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  1. #91
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    Re: englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!



    Quote Originally Posted by Racheln View Post
    What do you use the pennies for at WDW? You mentioned a penny bag in your previous post.
    There are penny-press machines all over WDW (where you can get a design stamped onto a penny).


      
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  3. #92
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    Re: englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!

    Quote Originally Posted by Racheln View Post
    What do you use the pennies for at WDW? You mentioned a penny bag in your previous post.
    Exactly as joanna said. And when she says all over the parks, she means that. They are everywhere. Scattered around the parks, at the end of rides, at the hotels, at gift shops. They are normally tucked into a nook or cranny somewhere, so you have to look for them.

    For <50 bucks you can easily collect dozens of them. They are 50 cents plus the penny (which you get back, though it's now been smooshed).

    I think it's a very unique souvanier, and I loved doing it with the kid. They sell penny collector books that you can display your collection in at most of the gift shops. They are near the autograph books generally.

    But, this year, no dice. She's just not interested in them.


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  4. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by englanddg

    Exactly as joanna said. And when she says all over the parks, she means that. They are everywhere. Scattered around the parks, at the end of rides, at the hotels, at gift shops. They are normally tucked into a nook or cranny somewhere, so you have to look for them.

    For <50 bucks you can easily collect dozens of them. They are 50 cents plus the penny (which you get back, though it's now been smooshed).

    I think it's a very unique souvanier, and I loved doing it with the kid. They sell penny collector books that you can display your collection in at most of the gift shops. They are near the autograph books generally.

    But, this year, no dice. She's just not interested in them.
    Our family loves pressed pennies and we collect them everywhere we go. We one I the books from Disney we display those in and another that we display the others people are always fascinated with our books. Sad she's not into them this year.


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  5. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by englanddg
    Thanks to all of you for your condolences. She's been steadily asleep for the past few hours now, and is keeping her medicine down, so I'm feeling pretty good that she'll be allright in the morning.
    Hey, I hope that your daughter is feeling better! I'm really enjoying your report especially as I was there at some of the same time as you! One of the things I have noticed is that my hubby and I ate at Cosmic Rays on the same day as you and I was sick on the same day as your daughter. I flew home on Wednesday night after eating there at lunch time. I felt sick all the way home (8hr flight back to England) and all the way in my father in laws car!

    When I got in I went straight to bed - was really sleepy! When I woke up I was really sick (have probably never felt as ill) after I stopped I slept for 18hours straight!!

    Now, I am not normally into blaming anywhere but when I was at Cosmic Rays (which is my favourite burger place anywhere) and just finishing my burger, my DH saw a CM emptying a bin by pushing it down using a tray and then putting it back in the pile! My DH did eat the same as me but I do have a weaker stomach than him as have been places b4 where I've been ill and he hasn't!

    Didn't think anything of it until i saw that your daughter had been ill on the same day as me after eating at Cosmic Rays on the same day!

    Hope that she is feeling better!
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    Thanks guys! We already collect them from different places we go, so I will be sure to have some shiny pennies on hand when we go to Disney.


    Last edited by Racheln; 08-17-2012 at 05:13 PM.

  7. #96
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    Re: englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!

    Day 9
    Lunch with a Magic Maker, Whoop Dee Doo, AoA wins again!

    Magic Moments - 1 (Dine with an Imagineer)
    Pics Taken - 83
    Vid for Projects Taken - 12
    Discomforts (bug bites/etc) - 1 (Physical Exhaustion)
    Unexpected Surprises - 0
    Peeves - 1 (Smelly People)

    Breakfast - Coffee (me), OJ (kid) (Pop)
    Lunch - Cobb Salad, Potato Leek Soup, Beef Filet with Mushroom Risotto, Creme Brulee (both) (Brown Derby)
    Dinner - Fried Chicken, BBQ Pork Ribs, Sweet Butter Corn, Mashed Potatoes, Baked Beans (both) (Hoop de Hoo Musical Revue)
    Late Dinner - Surf and Surf Burger (AoA)
    Snacks - None

    Dinner Credits left - 30
    Snack Credits left - 27
    ____________________________________

    After a long and worried night, but also without relapse, I was in no mood to get moving this morning. Like a zombie risen from the grave, I wandered to the hotel food court and picked up a milk and oj for the kid to test her stomach with and two mugs of coffee for me.

    She was chipper after nearly 20 hours of off and on sleep, and was ready for the day within 30 minutes. I, on the other hand was not, and it was a very long and hot shower before I felt human again.

    We headed off to Dine with an Imagineer with 40 minutes to spare. It took forever for the Hollywood bus to come this morning, for whatever reason, and we ended up walking into the event just as they were getting started. Not quite perfect timing, but good enough.

    It was an amazing experience. I certainly will add this to the short list when planning future trips. But, not for next year. Then, she will be old enough for some of the tours, so we'll probably do those.

    I wrote a Mission: Disney assignment for it, and you can read it here: Mission: Dine with and Imagineer

    I am still amazed at how relaxing and laid back the entire experience was. We dined with 2 other families, one with 2 children around age 10, and the other with 3 teenagers, including a young man who was obviously in awe of the Imagineer, and was very curious as to how to become one.

    The food was top notch.

    The Potato Leek soup was everything that the soup I ate yesterday should have been. It was smooth and satisfying. The Cobb Salad proved that size does matter. The Cobb they serve is much smaller then the one they serve when you order it in the restaurant. I didn't enjoy the appetizer Cobb much when I ate at Brown Derby a few days ago, but this version I found the ratio of goodies to lettuce perfect.

    The Beef Filet with Mushroom Risotto could have come straight out of the Le Cellier kitchen, and if I had known this, I would have skipped Le Celllier (gasp) and tried some other signature dine instead with those credits.

    The Creme Brulee was ok (I haven't been overly impressed with any Creme Brulee I've had on this trip so far, even Le Cellier's). Outside of the Creme Brulee, the kid and I finished pretty much everything.

    The service was fantastic today, and I would have left a tip, but I noted that there is an automatic 18% gratuity included on the tab, so I didn't. The only gripe I had with the meal was that they didn't offer coffee with the dessert. I didn't ask either, but it would have been a nice touch after such a rich lunch.

    I really enjoyed some of the questions that popped up, and was pleasantly surprised when it turned into a table discussion, rather then a straight up interview style Q&A. The Imagineer was very good keeping the discussion moving, and acted more like a moderator as opposed to a subject of an interview. I asked several questions of the other adults at the table even, as they had experiences that they loved to share (I was especially interested in the Dream).

    The kid had to answer a call from nature, and while I waited on her to finish, I struck up conversation with another family that was waiting outside. It turns out the father is a monorail driver. Their child is severely autistic. They took him to Disney World on a vacation several years ago, and he opened up...so they moved to Florida and got a job with Disney. What a cool story!

    When we got back, the discussion had turned to the work our Imagineer had done on the Dream and the Fantasy. Some questions I didn't put in the Mission: Disney report that came up were:

    1) Is the Dwarves Mine Coaster going to be a thrill/dark ride mix, similar to the mixed profile of the Cars ride at Carsland?

    He said definitely a mixed ride. His exact statement was something along the lines of "Disney is not in the roller coaster business, we are here to tell a story." He couldn't go into much more detail, but this is good to know. I'm even more excited for 2014 now.

    2) Did WED change it's name to WDI because they kept getting calls for Wedding services?

    He had never heard this one, but the person sitting next to my daughter had as well. I forget where I heard it (some documentary I think), but she had heard it from a Cast Member when she did the Keys to the Kingdom tour (which she raved about, so I can't wait to try that sometime).

    3) Are there any plans to bring Glow with the Show style ears to DisneyWorld?

    Again, he said he had never heard of them and wasn't sure. In fact, I was a bit surprised that no one at the table had heard of them.

    Through the whole meal, he was very engaging and polite, and everyone got questions in, including my kid who clammed up when the spotlight is on her, and then asked about the bamboo roof of the room and why does it look so old.

    He answered this beautifully and turned it into a into a discussion about how much time and effort is placed by WDI to age things, and spoke of the team that does it with paint and sandblasters. He was there before the "aging" team did work on Everest, and he said everything in the queue was fresh and new. They were there for a few days day, and when he returned it looks like it does now.

    The whole meal isn't really timed, and the meal courses are served once everyone is finished with that course. At no point did any of us feel rushed.

    Everyone at the table was obviously as enthusiastic about Disney as I am. We all left feeling very special, and having small chats with each other.

    During the meal, I had missed a few calls from work, and had to rush back to the hotel to handle some loose ends that had frayed up there. Then I wrote my Mission: Disney report while it was still fresh on my mind. During this I got a call from a 407 area code, and thought...who from Disney would be calling me?

    It turns out it was the Dining Reservation Center. I had planned the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue for Monday night at 9:30p, but Disney decided to cancel that showtime starting Sunday night. So, they were calling to let me know they could squeeze me in tonight if I wanted. I had planned to do the Luau tonight at 9p, but they helped me rebook it tomorrow night for 5:15p and cancelled my Germany ADR for me. No biggie. I love the show there, but hate the food. If you want good food from that pavilion, go to the QS option. It's far superior.

    I was offered the 5p or 9p showtime, and I chose 5p. A week and half of hitting the parks, sick kiddo, lost cameras, near sunburns and short sleeps had finally caught up with me, and I needed a slow day of my own.

    On the bus ride over to Ft. Wilderness, I ran through the evening options with the kid, and she decided on going to EPCOT after the show. I was very cool with that, as EPCOT closes the earliest of all the parks tonight (except AK).

    I accidentally got off at Wilderness Lodge. Wow, what a resort. I can see why DVC members like it so much. I love the relaxed feel of it. It has boat and bike rentals which I will file away for future trips. The whole time we were there I saw people riding on the well kept bike trails that seem to criss cross the property, and as an avid biker, I wanted to join them!

    We wandered around taking pictures and shooting a few dancing videos, and had made it as far back as Artist's Point when I finally decided to double back and ask someone where the Hoop de Hoo is. They informed me that I was at the wrong resort, and it immedietly hit me. It's at Ft. Wilderness NOT Wilderness Lodge. I knew that! What was I thinking?

    The Wilderness resorts have an on property bus that connects them, so we ran down to catch it. Ft. Wilderness is interesting. It's very spread out, and has it's own busses that run as shuttles throughout the resorts. My kid loved seeing the deer and horses as we arrived.

    We were a few minutes late for the Hoop de Hoo because of my mental malfunction, but as it turns out the show really doesn't get rolling until 10 - 15 minutes after "showtime" anyhow. I assume this is to give the diners time to get seated and settled. So, we didn't miss anything.

    Considering the size of the Venue, the place was about half full. I did notice they do an interesting thing with the tables. The tables in the back have longer legs on the table and chairs then towards the front. Each "row" of tables is gradually shorter then the tables behind it. It's not something you would notice easily wish a casual glance, but what a neat trick for Disney to throw in!

    We were taken to a two-top table that was literally by the piano, and about 10 feet from the stage. This was fun, except that it's up against a wall. One seat had a fantastic view, the other had almost no view at all. So, I gave the kid the good seat. Still, poor planning on their part, and it frustrated me when I saw how many empty tables they had around the restaurant where we could both have a great view.

    When I pulled out my daughter's chair for her and pretended she was a "grand lady" (a common game we play), she refused to sit. It was covered in some liquid (soda I think)! The seater hadn't noticed, and was staring off into space with our menus under his arm. I grabbed one of the napkins (which doesn't absorb water worth squat), and dried off her chair. He eventually came around, and rushed off to get a towel to clean the chair, but by the time he got back I'd already done the job.

    The table looked like someone had set off a shredded parmeasan cheese bomb on it. It was on the plates, the tablecloth, the napkins, my chair. It was everywhere. I cleaned most of it off, but if you look at the picture of the Cornbread, you can still see it on the tablecloth.

    We had to make a restroom break at this point. The restrooms are "outside and to the left". They are public restrooms, like you find all over the parks. And, they were thoroughly disgusting. My daughter wouldn't even use them, even though she was the reason we stepped out. "It stinks and the floor is wet".

    The men's room wasn't much better. Things were going downhill fast. I worked a long time in restaurants, and I have a very long fuse as I know what rough nights are like, but I was very close to calling off the whole thing.

    While we were outside, the performers came around the corner, and they were a hoot! I watched them do a few quick photo op requests from guests who were outside of the show, and then they went to the front porch to get ready for their entrance. They alone kept my interest long enough to keep going.

    We got back to the table and our waiter introduced himself and got us our drinks. Drinks are served in Mason jars, which is a fun touch.

    The restaurant is "all you care to enjoy" (Disney's magical way of saying "Eat until you burst, fatty!") <grin>

    They serve it in and on pewtarex (stainless steel that looks like pewter) buckets, bowls and plates. It's a fun motif.

    Determined to give the place a fair shot, I started to dig into the food. The salad was delicious, and I found myself eating several servings. It wasn't overly special, just a house salad, but everything was very fresh and the ratio of veg to dressing was spot on. The cornbread was decent. I'm from the south, and I know cornbread. This was not authentic at all, and I've had much better. But, that aside, it was good.

    The honey butter, on the other hand, was not. For those of you who are interested, for the best honey butter you should try and find a sweet cream unsalted butter for the best flavor. The saltiness of good cornbread doesn't need anything added to the party. Let the butter get to room temperature. Try to find a good wildflower or orange blossom honey, and blend it 1 part honey to 3 parts butter using a small fork. Whip until it's fluffy. But, I'm off track. Enough Southern Snobbery from me (don't ever get me started on how to properly make Iced Sweet Tea, I'll write a whole dissertation on it!)

    Here, they not only used a salted butter, but it was VERY salty. I don't mind salted butter at all, but this tasted like it had a salt shaker dumped into it. The honey was runny. Without good honey butter, I didn't have much interest in my cornbread loaf, though I did have 2 slices with butter just to make sure I was correct in my initial impression. I was.

    The show starts about 20 minutes after seating, which I think is way too long. My kid had already lost interest, and was chattering about how this was boring and she really wanted to go out and look at the ponies. The entrance was lackluster, but I hand it to the performers, they really gave it their best shot.

    They all hop up to the stage and introduce themselves (too quickly, I think, both the kid and I had trouble understanding what they were saying as they were speaking at the speed of the Micro Machines man), and then sing a song about your upcoming food.

    This lasts about 10 minutes, and the lights come back up while the Banjo player (who was fantastic) plays a few songs as your food is delivered. This is a family style restaurant, so everyone eats out of central serving dishes (or buckets in this case). You get fried chicken, BBQ pork ribs, mashed potatoes, sweet butter corn kernels and baked beans.

    I'm pleased to say, all were fantastic! I could run through all the dishes in detail, but there really is no need. It was awesome.

    About 20 minutes later, they start the actual "show". By now the audience had warmed up to the performers, and they really started to shine. 6-cent (?) is the male comic relief, and he really stole the show, but they all did a good job.

    Then the dessert comes out, Strawberry Shortcake, which was also amazingly good. The performers take the stage for the finale, and it was very amusing (some genuinely funny skits).

    The winner of the night was my waiter, as he had several quips throughout the meal that were hilarious, including one that was completely ad-lib. When he was clearing the table, my kid decided she wanted to sprinkle extra salt the leftover fried chicken. He let her and then said "Well, I guess you just as-salt-ed the chicken." I burst out laughing, and with a straight face, he looked at me and said "I had to let her do it. I didn't want to in-salt her."

    Absolutely brilliant! So, after a rough start, the place turned out to be pretty fun. The food was excellently produced, and while the show was mediocre, it was still fun. I wouldn't classify it as a must do, but if you are looking for something new to try, I would check it out.

    While, overall I enjoyed it, the kid thought it was ok, though on the bus ride to EPCOT I asked her what she thought of the Hoop Dee Doo. She responded "Hoop Dee Doo? It's Whoop Dee Do." while twirling her finger in the air and rolling her eyes. It seems she is learning puns. How fun!

    Once at EPCOT, we rode Mission Space Green and Orange (I was still sortof testing her stomach, but I was pretty sure she was going to be fine) and Sourin' twice.

    Note, if you do Sourin' right at 9p, you'll find it's a pretty short wait, and we were able to loop back around and we had an even shorter wait on the second run.

    Nothing really special to report here, except that EPCOT at night is still my favorite place to be at Disney, and that we got to ride Mission Space with a very nice, but incredibly smelly person. I couldn't put my finger on the smell when we were in the secondary queue (where you suit up), and after checking myself, I even asked my kid quietly if she had an accident.

    It wasn't until we got off the ride and I had to walk behind her the whole way to Mission Control that I knew where it was coming from. It wasn't body odor, and it wasn't pleasurable at all.

    The bus ride home was on a Mears bus as opposed to a Disney Transit bus, which meant reclining seats and TVs! The driver had taken it upon himself to put in a DVD of classic Disney cartoons. It was wonderful to see some of these cartoons again, and I found myself remembering gags from them that I probably haven't seen in 25 - 30 years. Amazing how classic Disney works like that.

    When we got to the room, the kid crawled up under the covers and promptly fell asleep (not what I expected). I decided not to bug her about a bath tonight, as we hadn't had a sweaty day at all, and I'll have her shower in the morning.

    I had a few hours of work to take care of after the phone calls this afternoon, and it was around 10p. I decided I wanted something to snack on while I worked, so I ran over to AoA to snag one of the Surf and Surf burgers that had caught my eye the day before.

    Once again I was not disappointed. The burger is a crab and fish patty that is well seasoned. They serve this with a spicy aioli, lettuce, tomato and fried shrimp on a sweet white roll. It was fantastic, and pictures are attached.

    So, there you have my day today. Tomorrow we are off to Magic Kingdom!


    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!-hdh-salad.jpg   englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!-hdh-cornbread.jpg   englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!-hdh-fried-chicken.jpg   englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!-hdh-ribs.jpg   englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!-hdh-shortcake.jpg  

    englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!-aoa-surf-surf.jpg  
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  8. #97
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    WOW. I haven't been on TD for a few days. Yesterday I came across your thread and just finished reading. What an amazing TR. I feel like I'm there!! I'm so glad to here your DD was able to hold everything down today. I feel bad she got so sick. I have been going to Disney for many years and could never describe my trips the way you do. I feel like I'm reading a book. I can't stop and can't wait for more!!! We are missing our trip this year. Very sad . However we will be there in 2013. I want to thank you for taking the time to write about your trip. If you love Le Celliar you should try Yachtsman Steakhouse at the YC. Excellent Excellent. Can't wait to read more from you. Thank you again.


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    Re: englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!

    Another great installation! I had to laugh at your Micro Machines man reference. I remember those commercials, lol! I'm glad your daughter is feeling better. I loved reading your own Hoop Dee Doo review. We went a few years ago and it felt like I was there all over again!

    I didn't see anything mentioned about your La Nouba tickets. Were they able to work anything out for you?


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    Quote Originally Posted by englanddg
    When you are on the Dining Plan, Chefs won't let you order off the whole menu. You have a 3 course option, or you can choose an item off the regular menu, but none of the appetizers (except for the soups). You can, however, add whatever you like as long as you are willing to pay for it.
    When I went to Chefs de France on the dining plan I could choose anything? But I went at lunch - do you think that was why?! x



  11. #100
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    Re: englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr&MrsWoody View Post
    When I went to Chefs de France on the dining plan I could choose anything? But I went at lunch - do you think that was why?! x
    That could be it, or it could be something they started recently.


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    Would have to be very recent - I was there on the 3rd August ;-)

    Did you get my post saying I was I'll the same day as your daughter after eating at same place??



  13. #102
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    Re: englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr&MrsWoody View Post
    Would have to be very recent - I was there on the 3rd August ;-)

    Did you get my post saying I was I'll the same day as your daughter after eating at same place??
    I did. And that's very odd. We shared that half chicken that day. But, maybe it was Cosmic. That would be a shame, because like you it's one of my favorite places at Magic Kingdom to eat.

    Your ailments sounded very similar to her experience. I'm glad you are feeling better though.

    And yes, it was recent. We were there on Aug 14. Since your visit was so close to mine, perhaps it is a lunch vs dinner thing?


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  14. #103
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    joanna71985 is offline TalkDisney Team

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    Re: englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!

    I love HDDR. I think the food is great (and I really need to go again, as I haven't been there in 5 years).


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  15. #104
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    englanddg is offline Senior Imagineer
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    Re: englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!

    Day 9
    Belly Dancin' Baby, Sponge-dad Squarepants, Battle of the Burgers

    Magic Moments - 0
    Pics Taken - 94
    Vid for Projects Taken - 9
    Discomforts (bug bites/etc) - 0
    Unexpected Surprises - 0
    Peeves - 0

    Breakfast - Coffee (me), Chocolate Milk (not Nesquick) (kid) (Pop)
    Lunch - Harira Soup, Couscous with Lamb Shank, Bastilla (me), Chicken Tenders, Ice Cream (kid) (Marrakesh, Morocco)
    Dinner - Sweet Bread, Pineapple, Tropical Salad, Pork Ribs, Chicken, Rice, Mixed Veg, Chocolate pudding with raspberry sauce (both) (Spirit of Aloha, Polynesian Resort)
    Late Dinner - Pastrami Burger (AoA), BBQ Angus Bacon Burger (Pop), Mexican Hotdog (Pop)
    Snacks - None

    Dinner Credits left - 22
    Snack Credits left - 27
    ____________________________________

    After an early and restful night, we were both up easily this morning. She took a quick shower (faster then usual), and was dressed and ready before I was finished with mine. So, instead of bringing our morning drinks back to the room, we went down to the food court. The place was packed to the gills, but I snagged a to go coffee and she wanted chocolate milk.

    I paid for these out of pocket rather then use up credits, and we went out to catch a bus. We had planned on Magic Kingdom today, but I also had reservations for lunch at Marrakesh in EPCOT, so there was nothing really holding us back. So, we decided to play bus roulette.

    Animal Kingdom! I was fine with this, as it was supposed to be overcast and cool all day with scattered showers. A *perfect* day for Animal Kingdom, in my book. I find that park on a hot day is unbearable.

    We headed off to Everest to snag a fast pass for a ride later in the day. The wait was short, but I wanted to see Lion King, and there was no way we could have made both. So, we didn't ride. In 2 years of 2 week trips, we've probably never spent more then 4 days total in this park combined (including this past Sunday), and we always end up doing the same things...Africa, Asia and Dino-Land. So, fast passes in hand, we walked through Asia and headed towards Camp Minnie Mickey.

    The park wasn't very crowded yet, and we happened upon Devine in our way out of Asia (right before the drums). I love Devine. We didn't see her last year, but in 2010 we happened upon her, and I think she's one of the most unique features of the park. We watched her for a few minutes and took a dancing video and tons of pictures. Then we pounded on the drums until our hands were red, and continued our journey.

    As I've stated before, I normally don't enjoy this park very much, but today, be it the weather or our general mood, I was having a wonderful time wandering along the pathways.

    We arrived at Camp M&M (as my kid has started calling it), and headed over to the Lion King theater. The first show was scheduled to start soon, so we settled in our seats and nibbled on some california trail mix I had brought with me and drank water from the Brita water bottle. This has become something my kid enjoys doing every time she sees a water fountain. She loves filling it up. I'm not sure how she feels about how it works for the water, but I can certainly taste the difference.

    The theater is enclosed, which I didn't expect. I had always thought it was an outdoor amphitheater like Fantasmic. Once the show started, I understood why. I have read people who say this is a close second to La Nouba. I agree. The show was fantastic! Every song from Lion King you can think of was in it, and the acrobatics and other performances were amazing. The finale actually made me sniffle a bit, as it's quite heart moving.

    I can't believe in 3 visits I'd never taken time out for this before. If you do AK, don't be like me. Go see it. It's a new must do, and I will not miss it again.

    Our Fast Pass window was coming up, so we walked back to Asia through Africa again. I was puporsfully taking this route to avoid Dino-Land USA, which is my kid's favorite part of the park outside of Everest and the Safari. Why? The Bone Yard.

    This attraction is a huge playground and sandbox. She has a blast, and I enjoy it...in 15 minutes spurts, and getting her to leave is hit or miss. But, she could literally stay there for hours if I let her. So, I strategized...out of sight, out of mind!

    After riding Everest, I was really enjoying trying out new things, and wanted to go check out the petting zoo and try and catch Nemo and the Parade, but I had a lunch ADR to attend to. Again, I noted to myself that I won't do so many lunch ADRs on future trips. This is exactly why I have not enjoyed them.

    By far, today was my best trip to AK ever. So, sadly, we said goodbye. We probably will not come back on this visit (though, I might try to sqeeze in a few hours in the coming days if it's a cool day like today).

    We hopped a bus to All Star Music (just happened to be the first bus we came upon), and then grabbed a bus to MGM from there. We rode the Water Taxi from MGM to EPCOT, and it was fun. We got a seat on the back of the boat. It drizzled a little bit on our commute, but no lightning and certainly not a major storm.

    I love using the International Gateway to enter EPCOT. It's never crowded, the boat ride is fun, and with a 7 year old, it's similar in terms of commute time as coming in the front and walking to the back of the park.

    We arrived for our reservation a few minutes late, but they had no issues with this. The restaurant wasn't very busy at all. We were given a nice table near where the band and belly dancer performs. I was a bit disappointed they were not out, but they did show up about halfway through our meal, to my kid's delight. The belly dancer even took an interest in her and taught her how to belly dance. This was hilarious. My kid has is rather uncoordinated (not uncommon for a 7 year old), and she looked more like she was using an invisible hula hoop then doing a belly dance.

    I decided to go all lamb, and didn't regret it. The soup was well seasoned and wonderful. The couscous and lamp is one of my favorite things to eat, and was equally good. The only disappointment I had was that they still use a limited american kids menu. My kid didn't mind (what kid says no to Chicken Nuggets?), but I wish they had a bit more for the kids at the international pavilion. Food is a great way to share cultures.

    The decor is amazing, and I love to take in all the lush fabrics and details on the walls as I eat. Morocco is the only pavilion that is actually sponsored and operated by the country it represents, and I personally think this shows. The restaurant is ornate, the street bazaar is loads of fun, and overall it's one of my favorite pavilions. There are so many nooks and crannies to explore.

    Though it had been a cool day, it was humid, and I was feeling sticky. We had the Luau coming up tonight, and I wanted to feel fresh for it. So, we caught the water taxi back to MGM and headed back to the hotel and I let the kid swim for a bit while I did some work (and messed around on TD). I've had my gripes about the WiFi, and those haven't changed, but it was nice to sit on the side of the pool while she played around and practiced her "straight legs" (which is what she calls the flutter kick) while holding onto the edge of the pool.

    We cleaned up, and left for the luau with about 45 minutes to spare. This is cutting it close, because we needed to catch a bus to Magic Kingdom, walk over to the monorail station or the boat launches and either catch a water taxi or the resort line monorail. The actual transit time would be will within this window, but you can never really predict how long the wait for each mode of transportation will be. Then, once you get to Polynesian, you are looking at a 10 - 15 minute walk unless you rush to get to Luau Cove, and that assumes you know where you are going.

    I, actually, was ok with this, and I'll explain why. First, from what I remember of last years Luau, the show doesn't get started immediately, so you really don't miss anything if you are a few minutes late. Second, I really didn't want to go. I did the Luau last year because my kid's mother had joined us on the trip, and she really wanted to do it. My kid loved it too, so I am only doing it this year because she's excited to do it. Of course, I'd never let on that I don't like it to her, but...I was walking into this with very low expectations.

    As it turned out, the gods of luck were on our side and we literally walked onto the Magic Kingdom bus, and 25 minutes later were boarding the Water Taxi for Polynesian. This excited my kid. We've never done these (well, I have, but it was decades ago), and she's been asking about them all trip.

    A smooth ride over Seven Seas Lagoon, and we were making our way back to the Luau.

    We arrived a few minutes early, and there was still a line at check-in, but it wasn't long. We made our way up the path and collected our Leis and had our picture taken. I was doing my best to get into this, but I just had terrible memories of it, and was silently expecting the worst. My kid, however, was in seventh heaven, and was chattering and running around.

    Let me take a moment to explain why I have such a bad feeling about the Luau. As I stated before, we went in 2011, and we did the late show (7p as I recall). The Luau is outdoors, and it...was...hot. We were seated on the top level, house left, near the bathrooms. The tables and seats are of a very heavy construction, and don't shift well. The tables were shoved very close together, and are very small. With a party of four, we were constantly running out of table space, and due to the proximity to the tables around us, I felt very enclosed and trapped. The guy in the table behind me was consistantly hitting the back of my chair throughout the show, and I had to crane my neck to see anything because I couldn't angle my chair as there was no room.

    Due to the low ceiling, the venue is very noisy. The wait staff seemed comprised of retirees, which there is nothing wrong with that, but the last person you want leaning over you in a noisy venue is a 60 something waiter who looks obviously uncomfortable and looks like they just finished a session of Sweatin' to the Oldies, no matter how polite they are.

    The food was ok, with two shining stars, the ribs and the pineapple that came with the salad. The rest was merely passable. And the show was mediocre. I had a hard time understanding what they were saying as they spoke too fast. I've seen several Luaus in my life, and this was a far cry from what you can find in Hawaii.

    So, that was 2011. Now you know why I was secretly dreading this meal. But, seeing my kid's excitement and obvious enthusiasm to be back kept my negative mood in check.

    We were seated literally in the front, and off to the right. There was a pole in front of our table, but unlike at Hoop De Hoo, both of us had a comfortable view. I have my kid the seat closer to stage center. This venue also uses pewtarax serving dishes, and is family style, and our salad, pineapple and bread was already on the table.

    I'm going to break for a moment and explain why I know the rather obscure name of this material, since I've now referenced it twice. I used to open restaurants, and we used it for our Salad Bar crocks. When opening a store in Superior, CO, we were doing the walkthrough with the health inspector to get our initial permit. This walkthrough is completely different then a regular inspection, and in most jurisdictions is done by a different inspector who is specifically assigned to do these sorts of inspections.

    They are extremely detailed, and everything is checked. Though I'm used to this, the guy in Superior was by far the strictest inspector I've ever had to deal with. He was asking us how we maintain temp at the salad bar (below 40 degrees), and the General Manager of the soon to be opened restaurant chimed in that we use "pewter crocks and ice". BIG mistake. Pewter contains lead.

    His little inspector ears perked up, and, while we passed everything else, and the pewtarex name was stamped on the bottom of all the crocks, he refused to issue our permit until we had provided him proof that the crocks were not made out of pewter. 6 hours on the phone later, I finally got someone at DuPont who could help me out and faxed me what I needed. I never forgot what that material was.

    I wasn't very hungry, but I dug into the pineapple with a ferociousness. I was not disappointed. I don't know where Disney gets it's pineapple from, but it is the sweetest best pineapple I have ever had. The kid and I both had some sweet bread and salad. Both are good, but nothing to rave about.

    Our waitress stopped by (still using retirees I see), and she was a blast. She engaged the kid, and it was a lot of fun to see my kid spout off how much she's been looking forward to the show and asking if the "fire man" was going to come back out. I had already consumed half of the pineapple, and asked if we could have some more as she went to get our drinks.

    While she was out Act I had started. It was pretty much as I remembered it, but with better seats I enjoyed it much more. I felt my mood starting to warm.

    She came back with our drinks and a small plate of pineapple, which I consumed all of as well. My kid asked me why I was eating so much pineapple, and between bites, I said "Because I live in a pineapple under the sea." She said, "Oh, so you are Spongebob...no...Sponge-dad Squarepants!" Heh, I am raising a comedian. :P

    During the break between the acts the appitizers were cleared and the entrees delivered. You get ribs (that are more of a dry rub with a sweet sauce then a BBQ), chicken, rice and a vegetable mix. The same as last year, all of it was good, and the ribs were fantastic. The second Act started, and I found myself really starting to enjoy the show. Perhaps it was the fact we went a bit earlier, perhaps it was the weather (though it was still muggy, it was very cool compared to last year).

    I still didn't find the story very engaging. Appearantly there is a young woman who went off to the "mainland" to get a college education, and had forgotten her heritage. So, the primary plot of the show is to re-educate her about her roots, and as a happy ending, she discovers what "home" and "family" are all about.

    It's ok, and I can see why my kid loves it. However, it's on par with Hoop de Hoo in terms of depth. That being said, I really enjoyed the dancers this time, now that we had a closer view. The fire twirler came out, and for this I must say I preferred the later show last year, where it was dark already. The kid loved it though, and commented randomly halfway through "Don't you think he's handsome daddy?". I didn't know she was 7 going on 17.

    All the kids are invited to join the dancers on the stage and do the hula, which was the highlight of the night for the munchkin outside of the "Fire Man". The chocolate volcano dessert was ok, but neither one of us were very interested in it. In all, I enjoyed it this year, unlike last year. But, for 2 dinner credits each and 2 hours of time, I can think of far better things to do on property.

    I wouldn't put this on a must do list, but it certainly is a try it once sort of thing. That being said, the kid disagrees with me, and so I will probably end up doing this again.

    After the meal, I offered the kid two options. We could head over to Magic Kingdom and catch some rides and watch the evening show, or we could tour the resorts for a bit and watch the water electrical parade (if you've never seen this, check it out one time) and catch the fireworks from the beach at Polynesian.

    She chose options C...go back to the hotel. She said she was tired, and wanted to go back to the hotel and relax (say what?).

    Not questioning, we rode over to Magic Kingdom, and after offering her one more time, hopped the bus back to the hotel. She took a long bath and crawled in bed where I cleaned and painted her toenails (her request). We watched TV while they dried, and she crawled under the duvet and promptly fell asleep. I don't know what this mood she is in lately is, but it's certainly interesting, though abnormal.

    After she was asleep, I was reviewing my dining credits, and I found I had a few spare, so I decided to do something for the Trip Report that I thought would be fun. I've talked a lot of about the AoA food court, so why not do a head on competition between the AoA food court and the Pop food court! What better way then to do a Battle of the Burgers!

    So, I donned my "wannabe food reviewer" hat, and was off! Both food courts have "signature" BBQ burgers. At AoA it's a Pastrami Burger, and at Pop it's a BBQ Bacon Angus Burger. I hiked over to AoA first, and the same cast member who had tipped off management on Thursday was working. He asked about how my kid was doing, and I informed him and thanked him for all his efforts. He said he was going back to the Pop food court starting tomorrow, and he'd love to meet the kid if I didn't mind stopping by. I shook his hand and thanked him again, and said we would certainly try to do so. What a great guy. I love CMs like this.

    One Pastrami burger later, I was walking back across the bridge munching on the fresh fries. I dropped the burger off at the room and took a big bite while it was still fresh, so I could do a fair review. It was pretty good, but I'll get into that in a moment.

    I then hiked over to Pop, and obtained a BBQ Bacon Angus. I noticed they had a "Mexican Hot Dog" special dish too, so I grabbed one of those as well, as I was curious.

    Back in the room, the tasting began. I will break this down into several categories. Bun, toppings, sauce, patty, fries, first bite, third bite (when you get to the middle of the sandwich and all the flavors really start to merge), and overall score.

    Bun

    The Pop burger uses a standard sesame white roll. It's good, but pretty much a bagged bun you'd find at grocer. The AoA burger is served on whole-wheat multigrain toast. While this sounds wonderful, I didn't like it. I'm fond of multigrain breads, but for something like a burger, I think it needs to have a pop, and I like breads that highlight the burger/toppings, not overpower them. This bread is very dense and not very flavorful. If they sauteed it in butter rather then toasting it, it would have been completely different. Frankly, I think the whole sandwich would have been better with a Rye Swirl then a heavy multigrain. So, while cafeteria, point to Pop!

    Toppings

    The Pop burger is very simple. It has two strips of leather bacon (same type they serve at breakfast) and fried onions. AoA has pepperjack cheese, pastrami (thick cut), butter lettuce and tomato. Surprisingly, sometimes doing something simply, but well, is the way to go. I vastly preferred the toppings on the Pop burger. The bacon was terrible, but the fried onions are very well seasoned, and have a wonderful flavour.

    In comparison, the garden on the AoA burger didn't add much at all. The pepperjack cheese was mostly jack and very little pepper. It had no bite at all, and frankly if it were left off the sandwich I probably wouldn't have noticed it's absence. The pastrami was ok, but very fatty. This was a huge negative, because the last thing you want to do when eating a burger is fight with the sandwich to separate your bite from the sandwich itself. One more point to Pop!

    Sauce

    Pop uses a standard industrial BBQ sauce (which I assume is Heinz), and it's ok. AoA makes a Chipotle BBQ sauce, and it is very good. However, on my sandwiches, Pop over sauced my burger and AoA severely under-sauced it. With a BBQ burger, I like to taste the creamy sauce mingling with the ingredients as I chew. The AoA burger was just...dry. However, I did lift the bun and taste the sauce itself for the AoA burger, and it is delicious. If you order it, ask them to well sauce it. Even though there wasn't enough of it on my sandwich, point to AoA.

    Patty

    Now on to the meat of matter (pun intended). Both restaurants use frozen preformed patties. There is nothing wrong with this, in fact, I freeze my patties at home before cooking (helps keep the burger from breaking apart on the griddle/grill). However, the key to making patties work is how you cook and season them. In both cases, they failed. A bland patty is ok if you want the star of the show to be the toppings, but otherwise is a bad idea. Point goes to neither.

    Fries

    Both Pop and AoA use the same cut of fry (probably also frozen), and I got fresh orders from each. While both were good (especially when fresh), AoA put a seasoned salt on their that made them flat out addictive. In fact, I'd eaten most of them on the walk back to the room. Point to AoA.

    First Bite

    Pop uses a traditional bun, AoA uses sandwich bread. There is a reason why most popular burger restaurants don't use sandwich bread for burgers. The crust. If you use a toasted sandwich bread, you have to pick it carefully, as you don't want a crust that gets very tough when it toasts. Multigrain bread does get tough, even hard. There are cooking methods that can prevent this, but with a traditional toast, you are looking at a bad time, and maybe even cut up gums from it. A soft sourdough or a rye would have been much better. Either that, or instead of toasting if they had sauteed it in a knob of butter.

    Also, since the profile of the toppings/beef is round, but the bread is not, the AoA burger meant you had to hit it at just the right angle to get a good first bite. With the AoA burger, I had to nibble away at it before I got a really good bite, just to get through the bread. With Pop, I was able to dig right in. I, personally, hate this, so point to Pop.

    Third Bite (or fourth, or fifth)

    To me, the real test of a good burger (or any sandwich really) isn't the first bite, as that's just the teaser to get you interested, but it's when you get towards the middle of the sandwich and the flavors and textures really start to mingle. Each bite should be slightly different, as you get different proportions of sauce, patty and toppings each bite as you venture in. A good sandwich will make you want to take another bite. A bad one will leave you with a frustrating or bland experience.

    I would say that AoA took the point here, as the flavours are fantastic (once you get past the dry crunchy crust), but I have one gripe. The pastrami. It was very bland pastrami (not much saltiness at all, and I'm sure the chef who wrote this up on the menu planned to use it as a cheap but "exotic" bacon substitute). It was fatty. As I ventured into the sandwich, I found I had to fight with the fat every few bites. The few times I didn't, it tasted incredible, but 1/4 way into the sandwich, I was tired of fighting this darned meat just to get some burger goodness in my mouth!

    That being said, Pop also fails, as there isn't much variation in texture or variety of taste. If the bacon actually had some flavor, instead of being precooked slices that are reheated for serving, perhaps I would have felt differently. So, while I really did enjoy both sandwiches, this is a competition, and point goes to neither.

    Overall Score

    Lets see. Pop won for the Bun, the Toppings, and the First Bite. AoA won for the Sauce and the Fries. So, Pop wins!

    Still, both burgers were very good, and I enjoyed putting this together. While I don't think the Pop BBQ Burger is the best I've ever had, it's superior to the Pastrami Burger at AoA. I don't want to turn anyone off to that burger, so try it out for yourself. But, in my opinion, the burger shop over at the AoA food court has so many other options that are far superior (you can even build your own burger).

    Pop, however, has very few options. You can get the BBQ burger or the bacon cheeseburger. I've also tried the cheesesteak wrap...stay away from this. If you get the Pop BBQ burger, you won't be amazed, but you won't be disappointed either. And trust me on the fried onions. Yummers!

    So, onto the final dish I got for tonight to review. The mexican hot dog. It was ok. That's all I have to say about that. Hot dogs are probably not the best thing to get at Disney, nomatter how they dress them up, and this was no exception. I got it with Pasta Salad as the side, and that was very good.

    So, I'm off for the night, and I'll see you all tomorrow!


    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!-aoa-pastrami-burger.jpg   englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!-pop-bbq-burger.jpg   englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!-pop-mexican-hot-dog.jpg  
    Last edited by englanddg; 08-19-2012 at 04:51 AM.
    englanddg's Lanyard
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  16. #105
    snkasweet is offline Cast Member In Training
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    loving your report. So detailed I feel like I am along for the ride.


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