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