Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Trip Report Tuesday - WDW Day 10 // A Leisurely Disney Day & Dazzling Night By the Light of Pandora

Welcome to another pixie dusted post!  I'm so happy to have you visiting my nook of the blogosphere today!  

Day 10 - Tuesday, October 18, 2022

We followed the fun of my youngest daughter's birthday with a laid back and relaxing morning at the resort.

This snapshot sums up the chill feel of our morning as Jason and I relaxed on the balcony while the girls lounged in our pretty Poly room.

Around 11am we hopped in our rental car and buzzed over to a Springs spot that we never get enough of, D-Luxe Burger.

While I've posted plenty of pics of their beautiful burgers and fries, I'm not sure that I've shared the backstory given to D-Luxe and the artwork inside.  In reality D-Luxe opened its doors in 2016, yet Disney invites guests to step into the story of a richer history to all of Disney Springs and that includes this delicious dining establishment.  The story dates back to the mid 1800s when the Sinclair family discovered a natural spring here in the Sunshine State.  The family of cattle ranchers settled alongside the spring and established Glowing Oak Ranch.  In 1904 the eldest of the Sinclair sons traveled to the St. Louis World's Fair and tasted a brand new culinary adventure on a bun, the hamburger.  He brought news of its deliciousness back to his family at Glowing Oak Ranch and they decided to transform the ranch into a restaurant where they'd serve their very own hamburgers.  As the lore goes, the Sinclair family has passed the family business down through generations and today is the D-Luxe Burger restaurant that I can't seem to go a Disney trip without visiting at least once, but preferably multiple times!

Here is some of the artwork that depicts the Glowing Springs Ranch of the 1850s and the restaurant that took its place a century later.

One of my favorite things about D-Luxe is the variety of complimentary dipping sauces that take their already fantastic fries to the next level!  The garlic ranch is my favorite.  Yum!

The 1921 sauce is named after the year that Glowing Oaks Restaurant was established. 

We had park reservations at Hollywood Studios and decided we'd simply stop there, "boop" our magicbands and visit Muppets 3D.  This is the last film Jim Henson completed in life and our trips wouldn't be complete without hearing all those quotes that we recite in every day life!  Classic Muppet goodness at its finest!

We typically move right along while exiting with other film goers.  However, on this sweet afternoon we had nothing but free time and decided to linger longer as we departed the exit area and take in all awesomeness of the character posters.

By 1:30 we were back at our home sweet vacation home for another round of relaxation, a perfect perk of an extended Disney vacay!

Around 3:00 Jason and I decided to stroll over and spend a bit of time in the lovely lobby.  I popped in BouTiki for some sweet snacks to savor while taking in the Hawaiian atmosphere.

By 5pm we were making our way inside Disney's "wildest" park for some evening fun.

Did you know that a group of flamingos is called a flamboyance?  That has to be the coolest name for a collective group of any animal!

Next we took in the pretty plants that always set my heart swooning and went on to gaze at the gigantic catfish that never fails to wow my aquatics obsessed hubby.  Enjoying the often overlooked details and creatures that call Animal Kingdom home made this a sweet visit.

A twenty minute wait for Kilimanjaro Safaris is a no-brainer!  Jambo, SIMBA-1!  Here we come!

I love that Disney even gives fun theming to their drinking fountains.  The magic is in the details in the parks!

Expedition time!

Can't beat 10 minutes!

Care to hear a dino joke as we take a snapshot stroll to and through another short queue?

Who makes the best prehistoric reptile clothes?
A dino-sewer  ;)

Just before 7 Jason had a brilliant idea.  He suggested we head over to Pandora to sit and sip some night blossoms as we awaited nightfall.  Pandora after dark is well worth the wait!

As I sat and enjoyed this delicious drink I noticed what I'm convinced was a hidden Mickey on the pavement below. ;)

Now for the highlight of our Animal Kingdom night, the lights of Pandora!

The sounds of the rushing waterfalls accompanied by the gorgeous glow of the Pandora rocks and flora make this a must-see when the park is open late enough to enjoy after dark!

These beautiful black-lit paths make my heart skip a beat!

We ended the evening back at the Polynesian with dinner at 'Ohana.

Over the years Lilo, Stitch, and his girl Angel, have joined us for meals here.  This time around the birthday gift of duck Stitch came along. 

While I'm not a fan of complaining and focusing on negative aspects of days, I do always strive to share honest opinions here.  We have dined here on several occasions over the years.  Some of our most memorable and delicious Disney dining experiences happened in this room and some visits have left us completely disappointed.  This trip our experience sadly fell into the latter category.  

While none of us wanted to fill up on salad here, we didn't enjoy this one.  We missed the simple salad of yesteryear.  The bread was fine, but forgettable.

The wings and wontons ended up being the best offerings of the night.  Sadly the noodles (which you can barely even see in this snapshot) did not seem to be the ones we know and love.  We used to ask for many refills on the noodles.  They were always my oldest daughter's reason for requesting dinner here.  They just weren't the same.  We were given a second round of them and didn't even finish the batch, which was a reflection of how we felt about the meal as a whole.

The steak was our favorite meat of the meal.  Honestly we get better from our local butcher shop that Jason smokes or grills in our backyard, yet it was the meat we all deemed the best of the night.

I'm not a seafood fan, but my shrimp loving said these were decent.

The grilled chicken with Polynesian-inspired chimichurri sauce wasn't a fave among my fam, but I enjoyed it.

The 'Ohana bread pudding, a dessert my hubby has always been eager to savor by the spoonful, was in his words, "not the same".  I thought it was good, but was surprised that we didn't finish it.

If it was our first time dining here perhaps we wouldn't have been disappointed, but we remember the years when "cousins" brought around bountiful skewers of many meats, when food was high quality and perfectly cooked.  While our girls have outgrown the ages of children's activities, we remember the days when dining here offered much more than a meal.  In years past cast members ran games throughout each evening.  Everything from coconut races to hula dances and limbo brought this restaurant to life with the delight of little ones and families enjoying time together, making memories both at and around their tables.  The only bit of joyful entertainment that remains is a cast member who plays the ukulele.  While I did enjoyed hearing him strum and sing, "I think to myself, what a wonderful world," the tune filled my heart with a mix of emotions.  I felt joy over the beautiful melody, yet it also beaconed memories from 'Ohana meals of years past, reminding me of all that was missing from what now feels like an imposter of a restaurant.  Even little things that had made the meal feel special, like warm towels previously plated for the table at the close of the meal, are now missing.  Guests are given much less, yet paying more than ever before.  Our bill this trip was up $20 from the year before, which may not sound like much, but when even after our discount we end up dropping nearly $300, it's too much for too little.  It's always been a splurge to dine here, but is a well known favorite for many because of the previous quality and overall experience that dining here added to a Disney trip.  In trips of the past we'd leave here feeling satisfied, with both full hearts and tummies.  This trip we left feeling underwhelmed and sure that unless changes are made to bring it back to its former glory, we won't be returning.  I'm saddened to write a negative review.  It's basically my least favorite thing to do, but I think its important to share our genuine feelings on dining here this trip as the photos of food look delicious, and in former years it was a favorite.  I would rather tell it like it is than have anyone walk away from my post and make a dining reservation that they too may regret.  The options for dining on Disney property are plentiful.  There are many meals that would be better for your bucks, friends.

While we were disappointed by the dinner, it truly was a wonderful day.  We spent the close of the night on the balcony relaxing while watching Magic Kingdom's fireworks and anticipating another Disney day to come!

Thanks so much for stopping by today!  It's a joy to have you visit!  Hope to see you back this time next week for more Disney deets!


  1. Sadly, I agree with your Ohana dining review and I think it’s important you shared your views with your readers. I loved your relaxation times at the hotel throughout the day. I am always amazed at how many special things you discover. I did not know the back story of D-Luxe Burger but I certainly have enjoyed eating there. You really captured a phenomenal photo of that Flamingo!

  2. Too bad about the dinner. But I love the Muppets and love seeing those photos, plus all of lovely Animal Kingdom!

  3. What a sweet, leisurely day! I think I would have loved a drink in Pandora at nightfall! How cool is that?!


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