Seven Quick Takes No. 48

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I.

It is totally summer here. The pool in my complex is being cleaned and prepped for the season, it was EIGHTY-EIGHT degrees yesterday, the A/C is on–man. I’m so glad. After the winter we had, I will not be complaining about heat this summer. Nope. Nope. Nope nope. I am ready for it!

II.

Speaking of things I’m ready for–Disney World is one of them. Yes, I’m always ready for Disney, but after the winter we had, I really want to have “A drink in my hand/ my snow up against the burning sand” as Olaf would say. The idea of sitting by Stormalong Bay with raspberry iced tea, a book, and a lobster roll post morning swim is so enticing. As is getting to ride all the rides with Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

III.

Second weekend of Music Man rehearsals start tonight. We’re starting blocking (yes, already) and working on Act I music. Have I mentioned my deep love for rehearsals? I do. I love rehearsals. I love theater. And I’m really loving this show.

IV.

My best friend and I were talking about scheduling and getting ready in the morning yesterday, so I thought I’d share one of my favorite, er, “Life Hacks”, I suppose: keep the makeup you wear everyday in your makeup bag–and nothing else. Keep the fun colors for going out or summer waterproof stuff or whatever in a separate bag so that when you get ready in the morning, everything you know you need is right in the makeup bag you use every day. Also, I get my makeup brushes out the night before, put them in a little cup (so they’re standing up) and it makes it so much easier than digging through my brush bag and going, “Where is that #(%)(!%&() eyeshadow brush!?”

V.

A plea to the ladies: Know how your car works. Really. Like, how to add wiper fluid, how to change the head/tail lights, how to jumpstart a dead battery (keeping cables in your trunk is highly recommended), etc. I’m not saying you need to know how to change your oil by yourself, or even change a flat tire (although these are useful skills, and for the flat tire one, you should probably have a basic idea), but basic car knowledge is a good thing for everyone to have! And boys, you need to know how to do this, too. I’m just noticing it more in my female friends. I have found the one about jumper cables and car batteries to be crazy useful. Also, doesn’t hurt to keep a first aid kit in the car, one of the little $5 ones you see at Target. You never know.

VI.

Reading: This week I read Peony In Love and Michael Cunningham’s The Snow QueenPeony was really breathtaking. I had no idea where it was going, but when I figured it out, I totally bought the plot line, hook, line and sinker. I’m going to have to read it again soon. I highly recommend it. The Snow Queen is a lot like Cunningham’s other book (and one of my perennial favorites) The Hours, in that it’s a bit stream-of-consciousness but full of beautifully detailed writing that speaks to the human experience. Not everyone likes the way he writes, but if you do, this is a good one for you. If you’ve never read him, read Mrs. Dalloway and then read The Hours. I’m telling you, you will be rewarded. (And more people should read Virginia, anyway.)

VII.

Speaking of books–give me book suggestions for Florida. I always want suggestions of what people love to read, and I read anything except those cheap (and, OK, let’s be real) crappy romance novels that are in tiny paperback on racks at the grocery.

Disney Journal No. 10–tips and odds and ends

Mosaic in the Beast's Castle

Mosaic in the Beast’s Castle

  • Do. Not. Go to the Magic Kingdom on Monday, if you can help it. Our hotel was deserted basically all day, because everyone was at the MK. So I imagine it was packed. When we went on Tuesday (I got there at 4:00), it was really nice. I mean, yeah, there were people, but it wasn’t claustrophobia I can’t move I’m trapped! sort of thing.
  • Make advanced dining reservations. I’m serious. This makes life so much easier. We never had to think about where we were going to eat, because we made the reservations six months in advance–the earliest you can do it. If you pick later (like two of our ADRs were at 8:00) or earlier (like before 5:00), there are more options. We got a 6:30 ADR in Epcot by sheer luck, I think, and the fact that we didn’t want to eat at La Cellier or Chefs de France.
  • Have an idea of what you want to see before you go, as in non-negotiable things you have to do to leave WDW happy. For me, it was seeing New Fantastyland, Be Our Guest, and the World Showcase. We did all that.
  • Get guidebooks. I used the Unofficial Guide to WDW and Fodor’s WDW. These were both very helpful.
  • I didn’t find the walking to be horribly bad, and I’m not a person who walks like four miles a day, anyway. The MK was actually smaller than I remembered, and the World Showcase at Epcot is a mile from end to end. So you will get a lot of walking in. Wear comfortable shoes, and bring special band-aids to put over blisters if you get them. (I’m serious. These things are sent from God.) Epcot, I have heard, is much bigger, if you want to do the whole park.
  • Bring a pair of scissors. Trust me on this. If you’re flying, put ’em in your checked luggage. Just. bring. scissors.
  • Also bring lots of sunscreen. You don’t want to have to buy it there.
  • Also a waterproof watch is a good idea, because you don’t want to be whipping out your phone every five seconds to tell the time, and you may be using your phone for messaging and need to save the battery. Get a cheap watch and wear it. Makes life easier. (I had a $7 Ariel kids’ watch. I wasn’t going to wear my nice watch.)
  • When you’re looking at hotel accomodations, I highly recommend trying to spring for on-site. You get Extra Magic Hours, transportation, package delivery of things you buy in the parks to your hotel, and lots of other perks. Plus the hotels are just amazing. 

    Yacht Club lobby

    Yacht Club Lobby

  • Also, when looking at hotels, think about what’s most important to you. Is it a great pool? Close to the Magic Kingdom? Being able to get the monorail? Lots of onsite eating choices? The Beach Club offered a boat to Hollywood studios, and buses to Animal Kingdom, Downtown Disney, and the Magic Kingdom. We could walk to Epcot. It was maybe three minutes from our room to the gate. If you have kids and think you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the MK, then you may want something in that “resort area”. I have no hesitation in saying that the pool at the Beach Club and Yacht Club (Stormalong Bay) is amazing.
  • We didn’t use the Disney Dining Plan. I’ve heard mixed things about it. However I did love the refillable mug and used it a lot, especially when I spent time at the pool, and it was great to be able to refill it and bring it to the solarium or my room.
  • One of the fun little things that happened–ducks in the pool. A mama duck and her baby duck were just paddling around Stormalong Bay, totally oblivious to the humans that were all around them. They were cool as cucumbers, and absolutely adorable. They tended to hang out in the deeper pools (not the big infinity sand-bottomed one, although all the pools have some degree of sand on the bottom) and seemed totally cool with humans splashing near them. The baby duck was precious.
  • One of the BC ducks

    One of the BC ducks

     

  • Be sure to check dates when you read Disney reviews online; one I had read about the DBC said the pool was only open until 7! That’s not true; Stormalong Bay is open from 10-11. The adult “quiet” pools, that don’t have lifeguards, are much smaller, and scattered throughout the grounds, are basically open all the time.
  •  Also, take some reviews with a grain of salt. Some people want everything to be perfect, and some people think Disney can do no wrong. Honestly, I thought our stay was pretty close to perfection, and I can’t think of anything I would change, except maybe that pesky tropical storm, and Disney can’t control the weather. (Unlike Pudge…name that movie!)
  • Also–fastpasses? I never used them. I guess I can see why you’d want to, but really, I’d just rather wait in line. And when parades are going on, or it’s the lunch rush or whatever, the lines drop anyway.
  • Bottom line: Read up, make ADRs, do your homework. If you do, it’ll make for a much smoother and much more enjoyable Disney Experience!

Disney Journal No. 9–the last day :(

Friday

I really didn’t want to leave. Really, really, really didn’t want to leave.

The Beach Club was so homey, so Downton Abbey in the awesome staff, and with the pool and the fireworks and the food…it was truly a great place. Every day the flowers were replaced in the lobby, which always smelled of orchids. I loved the solarium, the cheerful lifeguards who talked to every kid in their section, the awesome families, and the beautiful architecture.

I loved Flounder and Sebastian on my rug!

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But, sadly, we had to leave. But not without some last minute pin trading and Beaches and Cream.

(And I grabbed a few more Mickey Rice Krispy treats for the road. I ate the last one earlier this week. SO GOOD.)

Cape May Cafe  put up a pin trading board every day after they closed post-breakfast. There was a two pin limit (meaning you could trade two of your pins for two on the board, at a maximum. You didn’t have to trade two, if there weren’t two pins you wanted.) (And yes, I’m posting more on pin trading later!). So I had to get in one last trading session, and got an Iago and Cinderella pin for my collection, swapping two Star Wars pins.

Then I met Dad at Beaches and Cream, for our farewell burgers and chocolate Cokes. It was the only time we ate there that we got a booth, so huzzah!

Beaches and Cream entrance

Beaches and Cream entrance

Dad hadn’t had the burger yet, so I told him he must have it before we left. In total, we had the hot dog, the falafel, the soup and grilled cheese, the burger, and the Turkey sandwich. And the Milky Way Sundae. Dad also enjoyed the Orange Dream a few times as his beverage of choice (I loved the little candied orange pieces on the whipped cream topping.)  We finished our meal with two scoops of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream. So we did a pretty good job on the menu front.

Beaches and Cream theming

Beaches and Cream theming

mmmmmmm. The buns and pickles are made on-site.

mmmmmmm. The buns and pickles are made on-site.

After the meal we took some last photos of the pool, hotel, and solarium.

In the Solarium

In the Solarium

View from the Solarium

View from the Solarium

The orchids all over the Beach Club.

The orchids all over the Beach Club.

Beach Club as seen from the lake walkway

Beach Club as seen from the lake walkway

And then, it was time to head north. 😦

Dad had filled up the car at the local Hess station, so we were ready to go. He brought the car around to the front and we were heading to Atlanta.

Au revoir, Beach Club!

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Disney Journal No. 8–batten down the hatches!

Thursday

So it rained part of every day I was at Disney. But on Thursday, we had a tropical storm. At first I just thought it was more rain; neither of us were reading the paper or really checking news sites, and we weren’t watching any TV (except hockey, sigh).

So I couldn’t do my normal morning swim, so I headed to the Solarium.

The solarium

The solarium

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main room of the solarium

main room of the solarium

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Custom art

Custom art

Hidden mickeys!

Hidden mickeys!

not really hidden. :)

not really hidden. 🙂

but this one was!

but this one was!

 

I loved the solarium. There was a TV on with Disney Chanel (natch) and Disney movies, and a lot of people were in and out since it was raining outside. I took my journals and books down there and did some reading and writing.

Dad joined me around 10:30, since the last conference session  ended early that morning, and we headed over to the Yacht Club to look for souvenirs for us and for mom and the siblings. Here I got a few more pins and my pin trading book (there is a whole post coming about pin collecting, folks), and a WDW Hoodie I’d been desiring. 😉 Then we headed back to the Beach Club where I did some pin trading, we headed up to the room and dropped our purchases, and had lunch at Beaches and Cream. We really liked Beaches and Cream. I had the tomato bisque and the six cheese grilled cheese and Dad had the falafel. I also taught him the wonders of Chocolate Diet Coke. (Trust me. It’s awesome.)

We went to the Solarium for a bit and then it stopped raining! So we could swim! Yay! I as especially keen to show Dad the whirpool I’d discovered inside Stormalong Bay.

whirpool lurking

whirpool lurking

It totally took me by surprise the first time I ended up inside, unawares! But it was a lot of fun. Really, everything about that pool was fun. We also conquered the lazy river although Dad wanted it to be faster (Dad. It’s a lazy river, I tell him…)….

Dinner was–where else?–Beaches and Cream.

We had an awesome waiter from Ohio and sat at the counter next to a dad and his three boys from Dublin.

My favorite photo from the trip.

My favorite photo from the trip.

 

(That sundae is a Milky Way Sundae. It’s really, really good.)

After dinner we headed over to the Boardwalk where–what else?–it started to rain. We bought a Mickey umbrella. And some more pins. 🙂

We ended our last full Day in Orlando with another viewing of the EPCOT fireworks show from our balcony.

 

 

Disney Journal No. 7: EPCOT!

or: Apres moi, le deluge–Louis XV

(That’ll make sense in a minute. Trust me.)

So Wednesday was the last full conference day for dad, so we headed to EPCOT (which was, not kidding, right next door to our hotel) around 3:50. A fellow Ohioan (a woman from Dayton) was our ticket taker (although they really are no “ticket takers”, anymore. It’s all electronic: you hold your card over the Mickey Mouse head and it lights up when it’s accepted, then you put your finger on a scanner so that no one else can use your ticket if you lose it. ONLY YOU. This is more helpful for multi-day passes, not so much for us, because once we were in, we weren’t using those particular tickets again. The tickets are like credit cards–plastic, about that size, with Disney characters on them.)

I wanted to see the World Showcase first, because that’s the part I was most interested in. As we came in, the UK Pavilion was to our left, so we headed there first.

Mary Poppins in the UK Pavilion

Mary Poppins in the UK Pavilion

UK Pavilion

UK Pavilion

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Rose and Crown pub

Rose and Crown pub

The one place I really wanted to go? Here.

Twinings!! AKA Jane Austen's tea.

Twinings!! AKA Jane Austen’s tea.

I love tea, especially Twinings, and I did love it before I found out it was what Jane drank (there are references in her letters to trips to Twining’s in London for tea). The store is technically called “The Tea Caddy”, but I just called it the Twinings Place. 🙂 Here I bought a tin of Coronation Tea and a cookbook called Eating Royally, which was written by Princess Diana’s former chef. He also cooked for the Queen and the rest of the royal family. (And yes, the book has Prince William and Duchess Catherine’s wedding cake in it.)

Remember the deluge part? YEah. This is where it started.

It was a true deluge. Pouring, pouring rain. Fortunately Dad had brought out Disney ponchos, so some of us was dry (not my feet. Oh, so totally, not my feet.). We tried waiting it out in The Tea Caddy but eventually decided to soldier on to France.

La Belle France

La Belle France

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Even in the rain, France is gorgeous. We decided to take shelter in their theater and watch the film Impressions de France, which was truly amazing. I’m sort of glad for the rain because otherwise I don’t know if we would have done this! I highly recommend it.

Impressions de France theater

Impressions de France theater

Le chefs de France

Le chefs de France

I loved these pillars in France

I loved these pillars in France

French fountains. C'est magnifique!

French fountains. C’est magnifique!

c'est le mieux

c’est le mieux

After the video, we continued our trek around the World Showcase. Our end point would be Mexico on the other side of the lagoon. We had dinner reservations for 6:30 at La Hacienda San Angel. From point to point, the World Showcase is a mile long, so we were definitely going to get some walking in.

Norway: A stave

Norway: A stave

Vikings!

Vikings!

Norway

Norway

Germany shops

Germany shops

Werther's shop display in Germany

Werther’s shop display in Germany

The popcorn we bought here was amazing–covered in Werther’s caramel and dark chocolate. Holy. Moly.

delicious

delicious

anything with Dopey on it, I love.

anything with Dopey on it, I love.

German glass art

German glass art

"A symbol of thy royalty" (name that movie)

“A symbol of thy royalty” (name that movie)

Germany pavilion

Germany pavilion

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Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest!

We reached Mexico earlier than we planned, and fortunately, they took us early!

View from La Hacienda

View from La Hacienda

Love those lamps

Love those lamps

celebratory dessert

celebratory dessert

La Hacienda dining room

La Hacienda dining room

We both ordered the fish tacos, and I had a wonderful rose margarita, which came topped with actual rose petals and was rimmed in Hyacinth flavored sea salt. It was like drinking the best perfume. I loved it. Dad, not so much. (I know a took a picture….it’s hiding somewhere. I’ll try to post it at some point.) And yes, even without the button, we got a celebratory dessert, because Dad told our waitress, Fatima (from Mexico City) about our celebration. You can see that above. It’s AMAZING.

Something strange happened here–two parties were seated, one after the other, and both got up and left before they even ordered anything! And the first couple had ADR, as seen by their print out that were were carrying in the restaurant. Weirdest thing I’d ever seen. Who does that?

Fortified by dinner and a strong cocktail (well, on my part) we went back around the showcase. It had stopped raining, thankfully. (This is when I took most of my pictures.)

At Snow White's wishing well in Germany

At Snow White’s wishing well in Germany

China

China

In Italy, I bought a necklace with Venetian glass pieces.

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Fountains in Morocco

Fountains in Morocco

Bella Italia

Bella Italia

At this point, we had seen all we wanted to see and it was about 8:30ish. Our feet were not super happy with us, so we decided to head back to the hotel and be back in our room so we could see the fireworks by 9:00. We made one stop on the way out so I could buy a t-shirt for my friend Mary.

Originally bought at Bonjour Village in the Magic Kingdom, I found one at Epcot for a friend back home.

Originally bought at Bonjour Village in the Magic Kingdom, I found one at Epcot for a friend back home.

Disney Journal No. 6, Magic Kingdom continued

OK, so I’ve set the stage for the Magic Kingdom.

Now it’s time to tell stories.

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OK, first, note the button on my shirt. That’s the “I’m Celebrating” button. It’s important.

The entrance to Bonjour! Village Gifts

The entrance to Bonjour! Village Gifts

So I had some time, after riding rides and eating in the Tavern, and I began my souvenir shopping with Bonjour! village gifts above. This store is basically all Beauty and the Beast all the time, and they have some high-level souvenirs here, including original artwork that is priced in the three figures. But they also have fun t-shirts and other items. So I selected a few things and headed to the check out.

A guy about 23-24 checked me out and noticed my button. He asked what I was celebrating. I briefly said lung transplant, eight years ago. Most people if you give them this they’re flabbergasted enough; they don’t need superflous detail. Well this guy knew what I was talking about.

“Single or double?”

“Double.”

“Where?”

“Columbus.”

(Clearly, by this point I knew I was dealing with someone who was familiar with transplant.)

Kit (the guy) said that he had just had his double lung transplant–eight months ago.

I mean, what the heck, right? He’s from a small town in Michigan. So we talked about that for awhile. He was really nice and super-sweet, evening giving me some Beauty and the Beast stickers gratis. It was a real pleasure to meet him and get to talk to him!

After this I headed over to storybook circus, where I bought my brother and his girlfriend small gifts, as well as purchased TWO dinglehoppers. (They are excellent hairbrushes, by the by, with soft rubber bristles, so they wouldn’t hurt a baby or a little girl. Or a big girl, for that matter!)

By that time, it was time to meet Dad back at Gaston’s.

In the big chair!

In the big chair!

He also had LeFou’s brew and we then got in line for the Little Mermaid ride.

Little Mermaid queue

Little Mermaid queue

queue theming

queue theming

A little high-tech seek and find in the line

A little high-tech seek and find in the line

Scuttle!

Scuttle!

Boarding the ride: It's like the Haunted Mansion, except with Clam shells.

Boarding the ride: It’s like the Haunted Mansion, except with Clam shells.

Mambo! :)

Mambo! 🙂

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Yikes

Yikes

double Yikes

double Yikes

KISS THE GIRL!

KISS THE GIRL!

Ariel gets her voice back

Ariel gets her voice back

"how much I'm going to miss her."

“how much I’m going to miss her.”

happy endings

happy endings

We had a lot of fun on this one. Since this is one of my favorite movies, I really enjoyed it. The queue moved fast, too, since this is a constantly loading ride.

Afterwards I introduced Dad to the wonders of Philharmagic.

Then, then it was time for Be Our Guest. I was so looking forward to this dinner.

We checked in and they saw my button, and again, asked what we were celebrating. I gave them the cliffs notes version. They were all duly flabbergasted and noted it on our reservation slip, which is conveyed electronically to the restaurant and the waitress.

Once our buzzer went off, we went to the castle doors at the other end of a gargoyle-adorned bridge. And then, we got into the dining room.

Outside Be Our Guest

Outside Be Our Guest

Dad and the gargoyle

Dad and the gargoyle

Mosaic inside the castle

Mosaic inside the castle

The ball room

The ball room

rose napkins

rose napkins

the chandeliers

the chandeliers

The theming in this place is incredible. It really is the movie brought to life. The Beast also poses for photos in the library, and comes out into the restaurant.

Here’s what we ate:

dessert, chocolate cream puff

dessert, chocolate cream puff

Dad's ratatouille and quinoa

Dad’s ratatouille and quinoa

my meal: pork chop with mac and cheese and veggies

my meal: pork chop with mac and cheese and veggies

 

Let me tell you, the food was exquisite. I loved my pork chop and the au jus sauce that came with it. The veggies were perfect. I didn’t get much of the mac and cheese because as you can see, it’s a BIG PORK CHOP.

We ordered dessert, too. And then the best part of the meal came.

Ladies and Gentlemen: The grey stuff.

THE GREY STUFF

THE GREY STUFF

People. This was exquisite.

The Grey Stuff isn’t on the menu. You only get it if you’re celebrating something. Those are edible pearls on the top. And the “try the grey stuff”? ALSO EDIBLE. It’s like chocolate gloss.

The grey stuff is cookies and cream panna cotta. It’s amazing. I mean, I was in food heaven. Life fulfillment, I’m telling you.

So after that, I got my picture taken with the Beast (that’s coming later, sorry!) and sadly, we were done with dinner.

The talking knights

The talking knights

gregorian chant in the library. Just too cool.

gregorian chant in the library. Just too cool.

"Lady and the Unicorn" tapestry in the castle foyer.

“Lady and the Unicorn” tapestry in the castle foyer.

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And once we got outside, it was POURING.

So we ran to Fantasyland proper and bought ponchos, then rode Haunted Mansion. By then it was nearing 10, so we, not being fireworks people and not being ones to stand in monsoon, headed for the buses and went back to the Beach Club.

As Maleficient said, it was a “Most gratifying day.”