After all the hours I spent planning out the “perfect” dining plan for my family in the form of ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations), one would think I wouldn’t allow for a change of plans. Not so, not so at all.
On our very first night, Monday, we made changes. We skipped the Whispering Canyon Cafe and opted for counter service at Cosmic Rays so that we could casually enjoy the beautiful weather, lack of lines, excitement of being there, and the fireworks at 8 pm at the Magic Kingdom. (when at Disney, you don’t have to cancel your ADRs unless they verbally told you that you need to call to cancel in advance. Make a note of which are included in this.) Earlier that day, we lunched at The Bakery at the Boardwalk, which was delicious–and way more to eat than a normal counter-service meal at home.
Tuesday, we kept our ADR at ‘Ohana for a character breakfast with Stitch, Lilo, Mickey, and Pluto. This meal certainly lived up to the hype. Our reservation was at 7:50, and I highly recommend this time. Around 8 am, a line formed, and by 9 am, when we were leaving, there was a wait, even for those with a reservation. The 7:50 crowd was quiet and allowed a lot of time for the characters to visit with us. Breakfast is interactive with a family photo (which we declined, we didn’t want to pay extra when the same pic was taken on our camera) and a line dance around the restaurant with the characters. The food was excellent! It was typical Disney Breakfast faire, but there was no buffet (this is key with a young family of 3 and only 2 adults). Instead, the server brings an all-you-care-to-eat plate overflowing with fruits, eggs, potatoes, bacon, Mickey Waffles*, and more. The service, which was fabulous, was a warm welcome to our visit to Disney. ‘Ohana’s is a great way to start your Disney vacation. We skipped lunch that day (I mean, really, breakfast could have been 3 meals!) and opted for turkey sandwiches in our room for the kids in the early evening. That night we hired a babysitter** and headed over to Epcot for a little grown-up time.
Earlier that day, I asked the concierge to recommend a Sushi place for us. I later learned that I should have relied on my Passporter more because while the book highly recommends the restaurant in The Dolphin, we went over to Japan with a reservation for 7:15. The Huz and I are very specific when it comes to Sushi restaurants: if we don’t sit at the Sushi bar and interact with the Sushi chefs, we don’t usually enjoy our time. So, upon arriving and being told there is no longer an eat-at-the-Sushi-Bar option, we were already considering a different option for dinner. Tokyo Dining is a really large, cold room with a “stage” sushi bar. The service was impressive, including a manager coming to our table to discuss allergies. We ordered 2 rolls, which were pretty good, but nothing unbelievable-OMG-you-have-to-go-here and the menu was much smaller than our local place. At Tokyo Dining, every half hour or so, the dining experience is interrupted with a live video of the sushi chef making and instructing how to sushi. But the restaurant is so loud that even if you wanted to learn while watching a video, you could no doubt pull up on YouTube; you may be hard-pressed to hear it. We decided our dinner should become our appetizer and left to search for another international dining experience.
Which took us to Italy’s Tutto Italia at about 8:15. While Epcot was still busy, for a Tuesday night in January, we were told that they were no longer open for dinner. What a turn-off. So we turned around and walked, unsure where to go and certainly worried that everyone stopped serving dinner early. But, wait, this is Disney, right? And isn’t every night supposed to be a celebration? A party?
When we first entered Epcot that night, we hit the wine kiosk in France right away, so in hopes of finding it still open, we headed in the direction of France. And thank goodness we did! After grabbing a second glass (I so wish I remembered the name of the wine!), I calmly walked over to begged the hostess at Les Chefs Du France for a table. But of course, we are open! And we have a great table for you! So, this is really important for all of my Epcot-going readers. You want a table for two, right at the window at 8:30. It’s the most romantic night: picking at a French Cheese tray while sipping French wine in France with a perfect view of Illuminations fireworks. We closed the restaurant down and had phenomenal service all the way to the Merci, au revior from Jacques.
On Wednesday, we enjoyed good old cereal in the room and headed over to Hollywood Studios. We kept it easy with lunch at the ABC Commissary, which is just what I imagine dining at a busy NYC Commissary to be. You better get your order in quickly and correctly. The woman who took my order was fantastic if you were ready and set to order. And when the kitchen staff messes up your order, she’s listening in with half an ear to help it get fixed. The food was typical commissary /quick-service food. I think this was the meal when we realized our jeans would no longer fit us if we kept up with eating this way. Especially because after walking “home” from the Hollywood Studios, we stopped at the candy shop for ice cream (which are counted as “snacks” on the Disney Dining Plan–you even get a topping and a waffle cone!)
For dinner, we went back to Epcot, this time to China’s Nine Dragons, and were disappointed. The food was very American-Chinese and rather bland. The restaurant is new to the dining plan and has a way to go before perfecting it. We were very limited in our choosing and extremely confused regarding the meal plan they offered. The waitress was a bit rude about it, too. There was also a major lack of vegetables on the menu. The kids’ meals were all-American. (Whoever heard of meatballs on a Chinese menu??) Even if they don’t offer fried noodles in China while you wait for your meal (and I really don’t know if they do, maybe that’s just an American thing), something would have been nice while we waited. The restaurant was b-u-s-y, large and very pretty, and warm. On the positive side, we made it in and out and had plenty of time to explore, but we really did waste a Table Service meal at the Nine Dragons.
After Illuminations, we walked back to the hotel (such a great perk of staying at an Epcot resort), grabbed decaf coffees with our travel coffee mugs that allow you free refills at the resort all the time, and watched the end of an act on the boardwalk (loved the free entertainment every night!) The Huz went down to the bar that night after putting the kids to bed while I relaxed with my feet up.
*At Ohana, we were informed that Mickey Waffles are made with apple juice instead of sugar. They weren’t just delicious; they were [semi]healthy. I tried to make them today at home, but Bisquick doesn’t allow me to leave out the sugar.
**Our babysitter, Nancy H., was fantabulous. A full-time Nanny with grandkids, she brought a suitcase full of activities, took notes, and had the kids in bed on time. More about KidsNiteOut.com soon.