Julia Mascardo’s Best Week Ever, February 11, 2016: Happy Lunar New Year!

Happy Lunar New Year! We celebrated Disney-style with red envelopes filled with Disney dollars.
Happy Lunar New Year! We celebrated Disney-style with red envelopes filled with Disney dollars.

Ed – Those of you who read Seth’s final Best Week Ever already know, but we have some new Best Week Ever Authors. Welcome Julia!

Greetings! You may already know me as Derek’s Unpaid Outlet Intern or as one of the voices from the TouringPlans Twitter account, but now the powers that be have given me the privilege of stepping into the lofty role of co-blogger for the Best Week Ever series, joining the ranks of the illustrious Seth and Daisy. Somehow I think an e-mail got misdirected into my inbox with the offer, but if you’re reading this, it looks like my blog slipped into publication somehow. (I won’t tell if you won’t!)

A bit of background about me: I grew up in Florida and have spent most of my adult life finding ways to leave for a little while and come back to settle down. I live with my husband, daughter, and two cats (Pixie Dust and Figment) in the backyard for the Magic Kingdom.

But enough about me — time for the best week ever.

With a variety of holidays hovering around this time of year, my family’s focus was on Lunar New Year. There were three items I wanted to get specifically for the day — red envelopes, Disney dollars, and fresh fish.

When it comes to fresh fish, the best place I’ve found is to get seafood from the same supplier that provides fish and seafood to Walt Disney World restaurants (and most other restaurants in the area): Bar Harbor Seafood. It is located in the same industrial park as another hidden gem for theme park fans: Theme Park Connection.

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If you’ve ever played the video game Epic Mickey, there’s a level called Mickeyjunk Mountain, filled with decades of old Mickey Mouse merchandise. Theme Park Connection reminds me a bit of that, only cleaner (and no enemies to battle).

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There’s a tremendous amount of merchandise hidden in that store, and you could easily spend an hour or more looking around. Even managed to find some “vintage” copies of The Unofficial Guide and other guide books.

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From there, it was time to grab some lunch and the fish from Bar Harbor Seafood.

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Most of Bar Harbor’s business is done through wholesale, but there is a small retail counter and incredibly popular lunch counter attached to the building. At lunchtime, expect the line out the door and when you get inside, you will be crammed in like sardines with people lining up for plates of fried fish and shrimp, their famous lobster roll, and lunch specials.

While my husband braved one end of the counter to get the fresh fish.

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I squeezed down to the register for the lunch foods.

To give you an idea of space, I'm standing with my back against the wall in front of the counter to take this picture and I could touch the counter at the same time.
To give you an idea of space, I’m standing with my back against the wall in front of the counter to take this picture and I could touch the counter at the same time.

My daughter got fried shrimp and my husband and I got the special of the day: blackened mahi mahi with yellow rice and broccoli. The picture can’t do justice to the flavor nor the size of the portion of fish. I wish I had weighed it, but it was at least six ounces, perfectly cooked and seasoned with fresh (not frozen) broccoli and rice. Not bad at all for $9.

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Bar Harbor has picnic tables outside for dining, but as our food came up, the rain came down. That meant that the rest of our quest would have to wait for another day.

Sunday morning came with gray skies, cold (for Florida) temperatures, and lots of wind. After a quick glance at the MyDisneyExperience app, I saw availability at both Kona Café and ‘Ohana. We selected Kona and less than an hour later we were out the door, parked at the Polynesian, and seated at our table with a great view.

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I’m a cheapskate, so when I go to Kona, I don’t get the Tonga Toast (which I can get downstairs at Capt. Cook’s for much less). Instead, I went with the Samoan, modified for my tastes (scrambled eggs instead of poached on top of the pulled pork hash and hollandaise sauce on the side). You can tell this is the healthy choice because there’s green on the plate.

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After breakfast, I picked up the Disney dollars from Guest Relations and it was off to Epcot for red envelopes. On the way in, I saw the Zootopia monorail wrap. I am incredibly excited about this movie, and not just because my husband bears more than a passing resemblance to Flash the Sloth.

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Spending the day shopping around World Showcase isn’t high on the list of things to do for our five-year-old daughter, so we decided to let her have some playground time. As it was still windy, we opted for the indoor playground in the Mission Space post-show instead of letting her run around the fountains at Imagination.

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While we were letting her climb and explore, we ran into a mother who wasn’t able to find her child. My husband went to get a cast member to help her, and I had the brilliant idea of climbing up through the playset to see if I could spot the child. There are three things to note if you plan to try this yourself. If you are taller than me (4’11”), you aren’t going to fit. If you are claustrophobic, you won’t survive. If you don’t like heights, keep in mind this playground goes up three levels!

See that area up near the ceiling? Yeah, the playground goes all the way up there!
See that window up near the ceiling to the left of the tube? Yeah, the playground goes all the way up there!

Situation resolved, it was time to find those red envelopes. Well, maybe after one quick attraction.

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Don’t worry. They still let Panchito have his guns in the park.

The China pavilion is getting a new coat of paint, but it was disheartening that they didn’t use decorated scrims to hide that.

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For some reason, I rarely visit the House of Good Fortune in China even though I love Mitsukoshi in Japan. I started at the back of the store and found what I was looking for right away: a whole display of red envelopes.

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They also had plenty of Year of the Monkey merchandise out, as well as a special deal for Nine Dragons.

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Envelopes acquired, the next trick was to finish a walk of World Showcase without blowing away. How windy was it?

It was so windy, there were whitecap waves in World Showcase Lagoon.
It was so windy, there were whitecap waves in World Showcase Lagoon.
It was so windy, the beer cart in Germany was closed due to high winds.
It was so windy, the beer cart in Germany was closed due to high winds.
It was so windy...well, see for yourself.
It was so windy…well, see for yourself.

Just because, we made a stop in Mitsukoshi on the way out. They didn’t have as much Year of the Monkey merchandise out, but they did have this cute Hello Kitty to commemorate the occasion.

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Looking at the time, the park was starting to clear out with people headed to Super Bowl viewing locations. We headed on home to do the same, and toasted Lunar New Year the next day with our fresh fish and the joy of opening the envelopes. (Oh, and maybe one other little surprise that I brought home.)

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Happy Lunar New Year to one and all, and may your year grace you with wealth, health, and happiness whether you are home, at the Happiest Place on Earth, or if you make the Happiest Place on Earth your home. May your year be as happy as… well, these guys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julia Mascardo

Freelance writer and editor, living the dream in Central Florida with my husband, cats, and spirited eight-year-old daughter.

11 thoughts on “Julia Mascardo’s Best Week Ever, February 11, 2016: Happy Lunar New Year!

  • February 11, 2016 at 10:00 am
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    Really enjoyed your post! Look forward to seeing more. 🙂

  • February 11, 2016 at 11:16 am
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    Wonderful start! Looking forward to more of your Best Week Ever posts!

  • February 11, 2016 at 11:46 am
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    Julia, I enjoyed your wonderful narrative and photos. I’m looking forward to future posts.

  • February 11, 2016 at 6:18 pm
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    Awesome post Julia! Look forward to following along with you on your adventures!

  • February 11, 2016 at 7:21 pm
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    Great job, Julia! Thanks for keeping “Best Week Ever” going.

  • February 11, 2016 at 7:35 pm
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    Julia – great job! I really enjoyed how you wrote the article. It felt as if we were having a conversation in person. I can’t wait to read more! Thank you!

  • February 11, 2016 at 9:04 pm
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    Thanks for letting me escape with you around WDW for Chinese New Year! Looking forward to future installments.

  • February 12, 2016 at 9:34 am
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    Thank you so much Rachel, Rob, Linda, Belinda, Kate, Amy, and Heather! I can’t wait to share more fun stories from around the area!!

  • February 12, 2016 at 11:28 pm
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    Welcome Julia. I enjoyed your post.

  • February 15, 2016 at 6:33 am
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    Love the red envelopes! They are hard to find in my neck of the woods, in Canada. I’ll stop by the China pavilion and see if they still have some that I can use next year. Thanks for the post!

  • February 16, 2016 at 3:49 pm
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    Thanks for your first best week ever! Boy, do I miss Disney Dollars… when you said you got them at Guest Relations, was it at a park, the TTC, or Disney Springs? I’m visiting soon without my daughter, and would love to get some for her next trip!

Comments are closed.