Rainy, rainy, rain. Broken record, right? The skies hadn't closed up yet and dried us off so we decided to tackle a wet Magic Kingdom. We made it to the gates in enough time to see opening and start a slippery walk to Space Mountain. We stood outside for about five minutes before the ride officially opened and we could walk through the queue. Space Mountain is always so exciting to me because I can't remember where the turns are and I actually feel like it's pretty thrilling. The downside... I get beat up to no end. It's a win/lose game.
After walking out of Space Mountain we immediately noticed something was off in Tomorrowland. There were no guests, just cast members. We started to walk to the restrooms only to make it a few steps and be stopped by a cast member telling us that Tomorrowland is closed until further notice. We couldn't access the hub through Tomorrowland so they were pushing everyone out of the area and into Fantasyland. About 30 seconds later we noticed a handful of firefighters pointing up towards the Astro Orbiter and/or the PeopleMover. We tried to look around while we were being rushed out but we couldn't see anything interesting. As we crossed past The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the big construction walls opened up and a few fire trucks came out! It was all so exciting! I hurried and got out my digital camera in the rain because I couldn't miss capturing the action for my blog.
We changed our plan of attack and just went on some of the Fantasyland rides before the lines got too long. This was a smart idea because every single time we got off of one attraction, the posted time would be higher. Haunted Mansion was excitedly up next! Barbara and Ben were most stoked about Haunted Mansion and it turned out to be a ride that we'd repeat over and over throughout the day.
Columbia Harbour House opened up at 11 a.m. and we were right there for it. Ben got the shrimp meal, Matt and Barbara got the tuna sandwich, and I ordered the new lobster roll. Everyone felt like you got a lot of food for the price of one counter service credit. The lobster roll was good but I'm not sure that it was as great as the Lighthouse Sandwich which is what I usually get. Everyone else loved their entrees and their dessert as well. We sat at a table on the bridge/walkway crossing and noticed that when we were done eating, the rain was done pouring! This called for a trip to Frontierland. We grabbed FastPasses for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and then hit up Splash Mountain before the rain kicked in again. I don't know if I get as excited to ride any attraction like I do with Splash Mountain. I think next time I'm going to see how many times in one day I can ride it. Sounds like a crazy awesome plan.
The gang decided to go into Adventureland and go on Pirates of the Caribbean. Without fail, some idiot in the boat ahead of us was taking pictures. Just one I want a solo trip on this attraction with no flash photography that blinds me or ruins the effects! *off soap box* I convinced everyone that we need to see the new Enchanted Tiki Room. Everyone thought it sounded dopey but I just had to go see the "new/old" renovations. I gotta say... it was still lame. Haha. Sorry, Walt and the awesome Imagineers that spent a lot of time working on this attraction. We left and my friends turned toward me and said, "Yeah, Stacey! That was worth it! NOT!" Ha!! Oh well, provided us a good laugh at least.
Our Big Thunder Mountain Railroad FastPass return time was up so we rode that and then headed back into Adventureland for a very special event. Barbara's first dole whip float. Many pictures to commemorate this happy moment.
We found out that the big drama in Tomorrowland was! Some wires caught fire or something on the Astro Orbiter and it wasn't a big deal but they had to evacuate the area to make sure all was well. Tomorrowland opened back up in the afternoon so we finished up Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and then called it good. We left the park via the monorail and headed over to the Polynesian to walk around and show Barbara and Ben where we got to stay last year when I won a trip through Orbitz. The grounds are so lush and tropical at the Poly. I feel like I'm transported somewhere else all together. And with a quick monorail ride I somehow ended up at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. We were about a half hour early for a our reservation time (or so I thought) but we checked into 1900 Park Fare early at about 5 p.m. anyway because the boys were tired and getting cranky.
The gal that checked us in was super enthusiastic that I was going to be eating a vegan meal. She started talking about Chef TJ and raving of his culinary abilities. I already knew all this so I just let her go on about him to her hearts content. Chef TJ is my bud. We go way back. About 2 years back to when he worked at 'Ohana.
The "family photo" in front of the cheesy backdrop at 1900 Park Fare was so awkward but we definitely participated. My group was seated in the back room, away from the buffet and entertainment. That didn't bother me so much because it seemed less chaotic there. People poured in quickly and filled up the tables. Our waitress was really attentive and fast so our drink orders came rather quickly. Barbara was feeling a bit (or an insane amount) awkward so she ordered alcohol right away and downed it embarrassingly fast. The boys got pop and I enjoyed a margarita. I'd like to point out that the woman that checked us in (Chef TJ's BFF) noted something rather funny on our parties ticket.
It took a little while for Chef TJ to come over and chat with me. He was really busy with food allergies all over. I told him as long as there isn't any mushroom on my plate then we're good. Chef TJ showed me around what was meat free on the buffet while Barbara, Ben, and Matt got their plates filled up. I took some soup, a little salad, and some veggies. It was all really good and I shouldn't have gotten that because I ate a lot of it. I knew Chef TJ had a lot to bring out to me but I had a hard time being patient.
Let's take a look at Barbara's plate. Since she started at the kid's buffet table, she got the Mickey plate, not knowing that there were regular round plates for adults. This provided me a good laugh when I got back to the table. Barbara's favorite foods included the Caprese Salad and Strawberry Soup. She also got a free cupcake for her birthday!
Ben's favorites were the Salmon (which he actually said was exceptional) and the Caesar Salad.
Matt's plate is the most chaotic of them all. A love of macaroni and cheese and pizza led him to the kid's buffet as well. He also really liked the Caprese Salad and Caesar Salad.
Shortly, Chef TJ appeared in front of me with what could only be described as a masterpiece creation. Vegan spring rolls and homemade chips with hummus. I couldn't stop myself once I started devouring this. I just kept repeating, "This is sooooo good!" I knew I should stop because more would be coming but it was so difficult! Even Barbara flipped out and said she wished she'd said she was vegan so she could enjoy Chef TJ's food.
Next up for me was my favorite part of the meal... grilled romaine with a tasty horseradish sauce and pistachios. It's worth mentioning that I hate horseradish. This was so different, though! It had a kick to it and I'm pretty sure had some type of drug that made me keep eating. My stomach was filling up quickly and I began to wonder if Chef TJ had an entree for me or if he was considering this my entree. I wanted to try more but my tummy was hurting!
Of course, there was more food from my main man TJ. A HUGE plate of tofu and veggies. While I was trying to make a dent in this, my friends were all done eating their dessert. Even though I was totally full, the word dessert was music to my ears and Chef TJ had told me to hang tight because he was bringing me something good.
Out came a tower of fruit, sorbet, and vegan ice cream held together with a long wooden spear. He whipped out a bottle of Hershey's chocolate syrup and went to town! I thanked Chef TJ up and down for all of his hard work and got a quick picture with him. I might love him a little. Though, my stomach still hates him a little for the delicious torture.
Now to touch on the characters of this meal. Prince Charming was incredibly thin but charming. Cinderella was beautiful but too quiet. The step-sisters were a hit and even Barbara, incredibly weirded out by all characters, chatted it up with them. I even got her to take a picture with one of them! Lady Tremaine was the same that I'd met a year prior at the Magic Kingdom. She was good but a little young for the part.
We noticed that the waitstaff and bus boys (an older gentleman in particular) were OUTSTANDING! They were all so quick and polite. We all couldn't stop watching this older guy haul tail and stack plates and cups in seconds flat. Truly, we were impressed.
Ben, Barbara, Matt, and myself all got on the monorail and headed back to the Magic Kingdom for some nighttime fun. We pretty much got a seat right away on Main Street U.S.A. and saved each others seats while we went to the restroom and looked around in shops to pass time. Main Street Electrical Parade was a good time for all of us. I think after seeing both that and SpectroMagic, I like Spectro a little better. Maybe it's just because it reminds me of my first trip to Walt Disney World but I sort of miss the scary clown people and the dancing fireflies.
We wanted to go down to the tables out in front of The Plaza to get a good view of the castle's entertainment but everything was roped off so we headed up right beside the Wishes Dessert Party and enjoyed their good view. I LOVED LOVED LOVED watching The Magic, The Memories, and You. What sucked was that we couldn't actually make out any of the pictures on the castle to see if we were on any of them but the special effects were still super cool. While we loved Wishes and it's cheesy, emotional glory, we were bummed that Tinkerbell didn't fly that night.
To make ourselves feel better after missing Tink, we thought a ride on Mad Tea Party would lift our spirits. Crammed into one teacup, the girls instructed the boys to NOT spin the cup. Well, they didn't listen which resulted in hysterical laughter and near vomiting.
We headed over to ride Haunted Mansion a couple of times. The line was a walk on so we took advantage of it. Next up was Fantasyland where we got on a boat ride through the land of children in "it's a small world." About half way through I must have dozed off and Ben noticed. Suddenly I felt a finger halfway up my nose. I jumped and gasped loudly. Almost everyone in the boat turned and looked at me. My gang couldn't stop laughing along with a woman in front of us. Glad I could provide entertainment via embarrassment.
That wasn't the last time I'd embarrass myself for the night. In Mickey's PhilharMagic, we just got seated when something funny was said or happened and I laughed so hard I snorted loudly. The 30 something guy next to me could not stop laughing. His wife asked him what was so funny and he said, "The girl next to me just snorted." Oy.
Matt got his one wish for the whole day.... to ride Jungle Cruise. I pretty much find this ride boring and repetitive. It is safe to say that while the ride is incredibly meh, it's much better at night than during the day. I don't think Barbara and Ben were that impressed with Matt's beloved attraction. Glad I could prove a point.
Our night was over and we headed back to Caribbean Beach Resort for the night. Our last full day at Epcot was ahead of us and we had to be well rested!