Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Right Back Where We Started From

After a near disaster at the Pirates' League, we decided to grab a quick lunch and make a rapid escape back to our hotel room for a long, much-needed rest.  Our 5-day trip to Disney World was nearing its end, and we'd maintained a high-energy pace through most of it.  Furthermore, I knew the kids would need their rest to fully enjoy the ultimate celebration I'd planned for our final night: dinner at Chef Mickey's in the Contemporary Resort, followed by the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party back at the Magic Kingdom.

Tip Time: One of the biggest benefits of staying at an onsite Disney resort is the abundant, complimentary transportation from your hotel to the theme parks.  Buses, monorails, and watercraft operate continuously throughout the day, making it easy to escape back to your hotel for a much-needed midday rest.  A Disney World vacation is full of magic and fun, but it is very stimulating.  To maximize your time and energy, arrive at the theme parks before they open.  Tour the parks hard for 3-4 hours, then return to your resort after lunch for a break (when the parks are at their hottest and most crowded anyway).  After a nap or a swim, head back to the theme parks in the late afternoon or early evening.  Staying at an onsite resort makes it easy to do this.

Almost immediately upon arriving back at the Beach Club, Jack and Sadie both collapsed on their beds and fell asleep.  Truthfully, the grown-ups were not far behind them!  After a few hours of rest, we all felt fully restored and ready to take on our final evening at Disney World.  First stop, Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort!

Tip Time: Chef Mickey's is one of three onsite Disney World locations where guests can dine with some combination of the following classic characters: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and Pluto.  It is also one of the most difficult reservations to secure, so be sure to book your meals 180 days before your trip.

Chef Mickey's is located at Disney's Contemporary Resort, the only hotel within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom.  For those who would prefer not to walk, the Contemporary Resort is on the monorail loop to the Magic Kingdom; in fact, it runs directly through the hotel!!  Since we were planning to end our evening at the Magic Kingdom, Chef Mickey's was the perfect choice for dinner.

When we walked through the front doors of the Contemporary Resort, I was immediately hit with a wave of nostalgia.  We'd stayed at the Contemporary Resort on our first Disney trip, and although our subsequent Disney vacations have been absolutely amazing as well, I knew that nothing would ever quite compare to the pure magic we'd felt on that first trip.  As the rest of my family continued on to the restaurant, I lagged behind for a moment to take in my surroundings.  My private trip down memory lane was short-lived, however, shattered by the piercing voice of my daughter as she impatiently yelled over her shoulder, "Come ON, Mom!!  It's time to eat with Mickey!"

Dinner at Chef Mickey's

So off we went!  Prior to this trip, I'd never had the opportunity to eat at Chef Mickey's, so I was excited to try it out.  With its stellar reviews and difficulty of securing a reservation, I'd assumed that we were in for a real treat.  I was wrong.  To be fair, there was nothing really terrible about the restaurant.  The food was fine, the characters were fine, everything was fine.  In my opinion, however, Chef Mickey's does not hold a candle to Tusker House at Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Tusker House features the same cast of characters, but the food at Tusker House is infinitely more interesting, the staff is more attentive, and the characters spent more time with us.  In the Chef Mickey's vs. Tusker House contest, Tusker House absolutely gets my vote.

After dinner, we hopped on the monorail and headed for the Magic Kingdom.  When I first started planning this trip, I knew that I wanted to end our vacation with the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular, the nightly fireworks display at the Magic Kingdom.  On our first trip, we'd all been absolutely enthralled by the show.  Not as enthralling, however, were the hordes of people jostling for a viewing spot.  Even less thrilling was the post-fireworks logjam as some guests tried to leave and others attempted to head back into the park to hop on one last attraction.  To avoid the crowds and guarantee a stress-free departure after the show, I decided to make a reservation at the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party.  It was, hands-down, one of the best decisions I'd made on the entire trip.

Next Up: Dessert and a Deluge

Meredith McCutcheon
Disney Specialist, Ginger's Getaways
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