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Disney/Universal Report Days 1-3

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Weds: Universal

Spent a grueling 12 hours in the park. Ate breakfast at the rental and packed lunches so that we could go, go, go. We had 7:00 pm reservations at Emerils in City Walk-the "only" time available. We got there and the place was empty, maybe two tables occupied, a handful a people at the bar. We were immediately seated….next to the kitchen door. It was wide open and you could smell that commercial kitchen smell. Not only that the view was not of the chefs, etc, it was the clean up section complete with barrels for trash and bins for dirty dishes. We were given menu's and before we could ask to be moved two in our party noticed that the menu seemed very different than the one on line. There wasnt an entree for under $35, most averaged in the mid $50's. Tasting menu seemed a value in comparison at $65. With two kids in tow however we realized that this was quickly going to turn into a $350+ meal so we decided it wasn't worth it especially considering we were exhausted and weary. Plus after paying the price to get in the park with all the nickel and dime upgrades we were done and knew our money would be wasted. So we left and ended up next door at PastaMore.

Pastamore was serviceable at best but what it lost in cuisine it more than made up with the service. Two in our party had pretty basic pasta dishes, I had the special pizza of the day (two kinds of mushrooms with "buffalo" mozzarella), kids has lasagna, another adult had short rib risotto. Our server was friendly, efficient and funny. The chef came by our table, sat and talked to the kids for a while. They loved that. Prices were reasonable. Nothing special but it was an easy way to end the day. Anything else would have been wasted on us, we were exhausted!!

Thursday: Magic Kingdom

Breakfast at home and packed lunches again. Dinner was the "spirit of aloha" dinner show at the Polynesian. Food was mediocre at best but plentiful-which the men and kids appreciated after another grueling day in the parks. Kids loved the coconut rolls and chicken. Desserts were warm cookies and chocolate mousse. Show was hokey and dated. A perfect stereotypical Disney ending!

Friday: Hollywood Studios/Epcot

A quick breakfast at DD and lunch at the "ABC Commissary" which I passed on for some fruit and yogurt at a nearby stand. The rest of group had burgers and fries. Considering they all come from a central kitchen everyone loved them, especially the fries which were crispy, hot and just the right amount of saltiness.

After exhausting everything there (loved star wars and the indi show!) it was a quick trip over to Epcot to try to get fast passes for soaring (gone!) We took a short tour of Norway and Germany. We had amazing caramels in Germany. Grabbed some Dole whips with spiced rum on our way to dinner at Kouzzina located at Boardwalk resort, which was a huge success.

We all split a baked goat cheese appetizer which was creamy and delicious. Topped with roasted red peppers, dotted with artichokes heart and olives it was a great start to the meal. This was followed by a plate of crispy calamari, a tasting of hummus, whipped feta and olive tapenade all served with warm pita. Two had the spicy seafood stew which was huge winner to both the adult and kid who had them. Our son had the sampler of lamb sliders, cinnamon chicken and greek lasagna. He loved the burger, thought the lasagna was good but too rich and didn't care for the chicken. My husband had the full serving of lasagna and agreed it was great but really too rich for the portion size. I had the spicy shrimp and hummus app as my main course and it was perfectly cooked with just the right amount of spice. The last dish was the pork tenderloin which was declared "amazing". We all shared a side of roasted brussel sprouts which were great as well. Service was quick, if not a little rushed but all and all a great meal and worth the slightly higher price tag than some other Disney places.

Tomorrow we are off to Lego Land and then another 2 mores days of Disney. We have reservations in Japan at Epcot and Raglan Road in DT Disney. No idea what tomorrow holds near Lego Land-should be interesting to find out. Hoping we can find a place for good cuban sandwiches nearby or along the way…

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  1. Sorry to get back to you so late.

    Please know that even if no one comments that we love these trips reviews and use them to help assess or recommendations.

    Just a few comments

    Not surprised about Emerils, you aren't the first person to report on that. I don't know if we've suggested this recently at all. but because of the name and location people tend to go while they are here.

    In my experience Magic Kingdom just doesn't have many if at all good food options. I'd rather make reservations over at Epcot.

    When Kouzzina opened I saw a flood of reviews about bad service and inconsistent flood, so I never rushed there. Recently I've seen a lot of reviews about how it is very great. Maybe they just needed to iron the kinks out. Which means I need to go try it. Soon, very soon.

    How was the rest of your trip?
    How was it Teppan Edo for you?
    My thought is that if you've been to Kobe or Bennihana's you've kinda been to Teppan Edo. Hibachi is a funny thing because it isn't popular in Japan, it's only popular in America. But I hope you had a great time.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sandwich_Sister

      The rest of trip was great, thanks! Here is the rest of our report

      After LegoLand we had a wonderful meal at Big Fin located near Universal. Split about a pound of stone crabs, which were big, meaty and very good, some homemade chips with truffle oil and a couple of salads to start. Mains were salmon Rockefeller, their version of fish stew, a pretty good steak and shrimp scampi. OK , but not great, wines by the glass and some passable but weak mojitos. My martini was perfect. No idea if this is chain or not but we found everything, up until the end to be top notch.

      Dinner ended on a bad note as they seated a table of twenty directly behind us. We were ready for dessert/coffee and it took us forever to get our (up until that point excellent) server. He was clearly overwhelmed by a table that size. We ordered and a half an hour later-nothing. The kids were going down hill (we had been at Legoland ALL day) so we tried to cancel, manager came over to talk us into waiting we said no, just check please. Another 10 to get that and our server was still dealing with the 20 top. Tried to pay the bartender who refused to take our bill. Manager came back, apologized profusely, gave us his card and invited to come back. While a nice gesture we were clearly out of towners.

      Still good meal and great crabs. While they could have handled the big party better I cant really fault them as they did try to take care of it. If we every go back to the parks we would eat there again.

      Our Epcot day was exhausting as we walked everywhere. The highlight of food that day was the dole whips with spiced rum! fabulous! We grabbed a quick lunch at the outdoor mexican cafe. I wanted to wait for a few bites in Marrakech and slice of pizza in Italy but was outvoted. I could have waited but was too hungry. The food was nondescript and boring. A waste of $$ and calories. They only thing the kids liked were the churos.

      I messed up our Japan dinner. Somehow I thought Teppen Edo was the other restaurant, not the hibachi one. None of us even really like hibachi and I have never had a good one. I think in my many hours of research and planning I just got confused. Unfortunately by the time we figured it out we couldn't get in anywhere else. We were hungry and tired, the kids loved the idea of hibachi so we stayed. I had made the reservation purposely for 6:45 so that we would have plenty of time to eat, head to the Karamel Haus for dessert and then enjoy the firework show.

      Well 6:45 came and went as did 7:00, 7:15, 7:30, 7:45… We checked in every 10 minutes and was assured it was just a few more minutes. We were over a barrel and they knew it. By the time we sat down we had to wait for the whole table to order and we didn't even get our first course until close to 8:15. At this point the kids were exhausted, the adults were cranky and now we were missing Illumination. We spoke to the manager and he was pretty indifferent about the whole thing, basically told us to leave the table to watch and then come back however they would not hold our meals, they would be cooked and served while were away. So bad food, bad service and we missed both dessert and Illumination….

      Our last day was spent at Animal Kingdom and DT Disney. Animal Kingdom took much longer than we thought (and we got a late start) so we didn't get to Quest until 3:00. Our Raglan Road reservation were for 5:45 which wouldn't give us enough time to really play so we tried to reschedule but they were booked. At that late in the day the only places that could take us before 9:00 was Bongos Cuban Cafe or Portobello. We opted for Bongos.

      Bongos wasn't bad at all and I have to say their cold black bean dip was amazing!! Our other apps were ceviche which was cold and refreshing, spicy cubes of pork which were flavorful but a little tough and the empanadas. The guys got basically huge platters of meat and beans and raved. I got the flatiron steak which was cooked perfectly and the sides of rice and beans were good too. The kids got the empanadas (my son ate all four!) but I cannot remember what the other mom got other than she loved. The only negative of the evening was an indifferent server who was also very slow and the volume of the music- it was like a nightclub in there!

      All in all a good trip! I do wish the airport had a cuban cafe like you can find in Miami. We never got our cuban sandwiches and we had visions of having even mediocre ones on the plane. Next time we will plan better!

      We also said next time we will plan for more time off the parks. There are so many great restaurants in the Orlando area that we wanted to try or go back to from other visits. However we have told our son that after doing Disney every two years for the last 8 we are taking a few years off. While the parks are fun they are what I like to call a "working" vacation! We clocked 10 miles on our Epcot day alone! Barbados here we come!