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Old 11-05-2010, 09:12 PM   #1531
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Originally Posted by carrie6466 View Post
I just found this yesterday. You are doing a great job, I'm really enjoying it. Can't wait for the next installment.
Thank you! And Welcome! Great to have you along!

Originally Posted by MagicShell View Post
We have never tried Pick a Pearl, but it looks like fun. I like that carriage pendant.
You will have to try it sometime. A great little experience for sure!

Originally Posted by dismagiclover View Post
Great update! My DD loved the Pick a Pearl experience as well. It just makes them feel so special
I agree...such a fun and special experience.

Originally Posted by Queenofallthings View Post
Thanks for sharing that experience...have never had any desire to do that...but we will be doing it now. It sounds so fun! Thanks for the website I love it!!!
Queen, you are too funny. I never meant to talk you into pick a pearl, but I have a feeling both you and Jas might be walking out with some on your next visit.

Originally Posted by kaysmommie View Post
I loved your pick a pearl update and pics . Waiting for more
Hey Nichole! I meant to mention this in my post but I forgot. It was actually your experience with Kaylee a couple years back that convinced me I needed to do this with Katie. Isn't it great when us Dissers share all of our great WDW ideas?

Originally Posted by ladybugmom View Post
How fun!! Ally and I both picked pearls on our last trip!! It was sooo much fun! The ladies that work their are the happiest little things, aren't they?!
I agree...those women are just awesome. They are the ones that make it such a great experience.
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Old 11-06-2010, 07:17 PM   #1532
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Dinner at California Grill

It was my mother-in-law's last night with us, so we ventured off to my absolute favourite restaurant in all of Walt Disney World - California Grill.

As Chris pulled up with the car in front of the Beach Club lobby, the bellman gave us the royal treatment by promptly opening our doors and assisting us into the car.

As you can see, I went pretty frugile with the rental car selection. Any wonder why Katie & I had to take the Magical Express with the luggage?

After a brief car ride, we stepped back inside the Contemporary Lobby and felt a twinge of deja vu. Just 8 days ago we had entered this very Lobby to check into our Tower room overlooking Cinderella's Castle to kick-off our trip. It felt good to be back at the Contemporary. I really love it here. But I certainly hoped that our meal at California Grill would go better than our meal at Chef Mickey's on the first night of our trip!

As we passed through the lobby, out of tradition the kids had to stop to watch the classic cartoons. This is something that we just do as a family. In every Disney lobby we pass through. It's a little piece of Disney that you don't get anywhere else, and a good example of why we keep coming back.

Eventually we made our way upstairs to the check in desk for the restaurant. Can you tell just by looking how pleasant these Cast Members were to us?

Once we checked in at the desk, a host soon appeared to escort us upstairs in the private elevator reserved for the restaurant. They are definitely trying to make this experience feel a whole lot more exclusive than it needs to be. Afterall....anyone can eat here as long as they book the place 180 days in advance.

The decor inside the restaurant is surprisingly not as modern or as hip as you would expect. In fact, it is a bit dated. But fortunately it is on the minimalist side which lets the views, the experience and the food take center stage.

While we expected to cool our heels with a drink from the bar, within a minute or so of arriving inside the restaurant we were called to our table.

Check out the view of Cinderella's Castle from our table:

And Space Mountain:

One of the most travelled people I know, a real "foodie" who has dined at some of the top restaurants in the world, rates California Grill in his top 5. While I have much more modest taste and experiences, the best meals I have ever enjoyed have been at California Grill and the Gramercy Tavern in New York.

To start our meal, we all enjoyed some tasty bread with sea salt butter. Can you see from this picture how good this bread tasted?

I was a little disappointed that they appear to have done away with the vinegar and olive oil. This is how the bread used to be served here:

However, there was a plus side to no more oil and vinegar...I always tend to overeat and fill up on bread when I am dipping it in this lovely mixture.

One of the best parts of my dinners at California Grill is always the sushi. Yoshi Cabral is one of the top sushi chefs in the world, and one of only a handful of female sushi chefs in the United States. She has been with California Grill since it opened. Her signature preparation can be seen in all of the sushi dishes served here.

One of my favourite sushi dishes at California Grill is the Rainbow Crunch. Unfortunately, my last 3 times at California Grill the Rainbow Crunch has not been on the menu. However, on all of these occasions, including our dinner this evening, Yoshi agreed to make it for me. She is amazing!!!

Chris and I both ordered sushi as our appetizers that evening. Mmmmmmm! Here is my Rainbow Crunch:

Still the same amazing sushi, although it was presented a bit differently than when it was a regular feature on the menu:

Here was Chris' sushi:

My mother-in-law decided to order something different, and went with Caesar Salad.

I have been to a number of restaurants which have served Caesars in this manner. Uncut and unmixed. I don't get it. Needless to say, I was very happy to have ordered my sushi!

(Continued next post)

Last edited by cdotla; 11-06-2010 at 09:18 PM.
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Old 11-06-2010, 07:17 PM   #1533
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(Continued from last post)

After our appetizers, we decided to step out on one of the observation decks to see the sights and take some photos.

There is something so magical about seeing those Ferryboats in the background.

Declan being the little "ham" that he is....this is exactly how he "posed" for 95% of the photos with the Roots.

I wish Chris' eyes weren't closed for this picture, or that I had taken a second shot.

Just before heading back to our table, I discovered something in the restaurant that I hadn't noticed before. In the hallway leading to the washrooms, there are a number of framed articles about the restaurant, many focusing primarily on Yoshi. The articles are very interesting to read and highlight the great praise and accolades the California Grill has received since it opened.

Finally, it was time for our main courses. In this most fabulous of restaurants, with some of the most amazing and talented chefs on property, I was strongly encouraging my kids to try something a little different and expand their palates. So what did they order????

Why macaroni and cheese and pizza of course!

In addition to her Caesar salad, my mother-in-law ordered the shrimp salad and also shared some of my meal.

Chris and I both ordered seafood. Delicious as always!

During the course of our meal, our family became fast friends with another family dining closeby consisting of a couple and their daugher, who I believe was around 12 months old. This little girl took a keen interest in my kids, and whenever they would stop talking to her, or turn around in their chairs away from her, she would let out a big screech. Needless to say, the kids spent a lot of time talking to her in between our courses.

After a thoroughly satisfying and delicious meal, it was soon time for dessert. The kids enjoyed Mickey ice cream sundaes, and Chris and I quite enjoyed our desserts as well, sharing with his mother.

(Continued next post)

Last edited by cdotla; 11-06-2010 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 11-06-2010, 07:18 PM   #1534
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(Continued from last post)

Just as we were finishing up our meal, the sun was setting so we all went back out onto the observation deck to watch it go down, and of course, take some more photos.

And just like that...all too quickly that sun was down.

We ventured back downstairs, did some browsing in the shops and stopped to play some games in the arcade. Then we took a short drive back to the Beach Club where we got the kids in their pajamas and headed out onto the balcony for yet another viewing of Illuminations. I could definitely get used to that!

Watching Canada, waiting for the show to start....

Then, it was Showtime!

Once the show was over, we said goodnite to Chris' mom and returned to our room. We tucked the kids in bed, and then I was off, with laptop and car keys in hand.

(Continued next post)

Last edited by cdotla; 11-06-2010 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 11-06-2010, 07:19 PM   #1535
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(Continued from last post)

My usual habit throughout our trip, once the family was in bed, was to slip out and enjoy some downtime on my own. Tonite I was headed back to Downtown Disney to do a little more shopping.

This is yet another reason that I rent a car. If I had to rely on Disney transportation, there is no way I could do all the late-nite shopping I tend to do once the parks close for the night and I get the kiddos tucked into bed. By the time the bus would get me there, DTD would be closed.

Of course I stopped briefly at all my usual haunts:

And then got in a few more stores during this visit:

I was really more browsing than anything else tonite. I think I only made a couple of really small purchases. I just wanted to do one last sweep and make sure there wasn't anything I had overlooked on my previous visits.

While I really wanted to enjoy one last sundae from Ghiradelli before our trip was over, unfortunately I was still too full from dinner.

Eventually I started making my way over to Westside. This was the last photo that I took on the way.

Once in Westside, I browsed through Little Mismatched and D Street, both of which had opened fairly recently and were new to me. Quite frankly, I was underwhelmed by both. And I was completely underwhelmed by Vinylmation. I guess I just don't "get it".

After I finished up at Downtown Disney I headed back to the Beach Club, dug the laptop out of the trunk (perhaps not the best place to store it while I was shopping, but I didn't want to have to venture back to the room and risk waking the family at 12 midnite to get it), and headed to the Beach Club lobby. In addition to not having to worry about disturbing the family while I checked email, news from work, and got caught up on the news into the wee hours of the morning, I was also able to enjoy free internet from the lobby. During 7 of our 8 days at the Beach Club, I was in the lobby at some point between 11pm and 2am each night. Needless to say, I became quite good friends with the night staff.

UP NEXT: Last Day at the Beach Club

Last edited by cdotla; 12-30-2010 at 10:08 PM.
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Old 11-06-2010, 09:36 PM   #1536
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Haha, that's quite a funny reaction that baby had to your kids stopping giving her attention.

What a lovely view from California Grill.
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Old 11-06-2010, 11:16 PM   #1537
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Love love LOVE the pictures from the top of the California Grill!! Especially those at sunset!! I really need to make us an ADR there sometime! It looks incredible!
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Old 11-07-2010, 06:50 AM   #1538
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I love Cali Grill too! Glad to hear it did not disappoint!
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Old 11-07-2010, 04:10 PM   #1540
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We loved California Grille and look forward to going back in Jan! Yum sushi!

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Old 11-08-2010, 09:53 AM   #1541
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CaliGrill food looks so yummy! Do you know if it take two dining credits for this restaurant on the DDP? I might look into getting an ADR for our trip but didn't want to use 2 credits (I'm lazy - guess I could look at the DDP brochure ) Plus I imagine it would be hard to reserve this late in the game.
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:06 AM   #1542
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In all the times we have gone... I have never really done the signature dining.. I always thought my kids wouldn't enjoy it but I may rethink it. I ove your idea of shopping when they had gone to bed. I just drug mine around cranky. I'm going to definetly leave them with DH next time and go. So do all of the hotel lobbys have free internet?
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Old 11-08-2010, 12:59 PM   #1543
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I love this trip report i just started reading it but I will definitely continue!

Quick Question though - What kind of camera do you have? The pictures are beautiful! Do you like that camera and do you recommend it? And how big is it? (like portable or on the bigger size?) and do you edit the photos? they come out so clear and beautifully!

Last edited by Disneyfreak508; 11-08-2010 at 09:01 PM.
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Old 11-08-2010, 01:53 PM   #1544
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thanks for another wonderful update, We have yet to try California Grill which my husband and I love sushi and our 5 yr old loves California rolls and edemame. We always go to CR ever trip b/c our son first trip we stayed at GF and he loves taking the monorail ever evening and stoping at CR to the arcade (he did not like the GF arcade). So ever trip we must ride the monorail (even if we don't stay at the monorail resort) and stop at CR to walk around and play at the arcade.
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Old 11-08-2010, 04:09 PM   #1545
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Wow!!! Nice update!!! I really loved your photos...seems you all had a really great time ( and great food too...). I also love to go to DTD when the rest of the family is asleep..it's great to have some "ME" time...
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