Dinner Double Date: Fancy Edition

DCA

We’ve told you how to have a cheap date on a blackout day. We’ve given you tips about some of the best bargains in the park (pretzel!), but what if you want to throw financial caution to the wind? What if you feel like celebrating? What if you want to have a fancy date? Don’t worry – WOTB and Disney have you covered.

Our most recent Disney trip was a totally indulgent splurge, and it was SO fun. We started,at about 6PM, by meeting up with our newlywed friends, The Buntings. (Something to celebrate? Check!) Steve had made dinner reservations for 7:45, so we had some time to play. The four of us agreed to head for the Jungle Cruise. It was an especially warm April evening. The line was long enough to give us time to catch up and hear honeymoon stories, but not so long as to be annoying. After our little trip along the Nile, we went back to DCA.

We still had a bit of time, so we stopped by Ghiradelli. I was bummed when they took out the Mission tortilla ride (er, factory…), but a free square of chocolate is a nice consolation. At about 7:20, we made our way to dinner at the newest, fanciest place on Buena Vista St. – Carthay Circle. It’s gorgeous! I’ll let Steve give you a nice description of the decor in a future Buena Vista St. review. I’ll stick to what I know – food!

The restaurant has a “deal” wherein you get priority seating for World of Color if you order at least two items ( entree plus appetizer or dessert) per person. The more mathematically inclined members of our party figured out we could meet that requirement by sharing two appetizers and two desserts – super. The waitress was really friendly and attentive. I wondered what it’s like to serve high-end food in a classy environment to people in flip flops and cargo shorts – odd. Anyway, the appetizers were good but nothing I was really excited about. I did enjoy the complimentary warm bread. I wasn’t sure there’d be anything without a price at this meal.

When it came time to choose our entrees, I struggled. As much as I’d like to be the kind of person who branches out and tries exotic things, I’m not that girl. I usually study the menu until I find some version of chicken and rice, but there wasn’t really anything that fit that description. Plus, the prices were higher than I’m used to. A lot higher. I-feel-a-little-woozy higher. Everyone else in our party didn’t flinch, though, so I decided to get over it and just enjoy. I even branched out! I had the cavatelli pasta with lamb ragu. It was rich and meaty and delicious. I chose well. Steve had the Braised Pork Pot Roast and from the his silence I can only assume he loved it.

At dessert, Jess and Jeremy chose something fruity. I’m sure it was lovely, but I usually don’t think it counts as dessert unless there’s chocolate involved. Thus, I zeroed in on the Rocky Road Brownie Sundae. Brownie, caramel, marshmallow ice cream, macadamia brittle – of course it was delicious.

With full bellies, we rolled ourselves out of the restaurant and into the Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe for some Starbucks drinks. Warm beverages in hand, we took our places in the reserved viewing section for World of Color. As always, the combination of lights, water, and music was more beautiful and thrilling than can really be explained. It was the perfect end to a truly spectacular fancy Disney date.

Zip-a-Dee River Run!

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Before Wendy shares our review of the Critter Country thrill ride, I wanted to share some history of this anchor attraction. To start, it was created with the concept name Zip-a-Dee River Run. I kind of like the old name but is doesn’t have the same scare appeal as Splash Mountain.

As a kid, I remember seeing my Dad in his southern inspired country costume. As a supervisor of new attractions, this was his current project. I loved the details even as a child, and my Dad always had them to share. Below you will find a few fun facts that you could only know if your Dad helped build Splash Mountain… Or you had access to Wikipedia.

Splash opened in 1989 and was the most expensive ride to date. At the end of the project the final cost came in at roughly $75 million. (That is a lot of soft Mickey Pretzels) Two years later Disney opened Splash at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Florida and Tokyo Disney. All three rides are almost identical with a few exceptions that make the SoCal version the best. The drop at Disneyland’s version is 53 ft long, a full foot longer then the other two. It also has five drops, compared to the four drops of the others. The time length of the versions in Florida and Tokyo are a minute longer, but at a 9:18 duration ours is the fastest! Fastest=Funnest=Winner of the Best: Log Ride edition.

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Ride Review // Wendy

It’s a well-known fact that I DO NOT like to be cold and wet. It might surprise you, then, to know that I am a big fan of Splash Mountain. What is it about this ride that makes me willing to risk the clammy chill of damp socks and jeans?
1) A quality queue – The line isn’t as immersive as Indiana Jones or Haunted Mansion, but I still think it’s got charms. Watching other people hurtle down the waterfall is fun and helps to keep the excitement level high. Throughout the line, bits of rhyme from the Song of the South story are written on the walls. I like to read those, and they help set the tone.

2) Nostalgia – This ride features old characters in an old story, and it’s a fun blast from (to?) the past. Plus, I enjoy my personal nostalgia, remembering the first time I rode this with my dad. A wise, experienced rider (who was about 8 years old) let us know that the first drop, which terrified me, was just the “little” one.

3) The drops – If you’ve been reading faithfully, you know that I adore that stomach-plummeting, breathtaking, dropping sensation. This ride offers several fun drops,culminating in one mega-drop. Fantastic! (BTW, if you haven’t been reading faithfully, what’s the deal? Don’t make me sad. Catch up.)

4) The photo – Ride photos are hilarious and awesome. Plus, thanks to cell phone cameras, it’s super easy to snap a picture of the screen and have a cool souvenir. For free! Rad.

*I still try to ride this on hot days or when I’m about to leave the park. After all, damp jeans are the poo.

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Blackout day? Blackout Date!

We are lucky enough to be Annual Pass holders. However, our So Cal passes are blacked out for Saturdays, a major chunk of summer, and peak holiday times. This could seem like a bummer, but we decided to see it as an opportunity to get creative – making the most of our passes and keeping up with the demand for blog posts. Hence, the Blackout Date was born.

Spring Break has blessed us with some free time this week. Our passes aren’t valid to get into the parks, but our parking pass still lets us skip the $15 fee for the structure. We decided we’d venture to Downtown Disney for a dinner date. There are lots of restaurant choices in Downtown, but only one inspired us to make the trek to Anaheim – the recently opened Earl of Sandwich. If you don’t already know this, you’ll soon realize that Steve loves sandwiches. LOVES. I don’t share that level of sandwich passion, but I DO love delicious foods, and I love Steve. Thus, I’m happy to accompany him on his quests for sandwich deliciousness.

Parking was a snap. We hopped onto a tram, enjoying the only ride we’d get outside the park. The tram let us off near the World of Disney store, and we strolled from there (walking away from the park entrances) towards our dinner destination. We always like people-watching. If you’re a music-lover…this is probably not the place for you. However, if you love Springsteen covers, electronic world music, or smooth sax – you’ll be thrilled! We wound our way past the eager performers, airbrush tattoo stands, caramel corn vendors, etc. and found Earl of Sandwich right next to the movie theater. Our timing was great. We walked right in, but a long line quickly formed behind us. We placed our orders and chose seats on the patio, which has effective overhead heaters.

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I chose a Ham & Swiss on wheat. It was lovely. All the sandwiches are served warm. The cheese was nicely melted, bringing out its sweet nuttiness. It paired wonderfully with the salty-sweet ham and spicy mustard. The bread was crusty and substantial in a nice way, not the kind of crusty that scrapes up your mouth. I really enjoyed my sandwich, and I’d gladly eat it again.

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Steve got the Holiday Turkey – turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and gravy. Yelpers suggest that this is usually a seasonal item, but this location will have it year-round. Steve loved it. He tried to pace himself so he could savor the tastiness. The combination of flavors and textures made for a unique and scrumptious sandwich experience. He also had a bag of Salt and Vinegar kettle chips, which rounded out the meal nicely.

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Pleasantly stuffed with sandwiches, we strolled back to the tram. Driving all the way to Anaheim just to eat sandwiches might seem silly to you. If it does, you don't know us very well. We had a super time on our Blackout Date, and we look forward to visiting Earl's again. Maybe we'll even go inside the parks. -W

Storybook Surprise

Before we pick up where Wendy left off, I have to start with some back story. I had the good fortune of spending a lot of my childhood at Disneyland. Both of my parents worked for Disney for 25 years, so going to Disneyland was like going to to the movies. I used to spend the day exploring and then spend hours at home asking my Dad, ” How does that work?” and, ” Has this ever happened?” To this day I still ask my Dad to share stories about his time at Disney and any backstage secrets. It never gets old.

I started to think I knew them all, that Disneyland had no mystery left for me, but after this last trip I know there is no end to the magic.

//Back to Storybook//

As we boarded the rocking canal boat, the ride operators seems to be rushing. I couldn’t figure out what was happening but I over heard, “I need to get one more boat out before the show starts”. We headed into Monstro the Whale’s open mouth, and a couple of bad whale jokes later the fireworks began. It was at this point that the driver said we were about to have the best seats in the house.

We pulled around the corner into a clearing and stopped. There we were behind the castle and in front of the backlot. WE WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ACTION! Fireworks were going off in every direction! The sound was deafening and struck your chest every time a firework went off.

The fireworks show was incredible! It was by far the most surreal moment I have ever had at Disneyland. The whole boat was in awe like little kids. You should definitely add this to your list of things to do at Disneyland. It might take some strategic timing, but it’s worth it!

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Remember when you were a kid at Disneyland?

The days are getting longer, the weather is beginning to warm up, and spring break is just around the corner. All this adds up to one thing… our passes are about to be blacked out! This last Friday was our last open day for a while so we knew it was time for a Disney Date Night! We were not the only ones who had the idea, and after waiting in line to park and then again at the main gate we made it! It was dusk and Main Street USA was glowing. Our plan was to grab a bite to eat and then play it by ear.

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As we ate our dinner, the location of which we are keeping a secret for a future review, we both agreed we would choose rides that reminded us of being a kid. We were in Fantasyland and it seemed appropriate.

I made my selection first. As a kid I always loved trains, I wore a conductors hat from age 3 to 6.(I’ve been told I was adorable.) My favorite Disney movie growing up was Dumbo, I always had big ears and could relate. So of course with a history like that you know I picked the Casey Jr. Circus Train! (The wait for Dumbo was too long. – W)

I remember waiting in line as a kid and hoping with all my might that we would be able to sit in the wild animal cages instead of the dumb regular seats. This time however we chose the caboose… it had the best legroom. ;) The ride was less exciting than I remembered but it was still fun chugging along. “I think I can, I think I can, I thought I could, I thought I could,” played over the speakers and I was instantly 5 again. Then I hit my head getting out and was back to reality. The cars were not intended for a person that is 6’5″. I’ll have to remember this when I ride with our future children. Toot Toot! -S

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We thought we’d visit Alice in Wonderland for our second ride, but they were closing down for the fireworks. Instead we headed over to It’s a Small World, arguably the most classic of the kid-friendly rides. I was excited for Steve to get to experience the new additions to the ride, since he hadn’t been on in a bazillion years. Did you know there are now Disney characters featured? If you didn’t, now you do. Some people quibbled about the changes when they happened a few years ago, but I think those whiney-whinertons are wrong. The characters are in appropriate parts of the “World,” and they are adorable. It’s fun to spot them as you float along. We enjoyed our little cruise. It was getting sort of late, and we both knew we wouldn’t get to sleep in very much the next day since we had an 8-mile run planned. We decided we’d rally for one last ride and made our way to Storybook Land.

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Storybook Land was one of my dad’s favorite rides, so it’s got a special place in my heart. I’m not quite sure why he liked it. Maybe he liked the quaint miniatures and classic movie references. Maybe it was just easier to fold his 6’5″ frame into the boat than other rides. (Steve, also confirms that the leg room is sufficient.) Anyway, we thought this would be a good pick for our nostalgic tour. The queue experience in Fantasy Land is definitely a candidate for some modernization. Most of those rides still involve meandering through a tightly packed maze of chain links and wooden posts, trying not to trample or be trampled as you go. Still, it’s not too bad when the wait is 30 minutes or less. We survived the wait and boarded a little boat right around 9:30 PM. Look for a mid-week post to read about that! – W

In the meantime, what’s your favorite way to feel like a kid again at Disneyland? Tell us in the comments!

🎼 It’s a “Jolly Holiday” with sandwich…

One of the newer dining options at Disneyland is the Jolly Holiday Bakery & Cafe. We were eager to try it out. It’s located at the end of Main St., near the gateway to Adventure Land, and it has plenty of Mary Poppins-inspired charm. The menu isn’t very big, but several options looked tasty. The prices were pretty reasonable, too.

I got the turkey sandwich. I resisted the urge to order it minus the “Dijon aioli,” a.k.a mustard-mayonnaise. The sandwiches aren’t made to order, so a modification like that would have taken longer. I did sub a tiny bag of apple slices for the chips that are typically served alongside the sandwich. Having the aioli turned out to be a good choice. It had really nice flavor. The sandwich would have been fairy unremarkable without that. If we return to Jolly Holiday, I might even be tempted to order EXTRA aioli. With those apple slices, I can afford a few more calories of Dijon deliciousness. – W
Jolly Holiday
Before I get into how a hot roast beef sandwich with melted cheese was delicious… I want to explain how we found ourselves at the good ol’ Jolly H.
It was a windy night and we were looking for a place to get out of the cold. Wendy had just purchased a Mickey Pretzel and I had just waited in a 20 minutes line for the best corn dog on earth. (Review coming) We found shelter at Jolly Holiday and huddled close to enjoy our treats. As I was enjoying the last bites of food on a stick, I noticed a guy eyeing my corn dog. Then I notice the awesome roast beef sandwich he was eating. It was awkward for a moment, but I knew that the next time we came to the park we needed to eat that sandwich!
Okay, so on to the sandwich review. Here is the break down:
Hot Angus Roast Beef on toasted Onion Roll
Caramelized onions, Horseradish Aioli and white cheddar.
We went late in the day and they were out of the Onion Roll, so they substituted Texas toast. I’m not a fan of onions in general so I went without and patiently waited for my special order. It took a little longer than normal because they made it to order but that turned out to be a freshness bonus. Overall it was tasty and I wasn’t disappointed. The Horseradish was almost unnoticeable and I wish there had been more of a kick. The quality of the roast beef was really great and it all came together well. I went with the home made kettle chips as my side and I was really impressed. They were crunchy with a good density that made them a perfect pairing to a hot meat sandwich. – S

Why Would Steve Want to Ride “Winnie the Pooh”?

Pooh

That’s the question I asked myself on our last trip to Disneyland when, on our way to check out Fantasmic, Steve suggested we detour to take a spin in a hunny pot. I had only been on the Winnie the Pooh (WtP) ride once before, and I was not impressed. I recalled that it was heavy on the black light and heffalumps and woozles, and it lacked the charm and sweetness of the stories and cartoons of my childhood. Plus, I was still mildly bitter about the loss of the Country Bear Jamboree. All that being said, I was plenty willing to give it another try – for Steve and for the blog! Here’s what stood out to me when I revisited WtP: 1) The hunny pots probably have less leg room than any other ride. I thought we might need divine intervention for Steve to fold his legs in. 2) It was cuter than I’d remembered. I still think the lighting could be improved, but it was fun to see those familiar characters and hear some of the classic songs. 3) The highlight? A surprise cameo by the moose, reindeer, and buffalo heads from the Country Bear Jamboree! It turns out Steve had read about this Easter egg ahead of time. It was a really fun bit of nostalgia and definitely gave me warmer feelings towards this ride. Check it out yourself the next time you’re in Critter Country.

Easter Egg

In conclusion, don’t hesitate to give things at Disney a second chance. You might just discover something new!