Breakfast was delicious. We finally had the Tonga Toast, which fully lived up to our expectations. The only unfortunate part, and I’m not sure whether this is because we were starting to come down with colds or because of something to do with the breakfast, but Sarah, my mom, and I all felt sick after breakfast. Since the breakfast tasted so good, I’m going to place the blame elsewhere, but it still has me nervous about our next breakfast at Kona.
This day was disappointingly unproductive, much like the previous day, which was a common theme of the trip. While it is fun to enjoy the parks and take in your surroundings, when you visit once or twice a year, experiencing attractions multiple times is top priority, for us at least. I often hear people say they spent the entire day at the park without doing a single attraction. That isn’t our style of doing things. Enjoying the atmosphere is fine–for a while–but after too long it becomes frustrating.
While fun, this bordered on one of those days. Since we didn’t arrive at EPCOT following breakfast until almost noon, had dinner ADRs at Via Napoli, and because the park closed early, it was a short day. Part of this was our choice–if we wanted a longer day we shouldn’t have had two table service meals, but part of this was a constraint brought upon by the shortened park hours. A 9:30 pm closing for the park that’s open LATEST that day?! That’s absurd!
Between the two meals, we managed to experience four attractions. Granted, one of these was Universe of Energy, but still, not nearly as much accomplished as we would have liked. We did wander around World Showcase, too, and watched some of the Santas perform, so I suppose we could count each of those as an “attraction,” too.
Shortly before our Via Napoli ADR, we headed over to Italy. Via Napoli was packed! Most of the people, it appeared, were walkups being turned away after pleading for availability for a few minutes. If there is no availability for a given restaurant, I wish Disney would put out a sign, or have a separate check-in for guests with ADRs. We waited in line for roughly 10 minutes to check-in, and I believe only one other party checked-in before us in the line.
After checking in, we waited for about 15 minutes to be seated. Crowds and waits like these make me wonder why Disney doesn’t keep building more restaurants. I think as long as the DDP exists, Disney can keep building restaurants in all of the parks and have them constantly booked. With how popular the EPCOT restaurants are, I’m shocked MK doesn’t have more table service restaurants.
I had read some pretty positive reviews of Via Napoli prior to the trip, so I was fairly excited about the meal. However, I think with any new Disney restaurant, there is a bit of “inflation” that occurs in the Disney fan community. People so want the restaurant to be the next Le Cellier that, psychologically, it seems better than it actually is (as Mulder from the X-Files would say, “I WANT to believe.”). I’m not saying Via Napoli wasn’t good–it was very good–it just didn’t match the hype I had read about the place. Given the price, I would not place it in the “must do” realm. Still, it was very good, and well worth a visit.
Dinner lasted longer than we anticipated, and afterward, it was almost time for Illuminations. It was incredibly cold that evening, probably the coldest night of the trip, and already getting late, so my parents left. By the time Illuminations started, the park was dead. The second floor of the department store in Japan, which is one of the toughest viewing locations to secure, was empty 10 minutes before Illuminations. Another prime viewing area, in front of America, had very few people. While part of me wanted to photograph the fireworks from Japan, I think that location has been so overdone that I just went for a “classic” location. It had been a while since I’ve had any success shooting Illuminations from a classic location that I figured I was due to add some shots like this to my library. After Illuminations, we took some photos before heading home. Another night of walking from the Poly, another night in bed before midnight.