All day I’d been sending and receiving scores of emails and text messages as I coordinated the surprise with Tess and the Roots. Patrick finally said something about it when we got back to the room, and I told him they were “anniversary congratulations from well-wishers” – which wasn’t far from the truth, because I also got a ton of sweet emails and texts about our anniversary from friends and family, including some readers of this report. So, thank you for thinking of us!
We spent an hour or so napping and then started getting dressed up for dinner. The plan was to meet our event guide in the Beach Club lobby at 7:15pm and be escorted to UK Pubside (now the Rose & Crown). Then we’d eat dinner from 7:30pm to 9pm, when IllumiNations started. At 7:12pm the guide called our room from the lobby to say she was there – a nice gesture, but it might’ve blown the surprise for someone a tad more aware than Patrick… (I’d actually asked Tess to put the surprise in the BEO for the party, so our guide didn’t say anything about it when we met.) When I was sufficiently tarted up, we walked down to the Beach Club lobby and met our event guide, Rosie.
I’d brought a sleeveless wrap-front dress to wear, thinking the weather would be as balmy as it was during our wedding and honeymoon. At the last minute, I’d considered bringing along a dressy coat but didn’t want to squeeze it in my luggage, so I bought a turquoise fake pashmina, thinking that would be enough warmth and look cute. Uh, whoops!
When I found out our dinner was being moved inside due to the cold, I frantically texted Jensey and asked to borrow a coat. What a pal – she said she’d bring two. However, I had to make it from the Beach Club to Rose & Crown in 29-degree weather wearing a sleeveless dress, flimsy pashmina, bare legs and open-toed shoes!
As we stepped out the Beach Club lobby’s back entrance, a woman passing by sized me up and said, “Oh, honey – where’s your coat?!”
The walk wasn’t too bad – I was pretty excited, so that brought my temperature up a bit. We asked Rosie what it was like being an event guide and found out she has a day job as a teacher, and then she stays out til all hours escorting gadflies like us around Epcot. (Bless her heart—she stayed at UK Pubside in the cold until we left that night, which I think was around 10:30!)
Rosie took us to the patio check-in desk for Rose & Crown and then went in to find the manager. I felt kinda self-conscious standing there all dressed up and shivering among the throngs of sensibly dressed tourists. I think there might have been some kind of miscommunication – Rosie did a lot of murmuring into her official-looking earpiece – but eventually we were escorted to our table on the Rose & Crown’s enclosed, heated patio.
Patrick still didn’t really know what was going on, cuz it wasn’t like we’d walked into UK Pubside with a private table all set up by the fireworks, so he was more confused than anything else…. until the Roots appeared, and then I got the reaction I was hoping for. He was SO excited to see them!
It was very exciting – Nathan & Jensey were darting around taking pictures, our planner appeared and reintroduced herself to Patrick with her true identity, and the restaurant manager, our server, an Epcot lead, and some other guy were all there to introduce themselves and wish us a happy anniversary! Plus everyone at the tables around us was trying to figure out why there was so much hubbub over two such inappropriately dressed persons as ourselves. (One woman goes, “My husband would NEVER do anything like that for me!”)
There was confetti on our table and there were two personalized Rose & Crown menus for us….
And, of course, the cake. Which looked AMAZING! It was exactly as I’d requested, and the fact that the color was dead-on (after the disappointment with our wedding cake colors) was, uh, the icing on the cake (ba-da-bing!). This time I’d requested the hot pink color with the decorations from the orange top layer of our cake, plus the S-shaped “handles.” I thought Patrick would raise an eyebrow if I brought our cake topper back to WDW with us, so I’d asked the pastry chef to create something appropriate out of fondant, and boy oh boy, did the he or she deliver!
Just to refresh your memory, this is what our wedding cake looked like:
I couldn’t have been happier with our anniversary cake. In fact, the more I think about it, the more impressed I am by the little embellishments they added this time, which you’ll be able to see better in the “morning after” pix I took in the daylight. There were the handles, of course, and intricate scallops, the teardrop shapes, and tiny gold dots stenciled on the top. And then there was the topper, which was made entirely out of gold-dusted fondant and took who knows how long to create. It fit the design perfectly!
Inside, the cake was chocolate with peanut butter cup mousse, and there was chocolate frosting under the fondant. I didn’t know you could do that until I saw a birthday cake on the DIS cake porn thread. Apparently they discourage it for wedding cakes cuz fondant is slightly translucent, but when you’re dealing with hot-pink fondant, I don’t think having chocolate underneath is a problem.
After our coterie of paid well-wishers departed and we’d sent Nathan & Jensey off on their hot date (at Liberty Inn – rrrrrrrrow!), the Rose & Crown’s chef came out to introduce himself and see if we had any requests or requirements. When I started planning, Tess had offered me three private party options: 1) Make my own ADR someplace and then have dessert at UK Pubside, 2) Have a catered dinner in a private room at the BoardWalk Inn and then go to UK Pubside, and 3) Have a dinner catered by Rose & Crown at UK Pubside, followed by dessert. (I should note that Option #3 has since been suspended during the “What Will You Celebrate?” campaign. You can still have a dessert party, but no dinner. Apparently they’re trying to come up with a new alternative for small groups at UK Pubside.)
I wanted to go with Option 3 so we could spend as much time on our private patio at Epcot as possible, but I was not a fan of Rose & Crown’s menu. I looked into having Epcot cater the dinner, but that would have required setting up a temporary kitchen to the tune of $800! So eventually the chef at the Rose & Crown offered to make us dishes from other menus around Epcot. I was really impressed that he came to our table to check with us before they started sending out our food!
As we waited for dinner, who should I spot inside Rose & Crown but Lacey & Eric! This wasn’t really a surprise, considering they’d been shamelessly stalking us our entire trip. I ran in to get a picture with Lacey for my blog, and we got to have a really nice chat with them. We were having so much fun that Patrick and I asked them to come to our dessert party when they were done with dinner – a pretty big favor, when you consider how cold it was outside, but they graciously agreed.
At this point Patrick went off to wash his hands, and on his way back he was flagged down by Disney brides Tracy (of Finding Nemo: The Musical fame), Dawn, and Christina, who also goes by “Rachael,” and possibly “Steve.” At first he thought maybe he was supposed to remember them from high school, but then they told him they were stalking Lurkyloo on the DIS, and he realized he’d just been “recognized”! (This is all secondhand from Patrick, who also tells me that at the time he had a mop of luxuriant auburn hair—so I apologize if events are not as anyone else remembers!). Patrick asked them if they wanted to see me, and the next thing I knew I was meeting three, count ‘em, three of my virtual Disney bride buddies in person – talk about exciting!
And then…. DINNER!
My appetizer was Le Cellier’s Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup.
Patrick had the Rose & Crown’s Mixed Greens Salad with Warm Break Croutons, crispy Bacon, Roasted Onion, Irish Cheddar, and warm Bacon Vinaigrette.
For dinner, I had the Rose & Crown’s Tamarind-glazed Pork Loin served with their Irish Cheddar Potato Gratin and Epcot’s Baby Green Beans.
Patrick had Epcot’s Lava Salted Salmon with Coral Reef’s Pepper Jack Cheese Grits and Epcot’s Baby Green Beans.
I’d taken a chance on some Rose & Crown dishes when their menu changed right before I had to submit my request. The pork loin was not great – again, I think it’s just a case of Disney’s using lower quality ingredients at the in-park restaurants – but Patrick loved his salmon, and I got to steal tons of his cheese grits. I was too excited to be really hungry anyway, which is a shame considering I could’ve been gobbling up buckets full of Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup the way FigmentFan wisely did at her private Grand Floridian anniversary dinner!
Alistair the server was fabulous – he was so attentive and accommodating. When we decided we wanted to brave the cold and have our desserts and cake served outside at UK Pubside, he made it happen and then popped down there frequently to continue serving us. After we finished dinner, we rounded up Lacey & Eric and dashed down to our private patio. Everything was all set up and the one functioning heat lamp was flaming its little patootie off.
Even better, Nathan & Jensey were there, and they’d brought us coats! First of all, Jensey brought me two coats – one dressy but not-as-warm one and one warm but not-as-dressy one. I took them both! What’s more, she very kindly shared with all of us some of her precious handwarmers, which are next to impossible to find in Orlando and were given to her as a gift by one of her brides. Awwwwwwww!
We also discovered Rosie down at UK Pubside, and she gave us some special 3D glasses that show you Mickey heads when you look at light sources – like IllumiNations!
I asked the Roots to just take pictures of the show, since goodness knows there are enough shots of me and Patrick smooching in front of IllumiNations already. The view from UK Pubside (and, I’d imagine, the Rose & Crown) is a-friggin-mazing! The fireworks are HUGE and breathtakingly beautiful. Definitely the best viewing spot anywhere.
Now, for your viewing enjoyment, I give you IllumiNations, the way the Roots see it….
[Click here to listen along at home!]
(sniff!) OK, let’s see, where was I….
So then we got to cut the cake! We were supposed to have vanilla ice cream with it, but they’d forgotten. That’s OK – I didn’t remember either until about three days later…
Patrick cut us all huge slabs…
Oh yeah, and we also had these other dessert party treats!
Maybe it was because I had a piece of cake in my tummy the size of a dictionary, but the marshmallow squares weren’t as good as I remembered. Also, the Butterfinger bread pudding was just weird – dry and fake-tasting. But Patrick loooooved the chocolate-covered strawberries. (What about the Panhandle Pecan Tarts, you ask? I didn’t get to try one til the next day, after it had been smooshed to death in the bottom of our backpack. Not the optimal eating experience…)
Nathan, Jensey, Lacey, Eric, Patrick and I all huddled around the table drinking hot chocolate and regaling each other with hilariously inappropriate stories for a dessert party. We shared the story of Patrick puking around the world, Lacey and Eric had their own story about food poisoning on their honeymoon (jeez, you’d think WDW was a third-world country or something!), and Jensey passed along some cast-member scuttlebutt about a Brazilian family (or possibly Downtown Disney pin sharks—the story varies) who won a stay in the Castle Dream Suite during the (Two) Year(s) of a Million Dreams and expressed their elation by pooping everywhere in the suite BUT the toilet. And then they won a stay again a few months later and did it again…. [this story will be important later on in the trippie…]
Once again, I was reminded that it’s the guests who make the party — it was so nice to share our anniversary with our new friends! But eventually the one heat lamp was not enough to keep all of us from turning into peoplesicles, so we parted ways.
Our hardy event guide Rosie had been outside the whole time but was as smiley as ever and insisted on escorting us back to the International Gateway. When we got back to our room, Patrick gave me a sweet card, silver earrings, and a gift basket full of goodies from Lush! Of course I had to try out one of the bubble bars immediately – wheeeeeeee!