Food Love - Gettin' By In Disney

Chef Mickey? Breakfast with the Princesses? It's "Disney Vacation" staring the Collier Family. Ah, the things grandparents will do to see their grandchildren smile. All year I have been looking forward to our family vacation. I have three grandchildren, Cole, Sydney and Jakers. It had been several years since I vacationed with them. In fact, we had not been anywhere since Jakers, 3, was born. Plus it was my birthday trip. Nobody does a birthday celebration like Disney.

So, while excited to spend time with them, it was with great trepidation that I faced the grueling adventures of Disney World. I had not braved the gates of the Magic Kingdom for some twenty-five years. While I had somewhat fond memories of the park, like hearing "It's a Small World after all" sung repeatedly some 100 times as you floated around a 3-D cartoon, I mostly remember the great times we had at the pool of our hotel. The Grand Hyatt. It was 1985 and the hotel boasted the new concept in pools with cavernous swimming areas, pool slides and waterfalls.

But, as the grandchildren are getting older, Cole just turned 10, I decided we should take on the monumental task of negotiating a visit into the Wonderful World of Disney.

Whether or not you have small children, if you have walked through a toy or video department in a department store, you have to be blind not to know about the Disney Princesses craze. Everywhere you turn there is Belle, Jasmine, Snow White, Aurora, Pocahontas and Ariel waiting to dance and sing their way into the hearts of little princesses everywhere, all the while proving that every girl needs a handsome prince to save her and complete her happiness..

But I digress. The vacation begins with a Dinner with Chef Mickey at the Contemporary Hotel. Sadly I missed this dinner because I had to stay back in Atlanta for an event, but the family reports that it was actually quite nice. They had access to excellent parking and wine with dinner. Two essential components for a successful dining experience. And the children had a great time as the characters floated around the room and posed for photos with them. Jakers seemed to adore Minnie, but they weren't sure.

My trip began the next day as we had Breakfast with the Princesses in Cinderella's Castle. Upon arrival, all the little guests lined up to have their picture made with the royal. I was very impressed with how perfectly cast our Cinderella was. She looked just like the character in the cartoon; hair, figure, dress, voice and all. As our turn came and we reverently approached the throne area, Sydney was thrilled, Cole was amicable and Jakers frowned. He, being all boy, wanted no part of a bunch of stupid girls ready to smother him with smooches and hugs.

After our audience with Cinderella, we twirled up the turret stairs landing in the big banquet room of the castle. Tables were pre-set and the service was most efficient. The breakfast, well, not so much. Scrambled eggs, bacon, French toast, fruit and chocolate milk. Yummy. But then again, the food was not the point. Really? I asked myself? No, I reminded myself.

What followed was an hour long stroll around the dining guests by the celebrity princesses, complete with paparazzi and opportunities for autograph seekers.

After a successful breakfast we traipsed through the bowels of the seven "lands" of the Magic Kingdom, sweating in the heat like stuck piglets. We rode flying elephants, magic carpets, pirate ships, mining trains, riverboats, rafts and space ships. We toured haunted houses, tree houses, tiki lounges, and adventure islands. But when all the "lands" had been conquered, I found my favorite joy-ride was battling the aliens with Buzz Light Year. Jakers wanted no part of any of it.

At the end of the day, and after 500 Disney Cast Members had wished me a Happy Birthday, exhausted, starving, we stumble into the Crystal Palace and the opportunity to dine from a "European style" buffet. What is a "European style buffet"? I mean, do prime rib, rotisserie chicken and Atlantic salmon sound "European"? Or was it the fried chicken nuggets, macaroni n' cheese, PBJ sandwiches and pizza served in "Pooh Corner" that qualify?

Regardless of the mundane offerings, the hit of the meal was the soft-serve orange sherbet. The kind of sherbet that takes you back to being a kid and the original, pre-emulsifier orange push-up kind of sherbet. It was devoured by all as we reached our journey's end with yet another Disney character dinner: The world of Winnie the Pooh, complete with Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore. Jakers was finally thrilled.

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2010Tori HannaB