Thursday, October 23, 2014

Trip Report: October 11th-October 17th 2014 - Part 2

by Nick

Sunday October 12th

I didn't sleep as well as I would have like, but I've gotten by on less.

We headed down to Cape May Cafe with hopes of getting in without an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR), and were told we would be called when they opened at 7:30, and we were indeed.

We were lucky enough to get a a truly wonderful Cast Member, Adrienne, as our server. She was a delight.

We'd never had breakfast here before, but everything was very good, my favorites being the French Toast.

We got photos with Minnie, Donald, and Goofy.

Stop back for a full review of Cape May's breakfast buffet in the future.

Our Magical Express pick-up for transfer to Cape Canaveral was scheduled for 11:30-11:45, and by now it was 9, so we decided to take it easy and took a walk around the resort. I contacted my friend and fellow blogger, Lisa, who was visiting Walt Disney World at the same time, and we decided to just stop by Disney's Hollywood Studios to say hello. As it was very hot already, we hopped a Friendship Boat and took a ride over to the Studios where we met and spent some time talking to Lisa and her husband Raymond.

We hopped another boat back to the Yacht and Beach Club, and met other cruisers in the Solarium, where we were brought to our bus at almost exactly 11:45. Can you tell I was excited?

It seemed like a fast trip, and before we knew it, we were there.

Check in was very quick. We were greeted by a Cast Member who asked if we were Castaway Club Members, meaning we had sailed previously with Disney Cruise Line. We were, so we were directed to an even shorter line, and before we knew it, we were walking through the Mickey Head entryway and onto the Disney Dream!

As a bonus, it was exactly 1:30 when we boarded, and our stateroom was ready!
We had a Category 8D stateroom, number 5016. 

We dropped off our luggage and headed up to Cabanas, the buffet, for lunch and a tropical drink.

Like Cape May's Breakfast Buffet, I'll be doing a much more in depth review with many photos of Cabanas, and the Dream in general in future posts, we took A LOT of photos.

After eating we wandered around the ship, getting to know it, while we waited for the 4 o'clock mandatory life boat drill.

Doesn't everyone look excited to be at the drill?

After the drill we went up to deck 12 to watch the Sailing Away Party. The crew comes out and asks us to celebrate with Mickey and the gang, who then join them on stage.

We returned to our cabin, showered and got ready for dinner, and headed down to the Walt Disney Theater. We were unable to get the Main seating, so we went to the 6:15 show of Villains Tonight, one of the live Broadway type shows offered on the Disney Cruise Line ships.

It's an...interesting show. It stars Hades and his sidekicks Pain and Panic from Hercules as well as several other Disney Villains.
Hades sends out invitations to other villains to help him to bring up the evil quotient in the Underworld, or he will be evicted as ruler.
There are some unusual and not often used villains, such as Yzma from the Emporer's New Groove, a film, I confess, I am not a fan of.
The show had it's entertaining moments, but we wouldn't bother seeing it again.

After the show, we caught a portion of the show in front of the Pumpkin Tree in the Lobby Atrium, part of Halloween on the High Seas.

Guests are invited by the Haunted Mansion's caretaker to add "pumpkin seeds" to a bucket (the "seeds" made of paper, were handed out to each person after the Villains Tonight show) to help pumpkins grow on the tree.

Our rotational dining this evening, at 8:15 was in the Enchanted Garden.

One positive of second seating, which is much later than we are accustomed to eating,  was that second seating was not as crowded or noisy as main seating.

To start, we both had the Applewood Smoked Bacon and Wild Mushroom Tart, which was very good.

We also both got the Ahi Tuna and Avocado Tower, which was excellent.

For our entrees, I got the Caramelized Sea Scallops with Asparagus and Sun Dried Tomato Cous-Cous. I really enjoyed the Scallops, but the Cous Cous, really, not good.
Barbie got Pearl Barley Cakes. They were awful, almost flavorless.

For dessert, I had the Date Pudding, which was pretty good.

Barbie, not wanting to risk being disappointed again, went with a can't fail Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar.

This had been a long day, but we decided to stay up, and at 10:30, went to see Nightmare Before Christmas in 4D in the Walt Disney Theater.

The movie was shown in 3D, the 4D was in the lighting, effects, such as fake snow, and at the end, Jack Skellington himself came up out of the stage. 
Afterwards, he took photos and signed autographs. 

It was a long tiring day, and we had no trouble at all falling asleep that evening.

Please stop back tomorrow for Part 3

Part 1 of my trip report can be found here:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Disney Visa Chase Lounge at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival

By Nick

Like last year, this years Epcot International Food & Wine Fests Chase Lounge, which is exclusively for cardmembers, is located on the third floor in the American Adventure pavilion in World Showcase.

Present your card, and either take an elevator or climb the 3 flights. Space is limited, so they admit only a certain amount of people at a time. We only waited a few moments before going up.

There are machines dispensing free Coke products, as well as coffee or tea.

You can also purchase alcoholic beverages.

I highly recommend the Einstok Icelandic White Ale.

Seating is limited, but it is a welcome break from the heat regardless. You can also charge your cell phone here.

The Lounge is open from 11am-9pm on Sunday through Thursday and 11am-10pm on Friday and Saturday during the festival.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Trip Report: October 11th-October 17th 2014 - Part 1

by Nick 

Saturday, October 11th

If you follow the blog or our Facebook page, you'll know I suffer from TETSS. Too Excited to Sleep Syndrome. Well, for once, I followed my own advise, and actually managed to get a good night's sleep, despite waking up at 3:00am to get showered and ready for our 4:00am airport shuttle pickup.

Our flight departed from the Philadelphia International Airport at 6:30am, and we were actually 20 minutes early. We fly Southwest Airlines almost exclusively.

We were loaded on our Magical Express bus very quickly, there was barely a line at 9:00am, but we did wait about 15 minutes for more people to load before we were on our way to the Beach Club Villas.

As soon as we checked in, we left our carry on luggage with bell services and headed for Epcot. First stop, the Refreshment Port located by the entryway to World Showcase, where Barbie had a Croissant Donut.

I only had a bite, as I was saving my appetite for the International Food and Wine booths.
We headed for the Festival Center, located at the old Wonders of Life Pavilion in Future World.

We browsed around, and made a couple of purchases. I decided that, as it was a very hot day, a nice cool beverage was in order, so I bought a beer at the Intermissions Cafe located conveniently right there next to the merchandise section! The Einstok Icelandic White Ale is a favorite new find.

We then headed back towards World Showcase as food kiosks were just opening. First stop was New Zealand, where I had the Lamb Meatball and the Green Lip Mussels. The Mussels were a little dry, and tough perhaps because of all the breadcrumbs; but the meatball was excellent! A really strong start, and one of my favorites from the festival. 

Next we visited the Farm Fresh stand, where we sampled both selections they had to offer, the Pepper Bacon Hash, and the "Yard Bird," which is chicken.

The Hash was pretty good, the yard bird, meh. I also had a couple of beers: Duke's Cold Nose Brown Ale and Orlando Brewing's I-4 IPA. Both...meh. I'm not a big brown ale fan, and this IPA was unimpressive. At least the Cast Members at this booth were high energy and fun.

Next stop, Germany, where Barbie picked up the Berliner-Yeast Doughnut filled with Apricot Jam. It was pretty good, but could not compare to the Croissant Donut. I had a beer from the Brewer's Collection, the Braufactum Palor, a pale ale. Not bad, nothing to write home about.

It was now well past noon, and HOT. So, yes, I was in need of another beer. I got the Snapshot from New Belgium Brewing at Hops & Barley. This was at least better than the previous 3 beers I'd had, but, not in the same league as that Einstok from earlier in the day.

We were lucky to have found a shady spot and enjoyed a slight breeze off of the beautiful World Showcase Lagoon. 

Our next kiosk was one I'd missed last year, Brazil, and I got the Crispy Pork Belly. It was very good, not as great as I'd hoped. I think I'd hyped it up in my own head to a level that nothing short of excellent could have truly satisfied me. Yes, I really like pork. I also had a Xingu Black Beer, which was actually very nice.

If you've been keeping track, I'd had many beers that day, and it was about 130 degrees, and I really needed a swim. Luckily, I was sent a text that our room was ready. A quick change into our bathing clothes, and we were off to my favorite pool in all of Walt Disney World, Storm-along Bay.

We spent a few hours here and at the resort before heading back to Epcot in the evening for more food. 

When we arrived, it being a lovely Saturday evening, Epcot was absolutely jam packed.

Barbie said she wanted fish and chips, so off to the United Kingdom we went. There was barely a line at the Yorkshire County Fish Shop, as everyone was sampling the F & W booths. We ate overlooking the Lagoon.

We then headed for France. The line for this kiosk looked to be about as long as the queue for Soarin', so we headed around World Showcase, and stopped at Italy. 

I had the Filetto di Pollo, or Chicken with Marsala Sauce. It sounds like a simple dish, but it was delicious, especially the mushrooms and sauce. I also had a Moretti La Rossa. I've had regular Moretti Lager, and was not impressed, but this Doppelbock was much better, highly recommended.

Our last stop of the evening was Singapore, where we had the Mahi Mahi and Jasmine Rice. The fish was very moist and the rice and "Singa" sauce was as good as it smelled. An excellent dish.

Walking back towards the International Gateway, we made a short side trip the the Chase Lounge located at the American Adventure Pavilion. Stop back tomorrow for more details on this very nice feature for Disney Visa card holders.

On our way out of the park for the evening, we decided to watch Impressions de France, and I'm really glad we did, because on the way out, we spotted our friends Marilyn and Peter in the shop! We met this lovely couple on our first Disney Cruise back in 2012. It was a really great surprise, and a wonderful end to a wonderful day.