Thursday, 14 December 2017

Epcot Take 2

We returned to Epcot this morning. We would have made to rope drop if the monorail to Epcot had been working! However, we got there early enough to make it to Test Track with only a 30-minute wait which worked well for us.

We never thought we would be doing this….but we ended up lining up outside Starbucks prior to the 9am opening! We enjoyed the super large holiday flavoured latte to make the most of our snack credits. As an added bonus, we were right next to the character meet where Baymax was! My day was complete!!!

Yes we were in the line for Starbucks rather than in the line for a ride!

One mug to bind them all...
I love you Baymax!

That was the car that we would be driving on our roadtrip...the very large Chevy Suburban
We hit the big ticket Soarin’ before the family split up. My parents and I shopped and came across some very interesting and beautiful jewelry which were hand made from orange peel, coffee and seeds. The jewelry was also fragrant because of the materials used to make them. Not one to resist, we purchased some orange peel jewelry fashioned into delicate rosettes.

The gang reconvened for lunch at Les Chefs de France. This was a restaurant we had not been to before and it was surprisingly good! Waiters with French accents definitely helped with the overall experience. The steak frites was excellent. We were in agreement with the general reviews that it was an under rated hidden gem.

Shopping with the parentals!

Profiterole dessert at Le Chefs de France

Appetiser anyone?!?
The family headed back to the resort for a nap post lunch. The adults had a much anticipated dinner at California Grill. Uber eats was organised for the children after their resort pool swim. The Yoongs headed over from the Polynesian lugging our two gigantic boxes of shopping and the California Grill staff kindly stored them for us in the cloak room. We all had amazing appetisers and mains with Michaels’ steak being absolutely out of this work! The waiter had done such a good job selling the crème brulee. We were sorely disappointed when we discovered it was one of the worst crème brulee we’ve ever had. I suppose two out of three aint bad?!?



The balcony just outside of the restaurant gave us great views of the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom’s Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. It was a shame that it was bitterly cold! However, the fireworks never fail to impress.

The adult diners (minus the olds)

Fireworks over the Magic Kingdom!



Wednesday, 13 December 2017

No More Swimmin' Swimmin' Swimmin'

I must be getting old. By now, reserves were at an absolute low. The mind was willing but the body was struggling! However, we did make it to our early morning character breakfast at Tusker House at Animal Kingdom. It was perhaps a blessing in disguise that Typhoon Lagoon was closed today because of the cold weather. Even though missing out on our planned water park day did cause much disappointment for Malcolm as well as some complicated rearrangement of fastpasses and dining reservations, it did give us a chance to slow down and rest.

Tusker House didn't disappoint. It remained one of our favourite restaurants at Walt Disney World with tasty and varied breakfast offerings. Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy in their safari outfits were always good value as well! It was so nice to see the young and the old enjoying the character interaction.



The group split up after breakfast with half powering on in the park and the other heading back to the resort for some much needed R&R. This was Malcolm's chance to ride Flight of Passage and I believe he approved of the ride. We too headed home after this for a nap. Malcolm kindly ordered pizza delivery to the family back at our villa. Despite the frigidly unseasonable cold weather, some opted to swim...much to Jonah's delight it was a personalised Disney trivia at the pool. He was the only one in the pool and thus the only one answering the questions. It was enough to make his day!

My mother had been an absolute trooper so far and so I accompanied her to do some shopping on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom as a treat. The time went by quickly when one was perusing merchandise! It was soon time to head across the lake to Fort Wilderness for the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue. What would be better than ribs, fried chicken and good old musical comedic fun? We were treated with a singing ferry boat captain on our ride back to the Contemporary. And with that, we ended yet another magical day here at Walt Disney World.






Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Epcot

Team Bahari were 5 down today. Alysa was unfortunately unwell with fevers and so Brian and his family opted to stay home. Opa was struggling with no sleep and also stayed behind. The rest of the troops and the Yoongs made it to Epcot despite the inconvenience of downed monorails and onto to our first ride by 9am.
Epcot!

The highlight of the day was simply wandering around searching for and trying different snacks. As part of the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays there were seasonal treats from around the globe at special kiosks throughout World Showcase on top of the pre-existing offerings available all year. We also tried out 2 restaurants which we had not yet tried. Tokyo Dining won the honours for lunch and Spice Road Table was our dinner go to. We were always a bit wary of how well Disney could do Japanese and we were pleasantly surprised. The ingredients were fresh and well prepared as well as being very generous! 2 huge sushi rolls counted as a main (2 adults struggled to finish these!). This was certainly a restaurant that we would come back too. Spice Road Table was not too bad. Again the serving sizes were large although not as big as the other restaurants that we had been too. The food was tasty without being brilliant. We were seated outside and everything was covered with a fine layer of dirt. The plates all had to be changed and the table wiped over.

This was ONE sushi roll of 2 for a main!

Appetiser! Look at the size!

Tempura

Back to Italy!

How can such a simple ride have such long queues all the time!?!?

The man himself...

Why oh why Malcolm do you buy these things for the kids!?!

Exploring Morocco before dinner

The completion of dinner brought us close to 8pm and so we thought we might as well watch the candlelight processional. We were fortunate to get a good spot right behind the section for guests with disabilities. Despite having to stand, we had a great view of the stage and were able to watch the show without getting a package or lining up for a long time. The Christmas Story would always be special to us and Disney did an amazing job with phenomenal arrangements as usual. I loved watching the sign language narrator who was so expressive he looked like he was dancing.

With the end of the candlelight processional, we shuffled over to the left 10m and say down to wait for Illuminations! Again, we managed to be at the front with no one in front us. Our dear American travel agent had kindly sent us funky magic 3D glasses which made the viewing of any twinkling lights "special". These highly coveted glasses were a source of great entertainment for the children. The end of the fireworks had us finally trudging back towards the entrance. Extra magic hours saw Soarin with a wait time of only 10 minutes. No one could resist that and with one last detour, we rode on our last ride. It was a wonder that we managed to get ourselves home. Everyone was absolutely shattered. By the time we got back to our resort and settle, it was close to midnight and we had to be up bright and early tomorrow....shudder. Better sleep!

Waiting for Illuminations

Monday, 11 December 2017

Animal Kingdom

The whole family did well to make it to Animal Kingdom by 7:30am. It was extra magic hour at Animal Kingdom from 8am to 9am. As half expected, we were pleased to find that Disney had opened the gates early and resort guests were already streaming into the park. We strode as fast we could to Flight of Passage in Pandora, the newly opened Avatar themed land. By the time we reached  the standby line, the wait time was already 40 minutes. As this was likely the only other time we were going to be able to go on this ride other than using our fastpass, we took it. We were not prepared to wait 180min in line (this was what the wait time ballooned out to later in the day). As Alana was too short for the ride, Malcolm volunteered to take her for some quality Uncle and niece time.

The queue for Flight of Passage in front of us

The queue behind us!!!
The amazing Pandora

Umm...thanks Lara

There was only one word for Flight of Passage...awesome! It really was like Soarin' on steroids. It was only after coming out of the ride that we were able to truly appreciate how well themed Pandora was. The area was quite small though. We tried the night blossom drink from Pongu Pongu and gorged on the various meat bowls from Satuli Canteen. The servings were gigantic! The fresh greens that came with it though was refreshing and a very welcomed break from the usual sides of fries.

Night blossom drink from Pongu pongu

One of the massive bowls from Satuli Canteern. I didn't think anyone would appreciate me posting all 5 different variations of it...

Dessert!

We hit most of the big attractions during the rest of our time at the park before making our way to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for our dinner at Sanaa. We sure were glad that we were sharing credits as again the servings were extremely generous. How could 1 person eat 5 naans with 9 dipping sauces as an appetiser?!? Then eat a main as well as dessert?

Everest

Kilimanjaro Safari. Always good value!

They make it look warmer than it was

The gorgeous Christmas decorations at the Animal Kingdom Lodge

Dinner at Sanaa

The famous bread service with 9 dips

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Stay Awake!

Today's aim was simple. Stay awake.

With Bay Lake Tower a convenient stone throw's away from the Magic Kingdom, it was an easy 15 minute stroll. Security was about at the halfway point and the bag check was definitely more thorough than at our previous visit about 3 years ago. However as the numbers were significantly less compared to those at the security after the bus drop offs and for the monorails, it moved very quickly.

Yay! Our first stay as  a DVC member!

Our arrival an hour past park opening time meant walking straight into the park with no lines. Walking down Main Street with a view of the castles was just the best! The joy was immediate and immense. We were here! We met up with the Yoongs, a family travelling together with us for the Disney portion of our trip. There was no better way to get into the right frame of mind for a breakfast at Crystal Palace than to hop on to Winnie the Pooh! We were now ready for some high fat, high sugar breakfast with Pooh bear and Friends. It was a delight to see how excited my nieces, Alana and Alysa, were to meet Winnie, Eeyore and Piglet. Tigger unfortunately never made it to our table! We were then on our way with rides. Going on rides as an extended family was just so much fun. Everyone survived until 2pm when we made to call to return to the resort for a nap.

It was freezing. Unseasonably cold weather had us in our down jackets. 

Breakfast with Pooh Bear and friends

Uncle Michael being introduced to turkey leg
Even Oma Lulu went on Space Mountain!

The vote for dinner was a wander through Disney Springs. This was a trip of many firsts. The first trip for the Yoongs, my brother Brian and his family, the first time we've stayed at Bay Lake Tower, the first time we've trying the deluxe Disney dining plan and the first time touring the parks with an ECV! Time had come for the first unknown, how to catch a Disney bus with an ECV! The driver, thankfully, was most kind and helpful (we later discovered that not all were so nice...). The bus was lowered, ECV loaded and strapped and the passenger could choose to sit on the ECV itself. We were glad to see that more than 1 ECV could be accommodated on each bus. With so many ECVs, our concern had been that we had to wait for multiple buses.

Disney Springs was absolutely packed. It was so different to when we last visited. By the time we had ordered dinner and finished eating, everyone was too tired to shop...and thus ended our first Disney day. Tiring, and short but certainly not lacking in fun!

Having a drink at Top Of The World Bar

Cocktail for 2


Saturday, 9 December 2017

I Want To Be in America!

As I type, bear in mind that we have been up for more than 30 hours and have relived Dec 9th twice so please forgive any incoherence. The tank could not be any more depleted...

Our journey across the Pacific was not as seamless as it could have been but we arrived safely which was the main aim! American Airlines had much to do with the displeasure. Apart from breaking up the family with seating on the plane, the service on the plane was not only non-existent, it was down right rude! So much so that the couple seated in front of us were afraid to ask for drinks, and Malcolm got told a big eye roll and dramatic from the cabin attendant dropping the ice-cream! Geez Louise! I didn't think it was possible but American Airlines you have surpassed United as the worst airlines ever! LAX was surprisingly not as painful as expected. We struggled to stay awake for the next leg to Orlando and was glad to get on Disney's Magical Express on to Walt Disney World!

A minibus means the Baharis are going on holidays!

AA brand new planes lousy service

Finally in Orlando! Waiting for our Magical Express bus

Checking in at Bay Lake Tower

One of many refillable mugs we would get and the source of many many hot chocolates

We must test the scooter before letting Oma Lulu sits on it

By the time we arrived and completed check in at our base of Bay Lake Tower, it was well past 8pm. Dinner at the Contempo Cafe was passable fast food but nothing to write home about. It did the job of filling the tummy. After settling the children to bed, we had to purchase our Tables in Wonderland Cards as well as collect our pre-purchased clothing from the Yoongs at the Polynesian. The increased security was apparent with multiple security points now in place instead of the one right outside the Magic Kingdom.

The music, lights, decorations and people outside the Magic Kingdom kept us going with the taste of what was to come tomorrow...just. We stumbled home and straight into bed. Over and out. Until tomorrow!