What a trip! Food & Wine, Hurricane Matthew, old favorites, new restaurants and attractions – so much happened in just 8 days…here’s the rundown of the highs, lows, and unusual happenings.
Disney World October 2016 Hurricane Recap
We arrived in time to celebrate Magic Kingdom’s 45th Anniversary and we ran over to the insanely crowded park for a few minutes just so we could say we were there. As we were grabbing Mickey pretzels in Tomorrowland, I spotted someone I knew instantly! Jeanie Gallo from The Princess Papers! I was so happy to finally meet her in person after being friends with her on Facebook for a long time. Jeanie was every bit as sweet and lovely in person as one would expect from her blog and Facebook page! We took a few minutes to chat and planned to meet up again later in the week…sadly, this would not happen.
We’d planned our week carefully, with lots of park touring, dining, and FastPass action. We were seriously determined to pack in as much fun as possible and make the most of every day. Saturday night at Epcot, Sunday at Magic Kingdom, Monday at the Studios and Epcot, Tuesday at Animal Kingdom, Wednesday back to the Studios and Epcot again, Thursday to Magic Kingdom and Epcot….*insert sound of squealing breaks here* Hello Hurricane Matthew.
Up until Thursday afternoon, we were on a roll! For a party of 7 adults, we were accomplishing a tremendous amount and nothing was slowing us down…not even some serious afternoon torrential downpours during the week. As we hit Magic Kingdom on Thursday morning, it was clear that Matthew’s arrival was imminent and we knew some serious vacation interruption was highly likely. We took our morning plans seriously and were making terrific progress when we decided we needed a snack from Gaston’s Tavern. While looking for a table, I heard someone call my name and was delighted to come face to face with Judith – The Disney Exchange’s official listener #20! Judith and I visited while she waited on hold to change her resort reservations since her flight home had already been cancelled due to the impending storm.
After our snacks, we headed for our last Magic Kingdom attraction, Space Mountain, where we ran into Judith and her husband and we all rode together. That afternoon, we lunched at Whispering Canyon (always a pleasure) and hopped to Epcot. By this time, we were being told of the planned 5:00 pm park closure. Determined to tough it out until the very end, we donned our ponchos and made our way to World Showcase to meet up with Nick, Barbie and their friends Jill and Zach. I took a few minutes to see if I could cancel our Shula’s Steakhouse reservation for that evening and book something at our resort. Unbelievably, I scored a 9:10 pm ADR at The California Grill.
Time flew as fast as the wind was picking up! Before long, we headed to MouseGear to stock up on some hurricane supplies and souvenirs (just in case). By 5:00 sharp, we were on the monorail headed to the Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower. Because of the somewhat tricky logistics of getting all resort guests situated, the trip took about an hour.
Once in our rooms at Bay Lake Tower, we had time to clean up before heading over to the Contemporary for dinner. Already short-staffed, the restaurant was turning away all walkups (except for one extreme jerk who, after insulting Cast Members and demanding to speak to a manager – who he also insulted for not looking like a manager – and insisting his “kid” would not eat the food anywhere else, was allowed up to the restaurant…much to our disappointment.) While Matthew gained in intensity outside, we enjoyed a delicious dinner and excellent service. It was strange to see Magic Kingdom so dark from inside California Grill.
I’ll save the rest of the Disney World during a hurricane details for another post, but we ended up spending nearly all of Friday in our resort rooms. We had plenty of food (picked up at the Contemporary’s Fantasia Market on Thursday) and Disney movies played on TV all day. We never lost electricity and never felt in any danger from the storm. Housekeeping stopped by to check on us and drop off towels and soap/shampoo.
By early afternoon, everyone except Raymond and I decided the storm had let up enough to get out and walk around. By late afternoon, we were certain we could make our dinner reservation at The Swan’s Il Mulino. We heard Disney Springs would be opening after 4:00 pm. Lots of folks were out and about by this time – Raymond, Joseph, and I even arranged a meetup with Dave Tupper (Disney fan from Hawaii who’s been my friend on social media for years and has been a guest on The Disney Exchange) and his beautiful daughter. Thanks for the Aulani gifts, Dave!
Once we were all ready to leave for dinner, we called Uber since no Disney transportation was operating and, even though we arrived quite early, were welcomed at Il Mulino with open arms. The menu was limited due to the storm, but the service was wonderful and, for our last night at Walt Disney World, we had a great evening.
Saturday (departure day) would not normally have been a park day, but after missing out on Friday and with an 8:00 am opening at all the parks (7:00 am at Animal Kingdom), we knew we had to squeeze in a bit more Disney magic. We arrived at Magic Kingdom in time to meet Nick and Barbie for the opening show. Once in the park, the early crowds were low and we were on a mission! In 90 minutes we’d hit Space Mountain, it’s a small world, Haunted Mansion, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Pirates of the Caribbean. I also had time to meet the Dapper Dans (and pose for a picture!) and enjoy a Citrus Swirl.
We rushed back to Bay Lake Tower, grabbed our suitcases, and waited for Disney’s Magical Express to take us to the airport where, surprisingly, our flight home was on time! I’ve got tons more details to share with you about dining and new (to us) attractions over the next couple of weeks, so please check back for more about this trip.
I want to extend a special great big thank you to those of you who reached out to me while we were at Walt Disney World during Hurricane Matthew – your concern was deeply appreciated!!!