Merry Dapper Day: Hotel Review and Favorites

OK, so, the trip went really well, so it’s time, obviously, to talk about staying at Pop Century, and my favorites from the trip.

So, we stayed at Pop Century and it was pretty great. We were in the 80’s section in one of the newly renovated rooms. (We requested it. I also requested a top floor room, this was a mistake that I felt bad about the whole trip.)

The resort is great, huge, and well laid out, with a great food court, and a good gift shop. The new rooms though, are the real reason to stay here. (besides price, the price really is great.)

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The rooms feature a queen bed, and a queen sized murphy bed that when it’s folded into the wall is a small table for two. This allows for extra space when you’re not sleeping and a table is a great way to make that space also functional. The rooms also feature linoleum floors instead of carpet which also allows the room to look sleek and modern.

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Also there’s cool pop art of Mickey and Pluto.

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Given the choice, I’d spend the little bit extra to stay at Riverside, just because having a proper lobby bar rather than just the food court is something that’s important to me. But I was a tag a long this trip, so I happily tagged along and really enjoyed Pop!

Favorites:

Ride:

Fligth Of Passage holds on to the top spot, it’s so special and beautiful and amazing and wonderful. Runner up goes to Dumbo, which after 30 years on this earth I have finally ridden and really is quite magical.

Show:

This was a tough call between The Very Merry Christmas Parade and Festival Of The Lion King, and I think I have to stick with the parade. It’s a beautiful tribute to the Christmas spirit and the costumes are absolutely divine.

Meal:

Tusker House takes the cake, not just because of the characters. I loved the food and atmosphere and service too. Le Cellier was great, really, and I’m glad to have done it, but in the future, if I’m going to spend that money, I’d rather go back to Jiko or California Grill, or try one of the signature restaurants at a resort that I haven’t tried yet. (I still have to do both Narcoosee & Citricois, plus Artist Point and Flying Fish and Yachtsman Steakhouse.)

Drink:

This one does go to Le Cellier, the Coudoulet de Beaucastel Grenache Blend I drank with that dinner was divine. I’ve even passed the label and name on to the wine shop that I go to, so that they can keep an eye out for it and let me know if they order it. I know just enough about wine to know what I like and what pairs well with different meats, and this fit the “good with steak,” and “I like this,” bills quite well.

Snack:

Pongu Lumpia for the win! Sweet, tangy and a cool texture, this was for sure my favorite thing I ate the whole trip.

Special Bonus: Holiday Favorite

It was really cool to see the parks all done up in their Christmas finery, but I have to say that my favorite park Holiday decorations were at Studios. They fit with the Hollywood motif perfectly, and really make it look like something different for, ahem, that time of year.

Merry Dapper Day: 11/21/2017: “The Wilderness Mus Be Explored”

I’ve gone on seven trips to Disney World in the past 2 years, and the one thing that surprises people more than, “and you don’t have children?” is when they ask what my favorite thing to do is, and I say, “Walk around Animal Kingdom.”

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My Disney trips have had me fall head over heels in love with the Animal Kingdom, and this was even before Pandora opened and gilded the lily as it were.

And this day, this magical wonderful day, had us (mostly because Juli is something of a genius.) really diving into exploration of the park.

We started the day in Pandora, at 8 AM sharp. We had a 9:10 fastpass for Flight of Passage, so we started on Na’vi River Cruise, which I really love riding, it’s such a beautiful and peaceful and lovely experience. I also love the woven queue, the explanation of the various animals you’ll see on the cruise, and of course, the incredible Shamaan Audio-Animatronic.

Then we did some running around and exploring, before our fastpass came up, and then we did Flight Of Passage.

I’d wondered if maybe, maybe I’d with the long wait, and hype for it, been overwowed by Flight Of Passage.

I no longer feel that way. This ride is exceptionally wonderful. It’s beautiful, well executed and didn’t even make me queasy this time around. Hooray! Then we stopped by Pongu Pongu, to get some snacks. I was excited to try the Lumpia, and I also grabbed the Mo’Ara High Country Ale, since I’d tried the Grog Ale last time, Dom got the Grog Ale, and Juli got the Night Blossom, for the Insta of the thing, and also, because it did not occur to me when I ordered it, it wasn’t yet 10 AM. (Our early start had my internal clock off by a bit.) Ah, whatever, it was vacation, if you can’t drink at 9:30 in the morning on vacation, when can you?

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Juli with her Night Blossom

The Lumpia is really good and I get why people were freaking out about it back when Pandora first opened. I’m a sucker for anything desert-y with a cream cheese base. I also liked the beer, again, I’m a sucker for an Amber. Though I preferred the Grog Ale. And if I had a choice, I’d go with a Safari Amber instead.

We then decided to begin the “Wilderness Explorers” part of our day, which allowed for much of the exploring that we did. This was something Juli insisted on, and she was absolutely right! We chatted with the Explorerer troop leaders in Pandora and took a boatload of pictures, before making our way to Harambe to check in for our brunch at Tusker House.

Tusker House has a mixed internet reputation but it’s Kristi’s family’s favorite and my friend April also counts it as a stand by for her family. Plus in these seven trips in two years, I hadn’t yet done a character meal.

really loved this restaurant. The layout is a market style for the buffet with lovely thick wood tables where we sat. And of course there’s the characters in their safari finest!

During the meal we met with Goofy, Daisy, Donald and Mickey. This was our third encounter with Goofy and we were thrilled about it. Specifically though, I was psyched to meet with Donald and Daisy, since I was wearing my Webby Vanderquack Disneybound this day.

The food is really interesting and cool, and we specifically book at 10:45 so that we could get a taste of both the breakfast and lunch options. Also, the drink options at Tusker House come from Dawa Bar, which means I got to have a Sugar Cane Mojito, which, as I’ve stated before, is my favorite bar made mojito I’ve ever had. (Disney is one of the few places I let myself have rum, because my opportunities to be ah “friendly,” the way I tend to get when I drink rum, are limited.)

Once we finished there, it became clear that it was about to rain, and we decided to head in to Festival Of The Lion King. Neither Juli nor I had done this show before, and I think that I’m going to fit it in to every itinerary from now on. It’s truly spectacular.

Then it was on to more Wilderness Badges, this time, by going to Gorilla Falls again, then after that, we had Everest Fast Passes, and completed those badges. It was then on to my favorite (very super favorite) thing in Animal Kingdom, The Maharahja Jungle Trek. Unlike Gorilla Falls, the trek is almost never crowded, it’s tucked back in a weird back corner of the Asia section, rather than in a highly trafficked ride exit dump, and it’s residents are a bit more subdued. We talked to a cast member about the tiger cubs. (I was really hoping we’d see them.) He explained that they’re not on display yet, as they want to limit human contact with them. Disappointed but understanding we were happy to at least see their proud papa wandering around.

We had a truly magical moment, however, as we reached the aviary. I’ve walked the Jungle Trek many times and never, have I seen this area so alive. Birds were zipping above our heads, skittering around on the ground and perched happily singing in the trees. It was exceptional.

Post Jungle Trek we headed to Disney Springs where we all did some shopping, and then back to the hotel, where we picked up dinner and relaxed in the room. (And had one of those quiet exhale moments that I’m so crazy about.) We headed back over to the park to experience Pandora at night and Rivers Of Light.

I was head over heals for Pandora having only seen it during the day. Seeing it at night just further cemented my love for Animal Kingdom. Seriously, I’m obsessed. Maybe someday I’ll have an Animal Kingdom trip, where I stay at lodge and only go to Animal Kingdom, except for one night when I go over to the Poly to have drinks at Trader Sam’s. (This is not a logistical reality, just something that I fantasize about.)

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Then it was off to Rivers Of Light. We stopped by the Thirsty River Bar first, where I tried to Himalayan Ghost, which is, I must say, incredible. I really do need to incorporate Guava Juice into my home mixers.

The show was spectacular. I really like it, and I think the only reason that it will never eclipse Illumiations as my favorite is because I don’t have childhood memories of it. (And for the moment, it’s sort of a pain in the butt to see.)  It’s so beautiful and interesting and well done and the song is great.

After that, it was time for our party to part ways. Juli and Dom were getting up super early to begin their drive home, and still had packing to do. The park was still open for about an hour, so I decided rather than be in their way while they packed to further explore at least in some fashion.

I knew I had a few options, but I landed on heading to Nomad Lounge and having a night cap, and then hopping on line to ride Na’Vi River Journey one more time.

Settling in at Nomad I had a Night Monkey and chatted with the bar tender, before settling up and heading over to River Journey, where I talked to a family as we wound through the cue, and then headed out to the bus and back, where I crashed out.

BONUS Departure Day:

I had a 9:42 flight. I didn’t book it that way. I’d booked in the afternoon hoping to get in a morning at Studios to do Star Wars stuff. (Juli and Dom have no care for a galaxy far far away and I wasn’t going to force my super-fandom on them) But, American Airlines changed their flight times, so, here we are. I skipped Magical Express, since it was picking up at 5:35 AM for the Holiday rush, and I knew I didn’t need that much time.

I got up, took some pictures of the room, and grabbed a Lyft to the airport and then it was home, with no hiccups.

Overall, this was an incredible trip. Longer than I usually do, and much more strenuous. Coming up later in the week, we’ll do a hotel review & favorites, and then I’ve got a special, things I’ve learned in my Disney Year post!

But for now, well, as they say, See You Real Soon!

Merry Dapper Day: 11/20/2017: “That Time Of Year”

If there’s one thing that I’ve done in this year of Disney that I do not every feel the need to do again, it is the 4 Park Day.

While very fun, these marathons are exhausting, and made more so by the discontinuing of the Express Bus Service. (Seriously, such a bummer that this isn’t a thing anymore.) If other people I’m with want to do it, I’ll nope out at lunch time and take a nap.

Anyway, all this to say, that I’m glad I did both of my 4 Park Days this year, but I am not doing it again for a very long time.

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So, we got up early, there was a 7 AM extra magic hour at Animal Kingdom, and we drove over. We were through the gates by 7:45 and on Kilamanjaro Safaris by 8. After the safari, (which went well, again, I don’t know that I’ll ever top February’s safari trip, but again, this one was very good.) and then did Gorilla Falls, before grabbing a fastpass picture and then driving to park at the TTC. (We planned on finishing the day at Magic Kingdom, so this made the most sense.) Then we caught the Monorail to Epcot, since we had some Fastpasses (and a burning desire for some Via Nappoli Pizza.) there. We rode Living With Land, then got on The Friendship Boat, and hit Italy, hoping for a walk up to Via Nappoli. We got a table in about 10 minutes (I always forget how fricking HUGE that restaurant is) and a pepperoni pie and a bellini made the whole day a little better. (I was feeling my hangover from the day before, LET ME TELL YOU!) We then backtracked to the Land pavillion again, to ride Soarin’ and followed that up with a ride on Imagination.

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Somewhere in there, we managed to take this picture.

I haven’t done either Living With The Land or Imagination since I was kid and they were fun to revisit. Living With The Land is super relaxing and the tour of the Greenhouses is really cool, and honestly, who doesn’t simply adore Figment?

After that we worked our way to the back exit, took a Friendship Boat to the Yacht and Beach Club to check out the Gingerbread Carousel. Juli’s always said that The Boardwalk is her dream resort, where as I lean more Yacht & Beach, and I think after catching a glimpse of Storm A Long Bay, I’ve brought her over to my point of view. (STEP INTO MY WEB!) We then got back on the boat, and headed to Studios.

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Because of lines, we opted out of any of the rides there, but did catch Muppets 3-D, For The First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing A Long, (which featured a special ending with “That Time Of Year” and “When We’re Together” from Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.) We also hung out on Sunset Boulevard and watched the projection show “Sunset Season’s Greetings” which goes onto the Tower of Terror. It’s a really cute show, and I especially appreciated that one of the segments is based around “Mickey’s Christmas Carol,” which has always been my favorite version of that story.

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We settled in for Fantasmic after that, and golly, what a good show that is! I haven’t seen it in a while, but it’s Juli’s favorite, so we were definitely not skipping it. We managed to see the actual fireworks from “Jingle Bell Jingle Bam” while we waited, as well as the finale of Illuminations! (Pretty cool stuff!)

Fantasmic really is great though, it’s sweet, and an excellent use of characters and has some great music in it. The five minute long Pocohontas section is a little bit dated. (I mean, I’m just saying it wouldn’t be hard to say, switch that up to be about a young Polynesian girl wondering how far she’ll go…) But otherwise, this is a stone cold classic.

Our final stop was Magic Kingdom, where we arrived just as the lights were dimming for “Happily Ever After.” Our plans were all Fantasyland based, so we saw the fireworks, but not the projection show. (Still really good.)

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Also, got these cool pics with the fireworks in them!

We rode Under The Sea, and then Dom wanted to check out Winnie The Pooh. I’m not a huge fan of that ride, and was wearing my Rapunzel Disneybound, so I went to meet up with Punzie herself (and my girl Tiana!)

As I talked about my “best day ever” with Rapunzel, I thought about how lucky I’ve been this year, to share my favorite place with so many people I love so much, and how happy I am to have made these little touchstones for myself.

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Chatting with Rapunzel = My favorite thing to do on trips. For serious.

Juli, Dom and I met up altogether at the latern photo spot by Rapunzel’s tower, and then we headed out to get to the TTC and then home.

The lines for both the monorail and the ferry were bonkers, so we walked to the contemporary and took the monorail from there. Once we got back to the hotel, we all quickly crashed out.

Our final day might have been my favorite…I’ll get into why when I talk about it tomorrow! (Yes, I’m burning through these write ups…I had to do something to distract myself during the boring/terrible parts of the prequels…so you know…most of the prequels…)

Merry Dapper Day Trip: 11/19/2017: “Dapper World Travel”

Crazy early rope dropping is crazy. Normal things kick off at 9 AM rope dropping…way better. Which made our Sunday much easier than our Saturday.

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It was Dapper Day at Epcot, all three of us were bounding as Inside out Characters. Juli as Disgust, Dom as Anger and me as Fear. Our first stop was obviously the Character Spot to meet Joy and Sadness. It worked out perfectly, we were the first ones in the door and our friends were just so happy to see us.

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Our next stop was Test Track, which because of the speedy Joy and Sadness meet, we waited 20 minutes for. (HOORAY! I ❤ Rope Drop!) And then thanks to Dom, we crushed all of our tests (except efficiency, which you know, fine.)

Our next stop was Spaceship Earth, and I mean, you all know how I feel about Spaceship Earth, but this ride was, well, rough. It’s normally a 20 minute experience and due to breakdowns in every single room it took about an hour. It may have even cured me of my love for it. (Not really, but I mean, maybe.)

After that we had a fast pass for Character Spot, which again, is on my top 10 character meets. It’s just a lot of fun, and you get the classic looks for the characters.

At last, we decided to begin our trip around the world, where we would eat, drink and be holiday merry! Juli wanted to do the Chip and Dale Oranament Scavenger Hunt, which wound up being a great deal of fun! Our first stop was Mexico, which meant, of course! Margaritas!

I decided to skip La Cava (I know, blasphemy!) And to check out the new tequila stand, La Choza. I went for the classic lime frozen Margarita which was delicious and refreshing. We also ate a couple of snacks from the holiday kitchen, and then shopped in the pavilion, and rode La Fiesta Tour! (I still think that ride has some weird racial elements, but everyone else tells me I’m nuts, so you know, whatever.)

Then came Norway, where we had a fastpass for Frozen Ever After. I still love it. I will always love it. Post ride, we split a beer and got some pastries at Kringla, and HOLY CRAP am I planning on doing that every time from now on. Everything was sensationally yummy, not too sweet and delicious.

China netted another beer, some pot stickers and egg rolls, and a wander through the exhibit on Shanghai Disneyland. Someday I will attempt the Asian parks, though Disneyland Paris seems way more likely this half decade. (I have some vague Europe plans, that include Paris, and well, it’s something I’d like to do for a day…) then Germany, (beer and cheese fondue…) then Italy, (Rose Regale), American Adventure, where we not only chowed down on turkey and stuffing (and a citrusy wheat beer,) but we shopped and I bought some mega cute Mason Jar Glasses featuring Huey, Dewey and Louie enjoying New York and New Jersey.

In Japan, we skipped drinking or eating (nothing really appealed) and just wandered around Mitsokoshi.

Morocco brought more wandering through the market place (and Sangria) followed by a bit of Bouche De Noel, (and Kir Royale) in France, plus some more shopping. We reached the UK, and I demanded a Snake Bite! Juli wanted tea, so we got that too, and again, our search for Chip and Dale lead us through the shops.

Finally we got to Canada, and decided to check in for dinner early. The desk actually advised against it, and we instead found out way to the front of the park to take some pictures. I love a picture of Spaceship Earth at night and honestly, I think this picture of the three of us in front of the Epcot Christmas Tree is one of the best we took.

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During this, we squared with the fact that we just might miss Illuminations. I was bummer, but excited to try the new restaurant, which was, once we checked in, truly great. We ate the Cheddar Cheese soup (natch) and a special Poutine only available to Annual Pass Holders (Woo hoo! That decision paid off again!) and then split the Porterhouse for 2 among the three of us. (It was more than enough!) We were finished by 8:50, and the meal was well paced, but not super rushed, and able to find spots right on the railing for Illuminations.

I love this show, and everytime I’ve seen it this year, I’ve remembered that it may be the last time, and I’ve cried. This time, I held it together, until, well, until the end. After the normal finale, there was a very special Holiday Tag, which aside from being a lovely blue color scheme, is soundtracked by a children’s choir singing “Let There Be Peace On Earth.”

So, I was basically a puddle.

After that, we strolled to the Boardwalk and over to Jellyrolls. A few beers, and a lot of fun (though more mellow than the usual brand I’ve had there) later, we decided to hop in a Lyft and head back to the hotel.

Ummm, with a Lyft driver, I will only describe as eccentric, (who didn’t use GPS, God help us) we all did out best to get through the ride without bursting into giggles. The giggles came, once we exited and headed back to the room.

We were in bed well before midnight, ready for our 4 park day, the next day…stay tuned!

Merry Dapper Day Disney Trip Preview

Hey all! So, this time next week, I’ll be in the air about half way to Disney World, for what I’ve decided to call the “Merry Dapper Day” trip, as the main focuses of the trip are going to be Christmas celebrations, and Dapper Day.

This is a basic overview of what I think the trip will look like (obviously, I mean, obviously things often take on their own life.) and honestly, I’m going to try, (SO SO HARD) to not get caught up in the details of things and go with the flow. I’m much more of a passenger on this trip. Juli did most of the planning, (with input, of course! She’s a doll!) And if you want more detailed talk about our plans, you should check out her blog. (You should check it out anyway, because Juli is great and her writing is fun!)

Anyway, here’s the broadstrokes, be sure to check out Facebook, for live videos and pictures throughout the week!

Friday 11/17:

I’m on a 10AM flight, expected to land at MCO by 1-ish, which means I’ll be to Pop Century, by 3, hopefully earlier, but you know Magical Express, I’ve literally had 2 hours each time I’ve used it. Juli and Dom will have already arrived, and then we’ll be off to Magic Kingdom, for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

There are Disney Bound and ride plans in place as well as a few Fastpasses for before the party and I’m really excited about this. I’ve wanted to see the snow on Main Street for years, can’t wait to compare notes with the Halloween Party, and of course, to possibly meet a certain Scottish billionaire duck, who’s going to be in attendance. (I’m speaking of Flintheart Glomgold…natch…He has a kilt McDuck! A KILT!) (I’m kidding, I mean Scrooge.)

The party goes until midnight. So that will be that.

Saturday 11/18:

Magic Kingdom Dapper Day! So there are a few things happening here, it’s our Magic Kingdom Dapper Day, and also, Magic Kingdom is open from 8 AM to Midnight….that’s a long day. Obviously, I will attempt to be totally mellow and NOT demand that we arrive to the park by 7:15 so we can enjoy Main Street and line up before opening.

I make no promises that I will succeed in this, but I’m gonna TRY.

I’m really excited to be back in the Kingdom with Juli, and to see Happily Ever After! We have Fastpasses for morning and afternoon, no dining reservations. (I am trying hard to not hyperventilate at this.) And also, the park is open until midnight, so there’s a good hour and half of post fireworks time (my FAVORITE time in the parks).

Sunday 11/19:

Epcot Dapper Day. Plans include, photos in front of colored walls, I bet. Spaceship Earth, drinking around the world, Frozen Ever After, Holidays around the world, and dinner at Le Cellier, before of course, Illuminations.

This is a more normal park houred day of 9-9, which leaves a deep likelyhood of an evening at Jellyrolls…mostly, I’m happy for light scheduling on Epcot days, because World Showcase doesn’t lend itself to tight schedules. For example had I scheduled by last Dapper Epcot Day, I’d never have wound up doing the Great Princess Hunt of 2017, which was a really fun way to spend that day.

This day also includes one of our only two scheduled ADRs, because, it’s Le Cellier. Juli and I skipped it our last trip for a few reasons (Food and Wine, and we ate at 3 other signature restaurants that trip!) and I’m very excited to finally eat there.

Monday 11/20:

FOUR PARK DAY!

We’re starting at Animal Kingdom, Heading to Magic Kingdom, (though now with MK being open to midnight, this may shift!) then Epcot, then finishing out the evening at Studios.

I’m not entirely sure what the plan is for the evening, because we may go over to Magic Kingdom AFTER Studios closes rather than in the morning, but I know early on there was Monorail Bar Crawl talk. (I always stomp for Monorail Bar Crawl!) Or, Disney Springs, where I know Juli and Dom are spending Friday morning, is also always an option.

Tuesday 11/21:

This is our big Animal Kingdom day! I heart Animal Kingdom and I’m SO SO SO SO excited to have a whole planned day there. Since we’ll have already done the Safari, there’s not going to be much difficulty in heading right to Pandora, where we’ve got a Flight Of Passage fastpass for 9:10, so we can rope drop Na’Vi River Journey, and then head right there.

We have a reservation at Tusker House at 10:45, so we’ll get some character fun in, and we’ll try a restaurant we haven’t before. (I haven’t done a character meal since I was 12, so I’m also excited for that!) But our other fastpasses aren’t until way later in the day (one for Everest, and the other for the second show of Rivers of Light), so it gives us lots of time to just BE IN ANIMAL KINGDOM, which, I’ve only really ever done on solo trips.

I’d love to give my Drink Through the Jungle plan a shot, or finally sit down for Festival of The Lion King, or even just chillax at Nomad Lounge for ages. I can’t wait to see Pandora after dark, walk the Maharajah & Gorilla Falls trails, and, like I said, just wander generally.

Wednesday 11/22:

My flight home is at 9:42 in the morning. My ME will likely be sometime around 6 AM. I will probably not us ME for the return trip. A Lyft at 7 AM ought to do the trick. I am anticipating being delayed anywhere from 1 to 6 hours, as it’s not only my luck trying to get home from Disney World, but the day before Thanksgiving. (I’m also using a car service to and from the airport because when I knew better than to ask any of my family to pick me up from JFK on the day before Thanksgiving.)

I’m really excited to get there! I’m really really excited to be there with my friends, especially, to hit some of the stuff that ignited my love of Disney Vacations with Juli. Since we got home 2 years ago I’ve been in a constant state of Disney planning and it’s been incredible. 

 

 

 

Disney Cousins Fall Trip: Hotel Review & Favorites

Alright everyone! We’ve made it a month and we’re still talking about this trip. Sorry it took so long to get everything written up.

But it’s time to talk about Port Orleans: Riverside, and specifically The Royal Room!

 

As I’ve mentioned, we weren’t even supposed to stay here. The original plan was for French Quarter, for a couple of reasons. French Quarter is largely regarded by the blog community to be the more efficient choice, and the theming of Riverside squicks me a little. The division into Magnolia Bend and Alligator Bayou, that is, large opulent antebellum mansions and “rustic” cabins respectively, feels, mmm, how do I say this…KIND OF REALLY GROSS? I mean, Gone With The Wind is in my top 10 favorite movies, so I’m normally OK about compartmentalizing such things but a hotel built in the 90s having it feels off, and super weird.

“I’ll think about our culture’s problematic relationship with slaveholding society tomorrow, at Tara!”

BUT, anyway, we wound up in the Royal Room, which was, kind of insanely great and also completely ridiculous and insane.

TADA!

 

The rooms are probably great for families, especially princess obsessed little girls, and since that’s what I am on the inside, well, it worked out. The portraits of the princesses, the electric headboard, and the note from Tiana are all very fun touches.

Light Up headboards: Excellent for drunken giggling and applause.

Some princely appreciation (Not much but it’s there)

Tiana, welcoming us. (Helping to sooth my weird guilt about the theme)

The rest of the resort really felt nice. I’ll reevaluate after staying at Pop (and there’s a possible Coronado Springs in a few months!), but I think I may have settled on really enjoying the moderate resort experience, when it comes to saving money. River Roost is a fantastic lounge, not just by Disney Bar standards, but by hotel bar standards, with a good mix of seating options, (arm chairs by a fireplace for the win, ALWAYS!) a friendly and well informed staff, (not really a huge deal at Disney, but still, always pluses the experience) and some good food options.

I didn’t get time to walk around as much as I would have liked, but what I did see was really pretty, Fulton’s is definitely the better laid out of the gift shops I’ve seen so far. Riverside is definitely going to be a repeat spot. It’s hard to beat the price and it’s a beautiful resort with two other types of rooms for me to try out. (Regular Magnolia Bend Room and Aligator Bayou Room).

I should note, I’m a fast walker, so me not minding the sprawling moderate resorts because it doesn’t take me long to get around should be taken with a grain of salt. I have long legs, and I’m from a metro area where strolling is basically considered a hate crime. (Seriously, if you’re visiting New York, DO NOT WALK SLOWLY DOWN THE SIDEWALK. EVERYONE HATES YOU.) So when I say, “it only took me a minute or two to get to the lobby/main bus stop,” that might be a longer walk for people who are less crazy.

Favorites:

Ride:

Pandora Flight Of Passage is REALLY really good. The 3-D is beautifully rendered, the pre show fun and a little bit awkward (as all the best pre shows are) and the queue spectacular. It wins this trip, for sure. It’s stunningly beautiful, thrilling, and really, really special.

Show:

Illuminations. I love it so much, and while Boo To You and Hallo-Wishes are great, seeing my old favorite from a new (and incredible) angle really made it feel special. (Also the drinks.)

Meal:

Frontera Cucina was definitely the showplace “big meal” of the trip. It was a really good one too. I’m leaning heavily on new things being the favorites, but in general, with restaurants I try not to over repeat. (It was very weird to not go to Be Our Guest this trip!) But I’ll always love Mexican food, and I’m getting to the point now where I’ll be able to really give strong recomendations on where to eat at Springs. (Given the choice? I’d pick Homecomin’ over Frontera, both are excellent but Homecomin’ blew me away)

Drink:

You know it wouldn’t be a favorites post without me talking about what bit of alcohol made me happiest. It’s going to The Snakebite at Rose and Crown. I’m still drinking these. Seriously, I asked for one at the Bar and Grill where my family and I meet for dinner once a week. (Tom thinks I should request they call it “Reenie’s Snakebite” there, but you know, I’m not pushing it)

Snack:

This is a tie! I don’t usually allow ties, but since I had to choose between something seasonal and special and something that I make sure I eat every trip because I love it so much. The choices are the Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream from the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, and the Spice Road Table Hummus Fries.

The ice cream first. I love all things pumpkin spice. (You know, much like how I adore my Uggs, Rose Spritzers and feel that Taylor Swift just “gets me.” I’m a white girl.) So when it came time to grab a snack while Tom and I waited on the fireworks, well, I grabbed a scoop of this. It was perfectly balanced between good creamy ice cream sweetness and the sort of pumpkin pie flavor that makes up the best pumpkin spice flavored things. 10 out of 10 would snack again.

Now onto my latest rhapsody to the hummus fries. It’s fried hummus. But Reenie, you might say, isn’t that just a falafel? I mean, kind of. But there’s something in the texture about these which makes them BETTER than falafel, also the dipping sauce is really yummy, and it gets eaten in easily my favorite restaurant in Epcot! So you know…I love them.

Guys, I’m going to be back in Disney World in a few weeks. Seriously, so soon. If you want more details on that trip, you should check out Juli’s blog Random Spirited Ramblings. She took the lead on the planning this time (which was nice for me! I love Disney planning, but it was nice to step back a minute.)

Disney Cousin Fall Trip: 9/17/2017 Part 2: “It’s Really Not So Scary!”

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There was some discussion about what our first step would be when we got to The Magic Kingdom. The intitial plan had been to use a Fastpass on Jungle Cruise before our dinner, but because of Hurricane Damage, Jungle Cruise was close. We decided instead to hop on Big Thunder Mountain.

I love that ride, even though I prefer it at night, I enjoyed it this time around too, the thing about having ridden it at night is that I know more of what to look for on the ride now.  I’m still excited to ride it after dark again though. Then we headed to Main Street to do some shopping (Tom was buying pins for all of his people, and we found an AWESOME set of pins that featured Mickey and Minnie dressed as Mary Poppins and Bert to give to my Aunt and Uncle! I also picked up a few things!)

We then headed up and climbed through the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but it beats just wandering around doing nothing, and it’s right across the way from Skipper Canteen, where we were eating.

Then we checked in to the restaurant, this was important, since we weren’t riding the Jungle Cruise, we needed to get that sweet, sweet, Jungle Cruise humor.

Also the food. Our skipper was great, full of jokes and fun. I had the pork chops and Tom had the steak, and it’s hard not to feel grateful for that drink, even if it is just a simple glass of wine, or in Tom’s case a Blue Moon. We also sketched out our plan for the party, which wound up being a bit uneccessary, for reason I will get in to. (Hint, it involves basically no lines at all!)

We then headed over to Tomorrowland, as we had a Space Mountain fastpass. We speedily got through the ride and line and then headed over to Buzz Lightyear, which, I think actually matched it’s line number, but it was still less than 20 minutes.

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Tom is focused…I look bored…

We had planned on then doing Philharmagic, but it was already closed to be a trick or treating location so we moved over to Peter Pan, which again, line said 40 minutes. It was 25. We got out and it was party time, so we headed to Pirates, and the Haunted Mansion, and then Mine Train.

Mine Train was our second longest line of the trip (after Flight of Passage) at 45 minutes. A real killer. I love that ride though and especially like riding it at night. We then decided to camp out on Mainstreet for the Parade, found a spot at the hub.

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Boo To You really is exceptionally good. It’s entertaining, gives you a fun look at the characters and I have the song stuck in my head still.

We were kind of wiped, so we found ourselves a table outside of Casey’s, after swinging by the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor so that I could try the Pumpkin ice cream.

OMG, that ice cream, when I get around to favorites, I’ll talk about it more, but it was amazing. It tastes like pumpkin pie, and ice cream, it’s incredible. We moved to the middle of main street for Hallowishes, which is also incredible. The soundtrack and castle projections are fun, and we then decided to head out, rather than hang out for the extra 45 minutes. The short lines had gotten us everything we wanted to do earlier than expected and we were truly exhausted. We got back to Riverside and decided to grab a night cap at River Roost. We grabbed a seat by the fireplace, chatted about the overall fun of our trip, and I have to say, this remains my favorite part of just about any trip.

I love the parks, I love the restaurants, but I really, really love these decompressing moments. Juli and I drinking champagne on our condo balcony after our trip around the world. Sitting with a beer by myself, with my feet up, watching the bits of Symphony In the Stars I could see from my window at The Swan. Rolling the coffee table away in our villa at Saratoga to do yoga and stay limber the night before the race with Kristi. Chatting with the bar staff at Tune-In Lounge in my dapper-ware. This moment, relaxing and recapping with my cousin.

They’re the best. Cannot be beat.

There’s one more day of trip to talk about, but it’s breif, and then hotel talk and favorites! (Yes, I am squeezing over a month of content out of these 3 days…)

Stay tunes!

Disney Cousin Fall Trip: 9/16/2017 Part 2: “Well, that was worth it!”

I’m a big fan of the 2 hour afternoon hotel break on a Disney trip. It’s not something we ever did growing up, because we weren’t rope droppers, so there was less need for it, and we always went in November when it’s not quite so hot.

But now that I’ve gone during hotter times of the year with a “get to the park early & then stay late” touring style, I love my post lunch hotel room time. Time to regroup, have a cool drink, lay down and maybe nap is absolutely necessary now, ESPECIALLY if you’re doing more than 1 park in a day. Which we were!

So, after our Animal Kingdom adventure, we enjoyed about an hour and a half in our room, and then did some shopping.

Tom was looking for a very specific pin, legendarily the only piece of Kingdom Hearts merchandise in the parks. And there it was, right in Fulton’s General Store, the gift shop at Riverside.

Hooray!

We then boarded our Epcot bus, and off we flew to indulge in plenty of food and wine. (Actually it wound up being mostly beer…)

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First, of course, we stopped by Soarin’, which is such a delightful ride. I’m always happy, everytime I ride it. We had a fastpass, so we pretty much walked right on. After Soarin’ we hit the Festival center, where I claimed my free annual pass food and wine stuff (Button with Remi on it, and a button that say AP.) And did some more shopping and general gawking.

Then we hit Spaceship Earth, which I adore and always will. I am curious how it might transform again, with Seimens pulling out their sponsorship, but who knows if it will at all. I just know that it’s the best.

After that we began questing around the World for snacks and drinks. We didn’t stop for munchables or potable at every country (skipped: Norway, Japan & Morocco), but we did a decent job. Specifically, when Tom raised an eyebrow at waiting 20 minutes at La Cava, I implored him to trust me, and lo and behold “Well, that was worth it!” became the theme of the evening.

Then for Norway, we explored a bit while we drank our Margaritas, moving quickly to China, where we watched the acrobats and I got pot stickers. Then we moved on to Germany where we got beer, and Tom got a Brat. We settled in by the water and enjoyed, and then headed in to shop a little in the Christmas store specifically. I considered purchasing a Pickle ornament. (This is an important tradition…I’m like a sliver German, and it’s a thing? I guess? I dunno, but I know that my tree will need a pickle.) I reconsidered and we went to Italy.

Since I am constitutionally incapable of not going to Tutto Gusto when in Italy, we stopped there. (Also, our dinner reservation wasn’t until 8:40, it was about 5, we needed an in between). Sparkly wines and refreshing small plates held us over, and we were on to America. I went for a Sam Adams Octoberfest, and Tom went for a Yuengling. Then came Japan, and rather than grab Saki, we nursed our beers and walked through the department store, where the epic discussion of lack of merch began.

Tom found another piece of Kingdom Hearts merchandise, you see, and then we looked at the Myazaki stuff, and he declared “THIS IS RIDICULOUS! No Face has more representation in the park than actual Disney characters in this game!” (He then made it clear that this is not to take away from how awesome No Face, is.) We explored the rest of the store, talking about other favorites that are weirdly not in the parks (Wall-E? Why no Wall-E?) before heading to Morocco, where again, just exploring happened.

It is important to note that by this time, we had a good buzz on. I pointed Spice Road Table out and explained that if I hadn’t managed the Pub reservation, that would have been where we were eating.

“Can we eat there anyway?” Tom asked. I shrugged and said it would make for good brunch, and popped into My Disney Experience and made us an 11:30 AM reservation. We thought this was the greatest plan of all time.

Then France, where I began babbling in drunken Franglais, and I think Tom was done with me. (Bless him) While in France I helped myself to some Boeuf Bourgenioun and A Kir Royale, while Tom had a glass of Cabernet.

Once we crossed the channel, Tom had some cheese dip at the Ireland booth, I hopped to Canada quickly and grabbed a bowl of the cheddar cheese soup. (YUMMMM!!!)

Then we checked in to Rose & Crown, I mentioned that I was hoping for a patio table. The hostess smiled and nodded, and we headed into the pub, where I tried my new favorite drink ever, The Snakebite. It’s half Strongbow, half Harp. It’s delicious, and I think I had three of them.

We were seated at an AMAZING table outside, and our waiter (Kevin? I think?) immediately brought us more drinks, and gave great recommendations.

Now, I love Illuminations, I’ve enjoyed meals and watching it from LA Hacienda De San Angel and Spice Road Table.

But I’m converted. If you’re going to sit and watch the show, it has to be from Rose and Crown. WOW, the view is spectacular. The food’s not bad either. I had a shepherd’s pie that did the trick, even if it didn’t blow me away.

After the fireworks we walked out to the Boardwalk and right into Jellyrolls.

Ah, Jellyrolls. There’s never a bad moment in that place. The cover is annoying, but the music and crowd are always great and it’s the cheapest beer on property. Hooray! There was a lot of dancing, laughing, singing along to 80’s music, and a surprisingly poignant conversation about how gay men of our generation don’t need Cher as an advocate anymore. (Though she should still be loved and celebrated, because she’s awesome.)

A car ride home and a few drunken watches of the electric headboard later, we passed out.

To be continued!

Disney Cousin Fall Trip: “I’m So Glad You’re Here” 9/15/2017

Hey everyone! I was back at Disney World this weekend, and it was (as usual) amazing. I was joined, by my cousin Tom, and we fit in all four parks and a lot of fun. Arrival day, however, proved tricky.

If I’d been by myself, I’d have simply changed, and headed to a park for the evening. But, Tom only had a 2 day park hopper, so it left us trying to figure out other things to do. I’ll get there.

I had a noon flight and left my apartment at quarter to nine, and was settled in with a mimosa and a basket of chips at the airport bar by 10:30. Lovely. I boarded a quick and comfy flight at 11:30 and landed in Orlando at 2:30.

It was, to almost the minute, two hours from touch down to the resort. A record for me on Magical Express. It was an hour and a half from disembarking. My past two experiences have been longer. I got to Port Orleans Riverside, I’d gotten our room notification before even boarding, but I wanted to make sure we were synched in properly, due to the many reservation changes over the week and the hurricane, so I went to the front desk, got directions and made sure I was good to go.

I changed, and decided to head to the bar. I knew Tom was on the bus so I had some waiting. I chatted with my bartended, the lovely Spencer, who also gave us a ton of drinking tips (seriously, she was awesome, if you find yourself at River Roost, tip her big.) When Tom arrived, he also had a beer and then we headed back to the room so he could changed and we discussed our dinner and evening options.

We wound up at Disney Springs for dinner, Tom eager to try Frontera Cucina.

Guys.

Guys.

This food! We skipped drinks, due to neither of us having eaten much and deciding that we wanted to Trader Sam’s later. But we immediately ordered the Queso Fundido. I then went with the Shrimp Mojo and Tom had the chicken tacos. I also ordered the mashed potatoes, because I can’t help myself.

All of it was incredible. Rick Bayless is one of my all time favorite Top Chef judges and when he won Masters my mom and I actually cried. To finally get to eat in his restaurant was very exciting and that it is so good, is just another layer.

Also, even though I’d forgotten my card, the waitress gave us the 10% AP discount, which was very nice of her.

We then walked around Springs a bit, hit World of Disney to get a baseline for shopping and then hopped a bus to the Contemporary, because it was there and that way we could ride the monorail to get to The Polynesian.

Trader Sam’s was full, so we sat on the terrace and ordered drinks. I had the Krakatoa Punch, and Tom had a Dark And Stormy, and we got to watch a bit of The Incredibles playing by the pool and catch all of Hallo-Wishes as it burst over the Magic Kingdom.

After about 40 minutes on the terrace we were welcomed to the main bar where we switched to beer, chanted to appease the Tiki Goddess Uh-Oa, and overall admired the kitch and fun of the place.

We took a Lyft back to our delightful Royal Room, which we have decided is both absurdly tacky, and amazing at the same time. (Tom supports my “Disney as a viable alternative to Vegas for non gamblers” theory, thus, a tacky themed room totally fits.)

Overall, it was nice to not feel like I needed to rush around, and to have someone else to decided where to eat. (I 100% would have wound up eating food court tater tots because I couldn’t decide if Tom hadn’t said that he wanted Mexican.) And Trader Sam’s is always a good time.

We were quite proud to have clocked a boat, bus and monorail before even setting foot in a park too.

We then settled in and I wrote this report and we got ready for our big trek to Pandora in the morning..

Dapper Day Trip: Hotel & Favorites

So this is the last post about my Dapper Day trip, and I figured I’d go into deeper detail about some of my favorite things on the trip, and talk about Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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I was really excited to stay here, and when it looked like it was going to be a solo trip, I persisted mainly because the deal I got. (Thanks to Lauren over at DVC Rental store, who has made these last two trips so great) I knew that Animal Kingdom Lodge was beautiful based on the night that Juli and I spent there on our trip, and I was really excited to stay there, and seriously, with the rented points, the whole thing cost me $750. That’s less than I paid when I stayed at the Swan the same time last year. I loved the Swan, and would definitely recommend it to people, especially if you’re looking to be in Epcot a bunch and you’re on a last minute trip.


But if you’ve got some time to plan…I don’t think I can more highly recommend staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, particularly if you want to do the points rental thing. I’ve found most of the times I’ve gone for a quote that AKL is available and the room I was in was huge. And there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of extra space, right?



I was very worried about the bus service, given the trials that we’d had at Saratoga Springs (A resort that I otherwise recommend heartily.) I was super nervous that I’d find myself late to everything and unnecesarily stressed again.

Not the case, except for the first bus to Magic Kingdom, all of them arrived in a timely fashion, and while compared to say, the Boardwalk area or Monorail resorts, yes, AKL is “out of the way,” but it truly took less than 20 minutes to get to the park every morning.

Favorites:

Restaurant:

I was ready to hand this over to Tutto Gusto, which was so exactly what I needed in it’s moment, but then Homecomin’ happened. Maybe it was the timing, but I can’t get over how good that Fried Chicken was.

Ride:

I mean, favorites are favorites, right? Tower of Terror and Haunted Mansion obviously make the list, but Soarin’ really stands out as a favorite this time around. Especially the new film, which has some really remarkable scenes (I particularly liked the Taj Mahal!).

Character Meet:

I hinted at this but Tiana came up the winner this time. We had a lot of fun. There was a dance party. So, you know, winner!

Drinky Drink:

This is a tough call, because, nothing stood out to me the way the Moroccorita or the Blood Orange Margarita did in past trips but despite there being less than usual, there was some damn fine drinkin on this trip. From the Mojito to the Iced Tea Lemonade Moonshine concotion, I didn’t make any missteps, but in the end, I think I have to go with the spiked milkshake I got at Tune In Lounge. Spiked with both Vodka and Bailey’s, it was creamy, refreshing and tipsy making. Plus, the bartender there was really nice.

So that’s the Dapper Day trip!!! I had an amazing time.

Next trip is a quick weekend in September which is going to be mostly Pandora focused! I’ll be staying at Port Orleans: French Quarter, and it looks like I’m going to be joined by some super fun people, which might make it morph a little bit, but for now, it’s going to be 2 days, including a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party,

I’m also full in the the planning stage for the FALL Dapper Day, which I’ll be attending with Juli and Dom. For more about that, check out Juli’s awesome (and detailed) post about our plans so far!

See you real soon Disney Folk! We’re diving full tilt into Movie Season now. (Just in the next two weeks I’m planning to see King Arthur: Legend of The Sword, Alien: Covenant, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and a little indie, I like barely care about, called WONDER WOMAN!!!!)