Packed and bubbling with excitement Joe and I made our way to Lake Buena Vista. For those that do not know Disney World is actually located outside of Orlando in Lake Buena Vista, Fl. To make it simple I’ll just refer the place as Orlando.
We arrived a little early, and our room wasn’t ready. While we waited to check in we decided to do some exploring. The hotel was HUGE. Since I started my new work at home job, I get lots of perks in the hotel/travel industry including a discounted stay at this hotel. If I give you the name of the hotel it will give away who I work for, and I think it’s best to keep work and play seperated. The hotel was located in the Disney resort so I’ll just refer to it as Hotel Disney.
I’ve never been to a hotel as grand as Hotel Disney. There was a fountain out front, a ballroom, Disney store, and several restaurants along the perimeter of the building and the biggest plus, a huge pool. Hotel Disney offered valet services but wanting to be fit and stay healthy, I’d rather walk and carry my luggage. No need to pay for someone to park my car when we can do it ourselves.
While we played around waiting for our room the hotel held our luggage and the bell hop brought it up to our room once we got settled in. I felt like some glamorous woman from the 40’s having all of her hat and cosmetic boxes brought up to me. It was actually quite funny because Joe and I never had someone bring up our luggage. We don’t stay in roach motels but we’ve never been to a place that has valet and bell hops. Most of the hotels we stay at are places like the Radisson, Fairfield Inn and Suites, Hilton Garden Inn and Holiday Inn.
Anyway, he’s looks at me and says do you have any cash on you? I was quite confused and asked why. He said we need to tip the bell hop. UHHH oh… never thought of that. Breathlessly Joe ran out of the room looking for an ATM. Off course our luck the bell hop comes knocking on the door with our stuff before Joe get’s back. On our way out heading to Downtown Disney, we stopped at the bell hop station and gave Carlos his tip.
Having the rest of the afternoon to play, Joe and I went to Downtown Disney, which was only a few blocks down the road. This play is huge and there is lots to do to kill some time. Downtown Disney is made up touristy shops full of Disney souvenirs (ya know in case you forgot to buy Aunt Helen that coffee mug at the Magic Kingdom).
Here’s Joe goofing around in one those shops. He’s got Chewbacca on his back.
Fear not, that’s not all- being known as not just the place to shop and dine, it also is known as an entertainment district. Cirque Du Soleil has a showing every evening called La Nouba. If an over priced show isn’t your thing, you can always catch a movie or watch a band play. BTW, a few years ago Joe surprised me and took me to see Cirque Du Soleil’s La Nouba. It’s entertaining, funny and keeps you on your toes. Trust me you won’t fall asleep. Anway, if your ever in town check out the website for Downtown Disney for a calendar of special events. This weekend is Car Masters Weekend. The characters from Pixar’s Cars will be there, as well as muscle and vintage rides, and lots of fun activities.
It was a Thursday afternoon and a bit cloudy outside which meant Downtown Disney wasn’t too crowded. Joe and I had fun playing in this soap shop. They had tons of salt/sugar scrubs, bath bombs and soaps. I swear our noses where on fire from smelling all the different scents- cucumber, sea, tangerine, chocolate….you name it we smelt it.
Our next stop was the HUMONGOUS Lego Store. They had this amazing statue of a fire breathing dragon battling a warrior and his horse that was made up entirely of Legos. How cool is that?
If you have little kids, especially little boys, don’t ever take them in there. I guarantee you’ll be walking out of the shop with a Lego set in tow. If you need a certain type of Lego piece or a set, they’ve got it. Outside they’ve got several stations set up where you can build things with the legos. Joe and I decided to construct our dream house.
Though we didn’t eat here, I told Joe to take my picture in front of the Tropical Forest Cafe. From what I’ve heard and seeing the long line of people with my own eyes, this place is pretty popular, especially among the kiddies. In fact I believe reservations are recommended. Inside is a tropical jungle ambience with lots of animated creatures moving about. Though I’ve never seen it the ceiling roars like the sound of thunder and a “rainstorm” occurs. Don’t worry, the website says you won’t get wet.
Downtown Disney has several other “themed” restaurants including Planet Hollywood and the House of Blues. Here is a New Orléans riverboat themed restaurant.
UNO’S Chicago Grill
The clouds become blacker in the sky above and Joe, foreseeing a real thunderstorm in the very near future, suggested we head out and get some dinner. It’s a tradition between us that we always have our first meal on our Orlando vacations to be at a restaurant called Uno Chicago. We love that place and their pizza is the best I’ve ever had. When we started dating, we took a day trip together to Orlando to see Ripley’s Believe or Not museum on International Drive. Hungry after spending a few hours in the museum we saw Uno’s across the street and decided to check it out. We were hooked like a fish on a rod and reel. Uno’s doesn’t exist in Tampa, so having a meal there is always a treat when we come to Orlando. We always get the same thing personal pan pizza every time. Me- chicken, peppers, and onions. Him-the “works” which has everything on it- sausage, pepperoni, mushroom, peppers and onion.
What a great day we had!