Friday, February 27, 2009

Cutting Things for Pleasure and Profit

Today I came home with a set of these. They are both very pretty and very sharp. It is a good thing the local kitchen shop was having a sale because they don't come cheap.

You will find out if I survive the week with my fingers intact by checking whether or not I can type another blog entry.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Disney Ride Summary

Following last week's trip to Disneyworld, in order of personal preference, best to worst, here are some of the rides at Disney World:

Soarin', Epcot

An IMAX screen, but you're hung in the middle of the bubble so it fills your vision. Great, Not scary. don't miss it. Get a fastpass early in the day.

Expedition Everest, Animal Kingdom.
A big, fun roller coaster complete with angry yeti tearing up the tracks. Don't miss it. Get a fastpass.

Space Mountain, Magic Kingdom.
A roller coaster in the dark, with little points of light bathing the place. It would probably be a second rate roller coaster, but since you can't see where you are going, it adds enormously to the experience. Don't miss. Get a fastpass.

Thunder Mountain Railroad, Magic Kingdom
A railroad themed roller coaster. Lots of fun with big swoops. Don't miss. You'll need a fastpass.

Tower of Terror, Hollywood Studios.
An elevator that goes up an down, only very fast. It is quite scary the first time you try it, but the novelty wears off the second time, since you know what's coming. Don't miss it, but don't rush back for a second run expecting it to be as good the first time. Fast passes are usually needed, but not always.

Splash Mountain, Magic Kingdom
A log flume. You get a little wet, which is fine if the weather is warm. Lots of fun. Most times a fastpass was needed.

Rock n Roller Coaster, Hollywood Studios
An indoor rollercoaster. Very fast with an upside down loop early on and a corkscrew a bit later. But is it super short. Worth trying, but it's not worth waiting in line a long time, only go if you can get a fastpass.

Spaceship Earth, Epcot
A slow moving ride through the big ball in Epcot, with displays of invention though the ages. Quite boring until you get to a bit near the end where you pass through a 3D regular grid of pointy lights, which looks very cool. It's worth sitting through the first bit to get to the bit at the end.

Mad Tea Party, Magic Kindom.
This is a bunch of large tea cups in which 2 or 3 people can sit. They rotate around, but you get to spin the cup by pulling on a disc in the center of the cup. So with a bit of muscle you can spin it really fast. A much better ride than it looks like from the outside.

Kali River Rapids, Animal Kingdom.
Here 6 of you sit in a circular floating thing and ride down a river. The thing is there are some places where 1 or 2 seats, along with their occupants, get drenched. You don't know if it will be you or not, because the boat rotates freely. Take it if the weather is warm and you will dry off quickly.

Haunted Mansion, Magic Kingdom
A slow ride through haunted theme rooms. Boring.

Test Track, Epcot
Nominally you're in a car on a test track. There's a bit at the end where it goes fast around a banked track. Frankly boring and the GM adverts grated. The 7 yr old liked it though.

Primeval Whirl, Dino-land, Animal Kingdom
This is a rollercoaster with a car that rotates as you go around. It's short, nasty and uncomfortable. It runs slowly and jerks you around. All pain, no thrills. Avoid.

It's a Small World, Magic Kingdom
Help! Let me out. It's a boat ride through millions of annoying, badly animated dolls singing and stupid tune, dressed in culturally naive outfits. No fastpass needed here.

The Carousel of Progress. Magic Kingdom
The Carousel of Boredom. Avoid. You will not need a fastpass.

Legends of Hollywood, Hollywood Studios
A super slow ride through a bunch of scenes from old Hollywood movies, with a boring commentator and a super tedious bunch of film clips at the end. This is the worst ride in the park. Shoot yourself before getting on.

Prince Caspian, Hollywood studios
I was wrong, this is the worst ride. It isn't even a ride, but they don't tell you that before you go in. They just show you a video while you stand. Ugh.

Disney Dining is Bipolar

On Thursday we got back from a heavily Disnified vacation in Florida.

If you find yourself in Disney World, looking for something to eat, there is a problem. The walk up 'counter service' eateries are truly nasty. They serve a dismal array of fast food items all the way from cheeseburgers to hot dogs. In Animal Kingdom there is a hole in the wall outlet selling nothing but turkey legs. They looked nasty.

Possibly the best of the hole-in-the-wall outlets it the fish and chip shot in the British section of Epcot. But then you have to go to Epcot to eat there. Epcot is annoyingly bereft of good rides like the Tower of Terror or the Rock n' Roller Coaster. It does have Soarin', but that is for a different post. I'm not sure if the patisserie in the French section counts, since it doesn't sell real meals as such. The pastries are good though.

There are proper sit down restaurants in Disney World. However you have no chance of getting in without a reservation, which you typically have to book a few days in advance unless it's a quiet week.

Of the real sit-down restaurants, myself and the rest of the family ate in the 50's Prime Time Cafe in Hollywood Studios and the Marrakesh in Epcot. We failed to book Celliers steakhouse (fully booked even though calling the day before) and the Japanese place (too many people didn't want to eat Japanese food).

The food in both was great, the price was wallet shreddingly expensive. The bill at the Marrakesh was $177 for five of us. The seafood bastilla and the sheesh kebabs were great though. The chicken pot pie in puff pastry at the prime time cafe was perfect.

The real problem is that there is nothing in between. Good food you can't afford at one end and terrible food you don't want to afford at the other end.

Since we couldn't get in the Celliers Steakhouse on Wednesday, we elected to head on out of the Disney zone and try a restaurant out in the real world. What we found was Tu Tu Tango, which serves the closest thing to the Tapas I had in Malaga in Spain that I've had. The Tu Tu Tango quality was better though. The price turned out to be less for 5 of than 2 of us in the Marrakesh. I recommend the black bean soup and mushroomy flatbread.

On balance I recommend swallowing the cost and booking a long time ahead for real food. Otherwise, rent a car and go to International drive to eat at the Tu Tu.