4 Birthdays and a Graduation... our June trip report


DIS Veteran
Aug 10, 2013
WELCOME to my trip report!

Just to give you some background, I am a Disney lover who was fortunate to visit 3 times growing up with my family, and since being married and having 2 kids, have managed to turn my family into Disney lovers as well. We've been 7 times as a family of 4, once with DH and I and DS2, DS1 has been with friends 2 other times, and DS2 and I went last year with his high school band. I absolutely enjoy going just with the four of us, but have secretly dreamed of taking other people too.

The very first time I visited as a kid my parents and brother and I were living in Saudi Arabia and we were on vacation back in the States for a month. We were visiting my grandparents, aunt, and cousin in Virginia, and somehow it was decided that we'd go to WDW for 3 days! My great aunt lived in Orlando so we all stayed with her (who cares about sleeping on a couch when you're a kid!). In addition to all 8 of us plus her, my mom's cousin and his daughter who was my age also went to the parks- which at the time was just MK and Epcot. It was so awesome to be able to experience the magic with all of them!

As I said, last year DS2 and I went with his band. We did a day at MK (where they got to march in a parade), one at DHS, and one at Universal. I really enjoyed getting to see some of these kids who had never been and even those that had just acting like kids. We did a trip to celebrate DS1's graduation, so DS2 knew we re going to plan one for him. The week after we got back he asked me if for his senior trip we could bring his girlfriend and DS1's girlfriend along too. DH and I talked about it, talked to both girls' parents, and the wheels started moving. By Dec. we had all plans in place and I was just waiting to book with the military discount!

I'll share some background on the girlfriends. GF1 and DS1 have been dating for 5 1/2 years. They graduated together and she is currently in college while he's in the AF and doing college as well. It's about a 7 hour drive between them so they still see each other often. She did the College Program at WDW last year at worked at 7DMT, so she is scheduled to graduate this Dec. now. She's home for the summer doing an internship. She got to go to WDW once at 6yo (only child) but grew up loving Disney. She finally got her parents to take her again after high school graduation and that really got her addicted. Since finishing her CP she has been multiple other times with friends and DS1 and has an AP. GF2 and DS2 have been dating for 2 years. She is a year younger and they were in band together. She is the youngest of 5 and went to WDW at 3yo and again around 9yo, but had not done all parks. She did go on the band trip with us last year too.

Because DS2 wanted to be at WDW on his actual birthday, which fell about 2 weeks after his graduation, and because all four kid's birthdays literally fall within the next month, I dubbed this trip "4 Birthdays and a Graduation!"



DIS Veteran
Aug 10, 2013
The Planning

The first thing to do was decide where we would stay. We did deluxe for DS1's graduation trip, but with 6 of us, and knowing that we'd be paying for the rooms, I wanted to still keep a budget. DH and I weren't completely opposed to deluxe, but the requirements were enough beds and 2 bathrooms. For what we'd pay it made the most sense to get two rooms at a moderate. We even looked into Shades of Green but decided that without the transportation, magic bands and booking adr's 180 days out and fp+ 60 days out, plus parking fees, it wasn't worth it. We drive, but prefer to let Disney do the driving once we get there. My life's goal is to stay at each WDW resort at least once, and we'd done Coronado and POFQ, so that left CBR and POR. Since CBR had construction scheduled, I decided on POR. I requested connecting rooms and Alligator Bayou so we'd have the Murphy bed as an option. I was told they can't guarantee either one but that they'd put the request on. The CM was very nice in explaining they why behind it. They have to give first priority for both of these to families traveling with parties of 5 for the AB section, and priority for connecting rooms to families with more children where one adult is in one room with kids and another adult is in the second room. I did book a river view room since we'd had that at POFQ and it was so pretty. Whatever we ended up getting was fine since I knew we'd have enough beds and bathrooms for everyone.

Next I needed to plan food- one of my favorite things about vacation! Even when we go to visit family back in Texas I have a list of where we need to go eat. We are definitely not "foodies" and DS1 and I are much more adventurous than the rest of the group, so I needed to take all of that into consideration. We did the dining plan when the kids were younger but find now that it's better to just let everyone order what they want- we actually saved money doing this on the last trip an not sacrificing. We agreed that DS1, GF1, and GF2 would pay for their own food. GF2's parents gave us money up front based on what I thought from past trips and she didn't even use it all. I picked a mix of ts and cs so we wouldn't be tied down to too many adr's but also so we could take a break and enjoy some meals and celebrate.

For tickets I was able to get military 5 day park hoppers for 5 of us (GF2's parents paid for hers) and GF1 had her AP. I planned a day at each park, a non-park day in between for mini golf, swimming, and Disney Springs, and a final park day to do whatever we wanted. I was debating getting Memory Maker because I wanted some good pictures and ride photos, but I knew this group was not going to want to stand in line for pictures at special spots and wouldn't be doing character photos either. Luckily GF1's AP includes pictures so I decided to forgo it this time. We discussed what the best attractions would be to try to get fp+ for and at the 60 day mark I was able to score all the ones we wanted with pretty good times. I wasn't betting on being able to get many additional ones after those were used, but figured we'd use the last park day to make any up we missed and picked 3 fp+ at MK since I knew we'd be spending the evening there.

I should mention that besides when I was a kid, our family has never been in the summer. We are used to the heat and humidity coming from Charleston, SC, but I knew we still needed to be prepared. I took DS2 and GF2 shopping the week before to get sunscreen, ponchos, snacks for the drive there and back and movies (we decided to see "Incredibles 2" at the DS AMC theater before we headed home on departure day), and I bought some comfy sandals as well. I normally wear flip flops or flat sandals but I knew that wouldn't work for all the walking we'd be doing. DS1 volunteered to bring cases of water since he knew our vehicle would be full.

DS2 and I packed two days before we left because we were both working the night before we left. DH as usual packed the day before. He somehow does this every trip and never seems to forget anything. We already had our neighbor arranged to watch and feed the 2 cats and dog as well. I am so glad I worked the night before so I came home tired or else I don't think I'd have been able to sleep!

  • Sydney2977

    DIS Veteran
    Aug 10, 2013
    Departure Day!

    My alarm woke me and I jumped right up, showered, got ready, and packed my toiletries while the guys were showering and getting ready. After feeding the pets and eating breakfast ourselves, we loaded up the SUV and headed over to GF2's house. We were right on time at 8:30. After a quick chat with her parents it was on to GF1's and we were there at 8:45 as we planned and on the road at 8:50.
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    We checked in with DS1 and he was just getting on the road too. It was a pretty uneventful drive through the rest of South Carolina and Georgia with just a rest stop and a gas stop. The kids were watching shows and playing games on their phones. We made our traditional stop in Jacksonville at Whataburger, which we miss having grown up with them in Texas.

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    Then it was back on the road. DS1 texted GF1 to ask what time we expected to be there. We said to tell him about 4:00. He then responded "Is that with or without stops?" Oh my gosh, he has become so particular since going into the military! We were all laughing about this so she responded back "4:02 with stops!" This became a running joke for the rest of the trip when anyone asked about anything time related. We ended up making such good time since there was hardly any traffic and were entering Disney property by 3:30!
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    We pulled into Port Orleans Riverside about 3:40. DH dropped us at the front and went to go park the car.
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    DS1 was waiting in the lobby in a chair with his back to us. Of course DS2 had to come up behind him and try to scare him! I had entered an arrival time of 4:00 on our reservations and as we were saying our hellos DS1 and I received the texts that our rooms were ready. We got Alligator Bayou and connecting rooms as I had requested- perfect! I passed out everyone's magic bands which they loved.
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    Before heading to our rooms we stopped at the concierge desk to make sure we had our credit cards linked to the magic bands. This turned out to make the trip so easy and seamless. DS1 and GF1 paid for their meals and souvenirs with theirs and we paid for the four of us on ours. GF1 also made sure to get DS2 a birthday button with his name and "18" on it. Then it was back to the vehicles and off to find our rooms.


    DIS Veteran
    Aug 10, 2013
    Our Rooms

    To reach building 38 we drove around to the north side of POR and easily found parking spots in the shade. We all drug our luggage out, loaded the cases of water on, and set off to find our rooms. That was easy enough, but then we had to walk around a bit to figure the layout. What a nice surprise we found- a corner room!
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    There are a couple different styles of buildings even in AB but I really loved this one the best. This location was super easy to find when coming back from the pool, eating, and the parks.

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    Plus you couldn't beat the river view!IMG_2920 - Copy.JPG

    Even though we were on a main path and intersection it was still very quiet. There was also no noise from our upstairs neighbors. It turned out that the room assigned to DS1 and GF1 was the corner room. The connecting doors were easily propped open so it was like one big space. GF2 took the other bed in their room and DS2 took the second bed in our room. Before anyone started settling in I took pictures of all the adorable details. I absolutely loved the décor and it was so cozy!
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    Then it was time to move in. I appreciate all the room the tub/showers and the bathroom counters and underneath have- because between the six of us we had a lot of stuff! DH, DS2, and I brought hangers from home but the other three didn't. Between the two rooms there were enough hangers for their clothes though. There are also plenty of drawers under the murphy beds.

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    There was also plenty of room to stow luggage and have our days packs. I used the mirror and table as my vanity every morning while the guys got ready. The guys and I shared the bathroom in our room and we let the two girls have the other bathroom. While I do prefer the sliding doors between the bathroom and bedroom areas at Coronado Springs, the curtains here do give enough privacy.
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    We originally planned that if we didn't get connecting rooms GF2 could sleep on the murphy bed. GF1, who is 5'9 said she has slept on one before and been fine. I'm 5'6 and I tried it out and decided I would also be fine sleeping on it- it was surprisingly comfortable!
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    Besides, who wouldn't want to sleep next to Louis?
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  • DLo

    DIS Veteran
    Aug 14, 2006
    Hopping over from your link in the POR thread. Looks like a good start. Looking forward to reading more


    DIS Veteran
    Aug 10, 2013
    First Night Dinner

    After getting settled into our rooms and relaxing a bit, we headed over to the main building for dinner.
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    It was a quick easy walk along the river. Since we were early we stopped in the gift shop to look around. Found these adorable ears that I was tempted to get for DS2 and GF1 who will be graduating in Dec!
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    At 6:15 we checked in at Boatwright's and only waited about 2 minutes for our table.
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    DH, DS2, and I ate here on our last trip and so did DS! and GF1. They all requested it again, especially since we were already staying at POR. In my opinion it's very underrated. Nice atmosphere (we were seated in a quiet corner), great service (our waitress was very friendly and welcoming, chatting about where we were from and throughout the meal, but not in an annoying way), our meals came quickly (the CM who brought the food out was so funny), and the portions were big and very tasty.
    DS1 had the Big Easy- a NY strip steak with crawfish mac & cheese. He devoured every bite and especially liked the mac & cheese.
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    DH and DS2 had the Turbodog bbq ribs. DH doesn't like coleslaw so he asked for extra fries. They both really love this meal but couldn't finish.
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    DS1 had some of theirs. We have called him "The Inhaler" since he was a baby. He is like a bottomless pit, and it's even worse now that he's in the military and working out all the time. As I predicted, since it was so hot on this trip all of us had less of an appetite than normal- except him!
    GF1 got the jambalaya, which I had before, and she really enjoyed it. The size is deceiving because it doesn't look like much but is very filling.
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    GF2 is not a very adventurous eater. Actually, she hasn't been exposed to a lot of different foods growing up, so her tastes are more basic. She ordered the Nashville Hot chicken and subbed mac & cheese for the collard greens. The chicken was a bit spicy for her taste so she mainly ate the chicken without the coating. I tried the coating and admit it was pretty spicy. Overall she enjoyed her meal though.
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    I got the crawfish etouffee and it was delicious! Wonderful seasoning and a large portion- not too much rice but it was perfectly cooked. I was full but kept eating because it was so good!
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    When we were all done it was easy to just split the ticket each time between DS1/GF1 and the other four. Every time the CM's were very accommodating. It also made it easier to tip at places we wanted to add extra. Because we were a group of six we automatically had 18% tip added. At first DH and I worried that we'd get less than average service because they knew they'd be getting at least 18%. This wasn't the case any place we dined this trip.
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    DIS Veteran
    Aug 10, 2013
    Last thing first night

    After dinner we went to the food court to get our refillable mugs. I personally think they're worth getting each time because we use them for breakfast, when coming back from the parks at night, and when visiting other resorts. I was sad to see there are only 4 colors right now- I could have sworn there used to be 5 or 6. GF1 got purple since it's one of her school colors. DH and DS2 got blue. GF2 got red since it's her favorite color and DS1 did too. I got pink since I don't have that color.

    We needed to go to a park to activate our military tickets. They were already linked to our magic bands but you still have to go to guest relations and show id to activate them so you can get into the parks. GF1 had a test she had to take for an online class, plus she already has an AP, so we left her to some peace and quiet and headed to the bus stop. First one to pull up was to MK so we hopped on. It was about 7:45 and not crowded at all.
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    When we got there we realized that even to go to guest relations you still have to go through security check and metal detector. Oops- DH wasn't thinking and left his pocket knife in his shorts. Hoping we could just take his magic band the rest of us went through security while he waited back on a bench by Bay Lake.

    Once in line it went by pretty quick. There was one family in front of us that we could hear pleading with the CM at the window. It was a dad, 2 elementary aged boys, and grandma. He was saying it was their last night, he'd gotten sick another day from Mission: Space, and they just wanted to get in MK to grab a bite to eat and see the fireworks. Apparently they didn't have park hoppers and thought they'd just take pity on him. He was repeating what the CM said to grandma and couldn't believe it would be an extra $70 each to get in. (I almost butt in and suggested them hopping on the monorail to Poly or Contemporary to eat and watch the fireworks.) After they finally went away disgruntled it was our turn. It's an even quicker process than what we did the last two times. The CM checked our military id's, typed in a few things, scanned each magic band, and we were on our way!

    We met back up with DH who had enjoyed people watching. We hopped back on a bus to POR. On our way back to our room we saw a bunny! We took this as a lucky sign. On our trip in 2010 at Coronado Springs we kept seeing a bunny outside our building and named him the 6B Bunny. I used the picture I took of him for making good luck cards for the boys for band, baseball, and anything else I needed to wish them luck for and it became a family joke. He really must have been lucky because this was probably one of the best trips ever!
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    By the time we got back GF1 was done with her test. We all went to bed at a decent time so we could get up early the next morning for our breakfast adr to celebrate DS2's 18th birthday!
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  • suse66

    Mickey Bars should be a daily food group!
    Sep 3, 2008
    Awesome start to your report! I am all caught up and looking forward to reading more!


    DIS Veteran
    Jul 1, 2008
    Great detailed report and fantastic photos.
    Lovely to include both GF.
    Booked to stay at POR in 2019 so loving all the information.


    DIS Veteran
    Aug 10, 2013
    DS2's 18th birthday!

    I woke up with no alarm this morning a little sad- my baby boy is 18 now! Where did the time go? I started getting ready and eventually everyone else got up and ready too. I think the promise of an all you can eat breakfast helped with that! Our adr was for 8:30 and we were at the bus stop by 7:45. It was already getting steamy outside.
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    As you can see everyone is wearing pin lanyards. We all like collecting and trading, but this trip we really got into it. DS1 got GF1 her first lanyard when she was going with her parents, then in the college program she started collecting even more. GF2 didn't have a lanyard, so I found a Pooh one and a Pooh July birthday pin on eBay and we gave it to her as an early birthday present, which she loved. DS2 and I also each gave her a pin we planned to trade anyway to start with.
    The bus came within 10 minutes and we were on our way to MK. We always got seats to begin with, but then after picking up at other stops we usually ended up standing. Not a big deal, especially since I think younger kids and older adults need to be sitting.

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    Once we arrived at MK we all went through bag check except GF1 since she and DS1 were sharing a bag. This morning all of us had to go through the metal detectors too. Soon enough we were able to take the required front of the park shot.
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    As you can see from the clock it was 8:15 so we headed down Main St. towards our breakfast destination. There were people rushing to get up to the hub but we took a leisurely stroll. It was a gorgeous morning (a theme that seemed to repeat throughout the trip) and we just wanted to soak it all in.
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    I took a quick castle shot and then we kept strolling to our destination. Everyone knew where it was but we did keep the surprise from GF2 of what kind of breakfast it was.
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    We checked in at the podium outside and only waited about five minutes before being escorted inside and seated.


    DIS Veteran
    Aug 10, 2013
    Pooh and Friends

    Our waitress came to greet us almost immediately, took our drink orders, and advised us that Pooh was about to come around to us so we might want to wait before going to get our food. At this point I saw GF2's face and I thought her eyes were going to pop out of her head and her jaw would hit the floor! She hadn't noticed Pooh was around the corner from us because of the plants and she was so excited. Pooh is her favorite character so this was a great surprise for her.
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    Pooh noticed her magic band and made a big deal about it because it was decorated with him, which she loved.
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    Even though DS2 was turning 18, he still wasn't too big to get a hug from Pooh. These characters are very special to us because they were my mom's favorites growing up, she passed on the love to me (I still have my Pooh bear from when I was 2), and I passed it on the my kids. DH also loved Pooh growing up. When we were dating he got me Pooh stuff and I got him Tigger stuff. His nickname for me is Pooh Bear. Well, I do always seem to have a rumbly in my tumbly...
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    Pooh noticed DS2's birthday button and encouraged us all to sing Happy Birthday to him, which of course we did. Some of the surrounding tables joined in too.
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    Then it was time to grab some food. Somehow I didn't take any actual pictures of food at this meal. There is a great selection though. My favorite was the breakfast lasagna- OMG it was so decadent! I went back for seconds along with some other things I couldn't fit on my plate the first time.
    In between eating Tigger and Piglet stopped by too.
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    You can kind of see a selection of what everyone got to eat here. For drinks DS1 and I had coffee and orange juice, GF@ had apple juice, DH had orange juice and chocolate milk, GF2 had chocolate milk, and DS2 had orange juice. There was lots for everyone to choose from, like fresh fruit, waffles and pancakes, biscuits and gravy, bacon and sausage, yogurt and oatmeal and toppings, cereal and plenty of muffins and pastries.
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    After we were all done stuffing ourselves we just had to wait to meet Eeyore. He was so cute and I had to get a pic of DH with him.
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    DIS Veteran
    Aug 10, 2013
    Starting the Day in Adventureland and Frontierland

    After exiting Crystal Palace, we headed left and crossed the bridge to Adventureland. There were construction walls to the right. I am not sure what they're putting up there, or if they're just refurbishing.
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    On the way to our first fast pass, which wasn't available till 9:55, the kids wanted to stop in to look at pins. DS2 bought GF2 a new Pooh pin to add to her lanyard, DS1 was looking for a new lanyard but didn't find one he wanted, and DH bought us the set of Mr. and Mrs. Incredible pins- so cute!
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    The shopping stop took us just the right amount of time so we arrived at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad just as our time window opened! A quick walk through the line and it was time to board our trains. This was the first ride I rode on our last trip when I went with DS2's band and I must say it's a great way to start the day! We were all hands up, laughing the whole time and had a blast.
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    Our next fast pass wasn't until 11:05 so we had time to do some other attractions. First up was DH's favorite which is also a tie for my favorite. Sure the wait said 55 minutes, but we could tell by the way the queue was set up it was not going to be that long. Besides, it's indoors and fairly cool. Turns out it was only like 25 minutes before we were hopping on board our ships. This ride is so nostalgic for me as it was one of my parents' and brother's favorite rides too, and then I got to introduce that love to my family. To now be getting to ride with their GF's is special too.
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    After our adventures with Captain Jack Sparrow we still had some time so decided to take in a show. GF2 had never seen it before so we knew she needed to at least once. This one isn't a must do for us, but it is fun if you have time. By the end we had her singing along with us.
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    Our time window for our 11:05 fast pass was now open so we headed over to the Laughing Place. We had all but GF1 brought rain jackets and decided to wear them except DH, though they don't really help much, but that's part of the fun of Splash Mountain! Here's our before:
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    During (we tried to coordinate "jazz hands" with front row going left, middle row going right, and back row going up- we need a little work!) :

    and after:
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    Thankfully there are restrooms when you exit this ride so we went in and dried off a bit before heading back into the park.
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    DIS Veteran
    Aug 10, 2013
    Lunch at Be Our Guest

    We still had some time before our lunch adr at 1:10 so we decided to hop on board the WDW railroad and take a lap around the park. It was relaxing and a nice way to dry off and stay cool. We went all the way around and then got off at Fantasyland. There was only a 5 minute wait so we took in a show at Mickey's Philharmagic. GF2 hadn't seen it before and really enjoyed it. When we came out it was the perfect time to check in at BOG. While heading across the bridge to the castle DH had me take a silly picture.
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    It's nice that they give you menus to look at before you go in. We've been for dinner before and DS1 and GF1 have been for breakfast. Once we got inside the line was moving really slowly. When we got up closer to the kiosks to order we found out why- there had been a group of 18 and a group of 20 who were taking a long time to decide and each individual person was using a kiosk. I knew we could have pre-ordered on the app but wanted to wait till we got there to see how hungry everyone would be. We placed our orders then chose a big table in the main dining hall. After getting our drinks at the self-service stations and while we were waiting for our food DS2 took GF2 to look at the other rooms.
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    Soon enough a CM was bringing a cart to our table with our food.
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    GF2, DS1, and DH got the French dip sandwich and DS2 got the ham and cheese.
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    GF1 and I got the turkey sandwich.

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    Everyone liked their food but it was a lot. I think this trip we weren't as hungry as we normally are because of the heat. GF2 did say her roast beef was a little fattier that she likes, and that was one reason I didn't try it because I am really picky about fat on meat.
    Each couple also got a cupcake to split. The kids got the Master's cupcake- with the gray stuff

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    and DH and I got the triple chocolate cupcake.
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    These are very rich so I'm glad we decided to split, but they were delicious!
    Although the food is good and atmosphere is cool, for a quick sit down I'd probably pick other places in the future because of the need for an adr and the wait still being long. The food itself is not enough to bring me running back.
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