What do you do at Disney World?

Gah! This took me too long to post. Apologies. Anyways. What do you do at Disney World?

This is the question I asked B countless times in the years between when he first suggested going and when we finally went. I had never been and I really just didn’t *get it*. I mean… we’re not those people who love kids movies or would geek out over see winnie the pooh. And we don’t really like kids all that much. Plus– B doesn’t ride rides! So I was seriously so confused as to what it was we’d actually do at Disney World if we were to go, and I never felt like I got a good answer from B (who generally just said “the food is so good! And then there is like… shows and stuff.” Um… ok?).

So! Here is the post I’ve been excited to write about WHAT it is we did, so other people who haven’t been to Disney before can see what kind of stuff you can do– even if you’re not someone who has kids or cares about Disney characters or rides rides.

First though, I should state that we went to Disney (unknowingly) at the PERFECT time. My friend who lives in Orlando and worked at Disney for three years said the park is NEVER more dead than it was when we were there— which I guess makes a certain amount of sense since we were there during the first few weeks of school (so after the summer rush and before parents would feel comfortable pulling kids out for a vacation). This means that we really had no problems with crowds and we didn’t have get a single fastpass (a free service that sort of lets you make a reservation for something later in the day to avoid lines). The longest we waited for anything was 20 minutes, and most things we waited a mere 5-10 minutes. So that was pretty awesome and I highly recommend the first few weeks of September if you’re going to go to Disney and can swing it!

    Day 1 – Friday – Downtown Disney/Disney Quest

We decided to go to Downtown Disney our first day because by the time we were settled into the hotel it was already 2pm and we didn’t want to pay for a day’s ticket at the parks when we’d only use it for half the day. Downtown Disney is a free area that has a ton of restaurants and shopping, and also has Disney Quest. Disney Quest is a five floor arcade that is kind of awesome. Tickets were $44 a person, which made my eyes pop out of my head when we saw that… but I can’t deny it was a lot of fun.

In addition to all the normal arcade games, sports games (like basketball and boxing and DDR), and classic arcade games, there was also several virtual reality games. Some had simulators, and some had those helmet things that you put on and it looks like you’re in the game. My absolute FAVORITE thing at Disney Quest was the roller coaster simulator though! You get a card to swipe at one of the computers in a little computer lab type room, and then a program guides you through building your own coaster. You get to choose each track section and add things like hills, loops, and barrel rolls. When you’re done, you take the card to a guy standing outside of a little room and he shows you into a little 2-seater simulator thing. The simulator pod closes over you and you have a normal roller coaster harness on, and then you actually get to ride your coaster! Like, you actually roll all the way around and flip over. By far the best simulator I’ve ever been on and it really felt like you were on a coaster! So much fun.

We ended up spending about 4.5 hours in the arcade, and I’m not even what I’d call a real “game person”… so that should tell you something about the amount of stuff there is to do there. We had a great time and it was the perfect thing to do with a random half day. (But not really the kind of thing you take a ton of pictures of… so sorry about that!)

There are also just a ton of cool shops in Downtown Disney. It is fun to walk around and see randomly weird things like a bunch of dogs made out of legos, for example. (Outside the big lego store)

Or just try on random funny hats. Like this R2D2 Mickey Ear hat.

    Day 2 – Animal Kingdom – Hollywood Studios

We decided on Animal Kingdom for our first day in the parks because it was supposed to be sunny out and we knew we’d be outside a lot for Animal Kingdom. We got to the park right when it opened at 9am and headed straight for the Kilimanjaro Safari Expedition. We headed for this first because it was what I wanted to do most in the park, and because it was most likely to have a line so we thought if it was busy we could get a fastpass and come back later. Luckily it only had about a 20 minute wait and it took us almost that long to walk through the switch-backs— so it felt like no time at all. It was, in a word, awesome. You get loaded onto an open air tram-type vehicle and get driven through a fake safari where lots of animals are roaming free. We almost had a giraffe stick his head in our tram. I am a huge animal lover (especially african animals) so this was super fun to see! You can tell how close we are especially because every photo in this post, including those below, was taken with my iphone!**

Next up we took the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail which is basically just like walking through the African animal area of any larger zoo. Since I really like apes and whatnot, I enjoyed myself.

Once we were done in Africa, we decided to head over to Asia for another self-guided stroll through the Asian animal area called the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Tigers and bats the size of cats… what more can a girl ask for?

Okay so this is a really shitty blurry photo of a peacock-like bird. But I wanted to show it to you so I could tell this story. About 5 seconds after I took this photo I said “wow this bird is like… HUGE. I wonder what he looks like when he flies!!” and then like 3 seconds after that the bird ran away and took flight and totally dusted this chick standing 10 feet behind us who SHRIEKED and hit the ground like someone was shooting at her. I might have laughed my ass off. A lot.

We then saw our first show of the trip, the Flights of Wonder show which was about half an hour long and had somewhere between fifteen and twenty free-flying birds doing tricks. Very cool to watch. After a quick lunch at Yak and Yeti, we decided we were done with the animals (there is really only the African and Asian sections for animals).

We headed to the big tree in the center of the park, which is where the It’s Tough to Be a Bug show was. This was something B loved as a kid and wanted me to see. It was definitely geared for children but it was fun nonetheless. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t been to Disney– but I will say it was something I’d not experienced before and is a really fun (and short) show to see.

Once we were done with the bug show, we decided we were done with Animal Kingdom. If we’d had more time we probably would’ve seen the Festival of the Lion King show which is a 30 minute broadway type show, but it wasn’t important enough to us to delay going to Hollywood Studios. Otherwise there was nothing more we really wanted to see at Animal Kingdom because we don’t do rides and the Dino area seemed totally inundated with kids.

So– off to Hollywood Studios we went! As with Animal Kingdom, we decided quickly what we most wanted to do and headed for that first. That brought us to the Star Tours attraction which is a simulator-type Star Wars thing. I know a simulator might not sound cool, but Disney simulators were way better than any others I’ve ever been on. You do really feel like you’re on a space ship and it was very cool. This is the cool hat-thing at the center of Hollywood Studios. I didn’t take many pictures of the rides or shows because we were too busy doing to stop and take photos!

Next up we did the Studio Backlot Tour which takes you on a bus around fake movie sets and shows you how some of the special effects and stuff work. This was our only real dud of the parks. B said it used to be cooler but it kind of wasn’t worth the half hour we spent on it. What was cool was the building you walk through on your way out of the tour which has real costumes from movie sets. We both really enjoyed looking at them all!

After the tour we went to the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show which was a stadium-type event. It was about a half hour long and showed some amazzzzing stunt driving. It also showed some crazy modifications to cars and how the cars in movies can do some of the things you see them do. I liked the show, but B LOVED it. This was his favorite thing at Hollywood Studios.

(This was the area where they did the car stunts. I didn’t get any photos of the action because I was just watching it, and it was awesome!)

We then headed to the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular which was a smaller show (and mercifully under cover) showing how stunt men work. I thought it was really fun, especially because I’m kind of an Indiana Jones geek.

By the time this show was done it was dinner time and we did the Sci-Fi Drive in Theater for dinner, which took a while. Once we were done it was time to head to the big pavilion to see the nightly show: Fantasmic. I thought it was going to be a fireworks thing, but it was more of a water/laser show with a few fireworks at the end. This wasn’t really my favorite thing of the day, but I’m glad we did it just to say I’d seen it and it is probably worth doing if you’re into Disney characters at all.

And that brings to an end our first full day at Disney! It was over 12 hours and kind of exhausting, but there was definitely no shortage of stuff to do like I’d been concerned about!

    Day 3

Our second full day in the parks began and ended at Epcot. I don’t fully understand what the big golf-ball-ish thing at the center of the park is all about, but it sure was cool looking. Especially in the white-hazy sky we dealt with first thing that morning.

We decided to do the mostly indoor stuff in the morning because it looked like it might rain at any moment, and was actually drizzling on at off. The front half of Epcot is called “future world” and isn’t necessarily futuristic so much as it is random cool stuff that is hard to categorize. The back half of Epcot is all the worlds you generally hear about.

So the first thing we headed for was called Soarin’. You sit in a thing that reminded me of a long ski lift (maybe 8 seats across) with a roller coaster type harness that comes down over you. There are 9 of those lift-type deals that everyone gets sorted into and strapped down in. Once you’re in, you get lifted up and forwards (feet dangling!) into a huuuuge white screen that is shaped like a bowl tipped on its side. So no matter where you look, up down or side to side, all you see is white screen. Then this amazing imax movie plays and your “lift” tilts and moves so it seems like you are flying through the trees, over the ocean, etc. Seriously SO COOL.

Next up we hit the Nemo building. The Nemo ride itself was just okay. Kids would love it and it was a decent place to grab a minute to make out with your husband (who me? lol) but mostly it was just okay. The rest of the building was AWESOME though. I’m kind of a sucker for aquariums, but these were particularly good in my opinion. Check out the real Nemo! And friends! (lol I might be really lame but these were super exciting to me)

We were also super lucky that we just happened to be around at 10am which is when they go into the massively huge (think millions of gallons, the size of a gymnasium) tank and feed the sting ray. I wish I knew how to post videos because I took an awesome one, but all my photos turned out blurry because of the water + darkness + movement + iphone. Sorry!

Once we were done there we went back to the Land Pavilion where we had seen Soarin’ to do the Living with the Land boat ride (through a building) which was all about sustainable food and showing laboratories and green houses that actually supply a lot of the veggies at the Disney World Parks. After lunch in the UK area (which is close to Future World) we headed to the Imagination! Pavillion to do the Figment ride, which was a favorite of B’s from when he was a kid. This was all about how you perceive your five senses and how sometimes our brain fills in gaps for things that we don’t really perceive. It was interesting but we both agreed it was probably cooler when you were about 10 haha.

We decided to go next to another ride we thought might have a line and we wanted to do early, the Mission: Space ride.

We were super excited that there was no line at all so we got to go right in. This is where we made a little bit of an error though. There are two options for this, green line or orange line. The green line is the “mild” version and the orange is the “intense” version. However, this is “just” a simulator (hahahaha yea we were dumb). Even though B gets sick on roller coasters and rides he thought that because it was a simulator he’d be fine and we went through the orange line. Past about five warnings that people who get motion sickness should ask to be moved to the green line. You see where this is going. This ride was, as described, INTENSE. It was as gut-twisting as any roller coaster I’ve ever been on, and I’ve ridden a lot of roller coasters. Let’s just say… it’s a good thing that there were air sickness bags at every seat (this should’ve been about our tenth clue that maybe it was a bad idea). I was okay but B required a bit of sitting after this one– poor guy!

Our primary goal after the Mars ride was to find something that we could sit down in for a while but didn’t move too fast. The Spaceship Earth attraction was just the right thing. This is the ride that is actually inside of the golf-ball type deal.

This is basically the history of mankind that you see on a slow-moving tram type thing that takes you up to the peak of the golf ball thing and then back down again. Once we were done with that, my friend from high school and her boyfriend met us to walk the worlds!! I won’t go through what we saw in every world, but I will say that we stopped in all of them except the US (um, I live here) and Mexico (just ran out of time before our dinner reservation, also? we’ve been there). Mostly the worlds have cool shopping, architecture, and restaurants. A few of them have museum or gallery type buildings and at least one of them (Norway) has a ride, which we did not do. I was mostly in it for the shopping and the food, as it should be in my opinion! Here are a few random photos. Oh also? street performers!

And of course… there were spectacular fireworks at the end of the night.

    Days 4-5

I won’t go through my days 4-5 because B was at his conference and mostly we just hung with my friends, but it is worth mentioning that our hotel had an amazing series of pools (most of them do, if not all), and there is also the COOLEST put-put ever right by Epcot. I don’t remember the name of the place, but it was directly next to the Epcot hotels and it had like… real mini golf. Like golf, but mini. So the greens were something like 100 ft long with actual hills and sand traps and no nice barriers around the edges. And it was HARD. Like… it took us 2.5 hours to play 18 holes hard. Like I laughed so hard I cried at how bad we all sucked, hard. So if you’re into mini golf, I highly recommend it!!

Well… that is it. And maybe my longest post ever at almost three. THOUSAND. words. Wowza. Sorry about that. But I guess it speaks to my point: there is stuff to do at Disney World. Even if you don’t care about Disney characters and you don’t ride roller coasters and you don’t super love the food. You will not be bored! And if you do love all of those things? Even better! I will say that I felt our two days was totally sufficient at the parks. I had no desire to see Magic Kingdom since from what I hear it is mostly roller coasters, characters, and kids… so that did help with the briefness. I’d say if I wanted to really fully see all the parks, 4 days would be more than enough. I’m not really sure what people do when they go for like… 7-10 days… but I guess things probably take longer with kids and/or when it is a lot busier. And thus ends my Disney reviews… WHEW.

**Might seem kind of weird that I just got this awesome new camera then went on vacation and only took iPhone pics. Nope, didn’t forget the camera… actually chose not to take it. I knew this vacation was going to be a lot of being hot (Florida in early September!) and a lot of walking, at least some rides that would require me to leave my personal belongings off my person, and possibly some rain. Mostly, I just did not want to stress about my camera or have to lug it around for two days. I wanted to just be present and enjoy myself and actually planned to NOT take pictures. Except I’m me and I had my phone in my pocket, so obviously I ended up taking like 150 photos anyways. Ah well!


Mom’s pasta sauce

Unfortunately no photos to go along with this recipe because I wasn’t planning on keeping it! My parents were in town this weekend and my mom made us dinner last night with an awesome (and healthy) pasta sauce. I didn’t want to forget how she made it so I thought I ought to write it down somewhere I won’t lose it. This seemed as good a place as any.

2 tbspn olive oil
1 large onion
3 peppers
2 cloves garlic
2 large cans San Marzano whole tomatoes
salt, italian seasoning, red chili pepper to taste
lots of fresh basil

Dice onion and three peppers and saute in olive oil about ten minutes. Add garlic (I’d add more but my dad doesn’t love garlic) and saute another few minutes. Add the two cans of tomatoes and chop up the whole tomatoes a bit with the spatula (they fall apart easily). Add salt italian seasoning, and red chili pepper flakes. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 1 hour. Add lots of julienned fresh basil right before serving. So good!

Disney Hotels

Okay– so one more not-so-glowing post then I’ll get to the good stuff (the actual Disney’ing!).

We had the chance to stay at two different hotels while at Disney. The reason we did that was because B’s work had booked us at the Yacht club for the three nights surrounding his conference. The room we were booked for (a standard room with Lagoon view) was running for $465/night for the two extra nights we were staying… so obviously we wanted to find a cheaper option.

Disney divides its resorts into three categories: Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. Deluxe was basically more than we wanted to pay, but we knew that the Value resorts were the haven of families with a lot of kids. Moderate resorts it was!

Based on its proximity to Animal Kingdom and the fact that B hadn’t stayed there before (and wanted to try something new), we decided on Coronado Springs. Standard rate for the room was $179/night although we were able to book through expedia.com for $158/night.

I’ll cut to the chase. I really didn’t like this hotel. The resort was huuuuuuuge. There is a central area where you check in with restaurants and whatnot, then separate buildings spread out around a 15 acre lake. To get from check-in to our room was over half a mile walk (literally) through the grounds with no shade, with our bags, and with no offer of anyone to help us there. We never even checked out the restaurants or anything else in the central building because after walking around during the day the last thing we wanted to do was walk another mile+ round trip.

Not only that but the room was… unimpressive. Just really old seeming and not super clean. It reminded me of a not-super-well-maintained best western. I mean, I guess it was not super expensive so what did we expect? Except being the “mid level” resort I thought it would be nicer. At least clean and comfortable. But anyways– I was super glad to get out of there after two nights.

Next up was Yacht Club. I was SUPER excited to stay at this hotel because being that it was so expensive I’d figure it would be really nice (and I really like really nice hotels!!). And I will say, Disney is great when it comes to moving hotels. We were able to call a bell person at Coronado Springs to grab our bags before we left for the day Sunday and they transferred them to Yacht Club for us while we were at the parks. That was super convenient and made our day so much easier knowing that we just had to show up at Yacht Club and our stuff would be there waiting.

Yacht Club hotel was more like a traditional hotel, all in one building, and it was super pretty. The lobby was gorgeous and they had a ton of people just standing around waiting to help you with anything you needed. Big score there. My very favorite thing about the hotel though was our view. We had a small balcony looking out over the lagoon (a balcony with a view is my FAVORITE thing to have on vacation because I love hanging out there and reading).

The room stuck to the theme well.. very nautical. Ahoy matey.

(Note: At Disney 2 queen beds seems to be the default. I guess it makes sense since it is geared towards families. Not my favorite but not a big deal)

The bathroom area had the sinks in a separate nook which was kind of nice (and had two sinks instead of the 1 at Coronado Springs).

But… the bathroom. On the plus side, it had nice finishes like white marble on the floors and tub surround. Plus it was clean! But it was the exact same TINY size as the one Coronado Springs. Like, when the door swung open it almost hit the toilet small. Like, had to almost stand in the tub to open the bathroom door small.

More surprising to me was just the lack of attention to detail/oldness. Like chipping paint on doors, super old doorknobs, or really dirty/gross outlets:

Maybe that is totally petty. It probably is, I guess. But #1- This is a really expensive hotel so wouldn’t you think it’d be really nice top to bottom? And #2- Little stuff like that always makes me a little concerned about over-all cleanliness/upkeep.

I mean, over all I liked Yacht Club. The bathroom was clean, we had a great balcony with a view, the room was relatively comfortable, and the staff was really nice. The problem, I guess, is that it is kind of the bare minimum for what I expect in a hotel for vacation. And it is f*(&cking EXPENSIVE! If it was $200 or $250 a night even I’d not have too much to say about it. It would seem like a standard mid-priced hotel room and it’d be fine. But due to the price, I just expect more. A lot more.

Maybe the problem is that I’ve been spoiled. As I’ve mentioned before, we stayed in an amazing and spacious (and super reasonably priced) resort in Mexico that I loved. It had a ton of room, a balcony with Ocean view, free beverages, and luxury linens on a King bed. For a fraction of the price. We stayed in a resort in Hawaii… again with a spacious and beautiful (and clean) bathroom, king bed with nice linens, balcony and ocean view… for a fraction of the price. We also got the chance to stay in the St. Regis in Atlanta for a wedding we were attending (where the normal room rate was about what Yacht Club’s is) and it was amazzzzing. True luxury.

So yea… I was just surprised. And kind of bummed out that seemingly the only option for staying at Disney if I want to feel comfortable would run us over $450/night. But it is what it is, and I’m at least grateful that I did like Yacht Club and was comfortable staying there the last few days of our stay (and that we didn’t have to pay for it haha)

Next up (finally!!!!!) the what-we-did!

Croc convert

Bonus double-post today because I had a quick update I was just reminded about. About a month ago I mentioned that I bought a pair of crocs online. I was cringing because they were crocs, which is like what soccer moms wear. But they looked cute and I really needed some comfy shoes for Disney.

Verdict? LOVE THEM.

I tested them out the two weekends before Disney by wearing them for two weddings I shot. The first had me on my feet for about 9 hours and the second one 10. Both times my feet didn’t hurt at ALL which is very rare for me (I blame having a mostly sedentary job, when I was a server I could wear just about any shoes for 12-16 hours and be fine but now my feet inevitably hurt at the 6 hour mark).

But still, Disney was the test. We did about 5 hours of wandering around on Friday night, 13 hours in the parks on Saturday, and 13 hours on Sunday. That is a LOT of walking around! But my feet really didn’t even start to hurt until around dinner time on Sunday. Even then, after sitting down to dinner for an hour or so I was ready to get up and keep walking around the rest of the evening.

So I’m calling myself an official crocs convert. I’m not sure I’m ready to run out and buy the classic version quite yet, but I will definitely be adding these shoes to my favorites pile and will be shopping at crocs first the next time I need some super comfy shoes!

Disney Dining

I’m back! I know I wrote a whole thing about being an inconsistent blogger then promptly disappeared for like 2.5 weeks but hey… it happens. Especially because I have had a CRAZY few weeks. Labor day weekend took me to St. Louis to second-shoot a wedding with a photographer friend then after a quick few days of work I was off to Disney World!

So yea, how did that happen? Especially for a girl like me who had never been to Walt Disney World before and had no interest in ever going? Well, B got sent to a conference there (so random, right?) and his work suggested that people bring their families. He has always loved WDW so it seemed like a good time to go, when someone else was paying for at least part of it. So we planned our trip to arrive on Friday afternoon, and have Friday night-Sunday night to ourselves to do the parks before the conference started Monday.

Being that I had never been to WDW before, or had much interest in going, I really didn’t know much about it. My biggest question before we went was always… but what do you DO there?? I just didn’t understand what people without kids would want with a kid’s park. Obviously, I found out! But I have to say that overall the experience of going to WDW was surprising. In some ways good, in some ways bad, but definitely over-all not what I expected. So I thought I’d write a few posts on that. The most logical way to organize it, I think, is to talk about the “doing stuff” part, the “where we ate” part, and the “where we stayed” part. I want to save the “doing stuff” part for last because it will definitely be my most positive post and I like to end on a good note. I’m going to do the where we ate part first because it doesn’t require me to upload any photos from my phone (I left my camera at home!) and I’m feeling lazy.

So. The food. Whenever I would ask B about what a person DOES at Disney World when they don’t have kids, his default answer was to talk about the amaaaazing food. Which never quite seemed to be an answer because surely you do things other than eat, right? (you do). But nevertheless he really set my expectations high with all his excitement over Disney food. Admittedly, this was probably a big part of my problem with the food. It’s like when you hear how awesome a movie is from EVERYONE and then you see it and you’re like… okay? I mean… it was good? I guess? Even though you probably would’ve liked it just fine if no one had told you how much you were going to love it.

So yea. Overall I was unimpressed with the food. As was B, actually. When we got home finally last night and realized we were hungry and had no food for dinner we ordered Jimmy John’s because they deliver and are somewhat healthy. And B declared it the best food he had eaten in days. So I guess that tells you something haha.

But it was not all bad. I’ll go through the places we ate and what we thought. **Note** if you don’t really care about the food at Disney feel free to click away because this is a whole lot of words about food. lol.

    Day 1:

Lunch/Dinner – Rainforest Cafe
After checking into our hotel on Friday, we headed straight for Downtown Disney. Rainforest Cafe was a place B remembered from his childhood trips and was super excited to go back to. They serve normal American variety type food. Hamburgers, salads, fish, tex mex, etc. We got nachos as an appetizer (which were pretty good), I got southwestern eggrolls for my lunch, and B got a seafood platter that had shrimp, scallops, and fish. My eggrolls were just okay (not as good as the ones at Chili’s or Longhorn, but okay), but B looooved his shrimp. He said it was the best thing he ate the whole week. The decor here was really fun (moving elephants and apes!) and the service was really good as well. It did end up being expensive (about $80 with tip), but we were pretty pleased because we liked our food okay, the service was good, and it was a cool place. Also the portions were huge… which is why we never ate dinner (too full all afternoon!).

    Day 2

Breakfast- we each ate protein bars. We hate paying for breakfast so we brought them from home.

Lunch – Yak and Yeti Restaurant at Animal Kingdom
By lunch on day 2 we found ourselves in the Animal Kingdom and we had my favorite meal of the trip. Yak and Yeti is an asian restaurant (found conveniently in the asian section of the park!) with a somewhat small but inventive menu. At first I was nervous because they didn’t have my asian go-to safety foods like General Tso’s or Kung Pao, but I ended up with the Bourban Chicken and it was FANTASTIC. B got the Maple Chicken (another new dish to us) and he loved his as well. Best yet, the server suggested we try the fried wontons dessert (fried cream cheese wontons with grilled pineapple and vanilla ice cream) and it was out of this world. Add good service and a restaurant filled with authentic artifacts and this was easily my favorite restaurant of the trip. Price for lunch was $62 with tip, which seemed completely reasonable to me for the quality of food we got.

Dinner – Sci Fi Dine-In Theater
Dinner on Day 2 was had in Hollywood Studios and we chose the Sci Fi Dine-In Theater because B remembered that you get to eat in cars and it reminded him of Pulp Fiction haha. The restaurant itself was really cool. You do get to eat in a car and the inside of the place looks just like you’re outside watching a drive-in movie. The food was…. ok. I’d say about on par with what you would get at Steak and Shake. The service though was TERRIBLE. I won’t get into details… but yea. Really really bad. At $42 (which included a less-than-usual tip to reflect that horrible service) this place seemed pretty overpriced for what we got (B got a hamburger and I got a side salad— we split an order of onion rings). Especially in comparison to our awesome lunch. So we were disappointed.

    Day 3

Breakfast– energy bars again from home

Lunch- Rose and Crown Pub in United Kingdom (Epcot)
On our second and last day in the parks we decided on the Rose and Crown Pub for lunch. Honestly it was at least partly because it was pouring at that point and we wanted to go somewhere close, but also the map said they did fish and chips which B was excited about. Once we got there I was surprised they didn’t really have much chicken on the menu (I don’t do seafood at all and I prefer not to eat red meat). I ended up going with a burger and “chips” (fries) for lack of other options, and B decided to go with the Ploughman’s lunch because it sounded the most authentic. My burger was pretty good, for being a burger, and it came with a fried pickle which was awesome. B’s lunch was weird (cold ham and a cold piece of grilled chicken with a chunk of cheese and a hardboiled egg) but that was kind of his own fault for ordering something weird. Our server was nice and we had a great view of the lake. Lunch was $40 including tip which seemed a little expensive for what it was but not bad considering it was at WDW (which you just expect to be more expensive). We were fine with this lunch– not wow’d but it was okay.

Snack – Boulangerie Patisserie – France (Epcot)
We couldn’t walk through France without getting a pastry, so we stopped for a cream puff (B) and a napolean (me). Really good and not a bad price at just under $10 for both.

Dinner – Via Napoli – Italy (Epcot)
This was the nicest restaurant we ate it during our stay. My best friend from high school lives in Orlando with her boyfriend and they had met up with us at this point, so there were four dining. We got Sangria (red and white) and blood orange soda for B. All of them were great. For appetizers we got calamari (I thought was chewy but the boys loved it) and Arancini (which was very good). For dinner B and I split a quattro formaggi pizza and our friends got Veal parmigiana and a veggie pizza. Everything was quite good. The best part though, in my opinion, was the service. My friend has egg and milk allergies and also does not eat meat… which can make dining out a challenge (she is basically vegan except that she eats fish). When she told the waiter he immediately brought the manager over who was incredibly nice and talked my friend through the menu and gave her a ton of options/alterations that could be made to accommodate her. Really great service! I’m not sure how much this meal cost because our friends ended up refusing to let us pay, but I think it was probably somewhere north of $150.

    Day 4

Breakfast- Beach Club Marketplace
I had run out of protein bars at this point, and there wasn’t a place for cheap breakfast (or even to buy a granola bar) in our hotel, so I walked to the Beach Club resort to go to the marketplace. It was kind of akin to a dorm cafeteria. There were a few things you could get hot (eggs mostly) and otherwise lots of cereal and easy to pick up things. I got a yogurt parfait, a banana, and a coffee. It cost about $9, and I took it back to the room. The parfait was terrible, but the coffee was great.

Lunch – I went to downtown Orlando with my friend while B was at his conference and we ate at a vegan place, but it is so far out of the way I don’t think most people would generally go there anyways!

Dinner – Big River Grille and Brewing Works
We picked this for dinner because it was the most convenient option to our hotel (Yacht Club) and we didn’t get back from our night’s activities until 9:30pm so we just wanted food and fast! It was fine. I got chicken nachos, both of the boys got ribs, and my friend got chips and guacamole. It wasn’t anything special or particularly good but it was food, brought promptly, in large quantity, and with good service. Which is pretty much all we were looking for at the time. It was $100 for all four of us including tip, which seemed reasonable for what we got considering it was a vacation-location restaurant (i.e. overpriced).

    Day 5

Breakfast – Beach Club Marketplace
For $6.50 I got coffee, a bagel and cream cheese, and a banana. Works for me.

Lunch– Out in Orlando with my friend again

Dinner – Wolfgang Puck Cafe in Downtown Disney
B had been super excited to try this place since before we left for our trip. We meant to eat there for dinner our first night but had been too full due to the Rainforest Cafe lunch. Considering how excited he was, it was kind of a big disappointment. Our friends got sushi which they said were good, and then also got tortilla soup and bacon wrapped meatloaf (friend’s boyfriend). My friend ordered sushi as her meal but they brought it out as an appetizer. B ordered the seabass and I got a goat cheese and pesto pizza. We pretty much all agreed that the food was “just okay.” Nothing we’d return to eat again. Most disappointing was the service though. Our server was all over the place, kept forgetting things (I had to ask 3 times to get a glass of water to drink!), didn’t know the menu (had to keep going to check if something had egg or milk in it), and brought things out at random times. She also never came back to check on us, which was disappointing because after my friend ate her sushi dinner (which came before everything else we got) she was still hungry and wanted something else but had no one to ask! We finally waived down a manager who had no idea what was vegan-friendly and my friend just ended up asking for some plain cooked pizza dough with a side of marinara sauce. Which they burnt. Dinner was $60 for B and I.

    Day 6

Breakfast- Boardwalk Bakery
I wanted to try something different so I walked a bit further to the Boardwalk Bakery. For $11 I got coffee, a croissant egg and cheese sandwich, and an eclair. All three items were bad and I was sad I didn’t go back to the marketplace haha.

Lunch – ESPN Club
Our last meal! We had about 1.5 hours to kill between when we had to be out of our room and when the bus was picking us up for the airport, so we headed over to the Boardwalk for lunch. We had not liked the Big River Grille enough to eat there again, so we thought ESPN Club/bar food would be fine. It was… bad. B got a steak sandwich that he said was just completely flavorless, and I got a buffalo chicken sandwich that tasted like fast food (really thin/gross chicken patty). And the service was pretty bad. Total failure haha. At least it was pretty cheap, coming in at about $35 for both of us.

So… that is way too many words about food. But hopefully someone googling for restaurant reviews is helped, or if someone who reads here is planning a trip to Disney they’ll have our perspective on some of the food options. Over all, like I said above, we were disappointed. B isn’t quite sure why he remembered the food at disney to be so good, except that the last time he was there was when he was a teenager so maybe he just didn’t know any better. Plus it was always a week off from his dad’s cooking! hah. We did eat at some good places (Yak and Yeti yummmmm) but mostly we just thought we can get a lot better food at home for a lot less money, so I would not call food an “attraction” so much as mostly a necessary evil at WDW.

Next up… where we stayed! And after that (in a MUCH more positive post)– what we did!