January/February Trip Report Day Eight: Ultimatums and First World Problems

I swear, normally I'm known for my wonderful handwriting.

I swear, normally I’m known for my wonderful handwriting.

My Mother is very graciously taking me to Disney World for my birthday next month. However, she’s ungraciously told me that this means I need to finish the trip reporting from our last trip before we embark upon a new one. That’s four more days’ worth in only 2.5 weeks. I know that sounds like plenty of time, but given that it’s taken me 8.5 months to write seven days, I’m feeling the pressure.

And you know what’s especially unhelpful when trying to tackle an undertaking such as this? When I go to look at my notes written on that day, and they’re borderline illegible and at best cryptic. Thanks, drunk January me.

Either way, we must forge on. So here we go… four days of reporting left… Today, I give you: Saturday, February first.

Number of pins traded for: 42
Number of miles walked: 6.77

This morning, we decided to act responsibly and take advantage of the free breakfast offered at the Concierge Lounge. Not to be too critical of free things that we were blessed to be mysteriously/magically upgraded to, but I’m going to go on record as saying that the free breakfasts at Hampton Inns are better than Club Level Disney. Sorry.

Am I huge, or is she tiny?

Am I huge, or is she tiny?

There just isn’t much there. It’s continental to the T. No waffle maker, no watery scrambled eggs, no wilty bacon — so sad. Instead, there are danishes and bagels, good coffee (do not ask me what brand — I’m oblivious to such details), cereals, and the one saving grace: the world’s best oatmeal. Hands down. Best. No contest. I’m pretty sure the secret is substituting water for heavy cream and miracles?

First up on the itinerary was to head to Animal Kingdom to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris; always best to harass animals first thing in the morning. From there, we decided to try some new things instead of our usual routine of Safari, animal treks, Everest, Dino, exit. I would never make the claim that Animal Kingdom is a half day park, yet somehow, I don’t seem to end up spending full days there. Clearly, that needs to be remedied.

Gives new meaning to the phrase, "how's it hanging?"

Gives new meaning to the phrase, “how’s it hanging?”

What’s new to us? Well, for starters, Wilderness Explorers! As we all know, I love free things, so I was appropriately pumped for the pretty little booklet and the many colourful stickers out there to earn! Only negative: you have to like, interact with people? And like, learn things? And do stuff? Ugh. This was not going to be as easy as I’d hoped. My first realization of this happened on the Majarajah Jungle Trek, where I was hoping to be handed a sticker for simply staring at bats for awhile (which I always do, as they have oddly obvious schlongs, and this makes me giggle). But no — the cast member wanted me to like, answer questions, and draw something. The nerve!

Luckily, I’m a former artist, so I whipped up a pretty sick bat house castle. Sticker: achieved.

Next new thing: Nemo the Musical. As a general rule, I’m not much of a fan of the shows. Being at Disney World really brings out my inner child, and apparently that child has a serious case of ADHD. The thought of waiting in a line to get in a theatre to then wait in a theatre for a show to start and then wait for that show to finish is just far too daunting when there’s a whole park out there to explore. However, in the name of newness, we walked on in.

Meow.

Meow.

Here’s my review: It was okay. It was a musical. People sang. There was music. People pay for this kind of stuff on Broadway??? To each their own.

Okay, fiiiiiine, it was cute, the actors are clearly talented, the sets were neat, and I liked the school of fish and their fun shapes. But that’s about the most you’ll get out of me, and I’m pretty sure I’m good for another 10 years of not seeing this show. SORRY.

We decided to break up the day by exiting over to Sanaa for lunch mid-day. As per usual, the bread service was killer. I ended up ordering the appetizer sampler for two for one as my lunch. What can I say? Musicals really bring out my appetite. The items on the platter (potato and pea samosas, lamb kefta sliders, and butternut squash bisque) were all pretty tasty, though I found the samosas and sliders to be a bit on the dry side. Luckily, I had nine accompaniments in front of me to remedy this.

Like shooting fish in a barrel...

Like shooting fish in a barrel…

After lunch, we relaxed at Kidani for a bit, pretending to be nature photographers. Not too shabby, right? (Just say, “right”).

Two heads are better than one.

Two heads are better than one.

Less pornographic than bats.

Less pornographic than bats.

First row = BEST row!

First row = BEST row!

Once back at the Animal Kingdom, we headed over to Dinosaur to use our second FP+ of the day. Sadly, we instead encountered the ominous Human Chain of Cast Members that always indicates an attraction is down. (Why is it that Disney thinks they need at least a dozen CMs to convey this message? Do they anticipate riots? Someone running through the chain, screaming “I’M GOING IN THERE NO MATTER WHAT YOU SAY!!!”? We may never know).

From the best I can decipher of the remainder of my notes for this afternoon, we rode Expedition Everest twice (both times waiting for the front row, a tip given to us by My Mother’s coworker, and I tell you — it’s amazing. Just do it. Always. All the freakin’ time. Once you go full frontal Yeti, you don’t go back), something about my getting pins and a kid didn’t(?) (haha!), and I guess it was in the afternoon that we went through the Majaraja Jungle Trek, not the morning (my bad for the revisionist history, like you even care).

Tibetan Flags2

Animal Kingdom was open until 7:00 or 8:00 that day, and I was really trying to make it a point to stay there after dark to experience the park (and Yeti) at night since I’d never done that before. Yet some time around 4:00 or 5:00, we found ourselves a little tired and decided that rather than force ourselves to do something just because it’s on the itinerary, we’d take a more relaxed approach and head back to the hotel to wing the rest of the night.

'Mingos are my favouritest.

‘Mingos are my favouritest.

I'm photobombing the martini, clearly.

I’m photobombing the martini, clearly.

With no set dinner ADR, we contemplated testing the magical powers of the Concierge Level Concierge (last minute Be Our Guest dinner spot? MAKE IT HAPPEN, JEEVES). Ultimately, we decided to create our own version of a pub crawl around our resort, starting with the Concierge Lounge, obviously. At that hour, it was “light apps and wine.” We stocked up on snack mix and beer and headed back to the room. Once there we actually consumed some of our hoard (thank god; it was starting to require its own suite). After moderate satiation, we ventured out to the Territory Lounge for cocktails. And then from there, it was full circle back to the Concierge Lounge, now full swing into its cocktail hour.

I managed to choke down some more Courvoisier (if it’s free, I’m going to like it, damnit) before we headed off to the final stop on our tour: the beach in front of our room for our nightly Electric Water Pageant viewing. Perfection.

I want this to wind around the canals in my neighbourhood.

I want this to wind around the canals in my neighbourhood.

Ultimately, it was one of those days where the never-ending mental battle between emphasizing relaxation versus accomplishments makes my head hurt. You’re on vacation — it’s supposed to be fun and leisurely. But it’s Disney World, and it would be a waste of time and money to spend hours sleeping in, or lounging by a pool, or doing anything that you could so easily do elsewhere.

Foggy night.

Foggy night.

This really brings me back to my thoughts during my recent weekend — I now have the luxury of being able to go to Disney World once a month or so, but that still does nothing to ease the guilt I feel if I don’t pack my day to the gills.

Two weeks ago, over the span of two and a half days, I only went on six attractions. I know some locals who are in the parks on a weekly basis rarely go on attractions anymore, and wear such a declaration as a badge of honour. But they’re the ones with the luxury to know that “there’s always tomorrow.”

For those of us who only get Disney World once a year (or less), we don’t have that gift of time. Now that I’m closer to being in the former category, I’m trying to adjust, but I still feel like a Depression-era baby at a free all-you-can-eat buffet. Or me at a free all-you-can-eat buffet.

Can you see the Hidden Bear Face in the facade of the building?

Can you see the Hidden Bear Face in the facade of the building?

I’ll get there, I know I will. But it’s days like this day in February, back before I ever knew I’d be living in Florida, that I literally have in my notes, “I did everything I wanted to do, but leaving before the park closed felt wrong. Should we have kept going?” That’s a level of institutionalized guilt that isn’t going away over night.

Top Ten Things I Learned on Last Weekend’s Super Quick Disney Trip

10. Parking is easy 55 minutes before park closing

Friday I sped as fast as was advisable to try and make it to the Animal Kingdom by 7:00 PM — just in time for one final hour! I had my AP and license ready to show the gate guard, but as I approached, I found the booths empty. I guess they don’t anticipate many speeding assholes hell bent on a smoked turkey sandwich from Flame Tree at that time of night.

Tree of Life at night.

Tree of Life at night.

In turn, there were also no parking lot attendants abusing their power to steer me into a shitty spot of their choosing. I sped toward the head of the lot, was highly tempted to park in a handicapped spot, but ultimately “did the right thing” and parked the first legal row behind those. So close.

But you know what was oddly crowded at that hour? Guest Relations. I guess it makes sense: everyone exiting the park, passing by, thinking, “gee, now’s probably a good time to go in and ask if my child can simply be handed all of the missing Wilderness Explorer stickers that she didn’t earn, only to be told ‘no,’ resulting in her screaming because she’s never heard Mommy and Daddy use this word before.”

Definitely not a great time for those of us in a hurry to try picking up a Tables in Wonderland card because damnit, I really wanted to save $2.00 on that turkey sandwich.

9. Hotwire is your friend

I’d been mostly scared out of ever trying Hotwire after hearing tales of “4 star” hotels turning out to be someone’s basement that was deemed unfit even for AirBNB, but when I saw a 3 star hotel in the Universal area listed for $7 a night, it seemed irresponsible not to purchase it. $15 later (damn you, taxes and fees!), I had myself a room and free breakfast! Hell, the price was so right, I bumped my stay up to two nights.

(Quick explanation for anyone not familiar with Hotwire: it’s a discount travel site that allows you to purchase a hotel room or car or whatever based on price and description alone — you have no idea what hotel you’re actually booking until after you’ve paid. Hence the “sounds great on paper!” and then you click “Purchase,” and next thing you know, you’ve rented the dumpster behind Seaworld where they toss the expired chum.)

My Mystery Hotel turned out to be the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham. It was clean, and I felt safe there. Ultimately, that’s what’s most important to me. Was it the sexiest hotel? No. Did the stove top of my kitchenette look like it was more likely to start a fire than it was to boil water? Maybe. Did the outlets next to the bed actually work, charging my phone overnight? 8% battery the next morning says no. But it suited my needs just fine. For $15 a night, would recommend to a friend.

8. Do not load up on free food just because it’s free

Hell, for $20 a night, would recommend to a friend, because breakfast was wonderful!*

*I get blinded by hunger pangs and the label “free” when applied to anything. It was your typical Hampton Inn complimentary breakfast: oatmeal, scrambled eggs, bagels, waffles, greasy meat options, etc. Said pangs and desire to abuse free offerings led to stuffing my face with two plates of food (in my defense, they had strawberry sauce and whipped cream for the waffles!). The result? Absolutely no room four hours later for Food and Wine booths at Epcot. I am the worst tourist ever.

Lesson learned: prioritize what you put in your mouth.

That’s actually really great life advice — even beyond Disney. You’re welcome.

7. Do not drink a liquid lunch before a bar crawl

What to do at Food and Wine if the very thought of eating anything makes you want to curl into a fetal position on the floor of the Chase Lounge? Drink, of course!

Such an attractive lunch!

Such an attractive lunch!

Toto, we're not at Epcot anymore.

Toto, we’re not at Epcot anymore.

I ended up with the Brewer’s Collection Beer Flight #2 (smoked beer? Would not recommend to a friend) with the earnest hope that by the time I finished sitting and relaxing with my four little lovelies, I’d magically have room for escargot and noodle gratin.

I did not.

Instead, I ended up having another beer, this time with fellow Disney lover, Kristen. And then another. Next thing you know, I’m taking selfies with the Tree of Life, ultimately realize I’m not even at Ecpot anymore, and I still haven’t managed to eat any solid food.

Did I mention that my evening plans included a bar crawl?

I make poor life choices.

6. How to win over a Disney-skeptic

Actually, I did not learn this. No idea how it happened. All I know is, Mark joined me for the first time ever for an evening at Disney World. We met at the Contemporary and had dinner at the Wave, then he followed me to the Boardwalk for drinking with hip people, and then we went back to the illustrious Hawthorn Suites. And he actually enjoyed himself. No complaining, no mocking, no tantrums, no heavy sighs, no glaring, no threatening to punch tourists. Amazing.

How did I do it? I don’t know… but I may try it again. And maybe — just maybe! — I can someday get him in the parks.

5. The Hipsters are lovely people

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not surprised that they’re lovely people — I just wanted to go on public record stating such. We met up with Jamie, Keith, Andrew, and Adam of the Disney Hipsters on their bar crawl/meet-up around Crescent Lake. I’m always a little apprehensive to attend events like this, just because due to the public “come one, come all!” nature of it, you never know what kind of crowd you’ll get. The last thing I want is to be recognizing people from Dateline’s To Catch a Predator. Or DrunkAtDisney.

Luckily, everyone* who showed up seemed perfectly lovely, and nice, and normal, and not at all creepy! I was very happy we went. I finally got to meet the Hipsters**, Mark met Mark, and Meg “met” me for the second time. Fun had by all!

*Almost.
**Except Keith.

4. Backpacks have their pros and cons

For the past two years, I’ve been using the same messenger bag as my Disney Bag — it does nothing other than go with me on Disney trips. However, my hoarding tendencies have apparently reached such a new high that the bag had become too heavy, forcing me to seek out a more ergonomic option. And thus The Backpack has entered my life.

This trip was my first time with The Backpack. It’s a cute little number from Kohl’s. Lots of exterior pockets for phone, pins, and other easy-access essentials. Minimal interior pockets annoys me, but I’ll live.

I was ready to open my heart when Saturday night, walking back to our cars, a woman stopped me on the Boardwalk. Naturally, I assumed she was a fan — either of me, or maybe The Backpack — both are natural contenders, obviously.

Nay, the woman was tapping me on the shoulder to inform me that with every step I took, The Backpack was inching up my dress, higher and higher, tucking it in behind The Backpack, ultimately leaving me Bottomless on the Boardwalk.

That creepy person at the Hipsters Meetup that you think you recognize from To Catch a Predator? Possibly me.

Also, fuck you, Backpack.

3. Rope Drop is not good enough

Shiny objects!

Shiny objects!

Sunday was to be my first time ever riding the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I had a 9:20 AM FP+ (the only time left available), but I wanted to ride it more than once, so I planned on rope-dropping the Magic Kingdom and heading straight there.

As per usual, I was running ten minutes late. So instead of getting through bag check at 8:40, I was getting through at 9:03.

Did I say ten minutes? I meant 23.

But still… three minutes behind park opening! Big deal, right?

Totally right! If by “big deal” we’re talking about the length of the line at Mine Train. At 9:07 AM, by the time I entered the line, it reached Storybook Circus and was estimated at 60 minutes.

2. Do not fuck with Scoop

I believe it was true fate that led me to Scoop yesterday — as I was exiting the Emporium to cross Main Street on my way out of the park, I literally walked into a huddle of people waiting for Scoop Sanderson to appear and trade pins. Naturally, I stopped to eavesdrop and learned that he was expected at 1:00. I looked at my watch: 1:01. Fate. Kismet. MyMagic+.

With 60 minutes, you have a lot of time to stare at the Mine Train queue.

With 60 minutes, you have a lot of time to stare at the Mine Train queue.

Six minutes later, Scoop showed up. By now, a decent size group had formed, maybe about 10 to 15 people. And with the fanfare of Scoop’s arrival along with other characters of Main Street, this drew even more attention and thus more people. We were looking at maybe 20 to 30 by now.

Scoop goes through his usual friendly introductions, making it a point to actually learn people’s names (he knew my name was from a song!), recognizing people he’s traded with before, introducing us to the other characters of Main Street, leading us in a song, asking trivia questions, asking who’s new, and finally using a number guessing game to determine where we’d start the line for pin trading.

Ultimately, this is what makes Scoop Scoop — this is what sets him apart from any random pin trading CM; he’s always determined to make the interactions special, personal, informative, and fun.

Sadly, I think his social (and impunctual) nature worked against him on this fair day as the scene started to get ugly…

First, you had the world’s ugliest and pushiest child, a girl whose likeness I’ll compare to a potential offspring resulting from the illicit sexual dalliance of Chunk and Sloth from the Goonies. If I believed her to be truly handicapped, I would never say such insensitive things. But I don’t believe her to be handicapped by anything other than poor parenting and bangs she had clearly cut herself.

Chunk/Sloth (Choth? Slunk? Let’s go with Slunk) shoved her way through the crowd, and thrust two pins at Scoop just as he’d arrived and started talking. She was completely oblivious to the people who were there before her, or the fact that Scoop was trying to talk to the crowd, or that he hadn’t even opened up his vest to reveal his pins. — Oh, but don’t worry about that last part, because Slunk just went ahead and used her other grubby paw to try and unbutton the vest herself. The brat literally tried to undress Scoop. Where were her parents? Why, they were beaming proudly in the background — how precious that Slunk has learned to use her opposable thumbs!

HalloweenMKLuckily, when we get to the part of this doomed tale where Scoop was using a numbers game to determine where the trading line would start, little Slunko ended up at the end of the line. My heart lifted; fate struck twice that day!

Scoop stated that he needed to be finished by 1:30, so he had been very clear that he wasn’t allowing more people to join the line. The Main Street band happened to come by right about then, so Scoop moved the line inside the Emporium. By this point, about half the people had made their trades. Imagine his surprise, then, when Slunk appeared next in line.

This story has gone on long enough, so I’ll wrap this up: I’m not exactly sure what happened next, but shit got ugly fast. Scoop confronted Slunk and her mother, who avidly denied any wrong-doing, saying they were simply joining Daddy Slunk in his mid-line position (why the family wasn’t initially standing in line together, I don’t know — maybe Daddy Slunk is embarrassed to be seen with his daughter in public? I wouldn’t blame him). Then Scoop called out some other kids for joining the line after he’d said no more additions; those kids started crying. Scoop called out another person for jumping in the line; that mother starts yelling in response. Scoop announced that he would now only trade one pin with each remaining person in line; more unhappy people grumble. The air was tense. A riot seemed inevitable.

It was about this point where A) I felt bad for Scoop and wondered why he didn’t have a handler like every other meet ‘n’ greet character, and B) I began to fear Scoop, as I saw the rage boiling inside of him. I think if it weren’t for the many witnesses and the importance of Always Staying In Character, Scoop would’ve lost his shit. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes home, makes his own explosives using Disney pins as shrapnel, and then uses them to blow up Goonies action figures.

There’s a darkness to that man.

Ultimately, he finished trading with everyone there — gritting his teeth in what I assume was an attempt at a forced smile, but ended up looking more like a snarl. The crying kids were coaxed back into the line, and the angry mother and her daughter were also permitted to trade. Everyone made it through the line, but I think a little piece of their Disney dream died that day… and another piece of Scoop’s fragile psyche cracked.

1. I’m in a strange Local/Non-Local limbo

Break out your tiny violins, because I’m about to start bitching about my first world problems.

You see, I’m trapped in this Disney Purgatory where I don’t have the luxury of living close enough to WDW to visit any ol’ day, but I also don’t live so far away that my only visits are micro-planned months in advance and treated like a special vacation.

I find myself feeling the usual Non-Local pressure of trying to see and do it all, lest I not get the chance again for awhile — yet I’m feeling the Local mentality of, “this isn’t a vacation, so I can’t be running around shops, buying myself presents and souvenirs or splurging on big dinners and such; it’s just another weekend to me.”

I assume that I’ll eventually get used to living three hours away — after all, this was only my second time there since moving to Florida. But meanwhile, I found myself going to bed last night regretting not doing more, knowing there was so much I missed, and feeling like a Disney failure. Woe is me!

Good thing I’ll be back in less than a month to make it up to myself :)

(Feel free to leave any and all hate mail in the Comments section).

I want this.

I want this.

January Trip Report Day Seven, Part 2: Losing the Battle of the Boats

Did I have this post 100% finished and ready to go when I wrote Part 1? Yes. Did I forget about it and let it sit around for two weeks as a draft? Yes. My bad.

Anyway, since you probably need a slight refresher, I’ll bring you up to speed: My Mother and I, after a full morning and afternoon of boat issues, end up lost in the woods between Fort Wilderness and the Wilderness Lodge, finally find our way home, arrive entirely soaked to the bone, but naturally hit up the Concierge Lounge prior to returning to our room to change. #Priorities. Okay, now for the rest:

_________________________________________________________________________

Only after stuffing cups full of gummy bears to bring back to the room (very necessary) did we actually go to the room to dry off and change. This respite didn’t last long, and we were soon off again to boat on over back to the Magic Kingdom in order to boat on over to the Polynesian for pins and Lapus. Boats boats boats!

These have potassium, right?

These have potassium, right?

Boat to MK: Captain literally dropped the rope in our face as we reached the dock. Mind you, this was the rope to the dock, as opposed to the rope barring entry to the boat. So, just to be clear: boat was still roped securely to the dock with the captain not even on board yet. But no, we were “too late.”

Fuck boats.

Once we’d finally ridden the next boat that had come along, we headed over to the Polynesian boat dock (because the monorail was down for maintenance between the hours of 11:00 AM and 7:00 PM each day; the boat was NOT my first choice by now). The line we encountered was astounding. We were finally granted passage on the third godforsaken boat to come by.

After this extravaganza, we only made it to the Polynesian pin board with two minutes to spare. Fucking boats.

My Mother orders a Manhattan, even at the Tambu Lounge. She's classy.

My Mother orders a Manhattan, even at the Tambu Lounge. She’s classy.

Luckily, we had a little over an hour to relax. We were able to kick back in the Tambu Lounge and enjoy a much-needed Lapu Lapu.

After this recuperation, libation, and time off our feet, we were off to our final stop of the evening: the Contemporary for some hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at the California Grill whilst overlooking Wishes. This was all part of my whirlwind tour to show My Mother all of the new gems (Tambu Lounge included) that I’d discovered in my Year O’ Annual Pass.

Unfortunately, given that it was still only 6:30, getting to the Contemporary meant one thing, and one thing only: MORE FUCKING BOATS.

Now, I may not have a background in Transportation Operations, but I think I could’ve organized this shit better. Even the line cook at Trail’s End who assembled the world’s saddest jalapeno poppers could’ve organized this better. It’s 6:30 PM: the Magic Kingdom doesn’t close until 10:00PM. This means that conceivably, you still have resort guests who would like to head in that direction at that time. Likewise, it’s late enough that you have enough guests leaving the park who want to head back to their resort. AND THERE’S NO MONORAIL. So why is it (as was confirmed by the one captain who pulled through in a span of 30 minutes on a boat already full from the Grand Floridian) that operations decided to reduce the number of boats running by half between 5:00 and 7:00 PM?? Riddle me that.

Goddamn fucking boats.

I was starting to get reaaaalllly cranky at this point, wet once again due to the rain returning, cold, and worried about missing our 7:10 ADR. I was trying to bribe My Mother with a cab when finally, in the distance, we saw a boat.

Boats. Like a bitch.

Our original plan was to walk to the Contemporary once we’d taken the boat to the Magic Kingdom, but luckily the travel karma gods took pity on us and decided to start running the monorails a whopping 5 minutes early, so we climbed into one of their warm, dry compartments and were finally on our way to another establishment that sells liquor.

My initial plan for the California Grill was just apps and drinks –- I mostly just wanted My Mother to see Wishes from up on high with a martini in hand; I figured we’d be full enough from other eatings, plus how many table service meals do we really need to fit into 11 days? (Answer: 12). Yet I made the ADR anyway, just so we were guaranteed a seat as opposed to winging it at the bar.

However, My Mother is not one to skimp out on experiences; she goes big or she goes home. So a full dinner it was! This was especially uplifting given that thanks to the aforementioned rain and accompanying fog, we may as well have been trying to view Wishes from the Utilidors.

First things first: wine selection.

While My Mother and I agree on many things, our taste in white wine is not one of them. I veer toward the sweeter end, while she likes it dry enough to feel like you’re drinking sand. (If you were to ask her, I’m sure she’d say something like, “I veer toward the palatable end, while Rhiannon likes it sweet enough to feel like you’re drinking liquefied pixie sticks.” This would be an unfair assessment: I do not like my wine that sweet. I’d say somewhere closer to the Skittles range).

Another of today's brilliant photographic captures.  Whoever can tell me what the hell this is or where it's from wins a prize. Spoiler: I don't know the correct answer to this.

Another of today’s brilliant photographic captures. Whoever can tell me what the hell this is or where it’s from wins a prize. Spoiler: I don’t know the correct answer to this.

We hemmed and hawed, finally seeking the advice of our esteemed waiter. I couldn’t help but notice that of his three recommendations, two were $60 bottles whereas the other was a “mere” $36.

I guess I forgot to mention my other criteria in wine: cheap.

(A brief explanation: I have a palate -– I do! I’m a bourbon snob, a vodka snob, a gin snob, a cheese snob, a BBQ snob, among many other forms of snobbery in my repertoire. But wine? Meh. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE wine. It’s just, if given a blind taste test, I couldn’t tell you the difference between a $30 bottle of pinot versus the $70 vintage. Tastes the same. Tastes like pinot. Tastes good! But when given the option of spending $60 on one bottle of wine or six cocktails or seven pins or a pair of shoes… the wine won’t win. A girl’s got to have her priorities).

Our waiter suggests we try a sampling of each bottle. What happens next is nothing short of miraculous (unlike, say, our view of Wishes): he returns with two glasses and all three bottles of wine. He talks about the first bottle and then pours a healthy “taste” for each of us. Ditto the next. By the time he gets to the third, another table was calling for him, so he left the bottle and told us to just finish it off – he’d be back to hear our final choice.

My vote? The $36 bottle, of course. My Mother was less than pleased. Apparently, after being given what amounted to almost two free glasses of wine per person, it’s considered rather gauche to order the cheap bottle.

I’m not used to being on the other side of snobbery judgment! It felt foreign and dirty.

I wish I could tell you that I caved and we got a nice bottle, but no. My Mother swallowed her pride and went low class. You’d think I was making her order a jug of Carlo Rossi. It was still a nice bottle of wine, damnit!

The rest of the meal went without incident (minus Wishes). When we left our table to go outside and view the non-existent fireworks, we returned to find that our table was covered in Mickey confetti! This was an adorable touch. Yes, I scooped it all up and took it home with me.

Allegedly, there are fireworks in this picture.

Allegedly, there are fireworks in this picture.

Finally, it was time to head back to the hotel, which meant only one thing: another fucking boat.

Luckily, fifth time’s a charm, and the boat from the Contemporary arrived quickly and dropped us off just as expediently. I didn’t even know there was a boat that went directly from the Contemporary to the Wilderness Lodge. You learn something new every day.

Good news: we made it back in time to head up to the Concierge Lounge for a glass or two of Courvoisier before heading to our room, and out to the terrace to end our day with a front row seat to the Electric Water Pageant. At least that can be viewed through the fog: I approve of those boats.

I heart the EWP.

I heart the EWP.

“If you can dream it, you can destroy it for profit.” – Not Walt

A mere twinkle in Epcot's eye. Interestingly, no mention of building snowmen.

A mere twinkle in Epcot’s eye. Interestingly, no mention of building snowmen.

For the most part, I try and stay out of the fray – trying to refrain from being labeled either a duster (“everything’s magical!”) or a foamer (“I’ll hate anything you do, because you’re not Walt”). I’m the Switzerland of the Disney Online Community.

Until now.

Disney, you’ve gone one step too far. Shutting down a beloved classic to make way for last year’s hit, this pathetically last-minute move to try and keep current whilst simultaneously continuing the depressing erosion of the park’s original intent and glory? Fuck you.

Does Epcot need some love, attention, and fresh new attractions? YES. Is closing Maelstrom to make way for more Frozen regurgitation the answer? FUCK NO.

The exasperating thing is that not only has Disney decided to entirely ignore the concept of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but they’ve decided to couple that ignorance with a new philosophy of “if it is broke, just leave it.”

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with Maelstrom. Could it use a coat of paint? Maybe. Is it the most thrilling ride in the park? No. Does it need to be completely obliterated from existence? Hardly.

Maelstrom is one of only two rides in all of World Showcase. Meanwhile, Future World sits by ignored, outdated, with an entire pavilion shut down and used only for festivals as a glorified gift shop. Captain EO is shockingly still in existence and gets its own FP+ status, while Innoventions West turns into an even bigger and more abandoned character meet-n-greet, and the Wonders of Life pavilion sells booze three months out of the year. What about the Odyssey Center? Does Epcot really need a first aid center of that size? And what of all these “spaces” where additional pavilions could be created?

So many “broken” things, yet you choose to fuck with the functioning and beloved Maelstrom.

Why? Ah, yes. Frozen. A perfectly fine movie that I quite liked… until it started poking its carrot nose where it didn’t belong – in Norway.

What frustrates me even further is this feeling that Disney is in a panicked frenzy of trying to do anything to divert attention from Universal’s success with Diagon Alley. But why the frenzy; what 7-figure-earning exec did not see this coming? Did Disney genuinely believe that their roughly $2B investment in MyMagic+ would be enough of a draw to compete with Harry Potter? Are they now shocked that kids are more interested in picking out wands than using a bracelet to open a hotel room door? Or did Disney honestly underestimate Universal’s ability to knock HP out of the park? Were they utterly dumbfounded to see the numbers roll in, now so desperate to compete that they’re willing to photocopy their Frozen Get Out of Jail Free card over and over anywhere and everywhere – including Norway?

Look, no one is denying that Frozen will bring in the crowds and give Disney those numbers that it craves. But why Maelstrom??? Do something in the so-defunct-we-no-longer-care Hollywood Studios. Or just a few tweaks could turn Avatarland into Frozenland (what? Just paint everything blue and white. Done).

Picking Maelstrom because “Norway inspired the fictional land of Arendelle” is just plain lazy. For a company made famous by its groundbreaking artistic vision and genius, this is sad, cheap, money-grubbing, ignorant, and LAZY.

People are comparing this move to shoving Nemo into the Living Seas, or the Three Caballeros revamping Mexico’s Rio del Tiempo boat ride, or the oft-fantasized about Ratatouille ride making an appearance in the France pavilion.

A) Nemo at least takes place in the seas, and it wasn’t replacing any existing ride.
B) The current Caballeros film still takes place in the nonfictional Mexico.
C) Ratatouille takes place in the it’s-a-real-country France -– and it would be adding a much-needed ride to the World Showcase.

Are any of these moves a perfect creative and cohesive fit to the overall vision of Epcot? Not really. But if we’re assigning a letter grade to each of these decisions, I’d give Nemo a C+, Donald and friends a B-, and Ratatouille a B. Frozen in Norway? D-.

Frankly, the only way I could envision a true F would be if Disney decided to level Morocco in order to make room for its newest pavilion: Star Wars Land. Sadly, even then, you’d have idiots online applauding the move of “something fresh and new in Epcot!” and “I LOVE STAR WARS!!!!!!!!!!OHMYGODIWETMYSELF.”

Disney, stop letting these people steer your decisions. Your bottom line and artistic integrity are not mutually exclusive; stop selling out the latter to pad the former. You can have both. Or maybe you forgot the recipe that has established your multi-generational success:

Step 1: Imagineering Genius
Step 2: Pixie Dust
Step 3: Profit

For the love of Walt, stop shoe-horning in steps 2b and 2c: Whoring and Laziness.

January Trip Report Day Seven, Part 1: Battling Boats and Time Warps

Number of Pins traded for: ???
Number of Miles Walked: 6.83

Friday morning presented us with quite the quandary: Do we eat breakfast in our room from the foods we specifically packed to be our breakfast? Do we choose from any one of the umpteen leftovers that had made their way into our lair? Do we keep the stash intact and head to see what offerings the Concierge Lounge may have for us?

The dusting.

The dusting.

We went with the obvious option D: None of the Above. Why eat free, available food when you can pay money for it instead? #EconomicRegrowth #You’reWelcome

We missed the boat to the Magic Kingdom by mere seconds, which kept us even farther from eating breakfast. Once we finally arrived, we leisurely shopped our way down Main Street (but first: PIXIE DUST!!!!), ultimately making our way into Tomorrowland to use our FP+s on Space Mountain. After that, it was time for Operation: Find Food.

Obligatory Pixie Dusted Selfie

Obligatory Pixie Dusted Selfie

Obligatory Castle Picture.

Obligatory Castle Picture.

Pro-Tip for anyone looking for a good, quick service breakfast spot in the Magic Kingdom: Go back to your resort.

Cosmic Ray’s? Not open before 10:30. Cheshire Cat Café? Cake Cups are not breakfast. Liberty Square Market? I will throw your overpriced dried fruits at you. Columbia Harbor House? Not open before 10:30.

My Mother finally gave in to the Market’s trail mix and a piece of fruit. I opted to starve myself until lunch, thus providing some plausible rationale for consuming over 1000 calories during that meal (which, let’s face it, was likely to happen regardless of what I did or did not have for breakfast; such is the “Disney Diet Plan” according to Rhiannon).

We enjoyed the rest of our morning at the Magic Kingdom taking in the usual sights and attractions. I decided to use our FP+ for the Haunted Mansion as my first real opportunity to flex the power of my brand new camera while photographing dark rides. Behold THE POWER:

I missed my calling in life.

I missed my calling in life.

Can’t win ‘em all.

We meandered on, taking in the Country Bears and the Enchanted Tiki Room before I ultimately found my breakfast: a Citrus Swirl (so much for my Diet Plan). We debated whether or not we would have time to use our FP+ on Thunder Mountain and still able to make it to our lunchtime ADR at Trail’s End. I, of course, having impeccable time estimation skills, said we’d be fine. My Mother, ever on the realistic overly-cautious side, said we would not. I strong-armed the operation.

Is it just me, or is there a hidden tiki god in this picture?

Is it just me, or is there a hidden tiki god in this picture?

Look, in my defense, I did volunteer to sprint the final distance from Main Street Square to the docks to hold the boat for us. And, in my defense, I did arrive at the dock before the boat pushed off. It’s just, in no one’s defense, the captain decided to pretend not to see me, only acknowledging me after he’d pushed off. You’re not fooling anyone with that coy little smile and faux-apologetic shrug! YOU HAD THE POWER, AND YOU ABUSED IT.

So there we sat, waiting for the next boat to bring us to lunch. Of course, I’d purposely made our reservation for the very last lunch seating of the day, 1:50, in order to maximize our time at the Magic Kingdom. Never had it occurred to me that this tactic could really backfire in the event that we arrived late.

We waited… and waited…

A boat arrived!!! To go somewhere else…

And another!! To go to the same place, because clearly the empty line of people indicated a high demand for that location.

Finally, our boat arrived.

…And then we got to await a change of captains.

…And then we got to await ferry traffic.

As hunger and impatience consumed me, my guilt over eating a Citrus Swirl prior to lunch was starting to wane.

After what felt like a lifetime at sea, the Fort Wilderness dock was within view. And just in time for the rain to begin! I again volunteered to run to the restaurant, flailing my arms while screaming, “we’re here!!! We’re here!!! Don’t lock the doors and liquor cabinet!!!”

Okay, that’s not exactly what happened, but there was running involved. There was also a very confused expression on the face of the CM as I arrived at our destination, soaked, tired, hungry, and nervously asking, “are we too late???”

It was 1:56. We had exited Thunder Mountain at 1:25.

Walt Disney World really does do a great job at suspending reality.

Trail’s End had come highly recommended by folks claiming it to be some pretty authentic southern comfort food with portions enough to intimidate. Sadly, I can’t say I uphold the recommendation.

We were seated in the dining room, which had all the potential of being a no-frills down-home cookin’ spot: rather dated looking rustic fare sans flare. It walked that line of “we did this on purpose! Isn’t it quaint and country?!” to “yeah, we just haven’t gotten around to refurbing since 1987, but fuck it.”

Given my choice ADR time, there were only two other families in there as we were seated, and both were finishing up their desserts.

I had it in my mind to explore what their themed cocktail offerings may be, but one glance to the dark, abandoned bar area made me order a Blue Moon when asked what I wanted to drink. It was only sometime between courses that our waitress asked if we wanted another beer, “or maybe a cocktail?” Hmph.

All that running in the rain and lack of moonshine-based drinks gave me a craving for jalapeno poppers, so we opted to split those to start. The menu advertised these as, “Smoked Cheese-stuffed Jalapeños – wrapped in Country Bacon with Peach-Pepper Jelly $7.99.” These aren’t your local Chili’s poppers!

In case this was starting to sound exciting to you, allow me to be your little black rain cloud: $7.99 (plus tax) will buy you three jalapeno peppers, sliced in half, each with some variety of decidedly non-smoky cheese inside, then loosely wrapped in what appeared to be your average under-cooked grocery store bacon. But hey, the pepper jelly wasn’t bad!

I took this picture today, too. It doesn't suck THAT bad, right?

I took this picture today, too. It doesn’t suck THAT bad, right?

But seriously, if you’re going to lack quality, can you at least make up for it in quantity? I WAS HUNGRY.

Luckily, we also opted to try the oft-raved about cornbread. Unluckily, it was only okay. A little on the dry side, if you ask me. Maybe it was baked for folks dining earlier than 2:00 PM?

For our entrees, My Mother went with their fried catfish, which emerged so inundated with grease that it was largely inedible. I tried the pulled pork sandwich and potato fries. I ate almost all of it, but given my hunger level at this point, that doesn’t necessarily equal high praise.

It wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t anything to write home about. An okay flavor to the pork, but a little on the dry side – made all that much drier by the pathetic teaspoon of BBQ sauce that was added to the sandwich (I ultimately asked for WAAAAAY more on the side, and was kindly obliged). Bun was on the staler side (is all of their bread only fresh until 1:00??). But fries were decent and plentiful.

We left full and ready to mosey on. But where to? We’d never been to Fort Wilderness before, and while I know we could’ve taken the boat back, it was raining, and we weren’t having that much luck with boats so far. We opted to stop in to their store, because stores. And while in there, we asked a CM about perchance finding a bus to the Wilderness Lodge.

“But of course!” she replied, and told us to aim for a horse pen or some such malarkey. All I know is, we passed a horse pen, yet still needed to consult another map before ultimately finding a bus stop for the intra-FW buses – none of which were claiming to go to WL.

But wait! Another map that showed a different bus stop – one that would take us to WL! So off we went, ultimately passing yet another horse pen before finally arriving at… um… nothing. A road. And a lot of forest. Good #theming, Fort Wilderness!

The rain had let up by now, and the gravity of butter, cheese, bacon, fries, and pork was starting to set in, so we figured, “screw it – we can just walk.” After all, I had seen some “trail” mentioned on a map back at the Wilderness Lodge that linked to Fort Wilderness. We couldn’t have been far off from that, right?

Wrong.

Hitchhiking at Fort Wilderness does not yield great results.

Hitchhiking at Fort Wilderness does not yield great results.

To this day, I don’t know where that trail was. All I know is we ended up on an unmarked, paved path that goes alongside a private road linking Fort Wilderness to the Wilderness Lodge (hey – our cabbie that day was on to something!). I don’t know how long we walked, but it felt like miles*. All through the central Floridian swamp. I felt a new found respect for Walt and his vision for The Florida Project – to see this endless expanse of trees and moss and mosquitoes and picture the Magic Kingdom – that was the real magic. Just when we’d almost given up hope and turned back, fearing we may end up on the evening news (“WDW tourists go missing; judging by the amount of food in their hotel room, we estimate it’s a party of 7”), we finally saw signs of civilization: an unmanned security booth! And with that, shoes soaked through to pruny toes, we’d found the back entrance to the Wilderness Lodge and ambled our way to its resplendent entrance. We were home.

*It was roughly 1 mile.

What can I say? That WDW – it’s a time and distance vortex.

At this point, sopping wet, shoes squeaking as we walked, full from lunch, there was only one obvious destination: The Concierge Lounge for afternoon snack time.

Kill, Refurb, Marry: Songs from Disney Animated Movies

Kill Refurb MarryWelcome to this month’s edition of This Happy Place Blog and Mouse on the Mind‘s spectromagical Kill, Refurb, Marry. This month’s theme is Songs from Disney Animated Movies. Seeing as my most-used Spotify playlist is DISNEY SONGS (yes, it’s in all caps), I was excited to play along. Let’s dive right in…

Kill

“I Got No Strings” from Pinocchio. DIE DIE DIE!!! Seriously. Just die. Die in a fire, die in a yacht crash, die from eating one too many double A batteries. I don’t care; I just want it gone. The song is as melodically soothing to me as listening to horses being tortured. And now it’s stuck in my head. Great. Let’s move on…

I'm in more pain listening to this than Pinocchio is from falling on his high-pitched face.

I’m in more pain listening to this than Pinocchio is from falling on his high-pitched face.

Refurb

“My Own Home” from the Jungle Book. For those of you not familiar, this is the hypnotic song that the little chick from the village (as opposed to Kaa the snake) is singing when Mowgli comes upon her at the river and falls instantly in love, deciding once and for all to abandon his animal friends and embrace humanity instead.

The problem here? The lyrics! Behold, here they are:

An eight-year-old temptress with no dreams.

An eight-year-old temptress with no dreams.

My own home, my own home
My own home, my own home

Father’s hunting in the forest
Mother’s cooking in the home
I must go to fetch the water
‘Til the day that I’m grown
‘Til I’m grown, ’til I’m grown
I must go to fetch the water
‘Til the day that I’m grown

Then I will have a handsome husband
And a daughter of my own
And I’ll send her to fetch the water
I’ll be cooking in the home
Then I’ll send her to fetch the water
I’ll be cooking in the home

I know Mowgli was raised by bears, so he doesn’t have the best basis for comparison, but I’m pretty sure even bear chicks have higher aspirations than this little girl. For fuck’s sake — society yells at Disney’s princesses for being anti-feminist abhorrent role models but let’s face it — they’ve got nothing on this broad.

And this is where my refurb comes in. Keep the same lulling tune, keep the love at first sight between eight-year-olds (ew), but let’s just change that message a little, shall we?

New lyrics:

My own home, my own home
My own home, my own home

Father’s cooking in the kitchen
Mother’s banking on Wall Street
I must go to the best prep school
‘Til I get to Harvard Law
‘Til Harvard Law, ’til Harvard Law
I must go to the best prep school
‘Til I get to Harvard Law

Then I will have a fancy degree
And a business of my own
And I’ll pay help to fetch the water
I’ll be floating in my pool
And I’ll pay help to fetch the water
I’ll be floating in my pool

Marry

I'm usually in a world of my own.

I’m usually in a world of my own.

This was the hardest category for me, as I would gladly marry at least 67 different Disney songs. My gut reaction is to go with Alice’s “In a World of My Own,” as I’ve been obsessed with it for decades, know it inside and out, and even at 31, it pretty aptly describes what’s going through my head at any given moment. Cats and rabbits should most definitely reside in fancy little houses. And if my cats would let me, they’d have shoes, hats, and many trousers.

However, I decided to take this opportunity to spotlight one of my other very favourite Disney songs — the lesser known, “I’ll Try” from Peter Pan 2: Return to Neverland. Have I seen it? No, I have not. Do I want to? No, I do not. I have a strict policy against straight-to-DVD movies: not to be graced by my eyeballs. Nevertheless, this song appears on some “Best of Disney” CD that I was once given by my sister, and I’ve been in love with it ever since.

A movie I have never seen.

A movie I have never seen.

Actually, I started listening to it right around the time I had to evacuate New Orleans after Katrina (and was then unable to move back due to umpteen circumstances). Not going to lie — there were many nights, alone in a bubble bath, a bottle of wine, and me hysterically crying as I sang along to this song, with its lyrics like:

My whole world is changing
I don’t know where to turn
I can’t leave you waiting
But I can’t stay
And watch this city burn
Watch it burn

I’ll just go ahead and leave you with that mascara-stained visual and call this post done!

January Trip Report Day Six, Part Two: Tiaras and Courvoisier

I'm going to eat ALL the animals.

I’m going to eat ALL the animals.

When last we left our heroes, they had been mysteriously upgraded to Concierge Level at the Wilderness Lodge and were sitting in their one-bedroom suite, dumbstruck and taking obligatory pictures of the free chocolates.

After waiting a bit longer for our 27 bags of food to make their way from bell services to our remote room, we took a few moments to unpack and settle in before embarking upon our next great adventure: a quick trip into the Magic Kingdom for the sole purpose of eating lunch at Be Our Guest!

(Why do I feel like my approval rating just went down?)

Look, I know BOG gets a bad rap because of their allegedly heinous dinner service, but lunch is good! Really good! And due to scheduling woes, if I wanted to show My Mother the inside of Beast’s castle (and I did!), this was our only real window of opportunity. So by noon, we were headed over to the Magic Kingdom, begrudgingly ignoring all of its other temptations, and instead heading straight to the back of the park for lunch. Thank goodness, too, because all that time spent transferring food and then plotting about how to be at the Club Lounge as often as possible to get more food really left me hungry.

Okay, we did have time to stop for a picture. Status update: still wet and cold.

Okay, we did have time to stop for a picture. Status update: still wet and cold.

My hunger turned to hanger as soon as we arrived at the castle and saw the hour long fucking line. Of course.

It was a rookie mistake to show up to the least recommended park at noon and hope to waltz into BOG. But you know what?? I don’t care, and I’d do it again. And for those wondering, yes, My Mother also agreed that the lunch was very tasty, fresh, and a pretty good serving size, too. So there, haters!

After lunch, we exited MK as directly as we came in and headed on over via monorail to our real destination park for the day: Epcot.

Because kale.

Because kale.

The crowd level difference was obvious. To anyone still holding out on listening to/planning around crowd calendars, you may want to rethink your stance. With Epcot listed as the “Most Recommended” park that day, we were roaming freely and quickly. After our FP+ at Soarin’, we hardly “needed” our FP+ at Living with the Land, but we used it anyway. Just to be obnoxious. #ClubLevelStatus

Sadly (or not?), our next stop was to Mouse Gear to buy sweatshirts because it was still fucking freezing outside and raining. But it’s like Disney was just as shocked as we were that the temperature dropped below 75 degrees, because the options for a real, thick sweatshirt or jacket were few and far between. I ended up with a hoodie that still required being paired with at least three other layers of clothing, one of which being an unbreathing, plastic poncho.

Guess what: still wet and cold. Now with sweatshirts.

Guess what: still wet and cold. Now with sweatshirts.

After making and donning our purchases, we braved the cold for 20 feet to head into Innoventions East to ride Sum of All Thrills for the first time ever. I was pretty excited, though admittedly skeptical. How could rolling around in a simulator thingy really make me feel like I was moving quickly? Does it also blow wind in your face?

The answer is: science? I don’t know. There was no wind blowing, but I definitely felt like I was on a coaster. My favourite part was going upsidedown. I recommend going upsidedown a lot.

My least favourite part? That panic-inducing moment when they close the contraption over your head and you suddenly feel like you’re in a really futuristic coffin. Have I mentioned that I’m pretty fucking claustrophobic? I managed to breathe through the rising inclination to claw my way out; I also reasoned with myself that vomiting in this small of quarters would not be a pleasant experience. Luckily, the “ride” starts up quickly, and the imagery and sensations of being on a real roller coaster were enough to distract me from screaming bloody murder.

Final verdict? HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

We emerged (admittedly a little weak-legged) outside, only to realize that our new sweatshirts weren’t going to be enough to keep us warm; it was time to start drinking. And so we headed to the Rose and Crown for refreshments. We were able to snag a table in the otherwise crowded bar area and sat for awhile enjoying both our drinks and the hat lady (what are we calling her now?). We watched around us as able bodied people repeatedly swooped in on tables as soon as they emptied, leaving this one sad and frail looking elderly couple stricken with exasperation. As we were ready to leave, My Mother physically blocked the vultures and ushered this weary couple to our table. My Mother loves the elderly.

We do not know this child. Yes, we're creepy.

We do not know this child. Yes, we’re creepy.

We decided to back track and stroll clockwise around World Showcase. I got to introduce My Mother to Two Tipsy Ducks in Love, which she loved, obviously, because she is a human being with functioning taste buds.

Once in Germany, I made the long-overdue adult decision that it may be time to retire my Minnie Mouse ears. Why? Because I needed a fucking tiara like I need sriracha and democracy. I hemmed and hawed for literally about 30 minutes in that shop, trying on every tiara at least twice, agonizing over this life-altering decision. Finally, finally, I picked out my new signature accessory. And you know what? BEST PURCHASE OF MY ENTIRE LIFE. And that includes discounted bottles of Woodford and my cat.

Wait, I take that back. My cat probably wins. But what if we put the tiara on him?!?! Best of both worlds.

I'm starting a "Caption That" contest for this photo.

I’m starting a “Caption That” contest for this photo.

By now, I’d wasted so much precious time waffling over rhinestones that we were running late for our ADR at Les Chefs de France, so we high-tailed it in that direction with no time to explore the other pavilions in between.

Quick pause for a question: So, before the upstairs French restaurant was called Senor Paul’s, it was called Le Bistro de Paris. And the downstairs was/is called Les Chefs de France. Yet the upstairs was/is way fancier than the downstairs. So why the hell was the upstairs ever called a “bistro”? Now, I’m no French scholar, so I’ll defer to my resident expert, Wikipedia, who defines a bistro as, “a small restaurant serving moderately priced simple meals in a modest setting.” It even states that the origin of the bistro concept “likely developed out of the basement kitchens of Parisian apartments where tenants paid for both room and board.”

So what does any of that have to do with an up-scale, 5 star, white linen table clothed, second floor restaurant? Why not call Chefs de France a bistro? I demand answers. Or, you know, they’ve already changed the name, so what’s in the past ought to stay there just like mini-backpacks and the majority of my 20s.

Moving on…

We arrived a mere five minutes late for our 7:30 ADR and were told to wait and have a seat. Luckily the jog over warmed us slightly, so we didn’t mind having to wait outside. But you know who did mind waiting outside? Mrs. WayMoreImportantThanYou and her party of nine who kept complaining to the hostess that they had an ADR for 7:30, and they could not for the life of them understand why the fuck other parties were being seated ahead of them.

Allow me, demure little French hostess, to respond for you.

This is what my tiara looks like in French lighting.

This is what my tiara looks like in French lighting.

A) It’s 7:36, six minutes past your ADR. Try dining at the Yachtsman sometime if you want to know what a real wait is.
B) You’re a mutherfucking party of nine. You’re lucky we’re even willing to move tables together to seat you all.
C) Those people being seated ahead of you had ADRs too. For 7:15.
D) Now sit your ass down, you self-entitled American stereotype.

When we were seated a few minutes later, I’m happy to report that she was still fuming outside, completely baffled by this grave injustice. It’s a small miracle she found eight other people willing to break bread with her.

Dinner was… okay. This is my second time dining at Les Chefs, and both have been… good. What more can I say? It’s loud. I think it’s a little overpriced for what it is (but then again, this is Disney we’re talking about, so I’ll just go ahead and slap myself for thinking otherwise). It’s decent food, but nothing that had me wishing there were more room in the minifridge back at the hotel to stash leftovers. (Incidentally, we actually did bring leftovers home with us; we opted to each do the prix fixe three course menu, and neither of us had room for our crème brulee by the end of the meal. That, or our hoarding instincts kicked in and required us to bring some kind of food back to our nest).

So much awesome.

So much awesome.

Apres dinner, while we were timed just right to view Illuminations, we shiveringly decided to head back to the warmth of the Wilderness Lodge. I know, I know, consciously making the decision to skip Illuminations is sacrilege, but we had concierge lounge access. And only until 10:00 PM, at that. So we beat the unwashed masses back to the busses and made our way home, straight up to the seventh floor for some Courvoisier and all you could eat free Magic Bars (is Jamie reading this? Jamie should probably know about this), all with a sky-high view of the tail end of the Electric Water Pageant.

I dare you to be more baller.

This is what my tiara looks like with free Courvoisier.

This is what my tiara looks like with free Courvoisier.