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Day 2 – Our 2nd Wedding Anniversary / The First Time 2011

Day 2 of The First Time 2011, the first of my Disney Trip Reports, is here! Today is our 2nd wedding anniversary and we head over to Downtown Disney for the first time!

The First Time 2011 Trip Report Index has the full list of days for the trip. You can also check out my 2011 Pre-Trip Planning Report to find out more about us!

Day 2 - Our 2nd Wedding Anniversary (The First Time 2011 Disney Trip Report)

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Day 2: Downtown Disney

Dinner at Paradiso 37

5th August 2011

Today is our 2nd wedding anniversary! In 2010 we spent it at Disneyland Paris, in 2011 we are in Orlando!

Our 2nd Wedding Anniversary Cards

We had an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) for our wedding anniversary booked for Paradiso 37 at 7:30 pm, with a trip to Universal planned…but things changed…

I woke up with the worst cold ever – I had a box of tissues practically strapped to my head and olbas oil was sniffed every five minutes to try and get some sort of feeling back in my face!

After unpacking and finding homes for everything, we Skyped back home to let them all know we’d landed safely and found the villa and that everything was awesome so far! (Despite the man flu going on inside this woman!)

Liam was itching to get into the pool, so after a sun cream application, in he got and he didn’t want to get out for most of the morning!

My Son in the Pool 2011

We also watched the Juno rocket launch on TV…and in the distance, from our villa, we could see the vapor trail – very cool!

Juno Rocket Launch 2011
Juno Rocket Vapor Trail

Steve and I set about making some sort of plan of what to do for the day. As I said, Universal was originally penciled in, but I just couldn’t face walking around a park.

A non-park day was already penciled in for tomorrow, so it was just a switcheroo!

Whilst I sulked watching the boys in the pool, a lady pulled up in a truck outside the villa; turns out she is the pool cleaning lady.

We had a nice chat with her and she was shocked at our reports of 20°C degree heat and rain in the UK.

She said a tropical storm was heading toward Florida, but that it shouldn’t be anything to worry about. (I guess, looking back, that was Irene.)

She said it would be quite rainy, but that would be about it. She suggested water parks as they are always empty when it rains, and that they only close them if there is lightning.

It was great to talk to a native, and she commented that we would have an absolute blast (boy, was she right!) and looked forward to maybe seeing us again (we never did).


We popped upstairs to get ready to go out and saw a wasp, the size of a small aircraft (everything is huge in the USA!) had landed on the palm tree outside our bedroom window.

Huge Bug

Thank God for air-con and closed windows is all I can say, because, whilst Steve was busy taking the above photo I was screaming “Kill it! Kill it with fire!” I sure hoped I wouldn’t run into another one of those during our holiday.

We also spotted several geckos…lizards…skinks? Hanging out on the mesh around the pool, which I thought was pretty cool; and watched as a butterfly the size of a hand glider (bigger in America remember!), fluttered past.

Pool Lizard

A late breakfast, relaxing by the pool, plus a good old dosing up of meds for my cold, meant that I could drag myself out for the afternoon.

We planned on hitting Downtown Disney to see what they had to offer and then to Paradiso 37 for our ADR.

Not a fun-packed day so far, but really, I wasn’t feeling even 50% 🙁

On the drive to Downtown Disney, my diary tells me that Liam fell asleep, so we decided to see if we could get our ADR a little earlier, for fear of him falling back to sleep in his dinner!

Finding Downtown Disney was easy enough. The signage was very good and along with our hired (from eBay) TomTom, complete with Homer Simpson giving us directions, we were parked up in no time at all.

Road Sign to Downtown Disney 2011

We stopped to take some photos along the way, and we found Paradiso 37 quite quickly. It was virtually empty.

We explained about our ADR and asked if we would be able to come in a little earlier, which they were fine with. So in we went!

Me & My Son Outside T-Rex Cafe 2011
Me & My Son Outside T-Rex Cafe 2011
Fulton's Crab House 2011
Flowers at Downtown Disney 2011
Paradiso 37 at Downtown Disney 2011
Decor in Paradiso 37 at Downtown Disney 2011
Decor in Paradiso 37 at Downtown Disney 2011
Decor in Paradiso 37 at Downtown Disney 2011
Decor in Paradiso 37 at Downtown Disney 2011

We were shown to a table, ordered some drinks, and read through the menu.

Steve thought a start of nachos would be a good idea…

When ordering, our waiter said he’d put the main dishes on hold so we could finish our starter and give us some time…we were disappointed when another server brought out our mains when we were only halfway through!

We asked if they could go back under the heat lamps for now, as we weren’t anywhere near ready for them.

Considering the place was so empty, there really was no need for the rush. The dude looked a little disgruntled but took them back.

The nachos, were nachos. Nothing spectacular. A large portion, easily enough to feed 4-6 people for $13.99.

Paradiso37 - Nachos 2011

Liam decided on a cheeseburger and fries, and told us it was the best burger he had ever eaten! That too was $13.99. It came with ‘slaw and fries. All the gunk (lettuce, mayo, etc) was left out at Liam’s request!

Paradiso37 - Cheeseburger
Paradiso37 - Cheeseburger

Steve had fish tacos as he had been looking forward to trying these out in the States. He said they were delicious – no clue what fish it was though!

For $14.99 he got three soft tacos with a generous portion of fried fish and a side salad with tortilla strips on the top.

Paradiso37 - Fish Tacos

I ordered the surf and turf, which was VERY generous – and I should hope so too for $25.99!

My Argentinian skirt steak, a cut that I’ve never heard of before, let alone tried, was cooked to perfection – tasty and juicy.

The three giant shrimp on a skewer, are even more so.

Both were covered in delicious sauce.

I also had half of half corn on the cob (so half a cob, which was then cut in half through the middle – sneaky!) and a street-style potato pancake patty thing, which went well with the food – it was quite sweet though

There was a humungous portion of roasted veg – green beans, carrots, potatoes, and jicama, which I had to ask what it was as I was eating. Turns out jicama is a South American tuber – you learn something new every day!

Paradiso37 - Surf & Turf
Paradiso37 - Surf & Turf

I couldn’t manage a dessert, but Liam, who always can, wanted the chocolate stack.

Steve and I tried a spoonful each, but Liam polished the lot off!

It was a mammoth dessert – very dense, dark, and rich. I don’t know how he managed it!

Paradiso37 - Chocolate Stack Dessert
Paradiso37 - Chocolate Stack Dessert

There was a LOT of staff in the restaurant, and our waiter, called Adam, was very upbeat, which I was expecting.

What I wasn’t expecting, however, was him to not actually do anything much with us as a table other than taking our order and bringing our bill!

I felt like giving a tip was a dilemma as he didn’t really do anything.

Pile on top, that when we actually booked, they ask if you are celebrating a special occasion, and we said it would be our 2nd wedding anniversary..we were a bit miffed that not so much a “happy anniversary” was muttered…

We went with the flow however and gave the suggested 18% tip. When in Rome…

Because it wasn’t very busy in there, there was zero atmosphere, and I was expecting to hear some nice South American music and not the British 80s junk we were subjected to!

From their website: 

Paradiso 37 is a high energy restaurant and bar located in Downtown Disney at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Paradiso 37 features North, Central and South American cuisine favourites all presented in a colorful and lively atmosphere overlooking the vibrant and exciting panorame of Downtown Disney. The combination of flavorful foods, signature cocktails and nightly entertainment allows guests to indulge in the cultures and tastes of the Americas; making Paradiso 37 a truly unique dining experience never to be forgotten

Would we eat there again? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

There didn’t seem to be much choice overall, especially for kids..however, if you’re knocking back a cocktail or two, with the place a bit busier, it’s probably a nicer experience.

My shrimp and steak were delicious though – I’d go back for that meal!

The total bill, with tip, was $107. As this was our first Disney dining experience, we didn’t know if this was average…or expensive…but hey ho. We’re on holiday!

After our early dinner, we strolled through Downtown Disney, when it started to rain it was a nice way to cool off!

We then dived into a shop that was selling Vinylmation.

Vinylmation Shop Sign
Vinylmation Display
Vinylmation Mickey Mouse Statue
Vinylmation Figurines

I spied this one – Mickey dressed in a pumpkin outfit and thought “I must have it!”

Pumpkin Mickey Vinylmation

But ’twas not to be…when I asked the guy where I could find it, he said that they are sold just randomly in the boxes.

I wasn’t prepared to take the $16 gamble, so we bought a ‘first visit’ one instead, which was available to buy.

I tried to find a ‘happy anniversary’ one, but they didn’t seem to understand me when I asked a member of staff if they had any.

I thought the lampshade in the store was cool, and the table filled with the different figurines was pretty epic.

Vinylmation Lamp Shade
Vinylmation Table
Old Timey Cash Register
Old Timey Cash Register

Into the next store which sold these giant chocolate-covered apples – so amazingly cute!

We didn’t buy any, but whenever I look back at the photos, I kinda wish we did!

Candy Apple Cauldron - Downtown Disney
Candy Apple Cauldron - Downtown Disney
Candy Apple Cauldron - Downtown Disney
Giant Mickey Gummy

Continuing through Downtown Disney, we noted where Bongos Cuban Cafe was, as we had an ADR there later in the week.

It was cool to see all the places that you read about on forums and in guidebooks!

Bongo's Cuban Cafe - Downtown Disney 2011
Downtown Disney 2011
House of Blues - Downtown Disney 2011
Planet Hollywood - Downtown Disney 2011
Planet Hollywood - Downtown Disney 2011
Wolfgang Puck Cafe - Downtown Disney 2011

Liam then spotted ‘Ride Makerz’ which turned out to be a place where you could build your own RC car – a bit like Build-a-Bear Workshops, but for RC cars!

I had not read anything about this place, but Liam had $100 in spending money, and not thinking he’d be too into the Disney thing, I let him go ahead and spend his money there.

RideMakerz - Downtown Disney 2011
RideMakerz - Downtown Disney 2011
Lightning McQueen - RideMakerz - Downtown Disney 2011

The car with the remote control and all the accessories came to $91.59 – pretty pricey, but he really wanted it.

It was his spending money, and he’s treasured it ever since!

He had lots of fun picking out all the parts and then helping to build his car too, which is all part of the price in my opinion.

Building a Car Hidden Mickey - RideMakerz - Downtown Disney 2011 (1)
Building a Car Hidden Mickey - RideMakerz - Downtown Disney 2011 (1)
RideMakerz - Downtown Disney 2011
RideMakerz - Downtown Disney 2011
Hidden Mickey - RideMakerz - Downtown Disney 2011

On the walk back to the car, he spotted ‘Build Your Own Dinosaur’ at the T-Rex Cafe…we quickly walked on by!

On the drive home in the rain, the sat nav (henceforth known as Homer!) seemed to take us a weird and long way back – but all part of the adventure I guess!

The rain was bucketing down, so I was on a go slow…luckily, there were not too many cars around, and it wasn’t too bad.

Disney Vacation Club

A big thunder and lightning storm ensued when we got home, so we sat and watched it from the villa with a coffee and a donut!
Tomorrow…Universal Studios…we hope!

All photos from this day can be found on my Flickr!

Read about the day after:
Day 3 – Our 1st Orlando Theme Park
Islands of Adventure and Mythos Restaurant

Read about the day before:
Day 1 – Up, Up & Away!
Travel Day: LGW-MCO

» Read ALL the days!

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