Disney Dining Plan

I’ve had a few people ask me about the dining plan, and my thoughts on it. We actually used the regular plan on our first trip to Walt Disney World, but it took a lot of research for us to make it worthwhile.

Let’s back up for a second – the dining plan is something Disney offers to guests staying in a Disney-owned resort. There are a number of different plans:

  1. The Quick Service Dining Plan – this gives each person on the plan an allotment of 2 quick service meals per day,  2 snacks per day and a refillable drink mug valid for the duration of your stay (can only be refilled at Disney resorts, NOT theme parks). (2017 cost – $48/person/night of your stay)
  2. The Dining Plan – 1 table service and 1 quick service credit per person per night of your stay, 2 snacks/person/night plus the refillable mug (2017 cost – $69/person/night of your stay)
  3. The Deluxe Dining Plan – 3 meal allotments per person per night (can be used for quick service or table service meals), plus 2 snacks/person/night and the refillable mug (2017 cost – $106/person/night of your stay)

Each quick service meal includes one entree and one non-alcoholic drink, while a table service meal credit includes one entree, one non-alcoholic drink and one dessert. The deluxe plan also includes an appetizer with each table service credit. (Worth noting – when we used the regular dining plan in January 2016, the quick service credit included a dessert as well, but there was only 1 snack credit/person/night).

When we used the regular plan in 2016, I tracked what the cost of each of our meal credits would have cost if paying out of pocket. We paid ~$60/each for each night for the dining plan, so ~$840 in total for our 7 night stay. We had a total of 14 table service credits, 14 quick service credits and 14 snack credits between the two of us. The total value of the snack credits we redeemed was $68.91, $280.15 for quick serve credits and $558.52 on table service credits – which gives a total of $907.58. Based on this math, we ended up saving over $67.

So, even though it is possible to come out ahead, there are a few reasons why I probably won’t use the dining plan again:

  • The plan did not fit with our style of eating. I did not like being restricted to 1 sit-down meal each day and 1 counter-service meal per day. On our 2017 trip, we ate at mainly table service restaurants and it made me much happier!
  • The plan actually gives you too much food! It’s a rare occasion when I actually order dessert at a restaurant, and I wasn’t a fan of eating dessert after every single meal.
  • To go with the point above, I don’t always want an entree. Sometimes I just want to order an appetizer or two and call it my meal.
  • In order to come out ahead, we found ourselves always trying to order the most expensive item on the menu, even if it wasn’t exactly what we wanted to eat. We were too focused on not losing money on the dining plan to fully enjoy all of our meals.

That said, there are still lots of people who swear by using a dining plan on every trip. One of the most common reasons why is that it’s prepaid – by paying for the plan ahead of time, you only need to worry about paying for gratuities and alcohol out of pocket once your’re there.

Cafe Orleans – January 27, 2017

After listening to some animatronic birds sing to us, it was time to go check in for our lunch reservation. We had a 1pm reservation at Cafe Orleans, and the place was insanely busy when we got over there. We actually had to stand in a line just to check-in for our reservation, and there were a few people in the line who did not have a reservation, so they seemed to be pretty angry when they were informed they would not be able to get in that afternoon. Ugh, people just make a reservation!

We had a bit of a wait, so we went exploring a bit so we could find this door! Maybe one day we’ll actually get to enter the door…

Anyways, it was almost 1:30 before we were led to our table, a 4-top right by the main pathway (a perfect location for people watching!). As always, we had looked at the menu online before our trip, so we had a pretty good idea of exactly what we wanted to order.

We both started with a mint julep , $3.49 (and since we were inside the Disneyland park, these were virgin due to it being a dry park (the only place to buy alcohol in that park is inside Club 33).

These were so good, and they were bottomless! I think I drank about 4 of them while we were there…

For my meal, I decided to skip an entree and just order two appetizers. First up was the Pommes Frites – traditional French Fried Potatoes tossed with Parmesan, Garlic, and Parsley served with Cajun Spice Remoulade, $7.

I tried that cajun remoulade dip it came with, but I wasn’t a fan at all. However, it was not required – these fries were amazing and had so much flavour without it. Shoestring fries are also my favourite. Yum!

My other choice was a strange one – I ordered their French Onion Soup – sauteed sweet-onion medley in a traditional broth with croutons and melted gruyere $10.

Why I ordered this is beyond me – I don’t even like onions. I’ve ate french onion soup in the past, but I mainly just sip the broth and eat the cheese off the top. It’s not something I have ever ordered at a restaurant though, and probably something I won’t order again. This was ok, but it was nothing compared to those fries!

Luke decided to order an actual entree, and went for the Chicken Muffuletta Sandwich – Cajun-spiced chicken breast, Black Forest ham, capicola, salami, provolone cheese, olive salad, and roasted red pepper mayonnaise on a sesame seed bun served with house-made seasoned chips. $21

Luke liked this, but said it was really nothing special (especially for the price). I stole a few of his chips – they were good, but again, nothing special.

Once we finished eating, our waitress came over with a Mickey-shaped beignet for Luke’s birthday! There was a lit candle in a pile of whipped cream with Mickey sprinkles and everything!

We had planned on buying some beignets on this trip at some point, so it was even better when it was free haha. I know they are typically sold in 3’s, but honestly the one was enough for us to share. It was good, but I might only be saying that because of how much icing sugar was on it…

The total cost for our meal was $41.74 after a 15% discount thanks to my annual pass. We actually made a reservation and came back here a few days later – those mint juleps were calling our names! You can read that review here.

 

January 5, 2017 – A 5k Run…I Mean Walk.

Our alarm went on this morning at some ungodly hour – I think Luke got up around 3am but I insisted on sleeping an extra half hour and didn’t get up until 3:30am (which is still gross). Luke always eats breakfast – like every single morning. I do not, I need to be fully awake and functioning for a few hours before I feel the need to eat anything – this is why I slept extra 🙂

Luke told me he ate some Frosted Flakes (which are apparently different in the States?) and an apple – both of which we had ordered from Garden Grocer.

Eventually, I dragged myself out of bed and put on my favourite pair of Lulu Lemon’s and a Nike shirt. But, it was also fairly cold out so I also put on my jacket. Luke and I went out and had to walk allll the way across the street to catch an internal bus (the bus stop was so close to our room, I LOVED it!). The internal shuttle dropped us off at the main building at Old Key West, where we boarded a runDisney bus to take us to the starting line.

The bus dropped us off at Epcot, and then you walk the 37,000km to the security line for the race before entering a large pre-race area. Once we reached this area, we realized we still had over an hour before the race even started, and we were in Corral D so we knew we’d be even longer than that.

Luke kept asking what I wanted to do, but all I wanted to do was sit on the ground and be a grumpypants. I don’t do well with early mornings, and I was not happy about being up. I took a grumpy-face selfie and posted it on my Instagram haha.

Initially, back when I signed up for the 5km, the plan was to be up to running intervals of 10 minutes at a time, then walking for 1 minute. That did not happen – last summer was a bit rough with my Crohn’s disease, and I ended up being switched to a new medication at the end of August. That worked great, so I started training with Luke in September. Then, in November, I started getting sick again (it’s when my psoriasis first appeared), and I ended up with double eye infections at one point, which lasted for weeks. So, no training for that month. I got back to it a little bit in December, but I wasn’t even doing 5 minutes at a time of running by the time we left for Florida (which is actually still impressive for me haha). So, even though I wasn’t where I wanted to be with running, and I was not happy about being up so early – I was still really excited about my first ever 5k!

I had to take some pictures of some of the screens to prove I was there:

Eventually, I was fully awake. We both went to use the lovely port-a-potties, Luke filled his armband waterbottle and then we headed off to our corral. When we signed up, we both put the same expected time, hoping we would be placed into the same corral, and it worked! We were both in corral D, which was fine by us.

In the past, they would start each corral in 10 minute intervals, but they decided to do things a little differently this year. They sectioned off each corral into smaller sections, and then had a new group of runners start every 2 minutes. This new method definitely sped things up – with the old method, corral D would not have started the race until 6:30am (Corral A – 6am, B – 6:10, C – 6:20, etc). According to the time stamp on my pictures, we received the “Go!” at 6:22am, so 8 minutes faster than it would have been in previous years.

The first stretch is boring, and goes around some Epcot parking lots. It was also still completely dark at this point, but the path is very well lit!

When we started, I was actually feeling pretty good, so we immediately started a slow jog. We actually didn’t have to go very far before we came upon the first character meet of the race – Thumper and Miss Bunny! (I didn’t know her name at the time, I had to google that). We joined the line, since it wasn’t too terrible, and it moved along quite well. RunDisney events now use normal Disney photopass, so you just have to make sure your bib number is clearly visible and then you can just link all your photos later. It was very easy, and we ended up with a lot of pictures throughout the race!

Just as the people in front of us were about to go up and get a picture, Thumper stepped away and went on break, so we only ended up with Miss Bunny.

After that, since we had been stopped and resting for 5-10 minutes, we started jogging again. I was surprised at how good I was feeling, I think I had a little adrenaline from the excitement of the race.

Before too long, we hit the Mile 1 marker (but I didn’t take pictures of any of those).  This was around the same time we were in the backstage area of Epcot, running underneath the Test Track tracks (from the speed part of the ride).

Soon enough, we were entering the World Showcase at Epcot! Right after entering, we noticed the Vikings were out in Norway so we stopped for another picture. This line was super short, and it only took a few minutes before we were continuing on our way.

Of course we had to stop for a selfie with Spaceship Earth in the background!

As we ran past Italy, we saw Minnie Mouse out for a character meet, but her line was huge! So we made the decision to skip that one. Somewhere around here, one of the race photographers snapped some pictures of me looking like I’m off in my own little world hahaha…

As we approached Morocco, Chip and Dale were out, and their line wasn’t terrible, so we stopped 🙂

How cute are their little outfits?!

The character meeting in Canada had a CRAZY long line, but we said screw it and waited in it. We were probably 25 minutes at least before we reached the front of the line, but I just had to meet Canadian Donald Duck!

I’ve never seen this character costume before, but I love it! Plaid jackets are pretty popular in my hometown, and I’ve owned a few myself so this was awesome.

After this, we left the World Showcase and ran out the International Gateway, where we hit mile #2. We then re-entered Epcot, running past the Seas With Nemo and Friends. At some point, we saw another character meet, this time for Goofy, but we decided to skip it and just keep going. I did slow down enough to snap a picture of Goofy’s outfit though 🙂

It was a pretty exciting moment to be running up to this:

Once you ran past Spaceship Earth, you leave the park where you hit mile #3, and the final stretch to the finish line. I was pretty gassed by this point, but I promised Luke I would run the last stretch with him, so I pushed through.

And then we were finished! We were both handed our race medals and a snack box.

And we stopped for a photopass picture with our medals 🙂

Here is a picture of the race map I found online:

Image result for rundisney 5k map 2017

And that was it, I was finished my first ever 5k! It was slow, since we did stop and wait in character lines, and I didn’t run as much as I originally wanted to, but I did it! I think we did end up running/jogging for about 60% of the race – so now I just have something to work towards beating on my next runDisney 5k!

 

‘Ohana – Supper – January 7, 2017

When we made our ADR’s, we decided on ‘Ohana for our non-park day, since it was the day Luke would be running the half marathon and we figured he would be hungry. Of course, the half marathon was cancelled but we still stuck with our initial plan of having a non-park day, and kept all of our planned meals the same.

‘Ohana is located at the Polynesian Resort, and is one of the most difficult ADR’s to secure, this place books up quickly. We booked this within minutes of our 180 day window opening up – highly recommended if you want to eat here.

After enjoying a few drinks at Trader Sam’s (click to read that review), we headed upstairs to check in for our ‘Ohana supper. I’ve read horror stories of people waiting an hour or more past their reservation before being seated, but we only had to wait maybe 5 minutes before being buzzed.

As a hostess led us to our table, she pointed out the fire pits where the meats are cooked, and then stopped to pick up a loaf of the pineapple coconut bread.

The only adjective I can give this is ok. You can definitely taste the pineapple, which gives this bread a bit of a sweet taste, but they don’t give you butter for it so it’s just dry bread. Not my thing, I ate a single little piece and that was enough. No worries though, I knew there was still more than enough food coming to fill me up!

For drinks, I kept it simple and had a glass of water and a Coke. Luke had the same.

They also brought us some warm towels, but I’m not fancy enough to even know what to do with those….

Next, we were brought out a salad, which I believe had a passion fruit vinaigrette on it. This was good, it was salad, but I didn’t plan on filling up on this. I believe Luke and I finished all of this though.

Next up was this giant platter of food:

This had stir-fry veggies, teriyaki noodles, pot stickers and honey coriander chicken wings. I’m not a huge fan of chicken wings, so I only ate one of those, but the veggies and noodles were amazing! The pot stickers were also really great!

While we were loading up our plates with food from this platter, they came around with the skewers of steak, chicken and shrimp. I don’t eat anything from the sea, but Luke tried a shrimp (despite the fact he has a mild shellfish allergy…). I took one piece of chicken, but I wasn’t a huge fan since it was thigh meat – I’m definitely a white meat only person when it comes to chicken. I knew the steak would not be cooked to my liking, so I asked our server if I could have some well-done pieces (they typically serve medium). A few minutes later, our server came back with steak they cooked extra long just for me 🙂

It was cooked perfectly well done, and was so tasty! At some point we were asked if we wanted more of anything from the platter with noodles, and we just asked for everything haha. I seriously loved those noodles! And it was nice to eat some vegetables, broccoli is one of my favourites.

Once we had finished stuffing our faces, it was time for dessert! And oh man, was I looking forward to this one! ‘Ohana bread pudding with banana foster caramel sauce – yum!

This is what it looks like when it first comes out:

And a close up of the sauce:

And after pouring that amazing sauce all over it:

This was seriously amazing. It’s also a HUGE serving, and we were barely able to put a dent into that thing. So, so, so good though!

This is a pricier meal, at $45/person but it is something I would not hesitate to do again – I’m hoping to add it to our plans for our next trip in 2018 🙂

 

 

 

Tusker House – Brunch – January 6, 2017

Tusker House is probably our favourite character meal on WDW property (no, we haven’t tried all of them, but of the ones we have tried – this wins hands down).

In 2016, we had made a reservation for 1pm, but for our 2017 trip we wanted to try and hit both breakfast and lunch so we made our reservation for 10:45.  I was also super sick the day we were there in 2016, so this was my chance to fully enjoy my meal here!

We arrived pretty much right on time, maybe a few minutes early, and only had to wait a few minutes before being escorted to our table.

Since this meal is a buffet, there’s no menu or choices to make – except how you’re going to load up your plate! I’ve mentioned before about not being a huge breakfast person, but this buffet had lots of non-breakfast options as well!

As soon as we were led to our table, we placed our drink order with our waiter – I don’t remember exactly what they called it there, but we both had the POG juice (passionfruit-orange-guava) – they might call it Jungle Juice there? We didn’t even wait for our drinks to arrive, we just hit the buffet so we could catch the breakfast offerings (Luke loves breakfast food!)

My first plate, starting at the top and going clockwise: tater tots and ketchup (fairly standard, deep fried deliciousness), some kind of omelet – ham and cheese maybe? (I don’t really remember now, but I know I didn’t like it – it was filled with gross onions haha), basmati rice with a curry chicken (this was great, not too spicy but lots of flavour!), a plantain – meh, ham – good, bacon – always good and a Mickey waffle – you just can’t walk past them!

Luke’s first plate, starting at the top and going clockwise:  a sausage patty (one of Luke’s fav breakfast meats), rice and curry chicken (same as the one I had up above), tater tots, a Mickey waffle, an egg, bacon, ham, salmon, a piece of cornbread and bobotie – which Luke LOVED. On the smaller plate is the banana bread pudding with vanilla sauce – omg, so delicious!

We also grabbed some biscuits and gravy to share. Bad idea, this was disgusting.

Once we had our first plates of food, and had started eating, the characters started coming around. First one to show up at our table was Donald 🙂

Next was Goofy!

Then Daisy:

The fourth character to show up at our table was the main mouse himself, Mickey. When I saw that he was getting close, I decided to Facetime my mom since she was in New Brunswick visiting my grandmother in the hospital. When Mickey reached me, the smile on my Nanny’s face was priceless, and she started waving to him and saying “Hi Mickey!”. The cast member in character that day was incredible, and as soon as he/she realized what I was doing, he started waving and blowing kisses to my grandmother. Luke did manage to snap a picture of me and Mickey on Facetime. This was such a simple thing, but I am so glad I did it – I lost my grandmother less than two months later, but I just have to remember the smile on her face that day and it makes me smile too 🙂

Luke had to get a picture with Mickey as well.

In between all the character visits, we did go back up for more food.

For my second plate, I didn’t want very much, but I wanted healthy – so I grabbed some green beans, some grapes, a square (that was awesome!), some pork, a cube of cheese, some carrots/corn and a small scoop of mashed potatoes with gravy. This plate looks pretty sad haha, but sometimes I just want fruit and veggies!

Luke  also got a second plate – more salmon, a pickle, more rice with curry chicken, I believe the next thing was a tofu dish, some desserts, more bobotie (sp?), pork with some kind of sauce (the downfall of writing these reviews months later haha) and some green beans.

Now that I think about it, the plates pictured above might have been our third servings, but it’s all I have pictures of.  Just now that we both left STUFFED! I love the food here, and the character interactions have always been fantastic.

I also need to give a shoutout to our waiter,  Lee. He was hilarious and kept cracking jokes with us – nothing too inappropriate, but things he probably would not have said if there were children at our table haha. He kept our table clear of dirty plates, and our glasses full of water and juice. He was one of the top two servers we encountered on this entire trip – I hope to see him again next year!

This meal is a bit pricey, at $45 per person, but it’s one that will continue to be at the top of our must-do list every time. We were there for at least an hour and a half, and we didn’t eat again until 7pm that night (like 8 hours later).  There are food options for everyone – if you want to be adventurous there are some great options, but fussy eaters will also have no trouble finding something on the buffet here as well.

Disneyland – January 27, 2017 – Part One

We had a fairly early wakeup this morning, but we were fine with it – it was our first full day in California! We woke up, got dressed and called an Uber to get us to Downtown Disney for our breakfast reservation. We arrived, went through security and headed to La Brea Bakery for our 8am reservation. That review can be found here.

We finished eating, and made the decision to enter Disney California Adventure Park first (both parks opened at 9am that day), so we hopped in line shortly before opening.

Once we scanned our tickets to enter the park, we headed straight for the Fastpass Kiosk for Radiator Springs Racers, along with half the population of California it seemed like. We got to the FP line and followed the snaking line to find the end – it was seriously insane! We got into line and stood still for about 5 minutes – the line didn’t move at all. We looked at each other, said screw it and decided to just head straight to the ride and wait in the standby line – it was barely 10 minutes past opening, how bad could the standby line be at that point?

When we arrived at Radiator Springs, the standby line had a wait time of 40 minutes posted – which isn’t terrible, We figure if we had have stayed in line just to get a Fastpass for it, we would have been at least half an hour. So, we got into line for our first ride of the trip! The actual standby time – only 28 minutes! Score!

This ride was great as always, I love that scene when you come around the corner and the waterfall is cascading down on your right hand side!

After exiting the ride, I snapped a picture of our on-ride photo – I knew our photos were included with my shiny new annual pass I had just purchased the day before, but I actually had no idea how it worked. Turns out I just had to enter the code shown on the preview screen into my app, and voila – our on-ride photos 🙂 This is the first time we’ve been to Disneyland that we’ve actually got our ride pictures, so I was pretty excited about it!

After exiting Radiator Springs, we had to stop to get a picture with Stanley 🙂

From there, we decided to stop at Luigi’s Casa del Tires, since it was not open on our first trip back in 2015, and we were strapped for time on our 2016 trip. The posted time was 5 minutes, but it actually ended up being over 15 minutes.

This ride was cute, but not something I need to do every time, and not something I’d wait more than 15-20 minutes for.

I also took a picture of our sneakers, since both of us were wearing our runDisney shoes on this day 🙂

Since Photopass was included with my annual pass, we stopped for a few pictures in Cars Land 🙂 The photographer there told me to pull up the Photopass barcode on my Disneyland app, then screen shot it and set it as my lock screen to make it super easy to use on our trip (and to save from opening the app every time we stopped for pictures – Disneyland was not offering free in-park Wi-Fi at this point).

By this point, it was 10:15 so we went and grabbed a Fastpass for Soarin’ (after falling in love with that ride on our trip to Florida a few weeks earlier). Our FP window opened at 10:55, so we had a bit of time to kill beforehand.

Luke decided to use that time to go pick up the DCA Starbucks “You Are Here” mug that he wanted, and thanks to my super-amazing annual pass we saved 20% on it.

There was a churro stand nearby, and you can’t go to Disneyland and NOT have a churro, so I bought one even though we had just ate breakfast 2 hours earlier. Sadly, no annual pass discounts on that 🙁 The churro was delicious though – I’d say they are better in the California parks than they are in the Florida parks.

By the time I finished my snack, we were in our window to go on Soarin’. It’s the exact same ride in DCA as it is at Epcot, but it’s so good! I love the ride building in California – an airplane hangar just makes so much sense!

After our trip around the world, we stopped at the little store across from Soarin’. Luke had brought his runDisney lanyard that he had purchased at the race Expo in Florida, but he needed to buy one of the little pouches to put his park ticket into – so he found a super cute Baymax one there.

I’m not into pin collecting or pin trading, but I had to buy this one since it was an annual Passholder exclusive haha.

I also picked up a Grape soda pin – I think I want to use it for our wedding somehow 🙂

At this point, we decided to park hop and head over to Disneyland. I love how close the two parks are, it makes hopping so easy and convenient!

We had checked the wait times on the app as we made our way over, so once we entered the park we headed to Critter Country and went on Winnie the Pooh.

After our journey through the Hundred Acre Wood, we went and hopped in line and met Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore – some of my favourites!

We stopped to grab a Fastpass for Indiana Jones (one of my favourite rides at Disneyland!) for a few hours later, and then went to the Enchanted Tiki Room.

I love the Enchanted Tiki Garden here! It’s so cute, and a great form of entertainment while you’re waiting to be let into the building for the show!

Next: Lunch and an uneventful afternoon

La Brea Bakery Cafe – January 27, 2017

On our first full day in California, we had made an 8am reservation at La Brea Bakery Cafe, located in Downtown Disney. We took an Uber to the park, and made it there about 2 minutes past 8. The restaurant was not very busy, and we were seated at a 4-top table outside right away. It was a bit of a cold morning, so we were right below a heater which was nice – the weather didn’t bother us too much but I could tell our waiter was freezing!

First things first: the menu:

For drinks, Luke ordered a coffee, fairly straight forward.

Luke decided to try something different for him, and ordered the Chorizo Frittata – potatoes, jack cheese, avocado, salsa fresca and cilantro with a side of mixed greens, $17

Luke describes this an omelet/pan-scrambler hybrid but with more eggs and less potato. He says it was nice and light, fluffy and flakey, and filled with flavour. He also loved the addition of the creamy avocado on top – according to him it added a nice little something extra.

The mixed green salad on the side was “whatever” (in Luke’s words haha) – there was nothing wrong with it, the greens were nice and fresh but the frittata was just that good. This was served with a balsamic vinaigrette .

If you’ve read any of my other trip reports, you’ll know I’m not a huge breakfast person, so I was really excited when I was informed I could order anything from the menu, not just the brunch options. I decided on the Grilled Three Cheese – a blend of three cheeses on garlic rubbed rustic bread served with a cup of our tomato bisque – $16.

This was so good! The bread was fresh – great bread can make or break a sandwich for me (Wonderbread will always get a big fat no from me!). The cheese blend was mild but creamy and delicious – I’m really fussy and prefer basic cheeses like mozzarella or cheddar so this was up my alley. The ratio of cheese to bread was pretty much perfect as well, which can be a major complaint of mine when it comes to grilled cheese (some places just over do-it – I like cheese, but there’s a fine balance haha).

And then there’s that soup – omg, so good! I love pretty much all tomato soup – and this was not even in the same league as a can of Campbell’s haha – I want to buy cans of La Brea tomato soup at the grocery store now!

The total of our meal was $36.37 – this includes a 10% discount thanks to my annual pass.

This is one place we plan on visiting again on our next Disneyland trip! Now I just want tomato soup…

Be Our Guest Breakfast – January 11, 2017

Luke here. Fallon asked if I wanted to ghost write any of her trip report. I said “nah that’s your thing” but the tone of her okay had some disappointment. I can’t have that. But since we’re talking disappointment, let’s use it a segueway to Be Our Guest Breakfast!

In 2016 we were on the Disney Dining Plan. As such, we had secured breakfast, lunch and dinner reservations at this most desired establishment. And for the most part those experiences were good. We had a very good supper, a solid lunch despite not being famished and most importantly – we learned how valuable a pre-park open breakfast reservation was.

Last year we were able to get photos in a mostly empty park, had pre-ordered our food and were able to secure a table in the coveted west wing and were able to ride Seven Dwarves Mine Train & Peter Pan’s Flight without fastpasses AND I was able to have 1.5 very mediocre coffees.

So the plan in 2017 was to repeat that as best we could. And we kinda did. With mixed results.

I’m not sure where Fallon is with her reports so this might be a spoiler of sorts. But after 5K race day we’d learned how easy it was to get from the Contemporary to Magic Kingdom. It’s less than a 10 minute walk. So on this day we used that knowledge to make our 8AM reservation. We called an Uber and told the guy at the Contemporary gate we were heading to an ADR. It’s important to phrase it that way because saying “we have an 8AM at Be Our Guest and frankly don’t want to get dropped off at the TTC” prolly doesn’t work. Honesty aside.

So we walked to MK from the Contempo and slipped through the much shorter resort side security checkpoint. So far so good. Then things started going not as planned…

I forgot the wallet. With all the dollars. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU…

Most people just shake this kinda stuff off. Like the whole “Oops. People make mistakes.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

That’s… not really my style. I’m more of a seethe and beat yourself up and never cut myself a break kind of guy. One of the things I love about myself and find super easy to change. Yup. Totes magotes.

…UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU…

So while I was being super easy on myself, we experienced the new pre park open procedure. The railroad was down for refurbishment so now anyone showing up for rope drop is ushered into Main Street USA and cut off at the square if the don’t have a reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table, Crystal Palace or Be Our Guest. They can get a breakfast hot dog though. Which is 90% likely a better choice than actually eating the food at BOG…

…UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU…

We show our ADR confirmation number at the checkpoints and meander our way though MK. No more empty park photos because of everyone congregating for the opening show. C’est la vie. A downer, sure. But them’s the breaks.

We get to the restaurant and check in.

We knew to pre-order for our food though. Be Our Guest is quick serve at Breakfast and Lunch (the best QS credit use on the DDP based on pricing too) so people go to these kiosks to place their order. That’s cool. But dreadfully slow if you don’t know what you’re doing. We know the skinny though so we had pre-ordered our food. When you do this you bypass the kiosks and head right to the register to pay. It saves you ~10-20 minutes really. And that’s time you can use to bask in the warming and welcoming glow of Nicholas Cage as he ushers you into the building.

…UUUUCK!!!! I’ve got like 70 bucks in my wallet for all day at Magic Kingdom. It’ll have to do since Fallon’s is at the hotel (with ducats galore) because I forgot to pack it. I suck. My muck up is AMEX’s gain. We pay and head to the West Wing.

If we hadn’t pre-ordered there’s no chance outside of dumb luck we’d be able to snag a spot here. The west wing is the most coveted section of Be Our Guest and it is super cool. There’s the torn portrait of the beast, the rose losing its petals and a pretty good Coca-Cola fountain too.

Be Our Guest is kinda neat. You pay for your food and get this rose that submits a radio frequency so servers can know to bring your order to your location. While we sat, Fallon headed to the commode because she knows that being in the bathroom = your food showing up while you make #1 or 2..

You snagged a Be Our Guest reservation. Congratulations! These are hard to come by (Hack tip: if you can’t get a reservation for 2 – look for reservations for 1 within a shorter time frame at breakfast or lunch because it’s a quick serve at that time and you can just pay separately and show up at the same time since it’s general seating inside anyhow). Always always always pre-order your food. It save so much time. And you can pre-order up to 30 days in advance.

Our reservation was for 8. We had our food by 8:08 or so. We’d pre-ordered Gaston’s somethingorother – it’s bacon & eggs. And a grey stuff cupcake. And a coffee.

Here are the reasons to go to Be Our Guest for breakfast:

  1. Impeccable theming (see below)
  2. Prime location in fantasyland for post-meal rides
  3. They have that hand soap in the washroom that smells good
  4. Solid use of QS credit
  5. uh…
  6. the food

In 2016 our food was decent. Fallon had the Cronut and I had their version of eggs benny. It was alright. Not amazing. Nowhere near the worst meal of that trip (Looking at you Yak & Yeti Quick Serve). But alright.

This time – the pastries you get with your food had improved. The rest… not so much. Fallon’s cupcake was meh to the mehest. Also – what gives with those cupcake baking cups that can’t be peeled off a cupcake without destroying its structural integrity? And my meal was coooold. As a Canadian, I feel qualified to certify temperate coolness. My eggs were cold. Like they weren’t even microwaved properly. The bacon was pretty standard fast food fare and the potatoes were unworthy of wasting ketchup on.

But you know what? It doesn’t matter.

Because nobody goes to Be Our Guest for the food. And nobody heads there before 9AM to stay inside long. Because if you know what you’re doing – you’re not paying $24US for a mediocre at best scrambled egg breakfast. You are buying 2 extra fastpasses.

We’d finished our foodstuffs by 8:43 or so. Grabbed a coffee refill and headed out to the Mine Train. Unlike 2016 – this was roped off.  But a line was forming of Be Our Guesters who wanted first dibs when the park open. And like last year – that’s what we got.

At about 8:55 they ushered our group into the line. By 8:57 we were off the ride. It’s super cool to get to be the absolute first people on this. I would never ever wait 210 minutes to get on this ride. It’s a super cool, smooth, roller coaster with an awesome animatronic segment with Dopey, Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Bashful, Sneezy and the other guy. But no way is it worth that amount of time. It is worth paying twice as much for a breakfast you can get at a resort quick serve to walk on without a fastpass though.

And the best part? Since we were done Mine Train before 9, we were able to scurry along to Peter Pan’s Flight and walk on that by 9:10. Another ride that’s good and cool – but I don’t really get. Sure it’s the vastly superior of the Disneyland 1955 Originals – but it’s not worth 2 hours of your time (despite how cool the queue is).

But it is worth choking down luke-warm potatoes so you can use that Fastpass for Space Mountain instead.

This came across as more negative than I’d like it to. I’d like to reiterate this. Ultimately a bad meal at Disney World is irrelevant. Because you’re still at Disney World. Life is pretty good when that’s the case. Nobody gets there by accident. So gulp down your standard sausages, ride a roller coaster, use your credit card and have a great damn day.  That’s what we did. It was great 🙂

 

P.S. if you’re one of those people who makes a pre park open reservation then just buys a 69 cent Mickey straw so you can take advantage of the Mine Train loophole – you’re the problem and should probably get diarrhea.

Turf Club – January 9, 2017

This was a restaurant we didn’t really read many reviews of, and just don’t see mentioned all that often to be honest. But, we were staying at Saratoga Springs for 4 nights so we had to make a reservation to try it!

We made our reservation for fairly late at night, on the same night as the Star Wars Dessert Party – our reasoning was that we would be skipping supper to have our dessert first, and then after we returned to our resort we would have a late supper.

The restaurant itself is located in the main building at Saratoga Springs, at the end of a hallway.

If you read my review of the Star Wars Dessert Party, you’ll know that we were both feeling pretty good, and had drank quite a few of the cocktails offered there… and we were still feeling the affects of that when we arrived at The Turf Club.

We checked in, and did not have to wait very long before we were led to our table. Our waiter came over immediately to introduce himself – his name was Coy and he was amazing! He was probably the best waiter we had this entire trip, and I’m not just saying that because we were both drunk haha.

Here’s the menu that Coy dropped off for us to look over:

And they were also offering this Prixe Fixe Menu:

Luke decided to keep the drinking going, and ordered a Mint Julep – bourbon muddled with fresh mint and agave nectar, $11.25

So, they definitely stuck a piece of mint on top for garnish, but I’m pretty sure that entire cup was just ice and bourbon. Luke says it was one of the stiffest drinks he’s ever been served at a restaurant. I tried it, and I think they forgot to add the muddled mint and agave and it was just straight bourbon. Luke just decided to suck it up and drink it though, but our server noticed that he was struggling with it so he brought over a glass of ginger ale to mix into it. This was not something we asked for, but it was appreciated!

Waiter Coy also dropped off some bread:

With butter (and I don’t remember what was on the salt, sorry! Just be happy I remembered to take pictures haha).

The plan was to just order appetizers, since we had ate/drank so much at the dessert party, but then I saw this on the menu, and it was screaming my name.

This is the Rigatoni Fiesolana – rigatoni pasta, creamy tomato sauce with sausage, portobello mushrooms, parmesan and fresh basil, $22. I asked for it without mushrooms of course, but everything else in that description was ok by me! This was so great, but I didn’t come close to finishing it. I did take the leftovers with me though, and reheated it in the microwave in our room and it still tasted good!

Luke decided to stick with our original plan of appetizers, and ordered the Buffalo Chicken Dip – spicy ranch sauce with saratoga chips, $10. This was much better than we expected, it was shredded, white meat chicken mixed with what I assume is just ranch and Frank’s Red Hot, served with lots of homemade kettle-style chips to dip in. This was a huge serving, and meant to be shared – which we did. Also, here’s proof of how much we had drank that night – this is the only picture I took of this dish:

Yep, I should probably quit my job and become a professional food photographer based on that last picture….

Luke also ordered the Braised Beef Short Rib – creme fraiche- parmesan polenta, baby heirloom tomatoes and crispy fried potatoes, $13. I have no idea what creme fraiche is, and no idea what polenta is (I assume it’s that odd-coloured smear on the side of the plate), but Luke really enjoyed this. I tried some of the meat, and it was so fall-apart tender and delicious!

Overall, we really enjoyed this meal, and would not hesitate to return to the Turf Club if we’re ever staying at Saratoga Springs again. As I mentioned earlier, we loved our waiter, he was attentive, friendly and funny!

Our bill came to $63.63 (I forgot to mention up above that I ordered a coke to drink at $3.49).

After paying, I stopped on my way through the main lobby to use the bathroom before walking back to our building. While I was in there, Luke realized he had drunkenly forgot his hat in the restaurant and had to go back to get it – so then when I came out of the bathroom I had no idea where he was. Once we found each other again, we headed back to our room and called it a night!