Oct 24 - Downtown Disney


Monday October 24


Mum and I were very much looking forward to our shopping day at Downtown Disney, and we also planned to go to Disney Quest for Stitch's amusement. And maybe a little bit for me. Since Ursula can't stand loud noises, electronic music or bratty 13 year old kids, It was truly a labor of love for her to be willing to go with us.


We had reservations at T Rex for an early lunch, so we slept in a little but were all probably up and at em by 9am. We made good use of the coffeemaker in the room and squirreled away the extra coffee for future use. We had breakfasty items in the room (we'd been toting along with us) that we might have munched on, but nobody wanted to eat too much before lunch. Our room snacks always seem a like a good idea but in reality only about 1/3 of what we buy actually gets eaten.



Our mansion, I think it was Magnolia Terrace, but might have been Acadian House



Lovely gazebo on the bank of the Sassagoula River



Stitch evidently had some cereal for breakfast on the go. 



View from the middle of the bridge



The pool



The red-roof is the main lobby building, with the sweet marina right outside



Oft-photographed large paddlewheel



Taken from the marina, that is the bridge we just crossed and the little friendship boat coming to take us to DD 


We got to the dock right as a boat was pulling up after a pleasant little stroll over the bridge at POR. We really did have the best location for easy access to the main building and dock. Nice work, CMs!



Happily aboard the boat

One really cool thing about staying at Port Orleans (either side) is that you can take a boat right from the resorts to Downtown Disney. No struggling to find parking in the blazing hot sun, yay! It was about a 25 minute ride, but very pleasant. “Absolutely a beautiful ride. Some areas reminded me of the swamp scenes in The Rescuers, where all the little creatures live on the banks of the bayou,” Ursula remarked. I kept my eye out for gators but all we managed to see were birds. 


The mansions look very impressive from the river



Lookin' good!

 I'm not really sure quite why, chalk it up to the magic of Disney, but I always always get excited to see Characters in Flight, which is a stationary hot air balloon that goes up and down, giving riders a high-up view of the DD area. You have to pay a good amount to ride, and since Ursula is afraid of heights (much better suited to be lurking in her sea cave, she is) we didn't go on it. But it was fun to see anyway, and really thrilling when it was actually up in the air.


Fulton's Crab House, and Characters in Flight in the background

Once we docked we checked out the area a little bit, meandering slowly past the Rainforest Cafe to look at Goofy's Candy Company and a few other stores, like Ned Flander's Left Hander's Shop. (Not sure if it was actually Ned Flander's but to me any left-hander's merch shop is going to bring up The Simpsons). We wandered over to T Rex and got in line; the restaurant was just opening but they were checking people in already. We looked around and admired the deep sea bar area and gazed wistfully into the seating area with the dinos and wooly mammoths. We ended up being seated in the ice cave room, which is really neat because every so often the ice cave changes color and the animatronic animals move about a bit. I was able to get up and take a lot of pics in the empty areas before our food arrived. It wasn't too crowded yet and I was glad to be able to take pictures without bothering people who were trying to eat. Getting there right at opening was a great idea!













"Our" mammoth, in the color-changing ice cave











Kitchen of fire had blazing flames in front! Yowza!



Hideous animatronic baby mammoth. 



 We all got fun drinks (it was 11:30 by this time and we're on vacation after all) that I can't recall specifically but were very tasty. Stitch ordered something that looked good to her and was served in a giant bone-shaped souvenir glass, but it was just a garden variety slushy and she was underwhelmed. Drank the whole thing but wasn't enthusiastic about it, and she carried the stupid bone glass around for the rest of the day. Lunch was awesome, we shared some appetizers and also our meals, so we had like a sampler of all the different dishes that appealed to us-- I recall we were heavy on the shrimp selections! We were so stuffed after eating and having drinks, but couldn't pass up sharing a dish of house made doughnut holes with chocolate dipping sauce. Yum!


T Rex skeleton and huge citrine geode





We liked T Rex but didn't feel the need to buy anything there, though we did wander the gift shop a little. We are big fans of the Rainforest Cafe and this restaurant was basically the dinosaur version of that-- which makes sense as they are owned by the same company. Ursula noticed that even the placards on the table were the same.


After waddling out of the restaurant we headed right to World of Disney, stopping briefly at the Lego store. I think Stitch might have bought a keychain or something here, but the sets we saw were all available online and we didn't “need” anything there anyway. We looked at all the displays they have and took the requisite pictures of the Lego sculptures outside.


One thing that bugs me (maybe irrationally) about anything cool at Disney is how a line forms in front of whatever it is to take pictures of yourself or family standing there. You get in line, take your pictures, then get out of the way for other tourists. I am not sure why it rubs me the wrong way but it does-- something about not being able to really look at things, take you time to enjoy them (because you're getting in the way of someone's picture!) or being able to spontaneously snap a pic of someone by something cool. I hate the line and every family taking identical pictures-- this was the case with the statues outside WoD and the Lego sculptures and just about everything else. Get in line, take a pic and get out, thems the rules! I guess it's better than everyone pushing and shoving, or having pics of a mob scene in front of anything interesting. But still.









Hogwarts castle set









These tourists are taking pictures of the Maleficent sculpture








On to World of Disney! It was busy but not crazy yet, and the three of us split up to shop in peace, reuniting every so often to ask opinions and point out items of interest to each other. We probably spent a couple of hours in there! I found a dress-up Alice in Wonderland set with rubbery clothes and lots of cute tiny detailed accessories (they have a million princess sets but WoD was the first time I'd seen Alice in Wonderland-- must have!). I also went to the Mickey kitchen area and got a bunch of things for my house. I live in a small apartment so I wanted to limit my souvenirs to things that would actually be useful. I get a lot of use out of my Mickey utensils and don't regret a single purchase! I also got about 10 extra sets of bamboo spoons with Mickey engraved on them. They look nice, are good quality and come in a set of 3-- perfect for gift giving to my adult friends. I had gotten some coloring books at the Disney outlet store for my nanny kids, and was able to get a set of princess-shaped crayons at WoD to go with them. My gift list was pretty much taken care of, except for my pet sitters. 


Stitch gave her namesake a hug. 











Since we weren't switching resorts every couple days any more, I was free to be able to shop without worrying about lugging everything along to 4 different resorts. So I might have gone a little crazy at WoD. With my annual pass discount I saved a lot of money that day, and it was so nice to shop to my heart's content, then have it all sent back to our hotel at no extra charge. Ursula reminisced about when they used to deliver it right to your room, and I vaguely recall that too, from our visits in 1996 and 97. We'd come home from a day in the parks and our bags would be waiting for us. Baby/Toddler Stitch would be all over that stuff, too, and every day the growing pile of stuffed animals would be posed differently for our amusement, thanks to our great housekeeper. Fun times!


Stitch found a few items she liked, and Ursula got some gifts and souvenirs, too. I was so impressed by her willpower-- usually Ursula is a big shopper, but she had been remarkably restrained during this trip. But of course she found some great gifts for her work friends (Disney character pens) and a few things for herself as well. We all ogled the hard-shell Mickey suitcases but decided they were too expensive (even if they were beautiful and would stand out nicely on the baggage carousel). 


I love the details in the Villains room, which sadly lacked much Villain merch











After our shopping extravaganza we tried to catch a boat to the other end of DD near Disneyquest, then decided it would be quicker to walk. We circled all the stores we wanted to see on our map and headed over.to DQ. We shared an elevator up to the game floor with 3 pre-teenage kids, which is Mum's worst nightmare, realized about 15 seconds after entering the building. Ha!




The pop song

Mum immediately found a bench and sat with my purse and Stitch's bone cup while S and I ran around. It was pretty warm in there and Ursula complained “Quite boring for me as I absolutely detest games and was not interested in doing anything. It was also hot. They don't believe in cranking the AC at WDW.”


We looked around a little, and Stitch and I went into a sound booth and recorded a funny pop song together, which we laughed about mightily. We declined to buy a copy from the giftshop however, so it is lost in the Disney archives. Sure to be a hit one day, when it is unearthed.


We did the rollercoaster simulator ride, where you build your own coaster on a computer, then get In a claustrophobia simulator capsule and “ride” it. I was pretty nervous, knowing how sick Mission Space made me, but it ended up being all right. It was a short ride and Stitch loved it! Ursula said “I took a look at the barrel they put you in as a roller coaster simulator and decided I would not appreciate being strapped in that hellish thing.“


We tried to do the Aladdin magic carpet virtual reality game, next. It was interesting because the headgear is all strapped to the ceiling and dangles over the seat, which looks kind of like a motorcycle. I had almost talked Ursula into giving it a try when she saw the headgear and straps and said “No WAY!” Since I'd never done virtual reality (nor had either of them) I thought it would be a fun and unusual experience. But it immediately made me nauseous and Stitch admitted she was getting sick too, but was hanging in there for my sake. I bailed on her but she was trying to be nice and stick with it for me! Shows who is a good sister and who is not.


We went to the Cheshire Cat Cafe and sat at a tiny table in giant tea party chairs. Mum and Z shared a peanut butter cupcake (I'm not a huge PB fan so I just had a nibble of the frosting decoration thing) but Mum admitted it was “pretty dry.” We looked at the other floors, sharing the elevator with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Two over-age guys, one who was wearing a fanny pack around his chest and the other who had some other sort of problem. Both looking for a good time at DQ and perhaps not finding it? We rode up a floor and then down a couple of floors, as they were the elevator operators and couldn't get it quite right. I could not believe Ursula voluntarily got in the elevator with the two of them but she said something to the effect of “I had hoped it would be interesting, and it was.” 


Applying antibacterial handgel before eating. Ursula is dead inside after 45 minutes of game time.



I was sitting next to Stitch before I spied all sorts of gross stuff on the cloth part of the large chair. Ursula got a big laugh at my face as I inspected it.

We wandered a hall with many other arcade style video games, and Stitch played a couple. Then we all decided there was nothing else we wanted to do and bailed to do more shopping.


Ursula and I had really done it for Stitch's benefit, but it turns out even Stitch didn't think it was that great. When I asked her what she remembered she said “the peanut butter cupcake was okay. No one really enjoyed the visit.” We joked for many months about returning to Florida for New Year's Eve at DQ. The loudest, most obnoxious NYE event ever! 









 We looked around at a few non-Disney stores, but nothing really captured our interest. I found the clerks at a couple of the shops to be rude and catty, so that was an additional turn off. I enjoyed the decorated mosaic archway at the House of Blues, and was delighted to find a picture that said “Portland” on it! We sat down in a shaded area and circled all the places on the map we wanted to check out, most of which were at the opposite end of DD, and managed to make our way back over where we started via boat. We waited forever for that boat, we could have walked back and forth10 times in the time it took, but it was getting hot and we were tired, our feet a couple weeks worth of sore, blistered and tired, so we just waited. 







We went to Goofy's Candy Company and got a bunch of candy for ourselves and to give as gifts, only to find out they don't ship candy back to the resorts for you! Argh! We were not happy, as we still had a lot of shopping to do and our candy bags were very heavy. If we had known in advance we would have save Goofy's for our last stop of the evening.





Fake giant Mickey head treat


And here's a real giant Mickey head treat





Stitch got a Jack Skellington apple. The candy apples are cool but too expensive for me. 









We looked around at the Christmas store, and the pin store and a few other shops. Stitch bought me some Toy Story pins and Ursula humored us as we looked around for a while.


At the pin store



Note the avid pin collectors ignoring the cute statues and making a bee-line for the pins!



This was a really neat display idea. The pins are arranged behind a themed mat. Cool!

Stitch and I made a scene at Little Miss Matched when I was trying to match up all the spare socks they have in the big bins. Oops! I did get a few mismatched Alice in Wonderland socks. Even though I get the business model (sell mismatched socks in packs of 3, so it's fun and quirky) a part of me really likes having matched sets. So I am still to this day regretting not buying two sets of mismatched socks, which would leave me with 3 pairs of matching sets. Then I wouldn't need to feel embarrassed when meeting people for the first time wearing two different, crazy socks. Or having to explain to everyone about Little Miss Matched. If I was 4 it would be adorable, but I'm a grown woman, so it just comes across as nutty. But they are fun socks and I do wear them!


Little Miss Matched



Those are some of the socks I got, right in the front here


After we had a quick photo-session with Pooh we went to Earl of Sandwich for dinner and stood in a forever line. Popular place! We got the Thanksgiving sandwiches, which are turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce on a crusty, tender ciabatta roll. They also had broccoli cheese soup and earl grey iced tea, both of which made me very happy. For some reason they didn't charge us for the soups, even though we asked the cashier several times if the price was correct. Disney magic or carelessness? We were happy to be on the winning end of the stick, anyway. I love the Thanskgiving sandwich. Turkey is one of my rare non-seafood indulgences, which I happy made for this sandwich. I had one when I was 15 in a mall food court, never forgot how good it was, and have been making them for myself whenever I get a chance ever since. Earl of Sandwich is a big winner for our family! We sat outside in the twilight, which was nice as it had cooled off to a comfortable temperature. It was also quieter than inside the restaurant, but there was this annoying repetitive beeping sound that was driving me nuts. It sounded like the back up beep on a garbage truck.

Once we finished our meal we headed over to the toy store, and found the source of the beeping-- a toy dump truck on the building’s facade was responsible! That was a good laugh! I was so annoyed at the garbage truck noise but once I realized it was a feature of the building it wasn't as annoying. I really wanted to get another Potatohead with the fun Disney accessories, but Mum reminded me that I already have one from our 2005 Disneyland trip and nobody ever plays with it. I argues that was because I kept it at home in a boz instead of bringing it to work with me but her point was made. I love Potatoheads but they rarely get played with and I already have one anyway. We left without buying anything, believe it or not (we are, or at least have been in the past, avid toy collectors).



Chandeliers at Tren-D



Neat decoupaged mannequin



Next we went to Trend-D, where they have lots of “couture” Disney stuff-- shirts, jewelry, funky bags and THE PURSE! The same Harvey's Seatbeltbag purses! They had a display behind glass of a bunch of different bags like the one I'd been admiring and thinking about in the Grand Floridian's gift shop! I went and asked the first CM I saw if I could look at the bags, and she obliged. I didn't realize until later that she was a manager type and I should have asked a clerk type. But she helped me anyway, though I got the vibe that she didn't really want to. I had asked her pointedly --mostly because she was the first person I saw not actively doing something (it was busy)-- and also because she was queer. I like to visit with other queer ladies if at all possible, so when a nice looking butch catches my eye you can bet I'm going to try to initiate conversation, especially if I really need some help. Though the very last thing any butch really wants is to be engage in a 20 minute conversation about purses. So, sorry about that!



At any rate, after much hemming and hawing I decided to just get the Minnie wallet/clutch instead of the giant cross-body bag. I wasn't sure it would match my red wool coat at home and the big bag was really spendy. Nothing like clashing reds to destroy a look! The wallet was nicely discounted with my AP, and would serve as a great memento of the trip. 

The end of this story is unrelated to my trip report, but I'll tell you anyway because I am so in love with this line. I loved the first bag I saw so much, it was smallish but really cute, though small enough to be impractical. The big bag was really too big. They also had one with ruffles that Ursula really liked but I wasn't as into. Then I went online and found a medium sized bag in the same style that I really adored. Many months later I finally bought one for myself and I still love it just as much to this day-- it's the perfect size and I love having a matching purse and wallet. I raved about mine so much that Ursula went online and got herself a Steamboat Mickey Seatbeltbag. They are very hardy and high quality. If you like the design, they are really great!


The wallet was my last purchase of the day. We sat down to rest and got treats from a nearby foodbooth, and I spent my time transferring the junk from my beat up coin purse/card holder into my fancy dancy new wallet, and then admired it from every angle. I was in love!

We did one last photoshoot in the snow "for our Christmas cards." 




Then we checked out the kitchen store but they didn't ahve anything we hadn't already seen before. The had some cute window displays thought!






We were pretty beat by this time and  soon went down to the dock to take the boat back to POR. It was a nice ride, though a little buggy. “Trip less interesting in the dark, but so relaxing compared to car or bus,” said Ursula. I agreed, because I would have been driving, and it was nice to be ferried around for a change. Stitch was doing her nightly reading assignment via an iphone e-reader, and I was playing Angry Birds on my phone. A little boy behind me got really excited and said, “She's playing the game with the mad birds, mommy!” I turned around and told him Angry Birds was my favorite, and we had a short conversation about how fun it was.


Once we got back to the room Ursula and I changed into our suits. Stitch had arbitrarily decided that she would be unable to swim and spent some time doing homework.


We started off in the hottub, but quickly left when we realized that a really loud drunk woman and two loud, drunk guys were talking politics, and not ones we agree with. It was pretty rude, actually. Ursula said, “I had to leave when they started spouting birther theories and maligning gay marriage. I noticed everyone else left also, but these 3 idiots blathered on. I was so temped to say something, but decided not to sink to their level. Besides, there's no point in trying to reason with a drunk.”

We got out and stepped into the main pool, swimming around and talking about our favorite TV shows. It was cool and refreshing. It would have been nice to soak in the hot tub too but we didn't want to get anywhere near the idiots again, and they didn't leave to go back to their rooms as we had hoped.


Aside from the unwelcome “company” it had been a very nice day! Downtown Disney was a break from the parks but wasn't necessarily more restful, as shopping is hard work!


Tomorrow we head back to the parks to visit Animal Kingdom!