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Old 01-21-2013, 11:34 AM   #16
Marsheliz
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The AKL is beautiful.. never stayed there but visited..

How did you guys like the buses there? We had to take a bus there from AK one day to make it to DD and I swear we waited about 30 minutes!

Your food looks wonderful and we always go to Epcot the first night too! We enjoy Epcot but with 2 small kids- they dont like it as much as the others so we always just do it first
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:11 PM   #17
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Awesome report so far! I'm joining in to read more.
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Old 01-21-2013, 03:52 PM   #18
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Enjoying your trip report! The snow on departure morning looks like something that would happen to me (I live in the Midwest, too). So glad it didn't delay your trip for more than an hour or two.
That lady on the plane really needed to take a pill and chill. Wow. Glad she wasn't on your ME bus!
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:54 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by msbiscuit View Post
That lady on the plane really needed to take a pill and chill. Wow. Glad she wasn't on your ME bus!

Hah! I was thinking the same thing! She probably would have shouted out to scold the driver. Just think what she must have thought about Stacey!
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Old 01-21-2013, 08:25 PM   #20
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Hah! I was thinking the same thing! She probably would have shouted out to scold the driver. Just think what she must have thought about Stacey!
She should've just put earmuffs on 'Junior' to keep him from hearing anything that would 'ruin' his first trip.
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Old 01-21-2013, 11:55 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by disneykiwi View Post
Hi there

I have joined in your trip report and loving it so far - the lodge looks wonderful!!

Looking forward to the rest.

Cheers
I'm thrilled you're here! The lodge was BEAUTIFUL - I'm so glad we had a chance to stay there!


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Originally Posted by Stringbean&Wingnut View Post
Joining in!!!

Oh boy, you are so lucky that you stayed near the airport the night before your flight! When I saw your picture of the plane, I never thought you were making it out that day!

(Side note: hugs for being open-heart surgery buddies! (Mitral valve repair here!) )

Your room at AKL looks awesome! We love visiting there, and I actually sometimes forget that you can actually stay there! And your lunch at the Mara looks really good too!

Oh, Epcot on the first day is pretty much a must-do for us too!
I know, isn't that airplane crazy?! I was glad we had a direct flight!

We loved staying at the lodge! I was rather impressed by the Mara - quite a step up from your average counter service spot!

Ah, Epcot. I Epcot.

(It's always nice to have a heart surgery buddy. )


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Joining in! Your trip looks so fun!

I can't wait to hear about the rest of your adventures!!
We had a fantastic time! I'm glad you're joining us!
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:03 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marsheliz View Post
The AKL is beautiful.. never stayed there but visited..

How did you guys like the buses there? We had to take a bus there from AK one day to make it to DD and I swear we waited about 30 minutes!

Your food looks wonderful and we always go to Epcot the first night too! We enjoy Epcot but with 2 small kids- they dont like it as much as the others so we always just do it first
I'm glad there are fellow Epcot lovers! My sister and I have loved Epcot for years - I'm sure it will grow on your kids as they get older (and can go on the really fun rides!).

Despite all the dire warnings I heard about the AKL buses, I didn't think they were too bad. I was only irritated twice that I remember (once trying to get to AK for an early morning breakfast ADR, and another time trying to get to MK for the parade). Other than those two times, I think a bus never took more than 5-10 minutes.


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Originally Posted by dawnmichele View Post
Awesome report so far! I'm joining in to read more.
I'm glad you're here!


Quote:
Originally Posted by msbiscuit View Post
Enjoying your trip report! The snow on departure morning looks like something that would happen to me (I live in the Midwest, too). So glad it didn't delay your trip for more than an hour or two.
That lady on the plane really needed to take a pill and chill. Wow. Glad she wasn't on your ME bus!
I walked rather quickly off the plane in order to leave that lady in the dust...


Quote:
Originally Posted by dawnmichele View Post

Hah! I was thinking the same thing! She probably would have shouted out to scold the driver. Just think what she must have thought about Stacey!
Quote:
Originally Posted by msbiscuit View Post
She should've just put earmuffs on 'Junior' to keep him from hearing anything that would 'ruin' his first trip.
You guys are a hoot! I'm glad other people think she was a bit out of line.

Earmuffs! I love it!
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:13 AM   #23
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An Afternoon in Epcot
Day 1—Part IV



Ahh, Epcot… the land of numerous countries, excellent attractions, and likely the highest number of restaurants and food stands per capita in the World. How we love you.

After sprinting off the bus (okay, we may not have sprinted—but we would’ve liked to!), we scouted for the first Photopass photographer we could find. I’m very proud that our very first Photopass picture of the vacation was right here:




As for our first attraction, that was a no-brainer. Test Track it is!




Now that the ride has been re-vamped, I’m glad I took a few photos of the queue:






The single-rider line was incredibly short and we were on the ride in less than five minutes. Hooray for the single-rider line! Even better, they seated us in the same car right next to each other.

A view from the front seat:




Brrrr!




There’s nothing like your first attraction of the vacation.

Mission one accomplished, we headed to another mission:




We started riding Mission Space when the only choice was the “orange” side. We’ve never thought to switch sides, so Orange Team it is!

Hello, Astronaut Mickey!




Fueled by two high-octane attractions, we skipped past the Universe of Energy and headed to another favorite attraction in Epcot. Say “hello” to everyone’s favorite golf ball:




We had not been on the ride since the changes so we were quite excited to see experience it! It was fun to enter all the information about yourself (and also interesting to try and keep from getting a goofy looking picture on the story of your future! That’s hard, by the way!).

A few views from our journey through this, our Spaceship Earth:






Also, the beginning of our future!





How fun! We really liked the updates they made to Spaceship Earth!


(continued in next post)
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:20 AM   #24
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(continued from previous post)

Three big rides out of the way, it was time to go to the other side of Future World:




Alas (and not surprisingly), all of the Soarin’ fastpasses were gone for the day. No matter—there is another excellent attraction in the Land Pavillion:




(Does anyone else miss the song they used to sing on this ride? It’s still fun and all, but it was much more catchy with the song!)

I was still figuring out the ideal camera setting for all these “moving attractions” but I did get a few pictures! Here are a few plants:




And a few more plants (plus a nine pound lemon!):




And finally, some additional plants (in the form of herbs):




One of these days I really need to take the Behind the Seeds tour. Walking around “inside” the attraction would be pretty fun!

We had a little more time before we needed to head into World Showcase, so we walked right next door:




I LOVE these seagulls! (Doesn’t everyone?)




Just a few photos from Nemo—if those darn fish wouldn't have listened to Dory and stopped swimming I would have a lot more (less blurry) pictures!




After our tour of the seas, we had a great time wandering around the remaining tanks.

Some beautiful coral:




Hello, (not so hidden) Mickey!




We only had one more item on our agenda before dinner—we had to find a use for these fastpasses we’d grabbed on our way in:




Back to Test Track!

After a wonderful ride in the dark (I think I like that ride even better when you’re zooming around the track at night!), we took a few nightscape shots:






Unable to spare any more time in Future World, it was time to head into World Showcase for a dinner half-way around the world (almost literally!). It was time to travel to Italy and visit the new(er) restaurant, Via Napoli.

We were just a teensy bit excited. Forget about the food… what would our Italian waiter look like?


Up Next: Dinner at Via Napoli
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:25 AM   #25
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following along.... 60 days til our first stay at AKL.
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:21 AM   #26
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Sounds like you still got a lot done at Epcot, despite the Soarin FP's being gone!!!
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:06 PM   #27
SimplyGoofy
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following along.... 60 days til our first stay at AKL.
You'll LOVE the Animal Kingdom Lodge! I hope you built in some time to hang out at the resort, as there's tons of activities and lots to explore. The pool is pretty awesome, too!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Stringbean&Wingnut View Post
Sounds like you still got a lot done at Epcot, despite the Soarin FP's being gone!!!
Looking back, I can't believe we did all of that in just three hours! Not too bad, even for the off-season!
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:27 PM   #28
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Chock Full of Cute Italian Waiters
Day 1—Part V



It was time for our first ADR of the trip! I booked a late evening reservation at Via Napoli after reading so many good things about it. It seemed like a great way to kick-off our reservation lineup!

Upon arriving in Italy and locating Via Napoli, here is what we found:




Yikes! Where did all these people come from?!

I stood in this line for a minute or so before thinking, “Wait, this doesn’t make any sense! There’s no way that ALL of these people have a reservation!” So we left the huge long line and walked forward to find this very empty check-in desk for the restaurant:




Yes! That gigantic line was wrangling for walk-up tables (chances: slim-to-none). The lesson to be learned here is if you have a reservation, it’s pretty darn likely you do not have to wait in the big, long line. Good to know!

We enjoyed a few details such as this very colorful light fixture:




Only a few minutes later, we were in! I really liked the interior of the restaurant:




Don’t forget about the three wood-burning ovens—Stromboli, Vesuvio, and Etna!




Much to our delight, we indeed had a cute, male waiter named Michele. Via Napoli, in fact, was CRAWLING with male waitstaff. Yes, there were a few waitresses, but the majority were male. Has anyone else noticed that Italy and France have a lot more male waitstaff while Norway has the opposite? Interesting marketing technique, you sneaky Disney World...

Our drink orders weren’t exciting enough for a photograph, as I ordered iced tea and Anika ordered water. (Anika ordered a lot of water as it’s one of the very few things she drinks. The others include milk, fancy coffee beverages, and Tropicana Orange Juice with no pulp. Period. No tea, no lemonade, no soda. What kind of teenager is she?!)

It’s time to get down to the actual food ordering, complete with pictures!

We started with the Calamari Fritti and the Mozzarella Caprese:




The calamari was excellent! Anika tried her very first piece of calamari, and although she enjoyed it, she thought one piece was enough. It would be a great appetizer to share as there is a TON of calamari on that plate! The salad, meanwhile, was just okay. I thought the tomatoes were good but I’ve had much better mozzarella.

As we were in a pizza restaurant, of course we ordered pizza!

I ordered the Quattro Formaggi (mozzarella, parmesean, fontina, and provolone cheeses):




Anika ordered the Pepperoni (no explanation needed for that one!):




Although both pizzas were good and the crust was great, Anika’s pizza was far superior to mine. If you’re a fan of cheese-only pizzas, you’d love the four cheese. I prefer toppings on my pizza (yet I ordered it anyway? Maybe I was going for variety on the table…). The zest on the pepperoni pie was great, and even Anika couldn’t keep herself from eating three big slices. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her eat so much pizza in one sitting! Next time, pepperoni all around!

Although we were stuffed, dessert is never an “option”! Bring on the dessert menus!

Here is mine, the Gelato Frizzante (an Italian-style ice cream soda with San Pellegrino’s Aranciata and vanilla gelato):




This was heaven in a glass, I tell you. I didn’t think I could hold any more food, but I couldn’t. stop. eating. I finished the whole darn thing, it was so good.

Anika made a more traditional choice, and ordered the chocolate gelato (complete with brittle cookie):




She was pretty excited about her gelato:




At some point during our dessert one of the sous chefs from the restaurant came and sat down at the table next to us. Anika was struggling with her dessert (due to stomach capacity, not tastiness!) and the chef began giving her a bit of a hard time. Well, she didn’t want to disappoint him, so we continued eating with gusto. I believe she felt a little ill afterward.

Our adorable Michele delivered our bill so we paid and went on our way. I did not get a picture of the waiter (although I should have!), but I figured I didn’t need to totally embarrass Anika on the first night of our vacation. I was embarrassing enough by photographing every dish before I let her eat it!


Via Napoli—Final Verdict
The calamari and the pepperoni pizza were excellent, the atmostphere is great, and the desserts were phenomenal! We would absolutely return to Via Napoli! The only change we would make next time is pay without dining credits so we could order a lot less food. Those pizzas are a lot bigger than they look!


We rolled ourselves out of Epcot (a theme on this trip!) and headed for our AKL bus. It had been a very long day and we had a full day planned for tomorrow.


Up Next: Breakfast at Grand Floridian Café
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Old 01-23-2013, 01:10 AM   #29
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Okay, it's like 9 degrees here, but that Italian ice cream soda looks soooo good right now.
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Old 01-23-2013, 05:59 AM   #30
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Your meal at VN looks really good!! We've never tried there (we usually don't like making ADR's at types of restaurants that are pretty much EVERYWHERE at home - Italian is basically #1 on that list!) but I have heard excellent reviews!

Too funny about the chef wanting Anika to finish her dessert!
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