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:(

Hard Target Hollywood Studios

Monday was our first ever visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While I entered the Sprint to Toy Story Mania, DW and kids shot to Rock-N-Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror. I went to see Walt Disney “One Man’s Dream”. It is a fascinating look at the life, decisions, and affects Walt’s life had on society and entertainment.

We brought the family back together and moved on to The Great Movie ride. What a wonderful look at some of the classic flicks that have stood the test of time. I have to say that the “Public Enemy” scene was a bit corny, but also funny. And, the “Wizard of Oz” is a great way to close the ride out.

By now, it was time for my DS13 and I to head to the Hollywood Brown Derby for our special event, “Dine with an Imagineer”. We met with seven other guests and Mr. Tim MacCallister. Tim is in charge of the sign fabrication projects around WDW and is also watching over the DTD district projects. At first, I thought it would be boring, but it turned out to be a very nice event. I would suggest you consider doing this on your next visit. The food was very good, also.

My DW and DDs roamed the Streets of America, and the headed TP the 50s Prime Time Cafe. She reported that the food and service were very good. She particularly liked the theming and the way the staff interacted with guests. She found quite entertaining.

We aquired FPs for Star Tours and then met up to ride Toy Story. It was an excellent comination of ride and game. With each different scene, we got better at shooting the targets. This is a ‘must go back and do it again’ attraction.

We walked around to get familiar with the rest of DHS and then cashed in our Star Tours FPs.  It wasn’t what I expected. I had a little problem with the movements, I think I have a bit of a cold, but I enjoyed the overall experience. It is obvious that a lot of time, thought, and George Lucas went into the refit of this ride.

We decided to head back to our resort for a much needed away from the parks break. And then, we jumped on a boat to the Downtown Disney Complex. The ride down the Sassagoula was peaceful and ft he boat pilot was infomative about the other resorts and recreation areas along the way. The kids enjoyed the Lego Store before we went to Wolfgang Puck Express for dinner. Try the Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf! Can you say ‘YUMMY’!  A tour of the World of Disney store and I was done!

DD9 and I hopped on a bus and rode back to our resort. The others collard behind about a half hour later.

We will be headed to EPCOT for a second day tomorrow, the Studios again on Wednesday. And will end this journey where we began, The Magic Kingdom.

Exploration EPCOT

Our day began by arriving to the park just as the welcome was finishing up, and then the gates were opened. We headed directly to Soarin’ for a walk-on experience. I knew then, that this was going to be a good day! What a thrill to see the California scenery, smell the different aromas, and have the sense of free flight. I agree with my friend, Liners, it needs updated. But, my first experience leaves me hoping for more.

From there we went right onto Living With The Land. It was a good ride-through with some history of the taming of the land, to preserving the land by choosing more natural methods to farm.  And, the alternative growing methods being used at EPCOT greenhouses are quite something to see.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends had me all clammed up. And, getting glimpses of the huge tank had a stunning effect on the ride. Turtle Talk with Crush is amazing with the interaction of guests, mostly kids. I suspect that enhanced the experience for those kids. It was totally awesome, Dudes!

Then we split up for a short time. My DW took the bookends back to Soarin’ on a FastPass, and I took DD11 to MY favorite ride, Spaceship Earth. I have only heard the Walter Cronkite version before, and miss him. However, Judi Dench does a fine job, as well. I liked most of the changes since I was last here.

Met up either the rest of the family at the entrance to the World Showcase, where we took a much needed lunch break. Then we began our world tour in Japan. We got the girls KidCot Passports to enhance their interest. Morocco was next with stunning carpeted, jewelry, and, of course, Fez hats.

Ahhhh, France! A good time to be had, especially DS13. He was part of the Serveur Amusant shoe near Le Chefs. Funny, engaging, and amazing. One guys does all his commands with a whistle (ans my son listened, AMAZING), the younger gentleman balanced himself on top of several chair that put him slightly above the restaurant roofline. After we saw Impressions de France, we jumped on Friendship 8 for a ride back to Future World.

We all took a ride on SSE this time, DW and DD9, went a second time. A little time in Project Tomorrow was quite enjoyable. The technologies they talk about are amazing and the kids really enjoyed the hands-on aspect. I would recommend this for some time out of the Florida sun.

Since we were way ahead of schedule, we took a little over an hour snack break and sat by the Edy’s Ice Cream Shop (packed). People do some interesting stuff when they don’t know they’re being watched. The fountain was nice and relaxing, too.

We ad-libbed an add-on to our plan, and boarded Mission: Space – Green. It was really cool! However, I don’t think I’m an Orange kind of guy. Orange might just make ME green!

We went to Canada to watch Off Kilter, a Celtic band that ended this show with “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”. It was a really good experience ANC I would suggest seeing this on future trips. O Canada was stunning, funny, and breath-taking. I loved the original show from 1982, but this one has merits of it’s own. We eat at Le Cellier on Tuesday.

Finally, it was time to check into The Rose and Crown for dinner. While we waited, we strolled the UK for a bit. DW got some tea at the Twining shop. We were seated for our meal and served by the beautiful Amelia. She was attentive, without going overboard. The Fish and Chips were worth the six month wait. DW got the Shepherd’s pie, and one daughter braved the Bangers and Mash. At a few minutes to 9, after an hour of so of pouring rain, Amelia showed us to a private viewing patio for Illuminations! What a fabulous view we had of a spectacular display. And, a great way to end our first day at EPCOT! We return here in two days time.

Tomorrow, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Dine with an Imagineer. Wonder if I can get any Avatar

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Operation Animal Kingdom

We made an early run at Animal Kingdom today. It was quiet, at first. Another testimony about the importance of making Rope Drop. During the stroll through the Oasis, we came upon several species of Macaw, an Iguana that was huge, and an anteater just to name a few. We made our way to Kilimanjaro Safari where we were almost immediately boarded for a jungle trek across African wildlife habitats. We saw rare Rhinos, some Giraffe, elephants, lions, cheetahs, and a host of other animals indigenous to the continent.

Similar was an interesting time. Primeval Whirl was a big hit with the kids riding it three times. TriceriTop Spin was fun for a few rides, and Dinosaur was quite an unexpected thrill with all the quick turns and simulated road conditions.

Off to Expedition Everest, which the wife snuck a ride while getting FastPasses, for the ladies of the family. She caught a few more rides later in the day by using the Single rider lane. A ride on the Wildlife Express brought us to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. The “hospital” is really something quite special. The return train ride brought back just in time to head to Yak and Yeti for lunch. The meals were abundant, but the service was nothing out of the ordinary.

We finished the day out with a meet up of some special Liner friends for the Yeehaa Bob Show. The show was really good. Bob is an talented, and somewhat off the cuff, performer with a clean, family safe presentation. If you come to WDW, make the time to see his show Wednesday – Saturday starting at 8:30pm.

Tomorrow, Walt’s original, EPCOT Center! Stay tuned…

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Yeehaa Bob