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 confused3 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 entrée (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.