We have to send out a huge thank you to Mimi, who flew down to DC to join us on the flight to/from Orlando and bought us all our tickets and got us into the Shades of Green Resort for our trip. Not to mention that we abused her Fast Pass+ throughout the trip. Having three adults was key to everyone's sanity.
Be warned, I took close to 300 photographs during the trip, so you know the next few posts will be very picture/video heavy as I recap our trip and do my best to provide you all with a few tips we learned along the way!
Our first drama occurred the morning of the trip when we woke up to torrential downpours in DC. It took close to 2 hours to get to the airport and when we arrived, parking was limited to the top of the garage. Meaning, someone was going to get soaking wet as they parked the car. Nick dropped Georgia and I off so we could sprint into the airport. And by sprint, I mean, drag a toddler, a stroller, 2 carry-on bags and a suitcase down a set of stairs to avoid getting soaked to the bone! Nick joined us in the terminal with the other suitcase and some very wet jeans a few minutes later. After checking in the bags and dragging said toddler, stroller and carry-on bags through security, we were more than happy to just hang out in the terminal for a few hours and wait for Mimi's plane to arrive. Drama #2 - Mimi's plane was circling DC waiting for the rain to end and was minutes away from being re-routed to Philly! Luckily, the weather cleared long enough for her plane to land or we would have been trying to reconnect with her in Orlando.
But, the sun came out and off we went. Orlando or bust...
|Nick's reward for parking the car in the downpour was his own row for the flight to Florida! On a flight with Disney bound families, that must be good karma working for him.|
Who even needs to go to Disney World? Orlando's airport tram was more than enough fun for G!
I hadn't been to Shades of Green since January of 2002 and the resort had been fully renovated since that time. While we were there, we were reading up on the history of the resort and the purchase of the resort by the Department of Defense for military family use. It was great to hear/read that their occupancy rate is almost 100% each year! Georgia immediately took a liking to the giant Mickey statue in the lobby...
After a brief nap, we were off to the Contemporary Resort for our first character dinner at Chef Mickey's. One of the best parts about Shades of Green is the quick access to the monorail across the street at the Polynesian Resort. It was a walk that we came to know well during our week long stay. Since the Contemporary is on the monorail system, we jumped on for the quick ride around the lake to dinner.
|In the Shades of Green lobby waiting to head to dinner|
Again, who needs the parks when there are free rides like the monorail??? Georgia loved everything about the monorail train ride. Each day, she waited to see which color train would show up. As we rounded the bend from the Grand Floridian Resort to the Magic Kingdom, she would scream, "I see the castle!!!"
|Mimi & Georgia on the monorail heading to Chef Mickey's for dinner|
One of the things that I was most looking forward to on the trip was the food. All you hear about on allergy blogs is that Disney is the mecca for kids with food allergies. For each of our reservations, I marked our entry to notify the chef that Georgia had milk and nuts allergies. I couldn't wait to see how they handled that at these restaurants. As soon as we checked in at Chef Mickey's, the waitress informed us that the chef would be right out to chat with us. When the chef came to our table, he immediately took me on a tour of the buffet and pointed out all the options that Georgia could eat. Overall, I was fairly impressed. She could eat a variety of fish, chicken, etc. and he would even make her a personal dessert. So, I quickly grabbed a plate for her with some sausage, chicken, pasta and broccoli. I ran back to the table as I saw the first character approaching our table.
Georgia pretty much crawled under the table. The kid was all talk! She was so excited to spot her beloved Donald Duck across the room, but as he approached the table, she was utterly terrified!
|Hiding from Donald Duck|
Luckily, Donald took the cue and shook his tail feather out of there! It didn't get much better as Pluto headed our way. At this point, I was thinking about cancelling the rest of our reservations for the week. If she was going to be terrified of everything, then we could eat at McDonald's and save ourselves a whole lot of cash!
Georgia might not have liked Pluto, but he liked ME!!!
However, once he bent down, Georgia showed a moment of interest, especially in his giant whiskers!
|Note the roll in her hand - I'm fairly certain she ate her body weight in dinner rolls during the week! Thank you, allergy-free bakery!|
Georgia had no interest in Goofy when he swung by the table, but Nick seemed to enjoy the tall guy...
Interestingly, it was at this point that we noticed that although Georgia didn't want to "visit" with the characters, she definitely was interested in them and wanted to know where they all were at all times. One would leave our table, Georgia would come out of hiding and promptly declare, "Who's next?!?!"
And then everything changed... and Minnie arrived! Guess who instantly perked right up???
Lesson learned - Ask lots of questions!!
The chef did send out a special cupcake treat for Georgia. Her face was priceless when the waitress handed her a big chocolate cupcake just for her.
We thought G was over her fear of the characters after Minnie visited, but check out Princess Grumpy Face when Mickey Mouse happened to join our table during dessert...
Oh well, you can't win them all. It was a long day of travel and only a brief nap, so perhaps throwing her right into the world of Mickey wasn't the best decision.
Overall, I'm not sure we'd do Chef Mickey's again. I thought the food was the weakest of all the restaurants we ate at during the week. The buffet had a lot of options, but none blew me away. It was the easiest reservation to get, though, so I can see its appeal. It was also easy to get to with being on the monorail and not in a park.
We headed back to the hotel for the earliest bedtime possible knowing that it was going to be an early wake-up for our first day at the park and a long day ahead.
Up next... Magic Kingdom!