And all at once, everything was different. Literally. *WDW NYE 2019 TR* Updated 4/11x2*COMPLETE*

petals

Irish Princess because Cinderella said so!
Joined
May 18, 2010

I really wanted to go see if they had any Muppet Babies stuff in the store, and they DID!! I got so excited my eyes crossed, LOL



Fozzie Bear is my favorite!!!


Fozzie came home with me... he kind of just jumped in to my arms and wouldn't leave :confused3

Your New Years Eve sounds very calm and not busy at all. You'd think more people would be in the resorts as well.
 

Lane308

Earning My Ears
Joined
Mar 21, 2016
Loving your recap! We are considering a trip around Jan 1, 2020 and I’m nervous about crowds....but it’s truly the best time for our family to go. You’re definitely making it look not only doable but lovely! Enjoying your tales and pics! :)
 
  • GrantDB

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 20, 2018
    Having fun reading this, can't wait to hear about the rest of the tour.

    Ive got Mama Melrose down in my itinerary for our DHS day, I'm 99% certain I'll be having the strip steak with mac, looks great!

    And we might go to a Trader Sams after Ohana for a cheeky drink, why not!
     

    xlsm

    Snow White
    Joined
    Oct 19, 2013
    WOW! What an amazing gift!



    HA! I definitely did not see that when we were there, that is hilarious!

    Can't wait to read more!
    I couldn't believe he'd even offer, I was blown away by the generosity!!
    That Wheezy box cracked me up, LOL!! I feel like it's a place that every time we go we are going to see something new, which I love!

    I’m so glad you had a nice NYE, much better plan than driving around!

    I want to visit Trader Sam’s one of these times, Andi and I peeked in there but it was after a certain time and Andi couldn’t sit in there. The CM was super nice and let us have a look around. I want a drink and souvenir cup, someday!

    I hope the vibe is good with your Plaid, not sure if it is yet? Glad you got to enjoy SDD, love all your pictures of the toys and unique findings while waiting in line!

    How nice to have the “sneak entrance” and exits in the parks, sure saves time, miss the Disney Express transportation, bring it back!!
    It was such a nice night this time around!!
    I tried to avoid any spoilers for Trader Sam's (which was HARD, I was proud of my willpower!), so I only had a vague idea of what to expect. It was so fun, I hope you get to go soon!

    I was so nervous about how the rest of our Plaid day would go, but it does get better!!

    We never got to use the Disney Express vans, and I was so disappointed! I guess they weren't making much money on it, which surprises me. Maybe they just needed to market it better. I'd love to see it come back.



    When I went at the end of October with my mom, she ordered the Polynesian Pearl too and they didn’t have the pearl then either!! She was so disappointed and I felt so bad, I instantly ordered it for her on eBay while sitting in Trader Sam’s (only about $15, the shrunken heads go for like $60 or something similarly insane). I’m thinking they’re just not going to restock it and probably discontinue the drink :sad1:
    Aw, I'm glad you were able to find one for her!! They told us its one of the most popular drinks, so hopefully they won't discontinue the drink.

    We love the Poly!!! It's mine and the boys new favorite resort. I think C is a little disappointed that it bumped AKV. I told him AKV is definitely number 2. I would love it if we could combine Poly rooms with the AKV animals. Then we'd be set.

    OMG! We loved SDD too. We rode it for the first time last week.

    Can't wait to read more about this day!
    I love AKL, but having to rely on the buses alone is what keeps me from making it my number one. Wilderness Lodge will always hold that top spot for me, but the Poly is creeping up the list and tied with AK at number two.

    I like booking reservations so I usually have some, but usually we end up changing them last minute based on what we want to do once we're there so I just kind of roll with that :rotfl: It's easy to come up with alternate ideas somewhere where you're familiar with all the food offerings so that helps too.

    I have to send you this link to a comedy article I read that was about the movie that probably isn't super appropriate for Disboards :rotfl: I'll send it to you tomorrow.

    Aw oh no!

    Ooo I like this picture!

    So creepy. I just picture him studying pictures of your family and repeating your names to himself the night before he came to greet you. :rotfl:
    I have already caved and made a Yak and Yeti lunch (that I'm already thinking is going to get cut, like always, but one day I swear I will eat there). And I made Rivers of Light Dessert Party reservations b/c Matt wants to see it. I have no idea what we'll actually end up doing , LOL

    Hahaha!! I have no idea how he really did know, but that's all I could think of :rotfl:

    The Polynesian is perfect for lounging around and relaxing. And I feel like if you're going to stay there, then you should definitely take advantages of all the cool surroundings.

    How cool to be gifted a VIP for the day! I'm looking forward to seeing if you guys managed to hit all four parks in the one day.

    Oh my goodness, I laughed out loud at the "don't get wet" message for the bath toy. Now I can't wait to check out TSL for myself. You're building up my anticipation with this TR!
    That is definitely true, and I was surprised at how I was able to really feel isolated there, even though we were so close to the Magic Kingdom.

    I mean, how do you top that as a gift, right? It was a fun day!

    Yay, I'm glad!! I think TSL is adorable.

    I'm obsessed with the Muppet Babies! I loved the show as a kid and am so happy it's back. I bought the Kermit plush from that same plush line :rotfl:

    Look at all those yummy Kaki Goris!

    Great view of the fireworks- both times! Sounds like your NYE was a sucess- and no transportation issues!

    Sounds like a good start to your afternoon with Christopher. Hopefully he acted a little less weird as the day went on! :rotfl2:
    Meeee too!!! I may or may not have watched old episodes on Youtube before :rolleyes1 I'm a little surprised I didn't cave and buy the Fozzie, to be honest :rotfl:

    I was really excited to see the fireworks from the CR and the Poly on the same night. It was nice to have a little pocket of calm on what could have been an insane night.

    Haha, yes, it gets better as the day goes on!!

    That is a great shot! And how can you pass up an empty pool? Right?


    I hope that isn't foreshadowing...


    Cute! Love it.
    We felt more like VIPs having the pool to ourselves than having our guide in the parks, I think!

    Welllll....unfortunately yes. No other free drink/snack opportunities, which was weird to me, you'd think it would be timed differently!



    Too bad!

    You always need more ears!

    Exactly what I would order!

    This looks yummy too!

    Just going out to clean my car off before heading to work. Lots of snow in southern Ontario!

    I'll have to try the milk topping this year.

    Much better!!

    Ummm, that's the whole order????

    Like something you'd make for a toddler!

    Perfect!

    You couldn't have had a better location!

    Nothing like an Oasis pool morning!

    I'll be back later to catch up on your VIP experience!
    I love that you are here and backing up my ear obsession, thank you!! :rotfl::rotfl: I want to find a cute way to display them, but at this point I'd need a really big wall!!

    It was such a good salad, I think about it all the time!

    The milk topping really makes the Kaki Gori special, I think!

    Haha, yes! Two tiny crab cakes :sad2: And the plating of the steaks was just silly and sloppy

    It was a great way to start the day for sure!!

    Sounds like a decent NYE! I love your fireworks views, both times!

    I want to stay at the Poly SO BAD! I will get there one day, I just know it! I feel like I would go the relaxing route if I ever did.

    What a nice gift from your DH's boss! I can't wait to hear about the rest of your day with "your guide" LOL.
    It was definitely a better NYE than ours the year before. We were happy to keep it low key this time, and not go into a park in the evening.

    It really was a great resort from relaxing!!

    We were very excited to get a guide for the day, b/c it's not something we'd do on our own (with a few exceptions), b/c it isn't how I'd normally tour, but we couldn't turn down the experience.

    following... sorry Im late!
    You're not late, there's a lot more to come!! Welcome!!

    Fozzie came home with me... he kind of just jumped in to my arms and wouldn't leave :confused3

    Your New Years Eve sounds very calm and not busy at all. You'd think more people would be in the resorts as well.
    Aw, I'm really surprised he didn't come home with me...he's so cute!!

    We were very glad to have a calm NYE - last year was crazy, so we really appreciated a change of pace this time around.

    Loving your recap! We are considering a trip around Jan 1, 2020 and I’m nervous about crowds....but it’s truly the best time for our family to go. You’re definitely making it look not only doable but lovely! Enjoying your tales and pics! :)
    Thank you!! It's definitely doable! We learned a lot by going the year before as well, and it helped us figure out how we wanted this year to go differently. Just keep in mind you'll have Galaxy's Edge crowds plus NYE crowds, and make plans to bail if something gets too crazy - you'll be fine!!

    Having fun reading this, can't wait to hear about the rest of the tour.

    Ive got Mama Melrose down in my itinerary for our DHS day, I'm 99% certain I'll be having the strip steak with mac, looks great!

    And we might go to a Trader Sams after Ohana for a cheeky drink, why not!
    Thank you!! It was a fun trip, so I'm glad that's coming through in the report!!

    I'm with you, that's what I thought I was going to order too. It was definitely good...at least the few bites I was able to snag from the kids!

    Trader Sam's is SO FUN!! Definitely go if you get the chance
     
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    cinderaimee

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 26, 2016
    Just finding your report and loving it! So excited to hear how the rest of your day with the VIP guide goes!
     

    Cloe Colton

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 6, 2018
    Just joining in!

    I recently told DH that he should never in a million years let me book at NYE week trip to WDW but I think after reading your experience its totally doable while staying at the Poly! I might have to look into renting some DVC points for 2020 :rotfl:

    Im glad you loved the Snow White dinner too! DH and I did it on their second day of being open and I just loved it! I can't wait to go back in March with my Mom and sister! I did find the shrimp bland but I honestly didn't realize there was more of the sauce in the bottom of the jar! Thats good to know!

    And wow! How awesome to be gifted a VIP guide! That seems like such a cool thing to experience and was probably cool to be using it on such a busy day!
     
  • Tracy161

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 4, 2006
    I'm finally all caught up! Wow, what a wonderful NYE! Can't wait to hear more about your day with "your buddy" :laughing:
     

    xlsm

    Snow White
    Joined
    Oct 19, 2013
    Just finding your report and loving it! So excited to hear how the rest of your day with the VIP guide goes!
    Welcome and thank you!! The day really picks up as we go along...I think DHS as our first park was just all of us getting to know each other, and we end up having a lot of fun!!

    Just joining in!

    I recently told DH that he should never in a million years let me book at NYE week trip to WDW but I think after reading your experience its totally doable while staying at the Poly! I might have to look into renting some DVC points for 2020 :rotfl:

    Im glad you loved the Snow White dinner too! DH and I did it on their second day of being open and I just loved it! I can't wait to go back in March with my Mom and sister! I did find the shrimp bland but I honestly didn't realize there was more of the sauce in the bottom of the jar! Thats good to know!

    And wow! How awesome to be gifted a VIP guide! That seems like such a cool thing to experience and was probably cool to be using it on such a busy day!
    Welcome!!

    Yes!! Being at the Polynesian made all the difference in this trip. That, combined with our experience from the previous NYE as well. We knew what to avoid, and how much easy transportation options would be even more of a benefit than on a "regular" trip.

    Hopefully when you go back to Artist Point with your mom and sister you can find the sauce at the bottom of the shrimp jar! I do not understand why they seemed to have just put the plain shrimp on TOP of the sauce, b/c you naturally reach in and just grab the shrimpy by the tail, which makes you miss out. Maybe they should rethink that bit of plating!!

    I was so excited for the opportunity of the guide, but at first I kind of wanted to decline the offer, I had our day all planned out, and we had to cancel a bunch of things to rearrange our days. But once I calmed down about my plans being disrupted, LOL, I warmed up to the idea of a stranger dragging us around :rotfl: I ended up getting really attached to our guide, and missed having him when he was gone. I was really surprised to feel that way, honestly!

    I'm finally all caught up! Wow, what a wonderful NYE! Can't wait to hear more about your day with "your buddy" :laughing:
    It was such a nice NYE!! I couldn't have asked for anything better.

    LOL, most of the time he rode the rides with us, but when he didn't and waited for us outside, I'd be scanning the crowd looking for him and saying, 'where's our buddy? where's our buddy??' or in the crowds I'd tell Leyton stuff like, "keep up with our buddy! don't lose our buddy!" It was like an elementary school field trip or something :rotfl::rotfl::rotfl:I felt so dumb, not sure why that was the particular word was my choice!
     

    xlsm

    Snow White
    Joined
    Oct 19, 2013
    Good morning!!

    I hope this weekend has been kind to all of you. Yesterday was crazy here, so I am happy to have a quiet low key morning - DH ran to the office to work on a big project for tomorrow and the kids are still sleeping. That gives me some snuggle time with my dogs and I can watch Investigation Discovery!!



    We've been binge watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, can you tell?? :rotfl:

    Ok, ok, let's move along...we've got more Disney to talk about!!

    Chapter Five Part Two

    There will be a LOT of text in this update again, and it is very long - just so you're aware. We were moving fast and I wasn't worrying about pictures too much!!

    So, we had finished up at Hollywood Studios and were back in the Yukon and discussing our next stop. We decided on Animal Kingdom, then Epcot, and then our Must Do finish at Magic Kingdom.

    This is where we all started feeling more comfortable as a group, I think. While we were at DHS, I think he was really just trying to get a feel for us, our personalities, whether or not we had any sense of fun or humor, etc...

    I was very honest with him from the beginning - That I was not initially thrilled to give up my carefully constructed daily plans. We had to shift about three days around to make this work and still get the park time we wanted, and it caused us to give up several dining reservations that we didn't really want to. But on the other hand, I was very, very excited to have him with us to get us to all four parks in one day AND to get some behind-the-scenes looks as we drove up to the parks.

    We had decided to only do the two rides in Pandora, so our visit to AK would be quite short. The kids had never seen Pandora, DH had never ridden either ride, and I had never been on Na'vi River Journey, so I was looking forward to sharing all of that with my family. And our buddy :rotfl:

    We parked behind Pandora and Christopher was surprised that there wasn't a lot of open parking, the lot back there was pretty full. As we walked from the car to the secret entrance, we got to see a lot of backstage behind the ride buildings. The boys both commented that it reminded them of Jurassic Park. I said don't be too surprised if that's what they're actually working on back there!!

    Our first ride was Na'vi River Journey:


    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    That's all you get. Sunglare and C's hat!!

    I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this ride, and I look forward to riding again. One of my favorite things was when C would ride with us, he would tell us details about the rides and show us hidden Mickey locations. But the best thing? He truly loved being on these rides and having these experiences, even though he did them almost every day. That's when I really started feeling a strong appreciation for him, when I realized he genuinely had a passion for his job, and that it was special to him.

    We didn't spend any time exploring, but I did get this picture before we swooped off on Flight of Passage

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    Those are literally the only pictures I have of our time in AK!!

    Everyone enjoyed FOP, but not as much as I expected them too. Even me. I don't remember that much water spraying in my face?? And b/c X was already kind of stuffed up and not feeling great, he was REALLY not feeling very well afterward. His eyes were puffy and he was having a lot of sinus pressure, and was very tired. I knew there was no way he was going to make it at our pace for the rest of the day.

    When we got back in the Yukon (or Tahoe, or whatever big SUV thing we were in - it was one of the two), I asked him if he wanted to go back to the resort once we got to Epcot, and he reluctantly said yes. C asked if I wanted him to drop us off at Epcot and run X back to the Polynesian, but I said no, he'd be fine taking the monorail back by himself. I knew that was something he wanted to do anyway - have some more freedom on this trip.

    **I think when we were backstage at Animal Kingdom is when we saw the building where Disney tests exterior building materials, like roofing and signage, the stuff that looks like thatch, etc...They take all of their outdoor materials and keep them in one spot outside to watch how long it takes them to begin deteriorating, fading, etc, so they know when they need to repair or replace, or what to keep/stop using. It may have been outside of Epcot, but I'm fuzzy on this detail, since we moved so quickly. But either way, we did see the building where they do this at some point!! It was one of the most fascinating things for me and DH**

    Our Epcot plan was to ride Test Track and Soarin'.

    When we got to Epcot, we parked behind Test Track, and got so see the garage where they worked on the cars. Most of it DH and I had seen the previous New Year's Eve when they had an overflow walkway open behing Mexico and TT to help guests get out of the park easier, but it was still cool to see again...and in daylight this time!! Before we parked, he did take us on a loop that showed off the backs of some of the WS pavilions, and the new space themed restaurant. I did find that I knew some proposed details that he did not, like how there would be no windows, only screens projecting space scenes.

    As soon as we got on stage, I reminded X what he needed to do once he got to the TTC, and told him to text me when he was at the TTC and then again when he was back in the room.

    The rest of us followed C through the FP line for Test Track!

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    It was just a liiiittttlllee crowded.

    C did ask us if we *had* to go to the car design room, and L said yes. He loves that part. Unfortunately that made our wait longer, but not terrible.

    L and I designed this:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    and DH and C came up with this (well, mostly DH)

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    C decided to skip riding so the three of us could sit together in one row

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    I have no idea what we're talking about, but we look like we're having fun!!

    We exited and I immediately began scanning the area for Our Buddy :rotfl2:, as I affectionately began referring to him. He took us through a back exit and told him to wait for a second by a door, while he went through a different one. He left and then threw open the other and jumped through it, scaring us. Ok, ok, so he DOES have a personality!!

    All of us were getting thirsty and L wanted a snack, so we drove around to the other side of the park to Soarin'. We got to see the construction on the Ratatouille ride, and some of the CM buildings. The main highlight?? We got to see the Epcot Christmas tree in pieces backstage!! It was taken apart in sections and not being able to take pictures nearly killed me :faint::faint:

    We parked behind The Land building, and came in through a backdoor near the greenhouses. We got to see inside some of the rear greenhouses, and saw some people on a Behind the Seeds tour. Actually, we walked THROUGH the group on the Behind the Seeds tour. Sorry, guys!!

    We went to Sunshine Seasons to get some waters, and L picked up an apple (which he declared one of the best apples he's ever had - Disney has magical apples, I guess!! I said ok, just don't take any from old ladies in black cloaks, please!!). I ran to the restroom and then we met back up and through the FP line to ride Soarin'.

    Thanks to C, we got the best row and center location. Every time I ride and enjoy Soarin', I remember how much I talked about NOT understanding the Soarin' love the first time I rode in 2014!! It was still Soarin' over California at that time, and I was so underwhelmed. I did not get the big deal at all!! We didn't ride again until we were at California Adventure in 2016, and we saw the new (current) version the second day it had been open. Again, eh. I even had us skip it on our December 2016 trip in favor of Frozen. THEN on my solo trip in May 2017, I rode it like four times and became obsessed. I have no idea why, but now I hate the thought of missing it, it makes me so happy!!

    By this point in the day we were all fairly comfortable together and I was enjoying having C with us. We all talked pretty much constantly as we left Epcot and got back in the SUV to go to the Magic Kingdom. Mostly we talked and asked about each other's favorite things: rides, shows, restaurants, snacks, etc...And we learned that C was a huge Star Wars fan (that's an understatement, but I won't share all his comments, LOL), and had got to guide Warwick Davis before.

    L asked him if he got to skip lines when he was in the parks regularly, and not working, which of course got a no. But he and his wife still visited quite a bit. She also works for Disney, but in an office building. I asked if he ever got tired of it all, or took some of it for granted, b/c I was so fascinated and excited to see all of the backstage stuff, and got a glimpse of how things worked and what went on. He said sometimes, yes, like the construction of a parking area, or just general construction, but things like watching Ratatouille come together, or the new lands, no, he doesn't get tired of that. Then he told us a story about how a few nights before, one of his groups was in the vip Illuminations area, and he felt a tap on his shoulder. The woman who had helped train him for this particular job was there - her husband had gifted HER a guide for the day (guides getting guides!! Crazy!!) She hugged him as the fireworks were going off and said, "Hey. We get to WORK here." And I honestly got tears in my eyes, that after so many years they still felt the magic.

    I think that particular story and that moment is when I really was sold on this whole experience, because I knew he was being genuine.

    When we arrived at the Magic Kingdom, we parked kind of behind Tomorrowland Terrace, and came in from the area that's often used as a bypass area, or where you go when you get to the Halloween or Christmas parties and they have the candy bags and photo ops set up.

    I did mention that this was our first entrance to MK of the trip, and he asked if I was ok coming in at the side, or if I wanted the "walking down Main Street" experience, which I thought was sweet. I told him I was fine coming in at the side.

    Hello, Gorgeous!!

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    The owner of DH's company had told us the only thing he wanted from us was a picture of us with C, so we used this beautiful sunset time of day for that! C grabbed one of the security officers and asked him to take the photo for us

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    When we set up this day, I originally told Signature Services that we at least wanted to do the rides we had FPs set up for: SDMT, Peter Pan, and Splash. Once we got there, I did tell C that we could skip SDMT if we needed to, and Peter Pan, but he was determined to get us on our entire ride list of those three plus Big Thunder, Pirates, and Haunted Mansion.

    We decided to start with Splash Mountain, so we made a left at the castle and started heading that way.

    I ran ahead of them so I could take this picture without feeling like I was holding us up if I paused:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    This is the lock screen on my phone, I love it!

    It was such a pretty time of day as we made our way through Frontierland

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    there was a snack cart kind on the right by the water that C said had amazing chicken and bacon skewers (two separate skewers, not chicken and bacon together), and the guys made a decision to stop back by there when we were finished with our Frontierland rides.

    We cruised through the FP line for Splash Mountain. C didn't ride with us...can't say I blame him, I wouldn't want to get that outfit wet!!

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

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    This picture cracks me up!! I had my hands up until I felt my ears slipping and then grabbed them, and L looks like he's holding his breath :rotfl:

    We survived our trip to the Laughin' Place and as soon as we were out of our log I was back in "where's our buddy?" mode. He was waiting for us outside of the gift shop. Once we were back together, it was off to the Wildest Ride in the Wilderness!!

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    The FP line was actually pretty backed up and we had a bit of a wait. It was another opportunity to chat with C. I learned that we had both been Disney Store CMs, and we shared some stories from that. And somehow we got on the subject of high school, and mascots?? I can't remember how we managed to get to that, LOL!! But he then mentioned that for his senior picture in the yearbook, underneath one of his goals was to work at Disney World!! I laughed b/c he said, "I didn't even have the nomenclature right, I should have said Walt Disney World", and it struck me so funny b/c I'd only ever heard Disney Parks Blog Mom Panel hopefuls ever refer to proper nomenclature before :rotfl::rotfl:

    He said every now and then random people from high school would contact him on Facebook to ask if he could get them in for free or on the cheap. Like people he hadn't even spoken to in years, or even all that much when they were IN school together, and he said he'd just tell them to check AAA or something. I told him my dad deals with the same type of thing. He's a musician and people he hasn't seen in years will ask for free tickets to shows all the time.

    So here's where pictures slow down again (i know, i know, they'd barely picked up!!), but I know from this shot:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    that Pirates was up next!!

    Oh, and also from this little gem:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    Just wait, it gets better, lol!!

    After Pirates we took the walkthrough from Adventureland back to Frontierland, and I *think* this is when DH and L stopped for those bacon and chicken skewers I mentioned earlier. They both liked them! I have pics but they're blurry and weird, so just picture bacon on a stick and chicken on a stick.

    Up next was Haunted Mansion. Behold the glorious proof:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    I chose to ride with Christopher on this one. Mainly if we were on double rider rides he'd sit with L, but I claimed him for this.

    Haunted Mansion was one of our best experiences with him as our guide, and one of our favorites. We skipped both the regular line AND the FP line, and came in through a staff entrance. Even the staff hallway was themed!! We came out inside and immediately walked into the stretching room. C was standing by me, then the lights went out, and he had moved behind us and scared us again :scared1::scared1: Another bonus was we got to skip the crushing part of the line, and went behind all that and the CM let us through a little chained entrance and directly onto the moving walkway to our Doombuggie. This definitely felt pretty VIP!!

    I loved riding with him b/c he was pointing out all kinds of stuff I'd never noticed, and we just talked. I asked if he'd ever seen any of the rides with lights on, and he said just Space Mountain and a couple of others, never HM. We talked about what we wanted to see in HM with lights on, and I said there was part of me that was afraid it would ruin things for me. He said, no, I think you'd probably love every second of it. He's not wrong!! We ended up being very similar people - liking things to run efficiently (which is why I was liking our pacing and path through the parks!!), keeping to a schedule, detail oriented, etc. I began getting very attached to him and feeling like he was really part of our family, and I was appreciative of his honest and genuine love of the parks and Disney in general.

    It was getting dark, and we were closer to HEA time - there was some comfort in knowing we had a designated spot ready for us and we could still do some rides before it began. Peter Pan was up next.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    This was another that even with the FP line we had a bit of a wait, and he filled us in on some hidden Mickeys to look for. L rode with C this time, so he got more inside scoop that me and DH.

    After flying over London and through Neverland, we had just enough time for one more thing - and C was determined to get all of the rides off our checklist!!

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    :rotfl2::rotfl2:

    See?? I told you he ended up having personality!!

    Once we were off Mine Train we headed up to our Happily Ever After viewing area. It was a great spot!!

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    The area wasn't very crowded, and we were able to lean up against the fence railing. One of the things we'd asked C during the day was what kind of groups he ended up getting, first timers, repeats, what? He said a few first timers, but mostly groups or families that he's had several times over the years. In fact, there was a group there in the HEA area with us that he's had every year for like seven years or something, and b/c he was with us it was the FIRST TIME he hadn't been their guide! They came over to say hello to him and he has literally watched their son grow up.

    So, the guy who had gifted us this day with C, decided to come down at the last minute and C had just found out he'd be with them the next day and again a couple days later. He said they take pictures every year, and he has watched those kids grow up too. What a cool thing that must be!! To be a part of so many other families. I'm telling you, this is my new Disney dream job!!

    Our time with C ended at 8:00, right as HEA was getting started. He looked over at me and said, "so was it worth it? Did you have a good day? Look at that smile, that's a good sign!" I assured him that yes, it was definitely a good day, and thanked him for everything. He gave me a hug, told L and DH goodbye, told us to look for him over the next couple of days b/c he'd be with DH's boss, and that was it. He was gone, and I was surprised to feel sad!! I was going to miss our buddy!!

    One thing you can't escape, even in the VIP area, is kids on shoulders...as I'd learn once HEA began:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    **Oh, a side note - while we were waiting for HEA to begin, the other VIP guides were getting so exasperated b/c so many people were just brazenly climbing over our roped off area and trying to stand there for the show, and they kept having to kick them out :rotfl: **

    Here are a couple shots from HEA:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/


    As you can imagine, the crowd on New Year's Day was large, so we just hung back in the safety of our roped off zone and waited for things to clear out a bit. We were STARVING, so once we left our safe space we headed to Casey's.

    Look at all the people:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    and that's after I declared it clear enough to move!

    I did online order for Casey's and we sent L to find a table while I helped DH pick up the food

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    None of it looks particularly appetizing, but I can assure you it was good!! And yeah, I have mayo on my fries!! I did pick off the bacon from my mac and cheese, it was kind of chewy and :crazy2:

    We ate, half-heartedly watched Once Upon a Time through the trees, took a quick picture of the Christmas tree

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    and made our way out and onto the monorail back to the Poly.

    Once we got back, I went to Boutiki to pick up some crazily overpriced makeup remover wipes (they only had the H20 brand, and they were like, $25, but I was desperate) and DH and L went to get cupcakes from Captain Cooks. We all had the Millennial Pink cupcake, which was vanilla with *i think* passion fruit filling

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/89161658@N04/

    It was really good!! (except for the minnie ears, I threw those away)

    Oh, and no, I did not forget about X during our daily adventures. He successfully made it to the TTC and walked back to our room, where he slept most of the day. He did text at one point to ask how to buy food (he just needed the pin number). He had dinner at Captain Cook's, and also had a millennial pink cupcake, then he came back to the room and slept some more.

    He already sounded about 100 times better than he had in the afternoon, so even though we were sad he wasn't with us (and he was VERY disappointed to miss the MK rides), going back and resting was definitely the best thing for him that day.

    That's it!! That was our VIP day!! I'm sorry if it wasn't as exciting as anyone had hoped, we really moved through the parks very quickly, and spent our extra time in the car or waiting just talking to C and learning about his time working for Disney and just getting to know each other.

    Would I do VIP again? Probably not the way we did it on this day. Only b/c it's not how I like to tour. But, I would not say no if we were offered this chance again by DH's boss, and if C was our guide.
    I would book it ourselves if we were with a large group OR for the opening of Galaxy's Edge. We've already talked about that, honestly! And we'd definitely request C, b/c he's one of the most hardcore Star Wars fans I've ever met!!

    Up next...a full day at Epcot, TOTALLY switched around from all original plans!!

    Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, and I'll be back later this week!!
     

    StarWarsMomofGirls!

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 16, 2015
    We've been binge watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, can you tell?? :rotfl:
    I need to watch this... We are rewatching Friends now, but maybe I will put this on the binge list next!

    e parked behind Pandora and Christopher was surprised that there wasn't a lot of open parking, the lot back there was pretty full. As we walked from the car to the secret entrance, we got to see a lot of backstage behind the ride buildings. The boys both commented that it reminded them of Jurassic Park. I said don't be too surprised if that's what they're actually working on back there!!
    Ha! Did it look like they were building stuff?

    His eyes were puffy and he was having a lot of sinus pressure, and was very tired. I knew there was no way he was going to make it at our pace for the rest of the day.
    Poor guy. It was nice that C offered to drop him off.

    I knew that was something he wanted to do anyway - have some more freedom on this trip.
    I can see Morgan and Gwen wanting this as well, eventually.

    As soon as we got on stage, I reminded X what he needed to do once he got to the TTC, and told him to text me when he was at the TTC and then again when he was back in the room.

    The rest of us followed C through the FP line for Test Track!
    I love that you need to tell him where to go. I feel like I would need to do the same for the girls but at the same time they should know where to go.

    He left and then threw open the other and jumped through it, scaring us. Ok, ok, so he DOES have a personality!!
    That is hilarious!

    Thanks to C, we got the best row and center location.
    Of course!!!! You better!!!!

    It was still Soarin' over California at that time, and I was so underwhelmed. I did not get the big deal at all!!
    I wish we had seen the Soar'n over California version! Maybe they will bring it back for an anniversary or something?

    I did mention that this was our first entrance to MK of the trip, and he asked if I was ok coming in at the side, or if I wanted the "walking down Main Street" experience, which I thought was sweet. I told him I was fine coming in at the side.
    He really got you, if he asked you that!




    This is the lock screen on my phone, I love it!
    Awsome photo.

    there was a snack cart kind on the right by the water that C said had amazing chicken and bacon skewers (two separate skewers, not chicken and bacon together), and the guys made a decision to stop back by there when we were finished with our Frontierland rides.
    Ohh!!! I need to put that on my list to try. Gwen is a HUGE bacon lover!!!




    This picture cracks me up!! I had my hands up until I felt my ears slipping and then grabbed them, and L looks like he's holding his breath :rotfl:
    I love this kind of ride photo so much more than the posed pics.

    Oh, and also from this little gem:

    Well, maybe not this one... Too funny!


    Also hilarious!

    Our time with C ended at 8:00, right as HEA was getting started. He looked over at me and said, "so was it worth it? Did you have a good day? Look at that smile, that's a good sign!" I assured him that yes, it was definitely a good day, and thanked him for everything. He gave me a hug, told L and DH goodbye, told us to look for him over the next couple of days b/c he'd be with DH's boss, and that was it. He was gone, and I was surprised to feel sad!! I was going to miss our buddy!!
    I bet he saw you as a challenge to win you over.

    This picture makes me so excitied to see HEA again!

    So, do you know how much it cost to do this? I know it was gifted to you this time. And doing it during the opening of Star Wars is a REALLY good idea!
     
  • Lesley Wake

    Bright Suns
    Joined
    Mar 16, 2017
    **I think when we were backstage at Animal Kingdom is when we saw the building where Disney tests exterior building materials, like roofing and signage, the stuff that looks like thatch, etc...They take all of their outdoor materials and keep them in one spot outside to watch how long it takes them to begin deteriorating, fading, etc, so they know when they need to repair or replace, or what to keep/stop using. It may have been outside of Epcot, but I'm fuzzy on this detail, since we moved so quickly. But either way, we did see the building where they do this at some point!! It was one of the most fascinating things for me and DH**
    I think you were right about AK. I remember on a tour there they mentioned it because Imagineering is just down the road from AK.
    I would book it ourselves if we were with a large group OR for the opening of Galaxy's Edge. We've already talked about that, honestly! And we'd definitely request C, b/c he's one of the most hardcore Star Wars fans I've ever met!!
    @chunkymonkey and I have talked about doing it for next year for our NYE and SWGE trip! Probably try to get a big group of people together to split the costs!
     

    coloredimage

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 22, 2009
    She hugged him as the fireworks were going off and said, "Hey. We get to WORK here." And I honestly got tears in my eyes, that after so many years they still felt the magic.
    Yup. Just reading that got to me. I got all teary-eyed just reading that.

    This is a gorgeous picture!

    Oh, and no, I did not forget about X during our daily adventures. He successfully made it to the TTC and walked back to our room, where he slept most of the day. He did text at one point to ask how to buy food (he just needed the pin number). He had dinner at Captain Cook's, and also had a millennial pink cupcake, then he came back to the room and slept some more.
    So there was definitely a point where I had that "what happened to X?" moment lol
     

    suse66

    Mickey Bars should be a daily food group!
    Joined
    Sep 3, 2008
    I was SO EXCITED to finally be on this ride after hearing so much about it. Our guide, ok, his name was Christopher, I should have said that a long time ago...it'll be easier to type that than "our guide" all the time!! Anyway, he kept telling us it was awesome and how much he liked it.
    So glad you loved Slinky Dog!

    After the ride there were smiles all around. All four of us were now huge fans of Slinky Dog Dash. It's just a quick little coaster but SO MUCH FUN!! I want to do an EMM or After Hours event here just to ride Slink as many times as possible in a row!!
    Isn't it just so much fun!

    I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this ride, and I look forward to riding again. One of my favorite things was when C would ride with us, he would tell us details about the rides and show us hidden Mickey locations. But the best thing? He truly loved being on these rides and having these experiences, even though he did them almost every day. That's when I really started feeling a strong appreciation for him, when I realized he genuinely had a passion for his job, and that it was special to him.
    Being a plaid would be my Disney dream job!

    It was one of the most fascinating things for me and DH**
    I would be geeking out over this!

    As soon as we got on stage, I reminded X what he needed to do once he got to the TTC, and told him to text me when he was at the TTC and then again when he was back in the room.
    Poor X! Nothing worse than feeling sick on vacation!

    Then he told us a story about how a few nights before, one of his groups was in the vip Illuminations area, and he felt a tap on his shoulder. The woman who had helped train him for this particular job was there - her husband had gifted HER a guide for the day (guides getting guides!! Crazy!!) She hugged him as the fireworks were going off and said, "Hey. We get to WORK here." And I honestly got tears in my eyes, that after so many years they still felt the magic.

    I think that particular story and that moment is when I really was sold on this whole experience, because I knew he was being genuine.
    Love that story!

    The owner of DH's company had told us the only thing he wanted from us was a picture of us with C, so we used this beautiful sunset time of day for that! C grabbed one of the security officers and asked him to take the photo for us
    Gorgeous!

    I ran ahead of them so I could take this picture without feeling like I was holding us up if I paused:
    Stunning shot!

    I chose to ride with Christopher on this one. Mainly if we were on double rider rides he'd sit with L, but I claimed him for this.

    Haunted Mansion was one of our best experiences with him as our guide, and one of our favorites. We skipped both the regular line AND the FP line, and came in through a staff entrance. Even the staff hallway was themed!! We came out inside and immediately walked into the stretching room. C was standing by me, then the lights went out, and he had moved behind us and scared us again :scared1::scared1: Another bonus was we got to skip the crushing part of the line, and went behind all that and the CM let us through a little chained entrance and directly onto the moving walkway to our Doombuggie. This definitely felt pretty VIP!!
    That is the experience of a lifetime!
    The area wasn't very crowded, and we were able to lean up against the fence railing. One of the things we'd asked C during the day was what kind of groups he ended up getting, first timers, repeats, what? He said a few first timers, but mostly groups or families that he's had several times over the years. In fact, there was a group there in the HEA area with us that he's had every year for like seven years or something, and b/c he was with us it was the FIRST TIME he hadn't been their guide! They came over to say hello to him and he has literally watched their son grow up.

    So, the guy who had gifted us this day with C, decided to come down at the last minute and C had just found out he'd be with them the next day and again a couple days later. He said they take pictures every year, and he has watched those kids grow up too. What a cool thing that must be!! To be a part of so many other families. I'm telling you, this is my new Disney dream job!!

    Our time with C ended at 8:00, right as HEA was getting started. He looked over at me and said, "so was it worth it? Did you have a good day? Look at that smile, that's a good sign!" I assured him that yes, it was definitely a good day, and thanked him for everything. He gave me a hug, told L and DH goodbye, told us to look for him over the next couple of days b/c he'd be with DH's boss, and that was it. He was gone, and I was surprised to feel sad!! I was going to miss our buddy!!
    What a wonderful day!

    I would book it ourselves if we were with a large group OR for the opening of Galaxy's Edge. We've already talked about that, honestly! And we'd definitely request C, b/c he's one of the most hardcore Star Wars fans I've ever met!!
    :thumbsup2
     

    xlsm

    Snow White
    Joined
    Oct 19, 2013
    I need to watch this... We are rewatching Friends now, but maybe I will put this on the binge list next!

    Ha! Did it look like they were building stuff?

    Poor guy. It was nice that C offered to drop him off.

    I can see Morgan and Gwen wanting this as well, eventually.

    I love that you need to tell him where to go. I feel like I would need to do the same for the girls but at the same time they should know where to go.

    That is hilarious!

    Of course!!!! You better!!!!

    I wish we had seen the Soar'n over California version! Maybe they will bring it back for an anniversary or something?

    He really got you, if he asked you that!

    Awsome photo.

    Ohh!!! I need to put that on my list to try. Gwen is a HUGE bacon lover!!!

    I love this kind of ride photo so much more than the posed pics.
    Well, maybe not this one... Too funny!

    Also hilarious!

    I bet he saw you as a challenge to win you over.

    This picture makes me so excitied to see HEA again!

    So, do you know how much it cost to do this? I know it was gifted to you this time. And doing it during the opening of Star Wars is a REALLY good idea!
    Oh my gosh, it's SO FUNNY!! It's one of those shows I always wanted to watch, but by the time I got around to it, it was already a couple seasons in on tv. X started watching it on Hulu, and I was like, Noooo!! Wait for me so I can watch with you! But he was already at least a season in. DH and I have been slowly making our way through the first season a few episodes at a time. I am obsessed!
    DH had never watched Friends (how??), so I forced him into watching on Netflix over the summer and now he loves it, too!!

    They weren't really building anything, but it was the way the back of the ride buildings looked, and the metal fencing around stuff, combined with the thick trees and bushes and the bird noises...it really did feel kind of like Jurassic Park, but I had to comment, "We're in the wrong park, that one's across town!" (and honestly the Jurassic Park area at US/IOA is pretty awesome)

    I felt bad for him, because he actually WAS feeling bad, and not just trying to get out of hanging out with us :rotfl: He has bad luck in Florida. On our December 2016 trip he ended up having to go to urgent care for a pretty bad ear infection, and last summer when he went to the beach with their grandma, he got a stomach bug and only got to go to the beach once and had to stay at the hotel the rest of the time.

    I really appreciated him offering to take him back, but I had promised X that he could do some things on his own. Both boys actually wanted that this time, L would go get food and stuff for us on this trip, which was nice. He liked the power of charging on his band, LOL.
    The only thing I was any kind of worried about was X finding his way back to the Poly if he decided to take the walking path. I knew he could figure it out, but he'd only been with us once when we did that, so I wasn't sure if he remembered which way to go. I did tell him to just switch to the resort monorail if he was worried at all, but he chose to walk it and managed to survive! He walks home from school every day, so he's used to it.

    Once we all felt more at ease with each other, he ended up being a lot of fun.
    As for our good spot on Soarin', he said one time he had a lady in line behind the group he was leading call him out on it - b/c he'd asked the CM to put the group in a certain spot. I guess the lady was getting mad, b/c she knew he had asked for the preferred seating area.
    I actually wish they'd bring back Soarin' over CA, too, now that I have my newfound love of the ride...I want the chance to appreciate the original one again, since I was so blah on it to begin with.

    The skewers are like slab bacon, big thick pieces. I didn't try it, b/c I'm weird about my bacon being crispy - this one is not crispy. But all three of the guys with me that night loved it.

    Oh my gosh, I was DYING when I looked on MDE back at the hotel to see our pictures :rotfl::rotfl:He did it on our Slinky Dog pictures, too, but those are awful of me and I refuse to let them see the light of day. I was sad he didn't ride Splash and TT with us after I saw them.

    I think he really may have seen me as a challenge to win over, like you said. I feel like he absolutely made an effort to cater to each of us and what we were interested in. At the end of the night I felt so bad for my early annoyance with him when we got to DHS, b/c I can't imagine a better guide for our family. He was awesome!

    HEA makes me so emotional, you can imagine how i was feeling at this moment!! I have the song downloaded on my phone and listen to it all the time!

    Yes, so, it is a minimum of 7 hours. Holiday pricing, like for our tour, was $625 per hour ( :crazy2::faint::eek: ). Now, with a group, there is a way to make that reasonable, but for us normally, we'd never pay that - nothing against those who do, it certainly made the day easier!! Regular pricing is $425 per hour. If we were only going down for a couple of days solely to visit Star Wars, we'd probably spring for it, but otherwise not without a larger group. You can have up to 10 people per guide.


    Wow! What an amazing gift! I would loooove to do a VIP tour someday...
    It was definitely a cool experience!! After my initial worries, we really did end up with a guide that was perfect for our family.

    I think you were right about AK. I remember on a tour there they mentioned it because Imagineering is just down the road from AK.

    @chunkymonkey and I have talked about doing it for next year for our NYE and SWGE trip! Probably try to get a big group of people together to split the costs!
    Yes, I was thinking about our rhino tour, and I feel like they said the same thing about Imagineering. It was so hard not taking pictures of everything we saw...and it would have helped my old lady brain remember everything better :rotfl::rotfl:

    It would be a game changer for that particular combination, 100%!! If ever the was a time to get a guide, that would be it!!

    Yup. Just reading that got to me. I got all teary-eyed just reading that.


    This is a gorgeous picture!


    So there was definitely a point where I had that "what happened to X?" moment lol
    I know, right?? Just the purity in what he said, and how he said it...and knowing that the others he works around feel that way, it just really got me!!

    The light was SO GOOD right there!

    LOL, poor Xavier!! I got to the end and realized I hadn't mentioned what happened to him :rotfl2::rotfl2:

    Sounds like a great day with the VIP guide!
    It was pretty awesome!!
     

    xlsm

    Snow White
    Joined
    Oct 19, 2013
    So glad you loved Slinky Dog!

    Isn't it just so much fun!

    Being a plaid would be my Disney dream job!

    I would be geeking out over this!

    Poor X! Nothing worse than feeling sick on vacation!

    Love that story!

    Gorgeous!

    Stunning shot!


    That is the experience of a lifetime!
    What a wonderful day!

    :thumbsup2
    I was really surprised by how fun Slinky was, to me it totally lived up to the hype!! I just saw another post on here from someone at the park today in the rain and the wait was only 20 min...the whole time we were there I never saw it below two hours, even on our last park night when it was raining.

    I used to say being a CM at Haunted Mansion or Tower of Terror would be my dream Disney job, but oh yes, after this day, being a plaid is job wish number one!! Just being able to make that kind of magic and share my Disney joy would be amazing.

    Seeing that was so cool! That and the disassembled Christmas tree were highlights. Matt and I are planning to do the Backstage Magic tour in June, and I can't wait to see even more of that kind of thing!!

    My poor baby has a bad history of getting sick at WDW...two trips in a row for him being sick, plus his beach visit over the summer with his grandparents was ruined with a stomach bug, so he's feeling like he has a Florida curse, LOL

    It was my favorite story that he told by far, and he was so genuine about it. That meant a lot to me!

    The sun was hitting the castle all kinds of right that evening!!

    After this we were like, "um, how are we supposed to ride HM the REGULAR way now???"

    It was the perfect end to a very unique day. I couldn't have asked for better!!
     

    PolyRob

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 8, 2016
    Good morning!!

    I hope this weekend has been kind to all of you. Yesterday was crazy here, so I am happy to have a quiet low key morning - DH ran to the office to work on a big project for tomorrow and the kids are still sleeping. That gives me some snuggle time with my dogs and I can watch Investigation Discovery!!



    We've been binge watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, can you tell?? :rotfl:

    Ok, ok, let's move along...we've got more Disney to talk about!!

    Chapter Five Part Two

    There will be a LOT of text in this update again, and it is very long - just so you're aware. We were moving fast and I wasn't worrying about pictures too much!!

    So, we had finished up at Hollywood Studios and were back in the Yukon and discussing our next stop. We decided on Animal Kingdom, then Epcot, and then our Must Do finish at Magic Kingdom.

    This is where we all started feeling more comfortable as a group, I think. While we were at DHS, I think he was really just trying to get a feel for us, our personalities, whether or not we had any sense of fun or humor, etc...

    I was very honest with him from the beginning - That I was not initially thrilled to give up my carefully constructed daily plans. We had to shift about three days around to make this work and still get the park time we wanted, and it caused us to give up several dining reservations that we didn't really want to. But on the other hand, I was very, very excited to have him with us to get us to all four parks in one day AND to get some behind-the-scenes looks as we drove up to the parks.

    We had decided to only do the two rides in Pandora, so our visit to AK would be quite short. The kids had never seen Pandora, DH had never ridden either ride, and I had never been on Na'vi River Journey, so I was looking forward to sharing all of that with my family. And our buddy :rotfl:

    We parked behind Pandora and Christopher was surprised that there wasn't a lot of open parking, the lot back there was pretty full. As we walked from the car to the secret entrance, we got to see a lot of backstage behind the ride buildings. The boys both commented that it reminded them of Jurassic Park. I said don't be too surprised if that's what they're actually working on back there!!

    Our first ride was Na'vi River Journey:




    That's all you get. Sunglare and C's hat!!

    I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this ride, and I look forward to riding again. One of my favorite things was when C would ride with us, he would tell us details about the rides and show us hidden Mickey locations. But the best thing? He truly loved being on these rides and having these experiences, even though he did them almost every day. That's when I really started feeling a strong appreciation for him, when I realized he genuinely had a passion for his job, and that it was special to him.

    We didn't spend any time exploring, but I did get this picture before we swooped off on Flight of Passage



    Those are literally the only pictures I have of our time in AK!!

    Everyone enjoyed FOP, but not as much as I expected them too. Even me. I don't remember that much water spraying in my face?? And b/c X was already kind of stuffed up and not feeling great, he was REALLY not feeling very well afterward. His eyes were puffy and he was having a lot of sinus pressure, and was very tired. I knew there was no way he was going to make it at our pace for the rest of the day.

    When we got back in the Yukon (or Tahoe, or whatever big SUV thing we were in - it was one of the two), I asked him if he wanted to go back to the resort once we got to Epcot, and he reluctantly said yes. C asked if I wanted him to drop us off at Epcot and run X back to the Polynesian, but I said no, he'd be fine taking the monorail back by himself. I knew that was something he wanted to do anyway - have some more freedom on this trip.

    **I think when we were backstage at Animal Kingdom is when we saw the building where Disney tests exterior building materials, like roofing and signage, the stuff that looks like thatch, etc...They take all of their outdoor materials and keep them in one spot outside to watch how long it takes them to begin deteriorating, fading, etc, so they know when they need to repair or replace, or what to keep/stop using. It may have been outside of Epcot, but I'm fuzzy on this detail, since we moved so quickly. But either way, we did see the building where they do this at some point!! It was one of the most fascinating things for me and DH**

    Our Epcot plan was to ride Test Track and Soarin'.

    When we got to Epcot, we parked behind Test Track, and got so see the garage where they worked on the cars. Most of it DH and I had seen the previous New Year's Eve when they had an overflow walkway open behing Mexico and TT to help guests get out of the park easier, but it was still cool to see again...and in daylight this time!! Before we parked, he did take us on a loop that showed off the backs of some of the WS pavilions, and the new space themed restaurant. I did find that I knew some proposed details that he did not, like how there would be no windows, only screens projecting space scenes.

    As soon as we got on stage, I reminded X what he needed to do once he got to the TTC, and told him to text me when he was at the TTC and then again when he was back in the room.

    The rest of us followed C through the FP line for Test Track!



    It was just a liiiittttlllee crowded.

    C did ask us if we *had* to go to the car design room, and L said yes. He loves that part. Unfortunately that made our wait longer, but not terrible.

    L and I designed this:



    and DH and C came up with this (well, mostly DH)



    C decided to skip riding so the three of us could sit together in one row



    I have no idea what we're talking about, but we look like we're having fun!!

    We exited and I immediately began scanning the area for Our Buddy :rotfl2:, as I affectionately began referring to him. He took us through a back exit and told him to wait for a second by a door, while he went through a different one. He left and then threw open the other and jumped through it, scaring us. Ok, ok, so he DOES have a personality!!

    All of us were getting thirsty and L wanted a snack, so we drove around to the other side of the park to Soarin'. We got to see the construction on the Ratatouille ride, and some of the CM buildings. The main highlight?? We got to see the Epcot Christmas tree in pieces backstage!! It was taken apart in sections and not being able to take pictures nearly killed me :faint::faint:

    We parked behind The Land building, and came in through a backdoor near the greenhouses. We got to see inside some of the rear greenhouses, and saw some people on a Behind the Seeds tour. Actually, we walked THROUGH the group on the Behind the Seeds tour. Sorry, guys!!

    We went to Sunshine Seasons to get some waters, and L picked up an apple (which he declared one of the best apples he's ever had - Disney has magical apples, I guess!! I said ok, just don't take any from old ladies in black cloaks, please!!). I ran to the restroom and then we met back up and through the FP line to ride Soarin'.

    Thanks to C, we got the best row and center location. Every time I ride and enjoy Soarin', I remember how much I talked about NOT understanding the Soarin' love the first time I rode in 2014!! It was still Soarin' over California at that time, and I was so underwhelmed. I did not get the big deal at all!! We didn't ride again until we were at California Adventure in 2016, and we saw the new (current) version the second day it had been open. Again, eh. I even had us skip it on our December 2016 trip in favor of Frozen. THEN on my solo trip in May 2017, I rode it like four times and became obsessed. I have no idea why, but now I hate the thought of missing it, it makes me so happy!!

    By this point in the day we were all fairly comfortable together and I was enjoying having C with us. We all talked pretty much constantly as we left Epcot and got back in the SUV to go to the Magic Kingdom. Mostly we talked and asked about each other's favorite things: rides, shows, restaurants, snacks, etc...And we learned that C was a huge Star Wars fan (that's an understatement, but I won't share all his comments, LOL), and had got to guide Warwick Davis before.

    L asked him if he got to skip lines when he was in the parks regularly, and not working, which of course got a no. But he and his wife still visited quite a bit. She also works for Disney, but in an office building. I asked if he ever got tired of it all, or took some of it for granted, b/c I was so fascinated and excited to see all of the backstage stuff, and got a glimpse of how things worked and what went on. He said sometimes, yes, like the construction of a parking area, or just general construction, but things like watching Ratatouille come together, or the new lands, no, he doesn't get tired of that. Then he told us a story about how a few nights before, one of his groups was in the vip Illuminations area, and he felt a tap on his shoulder. The woman who had helped train him for this particular job was there - her husband had gifted HER a guide for the day (guides getting guides!! Crazy!!) She hugged him as the fireworks were going off and said, "Hey. We get to WORK here." And I honestly got tears in my eyes, that after so many years they still felt the magic.

    I think that particular story and that moment is when I really was sold on this whole experience, because I knew he was being genuine.

    When we arrived at the Magic Kingdom, we parked kind of behind Tomorrowland Terrace, and came in from the area that's often used as a bypass area, or where you go when you get to the Halloween or Christmas parties and they have the candy bags and photo ops set up.

    I did mention that this was our first entrance to MK of the trip, and he asked if I was ok coming in at the side, or if I wanted the "walking down Main Street" experience, which I thought was sweet. I told him I was fine coming in at the side.

    Hello, Gorgeous!!



    The owner of DH's company had told us the only thing he wanted from us was a picture of us with C, so we used this beautiful sunset time of day for that! C grabbed one of the security officers and asked him to take the photo for us



    When we set up this day, I originally told Signature Services that we at least wanted to do the rides we had FPs set up for: SDMT, Peter Pan, and Splash. Once we got there, I did tell C that we could skip SDMT if we needed to, and Peter Pan, but he was determined to get us on our entire ride list of those three plus Big Thunder, Pirates, and Haunted Mansion.

    We decided to start with Splash Mountain, so we made a left at the castle and started heading that way.

    I ran ahead of them so I could take this picture without feeling like I was holding us up if I paused:



    This is the lock screen on my phone, I love it!

    It was such a pretty time of day as we made our way through Frontierland



    there was a snack cart kind on the right by the water that C said had amazing chicken and bacon skewers (two separate skewers, not chicken and bacon together), and the guys made a decision to stop back by there when we were finished with our Frontierland rides.

    We cruised through the FP line for Splash Mountain. C didn't ride with us...can't say I blame him, I wouldn't want to get that outfit wet!!







    This picture cracks me up!! I had my hands up until I felt my ears slipping and then grabbed them, and L looks like he's holding his breath :rotfl:

    We survived our trip to the Laughin' Place and as soon as we were out of our log I was back in "where's our buddy?" mode. He was waiting for us outside of the gift shop. Once we were back together, it was off to the Wildest Ride in the Wilderness!!



    The FP line was actually pretty backed up and we had a bit of a wait. It was another opportunity to chat with C. I learned that we had both been Disney Store CMs, and we shared some stories from that. And somehow we got on the subject of high school, and mascots?? I can't remember how we managed to get to that, LOL!! But he then mentioned that for his senior picture in the yearbook, underneath one of his goals was to work at Disney World!! I laughed b/c he said, "I didn't even have the nomenclature right, I should have said Walt Disney World", and it struck me so funny b/c I'd only ever heard Disney Parks Blog Mom Panel hopefuls ever refer to proper nomenclature before :rotfl::rotfl:

    He said every now and then random people from high school would contact him on Facebook to ask if he could get them in for free or on the cheap. Like people he hadn't even spoken to in years, or even all that much when they were IN school together, and he said he'd just tell them to check AAA or something. I told him my dad deals with the same type of thing. He's a musician and people he hasn't seen in years will ask for free tickets to shows all the time.

    So here's where pictures slow down again (i know, i know, they'd barely picked up!!), but I know from this shot:



    that Pirates was up next!!

    Oh, and also from this little gem:



    Just wait, it gets better, lol!!

    After Pirates we took the walkthrough from Adventureland back to Frontierland, and I *think* this is when DH and L stopped for those bacon and chicken skewers I mentioned earlier. They both liked them! I have pics but they're blurry and weird, so just picture bacon on a stick and chicken on a stick.

    Up next was Haunted Mansion. Behold the glorious proof:



    I chose to ride with Christopher on this one. Mainly if we were on double rider rides he'd sit with L, but I claimed him for this.

    Haunted Mansion was one of our best experiences with him as our guide, and one of our favorites. We skipped both the regular line AND the FP line, and came in through a staff entrance. Even the staff hallway was themed!! We came out inside and immediately walked into the stretching room. C was standing by me, then the lights went out, and he had moved behind us and scared us again :scared1::scared1: Another bonus was we got to skip the crushing part of the line, and went behind all that and the CM let us through a little chained entrance and directly onto the moving walkway to our Doombuggie. This definitely felt pretty VIP!!

    I loved riding with him b/c he was pointing out all kinds of stuff I'd never noticed, and we just talked. I asked if he'd ever seen any of the rides with lights on, and he said just Space Mountain and a couple of others, never HM. We talked about what we wanted to see in HM with lights on, and I said there was part of me that was afraid it would ruin things for me. He said, no, I think you'd probably love every second of it. He's not wrong!! We ended up being very similar people - liking things to run efficiently (which is why I was liking our pacing and path through the parks!!), keeping to a schedule, detail oriented, etc. I began getting very attached to him and feeling like he was really part of our family, and I was appreciative of his honest and genuine love of the parks and Disney in general.

    It was getting dark, and we were closer to HEA time - there was some comfort in knowing we had a designated spot ready for us and we could still do some rides before it began. Peter Pan was up next.



    This was another that even with the FP line we had a bit of a wait, and he filled us in on some hidden Mickeys to look for. L rode with C this time, so he got more inside scoop that me and DH.

    After flying over London and through Neverland, we had just enough time for one more thing - and C was determined to get all of the rides off our checklist!!





    :rotfl2::rotfl2:

    See?? I told you he ended up having personality!!

    Once we were off Mine Train we headed up to our Happily Ever After viewing area. It was a great spot!!







    The area wasn't very crowded, and we were able to lean up against the fence railing. One of the things we'd asked C during the day was what kind of groups he ended up getting, first timers, repeats, what? He said a few first timers, but mostly groups or families that he's had several times over the years. In fact, there was a group there in the HEA area with us that he's had every year for like seven years or something, and b/c he was with us it was the FIRST TIME he hadn't been their guide! They came over to say hello to him and he has literally watched their son grow up.

    So, the guy who had gifted us this day with C, decided to come down at the last minute and C had just found out he'd be with them the next day and again a couple days later. He said they take pictures every year, and he has watched those kids grow up too. What a cool thing that must be!! To be a part of so many other families. I'm telling you, this is my new Disney dream job!!

    Our time with C ended at 8:00, right as HEA was getting started. He looked over at me and said, "so was it worth it? Did you have a good day? Look at that smile, that's a good sign!" I assured him that yes, it was definitely a good day, and thanked him for everything. He gave me a hug, told L and DH goodbye, told us to look for him over the next couple of days b/c he'd be with DH's boss, and that was it. He was gone, and I was surprised to feel sad!! I was going to miss our buddy!!

    One thing you can't escape, even in the VIP area, is kids on shoulders...as I'd learn once HEA began:



    **Oh, a side note - while we were waiting for HEA to begin, the other VIP guides were getting so exasperated b/c so many people were just brazenly climbing over our roped off area and trying to stand there for the show, and they kept having to kick them out :rotfl: **

    Here are a couple shots from HEA:






    As you can imagine, the crowd on New Year's Day was large, so we just hung back in the safety of our roped off zone and waited for things to clear out a bit. We were STARVING, so once we left our safe space we headed to Casey's.

    Look at all the people:



    and that's after I declared it clear enough to move!

    I did online order for Casey's and we sent L to find a table while I helped DH pick up the food



    None of it looks particularly appetizing, but I can assure you it was good!! And yeah, I have mayo on my fries!! I did pick off the bacon from my mac and cheese, it was kind of chewy and :crazy2:

    We ate, half-heartedly watched Once Upon a Time through the trees, took a quick picture of the Christmas tree



    and made our way out and onto the monorail back to the Poly.

    Once we got back, I went to Boutiki to pick up some crazily overpriced makeup remover wipes (they only had the H20 brand, and they were like, $25, but I was desperate) and DH and L went to get cupcakes from Captain Cooks. We all had the Millennial Pink cupcake, which was vanilla with *i think* passion fruit filling



    It was really good!! (except for the minnie ears, I threw those away)

    Oh, and no, I did not forget about X during our daily adventures. He successfully made it to the TTC and walked back to our room, where he slept most of the day. He did text at one point to ask how to buy food (he just needed the pin number). He had dinner at Captain Cook's, and also had a millennial pink cupcake, then he came back to the room and slept some more.

    He already sounded about 100 times better than he had in the afternoon, so even though we were sad he wasn't with us (and he was VERY disappointed to miss the MK rides), going back and resting was definitely the best thing for him that day.

    That's it!! That was our VIP day!! I'm sorry if it wasn't as exciting as anyone had hoped, we really moved through the parks very quickly, and spent our extra time in the car or waiting just talking to C and learning about his time working for Disney and just getting to know each other.

    Would I do VIP again? Probably not the way we did it on this day. Only b/c it's not how I like to tour. But, I would not say no if we were offered this chance again by DH's boss, and if C was our guide.
    I would book it ourselves if we were with a large group OR for the opening of Galaxy's Edge. We've already talked about that, honestly! And we'd definitely request C, b/c he's one of the most hardcore Star Wars fans I've ever met!!

    Up next...a full day at Epcot, TOTALLY switched around from all original plans!!

    Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, and I'll be back later this week!!
    How amazing! Glad you had a great day. I still feel an attachment to my tour guide from 2016. He definitely felt like part of the family. I look for him on every trip and got lucky and found him this past summer. I took a selfie and told the family he was with that they were in great hands.
     

    petals

    Irish Princess because Cinderella said so!
    Joined
    May 18, 2010
    Your VIP tour sounds great. You got so many rides done in one day in Magic Kingdom :eek:
     


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