So here we are. After 11 PM on our 5th and last night this go around in Florida’s Walt Disney World. So, let’s look back and analyze our trip.
First, where we stayed. This time around, it was Port Orleans, the French Quarter. This is what Disney calls a “Moderate” resort, and one of the smallest. The theme is the French Quarter of New Orleans, and we think they do a very good job with the building style and landscaping of making you believe you are in Louisiana, and not Florida. We have a corner king bedroom, which faces the Sassagoula River (Disney made of course), and the room is very comfortable, quiet, and in a great location. This is what is called a Disney Springs Resort because you can take a boat to Disney Springs (more on that in a bit), and is the sister resort to Port Orleans, Riverside, which is just a bit farther up river, but much bigger. The resort has a lovely pool, a very nice fast food restaurant, gift shop and other amenities. Because of our Disney Retiree benefits, our room is costing us about $150 a night, which is a great rate. We start every morning at the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory (the fast food place) and have a nice breakfast for two for about $20. We have ended each of our 5 nights here at the Scat Cat’s Club, the “jazz” venue in the resort. There, for the last 4 nights, we have sat at the same table, had the same great waitress (thank you Laura for truly making us feel at home) had a variety of great drinks and “bar snacks” that we have used as dinner. The Mardi Gras Fritters are especially not to be missed if you like pimento cheese and pepper jelly! They also make a very good Long Island Iced Tea, our drink of choice the last two days! From Saturday through Tuesday, they have live music, and that has been a nice way to end the evening. I heard the bartender tonight tell someone that Port Orleans, the French Quarter, has the highest return visitor rate of any resort…from our experience, I can believe that.
So, night one, we took the boat ride to Disney Springs. This used to be called Downtown Disney, and on many of our visits has been many different things, but now it seems mostly to be a shopping and dining venue. We managed to get a 6:15 reservation at Wolfgang Pucks, and considered ourselves lucky because dinner reservations go very fast. Note for next visit…make those dining reservations as far out as you can, as the closer you get to your vacation, the less is to be had! We had a couple of drinks at the House of Blues before dinner, and then a wonderful dinner at Wolfgang’s with a great waitress, great service, wonderful ambiance, and superb food. It was a great night, but for the fact that we walked our asses off getting from the boat to the restaurant and back! More of that later.
On Sunday, we headed to Epcot with the plan to drink our way through the World Showcase. Let’s just say, we may be too old for that kind of a plan! We had a huge (too huge) lunch at the German Pavilion, including a gallon of beer for Frank! Other drinks we had at Mexico, China, and Japan. Epcot is one of the few places in WDW that booze flows, but the World Showcase also had a lot of wonderful ethnic food stalls that we will definitely try next time. As to rides, we had a Fast Pass for Test Track and got knocked around a bit, and went through Spaceship Earth twice….mostly because the first time we went through, our cart got stuck in German and we didn’t understand anything that was happening. Talk about a waste of a Fast Pass!
Oh, speaking about Fast Pass… great invention. Using the My Disney Experience web site, or the Walt Disney World iPhone app, we were able to schedule 3 rides each day that we basically got right in without waiting on line. You get an hour window, show up anytime during that hour, and get ushered into the ride. I mean 5 minutes from start to being on the ride…when the standby time may be 50 minutes! Great system. Once you use your 3 pre-programmed Fast Passes, you can go to kiosks in the parks and get more!
As children of the 50s, our favorite park by far is the Magic Kingdom. We are old enough to remember when that was all there was…even here in Florida! We love it, and both of us would list the Carousel of Progress and Haunted Mansion as our favorite rides. In two days at the Magic Kingdom, we saw all our favorites, including our top two, plus Pirates of the Caribbean, the Tiki Birds, It’s a Small World, the WED People Movers, Peter Pan’s Ride, and many others. Always fun to just walk around that park as so much is so familiar! We really liked something new to us, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, a neat 3D movie with some great effects, and taking in so much that is Disney Familiar! Another new attraction to us was, Monsters, Inc Laugh Floor where animation interacts with a live studio audience. Well done and very clever! What can we say…we are not roller coaster folks (well Frank ain’t), and we know what we like!
On Tuesday, we didn’t go to any parks, but something totally new for us. We went to ESPN World’s Champion Stadium, and watched out first ever Spring Training game! The Mets took on the Atlanta Braves, and although our beloved Mets lost, we got to see Matt Harvey pitch 3 innings, and experience Spring Training Baseball for the first time! Something different, and a lot of fun!
Now, as to food, we kept it simple. Our mornings were at our resort fast food venue. Nothing fancy, but a lot of choices and a good way to start the day. Our day in Epcot we ate at the Beirgarden in Germany. A very nice German buffet , with all the usual choices, but this was our third time there, and we think our last. There just was too much good looking small plate kind of food we saw, that we’d like to sample next time. In addition to our Saturday meal at Wolfgang Puck’s, we had one other reservation meal, and that was last night at Boatwright’s Dining Hall at our sister resort, Port Orleans Riverside. While not as elegant as Wofgang Puck’s, we had perhaps the best meal of our trip there! From soup to dessert, every course was excellent, and we enjoyed every part of it. With the exception of those 3 meals, everything else was either eaten on the fly in the parks, was a “Slaw Dog” at the ball game, or our nighttime snacks with drinks and music at the Scat Cat’s Club!
Oh, and we mentioned walking before…well, here are the totals for the last five days. Saturday (at Disney Springs) 4.08 miles, Sunday (Epcot) 4.67 miles, Monday (Magic Kingdom #1) 4.69 miles, Tuesday (baseball) only 2.7 miles, and the top of the heap, today (Magic Kingdom #2) 5.86 miles. So just know, if your are going to do Disney World under your own power, you are going to walk!
So that’s it, five wonderful nights in Walt Disney World. It may not be for everyone, but we loved it. We didn’t run constantly, chase all over the parks for rides, get there early and stay late, or do anything we didn’t want to do. In fact, every evening, we made sure we were back at our resort between 5 and 6, and enjoyed at least an hour or so on a bench on the beautiful green just outside our room, with a drink, and our books relaxing. It was our perfect trip, and I think that’s what everyone’s got to learn on vacation. Have the vacation YOU want, because when it’s all done and said, you are the only person who needs to be happy!!