After a very early start from the Manchester, NH airport, we landed in Orlando before 10 a.m., boarded Disney's Magical Express bus and were all checked in at the Saratoga Springs Resort by 10:45. Our room wasn't ready yet, so we walked over to the Buena Vista Palace to pick up our rental car. While waiting to complete that transaction, I got a text from the resort with our room number, so we went back to see what we got. All our requests were met: Congress Park, top floor, Downtown Disney view. We're in a studio villa - renting points from a Disney Vacation Club member. Thanks Darlene! Our building is actually the one closest to Downtown Disney. It's secluded and quiet and the view of the lagoon and Downtown Disney is beautiful. A perfect location for us!
We made it to Epcot just around noontime, so after riding Spaceship Earth and stopping by the Food & Wine Festival Center in the former Wonders of Life pavilion to pick up a gift card, we had our first samples of Festival food at the Canada and Ireland kiosks. We've never been here for the Festival before and it's really fun. You use your gift card to pay for food at the various kiosks – much more efficient than using your Key to the World or credit card since you don’t have to sign the receipts. Rick had the Canadian cheddar cheese soup and I got maple-glazed salmon with a lentil salad. Delish! I had a St. David's Bench merlot and Rick had Moosehead ale. At the Ireland kiosk, I got the Bunratty Meade Honey Wine and lobster and scallop fisherman's pie. After that we strolled the rest of the way around the World Showcase checking out the offerings at the other kiosks. We stopped at the Germany pavilion and got a soft pretzel that we enjoyed with their Altenmunster Oktoberfest ale. Being the next-to-the-last Sunday of the festival, the park was pretty busy.
Since we'd been up since 2:30 this morning, we were starting to fade, so we went back to our room for a nap before returning to Epcot for our late dinner reservation at the new Mexican restaurant, La Hacienda de San Angel. I had timed this to coincide with the IllumiNations fireworks. The location was nice - we were really close to the globe and could see the images more clearly than ever, but I thought that watching the show at an angle through the windows diminished the impact of the fireworks. I'd much rather watch IllumiNations from outside where you can get the full effect. We shared the queso fundido appetizer (melted cheese with poblano peppers, chorizo and flour tortillas), which was very good. For our entre, we shared the flank steak with spring onions, tamal, and cactus leaves. This came with black beans and Spanish rice. Rick really liked it – I thought it was just okay. We also each had a Tecate, one of the house beers - just awful! I think we were just too tired - and I was still a little too full from the afternoon's samplings - to really appreciate this restaurant fully, but I doubt we’d go there again – certainly not for IllumiNations anyway.
All the photos from this trip are here on Flickr.