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Old 12-14-2011, 09:07 AM   #1
SoNotAPrincess
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A Divalicious World Excursion! (New photos added 1/28!)

Hello and welcome! If you haven’t been following my PTR "Before the Shenanigans...", this is the story of two divas and their whirlwind World excursion. Come along with us as we travel to Canada, Morocco, China, Japan and even THE FUTURE! And top it off with a visit to a very wet and rainy old Hollywood.

For those of you who aren’t inclined to read the PTR (but, really, how will you sleep if you don’t?), the cast of characters is Erica (celebrating her 18th birthday) and me (Laura, Erica’s aunt, considerably older than 18.) I live about an hour’s drive from WDW (lucky me), have an AP (luckier me), and visit the Main Mouse frequently (luck jackpot!). Erica lives in Virginia, has only been WDW twice before, and is like sunshine on a cloudy day. Stop me now before I launch into a touching rendition of “My Girl”! Here is Erica through the years…



And this is your intrepid trip reporter, moi:



Now that we’ve all been introduced, let the frivolity commence!

INDEX
Chapter 1: The Dawning of Disney Day (you're here...scroll down!)
Chapter 2: A Nice Nap, Delicious Desserts, Watching Wishes, Making Memories
Chapter 3: The Most Important Meal of the Day
Chapter 4: Just Keep Swimmin'!
Chapter 5: It's Raining In Epcot
Chapter 6: A Night Fit for a Diva
Chapter 7: Hooray for Hollywood!
Chapter 8: "Hey, You're a Really Good Drawer!" or "All Good Things Must Come to an End"
Chapter 9: New Photos Added!


There’s nothing quite like the thrill of waking up and knowing that finally, after months of planning, changing, and re-planning, Disney Day has dawned. It’s like your birthday and Christmas rolled into one, only better because this party lasts more than just one day!

I stayed up late the night before Disney Day, finishing up some work stuff, and slept a little later than I’d anticipated. I didn’t have to be at the airport until 11:55 (or so I thought) so I was putzing around the house, lingering over coffee, checking the Dis, and updating my facebook status. You know, all the important stuff. I noticed that my sister left me a facebook message, “Call me…I have new flight info, and Erica appears to be the only one with your new cell phone number.” Umm, OK, but my “new” cell phone number is over a year old. And you have called it on numerous occasions. But whatever! I called her, and she clued me in on the fact that Mom and Erica were able to hop an earlier flight and would be touching down in Orlando at 11 a.m., NOT 11:55. My first thought: Yay! More Disney time! My second thought: Holy crap, I need to get a move on!

I am a very organized person. I like sticking with the plan I’ve so meticulously mapped out. So Gabriel (my BF) had a great time watching me try to get dressed, brush my teeth, and put makeup on simultaneously.

FYI FWIW: toothpaste doesn’t work well as foundation. Never brush your teeth with the mascara wand. Also, jeans zip up in the front.

I was out the door in record time, but even if I were to speed (which I would never do, and I have no idea why my family calls me Lead Foot Laura), there was no way I would get to the airport before they landed. They’d just have to wait for me. There’s a first time for everything. So, I was driving at the legally posted speed limit (hey, it could happen) and I noticed that I was well below a quarter of a tank of gas. Now, I don’t like getting below half a tank, but Gabriel used my car last and neglected to fill it back up. I work from home, so I don’t go out every day, and the last time I drove it, the tank was half full. At this point, I was on the beach line, which has very few exits. I thought there was one, but mile after mile went by, and no exit. Lots of toll booths, but no exit. Cows and horses, but no exit. A couple of cars broke down (or out of gas) on the side of the road, but no exit. The low fuel bell chimes, and just to taunt me, the digital read out now beams “LOW FUEL”. Honestly, I’ve had my car for almost five years, and I’ve never seen that message. So I start to worry. And sweat a little. And pray a lot. My cell phone rings, and it’s Erica (because she has my number). They’ve landed! I’m about five miles from the airport exit, but I have to get gas before I get them, so I tell her to hold tight…I’m comin’! And then, miraculously, I see an exit with a BP station, so I careen (safely) on to the exit ramp and skid (safely) to a stop next to a gas pump. I rejoice and offer prayers of thanksgiving. My mom calls because…oh, heck, I don’t know why she called. I told her exactly what I’d told Erica and what Erica had dutifully repeated to her. I told her that I was getting back in the car, and I’d be seeing her face in about 10 minutes.

Eight minutes later I was being jumped on by Erica, and we were squealing and hugging, doing the Disney Dance of Joy. I gave my mom a hug and smooch and made sure my aunt knew she had landed early (she did), and I wasn’t leaving Mom stranded at the airport (I wasn’t); then Erica and I beat feet outta there and headed to WDW where our divaliciousness would be unleashed! (I called Mom about 15 minutes after we left her. Aunt Nancy had already been there, and they were headed beachside…whew!)

We made it on to WDW property, and Erica snapped the traditional photo with her phone.



I know lots of things about WDW. What I don’t know about WDW is how to navigate to the moderate resorts without much backtracking and gnashing of teeth. I can find my way to the theme parks, deluxe resorts, and POP practically blindfolded. But in the moderates, I have met my Waterloo. First we went to Animal Kingdom. A fun place, for sure, but not our intended destination. Next we went to DTD, where we briefly considered stopping to see if we could have lunch at Wolfgang Puck because it’s kind of “our” place. And THEN we went to CBR. (Remember this, because we’re starting a trend.) We were so happy just to be where we were supposed to be that we didn’t take a photo of the sign. Doh! We did, however, remember to get a shot of the Custom House where we checked in.



The CM at the door said, “Welcome to the islands!” and set the tone for the resort right away. I love how Disney doesn’t miss a trick. You’re immersed in the experience with all your senses! Not only did it look like the islands, with bright tropical colors, island music was playing, and it even smelled like the islands…pineapple, coconut, sun, sand, and surf! Even the Christmas decorations had the island theme.



We were assigned to Room 4101 in Jamaica, which was pretty far away from everything; and if I’d been traveling with small children who were going to schlep to the pool every day, or if we’d planned to take to take busses everywhere, I’d definitely have asked to be moved. But for us, it was perfect. A quiet, peaceful ground floor corner room with a little oasis of greenery where Erica liked to perch on the railing and talk to her BF. There was a quiet pool nearby, which was nice, too.





Sorry, but these are the only room photos I have. We were starving and ready to go in search of sustenance! We dumped our luggage, used the facilities, checked hair and makeup (some touch-up needed), and headed out to get our grub on. Destination: Beaches and Cream!

Wowza! Just in case you were wondering, B&C is some kind of popular to say the least. It was around 1:30 when we got there, so I knew it would be busy, but I didn’t expect wall-to-wall people and such a long line! We quickly took stock of the situation and decided to go somewhere else. Yes, we were disappointed, but hunger wins every time! In order to take it easy on my knee (see the aforementioned PTR for info), we went back to the car and drove over to YC to check out Captain’s Grille. And since everyone else was at B&C, we walked right in, sat right down, and were sipping our drinks and reading menus in no time flat. Our waitress was Mouna, and she was just the sweetest thing…so helpful and nice and the perfect amount of checking up on us without being bothersome.

Erica is a vegetarian (no meat, but she eats seafood) and ordered the tomato and mozzarella sandwich. I am a carnivore and ordered the Black Angus hamburger topped with lobster meat.

While we waited for our food, we discussed the “man cave” atmosphere and decided that Troy (Erica’s dad) and Gabriel would be right at home. We also took embarrassing pictures of each other and then pinky swore that none of them would show up on facebook or the Dis. This one is Erica-approved.



We also got some random shots of the restaurant.



Ooooh….



Aaaah….

And then the food came!

First the crab cake appetizer, which we shared, but by the time we remembered to take a picture of it, this was what was left:



And then the main course!



Isn’t it pretty?



The food was good…very good. Erica especially loved the bread. I didn’t eat my bun, but I tasted it; and I liked it. The fries, however, were SO good. I’m not even that big a fan of fries, but I wanted more of them! Erica enjoyed her sandwich and said the mozzarella was some of the best she’s ever had. She didn’t like the side item you see in the picture (I can’t remember what it’s called), so she got fries, too. She agreed that they were good but wasn’t quite as taken with them as I was.

Mouna noticed Erica’s birthday button and brought her a chocolate mousse truffle dome extravaganza of awesomeness as a surprise dessert. And lemme tell you, it was like Heaven on a spoon, baby. Rich, creamy, melt in your mouth chocolate Heaven. It wasn’t on the lunch menu, so maybe it’s a dinner dessert; and maybe some of you have had it. If you haven’t had it, what are you waiting for, go get it! And, no, there are no photos of it because we inhaled it!

On the Divalicious Scale of Delicious Disney Dining, we gave it two thumbs up and would eat there again.

After lunch, we admired the YC Christmas decorations. My camera doesn’t do so well with photos of lights, and I usually get a bunch of blurred masterpieces. You should see some of the abstract photo art I’ve created trying to take pictures of fireworks!

On second thought, never mind.



You can’t say you weren’t warned! Giant nautical-themed tree…blurry but still pretty.

I liked the miniature town.







At this point, with our tummies full and our camera batteries dying, we decided to go back to CBR. Erica had gotten a grand total of about 40 minutes of sleep the night before because she was nervous about her first-ever flight and was ready for a nap, and I was ready to elevate my knee and make an ice pack my close personal friend.


Up Next: Click here for "A Nice Nap, Delicious Desserts, Watching Wishes, Making Memories"
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:05 PM   #2
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I'm here!!!!!!!!

How fun that the flight came in early! But I hate rushing around in the morning too, I would have definitely ended up with my toothbrush in my hair or something in that sort of craziness! Your trip sounds like it got off to a great start!

I must say, Erica's sandwich is absolutely gorgeous...dare I say...divalicious? Come on. Only a diva could have such an intricately assembled sandwich! And it looks fantastic too!

Disney does their chocolate mousse wonderfully, I've loved every incarnation of it I've ever had.

Can't wait to read more!
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Old 12-15-2011, 07:10 AM   #3
SoNotAPrincess
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stringbean&Wingnut View Post
I'm here!!!!!!!!

How fun that the flight came in early! But I hate rushing around in the morning too, I would have definitely ended up with my toothbrush in my hair or something in that sort of craziness! Your trip sounds like it got off to a great start!

I must say, Erica's sandwich is absolutely gorgeous...dare I say...divalicious? Come on. Only a diva could have such an intricately assembled sandwich! And it looks fantastic too!

Disney does their chocolate mousse wonderfully, I've loved every incarnation of it I've ever had.

Can't wait to read more!
Welcome! I'm glad you made it over!

That sandwich was definitely divalicious...almost too pretty to eat (although she did manage to scarf it down somehow)!

Ah, chocolate mousse...I want some right now!
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Old 12-16-2011, 11:57 AM   #4
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A Nice Nap, Delicious Desserts, Watching Wishes, Making Memories

We made our way slowly back to the car, passing a small outside wedding reception along the way. The tablecloths were bright white under the blue sky and adorned with brilliant purple centerpieces…so pretty! Erica commented that YC was a beautiful place to get married, and I reminded her that she had once said she wanted to get married at the Grand Floridian. Which, apparently, she had completely forgotten. Or maybe she’s just fickle when it comes to Disney deluxe resorts!

We made it back to CBR with NO backtracking (miracles DO happen), and I commented on how empty the parking lots were as we made our way to Jamaica. I don’t think we ever saw more than two or three people at CBR stops waiting for a bus, and we were always able to park in the space closest to our room. I was patting myself on the back for knowing that early December is a great time to visit WDW!

After a stop at a nearly-deserted Port Royale for ice and post-nap snacks and beverages, we hit the room for some Stacey, a shower (Erica), and a pain pill/ice pack combo (me). We both fell asleep, and I have to say that the CBR beds were wonderful. It’s been a while, but I don’t remember the moderate beds being so comfy!

I woke before Erica and snapped a photo of Sleeping Beauty with my phone. She wasn’t exactly thrilled about it but gave me the OK to put it in the TR.



I reviewed our photos, jotted down some TR notes, chatted with Gabriel for a bit, read a few chapters in the book I’d brought along, and showered before waking Erica (boy, was she tired!); but soon enough we were getting ready for our dinner at Grand Floridian Café. It was Erica’s idea to wear tiaras to this meal, and I was completely willing to go along with it; but she forgot hers, so we nixed the plan. Sigh. There just aren’t enough opportunities in life for a diva to wear her tiara!

As we approached GF, I was stunned by all the people milling around out front and the number of cars overflowing the lot. It was chaos! Certainly different than CBR. Could this be a foreshadowing of things to come? We circled the lot a few times in search of the ever-elusive close-up space with no success, so I decided to give my knee a break and let Erica drop me off at the door and park the car. As I was getting out with my cane, one of the valets came over and said that since the handicapped lot was full, we were eligible for complimentary valet parking. Yes! We practically high-fived as we left White Lightnin’ (my car, so-named by my nephew) in the valet’s care and made our way to GFC. On the way, we saw this:







We checked in and were given a buzzer. The lobby was a madhouse, complete with shouting, crying, and shoving (I wish I was joking); so we stepped outside to escape the noise and waited about 15 minutes for our table to be ready.

Our waitress, whose name I don’t remember, was a hoverer and checked on us about every five minutes, which, I suppose, is better than being ignored or forgotten. The restaurant was packed and incredibly loud. It was a bit difficult to have a decent conversation, but we managed. Erica started with the French onion soup, and I had the pumpkin bisque. Both were yummy! For her main, Erica had the Mahi Mahi, which she LOVED.



I had the grilled pork chop, which the menu said came with roasted corn, sugar snap peas, and stone-ground mustard demi-glace but was served like this:



I asked and was told that they were out of the sides normally served with it, so I got creamed spinach (ugh, ick, yuck) and scalloped potatoes. The pork chop was juicy but tasted a bit vinegary, which I didn’t enjoy. The spinach was—what’s the word—disgusting. But the potatoes more than made up for it. They were beyond delicious!

For dessert, we ordered the sampler of four, and it came to the table with a light-up Tinker Bell clip-on birthday surprise for Erica. There was a little girl at the table next to us who was celebrating her birthday, too, and she immediately started telling her dad that she wanted THAT dessert!



From left-to-right: Key Lime pie with a chocolate crust (not our favorite; it wasn’t limey enough, and I didn’t care for the lime/chocolate taste sensation), Boston crème cake with dark chocolate ganache (the cake and filling were good, but the mild flavor profile was overpowered by the ganache), fruit tart topped with blueberries and raspberries (very yummy; we agreed that we wanted more of it), and lemon cheesecake dome (the best by far, perfect combination of tart and sweet; we would both order it again…and again!).

We also got a dark chocolate Mickey, and he was just adorable!



We briefly considered taking Mickey back to the room with us, but our evening wasn’t ending at GF, so Erica gave him a smooch…



…and dunked him in her coffee!

Erica gave GFC a thumbs up (way up!) and named this her second favorite meal of the trip. She would most definitely eat there again. In spite of my great love for the scalloped potatoes and lemon cheesecake, I’m giving it a thumbs down and won’t be rushing back anytime soon.

Ordinarily, I love to hang out at GF, linger in the lobby and pretend that I live there; but it was so crowded and loud that we decided to move on to the Poly, where Holiday Wishes from the beach awaited us.

Erica fell in love with the Poly and immediately began making plans to come back and stay there forthwith, posthaste, and as soon as possible! She didn’t remember, but we used the volcano pool on one of our trips when the Contemporary was being used as Shades of Green during renovations. The CR pool was closed, and we were allowed to use all the deluxe resort pools. Let’s hear it for Disney-approved pool hopping! I’m surprised she didn’t remember competing for the gold medal in the Water Slide Olympics!

She got a few snaps around the lobby…I got nuffin’. I usually have photos of EVERYTHING, but this trip my mad photography skillz were wonky. Let’s blame it on the camera, shall we? I have high hopes that Santa will bring me a new Canon Rebel T3i for Christmas and then I’ll have no more excuses. I’ll post some of Erica’s pictures once I have them.

We made it outside just as the water pageant was sailing into view. I urged Erica to run ahead and get some pictures, but she did the turtle walk with me (because she’s sweet like that); and we enjoyed the lights and music as we made our way to the beach. We pulled up chairs just in time for the patriotic finale. The night was breezy and cool, but not cold enough to require jackets; and the sky was dotted with a smattering of stars that glittered like diamonds.

Sometimes, when you least expect it, life gives you a moment you’ll remember forever. Sitting there on the Poly beach, watching the castle change colors, waiting for Holiday Wishes to start, I had one of those moments. Erica reached out and grabbed my hand, squeezed it, and said, “Thank you, Aunt Lauri. I love you!” And, of course I got a little misty eyed because this weekend that was my gift to her was also her gift to me. The gift of her time; new memories to add to my treasure trove; and, most importantly, the ever-renewing gift of her love.

We held hands as fireworks burst in bright red, blue, green, and gold explosions around us and drifted to the water like stars floating from the sky. We gasped and laughed; and, of course, I cried because I always cry during Wishes.

I won’t humiliate myself by posting my photographic attempts at capturing the best fireworks show ever in the history of mankind. WISHES ROCKS!

We waited until the small crowd dispersed and then made our way through the lush Poly gardens and back through the lobby to the car. We went back to CBR by way of Wilderness Lodge (I blame it on the darkness because it certainly couldn’t be MY fault) and made a stop for ice before remembering that we had to pick up Erica’s park tickets at concierge. They were supposed to be linked to her KTTK at check in but weren’t, and the line at concierge was so long at that time that we left after waiting about 15 minutes.

So, back around to Custom House we went. Upon entering, I saw the CM at concierge with his cash drawer in hand, obviously closing up for the night. He noticed me, too, and asked if he could help, even though they were officially closed and had been for almost a half hour. He explained that the system had been shut down for the night, but he’d try to retrieve the tickets and asked for the confirmation number. It was in my handy dandy, super nifty pocket-sized notebook, where I had meticulously written down ALL our confirmation numbers and other important information…

…and was in the room because it didn’t fit in the small bag I’d switched to.

Good thing I have a beautiful mind! I was able to give him enough of the number that he found the ticket order, deactivated her current KTTK, and printed a new one with the tickets attached. Hooray for Arvulo, my new best friend, CM extraordinaire, magic-maker supreme, unmatched pixie dust scatterer!

In spite of what Gabriel says, it really doesn’t take much to make me happy!

All in all, it was a lovely first day. We visited three deluxe resorts, enjoyed some pretty spectacular desserts, and experienced Holiday Wishes. It wasn’t exactly as I’d planned, but I wouldn’t change a moment of it!


Up next: Click here for "The Most Important Meal of the Day"
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Old 12-17-2011, 05:03 AM   #5
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I think any of the deluxe resorts - or really anywhere on property - would be an awesome place to get married! Last year, DBF and I stayed at the Yacht Club, and our room looked directly over the Wedding Pavilion gazebo there. It was a really nice little area - and one day we actually even got to see a wedding there! (Well, I peeked before the ceremony, and then we left them alone - we would have been totally obvious lurkers on our balcony! )

That stinks that the Grand Floridian was totally chaotic! But your dessert sampler does look awesome!

How fun that you got to catch some of the EWP from the beach! I'm really hoping to see it next month!
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Old 12-17-2011, 09:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stringbean&Wingnut View Post
I think any of the deluxe resorts - or really anywhere on property - would be an awesome place to get married! Last year, DBF and I stayed at the Yacht Club, and our room looked directly over the Wedding Pavilion gazebo there. It was a really nice little area - and one day we actually even got to see a wedding there! (Well, I peeked before the ceremony, and then we left them alone - we would have been totally obvious lurkers on our balcony! )

That stinks that the Grand Floridian was totally chaotic! But your dessert sampler does look awesome!

How fun that you got to catch some of the EWP from the beach! I'm really hoping to see it next month!
I totally agree about the deluxe resorts for weddings...magical! How cool that you got a peek at one at YC! I'm so excited to stay at there in October!

OMG, that dessert sampler completely saved that part of our night for me!

I hope you get to see the EWP!
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Old 12-17-2011, 09:57 PM   #7
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The Most Important Meal of the Day

The next morning we were up with the sun, bright-eyed and eager to greet the day, singing “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” while some friendly woodland creatures helped us get dressed.

Oh, wait, that’s Cinderella.

After staying up late talking, we were up well after the sun, groggy but happy to be together at Disney, managed to get ready on our own without incident, and hit the road for breakfast at Kona Café.

I remember when Kona wasn’t the popular breakfast place it is now, when you could walk in without an ADR and get a table, and when there weren’t approximately three gazillion and one people there before you.

Ah, the good old days.

We muscled our way through the throng (‘Scuse us, pardon me, comin’ through!), checked in, and were told, “Sorry. We’re running late. Here’s your buzzer. Go away and wait someplace else.” OK, I added that last part, but the Kona CMs were less than friendly. I may have muttered something like, “Welcome to Kona, have a magical freakin’ day,” under my breath, which, if I said it, made Erica laugh.

We found an abandoned lei and had some fun with flowers.







Erica updated her facebook status to “Just got lei’d at Disney!”

And I took a photo of the waterfall from above.



We waited over a half hour (!) but finally got a table. During the planning and waiting for this trip to happen, we talked about Tonga Toast a lot. A lot, a lot. More than normal people should talk about French toast. Then again, we never professed to be normal! Anyhoo, Erica said many times that she couldn’t WAIT to try it. I agreed that there was NO WAY I could go to Kona and not get the famed Tonga Toast. So naturally, I ordered…

…macadamia nut pancakes!



And Erica ordered….

…a veggie omelet!



We also shared a pot of Kona coffee, which, IMHO, is the only decent coffee available at WDW. My motto when going to WDW: Have Starbucks, will travel!

Wouldn’t it be AWESOME if Disney and Starbucks joined up (sorta like Disney and Coke)? Seems like a no-brainer to me! Gabriel says Disney and Starbucks are like the two prettiest girls in school, each waiting to be invited to the prom. Which makes no sense AT ALL to me, and yet I think I get what he means anyway. My advice to both of them: Get over yourselves…make a deal…make people happy…make TONS more money!

But I digress.

Again.

Erica and I were both pleased with our food and gave Kona two thumbs up on our Divalicious Scale of Delicious Disney Dining. We would come back, but only if we’re not in a rush to be somewhere at a certain time.

Even though she wasn’t wearing her birthday button, the waitress brought her a cupcake (I had put the celebration on the reservation).



(She’s taking a picture of the Stitch that was dusted in chocolate on her plate. Erica LOVES her some Stitch!)



According to Erica, the cupcake was less than stellar; but she didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so she took it with her and tossed it out of sight of Kona. I just love that girl!

With breakfast behind us, we headed for our first ride on the monorail. I love the monorail with a love that shall burn brightly throughout time and shall never dim. Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas, y’all! I suggested that we ride it around a couple of times just for fun, but “somebody” gave me the stink eye. Fine, birthday girl’s rules…onward to Epcot!

As we rode the rail, I asked Erica if she knew what EPCOT originally stood for, before it became Epcot Center (boo hiss). She didn’t, so I told her, and then added that CMs who work there say it stands for Every Paycheck Comes On Thursday and at the end of the day it means Every Person Comes Out Tired. There was a young lady in our car who had apparently bathed in her favorite fragrance, making me glad for fresh air. As we made our way to bag check, I told Erica that EPCOT could also stand for Excessive Perfume Causes Olfactory Trauma!

Which started a great new game!

We had SO MUCH FUN making up new names for the park based on things we saw! Here are some of our favorites:

At the Living Seas: Eighty People Can Ogle Turtles

In Canada: Enraged Pirate Curses Oddball Tourist

In France: Enchanting Princess Charms Old Timer

In Mexico: Evidently Pre-teens Can’t Obtain Tequila

In Electric Umbrella: Exhausted Parents Chase Over-amped Toddler

Future World: Egghead Pedestrian Causes Outrageous Tumble

Everywhere: Every Pretty Christmas Ornament Twinkles

Now back to your regularly scheduled trip report!

We stopped, and I got a set of wheels for the day. No use walking and being in pain with every step when I can ride and have the pain somewhat diminished! It took me a few minutes to get the speed controlled so that Erica didn’t have to power walk to keep up with me, but we were soon in sync and on our way to The Land for Soarin’ fastpasses.

…until we were sidetracked by the Finding Nemo ride.

Erica loves Finding Nemo the movie and made a beeline for it. I told her that Nemo’s ride isn’t Disney’s finest effort and suggested that we get our FPs for Soarin first, only to fold when she said, “Oh, come on, let’s ride it NOW.” I’m weak. I admit it.

I laughed when the ride ended, and Erica said, “Well, that was kinda lame.”

To which I responded, “Really? I thought it ROCKED!”

We headed into the aquarium, where we lingered for a long time. The Living Seas is one of my favorite things at Epcot, and Erica has mad love for all things aquatic; so we were in no hurry at all to leave.

When she was three years old, we went to Sea World and she asked what job would let her be with whales and dolphins all the time. The only thing I could think of was marine biologist, and she spent the next four years telling anyone who would listen that she was going to be a marine biologist. Then one day, she announced that she’d changed her mind and wanted to be a zoologist instead. I asked her why, and she answered, “Well, if I’m a marine biologist, I have to be in the water all the time; and I’ll get all pruny.”

True dat.


Up next: Click here for "Just keep swimmin'!"
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Old 12-18-2011, 10:35 AM   #8
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I'm doing the Tonga Toast countdown too right now...who knows if I'll actually order it though!! It's just so sweet...that's my only deterrent. I wonder if I can order it without that final dredging of sugar. Is that weird? I would totally do that if I could.

I love your new names for Epcot! Agreed, Nemo definitely is a bit lame. Although a friend and I once rode after some squishees from France...that ride was HILARIOUS then!
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Old 12-19-2011, 09:59 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Stringbean&Wingnut View Post
I'm doing the Tonga Toast countdown too right now...who knows if I'll actually order it though!! It's just so sweet...that's my only deterrent. I wonder if I can order it without that final dredging of sugar. Is that weird? I would totally do that if I could.

I love your new names for Epcot! Agreed, Nemo definitely is a bit lame. Although a friend and I once rode after some squishees from France...that ride was HILARIOUS then!
Tonga Toast is sweet, but I usually LIKE that about it! I bet you could get it without the final dredging, and it certainly never hurts to ask!

When Erica turns 21, we'll go back and ride Nemo again and see if it's improved after some squishees. Of course, most things in life can be improved with the addition of a squishee!
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Old 12-19-2011, 10:24 AM   #10
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Just Keep Swimmin'!

I just want to take a moment here to thank everyone who's taking the time to read along. (I know you're out there...the counter is going up!) It's so much fun reliving the my time with Erica at WDW and having y'all along for the ride! Please don't hesitate to leave a comment...I'd actually LOVE it if you did.

Wishing all of you a magical holiday season!


Now, where were we?

Ah, yes, the Seas with Nemo and Friends…but it will forever be The Living Seas to me!

This is the spot in the TR where I was going to wow the readers with Erica’s fish photos. Of which there were many. Unfortunately, she took them with her phone; and it was stolen before she uploaded them.

Gloom, despair, and misery on me!

I asked her for them numerous times, but…well, she’s 18; and I guess that’s the only excuse she has…or needs!

Therefore, I have only one photo to document the two-plus hours we spent there.



“Gimme some fin, my friend.”

After advising all the fish to “just keep swimmin’”, we left the sea, and I got a picture of the back of Spaceship Earth. Since I already have approximately 10,000 pictures of the most famous slightly irregular geodesic sphere on the planet, I’m always looking for new angles to photograph. As it turns out, this isn’t a new or even a particularly good angle…go figure.



And I got another shot of my favorite fountain in all of Disney!



One can never have enough pictures of a glass pyramid either!



The tantalizing scent of magical Disney popcorn beckoned us, and we had no choice but to take advantage of its restorative powers while giving Erica’s feet a break. She wore very cute and very unpractical shoes both days and insisted that she was fine every time I asked. I was skeptical to say the least! I usually wear my bright pink Mickey Crocs at Disney because they’re amazingly comfortable…and also because I don’t mind people staring at my feet. But since I was ECV’ing it for most of this trip, I wore my favorite pink flip flops instead. I packed the Crocs and tried to convince Erica to wear them…or to let me get her a pair in a not-so-vibrant color or more fashionable style…but there was no way she was gonna let that happen.

By the time we finished our popcorn, we were ready to venture into World Showcase, completely forgetting…

…wait for it…

…Our Soarin’ fastpasses.

Word to the wise, even half a pain pill can impede your Epcot touring plan.

I don’t have any pictures of the United Kingdom and no TR notes either, so either we didn’t stop there or we did, and it was so dull that I completely blocked it out. (After I wrote this, I asked Erica, and she said, “Is that where we saw the maze thing?”) So I guess we were there after all!

In Canada, we bypassed the movie but got some pictures.




(That’s a tiny baby duck sunning itself next to his mama.)



We stopped and enjoyed Off Kilter because they’re awesome and totally rock!

It had nothing whatsoever to do with their toned, muscular legs and the fact that men in kilts are insanely attractive.

To me.

And apparently to Erica, too.

If anybody asks, that’s our story; and we’d appreciate you corroborating it.

Next up, France! We saw Beauty and the Beast, and I wanted to stop and take Erica’s picture with them; but she demurred. I know I could have talked her into it, but I really didn’t want her to do anything she didn’t want to do; so I let it go. But I warned her that if we saw Genie or Sully, I would be stopping; and she’d be responsible for getting the picture! She only stopped for one character during the trip, and she was as excited as a toddler. (Can you guess who it is?) Stay tuned for the photo in a future installment!







By the time we reached Morocco, we were hungry and decided to check out Tangierine Café, continuing our quest to visit as many WDW cafés as possible (current count: Grand Floridian Café, Kona Café, and now Tangierine Café). Since our dinner reservation wasn’t until 9:30, we decided to hold off on lunch a bit longer and selected a traditional Moroccan almond pastry and a Pistachio baklava from the coffee bar to share.

They were so good that angels sang.

They were so good that we got two more!

Erica’s BF called just as we were finishing up each and every crumb, so I left them to chat while I went to the ladies room. On the way, I saw three men on the grass under the Moroccan flag doing their afternoon prayers. It was one of those quiet Disney moments that I love so much. I didn’t want to invade their privacy (in the middle of Epcot, but still), so I didn’t stop to watch, but I found it very beautiful that they had found a place to practice their faith at Disney.

Erica loves the Moroccan design aesthetic, so we went back into the shops to see what we could see. I absolutely love this little bazaar area, and we had a blast admiring things and decorating her future apartment with carpets, lamps, vases, etc. from Morocco, via WDW. And of course, we both fell in love with the caftans, beaded scarves, belts, and head dresses, too! We found a stash of brightly colored enamel bracelets, some bejeweled, others with dangling beads that tinkled and sang with every movement. It was so much fun trying them all on, and the salesgirl kept going into the back and bringing more out, just to make deciding which one to buy even harder! Erica finally settled on a black and silver beaded beauty, which you can see in some of the photos below.

We did a little impromptu photo session with this beautiful fountain as the backdrop. It was practically deserted!













We also spent a few minutes in the small museum, Moroccan Style: The Art of Personal Adornment. There are some seriously beautiful things in there, and I highly recommend a visit. Being an equestrian herself, Erica grabbed my camera and got this shot:



At this point in the day, it began to sprinkle, but we proceeded, undaunted, to the Orient…


Up next: Click here for "It's Raining in Epcot"
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Old 12-19-2011, 12:35 PM   #11
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Great report so far! I get what you mean about Disney departure day being like Christmas and your birthday all rolled into one. We are leaving in three weeks for our trip and I asked my DH if he was excited for Christmas the other day and he said he was but he was more excited for Disney! My DH loves Christmas so this was a pretty big confession! And when I asked why he said because Christmas is only one day and Disney is much longer I can't wait to see the rest of your trip and which character that she stopped for!
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Old 12-19-2011, 03:11 PM   #12
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I'm reading! You are a great writer. Very funny!
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Old 12-19-2011, 06:37 PM   #13
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I love taking pics of Spaceship Earth from every possible angle too! Hmm...I don't have any from above though...

Love your pics around Morocco, it really is a gorgeous pavilion! I love those shops, they're so cool how they look like they're an open meandering market!
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Old 12-20-2011, 07:17 AM   #14
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Great report so far! I get what you mean about Disney departure day being like Christmas and your birthday all rolled into one. We are leaving in three weeks for our trip and I asked my DH if he was excited for Christmas the other day and he said he was but he was more excited for Disney! My DH loves Christmas so this was a pretty big confession! And when I asked why he said because Christmas is only one day and Disney is much longer I can't wait to see the rest of your trip and which character that she stopped for!
Thanks for posting! You guys are getting close to your trip...have a great time in WDW!

It's great when the DH loves Disney, too...I'm still bringing my BF on board, but the magic is working!

Happy holidays!
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Old 12-20-2011, 07:19 AM   #15
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I'm reading! You are a great writer. Very funny!
Yay! Thank you...I'm glad you're enjoying our antics!
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