My Wild and Artsy Trip

lovett1979

Member
Yes, I just did a trip in November (and only finished that TR a few weeks ago) but there were new things to be experienced so I had to do another trip! The main focus of this trip was checking out the Epcot Festival of the Arts for the first time. There were also some new things I wanted to try around the other parks, as well as some things that I hadn't gotten to experience on my last 2 trips that I felt the need to do.

Here are the basics:

Feb 3-6
Flying JetBlue (cheap flight, bought with points!)
Staying at Port Orleans French Quarter
3-Day Park Hopper ticket from ParkSavers (I probably should have bought an AP for my November trip since I'm going again this August and November, but oh well)
Traveling solo, but joined by my Orlando Friend for almost all the fun

 

awaggett

New member
Always excited to read your trip reports! Interested in your thoughts on POFQ--we are staying there at the end of March for the first time.
 

lovett1979

Member
Feb 3 - Travel Day

I work on Sunday mornings on the Upper West Side of Manhattan so I bought my luggage with me (and dressed strategically to be warm enough in NYC, but could remove layers and pack them away as I got to the heat of Orlando. It was pretty easy to take a city bus all the way to LaGuardia, where JetBlue has a new terminal. This was my first time at this terminal, which is still under construction. It only has 6-8 gates and feels like a small-town airport. The flight went smoothly and we landed in Orlando a little before 7pm.

While I was waiting to board the DME bus, I realized that I hadn't gotten a text with my room number, despite having done online check-in a few weeks earlier. I decided to call and try to fix the issue, rather than wait till I got there and have to deal with all the other people checking-in. The guy I spoke with said that there was some paperwork that I had to sign at the front desk before I could complete the check-in. Which made absolutely no sense. I have done online check-in at least 3 times previously (most recently in November) and never had to do anything like that. I guess I complained enough (though never got angry) that he said his supervisor could override the system or something and they were able to give me the room number. (as soon as they did whatever they did, a text came through on my phone as well). By the time I was done with the call, I was on the bus and we were already headed to WDW. My resort was the 3rd stop (Saratoga, Key West, POFQ, Riverside).

I found my room in Building 1. It was a little further away from the main area than I had had in the past (I guess I had a preferred room the other time I stayed at POFQ?) but not too bad. I loved the Mickey waiting for me.



I went back to the main building to have dinner at Scat Cat's Club. The superbowl was on, so it was a bit more crowded than normal. I sat at the bar and ended up chatting with a guy from Philly. He was watching the game but humored my lack of knowledge (or caring) about the sport. He (and most of the people inside the bar area) were rooting for the Rays, and the people sitting outside the bar area were all rooting for the Patriots. It was an interesting scene.

I ordered a Hurricane, the Mardi Gras Mac & Cheese (without andouille), and the Baton Rouge Beignets (1 of each flavor-Bailey's, Kahlua, and Rumchata).



The drink was ok, not terribly strong, and quite sweet. The Mac & Cheese was also just ok. I took some leftovers back to my room to have for breakfast. The Beignets seems like a good idea on paper, but I actually would have preferred regular beignets and a shot of Bailey's on the side.

After dinner, I went back to the room to unpack, only to remember that I needed to request no mousekeeping (in exchange for a gift card). So I went back to the main building, arranged all of that, and finally went back to my room for good.
 

lovett1979

Member
Always excited to read your trip reports! Interested in your thoughts on POFQ--we are staying there at the end of March for the first time.
Thanks awaggett, and welcome! I absolutely adore POFQ. The grounds are lovely and peaceful. But everything is still pretty convenient. I had stayed there 1 time previously (November 2016) and have also visited to buy beignets and to do the Beignet Dash fun run during other trips. My TR from that 2016 trip has some pictures and other thoughts on the resort (https://www.easywdw.com/forums/showthread.php?34811-Solo-runDisney-Trip-A-Trip-of-Firsts) and I am happy to answer any specific questions you might have. The rooms have all been renovated between 2016 and now so they don't have carpeting anymore (probably other changes too, though I'm not sure what they are).
 

lovett1979

Member
Feb 4 - Artsy Epcot, part 1

I had my leftover Mac & Cheese for breakfast in my room before heading over to the main building to fill up my water bottle. Since I learned about the free ice water trick a few years ago, I have never paid for water at Disney. I always keep a bottle with me (in everyday life, as well) and just request ice water to fill it up whenever I can. At POFQ, they have Coke FreeStyle machines that dispense water into anything.

My Orlando Friend (OF for the rest of the report) picked me up at the portcochere around 9:15 and we drove over to Epcot. We had some time before our first FP (Soarin) so we went to visit the manatees and other sea creatures. Yes, those were my priorities this trip. We went to see Turtle Talk, but as we entered the "theater" space, I realized that we wouldn't make the FP window if we watched the show so we had to leave.

We breezed through the Soarin FP line and got seated in the center section (!) for what is always a thrilling and relaxing flight around the world. We were starting to feel a bit hungry so started our artsy day off with cake, because we are grownups!


(from Sunshine Seasons)

As reported on many blogs, this was totally delicious. Peanut butter-buttercream frosting over and in a rainbow (moist) vanilla cake with cute fondant decorations.

The standby line for Living with the Land was surprisingly long, so it was a good thing we had FP.



Our final stop in FW for the moment was Journey into Imagination with Figment, where our FP was highly unnecessary, but still good to have.

After a quick stop for some free soda at Club Cool, it was finally time to explore the arts! First stop was the plaza behind the fountain where we saw a guy painting to music (we're pretty sure the painting was of Minnie, but didn't stay for the full reveal) and wandered through a few art kiosks where many beautiful pieces were on display. We both really liked the art of Gregg Visintainer and ended up both buying some postcard versions of his pieces. https://www.vizartink.com/collections/freelance-artwork I got "Reflecting Epcot" and "Walt's Dream." They are made-up-of tiny lines and patterns and words, really cool. We also picked-up passports showing all the offerings, with stickers to place as we did/ate everything.

On the walkway between FW and WS, a chalk artist had recreated a number of famous art-works. In the last spot, she had drawn Jack-Jack and laid-down tape in a criss-cross manner over the rest of the square. She was inviting people to draw in each of the little squares of chalk to create the background for Jack-Jack. OF decided to do it and drew a cute flame in her box. We walked by it on our way out that night and it was so cool to see it completed, and also kind of fun that she had made a part of it. (I am so sorry if my descriptions make no sense, perhaps this photo will make it clearer-https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/epcot-international-festival-of-the-arts-orlando?select=bXVAxAy5mrTcKvaU9zWdPg)

Our next artsy stop was at the big paint-by-numbers mural. We were given our colors and told to paint 3 squares.







They gave us a postcard of the completed image on the way out. (Free? At Disney?)

Our first official Festival Food Booth was The Masterpiece Kitchen where we got the Wild Mushroom Risotto and the Vanilla, Rose Water and Pistachio Panna Cotta. We shared these (and most everything else we got, thankfully our food restrictions align nicely). The risotto was yummy and the panna cotta was delightful (though maybe a little frozen?). I would order both again in a heartbeat.

We took a nice stroll through the UK pavilion and then got some more artsy food at L'Art du Cuisine Francaise.



The Crème de Brie en Petit Pain is another one that every blog and vlog has raved about. It is a lot of fun and good comfort food, but it's really just melty cheese in bread. The Salmon Terrine was a bit odd. The texture reminded us of gefilte fish and neither of us like warm tomatoes, lol. The pastry dipped in the sauce was phenomenal, and our first of many "beure blanc" sauces we would have this day. I now will not eat any fish without it. I had zero complaints about the Froze, though.

We walked around the Japan shops for a bit, and I picked-up some Japanese candies for my "nephews" (see any of my August reports). OF had a phone interview scheduled for 2pm so she found a quiet spot by the tables in the American pavilion and I watched the Japanese drummers.



I just love the variety of entertainment and cultural experiences there are around Epcot. When OF was done with her call, she joined me and we got the Sushi Donut and Taiyaki from Takumi Table.



The sushi tasted like...sushi. And the dessert was a little odd, but definitely unlike anything else.

We went to hear the Voices of Liberty, which seemed to have a few new members (at least, there were a few people who did not look familiar to me). They did the same "US States" song that I heard in November and a really nice arrangement of "This is Me" from "The Greatest Showman." We were both puzzled, because that is not a Disney property, but also delighted because the composers of the song went to our Alma Mater.

To be continued...
 

lovett1979

Member
Feb 4 - Artsy Epcot, part 2

The next stop on our artsy tour around the world was Cuisine Classique near Germany.



The Seared Corvina was one of the highlights of the festival and solidified our love of a beurre blanc sauce. The Saint-Honore Tart was also delicious. We ate our food while listening to a German acappella "boy band" perform. It was a bit odd to hear that kind of pop music with German words, but it's fun that there are so many unique live entertainment acts around World Showcase.

China and The Painted Panda were next and we both felt the need for some adult refreshment.



Fortune Cookie (came with an actual cookie!) for me and Kung Fu Punch for OF. I hope the Fortune Cookie makes a re-appearance full-time or at another festival because, wow.

We headed over to the Festival Center building to see what was going on there. We were able to slip into an Animation Academy class that was just starting, and we learned how to draw Tigger.


I cannot draw a circle to save my life.

We took a look around the rest of the building - merchandise, design-your-own-shirt, etc and decided to do another Animation class.


Getting better

(the order of the next 3 things is unclear in my mind, but I know that the following happened)

(1) Feeling brave, I finally wanted to try Mission: Space for the first time. It had a 10 minute wait for standby at this point. We did the Green side (not sure I would ever try Orange) and all of the warning signs and announcements about motion sickness and telling a CM that you didn't want to ride (and the barf bags in the capsule (!)) made me super nervous. But I loved it! It's a really fun ride and just shy of too intense for me. Looking forward to riding it again.

(2) Spaceship Earth had a low standby time so we got in that queue but it stopped moving and eventually they told us that the ride was down. We decided to bail.

(3) We went to the Disney Visa M&G and met Minnie and Pluto. Minnie loved my shirt (it has her on it, in Paris). And she also did an elaborate charades with us to tell us that my friend's plaid shirt was like the collar Pluto wears in Garden Grill. It took us a while to figure out what she was saying, but it was so much fun.







Time for dinner! In the weeks leading up to the trip, the only options at Chefs de France were 5:45 or 8pm. Either could have worked, but not perfectly. Less than a week out, I had my choice of 6:20 or 6:40, perfect! We had to wait just a little bit to be seated and we saw Belle walking around with a little boy in tow. Don't know if it was a special thing (Make-a-Wish?) or just something she felt like doing. Either way, very cute.

It was both of our first times at this restaurant and we loved it. The meal starts with a warm baguette and butter (we were offered an additional baguette later in the meal but decided against it) and we chose the cheese plate for an appetizer.


(clockwise) Gruyere, Meunster, Goat (hiding under the bread), Bleu, and Brie with grapes, walnuts, and bread. I love the "newspaper" that is on the board.

For entrees, we split the Vegetable Lasagna and the Choucroute de la mer.


Basically a delicious ratatouille with a few layers of pasta and a layer of gruyere (probably?) on top. We both could have used more cheese, lol.


OF doesn't eat shrimp, so I got to have both tasty well-seasoned beauties. The cod was a little bland, but when eaten with the smoky haddock sausage was delicious. The potatoes were completely flavorless and possibly undercooked. I didn't even finish them. According to today's online menu, the spinach has been replaced by braised sauerkraut. Of course, the beurre blanc sauce was much appreciated, lol.

Too full for dessert (and running a little behind, I guess they want to give you the full French experience, including relaxed service) we paid and headed over to the America Gardens theater for the 8pm Disney on Broadway concert.

We met up with a few local friends of OF, who had saved us seats in the second row and got ready to enjoy the concert.

Now, I live in NYC and am a huge musical theatre fan (and sometimes performer). My username here (and most other internet spaces) is a reference to a musical theatre character (does anyone know the reference???). I specifically planned the timing of this trip to see these 2 performers. I have seen Heidi Blickenstaff and Gavin Lee in Broadway shows (though not their Disney ones) and have loved them both. Before the show started, there was a video montage of clips from various Disney on Broadway shows from over the years. It was funny because I had attended a "25 Years of Disney on Broadway" panel at BroadwayCon about a month earlier and they played that same montage! I wonder how many other people were at that panel and also got to see one of these concerts.



From the opening number (Bop to the Top from High School Musical), the energy and joy was electric. Heidi performed some songs from the musical of Freaky Friday (I didn't even know this existed) as well as Poor Unfortunate Souls (she was the Ursula understudy in the original cast of Little Mermaid on Broadway and later played the role) and Gavin's tapping skills in songs from Mary Poppins and Little Mermaid were beyond amazing. I have some videos that I would love to share with you, but not sure how. If anyone is interested, and can instruct me, I'd be happy to post them. The concert finished with Somebody's Got Your Back from the Broadway version of Aladdin.

It was thrilling to be able to see these wonderful performers so close up, and they seemed to be having a great time. As a performer myself, I also appreciated that there was a live band. The show was so great that I actually decided to re-arrange some of the plans for the next two days so we could see a concert the next night as well (different performers).

Since we were seeing the last show of the night, we knew that the performers would be coming out afterwards and we could try to meet them. We waited a little bit with about 15-20 other people and they came out pretty quickly. Heidi's husband called her to discuss how she was getting home that night (resolution: watch the fireworks with Gavin and then he would drive her home) and she had us all say hi to him. This was a much nicer and more relaxed experience than at most Broadway stage doors these days.





Sadly, because we had stayed to meet them, we didn't get a chance to pickup up another Festival dessert to eat during IllumiNations. And we also didn't have time to get to the FP viewing area (I had picked those up earlier in the day). But we got to watch from right next to the theater, and there was some pyro fired from right in front of us, so that was cool.

We walked by Germany on our way out, hoping we could still get some caramel popcorn, but everything was closed. We completed our second circle of World Showcase of the day and headed out, stopping by the chalk art area to see the completed piece my friend had contributed to.

OF drove me back to POFQ and we made our plans for the next day.
 
I sure hope it is a reference to Sweeney Todd, because I start singing 'Mrs. Lovett' every time I see it.
My husband was disturbed because I giggled alllll the way through the movie with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. He said I was creepy.
 

lovett1979

Member
Yes indeed, I love Mrs Lovett from Sweeney Todd! I know it's not super obscure, but I'm so happy that people get the reference. The irony, of course, is that I am a vegetarian! (well, pescatarian...as you know from seeing the food I eat at Disney, but vegetarian sounds funnier for the context)
 

lovett1979

Member
Interlude - When does the first bus start???

When I got back to my hotel room after Epcot, I discovered that the shower faucet was still dripping a bit (I had noticed this after my shower in the morning but figured it would eventually stop). It wasn't bothering me, but I wanted to alert Disney to the issue so they could fix it/save water. I called from the room phone and told them the issue and that they could come in the morning to fix it. The woman I spoke with asked me when I would be leaving the room in the morning, so they wouldn't disturb me. I said something like "I'm planning to RD Animal Kingdom so I'll be gone super early" with a chuckle in my voice. She replied with a "warning" that the buses don't start until 45 minutes before open (so, 8:15 in this case). I said, slightly worried, that I hoped that wasn't true because I was planning on already being in the park by that time. She gave me another "warning" that they don't let people into the park earlier than 30 minutes before open! I just said "ok, thank you" and went to bed.

Why do they lie like this? The official transportation docs also say something similar about the first buses of the day. Do they just not want to guarantee that they'll be running earlier, or are they trying to discourage early arrivals? Was she really that unaware and just reading from the official script?

While this did make me a little nervous about the morning plans, I had more faith in Josh/EasyWDW and stuck to what I knew.

I figured that for a successful FoP RD, I'd need to be on a 7am bus. Which would mean waking up at 6am. And upon contemplating THAT, I decided that an extra half hour of sleep would be worth it to take an Uber if necessary, so I set my alarm for 6:30.

As I got ready in the morning, I was keeping an eye on the bus arrivals (on the app), just to see what the options would have been. Sure enough, there was a bus around 7:05, so if I had gotten up early enough, I could have been on my way. By the time I was ready to go, though, there were no buses coming so I called an Uber. This was definitely the best $15 (including tip) I ever spent. I was at the front entrance by 7:30, and didn't even need to deal with the walk from the bus stop.

Coming up - the easiest, most successful RD in history!
 

BSS

Member
I love your trip reports and this one is no exception.

For someone who can't draw a circle to save her life, that's a pretty darn good Tigger! I am the queen of stick figures. :RpS_biggrin:
 

mgarbowski

Well-known member
Sweeney Todd - original cast incl Angela Lansbury, was the first musical I saw live on Broadway. Broadway, and musicals, are not my thing particularly, though I enjoy them now and again. But that ST production was quite memorable.
 
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