A Teenager’s Point of View, by Benjamin, 13 part one

 

The Crystal Palace is a buffet, but it still has nice service. The characters are extremely friendly. Most of the food was everyday, there was barely anything fancy or unusual. and they had soft serve Ice Cream.

Ohana: If you leave here hungry there’s something wrong with you!  your “cousins” will bring you endless platters of food. I especially liked the honey coriander chicken and the pork fried dumpling.

Yak and Yeti: I didn’t really like this restaurant and it’s not because of the name. Though it may have been our waiter, we waited to be seated even though we were on time.

Rose and Crown Pub:  I give this restaurant 5 million stars!  It gets my vote for best restaurant in EPCOT.  We got fabulous service, and the food was great! I personally ordered the Fish and Chips (french fries) and loved them!  And when it was time for Illuminations! they took us to their personal viewing area.

And, speaking of Illuminations! the fireworks are great!  There are flamethrowers so intense you could roast marshmallows, and there are fireworks launchers right in front of you that so loud that my ears are still ringing.

More to come…

 

Restaurant Review

By Taste                                                                               By Service

  1. Ohana                                                                   1.  Ohana
  2. 1900 Park Fare                                                   2.  Rose and Crown
  3. Le Cellier                                                              3.  Brown Derby
  4. Yak and Yeti                                                        4.  Crystal Palace
  5. Rose and Crown                                                 5.  Le Cellier
  6. 50s Prime Time                                                  6.  50s Prime Time
  7. Brown Derby                                                       7.  Yak and Yeti
  8. Crystal Palace                                                     8.  1900 Park Fare

Ohana really stands out in both food quality and level of service. From the moment we were welcomed into the restaurant we felt like we were special.  Of course, as part of the show everyone was called ‘cousin’. So we were treated well by Cousin Chris. He was attentive without being overbearing.  The food was excellent from the Chicken Wings, to the Pork and Beef from the hardwood fire, there wasn’t a bad tasting item to be found. And my wife could not get enough of the shrimp. She practically consumed a complete skewer on her own. Our drinks were kept full and the general atmosphere was fun! The coconut race was fun to watch, also.

Items 2 – 7 on taste are virtual draw. All of the food in these restaurants were better than expected and lived up to the reviews I have seen before on both Disney Parks Food Blog and from the Liners.

Rose and Crown stands out a bit on service because of the time of our meal. We purposely chose a time after 7pm with the intent to see Illuminations from there. Our server, Amelia, did not disappoint. She suggested we hold our dessert until after the show and then escorted us to the patio to view the fireworks. We could not have asked for a better seat!

The food at the Crystal Palace was much like our local Hometown Buffet. There was nothing special about the food or the presentation.  However, our server, Kip, made up the difference. He not only interacted with his guests, he interacted with the characters as they came by our area. We sat Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger. For characters, big yes.  For food, maybe not.

Brown Derby was a special event, ‘Dine with an Imagineer’.  The meal was very good, but don’t ask me to tell you what it all was. I can’t pronounce most of the dishes…lol.  The meat was cooked the way I ordered and the soup was very good.  We were really focused on the conversation, so didn’t really pay attention to the food.  Take your kids to this, it will be worth it!

The only Counter Service I want to comment on is Wolfgang Puck’s Express at Downtown Disney. I had the Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with potatoes and it was very good.  The food in general seemed to be well prepared, however the service was somewhat below what I would expect with the name attached to it.  The cashier was rude and curt. He didn’t seem at all concerned about what we really wanted to order, we were kind of pushed through the line and then he made comments to my son that I felt were beyond his responsibility.

We were on the Standard Disney Dining Plan that included one Table Service, one Counter Service and one Snack per person per day.  It was part of the FREE promotion which makes its value a bit higher. Up front I would say we saved about $1500 by not paying for the plan. I do not yet have the real numbers of what we would have spent, but I can tell by looking at the original receipts that we would have paid a bundle out of pocket.

I would love to hear your feedback or comments…please respond to this blog openly.  Thank you!!

My son’s review will be up tomorrow.

Vacation…a week in review

Our vacation started better than expected. Our flight was early into MCO and our room was ready at Port Orleans Resort – Riverside when we got there. I had sent a letter, via US Mail, requesting Building 14 if possible or at least a refurbished room. We got Building 14 as requested and couldn’t have been happier with the accommodation. I highly recommend this resort for families with 5 people in them. My son slept on the pull out bed and slept quite well.  The queen sized beds were very comfortable and it was nice having access to two sinks while someone grabbed a shower.

Our transportation experience was fabulous. We used Magical Express from the airport and were at our hotel around 11am.  We used the Disney Transportation System to get to all of the parks with very little waiting time.  In most cases, we were on a bus within 10 minutes, and often quicker. Returning from the parks had a slightly longer wait a few times, but no more than the stated 20 minutes.  Overall, I would say we had an excellent experience. We even had a driver take time to help us locate a backpack that was left at our resort bus depot.  They found it and we were able to pick it up later in the day. Bravo! The coolest form of transportation for us was the boat from Port Orleans to Downtown Disney.  The ride was about 20 minutes long and quite informative.  The boat pilot was friendly and talkative, which made it easy to know what we had to do later.

Our meals were varied in quality and experience.  I will be giving my ratings on that in a separate post, but my son has decided he’d like to do one, also, from the viewpoint of a teenager. I think that may have some use for some of my Liner buddies and others. I will say this, if you are on any of the dining plans, above the Quick Service plan, don’t have any groceries delivered.  There is so much food on the plan, that you can make meals out of snacks if you really want to.  We were on the ‘free’ plan plus dining and made complete use of all the credits.  All in all, if you get it free, it’s worth it.  I will post some real number in the next few days.

Just watching a little Disney XD

We had interaction with our weekday Mousekeeper, but the weekend was just basic service. I’m okay with that, but the weekend Mousekeeper missed out. My kids developed a way of communicating with the Mousekeeper through notes, and animal messages.  It was fun to watch and I took some photos to show some of that interaction.  The pool at Port Orleans – Riverside is nice. Not too big, not too small, and not very deep, this is good for the kids.  There is a slide into the pool that even my wife enjoyed.  And, we got to see Yeehaa Bob Jackson at the River Roost Lounge.  He is fun and worth the time! We topped off our stay with a carriage ride around the Riverside and French Quarter areas of Port Orleans.  A nice ride and a good look at the resort areas.

The only thing I can really complain about is the Photopass photographers.  They were in the assigned spots, most of the time. But, it seems to me that they could stand to have some roamers to catch some candid shots. We had one do that with my son as he was enjoying the interactive queue at Winnie the Pooh. But, he seems to be the exception. I prepaid the Photopass CD, so I will go ahead and get the pictures, but including the park pictures they put on the CD, we have a total of 84. Seem a little bit of a waste to me.  Next time, I’ll just ask them to take their pictures with my camera.  By the way, my pictures came out pretty good, too. But, there is a limit as to how many you can upload to the Photopass site, 160.

Well, look forward to my restaurant reviews and hopefully my son will get his done soon, also.

No countdown, officially, but I’m trying to put something small together for my birthday in December for me and my wife. So, maybe????

For our last act…Disney’s Hollywood Studios

 

We spent our last day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Ruth ran to Toy Story Mania and obtained our FastPasses, and then we went ahead and rode TSM since the wait time was only 10 minutes. This is a really cool ride with a 3D view.  This is a fun ride, but also very popular. Grab your FPs when you get in the park or you may have a really long wait for a ride.

While I wandered the streets of the studio, Ruth got FPs for Rockin Rollercoaster and then she and the girls went to Tower of Terror. I found the artistry of the streets to be quite interesting and a remarkable likeness to what I remember seeing in old films and pictures.

After using our FastPasses for TSM, we moved on to the Backlot Tour. This was a really nice view of some of the magic used to make blockbuster hits. The tanker explosion was a bit unnerving, but exciting at the same time.  While I can see where it could be expanded and enhanced, this tour is a dedication to the effects artists who cause these films to come to life.

Our next stop was the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. A show filled with action, explosions, gunfire, and sound effects. It was fun reliving the movie, but also seeing how stunts are carefully planned and executed by professionals who take time to rehearse each scene before it get put to film.  All of the moves in this show are carefully choreographed with actions and reactions to make it look real in the movies. The stunt doubles are convincing as the real people while performing the stunts.

It was time to grab a snack, so we went to Starring Roles. I got the Butterfinger Cupcake which was very good and very rich. I guess you don’t eat at Disney with thoughts of losing weight. Ruth got a sandwich that was very good and seemed fairly healthy.  We all enjoyed sharing our snacks among the family.

After grabbing FPs for Star Tours and went to see Lights! Motors! Action!  That was quite a fun show to watch.  It’s about a film crew putting together the chase scenes for an action film. These cars are compact, lightweight, and fast.  The combinations of stunts were fabulous and it was an adrenalin rush to watch. And, the finale was intense.  Take the kids for this show, it will be worth it!

A ride on Rockin Rollercoaster for Ruth and Abigail, it was time to for our last event of the day, Beauty and The Beast, a fine Broadway style presentation that does the Disney Classic well. The music caused some good memories and a few tears to fill my eyes.

I DON'T WANT TO GO

We returned to our hotel for our last supper of this vacation and it was off to the Orlando International Airport for our flight home.  We truly enjoyed our stay and I will have a vacation in review posting in a few days.

Day 7, return to the Magic Kingdom

Wednesday began with a really nice breakfast at 1900 Park Fare where we were entertained by Pooh and Tigger. Mary Poppins popped in for a visit, as did Alice and the Mad Hatter.  The buffet was very good and filling.  Definitely would recommend this for families. Worth the time AND on the resort monorail line one stop from the Magic Kingdom.

After breakfast, we headed to the Magic Kingdom for one last ride on everyone’s favorites. We entered just after rope drop.  My son and I headed straight to Pirates of the Caribbean while my wife and daughters went for FastPasses to Pooh. We met up at The Haunted Mansion. The girls had already ridden, but jumped in line to join us. After the Mansion, my son went back to the hotel for some much needed rest while the rest of us finished our time at MK.

We had one more ride on It’s a Small World and went back to Pooh. We finished up Fantasyland with a ride on Peter Pan. Ruth ran for Space Mountain FastPasses while the girls and I went to Mickey’s Philharmagic for some 3D entertainment.

To our surprise, the Liberty Belle Riverboat opened after refurbishment, so we hopped on for a ride around Tom Sawyers Island. The boat looked great and the trip was a nice little break. It proves that a real classic can seem new again.

Another ride through Pirates with my girls, and we were off to Tomorrowland. Ruth and Abigail went to cash in the Space Mountain FPs, while Rebekah and I rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover. A second ride on the TTA, once joined by my coaster lovers, and it was time to find something to eat.

We wandered up to the Main Street Bakery for some snacks. May I say, really YUMMY snacks? Abigail and I had the Cinnamon Rolls (Delish), Rebekah had an Oreo Cupcake, and Ruth had a brownie. I don’t think any of us left hungry. We walked around Main Street one last time and left to spend some time at the Port Orleans – Riverside Resort in the pool and hot tub.

The finale to our day was a carriage ride with all the kids to celebrate, a bit early, our 15th Anniversary. It was a beautiful look at both Riverside, and Port Orleans – French Quarter, a resort patterned after the famed area of New Orleans. Narrow roads, and compact appearing buildings really set this resort apart.  It was an incredibly nice ride.

All-in-all, a nice day that will hold many memories.

Exploration EPCOT, the Sequel

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Well what can I say? I love EPCOT. It is without a doubt my favorite park. You just never know what you will run into. I saw more stuff by accident then I was able to see on purpose two days ago. Above is Jammitors, a group of trash. An trophy of trash can percussionists with a unique sense of style and a good beat.

We spent our Extra Magic Hour on Test Track. Can I just say HOLD ON TIGHT that last mile or two! It takes you through a series of system checks and then Boom! you go flying with a bit of a twist and turn. This ride is not for the weak. But, I’ll be back next trip. Sidebar, Test Track will begin a lengthy refit next month while they change from the General Motors sponsorship to specifically Chevrolet. They have already changed out the display vehicles. See…

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If only…never mind.

We had breakfast at Sunshine Seasons. It was you basic food fare, but filling. Then back to Nemo for another visit before heading to World Showcase to finish our around the world whirlwind tour. Instead of typing a bunch, here’s out travels in pictures…

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Germany

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Italy

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Fife and Drum at the American Adventure.
Now, I need to park here for a moment. The American Adventure is still my favorite pavilion at WS.  I assure you that the patriotic theme of all that is presented here will tug at the hearts of everyone that calls themselves an American. Please don’t blow past this plan e when you visit EPCOT.

From here we began our trek back to Canada for lunch at Le Cellier. Definately in my top 3 for table service so far. It was a two hour break, but it was impressive quality of food and outstanding service from Marinas.

Back to our touring…

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China is absolutely beautiful! The Circlevision film takes you through the country with breathtaking scenery and a unique look at the boldness of old traditions with new ways. And, don’t miss the warrior exhibit next to the theater. It is worth an extra few minutes.

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Norway featuring Maelstrom, a floating tour of the history and culture of the Vikings. The ride is pretty tame and ends with a brief film on today’s Norwegian.

And finally…Mexico, which I somehow neglected to get a picture. The Grant Fiesta with the Three Cabelleros was very entertaining and soaked some memories of the film. I laughed several times while noticing the Mexican influence in the decor.
I finally got to ride Ellen’s Energy Adventure. An evolutiont approach to the development of all that fuels our world. I enjoyed the history, thought the overall presentation was boring.

A parting ride on Spaceship Earth and it’s time to say good-bye to EPCOT for this trip. Good-bye old friend:(