Sunday, April 24, 2011

Orlando trip - February 14, 2011 - DHS and Epcot and dinner at Cape May Cafe

We were going to spend a couple hours this morning at Disney's Hollywood Studios again, but we'd learned our lesson from earlier in the trip, so we stopped at the store/cafe counter downstairs in the hotel to grab a breakfast sandwich first. After sitting in one of the lounges for a few minutes to have our breakfast, we then boarded a Friendship boat to DHS. It's a nice ride, with views of all the Epcot resort hotels along the way.

Beach Club.

Yacht Club.

Boardwalk Resort.

Swan Hotel.

Dolphin Hotel.

Our first stop was to go on Toy Story Mania again, but this time, we wanted to be able to spend time in the queue, looking at all the cool details before going on the ride. There are fun things in the exit area as well.

For a photo tour of the Toy Story Mania ride and the surrounding area, please click here.

We'd never seen the Lights, Camera, Action show before and had wanted to see it, but the first show wasn't until the afternoon, and we hadn't planned on being at DHS that long, so we'd have to wait for another trip to see it. Instead, we took another ride on Tower of Terror, and then we were done with DHS for the trip so went to take a Friendship boat back to the resort, and then we walked to Epcot.

First order of business at Epcot was lunch. We'd loved Marrakesh, the table service restaurant in Morocco, but we didn't have time for that again on this trip, so we decided to go to the quick service restaurant, called Tangierine Cafe.

It's still the holidays in the Tangierine Cafe! Guess they have to use up all their holiday cups.

The husband had the lamb wrap.

I had the sliders combo (lamb, chicken & falafel).

We sat down at a table inside to enjoy our lunch. Everything was really yummy, and we'll definitely come back. For quick service, it's probably going to be hard to decide whether to come back to Tangierine Cafe or go to our normal brats-and-pretzels lunch from the German quick service because both are so good.

We had wanted to see/hear the Voices of Liberty, but our schedule and their limited performance schedule at this time didn't mesh, so we'll have to wait for another trip to catch them. After lunch, we went to the Japan section. A friend had told us about Miyuki, a fantasy candy art creator, and we'd wanted to see her for ourselves. She makes animals from a Japanese candy substance made from rice starch. She has a little podium/work station at the front part of the pavilion, right next to the front portion of the big Japanese store. She can make a wide variety of animals, and as she's making an animal, she sort of chants through the litany of animals she can make. She starts with making a particular animal, but then she'll take requests from the audience on what other animals she should make, and sometimes, she'll ask what color too. She's a lot of fun to watch, very funny, very personable. There are several times during the day when you can see her, and she's definitely worth making an effort to see.

Miyuki making a dolphin.

You can't keep the animals, but after she's done, you can have your picture taken with the animal you requested or any of the other candy animals she's made.

Miyuki's candy animal creations.

Miyuki's animal creatures - giraffe (with hidden Mickey) and dolphin.

Miyuki's candy animals - porcupine, unicorn, monkey and flamingo. The porcupine had been at my request.

Miyuki poses with some of her candy animal creations.

After seeing Miyuki, we headed to Norway. We'd gone on Maelstrom the other night, but we weren't able to see the film because it doesn't run during evening extra magic hours, and I really like the film. We'd been told that we could see the film without going on the ride (not that I wouldn't have wanted to go on the ride again, but it was a bit of a wait, and we didn't really have time) if we asked the CM at the front. We did just that, explaining why we hadn't been able to see the film previously, and she let us wait in a section until the next time the film started.

We then went to the pavilion next door, Mexico, to go on their boat cruise, which we've never done before. And, I have to say, I don't get it. All the other country presentations, whether a ride or a movie, showed you the appeal and beauty and allure of the respective country, making you appreciate what's there and wanting to visit to see more. The Mexico boat ride - was a mess. It's themed to the Three Caballeros, though I'm not entirely sure why. I wouldn't think Mexico would need a hook to get people to want to come on the ride. I think a ride is a lot easier to entice people to go on than to see a film, like some of the other countries have. And maybe I'm biased because Mexico is relatively close to where I live, but I wouldn't think that Mexico is such an exotic location that people wouldn't know what it is and would be hesitant about going on a ride for it. I would think that most people have at least heard of Mexico and so would be interested to know more about it if they don't already. I didn't really know how the Three Caballeros tie-in would work, but I kind of expected to see a travelogue of the country, showing things there are to do and see in Mexico. Instead, it was a very disjointed, frenetic journey through Mexico that left me knowing very little about the country and no real desire to see more. As best as I could gather, the Three Caballeros are in Mexico for a concert, but Donald gets distracted by various things and the other two are chasing after him to find him in time for the concert. There are screens in various places which the different characters run through/appear in, and this is amidst scenes of Mexico with people at the beach and at parties and other places. I was trying to follow Donald et al, but in trying to look for them and keep track of them, you miss a lot of the other scenes of people just enjoying the local flavor. I think that the main part of the story, just showing the various places and things there are to do in Mexico, would have been terrific. I've not spent much time in Mexico, but I know a lot of people who have, and the fun and relaxation they've told me about were nowhere to be represented in anything that I saw on the ride. I know that ride has been there for a long time, so maybe I'm just viewing it differently, but unlike Maelstrom and the films in the other countries, it's not really something I'd recommend for a new visitor to Epcot to take time in their schedule to do.

From there, we made a quick visit to the Seas pavilion since we hadn't had a chance to go on the Nemo ride, which I love, especially since they have clam ride vehicles. (On a side note, I'm excited that DCA's new Little Mermaid ride will also have clam ride vehicles cause they're cool and cute.) The queue for the Nemo ride is cool too, as you go under the water.

Love the Nemo ride and the seagulls outside. Mine, mine, mine!

Afterward, we went to Turtle Talk with Crush since we'd never seen Epcot's version of this attraction. It's always fun to see how Crush is going to answer some of the very creative and challenging questions from kids.

We then made our way back to World Showcase and looked around at some of the shops. I was amused to see this shirt since turkey legs are a topic of great debate among Disney fans.

For Disney fans who want to shout out their love of turkey legs.

A nearby store also had a large selection of plush and clothes for Duffy the Disney Bear. I haven't yet succumbed to buying one yet, though I've been tempted. I like some of the specialty outfits, but I'm kind of annoyed that the specialty outfits are actually sewn onto Duffy. Duffy is advertised as a bear for whom you can buy different outfits for him to wear. But if you want any of the specialty outfits, you have to buy the outfit and the bear, so you could end up with multiple bears if you want different specialty outfits or if you want a bear that you can actually dress in different clothes. That's not really what I had in mind.

International Duffy appropriately abounds at Epcot.

World Showcase has Friendship boats that stop at three locations around the lake so that you don't have to walk all the way around if you don't want to. We've used the boats for transportation before, but I also like it as a ride because you get wonderful views of World Showcase while on the lake itself. We got on a Friendship boat at Showcase Plaza, in the front middle section of World Showcase, directly across the lake from the American pavilion, and we rode the boat to its first stop at Morocco. We stayed on the boat and were happy to see that as we passed the American pavilion, the Illuminations globe was already parked, waiting for the evening performance.

Illuminations globe in the daytime parked in U.S. section.

We got off the boat at the second stop in Germany and walked around a bit more in the various countries, making our way to France. A friend had told me about the orange slushiein the French section, so I had tried it on our August trip, and I loved it, so it's pretty much on my "must-have" list now. Refreshing and tasty!

Grand Marnier and Grey Goose orange slush from France.

This is a better picture of the slushie, from August 2010.

The husband had wanted to go back to our room for a bit, and I wanted to spend a little more time in the U.K., so I bid him farewell and headed to indulge the Anglophile in me a bit more. Their Beatles tribute band was just at the end of their set in the garden in the back, so I found an empty space on a curb and sat down to enjoy my slushie and hear the end of their set. After they were done, I stayed and enjoyed the atmosphere while I finished my drink. I then did some shopping in the gift shop (I'd previously found an item that I knew would make a great birthday gift for a friend so went back to buy it.), and then I headed back to the room to rest for a bit before dinner.

Dinner on this night was at the Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club. When we were booking our trip, we had been aware that Valentine's Day would fall in the middle of our trip and figured we needed to decide where to eat that night. Well, nothing says love like a good seafood buffet! ;)

We had tried to have dinner at Cape May Cafe on our first trip in late 1999, as our Thanksgiving meal. At that time, we had been unaware of the necessity of making reservations at WDW restaurants since we'd never been to WDW before and were Disneyland regulars. There aren't as many table-service restaurants at Disneyland, and with a willingness to wait some period of time, getting a table wasn't really a problem. Such was not the case at WDW, especially on a holiday. We got there early in the afternoon, and no matter how long we were willing to wait, we were told they were too booked to take any walk-ups at all. We ended up at Le Cellier that night (They were also very booked but were able to fit us in at a tiny table in between two provinces - the food was delicious and our server was terrific and friendly, so it was a lovely meal overall and the reason why Le Cellier will always hold a special place in my heart.), and we hadn't had the chance to try Cape May Cafe again, but since we were actually staying at Beach Club this time, it made sense to finally dine there.

We took the elevator downstairs from our room and walked through the lobby to Cape May Cafe - it was a very pleasant and short travel time. :)

We checked in and waited for a bit for our table. I looked around and saw a cake that was a special decoration for the day.

Pretty Valentine's cake.

Close-up of Mickey and Minnie on top of the cake.

After a while, we were taken to our table, which was actually fairly close to where the buffet stations were. Our server came out to greet us and asked if we'd been there before so he would know how much information to give us. When we told him we'd never been there before, including the story of how we tried to go there previously, he told us all about the restaurant and the food offered at dinner. He was very knowledgeable about everything as it turned out that he had been there for quite some time - I think it was at least 20 years.

There were many wonderful things included in the buffet, but the seafood was pretty much the highlight, at least for us. The seafood was obviously plentiful, but it was also delicious and very good quality. Growing up, we didn't have seafood very often, but when we did, my parents made sure we had the good stuff. Bad seafood is just not worth it. You can find places that don't charge much for seafood, but cheap (aka "inexpensive") seafood pretty much means cheap (aka "blech") seafood. But that was certainly not the case here.

A little seafood to start off dinner at Cape May Cafe.

As I mentioned, there were many things on the menu, but since we were enjoying the seafood so much, we didn't have too much of the other offerings, other than mostly vegetables. Here's a photo tour of some of what's offered at the dinner buffet.

An overall picture of the front section of the square buffet station.

It's all about the seafood.

Steamed clams.

Steamed crab legs.

Steamed mussels.

Deep-fried calamari and pasta.

Carving station.

Chicken and ribs.

More food choices.

Mac and cheese.

I think this was technically in the kids' section, but I love mac and cheese so I took a little bit just to have a taste.

They had buckets that you could take to put your seafood shells and meat bones in, and the server would periodically clear the contents.

You could also get drawn butter for your seafood, but I actually like the taste of seafood, so drowning it in butter is not my thing.

Carrots are kind of boring, but I love green beans, so I think I mostly just took green beans.

Cabbage with bacon. Mmmmm, this was YUMMY.

Of course, after dinner, there were some dessert choices as well.

Cookies and brownie bites.

Mini cupcakes and more cookies.

They also had a few sugar-free options available. There were none sitting out, but when we asked our server, he said they had some he could bring out. I don't remember exactly what they were, but they had two different options, and he brought out one of each and would have brought more if we'd wanted it.

Overall, it was a wonderful meal, and definitely worth the 11 year wait. Our server was terrific (very attentive to our drink refills and other needs, very professional but also friendly), and the food was delicious, and we definitely had our fill of seafood. The cost of the meal wasn't actually as much as I'd expected since I figured that the inclusion of the seafood would mean a higher price, but it wasn't really that much more than a normal buffet. I can't say if the buffet would be considered a good deal for someone who isn't partial to seafood, but for a seafood lover, I can say that without a doubt, it's a terrific price for all the good seafood you can have during this meal.

We had made sure to have an early enough dinner time where we could enjoy our meal (we figured that the seafood would dictate a longer mealtime than normal) and still be able to get back into Epcot to see Illuminations one more time. We ended up hurrying a little bit at the end and to get our check closed, and we made it to Epcot ok but without enough time to get to any of the spots we might normally choose. Instead, we ended up to the left of the U.K., which still gave us a decent view of the show.

As usual, we watched the show and then stayed to listen to all of the exit music. I was a little sad because this was going to be our last time in Epcot on this trip, and it's going to be a little while before we're going to make it back to WDW. Disneyland is home, but Epcot is a second home.

After we were done at Epcot, we walked to the Boardwalk Resort and spent some time at the Belle Vue lounge/bar there. We'd stayed at the Boardwalk on our August trip, and we'd really liked it. A friend had recommended the Belle Vue, so we'd given it a try. It's a nice place to hang out, enjoy the atmosphere and drinks as well. So far, they've made the best Bloody Mary I've had.

We spent some quiet relaxing time at the Belle Vue, and then we walked back to our room. The next day, we were going on an adventure.

1 comment:

Sherry said...

I now want cabbage with bacon.