A Disney Christmas: 2 Parks, 3 Resorts, 1 Festival Kicks Off Moving Week

We took today off to have some Christmas fun at Disney before moving week begins.

We noticed that Christmas magnets for AP holders were available at Disney Studios and we wanted to tour Epcot’s Holiday Festival so the plan was to park at Disney Studios and then boat over to Epcot. Genius, right? Surely, this was better than parking in the Epcot lot and walking through Future World just to get to World Showcase. Surely, this approach would be a breeze, saving our poor feet significant steps.

Normally, when we do the Epcot thing we clock about 4 miles. With this new shorter plan we clocked 6 miles. Lol! Maybe because instead of staying on the boat, we got off at the Yacht and Beach Club and the Boardwalk to check out the Christmas decorations and then walked to/fro Epcot.

The highlights were: Disney Studios Christmas decorations, tacos and Margaritas at the Cantina in Mexico, the Kir at the Festival Marketplace in France, the awesome Canadian Holiday band, and the Butter Brickle Ice Cream at Ample Hills Creamery.

 

Epcot 2017 Food and Wine Festival, Part One

So we finally made it to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival this year. Actually, it was the traditional kickoff weekend, as well as our tradition, too. And it also aligned with the 35th Anniversary of Epcot’s Opening Day.

In spite of the crowds, we managed to sneak off early and catch a few booths before the rest caught up with us. Everything we tried was tasty, but Rich’s favorite was the chicken with peanut sauce from Thailand. It reminded me of my trip to Thailand several years ago.

We plan to drop in on Epcot a couple of evenings to taste some of our other favorites, to try some new offerings since our last visit, and to enjoy the nighttime atmosphere and live music.

More tasty treats from Africa, Germany, Mexico, Thailand and New Zealand.

Disney World Resort Lounge Hopping, Part 1

We debated on whether to go to the Food & Wine Festival on Saturday, but decided against it because it’s too soon, too hot, and too crowded on this Labor Day weekend. We always thought it was way too hot to enjoy the food and drink when it used to begin the end of September – let alone the beginning of September. So we’ll wait awhile to start our tasting around the World.

Instead, we headed for Wilderness Lodge for drinks and snack in Territory Lounge Saturday evening. Rich dropped me off at the porte cochere and I went in to see if I could snag us a table. I not only found the table we had last time but I found one even better in the corner with two comfy chairs.

After our usual vodka martinis, we had the pizza again but this time also tried the wings – so incredibly tasty. But too much in one sitting so we brought them home for a little snack.

It had been raining quite hard but by the time we were done, it was barely drizzling so we popped into Roaring Forks and got a gingerbread cookie and sat outside in the new covered outdoor seating area and shared it. First we said we’d each have a bite, but one bite became two and we said it would taste far better there than it would at home so we finished it off – lol!

Then we walked down to Geyser Point and noticed how busy it was with families. We continued strolling the grounds and went back in for one more walk through the gift shop, and then headed back home. What fun!

As always, Wilderness Lodge wraps around you like a big bear hug – can’t we just live there while waiting for our house to be built? 🙂

Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ at Disney Springs Feels Like Coming Home

Let’s be honest – when you make a bold change, you turn your life upside down. And I’ve done this more than a few times through marriage, divorce, religious conversion, a quest to find dad, inter state moves, cross country moves, and moves across town. They’re all stressful no matter how much you want or don’t want them.

Art Smith’s Homecomin’ at Disney Springs was exactly what was needed after 16 weeks of living in temporary housing after leaving our home in Las Vegas, no matter how fancy or resort-like this place may be. Along about now, we need a little dose of home.

We arrived early for our 7:40 reservation but as soon as we sat down at an outside table with our beeper, it went off and we were seated on the screened porch at our request. Right away we were immersed in the down home southern hospitality feeling as if we were visiting family.

The Screened Porch Bar

David introduced himself and he was an excellent server, attentive, and genuinely likeable. He told us something about Art Smith, although we were already quite familiar with him, made his recommendations, and took our order.

For our meal, we chose to share a few appetizers and drinks, fully aware of budget and calories, as we must be with frequent trips to Disney as locals.

Rich started with the Bootlegger and I had the Moonshine Margarita, which were tasty twists on a classic Rum Runner and Margarita.

We then shared the Church Lady Deviled Eggs, Fried Green Tomatoes, and the Thigh High Chicken (with Cheddar) Biscuits. All were delicious but the biscuits were our favorite.

It was a fabulous night with great food, drink, atmosphere and company with a nice dose of home, taking me back to my childhood and a southern grandma’s cooking, where you’re always welcome, greeted with hugs and love and good food.

Looking back at the porch, saying our good nights.

We’ll be back, though, because there is just so much more deliciousness to be tasted. But, for now, we’re going to take a break from catching up with these new restaurants and focus on the house build. Oh, yeah, and the Food & Wine Festival, too. 🙂

Anniversary Celebration at Morimoto Asia

By Rich

After driving through a huge Florida rain storm to get to Disney Springs, we were pleased that the weather had cleared as we arrived for our anniversary dinner at Morimoto Asia. This restaurant has been on our list of must-dos since we first heard about it.

We checked in at the front desk at 7:10 for our 7:30 reservation. We were seated immediately at a table for two upstairs along the glass railing overlooking the downstairs dining room. This was a great location. It was less crowded than downstairs, and we had a great view of the whole restaurant.

Before arriving, we had reviewed the menu and selected what we wanted to eat and drink. However, when we looked at the menu, and then talked with our server, we found out that the drinks we were expecting to order (Singapore Sling for Kathy, a Morimotini for me) were no longer available. Instead, we both chose the Momo Mai Tai. It was a very tasty, and potent, choice. We did manage to order the four appetizers we had planned.

Menu

Drinks

Momo Mai Tai

Wicked Dolphin Dark Rum, Cruzan Light Rum, Passion Fruit, Blood Orange, orgeat, Pineapple

Appetizers

Rock Shrimp Tempura

Signature tempura rock shrimp, spicy gochujang aioli

Tuna Pizza

Crispy tortilla, tuna sashimi, tomato, jalapeño, anchovy aioli

Morimoto Spare Ribs

Pork ribs, cilantro, hoisin sweet chili glaze

Kakuni Pork Bao

Steamed buns, braised pork belly, lettuce, spicy mayo

Dessert

Cream Caramel

Yuzu caramel sauce, black sesame whipped cream, black sesame air cake

The architecture and atmosphere at Morimoto Asia is amazing. Well-conceived modern Asian design with interesting seating and decorations. It was fun just to look around at everything. The ambiance created a perfect setting for us to share our celebratory anniversary experience.

After we sorted out our drink order, we ordered the first three appetizers (minus the Pork Bao). Once the other appetizers arrived, we realized we wanted the Pork Bao too and added that to our order. Sharing small plates over a couple yummy drinks is one of our favorite ways to dine. And this was the epitome of this kind of dining.

I could not share the shrimp, but Kathy was blown away by the great flavors of this signature dish from Morimoto. The tuna pizza, another signature dish, was full of flavor and texture, enhanced even more when our server brought us some soy sauce to drizzle on it. Wow!

The spare ribs were the ideal sticky, Asian-style ribs we love so much. We could have eaten more of these. And the savory steam buns were filled with flavorful pork belly and a mayo with some kick.

Kathy asked me which appetizer was my favorite, and I didn’t have an answer. They were all incredible.

We were unsure if we wanted dessert, but since we wanted to linger, we decided to share an order of the cream caramel. We had a bit of a wait for the dessert to be delivered. The cream caramel itself was rich and delicious. The black sesame whipped cream and air cake added a bit of an odd savory flavor, but nonetheless, this was a nice ending to a marvelous anniversary dinner.

We’ve had some incredible dining experiences in our 21 years of marriage, and this ranks up there as one of the best.

Thoughts by Kathy:

As fans of all those cooking shows on TV, we were really curious about Morimoto’s food. And then when Deb Wills talked about the new late night cocktail menu and how, in her younger days, she might have downed them all – lol – well, we just had to experience this. And I know exactly what she means. Really cool vibe – kind of like an updated contemporary 70s Disco – at least like the one I used to frequent several nights a week. All that was missing was the dance floor. Oh, and maybe some disco balls.

The food was amazing and even the Mai Tai had a special flavor of its own. Rich couldn’t help me with the Shrimp so I took some of it home and had it for lunch the next day – yum!

We didn’t announce our anniversary, unlike our birthdays. Last year was the big 20th anniversary cruise and we wanted to play it a little more low key this year.

This was our first time at Disney Springs at night and it is so fabulous – very Vegas in a good way and now trumps Downtown Disney at Disneyland.

We stopped by Art Smith’s Homecoming, which we’re hoping to check out later this fall when we might be more in the mood for a bigger meal. It looked quite inviting and I’m sure it’s delicious, but I don’t really eat fried chicken any more. Still, we do want to try it.

Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming

Outside seating for street fare, Morimoto’s

Entrance to Morimoto Asia

Floating staircase leading to upstairs dining

Table for two seating along the upstairs rail

Morimoto’s Mai Tai – delish!

Rich enjoyed his Mai Tai

Kathy enjoying her Mai Tai in lieu of Singapore Sling, which is no more

 

Signature dish – tuna pizza

Signature dish – shrimp tempura

Ribs, appetizer portion

Bao buns

Cream caramel

After our meal, we strolled around Disney Springs to take a look after dark, stopped to listen to a band, and then a night time view of Morimoto’s all lit up – really cool!

Evening entertainment Tuesday-Thursday

Amphicar

The Boathouse at night

Morimoto’s all lit up

100 Days In, 100 Days Out

It’s been 100 days since we left our house in Las Vegas and checked into a local Residence Inn. Rich supervised the packing/loading of the long haul movers while I stayed with the cats. Leaving our home was the hard part about leaving Las Vegas.

We met with the construction manager yesterday and we all laughed about how nobody says, “Oh, take your time. We’re in no hurry to move into our new home.” He asked what we were living in, “An apartment?” and we laughed again when we said, “Yeah, we’re pretty squished in there.” “Yeah, yeah,” he’d heard all of that before. lol!

He told us the houses have been taking about 100 days to build, then there are two weeks of inspections, closing, etc. The move-in date could vary depending on weather or if things go faster than expected.

We’re so done living in this apartment. Rearranging furniture every couple of weeks because the same old thing gets quite claustrophobic. The cats are also feeling the lack of space – they start yelling at us by 3 or 4 a.m. if not sooner. And there’s no place to escape – we’re right there. So, needless to say, neither of us have been getting enough sleep.

I lie awake for hours at night sometimes, as time seems to stand still. The Disney outings are amazing and I’m very thankful we have those distractions – we’ll miss our access to all of that we have now. Still, it is quite difficult. Especially when maintenance barges in to fix things – it’s like any new house, you have that breaking in period. I’m still waiting on lunch since they said they’d be here this morning and they’re not here yet.

So I had this vague idea about remembering the first 100 days with all we’ve done with going forward with the building process of the next 100 days. Maybe writing it all down will help.