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Old 07-06-2006, 10:35 AM   #1
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DDE Report, HDDR, Concourse Steakhouse, The Plaza, 50s Prime Time, & others July 1-4

This was a last minute super short trip from July 1-4, but I'm long winded and detail oriented so hang onto your hats. I was surprised how easy it was to get fairly decent ADRs and I moved them around a lot trying to decide timing of parks, naps, etc. with two 4-year olds and a 9 year old.

The cast was my mom (64), sister (36), me (34), DD (4), Nephew (4), and Nephew (9).

Let me preface this report by saying that I'm all about experiences with dining, the food is important, but I would much rather do a Table Service and enjoy the experience than just save money with Counter Service meals.

When we arrived Saturday, we had reservations for the Makahiki Luau at Sea World. I highly recommend this dinner for several reasons. 1) The food is served family style and scrumptious consisting of beef ribs, coconut mahi mahi, stir fried rice, sweet and sour chicken among other really good stuff. The children were offered kids meals (hot dogs, chicken fingers, PBJ, etc.) which came in super cute little Shamu plastic cases that they could take home, along with re-usable capped shamu cups with plastic drinking straws. 2) The show was fantastic. I was born in Hawaii and have been back several times and I am extemely skeptical of luau shows, as they usually are pretty weak, both with theming and with the dancing. These dancers were really very good. The fire dancers were awesome. 3) You don't have to pay for parking if you're going to the luau. The show was at 5:30, you could get into the park at 4:30 without having to purchase a Sea World park ticket. 4) They offer a 10% discount for AAA. 5) After the show, you can stay at the park and enjoy the rest of the shows and attractions. We were done at 7:45 and were able to do the Sea Lion show, the Shark Encounter, the Dolphin Nursery, Pearl Diving and of course, Believe, the Shamu show which is fabulous. The park didn't close until 10Pm the night we were there. Fireworks and a laser show were at 10PM. Tremendous value overall.

Now on to Disney Dining. I had purchased an AP, and decided to purchase a DDE (Disney Dining Experience) Card for $60. It gives you 20% of almost all Table Service restaurants and some of the specialty shows. I am going back with family in January '07 as well as June '07 so I thought I wouldn't get all my $60 dollars worth in the 2 days that we were in the parks but figured I would on all 3 visits together. I definitely got my money's worth in the 2 days.

We started off Sunday morning with an 8AM ADR at the brand new Hollywood & Vine Character breakfast with JoJo and Goliath as well as June and Leo from the Little Einsteins. I believe it was $22.99 for adults and $13.99 for children. This day, my sister's brother-in-law and his wife were with us, so there were 5 adults and 3 children, so the 20% savings added up quickly. The park didn't open until 9AM and this was a perfect time. There are probably 75 tables in the restaurant maybe. When we left, maybe 20 of them were full. My DD stayed with JoJo nearly the entire time (they sing and dance a lot) and no one minded at all because there just weren't very many people there at that time of day, plus the breakfast had only been going on for just over a week and not many people are aware of it yet. The food was really excellent. All kinds of pastries, croissants, bagels, etc. along with Mickey Waffles, Ham, sausage, bacon, grits, oatmeal, frittatas, potato casserole (yummy), yogurts, all kinds of juices and probably anything else that you can think of. Savings from DDE for this meal: $31.40--already more than half the cost of the DDE card

For lunch we had an ADR at 50s Prime Time Cafe at 12:05 for 8. We weren't terribly hungry so several of us shared meals. It is really nice and cool as well as fairly dark, which was nice since it was hot as blazes outside. The theming is super cute. We sat right next to one of the old TVs. Cousin Eric served us and did a great job of staying all over the kids and even one adult for no elbows on the table. The chicken ceasar salad was split between my sister and her SIL and they actually brought it out on two plates which was very nice. These were certainly ample portions, and would have been way too much if we hadn't shared. Mom and I split the pot roast (same thing for separate plates and portion size) and it was very yummy and much better than a hamburger would have been. My sister's BIL ordered the meatloaf and said it was very good as well. The kids all ordered kids meals and my DD ate all her chicken nuggets and said she really liked them better than at other places. All the kids had the light-up ice cube drinks. Total savings on DDE card here: @$14.00

For dinner, I had made last minute reservations at Hoop Dee Doo Revue. One word of caution. Take the boat over if at all possible. We didn't realize how much of an ordeal it is to drive over there. First of all there was no parking. We did finally find a parking spot, but it was a hassle. My mother is in an electric mobility scooter and decided not to take it this evening because we figured it wouldn't be far to walk. Big mistake. After scoring the parking space, you have to walk to the bus stop across the lot and wait at the bus stop for a bus and then it's probably a good 8-10 minute drive back (lots of stops for cabins and tents) to Pioneer Hall. It was a nice ride. We saw lots of deer and the drive is peaceful but we were running very close. I checked in at 7:13 and doors opened at 7:15. We were lucky all in all, but I prefer to be early and didn't want to miss anything. Okay, now for some more pixie dust. When I got there, I looked at my bill and it seemed too low. I asked the CM to check and she said it was correct. I finally figured out that they had given me the 20% discount for my DDE, although it's published that it's only good for the 9:30 show. I wouldn't necessarily count on this again though as it's published everywhere that the DDE card is only good on the late show and when I made the reservations, the CM told me that she couldn't give me the 20% discount. So, , but . This was a huge savings at the adult tickets are like $50.22 and the children's tickets are like $25.15 or some strange amount like that. We had a center stage table for 6 downstairs right in the middle of the action. The show was hysterical. The kids absolutely loved it, especially waving their napkins around when prompted and playing the washboards. My mom was a bit taken back by the noise and the constant silly jokes. But she loved watching the kids have a ball and the entertainers are really good. The food was served family style and was excellent. Pork ribs, chicken, baked beans, corn on the cob, cornbread were all excellent. The strawberry shortcake was very good. All the adults were ready for the free included beer and wine , and the kids loved the root beer. Total unexpected savings for the DDE card on this meal: $45.

Sunday was our Magic Kingdom day and we wanted to get there early, so we just grabbed doughnuts at the SOG Quick Cafe by the buses. Park was great all morning with little to no waiting---very unexpected and made for an extremely enjoyable trip. Mob scene at MK later that night.

Lunch we had early ADRs at The Plaza Restaurant at MK for 11:15 due to the quick breakfast. Mom and Sis had the strawberry vinegrette salads which were wonderful they said. I had the Philly cheesesteak; surprisingly tasty. The kids had the Mickeylodeon ice cream sundaes. Not exactly nutritious, but it's not like they hadn't been eating a ton for 2 days straight . My sister ordered 2 milkshakes (it was hot outside) and mom, DD and I shared the banana split...yummy! Total DDE savings here: $15.

The kids had enough of the constant heat by 2PM, so we headed back to SOG for swimming and naps.

We were so lucky and scored a Fantasy In the Sky Special July 4th Fireworks Cruise at 8PM that night. I think I got it like a week in advance. The captain couldn't believe it, as he said they'd been booked for 6 months. Not that it's a dining review, but they do provide all the snacks and drinks you could possibly use in an hour's time period, which was great since our ADR was at 9:40 for Concourse Steakhouse. Captain Lou was great and with fireworks set off in 8 different locations, it was a truly memorable display. Worth every penny of the $200 cost for the 6 of us.

The Concourse Steakhouse reservations at 9:40 was definitely the worst meal of our trip. Now the kids were a bit tired, but more eager to get back to MK. But the food was cold and not exceptionally tasty. Mom had the prime rib and said it was almost chilly. I had the lobster bisque which was okay, but a bit salty. I also had the ceasar salad for an entree and it had way too much ceasar dressing on it...so much so as every piece of romaine was soggy. Yuck! My sister had the chicken penne pasta with spinach. The spinach was raw in the pasta. Weird. Usually it's at least wilted. Just strange. Two of the kids had pizza and of course, these were the items that were scorching hot; both kids burned their mouths so some crying ensued. Wouldn't recommend this again even if we had had ADRs at an earlier time. Total DDE savings (thank goodness) was $20.

Total DDE savings for 2 days: @$125. So the $60 card actually did save us a net of $65, just on this one trip. Two trips to go

Sorry for the rambling, but maybe I've swayed someone one way or the other. Let me know if you have any questions!
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Old 07-06-2006, 11:30 AM   #2
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Great reviews! Thanks for sharing!!
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Old 07-06-2006, 05:54 PM   #3
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I am surprise of your review on Concourse Steakhouse I have eaten here a number of times and it has been just wonderful. But I don't eat that late at night a main meal. I am going to venture they where closing down shortly for the night.

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Old 07-07-2006, 08:48 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Hugpug
I am surprise of your review on Concourse Steakhouse I have eaten here a number of times and it has been just wonderful. But I don't eat that late at night a main meal. I am going to venture they where closing down shortly for the night.
I know they were closing...probably at 10:00, because when we left about 10:30, no one was being seated. I agree that they weren't on their toes by the end of the evening, but still the food shouldn't suffer. I wouldn't have been alarmed by wait staff cleaning up at that time of night, but I don't think you can say that it was late so the salad should be wilted, the prime rib cold and the bisque too salty (and I like salt). I can't imagine that the manager of the restaurant would think those things acceptable; albeit we didn't contact the manager, because we shrugged it off ourselves; just not worth the $100 IMO. Too many restaurants in the World to waste money on one that was subpar.
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Old 07-08-2006, 03:45 PM   #5
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Thanks for the reviews! Glad to read one on the new MGM character meal, sounds great!
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Old 07-08-2006, 05:24 PM   #6
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Great reviews, thanks for the info. By the way, how did the waitress at HDDR know that you had a DDE card to give you the discount? I know it's a card that you normally present, so how would she know?
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Old 07-08-2006, 10:56 PM   #7
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Thanks for sharing you reviews. I completely agree with your review of CS. It was our worst meal of the trip too. We were there late too so maybe that had something to do with it. We won't give it another try though, to find out. Like you said there are too many other places to try.
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Old 07-09-2006, 02:23 AM   #8

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Enjoyed reading your reviews ~ Thanx for sharing.
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Old 07-09-2006, 04:49 AM   #9
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great reviews thanks

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Old 07-09-2006, 07:07 AM   #10
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Great reviews, thanks for taking the time to post. Sorry Concourse Steakhouse wasn't up to par, we have ADR's there for December. Hopefully it will be better then.
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Old 07-09-2006, 12:16 PM   #11
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Thanks for the reviews! I was wondering about Plaza.. we'll have to stop there on one of our MK days
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Old 07-09-2006, 12:27 PM   #12
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Great review! And thanks for the SeaWorld luau tips! I didn't realize Seaworld is free after 4:30. Is that always? Even if you're not doing the luau?
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Old 07-09-2006, 03:03 PM   #13
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Thanks for your reviews and for showing your DDE savings! I love DDE.
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Old 07-10-2006, 09:14 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by PolyAddict
Great reviews, thanks for the info. By the way, how did the waitress at HDDR know that you had a DDE card to give you the discount? I know it's a card that you normally present, so how would she know?

Yes, it was weird. At HDDR, you check in at a ticket booth sort of place. They pulled my reservation and she said it had already had been charged and then showed me the stub, which you then present to the person at the door who seats you. That's when I realized it was a good $45 too low. I questioned it by saying, "It seems too low" and the "ticket booth" CM glanced at it and all she said was "It's right". It must have been the CM making the reservations because it was already all done and I didn't even show my DDE card at the "ticket booth".

I didn't push the point because I had already questioned it, and figured that if the "ticket booth" CM wanted to do something about it, she would have. But she said, "It's right". So I was . I chalked it up to
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Old 07-10-2006, 09:21 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by tweetylori
Great review! And thanks for the SeaWorld luau tips! I didn't realize Seaworld is free after 4:30. Is that always? Even if you're not doing the luau?
Sea World is only "free" after 4:30 if you're doing (and have prepaid) for the 5:30 Makahiki luau dinner show. The show was great. But the extra park time is not really "free" . I think the tickets were like $45.00 for adults (less 10% discount for AAA). And you have to factor in that they don't charge you parking if you're going to the show ($10 per car), so there's a savings too. I just had to present my confirmation number at the turnstile; didn't even have to check in at the ticket booth.

But if you had been at the park all day (and paid for a park ticket) and then went to the show, there wouldn't be any discount other than maybe the 10% AAA that I got, so in that respect it's a really nice little bonus to get 2-3/4 hours worth of free time at Sea World. Especially since it was roasting the day we went (July 1) and I think the evening hours were much more enjoyable. The show is inside a very nicely cooled airconditioned showroom and you get a free cocktail/or beer when you check in.
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