At 180 days out all of my dining reservations are done!
We have some really awesome dinners planned. Citricos, Narcoossee’s, Artist Point, and Le Cellier are all on the list. We are doing some special treats like afternoon tea, and Cinderella’s Royal Table. Some great classics like Liberty Tree Tavern, and Coral Reef. I’m also super excited for some Italian food at Mama Melrose and Indian food at Sanaa. We will also spend one day eating around the world showcase at Epcot. I hope I made the right choices!!!!
Today I concluded the reservation process for our hotel in Disney World. We are staying five nights at the Old Key West Resort. It wasn’t my first choice but I wanted to try renting Disney Vacation Club points from an owner. We got a great deal and we are really looking forward to this!
Well, I’ve been planning my 40th birthday in Disney World for awhile now but we are at the seven month mark. I’m closing in on the last bit of details for the hotel. It’s starting to really happen. It’s really my very favorite vacation! This time I will blog my planning process as well.
I’ve already bought my birthday dress!
Can you see the hidden mickeys? lol
Friday was our last full day in Disney World. James had a conference call that morning so I headed off to Hollywood Studios to ride the rides James wasn’t interested in riding. It was nice and empty when I got there at opening. I headed straight for the Tower of Terror. This is my absolute favorite ride in all of Disney World. I grabbed a fast pass before hopping in line to ride the Tower of Terror the first time around. After that ride, I ran and rode the Rockin Rollercoaster, then back to the Tower of Terror for ride #2, and then back in line for one more ride before meeting up with James. The last time I went on it, I rode with three senior citizens. It was probably the most fun I ever had on a ride. They were like kids experiencing a ride for the first time, I couldn’t help but laugh.
I took the bus over to Epcot to meet up with James at the fountain in Future World. James took a ride on Spaceship Earth. I have gone on this ride before and was willing to miss out on riding it again. Well it seems they have re-worked it and it sounds like it was a lot of fun. Oh well, there’s always next time. After splitting the cupcake, we took a trip under the sea to see Nemo and Friends, and have a little Turtle Talk with Crush. We wanted to ride Soarin but it was a 2 hour line and no fast passes left. We walked around the World Showcase for a bit and grabbed a couple of things from the food and wine kiosks to sample. We walked through a few shops and then headed to lunch at the Rose and Crown Pub in the UK Pavillion. After lunch we headed over to Norway to ride Maelstrom; a little water ride with the theme of folklore in Norway. The rain was coming down pretty steady, and that many people with that many umbrellas was a little overwhelming. We decided to head back to the hotel and rest for a bit before heading back out for dinner.
Early evening we headed back to Hollywood Studios to pick up our ears, and hop on a “friend ship” to the Yacht Club Hotel. Friend ships are the boats that connect a number of locations in Disney World. We boarded the boat at Hollywood Studios and made stops at Swan and Dolphin, as well as the Boardwalk, before arriving at Yacht and Beach Club. The boat continues on to Epcot. We spent some time in the gift shop and then had a really nice dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse. We caught a bus back to our hotel and fell sound asleep upon arrival.
Les Chefs de France is an authentic French Bistro in the French Pavillion of Epcot. As always, in World Showcase, the classics and the standards are served. In fact, that’s what World Showcase is; classics and standards of each country. What they look like, who works there, and what they serve and sell in those pavilions are they postcard version of those countries.
So of course it’s a great French Bistro in France. By looking at the name of the restaurant on the front awning, you would never know that this is a “celebrity chef” restaurant. Actually, it was founded by three famous chefs. Paul Bocuse, Roger Verge, and Gaston Lenotre are les Chefs de France. Bocuse is actually considered the first “celebrity chef”, as he was the first chef to put his name on his restaurant. You may also recognize his name by the well known cooking competition the Bocuse d’Or.
Dinner once again, was late in the evening, and we were ready for our table when we got there. We sat near the window and had a nice view of the sidewalks of “France” and of the lagoon. The menu is amazing and it made it difficult to decide what we wanted. http://allears.net/menu/men_cdfd.htm Feel free to post below what you would have had.
I started with the A la flame Alsacienne, a flatbread topped with creme fraiche, onion and bacon. It was quite large as you can see and took up a full size plate. It was very good, and I would recommend this as a shared appetizer or even a nice lunch. James has the selection of pates and charcuterie. Again, this would be appropriate for a lunch.
For dinner, I selected the Cote de Boeuf. By the time it came out, I was full of from the appetizers and the bread. So I tried the pasta but didn’t have much of it but a sample. I enjoyed the short ribs, but I have had better. James had the filet I think. This vacation is getting too far away from me already. I do remember that I had the apple crepe for dessert. It was good, the crepe was thicker and a bit more dry than I would expect. The caramel sauce was outrageous!
Service from our French waiter Julien was excellent. He was from Lyon (home of Paul Bocuse). He was prompt and attentive, and adorably French. We had a lovely view of the fireworks over the lagoon. The atmosphere was truly comfortable (comfortable enough for James to doze off during dinner). I’d recommend to anyone visiting Epcot. Next time, I’d like to try the upstairs sister restaurant, Bistro de Paris.
The Crystal Palace is located between Main Street and Adventureland in Magic Kingdom. It’s architecture is based on a combination of locations – The San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers Kew Gardens in England and the Crystal Palace in New York. It’s a really beautiful Victorian style building. Inside houses a large restaurant that features buffets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All of which, feature Pooh and friends. This was a bit overkill since we had already had breakfast with them the day before. However, it looked like our best choice on the meal plan in Magic Kingdom.
The buffet was fine. I’m not surprised because food never really wows me in the Magic Kingdom. There was an ample selection of food, some basic (cold cuts, mashed potatoes, pizza…), some more exotic (Brocoli tossed with puri puri and topped with key lime ponzu, green thai curry chicken…). So there is something for everyone. Unfortunately, while we were at the buffet, a kid threw up all over his father and the floor. ok, now I don’t want lunch.
Dessert was probably the saving grace of this meal. Lots of choices, there was no deciding on one thing. James made a few selections too, and they were different from the ones on this plate. So starting with the obvious, ice cream is in the bowl, then below that is a slice of key lime pie, banana bread pudding, raspberry and cream sponge cake, and cherry apple cobbler. Every one of them was great. I really loved the bread pudding, which is not usually something I eat. I’ll post the recipe later.
So the question is “Would I go back?” Yes I would go back with the right people and the right meal plan. If I was not on a meal plan, I would not go back. Although, if you have kids with you, it’s a great opportunity for a character meal inside one of the parks. Crystal Palace would not make every itinerary, but I see where it could make an appearance again.
On Thursday, I got up early to hit the Magic Kingdom during Magic Hours. The park was empty when I got there. I was able to get breakfast at the Main Street Bakery without waiting in line for very long. I headed off to grab my fast pass for Space Mountain, then hopped in line to ride it. I rode in the back the first time and in front the second time. It’s definitely a front seat rollercoaster as you can’t see where you are going. So there is no suspense of being the last one to go through the drops. You feel the wind and speed more in the front seat, and you feel like you are flying.
I went for a ride on the teacups, as there was no wait at all, and the headed over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. A classic rollercoaster, that most people can handle, no crazy drops, no upside down loops. I was ready to head out but hit the Aladdin ride before leaving. I got to ride with Aladdin and Jasmine. It was fun to watch the kids get excited about having a “celebrity” on our ride.
I stood in a half hour line to get James a cinnamon roll at the same bakery that I went to earlier that morning. When that park gets going, it’s packed. I headed out to the bus where I waited for about an hour for a bus back to the hotel, needless to say I was frazzled by the time I got back to the hotel. After a mini vacation meltdown, we headed back to the Magic Kingdom for lunch.
Lunch at Crystal Palace and back out to ride some more rides and watch some shows. We stopped in at Hall of Presidents. I’ve never seen this show, so I thought it would be interesting. Turns out, I’ve still not seen this show. I fell asleep during the show. Lincoln started speaking and I was out. I woke up when a very orange Obama was wrapping it up. I left feeling quite refreshed.
We also rode Haunted Mansion, watched Mickey’s Philharmagic, shot our way through Buzz Lightyear, laughed at Monsters Inc, and visit the classic Carousel of Progress. Carousel of Progress is quite outdated, but worth at least one viewing.
We went back to the hotel got a little bit of rest (at least a few minutes). Dinner was at Epcot, so back on the bus! We got to Epcot a little bit early so we hit the Club Cool Spot in Epcot Future World, and sampled all 7 different sodas from around the world. James’ favorite was Vegeta Beta from Japan. My favorite was Mezzo Mix from Germany, it’s a cross between Coke and Orange.
Before dinner we watched the Impressions of France movie. It shown on five very large screens, really beautiful scenery abounds in the movie. It really put us in the mood for our French dinner at Les Chefs de France.
After dinner, we dragged ourselves back to the bus and back to our hotel. It’s all a blur after dinner, I was so tired. I think I was falling asleep on the bus.
Wednesday night we went to dinner at the Biergarten. I won’t post the menu because it’s just hodgepodge of classic german food and it’s different every night. We had a late reservation but it was still really crowded. The Biergarten if you haven’t figured it out yet, is located in the German Pavillion of Epcot’s World Showcase. It’s set up to look like an old Bavarian biergarten with common tables circling a stage. There is a large buffet in the back of the hall. They will tell you that the buffet is the same on the left and the right side and meet in the middle at the carving station. I advise that if you ever go here, you look at both sides of the buffet. I always find something different on one of the sides.
Table are sat in tables of 8. We ended up sitting with an older couple, who was quite cranky that there were no more performances that evening. If you learn anything about Disney, let it be that everything is planned and scheduled. If you want to see a show at the Biergarten while you eat, you have to research when that happens. The second group of people were four nerdy twentysomethings. There was not a lot of chatting in between groups. In fact, I don’t know if the older couple spoke at all, even to each other. The other group’s conversation was monopolized by a guy in their group who knew absolutely EVERYTHING (or so he thought), including why Three’s Company became a long running series. yep.
Anyhow, back to the food, because isn’t that what this post is supposed to be about.
Yeah, that’s my big fat plate of german food. It’s hard to identify what’s on that plate of brown and white food. I did start my meal with a nice salad with a creamy herb dressing that is always on the buffet and some really yummy pretzel rolls. Looking closer at this plate, here is what I spy: Potato Dumplings, Spaetzle, German Potato Salad, Roasted Potatoes, Chicken Schnitzel, Roast Chicken, pork and a variety of beef. Yikes!!! Some of it was better than others, but a good representation of german food. The only thing missing was Sauerbraten. Dessert offered a couple nice selections, apple strudel with vanilla sauce and a really good berry compote.
Our waitress was nice and super cute with her authentic german accent. Service at a buffet is not usually a make it or break it kind of thing, but she was good. I was impressed when she picked up 5 beer steins in one hand.
I will always return to the Biergarten in Disney. It’s a fun experience, it moves pretty fast, and the food is good.
You could make me a cake. A Hollywood Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake. I love to Cook I hate to bake. This cake is just delicious. Since I’ve made the declaration that I will not be going back to the ole HBD, how will I ever have it again. That is unless someone makes it for me…
Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake (original recipe)
1-1/2 cups sifted cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl.
Make a well in the center of dry ingredients. Add water, oil, egg yolks,
grapefruit juice and lemon rind. Beat until smooth.
Beat egg white and cream of tartar separately until whites are stiff but not
dry. Gradually, pour egg yolk mixture over whites, folding gently with a
rubber spatula until just blended. Do not stir mixture.
Pour into ungreased pan (Note-they do not say what size).
Bake in 350-degree over for 25 to 30 minutes or until cake springs back when
lightly touched with finger.
Invert pan on cake rack until cool. Run spatula round edge of cake.Carefully
remove from pan. With a serrated knife, gently cut layer in half.
Grapefruit Cream Cheese Frosting
2 packages (3-ounce packages) cream cheese 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1
teaspoon grated lemon rind 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted 3 drops yellow food
coloring 1 (1 pound) can grapefruit sections, well drained.
Let cream cheese soften at room temperature, then beat until fluffy. Add
lemon juice and rind. Gradually blend in sugar. Beat until well blended,
then add coloring. Crush several grapefruit sections to measure 2 teaspoons.
Blend into frosting.
Spreading frosting on bottom half of cake. Top with several grapefruit
sections. Cover with second layer. Frost top and sides. Then garnish with
remaining grapefruit sections.
This grapefruit cake is Hollywood Brown Derby original. It is light,
genoise-style cake and is layered with flavored cream cheese and fresh
grapefruit segments, making it delicious.
When you are on the Disney Dining Plan, you receive a certain amount of credits. On the deluxe dining plan, you receive three sitdown meal credits for every night you stay, and two snack credits. The Hollywood Brown Derby is considered a signature dining experience so it cost you two meal credits per person. It was not worth it. I would not go back to the Brown Derby if it was only one credit.
Here’s the menu – http://allears.net/menu/menu_bd.htm
This meal was really uneventful. The service was mediocre. The tables are way too close together.
I did have a lovely margarita flight that was brought out in this really fun holder. However, I received those after I sent back the martini flight I did not order. The flavors are traditional, pomegranate, and mango.
I started with the bibb lettuce salad, it was huge and really a good start. I can’t remember what James, had it might not be listed on this menu. For lunch I had lamb which is also not on the menu. It was not offered to be cooked a certain way, and when it came out it was well done. Not exactly how I would serve lamb. It was served with lyonnaise potatoes that were not cooked enough, how ironic. James had the pork chop topped with smoked gouda. James said that the combination didn’t really work for him.
For dessert I had the Grapefruit Cake. I have had this before and I really just love it. I love the flavor of grapefruit and the cake and frosting are nice and light. So yummy. James had the banana tower that was good but not overly out of this world. He tasted my cake and said it was much better than his selection.
All in all, it was probably the meal we were least impressed with it. Oddly enough, we didn’t feel great after it either. On return visits to Disney, this is one restaurant I will leave off of our list.