"Can't it be her birthday, too?" A 2 out of 3 birthdays trip report.
Hi, all! We haven't been back from our trip for long, and I thought I'd try my hand (again?) at a trip report.
Me (birthday on 6-24)
DD (turned 5 on 6-25)
Mom (birthday in February..)
Home: POR, Oak Manor (Room 9260)
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...
A few years ago, Mom thought it would be a fabulous thing to take my DD on a trip to WDW when she was 4. She'd heard October was the right time to go, and it was going to be a grandparents/granddaughter only trip. By February of 2008, I was the one planning the trip -- and the one who put down the downpayment and made the reservation! In the end, Dad didn't go, but us girls had a wonderful time.
So wonderful, in fact, that we'd barely been back for two weeks when the next trip was booked. They started those "get in free on your birthday" commercials...and the wheels in my head just started turning. DD's bday and mine are ONLY one day apart...and we still have one day left from the tickets from the last trip...I'd only have to pay for transportation and lodging. We could go down the 23rd...come back the 26th...it sounded so perfect...
Then Mom handed me the $200 and told me to book for the 3 of us for a week. :eek:
In January, I thought about her job in retail and how inventory has been in June in the more recent years...and asked if it would interfere with our trip. BOOM! The very next day, the inventory date was announced to be two weeks (roughly) after our trip, and they won't let her take vacation 4 weeks beforehand. I add a day to the trip (yay 4/3 promotion!) and downgrade from CBR to POP for the JIC, but we keep our fingers crossed the inventory date gets moved. The trip gets moved back from 6/20-6/27 to 5/30-6/6; no good...I forgot about DDs dance recital on 5/31, my doctor's appointment on 6/2, etc. Of course, then Mom talked to her assistant manager who said the inventory date hadn't been confirmed yet...so it could still change. Mom hands me her credit card and tells me to book a second ressie...the emergency ressie for the original week. This one is at POR. We'll just hold it for a few days...and decide which one we want.
When I call to get the two reservataions (hopefully) merged, they cancel the 5/30-6/6 one and tell me they are going to just transfer the trip insurance to the other reservation as well as the payment (which, I *accidentally* paid for the whole trip when trying to make a partial payment...good thing I had the money for it in the bank, right?) Everything but the insurance was transferred. I had to call back inquire why we owed so much and was told that they would refund the trip insurance since, essentially, the trip wasn't really cancelled. (Never got the refund, btw.)
The next big worry rears it's head...tenure. I'm a teacher...the economy sucks...teachers are getting cut left and right everywhere you look...and it's my tenure year. But we've had so much trouble just trying to get everything organized plus all the other stress that was going on that I decided I'd go regardless of if I had a job at the end of the school year or not. You see...my students were especially horrid (behavior-wise) this year, plus extremely low-performing, I'm on a zillion committees at school, and the week school let out...kids got out that Thursday, which is the same time I got to find out if I had my job or not; Friday, I still had to go into school for at least half a day, then rush home to get the flowers that were Fed-Exed in for my brother's wedding, then rush to get my DD for dance recital dress rehearsal at 3:30 followed immediately by preschool graduation at 7. It was also graduation for my now-sister-in-law and at the school I teach at. (Guess which I went to?) Saturday was my brother's wedding (which I was the wedding coordinator for...and, apparently, the only one in the local area who had a CLUE how to have a wedding...amazing, since I've never had one myself...). And, finally, that Sunday was the actual dance recital.
Results? I had a job. The flowers arrived and were beautiful. Thankfully, my aunt came in for the weekend and drove so I could yank DD off the stage after her second dance and change her clothes for graduation while we were in the car. The wedding went just fine. And, after all that, I felt I was either deserving of massive amounts of alcohol or a vacation! (Guess which won out there?)
Mom managed to weasel her way into coming -- she actually asked her manager if she worked Saturday and Sunday before the trip, if she could have Thursday and Friday as her days off and just take Wednesday off. What would be wrong with just one actual day off? He said no. So she asked if she'd approve her time if she called in sick. He said yes....as long as it was vacation time...then told her AM to approve for her to be sick -- said over two months in advance!
What does that mean? A mother-daughter birthday adventure for four days before another responsible adult shows up!
So, hopefully, you'll join me as I start tomorrow recounting the tale! Pictures (food piccies, anyhow...not sure how many others I'll throw up here).
Day One: The Drive & Arrival (6/20) "Welcome Home!"
As a teacher and with this being a summer break, it's a bittersweet moment when that vacation day finally arrives. It is so exciting that you are finally getting to go, and yet...it means it's that much closer to your summer vacation being over.
10 days out, I was so excited over getting to do online check-in, I did it! 4 days out, I faxed in a room request and a request for one of those special autographed birthday wishes left in our room. The day before, I woke up my DD and tried to get her excited for the trip...nothing doing! Maybe she just wasn't awake yet?
She passed out relatively early (for her, anyway). I had to finish packing...then get some last-minute cleaning done...hey, I couldn't sleep anyway. I think I passed out around 1 and was up at 4. Shower, get the car packed. Take piccies of the sleeping babe before I wake her and tell her it's time to go....Check, check, and check.
6am-ish, and we're on the road for a roughly 7 hour drive! First long trip by myself with an almost 5 year old! First stop...20 miles down the road when she drops something where she can't reach it. Second stop... Krispie Kreme! That evil sign advertising Hot! Fresh! Now! Doughnuts. Hm.. DD had her obligatory breakfast "Hop Cart" (Pop Tart), but I haven't had anything. I hit the drive through only to be severely disappointed. This is not a Hot! doughnut. Relatively fresh but also very cold.
Stop #3: another quarter-mile down the road when DD drops something else where she can't reach -- or thinks she does. This had best not become a pattern! With a little luck, she didn't get enough sleep and she's out before we reach the Florida line! Less than an hour into the trip, and she's deeply asleep. We might make it.
Stop #4: First rest stop right after we hit I-10. Wait a minute! Where are the maps? Tons of printed paper reports of where all the summer road construction is, but not a single map to be found anywhere?
Stop #5: Gas in Lake City. I KNEW I should have topped off yesterday...
Stop #6: Lunch in Gainesville. Did I forget something? Oh yeah...the cooler, which I don't think I've seen since Mom bought it two weeks ago. Where exactly did she leave it, anyway? Maybe I could find a store here to buy a new one.... No chance of that. Spidey senses say I'm about to get lost, so I must turn around and go back to I-75.
No more stops until we get to Port Orleans Riverside. I'm giggly all the way to the counter. One of the concierge CMs sees me standing waiting as the next (and only) person in the Online Check In line (the other person seems to be taking a long time), so he gets my stuff and checks me in. I swear, the words, "Welcome Home," almost make me cry.
Our room is in Oak Manor, one of the buildings I requested. We drive back to the appropriate parking lot and decide not to take much of the stuff out of the car. I didn't know it was going to take a mile walk just to get to the room!
Here's what we saw when we got the door open:
I managed to get all of our stuff in the room in only two trips (meaning I had to get DD to carry her own stuff). We get everything more or less settled, then off to the pool! We went to the quiet pool, which wasn't really very quiet. My daughter...when did she become brave around water? In the past, I've had to carry her in and hold her tightly. She wouldn't even go in with a float without massive coercing. Now, she's bouncing around in water up to her neck, no protection, and God forbid I should try to touch her!
Next up -- dinner review: Boatwright's.
Great start! I'm signing on for more. Will you be posting pictures?
Day One Part Two: Dinner Review Boatwright's 6/20
Our reservation for Boatwright's was at 6:05. Don't they always tell you to arrive at least 15 minutes before your ADR time? Well...we were there....and we were told "Your reservation is at 6:05; come back in 13 minutes."
So we wandered around the lobby. Or, more, I found a place to sit while my DD harassed the cariacature artist while she was setting up her booth. (One of those things we SHOULD have done, but, alas, didn't.) Of course, the more she bugs some one and you threaten to take her away from said person, the more said person says, "Oh, she's not bothering me...it's okay." And then what? Fortunately, 6:05 came pretty quick...we were back at Boatwright's, and given a pager and told to wait.
The wait isn't that long; DD gets to talk to a child who likes to play with rubber bands.
DD decides she wants pizza. No problem. We're on vacation, right? I decide to go for steak.
First up: bread:
Fresh whipped butter...absolutely wonderful pair. DD won't try it.
I ordered the Corn & Crab Soup. It's good, but nothing to necessarily write home about. The people at the next table are giving me a funny look for taking pictures of my food..
Now, about the time the steak comes, I'm txting my mother, who won't be down until Tuesday night, right? I take a picture with the phone and send it to her, and, of course, it's tender enough to be cut with a butter knife. It was very good, and it was a very tempting thought to book another reservation here for later in the week just so I could have this steak again.
I know I got something for DD for dessert, but cannot remember what it was at all. I got the No Sugar Added Lemon Pound Cake. The cake was a little dry, but fairly tasty. I had to get it to go, but, while that may have made it less pretty, it didn't make it any less tasty.
**Note: all ADRs were supposedly marked as it being our birthdays.
Birthday specials: 0
After dinner, we went for a walk. We found the main pool, which was so crowded, I can't imagine that anyone was really having any fun in it. Right next to the main pool is a playground that was completely abandoned. DD had a blast playing, although it really upset her when two little boys came sans parental supervision and didn't want to play with her. She was so busy trying to play with them while they were ignoring her, she didn't notice when they started swinging and about kicked her.
DD & I finished the evening just relaxing in the room. It was a lovely thought to not being trying to do too much for these first few days.
Next: Blizzard Beach!
Pictorial Interlude: POR Pics
The front door to our home for the week:
The view from outside the door:
The pool, as viewed from the second floor balcony. Note how many people seem to be in it, and that, by the time we got our suits on and got to it, it was pretty well full:
The horses...every single time we passed these...DD had to exclaim and ooh and aah over the horse. There was one at one end of the bridge to the main building and one at the other end, and we crossed this bridge a minimum of twice per day.
I was going to take DD on a carriage ride...really I was....but that was when I'd read the carriage rides were much cheaper than this...Where did I read that???
The playground on Old Man Island.
More pictures of the resort (including the inside of the room and more shots of the playground) available upon request.
Fantasmic start to a great Disney adventure. Great pictures!
I can't wait to hear more about POR. We are headed there in September for 9 nights. It looks beautiful as does your precious little one.
Also, thanks for the comments about the pictures! It's a new camera...or, relatively new...and I had much fears about it...
Next update will either be tonight or tomorrow...I'm planning on taking the DD to the local water park tomorrow and am already disappointed that it won't be Blizzard Beach...
Day Two: Blizzard Beach & DTD -- 6/21
I know I'm posting this later than I said I would, but I wound up at the local water park with DD yesterday and burned to a crisp. One day, I suppose I have to believe in sunscreen for myself, right? (Meaning that I put it on DD but neglect putting it on myself.)
So, anywho...on with the story!
Sunday was the second day of our trip. I figured that the parks might not be the best place to go in the morning as people headed out might hit the parks before they left. Therefore, what better option than a water park?
When we went in October, we'd paid the extra money for the Water Parks Fun & More option, but we never made it to a park. I did not realize until a couple of weeks before the trip that, with No Expiration, the WPF&M entries do not expire either! (Thank you DIS Boards!) I didn't buy this option this trip, but, with 6 entries per person left over from last time (we didn't use it at all in October), we were fine!
I was in no hurry to get us out the door. We went to the Riverside Mill Food Court for breakfast -- Mickey waffles all around (I didn't take pictures of most of the QS food.) We went back to the room, got what little stuff we were taking with us, and went for the South Depot.
I should probably note that I was fairly undecided on which water park we were going to head for. I had started off leaning more towards Typhoon Lagoon. However, DD takes dance, and the Tuesday afternoon before we left on this adventure, all of us dance mothers were sitting about in the dance school lobby discussing Disney. Another parent had recently taken her daughter, and she was asking about our plans. I told her I was planning on taking DD to a water park (you know...since it's June and we already have the tickets that will never expire...) She asked which one. When I said I wasn't sure, she told me to go to Blizzard Beach -- not that she'd been, of course, but it was featured on a Travel Channel show of the top ten water parks in the world. I was sold.
Not one...not two...but THREE busses for Downtown Disney & Typhoon Lagoon passed by before the bus for Blizzard Beach & Animal Kingdom. I was seriously starting to doubt my choice in water parks -- if another Typhoon Lagoon bus had come by, I was taking it! It wound up being 9:30 before we made it inside Blizzard Beach. Still not crowded.
First goal: rent a locker. ($10 for a small, which was way bigger than what we needed....and $5 refunded when you bring back the key.) I asked about getting DD a life preserver...the cashier directed me to it and advised me that anyone who told me it would cost $25 or my picture ID lied...as long as they were available, they were free. (I'd also note that I remember seeing somewhere that towels could be rented for $8...they were $2...not that I rented one or anything. Oh...and the word "lied" came directly from the CM. Not me.)
Stuff in locker...life preserver for the non-swimmer acquired...next goal: find a map and figure out where, exactly, we are going. Why...the family raft, of course! Get it over with quickly so if it terrifies the DD and she won't do it again, then we can spend the rest of the day at the kiddie pool or on the lazy river...
I herd her over the the chair lift. Personally, I'm terrified of heights. The chair lift probably isn't the best idea. But my DD is a brave little soldier, and I figure I can endure it just for her. We wait in line for 5 or more minutes and I start coaching her on how she will absolutely have to sit still on this ride. Then she gets a good look at the ride and how it lifts into the air. She is suddenly terrified of this ride. We back out, and I start looking for option number 2: the stair climb of death!!
Okay...maybe it's not really that bad. After all..DD sprinted up the stairs while I was pulling myself up, inch by inch....how far is this, anyway? Will we never get there? Once you arrive huffing and puffing to the top, how can you possibly be worried about how far up you are?
It's a short wait at the top for Teamboat Springs. We, of course, had to ride with another family since there must be a minimum of 4 in the raft. No big deal there, though. Absolutely FUN ride! After we get to the bottom, I'm already trying to get DD to go back on it...except...on the way there...we find the preteen area. She does the iceburg walk...very slowly...much to the annoyance of several slightly older (and taller..) children. She makes it across eventually with no problems, then I'm chasing her all over and she can't decide exactly where she's going. What better time to haul her back up the steps for another run at Teamboat Springs. Except...I'm not hauling, I'm crawling, and there she goes sprinting up again.
Second ride, we're with a foreign couple. DD, having been on the ride all of one time is now an expert at this ride. She proceeds to try to tell them everything there is to know about the ride while I wonder why I'm the only one sitting on my side of the raft. Isn't the weight supposed to be distributed evenly?!? Holy crow... No incidents, though.
Next, we're headed to Tikes Peak. Water slide heaven for the little ones. I found a place in the shade to sit and watch her play -- who's that boy? Don't follow him on top of that precarious and likely slippery thing? (If I didn't mention it before, we had played in the pool for a while the day before, and she wound up finding a boy to play with...) Unfortunately, it seems that some one has wanted to make friends with me, too: a dogfly. The only biting bug I encountered on the whole trip. And it only bothered me as long as I was in the shade.
I had a very difficult time getting DD away from this area. We head back to the locker for more sunscreen (for her, naturally) and take a water (drinking) break. Next stop: Cross Country Creek.
As we get into the creek, getting a float for her wasn't a problem. And she sat in it attentively, as though she might miss something if she relaxed and kicked back. It took a little longer for me to find a float for myself, not to mention figure out how to get myself situated in it. Once I did, though, I was able to put my feet on her float (kept us together), lay back, and just enjoy the ride.
Somewhere along the way, though...DD gets restless. How dare she be expected to just float along lazily! There is a world out there for adventure! And, with that life preserver vest...she can feel like she is actually swimming (even though she's tall enough to stand up in the creek with no problems..)
Time for a new position in the float...and I discovered the REAL purpose in the strap that's supposed to go between the child's legs: so you can hold on while they "swim" onward! She pulled me through until the little house for Ice Gator (or whatever his name is)..you know...where he sneezes large amounts of water out of the chimney. She wanted to just hang out right there, but we didn't. Next thing I know, DD is telling me she wants to ride on my float. I let go of her, shimmy out of the float....and she's gone! Took off down the creek. It was a ploy to get me to let go of her. It doesn't take but a moment to catch up...and then I'm swimming behind her, still letting her pull me along.
After a second trip around the creek, I haul her out. I buy a root beer float for us to split, then figure it's time for us to head back to the resort. We only spend 3 hours there, but we had a blast, have other things we need to do, and I don't want us to burn. I buy her a Cinderella temporary tatoo and take a picture of it with my camera phone to send to Mom. She immediately texts back -- What is that? When I tell her that it's a tatoo, her response is "Not a realy one I hope" because "Well, you know how she likes going to the doctor and needles and getting shots!" Imagine! My mother really thought I'd get my not-quite 5 year old a real, honest-to-God tattoo!
(*Note: no waterproof camera; therefore, no Blizzard Beach pictures*)
My original plan was to get lunch at DTD, but, now, I think we'll get it at Riverside Grill. She gets pizza, and I go for a turkey sandwich (very yummy).
We make a quick stop in the room to change clothes and exchange stuff before catching the boat to DTD. While we are in there, the mousekeeper comes in. DD will not leave her alone for anything, showing her what everything is for, including the nice dress I brought for our Narcoosee's ADR. I finally usher the babe out the door, and we're off to catch the boat.
Apparently, I took more than a few pictures of the things I saw on the boat ride. French Quarter and the Treehouse Villas. (Were we getting a pitch on all the features...invest in DVC?? Because our navigator told us everything he could think of about those treehouses.)
Sadly, I didn't get as many pictures while we were DTD as I thought I did. Such as the "animals" outside Rainforest Café that DD just loved watching.
First stop: Disney's Days of Christmas. Obligatory 2009 Christmas ornament, plus a few others. Hope across to Wonderful World of Memories and through the Art of Disney. Then...Goofy's Candy shop. She fills up a tube with sour flavored candies, and I finally get to take a crack at some dipped pretzels. All dipped and drizzled with white chocolate. One dipped in sprinkles, one in chopped pecans, and one in crushed Oreos. All that and a bottle of water, and we head outside. While she watches the Rainforest Café aligator, I choose a pretzel rod...and choose the wrong one. The pecans. Ooohhhh.....absolutely one of the yummiest sweet things I've ever had! It was tempting to go back and have more of these made, but, alas...I'm developing a headache. I decide it's best for us to head home. Maybe a nap -- and DD could certainly use one -- will make the headache go away.
We did come back to a towel animal.
Headache. Didn't I bring Tylenol? When we get back, I check my backpack, where I put all such emergency items. Not there. Maybe it's a caffeine headache? I down one of the two Mello Yellos I broght with me. (In October, we'd found ONE vending machine that sold them, and the night I really needed one...it was out.) Didn't work.
We rest for a bit, then clean up and change clothes for our dinner ressies at Narcoosee's.
Which, sadly, will have to be next up tomorrow, as it's all I can do tonight to keep my eyes open to type this. I'm sure I need to break up my days into smaller portions...
Day Two Part Two: Narcoosee's: The Best and the Worst of Dinners
DD is dressed in her pink Easter dress that we bought on clearance so she could be a flower girl in my brother's wedding. I'm in a black/tan dress with a black jacket. Both of us in sandals -- hers fairly dressy white sandals with heels and rhinestones.
And did I mention I have a headache? Nothing for it. Caffeine didn't help. Now it is progressing to that stage that includes nausea. Not a fabulous thought when heading for dinner, but...maybe I haven't had enough to eat?
We go to the East Depot -- which, even though we clocked it as a seven minute walk, I swear has to be closer than South Depot by the lobby. Why are people looking at us oddly? Is it because we're dressed up and headed in the direction of Magic Kingdom? Surely not.
The bus gets there, and I start thinking to myself...Monorail. It may be the only chance we take to ride it. We didn't ride in the front on the October trip...so we must do this as a totally awesome birthday thing, right?
We get to the monorail station. I ask...can we? The answer -- I think the next one will be occupied...but, if there's room after that...sure." We are directed to the appropriate spot to stand. Another mother and child join us. Both of us have 7:05 ADRs on the GF complex, but I was willing to wait a little longer. Through THREE trains. None of which had an available spot in the front. You know...if I ever get that coveted front spot...I'm going to only ride for a short distance..because I know there might be another family wanting to ride there. (Okay, yeah...I know..I say this now...)
The train has a long wait in the Contemporary. Or maybe it was the TTC. And then I realize that the BOATS would have been the way to go...isn't Narcoossee's the one right off the boat deck? Crud.
Off the monorail in the GF...to the stair case. And my child stands at the top of the stairs, too terrified to move. Wait...my child? This can't be my daredevil of a child who sprinted up all those stairs at Blizzard Beach this very same morning, is it? I heft her up and we pound down the stairs. We're late. Avoid the crowds, sprint out the door and down the sidewalk.
We slide into the restaurant at 7:15. I apologize profusely for being late...state that I will understand if I am turned away. The CM acting as hostess says "Late? Nah...you're not late." She gives me a pager. And then it's time for the frantic preschooler need-to-gotta-potty-right-NOW dance. Naturally, as soon as we're in the restroom and she is comfortably on the potty...the pager starts buzzing in my hand. BUZZ BUZZ BUZZZZZZZZZZZ!!! This is followed by the Mommy hurry-up-and-go-before-they-think-we-left dance. Hands washed...and we rush out to a confused-looking hostess. (You could see it in her face. "This lady was just right HERE...and she was really hoping we'd let her in after she was 10 minutes late...where'd she go?")
We are seated at a lovely table for two that is not by the window, but it's good enough. DD chooses her seat with her back to the window, and I'm thrilled to get to face it and more or less watch the sun set. (Not really.) I peruse the wine list because I remember seeing one online that sounded just fab. And while it's a lovely thought to have a glass of wine...I know that, between the headache and the nausea..it's not a good idea. *sigh* When The Best Waiter Ever starts going over the list of drinks included on the DDP and hits "Ginger Ale", I jump on that option. Surely, that will help?
I start with the Green Goddess Salad. It was so wonderfully yummy...and yet...because of the nausea...I couldn't do more than pick at it. It's so disappointing to have really awesome food in front of you and not feel like you can eat it.
And of course there was bread, all nice and warm and crusty:
With fresh butter with some sort of salt sprinkled on it (I should have wrote that one down.):
DD's starter was chicken noodle soup. I thought she had a better chance of eating that than pretty much anything else that was on the children's menu. I was a little shocked that the soup looked suspiciously like the Campbell's with the Princesses...but I can neither confirm nor deny that fact. (If I didn't mention it before, I did not take too many pictures of items from the children's menu because, for the most part, the children's menu is just boring.)
Suddenly and without much warning, DD lays her head down on the table...and falls asleep. Here I was, worried about her behavior in the nice restaurant...and, instead...she's asleep. The waiter offers to just box up the rest of the meal without bringing it to the table...and I think about trying to carry her roughly 40 pound body plus the food...surely it would be better for me to try to enjoy my meal and let her sleep...besides...usually she wakes up when the food comes.
When the waiter (I WISH I could remember his name!) offers to take my barely touched salad, I tell him it is absolutely wonderful...but I have an awful headache that has made me feel nauseous...and he brings me two Rapid Release Tylenol caplets and a glass of water, returning every few minutes to encourage me to drink more water. He tells me that he had a similar experience the previous day after spending the time at Blizzard Beach. He was just dehydrated...and after taking two Tylenol and drinking a ton of water, he felt much better.
My steak is a little slow getting to me, and DD still hasn't woke up yet, so they box up hers before bringing it to the table -- I didn't even get to see it before it went into the box. My steak is wonderfully tender and, well...just wonderful. But I can't eat it. Mine is boxed up, too. My waiter throws in a 1Litre bottle of Evian (I assume, since I was not charged, that this took the place of our desserts?)
Now...this special dinner...even though it was not my birthday yet...this was my birthday meal, so to speak. Meaning, this is the meal that I had called up and ordered the mini castle cheesecake. MY birthday cake. And I had to ask for it to also be boxed up...without seeing it beforehand.
My waiter (from Germany...not that that helps) treated me so well (so I felt), that I would gladly go back on the next trip. I left him a huge tip and picked up my paper tote bag full of wonderful food stuffs, hefted my sleeping babe, and made my way out of the restaurant about an hour an a half after we'd entered. I got about halfway to the boat deck when I started to feel DD slipping out of my grasp that I had to wake her up and make her walk. She curled up on the bench next to me as we waited at least half an hour for the boat to show up.
Now...it was likely a good reason for the slowness of the boat...as the boats for the little water show sailed past us while we waited. Not the best picture, but taken after we made it across the lake:
By the time we manage to ride the bus back to Riverside's East Depot and get back in the room, she's pretty well awake and my headache has gone and left me with an appetite. Of course, Narcoossee's had filet on the children's menu...and of course...since it was hers...DD wouldn't touch it. I, on the other hand, devour mine. Even cold, it was wonderful. Perfectly cooked...tender enough to not need a knife. Even the cheesy potatoes and fresh green beans were good...even though, by this point, it was all getting cold. (Now, yes, I know it hadn't been refridgerated and all that jazz...and if you wouldn't have eaten it after that...then that's you. Flame me not for know risks and all that jazz and still enjoying my expensive steak.)
Then...it was time to break out the cheesecake. I'd like to note that I asked (since I knew it was covered in buttercream and buttercream flowers) could it please be pink instead of white...a resounding NO to that...not even at an upcharge. (Do they not have pink frosting?)
I probably could have done without the frosting covering it, but the cheesecake part was divine! DD would eat nothing but the frosting...when it got to the actual cake...she was done and claimed she didn't like it. I ate half, then slipped the rest into the fridge for a later time. (Yeah, right, right?)
Pajamas and rest for our first day in the parks!
"Let's Ride the Big Ball" -- Day 3, 6/22: Adventures in EPCOT
After waiting forever for a bus the day before, I have a new plan. We get everything ready that's going with us to the park and take it to breakfast with us. I suppose I got in the other habit in October, because Mom wanted to go to breakfast, come in for one last bathroom trip, then head for the bus. But, there are at least 3 bathrooms available in the main building (one in the food court area, one to the right of Fulton's store, and one in the lobby to the right of where you check in.) We should be fine.
Mickey waffles again, which, is it just me, or are these better than the ones at CBR? Must just be me.
As soon as we've finished breakfast, we are out to the South Depot. Generally (rather, especially in the morning), South Depot is the first stop for buses at POR. Some of them go to POFQ first, then come to South. In other words, if you are at a different bus stop, you may be waiting a long time for a bus. (So, tip: get on at South in the morning, then get off wherever is closest to your room.)
We got lucky today...a bus there almost as soon as we got to the depot. We're at EPCOT shortly after 9 -- not early enough for rope drop, but crowds aren't horrible yet. We rent a stroller for 5 days -- single stroller and inquire about an upgrade. (Strollers are so wonderful for carrying extra stuff...not that I would turn into Rebecca Brandon and spend a bunch of money on one JUST to carry all my purchases..Really!)
Next stop: Test Track. This is one of those rides that we wanted to do in October but couldn't make it. The first time, we had no sense of strategy; the second time, we had come back to EPCOT after spending half a day (maybe) in HS. Oh, look! DD is tall enough for the ride!
The posted time of a 15 minute standby wait was roughly accurate. The queue was interesting...I think my brother would have enjoyed looking at some of the stuff there. Here's one image:
We get into the preshow area where they give you the gimmick (here's all the tests we're going to put your car through), and then...more line! (Joy...) We're finally in the car, and it doesn't seem like the ride is quite what it's hyped up to be...although...that speed run at the end was pretty awesome. (I'd ride it again, if I could get in the short line...) DD, on the other hand, hated the ride.
Car showroom at the end. The futuristic-looking concept car required a picture, as did the Hummer one seater:
DD has fussed about going to be an astronaut in the Big Ball, so we go over to Mission Space. I tell her she can really pretend to be an astronaut on that ride (not that I've ever been on it), but I wasn't sure if she could ride it or not. Turns out...not. I'm glad that I took the time to prepare her that she might not get to ride it, because she was okay with being told she wasn't tall enough. (Although, we had the brief moment of Yay! She can ride! -- until I realized she was standing on her toes.)
Now, I know that the next place we should go to is Soarin', at the very least for a fastpass. But, instead. We go to Ellen's Energy Adventure. It is so dark in the auditorium that I didn't go that far in just because I couldn't see. We did manage to find a seat at the very edge of a bench along the wall. As we go into the theater to load the cars, DD starts crying. She is suddenly terrified of this ride and wants off. I had a hard time convincing her she wanted to ride, but, finally, we're closed in. She keeps her ears covered (which makes me notice that the sound IS really loud.) But, as we move through things..especially when we get to the dinosaurs, DD is in awe. By the time we are off, DD is wanting to ride it again, but maybe later.
Innoventions is next, mostly because I'm letting her lead, so to speak. We wander through, and she's not very interested in doing anything. It's like she's looking for something, but what? She gets us in the line for The Weather Channel's storm exhibit, which, admittedly, was interesting, but not something that would require a return trip. There was a lady in line carrying a paperback. Why didn't I think of that?
As memory serves, that was one of those attractions where they pass out the 3-D glasses. I have some eye problems, so those things don't work for me. So, sure, it probably would have been better if both eyes functioned normally.
We head to "the Big Ball", aka Spaceship Earth. As an English teacher, I love the history of communication through the beginning of half of the ride...I could do without the "choose your future" bit of the second half, but I think that's what DD loves about the ride.
We head out of there (it's too crowded to do any of the activities). I think it was about 11:30. DD is starting to complain about being hungry, so we go in the direction of The Land. The massive amount of people heading in and out of that pavilion had me turning the stroller in the direction of the World Showcase. It is open now, and we'll figure out what we want to eat on the way.
Next stop? World showcase!
Day Three, Part II: We're Off To See the World Showcase!
We are headed in the direction of Canada. DD requests to go through the rose gardens -- I don't know if she just doesn't know it's not a quicker route of if she just really wants to see all of the pretty flowers.
The last time we were here, it was Food & Wine Festival season, so, already, EPCOT looks off because of its lack of booths. At this early hour, it looks downright empty. (That will change, though.)
Our mission: Lunch. Where to eat lunch. Hmm. Perhaps I should have gone in through Mexico instead?
Nothing in Canada, and I'm trying not to slow down too much here, because DD is complaining fairly often of her hunger.
Shuffle on to the UK. The only thing I'm aware of here is the Fish & Chips. While I might be interested, DD is a little hit or miss when it comes to Fish. My plan of getting the teacup to match the teapot Mom bought in October but gave me for Christmas will have to wait.
On to France...is there a non-pastry CS in France? Would DD eat it if there were? Wait...there's Belle, with no line! How fortunate!
Of course, we must have a quick stop at the kiosk selling Slushies. Today's choice: Grey Goose Lemon. It's served in a plastic glass much like a martini glass, and, as I walk along pushing the stroller, the drink tends to slosh out. Other than that, it's not bad and is pretty refreshing on a hot day. Here it is a few minutes later, slightly melted:
Okay...Morrocco. DD loves meatballs and rice...so we find a table at the Tangierine Café for all of our stuff and head in for food. DD has no interest instanding with me, but, since our table is outside, I won't let her go out, either. She finds a place to sit on the floor within eyesight of me.
My plan here was to get something that wasn't chicken fingers or pizza that she would eat. If she doesn't eat it, we'll move on to somewhere else and get another something. So I get the Meatball Platter.
I think I managed one meatball before she abducts the plate. She ate a couple of meatballs and a spoonful of rice or two (which, admittedly, is generally a pretty good meal for her...) before she was done. Now, the meatballs were decent, but there was an odd flavor to them to me. Not bad necessarily, but this did not make it the greatest dish in the world.
My side dish was hummus. YUM! I could have just eaten this and been happy -- in fact..that's pretty much exactly what I did. DD did not seem to care for either hummus or pita chips.
The last sad little part of our meal was the baklava for dessert. Why was it sad? Well, DD didn't eat much, and I was on a mission to eat fast so we could move on and get food for her that hopefully was not standard fare and that she would eat. So my poor little dessert was wrapped up and taken with us, not eaten! And...of course...I forgot about it. So I did not get so much as a taste of it. And that is sad.
Next is Japan, and I remember that there is a CS that serves a teriyaki chicken for kids. That would work. Before I can find it, she sees the KakiGori stand, and we're getting a strawberry shaved ice. What a meal...a few bites of meatballs and rice and about a third of a cone of shaved ice. She started off sitting in the stroller to eat the ice, but then it dripped and spilled, and I sent her to a bench so I could clean out the stroller. Then I look and there are big red splotches on the sidewalk and on her shoes. What a mess!
One of my plans was to do a Mommy & Me birthday pick-a-pearl, so we're back tracking a bit. We won't go into the store until she's finished with the ice, but we can wait outside. The ice, however, is quickly forgotten. Miyuki the candy lady is performing her first show of the day. (Or, I think it was her first show.) DD is transfixed.
DD is also supremely upset that she didn't get picked for free shiny candy. So I tell her we'll go into the store here and shop, and maybe it'll be time for her again when we come out. My objective here is the Pick-a-Pearl. There is a large crowd around the tanks, and I'm finding it difficult to get over to pay for it and keep my child in tow. She refuses to follow me, and I figured she was so entranced by the tanks, she'll stay right there while I go pay for 2 picks, right? Wrong. As soon as I pay and get a number, I turn around to find her sitting on the floor by the door with a cast member, crying her little eyes out because Mommy's gone. At least she didn't go far and found a cast member.
I drug DD over to the tanks. It's our turn already (go figure), and we each pick our oysters from the tank.
They are opened:
DD's is 7mm, and mine is 7 & 3/4mm. Yay! The pearls are shown to everyone, the drums are played, and we get our treasures.
The experience (i.e. -- the show) was pretty neat. Interesting that ALL of the pearls are "hiding". And, when they show off the pearl, they make sure to point out who the pearl belongs to.
Now we go to pick a setting -- what good is it to have a pretty new pearl and can't wear it? I'd seen settings on the DIS of small and large butterflies. I'd thought that would be the best "Mommy/Daugther" package. My DD, though...she wanted the big butterfly, so I went for a cage (which, come to think of it, probably suits me better than a butterfly.) The time quote was twenty minutes, so we wandered through the rest of the store. DD's only thought was of how quickly we could get back outside, because she wanted to get back to Miyuki. Tell me how to explain to an almost 5 year old that it's just not time for that yet? She won't be out there?
Usually, I buy a set of chopsticks. I was almost tempted to buy a chopstick rest that was shaped like an origami crane, but I resisted. I could not resist the Collon cookies (they are like mini Pirouettes -- a thin, cripsy sweet crepe filled with cream and rolled up) and Soda Stick Candy (one of those things that, since it's all in Japanese, if you haven't had it before, you probably won't know what it is. See this website. (As a note, this website does lead to a retailer that is wholly not affiliated with me, although at times I do purchase a lot from them... At the time of this posting, said website is out of stock of the mentioned product. The posting of this website is not intended to drum up business for the seller..but a good deal of what they sell IS offered at the Japan pavillion and would give people reading a shopping list of sorts -- because now they can see the picture and an English description and get an idea of whether or not they want to spend their money on said items while at the Japan pavillion of the EPCOT park. To any moderators who may be reading this: if such a posting of a website is not allowed, please let me know and I will edit out the link.) I debate whether I should buy one package or two...the last time I ordered this, I got a case of it (10 packages), and had to fight my DD over the candy. Hrm. I am sorely disappointed that there is no BlackBlack gum -- minty, caffeinated chewing gum that is colored black.
Unfortunately, today is a workshop day, and I should be getting ready to go. I will have to continue my adventures in the World Showcase at a later time.
I want candy! Still in EPCOT...
When we left the store in Japan, there was still 15-20 minutes before Miyuki came back, so we found a place to sit and wait. And as people started to fill in, I picked a spot right next to the rope.
I went ahead and coached my DD -- you understand you might not get one, right? And you cannot get upset if she doesn't choose you...but...if you are chosen...what do you want? Her choice? A pink sea horse.
There was another family withe a slightly older girl who wanted one. DD was picked, although Miyuki wasn't clear if she'd meant my DD or the girl next to us, but she promised that, as long as we weren't in the same family, both girls could get candy.
So, DD got her silly pink seahorse.
She set it up to dry and chose a child on the other side. I leaned down to the other little girl and told her to not forget to get Miyuki's attention when she brought my DD's candy. The girl told me she was going to get a turtle -- her family had been giving her all kinds of suggestions. So I told her...if it were me getting what I wanted, I would have asked for a pegasus. You should have seen the light in that child's eyes! Her candy? A blue pegasus. I should have gotten a picture.
Between this pavillion and the next was a character bonanza! And not that many people, either!
I love this picture:
The next pavillion is the American Adventure. I must admit...I've never thought of this one as much more than a walk through. Of course, there are several that I have not truly explored..perhaps the next trip?
Italy.. My feet are getting tired at this point, and there's a bench in the shade! It's a good time for some water, too, so I scoot us over to the bench and we sit. We weren't there long when the World Showcase Players appear and set up for a performance of Romeo and Edna. It's the first time I'd ever stumbled across it, and was hilarious. I love audience participation!
Another pavillion that didn't get fully explored. Hrm.
In Germany, DD couldn't get away from the train set. And she followed it, the best she could anyhow. We did duck into some stores here...most notably the candy store. I think they were shocked when I bought 3 packages of Mozart Kugel, otherwise known as the Best Candy Ever! (3 packages with 10 truffle-sized candies...roughly $40. But worth it! And not available anywhere near home except at Christmas! Mmmm.... I worry a little about the heat...heat + chocolate = not good, but I put them in my bag, in the shade, and hope for the best.
It seems like we went through China, but I cannot remember why. I was looking for something...but what? I don't know. We didn't stay there, long, though. (Although...getting a parasol was a tempting idea...Portable shade! But logic kicked in and said it probably wouldn't be prudent to try to hold a parasol AND push a stroller.)
Norway! DD remembers there is a ride here. My feet are really starting to hurt, but we go stand in the line anyway. I can't remember if it was quoted as 20 or 40 minutes for the wait, but it seems like we weren't in line too much longer than 20 minutes.
When we get off the Maelstrom boat...we get a surprise. the doors are closed. In all the times riding this, the doors have never been closed, trapping you in the dark. My DD talks to the CMs there. I'm pretty sure they want her to leave them alone. I tried getting pictures, but I was one of those that felt ..well.. they SAID no flash photography .. does that count here, too? So I have pictures that look almost like ghosts in the dark.
Finally, the doors open, and we move into the theater. The majority of the crowd that had amassed goes straight through and out the other side. DD wants to watch the movie, so we sit and wait. And wait. And wait. Others who had decided to wait with us get tired of waiting and skip out on the movie. I'm almost ready to when the lights dim, the doors close, and we get to watch the short movie.
DD begs to PUHLEEEEEEZEcanweridethisagain??? Somehow, I convince her we should move on.
Mexico! Finally! And -- wait a minute! Who is that? Donald, and no line? I send her in. Somewhere, I should note that I quite often had to fuss at her and tell her to hug and get a picture -- she would sashay up to a character, hand over the autograph book, get the autograph, and then she was through. :confused:
So here is Donald, posing with DD:
And here is Donald, posing with DD, after I shouted, "Say 'Donald's the Best!'":
You tell me: which picture is better? :thumbsup2
Into the Mexico pavillion. We ride the Gran Fiesta Tour three times, only having to wait the first ride. I manage to get her into Arribas Brothers so I can buy her $12 glass slipper with the birthstone. The CM tells me I can have it engraved for $2...IF...I am willing to walk back to Germany. Are you kidding me? My feet are killing me! But...we will be back in EPCOT Thursday...
I finally manage to haul DD out of the pyramid. She's hungry, and what she really wants to do is eat in San Angel Inn. But, even if they would take a walk-up at this point, the line to get in is quite long. (Looks like a 20 minute wait time to me, and that's just to get to the podium for check in!) We scoot out, and go to the Cantina de San Angel. She spent more time chasing birds who are looking for scraps of food than actually eating her food. And we had a lovely serenade of a woman at a nearby table saying to her husband, "Don't feed those birds! Our food will kill them! That stupid woman there should stop feeding them!" Me, of course, being the stupid woman. Seriously. If feeding them "our food" would really kill them, they wouldn't be there getting fat from "our food".
Anywho...we finish what was a really tasty meal, and DD vaults back across the way and we're on the Grand Fiesta Tour at least twice more. I amuse myself by trying to look for things I didn't notice the last three times or getting DD to pay attention to such things...such as the Donald pinata or Donald's clothes on the rocks where he's gone swimming.
There was a family that was in the row behind us on one of the rides. Husband, wife, and two kids -- a boy and a girl, I think. The dad in this family was extremely PO'ed -- apparently, the kids were fighting over who was going to sit by Mom. He laid into these kids, screaming at them. To an extent, I can understand. I mean, here it is the day after father's day and his kids are attached to Mom and not him. I might be hurt, too. I always evalluate myself when I hear another parent like this and ask myself if I've been like that and begging forgiveness just in case. (So far no meltdowns...) Fortunately, he did seem to calm down by the end of the ride.
I check the time. Close to 6. We start towards Journey Into Imagination. This is, apparently, DD's favorite ride. In October, I made sure I bought her a Figment plushie after we rode it. It is a walk-on. We probably should have gotten on it more than once, but didn't. We go from it to Honey, I Shrunk the Audience.
I remember seeing Honey, I Shrunk the Audience in 1998. You hope for updates. Sometimes...you PRAY for updates. Sadly, it's still the same show from 1998. Oh...and have I mentioned that I have serious eye problems where I cannot do things like those silly Magic Eye pictures or see 3D effects? DD loved it, though, so I should complain less.
By the time we got out, it was after 7. She begged to ride Imagination again, but it was closed. Then, we ventured too close to the leap frog water. There were other kids, hot and exhausted, who climbed up on the ledge to cool off. My DD, of course, could not be convinced that this might be a bad idea.
What else to do but head to Soarin' with no FastPass? It quoted an 80 minute wait..but it was an interactive wait, at least. DD was getting tired, and there was a part of the wait that I carried a sleepng child. She also had a few moments of crying that she was scared and she didn't want to ride it, but I knew better. As soon as it was over, she was shouting how that was an awesome ride!
Exiting Soarin', it was already after 9. IllumiNations was going on, and DD wanted to watch it. I thought, as tired as she was, perhaps going on to the resort would be a better idea. But my feet hurt (are we noticing a theme, here?) and she was tired, and there were people moving faster than us, so we perched within throwing distance of the exit and sat and watched people leave. There were a couple of photopass photographers taking those family photos in front of the "Big Ball" just down from where we were perched. I talked with Mom on the phone as DD fell asleep. I watched more people that I would have ever imagined could have been in that park leave.
Once the crowd thinned, it was still a long wait at the bus -- I've never heard people cheer and clap because the bus was there before. At least 4 POR busses had to fill up and go before we were able to get on the bus. At the end, there were two busses that stopped for us as the same time, so, fortunately, I was able to get a set with the sleeping babe.
At Narcoosee's the other night, we had gotten "I'm Celebrating" buttons, and the CM there had written "My Birthday" on both. DD started off asleep on the bus, but we were sitting next to a group of small children who talked until she woke up and started talking with them. One of the little girls sees her button and starts asking questions.
Girl: Why does she have that button?
Me: Because it's her birthday.
Girl: Are you wearing one, too?
Me: Yes, I am.
Me: Because it's my birthday, too.
Girl: I want one of those buttons. Since you have two, can I have one?
Girl: Why not?
Me: Because it's our birthday and these were given to us because it's our birthday.
Girl: But it's not fair you have two and I don't have any.
Me: Your parents can go to Guest Relations at any of the parks and get you a button for free.
And then she started on DD, trying to get her to hand over her button. I had to tell DD that she'd best not give her button to that girl. She could get her own.
In most situations, I would have given it. But, to me, these were special. We didn't have to ask for these at all. They were just given. We hadn't managed to get "It's My Birthday" buttons yet. I almost hauled DD off at the South Depot, but those children got off there, so I thought it would be better to wait until East. It's so much easier to get off the bus when there's hardly anyone else on, anyway.
In the room: more towel animals!
Can you tell me what, exactly, this is supposed to be?
Next: Animal Kingdom, Magic, and RAIN
Animal Kingdom -- Must...Go...Safari! (Day 4)
For those subscribed and reading, I'm sorry it's taken so long for me to get to another update!
For some reason, we slept in today. But, that's okay...we're on vacation, right?
I was originally trying to give DD a birthday gift every morning of our trip. First night, she received brand new princess pjs. The first morning, I was going to give her a digital camera. Then I start investigating. AAA batteries? I have a TON of AAs...but no AAA. Yesterday in EPCOT, the week was saved! I found a package of AAA batteries! Today, I give her the camera and with it (and a 4GB memory card...) the freedom to take pictures of whatever she wants.
By the time we get out the door, get breakfast, and catch the bus to AK, it's at least 9:00...I think it was roughly 9:30 when we got to the park.
I feel like Disney cheated. There were characters OUTSIDE the gate. DD gets in the line for Brer Rabbit. Which, admittedly, wasn't really a long line. But, long line or no, I had an objective! We get her pic with Brer Rabbit, and she tries to dart into another character line, so I have to physically haul her away. The lines are just getting longer, and these are not the well-known characters anyway.
Through the gate and to the strollers. DD has found some animals to look at, so getting her moving after getting a stroller is not going well. Then I get hit with a survey. Okay...sure... I'll take your survey so my DD can watch the animals. As soon as it's over, I coax her into the stroller and take off -- Kilamanjaro Safari, here we come!
This is a ride we missed on our October trip. But, it isn't long before I'm cursing myself for giving DD that camera. Every 5 feet or so, she wants to stop and take a picture of something. I finally have to start making promises that we'll come back later and take pictures of whatever she wants -- we MUST get to that Safari!
It is at least 10 before we make it and get in line. (I'd actually tried to go park the stroller because I didn't know I could take it with me.) The wait..over an hour. I can't remember how long the ride is -- seems like I've heard 40 minutes? We had reservations at Yak & Yeti for noon...will we make it?
Amazingly, we wind up in line with a woman and her daughter -- and the daughter's birthday is the same day as my DD's! (And I'm thrilled DD is talking to a girl for a change...earlier in the line, she was playing with a boy who kept spraying water on me...although not intentionally.) I think we are in line forever before we finally get there. We are sitting on the truck with two men who were absolutely cool about giving DD opportunities to snap her own pictures (they'd lean back so she could lean up and get a shot. Now, I still need to download those pictures to see if they were any good...)
By the time we were off the Safari, it was time to hussle over to Y&Y. It was noon or shortly after when I checked in. The CM that checked us in wrote 1:30 as the resservation time. ?? That made no sense to me and actually had me feeling as though I had arrived way too early. (I didn't...the ADR was made for 12:00.) The food was awesome. DD had notpizza (vegetable lo mein) and ate most of it. I was surprised that she had an adult-sized appetizer to herself. I asked the waiter for a recommendation for her; he said most kids like the fried green beans. DD would not touch them! I wound up giving her my potstickers. The potstickers were awesome...but the green beans were BETTER!
(I will post pictures and more of a food review in a different post!)
Now, since we're so close to Kali River Rapids...okay, no ride because the time quoted it way too long...but...let's park the stroller and go get a Fast Pass. When we come back, there are two CMs standing by our stroller. I figure it's just some one who's going to move strollers around. One walks off before we can get there, but the other is still there when we get to the stroller. He said, "I was just about to bring you your stroller!" He looks down at DD and says, "Did you just get off KRR?" Naturally, she chooses this as a moment to be shy and not answer. So I tell him that we were instead getting FPs for the ride. He says something about the FPs, then.. "How would you like to go on it right now? You can still get on it later when your FPs are good and ride it twice!" Can't turn that down, can we? So he gives us a rider swap -- you'll both be able to get on with this one ticket (True!) and we go and get in the appropriate line.
We change shoes and get in the line. I know we still got soaked...but it just didn't seem like the ride it was when we rode in October. Maybe it was just me.
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