Disney World at 50… My Memories

Here come a bunch of thoughts/memories in celebration of Disney World being 50-years old this year. Please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle! ¡Por favor mantenganse alejado de las puertas!

December 31, 2021

I am watching the ResortTV1 Live Stream at EPCOT. There are DJ Dance Parties all around World Showcase. It’s crazy!

DJ Dance Party in Italy – 12-31-21

I watched the New Year’s Eve celebration at the Magic Kingdom last night (they do 2 nights of it) and it was wild seeing the MK rocking out to dance music! (Tristan corrected me and said it is called EDM Music now. Yanking me into the new millennium!)

This is what it looked like at the end of the fireworks show. Spectacular!!!

MK New Year’s Eve Celebration (a day early) 12-30-21

I’ve been scanning more pictures and putting them on SmugMug (the best photo storage place ever) and can across one I had been looking for forever.

Tristan and me, November 21, 1982 … with Mickey!

Could my glasses be any bigger? Look how long my nails were! Clearly, I was not typing on anything yet. And I was so, so, so tired. I had no business dragging my new baby and my newly postpartum ass to the Magic Kingdom, but I was just as obsessed about Disney then as now.

Back then, running into characters was a hit or miss thing. There were never announcements or special locations to find them, so to run into so many characters that day with Tristan was so cool! Especially this one with Mickey!

December 24, 2021

  • I first went to EPCOT September 28, 1982, during one of the preview days. I was hugely pregnant with my first (he was born October 20, 1982) so technically, he was at a Disney Park before he was even born!
1st look at EPCOT September 28, 1982.
Inside the Land September 28, 1982.
  • It’s really weird seeing people wearing masks at Disney Parks. I am rarely out so they are still foreign to me. Others have said it looks weirder when people do not have them. I suppose I will get there, too. I have to say, it does make me happy to know Disney still takes COVID seriously. I would wear my mask everywhere, not just inside rides, but that’s just me. I can only attend to my own safety. I am willing to bet I will wear a mask every day now forevermore. Remember how we used to roll our eyes at the Japanese tourists who wore masks all the time? Look who’s eye-rolling now.

December 23, 2021

I am finally getting back to blogging. It’s been awhile and having to let go of a lot of things to get some work done. I totally missed NaNoWriMo, wrote on Day 1 and then dropped it to get work done. I am having a great time with work, so that is good, but it is time consuming.

BACK to DISNEY WORLD!

  • I discovered a Live Stream of Disney Parks from Josh and Jenna, a brother and sister who call themselves ResortTV1. I accidentally came across them in Instagram, as a recommendation, and that night they were doing the first Candlelight Processional after the pandemic began. I had to watch and it was amazing! I told mom and my youngest daughter Aimee and we all watched together. It was great. We’ve watched the Candlelight Processional as a family for as long as they have been having them (the began in 1994).
A photo I took years ago of the Candlelight Processional in EPCOT.

Now I am in love with ResortTV1! Their Live Stream is so wonderful because they stop talking when on rides. Not everyone has that courtesy. Thanks Josh and Jenna! You now have a fan!

  • Memory when watching Retro Disney World Josh did as I watching IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. I loved that music and downloaded it onto (what is now an ancient) iPod. Months and months later, after listening to it dozens of times, I had a client who needed to have her baby before she could even go home and get her things and she was most upset she didn’t have her Reflections of Earth music. I laughed and pulled out my iPod with headphones and she listened to it during her cesarean. We thought that was the craziest thing ever. Who would have guessed a midwife being a doula would have something so obscure, IN SAN DIEGO, as Reflections of Earth from Orlando’s EPCOT at Disney World on her iPod?
Photo I took of IllumiNations

  • I wonder how many videos I am in from being in the parks so much over the years.
  • I just learned they removed my Dancing Fountains (aka Fountain of Nations). The last show was on September, 7, 2019. You can see how out of touch I have been with my Disney Self. I am immersing myself again and it feels good. I used to dance like crazy when Yanni’s Standing in Motion played and wonder if people recorded the crazy fat lady dancing like a banshee to a fountain.
Photo I took of “My” Dancing Fountains.
Another angle of “My” Dancing Fountains.
  • Looking at these Live Streams, I see how much things have changed since I was last there about 3 years ago… maybe 4. I was sad to not see the Christmas Arch in EPCOT from the Dancing Fountains to the Christmas Tree next to the World Showcase Lagoon.
Photo by Disney Addicts
From Disney Tourist Blog

October 1, 2021

  • For years before WDW opened, there was the Walt Disney World Preview Center in Lake Buena Vista between 535 and down what was then called Preview Center Road. It opened in January 1970 and closed right before WDW opened in 1971. In that year, we had to have visited it more than a dozen times. I have in the recesses of my memory, every word of the spiel.
  • Here is one of the many pics I have taken of the Preview Center over the years. I remember being there, dirt road out front, as if it was yesterday.
  • I stepped into the Magic Kingdom when I was 10-years old. It was a couple of months old. I remember it like it was yesterday. I can see Cinderella Castle at the end of Main Street. The place was pristine. Magical does not begin to describe that memory.
A photo I took from the catwalk outside California Grill at the top of the Contemporary Resort.
  • My mom started working at Walt Disney World (WDW) in 1973 at the Pueblo Room at the Contemporary Resort. The Pueblo Room was where George Kalogridis also got his start as a busboy. My mom, a seater, worked with George for several years. He is now the President of Segment Development and Enrichment for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products (whatever that is).
  • Because mom worked there, we got in free. This was when tickets were a thing, but there were rides that didn’t need one and we went on them a lot.
  • This is a WDW Tickets in 1973 site.
  • One of my faves was If You Had Wings. There was never any line and it was ice cold inside. Looking at the video, I am reminded of the growing hanging fish… and the people in the waterfall. Wow.
  • We went to River Country a lot. That was on Bay Lake (a natural lake, whereas the Seven Seas Lagoon is man-made) by the campground, Ft. Wilderness. Early on, and for a long time that I can remember, there were no alligators (that we knew about or saw) in Bay Lake. We used to swim in the lake a lot and there were and swimming races by Discovery Island, across from the Contemporary in Bay Lake, early on, too. We knew about the amoeba early on (Naegleria fowleri) but until several people died from the primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, the warning about swimming in lakes in the summer were rare. Now we know much more.
Bay Lake behind the Contemporary Resort.
  • When we went to the Magic Kingdom when my mom was working, as it got close to her getting off work, we would hang out in the arcade on the ground floor of the Contemporary Resort. It is still there, but much larger now. We did not have arcades back in the olden days, so this was fascinating. I cannot imagine my parents giving us much money to spend, but I do remember playing air hockey, probably on someone else’s dime.
  • How did we find people who were lost in the park? How did we do this without cell phones? I can’t even remember. My mom says we had to meet at certain places at certain times and BE THERE or else. I guess we found each other. I know where everyone is tonight!
A photo I took of the welcome arch.
  • I remember when Space Mountain went so fast they had to slow it down when someone got hurt. Sitting one in front of the other? No thank you!
  • Ahhh, the Buckets… the Sky Ride. I loved that thing so much once I got on them. I was scared for years, but once I finally climbed in, it was great! Wonderful place to make-out.
  • Speaking of making-out, when one was at the Magic Kingdom (MK) at night, there were tons of places to get naughty with a boyfriend or girlfriend. How was there ever a time without cameras everywhere? I liked by the Liberty Tree Tavern… very dark there.
  • Tomorrowland Terrace. Remember the eccentric Michael Iceberg? He was fascinating with his musical computer!
  • I also saw Maynard Ferguson and other jazz musicians on the Tomorrowland Terrace stage. So much fun with my band friends.
  • Grad Nights! I don’t know how I got to go to so many Grad Nights, but I went to several. Here is a list of the performers for Grad Nights from 1972-2008. I graduated in 1979, but know I was at other people’s Grad Nights, too. Tickets were expensive! 1972, they were $9. Get a look at the Dress Code. HA!
  • I knew the MK so well, I could do tours and did. Later, I went with a couple of families who were on vacation and photographed them, allowing everyone in the family to be in the pics. I took some great shots! Do I still have them? Nope.
Photo I took from Liberty Square.
  • I do have some of the (now missing) thousands and thousands of pictures I took at Disney World during my Rec.Arts.Disney.Parks (Radp) days. I need a separate blog just for all the posts I have from there.
  • We took Tristan to WDW when he was 4 weeks old. Here are a few pics of him. How tired do I look in my 1982 giant glasses? I should have been home nursing my newborn! I tried nursing in the Baby Care Center… lovely with rocking chairs in a darkened room that was cold and cozy. I had a hard time nursing in bed. The rocking chair was nigh on impossible. My boobs were so swollen!
Tristan and Me at the Magic Kingdom November 21, 1982.
  • Remember the Year of a Million Dreams? 2006-2008. I love this pic of a monorail I took. The moon high above.
  • Here’s an early monorail leaving the Contemporary Resort.
  • Oh my god, do you remember the hoopla surrounding when the “Fry Cart” was coming into the Magic Kingdom in Frontierland? If you were in online Disney groups in 1996, you will. If we had known it would be gone by 2008, I wonder if we would have had such heated discussions. I love McDonald’s fries, so I was all for the fry cart.
  • Do you remember when Tape Art came to the 2nd floor of the Contemporary Resort? I happened upon it accidentally and let the Radp group know Michael Townsend and Erica Duthie were decorating the hotel, inside and out. I LOVED the Tape Art! Here’s Meghann and Aimee after their own creations… while imitating what they made!
  • Here’s one of my fave pics I took of Cinderella Castle from the top of the Contemporary Resort.
  • Another Castle pic I took. Same vantage point.
  • And a few moments later, when the Castle changed colors.
  • The 5-Legged Goat on the wall closest to the monorail going through the center of the Contemporary Resort. When riding, I would always make sure to show it off. I told parents if they looked at it, their kids would not cry all day. The craned their necks.
  • This next one is Tristan and Meghann behind the Contemporary Resort when they were 3 and 9 months respectively, in 1985. Mickey sunglasses. Go, Tristan!
  • Meghann on her 21st Birth Day in 2005. Crystal Palace.

I have many more memories to share but want to get this out on Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. I will add more as I can.

A photo I took of the Cakesle 25 years ago. Everyone hated it but me. I loved the Cakesle!

Food Memory: Frozen Orange Daiquiris

When I was 16 years old, I used to wander over to the Contemporary Resort at Disney World to lay out in the sun on their beach, something that isn’t possible anymore because of alligators. But, then, Disney was still young and the gators hadn’t yet infiltrated the lakes.

1980contemp
Back of the 1978 Contemporary Resort. Note the beach on the upper right… this is where I would lay out in the sun.

I was fat, but wore a tube top and a bathing suit bottom that went up to my belly button, keeping my midriff exposed to the sun.

These were the days before we knew about skin cancer and using sunscreen. I had my trusty bottle of baby oil that I slathered on every couple of hours. (Tanning at home, I used Crisco.) Just reading it, I’m checking all my freckles and moles!

No one ever checked to see if I had a room key or asked if I belonged on their beach. That would never happen today. Because no one cared, when I got hot, I’d dive into one of their two pools, swim around (I’m a great swimmer), get cool, then go back to my spot on the beach.

contemporary-cabana-pool

New Friends

One time when I was in the pool, there was a woman sitting on the side hollering, “Barbie! Barbie!” and I answered her, asking, “Yes?” I swam over to her and she was calling one of her twin daughters, also named Barbie… we laughed, then introduced ourselves. It took less than 2 minutes before we were fast friends. After we were done swimming, I took them on a guided tour of the Magic Kingdom (the only park open then) and they took me to dinner. Barbie’s mom and I corresponded for 10 years, talking on the phone a lot, too. They lived in Canada, so never saw them again. I think about the family often wondering whatever happened in their lives.

Frozen Orange Daiquiri

But, what about that Frozen Orange Daiquiri?

While I lay on the beach, servers wandered around asking if people wanted something from the bar (including snacks!). Can you imagine that happening today? No way in the world would they traipse in the sand selling drinks. But then, it was awesome.

The first time I had enough money to buy something to drink, I asked if there was a virgin anything cold and the server said, “We have Frozen Orange Daiquiris,” and I probably said, “Yes!” way too loud, but she toddled off to the bar to get me that drink.

I swear she floated back, my drink balanced on her tray, my mouth watering as she came upon me like an angel of Frozen Orange Daiquiris.

orangedaislice

It was served in a clear plastic cup with an orange slice on the rim.

It was exquisite.

Sipping the thick icy treat, I found using the orange slice as a scoop to be more efficient as well as yum-MEEEE! I asked the server for a few orange slices when I ordered the next drink and she brought me a bowl of them!

orange slices

This became my special treat and even when I didn’t feel like laying out in the sun, I’d go to the Contemporary Resort, sit at the Sand Bar and order one Virgin Frozen Orange Daiquiri after another. With a pile of orange slices to dip, use as a scoop, then peel the orange from the rind with my teeth.

peels

I can taste it even now, feeling the searing sun on my back, slurping the icy drink off the orange slices.

Where Are They Now?

I have not figured out why, but no one seems to make Frozen Orange Daiquiris anymore. They make Peach, Mango, even an Orange-Banana, but where are the unadulterated Orange ones? I’ve ask experienced bartenders to make me one and usually get a look of confusion. I’ve probably only had 5 in the last 40 years. And even those didn’t taste like I remembered.

Yes, I am aware that the atmosphere of the burning sun, the white sandy beach, being on Disney property, the server wending her way through the lawn chairs, the piles of cold orange slices create a memory that can never be recreated, that no matter how many Frozen Orange Daiquiris I have, none would ever taste the same.

I’m salivating remembering the tart sweetness over the decades.

Let’s bring the Frozen Orange Daiquiri back to a drink everyone asks for!

orangedaiq

Reviewing Disney Dining

Back a long time ago….

Food Writing

I’d been writing reviews of meals for a long time, publishing them on Disney websites (for free). I got great feedback, so kept going.

One of the folks that read my writing was Susan Shumaker. She and her partner Than Saffel were working on a book on vegetarian dining at Disney World and surrounding areas. They asked me if I would like to collaborate by eating in a slew of restaurants they couldn’t get to because they didn’t live in Orlando and had to make trips back and forth to taste test for themselves. I jumped at the chance!

veg guide
The end result!

Dining Partners

I was in a poly relationship at the time with a woman and my former transman partner (who had not yet come out). We scheduled 3 weeks to hit all the restaurants on our list, staying in different Disney Luxury Resorts chosen randomly. Even though I was the one reviewing/writing, all three of us were fed for free. And, except for breakfast, also given fine wine, per course, at lunch and dinner.

I was the only one of us three eating vegetarian or vegan; they were meat eaters… and were served meat dishes throughout the tastings.

All of us loved red wine and drank copious amounts. (A separate post in the works.)

Memories! Like the corner of my mind.

Meeting the Chefs

It was a matter of course for the chef to come to the table to ask what my food preferences were. (No green/yellow/orange/purple/jalapeño/etc. peppers. Not terribly spicy. Love mushrooms.) We 3 had eaten (and paid for it) in most of the restaurants, so knew many chefs ahead of time. Sometimes, they’d sit with us and we’d talk about food and wine. Fun!

Sitting here almost 20 years later, I cannot recall even one time I was disappointed by food made by a Disney chef… on either coast. And I’ve eaten in Disney’s Fine Dining easily 200 times.

Restaurants We Visited

We did not just eat in fancy restaurants and I did not eat just at Disney restaurants. We ate at restaurants in different Disney Resorts, from Value Hotels to Moderate ones, and of course in the Deluxe Resorts. When I ate off-property, those places were ghastly! No vegan food at all and Stouffer’s Veggie Lasagna was almost always the meal I was given. I ate at about 8 different locations off-property, but close to Disney World. I got to see some fun shows the tourists flock to, but the food sucked.

Where it did not suck was at Walt Disney World!

Whispering Canyon Cafe, Wilderness Lodge Resort

whispering-canyon
Whispering Canyon, Wilderness Lodge

We had breakfast at Whispering Canyon. Endless family style food. I was a vegetarian, so didn’t want the sausages. It was no problem at all. They asked what each person wanted to eat and if they wanted meat but were sitting with vegetarians, the meat was served on a separate plate. The food at that restaurant was yummy!

Whispering Canyon Breakfast Skillet
Whispering Canyon breakfast, Wilderness Lodge

Flying Fish, Boardwalk Resort

Flying-Fish
Flying Fish, Boardwalk Resort

Besides being a lovely restaurant, food at the Flying Fish was awesome. I wish I had a picture of the foods I’d eaten at each place, but I do not.

heavy sigh

At a separate time, one of my friends having dinner with us was a Supertaster. He sat naming the ingredients in his dish… spices, too! We asked the chef to come over and test him. Amazingly, he was spot on with everything that was in his meal. The chef was impressed. I was stunned.

Artist Point, Wilderness Lodge Resort

appp
Artist Point, Wilderness Lodge Resort

Artist Point was my go-to restaurant, even having my entire family eat there with me several times. The food was fantastic and their wine list was a delight. I remember sitting in Artist Point for hours, slowly eating course after course, then having a dessert made especially for us. One of our favorite desserts was dark chocolate wafers with a dry Cabernet.

Mmmmm!

The chef got to know my poly partners and me and never made the same vegetarian dish twice. Always delicious! When I was eating for the vegetarian book, the chef made especially awesome dishes for us all. (One thing I remember about almost all of my meals was the pine tree-like rosemary sticking up from one mashed food or other.)

I haven’t been to Artist Point in at least 10 years, but know if I sat down there tonight, the meal would be amazing.

Kona Café, Polynesian Resort

Kona-Cafe
Kona Café, Polynesian Resort

Kona Café used to be the best place to get coffee at Disney World. The coffee beans were from Kona, Hawai’i and they really did make the most delicious coffee.

Researching right now, the space is actually a “casual dining” restaurant! With a sushi bar! The coffee is all but a footnote on the menu. I am sure it is still the best coffee in the World.

Cítricos, Grand Floridian Resort

citricos
Cítricos Restaurant, Grand Floridian Resort

I’ve been to Cítricos only a handful of times. They serve seafood and Tuscan Italian food, which isn’t my favorite. It’s a gorgeous restaurant with great service and am sure my veggie dish was good (as I said I can’t think of one meal I didn’t like anywhere on Disney property.) and I don’t remember anyone complaining about their food but me. I do remember having Italian wine and missing the California wines I was used to.

Yachtsman Restaurant, Yacht Club Resort

yachtsman
Yachtsman Steakhouse, Yacht Club Resort

The Yachtsman Steakhouse, obviously, serves steaks. Huge, giant slabs of beef. I cannot remember what I had, but do remember using a menu to hide Zack’s plate that had a pool of blood underneath his steak. Blech. Carnivores love the place and I might even like it now! I do have my steak medium well and eat it with ketchup. (I know… why bother?!? Kind of what I said for a long time as a vegetarian!)

Maya Grill, Coronado Springs Resort

maya gril1l
Maya Grill, Coronado Springs Result

I loved Maya Grill! And had a crush on Beatriz, the chef at the time. Beatriz took me back in the kitchen a couple of times, letting me photograph her hands as she prepped for the dinner crowd. One of the things she made was chimichurri, a dip I slurped up hungrily… until I saw it was made with green peppers. Then I couldn’t eat it anymore. Isn’t that silly? I know! But it just messed with my world view of hating peppers.

Mexican food is easy to make vegetarian and when we were food tasting for the book, my dinner was delicious… and very different from the other restaurants.

California Grill, Contemporary Resort

cg
California Grill, Contemporary Resort

Ahhhh, now the California Grill. I’ve eaten there dozens of times… as a vegetarian, vegan and carnivore. Never ever ever have I had to send something back. As the name suggests, the cuisine is California-oriented, and it is delicious.

If you are lucky enough to eat here, you must ask for Walter. He opened the restaurant and is still there 22 years later. He is worth waiting for, I promise.

Besides the food, the restaurant overlooks the Magic Kingdom. In the picture above, you can see the fireworks over Cinderella Castle and how lovely Space Mountain is covered in lights. While watching fireworks from inside is nice, I prefer the catwalk outside. In the olden days, very few people knew about that 15th floor perch and I took friends out there to impress them. And they were impressed!

Used to be you could just go up for the fireworks, but now you must have reservations to be allowed on the elevator up. So, make reservations! Eat dessert and coffee if your budget is on the small side (you do not have to tell the podium folks what you are going to eat… keep it to yourself!) or dinner if you’re wanting to spend some money on magnificent food and wine. Reservations around firework time are harder to get, so we usually made reservations either far far in advance or about 6pm and just eat several courses slowly. Tip your waiter damn good if you stay at the table for 4 hours!

There was a Dessert Chef we knew up there at one time and we’d sit at the small area overlooking the making of the desserts. Watching them being made is magic! Incredible soufflés, wondrous crème brûlée and then the most creative desserts for kids! From rice cereal sushi to bowls of dark cookie dirt with gummy worms hidden inside.

For the food review, I know we had an amazing time, a window table overlooking the Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon, with peeks at the Polynesian. That meal I can remember like it was yesterday. Exquisite.

I last ate at the California Grill with my daughter Meghann her family and my mama. We had a beautiful time! And yes, Walter was our waiter. As he was for Meghann’s honeymoon meal 10 years earlier and the server for many, many of the great meals I had on the 15th floor of the Contemporary Resort.

Serendipity

It was pure luck that I was able to go around the World and eat and drink so well for 3 weeks. We had so much fun! I think everyone should be able to do the same.

It’s your turn!

California-Grill_Full_19457
Vegetarian Dish at California Grill

Kakigōri & Michael Flatley

June 6, 1999

The girls and I headed to Epcot at Walt Disney World, me in an Electric Convenience Vehicle… an ECV… and they walking.

ECV

I always had my camera equipment and we carried our yellow Mickey ponchos for the inevitable afternoon thunderstorms.

poncho

As we wended our way around World Showcase, we went inside The American Adventure to listen to the Voices of Liberty, an amazing a Capella group that sings beautiful songs about America… and a couple of Disney tunes thrown in. (Not quite sure where the other voices are coming from, but they vanish around 2 minutes in.)

America Gardens Theater

When you walk out of the The American Adventure (which we had been in dozens of times so did not go this day), across the way, is the America Gardens Theater. I have to show you several pictures because they will be relevant later in the story.

EC-AGTheater-BE-N
America Gardens Theater, Epcot, Walt Disney World

It’s a wonderful theater with great acoustics.

The day we were there, Michael Flatley Lord of the Dance was performing. I had never seen them before so was really excited.

Because I had the ECV, we were led to the Handicapped Section. It was about 8 rows from the stage and I was on the far left of the benches.

photo 2
This is the handicapped row. I was sitting on the other side by the man walking in the blue shirt. You can see how close we were to the stage.

Kakigōri

It being June in Florida, it was damn hot. I tend to get to places early (movies, shows, parties, etc.) and this was no exception. Waiting, it was suffocatingly hot. While we always carried water, that Kakigōri booth in Japan, which is next to The American Adventure, beckoned. We needed something cold!

Kakigōri, a Japanese treat, is a sort of snow cone, or if you know Hawai’i Shave Ice, it is similar to that as well. Besides the syrups they add (your choices), some people enjoy cream in theirs. (Blech!)

kakigori

Not long after we were sitting in the flippin’ hot sun, the girls were sent on a mission to get the Kakigōri cones. I love cherry, and when they have it, grape. Yum! We three sat eating our snow cones, waiting for the show to start.

It finally did.

Michael Flatley Lord of the Dance

The show began with an amazing display of Irish dancing, men and women, moving in unison, the legs kicking while the tops of their bodies were stock still. It was delightful fun!

Midway through the show, a soloist came out and began singing the most lovely ballad… her soprano voice soaring into the air around us.

ld41

Feedback

Then the feedback started. A blaring eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee that was the strangest thing ever! Disney is meticulous with their sound systems, it was bizarre having feedback.

People were looking around. Why hadn’t the sound people fixed it yet? Crazy!

Then I see a Cast Member wending his way through the crowd… in a hurry… was everything okay? Holy crap, he was heading… towards… me?

“Ma’am, can you get off the ECV’s horn?”

I looked down and my bulging fat belly was leaning on the red horn button, causing the horrid “feedback.”

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

I leaned back and, miraculously, the feedback stopped.

People everywhere were staring. Right at me. I was filled with embarrassment.

And then I started laughing.

The girls and I got the sillies, thinking about me causing all that ruckus. It took every bit of control to not howl with laughter through the rest of the performance.

We’ve continued laughing for almost 20 years now.

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Napa Rose at Disneyland

Ahhhh, Napa Rose at the Grand Californian at Disneyland/Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, California.

Disney's_Grand_Californian
Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa, Disneyland, Anaheim, CA

So Many Stories

Napa Rose is my absolute favorite Disney restaurant. Besides the exquisite food, the staff is one of the most unobtrusively attentive.

I’ve eaten at Napa Rose with my family (several times), just Zack and I (several times) and by myself (a few times). I can remember almost every dinner, too. That’s gotta say something.

Michael Jordan, Master Sommelier

The very first visit, Zack and I were in awe. The decor of the restaurant, how it overlooked Disney California Adventure… and then there was Michael Jordan.

Jordan isn’t at Napa Rose anymore, but we were blessed to experience him during his 8-year tenure. He’s a Master Sommelier, 1 of 15 in the world!

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Master Sommelier, Michael Jordan in the Wine Room at Napa Rose.

When we were seated, we studied the wine list, then decided to ask Jordan for his recommendation. He came up, a delightful smile on his face… one of the most humble men I’ve ever met. We talked for a long time and when he learned I was a midwife, he said his mother was a midwife and she’d delivered Frank Sinatra (who was 13.5 pounds and had an incredibly difficult birth) in Hoboken, New Jersey. Apparently the birth was so difficult, they called in a doctor who used forceps on the baby Frank Sinatra, scarring him for life. And then he said that Dolly Sinatra delivered him! What a fun story that bonded Jordan to us within minutes. And he did, indeed choose an awesome bottle of wine for us. That night and every other night we ate there.

napa rose
Napa Rose interior, overlooking the wolf (or bear) inside Disney California Adventure.

Mushroom Soup

After my gastric bypass in 2001, a woman in Anaheim wanted to meet to talk about my experience. I was eating tiny bits of food at the time and did worry about what I was going to eat. I didn’t need to! The chef blended up some of their mushroom soup for me and I took my first slurp with him standing there, loving the soup so very much.

mushroom-soup
Napa Rose Mushroom Soup

About 10 spoonfuls in, I began to feel ill. The mushroom soup was incredibly rich with cream and my new gastric bypass body could not handle it. I began to dump (when the body cannot process sugar or fats and floods it with insulin to try to metabolize the offending food… called Dumping Syndrome).

I excused myself from my new friend and hightailed it to the bathroom so I could moan in peace. The hypoglycemia was so bad (and I did not recognize it at that time), all I could do was lay on the cool floor, curled into a ball. Someone heard me and went to Jordan who called EMS. They got there fast, while I was still clinging to the ceramic floor and kept asking me if they could give me an insulin shot. I was in a daze, but haltingly explained the gastric bypass and the dumping that comes from it. After 30 or so minutes on the floor, the distress slowly lessened. EMS stayed to take care of, or transport, me. I remember when I could sit up again, realizing I was laying on a bathroom floor… one of the grossest places on earth. Blessedly, the restaurant had just opened so at least it was still clean and I wouldn’t have nightmares about acquiring germs and laying in filth.

I said goodbye to my friend and drove the hour back home.

Dining with the Kidlets

kids

I can see us eating at Napa Rose right this moment… as if it was yesterday.

The 4 kids (Zack’s son included), Zack and I and Napa Rose. Michael Jordan would choose us a nice bottle of wine and we would settle in for some great food and fun conversation.

One particularly hilarious conversation occurred when I was on-call as a midwife. San Diego was 90 minutes away, so when I went, I asked my ladies to give me an earlier heads-up than they might have otherwise. So when one of my moms called, I excused myself and went to talk in the bathroom, away from the table.

When I came back, the kids started peppering me with questions: Did her water break? Does she have gloppies? (Gloppies are when women are getting ripe, losing their mucus plug, etc.) Is she engorged? (If she was nursing.) I could hardly talk from laughing so hard at how my entire family knows so so much about childbirth and breastfeeding… through osmosis!

Our Favorites

We ate here so often, we all had our constant favorites.

Zack’s son loved the Sizzling Beach Rock Appetizer.

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Sizzling Hot Beach Appetizer

The rock under the shrimp was hot as fire and the food on skewers would be laid on the rock to cook. It really was an awesome display of creativity.

My favorite was the Lobster Martini. I can taste it right this second.

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Lobster Martini

Lobster, avocado, mango and a pinch of something spicy combined to delight me every time. If I went to the restaurant and it wasn’t on the menu, the chef would make it for me anyway. I sure would love one now!

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Heirloom Tomato Salad

Michael Jordan had an enormous garden at his home and when the heirloom tomatoes came into season, he harvested them and brought them to work. Organic, so so so sweet, with a light mango dressing. Delicioso!

While the desserts at Napa Rose were amazing, sometimes I wanted the Cheese Plate. Exquisite cheeses and breads, always something new each time I went.

Diligently Selected Cheeses @ Napa Rose Lounge
Cheese Plate

As I said, the desserts were amazing.

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Dessert Sampler

This Sampler Plate has 3 of my favorite things at Napa Rose: the Vanilla Crème Brûlée, the “World’s Best Hot Chocolate” (at $13 a cup!) and the crunchy lacy thing standing up on the Chocolate Mousse in the back.

I loved the crunchy lace cookie-like treat and would ask for a big bowl of them. Yum! Especially with the Hot Chocolate!

Zack, on the other hand, liked some dark chocolate while he finished off our delicious red wine that Michael Jordan had chosen for us.

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Dark Chocolate Discs

heavy sigh

I would love to visit Napa Rose again. Tonight! Instead, you go for me!

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