Caroling season has been keeping us super busy, but I wanted to stay up late and write a blog post highlighting our 2015 trip to Disney World! We got in our 9-day trip the week before Thanksgiving week, and despite having to work several hours a day on Olde Towne Carolers administrative tasks, we did get to experience some great new stuff on this trip.
And isn’t that one of the great things about repeated trips to Disney? There’s always something new to experience!
I have some general trip photos at the bottom of this post, but I first wanted to talk about a few of the new things going on at Disney this year…
Many folks know that Downtown Disney has now officially transitioned to “Disney Springs,” as Disney World continues its overhaul of this dining and shopping area. The middle section that was once Pleasure Island finally has a lot more places to visit. We still enjoyed Raglan Road and Fulton’s Crab House (the first for drinks and music, the second for tasty seafood meals), but we also had great experiences at The Boathouse and Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar. Twice at the Boathouse, we caught some great live music (unfortunately performed to small crowds), and the Hangar Bar is … well.. just super cool! They went all out with the theming on this bar. No detail was spared – even the menu.
TRADER SAM’S GROG GROTTO
Speaking of bars, another FANTASTIC new addition is Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at the Polynesian Village Resort. Hidden behind an unassuming door is a clever little bar decked out in full Polynesian grandeur with a cast of CMs that have a whole routine based upon what drinks people order. Some drinks summon the wrath of the Tiki goddess up on the wall, some bring the storms through… let’s just say you have to experience it in person to really appreciate it. And I might have found a new fave drink at Disney – at the level of the Lapu Lapu and the Grand Marnier slushie. It was the Polynesian Pearl – plus, I got to keep the pearl shaped “glass” it came in.
Plus, while at the Poly, we got to see some of the new renovations made to the resort lobby area and grounds.
Here’s a few photos from Trader Sam’s and the Poly…
FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL
The Epcot Food and Wine Festival was extended this year, so it was still going on during the first two days of our trip. I had experienced the F&W Festival five years ago on a girls-only trip, but was excited for Milos to try it, too. On our second day, we decided to just graze around World Showcase for lunch, stopping at a bunch of the kiosks. We both loved the filet at Canada, and the scallops and spinach at Scotland. The Australian shrimp was also excellent.
Here are some delicious highlights!
VICTORIA AND ALBERT’S
We also enjoyed a wonderful meal at Victoria and Albert’s at the Grand Floridian. This place is definitely a special treat, but we wanted to give it a try! It had been years since I’d gone, and Milos had never been. We did enjoy it, but thought some of our meals at several of the Signature restaurants were just as good. It’s still worth a visit on a special occasion, though. Just don’t forget to make reservations far in advance, and remember there is a dress code.
It had been 21 years since my last visit to Universal Studios, so needless to say, a visit was long overdue. Plus, we BOTH wanted to finally see all the Harry Potter stuff. In summary – Diagon Alley is one of the coolest theme park creations I’ve ever been in! Universal is definitely giving Disney a run for their money with this one. (Hopefully Disney will be stepping up their game with the new Star Wars land in the works.) “Escape from Gringot’s” was my absolute favorite ride at Universal. And as a long time Simpson’s fan, I really enjoyed walking past Moe’s Tavern, seeing Duffman, and snapping a pic of Lard Lad. Plus, the Rockit Roller coaster was awesomely intense – you get to choose your music soundtrack that plays during the ride, and then you have the option to purchase your ride video afterwards. Watching it was hilarious! We probably should have made the purchase.
Here are some photos from our Universal day:
And finally, here are some general photo highlights from our whole trip! I’m hoping to get a chance to write a trip report for the Disboards this year. Stay posted – I’ll let you know if I get the chance!