As I indicated earlier, we had a long-planned trip to Disney World in Orlando this fall that has now come and passed. We spent a Saturday at the Magic Kingdom and Sunday at Epcot, then a stop at Disney Springs on Monday. So it wasn’t a long visit, and I certainly didn’t get to eat everything AJ recommends, but I did the best I could.As you can tell from the castle, the Magic Kingdom was in full-blown Christmas mode.
Our flight into Orlando was overly exciting as we were fully caught up in the panicked evacuation that occurred recently due to an exploding camera battery in the security area. It happened just as we were heading to baggage claim and it was a ridiculous, disorganized mess of mass hysteria starting with a wave of running, yelling people heading towards us. I can’t say it made an enjoyable start to our family vacation, but at least it was a (mostly) false alarm and no one seemed to be hurt.
We stayed at the Pop Century Resort, which wasn’t my first choice, but was fine for a couple of days where we basically spent no time in our tiny room. It did have a fridge, which was good for storing all the baked goods I had brought for my parents.
Thanks to the excitement at the airport it was late when we checked in, so we ended up eating at the hotel’s restaurant, Everything Pop, where we actually ate a number of times. No photos from that one, but it wasn’t bad. I opted for pot roast…yes, pot roast. With mashed potatoes and I think carrots with onions, they were out of many side dishes. The pot roast was actually quite good, it all was, except for the beef gravy. Maybe it’s just been too long since I had beef gravy, but it was a little overwhelmingly strong and salty. Overall, most things we had there were good, the portions decent, and the prices quite fair. My wife had almost the same meal, but with chicken gravy and turkey. Also decent. We did get refillable resort mugs you’ll see in a later photo. I think we managed to use them plenty to make up the cost considering that a bottle of soda there was around $3. We also grabbed some baked sweets to bring back to the room, which were tasty.
I guess I should have snapped a picture of breakfast, given that I ate the same thing three days straight, but I never did…chocolate chip pancakes that come with bacon, a sausage patty, and warm strawberries. No, I don’t crave variety when it comes to breakfast and, well…I love chocolate chip pancakes. It’s OK, I actually lost several pounds during our trip thanks to all the walking 🙂
As our lunch reservation was a little later than I’d normally eat, we needed a snack and I did suggest we chase down one of AJ’s suggestions at the Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland. I got the citrus swirl and my wife got the citrus swirl orange float. The swirl, vanilla soft swirl twisted with orange slush (frozen OJ), was tasty, although maybe edging on the too tart side for me. My wife loved the float, the same over orange soda, she’s more the orange juice drinker, so the tartness was more in line with her tastes. Here’s my swirl:
Our lunch was a booked character meal at the Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh and friends. The location was nice and we managed to avoid an afternoon downpour while inside. The kids got a kick out of meeting Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet and my wife got to pose with her favorite (Eeyore). The food, an “all you care to enjoy” buffet, was mostly pedestrian, but there was a fantastic clam chowder, which was sort of surprising. I had two bowls. There were a number of salads, vegetables, carving stations…this and that. The dedicated children’s choices included decent chicken nuggets (well…no one said they were just for children 😉 ). Desserts, though, were interesting and tasty, including these:
These were my wife’s choices, but I did try the caramel apple tart and smores bite (OK, so I had like 4 of those) – a graham shell, chocolate mousse and toasted marshmallow top. The adorable bee on the honey bite earned the photo. Chocolate and vanilla (and swirl) soft serve was tasty and naturally a favorite of the kids. Unlike our meal the next day, the cost/benefit was a little too swayed to the cost side.
We went back to the hotel for a rest before braving the crowds for the fireworks/projection show and decided to just get something for dinner there again. We just got a monster slice of pepperoni pizza and the same of cheese, each coming with a side of salad. It was quite ok and each “monster slice” was easily cut into 2 normal sized slices. After a big lunch it was more than adequate.
We (without the rest of our party) headed back and took a spin on the Haunted Mansion before finding a spot for the fireworks and projection show on the castle, which was entertaining. What wasn’t entertaining was the massive crush of humanity trying to get out afterwards. I cannot grasp the thinking that leads them not to organize this better, it would be so simple to divide Main Street into one way in each direction so you don’t have people both coming in for the later show and trying to get out, including masses of strollers, double-wide strollers, and scooters. Craziness. Ridiculous craziness. The only reason I can think of, and it’s a terrible one, is that by letting this mad crush continue is to keep people from lining up for the on-site transport and having to wait a long time. That has to be preferable to letting people elbow and crush their way out of the park. Finally back at the hotel I couldn’t resist a Mickey cookies and cream ice cream bar before bed.
Sunday was Epcot and the penultimate day of the Food and Wine Festival.
The welcoming topiary was fantastic. Mickey working an ear of corn and more on the grill in a top hat? Heck, yeah. I only wish I got a better picture. Thanks, again, to the Disney Food Blog, I had come up with a list of items to try, not that I expected to come close to getting all of them in my belly. Their coverage is here, including links to pictures of all of the festival food described below (much better than I could do).
We arrived at just the right time, exactly as the park was opening, and headed straight onto Spaceship Earth. After that everyone else had some other Fast Passes while my wife and I headed for the world showcase after a wander through the main shop to scope out purchases for later. We headed left and should have taken a hint when the festival food booths weren’t open. We got to Norway before finding out that, for some bizarre reason, the rest of the world showcase didn’t open for almost another hour. With a 40 minute wait for the Frozen ride, we decided to get on line for that, as good as standing around elsewhere. Unfortunately, just about as we got close to our turn the ride broke down and finally they began announcing that there was no estimate on when it would be fixed. We gave up and got outside right as the other countries were opened. Good choice as it ended up being a couple of hours before it was back running.
With our lunch reservation not until after 1:30 it was snack time and my #1 target was consumed, the Beijing Roasted Duck Bao Bun with Hoisin Sauce. Walking there some dopey guy was overheard complaining it wasn’t duck. Maybe he got the chicken one or was just an idiot, because it was certainly duck, which I get all the time at Celadon Thai. And it was pretty darn tasty.
My wife had her turn at the next stop in Germany with Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce. Also quite good. The strudel was also filled with raisins. The sauce tasted a lot like melted vanilla ice cream. It was a nice treat. I sort of wanted the gingerbread heart, but didn’t want to carry it around all day and passed.
A bit later we headed to The Land to meet the rest of our party and our reservation for Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast at the Garden Grill. In addition to the stars, you get a visit from Pluto and Farmer Mickey in the s-l-o-w-l-y revolving restaurant. We actually got in early this time as it wasn’t super busy. In fact, it was so quiet we saw everyone except Pluto twice…which means I got my picture taken with my all time favorite, Dale, twice 🙂
The food though! WOW! The food was AMAZING! No joke. I ate and ate and ate. The harvest feast is just that. It’s served family style, which worked out really well. Basically they bring a huge serving of everything for four (our party was 6 adults and 2 kids, so we got two of everything) and a waiter brings drinks and refills while the characters circulate (you can get more of anything that runs out, but that wasn’t a problem). First up were huge salads that had a rather zingy dressing on them. No photos, sorry. Tasty enough, but bring on the main course. One plate I guess was the ‘kids’ choices…? French fries and macaroni and cheese that had, oddly, goldfish crackers in it 🙂 The fries were nicely crisp so I couldn’t help munching on some of them.The other tray was glorious. And mostly already devoured in the photo below. I’m not ashamed to admit that a lot of the damage was done by me.
- turkey and gravy
- bacon and leek stuffing (upon request, the server brought a plateful prepared without bacon, presumably this is a common request for vegetarians)
- mashed potatoes
- cranberry sauce
- mixed veggies
- two good-sized Italian sausages with peppers & onions (yeah, I ate both of them)
- pot roast
Oh man. That pot roast. So good. Melt in the mouth tender. I’ve got a crock pot but never make pot roast, probably because I’d have to eat it all myself, but this was so good I think I might just have to make some. *insert Homer drooling noise*
This was all followed up by a plate of cookies and a huge family portion of short cake with fruit and vanilla whipped cream. Yes, I had a hefty portion of that, too. I was FULL after all that, believe me. None of this was a bargain, the 6 adults and 2 kids, with included 18% gratuity, came to a touch over $400. That’s a bit of an eye popper for a family style lunch, but I don’t think it was crazy for Disney, especially since so many other meals were so unexpectedly reasonably priced. It was a worthwhile splurge in my estimation, but a splurge nonetheless.
Then it was time to head to Soarin’ for our Fast Passes. After that it was back to the world showcase, although not time for more food quite yet. There were a few lamb dishes calling my name, but I just couldn’t face them. The Belgian waffles were also drawing us, but there was no stomach space for them. In the early evening I found room for the Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour DOLE® Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise from Hawaii. It was quite good, but not amazing. And just before the fireworks we tried to get Bougatsa (Warm Phyllo Dough Strudel with Sweet Vanilla Custard, Lemon Honey Syrup and Cinnamon) from Greece, but they were out. I still wanted a nibble so I got the Loaded Greek “Nachos”: Pita Chips, Meatless Sausage Crumbles, and Vegan Tzatziki. They were pretty decent, actually. There were quite a lot of other toppings as well. The fireworks (and beyond) show, IllumiNations, was fun. We had a pretty good spot just beyond the topiary and were able to then head straight out of the park…much better than the previous night, that’s for sure.
Monday at Disney Springs I got a sandwich for lunch at the Earl of Sandwich, which didn’t even come close to living up to what I’ve heard about the chain. Way overpriced and boring. The LEGO store is surrounded by a bunch of fantastic creations:
And that’s about the end of it except for some snacks I brought back. Our flight back after a visit with my parents was, happily, much less eventful than our arrival (following a stop at the airport Chick-fil-a). We had this glorious view coming into Albany:
The snacks I brought back were of varying quality. This cookie from Disney Springs was so-so at best.
This WAS well worth it’s price (~$7). Flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, and such and also containing pieces of gingerbread cookies, it’s a fun treat. Even after a week it was nice and fresh tasting. Not a lot of unpopped bits, either. As a big gingerbread fan, this hit the spot.
Thanks for taking this quick gastronomical tour of Disney World with me.