Vacation Blog, Day 4! DCA and some great food and wine!

4:45 AM – SIGH. So much for “us” sleeping in.

Sitting on the patio, before the sun has risen, and there is a calm that washes over me that I have not experienced much recently. Certainly not in the last 18-or-so months. I am sure that I am far from alone in that feeling.

7:00 AM – Back on the patio after heading down to the pool bar which is basically the only place here I can get something to eat at this hour. In the olden times (pre-COVID), I had been able to walk down Downtown Disney to Earl of Sandwich or La Brea Bakery to pick up breakfast, but these days those places don’t open until 9 AM, and I cannot wait until 9 AM to eat. I’m able to grab a croissant and some cheese, and together with leftover plane cookies, this should suffice until Tracey wakes up and we can get our day started. Still several hours until that happens, for sure.

8:30 AM – Well, whatcha know, the wife is up early! One thing we both agree on: the beds here are just as comfortable as they are at the Grand Floridian, and those are the greatest beds we’ve ever experienced. We have a very nice, comfortable bed at home, but nothing like these. This is what it feels like to wake up refreshed. I had forgotten.

9:30 AM – We are into DCA, through the special “Grand Californian only” entrance and head right to Soarin’. If you are interested in a full ride-through, it’s in my latest vlog here. We’ve decided that this will always be our first DCA ride, in the same way we always start our Disneyland days on POTC. It’s tradition and shit!!

Hmm what movie is that line from…..???? I can hear it, but can’t picture who says it…. Can’t Buy Me Love, maybe? It’s going to bug me now until I remember.

It’s busy but not insane here, we knock a few rides off our list before our lunch, including our first-ever ride IN ROW ONE on the Incredicoaster. Pro tip: Wait longer to get in row 1. It’s worth a little extra time!

12:40 PM – We arrive at Lamplight Lounge for lunch. This used to be Ariel’s Grotto, for those of you who haven’t been here in a while. They transitioned it into a non-character restaurant/lounge a few years back, and although we loved the Grotto, this is better. They have a fairly small menu, but the food is top notch. I have one of the best pork chops I have ever had, and Tracey goes nuts for her braised Short Ribs. I also have a little “side-by-side challenge” of two California Chardonnays – one that I am very familiar with, one I have never heard of. Both were good. I didn’t catch the vintages so I am not doing a full rating, but they were as follows:

Hartford Court Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($13/glass) – Oakey, toasted brioche, citrus, hints of tropical fruit. This is Hartford’s entry level Chardonnay, and it’s delicious as always. 90 points.

Karlsen Chardonnay ($20/glass) – Unoaked, unfiltered and unfined. Citrus, tropical fruit, just a hint of vanilla. Delicious. A bit off the beaten path for California Chardonnay, but one to look for if you can find it ($50 bottle from the winery). 92 points.

After lunch we are tired and are expecting a lovely dinner and big evening, so we head back to the room for a little nappy-poo. Tracey gets a solid nap, I get a nice rest but don’t actually fall asleep. Will I pay for that later? We’ll see…..

4:50 PM – We arrive at Carthay Circle for our dinner reservations. I recommend checking out the vlog for full reviews of the food, but suffice it to say it was another great meal here. Our server convinces me to try their Signature Pork Chop, as it is, in his words, “way better than the one at Lamplight”. OK, so I do that. Tracey orders a chicken salad dish, which is much, much better than it sounds.

My pork chop is absolutely fantastic. Better than Lamplight? No, it’s probably a tie. Very different, but each would make my “top 10 all time pork chop” dishes.

The star of this show, however, is the wine.

Oh wow, that was fantastic. It was the last bottle they had in their inventory, so don’t go running down there to try it…..but hopefully at some point they re-discover their fabulous wine inventory. Hope so, because as amazing as the food always is here, it’s the wine list (and the PRICES of the wine here) that makes this a must-do every trip.

After dinner we hit up a whole bunch of rides, and get some nice pictures as well.

Clarabell the Cow! They are pulling all of the rare characters out of the woodwork!!
The man. The myth. The mouse.
DCA Christmas Tree is up!

We get to see Avengers Campus for the first time. I see a lot of people online complaining that it’s not impressive enough for them….makes me wonder what they are smoking. Good grief. They have taken the useless “A Bug’s Land” and turned it into something very impressive. Would it be even more impressive if they had more space for it? OF COURSE. But given the amount of room they had to work with, this is just fabulous. There is only currently one attraction here – Spider-Man’s Web Slingers, which is fabulous – but there is still a lot to see and do.

The little Spider-Man show is terrific, but there are also shows featuring Dr. Strange, Black Widow, Black Panther and Captain America, if I am remember correctly. Rumors have it that you can encounter Shang-Chi, Loki and Zombie Captain America as well if you time it right. We saw Thor on top of the Avengers Campus building, next to the Avengers QuinJet. That building is going to house the second E-Ticket attraction, coming in the next year or two.

Before we call it a night, we get through all three rides in Cars Land. Radiator Springs Racers is still one of the top 2 or 3 rides in all of the resort, IMO.

I am tired, but determined to make it through the evening. The park closes at 10, and Tracey (little miss nappy-poo) is raring to go and wants to park-hop to Disneyland for the last couple hours. OK, I can do that. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

9:00 PM – WHEW. The wife hit a wall. Thank GOD. 🙂

9:30 PM – We are heading out of the park when I notice that the Grizzly River Run is a walk-on. Well, this will be the last ride of the night, who cares if I get soaked?? I get Tracey to carry everything I am carrying and she heads to the room, while I get in a nighttime river rapids adventure. I get my own ride vehicle! I have never been on this ride at night, and it’s exhilarating to not be able to see where you are going. I get pretty wet, but not obscenely so. Tons of fun to experience an old attraction in a very new way.

That’s it for tonight! We hit the sack, with plans to be up early again tomorrow for breakfast with Minnie and Friends! Stay tuned!

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Wine blogger, foodie, traveler.

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