Chapter 15. A Different Sort of Morning, and Lunch Around the World
Day 6. Tuesday
Since we were out until midnight the night before, I knew we would have to do things differently today. In my original plans (before I knew about the party) I had hoped to make early EMH at Epcot, but that of course wasn’t going to happen. So no alarms, we just slept until we were ready to get up. I think we were all awake before 9am, but that is LATE for us, lol! And everyone was hungry.
We got up and dressed pretty quickly and walked over to the Boardwalk area for breakfast at Kouzzina! I had never eaten there before and was hoping we’d have a chance to try it while we were here. And it was a beautiful walk, Owen especially liked going over the bridge by the Swam and Dolphin hotels. The cold and rainy part of our trip was over, according to the weather forecast. Should be nothing but hot and sunny from here on out.
We really enjoyed breakfast here, they had some more unusual things on the menu than we had been eating at Captain’s Grille. Not really exotic, just a unique twist on normal things. So far we had found 2 really good places in this area for breakfast, and since we hadn’t been making it to morning EMH much anyway, my frustration that they didn’t open early enough ended up not mattering.
We didn’t have any plans after this, other than needing to be in Magic Kingdom for dinner at Be Our Guest (no way was I giving up THAT reservation, lol!) And since we were off to a late start, I wasn’t sure it was going to be worth it to come back in just a couple of hours for a break. So we decided to do things a bit differently today. It was already plenty hot, and the kids were anxious to make use of the great swimming weather. We could spend an hour or two at the pool, then head over to Epcot for lunch, work our way around to the front, and then take the monorail to Magic Kingdom. Then we’d still have a couple of hours there before dinner.
Unfortunately, when we got back to our room, the maid was already in there working. I had thought about putting up the “Do Not Disturb” sign before we left to keep this from happening, but hadn’t really expected her to come this early. Rats! So the kids impatiently ran around in the outside courtyard near our room while we paced the hall and waited for her to be done. One time she came out and scolded the guy next to our room (I guess she had done his room already) for leaving his dirty clothes on the floor. Yikes! I hate to think what she thought of our room! We tried to be less conspicuous after this, lest she realize it was OUR room she was cleaning and give us a lecture too.
Finally, she moved down the hall and we quickly snuck in before she could see us. We ended up having a really nice morning at the pool. The kids mostly played in the sandy area building sandcastles. I was starting to think I liked this pattern… sleep until we wake up, take a leisurely morning at the pool, then head to the park later. Of course, there was no telling what kind of heat and crowds we would be facing at Magic Kingdom by mid afternoon, that’s usually about the time we are leaving! But it would be interesting to try this once, at least.
By noon, we were all starting to get hungry again, so got ready to go. We decided that since we were going to skip our usual afternoon break (and Owen’s nap) that we should bring the stroller. We hadn’t used it so far, it had just seemed easier to let him walk or carry him for a few minutes when need be. But he would probably take a nap in it today. We had only brought the umbrella stroller, which is a pain to push, but had seemed so much simpler to travel with than our giant Bob stroller.
This would be our first non-table-service meal, and I was worried it wouldn’t go over well with Brian. As part of the Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot, each of the countries had set up snack kiosks, with small-portion samplings of some of their popular foods. A few were more dessert-like, but they all had several meal-type foods too so I was hoping we could make it work.
Our first stop was Morocco. Brian got the Lamb Kabob, and Lily and I each got a Baghrir. We found a standing table by the water, and even partly in the shade – perfect! We were all stunned at how GOOD the food was! We thought this might be an interesting way to eat lunch, but we didn’t expect the food to be anything outstanding. We were pleasantly surprised. And the Mint Iced Tea really hit the spot. No great surprise though, Owen was already asleep in the stroller.
Next we stopped at Hanami in Japan. Brian got the Chirashi Hanazushi, Lily and I shared a Yakisoba Pan. It was sort of like Japanese pan noodles on a hamburger bun. Sounds odd, but boy was it good! Quite possibly the best thing I’d eaten all week. And again, we lucked out with another standing table by the lagoon.
In Italy we had a very tasty Lasagna Primavera, I think Brian had the Asparagi con Aragosta. It was really hard to decide by now which had been our favorite. And my fears about this lunch not being a hit with Brian had been completely unfounded, he was loving it! He decided to call it our “walking lunch”, and his only Facebook post of the week would be to brag about how good it was. Still learning. And starting to be less weary of trying something new and different. Even if it seems to be against everything I thought I knew about the “right” way to do things.
We made two more stops before we were too full to eat anymore – China and Mexico. I had the Pan-fried Vegetable Bun in China, and a Guava Custard in Mexico. At every stop, we were easily able to secure a standing table with a nice view, and usually in the shade. What a great experience! (And once the dust settled, we had spent 22 snack credits, Yikes! At least we wouldn’t have a bunch left over this time.) I can't even count how many times since coming home that I've had a sudden craving for one of the things we tried here. Makes me want to come back for F&G Festival again sometime!
Chapter 16. Rockets that Fly off the Ride…
We were at the entrance to Future World by now, and made our way slowly towards the front for the monorail. Owen woke up as we were coming under Spaceship Earth, and there we saw Daisy and Goofy. They each only had a short line so the kids wanted to see them again.
Owen had been fascinated by the monorail all week, and was excited that we were finally getting a chance to ride it. There was a monorail boarding as we came up and we just barely made it on. We had very similar luck at the Transportation and Ticket Center transferring to the Magic Kingdom monorail.
Somehow in my preparations for the day I hadn’t brought nearly enough diapers for Owen. I guess I wasn’t used to being gone more than a few hours at a time. So I knew we’d need to stop by the Baby Care center before getting distracted by anything else. As I suspected, the park was pretty packed by now, but we were on such a high from our great morning and lunch that it didn’t phase us much.
With that taken care of, we headed into Tomorrowland! I had been hoping to save this for a night, but I was starting to realize we probably weren’t going to be spending much time here after dark, since Owen was so terrified of the fireworks. Our first stop was to grab some Fastpasses for Space Mountain! Another one I hadn’t done since I was kid, and I was excited to finally get to do it with Lily.
We thought the PeopleMover might be a good way to introduce Owen to the area. He liked it, except for the part where it goes inside Space Mountain. I think he thought it was putting us on the ride! He loved the parts where our car sped up and went fast though. Maybe he’ll be a thrill rider one day.
I wanted to be sure we got to do Astro Orbiter, since I thought Owen would like it, being very Dumbo-like. The line said it was 30 minutes, longer than we are usually willing to wait, but the app on my phone said 20 minutes so I talked everyone into doing it anyway. Brian was worried that this one would be scary for Owen, as it’s faster and higher. He did have a couple of brief moments in line getting upset, but got over it quickly.
While we were waiting, I think Brian freaked out another little girl in line. He started telling one of his famous “tall tales” about how this ride used to be so much faster, and the rockets would often fly right off the ride and go soaring up in the clouds. He ended it with saying he “thought” they had slowed it down since then, though! Her eyes got pretty wide.
It turned out I was right, Owen LOVED it! He took off for the rockets as soon as he saw them, and had almost climbed into ours by himself by the time I caught up with him. And squealed with delight the whole ride. At least we’ve found something he likes on this trip – outside rides that go around in circles, ha!
By now, our Space Mountain Fastpasses were good. I sent Brian and Lily ahead, after getting a rider-swap pass. I really should have been saving my Fastpass-obtaining abilities since I always used the rider-swap pass instead. But I probably wouldn’t have found a good use for it anyway. Owen and I mostly hung out, and got a Mickey-pretzel from Cool-ship. We rarely buy snacks in the park, today had been quite the day for it though, lol! And after seeing these on a blog, I had been looking forward to one for weeks.
When they were done, Brian and Owen headed off for the Speedway while Lily and I went back to the Mountain. Again, I had forgotten how much FUN this one is! I think it’s my favorite roller-coaster here. (Though Soarin’ still gets my vote for best ride) And they are all so well-themed inside. I was actually a little sad that in the Fastpass line we didn’t get to do any of the interactive stuff in the regular queue.
We all met up again afterwards, Owen had loved the Speedway, and since there was still plenty of time before dinner we went to Monsters Inc Laugh Floor. Somehow we had never done this before, and since I LOVE Monsters Inc I was determined to make it over there this trip. I know a lot of people seem to think it’s dumb, but we all really enjoyed it. I thought the parts with the audience members participating were hilarious. Although we probably got lucky and had several people that really got into their “parts”. It would be fun to do this one several times just to see how different it is with different people.
We still had time for one more thing before heading for Fantasyland, and I suggested Carousel of Progress. Strangely enough, as a kid I had absolutely loved this, but hadn’t done it since. That was becoming a theme of this trip, it seems. To my surprise, everyone else was excited to do it too. I definitely noticed its age more than I had in the past. I’m actually a little surprised that Disney hasn’t maintained it a little better, but we all still had a good time and it was fun to relive some memories from my own childhood.
Chapter 17. A Special Guest of the Beast
It was already now after 6pm, and we had a very special dinner at 6:45. At Be Our Guest, in the new Beast’s Castle! This was probably the reservation I was most excited about, and had been the hardest to get. We stopped at the Fantasyland restrooms so that Lily could change into her “yellow dress“, again not a costume, but definitely evoked a bit of “Belle“.
There was a very long check-in line, and further frustrating things was that it was not very well organized. I ended up being cutoff several times due to the confusion about where the line was supposed to be. But finally we had our pager and waited on the bridge. Owen had fun running around all the gargoyles. When it was time to be seated, Lily was asked to carry the candle!
We were immediately amazed as soon as we stepped inside. I had seen lots of pictures, but they didn’t even begin to do it justice! Total awe, no other way to describe it. And I was glad that we were seated in the Ballroom. The West Wing looked cool, but nothing could compare to the Ballroom. Shortly after we were seated, the Beast made one of his periodic walks through the restaurant. We would be able to meet him in his study after our meal. I really like that, a chance to meet a character at a meal, but without the stress of constantly being on the lookout for who is approaching your table. It was a good compromise for our family.
Our waitress was offended that Duffy didn’t have his own seat, so she actually brought him a high chair. Lily had been getting a little crabby, and this seemed to help her mood some. The food was fine – nothing spectacular but nothing to complain about for sure. Obviously, you are eating here for the atmosphere and overall experience a lot more than for the food. Although the strawberry cupcake was pretty tasty. It was actually the only cupcake I had all week.
Once we were done, we went to greet the Beast! We were the only ones in there, so we could really take our time. Owen got nervous- not only was the Beast bigger and more intimidating than the other characters he had met, but the room was pretty dark, and that always put him on edge. So I sent Lily up first, thinking he would change his mind once he saw her.
It turns out that it was really good that she went by herself first. The Beast was so thrilled with her yellow dress! He made some kind of hand-gesture to the CM’s and pointed to her, and they said “Oh, you think she looks like Belle?!?” He emphatically shook his head yes, and covered his face a little like he was suddenly shy. Then he took her hand and danced her around in a circle a few times. It was priceless. She may think she’s “too old” to be a princess, but the smile on her face proved otherwise.
By now Owen had relaxed a little, and we were able to get a family picture too. A very successful dinner for sure, so glad we got to experience it!
It was late by now, and I didn’t think it was worth wearing everyone out any more to stay late. So we took the train from Fantasyland back to Main Street. Owen had insisted on pushing his stroller instead of riding in it all the way back, and we had several very-near collisions. So sorry to anyone that happened to be in New Fantasyland that night, lol!
The parade was getting ready to start, and there were actually several open spots right against the railing of the train station that would have made for great viewing. I was briefly tempted to stay, but the kids were clearly exhausted. Not worth it. That’s what I had to tell myself all the way out to the bus. And the typical issue with returning buses from Magic Kingdom, well I’m not even going to talk about it this time.
All in all, this ended up being our best day of the trip. I had worried that the dance party the night before, being a total flop, would also ruin today. But I’m really glad we did it simply because it forced us to shake things up a little and do something different today. Otherwise, I don't think I would have felt compelled to leave our comfort zone so much. We probably couldn't get by with skipping Owen’s nap everyday, but it was nice to break out of our routine for once.
Another thing I was starting to notice from this trip, was that trying to recreate our favorites from the last few years was leaving us all feeling a little empty. I was definitely enjoying doing a lot of childhood favorites that we hadn’t done in a decade or more, but our best times had been when we did something totally new and different. So many lessons learned on this trip, this was definitely one of them.