Going Out With a Bang (May 5-17th Trip Report)


May 26, 2019

Hey everyone! I'm back with another Trip Report, this one being a very long solo trip from May 5-17th!

Why "Going Out With a Bang"? Well I'll detail it more later, but the last trip was so pricey I actually had to save up for the current one, and this ended up even worse, so it might be ages before I can go again! So I stuffed as much stuff as I could in this one to make it count!

Previous Trips:
First time ever trip. 5 days at Disney, 2 at Universal.
2015: Tokyo Disneyland. 2 days in each park. Trip Report: https://www.disboards.com/threads/tokyo-disney-trip-report.3803602/
2017: Disneyland Paris, 2 days as part of a 2-week UK/France trip.
2019: Second trip- one so great I almost made plans to move down here and work, despite the horrible weather and pay. When I first realized that meeting characters was fun. I'd initially made plans to come by EVERY YEAR, figuring it was only $3000 or so per trip (it was not). 6 days at Disney, 1 at Universal.
2021: The Post-COVID trip. Small parades, less to do, barely meet & greets back, but okay. 8 days, all Disney.
2022: Another amazing trip, but the heightened cost was an eye-opener. 10 days, all Disney. Trip report: https://www.disboards.com/threads/t...magic-is-back-ish-the-trip-summation.3897325/

And now we come to my fifth trip!

-My name is Grant- I'm now 42-years old and have been going to Disney Parks about 15 years or so. Always solo trips- none of my friends were as wildly into Disney as I am, I'm single, and all my friends & siblings have small children so if I was gonna go, I'd have to go on my own! Disneyphiles tell me they're jealous of the fact that I can do this- solo trips are the "long-lost dream" of most Disney Adults, lol. I was going to do "one trip per year", but the realities of the cost started hitting me about when I realized I'd done most things there were to do, so I'll probably scale it back a bit.

I'm a HUGE fan of the musical Wicked, hence wearing shirts to Disney... which turned out to be a big icebreaker, as apparently most Disney fans are obsessed with it, too (and even a few Princesses, lol). My other Disney Default is Powerline-related stuff from A Goofy Movie (which is huge among people... 10-15 years younger than me, actually).

I'm from Canada, meaning the trip to Disney is a bit more of an ordeal (and expensive- the exchange rate suuuuuuuuuuucks) than it is for others.
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* Meeting tons of characters, including ones I'd never met before, and having gotten good enough at these that I don't have to pre-plan conversation points.
* Meeting Elena of Avalor several times (I'm always concerned she's not gonna be here next time I go!).
* Mickey's Magical Friendship Faire! This castle show (where Mickey & friends meet in front of the castle and bring out characters from The Princess & The Frog, Tangled and Frozen is my Happy Place. I saw it as many times as I could on every day I was at the Magic Kingdom, scarcely missing a chance to get there.
* Tons of Disney Cast Members once again noticing my Wicked or Goofy Movie t-shirts and that leading to a ton of conversations. Apparently nearly every CM in the Magic Kingdom is terrified about the Wicked movie, lol. But they all liked the new trailer!
* Getting some "bucket list" stuff done- things I'd never seen or done before, including checking out some resorts.

* THE WEATHER. Florida was hit by an unseasonable hot front turning things into blasting summer weather of 95-100 F (something like 40 Celsius) for most of a week. Even the Floridians were complaining.
* THE COST. Even by Disney standards this was a crazy one. 11 days, plus I overdid the restaurants.
* It's harder to define, but an odd sense of familiarity that was equal parts "returning home" and "well I guess I've already DONE everything" and being almost too used to the parks. Though this can be kind of a good thing considering the cost will keep me away for a good while.


-So with my 2022 trip thereabouts, I realized that the expected cost of a Disney vacation is MUCH higher than it used to be. I think I got too used to "$3000" being my best guess because of 2014 and 2019, and the costs have increased since. A LOT. When I first visited in 2014, Pop Century resort (one of the cheaper ones) was barely $90/night. Even in 2019 it wasn't THAT bad. But COVID has shockingly just led to prices increasing all across the board, and now the same hotel is actually $200/night!

Add to this what I suspect are price increases just to get into the parks, plus the fact that my stays have increased in length, and you got massive inflation. I think my 2022 trip cost about $6000 CAD. Which is much more than I make in a year, and ensured that for the first time in my vacationing life, I couldn't immediately afford to go right away. I mean, I work a retail job- I'm good at saving money, but YIKES. Knowing this trip would cost similar, or more, I waited longer to go. A full year and a half.

-So in 2019, one of the best times I had, it was mid-May, between American holidays. The weather was hot but not obscene, and it seemed ideal. My plan was to go on another trip ASAP, making it a yearly thing until I either ran out of money or got too old, haha- unfortunately you probably can guess what happened to my March 2020 trip. The parks were straight up SHUT DOWN and so I had to do a long wait to go back to what had become my "Happy Place". I had to cancel updated trip after updated trip as various challenges were put in my way (such as travel from Canada to the US), until I was left with November 2021. Also an "off-season" but not so bad.

It ended up being VERY busy ("Revenge Travel" is the term used- even the value resorts with hundreds of rooms were booked solid) and hot & humid, but fine. My "Yearly Trips" was still in effect, and I hit a 10-day trip the next year, in September. I had a much better time in this one, despite also horrible weather, but figured with the cost AND me getting tired of fall trips, I'd wait a year and a half and go in the spring once again! This matched up my 2019 trip pretty evenly (I can tell because it was also lovebug season again) and was also an off-season. As I don't get to go that often, coming during a quieter time was kind of important to me.

-Flying from Edmonton, Alberta to Orlando is always an ordeal. No direct flights really exist, so it's always a connecting flight through Toronto. As Pearson Airport is extremely terrible, that's always annoying. And it takes a full day to travel, especially if you want a long layover (as Toronto usually requires). Add to that flights are EXPENSIVE and I'm trying to keep costs down, and you see my issue. PLUS I kind of insist on getting into Orlando in the early afternoon at the latest- allowing for most of a day at Disney Springs. So options were a bit limited, but I checked frequently until I got a flight into Orlando around noon-ish. Overall the round trip was about $800 CAD (close to $585 USD, I guess)- about $200 better than I did in 2022!

-I did something I'd never done before this time around- purchasing tickets off of one of two UK websites that offer multi-day passes & Memory Maker at a reduced cost- as I usually go with PhotoPass, this ended up being a big savings. I was obviously concerned these sites were a possible scam, but everyone on Disboards was telling me these were fantastic. The only issue was the tickets taking a full day to authorize, which was a bit stressful (thankfully I'd had advanced notice that this happens often). But overall the savings was at least $200 over what Disney would charge (even with the cheaper tickets available to Canadians), AND Memory Maker was tossed on as an extra. So I think it was about $900 CAD just for all that.

I carefully staggered out the cost of these things per month so not all the bills would be hitting at the same time, and so by February I was all set to go!
As a fellow Canadian, I really hear you about the cost of a Disney trip being so much more expensive.
The exchange rate against the USD makes it extra hard to afford these days.
Love your photo mashingup Wicked & Frozen!
And that guy ( ?cute Husband ) should be wearing the Wicked Witch’s Black hat

Haha, thanks! I always wear my Wicked shirts to the parks, ever since 2019 when it got a ton of reactions. Oddly fewer these days, but more substantial since everyone's now talking about the upcoming movie!

That's just me doing solo trips, as per usual. I guess I should have mentioned that in the opener, haha.
As a fellow Canadian, I really hear you about the cost of a Disney trip being so much more expensive.
The exchange rate against the USD makes it extra hard to afford these days.
Yeah, I was interested in that Anna & Elsa dual-pack of dolls designed by Brittney Lee... but $300 USD? That's like $400! More than a month of work's profits! Apparently the dolls are not selling that well- WONDER WHY!
(PS I added a short bio to the front page. I forgot people do that- it sets the stage)

-So if you've ever planned for Disney, you know that the month leading up tends to be very busy. In my case, doubly so! And EXPENSIVE! Thankfully I had COVID incident #2 in January and got a shot a month before I left, and had a cold recently enough that I wasn't concerned about getting one again (one of my biggest concerns about Disney is getting sick during the trip).

This is where most of the grousing in this report will be, so bear with me- the WHOLE thing won't be like this, I promise!

Problem 1- Dental Care:
* I had a tooth cleaning appointment more than a month in advance. And the hygienist was delighted, saying "You actually did your homework!" and said I had no problems, no bleeding, etc... and then during the flossing at the VERY end, a piece of filling popped off a bottom molar, revealing a huge cavity underneath. I guess the filling had failed, causing issues. So I had to book a new filling, worried that it was gonna be a crown (I didn't want to be in Disney with a temporary crown, especially because crown-prep can cause major toothaches as well), and thankfully the dentist didn't do one. BUT he said it was because the cavity was so big that he wouldn't do a crown without doing a root canal first, which would have been a much more drastic thing. So now I have that ticking time bomb, and had to worry a toothache from this procedure as well.

Worryingly, I DID in fact get an ache... but not really on that tooth? And then the pain went to the upper part of my mouth? Then my cheekbone? Then my lower jaw. I was initially worried I did in fact hit the root of that tooth, but my symptoms (which ended up travelling to my neck tendons, oddly) is more like TMJ, which was a temporary thing. But THAT'S not fun to happen like 2 weeks before I was set to go! I kept thinking I was gonna need emergency dental work right before I left. Thankfully it all went away and I was fine thereafter.

In the end, it was probably like $200-300 I didn't necessarily want to spend right before vacation, lol.

Problem 2- My Computer Died:
* While not exactly surprisingly- this old beater had been bought on the cheap 7 years ago, and was having all sorts of problems (the CPU fan had died 2-3 years ago and I was using a small room fan to replace it; the unit didn't jibe well with my screen thus stretching out the picture, etc.), it's naturally not ideal to need to replace a computer right before vacation. And my PC was loud as a rocket engine now. BUT one day I woke up after leaving the PC on (I never turn it off), and from 1 room away was like "Wait, I don't hear my computer on" (I told you it was loud, lol), and sure enough, it had crapped out. And no button-pressing was turning it back on. This was about 2 weeks before I was set to go.

SO, on to Best Buy. Thankfully everything transferred over just fine and my files were okay, and the new PC works a thousand times better than the old one ("Wait, you mean it's NOT normal to need 45 minutes to reboot after Windows Update?"). BUT now I've spent another $1000-1,200 immediately before vacation. Even with my parents having gifted me a bit of money beforehand, that suuuuuuuuuuuucked.

Problem 3- The Shoes of Failure:
* Another requirement of a Disney trip is buying new shoes, but not TOO new. ie. I had to buy them and get used to them for a while before going. The problem? Well the two aforementioned problems were now eating up a chunk of the weeks leading up to my trip. When I went to Best Buy, I couldn't find adequate shoes, but the next day the Atmosphere shop was open. I typically use the West Edmonton Mall shop, but now I was pressed for time!

Now, on my past two trips, I've lionized the shoes bought from this store. They were EXCELLENT! Foot pain was always a part of every other Disney trip (I've calculated it using my fitness app and I think I do 60-70K steps per day) and these thick-soled near-boot shoes actually solved that! So I paid a similar amount for expensive Merrells (last time I did North Face shoes, but they didn't have any that fit this time), which are spoken of online as terrific walking shoes. I didn't want to go as high-ankled as before, and they weren't QUITE as thick on the bottom (the bottoms of my prior shoes were borderline lifts, and looked like hiking shoes). As I was nearing 1.5 weeks before my trip now, I REALLY had to step on it and did a lot of pretty longform walking just to get ready, and they seemed fine- no discomfort or anything. I couldn't really fit my existing gel pads into them but I've never used gel pads at Disney before- that's usually something I put in my shoes after I've flattened out the insides a bit.

Alas, they failed me. Probably because of all the aforementioned walking. I was back to the old days of "wait, my feet are now more blister than foot", my little toes looking like they were trying to separate from the rest of the foot, and one time being unable to walk until the Advil kicked in. Turns out, the sole of the shoe was actually more solid and stiff than I initially thought, and my toes were JUST barely cramped enough by the little toe to make the insane walking I was doing unpleasant. And unfortunately I hadn't brought my older shoes (the lining was getting shredded by the heel and they are HEAVY shoes, so I didn't want them tearing up my heels or weighing down my luggage).


So this was all a tad annoying- while buying new shoes was an expectation of going to Disney, there's an extra 1.5K tacked on immediately, which pretty much ensured I'd have to take on some credit card debt to be able to afford my trip, lol.
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Following along. I'm always in awe of solo travelers. I think I would get tired of myself very quickly, :laughing:. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip!
Following along. I'm always in awe of solo travelers. I think I would get tired of myself very quickly, :laughing:. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip!
lol, this is nothing- I did Japan for THREE WEEKS by myself in 2014. Probably a day or two too long, as I was basically "Ugh, I'm done- I just want to go home now" by the end, but that's kind of ideal in a way. I'd rather overdo it than underdo it and have regrets.
-So my plane left at 12 am Saturday (sorta Sunday morning), meaning I had to book an extra day off work so I could definitely make it. Edmonton International Airport isn't the worst airport around (in fact, I always get through security quickly), but you know what they say about getting their three hours early in order to make international flights.

I had to do some last-minute shopping when I realized certain things weren't ready- actually I had to run to the store TWICE (thankfully it's only 10 minutes away) because one time I realized I needed Tums just in case (a bad night on a 2014 trip taught me that, lol), and then I realized I was missing something else.

Right before I left, I realized I hadn't packed a hat, but I was cutting it close, wasn't sure where my own ballcap was, and... to be honest, I don't like hats. I don't think people look good in ballcaps, and being completely bald, I didn't want to get a goofy tanline (remember this when I get sunburned later on, lol). Plus I prefer to travel lightly within the parks, and didn't want to have to shove a folded-up ballcap into my travel back (a small side-satchel I always wear to the parks). I tried to avoid the typical "tourist uniform", as I never felt that was a particularly flattering look. And given that Edmonton had a super-cold April and thus I couldn't pre-tan at all, and I didn't even own a real pair of shorts, I wasn't wearing shorts either. All of this made the subsequent mega-heatwave Orlando experienced a little more off-putting.

The only thing I'd really forgotten to pack was glasses cleaner- I packed the CLOTHS but somehow forgot the cleaner. I thus had to spend ten bucks at Disney Springs on some more, haha.

-So there's a "Route 747" bus that takes me to the airport, and I was there with plenty of time, circa 9pm or so (the bus leaves hourly, and I was there early enough that I was able to wander around the shops making up the nearby apartment building- one of those 5-on-1 deathtraps, haha). I made the typical stop at Chili's- Edmonton used to have one in every big neighborhood, but they all died more than a decade ago- airports are now the ONLY place I can find them in all of Alberta! And after dropping fajitas at some point in the 2020s, they brought them back! The server there was too new to remember not having them, so I guess it'd been a while. As it was after 9, most of the airport was closed, but I still did my typical thing where I wander up each end of the airport just to see what's up and what displays they have (because that's how a Disney vacation should start- extra needless walking, lol).

-Direct flights from Edmonton to Orlando are an impossibility- I THINK Calgary might have one, but it's a huge cost and I'd have to travel there anyhow. So I was stuck with the eternal "layover in Pearson", flying to Toronto's airport. This was the one I was dreading- when I booked the flight, it was a 2h20 layover- "just enough" for Toronto's colossal, chaotic airport. However, shortly after booking I got an email that they'd shifted it 30 minutes earlier- 1h50 was pushing it. I stressed about this for ages, and every day I checked one of the "flight tracker" websites that recorded whether or not the same flight made it on time that day (mine did 90% of the time, at least). And yeah, I wanted a longer layover (3-4 hours at Pearson is usually my minimum), but the website had absolutely no availability like that for some reason.

Thankfully I always book aisle seats if I can help it. I also booked an exit row this time- I'm only 5'9" but I have REALLY long legs for my height, making regular seats murderous, so I know that a 3+ hour flight to Toronto should be made a little more comfortable.

And man... am I the only person who uses a carry-on that's actually a CARRY-ON? I use a rugged old backpack that I used in high school, with just enough food and stuff. The modern carry-ons feel like these gigantic suitcases that need to be pulled on wheels. This naturally distresses flight crews, who start off warning people that they WILL NOT have enough room for all of this, and so people should voluntarily check the baggage. Then there's the fights with people who bring the monster-cases with them, and they won't fit in the "testing rack" thingie, resulting in arguments ("I took this on the FLIGHT HERE!" "Yes, I KNOW, but this is a full flight..." "No, it needs to fit in there WITHOUT you squeezing it..."), the "bag-check of shame", and more. One of the flight attendants just sighed to me "they just keep getting bigger".

Oh, and of course the "Gate Lice". The term airport workers use for people who attach themselves to the gate as soon as boarding starts, regardless of what their actual section is. This clogs up everything and makes it so people often can't get past for their actual boarding group.

In any case, I think I slept a bit and made it to Toronto- I went through security and immigration very quickly (maybe 20 minutes?) and was in Pearson... leaving me only 30 minutes before boarding time (cuz oh yeah, 1h50 in a layover ignores that it's actually 40 minutes before takeoff when you board). Which means that my flight going off without a hitch was actually a borderline REQUIREMENT to make my next flight at all, and had anything gone wrong at all, I might have missed it.

Toronto to Orlando was uncomfortable- to save costs I didn't pre-book a seat and of course ended up squashed in the middle- I have broad enough shoulders this is usually a bad fit. But at least it's only 2-ish hours.

Pretty quickly I was in Orlando- I actually found a nice Elsa magnet at the gift/food ship in the terminal, and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer's greeting played on the shuttle to the main area, and there I was! I got my suitcase pretty quickly (a lesson I learned in 2019 was not to delay and visit a shop- if it gets their early the airlines get panicky and might take your stuff away), checked out the Disney Store there (unfortunately, nothing at this point caught my eye- I feel like merch has downgraded just a tad), and the SeaWorld/Universal shops a bit, then made it to the Mears shuttle to All-Star Movies... and fell asleep for the entire 1-hour journey as it wheeled around various resorts, so I missed people's reaction to the "Welcome to Disney World" sign, haha.

I still miss the (FREE) Magical Express, but at least it's only 16 bucks to get the shuttle.

Next Up: Disney Springs!



(May 5th)

-So it was about 3:00pm when I hit my hotel, so pretty quickly I left for Disney Springs. Now, my "Go-To" at the Springs is always to get ice cream, eat supper around 5-ish, then maybe eat a smaller meal later around 9-10pm and then finish at Ghirardelli. On the past 3 trips, my established restaurant was ALWAYS Paddlefish, as I like seafood and they had pretty big servings. But this time I was kind of tired of it, especially as they never did bring back the tremendous "Seafood Boil" (like someone pulled the Burns Omni-Net through the ocean and dumped it in a vat of butter). So on the recommendations on Disboards, I went to Boathouse instead!

Now, I had to change up the timing of things because it was about 3:45pm by the time I hit the Springs and I didn't want to eat so soon, so ice cream came later. I spent some time in the World of Disney store and checked out the new offerings- in the year and a half since I'd been to Disney they'd actually swapped out most of the merch- I noticed all the Princess Dolls were now larger, more expensive packs with side-characters and a change of clothes rather than the more simple ones they'd had before. New shirts and everything, too, but notably only ONE doll for every character (shockingly, you can't even buy "Frozen 1" Anna & Elsa anywhere). They still had some things like the large castle playset and the like, but nothing really caught my eye here. Which is surprising, as since Disney killed all the Disney Stores I had lost my "weekly trip" to the mall and should have been STARVED for this stuff by now!

I also realized around here that I'd packed my glasses cleaning clothes... but not any actual spray. This is kinda a requirement if you have glasses (water will NOT cut it most of the time) so I had to shop around to find new stuff, lol. Humorously, Disney Springs puts two sunglasses shops almost right next to each other, so when one (Oakley or Sunglass Hut) wasn't too my liking, with a $17 option (!!- they said "Oh but you can refill it at ANY location!"), so I went to whatever the other one was and paid $10 for a mini one and just left it in my side-satchel for my whole trip. This was also handy to clean my phone.




Showing my sister pictures occasionally, she'd be like "Your phone is dirty!". I habitually put my finger on my camera as I grip my phone to pull it out of my pocket. Which explains why I could never seem to take pictures of bright lights that weren't all weird-looking and blurry. That always weirded me out and I just figured that iPhones were not good for photography. I am not a professional photographer, lol.


So I made it to Boathouse around 5pm, and man is that place bigger inside. I've only ever gone to the merch section and kind of checked out the front where the main desk was, but HOLY COW- since it's right on the wharf it's hard to tell just how big it is, but there's room after room after room here, and it is CROWDED. Definitely more popular than Paddlefish. I was sat on the patio outside and took a look at the menu. I'd never asked for recommendations because people generally just seemed to like the place, and I kinda like to be surprised by menus at times, so this was the first time I'd checked it out.


The view from my table.

Naturally I was tempted by half the seafood, but then I see "King Crab Leg" for the highest possible price, and like an absolutely lunatic I paid the $80-odd dollars or whatever to have it. Like a dummy I looked at the "8 oz" statement and was like "that's a bit, right?" and even Googled "Boathouse Disney Crab Legs" to see the portion size and generally saw a bunch of "bowls of legs" and stuff.


"... this has to be the first serving, right?"

So imagine my surprise when the waiter brings out a SINGLE LEG on a plate with some asparagus sprigs on it. I was thinking to myself like "... You're kidding, right? This is the first serving and another one comes later, right?", imagining the memes of "Airport Restaurants be like" and it's a single french fry with a line of ketchup for 15 bucks. I immediately regretted my decision, lol. HOWEVER, once I actually dug in, it was easily the most superior crab leg experience ever, despite the fact that I spilled my butter halfway through and it went all over the place, where the butter got room-temperature instead of hot pretty quick. I was almost tempted to ask for another one (given I'd just blown like $120 Canadian), but this made it easier to spread on the leg, which came apart super easily and was actually rather substantial- they did at least not skimp on the size of the leg.

THANKFULLY, I am delighted to report that despite being agog at the lack of size of my meal, it was actually filling enough that I didn't want to eat anything else for an hour or two. Pretty rare when I'm at Disney and try to eat like I'm trying to develop megadiabetes! So the Boathouse gets a passing grade, though I'm probably never ordering something THAT expensive again! Honestly I shoulda just got... whatever else they had that was expensive, but not "are you out of your mind?" expensive.





-I LOVE the scenery and sounds at these places. Gaudy, noisy and so much fun! They're incredibly well-themed. I'd heard the food was pretty weaksauce, but was corrected on Disboards as they said it was perfectly fine restaurant food, just not really worth the price without the scenery. But again, there's too many options at the Springs so I never really went for it. I did go around taking pictures and looking at the animatronics, though- the main issue is trying to stay out of people's way. There are a LOT of staff milling around heading to tables, sometimes taking a half-dozen people to do a birthday celebration, and the last thing I want to do is get in the way, haha. But I gotta tourist!

One of the more amusing things at Disney to me is "Tracey Tree"- the animatronic tree at Rainforest Cafe that comes to life and gives little facts about nature. I dunno- it's neat.

Honestly though, my favorite thing about these is the volcanic noises, mist-spraying and assorted stuff on the outside of the Rainforest Cafe at night. Some top-tier Disney Ambiance right here. Honestly more "Adventureland" than anything actually IN Adventureland.

-So a while after eating at Boathouse (again, it was oddly filling), I was ready for some ice cream! I went to... that creamery. What's it called, again? It's right in the middle. I got a two-scoop cone of chocolate and something. Arguably too big, as I was too full later on in the evening. Oh well!

My old go-to as a "Second Dinner" was Earl of Sandwich. However, for some insane reason, they GOT RID OF THE BEEF DIP! I can never find it anymore. Even the local one in Edmonton has it! So instead...

I then ended up at the Polite Pig at around 10 pm or so- REALLY quick service and a very different kind of place- a "sauce bar", refillable drinks, they bring your food to your table, and more. The stuff here is REALLY good and I can see why it's so popular. The secondary server caught me doing the "pick up the spilled sauce with your finger and eat it" thing and joked "I can tell you hated EVERY BITE", haha. I will say this is definitely worth it and totally crushes Earl of Sandwich right now.

Despite having come here five times, I've still never gone to Gideon's Bakehouse, haha. I was asking about virtual queues and their waiting lists, but they weren't offering any, and there were GIGANTIC lines all day long every time I looked. I mean, I already had enough to eat. Also when I was at the parks later I saw the big thing going around about how "toxic" a workplace it is and employees begging people not to shop there, so my Fear of Missing Out wasn't in overdrive or anything.

Next Up: More Springs!
Great trip report….and now wondering why those Gideon Rumors have disappeared almost overnight.
Remember a long time ago when a religious organization boycotted Disney?
I always wondered How any child could grow up without Disney .
What else is there? VeggieTales? ( Which is great by the way! ) …
I admit to loving lots of Warner Bros and Universal Studios characters too. !!!
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Looks like they’ve attempted to unionize as of 2 weeks ago. I dunno- “disgruntled employee attempts to savage business’s reputation via social media” is nothing new (Reddit especially is prone to that- half the businesses in town are hit by it), but man that one spread like WILDFIRE.


A lovely Beauty & the Beast thing.

-I was finally able to find more Merch that I liked. A really big Beauty and the Beast thing that I only saw here. Generally, the stuff at the far corner of the Springs has the best Merch- the Art Store, plus the Diamond/Glass showcase stuff, and the one with all the figurines. This is generally one of my "last stops" in the Springs, then I later return to actually buy the things I wanted.


Poor, Unloved Wish Stuff:

-Man, this is so sad. I wasn't a fan of Wish, finding it pretty bland, but oh man seeing just TONS of this merch through all sorts of WDW shops (even at ANIMAL KINGDOM!). It's just piles of stuff that nobody wanted, and so they put these huge 50% discounts on everything. Stuff like "Asha, Queen Amaya and Asha's Friend" in sets and everything. They're gonna be offloading this stuff for YEARS.


Encanto was a surprise hit on Disney+, but the merch was somewhat limited. But this is the only stuff I've seen for Dolores and "End of Movie" Isabela!






Seriously, for such a gigantic, elaborate piece, they could have done more on the faces.

-Now, Frozen is basically my favorite thing ever. I was already a fan of Idina Menzel BEFORE the movie came out, and finding out she was gonna be a Disney character and do Elphaba-tier Wicked songs? I was set and decided I was gonna love it before it even saw release. But it even blew away my expectations and I liked it even more than I thought I would. I buy every dang Frozen thing I can find... which is why it's outstanding that I saw TWO THINGS here that I didn't buy!

The first thing was a lovely set of dolls of 10th-Anniversary Anna & Elsa designed by Brittney Lee herself. Lee is the character designer for Elsa in Frozen- I've listened to a podcast with her where she explains, choking up as she did so, that "People are gonna LOSE THEIR MINDS over Elsa" and that "A lot of guys, and some of the women, fell in love with her", and more. These were very cool-looking, but kind of "out of character" (both have almost dark, mischievous smiles, kinda?), with some neat designs. I would normally have been tempted, even if I hate bringing expensive things home in my suitcase. BUT! ... $300? Really? I mean $150 is kinda common for Disney Designer Dolls, so a double-set being twice that I guess isn't as extreme as I was thinking, but that's a HUGE price tag and again, the exchange rate sucks (it would be like $400 Canadian).

I actually asked a staff member in the Magic Kingdom (the Belle's Bookshop store sells the dolls too) if they were selling and she just admitted flat-out "Not really". The theory was they were just too expensive and people weren't blowing money on the dolls as much as they used to. They said Frozen is STILL a big merch-mover for the company but it just wasn't enough this time. One of the ******* servers I'm on even had someone copping that they bought the set the first day it came out, assuming they'd sell out quickly... and they've been around for months.

The second thing was a big Frozen 1 statuette thing featuring Anna, Elsa & Olaf. Again, I was tempted... but it was HUGE, I had little room for it, and it was like $329, again a huge amount of money in Canadian dollars. I thought it was nice enough, but the expressions... were kinda weird? Anna looks stunned or dead-eyed, and Elsa's making an expression that's half-surprise and half "in the middle of a word in Let It Go". People I showed the pic to were thinking Anna looked "like she'd SEEN some (expletive)" and were even snarkier about it.

So amazingly, despite my usual lack of control with regards to Frozen merch, I actually turned down these two things.




-I did find a nice Frozen Triptych thing of three different pieces for the characters. The individual things were on prints that were again too pricey, but I did eventually find a smaller version containing all three at MK, which I DID buy.





MAX AND POWERLINE! I couldn't find non-framed (ie. $45) versions of this stuff or I'd have been tempted.

-Probably the nicest stuff I saw here were these AMAZING "mixed-media" pieces involving Tinker Bell, Gisele and a few other characters. This stuff was AMAZING but again way too expensive. Amazing to look at, though. Now I kinda wish I'd gone back to the Springs to check it out. This is some of the nicest stuff I've ever seen at Disney, but obviously only for the super well-off. I can't remember the prices but anything framed at Disney is out of my zone.


-I checked out the ceramics/glassware shop, as I always do. I think I spent less time there than I normally would, but it was fine. Some of these things are impressive, while others just look... off-model and weird.



-Ultimately, I actually did by an art. This lovely picture of Megara from Hercules! And eventually I bought two Frozen pins.





-So like I said, I knew this would be my last trip for a WHILE, so I made sure to check out some things I'd never seen before. I'd known from some Cast Member instagrams that the Splitsville bowling alley was actually a popular hangout for staff, so I checked it out. VERY impressive set-up, especially as even with the huge building they shove a surprising amount of alleys in here- every which-way there's a section of them, pointing in different directions. There's even an old-timey restaurant themed to the 1950s between a couple on the upper level! It's a mix of intimate and "There's 900 people here".

When I bought my tickets from Attraction Tickets it also gave me a free Magic Band, which I figured I'd pick up- it was at Planet Hollywood. Apparently they must do this a LOT, because the clerk at the gift shop immediately knew what to do and just walked a half a step over to pick one up out of a pile, haha. And I took that opportunity to actually wander through the facility. I always had kind of a "thing" against checking out restaurants if I wasn't gonna actually eat there, never mind not wanting to inconvenience people by edging up to their tables to take pictures or look at movie memorabilia, so I'd never done this before. Trying to stay out of the way (not easy when even this MASSIVE restaurant is densely packed and has servers bolting every which-way) I managed to look at some stuff. But to be honest the really good stuff is easily found at the front- Dorothy's outfit from The Wizard of Oz and the like. But I checked out all three tiers, saw the videos on the big screen up top, and more.




The "Hidden Entrance" to Enzo's Hideaway, in the Edison's back corner.








Among my favorite "Theming" things- "Expensive Attempts to Look Shoddily-Made".

Another "Bucket List" item- checking out the Edison/Speakeasy! The Edison always had a neat look (and again I've seen some glam CM pictorials set here so I know it's popular with staff), but again I'd never wanted to just barge in to take pictures. But it was around 10pm when I went in, and it was pretty quiet with only stragglers. Their bathrooms look REALLY cool, and there's this neat multi-station sink right between the two. And also... the SECRET PASSAGE! Yeah, I read there's a secret passage here- there's an unmarked (*checks pic* uh, never mind) door right by the bathrooms... that leads you right to the Speakeasy at Enzo's Hideaway!

The Speakeasy itself is pretty cool, but as some have noted, it kind of loses the "Little Hideaway" effect by being this gigantic room with tables the size of trees. But there's a lot of "graffiti" on the walls and it's very well-themed- rare for a Disney Springs restaurant.

-One surprising thing I found on this trip was... it wasn't getting dark until LATE. I mean, really late- like 8pm. This surprised me, because I was fairly sure I remembered my past April & May trips resulting in Disney getting super dark by 5-6 pm. Thankfully the Springs don't close until 11, so I still had time.

One of my favorite little "ambiance" things in all of WDW is the area where Enzo's Hideaway is. It just looks REALLY cool at night, and like nothing else on Earth- how many things have this little "cylindrical tower" with the neon signs and then you go down another level to the entrance? And there's a bridge and stuff. I dunno- it's just neat.

Sadly, and this is funnily enough my biggest regret from this day, I didn't have time to go to Ghirardelli. I always made this a thing, ever since my first visit in 2014 when I couldn't find a real restaurant to eat at (I didn't realize EVERYTHING needed reservations) and just ate junk food all day. I usually get a milkshake or something here. But after cramming Boathouse, ice cream and Polite Pig into a 5-hour stretch, I was feeling bloated and was finally at my limit, and didn't want to make myself sick on my very first night.

It wasn't until very late by the time I made it to the corridor with House of Blues, which was rather empty- it's often a "late night visit" to just check out the store (where I never buy anything- just check out the Blues Brothers statues and look at the huge bar close by), but this time I borderline forgot where it was and had to circle back. Also down this corridor is a Star Wars shop and a Marvel shop, neither of which was that outstanding (though there's some really good Star Wars dolls out there now.

I theorized that I'd come back here again one night after a shorter park-day, but I found I was usually too tired after most days or there wasn't enough time left, and most of the merch I liked was available at MK shops as well, so I never found the reason to. Oh well.

It wouldn't be until I went home that I realized I'd forgotten to go to the Lego Store ENTIRELY. Not that I was ever super enamored with it. But I also forgot to go to LOVEPOP! They have a really nice set of cards themed around all sorts of things that you can make into "pop-up" things and I totally glossed it over, walking right by it and then never seeing it again. Again, it wasn't until I got home and saw my Lovepop Frozen card that I had noticed my error. Though to be fair I still haven't actually put that card together, lol- it spent months and months in a bag on the floor of my room and then I just left the unopened card on a chair.

To be fair, Lovepop has a REALLY tiny unit and it's easy to miss, especially as it's so close to the entrance that I find myself rushing by it at beginning and end of the day.

-A fine enough Springs adventure. Started a bit too late for my liking- 3:30-11 maybe? Okay that's a LOT, but I could always cram in more, and I could have checked out some other shops.

Hey everyone! I'm back with another Trip Report, this one being a very long solo trip from May 5-17th!

Why "Going Out With a Bang"? Well I'll detail it more later, but the last trip was so pricey I actually had to save up for the current one, and this ended up even worse, so it might be ages before I can go again! So I stuffed as much stuff as I could in this one to make it count!

Previous Trips:
First time ever trip. 5 days at Disney, 2 at Universal.
2015: Tokyo Disneyland. 2 days in each park. Trip Report: https://www.disboards.com/threads/tokyo-disney-trip-report.3803602/
2017: Disneyland Paris, 2 days as part of a 2-week UK/France trip.
2019: Second trip- one so great I almost made plans to move down here and work, despite the horrible weather and pay. When I first realized that meeting characters was fun. I'd initially made plans to come by EVERY YEAR, figuring it was only $3000 or so per trip (it was not). 6 days at Disney, 1 at Universal.
2021: The Post-COVID trip. Small parades, less to do, barely meet & greets back, but okay. 8 days, all Disney.
2022: Another amazing trip, but the heightened cost was an eye-opener. 10 days, all Disney. Trip report: https://www.disboards.com/threads/t...magic-is-back-ish-the-trip-summation.3897325/

And now we come to my fifth trip!

-My name is Grant- I'm now 42-years old and have been going to Disney Parks about 15 years or so. Always solo trips- none of my friends were as wildly into Disney as I am, I'm single, and all my friends & siblings have small children so if I was gonna go, I'd have to go on my own! Disneyphiles tell me they're jealous of the fact that I can do this- solo trips are the "long-lost dream" of most Disney Adults, lol. I was going to do "one trip per year", but the realities of the cost started hitting me about when I realized I'd done most things there were to do, so I'll probably scale it back a bit.

I'm a HUGE fan of the musical Wicked, hence wearing shirts to Disney... which turned out to be a big icebreaker, as apparently most Disney fans are obsessed with it, too (and even a few Princesses, lol). My other Disney Default is Powerline-related stuff from A Goofy Movie (which is huge among people... 10-15 years younger than me, actually).

I'm from Canada, meaning the trip to Disney is a bit more of an ordeal (and expensive- the exchange rate suuuuuuuuuuucks) than it is for others.
I am joining in!
So before I get into my day at Animal Kingdom, I have to get into something that became quite apparent in the next couple of days:

* Early May in Florida was unseasonably hot even by that State's standards. I mean, even people who were actually native to the region were complaining- days later a Cast Member at the Pooh ride was like "I was BORN HERE, and even I find this hot!" and was mourning the notion that "PLEASE not another hot summer!". And keep in mind I'm from Western Canada where something like 40C is almost impossible to imagine.

I mean it was like 95-105 for almost an entire week- I hadn't noticed it at Disney Springs (which has mostly indoor stuff), and Animal Kingdom somewhat mitigates it by giving boatloads of opportunities for shade, but HOO BOY. And for whatever reason, most of the parks aren't really able to handle the extreme heat, with large swaths of no cover at all.

And it's hot EVERY time I go to Disney- I distinctly recall going in Oct. 2022 and suffering under the blazing sun while having to wait for parades or Magical Friendship Faires. But in every other trip it's also been humid- people say "It's not the heat, it's the humidity" so much it's a cliche but the fact that I was covered in sweat the second I stepped outside was always a nuisance (I would literally use my hand across my forehead like a squeegee and flick water onto the pavement)... but even then I felt somewhat used to it. I've gone in April, May, November & October before and it was always hot and swampy, but tolerable, usually with a huge thunderstorm. But now it's this dry, hot blazing sunshine and more annoyingly, not even the slightest bit of cloud cover until the second week of my vacation. A cloudless sky is something I've almost never witnessed in Alberta- it's hard to describe just how odd that looks.

And yeah, the parks aren't mitigating this- not only is there zero cover, no misters, and few outdoor fans... but the water fountains give HOT WATER. What even is that? That seems like an ironic punishment they'd come up with in Hell! I guess a combination of all the fountains being in direct sunlight and wherever they gather water from also heating up the water gives you this "lukewarm at best" bit of water.

This sort of became an issue in most of the early days of my vacation- I was pretty careful with hydration & sunscreen, but had a mistake with the latter on Day 3 that burned pretty bad. In Epcot I was beset with a bizarre amount of chafing I've never seen before that only happened then. And of course Animal Kingdom during drastic heat just puts the animals into shutdown-mode. I had it pretty good, too- I've been hearing for two months that heat is full-on dropping people like flies in the parks and people are being taking out on stretchers constantly.

The "positive" is that there was very little rain- I saw a midafternoon storm once and it wasn't even that bad, no parades were cancelled, and I think it only rained twice across 13 days. Apparently it's a huge drought and is a major issue in Florida, which is probably also why it was so hot.

But yeah, it was blazing hot from about Monday till Saturday, I think, and then we finally got some cloud cover and a "mere" Normal Florida Heat temperature.

* Everyone was mostly fine this time around! On past trips I've talked about some shocking admissions from staff, and even when chatting in-depth with some workers I didn't hear too much complaining. In 2022 one girl flat-out told me about how the popular clip of Frozen's Anna doing sign language with a deaf guest "Probably earned a REPRIMAND!" (you're not supposed to use different languages with guests), others have talked about not making enough money to live, etc. But most everyone here seemed to be having a good time (this is in spite of many of them complaining online about shortened hours and Disney over-relying on cheaper Disney College Program labor).

But then I usually have good interactions with staff. Being a retail worker myself, I think I have a natural ability to speak with workers on their own level, lol. It helps that I know all of the things workers hate THE MOST and thus avoid them- things like walking up and braying "you look bored!" or "I'll give you something to do!" to staff, making stupid dad jokes (I can assure you that no worker EVER enjoys this, because it's usually the 900th one they've heard and they just have to sit there and take it), etc. I approach them with enough cynicism that most workers can DEFINITELY get into, haha.

I think the only grumpy CM I encountered was doing the "Magical Friendship Faire" job (ie. standing at the side of the stage behind a rope to tell people what it was; whether it was gonna be cancelled, etc.). They are given ZERO information by absolutely everyone and so their annoyance with not being told anything is usually apparent, but only one lady seemed particularly put out to be there. Good odds considering how much that job has to suck!

* Mostly everyone was well-behaved. I saw one incident of my worst nightmare- the "Waiting in Line Slapfight". ie. when young people get bored and start playing a game where they just run up and slap each other- usually it's little kids but this time I saw teenagers doing it in the TRON line. The close quarters of Disney make this an INCREDIBLY bad idea, but it was two unsupervised 12-14 year olds and it was only for a bit. The worst I saw was years ago in Pandora when three little kids were running around doing it while mom talked to grandma, completely ignoring it, lol.

There were a TON of Brazilians in the parks this time around, which I've heard about but had never seen in numbers. I'd been reading for years about bad behavior from Brazilian tour groups (even on this site), to the point where a lot of the ranting was going WAY over the line into "I hate people from this country!" and "How can I avoid these people!?" but I didn't see any bad behavior so either stuff has changed or it was exaggerated in the first place.

I also saw no screaming matches between guests and security. I remember seeing a lot of that in 2014 & 2019 but now it seems like everyone was fine.
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(May 6th)

-So I make it a regular thing to NOT go to the Magic Kingdom on my first day- as it's my favorite park and the one with the most stuff, I try not to have a "bringdown" that early and go to other things. Animal Kingdom is often a go-to "first one" because it's also a colossal walking park, and I like to not already be tired and with sore feet by the time I do that one. I did it first in 2014 & 2019 at least.

So on to Animal Kingdom! Which opens at the hellacious hour of 8am, meaning I had to wake up at like 5:30 to get to the park early enough for the 7:30 "hotel guests get in early" thing. So I did the long, curving walk into Pandora and two "Avatar: Flight of Passage", hitting Genie+ for a ride later that day as well, then doing regular G+ for the Kilimanjaro Safaris.




Sadly, the floating "Avatar" animatronic thing in the ride's regular line was not there! When I asked a CM about it, he said it'd been a week or so. Too bad- it's the best reason to actually use the regular queue.

Because the park wasn't open that late and it was dark MUCH later, I missed out on "nighttime Pandora". Oddly, I felt a bit rushed at points and only did a bit of wandering their trails, too. I don't think I spotted the floating trilobite things this time, nor did I get the right angle to see the "fake waterfall" up at the top of the mountain (there's one that's just a blue-painted wheel to give the illusion of water). Since I was doing Tiffin's for dinner, I didn't go to the Avatar quick-service thing. I always liked their bowls with the meat and those alien-looking flavor-beads (even the BOWL is unique-looking!). I went on Flight of Passage again later on.

I hit the River Journey a bit later. Has anyone ever been able to actually READ the signs regarding the animals in this attraction? It's always too dark, with text that doesn't stand out to me. The Journey ride is always "okay" to me, but the animatronic at the end is AMAZING and it's worth it just for that. Though it's funny- in 2019, I was able to ride this three times, once near park closing. Now, I can only ever manage it once. It's like it got busier!







Naked Mole Rats!


-Sadly, the hot weather meant most of these were kind of busts. The gorillas were just laid out, the tiger was asleep, and more. Animals hate hot weather, too! I always felt the Maharajah one was poorly-planned- it has some of the best scenery in any Disney park EVER, but there's just... a single tiger, some antelope & cattle way up on a hill, and a small aviary and some bats & komodo dragons. It's just not that much stuff to justify all the scenery!




I really like going around the Africa & Asia areas just looking at the "fake weathered" buildings. I think I'd skipped this over at points, but most people online swear by this stuff as some of Disney's best. And it really kind of is.











Cheetah! Hard to spot here.

-These are always fun. I swear by them now- back in the day I'd go maybe once, but now I go as many times as possible. I got G+ for one, and then when I saw a 5-minute wait, I was astonished and bolted over. It was after the rain, I think, and a CM told me "It's ALWAYS like this in the afternoon". So I went at 9:50 and later at about 5pm. I didn't see anything that cool compared to past trips, though- again, the heat is murder. In 2022 I saw a baby rhino get the zoomies and just bolt all over the place, animals came close, etc. Here it was more chill and stuff was kinda standing far away.

One thing that's interesting is the elephants are only found here, and they're always REALLY FAR AWAY. But it's nice to see them- they're a rare sight in Canada now, as zoos have slowly figured that putting elephants inside all winter is not for the best. And they have plenty of rhinos here, too!

Next Up: Tiffin's! The rest of Animal Kingdom! Then going to Magic Kingdom later!



-So at AK, I've always been a "quick service" guy, but this time around I felt like I'd finally eat at that huge restaurant right in the area between Pandora & the Tree of Life. Tiffin's was fairly recommended and I can see why. Really nice interior, it has a little "relaxation room" thing off to the side (no guests were seated there this time around), there are two big sections for guests (mine, with a lot of big pillars with animal designs on them, and one for larger groups seated around tables- I didn't take as many pictures as I thought, though- I wonder if it was just too busy, this being about 5:30 and I didn't want to be randomly taking pictures of seated families, haha). There was an option for plenty of fish but none of them looked that great- people were getting fish with the heads attached and stuff and I find myself always having to DIG for the good stuff with those meals.

The steak thing here was SUPER good- I think I defaulted to steak at nearly every restaurant on property, haha. You know it's a fancy meal because they have those "sauce circles" all around and some of them taste different from each other. Those little swirly things were actually PORK RINDS- you know you're eating fancy when you see that stuff on a menu!



I do love that they randomly have gibbons & howler monkeys out in the middle of the park like this. With GREAT enclosures and a great use of potentially empty space.

I was a bit shocked around 6pm to walk by part of the Tree of Life and see a meet & greet for MOANA there! Those weren't listed on the map! I didn't realize until a couple days later there was a separate one for characters entirely. It had already closed. I'd actually thought about heading by during a dead point on another park day, but there's meetings for Moana at EPCOT now so I waited until then. I'd actually seen a CM I follow on Instagram post herself as Pocahontas hanging out with friends, so I asked about that at the Magic Kingdom, and the Guest Relations CM was like "Oh they probably set up a special one for their friends" and assured me that there was no Pocahontas m&g anywhere. I've still never, ever gone to Rafiki's Planet Watch, as it's mostly meet & greets I've heard, which is hilarious given my usual tendencies to "do EVERYTHING!" and the fact that I've been to this park five times now, spending as much time as possible there.



I hit Expedition Everest a bit later- it was down for an hour or so when I tried before. It's good as always- it's funny how the "backwards in the dark" part always feels like going on a loop to me. I did the Dinosaur ride as well- I've never been as enchanted with this one (the animatronics are so RUBBERY!), but I do like the paleontological exhibits in the queue. I'm always surprised by the size of Carnotaurus- it's not one of the biggest theropods, but it's skeleton looks suspiciously gigantic in the queue.

I actually saw the bird show again! I mean, I haven't seen this in ten years! I don't know if it was open much since COVID, but I remember bits and pieces of it from the last time, like having the large owl swoop over the audience. Here the birds were humorously disagreeable- one repeatedly refused to go to a guy holding something and instead perched elsewhere, and another literally swiped the male host's headset and ran backstage! The guy ran off to get it, with someone in the audience suggesting that's not a regular part of the show and was unplanned. The trained parrot was funny, and they even explained afterwards how the tricks work- they make certain head gestures that tell the bird to do certain things.

Unlike past trips, I didn't really go about by the Tree of Life's corridors. I even forgot about "Tough to Be A Bug!" entirely. To be fair I've gone on it twice and it was mostly fun just for the reactions of people to being attacked by insects and losing their minds, so it wasn't REALLY necessary, but I guess I could have tried. Just tough to fit in theater shows in a park that's open a paltry 11.5 hours! Never mind that I did FoP twice and the Safari twice, in addition to an hour spent on dinner and assorted other wandering.

Speaking of, I didn't really go into the dino-areas much at all. Just not enough time and it's too far away from other stuff. In fact, a lot of this felt oddly rushed. Probably because of missing time for supper and the like. It wasn't until a bit later that I realized it will have been the last time I ever saw most of the Dinosaur-related stuff in this park. It's not the hugest loss, but I do recall my last trip wandering around Restaurantosaurus and being ASTONISHED at the sheer size of it. I mean it's actually a huge maze of corridors with nearly endless space!



I know I ate here in 2022 for quick service, but it was closed by the time I finally saw it.

I barely managed to do my big AK stand-by- getting soft-serve ice cream at that "bus" location by Expedition Everest. I also did the BBQ quick-service place either before or after supper. BBQ is a big thing for me at these parks, haha.


-So yes, Animal Kingdom closes at 7pm. It's for the animals, I hear- not good for them to be busy non-stop all day long. It makes sense- I've never been to a zoo that was open later than 5pm. The only pity was it actually gets dark VERY late here- I distinctly remember Disney World always getting dark at 5pm every time I went, but not so now- it didn't get dark until about 7, thus robbing me of "Pandora at night". Instead of messing about in shops (I'd already been to many of them) near the Tree of Life, I figured I'd go to either the Springs and check out some stuff I'd missed... but then I realized that MK was open until ELEVEN! This was a recurring thing on Mondays, apparently!

So sure enough, I hit a bus and went right from AK to Magic Kingdom to stay until midnight (remember this when it's Day 6 and I'm like "MAN I am unusually tired for some weird reason!"). There wasn't TOO much to do and I didn't want to cram into lines, but I went to a few things. The Jungle Cruise late at night! Checking out "Happily Ever After" fireworks!

Unfortunately, my Jungle Cruise didn't have a really good sound system and so I couldn't hear the skipper very well. This went badly by the end because we got stalled at the drop-off point and when I raised my hand for something, she put me on the spot and asked me a question, like "How xxxxx was it?" and I didn't hear well enough, so just gave a totally flat answer like "... REALLY xxxxx". ah well.




Funnily enough, when I went on Pirates of the Caribbean, I took a look to my left in one of the two "city" rooms... and there was a PERSON THERE! In the upper part of the backdrop, past where there are any animatronics! I swear I saw the outline of a person's head in silhouette. Staring at it and squinting, trying to figure out if I was seeing things right... it waved at me! I laughed and waved back, figuring it was a CM who was just messing about on the job and got spotted. When I told someone about this later that night, they joked "It was probably George!" (a supposed ghost who stays in the attraction). I'm to understand there is NEVER supposed to be anyone in there during show-hours.











I was concerned during this trip that Elena of Avalor, one of my favorite characters, wasn't meeting as often- I've seen people meeting other Princesses late at night. I brought my concerns to Guest Relations, who told me that while Pocahontas DOESN'T meet (they brought that back almost right after I got home from my vacation, in fact), "Elena IS meeting tonight!". So of course I went in to the Princess Fairytale Hall and saw Aurora in there instead, haha. I even heard one girl shout "I wanted ELENA!" with disappointment. So she's apparently still a tiny bit of a draw! But you won't see her at night (on six days in this park, I almost never saw her after 6pm).

Aurora was fun, though- she did a "triple-tap" of my shirt (that must be in the movie, because another girl did the same thing at EPCOT days later) and commented about how she liked the purple color and we talked about Flora & Merrywether's arguments about the pink & blue, and how a mix of the two would be nice!

I also met Cinderella, Rapunzel & Tiana about the same time. I actually don't recall much about these ones, though Tiana ALWAYS seems to recognize my Goofy Movie t-shirts and it leads to a conversation about "music stars" (because Powerline is one, you see), and her own love of music.




"Happily Ever After"- the fireworks & "castle projection show". I actually only got to do this one once, in 2019, and I really loved it then, much as it's annoying to shove everyone in the park into the field in front of the castle and require you to camp out for a good spot. I was fine with "Enchantment" and was like "is it REALLY as worse as HEA as people are saying?", as it'd been a long time since I'd seen HEA, but sure enough, a week later they aired both within an hour and a half of each other and it made it VERY clear how much better HEA was, haha. More iconic music, better sequences, and better flow.

Though on this one I was mostly traipsing around the back of the park while it was on. That's ALSO a fun thing to do- I have some "Core Memories" of my 2019 trip hearing the soaring music during the show while hanging around by Liberty Square and having a bit of a moment about it. I also checked out the Main Street shops and more until about midnight, then took off for the hotel, where I got a super-short amount of sleep before having to get up for Extra Magic Hours for Magic Kingdom the very next day! Because I am insane.



Some pictures of Tiana's Bayou Adventure, which still hasn't fully opened yet.





Oh, tempting stupid-expensive Frozen thing...

-Okay one day I might see The Festival of the Lion King, haha. People have sung its praises but I'm just ALWAYS busy at this park! Also I didn't realize there were actual meet & greets with Face Characters so I might have tried to do that. As good as Tiffin's was, doing a big restaurant kills off about an hour of potential park-time, which is probably why I felt more "rushed" through Pandora and didn't try to re-do either of the Treks to see if the animals were more awake later in the day. Maybe it would have been fun to see Restaurantosaurus one last time, though it's not like any of the scenery is that great aside from the main room with the dino-heads.

I also think there's shops I maybe didn't go in? Or like I remembered doing it but that might have been 2022? Like the one shop with African gifts (where there's a guy outside selling those animal sculptures)- I know I've been there before but was it THIS trip? I know I went by it near park closing at 7pm.

In retrospect, perhaps I could have actually bused over here mid-day from MK or EPCOT, but those parks usually had things I needed to see at certain times (shows; dining reservations), so it just never worked out. And this park is FAR from the other ones and nothing I really wanted to see was worth missing an hour of park-time in travel.


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