(Continuing the fun at Walt Disney World's Polynesian Resort!) We went back to the car, Sun-Ho to shed his itchy lei, Nanea to change her clothes (something she really likes to do). Once they were all decked out in their fabulous Hawaiian tourist outfits (gifts from a friend), it was time to check out the renowned Pineapple Lanai, a cute little outside cafe inside the resort. It's what they'd been waiting for, ever since they'd heard about Pineapple Dole Whip. To find this bit of paradise, you have to walk through the Polynesian lobby and exit via the door heading to the bungalows/pool. The Pineapple Lanai is on your left, just through the doors. "Oh, Auntie, everything is so so so PINEAPPLE-Y! Little Eloy would LOVE this place! We need more Dole Whip souvenirs!"
Nanea was so excited that she put on her new Mickey Mouse necklace and Dole Whip pendant (actually, she's wearing two of them, because she brought one home for Leo). She chattered away about her new "fashion accessories" while we stood in line to order. Sun-Ho wondered why she wasn't talking about food, considering that it's usually what she's talking about the rest of the time . . . and this was actually the right time to be talking about food. "Girls . . ."
What?! They sell more than Pineapple Dole Whip?! Oh, no! The menu offered everything from a pineapple juice float in a souvenir tiki sipper to a lime-flavoured Te Fiti cone garnished with an orchid, but Nanea and Sun-Ho could not be tempted to sway from their original mission. They knew they couldn't go home without experiencing Pineapple Dole Whip. No souvenir sipper cups or exotic flowers would deter them. Just delectable, mouth-watering, plain, old-fashioned, DOLE WHIP! "Oh, Grammy, it's just our size, too!" It wasn't hard to find a table, but Nanea was so busy admiring her Dole Whip that Sun-Ho grew worried it would melt before they could eat it. "Just eat it, already!"
The Dole Whip was everything they'd imagined and MORE. Sun-Ho couldn't wait to tell the other boys about it, especially Eloy, who would just have to carry this at his Everything Pineapple stand. Dole Whip is now Nanea's "dessert of choice". She brought home plenty of servings, so if you ever drop by to visit her Island House on Islandshire, you'll have a sweet treat waiting for you! Of course, you might have to eat some Poi first . . .
More vacation photos still to come, with a bit more Disney shopping and a trip to the Orlando American Girl Place. Check back soon!
So far, our Florida vacation has been very fun and busy -- lots of pin trading, window shopping (what the dolls, in a disdainful manner, call "somewhat shopping") and souvenir hunting. Even though there were more stores to visit, one morning dawned when we all decided to just go plain, old-fashioned Sightseeing. Nanea was dying to visit the Walt Disney World Polynesian Resort! (After all, this was practically as wonderful as her "dream vacation" -- visiting the Disney Aulani Resort in Hawaii.) Never one to underpack (that's an understatement), Nanea was fully prepared, having packed her hula dress "just in case". Besides which, the manager at the Orlando American Girl store had convinced Nanea that her vacation would not be complete if she returned home without having tasted "Pineapple Dole Whip". What perfect timing, too, because Nanea has been on the lookout for her "dessert of choice". (Her "snack of choice" is celery with peanut butter, because Grammy said it's very healthy and tasty.) Maybe "Dole Whip" would be what she was looking for. Sun-Ho was there for the tropical experience and wondered why everything with Nanea had to revolve around food (remember the Star Wars store) . . .
The ride over was uneventful and hot. Did I say hot? Hot. While the sun was shining brightly and beautiful blue skies spread above (a novelty for us), this proved to be the hottest day of the vacation! (It's a good thing Nanea's hula outfit let's her go barefooted.) The guard at the parking lot was very friendly and let us park for free, since we were just there for some shopping and Dole Whip. It was the middle of the week, and we were happy to find the resort rather empty -- essential when you're planning on taking a lot of photos.
Nanea saw it first! "Over there, Grammy! Sun-Ho, loooooook!" As the Polynesian's iconic roof emerged from the green landscape, Nanea was fairly bursting with excitement! "Oooooooooh! Hurry, hurry!"
This was almost as wonderful as actually being on a Hawaiian island. (Well, we are from Ohio, you know.) There were wooden signs everywhere to direct you to different places, each painted and carved in tropical fashion . . . even the trash cans were worth mentioning.
As we neared the resort on foot, there were all kinds of beautiful tropical plants, water pools and flowers around the entrance. There was also a monorail station, connecting The Polynesian to The Contemporary and The Grand Floridian resorts. These are the three resorts built right around Disney's Magic Kingdom, all featuring easy-access to the park. In fact, The Polynesian and The Contemporary were Disney's original resorts and opened on the same day as the park, back in 1971!
There was enough time to take some photos near the beautiful little pond by the entrance, and Nanea just couldn't wait to say "aloha" to everyone while Sun-Ho loaded his own camera.
What a great spot for two tourists from Islandshire! Nanea felt like she was back home "on the Sunny Isle".
Once inside, it was hard to decide where to look first! Everything was very spacious, allowing for ever so many photo ops! First things first, though, and we asked for directions to the restrooms. Nanea was worried, because that hula outfit is a bear to get in and out of . . . we made it just fine, though, and everybody was soon "rarin' to go"!
The beautiful flowers (anthurium) in the first centerpiece had Nanea doing the hula from sheer joy. "Isn't it wonderful that they match my hula outfit so perfectly, Auntie?" No fragrance, but very beautiful to look at.
Even Sun-Ho couldn't resist smelling some of the flowers and snapping a few photos for the vacation album. Nanea decided that they needed some flowers like this on Islandshire. "Won't they look adorable around our house? Benny won't mind planting them!"
There were things to see everywhere -- even on the ceiling, where large signs hung down to direct visitors to such fascinating places as Luau Cove, Pineapple Lanai and Moana Mercantile. "Whoa there, Nanea!" Sun-Ho saw the sparkle in her eyes. "Moana Mercantile and Pineapple Lanai sound great, but we're not ready to go shopping quite yet. Let's finish looking around a bit more first." Sun-Ho is a sharp boy. He knows that Nanea doesn't carry her own packages.
The Lobby was quite beautiful and much better than anything Nanea had imagined. This was even better than her dream! Along the walls were beautiful displays (all with that lovely Island theme) that included everything from large shells holding glass "pearls" to posters and art from vintage Disney films and records. Why, they even had a statue of Minnie Mouse in her own sparkly Hula dress.
"It's too bad we didn't bring any mail with us," said Sun-Ho. He had just found a really nifty Polynesian mail box near the door leading outside to the pool!
"That's a shame, Sun-Ho, but look over there! A Moana-themed squished penny machine." Just the thing to take back to Islandshire as souvenirs. "Who's got the pennies?" "Did you bring the pennies?" "Where are the pennies to squish?" "I thought you had them." It's a good thing the machine takes credit cards, because we forgot to bring our pennies. (Nanea was wondering where she would have put them anyway, since her hula dress doesn't have any pockets.) Let's see . . . yep, we need them all. Be careful, because they're a little hot when they come out.
Not far from the penny machine is Trader Sam's Boutique. While that doesn't have quite the same ring (in Nanea's mind) as "Moana Mercantile", it is still a place where souvenirs might be found, so we popped in for a quick look around.
Yep, there were some pretty nice things in there, and Nanea excelled at the "somewhat shopping" which she so dislikes when sitting at home in front of a computer. Just look at the Hawaiian Macadamia Nuts . . .
. . . and the "Aloha" Cookies.
Even better was the really cute Lilo and Stitch Polynesian t-shirt with a printed lei. What a shame they didn't make it in her size. Nanea was pretty disappointed, because this would have been a perfect addition to her wardrobe. "I wonder if Mabel could make one of those to fit me . . . We'd better take good photos of it."
Finally, though, we found the perfect souvenir. There was a really neat piece of art showing Mickey Mouse in Polynesian style with the Adventureland Parrots and Pineapple Dole Whip in his hand. And what was so perfect was that they made prints just Nanea's size! "Why do they call these prints "postcards", Grammy? Won't theylook just perfect hanging on the wall in my Island home?"
As long as we were shopping, Nanea told Sun-Ho that it was a good time to go upstairs and check out the Moana Mercantile. She was convincing, too, because she knew enough to mention the beautiful views from upstairs -- just the type that Sun-Ho likes to photograph.
Halfway up the stairs was a large window with a beautiful prospect of the resort area, including the walk to the pool and some of the bungalows. It was enough to make you ready to go swimming out there!
The upper story was open in the center, giving a really neat view of the Lobby below. It looked just as impressive from up here, but you could see all the flowers at the same time. Wow!
No area of a Disney resort is too remote for decoration, and that includes the ceilings. Above the open view to the lobby is a fabulous display of lights hanging from bamboo racks that are rather hard to describe. Sun-Ho took some photos, so that you could see them for yourselves.
At the top of the stairs is the renowned Ohana Cafe and Tambu Lounge. Being the middle of the afternoon, it was quite empty . . . but this is the place where you can actually eat breakfast with Disney Characters. We we were too late to get in on the fun, but it was exciting just to stand in the place. Of course, Sun-Ho and Nanea couldn't resist posing for a few more pictures.
It was almost time to check out the Moana Mercantile, but then we spied a pressed quarter machine just outside the entrance. This time, the designs were Lilo and Stitch (one of them even showing Lilo in her hula dress). Wow, another perfect little thing to take home -- and we just "happened" to have a statehood quarter with the Hawaiian design on it (wink, wink) . . .
Okay, it was time to go browsing through the shop now, but first a photo of the very cool sign!
This little shop was not disappointing. In fact, it was full of very fun Disney items (not surprisingly featuring a lot of Moana and Stitch items). Nanea really liked a certain picture of Baby Moana, but what really caught her eye was the Pineapple Dole Whip "portable personal fan and mister". Even more thrilling, though, was the little Pineapple Dole Whip charm and Mickey Mouse necklace that was just her size! What a great souvenir, and now she could clip any of her other Disney charms on there . . . depending on what matches her outfit, of course. Sun-Ho wondered if she ever thought about anything but food souvenirs.
The cashier was very friendly and let us trade pins on her special Polynesian-themed pin board. [Note: A cool thing about this is that we traded for a certain pin here that we were able to bring home and trade online for a Polynesian Resort pin! A great addition to Nanea's collection, and extra special since we traded a pin from the Polynesian!]
Time to head back down to the Lobby again, where we could do some more pin trading at the front desk. Nanea wanted a picture showing the Lobby behind her, but the lighting made that a bit tricky. She looks cute in the photo anyway, so I might as well post the picture! ("That's my Auntie and Grammy in the background, everybody!")
Sure enough, a very friendly Cast Member from Honolulu took us over to the front desk, gave us some very beautiful purple-and-white-flowered leis, and pulled out a long "wall lanyard" of pins to trade.
There were quite a few Cast Members (Disney's way of saying "employee") in this area of the Lobby, and Nanea's hula dress was quite a hit. A very friendly gent (whose family comes from Maui) was there playing the ukulele and offering short ukulele lessons to guests. He thought Nanea was very lovely in her outfit, and he even sang a Hawaiian song just for her and Sun-Ho! Their very own Hawaiian serenade! Nanea was on cloud nine!
It's hard to top an experience like that, but Sun-Ho noticed a giant wall map of the resort. Definitely worth checking out, just in case they had marked any Snipe Crossings. Nope, but always worth checking. Besides, look at how cute they are . . .
It was almost lunch time, and Sun-Ho thought his lei was starting to get a little itchy. We still needed to check out the famous Pineapple Lanai (the small outdoor cafe that is home to the most famous and renowned Pineapple Dole Whip), but Nanea agreed to go back to the car to change first. "Oh, my! I don't want to get Dole Whip on my hula outfit!" So, off to get the little girlie changed and the little fella "shut" of the itchy lei.
"We'll be back soon with more pictures and fun at Pineapple Lanai. This won't take long!" In the meantime, thanks for reading, and Nanea hopes you enjoyed the Polynesian Resort as much as she did!
One of the unforgettable spots at Disney Springs is The Rainforest Cafe. It combines the fun of a themed environment with a gift shop and restaurant. You don't have to eat there to go shopping -- just as you don't have to shop to dine there. The whole building is built in the shape of a volcano, complete with smoke rising and eruptions of fire at regular intervals (we think it's every hour on the half hour . . . but we haven't quite figured it out yet). Mist machines and rainforest noises projected around the base of the building give you the distinct feeling of entering a cave at the base of a volcano -- impressive at any time of the day.
Sun-Ho had been waiting for months to get here. This was why he came on vacation, and he was quivering with excitement as we rounded the corner and the volcano came into sight. Nanea started quivering, too, but it was more with fright than anything else. She'd been in here before, and it was definitely not her cup of tea! The whole gift shop is constructed inside the base of the "volcano" and made to give you the impression of being in a rainforest. There are giant trees with branches above your head and large rainforest birds perched throughout, not to mention the giant fish tanks and loud animal noises. Oh, yes, and, um, every time the volcano erupts outside, the lights dim and blink inside and great noises are piped through all the speakers. Sadly, we were inside there with Nanea on our last trip when it all happened. They scared her so much that she jumped back into her travel bag and refused to come out until we were on the other side of Disney Springs. So, when we rounded the corner this time, Nanea did somersaults to hide in her travel bag, flatly refusing to come out again until we went to a different store. (I had been wondering why those little ear plugs had shown up in the bottom of the bag, but I should've known right away. Nanea is always prepared . . . definitely an over-packer.)
Sun-Ho was not nervous at all and decided to check out every nook and cranny. As he put it, "It's a great place for a Snipe to hide. Adventure is out there!"
With his Save the Snipe chocolate bar in hand, Sun-Ho started scouting around for Kevin. There were a lot of great wild plants outside . . . and we all know that snipes can't resist milk chocolate . . .
Nothing much showed up outside (not even bugs), so we went inside the shop -- which was actually greener than the landscaping outside! Sun-Ho got his camera ready to take an instant photo, just in case Kevin peeped out at him.
Even Benny's description last year hadn't prepared Sun-Ho for the amazing array of wildlife waiting inside. The giant trees were filled with birds and butterflies up in the branches, surrounded by all kinds of exotic wildlife below.
Sun-Ho couldn't even see all the way to the top of the trees, so he waved his chocolate bar "reaaaally fast", so that the smell would travel high enough, just in case Kevin was hiding up there! But, no, no sign of a snipe around here.
Giant butterflies glowed in the shadows, while a huge parrot flew overhead, and a toucan eyed us from his colourful perch . . . Nope, no snipe. Great fun, but we'd better keep looking!
Armed with his Snipe Bait (aka Chocolate Bar), Sun-Ho started approaching all of the colourful birds and creatures that he could find. After all, only a real Snipe would take this special bait, right?!
First, there were Flamingos of many sizes . . .
. . . but Flamingos are obviously not part of the Snipe family and don't care one jot for chocolate. Don't worry, though, because there were a lot more birds hiding in there. Some of them were so exotic that they weren't even identifiable in the "Exotic Birds I.D. Book" that every Wilderness Explorer keeps in his pocket. I guess we discovered a couple of new species!
While these birds may have been as colourful as Kevin, they turned their beaks up at the chocolate. The camera strap caught their attention, but they were obviously not Snipe. Aw, they're pretty cute, but it was time to move on.
Hey, maybe Kevin is avoiding being found by wearing a costume! She might be hiding as a sloth, monkey, unicorn, even a llama. But none of them wanted any chocolate, either. A snipe could always smell chocolate, even through all that hair.
It wasn't looking very promising for running into Kevin at The Rainforest Cafe, but Sun-Ho wasn't worried. There was a lot to see, including the large aquariums filled with colourful fish. Some of them had a color or two like a snipe, but nothing with legs was moving around in there. Boy, I wonder if that sign behind me says anything about where the snipe might be . . . wish I could read better . . .
Hey, what's that in the corner?! Sun-Ho climbed up to see the last little bird in the corner. She certainly looked like one of Kevin's kind. Don't you think she might be a Snipe? Sun-Ho offered his chocolate bar . . .
This had to be it . . . but what?! She turned her back to the scrumptious treat! Sure that this had to be what he'd come looking for, Sun-Ho clapped his hands three times (the only surefire way to call a Snipe). The pretty bird just waddled away.
Well, Kevin must not have decided to come to The Cafe today, but Sun-Ho was happy to have spent the afternoon there. He wanted to take home a souvenir (something appropriate for a real Wilderness Explorer), but the cool baseball caps were way too big. Even backwards, Sun-Ho . . .
Wait, what's that?! A machine to play on?! It's just what Sun-Ho needed -- a pressed quarter with the Rainforest Cafe logo on it. This will look pretty cool tacked up on the wall of his fruit stand!
It's time to check out more fun places at Disney Springs . . . and who knows? Kevin might just turn up along the way. Hope you enjoyed Sun-Ho's Rainforest Adventure, and stay tuned for more fun vacation photos. Gotta run . . . Nanea wants out . . .
After having so much fun at The World of Disney, Nanea was keen to keep on shopping at other stores in Disney Springs. (Real shopping. Not the "somewhat shopping" that she does at home with Grammy, where you look at things but nothing arrives in the mail.) We tossed all of the souvenirs (including the little Ariel doll) into the trunk of the car and headed over to the Star Wars Trading Post -- a very exciting place where you can actually build your own droids and lightsabers. Sun-Ho was so happy about checking out the Star Wars stuff that he even forgot about Kevin and his Snipe hunt for an hour or two!
Besides trading pins with the employees (the Gramma-looking lady with the grey hair is the nicest), we were also on the search for a gift for a friend, something cool featuring Baby Yoda from The Mandalorian show. (We had to ask what Baby Yoda was, but our ignorance was short-lived.) Sadly, Disney was (still is) super late in releasing any good BY merchandise, so there wasn't much to pick from. (Actually, at this stage of our trip, there were only a pair of very thin, cheaply made socks and a mobile phone case. By the end of the trip, there were a few shirts and some Tervis cups). We checked them all out, but nothing was really cool enough to take home.
Moving on from Baby Yoda, we had a good look at the racks of Star Wars trading pins for sale. Boy, there were some real beauties -- particularly this amazing Millenium Falcon pin. Nanea added it to our bag of souvenirs -- just in case they ran out before we got back to the display. And she made it clear that this was a keeper, NOT a trader.
Sun-Ho is more of the "hands-on" type, and this store has some great do-it-yourself souvenir options as well. If your taste runs to lightsabers, you can build your own from an amazing choice of parts and colours. You can make a totally unique combination, or you can follow directions to make a lightsaber like any of your favourite characters from that galaxy far, far away.
While they looked really cool, they seemed a little too big to carry back to Islandshire. Sun-Ho kept looking. It isn't a big place, so a quick trip to the other side of the store landed him right next to a perfectly Islandshire-sized option -- the Build-Your-Own Droid Factory!
Nanea and Sun-Ho were fairly bursting with excitement when we told them to get to work building their own droids. Imagine being able to take home your very own authentic droid! Where to start . . . this is going to take some thought. There are upright-standing droids (think C-3PO) and three-armed, wheel-based droids like R2-D2. They voted unanimously for the R2-D2 style and ran to the head of the assembly line. With all of the colours and options available, you can really end up with some cool pieces, and we were curious to see what they would come home with.
Sun-Ho is a decisive little fellow and had an idea for his droid right away. Without hesitation, he ran straight toward the bin and picked out the body piece first. Nanea wanted . . . well, I wouldn't exactly call Nanea mechanical . . . she decided on something . . . well . . . sort of pineapple-coloured. (Fortunately, the factory had a yellow and white flat-top head piece.) Sun-Ho thought to himself, "girls . . .", and focused on his droid assembly.
Sun-Ho found a bright blue, rounded headpiece for his droid (something about his colour choices was starting to look a little familiar), and Nanea got a matching yellow and white body piece to the head she had chosen. Very pineapple-y . . . Sun-Ho didn't think she understood what they were really doing. After all, it's not every day that you build your own Star Wars "mech". What did food have to do with anything?
Now it was time to decide on the two long side legs, something easier said than done. There were all kinds of colours, and each combination made such a unique look. After trying on lots of different choices, Nanea settled on orange and white arms, Sun-Ho the yellow and white ones. The droids were really starting to take shape now!
The last "official" droid piece is the front leg. Sun-Ho put on a bright blue leg to match his droid's head, and Nanea settled on an orange one to match her droid's side arms. "It reminds me of the Florida Orange Bird." Sun-Ho tried not to listen.
One more thing, now . . . the hat! All kinds of choices here, and Sun-Ho had a little trouble picking (though he finally settled on a Star Wars baseball cap). Nanea, on the other hand, knew that her droid needed the Mickey-Mouse ears right away.
With the droids all ready to go, it was time to put them into the special little bubble packs which would keep them safe for the trip home (not to mention just looking cool). Sun-Ho called his droid K2-S2 (K for Kevin, S for Snipe) and can't wait to show it off at the next meeting of the Islandshire Wilderness Explorers Club. Nanea figures that she and Benny can program their droid to help with the pearl stall or maybe even keep an eye on Flossie. (Besides, it will match Flossie's pineapple skirt . . . "oh brother" thought Sun-Ho . . .)
Still more Disney stores to see, but Nanea and Sun-Ho are worn out today. See you later!
While Sun-Ho's vacation mission was searching for Kevin, Nanea had a very different idea. Nanea loves to shop (especially for souvenirs that she can use to decorate her house), and there's no place more fun for that than Disney Springs. We decided to make a quick dash into one of the Disney Outlet stores on the way, and Nanea enjoyed shopping there. She met a couple of cute little girls and gave them pins off of her lanyard, but it was too crowded to take a lot of pictures in there. Here she is at the checkout (that's my really nifty large Beast plush back there from Beauty and the Beast):
In no time at all, we were pulling into the Lime Garage at Disney Springs! Nanea was so excited that she had to pose for a photo at the fountain near the bottom of the escalator from the parking garage -- cool Disney balloons back there, huh? Too bad they were too large for her . . .
It's only a short walk from the fountain to The World of Disney store. This is the largest Disney Store in the world -- literally. Talk about a fun place to shop, whether you're 5'7" tall or just 18" and made of vinyl! I think Nanea was quivering. Even the window displays are fabulous (and don't forget those beautiful pots of flowers decorating all the corners)!
And just in case you want to buy a lot of souvenirs, there's even an ATM machine near the restrooms.
Having been reassured that money was no option (Nanea doesn't have a very good understanding of finances and really thinks that you just dive for more pearls when you want to buy something . . .), it was time to walk into The World of Disney.
Positively quivering with excitement, Nanea had to stop at the huge wall of Mickey-ear headbands and Walt Disney World hats. So many choices -- and such vibrant colours!
Thankfully, there are mirrors spread throughout the area to help you decide on the perfect headband. In the end, Nanea still loved her Disney Aulani Hawaiian ears the best.
The next display we saw was filled with some really cute candy and sweets with great Disney packaging and themes. It's a good thing we'd just eaten lunch, because Nanea might have gotten hungry.
Nanea got really excited at the idea of Disney-themed pet accessories, and there was a beautiful flower accessory for a collar . . . but it was probably a bit too big for Flossie.
Just around the corner from all this fun was the amazing toy department. When it comes to plush and Princesses, it can be a little hard to pick a favourite, so we had to look at everything!
There were some very nice sets of play figurines . . . but Nanea was still happy with the two sets she got on her last vacation. Nope, she needed a different kind of souvenir.
Oh, wow! There was a beautiful playset of Cinderella's Castle, but it was a little too big to carry home on the airplane. We just had to keep looking.
What about a really cool bubble wand shaped like Ariel sitting in a shell and holding a pearl!? Neat, but not very practical for her Island House back home . . .
What about plush? There were lots of amazing choices for all kinds of Disney characters, and Nanea liked a lot of them -- from Minnie Mouse to Pua the Pig, or Sebastian from The Little Mermaid or Nemo and Squirt. They were all very cuddly, but probably a little big for her bed.
But wait, here's a lovely display of miniature Disney Animators dolls! They have all of the Princesses -- and there is even a set with Lilo in her hula dress . . .
. . . but then Nanea saw an old friend! There was little Ariel, staring at her just like the last time. Who could resist that little face, especially when she comes with her own toy shells and fish in a nifty travel case? This was it! We picked up little Ariel and packed her into a beautiful Disney Parks bag, ready for the ride home at the end of vacation. What a perfect souvenir from a perfect afternoon shopping.
Of course, this wasn't the only store at Disney Springs . . . or the only souvenir to come home. Stay tuned for more photos of Nanea and Sun-Ho's Florida vacation, including their fun visiting the Polynesian Resort, the Rainforest Cafe, and building their own Star Wars droids.