Edit: Oops, forgot I took a two minute video of Wishes. It’s included below or you can watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2i1_QK2UDM
If you can afford the $195/point to “borrow” at the Disney Vacation Club arm of the Grand Floridian Resort, you probably don’t read this website.
But construction continues as Disney aims to open by November. Expect the first guests to be invited over from other Vacation Club properties as part of a test and adjust phase.
Spring break crowds have arrived a couple of days early. Every Park is going to be swamped every day from now through April 7th.
Brandi and Andy were nice enough to add me to their reservation for lunch at the Plaza Restaurant at the end of Main Street.
Boasting Disney’s least expensive table service menu all day, The Plaza Restaurant is an excellent choice if you’re on a budget and don’t want to fight the quick service crowds at Cosmic Ray’s or Pecos Bill. Most items are only a dollar or two more than their quick service counterparts and every item other than the meatloaf is less expensive than the Half Chicken & Ribs Combo or Pork Glop Platter. Don’t show up without a reservation though.
The kids menu is fairly basic. Note the “Mickey Check Meal,” which is an easy identifier for something your kids won’t want to eat.
There isn’t much to the restaurant, which is small and has a capacity south of 100 people. As Disney describes it: “Step inside this charming dining parlor awash in turn-of-the-century Art Nouveau touches, including beautifully embellished light fixtures and mirrors and an inviting solarium. From the main dining room, enjoy a stunning view of Cinderella Castle as you eat.” That’s what I meant to say, I guess.
Brandi ordered the Chicken Strawberry Salad – Fresh Garden Greens, Grilled Chicken Breast, Cucumbers, fresh Strawberries, Gorgonzola Cheese, tossed in a White Zinfandel Vinaigrette Dressing – $14.99. Interestingly, the salad is the second most expensive item on the menu.
Despite being attractive, Brandi commented that it didn’t have much flavor. She realized all of the salad dressing had pooled at the bottom of the plastic bowl about half way through the salad. With Main Street Bakery closed for refurbishment now through mid-June, Plaza is using plastic bowls and plates because it doesn’t have access to the dishwashers that it shares with the Bakery. It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but the cheap plastic bowl did tip on occasion, creating an opening for escaping croutons.
I ordered the Grilled Chicken Sandwich – Grilled Chicken Breast topped with Shaved Ham and Swiss Cheese served on a Flour-dusted Kaiser Roll – $12.49.
This was a lot better than most Disney quick service chicken sandwiches, and certainly worth two or three dollars more, but it was far from great. It needed a mayonnaise, sauce, or condiment of some other variety to add flavor. As it stands, most of the flavor comes from the ham that sits in between the mostly unseasoned chicken and Swiss cheese. For the money, I can’t really complain, but it was far from memorable.
Deeming the Broccoli Slaw more interesting than French Fries, I went ahead and ordered. The slaw could not have been more flavorless if they purposefully extracted all of it with a syringe. It didn’t even taste like broccoli. The fries looked a lot better – thick cut and crispy.
Brandi and Andy were on the Dining Plan, which means a dessert is forced upon you. I would stipulate that this is basically the worst possible use of a table service credit, but sometimes you just want a salad and a sundae. This is the Brownie Sundae - Vanilla Ice Cream and a Fudge Brownie topped with Hot Fudge, Whipped Cream and a Cherry – $6.49. It was certainly decadent with two large brownies, ice cream, and whipped cream, but you might hate yourself if you consumed the whole thing.
I hated myself after consuming an entire Plaza Restaurant Sundae – Ice cream of your choice with choice of of Hot Fudge, Strawberry Sauce, Crushed Pineapple, topped with Whipped Cream, Chopped Nuts and a Cherry – $5.49. It was a lot of sundae for the money. I’m not sure it was necessarily the smartest concoction with the strawberry at the bottom and the cold, wet pineapple spooned on top, but it more than worked. I still regret eating the whole thing and probably will continue to for the rest of my life.
Service was attentive, if not a bit rushed. We had an aversion to Red Dye 40 in our party, and Chef Ken came out and was extremely friendly and personable. I don’t have a lot of experience meeting chefs for allergies, but you didn’t get any sort of sense that it was a hassle for him to pop out and discuss options. I was impressed.
Overall, the meal was worth a few more dollars than quick service, but it was far from an amazing experience.
This cart sits in Liberty Square across from Columbia Harbour House. The entrance to Liberty Square Riverboat is to the left and Haunted Mansion is on the right.
The cart used to serve Disney cheese pizzas, but now offers hot sandwiches. I’m not sure if sandwiches will continue to be offered after spring break/Easter, but they should be available at least through April 7th. Disney tends to increase dining capacity by increasing the number of food carts when crowds are extremely heavy. Look for Sunshine Tree Terrace to offer food over the next few weeks as well – something they don’t ordinarily do. From the reviews of the sandwiches I’ve seen, neither is worth going out of your way to order. The horseradish sauce is more of a mayo and the ham sandwich has an odd aftertaste.
The weekend’s big news is the opening of the Rapunzel bathroom area.
There has been some amount of hate leveled in the general direction of the bathrooms. The sentiment is generally that Disney should be spending money on new attractions rather than bathrooms. I wouldn’t be too concerned about a lack of construction. Look for an earth shattering announcement coming the first week in May. Anyway, the Rapunzel bathrooms replace the Peter Pan bathrooms, which have already closed. Disney is expected to demolish the bathrooms and build an interactive queue for Peter Pan’s Flight in its place.
In addition to bathrooms, the area provides an opportunity to sit down and relax for a minute outside.
If you think about Old Fantasyland for a moment, there really isn’t anywhere to sit down comfortably other than Pinocchio Village Haus.
In addition to a comfy place to sit, these cleverly themed stumps house electrical outlets.
Plug in your phone, ECV, or other electronic device without fear of the DISboards condemning your theft of Mickey’s electricity.
There’s a wide walkway that connects the bathroom/it’s a small world area with Haunted Mansion. This picture was taken with the Haunted Mansion queue directly behind me. If you were to walk up and exit to the right, you’d be standing outside the entrance to it’s a small world.
The extra walkway didn’t seem to do much to alleviate congestion outside it’s a small world and Peter Pan’s Flight, which is often the most congested walkway in the Park.
But it does provide a large area for stroller parking, which gets the strollers out from in front of it’s a small world. So the walkway is at least as wide as possible.
In the area around the stream, there’s a cute little game where guests are tasked with seeking out friends of Pascal, the color-changing Chameleon from Tangled.
It’s not as easy as it sounds.
There are ten in all.
Otherwise, the area is as pretty as can be, with rushing waterfalls, lush vegetation, and amazing rock work details.
Disney loves themed concrete. Here, you’ll find apple cores that Maximus the horse has discarded.
If there’s any question as to who is responsible.
Yes, it’s mostly restrooms. But it’s obvious a lot of thought went into the area:
I’m not a background music expert, but the area features what I think is original music that fits the Tangled theme perfectly. It’s turned up a little too loud at the moment, but that’s easily fixable if they elect to turn it down.
I don’t really have anything negative to say about the area. It would have been nice if they could have figured out a better transition to Haunted Mansion down the path from Fantasyland. You sort of go from the cheery waterfalls of Rapunzel to what is supposed to be the eeriness of Mansion. But the area provides a huge set of convenient bathrooms (that I’m letting you explore for yourself), an outdoor area to relax and charge electronics, and an easier path down to Liberty Square, which is exactly what Disney wanted.
At night, the lighting package works well with it’s a small world and Peter Pan’s Flight in front.
Not too long ago, this area was a deserted slab of concrete covered in stollers.
Overhead, the lanterns flicker like there’s candles inside.
Another example of “sitting opportunities.” Like Storybook Circus, the area is surrounded by rock ledges and little gardens.
In Old Fantasyland, there aren’t a lot of places to sit.
The seating area with the charging stations is on the dark side, with just a few lanterns providing light. It may be difficult to find the plug.
Rapunzel’s Tower is lit similarly to Beast’s Castle in shades of blue and purple.
I would have liked to have seen some lighting on the stream and waterfall. They’re pitch black at night.
But it’s otherwise very pretty – Imagineering really outdid themselves.
Wishes. Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports7/wishes.jpg.
Wishes finale video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2i1_QK2UDM
In other news, Mine Train construction continues.
It only gets bigger and more elaborate.
Rock work is being completed on the back side across from Journey of the Little Mermaid. I’d look for the store here to open a lot sooner than you might expect.
A 45 minute wait around 2pm looked to be pretty accurate for Journey of the Little Mermaid. I’m not sure if it’s indicative of Disney putting accurate wait times up instead of the over exaggerated wait times that they have been, but it’s a start.
Splash Mountain continues testing.
It was cycling logs at full speed.
The logs I saw looked like they had been painted and refurbished.
In case you’re visiting for spring break, Disney has a few shirts you might be interested in:
That’s what’s going on at Magic Kingdom.