Walt Disney World Trip Report: 4/29-5/8: Dapper Day – Around The World

Previously On Reenie’s Trip To Disney World

I got a little too drunk hanging out adjacent to The Magic Kingdom, but was ready to kick off my vacation

Welcome World Travelers

I had big plans that involved me having a protein bar and a coffee every morning before going into the parks, rather than overpaying for iced mochas and pastries. This didn’t work out. It is what I did THIS day, and despite my copious drinking the evening before, I was up in time to get on the Skyliner over to Epcot at 7:45 for the 8 AM early opening.

I LOVE this dress. It was very comfortable too.

I was planning on meeting up with my friend Maya today (We’ll get to that) but she’d let me know she wasn’t getting to the parks before 10. I instead took this time to just ride everything I wanted to. I hopped onto ‘Soarin, Spaceship Earth, Frozen and Ratatouille by 9, and then realized I was starving, so I went to get online at Les Halles, but the line was bananas so I went to a Joffrey’s cart and got a donut instead.

It was a good donut. I wandered around a bit, got my picture taken and then heard from Maya that she and her friends were in Connections Cafe (Epcot’s new Starbucks) I wasn’t too far from there so I made my way to them, and as it turned out, several other people I had met were with her! (I know all of these folks through my friend Irvin, who I doubt is reading this, but if he is, HI IRVIN!) Including Sara (who I actually DROVE to Irvin’s birthday party!) and some other people who I hadn’t met but clicked with right away.

This fabulous group made my weekend so much fun!

We mostly all walked around together, though we did get on Spaceship Earth again, (I will never ever complain about this) before people were getting ready for lunch. I had a reservation at the new La Creperie De Paris (back in the Ratatouille section) and they were heading to Le Cellier. So we parted ways.

Y’all? La Creperie is FAN FUCKING TASTIC. In addition to being deliciously made, they have a wonderful Prix Fix menu, which gets you a salad, a savory “gallette” and a desert crepe, plus a glass of hard cider for $33.

WONDERFUL. This was the first time, however, that the heat just got the absolute best of me. I quickly texted Maya and let her know that I was going to take a swim and a nap, and that I’d let her know when I was back in the park.

GOD I LOVE THE SKYLINER. I was back in my room, with an iced tea from the food court within 20 minutes of texting Maya. Chilling out and reading more of Written In The Stars, and even opening the bottle of rose I’d brought.

Around 3, I hopped back on the Skyliner and found the group in Italy, where they were taking pictures. They were all bounding as characters from The Princess And The Frog, so we were scouting for appropriate backgrounds, and also, it was still wayyy too hot to be outside for long. So we landed in the lobby of The American Adventure, watching The Voices Of Liberty wrap up their set. Sara still wasn’t happy with the setting, so several of them decided to head back to Port Orleans (where they were staying) take the pictures they wanted, cool down and come back for dinner.

While looking for my friends, I made a quick photo stop, because a big idea behind my outfit was Casablanca

Maya wanted to keep hanging out, as did her friend Mary, so the three of us headed to France, got some champagne and found a table in The UK under and umbrella and chatted. Maya had learned one of her cousins was also in the Park, and Mary and I both wanted to hit up La Cava Del Tequila so we quickly split up.

I was enchanted by my new friend, Mary, I can say that. We had a lot in common, and compared notes on various romance novels, TV shows, and Disney Parks stuff. We got a table at La Cava, ordered some margaritas and queso and just enjoyed the air conditioning and each other’s company.

After that, we were looking for somewhere to again just be out of the heat, and I mentioned heading to Weinkeller, the little wine shop in Germany. Mary, quickly asked, “WHAT?” And I excitedly pulled her over to it.

There was of course no line, because no one knows about this little spot, but it’s one of my favorites. She’d mentioned earlier that she liked Reisling and I grabbed a rose. (Still a little sweet for me, but Alpine wines always are). Dinner was in China, and the group was on their way back, so we walked over to China, shopped a little and then watched the movie.

Here’s the thing about that movie…I know it’s Walt Disney World and no one wants to be thinking about the uh…darkness, at that time, but a 15 minute propganda video for The CCP in the middle of a theme park feels…well, creepy. And that’s what this is. (There’s a scene where they describe Tienamen Square as the strength of modern China!) But, we were able to sit down and there was AC.

Eventually, after something of an Odyssey, the rest of the group made it to China for us to sit down and eat at Nine Dragons.

I’ve read every warning, and I was already latching onto the plans of others, so I didn’t want to be annoying about it. But seriously, unless you have no other options (and there usually are other options) DON’T EAT HERE. Our service was bad, the food is worse than Panda Express. The restaurant is lovely, so we decided if you want to experience the nice room, maybe order some dumplings and a cocktail and leave it at that.

Trying to recap my Epcot day, but it was a lot of wandering and it turns out I didn't take many pictures, but here we are!
I never think to take random pictures, but Sara insisted on this Roman Holiday pose and she was 100% correct

We got out of the restaurant right on time to watch Harmonius. Having already seen it, I was ready to enjoy myself, but I really really like this show. I think the music selections are excellent, the projections are creatively conceived and the fireworks are stunning.

Over dinner there’d been some talk of either getting drinks out on the Boardwalk or maybe even hopping over to Magic Kingdom.

Instead we all parted ways and headed out. Which was the right call, I had an early morning since I wanted to rope drop at Studios and ride Rise Of The Resistance. So I took another Skyliner ride, had what I would describe the next day as, “possibly the best shower of my life!” and curled up in bed, read a little and fell asleep.

This might be one of my favorite pictures of me ever taken. I had to post it

Next Time!

I fall in love with a ride, my greatest Disney Bounding/Dapper Day triumph, and I remember why I hate big meetups at stuff. (Spoiler Alert: It’s SOCIAL ANXIETY!)

104 New To Me Movies: The Gift (2000)

Stats

Title: The Gift
Release Year: 2000
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Written By: Billy Bob Thornton
Recommended By: Blank Check With Griffin And David
Star Rating: 4

Review

This movie is so dumb and I love it to pieces.

So, Cait Blanchette plays a small town psychic (BASED ON BILLY BOB’S MOM!) who gets a vision about town rich girl/uber slut Katie Holmes, who is engaged to Greg Kinnear, who is her kid’s teacher. She’s also counciling Giovanni Ribisi through childhood sexual abuse, and Hilary Swank, who is being violently abused by her husband, Keanu Reeves. Keanu and Katie are obviously sleeping together, come on.

Katie turns up murdered and Cait starts having terrifying visions about it. Turns out Katie was also fucking DA Gary Cole. But Sherriff JK Simmons and Cait are both reasonably sure Keanu did it.

Anyway, it’s very creepy and twisty in a deeply predictable way, but still fun. I really enjoyed myself.

What I Was Drinking

Mango Lassi. Because I got Indian takeout. YUM!

Walt Disney World Trip Report: 4/29 – 5/8: Welcome Home!

Hey Friends, I’m BACK!

I spent 9 days in Walt Disney World a few weeks back.

It was AMAZING.

I was EXHAUSTED and REFRESHED all at once. And, I am very very behind on movie watching.

But I like these trip reports as a sort of journal of my time in the parks and at the resort. So I do these for me, and as a roundabout way of giving advice and recomendations

Arrival Day 4/29

When I go to Orlando I like to take the earliest morning flight I can, thus giving myself an unstressfull afternoon and evening. This leads of course to stress the night before and morning of, but hey, if I’m going to be stressed, get it out of the way early!

So, I was on an 8 AM flight which landed around 10:30. I used the Mears Connect Service that is currently replacing The Magical Express. It functions the exact same way, except you have to get your own bag and it now costs $35.00. (Less service for more money, welcome to the new normal)

I always do my best to snap a shot rolling into the resort’s borders.

Honestly, it was fine. For $10 more I could have done an Uber, but I was curious about the buses. I was staying the The Carribean Beach Resort, we were the second stop after Yacht & Beach, so I was changing into a sundress and swimsuit, my bag’s checked by 1.

I think I was sufficiently vacationy, right?

I opted for some fish tacos and iced tea from Centertown Market for my lunch, and then headed to Banana Cabanna and got some kind of frozen drink, before parking my butt in a lounge chair by the pool and read my romance novel (Written In In The Stars by Alexandra Bellefleure. A WLW Pride And Prejudice retelling about astrology and risk assessment. GOOD!)

I do not remember what this was called but it was pink and very sweet.

I got bored by that pretty quickly. So I walked around. And then did some more walking around. Then, it was 3:15 and I still hadn’t gotten a notification that my room was ready, which felt weird, since check in was 3, AND I had a 5:50 dinner reservation, so I needed to shower and change.

All of this walking around also involved a full lap on the Skyliner. I mean obviously.

Turns out my room was ready and I could have been in there for an hour. Regardless, I LOVED this room. I was in The Jamaica section, on the first floor in a corner room. It was convenient and well lit and very comfortable.

So I changed. I got very lucky the night before and got a reservation at The California Grill. I’ve been trying to go back there for almost five years now, so I was excited.

Since I was down for Dapper Day, I dressed up even though I wasn’t going to be near any Dapper People. (They were mostly over at Disney Springs) But I’d packed the dress. I hopped on a bus to Magic Kingdom, then walked to the Contemporary.

We call this “The Betty Draper Dress” for obvious reasons

I still had about 20 minutes before Check In, so I went to The Outer Rim bar, and got to see a SpaceX launch (Fuck Elon!)

Then I got to The California Grill. If you are unfamiliar with this, it is a large restaurant on the top floor of The Contemporary Resort. It has floor to ceiling windows with unparallelled views of Walt Disney World and has two decks which have views of the fireworks at The Magic Kingdom every night. It’s a premiere dining experience and it’s not easy to get a table.

Right now, they’re serving a Prix Fix dinner with three courses drawn from the 50 years of opperattion. This costs $89 and for an extra $39 you get a sommelier pairing (which I obviously did.)

The California Grill does not disappoint. My three courses, a Duck A L’orange Flatbread, Filet Of Beef With Potatoes and Cauliflower, and A Dark Chocolate Almond Torte.

It was a LOT of food and I only ate about half of it (I brought most of the pizza and torte back to my room, actually). But the real stars for me here were the wine pairings. Really worth that extra $30.

With my choices I got a L’Ecole 41 Syrah from the Columbia Valley, which was sweet and light enough that it didn’t overwhelm the pizza (which had a LOT going on), a Nickel & Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa, which…frankly, a high end traditional Napa Cab is the PERFECT thing for a steak. There’s just nothing better. Dessert was with a Rose Regale, a sweet sparkling red which I LOVE but only drink in Walt Disney World because it is both expensive and kind of tough to find.

There were still a few hours before the fireworks when I vacated my table, so I hopped on the monorail and went to the Polynesian, I put my name in at Trader Sam’s but I wasn’t confident I’d make it, so I grabbed a Krakatoa Punch on the terrace and walked over to The Grand Floridian and got a seat at The Enchanted Rose and got a French 75, before hopping on The Monorail and getting back to The Contemporary and back up to California Grill for the fireworks. More champagne, and a spot on the deck aquired I watched Enchantment.

The French 75 is gin, lemon juice, sugar and Champagne. It is so refreshing and delicious and gets you WAY drunker than it tastes.

Uhhh, I have some issues with this show. (Later in the week they are resolved). It feels too short, FAR too current to be the Spectacular celebrating 50 years in the park, and the new song is no where near as moving as “Happily Ever After.” Not into it.

Not crazy about the show, but I’m pretty proud of this picture

After this, I settled in at the bar, rather than join the mad dash to the elevators, and ordered a whiskey (or 2) and despite having plenty of time to get back to The Magic Kingdom to get the bus, recognized I was WAY too drunk to do that, so I grabbed an UBER, got it together just enough to pop out my contacts and put on pajamas before passing out on top of the covers.

Coming Soon!

Dapper Days, new friends, WAY less booze, A Galaxy Far, Far away, lazy days at the pool, the Wizarding World, I can’t do theme parks with my dad anymore, and oppressive Floridian heat and humidity! It’s going to be fun!

104 New To Me Movies: A Simple Plan (1998)

Stats

Title: A Simple Plan
Release Year: 1998
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Written By: Scott B. Smith, from his novel
Recommended By: Blank Check With Griffin And David
Star Rating: 4

Review

I watched this weeks ago, but went on vacation almost right after and am just getting around to the review now. As sometimes happens when I’m following along with a Blank Check series, I’m starting to feel burned out on the director but this is a damn good movie and deserved my consideration.

When Hank Mitchell (Bill Paxton) and his brother Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton), and a friend of his brother, Lou Chambers (Brent Briscoe) find a downed plane with nearly $4 million dollars in it, they realize this money could both change their lives and be very dangerous. They scheme how to keep the money, but a series of events lead to violence, corruption and a lot of Moral Dilemmas.

This movie is so simple (heh) and straightforward and fun, it just didn’t quite hit me right. It’s an effective thriller and Thornton in particular is great in it. I just think it’s a little too crafted to really effect me emotionally, which is a shame

What I Was Drinking

It was 3 weeks ago, I really don’t remember….

104 New To Me Movies: Infernal Affairs (2002)

Stats

Title: Infernal Affairs
Release Year: 2002
Directed By: Andre Lau, Alan Mak
Written By: Alan Mak, Felix Chong
Recommended By: Lora Olaes (Lora and I have been friends for years, through Comic Con. She’s a top 10 person for me. She’s an actress, singer and activist.) Also, one of my favorite favorite movies ever, The Departed is a remake of this one. We’ll get into that.
Star Rating: 4

Review

I avoided seeing Infernal Affairs for a long time. I absolutely love Martin Scorcese’s American remake of the film, The Departed and I didn’t want o be either let down by the ways it doesn’t live up to the original, or underwhelmed by the original. Is this stupid? Absolutely.

I’m going to try my best to not spend this whole review comparing these two films, but it is fascinating how they run parallell and where they diverge. The way that the Buddhism of Infernal Affairs and the Catholicism of The Departed contribute to those differences. The way Tony Leung’s easy cool is such a different wavelength from DiCaprio’s unhinged intensity. How Nicholson runs away with the story while Eric Tsang is a more boilerplate villain.

But mainly, I want to talk about how enthralled I was by the thriller aspects of this movie. It’s tightly made, fun to watch, well acted and all together great. It’s a tight police thriller with a great twist and some very fun stakeouts. And the acting adds a lot of depth that’s not quite there in the script. (There’s also not Denham analog character, and the film is poorer for not having that mother fucker around)

I’m really glad I swallowed my reservations and watched the movie. I don’t have time this week to watch The Departed again, but I’ll get to it.

What I Was Drinking

I watched this in the afternoon, I was drinking Pellegrino.

104 New To Me Movies: The Quick And The Dead (1995)

Stats

Title: The Quick And The Dead
Release Year: 1995
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Written By: Simon Moore
Recommended By: Blank Check With Griffin And David
Star Rating: 4.5

Review

There are very few things in the world that I love more than still the kind of movie that I would have fallen head over heels for if I’d seen it on cable when I was a teenager. I never did stumble across Sam Raimi’s cool little western, and I’m the poorer for it.

But I’ve watched it now. The story of a gunslinger, played by Sharon Stone seeking revenge on the outlaws who killed her father. That leads her to the town of Redemption, where the leader of said gang is now Mayor (Gene Hackman) and hosts an annual “contest” for someone to unseat him.

The Lady tangles with the Mayor’s son, The Kid, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, a former outlaw turned preacher who’s renounced violence (Russell Crowe), not to mention just the general ickiness of being a woman in the old west.

The movie is tight, and fun and sparky and full of great performances (I mean with that quartet of leads, how could it not be?) I always like a young DiCaprio performance and continue to mourn for the actor he was, before he become so obsessed with chasing awards he became someone else.

Russell Crowe is also ridiculously cute in this movie and Stone is awesome. Why don’t more people talk about it?

What I Was Drinking

More Rose. Tis The Damn Season.

104 New To Me Movies: Tootsie(1992)

Stats

Title: Tootsie
Release Year: 1992
Directed By: Sydney Pollack
Written By: Larry Gelbart & Murray Schisgal (Uncredited rewrites by Barry Levinson and Elaine May)
Recommended By: AFI 100
Star Rating: 4

Review

What happens when an actor who’s been branded difficult takes on the role of a lifetime? A WOMAN!

I had some expectations going into this movie, I expect madcap shenanigans, a lot of broad, drag type comedy, as it’s a comedy about Dustin Hoffman dressing up as a southern woman to get a job on a soap opera. But in reality, Tootsie is an oddly subdued film about misogyny, show business, femineity and sexuality.

It’s definitely a little retrograde in it’s sexual politics, and given what we’ve learned about it’s star in past few years that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, and it’s definitely a comedy, but it’s more witty than farcical. (Most of the zingers come from Bill Murray in what may be my new favorite performance of his? This movie hit me weird)

Tootsie is marvelously constructed, and Hoffman’s performance is pretty great. I was less gripped by Jessica Lange’s Oscar winning role, but she was doing her best with what was given for her. I was impressed by Teri Garr and Dabney Coleman, but I pretty much always love them in movies.

Tootsie is very of it’s time, but it’s smarter and quieter than you’d expect for it’s premise. A nice surprise.

What I Was Drinking

Water! Watched this with my family on Easter, the day after we had my brother and sister in law’s wedding reception. None of us wanted to drink. Too much celebrating the night before. Congrats Mike and Meg! Love you lots!

104 New To Me Movies: Army Of Darkness(1992)

Stats

Title: Army Of Darkness
Release Year: 1992
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Written By: Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi
Recommended By: Blank Check With Griffin And David
Star Rating: 5

Review

Oh, I loved this movie. I just adored it. I’m struggling to stay on Sam Raimi’s wavelength, partly because of the nature of this project being all about genre diversity, but I was ready to be underwhelmed by Army Of Darkness.

Basically making a movie that’s “Ash goes to the Ren Faire and HEY! There are Deadites!” allows for so much tonal discordancy and silliness, and the stop motion skeletons marching towards the castle are incredible! And Bruce Campbell is once again just knocking fast balls out of the park for 81 perfect minutes.

This movies short length is a big part of the appeal, BTW. It’s quick and dirty and funny and just gets in and out before it wears out it’s welcome. I was really very happy to watch it and might even watch it again soon.

What I was Drinking

Josh Cabernet. This is my mom’s wine, we’d been out to dinner and I had a bottle, so I popped it open and kept up the party going.

104 New To Me Movies: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Stats

Title: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Release Year: 2000
Directed By: Ang Lee
Written By: Wang Hui-ling, James Schamus, Kuo Jung Tsai. From The Book By Wang Dulu
Recommended By: No one? Because everyone assumed that I had seen this movie. And I think I might have? But I was 13, and I definitely didn’t retain it. Anyway, I had it on DVD and I recently reorganized my DVDs, and I’m still in Bridgerton headspace, so I decided rather than just rewatch Ang Lee’s Sense & Sensibility for the zillionth time, I’d check out one of his great masterpieces. Also, I like Michelle Yeoh a lot and I’m probably two weeks from being able to see Everything, Everywhere, All At Once.
Star Rating: 5

Review

I am once again here to say it took me way too long to watch this masterpiece of a film that came out when I was a kid. This one is even more inexcusable than my skipping of The Piano. But skip it I did, because fuck me, I guess.

Anyway, this movie is flawless and wonderful. It’s slow and anchored by a pair of deep performances by two of the greatest actors in the history of cinema. (Chow Yun-Fat! Michelle Yeoh!) It tells the story of two warriors in their twilight, a magic sword, a chosen one, her journey to enlightenment, an old grudge, and it’s got people who fly.

I’ve seen less of Ang Lee’s work than I’m proud of. (As previously noted, I have watched his Sense And Sensibility a bajillion times.) I know he’s a master filmmaker, and I’ve seen that in the little bit of his work I have watched. And I really am glad I waited until I was an adult to watch this movie, which is perfect. I wish I had more to say about it. But I don’t think thirteen year old me would have liked it much. But grown up me, is all about these people and their regrets, and their spirit and love living on in two young people that they warn to not repeat their mistakes.

And also the cool Kung-Fu fighting. Which wouldn’t have appealed me as a teenage because I hadn’t learned to appreciate that outside of The Matrix yet.

But oh boy, I loved watching it now. If you haven’t seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, get around to it. If you haven’t seen it in a while, revisit it. You won’t be sorry.

What I Was Drinking

PALOMAS!

I had leftover taco stuff, and to go with it I made Palomas. I like a margarita, I love a Paloma.

2 oz Grapefruit Juice
2 oz Tequila
1/2 A Lime
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Shake over ice and top with club soda. So refreshing!

104 New to Me Movies: Darkman (1990)

Stats

Title: Darkman
Release Year: 1990
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Written By: Sam Raimi, Chuck Pfarrer, Ivan Raimi, Daniel Goldin, Joshua Goldin
Recommended By: Blank Check With Griffin And David
Star Rating: 3

Review

I was really excited going into this Blank Check mini series. I love Spider-Man after all, and hey, I was getting to check off a bunch of canonical nerd movies that I’ve never gotten around to.

I am not that into Sam Raimi, as it turns out. (I do still anticipate liking Spider-Man a lot.) I get what he’s doing, and it occasionally clicks. (I did really like The Evil Dead and Crimewave) But I just really, didn’t like Darkman, maybe it’s because it lives in this middle space, somewhere in between full throated parody and straight serious filmmaking. Maybe it’s because I’d rewatched The Phantom Menace the night before and was deep in my Liam Neeson feelings. I don’t know, but I just didn’t care for this movie.

I had trouble investing, even as I saw and enjoyed the Universal Monster movie stuff, and I like the cartoony action and obviously, hey Liam Neeson! Love that guy. But I just couldn’t invest. I don’t want to be held at arms length by irony and stilted storytelling and paper thin characters. Unless there’s great action in there.

I understand why people are into this. I totally get what’s going on here, I see the appeal, and it just didn’t click. But I gave it three stars because, you know whatever.

What Was I Drinking

Ally Bay Sauvingnon Blanc. The last bottle from my Spanish Tapas night party. Sauv Blanc isn’t really my thing, but I like this one. Nice and refreshing and not overly sweet.