Dining Review: The T-Rex at Downtown Disney

August 31, 2012 Cheryl 3
[gallery link="file" order="DESC" columns="4" orderby="rand"]

My son T’s favorite restaurant at Walt Disney World is the T-Rex, located in the Marketplace in Downtown Disney.  He likes it much so that I have (on multiple occasions) had to show him YouTube videos of the restaurant just so he could get his dinosaur fix.  To be fair, he has wanted to be a paleontologist since he could say the word…and when you combine life-size animatronics dinosaurs with macaroni and cheese, you have a real hit!!  J and I on the other hand are not as big of fans.  Atmosphere I would give it a 10, but food, well, not quite as high.

This restaurant is actually celebrating its 4th anniversary at Downtown Disney this fall.  It is part of the Landry Restaurant family – the same group that brought us Rainforest Café.  The T-Rex is quite similar in idea – lots of life-size prehistoric animals, the occasional meteor shower, and several different rooms/areas that represent different habitats.  They have an underwater area in the bar complete with a huge octopus, an ice age area where you sit inside an ice cave, a fern forest, a geo-tech room, and the “fire area” where the meteor shower is most visible. As far as prehistoric animals goes, it features tyrannosaurus, apatosaurus, triceratops, mammoths, stegosaurus, parasaurolophus, and multiple pterosaurs, sea jellies, large insect models alongside a pachycephalosaurus, a 13-foot wide octopus, and 2 fish tanks.   The décor is very well done, and you can walk around taking pictures of the moving dinosaurs, so that is pretty cool.  If you do go, and if you have little kids that do not like storms or loud noises, just be aware that there is a meteor shower every 20 minutes or so, and it gets loud.  You can take them into the bathrooms though; the sound show doesn’t get played in there.

As for the food, well, it took me quite a few visits to find an item on the menu that I actually liked.  I did find one – the Triassic Tortellini – and it is good.   It is tri-color tortellini with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and chicken in an Alfredo sauce (it comes with peas, but I omit them).  Pretty tasty!  J usually gets the burger (which they can never cook to the right temperature) but this time he tried out the Tyrannosaurus T-Bone, which they still didn’t get right.  He likes his steak still mooing – medium rare, and the first steak was closer to medium well to well.  They did remake the steak.  He said the second steak was ok, and that the seasoning was tasty, but the steak itself was chewy – not something you would expect of a $30 plus dollar steak.

Dessert on the other hand was delicious!  We have never gotten it before, but since we were on the dining plan, we tried it out this time.  J got the Ice Age Indulgence, which was layers of ice cream sandwiches, fudge sauce, whipped cream and Heath Bar Crunch, and I got the Cosmic Key Lime Pie.  Both were large and very good.

T always gets the Cosmos Cheesy Macaroni, which comes with piece of flat bread with cheese on it.  For dessert, he tried out the Saber-Tooth Sundae – which was a chocolate chip cookie covered in ice cream and chocolate sauce.  It was devoured pretty quickly and given double-thumbs up!

In addition to the restaurant, T-Rex has a Dino Store with all sorts of dinosaur related goods – t-shirts, toys, and even a Build-A-Dino store.  We have gotten two different dinosaurs from this store and they have both held up very well.  It is the same company as Build-A-Bear, so in addition to building your new buddy you can dress him/her as well.

There is also the Paleo Zone, which is a great outdoor dinosaur dig area that will keep your kids busy for hours if you let it. Go can on an archaeological dig, pan for treasures in Discovery Creek, and learn about prehistory on the Paleo Screens.  Best thing about this no-shoe area is the sand they use – doesn’t stick to clothes.  Wish I had that at home!!

We go to this restaurant every time we are at Walt Disney World – mostly because of T.  If your kids love dinosaurs, this is the place to be.  If you like the Rainforest Café – double bonus, you will be right at home.  If you don’t like either of these things – well, maybe look for somewhere else to eat.

Planning Tip:  T-Rex accepts the Disney Dining Plan this year, but in 2013 they will not be participating.  Reservations are definitely needed for this restaurant.

Dining Review: The Wave

August 28, 2012 Cheryl 1
[gallery link="file" columns="5"]

When making our dining reservations for our most recent trip to Walt Disney World, we decided to try out The Wave restaurant at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, despite the mixed reviews I had read about the restaurant.  I am glad that we did.  The food was excellent, the staff very attentive, and the atmosphere tranquil and relaxed. The server (Yvonne from Germany) was very nice, attentive, and quick to replenish our drinks.  And the chef (Paul) came out to check on our orders and to make sure we all enjoyed our food.  We have food allergies, so he also personally took our orders to insure no cross-contamination.  I really love how Disney takes food allergies seriously.

The Wave is located on the first floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, on the left-hand side just past the check-in and concierge desks.  After walking through a brushed steel arch “tunnel” you will be greeted by the reservation host.  There is a relaxing waiting area off to the right where you can sit and wait to be taken to your table.  There is a video/TV area too, that will keep your kids entertained, although you probably won’t have to wait too long.

We were on the Disney Dining Plan, so adults get a non-alcoholic drink, entrée, and dessert at lunch and dinner.  Children get the same, or they can order a complete meal off of the kid’s menu, which usually includes a starter.  A lot of food for a 6-year-old!

The meal started with some very tasty multi-grain bread served with butter with Hawaiian Sea Salt.  A very tasty combination I would never have thought of but thoroughly enjoyed.  J and I both ordered the Grilled Beef Tenderloin ($29.99), which was served with a Shallot Butter, Potato Gateau, and Spring Ratatouille. The steaks were cooked perfectly, and were tender and juicy and had a good flavor. The sides were also very tasty, and for someone who is not a big fan of squash, even the Ratatouille was good!

T ordered the Grilled Cheese on Rainbow Bread ($8.99), which came with baked fries and apples (a whole LOT of apples!) dipped in brown sugar – yum!!  His also came with a dessert, and he chose the Vanilla Gelato Sundae, which he quickly devoured giving it a huge thumbs up!

For our desserts, my husband and I each tried a dessert trio ($7.99 each) – three small desserts in one.  Combined we had a Key Lime Cube with Citrus Cream, White Chocolate Crème Brûlée with Raspberry Macaroon, Olive Oil-infused Chocolate Truffle Mousse with Salted Caramel Sauce, Coconut-Raspberry Bar with Roasted Pineapples, Vanilla Cheesecake with Florida berries, and a Chocolate Covered Banana Cream – wow!!  Each item was just enough to get a taste.  My favorite was the White Chocolate Crème Brûlée, and J (who loves anything chocolate) loved the Mousse.  The dessert trio is definitely a good option if you want to share!

Overall, I would recommend giving The Wave a try.  Disney classifies the restaurant as “Special & Unique Dining” and it also participates in the Tables in Wonderland program.  For those on the dining plan, it uses one table service credit.  Reservations are accepted, but do not seem to be necessary.

 

Dining Review: Le Cellier Steakhouse

August 27, 2012 Cheryl 1
[gallery link="file" columns="4"]

Le Cellier Steakhouse, located in the Canadian Pavilion at Epcot is consistently ranked among the top restaurants at Walt Disney World.  And although it requires two Disney Dining Plan table service credits for dinner (in 2013 it will also be two table service credits for lunch, although it is one this year), and requires getting reservations as early in the planning process as possible (think 180 days out from your vacation!), the food here is really good and very much worth it.

Depending on the time of day, and the weather, the host stand is either out in front of the Canadian pavilion or in the restaurant itself.  To get to the restaurant you follow the path on the right hand side past a nice garden.  There is stroller parking near the entrance.   Once you enter, you definitely don’t feel like you are in a theme park anymore! It’s like you have been transported to an upscale wine cellar in the Canadian Rockies with arches, candlelight sconces, and dark wood trim.

The meal starts out with a basket of breads representing the various areas of Canada.  My favorite is the pretzel bread, but the others (sourdough and multigrain bread) are good as well. There are several appetizer options on the menu from Soft-Shell Crab ($16.00) to “Le Cellier” Lobster Chopped Salad ($16.00) to my favorite…Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup ($9.00).  This soup is made with cheddar cheese, Moosehead Beer and bacon – yum!!

The restaurant’s signature dish is the “Le Cellier” Mushroom Filet Mignon, which is an 8-oz AAA Canadian Beef Tenderloin with Wild Mushroom Risotto, White Truffle-Butter Sauce, and Micro Chervil ($43.00), and what I had for dinner.  It is delicious – the beef was very tender, and combined perfectly with the mushroom risotto, and I highly recommend ordering it!  J opted for the Grilled Bone-In Rib-Eye, which is a 16-oz Bone-In Rib-Eye with Herb-Parmesan Potato Wedges and Maple-Pink Peppercorn Butter ($43.00).  He said that was excellent as well, and cooked to a perfect medium rare!  Other (non-beef) items on the menu include Pacific King Salmon ($35.00), Pan-seared Pacific Halibut ($38.00), Roasted Free-Range Chicken ($34.00), and Quinoa Potato Cake ($25.00).  Although we didn’t order any, they also offer several delicious sounding side items such as Lobster Macaroni & Cheese with Mascarpone ($10.00), Sautéed Mushrooms with Herb Butter ($8.00), and “Poutine” Fries with Canadian Cheddar, Truffle Salt, and Red Wine Reduction ($8.00)

For dessert, J ordered the Trio of Chocolate – a Chocolate “Nanaimo” Bar, Chocolate Sorbet, and Chocolate Lava Cake, and I had the Maple Crème Brûlée.  Both perfect choices.

The children’s menu options include a beefy pasta, a sirloin, or a fish, and come with an appetizer and dessert as well.  T had the pasta, and he ordered the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup (very yummy, especially if you dip the pretzel bread into it!), and then for dessert he got the Chocolate Moose – a moose shaped chocolate mousse – cute and delicious!

As this is a very popular restaurant, many people choose to celebrate special occasions there.  There were several birthdays at the restaurant the night we were there, but the biggest celebration occurred at the table next to us.  A couple asked their server to take their picture…as the woman smiled for the camera, her boyfriend got down on one knee and proposed!  The whole restaurant erupted into applause when she said “yes”…it was a great moment!

Next time you are planning on going to Walt Disney World and thinking about a special meal, definitely consider Le Cellier.

Dining Review: ‘Ohana for dinner

August 26, 2012 Cheryl 2
[gallery link="file" order="DESC" columns="6"]

While I have been to breakfast at ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort several times, I had never for dinner.  Having heard many good things about it, I was looking forward to it…and if you like meat, this dinner does not disappoint.

‘Ohana means family in Hawaiian, so everyone is a “cousin” and the food is all served family style.  After being greeted by a “cousin” and lead to our table (and a conversation with the Chef regarding allergies) we were brought our first course – a tossed salad mixed with Honey-lime dressing.  It was light with just the right amount of sweetness, and even T (who only ever eats salad with ranch dressing) said it was good!  Next up were pork-fried dumplings and coriander chicken wings – J really liked the dumplings and I couldn’t get enough of the wings.  The sauce was excellent!

After the appetizer round, Cousin Gabe brought us broccoli with green peas, pad Thai noodles (EXCELLENT by the way) and some dipping sauces (peanut, spicy mustard, and sweet-and-sour)…and then came the meat!

Servers walked around with large skewers with marinated sirloin steak, Asian BBQ pork loin, mesquite-grilled chicken, and non-peeled shrimp that had all been prepared over an oak fire.  Think Brazilian Churrascaria meets Polynesian Island…definitely come hungry to this restaurant!!  They also had some more kid-friendly options such as macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers.

And, if you are not already too full, the “main course” as they like to call it is an amazing ‘Ohana bread pudding à la mode with Banana Foster sauce!  Talk about delicious!  And they definitely don’t skimp on portion sizes – there is more than enough to share.  And if not don’t worry, they will bring you more!

While all of this eating is going on, they have Hawaiian entertainment in the form of a woman playing the Ukulele, leading a parade and doing the hula with the children, and giving out lei’s.  They even had a “push the coconut with a broom stick” race (I am sure there is a more technical term for it than that!!) that the kids seemed to enjoy!

I definitely recommend this restaurant for dinner – there is nothing bad on this menu!  And if you time it right, you can get down to the beach to watch the fireworks too – a perfect ending to your evening!

Hey Ferb, I know what we’re going to do today!

August 22, 2012 Cheryl 2
[gallery link="file" order="DESC" columns="6"]

(Originally published on 7/22/2012) There may be 104 days of summer vacation, but at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, there are 365 days of Phineas and Ferb!  Located near the exit of the Muppet-Vision 3D attraction and Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, this has got to be one of the most fun character greeting spots in all of Disney World!

As the story goes, the cartoon duo is making a movie called We’re Making a Movie – The Movie.  Phineas and Ferb are currently filming on location, and you are part of an active movie set.  With a DJ spinning all of TV show’s hit tunes, set director Cletus Filmore takes guests from the queue and has them recreate scenes from Phineas and Ferb episodes!  Big kids, little kids, and kids-at-heart are given blow-up guitars and saxophones, tambourines, and taught dance moves so that “the band” can be ready for their close up!  All the while, the two stepbrothers are there, signing autographs and taking photos with guests.

Meeting Phineas and Ferb was high up on our to-do list during our last visit.  Being big fans of the show (my husband has “S.I.M.P.” as his ringtone) we were all pretty excited to meet the boys…and this character greeting did not disappoint.  We stood in line about 45 minutes total, but honestly it didn’t seem that long at all.  The wait would have felt incredibly long in the hot sun however, if it were not for the director.  He had a gentle, yet insistent, way of encouraging young kids and their-not-so-young older siblings, parents, and grandparents to get out there and reenact scenes from the TV series.  It was especially funny when our friend Dave got out there and started doing the Y.M.C.A. to “Phinedroids and Ferbots”!  Then, not to be out done, I got out there during the next round and added my not-yet-ready-for-prime-time tambourine skills to “Gitchi Gitchi Goo”.  All the music, jokes, and improv entertainment definitely make the time pass quickly.

Once we got to the front of the line, it was time for the stepbrothers to take a break.  But, as we had two young boys in our group, the characters gave high fives to them on their way past and let them know (via Disney hand gestures) that they would be right back.  About 5 minutes later they returned, and we spent a few minutes getting photos and having them sign autographs.  It didn’t feel rushed at all, and was definitely worth the wait.  It would have been nice to have some of the other characters there – Candace, Dr. Doofenshmirtz, and, of course, Perry – but at least there is a pop-up of Agent P that you can see in the pictures.   And, until they build a Phineas and Ferb roller coaster, this is a great way to spend some time in the Tri-State Area.

Planning Tip:

If you are planning on going to the Phineas and Ferb Play’n’Greet and during your next trip, just know that they are very popular characters. Because of this, the wait seems to consistently at least 25-30 minutes. The music and show gags make the wait quite tolerable, but also know that the area is NOT covered and the queue always seems to be in the hot sun, except if it is raining (as it frequently does in the summer months).  If it does rain the characters will leave…and they may not come back.  There is a Disney Photopass staff member there to take pictures, but if you hand them your camera they will take some shots with your camera as well.  Finally, remember to check the time guide for exact times that Phineas and Ferb will be there, as they are not there all day.

UPDATE (8/22/2012):

As Garrett noted below – when the weather is gloomy, the boys move inside to the Premier Theater, which is located to the right of the regular meet and greet (right past Lightning McQueen and Mater).  We were there yesterday and the line was pretty short – in fact we were the last ones in line, and T got to dance with Phineas!

I have also heard an unconfirmed  rumor that the We’re Making a Movie – The Movie set is going to be wrapping up at the end of September, and it will be just a regular meet and greet.  I hope this isn’t the case, as being part of the film was a lot of fun, and set director Cletus Filmore definitely made the wait in line fun.

What if it Rains: Tips for a soggy day

August 21, 2012 Cheryl 2

Florida’s summer cloudbursts tend to clear quickly, so chances are you won’t be stuck in the rain for long. You can make the most of a soggy situation by being prepared…

What will be open?

  • The Parks continue to operate in the rain, although some rides close when lightning is a possibility.
  • Pools and water parks remain open in rain. Lifeguards are trained to clear the water when conditions become dangerous.
  • Boat service may be temporarily suspended due to rain.

How do I prepare?

  • Before you leave home, decide if you would rather pack ponchos or buy them in the parks later.  Disposable ponchos are available at many “dollar stores”. In the parks, ponchos cost $7.00. However, if they tear or rip the shops will replace them for free.
  • For a very rainy day, consider your footwear. Even if your clothes are dry your feet will most likely get soaked.
  • Lockers  – available for rent in the parks – are great for storing wet/dry clothes!
  • Remember children in strollers will need protection from rain, too.  And you can’t take strollers into most attractions, so even if you stay dry your stroller will be taking a shower.  Be sure to cover it (and anything inside it you need to keep dry)
  • Use the “hourly forecast” and radar on a web site like Weather.com to track rain. If you don’t have Internet access ask a Cast Member – they are often aware of the weather outlook.
  • Look to the sky – storms usually roll in and out pretty quickly, and you can get an estimate of when they will arrive just by looking up.

Where should we go?

  • Put on a poncho and soldier on!  You’ll make memories stomping in puddles all over the parks, and most likely, you will be rewarded with short lines. (A few attractions may close temporarily if they are affected by lightning.)
  • Epcot® is the theme park with the most indoor attractions. Hit Ellen’s Universe of Energy, you will be in there for 45 minutes.  In the World Showcase Area, look for “Kidcot” signs for activities that will distract the kids.  Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure is fun too, but parts of it are outside.
  • If you decide to seek shelter, you have several options inside the parks: stores (don’t forget resort package delivery), restaurants, shows, and indoor attractions.
  • If you don’t have a dining reservation but would like a table, inquire at the podium.
  • Light rain and overcast skies can make for a fun, line-free day at a water park.
  • Resort recreation staff often has rainy day activities planned for the lobby for kids.
  • If it is going to be a rainy night, inquire about an opening at one of the Children’s Activity Centers (child care). The kids can watch movies and have their own dinner while you have a date night!
  • The Downtown Disney Area is a popular rainy day destination. Expect to get wet walking around between stores though.
  • Disney Quest®, located at Downtown Disney Westside, is a 100% indoor attraction, but it does get very crowded on rainy days.
  • Nap time! Take advantage of some quiet time so you can stay up late later, or get up extra early tomorrow!

 

 

Rainy days at Disney always get me down

August 20, 2012 Cheryl 0

[gallery link="file" columns="8"]

 

Friday:  The day started out great with my favorite Disney breakfast – Tonga Toast (congrats to Jessica and Christine for guessing the picture on FB!).  From there we headed over to Animal Kingdom.  Now, I know it is August, and I am in Central Florida, so it is going to rain.  And it has rained pretty much every day we have been here, but the storms seem short-lived and they haven’t really effected our touring plans.  Today was different.  The clouds rolled in earlier and the storm lasted a lot longer.  Which really wouldn’t have been a big deal had we been at EPCOT, where most of the rides are inside.  But in a theme park that has water rides, outdoor amusements and lots of animals, being in a thunderstorm is really not fun.  We were on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride when it started, and the lightening continued for good hour and a half, even after the rains slowed down.  Luckily we were able to get into the 3:00 Finding Nemo, the Musical show.  This show is a must see – it brings the cartoon to life in a musical set and score that is ready for broadway.  I highly recommend seeing it!  When the show was over, the sun had finally come back out and we were able to ride on Everest and then get wet again on the Kali River Rapids ride!  It ended up being fun (as every day at Disney does) but a little less rain would have been fine too!!

Sunday:  T and I headed over to Blizzard Beach today to check out the water slides and the wave pool.  He had big plans for going on Summit Plummet – the 12-story wedgie-inducing speed slide – which ended as soon as he really saw how tall 12 stories is, and how fast you get from the top to the bottom.  As we stood at the bottom watching, a woman came down the slide then jumped up screaming “what the h@$# was that!!!” and just started to run away from the ride, which pretty much sealed the no-deal!  So we stuck to the wave pool, Teamboat Springs (a very fun family raft ride), the smaller slides and the lazy river.  Until the afternoon storm rolled through.  Well, I should say within a 6-mile radius a storm blew through, because although it never dropped a single drop of rain, the park closed for 1 1/2 hours.  We decided (along with pretty much everyone else) that it would be a good time to get an ice cream.  After at least a 45 minute wait (where we met some very nice kids from the U.K. and discussed the Olympics) we got our treats and waited out the “storm”.  Many people ended up leaving, so it was a lot less crowded after the rides reopened, so that was good at least!  But Blizzard Beach is definitely not a park you want to be in if there is a storm!

Monday:  Just for good measure, a very strong thunderstorm blew through the Magic Kingdom this afternoon.  We were on our way out, and could see the storm coming.  We tried to make it to the Monorail in time, but only made it as far as the bag checking area – and we hunkered down with several other families under the overhead cover.  This storm was doozy – high winds, very heavy rains and lots of thunder and lightning.  But it was gone as fast as it came.  Less than 10 minutes later we were happily on our way to the Monorail, just doing our best to avoid the rivers that the walkways had turned into!

 

 

 

 

Where’s Perry?

August 16, 2012 Cheryl 0
[gallery link="file" columns="8"]

My feet hurt!  Just thought I would throw that out there.  But I guess after 3 full days walking in the Parks that is to be expected.  No blisters, so that is good, but I could use a good foot massage!!

Anyway, back to the blog! Today we spent the day at EPCOT.  We started out by going on Spaceship Earth, which is inside the “golf ball” as T likes to call it.  This is a slow-moving ride that takes you through time – from the ice age to today, and into the future – showing how what we learned in the past has, and continues to, build our future.  We also rode on Ellen’s Universe of Energy.  This is a slow-moving ride as well, which takes you into Ellen’s energy nightmare and teaches about the different forms of energy.  It is in need of some updating, but the concept is good, there are hardly any lines, plus there are dinosaurs – which keeps T happy!  Another ride we did was Soarin’.  Lines are NEVER short for this one, but with Fastpass it is worth it!  In this ride you take a “flight” over the great state of California.  You travel from San Francisco all the way down to San Diego and somehow end up in the Magic Kingdom at Disneyland at Christmastime!  The sights are beautiful, and the smells just put it over the top – my favorite is the orange blossoms!  Definitely check out this ride if you haven’t already!!

Something new we tried out this time was in the Innoventions – East called the Sum of all Thrills.   This is a crazy-toss-you-all-around ride that you actually get to design yourself!  Using engineering skills and cool interactive tools, you get to pick which kind of ride you want (bobsled, roller coaster, or jet) as well as the height and speed of the dips and corkscrew turns you build into your ride.  You then get to test it out to make sure it is going to work before you actually climb into a 4-D robotic simulator and go for the ride!  Guests must meet a minimum height requirement of 48 inches to ride and 54 inches to invert on the ride.  T missed it by about a ¼ of an inch, so no upside down stuff for us, but it was pretty cool!!   We did the jet, but we ran into friends of ours in line and they did the roller coaster and said that was great too!  Definitely check it out!

We stopped in for lunch at the Electric Umbrella, a quick-service restaurant near Innoventions.  The food was pretty good – J had a Swiss mushroom burger and I had a bacon cheeseburger.  Both came with fries and we got the strawberry cheesecake for dessert.  Burgers were good, cheesecake not so much.  But the best thing about the restaurant was the free refillable drinks.  This is a rarity at Disney, so we took advantage of it!

Dinner was at Le Cellier Steakhouse in the Canadian Pavilion.  Consistently ranked among the top restaurants at Disney World, reservations are a must here.  It requires 2 table service credits for dinner (in 2013 it will also be 2 table service credits for lunch, although it is 1 this year), but the food here is really good and worth it.  The meal starts out with a basket of breads representing the various areas of Canada.  My favorite is the pretzel bread, but the others are good as well. The restaurant’s signature dish is the “Le Cellier” Mushroom Filet Mignon, which is an 8-oz AAA Canadian Beef Tenderloin with Wild Mushroom Risotto, White Truffle-Butter Sauce, and Micro Chervil, and what I had for dinner.  It is delicious – the beef combines perfectly with the mushroom risotto, and I highly recommend ordering it!  J opted for the Grilled Bone-In Rib-Eye, which is a 16-oz Bone-In Rib-Eye with Herb-Parmesan Potato Wedges and Maple-Pink Peppercorn Butter.  He said that was excellent as well, and cooked to a perfect medium rare!  For dessert, J ordered the Trio of Chocolate – a Chocolate “Nanaimo” Bar, Chocolate Sorbet, and Chocolate Lava Cake and I had the Maple Crème Brulee.  Both perfect choices.  T had the pasta, and the kid’s meal (on the dining plan) comes with an appetizer and dessert as well.  He ordered the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup (very yummy, especially if you dip the pretzel bread into it!), and then for dessert he got the Chocolate Moose – a moose shaped chocolate mousse – cute and delicious!  There were several people celebrating birthdays at the restaurant tonight, but the biggest celebration occurred at the table next to us.  A couple asked their server to take their picture…as the woman smiled for the camera, her boyfriend got down on one knee and proposed!  The whole restaurant erupted into applause when she said yes…it was a great moment!

After dinner we decided to check out the new Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure.  This is a relatively new attraction at EPCOT – it replaced the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure this summer.  In order to play you have to pick up a F.O.N.E. (Field Operative Notification Equipment) at the Perry kiosk located at the International Gateway. These interactive devices use state-of-the-art technology to help guests keep in touch with the Phineas and Ferb characters by finding clues, which you use to find Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s evil “Inators” and stop his quest for world domination!  There are top-secret devices hidden in several of the World Showcase pavilions (at each country, there will be a different mission that needs to be solved), but you have to pick just one to start so we chose the United Kingdom.  This was a really fun – it was like a scavenger hunt around the U.K. pavilion where you had to find stuff and deliver it to other locations, talk to cast members, and answer questions to solve the puzzle and stop Dr. D.  T had a great time and wanted to do more of the quests, but we ran out of time.  Maybe next time – since it really was fun!

Each night EPCOT hosts IllumiNations:  Reflections of Earth – a show centered around the World Showcase Lagoon where fireworks, lasers, and fountains are choreographed to music.  I love fireworks, so that part of the show I really enjoy, but in my opinion too much time is spent on the revolving globe, and the images projected on the continents are too difficult to see.  But the music is good and it is a nice ending to the day, so we always try to see it when we are here.   Of course it is a very crowded mad dash back to the buses and monorail, but if you take your time going back, you are less likely to have to wait in a long line at transportation.  Or, if you are staying at The Beach or Yacht Club, Boardwalk, or Swan or Dolphin you can just exit out the back entrance and be back to your room in a jiffy!  One definite benefit of staying in one of those hotels!!

Tomorrow we are having breakfast at The Kona Café (yea – Tonga Toast!!!!) and then we are off to Animal Kingdom for some safari rides and Broadway-style shows!  Hopefully my feet will feel better in the morning!

Be Our Guest!

August 16, 2012 Cheryl 0

It’s official! The new Be Our Guest restaurant will begin taking reservations on August 20th at 7 am! Be Our Guest will be ONE quick service for lunch and ONE table service for dinner!

Click here for more information!

Remember, as your Magic Maker, I will make all of your dining reservations for you – one less thing you have to worry about!!

I’m a T-Rex (roar)…I’m a Tyrannosaurus

August 15, 2012 Cheryl 0
[gallery link="file" order="DESC" columns="6"]

That might be a song from PBS’ Dinosaur Train, but today it is a fitting, since we had lunch at the T-Rex in Downtown Disney.  This is T’s favorite restaurant – so much so that I have (on multiple occasions) had to show him YouTube videos of the restaurant just so he could get his dinosaur fix.  To be fair, he has wanted to be a paleontologist since he could say the word…and when you combine life-size animatronics dinosaurs with macaroni and cheese, you have a real hit!!  J and I on the other hand are not as big of fans.  Atmosphere I would give it a 10, but food, well, not quite as high.   This restaurant is actually celebrating its 4th anniversary at Downtown Disney this fall.  It is part of the Landry Restaurant family – the same group that brought us Rainforest Café.  The T-Rex is quite similar in idea – lots of life-size prehistoric animals, the occasional meteor shower, and several different rooms/areas that represent different habitats (we were in the Ice Age Room).  The décor is very well done, and you can walk around taking pictures of the moving dinosaurs, so that is pretty cool.

As for the food, well, it took me quite a few visits to find an item on the menu that I actually liked.  I did find one – the Triassic Tortellini – and it is good.  Tri-color tortellini with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and chicken in an alfredo sauce (it comes with peas, but I omit them).  Pretty tasty!  J usually gets the burger (which they can never cook to the right temperature) but today he got the Tyrannosaurus T-Bone, which they still didn’t get right.  He likes his steak still mooing – medium rare, and the first steak was closer to medium well to well.  They did remake the steak.  He said the second steak was ok, and that the seasoning was tasty, but the steak itself was chewy – not something you would expect of a $30 plus dollar steak.  Dessert on the other hand was delicious!  We have never gotten it before, but since we are on the dining plan, we did today.  J got the Ice Age Indulgence, which was layers of ice cream sandwiches, fudge sauce, whipped cream and Heath Bar Crunch, and I got the Cosmic Key Lime Pie.  Both were large and very good

Next we were off to Hollywood Studios.  We had a lot of fun on the Toy Story Mania, Star Tours, and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster rides.  Toy Story Mania is a 3-D ride where you play arcade type games (ring toss, break the plates, etc) and try to get the highest score.  It is very popular, with wait times of up to 90 minutes today.  Star Tours is the Star Wars ride, and a must do for our family.  This is also a 3-D ride that simulates you flying in a space ship.  With the updates they did to the ride, there are now 54 different possible combinations, so the chances of getting the same ride twice are pretty slim.  Today we escaped from Storm Troopers, went to Hoth, saw Yoda, and then ended on Coruscant.  It was a new combination for us, so T was pretty excited!!  The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, however, didn’t go over as well with him!  It is an indoor ride that starts off super fast and heads into a crazy ride through Hollywood, and goes upside down and through lots of twists and turns before your arrival at the Aerosmith concert across town.  Maybe in a few years he will feel differently!

Between the rides we got to see the Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun! Parade, which features (as you can guess from the title) all of the stars of the Disney/Pixar films.  It is a fun parade, with lots of colorful floats, dancers in bright costumes, and the song “I don’t want to work” played quite a few times.  Something new this year – right before the parade starts they actually do a flash mob, where guests are taught a few dance moves and then do a huge performance on Hollywood Blvd. The flash mob was lead by Disney Cast Members who “filmed” the event.  It was surprisingly popular with well over a 100 participants. Fun!

We are huge character signature fans so we always plan on stopping in the Art of Animation building to see what characters are around for Characterpalooza.  Today The Queen, Rafiki, Mary Poppins and her Penguin, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, and Chip and Dale were there in addition to the regulars (Sorcerer Mickey, Pooh, and The Incredibles).  We already had everyone’s signature, but it is always fun to see who is going to show up.  Jake (from the Neverland Pirates) was outside though, so we did stop over to see him.

Tomorrow we are off to EPCOT.  We are having dinner at Le Cellier Steakhouse in the Canada Pavilion, and I am hoping to check out Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure.