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Old 10-09-2012, 05:15 AM   #1
steve76
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Highs and Lows - Deluxe Split Stay Food and Wine Backstage Goodness!

Just back from two weeks of split-stay, deluxe food and wine goodness! Here are my highs and lows:

Lows:

- Immigration at Orlando International Airport. It took TWO HOURS to get through immigration alone, and nearly an hour to get through security coming back.

- Le Cellier (dinner). We were seated 1h15m after our reservation time. I know that waits like this aren't uncommon, but when you make a reservation 6 months ahead of time, and they tell you to arrive 15 minutes in advance and that they'll charge you if you don't show up, they should seat you fairly promptly. It would have been OK if someone had actually apologised for it, but they didn't. When we were seated, the restaurant was maybe a quarter empty. There were tables that sat unused throughout our meal. (There was also a group of 5 adults sat at a very cramped table for 4, when there was a perfectly good table for 5 next door not being used...). The cheddar cheese soup nearly blew our heads off (I don't know if it was chillies, or just lots of pepper, but it completely dominated the soup). The soup at the Food and Wine Festival outside was nicer. The rest of the meal was OK. Overall, a slightly disappointing meal. I had assumed that they had raised their game when it became 2 credits for dinner, but it appears they have not. In no way is this worth 2 credits in my opinion.

Highs:

- Magical Express. This was the first time we used it. It was utterly painless. No queue to check in, then walked straight on to the bus, waited about 5 minutes and then we were on our way. The bus was maybe 1/5 full.

- Backstage Magic Tour (the full-day coach tour) was excellent. We saw the American Adventure, the greenhouses where they create the topiaries, Tower of Terror, wardrobes, the parade at Animal Kingdom, central workshops and had lunch at Wilderness Lodge. At the end we watched the MK parade and then did the Utilidors. Really interesting.

- Fort Wilderness Segway Tour. Good fun, and it was great to see Fort Wilderness. Definitely the least polished of all the tours I've done, but worth doing. Saw plenty of wild deer on the path between FW and Wilderness Lodge.

- Animal Kingdom Lodge. What an amazing hotel. We requested a high floor, towards the end of one of the trails. We got what we considered to be the perfect location. Fourth floor, at the end of the block jutting out of the end of the Kudu Trail. Great view over the savannah. At the end of the building, so we had the extra-large balcony above us, providing extra shelter and shade. We were not overlooked by any other rooms - all we could see was savannah. We were on the corner, so we could also see out in the other direction, and we had an extra hallway which gave us plenty of room to leave our suitcases open on the floor. We also LOVED Boma breakfast. We were so sad to leave, as we thought the Boardwalk couldn't possibly be as nice.

- Doing a split stay was very easy. We packed up our bags, hopped in a taxi to the Boardwalk, and despite being only 11am, our room was ready. It couldn't have been any easier.

- Boardwalk Inn. We were upgraded to a water view (overlooking the lawn in front of the lobby). We were a little concerned about noise, but we didn't really hear any noise at night. Beautiful hotel, very elegant. Great location for Epcot and DHS. The only slightly weird thing was that it was less convenient to use the refillable mugs, because you have to go into the Bakery, Sweet Shop or Pizza Window to use them, which usually meant queueing for quite a while. They also don't fill the mugs, they just give you disposable cups. You could get coffee from the cart on the Boardwalk, but it wasn't always open. A couple of days before leaving, we asked if there was any chance of a late checkout, and they gave us a late checkout time of 1.30pm with no problem. Overall, I wouldn't hesitate to stay there again. Superb.

- Food and Wine Festival was fun. We avoided the opening weekend and went on Monday-Wednesday, where the crowds were quite manageable. Great use of snack credits.

- Eating gluten-free was a breeze. In fact I think it was even easier than last time. Nearly everyone was very helpful (particularly Flying Fish) - the only one that wasn't very helpful was Le Cellier. Asking the CMs at the Food and Wine Festival was a bit hit-and-miss, though - some people (including at the info desk at the Food and Wine Festival) claiming that there were NO Gluten Free dishes, whilst some chefs were happy to point out what dishes were GF. I see that they now have a dedicated GF map for the festival (they didn't have it when we were there).

- Surprise hits of the trip: Yak and Yeti, Sanaa, La Hacienda de San Angel, and Boma Breakfast. We had quite a few Signature restaurants booked for this trip (since we were doing the Deluxe Dining Plan) but this time round we all agreed that we enjoyed the 'regular' restaurants more for some reason. Sanaa was lovely (I had the 'slow cooked in gravy' - I was expecting curries but they were more like stews). Word of warning - the dishes labelled as 'spicy' weren't, and those that weren't, were!

Overall, a great trip.
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:30 PM   #2
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Glad you had such a fantastic time
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Old 10-09-2012, 04:59 PM   #3
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Sounds wonderful! Glad you had such a good time And thanks for the tip about Sanaa 'curries'
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Old 10-10-2012, 01:24 PM   #4
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sounds like a totally fab holiday.
Welcome home.
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Old 10-17-2012, 03:07 PM   #5
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Interesting tips thanks
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:39 AM   #6
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Sounds like an amazing trip!

We too loved Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boma (though it was dinner), and Sanaa!
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