View Full Version : Sans Friends - Tommy Bahama's Tropical Café, Walk to OKW, MVMCP

07-22-2009, 11:50 AM
Tuesday, 11th November

We’re fairly late rising this morning and by the time I’ve written up yesterday’s trip notes and we’ve carried out our ablutions, it’s around 11:30am before we’re ready to head out for the day. No matter how many times I remind him of the havoc to be wreaked by the Florida humidity, Matt will insist on straightening his hair every day :rolleyes:. We want a relaxing day as we’re off to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party this evening and have deliberately left the itinerary free. We elect to head to Pointe Orlando and specifically to Maggiano’s Little Italy as it’s been on the “to do” list for several trips now. After parking up in the garage, it’s still a little early for lunch, so we set off with the intention of doing a full circuit of the lower level shops, before returning to Maggiano’s.


We half-heartedly browse Foot Locker before moving on to the Boardwalk surf shop which has moved to a smaller unit roughly opposite its former location. It’s not nearly as nice. The old place was fairly big and cleverly conceptualised, with a distressed wooden floor and a tiki hut style pay-station at its centre (it was so authentic, Matt tried to get a drink there on more than one occasion). It’s now housed in a homogenised single unit with no theming. Yet another victim of the economic downturn, I guess.

We’re the only people in the store (in fact, we may well be the only people at the Pointe, full stop) and the young assistant wants to chat. He’s originally from Michigan and apparently knows our good friend Susan (who lives there) well. OWN-LEE KIDD-ING! (He’s only ever met her the once. ;) :teeth:) He reckons Brits all go crazy for Fit Flops and always seem to be keen to show him their photos of Sea World. We assure him we’ll be doing neither (although we do have a penchant for Scholls and some snaps of the Saltdean Lido if he’s interested). All trip, I’ve been trying to get Matt interested in looking at wallets as his is falling apart. Here I successfully convince him to look at an Oakley one, which, to my amazement he loves and is paying for before I can wheel out my now polished argument about precisely why he needs to be showing some enthusiasm for the task. I think the price-tag of $52 (for full leather) may have spurred his eagerness as it’s considerably cheaper than the others I’ve seen and is undoubtedly a small price to pay to silence my nagging.

As we approach Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Café, the lure becomes too great for both of us and, knowing that this may not only be our last opportunity this trip, but for some time to come, we find ourselves perched at the bar ordering lunch.




I can’t resist the Crab Bisque as it’s so delicious and Matt goes out on a limb with the Scallop Sliders. We both follow up with cheeseburgers, cooked medium. In our haste, we forget to take photos of the starters and achieve just one blurred burger shot. Matt swills his down with one each of the Bungalow Brew and Bungalow Blonde, whilst I imbibe of a Tommy’s Twisted Mojito and a Flip Flop Orange Drop martini which has a fabulous cinnamon sugar rim (and which our bartender tells me is called Li Hing Mui).


Back at the car, we decide to take a drive south along Universal Boulevard and out past Rosen Shingle Creek where we spent a few nights a couple of years back. We’re always interested to see how the Central Florida area is developing and we discover that The Westin is now complete and there’s a new Publix opposite the entrance to Rosen Shingle Creek, cradled between the two condo resorts of Vista Cay and The Isles at Cay Commons.

We continue on our journey looking out for a liquor store to get what we want to take home, and quickly spot one next to a Publix on the junction of the Central Florida Parkway and Orangewood Blvd. We buy Tommy Bahama Sand rum and Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve bourbon, neither of which are available in the UK. We also want a bottle of wine for a planned evening in front of the TV tomorrow evening (tune in for tomorrow’s enthralling instalment for details), but are struggling to get excited about the offerings in the liquor store, so we head next door to Publix. It’s small and old with a limited selection, so we jump in the car and head back to the new Publix we’ve just passed opposite Rosen Shingle Creek. It’s smaller than the one we visited on Sand Lake Road a couple of days back, but very nice nonetheless, and we’re tempted by the amazing fresh cakes in the bakery’s chiller cabinet. We each choose one for tomorrow’s TV extravaganza.

07-22-2009, 11:51 AM
With our purchases safely stashed back at the room, we set off on foot in the direction of the nature trail which leads from Saratoga Springs to Old Key West. As one of very few Disney resorts we’ve yet to visit, this is an activity which was committed to the itinerary very early on in the planning stages. We amble along, stopping to peer at the partly completed Treehouse Villas which are due to open as an extension of the Saratoga Springs DVC resort next May. I can never help but feel sad at the demise of any of WDW’s historic elements, so I’m pleased that the Treehouses, which were formerly part of the Disney Institute, are being replaced rather than wiped out altogether.







Despite our slow pace, it doesn’t take us long to arrive at the most southerly extreme of the sprawling Old Key West resort. We quickly stumble across a bus stop, complete with resort map, which enables us to get our bearings and we saunter on in the direction of the Hospitality House. This resort really is spread out and it takes us roughly the same time to reach that as it has to walk across from SSR. As we make our way up through the resort, it strikes us that the low level buildings, which are smaller than those at SSR (although the individual units inside are bigger), make for a neighbourhood feel and we concur that we can see why devotees like it here – it’s very tranquil and it really does seem more like a community than a resort complex. Even so, the abundance of "CHURCHILLS NOT WELCOME" signs seem somewhat OTT, not to mention a little hurtful.





We’ve yet to visit Key West proper, but the area around the Hospitality House definitely has an island vibe and it’s easy to imagine that you could be in the Key West of a bygone era. There aren’t many corners of WDW that we haven’t visited and, seeing something for the first time does remind you of just how inventive and imaginative the theming is. It’s so easy to get blasé about it all, but I imagine that when this resort opened back in 1991, it must have been mind-blowing. I do remember seeing publicity material for it during my first visit in 1992 (in fact, I think I still have the brochure). Back then, even the notion of staying onsite seemed like an unrealisable dream, let alone owning timeshare in it.








07-22-2009, 11:52 AM
During the course of the day, we’ve discussed several options for tonight’s MVMCP and have settled on arriving at the end of the first parade as we’re not planning on doing any rides. Back at SSR, we spend a relaxing few hours watching the sun go down from our balcony and slowly getting ready to go out.


We leave the room at 8:15pm and walk down the back stairs next to our unit, just as a bus pulls up at the stop nearby. It’s packed with tired looking bods returning from their day at the Magic Kingdom and, by the time we’ve done the full loop of the resort, we have it to ourselves for its journey back to MK. We’re the only people to be seen at the normally busy bus station and it’s the same story at the turnstiles. Clearly the day guests are long gone and those here for the party are already inside the park. In the past, we’ve tended to arrive early for such events to maximize the party passes (you can get in as early as 4pm), but we’ll unquestionably adopt this strategy of arriving later in future. We can hear the parade in full swing and we take the opportunity afforded by an unusually empty entrance plaza to set up the tripod and get some photos of the station.


As we head inside, the parade is drawing to a close and, as we can’t go anywhere, we consider it’s worth going up to the station platform to see how many people are about. To our surprise there are hardly any – just one row of people in chairs. As the parade ends, a couple sitting front and centre leaves, so we decide to stay here for the fireworks. We ponder the wisdom of that decision as everyone makes their way towards the castle and the area at this end of Main Street clears. We’re keen to get some half decent photos and we know the flagpole will mar every shot taken from here. Ultimately, though, we know this is too good a vantage point to pass up.








After Wishes we wander up Main Street, stopping for a PhotoPass opportunity in front of Cinderella’s Castle.



We then make our way towards Liberty Square, availing ourselves of the free cocoa on offer at the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon, before snagging a spot outside for the second parade. It’s now 10:15pm, so 15 minutes of people-watching and cocoa-drinking before it starts. It occurs to me that, of the many advantages of middle-age, finding pleasure in people-watching has to be high on the list. Not so many years ago, waiting was a tedious necessity, but the wisdom which comes with passing years has taught me to make the most of it. (Philosophy lesson for the day over :rolleyes1).












07-22-2009, 11:53 AM
We agree that the parade is nice enough, but not fantastic. As the crowd following it peels off towards the Haunted Mansion, we briefly consider joining it, but we know it’s not sensible and instead head in the opposite direction, taking the wooden walkway towards the Mountains. We linger here for some time, taking photos and just appreciating having it virtually to ourselves – hardly anyone passes this way in the 30 minutes or so we spend here.






We then stroll up through Adventureland before making our way back to the hub to take some more photos of the castle adorned with its twinkling lights.





It’s now well past midnight and, although we know we’re not about to get thrown out, we’re both tired. Despite a steady stream of people leaving since the second parade, there are still plenty around Main Street. This was the second party this year (last night being the first) and, in the scheme of things, it was pretty quiet this evening.

There’s a small line for the SSR bus when we reach the station and we have to wait around 5 minutes for the well-oiled machine to produce a vehicle for our journey “home”. We fall into bed at 1:15am.

Postscript: Yet another gloriously sunny day with highs in the 80s. Also a very dry day. Those on “drinks watch” will have spotted that we had just two each today.

Post postscript: If I’m entirely honest, whilst I may have failed to record the fact when writing my notes, it’s virtually inconceivable that we didn’t partake of something whilst watching the sunset from our balcony. That would kinda spoil my little postscript, though, so for these purposes we’ll just pretend we didn’t, okay?

07-22-2009, 12:08 PM
Great report as ever Deb, i love your pics of the community hal it looks really cosy in there


07-22-2009, 12:28 PM
Lovely day , great pics too:)

07-22-2009, 01:22 PM
Stunning photos Deb, especially the Wishes ones :thumbsup2

It must be a nightmare in the mornings for you, as it must take hours for Matt to straighten his hair :rotfl2::rotfl2:

07-22-2009, 01:47 PM
Deb, I love the way you just stroll casually back in and post one helluva trip report - I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to finish them - and thought for a minute that you might be trying to beat me to first prize for 'Longest time taken to finish a set of trip reports'.

Absolutely fantastic pictures - and precisely WHY did you not enter this months' photo comp, young lady ;)

Love the look of that flip flop orange drop martini - sounds right up my street. It may be worth a visit to Tommy Bahamas just to get myself one of those. I would have loved to see those scallop sliders.

There is so much more I can say but I will just say that I am looking forward to seeing plenty more from where that came and can't wait to read about your exciting evening in front of the telly. Who says the Churchills don't know how to have a good time ;)

07-22-2009, 02:14 PM
Well worth the wait for this installment and as expected as beautifully written and illustrated as your others. I do have a question, though, you know another Susan?! In Michigan? If you were being funny and meant me, I'm afraid I'll have to ask for the full six degrees of separation to make the connection--there are several states between Michigan and Oklahoma--but I'm sure we can discover the kinship.

Not only are your photos perfect illustrations for the report, they're beautiful. The lovely scenic shots belong in a book about WDW, but the ones I love are the ones of you and the ones of Matt and especially the ones of you and Matt. I've only been as close to Old Key West as the bus stop and never have seen so many pictures of OKW, inside and out, as these and now you've convinced me I need to stay there one day. Hard to pick a Best of Show among so many gorgeous photos, but think that one outstanding shot is the one of Liberty Square from across the river with the Castle in the background and the lights lining the river looking like dozens of bright candles.

07-22-2009, 02:44 PM
Love the report and the pictures.:thumbsup2

07-22-2009, 02:54 PM
Deb, I love the way you just stroll casually back in and post one helluva trip report - I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to finish them - and thought for a minute that you might be trying to beat me to first prize for 'Longest time taken to finish a set of trip reports'.
I really enjoy doing them, but they take so long! I have 5 days to go, so I may beat your record yet. :teeth:

Absolutely fantastic pictures - and precisely WHY did you not enter this months' photo comp, young lady
There's a photo comp? ;)

I do have a question, though, you know another Susan?! In Michigan?
Yep! And yep! I did think that may be a bit confusing when I wrote it. Clearly I should have made the effort to clarify myself. Susan Veness, the good-looking half of the Brit's Guide to Orlando and Walt Disney World writing duo, hails from Michigan. For the record, I also have a friend in Indiana (one of the several States in between), but she, at least, has the good sense to be called Alison.

Not only are your photos perfect illustrations for the report, they're beautiful.
Thank you. I sometimes feel a little miffed that Matt receives the credit for some of my shots, but, on this occasion, the good ones (i.e. those taken at MK) are largely his work.

07-22-2009, 05:18 PM
I couldn't agree more - well worth the wait, Deb!

And the pictures! FANTASTIC! Never having seen the castle adorned in twinkling lights, those are among my favorites.

07-23-2009, 03:56 AM
wow, your pictures are amazing. I am now sooooo excited about staying at OKW, it looks fab in your piccies. :cool1:

Tammy Stringer
07-23-2009, 07:52 AM
Hooray you have done another instalment.

Some beautiful photos there, I particularly love the night time shots with the reflections in the water - they would make great prints.

Are you on a roll now? Can we expect another day tomorrow or are you planning on stretching it out for as long as possible? :rotfl:


Kevin Stringer
07-23-2009, 08:00 AM
As everyone else has commented, some truly lovely photos, especially of the MK at night. :worship:

I'll look again in another couple of months for the next installment. :rotfl2:


07-23-2009, 01:05 PM
Some beautiful pictures, and another lovely day, you make Tommy Bahama look very tempting, I am loving the look of those cocktails.

You find all the walking paths at Saratoga, I had no idea we could walk to Old Key West, where does the path start?

07-23-2009, 01:31 PM
Jules, walk past the boat dock and cross the bridge. Instead of turning left towards Downtown Disney, turn right and keep going. :thumbsup2

07-23-2009, 01:36 PM
Thanks Deb, very interesting, we have yet to walk the Westside Route to Downtown Disney, so these are both things I will be interested to check out.

07-23-2009, 01:55 PM
Great day, loads of fantastic photos :cool1: Nice to see some photos of OKW as we are staying there for the second part of trip :thumbsup2

07-24-2009, 08:06 AM
Fab report Deb, beautiful photos.

07-29-2009, 11:42 AM
Brilliant photo's; particularly like the look of OKW - can't wait to stay there next year, though I'm astonished that you appear to have passed the Gurgling Suitcase by without so much as a cursory glance? Surely not!!!