The Traveling Steve's

Disney World weekend with Jane and Jess from Australia.

Steve (DOS) and I spent an enjoyable Cinco de Mayo Weekend at Disney World with our friends Jane and Jess visiting from Australia.

Steve (DOS) at entryway to Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney)
Jess (daughter on left) and Jane (mother on right) from Australia

I had met Jane (the mother) on a cruise in Australia nearly 20 years ago, and more recently her grown daughter Jess when they last visited Orlando five years ago. Jane has been over to the U.S. several times since we’ve met, and I keep promising to go back to the land of Oz for a visit, (when we can get together a month or so of time off, probably not until I retire, which hopefully will be in the not so distant future). I’ve been to Australia four times previously, and DOS has been separately as well. Since we’ve never made the trip together, we’re both long overdue for a visit.

Anyway, DOS and I stayed at the Hyatt Cypress Creek near Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney),

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort adjacent to Disney Springs
Hyatt pool area and lake overlooking EPCOT and the
boardwalk area in the far distance.

while Jane and Jess had a large vacation villa up a bit towards I-drive. When we met them at Disney Springs, they had just debarked from a cruise on the RCL Symphony of the Seas, sailing out of Miami. They had then driven the four hours up to Orlando to meet us. They had a great time on the ship and the ports, in spite of (or because of) the ship having some 6,000 passengers! The biggest cruise ship we’ve been on to date is the Oasis, and while we would still cruise again on big liners, the last few years we’ve switched to the very small river cruises which hold 100 or more passengers (except in Africa where it was only 24). I guess in RCL’s case, the motto is ‘The more the merrier!’ LOL!

We both Uber’d over to Disney Springs from our respective hotels, meeting up around 6pm. Disney Springs was extra lively it seemed with so many College graduations over the weekend, Prom Night for Seniors, high school trips hosting sports competitions, dancing, music, cheerleading – you name it there were plenty of people celebrating something – including us!

We walked around the Springs area a bit, while Jane and Jess searched for a Disney wrist-band from one of the many stores.

We then headed over to Wine Bar George, where we had some nice vinos, and dinner.

Entrance to Wine Bar George at Disney Springs

We have been to Wine Bar George a few times before, but had never sat on the outdoor balcony terrace, which was very nice. Here are a few pics from the terrace:

Our waiter remembered us from our last visit to George’s and provided us with outstanding service, as well as helping us decipher the mammoth wine menu, which serves everything from an ounce, 3 ounces, glass, bottle, flight, magnum – you name it, all at prices to match.

It’s a nice way to try an ounce of an expensive wine without getting the whole bottle, especially if you’re sitting at the bar area. For dinner though, we preferred bottled red wine, or a glass of white for Jess.

We started with a couple meatball appetizers, and followed that up with a large charcuterie board which the four of us shared.

We paired the appetizers with a nice red wine from Chile, Casa Basque. DOS and I had been to this winery a couple years ago, and were glad to drink this full-bodied red once again, this time in Florida.

While we were appetizing and dining, we could crowd watch the people below, and listen to music on one side from the Irish Pub, and the more Italian-like tranquil music nearby on the other side.

For our main course, we shared the huge skirt steak platter, which is served family style, and with the roasted potatoes and asparagus, it was easily enough to fill the four of us. DOS also ordered another bottle of red, although I didn’t get the name of this Napa Valley Red.

By the time we finished at Wine Bar George, it was after 10pm, and we were all a bit tired from our travel that day (Jane and Jess from the cruise and long drive from Miami, and myself from my work week in Tennessee and Minnesota.) We did make a quick stop in Splitsville Bowling Alley however, and walked around the West End of Disney Springs as well, stopping by a couple of the shops including House of Blues. We then Uber’d back to our hotels, with plans to tour EPCOT in the morning.

In the morning, Jane and Jess headed over to EPCOT when it opened around 9am, while DOS and I slept in a bit, and headed over around 1pm after lunch.

We had a full afternoon at EPCOT which was still decorated beautifully from the Spring Flower and Garden festival. While we didn’t visit all of the attractions obviously, we took a leisurely pace and enjoyed the beautiful day.

We had a Fast Pass for Soarin’, and went on this newly renovated attraction, which now ‘hang glides’ and soars all over the world, from the previous attraction ‘Soarin’ over California’. This was the second time we had ‘soared’ on it since it was renovated and enjoyed it even more this time.

After Soarin’, DOS and I met up with Jane and Jess at EPCOT for the rest of the day. We then headed ‘around the world’, that is World Showcase at EPCOT, but not before purchasing our Disney rain ponchos, a bit of a rip off at $11 each, considering they used to cost $4 when I moved down 20 years ago. But like parking that was $5 then and $25 now, it’s Disney inflation I guess. Still the ponchos are necessary in the rainy Florida weather, and much better than umbrellas when walking around; they’re not the most fashion-trendy – but make for some cute photos!

Starting with Canada, we went counter-clockwise around the World Showcase section of Epcot. Our first stop was Canada, which offers a 360 degree film experience “O’ Canada!” in its indoor, standup theater. After taking a couple photos of the area and mock-up grand hotel, we entered thru the garden area to see the film.

After Canada, we continued our leisurely walk around “the world”, stopping next at the United Kingdom.

Moving along, our next stop was across the World Showcase Bridge to France, where we stopped for a liquid refreshment.

Chefs de France Restaurant at EPCOT

Next stop at EPCOT was a stroll thru Morocco. While none of us bought anything, we saw some interesting things for sale. The weather was really clearing up by now, and the crowds were fairly light for EPCOT. Most important though it had a large set of restrooms!

Next to Morocco is Japan, which is a great place for photos overlooking the lake, the pavilion itself, the Bonsai trees and koi pond and gardens. It’s also a great place to view the 9pm fireworks from as there aren’t many lakefront trees blocking your view.

Moving along to America, we noticed that Don Fedler (formerly of the Eagles) was playing in the outdoor American Gardens Amphitheater in the evening. We would stop by for a bit after dinner and see some of his and the band’s performance, but for now just took a quick pick of the sign.

We skipped the German pavilion for now, as we were having dinner there later in the evening at the lively Biergarten Restaurant, but took a couple photos along the way.

We took a bit of a break when we got to Italy, and had a seat in the outdoor courtyard, just as one of the Italian street performers was starting up his act. We had wanted to go to the Italian wine bar for some cheese and vino, but Disney’s recently changed that to a sit down restaurant for full service meals, although you can stand at the crowded bar area still. Instead we had a small glass of Cabernet from the tasting room in the gift shop area, and relaxed outside in the courtyard.

After leaving Italy, we headed on towards China, with a stop in the mini-section of Africa for photos; mini as their is now a full-blown Africa park at Animal Kingdom.

We then stopped at the China pavilion, and rushed in just in time to make the next viewing of the 360 China Film. DOS and I are going to China next month, and especially wanted to see the China film again, especially a couple sections of the film where we will be going; Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Zhouzhuang, the Venice of China.

As it was Cinco de Mayo, we of course visited Mexico, which was lively with the people wearing sombreros and listening to the outdoor music. We did the Mexican adventure boat ride there with our duck host Donald and his other two amigos.

As expected, it was too busy though to stop and have a brewski or margarita, and it was nearly time for dinner anyway.

For dinner, we headed back over to Germany, were we had the German buffet, served at a large table (with four other guests), and entertainment while we dined. We love eating at Germany, and I got my traditional 32 ounce beer in the huge stein; perfect for holding up and swaying with the music when the band plays.

After dinner it was after 8pm, and we walked by the American Gardens outer amplitheater, where one of the former members of the Eagles was performing.

We watched the concert a bit from the back of the theater, before moving along. Jane and Jess headed back to their hotel as they had a full two-day park the next day, while DOS and I stayed for the fireworks. We said goodbye to Jane and Jess; well actually until we meet again.

Safe and happy travels Jane and Jess! Hopefully next time we see you will be in Australia!

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