Friday, December 28, 2007

"Be Our Guest!" (Or, Why I Want to Live at Disney World**)

A week or so ago was the first time since the "Great Unpleasantness," i.e., my layoff, that we well and truly got to take a vacation. We spent 6 days in Orlando at the Happiest Place on Earth...6 very long and tiring days and 5 dog-tired nights, but I wouldn't trade them for all the foot massages in the world...well, unless it was foot massages by Tom Selleck in his Magnum PI garb...then, we might have to bargain a little bit.

Say what you will about Disney and The Mouse, whether you love them or hate them for whatever reason, but realize that you can never say that they didn't try to give you a pleasant experience and help you have a good time. In fact, the only times I've ever experienced anything unpleasant in the House of Mouse was as a result of interaction with another guest...rude and entitlement-minded people are everywhere, and sometimes they just have to rain on everyone's parade in order to make their own mean-minded selves feel better.

Enough of that crap and on to the fun stuff! (On which I can and do wax on and on and on!…i.e., this is a loooong post.)

The Man and I have been to Walt Disney World 3 times together, and this was the first time we ever made it to MGM. We were just worn out the last times we were there, and just could not physically make it over there. We saw some cool things--Lightning McQueen and 'Mater were a couple of the highlights, as was the Lights!, Motors!, Action! stunt show display. We were told that it costs $50K each time that show is performed, and that's why it's only available twice a day. If you have small boy children who are crazy about things automotive, then by all means, take them to see this show.

And, be proud of me--I rode the Tower of Terror and did not cry and scream like a ninny...well, I screamed, but I think you are required to do that. For some reason, as I've gotten older, I've gotten rather apprehensive about (read “scared of”) things like amusement park rides. Which is weird and I'm becoming too cautious or one step nearer to my grandmother, who "worried" about everything. She was always predicting your imminent doom because you went off and had fun...her favorite line was "well, 'something' might happen..." What the "something " was never got fully defined, but the possibility of disaster was always there.

(And, let's not forget that the day before, I rode Space Mountain and hated every second of it, and was fully convinced that I really was going to hurtle off the tracks to my imminent doom. Let's face it, I hate roller coasters and roller coaster-like rides. The time I rode Big Thunder Mountain, I did it with my eyes closed and my head in The Man's armpit the whole time...which is a lovely picture, don't you think?) I found the Tower of Terror to be fun, so I can only extrapolate that I can plummet to my doom much better than I can hurtle towards it. Go figure.

But, who the heck cares about the rides and the fact that I waited at the Main Street Barbershop in Magic Kingdom for 20 minutes so I could get glitter and pixie dust shellacked into my hair (which, according to The Man, when I brushed it out of my hair that night, it made our hotel bathroom look like Tinker Bell had thrown up in it), and 20 minutes in a gift store trying to find cute little Minnie Mouse ear barrettes, when we could be talking about the dining?! Because food and the eating of food is where this blog is at!

The first time I went to WDW, I really was not expecting much in the way of good was an amusement park, right? Probably full of rubbery pizza and crappy "parts is parts" chicken strips...big, fat, hairy deal. Yeah, I was so very wrong that it is almost humiliating to admit it, and if you have never been and have the same sort of misconceptions, then have you got a treat in store.

The food and service are amazing, and if you have a bad dining experience, I almost want to make the broad and sweeping generalization that you must have brought it on yourself. The whole world could learn a lot from the Disney concept of hospitality and how to treat makes you want to never leave, and it's one of the main reasons I think I will never tire of visiting.

I mentioned to The Man that my SS boss has friends who try to "drink around the world" in Epcot's World Showcase. He thought this was a fine idea and promptly stopped at the pub in England to get a pint. He then proceeded to have a beer in France and Morocco and Germany before he had to stop, "because I don't like Peroni (Italian beer)." (And not because he was feeling no, not that at all. At no time did I say that the friends drank around the world in 1 day, did I?)

We tried several restaurants in the World Showcase that we'd not been to before, and we bemoaned the fate of Akershus, the Norwegian restaurant, which has become princess dining central. Pre-princess, you could partake of a lovely cold smorgasbord buffet that included all the smoked salmon you could eat, along with a sampling of the finest hot dishes that Norway had to offer, which were all served by a bevy of good-looking young women and men--something for everyone. Now, the smorgasbord has been reduced to an appetizer plate, and the place is overrun by princess wannabes. Damn.

Here’s some highlights of what we stuffed our faces with:

Chefs de France is a fine and wonderful dining experience, and how could it not be with a menu developed by 3 of the most famous chefs in France: Paul Bocuse, Gaston Lenôtre, and Roger Vergé. We had a yummy lunch there, starting with the cheese plate and the paté/charcuterie plate, and I had the short ribs with polenta for my main course, and The Man had the Steack hache Angus, champignons et Bearnaise, frites, which turned out to be a 1/2 lb. Angus hamburger with confit onions, mushroom Duxelle, tomatoes and Bearnaise on artisan bread, with French fries…a very good hamburger, it was. We finished up with a cinnamon apple crepe and a fruit salad with Earl Grey syrup.

Our next fine dining experience was dinner in Morocco (Restaurant Marrakesh), and to me, it was the most disappointing, because it wasn’t all that I expected it to be. It was a tasty meal, but nothing that made me sit up, take notice, and start looking for tickets on the Marrakesh Express. We had the Taste of Morocco: Royal Feast, and I think it was kind of a “dumbed down” dining experience, because there were no really exotic flavors that I would have associated with Morrocan Cuisine…it seemed “safe for the masses,” if you know what I mean. Of course, if you ask The Man about the food, he would say “Food? Morocco served food?” because he was thoroughly enjoying the floor show. (Yes, they had a belly dancer, and yes, she was extremely attractive and limber.) The lamb shank was good, and you know I’m kinda wishy washy about lamb, but I ate quite a bit of it. If I opt to dine there again, I’m going for something else, or eat at the counter service café.

The most fun dining we had (not counting my O’Hana Breakfast with Stitch at the Polynesian) was in Germany at the Biergarten. Everyday is Oktoberfest in the Biergarten, which offers a tasty German buffet, with a ton of bratwurst and other sausages, and a mighty fine pork loin…plus all the spatzle one can eat. The dining style is sort of family style, which means you sit with other people if your party isn’t large enough to fill a table. We had a fine time with a family from Mississippi while we watched the floor show (oompah band!). We also chatted with the young man who was carving the pork on the buffet, and it turns out he was doing his culinary school internship and having the time of his life. (Which might be something to keep in mind if I ever decide to finish!)

Hands down, the best meal I think I had was in Italy at Tutto Italia. It’s the only meal I thought to take a picture of, or at least a picture of the antipasta appetizer plate. I would have just been happy with that and a couple of bread baskets. I had pasta with Bolognese sauce, and Th Man had a lovely strip steak and a humongous serving of Zabaglione gelato. (I opted for dessert in France, because I needed to walk off some of our Italian feast before we got in the car and drive 7+ hours home.)

While I ate my tasty cream-filled Napoleon from Boulangerie Patisserie, The Man had his picture taken with Sleeping Beauty, and got her to have a little fun with the pose. She told me that I had “a silly prince,” to which I replied that she didn’t know the half of it.

After The Man finished tormenting Aurora, we piled back in the car and headed for home, where I did laundry for a day before we headed off to WV for holiday visiting with The Man’s family. I hope everyone had a great holiday, and here’s to a fabulous new year!

(**I'm serious...the whole reason I play the lottery is so I can win enough money to spend a month at Disney World...after I which I spend a month at a "fat farm," trying to detox myself.)

1 comment:

J said...

The great thing about Disney is that you walk so much it balances out the eating! I felt the same way about Morocco. It was our least favorite meal we had last time we went.