Ya shoulda been there (LONG)

We have just returned from Walt Disney World (WDW). Naturally, we are exhausted. I will attempt, even in this feverishly enfeebled mental state, to review the highlights of the trip. Paid subscribers to this blog will know where to go for pictures, naturally.

3/27: We all woke up early to attend 7:30am Mass. This was quite auspicious, as TFBIM never wakes up at 7:30am on a Sunday, to say nothing of being dressed and alert anywhere at such a time, regardless of the day. Mass being concluded, and rejoicing in our Redeemer's resurrection, we left for WDW, being on the open road and cruising coolly--the maximum extent possible in a minivan--up Florida's Turnpike. We make it our policy to stay at a different in-property hotel each trip, since those whom we've offsprung like variety. They don't care if it's the Grand Floridian or the dumpster behind Dumbo's Ride...variety is our buzzword. Anyway, this trip we bunked at the Contemporary which has the singular advantage of being two blocks away from the Magic Kingdom, divorcing us from the need to take public (or private) transport thereto. This is key.

Now, upon arrival, we parked on the North Wing parking lot and, staring plainly at the North Wing, I said to TFBIM (who was going to initiate the check-in process): "The North Wing, this is where we want to be" and of course, it turned out we ended up at the FAR end of the South Wing, since she forgot to ask what I had asked her to ask at the last nanosecond. Her pal Ibis (not her real name) did ask and was thus spared a long-arse walk. Anyway,

We arrived just in time for a late lunch at Tony's Town Square Restaurant. For some reason there was a special Easter menu, explicitly devoid of all the usual yummies we expect there. After some wheedling and serious charm on TFBIM's part, they produced the classic Pizza Bianca, and we made do with that and a pail full of calamari and soup and salad. The kids had pizza, and all was good. To both of you who care, the sundried tomato pesto is back, although they do have butter for those peasants who stubbornly refuse to go with the culinary flow.

When we returned, we had dinner reservations at The Plaza, still just the four of us and the evening was great with promise. Numbah Two Son had been muttering all about "grilled cheese" and we took that as a good omen. Boy were we wrong. See, the grilled cheese comes with potato chips and NTS would rather eat potato chips than breathe. So when the potato chips were held from him, he melted down, China Syndrome-style. Other diners turned back to look at us, not in that "What lousy parents" way, but in a horrifyingly startled "What the @#$% was THAT?!?" But, there's nothing that really makes for a good meltdown like a prolonged meltdown. It just went on and on and on.

TFBIM took NOS to see the parade and catch the fireworks (they having dined already) while I stayed behind, duly bribing NTS with a "one bite, one chip" barter system that eventually had him eating everything. Eventually. After that, he was quite cheerful.

3/28: Day Two dawned better. The boys breakfasted duly, and so did TFBIM and we arrived at the park only slightly behind schedule. We met up with Ibis and her husband Tiger (not his real name) and her son and daughter. We rode all there was to ride, as per my Super Duper Secret WDW Touring Plan, but for a number of reasons, there were a lot of rides out of commission. The Pooh ride was stuck when some 2 year old, whose parents were assiduously avoiding looking at her, somehow got pinned or stuck or something underneath one of the ride's car. Then Small World was down (after a long-arse rehab, no less) and finally Pirates of the Caribbean was shut down as well.

However, lunch at Columbia Harbour House went well (NTS cheerfully munched his chicken strips) and we broke off to go swim and relax and refresh. After that we met up with Poppy and her ilk to dine at the Brown Derby in the Disney/MGM Studios park. We were pleasantly surprised all the children behaved rather well and the food/wine proved to be uniformly excellent. Frankly, it is quite difficult to go wrong in dining with Poppy et cie. Much bonhomie ensued, plus drivel and banter. Speaking for myself, I tend to look at the world in a much more benevolent and kindly way when I am reveling in the postprandial afterglow of munching within elbowing distance of Poppy.

3/29: Just another perfect day. Temperatures in the high 70s, a cloudless sky and EPCOT waiting for us to explore its charms. Rode the rides, as usual, and then repaired to the Coral Reef restaurant (in the Living Seas pavilion) to dine with BOTH sets of friends. The place was pretty good, but has been dumbed down pretty noticeably. Most of the times we've gone, the menu has been seafood-intensive and rather fusion-y. Now it's neither. The food was still good, but a shade underwhelming. My new fave seafood spot mit der kinder is Flying Fish Café on the Boardwalk. After that we rode some more, just killing time, until NOS suggested we head back and swim a bit, and NTS's assent was clearly evident. The rest went their separate ways to finish riding things, while we swam.

Of all the rides at EPCOT Center, Mission:Space is my favorite and Numbah One Son's as well. NTS is still not quite tall enough to ride, and TFBIM will, not to put too fine a point on it, puke just from imagining the centrifugal forces involved. I will say this, it is the only ride I've ever seen with barf bags in the cabin. After this our favorite is Test Track. NOS will explain to all concerned that "this is how my daddy drives." Now, one of the coolest (literally!) parts of EPCOT is the Coca-Cola pavilion, I think it's called "Ice Station Cool" or something equally cheez-o-matic. Anyway, the thing has an arctic sort of look to it and when you get in you have all these machines that dispense Coca-Cola beverages from around the globe. There is a vegetable soda from Japan (not nearly as foul as it sounds), watermelon from Costa Rica, etc., etc. My favorite was a none-too-sweet lemon soda from Israel and the worst, by several lengths was an Italian soda named Beverly. Words will fail me in my attempt to describe its horrid taste. Keep in mind the Italians have a secret fetish for bitterness. It tastes like carbonated, dealcoholized Campari. It tastes like something the Borgias would have concocted had they been poisoning people well into the 1960s.

Anyway, at around 7ish, when we were headed for the Boardwalk to chill out until dinner, we got a text message from Ibis that their kids were famished and couldn't wait to have dinner. So it was back to just the eight of us, which makes seating a bit easier. Dinner was at Spoodle's, and went swimmingly. One of the great and cool things about being pals with Poppy is that everyone gets along with everyone else. Kids all get along--even when NOS is on the receiving end of a "doink" at the hands of Miss Bit--TFBIM gets along with TSMPM, etc., etc. Just a mass of cheery permutations, really. Throw a couple of jugs of sangría thereinto, and jollity is inevitable. In our case, when NTS decides something is worth launching past his tonsils, that increases teh delight factor 37-fold.

3/30: Our last day. We decided to meet (all 12 of us) at the Animal Kingdom. Although this park is, in my opinion, the lamest park going you simply cannot beat hanging around with your pals. Surprisingly, we had a nice overlap in riding the assorted rides and we all wrapped up with the Dinosaur! ride which almost--but not quite--scared the snot outa Numbah Two Son.

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