Weekly Explorations in Orlando with Local Eats, Parks, Events, Walt Disney World and More

I was out and about this week. I had a great time at the Sandwich Eat Up at Black Bean Deli hosted by Deli Fresh Threads. He hosts these meet ups once a month as a way to try local sandwich spots and gather with social media friends in real life. If you're looking to enjoy some tasty local eats with some fun company I would suggest you join us.
Cerveza at Black Bean Deli in Orlando
Thursday I got to enjoy some tasty chocolate over at Peterbrooke Chocolatier in Winter Park. I love their chocolate!  On top of having delicious treats, the owners Kevin and Jami are amazing people.
Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park

Saturday Bryan and I went for a bike ride downtown. It was a beautiful day to be out and we enjoyed biking through many neighborhoods takings some stops along the way.

Our first stop was at Dickson Azalea Park. I enjoy this hidden oasis. I love that it's hidden below the street.
Dickson Azalea Park
We made our way downtown to Lake Eola Park. Saturday was Human Trafficking Awareness Day. I really didn't know much about the subject and had no idea that Orlando had such a high trafficking rate. There was a nice turnout for the event.
Lake Eola Park
After Lake Eola, we made our way up Magnolia to the Orlando Urban Trail.  This is a nice new trail that has some great spots to stop at along the way.  I especially like the entrance to Quantum Leap Winery.  They even have a bike rack! 
Orlando Urban Trail

Quantum Leap Winery in Orlando

I enjoy seeing Andrew Spear's murals around town. We spotted this new one off of Mills during our bike ride.  I love the bold colors!
Andrew Spear Mural in the Mills 50 Neighborhood

Sunday my daughters and I decided to head over to Walt Disney World. My youngest is officially turning into a teenager this week. We have celebrated a number of her birthdays at Walt Disney World including her first.

This was going to be our first visit utilizing the new Fastpass+ system. I had done some reading and heard some positive stories from locals who have Annual Passes but do not have a Magic Band. I was looking forward to checking out how the system would work.  

We parked over at Hollywood Studios since this is where we wanted to end the day. We walked right onto a bus for the Magic Kingdom and got to the park around 1:30 in the afternoon. It was great to be dropped off out front of the gates. The first thing we did was grab my daughter a birthday pin. They have all the pins set up outside of City Hall.
Walt Disney World Celebrating Pins

I had read that the Fastpas+ Kiosk in Liberty Square wasn't a busy location so we headed over there to get a few fast passes for the day. We walked right up to a Cast Member who swiped our passes and asked us for our three choices. We wanted Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain and settled for Buzz Lightyear for a third. Well, the times that came up were not conducive for our day at the Magic Kingdom. Our plan was to spend a few hours at the Magic Kingdom then head over to Disney's Hollywood Studios. The return time for Big Thunder Mountain was 5:30-6:30 pm and Space Mountain was 7:30-8:30 pm. Buzz was a decent time for us at 2:30, but Buzz was just an afterthought for us.  

We knew those times wouldn't work and the CM couldn't get us anything earlier so we said forget it. We knew we could only get Fastpass+ in one park, so we thought perhaps we'd have better luck at Hollywood Studios.

We went over to the Haunted Mansion and the wait was listed at 25 and it looked long, but we decided to wait it out. I think our wait ended up being about 20 minutes. They didn't let those in the Standby line bypass the cemetery like they have in the past. That could've saved us another 5 minutes.  

My oldest wanted to see the progress on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, so we made our way through the congestion in Fantasy Land to take a peek. We spotted Tigger along the way!
Tigger at the Magic Kingdom

Though not originally part of our plans, we got hungry and thought we'd venture to Epcot to get a snack and possibly see what Fastpass+ would offer us there.

We walked up to the Fastpass+ Kiosk, but because we had reservations at the Magic Kingdom they needed to be deleted. This process took about ten minutes. Once our cards were cleared we were asked what attractions and we decided Test Track and some others that would fill in the time. Again the return time was 5 hours later. This was not going to work for us, so we said forget it. You didn't even have the option for Soarin' as the return times had been used up for the day.

My daughters did single rider and didn't have to wait too long. We made our way around the countries and grabbed some snacks and I enjoyed a seasonal Samuel Adams. 
Samuel Adams beer at Epcot

I finally got to check out Spice Road Table. This is such a beautiful restaurant. The dining, shopping, and drinking located along the waterfront in Morocco were such a visual delight. I look forward to coming back and enjoy dining with a view.

Spice Road Table

My girls were craving ice cream so we decided to head over to Seashore Sweets' over at Disney's Boardwalk.  I enjoyed looking at all the sweets and treats offered in the parlor.
Seashore Sweets'

Seashore Sweets'

Seashore Sweets' at Disney's Boardwalk
We always enjoy the walkway over to Disney's Hollywood Studios. It's such a peaceful walk and you will beat the boat. My favorite is walking along the path at sunset.
Disney's Boardwalk Inn
When we got to Disney's Hollywood Studios it was close to 5 pm and the park was closing at 7 pm. I knew we wouldn't have much luck with getting any Fastpasses. We talked to the guy and he seemed to agree. We didn't want to have to spend another 10 minutes to erase our Epcot reservations, so we gave up and decided to see if we could ride something.

We ended up having a good time on Star Tours despite the fact that our ride broke down and that took and extra 15 minutes. My oldest & I headed to Rock N Rollercoaster and do Single Rider. That took us 35 minutes to get on, so we decided to not attempt the 30-minute wait for Tower of Terror and just head home.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
While this was a discouraging visit to Walt Disney World we did enjoy ourselves. Even when you're frustrated nothing beats watching the magic through the eyes of little kids. Seeing so many happy children about in the parks can't help but bring a smile to your face!  

I'm not sure what we can do next time to make it a better visit. Many of our visits to the parks are just for a few hours and we enjoy hopping from park to park. We've always been able to go on major attractions during our visits with a Fastpass, so this was a bit of a letdown. I'm surprised it didn't work out for us considering Touring Plans had rated the day a 4 out of 10 for crowds.  

Finally, looking ahead to this week on the blog I will be checking out a couple of tasty local eateries located in Central Orlando.

I hope you enjoy the last week of January.  Pitchers & Catchers report will be here before you know it, then Spring Break is around the corner!