I visited Disneyworld for the first time in early June. Iâ€™ve never been to Florida. I expected it to be hot and humid, and it was. I didnâ€™t expect the amount of rain we got but I guess that goes along with the humidity.
Disneyworld isnâ€™t one big amusement park, itâ€™s lots of smaller amusement parks connected by a series of semi-public roads. Itâ€™s all very confusing and generally best to take their shuttles to and from the parks if you stay on-site. Other than some lengthy delays waiting for our bus, this system works.
Iâ€™ve never been a Mickey Mouse fan and Iâ€™m still not. But there are many Disney movies that Iâ€™ve loved, particularly The Little Mermaid and The Fox and the Hound. I knew the park wasnâ€™t completely for kids, so why not? The overall experience was great and Iâ€™d go back again, just not in June.
FOOD AND LODGING
We stayed at the Beach Club resort (our first two choices were booked). We ordered an over-priced standard room, which looked uninspiring on the Internet. The room was very comfortable and better maintained than some other equally-priced rooms in large cities. They even offered an Internet connection although I had no energy to surf while there. We were lucky enough to land a corner room, which was roomy, breezy and had its own tiny little patio with a table and chair. The hotel service was terrific. In fact, it was far better than what I expected. They didnâ€™t run things like an amusement park but like a resort. The room-service food was decent enough, like most hotels. They offered a small, empty fridge in the room. You could stock it with your own supplies, or they offered a relatively reasonable program where you made your selection off a list of items and they stocked it for you. I wish every hotel would implement this idea.
I love steam rooms but never did get to visit the one in the hotel. After spending all day in the June Florida weather the last thing I wanted was to sit in a steam room. I assume the amenities were good, but Iâ€™m taking that on faith. They had an ice-cream parlor in the hotel, which always had a long line snaking down the outside walkway. In fact, there was always a huge line anywhere Disneyworld served ice-cream. I didnâ€™t get to have ice-cream the entire week I was there. They had a number of pools but since it rained every afternoon, we only visited the pool nearest the laundry room once when we washed our clothes.
We stayed near Epcott since we assumed that was where weâ€™d spend most of our time. We did, if for no other reason than to eat there every night. The World Showcase has a wider variety of food than most cities. Disneyâ€™s selection of countries is a little odd, but the mix is fun. The food was great in every restaurant, even if over-priced and a little less than perfectly authentic (based on my other dining experiences). Our two best meals were in China and France.
The best meal, bar none, was at Bistro de Paris. It had an unassuming dress code, which we had prepared for. (We hadnâ€™t prepared for truly fine dining, which is why we didnâ€™t get to try Victoria and Albertâ€™s. Must do more preparatory research next time.) The restaurant was above the other Parisian restaurant (Chefs de Paris) and quiet, with low lighting. The windows were narrow, so it wasnâ€™t obvious you were in a theme park for children. The food was wonderful. I chose the prix fixe menu option including an appropriate wine paired with each course. I even liked the red paired with one of my courses, which is a rarity for me. The atmosphere, since it was not crowded, was very seductive. Combined with my lover and all the wine I drank, it was a very romantic dinner. Our waiter was good but still learning the art of timing and grace. The worst part of the meal was leaving, walking down the stairs and rediscovering I was still in Florida in June instead of Paris.
We ate at Nine Dragons in China on our last night. It is the best Chinese food Iâ€™ve ever had, far better than P.F. Changâ€™s or any other Chinese restaurant Iâ€™ve had. There is no grease, no odd flavors. This is clean, pure food. If we had eaten there our first night we wouldâ€™ve gone back a couple more times to sample the menu more. The only problem is that my appetite only stretches so far in one meal. There were so many delicious options, so many great smells, such great service. Even my tea tasted like tea. There was no taint from some other beverage having ever been in the teapot or my cup (like coffee). A meal that I remember, especially since the Chinese food where I live is lacking.
I did have one eye-opening experience. One evening, we dined at the Japanese restaurant. Both of us were craving sushi. Again, because we hadnâ€™t done our research, we didnâ€™t realize they had a sushi section and we ended up in the hibachi section. No worries, we ordered some sushi as appetizers with our hibachi meal.
I donâ€™t consider myself a sophisticated person by any stretch. Iâ€™ve been to a number of hibachi restaurants, most of them in the Dallas area. While not everyone eats everything (nobody ever seems to like hot green tea), most people seem familiar with whatâ€™s on their plate and know what sushi looks like. The point of the World Showcase was driven home to me as the other people at the table looked in horror at our sushi. They suspiciously sniffed at their hibachi dipping sauces and looked askance at the pickled vegetables served as a small appetizer. I guess if you donâ€™t make a point of exploring even as simple a thing as food, going to the World Showcase at Disneyworld is a chance to feel like youâ€™ve touched another culture. Apparently, for a lot of these people, visiting the World Showcase was their first encounter with something other than McDonaldâ€™s. To that end, I think that Disneyworld has done a great job with the restaurants. It is a shame the average American visitor isnâ€™t a little more adventurous.
The only bad meal we had in the park was in the MGM section. It was raining quite a bit and we ran into a restaurant that seemed decent. It was part of a chain and not one of Disneyâ€™s own places. The food wasnâ€™t bad, but it was certainly a big step down from what weâ€™d gotten used to at the Epcott. Well, the fast food over at Typhoon Lagoon was not all that great either, but itâ€™s a water-park. I sort of expected that.
We usually didnâ€™t eat lunch, but would snack our way through the day to an early dinner. I recommend eating at Disney eateries. They offer better food and better service. You end up paying for it no matter where you eat, so stick with the Disney places.
A note about Disney service
I expected lots of fake smiles and intrusive good cheer. Not at all. What we got instead was friendly, prompt, expert service in all areas of the park. I donâ€™t know how Disney has done it, but theyâ€™ve hired people who enjoy their jobs, or at least do a great job of pretending. This is a place where genuine hospitality is as important as not scaring the little ones.
Disneyâ€™s attention to detail is amazing. I watched as one of the hordes maintenance workers emptied out a public trash can, replaced the plastic bag and then wiped down the entire trashcan, including the lid where you put your hand. He didnâ€™t just smear dirt around, he actually cleaned it! Iâ€™ve never seen this anywhere before and it impressed me. There are a lot of little things like this that Disney offers which Iâ€™ve never seen anyplace else. You are indeed their guest, as taken care of as you would expect from a close friend. Usually in only the nicest hotels is the service this good, yet they manage to do this throughout the entire park. (Yes, I checked every trash can I saw and I didnâ€™t find a dirty one.)
Rides and attractions is coming soon….