Day 9, Part 2: Anniversary IllumiNations Party!

After the bridal showcase, we dashed back to our room to freshen up and then headed out to Old Key West for our first-ever boat ride to Downtown Disney, something Patrick had been wanting to try for ages cuz he’s so curious about the Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs.

I love all the leftover reminders that Old Key West used to be THE Disney Vacation Club Resort—like, there weren’t any others and there never would be. Who knew that one day that would be all Disney built?

Don’t even THINK about racing this girl in a ferry. She will SMOKE you!

 

We had a pleasant-enough trip, but I think maybe we should have taken the ferry from Port Orleans to Downtown Disney instead for a better view of the Treehouse Villas. Patrick was bummed that this was all we could see.

The back side of Downtown Disney

 

 

We pretty much never go to this part of Downtown Disney, and we didn’t that day either. Instead we just stayed on the boat (which earned us the stink-eye from our crusty skipper, for some reason) and rode back to Old Key West.

I’ve never had any interest in staying in the boonies of Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, but it looks downright idyllic from the water.

“Pssst! Hey, buddy! Wanna know Disney’s best-kept secret?”

 

Oooh! More treehouse!

 

I dunno… maybe it was foolish to waste a couple hours of a three-day trip floating to Downtown Disney and back, but at least we were knocking another thing off the list of Things I Never Let Patrick Do!

OK, so when we got back to the hotel, we got all dolled up for our anniversary party in Epcot. Ever since I’d learned you can do events at the tiny Italy Overlook, I’d been desperate for an excuse to hold one there. Why not re-celebrate our anniversary while we were at WDW? The catch is, you can’t have food there cuz they think there’s no room to set it up (I disagree—surely one guy and a TV tray would fit on the wrap-around part of the balcony!). On the other hand, this makes it THE cheapest private viewing area for IllumiNations—all you pay is the $150 venue fee. … On the third hand, $150 is kind of a lot to pay to stand around watching a show everyone else is seeing for free… Hmmmm….

ANYWAY, to round out the evening, I added a reservation at the brand-new Monsieur Paul (née Bistro de Paris) and town car service to and from Epcot—just to make it seem more like an event and less like we were paying one hundred and fifty clams to stand around watching a show everyone else was seeing for free… Plus, we got to ride around backstage!

We met the town car down at the Contemporary’s valet stand and were whisked backstage at Epcot to the France gate. Our event guide met us and escorted us to the restaurant, then took a powder while we had dinner. Patrick was good and didn’t sneak any shots backstage, so the first thing you get to see is this:

I wasn’t sure I’d like the new decor at Monsieur Paul, just cuz I kinda like how late-’70s/early-’80s the restaurant used to feel. It was practically like stepping back in time. But they used a very light hand in the makeover.

 

We’ve watched IllumiNations from our table at this restaurant before, and it’s a neat perspective. But we were excited to have a new viewing spot to look forward to that night.

Our server was super-gregarious—like, way friendlier than even LA servers, and that’s the town where they’ll practically sit in your lap while taking your order! Maybe he was trying to single-handedly obliterate the stereotype of French rudeness?

Two tiny cheese puffs as an amuse bouche…

 

Patrick had never had escargot before, so we started with the ravioli.

Raviole d’escargots, creme au persil – Escargot raviole, cream of parsley

 

It was nice! You could barely tell it had escargot in it, but depending on where you stand on the whole snails-in-your-food thing, that might be a bonus! For our main course, we split the filet with mushroom crust and mashed potatoes. I think even if you’re not a mushroom fan you’d like this, cuz they’re so finely minced that the topping is more “crust” than mushroom.

Filet de boeuf grille forestier, puree de pomme de terre, sauce Bordelaise – Grilled beef tenderloin with mushroom crust, mashed potatoes, Bordelaise sauce

 

The mashed potatoes came in a bowl on the side and were practically like soup, but they sure tasted good!

We decided to pass on $13 dessert cuz we still had cake back in the room, but here’s the menu for you:

They also brought us this cute little basically empty plate to celebrate our anniversary.

Happy 5th birthday to our marriage!


After dinner, we made our own way to Italy Overlook. Our guide was waiting to open the gate for us and let us climb the stairs.

It’s a pretty neat view even without the fireworks! Great for people watching, although a bunch of them watched us right back, pointing and staring. Our guide hung out next to the streetlight most of the time, but occasionally he wandered off. At one point, some official-looking person bustled over and made like she was going to climb the stairs to tell us to get down, but then our event guide reappeared and set her straight. I asked him about it later, and he said she’d wanted to use the spot for “guest recovery” (i.e., to placate some angry guests with a nifty fireworks viewing spot. Guess I know how to get up there for free next time!)

See, you could TOTALLY fit a dessert table back here …Or at least a peanut vendor!

 

I’d considered bringing our cake up there in a Tupperware, or maybe getting gelato on the way over, and I still think that would be the way to make Italy Overlook the perfect anniversary spot. But in the end, we just stood around taking photos til the show started.

We weren’t the only ones having a party in Italy that night

 

Oh my gosh, that tree’s on FIRE!!! Oh, wait…

 

 

And then fireworks happened! By the looks of it, I wasn’t quite ready with the camera when they started, hopefully because Patrick was distracting me with anniversary smooches!

That’s Wishes going off at the Magic Kingdom—Italy Overlook is a great spot for seeing both shows simultaneously!

 

Wishes in the background again!

 

 

I feel like my silhouette should be playing the saxophone in this shot…

 

I gotta, say, man… I know I’m always on about being as close to the water as possible for IllumiNations, but I loved the perspective we got on the show from up that high. I think that if you are a hobby photographer, it would be worth the venue fee just for the amazing shots you can get from up there.

We stayed up there as long as we could, and our event guide didn’t rush us. But eventually we knew we had to go down and meet our town car, which picked us up behind American Adventure. Then it was back home to polish off our cake, watch the Electrical Water Pageant, and take six bazillion of Patricia LeJeune’s bobby pins outta my hair.

Up Next: Last Day at Disney!

21 Responses
  • Elizabeth
    July 29, 2013

    How many people are “allowed” in that spot for that fee?

    • Carrie
      July 29, 2013

      They made it sound like they think it can hold 10 people—maybe if some are on the stairs? I’d say no more than 5.

      • Elizabeth
        July 29, 2013

        Cool. Might have to do that one of these days!

  • Laura E
    July 29, 2013

    Too bad you should have taken the boat from Port Orleans, you can see so much more of the Tree House villas and many times the boat driver will give you some history about the tree houses as you are cruising past. But I will not tell Patrick, so you can say you’ve done it and be happy.

    • Carrie
      July 29, 2013

      LOL! At first I thought you were going to say, “… and many times the boat driver will stop and let you out to poke around the tree houses”! 😀 I will have to let Patrick have a do-over on that one, because that trip sounds way better!

  • Bev
    July 29, 2013

    When did they start writing Siemens on Space Ship Earth??

    • Carrie
      July 29, 2013

      Good question! I feel like I’ve seen it the last few times we were there. Maybe they included it as part of their sponsorship renewal?

      • Vikki Bradly
        January 4, 2014

        I have a feeling it was added half way through my CRP program – so sometime in 2011.

  • Michelle
    July 29, 2013

    Great, now I have to convince the hubby to spend $150 buck just to stand on some dumb balcony…thanks a lot, Carrie!! J/K OMG I must take pictures from up there!!!!

    • Carrie
      July 29, 2013

      Tee hee! Totally worth it!

  • Claire/Chilly
    July 30, 2013

    “guest recovery” great euphemism. $150 is pretty steep, you’d think they could throw in a drink or something.

    • Carrie
      July 30, 2013

      Yeah, they should at least allow you to BYOB!

  • Jordan
    July 30, 2013

    I was actually wondering if you were going to pull some cake out of your purse. 🙂

    • Carrie
      July 30, 2013

      Tee-hee! I was totally off my game that night….

  • Hope
    July 30, 2013

    I didn’t realize Bistro de Paris was no longer Bistro de Paris. I’m all about the mushroom crusted filet, but I think I’d pass on the escargot (or at least ask for the escargot ravioli without the escargot.) 😀

    Does the $150 site fee also include the town car or was that extra? (I’m guessing it was included because how else are you going to be backstage, but with Disney you never know!)

    • Carrie
      July 30, 2013

      No snails for you, eh? Yeah, the town car was extra. I just didn’t want to have to park and walk and WALK and walk in our fancy duds to our special dinner. So it was worth the 60 bucks to go pretty much straight to and from dinner by being dropped off backstage.

  • Katelyn B
    August 2, 2013

    So, would you still go through DCE for one of these, despite it’s blatant lack of catering? And how do you add the town car? This sounds like the perfect anniversary/birthday/graduation celebration for us when we finally get out to Florida!

    • Carrie
      August 2, 2013

      Well, I don’t know if I’d do Italy Overlook again, on account of that blatant lack of catering. I’d probably do a place where we could have food, like Japan or (my favorite) UK Pubside. Your planner can add the town car for you.

      • Katelyn B
        August 2, 2013

        Awesome, thanks for the info! I really love the idea of UK Pubside.
        Also, it’s been all afternoon and I’m still pondering their “Happy 5th Birthday” … umm… “Celebration Plate?” What a charmingly strange gesture.

  • Sarah Thurman
    August 26, 2014

    HAHAHA! I’m loving that there are tons of food pics but none of you and P all dolled up. I always thought you were joking on the podcast about your true priorities! 😉

    • Carrie
      August 26, 2014

      BELIEVE it, sister!!!

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