Thursday, September 25, 2014

Trip Report: [Day 4] Attempting the Kitchen Sink and the Greatest Souvenir EVER

It was the final day of our Orlando trip, and we started it by sleeping in.

Which allowed me to take a photo of the view from our room at the Hilton in Downtown Disney in daylight without the morning dew on the window!

View from Hilton



View from Hilton

While I like to squeeze trips in whenever possible, even just for a few days on a weekend, I always feel a little bummed when I don't take advantage of everything the hotel has to offer.  Here is the pool that we never swam in...

Downtown Disney Hilton Pool

Lunch - Beaches & Cream

After checking out of the Hilton in Downtown Disney, we drove to the Beach Club Resort for an early lunch at Beaches & Cream.

Beach Club Resort

Beach Club Resort

On our Independence Day trip, I complained about having a long wait time even with a reservation and experiencing slow service at Beaches & Cream.  However, they were either on their game today, or the long wait doesn't build up until later in the afternoon, because we were seated immediately after checking in.

You know that you go to Walt Disney World often when you start to recognize the Cast Members.  The Cast Member at the podium was the same as in July (I remember because I photographed him), and we had the same waitress.  Perhaps I'll know I go to Disney World too often when the Cast Members start recognizing me back.

I decided to switch it up from my go-to entree and went with a hot dog, instead.  It was a good decision.

Hot Dog

Max went for the regular.  Grilled Cheese and Tomato Bisque.  It's sooooo good!

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Bisque

Birthdays at Beaches & Cream are a little more embarrassing than some of the other Disney restaurants.  Here, they dim the lights and sound a siren, then make the entire restaurant sing to you.

Beaches & Cream Birthday

I've always wanted to try the Famous Kitchen Sink (in July, we had the Mini Kitchen Sink), but we've never been up for the challenge.  It's a lot of ice cream.  But the menu states that it serves four people, and we had four people, so we decided to give it a go - more for the experience than anything.

We were told that we could customize the Kitchen Sink and leave out anything we didn't want.  Max hates whipped cream and really wanted to leave that out, but it's a main ingredient in the Kitchen Sink, so we wouldn't let him.  "Just pick around it!"  I suggested that we swap the strawberry ice cream for chocolate ice cream.  When I had the Mini Kitchen Sink, I remember being quite startled whenever I got a taste of strawberry ice cream.  Since Max had already voiced his disdain for whipped cream, I tried to make him think that it was his idea.  "You don't like strawberry ice cream, right, Max?  We can leave that out."  "I mean, it's whatever."  "No, Max.  You don't like it.  We're leaving it out!"

Note that they also dim the lights and sound a siren, then announce to the entire restaurant that you've ordered the Famous Kitchen Sink with "an entire can of whipped cream!"  (If it's your birthday and you ordered the Kitchen Sink, they do the birthday song and the Kitchen Sink announcement at the same time.)

The Kitchen Sink

The Kitchen Sink

The reason I knew for certain that I had the same waitress as in July is because both times I've had her, she's seen my camera and offered to take a picture of all of us at the table.  She had actually already offered earlier when we were first seated, but I declined.  But when she brought us the Kitchen Sink and suggested it again, I let her take our photo.

The Kitchen Sink

The Kitchen Sink

It turned out that the Kitchen Sink was a bigger challenge than we were up for.  The menu says it feeds four people, but I think they are being extremely generous in the portion sizes for four people.  Really, it should read, "You probably shouldn't attempt this with less than four people, but you would be better off with six, possibly more."

The Kitchen Sink

Hollywood Studios

We left the surviving portion of our Kitchen Sink at the Beach Club and moved the car to Hollywood Studios.  We had actually missed our first FastPass+ attraction of the day, which was Lights, Motors, Action.

Hollywood Studios

So the next FastPass+ was for the Tower of Terror.  This time, I saw the live actors posing on the terrace!

Hollywood Tower Hotel

Hollywood Tower Hotel

Hollywood Tower Hotel

Before I took her photo, she had a serious face, but she made eye contact with my camera and smiled.  As soon as I dropped the camera, it was back to a solemn expression.  How funny!

Hollywood Tower Hotel

Off to our next FastPass+, Toy Story Mania!

Pixar Studios

This time, I had a red cannon, and I had a lot of trouble seeing my darts on the screen.  I don't think red is as contrasty as the other colors.  Normally I get yellow or green, and I don't have any issues.  Needless to say, Max beat me.  But regardless of cannon color, that outcome was probably inevitable.

Toy Story Mania

We had to choose between Indiana Jones and Lights, Motors, Action.  Natalie and Rachel opted for Indiana Jones.  I stupidly led us the long way through the park, past Lights, Motors Action, when I should have just turned back around and walked back in front of the Sorcerer's Hat.  My mistake meant a lot of extra walking... and by the time we arrived, it was standing room only.  Luckily, we were able to sit on the short wall at the back of the theater, so we did not have to stand the entire time.  I was so thankful.

People have been complaining that this show has been outdated for some time, but I've always remembered it fondly as being entertaining and comical.  Well, there has been a change of cast since I had last seen it, and these new actors are terrible.  Maybe they were new, but they weren't good at delivering their lines or making the jokes.  It was really, really bad acting all around... from Indiana Jones to the director to the surprise stunt man.  Since they were difficult to watch, it made me focus on other things... like how the "camera" they roll around on the set must be from the 90s.  The stunts they are doing are probably really outdated in terms of technology.  Is any of this even relevant, anymore?

Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular

After the show, we grabbed some soft drinks and splurged for the Frozen-themed souvenir cup.

Frozen Souvenir Cup

Natalie and Rachel had asked to go back to the Pixar area to check out the stores, but we realized that there really isn't a Pixar store back there besides the open-air souvenir kiosk across from Toy Story Mania.  I can't believe Disney is missing out on this marketing opportunity... though I'm sure they will more than make up for it after Hollywood Studios receives its much-anticipated re-haul.

Toy Soldier

Time for Max's favorite show, Beauty and the Beast.  We just squeezed in the last show of the day, and as we headed towards the theater, a Cast Member stopped me and said, "Oh, I'm sorry.  The last show of the day is canceled."  "Really?"  "Yeah."  "It's canceled?"  "Yep."  Then he broke into a grin and told me he was just messing with me.  I wasn't very amused.  Max was, though.  He thought it was hilarious.  I was just annoyed because I was really worried that Max wasn't going to get to see Beauty and the Beast, which is one of main attractions on his Hollywood Studios to-do list.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

Dockside Diner

Muppets Courtyard

Dinner - Pizza Planet

Max asked what we should do about dinner, and I suggested Pizza Planet.  Disney fans often gripe about the lack of good counter-service restaurants in Hollywood Studios, but I must say that Pizza Planet is one of my favorite little hideaways.  Besides peak lunch hour, it's usually not too crowded, and the pizza is consistently good comes with a caeser side salad.  Sure, it's nothing spectacular or extraordinary, but it's reliable.... good, basic pizza.

Pizza Planet

Pizza Planet

Greatest Souvenir EVER

Earlier that day when we were souvenir shopping, Natalie was eyeing a medium-sized Stitch plush.  I pointed out the giant-size Stitch and encouraged her to get that one, instead.

When my family tried out Stitch's Great Escape for the first and last time ever back in July, Rachel (my sister) pointed out the giant Stitch plush and said, "Why do they sell that?  Who would ever buy that thing?"  So I thought it would be hilarious if I knew someone who bought it.  I told Max the story, and he posed some photos with Stitch and sent them to Rachel, telling her to check out his cool souvenir.  Well, Rachel didn't believe him at all.  "You didn't buy that.  I don't believe you."

Later, we caught Natalie eyeing the giant Stitch plush, again.  "Buy it!  You need to buy it!"  Max and I were the little devils sitting on Natalie's shoulder.  And we're persuasive!  After a bit more thought, Natalie brought home a giant new friend!  Don't you want your own cuddly Stitch?

Stitch

And Rachel still didn't believe us.

Stitch

Stitch

Fantasmic!

We finished our souvenir shopping and headed to the first showing of Fantasmic.  I don't think I've been to the first Fantasmic showing in years.  It's ridiculously more crowded than the second.  It's been over a decade since I've sat this far from the center of the amphitheater.

Fantasmic

Fantasmic

Fantasmic

Fantasmic

Frozen Fireworks

Now, the whole reason we stayed so late is because Max wanted to see the Frozen fireworks (well, we all did, but that was one of the things he was most excited for).  Since it was crowded and we were leaving immediately after, I thought it best to stand back so that we'd have a quick exit.  We were able to position ourselves right behind the tape marking the walking-only path, so I was able to get a relatively tall-person-free view.

Frozen Fireworks

Max loved it.  He said that it might be his favorite fireworks show, yet, and told me that I need to take long exposure photos of this show.  Since they've extended the Frozen Fun until the end of the year, I might have an opportunity to!

Frozen Fireworks

At the end of the show, it "snows" on Hollywood Boulevard.  With all of the lighting, it's a lovely effect.  I really do need to bring my tripod and shoot the fireworks and the snow if I have the chance.

Snow in Florida

Crossroads of the World

Snow in Florida

We headed home with our new friend (and after sending a photo of Stitch from the tram, Rachel finally, almost, kind-of believed us)...

Stitch Goes Home

Thank you for joining my August 2014 Orlando Trip Report!  See ya real soon!