Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Nautical Disney Adventure - Day 3

Barbara, Ben, Matt, and myself woke up to the sound of... rain.  No surprise there if you read Day 2 of this adventure.  The rain started Friday night and didn't stop at all!  We didn't let that stop us though!  It was Barbara's birthday and we had to celebrate big all day long.

After Barbara got in the shower, I hurried up and got the birthday goodies out that I bought back at home.  We had fun wearing the slap bracelets around the park for the rest of the trip.  Only, later on in the trip at 1900 Park Fare, I was slapping away and flung my bracelet into the infamous Strawberry Soup.  Classic Stacey.

We also popped open some wine (yeah, it was about 7:00 a.m.) that Barbara had bought in Germany a few nights prior.  The description said "apple wine."  It tasted more like piss wine.  Barbara took one sip and was done.  I think Ben and Matt finished a little of their glass while I, like a trooper, downed mine.  I just didn't breathe and pretended that it tasted like Welch's grape juice.

Walking from our room to the bus stop proved to be quite the task.  As we were walking down the steps of our building and Matt was telling us girls behind him to be really careful because the steps were slippery, he takes no more than two steps down and falls down a flight of stairs on his back side.  I gasp and look over at Barbara who immediately starts laughing hysterically.  Matt was totally okay aside from a bruised butt.  Barbara told him that she would write that off as his birthday present to her.

After stepping in a million huge puddles (that could not be dodged) and getting our feet dirty, we got on a bus headed for Animal Kingdom.  This was supposed to be the busiest day of our entire trip (a level 9) but because of the rain, our bus was quite empty.  Other folks had the same idea of enjoying the park despite the rain, though.  All of us brave people were finally let into the park and we made our way towards Expedition Everest.  Trying to do "the morning run" in pouring rain is very difficult.  Our feet kept sloshing around in our shoes.  We didn't rush to get to Everest because there weren't very many people to compete with.  We were very irked to find out that the ride wasn't even running once we got there.  We stood and stood and stood in line for about fifteen minutes before the short line started moving.

Everest in the rain.  Just think about that statement for a second.  Expedition Everest in whipping, cold, pouring rain.  It was hilarious actually.  We couldn't even look up at the ride because we just got shot in the eyeballs with rain.  For some reason, we got off the ride feeling sick.  All of us.  No one wanted to go back on it even though we could have just walked on.  We decided to move onto Dinosaur.  Barbara and Ben were so excited to go on this but I think they were a little disappointed.  It was just too loud and too... much.

Our tummies were still upset so I had the genius idea of grabbing breakfast at Pizzafari.  We weren't going to use a counter service meal for that day so it worked out.  Barbara and Ben got the Bounty Platter as did Matt, only he gave away his meat.  They all found it really filling and liked the french toast the best.  We all agreed that the potatoes were seriously amazing.  I got the Spinach and Goat Cheese Frittata and it was okay but a little on the small side and sort of dry.  Not bad, but not great.  The potatoes had me craving more, though.  A cast member noticed Barbara's birthday button and surprised her with a cupcake!  I don't care if it was only 10:30 a.m.  Cupcakes are welcome anytime.

To our surprise, stand-by for Kilimanjaro Safari was only 15 minutes so we entered the queue.  To our surprise (again), we walked right on.  The "level 9 crowds" were non-existant and we were loving it!  Sure the rain kind of sucked and we were sure that we wouldn't see many animals out roaming, but damn do I love short lines!  We were thrilled when a lot of the animals were out enjoying the rain.  Even the lions were really active.  After the Safari, Matt wanted to walk the jungle trek but we needed to head over to see Finding Nemo: The Musical.  This is a requirement of mine anytime I am in Animal Kingdom.  Even though we got to the theater just 10 minutes before show time, we still got a good seat way down in front by the catwalk.  Of course, the show was amazing and I really loved the person who played Nemo.  I still get a kick out of the fact that a girl plays Nemo.  Totally wishing a little boy played it though.  Mainly because kids are super cute.

Once we got out of the show, the rain seemed to have increased to a torrential downpour (as if it wasn't horrible enough before).  We booked it to It's Tough To Be A Bug because we just wanted out of the rain.  This attraction was one of Barbara's memories from her trip to Walt Disney World when she was young.  I have a slight fear of 3-D effects in some attractions so I didn't take any glasses.  Everyone else loved it though and enjoyed being dry again for a little while.  The trek out of the Tree of Life was so slippery and wet that we decided to leave the park and just go hang out at Animal Kingdom Lodge until our ADR at Sanaa.

At Animal Kingdom Lodge, we stopped by the gorgeous bathrooms outside of Boma and freshened up. I was really hoping that there would be lotion in there since I can't stand what my hands feel like after they've been wet.  No lotion in there so we moved on.  We wanted to see the area with all of the rooms so we ventured down a hallway and up and down some elevators.  It wasn't exactly entertaining but we were dry and some of the views of the savannah were gorgeous.  Barbara even managed to find me some lotion... on one of the Mousekeeping carts.  :)  She also found herself some shampoo just in case she needed it while we were out.  Haha!

We hopped a bus and got dropped off at Kidani Village.  I was really impressed with the lobby.  I'd never seen it before and I just thought it was unique and interesting.  It was so warm and homey to me.  We ended up checking into our lunch reservation at Sanaa about a half hour early and only waited a couple of minutes to be seated.  The place was packed.  I assume because of the horrid weather.  Suddenly, I realized that I forgot to request a table right by the big windows overlooking the savannah!  Gah!  I panicked in my mind!  To my relief, we were seated RIGHT by a huge window with nothing blocking our view.  Yay!

Barbara ordered a mojito to start off with and we all decided to split the Indian Style Bread Service.  It looks as though I forgot to write down exactly what bread and accompaniments we ordered but I'll go off of memory.  I think we got the Naan, Papadum, and Paneer.  For the accompaniments we got the Mango Chutney, Garlic Pickle, and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus.  EVERYTHING was amazing!  I can see now why people always suggest to order it.  Naan was the highlight for the breads and everyone sort of liked different accompaniments best.  The Garlic Pickle was the most unique by far.  If you don't like a strong garlic flavor then I definitely would not suggest it to you.  Fortunately for me, I love garlic more than life itself.

I asked for the vegan sampler of Stewed Lentils and Spicy Peas, Chickpeas, and Potatoes with Basmati Rice.  Boy were those veggies spicy!  They weren't lyin'!  I could barely eat them they were packin' so much heat.  It sucked because the flavor was actually really good.  Everything else was pretty tasty.

Matt ordered the Indian-Style Vegetable Burger.  This thing was flippin' awesome!  It's definitely not your typical Disney veggie burger.  Matt and I both agreed (yes, I taste tested it... for blogging purposes only... of course) that it could have been a little warmer as it was served luke warm.  Either way, the veggies in it complimented each other well and the portion was more than generous.

Barbara and Ben were twinsies and both got the Grilled Lamb Kefta.  Ben devoured the thing in five minutes, I swear.  When I asked what he thought of it he said, "Well, I ate it all!"  Guess that says enough.  Barbara also liked the dish but found it to be a little spicy for her taste.  I'd heard that about a lot of the dishes at Sanaa so that statement didn't surprise me any.

In the middle of our meal, we started to hear these African drums from afar but getting closer.  Around the corner came three cast members from different places in Africa playing a tune for all of the guests... or so we thought.  They stopped right at our table and played a special birthday song just for Barbara.  I'd never seen a restaurant have such a unique birthday celebration for a guest.  We were all really amazed and felt like it was more personal that just some cheesy Applebees-like chant.

On top of the sweet song, our waiter brought Barbara TWO free desserts to share with the rest of us, equipped with candles.  I should note that the desserts we were served were desserts off of the menu and not just a generic Disney cupcake.  Next time, I might just go back and get this dessert it was SO good.

Here are a few more shots of the restaurant.  I think I might be in love...

We left the restaurant and headed out to catch a bus back to Animal Kingdom.  From there we got another bus back to Caribbean Beach.  I, of course, wanted to take a cab.  I wanted to take a cab basically anytime we had to take a bus.  So, you can imagine how many times I suggested that we take a cab.  Haha!  The original idea for the afternoon was to surprise Barbara with some water fun.  We were going to rent a pontoon and ride surrey bike around the resort.  The rain sort of put a damper on that and also made us all very tired.  Barbara led us all into making the greatest decision ever... to take a nap.

Oh, how that nap refreshed us all.  We woke up around 5:30 and slowly creeped out of our beds so we could get around and look all pretty before our wet trek to Downtown Disney.  Aaaaaaand, this is where I'm going to leave you hanging.  Part 2 of this post will give you all the details of Barbara's birthday celebration.  Get excited!  It's gettin' real good.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Nautical Disney Adventure - Day 2 *PICTURES*

Our room window at Caribbean Beach Resort decorated.

"Siiiiiingin' in the Rain..."

Matt's totally ready for the park to open!

Front of the line at Toy Story Midway Mania!

A deserted Streets of America

Truly, the worst Great Movie Ride guide of all time.

And, truly, the best gangster in Great Movie Ride.

I adore Kimberly!

HAHA... no words for Ben.

The beautiful Sunset Blvd.

Streetmosphere Parade!

She's so insanely photogenic!

Sexy hair, Mr. Landon!  Sexy hair!

My hero and idol, Walt Disney

Handsome, huh?

Definitely a dream job of mine.

Use that whip, Indiana Jones!

While the show holds no interest for me anymore, I love taking pictures here.

Hanging with Walt in One Man's Dream

Giving the dog at 50's Prime Time Cafe a little booze.

My awesome gang!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Nautical Disney Adventure - Day 2

Our second day was filled with lots of magic (duh), movies, and music at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  We arrived at the park before park opening (about 35 minutes before I'd say) and started stretching for the Toy Story Midway Mania Marathon.  Okay, just kidding.  That doesn't actually exist but you DO get a work out when heading for the amazing attraction so we were limbering up and preparing ourselves.

Just after one day I somehow taught my super cool friends on how to "weave" in the crowd.  My theory is, if there is a big empty space with no one standing in it, why aren't you standing there?  Even though we had a decent amount of people in front of us by the time the gates opened, we managed to weasel our way up to about two people behind a leading cast member.  When it was go time, everyone kept their eyes open for empty walk way and filled it in.  I was so proud to even see Ben move PAST me at one point!  Just so you know, Ben, you made my morning.

Of course, since my group is so flippin' awesome, we were only behind about 8 people once we entered the stand-by for TSMM.  I love the cast members here!  Always so lively!

Everyone in my group LOVED this ride.  I had the high score of the day!  But, we were about the 4th car to move through there that morning so I shouldn't be too proud, should I?  We sort of felt we had the whole day to just chill and while we wanted to be thorough as far as timing attractions right, we didn't want to get it all done early and then have nothing to do later.  We strolled around the Streets of America while it was empty and then headed to Star Tours 2.  Can I just say that I FRICKIN' LOVE THE UPDATED VERSION?  The queue is amazing!  The 3D glasses are so cool!  The new movie itself is great!  And while the men in my group loved it as well, Barbara declared one simple thing... "Worst shit ever."

Throughout the morning we hit up a few more attractions like The Great Move Ride and Backlot Tour before heading to lunch.  It was decided before we even landed in Florida that we'd have lunch at my husband's favorite counter service place, Pizza Planet.  Barbara and Ben decided on the veggie and pepperoni pizzas respectively, while Matt and I went with basic cheese pizza.  The side salads were very good and even though they changed to only caesar dressing we were pleased.  The boys decided on chocolate chip cookies for dessert and us ladies DEVOURED the seriously delicious Cappuccino Cupcake.  It was seriously so good.  Ben actually said that his cookie was "exceptional."  The amount of food that you get on the dining plan at counter service restaurants is overwhelming sometimes.  Barbara and I couldn't even finish our delicious cupcake!

We made our way over to Sunset Boulevard and used some FastPasses we obtained earlier to ride Rockin' Roller Coaster.  Thank goodness for those FastPasses because the stand-by wait was rather long.  After that we headed to Tower of Terror.  CLEARLY this was our group's favorite attraction.  As soon as we got off everyone just wanted to go right back on so we grabbed some FastPasses.

Matt and Ben decided that they needed to be manly men and begged and begged me to take them to see Lights, Motors, Action: Extreme Stunt Show.  I gave in.  It just screamed, "BEN!"  Unfortunately, the rain started in not long after the epic show started.  We were already sitting on wet bleachers from the previous short rain shower and the new wetness just made us go, "UGHHHH."  Some of the cool effects from the show didn't really work right but that's okay... we got the idea.  It was cool watching Ben as he saw the show because he was just in his element.  It actually made me like the attraction a lot more to see it through the eyes of someone that truly got into it.

Our mid-afternoon snack was decided on a whim after not getting into the Animation Academy with the next group.  To feed our depression, my dear friends stopped at an ice cream cart and paid out of pocket for a chocolate covered banana and a Mickey Premium.  I got excited to see them take bites of their first Mickey Premium.  It's the little things, right?  For some reason ice cream just didn't sound good to me but a giant green pickle sure did.  Nom nom nom.  Matt made us walk all the way over to Gertie's to get ice cream only to discover that it was closed so we went elsewhere for him to get a vanilla shake.  I should mention that after this we went to Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular.  Us girls really could have done without that but we were sort of running out of things to do and the show was just starting.  I've seen it one too many times for it to be "cool" anymore.

My favorite inside joke of the whole trip involved a monkey found at the entrance of Voyage of the Little Mermaid.  What do monkey's say?  "Whooo."

Our trip to One Man's Dream was a little lackluster.  It was so stinking busy in there I felt like I was rushed through it.  Lesson learned... go during a slow period of the day.  I can't remember why but we didn't have time to stay for the film after but it's probably for the best because I would have just cried through the whole dang thing like usual.

It's safe to say we were all SO excited to eat at 50's Prime Time Cafe.  As I checked us in I made sure to ask for a TV table and they were happy to make us happy with  my request.  I didn't care that we had to wait because I was excited to take pictures around the waiting area/bar.  We had so much fun just goofing around there taking pictures.  Barbara made a stop at the bar to get a fun glowing drink.

Our waitress, Cousin Lorraine, was seriously so awesome.  She was really funny and upbeat and totally got into the part.  Ben went all retro with his drink (root beer) while Matt got a chocolate shake.  Barbara and I couldn't resist trying the peanut butter and jelly shake for the first time.  I didn't regret it one bit.   Not only was it delicious but also played a part in my dinner later.

Here is my seriously yummy wahoo (fish) with roasted red potato puree and asparagus.  I was really surprised how delicious this was and how much I liked a type of fish I'd never had, or heard of, before.   The ends of the asparagus were a little tough for my liking and since I was so worried about cleaning my plate, I hid the bad ends inside of my big milkshake cup.  Barbara almost tattled on me though... wench.  ;)

Matt's dish was his classic veggie burger and fries.  He claimed it was filling and very good.  Easy to please that man.

Barbara liked her choice of meatloaf but definitely said the peanut butter and jelly shake was the highlight of her meal.

Ben went with the sampler and his favorite was the fried chicken.  It's not famous for just any reason.

Matt struggled to polish off his food and only left a few fries behind.  Ben and I had nothing left on our plates.  It was only up to Barbara to clean her plate.  Our waitress had already declared that she was so proud of the rest of us for doing such a good job.  Barbara thought about it for a moment and then said, "I want her to be proud of me too!"  She scarfed down what she had left and so we all got a sticker saying we were members of the Clean Plate Club.  We wore these proudly the rest of the night.  None of us could really eat much of our desserts since we were so stuffed but they were all really tasty.

By the time we got out of dinner we had to head over to Fantasmic to get a seat.  About 30 seconds into our walk over, rain started pouring.  We stopped into a shop to get ponchos because we knew we'd be sitting out in the rain waiting for the show to start.  Little did we know that this was the start of a two day monsoon that never stopped.

People were walking out of the amphitheater left and right but we wanted to stay put and see the show.  It was the ONE nighttime show that I was insistent that we watch.  The four of us sat out in the constant rain for 45 minutes before we were told that the show was delayed.  Being troopers, we stayed.  Only fifteen minutes later it was announced that the show was cancelled.  Just as we got up to leave, the lights went down a little and a short "rain" show played.  I was so impressed with that little bit and it also made me so very angry at Mother Nature that the damn show was cancelled!  Sorry, I'm still holding a little bitterness in my heart.  Next time, Fantasmic... next time.

We dragged our dreary little butts back to Caribbean Beach and stayed up for a little while chatting and watching To Catch A Predator.  Nothing says Disney like pervs, right?  For those of you wanting more pictures from Day Two, I've decided that Flickr is a pain in my rear so I'm going to to a "Part Two" of Day Two with just pictures!  Hooray for pictures!