April 28, 2012
Another early morning followed another late night. We didn’t care, though – we could sleep when we were home!
On the agenda for this sunny Saturday morning was rope drop at the Studios. Although we spent 11 days at WDW in December, we surprisingly didn’t visit the Studios all that often, and rode TSMM far fewer times than we would have liked. So, we were bound and determined to get a few spins in at the Midway. After a quick breakfast of pastry and coffee in the club level lounge, we headed for the rental car and drove the very short distance to the Studios.
Holy cow was it crowded. You know it’s a bad sign when the Cast Members are offering “surprise FastPasses” for the LMA! stunt show. Minnie and Daisy were out to greet the assembled rope drop crowd, but even still, people were loud, restless, and anxious. Once let in we followed our fellow cattle to the Toy Story Mania queue and promptly got in line, bypassing the already huge FastPass crowd. Now, we’ve done this many times before – jump in the standby line, ride without a wait, grab a FastPass. Usually this plan involves little to no wait, but not today. The line was LONG. And SLOW. And LOUD. And….once we reached the Lincoln Log cabin, a sad announcement played overhead, telling us the ride was down and to turn around and walk out.
Cue the mayhem! Well, not really, but people (ourselves included) were pretty upset. We had already waited close to 30
minutes, and I was a little surprised that Cast Members weren’t offering FastPasses on our way out. Defeated, we grabbed a set of FPs for later and wondered what to do next. Neither of us really loves much in the Studios besides TSMM, the Muppets, and for me an occasional ride on the Tower, so we decided to take the boat to Epcot and take in the Flower and Garden Festival. It was already a very hot morning, so a nice ride in the breeze on the boat seemed like the right call.
Our general plan of attack was a counterclockwise walk through the World Showcase, starting in the UK. It was before 11 so there wasn’t much to do but take pictures of the topiaries, and by the time we reached China, we were held back at a World Showcase “rope drop.” (I didn’t know such a thing existed!) The low crowds, beautiful lighting, and amazing floral scenery gave me a great chance to play around with my new fisheye lens, and so our walk around was leisurely. A bit too leisurely, actually. I had made a stupid mistake and misread the return time on our FPs, so there was no way we could get back to the Studios for TSMM without absolutely killing ourselves. (As happy as I am that FP return times are being enforced, at this moment I wished they weren’t!) So, we decided to continue our World Showcase loop. We stopped for Kaki Gori in Japan, browsed the shops in France, and then hopped on the boat to pick up the car at the Studios and head to Downtown Disney for some lunch.
When in Rome…you eat at Earl of Sandwich. Obviously! The line was typically long but moved quickly, and soon we were snacking on sandwiches, potato salad (surprisingly good) and soda while doing some people watching. I think a BBB princess parade came by, but I may have blocked that out. We browsed the shops and took pictures in our usual places, and then headed back to the BoardWalk to rest before our dinner at the California Grill.
Fast forward through…club level snacks…napping…free soda and wine…resting…primping…and soon it was time for dinner. We drove to the Contemporary and were pleased to find a spot right up front, so we had plenty of time to kill taking pictures, watching the monorail, and gazing at the sunset over the Magic Kingdom. Around 7:30 we headed to the check-in desk and were soon on our way to the 15th floor. We were greeted warmly, handed a pager, and then we set off to the observation deck to take some pictures and kill time.
CP was an awfully good sport, as afraid of heights as she is. It was a beautiful evening for pictures, but before we knew it our buzzer was going off. We were led to a table in the Wine Room, a location that both pleased and disappointed me. On the one hand, it was cozy and quiet. On the other, I missed the view of the Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom. On the other hand, we could see Epcot and most of IllumiNations. On the other, it was an awfully long walk to the bathroom.
Anyway. As usual, the food did not disappoint. We both started with salads and Pinot Noir, and both ended up ordering the amazing pork tenderloin, the dish that (no joke) made me hand in my vegetarian membership card on a trip in 2010. For dessert we split a terrific bread pudding that for the life of me I can’t find on a menu now, but trust me that it was GOOD.
It had been about a year and half since our last California Grill dining experience and once again it did not let us down. Our server wasn’t my favorite; he was maybe a bit too reserved and polite, lacking in personality. My entree was maybe a little saltier than it should have been. But these are things I can overlook for a well-paced, well-prepared, and incredibly tasty meal. That we got a tremendous discount on the meal thanks to our Tables in Wonderland card didn’t hurt, either.
We rolled ourselves out of the Contemporary and back to the car, and on a whim decided to head to Epcot, which (oddly) featured evening Extra Magic Hours. The line for Soarin’ was still pretty long by the time we got there, so with few other ride options we headed to the World Showcase. It was…DEAD. We walked on the Malestrom and had a boat to ourselves (much silliness ensued), browsed the stores, and made it to Germany before deciding to turn around and leave. We were tired, there wasn’t much to do, and my nagging foot injury was acting up. An evening in Epcot is never a regret, however, and we happily returned to our car to head back to the BoardWalk. There we did one of our least favorite Disney activities….
A few more pictures of our day: