Plan - A little get-a-way with DW to celebrate our 13th Anniversary and help refresh our marriage and have a little fun at the same time.
Our original plan was to drop off the kids at a friends house then stay at home Saturday night and head out to WDW on Sunday morning, but two days before DW mentioned that we should try and get the extra night in and leave Saturday. Good fortune shown on us and I was able to get the extra night. So after the obligatory Saturday morning kids activities we dropped off our 4 youngsters at a close friends house. Just to let you know, the past 3 years our friends have gone away and we watched their 3 kids for them and they have been wanting to pay us back so that is why we had this opportunity. So after dropping off the kids around 12:30, DW suggests that we go back home and eat lunch. We only live about a mile away so home it is. After a quick meal we are soon on the road towards Orlando. DW had wanted to go to the Florida Mall to do some shopping first, then we would head to the Saratoga Springs. Well traffic was great until we hit Celebration then it was bumper to bumper, stopping and crawling. I don’t think most of you have experienced the wonders of I-4, with the exception of Nina and Heather, but just when you thought I-4 was finally finished they start construction again. Well after 30 minutes of crawling we finally get to the first exit for WDW and DW looks at me and says I’ll take a rain check, let’s skip the mall and head to the resort. You don’t have to tell me twice, I exit quickly and soon we are on I-192 near the entrance to WDW. Then it actually starts to rain a little. We haven’t had rain in central Florida for a while so this is a welcome event. I see the signs for Downtown Disney and we soon see our exit for the Saratoga Springs Resort. This will be our first stay at our home DVC resort, so we are really looking forward to trying it out. We pull up to the gate and the guard says “Welcome Home.” I’ve got to tell you I love to hear that phrase. Anyway we soon are at the Main building and we check in around 2:45. The CM was very friendly and we get our Studio in Congress Park. It is the section right across from Downtown Disney. We decided to check out the main building so we walk over to the food court area, Artist’s Palette, which also includes the gift shop. DW immediately falls in love with a DVC Member hat and T-shirt combo gift that is in pink. I make a mental note and we continue our browsing. Then we decide it is time to head over to our room to unpack. We get back in the car and drive over to Congress Park. In my opinion, it is a really a convenience to be able to park right up by your room. Allot of the DVC resorts have a general parking lot then you have to trek to your room. The parking lot isn’t too full and we get a spot on the second row. Our room is on the 3rd floor so off we go and soon we are opening the room to see a very nice layout. There is a Queen size bed and a Queen sleeper sofa. A little refrigerator and a microwave and some supplies for eating. Our view wasn’t the best, it overlooked the parking lot and out bus stop but it was still pretty nice. We unpacked then I called to see if Piano Bob was playing at POR that night and was told that he was. So our plan was to go to DTD to shop and get a bite to eat then come back and drive to POR to see Piano Bob. So we head out to walk to DTD. It was about a 10 minute walk on a very nice path along the water where we saw at least 10 rabbits during our visit. It was a little hot out but not too bad with the breeze off of the water. We walk through a few stores then stop at a place that we never noticed before, Mickey’s Mart - “Everything Ten Dollars and Under”. We pick up a few souvenirs for the kids then head to the World of Disney. They have changed this since we were last here. It now has an Adventurers room with a pirate theme and a Princess room where you find the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Salon. I was looking for a special item for my little Susannah so I didn’t check it out but DW looked at it and was glowing with ideas for our little princesses for upcoming trips. My wallet started to squirm as she was telling me. Next we checked out Leggo Land and thought about some Star Wars Leggos for my son Ben but we passed. I checked my watch and saw that it was around 5:30 so we headed out to get a bite to eat. My plan all along was to go to the new Irish Pub, Raglan Road. DW and I honeymooned in Ireland so we thought this was a perfect choice for our Anniversary. We walk up and you pass Cooke’s Fish and Chips, which we passed on, and walk right into Raglan Road. You go through a gift shop area that had some really nice items but we passed and were soon seated in the middle at a nice little table for two. I ordered a pint of Guinness and DW a diet coke but she soon added a pint of Smithwicks, which she tried in Ireland 13 years ago. I ended up drinking most of this but who was counting. Anyway we both wanted an appetizer so we split a Smokie City, which was Smoked cod in a cheddar like broth with double cream. It had a Bacon flavor an you eat it with bread. We ended up getting spoons and finished it like soup. It was amazing. For dinner DW ordered the “Sod… The Stew”, which was beef stew with a hint of Guinness, and I had the “Keen Eye for the Shepherds Pie”. Both of our meals were wonderful. We didn’t have room for dessert but the menu looked very good. I would highly recommend Raglan road to anyone who would ask. The only problem was that the live music wasn’t to start until 9:00 so we has to miss it. But it was a very good meal and made for lots of reminiscing about our honey moon. We started back but had to make a quick stop to get the Jo Jo & friends play set for my little Susannah, who is a big Jo Jo fan. We made the 10 minute walk back and freshened up and were off to POR to see Piano Bob. Before buying into DVC our favorite place to stay was POR so walking up to the main building had a special feeling for us. We looked around the lobby then headed into the River Roost Lounge and got a table near the front. I ordered a beer and DW ordered a Pina Colada which turned out to be very strong so she got a Virgin Pina Colada and mixed it to dilute it a little. Well the show started at 8:30 and there were only a few tables full but in no time at all, the place filled up and Bob was at his best. If you have never seen Piano Bob he is a real showman who really gets the audience, especially the kids, involved with songs and movements. I highly recommend him to anyone who asks. We stayed until around 9:45 then decided to head back to the resort. Both of us were a little under the weather and we wanted some sleep before we hit MK the following morning.
Even though we were without kids, our body clocks wake us up early, so we got dresses and walked up to the main building to have breakfast at the Artist’s Palette. We both had the breakfast platter which was pretty good. We then headed to the bus stop and were soon off to the MK. The bus full and DW and I had to stand but it was a pretty quick trip so no bother at all. We made it through the baggage check and into the park without any issue then DW said it was my choice and she would follow me today. This was different because we are usually planning our day at MK base on the kids activities. So I decided to hit the mountains first. We walked through AdventureLand and went on PoC. We walked right on. Then we headed to Thunder Mountain for a fast pass and got in the standby line for Splash mountain. The wait was 10 minutes at the most. We then walked right onto Thunder Mountain Railroad. The park had just opened and was not crowded at all, yet. We stopped for a snack of Peanut Butter Fudge and to take a picture of Pecos Bill on the marquee at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe. My son is on this Tall tale kick right now. You know, Pecos Bill, John Henry, Paul Bunyun, Johnny Appleseed, etc. So this was a perfect shot for him. Then we headed to FantasyLand and in honor of my good buddy Dewey, we rode “It’s a Small World”. Next it was on to the Grand Prix Raceway and rode the cars. I haven’t done this myself in years. Last time we came, the kids and DW rode but I didn’t get a chance. I got in this really slow car. This is about as close to NASCAR as I am going to get, (sorry Dewey) then we headed to Space Mountain where we had about a 20 minute wait. When we got off it was a little after noon so we decided to get an ice cream for a snack at the Main Street Ice Cream Parlor. If you ask me for my favorite place at WDW it just might be in the doorway to this Ice Cream Parlor. As you walk in you are blasted by cold air and then hit with the wonderful aroma of the waffle cones being made. I just love it. We then walked through the stores on Main Street and decided to head back to the resort. DW really wanted to take that rain check and go to the Florida Mall so we hopped the bus back to SSR. We went up stairs to freshen up then go in our car and headed for I-4 towards Orlando. Now last time we went to Florida Mall I could have sworn that there was a sign on I-4 for the exit but this time I didn’t see one and 15 miles later I decided to stop and ask for directions. We were at exit 94 and found out that we needed to go back to exit 80. Oh well it was a nice drive…It’s a good thing gas isn’t priced ridiculously…Duhhhh!!! So we made it to the mall and DW wanted to go to Gymboree. Now DW is one of the biggest Gymboree fans in the world. I mean she is on this fan website and even has her own little ebay store to sell clothes that my girls have outgrown. So Gymboree was having this big sale so she had to go. I on the other hand I decided to go to the PlayMobil store to look for items for the kids. This is a great store and my kids already own allot of Playmobil stuff so adding on is always an option. After about an hour DW meets up with me and we get a few items for the kids. Then it is back to the resort for a little rest before our big Anniversary Dinner at O’hana’s. We get changed and drive over to the Polynesian resort a little early, our AR is for 7:50, so we decided to walk by the pool. DW gets a table by the lake and I get us a couple of frozen drinks to wet our whistles. DW has a Pine Colada and I get a Lava Flow which is a mixture of Strawberry Daiquiri and Pina Colada. We sit down and drink our drinks and head inside to check out the gift shop. All of a sudden DW looks at me and says that she needs to sit down. At almost the same time I need to sit down. So we rest on the benches by the center of the lobby. All I can figure is that the drinks we had just hit both of us. It was this big pain in my stomach. I’m thinking, “Oh great, we are about to eat at O’hana’s and we have stomach aches.” Well after 15 minutes or so we both start to feel better so we head upstairs to check in. We sit in the little lounge area and wait about 25 minutes and are seated at 8:00. We had a 7:50 AR and were seated at 8:00, not bad. I had mentioned when I made the AR that it was our Anniversary so I had hoped to get a good table. We were seated right by the kitchen. We still had a view out the window towards the MK but it was not too great of a table. This is probably my fault because I didn’t say anything when we were seated. I am one of those people who do not like to make waves so I never spoke up. Our waiter, I mean Cousin, came out quick and her helper started delivering the food. It came fast and furious. I mean we just started one item and the next course came. I felt kind of rushed. When the main course came, the beef was a little undercooked. I know some people like rare but this was still mooing at me. The pork and sausage was really good but the turkey was overcooked and dry. I was using the dips from the chips to moisten the meat some. The meal was okay not great. But then the dessert came and it was amazing. I just love the Bread Pudding with the Bananas Foster Sauce. I could have eaten several servings of that. Then the server brought us over two cupcakes for our anniversary and said congratulations and left. We paid out bill and headed back to the resort. The meal was okay but it was so magical the first time that we went this past February that we were a little disappointed.
Again our body clocks wake us up early but that is okay because we planned to go to AK first thing to try Expedition Everest. It was EMH for AK but we really didn’t plan it too well and with the bus being late we arrived just as the park was opening so we had to stand in line with everyone else. Oh well, so much for EMH. The lines were big but moved pretty quickly. I still think that the entrance to AK is too small. Anyway we make it in and head straight to Asia to get on EE. The wait says 20 minutes so we hop in line and make our way through the walkway and I even find a hidden Mickey. In one of the buildings, there are some snowman toys in a caged shelf and one of them has Mickey ears on his head. We make it to the train and are soon off. This is our first experience with EE so we are both really anxious. I love it. When you stop and go backwards we are both surprised and it really goes pretty fast. DW is her usual vocal self and when you see the Yeti neat the end she is really loud. What a great ride. It is right on top of my favorites now. When we get off of the ride we had already planned to just head on over to EPCOT. So we hop the bus and are soon in line to get our bags checked. After a little wait we are soon in and immediately are taken but the topiary at the front of Space Ship Earth with Donald & Daisy in a rowboat amongst Hearts. We get our picture taken and then decide to go in Innoventions to send a picture postcard to the kids. While DW is typing in the information I head to the Land and get Fast Passes for Soarin’. I meet up with DW and we head towards the Pin Station to check out the Pin for the Flower and Garden Festival. It was nice but we thought nothing special so we passed. We then headed towards the World Showcase but stopped behind the fountains to get pictures of the Snow White and Bambi & Thumper Topiaries. Then we headed on over to the crossroads and took pictures of the Topiaries of Mickey & Minnie, Lady & the Tramp and Belle & the Beast. As always these are amazing to see. Next a garden shop catches DW’s eye since they had these metal Frog figures on a pole that you put in your garden area. DW loves Frogs so these were a must and she purchased a few for our garden. Then we started out trip around the World Showcase counter clockwise. We had no had anything to eat yet and it was around 11:15 so we headed straight to one of our favorites, the Tangereine Cafe in Morocco. We ate our lunch on the patio and it was quite nice in the breeze.
After lunch we had decided to try and find a little treat to bring back to our friend who was watching our kids. She loves Raspberries and Chocolate so we went to France and found these great cookies. We figured that they would melt if we walked around with them so we decided to wait until we were going to leave them come back and buy them. We then looked in the cafe and DW and I decided to get a little treat for ourselves. DW has a Chocolate Croissant and I had a Strawberry Tart. Both were very good. We then decided to walk back towards the front to ride Soarin’. As we got to the UK, DW wanted to check to see if she could find another treat for her friend but there was nothing she liked. At that point I noticed DW didn’t look like she was feeling very good so we decided that I would go back to France and buy the cookies and then the two of us would ride Soarin’, then DW would go back to the resort to nap while I stayed and walked around EPCOT. So I bought the cookies, and we headed towards the Land. On the way DW took a picture of the TinkerBelle and Lumierre Topiaries. Then we rode Soarin. Soarin’ is still a close second to EE as my favorite ride at WDW. I would say the top 3 are EE, Soarin’ and Tower of Terror. In no particular order. We walked back to SpaceShip Earth and said our goodbye and DW went back to SSR and I headed out to take as many pictures of the Flower & Garden Festival as I could to show DW what the rest was like.
I went right to the Butterfly Garden then to Mexico and around the World Showcase clockwise. Norway was interesting with the grass on the roof and China had some Bonsai trees and a Panda Bear Topiary. There was a spot by Germany with Topiaries of 3 of the 7 Dwarfs by a diamond mine. In the American Adventure section there were these big red, white and blue topiaries of stars. Of course in Japan there were several bonsai trees. I was getting hot and needed a libation so I waited until I got back to the UK and went into the Rose & Crown pub. Hey you have to keep up your strength, don’t you? I struggled for a moment between a 1/2 yard of Bass ale or a pint of Guinness. I decided on the Guinness. It was cold and I slammed it down. Boy on a hot day there isn’t much better than a cold beer. It was funny that of the people in the pub about 75% of them had to be from Great Britain stopping for a pint of something or another. Feeling refreshed I then headed to Canada and caught a little of Off Kilter. Then I decided to walk back toward the Living Seas to see if I missed any nice scenery. There was a really nice landscape and they were allowing kids to drive remote controlled SUV’s around on the grass. I then headed towards Mission Space to again check out the scenery and there was nothing special but on the way I did see this one little boy participating in the Lady Bug release. He had a vial filled with Lady Bugs and he was setting them free on a flower bed. Now I was getting a little hungry so I decided I would try Mexico again but all I ended up with was a Lime Margarita. Hey I have to keep up my energy don’t I???
Does anyone know the distance around the World Showcase? It definitely is a nice little trek.
Anyway I walked around the World Showcase again and decided to head on back to the resort. On the way out I noticed that there was a Stitch topiary on the back side of the Donald & Daisy topiary display. After a short wait I was on the bus heading towards SSR. I got off the bus at the first stop and walked to the main building and I bought the pink shirt and hat that DW had been eyeing when we first got there. I walked back to our room gave DW her little present and took a rest on our couch. It was EMH that night at MGM so we got dressed and decided to go on over for a few hours. We headed right for Tower of Terror and had a 10 minute wait and were soon on our elevator. I love this ride and had allot of fun riding with DW. We then decided to go to the ABC Commissary for dinner. After dinner we decided that we were not up to staying so we headed back to the resort and took a walk around the building by the lake. It was very nice. Back in our room we watched the Apprentice then were off to sleep.
We got up, packed our bags and checked a few of them at the main hall and headed back to MGM. We went straight to Tower of Terror for our second ride and had a better ride this time. It’s amazing how you can have a different experience every time you ride it. Then it was off to the ABC Commissary for breakfast. We found that this is a good place for breakfast on our last trip in February so it was a no brainer. Then we headed to Tatooine traders to look around before deciding to head to One Man’s Dream. This is one of DW’s favorites and I like it too. It is one of those attractions that is harder to see with kids since they want to run through it. Then we went to catch the Who Wants to be a Millionaire show. The contestant made it to 64000 points before he lost. At the end DW was #5 on the board but I was nowhere to be seen. Oh well. Then we decided to go to the Art of Animation which is a new favorite of mine and then headed back to the resort. We had only planned on staying about a half day so it was fine. We had been to MGM recently, on 4/1 for my nephew’s birthday, so we didn’t feel that we missed anything. We had driven our car so we drove back to the resort and had a bite to eat at the Artist’s Palette. I had this amazing chicken with mango salsa flatbread pizza and DW had the Portobello roast beef sandwich. We decided to share but mine was amazing. On the way out, we stopped to check out the gift shop one last time and DW surprised me with this really nice DVC polo shirt. We picked up our bags and were soon headed towards Brandon. We had a great trip and hope to be back soon.