The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Drinks & A Snack At Oga’s Cantina

The full trip report is over, but the details still need filling in. Read on for more May 2021 WDW fun!

I think we can all agree by now that a reservation at Oga’s Cantina is an absolute must for every WDW trip. Heck, I’m not even much of a Star Wars gal, and even I think that. It’s still a hot ticket, and I had to fight to get it, but it was well worth the effort. In fact, I’d despite the quieter atmosphere due to COVID restrictions, this time around was even better than the first. And I owe it all to Jason.

Jason was our bartender, and oh, what a wonderful bartender he was. We were seated at the bar itself, which probably helped, but his service was unparalleled. (Oh, and now would be a good time to link you the menu so you can follow along if you want.)

I had preselected drink number one: the Dagobah Slug Slinger. This one comes with tequila, blue curacao, citrus juices, ginger, herbs, and bitters. This was enjoyable but I was a little disappointed with how dominant the fruit flavors were; I would’ve liked a stronger showing from the ginger and herbs. The little plant garnish was a nice touch, though.

Dagobah Slug Slinger

My second drink was where the magic of Jason kicked in. I was hemming and hawing between the Jet Juice or the Outer Rim.  The latter is a delicious bourbon-based cocktail that packs a punch, but the Outer Rim is a margarita by any other name that comes with an AMAZING passion fruit foam on top. What to do, what to do?

Well, let me tell you. Jason knew what to do.

What he did was deliver me a Jet Juice, a glass of ice, and a cup FILLED with passion fruit foam. “Pour the Jet Juice over the ice,” he said, “and then top it with the foam.” That’s right, kids, he combined the two drinks just for me!!

Jet Juice + Outer Rim

Jet Juice + Outer Rim

And it was awesome. Normally I prefer my bourbon on the rocks, not in cocktails, but Jet Juice is definitely an exception. It’s fruity without being too sweet, and the passion fruit foam played surprisingly well with the flavors. That being said, I definitely wound up eating most of it with a spoon. When it was done, Jason even wandered by and refilled it unasked! See what I mean? Five-star service.

If you’ve been to Oga’s, you know they have some rules, one of which is that you can only have two drinks per person. However, I find that it’s very loosely enforced, and sure enough a little while later a different bartender wandered by and asked if we’d like another drink. I felt like another cocktail might be pushing it, but an item from the beer menu had caught my eye, so I ordered that.

Gold Squadron Lager

The beer in question was Blue Point Brewery’s Gold Squadron Lager, and I was after because it was described as featuring the flavors of plum and – wait for it – LAVENDER. You know how I love my floral flavors. I wound up really enjoying this one, too; the lavender flavor wasn’t aggressive, but it was definitely present. It seems you can get this beer at Docking Bay 7 too, so I may need to look into that next time I’m there.

All this drinking required a snack. Pickings are pretty slim when it comes to Oga’s food menu, but the Batuu Bits sounded decent enough so we ordered those. They’re described “crispy galaxy snack bits,” whatever that means. Turned out they were various vegetable chips with a spicy chermoula dipping sauce. I found the whole thing pretty underwhelming, consisting of crunch and salt but not much else in terms of flavor, but I know Becky was pretty into the dip. I wouldn’t discourage you from ordering it but I think I’ll grab a snack pre-Oga’s next time.

Galaxy Bits
Did I mention it’s really dark in there?

The atmosphere was, as noted above, a bit subdued due to COVID restrictions, but our time there was exemplary all the same. I can’t wait to come back when it’s bumpin’ again and we can get all the theatrics alongside the absolutely amazing drinks.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Dinner At Tiffins

The full trip report is over, but the details still need filling in. Read on for more May 2021 WDW fun!

When planning out the advanced dining reservations for our May trip, the first name I threw out was Tiffins. I’ve been to Nomad Lounge, the attached bar space, many a time, but never the restaurant proper. I heard it was kinda expensive but worth it, and luckily Becky was down! Follow along with the menu here.

I must say here, at the outset of my review, that this really is a top-notch restaurant. Although the themes are far removed, the vibe reminded me of California Grill – upscale but friendly. It’s got the same rich explorer’s outpost vibe as Nomad Lounge, plus beautiful sculptural art on the walls plus dim the lights for ~ambience.~

The service is similarly exemplary. Our server Matt was friendly, enthusiastic, and incredibly knowledgeable about the menu. Case in point: the first thing we did was ordered drinks, of course. There was a specialty drink that caught my eye: a mango margarita with ancho chili liqueur. As I have mentioned menu a time before, I have a thing for spicy cocktails… but I ALWAYS get the Hightower Rocks at Nomad Lounge. It’s been my jam for almost five years!

So, what to do? Tried and true or something new? Neither… or rather, both! I hit upon inspiration and asked Matt if he could ask the bartender to make my Hightower Rocks, which for the uninitiated is basically a watermelon margarita by any other name, spicy. He could and he did! Look at this beauty:

Spicy Hightower Rocks

With a jalapeno + watermelon garnish as the topper. Magnificent. And it was magnificent – the inherent sweetness of the watermelon juice played very nicely with the chili, where the spice took a backseat to the fruit but the heat slowly built. I dub this a drink hack and I encourage anyone who also enjoys drinks with a kick to try it.

I seem to vaguely recall the Tiffins used to offer complimentary bread, but we didn’t receive any (not sure if that’s a COVID thing or a permanent change). But that was all right, as we had our eyes on the appetizer menu anyway. Once again we fell prey to the siren call of the charcuterie board.

Tiffins charcuterie board

For some reason this is not listed on the regular menu, but I can assure you it’s a thing! I should’ve written down exactly what was on it as sans menu I can’t recall, but alas, here we are. What I can tell you is that the meats and cheeses provided were very tasty but not particularly memorable. Now, I do remember loving the pickled vegetables, because those are just a thing I’m into, and the focaccia it came with was on point. No more crackers on my charcuterie board from now on! It’s focaccia bread or get out of my face!

As my main entree I selected… tofu. NO WAIT HEAR ME OUT. It’s North African-Spiced Tofu. The tofu is marinated and there’s a tomato chutney and everything! I just really like super flavorful spices as they tend to appear in African and South Asian cooking, and this sounding up my alley, so I took a chance.

Tiffins tofu

Ultimately I wasn’t disappointed – the flavor on this dish was killer. I could straight up drink the sauce it came with. It wasn’t curry, but it kinda reminded me of curry. In the family, if you will. And I freakin’ love curry, so bring it on. The vegetable mix is supposed to include snow peas, but I’m not into those, so the chef gave me double kale and I got a whole mountain of it to dunk in the sauce. Gooooood times.

The only slight letdown? The tofu itself. It’s supposed to be chermoula-marinated, but it didn’t really permeate the block. I wish it’d been a bit firmer, and maybe fried for a nice crisp. Of course, drown anything in that sauce and it becomes delicious. I had a nice glass of wine with it too, which always makes a meal more enjoyable. 😉

During our meal, we overheard Matt tell another table that the Lion King dessert was the best dessert in the entire Animal Kingdom. Well, clearly we needed to get in on that action. It’s described on the menu as caramel mousse, chocolate brownie, and strawberry mango sauce. First and foremost, though, the presentation is absolutely adorable. Where can I get one of those “Remember who you are” plates?

Tiffins Lion King dessert

Tiffins Lion King dessert

As for the taste, it was pretty good, because how can caramel and brownie be bad? But I found the flavors a bit too gentle for my tastes – I would’ve prefer something with a little more punch. It might be the best dessert in DAK from a photography standpoint, but I’d try something else next time.

I don’t know why I always end up ending these reviews on a down note when I 110% enjoyed myself. Tiffins was awesome! The menu here is a bit more adventurous, and I loved the opportunity to try new things, and as I mentioned earlier, the service was excellent. I will definitely be back. I’m thinking next time we do an appetizer and sides bonanza. Who’s in?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Our Disney Springs Bar Crawl

The full trip report is over, but the details still need filling in. Read on for more May 2021 WDW fun!

Guys! Have you ever eschewed an evening in one of the parks in favor of a bar crawl at Disney Springs? Sounds crazy, right? Well YOU SHOULD DO IT. Becky and I did and it was awesome!

I talked about our evening in the general sense in my trip report proper, but I wanted to give the bars in question a well-deserved spotlight. ¡Adelante!

Our first stop, the only one for which we had a reservation, was Wine Bar George. This restaurant has an upscale feel and features carefully curated selections from sommelier George himself. I was there for brunch once before, but this was my first time sampling the evening menu. You can follow along here.

You can’t go to Wine Bar George and not get a glass of wine. Well, you can (I have). But this time around I wanted the proper sommelier-curated experience, so I kept my focus on the wine menu. I was on the hunt for a malbec, since that’s my go-to, but my shiny little mind was drawn in by the novelty of wines on tap. Add a punny name and I’m sold!

Wine Bar George

Which is how I wound up with a glass of Maison Noir Horseshoes and Handgrenades. This wine isn’t currently listed on the menu – I hear George likes to change things up a lot – but I tracked it down in the general interwebs and it’s described as a combination of syrah, cabernet, and merlot. Words like “full-bodied” and “complex” are also bandied about, and I can neither confirm nor deny this. It tasted like a generic albeit pleasant red wine to me, very drinkable but not hugely memorable. I wouldn’t discourage you from ordering it, but if it’s still not on the menu again when you visit I wouldn’t worry about it.

Wine Bar George cheese board

We also shared the artisanal cheese board, which came with what I find increasingly is the usual assortment of cheese – a bleu, something Swiss-y, something manchego-y, and something cheddar-y. These were all tasty because they were cheese. But what I particularly enjoyed were the accompaniments. I was just saying that day I’d always wanted to taste honeycomb, and there it was! It tasted like honey. There was also some jam, blanched almonds, and olives, plus assorted toasted bread and crackers. A serviceable and enjoyable board but nothing mindblowing.

Wine Bar George cheese board

George said goodbye to use on the way out. The man takes his restaurant hosting very seriously.

From Wine Bar George we went right across the way to Jockey Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, a watering hole to which I am no stranger. There was a brief wait for a table, but we got into the Indiana Jones-themed inside room pretty easily. The menu is here if you want it, but I didn’t because I had to get what I always do: The ANYTHING! GOES!!!! (Emphasis mine, if you can believe it.) 

Jock Lindsey Anything Goes

This magnificent, unskippable cocktail is SPICY. I love spicy drinks! But don’t be scared; it’s assertive, the-server-will-warn-you spicy, but not set-your-tastesbuds-on-fire-I-can’t-feel-my-tongue spicy. You know? The Dragon Fire spirit brings the heat, but the lime, passion fruit, and pineapple juices smooth the process. I adore it.

You shouldn’t drink without eating, so we also ordered the medjool date and manchego cheese flatbread. This came with frisee, a balsamic glaze, and most importantly crispy prosciutto. The menu also says onion but I vaguely remember we may have ordered it without? “Vaguely remember” sums up my feelings on this item pretty well. Flatbreads have gotten rather ubiquitous at Disney, and they tend to be similar. Even the prosciutto couldn’t rescue this one from obscurity. Still, I’ll come back again and again for Indy and the Anything Goes!

Jock Lindsey flatbread

Minor spoiler, but we’re saving the best for last here – our final stop was at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ restaurant. We had to put our names on a wait list, but it was entirely worth it. It was the only one of the three I’d never been to before, and it turned out to be my favorite! Check the menu here.

Homecomin’ has no more of a theme than Wine Bar George does, but they cultivate completely different vibes. Where Wine Bar George is the kind of fancy that’s right for an anniversary or some such, Homecomin’ has more of a local watering hole feel. Both are good, but I really loved the warm atmosphere at Homecomin.’ The bartenders were all amazing!

The first guy helped guide us through our selections for the moonshine flight. You get to pick three of their house-infused/branded ‘shines  I picked some fruit flavors that were all pleasant though not super strong in their fruit flavors, but let the bartender talk me into a straight moonshine that was I wanna say 100 proof? And as the southerners say: Y’ALL. Like friggin’ GASOLINE. But Becky got one that was even stronger and seemed fine with it, so maybe I’m just weak sauce.

Homecomin

Oh, the moonshine flight also comes with candied pecans and, controversially, a spiced pickle juice shot. I liked the pickle juice! It’s almost sweet gherkin-y, which I dig, and I generally enjoy vinegar-forward flavors. They don’t make you drink it if you’re uneasy though. 😜

Becky wanted a second drink, and consulted another bartender about which of the moonshines on tap to try. This bartender told us she would bring us some samples, and wound up bringing us mini solo cups of ALL the flavors and I love her forever. While we tried them she told us about all the different ways people like to combine them to custom mix a cocktail.

I wasn’t originally planning on a second drink, but I fell in love with the idea of combining the Blue Hooch and Margarita moonshine mixes. The bartender was kind enough to make me a smaller size, and it was totally worth it, all sweet and tart and citrus-y. And look how PRETTY!

Homecomin

With all this moonshine splashing around, we had to order some food. Obviously we had to get an order of the cheddar drop biscuits, and they were everything they ought to be, all soft and cheese-y and buttery. We also got mac and cheese, which I somehow missed taking a photo of? BAD blogger. But I remember they were serviceable. Nothing near as good as the biscuits, but then I’m very picky about what makes truly great mac and cheese.

Homecomin

We considered going to one more bar, but it was getting pretty late and we’d had a lot of moonshine, so we threw in the towel. Which is fine, because it means we have lots of new places still to try! Although I’m probably going to have to go back to Homecomin’ every Disney Springs trip until forever. 

In conclusion: barhopping at Disney Springs is 100% worth the time away from the parks. Do it! Do it!

Or just stay at Homecomin’ the whole evening. Who knows; I may already be there. 🤪

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Guac On The Rock At La Cava Del Tequila

The full trip report is over, but the details still need filling in. Read on for more May 2021 WDW fun!

Unlike some of my other new drinking and dining experiences, I was already a huge fun of La Cava del Tequila going into this trip. It’s the site of my first-ever tequila shot and everything!

On this particular (and Cinco de Mayo!) day, La Cava was doing a promotion where if you buy a shot of Dwayne Johnson’s brand of tequila Teremana, he will reimburse you for a serving of guacamole. Would we have bought a shot if not for this offer? Probably not, but look at the marvelous photo op all the little extras created!

Guac on The Rock

And y’know, the tequila was pretty darn good for a vanity project – we sipped it down to about halfway and it was quite smooth. After that we dump the remainder into our margaritas, duh. But I would totally order it in a tequila soda or some such if I saw it at a bar.

Oh, yes, we also got margaritas, of course. I was torn between El Diablo and The Wild One, and asked a Cast Member on the way in if she had an opinion. She answered “The Wild One!” with such conviction that the decision was made.

Guac on The Rock

I regret nothing: the primary ingredients of this margarita are tequila, mango puree, and chili liqueur, and it all worked beautifully. I love me a spicy drink! If you’re intimidated by the black ant salt rim, don’t be; it doesn’t really look like ants on your glass, and the taste is pretty much exclusively salt.

Meanwhile Becky got a blood orange margarita; she let me take a sip and it was exactly what it sounded like, so if you like blood orange you’ll like this. I might consider asking for regular salt instead of the Taijin rim, though; while I’m all about spicy I felt like the Taijin was too strong and overpowered the drink.

Oh, and the promised guacamole? Not bad. It’s obviously not made in house, but for a guac that probably came out of a bag it had a surprising amount of texture and good avocado flavor. The chips were thick and perfect for dipping. I wouldn’t go to La Cava for guac, but I’d certainly add something to an order if I wanted a snack with my drinks.

Guac on The Rock

For awhile there you couldn’t dine inside La Cava proper, but I hear that’s changing. Either way, I am definitely going back for El Diablo!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Lunch At BaseLine Tap House

The full trip report is over, but the details still need filling in. Read on for more May 2021 WDW fun!

Fact: Becky absolutely adores BaseLine Tap House in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. 

Fact: I had never been to BaseLine Tap House.

WE WENT.

And while the theming is subtle and the offerings are basic, it didn’t disappoint. Follow along with the menu here.

BaseLine is intended to feel like a California craft brewpub, and while it does offer some wines and cocktails its pride is its rotating collection of beers. Faced with such a selection, I did the only thing I could do and purchased a flight.

Of the beers available at the time, I selected: Golden Road Brewing Hefeweizen, North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner, North Coast Red Seal, and the Ace Space Blood Orange Hard Cider. Basically the “Not An IPA” collection. 🤣

BaseLine beer flight

The beers were all pleasant but didn’t knock my socks off or otherwise stand out for me; they basically tasted like their category of beer. I quite enjoyed the blood orange cider and could see myself getting a full glass of it if it sticks around. In either case it’s always fun to try a flight!

We also shared a couple snacks. First up is the charcuterie plate (minus the grapes because I HATE AND FEAR grapes and Becky was like, all right, weirdo, I’m not invested enough in grapes to die on this particular hill; I’ll ask for it without grapes). 

Charcuterie board

The board came with a bleu cheese, a goat cheese, and something called “farmstead cheese” which tasted to me kinda like a manchego? The bleu cheese was my favorite but I like strong cheeses. The salami and chorizo were suitably meaty but the chorizo could’ve used some spice. Honestly I think my favorite part might have been the toasted baguettes – they were buttery and not too crisp.

We also got the Bavarian pretzel, a giant soft pretzel that came with beer cheese and spicy mustard. The spicy mustard wasn’t completely my jam, but the beer cheese was pretty good. I just wish it was spiked with a spice or something; I feel like the mellow cheese could use a flavor foil. The pretzel itself was a standard issue soft pretzel, well-baked with a good chewy softness but nothing out of the ordinary.

Pretzel

Normally there’s a smattering of indoor seating, but this was largely done away with during our COVID-era visit. Luckily we were able to snag a table on the patio. The patio very much has a laid-back biergarten vibe. It doesn’t necessarily scream Disney, but it’s a lovely place to take a break from hectic park hustling.

So BaseLine didn’t blow me out of the water with its offerings necessarily, but it’s definitely a great place to hang out and try some beer and I will 100% be back. Oh, to be there now…

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Dinner At The Enchanted Rose Lounge

The full trip report is over, but the details still need filling in. Read on for more May 2021 WDW fun!

Our last-minute decision to walk over to the Grand Floridian for dinner at the Enchanted Rose was made casually, but it turned out to be one of my favorite meals of the trip. Brace yourself, because you’re about to be hit in the face with some AMAZING drinks. (Metaphorically. Listen, if I really could, I would.)

Drinks at the Enchanted Rose are not cheap. But what they lack in low cost, they make up for in high value. While you can absolutely get standard mix drinks, beers, wines, and liquors, the bar’s cocktail menu is beautiful unique and creative. If you’re curious, you can check out the menu yourself here.

After carefully perusing the offerings, I chose for my first drink the Island Rose: Ketel One Grapefruit & Rose vodka, lime, orgeat, pineapple, bitters, and rose water. I ordered it, as I frequently do, expressly for the rose water, as I am a huge fan of rose flavors (it’s my favorite tea and makes a darn good macaron as well). 

Island Rose

Sadly the rose was just not pronounced enough for my taste, but it was a well-balanced drink, not too sweet. I also don’t recall tasting the alcohol, although I’m not sure if that’s from clever mixing or a light hand from the bartender.

For my second drink, I went with the Floral Bitter Beauty, a drink I initially passed up due to its inclusion of gin. It’s not that I don’t like gin, I’m just not entirely a fan, either. You have to use it wisely. But the description – with elderflower liqueur, campari, aperol, lemon, and soda – sounded kinda like but not exactly a Negroni, and I do enjoy those, so I went for it.

Floral Bitter Beauty

And loved it! There was just enough gin to add a twist of woody flavor without being overpowering, and I’m always down for bubbles.

We also got a food of course. Becky was aghast that I had never had truffle fries before, so we ordered a serving. I liked them! The mushrooms added pleasant earthy and umami elements to the crunchy, salty fries, and I’m never mad about the presence of parmesan cheese.

Truffle fries

Our other order was the crab macaroni and cheese. Full disclosure: I’m not big on crab. Or lobster. Or clams. Most shellfish, really. And while I tried some of the crab in this dish, it didn’t do much to overcome my scruples. The mac and cheese itself was good, of course, but I could’ve done with something a little gooier while at the same time crisper at the top, if that makes sense? Good mac and cheese doesn’t need a breadcrumb topping if you’re asking me. I mean, it was good, but I’d probably order something else next time.

Crab mac & cheese

Crab mac & cheese

I realize that I’m ending things on a bit of a down note, but don’t misunderstand me – The Enchanted Rose was a trip highlight. It definitely has a more adult vibe; I’m sure kids are just as welcome as anywhere else in WDW, but it’s a fancy-ish feel with even only the faintest touches of Beauty and the Beast. If you’re operating child-free, however, I definitely recommend making time to have a few drinks there. Disney’s getting your money anyway. Why not drink away your troubles with quality?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Lunch At The Wave

The full trip report is over, but the details still need filling in. Read on for more May 2021 WDW fun!

Our first sit down meal of the the trip was at The Wave, a monorail restaurant in The Contemporary that seems to fly under the radar. Yeah, it’s not elaborately themed or a character meal, and no, it’s not fine dining a la California Grill or Narcoossee’s, but it’s definitely worth a trip out of the culinary wasteland that is the Magic Kingdom at the very least. Let’s dive (PUNS) in, shall we? Follow along with the menu here.

I started my lunch with a cocktail, because that’s how Vacation Jenn rolls. The drink menu at The Wave is pretty expansive – I remember enjoying a craft beer flight way back in 2015 – but it was ultimately the simple Paloma that called to me. 

Paloma at The Wave

The Paloma is kind of like an offshoot margarita: tequila, grapefruit juice, lime, and soda water. Some places cheat with grapefruit soda which in my opinion ruins the flavor balance, making it way too sweet. Luckily The Wave’s Paloma went the juice route and I loved it! Tequila is such an amazing mixer and the whole thing was delightfully tart.

For our meal, Becky and I decided to share a selection of appetizers and an entree, because we are hella smart and know the key to good Disney dining is sharing for the variety. 😁

First up was the seasonal salad, because I like to eat a salad now and then at Disney to pretend I still give a crap about nutrition. But this particular salad sounded really good – goat cheese, strawberries, and candied nuts and such. Ultimately it wasn’t particularly inspired, but the ingredients were all fresh and worth eating. 

Seasonal salad at The Wave

Next up: steamed bao buns! I LOVE bao buns and will legit eat just about anything in them, which in this case was slow-roasted pork belly and spicy Asian slaw. The bao buns at The Wave did not disappoint – they were soft, chewy, simultaneously pillowy and dense… textbook, really. The filling was good too but not quite rich and spicy enough to make a memory mark. If you like bao buns, I recommend them, but if you’re indifferent to this wonderful bread product I might try something else.

Bao buns at The Wave

We were very tempted by the bacon and eggs appetizer to round things out, but as we were already eating some of the pork belly it contained we decided to go in the complete opposite direction with the plant-based option. It was tofu and vegetable tikka masala and I freaking ADORE Indian spices so I was IN. 

Tikka masala at The Wave

I’m not a vegan, but the reason why I often like to sample Disney’s plant-based dishes is that they seem to be more inclined to amp the taste with interesting flavors, in this case coconut and yellow curry. The tofu could’ve been a little crisper, but otherwise the flavor profile was spot on. If you like curry, I don’t think you’d even miss the meat! If you don’t like curry… don’t order this.

The Wave has a calm atmosphere and a classy although arguably not very Disney ambiance. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for families with young kids or anyone on one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips I hear people take. But if you’re on the monorail line and looking for a decent lunch with an easier reservation to score, I’d say it’s worth a look.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: May 8

It’s time for my favorite type of post: a trip report! I celebrated my second vaccine dose with a trip to WDW accompanied by Becky of Disney In Your Day. I will now exhaustively tell you all about it. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

I knocked out my Hourglass Lake run a little early again this morning; it was another Studios day and you know what that means: Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group Rush! Once again Becky with the Fast Hands got us a boarding group, this time in the single digits. Assuming this whole boarding group thing continues, I have no idea what I’ll do without her on future trips.

That early boarding group does come with a caveat, which means that now you definitely need to make it to the park before rope drop. I was apprehensive of how we’d fair on the Skyliner given the debacle of our attempts to make it to Epcot on time earlier in the week, but surprisingly the lines were extremely manageable. I guess people don’t like waking up early on vacation even when Kylo Ren promises to meet them there.

Cast Members were actively advertising Runaway Railway as a short wait, and since we wanted to ride it again anyway we hopped in line before the park was even officially open. Not that it mattered, as the ride was already running. I still think the visuals are a skosh chaotic but I also noticed a bunch of stuff I didn’t see the first time. I predict that’ll keep happening for a while, so high scores for re-rideability!

We exited Runaway Railway at 9am precisely, official open time, and to our boarding pass being called. Not wanting to keep Rey waiting, we immediately headed over to Batuu for another thrilling escape from the First Order. 

Rise of the Resistance

Although, can I opt to join the First Order instead? It’s the only CM job where you can tell guests what you really think of them. Like, as we transitioned through the Stormtrooper room, a CM instructed everyone to go right to the next section, as per usual. I hung back briefly on the left side of the room to snap a quick selfie with a droid, at which point the CM said “Right is that way.” I got served!

Rise of the Resistance

For once the little Batuu market area didn’t have a gigantic line, and as I had never been we decided to meander through the shops. They were only allowing one party per time in each individual kiosk so we really just window shopped, but it was interesting to see some of the souvenirs they’re producing. Ever the fan of stuffed animals, I liked the… the… look, they’re shaggy and have horns? The internet informs me that these are in fact the banthas. I’ve been drinking their milk all along. (It’s like drinking the Kool-Aid only it specifically makes you interested in IP you never cared about until somebody made a theme park land out of it.)

Batuu market

The milk also makes you take pictures in front of the Millennium Falcon like you wouldn’t answer the question “Whose ship is this?” with “I don’t know but you better hope the Borg don’t catch up to it. Anyway, does anyone know if there’s a Species 8472 animatronic?” 

Millennium Falcon pictures

Millennium Falcon pictures

(Not Becky, obviously. She has her own Porg. Clearly she knows what she’s doing.)

Toy Story Mania was right on the other side of the land and posting a reasonable wait time, so we took a ride through the Midway in which I discovered my string-pulling skills are rusty. It’s like all that arm-focused weight training I’ve been doing has been for nothing.

We also jumped in line for Slinky Dog Dash; the posted wait time was just under an hour, but I’ve definitely seen worse. Becky noted that the queue area is subtly decorated with hints about how Andy customized his roller coaster building set, and as my only other experience had been through the FastPass+ line I was able to keep myself entertained looking for them.

Slinky Dog Dash

While in line we mobile ordered food from Docking Bay 7, but the restaurant was so popular our pickup window still hadn’t opened by the time we got off Slink. We walked back into Batuu anyway and killed some time in the Den of Antiquities until we could get our food. I expected something higher end but the animatronic proprietor was kinda neat.

Den of Antiquities

Docking Bay 7 was weirdly cold inside, so we sunned on a bench for a bit while we considered our next move. Muppets 4D seemed like a good bet, but when we arrived there was a rather more social-distancing induced line than we were prepared to deal with. Yet another strange impact COVID has had on our society.

Instead we backtracked to Star Tours, where Becky was once again the rebel spy (nostalgia!). Let’s see, we traveled to… oh, shoot. Hold on. Oh, right, we did the battle scene where you end up dodging AT-AT walkers, and then we evaded Boba Fett, with Yoda as our interstitial character. Not my favorite destination but at least I didn’t got the pod racer scene again

We still had some afternoon to fill up before our reservation at Oga’s Cantina, so Becky suggested a wildcard option: the Vacation Fun showing in the Mickey Shorts theater. My exposure to the modern Mickey cartoons has been limited almost entirely to what’s shown on the Magical Express, but as it turned out I really enjoyed Vacation Fun! The yodeling segment was my favorite but Potatoland is entirely deserving of its photo op (how did we miss that one?).

Finally it was time to return to Batuu for our ADR at Oga’s Cantina. I’ve reviewed Oga’s before and didn’t necessarily anticipate doing so again, but as it happened it was a truly superlative experience that is deserving of its own post. SO MUCH PASSION FRUIT FOAM!!!

On this happy note we rolled out of the park, although not before stopping for more Millennium Falcon pictures as we weren’t entirely satisfied with that morning’s batch. 

Millennium Falcon pictures
Millennium Falcon pictures

Then we took the Skyliner back to the park for a much needed rest break. Of course, not long after we were back at it again with the Skyliner to Epcot. Just can’t get enough of that Flower & Garden Festival!

We hung a right toward France and immediately stopped for a PhotoPass photographer. 

Epcot France

Epcot France

In Morocco, we… stopped for a PhotoPass photographer. You WISH your social media was as flush with pictures as ours!

Epcot Morocco

Our presence duly documented, we grabbed some food and drinks to enjoy at one of the picnic tables outside The American Adventure. Disney appears to have hired rotating local bands for the evening shows, and if I remember correctly we caught the tail end of a pleasingly retro set by I think The Hooligans?

I grabbed a pineapple sake from the nearby Japan pavilion, which was a light and pleasant sip with a smooth and fruity finish I was happy to slowly savor. This was in stark contrast to the duck gnocchi I had earlier wolfed down like an animal. The “gnocchi” was more like dumplings but the meat had the rich flavor I expect from duck. 

Pineapple sake

Duck gnocchi

There was a PhotoPass photographer in Japan, and we just walked right by. Wouldn’t even look at them. HAHAHAHA AS IF.

Epcot Japan

Epcot Japan

I also grabbed the one hibiscus beer I hadn’t already sampled, which tasted like all the others, as well as a desert violet lemonade beer, which actually had a bit more of a floral taste to it than the OG desert violet frozen lemonade. We split a spicy hot dog, too, which was tasty if not really spicy enough.

Epcot Flower & Garden food

Epcot Flower & Garden food

I didn’t buy any food or drinks in China, but as we wandered past the House of Good Fortune gift shop I asked Becky if we could stop in real quick. “Are you going to buy the ox?!” she cried with great enthusiasm, and with that kind of encouragement how could I not? A superfluous purchase to be sure, but LOOK AT HIS LITTLE FACE HE HAS ROSY CHEEKS I CAN’T!!!!

Year of the Ox

In Norway we attempted to get Aquavit shots so we could prove we’re true Vikings, but alas, Kringla wasn’t selling it at the time. I hope it comes back in a post-pandemic world because I still want to earn my Brunhilde status.

My photos suggest there was one more drink in there somewhere, but I’ve got myself all turned around and if my brain does too many cartwheels it gets dizzy, so let’s just say I had another beer of some sort. Either way, an excellent end to the day.

Epcot Flower & Garden food

Epcot Flower & Garden

There was a long line for the Skyliner at the end of the night, as per usual, but we were back in our room at Pop in as reasonable an amount of time as could be hoped. We finished up the French room wine and did some preliminary packing up, for tomorrow was the dreaded… last day. 🙁

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: May 5

It’s time for my favorite type of post: a trip report! I celebrated my second vaccine dose with a trip to WDW accompanied by Becky of Disney In Your Day. I will now exhaustively tell you all about it. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

I got up early for a quick run around Hourglass Lake, took a shower, and grabbed breakfast from Everything Pop. It was terrible, but we can talk more about that later.

Epcot didn’t open until 11am, and we left around 45 minutes in advance. Unfortunately, the Skyliner was having a bit of a difficult morning. Between the long line at Caribbean Beach and the stop-and-start gondolas, we didn’t hit Epcot until 11:30am. 

This turned out fine, however, as our first goal of the day was hitting La Cava del Tequila for Cinco de Mayo and Guac on the Rock. They tried to hide the line from us around the corner from the pyramid, but we found it. And since the seating area was reserved for the new Agave Experience upcharge event, we couldn’t’ve gotten a table even if we’d rope dropped the park. See? Providence!

We grabbed our drinks, chips, and guac, and set up shop at the shaded table to the side of the pyramid. As we ate, we evaluated our options for the day. Ultimately we decided just to sort of meander through World Showcase and see what we could see. 

Frozen topiaries

The Frozen line was too long, so we kept it moving and popped into the China movie. Are they still revamping it, or did that get cancelled by COVID too? 

Naturally the movie dumps you in the gift shop, where I saw they still had some Chinese New Year merch available – and it’s the Year of the Ox, aka my year! I spotted some super cute ox stuffed animals, but resolved to think about it a bit lest I make an impulse purchase. I bought some jasmine beer at the festival kiosk instead. I’ve had it before, but it’s floral enough for me and everything!

Jasmine beer

Ox topiary

There were also cute zodiac topiaries in the garden. I only took a picture of the ox because again, me.

We resumed our stroll around World Showcase, stopping here and there for Flower & Garden snacks and drinks. 

I picked up the pretzel bread with ham and cheese from the Bauernmarket, because I will eat just about anything with pretzel bread, including ham. This was surprisingly nice ham, though – much thicker than what you’d get at the average deli counter.

I also grabbed some more hibiscus drinks, including the sour at La Isla Fresca, the lemonade cocktail at World Showplace, and the hibiscus lime that comes part of the flight at Citrus Blossom. They were all varying levels of acceptable, with the key lime beer from the flight probably being my favorite. If it sounds like something you’d like, you probably would. Same can be said for the raspberry chocolate tart. 

Pretzel bread

Hibiscus sour beer

Hibiscus lemonade cocktail

Raspberry tart

Citrus Blossom beer flight

My favorite part was probably singing “Rainbow Connection” with the pianist in World Showplace – it was a very Disney Magic moment. You don’t choose your Disney Magic moments; they choose you, y’know?

In between we caught shows from Marimba de Latin Americas (which I’m 99% sure was just three guys from Mariachi Cobre working an extra shift; obviously they were good) and Voices of Liberty (Princess & The Frog medley!!!) at the America Gardens theater.

Marimba de Latin Americas

We checked out some of the exhibits in the America Adventure galleries while we were there. Becky wanted to see the new Soul stuff, and I always enjoy looking at the Native American textiles.

We got some super cute PhotoPass shots too! I want to say this was in Italy?

Flower & Garden photos

Flower & Garden photos

Flower & Garden photos

Flower & Garden photos

After completing our World Showcase loop we scooted over to Mouse Gears to see if they had any Flower & Garden Festival-branded merch since there’s no festival center this year. They did, but not much, and nothing we felt called to buy.

Next we practically walked on to Spaceship Earth, something of a priority to ride since who knows when Disney will decide to refurb it after all? Here we discovered that the photo tech has a heck of a time taking your picture when you’re wearing a mask – we wound up with two generic cartoon people in our future video. But we did listen to the narration in Spanish, which was fun. As far as I can tell it’s almost a one-to-one translation.

Obviously we hadn’t gotten our fill of the Flower & Garden Festival booths, so we doubled back to World Showcase for more! On our way we found the VERY BEST INSTAGRAM PHOTO OP EVER CREATED.

Figment photo op

Figment photo op

Figment photo op

Figment photo op

Where was I? Right! Food. Drinks. Okay. We bought lemonade cocktails at Trowel & Trellis, which were perfectly fine but be purchased them exclusively for the souvenir mason jar glasses.

Trowel & Trellis

Then we stopped at Jardin de Fiestas for the sopes with plant-based chorizo. This was good but could’ve used more kick; I like spicy. Oh, and I also got the Garden Margarita for some reason, which among other things contained lettuce juice. Becky later described her sip as tasting “like dirt.” I would’ve said grass, and I didn’t even entirely hate that, but neither did I finish it. That’s a lot of grass at once.

Jardin de Fiestas

Jardin de Fiestas

Finally, we ended things in France, where I purchased the famous La Vie en Rose frozen cocktail I’ve heard so much about. It was pleasantly tart from the cranberry juice, but I think its popularity is probably largely because it’s so darned photogenic. I love pink!

La Vie en Rose

We didn’t end up leaving until the park shut down at 10pm, but I’d say the wait for the Skyliner was comparable to the day previous. We were back in our beds in due course.

Next up: more Magic Kingdom time!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: May 4

It’s time for my favorite type of post: a trip report! I celebrated my second vaccine dose with a trip to WDW accompanied by Becky of Disney In Your Day. I will now exhaustively tell you all about it. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

Obligatory: May the Fourth Be With You!

Yes, we did it: we snagged Studios Park Passes for the most important day of the year assuming you’re a Star Wars fan. I am resolutely a Star TREK fan in favor of the Wars, but even I’m not immune to Batuu’s charms, so I was in!

Of course, the first thing anyone must do on a Studios Park Pass day is wake up at the crack of just before 7am to try to get one of those coveted Rise of the Resistance boarding groups. I had only just gotten to the “select your party” screen when Becky announced that she was already through and we were boarding group 11. Score! 

Our next order of business was a slightly sadder one: this was our morning to transfer to Pop Century. Don’t get my wrong; I’m a huge Pop fan, and there was plenty more WDW time before us. But it was bittersweet to say goodbye to that amazing theme park view.

We dropped off our bags at bell services to transfer and headed out to the bus stop. Not surprisingly for such an important date, the bus line for the Studios was no small amount of LONG. We noped right out of there and paid for a Lyft instead. We were beating rope drop come hell or high bus wait times.

Grauman

Despite arriving ahead of the technical park opening time, our boarding group was called before we even got inside. No matter; we had an hour to get there. Nevertheless, we went directly to Batuu and hopped right into line. There was almost nobody else there and we breezed straight through to the – let us say to avoid spoilers – first ride segment. I was happy as I had read that Disney was occasionally skipping the pre-shows/first segment, but we got a total ride experience. It was awesome as always!

Star Wars Photos

Star Wars Photos

On May the Fourth all SW-related experiences will have long lines, so we figured we’d get some PhotoPass photos out of the way early.

Star Wars Photos

We were already in the area, so we braved a minor line for Smugglers Run. I like this ride but this time we were assigned the engineer role, which I didn’t care for as it requires you to focus a lot of your attention on the sides of the ride vehicle so that you don’t miss your button-pushing call outs. I wasn’t a fan of having to bounce my attention between the screen and the wall if I wanted to catch any of the actual visuals. Being the pilot was much better. I’ve never been a gunner but it’s probably an improvement too.

Hondo

By this point we were feeling a bit peckish, so we decided to mobile order some breakfast. Ronto Roasters wouldn’t let us pick up for another half an hour, but we put in our orders and wandered into the adjacent Toy Story Land while we waited. Toy Story Midway Mania’s line looked prohibitive, but Alien Swirling Saucers was pretty short and I’ve never ridden it. I thought it was cute and fun enough but certainly not worth waiting a while for.

Alien Swirling Saucers

We scarfed down our breakfast in that little recessed area next to Docking Bay 7 while we considered our next move. Sadly the Tower of Terror wait time was inflated – I assume because they weren’t fully loading the elevators. Oddly enough the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster line was short, so we did that instead. They were loading every row of the trains there and skipping the pre-show entirely, so it was extra fast.

Surprisingly the Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway line was posting, I don’t know, like 40 minutes? Which for a brand new ride in the middle of the day in the age of inflated wait estimates was good enough for me. We had to wait in the sun for a bit again, but it still wasn’t as bad as the Tiki Room. 😅

Runaway Railway is really cute! I do think it’s a touch to frenetic to follow the story effectively, but that might not be as much of a problem if they were running the pre-show. I felt like I was missing some key background info. But the sheer number of visuals does give it a lot of re-rideability. SPOILER: My favorite part was definitely Daisy’s dance class where the ride cars waltz! END SPOILER.

Runaway Railway

Lunch brought us to BaseLine Tap House, another first for me. We had to brave a bit of a line to get in but I regret nothing. While there we met a gorgeous service husky who was a little worse for wear due to the Orlando heat. I gave him my cup of ice water but I think Disney should start stocking dog bowls like a lot of bars now do. 

On our way into the park that morning we had snagged a spot in the virtual line for a “Star Wars Merchandise” opportunity of some sort. To be honest, we didn’t know exactly what that meant, but if there’s a virtual line at Disney you should probably join just in case, no? Anyway it turned out to be for special May the Fourth souvenirs they were selling in what was usually the Muppets gift shop. Our shopping time came up during lunch, so we went to take a look. Honestly none of it was particularly compelling, but we did see some very impressively costumed SW fans.

It was getting on in the afternoon, so we picked up the Skyliner back to Pop (God I love the Skyliner!!!) where our new room was ready. We wound up in the ’60s section, which is what I prefer, on the opposite side from the pool with a nice view of Hourglass Lake, which is also what I prefer.

We grabbed our stuff from bell services and took a rest break in the room for a bit, then jumped back on the glorious Skyliner to Epcot. This was (almost) strictly a snacks-and-drinks Flower & Garden Festival stroll. Our biggest haul was from Honey Bee-stro – we tried all three food items. The lavender chicken flatbread was disappointingly pedestrian in my book, and the flavor of the cheesecake was a little light, but the spoonbread was a slam dunk in both texture and flavor. The citrus honey beer was only okay.

Honey Bee-stro

We also stopped in at World Showplace. I was disappointed with the maple bacon stout, which was minimally maple and not at all bacon, but the watermelon mint was one of my favorites – light and pleasantly fruity. I love watermelon!

Maple bacon stout

Watermelon mint beer

Other activities: we did roll through that one gift shop and bought the flower scavenger hunts. The cashier let us grab our prizes (travel mugs in Figment and Orange Bird) in advance, which is good because I don’t think either of us ever completed the hunt. 😆 Look, it didn’t fit in my backpack, okay? 

I also insisted on a viewing of the Impressions de France movie in the France pavilion, because for some reason they’re only showing it at night now. I’ve never seen this new Beauty & The Beast Singalong they’re doing in the daytime, but I’ve yet to hear anyone say a single good thing about it. Whereas the France movie, while admittedly somewhat dated, has a KILLER soundtrack. The Saint-Saens Organ Symphony alone is worth the price of admission (free/the bajillion dollars an AP now costs).

Then I dragged Becky through the France gift shops because I wanted to get something for my Spanish teacher, who is from France. (She’s THAT good at languages.) It wasn’t all bad, though; while there Becky discovered they have bottles of wine for sale for $15. Room wine!

We thought we were getting out ahead of things by leaving the park half an hour early, but of course the Skyliner line home was absolutely bonkers. And of course in pandemic times it’s only one party per gondola. But it’s still darned efficient, and we were on our way back to Pop and safely in bed in reasonable time.

Next up: back to Epcot we go!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!