Our Postponed 50th Anniversary Trip (Report?)

cboyer

Well-known member
Sounds like a great trip so far. And thanks for the honest opinion on Steakhouse 71, been debating on doing it this year in place of our usual California Grill. Not excited about the pre-fixe menu at CG. And interested in the after hours with DX reservations.
 

George

The ratio of people to cake is too big.
Sounds like a great trip so far. And thanks for the honest opinion on Steakhouse 71, been debating on doing it this year in place of our usual California Grill. Not excited about the pre-fixe menu at CG. And interested in the after hours with DX reservations.
Spoiler alert: We swapped out our last evening 7pm CG ADR in favor of dinner at Toledo. Fantastic decision! More on this later.
 

i<3riviera

Member
I remember that, too. They used to have a side room, IIRC, which played Disney movies back-to-back. I think that is the first place I saw an air hockey table.
yes, same for me! my parents weren't to keen on us spending all evening playing air hockey when Magic Kingdom was a few steps away though!

fond memories of our first on-site stay in the Contemporary resort garden wing when they still had the rectangular pools; I remember getting scolded for trying various gymnastic feats in the pool from my sibling's shoulders 🤸‍♀️
 

George

The ratio of people to cake is too big.
I remember that, too. They used to have a side room, IIRC, which played Disney movies back-to-back. I think that is the first place I saw an air hockey table.
We saw Mary Poppins there, in ‘74. My parents must’ve left us with a sitter, but I don’t remember a sitter.
My guess was slightly different: it was re-choreographed so that none of the performers ever needed to be "COVID close" to each other. But, that means that the pas de deux had to be very different.
They’re still pretty active, and definitely still in each others’ airspace. Who knows?
 

George

The ratio of people to cake is too big.
Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Today will be a long day. Because MK is open until 1AM for DX guests, and we plan to take full advantage of it. To prepare, we’re going to have a really quiet, low-key day until late-afternoon. So we slept in (until 8, ha!), and had a light breakfast at Captain Cooks, noses buried in our iThings, enjoying the quiet of the morning after everyone’s left for the parks. Captain Cook’s is really a pleasant space, and they have a nice outdoor area adjacent to (or part of?) Tiki Terrace, complete with umbrellas. I’d just caution you to avoid the powdered eggs. I find it hard to believe that people put up with this nonsense; it’s just gross. They’re all over Disney, and those who say Disney breakfasts are “good” don’t know what they’re talking about in most cases. Keeping it simple (oatmeal with walnuts, brown sugar, and raisins for me, thankyouverymuch) is the way to go.

After breakfast, we climbed in the car for Animal Kingdom Lodge, and our lunch at Sanaa. Call me cynical, but that tired old bread thing is good, but not the Second Coming that people would have me believe. Only two or three of the sauces really stand out, and the breads are good, but man, for $20 (I know, I shouldn’t be complaining about Disney prices), it strikes me as untoward. I think Sanaa’s offerings have gotten less than exciting, as their prices have increased. It’s still a dynamite space, one of the most beautiful moderate places in the World (sorry, Toledo takes the top prize here), and it’s relaxing and comfortable. The service was very amicable, but oh so slow. So a mixed experience this time, but I’ll definitely be back for the circuses, if not the bread, so to speak.

After (more) rest, we were ready to tackle MK. Heading over on the monorail is so easy from Poly, I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s true. We arrived around 4:30, and were pleased to see relatively light crowds on Main St. Since lines were still quite long by our standards (again, not used to waiting for anything), we started out with “anytime” things. I always enjoy Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, and this time was no exception. I get a kick out of it, and audiences usually warm up to the schtick early on and have a good time. We then walked onto Carousel of Progress, and enjoyed seeing everyone nodding off.

Dinner at 6PM at The Plaza was expectedly pleasant. They had a nice fried chicken “special” (not sure how special, since they had the same one back in March when I visited) that’s almost big enough for two. A word about online check-in: I really like this, since it skips the hosts who just read off screens anyway, slaves to the seater‘s orders. I chortle every time I see the special occasion screen, and the “Sorry, complimentary desserts are not included” disclaimer. What. Evs.

At 7, lines were still a bit long, but we braved the 25-minute (pretty accurate) Pirates line. Then it was on to Country Bear Jamboree, a personal favorite, and Enchanted Tiki Room, another all-time fave. Haunted Mansion’s line was about 25 minutes too. It was almost 9 by that time, and it was clear the many had moved over to claim Enchanted viewing spots; we’d done it on Sunday, so were able to skip it tonight. BTMRR was a walk-on, and we lucked out and got on the middle of the fireworks, which was spectacular. We decided to skip Splash, which had a very short wait too, since none of us wanted to get soaked. It’s a shame they do this on one of their best attractions. It’s a real turn-off for me, getting soaked with that filthy stinky water. We opted for a Dole Whip break instead, and got in right before the post-Enchantment rush. Wow, that new coconut soft-serve with pineapple juice is pretty amazing. Highly recommended. We got into the Jungle Cruise line, and had a 30 minute wait since we weren’t as lucky in missing the post-Enchantment rush this time. On the brighter side, we got a really good guide. Once we got off, crowds were noticeably smaller so, we started our commando hit-everything-we-can mode and, in pretty rapid succession, did:

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (walk-on, 25-minute wait posted)
Space Mountain (10 minute wait; took us longer to walk in and out)
Winnie the Pooh (walk-on)
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (line never stopped, on in less than 10 minutes)
Peter Pan’s Flight (about 20 minutes, even at that late hour, around 11:45)

Since were were pretty pooped, and we did everything we wanted to do, we left a bit earlier than the planned 1am close. Still, it was a pretty pleasant evening, without Genie+, but with waiting in lines like we never did before with FASTPASS/+.

Back to the hotel on the monorail (God, I swear that ramp gets steeper later in the day), and, wait for it, shower, wind down, sleep, at around 1am.
 

cboyer

Well-known member
Sounds like a great day. Thanks for the update on the after hours stuff. I am looking forward to doing some of it next time we are there as it looks like lines are really low for most of it.
 

BSS

Active member
Sounds like a wonderful trip. We debated S71 when we were there in February, but opted for Citricos. We had a great meal, but the three 20-something guys were decidedly not into the vibe of the rest of Grand Floridian. We did poke our heads in Enchanted Rose and I agree with you that it is a very pretty space.
 

puffyjj

Member
Love reading your trip report. Thank you for taking the time to write it. Agree about the Splash Mountain water. Whenever we are somewhere with VERY (not just slightly) distasteful tap water, my (adult) kids will use that as a reference as in, "This water tastes like Splash Mountain."
 

Anne

Well-known member
Really enjoying your report! Now I'm plotting how to get a trip with just my husband again without waiting until we are empty-nesters.

Since we've been back post-shut-down they have never had the jets on for the big drop on Splash, even on hot and sunny days. As long as we're not in the first row we haven't gotten appreciably wet. With the lower risk of getting wet we've been willing to take advantage of shorter waits after dark or on cool days.

Looking forward to hearing your opinion on Toledo. It hasn't been on my radar, so if you love it we would give it a try.
 

George

The ratio of people to cake is too big.
Thursday, May 5, 2022

We were dragging this morning, after our late MK evening. I knew we would be, and so I planned an easy short day at HS, during which we’d concentrate on knocking all the shows out. Tomorrow (Friday) will be our hardcore HS day, starting with EE RD with Genie+ (the only time we’ll use it during the week), so we wanted to get the time-consuming shows out of the way.

We took the bus from Poly, not wanting to deal with the 2-mile treks across the tram-less parking lot, and arrived around 10am. We started with the Frozen Sing-A-Long. We lucked out and got a really good cast, funny Historians (is that what they’re called?) and a Kristoff who actually had some personality, more than the cardboard actors who usually fill in that small role. One thing I noticed was the rock concert-level volume at the end. It’s SO LOUD, I wonder how people take it. I was never a rock concertgoer for this reason (why do bands always have to play their music SO LOUD?), and thought it’s really an anomaly for Disney shows.

One good thing about starting late is that it’s now time for lunch! We had our ADR for 50s Prime Time. Everything was tasty: onion rings, chicken Caesars (though would it kill them to use real Parmiggiano rather than that horrible shaved foodservice stuff?), and meat loaf. We had plenty of water/iced-tea too, because it was a really hot day.

Indy Stunt Show was next, and it was pretty much a sell-out crowd. Has anyone ever noticed that when CMs use their loud voices they always draw out their last word? “Please move all the way doooooown!“ “Fill in all available spaaaaace!” Once we noticed it, we couldn’t not hear it, for the rest of the week, and without fail. They must teach them to enunciate like that. Anyway, the show was the same it’s always been, made more fun by fun people around us who‘d oooh and aaah a bit too much, causing much giggling and merriment.

Disregard the previous; we did it on Friday, the next day! I've copied and pasted that to Friday's TR installment.

After lunch (it was around 12:45), it hit home why we’re usually heading out of the parks around this time. The crowds, even during a “low-crowd” time, are crazy, and the heat is really unpleasant. Still, we persisted.

Beauty & the Beast Live on Stage was next, and even though we arrived very shortly before showtime (5-10 minutes to spare?) we weaseled our way down to some center section, aisle seats (“Please move all the way dooooooown!”) This show has become so tired and lifeless, and it’s operating with a reduced cast. That reduced cast really augmented the going-through-the-motions attitude of the cast. Still, Beauty has a special place in our hearts (it was the first movie G and I ever saw together, the day after it opened, when we were young and a-courtin’ each other), so we’re suckers.

With the live shows out of the way, we made our way over to Star Tours, a ride with usually short waits. On the way, we noticed MMRR had a 40-minute wait posted, but there was no one waiting outside, so we hopped in line and, sure enough, were on within 20 minutes or so. I still think this is fun, and the trackless layout is a hoot and a holler.

Star Tours was next, with a 20-minute posted wait. We know what that means: walk-on. I sat this one out (at a shaded high-top at Baseline Taphouse, my nose buried in my iThing) while G & R rode, as I just don’t like the nauseating ordeal in front of characters and storylines I don’t give a flying fig about.

By now (2:30-ish?) it’s REALLY hot. Note to self: no more park afternoons from May to November. Muppets was the last show to cross off our list, and as usual there was no wait, though the funny pre-show is always so long that the show itself always comes off as anti-climactic to me.

We were done for the day, and headed back on the refrigerator, er, bus. We got good bus luck today, thankfully, with minimal waits on either end, and the Poly stop is really close to Tokelau.

After shower/break/nap, it was time for our 7:00 Topolino’s ADR. Arriving a bit early, we checked in and let them know we’d have a drink at the bar first. I suppose they don’t know the meaning of we’d like to relax a bit, because they came pestering us every five minutes or so, starting before we even ordered a drink. Asking them to honor our request for a booth was akin to our asking them for one of their kidneys. We finally gave up and got our booth. We enjoyed Topolino’s a lot. G & I split the gnocchi appetizer , which was really tiny split two ways), then the rigatoni as a first course (much bigger), and the Sole Meunière as our entree. All three were home runs, though the rigatoni was life-changing. It was really rich, and we agreed that a full order would be a bit much, even if we’d still finish every bit and lick the plate after. R had the warm chocolate cake for dessert, and said it was perfectly good but nothing really special. The server took a shine to us, and she sent over some sparkling Moscato to finish our meals. We enjoyed the meal, though the food was better than the atmosphere. I don’t think they decided what kind of vibe they were going for here, as it’s a bit bland even while it feels special. It felt like a dressed-up banquet room, albeit a very nice one. The adjacent terrace (empty by the end of the meal; I don’t know if anyone was ever out there that evening) seemed pleasant enough to while away an evening with drinks and light noshes. Might try that next time.

Since we have a very early morning tomorrow (our do-or-die HS day), we turned in relatively early, 11-ish.
 
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cboyer

Well-known member
Sounds like a great day at DHS, even if it was hot. I don't know what it is about DHS but I always "feel" hotter there than other parks, maybe because there seems to be less indoor activity in the A/C that we like to do for the hot afternoon. Even a lot of the shows are outdoors like Indy and BatB. Thanks for the review of Topolinos. Been debating if it is worth the trip out to Rivera on the skyliner or not.
 

kristenb

Active member
Following! Thanks for the S71 review - we debated it and never pulled the trigger last week. Menu looks perfect for lunch, but maybe not worth the "trip". Glad now we stuck with Skipper Canteen instead - it was perfect, cool, and everyone loved their entrees and the apps.

Agree on Topolino - it's a must-do for the DH every time and doesn't disappoint, though we are now able to bypass dessert when we eat dinner there. If we need a sweet fix, there are other great options elsewhere in the trip usually...although the pistachio gelato is really divine.

Appreciate the tip on Jaleo - have been thinking about trying it last few trips and never seem to be able to fit it in (Boathouse, Morimoto, and Wine BarG are also on the family agenda). Maybe we need to stay longer;)
 

George

The ratio of people to cake is too big.
Friday, May 6, 2022

And now for The Big Day. Our Genie+ Day. Our HS Day. The Day When We Have To Do Everything (Except Shows).

Previously, on Our Trip Report: We did a shortened HS day yesterday, after our late MK evening. We knocked out Frozen Sing-a-Long, BATB, Muppet Vision, plus Star Tours and MMRR.

This morning we arose before dawn (Dawn was grateful this time), and decided not to play Bus Roulette; we'd also need our car for our afternoon break. We rope-dropped the parking lot, actually arriving around 6:20 for a 7:30 EE open. The lot opens at 6:30, and they weren't letting cars in to line up at the booths, so I had to drive over to Pop and hang out in its drive with my hazard lights on for a few minutes. Later, we were one of the first in, and parked in the first row - BUT ALL THE WAY AT THE END! Oh well, we were still right at the front of the tapstile.

With all three of us trying, at 7:00, we snagged a SDD LL while for a 8:40 return. Yay, we could do this before break, AND get another LL when we tapped in at 8:35!

Our first priority at RD (we were let in around 7:20) was ROTR, which was pretty much a walk-on, even with some more fleet-footed guests passing us during the walk back. ROTR exceeded all of our expectations; they really did hit the ball out of the park with this one. I didn't know much about this, as I hadn't read much about it, and couldn't give a flying fig about anything Star Wars-related. Nevertheless, even the story was laid out so that people like I could understand what the hell was supposed to be going on.

After ROTR, MFSR was a walk-on, and all three of us loved this one as well. I'm not a Star Tours/motion simulator person, but this one didn't affect me, maybe because I was in (partial) control and it was more like driving a car in that way. Another winner.

We made our way around to see if the SDD line was long, and found that the ride was down; it hadn't opened at 7:30. So we walked on to TSMM. SDD was still down, and we were all ready for a coffee break at Trolley Car. SDD was still down at our 8:40 return time, so we were issued anytime LLs, and were able to book our next one at that time. We decided during coffee to snag a RNR LL for 20 minutes later, as that line had stretched to 65 minutes. We also made a TOT LL for later in the evening after tapping in.

Indy Stunt Show was next (we didn't do it Thursday, like I remembered. Duh!), and it was pretty much a sell-out crowd. Has anyone ever noticed that when CMs use their loud voices they always draw out their last word? “Please move all the way doooooown!“ “Fill in all available spaaaaace!” Once we noticed it, we couldn’t not hear it, for the rest of the week, and without fail. They must teach them to enunciate like that. Anyway, the show was the same it’s always been, made more fun by fun people around us who‘d oooh and aaah a bit too much, causing much giggling and merriment.

After the 10:45 show it was time for our break, lunch at WCC. WCC is a must-do every trip, mostly to visit our favorite server, MT. She's on from Thursdays-Sundays. We were relieved to see that she'd come through the pandemic OK (you never know, right?) and she brought birthday cupcakes (it was R's birthday the week before) after our meals. She's a real hoot, always has us on the floor and leaves us tired from smiling. Do look for her if you go for breakfast or lunch.

Breaktime! It was back to the Poly (another reason we drove, since it's no easy feat getting from WL to Poly on WDW transportation). I was sure to snag LLs every two hours from our 10am RNR tap-in throughout the day, during break, for our evening return to HS.

It was back to HS for 5:30 dinner at Mama Melrose, this time on the bus, which was pretty much waiting for us as we walked up to the bus stop. Then after dinner, we spent a leisurely 2-1/2 hours or so knocking out the LLs I'd collected. Our TSMM LL couldn't be used because it was down, and by the time they realized that it wasn't coming back, we had an extra anytime LL that we didn't end up using. What we DID use was: MMRR. TOT. ASS (we snagged this one for 20 minutes later, even though the line was at 45 minutes). SDD (FINALLY, as the lights were coming on - score!), and then a second go-around on MFSR, since we all enjoyed it so much. At 9:50, we joined the line for a second ROTR, and were off by 10:20. Whew!

We took a leisurely stroll out of the park, which is particularly pretty after sunset, and stopped by Guest Services on the way out to see if we could use our unused Anytime LL the next day at Epcot, which they nicely did. However, Epcot’s list of Anytime LL attractions is pretty lousy (no TT, Soarin’, Remy, or Frozen), but we didn’t mind.

To recap, this is everything we did In one day at HS, with a six-hour break from 11:30am-5:30pm:

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run
Toy Story Midway Mania
Starbucks Break
Rock ‘n Rollercoaster (LL)
Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular
Lunch - Whispering Canyon Cafe
Break
Dinner - Mama Melrose
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway (LL)
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (LL)
Toy Story Midway Mania (LL, closed, got Anytime LL for tomorrow at Epcot)
Alien Swirling Saucers (LL)
Slinky Dog Dash (LL)
Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run (LL)
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

That’s seven LLs, all the major rides (twice for ROTR and MFSR), and a lengthy afternoon break. Not bad, huh?

We later noted that in our (much) younger days, and we could’ve gotten everything we did yesterday (shows plus Star Tours and MMRR) done today. It was all too much to contemplate at that late hour, and when were exhausted and riding the Meat Locker on Wheels (aka, the air—conditioned bus) back to Poly.

Again: Shower, relax, bed. Tomorrow is Epcot!
 

cboyer

Well-known member
Another fun day, and sounds like very effective use of Genie+. How was Mama Melrose? I've heard so-so things, but I am always looking for new places to eat in that park, options are kinda limited. Our go to is usually 50sPT.
 

George

The ratio of people to cake is too big.
Another fun day, and sounds like very effective use of Genie+. How was Mama Melrose? I've heard so-so things, but I am always looking for new places to eat in that park, options are kinda limited. Our go to is usually 50sPT.
Thanks! Mama Melrose quality has gone down. I had a pizza/flatbread there, and the tomato “sauce” was really thick, almost like tomato paste, which was pretty unpleasant. The taste was OK, but the sauce was definitely, er, different. Still, it’s a nice place to sit down at HS that’s not 50s PT and is half the cost of Hollywood Brown Derby.
 

cboyer

Well-known member
Thanks! Mama Melrose quality has gone down. I had a pizza/flatbread there, and the tomato “sauce” was really thick, almost like tomato paste, which was pretty unpleasant. The taste was OK, but the sauce was definitely, er, different. Still, it’s a nice place to sit down at HS that’s not 50s PT and is half the cost of Hollywood Brown Derby.
Thanks for the review. Maybe we will stick with 50s then.
 

ThemeParkCommando

Active member
HS certainly makes you pay if you drive in to park at RD. You see how close you are to the entrance at the first parking spot on that line, then you are directed to drive WAAAAAYYYY out to the end of the row. Lol. That was a big disappointment to me. Better to be about the 35th car in the lot, it seems.
 
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