A May 2004 trip
to New Orleans by kimntrent
Quote: We drove the Gulf Coast from New Orleans, LA, to St. Augustine, FL, down the Atlantic to Walt Disney World, FL.
Hotel | "Casa Monica"
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 23, 2004
Casa Monica Hotel
95 Cordova Street
St. Augustine, Florida 32084
There are two sets of elevators, ones in the lobby itself and ones off by the stairs. The ones off of the lobby take you to the newer part of the building. This is where we stayed the first time, in a superior room overlooking the Might Mo. This room was very tastefully done, with a succulent bed and a claw-foot tub. The bathroom had brass fixtures. There were also plush bathrobes.
The second room we stayed in was in the older part of the hotel. It was a standard room that overlooked Canal Street. It was much smaller but still very tastefully done. It also offered the plush bathrobes. If you are on a budget and you really want to stay here, the standard rooms are just as nice.
The hotel went through a complete renovation in 2004. The rooftop offers a coffin-shaped pool, gym, full-service spa, and a cabana bar. **Hint: This is a great location for a beautiful sunset.** The hotel is amazing. And we are not the only people that think this. During Mardi Gras, book your reservations well in advance. I have found that a lot of the guests like to stay here as well. We have also found that both the Internet website and calling in provide different discounts, so check them both out. Overall, this hotel is a do-not-miss on my list. I hope you feel the same way.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 24, 2004
214 Rue Royale
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Hotel | "Port Orleans Riverside (Dixie Landings)"
**Hint: get one of the refillable mugs. They cost a few dollars but are good for all the times you come into this food court, every time you stay at the hotel.**
Just outside the back of the lobby area is the rest of the resort. It is large and beautiful. There are two options for hotel accommodations: Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend. Although I have stayed at both, I tend to sway toward Alligator Bayou. It is very rustic, in a woodsy setting located to the left of the property. This area is reminiscent of the workers' quarters on the Southern plantation homes. Each cluster of rooms has a small pool area, and some even have laundry facilities. The rooms are very rustic-looking, although the general concept of the rooms is exactly the same in each of the areas. The rooms consist of either one king or two double beds. In the back of the rooms are two pedestal sinks with mirrors running along the back wall. The bathroom has the shower/tub combo and the toilet.
Magnolia Bend is like a Southern plantation. The easiest way to get to it is over the bridge off of the lobby. There are pictures below. The rooms are set up the same as the other part of the hotel, just in a Southern style. Each plantation house has a difference entrance. This area of the resort also offers pools among the cluster of building. In the center of the resort is Ol’ Man Island, where you can swim, fish, play on a small playground, and relax by a small bar that also serves hot dogs and hamburgers. A river that takes guests to Downtown Disney surrounds Ol’ Man Island. There is also a 1-mile walking path that will take you to the other Port Orleans property. You can also rent bicycles. There are also four bus stops for the resort buses that take you to the parks, and it's very easy to get to one from wherever you are staying.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 4, 2005
Disney's Port Orleans Resort Riverside
1251 Riverside Dr
Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830
Hotel | "Marriott's Legends Edge"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 24, 2004
Marriott Legends Edge at Bay Point
4000 Marriott Drive
Panama City Beach 32408
Hotel | "Sheraton Vistana Village"
It was 5 minutes to both Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, set in a great location. The pool area was spacious, with several hot tubs and a large pool with a waterfall. There is a lake just outside the pool area that surrounds it. The lobby was grand, with a huge set of windows overlooking the pool as well, and you can park right outside your hotel room.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 2, 2005
Sheraton Vistana Villages Resort Villas, I-Drive/Orlando
12401 International Drive
Orlando, Florida 32821
What an awesome little café. They're open 24 hours a day. You sit down, have a few beignets with all that powdered sugar, a cup of joe with or without chicory, or hot chocolate, and watch the world go by. They don’t offer anything other than beignets. No eggs, potato, bacon, or toast here. But it’s a not-to-miss when you go to New Orleans. This café is always packed. They do have a small indoor section, but mainly patio seating under an awning. When it rains, they roll down the side awnings to have it enclosed. They also have a to-go window inside the restaurant. Have patience, and don't hesitate to be aggressive when a table does open up, you will not be the only one that wants it. Also, most of the waitstaff don’t speak very good English. Have patience with them. Words of wisdom: Don't ask too many questions. Last time we were there, they stood there expecting a tip right after we paid. You do have to pay once your food arrives. This place is an icon. If you don't want to be involved in this don't go. Lastly, if you get a little powdered sugar on yourself, good job--just don't wear black.
Cafe Du Monde
800 Decatur Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
The first time we sat inside next to the jazz band. We took two little girls, and they were entertained the entire time. The floors are marble, and one wall is entirely windows while the other wall is made up of mirrors. The windows overlook a gorgeous courtyard, where you can dine as well. The second time we sat in the courtyard under wisteria plants. The tables are set on old bricks, so in some places they wobble a little.
The brunch is buffet-style. There is much traditional New Orleans fare to choose from. The eggs Benedict here are awesome, and they are even better when made to order. The desserts are fabulous. They are constantly refreshing what is on the buffet line, so everything is always fresh.
I would suggest, however, going to the bathroom before you go to brunch here. There is one stall on the first floor and then a very small bathroom on the second floor. It is a very old building, so the plumbing is not the best in the world. You can enter the restaurant from either the Royal Street side or the Bourbon Street side. If you choose the Bourbon Street, side the sign below is what you are looking for, along with a small podium and a gate that are very hidden. The Royal Street side is more noticeable. Overall, this restaurant is a do-not-miss. You can even book reservations online on their website.
**Hidden note: If you are a Disney Fan look for this, when waling down Bourbon Street look into the courtyard of the restaurant. There you will see heads made of stone like in the haunted mansion that sing to you. Could this be where the idea came from? Only one flaw, they don't sing here.**
Court of Two Sisters
613 Royal St
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
+1 504 522 7261
This restaurant is an open-air restaurant with no walls dividing it from the rest of the world. The atmosphere is very South Seas. They have American cuisine with a subtle Asian influence. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The waitstaff is amazing—very friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. We have only dined here for breakfast, and the one thing that stands out on the menu is Tonga Toast: banana-stuffed French toast with syrup. It does get a little rich with the syrup, so you may want to get it on the side. It's also enough for two people, so you may want to share. They serve a mad Kona coffee here, as well. The prices are very reasonable.
Along with their regular menu, they have an on-the-premises open pastry kitchen, which in the morning houses a great breakfast buffet and in the evening, a great dessert buffet. Last time we were here, they had an amazing statue of Lilo and Stitch made out of chocolate. For lunch and dinner, they serve other items, such as prime rib, macadamia-crusted mahimahi, and noodle bowls. They do take reservations (priority seating) and can accommodate special needs in advance. This is a not-to-miss when traveling to WDW.
Tip: When you are going to the Magic Kingdom, come here by monorail or boat and dine first, then go inside the Magic Kingdom.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 14, 2005
1800 Epcot Resorts Blvd
Hint: They always serve the meat, chicken, and pork first. Then, after you are full with that, they serve the shrimp. Ask for the shrimp up-front. They will do it, but you’ve gotta ask. After you are over-your-limit full, you get hot towels and lemons. Squeeze the lemon on the hot towel, then wipe your hands and face. It cuts the grease. Once you are clean, a dessert menu comes. Try the snow cone. It comes in a sand bucket, and you eat it with a shovel. No joke!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 14, 2005
Disney's Polynesian Resort
New Orleans, Louisiana 32830
Restaurant | "Cinderella's Royal Table"
After your table is ready, you proceed either by elevator or by spiral staircase to the second floor, where the dining area is. It is this gorgeous restaurant where the waitstaff is dressed for the occasion. Don’t worry; you don’t have to be. There are large stained-glass windows all the way around the restaurant that give you views of Fantasyland. If you have children, you may want to request a table close to the window. It will provide entertainment. This restaurant has large, wood-beamed ceilings and linen on the tables, with goblets for water and sodas.
Lunch is significantly cheaper than dinner, but both are amazing. To start, your server provides you with a roll and Mickey Mouse-shaped butter. For my entrée, I had prime rib. I like a good prime rib, and this was good--a perfect cut, not too big or too small, but just right. Then, for dessert, we had a chocolate soufflé cake that was on a white plate, with the castle screened onto it in chocolate. As we cut it open, the chocolate oozed out onto the vanilla ice cream. They have a special fruit punch that comes in a souvenir glass with the logo of the restaurant on it. Really, one of those glasses is worth it.
We have dined here several times, and every time, it is just as amazing. I would recommend it if you have children. We went to the character breakfast one time, and it was jam-packed. For those, go outside the park to one of the hotels. This restaurant does take reservations. I would suggest booking them as soon as you know you are going.
Cinderella's Royal Table at Cinderella Castle
Orlando, Florida 32830
Restaurant | "Cracker Barrell"
It’s an old-fashioned restaurant with the best hospitality around. The wrap-around porch has rocking chairs in every size from little bums to big bums to two-people-in-one-chair bums. They have wine barrels that have been converted into checker boards, as well. When you enter the restaurant, you are transported back to the good ol’ days. The country store greets you with wonderful treasures of your youth, from clothes to knick-knacks to foods. They also have a great book-on-tape lending library for your road trip. You pick it up at one restaurant and you drop it off at the next. And if you forget and take it home with you, you can just mail it back. It is probably one of the very few trusting places around. The staff here was more than helpful. The country store staff will actually look for something if you can’t find it.
The waitstaff, I think, has eaten everything on the menu, and they know it all. The restaurant consists of large booths and tables that could probably hold about eight but only seat four. We have had breakfast and lunch here, and both meals warrant trying dinner next time. For breakfast, I had the Sunrise Sampler. It consisted of two eggs, grits (which I substituted off), gravy (also a 'no' in my book), homemade biscuits, real butter, and preserves, plus fried apples or hashbrown casserole and a choice of sausage, country ham, or bacon. It's enough for really about three people. My husband loved the Country Boy Breakfast, which had your choice of ham, pork chops, or steak, plus all of the above and an extra egg. He loved the biscuits and gravy.
For lunch, I had the Chicken 'n' Dumplin's Platter. It comes with three sides, so I chose the country green beans, which were done just right, the macaroni and cheese, not your normal at-home Kraft but the real stuff, and fried apples, which I didn’t care for, but everyone else did. All this, along with biscuits or corn muffins. Again, my husband loved the chicken fried chicken or just the fried chicken. The desserts looked wonderful, but we never had room. You can’t go wrong with the food here, or the prices. And the best part is that there is no rushing you here. If you are in the South and you have never been, now is your time to go.
P.S. Try the caramels behind the pay counter.
Cracker Barrel Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel
700 Tchoupitoulas St
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Attraction | "Universal Studios Island of Adventure"
Universal's Islands of Adventure
Universal Orlando Resort
Attraction | "Daytona USA"
This 60,000 square foot area has several things to entertain you, from a tour of the track and infield of the Daytona race track to the Richard Petty driving experience and to an interactive area where you can ride in the cars, work in the pits, and watch the NASCAR movie. There is a great store to purchase all that NASCAR merchandise that you want and a small café to top it off. It is perfect for the whole family. This year, 2004, they had Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning Daytona 500 car on display directly from the track.
The third NASCAR movie is wonderful. I have seen it twice. They have a NASCAR experience where you get to drive your own race car around the track in your own race against others. Beware of some of the drivers. There are a lot of exhibits dedicated to the great ones, like Richard Petty, as well.
Open Daily 9am to 7pm, except Christmas; there are extended hours during peak seasons.
Cost: Adults, $21.50
Children (6 to12), $15.50
Children under 6 are FREE
Speedway Tours, $7.50
DAYTONA USA Annual Pass, $49
Richard Petty Driving Experience, $134
All of these tickets can be ordered online at daytonausa.com. Check it out when you are in the area.
Daytona 500 Experience
1801 W. International Speedway Blvd.
Daytona Beach, Florida 32114
November-February: 9am to 5pm
March-October: 9am to 5:30pm
They are usually open from noon to 4pm on New Year's Day. Please call to confirm hours.
Open to all ages; however, I found that children get bored very easily. Think about this before you drag little ones there. We took a tour bus there from the French Quarter, but if you rent a car and drive, I think you will see more. Check it out the next time you are down south.
800/44-ALLEY or ContactUs@OakAlleyPlantation.com
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 2, 2005
Oak Alley Plantation
3645 Highway 18 (Great River Rd,)
New Orleans, Louisiana 70090
Attraction | "Epcot's International Flower & Garden Festival"
Epcot's International Flower & Garden Festival
Epcot Center, Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World, Florida
This parade encompasses all of the Disney magic. The characters are decked out in nighttime attire. I have added a few pictures so you can see. This parade runs during the warmer times of the year. We saw it last in May, but it runs from about February (Presidents Day weekend) to the end of October. Check park schedules before you go. Also before you go, you can always check on Disneyworld’s Web site. The music is very catchy. I find myself singing it even after the parade. It is perfect for the whole family.
**Tip: If you are going to E-ride nights, go see SpectroMagic and then head back to the bridge to the Splash Mountain/Big Thunder area to watch the fireworks. Then enjoy E-ride nights from there. There are less people to fight with when the E-ride nights start.**
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 4, 2005
Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World, Florida
Attraction | "DisneyQuest"
There are well over 10 interactive areas. To get there, the genie from Aladdin takes you on an adventure in his elevator to the first floor of fun. We usually go from there in another elevator to the top and work our way down. Although these are not all of them, these are the areas I would not miss. There will probably be lines, but they are not very long.
Pirates of the Caribbean – Battle for Buccaneer Gold. It is an interactive game where you put on a headpiece and one person drives while others in your group fire cannons at buccaneers and their ships to race for gold. We did this several times over. Every time, it turns out differently.
Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters is awesome. This is a ride where you get in two-person bumper car vehicles. It is easier with two, but you can ride single. While one person is driving, the other person takes the cannonballs that you drive over and load them into the blaster. Then you aim them at other cars. If you hit a target then the car goes spinning out of control.
These are only a few of the rides to go on. You can take a Jungle Cruise, build a roller coaster and ride it, and become an animator. All it takes is imagination.
Tip: In Alice’s Café, there are computers where you can check your personal home email for free.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 25, 2005
DisneyQuest Interactive Theme Park
1486 East Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830
+1 407 828 4600
Here’s how it works: After 4pm on the day of the E ride night you can trade your ticket for a wristband. There are several locations where you can do this. We found the shortest line to be at Space Mountain in their arcade. After you get your wristband, you are worry-free for the rest of the night (3 hours after the park closes). When the park closes, you will go up to one of these rides and show them the wristband and head to the ride. No waiting in long lines.
Tip: If you have someone who is not going to go on rides, I have found that they are able to stay with you without a wristband. So grandma, who is there to watch your little one instead of baby-swap, will not get kicked out. We have done this several times, and now it is a not-to-miss for us. It’s like having the park all to yourself. There are food vendors open also during this time. Not all of them, but some of them. One of my favorites is the Nestle Bakery on Main Street. You get a warm chocolate chip cookie, a glass of milk, and park your bottom right in the middle of Main Street USA. No matter how hard you try this is the only time you will get to sit right in the middle of Main Street USA. Or walk right down the middle of it, too.
Another Tip: The best starting point we found was back by Thunder Mountain. So we watched the fireworks from the bridge to Thunder Mountain; then, after the park closed, we were not fighting with people leaving to go in. After you are all tired out from this, buses are outside, waiting to take you to your bed. If you have the extra money to spend, I would suggest doing this.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 25, 2005
Walt Disney World, Florida