Rich’s Wild West Birthday at Wilderness Lodge
Who: Rich and Kathy
When: August 11-12, 2005
What: Rich’s Birthday
Where: Wilderness Lodge at WDW
We arrived at Wilderness Lodge around 9 am, checked in and dropped our bag off in our room—the deluxe resort came through again. It was so awesome to be back at the WL. We’ve been missing the West—especially the big lodges of the Northwest—and this was a great fix for our longing.
We took the boat over to the Magic Kingdom and once on Main Street, we stopped in at Guest Services to pick up an “It’s My Birthday” pin for Rich. We then walked down Main Street towards the castle.
On the way past the castle we saw part of Cinderellabration—it looked interesting but we didn’t want to stop – we were too anxious to get going on the rides. And we were headed for Peter Pan. The good news is we walked on most of them without any wait. After Peter Pan we checked out It’s a Small World and totally loved the refurbishment – especially the big clock tower out front similar to Disneyland’s—although Disneyland’s is completely outside.
Next was Mickey’s Philharmagic—this was our longest wait of the day—approx. 10 minutes. We stopped in at the gift shop and had to buy a Flounder beanie. We then rode Pooh before heading over to TomorrowLand and Buzz Lightyear. Once Rich explained to Kathy how to shoot, she racked up a score that Rich couldn’t match—oops—not nice since it was his birthday! We then hopped on the PeopleMover—an old favorite especially since Disneyland doesn’t have anything like this anymore. We stopped to take a pic of Rich standing in front of Mickey and Minnie topiaries.
It was so hot and humid and we were definitely in need of some bottled water so we grabbed one of those and headed for Adventureland since we also needed a Dole Whip fix. After slurping down our Pineapple Floats, we realized it was close to lunch time and we were also hungry. Disappointed that El Pirata y El Perico wasn’t open (we were craving a taco salad), we made our way over to Pecos Bill and had cheeseburgers and fries. When the CM taking our order saw Rich’s birthday pin, she gave us each a free dessert. We were surprised that even a counter service restaurant acknowledged his birthday. Rich received lots of happy birthdays from CMs and guests.
We stopped in at the gift shop outside Pirates of the Caribbean and bought our first Pirate bean bag—Pirate Mickey. Pirate Bob was happy to ring up our souvenir but refused to share his grog. After all, he was a real pirate. 🙂
By this time we were totally drained from the heat and hopped on the boat back to WL. Kathy had noticed that she was getting a headache and after a brief change in the room, we splashed in the pool for awhile, then ordered drinks (Ponderosa Pine for Kathy and a Mountain Bluebird for Rich) at the Trout Pass Bar. Unfortunately, there weren’t many people hanging out there—perhaps harder to find locals having a drink mid-week like we did last year over the weekend.
After our drinks it was nap time until time to get ready for our 6 pm PS at Artist Point.
After showering and getting dressed for dinner, we opened the door to our room to head for Artist Point and we noticed 3 balloons tied to a birthday card hanging on the door. What a wonderful surprise! Pluto was wishing Rich a “Happy Birthday.”
We were seated a lovely table by the window overlooking Old Faithful and the pool area and our waiter was Steve. He was pleasant and efficient. While Kathy had been hesitant to order the venison spring rolls and the Buffalo Ribeye Steak, Steve assured Kathy that people were pleasantly surprised by the Buffalo. He also explained that instead of their usual Cedar Plank Salmon—their signature dish—they had a tasty white salmon instead. We also noticed that this salmon was $11 cheaper than their usual salmon but Rich was up for the change since he’s had their salmon before. Here’s what we ended up ordering:
Crispy Venison Spring Rolls with hot sweet and sour sauce
Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Riesling, Columbia ’02
Kathy: “Rich was right that venison tastes rather gamey but within the spring rolls, it was quite tasty. A small piece escaped from the wrapper and I could tell it was, indeed, rather gamey. I wouldn’t order venison as a standalone dish. I also ordered the recommended wine, hoping it would enhance the venison, which it did.”
Smoky Portobello Soup with Roasted Shiitakes and Chive Oil
Rich: “This soup has been described as coming down from Heaven in large vats and I would have to agree. I opted for a dessert wine with dessert rather than with my appetizer.”
Grilled Buffalo Ribeye—with sweet potato-hazelnut gratin and sweet onion jam
Chateau Ste. Michelle Syrah, Columbia ’00
Kathy: “The Buffalo was awesome—especially topped with the sweet onion jam. This is one of the best steaks I’ve ever had.”
Cedar Plank White Salmon with wild mushroom bread salad and bearnaise sauce
Argyle, Willamette Pinot Noir ’02
Rich: “The White Salmon was a nice change from the Copper Salmon and the accompaniments were the same.”
Artist Point Cobbler – Seasonal berries and housemade black raspberry ice cream
Inniskillin Ice Wine
Rich and Kathy: “We shared this dessert last year and it was incredible—and a very large portion. Had we known how tiny it would be this year, we might have ordered an additional dessert. It was so tiny, it was difficult to be impressed by anything but the berries on top.”
Again, we were struck by the Pacific Northwest atmosphere and we were nostalgic for the good times we had when we lived there for a couple of years.
After dinner, we stopped in at the gift shop—the friendliest in WDW.
We returned to our room to change back into our shorts before boarding the boat for an evening at the Magic Kingdom. Everybody was lined up already for the 9 pm parade. We hopped on Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and Jungle Cruise without any lines. Unfortunately, when we tried Splash Mountain, the CM said it was closed for the fireworks. We found that to be rather annoying. In other words, evenings at the MK at WDW seem to revolve around the parade and the fireworks—don’t count on all of the rides being opened. Unlike Disneyland, where we used to use parade times to ride as many rides as we could—although times could have changed at Disneyland as well, for all we know.
By this time the heat and humidity had really caught up with us. Kathy couldn’t get rid of her headache and we were both tired. We boated back to the WL and saw part of Wishes from the boat. Sweating profusely on the boat in the still humid air, we stopped in at Roaring Forks and each grabbed an ice cream and a cold soda. Finally, Kathy was relieved of her headache, although the ice cream didn’t sit well with Rich. We both had a rather sleepless night, missing our comfy waterbed and our kitties at home. The next morning, sick (physically) from the heat, we decided we’d head back home rather than tromp around Studios or eat another big meal at Prime Time. We’ve noticed that with the summer heat, we really have to scale back our plans and maybe next year, choose to do something different for our birthdays. It really is draining in the summer. But, overall, we had a wonderful time. The best part was staying at the Wilderness Lodge and being surrounded by that West Coast Lodge feeling. Maybe next year, we’ll be staying at the real thing. 🙂
Once we returned home, Rich received an electronic “Happy Birthday” card from Mickey. We really were treated well at WDW for Rich’s birthday. But, it took us the next couple of days of rest to feel like ourselves again. While the crowds were manageable, it was just too hot.