As promised last week, there is such a smorgasbord of stuff to say about dining in Disney world (I apologize for the food metaphors…but I can’t help it…and will probably continue, so consider yourself warned) that over the next several Thursday Disney posts, I will cover a little bit of our experience at a time.
I’m going to move backwards on our trip – starting with our last Character Meal of the vacation.
Like the way I read magazines: I always start at the back page and browse in reverse…who needs a table of contents?
I scheduled our flight home late in the afternoon, so we had some time to do a few last Disney things. Not enough time to merit wasting a park ticket, but plenty of time to squeeze in one last Character Meal…and since we skipped doing any character meals the day we arrived in Disney, it worked out perfectly as far as meal plan credits went.
Here is something I learned: many of the Character Meals take place at the various hotels on Disney Property, and not in the actual theme parks themselves. Next time I plan a trip to Disney World, I plan to spread our “theme park” days out, and add at least 1 (maybe 2) days of lounging by the pool and hanging out. A Character Meal at one of the hotels will work perfectly for a chill out day: you are still doing something fun and “Disney” while not being in an actual park, and you’re not wasting valuable time sitting at a restaurant on a day you spent a crazy amount of money to enter one of the parks. One issue is that Disney does not offer bus travel between hotels – only from hotel to theme park (and Downtown Disney). It’s not a big deal to jump on a bus to the theme park closest to the hotel you want to eat at, and then once at the theme park, jump another bus (or boat or monorail if it applies) to get to the restaurant. Quite a few of the Character Meals take place at one of the BIG 3: what I refer to as the 3 hotels connected to the Monorail line, and VERY close to the Magic Kingdom: these being the Contemporary, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian. We only saw the Contemporary from the window of the monorail this time, but my husband really liked it – so we may end up staying there on a subsequent trip. Either way dinner at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary is on my list of things we missed this time and must do next time.
On my list of things we DID do this time and MUST do again next time is the Ohana breakfast at the Polynesian Resort.
First of all, the waiting area is very pleasant, and just down the hall is a cafe that serves Kona coffee (not the NesCrape most Disney restaurants serve) so if you’re jonesing for your first cup of java you can enjoy one while you wait. When you sign in at the reception desk they give everyone in the party leis…Miss A loved this, of course, and even her Dada consented to join in the fun and wear one.
This was one of my favorite Disney meal experiences because it was one of the very few that was not a buffet. Thank God! I detest the whole stand in line like a herd of cattle at a trough feeling that buffets give me. I’m on vacation, I am spending way too much money on this meal, I want to sit here and relax and BE SERVED. Also, the characters come around on a schedule, so it’s quite difficult to convince a certain six year old to go get something to eat when she’s anxiously tracking Mickey’s progress to her table.
At the Ohana breakfast you are immediately served juice and coffee and a delicious basket of pineapple Hawaiian bread; between the juice, coffee, and divine bread, I had a perfect breakfast…but they also serve up family style platters of Mickey waffles (I thought they were rather dry and tasteless, but Miss A seemed to like them) biscuits, scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, and some type of sausage (we’re not really a sausage type of family). Even though we didn’t get to pick and choose from a menu, breakfast food is pretty standard fare, and again, it was so nice to just sit and relax and let people bring everything to us (and our waiter was wonderful, it was so hot I drank a ridiculous amount of juice, and he was great with the refills!) This way we could really enjoy our breakfast, and focus on the real reason we came there: the characters!
At the Ohana breakfast the 4 characters we saw (and I believe are standard) were: Mickey, Pluto, Lilo and Stitch.
Each character spent plenty of time with us at our table, which was great since Lil’ G (who was terrified of Winnie the Pooh, I don’t know if I mentioned that before) absolutely adored Mickey.
Though she is a Princess-Girl all the way now, when Miss A was little, her first Disney favorite was Stitch. She LOVED him (I say she recognized a kindred spirit). So it was a lot of fun for her (and for me) to meet Experiment 626 and his best pal Lilo.
And even though he wasn’t necessarily a “Must See” character, meeting Mickey’s best pal Pluto was lots of fun too (I get the connection now, Lilo and her “dog” Stitch along with Mickey and his dog Pluto).
Aside from the time they spend with you at the table, they also have several opportunities for the kids to get up and join the characters in a parade around the restaurant, complete with instruments for them to play (Tusker House in Animal Kingdom does this kind of thing too, we’ll get to that in a couple of weeks).
After breakfast, you can give your tummy time to rest by strolling around the hotel’s main building. They have some shops, and a gorgeous central nature display that includes waterfalls, flowers, and all sorts of island greenery. It’s A great place for photos!
Don’t miss the Lilo&Stitch surfboard hiding on the lower level by the windows:
We decided to look around some more, and strolled the rest of the hotel grounds. It made for a very pleasant walk. The hotel is spread out in “island longhouses” and actually covers quite a distance – for the Polynesian’s price tag, I don’t think it’s worth it – I’d want to have something I felt was more convenient than one of the cheaper digs.
The Poly does, however, boast this incredible view:
Yep, that’s Cinderella’s Castle off in the distance. I took this with my sad little point and shoot camera, so the view is actually MUCH better in person. I was standing just behind the pool of the Polynesian – I bet it would be awesome to go for a nighttime swim while watching Wishes from afar.
Leaving the Polynesian is a breeze, you can hop the monorail back to the Magic Kingdom or enjoy a ferry boat ride to the same place. We really liked taking the boat when we had the time to spare, it was so relaxing!
So, we’ll be doing the Ohana breakfast again for sure – it’s a keeper.
Next week I’ll talk about the Playhouse Disney lunch at Hollywood N’ Vine in Hollywood Studios…which we will NOT be doing again.