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Old 12-17-2001, 10:21 AM   #1
RachelEllen
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4 days of magic

First of alll, thanks to everyone who helped with answers to questions and suggestions. Our vacation was completely magical. This is my first Disney trip as an ‘adult’ (i.e. planning and paying for it!) and it was a joy! To introduce, we’re a just married professional couple, I’m my late 20’s, and sweetie is early 40’s. I’m a resident physician, so I work insane hours, and this was a much-anticipated vacation.

We’re both in reasonably good shape, which is a good thing as we used a pedometer to fund we did 7-10 miles of walking each day!

Travel was easy and not too stressful. I hate flying at baseline, so this was no different. Airports were empty until our trip home. I do want to mention that we checked in at curbside in Orlando (even though we had e-tickets) in about 10 minutes. Almost everyone was waiting in the two hour Delta line that streched around the concourse. I have no idea why.
We first went down to Holly wood to spend a few days with my parents and then the Disney portion of the trip began.

We started out from a long drive from Fort Lauderdale airport. Sweetie had to visit the Ron Jon Surf shop to stock up on Hawaiian shirts (can't miss the place, we just followed the signs), and afterwards we went to Kennedy Space Center. I know it’s not Disney, but for anyone wanting a break from the fantasy, this place was amazing. We spent an easy five hours here between the IMAX films, tours, talking to scientists. It was absolutely awe-inspiring.

After this we headed over to Disney (yeah!). Upon arriving on property, we first headed over to the Grand Floridian for High Tea. As this was our first meal of the day (at 4pm) we was hungry! (We both love to eat and hate to gain weight, so our vacations are usually one blowout meal a day with perhaps one early snack. So no package deals for us, alas)

We split the tea for two, substituting a gentleman’s tea plate for one plate of sandwiches, which gave us just about everything on the menu. (Note in general, we are picky eaters). I thought the ambiance was great, but I found the food mostly disappointing. The cinnamon tea was much too sweet for me, the tea sandwiches were bulky and dry. Not bad, but tea sandwiches should be tiny, melt in the mouth confections on buttered bread. These things were sandwiches! However, things only got better. The scones were delectable, and the pastries were really yummy! All in all, I’d do it again, but I’d stick with dessert, plain tea, and just make it a small lunch.

Next, we went to Fort Wilderness to check into our campsite. Incredibly smooth check in procedure. We found the loop –2000 with no trouble and set up the tent quickly before the campfire program. Next came the part where my sweetie attempted to find the ‘short cut’ back to the campfire program in the dark. We ended up circling in the woods for 20 minutes before heading out to the main road and going that way. Just a few notes about camping - We had an awesome time as first time campers. Tents today are so easy compared to what I used 20 years ago in scouts. The Disney campsites are easy to manage with huge sanded areas to set up the tent. The funniest thing is that we are from Boston and flew down with our gear. As the campsite filled up, we noticed we were the only people with just a car and two-man tent. Everyone else had huge tents, annex tents with kitchenettes, pop-ups, trailers, etc. It was kind of funny. Also, as two fit people with no kids, we had no trouble at all without a golf cart. (We finally did find that short cut in the morning, cut through to the meadows next to loop 242, turn right and there is a bridge to loop 900. 5 minute walk to meadows). Every evening was incredible, we’d finish packed busy days by sleeping under the stars. The comfort stations were plentiful and clean.

The campfire program that evening was incredible. Just relaxing fun, under the stars. Toasted some marshmallows, watched the movie and then strolled over to the marina to catch the electric water parade. These were some of my favorite moments, just the outdoors, the stars, and some Disney magic rolling by on the water!

Day 2-
Up early this morning to head to Epcot. A warning – when the book says that selected future world attractions are open at 9am, they mean the shops. That’s it. So we wandered around the shops for 45 minutes, and used the time to put on sunscreen and fill the water bottle. Our tour – hidden treasures of the world showcase met at 9:45 so we headed back to guest relations around then.

Another aside – we packed every moment of this trip. The reason we were able to do this so effectively was that Disney was so, so quiet compared to how I read it can be. Also, with just a tent, we didn’t have any great home base to relax at in the heat of the day. We spent a lot of money this trip, but I don’t think we wasted any, and we just bought single park tickets, as I mentioned no packages. I’m an obsessive planner, it’s half the fun, and things could not have gone more smoothly. Anyhow, I don’t think we could have filled each day with one park as well without the tours. They really made the experience for us.

This tour was more of an on scene experience. You really learned a lot about the detailing and meaning of world showcase detail as it related to each country. The tour guide couldn’t have been nicer. We covered every country and by 1pm I was ready to run off and see some street performances! As soon as the tour ended we headed back to Morocco for a small lunch. Shared one sandwich at the Tangarine café. Yummy! They put the schwarma sandwich on pita at our request (seemed weird on a roll) and we each had a baklava. Best counter service lunch I’ve ever had (and priced that way, $20 for the two of us!) Saw the belly dancer, shopped and then hit the other street performances that sounded great – drums in Japan, statues in France, band in U.K. We’ve been there before, so we didn’t see a single attraction and skipped future world (except for test track, new for both of us, silly very short fun – I’m glad the line was only 10 minutes). Another don’t miss in Epcot, though, was Ice Station Cool. Icy cold snow room and free international cola samples. Awesome refresher when you start to wilt.

On to the evening, we had the chef’s table booked at Victoria and Albert’s. A truly magical evening. Upon our arrival we were escorted back to the kitchen. Now, I had heard that you miss much of the ambiance eating back in the kitchen. And I had also heard that the redone alcove had lost that inside the kitchen feel. We loved it, however. I felt right on top of the action, but still in a lovely decorated area. The chef came over and introduced himself and had some champagne with us. Then the food just started coming. Almost everything was exquisite. I just gave anything to my sweetie that was merely ‘very good’ and managed not to get too stuffed. They even noticed that we cut everything in half and shared and started doing that for us as the evening progressed.
I tried caviar for the first time. Had the best foie gras I’ve ever tasted. Went though two appetizers (vension and board and quail, a vertiable zoo!) . A fish course of Dover sole(my favorite). Then some beef and lamb chops for dinner. (The meat at this place is unbelievable.) Finally dessert was three separate concoctions, a heavenly chocolate soufflé, and nice crème broule, and an exquisite orange mouse with a foot high spun sugar multicolored sculpture above it. Exquisite!

We headed back to the campground and just collapsed.

Day 3 – Not so Disney
Today we slept in and headed out to Islands of Adventure. Discovered that the showers tend to start getting used at 7am so at 7:30 I grabbed the last one. (It got steadily busier our week there as we headed towards Christmas) I won’t go into details on IOA, except to say it’s just not Disney. I’d heard that it was better, better, better. More advanced, more thrilling, etc. To us, it was just louder. Plus, the theming was so two dimensional (literally and figuratively) Everything was cartoon and plastic and rock music. Compare castles and kingdoms to an actual Moroccan courtyard and fountain. Huge dinosaur jungles to the american west. Or cardboard cartoon cutouts on the flume as opposed to being immersed in the briar patch. We just weren’t impressed. There was no place to relax and chill out. We enjoyed it, but wouldn’t return. The people there, however were so nice. I got my face painted and the fellow offered to redo it after I did the flume ride, as it wasn’t very busy.

Anyhow, headed back that evening for dinner at fort wilderness and the campfire program. Now, I’d never been to a Disney buffet before. We loved it. We’d eaten nothing but a shared chicken and fries lunch 6 hours earlier and came hungry. Dinner was just $35 for the two of us for unlimited lemonade, salad, fish, shrimp, fried chicken, sausage, egads tons of food! Plus wonder apple crumble and bread pudding. We were stuffed and happy. We watched Alice in Wonderland under the stars and headed back to bead.

Day 4

Awoke to our last day of magic. Again, got up early for our Magic Kingdom Tour. Sweetie was ten minutes late getting dressed and I was anxious as I remembered that they were prompt! Then, of course, we took a wrong turn on the way to magic kingdom. Ended up by Downtown Disney. He insisted on using the map for another ‘short cut’ Argh! But, low and behold, somehow it worked. And somehow we got into magic kingdom without every going through the parking gate! (I assume if we hadn’t had our fort wilderness pass visible, something would have happened, it can’t be this easy to skip paying for parking, but I swear, we never went anyplace restricted or off limits, just drove backwards past fort wilderness, turned towards the resorts instead of magic kingdom, mad a legal uturn at a sign that said to do so and voila, parking!)

We made it from the ticket booth to city hall in 5 minutes! And, of course, were the first people there for the tour. This tour was even better than the first. It was so well organized. You arrived, ordered lunch, got your name tag and headed off to see the Disney secrets. I have been sworn to secrecy about most of it, but basically, this is a very behind the scenes tour and perfect for curious folks like us. Plus you ride 4 rides without using the lines, so you don’t waste a bit of time. Lunch is waiting for you at lunchtime (half a salad) and you head back out and see that park again. We loved it and would highly recommend this tour.

We spend the afternoon after the tour seeing more of magic kingdom. Picked up our fast passes to pooh ride first thing. That had to be the last thing we did, but we somehow managed to do splash mountain, thunder railroad, and buzz light-year before the fastpass time as no standby line was as long as advertised. We did pooh and left. Btw, pooh is a wonderful ride. I’ll always be nostalgic for Mr. Toad, but pooh ride really takes the dark ride to a new level. Loved it.

That evening we headed over to animal kingdom lodge. We spent an hour exploring the public areas around the savannah before heading over to Jiko for dinner. Now that was an awesome dinner. The wine and the desserts were better than V and A’s! And everything else was wonderful too. We started with beef rolls and duck firecrackers. Proceeded to lobster dumpling and squash soup. Sweeties had the salmon and I tried the stuffed papaya. Then finished with crème brulee and cardamom chocolate beggars purses. Basically rolled out, but it was worth it!

Next it was on to downtown Disney and Cirque du Soleil. My eyes were drooping during the show, but we still loved it. This was the shorted Cirque du Soleil I’d seen with no intermission, but we still had an amazing time. Every time I see this, they manage to have some completely new and unexpected act. I don’t want to spoil anything, but if anyone thinks they’ve seen trampoline acts, just wait!

Anyhow, we slept well that night and got up early the next morning to head home. I’m on night shifts now, so I slept in this morning and am just reliving the trip before it’s off to work this afternoon. If anyone has any questions, please let me know.

Rachel
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Old 12-17-2001, 02:35 PM   #2
josierac
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What a great trip - thanks for sharing
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Old 12-17-2001, 08:00 PM   #3
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Oops - double post!
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Krissy & Craig's next trip: October 2015
Past Trips: 10/13 BWV (15th Anniversary) 9/13 BWV (Krissy's first solo trip), 11/12 OKW, 10/11 BWV (13th Anniversary), 2/11 SSR (Mom & Dad's 40th Anniversary) , 10/10 SSR (12th Anniversary), 1/10 BWV, 3/09 BWV, 10/08 SSR (10th Anniversary), 10/07 BCV/SSR (9th Anniversary), 10/06 BWV (8th Anniversary), 10/05 BWV (7th Anniversary & Hurricane Wilma), 10/03 BWV (5th Anniversary), 12/02 AKL/YC (my 30th birthday), 3/02 ASM, 10/01 WL (3rd Anniversary), 1999 CBR (Craig's first trip), childhood trips late 70s/early 80s

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Old 12-17-2001, 08:03 PM   #4
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Thanks so much for sharing! I would love to drag the tent out of the shed and drag it down to Ft Wilderness - it's been a while since we've been camping!

Krissy
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Old 12-17-2001, 10:36 PM   #5
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Thanks for your report. We leave for FW in two days. Very excited !!
We were scheduled to stay elsewhere this year, but I couldn't take it and changed our ressies for FW. I love the quiet calm there with the Disney magic just around the corner.
Karen
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Old 12-18-2001, 12:51 PM   #6
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Loved your report--good eats and FW, too!

Barbara
163 days to go till I go 'home' to FW
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Old 12-18-2001, 04:47 PM   #7
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Thanks for the trip report. We leave early Sat for FW. Instead of camping this Christmas, we're staying in the cabins, so this is our high tech vacation! Your words have me all set for the campfire program, and some of the surprises I've planned. My DH's Christmas present is the Epcot backstage tour. I'm hoping he'll love it. Thanks again for posting
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Old 12-18-2001, 06:11 PM   #8
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Thanks for the report. I especially enjoyed reading about the tours. We did Keys to the Kingdom last trip (loved it!) and were deciding between Hidden Treasures of the World Showcase or Undiscovered Future World for our upcoming trip. We finally picked Undiscovered Future World. I just hope it's as good as yout tour was!

Beth
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Old 12-25-2001, 12:25 PM   #9
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What a great trip. Sounds like you had everything perfectly organized and it paid off for you.

I love Islands of Adventure for the thrill rides, not the atmosphere. I don't think you can even compare WDW with IOA they are just two different things.

I would love to eat at V&A's someday

Thanks for posting this for us, I enjoyed reading about your trip.

Katholyn
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Old 12-26-2001, 03:08 PM   #10
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Thanks so much for the great report. We have stayed at FW both in tents and in the Cabins, loved them both! Sounds like a super trip!!

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Old 12-26-2001, 04:54 PM   #11
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sounds like a great trip. I love to camp but I don't think I could handle not having a hotel room to come back to after the long Disney days, but you make it seem like a lovely and romantic experience.

we saw la nouba for the first time this month - wow those trampolines!

thanks for posting
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