Hang out with me under the Palm Valley Bridge this magnificent evening!
You know - Jacksonville really is a City Of Bridges. So much activity happens underneath them - never mind how many cars traverse the top of them. I find bridges really fascinating, and they’re quite a good hang out spot as well. Added bonus - Anywhere there’s a bridge in The Sunshine State, there will be some shade underneath. So whether you’re hiding from a hot sun and cooling off in the shade, fishing the day away, or simply enjoying the views, be sure to spend some time underneath a Florida bridge next time you’re here.
So I really hope you enjoy this evening live along the Intracoastal Waterway in the Palm Valley area of Ponte Vedra Beach. Situated between Jacksonville and St. Augustine. There’s so much nature to soak in here. Birds, jumping fish, hawks, tons and tons of little crabs scurrying about, and we just missed seeing a gator before going live.
Plus, we had an absolutely phenomenal meal at the Palm Valley Outdoor Bar & Grill, just before we went live. We ordered the garlic shrimp appetizer, and then we both had the burger and fries for dinner. I highly recommend the Palm Valley Outdoor Bar & Grill. We’ve been there many, many times, and for some very special reasons - that I discuss on the livestream. I also wrote a blog article about this restaurant in the past, back from when restaurants reopened in 2020. So be sure to check that out, as it was the first restaurant we ate at after everything had been closed for a long while.
The Palm Valley Outdoor Bar & Grill is located just under the Palm Valley Bridge at:
377 S. Roscoe Blvd. #2
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida 32082
Filmed LIVE Saturday, September 30, 2023, in Palm Valley, Florida.
Thanks for being here with me, and I would LOVE for you to Subscribe if you’re new to my channel, and Like this video, if you enjoy seeing the sights and sounds of The Sunshine State.
#palmvalley #intracoastal #florida
When The Last Supper took place - no one, except Jesus, knew what was to come.
Because, sometimes, you just don’t really know that it’s actually The Last Supper, until The Last Supper is completely over with. Done. Finished... Time, and actions, have both passed. Jesus hung on the cross… and then it hits you - that was the last time you were able to dine with Him.
Would you have done something differently? Had you known it would be the final time? The final meal?
Would you have asked Him a different set of questions?
Would you have had a different sort of conversation?
Had a second helping of bread and butter?
Would you have ordered every dessert on the menu?
Because - what the heck - it IS The Last Supper, of course. Of all the meals in all the world, now is the time to order the chocolate lava cake, with vanilla ice cream on top, draped in chocolate syrup, and then topped with sprinkles and a cherry on top.
Over the last few months, #lastsupper might have well been trending every single day.
Because with every conversation I have had with another human being - this meal - this act - was a topic of conversation…
Where was your last dinner out?
What did you order?
Who were you with?
And even - what did you talk about?
Ahh, who were you with??? Before quarantine took us all over.
Were you with the ones you are with right now?
Were you with loved ones you now have not seen in eight weeks?
Separated by an invisible plague.
A plague that is wreaking havoc on civilization itself.
Were you celebrating a special occasion during that final meal? Or was the dinner out nothing special at all?... Just another day, just another outing. Not really having given it a passing thought.
Yes, everyone has their own Last Supper right now. We all dined out one last time before shut-down orders took over the globe. And restaurants shut their doors. Some for a short time. And sadly, some forever more. And at-home cooking and dining became the new way of life. Either that, or a whole heck of a lot of take-out, delivery, and curbside service, which started enmasse, in the wake of the pandemic.
There are lots of meaningful moments in a person’s life. Many moments that, when they are taking place, the person does not know it’s the last time. That’s why the old adage…
Live each day as if it were your last.
You don’t know what you’ve got, till it’s gone.
So, maybe now is the time to ask yourself: Are you living each day? Yes, even during quarantine. Are you fully alive? Each and every single day. Regardless of place? Circumstance? Location? Setting? Situation? Finances? Limitations? Roadblocks? Mystery? Scarcity? Hope? Fear?
I am. And I have been, living, each day.
For three years.
I am fully ALIVE.
Or no pandemic.
I am alive. And I am living my very best life.
I was fully alive before the world changed, and I am extremely grateful to be fully alive during it. And I’m still completely and 100% alive, as the world awakens, opens up their front doors, and steps off their front porches… many, for the first time, in a very long time.
You see, I was already out there… standing in the street… looking inward, toward humanity, inside their houses. Just waiting for y'all to come on out again. And join me. In life.
Because life - in Florida - means fresh air. While it was winter, and a cold and rainy spring, in many areas of the country, during this horrific shutdown, living in Florida during this plague was an extra special blessing to be from God Himself.
I was able to still walk outside, and get fresh, warm air, every single day. I was able to sit on my balcony, outside, every single day. I was able to literally soak in my vitamin D. The vitamin they keep discussing in the news as being imperative to fight CoVid19.
So, I’m happy to FINALLY see and hear of many other people starting their own venture outward. Yes, even New York is seeing signs of hope and life again. So, as the weather turns warmer, and brighter, in other parts of the world, many others can now also soak in their daily vitamin D. Have their coffee on their balconies. And get outside.
I’m happy to be joined with the sea of humanity as they open their front doors.
Many are afraid.
Many are terrified.
Many are following guidelines, plans, and executive, gubernatorial orders, or newly enacted city ordinances.
And, yes, many are stepping off their front porch steps at the very same time.
So, I’m out here to say to those who are starting out right now...
There’s a life to live out there.
Life is happening - whether we know it or not - whether we like it or not - and whether we want it to or not.
And life is, merely and once again, your reaction, to other actions.
I am showing you my reaction.
As the national guidelines, and statewide safer-at-home orders were slowly and gradually lifted in The Sunshine State… businesses started opening back up. Over these last many weeks, signs of optimism grew by the day.
Little by little. They opened their doors.
Many, very many in fact, are still shuttered, didn’t make it. But just as many, have once again opened.
With limited indoor seating, and tables spaced safely apart from one another, and nearly unlimited outdoor seating in the fresh air, lots of outdoor patios are having the times of their lives right now.
People are craving normalcy. People want to socialize. And people want to go out to eat.
Well, we, in Florida, were able to finally do just that.
For the first time in over two months.
We dined out.
We sat outside. We were far away from other humans. And we had a great meal. As we gazed at a gorgeous, waterfront setting.
We traveled down the winding Palm Valley Road toward the bridge.
Nestled and tucked under that large expanse of a hovering bridge is the Palm Valley Outdoors Bar & Grill. Located at 377 South Roscoe Boulevard in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, the location really is perfect as well.
On a bright and shiny and blue sky day, we arrived at the Grill for a lovely lunch outing.
We planned our outing to go earlier in the day, rather than later. My work schedule has me going to bed early, so we usually end up with a lot of lunches out - instead of dinners.
But considering this was a first meal of sorts, and it was a birthday celebration, both hubby and I were extra excited to arrive - no matter what the time was.
We knew it would take a while. We knew they had just recently opened to the public once again for dine-in service. We were prepared to wait, long.
And all their signage around the building told me another story… That they were open during the worst. That they were doing curbside pick up - and even dock side pick up, for boaters.
I was extra grateful to be a dine-in patron that day.
We had about a one and a half hour wait… They had told us about 35 minutes, it ended up being a lot longer, obviously.
We knew what we were getting into by dining at a restaurant just after an official re-opening to the public. In my mind, I treated this outing as the equivalent of visiting a restaurant on their first day of operation - a new business. A restaurant’s first day is always a huge mountain to climb. Always a challenge. And yet, no one seemed to be bothered by the wait. But it’s kinda hard to be bothered with anything at all when this is the setting:
Besides, what can one expect during a global plague, with food supply chains completely disrupted… We went more so for the experience, and what food we got - we got, in our book. And the wait - was the wait.
During that extended wait, I ordered two lemonades from the bar, and hubby ordered a birthday margarita, and then a beer on tap.
The lemonade was very, very small, and I drank it in about three gulps. Hubby’s alcohol lasted much longer than both my drinks.
We sat, in the partial shade on the wooden dock, feet hanging over the water, for a long time. After a while of watching boats go past, quite peacefully, we found some wooden adirondack chairs and decided to move. The entire wait was pleasant and calm and very enjoyable to watch all the activity going past. In that time period, we saw countless boats arrive and depart the dock. I’d say as many boats as cars coming and going from the parking lot. So this is definitely a popular spot for boaters to stop enroute.
The sun was at its hottest and brightest part of the day overhead. After seeing the dining area patio baking in the afternoon sun, we then asked for a table in the shade. They told us the wait would be much longer.
All the tables had spaces for umbrellas but there were no umbrellas to be had.
When we finally sat at our shaded table we were quite hungry and very much ready to order.
Our hostess had gloves on.
Our server had gloves on.
We ordered two side salads with a balsamic dressing. A delicious salad that, for the first time in two months, we didn’t have to prepare and cut all the fresh ingredients ourselves.
For our main course, we then each ordered two burgers with fries. Um, because, no fried food at home for two months - need I say more?
Hubby had the bacon and cheese burger, and I had the original burger. It was served hot and fresh, straight off the grill. Medium well, and perfectly done. Fresh lettuce, tomato, and onion. It was superb.
I cut my burger in half, and had the other half for dinner that night - my way of watching calorie intake during that outing.
The steak French fries were from Heaven. Because - again - key word being - fried.
We chose not to have dessert there, as I had special-ordered a few cupcakes from Cinotti’s Bakery to act as the birthday cake dessert, that we would eat at home later that evening.
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal. But the setting was what we especially enjoyed. And it was the action itself of dining out. Leaving the house, driving to a restaurant, reading a menu, and dining amongst others, that was most important to us on that date.
Overall, the Palm Valley Outdoors Bar & Grill was a lovely experience. A great birthday outing. And a fabulous place to try if it happens to be your First Supper as well. The tables are spaced plenty distance apart, and the restaurant is following all the cleaning protocols in place. With employees wearing gloves, and lots of santitzing tables between customers. The setting is more than ideal, with the Intracoastal as a backdrop, and tucked just under and off to the side of the Palm Valley Bridge.
You’ll enjoy the boats coming and going. Paddleboarders going north and south. And you may especially enjoy the countless doggies - sitting on the edge of their owner’s boats. Also taking in all the sights and sounds… and smells… of the salt life, and good food.
It is my sincere hope that for those of you in states where restaurants have also been approved to reopen, just like in Florida, that you use the experience of my First Supper, as a push to get out there yourself. For those still anxiously waiting for your own First Supper. Go ahead and get ready now. Your time is coming. To start your own venture outside. To open your own front door. To step off that front porch. Find yourself an open restaurant. Wait All The Minutes. Get seated. And have a lovely meal. Have your very own First Supper. And, what the heck, maybe even order dessert while you’re at it.
It’s ok to be scared. And by all means, it’s also mostly certainly ok - to be very uncertain. And, just like The Last Supper, it’s ok if you don’t yet know when your First Supper will be. Just keep it in mind. Plan for it. Get it in your head. Because one day, and maybe when you least expect it, it will come to you.
And you can ask yourself - will you be fully alive on that fateful day? Will you be living that day like it’s your last on this Earth? Will you remember the moment - so you know what you’ve got, when it’s gone? And then, finally, who will you be with when that date arrives? ~
And for many more dining out opportunities in The Sunshine State - check out the variety of my restaurant reviews, right here:
57] First Watch on the First Coast
53] Totally Terrific & Tasty Thai @ Blue Orchid Thai Cuisine
45] Dessert First, My Friends ~ Cantina Louie
40] Visiting The Florida Cracker Kitchen ~ Jacksonville
35] Happiest Of Holidays @ Hawkers Asian Street Fare
29] Dinner & A Show ~ The 26th Annual St. Augustine Nights of Lights
15] V Pizza ~ The Very Best Pizza In Jax Beach!
*Part of ~ Bean’s Best ~ Award Winner 2019
11] Eleven South Bistro & Bar ~~ Supper Club Of The South
5] The Reef On SR A1A: Worth Pulling Over For
4] The Boathouse @ Disney Springs ~ Disney Dining At Its Best
Plus, you may be interested in some of my other pandemic related thoughts, theories, activities, and other such ponderings - down below:
73] What I’m Missing Right Now
69] Chaunie’s Coffee Truck
*Part of - Bean’s Coffee Shop Challenge - series
68] A Sunday Stroll
65] The Sea Life ~ Happy Easter
64] Stay-At-Home Sunday ~ Palm Sunday
63] Mercy & Comfort
62] PERSPECTIVE @ Seaside Sculpture Park
61] Bean’s Idea List ~ 15 Daily Activities For Well Beyond 15 Days
59] REACTION ~ To World War 19
This December marks my third holiday season living in the South. And while I’ve already enjoyed seemingly countless new, exciting, and very different holiday traditions each winter here, there’s always something else I want to try, or add to my must-do list. Many of these events and outings are completely unique to Florida, Florida’s history, and, unlike Chicago - with the fact that bodies of water are not frozen solid, or on their way to be, down here in December - it means a whole lot of those holiday traditions involve the water in some way or manner.
St. Augustine’s 26th Annual Nights of Lights is one such event that I’ve incorporated into my holiday traditions here on the First Coast. And this year I planned my outing to be centered entirely around the coastal and inlet waters of Vilano Beach, Matanzas River, Anastasia Island, and the very historic city of St. Augustine itself.
I’ve seen the St. Augustine Lights each year here thus far. But mostly I’ve gazed at the lights just quickly touring or driving through, so this year I wanted to do things a little bit different.
Red Boat Water Tours - docked at the Vilano Beach Pier - hosts a nightly boat tour of the coastal waters which reflect the lights surrounding all the beauty in the city.
We booked our boat ride months in advance. The tour is so very popular it sells out way ahead of time for each evening they take on customers during the entire holiday season.
We had been on this exact boat tour during the day time with my family when they were in town for a visit about a year and a half ago now. We witnessed lots of dolphins swimming about during that ride, as we listened to the captain tell us many stories about the great history of St. Augustine. So I was pretty excited about gaining a different perspective of the city this year, at night, once the waters were completely dark, and with the lighthouse acting as a true beacon surrounding our entire ride, and all the magnificence of the lights display bordering the entire shore line.
Tours start at $40.00 per person, plus fees, and our original total came to over $90.00. However, since we had been customers in the past, they had offered us a repeat rider discount specifically for the Nights of Lights Tour, with fairly significant savings - it nearly halved our total cost. This repeat customer deal was better than any other sales/codes/online deals offered.
Honestly, the large discount is the only reason I booked the tour. I personally think we would never have paid this much to go back on the same boat we had already been on - as I tend to try different things each year, especially those that cost significant money. While tending to keep the traditions that cost next to nothing or are completely free. Sugar cookies, anyone?
I also planned for us to have dinner at Beaches at Vilano in advance of the tour. It makes sense to me to try a restaurant we’ve never been especially when we’re right there in the vicinity.
Our ride started at 7:15pm going through 8:30. Red Boat asks in the fine print for us to arrive about 15-20 minutes ahead of time. The restaurant is just opposite the pier and basically shares the same parking. So I planned our dinner for 5:30. That gave us enough time to work a full day, drive down, eat a leisurely meal, including time for a quick dessert, then head on over to our awaiting horse-drawn open sleigh upon the warm waters.
Dinner was just fine. I say that meaning there was absolutely nothing wrong with it, while at the same time it wasn’t the best meal of my life. It ended up being roughly half the cost as our anniversary meal at The Reef, which is located just down the street a bit… so the lesser cost was fabulous. And despite it not being the absolute best, I do recommend stopping in Beaches if you get a chance.
The atmosphere and the views are worth it alone. You will be transported instantly into vacation mode there - whether you’re on vacation, or not. And there are no complaints here about vacation mode.
At 5:30pm on a Tuesday, in December, they were quite busy. They had some very large parties already seated, mostly corporate and holiday parties going on, but each table was filled. They were busy enough that we were lucky to get seated right away, have our meal, with just enough time remaining for getting out to our boat tour immediately after. We had tried for reservations - but they do not accept. Make sure to allot for enough time if you are planning the same holiday outing.
I ordered a plain iced tea, skipped the soup, salads and appetizers, and had the flat iron steak with a side of broccoli - extra broccoli - skip the plantains, for my main course.
This is how I stay healthy or even somewhat healthy while dining out. I researched the menu in advance online. I logged into MyFitnessPal in the morning to plot out my calories for the day. And I knew exactly what I was ordering for dinner. After massive weight loss, I’m not about to go back to where I was. While I receive lots of questions asking me how I maintain the loss...it's a daily plan just like it was during the loss. Even more so afterward, I’d say, than during, sometimes.
Healthy decisions have to be part of the new and changed lifestyle. Wherever I am. Whatever options are available to me. And most especially when coming face to face with the almighty and highly coveted FRENCH FRY.
No, I never met a potato I didn’t like.
Don’t get me wrong, I still eat burgers and fries, just infrequently. The meal I selected for this outing is loaded with nutrients from the broccoli and is heavy on the protein from the steak. And nothing fried.
The protein helps the tummy feel full, and takes longer to digest, upping the metabolism. The harder the body has to work to process the food, the more calories it burns in the process. That’s why protein is a major perk to weight loss. And, the broccoli’s many and countless benefits will basically go without saying for right now and the purposes of this post, as the perks of eating it should be self-explanatory for most. Hence, the large plate of broccoli.
My only critique of this dish, at this restaurant, is that I would recommend the steak and broccoli be served on separate plates. The juices/sauces/butters/etc. from both dishes were already mixed together by the time my plate was served to me, and it didn’t take long for the entire dish to taste all the same. And when everything tastes the same, it’s becomes increasingly less appealing. Leading to less enjoyment from me, leading to my hubby’s meal becoming more and more appealing and quite tempting to me by the second.
Here is the hubby’s meal.
He ordered the burger with fries, and a side of grilled shrimp. He loved the shrimp, and everything else was exceptional. His margarita was just right.
We ordered the volcano cake with vanilla ice cream, berries, and topped with a berry sauce to split for dessert. This allowed us to still have a treat for the night, a special treat since we were out, but splitting saved on calories immensely as well as cost.
We received our volcano cake - minus the volcano. Sad face.
My husband didn’t know what a volcano cake was, so I was excited to split it open to show how the chocolate should pour out like lava, but, sadly, that did not happen. It was very, very dry. But while the cake was not as it should have been - it was still edible - it was C H O C O L A T E…. after all. No problem there - not a drop of it left by the end of the meal - we had the plate clean for them and ready to pop in the dishwasher, no pre-rinse needed.
After our dinner at Beaches was complete, we walked right on out to the very lonely looking pier.
It was dark. And desolate.
I instantly thought we had the wrong day.
I was just about to check my phone for information. But alas, we kept walking down toward the dock, and I could see red lights.Our Rudolph.
Our boat was there. Our Red Boat. It was just near empty and no one else was around - within an area that us usually fairly populated - any time of day.
Apparently, right before our arrival there was a miscommunication between tour boat companies and all the riders standing out on the dock waiting to board their respective boats.
Another tour company out of the same dock had some problems with their boat, sent everyone away, and when those people left, nearly all of the customers for our Red Boat left as well. So we were riding on a sold-out boat ride, and had most of the boat to ourselves. If you book this outing, don’t be afraid to call to verify if something’s up upon your arrival. And know there are many boating companies out in the area touring customers around. If one sends people away, confirm it’s your ride before leaving.
It was a lovely ride. A chilly ride. A dark ride.
With the sun long ago set, we were riding past all the low and tidal areas in the dark, with the lighthouse as a breathtaking backdrop in the black skies. Our boat captain told us some stories along the way. We learned of the ancient history surrounding Nights of Lights - something I had never heard before.
I knew there were many reasons floating around online of how the Lights came to be an annual tradition within the town 26 years ago. And that the story of the light in the window tradition had potentially dated back to ancient times. But I knew no real specifics.
Our boat captain told us his version… He said it all started with Jesus.
Jesus. As a refugee baby. No room at the Inn. In need of safe passage. Safe housing for the night. When the Spanish settled here on the historic First Coast hundreds of years ago, they put lights in their windows at night during the holiday season. To act as a beacon.
A beacon for weary travelers.
A light to welcome Jesus.
Jesus has room at their Inns.
A beacon of hope to the world.
Of all the stories I heard about the Lights, and why they exist, and why people still put candles in their windows to this day, I like the Jesus version. Baby Jesus… sleeping in the hay.
I’ll choose Jesus.
But regardless of why lights are put in the window displays, and which version and which stories are true, and which are legend in town… as the town itself has countless legends - the lights themselves are absolutely fabulous. You can choose which story you like. Which fits your reason as to why you light your way and what you choose to light your way with.
Just always choose the light - over the darkness - and you’ll be good to go.
They offered us heavy wool blankets onboard. They came in handy. We absolutely froze. I wore a turtleneck, the only long pair of pants I own, and one of the only closed-toe shoes I own, my new winter puffy down coat, plus ear muffs, gloves, hood, and brought two blankets of our own, as they served us hot chocolate. It was 53 degrees outside.
We both froze near to death. It had just been in the mid 80’s a second ago, this was an ice age. We laughed at ourselves as if we were delirious. 53 degrees in Chicago in December is a heat wave. Break out the ice cream and sit on the front lawn with it. Open the windows!
Now we were Floridian Fools covered in blankets. Not allowing our fingers and cheeks to feel the air if we can at all help it. I can already picture myself next year..., I’ll have the big Ugg boots to match. I already know it. How else can I get through another Florida winter? Either that, or we are moving to the Equator.
No other sensible or reasonable or sane-minded options exist.
I mentioned the cold makes us delirious now, right?
If you’re a local and booking this ride, dress appropriately. Bring blankets. Pack for summiting Mount Everest.
If you’re a tourist and here on vacation from anywhere up North, never fear, you’ll feel like you’re in the tropical paradise of your dreams as your boat captain plays ‘Pontoon’ from Little Big Town as you race off toward the lights of the night.
Know that if you are looking to obtain quality photos, they will be hard to come by. With all the movement, added into the darkness, even with my hubby’s better camera, we couldn’t really capture the moment digitally with any great detail. Our best photo remains at the top of this post. If the boat had come to a complete stop, plus a tripod, then, maybe, we’re talking. But some things can’t be caught on camera I guess. You know, like Santa Claus. I tend to never capture a great full quality image of him, but I know he’s out there.
If you are in the area, definitely check it out. It’s a holiday tradition and celebration in a beautifully historic town, for all to enjoy, regardless of background, beliefs, and a lovely addition to a family holiday tradition as well. After all, in constant learning about different beliefs and traditions and reasons why others might put candles in the window each December, we are reminded that while we are all different, we are also all the same. Everybody wants Hope. Everyone wants Light.
I’ll choose not to do the ride again as it was costly. But, next year, I plan to view the Lights on foot, in town… off from the water's edge... and on solid ground.
I’ll travel up close and personal.
I want to see the fire lamps.
I want to see the Christmas trees in the window displays. I want to walk the town and see the lights as close as possible. I want to listen for the sound of reindeer hooves on roof tops. And most importantly, I want to look for Santa Claus… I tend to believe he might be hanging around all the dreamy chocolate shops and gift shops and restaurants… blended in amongst the gorgeous and magical Lights of St. Augustine. Yes, those shops seem like a good place to start on my hunt for the big SC. But for now, I’ll enjoy my memory of a coastal Christmas holiday on the water’s edge. ~
Is a trip to Walt Disney World complete without a visit to Disney Springs? If you classify yourself as a professional shopper then definitely don’t let Disney Springs pass you by. After completing a vast and extensive renovation a few years back, the original Disney Shopping Village Marketplace, and then Downtown Disney, was officially rebranded to Disney Springs. With that rebranding came a whole new array of food and fun.
ou can now literally spend an entire day, or a full morning, afternoon, or evening at the Springs, and never once run out of something to do. Many more stores were added, some pricey, some reasonable. I didn’t run into anything that would be considered low cost, but you can definitely make your own fun too with little to no money involved. Parking is still free, thank goodness. And there is usually live entertainment on stage by the World of Disney store every time I’ve visited recently. So grab a coffee from Joffrey’s (a storefront Joffrey’s!) and stroll around the West Side, the Landing, and the Marketplace, for a nice outing outside of the ticketed Disney Parks.
On this particular visit we we were searching for dinner reservations at The Boathouse. I was trying to reserve dining through the My Disney Experience app, but I ended up booking dinner through OpenTable. The Disney app has given me nothing but grief and trouble for at least a few years now. So finally, after countless attempts to resolve, I took some drastic Disney action and deleted the app from my phone altogether. As a formerly huge Disney fan (now just a casual fan) this was a big step for me to take, but it had to be done. The app officially would not let me reserve anything anymore, rendering it almost totally useless for me. One of the issues was that it kept asking for an updated credit card, and I gave it this information more than you really want to even know. Error processing notifications were constant. Well, if you don’t give The Mouse your money, The Mouse doesn’t let you play. Dining reservations, theme park tickets, hotel reservations, mobile quick service food, drink, and snack ordering, etc, are all on the app now, and all need your credit card. My husband had the same problem, consistently, and it wasn’t our cards. We were able to reserve over the phone if we called just fine. It was definitely the app. The app also would not recognize a change of address or any other profile update I attempted. I always had to call, and wait in queue, to do anything with Disney.
I needed to find a new way to book a dinner reservation with Disney, without wasting too much of my time, and had just about to given up on Disney Springs altogether when I went to my Opentable app. When I searched restaurants in Orlando many of the Springs restaurants came up as available. I was shocked actually because after booking countless dining reservations through Disney in the past, and aware of their ‘if you don’t show up’ fee per person applied to your credit card on the reservation, it ended up being so easy to book Disney dining through OpenTable. And a credit card wasn’t needed, and I earned points in the process as well.
We did end up at The Boathouse for dinner, and it was one of the most fabulous dinners of my life in Florida. Having dined there in the past on a trip to Florida before moving down here, at the time I remember thinking the exact same thing - one of the best meals of my life. And that was when I lived in the Chicago area, where the best food in the world comes from, no joke. I do have a theory on why I love the food at The Boathouse so much. It’s owned by Gibson’s, a Chicago based restaurant group. Naturally, the Chicago-instilled history of The Boathouse is why the food is so darn good, of course.
As soon as our server first came to greet us at our table I noticed his Disney name tag as being from Chicago, IL. ‘Ooooh!’ I said, surprised. ‘You’re from Chicago! We are from the Chicago area and moved down a few years ago.’
He said he and his wife had done the same thing. Why would anyone live with those harsh winters?!... We all agreed and laughed.
It turns out he grew up in my hometown, and went to the high school just across town. He took our order and asked if we were in a hurry? ‘No,’ we said, ‘definitely not.’
We weren’t going to the theme parks, had zero fast pass reservations to rush off to, and were not watching fireworks anywhere that evening. THIS was our entertainment. Knowing we were not in a rush, he said he would bring out our courses on a leisurely basis, instead of the quick pace that some might need and require while on a Disney vacation.
Well, I had the best, most flavorful, and absolutely lovely meal of my life. So simple yet so good. Shrimp cocktail to start, tomato salad, and filet mignon sliders for the main course. Afterward we said goodbye to our server and wished him well on our way out. The rest of the evening we spent going in some shops that I hardly ever get a chance to visit.
On the way back to our hotel we stopped at Twistee Treat for dessert. Which I have officially-unofficially classified as the best and most quintessential ice cream shop in all of Orlando. I first learned about Twistee Treat from Teresa Echols @ The Dis, (one of my favorite Dis team members by the way) and then, I saw the cone in The Florida Project and knew I had to try it. I’ve been to Twistee Treat a number of times now and it does not disappoint. LOVE that place! So while a professional shopper needs to visit Disney Springs, an ice cream aficionado needs to go to Twistee Treat.
Back at the hotel after a lovely evening, I reflected on the night’s experience. Once again, I reminded myself that it’s those little things — those small interactions with cast members — laughing hysterically at the shared trauma of experiencing Chicago winters in the past that we have said goodbye to, magical moments with family and friends, and of course, good food.
I may not be a Disney Annual Passholder anymore. Nor a Disney Vacation Club Member, Tables in Wonderland card holder, or even a Disney shareholder any longer. Heck - they are even ripping out my brick on the walking path in front of the Magic Kindgom this year! But my history with Disney runs deep, and I do respect that past. I know that without Disney and without Walt, I simply would not be who I am today or where I am today, literally and figuratively. I’m 38, with no children, and I have always known that if I ever had a boy he would be named Walt. That fact remains today. I love Walt and thank him for the kindness he left in this world. So while my Disney fan status has dropped significantly in the past few years, most of which is due to massive — and what I deem simply harsh — price increases to experience anything Disney present day, there will always be a place in my heart for The Mouse, even if he is no longer on my phone.
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