Fall into the Magic with Me! Oct. 23 – Nov. 4, 2018 Trip Report (Updated 2/13)

My 5th consecutive fall trip to Disney World was different in some ways. Unlike the previous two fall trips, sadly this time my friends, Paula and Hunter, were unable to join me as I “tasted” my way around the World. I was though able to meet up with other friends for about 1/3 of my dining, so at least some of my reviews will include additional opinions other than my own. One of these friends was Rachel, who is shown here with me at our Sunday brunch at California Grill.

 

Several times I also dined with my friends, Nicole & Mike, including at the Italian Regional Food & Wine Pairing Luncheon when I took this photo of them (in front) and their friends Kevin and Krissie.


Another change this year was that for the first time in many years I did not purchase an Annual Pass and therefore was not eligible to purchase a Tables in Wonderland membership (for its 20% discount at most Disney World table service restaurants). So with this in mind, I decided to experiment with another option highly promoted by Disney for discounted dining. For the first three nights of my 12 night trip (during my stay at the Polynesian Village Resort) I was on the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan. So for a cost of $348.72 ($116.24 per night) I received 9 meal credits, 6 snack credits, and a refillable mug (sold for $18.99 plus tax and good for up to 14 days, so for my entire trip). Of my 9 meal credits I used 6 to dine at signature restaurants which require two credits per person and the remaining three for two lunches and one dinner at other (1 credit) table service restaurants. Therefore, all of these meals included a beverage (I chose an alcoholic beverage at all but one), appetizer, entrée, and dessert plus tax (tip not included). Also four of my 6 snack credits were used at the Epcot Food & Wine booths for $8.00 items. So for the first 3+ days of my trip I ate “DELUXE” with lots of steak, lobster, shrimp, expensive Disney cocktails and desserts.  On Day 4 of this trip report (after my last snack credit was used) I’ll crunch the final numbers for you and reveal my conclusion as to whether this Disney Dining Plan experiment was a success.

That just leaves a few more important introductory details, like “Where did I stay?” This trip started with a 3 night stay at the Polynesian, followed by 2 nights at the Wilderness Lodge, then 6 nights at the Boardwalk Inn (my favorite Disney resort), and the final night at Port Orleans Riverside, so all four of these resorts will be reviewed in this report.

And then finally and most importantly for a Disney trip report which focuses on dining, “Where did I eat?”

Here is a list of the places/events which I will be reviewing in this trip report:

Table service Restaurants

  1. Narcoossee’s Dinner with Deluxe DDP (Grand Floridian Resort) – COMPLETE
  2. Tutto Italia Lunch with Deluxe DDP (Epcot, Italy) – COMPLETE
  3. Citricos Dinner with Deluxe DDP (Grand Floridian Resort) – COMPLETE
  4. Tony’s Town Square Restaurant Lunch with Deluxe DDP – Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package (Magic Kingdom) – COMPLETE
  5. The Plaza Restaurant Dinner with Deluxe DDP (Magic Kingdom) – COMPLETE
  6. Kona Café Breakfast (Polynesian Village Resort)
  7. California Grill Sunday Brunch (Contemporary Resort)
  8. Beaches & Cream Dinner (Beach Club Resort)
  9. Flying Fish Dinner (Boardwalk Resort)
  10. Ale & Compass Restaurant Breakfast (Yacht Club Resort)
  11. La Hacienda de San Angel Dinner (Epcot, Mexico)
  12. California Grill Dinner (Contemporary Resort)
  13. Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Lunch (Disney Springs)
  14. Bluezoo Dinner (Dolphin Resort)
  15. Liberty Tree Tavern Lunch (Magic Kingdom)
  16. The Edison Lunch (Disney Springs)
  17. Boatwright’s Dining Hall Dinner (Port Orleans Riverside Resort)

Quick service/Specialty Shops/Kiosks

  1. Captain Cook’s Breakfast #1 (Polynesian Village Resort) – COMPLETE
  2. Captain Cook’s Breakfast #2 (Polynesian Village Resort) – COMPLETE
  3. Pineapple Lanai snack (Polynesian Village Resort)
  4. Woody’s Lunch Box Lunch (Hollywood Studios)
  5. Roaring Fork Breakfast (Wilderness Lodge Resort)
  6. Boardwalk Bakery Breakfast (Boardwalk)
  7. Satu’li Canteeen Lunch (Animal Kingdom)
  8. Beaches & Cream To Go Counter snack (Beach Club Resort)
  9. Choza de Margarita snack (Epcot, Mexico)
  10. Belle Vue Lounge Breakfast x 2 (Boardwalk Resort)
  11. Woody’s Lunch Box Breakfast (Hollywood Studios)
  12. Boardwalk Pizza Window Dinner (Boardwalk)
  13. The Ganachery snacks (Disney Springs)
  14. Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop snack (Disney Springs)
  15. Riverside Mill Food Court Lunch (Port Orleans Riverside Resort)

Resort Lounges/Bars

  1. Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace Lunch (Polynesian Village Resort) – COMPLETE 
  2. Territory Lounge Dinner (Wilderness Lodge Resort)
  3. River Roost Lounge (Port Orleans Riverside Resort)

Special Food & Wine Festival Events & Booths

  1. 12 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Booths Visited  – COMPLETE
  2. Swan and Dolphin’s Food & Wine Classic held on Oct. 26, 2018 (Swan & Dolphin Resort)
  3. Parisian Breakfast held at Chefs de France on Oct. 27, 2018 (Epcot, France)
  4. The Parisian Afternoon – Sandwiches, Macarons and Bubbles! Lunch held at Monsieur Paul on Oct. 27, 2018 (Epcot, France)
  5. Italian Regional Food & Wine Pairing Luncheon held at Tutto Gusto on Oct. 29, 2018 (Epcot, Italy)

Other Special Dining Events

  1. Happily Ever After Fireworks Dessert Party (attended after fireworks) with Plaza Garden Viewing (Magic Kingdom)
  2. Frozen Ever After Dessert Party (held in Norway pavilion due to inclement weather) followed by reserved waterside viewing for Illuminations (Epcot)

Miscellaneous Non-Food Stuff

  1. Polynesian Village Resort & Room 2603 (Samoa Longhouse)COMPLETE
  2. Torch Lighting Ceremony at The Polynesian COMPLETE
  3. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party held on Thurs., Oct. 25, 2018 (Magic Kingdom) – COMPLETE
  4. Wilderness Lodge Room 3207
  5. Rivers of Light Fast Pass Viewing vs. Dining Package (Animal Kingdom)
  6. Boardwalk Inn Room 3289
  7. Halloween at the Boardwalk (plus a few photos from the Yacht Club)
  8. Port Orleans Riverside Room 8088 (Magnolia Bend, Acadian Mansion)

 

(Kudos to anyone who recognized that the above photo and the next one were taken on Epcot’s Spaceship Earth ride.)

Tuesday, October 23 – Arrival Day (Polynesian Village Resort, Grand Floridian Resort)

My morning was mostly uneventful, with only a small delay going through security when the gentleman in front of me had his home canned pickles confiscated, as there apparently was more than the allowed 3.4 ounces of pickle juice included with them in the jar.  Lol.  After that though it was smooth sailing (or flying)…
…with my Frontier flight taking off on time at about 10:00 a.m. Central Time and landing about 2 1/2 hours later (or  about 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time) at the Orlando (MCO) airport. Despite a quick bathroom break, a slight detour from my normal path due to some construction in the main terminal, and a longer than usual Magical Express check in line, I was still on my ME bus by about 2:00.  It was during my walk through the airport that I received a text saying my room at the Polynesian was ready.  I had been assigned to Room 2603 on the 2nd floor of the Samoa longhouse.  Also included in the text was a link to this Polynesian Resort map…
With the help of the map plus having just stayed at the Polynesian last year, I was able to find my longhouse and room pretty quickly once the ME bus let us off at the front entrance of the Great Ceremonial House (where the main lobby of the resort is located).   So by 3:00 I was already in my room taking photos like this one that I sent to my family of the beautiful view out my window…

My Review of Samoa Room 2603 & the Polynesian Village Resort

Next was a visit to the front desk to take care of a Magic Band issue, a park ticket issue, and to confirm that everything was in order to begin using my Dining Plan.  It was during this visit to the front desk that I was given this lei…

Then after a quick stop at Captain Cook’s (the Polynesian’s quick service restaurant) to pick up the refillable mug which was included in my dining plan…

NOTE: Though I was hoping to get the cute Halloween themed mug that I’d seen in photos, there weren’t any available at Captain Cook’s (as of October 23rd).  My color choices at Captain Cook’s for the lid of the regular mug were red, blue, pink and purple.

…it was on to the Tiki Terrace of Trader Sam’s.

My Late Lunch at Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace

When I returned to my room my luggage had arrived from the airport and been delivered there.  I took some time to get my stuff organized and take more photos of my room.  Then it was time to go outside to the Great Ceremonial House Lawn for…

The Polynesian’s Torch Lighting Ceremony

At about 7:45 I was my way to dinner when I saw another activity taking place on the Great Ceremonial House lawn…

The activity seemed to involve lighted hula hoops and lots of kids having fun.

But no hula hooping for me, ’cause my plan for this evening was to meet up with my friend, Rachel, for dinner at one of my favorite Disney restaurants.  So I boarded the monorail (on the 2nd floor of the Great Ceremonial House) and got off at the next stop, the Grand Floridian, where I had to stop and take a picture (or two) of the beautiful lobby…

And also stop for a minute to listen to the orchestra…

Then it was down the stairs, out the back door and down the path to the waterfront, where Narcoossee’s is located…

Dinner at Narcoossee’s on the Deluxe Dining Plan

4 Deluxe Dining Plan Credits used ($222.91 total value), 5 Credits Remaining

Wednesday, October 24 – Polynesian Village Resort, Epcot, Grand Floridian Resort

On this first morning of my trip I was awake very early and ready to start my day with breakfast to go from the Polynesian’s quick service restaurant.  So at 7:00 a.m. I made the short walk over to…

Breakfast from Captain Cook’s

I left my room at the Polynesian at about 9:45 a.m. and took the walking path through the resort’s grounds to get to the Ticket & Tranasportation Center.  I reached the Bag Check/Security Line there at about 9:55.  Unfortunately a large tram load of people from the parking lot arrived just before me, so the line was quite long.  After about 10 minutes I was through the line and made my way to the Epcot monorail platform.  And of course, a monorail had just left the station as I was climbing up the ramp so I had to wait about another 10 minutes for the next one.  It took a few minutes for the guests to get off and for us to board, so it was about 10:18 when our monorail left the T&TC.  It was about a 10 minute ride to Epcot so we arrived there just before 10:30.  It took about another 15 minutes to get through the Epcot Bag Check/Security line and make my way through Future World.

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So at about 10:45, one hour after leaving my room at the Polynesian, I had reached my first destination in Epcot’s World Showcase…

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12 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Booths Visited Over 3 Days

After using my first two DDP snack credits (of 6 total) at the Food & Wine Festival Canada and Greece booths, I still had about two hours to kill before my lunch reservation.  So I took my time exploring the shops in the countries of Mexico, Norway, China, and Germany before reaching my lunch destination, Italy’s Tutto Italia…

Lunch at Tutto Italia on the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan 

After lunch I went to the movie next door in the American pavilion, I watched the first show of the night by Billy Ocean outside at the American Gardens Theatre, and I had two more snacks from the Food & Wine Festival booths before making my way to the front entrance of Future World and out of Epcot.

1 Deluxe Dining Plan Meal Credits used ($79.88 Total Value), 4 Credits Remaining

4 Deluxe Dining Plan Snack Credits used (Total value $32), 2 Credits Remaining

I then took the monorail back to the Ticket & Transportation Center, but instead of walking from there back to my room at the Polynesian I transferred to the Resort Monorail and got off at the next stop…the Polynesian Resort.  From there it was a short walk back to my room.  I then had a little down time there before I needed to change clothes and get back on the monorail, which took me to my dinner destination at the Grand Floridian.

In case you don’t recognize the restaurant from the photo of its menu, my dinner destination was…

Dinner at Citricos with the Deluxe Dining Plan

2 Deluxe Dining Plan Meal Credits used ($99.32 Total Value), 2 Credits Remaining

And here’s how my numbers looked at the end of Day 2 on My Disney Experience…

Thursday, October 25 – Polynesian Village Resort, Magic Kingdom

In preparation for the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that I was planning to attend that evening, I slept in on the second morning of my trip.  Then after getting my dining notes up to date, I headed to Captain Cook’s in search of some breakfast…

Breakfast from Captain Cook’s Again

By 11:30 that morning I had taken the Resort Monorail to Magic Kingdom and was taking photos of the Halloween decorations around the Town Square…

 

And just as I was about to head over to Tony’s to check in for my lunch reservation, the Move It! Shake It! Dance and Play it! began…

This fun, little mini-parade only took a couple of minutes to pass through the Town Square area and head down Main Street toward the castle so I stuck around to watch it.  Then I headed inside Tony’s Town Square Restaurant…

 Tony’s Town Square Restaurant Lunch with Deluxe DDP (Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package)

1 Deluxe Dining Plan Meal Credit used ($72.42 Total Value), 1 Credit Remaining

I left Tony’s at around 1:15 and found a bench underneath the train station where I could sit and watch for the Reserved Area for the parade to open.  This reserved area was the circle in the center of Town Square (where the flag pole is located) and the entrance area (which was still roped off) faced Tony’s restaurant.  As soon as I saw that the Castmembers (who were posted there) were starting to let guests in (at about 1:30) I walked over and presented my VIP voucher/card.  Being one of the first guests to arrive, I staked out a prime spot with a straight-on view of Main Street and the castle…

As I sat and waited for the parade to begin (which wasn’t until 2:00, in Frontierland), the reserved area filled up around me but was not nearly as crowded as the rest of Main Street.  Also as the curbs and sidewalks filled, many new arrivals would try to sit down right in front of our roped off reserved area or even try to crawl under the ropes.  Thankfully there were several Castmembers patrolling the area and did a great job of taking care of this problem.

At about 2:00 the Main Street Philharmonic Band made their way down Main Street…

Then nothing for about 1/2 hour.  At about 2:30 I saw this…

The lead float of the Festival of Fantasy Parade, with Beauty and the Beast on the front…

Other highlights of the parade were the Tangled float…

Little Mermaid…

Peter Pan…

Brave…

Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs came strolling along…

Pinocchio led by Jiminy Cricket…

Donald and Daisy Duck…

The stars of the parade, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, led by Goofy, Chip & Dale…

And at 2:42 was THE END…

But wait, where was my favorite float?  The Sleeping Beauty one with Maleficent in dragon form…

Led by really cool looking Thorn Stilt Walkers…

But the coolest part…

– Photos I took in October 2014 –

I did some online research and learned that the dragon had a fiery death back in May 2018.

See the source image

Wow, I’d completely missed that one!   I was glad to hear though that the dragon is expected to return eventually…maybe it has already???  UPDATE: It returned on January 25th!

After the parade I used my 3 Fast Passes to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Peter Pan, and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  By 5:30 I was done with these, plus It’s a Small World, so I headed to check in a bit early for my solo dinner reservation at…

Pre-MNSSHP Dinner at The Plaza with the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan

1 Deluxe Dining Plan Meal Credit used ($53.25 Total Value)

0 Dining Credits, 2 Snack Credits Remaining

After dinner it was time for the…

2018 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Review

Next up: Breakfast at Kona Cafe

 

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