Friday, August 9
We slept in. We finished packing. We had Bell Services retrieve our bags for transfer. One final check of the room, and we were out of there. Next stop? The Polynesian, where we were both having breakfast at Kona Cafe, and checking in for the last four nights of our stay. At that moment, as hungry as I was, I’m not sure which prospect was more enticing.
After a short drive, we pulled up at the Polynesian gate house, where we were met by a very friendly security guard. He instructed us to make sure we drove right up to the portico, where we would find a waiting Cast Member. I admit, for a moment I got excited that maybe – just maybe - we had been karmically rewarded with an upgrade to club level, but it seems this is just new Disney procedure, at least at the Deluxes. As had happened at Animal Kingdom Lodge, we were greeted by a waiting Cast Member with an iPad strapped to his hand, who looked up our reservation and ushered us inside to the online check-in desk. (As friendly as he was, he functioned sort of as a superfluous middleman. It was weird.)
Our check-in was pretty quick and painless, and although our room wasn’t ready (not surprising, given it was 10:00am), we were told we had been upgraded to a theme-park view room in Tuvalu. After MagicBand difficulties for four straight days, this seemed like just what the doctor had ordered. We were told I’d receive a text when our room was ready, and we went on our way.
Upon arriving at Kona Cafe to check-in for breakfast, we serendipitously ran into two friends from Twitter, whose identities I will not disclose here – one of them was out “sick” from work, so, you know, discretion. Suffice it to say that the four of us had a great time, eating pancakes and benedicts and drinking press pot coffee. It would have been a perfect experience were it not for our server, whose behavior was so bizarre I wondered aloud if Disney was now condoning drinking on the job. He was slow, forgetful, and stricken with a penchant for starting off in the distance. Truly weird.
After breakfast, the four of us hopped on the monorail and exited at the Magic Kingdom. It was moment of truth time. Had Jay and his Avenger friends actually found a solution for our MagicBand woes? CP and I approached the turnstiles warily, and as I put my wrist up to the reader….it turned green. IT TURNED GREEN.
Just like that, CP was in the park, too. It was almost too easy. And, sadly, after four days of headaches, it felt strangely momentous. So this was necessary:
Yes, that’s right, I had a Guest Relations Cast Member make me this button. And he only looked at me sort of strangely!
So just like that, our MyMagic+ woes were over. (Well, my band never worked for charging. But we’ll just ignore that.) We stood around watching the trolley show, basking in the glory of success, before heading to Adventureland for a quick ride on the Jungle Cruise. To the agita of Touring Plans subscribers everywhere, we then doubled back toward Tomorrowland for a requisite ride (or two) on the TTA.
These things took longer than it would sound; it was now solidly midday; hotter than Hades; and we had just received the text that our room was now ready. We said our goodbyes, walked out to the monorail, and found ourselves back at the Polynesian in short order.
I’m sure I’ve said before that I was a little apprehensive about staying at the Polynesian this time around. After being seriously underwhelmed two years ago, I had my doubts – especially since the rates per night are now even higher than they were then. But with a decent room discount and the promise of a newly renovated room, we went for it – and I’m so glad we did. Finally – finally! – I feel like the Polynesian is up to the standards I would set for it. We had been given a room on the third floor of Tuvalu, which had just recently completed its renovation. Our room was spectacular.
It was an odd moment – I’m not accustomed to this type of emotion, but I admit to getting a little teary. The view was phenomenal; not only would it be perfect for fireworks viewing, but Tuvalu sits so far over the lagoon that when we stood by the sliding doors and looked out, all we saw below was water. It was beautiful. It was peaceful. The room had a beautiful lightness to it that the old Poly rooms lacked. I couldn’t have been happier. CP’s happiness translated into an almost immediate need to take a nap, so I wandered around the Polynesian grounds while she slept. A few sights:
After basking in the glow of our good fortune for a while, it occurred to us that we had skipped lunch and would probably need some dinner sooner rather than later. The problem being, we had both reached that point of hunger where making quick and good decisions eluded us. After some lightheaded hand-wringing, we finally settled on The Wave, and so headed back to the monorail. This staying-on-the-monorail-thing was proving to be quite convenient.
So, I’m almost loathe to talk about The Wave, not because it isn’t good. Quite the contrary. It’s so good, I’m afraid the secret will get out, demand will increase, and Disney will suddenly make it a Signature restaurant and then charge four times as much for it. The Wave might be my favorite restaurant on property right now. The breakfast buffet is phenomenal, but dinner…oh, dinner.
Skipping appetizers, we went straight for the entrees: CP ordered the pork tenderloin, and I the flat iron steak. Asking me to pick which one I liked better would be like asking me to pick a favorite child, although I will say CP’s sides were better. And for ten dollars less, my steak was easily twenty times better than the sad excuse for a steak I had eaten at Be Our Guest. Our server was so pleasantly surprised to hear our ravings about the restaurant that she promised to go back and let the chef know.
Perhaps feeling a bit virtuous that we had abstained from appetizers, we dove head first into dessert. CP needs dessert to be chocolate, whereas I’ll play the field. So we decided the best course of action would be to order two things, sample from both, and see how far we got. We ordered up a Creamy Indulgence Trio and an American Flavors Trio, and then just as our server walked away, Chef Dave came to our table to pay us a visit. He was delighted to hear our praise of the meal, and then the three of us stood around talking food for nearly twenty minutes. Dave had trained in Boston and Rhode Island, two areas we know well, and he was eager to give us tips on restaurants to try. And then he promised to send us out a special dessert, a family recipe for panna cotta. This was turning out to be a great night.
The spread of dessert laid out in front of us was truly a little ridiculous, but oh, was it good. As delicious as The Wave’s on-menu desserts were, Dave’s panna cotta blew them all out of the water. It was sublime. If you’re interested, Dave will be cooking at the Food & Wine Festival at an event representing numerous restaurants on property, and I highly suggest you meet him and try his food.
Happy and full, our next stop was the Magic Kingdom, which we decided to walk to – after such a good meal, we needed a walk. Let’s be honest: few things are as fun as wandering around the Magic Kingdom a little tipsy, and we were both in fantastic moods. Our bands worked at park entry, the sun was just starting to set – what could be better?
Well, fewer people. It was packed. We had a FP+ reservation to use at Big Thunder, and on account of the heat, I suggested we take the train. The line to get on the train was well off the platform, snaking inside to the waiting area. It was ridiculous.
We tried waiting it out, but eventually concluded we’d rather walk in the heat than stand in a crowded, loud, and also hot train station waiting for the train. In truth, the walk wasn’t terrible, but the situation made me a little grumpy. Especially when we got to BTMRR and saw this:
Now, let’s be clear. The line on the right – the line we were standing in – was not, in fact, the standby line. It was the FP/FP+ return line. And it barely budged. I still don’t know whether this was a human error of bad line management or some other downside to FP+ that we haven’t fully discovered yet, but whatever it was, it wasn’t fun. Eventually we lurched forward, and finally made it onto the actual ride. FP+: not so fast, actually.
Truthfully, it was just too hot and crowded for us to enjoy ourselves. We bailed. After all, why stick around the hot and crowded Magic Kingdom when we had a beautiful, waterfront room at the Polynesian? And that’s precisely what we did: we retreated to the beautiful Poly, to take in the electrical pageant and Wishes from the balcony, before showering and retreating to bed.
MyMagic+ Problems Today: 1. My MagicBand room charging problems continued. Trips to front desk/guest relations: 0. Total trips to front desk/guest relations to date: 8.
FastPass Plus Reservations Used: 1/4. Again, four possible because of the “bonus” FP+ you can schedule at MK. With high heat and crowds, we didn’t feel it was worth it to use our last 3 FP+ after dinner.
Up next: We investigate whether reserved fireworks viewing is really any good; my love affair with The Wave continues. And I nearly barf on Indiana Jones.