Day Two Part 1: Sunday, July 13, The Big Birthday at the Magic Kingdom

Each morning we allowed ourselves to just wake up naturally. We usually got up around 8 am, showered, got dressed, and jumped on a bus to get breakfast in whatever park we had planned to go to on that day. On our ’99 trip, our room was close enough to the lobby that Rich would run down and get us each a cup of coffee. Since our room was so far from the lobby this time, we decided we would just wait and have our coffee in the parks.

This was the big day. While I was showering, Rich had set out a birthday card for me. It was a beautifully sweet and romantic card and I kept it out on the desk for the remainder of our visit. It must have been humid in the room because the card started to get quite moist by the end of the trip. We finished dressing and we were off to start our fun day.

Today was the Magic Kingdom, of course. The MK was the closest thing to being at Disneyland for my birthday. We headed for the YC bus stop and saw that there was a MK bus just getting ready to leave. We ran over there and they stopped and let us on. Good timing and a thoughtful bus driver.

We arrived at the MK and I started to get excited. I started to pose in front of the Mickey Mouse grass sculpture but a nice couple offered to take our picture together.

On previous trips, the MK just didn’t feel right. Disneyland was my home park. I hoped that after I had visited this MK enough times, that it would start to feel like home. It finally did. As soon as we walked under the train station and headed into Main Street, my eyes teared up. We headed for City Hall and got a Today Is My Birthday pin for me. CMs wished me a happy birthday throughout our day at the park.

We stopped in at the Main Street Bakery for coffee and chocolate croissants for both of us and sat at a table across the street and people watched down Main Street.

On our last 2 trips to WDW, we hadn’t been able to ride some of our favorite rides, such as Peter Pan, and we hadn’t ridden Winnie the Pooh or Buzz Lightyear. So, we headed towards Fantasyland with our coffees in hand. When we noticed that there wasn’t a line at IASW, we threw the remainder of our coffee away and hopped on. We really should have had some coffee before we arrived at the park because we couldn’t sit around and sip coffee when there was so much to do. And we couldn’t wait to get started.

Now, this is the first time Rich has actually ridden IASW since the New York World’s Fair in 1964. It wasn’t as bad as he had remembered. We especially liked the Hula dancers.

We then headed for Peter Pan. We grabbed a fast pass for later in the day and jumped in the standby line. This way we could make up for those previous trips when we missed this ride and ride Peter twice. We then rode Winnie the Pooh for the first time. That was cute. We liked the bouncy part.

We were excited that Carousel of Progress was open and we headed for that before returning to Peter Pan for our fast pass. Rich had also ridden COP at the NY World’s Fair in ’64 and this is one of our favorite rides. When we were here in March, it wasn’t open, of course. This version of CoP seemed better than ever.

While we were in the neighborhood, we jumped on the People Mover (what it’ll always be to me) then back to Peter Pan for our fast pass. After Peter Pan, we needed some refreshment and stumbled around until we found Adventureland and Aloha Isle for Dole Whips. We’re still getting used to the layout of this MK. I was puzzled that I seemed to have to make a choice about which kind of Dole Whip I wanted. Rich got us 2 swirls. Later I read on RADP that at Disneyland there is only one kind of Dole Whip. So, that’s why I wasn’t used to having to choose one at WDW.

Newly refreshed, we headed for Pirates. This is our favorite ride. We used to say we liked the one at Disneyland better but the last time we were at Disneyland, we hadn’t realized we had become used to the version at WDW and thought the ride at Disneyland was too long. We’re highly anticipating the Pirate movie but we just don’t go to the theater anymore. We’ll wait for the DVD. We’ll probably have to own a personal copy of that one.

After browsing through the Pirates store, we noticed that it was getting close to our PS time at Tony’s Town Square, so we skipped Buzz Lightyear and headed for Main Street.

When making our plans before the trip, we really didn’t have anything in mind for the Magic Kingdom. None of the restaurants are especially compelling to us. We had eaten at Tony’s in ’99 and thought this would be a good place to have a sit-down birthday lunch. We preferred to make a fuss over my birthday here rather than at dinner later that night. I was wearing my birthday pin and when we were seated, the waitress came by and wished me a happy birthday. We were off to a good start.

We were trying to save our appetites for dinner that night so Rich and I split a rather tasteless buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad (have had better elsewhere) and a very tasty Garlic Cheese Pizza. Then they brought out a complimentary delicious Oreo cookie and caramel pecan ice cream sundae for my birthday. It was a lot of fun celebrating the first half of my birthday, getting attention at the Magic Kingdom. On our way out, we made our usual stop at the Emporium but didn’t buy anything.

My Straprunners were doing an amazing job. Not only was I not getting blisters, my feet were not hurting at all. The Straprunners seemed to propel me forward and cushion my step-no pain in the calves either. I was a mess in ’99-blisters, sore calves, and sore feet. Since that trip, though, we’ve been living in tri-level homes and I think the stairs, along with the Straprunners, were just what I needed to get in park-hopping shape.

But, this time, Rich got blisters. He normally wears his New Balance walking shoes but he wanted to wear his Tevas since I was wearing my Straprunners. Maybe he should have gotten Straprunners, too, because his Tevas were giving him blisters. He switched to his walking shoes and he was fine the rest of the trip.

We returned to the YC by bus and headed for our room to take our usual nap. But having bypassed shopping at the Emporium, we returned to the YC gift ship to purchase some things we had noticed earlier. After our nap, we took a quick dip in the Quiet Pool-in between rain storms. The pool was pleasant but not too interesting. We just had to get to Stormalong Bay one of these afternoons.

Day Two Part 2: Sunday, July 13, Birthday Dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse

When we were planning on staying at WL, we were going to have my birthday dinner at Artist Point. But when we changed to the Yacht Club, we decided to make PS at the Yachtsman Steakhouse for dinner. When we dined at Artist Point in ’99, we had such an amazing experience, the waiter just went way beyond our expectations – put some kind of cane syrup in Rich’s ice tea to make it real sweet tea (you southerners will have to let us know exactly what that is), even led us out to the balcony and provided after dinner drinks and a complimentary cigar for Rich. We’re just sorry we didn’t get his name.

When planning our trips to WDW, we intend to try lots of great restaurants. But, in reality, we find that we only really want one big meal per trip. On the ’99 trip, it was Artist Point. We ended up canceling the Yachtsman that time. While we wanted to re-create the Artist Point experience, we decided on the Yachtsman, although we just didn’t really think we would have the same outstanding service, from reports we had read. Knowing that we proceeded to make our PS at the Yachtsman anyway (especially since our mouths were watering after watching Samantha Brown on Great Hotels. I couldn’t wait to have that salt-encrusted baked potato.

For our dinner tonight, though, the plan was to have a romantic, low-key dinner without all the birthday fuss. So, when we were seated at the Yachtsman, we planned to not mention my birthday unless some time throughout the meal, I suddenly got an urge to make a big deal of it. BTW, our PS was for 8:30 but we were ready by 7:30 so we headed down to see if we could be seated. Since it was a Sunday night, it wasn’t that busy (unlike the night before when we walked by to check it out) and we were seated immediately.

Our table was in the rotunda area. It looked quite romantic that night with couples seated at softly-lit tables for 2, overlooking the pool. It felt very intimate and peaceful. I had worried earlier about pool noise outside or unruly children but neither was anything to worry about. We considered ordering a full bottle of wine but decided to start with just a glass each of Sterling Vineyard 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon. We’ve liked Sterling Vineyards wine ever since we visited their Napa Valley winery in June ’97, when we lived in the SF Bay Area.

Our waiter brought us onion rolls that were just fantastic. For the starter, I had the: Caesar Salad with crisp romaine lettuce, grated parmesan cheese and pumpernickel croutons. Rich had the: Stone Fruit Salad with California peaches and prosciutto di parma and goat cheese. Rich’s starter may be new because it isn’t listed on Deb’s site but it was deliciously and creatively unique and a picture-worthy presentation. We wished we had the camera with us.

For our main course, I had the: Yachtsman Filet Mignon with shallots and red wine sauce and substituted the crushed potatoes with a salt-encrusted baked potato. Rich had the: Black Angus New York strip steak with roasted garlic gratin potatoes and peppercorn sauce. He pronounced them delicious. Everything with delicious. My steak was tender and just melted in my mouth. While I had been tempted to have the: Sautéed Mushroom Caps smothered with sherry and cabernet wine sauce, as shown on Great Hotels, I was glad that I didn’t. We were pleasantly full and content with what we had. The couple next to us ordered the Dessert Sampler Platter for Two but it didn’t really appeal to us.

We didn’t really bond with our waiter. Although the food was heavenly delicious and the setting was romantic, the service was just pleasant and efficient-nothing out of the ordinary like the service we had at Artist Point. That being the case in addition to the fact that we were quite satisfied with the meal, we stuck with our decision not to mention the birthday.

We strolled over to the Boardwalk, hand-in-hand and gazed at the night sky, enjoying the sounds of laughter in the background, and watched fireworks from both Studios and Epcot. We finally decided we had enough room in our stomachs to split a scoop of Butter Pecan ice cream from Seashore Sweets, one of our favorite late night stops. We sat outside sharing the ice cream and feeling another magical night at the Boardwalk.

A side note: While the Yacht Club never came up with a cake or any acknowledgement of my birthday, we could have arranged for all of that ourselves. Our plan was to just wait and see what happened and if there was no cake or acknowledgement from the YC staff, then we would have a cake and candles, etc. after we got back home. That way, our cats could join in, too.