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Old 10-27-2013, 03:49 PM   #1
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A SPINETINGLING Tale of a SPOOKTACULAR Disney Visit 10/20-26/2013

I cant believe it finally, actually happened! I have been a WDW fan forever, but it was only in the last few months I discovered that people get as excited as I do about these trips and actually write about them (AKA trip reports). I started with D1sneyTouristBl0g, then NerdsinWonderland, FoodFitnessFantasy, and eventually discovered DIS Boards. It was like discovering this new country, with its own language! Who knew I was a Frump (shout out to Disneyfreak508)?

I never thought I would journal a vacation and that any one person (besides like my mom) would find it interesting. However, when reading other peoples reports, I am hanging on their every word. You ordered what for breakfast at the airport...let me see a picture of that McMuffin! So, I thought I could give back and write my own! Feel free to skip through the next block of text to get to the actual report, or enjoy the backstory.

A little about your author. I am Elena. I am a early-thirties married lady with no kids. Why do I like Disney so much? I dunno. I just do. Does my heart skip a beat thinking about a trip to Europe, eh, not so much. Talk to me about grabbing an ADR someday for Be Our Guest, and now you have my attention. I remember my first Disney trip was around 5 and we went during the 15th Anniversary Year (1986). My mom won a free ticket during their give-a-way that year (she actually had to remind me about that as I remember winning a free button, which was obviously cooler to me at the time). Besides the free button, there are really only two other things I remember from that trip. We were staying in a tent on the campground, and my dad got attacked by biting flies and his hand swelled up so much he had to get his wedding ring cut off (and in my 5 year old mind I thought it meant my parents were not married then). The other thing I remember was getting on the monorail and eating breakfast at this tropical paradise and having banana french toast (apparently Tonga Toast). It was my first love. I saw all these other kids in the hotel, and I asked my mom why we were staying in a tent with biting flies while these other kids got to stay in a hotel with banana french toast. She tells me to be quiet and enjoy my french toast.

Fast forward almost 30 years, and I still love WDW, a dozen or so or more trips later. I married a wonderful, kind, sweet man, who I always knew was 99.999999% right for me and would be 0.0000001% better if he were a rabid disney fan like myself. Mentioning a Disney vacation to him, and I would get grumbles of corporate greed and poor worker conditions. Um, what about, you know...the happiest place on Earth...duh! Well, Christmas 2012, his parents had rented a house near Sarasota for the holiday. We could fly into Tampa (which admittedly was closer) OR ORLANDO to get there. Which do you think I leaned towards...the plane tickets were cheaper to Orlando, so I had some logic there. Lo and behold I convinced him to spend one day at Magic Kingdom and stay at the Contemporary Resort. And I mean, if we were traveling all...the...way...there (just 2 hour flight from Virginia), we should stay in a tower room, theme-park-view...over peak season. Being a kind generous man, he agreed (to be fair, I am super frugal in everything, everything but vacation resort choices apparently...I blame the biting flies circa 1986).

He had an ok time, but the 0.0000001% was not budging much. Then shortly after this trip, I found out my parents, and sister, bro-in law and my twin niece and nephew were going to WDW to celebrate the twins 5th birthday. Well, it would just be rude not to join them! Again, kind, patient, husband agrees to go, and lets me stay at my dream resort...Poly! Finally, we went, had an amazing time, and sweet husband says he actually really liked the experience and could see why people get excited to go to Disney! Close to 100% perfection here people!

And now...finally to this trip. After the surprise Christmas trip, and surprise May birthday trip, my professional society just happens to be holding the yearly, National Conference in October..in Orlando! In all of my WDW trips, I had never been during Halloween time (which is my favorite Holiday!). Soon after the May trip, I discovered the bloggers and DIS Boards, so I knew this trip would be epic. I booked our rooms in June 2013, but then through the magic of DISboards, learned about the potential fall savings. I was one of those people on hold with Disney August 1st for an hour and half, waiting to rebook for the savings and saved close to $1000 with the room-only discount. I was on a Disney-savings high! It will be a split-stay (3-nights and 3-nights). ADRs booked. Tickets purchased. Fastpass+ reserved.

OCTOBER 20th (Sunday) - OCTOBER 26th (Saturday).

Cast of Characters:

Elena (me in my Polynesian Lei)

  • Fav park: Magic Kingdom (I know...how original)
  • Fav resort: Poly!
  • Fav ride: Haunted Mansion
  • Fav place to eat: Liberty Tree Tavern

Will (husband)
  • Fav Park: Magic Kingdom
  • Fav Resort: Wilderness Lodge
  • Fav Ride: Rock n Roller coaster
  • Fav place to eat: Yak and Yeti

Last edited by ElenaJane; 05-26-2014 at 09:51 AM.
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Old 10-27-2013, 03:56 PM   #2
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October 19th: The Night Before....

Fun fact about myself, I like to plan. Maybe that is why I like WDW so much. I like to plan, and planners on a WDW vacation are rewarded with the best restaurant choices and the shortest ride lines. Knowing back in June that this October trip was going to happen, I had 5 months to prepare. Also, as I just went in May, I has plenty of recent practice as I had planned the entire families trip. I even created laminated schedules.

The trip went great and we had no more than a 10 minute wait anywhere. Would I try so hard again in crafting a plan for this October trip? Does Donald Duck need some anger management? However, this trip was less about hitting every park and every ride and more about the general experience and some (gasp!) rest and relaxation. I would be spending big chunks of time at a conference, so running around between these times, just did not appeal to me, and sweet Will would be content with Wi-Fi and an iced coffee anywhere for the 6 days.

Plans made. Bags packed. Cats don’t approve.

As our flight was super early, we went to bed at 7pm (thanks Benadryl!). Like a kid on December 24th, at 7pm, I would've been hard pressed to try and go to bed so early. After so much planning and dreaming, I actually fell into a quick sleep. The day was finally about to happen.
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Old 10-27-2013, 04:57 PM   #3
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October 20th: Part 1: Would Donald eat without us?!

Quack! Quack! Goes the Iphone alarm. I get out of bed, 3am-schme-am, bring it. I set our goal time to be out of the house by 03:45 and we did pretty good.

We could fly out of our local airport, but we both hate having to change planes and go through the whole re-boarding process and JetBlue flies direct to Orlando (and they have unlimited snacks). I am fairly food motivated, so JetBlue had me at free snacks.

We make it to long term parking and hop on our first “magical express” to the airport.

Nerd Alert! Part of my pre-planning was calculating exactly how much tip money would be needed for airport shuttles, DME drivers, bellhops, mousekeeping, ect, and I labeled several envelopes. These envelopes were just for the Mousekeepers! They are nowhere near as amazing as some I saw online.

Airport shuttle driver properly tipped from properly labeled envelope, we made it to the airport with time to check our bag. We sprung for the “Even more room and Speed” Seats through JetBlue, which meant we got through expedited security (though at like 6am, it was not the best bang for our buck...we really got it more for the return trip through MCO security). We made it to our seats and took off on time.

Wearing my Poly themed shirt from Etsy!

As soon as we made contact with MCO tarmac, I was in high-alert planner mode.

See, I made a bit of a gamble with our first ADR. I knew we SHOULD be landing at 08:50 and I SHOULD be able to get to DME at 09:15, which meant we SHOULD be able to get to our resort by 10:15 which means we SHOULD be able to drop off our bags, and hop into a cab for DAK and SHOULD be able to make it to Tusker House for breakfast (Donald’s Safari Breakfast) by 10:50 (our first ADR). I tried to take as many precautions to make this go smoothly. Such as pre-pack in a way where we would have everything we needed for the park and could easily hand off our luggage once we reached our resort. I also picked our seats on the plane closest to the front (I soooo should be on the Amazing Race, just saying). I also did online check-in ahead of time for our resort for the first time. I usually like the actual experience of checking in the resort the old fashioned way….the relaxed small talk...the ambiance of the lobby….and so on, so I had never tried online check-in. This time it was more of a smash and grab job.

So with this in mind, you can understand my high-alert mode upon touch down. We checked our bag already with DME (first time checking a bag with DME and no drama, went smoothly) and just had our carry-ons, which we grabbed and bolted, well shuffled, off the plane, to get to the faux-no-rail!

I kept saying to myself, Main Terminal building, on the B side, level 1….Main Terminal building, on the B side, level 1. It can get tricky up in there. No elbows needed to be thrown, and we made it to the DME fine.

This was the first time to use the magicband! Instead of the barcode paper we just scanned our bands. I thought it was odd though that we had to scan it in like 3 different locations and sometimes it would work and sometimes it did not. I think having my barcode scanned on a piece of paper would of been easier actually. This was the first time we heard the phrase “Mickey to Mickey!!!!”. Apparently you need to line up the Mickey on your band to the Mickey icon on the scanner, and this instruction was given many more times throughout our stay.

We lined up and realized we were first. Bummer. I was hoping to sneak on a mainly packed bus and take off. We probably waited 15 minutes until we were allowed on the bus, and we grabbed the front row.

Poly ears from Etsy!

I wanted the front row on the bus, one, so we could check in first and two, to get this….

This DME leg was going to be a big part of my success for our first ADR. Before the trip, I considered taking a taxi to the resort to avoid possible DME delay, but then saw it would be like $70 ONE WAY. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I happily accepted my DME vouchers. Renting a car would have been an option too, but Will and I will forever be traumatized by our December 2012 experience when we rented a car. Not with actually renting the car, which went pretty smoothly. We hopped in our car and followed the easy signs to WDW. We didn’t know there would be toll roads, but no worries, we had change and happily paid at the first toll booth...and then the second...and then we exited the highway to the WDW exit and there was this sudden 3rd toll booth that had no person manning it. Your choice was 1)EXACT CHANGE or 2)Sunpass. We had neither at that point. Dollar bills, yes. This was not an option. We just sat there panicked for a bit and then just had to drive through, alarms blaring, I think there might of been a flashing red light. We took an envelope and had to mail a check, to the toll people, for like 75 cents to try to avoid a ticket (which I did do and never got a ticket..so all ends well I guess). On the way back to the airport that trip, we brought enough quarters with us to support a small nation, to avoid anything like that again.

That’s my long-winded cautionary tale: If you rent a car from the airport and are driving to WDW, bring lots of quarters!!!!!

Back to the quest for our first ADR!

We totally lucked out that we stopped at Poly first! My theory is they stop first to the place with the most guests checking in. As in May, we were dropped off 3rd and it was just us checking in. Anyway, just a theory and I was so happy to be first.

We strategized a plan before hand, that Will would get the luggage and I would go to check in. I walked past the waterfalls and breathed in that amazing Poly scent. Unfortunately my joy was short lived as I saw this zoo before me. In May, 4 Longhouses were closed for renovations, and it was so calm and quiet. This time there were lei-clad people EVERYWHERE. By some pixie dust miracle, the online check-in line was not long though. Our room was not ready yet, but we got our packet and Will checked our bags with Bellhops. We asked for a cab and got this giant shuttle van to ourselves. We were off to Animal Kingdom!!!

Like the show 24. Our clock was at 10:40:00 when we walked through the DAK gates.

I have only been to DAK once before, and that was for a half day. I do love animals, so it is not a prejudice against them. I am not sure why this has not been a must do on previous trips. My mom haatttteeesss Animal Kingdom, so if she is with us, it is a no-go. You’d have to ask her why she dislikes it so (because I really don’t know. I mean like, hattteeesss it).

It was in the 90s today! I was wearing my long sleeved Aloha shirt and jeans and a rain coat, with a backpack, speed walking through the park, because of course Tusker House is on the other side of the world Park. Sweating, we made it! And there was a line to even check in! We could have probably taken our time in. However, I took the opportunity to change into tshirt and shorts and freshen up for Goofy!

I am not really big on character meals. Up until this trip, I had never been to one before. I just knew we would be hungry when we landed. I originally thought we would just be hanging around Poly our first day. However, I scored these great 3-park (plus “fun”-water park or DisneyQuest) tickets as part of the conference (they were not free, but discounted). I knew I got to add a park (I had originally just planned on 2 parks for the week). So now, I needed to squeeze in a park day AND we would be hungry...what to do, what to do. The Animal Kingdom decision seemed pretty easy. We would not be there for rope drop, and as there is less to do at AK (IMHO) it would be fine. I knew we could do Fastpass+ reservations as well. The where to eat part was driven out of pure hunger.

I wanted a buffet. I did not care if there were characters or not. I wanted unlimited food and I wanted to experience a freakin’ Mickey-shaped waffle. I’ve heard so much about those darn waffles, I needed to experience it for myself. Therefore, Donald’s Safari Tusker House Breakfast Buffet it was for our first ADR.

Knowing this was going to be a week of eating, and being a planner, I knew I was going to need to go on a diet….ahem, a “Disney Dining Plan” (I thought DDP had a better ring to it than “diet”) a few months in advance. Several months of using My Fitness Pal App. I usually worked out, but now there was no more excuses. I ran several miles a week and took at least 2 strength training classes a week as well (Pure Barre, check it out). I got to my goal weight a few weeks before the trip. Then I purposely lost another 5 pounds, so I could gain 5 pounds and go back to my goal weight after the trip. This is the long version of, by the time I got to eat at a buffet, I was like out of my mind excited. Mickey should be glad I didn’t mistake his head for a waffle as I passed him by on the way to Tusker house.

Not the most flattering pictures, but Goofy and Mickey look fine. They did not just race across a hot park in jeans and long sleeves though.

Glorious, glorious food.

We got so lucky with where we were sat. The restaurant is huge and mainly one large, very loud room, and we were placed in this little side area, partitioned off by a wall (with 2 open windows to see out in the large room) that only had FOUR tables. I felt like we got some honeymoon special treatment!

Ok, at the risk of disappointing people, Will and I are vegetarians. I did not want to turn off potential readers earlier on, who were expecting to see gratuitous Steak shots from Kona. I will say WDW does an amazing job of feeding vegetarians. Not once on this trip did I think I was in any way, underfed. No, there was no bacon consumed this morning, and as far as I know, no animals were harmed in the making of a Mickey waffle. Tip: As our reservations were for close to 11am, we got to eat the breakfast spread and then the lunch options as well!

Well fed, we stepped out into the October sunshine. DAK crowd level was a predicted 4.6, a little bit much for my taste. Since we had made it on time to our ADR, did this mean I was done with a crazy schedule of “to-do’s”? Uh, noooo. ADR #1 checked off, I was going to attempt a miracle. I tried to do research on DIS and other places to see if I could pull off this next feat. I got conflicting reports. But could I….

Pull Paper Fastpasses (“Legacy Fastpasses”) along with using my Magic Band for Fastpass+?

As we had our first Fastpass+ reserv. at 11:10 for Dinosaur, I took us the long way from Tusker House to Dinosaur, to pass Expedition Everest. Went to the paper Fastpass machine, inserted ticket and voila, paper fastpass!!!! Double fastpasses!! Something I will never experience again in my life!

We then walked briskly to Dinosaur. I have never been on this ride. I was more excited about this than most other rides for the whole trip. Just because it was a first time on a new Disney ride. “New” to me! Did it go fast? Would I be scared!?

We made it right on time and waved our MagicBands at the Fastpass+ thingy, and it turned green. I did not take pictures of the ride itself, which I did not do much on this trip. I apologize. I only have an iPhone camera to work with, and they just don’t take the greatest ride pics. I am no Tom Bricker! Google his name and the ride you would like to see now and pretend it is from this trip report. See what nice pics “I” took? You’re welcome.

Dinosaur was…interesting?

You can't really make out my confused face in the picture.

Maybe because we both just had a big meal, but we both thought it was really jerky. I liked the dinosaurs though! It did not have any feature though that amazed me. Still glad we did it!

Now we back-tracked to Expedition Everest as we were close to our paper Fastpass time. After EE we sat in Asia and waited for the Flights of Wonder show. I can’t say this show is a “must do” from most people’s reports. But, I knew it was going to be interesting to Will and I. And it was great! I loved the birds! It kept my attention and I would recommend it to anyone, especially when you need a quiet break. It is not a closed, air conditioned theater but is shaded.

Once the show was over, we could now use our Fastpass+ for EE. Good thing we like this ride, as we “had” to ride it so many times. Hair properly mussed up. Yeti visited again (I don’t think he remembered us). We felt pretty satisfied with DAK so far. Now we had until 3:30 for our next FP+ reservation, for Kilimanjaro Safari, as well as a 2:30 Lunch ADR. Besides Flight of Wonder, there was another “must do” for us, that is not on most thirty-year-olds lists...the petting zoo!! All aboard! We took the train to Affection Section. Will and I went to DAK many years ago, early into our dating, with my parents. He didn’t break up with me, so I knew he was a keeper. We went to Affection Section back then. I had been a vegetarian since early high school, and Will had dabbled in Vegetarianism off and on for years. At Affection Section he met this sweet Pot Bellied Pig that followed him around and just, literally, wanted affection. After that visit, Will lost his taste for pork products and now is completely vegetarian. So, it was time to visit the pigs again! This time the pigs seemed to have their own agenda and did not want as much affection as the goats!

After all that affection, we were hongryyy. I had initially planned for us to eat at Restaurantasuarus as they had a Veggie Dino-Sub on their lunch menu. I did not think we would want another table service quite yet and thought a Sub would be perfect. However, late in September, I read Tom Bricker’s review of the Veggie Sub at Restaurantasuarus and how it was like the most disgusting thing ever. Sigh. I then reviewed every counter service menu in DAK to try and find some other veggie option. No luck. I kept coming across reports about Yak and Yeti and the great Lo Mein Noodles and how it can come with tofu. I’m like, great, I’m sure Yak and Yeti is all kinds of deliciousness, but it is September, a few weeks away from the trip, during a time period where everyone and their Grandmother is getting free dining. I thought I’d check and see if there were any availabilities, just for laughs. I could not believe it, but there was a 2:30 available! Perfect time option with Fastpass+ and about 4 hours after our breakfast buffet feast. So, we were more than ready to “check in” the Yak and Yeti Hotel for lunch!

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Old 10-27-2013, 05:01 PM   #4
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October 20th: Part 2: Gift Card plan goes awry!

We then got a text that our room was ready. We had to decide what to do and decided to stay for our last FP+, the safari. I think we had a good showing of animals! The Rhino came like right up to us!

DAK really is a beautiful park with so much detail! Here is a few shots from our walk around. I thought the bats were particularly holiday appropriate.

Since there was no reason to race back to Poly in a taxi (we only took the Taxi to DAK to make our ADR, as it is not cheap and cost $25 with tip, just to go from Poly to DAK!), we got in the bus corral for Poly. I am bit of a transpo snob at WDW and try to use monorail or boat only if I can help it. But the bus is not that bad, and I think they are getting a whole new fleet soon. I never got to ride on one of the newer gray ones, but saw a lot of them. Maybe they have massaging chairs or something a step-up. Soon enough, we were safely back at our Poly cocoon of paradise.

I had requested the Samoa Longhouse, ground floor with a patio. I was given at least half of that! We were in Samoa, but second floor (which has no balcony, booo). We were actually in the room right across from where we stayed last time!

On the bucket list is Club level, theme park view (Hawaii longhouse). I just don’t feel comfortable spending that money right now. We all have our limits, and I totally support people wherever they decide to stay! I like the location of Samoa, as it is right by the volcano pool and I like to be on ground level because I (am lazy) like to be able to walk out and see the fireworks and walk back in. Plus, I knew I would be decorating this year, and 2nd floor in some longhouses do not have a balcony so I was hoping for a patio or balcony.

Decorating you ask? When we were at WDW over Christmas, I saw lots of people had lights up, and even whole, decorated trees! Not to be left in the Disney Dust, once I knew we’d be there around Halloween, I started thinking about how I would decorate. We would be limited by air travel (there goes the giant inflatable Mickey pumpkin idea…). I also again am frugal (I swear, just not on vacation!). I decided a DIY option was needed. And I give you, our Halloween patio decoration…

Pretty satisfied with the presentation (Will rigged our ironing Board up, so the Lanterns could be seen from our window), it was time to unpack and explore. First order of business would be to become one of the most annoying guests ever. You read that right. I was about to do something which I am sure makes a CM secretly despise me.

I brought in gift cards to “cash in”. Basically have each one entered back to our room account. Not a big deal if you have like one or two gift cards.

I had 34 gift cards. 34.

Why so many? Because I am an annoying planner, ok? I knew far enough in advance for this trip, I started purchasing a gift card at my weekly Kroger trip. You get double fuel points on gift cards. A couple weeks of the year you get 4x fuel points. 100 fuel points is 10 cents off a gallon. So, with the rate of gift cards purchased, we saved $14 a fill up of gas...every...time. Plus, it is like a sweet lay-a-way plan. $50 a week does not seem as painful as a final bill would at the end of the trip. I had collected enough gift cards to pay for everything except airfare. I mean everything. Room, food, souvenirs. Tip and tax included. I kept telling Will we were on an “all expenses paid!” trip to Disney. It does take a lot of the financial stress off when one has already paid for the trip. Nothing to do but enjoy! I highly recommend the “Gift Card lay-a-way Fuel Saver Plan” if you are near a Krogers!

So we went to the concierge with gift cards in hand. In May, this was no issue. Our CM just put them all on our room account that actually went to our credit card. This time, they looked at us funny when we asked them to do this and were all like “Oh no, no one should of ever of done that!’. CRAP. So, not the end of the world, but I needed to go to concierge every night and turn in gift cards to cover our expenses for that day.

Dinner would be low key as there would be an early bedtime again as we had an early, rope-drop, morning planned!

We debated on Pizza Delivery in the room, but there would be a lot left over, so we got Flatbread Pizzas from Captain Cooks with Dole Whip on the side! And of course a Lapu Lapu

Goodnight first WDW day!! You did not disappoint!

Miles walked: 10 3/4
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Old 10-27-2013, 06:59 PM   #5
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Me! Too! Until I discovered The DIS about three months ago – I thought I was the only grown woman in America who misted up during Wishes. I'm looking forward to following along during your trip report.
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Old 10-27-2013, 07:14 PM   #6
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That's so funny! In the next installment I am working on, I mention I did actually cry during Wishes. Like, past the stage of misting up. Not afraid to admit it! Ok, a little embarrassed maybe (outside the world of Disboards).
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Old 10-28-2013, 10:25 AM   #7
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October 21: Part 1 "We have how many ADRs today?"

Fortunately, I still had Disney adrenaline getting me up and at ‘em this morning. Alarm went off at 7:30, to be dressed and ready to get out of the room by 8:15 (which compared to 3:45am the morning before was sleeping in!). Today would be a MAGIC KINGDOM day! Park opened at 9:00am. We left the room, grabbed iced coffee at Kona Island.

Why is it so hard to get a decent cup of coffee in WDW? WDW’s version of iced coffee, is hot brewed coffee with ice cubes. However, watered-down-coldish-hot-coffee is better than no coffee in my book. And of course, watered-down-coldish-hot-coffee... in Disney…. is better than drinking coffee elsewhere!

What makes so-so coffee even better is drinking it while riding a Monorail! We hopped on Monorail Yellow, passed by GF on our way to MK. We made it there by 8:45am as I had planned. Bags checked, Magic Bands scanned, we waited for the Welcome show. We got there early enough to have a place to sit on one of the circular plant displays.

While waiting for the welcome show, a small little bit of magic jumped our way. The tiniest of toads hopped on Will and did not want to get off. It started on his leg and worked his way up to his head. The lady next to us, apparently terrified of toads/frogs, lept away. Notice the frightening beast below.

It then jumped off Will and into the crowd. Will, worried someone would step on him, dove on the ground with his hat, going between people’s legs to scoop him up. He rescued him and put him back into the plants!

As if on cue, the welcome show starts right after this adventure. Let the magic begin people!

We then joined the rest of the (cattle) park goers and made it to main street. Here it comes, my favorite part….

...where the Castle goes from an abstract idea, off in the far off distance, to reality!

Will and I walked towards the castle and then split up. I sent him on his way to make a slow stroll to Tomorrowland, as I booked it to Fantasyland. Rope drop is hard for me, as I can speedwalk with the best of them, and when that rope “drops” I want to run to where I am going. If I am traveling with someone less enthusiastic to speed walk, I feel like I am going to burst out of my skin. So for this rope drop, I purposely planned it that I could send Will on his way to meander, stop and literally smell the rose garden on his way to Tomorrowland. I could then speedwalk, smile ear to ear, heart racing, and get some of that pent up Disney energy out a little bit. I went right to Under the Sea FP distribution (actually located next to Philharmagic, FYI) and grabbed us paper FPs with our tickets. I then Disney-Speed-walked to Space Mountain, where my Prince Charming was waiting for me. 5 Minute stand-by, yes please!

Such a classic. Good ride to start off with on an empty stomach as I had not had breakfast yet. Then it was on to Buzz Lightyear! I am, a little, ok, a lot competitive. At some things. I am a runner, but I know I am super slow, so people pass me, and I am like, eh, good for you. Now, Buzz Lightyear I have played more than Will, so I think I have a chance to win, so therefore I am competitive! Another fun fact about myself, is I am a bit of a germaphobe. The last time I rode, I had packed Lysol wipes to wipe down our guns before playing (Will is a patient man, who let’s me wipe down his airplane seatbelt, tray table, hotel room remote control...I could go on). I also knew there was going to be a lot of buffet eating on this trip, which meant tongs held by thousands of park-goers hands. Shudder. What to do…apparently there is a solution.

So, Germ Gloves adorned, we got in and steadied our guns. Some Disney miracle occurred and I scored 333,000!!! I think in the first room there must be a massive point target, because I got most of that in the first room alone. I was so focused I forgot to take any pics!

Next we headed over to Under the Sea to use our first paper FP. I was a little worried though as we had breakfast ADR and we would be cutting it close. We got up to the line and there was no one there, as the ride was down!! At first I was really bummed as that meant my Fastpass window was ruined, right? Nope! The CM said since it was down right now the Fastpass would be honored at anytime of the day!!

Now there was already a line build-up on rides and it was only 9:50. Touring plans initially rated today at MK a 2.9. Nice! Then, da da daaaaaa, Free Dining came out. I think that must of been the issue as it went from 2.9 to 7!!!! Everywhere Will and I went to eat, everyone seemed to be on the dining plan (“does this count as a snack?” “How many counter services do I have left?”). Since I knew things were going to get even more crowded, getting out of the park now seemed like not a bad idea. The delayed Under the Sea Fastpass was best case scenario really, as we could now exit the park and go to breakfast! We were hongryyy!

We headed out of the park at 9:55am and caught the boat back to Poly, for 10:20 ADR at ‘Ohana!

Another first. Even though we stayed at Poly in May, we did not get to go to ‘Ohana. We walked up all confident last time in May, asking to eat there, and the CM gave me a sympathetic look and was like, you’re gonna need a reservation sweetie. He was right! This place books out months in advance. So I remedied that many months ago and hooked us up with ‘Ohana for breakfast. I knew again, there would be characters walking around, but it’s cool.

First, we were asked to get our picture taken with the ‘Ohana sign in the background. It was just Will and I, but the photographer must be used to kids as she was coaching us and using this lighted toy, waving above her head. We were then seated right away. I had never been in the restaurant, so I was disappointed to see that not every table has a view of the castle, or grounds. We were all kind of squeezed in together. Also, whose idea was it to give rattles out to the kids to shake?! It was really loud in there! Fortunately, Mickey waffles appeared soon. There was this man whose job is to go around depositing Mickey Waffles on people’s plates. I liked him.

The rest of the food was ok. I don’t know what I was expecting I guess. Since we did not get the meat platter, our waitress offered to substitute a vegetable platter. I really would of just liked more fruit, but instead got this hot platter of really salty vegetables. I was excited to at least get our photo that was taken of us earlier as I saw the lady coming table to table to give them out. This ended up being a little embarrassing, but humorous. She came, showed us the picture, and I thought we looked great! She said something to me, but over the rattles, I did not hear her, and just took the picture and said “thanks so much!”. Will started to chuckle as the lady just looked at me. Apparently she had asked if I wanted to purchase it for $30! I thought it came with the meal, as I know it does in some other places and the meal is expensive!! I reluctantly gave it back to her. I told our waitress about what happened and how I thought the picture was free, and she says “You remember where you are, right?”.

Mickey came by at least!

Overall the food was ok, but be aware you can be seated very close to others and may have no interesting view. It is also loud!

I decided to give us a break at this point, as I did not want to wear us out. Also, with the FP+ system, I knew we would have 3 short waits at least this evening and with our bonus Under the Sea paper Fastpass, that would be 4. I can see the FP+ system changing how many people go to the Parks. You will still get short lines in the morning, but with FP+ it is not the end of the World to get to a park late. So off to the room we went to relax. I also had paid a pretty penny to stay here, and wanted to enjoy the resort.

I let us relax and inhale the scents of the Polynesian. However, I started to get the Disney itch. I decided to add a Fastpass to our list. Originally, when the crowd was rated at a 2.9, I thought evening lines would not be so bad, but according to Touring Plans, lines for Splash Mountain, were getting over an hour already. So, I told Will to continue to rest and relax, but I needed to go on an errand to MK to get Fastpasses to Splash Mountain! This turned out to be a fun, but hot adventure! I had a nice AC Monorail ride to MK.

I even spotted a Hidden Mickey in the sky!

As soon as I got off, I saw the crazy crowds and when I made it past the gates, a parade was going on. CRAP! This was going to make a quick trip down Main Street and a left into Frontierland impossible. I had to travel down the right of Main Street through Parade traffic to the Castle and then curve around to Liberty Square to then get to Frontierland. The funny part was I ended up traveling the same speed as the parade through the crowds, which meant I was stuck at the same float. Every few minutes an announcer would say “HERE COMES MR. INCREDIBLLLEEEEE!”. I was relieved to get out of the crowd and to Splash Mountain FP line. Dog gone it, those were hard earned FPs! I then had to get back into the parade crowd and it was HOT. 90s again, in the end of October!! I had to stop at Casey’s Corner for a large Coke Zero!

Well hydrated, I made it back to the comparative serenity of Poly and met up with Will to briefly cool off in the GCH.

Next up, The Royal Treatment!!!
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Old 10-28-2013, 02:30 PM   #8
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October 21: Part 2 The Royal Treatment

Then I (took my whip out) directed us back towards the monorail. Bags checked, we re-entered the MK. I just couldn’t get enough of the Halloween decorations! Not a DIY lantern in sight. We headed straight for the castle.

Why were we heading to the heart of the most magical place?

Because we had an ADR for Cinderella’s Royal Table! ADR #2 of the day was another first. I think Be Our Guest reservations has siphoned off some of the demand for the Royal Table. I was able to make this reservation 5 months before our trip, which I think is unheard of a year ago. Of course, only one time was available all day and it was 2:40, which is a pretty late time for lunch. So I planned the breakfast late enough that we’d be hungry but not cranky-ravenous-in-the-red-zone hungry by then.

I was overjoyed walking up the the Castle. Bucket list is to actually spend the night in the castle, but I don’t see that happening in my lifetime. So, lunch with Cindy is the next best thing. We entered the Castle and I took in the sights.

Once you check in, you get in line to have your picture taken with Cinderella (which is included in your meal cost...take note ‘Ohana!!).

We then got our picture taken. I felt like a frump next to Cinderella and apologized for my being underdressed for the occasion. She was all like, that’s cool, we already got your mo-ney hon-ey.

We only had to wait a few minutes to be seated, and walked up the two flights of red, thick, carpeted stairs. We were initially seated on the upper level towards the back. I did not think it was a bad deal, but then another waitress came up and asked if we wanted better seats...why not? She put us closer to the windows! Let me give you a tip. Booking the last reservation of the shift (breakfast, lunch or dinner shift) was a great (albeit accidental) idea. Tables were clearing out, which meant it got quieter and there was no pressuring us to leave and make room for the next group!

Now I am glad we had an appetite, as there was plenty of food! We of course got the Vegetarian option. No veggie burger would do for your highness (Cinderella), so we got the Farro with roasted vegetables. Farro is a hearty crunchy grain that I love. I did not feel deprived at all! I hate going on vacation and eating veggie burger after veggie burger, and am amazed at an “amusement park” they serve me Farro.

Soon the Princesses started making the rounds. Snow White, Ariel (with legs), Aurora, and Jasmine. That was a lot of me getting up and down.

I kind of wish you could put a sign on your table that says no thank you to character interactions. I know so many people can’t get enough of them, but I am a pretty shy person, and feel awkward being in my 30s without kids talking to Disney characters. They are all so super nice, and they never make me feel like I should feel that way. However, I am just saying, in case someone from Disney is reading this, consider like a sign to put on the table so the character could politely wave and then walk on to a table of folks who really get excited over this. This was just our 3rd meal where I felt this anxiety that strangers were going to come up and start talking to me. Ahhhh! I know, you are like, well dummy, don’t make an ADR for a CHARACTER MEAL. But, I want a tropical breakfast at ‘Ohana (and Kona Cafe is nice, but the view and ambiance is meh) and I want to eat at a buffet at DAK and I want to eat in a castle!

Anyway, woe is us. We had an amazing meal. Someday I will get an ADR for breakfast before the park officially opens. That would be amazing.

We chose the “midnight” dessert and it was really good!

We exited the Castle, bellies full and content. We decided it would be a good time for a dark, quiet ride as our meal digested. We made the short walk over to Under the Sea. Stand-by was around 40 minutes I think, thank goodness for our Fastpasses! This is not Will’s favorite ride, but I don’t think he has every line from the movie memorized, so the ride may seem a little confusing. Once I was cleaning the kitchen and thought Will was outside the house. What a better way to pass the time while cleaning than by singing Poor Unfortunate Souls? I eventually realized Will was in fact NOT outside and heard it all. AWKWARD. Anyway, I love the movie and I like the ride. The funny part was one of the AA Ariels had one eye not working and was looking towards her nose. She looked quite intoxicated, but we went past her too fast to get a good shot!

We then took a bathroom break at the greatest bathrooms ever in the Tangled section! Will found the Pascals like a pro. It was very peaceful and I can't believe I am writing about a bathroom, but once you go there you shall understand!

We then felt ready to use our Splash Mountain, hard earned paper fastpass! Again, crazy line, I think this one was pushing over 60 minutes. Even with FPs it took about 20 minutes, no joke. In my trusty backpack (next to the germ gloves, and stainless steel reusable straws…) I had 2 disposable ponchos and 2 grocery bags for our shoes. I have no shame. I don’t mind getting a little wet, but I have been soaked on the ride before. If it were not for the water risk, it would be one of my favorite rides. It is long enough to really feel immersed. When we got up to the line to board, the family in front of us was a Dad and 3 girls. One girl was terrified of getting wet apparently, so when we put our ponchos on, she started screaming. Dad was like, oh jeesh, ponchos? Really? I tried to downplay how wet you may get, but the girl got on the ride was crying so hard (she was like 8 or 9) that the ride got delayed as the CM tried to calm her down and eventually let her sit with her Dad and another daughter. Um, hope she ended up liking it?

Ponchos on we boarded. Even with all our protection, as we were sitting in the first row, we still got wet!!! I got some swamp water in my eye and mouth. Even my backside...with a poncho...we got wet! I don’t think I will ever be able to convince Will to go on the ride again!!!

You can see my poncho seems to be covering me entirely, but still wet!!

I snapped a pic of the line on our way out.

I miss when the fountains on the ride that had the water jumping from fountain to fountain. Now that room is just kind of bland!

We now were in the FP+ zone! First up, Big Thunder Mountain!

Something about just the smell of this ride makes me so joyful. I really like roller coasters, but I think of BTM as more of an experience. I don’t expect to be terrified. It is slow enough to appreciate the “fossils” and other sights of the miners at work.

The weather seemed to be finally cooling off, so Will and I decided to do so as well. We headed over to Adventure Land to wait for our next FP+ window and stopped at Sunshine Tree Terrace! So many choices!! I got the Pina Colada Slush and Will got the Pomegranate Limeade. Both great choices. We found some seats next to Aladdin's Carpets and people watched.

I love Adventureland but wish it had some more rides to hold my attention. Pirates was up next and our FP+ worked just fine. We survived the Pirate attack and I guess Johnny Depp did too. That animatronic of him is freaky.

Dinner was not until 7:35, so we had some time. After all the mountains tackled today (Space, Splash, and Big thunder!) what crazy thing could we do next!! The Railroad. This is always one of Will’s big requests. His dad is really into trains and I think he appreciates the fact it is steam powered.

We both really enjoyed it and we saw 3 deer! Like, for real deer, that at first we all thought were animatronics, and just to be double sure, as we road the loop twice they were not there the second time.

Finally it was time for ADR #3 of the day! This was a place I had been before (in May) and there are no characters!!!!!

My all time favorite meal is Thanksgiving. Even at our wedding, the food we chose was stuffing, mac and cheese, rolls, roasted root vegetables... Little did I know, we were recreating Liberty Tree Tavern before we had even ever been!

This was just a day of amazing deliciousness. I may have gained 5 pounds back already, but every calorie was well worth it.

Dinner was over and we still had a little time for our last FP+. This was a good thing, as our path was again blocked, this time by the Spectromagic parade!

I wanted to wait until the dark of night (Muahhhhhh) to ride our next FP+. Haunted Mansion of course! I love this ride! No Pics as it is so dark, nothing came out.

Finally, we had our fill of an amazing day. Extra Magic Hours originally were going to be from 9pm-12midnight. But as I noted before, there was a big change in predicted crowds, which Disney must of expected as well and they changed EMH to 12pm-2am!!! Sorry, we are too old for that! We were ready to get on the monorail back to Poly, when Will says “Maybe we can see the fireworks from Poly beach?”. We were still in the park, when there was this loud boom. Right over our heads, Wishes started! This was so unexpected as I lost track of time. I was overwhelmed with joy. All around us, it was so intense. I actually cried. I did not take any photos as I was immobilized through the whole thing! Will did though, so I will see if I can get those.

Once they were over, we walked out of the park, still overwhelmed! This was only our first full day on this adventure and we were spent!

Miles walked: 13.3
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Old 10-28-2013, 05:29 PM   #9
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Traci, Brad & Kythe

Jan 2010 - Port Orleans Riverside - First Trip Ever Trip Report
Sep 2010 - Pop Century - The "No In-Laws" Do-over Trip Report
Feb 2011 - Pop Century - Mickey Valentines Trip Report
Jan 2012 - Pop Century - Officially Addicted Annual Trip
Nov 2013 - POFQ - Goodbye Pop, Hello French Quarter Trip Report

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Old 10-28-2013, 06:04 PM   #10
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Thanks! I think "subbing" means subscribing. Had to google that one!
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Old 10-28-2013, 06:25 PM   #11
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October 22: Part 1: Monorails, buses, boats...oh my!

OCTOBER 22nd Monorails, buses, boats...oh my!

Well, this would be the first day where I try to combine Disney pleasure with work-related-stuff. Boo-2-me. This was worse than when the conference was in Honolulu a couple of years ago. I thought that was bad. Sitting in a conference room, where cool blue oceans and infinity pools overlooking Waikiki were less than a mile away. Now Id be at the Dolphin Hotel conference room while Disney was just outside the doorstep! I was of course honest with my work on the half/full days I planned to be actually at the conference and the other times I soooo did not plan to be sitting there! I picked out the presentations I thought I absolutely needed to be present for and got to play around the rest of the times! Again, sort of like the watered-down-coldish-hot-coffee in Disney, tasting better than the finest coffee on a normal workday, being on Disney property for work beats my normal Tuesday!

As Will is not in my line of work, we would be going off on separate adventures this morning. Wills morning was way cooler than mine, but Ill give you a brief overview of mine first.

I needed to get from Poly to WDW Dolphin. Again, I felt like I should be in the Amazing Race. Detour: you can take the monorail or the Ferry Boat to Magic Kingdom and then transfer to Dolphin there OR you can take the Monorail to Epcot and take the Dolphin bus from there. Choose your destiny&.. As Epcot had EMH that morning, I decided this would be my best bet. PLUS, the monorail goes THROUGH EPCOT. I could press my pouty face against the glass and watch the happy people go by.

So after a light breakfast in the room, I headed out the door.

I grabbed my sort of iced Coffee and headed to the TTC to catch the monorail to Epcot. I think it is amazing that Poly has basically 2 monorail options!

By the time I get to the TTC, my hair is already starting to frizz out a bit. Darn humidity. I see the Monorail in the distance and I literally run to make it to the Monorail! By the time I sat down, my hair was doing things I did not even know it could do.

I found this monorail ride so relaxing. I miss Will and feel a wee-bit sad, but am so happy for him. And I think it should be a crime, punishable by a stint in Disney Jail, to be sad while on a Monorail! I saw some great scenery and got to go through Epcot! I visited Spaceship Earth! Mission Space! TestTrack! World Showcase!

On the way there....

Creepy empty parking lot with abandoned wheelchairs.

Spaceship Earth!

Universe of Energy!

Mission Space!


This will be the closest I get to Epcot the whole trip. It just did not make the cut! I had 3 parks to choose. We went to MK and Epcot in May. Our Epcot experience was nice. But we are pretty boring people I guess. We dont eat meat and dont drink alcohol so the whole hoopla around the Food and Wine Festival is lost on us. I felt like we got our Epcot fill the last time we were in town. I love the nostalgia of the park. I like the Future World rides. When we went on Test Track though it had just started to rain, so when we were rocketed out onto the track, we got PELTED with rain and I was screaming, not in excitement, but pain. My mom was using her body as a shield for my niece. We laugh about it now, but at the time, ugh no.

I get off the Monorail by 08:15 and looked for the S&D stop. Now, you hard core Disney goers right now already know what happened here. After searching for the Bus stop for a good 10 minutes, I finally ask a CM for help in locating the stop and he tells me THERE IS NO BUS STOP FOR SWAN AND DOLPHIN AT EPCOT! Apparently the hotel is so close to the International Gateway you can walk. The CM is like, no worries, just go through Epcot and get to the International Gateway. I do not think he could tell by my attire and conference badge, but I was not here for a fun filled day at a park! I was not going to spend $100 just to walk through through the park! So I then got on a bus for Hollywood Studios!

Of course it is empty! What other nincompoop would be going FROM Epcot to HS so early?

HS is in sight!

Then I did a brisk walk (hair is already crazy by now anyway) to the boat dock, and miraculously the boat to S&D is there ready to whisk me to Dolphin!

I made it to my conference in time!!

Dont worry, I will skip the conference details! I did take this one shot for Will. I took it in B&W because that is what it felt like. Like Wizard of Oz, the conference was B&W and when stepped outside of the Dolphin and suddenly everything was in vibrant color!!!

While I am taking notes as the conference speakers are trying to drive their point home, Will is driving something else altogether (see what I did there?).

What did I have in store for Will today?

WDW Exotic Motorspeedway! You ride with a trained driver in a luxury race car (probably similar to the Nascar ride you can do, but different car).

I knew Will would come with me on this trip no matter what, but I wanted there to be some other temptation for him. He chose the Audi R8. He says he chose this car because realistically it is a car we may own some day (as opposed to some of the Lamborghini and Ferrari options).

Um, this is where the quote If you dream it, you can do it is proven wrong. Sorry my love, I dont see an Audi R8 in our future! They actually did not have the Audi R8 so he was forced to upgrade to the Ferrari F-430 (in racing yellow color).

Even though I cant give you more details, Will did say he had a great time and broke speeds of 100 mph!

Once we were both done we met back up at Poly (this time took boat to HS and then bus to Poly). Will was able to take a shuttle back to TTC (again, Poly is so convenient!).

Thanks for reading! Next installment we try a new place for lunch and dinner and go to MNSSHP!

Last edited by ElenaJane; 11-04-2013 at 06:18 PM.
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Old 10-28-2013, 06:48 PM   #12
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October 22: Part 2: A hot Hallow's Eve

Once I met up with Will we were both starving.

For lunch, I wanted to give GF a try. I did not want to shell out big bucks though, but wanted more than CS. So we tried Grand Floridian Cafe! I think this place is a little hidden gem. The decor is a little blah, but the food and service was great! Will got the Felafel Sandwich and I got Salad and Pumpkin soup!

For dessert we got the sampler! It tasted as delicious as it looks! I could not bite Mickey's head, so Will volunteered.

We then went back to Poly and relax before our big night. We decided to take he boat back and take advantage of some breezes off the water. Another 90s day!

We were going to experience another first! Original plan was to go to Typhoon Lagoon. Up until a week before the trip, that was the plan. However, Will asked why we were not going to MNSSHP? I was like, well it is just parades and candy, and I don’t think it is our thing (though I did want to see Eeyore dressed as a clown as this concept cracks me up). Will also does not enjoy waterparks. I love water parks (which is weird for a germaphobe, “The water has what in it?”, Lalalala! Can’t hear you!). Really the idea of being wet and riding a bus back to Poly just sealed the deal for me. MNSSHP it is!!

We change into our MNSSHP attire! I decided we should go as Polynesian Royalty as we were eating at ‘Ohana for dinner later that night.

Will was also wearing a vintage Hawaiian shirt that said “Polynesian” on it. I think it was an old CM shirt (ebay find). He does not want his face posted on this site without sunglasses so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

We boarded the monorail and headed to the Party! I was so happy to see the majority of people in costume. Everywhere you go, it is “Hey, its Goofy!” “Hey that’s a random horse sitting on the castle steps!”.

Our first order of business was to get Iced Coffees from Starbucks! I gave my name as “Jasmine” as for some reason Elena gets misspelled a lot. The barista wrote “Princess Jasmine” on my coffee! Next order of business was to try something I had read about on the Disney Food Blog. Pumpkin Waffle Sunday from Sleepy Hollow!

The sundae...was...amazing! With the addition of the coffee and Halloween costume watching = heaven. We then went to It’s a Small World as Will wanted to experience some “Classic” Disney. I think it would be funny to have a ride photo taken (like at the thrill rides) to see close up shots of people’s semi-entertained faces. My dad has remarked they should combine this ride with Buzz Lightyear, and give people Laser Guns and rename the ride “This World is not big enough for all of us”.

I think we went on Under the Sea again, and Haunted Mansion, and Winnie the Pooh. Let me tell you, I had a very disturbing experience. Will was wearing his Happy Birthday button (birthday was a week before). This older man, a CM, probably 60s, asked me if I had sung Happy Birthday to Will yet. I said yes, and smiled, trying to move along. He says, I know another version you could sing for him. He took me aside and whispered something in my ear. I won’t repeat what he said, and I am not sure if I completely followed what he meant, but it was dirty. I grabbed Will and we made a wide berth around Winnie the Pooh ride for the rest of the night!!!

I did spot Eeyore though in his costume!!!

Also, Will did get to ride Tomorrowland speedway (his request) to compare the Ferrari to those cars. He was very excited to be placed on "Pole position" (he is an F1 fan!).

After that, time fly by and we had to leave to get our ADR at ‘Ohana. I had heard such rave reviews about dinner there. Remember when I told you about ‘Ohana? And how you like, need a reservation? This was the FIRST ADR I made back in June. 9:15 was the only dinner option the whole week we were there!!!! At first I was extremely bummed. Glad to have a reservation, but come on people, it is freakin’ June and 9:15 for October in low-fall season is the best I can get? I was all mopin’ when it dawned on me that maybe something magical happened around 9:30 during dinner. Maybe something magical in my line of sight around that time. Hallowishes was scheduled to happen at 9:30 that night!! Could it be possible we would get seated in time...and seated at a window table?!?!

We were dressed appropriately in our Polynesian attire. We headed to ‘Ohana early, so I could bat my eyes and politely request a fireworks-viewing table, and oh yeah, if you could have us seated there by like 9:29, that’d be great, ok yeah thanks.

We rolled up to the CM’s stand at ‘Ohana at 8:45. Our CM was very nice but was like there is no guarantee you will get a good seat.

We quickly got seated at 9:10 and when the CM picked us up from the lobby she said “I think you will be pleased!”. We got a fireworks viewing table!!! Not that close, but much better than we had for breakfast the day before.

I have read rave reviews about this meal. Of course skewers of meat are mentioned several times, and no one seemed to be gushing about skewers of tofu...if such a thing exists! Our starters were the same as everyone else. Salad and bread.

I am so sorry to say, but I think we were disappointed with the bread. Ours was pretty stale. The vegetables were still pretty salty. The noodles were good though. There was a tofu-themed substitute for the Meat Skewers, which was a nice touch. The bread pudding was good. I think the problem was that we were having so much fun at MNSSHP, that we felt we were missing out. Hallowishes started and the view was nice, but then again, compared to our surprise fireworks from last night, it was just ok.

Still, it was a good meal and after a long day of buses, boats, monorails, and Villains in the sky, we were ready to call it!!

Miles walked: 13
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Old 10-29-2013, 01:06 PM   #13
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Loving your trip report! Thanks for writing
Traci, Brad & Kythe

Jan 2010 - Port Orleans Riverside - First Trip Ever Trip Report
Sep 2010 - Pop Century - The "No In-Laws" Do-over Trip Report
Feb 2011 - Pop Century - Mickey Valentines Trip Report
Jan 2012 - Pop Century - Officially Addicted Annual Trip
Nov 2013 - POFQ - Goodbye Pop, Hello French Quarter Trip Report

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Old 10-29-2013, 04:53 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by kaetra View Post
Loving your trip report! Thanks for writing
Thanks so much! This is my first trip report and I never realized how much time they take. Fun, but still! I see you are only 16 days away from your trip! So excited for you! Have some hot cocoa for me!
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Old 10-29-2013, 07:48 PM   #15
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October 23: Hitting the refresh button!

OCTOBER 23rd “Hitting the refresh button”

This trip I decided to mix up our resorts a little bit. Going to Poly was a given after our May experience. However, even with the Fall discount, it is pretty pricey to stay for a whole week. Maybe trying another resort could be fun. I had initially thought of actually staying at the Dolphin for the last 3 nights. But, when I went to reserve, it was all booked, including the Swan. Later, I found out this was just Disney putting the rooms on hold and I could have reserved a room through the conference. But let me tell you, I was not disappointed! The idea of staying at the Dolphin just made me sad. It would be a fine hotel any other trip, but staying at the conference hotel, while convenient, felt more like work to me than a vacation. So with the Dolphin out, where to stay? I ended up choosing:

The Wilderness Lodge!

Besides the biting flies, I do have fond memories of Ft. Wilderness and camping as a kid. I also just love the Magic Kingdom area. I liked the Contemporary Resort ok, but if I am not in a theme park-view room, it is just not as cool, and those are so pricey! So, Wilderness Lodge it was! I had never stayed there, so it would be another first.

We woke up in our Somoan room for the last time (this trip at least!!). I was waiting until the afternoon to go back to the conference, so I did not leave it up to Will to have to transfer resorts all on his lonesome. We went to Kona for breakfast without an ADR. This worked out really well, as we got seated right away, and after about 10 minutes, there was suddenly a line of people waiting, and strollers out the wazoo being parked. Will got the Big Kahuna (eggs, pancakes, all kinds of amazingness) and I tried the Pineapple-Macadamia Nut Pancakes! I asked for the strawberry compote on the side and my wish was granted. I know, it seems so wrong to eat there and NOT get TONGA TOAST! I was just in a Pineapple-Macadamia Nut Pancake kind of mood and I don’t regret it!

We went back to the room and packed up, knowing we would be unpacking soon, but who knows when our next room would actually be ready, so we had to keep this in mind when deciding what to keep on hand. I was dressed again for the conference, no Mickey Ears required.

We gave our luggage to the Bellhops, and kept my backpack and his laptop with us for the transfer over. I wish we could just get on the Magical Express, as technically we were “leaving” and then just be dropped off at WL on the way to the airport. We did monorail to MK, and then boat to WL. This went smoothly and the boat ride to WL is pretty quick! I had no idea there is a road that actually goes under the lake! That seems to be a tricky thing from an engineering standpoint!

Our boat then pulled up to WL. This is when I felt like I had just hit the refresh page. Before this I was feeling slightly blue (maybe it is ok to feel sad on a Disney boat...but definitely not a monorail). But here was a whole new resort! We had all new adventures! A place I had not even stayed before!! Feeling refreshed, we hopped off the boat and went to the Grand Lobby.

Hello? Hello? Hello? (echo)

It certainly makes an impression! I wonder what Poly’s lobby will feel like when it is done with all the rehab it is getting. I was impressed with WL’s lobby though!

I knew it was early, but I went to the Online Check in to see what our chances of a room being ready would be. It was not, and would not be ready until after I left for the conference. We explored the resort (gorgeous!!) and went to the Pacific Room in the Villas section. Will loves trains and the room had no one in it but us.

Will was looking at a map and asked me “Why did Donald punch a Donkey in St. Louis?”. it sounds like a set up to a joke. Upon closer examination, I think Donald was just trying to pull the Donkey.

During our stay at WL, we were bit by the Hidden Mickey bug. Will was so good at spotting them!!! There are so many built into WL and we had a blast finding them. CMs seem to get into it as well and were always willing to help us out. This one is the trickiest to find.

We were running out of time to explore, as I needed to be back at the conference at 1:00pm. I grabbed a crustless PB and J for lunch from Roaring Fork.

The menu was great. I did not see the Cookie Bar I had read about though!!!! Will though, being a sneaky sweetie, went up and asked after we had sat down and they cut a bar off just for him.

I ate part of it (oh my gosh, yum!) and kept the rest of it to snack on during the conference. Ingesting small bits of Disney magic to keep me going!

While Will got to stay and soak in the wild west opulence, it was time for this little gal to get out of Dodge and head back to the Dolphin.

I again had various transpo choices. Boat to MK, MK to S&D? Bus to any of the parks and then bus to S&D? Hmmmm. I decided to skip all of the above and take a Taxi!

Again, I will spare you the conference details! Suffice to say I got there on time. Learned stuff. And got out of there as soon as I was done learnin’ stuff. If this were Will’s report, I am sure it would have been a more interesting afternoon! Actually, I think he also got work stuff done. He has a full time job doing computer stuff and is also taking a class in Discrete Mathematics on the side..for personal enrichment. Yeah. Smarty pants.

By the time I got back, of course our room was ready. When I re-booked our WL stay to get the fall-discounted rooms, they only had bunk-bed rooms available. A wee-bit silly for a couple in their 30s, but I was not going to pay extra to have a normal extra bed! I requested ground floor, as close to the lobby as possible. Our wish was granted this time!!

I really loved Wilderness Lodge. However, the rooms seem a lot smaller than Poly. I think the bunkbed reminded me a lot of being in a dorm room. Also, you just can't beat the convenience of a monorail! Otherwise, lobby, staff, CS dining, was the best.

I just had enough time to put some things away and freshen up for dinner. We had a 6pm ADR to make! I was so excited! We were going to make the ¾ mile “hike” to Ft. Wilderness! A place I had not been to since childhood!

We then started off to find the pathway to Ft. Wildnerss. When we asked though, the response would be “You want to walk?! That is really far away!!”. We got this response twice. I knew already it was less than a mile away. Why were people so weird about this? Did they not understand the average person walks around 8 miles in a theme park day? We found the pathway on our own, no help from CMs. I was struck by how peaceful this walk was. Magic Kingdom and all of the crowds and noise were less than 2 miles away. In the woods we felt like we were the only people there! I read there is a pine cone Hidden Mickey on the walk and I kept my eyes peeled the whole time, but never found it. We walked past the back of River Country and we so wanted to check it out but did not want to you know, get arrested.

We saw lots of wildlife including 3 deer!

We were at Ft. Wilderness in no time and headed to the main lobby for our ADR at Trail’s End! Another Buffet, yes please!

This was more crowded than I thought. This was one of the longest lines to check in for our ADR!

I thought this was supposed to be an out of the way, hidden spot. Again, free dining...grrrrr. Our waiter talked really loud and kept flirting with this group of British girls, repeatedly calling one “Piggy” which made her giggle.

It seems the cooks were not expecting such a big crowd either, as they were low on stuff and the cooks were audibly complaining. The food was ok. Kind of what you would expect. I took some shots!

It was dark now, so we took a bus back to WL and called it a night!

Miles walked: 8

Up next, MNSSHP take 2!
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