Whew!  A weekend in Orlando flies by.  Around spring break, we usually try to head out of town to spend a week in Orlando at Jess's parent's condo.  This year, Dave's schedule was a tad different since he doesn't work for the school system anymore so a week away just wasn't in the books.
We made a long weekend out of it and went Thursday afternoon to Sunday morning.  We flew out Thursday afternoon so we'd arrive to Orlando early in the evening and have the night to explore.

What do you do when you're all checked in at the airport and still have a couple of hours to kill?  Grab yourself a couple of bloody marys and just relax.  Delays happen, make the most of them.

Once we landed, we got our rental car and headed straight for the condo.  It was already much later than expected (thanks to the flight delay) and we were ready to settle in and get some sleep.

We arrived at Bahama Bay Resort (where the condo is located) got checked in, ate dinner and laid our stuff out for the next morning because we were headed to Disney's Animal Kingdom!

Neither of us had been to Animal Kingdom since we were younger, and were both looking forward to experiencing it again.  Usually, we always visit Magic Kingdom while we are in Orlando.  

Jess can't go to Disney without going to Magic Kingdom, but since we were only there for a weekend we opted for one park and decided we wanted to give Animal Kingdom a shot.  

Last year, we did two parks... Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  We hadn't been to Epcot since we were younger and wanted to experience it as adults.  After all, it really is the "adult park" at Disney.  

Hollywood Studios is on our list to check out again, but just isn't that high on the list.  It was MGM when we were both there last and although we'd like to see it again, we haven't talked ourselves into giving up a day at one of the others.  If you love Hollywood Studios, tell us why we need to go!

After our visit to Animal Kingdom this time around, the park comes in at number ONE on Dave's ranking of Disney Parks and number TWO on Jessica's.  We both really loved Animal Kingdom!  

We had the best day exploring the park and checking out Pandora - The World of Avatar.  Seriously, so cool!  To check out all of the details from our awesome day at Animal Kingdom, click here.

Saturday, we took full advantage of sleeping in later than usual.  Disney wears you out!  We don't know how people do all out Disney family vacations and spend back to back days at the parks.  You either sneak back to your Disney resort for nap time with the littles, or you are super human.  

We typically start our days at Disney at least an hour before the park opens and stay until close.  We literally maximize every second we are there.  Jess grew up with days like this at Disney and has carried on the tradition of not missing any magic.  #sorrydave

We made a stop at our favorite local stand, Ridge Island Groves, to pick up 100% natural fresh squeezed OJ.  This is a must when you are in Florida - there's just nothing like the real thing.  We luck out with their stand being right around the corner from the condo.  

Then, we grabbed our morning coffee and headed to the pool to enjoy a quiet, relaxing morning.   The forecast for this day was predicting cloud coverage most of the day and cooler temperatures.  We spent an hour or so by the pool and then decided to head to the outlets for some shopping.  

Everyone else in Orlando seemed to have the same idea.  Apparently the weather had been gorgeous all week and with the given forecast, people planned to do their shopping this day as well.  We also now know that Saturdays are also usually the most crowded.  Ah, we know now.

There are two major outlet shopping centers in Orlando and although they tend to be busy, this was certainly a different crowded than we were use to.  The Vineland Outlets are closer to us, so that's where we went.  They have surface parking, $10 indoor (garage covered) and $15 valet.

The stores themselves didn't seem extremely busy, but the food court was similar to the parking situation.  A cashier even used the word savages to describe shoppers... he wasn't wrong.

We planned to head to Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) for the evening to hang out and get dinner.  We love The Boathouse and knew we wanted to go there for one of our two dinners.  

Disney Springs appeared to be a little busier than usual as well, but we got there a little before five o'clock and were seated right away.  It probably would have been a different story if we had gotten there an hour or two later, or if we were with a larger party.  #kirkpartyoftwo

Dinner lived up to all our hype.  We enjoyed the steamed mussels in cioppino broth, which is why we fell in love with this place the very first time we visited.  They serve bread rolls covered in a buttery, sweet honey sauce that are so, so good... another thing we love about this place.

Dave enjoyed a special of the evening... tilefish covered in a Louisiana butter sauce with andoie sausage, crawfish, peppers and rice.  It was absolutely delicious and such a beautiful dish.  

Each time we have visited, Dave has ordered one of the specials.  Their specialty menu typically features fresh dishes that are in season.  Always check out the specials before making your selection.

Jess had the jumbo lump crab cake.  Seriously, the largest crab cake we had ever seen.  It took up the entire plate and was all crab.

We decided to hold off on dessert so that we could get something from Ghirardelli instead... another tradition that Jess can't quite give up. #somethingsneverchange

We called it quits at Disney Springs before nine so that we could head back to the condo to enjoy the hot tub and rent a movie.  It was a great way to relax after all of the walking we did the day before at Animal Kingdom... over 12 miles with more than 17 standing hours.  

Our weekend away happened to fall on Easter.  We didn't really plan it like this, it was just the weekend that worked best for us to travel.  On Sunday morning, we woke up early to find an egg the Easter Bunny had dropped off to let us know we weren't forgotten about and that our baskets were at home.

This Easter was different for us since we are #allabouttraditions and weren't home with family.  Although, if things are going to be different... Disney is the best excuse.  We wished everyone a Happy Easter from the happiest place on earth and enjoyed the warm Florida sunshine!

We threw on our swimsuits, grabbed coffee and spent the most beautiful morning by the pool.  It was peaceful and quiet and the perfect way to enjoy an Easter service if you couldn't actually be there.

The weather worked out well for our plans each day.  Sunday was our full on "pool day" it was absolutely perfect.  The sun was out all day and the temperature kept rising.  It's always so nice when you're traveling and the weather cooperates how you'd like it to.

We hung out hard by the pool all. day. long.  
Sunscreen, check!  Water bottle, check!  Hat, check!

The resort has an on-site restaurant so we had lunch poolside and continued enjoying the view.  Dave had the fried mahi sandwich (his favorite from their menu) while Jess had the chicken caesar.  Their food is really good and reasonably priced.  Plus, they have fun refreshing drinks!

Bahama Bay has four pools (two larger, two smaller) in addition to a spray pad for littles.  The pool by the clubhouse is heated, but we always hang out at the pool with the lake behind it.  

This pool has a beach area which is great to enjoy if you aren't visiting the ocean and need some sand in your life.  It's a nice touch and there's a fishing dock on the lake.  It really is a perfect set up!  

After coming in from the pool, we relaxed for awhile on the patio and then got ready for another evening at Downtown Disney.  The resort features different condos, ranging in size and amenities.  

We have a screened in patio with a full dining table on the back of ours (something that originally sold Jess's dad on the condo).  With a ceiling fan, it's the perfect place for the entire family to enjoy a meal outside together in the beautiful Florida weather or just a great space to hang out.

We headed to Downtown Disney to enjoy our last night.  It is full of great restaurants and shopping.  We grabbed Hopsen some treats from a cool store to take back with us.  We always try to find something to take her when she can't travel with us.  Yes, she is spoiled and we know it.

We hadn't settled on where we wanted to have dinner this night, and after arriving we decided to try something small from a handful of places.  We tend to do this a lot when we travel because you end up getting to try more.

First, we enjoyed the Lil' Brgs from STK which included two sliders of wagyu beef on a sesame seed bun topped with a special sauce and cute little pickles on the side.  They were SO good!  

Reservations for the night were full, so we sat at the bar and were still able to order from the menu.  After the sliders, we thought about staying there for dinner because they were so tasty.  

Instead, we decided to put it our on list for next time and make advance reservations.  If you're going to have dinner at a restaurant like that, we wanted to take it in from a table instead of the bar and do it right. 

STK is a new(er) restaurant to Disney Springs and although it's a stunning restaurant, their prices are on the higher end.  We hadn't heard much about it and didn't know if it was the new, fresh thing or if their food really was really that good so trying something small was the best way to find out.  We know now the quality of the food is great and fairly matches the price.  So, see ya' next time!

There was rain coming so we hurried and decided on our next stop, Paradiso 37.  They also weren't taking any more reservations for the night so we sat at the bar where we enjoyed their house-made corn tortilla chips served with their house-made fire-roasted salsa... so good!

We waited out the rain while enjoying our chips and salsa... plus some live music.  Rain comes and goes quickly in Florida, don't let it spoil your fun.

There are live performances throughout Disney Springs on the regular.  You'll find it in restaurants and on the streets.  The live entertainment is really unique and there's always fun music around the next corner.  It makes Disney Springs so lively and adds an excitement element.  

We usually spend at least a few evenings here while we're in Orlando and like to suggest it to others when they're going to Disney.  It's especially great if you aren't staying on property and even if you are, it's a great place to get a little Disney feel!

One of our favorite restaurants at Disney Springs is Morimoto.  The menu is so fun and we typically have a reservation there for one night during our stay.  Since we were only staying for the weekend, we hadn't planned on having a full dinner there this time around. 

Their Street Food (casual, quick service) area offers some items from their menu.  We checked that menu out and didn't see what we wanted, so we tried our luck at the bar again and hit the jackpot.  

They have bars on both the first and second floors and we found a great spot upstairs.  We had never sat upstairs before, so we really enjoyed the view.  The restaurant is stunning - every single detail.

We ordered the Buri-Bop which is a korean-style yellowtail rice bowl served in a hot clay pot, finished with egg yolk, prepared tableside.  As it was being prepared, we learned this was the actual dish that chef Masaharu Morimoto used to beat Bobby Flay in the original Iron Chef... how cool!  

The dish itself was an experience as the bowl was between 500-600 degrees and is actually used to cook the yellowtail.  The photo above is how they brought it to the table, and the photo below is how the dish was assembled after it was cooked.  It was absolutely delicious and we both really loved it.

On a whim, we also had Japanese A5 wagyu beef which is sold per ounce (with a three ounce minimum).  It's pricey, but we (especially Dave) wanted to try it.  It's not served many places, so we went ahead and ordered that along with the Buri-Bop (Dave's accent not included in this post). 

The wagyu was also prepared tableside over an ishiyaki grilling stone and served with a sansho peppercorn sauce.  They even used the fat cap of the meat to prepare the stone before cooking.  

A5 is the highest quality given, only to the finest certified beef from Japan.  They even brought a certificate out to show us to prove it's authenticity... seriously!  We have eaten at several great steak restaurants from New York City to the Las Vegas Strip and the quality was absolutely the best we've had.  

We only had 3 ounces between us to share, but it was all we needed to try it and have the experience.  It was a splurge (can you imagine the price of a whole steak?), but well worth it.

There is a new Italian restaurant in Disney Springs, Maria & Enzo's Ristorante.  Again, it's "the new thing" so we weren't ready to try it out for dinner.  However, Pizza Ponte, is a cute little casual quick service stop attached to the restaurant that serves pizza by the slice, sandwiches and desserts. 

It would great place to grab a reasonable dinner at Disney Springs.  Plus, it would be a ideal for families as all of the littles were loving watching them prepare the pizzas.  We originally went for Jess to get a cannoli, but when Dave saw the tiramisu he couldn't resist. #dessertfortwo #wewereonvacation

This wrapped up our time at Disney Springs and the last night of our long weekend getaway to Orlando.  The time went by fast, and we weren't quite ready to go.

We got back to the condo by nine to get things all packed up and set the alarm for an obscene time before heading to bed and trying to get some sleep.  We had an early flight Monday morning... so early that we both made it to work by 8:30 AM.  We gained an hour, but it was still early.  

It was a quick trip, but even quick trips are great getaways.  We'll see you next time, Orlando!
If you are planning to do some outlet shopping and it appears to be crowded, go directly to valet parking and spend the fifteen bucks to avoid dealing with the parking (or lack thereof).

Trying lots of different foods seemed like a good idea, until it was too late and we realized that it probably shouldn't have been our dinner plan the night before a 6:55 AM flight. #tums

If you're going to a Disney Park, do your research!  You need to have already gotten your fast passes and have a game plan for the day, seriously.  Especially if you want to maximize your time.

If you're renting a car, set your GPS to avoid toll roads.  In Florida, these can really sneak up on you and sometimes the difference in time using a toll road versus not isn't all that much.

Sometimes the parking garages at Disney Springs say they're full when they really aren't.  As long as people are pulling in, there are open spots. Plus people come and go like crazy.

If you have a specific place and especially a specific time you're wanting to eat at Disney Springs, or if you have a larger family/group you really should make reservations for the restaurants.

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