10 December 2009

Back in the real world...

Great Googly Moogly! Has it really been that long since I have put pen to paper, uh, skip that, updated my blog??? Yikes. So much for habits.
Well, here I am back in the real world, still finding it feels familiar and unfamiliar simultaneously. We returned from a week at the House of the Mouse, aka Walt Disney World, a week ago tomorrow, and I no longer need a daily nap. This is, I assume a good sign. I have had a nice, easy, week, so I am thankful for the chance to recuperate. Being that this was my first trip EVER to Disney, I am still slightly amazed and awed at everything I saw and ate and experienced. It is like a dream come to life, especially for a girl who grew up on reruns of THE Mickey Mouse Club, watched the Wonderful World of Disney every week, and pored over Disney's Wonderful World of Knowledge encyclopedias. I also spent an inordinate amount of time singing songs from my Official Disney Songbook. I could spell Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious without issue. I was a Disney kind of kid. I am not sure why my family never went to Disney. I guess we weren't very "travelly" when I was growing up. I have tried to do things with my kids. Give them memories and experiences...I imagine my daughter will one day take a trip back to WDW without me and remember our first trip. We had a BLAST. No really. We actually did. You feel a bit like royalty. They bring out all the great characters. Just for you. They throw parades in your honor. Fireworks every night. They feed you like calories don't count. You get to TOUCH the castle. How cool is that? Now, I know that I really didn't go on a European tour, but after two days at Epcot, I do feel that I got a little taste of that glamorous destination. Not only are the buildings beautiful and the shops filled with regional items and gifts, but the Cast Members in each place are actually from the countries they are working in. One particularly lovely little restaurant called The Rose and Crown had the coolest wait staff EVER according to my kids. British. Every one of them. For kids raised on Fawlty Towers, Top Gear and Doctor Who, this is as good as they have had it. I could only have made them happier if I got behind the scenes filming passes for the new Harry Potter movie. In England and Scotland. At real castles. One day, I will take them to England and let them mingle to their little Anglophile hearts' desire. But for now, Disney has made them happy. The CM's in Norway were actually from Norway. The CM's in France were actually from France. It was a great learning experience, and really between the employees and the guests from ALL OVER THE WORLD, you really felt Walt Disney's dream come alive, "...the things we have in common far outnumber and outweigh those that divide us." I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT. I want to go back. Now, for all the silly lists!
Favorite Rides at Magic Kingdom:
1. Haunted Mansion- I loved so many rides, it was hard to pick a number 1, but this one I really felt a tug at my heart when I knew it was my last time. I loved it all, from the GREAT CM's who direct you into the front parlor, the creepy hall full of doors that knock on themselves, breathe, etc. The hallway with the floating candelabra, the dining room full of spectral partygoers and dancers, the special effects are completely amazing and if you suspend disbelief just for a few minutes, you will have a super spooky time!
2. It's a Small World- OK, I know this is goofy, but I just LOVED actually going on this ride. I had heard about it since I was a youngster, had sung the song over and over again as that same youngster, and had so wanted to see those little children from the world over. I adored the tiger with the parasol, the little French dancers, Oh, I just LOVED it all. Even if it was a little long. I never noticed. The 14 year old did notice the second time when his MP3 player had given out and he couldn't drown out the song with Muse or Breaking Benjamin. However, he did survive, and actually enjoyed it!
3. Dumbo- This was the first ride we got on at any Disney park, we made a beeline for it as soon as we walked through the castle, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. It was also, hilariously fun. Especially if you let someone else control the rise and fall. Just don't let a teenager do it if you have eaten recently. I'm just sayin...
4. Pirates of the Caribbean- the Hollywood Version- I so totally thought that Johnny Depp had actually snuck into the ride for our trip through this pirate adventure. The animatronics are THAT good. I say Hollywood version, because you will recognize a few characters from the movies, but since I never saw the previous version, I was perfectly happy with it as it was. Pay close attention during the ships battle scene. Again, if you allow yourself to relax and sink into the illusion, you will feel like you are right in the middle of the action! Totally COOL.
5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad- Wild and woolly, and the longest we waited in line to ride any ride in any of the parks. It was worth it! I wish we would have ridden it again on another day, but alas, we ran out of time. Or energy. Or both...

Best Places to Eat
1. Rose and Crown Pub- Try the Surf and Turf. It is smashing. The mini Yorkshire Pudding has made me want to make my own, I am still searching for recipes! The Toffee Cake as as rich and buttery as you would hope, and the atmosphere was completely gorgeous. The CM's were sweet and friendly and I actually left wishing I had taken pics with them! The evening we ate there we had an 8:30 reservation, got an outside table and had prime viewing spots for Illuminations. I could never accurately explain to anyone how AWESOME this whole experience was. Fine Food, Friendly Folks and Fantastic Fireworks. ahhhhhh.......highly recommended. Did I mention how much I highly recommend this?
2. San Angel Inn- This is a fantastic place for lunch or dinner. The scenery inside the restaurant is what sets it apart from any other, you feel like you are sitting at the foot of an ancient temple, with a smoldering volcano in the distance throwing off smoke and ash. The lighting is very low, but absolutely a beautiful place to spend an hour of your Disney time. The Mahi Mahi was terrific, and the Chicken Enchiladas Verdes was divine. The portions, like the ones everywhere in Disney are suitable for two lighter eaters, it is difficult to take leftovers with you, so plan accordingly!
3. Yak and Yeti- We ate at two different places in Animal Kingdom, YnY and Tusker House. The Yak and Yeti was by far the superior of the two, though they both had interesting decor, Tusker House was a buffet, the food was much less interesting and flavorful, and it was more of a depot type decor. Though, I found it charming, I found the food flat and uninteresting, but Yak and Yeti had very tasty fare, had a more upscale look to it, and was just generally more pleasant. I am sure it doesn't need to be noted that sometimes a more "authentic" environment can be interesting, it would have been nice if the food had at least been palatable. The best thing on the buffet was a tiny little strawberry mousse tart in a chocolate shell. And, lest you think that should signal that the food was exotic, it was mostly hummus (passable), breads (nothing I can't find at Kroger) cold couscous salads (kind of ick) a kids area with mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy and pb and j (wha?) and two kinds of sliced meat. I don't know. Maybe it had just been a long day, but I really expected more based on the description of the menu. If you can only eat at one, pick Yak and Yeti, walk through Tusker House, cause it really was cool inside, keeping the whole Safari theme going, and then spend about an hour walking through the park again before you brave that Expedition Everest again...
4- Everything Pop at Disney's Pop Century Resort- I have to mention this because we consistently got great food here throughout our trip. DO NOT MISS the Chicken Alfredo Pasta. It is busy, but runs pretty darn efficiently. The fruit actually had flavor, and don't forget to try the White Tea with Citrus and dog gone it, try one of the Frosted Crispy Treats from Minnie's Bake Shop. These packaged snacks put Rice Krispy Treats to SHAME. And I LOVE Rice Krispy Treats.
5. The Plaza- VERY lovely themed restaurant, very Art Nouveau feel, good food, spectacular ice cream desserts, and again, very large portions. MMMM!
We also ate at Casey's Corner Magic Kingdom (hot dogs don't agree with me), at the Backlot Express in Hollywood Studios (large portions of mediocre sandwich, but GREAT fries), and Tangierine Cafe in Morocco at Epcot (weird compressed meats, yummy hummus and bread, and really odd crunchy green stuff. Dessert was only Baklava, which I peeled apart to avoid the dreaded nuts, but which was good. Messy, but good. Anyway, I think that is pretty much enough info for tonight. I will continue tomorrow, I have the whole day off and will upload pics proving I was actually there!!! Thanks for looking in on me!


Run Lori Run said...

How funny, I just checked your blog a few minutes ago and you hadn't posted yet!

Isn't Disney fun?! I haven't been to Disney world, just disney land but it was so amazing. The attention to the food was surprising to me too.

Glad you had a great time!

Justine said...

Thanks for all the updates! I love the Haunted Mansion. I think it's neat the way the "doom buggy" turns so you face what they want to emphasize. :) The illusions hold up year after year and are still cool!

Haven't seen pirates since they added Capt. Jack Sparrow. Did see a clip on You Tube where Johnny Depp was in the ride and they stopped it so he could get out and look at his figure up close. He reaches out to touch the face and the figure turns around to look him in the eye! The battle scene has always been very cool with the cannon fire and the "near misses" to your ride boat.

Great planning to arrange your restaurant reservations in advance.