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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Williams Family Does The Highway In The Sky Dine Around

Two years ago, Highway in the Sky Dine Around debuted.  We were intrigued and had attempted to book this progressive dinner option ever since but the timing was off.  During March 2018, the event was available, so were we, and there was room in the budget.  We were all set!

Know that as of this post, the event is offered on select nights Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  The cost is $170 per person plus tax regardless of age.  If memory serves, there was an Annual Passholder discount.  Guests must be 21 to consume alcohol and the minimum age is 12. Note that Valet Parking at The Contemporary is included with the price of the event.  Just provide confirmation number at the security gate. Click here to be taken to the official Walt Disney World page to read more about Highway in the Sky Dine Around.

First stop was The Wave of American Flavors restaurant at The Contemporary Resort.  The Wave is located on the ground floor or first floor of The Contemporary.  We had finished a tour at the Magic Kingdom, so chose to walk.  Our time to check-in was shortly before 6:00 pm.  The times may vary depending on Magic Kingdom fireworks times. 

Upon check-in we were given special lanyards that indicated we were on the tour along with name tags.

Within a few minutes of checking in, we each received a drink--pictured above, along with a small cup of soup. We were greeted by The Wave's manager and chef and learned about a steak that they cook that can be cut with a fork.  We're testing that theory on our next trip! (The boy was offered a selection of beverages including soda.)

In our group of less than 40 guests, we made our way up the escalator and through the security check prior to the monorail.  Once all the guests were through security, the monorail stopped and we were allowed to bypass guests and load a car that was reserved just for us.  Note that this was the only time we had to go through monorail security.  The resort monorail stopped at the TTC, but our car doors did not open.  There were three Cast Members that went with us and stayed with us throughout the entire night.
Our next stop was the Polynesian Village Resort.  There was a group of tables ready for us just to the right of the entrance from the monorail.  Had we walked further, we would have entered Moana's store.
The tables had flower leis for the guests and we were treated to live music.  Most of the tables were standing tables, although there was one table with chairs. 
Maitais for the adults and the boy had a non alcoholic pina colada.    He didn't like it so got soda instead.  We got a refill on the maitai!

Appetizers were on the menu.  What I do remember is that the purple substance on the bottom on the right was a yam appetizer that was yummy! 

Since we were on a time schedule--fireworks were the finale--we were given a signal to indicate that we had 5 minutes before making our way to the monorail.  We passed security and made our way past the other guests to a car reserved just for us.  Other doors to the monorail did not open until we were secure and it was the same when we were dropped off. 
Citricos at the Grand Floridian was our next stop and it was time for the main course.  Citricos is located on the second floor of the Grand Floridian.  It is to the far left for anyone exiting the monorail.  We were seated with other guests and enjoyed the meal.

Adults could choose between a red wine and a white moscato.  I asked to taste both and decided that the moscato was the favorite.
When our main course was done, we left Citricos and headed downstairs to the Garden View Tea Room.

At the Garden View Tea Room, we were treated to champagne and an assortment of cheeses and other treats.

After the champagne course, we made our way back upstairs at the Grand Floridian.  We did have a few moments to enjoy the lobby and listen to the live band.  It was time for us to take the monorail again.  While the resort monorail stopped at the Magic Kingdom, we stayed on!
Our final stop was The Contemporary, specifically the fourth floor viewing deck.  There were chairs, a great view, and the monorail track just above us.
A variety of desserts were available as were dessert drinks including various coffers, Bailey's, etc.  Since it was a chillier night, blankets were available for us! 
We watched the Happily Ever After fireworks show from our warm, cozy, and uncrowded location!  Other guests, not on the tour with us, attempted to use the viewing area and were not allowed to join us.  
We all got special chocolates to take with us as we said good-by to our hosts.

For us to get back to our resort--Coronado Springs--we took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom and then a bus back to our resort.  We could have walked to the Magic Kingdom, too. 

We all give this a two thumbs up.  We enjoyed the new foods and the new experience. This is something we would do again.

It is helpful to know that there is a dress code.  We were wearing collared shirts and the guys had on dress shorts while I was wearing capris.  We didn't feel under dressed although there were other guests in dresses and dress pants.

What I find humorous is that I had the idea for this adventure in 2011.  I had just read Mousejunkies.  The author had suggested turning a monorail car into a dining car and I took that idea and made it a progressive meal.  Click here if you want to read my idea.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Please Don't Make Me Choose!

 I was posed a well-meaning question last week:  "What do you like better: Walt Disney World or a Disney Cruise?"

Oh, that question is so hard, please don't make me choose!  My response was more like, "They are very different experiences. It is hard to choose."  That seemed to satisfy the question asker, but it got me thinking. . .

Why is it is so hard to choose?  Mostly because there are great things about both types of Disney vacations!

What's tops for us about Walt Disney World?
  • 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, 2 miniature gold courses, and a shopping/dining/entertainment district available to us.  
  • We can tour like warriors or go at a slower pace--choice is ours.
  • Fireworks, somewhere, EVERY NIGHT!
  • Food!
  • Photos and making memories.
  • Trying new attractions, restaurants, or experiences each trip.
  • Being very familiar with the parks and resorts, making parts of our trip easier.
  • Disney Characters!

What's tops for us about Disney Cruise Line?
  • Beautiful ships!
  • Food!  (The husband was teasing me last night about how I sometimes order from the soup/salad/appetizer side of the menu only, not getting an entrĂ©e, as I want to try everything.)
  • Being rocked to sleep by the sea.
  • Leisurely pace.
  • More independence for the boy on the ship.
  • We can do something familiar that we have done before OR we can choose new experiences such as port adventures.
  • Photos and making memories.
  • Fireworks--at least one night!
  • Disney Characters!

On either type of Disney vacation, we get the coveted Disney service, excellent entertainment, and cleanliness.  

So, please don't ask me which I like better.  I just can't choose.  And, luckily, on our next Disney vacation I don't have to as we get to do both!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Williams Family Trying Land Then Sea for the First Time

With our 20thish Walt Disney World Vacation and 9th Disney Cruise approaching in a few weeks, we are trying something different this time--land first, sea second.

On other combo Walt Disney World/Disney Cruise Line vacations, we have done the sea portion first, for a variety of reasons:
  • The sea part is more expensive--want to take care of that first.
  • It takes a great portion of a day to get on the ship than get off--leaving more land time on the same day.
  • Do not want soar feet while on the ship.
  • Knowing we are headed to Walt Disney World makes leaving the ship easier.
Despite these logical reasons, we are flipping the land/sea for our upcoming trip, having a week at Walt Disney World before embarking on the Disney Dream.

There were some events that prompted the change.  One was that now that the boy is getting older, he has summer commitments and if we wanted to do both Walt Disney World and a Disney Cruise, we would have to put Walt Disney World before the cruise, OR move the cruise.  We decided to move Walt Disney World in order for him to return home in a timely manner.  The other was the change in port transfer procedures at the airport.  The last two times that we have used the Disney Cruise Line port transfers from the airport, there has been a bit of chaos and folks gather.  Giving our plans a bit more thought, the prospect of skipping this part of our trip was enticing! 

Based on these reasons, we changed our flights; now flying a week sooner, and booked our Walt Disney World stay for a week prior to our cruise.

We are still relying on Disney Cruise Line transfers to get us to the port, but instead of being taken from the airport, we will be picked up at our resort.  I understand that I will be assigned a pick-up time at our resort.  No jockeying for a place in line at the airport!

But what about the logical reasons stated above for sea THEN land?

Knowing we are headed to Walt Disney World makes leaving the ship easier.  Well, we are headed BACK to Walt Disney World for just a couple of days after disembarking the ship, so it will be easier to leave the ship knowing we still have more of our vacation to look forward to.

Do not want soar feet while on the ship.  I'm taking a risk with this one.  All I can say is that there is less walking while on the cruise and that the white sand of Castaway Cay will provide comfort/relief if indeed there is a toll taken on the feet.

It takes a great portion of a day to get on the ship than get off--leaving more land time on the same day.  This is still true.  Although, knowing what time we are being picked up at our resort gives us some time to plan for and use as we like.  A leisurely breakfast, a dip in the pool, are possibilities of how we can make the most of our morning.

The sea part is more expensive--want to take care of that first.  Again, still true.  What is different is the need for cash.  The ship is basically "cashless" except for tips for room service and shore excursions.  We have on board charges put on our Disney Visa which we pay in full when we get home.  While at Walt Disney World, we use cash for tips for meals using the Dining Plan, tips for luggage handling, and other purchases.  With this logical, the portion of our trip needing the most cash, Walt Disney World, will be first.

Whether or not I have convinced you is less relevant than I have convinced myself that what we are about to do will be a good thing and all will go smoothly!