A Princess and a Croatian Walk into a Bar...at Disney. (Updated 5/8/14, Pg.6)
Hi all! It's been a LONG time since my last trip report. (Sorry, sorry, life has been crazy!) I would have started this report earlier, but I own a Christmas caroling business, and as you can probably guess, the holiday season is a BIT busy for me.... :santa: :crazy2::crazy2::crazy2:
Let's start with the basic introductions and trip info first, and then go from there....
Trip dates: Nov. 22-26, 2013
Resort: Kidani Village
Starring: Jen and Milos!
I've been going regularly to Disney World pretty much my whole life: ever since I was a little girl, on frequent childhood trips with my grandparents. I loved those early trips SO much - they shaped not only my childhood, but the person I was to become. I'm a dreamer, an eternal optimist, and quite the do-gooder. Even when life is hard, I try to find the positive things to focus on. I have Bachelor's and Master's degrees in music, which essentially means I work lots of random jobs to piece together my crazy life. (Besides being a professional musician/singer, I'm also a Disney specialist for a travel agency.) What else have I done for work? I've been a substitute teacher, a retail worker, a voice teacher, and over the course of the last year and a half, I've done lots of work as various princesses for children's birthday parties. (Hence the "Princess" part of our title!) I kind of like being a professional princess!
As to other aspects about me... well, I can sometimes be a bit of a drama queen, but hey, I work in theatre!
:music:Milos: (pronunciation: MEE-lawsh)
Milos is my awesome boyfriend of almost two years. He's Croatian. Not an American with Croatian roots, but actually Croatian - from the actual country. (For a quick geography primer, Croatia is directly across the water from Italy, on the Adriatic Sea - a couple countries north of Greece.) He had never been to Disney World, despite having gone to college here - not only in the USA, but in FLORIDA! :confused3 (I know, I didn't understand it either! ;) ) So this was to be his very first trip, and I wanted to make it super amazing so that he too would fall in love with Disney World! (And I was SO excited to be experiencing my favorite place in the world with the love of my life!) :love2:
I know some of you may be wondering how we even got together, and it's quite the story. :lovestruc But I'll try and give the abbreviated version....
In the summer of 2011, I went on a river cruise with my parents and sister on the Danube River through Germany, Austria, and Hungary. Milos was working on our ship at the reception desk. We kind of hit it off and became Facebook friends, then regular Facebook pen pals, with more and more frequent correspondence.
I knew I was going to be living in Vienna (Austria) for two months in Feb/March of 2012, and after a couple months of back and forth messaging, I invited him to visit me during that time period. So in February of 2012, this super handsome guy knocked on my apartment door in Vienna. He stayed for a week, but before he left, we already had plans for me to go down to Croatia soon after, and for him to come to the States after his next cruise season was over.... and then for me to join him in Croatia in the summer for his vacation. (I even visited him in Switzerland when his ship was docked there, before going back to the USA that April.)
That first week together in Austria was quite honestly amazing, and things just kept getting better and better. (It's turned me into a firm believer in the kind of love you read about in fairy tales, or see in movies, or hear about in songs. It really does exist, and I'm lucky enough to have found it!) :cloud9:
We've been going back and forth over the ocean a lot (obviously), but I actually spend quite a bit of time in Europe now and am planning to move there permanently. (Just coming home three months of each year for the holiday caroling season.) Because of his job, we've had to spend some long stretches apart, but at least once I'm permanently in Europe, I can visit him in whichever city his ship happens to be located. We've done a few 3-months-apart stretches, and neither of us wants to be doing that anymore. It sucks. Hence me moving. But also because of his job, he has four months off during the year each winter, which means that when we're together, we get LOTS of time together, which is wonderful.
I don't think either of us could ever have imagined two years ago what was going to happen to us and how much our lives would change, but I've truly never been happier in my whole life. :love:
Milos is fully fluent in English (with only a few vocab errors here and there; which are always fantastically awesome and hilarious!), and I've started the difficult road to learning Croatian. (OMG - it's SO HARD!) :eek:
Here are some more photos of us - first a pic of us with our summer tans from back in August in Milos home town in Croatia, and then one of us a couple weeks ago in NYC... looking not so tan...:laughing:
What to expect from our trip?
*Me getting to see Milos experience all kinds of Disney firsts!
(I didn't tell him about what to expect on most of the rides - I just let it all be a surprise! Mwahahahahaaaa - evil laughter! ;) )
*Copious amounts of wonderful yummy food!
*Hitting the bars for some adult beverages!
*More adult beverages!
*Broken down busses, visits to Urgent Care, MagicBands, experiencing the infamous end-of the-hall rooms at Kidani....we've got it all!
I hope you'll come along for the ride!
PART ONE: Planning and Getting Started
Now, in the grand scheme of Disney trip planning, this trip was rather last minute. I booked it in September, which in DVC timelines is super last minute. (For the "non-Dis" readers, DVC is Disney Vacation Club, which is Disney's version of a time share.) Availability for the dates we were going were sparse, and we ended up with a savannah view studio room at Kidani Village. (I was hoping for a one-bedroom, but that wait list never came through.)
I love animals. Milos loves animals. Animal Kingdom is my home resort with DVC, and even though I wanted to be in the Jambo House building, I was perfectly content with our Kidani Village stay. (Except where our room was....but we'll get more into that later....)
When doing the planning, I suggested that we drive to save money. :drive: Milos was NOT so crazy about that, which I totally understand. I'd have to do the driving duty all to myself, as Milos doesn't have an international driver's license. He might have been okay just having his Croatian license, but we didn't want to push it. (Besides, last year during the same time of year, we drove to Chicago, and the 14 hour drive back was exhausting!) Flying it would be!
Now, this might sound kind of cheesy, and I think only people in long distance relationships can really understand, but as the trip approached, I was truly excited for the fact that we'd be going to the airport together, going through security together, hanging out at the terminal together, and BEING ON THE SAME PLANE TOGETHER! :thumbsup2
You see, usually airports are where we reunite with each other, or where we say good bye. But for the first time in our relationship, we were going to be going to the airport and getting on the same plane! :yay: I was excited!
Milos was to get to the USA two days before our Disney Trip. And look what I found - the map I made for one of my blog entries a couple months ago. Yes, I'm really the kind of person who pulled up a google map and put hearts on both of our hometowns. (Then used the graphic publicly on one of my blog entries.) :)
(The pointy parts at the bottom of the hearts are the locations of where we are both from.)
Our Magic Bands arrived about a month before the trip. This trip wasn't to be my first experience with the Magic Bands. I went to Disney in September with one of the other travel agents at my agency during the Earmarked Conference. (Disney's convention for travel agents.) So I was already a bit familiar with how they worked and what to expect.
However, since they are still relatively new, and still in the "testing phase," I wasn't able to attach my ticket to my Band ahead of time. I got Milos' ticket the traditional way - I bought it through the travel agent portal of Disney's site, and was able to easily attach it to his Magic Band. But my ticket was a discounted travel agent ticket that I had to pick up at the parks. Because of that, I wasn't able to attach the ticket to my Magic Band. So I just scheduled us for rides on FastPass+ by using his ticket, with hopes that they'd be able to give me the same times once we got my ticket.....
Now for my readers coming to this update through my blog (who might not be up to date on all things Disney), MagicBands are Disney's new "all in one" ticket experience. You wear this water-proof band around your wrist (or attach it to your belt loop, or keep it in your purse, etc.) that is your ticket, your room key, your dining plan credits, and your FastPasses all in one. They even link your Magic Express to it, so that when you arrive at Orlando International Airport, you just scan the band, and on to the bus you go! It also acts as the card for your room charging privileges (you pick the PIN for security). It's truly an all-in-one experience.
As the trip drew closer, I got more and more excited. But honestly, I was just more excited for Milos to get here - way more than my Disney excitement. We had about three months apart before his arrival on November 20th, and my patience had truly expired as the date approached....
People here on the Dis are familiar with countdown calendars, so I of course had one of my own....
(I moved the little Milos head as each day went by. I must add though, that the Milos head idea was alllllllll Milos. I was just crossing off the calendar days, but he suggested that I have his picture on the current date and then we could watch his picture get closer to the "finish line" date. (I regularly took pics of our countdown and sent them to him as we got closer to seeing each other.) So that's how our little countdown calendar evolved. He might not want to admit it publicly, but he's just as silly as me, which is one of the reasons we get along so well. :) )
Following along! :)
Once November 20th hit, I headed out to Newark, NJ to pick Milos up. It was SUCH an amazing day! We hadn't seen each other in person since August 18th. And even though we did lots of video chatting on our smart phones, it's just not good enough when you simply want to be together.
The next day was our "running around" day as we got ready for Disney. We were doing a carry-on only trip so that we wouldn't have to pay for luggage. I had heard that it would be really warm during our trip, so I packed lots of pretty sun dresses. :sad2: (Might I just add that I am NOT used to going to Florida in November - I usually go in the summer...anyway...)
We were packed! We were ready to go! We drove to Philly that Friday morning and parked the car at Smart Park. (Which is where our family always parks our cars for Philly airport.) We went through security and got to the gate, eager to be escaping the cold Pennsylvania weather.
Adventures at Kidani Village!
Grand Marnier slushies!
I think your maps are adorable and want wait to hear how the trip goes! :love:
Great start! Excited to read about your trip!:thumbsup2
Just found this and joining in.
Of course I'm in! Been way too long since you've done a TR, so I'm excited! :thumbsup2
Great start so far, Jen! Looking forward to reading about the trip. I stink at keeping up as reports are updated, so I'll probably read in bulk at some point. So happy for you and Milos and that you both had a fab trip!
Day One Continued: Arriving at Disney!
Day One - Arriving at Disney!
Before I go into any more detail about the trip, I want to relay a little story from our planning time. You see, I was prepping him by telling him that on a short 5-day trip, we'll only be able to see the highlights, and we won't be able to do everything. He kept saying that five days is a long time - it's plenty of time for a Disney trip.
All I could say was:
"Oh, you silly silly boy... you have no idea... "
He thought I was exaggerating or over-reacting. :lmao:
(Just remember that for later on....)
Our flight to Orlando was easy and comfortable, and just around two hours. Had we driven, we would have needed to leave the night before just to make it to Disney when we did.
We headed straight for Disney's Magical Express bus area and we were on our way! Of course, the Animal Kingdom resort is always the last stop, so we got to see a little of some of the other resorts. (Well, I've gotten to see them on other trips, but Milos got a bit of an introduction.) I was so excited to see if our room would be ready right away!
Of course, we HAVE to include this iconic pic - it's the whole reason we sat in the front seat of the bus! (Well, that, and so I didn't get car sick... ;) )
This was also the first of many times that I cried on this trip. I couldn't help it, I was just so emotionally overwhelmed!
Once we arrived at Kidani Village, we headed over to the check in desk. We had no problems, and I was informed that to get MY park ticket, it had to be at a Will Call booth at one of the parks - they couldn't access it for me at the hotel. (I really think they should remedy this kind of thing!) So we'd worry about my ticket once we got over to Epcot.
Our room was ready and I was so eager to see it! We were room 7776 on the 3rd Floor.
Now...I had heard about the extremely long halls at Kidani here on the Disboards AND from one of my good friends who had experienced them. However, in all my stays at the Animal Kingdom Resort, I had always stayed in Jambo House. Their halls are much shorter...
I just didn't really comprehend where our room was from the pic.... until we had to walk there....
Folks, it's like a ten minute walk from the lobby to the end of the hallway at Kidani. If you speed up to a brisk pace, you can make it in a little over five, if you're lucky. But that's speed walking or jogging.
When we were walking to the room that first day, that first time, we kept wondering when we'd finally get there. We kept walking... and walking... and walking...
Finally we got there!
Silly me did not take a pic of the room. (I know, I know.... :duck: )
We did however run immediately to the balcony to check out our savannah view.... And this is who we saw hanging out outside....
I was hoping there would be some right there so that Milos could get the full effect! And there were! :thumbsup2
(Over the course of our stay, we had TONS of what I started to call "Animal Parties." They just all seemed to like to hang out right out there.)
We freshened up a little from our traveling, then got ready to head out to Epcot! We had a dinner ADR at Cape May Cafe that night, and I wanted to see if we could get any kind of rides in before dinner. (We did have a Fastpass+ for Test Track between 6:05pm and 7:05pm.)
There was no trouble getting my ticket at Will Call, and getting it attached to my MagicBand. However, matching up our Fastpass+ times was not going to be as easy....
At Will Call, they told us to go to Guest Relations inside the park - you know, the one to the left of Spaceship Earth.
But we first snapped a pic when we got through the gate....
(Yay! Milos' first Disney park!)
We headed to Guest Relations only to be told they couldn't help us. They said we had to go to Innoventions just around the corner - someone there could help us.
So we headed to Innoventions and talked to a girl named Erica. She first asked if we had gone to Guest Relations...."yup, they sent us here." She seemed perplexed by that answer, but said that she could help us, nonetheless. However, we had to wait for the ONE iPad that they currently had there to make this whole process happen. And someone else was using it to help another guest.
I was told before the trip that updates to Fastpass+ AND the whole MagicBands experience would constantly be happening, so things will keep changing from one week or month to the next. Eventually discounted tickets WILL be able to get connected to Magic Bands before leaving for one's trip. But that day has yet to come.
Erica wasn't able to assign me Fastpasses for the same times as the ones we got for Milos. BUT, she was able to give me "open" Fastpasses on my MagicBand equal to the number of Fastpasses Milos had on his. That way, when we walk up to a ride he has a Fastpass for, I'll just be able to go then too with my "open" time.
Ok, excellent. (Erica from Chicago was great - super helpful - yay Erica!)
So our first ride was to use our assigned time for Test Track.
Here we go!...
Milos designed our car....
And our ride photo!
He liked it!
But it was now time to start heading to the Beach Club Resort behind Epcot for our dinner at Cape May Cafe.
You see, Milos is a picky eater. He basically likes meat, potatoes, and seafood. (And bread of course!) I feel like this gave me a special challenge in my selections of which restaurants we visited. Fortunately, I'm very familiar with what he'll eat and what he won't eat, AND I'm a seasoned pro when it comes to the restaurants at Disney. I knew I couldn't go wrong with a seafood buffet. And selfishly, I was also eager for all-you-can-eat crab legs, so Cape May Cafe was a no-brainer.
I took him on a walk the long way around World Showcase Lagoon so he could get a 'first glimpse' of all the countries along the way. (So once we left Test Track, we started at Mexico and went all the way around to exit at the International Gateway. So he got to see the outsides of Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, and France.)
He was already getting impressed with everything he was seeing at Disney, and I was breathing a sigh of relief, under my own Disney happiness! I SO wanted him to love it all, as he's going to be the one taking Disney trips with me in the future. I didn't want to be one of those couples where one person loves Disney and the other person hates it. I can officially say that I don't have to worry about THAT concern anymore!
(Yay, he likes Disney too!)
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