Hubby and I went to Orlando the weekend February 7th to visit with his parents and go to Disney World. I think a recap post will be worthwhile because we tried lots of new things (not just food-wise) that might be of interest.
Hubby and I got to my in-laws just in time for me to get a 30 minute nap before we had to leave for our 8:00 reservation at the Polynesian Resort’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show. We got the resort quite early, so we went to the Tambu Lounge for a drink. The drinks were good (I had the Pimm’s Punch – the menu on Disney’s site is not complete) and our server was awesome. Unfortunately, people use the lounge as a place to eat the food they get at some counter service place across the way, so the atmosphere is kind of destroyed. But it was a nice place to kill time before the show.
The show itself was pretty good. The “host” is a woman who teaches traditional dancing and music. The plot is that one of her favorite students is leaving for the mainland to go to school. The subplot is a romance. We enjoyed the traditional music and dancing (each Polynesian island was featured) but the rest of it was so-so. The fire twirler was definitely the highlight and worth the price of admission alone.
The food, served family style, was pretty good. When you are seated, a platter of starters and a basket of bread are waiting for you. The starters are island slaw, noodle salad, and salad. Everything was good but we all would have liked butter with our bread. The main courses were roasted chicken, ribs, and pulled pork, with a side of green beans. The roasted chicken was good (a little oily) and I thought the pulled pork was over-salted but the ribs awesome. Totally fall-off-the-bone tender and delicious. Dessert was a yummy pineapple coconut bread pudding.
Overall, we agreed that we like the Hoop-De-Doo Musical Revue at the Fort Wilderness campground better (both food and show) but we enjoyed our dinner.
Afterwards, we got the monorail to the Contemporary Resort with the intention of going to Outer Rim but they were already closed when we got there (a few minutes after 10). While we were going to plan B (The Wave Lounge), we passed the elevators going up to the California Grill and decided to go there instead to see how the remodel looks and enjoy the view. They did a great job. The restaurant really looks modern and fresh. The cocktails and service were also very good.
We started the day at “Hollywood Studios” (it will always be MGM to me). We tried to get fast passes for the Toy Story ride when we first got there but they were already gone for the day, so plan ahead if you want to ride that. The wait was over an hour so we went on the Great Movie Ride and Star Tours instead and then had lunch at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant.
None of us had been there in many years but it was as campy and charming as I remembered. The interior of the restaurant looks like you’re in a drive-in theater, complete with old sci-fi movie trailers playing on a big screen. The restaurant is not ideal for conversation and the booths are tight BUT it’s really fun and overall the food was good. I shared fried pickles (both chips AND spears!) with my in-laws ($8.49 and it was definitely enough for three people) and Hubby had buffalo popcorn chicken ($8.99, also a good portion). Hubby and I both had the veggie burger with sweet potato fries ($13.49). My only complaint was that the bun was very dry. I definitely recommend this place for a sit-down lunch at MGM.
After lunch we hustled over to the Lights, Motor, Action! stunt show, which is a stunt show with motor vehicles (racing cars, motorcycles, jet skis…). We were concerned they would cancel it since it was raining but they put on a good show, even though they had to cancel a few tricks. I would love to be able to drive like that! Another thing I recommend at MGM.
After the stunt show we had to head over to Epcot because we were booked on the Behind the Seeds tour at Epcot, which takes you on a tour of The Land’s greenhouses. We HIGHLY recommend this tour. It is $20 per person (annual passholders get 15% off) and your guide is an intern whose education and expertise is in a field such as horticulture, which our guide had just received her degree in. The tour is about an hour long and the intern is able to answer pretty much any plant- or bug-related question you can think of.
After our awesome tour we rode a few rides. We went to check out the new Test Track (very cool updates) and I rode Mission: Space alone since it makes everyone else sick and/or claustrophobic. We rode the Ball and the Nemo ride. We walked around a little. We tried the croissant doughnuts at one of the stands by Canada. Those were awesome. Hubby and I split one…then got another one and split that, too.
One note about Epcot. Hubby found a tequila bar in the Mexico Pavilion called La Cava del Tequila, which looked pretty cool online. While I was riding Mission: Space, he went to check it out with his parents. He said despite the pictures on the website to the contrary there is no seating at all in the bar and the line was crazy long. You’ve been warned.
We had dinner reservations at Le Cellier in Canada at 8:30 (only by miracle of someone else’s cancellation – they take reservations 180 days in advance and are pretty much booked up by day 179). We got there about 30 minutes early and were seated almost right away. Our server was awesome … but we can’t remember her name! Pretty blond, about 30. If all Canadians are that nice, I want to go there. Le Cellier does a good job featuring Canadian specialties. My in-laws and I split a bottle of Château des Charmes merlot (from Ontario) and Hubby had Canadian beer. The wine was good – very easy drinking. Great if you want to split a bottle with a few different people who might have slightly different tastes.
I started with the roasted beet salad (“Roasted Beets, Burrata Cheese, Watermelon Radish, Citrus and Chive Vinaigrette,” $13) and Hubby had the Kurobuta pork belly (“Braised Pork Belly, Beluga Lentils, Fennel-Orange Marmalade, Éphémère Reduction,” $14). We were very impressed with both.
For dinner, Hubby and I both had the golden tilefish (“Prosciutto, Pork Belly Tortellini, Arugula, Roasted Tomato Fumé, Cauliflower Gremolata,” $37). As usual, I took half of mine home and it was really good a couple of days later, too. My in-laws had steak. We all shared the jumbo lump crab pasta ($11) and tried two poutines, the Le Cellier poutine (“Canadian Cheddar, Black Truffle, Red Wine Reduction,” $9) and the New Brunswick Lobster poutine (“Butter-poached Lobster, Meyer Lemon Crème Fraîche,” $16). The sides were all really good. Our server said some Canadians don’t like their version of poutine because instead of heavy gravy they serve it with more of a jus but when you’re dealing with really high-end ingredients you don’t want to drown them in gravy.
My in-laws skipped dessert but we did not (do we ever?). I had the citrus-olive oil cake (“Vanilla-Mint Panna Cotta, Berry Gelée, Chili Pepper Sorbet, Sesame Tuile,” $10) because I like slightly savory desserts, and I was not disappointed. The spicy sorbet and sesame tuile really brought all the flavors together. Amazing dessert. Hubby had the Meyer lemon curd torte (“Morello Cherry, Cheese Crème, Caramelized Phyllo Crisp,” $10), which he really enjoyed as well.