uses… I am going to have to make sure that I put our cups in a safe place (but not too safe!) for our next trip.
Following lunch Allison and the kids left as Allison had plans having to do with her work Christmas party. We made tentative plans to meet up one day next week. Before they left, Rachel gave Jordan a HUGE hug - so adorable!!!
Jordan, Joe and I went on to enjoy Twister, Earthquake, Jimmy Neutron, the Terminator and Macy’s Parade. Jordan also went on MIB two more times as a single rider and had the opportunity to witness another car beat the game!
After the parade there were not any shows left open so we wandered around and ended up leaving the park at the entrance for the Hard Rock Café at about quarter to six. Although the park closing time was 6pm Jordan did not seem interested in taking advantage of the last 15 minutes to ride anything and everyone was hungry.
Believe it or not we had never been to the Hard Rock Café before, and this was a real treat. The music, of course, was great. We sat between Elton John’s piano, just a short ways across from us, and a stained glass mural of Elvis Presley behind us that was just amazing.
To start off Joe ordered water, Jordan ordered a strawberry shake in a hurricane souvenir glass and I ordered a Tropical Rock in a souvenir glass. A Tropical Rock is a Bacardi Razz Rum, DeKuyper Crème de Banana, Pina Colada Mix, Dole Pineapple Juice and a Midori Melon Liqueur float garnished with a maraschino cherry. This drink was the winning cocktail from Hard Rock’s Bartender Contest in 2004 at the Madrid Café and I could certainly see why! Yum! We also ordered the original Hard Rock onion rings as an appetizer for the table.
For dinner both Jordan and Joe ordered a top sirloin steak which was served with smashed potatoes, gravy and fresh vegetables while I ordered Mad Anthony’s Grilled Skirt Steak which is an 11 oz skirt steak brushed with Michael Anthony’s of Van Halen Mad Anthony’s BBQ sauce and is served with sweet potato fried and fresh vegetables. I will tell you that it was one of the best, if not the best, steak that I have ever eaten. While Joe agreed that mine was better than his, Jordan thought that his was better… Soooo we were all happy with our meals!
I just noticed that there is a Hard Rock Café at Foxwoods Casino so I will have to be making plans to go there…
<u>Sunday, December 11</u>
The plan of the day is to park hop between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure to see and do as much as we have not seen and done yet as possible. Let’s see what happens!
The forecast is for a chilly day with a high of 66, wind and afternoon showers. No, not a perfect day, but 66 is a heck of a lot better than the freezing cold, snow and ice back home!! I will take it!
We started out in the Islands of Adventure where Jordan hopped right on the Hulk… what else? We had planned to go to the Sinbad show and the Grinch who stole Christmas show, but both were rained out.
We hung around in front of the Whoville tree waiting for the show, which was rained out about 10 minutes into it, and it was just sooooo good! We then decided to get out of the rain and went into the closest restaurant which had a loooonnnngggg line and no chairs, ugh!
While Joe and I waited in line to order at Circus McGurkus, Jordan covered the floor to get us a seat… By the time we had gotten through the line Jordan had found us a table without chairs… so I held the table while Joe and Jordan went around trying to get two chairs… It was hard work, but it was accomplished and we enjoyed our lunch. Joe and I had a Chicken Caesar Salad and split a personal pizza while Jordan had a pizza of his own and an order of dippin’ dots, which is ice cream frozen into tiny balls and something that he always has to get when it is available. On this occasion he chose the cookies and cream flavor.
We sat and ate and when I thought about it, hanging around in Islands of Adventure in the rain did not make sense when the shows that we wanted to see on the Universal side of the park were covered, so we decided to head over there after lunch. In the meantime the players of the Grinch who Stole Christmas came into Circus McGurkus to read the story in an open area of the restaurant. Jordan was able to get a spot on the floor right up front, so we waited until after the reading to head over to the Universal side.
We had the opportunity to see Fear Factor Live, Animal Planet Live, the Horror Make-up Show and Jordan rode on MIB a couple of more times.
While watching Fear Factor Live I was just amazed at the things that people will do! While I can understand getting into the stunt of the live show as they were pretty cool and looked pretty thrilling, and I could even understand taking the chance at the Fear Factor wheel and having live scorpions put on your head, if you are the “daring” sort… I cannot fathom why in the world anyone in their right mind would drink a Fear Factor “shake” when they know that they will get nothing but the taste of the shake our of it?!?! Ugh! Gross! & Ewwww!!!
The shake was made up of spoiled seafood and the juices of it, meat by products, spoiled milk, bugs and more that seemed more like a recipe for the hospital emergency room than anything else… all blended into what looked like a super thick strawberry shake (yeah, just keep telling yourself that if you decide to try this nasty beverage, and I use the term beverage extremely loosely!). FOUR, yes, FOUR people actually drank that stench! In return for their amazing show of stomach strength they received moist novelettes in a white bag that I can only imagine doubles as a barf bag… Although I am not positive, I do not think anything else was in the bag… I am guessing that they give these out in case someone was to get sick to cut down on calls to maintenance.. I would suggest that they consider adding a personal bottle of mouthwash to each of the bags so that those sitting nearby do not have to smell that “beverage” on the breaths of the daredevil drinkers!
Animal Planet Live was cool. If you have ever seen it on TV, you will have an idea of what types of things you may get to see… and either way you are in for a treat. The array of animals included birds, dogs, a chimp, a monkey and some exotic animals… I won’t spoil it for you! haha! The show was nicely done and had a fair amount of audience participation for both children and adults.
In my opinion the Horror Make-up show was not serious enough to be as good as it could have been. There was a special guest from NBC, a make-up special effects artist who had been born into the business as both parents had done the same type of work. He (cannot recall his name) went to school and later apprenticed in order to learn the trade. If this part of the show was genuine and not scripted, then I think that these two guys were just having a good time in front of an audience. They certainly seemed to be having a blast hamming it up in front of a crowd. Some of the show was interesting and we did learn some special effects tricks, however I personally could have used some scare.
Next we headed back over to Islands of Adventure to catch the final The Grinch Who Stole Christmas show of the day and the Whoville tree lighting. We arrived early enough to get front row spots. Jordan popped in and out of some local gift shops and got his picture taken with the Grinch, and Joe then wandered around a bit while I held our spaces in front of the stage.
The show was FANTABULOUS! Waiting for a front and center viewing spot was definitely well worth it! While waiting in front of the super tall crooked tree, I had the opportunity to meet the mother and daughter of the woman playing little Betty Lou Who.
We would rate this show a must see!! If you have the opportunity to see this show in the future, you will not be disappointed… The acting and costuming was just awesome! After the show while the cast were clowning around in character, one of the Who’s stole my key to my scooter and then turned around presenting it to me as his Christmas gift from him to me… hahaha!! The Grinch was just full of personality and was really hamming it up in the Grinchiest way possible… It was so much fun.
We did not get to see the Sinbad show due to the weather and show scheduled times. We also did not get a chance to see the new version of Jaws as it was not scheduled to open for a couple of more days. Even though we have 2 days left on our Universal passes that will expire, we have 10 day passes for Disney that we cannot wait to break in, so it is unlikely that we will come back for a visit on this trip.
We hung around City Walk for just a bit. We stopped at Cinnabon for a snack and for a Jordan photo op on the surfboard/wave set up in front of the shop. The night air was pleasant and we sat outside enjoying our snack and the night.
After walking around for a bit we returned to our villa and decided to order in for dinner as no one felt like cooking, and it is after all vacation! We ordered a family fried chicken meal, which came with chicken, French fries, cole slaw and biscuits. If we go that route again we will opt for the chicken only, which was very good.
Jordan retired to his room with the cell phone where he spoke with my Dad as Joe stuck it out with me in our room watching the Survivor finale with the window open, listening to the fountain…
Re: Sheraton Vistana Resort Review - Part 7 EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Rainforest Café and MVMCP
Part VII - EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Rainforest Café and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
<u>Monday, December 12</u>
We are going to DISNEY!!! Woo hoo!!!!
We decided to start off our Disney World part of our trip at EPCOT.
The very first thing that we did when we arrived at EPCOT was to stop at the Camera Shop by Spaceship Earth so that I could purchase the Happiest Celebration on Earth PAL Mickey in the tux. While I already had the older version of PAL Mickey, I did not want to miss out on any of the new stuff so I decided that I was going to purchase the new one. During the trip Jordan carried the older version and I carried the newer version. Truth be told, the older one had just as much to say and said it first almost all of the time. Also the parade times and park hours were off, so Mickey was not a very informed tour guide in that respect, in any of the parks during our entire trip. My opinion, after carrying 2 PAL Mickeys through the park for 9 full days is that unless having the new Mickey in the tux is important to you and you have the older version, that the older version is all that you need.
We also checked at 5 different shops in EPCOT and virtually every pin shop in the World and Downtown Disney in an attempt to find the interactive medallion, with no luck. From the conflicting information that we received and put together it seems that the medallion was most likely discontinued as it did not work properly.
Our next stop was Spaceship Earth. We missed Spaceship Earth on our last trip and Joe had never been on it, and boy did he LOVE it!! Jordan enjoyed it much more than he did the last time he was on it as well… He has become quite interested in history and these types of rides were a big hit on this trip.
Next we wandered over to Innovations where we ran into the most “blah” cast member any of us have ever seen. We opted to see the house of the future… mistake and waste of time… The cast member obviously did not want to be there… did not know what she was doing… gave inaccurate information, repeated some things and skipped over others. It could have been better, even though it was not that impressive in itself, with the exception of the hot tub with plasma TV, and Hummer at the end… I even tried to make a joke to get things in a better mood and she looked at me with a blank stare like I was a window in front of a brick wall. Oh well… It can’t all be magical!
Jordan and Joe really enjoyed playing Hot Shot Business, a virtual money game that is projected onto the floor, where you are an entrepreneur. They played the game with another boy who had no one to play with… and they just went at it!
It was too nice of a day to spend a big chunk of it in Innovations, although there are enough things to do to hang out in there practically all day, so we decided to head over to some rides. Jordan wanted to do Test Track, so off we went… While he was in test track I picked up some fast passes so that he could go on again. The fast passes were pretty far out, but Jordan was in the single riders lane which did not have a terribly long wait so he went on it a couple of times in a row while Joe and I went on the virtual ride inside and browsed around at the vehicles and gift shop.
Following Test Track we wandered over to the World Showcase where we visited and did quite a bit including having lunch at the Rose & Crown in the UK. We had a nice seat overlooking the water on this bright and sunny day, which really added to the meal. I ordered the table a fruit and cheese platter to start which we all really enjoyed. There were 3 or 4 different types of cheese, crackers, grapes and cinnamon pecans. Jordan ordered a diet coke and fish and chips, which he was very pleased with. Joe surprised me by trying something really different for him and going with the Guinness stew, a beef stew made with Guinness beer with a thick swirl of mashed potatoes in the center and a cheddar cheese cracker on the side, along with a diet coke. He enjoyed the stew so much that he wanted to go back again on another day if the opportunity arose. I ordered a Welsh Dragon, a yummy drink, and a Ploughmans Salad, sliced turkey and ham over mixed greens served with English cheeses, marinated vegetables, boiled egg, with Stilton cheese dressing, which was also good.
We headed over to Canada to watch the 360 degree movie, which was very cool. Joe has a great interest in Canada and would actually consider moving there, to which I say… TOO COLD! I wanna move to Florida! haha! While we were in Canada I ordered a Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup, made with smoked bacon and Moosehead beer, to go from Le Cellier. All of the stories that I heard from feels Passporters and All Ears members are true. This is one heck of a soup and I had to hang onto it as Joe liked it so much that he could have ate it all!!
We continued through the rest of the World Showcase over to the Land Pavilion so that Jordan could ride Soarin’, as we were now in our fast pass window. We were actually all going to ride it, but we had an “experience” with an impatient cast member so Joe and I exited the ride and I told Jordan to please enjoy himself and that we would be waiting outside. We would have gone over to the Land ride, but the wait for that was long and the fast pass machines were closed. The entire building was just crawling with people, but we have found that the Land is generally pretty busy anyway and attributed the extra traffic with the new ride, Soarin’, which EVERYONE was talking about.
Before we left the Land Pavillion we stopped at the Garden Grill to make dinner reservations. The first available night was Wednesday, which was just a couple days away, and we took it. I am not a big fan of reservations as I like to have flexibility in my schedule however there are some places that it would be rarely possible to have a walk in dinner, and this is one of them.
Our next stop was to wait in line for the Candlelight Processional. We did not get there early enough to get in for the first showing, so we waiting for the second and ended up getting seats pretty close to the front, right behind the reserved seating area. The entire processional was lovely. Eartha Kitt was doing the reading on this night and she made her entrance with a very loud cat purr/meow/growl. In case you are not familiar with Eartha Kitt, one well known part of her career was her role as Cat Woman in Batman in 1967.
Another big hit in EPCOT with Jordan was the realistic show that is put on in America, which is conveniently located just behind the Candlelight Processional. The way that the life sized figures moved and interactive was unbelievable. Jordan sat front and center and was blown away by all of the details that made this presentation so incredibly lifelike.
We topped of our night with Illuminations, which Jordan found wayyyy toooo sllllooowwww moving for a fireworks presentation. I was completely shocked that he did not enjoy it that much.
We certainly had a lot to talk about as we headed home for a late night light dinner at our villa.
<u>Tuesday, December 13</u>
Tonight we have tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!!!! Woo hoo!!!!
We decided to start our day off at Animal Kingdom, which closes at 5pm, and then head over to Magic Kingdom for our first Christmas party at Disney World.
Our very first stop, after a quick restroom pit stop, was Camp Minnie/Mickey for the Festival of the Lion King. We all love this show, it is just so much fun! Jordan missed the show last time around as he and my father slept in. He was complaining that the show could not possibly be as good as Joe and I had worked it up to be and he was afraid that he would be disappointed, but he was not… The roll in stage, the acrobatics, the music, the singing, the fire dancer, the characters…. How could anyone not enjoy this show?
We then headed over to Tarzan Rocks to see the performance for the first and last time as we learned that this show was being discontinued and a new show brought in. Had we realized how much of the stage that the show used, we would not have opted to sit in the front row… It was pretty difficult to watch much of the show, which I recorded most of it to the best of my ability, because the show was going on behind us… It isn’t the greatest, but it is on tape.
We stopped off for a snack and found out that Animal Kingdom sells refillable mugs that can be refilled in the park for 99 cents. This is a deal if you drink a lot of soda in the parks, so I purchased two of them, one for Jordan and one for Joe and I to share. Jordan also opted to get this huge rice crispy treat.
Jordan and I went on the African Safari, which is always a lot of fun… It was a pretty cool day and I think that the cool temperatures brought out a lot of animals as there were tons and tone of animals out on the Safari and they were unusually active, I thought. There was a zebra so close that we could almost have touched it. I snapped a picture of it, but had to take it looking up and it has a funny sun glare effect.
We later ended up at the Rainforest Café for a late lunch. The ambience was wonderful… The sites and sounds of the rainforest was pretty cool. Every so often a thunderstorm would start up and the animated animals would go nuts. lol!
The food, however, was just OK. I may be a bit pickier than the usual diner when it comes to seafood, having grown up on the outskirts of the Cape, but I would swear that the clam chowder came out of a can… and would expect a lot better for the price. Certainly it is possible to acquire fresh seafood in Florida! It may sound snobbish, which I am not… Usually we dine out of our own kitchen and fancy meals are definitely a treat and a splurge…
Anyway… blah! blah! blah! Right? lol!
For dinner Jordan had a blue Icee that that came in a cool character cup with a “secret” compartment on the bottom with a toy in it and a Flying Dragon Pepperoni Pizza. Joe had a diet Coke, a cup of clam chowder and a Volcanic Cobb Salad. I had a Green Python drink, a cup of clam chowder and the Monsoon Grill Flounder which was a mix of “fresh” stuffed flounder, Cyclone crab cake and coconut shrimp. I understand that the non seafood items were tasty, and we did have a good time…
Before we left Animal Kingdom we had a great time enjoying the Jammin’ Jingle Jungle Parade. I just love the upbeat music and all of the animals… It is a pretty cool parade.
It was getting cooler and cooler as the day wore on, thankfully we dressed in layers, bringing along a couple of sweatshirts/sweaters each so that we would not be cold. I also had brought a pair of gloves with me so that my fingers would not be cold while taping the night parades and shows. It was a good thing too as I believe it turned out to be the coldest night of our entire stay. On the bright side, it was nice and dry!
While we were walking into the Magic Kingdom, those who were at the park during the day that did not have party tickets were being ushered out. It was pretty chaotic and I am not convinced that everyone who was there had tickets… The park was way more crowded than I ever would have thought it would have been for this special ticketed event.
It was so crowded that when we went to get our hot chocolate and cookies early in the evening the lines were more like one big mob… and the way that they had it set up it would be impossible for someone like me in an ECV (electric scooter) to wait in line as there would be no way out. As one got closer to the front of the line there were bars to make the lines straight with no place to turn around. There did not seem to be a wheelchair accessible line, so Jordan and Joe got into the line and I hung around outside after I carefully worked my way out of the mob. We probably would not have bothered, but it was getting pretty cold outside and there were lines at all of the places that sold hot drinks, so we figured we may as well get the one that came with the ticket.
I wasn’t sure where we went to get the pictures that were included in the ticket price. I asked a cast member who also did not seem to know, so I mistakenly assumed that the free pictures were the ones with Santa Claus, so we waited in line for quite a while for our photo op.
Following the picture we headed over to Tomorrow Land so that Jordan could go on some rides. On our way into Tomorrow Land we ran into a couple of people with signs for our free pictures… Found ‘em! Lol! So we went in and had ours taken. Although these lines were pretty long, there were lots of stations set up so it only took about 15 minutes to get through them.
We expected the wait times to be low, but there were ride waits for up to 90 minutes and there were no fast passes. Jordan picked a few rides to go on, like Space Mountain, and then we headed over to see ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Disney style. It was pretty cute.
Following the show we walked back up by the castle planning to take in the first parade and although it was not scheduled to start for a while yet, there was absolutely no place to view it clearly, so we headed off to do some more rides with plans to get a parade spot early for the next showing.
Jordan was on a ride when Christmas Wishes started and we totally missed the whole thing… We would not have been able to work our way over to a good viewing area from where we were anyway, as we looked and the people from the first parade were spread out over the entire exit/entrance area, so we chalked it up to not being a big deal… There wasn’t anything we could do about it and we were not going to let it ruin our night.
Following Wishes we were told that a lot of people clear out and as cold as it was we thought that would happen, but as we were setting up for a good parade spot, we found that was not the case. It seemed like the people who were in the back row for the first parade moved up to see the second one, as the streets were still lined and crowded and it took a long time before we could make our way through the crowds and find a spot… Finally we spotted an opening and hustled over there… It wasn’t until I pulled out my camera and looked around at our surroundings that I noticed that we landed a perfect spot directly in front of the castle so that the castle would be our parade backdrop. That was definitely magical… I just love to watch the castle change colors at night as it just looks so beautiful.
The parade was great. We all loved it! I captured the entire thing on film, however I need to play around with my camera more as I had never filmed anything like this at night and think that it would have come out better if I had known how to adjust the settings properly, but I am not complaining… It was a beautiful parade!
Right after the parade we headed over to the front of the castle stage for the Celebrate the Season show. It seemed like a good show, but being in an ECV and behind what could have possibly been the tallest person in the park, I had a limited view.
It was just about midnight at the conclusion of the show so we left, thinking that we could beat the lines going to the monorail, but that was not so. I think that a lot of people were tired of the crowds as they were pushing ahead of people and those with carriages or in ECVs/wheelchairs were being pushed aside.
All in all I like the idea of the Christmas Party, but we were sold on it being a light crowd and with the thought that we could do everything that we wanted, which was not possible. I would consider doing it again, but it would have to be on one of the first days to see if the crowds were any lighter. We also hope that Disney comes up with a better way to empty out the park before the party as I continue to feel that there were a lot of party crashers at our party.
Another great update [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/zwavin.gif[/img] Sorry MVMCP was busy that night. It was a discount night for AP holders. We went on the Thursday instead, because I was afraid the Tuesday might be crowded, and it was quite empty on Thursday (but of course, it also rained)!
Glad you made the best of it anyway [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/zwavin.gif[/img]