I promise, only one more post devoted to my birthday. But I promised you I’d let you know how California Grill was, so stay tuned for my not-so-great review (sorry Mickey).
Our reservations were for 7:50, and since it was such an amazingly perfect Florida day, we decided to hit Magic Kingdom for a couple hours before dinner.
We parked at Contemporary and walked over to Magic Kingdom (sorry Mickey’s parking people). On the way we saw something that I thought would be a good omen for the day:
We spent a couple hours just enjoying the gorgeous afternoon. Of course there was no getting on Peter Pan (E’s current favorite), so thanks to my new Magic Kingdom wait times app, we learned that the Aladdin line wasn’t too bad. Who needs a flying pirate ship when you have a magic carpet?
We went to check out Pirates of the Caribbean (remember, E. is a pirate-addict these days), and we came across a fabulous surprise with a very short line: Pirate Goofy!
She was soooo happy. Goofy, or Hot Dog as she still calls him (you know, because of the “Hot Diggity Dog” song at the end of Mickey’s Clubhouse? For some reason, she started calling him that very early on and it’s stuck) is her favorite of the Mickey gang. I think we just found our perfect centerpiece for the pirate birthday party in a couple weeks, huh?
We spent some time walking around and enjoying the weather and the setting sun:
I’m a broken record, I know, but the weather was PERFECT. I wish I could bottle days like this and save them for July and August. We just had a nice relaxing evening. Oh, the joys of season passes. There’s no pressure to do it all, or even anything at all if we don’t want. We were hanging around to wait for the parade before dinner, so we killed some time in E’s favorite new attraction: The Country Bears Jamboree. DadJovi wasn’t as excited.
It was finally starting to get dark enough for the parade.
We staked our places near the head of Main Street so we could make our exit in time for our reservations (the parade started at 7). Finally, we heard the music starting for one of my all-time favorite things EVER at Disney: Disney’s Electrical Parade.
Seeing this parade as a toddler with my parents and grandparents is one of my first memories in life and I hope E. will always remember it too. We saw it when it first returned last summer after about a 10-year hiatus. At the time, E. had just started watching Disney movies but the characters she was most excited about were Mickey, Minnie and Hot Dog. But now? Well, it’s stimulation overload for her. There’s her favorite Tink. There’s Cinderella! Alice in Wonderland! Snow “Wipe” and “her friends”! Pinocchio! It was almost too much for her to handle:
I know I took crappy pictures of the parade. I couldn’t figure out the right settings. Funny story about the picture above though. You know what’s fun about an almost 3-year-old? Teaching them to say funny, slightly inappropriate things. For example, I told E. that the Alice in Wonderland float above was Daddy’s favorite. So she spent the whole night saying, “Daddy loves mushrooms. Daddy, aren’t flashing mushrooms your favorite?” Hee hee.
I gave up taking crappy pictures and we skeedaddled over to Contemporary for our 7:50 reservations. Little did I know there was no need to hurry.
Keep in mind, we made our reservations MONTHS ago. We arrived, checked in and they said that since fireworks were starting at 8, there might be a “slight delay” in getting our table. Maybe 20, 25 minutes. No biggie we thought. The spectacular balcony view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks was one of the reasons we made our reservations so late. E. is still wary of fireworks, so we thought seeing them but being a distance away would help ease those fears. We didn’t account on the blustery, suddenly freezing weather on the roof.
She was miserable for the whole show, burying her head in DadJovi’s shoulder. Every once in a while she’d peek out and claim to like the fireworks before the next Boom! sent her for cover again. But she never cried, so we’re making progress.
The fireworks ended around 8:20 and we figured maybe we’d have another 10 minutes to wait as everyone started clearing out from their tables after watching the show. So we killed time on the ramp, which apparently was more fun than Aladdin’s magic carpet.
Now, let me post a disclaimer here. I normally would NEVER let E. run around in any restaurant like this, nonetheless one of the most expensive restaurants around. But it was sheer mayhem in there. Kids were behaving a lot worse than her, it was very, very loud and the wait staff looked like deer in headlights. It wasn’t a good first impression.
But we waited. And waited. Finally, it got to 8:45, almost an hour after our reservations (again, that we made months ago), and I went up to check with the hostess again. She was very dismissive and said it’d be about 20 more minutes and offered no apology. At this point, I knew we couldn’t wait until after 9. If it was just me and DadJovi, maybe. But we had a hungry, getting tired 2-year-old. We decided to go. But then, as we’re waiting for the elevator they waved us down to say our table was finally ready.
So we stayed. And I’m glad we did.
The restaurant remained chaotic, but given our own family, that probably was a good thing. However, if we were there for a true date night, I think I would have been really disappointed.
The food and our waiter Brandon from Pittsburgh, however, did not disappoint. How’s this for a line-up:
— Fire-roasted Maine “ Big One‟ s” Mussels with Coconut, Lime, Curry Broth, Finger Lime Aïoli, and Coriander Bread
— Lobster and shrimp salad with creamy avocado dressing (OK, this is my description from memory. The menu changes daily so I didn’t catch the official description before it changed)
— Oak-fired Filet of Beef, Dauphinoise Potatoes with Smoked Bacon, Ginger-Scented Carrots, and Teriyaki Barbecue
— Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Goat Cheese Polenta, Roasted Mushrooms, Zinfandel Glaze, and Sage
All four items were AMAZING. I had the pork and let me just say that I now know that my last meal on Earth damn well better be that goat cheese polenta. I want to bath in it. I want to brush my teeth with it. I want to eat it and only it every day for the rest of my life. I shared the other stuff with DadJovi but he later said I was surprisingly stingy with that. Oops! Look, I couldn’t even wait to take a photo, so here’s what’s left of the polenta before I started licking the plate (kidding — sort of)
E. behaved shockingly well. Let me just say that my new Droid is a godsend. It can occupy her through nearly any situation. She’s mesmerized by the Dora and Toy Story memory games. We ordered her a pizza, which was a mistake. She was happy with the bread. And since we were still binging on ridiculous food, we just gave up and ordered her a chocolate pudding. She could barely wait for me to snap a pic of the Mickey ears made from freshly made whipped cream.
But it was nothing compared to this:
Those are fresh, in-season Plant City strawberries, strawberry ice cream, and a molten lava chocolate cake with strawberry puree. Yeah, it tasted 1,000 percent better than it looked, and look how good it looks? Wow.
So, bottom line: It’s a REALLY expensive dinner (once again, our Tables in Wonderland card has paid for itself). The food is spectacular. The fireworks view is wonderful. The ambiance stinks. If you’re looking for a family-friendly meal that is 100 steps above chicken fingers and such, then go for it. If you’re looking for a romantic dinner place, I’d stick to Todd English’s BlueZoo or the old standard, Victoria and Albert’s.
And NOW the birthday is over.