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Old 11-11-2012, 10:31 PM   #1441
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Great updates. I just love the pictures of Maddie with the Princesses. You can just see how much she eats it up.

Mr. Mark says that Maddie looks awesome in the racoon hat...good job, Maddie.

The photopass pictures of the three of you are great too.
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Old 11-12-2012, 11:05 AM   #1442
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shan23877 View Post
She was no hug ‘em sign ‘em move ‘em on their way gal. And so we waited. In the blazing mid day Florida sun. For 45 minutes.

From the point of view of the five year old, the wait was well worth it. She had a lovely chat with Ms. White and got many hugs and compliments.
Well, it is a shame that you had to waste so much time waiting in line, but at least the better than average character experience makes it worthwhile.


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Originally Posted by shan23877 View Post
The computer showed that we still had all of the remaining credits that we were supposed to have and she gave me no better explanation for the mixup other than “I don’t know why the receipt says that. You have all your credits”. She also gave off the vibe that she thought I was more than a little crazy. (I may be, but didn’t really appreciate her insinuating as much)
Well, you know, math in Italy is so much different than it is here.

I'm sorry the manager was difficult about it. Hopefully, they didn't overcharge you and this won't come back to haunt you.
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Old 11-13-2012, 04:58 PM   #1444
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I am loving your TR! Your daughter is adorable. My husband and I are heading to Disney next month - he just turned 50 and he's never been! I haven't been in years so we are really looking forward to it. I'm learning so much from your report, thanks for taking the time to write it
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Old 11-14-2012, 06:19 PM   #1445
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Love all the character interactions. Was Maddie ever afraid of characters? I'm afraid DS is going to be... He'll be 4 when we go.

I hope your Dining Credits were right in the end!
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Old 11-16-2012, 09:45 PM   #1446
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Yikes - I've been totally MIA. Sorry.

Loved all the princess meet-and-greet pics. So cute! And what a fun time in World Showcase. Soooo wish I was there........

Hope all is well with you and your family, Shannon. Haven't talked in ages.
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:08 AM   #1447
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The One With the California Grill

We were back at CBR in no time, and Maddie was pleased to see that her guys had been behaving nicely in her absence.




Bryan and I had agreed to some pool time, and on this day Bryan and I took turns swimming with Maddie and soaking our very tired feet in the hot tub. After about an hour at the pool returned to the room where we offered Maddie the iPad and took the opportunity to squeeze in a power nap. Refreshed, we showered, put on our fanciest vacation clothes and headed to dinner.


Who can resist a photo shoot at the fountain (or accesorizing with a plastic lei for that matter?)


[/CENTER]

20 minutes after we got to the bus stop we caught a MK bus. On our way to dinner we popped into the Magic Kingdom and hit the Emporium. Maddie’s beloved BBB shoes from the previous year had gotten a little snug, and she felt that they needed to be replaced. We stopped for a quick PP shot (which was awful and not worth sharing) before leaving.


We took the short walk to the Contemporary Resort, and arrived at the second floor in short order. Dinner this evening would be our first true Signature Meal.

We checked in at the desk on the second floor of the CR, and our stroller was quickly taken to the ‘stroller valet’ area.


I loved these light fixtures above the check in desk



Next to the private elevator



We waited for about 5 minutes and then we were escorted by a friendly CM onto the private Cali Grill elevator. Our CM friend dropped us off and we got our first glimpse of the California Grill.




As you get off the elevator, the bar will be about 20 feet in front of you on the left. The restaurant spreads out around the bar and the far wall is comprised entirely of windows. We were seated on the coveted right side of the room, but I can’t believe that there’s a bad view in the house. From our table, I was looking directly across the Seven Seas Lagoon at the Grand Floridian (and the sun setting behind it), and Maddie was staring straight at her beloved castle. Poor Bryan was stuck looking at me.

Our server arrived quickly and took our drink orders. Once he’d delivered them we began to order. The menu at the California Grill changes daily, featuring the most seasonal fruit, vegetables, and seafood available. Maddie started with fresh fruit (again), I chose the 3 cheese flatbread with sundried tomato, and fresh basil pesto. Bryan was torn between the sushi of the day, the flatbreads, and the wild mushroom gnocchi but in the end the gnocchi won out.


The Fruit



The Gnocchi



The Flatbread



Bryan and I were nice and shared tastes of our appetizers, and we agreed that both were amazing. Maddie ate most of her fruit, so I can only assume that she enjoyed it.

When ordering we’d consulted our server because I simply couldn’t decide between the featured fish entrée and the filet mignon. The server (who was entirely professional and knowledgeable) simply said “The filet has been voted best in Florida for the last 5 years”. Now I don’t know if that’s true, but I ordered it anyway. I may not be the most sophisticated foodie, but I know good steak so I was eager to see how it stacked up against some of the best beef that the Midwest has to offer. Bryan was swayed by the “best in Florida” sales pitch as well (we were on the DDP, so we weren’t worried that he was just trying to get us to order more), and Maddie shocked us by choosing macaroni and cheese over the child’s steak that was offered. She was behaving beautifully, so we chose not to push.

Our server delivered our bread once he’d cleared our starters, and without making a fuss about one of us being 5 years old, also dropped off a bowl of goldfish crackers along with it. It was a touch that delighted our little princess (and her dad).

We enjoyed watching the gorgeous sunset as we waited, and as it began to get dark Maddie became enchanted with the view. We asked for a booster seat so that she could see the lights of the castle change a little more ease.






















Our entrees arrived shortly after the sun set. Bryan and I had chosen the Teriyaki Glazed Filet Mignon served over asparagus and accompanied by Truffled Smashed Potatoes.




The verdict? While I would have preferred my steak with out the glaze, there was no denying that this was one excellent cut of beef. It was tender, unbelievably lean, and very flavorful. The potatoes were delicious, and the asparagus was perfectly cooked.

Maddie was a little too taken with the view to enjoy her meal, but that’s okay. She was still being a very, very good little princess.




Finally it was time to order dessert. We wanted to order 3 different items so that we could all try them. It was somewhat difficult to find anything that was chocolate free for Bryan, but we ended up with the sugar free option- Peaches & Cream – fresh peaches, olive oil cake, vanilla panna cotta, and vanilla ice cream, Heather’s Cookie Plate – hot chocolate milk “cappucino”, and a selection of fresh baked cookies, and Rice Krispy Sushi—cereal treats wrapped up with fruit leather and Swedish fish to resemble sushi accompanied by marshmallow wasabi and fondant pickled ginger.




I was a little dubious about the sugar free Peaches and Cream. Peaches aren’t my favorite fruit, and sugar free (healthy) isn’t usually something I seek out when ordering dessert. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I took my first bite.

The olive oil cake was moist and flavorful and overall superb, but the dish was perfect when all of the components were eaten together. Bryan and I agreed that it was the best dessert we’ve ever had-at Disney or anywhere. The Cookie plate was good, but didn’t live up to the whimsical description. The sushi was both adorable and tasty. Maddie thought that it was really, really funny.










We settled up with our server (bill was $205—yay DxDP!!) and he invited us to enjoy the observation deck for as long as we’d like. Since it was just 9 pm, we didn’t plan to watch Wishes from there but we wandered outside to enjoy the view anyway. It was simply breathtaking. I would love to end a lovely meal by seeing Wishes from that location some day.

I’ve obviously not been to the California Grill since the renovations, but I would make a reservation there again in a heartbeat. The food, service, and location were all top notch. Bryan and I really enjoyed having a more adult dinner after a week of character meals, but surprisingly Maddie says that she really enjoyed it too! Please don’t be afraid to dine here with your little ones (there were several children there), but it would be an excellent place to enjoy a little adults only time too. We’ll be back at the California Grill sooner rather than later, and I for one can’t wait.

Finally we used the restrooms and hit the private elevator to be escorted downstairs. While we waited for the valet to return our princess’s carriage, we had ourselves a little photoshoot.










We walked slowly toward the bus stops at the Magic Kingdom and found a bus waiting for us when we arrived. Unfortunately it was packed with a group of teens (a choral group I assume) who appeared to be travelling unchaperoned. When the driver played the princess announcement as Maddie entered, the all SHRIEKED at the top of their lungs and looked around frantically to see what princess would be joining them for a trip to CBR. Maddie was the one who finally had to point out to them that SHE was the princess.

As we made the longish trip back to CBR, the teens began to sing along with one of the young men who’d begun to play the ukulele (why oh why would anyone bring a ukulele to the Magic Kingdom?). They sang loudly for the entire trip. Across the aisle from us was a teen girl who was not a part of that group, and she looked mortified that anyone would do that- and so did her parents. I actually felt sorry for them because they were wearing First Visit buttons, and I really didn’t want those inconsiderate kids to be their first impression of Disney.

After what seemed like an eternity we arrived back to the peace and quiet of Aruba. One of us was paying the price for skipping nap time.




We got her into her PJs and settled into bed to watch a little TV before turning in. We set our alarms for 5:45 am for our last morning at WDW.




I promise that I'll be back tomorrow to do replies from all of your comments (I really appreciate all of them!). I wanted to get all of it done tonight, but unfortunately I've been getting the update together while piecing a quilt, uploading pictures for calendars, and trying to get our Christmas cards together. Sometimes multi-tasking backfires. I promise to get caught up soon!
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Old 11-20-2012, 02:49 AM   #1448
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great pictures!! what beautiful views. we have eaten at clif. grill once, and really loved it. we were there at just the right time. I think we watched wishes form the observation area, after the entree and before our dessert. it was great.

maddie looked pretty, as always!!!

so sorry about the loud teens on the bus ride back. I know kids like to have fun, but it sure would be nice if they consider everyone else. esp. when you are all cramped together, and everyone is tired.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:02 AM   #1449
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Yay for a wonderful meal at CG!!! We loved it there as well, I'm curious to see what the renovations will bring! Maddie's dessert sushi is awesome!!
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:55 AM   #1450
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Great pictures of Maddie, as usual The flowers at EP are absolutely gorgeous!! We've only been to the F&G Festival once and loved it. Now that all the kids are in school, it's hard to get away in May.

Cali Grill is one of our favorite signatures. And you're so right...the view is beautiful at sunset. The sushi dessert is adorable!! The first time the waiter recommended it to the kids, I was a bit skeptical. Yall's dessert looks heavenly, too!! Yay for the DxDp!! We've always found it to be a really good deal for our family since we like the signatures. Do you think you will do again on future trips??

Looking forward to more!
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:03 AM   #1451
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Oh my word! The views from the California Grill are amazing and that's coming from someone who's deathly afraid of high places. The food looks pretty darn good as well. Yep, I think that I'd suffer through my fear of heights in order to eat one of those scrumptuous looking steaks.
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:29 AM   #1452
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Oh my....that meal does look very good. I will have to work on Mark in bringing a nicer shirt and a pair of khaki's so we can go there (he hates dressing up on vacation).

Love how Maddie seemed to be enjoying herself and how sweet of the waiter to bring her goldfish crackers.

Ugh....that must have been a very unpleasant bus ride.
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:17 PM   #1453
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My gosh, that steak looks delectable! The flatbread doesn't look half bad either! I've done Cali Grill twice, and both times were awesome, so glad to see that you also had a great experience, Disney meals can be so hit or miss sometimes.

I also tend to stay away from fruit based desserts (I don't want anything healthy impinging upon my indulgence) but your description of the peaches cake may make me change my mind!

It also cracks me up that Maddie's idea of "business casual" attire is a princess wedding dress and a pink lei. I just love her sense of style!
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:30 PM   #1454
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So glad you had a great meal at California Grill...It's consistently one of my favorites (withstanding the service issues I had last trip.)

Jill in CO
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Old 11-20-2012, 02:26 PM   #1455
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Cali grill looks so awesome!! The view is great too!! I'm glad you guys enjoyed it! I would definitely love to have a meal there and finish it off with wishes from the deck! Awesome!

UGH! I'm pretty sure we encountered those teenagers at a few points too...
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