Day 10 is here! Isn’t that exciting!
Well, you probably don’t know it yet, but it is. It is exciting. Day 10 was a really great day. It’s not technically a park day. Technically. But we do have our best meal of the trip, get some nice relaxation time in, and we attend the Christmas party.
Day 10 –First, brunch. Then, party.
On Day 10, we didn’t have much going on in the morning until around 11AM or so. So, I took advantage of that downtime and started the day with a run. I woke up at around 8AM, threw on my running clothes and got out onto the Boardwalk.
I have mentioned it before, but I love running the boardwalk in the morning. It’s a really pretty run. I typically do a couple loops around the boardwalk itself and run the path down to Hollywood Studios and back.
The Hollywood Studios path is nice as it takes you down along the river to Hollywood Studios and back. But interestingly, as I was jogging it today, I noticed a little dirt path to the left. I decided to take it and it took me out to a path along the main road. I kept running it and I ended up at the front entrance of the BoardWalk Inn, which works out because you can take the stairs near the front door directly back out onto the boardwalk.
All in all, MapMyRun said I did a little over 3 miles so I headed back to the room to find everyone getting ready for the day. We were all wearing nicer clothes today as we had a fancytown meal planned. So I jumped in the shower, got a button-down and khakis on, and we headed out.
Destination? Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Why? Because we had reservations for brunch at The California Grill! So excited my head was about to explode.
Brunch is the best. I love things that take two good things and combine them to make one great thing. Brunch is basically the liger of meals.
Well not just yet. We got to the resort a little early so we spent some time looking through the shops. We love looking around Bay View Gifts as they always have a lot of unique stuff you can’t find at every shop and they do a good job of keeping pretty much all the Christmas stuff in stock.
And they had this tree, which we could not stop touching. And I’m sure we weren’t the only ones that couldn’t stop touching this thing. So it felt sort of like a combination of softness and H1N1.
But soon enough, it was time for brunch. So we headed downstairs to board the private California Grill elevator and up we went.
This was the meal Nickie and I were most looking forward to for the whole trip. And I think it deserves a pretty thorough run-down here. First off, the logistics. California Grill is located at the tippity top of the Contemporary. We have had dinner here many times, but the brunch is a relatively new option. The brunch is only offered on Sundays from 10AM to 1PM and currently costs $95.85 per adult and $57.51 per child. When we booked, it was $80 per adult but it doesn’t really matter since we were using our dining plan credits for it. Using the dining plan, this requires 2 dining credits (same as any signature.)
So yeah, it’s expensive. And whenever we have talked to other Disney people about this one, the question always comes up – is it worth it? And honestly, that’s a tough question to ask. We would have ended up paying close to $500 for our entire meal, including additional drinks, tax, and tip if not for the dining plan and I mean, its hard to say whether a meal is worth that cost. Like, ever. I would still pay that and more for a great meal but if you are looking for a “bang for your buck” comparison to other meals on property, it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison.
I will say I loved my meal. Everything was perfection. And I would 100% do it again in the future. In fact, I would say this feels like a must-get meal for every trip going forward. I am going to get into the details in just a minute, but overall this was perhaps the best meal I have ever had at Walt Disney World. Ever.
When we got off the elevator, this was pretty much the first thing we saw.
I mean, there were maybe other things we saw but when there is a table of mimosas, tunnel vision kind of takes over. And these were kind of interesting mimosas. They are made with Boba pearls and Rose Champagne.
And they were included. Like right when you get off the elevator, they offer you one. And. AND. They are unlimited if you would like. There are also non-alcoholic children’s mimosas, but the kids didn’t partake. I do love that they still call them mimosas so kids can still pretend they have drinking problems. It’s like the candy cigarettes of 2018.
They also had a cute frame to use for a picture so I mean of course.
And throughout your meal, they also have live musicians playing.
They really added to the feel of the whole thing. During our Day 10 meal, they played a mix of jazz, Disney tunes, and Christmas music.
We were led to our table and we sat down.
Actually, nope. We were led to our table and it was up against a wall right next to an empty table with an amazing view. So Nickie asked if we could move to that table and our hostess gladly obliged. Nobody puts the Goodys in a corner.
Our view though.
As I said, we had been to California Grill before for dinner but the view felt even more spectacular during the day. I mean, no fireworks or anything, but you could see so much. And it didn’t hurt that it was a beautiful, sunny day outside.
The waitress brought us some delicious coffee and explained how everything worked.
Basically, a meal at the California Grill includes a trip to the buffet (which I will get to in a minute) as well as a plated entrée. The bottomless mimosas are also included, as I mentioned before. There is also a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar (which I will also get to in a minute), which is an additional charge of, I think, like 14 bucks maybe? If you are using the dining plan though, this counts as your included alcoholic beverage. Score!
My first stop, then, was the Bloody Mary bar.
When I walked up to the bar, an attendant came up and took me through what I could use to make my perfect bloody.
The drink starts with Belvedere vodka and you can add celery, shrimp, horseradish…
Any additional hot sauce of your choosing…
And any condiments you would like to add. There were blue cheese stuffed olives, candied bacon, pepperoncini, jalapeno, and a number of different meats.
I went with some extra horseradish, some tabasco, shrimp (of course), bacon (double of course), pepperoncini and some sort of cured meat stick. Oh and celery to keep things healthy.
When we got back to the table, our server (who was great by the way) took our entrée orders. I’ll get into what we ordered in a bit. But after she left the table, we made our way to the buffet. And this buffet was LEGIT.
There were some normal continental breakfast-type offerings such as bagels and accompanying spreads.
Assorted croissants and rolls…
But there was a lot more. Like so much charcuterie.
And quiches and salads.
And deviled eggs.
There was also a station where a chef was making these bourbon babas, which are like these little bourbon soaked shortcakes served with ice cream and covered in walnuts and cornflakes. They had me at “bourbon soaked.”
My first plate had some sushi (both the rolls and nigiri), some meats and cheese from the charcuterie, quiche, deviled eggs, some different breads, and a chocolate croissant.
It was all really good. The sushi was insanely fresh, especially the nigiri pieces. And the charcuterie had a super duper assortment of meats and cheeses.
I also got an extra plate of sushi as everyone at the table (yes, including Nickie) had decided they wanted to try sushi for the first time. I got a couple rolls to start them off and some nigiri (if they made it past the rolls.)
And erm. The experiment was a failure. No one else was into the whole sushi thing. But at least they tried it. AND I got to finish their plate. So win-win. Well, except for everyone else. No one else won. I was really the only one that won. So, win. For me. Best kind.
I saw the baba as a dessert. Well a before-entrée dessert. I love Disney. It’s so hard going back to normal eating patterns after a Disney vacation. One dessert per meal? Whatever. Fascist.
Thing was good. Warm desserts with ice cream on top are like the best. But warm desserts with ice cream on top soaked in bourbon are like the even bestests.
Like I said, we had already ordered our entrees before we went up to the buffet but I wanted to wait until now to let you know how that all went.
Nickie started off and ordered the blueberry pancakes.
Nickie said they were delicious but this was by far the most boring order at the table. Congrats hun. They did come with a vanilla custard on top so even blueberry pancakes are a little more exciting at California Grill.
Owen ordered the steak and eggs. And like, this steak? It’s not like a normal steak and eggs steak. This steak was like STEAK.
To be fair, he ordered the steak without the charred tomato sauce and lime aioli above but I forgot to take a picture of the sauce-less steak. So why did I have a steak WITH sauce on it? I’m getting to that. It’s called build up. Yeesh.
Then, it came to me and Myles. I told the waitress I couldn’t decide between the lobster eggs benedict and the steak and eggs. So she said, “ok, both then” and wrote the order down. Two entrees. This was my Christmas morning.
Both entrees were legit perfect. Seriously. The steak was cooked perfectly medium rare and was insanely tender and juicy. And that charred tomato and lime aioli on top added some incredible flavor. It was amazing.
And yet, it was topped by the lobster eggs benedict. I’ll be honest. I have more times than once ordered sub-par lobster eggs benedict. I have run into not-so-fresh lobster with this dish that sometimes scares me away from ordering it. This lobster was very, very fresh. This is by far the best lobster eggs benedict I have ever had. That lobster benedict and I shared something special that day. I love you, lobster benedict.
Myles was having a similar dilemma. He couldn’t decide between the chicken and waffles and the blueberry pancakes. The waitress said he should get both because some have not liked the chicken and waffles when they’ve gotten it here as it’s a little different than your standard chicken and waffles. I love that I live in a time where there is a such thing as a standard chicken and waffles. I mean, I get it that we live in uncertain times but when I was a kid, I would have never conceived of something like chicken and waffles. Kids today can just walk into a KFC and be like, “chicken and waffles.”
I already showed you the pancakes, but here are the chicken and waffles.
And the waitress was right. Myles ate all his pancakes but he didn’t eat a ton of his chicken and waffles. The main difference between this dish and a regular plate of chicken and waffles is that the waffle is a savory cornmeal waffle rather than sweet. I think that was a bit off-putting for Myles as he likes chicken and waffles most often because it’s a good mix of savory and sweet. While the syrup here added a dash of sweetness, it leaned much more savory with the chicken, waffle, and gravy on top.
After we finished our entrees, the waitress informed us it was time for dessert. Every table gets the same dessert, which today was a shareable plate of cookies, pastries, macarons, truffles, and this almond apricot bark. She informed us we could take it to go but still wanted to deliver it to our table so we could enjoy the pageantry of it all. I mean, look at those truffles. And LOOK at that ceramic plate. It’s so ceramic.
We looked, took some pictures, and she brought us a box so we could take them back to the room with us.
I did partake of some of these later in the day. The macarons, truffles, and the apricot bark were sooooo good.
This was, without a doubt, the best meal I have ever had at Disney. The food was incredible from start to end but it wasn’t just about that. This meal had it all. An amazing view. Live music. Great drinks. Impeccable service. It just felt very VIP. It’s expensive, for sure. But it’s for sure something I would do again and again. And we all shared that opinion. We were worried the kids wouldn’t get much out of this meal but they really appreciated it as well. Was it worth it? Again, that’s a tough question to answer because it depends on how you determine value. But was it money well spent? Absolutely.
Alas, we had to leave at some point so we decided to get a walk in to let our food digest and we took the path over to the Magic Kingdom to grab a bus back to the Beach Club. We had an open afternoon so the boys wanted to spend a little time chilling out in the room while Nickie and brought a bottle of wine down to the quiet pool to swim and enjoy the hot tub.
I do miss the kids being little at Disney, but it is also nice that Nickie and I can get some alone time and the kids can enjoy time being alone as well.
When we got back to the room, I started searching for the decorations I brought to decorate our room for Nickie’s birthday the next day and couldn’t find them anywhere. I searched every cabinet and closet but they were nowhere to be found. I came to the conclusion that Mousekeeping must have thrown them away because they were in a bag that looked kind of like a trash bag. And also Nickie had placed the bag literally next to the trash can. In the cabinet with the trash barrel. We are our own worst enemies.
I called the front desk and they did some investigating but to no avail. The woman on the phone asked me what the decorations were and I informed her they were princess decorations and a birthday card. And everything was gold plated and covered with diamonds. And signed by President Obama.
I mean, most of that was true. She said she would have a runner go to the store and give us a credit on our account. Both of which I told her was definitely not necessary. Mistakes happen. I may run into Barack again. But she insisted. Later that night, I came back to all this in the room.
OK fine. Not really “princess” but still A for effort. A- at least.
Aside from the whole Hardy Boys and the Case of the Missing Decorations thing, it was a relaxing afternoon for all of us. Which was 100% needed as we had big plans for the night. We were attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! Aw saddity kitty.
Our ensembles for the evening were pajamas. Sort of. The boys wore Mickey pajama pants and Boston sports jerseys and Nickie and I wore our Mickey pajama pants with our trip t-shirts. I will say though – we got a lot of compliments on our pajama pants. Which is good. Because I crave acceptance.
We didn’t make any big dinner reservations for the night because we wanted to take advantage of all the snack-a-lacking at the party. But we did need something to eat. And since Nickie and Owen hadn’t been there yet, we decided to eat at the Polynesian. And again to save room for our planned party snacking, we are at the resort’s counter service location – Captain Cook’s.
While this place is just a little counter-service place, we have always enjoyed the food here and we really like sitting outside at the Poly. Especially Nickie. Look how much she likes sitting outside at the Poly.
In case you’re wondering, I got Nickie’s ears at the LeBownitte Etsy shop – good stuff there!
For dinner, Owen got the chicken nuggets with fries and apple slices.
Myles got the hot dog and fries. And a side of iPhone.
Nickie ordered the grilled chicken sandwich with cheddar, bacon, teriyaki sauce, and pineapple with a side of fries and a Bud Light.
And I got the Aloha Pork Sandwich (pulled pork on a brioche bun with cheddar, Asian slaw, cucumbers, and tomatoes) with a side of fries and a Bud Light as well.
While it wasn’t exactly the California Grill brunch, it hit the spot.
While we were plenty satisfied, we couldn’t leave the Poly just yet. Since this would probably be the last chance I would have to get to the Polynesian this trip AND our last chance for alcohol for the night given we were going to the Magic Kingdom, I had to get myself one more thing. We walked up to the Tambu Lounge. The kids made themselves comfortable…
And I went up to the bar to order for Nickie and I. Nickie wanted a Captain’s Mai Tai and I ordered myself a LAPU LAPU…
Oh, Lapu Lapu. How do I love thee. Let me count the…hiccup.
Onto the Magic Kingdom!
We hopped on the monorail and soon we were thurr.
It was before 6PM and technically the party doesn’t start until 7PM (they actually let party guests in starting at 4PM), so everyone coming in for the party goes in and immediately is directed down a secret path behind the buildings of Main St. Which is kinda cool.
And down the path, we are given our first treat of the party – a Santa Mickey cookie!
For those that don’t know, there are these treat stops throughout the party that give out “free” snacks and drinks to party-goers. And by “free” I mean we paid like 400 bucks for said cookies. So they are free in the same way that the cup of coffee I got at the car dealership when I bought my car was free. Or the box my TV came in was free.
But they definitely have stepped it up in terms of the free treats. It used to be the same snickerdoodles and hot chocolate at every stop but now they have a variety of cookies and they also hand out other snacks at different stops such as chocolates and soft pretzels. The drinks vary at the stops too – the hot chocolate is still there, but there is also egg nog, cider, and chocolate milk depending on the stop. A couple even have snow cones. I’ll get to all those later though. On with the party!
Since we had seen most of the same shows last year, our plan this year was to walk around, ride some rides with smaller lines, get our treats, and catch the parade. We wanted to take it easier this year than last so we could just relax and enjoy the party.
Our first stop was Tomorrowland.
The lines were starting to thin out at this point but we were still in that nebulous period where normal park guests and party guests were in the park together. So we hopped on The PeopleMover first as the wait was next to nothing. And also it’s awesome.
Look at us. We’re people. And we’re moving.
I do love the PeopleMover though. One of my favorites. And I think it’s a sign of a true Walt Disney World fan when they say this is one of their favorite rides. When a ride that basically shows you other rides you could be riding instead of this one is your favorite ride, you get it. It’s quintessential Disney.
Next, we made our way to Fantasyland and the boys and I rode The Barnstomer
Even though the party still hadn’t officially started, Fantasyland looked all kinds of Christmas and we could hear Christmas music playing as we walked through.
We pretty much just walked right onto Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid. Which made Owen less…crabby.
Get it? Crabby? Because Sebastian is a crab.
After the ride was over, the party had officially begun. So not bad – we got in three attractions before the party even started. We decided to reward ourselves by paying for a treat when there are free ones everywhere. We have weird ways of celebrating things, I know. But this treat was a party exclusive over at Gaston’s – the Vanellope éclair!
And fine, it wasn’t a “free” treat but it WAS a snack credit. So still kinda “free” in the same “I actually paid for this” way.
This éclair though. It ended up being one of our favorite things. It was an éclair with this caramel-type cream inside. And on the outside? FRUITY FRIKKIN PEBBLES. Aw yeah. And the whole thing is topped with a cute little Vanellope chocolate piece.
Our next stop was Adventureland.
Why Adventureland, you say? Because I was determined to get a “free” treat I missed out on at last year’s party. This whole situation.
Why yes, that IS a snowman shaped soft pretzel and sno-cone. Look at this little guy.
While we were enjoying our freeish treats, I noticed it was like no wait to get on Splash Mountain so I asked if anyone wanted to jump on it. And well, everyone else was just a big lame. So I decided to go it alone. It’s what Santa would have done.
And I walked right on. Like literally no one was in line.
Splash is a nearly perfect ride. Solid story, good length, it’s both relaxing AND packs some thrills. Plus you get to take an awesome on-ride photo.
Once off Splash, I walked over to meet the rest of the crew at the wildest ride in the wilderness – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. One of our favorites, especially at night.
While we were on the ride, Nickie got this awesome picture taken of her. It’s awesome partly because of the lantern and mostly because it’s a picture of Nickie. On account of she’s pretty.
The waits had definitely hit party levels so next up was the Haunted Mansion.
I rode with Nickie and the boys rode together. Which worked out because I get really scared on that ride and Nickie makes me feel safe.
After we narrowly escaped becoming the 1000th haunt, it was probably time for another free-like treat. So we headed to the Golden Horseshoe for what was probably the best cookie of the night.
Ladies and gentlemen of my made-up cookie jury, I give you the ginger molasses cookie.
Soooooo good…and they paired it with some super delicious egg nog.
Being that we were at a Christmas party, we figured it was time to hit the Jingle Cruise. Which is like the Jungle Cruise, only more “jingle”-y. And of course I took a picture of the tree.
I kind of love this whole thing so much. Love a good Christmas overlay and this one is even better because of the addition of Christmas puns. Which are the best kinds of puns.
Then it was time for some merch. We always come back from our Disney trips with an ornament to remember our trip and this year, I really wanted to get one of the exclusive Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party ones. I went over to Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe and got my ornament on.
Yeah, got my ornament on.
It’s something the kids say these days. It means “buying a Christmas ornament.”
We still had a little bit of time before the 11:00 PM parade so the boys and I took advantage of nearly no wait and jumped on Space Mountain for one last ride of the night.
And with that, it meant that I…and I alone…had conquered all three mountains over the course of the party. Which I guess was something. Feel free to leave your accolades in the comment section below. I deserve them.
Last year, we watched the Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime parade from Frontierland. And while that was a cool place to watch the parade from, we wanted to be able to see it on Main Street this year. With the snow and everything. So we made our way down Main St to find a spot. Being that it was under an hour to parade time and everyone else would also like to watch the parade from Main Street, finding a spot was a tad tough.
While we were walking down Main Street anyways, we decided to stop and get a few PhotoPass pictures taken with the castle in the background and the snow falling.
And while there, we asked the photographer if she had any ideas on where to find a spot for the parade. She suggested we check the area in front of the barber shop, across from the Firehouse. And it was a great spot. This is where the parade actually ends so it comes by you and goes through the gate. And when we got there, close to a half hour before the parade was going to start, there was no one sitting there.
And being across from the Firehouse meant we could also grab our party-exclusive Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card. This year it was the Tiki Tiki Tiki Room’s Four Cawing Birds.
Soon enough, we heard the music coming down Main Street, signaling the parade was close. It really was a great spot to see the parade.
We had a great view of all the characters and floats.
And of the snow over the Magic Kingdom tree.
It was awesome having a front row seat. Not only did we get a lot of characters coming over to us, but we had a perfect view of each float as it came by. And we could definitely smell them as well.
Clarabelle’s float smelled just like cookies.
And you could smell the candy on Goofy’s float before he even got there.
The parade ended with the big man himself – Santa!!! I KNOW HIM!!
This is by far my favorite of ALLLLL the Disney parades. I love the Festival of Fantasy and the Boo to You Parade but there is just something special about this one. The music. The smells. The snow falling on Main St. It’s legit perfect.
And a perfect way to end a pretty amazing day.
Hope you enjoyed our Day 10. And stay tuned for Day 11, where we DIsneybound for Nickie’s birthday.