Thursday, January 12, 2012

Disney World Solo Tripping!

If you follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook, you probably are aware that in just one week I'm going down to Disney World on my first solo trip adventure!  I've outlined the basic details of my trip as well why I've chosen to go solo in my latest post at the blog.  Go ahead... check it out!

Many of you like a lot of little details and I'm happy to share what I'm going to be up to while I'm in Florida.  

My flight leaves Detroit around 8:00 a.m.  My hubby will be driving me up to Detroit very very early... bless his heart.  We'll probably leave here around 4:00 a.m. and get to the airport a little after 6:00 a.m. depending on the Michigan snow that is pounding down outside as I type this.  It'll probably be closer to 6:30 a.m. just because Matt always has to stop and go to the bathroom or grab some breakfast.  

I should get into Orlando a little before 11:00 a.m.  I'll haul tail off of the plane and essentially run to the Magical Express pick-up area.  I wanna start my magical trip as soon as possible!  Since I've already checked into Pop Century online, my check-in experience should be short and painless.  I'm going to ask for a room in a building that is close to Everything Pop, the main building, since I will be by myself and I don't want to take a weird walk through parking lots when it's dark at night.  That just doesn't sound the safest to me... even if it is at Disney.

If I can get a room, I'll go freshen up there and head out to a park.  If my room won't be available then I'll just freshen up/change my clothes in the Pop Century restroom and call it good.  The first park I'm going to will be determined by whichever bus shows up at the bus stop first.  I'm definitely going to end my first night at Epcot though.  La Cava margarita in hand and I'm a happy camper.  

The rest of my days I'm honestly playing by ear.  I KNOW!  You've gotta be shocked.  I'm going where I want when I want.  I've not booked any advanced dining reservations at all since it's just me and if I want to eat somewhere, I can pop in pretty quickly without much effort and fuss.  I have chosen to treat myself to a signature restaurant... my first signature restaurant!  It's a tie right now between Jiko and Flying Fish Cafe.  I just can't determine which one at this point.  I took a vote on Twitter and Jiko won with about 75% of the votes.  We'll see what I end up doing!

My last park day I'm actually letting my Twitter followers and readers weigh in on!  Everyone is free to pick a park for me and whichever they choose is the park I'll be tweeting live from.  I figure since I'll be right there in the magic, I should share it with some awesome people.

So excited to be doing a lot of photography as well as research for the great folks at!  I just LOVE my side job!

From next Wednesday the 18th, through Sunday the 22nd, prepare to be Disneyfied "Disney Nerd" style.  I'll post the final day of my trip report back from October here in a few days.  Gotta finish it up so I can share all of my new adventures with you guys!

Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Nautical Disney Adventure - Day 5

It's our last full day at Walt Disney World so we hit up my personal favorite park, Epcot..  We got there a little later than I would have liked but it was only just after rope drop.  We grabbed a couple of FastPasses for Soarin' and then headed to Character Connection before the line got too long.  Barbara isn't the biggest fan of costumed characters so she and Ben stayed out of the photos for the most part but I required them to get a picture with the big cheese... Mickey Mouse.  Standing in line we saw the cutest little boy ever.  Barbara and I named him George.

After Soarin', my gang went over to Club Cool, quenched our thirst, and continued to Mission: Space.  The boys did the crazy side and the girls did the tame version.  I've done the wild one before and totally regretted it.  I felt sick for a couple of hours after.  Barbara REALLY doesn't do well with motion simulators so it was a clear choice for us as to which side we'd ride.

If my memory serves me correctly, we enjoyed the campy nature of Captain EO and of course, skipped Figment.  As soon as World Showcase opened we were buying our Food and Wine Festival wristbands out for the kill (or food and alcohol).  Let's dig in.

Right away, Matt shocked me by grabbing some Maple and Moosehead Beer-glazed Salmon with Barley Salad in Canada.  He's picky about salmon and doesn't want it often.  It was really really amazing.  I'm sort of kicking myself for not getting a portion for myself.  Yumtastic!

I'd also like to point out this dude's fashion statement.  I don't know who he is but I'd like to tip my hat to him.  Brave, brave man.

Who doesn't love cheese, right?  Barbara and Matt certainly did.  They loved this option while I still think one of them tastes like feet.  Give me cheap cheese and I'll be happy.  Fancy cheeses don't make me feel fancy.  Anyway... they loved it.

My first thing I wanted to try was a bold move... Escargots!  I LOVED IT!  The tiny bread bowls with butter really complimented the snails well.  It didn't taste "snaily" as my husband pointed out.

Coming up to the Belgium pavillion, Ben grabbed Steamed Mussels and I nabbed a Hoegaarden.  Mmmm... beer.  All tasted amazing.  The beer was perfect for the overly warm day.

Portugal surprised me with the Calamari Salad.  It was outstanding.  I wish I would have gotten two.  I love calamari anyway but this was a really unique way to try it since it wasn't warm and breaded like I'm used to.

Matt stopped at Hops and Barley and absolutely needed a Maine Lobster Roll.  After Ben saw Matt's, he went over and got one.  Totally worth a snack credit!  Yum!

We stopped for Matt to get a Carlsberg (beer) in Norway and then met Snow White.  We decided to stop at Maelstrom where I snapped perhaps my favorite shot of the entire trip.  Funnily enough, as we got up to the attraction, we found out that it just shut down due to mechanical problems.  Fail!

I twisted Barbara's arm (okay, not so much) into getting School Bread in Norway's Kringla Bakeri since she absolutely loves coconut.  Barbara loved it and decided to keep the other half for breakfast the next morning.

Scandinavia was calling to me with their Taste of Scandinavia.  There was a sampling plate of Shrimp Salad, Cured Salmon, and Herring.  While everything was really good, the salmon was outstanding.  I think the portions were great for a snack credit.  I like the idea of getting multiple food items with one credit.  Makes it feel more worth it.

Our next stop was the Caribbean where Barbara and Ben both got the Jerk Spiced Chicken.  I believe this was their favorite of everything that they tried.  The booth was crazy busy so obviously Disney's chefs were doing something right.  Barbara also got the Frozen Rock Coconut Mojito.  I think it was a little pricy for the size but the flavor more than made up for it.  Delicious!

I DEMANDED that we stop at La Cava again.  I'd tweeted the bar earlier in the day and they actually asked me what I wanted the special of the day to be.  I said, "a margarita!"  They tweeted back positively so I knew I had to show up and get a special deal.  The Hibiscus Margarita was only $10 so I asked for that and also an order of chips and guac.  Their guacamole is the best I've ever had.  Truly.  Wow.  Everyone snacked on it but I ate most of it (guilty).  Ben and Barbara shared an Avocado Margarita since we learned how delicious they are on the first day of our trip.  Before we left I also wanted the Twitter "shot special" for only $5.  AMAZZZINNGGG presentation and delicious tequila.  Getting the bill, I learned that you can only have ONE Twitter special for your order so I took the discount on the margarita and payed a few extra dollars for my tequila shot.  Not a big deal.  I still think it's worth the cost.  

Guess who I bumped into at La Cava?  Mike from Coaster Radio!  A few years ago I became a frequent guest of the Coaster Radio podcast for a little while.  Mike was vacationing with his lovely wife, Molly and they just happened to be at La Cava at the same time as us.  I loved visiting with them for a little bit. Truly the nicest folks.

I was feeling nice and loopy walking out of the bar and I had energy to boot.  Ben and Barbara were still hungry so they stopped at Hawaii and each got a Pork Slider.

Barbara and Ben wanted to cool off so they went back to Caribbean Beach Resort to swim and take a nap while Matt and I took another lap around World Showcase.  It's clear to us that Matt and I are obsessed with World Showcase and we always spend more time there than any other place in Walt Disney World on every vacation.  Matt took the camera and went crazy with it.  We made sure to hit up the Circle-Vision show in Canada since we LOVE it.

Guess who Matt just HAD to stop and meet?  Mary Poppins!!

Once we made it to France, we stopped at the bakery and grabbed something to cure our sweet tooth.  Honestly, I don't know what Matt got.  I drank "too much" at that point and didn't write it down.  It looks like a turnover of some sort... probably apple.  I got the Napoleon which I LOVE.  We were excited to watch the movie in France for the first time.  Thing is... I don't remember it.  I remember entering the theater and sitting down.  The next thing I know,  Matt is waking me up.  I fell asleep!  I felt like I'd been sleeping for a few hours!  This is what happens to me when I drink... I sleep.

I was drowsy but we pressed on.  We had a blast goofing off and taking more pictures.  My stomach even got a second wind when I saw the word "sushi."  Hey, Spicy Tuna Roll!  Welcome to my mouth!

Time rolled around for us to meet back up with Barbara and Ben by Spaceship Earth.  We hadn't even done this attraction yet at that point.  We all enjoyed it... especially the silly pictures at the end.  Next up was a trek back to the World Showcase to dominate Maelstrom since we missed out earlier in the day.  Can't stay away from those vikings.  We even stayed for the movie at the end for the first time ever.  Fact!  It will be my last time ever unless they change it.  That was the loudest movie I've ever sat through, and also, the most dated.

Barbara stopped at Karamell-Kuche in Germany and got a cookie covered with a wonderful caramel drizzle.

After finishing up walking through the World Showcase, we visited the Innoventions buildings.  I suggested (okay, demanded) that we have fun in "Where's the Fire?"  It's so much fun and all of us really liked doing it.  We even got a cute picture after the interactive game.

We had a dinner reservation at Coral Reef at about 8:00 p.m. and showed up early in hopes of getting a table by the tank.  I was assured upon checking in that, "all tables have a great view."  Well, okay.  There went that idea.  We waited about 10-15 minutes, the longest wait on our trip, and then got seated in the 3rd tier of the restaurant.  Our waitress was very sweet and took our drinks orders.  For some reason, I never wrote down what drinks we got.  I think Matt and I both got a water while Barbara got some type of alcohol drink and Ben got a beer.

I was the only one to get an appetizer.  I happen to love the Lobster Soup only on this trip, it fell flat.  It was very watered down and I had ONE piece of lobster that I could even taste.  Not worth the cost.  The table bread and butter that we were given complimentary was actually more appealing and that's not saying much given that it was pretty plain.

For Ben's entree, he chose the salmon.  It was very plain and only one side was that good.  He said it was overcooked (not a great thing for salmon) and not prepared well.  The best part of the dish was the rice.

Matt's choice of Mahi Mahi was acceptable.  The fish itself was juicy and pretty good.  He subbed the original side of rice for potatoes and they were pretty standard mashed potatoes... nothing exceptional.

I decided to go for the Pan-Seared Sustainable Seasonal Catch and sub the mushroom risotta for mashed potatoes.  The fish wasn't bad but it certainly was bland.  I can't even remember what kind of fish it was that I got that day.  It had a crispiness to the outside that reminded me of fried chicken.  Perhaps the fish would have been better if it would have been accompanied with something other than bland mashed potatoes.  Flavor wise, I was disappointed.

Barbara got the winning entree of the group... the Grilled New York Strip Steak with Horseradish Potatoes and Vegetables.  The steak was quite good apparently (I didn't try it since I don't eat anything that lives on land) but the highlight was the mashed potatoes.

Barbara got the winner of the desserts as well.  Her creme brulee was exceptional and she said she had no complaints.  Ben got cheesecake which he said was just too fancy... like they were trying hard.  The wafer that accompanied the cheesecake tasted like paper.  Matt and I got the Chocolate Wave.  We've had this many times before and this was the worst we've had it.  It wasn't bad but it also wasn't exceptional.  The cake was just barely warm and not gooey enough.  We wanna see chocolate lava pouring out.

Super full, we paid our bill and got the heck outta there.  As we were going past the Leave a Legacy tombs, I remembered that we had to look for NSYNC's photos!  I looked up the exact location on my phone and we went in search.  The boys wanted to leave so badly so they were searching extra hard.  I have to give the credit to Ben for finding it (it hurts to say that).

Most of us packed up our stuff that night once we got back to Caribbean Beach Resort.  We knew we wanted to get up and going to Disney's Hollywood Studios the next morning for our last hours in the park.  We could not believe our awesome trip was almost over.