When we checked into our one-bedroom villa at Disney’s Old Key West Resort, I was reminded how much I enjoy the spacious accommodations. After 7 nights in 4 locations, it felt great to completely unpack the suitcases and be able to stay in one place for a week. Grocery shopping, golf (Bill) and a pedicure in Celebration (Jan) pretty much rounded-out that first day and it was nice to just make dinner and relax in our own villa.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays, they offer an hour-long tour of the Old Key West resort. We questioned whether we should delay going to the parks but were very glad we stayed back to take the tour. Of course, we are aware that Disney Imagineers and designers tell a story with everything they create and that includes the resorts. Conch Flats, the fictional location of Disney’s Old Key West Resort, uses real life people and places to inspire the design and tell the story. Ernest Hemingway and Henry Flagler play prominently into the property. Taking this tour reminded me once again of how I would like to create an architectural and design trip to Walt Disney World.
After the tour we headed over to Epcot, mostly to check out opening day of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. I have both positive and negative feelings about this year’s festival. The first disappointment was discovering that there is no Festival Center this year. That means no free and low-cost seminars and demonstrations. No wonder I couldn’t find any schedules of them, as I’d been checking daily for weeks. It also saddens me that the Garden Rocks concerts are only on the weekends now, as opposed to every night. On the bright side, the gardens are absolutely beautiful and both new and perennial favorite topiaries grace the entire park. The other positive is the variety of food offerings at the 15 “outdoor kitchens” featuring some delectable dishes. We tried the Pear Cider-brined Shredded Corned Beef from the Cider House (United Kingdom), Braised Duck Confit with Parisian Gnocchi at Fleur de Lys (France) and Teriyaki Salmon with Furikake-seasoned Brown Rice from Hanami (Japan). We enjoyed them all, but if I had to choose a favorite I think it would be the corned beef.
We headed to Disney Springs for dinner to try The Polite Pig for our first time. You order at the counter and they bring it to your table. We loved the smoked offerings and the ability to choose your spice level (no spice for me and some spice for hubby) by requesting that some of the fixings be served on the side. They also offer several nice beer choices on tap along with a bourbon bar, and specialty cocktails.
Our goal for the evening was to get over to Magic Kingdom to see “Happily Ever After,” the nighttime fireworks spectacular that replaced "Wishes" last year. While the story line was not as prominent, the projections on the castle were pretty amazing. Did the projections deter from the fireworks themselves? Mixed opinions on that. I liked it, but you really do need to get a good view of the castle to fully enjoy it. The other thing we wanted to do at MK was to see the new Hall of Presidents. Well done, although it’s sad that they feel the need to have security guards inside the attraction now – I don’t remember them having to do that in the past.
All in all, a great first day.