Day 10: Magic Kingdom + Blizzard Beach + Fireworks from Hacienda de San Angel

Today was one of those fantastic Disney days that are packed full of fun activities but never feel rushed. It was also Patrick’s day to explore the wide-angle camera lens some more, which means this installment is filled with a lot more on-ride shots than he usually takes.

When we woke up, there were tons of hot-air balloons in the sky over the BoardWalk—cool!

Wow—that's SOME zoom!

We started the day by riding the bus to the Magic Kingdom for rope drop. It was the typical scenario where the park looked like it was sooooo crowded, but then everyone dispersed and we felt like we had the place practically to ourselves.

Our first order of business was to shoot a video walkthrough of the Swan Boat Landing wedding ceremony site for my Disney Wedding Venues page, but I can’t show it to you because I forgot to edit it until I typed this sentence. Gulp!

Then we went to see Winnie the Pooh, which was in the process of having its soon-to-be-broken interactive queue elements installed behind construction walls.

It's like stepping into Disney California Adventure!

Once again, it was a blustery day in the Hundred Acre Wood…

Every time I see this scene, I vow to have a pink cake with chocolate frosting for my next birthday… and I always forget to actually do it!

Fantasyland was still pretty much a ghost town, and we walked right on to Snow White and Mickey’s Philharmagic (OK, maybe that’s not much of a coup…).

Haunted Mansion was also a walk-on. The invisible horse was out by the fence begging for invisible sugar cubes…

"Pardon our dust while we install another interactive queue instead of, you know, building a new ride to relieve crowding"

We got to ride Big Thunder twice, it was so deserted!


Patrick talked me into going on Splash even though I *hate* getting wet. I mean, you trowel on the makeup for a day of fun in the parks and the next thing you know, it’s streaking down yer face. Oh wait, maybe that’s just me…

I've got my Headless Guest Halloween costume on!

On the way to or maybe from Pirates of the Caribbean we stopped to get new-and-improved wide-angle shots of the Pirates League.

Then it was off to a dangerous place to be headed…


In case the photo’s too small to read these directions on how to pin trade, I will add them here…

1) Find the sweatiest cast member you can, preferably one with a broken wrist.

2) Slug the cast member in the gut with your massive bear paw, then yank his lanyard near its lowest point.

3) The cast member will gladly give you any pin you want just to get you to leave him alone. Be sure that both of you pierce your fingers on the pin backs as you exchange pins.

Looks like we went on Peter Pan, prolly with a FASTPASS (yes, there will be a quiz)…

We rode Space Mountain again, even though we always complain bitterly through the whole thing about how jerky and battering the ride is.

"W-w-w-hy d-d-d-id w-w-we r-i-d-d-d-e th-th-th-is a-g-g-g-ain…?"

At lunch time we had our now-customary midday meal at the Plaza Restaurant, where we swaggered in, took our seats, thumped the table and announced, “The usual, my good man!” to a blank stare from our server… Perhaps he didn’t recognize us without The Roots, whom we now miss terribly every time we eat at the Plaza.

The Usual

Oooh! Oooh! Podium cake!!!

After our gut-busting lunch, all we were up for was a tour of the Dorothea Redmond mosaics in Cinderella Castle.

The castle HATES it when you take its picture from this angle—just look at all those chins!

Now the castle is playing coy…

"Does this shot make my waterway look wide?"

Castle: "I can tell you're still taking a picture of me!!!" Lamp: "Shut UP! They're taking a picture of ME!"

Edge of Tomorrowland: "Hey, I look like THIS—you think *I* care if anyone takes a picture of me?"

If this were in the real world and it didn't have Cosmic Ray's inside, I would want to go to there.

Castle: "I can still seeeeee you!!!"


Finally it was time for the D23 tweet-up. It was exciting to actually be in the Magic Kingdom when one of these happened, though I s’pose that was kind of a given, what with this being Sip & Stroll weekend and all. (Speaking of which, have I mentioned that, 2 weeks after they went on sale, this year’s $195 Sip & Stroll tickets are *still* not sold out? I think the word must be spreading about the PowerPoints….). In true D23 fashion, all the fans were already lurking about the Swan Boat Landing well before Jeffrey was due to show up.

I think we played some trivia games for pins (not patches—PINS!!!), and he revealed the agenda for that year’s Magic & Merriment event, which had me mentally planning a quick trip back until Patrick pointed out that the only new things were brunch at Top of the World Lounge and a sure-to-be-foodless reception inside the Walt Disney Story.

Somewhere in the middle of the tweet-up I discovered that the jig was up when Jeffrey made a comment about seeing “those of you I know and those of you who think I don’t know you—Lurkyloo!!!” Gulp.

"Just for that, Lurkyloo, we're giving out nothing but patches from now on!"

The tweet-up freebie he handed out turned out to be the same pack of reproduction post cards they gave us at Destination D in Disneyland (not that I’m complaining, Jeffrey, we were just hoping it would be another patch. Honest!), but he also gave us each 2 FASTPASSes good for any ride—whohoo!

I think we must’ve saved the FASTPASSes for later, because at that moment we were headed out of the Magic Kingdom and back to the room to change.

This is the case where they keep all the good merchandise at the Magic Kingdom

As you may recall from my disastrous inaugural water park experience at Typhoon Lagoon on our honeymoon, I may not really be a water park kinda gal (don’t like being wet, barefoot, cold, in a bathing suit, under water, on my tummy, exposed to the sun, etc., etc. …). But Patrick absolutely adores them and is always angling to go whenever we’re at Disney World. Considering that admission was free for us with our Premier Passes, I really couldn’t say no.

This time, I was primed and ready to discover unplumbed depths of love for the water park experience. The theming was sure to be amazing! It was going to be fun to see Patrick having fun! And it was only going to be open about 90 minutes longer!

Wait—where are we again… Goofy's Candy Co.?

Unfortunately, 5 minutes into our trip, I got caught off guard by the chair lift and scraped a huge chunk outta my big toe (why is there cement under those things anyway?). So I spent the rest of the day hobbling around on 9 toes cuz there wasn’t time to waste going all the way back to the front of the park for First Aid (seriously—none of the lifeguards at any of the slides carry Band Aids?).

Dang you, chair lift!!!!

The first slide we rode was the second-highest one, Slush Gusher, on which you get battered with water jets while your butt catches major air at least twice. Next up was the tallest one, Summit Plummet, which also features battery by water jets.

We took a break to ride a raft in Teamboat Springs. I liked that one. Niiiiice and gentle. Then it was back for more punishment on the one you do lying on your tummy and get a huge blast of water in your snoot and splash down coughing so hard that you scare the crap outta the lifeguard. Or maybe that’s just me…

In the end, Patrick had a swell time and I lived to tell the tale… the tale of how I am DEFINITELY, 100% not a water-park person.

We went back to the room and got cleaned up. Patrick made a quick trip to Downtown Disney to trade with the pin sharks outside, uh, Mickey’s Pin-porium & Olde Tyme Vinylmation Station. Turns out they finally got banned! (Now the only place to trade is inside Epcot.) Meanwhile I was frantically dialing the Walt Disney Travel Co. to make a hotel reservation during Magic & Merriment before Patrick could get back and talk some sense into me again.

The plan that evening was to try out the new Hacienda de San Angel and see what its view was like for IllumiNations. Patrick’s always excited about Mexican food, and I’m always excited about good views of fireworks! We made the reservation for 8pm, which turned out to be perfect timing for IllumiNations at 9pm.

Oh look! They have El Torito in Mexico too!

Snazzy bird of paradise napkin fold, there!

We started with an authentic amuse bouche the natives like to call “chips and salsa”… These weren’t particularly memorable, but, hey—at least they weren’t Tostitos!


That's right—no machines assembling the margaritas HERE!

Hands-down the swankiest-lookin' menus on property (and I've been to Victoria & Albert's!)

Botana: A sampling of traditional Mexican favorites: chicken tostada, Chilorio sope (marinated pork), and cheese empanada

The appetizer was great, there just wasn’t enough of it (especially at $9.99)! For dinner we split two dishes so we could try more things.

Pescado a la Talla: Grilled tilapia served with esquites (roasted corn), nopales (cactus leaves), and mango chutney

This was excellent! The fish wasn’t dry, the flavors were sophisticated and blended nicely, and it was nice to eat something totally new to us at Disney.

Arrachera: Flank steak served with spring onions, tamal with rajas, cactus leaves, and beans

I liked this too—it was actually medium rare like we’d asked and quite flavorful. It just wasn’t as exotic and unusual to our palates as the fish.

This is where the hot tortillas would be if they weren't already in our tummies

I don’t know if Hacienda de San Angel’s food is really authentic, but it’s a great departure from the usual Tex Mex fare at Disney World.

We were very lucky to be seated right by the window, but I’ll bet it’s still a pretty decent fireworks view from the middle of the restaurant.

When the show started, they turned down the lights and turned up the IllumiNations soundtrack. I took the camera cuz I was closest to the window and cared the most about taking pictures. I only had a little trouble shooting through the glass at first, but then… WOW! Admittedly, I used zoom on a lot of these shots, but the view from Hacienda de San Angel is SO good!

Luckily our desserts arrived right at “the boring part” of IllumiNations (according to *some* people!).

Chocolate con Churros: Traditional Mexican hot chocolate accompanied by fresh churros and cajeta (caramel) sauce (modified to include ice cream)

I’m not a fan of Mexican hot chocolate, so I had them spruce this dessert up with a big pile o’ ice cream. SOOOOOOO good!

Helado: Traditional Mexican Ice Cream

Back to the boring part of IllumiNations…


My camera started getting confused about what to focus on at this point, but I’m including these cuz think how cool they’d be if they were in focus!

Nice, camera. Too little, too late…

Whoa. How'd I get THIS shot?!

Pretty friggin’ cool, right? I would totally recommend dinner and IllumiNations at Hacienda de San Angel! On the way out we got a chance to take my favorite kind of location photos—the kind with no people in them.

Up Next: Backstage Safari at Animal Kingdom!

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17 Responses
  • Elizabeth
    October 6, 2011


    And now I want to try that restauarant.

    And Blizzard Beach…I can finally get my skyway fix by riding the ski lift (and now I know to watch out for the dangerous cement!). However, I hope you can get down some way other than those slides cause *pointing at myself with both thumbs* THIS GIRL does not do big drops…on rides OR slides!

    And is that burger cut in half because you shared it? Only way to consume the whole shake I would think.

    • lurkyloo
      October 6, 2011

      Ohhhh…. Yes… we shared the burger…. that’s definitely what happened and not that we each gobbled down our own, some of us more daintily than others…. :p

  • Heather
    September 29, 2011

    We snagged a window table at La Hacienda last year. I agree it’s the best Illuminations view out there. Being right at water level makes a HUGE difference! The kicker was that I heard the people behind us say “this must be the place to see this!” and then they proceeded to leave just five minutes into the show. Insane!!!!

    • lurkyloo
      September 29, 2011

      Hmmm… must’ve been IllumiNations Globe-haters!

  • Claire
    September 29, 2011

    Due to your interpretation of the Pin Trading Instructions, I was forced to scrunch down in my cubicle while silently shaking with laughter. Disney and their instructional signs! Patrick’s photos were fantastic too!

    • lurkyloo
      September 29, 2011

      Hooray! Glad I could make you laugh!

  • Hope
    September 29, 2011

    I really enjoyed your Splash pics. I’ve never been on it (I hate drops and I – like you – don’t like to put my face on and have it messed up with water).

    The Hacienda view of the fireworks looked cool too. (So did the Margarita menu 😉 )

    Also, we must send this post to Howard Jones. If Jeffrey knew who you were, then surely Howard needs to get schooled too! 😉

    • lurkyloo
      September 29, 2011

      BWAAAhahahahahaa! Yes, I’m simply shocked that Howard Jones doesn’t know who Lurkyloo is! Well, he’ll be sorry next time he tries to order a cake or get married at Disney World…. 😀

  • Shoshanna
    September 29, 2011

    is giraffe petting a no go too I assume…Boo too bad!

    • lurkyloo
      September 29, 2011

      Yep—I was so bummed! Not that they’re particularly cuddly, but I just wanted to touch SOME kind of animal!

  • Shoshanna
    September 29, 2011

    interested to hear what you thought of the backstage tour as well. We did it a few years ago and thought it was fantastic! We had a small group and a really good guide ( : The highlight was getting to pet a rhino which they do not guarantee…apparently it depends on the mood of the Rhino…glad she was in a spunky mood the day we came by!

    • lurkyloo
      September 29, 2011

      Wha….?! WE didn’t get to pet any rhino!!! 🙁 Actually, as I remember now, I think I asked about the rhino right on the tour, and they said they don’t do it anymore no matter what her mood is. 😉 We went to see the giraffes instead.

  • Chilly
    September 29, 2011

    funny photo of you on Splash Mountain. I’ve never tried the plaza restaurant, we always go to CHH.

    • lurkyloo
      September 29, 2011

      I miss Columbia Harbor House! We used to always eat there til we discovered the Plaza. I love the upstairs seating areas!

  • Carla
    September 29, 2011

    Can’t wait to read your comments on the Backstage Safari. We did one two years ago and really enjoyed it. I think a lot depends on the guide that you get, and ours was terrific. We also did the Wild Africa Trek this year–it was amazing! A lot more expensive than most of the tours (and no DVC discount, like all of the other tours), but we agreed afterwards that it had definitely been worth it for what is likely to be a one-time experience.

    • lurkyloo
      September 29, 2011

      Glad you got a good guide too! I dunno when I’m ever gonna get around to our anniversary trip report, but we really enjoyed the Wild Africa Trek too. The only trouble was that the toilets at the outpost didn’t work that day—yikes!

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