Christmas at Disney’s Yacht Club

We knew we wanted to spend Christmas Day at Disney World (outside the parks for crowd and AP blockout reasons) and have Christmas dinner at one of the restaurants. We couldn’t decide which, though, so we changed our ressies several times. But when we read about the new Ale and Compass at the Yacht Club, we settled on that the day before. And we were so glad we did.

Of course we love the Yacht Club – it is our home resort at WDW ever since our first stay there back in 1999 (the Contemporary was Kathy’s first back in 1982). We were very impressed with Ale and Compass – the decor, the food, and the service.

Christmas Lunch
by Rich

Starter (Shared)
Oven-roasted Oysters
with Spinach and Creamed Kale, White Cheddar, and Cornbread Crumbs

Entree – Kathy
Maine Lobster Roll
with choice House-made Vinegar Chips

Entree – Rich
Open-faced Skirt Steak Sandwich
with Caramelized Onions, Poached Egg, Fennel, Watercress, and Tomato Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette

Wine – Kathy
Domaine Savary Chablis, Burgundy

Wine – Rich
Columbia Crest Grand Estates Syrah, Columbia Valley

The oven-roasted oysters were fabulous, just the right start to the meal. The breading and accompaniments to the oysters were in perfect proportion to the oysters.

Kathy’s lobster roll was wonderful – not over-dressed, just delicious chunks of lobster on a nicely-sized roll. Kathy enjoyed an ideal pairing of hard-to-find Chablis.

Rich’s medium-rare skirt steak was incredible – tender, juicy, and full of flavor. The caramelized onions and truffle vinaigrette were especially nice touches. The Syrah was a splendid pairing, achieving a lovely balance between blackberry fruit and sweet smokiness.

After our meal we walked the Boardwalk, stopping at our usual kissing spot, and popped into the Boardwalk where we were each offered a complimentary peppermint sugar cookie. We continued our walk full circle to the Yacht Club – Rich even skipped his usual Boardwalk skip – and two stools at the Hurricane Hanna pool bar called our names and we each had a Margarita.

We chatted with other guests from St. Augustine, noting that this is the real replacement for the Trout Pass Bar at Wilderness Lodge. It has the same vibe that Geyser Point sadly does not quite have with so many families gathering there.

After our cocktails and conversation (love this about Disney World), we were in search of coffee before we hit the road and ended up at Beaches and Cream where Rich got us two coffees and two ice cream sandwiches (huge but yummy – lol) while Kathy grabbed us a table overlooking Stormalong Bay.

We stopped in at the gift shop where Yacht Club coffee cups captured our attention, made our purchases and then we drive back to the beach.

It was a gorgeous day out – low 70s compared to mid 50s at the beach. What an awesomely perfect Christmas! Disney for the day was even better being able to return to our new home at the beach.

First Look at JBs Post Irma

JBs Fish Camp in New Smyrna Beach, with the ocean on one side and the intracoastal on the other, didn’t fare well with Hurricane Irma. In fact, the inside portion of the restaurant, including kitchen, is all being rebuilt. The outside bar with picnic tables is still there and we stopped in last week to get one of their Salted Sea Dogs, my favorite drink. Right away we saw how the parking lot and stage area is still a bit flooded.

The restaurant should reopen in 2 or 3 weeks.

Epcot Says “We’re Back!”

My excitement for the opening of Epcot in the fall of 1982 began early as I was privy to the attractions through work when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. Having grown up near Disneyland, I was motivated to visit WDW because of Epcot – not the Magic Kingdom. When Epcot first opened, you reserved a dining reservation by speaking to a CM through some kind of futuristic booth, which was such a thrill. My first meal was at San Angel Inn. Therefore, Epcot and San Angel Inn still signal “we’re back” on any trip to WDW.

Back then, living in California, I couldn’t get to WDW very often. I’d only been in 1982 and again in 1987. Rich and I took our first trip to WDW together in May of 1999 when we were determined to one day live in Orlando so we could fully enjoy this amazing World.

So, then, of course, when we first moved to Orlando in 2003, the first place we headed was Epcot. We remember so clearly staring up at Spaceship Earth as we approached the ticket window saying, “This is our local park now!”

Five years have passed since we were last at any of the WDW parks (in November we only stopped in at Disney Springs with dinner at Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge and boated over to Ft. Wilderness and back), and the excitement for Epcot was as high as it had ever been.

We arrived at around 9 a.m., parked in the first section and walked to the front gate, stopping in at bag check (Rich was wearing a small fanny pack – next time we might leave that behind), and entered with our brand new Annual Pass. Unfortunately, our Magic Bands did not arrive in time. We have them now and can’t wait to return to the parks with them – far more convenient.

We’re experiential people so all of those criticisms we voiced about all of this beforehand were silly – Rich is loving all the online stuff, reserved FP+ and dining all on his phone. We had an 11:10 a.m. FT+ for Test Track and a 1:30 p.m. for Spaceship Earth. But when we saw no line at Spaceship Earth, we headed right in. Ah, also important to be the first ride.

Then we headed for France in World Showcase for a morning pastry via Mouse Gear for a quick browse but nothing grabbed our interest. We hadn’t been to the Boulangerie since it started opening before 11 and expanded. We were surprised it was now located inside the France Pavilion. For some reason, we thought they’d built onto the old location. There was plenty of inside (air-conditioned) seating, which was a nice change.

I looked for my usual puff pastry with cream filling that I’d been eating since opening in 1982 but it was no where to be seen so I ordered a Napoleon, wondering if that was it. Rich ordered his usual Apple Tart. But when I saw what the Napoleon actually looked like, I cancelled it and didn’t know what to order. Rich pointed out the Beignet so I chose that.

We also got a cup of coffee to share and sat down. We were pleasantly surprised to discover the Beignet was filled with chocolate or hazelnut chocolate as Rich said. It was absolutely scrumptious and is now our new favorite pastry. Next time we’ll get two! We didn’t think to take pics until we’d already had a few bites. 🙂

We headed back to Future World and stopped in to visit Figment in Imagination. We love this ride – lol! Figment cracked me up, more than ever. Is it my age or because we haven’t seen him in a while?

Then it was almost time for our Test Track FP+. We waited for about 10 minutes and then 5 minutes before, we were allowed in. This was our first ride since it was updated and found the design part to be more fun than just watching a move like before. We created an outrageous car that was pretty fast. And then on the open track, we were racing so fast, I realized this may be another ride on the list of “too old for” these days. After hitting my head on a train and tripping in Mazatlan, I’m becoming a bite more cautious. And that’s okay. There’s still plenty of fun to be had.

After our ride, we were hungry and headed for the Cantina in Mexico. It was packed and getting hot out and we really wanted to eat at San Angel – after all, that’s our traditional go to meal on our first day. For some reason, we thought the Cantina would be fine. We checked the dining app but it showed there weren’t any more ressies to be had until 2 p.m. Still, we approached the podium and asked if we could be seated and, yes, they found us in their system and we only waited for about 5 or 10 minutes. We were seated a table away from the tables on the end with the view of the boats.

What a thrill to be back here! We both ordered tacos – pork for Rich and beef for me – and two House Margaritas. I have no idea why but I forgot to take any pics of the Margaritas. Guess we were just too busy enjoying ourselves and our drinks. It was dark in there so the photos didn’t come out that well, but we had a blast!

Tacos de Carne (Beef tacos with Flour Tortillas)

Taco al Pastor (Pork tacos with Corn Tortillas)

The photo that says, “We are back and having a blast!” We also realized that one reason we were having such a blast is that it’s been a while since we’ve been. We don’t plan on wearing it out like we did when we lived 2 miles from Cinderella Castle.

We were tempted to walk the loop around World Showcase but by now it was getting late, we were tired, and it was hot so we exited World Showcase, waved at Pluto on the way, made our way through Future World, and out to the parking lot, got in our Jeep, and drove home. It was around 1 p.m. by this time so we were in the parks for 4 hours, having clocked 4 miles. What a memorable day!