Sept 6, 2010




A washed out visit to Universal


We slept in a little, got up around 9am and let Mousekeeping know that we needed a little privacy. There was lots of food in the fridge, so we snacked a little for breakfast and enjoyed some leisure time around the villa. At around 11am we walked to the car and drove to Downtown Disney to meet with Mary Ellen and Joe for lunch at Wolfgang Puckís Cafť. They were already waiting for us even though we were perfectly on time. The restaurant looked packed and they were turning away guests, but we were seated immediately. Our server seemed a bit in a hurry when he came by to introduce himself and put some bread and butter on the table. Since Tom and I were on the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan we were entitled to an appetizer, but there was always so much food, that we decided to order our appetizers and share them with Mary Ellen and Joe.

We got one order of the Crab Cakes - Sauteed Maryland Style crab cakes with marinated tomato basil aioli, garnished with micro greens and the Artichoke and Five Cheese Dip - California artichokes with mascarpone, fontina with crispy flat bread, which we all enjoyed. Next were the main courses. Joe ordered the Burger - served with cheddar, bacon and onions and a side of french fries and Mary Ellen ordered the Chicken Aioli Pocket - Sliced chicken breast with mozzarella, chopped Romaine, diced tomatoes, and red onion with cilantro aioli and a side of house made chips. Tom voted for the Rigatoni with Beef Bolognese - Artisan pasta with braised beef, tomatoes and fresh basil while I knew exactly what I wanted. Wolfgang Puck is famous for his pizza creations, so I HAD TO get one of them.

The Spicy Shrimp Pizza, roasted eggplant, sauteed zucchini, Kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes and prawns was right up my street. All the portions were huge and we did our best, but some of us were not able to finish the main course. We paused for a little while until we made our minds up about dessert. Mary Ellen ordered the Florida Key Lime Pie - Swiss meringue with a buttery graham cracker crust and I had the Classic Carrot Cake with homemade cream cheese icing with candied pecans, one of the best carrot cakes I have ever had. Joe and Tom didn't want ANY dessert, so they just asked for Coffee and got it! We had all enjoyed our lunch and were now on our way over to the Characters in Flight. While we strolled over we could see the balloon sitting there and were joking that they were just waiting for us. Little did we know that the balloon was grounded due to the wind situation. So we discussed what we all wanted to do and since Tom and I wanted to drive to Universal we just asked Mary Ellen and Joe to come along. We all squeezed into the car and off we went.

A short while later we arrived at the Universal parking structure, paid for parking and drove and drove until we found a parking space. We were on the top level and pointed out some of the attractions and hotels to our friends before we tracked over to City Walk. There were several shops we all wanted to visit, but the surfboard at the entrance to Citywalk attracted our attention and our friends had to do some surfing.

Then we browsed the Fossil and Fresh Produce store, watched the rides at the Studios for a while and then decided on taking a boat ride to the Portofino Bay Hotel. We walked down to the boats and the Portofino Boat was about to leave, but the captain decided to wait and we could still get on. The boatride takes about 10 minutes and all of us really enjoyed it. After we had gotten off the boat we explored the area and took a few fun photos. While we had fun the heaven had turned grey and it started to rain, so we went to one of the little restaurants that was open for a snack. Joe wanted a brownie sundae! What we had ordered was supposed to be a "double" serving, but it was tiny! They should go over to to Beaches and Cream and have a look at what a decent sundae looks like! Mary Ellen just wanted some Strawberry ice-cream. Tom and I shared a Strawberry tart and some Orangina, which we remembered from "the real" Italy.

Unfortunately it tasted different to what we remembered! We sat and chatted for quite a while but the rain outside just got worse. There was no way we could go back to CityWalk on the boat, so we went to the reception area, where the shops are, picked up some ponchos and headed outside to catch one of the buses that go back to the parks area. We waited for quite some time and even though the waiting area was roofed, we were all happy to have our ponchos. Finally the bus arrived and we all got on. The bus picked up more passengers at the other hotels and finally we arrived back at CityWalk. We then picked up our purchases from the stores and went over to Bubba Gumpís for an early dinner. We were seated immediately and handed the menus.

Joe thought we all needed some Garlic Bread as a starter and indeed it was very good. Joe decided he didn't like anything on the fish/shellfish menu, so he stuck with ribs, but Mary Ellen and I had the Dumb Luck Coconut Shrimp, served with Cajun Marmalade and Fries. I just LOVE those! The crisp, slightly sweet coconut batter and the juicy succulent shrimp make for a real excellent taste, which dipped into the Cajun Marmalade is even better. As I said before I love them. It didn't look like Mary Ellen liked them. She kept peeling the batter off and just had them "plain". Tom had Shrimperís Heaven, Hand Breaded Coconut Shrimp, Chilled Shrimp, Fried Shrimp, and Japanese style Tempura Shrimp with Fries. And of course it comes with great Dippiní Sauces like Tangy Asian, Cajun Marmalade, and Zesty Cocktail Sauce. Joe picked up the check once we had finished our early dinner and off we went to hike back to the car.

We drove back to Old Key West to spend some more time with our friends at our villa and indeed had a lot of fun there. Later that evening we drove them back to the Wilderness Lodge and after we had dropped them off we felt the urge for something sweet. So we got out the GPS and off we went to Krispy Kreme in Kissimmee. When we approached the shop, we could see the Hot Now sign from far away, so we were two very happy bunnies.

We parked the car, walked in and were immersed in the sweet smell. It didnít take long until someone took our order and we bought two dozen doughnuts and a Diet Coke. We went to one of the small tables at the back of the restaurant and inhaled some of those wonderful yummy goodies right there and then. All the time while we enjoyed our doughnuts we watched the conveyer belt producing more and more of these yummy sweet treats. When we couldnít eat any more we picked up the rest of our purchases and walked out to the car. Not all of the doughnuts we still had were to be consumed by us. One dozen of them was for the guards at Old Key West. That is something we always do, get them some doughnuts and deliver them for welcoming us home every time we drive through those gates! It is so sweet to see the surprise on their faces once they realize that THEY are on the receiving end of "pixie dust" for a change!

So when we approached the guard house, we were welcomed home and instead of slowly driving through we stopped and handed the surprised guard the box of doughnuts. Boy, she WAS surprised and promised to share with the rest of the guards. We drove back to our villa and watched TV for a while, since we were on a sugar high and not tired at all. Around midnight we called it a day and went to bed. There were more adventures ahead of us the next day.