Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Disney Files Part 3

The dining account continues....

I recapped our first three days of dining here.

Day 4 was one of our favorite days of the vacation!  I almost skipped Animal Kingdom but thank THE LORD people talked me out of that!  Such an awesome park.  So many great shows, animals and probably rides, though we went on very few of them...

We started our day at Tusker House in Harambe Village.  It is an excellent breakfast buffet featuring Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Mickey in their safari garb.  We loved this character dining experience! The food was pretty amazing, as well.  More African fare, but also plenty of the basics.  The specialty juice was delightful, too!  Chloe found the cherry topping to be one of the best breakfast foods she's ever had the pleasure of eating.  I wish I could say that she ate the topping... ATOP something, but...nope. Hey, we were on vacation. And girlfriend needed some happy food! :)

Lunch was an African version of a corn dog, which was interesting.  It came with a black eyed pea, corn and tomato salad.  For dessert, an African milk tart. None of it rocked my world and you can imagine Chloe's opinion, since I made her share it with me.  We definitely wouldn't go back there, but Harambe Market was THE ONLY thing that we didn't absolutely love about Africa.  We literally spent an entire day in Africa.  We had to go back the next day to see the rest of the park!

For dinner that night, we met the Hubster (who had to work all day) at 'Ohana.  It's every bit as good as you've heard.  Seriously, so delicious!! It's an All You Care to Enjoy dinner and unfortunately, I didn't take the waitress seriously when she said to save room for dessert. I've never felt more sorrow at a restaurant than I felt when I could only eat three bites of that amazing bread pudding.  To die for! I think it was this night that I vowed that I was never eating again. So much delicious food.  You just have to choose to skip some of it so you don't feel like a failure come dessert...

Day 5 we were back at Animal Kingdom, first thing.  We opted to grab a fast breakfast at Starbucks and the Bacon Egg and Gouda on a ciabatta roll was surprisingly delicious.  Chloe had a smoothie and a delectable piece of lemon bread or something to that effect.  Whatever it was it was quite tasty.

We did a quick service lunch in Asia and it was again, just ok.  I got the Honey Chicken at the Yak and Yeti Quick Service and it wasn't anything to write home about, yet here I am writing about it... Figure that one out. I'm eternally kicking myself for not hitting Flame Tree Barbecue instead.  I'm not sure why that wasn't on my radar, but I've read nothing but amazing things about that place since I've been home!  Ahhh!!!  I will not make that mistake next time.

We had a much anticipated hot date at Hollywood Studios for dinner at the 50's Prime Time Diner.  It did NOT disappoint.  My only regret was not getting the fried chicken.  I opted to go for variety.  I was hoping that Chloe would love one of the three things that came on the sampler, so I had her order that.  Mercifully, the fried chicken was one of them, so we were both able to enjoy the best fried chicken I've ever had the pleasure of chewing.  It was THAT good.  I very much look forward to going back.  Oh my deliciousness. The other items were meatloaf and pot roast and those were not even noteworthy compared to the chicken.  I had the stuffed pork chop, which shocker, also paled in comparison to the chicken.  I'm not sure anything could have compared. I trust this will be one of the meals I remember for a good long time, and not because of our AWESOME waitress or the super fun kitsch. We once again failed our dessert, as in - couldn't take a single bite, so we brought it back with us.  After dragging it around Disney Springs for 2 hours, I'm not sure we got the full effect of what that Pineapple Upside Down cake could have been if not for being upside down, then right side up again and again and again.  Note to self! Skip the milk shake with dinner.  You knew it was a bad idea when you ordered it! This is the hardest thing for me with the dining plan.  You are entitled to all of this food, but unless you are some sort of Eating Olympian, you cannot possibly rise to the occasion.

Day 6 was our final day and while we were sad about that, we did not let it steal the magic!  Good thing we were feeling super positive and festive because it poured on us the majority of the day!  Not pleasant.  We still had a great time, though.  Come on, even sopping wet, we were at DISNEY WORLD!  Nothing could get us down!

We actually slept in on our last day and ate breakfast at our resort food court.  The make your own omelet was so good that I got another one before heading home the next day.  Chloe had a yogurt parfait the size of her head, which we subbed for my drink.  We shared 4 or 5 of our meals and that is one of the main reasons I really think we could do without the meal plan next time.  It was not at all what I had envisioned in my head. More on that in a future post.

For lunch we ended up at Cosmic Rays, mainly because Chloe was desperate for something simple like a hamburger.  I tried to talk her into a hot dog at Casey's Corner, but she wasn't having it.  I had my doubts about a burger at the Magic Kingdom, but I must say, I was pleasantly surprised.  The toppings bar really confirmed my decision to split the burger.  With the fries (that were super yummy) and the green beans that I got in place of dessert, much to Chloe's dismay, it was plenty of food for the two of us.

We went big for our final dinner and ate at Cinderella's Royal Table.  This was two credits each, which was made possible by Frank eating out with his boss one night.  The overall experience at the castle was phenomenal!  I was a little surprised that there wasn't fast pass photographers at the character meal, so I'm not sure if that is normal or what, but my battery was almost dead and I was sweating thinking that I might not get pics of all of the princesses with my princess!  Somehow we managed, but that was really odd to me. The food, on the other hand, far exceeded my expectations! There wasn't a lot to choose from, but Chloe and I each got the filet and it was superb! A magical end to some incredible dining experiences!  I cannot WAIT to go back. :)

Next up I'll dish about the snacks and treats we enjoyed.  And the ones that we forgot to enjoy that are still haunting me 2 months later. I'm looking at you Nutella Waffle sandwich...

I know, let's go back RIGHT NOW!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Disney Files Part 2

Are you ready to hear about every single thing I ingested whilst at Disney?  I'm sure not, so I'll try to restrain myself.  I will share our experiences for the first few days in this post.  It's probably best to deliver my thoughts in bite sized chunks.  More palatable that way. Puns intended.  I'm sure there are more to come  :)

Once upon a time, we went to Chicago for a week.  Chloe and I crashed Frank's business trip, so our accommodations were covered and we still managed to go WAY over budget.  Food is expensive when you are on vacation, and I knew Disney would be at least as bad as Chicago, if not worse.  I didn't want any surprises, so in the spirit of go big or go home and we're probably never doing this again, I opted to purchase the Disney Dining Plan.  I had read many articles during my planning phase that said it isn't always the best value, but considering how much I love to eat, I figured we would easily get our monies worth.  I'm not sure that it panned out that way, but regardless, here's my play by play. Also, for the purposes of clarification: We were on the plan which allowed us (At first I typed -  afforded us, but then that made me laugh too hard to continue) one snack, one quick service meal, and one table service meal for each night we were there. When I don't mention breakfast, it's because we ate Clif bars in the room.  So... Yeah.  Nothing to see here.

As I mentioned in my last post, a huge portion of my planning energy went toward choosing restaurants, booking reservations, agonizing over my decisions, starring at menus again, changing reservations and then hoping I had made all of the right decisions.

One of the first things I did was ask my Facebook friends for their restaurant recommendations.  This was huge! Hearing from different people in varied seasons of life was beneicial. I knew I wanted to eat dinners at Sanaa, 50's Prime Time and  'Ohana.  Based on other things I had read online, I really wanted to eat lunch at Be Our Guest and dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table.

Day One - We arrived at our resort around 7:00 PM or so and opted to eat at our resort food court since we were, A. super hungry, and B.even more tired.  The Riverside Mill Food Court had many cafeteria style offerings and all of us opted for the pasta bar. It was far from the tastiest pasta I have ever eaten, but it was much better than what you would expect from a food court.  Overall, it worked for what we needed under the circumstances.

On Saturday (Day Two), we had planned to be in the parks all day, but the the Florida weather convinced us otherwise.  Fifty degrees and thirty mile per hour winds? Really, Florida?  Come on. We could have stayed in Michigan for that madness.

We ended up at Disney Springs and ate lunch there. It was underwhelming.  Due to some logistical errors, we had to split up for lunch lest anyone die of starvation. You know, the super first world version of starving to death. We are at Disney World but we can suck the magic right out of the happiest place on earth if our blood sugar dips ever so slightly.  In a not very shocking plot twist, no one absolutely loved what they had here, there and everywhere. But you know what they say.... Haters gonna hate especially when they be lunchin' late. To protect the (probably) innocent restaurants, I won't name any names. I'm sure it was us, not them. Honestly, I have to say I did enjoy my sweet potato tots from the Food Truck where I got my lunch. The buffalo chicken and waffles weren't all bad either.

Saturday evening we had a delightful meal at Sanaa.  Thankfully, I had read something about making sure to be there in the daylight, so despite the monkey wrench that it threw into my plans, I switched things around to make sure we could be there before sundown and I'm so glad that I did!!! Our table overlooked the savanna and there were zebra right outside our window while we were eating!  They could have served us Purina Dog Chow and it still would have been an awesome experience.  Luckily, they didn't. We started out with the Indian style bread service.  We went for it and ordered all nine sauces to dip the five different types of  of naan bread in, and we were impressed!  My entree wasn't the greatest, but again, this was probably me, not them.  Dessert totally made up for it.  Chloe was, shall we say, extremely disillusioned by the food but surprisingly Sanaa came through with an excellent burger and turned her frown upside down. Glory, hallelujah!  And the cookies and milk dessert was the literal icing on the,well, cookie.  The Hubster and I shared our desserts and they were divine.  Our awesome waiter recommended the kulfi, which was a super rich and delicious custard like ice cream.  I think it was strawberry.  I know for sure it was delectable. We also ordered the Tanzanian chocolate mousse and it was good, but paled in comparison to the kulfi. I expect most of the desserts would.

On Sunday (Day 3), we hit three of the four parks.  It was the only day that the Hubster could join us, so we had to make it count. We had lunch reservations at Be Our Guest (For a quick service credit! Such a phenomenal value and experience!), which was another highly anticipated meal and it completely delivered! Well, for two of the three of us, anyway.  Chloe, who is not usually that finicky, was NOT feelin' the food at Disney World.  Which was the only down side to our entire trip. She basically lived on ice cream and green beans. Chloe and I both had the braised pork and it was delicious!  The Hubster had the tuna nicoise salad and was equally impressed. We couldn't eat at the Beast's Castle without trying The Grey Stuff, which was indeed delicious, as promised. Spoiler alert:  It's the Oreos that make it both grey and delicious. What with Oreos bring one of my primary love languages, I was wishing I could have ordered a vat of it.

We did not have dinner reservations for this night, due to last minute juggling required to be at Sanaa before it got dark...  We went to Epcot knowing that we would be able to find something there. In my heart, I had known we would end up at the German buffet Biergarten, even though the Hubster never wanted to commit.  He is a huge fan of German food, so this surprised me, but we did, in fact, end up there, and I'm so glad we did. The food was just okay, for me, but the macaroni and cheese could go down in the record books for the most fattening (it was also delicious) thing I ate while I was there, which... considering I ate dessert sometimes as many as 4 times a day, that is really saying something!  Super yummy. The awesome part about our dinner was sitting with a family from England that was a true delight to get to know. Also, like most German restaurants, there was live entertainment!  Super fun. And let us not forget the hefeweizen. Yum.

I'd say that's enough food for thought for today, friends.  Next time, the rest of the story.  At least the rest of the food story.  I have a feeling this Disney Files series is far from over. Thanks for reading!!What is your favorite restaurant at Disney World?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Must Share... The Disney Files (Part 1)

After much planning and anticipation, we went to Disney in January.  I had myself convinced it would be a one time deal, so we went the go big or go home route and stayed on Disney property, did the dining plan and hopper passes.  The whole she-bang!  We had so much fun and I just can't bear the thought of not sharing every detail with you, so here we are with the first installment.

Part One - The Planning

I'm not gonna lie, the planning was exhausting.  I'm an over-thinker, so planning can be a real love/hate thing for me.  I'm pretty sure you could get a PhD in Disney planning, and since I didn't have one, my head was smoking at times. I read books, blogs and pinterest, polled the facebook audience, enlisted the help of a travel agent and probably spent as many hours planning as we spent in total on the actual vacation.  By the time we left for Florida, a huge part of me was excited for it to be over with so I could STOP THINKING ABOUT IT ALREADY, FOR THE LOVE OF MICKEY MOUSE.  Seriously.  It's a lot of planning.

I had been twice before, when I was 5 and 16ish, so I had no experience with the planning end of things.  The unknown factor always makes things more difficult, but my WORD.  Not having a grasp on things where researching a Disney vacation is concerned really puts you at a disadvantage.  Next time will be so much easier!

I began reading and researching about a year and a half before our trip.  Yes, you read that right.  We knew the Hubster would be down there for work at a certain time, so we had a lot of notice. We also had a baby and no plans for any fun vacations in the meantime, so I had a lot of time, energy and vacation anticipation to devote to this one!  I had been pinning things on a Pinterest board I had entitiled Someday.  It was so exciting when I could finally start reading those with an actual trip in mind!

The first choice that had to be made was where to stay. This was one of the easiest decisions for me and I'm very happy with how that turned out.  More details on that in a future post. I knew that I wanted to stay on property, because I had my heart set on using the Disney Dining plan and that's only an option for Disney Resort guests. Based on information from friends who had recently stayed in a value resort, recommendations from my agent, and the fact that a Deluxe resort was not within our budget,  we opted to stay at Port Orleans Riverside, a nice moderate choice. We loved it.  Again, more details to come.

The next most pressing item of business, since we were using the Dining plan, was restaurant reservations.  These can be made 180 days in advance.  In fact, it is strongly recommended to make them as soon as your window of opportunity opens up, especially for some of the more popular restaurants.  This is where I spent TONS of my time.  I'm a huge fan of food, so I really enjoyed this part of it.  Once my reservations were made, I took a big long break from thinking about Disney! Which was fine, since I still had 6 months before the trip!

The next time sensitive item on the to do list was fast pass reservations. I bought a book for my daughter and we read through that together to decide what we wanted to do at each of the parks.  This was our main source of information on the attractions, shows and all the parks had to offer. The reviews in the book were by kids for kids and that was good and bad.  In some ways, I felt it was a little misleading, but that is one more thing that you don't really know until you experience it for yourself. The day I was able to reserve our fast passes, If all of these things sound foreign, crazy or ridiculous to you, I know exactly how you're feeling.  There were so many things I didn't know about, understand or want to figure out!  I'm telling you, once you've been and have seen the importance of the different requirements, options, etc., it really all makes sense.  Unfortunately, your first time planning it, you have to go by other people's advice and experience and basically feel your way in the dark and go into it somewhat blind.  I was lucky to be there at a very slow time (late January) so I was able to move some things around once I had a better idea of things, but most people will not have that luxury.

What are your best Disney planning tips?  When are you going?  I would go back next month if I had a Disney Money Tree growing in the back yard!!!

Next up, Part 2 Disney Dining!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Greater Love Hath No Mom than to Watch Treasure Buddies with her Daughter

Have you seen that movie?  I do not recommend it.

She gave me a choice between Horton Hears a Who, Despicable Me, and Treasure Buddies.

I chose Despicable Me and she said, "Aw.... I thought you'd choose Treasure Buddies!"  (Really?!?!?!? It's like you don't even know me!) So, I say, "Is that the one you want to watch?" I already knew the answer... "Yeah..."

And that is how I came to spend 93 minutes cuddled up watching one of the dumber movies of all time tonight.  All in the name of love.  Where do I collect my Mother Of The Day Award?

And a looooong day it has been, too.  Someone must have found out there was a plot afoot to sleep in and at 6:15 AM decided he had had enough sleep.  I won't mention any names, but it was the one person who requires my assistance when conscious, so that basically crushed my dreams for the day. Sigh.

I still love ya, summer - but let's aim for 8 tomorrow, shall we?