Friday 8th November:
Today’s plan was to go to the Magic Kingdom but as our first FP+ of the day wasn’t until 2pm we didn’t rush to go out. We fancied going the long way around so instead of taking the resort bus, we walked down through Epcot and caught the monorail and then the ferry. We like the ferry.
On the way through Epcot, I felt a little peckish. It’d been a while since my breakfast of bagels in the Beach Club so I had a Dessert Trio from the Champagne and Dessert stand at the Food and Wine festival. It. Was. Amazing.
The Magic Kingdom was a lot more crowded than the other two parks we’ve been to so far, but then it usually is. We weren’t in any hurry so we just went with the flow. At the top of Main Street there was a party going on with various characters getting everyone to dance. We joined in for a little while.
Then we went to have a look at what they’d been doing to Fantasyland since we were last here. It looks fantastic although there still seems to be a lot of building work going on. I’m looking forward to going on the Mine train ride next year. They’ve put holes in the fence around it so you can peek through to see what’s going on and you can see how steeply the track is curving. It looks like great fun.
The new circus area is beautifully themed. We had a walk around it but it was very crowded there so we didn’t take any photos or linger too long. Instead we walked around the other side to make sure we knew where we were going for lunch later. I’d been reading about how great the food was at the new restaurant inside the Beast’s castle and how lovely the theming was and I was desperate to get in there to try it for myself. I’d heard the lunch queues were pretty long though so I wanted a reservation and I did want to play with the new FP+ system that lets you pick your meal in advance.
It took me ages to find a way to do that as it just wouldn’t come up on My Disney Experience but eventually I found a link to get to the reservation website and I was in. It was fun looking at the menu options online and being able to sit and choose what we’d want to eat and to do it at our leisure a week ago. And it was even more fun just going up to the desk today to check in and then walking straight past every one else in the queue and then straight into the restaurant to find ourselves a table.
Before that though, we had plenty of time to go and play so we went back to Tomorrowland for one of our traditional rides – the TTA, or the Peoplemover as it’s now known. We just like sitting on that, looking down at the park and hearing the spiel. Then we had a stroll round just taking in the atmosphere. We maybe had time to do Buzz Lightyear before our lunch but we didn’t want to risk missing our window so we just slowly wandered back over to Be Our Guest instead.
Once we’d checked in and were shown into the restaurant, we just had to grab our drinks from one of the stations on the way and then we could pick which of the three rooms we wanted to sit in. We picked the Rose gallery, or rather I did. I don’t think Stephen particularly cared as long as he got to eat something. After a few minutes our food found us by tracking our Magic Bands. It does have a server pushing the cart, I should add.
I’d ordered a vegetable quiche which was delicious. It was a lovely texture and the pastry crust was very tasty. It was one of the nicest quiches I’ve ever had. Stephen had braised pork (Coq au vin style) and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d have taken photos but it looked so good we both dived straight in before I thought about it. I’d make a terrible food blogger.
For dessert we’d both ordered the cream puffs. I’d gone for the Passion fruit one and Stephen was delighted to see there was a no sugar added option so he had that. It was lemon raspberry and like mine, was yummy.
After we’d eaten, I joined all the other photographers who were walking round taking snaps of the beautiful surroundings. I took a few photos in the Rose gallery but with a handheld camera they haven’t come out brilliantly.
There was artwork all the way around depicting various scenes or characters from Beauty and the Beast. The wall lights were flickering just like candles. In the centre of the room was this. As it was spinning it was even harder to capture so apologies for the blur.
We then had a look round the other rooms. Over on the other side was the West wing. It was much darker in there and very atmospheric. Lovely to look at and maybe nice to dine in, but not good for photos. In the centre was the huge ballroom which was decked out for Christmas with a lovely tree down by the windows. Outside the windows it was snowing, which looked amazing.
I’m really glad we had lunch there. It wasn’t expensive and the food was superb. The decor was beautiful and well worth seeing. I’d definitely go there again.
On the way out I couldn’t resist posing Stephen by one of the gargoyles. I think I can see a resemblance.
Up until now the whole My Disney Experience/Magic Bands thing has gone smoothly. The wi-fi has been a little slow at times in the parks but with some patience I’ve always been able to get into the app and have even changed FP+s an hour or so before they were due. Today though it was quite glitchy. It was slower but maybe that was because the park was so busy. What was slightly annoying was that one of my FP+ times inexplicably changed.
I’ve been careful to make sure that if I have a lunch ressie, or anything else that takes priority, that the FP+ don’t clash. Today’s lunch window was 2.05 – 2.35 so my first FP+ after that wasn’t until 3.30 – 4.30, with the other two following at 4.30 – 5.30 and 5.30 – 6.60. See? Perfectly planned. Or it was until I checked the app after coming out of lunch to find that the first one, for Space Mountain had been changed to an earlier time that clashed with lunch and had now expired. Now I know that I didn’t change it, so there’s a glitch in the system somewhere. Annoying yes, but maybe the system decided that going on Space with a stomach full of Cream puff wasn’t a good idea. Maybe it was right.
We had some time to wait before our next FP+ so we went on the Haunted Mansion ride. It was only 15 mins standby and it’s such great fun. I love all the effects and the ride queue is so interesting now that you forget that you’re actually queueing.
Then it was time for Splash Mountain and I was humming Zippety doo dah before we’d even joined the FP queue. I LOVE this ride. Is it a sign that you’ve been on too many times when you’re joining in with the dialogue? We were in the park for Extra Magic Hours one night a few years ago and it was so quiet that we were allowed to just stay on Splash without having to get off and rejoin the non-existent queue. We were on there going round and round for an hour. It was great!
After a mild soaking, we had some time before our final FP+ so as the standby for the Johnny Depp ride (aka Pirates of the Carribean) was only 10 mins, we went on that. I had a good sing along to Yo ho yo ho in the queue, on the ride and on and off all the way home, much to Stephen’s amusement. It kind of gets in your head. We were in the front row for Pirates and got quite a soaking. Slightly more than we did for Splash, I think. I had to visit the restroom for paper towels to dry inside my Crocs as I was walking around in my own personal puddles.
We had a browse round the bazaar, ducked past the spitting camel and then joined the queue for
Jungle Jingle Cruise after scanning our Magic Bands at the entrance. At least the system had worked for two out of three so I’m still coming down in favour of it.
Jingle Cruise was a hoot. Today was the first day for it which is why I’d done the FP+ as I’d guessed correctly that the standby would be huge – 60 mins. They’d decorated the load area up and had renamed the boats by hanging underpants with writing on over one name, a piece of driftwood on another. You get the idea. The story was that the skippers were missing Christmas so had decided to decorate the place up themselves so it all looked very homemade. The jokes were seasonal and were terrible, which is what you expect from this ride. I loved it. Our skipper kept up a non-stop patter and was hilarious. This is one of those rides where you have to go on expecting corny jokes and an irreverent attitude in order to enjoy it, I think. We love it because it’s so cheesy and it’s proud of it.
We knew the park would be emptying around seven for closing so knew we were timing it badly for leaving. There were hordes of people heading for the buses so we decided to go back the way we came. As I mentioned before, we do like the ferry boat anyway.
There was hardly anyone waiting for the Epcot monorail so we got a seat, which probably wouldn’t have been the case on the resort bus. We didn’t have to wait either. Another advantage is that they do tend to have the air con turned right up on the buses but not the monorail. I was damp, it was getting cooler out, and I didn’t have a jacket. I didn’t fancy being frozen on a bus. We’re quite liking our new short/long cut too.
We opted to walk the long way around the World Showcase as I was getting peckish again. Stephen thinks I’m developing a hollow leg but we are doing a lot of walking and it works up an appetite. I stopped off at the Cheese stand to try the Almond crusted blue cheese soufflé with fig jam. The flavour of the blue cheese was a bit too strong for my taste but it was still quite nice. The fig jam was lovely.
As we passed New Zealand, I could smell the meatballs so we stopped off there too. It was just one fairly large meatball in a portion but it was nestled inside a Yorkshire pudding and smothered with a tomato chutney that had just enough bite to make it interesting. It was yummy.
From there we strolled back to the Beach Club where I went to bed with my Kindle and Stephen channel hopped on the TV.
I thought I’d give my views on them so far. Apart from today’s mishap I’m very happy with them if only for the convenience. Usually when we’re walking up the corridor to our room, we have ‘the conversation’.
“Have you got your room key handy?”
“No, can’t you get yours out?”
“It’s in my wallet, can’t you get yours?”
“My hands are full. Can’t you get your wallet out?”
This continues until one of us cracks. Or it did. Now we can’t wait to get to the door so we can tap our Magic Band to the door so it magically opens.
To enter the park, instead of rummaging for our annual passes, we just touch our Bands to the reader and put our finger on the scanner and we’re in. No more trying to put the passes away somewhere safe while being jostled by crowds as we walk into the park.
FastPass. No more finding where we’ve stashed the FP tickets. Just tap the Bands to the reader and we’re in.
Fancy a snack? Tap the Band, enter your pin and it’s charged to your room.
A cast member was telling us that there’s lots more to be rolled out once they’ve got the basic functions working but so far I’m pretty impressed with just the basics. My only reservations are how the FP+ will work once it’s all rolled out but I’m happy to wait and see. If more restaurants adopt it, like Be Our Guest does, I’d be happy to use it for that. I was very impressed with that today.