Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Breakfast with JoJo and Dinner with Remy

Thursday, April 30

We were up and at 'em early again today! We had 8:30 a.m. ADRs for Play 'n Dine at Hollywood & Vine (or as I like to call it...Breakfast with JoJo). The first time we did this breakfast in 2007, the place was PACKED - every table was full. This time, it was empty - which seems odd to me, considering the popularity of character meals at WDW. More than half of the tables were empty -- even when we left at 9:30 it had yet to fill up. The cast of characters includes JoJo & Goliath and Leo & June from Little Einsteins -- and the breakfast itself is a buffet. JoJo is no longer on Playhouse Disney - so perhaps that is one reason why the crowd was so small. I'd be interested in hearing about any other experiences people had at Hollywood & Vine.

After breakfast we grabbed a FastPass for Toy Story Midway Mania -- which I recommend for anyone who wants to ride this particular ride. The stand-by line was more than an hour wait. [I really recommend taking advantage of the FastPasses -- you can avoid waiting in line for too long and can instead enjoy more of the parks and then head back to the ride at your FastPass time]. With our FastPasses in hand, we headed back to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show.

For anyone who loves the story of Ariel and Prince Eric, this show is a must. I like to call it a "Cliff's Notes" version of The Little Mermaid - the whole story takes about 17 minutes to tell - with brief scenes from the movie shown between the live performances. [Note: you get sprayed with a gentle mist and light breeze during the show...it all lends to the magic of the show].

After Ariel, we headed back down Mickey Avenue to the "Journey into Narnia" attraction. Earlier in the week, Olivia and I had tried to meet Prince Caspian but the attraction had closed for the evening and the Prince had headed home to Narnia. So, I had promised Olivia that we would meet him today! [And yes, this was all Olivia...a few months ago she came home from preschool insisting that we watch 'The Chronicles of Narnia' and then 'The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian'. When she found out that the Prince would be at the Studios...meeting him became a mission!]

We arrived at Journey into Narnia right at 10 a.m. -- the scheduled time that Prince Caspain was supposed to be there. But he wasn't. A cast member told us that he'd be there in about 30 or 40 minutes. Around this time, cast member Shawn (from South Carolina) walked over to us and told us that Prince Caspian was having travel issues from Narnia but was doing his best to get there in time. We decided to hang out and wait - Olivia was NOT going to miss Caspian.

So, we took a seat on a bench in the shade and waited. And waited. And waited. Cast Member Shawn checked in with us every now and again, letting us know that Caspian was still trying to get to the Studios from Narnia. At one point he told Olivia that Caspian knew she was waiting to meet him (I loved that!). Then our friendly cast member left ... only to return a few minutes later with a box of popcorn for Olivia (her treat for waiting so patiently, he said -- Disney magic at it's best!).

Finally....Prince Caspian arrived! We were escorted to the front of the 'meet and greet' line and then the real magic happened. Olivia walked into the forest 'meet and greet' area and there stood Prince Caspian! He kneeled down and told "Princess Olivia" that he had been waiting to meet her and how happy he was that she had waited to see him. Needless to say, Olivia was over the moon with this royal treatment! [And it brought tears to her mommy's eyes...I will admit!]. We took some photos and Olivia had Caspian sign her autograph book and that was how Olivia met Prince Caspian!

From a prince we decided to vistit a princess...and headed over to the Beauty and the Beast show. This is a great, great show! I think I might like it better than Voyage of the Little Mermaid. It is another shortened version of a Disney movie...but the performance is great. And then, it was time to ride Toy Story Midway Mania.

Oh my gosh. What a fun ride! Walking into the ride you're surrounded by GIANT versions of childhood games (which is so cool). Riders grab 3-D glasses and board their ride vehicles and are instantly transported into a world of arcade games where you aim at the boards with your own 'shooters'. I think I ended up with a score of close to 115,000 and Olivia scored about 82,000 (not bad for a 5 year old!). This ride was so much fun! Get that FastPass and get on it!

After grabbing lunch and riding The Great Movie Ride one more time...we headed back to the resort to regroup and rest.

Later that evening, we had dinner reservations at Chefs de France. If you are headed to Epcot, you should eat at Chefs de France and look for Remy, the star rat from Ratatouille who appears four times a day to entertain guests. The food was wonderful (onion soup, beef short ribs and creme brulee for dessert)...but seeing Remy under the dome of the silver tray was the BEST part of the meal! He is adorable and really interacts with guests. Just a little more Disney magic at work!

Overall thoughts:
- Disney cast members really do go out of their way to create the magic
- I am left wondering if the low crowds at Play 'n Dine were just a fluke or if it's not a popular character meal anymore

- Make sure you see Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast at the Studios
- Yes, kids CAN eat in France -- Chefs de France is family-friendly

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