Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Disney World Trip Report... 2 months Later. Part 2

Hey all, here is the second part (and hopefully last part) of my trip report from Walt Disney World.  I've got WDW music playing in the background, and ready to get this thing knocked out.  Thanks Magical Mouse Radio. Just a review of the last part, if you're too lazy to scroll down and look at the last instalment, the wife, mother-law and 3 year old son went to WDW for a week at the end of August 2011.  So far I have covered Saturday the 20th to Wednesday the 24th.  That is were the bulk of our fun and excitement lay.  This section is going to cover one new park, a couple of new restaurants and a conclusion.  Again, If I get some of the names or terms of the attractions, restaurants or anything else wrong at WDW, I apologize.  If you get butt hurt over something like that, please continue on to another blog.

Thursday was our Hollywood Studios day, and the only day we did not go back to the hotel for a rest.  The day began at the Contemporary resort, with the family enjoying a fine meal at Chef Mickey's.  This was mainly a trip for the boy.  I am not a big breakfast fan and I loathe breakfast buffets.  But the food was not too horrible.  The characters were great, we saw the Big 5 within 30 minutes.  I was surprised it didn't take that long, because it was crowded and loud.  After the meal, we headed for the bus stop and caught one to Disney's Hollywood studios.  At the time of our trip (and it probably still is) the biggest attraction at HS is Toy Story Midway Mania.  We arrived at the park about 35 to 45 minutes after opening and we booked it to Toy Story to get fastpasses.  When we got there the fastpass return time was already at 7 pm.  We had a dilemma, if we get the fastpass, we could not get another one until 7, and I really wanted to ride the new Star Tours, and did not know how long the wait for that would be.  We sucked it up and got the fastpasses for Toy Story.  I don't remember the exact order of how we did it but we saw Muppet Vision 3D, rode Star Tours 2.0 with only a 20 minute wait, Lights, Motor, Action and the Disney Junior show.  Muppets was good, Star Tours 2.0 was Spect-freakin-tacular.  I don't remember too many details of the original, but the new one was clean up to date and not as jerky.  The 3D was awesome.  It rained during Lights, Motor, Action.  I still don't believe certain people don't like that show. The Disney Junior show was actually pretty entertaining.  Not the show itself, but the 4 and under crowd going nuts when the characters were on the stage.  We had lunch at Hollywood and Vine, which is another buffet and a character restaurant.  This one had the characters of Disney Junior.  Tyler loved the crap out of this one, and the food was excellent.  I guess all the good food put Tyler out a little after lunch.  This is the only place he would sleep in the stroller.  We hit the shops at that time and watched the parade, eh.  Finally it was time for Toy Story Mania.  Even with fastpass it was still a 20 minute wait, but better than the 2 hour standby.  The ride was fun, Tyler really enjoyed the arcade game atmosphere and interacting with the ride.  It was him and I in one car with mom and grandma behind us.  Mom and grandma won.  But I blame that on me helping Tyler too much and not focusing on the task at hand.  Fantasmic was the next on the list, but decided to forgo it because Tyler probably would not have liked it.  We went back to the Poly, ate at Captain Cooks and watched Wishes once again from the beach (never gets old).

Friday and Saturday were pot luck days.  We had seen all of the parks and wanted to relax a little.  We spent most of our time at the resort, Downtown Disney and spent a few hours in the Magic Kingdom.  Downtown Disney is not my favorite "attraction," but it is nice to go to an area in Disney and not need a plan, just walk around and look.  We vistied the World of Disney several times, the Christmas store, and I visited the bar outside of Raglan Road several times.  That is where I discovered Arrogant Bastard Ale.  Thank you Irish speaking bartender for the recommendation.  Since our first trip turned into a Fantasy Land and Electro Magic Parade day, it was decided to head back int he mornings of Friday and Saturday and try to fit in some attractions.  Friday was Tommorow Land morning.  Space mountain, the Speedway and people mover were all hit.  But Tyler's favorite was the Teacups.  I know, it's in Fantasyland, but you can see it from Tomorrowland and we didn't ride it the first day.  Well this turned in to Tyler's favorite ride.  We rode it 3 more times and Tyler could have gone more.  Cindy and I could not.  After the teacups, we went back to the hotel for a little and then headed to Epcot for dinner at Le Cellier in the Canada pavillion.  Holy bat crap, that is probably one of the best steaks that I have ever tasted.  I got the strip and the wife got the fillet mignon.  Both were pretty freakin tasty.  Now I know why it cost 2 dining credits.  We finished dinner and did some shopping, and went back to the hotel.

On Saturday we headed back to the Magic Kingdom and hit Frontier and Adventure Lands.  Rode Pirates, Jungle Cruise (classic), Thunder Mountain and the train.  Had lunch and Pecos Bills with the massive fixins' bar, really good, and got my Dole Whip float from Aloha Isle.  That was good.  But if you don't already know, Frontier Land has the greatest restaurant in all of WDW property.  The turkey leg cart.  This thing contains the best smoked turkey leg in the history of mankind.  The 18 star chef at a Swan and Dolphin Restaurant couldn't get this right.  I have been to Disney World approximately 20 times in my life, and every time I get a Turkey leg from that cart in Frontier Land.  Yea It's that good.  After that morning we went back to the hotel and began to pack for the trip home.  It was a sad time, I really didn't want to go back.  But it was time, and I couldn't do anything about it.  Nothing spectacular happened Saturday night.  No fancy restaurant, no parks.  Just some sushi from Kona and some liquor and beer from the concierge lounge at the Poly.  

The trip home was uneventful.  We were all tired and kinda ready to get back into the grove of life.  

What I missed...
What I mean, is what I wanted to do, but was unable for some reason or another.  Soarin', Test Track, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones, Grey Goose Slushy, more time in the World Showcase, Innoventions, Sunshine Seasons, Flights of Wonder, Finding Nemo show, the Scorpion from the Tequila bar in Mexico (I tried and tried).  And that should do it.  As you can tell, most of it is from Epcot.  That place is so darn big and has so much.  That might need to be a 2 dayer next time.

We stayed for close to 10 days, including the first day with no park passes.  And as you can see from my list above, did not have enough time to do everything.  That is one thing someone is going to have to face when taking a trip to WDW.  Don't get your hopes up.

Not everybody is going to agree, and not everyone is going to like each other every single minute of the trip. Enough said on that.

When you have a small child.  It is their vacation.  You do what they want and can do.  Thankfully Tyler's grandmother was with.  He could wait with her while Cindy and I went on an attraction.  That was rare, as in, we only did it a couple of times.  Again, it is their trip, your stuff is thrown in if it can fit.

Go in with a touring plan.  That was our big mistake.  Yea, we decided what parks and restaurants we were going to hit on which day.  But winged it while in the parks.  A lot of time was spent asking "now what" and wasting a lot of time.

Take breaks in the summer heat, and figure out a way to bring a cooler with water into the parks.  They will save you.

Tyler's favorite ride:  The Monorail.  I am so proud.

Thank you for reading my trip report.  Hopefully on the next trip I'll have a laptop and write about it as it is going on.  I really don't know what was going on with the template today, didn't seem to work.  So if something looks weird or messed up, it's blogger's fault.  Hope you enjoyed it and stayed somewhat entertained.  I might come back with a couple of posts dedicated to restaurants and planning for the next trip.  Again, thank you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Disney World Trip Report... 2 months Later. Part 1

What is up folks.  I decided that it was time to write about my recent trip to Walt Disney world with my family. This trip took place on August 21st through the 27th 2011. I know, 2 months ago, but I have been slack.  I don't know how long these things are supposed to be, but I will try to make it as short as possible... no promises.  I also apologize if I get the name of certain attractions wrong, use the wrong terminology, or misspell the names of certain things. I am a MILD Disney Geek, not an expert.  Some of the pictures seen here are not the one's that I or my family took. So thanks to everyone for sharing their photographs for all to enjoy.

Not only did we deal with the typical August in Florida daily rain storms, we had to vacation during the typical Florida rain storm, with Hurricane Irene rain added in.

The wife, mother-in-law and I have been planning this trip for close to 18 months.  We would be staying in the Polynesian Resort and with the help of our travel agent, the concierge level.  We also were taking part in the Dining Plan. Our advance dining reservations (ADR) were booked, and I had been reading every book I could get my hands on and listening to every podcast about WDW.  We had been in the past, sans-child, but I didn't take planning a serious as I did for this trip.  I found out the best restaurants, what to get at the restaurants, the best places to watch parades and the best time to get in line for rides.  Now all we had to do was survive.  We didn't have a set touring plan, just knew what parks we were going to be in and what we wanted to see.

The car was packed the night before with enough snacks and "just in cases" to fill the entire rear of a Dodge Durango.  We left Chapin, SC at 5:30 am on Saturday August 20th.  I wanted to leave earlier, but I was out voted.  The kid was strapped in, his DVD player was on, everybody else was asleep and we were off.  Our big stop is always Brunswick, GA.  It is the "half-way" point.  That is usually breakfast at the Cracker Barrel and a quick stretch.  After that break we headed on and stopped only a couple of more time before we hit WDW.

We arrived at 3:30ish pm. Our first night was spent at the POP Century Resort, and we had no park tickets so we headed to Downtown Disney.  And in true Orlando in August fashion, it was raining.  We took in a couple shops and headed to Raglan Road.  I had made ADR's for the Irish Restaurant, but was not set on it if we didn't go.  We arrived and saw the menu.  I'm an adventurous eater, and everybody else was not.  We couldn't recognize most of the items, and decided to abandon Raglan Road.  We then settled on T-Rex cafe.  I didn't hate it, but for the expensive price, I would hope for better food.  I ordered the chicken and ribs platter, and tasted like it could have came from a fast food BBQ joint.  Not impressed.  After dinner we headed back to POP and turned in for the night.

Polynesian Lobby
We all slept pretty bad that night.  The first night at any new place is always hard for me to sleep, no matter if it a Disney Value resort or the Waldorf.  However, it was a new day and we had to check into the Polynesian.  We arrived, got our bags unloaded and checked in.  Our room was not ready, but they would text when it was.  Breakfast of pastries and cereal was enjoyed at the concierge lounge, and we took a ride on the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.  The Magic Kingdom day was turned into Fantasy land Day.  We rode most of the rides, the favorite was Dumbo.  The boy enjoyed all the rides, except for Snow White.  He came out crying and a cast member at the gift shop gave him a sticker and all was well.  I think that was her job, give stickers to crying kids as they came out of Snow White.  I enjoyed Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh.  I saw Philharmagic for the first time.  I was a little weary because all the fastpasses we received came with a bonus fastpass to Philharmagic, and thought they were just trying to fill seats.  And of course, we had to ride It's a Small World.  I hate this ride, but it's a classic and Tyler enjoyed it.  Plus, how can you say no to a 5 minute stand by line. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Lunch was eaten at Pinocchio's Village Haus.  Not bad. Then I received the text that our room was ready for the Poly.  We headed back and took it easy until it was time for our 5:30 ADR at the Liberty Tree Tavern.  The kid enjoyed a nap, mom and grandma took a dip in the pool, and I enjoyed the free beer served in the concierge lounge.
It's a Small Wold

The Liberty Tree Tavern is awesome.  Dinner is served family style and the food is great.  A huge plate of turkey, pork and beef is brought out.  Along with bowls of mashed potatoes and green beans.  If you run out, just ask for more.  I ate a little too much and was not feeling well, but it was time to wait for the Electro Magic Parade.  The parade started at 9pm, and we were sitting on the bridge that separates Main Street from the castle at a little before 7.  I had ate too much for dinner, and was not feeling too hot.  The wait was long and boring, but I'm glad that we didn't decide to go walk around.  The parade took place, nothing too exciting, but Tyler really enjoyed it.  We got back to the Poly and watched the fireworks from the beach.  It was awesome because the music from the show was piped into the speaker system for the hotel.  

Monday was Epcot day.  This was also the day that I was attempting around the world.  Which is a drinking game to try to get a drink from every country in the World Showcase.  I'll write about that on a separate post.  The first thing we had to do was get fastpasses for Soarin'.  Which is the probably the most popular ride at Epcot, if not in WDW.  The plan, I would run to get the fastpasses and then catch up with everybody else.  The gates dropped and about 90% of the crowd headed to Soarin.  I headed to the fastpass, only to discover that it was broken.  The cast members were telling everybody that it was down and did not know when it would be up again.  I waited for about 10 minutes and they were still broken.  The stand bye line was already at an hour.  So I counted it as a loss and reunited with the family.  We took advantage of the crowds being at Soarin and took Tyler to the character stop.  It was great because Tyler could see the popular characters (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Pluto) in one spot, and not have to chase them around the parks. When then rode the Living Seas with Nemo.  My first time riding it, and probably my last.  I like the idea, but I was not feeling it.  Turtle Talk with Crush was next, and that was great.  I know it was for the children, but I found it very entertaining and funny.  After the talk, the world showcase opened up and we started from Mexico and started to work our way around clockwise.  We stopped in Mexico for a little, walked past Norway and straight to the American Pavilion for lunch.  It was ok, typical hot dog and hamburgers found throughout the resort.  It was time to head back for our afternoon naps, drinks and dip in the pool.

We returned to Epcot for our 6:00 ADR at the Coral Reef restaurant.  Now, I have heard people bash this place and say that the food was horrible.  I thought it was pretty darn tasty.  I had the Sea Bass and thought it was awesome.  The only complaint is the portion were a little small for the price.  But we had the dining plan, so no worries.  After dinner we headed to Canada and worked our way around the showcase counter-clockwise.  We didn't do too much touring in the showcase during the trip.  We stopped in some shops walked around each country, but we didn't ride anything or stay in one place too long.  The Illuminations light show started at 9pm.  By that time, Tyler was about to pass out and I was feeling good after around the world.  The show started and immediately Tyler was scared of the noise.  We headed out of there and was able to get out of the park before the show was over.  Therefore, no crowds and no pain trying to get out of there.  Got back to the room, watched the fireworks and turned in.

Tuesday was water park day and more Epcot.  First off, I hate water parks.  But this is what the rest of the family wanted to do, and I went with no protest.  The water park of choice was Blizzard Beach.  I rode the team boat thing with the family and went down the dark tube water slide.  The rest of the time was spent at the children's area as Tyler played.  I grabbed me a margarita and sat as Tyler went down the slide over and over again.  I enjoyed watching him having fun. We must have been in that area for about 2 hours.  When it was time to leave, Tyler was not ready.  We got back to the room at about noon, and planning to head back to Epcot about 4ish then head to dinner in Mexico.  It was hot, we were tired and it started to rain.  So we stayed at the hotel until it was close to time to eat.

Dinner for the night was La San Angel Inn in the Mexico pavilion of the world showcase. I forgot what I had ordered, but I do remember that it was good. I was little disappointed that the food did look and taste like the food at my local Mexican joint, but it was good none the less.  After dinner we headed back to the hotel and called an end to the day.

Wednesday was Animal Kingdom day.  This is the only park that had morning extra magic hours that we took part in.  In fact, this is the only park took advantage of any extra magic hours.  We wanted to hit this early so we could ride the Kilimanjaro Safari first while the animals were waking up and moving.  When the rope dropped we headed to the safari and stood in line.  The ride was great, one of my top 5 attractions in the world.  Most of the animals were out and our "guide" was not too great.  After the safari I headed to get fastpass to Everest for the wife and I, while the family went toward Dino land.  My mother in law and I rode Dinosaur while Cindy and Tyler hung out in Hester and Chester's of Chester's and Hester's play area.  After Dinosaur we headed to Everest and the wife and I rode it.  It was fun, and of course, the Yeti was still broken.  When the ride was over, I ran and got fastpasses for the safari, and we saw the Festival of the Lion King.  That was awesome.  I'm not a huge fan of shows, save the comedic or street actors, but this was great.  You can't argue with a show that combines Cirque Du Soliel acrobatics and Lion King Music (The greatest Disney movie ever).  When that was over it was time to ride the safari again.  And by the time the temperature was pretty high and Tyler was starting to feel the heat.  We rod the ride, but Tyler was not into it.  He looked like death and about puked a couple of times.  After the ride we booked it to a family center so Tyler could cool down.  The child center was a glorified changing area, but the A/C was on full blast, and they had Cinderella playing on a TV in a playroom. We chilled out little (literally) and headed back out.  I think we all needed that break.  We ate lunch at Flame Tree BBQ.  That was awesome, large portions and a decent price for a quick service restaurant.  After dinner we headed back to the hotel.  We had no ADR for dinner, so we ate at Captain Cooks at the Poly and stayed at the resort.

This concludes Part 1 of the trip report. I apologize for the length and thank you for sticking with it.  The next part will not be as full with details (hopefully).  The rest of trip was more returning parks to hit stuff we missed.  I will also try to include what I learned and missed, but depending on how long the next post is, it might be in a separate post.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Many Adventures of Run Fatboy Run

It has been 2 months since my last post, not counting my recent rant and rave.  So instead of making a super long post about what has happened, I'm going to do a hopefully short synopsis of the past 2 months and then elaborate later.  The events will not be in order.

On October 7th 2011, my wife and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary.  It has been fun and a struggle at some times.  But what relationships isn't.  Since we got married, we have moved into a great home and raised a great son.  I hope we have many more years together.  That's about all I will say on that, I don't like to make big deals about this sort of thing in public or in public domains.

At the end of August, the wife, son and mother-in-law spent a week at the Walt Disney World resort.  It was fun, hot and rained everyday.  But we had a blast and can't wait to go back, which will hopefully be for Marathon weekend 2012.  I am going to work on a trip report and go into more details about where we stayed, ate and general information about the trip.

My running has been very inconsistent since the beginning of September.  One week I would run 15 to 20 miles, and the next week I would barely break 5, if I ran at all.  As you saw from my rant and rave about my running on the last post, I had to make a change.  I am about a month away from my first half marathon, and I know that I am not where I need to be.  With that, I have changed my running plan.  I did not abandon my beloved Galloway Run-Walk method, but I did adjust it.  I Incorporated the Hal Higdon training plan into the Galloway method.  That is, I am running the prescribed mileage needed by Higdon, but still using my run-walk method and doing the Galloway prescribed long run distances.  I don't know if it is going to help that much, but I do feel a whole lot better getting in the extra mileage.

I nearly gained all of my weight back that I had lost while on weight watchers.  Thanks to eating and drinking to my heart and stomach content at Disney, and not hitting the diet when I got back; I gained almost all of the 20 pounds back that I had lost.  I am now back on weight watchers with a vengeance.  I have lost about 10 pounds since going back on, and I don't plan to stop until I hit my goal of 200 pounds.

My 3 year old son had his tonsils removed recently.  I know it is young, but it needed to get done.  He has had bouts of tonsillitis ever since he was born.  Sometimes as bad as 2 times a month, which he had to miss school and mom and dad had to miss work to take care of him.  He was taken to Palmetto Health Hospital's Children's Hospital in Columbia, SC for the procedure.  The entire staff was excellent, professional and made sure the time spent there was as comfortable as possible.  For Tyler and mom and dad.  He was taken back at about 7:30 am and we could not go with him.  He was put under at 7:50am and the surgery was done by 8:15 am.  Cindy and I went into the recovery room with him for about 2 hours.  He was eating, drinking and jumping around the room.  We were discharged and sent home.  When this post is published, I will  be a stay at home dad for about a week. It has been a struggle, the anaesthesia wore off and he is in pain.  Giving him medication is a struggle and getting him to eat and drink is damn near impossible.  However, today he went off of his prescription as in on over the counter meds.  He is now eating and drinking consistently.  My training and diet will suffer a little while staying home until he gets better.  It is a small sacrifice to ensure that he is healthy and ready to get back to the real world.

Now the fun part... The BEERS!!!

This time of year is my favorite in beer world.  It is when Sam Adams releases its Octoberfest beer.  It is my favorite non Boston Lager Sam Adams, and possibly my favorite non Boston Lager beer. It has the feel of a light beer, but the taste of a full bodied goodness.  I have tried other Octoberfest beers, and the none of them compare to Sam Adams'.  I am just sad that it is only out for 2 months out of the year.

While at Disney I tried 4 beers that I have never had. Arrogant Bastard Ale, Kona Longboard, Kona Fire Rock and Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA.  The Arrogant Bastard Ale was tasty and smooth, almost like a pale ale and is strong.  I suggest taking this one slow cause it will sneak up on you, especially if it is the first beer of a night of drinking.  The Kona Longboard is Kona's Lager.  It tasted like a Budweiser but not as heavy.  The Firerock is Kona's IPA, it tasted like most IPA's but not as sweet. I liked the Kona brand, but it seemed very generic. I tried Dog Fish Head for the first time at Disney since that brand is not available anywhere near where I live.  I had high hopes since it had been on TV and I have heard nothing but good about it.  I tried it, liked it but was not blown away.  I guess all the hype ruined it for me, but I will buy it if it is finally sold in my town.  The last new beer I have tried is Long Hammer IPA by Red Hook.  It was on sale at Bi-Lo, and since I like trying new beers, and it was cheap, I figured why the hell not?  It is sweet, smooth and bold.  Almost as good as a Sierra Nevada, but not quite.  I won't wait till it goes on sale again to buy it.

Thank you all for reading and patience.  I apologize if this is too long.  Enjoy my blog and Cheers!