Thoughts on Story Book Dining at Artist Point

Our friends, Nick and Barbie, scored a dinner reservation at Artist Point for the new-ish Story Book Dining and invited us along (’cause they’re super nice that way). Here’s a recap of our experience including my usual honest feedback.

Thoughts on Story Book Dining at Artist Point

Overall, we had a wonderful time. The lateness of the reservation (8:30-ish if I remember correctly) was both good and bad. The restaurant was amazingly uncrowded, quiet, and virtually kid-free, but we were also very tired. After a day at the parks, I thought we might be too exhausted to enjoy this experience but I worried for nothing. I think I’ll recap our dinner in two parts – 1. Characters and Service 2. Food/Dining Experience. Hopefully, if you’re considering whether or not Story Book Dining would be a good fit for your family’s plans, this review will help you decide.

Characters and Service

We were seated promptly upon check-in and shown to a table in the back of the dining room – this location was perfect for us. Our server was excellent. Unhurried in a good way, she made us feel like her only guests. We noticed right away there was a multi-tiered tree-like stand in the middle of the table. Our server explained that appetizers and desserts are served to be shared (and the presentation is certainly unique) more on that later. Like other character dining experiences, we could expect the characters to stop by our table throughout our meal.

Because the restaurant was not busy, we got to spend what felt like extra time with each character (Snow White, Dopey, and Grumpy) as they came around. Snow White was lovely and spoke to us adult-to-adult making her visit extra enjoyable and not a bit cheesy (which can happen occasionally with some face characters). Grumpy and Dopey were adorable and managed to communicate well with everyone at our table without speaking – Disney characters are typically excellent at this and the dwarfs were no exception. Grumpy gave lessons on being…grumpy.

The Queen is also at Artist Point for a meet-and-greet, but rather than visiting each table, the Queen is available to guests on their way out of the restaurant. I think this is clever and not only adds a special treat at the end, but also allows families to adjust for children who might find her a bit intimidating. There’s a special backdrop for pictures and for me, this was one of the best character interactions EVER. The Queen is one of my all-time favorite characters and I was fangirling like crazy. She was absolutely wonderful in appearance and attitude. Her condescending sneer, her regal bearing, her disdain for our presence – perfection! I was impressed beyond description.

Food / Dining Experience

Because this was a character meal, I automatically had low expectations about the food. I find most character meals entertaining, but the food is rarely the draw. Artist Point’s menu is creative and as I mentioned, the appetizers and desserts are presented in a unique way for sharing. While cute, I was not a fan. I don’t mind sharing, but the offerings were more dramatic and showy than tasty. Here are a few pictures of the appetizers and desserts. They weren’t horrible, just not great.

While the appetizers and desserts met my low expectations, the entrees did not. My entree was absolutely delicious and a very pleasant surprise. The menu has changed since our visit early in 2019, but I believe the flavor and quality will still be excellent no matter what dishes make up the entree selection.

I ordered Bashful’s Butter-poached Snapper (Root Vegetable Risotto, Wild Mushroom, Citrus Butter Sauce) and Raymond had the Royal Prime Rib Roast (Horseradish Mashed Potato, Hay Smoked Carrots, Popover, Jus) – we were equally happy with our choices. Well seasoned and cooked to perfection, our entrees were the highlight of the meal.

As of this writing, the meal’s price is posted on Disney World’s website as $59.99 for adults per three-course meal and $35 for children. While Artist Point does not accept Tables in Wonderland, this experience requires only one Table Service credit on the Disney Dining Plan – a good bargain!

Practicing my evil sneer

Bottom Line

As far as character dining goes, this is a pretty good choice for families who like a more upscale experience. It felt quite a bit fancier than Chef Mickey’s or Tusker House and we enjoyed not having to get up and down to select food from a buffet. As it’s not too princess-heavy, the characters have appeal for all audiences and our party of four adults didn’t feel out of place. (Note: If you want both fancy and a buffet, try 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian.)

Would we visit Story Book Dining at Artist Point again? We would! I’ll be watching for an opportunity to bring our family here in the future. How about you? Have you tried this new character dining experience? What did you think about it?

The Road to runDisney 2019 & 2020

My past runDisney experiences look like this: Princess, Princess, Star Wars, Princess. As hard as it was to pass on those early-in-the-year events this year, Joseph and I are registered instead for the Wine & Dine 10K and Half-Marathon in November. Why not try an entirely new race experience? AND Food & Wine Festival calories would never seem less fattening after all that running. But wait! There’s more! In January 2020, we are also registered for the Dopey Challenge. Crazy? Maybe. Let’s discuss.

Seems like it’s my destiny to run a full marathon once every 10 years or so. My first was in early 1999 (Austin, Texas) and I thought once was enough. I ran 26.2 miles in a respectable 4 hours 20 minutes and didn’t feel compelled to repeat the experience. Ever. Until 2010 when I inexplicably wanted to run the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Alabama. It was December, the course was hilly and painful, and those miles took a good bit longer at 46 than they did at 34. I actually cried when I found Raymond after I crossed the finish line, vowing never to do it again. Which brings me to The Dopey. For those unfamiliar with this challenge – runners can enter all four races held during the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend and earn six different finisher medals. One each for the 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon. Then separate medals are given for completing Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge (half and full marathons) and the Dopey Challenge (all four events). Yes, that’s 48.6 miles in four days, but let’s not dwell on pesky details.

Why would I (I’ll be 55 in November) want to do this now? The answer has many layers. Joseph is all in, so I won’t be alone. It’ll be his first full marathon and I’m thrilled he wants us to do it together. Ten years is obviously how long it takes me to forget how difficult it is to train for, complete, and recover from a marathon (I’m avoiding thinking about four days of events right now and how little sleep that means). I’m feeling fantastic – I just had a checkup and all the routine tests indicate I’m in good shape health-wise. In the back of my mind I’ve always wanted to do the Dopey and I’m not getting any younger. I’m kind of feeling like it’s now or never. But who knows? In another 10 years I may be ready to go again.

Are you a runDisney fan? What events are in your future? Will you be at Wine & Dine or the WDW Marathon weekend?

My Weight Loss – Not a Journey

When people talk about their weight loss journeys, I imagine lengthy, epic treks of self discovery, changing habits, and learning about how to fuel a body for nourishment instead of eating for (sometimes) unhealthy reasons. It doesn’t sound bad at all and I am genuinely happy and supportive when one of my friends or coworkers embarks on their chosen variety of health-building adventure. For me, losing weight isn’t like that. It’s more like an MMA fight – a gloves off, no holds barred, cage match between me and the lazy overweight woman lurking inside of me. She is mighty bossy, stubborn and determined. But so am I.

Those Chins!

For me, the end of daylight savings time each fall brings on an irresistible urge to hibernate. When I leave work in the dark at the end of the day, I want to go home and enjoy warm, hearty comfort food and sleep. On the weekends I want to lay on the couch with Junior and watch sappy movies on the Hallmark channel and drink my favorite craft beers. I want to cook pastas and soups and stews that take hours to make and taste soothing and delicious. While I still exercise all winter long, the duration of said exercise gradually shrinks with every passing week until I’m down to 30 minutes roughly four times a week aside from the usual Sunday long run (I know this because my Fitbit tells me so). I become kind of fluffy-fit. I can still run a decent 5K or 10K time, but it’s not pretty (or comfortable). Every winter I gain weight and this past one was exceptionally extreme.

Who is that woman?

When spring arrived, I crawled out of my cave and found all the clothes in my closet had been replaced with much smaller ones. I’d grown an extra chin I nicknamed “Hank”. I looked back on January’s Disney World vacation pictures and wondered what the heck!?! I’d gotten so…uhm…f…f..f…full-figured! I looked in the mirror and said out loud – “THIS is ridiculous! Pull yourself together!” I started by setting three small goals: Lose 15 pounds, train for something fun, fit into the clothes I have & don’t buy any new ones in a larger size. Totally doable, right?

What the heck?

How’s it Going?

The battle has been fierce, but I’m winning. I’ve lost the weight and am two pencil skirts away from victory. I shed the first 10 pounds between April 1st to May 4th so I wouldn’t have to haul so much weight around on my bicycle during the Natchez Trace Century Ride. The rest has come off slowly, but I’ve been building muscle too and the results are not bad, if I do say so. I might not exactly love my body with its short limbs, long torso, and curvy bottom but my respect for it is growing and that’s good enough for me.

I wish I had a fool-proof method to share with you. Like a side hustle where I could sell you an amazingly effective nutrition and exercise plan and post Transformation Tuesday pictures on social media and make a bunch of money. I don’t have that. What’s working for me is to exercise more and eat less. I’ve given up (for now) my beloved stouts, porters, and IPAs. I aim for 360 active minutes per week – running, walking, bicycling, and weight training with my ASICS Studio App. That means I’m on my treadmill by 5:30 am before work every morning and must confess that this has been the hardest part. I eat the same breakfast every day (protein shake or bar and two hard-boiled eggs.). I eat tuna and veggies on a low carb wrap with an apple for lunch most days and for dinner I still eat the hearty comfort foods I love to cook but in much smaller portions and with a side salad.

ASICS Studio App

I log every single bite I eat into My Fitness Pal which is a total pain in the patootie, but is crucial to my success. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I don’t have a sweet tooth, but crave things like cheese, pasta, and rice – which I still eat, but I budget those calories into my day. This way, I don’t feel deprived. It also explains why I eat the same breakfast and lunch all the time which makes logging those meals plus budgeting cravings faster and easier. I aim for 1400-1600 calories a day on the days I exercise and slightly less on rest days. I eat more fruits and vegetables now…but not kale or riced cauliflower because I hate those and I’m not eating anything I hate. If my Fitbit is accurate, I burn between 2,000 and 2,200 on most days, so I should continue to lose about a pound a week until I can zip those last two skirts.

What’s With the Soul-Baring?

So…why am I sharing this with you? Two reasons: First, maybe one of you has also emerged from hibernation, found yourself with a too-small wardrobe and are trying to make a change…you can do it!!! We can support each other! Small goals reached with small changes makes all the difference in the long run. Second, remember that third goal I made to train for something fun? I’ve got that all settled and I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you what runDisney events are in my future and maybe some of you will be doing them too!

Is your weight loss a journey or a battle? What’s working for you?

Thanks for reading…Lisa

The Fam Rides Natchez Trace

When Raymond, Megan, Joseph and I registered last year for the May 4, 2019 Natchez Trace Century Ride, we had plenty of time to train. With no runDisney events on our schedule, we could concentrate all of our efforts into preparing for this family outing. We imagined all the fun we’d have on regular weekend rides – welcoming springtime and enjoying the beautiful weather together. Here’s what actually happened…

The Fam Rides Natchez Trace

The annual Natchez Trace Century Ride offers four different distances to choose from: 25, 50, 62, and 100 miles. Since this would be the first time for Megan and Joseph to join Raymond and me for this event, we thought the 62-mile distance would be fun yet challenging. (Raymond and I have done the 50 and the 100-mile rides before. 100 miles was hard and once may have been enough for me.)

As May 4th approached, Raymond used his time wisely, faithfully bicycling the hills of Vicksburg nearly every weekend and spending untold hours on his trainer at home. I procrastinated (no surprise) until April and had to kick it into high gear (HA! See what I did there?) – Raymond and I rode 15 miles on April 14th, 30 miles on April 21st, and 45 miles on April 28th. I added some time on my trainer between rides. Joseph rode with us once and then spent Spring Break hiking to Havasu Falls and back. After which he declared himself ready to ride. Which he was. Ah, to be young and so very in shape. (Is it wrong to occasionally consider one’s offspring a jerk? Asking for a friend.) Megan was a bit of a mystery during this time. Her schedule didn’t allow her time to ride with us, so she was on her own. She has a bike and a trainer and said she’d be ready. And, sure enough, she was, too.

When we woke up on May 4th, the weather was not looking good for our ride. While not raining, the sky was cloudy and the forecast was grim. Taking our chances, we left the hotel and made it to the starting line with plenty of time to spare. Raymond finished some last minute mechanical adjustments to our bicycles and promptly at 7:15 we were off.

I’d surprised Joseph with a waterproof bicycle-mountable speaker so he could provide cycling tunes along the way. His eclectic taste in music was excellent entertainment. I laughed out loud as we changed places in our 4-person pace line to “Mr. Sandman”.

The clouds kept the temperature from getting too warm and the rest stops had great assortments of snacks. We made it to mile 30 at a very good pace – at times we were roaring along well over 20 miles an hour. The course was out and back; mostly flat with a few rolling hills on good roads. It was at the mile 30 rest stop that Raymond checked the weather radar on his phone and the four of us stared (a bit horrified) at the massive rain clouds bearing down on us. We agreed to keep going to the turn around so we could at least complete half the course.

Half-way Finished and THEN…

By the time we turned around and were passing back by that 30-mile rest stop, the rain started. At first it was light and steady but not too bad. We decided to keep going. Except for getting covered with wet road dirt from each others’ bicycle tires, we were doing well and still maintaining a great pace. With just 15 miles to go, things took a turn for the worse.

As we rode along the Ross R. Barnett Reservoir, the wind and rain both picked up. A lot. At times it took every ounce of concentration to stay upright. The raindrops were huge and blowing right into my left ear. I checked our speed as Raymond and Joseph pulled ahead of Megan and me – we were pedaling for all we were worth and going just 11 miles an hour. The batteries on Joseph’s speaker gave out in the middle of “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.

From time to time I would worry that Megan wasn’t behind me since I couldn’t hear anything but the wind. Then I’d hear an oddly cheerful, “I’m here!” to let me know she was okay. Of all of us, Megan seemed to be enjoying our day the most. Nobody thought of quitting and we eventually made it to the finish line.

After the struggle of the last few miles, our average pace for the whole ride was 16.5 miles per hour. The weather was rotten but instead of ruining our fun, we ended up feeling an even bigger sense of accomplishment than we would have otherwise. We were completely soaked and cold, so we skipped the after-ride complimentary lunch in favor of showers and dry clothes. We celebrated our efforts with lunch at our favorite barbecue spot, The Pig and Pint – and by then the rain had stopped.

Do you bicycle? I highly recommend this ride if you’re in the Jackson, Mississippi area. When the weather’s good, the course is beautiful and the support is fantastic. Will we do it again next year? Absolutely!