Food & Wine? Don’ mind if I do.

Soooo…we were told we ‘are’ going to be on the and have paid a deposit to our wonderful Mouse Fan Travel Agent Vicki to reserve our stateroom. Mark had the idea to make travelling easier by going to the resort/park first for a few days and get the Magical Express to the ship’s port from the resort (rather than flying in, staying somewhere for one night and making our own way to the port). Once we knew this was the plan it occured to him that we could be there ON Halloween! Which of course would be heaven for me as I LOVE Halloween, especially Halloween at Disney! Looking AGAIN at the dates, we could ALSO do EPCOT’s Food & Wine Festival!

We did the F&W back in 2009 and loved it! We tossed Gage into a double sized stroller so he could relax, it was our last day at the parks and it’d be a lot of walking around EPCOT, and just walked from country to country trying some of their featured foods. Not so much the wine though as neither of us really do wine, so we just had water to ‘cleanse our pallets’ between each sampler.

This time however we WON’T have Gage with us (our chance for an adult only Disney trip) which means we can have some alcohol as its not all wine. It’s gonna be so strange not having Gage with us at Disney though. But it’ll have its benefits like not having to argue because he doesn’t want to go on a ride with us or eatting where we what not just where has something he’d eat or being embarrassed because he refuses to meet a character when we’re meeting them (usually a Princess…only female he’ll go near is Marie because she’s a cat).

 

I’m Out of the Box! (My Experience at the 2011 D23 Expo)

Wow!Β  I just got back to the hotel after Day 2 at the Anaheim Convention Centre for the 2011 D23 Expo and just, wow. Now you may be wondering, like many people at the expo, what do I mean by ‘out of the box’. Well, we listen to a Disney podcast each week called WDW Radio by the wonderful Lou Mongello and when he is at events such as this he takes along his laptop and cameras and runs a live video through UStream. On these streams there is also a live chat box for those who are unable to attend but want to be a part of it, they/we are called The Box People (because we are ‘in’ a chat box). Now that I’m actually AT the event I’ve escaped the box!! Mark did up some name badges for us box people who got out and gave them to Lou to hand out and he LOVED them as did his followers.

Well apart from Mark spending obscene amounts of money at the expo (and there is still Sunday to go), Gage has been playing upcoming video games and racing with the RideMakerz at their booth and I’ve been meeting people.

I’ll give a recap later but now Gage wants to hit the pool

Christmas on the Wonder and New Years in the Studios (P1)

Well after having two flights cancelled on us, we finally got off the ground and to Orlando after a few hours layover in Chicago. We checked into the Carribbean Beach Resort at 2am Tuesday…a good 26hr journey and without much sleep. Also managed to catch a lunar eclipse as we got settled into our room which was awesome as I’ve seen a solar eclipse but never a lunar.

Anyway, so we get into our room which was like 15ft from the areas bus stop…Sweeeeet! and it is awesome! We chose a Pirate themed room and it was just nifty!

The chest of drawers were chests and the fridge was a barrel…very well themed. We finally get settled and get off to sleep so we can face MK (Magic Kingdom) early in the morning.

Our first stop was to get to the ticket office and purchase our Annual Passes (for both DLR and WDW). I’ve not seen a smile on my husband’s face that big in a long time! You’d think he’d just won the lottery!

Mark and our Annual Passes

From there we entered Main Street USA, took lots of photos and headed to Its A Small World which is our 7yr old son’s (Gage) favorite ride. We met Peter Pan who was the first to sign Mark’s Vinylmation for this trip (he plans to do one for each trip) and Lady Trumane, Anastasia and Drusilla who signed my black ‘Villan’ Vinylmation.

Gage infront of Its A Small World

We stayed in Fantasyland doing Dumbo, Pooh Bear, Haunted Mansion, the River Boat…had a lovely lunch next to HM at the Columbia Harbour House (counter/quick service) which have GREAT chicken fingers and fish.

Then we headed into Tomorrowland where Gage joined in with Stitch, Chip & Dale at Stitch’s dance party before we hopped aboard the People Mover/TTA. We also bumped into Buzz Lightyear before heading over to watch the Once Upon A Christmas parade which had a preshow of a woman who’d lost her little girl and was running up and down the parade route looking for her, calling her name and asking if anyone had seen a little blonde girl in a pink shirt. As a parent with a small child it was heartbreaking and she did find her, she was fine…but you have to think…just HOW many little blonde girls at WDW are in pink shirts?!

For some reason this parade just didn’t do much for me. Could’ve been we were standing in a tight spot as it was packed and we waited too long to get a space and I was uncomfortable, but really it just seemed to drag on for me. I love parades but this one, I dunno, just didn’t sit right, felt a bit bland I guess. The Marching Soldiers/Nutcrackers were the BEST though!

Donald and Daisy in Once Upon A Christmas Parade

We then hopped aboard the Jungle Cruise and I SWEAR the REAL Santa was in line with us! Complete with a surfing Santa shirt!

REAL Santa!?!?

Of course either after or before the Jungle Cruise you HAVE to have……..say it with me folks…DOLE WHIP!!!

orange whip with pineapple juice

So once we left the park we got a boat to take us to the Poly and we had dinner at Ohana. While waiting for our table to be ready we saw Goofy and Pluto and had our photo taken with Minnie & Mickey. We were so tired our appetites were not up to par but we tried to enjoy the food as best we could.

The waitress brought around some lovely bread and then huge skewers of different meats that are cooked on these spitfires.

Needless to say we had no room to try and tackle this wonderul looking desert…next time! πŸ™‚

On Day 2 we tackle the Studios! After getting there two hours before rope drop…thinking that it opened at 8am and not 9am…we headed up to the front of the crowd and as soon as the rope hit the ground Mark went running (well walking fast right behind the CM in the lead holding ppl back) and was the first person at the Toy Story Mania Fast Pass machines while Gage and I got into the StandBy line. This is basically what you have to do if you want to ride this attraction twice and not wait for 3hrs in line. We were in the like second group out and had passes for within the hour. After this we always head across the way to meet Buzz and/or Woody. That morning it was just Buzz there but on another visit both of the boys were there.

One mission I had, thanks to Lou Mongello, was to find the Writer’s Stop and have a Carrot Cake Cookie. This is a new FAVE hangout of mine now. Its just so quant and nice and comfy…almost like a coffee shop on campus. I could just sit there for ages relaxing. Anyway, this cookie was FAB!! Ok I could’ve shared it but being as neither Mark nor Gage like carrot cake I was happy to keep it all to myself but I found it a little too much due to the richness.

Since everyone gets a kick of photos of me eating....

We then headed to our usual M&G spot in the studios, inside the Art of Animation building (if you want to go straight to the characters go through the exit via the store) and there we met Lotso (yes he really does smell of strawberries; its like he’s eaten a LOAD of Strawberry Shortcake dolls!), Mr Incredible and Frozone and Mickey in his Fantasia outfit. We also went into One Man’s Dream which was loaded with like the history of Disney and Mickey. It was great. Even a mini diorama of “Granny’s Cabin” that Walt made himself.

Me and some original MMC stuff πŸ™‚

We made our way back to the main street for one of the last Block Party Bash parades. Last time we had Toy Story stop in front of us, this time it was Monsters, Inc. also this time Gage was brave enough to get up and dance with the CMs πŸ™‚

Gage dancing with a CM in the BPB parade

We continued on with all the usual attractions that we do, Great Movie Ride, Muppets 4D, Aerosmith, Tower of Terror. Eventually it was time for my favorite park show, Fantasmic! I just think its a greatΒ  show but I absolutely LOVE the music!! However, for some reason the snake didn’t move around chasing after Mickey…After that we went for dinner at one of our favorite places…50s Prime Time! Cousin Wendy served us and our cousins from Florida sat next to us. I had Aunt Liz’s Fried Chicken and OMG Aunt Liz makes some DELICIOUS fried chicken!! I also saw that they had Dan Aykroyd’s Chardonnay and I had a glass of that which went RIGHT to my head as always.

Aunt Liz's Fried Chicken

Now this fried chicken, you get HALF a chicken, I was not expecting that but I gobbled it down like no one’s business. It also comes with some lovely mashed potatoes and sweet corn. The meatloaf is also one of our favorites. We both had it last time but only Mark had it this time as I wanted some downhome fried chicken and that’s exactly what I got!

Dad's Traditional Meatloaf

The only complaint I have about the meatloaf is that you just don’t get enough, but I suppose if you asked for more they’d give you some more. But it is just lovely. Very tender and juicy.

 

Me and some of Danny's wine

The desert was also lovely. I had the cheesecake, Mark had the smores (not shmoes) and Gage had the kids ‘make your own sundae’. We were so stuffed though we couldn’t finish our deserts. Which is a shame but OMG that chicken was to DIE for…and well I guess it did. πŸ˜›

After dinner we headed over to see the Osbourne Family Lights. We could hear Phineas & Ferb talking and were like “Shit! Where are they?” thinking there was some sort of lighting show going on. But no, it was just an audio ofΒ  a ‘radio broadcast’ about the lights and such. It was good though, even Doof had a part. The lights were just amazing! Although at this point I was so sick and tired of hearing Christmas music but the dancing lights along with them were just…WOW!

On with Day 3!

We started the day off with breakfast at Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort. I was so excited because they had grits and scrambled eggs and biscuits! True I did eat with my eyes too much and put way too much on my plate, but there ya go. Go without some of your fave foods for nearly 2yrs and you just want to bathe in it.

 

scrambled eggs, grits, biscuit and bacon MMMMMMMMM

This place I did finish, the 2nd one was a bit too much, hehe. We really enjoyed this and plan to have dinner there next time. Gage being the fussy eatter he is, does good with buffets and loves fixing his own plate.

During our meal we were visited by Goofy, Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Donald. Mark was talking to Donald who was eyeing up his pin lanyard and when he noticed there were no Donald pins he got very angry. This is one duck who has an ego issue ineed. He put his hand in Mark’s face and demanded that he bow down to him. So Mark got on his knees and did the “I’m not worthy” bow, and that was good enough for Donald.

Mark bowing down to Donald

The food was great and its always wonderful to be in the presence of the Fab Five. What we also loved was that they were all in chef outfits. We love to meet all the characters in different outfits, so much so that we’ll bypass Mickey if we’ve already had our photo with him in ‘that’ outfit on that trip.

After the meal we walked to the MK entrance rather than the monorail as it was a lovely day and the monorail had other stops to make before going to the MK terminal. We went right to ToonTown and let Gage ride Goofy’s Barnstormer as that is one of his fave rides and since it had no line we just walked right on. Then we caught up with Mark in Mickey’s Judging Tent and saw him and Minnie. As always Minnie gave Gage a kiss and Micky was not impressed and told Gage that he was watching him. Shame that they’re going to tear down ToonTown for the Fantasyland expansion. It is such a good area and wonderfully themed. We will miss it. But at least its said that the Barnstormer is staying put.

It was a quick morning in the MK as we had to get back to our resort for the Cruise Line bus to pick us up and take us to Canaveral to board the Disney wonder!

 

Only 2 Days Till Christmas

 

 

Snow Sorrows

We left our house at 6am yesterday, all packed, excited and ready to arrive at MCO and get aboard the ME to WDW! Got there a good hour early, got checked in, bags dropped off and headed through security. All things were going VERY smoothly and quite fast actually. We made our way to our usualy Gatwick breakfast stop the Armadillo Cafe & Grill and had some good ol’ American pancakes.

Maple & Bacon Pancakes w/ Scrambled Eggs

My husband, son and I grabbed some seats in the lounge near an info screen as our Gate had not been opened yet and we took turns going around the shops getting some last minute bits.

Our gate was due to open at 10.50am, it then changed to 10.40am…cool! Then it was changed to 11.05am…hmmmm. 11o’clock rolls around and I check the website as I’m hearing more and more people talk about long delays and cancellations. Sure enough, BA.com said that our flight had been cancelled.

My husband goes up to the info desk to see what is going on and was told to go down to baggage reclaim and collect our checked bags. So my son and I go there and wait for our bags along with a bunch of other people from cancelled flights while my husband gets in line at the BA desk to try and get tickets for the next day while his mom looked online at her home for other options. After a good 2hrs, maybe longer, my mother in-law managed to find us tickets with Virgin Atlantic for Monday morning. While my husband was waiting in the longest line I’ve ever seen and over heard a family booking their best offer on the 29th (we were due to leave on the 18th!) and a single traveller getting Tuesday, we took the Monday tickets and started to head home.

If we’d known how the roads were we might’ve stayed at a nearby hotel but didn’t really want to stay in a hotel for two nights. We never passed any wrecks, just very cautious drivers and congestion…a drive that took us only an hour and a half eight hours earlier now took us nearly four hours. So nearly 12hrs after we left our home which was normal…we now returned to snow covered roads. While on the road we got word that Gatwick had reopened the runways…WHY BA couldn’t just have noted our flight as delayed by 4-6hrs and gave a ‘sorry’ it was fully cancelled. So after stopping at the nearby gas station to get some dinner, we got in about 5.30pm after keeping each other awake on the road while our little one slept most of the way in the backseat. We both took some Nytol and went to bed about 8pm.

Woke up about 8am today (Sunday) NOT in my Pirate themed bed at Carribean Beach but in my own bed at home with loads of snow still outside taunting me. Grrrrrrr…I got dressed and walked to a nearby shop to get us some food for the day as we literally had nothing in the house but Coke and Frosted Flakes…not a good combo I’d bet. On the way home, I did enjoy the sight of the snow, its lovely whiteness and the crunch under my feet. Don’t get me wrong, under normal circumstances I love snow…I’d rather have snow in the winter time than rain…but NOT when I’m due to fly!! As I enjoyed the sights I took a few photos as I walked down the neighborhood streets back to my house and saw THIS little fella joining in the taunts!

Wrought Iron Mickey

OKAY…its not really or exactly a Hidden Mickey but it was close enough to taunt me on my way home.

So today we’re just chillin’ at home…trying to keep our minds off of what we’re missing, checking the airline and airport websites for updates. We’re more upset than our son is…which in its own way is a good thing (parents will understand). But we’re just hoping that we will be on our way tomorrow…at least Virgin has a better movie selection than BA and comfier seats!

Two Sleeps Till Disney!

We are pretty much packed and ready to go! Hope we have everything…got ADRs booked, got park hours (and EMHs) noted in our iPhones. Got all the electricals (cameras, etc)…we ‘should’ be ok…if not we’ll make the neccessary purchases while there…I mean we’ll be buying stuff anyway. 10day weather forcast says mid70s in the day and mid40s at night so hopefully we’ve got enough to keep us nice and warm as both hubby and son are getting over bad colds.

Once there I’m gonna get a 9″ black Vinylmation to get as many baddies sign it as possible. We’re also gonna see about Mickey Santa hats and if they can do names on them. Anyone know about this at all?

In our ADRs, we’ve got some places booked that we’ve never eatten at before like Via Nappoli and Ohana but also some faves like 50s Prime Time and Whispering Canyon to name just a couple. Plan to make the Photo Pass Photographers be sick of us as we’ll have SO many PP photos done as we always buy the CD with all on it.

So be expecting a very long and detailed report when I get back in the new year πŸ™‚

WDW/Cruise Countdown

In 17 days we leave for WDW then a Disney Cruise then WDW again! Can’t wait. This will be my first Christmas at WDW and we’ll be on the Disney Wonder for Christmas Day and back in the parks for NYE. How exciting! The last time we were at Disney around Christmas time was in 1999 and that was Disneyland Paris and we didn’t have our wonderful son then either. Nor were we as informed about Disney like we are now.

One downside is that we noticed the other night on our e-ticket that BA has reduced the luggage limit from the UK to the US to one case each! So instead of having extra room for shopping and such we’re gonna have to really be fussy with our packing and buying.

We’ve got our Pirate costumes for Pirate night on the ship, hubby has his pins ready but I still have to do mine and our son’s even though he says he doesn’t care to take them he does love to buy and trade them so we’ll sort out one of his lanyards. Not sure whether to wear my fave dragon lanyard or my Friday 13th Phantom Manor one…Although I’m leaning more to my Dragon purely because my PM is from Paris and I’m gonna use it for my PM/HM pins whereas my Dragon is more general. Plus the weight on it that matches the design is awesome…its a red dragon all tangled up into a Mickey Icon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m SO looking forward to getting more pins and vinyls! I’m going to get a big black Vinyl and have all the baddies sign it with a silver Sharpie. Earlier this year in DLP my husband got a big white Vinyl and had everyone he could sign it and the result was awesome! Even got most of the Princesses. My one will have to go with us each trip to get as many baddies as I can on it as they are a bit hard to come by when it’s not Halloween season. They’ll all be ‘bahumbug’ing in their lairs keeping warm.

Still no luck on booking a meal at Le Cellier though 😦 Will try on the day, get there in the morning and see. But we’ve got loads of ADRs booked anyway. Just gotta be sure to wrap up warm cuz once that Florida sun goes down it’s gonna be coooooooooold.