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Old 01-24-2012, 01:33 PM   #1
Yes, we are going to Disney World *again*!
It never occurred to me to wonder
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Northeast
Posts: 364

The Valet Parking TR - Update 5/7 - Five Splash Downs!

It all started with a little indigestion.

My darling daughter returned from a college year in Europe with a digestive issue which has not resolved. She's now a cast member at Disney World and has made an appointment with an Orlando gastroenterologist. As an overprotective mother, I need to be at that appointment. With no idea what they may suggest in terms of testing or treatment, she shouldn't go in alone.

So when I tell my husband of 25 years about this idea, he asks if we've come into an inheritance. No, I tell him, still broke as the ten commandments. But our daughter needs me. That's all I have to say. He agrees that I'd better go on down to Disney World. He's an overprotective father.

Since I'm going to the modest expense (thank you, Air Tran) of flying down there, I may as well stay a week. Let's call it a week but make it eight days. (Give a Disney World person an inch and she'll take as many miles as she can get.) And as an overprotective mother, I don't feel comfortable leaving my eight-year-old son Aedan behind for that many days. So he'll be along, too.

This was all decided quite recently, so it's been a delightful scramble to plan a last-minute trip to Disney World. The doctor's appointment is starting to seem like an after thought.

Late January/early February is one of the best times to go to Disney World. The very best budget tip for Disney resorts is to get one of your family members employed at Disney. With rates this low, we would be stupid not to make reservations for a couple of resort nights. The other nights, we'll stay at our pied-à-terre (the apartment of our cast members -- we actually have two of them, a son and a daughter) just north of the Magic Kingdom (they can see the fireworks from the apt. complex).

DD is celebrating her birthday while we are there, so what about a night at the Grand Floridian? And costing what you'd normally spend on a moderate, why not do club level? Many people don't allow club level to interfere with their dining reservations. As we are on a perennial budget, we don't generally spend anything on food when we stay club. Even if you only have a little of each item during the appetizer part of the evening, you'll be full. And since you have to be hungry again for 8:00 p.m. desserts, you'd better go easy on the appetizers anyway. So club level ends up being affordable, and we are old friends with the club staffs at the Old Faithful Club, the King Kamehameha Club, Kilimanjaro Club, Innkeeper's Club, etc. But we've never stayed club at the Grand, so this will be special!

And Aedan and I will need airport transportation (since my CMs will be working) for next Monday, so why not stay at the Boardwalk Inn? Darling daughter works at the Boardwalk. She can welcome us home as we get off the Magical Express bus! For $29.99 we really should add the CM dining plan package. It even comes with a refillable mug for each person! We can take DD out for a birthday dinner at La Hacienda -- it will be a first for us. Not sure about those cactus leaves on the menu, but DD is an adventurous diner, so she's sure to love it. And I've read about an avocado margarita. After decades as a teetotaler, I began to wonder if I'm missing something. So far, the libations I've sampled were pretty nasty. But an avocado drink at La Hacienda has *got* to be good. And DD is plenty old enough to have one (legally), too. Our grown children are all teetotalers. We don't have any moral objection to alcohol. We just don't like the drinking culture generally (much less the drinking-too-much culture at college campuses). And we're always penny pinching -- which generally means ice water to drink at restaurants anyway. But reaching a milestone year of life has made me want to pinch a few fewer pennies. And try some new things.

Which brings us to the valet parking. This may not sound like much, but the prospect is a sparkling, gleaming, giggling Big Thing to me: we're going to valet park. I keep envisioning it. I'll step out of the van (ignoring the fact that it is old and moldering), flick an invisible piece of dust from the impeccable Mecheline lace at my cuffs, and with half-closed lids, casually hand the valet my keys. My word -- that's going to be worth the price of admission! The next day, when DD has to go off to work, I'll phone down to inform the valet staff that we are making our royal progress port-cochere-wards. The van will be there waiting for her. (I'll go with her, just to take photos.) We have never, ever valet parked. Ever. Or used bell services. We used to employ a stroller as a sort of pack mule. But after decades of that sort of thing, I'm ready to move onto the valet phase of my life. Not that we'll do it all the time. But I want to do valet at the Grand.

Since we staying at the Grand (this is like "If you give a mouse a cookie), we'll have an extra bed. And my sister in Michigan hates the winter cold. If the airfare cooperates (and it does), she can come down, too! (With several air mattresses bivouaced at the apartment, there is room for her there, too.) So with my children's Favorite Aunt (FA) onboard, this gets more exciting by the day.

January is FA's birthday month, too. So I made a reservation at the Liberty Tree Tavern -- she has never been there. And has never experienced the very best dessert in all of Disney World -- the Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake. Whoa Nelly, that is a dessert. It has everything a dessert could have -- the gooey of the cake, the crunch of the toffee, the warm chocolate, the cold ice cream.

Coincidentally, my niece and her family be at the Wilderness Lodge for part of our stay, so it will be Old Home Week for us at Disney World.

Just one final reservation to be made -- since our CMs will probably be working at the time of our departure and we'll need Magical Express transportation to the airport. Better make it the Contemporary's Bay Lake Tower. Have never stayed at BLT (suddenly I'm feeling hungry). And the location will allow us to walk to the MK for our last evening -- and the next morning before ME time. And with that dining deal, what a great opportunity to have a bon voyage breakfast at 'Ohana!

So a triumvirate of resort reservations, a brace of dining plans, a tetrad of restaurant reservations and we are ready!

Except for the wardrobe. For me, Disney World is very much about the scrapbooking. And the scrapbooking is all about the photography. And the photography is largely about the wardrobe (my children's, that is). Must get cracking on the clothes!

Just got an email from the Grand Floridian's Itinerary Planning office. They urge us to have a Grand Day! Shall we? Yes, let's shall!

Heading south in a trice,


Last edited by scrapbookersdis; 05-06-2012 at 11:47 PM.
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Old 02-10-2012, 09:05 PM   #2
Yes, we are going to Disney World *again*!
It never occurred to me to wonder
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Northeast
Posts: 364

First Things First: Wardrobe

As we all know, anticipating a Disney trip is nearly half the fun. With the exception of making dining reservations, none of the planning is as easy to savor as the children's clothing. Most of my children are too old for this, but I still have eight-year-old Aedan to plan clothes for. I keep my eyes open all year for outfits that can coordinate with a Disney location.

So, this is hardly rocket science and is in fact all very obvious. But I never tire of admiring people dressed “theme appropriately” at Disney. And I always enjoy both finding a new t-shirt and looking over photos of previous finds. Here's a few:

This shirt was perfect a few years ago for a stop to see the Congaree Swamp in South Carolina on a road trip to Florida. (My husband likes state parks and natural wonders, so if I throw him a swamp, I can proceed to artificial Disney-made wonders with a clear conscience.)

Little rocker too little to roll on RnR.

Lunch at Sanaa (rhymes with huzzah) at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The lion on this Janie and Jack shirt ($4.99 on clearance!) is saying "ROAR."

England pavilion at Epcot.

Japan pavilion. This shirt says (in English) "Little Samurai." Not sure what it says in Japanese.

Outdoorsy plaid to sit a spell in a child-sized rocker outside the Iron Spike Room at the Wilderness Lodge.

The curtains at the Yacht Club made a nice backdrop for a neat LLBean shirt in which seagulls make up the sailboat.

Black and white gingham for Animator's Palette. (If I'd been really prepared, I'd have changed him into colored stripes for the end of the meal to match the walls changing from black and white into color!)

A particularly nice Hawaiian print for Castaway Cay.

A Gap shirt with a large Wave for breakfast at the restaurant of the same name at the Contemporary.

This yellow striped Chaps shirt (clearance rack at Kohls) seemed so perfect at Caribbean Beach. Love the cheerful Zuni fetishe under the bridge there.

Something patriotic for Liberty Square and lunch in Columbia Harbour House's wonderful second floor "bridge" room (literally the bridge over the walkway between Fantasyland and Liberty Square -- a great place to people watch).

This photo was taken too close to the subject. People look distorted if you use anything wider than about 30 mm or so. But it can sometimes be hard to back far enough away when you are dealing with crowded Disney World! I've also had a heck of a time since Aedan got glasses, avoiding reflection on the lenses.

This month's trip was only a few weeks in the making, but since I shop for Disney all year, there were a few things hanging ready in the closet. I supplemented the week's wardrobe with a few strategic purchases!

Last edited by scrapbookersdis; 02-10-2012 at 09:10 PM.
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Old 02-11-2012, 03:50 PM   #3
Yes, we are going to Disney World *again*!
It never occurred to me to wonder
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Northeast
Posts: 364

On to this trip's wardrobe!

A mustard yellow Florida shirt from Target for the flight south.

We are big Anglophiles, so this hoodie from Mini Boden will be great for the trip down and for any chilly evenings.

Something kind of posh for the Grand Floridian. Chaps shirt on sale at Kohls. It's so nice that you can always find a 30% off coupon online, even when you've only gotten a 15% off peel-back coupon in the mail.

The WDWRR is a favorite for Aedan, so this will be a perfect Magic Kingdom shirt for him.

And I used my Gymbucks to buy this for a day at the Animal Kingdom. We ended up seeing another boy wearing the same shorts at the Boneyard.

I always take a photo of the clothing, in order of planned appearance, before popping everything into suitcases. The days of coordinating socks are rapidly coming to an end. At home, Aedan just wears standard boring white socks now. But I thought I could get one more trip out of the collection of bright colored socks.

The upper row of t-shirts (for the last four nights) is for my teenaged son, Seamus. In a moment of weakness, I bought him a ticket to come down for a long weekend after school Friday, and we'd fly back home together. Seamus loves Disney as much as Aedan, and this would be the first time I had gone to WDW without him. Having him join us for the end of the trip made us both a lot happier.
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Old 02-11-2012, 04:19 PM   #4
Yes, we are going to Disney World *again*!
It never occurred to me to wonder
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Northeast
Posts: 364

I was sad when Aedan outgrew last summer's Mickey Crocs.

But it was fun to have an excuse to get these great Lego ones. We'd seen a boy with them on at Legoland Florida, so I'd gone looking for them on the Crocs website. Great jibbitz, too! Had them sent directly to the big kids' apartment in Winter Garden so we wouldn't have to carry them on the plane.

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Old 02-14-2012, 12:24 PM   #5
Yes, we are going to Disney World *again*!
It never occurred to me to wonder
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Northeast
Posts: 364

Like most regulars, I keep a Disney Packing List on my computer. It gets updated with every trip, but I retain a copy of each year’s version, just for the memories. Wasn’t so very long ago that baby items were on the list. Once there were Talkabouts, later replaced by cell phones (first for just the parents and the oldest child, followed by each succeeding child, as the years passed and the thrifty Tracfones accumulated). Once there was a Palm Pilot on the list. Now it’s a Kindle. The packing list gets pared down significantly when you’re flying rather than driving, of course. Carry-on bag dimensions are still 24” x 18” by 13”, but evidently they are soon to shrink. I packed light in any case. Staying at our Big Kids' apartment makes packing especially easy -- we have plenty of miscellaeous supplies waiting for us there.

It’s fun to add niggly, annoying tasks (which may have been hidden on the back burner for weeks … or months) on a Pre-Disney To Do List. It’s a great way to finally get them done! Funny how the prospect of a Disney trip can make even hemming a pair of pants seem festive. (Unfortunately, the hemming of the pants is one task that didn’t get done this time. Nor did the trimming of Aedan’s hair – though that ended up working hugely to our advantage.) But the boys did write their belated Christmas thank-yous. Aedan completed the fat packet of schoolwork his teacher had thoughtfully provided beforehand (so nice to get it done before you leave, rather than when you return). And I left the house clean. And some meals in the freezer for my husband and teenaged Seamus. What I really should do is add household things to the six-months-out Pre-Disney To Do List. Make Dining Reservations should be followed by Clean Out the Basement. If I can somehow make it about Disney, it might finally get done.

So the Wondrous Night Before arrived. Bags all packed and ready. I use a Vera Bradley “Betsy” handbag as a parks/camera bag. It’s smarter to avoid the bag check, but you can’t very well do that with three big lenses and other camera equipment. The only thing left to do was remember the items in the freezer. We have a bakery here which hasn’t changed a jot since the 1930s. They make a pastry called a butterfly – of which my daughter and sister are big fans. So a pastry for each was carefully wrapped in silver foil in the freezer. At o’dark thirty we were up, the butterflies were loaded, and we were off. I never fail to be interested in the fairly large volume of traffic on the road at 5:30 in the morning, even in a small town. We were at the airport in two jigs. We danced a third on our way to security. Aedan was randomly selected for further screening, but the agent merely rubbed a cloth on his hands and looked at them through a special glass, smiled apologetically, and sent us on our way. The flight began boarding just a few minutes after we arrived.

While the plane was loading, AirTran offered my Kindle 15 minutes of Internet for $1.99. I didn’t bother with it, but that seemed fair. In flight, the only option was $9.99 (which I also didn’t do – that’s two valet tips right there!).

Aedan played a Puffle Launch game on the Kindle.

The little ginger biscuits provided were delicious and refreshing. They gave animal crackers to Aedan.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you make look back and realize they were the big things.” ~Robert Brault

I later produced a tube of mini M&Ms.

We flew right over Aedan’s school, teachers just starting to arrive. By the time the kids were saying the Pledge of Allegiance, we were nearly in Orlando. It was a smooth flight and included an invitation to look down on the monuments of Washington, D.C., from the left side of the aircraft. Just prior to landing (20 minutes early, no less!), the pilot announced that it was “70 degrees in Orlando … and sunny. … Of course.” Got to love that “of course”!

We were on to the shuttle – the not-a-monorail -- in no time. Aedan stopped to give the Earport Mickey a high five.

Then down to the ground floor on the B side. (It’s two elevator rides down, not one!) We had our vouchers, so no need to stop at the desk.

We were on the Magical Express by 9:30 a.m. Unfortunately, we were the first ones on the bus – which meant a 20 minutes wait for more passengers. My DD had to work at 11:00 a.m. at the Boardwalk, so I’d been hoping to spend that 20 minutes worth of early arrival with her. But no matter. After one stop at Riverside, we were pulling up here at 10:40 a.m.

DD had checked in first thing in order to enjoy the room a bit. Passing her manager in the lobby, he asked which room she had been assigned. When she told him, he said, “Not acceptable,” and proceeded to a computer to give her an upgrade to a Boardwalk view. So nice! Aedan liked the balcony.

DD had made this for me. (Though the valet day would be at the Grand Floridian.)

I ran down to the Boardwalk Bakery to claim the refillable mugs that our dining plan came with. Unfortunately, it was busy. Two CMs were disappearing on break, leaving a third to contend with both a long line for the bakery and a shorter line of people waiting to have mugs filled. When my turn finally arrived, she told me that only the Coke and Sprite choices were working. Oh, well. No matter. I decided to stop in at the Belle Vue lounge to ask. The gentleman told me brusquely that he couldn't serve any beverages until 5:00 p.m. Evidently laws regarding sale of alcohol prevail there. But it would have been much nicer if he'd told me "no" a little apologetically instead of belligerently. Manners matter! (Interestingly, the woman working behind the bar at breakfast time could not have been nicer if she'd tried.) I guess rude people are unhappy and are more to be pitied than censured. Still, you hate to run into them at Disney.

With DD off to work, Aedan and I changed into summer clothes. We thought we might see Phineas and Ferb, so we made it a Perry shirt. by 11:30 a.m., we were setting off down the sunny walking path from the Boardwalk to Disney's Hollywood Studios. (If he'd been at school, Aedan wouldn't even be at lunch yet!)

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Old 03-03-2012, 11:37 PM   #6
Yes, we are going to Disney World *again*!
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Northeast
Posts: 364

It's a relief to come back to the pleasure of reliving this trip, particularly after dealing with a recent unplanned souvenir brought back from the Magic Kingdom on (as near as we can figure) January 31 -- chickenpox! Aedan had a mild case, but it still takes over your life for a bit -- then you have the missed schoolwork to catch up on, etc.

So ... back on January 30, we were still in our just-arrived haze of happiness, still gratefully adjusting to sunshine, palm trees, and being able to go outside without winter coats. And while marveling that we weren't cold -- we were also marveling that we weren't boiling hot. We very often have to visit WDW in the summer due to academic schedules. You feel assaulted by the sweltering heat every time you walk out a door. What a luxury to be able to enjoy WDW without being smothered by heat.

It's fun to approach the Studios on foot.

We strolled along the pathway from the Boardwalk to the Studios in high spirits. And considerable hunger. We hadn't bothered with breakfast, and our plane snacks had been fairly Spartan. Lunchtime! The dining credits on our room keys were starting to burn a hole in our pockets.

We passed through the louvered doors of Starring Rolls to the shadowy recesses of mouth-watering goodness within. We took our trays back outside and had our choice of several empty tables. (Normally, you have to circle a few times, ready to pounce on any group that appears to be leaving.) There weren’t even any aggressive birds around. We had such a relaxing lunch. My Black Forest ham sandwich was positively delectable. The bread was a toothsome foccacia, and they didn't spare the arugula. There was enough ham on it to have made two sandwiches (at least). It was chilled to refreshing perfection. The bottom slice was spread with a seedy honey mustard -- also perfection. I should have asked them exactly what it was.

The delight of the dining plan is having the freedom to select any entrée and any dessert, regardless of price. The trouble is, you're not really free. You feel that you should maximize the value of the DP by choosing the most expensive selection. I have to force myself not to feel this pressure. Fortunately, I was able to obtain my dessert of choice with impunity, since the banana split pudding was the most expensive option (at $3.99). Unfortunately, it wasn't really very good. It was a heavy custard-like consistency. And there was a shocking lack of chocolate. I'm still mourning the loss of the Bay Lake Banana Tart at Chef Mickey's from years ago. It had the perfect balance of chocolate (both dark and white), banana, and whipped cream. There was a big daddy version of that at the Boardwalk Bakery for a few years. Now there is very little banana about the World. The Fireworks Dessert Party has a banana tart -- better than this Starring Rolls concoction, but only a cheap knock-off of the old Bay Lake B.T.

Aedan enjoyed his peanutbutter chocolate cupcake. It was good, but not as good as it looked. The cake was pretty dry.

After lunch, we ventured out into the park. It was supposed to be a low-crowd day at the Studios, but it was very lively. There were even some Brazilian Tour Groups about. (July seems to be their big month, so I hadn't been expecting them in January.) Our first stop was Star Tours. Aedan exclaimed, “It’s you!!” when my face appeared as the rebel spy. (I was sitting in the second row from the front, second to last person in the row. I wonder if the camera is trained on that seat generally? Probably not.) You’re not supposed to take photos on Star Tours, so I didn’t have my camera out. I would have liked to have captured that moment, though. My older children were quite amused when we told them about it. We traveled to Hoth and had a lovely time.

We headed next to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground. DD, working at the front desk of the Boardwalk, had checked in a famous Pixar animator a few weeks ago. She recommended to him that they convert HISTK into a CARS themed playland. That’s a great idea, but I’ll be sad when they eventually do change it – as they surely will in time. How many kids playing in there have seen the HISTK movie? Aedan was especially glad to visit HISTK. It’s a favorite of his and was closed on our last visit as we arrived after sunset.

Another attraction he’d not been able to do for a while was Lights Motors Action.

I had forgotten that Herbie was replaced by Lightning. It is a thrill when he appears.

The summer heat has kept us away from LMA for a couple of years. With the heat coming from the cars, the sizzling pavement, and the flames, you just roast in there. Even today, with a cool breeze and temps in the 70s, the heat coming off that show was a little too much. They had a problem with one of the cars – it burst into flames! They put the fire out and towed the car. The driver had gotten well away, so no one was in immediate danger. But it was interesting that they didn’t start up some kind of pre-planned distractionary video on the screen. There have been accidents with injury there in the past, so you’d think they’d have such a video ready. In this case, there was no injury – so the best entertainment was simply watching the fast action of the fire squad (their firechief got a nice round of applause as the show resumed) and the towing of the damaged car. Within 15 minutes, the show resumed with a replacement car.

We’d had to choose between LMA and Phineas and Ferb, so we didn’t get our photo op. But we had seen them last summer and will look for them in the future.

It was time to head back to the Boardwalk so we could rest a bit before our dinner at Epcot, so we bid a fond farewell to the Studios.

Buenos "Dios," Studios? (Mickey looks as though he's standing inside the O -- but of course that's an optical illusion.)

There was a boat just arriving, so we hopped on.

This boy is needing a haircut!

The boat stops at the Swolphin and Yacht & Beach before finally reaching the Boardwalk, so we disembarked at the Swolphin and walked to the BWI. It’s an easy jaunt over the bridge. Saves about 6 minutes over the boat, and offers some nice Boardwalk-themed photo ops along the way.

A view of the Epcot ball from in front of the Boardwalk.

Starting to feel a bit peckish, we stopped in at the Boardwalk Bakery to see if they could tempt one of our snack credits away from us.

No problem there. This Oreo cupcake has a chocolate cream center -- light and creamy. It's now right at the top of our top ten list of cupcakes at Disney.

We just got one cupcake to share. It was nearly time for dinner at Via Napoli!
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Old 03-17-2012, 12:41 PM   #7
Yes, we are going to Disney World *again*!
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Northeast
Posts: 364

A quick change of clothes, and we were off.

The Friendship launch goes directly from the Boardwalk to the International Gateway (it stops at the Yacht Club on the way back), so we hopped on. It was a lovely breezy afternoon, so we sat outside.

Would that every bag check looked as uncrowded as this one:

We headed right over to Italy.

Via Napoli had seemed like a good place to use DP credits -- it's expensive and the desserts sounded good (our top two DP table service criteria!).

I'd thought of Tutto Italia as the signature restaurant of the Italy Pavilion. But Via Napoli, with its high ceilings and Neopolitan charm, is just as elegant.

We stopped for a photo in front of the ovens that would be baking our meal. The names painted over each oven are Stomboli, Vesuvio, and Etna -- the names of the three active volcanoes in Italy. (Who knew Stromboli was a volcano, not just an insideout pizza?)

We asked for a table by a window and were taken to the back room with a small window along the side of the building. The murals on the wall make you feel as though you're in a forest, and we loved our little window. This was the view:

Decisions, decisions!

Aedan chose the kids' pizza and settled in for some coloring.

I wanted to try one of their signature aqua frescas -- a house made seasonal fruit cooler. The version made with fresh strawberries was delicious, though I should have asked for it with no ice -- it disappeared too fast! Everything was beautifully presented.

We enjoyed a slice of bread while we waited. Truth to tell, it wasn't very good. Not bad, but kind of tasteless, unfortunately.

The lasagna verde (with spinach, parmesan, and besciamella sauce) was outstanding. We learned that al forne means "from the oven."

Aedan had the ruota di carretto (vanilla ice cream served with little crispy cookies). He and I also shared the zeppole di Caterina.

In the dessert world, there's nothing worse than fake whipped cream (ubiquitous on the Disney Cruise Line!). This whipped cream was entirely real and entirely delicious. The chocolate was also real and delicious. I had expected the little donuts to be fantastic -- maybe my expectations tripped me up. They were good, but not great. The ricotta is not very evident, but it made them a little heavy. Or perhaps we just got a less-than-ideal batch. Worth trying, and probably worth having on a second visit. But not melt-in-the-mouth delish. Still, we enjoyed it very much -- particularly serving ourselves from the little silver dishes.

On the way out, Aedan stopped to try the Mouth of Truth. Would it bite? (Like the one in Rome visited by Audrey Heburn and Gregory Peck in ROMAN HOLIDAY.)

We emerged into a beautiful sunset. The sunsets are always beautiful at Epcot. "Epcot, we love you!" Aedan exclaimed. That's amore!

We juked around the Epcot ball to take a ride through human history. We're big fans of Spaceship Earth.

We waved to great-great-great-great .... great grandpa:

And to pharaoah:

And to Mr. Buonarroti:

And he's off!

The Smart Driver racing game is always popular.

Then a stop to provide Paris with some energy at Power City.

It was getting close to 7:00 p.m. -- we'd have to hurry to get to Innoventions before it closed.
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Old 03-17-2012, 01:00 PM   #8
Yes, we are going to Disney World *again*!
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We had just enough time to stop in Innovations West before closing. Aedan loves to star in his own video game at the Runtime attraction. The castmember could have turned him away because it really was just about 7:00 p.m. We so appreciated her kindness in letting Aedan through the gate!

Aedan was going for a Sonic the Hedgehog running style.

Dancing it out:

They send an email with the game code so you can play the video game at home. Not sure how much longer this link will work.

Strolling back to the International Gateway, we stopped to take a few photos. At Canada:

And on the bridge over the English Channel between the UK and France.

Turning up the little slope to the International Gateway, we spotted one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills! It was Kim Richards. She was wearing black stilettos with knee-high stockings and very short black shorts. Dressed as she was, she obviously didn’t mind being recognized, but it seemed to rude to take a photo of her, so I didn’t. If it wasn’t Kim Richards, it was one heck of a doppelganger.

The launch was at the dock, so we decided to ride and rest our feet. More often than not, it’s easier to walk from International Gateway to the Boardwalk. But we weren’t about to say no to a waiting boat.

Whew! This one day felt like three -- the travel "day" at the airports and the Boardwalk, the "day" at the Studios, and now a "day" at Epcot.

Aedan wanted to slink into the lobby to spy on his sister at the concierge desk. She was assisting a guest with her usual charm and efficiency, but spotted us out of the corner of her eye.

We didn't want to embarrass DD, so we just slipped by. Around the corner was a pressed penny machine.

We also paid a call on the Margate Elephant. We visited the real one, in New Jersey, a few years ago.

Up in our room, there was a surprise waiting – Aedan’s new Lego Crocs had arrived. We got the Lego brick jibbitz loaded on.

View from our room:

And a gibbous moon hanging over the Yacht Club was the exclamation mark at the end of a wonderful Disney day.

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Old 03-17-2012, 01:23 PM   #9
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Love the tr - I'm subbing!
Me: DH DS10 DD8
DW - 2012 POR* DW - 2010 POP* DW - 2007 ASSports* DW - 1998 ASMusic* DW - 1997 ASMovies
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Old 03-17-2012, 01:42 PM   #10

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Just found this tr and it is making my day! Keep it coming! I love the pictures and your son is adorable. It is a catch 22 though, now I am really missing the World.

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Old 03-18-2012, 12:05 PM   #11
Yes, we are going to Disney World *again*!
It never occurred to me to wonder
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Northeast
Posts: 364

Originally Posted by NJOYURLIFE View Post
Just found this tr and it is making my day! Keep it coming! I love the pictures and your son is adorable. It is a catch 22 though, now I am really missing the World.
Originally Posted by DisneyDreamerMom View Post
Love the tr - I'm subbing!
It was so nice of you both to post a reply! Since I've been such an ungrateful lurker on trip reports myself, rarely stopping to post even a thank you (even after enjoying the reports enormously!), it seemed fitting if no one posted a reply at all, from start to finish. It would serve me right! But, of course, it's more fun that you replied. Thank you! And

Next up, the Magic Kingdom -- including a delicious surprise at the end of the day!
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Old 04-15-2012, 09:10 PM   #12
Yes, we are going to Disney World *again*!
It never occurred to me to wonder
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Northeast
Posts: 364

Magic Kingdom Day - Dark Ride Photography Attempts!

January 31, 2012

It was a beautiful morning with the sunrise glow on the Yacht Club across Crescent Lake.

DD, an early riser, started her day with a little time on the balcony with her journal.

We stopped at the Boardwalk's elegant Belle Vue Lounge to use our refillable mugs. Mary, the cast member serving breakfast, was a treat. She spread as much sunshine as the cast member there the previous night had cast gloom.

We had stopped by the BVL in the late afternoon to ask about using our refillable mugs. "No," snapped the man. "If I can't sell you a beverage, I can't give you a complimentary one, either." This certainly made perfect sense to him, but it didn't seem like an obvious cause-and-effect relationship to us. There may well be state laws about the dispensing of any kind of beverage at a bar, complimentary or not, alcoholic or not. But that wasn't even the point. Sometimes it seems as though people forget how much the words, "I'm sorry" or an empathetic tone can mean. He left us feeling as though we had been very much in the wrong for even asking about using our mugs.

Moreover, Disney shouldn't put the dispensers behind a bar where they are inaccessible before 5:00 p.m. (or whatever time this unpleasant man can begin to serve). The Boardwalk doesn't have a location where you refill the mugs yourself -- you have to wait in line and ask a cast member behind a counter to do it for you. None of this would have felt frustrating at the time if the man had just been apologetic rather than confrontive. (But the Boardwalk really needs a little counter service location like Captain Cook's -- even if the menu and seating were limited.)

At breakfast, Mary was so pleasant, she made us forget Mr. Grumpypants. We weren't tempted (by such offerings as a bagel or a bowl of cereal) to use any CS credits. We'd wait for the Main Street Bakery. But we enjoyed the coffee.

We were at the MK turnstiles by about 9:30 a.m. Sometimes it's more relaxing to skip the Welcome Show and the elbow-jostling park opening. Too much starting-gate tension! Strolling in at 9:30 certainly works well at the end of January, when crowds are low enough that you don't need to make every early-morning minute count.

I had brought along a couple of fast lenses, so hoped to snag some dark ride photos that have been eluding me. I got a few new ones, but missed more than I got.

This guy usually comes out as a blue blur:

Cleopatra was missing from her barge today. But there were lots of other friendly faces.

The egg-lobbing mammals. Be cool if they were on both sides of the boat and actually played catch with those eggs.

One of the only two American characters in Small World:

We headed next to Peter Pan. I didn't do very well with photos.

This is pretty abysmal, but better than I've done in the past. Love how the little cars are moving on the streets of London.

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Old 04-15-2012, 10:16 PM   #13
Yes, we are going to Disney World *again*!
It never occurred to me to wonder
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Northeast
Posts: 364

Continuing photographic failures on Peter Pan called for a palliative in the form of Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake, so we adjourned to the Liberty Tree Tavern.

We thought one of the CMs might have commented on Aedan's hoodie, since it was particularly inappropriate for the LTT. They didn't. (It would have been great fun if they'd threatened to put him in the stocks outside for such a shocking display of the Union Jack.)

And we also were disappointed that they weren't doing the "Hear ye, hear ye ... the Vanderyoodle family from the State of New York is now being seated." That adds so much to the atmosphere -- and costs nothing. I can't understand why they don't always do it. Haven't heard it for several visits now.

We had an early ADR in order to make a particular room request with reasonable expectation of success. The rooms are so charmingly themed here, we have been trying to be seated in each one in turn. (The Ben Franklin room has a kite and a key.) The George Washington room was up next for us. There's a table by a frosted window, but it was already taken. We had a cozy corner table by a paneled wall instead.

The menu has many tempting choices, but I can never resist the Tri-Corner Sandwich. The roast beef is always melt-in-your-mouth tender, with all the fat nicely trimmed off. The menu refers to the greens as arugula, but "rocket" (a British term) is a more pleasing word (though less patriotic from a revolutionary stand point). The slaw on the sandwich adds crispness. The wheat foccacia has a slight sweetness. The flaxseeds do not have a get-stuck-in-your-teethness. It's just perfection.

Typically, Aedan is consigned to the children's dessert (ice cream), but this being our Valet Parking Trip, we upgraded him to his own Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake. Unfortunately, it proved too much for him.

Boy versus Food. The OGTC won.

(TR foreshadowing: N.B. the relative un-meltedness of the ice cream atop the Toffee Cake. This will be important on a later day that week.)

We had an inspiration at this point. We requested a to-go beverage cup in which to spoon the remaining OGTC. Aedan's appetite revived after a fairly short stroll around Frontierland, by which time the OGTC was a sort of milkshake concoction. Aedan enjoyed it very much and ate every bite. (This was one of those rare but recurrent moments in which I was grateful for the absence of my DH. He is a great advocate for refrigeration and food safetly and would never have survived the Middle Ages or even a wife who Leaves the Butter on the Counter Overnight. When he isn't looking, we all eat food that has not been properly refrigerated. We have survived. So far.)

Aedan with his cup of OGTC goodness.

Last edited by scrapbookersdis; 05-06-2012 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 05-06-2012, 11:35 PM   #14
Yes, we are going to Disney World *again*!
It never occurred to me to wonder
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Northeast
Posts: 364

One of the ride highlights was Splash Mountain - it was a walk-on all day. Big Thunder had been down for its major rehab for a few weeks, so we thought Splash would be picking up the slack; but that didn't happen.

It's so strange to stand there at the junction where the crowds from Big Thunder normally surge into the crowds from Splash Mountain ... and listen to the quiet. You could almost hear crickets. In the summer, this area looks like a scene from SOYLENT GREEN. Only sweatier. Today it was wide open spaces. Maybe the fact that Big Thunder was down was keeping people from even coming over to Western Frontierland. In any case, we weren't complaining. We went on Splash about five times -- they let us stay right on the log. Fortunately, we didn't get very wet.

The carved Brer Rabbit was leading us onward.

My poor old arches could use some of that Critter Elixir.

Love that you can hear the little warbling bird voices coming out of the birdhouses, singing “Gotta keep movin’ along.”

Aedan and his brothers have been enjoying the Trololo videos on youtube this winter. Trololoing is like being Rick Rolled. You start out watching something familiar, then you’re tricked -- you're surprised by something unexpected – in this case, a Russian singer from the 70s who is sort of yodeling. The STAR WARS version called Princess Trololeia makes me laugh (particularly Grand Moff Tarkin’s evil nod and smile). One of the most famous is a LORD OF THE RINGS version called Trolling Sauruman (something like 12 million views on youtube) – that one is very well done, but based on one of the many violent scenes in the movie.

So Aedan thought it would be funny to "trololo" the other occupants of our log. As we approached Slippin’ Falls, he shouted, “It’s the BIG one!!” Then, after the little drop, he started singing the Trololo song. He did this for each of the four or five little drops. His laughter was so happy, it added to the fun.

Last edited by scrapbookersdis; 05-07-2012 at 12:01 AM.
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Old 05-06-2012, 11:42 PM   #15
Yes, we are going to Disney World *again*!
It never occurred to me to wonder
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Northeast
Posts: 364

These guys have Beatles haircuts. Kind of like Aedan at the moment. I really meant to get his haircut before the trip.

Brer Racoon. (Standing near him is Porky Pine – a porcupine. You see his name on the door of his house up ahead. I used to think it meant some kind of relative of Porky Pig. I got a photo of Porky on another day and will post it.)

Pinky, Pansy, and Petunia are very, very difficult to photograph. I did it poorly. Their faces are so brightly lit, they’re nearly always overexposed.

Menacing vultures:

This really *IS* the big one!

Splash is Aedan’s favorite ride, so he was glad to have had the chance to ride his fill.

Only a little damp:

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