January Trip Report Day Five: ALL THE MEAT

January 29, 2014
Miles walked: 5.18
Pins traded for: 2

Today started out looking pretty dismal: thanks to work actually expecting me to work (weird?), I never once left the hotel room until “5:00” (read: 4:15, but fuck it).

Brrrr.

Brrrr.

My Mother also freed herself from work obligations about then, and despite the rain and 43 degree temperature (WTF, “Florida”?!?!), we headed for a quick jaunt into the Magic Kingdom before our 7:50PM ADR at my personal temptress, the Yachtsman.

(Wait, if the Yachtsman is a man, then would the correct term be “tempter”? “Tempterer”? “Lead role in fantasy where I whisper sweet nothings into the ears of steaks, realize they have no ears, and then eat everything in sight while moaning erotically”? Whichever.)

Meanwhile, back at the Magic Kingdom and meat-free for the moment, I looked at my watch (not my MagicBand, as that does not tell time, no matter how often you glance at it expecting to see otherwise) and saw the hour turn to 5:00PM: I was officially on vacation!!!!! This was a cause worthy of celebration and running through the streets with joy!

Wet partners.

Wet partners.

And running through the Magic Kingdom I could’ve. You know what a Thursday in January with an EasyWDW.com crowd calendar rating of 1, combined with rain and 43 degree weather results in? A most wonderfully deserted theme park. We used our FP+ for Space Mountain, and then walked right on to Buzz Lightyear, Pooh, It’s a Small World, and Pirates – mix in our other two FP+ for Haunted Mansion and Peter Pan, and we’d hit up almost all of my favourite attractions in less than 1.5 hours.

Feels crowded

Feels crowded

We would’ve done even more, but it was time to head back to the buses in order to have enough time to shed our soaking wet clothes (and that was with both ponchos and an umbrella, thank you very much) and get into something more appropriate for dinner.

I was trying to argue that we were allotting way too much time to Waiting For A Bus and should instead exit slowly through the Emporium to pin trade (do you know how hard it is to stalk outdoor CMs for pin trading purposes when they’re wearing coats?! It’s like they care more about their own comfort than my ability pillage their pins. Inexcusable), but I was overruled.

And wouldn’t you know it, we stood in the cold for a good 30 minutes waiting for a bus to the Boardwalk. Hell, we saw four buses come and go for the All Stars in the time it took one bus to arrive for us. Is that any way to treat Deluxe guests?! I’m composing my indignant, rage-filled entitlement letter to management right now.

Some longer-than-anticipated period of time later, we finally arrived back at the hotel with barely enough time to find dry clothes, let alone take a whack at blow-drying. And, as I don’t associate 43 degree weather with “Florida,” the outfit I had packed for this dinner was a short, sleeveless dress and jellies. I’d say “FML,” but I was about to be eating at the Yachtsman, so I’m assuming that I don’t deserve all that much sympathy here? Maybe?

We took off on foot to speedwalk our way to the Yachtsman in order to meet up with my aunt and eight other coworkers of hers and my mother’s. In exchange for the use of my Tables in Wonderland discount, I was getting a free meal expensed to their company. (I feel your well of sympathy starting to reach drought status.)

Meanwhile, my aunt and the others had never been to the Yachtsman before, so part of my day stuck in the hotel, between work nags, was spent on hand-drawing maps of Crescent Lake and the Yacht Club Resort (incidentally, this was the exact same thing My Mother was doing at the convention — though she had the assistance of a white board for her renderings). Given no other aid in finding the restaurant, it was a real toss up of whether or not my aunt and crew would even be there when we arrived, five minutes late.

Seems accurate, yes?

Seems accurate, yes?

Huzzah! They had made it and checked us in! All present and accounted for for our 7:50 ADR. What’s this? Oh, they’re not entirely ready for us? No problem – I enjoy drinking at Crew’s Cup. And so we headed there, me and a bunch of Frenchmen, because that’s how I roll. No, really – half of our party were dudes from the company’s French office. Because that’s how they roll.

There was a bit of a language barrier; “Tables in Wonderland discount” and “Annual Passholder” weren’t translating all that easily. Each time I asked if they understood, my favourite and Frenchiest of the bunch, Francois, would reply, “yes.” After awhile, the one who spoke the best English finally confessed that Francois did not understand and is just going to reply “yes” to anything I said. Give me another Manhattan, rewind the clock to 2007, and I’d be breaking out the only French I know: “Voulez vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?”

Luckily for My Mother’s ability to show her face at work the next day, it was 2014, and I’m a spoken-for lady.

Well, at least two out of three of those descriptors are true.

Interestingly, the Frenchmen were in utter disbelief that I didn’t speak French. I’m not sure why they’d assume that all Americans spoke French as a second language, but they did. So much so that they started speaking to me in French, assuming I’d know what they were saying because I’d clearly been playing a practical joke on them this entire time by “pretending” not to understand them. Silly Frenchies.

After one round of drinks, still wet and cold and at this point ravenously hungry, I went to check on the progress with the ADR. Nope, still waiting. Time for round two. And then another check on the progress. Still not ready. At this point, we’d been waiting over an hour. Luckily, we had in our party a man far more assertive than myself. He ascertained that there was, indeed, a screw-up with our ADR, and he made sure to speak to someone in charge. We were eventually seated at about 9:30 and told that dessert was on the house.

NOW LET THE FEEDING FRENZY BEGIN.

For reasons that I don’t entirely remember (perhaps because by that time I was already on my third cocktail and a severely empty stomach or because this was five months ago now and I didn’t take very good notes), we didn’t seem to get appetizers until 10:07PM. Hell, the bread service didn’t even appear on our table until 9:50. By now, the offer for free desserts would’ve probably best been altered to “free breakfast,” as that would be more in line with the timing of events thus far.

All I have to say is, crazily enough… it was all worth the wait. Holy. Fuck.

I bow to thee.

I bow to thee.

I mean, first of all, when the bread (which was apparently baked just for us, at least I’m assuming so based on how long it took to arrive) is served with roasted garlic on the side… I give in. You win. I’ll do whatever you want. You own me. And then there was my charcuterie board that had me high-fiving each individual piece of meat before I ate them because I wanted to properly celebrate their awesomeness.

MEATASTIC!

MEATASTIC!

Sadly, I don’t think My Mother was having quite the same bromance with her meal, but that’s probably because she doesn’t eat red meat. I would assume, if any place were going to turn a (semi-)vegetarian into a meat lover, the Yachtsman would have that power. But alas, My Mother was not looking to find Meat Jesus that night, and instead asked the chef what he could whip up for a vegetarian (he was already at our table to talk to a gluten-phobic member of our party). I guess he missed the memo that she also loves seafood and chicken, because they next thing you know, she’s being served what’s probably the world’s most expensive pasta dish with steamed vegetables. I guess the chef is a one trick meat-centric pony?

Regardless, my ribeye was to die for. Perfectly cooked (nice and rare!), juicy, full of flavor. Then again, it’s hard to go wrong with any dish that comes with a side of bone marrow. And bleu cheese butter?! Throw some bacon on that shit, and you’ve got heaven (or a heart attack. But that could lead to heaven, depending on your religious beliefs?). I had been tempted to order the 28oz porterhouse, but I wimped out. Also, it didn’t come with marrow. However, the skinniest dude at our table did order it, and he practically licked the bone clean. It’s always the ones you least expect…

Meanwhile, I may have gotten a smidge carried away with the bread, garlic, the dude next to me’s truffle fries, and my charcuterie, because there was no way I was finishing my meal. Or touching that “free” pumpkin cheesecake that somehow made its way in front of me somewhere around the near-witching hour of 11 o’clock. No matter – that’s what mini-fridges are for! And as you know if you’ve been following our journey from the beginning, we most certainly needed more food in our room.*

*This is blatant sarcasm. Just thought I’d help you out in case you weren’t keeping up.

Random picture of balloons to break up the wall of text.

Random picture of balloons to break up the wall of text.

I had been curious all along to see what a tab for a party of 11 at the Yachtsman plus cocktails and non-shitty wine choices would come to, but when we finally got the bill at 11:30PM, I was way too drunk tired to remember that I cared. So your guess is as good as mine. I’m going to go with “a lot.” In fact, I’m pretty sure my 20% TiW discount more than paid for my share of food and drink. Which is why I snagged the rest of one of the bottles of wine we’d ordered. What?! No one else was calling dibs on it, and it goes against my religious beliefs to waste alcohol.

The healthiest course of action right about now would’ve been to roll one’s self home and pass the eff out, but oh no. We had obligations elsewhere. My mother and aunt’s boss was expecting the group to join him at Kimono’s for karaoke and drinks. “More drinks?!” Yes, more drinks. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I could fit the sheer volume of liquid inside of me at this point, but I was peer pressured to give it a go.

I ended up with a cocktail that boasted lemon-infused ice. While I envisioned ice cubes delicately concocted of lemon juice, what I ended up with was a high ball glass (and teeth) full of lemon zest as my drink melted. It felt like I had just eaten corn on the cob, but with better breath afterward. Good concept; poorly executed.

After a few painful renditions of European tourists butchering Disney classics, I tried to call it a night, but I was talked into staying a bit longer because one of the coworkers was to be going up to the mic next. Well, I’m glad I stuck around. Why? Because dude was a former professional opera singer. Nothing seems to command the attention of a bunch of drunk convention-goes like someone not assaulting your eardrums with their take on “Piano Man.”

However, even melodic genius couldn’t keep me awake, so around 1:30AM after song #3, I bid my adieu to everyone and the French and hoofed it back to the Boardwalk alone with my doggie bag of steak, cheesecake, and half bottle of merlot. My Mother stayed out for another round; she’s far cooler than I am.

I believe when she ultimately returned, I was found asleep on the pull out couch, cuddling a now empty bottle of wine. I may not be cool, but I do know how to warm up.

He watches you sleep.

He watches you sleep.

I can’t.

Insert your own meme here.

In this case, what I’m “I can’t”ing about is trying to figure out a way to have a fun, relaxing, enjoyable weekend with Mark in WDW on a budget of $17.35 and given approximately 32 hours total.

Let’s take a closer look at the tangled web of crap that floats through my brain, shall we?

(Click to enlarge.)

Flowchart

Le sigh. I suppose I just won’t be able to get to Disney that weekend, and will instead have to wait… Wait and wait and wait…

Waiting two, whole, agonizing weeks until my trip with @WonderlandNerds.

Oh, did I not mention that? My bad.

Trip Planning: Or, How to Jam FUN Down Someone’s Throat

I’ve lived in Florida now for exactly 60 days. And do you know how many times I’ve visited Walt Disney World in that time? Zero. Zee. Fucking. Ro. I’m the worst Disney fan ever.

BUT! I’ve broken down and decided I can wait no more. So I’m planning my very first quick weekend at Disney for early September (oh, is that coincidentally the same weekend as the annual pin trading event? Weird). However, this weekend comes with a catch: I’m dragging along my boyfriend, Mark, against his will. And I am determined to make him enjoy every second of it. This is where I need your help. Yours and probably some mystical overlord’s or Zeus’s or Walt’s ghost or whomever you pray to; that’s how much of a challenge this is. Allow me to lay out the details:

Kaa

1) Mark hates Disney. He’s been only once, a decade or so ago, with his ex-wife and two daughters when they were young. So, you know, the usual family-style trip. No matter how I try and explain that Disney World is far different when you swap out children for day drinking around Epcot, he still has PTSD from the one time he got stuck on It’s a Small World for a whopping 10 minutes. (Incidentally, each time he recounts this “terrifying tale,” the time span seems to grow; currently, I believe he’s stating that the ride was down for seven hours and people starting wetting themselves). All in all, he’s going into this weekend convinced that 48 straight hours of being hit in the dangly bits with a tire iron sounds more appealing.

2a) We be broke as shit. As such, I believe we’ll be staying at the illustrious All-Star Sports (I tried finding a $40/night Motel 6, but apparently that’s sold out). It would be a lot easier to convince Mark of Disney World’s awesomeness with a savannah view balcony at AKL. Instead, I’m going to have to try and talk up the benefits of giant balls.

2b) I think we can probably allow for one table service dinner. Deciding exactly which restaurant to pick will be a real challenge. I could definitely woo him with the Yachtsman, but alas, not going to happen. What’s the next best can’t-go-wrong choice? Picabu Buffeteria?

3) He’s weird about food. Me? I have no problem hitting up the Wave for a breakfast buffet at 9:00, then lunch at Sanaa at 1:00, then dinner at Kouzzina at 7:00. In fact, going a full six hours between meals like that probably means there’s room for a Dole Whip in there as an afternoon snack. The running joke we have is that whenever I announce I’m hungry, Mark replies, “when were you not?” He, on the other hand, will look at an all-you-care-to-eat buffet with fear in his eyes, pick daintily at a few items, declare that he’s full, and maintain this stance for the rest of the day. How am I supposed to work with this?!?!? At least it’ll make budgeting easier. Sigh.

4) We will be there less than 48 hours. This is not a lot of time. How do I plan a “nice, relaxing, slow-paced” weekend when in reality, I’m going to want to run around like a manic child on uppers?

5a) Mark, like every other human being on earth, hates lines. I have to guarantee him that he’ll never wait longer than five minutes for anything.

5b) Mark is not going to want to rope drop.

6) Mark does not like shopping. This fact alone makes me start to rethink the entire idea of bringing him with me.

It’s not all doom and gloom — he does enjoy roller coasters, drinking, and isn’t a picky eater. And, most importantly, he’s pretty good with pin trading. He actively points out Cast Memberss with lanyards and says, “look, honey, I found your next victim.”

So what to do? Any tips or advice you may have from dragging unwilling participants to the parks? Do you involve chloroform and duct tape in your pre-trip routine? And does anyone know how to be truly selfless and do only what would make your loved one happy? I’m at a loss on that last one. Hence why I’m dragging him to Disney World.

January Trip Report Day Four: Lights, Motors, Drunj!

Number of pins traded for: 21
Number of miles walked: 6.64

Tuesday of this trip started off much the same as the previous day: working nine to five from our Boardwalk Villas room. Luckily, I was able to use my “lunch break” to do a quick pin trading loop around all the resorts of Crescent Lake. This is a sharp contrast to how I would normally spend my lunch breaks at home: watching TV on my computer and struggling with the decision of whether or not I was going to put on pants or say, “fuck it” and just remain in my bathrobe all day. The robe usually won. Man, I miss working from home.

Not wearing a Disney bathingsuit.  Because they don't' sell those.

Not wearing a Disney bathingsuit. Because they don’t’ sell those.

After lunch, I decided to move my “office” to the Boardwalk Villas’ quiet pool where I quickly discovered their secret to keeping it quiet: no heat in the pool. Even in Florida, it’s still January, and no one wants hypothermia and shrinkage. No matter, as last time I checked, working on a laptop from within a pool can lead to certain hazards and is generally not recommended.

My Mother joined me eventually once she was free from work obligations, and we enjoyed some light apps on our veranda while we counted down the minutes until the true pinnacle of the day: The private IBM party at Hollywood Studios.

Every year, on the final night of the convention, IBM spends lord only knows how much money to rent out an entire theme park and load it to the brim with free food and alcohol. It is literally my definition of true perfection. Years past have been at Islands of Adventure, Hollywood Studios again, and SeaWorld. The one year that they were having it at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we got snowed in in Boston and missed it; I cried. Both my sister and I cried. Actual tears. In public.

The previous time the convention party was held at Hollywood Studios, they paid a bunch of people to pretend to be paparazzi. All us convention-goers (or convention-crashers, like me) lined up at the Dolphin, boarded over a dozen buses, and were dropped off at the back entrance of Hollywood Studios. And then, as we stepped off the bus, there they were: hoards of people begging for our autographs and taking pictures of us. It was probably one of the top five most awkward experiences of my life, up there with being accosted by a masked performance artist and losing my virginity (for the reference, those were two, separate events).

Now it's a party hat.

Now it’s a party hat.

I was the only person excited about this.

I was the only person excited about this.

Thankfully, IBM must’ve received and digested all of my hate mail regarding the subject, because this year all that was awaiting us as we entered the park were table upon table of beers and wine. Much better.

The buses actually dropped us off behind the Lights, Cars, Something! Stadium where the first thing we saw was Walt’s plane parked practically within arm’s length. I started fan-girling so hard that after at least 27 selfies with the plane and then my bird-to-shiny-object attention drawn to all the alcohol, I didn’t notice the bag check people. I was almost thrown out of the party before I even got in it. Oops.

Not enough hands for drinking, eating, photographing, and live-tweeting.

Not enough hands for drinking, eating, photographing, and live-tweeting.

We entered into the Lights, Booze, Happiness! stadium from under the bleachers, emerging right smack in the middle of the show’s “stage.” I started taking 2,394,869 pictures because when else are you able to be that up close and personal with this set? Then I realized, who wants to be that up close and personal with that set? Oh well.

Lights, Motors, Swine!, much like the Statue of Liberty, is a thoughtful gift from the French.

Lights, Motors, Swine!, much like the Statue of Liberty, is a thoughtful gift from the French.

Ectocooler, Mickey, and me: the best menage-et-trois ever.

Ectocooler, Mickey, and me: the best menage-et-trois ever.

The party had us trapped in the arena until the “official” start time of 7:00PM. In the meantime, free food was provided in the form of Mickey pretzels and popcorn, in addition to all the beer and wine, of course. Oh, and ectocooler. I don’t know what it actually was, all I know was it was blue, sweet, and the only hard alcohol offering at the party, so it was what I was drinking by the bucketful. This is evidenced by pictures of me and my ever-increasingly blue mouth throughout the party.

Mom and I tried to position ourselves appropriately so that once the gates were opened, we’d be in the front of the herd. And while running was prohibited, we did our best to speed walk straight to Rock-n-Rollercoaster.

While at the party, I kept thinking to myself, “the only rides they have open are Toy Story Midway Mania, Star Tours, RnR, and Tower of Terror. That’s a little lame.” Then I realized, those are all of the rides at DHS (well, that and Great Movie Ride, another awkwardfest of bad acting). More than a little lame.

We boarded RnR with absolutely zero wait (did I mention that the number of party goers is only a tiny fraction of the usual park attendance? Perfection). Then on to Tower of Terror. And again. Because zero wait. And if that weren’t a highlight enough, there was also the fact that they stretched out your ToT ride length way longer than normal. It was like getting to ride a coaster twice around.

Free to take my time in the lobby.

Free to take my time in the lobby.

Pretty sure adults on free ectocooler appreciate the attractions way more than children.

Pretty sure adults on free ectocooler appreciate the attractions way more than children.

Cheeeeeeese!

Cheeeeeeese!

Characters were also out and about, and while I’m usually opposed to meet and greets, I humoured My Mother and got in the tiny line for Mickey and Minnie. You know what’s great about adult-only private parties in the park? No one tries to interact with the characters. Thank god. I know, I know – lots of people see that as a true highlight of the park-going experience: that ability to actually have a real, personal interaction with the character in character. For me, I always just find that to be uncomfortable. Not as uncomfortable as fake paparazzi, but still. Like, we’re all adults here – I know you’re an actor who’s severely underpaid and doesn’t actually care if it’s my birthday. I’ll save us all the faking it, just have my picture taken, and be on my way.

Anyway, the whole experience turned out to be worth it times infinity because I GOT TO TAKE A SELFIE WITH MICKEY AND MINNIE. I swear, it’s a bigger deal than Ellen’s celebrity group selfie at the Oscars. Way bigger. And yes, my mouth was quite blue by that time, as you can see. Thank you, Mom, for suggesting this meet and greet!

EPIC.

EPIC.

After that, it was time to find some real food, so we weighed our options of which quick service restaurant was the least offensive. I think we decided that when everything is free, it’s hard to be too offended. Yes, that’s right, FREE EVERYTHING. You walk up to any counter service restaurant and say, “I’d like to order all the food,” and you get all the food. No monies exchanged. Not even a MagicBand used. Now that’s what I call magical.

Out of laziness and poor timing on our parts, we ended up at Sunset Whatever, munching on would-be-offensive-if-we-paid-for-it burgers, some okay chicken fingers, and a Caesar salad. Not the best option in the world, but we were more focused on getting to the rides (and stopping every 20 feet for more ectocooler) than scarfing the free grub.

Prettiness.

Prettiness.

At about 9:30, our own private fireworks show went off, and by 10:00, we were being ushered out of the park. Far too soon, if you ask me. A) I wanted to ride everything at least another 67 times, B) I could totally have gone for a round two on dinner, and C) I’m fairly certain I could’ve gotten my mouth a darker shade of blue if given the opportunity.

Alas, no. Off to the buses we went, with me sporting a blue pout the whole way. All in all, it was a pretty epic evening. Not sure how we could top that experience during this trip, and yet… we did. Stay tuned!

I’M STILL ALIVE: A non-Disney update

No, I’ve not quit the blog nor forgotten about it. I’ve just been a wee bit too busy lately to sit down and type something up. What’s keeping me so distracted, you ask? Well, as most of you know by now, I MOVED TO FLORIDA!!!!!

Sadly, I’m still three hours away from Orlando, but hey – we’re moving in the right direction, yes?

Also, can you say “Florida Resident Discount”??? Hells yes.

I accepted a job offer in Fort Myers. While this was fantastic news, it then put me in the delightful position of immediately having to drive the 12 hours down from Raleigh to find a home (a 48 hour whirlwind House Hunters From Hell), drive back to North Carolina, pack an entire house in four days by myself, then drive the 12 hours back to Fort Myers (this time alone), have one weekend to get situated, then immediately start the new job. In the three weeks since, I’ve been spending all of my free time outside of work unpacking (and/or floating in my gorgeous pool, minor details). And if that weren’t complicated enough, I still don’t have internet at my house, as Comcast is about as competent at providing service as my cats are of refilling my margarita and delivering it to me in the pool. Bastards, all of them.

And even if I were tempted to blog on company time* WHICH I’M NOT BECAUSE I’M A MODEL EMPLOYEE, coworkers/bosses have already stumbled upon this here blog! The most shocking aspect is that they found and read this before deciding to hire me. I guess miracles do happen.

So anyway, until Comcrap decides to bestow the gift of internet upon me, or until I’m finished unpacking, or until I’m bored with floating in my pool (feel free to place bets on which is most likely to happen first), I may continue to be a bit on the quiet side. I do apologize, but know that I miss you as much as you miss me! (I’m assuming you miss me A LOT, obvi).

*I WROTE THIS ON MY LUNCH BREAK, DAMNIT.

Kill Refurb Marry — Animal Kingdom Drink Edition!

Kill Refurb MarryIt’s that time of month again! Time to play along with This Happy Place Blog and Mouse on the Mind where we choose something to execute, something to fix up, and something to profess our eternal love to. And what better category to play with than DRINKS? Especially those residing at the Animal Kingdom. So without further ago, let’s play…

Kill
Lost on Safari, Dawa Bar’s rendition of a rum punch. Its menu description states it is, “Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum, Bacardi Superior Rum, and our refreshing Pangani Punch.” Sounds good, right? Wrong.

Here’s how the description should read: “Pre-mixed lame-ass over-priced fruit punch with just a light misting of some rum, likely not even enough to give an infant a buzz, but we’ll still charge you like it will!”

PASS.

Refurb
Initially, when I read this month’s theme, my mind immediately assumed it to be alcobeverages only (obviously), but apparently all imbibable liquids are fair game today. In that spirit (wink, wink), I shall be refurbing Kusafiri’s Mocha Iced Coffee. How so, you ask?

By adding alcohol.

(In Disney’s defense, they do offer this drink with Amarula added, but I’m voting we branch out a bit. What’s a good African whiskey???)

Next…

Marry
Dawa Bar’s Lost on Safari — made special.

Yes, that’s right. Same drink I killed… but… if you ask the bartender to “make it special,” the same pre-mixed over-priced punch is suddenly transformed with the addition of more than a shot of rum — at no extra charge. Suddenly, my rage is placated.