Florida 2012 Journal – Water Sports & The California Grille
February 24th, 2012 by Jessica

Monday, January 30, 2012

Water Sports & The California Grille

For the second day in a row, we arose to Mickey yelling at Stitch on the resort phone wake-up call.  Concierge confirmed my cosmetology appointment for the coming Thursday morning.  We hopped on the water taxi to the Contemporary Resort and had breakfast at Chef Mickey’s.  It was another buffet style breakfast that generally lacked in good selection and taste.  The desserts were good, but I may have been biased by the selection of rice crispy treats.  We had the chance to meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto.  It definitely wouldn’t be worth the $62 it would have cost, plus the $10 tip.

Parasailing Boat we never got ride on

Parasailing Boat we never got ride on

We took the water taxi back to the Wilderness Lodge and Andrew took pictures of me on the balcony of the Yellowstone Suite.  We were killing time before our 11:00am parasailing adventure at the Contemporary Lodge.  Sammy Duvalls called us at 10:00am as we were on our way out to say that due to high winds, the parasailing was cancelled.

Bummed out, we asked the concierge to reschedule our parasailing for the following Saturday at 11am, which they said they did.  (We found out later that they scheduled us for a watercraft rental, and we never got to go parasailing after all.)  We asked the concierge to help us find a place for lunch but they didn’t know what to suggest, so we went back downstairs.

Surrey Bikes

Surrey Bikes

Wandering around the resort, we came across the Surrey Bike rentals and decided to take one out for a spin.  The only place you can go is down the path to Fort Wilderness and back, which is a two mile round trip.  The surrey bikes are difficult to pedal, difficult to steer and difficult to brake.  It wasn’t much fun at all but we made it there and back, huffing and puffing the whole way.

For lunch, we decided to try Roaring Forks which is a self-service snack bar inside the Wilderness Lodge.  Andrew got a bacon cheeseburger while I opted for the chicken nuggets and french fries.  The meal would have been about $30, and it wasn’t anything to brag about.

Sea Spray Boats

Sea Raycer Boats

Trying to find something to do and still bummed out about missing the opportunity to parasail, we decided to rent two Sea Raycer boats from the launch at the Wilderness Lodge and adventure around Bay Lake.  We had done this for our honeymoon and loved it, so I had high expectations for fun.  As it turns out, Andrew’s boat had a maximum of less than half speed but we didn’t realize that until he waved me past him and I took off across the lake.  I thought he was just being nice and going slow because he didn’t know if I wanted to go fast.  Unfortunately, his boat was simply broken, but I didn’t know that until we docked back at the Lodge.  It really put a damper on our day.

I had passed by the Disney Vacation Club sales desk multiple times in the lobby of the Lodge, and wanted to know more about it.  A coworker of mine was a very satisfied member and had spoken highly of it.  I persuaded Andrew to go to their open house tour to learn more about the program.  They took us by shuttle to their models inside Saratoga Springs and explained how all the points worked.  We just weren’t interested, and I could tell Andrew felt the whole thing was a waste of time.

The Vacation Club dropped us off at the Contemporary Resort where I had a manicure and pedicure at the “spa” on the third floor.  It was more like a closet with some nail polish.  The cost of that mani/pedi was $200 with an $80 tip which was fully included in our Platinum Plan.  I was astonished at the amount of money they charged for the service.  While I was there, Andrew took out a different Sea Raycer boat from the Contemporary but they had no idea how to ring him up on the Platinum Plan.  Apparently Sammy Duvalls, much like the Walt Disney World Speedway, is not associated at all with Disney.  It was yet another frustration in a very frustrating day, and neither of us were in the mood to be cheerful.

We ended the day at the California Grille with our 6:00pm dinner reservation.  When we arrived, there was some kind of mixup about our seating arrangements.  One cast member told another that we were to be seated in the “wine room” but halfway to our table, she was intercepted and motioned that we were the “wrong couple” and to take us to the regular seating.  It was embarrassing for the staff, clearly, but we really didn’t care to sit in the fancy “wine room” anyway.

Wishes Fireworks from the California Grille

Wishes Fireworks from the California Grille

The dinner took more than two hours, which meant we missed our Preferred Viewing appointment for the Wishes Fireworks at Magic Kingdom.  When we go out to eat normally, we order a simple entry and we’re done.  We aren’t used to spending 2-3 hours at every meal, so it was wearing sometimes to have to wait for course after course.  This time, it was worth it though.  Three cheese flat bread, a sushi platter, Filet Mignon, bison, a cookie plate and a caramel banana dessert were by far the highlight of our day.  Aside from our waitress talking about her boyfriend’s divorce when noting that it was our anniversary, the dinner was pretty good.  Although it would have cost $169 plus a $28 tip for dinner, it was awfully pricey but the food was truly delicious.

Having missed out on our Preferred Viewing of the Wishes fireworks, we decided to head out onto the exhibition platform on the 15th floor of the Contemporary Resort to see them from there.  The view is decent and they pipe the music into local speakers so you can hear the show.  It was a unique place from which to view the fireworks, and if you have a chance to see it from the California Grille, I would recommend it.

Waiting for the water taxi to take us back to the Wilderness Lodge, we noticed Peter Pan was standing out on the edge of the dock.  After a minute or two he hid behind a pillar, which seemed very odd to us.  We soon realized that the Pirate Cruise was about to land, and Peter Pan was the special character that the kids got to meet when they disembarked from their cruise.  It was very cute to watch it “behind the scenes.”

In Room Dining

In Room Dining

We went back to the Wilderness Lodge and decided to order room service because we had so many extra points on the Platinum Plan remaining.  We ordered iced tea, chips and salsa, a turkey sandwich and caramel apple pie.  As the in-room dining arrived, the Electric Light Parade stopped in front of the Wilderness Lodge on Bay Lake and proceeded to light up the night with a dozen floats.  They had floats with a turtle, dolphins, an octopus, alligator, King Neptune, seahorses, then USA flags and flashing stars.  It was very cute.

Due to the water parade we had several of the balcony doors open while we were enjoying the festivities.  Florida was experiencing quite a cold spell on this day.  I made the grave mistake of asking Andrew to turn on the heater in our room.  More to come on that soon.

We typed up recaps for the day.  We decided to cancel our character breakfasts at the Tusker House and Cape May with concierge because the buffet breakfasts were not very good.  We also had a hard time getting to some of them, and wanted to be able to sleep in a few days on our vacation.  While reviewing the accounting on our plan, Andrew discovered that the Contemporary Spa had charged us a meal point for the manicure and pedicure, so I went down to the concierge again and had them fix the problem.  It was the first of many times we had to have concierge straighten out issues with the Platinum Plan because nobody knew how to ring it up throughout Disney.

Jessica’s Favorite Thing of the Day: The Filet at the California Grille

Andrew’s Favorite Thing of the Day: The Bison at the California Grille

Did you know? There’s a lot more to this story!

Flight to Florida & Universal’s Royal Pacific Hotel
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios & Arriving at Walt Disney World
Visiting the Magic Kingdom & The Richard Petty Experience
Water Sports & The California Grille
Hollywood Studios, Star Tours & Toy Story Midway Mania
Epcot & Around the World Segway Tour at the World Showcase
Our 10th Wedding Anniversary
Animal Kingdom, Mini Golf & The Yachtsman Steakhouse
Our Final Day at Disney & our Private Illuminations Cruise
The Missing Towncar & Our Flight to Phoenix

Flickr Photo Collection of Our 10th Anniversary Trip to Florida
See the Wilderness Lodge Yellowstone Suite Video Walk Through
See my Richard Petty Ride Along Experience Video

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© 2013 Jessica M. Green