DISNEY IS NOT JUST FOR KIDS
Happy Fall! This is a wonderful time of year when the weather starts to cool down and the fall colors start to appear. It is also my favorite time of the year to visit Walt Disney World!
In years past, we would always take our boys out of school for a week to visit Disney and party at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom, partake in the International Food and Wine Festival at Epcot, “shoot” water balloons at Toy Story Midway Mania and enjoy pool time at our resort.
Fast forward and we are now empty nesters and chose to spend our 25th wedding anniversary at Disney. Not just by ourselves but with two other couples also celebrating their milestone anniversaries! It didn’t take much coaxing to get the others to agree to a visit to the Most Magical Place on Earth. Best friends with similar anniversaries and it was sure to be a weekend full of laughs and memory making!
So, what did we do when it was just us adults? All those things you can’t do when you’ve got kids in tow! We stayed in a Grand Villa at Disney’s Old Key West Resort. Gorgeous two story villa with big accommodations where everyone was super comfortable. Three bedrooms, four bathrooms, a big living area, full size kitchen, laundry room and deck where we could enjoy our morning coffee and read before we set out for the day.
Once we were checked into our villa, we decided to head to the Magic Kingdom resort area and do a “monorail crawl”. What is a monorail crawl? You ride the monorail getting off at each resort to visit the various bars and lounges at the resort! And of course take in the wonderful sites and photo ops at these fabulous Disney resorts.
We started at the Polynesian Village Resort with drinks at Tambu Lounge. Well, actually it was a makeshift Tambu Lounge as the lounge is under refurbishment so we had to make due. It really wasn’t a “make due” situation as we still had a beautiful view of the lobby and the swimming pool with the Castle in the distance! A great way to kick off our vacation! Then we were off to Trader Sam’s. If you have never been there, GO. It is worth a visit. It is quite small so if you are not there and in line prior to 4pm (opening time) chances are you will have a wait. We were there at 3:30 and still did not get in until 5pm. Thus, the Tambu Lounge stop! The wait staff at Trader Sam’s is a lot of fun and they deliver your drinks with lots of entertainment. And the drinks are not just “for show”. They are tasty too!
Off to the monorail and our next stop, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. I LOVE this resort. As a matter of fact, this is our “home” for a week every June. When you enter the lobby, just stop and take a deep breath. I wish I could bottle that smell and bring it home! Sit a moment and listen to the pianist. Look up and admire the ceiling and magnificent chandeliers. Dream you are a prince or princess and the Grand Floridian is your Castle!
Our first stop was Mizner’s Lounge. Located on the second floor “behind” the orchestra, it is a great spot for a before or after dinner drink or just a thirst quencher on a stop on the monorail! Oh, and make sure you stick around to listen to the orchestra. Dancing is permitted and encouraged!
After the quiet and cool of Mizner’s Lounge, we decided to head out to Beaches Pool Bar and Grill. There you can sip on your favorite libation while lounging by the pool, sitting at the bar or congregating at the tables overlooking Seven Seas Lagoon. We happened to time our visit perfectly as they we setting up for s’mores around the fire pit so some of us had to toast a marshmallow (or two!). And no, you don’t have to be staying at the resort to join in the fun. Everyone can “play” when you are at Disney!
A few appetizers and lots of beverages made for some hungry bellies. We headed to Gasparilla Island Grill, the quick service location at the Grand Floridian. I highly recommend it even if you aren’t staying there. It is open 24 hours and offers a wide selection of tasty items to choose from. Many are made to order. No, we did not eat this stuff for dinner!
After we refueled, we were back on the monorail headed to the Contemporary. One of our “mates” was drawn to the sights, sounds and lights of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and wanted to hop off at the Magic Kingdom but we pulled him back on and proceeded to our 3rd and final stop.
By this point, we were starting to drag. Yes, Disney is for adults too but we can’t go like we did when we were in our 20’s! But, we marched on to Outer Rim on the 4th floor of the Contemporary for a few and final drinks. No pictures to share though. At this point, we were laughing to hard and no one remembered to take pictures!
The monorail brought us back to the Polynesian where we started 6 hours earlier and we couldn’t leave without a “roady” for our trip back to Old Key West. No, we were not drinking and driving but we did have to get a Dole Whip, that delicious pineapple soft serve, for the road!
Day 2 of our Anniversary Celebration took us to Epcot to enjoy the flavors from around the world at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. This is my favorite event at Disney World. So many tasty plates to try, delicious drinks to sip and entertainment to keep even the most skeptical entertained!
Before our trip around the world, we had to make a stop at Soarin’. The “new” Soarin’ around the world is just amazing!! Our friends had never seen that version and they were all impressed. Soarin’ over the Taj Mahal or racing across the savanna with elephants makes you feel like you are really there! We wanted to stay on and take another trip around the world but the cast members said we had to get back in line! Oh well, we had other things to do!
When visiting the Food and Wine Festival, make sure you grab a Festival Passport. Use the passport to keep track of all the stops you make and “tasties” you sample. There was a day when the cast member taking your order would actually stamp your passport. Now, there are stickers inside the passport that you can place on the appropriate location. If you ever fill your passport completely, let me know! I’ve been trying for years and it has not happened yet!
On our way to World Showcase, we had to make a stop at The Wine and Dine Studio. Several years ago, one of the couples was with us and she LOVED the wine and cheese pairing. So, we had to stop and see if it was as wonderful as it was the first time. The pairing did not disappoint her and she enjoyed every little crumb of cheese and drop of wine! My other friend opted for Butternut Squash Ravioli with a Reata Chardonnay. Me, I chose seared scallops with roasted corn and butterbean succotash from Coastal Eats but had eaten it before I realized I hadn’t taken a picture!
We heeded my advise that I always give my clients…When you go to World Showcase, go right. Most people go left and start with Mexico but to avoid the crowds, go right and start with Canada. We did and were glad we did. There we started our drink and eat around the World. Here we go…Le Cellier Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon and the guys had a Moosehead Radler. On to Ireland where some tried Guinness and another some sort of English beer! Across the “chanel” and along the Seine, one tried the escargot and we all enjoyed a Grand Marnier Orange Slush. Ok, I’ll tell you a secret, we had two!! My favorite drink at Epcot!
Onward we went…some cheese bread from Brazil, a lager in Morocco, sushi in Japan (while being entertained by Matsuriza Drummers), lobster roll in America and a nice cool break.
Wine in Italy, beer, pretzel and Schinkennudeln (pasta gratin) in Germany, Hacker-Pshorr at Brewer’s Collection and a Tipsy Ducks in Love in China. As much as we wanted a frozen margarita in Mexico, we were hot, tired and ready to get away from the crowds. Yes, as we made our way around World Showcase, the crowds got thicker! Everyone was happy they followed their favorite travel agent’s advise…go right!
We needed a break and were very happy to find our way out and back to Old Key West. We laughed, drank and ate our way around the World (and wished we had had room for more!) but our dogs were howling and we needed some air conditioning and bottled water!
Believe it or not, after a rest, we were up and at ’em! Showered and refreshed for round two, we headed to the Top of the World Lounge at Bay Lake Tower for (more) cocktails and fireworks. There is something magical about standing on a rooftop observation deck watching fireworks over Cinderella Castle listening to the piped in music that the folks on Main Street USA are also listening to. Only at Disney!
Fireworks were over and we were still mesmerized by the lights over Magic Kingdom and across Seven Seas Lagoon but we had a reservation at The Wave at the Contemporary Resort. This hidden gem is found on the first floor of the Contemporary and many people either don’t realize it is there or think it is “nothing special” because it doesn’t have a view or characters aren’t present. I must admit, I used to be one of those people! But several years ago we tried it on one of our visits and now it is one of our go to restaurants. The menu has seasonal items and many of the ingredients are locally sourced. Try it! You will be pleasantly surprised.
Day 3 was rest and relaxation day!! We spent the day at the pool lounging, reading, playing corn hole and just “floating”. In the pool that is! One third of our bunch had to catch a plane that night and I’m not sure who was sadder about the departure. Them or us! The other 2/3’s of the group got cleaned up for our last night which was spent at Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian. Great food, a toast to all our anniversaries, the Electrical Water Pageant on Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom in the background was the icing on the cake to a super fabulous, “not just for kids” vacation at Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida!