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Old 01-11-2009, 05:37 PM   #1
UKDEB
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Sans Friends - Magic Kingdom, The Wave, Epcot and ESPN Club

Preamble
Flight and first evening at the BoardWalk
Mall at Millenia and International Food & Wine Festival

Tuesday, 4th November (Election Day)

I awake after a restless night and, judging by Matt’s tossing and turning, he’s experienced similarly disturbed sleep. We’re up at 5.30am, but don’t rush to do anything.

For the next few days, in the knowledge that the jetlag will have us awake early, the itinerary has us hitting the parks for opening. We leave the room at 8:45am and head for the bus pick-up point. As many of you will know, Matt has a loathing for buses, but a love of the happy juice, so he almost squeals with delight as the Magic Kingdom bus rolls into view at 8:55am. (Now, I’m ahead of the quick-witted amongst you who will be thinking that he’s going to be gutted to discover that MK is bereft of anything remotely alcoholic, but we have a 1pm ADR for the new restaurant at the Contemporary, The Wave, so there’s method to our madness.) I should probably mention that I’m not a big fan of the buses, either, but, like Matt, I’m aware they have their benefits. That they’re one of the few ways to reach the doorstep of the Magic Kingdom without having to contend with the Transportation and Ticket Center is definitely one of them and we’re passing through the turnstiles shortly after opening. We’ve experienced the opening ceremony previously, so we’re not overly disappointed to have missed it. [For anyone who hasn’t caught it, it’s a real crowd-pleaser (as are those at the other parks).]

As one of this trip’s priorities is to seek out the corners of WDW rather than to experience the main attractions, we take a look around Exposition Hall. It’s a few years since we’ve done so and it hasn’t changed any. Conscious of our quest to make good use of PhotoPass, we go for the obligatory Castle shot at the top of Main Street.





We take our time wandering up Main Street and then seek out another PhotoPass opportunity in the Rose Garden before taking the path around the back of the Castle into Fantasyland.



Because it’s something new, I have the notion that it might be nice to take a look at the Fairies “Meet and Greet” in Toontown, but as we approach the area and see the lines, I remember it doesn’t open until 10am. Instead we look around Minnie’s House before heading across to Tommorrowland.





Matt is keen to ride Buzz and, whilst I can take it or leave it, I’m happy to oblige. Knowing that he always spins the car in precisely the opposite direction to the one in which I’m about to shoot, we take separate vehicles. [The fact that I haven’t recorded our respective scores may just possibly suggest that he thrashes me.]

Normally we’d do Carousel of Progress (one of my favourite attractions) and the TTA, but neither of us feels a particular urge to do so - we’re both just enjoying being here and soaking it all up. One of my guilty pleasures is looking around the gift shops, but when we’re with other people I feel I have to control the urge. Whilst Matt doesn’t share my delight in them, he’s always happy to indulge me and, when he’s had enough, is content to sit outside and people watch. These days, I seldom buy anything, but I like to look so I take a quick peak in Mickey's Star Traders.



We loop back through Fantasyland and stroll the length of Frontierland. I’m starving and, bizarrely for me, have a craving for something sweet, so I get a Mammouth Pecan Pattie (chocolate covered pecan and chewy caramel) in Prairie Outpost and Supply. Matt has a Twix ( Don't ask me, I’m as confused as you), plus a share of my pattie.

We round the corner into Adventureland and take advantage of another PhotoPass opportunity near Pirates of the Caribbean.



We mosey around the "Pirates" gift shop , as well as Island Traders before heading back towards Main Street and up through the shops on the Casey’s Corner side.







It’s still very early in relation to our 1pm lunch ADR, but it becomes increasingly apparent that this is very much the focus of today’s activities for both of us, so we board the resort monorail to the Contemporary. We arrive at 11:45am and while away 10 minutes looking around the concourse before heading for the restaurant. As we arrive, they’re preparing to open, so we sit in the lounge-cum-waiting area next to the bar.





I guess we’re not too surprised to find we’re the only patrons. Given the choice of an empty restaurant or an empty bar, the bar is going to win out every time, so we take up position. It doesn’t get busy the entire time we’re here with just two other couples joining us at the bar (albeit not at the same time) and maybe half a dozen parties entering the restaurant.

We’ve read several reviews of this place, together with photos, and we’ve been keeping our expectations low whilst remaining keen to check it out for ourselves. Our impression has been of a pleasant, but very Disneyfied environment and typical Disney fayre. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The restaurant itself possibly fits that bill, but the bar is gorgeous – really grown up in a way Disney doesn’t normally do well. From photos I’d seen of the lounge areas, I’d imagined them to be pretty soulless, but, even empty, I’m pleasantly surprised at how atmospheric they are and I can imagine they’ll have a really good vibe during the evenings.





Our barman is Alan. He’s previously worked at the Territory Lounge at Wilderness Lodge and, more recently, the Pop pool bar, before getting this gig. We comment on how impressed we are with this space and how un-Disney it seems and he tells us what we already suspect; that it comes alive during the evenings when it’s packed with conventioneers in their smart attire.

Determined to make the most of not having to drive, Matt wastes no time in ordering a Yeungling, followed firstly by the Orlando Brewing Company’s porter and then their pale ale. [The Orlando Brewing Company is a tiny firm based in Downtown Orlando and which normally only supplies a few small independents.] I peruse the cocktail menu, but don’t feel inspired, so I order a dark rum mohito before moving on to the Wolf Blass Gold Label chardonnay. All the wines here are from the southern hemisphere, which I’m sure is avant-garde in this context, but very disappointing to me given I can get most of them in my local supermarket. It’s a very small pour for $13.50 and, to add insult to injury, the wines are served in very beautiful, but totally impractical stemless glasses. [Glass stems are there to prevent one’s hand effecting a change in the wine’s temperature – a fact lost on most people who insist on holding the “bowl” of a wine glass. Good grief! Sometimes even I’m stunned by my own pomposity!.]







The food is a revelation. I was expecting theme park mediocracy with a healthy twist, but everything is scrummy. I start with a new menu item of Artichoke and Hazelnut Bisque with a Hazelnut Cream. Matt plumps for the Lump Crab Cake with Papaya Slaw and Balsamic Glaze. I opt for the sustainable fish entre (Atlantic Char with Corn and Edamame stew and Saffron Oil), whilst Matt breaks with tradition (NOT!) in his choice of the Angus Chuck Bacon Cheeseburger.









The Wave has blown our expectations out of the water and we leave commenting that we really must try to make it back for dinner one day next week.

Continued below.
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Last edited by UKDEB; 01-11-2009 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 01-11-2009, 05:38 PM   #2
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We decide to make our way back to the BoardWalk via Epcot, so we jump on the monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center before changing for Epcot. Weve only done this journey a few times over the years and its fun to do the loop of Future World before pulling in at the station.





We take our first ride on the remodelled Spaceship Earth. I'm surprised at just how many scenes have changed completely and we both leave with mixed feelings. Judi Dench is very professional, but her narration just doesnt sit right with the nostalgic within me. As Matt says, her voice doesnt have the desired level of gravitas to pull it off. My disquiet reaches a peak as our time vehicle reaches the top. Jeremy Irons uttering the words Or will we use this power to usher in a new age of understanding and co-operation on this, our Spaceship Earth..." never failed to bring a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat, but the new narration leaves me cold. The new ending, though, is great.









Im keen to take a peek inside the IF&WF Festival Center in the old Wonders of Life pavilion. Its strange to see all the old attractions there, untouched, and very un-Disney to let Joe Public witness it. A surreal experience.





We make our way back to the BoardWalk via the International Gateway, stopping at Canada to pick up a Moosehead for Matt and a glass of wine for me. Its so awful, it goes straight in the bin. Even Matt wont drink it!



Were both flagging and succumb to the lure of the Friendship Boat. On the journey, we discuss the evenings activities, conscious of the fact that the itinerary calls for the Animal Kingdom EMH (one of only two evenings during our trip when it will be a possibility and something were both keen to do having never been there after dark) whilst acknowledging that we probably dont have the stamina. When we get back to the room we establish that a couple of small amendments will allow us to attend the following week without compromising the plans and its with some relief that we spend the next few hours watching the unfolding election results on TV.

A couple of hours of slobbing out and we decide that we can probably make it out for a drink. My preference is Crews Cup Lounge at the Yacht Club (a place we love), but Im mindful that Matt has been itching to get to the ESPN Club ever since we arrived and Im not entirely sure my legs will carry me across to the Yacht Club, so ESPN it is. Its quiet here tonight and Id also noticed that Flying Fish Caf was dead as wed passed by. Matt has a few Yeunglings with a couple of Wild Turkey chasers, whilst I enjoy three glasses of chardonnay. We order the medium wings, but Im not feeling them at all, so Matt lucks out. To our surprise, there are no screens showing election results, so we ask the bartender to change the screen in front of us to ABC News Channel 9.

We return to the room at around 10:30pm and head straight for bed.

Postscript: Its been grey all day today with a high of 69F. The cloud didnt lift at all which was fine for walking around, but not great for photos.
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Old 01-11-2009, 08:10 PM   #3
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Fantastic report! I love your Photopass pictures! The Wave sounds like a good place to try (now that - today!- I've booked our flights for our trip in September!).

Looking forward to reading more!
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Old 01-11-2009, 10:19 PM   #4
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I'm certainly impressed with the Churchill park wardrobe. Not only did you choose beautifully compatible outfits to wear for today's photos, Debbie, yours made you look like you belonged in Minnie's sewing room (very matchy-matchy).

I especially like the action Photo Pass shot where you're bravely protecting Matt from Captain Hook.

You know, that Jack Skellington lashed to the gift shop shelf looks suspicioulsy like one in a big box in my garage.

Your comments and photos of the lunch at the Wave certainly make me want to give it a try.

Awfully glad you are writing these reports. They almost make up for the fact that you went without us.
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Old 01-12-2009, 02:12 AM   #5
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The Wave sounds lovely, despite the dodgy wine glass !! i love the disney fairies border you are using
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Old 01-12-2009, 02:31 AM   #6
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Great photopass pics Deb It sounds like you had a lovely day
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Old 01-12-2009, 03:20 AM   #7
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Great day and pictures, not sure about the effect Planet Earth had on matts head though.
He does make a good Captain Jack.
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:06 AM   #8
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great report, lots of fab pics.
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:18 AM   #9
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The wave sounds amazing, and that burger looks great - what was Matt's view of the burger?

And what drink did you throw away in Canada - please don't tell me it was the Moosehead
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Thank you O' great Tag Fairy - You have made this Proud Redhead a very happy bunny!!
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:23 AM   #10
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Lovely report Debs, nice to just please yourself and just absorb the atmosphere in the parks rather than lining up all the time. I am glad your meal was better than expected and it is nice to see places where I have not been.
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Old 01-12-2009, 11:16 AM   #11
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Great pics
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Old 01-12-2009, 12:55 PM   #12
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The Wave looks like a must do for our next trip

Love the pictures taken in Spaceship Earth

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Old 01-12-2009, 01:34 PM   #13
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I'm thirsty just reading these. what a lovely day you both had.


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Old 01-12-2009, 02:02 PM   #14
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I love the micky/minnie snowmen!! soooo cute!
Love DH's shirt
Love you photopass pics
basically i'm just loving your TR
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Old 01-12-2009, 02:48 PM   #15
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Great day Deb.I love your pics,and the Fairies border is great-my girls would love that one.
The food at The Wave looks very delicious .x.
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