Saturday, June 26, 2010

More Disney

Having gone to Disney several times recently, and not just this past week as mentioned in the previous post, I do have a few more thoughts about food and accommodations to share.

First of all, where to stay. Disney has a range of accommodations on property, which is super convenient. You can park your car and use the Disney transportation system the entire time you are there. (Our local governments could take a clue or two from the Disney transportation system. It's the best mass transit in the state.) We might wind up driving to one or two places, especially if we have reservations for a show or a meal, but that's only because we don't manage our time well. (It does take time to get around using their buses, although on the upside the bus drivers don't get lost, which is easy to do since the park is so massive; it's like 40 bazillion acres or something.) (And yes, I speak from experience. We've been lost at Disney a few times now.) We've stayed at, let me see, Dixie Landings (which is now called something else since Dixie Landings wasn't exactly politically correct), The Grand Floridian, (a splurge for our 10th anniversary), Pop Century, All Star Sports, and All Star Music. All of the hotels are clean, well kept, and Disney-fied.

If the hotel is up to us the next time we go back and we decide to stay on property, our top choice is All Star Music. We like the family suites since they have a bedroom for the grown ups with a DOOR, a little kitchenette with a microwave, sink, and small refrigerator, two bathrooms, and pull out beds for the kids in the living room area, all at a fairly reasonable price. (I hate spending a ton of money on a hotel room when the plan is to be OUT of the hotel room as much as possible.) You don’t automatically get the bellman service and it can be a hike with the luggage from the car to the room, but we don’t mind that aspect; I never know how to tip a bellman anyway, and now that the kids are old enough to wheel their own luggage in we prefer to do it ourselves.

The downside of the budget hotels is the noise level; they are not sound insulated in the least. You hear everyone walking by, every door slam on your side of the building, maintenance workers mowing the lawn in the morning, EVERYTHING. As a very light sleeper, I have found a way to get around that little problem, however. I've loaded up my MP3 player with "sleepy music" (you could use nature sounds, meditative music, whatever you can sleep to) and found some ear buds that don't bother me to sleep with, and set it to repeat all night long. That blocks out the unwanted noises beautifully; problem solved.

I’ve had friends stay at time shares or condos or even rent houses while going to Disney. That’s something we might look into for the next time, although I’m not sure what we’ll do. That would give us a real kitchen so we would be able to feed ourselves, although that would mean cooking and cleaning; who wants to deal with that on vacation? It’s a dilemma; I’m not sure how we’ll want to handle things. I do know that this past week we got SICK to DEATH of eating out. I felt awful by the end, and it wasn’t all from the motion sickness. I also gained weight, which is super frustrating.

As I wrote in my previous post, we stayed at a non-Disney hotel for this visit. It was OK, although the downside to that is we couldn’t access the Disney transportation system. The hotel supposedly had busses to the parks, but when we asked about them they said the busses weren’t running at the time we wanted to go. Argh!! So we drove everywhere. We were able to explore the area around the outside of the Magic Kingdom, which was fun. I like exploring new places, and although I lived in Orlando for several years, I lived on the other side of town and hardly ever went over to the Disney area, plus it was a lifetime ago and everything has changed since then. We found some non-Disney restaurants close to the hotel, including a Sweet Tomatoes, so we got one healthy meal while we were there!

Which leads to the food:
A HUGE issue I have with Disney is the food, which is AWFUL pretty much all around. I am big on healthy eating, even on vacation, and that’s pretty much impossible at Disney World. Even the food at the upscale restaurants is loaded with fat. Now that we are vegetarian I don’t know that we would be able to eat on property at all, which may mean we won’t STAY on property anymore. I guess it’s the universal law of food-around-a-tourist-attraction-is-always-awful. There is constant turnover of customers so the eateries don’t have to worry about attracting repeat business, so therefore they don’t worry about the quality of the food.

Which leads me to a side rant. Now that we are veg and trying to stick with that even when we eat out, I am so frustrated that most of the vegetarian options we find on menus are LOADED WITH FAT, either in the form of high fat cheeses, butter, or oil. ??? What’s with that? I mean, vegetarians are frequently vegetarian because they care about their health, so why would the only vegetarian selections on a menu be so unhealthy? I could get healthier, lower fat/calorie food by eating lean meat or fish, back when I ate that kind of thing. And don’t get me started on the salads. Very few places offer good salads. A lot of the time the salad will consist of some wilted lettuce, a few sad tomato chunks, and maybe a couple of lame croutons smothered in a high fat dressing. Yuck. (Although I always order my dressing on the side, thank you very much.)

(Sorry for the digression; I’ve wanted to rant about that for a while now. Back to Disney.)

Other dining tips:
If you like healthy food, do not, for the love of Pete, eat at Downtown Disney’s Rainforest Café or T-Rex, which is run by the same company. (We haven’t eaten at T-Rex, but I can’t imagine the food is any different from Rainforest Cafe.) Rainforest Café used to be The Eldest’s favorite restaurant and she’d want to go there for every birthday or special occasion when she got to pick where to eat. BLECH!!! I told DH they must have a guy standing at the kitchen door with a bucket of oil and a ladle, and he dumps a ladle full on every plate as it goes out to the tables. The food is beyond awful, but the atmosphere is pretty cool. Do yourself a favor- possibly get a smoothie at the bar (they can’t put oil in that, but they are probably loaded with calories anyway) if you have to have something, walk through the restaurant and the store, then leave.

We ate at Raglan Road for lunch on Thursday. That’s also at Downtown Disney and the food was decent, although once again the veg selections were limited. They had a sandwich that was listed as a BLT with a fried egg; I got them to hold the B to make it vegetarian, so it was basically a fried egg sandwich. It was OK. The Youngest, aka The Wild Child, ordered the mac and cheese. He hated it but that’s because he’s got no taste whatsoever; it was the best mac and cheese I’ve ever tried, ever. (I only ate a few bites; it was good, but I’d already eaten, and I’m not a big mac and cheese fan. The girls liked it too; one of them finished it off.) DH and the girls said their food was good but I don’t remember what they had. It was pricey, however. It was around $100.00 for the five of us to eat lunch, with The Youngest ordering off the kids’ menu and no appetizers or desserts. The Disney surcharge, I guess.

The whole gang ate at El Patron, a Mexican restaurant, for one meal while we were there. It was pretty good as far as the taste of the food, but once again not very healthful. I felt sick and bloated after the meal; yuck. (Although I made some poor choices; too many chips with the guacamole I ordered for an appetizer, and I should have eaten half of my quesadilla instead of the whole thing, plus I could’ve asked them to go easy on the cheese when I ordered, which I didn’t think about at the time.) The service was great although the food seemed to take forever, but it was worth the wait. (Taste wise.) This was NOT a Disney restaurant, but very close to where we were staying. I don’t know how it was price wise; my brother in law and his wife picked up the tab. (Many thanks for that, M & M!!)

But now I have to finish up, although there is more to say about the fine art of trying to eat healthfully at Disney World; feel free to e-mail me with any questions or suggestions.

Today is The Eldest’s 17th birthday, and thank goodness she didn’t pick Rainforest Café as our dining destination; we’re heading out to a much better restaurant to eat lunch!

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