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Old 06-01-2009, 12:44 PM   #1
danapsimer
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Default Just got back from AKV and HHI

I had planned to do this while in the world but I just didn't find time to sit down and write them so here I am the day after driving back and I will give you folks a report.

On Friday May 22nd we drove out of Atlanta very late. We wanted to leave by 3:30 pm but didn't actually leave until 6:00 pm. We were heading for Ocala, FL and the Holiday Inn & Suites Hotel there. We have done this the last few times we have gone and it has worked well for us. This way we're not spending points to stay over in a hotel room that we will be getting into at 12 or 1 am. The kids slept in the car and we got in around 1 am. The Ocala Holiday Inn is a terrific property. The lobby is beautiful and they have a asian fusion restaurant on the top floor. For those traveling down I-17 to WDW, I definitely recommend a stop over here.

On Saturday morning we get up and have breakfast at the Bob Evan's right down the road. I love that place and there are none in Georgia so we had to eat there. There's nothing like Bob Evan's Gravy on their Biscuits!

After breakfast the car informs us that the coolant level is low. Luckily there's a BMW dealership on the road near the Bob Evan's and we go over there to have them look at it. They top off the the coolant level and we're off to WDW. The trip from Ocala takes about 1.5 hours. We arrive at AKV at around 2pm. The lobby at Kidani Village is like Jambo house in miniature. Decorations are beautiful. The animal observation peninsula is smaller but still allows a great view of the animals.

The villa is beautiful. It was exactly as the model was at SSR but this time there were REAL animals out the window.

The kids have made it clear that we MUST go to the pool as soon as we get to the hotel and we do. The weather is overcast and predicted to be scattered thunderstorms all week. However, the pool is beautiful. The zero depth play area was fun for my DD11 and DS7. I enjoyed using the water guns to spray them. The pool is not huge but it is nice and the slide is great. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the pool.

Later that night we had reservations at Whispering Canyon Cafe and so we headed there. We loved it and the CMs really did a great job acting the part. We did not ask for Ketchup but a couple of tables near us did and it was hilarious. If no one asks for it, it is worth asking just to see what happens.

It was memorial day weekend so there were tons of locals as well as tourists at the parks. TouringPlans.com predicted a 9 for Monday and an 8 for Saturday and Sunday. So we decided not to go to the parks until Tuesday and Wednesday. That meant we had another day at the pool on Sunday. This was also my DW & I's wedding anniversary and we had reservations at Sanaa. So after the pool we went back to the hotel room and got ready for our night out.

Sanaa is a terrific restaurant. The food is significantly influenced by Indian Cuisine. My DW and I go to Indian restaurants a lot. It is one of my favorite types of food. We thoroughly enjoyed it. The food was spiced perfectly. We started with the Indian Bread Service. We choose the Naan, Roti, and Paneer Paratha and for the sauces, Mango Chutney, Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus, and Tamarind Chutney. The Paneer Paratha was my favorite, the Naan was a little more crispy then I have ever gotten in an Indian restaurant and the Roti was really just a tortilla. The sauces were all great. The Tamarind Chutney was very authentic. We both had "Slow Cooked in Gravy" selections. I had the Beef Short Ribs and the Shrimp in Green Curry and DW had the Beef Short Ribs and Chicken with Red Curry Sauce. The Beef as tender and seasoned perfectly. The Shrimp were spicy but I like that and they were cooked perfectly and the Chicken was good but we both agreed the Shrimp and Beef were the best. I will have to go back and try the Tandori Lamb. For desert we had the Cardamom-Butter Cake and the Chai Cream and, because it was our anniversary, they brought us some chocolate cake. I enjoyed the Cardamom-Butter Cake but felt it was a little dry. The Chai Cream was refreshing and delicious. If you like Chai you will love this. A very nice light ending to the meal. The chocolate cake was moist and delicious.

On Monday we had a lazy day. We went to Downtown Disney and had lunch at Wolfgang Puck's Express. The chicken is terrific. Then back to the hotel to hit the pool. Only the weather did not agree and they closed the pool just as we arrived due to lightning. So I took the kids to the arcade and we blew $20 playing games. We had reservations a Jiko that night so we went back to the room and got ready. We have gone to Jiko many times over the last few years and every time the meal was wonderful. This was no exception. I had the Roasted Lamb Loin, DW and DD11 had the Oak-Grilled Filet Mignon.

On Tuesday we went to Epcot. DD11 and DS7 like Epcot better then any other park. The first thing that they have to do is Spaceship Earth. No matter how many times I do that, I still like it. Then it was off to the Land to get FPs for Soarin'. Well we got there too late and there were none available. The wait was 75 minutes. I figured if there were no FPs left we'd have to wait 75 minutes to ride anyway so we should just bite the bullet and do it. But DW, did not want to wait. So we did "Living with the Land", which I always enjoy and left the Land but as we were leaving a thunderstorm came up. So we turned around and went back inside. So we decided to go ahead and wait for Soarin'. By the time we got in line it was clear that many others had the same idea and the wait had climbed to 100 minutes. Still, we figured that we were better off waiting there then walking around in the rain, even if we did have ponchos. So 2 hours later we walk off of Soarin'. I love that ride, and think it is worth the price of admission all by itself but the DW is a little grumpy at the waste of time. So we head off to World Showcase to check out a few of the countries before our diner reservations a Restaurant Marakesh.

This was the first time for us to dine at Restaurant Marakesh and we really enjoyed it. I spent my childhood living in Saudi Arabia so I was looking forward to some food that was at least similar to what I had there. I was not disappointed. I had the "Taste of Morocco" a 4 course meal with soup, appetizer, entree and dessert. The soup and appetizer were terrific. The entree was a combination of Cous Cous w/ Vegetables, Lamb Shank, and Lemon Chicken. All of it was delicious. The Chicken was cooked perfectly, the Lamb Shank as falling off of the bone and the Cous Cous was seasoned nicely. The desert was a selection of baklava and was equally delicious.

After diner, it was time for Illuminations. It was raining but we had ponchos so we stood out there to watch it. The rain had chased most people inside so we got a really good view. I simply refuse to use an hour of my time camping out for a view of a parade or fireworks show so we usually have to stand back a bit. This time we were right at the edge of the World Showcase Lagoon.

After that it was extra magic so we stuck around to do a few more things. DW hates roller coasters so I couldn't get her to go on Test Track and I wasn't going to make her wait while I did it. So we headed back to the Land to do Soarin' again. This time the wait was only about 25 minutes. Next we went to do Spaceship earth again and went home around 11pm.

On Wednesday, we went to Hollywood Studios. The main thing we wanted to do while we were there was The American Idol Experience. So we went to it first. It was easy getting in to see the show. The contestants were pretty good, especially this one young lady. The judges were cliches. I thought their attempt to match the Randy/Paula/Simon formula was somewhat cheesy. Still it was fun to watch and girl I voted for won . We thought about trying to come back for the finale at 7:00 but that was when we had diner reservations at Hollywood & Vine. After that we watched the Indiana Jones Stunt show, I always enjoy that. Then my DD11 and I went on Star Tours. Now it was time for our reservations at Hollywood & Vine.

The food there was terrific. It reminded me of the food at Crystal Palace and I love that place.

After that we wondered around did the Great Movie Ride, visited some shops and made our way over for Fantasmic. That's when we took a closer look at the times guide and realized they weren't doing it. That was the main reason we had stayed for extra magic so we decided to go home.

<Continued...>
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WDW Trips:
Past: May 1993 - Hilton | June 1997 - Dad's House in Georgetown FL | May 2003 - Wyndham at Downtown Disney | March 2004 - Some Timeshare (?) | May 2006 - AKL (cash) | Dec 2006 - SSR | May 2007 - BWV | Oct 2007 - SSR | May 2008 - SSR, VB, OKW | Sept 2009 - SSR | May 2009 - AKL | June 2010 - SSR | Dec 2010 Holiday Inn @ DTD | Feb 2011 BLT/THV | Apr 2012 - AKL Jambo | May 2013 - VWL/VB | June/July 2014 - B Resort | Sept 2014 - BLT | May 2015 - BCV | Sept 2015 - Vero/AKL | Feb 2016 - SSR
Future: July 2016 - PVB

Last edited by danapsimer; 06-01-2009 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:04 PM   #2
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On Thursday were scheduled to check out and head up to HHI. However, the engine light on the car's dash turned on the night before as we were leaving Hollywood studios. I called a BMW dealership and made an appointment and drove up there leaving DW, DD11, and DS7 to pack up and check out. While I waited in the Dealer's plush lounge eating quesadillas and drinking their fountain drinks. DW has dealing it a fiasco back at the Hotel. The dryer in our nearly brand new villa was not working and we had a load of wet clothes that just were not getting dry. She calls the front desk, which, BTW, isn't actually the front desk, and is told that they will send someone. No one shows then she calls again and they say that they will have the manager call her, but he never does. Then she calls back again, and they say she should use the laundry room's dryers, a good idea, so she head down there. Finally she talks to a manager and he apologizes for the inconvenience and actually puts a $50.00 credit on our credit card. In the end, she finally leaves the room around 2pm and has them store our luggage while we wait for the car to be fixed.

In the meantime they head to Downtown Disney and get lunch at Earl of Sandwich. BMW finishes with my car around 3pm and I meet them over at Earl of Sandwich and have a Full Montagu. Now we always have a ton of Snacks left over from our DDP. We just don't use them when we are in the parks for some reason. So I tried to get one of those Ice Cream Sandwiches at Earl of Sandwich with my snack and the lady tells me that they are not on the Snack program and never were. However, I know I got them more than once as a Snack last year and the year before. Does anyone else remember using the DDP snack coupon on those ice cream sandwiches?

After finishing up there we head to Goofy's Candy Shop to spend the rest of our DDP snacks ( we have 13 left ). Then it's out to HHI. The drive is supposed to take about 6 hours. DW is a VERY fast driver. So we do it in about 5 hours drive time. However since we had to stop for diner and there were a few construction zones along the way, it ended up taking a total of 7 hours. We left at 6pm, so we did not get to HHI until 1am.

I really like HHI. The place is so peaceful. The villas remind me a lot of the ones at OKW just with different decorations. We got a 1 bedroom villa in the Inn building on the top floor. The view was of the marsh and Shelter Cove.

On Friday we got up late and went out for a late breakfast. We had gone to the Hilton Head Diner on our last trip and remembered the food being good so we went back. What a mistake. The place seems to have changed ownership. The hostess was surly when DW asked for a booth. The waiter was sort of grumpy. I ordered the Cornedbeef Hash. This had to be one of the most revolting things I have ever put in my mouth. I sent it back and got some eggs with bacon and homefries. The food was just barley OK. We left without leaving a tip. Do not go there.

In the afternoon we relaxed at the pool. When we went back to the room I made some Mojitos with some ingredients we had bought earlier after breakfast. Then we went for an early diner so that we could be back for the Campfire at 8p. We ate at Kingfisher's right across the bridge from the resort. DW had Talapia Grab Au Gratin. WOW that is a nice dish. I should have gotten it myself. I had the Fried seafood trio. The fried scallops and Shrimp were incredible. The Fried Cod was not so great. The did not cook it long enough so the coating was doughy. I definitely recommend the place.

So we head back to the resort and went to the campfire but since there were thunderstorms in the area, they did Goofy Bingo in the community hall. That was fun but we were disappointed that there was no fire and, therefore, no S'mores. So we headed out to Cold Stone for some ice cream.

On Saturday, got up late again and had a late breakfast at Stacks. This was much better then Friday's breakfast. The food was terrific. The eggs were cooked perfectly, the bacon was crispy and the Homefries had something in them and were some of the best I have ever had. And, with a name like "Stacks", the pancakes were incredible.

After that we headed to the beach. The beach house was not a simple to find as the maps they give you imply. If you decide to drive over make sure you don't assume that a strait line on the map in any way implies a strait line in reality. Still, the ride was short and we found it OK. The beach was nice. The kids really loved it. We played in the surf then we went up to the pool at the beach house. DW and I had a drink and the kids played in the pool.

For diner we went to Bonefish. This restaurant is terrific. DW and I both had the Sea Bass with the Pan Asian sauce. The fish was flaky and the sauce was delicious. Also the Infused Margarita was incredible.

On Sunday we went home. On the way we stopped off in Savannah and had lunch in City Market at the Cafe at City Market. DW had the Blackened Grouper Sandwich. The grouper was cooked perfectly and the backening seasonings are very authentic. I had a burger which was very good.

The drive from there back to Kennesaw only takes about 3 hours and was uneventful.

Thanks for reading.
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WDW Trips:
Past: May 1993 - Hilton | June 1997 - Dad's House in Georgetown FL | May 2003 - Wyndham at Downtown Disney | March 2004 - Some Timeshare (?) | May 2006 - AKL (cash) | Dec 2006 - SSR | May 2007 - BWV | Oct 2007 - SSR | May 2008 - SSR, VB, OKW | Sept 2009 - SSR | May 2009 - AKL | June 2010 - SSR | Dec 2010 Holiday Inn @ DTD | Feb 2011 BLT/THV | Apr 2012 - AKL Jambo | May 2013 - VWL/VB | June/July 2014 - B Resort | Sept 2014 - BLT | May 2015 - BCV | Sept 2015 - Vero/AKL | Feb 2016 - SSR
Future: July 2016 - PVB
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
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There's nothing like Bob Evan's Gravy on their Biscuits!
Clearly you've never had mine! .

Thanks for the report.
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:08 PM   #4
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Thanks for the TR and the restaurant recomendations..glad to hear that you liked Sanaa and Hollywood and Vine...
Will try someday to talk DH to go to Restaurant Marakesh however Whispering Canyon is always a must do for us...
sounds like you had a great time and worked around the weather
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:11 PM   #5
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Clearly you've never had mine! .
So when's the next time you are "going home"? I'll meet you there and we can see.

Actually, I make a pretty mean sausage gravy myself but my biscuits are not as good as Bob's so he has me beat.
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WDW Trips:
Past: May 1993 - Hilton | June 1997 - Dad's House in Georgetown FL | May 2003 - Wyndham at Downtown Disney | March 2004 - Some Timeshare (?) | May 2006 - AKL (cash) | Dec 2006 - SSR | May 2007 - BWV | Oct 2007 - SSR | May 2008 - SSR, VB, OKW | Sept 2009 - SSR | May 2009 - AKL | June 2010 - SSR | Dec 2010 Holiday Inn @ DTD | Feb 2011 BLT/THV | Apr 2012 - AKL Jambo | May 2013 - VWL/VB | June/July 2014 - B Resort | Sept 2014 - BLT | May 2015 - BCV | Sept 2015 - Vero/AKL | Feb 2016 - SSR
Future: July 2016 - PVB
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:21 PM   #6
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Thanks for the TR - well done
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:21 PM   #7
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Nice trip report, Dana. Thanks for the details on restaurants. Sorry you got thunderstormed out of a few things, but hopefully your next trip will be clear and sunny.
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:22 PM   #8
James Goddard
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danapsimer View Post
So when's the next time you are "going home"? I'll meet you there and we can see.
I'm not "going home" until next May .

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Originally Posted by danapsimer View Post
Actually, I make a pretty mean sausage gravy myself but my biscuits are not as good as Bob's so he has me beat.
You probably don't want to know why their biscuits are better....

Try Alton Brown's "Southern Biscuits" recipe (the one with the buttermilk, but the one with regular milk and lemon juice isn't bad in a pinch.) They are great and easy, plus AB's a local boy... I usually add a little cracked pepper to the top before popping them in the oven.
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
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You probably don't want to know why their biscuits are better....
And you sure don't want to click here: http://www.bobevans.com/menu/nutrition.aspx (select breakfast)

Great TR by the way.

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Old 06-01-2009, 02:05 PM   #10
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Where is stacks located? We'll be at HHI this month, and we usually eat breakfast in our 2 BDRM villa, but I'm intrigued...
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