Archive for the ‘Orlando Theme Parks’ Category

Shoutout to the Man I LOVE!

Here’s a quick shout out to my husband, Tom.  This past weekend he took me to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival. I had the opportunity to go last year with my sister and kids and we had so much fun. I wanted to share that with him, but I also knew it wasn’t really his cup of tea (he’s more of a coffee drinker).

Let me count the ways on why he wouldn’t enjoy it as much as me:

1. You have to wait in line to get food.

2. You have to eat standing up (if you are lucky to get a table- HOLD ON TO IT ALL NIGHT)

3. You and your closest 1 million friends all want to be at the Ireland kiosk at the same time.

4. You need a second mortgage to drink as much beer and wine as you want to wash away numbers 1-3.

But above all, he loves me and he took me (sans kids) so we could go enjoy ourselves and because he knew I wanted to go to the festival! What a great husband and I love him lots!

Orlando Staycation Part 2: Dining

Hopefully you read Part 1 of my Orlando Staycation series. If not, I’ll catch you up real fast.

This summer we decided to do a staycation at Walt Disney World for my daughters 9th birthday. We stayed 5 days 4 nights at Buena Vista Palace, a resort across the street from Downtown Disney.

In this blog, I’ll be talking about all our dining experiences from eating at the hotel, room service, Downtown Disney restaurants and eating at the theme parks.

Now with two kids, I tend to overpack. For this trip we went out and bought some snacks and drinks for the hotel room. Publix had some buy one get one free deals so we took full advantage of that. Here is our little grocery list of items we took to the hotel:
– Water bottles
– Little soda cans (Sprite zero and coke zero)
– Juice boxes
– Little muffins
– Oranges
– Doritos and cool ranch
– Granola bars
– yogurts

The hotel had a little fridge in there. I figured if we could at least have breakfast BEFORE we went to the parks that would save some money.

When we checked in on Wednesday, we had planned on going to Magic Kingdom and eating dinner there. Each of their restaurants have some kind of theme and offer different menu items. There is a pizza restaurant called Pinocchio’s Village Haus that overlooks the guests getting on the Its A Small World ride. We like going there because they have pasta, pizza and salads.

Since we weren’t leaving to go to Magic Kingdom until 6:30 we all had a snack in our room knowing we weren’t going to eat until later. Once we got to the park the girls decided they wanted to do Pirates of the Caribbean and Thunder Mountain Railroad. Both waits were not too long when we started, however, Pirates had a malfunction and we ended up waiting about 20 minutes in line longer than the estimated wait time of 20 minutes. Thunder Mountain Railroad wait was 30 minutes (that’s the least we have seen in forever), however, they got a giant crowd of Fast Passers and our line leader let them all go through instead of doing half and half. We ended up waiting an hour to get on that ride.

With that said, by the time we figured it was time for dinner (around 8:45) we were stuck in Frontier Land. Note to everyone out there, when that Parade starts wherever you are is pretty much where you will be until it is over. The parade started at 9. There was one place in Frontier land but my little picky eaters did not want to eat there. So we figured we would wait it out until we go to Pinocchio’s Village.

Once the parade was over we hiked it over there only to find that the restaurant closed at 9pm. Most of the restaurants inside the park close at 9pm and most of the carts are already broken down.  Some sit down restaurants serve until the park closes but you can’t get in there unless you have a reservation. There were some quick service places open on Main Street, however, everyone in the park that was hungry at that time was there and the line was so ridiculous.

We decided to head back to the hotel and either get room service or see if the Kooks Family Sports Bar was still open.  Once we got back, we looked at the room service menu. They had a summer special that was 2 medium 2 topping pizzas, with drinks for $19.99. We decided to do that. Ordering in the room was fast and easy and by 11:10pm we had our dinner. Needless to say there was not much left of those pizzas.

Because of the dining disaster on Wednesday night, I wanted to make sure that we had plenty of time to eat on Thursday. The original plan was to go to Hollywood Studios and have lunch there and then have an early dinner at the T-Rex cafe at Downtown Disney and then see the fireworks at Epcot. Most of that happened except the fireworks. Weather was horrible :(

We all ordered some chicken nuggets from the BackLot Express, which is located right next to Star Tours. I made the girls eat around 11:15 BEFORE the lunch rush and since we were planning on eating dinner early. The food was OK, can’t expect much from chicken tenders.

For dinner that night we went to the T-Rex restaurant in Downtown Disney.  That was a fun experience. If you’ve ever been to a Rainforest Cafe’ it is owned by the same company and almost the same concept except with Dinosaurs. We were sat in the Ocean room and had several aquariums within our view.  Every 20 minutes they have a meteor shower where the thunder rumbles, meteors start falling and the lights start to flicker. The dinosaurs come to life and roar and growl.  The food can be pricey so if you are staying at a Downtown Disney hotel, check the book they give you at Check-in. Most times they will have coupons in there. We had a 15% off coupon that we used.  Kaili had Macaroni and cheese, Malia had pasta alfredo and I had a cheeseburger and a Sam Adams Oktoberfest! Our dinner was very good and a great experience.

For Friday evening, We had decided to celebrate Malia’s birthday. Since she loves STEAK and we happened to have a steak restaurant in our hotel, we made reservations there. Its called the Outback (but is not the chain restaurant). My husband and I have had dinner there several times and haven’t had a bad experience…yet.  Remember to check your coupons if you are staying on property or close by. Even though we had 1 free kids meals, I also had a coupon for 15% off the entire bill. We figured the 15% off would outweigh the free $8.99 kids meal, so we used that coupon.  For appetizer, we had sizzling bacon with root beer glaze. It was good, the cut of bacon was a lot bigger than I thought it would be.  Malia had a kids portion of prime rib, I had the prime rib and my husband had a bone in ribeye.  His ribeye was very chewy and my prime rib was over cooked and very dry. Again, this was the first time we were not happy with our meal. Most of the time they have been spot on!

Saturday we hit the parks early, first stopping at Hollywood Studios and then onward to Animal Kingdom.We felt we should eat lunch early before the real lunch crowd. So before we got too far into Animal Kingdom we stopped for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe.  It’s very consistent and everything was great! Tom and I both had salads and Malia had a cheeseburger. Can’t screw those up too much :)

For dinner, we didn’t really know what we wanted to do. We got back to the hotel around 4:30 with the intention of going to the pool but it started to storm.  When we decided that it was Saturday night and would be crazy, we got ready for dinner. Since it was still drizzling we decided to use our hotel coupon for the Kooks Family Sports Bar. This place is fun. They have TV’s set up all around the restaurant with high tops, lounge chairs and bar stools. Upstairs they have a Wii and X Box setup for FREE play. There is also darts, Foosball, air hockey and several other arcade games.  We found a spot and got a couple of drinks and looked at the menu. As the name of the restaurant says it was all bar food. I wasn’t too interested in eating that for dinner so we decided to get a few appetizers now and then walk to Downtown Disney for dinner later (hoping the mad dinner rush was gone).  We got some chicken tenders and a triple play; wings, mozzarella sticks and jalapeno poppers.  It was good and filled us up.

For our actual dinner we ended up ordering some late night pizza back in our room since no one was hungry for dinner after walking around Downtown Disney.  Room service is great though, and you don’t have to go anywhere! We found Harry Potter on TV and ate some Pizza. Malia said it was a perfect ending to her Maliapalooza!

Orlando Staycation Part 1: The Hotel

Recently we became tourists in our own town of Orlando. If you have read some of my previous posts you will notice that 1. We have season passes to Walt Disney World and 2. We recently celebrated not one but TWO aplooza’s.

For Maliapalooza she decided she wanted to do a weekend at Disney. Since it takes a small mortgage to stay on property at Disney, we always stay at a hotel in Lake Buena Vista right across the street from Downtown Disney, called the Buena Vista Palace. Its a nice hotel and close to all the attractions and most importantly very reasonably priced. Our room rate was $119 for a Downtown Disney view. You can pay just $10 more and get what they call a Fireworks View. We have stayed there before and at 9 o’clock on the dot you can see fireworks from Epcot AND the Magic Kingdom. It is really cool. I decided not to get that room this time since one of our objectives was to see the fireworks actually at the park. So I figured we wouldn’t even be in the room at that time, why spend the extra $10.

Our trip was to be for Friday and Saturday night, however, upon research with prices, Buena Vista Palace was offering a summer special. If you stayed 3 consecutive nights you would get the 4th night FREE. I had used a similar program for one of their sister hotels in Sanibel and it was a very reasonable deal. With this special the kids ate free at all the hotel restaurants plus you got 20% off any services at the spa. I will talk more about our dining in Part 2.

I decided this would be a nice little time away from home. So I booked the four night stay. We decided that the girls and I would head out on Wednesday and stay until Friday. On Friday we would trade daddy for Kaili and start Maliapalooza.

Upon arriving at the hotel I decided to do the Valet parking. The hotel area is really big and I knew that the girls and I would be coming back late from the theme parks. I didn’t want us to be walking across the parking lots alone that late so that is why I chose to do the Valet Parking. They were really nice and considerate there. Once we got there I told them that we after we checked in we would be leaving to go to the park, so they said they would keep my car up front. When I came right out the gentleman walked me right to my car and handed me the keys.

***Sidenote- The hotel does offer shuttle service to the theme parks, HOWEVER, the shuttle picks up and drops off at ALL of the Lake Buena Vista hotels causing the trip to be longer than expected. Since we have the season passes we get free parking at the theme parks, so it makes more sense for us to drive than to take the shuttle.

Our room was located on the 21st floor and we could overlook all of Downtown disney and the pool! It was so cool to see Downtown Disney and how small it all really looked.

One of the favorite things that my kids liked was the pool. They had two plus a kiddie pool. At the time of our stay one of the pools was closed, but that didn’t stop us from having a good time. The pool we were in, was so big. It had a waterfall and part of the pool was under cover. The kids thought that was a great feature.

All in all the hotel was great and we had a great time. We will definitely be planning another trip there soon.

Stayed tuned for Part 2 of my Orlando Staycation trip: Eating out.

Maliapalooza 2012

Yes, I understand that I just wrote about Kailipalooza but when you have two girls birthdays within a few weeks apart, we tend to have alot of paloozing around. I know what you are thinking……

So I may have mentioned before that since all of our birthdays are in the summer we only really have family parties. We try to KISS it (keep it simple stupid).  In years past, we spent Maliapalooza going to Kobe with her and her bestest 5 friends and they enjoy a nice dinner and show. However, this year Malia decided that she would like to ride all the roller coasters at Disney WITHOUT her little sister (we have season passes). We all talked and decided that we would like to stay a weekend out on that side of town.

Since staying in a Disney resort causes you to take another mortgage on your house, we tend to stay off property in the Lake Buena vista area.  Most of these hotels offer a shuttle service the parks so you can still get around Disney.

The hotel that we frequent was offering a summer stay special that would give you the 4th night free if you stayed 3 consecutive nights. We decided that myself and the girls would go on Wednesday and then we would trade daddy for Kaili on Friday. (Daddy had some appointments on Thursday and Friday and Kaili was staying with her Aunty during the birthday weekend). 

There truly isn’t anything like visiting a Disney park in August. Its crowded, hot and just plain unbearable, but we did it.. for Malia.  On Wednesday after we checked in we hit up Magic Kingdom.  We were able to do Pirates of the Caribbean and then Thunder Mountain Railroad.  This was Kaili’s first time on Thunder Mountain Railroad and our first time since they re-vamped it. WOOOHOO it was crazy, but we all had fun.

Thursday we hit up Hollywood studios and did several rides there. We left early afternoon to go and get refreshed at the hotel pool. We decided to head across the street to Downtown Disney for dinner and ended up at the T-Rex. It was alot of fun!

Friday we came back home and visited with our puppy and got daddy and took Kaili to grandmas.  We went back to the hotel and decided to have an early dinner. Since Malia is a BIG fan of steak we made reservations at the hotel’s steak restaurant. It was good and Malia enjoyed her kids prime rib.

After dinner, she convinced us to go to Magic Kingdom (again) for more roller coasters.  Our goal was Space Mountain but the wait is NEVER under 75 minutes :(  Guess, we will wait until the busy season is over! We did however do Barnstormer, Tea Cups and Thunder Mountain Railroad.  We got back to the hotel a little late but it was a much easier drive than driving all the way home!

Saturday was a big day (and her actual birthday)! We started at Hollywood Studios were we went straight to Tower of Terror. It was hers and mine first time on it and we weren’t sure what to expect. I thought it was a blast! She was a little shaken up but finally admitted she liked it :)  After that we hit up Star Tours.

We walked around for a little bit and then decided there wasn’t any other major “fun” rides. Her daddy was trying to convince her to do the Rock n Roller coaster but she is saying she isn’t’ ready for an upside down roller coaster…. I’ll eventually convince her LOL

Our next stop was Animal Kingdom where we ate lunch at the Rainforest Cafe.  Then we went straight to Mt Everest, her most favorite ride EVER! The wait was only 30 minutes so we went for it (I know ONLY 30 minutes, but again this one is usually over 45!). It, of course, was so AWESOME! It truly is one of the best roller coasters I have ever been one.  Since the wait had gone up to 60 minutes, we decided to get Fast Passes to come back and in the meantime we would go to Kali River Rapids. We have never been on that ride. (Kaili has ONLY been able to go on most of these rides. She just passed the 40in mark. Had she been with us, she could have done it, but she wasn’t). We mostly stayed away from this ride because you get wet. Well wet is an understatement, WE GOT SOAKED! It was fun but we were literally dripping with water as we walked.  We figured it wouldn’t be so bad because our ‘wet’ drive to the hotel was a lot shorter than a ‘wet’ drive home.

When we finished it was just in time for our Fast Pass at Mt Everest! I love the Fast Pass! We were able to walk right on. We hoped the ride was dry us but nope we were too darn wet! After that we went on Dinosaur and well that will just scare anyone, even me!

Daddy decided to go back to the hotel so we could jump in the pool! Fortunately, unfortunately, as soon as we got to the hotel it started storming; thundering and lightning. We chilled out for awhile and then hit the Family sports bar at the hotel (it was still raining out). We all got some appetizers and played air hockey! It was the perfect end to Malia’s birthday!

Of course, just like her sister she is planning her next birthday. Double Digits, she says, has to be a BIG ONE! So stay tuned for Maliapalooza 2013 :)

Kailipalooza 2012

So this year Kaili turned 4! Oh what to do for her birthday. We toyed with every idea under the sun; princess party, Chuck E Cheese party, bowling, etc. We finally decided to have another trip to Bibbity Bobbity Boutique at Walt Disney World. So we made our reservations for July 28th at the Downtown Disney store.

Her birthday is actually on July 25th so we had almost a week of celebrating. We started our day with lunch at Jimmy Johns where they treated her like a PRINCESS! When they found out we were celebrating her birthday, they gave us her sub for FREE, gave her a FREE cookie and had some of their employees come out and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to her. She absolutely LOVED it!

Fast forward to Saturday and we planned a whole day at Disney all around her Bibbity Bobbity Boutique “spa” appointment.  First we started out by going to Animal Kingdom and went through the safari.  We got to see her favorite animal, the giraffe! After that we took our party to Downtown Disney to the World of Disney store where the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique is.  She was all dressed up in her Cinderella Wedding dress outfit that we got her for her birthday.  She was so excited to be made up as the real princess.

Our Fairy Godmother at Bibbity Bobbity Boutique was just absolutely wonderful! She talked to Kaili all about Jake and Pirates and all of her favorite princesses.  She took her time and gave Kaili a GREAT makeover. Kaili loved it and was just so thrilled with the way she looked! We had finished our makeover just in time for the Princess Parade through the Marketplace at Downtown Disney. We got a special invitation for Kaili to be in the parade. It started at the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique and all the girls who had makeovers or who just wanted to be a princess was invited to walk in the parade.

They started at the World of Disney and then walked to the carousel, where they were given a ride on the horses. There was about 7 girls total and they were taught how to wave like Princesses. All the stores had representatives that came out and cheered the Princesses on as they walked. It was a truly great experience.

After her makeover we went to Epcot where we rode Finding Nemo and had her birthday dinner at The Coral Reef restaurant.  The restaurant was ok, I would only give it like 3 out of 5 stars.  It seemed like there wasn’t a whole lot on the menu and even then the food came out cold and wasn’t too good. But all in all we had another great Kailipalooza! In true Kaili form she is already planning her next ‘dirbday’!

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