My Favorite Part of My Trip…

RichholdSpaceshipEarthI recently reconnected with a friend of mine from college. Meet Rich – pictured above. Rich is a goofball, caring, and he has a zest for life. He’s a people person. I recently noticed on Facebook that Rich had just taken a family vacation to WDW. For about a week, whenever I checked into Facebook, I’d check in on Rich. Loosely I followed his family’s travels throughout the four main parks at Disney World, enjoying new pictures as they were posted showing what a great time they were having. I decided to reach out to Rich and see if he’d let me share some of their pictures here on the blog. Now, most people don’t try to get in touch with old college friends to obtain rights to share their photos with the world. But that’s what I did. Fortunately for me Rich is a nice guy and trusting. I’m so glad that I did reach out to him. It’s always such a pleasure to resume a friendship that has been muted, paused, or accidentally discontinued as life journeys on. I smile that Walt Disney World was responsible for that in this case. Anyway, Rich was kind enough to let me share these and some of his vacation with you.

After we filled each other in about what life has given us the last couple of years, I asked Rich what he most enjoyed about his trip. This is the story he shared with me:

“My favorite part of the trip… I totally danced with Tiana! She is outside by the Christmas store and a performace by the castle started and it had a bit of a waltz feel. There were two kids ahead of me and she kinda danced with them. So I looked over at my dad told him that if the music is still playing, I am legit dancing with Tiana. And as fate would have it, the music still played and I swept her off her feet.”

RichandTiana2Rich also claims Tiana told him that she likes it when a man takes the lead. I can’t say that I blame Tiana for that comment in that case. What girl doesn’t want a man coming along sweeping her into a waltz at Walt Disney World? (I’m sure somebody out there would mind such a thing. But I certainly would not.)

I loved Rich’s story. Who would guess that a straight man in his mid-20s would give that story as his most memorable moment? It wasn’t a thrill ride, nor drinking beer, or fireworks. It was a moment with a princess where he could just be himself: funny, charming, youthful, uninhibited, and he could share that with his family.

Being so in love with WDW, I very often wonder what makes Walt Disney World so wonderful for me and millions of people around the world. Everyone’s reasons are different, but I think ultimately it’s a combination of youth, wonder, and happiness. It’s a place we are completely safe and free to be ourselves. Adults can let go of adulthood for a bit. Special things happen at WDW, and most of the time we get to share those special times with our family and friends. After all, what is better than being with those you love and watching them feel carefree and joyful? Life is full of special moments everywhere, don’t get me wrong. But at WDW you truly get to stop, step away from all else in life, and embrace the moment.

Since I’m feeling philosophical today, I’ll tell you I really do often think about the question of why I love Disney World. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to completely spell it out – the formula is too complex. Anyone else have the answer?


M. M. – T-REX at Downtown Disney

How is it Monday already!?! My busy weekend, which included my husband and I buying our first house (!!) and moving, probably has something to do with my bewilderment. I’m ready to admit that I almost slacked today and skipped writing this post. I’m tired, and I have a million things still to clean and unpack. But somehow I just couldn’t go a week without posting. I knew I would be washing windows and unpacking dishes thinking about how I should have blogged. So here we are – MUNCHY MONDAY!

This week we are traveling to Downtown Disney – a foodie paradise. Currently there are over 28 various spots to grab a bite to eat, ranging from an AMC Dine-In Theater to an authentically Irish-themed pub, to a Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Soda Shop. You can find table service restaurants and quick service dining, as well as stands offering drinks and snacks. The choices are amazing. Perhaps even more amazing still, is the fact that Downtown Disney is under-going an extensive renovation and expansion that will include even more dining delights. When the project is complete, Downtown Disney will be called Disney Springs.

DSC_0237On our last trip, my family and I ate dinner at T-REX. If you’re familiar with Rainforest Cafe, then you’ll have a great idea what this restaurant is about. Owned by the same parent company, T-REX is a prehistoric dining adventure.

Mum at T Rex

My beautiful Mum giving a smile. Look carefully behind her and you can spot a wooly mammoth and a few jellyfish in the background.

My Grandmother, taking in the restaurants action.

My Grandmother, taking in the restaurant action.

As you approach the restaurant, you’ll see a mountainous structure with a cave-like opening. Perched atop is a very large dinosaur skeleton, green ferns, and palms. Inside, is a prehistoric wonderland. At the front of the restaurant you can locate the bar area, which has an oceanic theme. Behind the bar is a large saltwater fish tank on which a giant octopus is perched, with its tentacles stretching over the blue, water-like ceiling. Colored jellyfish are suspended from the ceiling, mingling with the octopus tentacles. The restaurants tables are nestled into several themed rooms such as an ice cavern and fern forest. While the rooms have individual themes, they are open to each other and one theme flows into the other. Everywhere you look there are animatronic wooly mammoths, giant bugs, and dinosaurs – including a 15 foot tall T. rex. About every twenty minutes there is a “meteor shower,” and the entire restaurant springs to life with movement and sound. With so much going on, this place is a sensory mecca.

The Ice Cavern Ceiling.

The Ice Cavern.

DSC_0282With a restaurant that is so focused on entertainment, I always find myself skeptical of the quality of food. I was very pleasantly surprised here. Not to be outdone by the decor, the T-REX menu delivers. The kitchen, appropriately named The Kitchen of Fire, is located behind a long fire pit. On the wall behind the fire pit you can see chickens rotating in a giant rotisserie. The menu is quite expansive, with something for any taste. Most of the menu flavors are true American, though there are some light Italian touches. Food is easily organized into sections: Appetizers, Salads, Soups, Carnivores, Pastas, Burgers & Sandwiches, and Seafood. Mixed drinks can be found in a section labeled “The Watering Hole,” and there are plenty of beer and wine selections as well. Desserts are can be located in “The End is Near.” Each and every item has a clever, prehistoric reference in its name, such as: Fossil Fish-N-Chips, Pork-Asaurus Sandwhich, Layers of the Earth Lasagna, and Jurassic Salad.

On our visit, I ordered the Paleozoic Chicken Sandwich: pizza dough with grilled chicken, lettuce, bacon, Pepper Jack cheese, avocado, tomato, and lemon aioli. It came with my choice of side (french fries!), and it was absolutely delicious. The portion was big, the chicken was cooked perfectly, and it was full of tasty flavors. My young cousins were with us, and one of them was kind enough to give me a bite of their Cosmo’s Cheesy Macaroni. Let me assure you I would’ve devoured any of the unfinished noodles, but he cleaned the bowl leaving me high and dry. Can’t say I blame him.

Open for lunch and dinner, T-REX is a very popular spot to eat. In the busy seasons the wait can be excessive. My family had a reservation, and we still had a fair wait to be seated at our table. That being said, we were also a party of 14 altogether. Bottom line: make a reservation. That goes forever and always, at any Disney dining location.

Between the active theme and the large number of tables inside, this restaurant is noisy. Downright loud, really. It’s hard to hear anyone that is not seated next to you or across from you. Additionally, the meteor shower that occurs every twenty minutes includes flashing lights and thunder-like rumbles that may be frightening to very young children. This is not the spot for a quiet, romantic dinner. But, T-REX is definitely a fantastic place to dine with kids of all ages. Overall, I was really impressed with the environment and food in this unique dining spot. My family and I had a blast.