I went to Disney World with the in-laws for winter holiday festivities and togetherness time. I hadn't been since winter 95 or so, and the park has expanded a lot since then!
I won't go into excruciating detail here, since there's no easy way to cut text on Blogger, so you just get the highlights.
- We stayed in the Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs. They were nice, and recently renovated and updated. They were a bit further from more social things than I may have liked (the restaurant in the main house and pool were a bit far to walk), but they were comfortable and quiet.
- The Disney Dining Plan is more trouble than it's worth. It meant that one was limited to choosing certain items, when one may have preferred something else, so as not to waste the pre-paid food options.
- We ate at Marrakesh (Morocco pavilion, Epcot), Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge), Kona Cafe (Grand Polynesian), the Rose and Crown (UK pavilion, Epcot), the Electric Umbrella (Epcot), Columbia Harbour House (Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom), and a place in The Land whose name I forget. The Dole Whip float was awesome: soft-serve pineapple ice cream in pineapple juice. Hit the spot!
- The new Everest ride goes backward in the dark, and I don't recommend it.
- Space Mountain is still fun.
- Kilimanjaro Safari is best early in the morning, when the critters are active.
- The Jack Sparrow insertions into Pirates are subtle and well-done.
- Haunted Mansion is still cheese-tastic.
- IllumiNations is best viewed from Norway.
- Spectromagic is as much fun as it was when I was 6, even if they changed it a lot (and don't call it Mickey's Electric Light Parade anymore.)
- I got my picture with Thumper, Donald, Lilo & Stitch, and Aladdin & Jasmine.
- I got an Eeyore plush in safari costume, with a detachable Velcro tail.
It's too bad that you were apparently misinformed about the Disney Dining Plan. The DDP is absolutely worth it. And, you are not limited to "certain" items, in fact, one of the great things about the plan is that you can order the most expensive items on the menus and not pay any more. You are, however, limited to 1 entree, 1 dessert, and 1 non-alcoholic beverage. Previously, an appetizer was included, but because there were so many complaints about too much food that people felt obligated to eat, that was discontinued.
The counter service at The Land didn't include the sandwiches in the coolers, only the items at the counters (though you could get your dessert from there if you wanted fruit.) I'd rather have had a sandwich from the cooler than the one I got, which was OK, but full of olives and other nasty things.
Mainly my problem was that there were times when I'd rather have gotten something that *wasn't* included in the plan (as indicated by the ddp icon next to it on the menu or in the cooler), but I felt obligated to use the dining plan.
Even with just the entree and dessert (at lunch *and* dinner!), I gained 2 pounds in 4 days.
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