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Old 01-22-2013, 11:52 AM   #136
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I love your 'Xmas dec' tour of Epcot you managed to fit a lot into the day
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:00 PM   #137
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Originally Posted by irongirlof12 View Post
I love your 'Xmas dec' tour of Epcot you managed to fit a lot into the day
Thanks, I seemed to have taken a huge amount of photos this time round, but everything was so pretty.

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Old 01-23-2013, 03:55 AM   #139
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I am hoping to get another update in tomorrow. We are now paid in full for the second part of our back to back cruise and the next trip is definitely creeping up on us. I want to make sure that this trip report is done by the time we leave for the next trip.

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Old 01-23-2013, 05:26 PM   #140
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This is my favorite gown so far, just gorgeous!

The manatee excursion looks like such fun. I'm glad you were able to work around things to be able to do it.
I agree, that is a lovely gown
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Old 01-23-2013, 05:51 PM   #141
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Originally Posted by dolphingirl47
I am hoping to get another update in tomorrow. We are now paid in full for the second part of our back to back cruise and the next trip is definitely creeping up on us. I want to make sure that this trip report is done by the time we leave for the next trip.

Corinna
Wooohooo delighted that no.1 you've paid off, that has to be a brilliant feeling and no.2 you are ploughing on with the report! Loving it so far and the gowns....Omg fab!! Loving all the pics you got some fabulous shots taken I must say lots of photoframes needed Hehe
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:26 AM   #142
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I agree, that is a lovely gown
I just received another gown yesterday in the same style. The colour on the website looked gold, but it is actually a lovely shade of yellow. This is not quite what I had expected, but I still love it.

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Wooohooo delighted that no.1 you've paid off, that has to be a brilliant feeling and no.2 you are ploughing on with the report! Loving it so far and the gowns....Omg fab!! Loving all the pics you got some fabulous shots taken I must say lots of photoframes needed Hehe
The irony is that I don't really do hardcopies of photos. The prints that I got with the cruise CD are still sealed in the box that we shipped them home in.

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Old 01-24-2013, 04:32 AM   #143
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Day 13

I had set the wake up call for 8:00 that morning. We got up and got ready and then went in search of breakfast. I am not normally a breakfast person, but as we had a spare Counter Service Credit each, I decided to join Graham for some breakfast. We headed over to the Boardwalk Inn, where the Bellevue Lounge was accepting Counter Service Credits for breakfast. They just had Continental Breakfast available. Graham had a Danish Pastry, a Banana and a cup of Coffee. I had a Blueberry Mickey Muffin, an Orange and a cup of Coffee. We were advised that we should have brought our refillable mugs as we could have used those for our coffee and then could have got a bottled drink as part of our Counter Service entitlement. We took note of this for future reference. But neither of us fancied the long hike back to the room to get our mugs.

When we finished our breakfast, we headed out towards the bus stop. This was a bit of a walk. Staying at the Boardwalk is definitely best if you are planning to visit Epcot and Hollywood Studios. When we got to the bus stop, a bus to the Magic Kingdom was just pulling in. There were so many people waiting that we did not think that we would get on. We did get on and even managed to get seats as a lot of families and groups decided to stand rather than being separated. I was surprised when we also stopped at the Swan as the bus was already full when we left the Boardwalk. Once we left the Swan, we headed straight to the Magic Kingdom and it did not take very long to get there. When we arrived at the Magic Kingdom, Graham and I said goodbye to each other and headed our separate ways.





I could not believe how busy the park was. I expected the parks to get busy from the Wednesday onwards, but this was the busiest I had seen Magic Kingdom. It felt like the people on Main Street were shoulder to shoulder. I decided to check out the character Meet and Greets at the Town Square Theater. The line for Mickey was about 20 minutes and line for the Princesses about 40 minutes. I was fascinated by the fact that there were Fast Passes available for the character Meet and Greets. My plan had been to get a Fast Pass for the Princesses and then get in line for Mickey, but when I got to the Fast Pass Machines, I was told that I could have one Fast Pass for each Meet and Greet at the same time. So I decided to do this. I also got a surprise Fast Pass for Dumbo, but did not make it back there during the window that it was valid for.

While I was waiting for my window to see Mickey to open, I do something about my Photopass CD. I had pre-ordered this and now I had make sure that I got enough photos to make this worth my while. I had spotted a Photopass photographer by the nutcrackers on Town Square and I figured that this would be as good a starting point as any. There were multiple lines in this area and while I tried to figure out which line I had to get into for the nutcrackers, my attention was diverted. One of the lines was for Marie. Aristocats was one of the first films my dad took me to see at the cinema when I was 5 or 6. I never saw this again and I had never met one of the characters. The line did not look too bad so I decided to make good use of the opportunity. When it was my turn to meet Marie, I had a lot of fun. When I downloaded my photos, I was surprised how many different photos the photographer had taken. Once I was finished with Marie, I did get some photos taken with the Nutcrackers, too.



















It was not only the decor that was very Christmassy, but the temperatures as well, at least by Florida standards. I was surprised how chilly it was. So the next order of the day was getting something warmer to wear. I decided to check if they had the cardigan that I had fallen in love with the day before. I did manage to find this and with 20% off for my Premium Annual Pass, this was pretty good value. Now that I was warm again, I went to see Mickey. At the entrance to the Town Square Theater, I was asked if I was there to see Mickey or the Princesses and was then directed to the right- hand line. Near the beginning of that line, I was then asked if I had a Fast Pass and was then directed to a different line. I did not have to wait long. I had never seen Mickey at his old home, but I was pretty impressed with this. It made me smile when I saw Castaway Cay written on the trunk that was used as a divider. There were a couple of families in front of me, but soon it was time to see Mickey. He spotted my birthday badge and got rather excited. I spent a couple of minutes with Mickey and then exited to the inevitable gift shop.







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Old 01-24-2013, 04:40 AM   #144
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I still had some time until it was my turn to see the Princesses. One of the things that I really wanted to try this trip was the new The Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game. So I headed over to the Fire Station, which is one of the recruitment centres. There was a bit of a line, but it moved quite quickly. When it was my turn, the cast member asked me if I had played before. When I told him that this was my first time, I was equipped with a key card, a map and a pack of spell cards. He then took me to one of the training portals that they have set up and explained how the game works. I then got to practise and at the end of the practice sequence, the training portal told me where I needed to go next by displaying a symbol that corresponded to one of the symbols on my map. The symbol was in Frontierland.

Before, I could go there, I had some other things to take care of. My Fast Pass window to see the Princesses would open about 25 minutes later. I decided that I would go to see them in style. Somebody had posted a photo of a tiara on Facebook a while ago that I really liked. It was a very simple tiara, but it had a dangling Mickey head hanging from the top. She had mentioned that she had got this from Arribas Brothers at the Magic Kingdom. I decided to check this out. The tiara is part of their birthstone collection and the Mickey head is actually a clip on charm. They had a beautiful lilac version, which was supposed to simulate Tanzanite, which is one of the birthstones for December. I loved the colour and it goes perfectly with my lilac gown. As it was also very inexpensive, I decided to get this. I put it on as I thought it was very fitting to wear a tiara when seeing the princesses. That I had plans to have my lunch at a castle made this all the more tempting.

I headed up towards the hub and had some photos taken on Main Street with the castle in the background. I had some more photos taken closer to the castle, but there was a show going on at the castle stage so there were a lot of people in the background . I checked out the wait times board near the hub and smiled at the crazy waiting times. I also noticed that Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid was down. Now there was a surprise. I had seen on the times guide that Stitch was out in Tomorrowland at that time. He took a little bit of finding as he was tugged away by the restrooms near Space Mountain. There was just him and his escort so I got to spend some quality time with him. His escort took some photos with my camera. On the way back, I had some photos taken near the rose garden with the castle in the background.























By that time my Fast Pass window had opened. It took a bit longer to see the Princesses than this had been the case with Mickey. Part of the reason for this was that there was just one line for three Princesses. Eventually it was my turn. The first Princess was Cinderella, but for some reason those photos did not make it on the Photopass. I have plenty of photos with Cinderella so I was not too bothered about this. I also finally got to meet Aurora and Rapunzel. All three Princesses commented on my tiara.





















I decided that it was time to defeat some villains. However, I decided that I needed a snack before facing my first villain. At that point, it was peak lunch hour and as I was hoping to have lunch in a rather special place that day, I wanted to wait until the lunch rush was over. So I decided to get a sundae at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlour. One of my snack credits got me an All-American Sundae, which consisted of old-fashioned Vanilla and Chocolate Ice Cream with Hot Fudge, Peanut Butter Drizzle, Whipped Cream and a Cherry. This was gorgeous and definitely filled a hole. When I had finished my Ice Cream, I headed towards Liberty Square to cross over to Frontierland. Near bridge leading away from the hub, I saw a rather bored looking Photopass photographer. I have learned very quickly that bored looking Photopass photographer usually equals magic shots, especially if there is no obvious reason for a photographer to be in this area.I asked her if she could take some photos and handed her my Photopass card. She was only too happy to oblige and asked me to hold my right hand out, look at it and smile. She then asked me to hold the pose, but blow a kiss towards the hand. I was absolutely sure that Tinkerbell would magically appear and was both surprised and amused when I edited my Photopass photos and instead of Tinkerbell, a frog was sitting in my hand.





I then went across to Frontierland to find my first portal. The portals in this area actually stretch from Frontierland to Liberty Square. Finding the portal was easier said that done. The map that they provide is worse than useless, especially in this area. Some of the portals are quite close together and some of them were pretty hidden. I was pretty sure that I had found where I needed to be and was waiting for my turn as there were some other people using the portal. I held my key against the keyhole only to be told that I was in the wrong place. Eventually I did find where I needed to be. The good that had come out of this was that I was chatting with a family that it was in line behind me and when they heard that this was my first time playing, they spread some Pixie Dust and gave me some cards that they had multiples of. So I started my first mission with 9 cards instead of 5. After another detour, I eventually did find the right portal. The first portal that you activate provides a cut-scene that introduces you to the background story and the villain that you had to defeat. There are two possible villains to defeat in this area: Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog and Governor Ratcliffe from Pocahontas. I ended up having to battle Dr. Facilier. At the end of the cut-scene, another symbol tells you which portal to go to next. At each further portal, a bit more of the story is told and then you have to use one or more of your spell cards to defeat some of the villain's minions or to free somebody. It is fun to watch what the different spell cards do. The whole thing is very clever. I had just successfully completed the task near the Rivers of America and was sent to my final portal. I go there, touched my key against the portal and nothing happened. I went to another portal and it was the same there. There is a recruitment station near the Hall of Presidents and I decided to check there what was going on and was advised that all portals in the park had gone down. Apparently this was the first time this happened since this was launched in February. I checked if I could pick up again where I left off another day and was reassured that this would be no problem.

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Old 01-24-2013, 04:53 AM   #145
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If I am honest, I was quite hungry by then anyway. So I decided to slowly make my way over to New Fantasyland. When I had last been at Walt Disney World, the whole of Fantasyland was one huge building site. There are still some building fences and cranes around now, but the transformation was amazing. I had been quite cynical about the whole Fantasyland extension, but this has been incredibly well done. I took a couple of photos as I approached. Near the entrance, a number of cast members advised guests that Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid was down, that Enchanted Tales with Belle had a long wait and that there was currently a 30 minute wait for Be Our Guest. Be Our Guest was precisely where I was headed and I figured 30 minutes was not too bad. I got in the line and took some more photos of the area around me. It was just under 15 minutes when the gate opened and I was allowed in the castle itself. There was another short wait until I was allowed in the Beast's Study, but the themeing in that area is absolutely gorgeous so I was distracted and took some more photos. The Beast's Study is where you go to order your lunch. During lunch, Be Our Guest is a counter service restaurant. The one thing that I am not to keen on is the fact that you order your food at a self service kiosk. As I entered the Beast's Study, I was handed an enchanted rose. I then was directed to one of the self service kiosks to select my food. The actual ordering process was simple enough and I had soon chosen my food. I then had to touch the enchanted rose against a reader and it did not recognize this on the first attempt. The real challenge came when I had to swipe my Key to the World card for it to deduct one of my counter service credits. It just would not accept it for love nor money. Unfortunately there was nobody around at first to help. Eventually somebody realised that I had a problem and came over to help. After she tried a few times, he card was finally accepted and I was directed in the direction of the dining rooms. Near the entrance to the ballroom I was intercepted and asked how many people were in my party. She was not too pleased when she realised that I was by myself. She soon lightened up though when I asked about the Rose Gallery. She pointed me in the right direction and told me to take a seat wherever I wanted. The ballroom had been pretty full, but there was just one family in the Rose Gallery. I took a few photos of the room and then got my Orange Soda from the dispenser at the opposite side of the room. A few minutes later, my food arrived. I had Braised Pork (Coq Au Vin style), which consisted of eight-hour slow-cooked Pork with Mushrooms, Onions, Carrots and Bacon served with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans Jardiniere. This was amazingly good for a counter service meal. It was so tender and full of flavour. For my dessert I had Chocolate Cream Puff filled with Chocolate Mousse topped with Whipped Cream. When I finished my lunch, I had a look around the Ballroom and the West Wing and took some photos. The whole themeing of the place is amazing, but I did like the Rose Gallery best.













































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Old 01-24-2013, 05:00 AM   #147
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I decided to have a closer look at Belle's Village and this has been very well done. I did not have a look inside Gaston's Tavern or the gift shop and really wish I had done, but the buildings around the village looked all very impressive. I particularly like the Gaston Fountain. Gaston himself unfortunately was not around. I then headed further along toward Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid. The ride building looks completely different than at Disney California Adventure and is absolutely gorgeous, but the right was yet again down. I would have loved to see how it compares to the version in California, but this was not to be this trip. I would have loved to see Ariel in Ariel's Grotto as I have only ever had a chance to get a photo with her in her human form, but the wait time was 60 minutes and I did not want a photo with her that badly.



















Instead I headed over to Storybook Circus. I have to admit that I am not sure what to make of this area. I may have liked it better if I had gone there first, but after all the amazing detail and themeing at the Enchanted Forest, this seemed like it had been thrown together rather carelessly. I did like the Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak , which was very cleverly put together, but for some reason I had not taken a photo of this. The rest did not wow me. I did head towards Pete's Sideshow to check out how bad the waiting times for the character Meet and Greets were and the wait time for Donald and Goofy was 20 minutes, which was not too bad. Minnie and Daisy had wait times of 45 minutes so I figured they could wait for another day. I loved the costumes of the characters in there. The lighting in this area is atrocious though. When I edited my Photopass photos, they looked OK, but on the CD they all have a red tint. I got to see Goofy first and then Donald. Both of them spotted my birthday badge and got rather excited about it. When I exited the Meet and Greet area, I had a look at the gift shop that is attached to it. The space seems to be much too big for what is actually in there.





























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Old 01-24-2013, 05:08 AM   #148
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By that point, I had seen and done everything at the Magic Kingdom that I was going to that day. My plan was to head over to Hollywood Studios to see The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights and Fantasmic. It was still broad daylight and the lights did not start until dusk. I checked the My Disney Experience app for the wait times for Toy Story Mania and this was insane. As there was nothing else over there that I wanted to see, I decided to take the scenic route to Hollywood Studios. I had to take the monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center anyway so I decided that rather than getting the bus to Hollywood Studios, I would get the monorail over to Epcot, walk through Epcot and then get the boat to Hollywood Studios. This worked out great. When we arrived at the Transportation and Ticket Center, the Epcot monorail just pulled in on the adjacent platform. So all I had to do is get off one monorail and get on the next. When I arrived at the front of Epcot, I admired the Christmas topiaries there and had some photos taken with them. I got very excited when I spotted a Stitch topiary. There was a Photopass photographer nearby and she had nothing to do. I asked her if she could take a photo of me with the Stitch topiary in the background and she was happy to oblige. She also did a couple of magic shots with Stitch sitting next to me eating an ice cream.























With the photos out of the way, I headed towards International Gateway to get the boat to Hollywood Studios. I had to wait about 5 minutes for a boat and it did take a fair while to get there as we stopped at each of the hotels in the area, but I enjoyed the ride. I had no clear idea where the boat dock was at Hollywood Studios, but it did not take long to get to the entrance. I picked up a map and made my way towards Fantasmic. I was a little worried that I would not get in as I was much later that the time they suggested you get there, but I had no problem. I ended up sitting in the Beast section, but I had a great view. There were some games and karaoke going on as warm up when I got there and about 25 minutes later, the show started. I did really enjoy it even though I still like the version at Disneyland better.



























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Old 01-24-2013, 05:19 AM   #149
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Getting out of the theater after the show proved to be a bit of a challenge. I really hate to think what would happen if they had to evacuate this in an emergency. It was stop and start all the way to the Sorcerer's Hat. I managed to turn off by the entrance of the Animation Courtyard and approached the Streets of America that way. What I saw when I got there took my breath away. The lights had just finished dancing and all the lights came back on the buildings and on the decorations came back on. The effect was stunning. I slowly walked down the Streets of America taking photos on the way. I got about halfway when the lights started dancing again. I did like this, but I have to admit that I prefer the lights static. Once all the lights had come on again, I walked the rest of the way taking photos as I went. When I got to the end. I turned around and just enjoyed the whole composition.









































When the lights started dancing again, I headed towards the exit. I took a quick photo of the Christmas tree in front of Hollywood Studios and then headed down to the boat dock. The boat that was at the dock when I got there did not have enough space for everybody waiting. So I had to wait for the next one. Fortunately this was not far behind. As we approached the boat dock for the Swan and Dolphin, the Captain made an announcement that anybody wanting to get to the Boardwalk, who was in a hurry, should get off at the Swan and Dolphin and walk over as this would be quicker. I decided to take this option. By the time the boat left the Swan and Dolphin boat dock, I was already at the Atlantic Dance Hall.



After this quick footwork, I actually arrived at the restaurant before Graham did who arrived shortly after me. We both got there ahead of our reservation though. Dinner that night was at the Big River Grille and Brewing Works. We had to wait a few minutes to be seated and went outside with our pager to watch the world go by. I was not too impressed with the ambience of this place. It felt quite crowded and a bit sterile. The food was nice enough though. Graham had Atlantic Salmon, which was a Salmon Filet, flame-grilled, with Dill Butter and served with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Vegetables, which he washed down with a glass of their seasonal winter beer, Sweet Magnolia Brown Ale. I had to try their Beer Cheese Soup, which was tasty, but not in the same league as the Cheddar Cheese Soup at Le Cellier. My main course was amazing though. I had the Flame-Grilled Meatloaf made with Ground Beef and Italian Pork Sausage, topped with a rich, brown Gravy and served over Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Vegetables. I stuck to Coke. For dessert, we both ordered the New York Cheesecake, a traditional NY style Cheesecake served with Raspberry Sauce. I asked for mine to go as I was way too stuffed and this ended up being Graham's breakfast the next day. Sometimes it really is handy to have a fridge in the room.

Once we were finished, we headed straight back to our room. I was glad that we were so close as after all the walking that I had done that day, my feet were hurting. When we got back to the room, I quickly checked my emails before setting a wake up call and getting ready for bed.
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Old 01-24-2013, 07:08 AM   #150
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What a fun day. What did Graham do all day then? I love how you separate and do your own thing and still have a great time.

I love the Osborne lights. they are breathtaking.
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