This wraps our summer of fun Disney dinners, but I’m looking forward to trying (and retrying) recipes from our Disney cookbooks in the future, and I’ve already pre-ordered The Official Disney Parks Cookbook, which is scheduled to come out next February, so we’ll have even more new recipes to try!
Our ninth Disney Dinner was A Big Deal, because I tried to recapture the magic of something we tried at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios…but first, something new and something a little scary, the Sarjenn Snowcap, a cola slushy topped with sweetened, condensed milk. I wasn’t really sure how it would taste, but in the end it was very similar to a cola float, and very good.
The star of the meal was Batuuan Ronto Wraps, a popular item at Hollywood Studios. We shared a Ronto Wrap our first day at the park, and Turkey liked it so much, he bought his own for dinner the second day we were there. The Galaxy’s Edge version has both sliced pork and a sausage, but we had ours with just the sausage, and it really wasn’t missing much.
For dessert, we had Cavaellin Spice Creams, which were pretty much gingerbread cookie whoopee pies filled with orange cream cheese frosting.
It was fun to really have a little bit of Disney at home!
Time for one last look back at the beautiful “EARidescent Evenings” at the parks of Walt Disney World in celebration of the 50th anniversary. The color scheme is so pretty, and everything just glows with happiness!
We didn’t see the Animal Kingdom in the evening because we spent less time there in general, and they’re not open as late in the first place, but I assume the Tree of Life has something fantastic, as well! It’s a perfect visual representation of “The World’s Most Magical Celebration!”
I planned our seventh Disney Dinner to coincide with Bastille Day, so I had an excuse to make S’mores French Toast Sandwiches (or “delicious hot schmoes”) as found in Hollywood Studio’s Toy Story Land. Since it was such a decadent meal, we didn’t have dessert, but who needs it when dinner looks like this?!?
For the drink, I used the recipe for Keshian Spiced Milk from the Star Wars Life Day Cookbook…it was very much like a horchata, and very tasty!
Normally I wouldn’t make something like this for dinner, but for a special occasion, it was fun, and it may even return to the table as a dessert in the future!
It’s time for the blog post I’ve both been looking forward to and dreading…the one focused on our time at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios at Disney World!
I like Star Wars, but I never get the words right. I’m the one who famously asked “Why does that guy have Luke Skywalker’s haircut?” at the end of The Mandalorian, season two. So I’m not really sure what I’m going to screw up looking back at our adventures at the Black Spire Outpost on Batuu (I hope I at least got that part right!), but I’m still excited to share the details of this amazing section of the park!
If you are looking for an immersive experience, one that puts you right into the universe of Star Wars, this is the place for you…it’s actually like being in a whole other world!
Our first stop was Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, because we had an unbelievably long list of lightsabers we wanted to buy before any of them sold out for the day (14 total, if you’re keeping track). I especially like that Dok-Ondar is an Ithorian, one of my very favorite species in Star Wars due to their humorous necks!
At Ronto Roasters, you can see a pitmaster droid hard at work turning a side of Ronto on the spit:
We stopped by the Creature Stall, where we saw an adorable sleeping Loth-cat:
We went on “Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run,” where we took the Falcon on a smuggling run to Corellia for Hondo Ohnaka. I don’t want to brag, but as one of the pilots, I got to engage the hyperdrive!
One of the big highlights of the day was going to Savi’s Workshop to build lightsabers (if you’re keeping track, this brought our total up to 21 lightsabers purchased or built in one day!). This was an amazing experience…I had no idea what to expect, but I found it strangely moving, especially when Yoda spoke to us from the Force.
If you’re wondering how it works, after you’re admitted to the assembly room, you choose your Kyber Crystal (mine is, of course, purple). They then bring you a tray of lightsaber parts based on the style you chose before entering the building (I picked Protection and Defense). The staff there is great, both at telling the story and at helping with the assembly…some of the pieces can be a little challenging to put together (or at least they were for me, but I wasn’t too proud to ask for help!). Once they check to make sure your lightsaber hilt is complete, they have you put it into a slot in the table, and that’s where the connection to the blade is made. The moment everyone turns their lightsaber on in the darkened room is really special, and we all loved it.
Here’s a look at our family’s collection…no two are exactly the same!
We had to be aware of our surroundings, because there are Stormtroopers wandering around looking for trouble…I mean Jedi…no, maybe I mean trouble!
The details in every part of the design of the park are excellent:
We also went to the Droid Depot to build our very own droids. There are tons of options in a great selection of colors, with the base models being based on R units, BB units, and C units. You can make your droid look like it’s from one of the movies, or you can make it look completely unique (I based mine on Roald, my favorite Animal Crossing character). The building process goes like this…after looking at the day’s available options, you go to a conveyor belt and pick the pieces you need based on the droid series you chose (they give you a card that shows what you’re looking for). After you have everything in your basket, you head to a droid-building station, where they walk you through putting it together, then activate it and teach you how to control it. They’re quite talkative, and interact with other droids nearby!
This is a sample of the eight total droids our family built:
We had to wait until our last day at the parks to finally ride “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance” (apparently it breaks down a lot). This was probably the longest line we stood in on our trip, but it was worth it…like everything else in the park, it was completely immersive, and you really felt like you were in trouble with the First Order officers who were gathering people for interrogation. There were familiar faces in this ride, including an appearance by BB-8, and we also met a new R5 unit who aided us in our escape.
It was a really cool ride, and not too scary (not even for me, the thrill ride coward), and there were so many great details…we even got to go under a walker!
Everything about the experience at the Black Spire Outpost is awesome!
I loved our time at Galaxy’s Edge, and I’d love to go back someday!
Back at home, we kept the Disney magic going with art projects:
And lots and lots of cooking! We had 12 “Disney Dinners” at home over the summer (plus the one we indulged in at The Hollywood Brown Derby), which let us sample copycat recipes from the theme parks and the Disney World resorts:
It wouldn’t be summer school without a Lego build, and we found the perfect set to reflect our summer fun!
And we squeezed in a few craft projects, including an amazing pumpkin coach, a cupcake liner lei modeled by Stitch, and a string art Mickey Mouse head that left glitter everywhere!
We also watched a ton of Disney documentaries (thank you Disney+) and classic Disney movies, some we had seen before, and some that were new to us. I especially loved the mid-century documentaries from when the theme parks were just getting their start, but the more modern ones, that focused on attractions we saw at Disney World (and their California counterparts) were fascinating, especially after we had the experience of seeing them first-hand.
Like I said, there won’t ever be a summer school like this again, where we were able to blend fun and learning and so many experiences together, but I’m really glad we got to do it once in our lifetime!
Although we sampled a lot of food at Disney World, we only enjoyed one full sit-down meal while we were there. It was a really good one, though…we went to The Hollywood Brown Derby!
I really wanted to play I Love Lucy by visiting the “local watering hole.” Actually, I’ve eaten at the Disney World Hollywood Brown Derby before, back when Disney’s Hollywood Studios was called Disney-MGM Studios…so, a pretty long time ago! My memories of eating there were all mixed up with the I Love Lucy episode, so it was exciting to see it again in person!
The entrance is bright, and as soon as you walk in, you see the caricatures on the wall that the original restaurant was famous for.
The restaurant really does look like it did on TV, including the round booths and more caricatures (our favorite of those, seeing as there was no two-frame-picture of Jimmy Durante and his Schnozzola, was a pair of Bob Hopes on either side of Bing Crosby!).
On to the food. We shared a 50th anniversary “EARidescent Sip-a-bration,” which was a lemonade fruit punch with an adorable little Pluto perched on the side that you dropped into the drink to add a little Disney magic. And we got to keep the cup!
We also shared an appetizer, the Charcuterie Board, which was excellent. Several members of our family had the Famous Cobb Salad (which is named after Bob, yes I said Bob, Cobb), but as far as I know, it wasn’t “tossed in a derby.” Turkey ordered the Filet Mignon with Walt Disney’s Roast Beef Hash, and I really wish I had photographed it after he cut into it so you could see how beautifully rare it was!
I may be biased, but I’m pretty sure my meal, the Shrimp and Scallops Newberg, was the best. It was served with a sherry cream sauce, and the waiter (who was fantastic!), brought me a spoon and told me to make sure I finished all the sauce…so I did! It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had!
We shared two desserts, the 50th Celebration Baked Alaska and the Crème Brûlée. Both were absolutely amazing, and look how pretty!
Did I mentioned the wall lamps shaped like derby hats?
We made it out of the restaurant without flinging pie on anyone, so I’m not sure how successful we were at playing I Love Lucy, but we had a great time!
The sliver lining in the cloud that was us having to postpone our Disney World vacation for a year is that we were there for the park’s 50th anniversary, the “World’s Most Magical Celebration.” The celebratory atmosphere was everywhere at the parks, but especially with the golden statues of Disney characters scattered throughout the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and the Animal Kingdom. We didn’t see all of them, but we also didn’t do too badly!
There were other hints of a celebration, including cakes with “50” toppers:
There were other 50s here and there, as well, including on the castle, in the landscaping, and on the lamppost signs:
And the main characters have special anniversary costumes…I got pretty close to Donald Duck in his!
I love being part of a celebration, and no one knows how to celebrate like Disney!
Our final day at Disney included visiting all four of the parks, starting with our first trip to Animal Kingdom:
Every Disney park has a central, iconic location…at Animal Kingdom, it’s the Tree of Life:
We headed straight for the Kilimanjaro Safaris upon our arrival.
We got to see a lot of animals in fairly realistic habitats.
After the safari, we walked the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail (and saw an adorable baby gorilla!), and then walked around the park a bit:
We got to listen and talk to a talented musician who played the kora:
There was a cool kite show on the water:
We didn’t forget to take a family photo!
We only went on one other ride (we had talked about the Kali River Rapids, but at that point, I was just over being wet and wearing a plastic poncho, and the Expedition Everest roller coaster, which some of us thought about riding was closed)…the TriceraTop Spin, which I thought was fun.
We only spent a few hours at Animal Kingdom, because we had some other things we wanted to do. We drove over to EPCOT so we could hop on the monorail to visit a few of the resorts that had anniversary pressed pennies we wanted to add to our collection.
While we were riding the monorail, we passed by Donald Duck in his 50th anniversary finery:
Once park hopper hours began, we stopped by the Magic Kingdom to collect a few more pressed pennies…and see Eeyore, who waved his ears at me (I was really good at frantically waving at characters by this point!):
We then headed into EPCOT, where we finally found Goofy:
At this point, we split up so we could maximize our penny finding. Bunny and I headed off in one direction, and I’m pretty sure we had the best time, starting with the views on our route:
And then I finally met my favorite Disney character, Daisy Duck!!!
Bunny and I decided we would take the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios while everyone else drove. I feel bad that they missed out, because it was a really fun ride, and we even got to make a transfer at one of the hotels!
At Hollywood Studios, we found Donald and Daisy (again). I told you I had the waving thing figured out, because they definitely noticed me!
Since Bunny and I had a little extra time, we shared yet another Mickey-shaped treat:
And took a look at The Hollywood Tower Hotel. I had no interest in riding The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, but I did want to see it.
Once we regrouped, we got in what I think was our longest line of the trip, to ride Rise of the Resistance, which was really, really cool.
We also rode Star Tours twice, and Darth Vader showed up both times, which was very exciting. A few members of our family actually managed to ride all three Star Wars rides that day, which was quite an accomplishment given their popularity! Plus, those who were interested also managed to squeeze in a ride on the previously-mentioned Tower of Terror, and they had a great time, especially since they got to ride it as the sun was setting!
It was really had to leave, because we knew that even though we still had a few days of vacation left, our time at Disney was over.
I won’t even try to describe it all now…I’ll save that for a full post later. But we built lightsabers at Savi’s:
And we built droids at the Droid Depot:
Plus we picked up a job flying the Millennium Falcon to Corellia for Hondo Ohnaka (I was a pilot, which was probably a bad idea, but I got to engage the hyperdrive!).
We also got to see Muppet Vision 3D and explore that area of the park:
And we checked out the hand and footprints by the Chinese Theatre:
Before lunch, we spent some time relaxing and taking in the sights around Echo Lake:
Our other big event for the day was our one fancy meal on vacation…lunch at The Hollywood Brown Derby. It was just like I remembered it from my childhood, and one of the best meals I’ve ever had (full details to come):
We didn’t go on any of the rides in Toy Story Land, but we did enjoy walking through it and seeing everything!
We did have a fun ride on Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad…and we were very happy to see that Goofy was recognized as Employee of the Month!
Another evening, another lights and fireworks show:
And a night photo of the Fab Five with their lightsabers lit up: