Aug 14, 2008






Free dining again!


Yes, I admit it, we are foodies! When we got the chance to book a vacation package through with free dining, we just grabbed it. On Aug. 14 our free dining dreams came true,




we were still in Fort Lauderdale. So after having a shower and packing up all our stuff again we went down to the hotel restaurant to enjoy our free breakfast.

Tom tried the scrambled eggs, ham, sausages, salsa and biscuits and gravy with pulled beef. I just had scrambled eggs, sausages and biscuits and gravy. The biscuits and gravy were just horrible. Thick, lumpy and tasteless white sauce – yuck! Tom made some toast for both of us and we enjoyed the rest of the breakfast items. They even had some batter mix to make your own waffle. Tom made one for us to share and we had it with breakfast syrup and it was very nice.

After breakfast we headed back to the room and started to bring all our luggage down to the car. There was a lift conveniently located two rooms down the hall and it took us right down to our car. Unfortunately when we wanted to bring down our luggage the lift was out of order! We had to walk down a long hallway across the whole hotel, use the other lift and then had to cross the garage again to get to the car. It took two trips to the garage to transport all our things down to the car. After that we checked out of the hotel and started our trip to Orlando and WALT DISNEY WORLD. Since we were driving along the beach and we had picked up a handful of sand at all the beaches we had been to, we decided to stop and get some. Actually Tom went back to the beach to get the sand, while I stayed in the car with the luggage. It is a very long and boring drive from Fort Lauderdale to Walt Disney World and took a little over 4 hours. We arrived at Port Orleans Riverside shortly after 2pm, parked the car and went to check in.

There was quite a line, but after about 10 minutes it was our turn. A very nice castmember checked us in and asked if we preferred pool or river view. River view for me please!! Well, our room was ready and we were all set to go and check it out. Our room was in Oak Manor and we had stayed there before, so nothing but nice memories. We went quite a detour to find our room, only to find out that it was the most wonderful corner room, with actually two windows looking straight out onto the Sassagoula river. How much luckier can you get! We went into the room and it was beautiful!

We were SO happy with it! On the way back to the car we realized that the shortest way to our room was actually walking along a path between two manor houses. So much easier if you have to haul a lot of luggage to your room. Once everything was in the room we relaxed for a while, then got changed and went to the Disney Hollywood Studios, where we had reservations for the Mama Melrose Fantasmic Package.

Once we had entered the studios we were surprised on how crowded the park was. We went straight to Guest Relations to ask if we could renew our Disney Dining Experience card there. Sure we could and in NO time we were handed a new card which is now valid until the end of September 09, so will be very helpful for our next visit as well. Since we had a little time to spare we strolled through the shops and checked out their new merchandise. We finally made our way over to Mama Melrose and arrived there about 15 minutes early and while waiting for our table saw numerous people being turned away. We were shown to a table right opposite the open kitchen and our server was right there a few minutes later.

She explained that even though we were on the regular Disney Dining Plan we were allowed and appetizer, entrée and dessert, since we had booked the Fantasmic Package. What a way to start our free dining! We both ordered our diet cokes and then decided what we wanted to have. Tom had the Crispy Calamari with peppers and onions and a side of spicy marinara sauce. He had had those before and they were just as yummy. Very nice and spicy starter. I had the Mozzarella and Tomatoes - with marinated sweet onions, balsamic drizzle, extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil. The tomatoes were fragrant and went very well with the mozzarella and the stewed sweet onions.

For our main courses, Tom chose the Charred Butcher Tender Steak cooked medium with gorgonzola butter on roasted red pepper polenta, grilled asparagus and red wine reduction, while I tried the Wood-grilled Chicken tossed with Pipette pasta with artichokes, peas, roasted red peppers in a basil and four cheese cream sauce. Both entrees were very nice and the pasta dish was a huge helping. I could not finish it. For dessert Tom had the Warm Chocolate Truffle Cake while I tried the Honey Hazelnut and Ricotta Cheesecake. Both desserts were heavenly. After dinner we thought about what we were to do now. We decided to check out if there was something we could ride without waiting for a long time. All the lines were rather long, so we decided to leave the park and head over to Publix to stock up on drinks and snacks. We then took everything back to the resort and went over to Epcot for Extra Magic Hours. Epcot was packed.

We picked up a wristband and headed for Spaceship Earth, but it had quite a line. Over to the tipboard. Everything had quite a line shortly before 9pm. So we checked out the merchandise at Mouse Gear and went over to Soarin right when the fireworks started. Amazingly enough the line was only 30 minutes, so we got in it. It was 30 minutes, but we didn’t even have to ask for row one. There were still two spots there for us – yeah! I enjoyed Soarin like always and after that ride we went over to Mission Space. Not too much of a line, so we went in and rode in the Orange Team. No matter how often we have ridden Mission Space, it never fails to amaze us – wonderful ride! Well done, Disney!

We both were rather tired by then and decided that even though the park was open until midnight we would leave early. On the way out we were able to get onto Spaceship Earth without waiting and were amazed by the changes they have made to it. What fun to create your own future in the end. We left after having been on Spaceship Earth and went back to our room and it didn’t take long for us to fall asleep.