Easter Brunch at Art Smith’s Homecomin’

I totally forgot to post about our Easter Brunch at Art Smith’s Homecomin’ at Disney Springs.

We chose the 6 am sunrise Mass, which would place us at Disney Springs around 8:30 am with half an hour to kill before our 9 am brunch at Art Smith’s Homecomin’ at Disney Springs. We imagined we’d park and then walk around the Springs, maybe over to Saratoga Springs or grab a coffee at Starbuck’s to kill time.

We checked the opening time for the garages and 9 am was opening time. We also read about street parking that was supposed to be open 24/7. Well, the latter was not true. Both the Orange and Lime garages did not open until 8:45 and 9:00 – not sure which order now. But we saw the Grapefruit garage and it was open so we parked and got out of the car but was stopped by security because, apparently, it was for Cast Members only.

We got back in the garage circling, circling, circling until we saw a line begin to form at the Orange garage. Oh, yes, it opened at 8:45. We soon parked but were halted again at security because security didn’t open until 9 a.m. Which is so strange since restaurants at Disney Springs were taking 9 a.m. reservations. How are you supposed to get there on time?

Homecomin’ texted us while we were in line for security that they were expecting us so we texting back that we’d be a bit late due to the 9 a.m. security opening. Anyway, we weren’t too late and were seated and served by an amazing CM named Andy. He’d been there since opening day.

We both ordered the Short Rib Hash and a side order of Donuts.

Short Rib Hash

Two sunny side up eggs over our short rib hash with grilled corn succotash, potatoes, onions, red bell and Fresno peppers for a bit of a kick. Served with a cheddar cheese drop biscuit and choice of side.

House-made Doughnuts

Mini iced doughnuts piled with pecans, bacon and drizzled with house-made caramel. Or dusted with sugar and served with spiced cane syrup and seasonal fruit

Rich had the Sweet Tea Shine and I had a Princess Mimosa with Peach Puree.

Sweet Tea Shine

Sweet tea, fresh-squeezed lemon and moonshine<

Princess Mimosa

A royal pour of bubbly with your choice of freshly-squeezed Florida orange juice or blueberry, strawberry or peach purees.

We’d been there for lunch before but this was our first brunch here. Everything was delicious, although I try to avoid southern cooking for the most part. Donuts are something I absolutely should avoid at all cost but I succumbed and they were my favorite part. I paid for that for a couple weeks – lol!

The Brunch Where You Upgrade Your WDW AP and Do the Cinderella Castle Stroll

We were in this “what if we live full-time in an RV” mood again and thought, “Let’s have breakfast at Fort Wilderness and then walk around the campgrounds, checking out all the RVs.” First problem: Trail’s End is closed for refurbishment.

“Okay, so let’s brunch at Whispering Canyon at Wilderness Lodge and then boat over to Fort Wilderness.” Made a 10:20 a.m. ressie, left the house around 8:30 a.m. (app. 90 minute drive), parked the car, and checked in. “Oh, we’re running around 20 minutes late.” Okay, we found a seat in the lobby and waited.

Then Rich said something about upgrading our Florida resident Pixie Dust AP to a newly-released Florida resident Pirate AP so we can get in the parks on the weekend. We’d been debating whether it was worth it or not or if the week days were just fine. Rich has plenty of vacation so it’s not a problem taking off a Friday now and then.

But, frankly, we’re getting tired of checking out tiki bars and beaches on the weekends with the only Disney option being a meal in a resort or Disney Springs. So, yeah, let’s do it, I said. After all, we have to sit here and wait for our brunch. No blaming too many Mimosas or Bloody Marys on that decision – lol!

Done. Upgrade accomplished. Then our table was ready so we headed into brunch. We both had the Western Style Benedict, which Rich loves. This was my first time and it was delicious. We also both had a Bloody Mary.

Then, while waiting for the boat to the MK (we would have to then boat over to Fort Wilderness from there, in other words, double boat), we wondered if we should try to get a Magic Kingdom park reservation. Will it even be possible on such short notice? Somehow that sounded much more exciting than touring the RVs.

Park reservations were available. Done. Then we boated over to Magic Kingdom and we were in! Just like that! You can check out the “Upgrading My #WDW AP Means Cinderella Castle on a Saturday! #Shorts #Clip.

This was just the medicine I needed. Of course, I get homesick for California and all that’s familiar, and this was just the ticket, literally, I needed. Funny thing is, in the past the Magic Kingdom made me miss Disneyland, but this time, it felt like I *was* at Disneyland.

We just soaked up the atmosphere, had an Orange Dole Whip Float and walked around, reminding ourselves where everything was. After our recent visit to Animal Kingdom, which seemed humongous, the MK felt much more doable. We boated back to Wilderness Lodge where we stopped in the gift shop for some of those yummy gluten free cookies (chocolate chip and lemon), some Joffreys coffee, and drove back home.

What a magical day! We were so glad we upgraded when we had the chance. We’ve spent so much of our time over the years in Florida in Orlando and it feels the most like home.


The Port Orleans Pet Sitter Test Trip, Day 2, Part 2 and Finale

We drove the back way home from Hudson to our resort and took a much-needed nap. By the time we woke up, the evening was descending. It was too early to just stay in so we hopped on the boat to Disney Springs. we were hoping to get to the outside seating area of the Boathouse but the spaces not under cover were closed as they were expecting rain.

We headed over to Jock Lindseys’s Hangar Bar and snagged a seat inside. We’d only sat outside before so this was a new experience, one we really enjoyed at night. Great atmosphere inside, which we hadn’t noticed during the day.

We weren’t that hungry so we shared an order of 3 tacos al pastor. I had my usual Margarita – don’t know why I didn’t get a Singapore Sling as a nod to my youth.

Rich ordered a “Scottish Professor” – Monkey Shoulder Blended malt Scotch Whiskey, Hendrick’s Gin, Pear Nectar, Simple Syrup, and fresh Lemon Juice.

I took a sip of Rich’s drink and it was so amazing, I’d wished I’d ordered that instead. So smooth, which is exactly what my stomach wanted this night. Next time.

fter our meal, we walked over to Ghirardelli and shared the Ocean Beach Sea Salt Caramel Sundae – Caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream, handmade milk or dark chocolate hot fudge topped with whipped cream, sea salt and a Milk or Dark Sea Salt Caramel Square. This is what we always got at DCA at the Disneyland Resort. Reminding me of going to the original Ghirardelli at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco when we lived there.

We rode the boat back to our resort and spotted a carriage on the way back to our room. Completely unplanned, the night truly turned into a magical evening.

We slept well both nights on the king bed. For breakfast, we were thinking about those beignets again, but they were out. Rich got us some coffee and a couple breakfast sandwiches, we packed up, checked out and drove home.

By the way, all went well with the pet sitter. She really spent a lot of time with the kitties and I think Chip is especially looking forward to our next trip away. Hopefully, we won’t forget the suitcase. 🙂

The Port Orleans Pet Sitter Test Trip, Day 2, Part 1

We woke up tired, so instead of hitting one of the parks, we decided to take a drive down memory lane to where we used to live in Tampa Bay. After all, we were halfway there. Rich got us some of those delicious beignets to go with our chicory coffee, and we got the powdered sugar all over the room – lol! We thought, “oh well, the maids will clean that up for us.”

Well, were we wrong. When we returned later that afternoon, there had been no maid service. Rich called the front desk and they said every other day. So Rich cleaned up the beignet mess himself. What a day not to have maid service – lol!

It was a beautiful morning and a beautiful drive. It was so strange to drive through the old neighborhood. Boy, did that feel like a long time ago when we lived there. While we were up that way, we decided to check out Sam’s Beach Bar in Hudson and absolutely loved it. We’ve got some great Tiki bars here on the Space Coast but I think Sam’s is our new favorite Tiki bar.

The view was incredible and there’s something about the scent of the Gulf air that I’ve never forgotten. While I enjoy the cooler ocean breezes on the Atlantic side. I do miss the Gulf side and that yummy tropical air. I will always love Tampa Bay.

Rich had his usual Grouper sandwich (claims Sam’s is the best), and I had my usual Coconut Shrimp with Margarita. Rich might have had a Pirate Punch.

The food was tasty, the drinks yummy, the view incredible, the music was so diverse, and the people and staff were so friendly at this laid-back little beach bar. We can’t wait to go back!

The Port Orleans Pet Sitter Test Trip, Day 1

Now that we’re back in Florida, it was time to get a new pet sitter. We had an awesome one in Las Vegas (Shadow so misses Scott), but it can be a challenge to find somebody you trust and the cats like. Daisy hides, Shadow likes male sitters, but Chip seems to love everybody. They all warmed up to Julie and Chip seems to really be into her.

We booked a 2-night stay at Port Orleans. We don’t really like Moderate resorts at WDW, but since this was just a pet sitter test trip, and not the main event, we were a bit more budget-conscious.

This was our first time at Port Orleans and it surprised us in a good way. Thankfully, they got rid of those bathroom curtain doorway separators and the bathroom remodel is a big improvement.

Not only do we need to test out a pet sitter but we obviously needed to test our own process. We were almost to Orlando when Rich realized he’d left our suitcase in the garage at home. He pulled over and, since he was on the busy side of the road, I jumped out to take a peek and, yep, no suitcase in the trunk.

Eventually, we made it back to Port Orleans and checked into our room. Then we took Disney transportation (bus) to Animal Kingdom. Last time we lived in Florida we loved to hang out at Nomad Lounge, chat with the CMs and other guests and were excited to return.

It was odd. Everything about it was odd. The person who seated us, the small table we were given, and the lame service throughout. No awesome CM chat. No guest chat (have noticed this seems to be normal post-Pandemic. People are more insular).

The only good part was the food. It was amazing. Especially the “Chicken Manchurian Nomad Bowl.” Rich had a charcuterie plate but also raved about the Chicken Manchurian. I had the Bolo Rita Cocktail and Rich had the Spice Trader Classic. Churros for dessert were pretty special, too.