Disney World tips

Not sure I’d want to drink anything from a place called Joffrey’s.

So, like, where’s part 2? I have to know what happened with the GotG ride!

Writers strike.

Classic artificial cliffhanger bs. I’m dropping my subscription to this streaming service. Once I find the ‘unsubscribe’ button on the damn web site.

Off to play pinball tonight. I will continue tomorrow.

It’s next to the Like button.

Its a good point. The advantage of Starbucks is like the advantage of McDonalds. If I go to a Starbucks and order my drink of choice (latte, no extra flavored shit) I will get a pretty good drink.

But beyond that I have no loyalty. In fact I prefer a good local shop, given a choice.

But my son, who has a specific Starbucks order of 2 pumps of this and 3 pumps of that, will go to Starbucks every time.

I actively hate Starbucks. You have to know their secret codes to ordering and I find it extremely dumb. Dunkin at this point isn’t much better as it’s gotten pretty expensive. I just buy k cups now. So much money saved.

Epcot Day
Part 2

As I get closer, I hear the Castmember say the ride is closed due to technical difficulties. They don’t know when it will reopen. I check the App. Still says it’s boarding Group 55 but the ride is indeed listed as “Temporarily Closed.” Well, that’s just great.

Still, Epcot is a big place and it’s now around 11:30. The Food and Wine locations are open. We stop at the Fry Basket to share some Deep Fried Pickles. They are excellent, as fried pickles usually are. I grab a Coke Slushy from a nearby food cart.

The plan at this point is to start making our way around World Showcase, sampling food and drink as we go. I make a mental note not to eat too much. I heard the GotG ride makes some people nauseous. Still thirsty (it is pretty hot) so we take a slight detour to Club Cool to sample beverages from around the world.

Our old friend Beverly was there and I had a revelation. It’s bubbly Campari. Bitter Orange. Not exactly pleasant to drink on it’s own, but mixed with Gin? Yes, I think that would work nicely.

The remaining drinks were mostly overly sweet and fruity. The Cucumber Sprite (Russia) was excellent. The Sour Plum (China) was revolting. Tasted like old BBQ Sauce.

Next Stop, was Brew-Wing at the Odyssey (a small convention space near Mexico). This is Muppet Themed destination featuring chicken wings and some interesting drink choices. The premise is that they have all been concocted by Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and tested on Beaker. We ordered:

  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sticky Wings - Tasted like Thai Peanut Sauce. They were fine.
  • Garlic-Parmesan Wings - Delicious!
  • Unnecessarily Spicy, Yet Extremely Tasty Scotch Bonnet Pepper-Curry Wings - They were hot but not overly so. Nice flavor.
  • Pickle Milkshake - Yup. You read that right. Actually not that bad. Vanilla shake with vinegar/dill overtones.

Onward to Mexico where I shared a Beer with Wife. There was a Noodle Booth nearby but no one was interested in a hot bowl of Ramen. Can’t imagine why. But the Tostada de Carnitas looked good. And it was. We explore the Mexico building, which is totally cool.

There’s a tequila bar where Wife and I would have been happy to hang, but maybe getting trashed at noon on a hot day wouldn’t be the best plan.

We skipped past Norway. Son would eventually want to come back for Skolebrød. I noticed the Frozen Ever After ride had a pretty low wait time. But we pressed on.

In China we decided to get out of the heat and into the air conditioned gift shop. While browsing, I get a ping on my phone. GotG is back up and they now boarding Group 56; our group. I notify the clan and we begin our walk all the way back to the attraction.


We arrive at the entrance. There’s no line, but it is indeed open. So we tap our magicbands to confirm our arrival and walk into the building. The ride must have just come online because there was no one, and I mean no one in the queue. We walked almost the entire queue before we reach a group of less than 20 guest waiting to be ushered into what I imagine was the pre show. This is amazing. What fortune!

The doors open to the pre show room and as we are entering, a voice from an overhead speaker informs us that the ride has shut down again and to please exit the building. This is getting more than a little bit disappointing.

As we leave the building I can hear a castmember explain to an irate guest that they don’t have any additional information and that it’s really important the everyone leave the building ASAP. Damn. Things aren’t looking good for our heroes. To make matters worse, I check the app to confirm that our Virtual Queue is indeed gone. We tapped into the ride after all. But I know a thing or two about Disney.

There’s a Guest Services location not far from where were are. I tell the family that I’ll see what I can do. Daughter and Boyfriend head off on their own. Wife enters a nearby giftshop. Son tags along with me, presumably to make sure I don’t fuck anything up.

The line at Guest Services is a bit long, due to the ride breakdown, no doubt. But there are lots of Castmembers there. We wait our turn and then approach the next available person. She smiles and asks how she can help. I begin with, “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…” And she stops me. “Let me guess. Guardians of the Galaxy?” I explain that our Virtual Queue was used up and wondered what she could do to help. She explained that she can’t guarantee that the ride will come back online today, but she could offer our group either a Lightning Lane to any other attraction at the park or a Open Virtual Queue boarding pass for GotG allowing us to get in line at any time for the rest of the day (so long as the ride is operating). This is no-brainer. We get the open queue for GotG.

That was quick and painless. I also noticed a complete lack of anger or yelling coming from the guests. A pleasant surprise.

I text the whole family to let them know the plan. Daughter and Boyfriend are going to wander and then maybe head back to the hotel for a while.
Wife, Son, and I continue our explorations while waiting for Guardians to reopen.

End of Part 2

Epcot Day
Part 3

We stopped by the Flavors from Fire Booth, where they do a lot of grilled meats, and got the Chimichurri Marinated Skirt Steak Taco. The meat was overshadowed by the ton of avocado they put on it. But I love avocado so it still get’s a thumbs up.

We walked across to the East side of the park. Journey into Imagination had a low wait time, so we got in line. This just sucks. Even though this is the 3rd iteration of the ride it feels completely dated, boring, and half-assed. I remember back in 1983, this was hands down my favorite attraction in the park. Disney needs to tear this thing down and come up with something fresh.

We crisscross back to toward Mexico to continue our snacking journey. The wind was picking up and it looked like it might rain. Daily thunderstorms are normal for Florida in the summer. We all had parkas but every day decided not to pack them. I like to travel light when I’m in the park. No backpacks for me.

We travel past Mexico, Norway, and China. I consider a brief stop at the Refreshment Outpost (which stands in for all of Africa, I guess). There’s a Spicy Githeri on the menu, but decide to move on. It gets more windy. I receive a text from Daughter. The Skyliner has shut down due to the wind, but there are shuttle buses ready to take them back to the hotel. I ask Wife and Son what they want to do. We’re all feeling pretty energized and elect to stay in the Park.

We enter Germany and see that some of the Food Booths are starting to close up due to the approaching storm. But Son was able to score an Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce. He also considered the Schinkennudeln because it’s so fun to say.

It starts to lightly rain. It’s windy but not really that bad. As we walk through Italy the wind begins to die down. Still raining a bit. Everyone has rain gear on except us.

We arrive at America. The rain is letting up. This part of the park used to suck. The food offerings were embarrassing. But they’ve stepped it up with good beer and a decent BBQ restaurant. We grab a beer (and a mocktail for Son) and sit down at one of the outdoor tables. It’s still hot, but the light rain cooled things off a bit. The beer, the sitting, and the now light breeze are invigorating. Even without GotG, this was turning out to be a lovely day. I reveal this to Wife and she tells me, “Oh, we’re getting on that Ride. Come hell or high water.”

Beers consumed we continue our travels around the world. We skip Japan for now. Son will want to do some shopping later. Past Morocco where a band is playing some really groovy music. I spy a “Brazil” booth on our way to France. They’ve got Pão de Queijo. I must have this. I order it, trying my hardest to pronounce it correctly. The kid behind the counter says, “What?” I know my Portuguese isn’t great, but there’s like 2 things on the menu. So I ask again. He looks puzzled, “Do you mean the Cheese Bread?” “Yeah,” I reply, “The Pão de Queijo.” He explains that button on his screen just says “Cheese Bread.” So I order the Cheese Bread.

It’s wonderful. Cheesy with a unique texture from the Tapioca flour. I crave more, but we move on.

Through France, the UK, and into Canada. I notice the Skyliner is up and running again.

There are lots of great food offerings. I’m not really full yet, but I do have a tendency to order one thing too many and then I feel uncomfortable for the rest of the day. I still had some hope that we might get on GotG and a full stomach on that ride might not be a good idea.

But the Hawaii booth had Spam Sushi. I can’t resist.

Wife is not interested, but Son reluctantly agrees to try one. I eat the other two. It’s delicious! Anything covered in all that sauce is bound to be. 10 out of 10. Would get again. Son agrees.

Still no word on GotG opening up, so we walk over to The Land and grab a seat in the mostly empty Food Court area. This is a great option if you’re hungry. Lots of variety, good quality, and plenty of seating.

Wife is getting a little cranky. So is Son. It’s around 5:30. Wife suggests we walk back to America because there’s a dish she really wants to try. That’s on the other side of the park. We’re already at around 20000 steps according to her Fitbit. But what else are we going to do. We get up and begin the trek. On the way, I check the App. GotG is back online! Sweet! I text Daughter. She says they will head to the Skyliner and meet us at America.

We arrive at Flavors of America booth and order the Chilaquiles. Wife and I used to get this all the time at a breakfast place in the East Bay when we were living in San Francisco. Here’s what we got (pic not mine):

According to the menu, it’s: Corn Tortilla Chips tossed in Salsa Verde with Ranchero Chicken, Queso Fresco, Cilantro-Lime Crema and a Soft-Poached Egg.

It was fantastic. The chicken was tender and flavorful. The salsa verde was tangy. And the egg tied it all together. It was also a substantial portion for under $7. This was the winner of the day IMO.

As we wait for Daughter and Boyfriend to arrive, I check the app. GotG is now closed. Again. I check in with Daughter. They are running late and have not even gotten on the Skyliner. I tell them to take their time. We are going to start walking to the ride in the hopes that it opens up again. It’s all the way at the other side of the park.

I’m tired at the point. My feet hurt. My back is starting to hurt. I’m grumpy. Half way there, I check the app to find the ride has opened back up. I tell Daughter to meet us there and that we will wait for them before we get in line. We make our way past Test Track and over to Mission Space. This is the attraction next to GotG. And there’s a line. A LONG line snaking from the Mission Space area over to GotG. There’s a Castmember stationed there holding a sign indicating that this is indeed The End Of The Line.

My heart sinks. It’s hard to convey just how far away from the ride we are and how crushed we are all feeling. God does not want us to experience this ride. Wife is ready to throw in the towel. I convince her that we ought to at least get in line to see how it’s moving. She agrees. As we approach, the Castmember informs us that this is the line for Lightning Lane only. Guests with a Virtual Queue boarding pass should head to the ride entrance. We shrug and head over to the entrance expecting another huge line.

But there isn’t one. There’s a trickle of people entering the building under the Virtual Queue sign, but no line outside the building. I text Daughter and tell her to haul ass over to the ride. We need to seize the moment.

Here’s what I figure happened. Disney sells a certain number of Lightning Lanes for GotG. Because the ride was down for most of the day, all these people who paid $20 to ride this arrived at the attraction at the same time. And Disney HATES to offer refunds. Since the ride is technically open, the rules of using the lightning lane remain in effect. Meanwhile, the virtual queue guests, who do not have a financial investment in riding the attraction, either did something else or left the park for the day. Bottom line, the Lightning Lane was massively backed up and the virtual queue was mostly empty.

Daughter and Boyfriend arrive and we tap in. Again, we walk much of the queue without having to wait. I catch glimpses of the Lightning Lane queue. It’s barely moving. Fuck The Lightning Lane!

We eventually catch up with the Virtual Queue line, but at this point we’re really close the preshow area. About 20 minutes later, we are escorted into a large room. I can see there’s another doorway where Lightning Lane guests are entering. I guess that the Castmembers are doing a 50/50 split between Lightning Lane and Virtual Queue.

I won’t go into much detail about the preshow. The premise is you are all being teleported to a Nova Corps ship. It’s a neat effect. Then bad things happen and you need to help the Guardians of the Galaxy by flying through time and space.

We exit the room and join another line. This one is moving pretty fast. We get to the boarding area. A Castmember asks if we’ve been on this ride before. We say no, but we did Tron yesterday. He says that this is way better than Tron. The cars seat 4. We are a group of 5. Again, I elect to join a family of 3, Mom, Dad, and their 10ish year old son. The kid looks really nervous and tells his parents he’s super excited. I look over at him and say, me too.

I guess the big thing you need to know about this ride is that it is indeed a Coaster with a very fast reverse launch. Also the cars can rotate 360 degrees while moving. It’s doesn’t spin per se. It rotates to point your car in the direction of interesting things.

Hmmm. What to say about this ride. It’s sensory overload. Yes, it’s a coaster, but it’s so much more. After the highly anticipated reverse launch it’s a cacophony of sight and sound. There’s constant banter between the Guardians. One of 6 different songs acts as a soundtrack to your adventure (we got “I Ran” by A Flock of Seagulls). There’s a story to follow thanks to the many, many projected screens around the ride. There are practical set pieces as well. The one I remember the most was the coaster spiraling down toward the moon, only the coasters kept rotating to point at the center of the spiral. Really cool. It’s also a pretty long ride. There were a couple of moments where I was getting a little nauseous but it quickly passed.

Amazing! Everyone loved it. Was is better than Tron? Maybe. They are both top-tier attractions. I would personally give my nod to Tron, but honestly they are are so different, it’s hard to compare.

We left the ride all smiles. Daughter and Boyfriend went off to get some snacks. We started walking back to the Skyliner, stopping in Norway for that Skolebrød. It’s a sweet cardamom flavored bun filled with custard and topped with coconut.

A winner. We also took a moment in Japan to shop for some interesting candy.

Then we popped onto the Skyliner for a smooth, relaxing trip back to the hotel.

A good day overall. A bit of a rollercoaster with all the ups and downs of getting on that dang ride, but still a lot of fun.

Your posts make me hungry, @GregB. I haven’t been to Epcot since the 80s but if I get the chance I’m going to need to try to work out an eating tour of the park.

Glad you got to experience GotG. We haven’t been back since Tron opened, and do want to do that someday (preferably when Florida isn’t the shithole it is right now), but I loved GotG. Certainly far more than what used to be there. Now if they’d finally do something with the former Met Life pavilion.

Your stories are so great, but what is particularly amazing to me is your recall of all the details and foods you ate! Very impressive.

Great storytelling!!

Thanks! I got our family text log to help me remember the order of events.

This is a great story so far. You’re hitting stuff that’s been added since I was last there, kind of makes me want to go back. No way until the kids are out of school though so we can go in the off season.

Speaking of, we’re are headed to Universal in November for a few days. What’s the community’s experience on Frontier for flights? I’ve heard generally ok things, but a few horror stories. We’re are looking at flights and American is easily double the price, even after Frontier’s bag and seat charges. My main concern with them is that the flight back from Orlando we’d want to take is their last of the day, so no real options if there’s a problem other than buying another ticket from a major airline.

Woo glad you got on GOTG. Tron wasn’t done when we went so I can’t comment on that ride. Super crappy of them to make people that dumped extra money on a ride into a gigantic line.

Chill Day

No plans for this day. Everyone slept in.

Wife, Son, and I headed out to Disney Springs for some lunch at around 11. Daughter and Boyfriend were going to hang around the Hotel and then go out for shopping and dinner.

There are a lot of food options at Disney Springs, but we were feeling the need for some BBQ, so we wound up at the Polite Pig.

You order at the counter and they bring your food out to your table when it’s ready. Son and I got the brisket sandwich. Wife got the Smoked Chicken Salad Wrap. We also added three sides: Seasoned Waffle Fries, Brussel Sprouts, and the Tomato & Watermelon Salad. I also got a beer because it was hot and I’m on vacation.

Food arrived quickly and the server asked if we needed anything else. I mentioned the need for ketchup. He disappeared and returned in a few moments with not only ketchup, but 5 different sauces. They were all excellent with varying degrees of smoky, sweet, and heat.

In fact, everything was excellent. The Brisket was tender and full of flavor. The fries (and sauces) were delicious. The Sprouts were the star. I could have eaten a giant bowl. Not big on Tomato/Watermelon, but it was tasty as well.

I love how attentive the staff are. They swoop right in to clear your plates when you’re done and a always ready to provide a refill of your water or beverage. Just super friendly.

Bellies full, we decided to wander around. Wife shopped for some clothes. Somehow we ended up at the Spice and Tea Exchange. It’s one of those boutique stores filled with overpriced blends. No thank you. But wife wanted to look around, so we did.

While browsing, a sales clerk came up and asked me if I needed any help. I told her I was waiting for my wife to finish up. She then made some comment about “leaving the cooking to the woman, eh?” This put me off a bit, but I just shrugged and said, “yeah,” She ask if I do any grilling. I told her that I do. She asked what I liked to grill with. I immediately answered, “With Tongs. Because that meat sure does get hot!” And I made little pinching gestures with my hands. She was not pleased and figured it be best to leave me alone.

More wandering. More shopping. Getting a bit hot. Wife and I would have chilled out at a bar for a while, but Son wanted to go back to the hotel to swim. Seemed like a good idea, so back to the shuttle we went.

Son and I got into our suits and headed out to the pool. Wife went to the pool bar and got a strawberry margarita. The swim was refreshing as was the margarita (she let me have a sip).

Then some light napping.

It was getting close to dinner time, so Wife and I decided to go back over to Disney Springs again. Son elected to stay home. I gave him $20 and told him to grab some food from wherever.

Back at Disney Springs it was starting to rain (it rained for an hour or so pretty much every day). Wife is a big fan of wine and she knows a fair bit about it, so I already knew where I wanted to take her. As we made our way to our destination, we passed by Gideon’s Bakehouse, a famous(?) shop for over the top cookies and cakes. Never had it but in looking at the pictures of their cookies it’s almost the exact opposite of what I would want.

I guess the interior has a cool “Potter-esque” vibe, so we figured it would be worth a look. But there was a line to get in. A long line. And it was raining. People were standing in line, in the rain, to enter a Bakery for a cookie that lacks any balance or subtlety. Again, I might be wrong. Maybe the cookies are amazing. But we were not going to stand in line to fine out. Instead, we crossed the street and entered Wine Bar George. Looks like this but imagine it being overcast and raining.

This is, as you might guess, a wine bar with a menu of mostly small plates. Seeing as we were still a little full from the BBQ, we felt this would be fine for dinner. It’s owned an operated by George Miliotes, a Master Sommelier. Reservations are strongly recommended but we figured we would try our luck and maybe sit at the bar.

Luck was with us. It wasn’t busy and we were cheerfully escorted to a nice table on the second floor overlooking the long line outside of Gideon’s. On the way to our table, we passed George himself. He gave us a smile and said, “Welcome!”

A couple things about the vibe. I think wine has a reputation for being snooty. This was absolutely not the case, even when presented with an overwhelming list of wines. The prices ranged from quite affordable to absolutely ridiculous. There was a tasting flight for over $1000.

Our waiter was amazing and really, really funny. I explained that I wasn’t much of a wine person (tends to give me headaches) but that I would put myself in his capable hands. He quickly pointed out that they have a full bar as well as beers on tap. He then asked how I felt about Old Fashioneds. I told him he was speaking my language. Wife ordered a glass of wine and the waiter scurried off. A short time later he was back with my Old Fashioned and Wife’s pour.

My drink was as good an Old Fashioned as I’ve ever had. No complaints. We ordered some meatballs and a cheese platter. These came back pretty fast as well. So we enjoyed a nice leisurely evening, sipping drinks and snacking on small plates.

As I was diving into my second cocktail, Wife began perusing the more rare wines on the list. For rare and more expensive wines they offer a 2 ounce pour so you can get a taste without wrecking your wallet. She chose some obscure Greek wine.

The head sommelier arrived with the bottle to pour and to talk in detail about the wine. Only, it turns out, they brought the wrong bottle and Wife didn’t notice until she started asking questions about the grapes and the geography. The sommelier gave us that pour for free(!) and brought out the correct bottle to try. Nice!

It was around 6:30 - 7:00 and the scene at the bar was starting to pick up. We paid the bill and left. There was still a huge line at Gideon’s, but at least the rain had stopped. And more importantly, it had cooled down significantly.

We strolled around for a bit. I texted Son to see what he had for dinner. He said he didn’t go to the Food Area. Sigh. WTF! Just go get some damn food. I told him we would look for something to bring back. I seemed to recall that Amorette’s Patisserie had some savory offerings, so we stopped in and got him a Roast Beef Sandwich. The guy behind the counter asked if we wanted a bag. I said, sure. This is what we got:

Ridiculous. We got on the shuttle and back to the hotel. Son got his absurdly wrapped sandwich and I got my $20 back. Then we settled in to watch some TV before lights out.

A pleasant, restful day.

I’m starting to get into wine more, and your anecdote is an example of a good/proper wine tasting experience that I would seek out. And you got me intrigued about the Greek wine that Wife got.

I’ll see if I can get the names.