[Today's photographs can be found on my Flickr and the whole collection of days can be found here.]
Gospel Brunch, House of Blues + Downtown Disney + Dinner at Chilis
August 18th, 2013
I've been looking forward to this day for 2 years - not for the Gospel Brunch at House of Blues (although, we have been looking forward to that too!) but for the chance to meet up again with my online buddies, Thom and his wife Cyn. We'd been making arrangements to meet up whilst we were in Florida, and they decided to come up to Orlando (they live on the coast) for the weekend for Thom's birthday. It fell on the weekend that we were going to House of Blues and as luck would have it, he was able to make a reservation for the Gospel Brunch too!
We were due to go to the first of the two Sunday shows at House of Blues, starting at 10:30 am, so we made a move and got to Downtown Disney around 10am as we had to pick up our tickets first.
Once we'd picked up our tickets, I dropped a text to Thom to let him know we were there and we watched a trio of gospel singers who performed outside - a great way to pass the time till the doors opened!
We filed into the club and were shown to our seats which were on the upper balcony. We were sat in pews - seating 3 across - and directly opposite the stage. From up here it was a great view! I quickly nipped to the restroom before showtime and as I stepped out Thom and Cyn were being shown to their table! A couple of quick hugs and I walked with them to their spot which was right next to us!
Before the show started, we all hit the brunch buffet. Let me walk you through the buffet…
You picked up drinks from the bar. Soft drinks/tea/coffee are included in the price. Alcohol is extra.
There was a carvery section with ham and brisket. In the baskets are bread rolls and corn bread muffins; in the pots, sauces and gravy.
Buffet trays filled with usual breakfast goods - eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, grits, plus lunch dishes like chicken and waffles, jambalaya and mac 'n' cheese. Hubby was most gutted that he didn't get catfish as he saw it on the menu, but it wasn't out on the buffet!
There were salads - Caesar, potato, pasta plus shrimp and fruit.
Finally, there were some desserts - bread pudding, tarts, muffins and cookies.
I personally stuck to the traditional breakfast stuff rather than the salads, but I couldn't resist trying the mac 'n' cheese which was really good, as was the chicken and waffles!
With our plates full, we sat down as the Gospel singers began the show. You are free to get up during the show to go to the buffet, and the staff were on top of picking up used plates and glasses.
Then the crowd went nuts for a guy called Kirk Franklin - no idea who he was and I asked my friends what the big deal was with him. He's a famous American Gospel singer and my friend said it was a huge deal that he was singing! Awesome! He had a fab voice, and when he spoke, as well as being uplifting and inspirational, he was also very humorous as well.
We had a toe-tapping, hand-clapping, song singing, great time. There was audience participation from the tables in front of the stage, and a lot of people were up dancing and clapping along. We all joined in with 'Lean on Me' at the end of the show. My friends pointed out that this wasn't true Gospel singing, which I figured - it was more of a pop concert than I was expecting, but despite that, the music and singing was amazing (and loud!) and the food was very good. Not sure if we would do it again, - it is quite expensive, ($142 for the three of us) but as a treat or for something different to do, I would certainly recommend buying a ticket.
With the show over we went outside into the hot Florida sunshine to take some photo memories of our meet up, and to have a chat. It was a long drive back for them (4 hours) so sadly, they couldn't hang around for too long, which was such a shame as we had to cram so much catch up chat in just a short time! But after promises of meeting up again as soon as we are back in Florida (or if they ever come to the UK), we were soon hugging and saying our goodbyes.
With us now parting ways, it was time to hit Downtown Disney for the rest of the day! We started by going into the shop by House of Blues which is full of some amazing and eclectic artwork, as well as branded goods - t-shirts, caps etc and unusual, quirky gifs.
Splitsville is kinda opposite House of Blues and just up a bit from Disney Quest. We didn't go to Splitsville (I have heard it's quite pricey) but did pay a visit to Disney Quest on another day.
We carried on towards Characters in Flight with the intention to go up in the balloon this year.
On the way, we stopped into Candy Cauldron to have a look at all the treats on sale - on my Disney Bucket List was to buy a candy apple, so I was going to make sure that I did that this year!
They had the candy apple I had my eye on after seeing it on the Disney Parks Blog - Sorcerer Mickey! And lots of other cool designs including Mike Wazowski, Kermit the Frog and The Cheshire Cat. We didn't buy one just yet as didn't want it to melt whilst walking around Downtown Disney!
The Candy Cauldron is full of sweet treats and I spied lots of decorated cookies. I made a mental note to pick up a couple of the Lightning McQueen ones for my friend's two boys. Going later in August this time around meant that we saw a lot more Halloween themed stuff too - yay!
Mickey Mouse shaped rice krispie treats, Mickey gingerbread, and colourful cupcakes…I could probably spend a fortune in here if was able to bring this stuff back to the UK!
There was a little spot of rain whilst we were in the Candy Cauldron - quite a nice place to be hanging out! And then, we walked to the kiosk for Characters in Flight which yes, was shut due to the weather. So, we decided to get the boat over to the other side of Downtown Disney and spotted this little guy sitting on the bench!
This arch is at the back of House of Blues, not every ones idea of art I'd imagine, but I do find this sort of artwork fascinating.
A boat was just about to embark as we approached the jetty, so on we hopped to travel across the water towards the Market Place area of Downtown Disney.
We got off the boat and made a beeline for the Days of Christmas store. Where I spent a little bit more money than I had planned, owing to the fact that they had lots of Halloween decorations for sale too!
These decorations (of which there were lots of different designs, not just Halloween themed) were 3 for $50 (ish). These were the three I picked initially, but wandering around the shop I found a gorgeous witches hat one, so switched the burlap hat out for that instead.
Another set I wish I had bought! I'm sure this was for sale on our first trip, so maybe it will be there for our third!
Decorations in this shop are pricey, so it's easy to spend a lot of money without even realising *blush* Any budget I set upon myself went out of the window when I spied the Halloween stuff!
I bought myself this pretty Halloween bracelet , as well as a necklace, but the necklace broke after wearing it just the ones *sobs* It only needs a catch, so I'll dig through my jewellery making supplies and see if I can fix it up.
Opposite the Christmas store is Wonderful World of Memories - a shop where I could have spent a lot of money too on scrapbooking supplies! I didn't dare step a foot in there though! I've still got all my stuff from last time that I'm still using!
Deciding where to shop next, we sat down to have a drink and a re-apply of sun cream, when there was a parade of little prrincesses…I am guessing they're coming from Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique?
They all looked very cute and went on the old fashioned carousel.
I knew I wanted to buy a Mr Potato Head this year - I'm such a kid at heart! Although, now that I have my baby niece she's a good excuse to justify buying it! So I "bought it for her to play with when she comes over" And what a good excuse it was - she plays with all the pieces every time she comes over now! ♥
I bought the giant container for $50 which you then fill up with all the pieces that are available - there is a big dispenser as you walk into Once Upon A Toy filled with the pieces. I didn't take a photo of that this year, but you can always see the one from 2011's visit! I crammed in as many as I could - wanted to get my money's worth! I bought the actual potato separately for $2 - didn't want to waste the space!
Next up was a trip to RideMakerz. Since I have a son, it's boy type stuff for us! RideMakerz is now located at the back of the Team Mickey. You can make your own remote controlled car here by choosing a chasis, wheels and other accessories before putting it all together and paying (a lot of money, his was $100 this time!) for it.
I left the two boys to it whilst I sat outside. My back was giving me gip and I wanted to be out in the sunshine! However, it suddenly started to rain, and quite heavily too, so I reluctantly went back into the store where Liam was just finishing up making his car. It really does amaze me how quickly the weather can change in Orlando!
We then walked through (to stay dry!) to Arribas Brothers where they sell and make crystal figurines - so sparkly and pretty - and omg, stay back, breakable!
By the time we came out of the Arribas Brothers, the weather had dried up and we sat down at Ghirardelli for a drink (for us) and an ice cream for the boy. I clearly wasn't myself today as I don't seem to have as many photos showing all the details that I normally do! Hubs was given this choccy sample.
Our next shopping stop was the huge World of Disney - which is just all the shops in Downtown Disney combined into one! But since we hadn't hit all the shops hard like we did on our first visit, we had a wander around in here and bought a couple of things too.
Lots more Halloween stuff - so pleased I got to see all that on this visit! Can't wait to one day go to Walt Disney World for Halloween!
Remember I mentioned about the witches hat ornament? Well, it looks like this! The hat was too small for my big noggin, but I totes would have bought one if it had fit!
I bought me a Mickey Mouse Trick or Treat lantern which doubles up as a pail!
I often saw Disney characters in this style - what's up with that? Whatever it is, I like it - they're cute!
Another bypass of the Lego Store for us - it was busy in there and didn't fancy the scrummage.
And then we started the walk back round the car, which was parked over near House of Blues on the other end of Downtown Disney, stopping of course to take photos along the way!
On the way back to West Side where we were parked, we sat down again for a drink right by some hoardings which were up - lots of work seemed to be going on around the World on this trip. Hope it's all done for next time!
By now it was late afternoon and having spent enough money on goodies today, (I bought my candy apple on the walk back to the car!) We hit the road to drive back to the villa.
We decided to try out Chilis for dinner and drove a few minutes down the road to the one on Hwy 27. We got there at around 7pm and it was fairly quiet. We were shown a table and given some menu and showed the waitress the voucher we had for a free nachos and queso. She had to go and check that it was okay to use (I would hope so, since we downloaded it from their website!). She returned to say yes it was fine, and then took our drinks order while we took a look through the menu.
She brought up our drinks - hubs and I had iced tea - a Florida favourite for us! And the boy had his usual coke. How I wish he'd drink something else! She also brought up a skillet with queso and a huge bowl of tortilla chips. Queso is a cheesy dip and it was delicious! The tortilla chips were thin and crispy - and it felt neverending! A good start to the meal. We then placed our order with her after making our decisions.
Liam, as usual, went for a burger. There were a few different ones he could choose from and in the end he had the Southern Smokehouse Bacon Burger which was filled with applewood smoked bacon, hickory-smoked cheddar cheese, crispy onion strings, ancho-chile BBQ sauce and mayo - he held the BBQ sauce and mayo. It came with a pile of fries and he said it tasted really good.
Hubby decided on the Santa Fe Chicken Salad which is described as grilled chile-rubbed chicken with spicy Santa Fe sauce, house-made pico de gallo, fresh diced avocado, chopped cilantro, crispy tortilla strips with house-made ranch dressing.
He also had a small bowl of Terlingua Chili on the side.
The salad, according to Steve was HOT! Really spicy! He just about managed to eat it. I didn't think it was that bad when I had a taste, so maybe there were hotspots of chili running through it!
I went for the Spicy Grilled Shrimp Tacos - grilled spicy chile-lime shrimp wrapped in three flour tortillas and topped with fresh cilantro-slaw, house-made pico de gallo and sliced avocado. Served with rice and black beans. The tacos were lush! Really tasty and full of flavour.
Steve was too full for dessert, as was I, but Liam wasn't, so he ordered the Chocolate Peanut Butter Molten Cake. I snuck a spoonful of - for review purposes you understand! What a gorge dessert! It is described as a chocolate peanut butter cake filled with peanut butter cream and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup pieces and a drizzle of hot fudge. Oh yes - a peanut butter lovers dream dessert!
Don't seem to have the receipt for this place, so can't remember how much we spent in here, but whatever it was, it was worth it - such a great meal - really tasty, and would go back again.
Looking forward to tomorrow as we are meeting up with more friends for dinner!
Read about the previous day: Day 4: Ohana Means Family - Dinner at 'Ohana, Polynesian Resort
Read about the next day: Day 6: Tidal Wave Typhoon Lagoon + Dinner at Bahama Breeze
Read ALL the days! Back to the Magic Trip Report Index 2013