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McDonald's Apparently Getting French Fry Monopoly at the Olympics

McDonald's Apparently Getting French Fry Monopoly at the Olympics

In a crazy clause, McDonald's bans other vendors from serving fries (unless it's with fish)

Well, this is kind of insane: According to the Telegraph, McDonald's sponsorship deal for the Olympics includes a crazy clause that bans other vendors from serving fries.

"Due to sponsorship obligations with McDonalds, LOCOG have instructed the Catering team that they are no longer able to serve chips on their own anywhere within Olympic Park," the clause reads. "The only loop hole to this is if it is served with fish."

Naturally, we agree that fried fish would be nothing without chips (as they call it on the other side of the pond), but McDonald's embargo on all other fried potato goodness is a bit greedy.

The Guardian confirmed this ban, writing, "To sell fish and chips, the London organizing committee (Locog) had to get a special dispensation from McDonald's, the official restaurant sponsor, which is expected to provide 10 percent of meals served at the Games. Under its deal with the International Olympic Committee, the fast-food chain had the sole rights to sell chips or french fries. It allows Locog's caterers to sell fish and chips, but not chips on their own." Yeesh.

Fortunately, the rest of the Olympic village will be serving up fresh fruit, different types of olives, and all sorts of British food. But that was pretty sneaky, Mickey D's. We're onto you now.

Jessica Chou is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @jesschou.


McDonald's Apparently Getting French Fry Monopoly at the Olympics - Recipes

#1: You need a vacation after your vacation.

#2: I am not a PDG: Professional Disney Goer by any means nor any stretch of the imagination. Case in point, I found that I enjoyed my bathroom breaks as a personal respite, or rather a bit of time away from the hustle and bustle, a delightful pause for my paws, if you will, as I treaded through the parks. Meaning, sometimes, a lot of the time, you just want to sit down, no matter where you get the chance.

#3: I have proven true to myself the words of my parents’ friends some 30-odd years ago, “Take a kid to Disney _____ (land or World) and all they want to do is go to the pool at the hotel.” (#3 has been the basis of my vacation planning until this particular venture, and now I know why.)

We did TWO days of Epcot and barely went on any rides. Okay, okay, that’s because I LOVE the World Showcase and enjoy just hanging out in various countries and talking to all the people that work there who are actually from those countries.

The first day we went to Epcot we went on the new Nemo ride, which is kind of . . . lame, but cute, good for the younger set. Two of you sit in a clam shell and you get to see various parts of the Nemo movie with the backdrop of a huge real-life aquarium. The best part is that you are dropped off in the massive aquatic center where you can continue to tour the aquarium and learn lots of stuff about sea life. That part, I was impressed with.

I really, really wanted to go on the Living with the Land ride that I remember fondly from my previous trip umpteen years ago. But the fast passes were gone by the time we tried to get them on both of the days we were there. And the wait was usually pretty long as well. And I got sucked in by the World Showcase and never went back to try to go on the ride.

The second day of Epcot we got fast passes for the Test Track ride, but my son had been so freaked out by the Expedition Everest ride in Animal Kingdom that he didn’t really feel like sitting in a car that goes from 0-65 in 2 point whatever seconds. And anyway, by the time our fast passes were due we were sitting comfortably in Norway or Mexico or somewhere. Actually I think it was Italy where my family made me buy this Bvlgari perfume that doesn’t even wash off. Some people would say that was a good thing.

So the first day we went to Epcot, we tried to get into Germany. Now, let me give you a little background. The fondest memory my husband and I have of our previous trip to Disney World is our three plus hours we spent in Germany, drinking liter beers, watching the little show they put on with the polka band that at that time included Schuhplattler Dance that my husband took part in (man, I wish I had that on tape).

So I had originally booked reservations for Germany on the first day we were supposed to be in Disney World. Referring back to my previous post (“The Great Disney World Debacle and Why American Airlines Should Be Ashamed Of Themselves Two Time Over”) you’ll know that our flight was cancelled and we didn’t arrive until the day after those reservations.

So we took a shot. I even laid on the “cancelled flight” excuse. Nope. Nein. Kein Essen fur sie. All booked up for that day.

I was sort of crushed, but I knew we’d be back. So initially I made a reservation for the following Saturday and then decided that I’d make even another reservation for Friday in case Saturday was sunny and we wanted to go to the water park (which we did). Friday we made it to Germany. Oh happy day.

The spring in my step that morning. Like a little leprechaun in lederhosen (I know that doesn’t make sense and I’m not Irish, but it sounded good.) (Maybe a Keebler Elf makes more sense.)

I happily approached the podium with my name and reservation at the ready. We were ushered in and there, to what my wondering eyes did appear, the magic of yesteryear. And bless that hostess’s heart, she sat us right down front by the dance floor.

Christina from Hamburg was our waitress. We ordered liter beers, (throughout the afternoon she kept asking, “half?” to which we shook our heads and said “full,” to which she said, “Good for you.”) Christina was the best.

So we made it through THREE of the shows (we calculated that they play for a half hour every hour or so). And it’s not the same show every time (for those of us who like to spend most of their day there.) They do some polkas, some waltzes, the play the bells, the alpenhorn and they do the “Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlichkeit, Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlchkeit, Eins, Zwei, Drei, G’suffa! Zicke, Zacke, Zicke, Zacke, Hoi, Hoi, Hoi!” at least twice during each show. Gotta have the liter beer mug at various levels of beer for that toast every time.

So, our kids loved the food, much to my surprise. It was excellent. All the food provided by Disney was fabulous except for the Character dinner at Chef Mickey’s which apparently, for some reason, though I don’t know why, they think they can get away with sub-par food.

Our son was on the dance floor every time there was a show. I went out there at his request a couple of time to dance, but he didn’t really want to dance WITH me, he just wanted me out there. So I went back and sat down with my beer.

Our daughter was getting bored. I did leave with her for a bit to go out to the shops nearby so she could trade yet even more Pluto pins.

In the end we bid auf wiedersehen to Deutschland and went outside to refill our souvenir German beer mugs at the closest beer stand.

I also love Mexico. Just love it. They had the most awesome Mariachi Band, more professional than I’ve ever heard, every guy had a solo, just fantástico. The little ride they have is so nice. My son said to me, “I know why you like that ride, because of all the dolls!” (I collect dolls and it’s sort of Small World-ish in animation.) They have the San Angel Inn Restaurant, at which unfortunately we did not get to dine this time around due to our cancelled flight. It reminds me of the Blue Bayou in Disneyland with Mexican flair. And the Cava de Tequila (Tequila Cave) a little hole-in-the-wall bar where you can get seriously strong margaritas and even a few tasty Mexican morsels. But my kids wanted to leave. So on we went.

And for some reason we spent about three hours in Norway on the first day we were there. We attempted to stand in line for the Maelstrom ride and after a bit of discussion everyone realized it was far more beneficial to obtain fast passes.

Japan is amazing. They have a HUGE Toy store under the Benihana-esque restaurant located on the second level that has more teppan yaki rooms than I’ve ever seen. In the toy store they have everything my son loves: Pokemon, Yugi-oh, Bakugan, etc. And they even have a little grocery store with all kinds of Japanese Sodas and snacks. We ended up eating at the big restaurant, we waited much longer than we were initially told for a table, but the sushi was excellent quality. (Just as was most of the food produced by Disney establishments.)

But even with two days, it wasn’t enough to see and do all we wanted to in Epcot.

Animal Kingdom:

This is the first park we visited. Apparently it is the largest in area of all of the theme parks. When my husband and I visited so many years ago, Animal Kingdom had just opened and there wasn’t much to it. They had the Safari ride and the Dinosaur ride and pretty much after that we went to the Magic Kingdom. But this time, getting fast passes for those two rides and then waiting in line for Expedition Everest and having lunch at the Tusker House filled up an entire day.

When we arrived we started at the first pin trading stand and my daughter began her new collection. (Refer to post “Disney World Recap #3: Best Tips Including Pin Trading, Fast Passes & Meeting Characters”) It was here that we received a mystery pin for a dollar after spending $30. After that, we hustled our way to the Safari ride to get our fast pass. We would need to return a few hours later for our ride.

Moving on, we hustled all the way back across the park to the Dinosaur ride. Again, we obtained a fast pass. Then, we hustled back to the middle area where the new Expedition Everest roller coaster was. They were no longer offering fast passes for this ride and the wait wasn’t that long, so we decided to stand in line. Unfortunately, this ride scared the bejeezus out of my 8 year old son. It was quite fast. It’s a good roller coaster. Just not for an unsuspecting 8 year old.

We had lunch at the Tusker House, which was surprisingly great African food. Another great option would have been the Yak & Yeti Restaurant which offers Asian cuisine.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the Safari Ride, taking the train to the Conservation Station where we were too late for the petting zoo, and finally back to the Dinosaur ride. By that time it was beginning to rain and we had reservations at the Rainforest Café. But the kids weren’t hungry. They wanted to go to the pool.

So we went back to the hotel and went to the pool.

That evening, though we were all exhausted, we went to Downtown Disney.

Downtown Disney:

Not a Theme Park, but it deserves recognition. Here you will find a plethora of restaurants like Planet Hollywood, House of Blues, Rainforest Café, and T-Rex, etc. You will also find the best and most comprehensive shopping experience. They have a Pin Trading Station with the most Trading Pins you will find anywhere. There is the largest Disney souvenir store anywhere in Disney World. They have a T-shirt making shop where you can make a shirt with your favorite character and add your own words for around $23. There is a Christmas Shop, an Under $10 Store and a huge Lego Imagination Center where a lot of kids could an did spend a lot of time. We visited Downtown Disney more than once for dining and shopping which was a nice break from the parks for an evening or morning.

Magic Kingdom:

Just gonna say, second-time running, this place is not as good as Disneyland, and not because I’m partial to Disneyland being a Californian, and all.

We started in Toon Town because SOMEBODY had to take the train first thing, and that’s where everyone decided to get off. Mind you, I never really liked Toon Town. I don’t know why. It’s not original to Disneyland or World, it came later. Maybe because it’s not enjoyable for the adults. Or maybe because I once spent an hour in line, (in Disneyland), in the rain, for the little tiny roller coaster they have there. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. And this time, again, as my daughter was dragging me back to Pluto’s doghouse, my son dragged his dad on that same roller coaster. Which split the family and left my daughter and I to wait. And then she wanted an ice cream. And we waited in line. And this woman who was working this kiosk was a few cards short of a full deck. And her hair net . . . Anyway, the people in line were looking at each other and mouthing the words, “I don’t know what’s going on.” Apparently, her computer wasn’t working (which happened often) and she could only take cash (which also happened often). So I’m calling my husband to see if my son wants any ice cream and he’s not answering and then I see them approaching as I’m trying to get dollars out of my purse and yell at my husband and getting really frustrated all in all.

From there, I realize that I am hungry, too. And I see a guy walk by with french fries. I’m getting french fries. I get them and my son starts eating them. The kid who just had a box of popcorn. So I get another french fry while the kids go wait in line for the Dumbo ride and then decide they don’t want to wait in line for the Dumbo ride. But they do want to eat my french fries.

From there, on to Small World. This deal you could just walk by without noticing. It has none of the glory and provenance that the LA version does. The line is in a building for crying out loud. How can you put the front of It’s A Small World in a building? Shameful.

We do Tom Sawyer Island, which I always like because it’s quiet. My point there was for the kids to run around while I sat in a sunny spot and decompressed. That sorta worked.

Back to the mainland it was lunchtime. First we argued about whether we were going to have Mexican food, because my son wanted a burrito, but not with meat in it, which they didn’t have and my daughter wanted a taco with chicken in it but they only had beef. We fixed this by my son finally agreeing to a quesadilla and my daughter agreeing to the taco. Conveniently, these also came with grapes and cookies.

Onto Pirates of the Caribbean, which as we all know has been changed a lot to cater to Jack Sparrow and the movie/s. It’s located in Adventureland which is not like the French Quarter in Disneyland. Instead the area has a sort of Mexican/Caribbean/African feel. I kinda like the French Quarter area better, in fact I think it’s my favorite area in Disneyland and it’s missing here in Disney World. Anyway, it was really dark on the ride.

Then the Jungle Cruise. Same as Disneyland. Same spiel you’ve hear a hundred times. But cute for the kids.

Then the Haunted Mansion. It was really dark in there, too. It’s not that scary and it’s really well done. I just kept marveling that this seemingly very long ride was housed in that huge brick building. I’d love to see everything in some light. But it was really, really dark in there.

And I have to mention, on almost every ride, we got stuck. I’m assuming they may have been loading and unloading riders who needed extra help. But like in the Haunted Mansion and Small World, it was a good bit of time just sitting, waiting, wondering.

Finally, they’ve put a show stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle that has a lot to do with Peter Pan and Captain Hook, but also involved the Princesses and Mickey & Minnie. I think it’s called Mickey Mouse’s Dream or Wishes or Something or Other. By this time the sun was going down and we were all really cold.

So off we went to bluezoo at the Dolphin Hotel for dinner.

Disney Hollywood Studios: (Disney’s answer to Universal Studios)

As we overheard in the Prime Time 50’s Diner when a “guest” asked the bartender, “Is there any where that’s not busy?” And the bartender replied, “Universal.”

We did Star Tours here, which was not as great as I remember from Disneyland, but maybe that’s because the last time I went on it was years ago and it may have been revolutionary then.

Then we took a break in the sun and decided we’d wait for the Indiana Jones stunt show. We actually sat front and center in the audience thanks to my kids racing down the stairs. And because of that, my kids got to go up onstage, say their names and ages, and say “Lights, Camera, Action!” and meet the Indiana Jones and Karen Allen stunt doubles after the show and take a photo with them.

The show itself was very similar to the car stunt show we went to right after. They get the director and the stunt director and all these supposedly behind-the-scenes people to tell you what it’s like to shoot movie scenes. I will say that the car stunts were pretty cool. Backwards, forwards, over ramps, motorcycles, a jet ski, fire, etc. I was just happy I was sitting down.

But after that final show, we had had about enough and all the kids wanted to do was go swimming (which is what they always wanted to do, all of the time). So we went back to the hotel, went to the BIG pool for an hour or two and then went back to the room to get ready for our character dinner at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Hotel. (refer to posting “The Sherriff, Pluto, Tom, & Kermit”)

Typhoon Lagoon:

Finally, on our last full day, I got what I was looking for in a vacation. A beach/pool type atmosphere where I wear my swimsuit, no shoes, Jimmy Buffett is playing in the background and I’m sipping a frozen margarita, my kids no where to be found. I was thinking to myself, “Why didn’t we come here the first day?” Because then my kids would have wanted to come here every day after even in freezing cold temperatures.

The size of the place is unbelievable. This puts all other water parks to shame. The slides, the lazy river, the beaches, the tsunami size wave pool, the snack bars, the palm trees, the . . . .

And it’s only open while the sun is up so there’s no getting sucked into staying til way later than you thought you would and all of a sudden it’s 11:00 p.m. While we were there, it closed at 5:00, a nice civilized time to go back to the room and get ready for dinner. Just as you would do if you were on a normal vacation that consisted of sleeping in, getting dressed for the pool and beach, going to the pool for a little while, going to the beach for a little while, grabbing some lunch, maybe a cocktail, going back to the beach, then back to the pool, and then back to the room to get dressed for dinner. Seven days of that and I’m a happy camper.

Think you have enough time in one day for one park, hear me now and hear me later (yes, hear me now and then when you’re there, you’ll hear me later) YOU DO NOT! Unless you get up earlier than I did, stay later than I did, or have more energy than I or my family did. This is probably why a lot of families reserve a day or more to spend by the pool . . . if it’s warm enough. You need days to re-energize and recuperate. To go, go, go every day in a row can take a lot out of you, but if you want to get as much of it in as you can, it seems that that is what you have to do. Unless you plan to visit more than once every . . . lifetime.


McDonald's Apparently Getting French Fry Monopoly at the Olympics - Recipes

#1: You need a vacation after your vacation.

#2: I am not a PDG: Professional Disney Goer by any means nor any stretch of the imagination. Case in point, I found that I enjoyed my bathroom breaks as a personal respite, or rather a bit of time away from the hustle and bustle, a delightful pause for my paws, if you will, as I treaded through the parks. Meaning, sometimes, a lot of the time, you just want to sit down, no matter where you get the chance.

#3: I have proven true to myself the words of my parents’ friends some 30-odd years ago, “Take a kid to Disney _____ (land or World) and all they want to do is go to the pool at the hotel.” (#3 has been the basis of my vacation planning until this particular venture, and now I know why.)

We did TWO days of Epcot and barely went on any rides. Okay, okay, that’s because I LOVE the World Showcase and enjoy just hanging out in various countries and talking to all the people that work there who are actually from those countries.

The first day we went to Epcot we went on the new Nemo ride, which is kind of . . . lame, but cute, good for the younger set. Two of you sit in a clam shell and you get to see various parts of the Nemo movie with the backdrop of a huge real-life aquarium. The best part is that you are dropped off in the massive aquatic center where you can continue to tour the aquarium and learn lots of stuff about sea life. That part, I was impressed with.

I really, really wanted to go on the Living with the Land ride that I remember fondly from my previous trip umpteen years ago. But the fast passes were gone by the time we tried to get them on both of the days we were there. And the wait was usually pretty long as well. And I got sucked in by the World Showcase and never went back to try to go on the ride.

The second day of Epcot we got fast passes for the Test Track ride, but my son had been so freaked out by the Expedition Everest ride in Animal Kingdom that he didn’t really feel like sitting in a car that goes from 0-65 in 2 point whatever seconds. And anyway, by the time our fast passes were due we were sitting comfortably in Norway or Mexico or somewhere. Actually I think it was Italy where my family made me buy this Bvlgari perfume that doesn’t even wash off. Some people would say that was a good thing.

So the first day we went to Epcot, we tried to get into Germany. Now, let me give you a little background. The fondest memory my husband and I have of our previous trip to Disney World is our three plus hours we spent in Germany, drinking liter beers, watching the little show they put on with the polka band that at that time included Schuhplattler Dance that my husband took part in (man, I wish I had that on tape).

So I had originally booked reservations for Germany on the first day we were supposed to be in Disney World. Referring back to my previous post (“The Great Disney World Debacle and Why American Airlines Should Be Ashamed Of Themselves Two Time Over”) you’ll know that our flight was cancelled and we didn’t arrive until the day after those reservations.

So we took a shot. I even laid on the “cancelled flight” excuse. Nope. Nein. Kein Essen fur sie. All booked up for that day.

I was sort of crushed, but I knew we’d be back. So initially I made a reservation for the following Saturday and then decided that I’d make even another reservation for Friday in case Saturday was sunny and we wanted to go to the water park (which we did). Friday we made it to Germany. Oh happy day.

The spring in my step that morning. Like a little leprechaun in lederhosen (I know that doesn’t make sense and I’m not Irish, but it sounded good.) (Maybe a Keebler Elf makes more sense.)

I happily approached the podium with my name and reservation at the ready. We were ushered in and there, to what my wondering eyes did appear, the magic of yesteryear. And bless that hostess’s heart, she sat us right down front by the dance floor.

Christina from Hamburg was our waitress. We ordered liter beers, (throughout the afternoon she kept asking, “half?” to which we shook our heads and said “full,” to which she said, “Good for you.”) Christina was the best.

So we made it through THREE of the shows (we calculated that they play for a half hour every hour or so). And it’s not the same show every time (for those of us who like to spend most of their day there.) They do some polkas, some waltzes, the play the bells, the alpenhorn and they do the “Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlichkeit, Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlchkeit, Eins, Zwei, Drei, G’suffa! Zicke, Zacke, Zicke, Zacke, Hoi, Hoi, Hoi!” at least twice during each show. Gotta have the liter beer mug at various levels of beer for that toast every time.

So, our kids loved the food, much to my surprise. It was excellent. All the food provided by Disney was fabulous except for the Character dinner at Chef Mickey’s which apparently, for some reason, though I don’t know why, they think they can get away with sub-par food.

Our son was on the dance floor every time there was a show. I went out there at his request a couple of time to dance, but he didn’t really want to dance WITH me, he just wanted me out there. So I went back and sat down with my beer.

Our daughter was getting bored. I did leave with her for a bit to go out to the shops nearby so she could trade yet even more Pluto pins.

In the end we bid auf wiedersehen to Deutschland and went outside to refill our souvenir German beer mugs at the closest beer stand.

I also love Mexico. Just love it. They had the most awesome Mariachi Band, more professional than I’ve ever heard, every guy had a solo, just fantástico. The little ride they have is so nice. My son said to me, “I know why you like that ride, because of all the dolls!” (I collect dolls and it’s sort of Small World-ish in animation.) They have the San Angel Inn Restaurant, at which unfortunately we did not get to dine this time around due to our cancelled flight. It reminds me of the Blue Bayou in Disneyland with Mexican flair. And the Cava de Tequila (Tequila Cave) a little hole-in-the-wall bar where you can get seriously strong margaritas and even a few tasty Mexican morsels. But my kids wanted to leave. So on we went.

And for some reason we spent about three hours in Norway on the first day we were there. We attempted to stand in line for the Maelstrom ride and after a bit of discussion everyone realized it was far more beneficial to obtain fast passes.

Japan is amazing. They have a HUGE Toy store under the Benihana-esque restaurant located on the second level that has more teppan yaki rooms than I’ve ever seen. In the toy store they have everything my son loves: Pokemon, Yugi-oh, Bakugan, etc. And they even have a little grocery store with all kinds of Japanese Sodas and snacks. We ended up eating at the big restaurant, we waited much longer than we were initially told for a table, but the sushi was excellent quality. (Just as was most of the food produced by Disney establishments.)

But even with two days, it wasn’t enough to see and do all we wanted to in Epcot.

Animal Kingdom:

This is the first park we visited. Apparently it is the largest in area of all of the theme parks. When my husband and I visited so many years ago, Animal Kingdom had just opened and there wasn’t much to it. They had the Safari ride and the Dinosaur ride and pretty much after that we went to the Magic Kingdom. But this time, getting fast passes for those two rides and then waiting in line for Expedition Everest and having lunch at the Tusker House filled up an entire day.

When we arrived we started at the first pin trading stand and my daughter began her new collection. (Refer to post “Disney World Recap #3: Best Tips Including Pin Trading, Fast Passes & Meeting Characters”) It was here that we received a mystery pin for a dollar after spending $30. After that, we hustled our way to the Safari ride to get our fast pass. We would need to return a few hours later for our ride.

Moving on, we hustled all the way back across the park to the Dinosaur ride. Again, we obtained a fast pass. Then, we hustled back to the middle area where the new Expedition Everest roller coaster was. They were no longer offering fast passes for this ride and the wait wasn’t that long, so we decided to stand in line. Unfortunately, this ride scared the bejeezus out of my 8 year old son. It was quite fast. It’s a good roller coaster. Just not for an unsuspecting 8 year old.

We had lunch at the Tusker House, which was surprisingly great African food. Another great option would have been the Yak & Yeti Restaurant which offers Asian cuisine.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the Safari Ride, taking the train to the Conservation Station where we were too late for the petting zoo, and finally back to the Dinosaur ride. By that time it was beginning to rain and we had reservations at the Rainforest Café. But the kids weren’t hungry. They wanted to go to the pool.

So we went back to the hotel and went to the pool.

That evening, though we were all exhausted, we went to Downtown Disney.

Downtown Disney:

Not a Theme Park, but it deserves recognition. Here you will find a plethora of restaurants like Planet Hollywood, House of Blues, Rainforest Café, and T-Rex, etc. You will also find the best and most comprehensive shopping experience. They have a Pin Trading Station with the most Trading Pins you will find anywhere. There is the largest Disney souvenir store anywhere in Disney World. They have a T-shirt making shop where you can make a shirt with your favorite character and add your own words for around $23. There is a Christmas Shop, an Under $10 Store and a huge Lego Imagination Center where a lot of kids could an did spend a lot of time. We visited Downtown Disney more than once for dining and shopping which was a nice break from the parks for an evening or morning.

Magic Kingdom:

Just gonna say, second-time running, this place is not as good as Disneyland, and not because I’m partial to Disneyland being a Californian, and all.

We started in Toon Town because SOMEBODY had to take the train first thing, and that’s where everyone decided to get off. Mind you, I never really liked Toon Town. I don’t know why. It’s not original to Disneyland or World, it came later. Maybe because it’s not enjoyable for the adults. Or maybe because I once spent an hour in line, (in Disneyland), in the rain, for the little tiny roller coaster they have there. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. And this time, again, as my daughter was dragging me back to Pluto’s doghouse, my son dragged his dad on that same roller coaster. Which split the family and left my daughter and I to wait. And then she wanted an ice cream. And we waited in line. And this woman who was working this kiosk was a few cards short of a full deck. And her hair net . . . Anyway, the people in line were looking at each other and mouthing the words, “I don’t know what’s going on.” Apparently, her computer wasn’t working (which happened often) and she could only take cash (which also happened often). So I’m calling my husband to see if my son wants any ice cream and he’s not answering and then I see them approaching as I’m trying to get dollars out of my purse and yell at my husband and getting really frustrated all in all.

From there, I realize that I am hungry, too. And I see a guy walk by with french fries. I’m getting french fries. I get them and my son starts eating them. The kid who just had a box of popcorn. So I get another french fry while the kids go wait in line for the Dumbo ride and then decide they don’t want to wait in line for the Dumbo ride. But they do want to eat my french fries.

From there, on to Small World. This deal you could just walk by without noticing. It has none of the glory and provenance that the LA version does. The line is in a building for crying out loud. How can you put the front of It’s A Small World in a building? Shameful.

We do Tom Sawyer Island, which I always like because it’s quiet. My point there was for the kids to run around while I sat in a sunny spot and decompressed. That sorta worked.

Back to the mainland it was lunchtime. First we argued about whether we were going to have Mexican food, because my son wanted a burrito, but not with meat in it, which they didn’t have and my daughter wanted a taco with chicken in it but they only had beef. We fixed this by my son finally agreeing to a quesadilla and my daughter agreeing to the taco. Conveniently, these also came with grapes and cookies.

Onto Pirates of the Caribbean, which as we all know has been changed a lot to cater to Jack Sparrow and the movie/s. It’s located in Adventureland which is not like the French Quarter in Disneyland. Instead the area has a sort of Mexican/Caribbean/African feel. I kinda like the French Quarter area better, in fact I think it’s my favorite area in Disneyland and it’s missing here in Disney World. Anyway, it was really dark on the ride.

Then the Jungle Cruise. Same as Disneyland. Same spiel you’ve hear a hundred times. But cute for the kids.

Then the Haunted Mansion. It was really dark in there, too. It’s not that scary and it’s really well done. I just kept marveling that this seemingly very long ride was housed in that huge brick building. I’d love to see everything in some light. But it was really, really dark in there.

And I have to mention, on almost every ride, we got stuck. I’m assuming they may have been loading and unloading riders who needed extra help. But like in the Haunted Mansion and Small World, it was a good bit of time just sitting, waiting, wondering.

Finally, they’ve put a show stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle that has a lot to do with Peter Pan and Captain Hook, but also involved the Princesses and Mickey & Minnie. I think it’s called Mickey Mouse’s Dream or Wishes or Something or Other. By this time the sun was going down and we were all really cold.

So off we went to bluezoo at the Dolphin Hotel for dinner.

Disney Hollywood Studios: (Disney’s answer to Universal Studios)

As we overheard in the Prime Time 50’s Diner when a “guest” asked the bartender, “Is there any where that’s not busy?” And the bartender replied, “Universal.”

We did Star Tours here, which was not as great as I remember from Disneyland, but maybe that’s because the last time I went on it was years ago and it may have been revolutionary then.

Then we took a break in the sun and decided we’d wait for the Indiana Jones stunt show. We actually sat front and center in the audience thanks to my kids racing down the stairs. And because of that, my kids got to go up onstage, say their names and ages, and say “Lights, Camera, Action!” and meet the Indiana Jones and Karen Allen stunt doubles after the show and take a photo with them.

The show itself was very similar to the car stunt show we went to right after. They get the director and the stunt director and all these supposedly behind-the-scenes people to tell you what it’s like to shoot movie scenes. I will say that the car stunts were pretty cool. Backwards, forwards, over ramps, motorcycles, a jet ski, fire, etc. I was just happy I was sitting down.

But after that final show, we had had about enough and all the kids wanted to do was go swimming (which is what they always wanted to do, all of the time). So we went back to the hotel, went to the BIG pool for an hour or two and then went back to the room to get ready for our character dinner at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Hotel. (refer to posting “The Sherriff, Pluto, Tom, & Kermit”)

Typhoon Lagoon:

Finally, on our last full day, I got what I was looking for in a vacation. A beach/pool type atmosphere where I wear my swimsuit, no shoes, Jimmy Buffett is playing in the background and I’m sipping a frozen margarita, my kids no where to be found. I was thinking to myself, “Why didn’t we come here the first day?” Because then my kids would have wanted to come here every day after even in freezing cold temperatures.

The size of the place is unbelievable. This puts all other water parks to shame. The slides, the lazy river, the beaches, the tsunami size wave pool, the snack bars, the palm trees, the . . . .

And it’s only open while the sun is up so there’s no getting sucked into staying til way later than you thought you would and all of a sudden it’s 11:00 p.m. While we were there, it closed at 5:00, a nice civilized time to go back to the room and get ready for dinner. Just as you would do if you were on a normal vacation that consisted of sleeping in, getting dressed for the pool and beach, going to the pool for a little while, going to the beach for a little while, grabbing some lunch, maybe a cocktail, going back to the beach, then back to the pool, and then back to the room to get dressed for dinner. Seven days of that and I’m a happy camper.

Think you have enough time in one day for one park, hear me now and hear me later (yes, hear me now and then when you’re there, you’ll hear me later) YOU DO NOT! Unless you get up earlier than I did, stay later than I did, or have more energy than I or my family did. This is probably why a lot of families reserve a day or more to spend by the pool . . . if it’s warm enough. You need days to re-energize and recuperate. To go, go, go every day in a row can take a lot out of you, but if you want to get as much of it in as you can, it seems that that is what you have to do. Unless you plan to visit more than once every . . . lifetime.


McDonald's Apparently Getting French Fry Monopoly at the Olympics - Recipes

#1: You need a vacation after your vacation.

#2: I am not a PDG: Professional Disney Goer by any means nor any stretch of the imagination. Case in point, I found that I enjoyed my bathroom breaks as a personal respite, or rather a bit of time away from the hustle and bustle, a delightful pause for my paws, if you will, as I treaded through the parks. Meaning, sometimes, a lot of the time, you just want to sit down, no matter where you get the chance.

#3: I have proven true to myself the words of my parents’ friends some 30-odd years ago, “Take a kid to Disney _____ (land or World) and all they want to do is go to the pool at the hotel.” (#3 has been the basis of my vacation planning until this particular venture, and now I know why.)

We did TWO days of Epcot and barely went on any rides. Okay, okay, that’s because I LOVE the World Showcase and enjoy just hanging out in various countries and talking to all the people that work there who are actually from those countries.

The first day we went to Epcot we went on the new Nemo ride, which is kind of . . . lame, but cute, good for the younger set. Two of you sit in a clam shell and you get to see various parts of the Nemo movie with the backdrop of a huge real-life aquarium. The best part is that you are dropped off in the massive aquatic center where you can continue to tour the aquarium and learn lots of stuff about sea life. That part, I was impressed with.

I really, really wanted to go on the Living with the Land ride that I remember fondly from my previous trip umpteen years ago. But the fast passes were gone by the time we tried to get them on both of the days we were there. And the wait was usually pretty long as well. And I got sucked in by the World Showcase and never went back to try to go on the ride.

The second day of Epcot we got fast passes for the Test Track ride, but my son had been so freaked out by the Expedition Everest ride in Animal Kingdom that he didn’t really feel like sitting in a car that goes from 0-65 in 2 point whatever seconds. And anyway, by the time our fast passes were due we were sitting comfortably in Norway or Mexico or somewhere. Actually I think it was Italy where my family made me buy this Bvlgari perfume that doesn’t even wash off. Some people would say that was a good thing.

So the first day we went to Epcot, we tried to get into Germany. Now, let me give you a little background. The fondest memory my husband and I have of our previous trip to Disney World is our three plus hours we spent in Germany, drinking liter beers, watching the little show they put on with the polka band that at that time included Schuhplattler Dance that my husband took part in (man, I wish I had that on tape).

So I had originally booked reservations for Germany on the first day we were supposed to be in Disney World. Referring back to my previous post (“The Great Disney World Debacle and Why American Airlines Should Be Ashamed Of Themselves Two Time Over”) you’ll know that our flight was cancelled and we didn’t arrive until the day after those reservations.

So we took a shot. I even laid on the “cancelled flight” excuse. Nope. Nein. Kein Essen fur sie. All booked up for that day.

I was sort of crushed, but I knew we’d be back. So initially I made a reservation for the following Saturday and then decided that I’d make even another reservation for Friday in case Saturday was sunny and we wanted to go to the water park (which we did). Friday we made it to Germany. Oh happy day.

The spring in my step that morning. Like a little leprechaun in lederhosen (I know that doesn’t make sense and I’m not Irish, but it sounded good.) (Maybe a Keebler Elf makes more sense.)

I happily approached the podium with my name and reservation at the ready. We were ushered in and there, to what my wondering eyes did appear, the magic of yesteryear. And bless that hostess’s heart, she sat us right down front by the dance floor.

Christina from Hamburg was our waitress. We ordered liter beers, (throughout the afternoon she kept asking, “half?” to which we shook our heads and said “full,” to which she said, “Good for you.”) Christina was the best.

So we made it through THREE of the shows (we calculated that they play for a half hour every hour or so). And it’s not the same show every time (for those of us who like to spend most of their day there.) They do some polkas, some waltzes, the play the bells, the alpenhorn and they do the “Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlichkeit, Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlchkeit, Eins, Zwei, Drei, G’suffa! Zicke, Zacke, Zicke, Zacke, Hoi, Hoi, Hoi!” at least twice during each show. Gotta have the liter beer mug at various levels of beer for that toast every time.

So, our kids loved the food, much to my surprise. It was excellent. All the food provided by Disney was fabulous except for the Character dinner at Chef Mickey’s which apparently, for some reason, though I don’t know why, they think they can get away with sub-par food.

Our son was on the dance floor every time there was a show. I went out there at his request a couple of time to dance, but he didn’t really want to dance WITH me, he just wanted me out there. So I went back and sat down with my beer.

Our daughter was getting bored. I did leave with her for a bit to go out to the shops nearby so she could trade yet even more Pluto pins.

In the end we bid auf wiedersehen to Deutschland and went outside to refill our souvenir German beer mugs at the closest beer stand.

I also love Mexico. Just love it. They had the most awesome Mariachi Band, more professional than I’ve ever heard, every guy had a solo, just fantástico. The little ride they have is so nice. My son said to me, “I know why you like that ride, because of all the dolls!” (I collect dolls and it’s sort of Small World-ish in animation.) They have the San Angel Inn Restaurant, at which unfortunately we did not get to dine this time around due to our cancelled flight. It reminds me of the Blue Bayou in Disneyland with Mexican flair. And the Cava de Tequila (Tequila Cave) a little hole-in-the-wall bar where you can get seriously strong margaritas and even a few tasty Mexican morsels. But my kids wanted to leave. So on we went.

And for some reason we spent about three hours in Norway on the first day we were there. We attempted to stand in line for the Maelstrom ride and after a bit of discussion everyone realized it was far more beneficial to obtain fast passes.

Japan is amazing. They have a HUGE Toy store under the Benihana-esque restaurant located on the second level that has more teppan yaki rooms than I’ve ever seen. In the toy store they have everything my son loves: Pokemon, Yugi-oh, Bakugan, etc. And they even have a little grocery store with all kinds of Japanese Sodas and snacks. We ended up eating at the big restaurant, we waited much longer than we were initially told for a table, but the sushi was excellent quality. (Just as was most of the food produced by Disney establishments.)

But even with two days, it wasn’t enough to see and do all we wanted to in Epcot.

Animal Kingdom:

This is the first park we visited. Apparently it is the largest in area of all of the theme parks. When my husband and I visited so many years ago, Animal Kingdom had just opened and there wasn’t much to it. They had the Safari ride and the Dinosaur ride and pretty much after that we went to the Magic Kingdom. But this time, getting fast passes for those two rides and then waiting in line for Expedition Everest and having lunch at the Tusker House filled up an entire day.

When we arrived we started at the first pin trading stand and my daughter began her new collection. (Refer to post “Disney World Recap #3: Best Tips Including Pin Trading, Fast Passes & Meeting Characters”) It was here that we received a mystery pin for a dollar after spending $30. After that, we hustled our way to the Safari ride to get our fast pass. We would need to return a few hours later for our ride.

Moving on, we hustled all the way back across the park to the Dinosaur ride. Again, we obtained a fast pass. Then, we hustled back to the middle area where the new Expedition Everest roller coaster was. They were no longer offering fast passes for this ride and the wait wasn’t that long, so we decided to stand in line. Unfortunately, this ride scared the bejeezus out of my 8 year old son. It was quite fast. It’s a good roller coaster. Just not for an unsuspecting 8 year old.

We had lunch at the Tusker House, which was surprisingly great African food. Another great option would have been the Yak & Yeti Restaurant which offers Asian cuisine.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the Safari Ride, taking the train to the Conservation Station where we were too late for the petting zoo, and finally back to the Dinosaur ride. By that time it was beginning to rain and we had reservations at the Rainforest Café. But the kids weren’t hungry. They wanted to go to the pool.

So we went back to the hotel and went to the pool.

That evening, though we were all exhausted, we went to Downtown Disney.

Downtown Disney:

Not a Theme Park, but it deserves recognition. Here you will find a plethora of restaurants like Planet Hollywood, House of Blues, Rainforest Café, and T-Rex, etc. You will also find the best and most comprehensive shopping experience. They have a Pin Trading Station with the most Trading Pins you will find anywhere. There is the largest Disney souvenir store anywhere in Disney World. They have a T-shirt making shop where you can make a shirt with your favorite character and add your own words for around $23. There is a Christmas Shop, an Under $10 Store and a huge Lego Imagination Center where a lot of kids could an did spend a lot of time. We visited Downtown Disney more than once for dining and shopping which was a nice break from the parks for an evening or morning.

Magic Kingdom:

Just gonna say, second-time running, this place is not as good as Disneyland, and not because I’m partial to Disneyland being a Californian, and all.

We started in Toon Town because SOMEBODY had to take the train first thing, and that’s where everyone decided to get off. Mind you, I never really liked Toon Town. I don’t know why. It’s not original to Disneyland or World, it came later. Maybe because it’s not enjoyable for the adults. Or maybe because I once spent an hour in line, (in Disneyland), in the rain, for the little tiny roller coaster they have there. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. And this time, again, as my daughter was dragging me back to Pluto’s doghouse, my son dragged his dad on that same roller coaster. Which split the family and left my daughter and I to wait. And then she wanted an ice cream. And we waited in line. And this woman who was working this kiosk was a few cards short of a full deck. And her hair net . . . Anyway, the people in line were looking at each other and mouthing the words, “I don’t know what’s going on.” Apparently, her computer wasn’t working (which happened often) and she could only take cash (which also happened often). So I’m calling my husband to see if my son wants any ice cream and he’s not answering and then I see them approaching as I’m trying to get dollars out of my purse and yell at my husband and getting really frustrated all in all.

From there, I realize that I am hungry, too. And I see a guy walk by with french fries. I’m getting french fries. I get them and my son starts eating them. The kid who just had a box of popcorn. So I get another french fry while the kids go wait in line for the Dumbo ride and then decide they don’t want to wait in line for the Dumbo ride. But they do want to eat my french fries.

From there, on to Small World. This deal you could just walk by without noticing. It has none of the glory and provenance that the LA version does. The line is in a building for crying out loud. How can you put the front of It’s A Small World in a building? Shameful.

We do Tom Sawyer Island, which I always like because it’s quiet. My point there was for the kids to run around while I sat in a sunny spot and decompressed. That sorta worked.

Back to the mainland it was lunchtime. First we argued about whether we were going to have Mexican food, because my son wanted a burrito, but not with meat in it, which they didn’t have and my daughter wanted a taco with chicken in it but they only had beef. We fixed this by my son finally agreeing to a quesadilla and my daughter agreeing to the taco. Conveniently, these also came with grapes and cookies.

Onto Pirates of the Caribbean, which as we all know has been changed a lot to cater to Jack Sparrow and the movie/s. It’s located in Adventureland which is not like the French Quarter in Disneyland. Instead the area has a sort of Mexican/Caribbean/African feel. I kinda like the French Quarter area better, in fact I think it’s my favorite area in Disneyland and it’s missing here in Disney World. Anyway, it was really dark on the ride.

Then the Jungle Cruise. Same as Disneyland. Same spiel you’ve hear a hundred times. But cute for the kids.

Then the Haunted Mansion. It was really dark in there, too. It’s not that scary and it’s really well done. I just kept marveling that this seemingly very long ride was housed in that huge brick building. I’d love to see everything in some light. But it was really, really dark in there.

And I have to mention, on almost every ride, we got stuck. I’m assuming they may have been loading and unloading riders who needed extra help. But like in the Haunted Mansion and Small World, it was a good bit of time just sitting, waiting, wondering.

Finally, they’ve put a show stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle that has a lot to do with Peter Pan and Captain Hook, but also involved the Princesses and Mickey & Minnie. I think it’s called Mickey Mouse’s Dream or Wishes or Something or Other. By this time the sun was going down and we were all really cold.

So off we went to bluezoo at the Dolphin Hotel for dinner.

Disney Hollywood Studios: (Disney’s answer to Universal Studios)

As we overheard in the Prime Time 50’s Diner when a “guest” asked the bartender, “Is there any where that’s not busy?” And the bartender replied, “Universal.”

We did Star Tours here, which was not as great as I remember from Disneyland, but maybe that’s because the last time I went on it was years ago and it may have been revolutionary then.

Then we took a break in the sun and decided we’d wait for the Indiana Jones stunt show. We actually sat front and center in the audience thanks to my kids racing down the stairs. And because of that, my kids got to go up onstage, say their names and ages, and say “Lights, Camera, Action!” and meet the Indiana Jones and Karen Allen stunt doubles after the show and take a photo with them.

The show itself was very similar to the car stunt show we went to right after. They get the director and the stunt director and all these supposedly behind-the-scenes people to tell you what it’s like to shoot movie scenes. I will say that the car stunts were pretty cool. Backwards, forwards, over ramps, motorcycles, a jet ski, fire, etc. I was just happy I was sitting down.

But after that final show, we had had about enough and all the kids wanted to do was go swimming (which is what they always wanted to do, all of the time). So we went back to the hotel, went to the BIG pool for an hour or two and then went back to the room to get ready for our character dinner at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Hotel. (refer to posting “The Sherriff, Pluto, Tom, & Kermit”)

Typhoon Lagoon:

Finally, on our last full day, I got what I was looking for in a vacation. A beach/pool type atmosphere where I wear my swimsuit, no shoes, Jimmy Buffett is playing in the background and I’m sipping a frozen margarita, my kids no where to be found. I was thinking to myself, “Why didn’t we come here the first day?” Because then my kids would have wanted to come here every day after even in freezing cold temperatures.

The size of the place is unbelievable. This puts all other water parks to shame. The slides, the lazy river, the beaches, the tsunami size wave pool, the snack bars, the palm trees, the . . . .

And it’s only open while the sun is up so there’s no getting sucked into staying til way later than you thought you would and all of a sudden it’s 11:00 p.m. While we were there, it closed at 5:00, a nice civilized time to go back to the room and get ready for dinner. Just as you would do if you were on a normal vacation that consisted of sleeping in, getting dressed for the pool and beach, going to the pool for a little while, going to the beach for a little while, grabbing some lunch, maybe a cocktail, going back to the beach, then back to the pool, and then back to the room to get dressed for dinner. Seven days of that and I’m a happy camper.

Think you have enough time in one day for one park, hear me now and hear me later (yes, hear me now and then when you’re there, you’ll hear me later) YOU DO NOT! Unless you get up earlier than I did, stay later than I did, or have more energy than I or my family did. This is probably why a lot of families reserve a day or more to spend by the pool . . . if it’s warm enough. You need days to re-energize and recuperate. To go, go, go every day in a row can take a lot out of you, but if you want to get as much of it in as you can, it seems that that is what you have to do. Unless you plan to visit more than once every . . . lifetime.


McDonald's Apparently Getting French Fry Monopoly at the Olympics - Recipes

#1: You need a vacation after your vacation.

#2: I am not a PDG: Professional Disney Goer by any means nor any stretch of the imagination. Case in point, I found that I enjoyed my bathroom breaks as a personal respite, or rather a bit of time away from the hustle and bustle, a delightful pause for my paws, if you will, as I treaded through the parks. Meaning, sometimes, a lot of the time, you just want to sit down, no matter where you get the chance.

#3: I have proven true to myself the words of my parents’ friends some 30-odd years ago, “Take a kid to Disney _____ (land or World) and all they want to do is go to the pool at the hotel.” (#3 has been the basis of my vacation planning until this particular venture, and now I know why.)

We did TWO days of Epcot and barely went on any rides. Okay, okay, that’s because I LOVE the World Showcase and enjoy just hanging out in various countries and talking to all the people that work there who are actually from those countries.

The first day we went to Epcot we went on the new Nemo ride, which is kind of . . . lame, but cute, good for the younger set. Two of you sit in a clam shell and you get to see various parts of the Nemo movie with the backdrop of a huge real-life aquarium. The best part is that you are dropped off in the massive aquatic center where you can continue to tour the aquarium and learn lots of stuff about sea life. That part, I was impressed with.

I really, really wanted to go on the Living with the Land ride that I remember fondly from my previous trip umpteen years ago. But the fast passes were gone by the time we tried to get them on both of the days we were there. And the wait was usually pretty long as well. And I got sucked in by the World Showcase and never went back to try to go on the ride.

The second day of Epcot we got fast passes for the Test Track ride, but my son had been so freaked out by the Expedition Everest ride in Animal Kingdom that he didn’t really feel like sitting in a car that goes from 0-65 in 2 point whatever seconds. And anyway, by the time our fast passes were due we were sitting comfortably in Norway or Mexico or somewhere. Actually I think it was Italy where my family made me buy this Bvlgari perfume that doesn’t even wash off. Some people would say that was a good thing.

So the first day we went to Epcot, we tried to get into Germany. Now, let me give you a little background. The fondest memory my husband and I have of our previous trip to Disney World is our three plus hours we spent in Germany, drinking liter beers, watching the little show they put on with the polka band that at that time included Schuhplattler Dance that my husband took part in (man, I wish I had that on tape).

So I had originally booked reservations for Germany on the first day we were supposed to be in Disney World. Referring back to my previous post (“The Great Disney World Debacle and Why American Airlines Should Be Ashamed Of Themselves Two Time Over”) you’ll know that our flight was cancelled and we didn’t arrive until the day after those reservations.

So we took a shot. I even laid on the “cancelled flight” excuse. Nope. Nein. Kein Essen fur sie. All booked up for that day.

I was sort of crushed, but I knew we’d be back. So initially I made a reservation for the following Saturday and then decided that I’d make even another reservation for Friday in case Saturday was sunny and we wanted to go to the water park (which we did). Friday we made it to Germany. Oh happy day.

The spring in my step that morning. Like a little leprechaun in lederhosen (I know that doesn’t make sense and I’m not Irish, but it sounded good.) (Maybe a Keebler Elf makes more sense.)

I happily approached the podium with my name and reservation at the ready. We were ushered in and there, to what my wondering eyes did appear, the magic of yesteryear. And bless that hostess’s heart, she sat us right down front by the dance floor.

Christina from Hamburg was our waitress. We ordered liter beers, (throughout the afternoon she kept asking, “half?” to which we shook our heads and said “full,” to which she said, “Good for you.”) Christina was the best.

So we made it through THREE of the shows (we calculated that they play for a half hour every hour or so). And it’s not the same show every time (for those of us who like to spend most of their day there.) They do some polkas, some waltzes, the play the bells, the alpenhorn and they do the “Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlichkeit, Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlchkeit, Eins, Zwei, Drei, G’suffa! Zicke, Zacke, Zicke, Zacke, Hoi, Hoi, Hoi!” at least twice during each show. Gotta have the liter beer mug at various levels of beer for that toast every time.

So, our kids loved the food, much to my surprise. It was excellent. All the food provided by Disney was fabulous except for the Character dinner at Chef Mickey’s which apparently, for some reason, though I don’t know why, they think they can get away with sub-par food.

Our son was on the dance floor every time there was a show. I went out there at his request a couple of time to dance, but he didn’t really want to dance WITH me, he just wanted me out there. So I went back and sat down with my beer.

Our daughter was getting bored. I did leave with her for a bit to go out to the shops nearby so she could trade yet even more Pluto pins.

In the end we bid auf wiedersehen to Deutschland and went outside to refill our souvenir German beer mugs at the closest beer stand.

I also love Mexico. Just love it. They had the most awesome Mariachi Band, more professional than I’ve ever heard, every guy had a solo, just fantástico. The little ride they have is so nice. My son said to me, “I know why you like that ride, because of all the dolls!” (I collect dolls and it’s sort of Small World-ish in animation.) They have the San Angel Inn Restaurant, at which unfortunately we did not get to dine this time around due to our cancelled flight. It reminds me of the Blue Bayou in Disneyland with Mexican flair. And the Cava de Tequila (Tequila Cave) a little hole-in-the-wall bar where you can get seriously strong margaritas and even a few tasty Mexican morsels. But my kids wanted to leave. So on we went.

And for some reason we spent about three hours in Norway on the first day we were there. We attempted to stand in line for the Maelstrom ride and after a bit of discussion everyone realized it was far more beneficial to obtain fast passes.

Japan is amazing. They have a HUGE Toy store under the Benihana-esque restaurant located on the second level that has more teppan yaki rooms than I’ve ever seen. In the toy store they have everything my son loves: Pokemon, Yugi-oh, Bakugan, etc. And they even have a little grocery store with all kinds of Japanese Sodas and snacks. We ended up eating at the big restaurant, we waited much longer than we were initially told for a table, but the sushi was excellent quality. (Just as was most of the food produced by Disney establishments.)

But even with two days, it wasn’t enough to see and do all we wanted to in Epcot.

Animal Kingdom:

This is the first park we visited. Apparently it is the largest in area of all of the theme parks. When my husband and I visited so many years ago, Animal Kingdom had just opened and there wasn’t much to it. They had the Safari ride and the Dinosaur ride and pretty much after that we went to the Magic Kingdom. But this time, getting fast passes for those two rides and then waiting in line for Expedition Everest and having lunch at the Tusker House filled up an entire day.

When we arrived we started at the first pin trading stand and my daughter began her new collection. (Refer to post “Disney World Recap #3: Best Tips Including Pin Trading, Fast Passes & Meeting Characters”) It was here that we received a mystery pin for a dollar after spending $30. After that, we hustled our way to the Safari ride to get our fast pass. We would need to return a few hours later for our ride.

Moving on, we hustled all the way back across the park to the Dinosaur ride. Again, we obtained a fast pass. Then, we hustled back to the middle area where the new Expedition Everest roller coaster was. They were no longer offering fast passes for this ride and the wait wasn’t that long, so we decided to stand in line. Unfortunately, this ride scared the bejeezus out of my 8 year old son. It was quite fast. It’s a good roller coaster. Just not for an unsuspecting 8 year old.

We had lunch at the Tusker House, which was surprisingly great African food. Another great option would have been the Yak & Yeti Restaurant which offers Asian cuisine.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the Safari Ride, taking the train to the Conservation Station where we were too late for the petting zoo, and finally back to the Dinosaur ride. By that time it was beginning to rain and we had reservations at the Rainforest Café. But the kids weren’t hungry. They wanted to go to the pool.

So we went back to the hotel and went to the pool.

That evening, though we were all exhausted, we went to Downtown Disney.

Downtown Disney:

Not a Theme Park, but it deserves recognition. Here you will find a plethora of restaurants like Planet Hollywood, House of Blues, Rainforest Café, and T-Rex, etc. You will also find the best and most comprehensive shopping experience. They have a Pin Trading Station with the most Trading Pins you will find anywhere. There is the largest Disney souvenir store anywhere in Disney World. They have a T-shirt making shop where you can make a shirt with your favorite character and add your own words for around $23. There is a Christmas Shop, an Under $10 Store and a huge Lego Imagination Center where a lot of kids could an did spend a lot of time. We visited Downtown Disney more than once for dining and shopping which was a nice break from the parks for an evening or morning.

Magic Kingdom:

Just gonna say, second-time running, this place is not as good as Disneyland, and not because I’m partial to Disneyland being a Californian, and all.

We started in Toon Town because SOMEBODY had to take the train first thing, and that’s where everyone decided to get off. Mind you, I never really liked Toon Town. I don’t know why. It’s not original to Disneyland or World, it came later. Maybe because it’s not enjoyable for the adults. Or maybe because I once spent an hour in line, (in Disneyland), in the rain, for the little tiny roller coaster they have there. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. And this time, again, as my daughter was dragging me back to Pluto’s doghouse, my son dragged his dad on that same roller coaster. Which split the family and left my daughter and I to wait. And then she wanted an ice cream. And we waited in line. And this woman who was working this kiosk was a few cards short of a full deck. And her hair net . . . Anyway, the people in line were looking at each other and mouthing the words, “I don’t know what’s going on.” Apparently, her computer wasn’t working (which happened often) and she could only take cash (which also happened often). So I’m calling my husband to see if my son wants any ice cream and he’s not answering and then I see them approaching as I’m trying to get dollars out of my purse and yell at my husband and getting really frustrated all in all.

From there, I realize that I am hungry, too. And I see a guy walk by with french fries. I’m getting french fries. I get them and my son starts eating them. The kid who just had a box of popcorn. So I get another french fry while the kids go wait in line for the Dumbo ride and then decide they don’t want to wait in line for the Dumbo ride. But they do want to eat my french fries.

From there, on to Small World. This deal you could just walk by without noticing. It has none of the glory and provenance that the LA version does. The line is in a building for crying out loud. How can you put the front of It’s A Small World in a building? Shameful.

We do Tom Sawyer Island, which I always like because it’s quiet. My point there was for the kids to run around while I sat in a sunny spot and decompressed. That sorta worked.

Back to the mainland it was lunchtime. First we argued about whether we were going to have Mexican food, because my son wanted a burrito, but not with meat in it, which they didn’t have and my daughter wanted a taco with chicken in it but they only had beef. We fixed this by my son finally agreeing to a quesadilla and my daughter agreeing to the taco. Conveniently, these also came with grapes and cookies.

Onto Pirates of the Caribbean, which as we all know has been changed a lot to cater to Jack Sparrow and the movie/s. It’s located in Adventureland which is not like the French Quarter in Disneyland. Instead the area has a sort of Mexican/Caribbean/African feel. I kinda like the French Quarter area better, in fact I think it’s my favorite area in Disneyland and it’s missing here in Disney World. Anyway, it was really dark on the ride.

Then the Jungle Cruise. Same as Disneyland. Same spiel you’ve hear a hundred times. But cute for the kids.

Then the Haunted Mansion. It was really dark in there, too. It’s not that scary and it’s really well done. I just kept marveling that this seemingly very long ride was housed in that huge brick building. I’d love to see everything in some light. But it was really, really dark in there.

And I have to mention, on almost every ride, we got stuck. I’m assuming they may have been loading and unloading riders who needed extra help. But like in the Haunted Mansion and Small World, it was a good bit of time just sitting, waiting, wondering.

Finally, they’ve put a show stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle that has a lot to do with Peter Pan and Captain Hook, but also involved the Princesses and Mickey & Minnie. I think it’s called Mickey Mouse’s Dream or Wishes or Something or Other. By this time the sun was going down and we were all really cold.

So off we went to bluezoo at the Dolphin Hotel for dinner.

Disney Hollywood Studios: (Disney’s answer to Universal Studios)

As we overheard in the Prime Time 50’s Diner when a “guest” asked the bartender, “Is there any where that’s not busy?” And the bartender replied, “Universal.”

We did Star Tours here, which was not as great as I remember from Disneyland, but maybe that’s because the last time I went on it was years ago and it may have been revolutionary then.

Then we took a break in the sun and decided we’d wait for the Indiana Jones stunt show. We actually sat front and center in the audience thanks to my kids racing down the stairs. And because of that, my kids got to go up onstage, say their names and ages, and say “Lights, Camera, Action!” and meet the Indiana Jones and Karen Allen stunt doubles after the show and take a photo with them.

The show itself was very similar to the car stunt show we went to right after. They get the director and the stunt director and all these supposedly behind-the-scenes people to tell you what it’s like to shoot movie scenes. I will say that the car stunts were pretty cool. Backwards, forwards, over ramps, motorcycles, a jet ski, fire, etc. I was just happy I was sitting down.

But after that final show, we had had about enough and all the kids wanted to do was go swimming (which is what they always wanted to do, all of the time). So we went back to the hotel, went to the BIG pool for an hour or two and then went back to the room to get ready for our character dinner at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Hotel. (refer to posting “The Sherriff, Pluto, Tom, & Kermit”)

Typhoon Lagoon:

Finally, on our last full day, I got what I was looking for in a vacation. A beach/pool type atmosphere where I wear my swimsuit, no shoes, Jimmy Buffett is playing in the background and I’m sipping a frozen margarita, my kids no where to be found. I was thinking to myself, “Why didn’t we come here the first day?” Because then my kids would have wanted to come here every day after even in freezing cold temperatures.

The size of the place is unbelievable. This puts all other water parks to shame. The slides, the lazy river, the beaches, the tsunami size wave pool, the snack bars, the palm trees, the . . . .

And it’s only open while the sun is up so there’s no getting sucked into staying til way later than you thought you would and all of a sudden it’s 11:00 p.m. While we were there, it closed at 5:00, a nice civilized time to go back to the room and get ready for dinner. Just as you would do if you were on a normal vacation that consisted of sleeping in, getting dressed for the pool and beach, going to the pool for a little while, going to the beach for a little while, grabbing some lunch, maybe a cocktail, going back to the beach, then back to the pool, and then back to the room to get dressed for dinner. Seven days of that and I’m a happy camper.

Think you have enough time in one day for one park, hear me now and hear me later (yes, hear me now and then when you’re there, you’ll hear me later) YOU DO NOT! Unless you get up earlier than I did, stay later than I did, or have more energy than I or my family did. This is probably why a lot of families reserve a day or more to spend by the pool . . . if it’s warm enough. You need days to re-energize and recuperate. To go, go, go every day in a row can take a lot out of you, but if you want to get as much of it in as you can, it seems that that is what you have to do. Unless you plan to visit more than once every . . . lifetime.


McDonald's Apparently Getting French Fry Monopoly at the Olympics - Recipes

#1: You need a vacation after your vacation.

#2: I am not a PDG: Professional Disney Goer by any means nor any stretch of the imagination. Case in point, I found that I enjoyed my bathroom breaks as a personal respite, or rather a bit of time away from the hustle and bustle, a delightful pause for my paws, if you will, as I treaded through the parks. Meaning, sometimes, a lot of the time, you just want to sit down, no matter where you get the chance.

#3: I have proven true to myself the words of my parents’ friends some 30-odd years ago, “Take a kid to Disney _____ (land or World) and all they want to do is go to the pool at the hotel.” (#3 has been the basis of my vacation planning until this particular venture, and now I know why.)

We did TWO days of Epcot and barely went on any rides. Okay, okay, that’s because I LOVE the World Showcase and enjoy just hanging out in various countries and talking to all the people that work there who are actually from those countries.

The first day we went to Epcot we went on the new Nemo ride, which is kind of . . . lame, but cute, good for the younger set. Two of you sit in a clam shell and you get to see various parts of the Nemo movie with the backdrop of a huge real-life aquarium. The best part is that you are dropped off in the massive aquatic center where you can continue to tour the aquarium and learn lots of stuff about sea life. That part, I was impressed with.

I really, really wanted to go on the Living with the Land ride that I remember fondly from my previous trip umpteen years ago. But the fast passes were gone by the time we tried to get them on both of the days we were there. And the wait was usually pretty long as well. And I got sucked in by the World Showcase and never went back to try to go on the ride.

The second day of Epcot we got fast passes for the Test Track ride, but my son had been so freaked out by the Expedition Everest ride in Animal Kingdom that he didn’t really feel like sitting in a car that goes from 0-65 in 2 point whatever seconds. And anyway, by the time our fast passes were due we were sitting comfortably in Norway or Mexico or somewhere. Actually I think it was Italy where my family made me buy this Bvlgari perfume that doesn’t even wash off. Some people would say that was a good thing.

So the first day we went to Epcot, we tried to get into Germany. Now, let me give you a little background. The fondest memory my husband and I have of our previous trip to Disney World is our three plus hours we spent in Germany, drinking liter beers, watching the little show they put on with the polka band that at that time included Schuhplattler Dance that my husband took part in (man, I wish I had that on tape).

So I had originally booked reservations for Germany on the first day we were supposed to be in Disney World. Referring back to my previous post (“The Great Disney World Debacle and Why American Airlines Should Be Ashamed Of Themselves Two Time Over”) you’ll know that our flight was cancelled and we didn’t arrive until the day after those reservations.

So we took a shot. I even laid on the “cancelled flight” excuse. Nope. Nein. Kein Essen fur sie. All booked up for that day.

I was sort of crushed, but I knew we’d be back. So initially I made a reservation for the following Saturday and then decided that I’d make even another reservation for Friday in case Saturday was sunny and we wanted to go to the water park (which we did). Friday we made it to Germany. Oh happy day.

The spring in my step that morning. Like a little leprechaun in lederhosen (I know that doesn’t make sense and I’m not Irish, but it sounded good.) (Maybe a Keebler Elf makes more sense.)

I happily approached the podium with my name and reservation at the ready. We were ushered in and there, to what my wondering eyes did appear, the magic of yesteryear. And bless that hostess’s heart, she sat us right down front by the dance floor.

Christina from Hamburg was our waitress. We ordered liter beers, (throughout the afternoon she kept asking, “half?” to which we shook our heads and said “full,” to which she said, “Good for you.”) Christina was the best.

So we made it through THREE of the shows (we calculated that they play for a half hour every hour or so). And it’s not the same show every time (for those of us who like to spend most of their day there.) They do some polkas, some waltzes, the play the bells, the alpenhorn and they do the “Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlichkeit, Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlchkeit, Eins, Zwei, Drei, G’suffa! Zicke, Zacke, Zicke, Zacke, Hoi, Hoi, Hoi!” at least twice during each show. Gotta have the liter beer mug at various levels of beer for that toast every time.

So, our kids loved the food, much to my surprise. It was excellent. All the food provided by Disney was fabulous except for the Character dinner at Chef Mickey’s which apparently, for some reason, though I don’t know why, they think they can get away with sub-par food.

Our son was on the dance floor every time there was a show. I went out there at his request a couple of time to dance, but he didn’t really want to dance WITH me, he just wanted me out there. So I went back and sat down with my beer.

Our daughter was getting bored. I did leave with her for a bit to go out to the shops nearby so she could trade yet even more Pluto pins.

In the end we bid auf wiedersehen to Deutschland and went outside to refill our souvenir German beer mugs at the closest beer stand.

I also love Mexico. Just love it. They had the most awesome Mariachi Band, more professional than I’ve ever heard, every guy had a solo, just fantástico. The little ride they have is so nice. My son said to me, “I know why you like that ride, because of all the dolls!” (I collect dolls and it’s sort of Small World-ish in animation.) They have the San Angel Inn Restaurant, at which unfortunately we did not get to dine this time around due to our cancelled flight. It reminds me of the Blue Bayou in Disneyland with Mexican flair. And the Cava de Tequila (Tequila Cave) a little hole-in-the-wall bar where you can get seriously strong margaritas and even a few tasty Mexican morsels. But my kids wanted to leave. So on we went.

And for some reason we spent about three hours in Norway on the first day we were there. We attempted to stand in line for the Maelstrom ride and after a bit of discussion everyone realized it was far more beneficial to obtain fast passes.

Japan is amazing. They have a HUGE Toy store under the Benihana-esque restaurant located on the second level that has more teppan yaki rooms than I’ve ever seen. In the toy store they have everything my son loves: Pokemon, Yugi-oh, Bakugan, etc. And they even have a little grocery store with all kinds of Japanese Sodas and snacks. We ended up eating at the big restaurant, we waited much longer than we were initially told for a table, but the sushi was excellent quality. (Just as was most of the food produced by Disney establishments.)

But even with two days, it wasn’t enough to see and do all we wanted to in Epcot.

Animal Kingdom:

This is the first park we visited. Apparently it is the largest in area of all of the theme parks. When my husband and I visited so many years ago, Animal Kingdom had just opened and there wasn’t much to it. They had the Safari ride and the Dinosaur ride and pretty much after that we went to the Magic Kingdom. But this time, getting fast passes for those two rides and then waiting in line for Expedition Everest and having lunch at the Tusker House filled up an entire day.

When we arrived we started at the first pin trading stand and my daughter began her new collection. (Refer to post “Disney World Recap #3: Best Tips Including Pin Trading, Fast Passes & Meeting Characters”) It was here that we received a mystery pin for a dollar after spending $30. After that, we hustled our way to the Safari ride to get our fast pass. We would need to return a few hours later for our ride.

Moving on, we hustled all the way back across the park to the Dinosaur ride. Again, we obtained a fast pass. Then, we hustled back to the middle area where the new Expedition Everest roller coaster was. They were no longer offering fast passes for this ride and the wait wasn’t that long, so we decided to stand in line. Unfortunately, this ride scared the bejeezus out of my 8 year old son. It was quite fast. It’s a good roller coaster. Just not for an unsuspecting 8 year old.

We had lunch at the Tusker House, which was surprisingly great African food. Another great option would have been the Yak & Yeti Restaurant which offers Asian cuisine.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the Safari Ride, taking the train to the Conservation Station where we were too late for the petting zoo, and finally back to the Dinosaur ride. By that time it was beginning to rain and we had reservations at the Rainforest Café. But the kids weren’t hungry. They wanted to go to the pool.

So we went back to the hotel and went to the pool.

That evening, though we were all exhausted, we went to Downtown Disney.

Downtown Disney:

Not a Theme Park, but it deserves recognition. Here you will find a plethora of restaurants like Planet Hollywood, House of Blues, Rainforest Café, and T-Rex, etc. You will also find the best and most comprehensive shopping experience. They have a Pin Trading Station with the most Trading Pins you will find anywhere. There is the largest Disney souvenir store anywhere in Disney World. They have a T-shirt making shop where you can make a shirt with your favorite character and add your own words for around $23. There is a Christmas Shop, an Under $10 Store and a huge Lego Imagination Center where a lot of kids could an did spend a lot of time. We visited Downtown Disney more than once for dining and shopping which was a nice break from the parks for an evening or morning.

Magic Kingdom:

Just gonna say, second-time running, this place is not as good as Disneyland, and not because I’m partial to Disneyland being a Californian, and all.

We started in Toon Town because SOMEBODY had to take the train first thing, and that’s where everyone decided to get off. Mind you, I never really liked Toon Town. I don’t know why. It’s not original to Disneyland or World, it came later. Maybe because it’s not enjoyable for the adults. Or maybe because I once spent an hour in line, (in Disneyland), in the rain, for the little tiny roller coaster they have there. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. And this time, again, as my daughter was dragging me back to Pluto’s doghouse, my son dragged his dad on that same roller coaster. Which split the family and left my daughter and I to wait. And then she wanted an ice cream. And we waited in line. And this woman who was working this kiosk was a few cards short of a full deck. And her hair net . . . Anyway, the people in line were looking at each other and mouthing the words, “I don’t know what’s going on.” Apparently, her computer wasn’t working (which happened often) and she could only take cash (which also happened often). So I’m calling my husband to see if my son wants any ice cream and he’s not answering and then I see them approaching as I’m trying to get dollars out of my purse and yell at my husband and getting really frustrated all in all.

From there, I realize that I am hungry, too. And I see a guy walk by with french fries. I’m getting french fries. I get them and my son starts eating them. The kid who just had a box of popcorn. So I get another french fry while the kids go wait in line for the Dumbo ride and then decide they don’t want to wait in line for the Dumbo ride. But they do want to eat my french fries.

From there, on to Small World. This deal you could just walk by without noticing. It has none of the glory and provenance that the LA version does. The line is in a building for crying out loud. How can you put the front of It’s A Small World in a building? Shameful.

We do Tom Sawyer Island, which I always like because it’s quiet. My point there was for the kids to run around while I sat in a sunny spot and decompressed. That sorta worked.

Back to the mainland it was lunchtime. First we argued about whether we were going to have Mexican food, because my son wanted a burrito, but not with meat in it, which they didn’t have and my daughter wanted a taco with chicken in it but they only had beef. We fixed this by my son finally agreeing to a quesadilla and my daughter agreeing to the taco. Conveniently, these also came with grapes and cookies.

Onto Pirates of the Caribbean, which as we all know has been changed a lot to cater to Jack Sparrow and the movie/s. It’s located in Adventureland which is not like the French Quarter in Disneyland. Instead the area has a sort of Mexican/Caribbean/African feel. I kinda like the French Quarter area better, in fact I think it’s my favorite area in Disneyland and it’s missing here in Disney World. Anyway, it was really dark on the ride.

Then the Jungle Cruise. Same as Disneyland. Same spiel you’ve hear a hundred times. But cute for the kids.

Then the Haunted Mansion. It was really dark in there, too. It’s not that scary and it’s really well done. I just kept marveling that this seemingly very long ride was housed in that huge brick building. I’d love to see everything in some light. But it was really, really dark in there.

And I have to mention, on almost every ride, we got stuck. I’m assuming they may have been loading and unloading riders who needed extra help. But like in the Haunted Mansion and Small World, it was a good bit of time just sitting, waiting, wondering.

Finally, they’ve put a show stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle that has a lot to do with Peter Pan and Captain Hook, but also involved the Princesses and Mickey & Minnie. I think it’s called Mickey Mouse’s Dream or Wishes or Something or Other. By this time the sun was going down and we were all really cold.

So off we went to bluezoo at the Dolphin Hotel for dinner.

Disney Hollywood Studios: (Disney’s answer to Universal Studios)

As we overheard in the Prime Time 50’s Diner when a “guest” asked the bartender, “Is there any where that’s not busy?” And the bartender replied, “Universal.”

We did Star Tours here, which was not as great as I remember from Disneyland, but maybe that’s because the last time I went on it was years ago and it may have been revolutionary then.

Then we took a break in the sun and decided we’d wait for the Indiana Jones stunt show. We actually sat front and center in the audience thanks to my kids racing down the stairs. And because of that, my kids got to go up onstage, say their names and ages, and say “Lights, Camera, Action!” and meet the Indiana Jones and Karen Allen stunt doubles after the show and take a photo with them.

The show itself was very similar to the car stunt show we went to right after. They get the director and the stunt director and all these supposedly behind-the-scenes people to tell you what it’s like to shoot movie scenes. I will say that the car stunts were pretty cool. Backwards, forwards, over ramps, motorcycles, a jet ski, fire, etc. I was just happy I was sitting down.

But after that final show, we had had about enough and all the kids wanted to do was go swimming (which is what they always wanted to do, all of the time). So we went back to the hotel, went to the BIG pool for an hour or two and then went back to the room to get ready for our character dinner at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Hotel. (refer to posting “The Sherriff, Pluto, Tom, & Kermit”)

Typhoon Lagoon:

Finally, on our last full day, I got what I was looking for in a vacation. A beach/pool type atmosphere where I wear my swimsuit, no shoes, Jimmy Buffett is playing in the background and I’m sipping a frozen margarita, my kids no where to be found. I was thinking to myself, “Why didn’t we come here the first day?” Because then my kids would have wanted to come here every day after even in freezing cold temperatures.

The size of the place is unbelievable. This puts all other water parks to shame. The slides, the lazy river, the beaches, the tsunami size wave pool, the snack bars, the palm trees, the . . . .

And it’s only open while the sun is up so there’s no getting sucked into staying til way later than you thought you would and all of a sudden it’s 11:00 p.m. While we were there, it closed at 5:00, a nice civilized time to go back to the room and get ready for dinner. Just as you would do if you were on a normal vacation that consisted of sleeping in, getting dressed for the pool and beach, going to the pool for a little while, going to the beach for a little while, grabbing some lunch, maybe a cocktail, going back to the beach, then back to the pool, and then back to the room to get dressed for dinner. Seven days of that and I’m a happy camper.

Think you have enough time in one day for one park, hear me now and hear me later (yes, hear me now and then when you’re there, you’ll hear me later) YOU DO NOT! Unless you get up earlier than I did, stay later than I did, or have more energy than I or my family did. This is probably why a lot of families reserve a day or more to spend by the pool . . . if it’s warm enough. You need days to re-energize and recuperate. To go, go, go every day in a row can take a lot out of you, but if you want to get as much of it in as you can, it seems that that is what you have to do. Unless you plan to visit more than once every . . . lifetime.


McDonald's Apparently Getting French Fry Monopoly at the Olympics - Recipes

#1: You need a vacation after your vacation.

#2: I am not a PDG: Professional Disney Goer by any means nor any stretch of the imagination. Case in point, I found that I enjoyed my bathroom breaks as a personal respite, or rather a bit of time away from the hustle and bustle, a delightful pause for my paws, if you will, as I treaded through the parks. Meaning, sometimes, a lot of the time, you just want to sit down, no matter where you get the chance.

#3: I have proven true to myself the words of my parents’ friends some 30-odd years ago, “Take a kid to Disney _____ (land or World) and all they want to do is go to the pool at the hotel.” (#3 has been the basis of my vacation planning until this particular venture, and now I know why.)

We did TWO days of Epcot and barely went on any rides. Okay, okay, that’s because I LOVE the World Showcase and enjoy just hanging out in various countries and talking to all the people that work there who are actually from those countries.

The first day we went to Epcot we went on the new Nemo ride, which is kind of . . . lame, but cute, good for the younger set. Two of you sit in a clam shell and you get to see various parts of the Nemo movie with the backdrop of a huge real-life aquarium. The best part is that you are dropped off in the massive aquatic center where you can continue to tour the aquarium and learn lots of stuff about sea life. That part, I was impressed with.

I really, really wanted to go on the Living with the Land ride that I remember fondly from my previous trip umpteen years ago. But the fast passes were gone by the time we tried to get them on both of the days we were there. And the wait was usually pretty long as well. And I got sucked in by the World Showcase and never went back to try to go on the ride.

The second day of Epcot we got fast passes for the Test Track ride, but my son had been so freaked out by the Expedition Everest ride in Animal Kingdom that he didn’t really feel like sitting in a car that goes from 0-65 in 2 point whatever seconds. And anyway, by the time our fast passes were due we were sitting comfortably in Norway or Mexico or somewhere. Actually I think it was Italy where my family made me buy this Bvlgari perfume that doesn’t even wash off. Some people would say that was a good thing.

So the first day we went to Epcot, we tried to get into Germany. Now, let me give you a little background. The fondest memory my husband and I have of our previous trip to Disney World is our three plus hours we spent in Germany, drinking liter beers, watching the little show they put on with the polka band that at that time included Schuhplattler Dance that my husband took part in (man, I wish I had that on tape).

So I had originally booked reservations for Germany on the first day we were supposed to be in Disney World. Referring back to my previous post (“The Great Disney World Debacle and Why American Airlines Should Be Ashamed Of Themselves Two Time Over”) you’ll know that our flight was cancelled and we didn’t arrive until the day after those reservations.

So we took a shot. I even laid on the “cancelled flight” excuse. Nope. Nein. Kein Essen fur sie. All booked up for that day.

I was sort of crushed, but I knew we’d be back. So initially I made a reservation for the following Saturday and then decided that I’d make even another reservation for Friday in case Saturday was sunny and we wanted to go to the water park (which we did). Friday we made it to Germany. Oh happy day.

The spring in my step that morning. Like a little leprechaun in lederhosen (I know that doesn’t make sense and I’m not Irish, but it sounded good.) (Maybe a Keebler Elf makes more sense.)

I happily approached the podium with my name and reservation at the ready. We were ushered in and there, to what my wondering eyes did appear, the magic of yesteryear. And bless that hostess’s heart, she sat us right down front by the dance floor.

Christina from Hamburg was our waitress. We ordered liter beers, (throughout the afternoon she kept asking, “half?” to which we shook our heads and said “full,” to which she said, “Good for you.”) Christina was the best.

So we made it through THREE of the shows (we calculated that they play for a half hour every hour or so). And it’s not the same show every time (for those of us who like to spend most of their day there.) They do some polkas, some waltzes, the play the bells, the alpenhorn and they do the “Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlichkeit, Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlchkeit, Eins, Zwei, Drei, G’suffa! Zicke, Zacke, Zicke, Zacke, Hoi, Hoi, Hoi!” at least twice during each show. Gotta have the liter beer mug at various levels of beer for that toast every time.

So, our kids loved the food, much to my surprise. It was excellent. All the food provided by Disney was fabulous except for the Character dinner at Chef Mickey’s which apparently, for some reason, though I don’t know why, they think they can get away with sub-par food.

Our son was on the dance floor every time there was a show. I went out there at his request a couple of time to dance, but he didn’t really want to dance WITH me, he just wanted me out there. So I went back and sat down with my beer.

Our daughter was getting bored. I did leave with her for a bit to go out to the shops nearby so she could trade yet even more Pluto pins.

In the end we bid auf wiedersehen to Deutschland and went outside to refill our souvenir German beer mugs at the closest beer stand.

I also love Mexico. Just love it. They had the most awesome Mariachi Band, more professional than I’ve ever heard, every guy had a solo, just fantástico. The little ride they have is so nice. My son said to me, “I know why you like that ride, because of all the dolls!” (I collect dolls and it’s sort of Small World-ish in animation.) They have the San Angel Inn Restaurant, at which unfortunately we did not get to dine this time around due to our cancelled flight. It reminds me of the Blue Bayou in Disneyland with Mexican flair. And the Cava de Tequila (Tequila Cave) a little hole-in-the-wall bar where you can get seriously strong margaritas and even a few tasty Mexican morsels. But my kids wanted to leave. So on we went.

And for some reason we spent about three hours in Norway on the first day we were there. We attempted to stand in line for the Maelstrom ride and after a bit of discussion everyone realized it was far more beneficial to obtain fast passes.

Japan is amazing. They have a HUGE Toy store under the Benihana-esque restaurant located on the second level that has more teppan yaki rooms than I’ve ever seen. In the toy store they have everything my son loves: Pokemon, Yugi-oh, Bakugan, etc. And they even have a little grocery store with all kinds of Japanese Sodas and snacks. We ended up eating at the big restaurant, we waited much longer than we were initially told for a table, but the sushi was excellent quality. (Just as was most of the food produced by Disney establishments.)

But even with two days, it wasn’t enough to see and do all we wanted to in Epcot.

Animal Kingdom:

This is the first park we visited. Apparently it is the largest in area of all of the theme parks. When my husband and I visited so many years ago, Animal Kingdom had just opened and there wasn’t much to it. They had the Safari ride and the Dinosaur ride and pretty much after that we went to the Magic Kingdom. But this time, getting fast passes for those two rides and then waiting in line for Expedition Everest and having lunch at the Tusker House filled up an entire day.

When we arrived we started at the first pin trading stand and my daughter began her new collection. (Refer to post “Disney World Recap #3: Best Tips Including Pin Trading, Fast Passes & Meeting Characters”) It was here that we received a mystery pin for a dollar after spending $30. After that, we hustled our way to the Safari ride to get our fast pass. We would need to return a few hours later for our ride.

Moving on, we hustled all the way back across the park to the Dinosaur ride. Again, we obtained a fast pass. Then, we hustled back to the middle area where the new Expedition Everest roller coaster was. They were no longer offering fast passes for this ride and the wait wasn’t that long, so we decided to stand in line. Unfortunately, this ride scared the bejeezus out of my 8 year old son. It was quite fast. It’s a good roller coaster. Just not for an unsuspecting 8 year old.

We had lunch at the Tusker House, which was surprisingly great African food. Another great option would have been the Yak & Yeti Restaurant which offers Asian cuisine.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the Safari Ride, taking the train to the Conservation Station where we were too late for the petting zoo, and finally back to the Dinosaur ride. By that time it was beginning to rain and we had reservations at the Rainforest Café. But the kids weren’t hungry. They wanted to go to the pool.

So we went back to the hotel and went to the pool.

That evening, though we were all exhausted, we went to Downtown Disney.

Downtown Disney:

Not a Theme Park, but it deserves recognition. Here you will find a plethora of restaurants like Planet Hollywood, House of Blues, Rainforest Café, and T-Rex, etc. You will also find the best and most comprehensive shopping experience. They have a Pin Trading Station with the most Trading Pins you will find anywhere. There is the largest Disney souvenir store anywhere in Disney World. They have a T-shirt making shop where you can make a shirt with your favorite character and add your own words for around $23. There is a Christmas Shop, an Under $10 Store and a huge Lego Imagination Center where a lot of kids could an did spend a lot of time. We visited Downtown Disney more than once for dining and shopping which was a nice break from the parks for an evening or morning.

Magic Kingdom:

Just gonna say, second-time running, this place is not as good as Disneyland, and not because I’m partial to Disneyland being a Californian, and all.

We started in Toon Town because SOMEBODY had to take the train first thing, and that’s where everyone decided to get off. Mind you, I never really liked Toon Town. I don’t know why. It’s not original to Disneyland or World, it came later. Maybe because it’s not enjoyable for the adults. Or maybe because I once spent an hour in line, (in Disneyland), in the rain, for the little tiny roller coaster they have there. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. And this time, again, as my daughter was dragging me back to Pluto’s doghouse, my son dragged his dad on that same roller coaster. Which split the family and left my daughter and I to wait. And then she wanted an ice cream. And we waited in line. And this woman who was working this kiosk was a few cards short of a full deck. And her hair net . . . Anyway, the people in line were looking at each other and mouthing the words, “I don’t know what’s going on.” Apparently, her computer wasn’t working (which happened often) and she could only take cash (which also happened often). So I’m calling my husband to see if my son wants any ice cream and he’s not answering and then I see them approaching as I’m trying to get dollars out of my purse and yell at my husband and getting really frustrated all in all.

From there, I realize that I am hungry, too. And I see a guy walk by with french fries. I’m getting french fries. I get them and my son starts eating them. The kid who just had a box of popcorn. So I get another french fry while the kids go wait in line for the Dumbo ride and then decide they don’t want to wait in line for the Dumbo ride. But they do want to eat my french fries.

From there, on to Small World. This deal you could just walk by without noticing. It has none of the glory and provenance that the LA version does. The line is in a building for crying out loud. How can you put the front of It’s A Small World in a building? Shameful.

We do Tom Sawyer Island, which I always like because it’s quiet. My point there was for the kids to run around while I sat in a sunny spot and decompressed. That sorta worked.

Back to the mainland it was lunchtime. First we argued about whether we were going to have Mexican food, because my son wanted a burrito, but not with meat in it, which they didn’t have and my daughter wanted a taco with chicken in it but they only had beef. We fixed this by my son finally agreeing to a quesadilla and my daughter agreeing to the taco. Conveniently, these also came with grapes and cookies.

Onto Pirates of the Caribbean, which as we all know has been changed a lot to cater to Jack Sparrow and the movie/s. It’s located in Adventureland which is not like the French Quarter in Disneyland. Instead the area has a sort of Mexican/Caribbean/African feel. I kinda like the French Quarter area better, in fact I think it’s my favorite area in Disneyland and it’s missing here in Disney World. Anyway, it was really dark on the ride.

Then the Jungle Cruise. Same as Disneyland. Same spiel you’ve hear a hundred times. But cute for the kids.

Then the Haunted Mansion. It was really dark in there, too. It’s not that scary and it’s really well done. I just kept marveling that this seemingly very long ride was housed in that huge brick building. I’d love to see everything in some light. But it was really, really dark in there.

And I have to mention, on almost every ride, we got stuck. I’m assuming they may have been loading and unloading riders who needed extra help. But like in the Haunted Mansion and Small World, it was a good bit of time just sitting, waiting, wondering.

Finally, they’ve put a show stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle that has a lot to do with Peter Pan and Captain Hook, but also involved the Princesses and Mickey & Minnie. I think it’s called Mickey Mouse’s Dream or Wishes or Something or Other. By this time the sun was going down and we were all really cold.

So off we went to bluezoo at the Dolphin Hotel for dinner.

Disney Hollywood Studios: (Disney’s answer to Universal Studios)

As we overheard in the Prime Time 50’s Diner when a “guest” asked the bartender, “Is there any where that’s not busy?” And the bartender replied, “Universal.”

We did Star Tours here, which was not as great as I remember from Disneyland, but maybe that’s because the last time I went on it was years ago and it may have been revolutionary then.

Then we took a break in the sun and decided we’d wait for the Indiana Jones stunt show. We actually sat front and center in the audience thanks to my kids racing down the stairs. And because of that, my kids got to go up onstage, say their names and ages, and say “Lights, Camera, Action!” and meet the Indiana Jones and Karen Allen stunt doubles after the show and take a photo with them.

The show itself was very similar to the car stunt show we went to right after. They get the director and the stunt director and all these supposedly behind-the-scenes people to tell you what it’s like to shoot movie scenes. I will say that the car stunts were pretty cool. Backwards, forwards, over ramps, motorcycles, a jet ski, fire, etc. I was just happy I was sitting down.

But after that final show, we had had about enough and all the kids wanted to do was go swimming (which is what they always wanted to do, all of the time). So we went back to the hotel, went to the BIG pool for an hour or two and then went back to the room to get ready for our character dinner at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Hotel. (refer to posting “The Sherriff, Pluto, Tom, & Kermit”)

Typhoon Lagoon:

Finally, on our last full day, I got what I was looking for in a vacation. A beach/pool type atmosphere where I wear my swimsuit, no shoes, Jimmy Buffett is playing in the background and I’m sipping a frozen margarita, my kids no where to be found. I was thinking to myself, “Why didn’t we come here the first day?” Because then my kids would have wanted to come here every day after even in freezing cold temperatures.

The size of the place is unbelievable. This puts all other water parks to shame. The slides, the lazy river, the beaches, the tsunami size wave pool, the snack bars, the palm trees, the . . . .

And it’s only open while the sun is up so there’s no getting sucked into staying til way later than you thought you would and all of a sudden it’s 11:00 p.m. While we were there, it closed at 5:00, a nice civilized time to go back to the room and get ready for dinner. Just as you would do if you were on a normal vacation that consisted of sleeping in, getting dressed for the pool and beach, going to the pool for a little while, going to the beach for a little while, grabbing some lunch, maybe a cocktail, going back to the beach, then back to the pool, and then back to the room to get dressed for dinner. Seven days of that and I’m a happy camper.

Think you have enough time in one day for one park, hear me now and hear me later (yes, hear me now and then when you’re there, you’ll hear me later) YOU DO NOT! Unless you get up earlier than I did, stay later than I did, or have more energy than I or my family did. This is probably why a lot of families reserve a day or more to spend by the pool . . . if it’s warm enough. You need days to re-energize and recuperate. To go, go, go every day in a row can take a lot out of you, but if you want to get as much of it in as you can, it seems that that is what you have to do. Unless you plan to visit more than once every . . . lifetime.


McDonald's Apparently Getting French Fry Monopoly at the Olympics - Recipes

#1: You need a vacation after your vacation.

#2: I am not a PDG: Professional Disney Goer by any means nor any stretch of the imagination. Case in point, I found that I enjoyed my bathroom breaks as a personal respite, or rather a bit of time away from the hustle and bustle, a delightful pause for my paws, if you will, as I treaded through the parks. Meaning, sometimes, a lot of the time, you just want to sit down, no matter where you get the chance.

#3: I have proven true to myself the words of my parents’ friends some 30-odd years ago, “Take a kid to Disney _____ (land or World) and all they want to do is go to the pool at the hotel.” (#3 has been the basis of my vacation planning until this particular venture, and now I know why.)

We did TWO days of Epcot and barely went on any rides. Okay, okay, that’s because I LOVE the World Showcase and enjoy just hanging out in various countries and talking to all the people that work there who are actually from those countries.

The first day we went to Epcot we went on the new Nemo ride, which is kind of . . . lame, but cute, good for the younger set. Two of you sit in a clam shell and you get to see various parts of the Nemo movie with the backdrop of a huge real-life aquarium. The best part is that you are dropped off in the massive aquatic center where you can continue to tour the aquarium and learn lots of stuff about sea life. That part, I was impressed with.

I really, really wanted to go on the Living with the Land ride that I remember fondly from my previous trip umpteen years ago. But the fast passes were gone by the time we tried to get them on both of the days we were there. And the wait was usually pretty long as well. And I got sucked in by the World Showcase and never went back to try to go on the ride.

The second day of Epcot we got fast passes for the Test Track ride, but my son had been so freaked out by the Expedition Everest ride in Animal Kingdom that he didn’t really feel like sitting in a car that goes from 0-65 in 2 point whatever seconds. And anyway, by the time our fast passes were due we were sitting comfortably in Norway or Mexico or somewhere. Actually I think it was Italy where my family made me buy this Bvlgari perfume that doesn’t even wash off. Some people would say that was a good thing.

So the first day we went to Epcot, we tried to get into Germany. Now, let me give you a little background. The fondest memory my husband and I have of our previous trip to Disney World is our three plus hours we spent in Germany, drinking liter beers, watching the little show they put on with the polka band that at that time included Schuhplattler Dance that my husband took part in (man, I wish I had that on tape).

So I had originally booked reservations for Germany on the first day we were supposed to be in Disney World. Referring back to my previous post (“The Great Disney World Debacle and Why American Airlines Should Be Ashamed Of Themselves Two Time Over”) you’ll know that our flight was cancelled and we didn’t arrive until the day after those reservations.

So we took a shot. I even laid on the “cancelled flight” excuse. Nope. Nein. Kein Essen fur sie. All booked up for that day.

I was sort of crushed, but I knew we’d be back. So initially I made a reservation for the following Saturday and then decided that I’d make even another reservation for Friday in case Saturday was sunny and we wanted to go to the water park (which we did). Friday we made it to Germany. Oh happy day.

The spring in my step that morning. Like a little leprechaun in lederhosen (I know that doesn’t make sense and I’m not Irish, but it sounded good.) (Maybe a Keebler Elf makes more sense.)

I happily approached the podium with my name and reservation at the ready. We were ushered in and there, to what my wondering eyes did appear, the magic of yesteryear. And bless that hostess’s heart, she sat us right down front by the dance floor.

Christina from Hamburg was our waitress. We ordered liter beers, (throughout the afternoon she kept asking, “half?” to which we shook our heads and said “full,” to which she said, “Good for you.”) Christina was the best.

So we made it through THREE of the shows (we calculated that they play for a half hour every hour or so). And it’s not the same show every time (for those of us who like to spend most of their day there.) They do some polkas, some waltzes, the play the bells, the alpenhorn and they do the “Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlichkeit, Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlchkeit, Eins, Zwei, Drei, G’suffa! Zicke, Zacke, Zicke, Zacke, Hoi, Hoi, Hoi!” at least twice during each show. Gotta have the liter beer mug at various levels of beer for that toast every time.

So, our kids loved the food, much to my surprise. It was excellent. All the food provided by Disney was fabulous except for the Character dinner at Chef Mickey’s which apparently, for some reason, though I don’t know why, they think they can get away with sub-par food.

Our son was on the dance floor every time there was a show. I went out there at his request a couple of time to dance, but he didn’t really want to dance WITH me, he just wanted me out there. So I went back and sat down with my beer.

Our daughter was getting bored. I did leave with her for a bit to go out to the shops nearby so she could trade yet even more Pluto pins.

In the end we bid auf wiedersehen to Deutschland and went outside to refill our souvenir German beer mugs at the closest beer stand.

I also love Mexico. Just love it. They had the most awesome Mariachi Band, more professional than I’ve ever heard, every guy had a solo, just fantástico. The little ride they have is so nice. My son said to me, “I know why you like that ride, because of all the dolls!” (I collect dolls and it’s sort of Small World-ish in animation.) They have the San Angel Inn Restaurant, at which unfortunately we did not get to dine this time around due to our cancelled flight. It reminds me of the Blue Bayou in Disneyland with Mexican flair. And the Cava de Tequila (Tequila Cave) a little hole-in-the-wall bar where you can get seriously strong margaritas and even a few tasty Mexican morsels. But my kids wanted to leave. So on we went.

And for some reason we spent about three hours in Norway on the first day we were there. We attempted to stand in line for the Maelstrom ride and after a bit of discussion everyone realized it was far more beneficial to obtain fast passes.

Japan is amazing. They have a HUGE Toy store under the Benihana-esque restaurant located on the second level that has more teppan yaki rooms than I’ve ever seen. In the toy store they have everything my son loves: Pokemon, Yugi-oh, Bakugan, etc. And they even have a little grocery store with all kinds of Japanese Sodas and snacks. We ended up eating at the big restaurant, we waited much longer than we were initially told for a table, but the sushi was excellent quality. (Just as was most of the food produced by Disney establishments.)

But even with two days, it wasn’t enough to see and do all we wanted to in Epcot.

Animal Kingdom:

This is the first park we visited. Apparently it is the largest in area of all of the theme parks. When my husband and I visited so many years ago, Animal Kingdom had just opened and there wasn’t much to it. They had the Safari ride and the Dinosaur ride and pretty much after that we went to the Magic Kingdom. But this time, getting fast passes for those two rides and then waiting in line for Expedition Everest and having lunch at the Tusker House filled up an entire day.

When we arrived we started at the first pin trading stand and my daughter began her new collection. (Refer to post “Disney World Recap #3: Best Tips Including Pin Trading, Fast Passes & Meeting Characters”) It was here that we received a mystery pin for a dollar after spending $30. After that, we hustled our way to the Safari ride to get our fast pass. We would need to return a few hours later for our ride.

Moving on, we hustled all the way back across the park to the Dinosaur ride. Again, we obtained a fast pass. Then, we hustled back to the middle area where the new Expedition Everest roller coaster was. They were no longer offering fast passes for this ride and the wait wasn’t that long, so we decided to stand in line. Unfortunately, this ride scared the bejeezus out of my 8 year old son. It was quite fast. It’s a good roller coaster. Just not for an unsuspecting 8 year old.

We had lunch at the Tusker House, which was surprisingly great African food. Another great option would have been the Yak & Yeti Restaurant which offers Asian cuisine.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the Safari Ride, taking the train to the Conservation Station where we were too late for the petting zoo, and finally back to the Dinosaur ride. By that time it was beginning to rain and we had reservations at the Rainforest Café. But the kids weren’t hungry. They wanted to go to the pool.

So we went back to the hotel and went to the pool.

That evening, though we were all exhausted, we went to Downtown Disney.

Downtown Disney:

Not a Theme Park, but it deserves recognition. Here you will find a plethora of restaurants like Planet Hollywood, House of Blues, Rainforest Café, and T-Rex, etc. You will also find the best and most comprehensive shopping experience. They have a Pin Trading Station with the most Trading Pins you will find anywhere. There is the largest Disney souvenir store anywhere in Disney World. They have a T-shirt making shop where you can make a shirt with your favorite character and add your own words for around $23. There is a Christmas Shop, an Under $10 Store and a huge Lego Imagination Center where a lot of kids could an did spend a lot of time. We visited Downtown Disney more than once for dining and shopping which was a nice break from the parks for an evening or morning.

Magic Kingdom:

Just gonna say, second-time running, this place is not as good as Disneyland, and not because I’m partial to Disneyland being a Californian, and all.

We started in Toon Town because SOMEBODY had to take the train first thing, and that’s where everyone decided to get off. Mind you, I never really liked Toon Town. I don’t know why. It’s not original to Disneyland or World, it came later. Maybe because it’s not enjoyable for the adults. Or maybe because I once spent an hour in line, (in Disneyland), in the rain, for the little tiny roller coaster they have there. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. And this time, again, as my daughter was dragging me back to Pluto’s doghouse, my son dragged his dad on that same roller coaster. Which split the family and left my daughter and I to wait. And then she wanted an ice cream. And we waited in line. And this woman who was working this kiosk was a few cards short of a full deck. And her hair net . . . Anyway, the people in line were looking at each other and mouthing the words, “I don’t know what’s going on.” Apparently, her computer wasn’t working (which happened often) and she could only take cash (which also happened often). So I’m calling my husband to see if my son wants any ice cream and he’s not answering and then I see them approaching as I’m trying to get dollars out of my purse and yell at my husband and getting really frustrated all in all.

From there, I realize that I am hungry, too. And I see a guy walk by with french fries. I’m getting french fries. I get them and my son starts eating them. The kid who just had a box of popcorn. So I get another french fry while the kids go wait in line for the Dumbo ride and then decide they don’t want to wait in line for the Dumbo ride. But they do want to eat my french fries.

From there, on to Small World. This deal you could just walk by without noticing. It has none of the glory and provenance that the LA version does. The line is in a building for crying out loud. How can you put the front of It’s A Small World in a building? Shameful.

We do Tom Sawyer Island, which I always like because it’s quiet. My point there was for the kids to run around while I sat in a sunny spot and decompressed. That sorta worked.

Back to the mainland it was lunchtime. First we argued about whether we were going to have Mexican food, because my son wanted a burrito, but not with meat in it, which they didn’t have and my daughter wanted a taco with chicken in it but they only had beef. We fixed this by my son finally agreeing to a quesadilla and my daughter agreeing to the taco. Conveniently, these also came with grapes and cookies.

Onto Pirates of the Caribbean, which as we all know has been changed a lot to cater to Jack Sparrow and the movie/s. It’s located in Adventureland which is not like the French Quarter in Disneyland. Instead the area has a sort of Mexican/Caribbean/African feel. I kinda like the French Quarter area better, in fact I think it’s my favorite area in Disneyland and it’s missing here in Disney World. Anyway, it was really dark on the ride.

Then the Jungle Cruise. Same as Disneyland. Same spiel you’ve hear a hundred times. But cute for the kids.

Then the Haunted Mansion. It was really dark in there, too. It’s not that scary and it’s really well done. I just kept marveling that this seemingly very long ride was housed in that huge brick building. I’d love to see everything in some light. But it was really, really dark in there.

And I have to mention, on almost every ride, we got stuck. I’m assuming they may have been loading and unloading riders who needed extra help. But like in the Haunted Mansion and Small World, it was a good bit of time just sitting, waiting, wondering.

Finally, they’ve put a show stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle that has a lot to do with Peter Pan and Captain Hook, but also involved the Princesses and Mickey & Minnie. I think it’s called Mickey Mouse’s Dream or Wishes or Something or Other. By this time the sun was going down and we were all really cold.

So off we went to bluezoo at the Dolphin Hotel for dinner.

Disney Hollywood Studios: (Disney’s answer to Universal Studios)

As we overheard in the Prime Time 50’s Diner when a “guest” asked the bartender, “Is there any where that’s not busy?” And the bartender replied, “Universal.”

We did Star Tours here, which was not as great as I remember from Disneyland, but maybe that’s because the last time I went on it was years ago and it may have been revolutionary then.

Then we took a break in the sun and decided we’d wait for the Indiana Jones stunt show. We actually sat front and center in the audience thanks to my kids racing down the stairs. And because of that, my kids got to go up onstage, say their names and ages, and say “Lights, Camera, Action!” and meet the Indiana Jones and Karen Allen stunt doubles after the show and take a photo with them.

The show itself was very similar to the car stunt show we went to right after. They get the director and the stunt director and all these supposedly behind-the-scenes people to tell you what it’s like to shoot movie scenes. I will say that the car stunts were pretty cool. Backwards, forwards, over ramps, motorcycles, a jet ski, fire, etc. I was just happy I was sitting down.

But after that final show, we had had about enough and all the kids wanted to do was go swimming (which is what they always wanted to do, all of the time). So we went back to the hotel, went to the BIG pool for an hour or two and then went back to the room to get ready for our character dinner at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Hotel. (refer to posting “The Sherriff, Pluto, Tom, & Kermit”)

Typhoon Lagoon:

Finally, on our last full day, I got what I was looking for in a vacation. A beach/pool type atmosphere where I wear my swimsuit, no shoes, Jimmy Buffett is playing in the background and I’m sipping a frozen margarita, my kids no where to be found. I was thinking to myself, “Why didn’t we come here the first day?” Because then my kids would have wanted to come here every day after even in freezing cold temperatures.

The size of the place is unbelievable. This puts all other water parks to shame. The slides, the lazy river, the beaches, the tsunami size wave pool, the snack bars, the palm trees, the . . . .

And it’s only open while the sun is up so there’s no getting sucked into staying til way later than you thought you would and all of a sudden it’s 11:00 p.m. While we were there, it closed at 5:00, a nice civilized time to go back to the room and get ready for dinner. Just as you would do if you were on a normal vacation that consisted of sleeping in, getting dressed for the pool and beach, going to the pool for a little while, going to the beach for a little while, grabbing some lunch, maybe a cocktail, going back to the beach, then back to the pool, and then back to the room to get dressed for dinner. Seven days of that and I’m a happy camper.

Think you have enough time in one day for one park, hear me now and hear me later (yes, hear me now and then when you’re there, you’ll hear me later) YOU DO NOT! Unless you get up earlier than I did, stay later than I did, or have more energy than I or my family did. This is probably why a lot of families reserve a day or more to spend by the pool . . . if it’s warm enough. You need days to re-energize and recuperate. To go, go, go every day in a row can take a lot out of you, but if you want to get as much of it in as you can, it seems that that is what you have to do. Unless you plan to visit more than once every . . . lifetime.


McDonald's Apparently Getting French Fry Monopoly at the Olympics - Recipes

#1: You need a vacation after your vacation.

#2: I am not a PDG: Professional Disney Goer by any means nor any stretch of the imagination. Case in point, I found that I enjoyed my bathroom breaks as a personal respite, or rather a bit of time away from the hustle and bustle, a delightful pause for my paws, if you will, as I treaded through the parks. Meaning, sometimes, a lot of the time, you just want to sit down, no matter where you get the chance.

#3: I have proven true to myself the words of my parents’ friends some 30-odd years ago, “Take a kid to Disney _____ (land or World) and all they want to do is go to the pool at the hotel.” (#3 has been the basis of my vacation planning until this particular venture, and now I know why.)

We did TWO days of Epcot and barely went on any rides. Okay, okay, that’s because I LOVE the World Showcase and enjoy just hanging out in various countries and talking to all the people that work there who are actually from those countries.

The first day we went to Epcot we went on the new Nemo ride, which is kind of . . . lame, but cute, good for the younger set. Two of you sit in a clam shell and you get to see various parts of the Nemo movie with the backdrop of a huge real-life aquarium. The best part is that you are dropped off in the massive aquatic center where you can continue to tour the aquarium and learn lots of stuff about sea life. That part, I was impressed with.

I really, really wanted to go on the Living with the Land ride that I remember fondly from my previous trip umpteen years ago. But the fast passes were gone by the time we tried to get them on both of the days we were there. And the wait was usually pretty long as well. And I got sucked in by the World Showcase and never went back to try to go on the ride.

The second day of Epcot we got fast passes for the Test Track ride, but my son had been so freaked out by the Expedition Everest ride in Animal Kingdom that he didn’t really feel like sitting in a car that goes from 0-65 in 2 point whatever seconds. And anyway, by the time our fast passes were due we were sitting comfortably in Norway or Mexico or somewhere. Actually I think it was Italy where my family made me buy this Bvlgari perfume that doesn’t even wash off. Some people would say that was a good thing.

So the first day we went to Epcot, we tried to get into Germany. Now, let me give you a little background. The fondest memory my husband and I have of our previous trip to Disney World is our three plus hours we spent in Germany, drinking liter beers, watching the little show they put on with the polka band that at that time included Schuhplattler Dance that my husband took part in (man, I wish I had that on tape).

So I had originally booked reservations for Germany on the first day we were supposed to be in Disney World. Referring back to my previous post (“The Great Disney World Debacle and Why American Airlines Should Be Ashamed Of Themselves Two Time Over”) you’ll know that our flight was cancelled and we didn’t arrive until the day after those reservations.

So we took a shot. I even laid on the “cancelled flight” excuse. Nope. Nein. Kein Essen fur sie. All booked up for that day.

I was sort of crushed, but I knew we’d be back. So initially I made a reservation for the following Saturday and then decided that I’d make even another reservation for Friday in case Saturday was sunny and we wanted to go to the water park (which we did). Friday we made it to Germany. Oh happy day.

The spring in my step that morning. Like a little leprechaun in lederhosen (I know that doesn’t make sense and I’m not Irish, but it sounded good.) (Maybe a Keebler Elf makes more sense.)

I happily approached the podium with my name and reservation at the ready. We were ushered in and there, to what my wondering eyes did appear, the magic of yesteryear. And bless that hostess’s heart, she sat us right down front by the dance floor.

Christina from Hamburg was our waitress. We ordered liter beers, (throughout the afternoon she kept asking, “half?” to which we shook our heads and said “full,” to which she said, “Good for you.”) Christina was the best.

So we made it through THREE of the shows (we calculated that they play for a half hour every hour or so). And it’s not the same show every time (for those of us who like to spend most of their day there.) They do some polkas, some waltzes, the play the bells, the alpenhorn and they do the “Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlichkeit, Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlchkeit, Eins, Zwei, Drei, G’suffa! Zicke, Zacke, Zicke, Zacke, Hoi, Hoi, Hoi!” at least twice during each show. Gotta have the liter beer mug at various levels of beer for that toast every time.

So, our kids loved the food, much to my surprise. It was excellent. All the food provided by Disney was fabulous except for the Character dinner at Chef Mickey’s which apparently, for some reason, though I don’t know why, they think they can get away with sub-par food.

Our son was on the dance floor every time there was a show. I went out there at his request a couple of time to dance, but he didn’t really want to dance WITH me, he just wanted me out there. So I went back and sat down with my beer.

Our daughter was getting bored. I did leave with her for a bit to go out to the shops nearby so she could trade yet even more Pluto pins.

In the end we bid auf wiedersehen to Deutschland and went outside to refill our souvenir German beer mugs at the closest beer stand.

I also love Mexico. Just love it. They had the most awesome Mariachi Band, more professional than I’ve ever heard, every guy had a solo, just fantástico. The little ride they have is so nice. My son said to me, “I know why you like that ride, because of all the dolls!” (I collect dolls and it’s sort of Small World-ish in animation.) They have the San Angel Inn Restaurant, at which unfortunately we did not get to dine this time around due to our cancelled flight. It reminds me of the Blue Bayou in Disneyland with Mexican flair. And the Cava de Tequila (Tequila Cave) a little hole-in-the-wall bar where you can get seriously strong margaritas and even a few tasty Mexican morsels. But my kids wanted to leave. So on we went.

And for some reason we spent about three hours in Norway on the first day we were there. We attempted to stand in line for the Maelstrom ride and after a bit of discussion everyone realized it was far more beneficial to obtain fast passes.

Japan is amazing. They have a HUGE Toy store under the Benihana-esque restaurant located on the second level that has more teppan yaki rooms than I’ve ever seen. In the toy store they have everything my son loves: Pokemon, Yugi-oh, Bakugan, etc. And they even have a little grocery store with all kinds of Japanese Sodas and snacks. We ended up eating at the big restaurant, we waited much longer than we were initially told for a table, but the sushi was excellent quality. (Just as was most of the food produced by Disney establishments.)

But even with two days, it wasn’t enough to see and do all we wanted to in Epcot.

Animal Kingdom:

This is the first park we visited. Apparently it is the largest in area of all of the theme parks. When my husband and I visited so many years ago, Animal Kingdom had just opened and there wasn’t much to it. They had the Safari ride and the Dinosaur ride and pretty much after that we went to the Magic Kingdom. But this time, getting fast passes for those two rides and then waiting in line for Expedition Everest and having lunch at the Tusker House filled up an entire day.

When we arrived we started at the first pin trading stand and my daughter began her new collection. (Refer to post “Disney World Recap #3: Best Tips Including Pin Trading, Fast Passes & Meeting Characters”) It was here that we received a mystery pin for a dollar after spending $30. After that, we hustled our way to the Safari ride to get our fast pass. We would need to return a few hours later for our ride.

Moving on, we hustled all the way back across the park to the Dinosaur ride. Again, we obtained a fast pass. Then, we hustled back to the middle area where the new Expedition Everest roller coaster was. They were no longer offering fast passes for this ride and the wait wasn’t that long, so we decided to stand in line. Unfortunately, this ride scared the bejeezus out of my 8 year old son. It was quite fast. It’s a good roller coaster. Just not for an unsuspecting 8 year old.

We had lunch at the Tusker House, which was surprisingly great African food. Another great option would have been the Yak & Yeti Restaurant which offers Asian cuisine.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the Safari Ride, taking the train to the Conservation Station where we were too late for the petting zoo, and finally back to the Dinosaur ride. By that time it was beginning to rain and we had reservations at the Rainforest Café. But the kids weren’t hungry. They wanted to go to the pool.

So we went back to the hotel and went to the pool.

That evening, though we were all exhausted, we went to Downtown Disney.

Downtown Disney:

Not a Theme Park, but it deserves recognition. Here you will find a plethora of restaurants like Planet Hollywood, House of Blues, Rainforest Café, and T-Rex, etc. You will also find the best and most comprehensive shopping experience. They have a Pin Trading Station with the most Trading Pins you will find anywhere. There is the largest Disney souvenir store anywhere in Disney World. They have a T-shirt making shop where you can make a shirt with your favorite character and add your own words for around $23. There is a Christmas Shop, an Under $10 Store and a huge Lego Imagination Center where a lot of kids could an did spend a lot of time. We visited Downtown Disney more than once for dining and shopping which was a nice break from the parks for an evening or morning.

Magic Kingdom:

Just gonna say, second-time running, this place is not as good as Disneyland, and not because I’m partial to Disneyland being a Californian, and all.

We started in Toon Town because SOMEBODY had to take the train first thing, and that’s where everyone decided to get off. Mind you, I never really liked Toon Town. I don’t know why. It’s not original to Disneyland or World, it came later. Maybe because it’s not enjoyable for the adults. Or maybe because I once spent an hour in line, (in Disneyland), in the rain, for the little tiny roller coaster they have there. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. And this time, again, as my daughter was dragging me back to Pluto’s doghouse, my son dragged his dad on that same roller coaster. Which split the family and left my daughter and I to wait. And then she wanted an ice cream. And we waited in line. And this woman who was working this kiosk was a few cards short of a full deck. And her hair net . . . Anyway, the people in line were looking at each other and mouthing the words, “I don’t know what’s going on.” Apparently, her computer wasn’t working (which happened often) and she could only take cash (which also happened often). So I’m calling my husband to see if my son wants any ice cream and he’s not answering and then I see them approaching as I’m trying to get dollars out of my purse and yell at my husband and getting really frustrated all in all.

From there, I realize that I am hungry, too. And I see a guy walk by with french fries. I’m getting french fries. I get them and my son starts eating them. The kid who just had a box of popcorn. So I get another french fry while the kids go wait in line for the Dumbo ride and then decide they don’t want to wait in line for the Dumbo ride. But they do want to eat my french fries.

From there, on to Small World. This deal you could just walk by without noticing. It has none of the glory and provenance that the LA version does. The line is in a building for crying out loud. How can you put the front of It’s A Small World in a building? Shameful.

We do Tom Sawyer Island, which I always like because it’s quiet. My point there was for the kids to run around while I sat in a sunny spot and decompressed. That sorta worked.

Back to the mainland it was lunchtime. First we argued about whether we were going to have Mexican food, because my son wanted a burrito, but not with meat in it, which they didn’t have and my daughter wanted a taco with chicken in it but they only had beef. We fixed this by my son finally agreeing to a quesadilla and my daughter agreeing to the taco. Conveniently, these also came with grapes and cookies.

Onto Pirates of the Caribbean, which as we all know has been changed a lot to cater to Jack Sparrow and the movie/s. It’s located in Adventureland which is not like the French Quarter in Disneyland. Instead the area has a sort of Mexican/Caribbean/African feel. I kinda like the French Quarter area better, in fact I think it’s my favorite area in Disneyland and it’s missing here in Disney World. Anyway, it was really dark on the ride.

Then the Jungle Cruise. Same as Disneyland. Same spiel you’ve hear a hundred times. But cute for the kids.

Then the Haunted Mansion. It was really dark in there, too. It’s not that scary and it’s really well done. I just kept marveling that this seemingly very long ride was housed in that huge brick building. I’d love to see everything in some light. But it was really, really dark in there.

And I have to mention, on almost every ride, we got stuck. I’m assuming they may have been loading and unloading riders who needed extra help. But like in the Haunted Mansion and Small World, it was a good bit of time just sitting, waiting, wondering.

Finally, they’ve put a show stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle that has a lot to do with Peter Pan and Captain Hook, but also involved the Princesses and Mickey & Minnie. I think it’s called Mickey Mouse’s Dream or Wishes or Something or Other. By this time the sun was going down and we were all really cold.

So off we went to bluezoo at the Dolphin Hotel for dinner.

Disney Hollywood Studios: (Disney’s answer to Universal Studios)

As we overheard in the Prime Time 50’s Diner when a “guest” asked the bartender, “Is there any where that’s not busy?” And the bartender replied, “Universal.”

We did Star Tours here, which was not as great as I remember from Disneyland, but maybe that’s because the last time I went on it was years ago and it may have been revolutionary then.

Then we took a break in the sun and decided we’d wait for the Indiana Jones stunt show. We actually sat front and center in the audience thanks to my kids racing down the stairs. And because of that, my kids got to go up onstage, say their names and ages, and say “Lights, Camera, Action!” and meet the Indiana Jones and Karen Allen stunt doubles after the show and take a photo with them.

The show itself was very similar to the car stunt show we went to right after. They get the director and the stunt director and all these supposedly behind-the-scenes people to tell you what it’s like to shoot movie scenes. I will say that the car stunts were pretty cool. Backwards, forwards, over ramps, motorcycles, a jet ski, fire, etc. I was just happy I was sitting down.

But after that final show, we had had about enough and all the kids wanted to do was go swimming (which is what they always wanted to do, all of the time). So we went back to the hotel, went to the BIG pool for an hour or two and then went back to the room to get ready for our character dinner at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Hotel. (refer to posting “The Sherriff, Pluto, Tom, & Kermit”)

Typhoon Lagoon:

Finally, on our last full day, I got what I was looking for in a vacation. A beach/pool type atmosphere where I wear my swimsuit, no shoes, Jimmy Buffett is playing in the background and I’m sipping a frozen margarita, my kids no where to be found. I was thinking to myself, “Why didn’t we come here the first day?” Because then my kids would have wanted to come here every day after even in freezing cold temperatures.

The size of the place is unbelievable. This puts all other water parks to shame. The slides, the lazy river, the beaches, the tsunami size wave pool, the snack bars, the palm trees, the . . . .

And it’s only open while the sun is up so there’s no getting sucked into staying til way later than you thought you would and all of a sudden it’s 11:00 p.m. While we were there, it closed at 5:00, a nice civilized time to go back to the room and get ready for dinner. Just as you would do if you were on a normal vacation that consisted of sleeping in, getting dressed for the pool and beach, going to the pool for a little while, going to the beach for a little while, grabbing some lunch, maybe a cocktail, going back to the beach, then back to the pool, and then back to the room to get dressed for dinner. Seven days of that and I’m a happy camper.

Think you have enough time in one day for one park, hear me now and hear me later (yes, hear me now and then when you’re there, you’ll hear me later) YOU DO NOT! Unless you get up earlier than I did, stay later than I did, or have more energy than I or my family did. This is probably why a lot of families reserve a day or more to spend by the pool . . . if it’s warm enough. You need days to re-energize and recuperate. To go, go, go every day in a row can take a lot out of you, but if you want to get as much of it in as you can, it seems that that is what you have to do. Unless you plan to visit more than once every . . . lifetime.


McDonald's Apparently Getting French Fry Monopoly at the Olympics - Recipes

#1: You need a vacation after your vacation.

#2: I am not a PDG: Professional Disney Goer by any means nor any stretch of the imagination. Case in point, I found that I enjoyed my bathroom breaks as a personal respite, or rather a bit of time away from the hustle and bustle, a delightful pause for my paws, if you will, as I treaded through the parks. Meaning, sometimes, a lot of the time, you just want to sit down, no matter where you get the chance.

#3: I have proven true to myself the words of my parents’ friends some 30-odd years ago, “Take a kid to Disney _____ (land or World) and all they want to do is go to the pool at the hotel.” (#3 has been the basis of my vacation planning until this particular venture, and now I know why.)

We did TWO days of Epcot and barely went on any rides. Okay, okay, that’s because I LOVE the World Showcase and enjoy just hanging out in various countries and talking to all the people that work there who are actually from those countries.

The first day we went to Epcot we went on the new Nemo ride, which is kind of . . . lame, but cute, good for the younger set. Two of you sit in a clam shell and you get to see various parts of the Nemo movie with the backdrop of a huge real-life aquarium. The best part is that you are dropped off in the massive aquatic center where you can continue to tour the aquarium and learn lots of stuff about sea life. That part, I was impressed with.

I really, really wanted to go on the Living with the Land ride that I remember fondly from my previous trip umpteen years ago. But the fast passes were gone by the time we tried to get them on both of the days we were there. And the wait was usually pretty long as well. And I got sucked in by the World Showcase and never went back to try to go on the ride.

The second day of Epcot we got fast passes for the Test Track ride, but my son had been so freaked out by the Expedition Everest ride in Animal Kingdom that he didn’t really feel like sitting in a car that goes from 0-65 in 2 point whatever seconds. And anyway, by the time our fast passes were due we were sitting comfortably in Norway or Mexico or somewhere. Actually I think it was Italy where my family made me buy this Bvlgari perfume that doesn’t even wash off. Some people would say that was a good thing.

So the first day we went to Epcot, we tried to get into Germany. Now, let me give you a little background. The fondest memory my husband and I have of our previous trip to Disney World is our three plus hours we spent in Germany, drinking liter beers, watching the little show they put on with the polka band that at that time included Schuhplattler Dance that my husband took part in (man, I wish I had that on tape).

So I had originally booked reservations for Germany on the first day we were supposed to be in Disney World. Referring back to my previous post (“The Great Disney World Debacle and Why American Airlines Should Be Ashamed Of Themselves Two Time Over”) you’ll know that our flight was cancelled and we didn’t arrive until the day after those reservations.

So we took a shot. I even laid on the “cancelled flight” excuse. Nope. Nein. Kein Essen fur sie. All booked up for that day.

I was sort of crushed, but I knew we’d be back. So initially I made a reservation for the following Saturday and then decided that I’d make even another reservation for Friday in case Saturday was sunny and we wanted to go to the water park (which we did). Friday we made it to Germany. Oh happy day.

The spring in my step that morning. Like a little leprechaun in lederhosen (I know that doesn’t make sense and I’m not Irish, but it sounded good.) (Maybe a Keebler Elf makes more sense.)

I happily approached the podium with my name and reservation at the ready. We were ushered in and there, to what my wondering eyes did appear, the magic of yesteryear. And bless that hostess’s heart, she sat us right down front by the dance floor.

Christina from Hamburg was our waitress. We ordered liter beers, (throughout the afternoon she kept asking, “half?” to which we shook our heads and said “full,” to which she said, “Good for you.”) Christina was the best.

So we made it through THREE of the shows (we calculated that they play for a half hour every hour or so). And it’s not the same show every time (for those of us who like to spend most of their day there.) They do some polkas, some waltzes, the play the bells, the alpenhorn and they do the “Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlichkeit, Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlchkeit, Eins, Zwei, Drei, G’suffa! Zicke, Zacke, Zicke, Zacke, Hoi, Hoi, Hoi!” at least twice during each show. Gotta have the liter beer mug at various levels of beer for that toast every time.

So, our kids loved the food, much to my surprise. It was excellent. All the food provided by Disney was fabulous except for the Character dinner at Chef Mickey’s which apparently, for some reason, though I don’t know why, they think they can get away with sub-par food.

Our son was on the dance floor every time there was a show. I went out there at his request a couple of time to dance, but he didn’t really want to dance WITH me, he just wanted me out there. So I went back and sat down with my beer.

Our daughter was getting bored. I did leave with her for a bit to go out to the shops nearby so she could trade yet even more Pluto pins.

In the end we bid auf wiedersehen to Deutschland and went outside to refill our souvenir German beer mugs at the closest beer stand.

I also love Mexico. Just love it. They had the most awesome Mariachi Band, more professional than I’ve ever heard, every guy had a solo, just fantástico. The little ride they have is so nice. My son said to me, “I know why you like that ride, because of all the dolls!” (I collect dolls and it’s sort of Small World-ish in animation.) They have the San Angel Inn Restaurant, at which unfortunately we did not get to dine this time around due to our cancelled flight. It reminds me of the Blue Bayou in Disneyland with Mexican flair. And the Cava de Tequila (Tequila Cave) a little hole-in-the-wall bar where you can get seriously strong margaritas and even a few tasty Mexican morsels. But my kids wanted to leave. So on we went.

And for some reason we spent about three hours in Norway on the first day we were there. We attempted to stand in line for the Maelstrom ride and after a bit of discussion everyone realized it was far more beneficial to obtain fast passes.

Japan is amazing. They have a HUGE Toy store under the Benihana-esque restaurant located on the second level that has more teppan yaki rooms than I’ve ever seen. In the toy store they have everything my son loves: Pokemon, Yugi-oh, Bakugan, etc. And they even have a little grocery store with all kinds of Japanese Sodas and snacks. We ended up eating at the big restaurant, we waited much longer than we were initially told for a table, but the sushi was excellent quality. (Just as was most of the food produced by Disney establishments.)

But even with two days, it wasn’t enough to see and do all we wanted to in Epcot.

Animal Kingdom:

This is the first park we visited. Apparently it is the largest in area of all of the theme parks. When my husband and I visited so many years ago, Animal Kingdom had just opened and there wasn’t much to it. They had the Safari ride and the Dinosaur ride and pretty much after that we went to the Magic Kingdom. But this time, getting fast passes for those two rides and then waiting in line for Expedition Everest and having lunch at the Tusker House filled up an entire day.

When we arrived we started at the first pin trading stand and my daughter began her new collection. (Refer to post “Disney World Recap #3: Best Tips Including Pin Trading, Fast Passes & Meeting Characters”) It was here that we received a mystery pin for a dollar after spending $30. After that, we hustled our way to the Safari ride to get our fast pass. We would need to return a few hours later for our ride.

Moving on, we hustled all the way back across the park to the Dinosaur ride. Again, we obtained a fast pass. Then, we hustled back to the middle area where the new Expedition Everest roller coaster was. They were no longer offering fast passes for this ride and the wait wasn’t that long, so we decided to stand in line. Unfortunately, this ride scared the bejeezus out of my 8 year old son. It was quite fast. It’s a good roller coaster. Just not for an unsuspecting 8 year old.

We had lunch at the Tusker House, which was surprisingly great African food. Another great option would have been the Yak & Yeti Restaurant which offers Asian cuisine.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the Safari Ride, taking the train to the Conservation Station where we were too late for the petting zoo, and finally back to the Dinosaur ride. By that time it was beginning to rain and we had reservations at the Rainforest Café. But the kids weren’t hungry. They wanted to go to the pool.

So we went back to the hotel and went to the pool.

That evening, though we were all exhausted, we went to Downtown Disney.

Downtown Disney:

Not a Theme Park, but it deserves recognition. Here you will find a plethora of restaurants like Planet Hollywood, House of Blues, Rainforest Café, and T-Rex, etc. You will also find the best and most comprehensive shopping experience. They have a Pin Trading Station with the most Trading Pins you will find anywhere. There is the largest Disney souvenir store anywhere in Disney World. They have a T-shirt making shop where you can make a shirt with your favorite character and add your own words for around $23. There is a Christmas Shop, an Under $10 Store and a huge Lego Imagination Center where a lot of kids could an did spend a lot of time. We visited Downtown Disney more than once for dining and shopping which was a nice break from the parks for an evening or morning.

Magic Kingdom:

Just gonna say, second-time running, this place is not as good as Disneyland, and not because I’m partial to Disneyland being a Californian, and all.

We started in Toon Town because SOMEBODY had to take the train first thing, and that’s where everyone decided to get off. Mind you, I never really liked Toon Town. I don’t know why. It’s not original to Disneyland or World, it came later. Maybe because it’s not enjoyable for the adults. Or maybe because I once spent an hour in line, (in Disneyland), in the rain, for the little tiny roller coaster they have there. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. And this time, again, as my daughter was dragging me back to Pluto’s doghouse, my son dragged his dad on that same roller coaster. Which split the family and left my daughter and I to wait. And then she wanted an ice cream. And we waited in line. And this woman who was working this kiosk was a few cards short of a full deck. And her hair net . . . Anyway, the people in line were looking at each other and mouthing the words, “I don’t know what’s going on.” Apparently, her computer wasn’t working (which happened often) and she could only take cash (which also happened often). So I’m calling my husband to see if my son wants any ice cream and he’s not answering and then I see them approaching as I’m trying to get dollars out of my purse and yell at my husband and getting really frustrated all in all.

From there, I realize that I am hungry, too. And I see a guy walk by with french fries. I’m getting french fries. I get them and my son starts eating them. The kid who just had a box of popcorn. So I get another french fry while the kids go wait in line for the Dumbo ride and then decide they don’t want to wait in line for the Dumbo ride. But they do want to eat my french fries.

From there, on to Small World. This deal you could just walk by without noticing. It has none of the glory and provenance that the LA version does. The line is in a building for crying out loud. How can you put the front of It’s A Small World in a building? Shameful.

We do Tom Sawyer Island, which I always like because it’s quiet. My point there was for the kids to run around while I sat in a sunny spot and decompressed. That sorta worked.

Back to the mainland it was lunchtime. First we argued about whether we were going to have Mexican food, because my son wanted a burrito, but not with meat in it, which they didn’t have and my daughter wanted a taco with chicken in it but they only had beef. We fixed this by my son finally agreeing to a quesadilla and my daughter agreeing to the taco. Conveniently, these also came with grapes and cookies.

Onto Pirates of the Caribbean, which as we all know has been changed a lot to cater to Jack Sparrow and the movie/s. It’s located in Adventureland which is not like the French Quarter in Disneyland. Instead the area has a sort of Mexican/Caribbean/African feel. I kinda like the French Quarter area better, in fact I think it’s my favorite area in Disneyland and it’s missing here in Disney World. Anyway, it was really dark on the ride.

Then the Jungle Cruise. Same as Disneyland. Same spiel you’ve hear a hundred times. But cute for the kids.

Then the Haunted Mansion. It was really dark in there, too. It’s not that scary and it’s really well done. I just kept marveling that this seemingly very long ride was housed in that huge brick building. I’d love to see everything in some light. But it was really, really dark in there.

And I have to mention, on almost every ride, we got stuck. I’m assuming they may have been loading and unloading riders who needed extra help. But like in the Haunted Mansion and Small World, it was a good bit of time just sitting, waiting, wondering.

Finally, they’ve put a show stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle that has a lot to do with Peter Pan and Captain Hook, but also involved the Princesses and Mickey & Minnie. I think it’s called Mickey Mouse’s Dream or Wishes or Something or Other. By this time the sun was going down and we were all really cold.

So off we went to bluezoo at the Dolphin Hotel for dinner.

Disney Hollywood Studios: (Disney’s answer to Universal Studios)

As we overheard in the Prime Time 50’s Diner when a “guest” asked the bartender, “Is there any where that’s not busy?” And the bartender replied, “Universal.”

We did Star Tours here, which was not as great as I remember from Disneyland, but maybe that’s because the last time I went on it was years ago and it may have been revolutionary then.

Then we took a break in the sun and decided we’d wait for the Indiana Jones stunt show. We actually sat front and center in the audience thanks to my kids racing down the stairs. And because of that, my kids got to go up onstage, say their names and ages, and say “Lights, Camera, Action!” and meet the Indiana Jones and Karen Allen stunt doubles after the show and take a photo with them.

The show itself was very similar to the car stunt show we went to right after. They get the director and the stunt director and all these supposedly behind-the-scenes people to tell you what it’s like to shoot movie scenes. I will say that the car stunts were pretty cool. Backwards, forwards, over ramps, motorcycles, a jet ski, fire, etc. I was just happy I was sitting down.

But after that final show, we had had about enough and all the kids wanted to do was go swimming (which is what they always wanted to do, all of the time). So we went back to the hotel, went to the BIG pool for an hour or two and then went back to the room to get ready for our character dinner at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Hotel. (refer to posting “The Sherriff, Pluto, Tom, & Kermit”)

Typhoon Lagoon:

Finally, on our last full day, I got what I was looking for in a vacation. A beach/pool type atmosphere where I wear my swimsuit, no shoes, Jimmy Buffett is playing in the background and I’m sipping a frozen margarita, my kids no where to be found. I was thinking to myself, “Why didn’t we come here the first day?” Because then my kids would have wanted to come here every day after even in freezing cold temperatures.

The size of the place is unbelievable. This puts all other water parks to shame. The slides, the lazy river, the beaches, the tsunami size wave pool, the snack bars, the palm trees, the . . . .

And it’s only open while the sun is up so there’s no getting sucked into staying til way later than you thought you would and all of a sudden it’s 11:00 p.m. While we were there, it closed at 5:00, a nice civilized time to go back to the room and get ready for dinner. Just as you would do if you were on a normal vacation that consisted of sleeping in, getting dressed for the pool and beach, going to the pool for a little while, going to the beach for a little while, grabbing some lunch, maybe a cocktail, going back to the beach, then back to the pool, and then back to the room to get dressed for dinner. Seven days of that and I’m a happy camper.

Think you have enough time in one day for one park, hear me now and hear me later (yes, hear me now and then when you’re there, you’ll hear me later) YOU DO NOT! Unless you get up earlier than I did, stay later than I did, or have more energy than I or my family did. This is probably why a lot of families reserve a day or more to spend by the pool . . . if it’s warm enough. You need days to re-energize and recuperate. To go, go, go every day in a row can take a lot out of you, but if you want to get as much of it in as you can, it seems that that is what you have to do. Unless you plan to visit more than once every . . . lifetime.


McDonald's Apparently Getting French Fry Monopoly at the Olympics - Recipes

#1: You need a vacation after your vacation.

#2: I am not a PDG: Professional Disney Goer by any means nor any stretch of the imagination. Case in point, I found that I enjoyed my bathroom breaks as a personal respite, or rather a bit of time away from the hustle and bustle, a delightful pause for my paws, if you will, as I treaded through the parks. Meaning, sometimes, a lot of the time, you just want to sit down, no matter where you get the chance.

#3: I have proven true to myself the words of my parents’ friends some 30-odd years ago, “Take a kid to Disney _____ (land or World) and all they want to do is go to the pool at the hotel.” (#3 has been the basis of my vacation planning until this particular venture, and now I know why.)

We did TWO days of Epcot and barely went on any rides. Okay, okay, that’s because I LOVE the World Showcase and enjoy just hanging out in various countries and talking to all the people that work there who are actually from those countries.

The first day we went to Epcot we went on the new Nemo ride, which is kind of . . . lame, but cute, good for the younger set. Two of you sit in a clam shell and you get to see various parts of the Nemo movie with the backdrop of a huge real-life aquarium. The best part is that you are dropped off in the massive aquatic center where you can continue to tour the aquarium and learn lots of stuff about sea life. That part, I was impressed with.

I really, really wanted to go on the Living with the Land ride that I remember fondly from my previous trip umpteen years ago. But the fast passes were gone by the time we tried to get them on both of the days we were there. And the wait was usually pretty long as well. And I got sucked in by the World Showcase and never went back to try to go on the ride.

The second day of Epcot we got fast passes for the Test Track ride, but my son had been so freaked out by the Expedition Everest ride in Animal Kingdom that he didn’t really feel like sitting in a car that goes from 0-65 in 2 point whatever seconds. And anyway, by the time our fast passes were due we were sitting comfortably in Norway or Mexico or somewhere. Actually I think it was Italy where my family made me buy this Bvlgari perfume that doesn’t even wash off. Some people would say that was a good thing.

So the first day we went to Epcot, we tried to get into Germany. Now, let me give you a little background. The fondest memory my husband and I have of our previous trip to Disney World is our three plus hours we spent in Germany, drinking liter beers, watching the little show they put on with the polka band that at that time included Schuhplattler Dance that my husband took part in (man, I wish I had that on tape).

So I had originally booked reservations for Germany on the first day we were supposed to be in Disney World. Referring back to my previous post (“The Great Disney World Debacle and Why American Airlines Should Be Ashamed Of Themselves Two Time Over”) you’ll know that our flight was cancelled and we didn’t arrive until the day after those reservations.

So we took a shot. I even laid on the “cancelled flight” excuse. Nope. Nein. Kein Essen fur sie. All booked up for that day.

I was sort of crushed, but I knew we’d be back. So initially I made a reservation for the following Saturday and then decided that I’d make even another reservation for Friday in case Saturday was sunny and we wanted to go to the water park (which we did). Friday we made it to Germany. Oh happy day.

The spring in my step that morning. Like a little leprechaun in lederhosen (I know that doesn’t make sense and I’m not Irish, but it sounded good.) (Maybe a Keebler Elf makes more sense.)

I happily approached the podium with my name and reservation at the ready. We were ushered in and there, to what my wondering eyes did appear, the magic of yesteryear. And bless that hostess’s heart, she sat us right down front by the dance floor.

Christina from Hamburg was our waitress. We ordered liter beers, (throughout the afternoon she kept asking, “half?” to which we shook our heads and said “full,” to which she said, “Good for you.”) Christina was the best.

So we made it through THREE of the shows (we calculated that they play for a half hour every hour or so). And it’s not the same show every time (for those of us who like to spend most of their day there.) They do some polkas, some waltzes, the play the bells, the alpenhorn and they do the “Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlichkeit, Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemütlchkeit, Eins, Zwei, Drei, G’suffa! Zicke, Zacke, Zicke, Zacke, Hoi, Hoi, Hoi!” at least twice during each show. Gotta have the liter beer mug at various levels of beer for that toast every time.

So, our kids loved the food, much to my surprise. It was excellent. All the food provided by Disney was fabulous except for the Character dinner at Chef Mickey’s which apparently, for some reason, though I don’t know why, they think they can get away with sub-par food.

Our son was on the dance floor every time there was a show. I went out there at his request a couple of time to dance, but he didn’t really want to dance WITH me, he just wanted me out there. So I went back and sat down with my beer.

Our daughter was getting bored. I did leave with her for a bit to go out to the shops nearby so she could trade yet even more Pluto pins.

In the end we bid auf wiedersehen to Deutschland and went outside to refill our souvenir German beer mugs at the closest beer stand.

I also love Mexico. Just love it. They had the most awesome Mariachi Band, more professional than I’ve ever heard, every guy had a solo, just fantástico. The little ride they have is so nice. My son said to me, “I know why you like that ride, because of all the dolls!” (I collect dolls and it’s sort of Small World-ish in animation.) They have the San Angel Inn Restaurant, at which unfortunately we did not get to dine this time around due to our cancelled flight. It reminds me of the Blue Bayou in Disneyland with Mexican flair. And the Cava de Tequila (Tequila Cave) a little hole-in-the-wall bar where you can get seriously strong margaritas and even a few tasty Mexican morsels. But my kids wanted to leave. So on we went.

And for some reason we spent about three hours in Norway on the first day we were there. We attempted to stand in line for the Maelstrom ride and after a bit of discussion everyone realized it was far more beneficial to obtain fast passes.

Japan is amazing. They have a HUGE Toy store under the Benihana-esque restaurant located on the second level that has more teppan yaki rooms than I’ve ever seen. In the toy store they have everything my son loves: Pokemon, Yugi-oh, Bakugan, etc. And they even have a little grocery store with all kinds of Japanese Sodas and snacks. We ended up eating at the big restaurant, we waited much longer than we were initially told for a table, but the sushi was excellent quality. (Just as was most of the food produced by Disney establishments.)

But even with two days, it wasn’t enough to see and do all we wanted to in Epcot.

Animal Kingdom:

This is the first park we visited. Apparently it is the largest in area of all of the theme parks. When my husband and I visited so many years ago, Animal Kingdom had just opened and there wasn’t much to it. They had the Safari ride and the Dinosaur ride and pretty much after that we went to the Magic Kingdom. But this time, getting fast passes for those two rides and then waiting in line for Expedition Everest and having lunch at the Tusker House filled up an entire day.

When we arrived we started at the first pin trading stand and my daughter began her new collection. (Refer to post “Disney World Recap #3: Best Tips Including Pin Trading, Fast Passes & Meeting Characters”) It was here that we received a mystery pin for a dollar after spending $30. After that, we hustled our way to the Safari ride to get our fast pass. We would need to return a few hours later for our ride.

Moving on, we hustled all the way back across the park to the Dinosaur ride. Again, we obtained a fast pass. Then, we hustled back to the middle area where the new Expedition Everest roller coaster was. They were no longer offering fast passes for this ride and the wait wasn’t that long, so we decided to stand in line. Unfortunately, this ride scared the bejeezus out of my 8 year old son. It was quite fast. It’s a good roller coaster. Just not for an unsuspecting 8 year old.

We had lunch at the Tusker House, which was surprisingly great African food. Another great option would have been the Yak & Yeti Restaurant which offers Asian cuisine.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the Safari Ride, taking the train to the Conservation Station where we were too late for the petting zoo, and finally back to the Dinosaur ride. By that time it was beginning to rain and we had reservations at the Rainforest Café. But the kids weren’t hungry. They wanted to go to the pool.

So we went back to the hotel and went to the pool.

That evening, though we were all exhausted, we went to Downtown Disney.

Downtown Disney:

Not a Theme Park, but it deserves recognition. Here you will find a plethora of restaurants like Planet Hollywood, House of Blues, Rainforest Café, and T-Rex, etc. You will also find the best and most comprehensive shopping experience. They have a Pin Trading Station with the most Trading Pins you will find anywhere. There is the largest Disney souvenir store anywhere in Disney World. They have a T-shirt making shop where you can make a shirt with your favorite character and add your own words for around $23. There is a Christmas Shop, an Under $10 Store and a huge Lego Imagination Center where a lot of kids could an did spend a lot of time. We visited Downtown Disney more than once for dining and shopping which was a nice break from the parks for an evening or morning.

Magic Kingdom:

Just gonna say, second-time running, this place is not as good as Disneyland, and not because I’m partial to Disneyland being a Californian, and all.

We started in Toon Town because SOMEBODY had to take the train first thing, and that’s where everyone decided to get off. Mind you, I never really liked Toon Town. I don’t know why. It’s not original to Disneyland or World, it came later. Maybe because it’s not enjoyable for the adults. Or maybe because I once spent an hour in line, (in Disneyland), in the rain, for the little tiny roller coaster they have there. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. And this time, again, as my daughter was dragging me back to Pluto’s doghouse, my son dragged his dad on that same roller coaster. Which split the family and left my daughter and I to wait. And then she wanted an ice cream. And we waited in line. And this woman who was working this kiosk was a few cards short of a full deck. And her hair net . . . Anyway, the people in line were looking at each other and mouthing the words, “I don’t know what’s going on.” Apparently, her computer wasn’t working (which happened often) and she could only take cash (which also happened often). So I’m calling my husband to see if my son wants any ice cream and he’s not answering and then I see them approaching as I’m trying to get dollars out of my purse and yell at my husband and getting really frustrated all in all.

From there, I realize that I am hungry, too. And I see a guy walk by with french fries. I’m getting french fries. I get them and my son starts eating them. The kid who just had a box of popcorn. So I get another french fry while the kids go wait in line for the Dumbo ride and then decide they don’t want to wait in line for the Dumbo ride. But they do want to eat my french fries.

From there, on to Small World. This deal you could just walk by without noticing. It has none of the glory and provenance that the LA version does. The line is in a building for crying out loud. How can you put the front of It’s A Small World in a building? Shameful.

We do Tom Sawyer Island, which I always like because it’s quiet. My point there was for the kids to run around while I sat in a sunny spot and decompressed. That sorta worked.

Back to the mainland it was lunchtime. First we argued about whether we were going to have Mexican food, because my son wanted a burrito, but not with meat in it, which they didn’t have and my daughter wanted a taco with chicken in it but they only had beef. We fixed this by my son finally agreeing to a quesadilla and my daughter agreeing to the taco. Conveniently, these also came with grapes and cookies.

Onto Pirates of the Caribbean, which as we all know has been changed a lot to cater to Jack Sparrow and the movie/s. It’s located in Adventureland which is not like the French Quarter in Disneyland. Instead the area has a sort of Mexican/Caribbean/African feel. I kinda like the French Quarter area better, in fact I think it’s my favorite area in Disneyland and it’s missing here in Disney World. Anyway, it was really dark on the ride.

Then the Jungle Cruise. Same as Disneyland. Same spiel you’ve hear a hundred times. But cute for the kids.

Then the Haunted Mansion. It was really dark in there, too. It’s not that scary and it’s really well done. I just kept marveling that this seemingly very long ride was housed in that huge brick building. I’d love to see everything in some light. But it was really, really dark in there.

And I have to mention, on almost every ride, we got stuck. I’m assuming they may have been loading and unloading riders who needed extra help. But like in the Haunted Mansion and Small World, it was a good bit of time just sitting, waiting, wondering.

Finally, they’ve put a show stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle that has a lot to do with Peter Pan and Captain Hook, but also involved the Princesses and Mickey & Minnie. I think it’s called Mickey Mouse’s Dream or Wishes or Something or Other. By this time the sun was going down and we were all really cold.

So off we went to bluezoo at the Dolphin Hotel for dinner.

Disney Hollywood Studios: (Disney’s answer to Universal Studios)

As we overheard in the Prime Time 50’s Diner when a “guest” asked the bartender, “Is there any where that’s not busy?” And the bartender replied, “Universal.”

We did Star Tours here, which was not as great as I remember from Disneyland, but maybe that’s because the last time I went on it was years ago and it may have been revolutionary then.

Then we took a break in the sun and decided we’d wait for the Indiana Jones stunt show. We actually sat front and center in the audience thanks to my kids racing down the stairs. And because of that, my kids got to go up onstage, say their names and ages, and say “Lights, Camera, Action!” and meet the Indiana Jones and Karen Allen stunt doubles after the show and take a photo with them.

The show itself was very similar to the car stunt show we went to right after. They get the director and the stunt director and all these supposedly behind-the-scenes people to tell you what it’s like to shoot movie scenes. I will say that the car stunts were pretty cool. Backwards, forwards, over ramps, motorcycles, a jet ski, fire, etc. I was just happy I was sitting down.

But after that final show, we had had about enough and all the kids wanted to do was go swimming (which is what they always wanted to do, all of the time). So we went back to the hotel, went to the BIG pool for an hour or two and then went back to the room to get ready for our character dinner at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Hotel. (refer to posting “The Sherriff, Pluto, Tom, & Kermit”)

Typhoon Lagoon:

Finally, on our last full day, I got what I was looking for in a vacation. A beach/pool type atmosphere where I wear my swimsuit, no shoes, Jimmy Buffett is playing in the background and I’m sipping a frozen margarita, my kids no where to be found. I was thinking to myself, “Why didn’t we come here the first day?” Because then my kids would have wanted to come here every day after even in freezing cold temperatures.

The size of the place is unbelievable. This puts all other water parks to shame. The slides, the lazy river, the beaches, the tsunami size wave pool, the snack bars, the palm trees, the . . . .

And it’s only open while the sun is up so there’s no getting sucked into staying til way later than you thought you would and all of a sudden it’s 11:00 p.m. While we were there, it closed at 5:00, a nice civilized time to go back to the room and get ready for dinner. Just as you would do if you were on a normal vacation that consisted of sleeping in, getting dressed for the pool and beach, going to the pool for a little while, going to the beach for a little while, grabbing some lunch, maybe a cocktail, going back to the beach, then back to the pool, and then back to the room to get dressed for dinner. Seven days of that and I’m a happy camper.

Think you have enough time in one day for one park, hear me now and hear me later (yes, hear me now and then when you’re there, you’ll hear me later) YOU DO NOT! Unless you get up earlier than I did, stay later than I did, or have more energy than I or my family did. This is probably why a lot of families reserve a day or more to spend by the pool . . . if it’s warm enough. You need days to re-energize and recuperate. To go, go, go every day in a row can take a lot out of you, but if you want to get as much of it in as you can, it seems that that is what you have to do. Unless you plan to visit more than once every . . . lifetime.