Our First Magical Poly Vacation: April 14-21 2012!

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by DaveinFallsChurch, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Monday April 16th Part IV - Illuminations Cruise

    I think we were pretty much done with our Epcot tour at that point. It was getting close to 7pm and now it was time to head over to the Yacht Club Marina for the birthday surprise for DW. Her b-day would be another week later, but I thought it would be a lot of fun to do the Illuminations Cruise to celebrate it. I booked the cruise about 5 months earlier – sort of surprised there was availability but was happy to take it! About 3 weeks earlier, I called the private dining line for Yacht Club to order a birthday cake. I was not confident enough in my cake knowledge to custom design and order a cake so instead I went with one of their “standard” cakes. On the phone, I heard about 5 different options whiz by my ear, but once I heard the word chocolate, that’s what I ordered! When booking the cruise, they also offered the celebration decorations for the birthday for an additional charge (I can’t remember exactly how much) but I decided to decline it since I was thinking that the cake part could be a second surprise for DW after the cruise was on its way.

    I wanted to keep it a surprise until it was time to head over to YC. The problem was, that several times earlier in the day, the question was asked by DW if we really had to stay until park closing or if we could turn in a little early after doing a short tour of World Showcase. So, at that point, I had to tell her what I was up to. She was very surprised and loved the idea so it all went well.

    Anyway, I had to move our car before we got on the cruise. Because we had to get to Epcot for the early Akershus ADR and since monorails were not running that early in the morning, we drove and parked our minivan in the front row of the Epcot parking lot. Since our cruise ends at Yacht Club, it would require some extra work to try to get to our car from there. So, I gave instructions for the rest of the gang to find their way to International Gateway and take one of the boat shuttles to YC. I walked back to the main entrance of Epcot, took these topiary pics on my way out.

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    Then drove the minivan over to YC. To avoid any parking controversy ;), AND to save us time getting back to our room after the cruise, I used the valet parking. Met up with the family, and we sat and waited until it was 8pm while feeding snacks and hotdog to the kids.

    Captain Joe was our skipper for the evening and he took us to the boat. To MY surprise, they went ahead and decorated the boat anyway with balloons and a Happy Birthday Banner on the back of the boat. There were sodas and water available in the cooler. Bags of chips and popcorns were also there. And the cake was delivered and sitting at the center. We took off and I have to say, I enjoyed the boat ride as much as the fireworks. We circled around the entire waterway starting from YC, over to Swan/Dolphin, to DHS, then turned around, passed the Boardwalk, and into Epcot.

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    DHS from our boat
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    During that boat tour, Joe told us a lot of interesting and fun stories. I thought he did an excellent job. The ride was very relaxing. Several visitors and CMs along the waterway wished DW a happy birthday. I loved the night time view of the Hollywood Tower Hotel we got from the waterway although my camera miserably failed to capture the moment.

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    Can you even see it? Remember what I said before about my camera? Low lighting from a moving object – not good.

    Joe told us a cute story about the artist Wyland as we passed one of the restaurants where he contributed to the décor. For you Poly fans, Wyland also has a gallery in the GCH. Joe said that few years ago, Wyland had offered to draw a mural for free on a elementary school building where his wife used to work (can’t remember where). Initially, the principal declined but Joe’s wife clued him in on who the artist was and that they should take advantage of the offer. So, they agreed. One day while Wyland was working on the mural, a couple of 8-9 year old kids approached him and asked if they could help. He said yes! So the finished mural had a very polished appearing mural featuring the a couple of dolphins and other sea creatures drawn in by those two kids and everyone thought it looked perfect for the elementary school.

    By the time we docked underneath the bridge between UK and France, all the other boats were already there. We roped our boat against another one. The cake was revealed.

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    We all sang Happy Birthday. Everyone got a slice. You know, with all the excitement surrounding the cruise and the fireworks, I honestly can’t remember how the cake tasted. I’m pretty sure it was good. I was also a little worried about the wind direction. All afternoon, I was paying attention to the wind direction and noted that it appeared to be blowing towards the general direction of UK/France pavilions. I had read that when the wind blows in that direction, it can make the illuminations viewing from the cruises a-not-so-magical experience. So when we docked, the winds were blowing slightly more towards UK and not our bridge. The show started and it was great. Even with the smoke heading in our general direction, since the winds were blowing pretty hard, the smoke cleared right away. Here are my attempts of capturing the moment – as you can see, did not have a tripod to steady the shots but some came out okay.

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    We had very nice views and enjoyed it a lot! We also had a very nice view of a small fire on the small island that got started when one of the remnants of a flare landed and lit the grass on fire. :rotfl: We first noticed it when we started smelling something really burning. If you enjoy Illuminations, I would definitely recommend the cruise. It’s always nice to have a carved out private space to watch the show. Both kids stayed awake through the end of Illuminations, then fell asleep on the ride back to YC. We thanked and tipped Joe, got our minivan from the valet, and went back to the room. It was about 10:20pm before the kids were in bed.

    Next Up: Tonga Toast and Magic Kingdom!
     
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  3. pwdebbie

    pwdebbie DIS Veteran

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    I'd love to try a cruise someday IF I could justify the expense for just the two of us. It sounds like you had a wonderful time.
     
  4. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    One option to consider - I learned that there are threads on DIS (I think there's one in the Community section) where DISers who reserved a cruise are looking for other DISers to join in, fill the boat to close to capacity, and share the cost. Of course the potential downside of this is, it's going to be with people who you don't know much about. I did notice that one of the boats that went out on the cruise with ours was filled with people that met using the DIS threads.
     
  5. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Just came across this work of art by DD and had to take a pic!

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  6. Zuzu03

    Zuzu03 DIS Veteran

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    Wow, just caught up again! You've been busy! I hear you about work sapping the energy out of you - some weeks with the kids at school, it's exactly like that - i've got a very needy bunch of adolescents, but I love them dearly. Thank goodness for the weekends, though! Too cute about the meltdown, I remember a certain incident in Toontown with Emma when she was almost 4 and the line to see Mickey in his tent was really long. Mind you, we had already seen Mickey in his tent, so this was just an extra visit. DH and I decided that the line was too long and that we should do something else. Of course, Ems didn't quite agree and it was quite a meltdown. I remember other guests and CMs giving us a wide berth as they walked by and one CM said, "Oh that's nothing - last week a kid was flipping out so bad he started eating grass!" HAHAHAHA!

    The Illuminations fireworks cruise looks too cool!!! That will have to go on the list for the future! And EVERY, I mean EVERY time I see shaved ice I want some, but I'm always too full of other food/snacks by the time we get to Japan so I NEVER get it! I vow that I WILL have shaved ice in June, by golly - no more excuses! Did you see that Haitian garden section? They had an incredible Frozen Coconut Rum Punch that was outstanding - DH and I had that 3 times (not all in the same day, of course). EPCOT is a foodie heaven, isn't it?
     
  7. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Once the kids get a little older, I want to spend at least a couple of days at Epcot. Just the number of restaurants and snacks I want to try, it's a long list! I did see the Haitian graden area but did not get to try the any alcoholic drinks. As for the shaved ice, I say you can always make room for shaved ice! It's basically overpriced water :lmao: but it tastes soooo good in the heat.

    Posting my TR updates has been helping keep my sanity. Actually, I wrote the whole TR in one day on a Word document right after we came back home so I wouldn't forget things. It ended up being 42 pages long!!! The past week, I've just been cutting and pasting the text, and putting together the images/pictures, so it's only been taking me about 30 minutes a night to post each update!

    I don't know what I'm going to do when I run out of updates! Hopefully by then you and Emma will be on your trip, and I'll be able to vicariously live through your reports? :goodvibes
     
  8. Zuzu03

    Zuzu03 DIS Veteran

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    And perhaps by then, you could have another trip planned?!? ;)
     
  9. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Oh how I wish! ;)

    I need to time this perfectly because if I bring up another Disney trip idea too soon, it could backfire with DW :lmao:
     
  10. 204charity

    204charity DIS Veteran

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    Wow! What a great birthday celebration for your DW. No pics of you and her though to commemorate the occasion? What's up with that??? ;)
     
  11. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Yeah, that's the problem. Since I'm the one who's basically taking all the pictures, there are almost no photos from this trip with me in it. I think I counted about 4 or 5 out 800 pictures that had me in it. Thank goodness for photopass pics because otherwise, you would have never known I was there! :lmao:
     
  12. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Tuesday, April 17th Part I – Magic Kingdom Day

    We finally made it to MK day. This was the day I had been most looking forward to. It’s the kids’ favorite park. DFIL will get to experience the rope drop show, walking down main street, and seeing Cindy’s castle for the very first time. Even though we had a relatively late night at Epcot, I had no problem waking up without an alarm at 6am! The rest of the gang eventually started stirring 30 minutes later. I could tell the kids were starting to get a little worn out although they were still just as excited about going to MK. Plans for naps back at the room were definitely in order for this day.

    We arrived at Kona for our breakfast ADR at 7:30am.

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    We were the second table seated. I didn’t even have to look at the menu. After reading DIS, I knew what I was getting. Tonga Toast!!! DFIL ordered the pineapple and macademia pancakes, and DW ordered the Big Kahuna breakfast. DD ordered her own mickey mouse pancake. We ordered regular coffee, no one was interested in trying out the 100% Kona coffee with me. When my Tonga Toast came out, I just doused the whole thing with the strawberry sauce it came with, and took a bite. Excellent! Everyone tried a bite and loved it.

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    We then got on the monorail to head over to MK. This was the first time the kids got to ride on the monorail. DS who loves trains in general, loved the ride. In his mind, this was just as good as any ride at MK. In fact, when we arrived at the MK station, he did not want to get off!! He cried, fussed, and said he wanted to ride some more. I had to keep telling him that we were going to see Mickey and ride Dumbo.

    We made it through bag check and the turnstiles and stood right in the middle front of the train station to watch the show. It’s funny how even though we arrived relatively later than most people already there, the middle part is always relatively empty while everyone is crowding on the sides to get a leg up on the rope drop entry once the show is over. I wanted to get a good view though for DFIL and the kids. In my opinion, a good viewing of the opening ceremony show always adds to the whole MK day experience.

    Soon enough the show was underway. Look! Here comes the train!!

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    Walking down Main Street after rope drop is always magical. I love the CMs greeting us with smiles and waves. I love the view of the castle getting bigger and bigger as we stroll down the street. DFIL and DD were singing Zip-a-dee-doo-dah as we walked. Even though part of me wanted to rush towards Storybook Circus to get in front of the Dumbo line, most of me was enjoying the leisurely stroll down Main Street and watching the reactions of the family. And since this was DFIL’s first visit, I led everyone through Cinderella’s Castle to enter Fantasyland rather than taking the shorter route to Storybook Circus. DFIL stopped many times to take pictures of the castle.

    We eventually made it to Dumbo. The line was already starting the queue entry point which I thought was a little longer than it should have been. It was only 9:11am! Everyone got in line except me. I was going to take the pictures and make a FP run to Pooh. Of course when they were halfway through the line, DD had to go potty. So DW took her out to the brand new bathrooms and then got back at the end of the line. When I returned from the FP run, DFIL and DS were getting on the ride. DS LOVED it, especially the fact that he had up and down control over Dumbo! Once they were done, DW and DD got their turn. They had a good time too! What’s not to like about Dumbo? I can’t wait until the rest of new FL is completed because the view is going to be absolutely amazing I think.

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    Afterwards, DD, DFIL, and myself got on to try the Barnstormer. DD ate it up.

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    She wanted to again, so this time she went with DW and DFIL. I felt a little bad for DS just sitting there and waiting, so I took him over to the Tea Cups and boy did he enjoy that ride. I spun the thing pretty good and he would let out a giggle every time we hit the maximum spinning speed as he tried his best to keep himself from tipping over! It was hilarious. I wanted to go on it again before everyone else caught up but the line looked fairly long. That was the thing for this day. The crowds were definitely larger than what I had expected. I mean it’s nothing like the crushing level 10 crowds of the week prior, but the tea cup lines were about 15 minutes now and it was barely 9:45am!

    When we all regrouped, we headed to the Speedway for a ride. This is another favorite of DDs. She once again got one of those Mickey’s Driver’s License from one of the CMs. Still not tall enough to reach the pedal, so I did that for her while she handled the steering. I’ll be honest, it was a bumpy ride! We were doing a lot of sideway action but that’s what made it fun!

    During one of my picture attempts, DD made another bump while driving and I got this gem. ;)
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    DW and DS followed right behind us.
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    DS actually wanted his mom to do all the driving and he was perfectly content and enjoying the ride from the passenger seat! When we got off, we used our FPs for Pooh. The downside of using FPs for this ride is that we miss out on the playground and toys that line the interactive queue. DD had been wanting to do this but the standby wait was already at 40 minutes at 10:30am. So we got on through the FP lanes in less than 10 minutes.

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    Kids of course loved it. I always feel a little odd during this ride when we enter what’s suppose to be Pooh’s dream sequence. There’s a slightly disturbing factor to the whole atmosphere that I just can’t put my finger. Maybe that’s the idea? I’m guessing that the dream he’s having is about the heffalump which means it’s more of a nightmare? Of course, my favorite scenes are the ones in the rain. Just has that magical Disney quality to it.

    Next Up: Learning to Love Captain Hook!
     
  13. Zuzu03

    Zuzu03 DIS Veteran

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    Awwwwww, I love walking down Main Street first thing in the morning too! So weird that you guys were there RIGHT before DH and I. DH's pics look exactly like yours! Didn't the crowds seem more than what was predicted? I was like, "hmmm, a 1.3 at Epcot, really?" Seemed more of a 5-6 to me most of the time! And MK was quite crowded for us except during EMH. How cool for your DFIL too, though to spend time with the kids and ride the rides side by side with them! Too sweet! :goodvibes
     
  14. auprincess

    auprincess DIS Veteran

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    love all the updates!! There is so much I want to do in WS, as well...eventually I'll get to them! And most of the stuff revolves around food. Super bummed we missed the caramel shop in Germany this trip as well as the bakery in France.
     
  15. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    I agree. For our MK days, it definitely felt more crowded than expected. Epcot I think was just about right. DHS felt a little less crowded than expected. And it was reflected in how fast FPs were going compared to what was predicted. It looks like from Emma's recent posting that you'll be able to make RD at MK! :cool1:
     
  16. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    We missed the bakery in France as well. I was really looking forward to it. But since DW and DFIL went ahead to France while DD and I stayed behind at UK for Kim Possible, I was not around to remind them to stop at the bakery. Plus, they were too full from our late lunch at Le Cellier.
     
  17. jennyjinx3

    jennyjinx3 DIS Veteran

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    OMG! My DD's also put their mickey ears on their big piggie banks!! I am such a sap but it just touches my heart when they do something to remind themselves of Disney:love: What a thoughtful DH you are to do that for your DW for her b-day!
     
  18. Moodyzblu

    Moodyzblu DIS Veteran

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    Love your report so far ! The cruise sounds so cool .. I'd like to try that sometime. :thumbsup2
     
  19. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    I know, it made me happy to see this because a) it means she enjoyed Disney and is trying to extend that feeling as long as she can, and b) that I'm successfully turning her into a Disney fan like myself! :lmao:
     
  20. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Thanks! I'm now curious about what the Pirate Cruise for Wishes are like but I suspect it may not be as good as the Wishes Dessert Party.
     
  21. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Tuesday April 17th Part II - Magic Kingdom

    When we got off the Pooh ride, the kids wanted to go on the Speedway again, this time with Grandpa who was busy using the, ahem, facilities when we went on it before. So I sat this one out and the rest got on. I planted myself to take some pics of everyone coming around the curve in their race cars. In the excitement, I completely lapsed on my next FP run plans. So when they got off and looked at me with the “What’s next?” look, that’s when I realized I had forgotten to get Peter Pan’s FPs. We walked over to the PP area, and I grabbed the FPs which wasn’t going to open for us for another 90 minutes. So, we parked our strollers in my favorite Disney bottleneck.

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    We got in line for It’s a Small World. This is the moment when I really noticed that it was a lot more crowded than I had expected. The beginning of the line was already all the way out to construction scrims for the old Skyway area. With the large loading capacity, it was still a fast moving line. Ok now everybody together! It’s a small world afterall ~

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    It’s a small world afterall ~
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    It’s a small world afterall ~
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    It’s a small small world~
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    When we got out, it was lunch time around 12:15pm. We headed over to Columbia Harbor House. While DW and DFIL got in line to order the food, I took the kids upstairs to find a table. It always amazes me how NOT crowded the second floor of Columbia Harbor is even when the rest of the park is bursting at the seams. There were plenty of empty tables to choose from and we planted ourselves in a large round table in the middle of the area. This is also where I had a near DIS-meet with Momtwoboys! We both saw each other but both of us weren’t sure if we were who we thought we were! lol I think there were a lot of knowing glances, but alas, we failed to say hello. We later found out for sure through my live report! The food was decent for a counterservice, as always. I was still full from my Tonga Toast so I just had a cup of soup.

    After we left the restaurant, our FP window just opened for PP. So I made another FP run to Splash Mountain while the rest headed towards to Carousel. When I made it back from the FP run, everyone was getting on the carousel. DS was so proud of himself for getting to ride one of the “BIG horses”! When they got off we went straight for Peter Pan. Now this was one of those rides that DD had a lot of reservations about. Remember when I said that she had developed an aversion for villains? Well, last year, Captain Hook was one of them, and she REFUSED to go on Peter Pan. She was feeling a little braver this time around. I had shown her the youtube video at home as well. So she reluctantly got on one of the flying pirate ships with her mom and dad, while DS rode with DFIL. In my opinion, PP is one of those rides that seem to stand the test of time very well. The way it’s set up, it still gives you the sensation of flying throughout the ride, and especially when you are flying over the London cityscape. I just love it. I can still hear the background music of the ride ringing in my ear with PP shouting out “Here we gooooo!” So how did DD react when the ride was over. “I Love it! Let’s go on it again!”.

    Well, it was time for DS to take a nap. I offered to take him back to our room, but DW said she wanted to get some rest and plus, she said I was the one with the touring plan in his head so I should stay. So the two headed off back to the room. DFIL, DD, and I walked over to Splash Mountain and got in the FP line. Of course, the ride had a stoppage of about 10 minutes during our wait so took a little longer. This was the first time for all of us. DD was once again being brave about trying this. She kept asking how wet we were going to get. And I kept hoping not by much! Fortunately, we were riding on the last row. I didn’t quite realize that the significant portion of the ride is looking at the scenery and animatronics. When we got to the drop, DD did well. But when I asked her how she liked it, she said “Not. At. All.” So, we didn’t go on it again. It was time for the afternoon Celebrate A Dream Come True parade. So each of us got a fruit bar, and planted ourselves along the route in Frontierland.

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    Flynn's Back!!
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    It’s a good parade, but DD didn’t get as much interactions as she did last year with the characters. She was also getting very hot and tired so that could have been it as well.

    After the parade, we checked out the Tree House. There was a line for this too! I realized at that moment how spoiled we were with our past trips. We traveled in off-peak seasons and we never ever had a line at the Tree House lol. Took these pics.

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    I really wanted to get a Dole Whip when he got back down from the Tree House. But the line for that didn’t seem to be worth it since I could get it back at the Poly with more ease. We got on the magic carpet ride.

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    The spitting camels are always a hit for DD. Then we tried cooling off in the Enchanted Tiki Room. No matter how much they renovate this show, it’s the only attraction at Disney that just doesn’t do it for me. DD on the other hand loved it and was singing the Tiki Tiki Tiki song for the rest of the day. When we got out, it was about 4:15pm. And DD just about had it. She said she wanted to go back to our hotel. We had a 6:15pm ADR at the Plaza and a 9pm ADR for Wishes Dessert. I agreed with DD, and the three of us were headed out of MK. We didn’t get to try PoTC or Jungle Cruise, but I figured we were coming back on Friday and I could fit things in then.

    Next Up: Desserts with a Dash of Fireworks
     

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