Today’s post is a special one. It’s not only the first park day post of the entire trip. We also get to visit a whole new land for the first time.
And not only is the first park day post of the entire trip and we get to visit a new land, but we also got to try a new restaurant (well new for us, at least.)
And not only is this this first park post of the trip, and we get to visit a new land, and we get to try a new restaurant. But I think I may still be a little drunk from our Christmas party this weekend. So I wrte post godo….good. Hiccup.
Anyways, less get on with this post. Pfft, don’t tell me what to do. This is my house. You don’t like it you can just brit the hicks. Hit the bricks. Hiccup.
Day 5 – Hollywood to Homecomin’
The plan for Day 5 was to hit Disney’s Hollywood Studios at open. We had our FastPasses booked but wanted to try and get into Toy Story Land early. So we woke up at around 6:30AM, got showered, dressed, and headed down to the Wyndham lobby.
We decided to have breakfast in the lobby. On account of there was a Joffrey’s there. Which has coffee. And pretty girls, apparently.
But there’s also all this wonderfulness.
It was a tough decision. Honestly. And while I have made my love for all thing donut pretty public, Nickie and I decided to split a cheese danish.
I have this rather unexplainable obsession with Disney cheese Danish and being I hadn’t had one yet, my tummy wouldn’t let me pass one up on this occasion. And my tummy is quite persuasive. If you haven’t gathered that yet.
The boys, however, went straight donut. And when it comes to Joffrey’s, donuts are a solid choice. As they are the size of a small country.
Myles went with the sugared version (I think?) and Owen opted for vanilla frosted with sprinkles.
And once all consumption had taken place, it was time to hit the park! We walked out front to grab a bus to Hollywood Studios.
Being that we weren’t at an actual Disney resort, the transportation is a tad different. While every 30 minutes is a relatively good schedule when it comes to how often they come, the buses do make a few more stops. You can even tell this by looking at the front of the bus as it pulls up:
Standard Disney buses don’t typically go to more than one park on a single loop. And added to this is the fact that we did have to stop and pick up at a few Disney Springs resort hotels. But eh, Id say we still got to the park within maybe 20 minutes or so? Again, with this place being only 70 bucks a night, I feel it’s a relatively small sacrifice.
Plus our time on the bus gave me some time to call the Alamo rental desk at the Hilton to ask about the items I left in the rental car. The attendant told me they would look when they cleaned the car and asked if I could check back in later. Just to close that whole loop, I did check later and they had both my glasses and charging cords so I walked over later that afternoon and all was right with the world.
We arrived at the park at around 8:30-8:45 or so and noticed people were already getting into the park. Which was a surprise and also a lesson learned for later in the trip. Being this was a busy time to visit the parks, they were letting people in before scheduled rope drop. Which I guess is good and all, but sort of dashed our hopes to maybe get a daytime ride on Slinky Dog. We had FastPasses later in the week for a nighttime ride but we were hoping to get a ride in the sunlight as well. Alas, we feared this was not to be today. I accept your pity.
The boys and I still made our way over to Toy Story Land to see what the wait was like. And the line was extending all the way out of Toy Story Land.
Today was gonna be a crowded one.
But given that today was a couple days before Thanksgiving, we expected as much. However, with everyone in line to get on Slinky Dog, Alien Swirling Saucers (or ASS for short) had zero wait. So we got right on. And it was a cool feeling that our first ride of the entire trip was a brand-new experience for us.
The ride didn’t look like much from the outside but we had a lot of fun on it. It was a lot like Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree in Disney’s California Adventure. Sort of a mix between the teacups and a whip-type ride. Nothing WOW or anything but it was fun. Plus they played some Christmas tunes while we rode, so that made it even more fun. Everyone loves Christmas music.
Afterwards, the boys and I waited for Nickie to meet us in Toy Story Land. While we were waiting, we took in all the Christmas decorations and snapped a few fun pics.
Toy Story Land may be small but it’s really well-detailed and a lot of fun to walk around. Even the bathrooms are super cool.
And Woody’s Lunchbox (more on that later) was decked out with oversized popcorn and cranberries.
But place was getting packed so we headed out into Hollywood Studios proper to get our glitz and glamour on. And full transparency, I just spelled “glamour” as “glammer” at first. Wow. Seriously, me. Wow.
We walked right over to another attraction none of us have ever experienced, despite it being around like…forever. We walked pretty much right into Voyage of the Little Mermaid. And I know. It’s sort of weird we have never seen this show. But first off, getting the boys to sit for this was a tough sell. Plus, the timing never seemed to work out. As it’s a show, it’s not like a continuous thing. Plus, seeing Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage ruined me for all Hollywood Studios animation-based stage shows. Seriously, how is that show still running?
But we had some time to spare, so we figured now was the time.
And you know what? I kind of liked it. I liked how the show incorporated live actors, puppets, and clips from the film. And the performers were pretty great. Ariel sounded awesome, I thought.
So honestly, I think Hollywood Studios may have THE BEST holiday decorations of all the parks in Walt Disney World. There is something about the retro-ness of their theming. I am going to be talking more about their nighttime holiday stuff in a later post, but the park really feels the most like Christmas to me.
I think the decorations to me feel very sort of Mad Men– era. Which for some reason makes me think Christmas. It could be because it feels sort of glamorous (or glammer-ess if you prefer.) Or maybe because we have been known to host Mad Men-themed Christmas parties in the past. But most likely, it’s because Mad Men = whiskey. And whiskey = Christmas. Everyone knows that.
Hm, 4 Microsoft Word pages in and I haven’t even used a FastPass yet. We should really get a move on. Our first FastPass was scheduled for around 10AM so the kids and I made it over to Endor. On account of…
Yeah buddy. Star Tours. One of my favorites still. Star Tours is totally where it’s AT-AT.
Nickie has ridden Star Tours before but since our trips on Star Tours never go as planned (they never get us to our intended destination. We always end up being dragged into the rebellion) and the motion makes her a little sick, she sits this one out.
So the boys and I made our way through the queue…
And boarded our ship.
And as expected, we ended up being dragged into something we hadn’t planned for. Our trip first took us to the junk planet of Jakku in the middle of a chase between the Millenium Falcon and some TIE Fighters and then we got involved in a skirmish on the salt planet of Crait. So I obviously blamed our ruined trip on the First Order. I thought things were bad with the Empire.
So we walked out and all four of us marched straight to the Star Wars Launch Bay to complain. I demanded to speak to Kylo Ren. And my demands were met.
And when he met with us, I immediately….
..erm. I immediately told him what a great job he was doing and embraced the darkness.
We had some split FastPasses coming up so before we parted ways, the kids had a little snack break and picked up their first Mickey-shaped food of the trip.
And then we parted ways. Nickie and Myles had a FastPass for MuppetVision 3D and Owen and I had FastPasses for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. As we walked down Sunset, it beckoned us ominously against a grey sky.
Owen was even getting a little scared. I mean, I think he was. I am actually not sure what this face is supposed to be. He may have been turning into a zombie. So, either scared or zombie.
And so I mentioned it was crowded right? Even though we had a FastPass, we still ended up waiting like 30 minutes to get on. But I mean, the Tower of Terror queue is one of my favorites. So I used a lot of that time snapping pictures and taking in all the little details.
And when we finally got on, Owen and I were seated in the back row. Not the best seats but we still enjoyed the ride. Tower of Terror was at one point my favorite attraction in all of Walt Disney World. It has since been surpassed slightly but it still ranks high. Not only do I enjoy the random drops but I really love the story and the dark ride aspect of it. It’s terrifyingly good.
See what I did there.
But yeah, back row…
And for those of you wondering what it is we are doing, this pose was introduced to us as the Young Gravy pose by Myles. Who I guess is a singer/songwriter the kids listen to these days. But honestly, it’s really a Dr. Evil pose. I dunno. No one has an original pose these days.
Anyways, enjoy the many pictures we have of us doing the Young Gravy pose, originally made famous by Dr. Evil.
After Tower of Terror, the plan was to meet up at Baseline Tap House, yet another spot we had yet to try, before lunch. Yep, meeting up for food and drinks before lunch. And THIS is why we are friends, Disney.
I put in an order for some appetizers and drinks and we waited for Nickie and Myles to arrive. And then…I mean, they arrived. And we ate and had those drinks that I had ordered. Yeah, I’m not happy with that string of sentences either but every post can’t be The Great Gatsby.
We got a charcuterie and cheese plate. And I will contend that, at ten bucks, this is one of the better deals on Disney property. Had a good selection of meats and cheeses and a pretty good amount of food overall.
For myself, I got a beer flight. Which also, by Disney standards wasn’t too bad – 11 bucks – and you can pick whatever beers you want. Of which I remember none. I mean, I think I got a lager, an IPA, a Hefeweizen, and a Porter. I think. But I mean. Beer.
Since I knew Nickie wouldn’t be into a flight, I got her a lager. And for dessert…before lunch…we got a package of five Santa macarons. They were insanely cute…
And I thought they were tasty. I think they were an almond macaron with a hazelnut filling.
But enough of all that food. It was time for lunch.
OK, well not quite. We did first have a FastPass to use up. And it was a good one as it was one that could help us work up an appetite – Toy Story Mania! We made our way back over to Toy Story Land. Did I mention it was crowded.
And got to talk through the new Toy Story Mania entrance for the first time. In the FastPass line, you don’t really walk by Mr. Potato Head but you do get a glimpse of him.
We all donned our 3D glasses and we were off.
I rode with Myles while Nickie and Owen shared a car. I don’t mean to brag or anything but I beat all three of them. Wait, no. I totally mean to brag.
On our way out, of course we snapped a picture at the Popsicle Wall. Because we’re basic.
And since we hadn’t eaten in 15 minutes, we were starting to get hungry. With the crowds being what they were, it seemed a perfect time to do a little mobile ordering at Woody’s Lunchbox. We put our orders in, grabbed a table, and our food was ready within 10 minutes.
Nickie, Myles, and I all got the BBQ Brisket Melt with tots. I REFUSE to call them potato barrels.
Owen got the grilled cheese. And both the boys got root beer floats. Nickie and I got beers, obviously.
For dessert (because we legit NEEDED dessert) we got the seasonal lunch box tart – the Holiday Cinnamon Cran-Apple Lunch Box Tart.
Overall, lunch was…fine. Nothing special but it was ok. The sandwich was a tad disappointing as I thought it lacked any real flavor. And I mean, I love brisket. This just didn’t taste like much. The tart was also disappointing I thought. I didn’t realize all that white was fondant. I mean…what? FONDANT!?? What are you doing to me. And the whole tart was a bit dry. It was pretty though.
The beers however were nice and cold. So we had that going for us. Which is nice.
After lunch, we decided it was time to head back to the Wyndham for some pool time. So we walked out into the parking lot with initial plans to take the bus back. But as we were walking to the bus stop (which by the way was further away than usual I think…because of all the Skyliner construction) we decided to do a Lyft instead.
However, we couldn’t figure out where to catch the Lyft because of all the construction so we asked a nearby Cast Member where to catch one. And he said, “well I drive a Minnie Van. You just wanna take one of those? Like, for free.” And I mean, of course we were like ERM YES.
He led us over the van and we climbed on in.
And yeah, Minnie vans are a bit more expensive than a standard Lyft or Uber but they ARE nice. Super clean and always playing super cool music. It definitely felt kind of magical that we had scored a free ride. Especially on our Wyndham day with the buses and such.
He brought us to our hotel, we tipped him well, and we ran upstairs to get our bathing suits on. We grabbed a couple of beers and headed down to the pool.
And the pool area was so nice. It had a large main pool, a splash area, and a big hot tub.
And unlike some of the more popular pools at the Disney resorts, this place was definitely NOT crowded. At one point, Nickie and I had the hot tub to ourselves.
At one point, the boys even grabbed a basketball and played in the court next door. Pfft, they don’t know how to relax. N00bs.
I’d say we spent maybe an hour and a half hanging out, which helped to reenergize us for the night ahead. When we were ready, we called the boys over and we went back up to our room to get ready for the night.
We had another night planned at Disney Springs as we really wanted to take advantage of our time being so close. We walked back over the bridge…
And made right for the Christmas Tree Trail. Before entering the trail, we put our names in to meet Santa, which they told us would be an hour or so wait. But no big deal because they page you when the big man is ready to meet you. No waiting in line, nothing.
And we were off to see some trees. Get ready for some pictures.
First up was the Disney Springs tree – with ornaments for each restaurant and shop.
Then came the Mickey & Minnie tree. So cute.
And one of my personal favorites, the Pluto tree. I loved how it was covered in dog toys.
The tree topper on the Beauty and the Beast tree. Want.
By the time we got to the Sleeping Beauty tree, it had started snowing but I don’t know if this pic captured it well.
The Princess and the Frog tree was another favorite.
And then we came upon a snack stand in the middle of the trail. Nickie and I grabbed a couple beers and I picked up this little guy.
Not only is he cute, but you can stuff popcorn in his hollowed out carcass. Erm, it’s cuter than it sounds. And he comes with $2.00 refills throughout Walt Disney World for our entire stay. The bucket itself costs like 15 bucks with one fill of popcorn. My plan was to eat popcorn every day. You gotta have goals. And since refills were only $2.00, it was like I was getting paid to eat popcorn. Though not really. Since I was still paying.
Back to the trees. Bah, this Little Mermaid tree. Soooo purty.
And this Mulan tree? It’s based on the hit film, Mulan. Sorry, I’m running out of things to say about trees.
The Haunted Mansion tree also seemed to be a crowd favorite. That bride is legit.
The Pinocchio tree had a lot of cool details inside it.
Check out Monstro…
The 101 Dalmatians tree was awesome as well. On account of dogs.
And the Cinderella tree. That glass slipper tho.
And of course there was a villains tree. Because nothing says Christmas like a bunch of murderers.
Gah, I love you Dumbo.
So the Star Wars tree. Honestly, this was kind of disappointing. I didn’t love this one actually. Which is weird. On account of Star Wars.
So I mean. It’s not like we watch a lot of Robin Hood in our house or anything. But I kind of love that Robin Hood gets its own tree. Plus those targets are super cool.
Peter Pan is like my favorite Disney movie of all-time. So obviously I loved the tree.
The Tangled and Jungle Book tree were also both awesome.
And it was there we were walking past where Santa was meeting and taking pictures. Nickie checked on our time and the woman said no one was there at the moment so we could just jump right in and see Santa. SANTAAAAAAAA!!!!!
I seriously love these pictures.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re all like, “phew no more trees, right?” And I am all
Because there was also a Frozen tree. Because OF COURSE THERE WAS A FROZEN TREE.
And a pretty amazing Muppets tree.
And there was a little slice of UK-ness as there was both a Mary Poppins and an Alice in Wonderland tree.
The Fantasia and Toy Story trees rounded out all the film and character-related trees.
And the last tree of the bunch may very well have been the coolest – the Walt Disney World resort tree.
This thing had ornaments for all the parks, resorts, etc. and a monorail running around the entire tree.
Whoosh…ok I am all tree’d out. But the Christmas Tree Trail was very very cool. I loved the addition of the snack stops and they seemed to have really expanded the whole thing this year. Definitely worth a visit if you are at Disney Springs during the holidays.
When we left the trail, it was coming up on what a lot of people call the golden hour – the period just before sunset. It’s an amazing time to take some pictures. And Disney Springs provides quite the backdrop.
But we couldn’t spend too much time looking amazing and taking amazing pictures of our amazing selves. We had some business to attend to, as this super blurry picture I took can attest to…
We wanted to hit the Coca-Cola Rooftop Bar before dinner because I mean. It’s a bit of a walk up to the top, but the view is worth it.
The boys had their heart set on a float tray, which offers eight different Coke flavors each topped with vanilla ice cream. I believe there was Coke, Cherry Coke, Barq’s root beer, Sprite, Fanta grape soda, Fanta orange soda, Barq’s Red Crème, and Mr. Pibb.
I tried a couple and they were all actually very good. I really dug the Fanta Orange float.
Nickie and I (surprise) got adult beverages. Nickie got a Cuba Libre and I was goaded into getting Beverly’s Revenge, which was made with Beverly soda (yes, THAT Beverly soda!), gin, and blood orange liqueur. I just HAD to try it. And it wasn’t bad. Beverly soda is super bitter but it reminds me a lot of tonic water so this felt a lot like a slightly more bitter gin and tonic. Not terrible, but I would probably order something else next time.
OK, enough fooling around. It’s time to eat. Because we hadn’t done enough of that yet.
We had dinner reservations at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, which was a place we have been insanely looking forward to trying. We walked up and we were a little early for our reservations so they told us it would be a few minutes.
Nickie went up to the bar to grab us a couple drinks. She got a beer I think and I ordered an Angel’s Envy on the rocks.
The inside was very welcoming and decorated for the holidays.
We were seated relatively shortly after ordering our drinks at the bar. Once we got to the table, we ordered some appetizers to start – the bunch of puppies and the church lady deviled eggs.
The hush puppies were good. Very good actually. And the jalapeno jelly was a nice touch. But those deviled eggs. Those deviled eggs were like some sort of miracle. Seriously, I could have just kept ordering these as appetizer, entrée, and dessert and been completely happy. There was so much filling in these things…and that bacon. Ugh, I want them now.
For our entrée, Nickie and I split the fried chicken and doughnuts.
This may very well have been the best fried chicken I have ever had. The batter was crunchy and sweet and the chicken was super juicy. The doughnuts were tasty as well. As was the mashed potatoes that came with it.
We also ordered a side of momma’s mac and cheese.
The kids also ordered food I think. It’s all kind of a blur.
Owen got the kids’ chicken above, which he really seemed to like. And Myles got the same as Nickie and I – the fried chicken and doughnuts. Except he ate it all on his own. So proud.
While we were stuffed, the seasonal pumpkin bread pudding was too tempting to pass up.
Check out that sugar maple leaf in the middle! The bread pudding was very very good. I only could muster one bite because I was so stuffed but it was really good.
Our meal at Homecomin’ DID NOT disappoint. Everything was delicious and our servers wee great as well. We are definitely gonna head back there next time we are in WDW.
After dinner, we needed to walk off that meal a little bit. And what better way to do so than to do some shopping. We walked back to the World of Disney with one goal in mind – spend money.
The first thing I saw in the store was this.
All the princesses from Ralph Breaks the Intenet! It made me wish I had girls. Or didn’t feel weird about playing with dolls.
After walking around for a bit, the boys both settled on some pretty awesome purchases. Owen grabbed a black Oswald hoodie and Myles got a Mickey Mouse Club varsity jacket.
Whoosh. Seriously great day, no? So many new experiences today. Which is saying a lot since we go to Walt Disney World at least once a year. So if you guys go as much as we do (or more) and anyone ever asks, “Don’t you get sick of visiting the same place over and over again?” you should feel completely ok saying that you don’t. Place is different every time we come.
So that was Day 5….See you on Day 6 – our first Magic Kingdom day!!