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2009 Disney Moms Panel – Out of Africa Into Fairytales Day 3

Forgive me in advance for not doing the dinner we had at Jiko on our third night true justice.  I thought I kept a copy of our menu, but apparently, I did not.  I did not think to take photos, which would have been a wonderful thing to do.  I’m sure Margaret did, because she was MUCH more prepared with a camera than I was.

Jiko is one of my favorite WDW restaurants.  Jim and I first ate there for our 15th wedding anniversary, and loved it so much, we’ve stayed married just to have the opportunity to celebrate all of our wedding anniversaries there!  I was thrilled to see it on the itinerary as one of the fabulous restaurants we would visit during our weekend here, but I could not have anticipated the amazing meal that was put before us!  Course after course, tasty morsel upon tasty morsel.  If they are trying to convince us to sell this restaurant during our Moms Panel tenure, they had me at the salad….

If you have never eaten at Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, you are in for a real culinary treat.  The trend at many WDW restaurants seems to be a move to the generic – many of the same menu items appear from restaurant to restaurant.  Not so with Jiko.  You are going to be delighted with the flavors, the aromas, the feast for the eyes, as each culinary masterpiece is placed before you.  The highlight of my meal was the filet with macaroni and cheese – and I only wish I hadn’t already over indulged on the early courses so I could have enjoyed more of this delicious meal. 

We had been instructed to prepare our bags for our trip to Cinderella’s Castle Suite before we left for dinner, and we were ready.  We brought the bags to the restaurant with us, and at some point, we are instructed to give them to Laura so they can be taken for inspection by the Secret Service – or whoever it is that guards Cinderella Castle when they are not blocking loafers for the president.  As much as we are enjoying the meal, we are anxious to get to the castle!  We have been planning our big wishes – everything from DVC memberships to unlimited Space Mountain Rides to a meet and greet for Margaret with Orlando Bloom!  We’re anxious to get going!

Finally, we ask if we can have our dessert in a take away box because our carriage awaits!  The wonderful staff at Jiko box up cheesecake (which, I have to tell you, never did get eaten – there was just way too much dinner!!), and we head off to meet our coach!

Okay, a little disappointing we are not met by Prince Charming on a beautiful white horse, but really, where would we all sit?  Instead, we are met by Katie in a white Suburban.  Fantasy gives way to a little practicality, but Katie is perfectly nice and we are whisked away to the Magic Kingdom.

It turns out that tonight is one of the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party nights!  Katie tells us that once we are in the suite, it’s not going to be easy to leave due to the stage shows and events for the party, so she offers us the option to hit a few of the attractions.  Those moms who are MUCH younger than me (or than I feel) all vote for the rides, so the lot of us are off to Buzz Lightyear.  It’s FREEZING, and I had not prepared to be in sub-zero temperatures (yeah, yeah, I know, sub-60 was more like it) by bringing my mukluks, but after a spin on Buzz and a ride on Space Mountain (did I mention I am way too old to be galavanting in a theme park at this time of night?  Where’s my hot milk and rocking chair?), even the die hards are ready to just do a quick spin on the Haunted Mansion (ah! Nap time!) and then check in to our suite!

Now, I don’t want to say too much about the suite, so that there is some mystery involved for those very lucky families fortunate enough to win this incredibly opportunity before the Year of a Million Dreams is over.  I will post a few of my pictures without giving away too many of the surprises that await you when you check in…

The robes were the most phenomenal robes anywhere on the planet.  I want one.

The company was the most phenomenal company anywhere on the planet.  I want them all to move closer to me so we can see each other more often!

It was a night I will never forget – the good, the great, and the wonderful aspects of the evening.  And while we promised to keep some of the magic to ourselves, I don’t think the girls will mind if I share this one little story – I hope they’ll correct me if I’m wrong so I can take it down.

So, one of our wishes was to go outside, in our pajamas, and have our picture taken in front of the deserted castle area.  After we went on our rides, got back to the suite, checked everything out, and found our pajamas, we ended up quickly putting them on, topped by those fabulous bathrobes, and waited patiently for our escort to take us outside.  We went down in the elevator, and spent an incredible half hour or so, despite the cold Orlando night air, by ourselves in the Magic Kingdom.  We took photo after photo, admired the Christmas lights and the newly installed tree on Main Street, and marvelled at the castle, dripping with icicles.  Once we realized it was way past the time when our carriage turned back into a pumpkin, we ventured back up to the castle entrance, and we were escorted back to the foyer outside the suite.  We all stood there a minute, presumably to take in the magic of the experience, when we suddenly realized that none of us had a key.  Well, seriously, who carries a key in their pajamas?  We turned to our escort, who was the only clothed one among us, and assumed he would just pop a key out of his pocket and we would be counting Z’s in a matter of seconds.  Um, no.  He doesn’t have a key either.  This presents a bit of a dilemma.  It doesn’t take too long for him to figure out that he has to go and make a key, so we stay, admiring Cinderella’s glass slipper, waiting for him to come back and let us in.  I do believe we are the ONLY family in nearly 365 days to lock ourselves out of the suite.  But it was a great photo op for those of us who missed the pictures of the slipper earlier in the weekend!

Once back into the suite, Jo and Joanne made some phone calls home, and we sorted out the sleeping arrangements.  The beds were so comfortable, the pillows just perfect, and the comforter just warm enough.  That Cinderella sures knows a lot about making guests comfortable!

Our carriage has to have us back to the Coronado Springs resort early early early tomorrow morning so we can shower and be ready for our video shoot, so we finally all start to drift off to sleep at about 2:30 in the morning.  Our wake up call is set for Get the Hell Outta Here Waking Me This Early-thirty, and we are all hoping that one wish is magically granted – a talented make up artist on the scene to cover up the dark circles under our eyes!