In Orlando

Dec. 6th, 2015 11:47 am
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
I'm in Orlando now at a giant hotel complex attached to disney. There is no escape from bad music and noise and the food is gross and bed is too hard. I spent the night tossing around in agony. There is no escape! I got the hotel people to bring me an extra "mattress pad" but that didn't help and then I got the quilt off the other bed and laid on it. let's just say I am not good at camping or any sort of survival that includes sleeping on a hard surface. this is also why hospitals are like extra torture. fuck! I feel very whiny. I also got in at 9:30 but only got to my hotel room at midnight and then the only room service was a gross sounding pizza or cold salad. which made me sad as i had only had some cheese on the airplane so needed real food. the 24 hour restaurant was super gross buffet tacos which I don't even understand how they could be so nasty. One of my least favorite "fun" things is spending time in the sorts of food courts that they have in museum basements. Everywhere to eat here so far has been like that.

I do notice everyone who works here being "extra nice" but it is like Mormons. I cannot cope.

On the other hand the view out my window is pretty. This morning I wandered around long walkways by a huge pond and played ingress in the sun. If only there weren't 3 different "classic rock" and xmas music songs playing at once over outdoor speakers. I found a "grocery store" on a "boardwalk" which was not a grocery store but i was able to buy apple juice, an apple, and some nilla wafers. I am now in the sun by a pool with fast wireless doing some work. Also almost pleasant. This all reminds me of living in Irvine but with much more noise and not very nice landscaping. Nothing is _actually_ nice but it has this facade of nice.

Basically it is my definition of hell. I can't believe people come here on purpose. People who are not even little children come here for their dying wish. Whattttt.

My head hurts, I think from airplane sinuses and bad sleep and the constant noise here. Half a tramadol and more coffee now, mai tai by the pool in a little bit. Maybe a massage. I do like being in the sun and warm weather. uuuuugh save me.

Date: 2015-12-06 05:45 pm (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_rck
I really, really hate hard beds. The pain makes deep sleep pretty much impossible, and most people just don't understand because 'firm' mattresses are supposedly so much better for you. I've actually learned not to tell doctors what sort of mattress (air bladder set really, really low) I sleep on because they always tell me that I'm doing terrible things to myself.

Fortunately, when we went to Orlando, four years ago, we stayed off site in a little by the week apartment that my husband's parents had rented. The bed was awful, but it was quiet, and the place was set up with the assumption that we'd buy groceries and make our own food. I can't walk very far or for very long, so I had an excuse to simply hang out at the apartment all week while everyone else tramped around various parks in the sun and rain.

Date: 2015-12-06 06:29 pm (UTC)
mecurtin: My fat cat sneakers demands pettins (pet.the.tummy.)
From: [personal profile] mecurtin
UGH, I resonate with every word of your post. We've never been to Orlando, because to both of us it sounds like paying to stay in hell. I feel all dehydrated just reading this, so be sure to drink lots of water -- it's a big help flushing out the barrage of crap from the bad food and canned atmosphere.

Date: 2015-12-06 06:32 pm (UTC)
sanguinity: woodcut by M.C. Escher, "Snakes" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sanguinity
Never been to the one in Orlando, but the one in Anaheim I refer to as "The Crankiest Place on Earth." And the only reason there isn't profanity in that phrase is because I first dubbed it that as a child. :-/

May your tenure at Disney be short, and your sleep improve!

Date: 2015-12-06 11:29 pm (UTC)
jesse_the_k: Slings & Arrows' Anna sez: "I'll smack you so hard your cousin will fall down!" (Anna smacks hard)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
Horrrrrrible. My sympathies.

Your bed! No! No!

I'm sending all the drinks.

Date: 2015-12-07 12:23 am (UTC)
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
From: [personal profile] synecdochic
Do you want some food tips for Disney World? It's easy to eat bad overpriced counter food, but there's some fabulous food to be found if you look for it!

Date: 2015-12-07 05:09 pm (UTC)
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
From: [personal profile] synecdochic
Okay, having looked up where you are, I'M SO SORRY, yeah that complex is a bit awful for food. (It is in the weird position of being a not-Disney Disney hotel, for long and boring reasons.) The fancy places there are supposedly good, but everything else is pretty dire.

The good news is that if you're there, you have access to all the Disney transportation, even if you don't have park tickets. That means you can get to all the other Disney resorts, even if it's a bit of a pain to get to some of them from where you are. (Disney does not run resort->resort buses; you have to transfer at one of the hubs, aka the four parks + Downtown Disney, excuse me, Disney Springs, to do it.) Most of the resorts that are not "value" resorts have at least one sit-down restaurant, and some of them range from "very good" to "absolutely amazing".

Side note re: Disney transportation: it's so totally accessible. Every bus can take three wheelchairs/power chairs, every bus driver is fully trained, and 99% of them are perfectly lovely about it. (The other 1% is usually just tired and cranky.) I have never had a bad experience with the 'chair on WDW transport.

Here are my suggestions, in more or less "how easy it is to get there" order. Check for reservations -- they're pretty much required for all of these, although you can make reservations day-of or just when you're ready to eat. (I think they need 20 minutes ahead.) Each restaurant also has menus listed, so you can check to see if they appeal.

Mostly concentrating on the sit-down places, although I'll cover the counter service briefly, too.

Walkable/rideable/reachable by water launch

* If you hop on the water launch, it will bring you to the Boardwalk Resort. (I believe it's also walkable/rollable.) Boardwalk has a lot of options, from the bakery (which is fairly good) to the fancy. The Flying Fish Cafe is the fancy end; it's really good and a beautiful atmosphere. Trattoria al Forno is the more casual restaurant -- we haven't eaten there (it was something else the last time we went).

* The Yacht and Beach Club, also reachable via water launch or walkable/rollable, has the Yachtsman Steakhouse. We haven't eaten there (yet!) but it's another of the Signature Dining options, and it's fairly well reviewed.

* Also at the Beach Club is the Beaches & Cream Soda Shop, which is an old-fashioned ice cream parlor with a basic burgers/etc type menu as well.

* If you have park tickets (I know sometimes conferences at WDW offer tickets as conference benefits), you have all of Epcot at your disposal -- it is also water launchable/walkable/rollable. You've just missed the Food & Wine Festival, which has some great options, but it also draws a bunch of drunk people, so you're probably better off there. ;) Still, Epcot has tons of restaurants, and they range, like so much at WDW, from "really awesome" to "meh".

Worth it: Coral Reef (seafood -- with a view on the huge aquarium tank), Le Cellier (Canadian steakhouse -- this is a really hard table to get, since the restaurant is tiny and books up fast, but they sometimes have day-before cancellations and if you can get it, it's probably one of the best meals on-property), Restaurant Marrakesh (Moroccan -- the head chef is a darling, we went to a food/wine pairing event there last time we were down for Food & Wine Festival, and they have a great wine list; the food is also fabulous), San Angel Inn Restaurante (solidly executed Mexican, inside the Mexico pavillion with a view on the boat ride -- the only caveat is that it's very darkly lit), Via Napoli (brick-oven pizza, really well done).

Not worth it: Askerhus (Norwegian buffet, character dining meal) Biergarten (German buffet), Garden Grill (classic American, character dining meal), Nine Dragons (Americanized Chinese), Teppan Edo (yer basic hibachi deal), Tutto Italia (decent enough Italian, but too expensive and inconsistently executed).

Have not tried to say one way or the other: Chefs de France, Il Mulino, La Hacienda de San Angel, Monsieur Paul, Rose & Crown, Spice Road Table (but we've heard really good things), Tokyo Dining.

The best counter service in Epcot: the takeout sushi joint at the Japan pavillion. Just your standard sushi/teriyaki/etc, but it's done very well.

* Hollywood Studios is also reachable via water launch, and also requires park admission. There's nothing here that's really worth making the trip for, though. (DHS is our least favorite park and we don't usually stay there long enough to have to eat!)


Single bus ride, no transfer needed

* Single bus ride to Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney, which will be what I call it for the rest of forever), no transfer required: Raglan Road, an Irish pub with pretty good upscale pub food and Bongos Cuban Cafe, Cuban food. (There's also Wolfgang Puck and Morimoto Asia, neither of which we've eaten at but both of them are 'signature dining' and are very well reviewed.) There's also a bunch of counter service places here that suck less than your standard theme-park food, although none of them are tremendously exciting, and a Ghiradelli store with ice cream counter, which would be kind of like coals to Newcastle for you but still.

* The Magic Kingdom is kind of sad, food-options-wise (it was the first park and built well before they really started caring about the food), but it does have Be Our Guest, which is the hot new reservation. We haven't eaten there yet, but everyone who has raves about it. (It will be hard to get a table, though.) If you're stuck in the MK and need a quick meal, the best counter service options are Pecos Bill's Cafe in Frontierland (your standard burgers/hot dogs/chicken fingers/etc, but consistently the best execution, and it's got a good fixins bar) and/or Cosmic Ray's in Tomorrowland, which is your standard theme park food but has good salads and has the most wonderful, cheesiest floor show. (It's an audio-animatronic lounge lizard telling awful sci-fi themed jokes.) Still, I would not go to the MK to eat unless you're already going to be there. (We usually leave the MK and eat at one of the monorail resorts instead.)

* Single bus ride to Animal Kingdom, park admission required: the Yak & Yeti is kind of like what Pei Wei wants to be when it grows up (Americanized Asian, but really well executed). Tusker House is a Pan-African buffet that's got some great dishes you don't find elsewhere. (It's character dining for breakfast & lunch, but not for dinner, thankfully.) Still, if pan-African sounds good, don't make a trip to the park just to eat here; go to Boma instead, which is a bus transfer but is even better. More about that in a few.

(Side note: the Animal Kingdom is my favorite of the four parks. If you decide that you want to brave one and only one park, make it that one. You don't even need to ride anything: just wander around, absorb the detailing on everything, look at the animal exhibits (the nature trails in particular are beautiful and wonderfully peaceful, especially the aviaries), and then go through the line for Expedition Everest -- they have a diversion at the boarding zone, and many people do walk the line without riding. The line is one of the most immersive bits of storytelling I've ever seen.)


One bus ride plus a walk and/or monorail ride:

The "monorail resorts" (the resorts over by the Magic Kingdom) have some of the most world-class dining at Disney. To get there, you take a bus to the Magic Kingdom (no theme park admission required), then either walk/roll (to the Contemporary) or get on the monorail (to the Grand Floridian).

* Take a bus to the Magic Kingdom, get off the bus and turn right to go down the path to the Contemporary: here you have The Wave (casual seasonal new American), which is one of our favorite restaurants on-property. Exceptionally well executed and well conceptualized seasonal dishes. There's also the California Grill, which is "signature dining", and is fancier new American/Pacific-fusion: also well executed and well conceptualized, a lot more creative, but also more expensive. (Bonus for the California Grill: you can either step out on the rooftop deck to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks, or -- if your reservation is not at the right time -- come back to watch them. They pipe the soundtrack over the deck, and it's the best way to see the show without having to be in the MK.)

* Take a bus ride to the Magic Kingdom, get off the bus, turn left, go past the park entrance, go up the ramp to the monorail entrance, get on the local (not the express) and get off at the Grand Floridian: here is where you will find the really epic options. Citricos is Mediterranean fusion; Narcoossee's is Florida fancy with a seafood concentration, and Victoria & Alberts is the exceptionally highbrow, Michelin-starred fine dining if you want to splurge. (That one needs reservations 24h in advance.) We've eaten at Citricos and Narcoossee's (which also has fireworks viewing, btw) and they're both fabulous. V&A is on our List of things we want to do one of these trips...


Two bus rides, transfer required

Normally I would not suggest this, but this is the restaurant that I send people to when they're utterly fed up with all the food everywhere else on property!

* Take a bus to any of the parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, or Hollywood Studios) or to Disney Springs. Once there, go to the bus line for Animal Kingdom Lodge, and go to Boma. It's a pan-African buffet that inevitably has a ton of things you've never seen before, and they do a great job keeping things freshly made and high-quality, unlike what you think of when you hear 'buffet'. Also, the chocolate zebra cakes on the dessert pod are to die for. (AKL also has a signature dining place called Jiko, but we honestly think it's overhyped; it's one of the few signature-dining restaurants we could take or leave. We'd rather eat at Boma.) The AKL is also a beautiful hotel, and has a savannah with viewing stations that is great for spending a peaceful hour in the calm and quiet before/after your meal.

Date: 2015-12-08 10:02 am (UTC)
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
From: [personal profile] synecdochic

Glad to be of service! We go every few years (used to be every year, but we've started having other regular trips) and we adore it. I know it's not for everyone, but if you're stuck there, I can at least offer some suggestions on how to get through it properly. ;)

Date: 2015-12-08 10:47 pm (UTC)
emceeaich: A close-up of a pair of cats-eye glasses (Default)
From: [personal profile] emceeaich
Yes! Thank you!

Date: 2015-12-07 12:26 am (UTC)
hederahelix: Mature General Organa and "A woman's place is leading the resistance." (Default)
From: [personal profile] hederahelix
Airplanes and sinuses never play nice together, and it sucks. Also, and I say this as someone who had an annual pass to Disneyland for a number of years, your analogy to Irvine is spot on. That place never ceases to feel a lot like an X - Files episode to me, and I find the effects of Disney in Florida much more pronounced than the one in CA. ( I think it's a saturation issue. The park in Florida feels to me like it's got more complete control over larger plots of land. the parkmin Anaheim is constrained in its ability to consume more land.)

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