The Fourth Time's the Charm! Nov 24 - Dec 1 2018 WDW Trip *Updated 2/17/19*

Discussion in 'Disney Trip Reports' started by Unca’ Donald, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. Unca’ Donald

    Unca’ Donald Earning My Ears

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    Hi, my name is Jonathan. I live in Maine and this is my first trip report. I'm still fairly new to the boards. I discovered them a few weeks before the trip while I was looking for info specific to 2018 MVMCP and I decided to join so I could ask some questions. I figured it would be fun to post a report on the trip once I got back. Two months later and I'm finally getting to it. :o

    This was the fourth WDW trip together for my girlfriend (Michelle) and I, and our first trip when it's been decorated for the holidays. Here are some pics of our previous trips:


    MAY 2010

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    MAY 2013

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    OCTOBER 2015

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    Here's a pic of our cat, Keiko, who we adopted from the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland in April of 2016:

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    and here's one of her in her "princess bed" as I like to call it:

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    That's all for right now. It took me way too long to figure out how to post pics via Google Photos on here. :crazy2:

    I'm off to watch Christoper Robin but I'll be back at it tomorrow (possibly later tonight) with a little more about myself, why "The Fourth Time's the Charm!" and then I'll dive right in to day one of our trip.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  2. Unca’ Donald

    Unca’ Donald Earning My Ears

    Joined:
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    I'm back with a quick bio


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    Favorite Park: Magic Kingdom

    Favorite Rides: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Expedition Everest, Tower of Terror, Avatar Flight of Passage

    Favorite Shows: Festival of the Lion King, The Muppets Present... Great Moments in American History

    Favorite Park Treats: Ice cream cookie sandwiches, cupcakes

    Favorite Disney Characters: Donald Duck, Captain Hook, Jiminy Cricket, Baloo, Chip and Dale

    Favorite Disney Movies: Pinocchio, The Jungle Book, Peter Pan


    I also like PIXAR, The Muppets, Star Wars, and Marvel. I enjoy most of the PIXAR movies except for Cars 2 and Cars 3. Beaker is my favorite Muppet. I love the Original Trilogy and prefer to watch the original theatrical versions I saw in theaters as a kid. While I enjoy most of the Marvel movies I'm more into the classic comics (60's-80's) with my favorite character being Thor.


    Other Interests and Favorites

    Movies: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Goonies, The Dark Crystal, E.T.

    TV shows: Babylon 5, Farscape, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly

    Comic Books: The Sixth Gun, Saga, Deadly Class, Paper Girls

    Music: I mostly listen to ska and 80's music. Favorite bands are Streetlight Manifesto, Big D and the Kids Table, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and The Aquabats. Also love listening to Suburban Legends and Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra Disney covers.


    So now that that's out of the way, what is the meaning of the title of this thread? Well, for each our first three trips we pretty much went with no plan other than our Fastpasses and ADRs. That was fine for our first trip in 2010. We didn't go on many rides, but I hadn't even been to Disney World since I was like four years old in the late 70's, so I was content with just walking around the parks and taking pictures of everything. It was even fine for 2013. We hadn't been in three years and there were new areas to explore (New Fantasyland). We did go on a few more rides that time but I enjoyed just walking around the parks looking at everything as much as I had in 2010. When we went back in 2015 I was ready to start doing more rides. Michelle was the one who would always book our FPs and ADRs and she intended to do more planning for that trip but never got around to it. I remember being very frustrated on our first MK day that year because we spent so much time walking around aimlessly looking for something to do. We weren't going to make the same mistake again.

    Michelle was going to be out of state visiting family the week of Memorial Day last year. The day that we could start making our ADRs was during that week, so she wanted me to do it. There were a few places she definitely wanted to eat but she mostly let me choose the times and locations, and didn't disagree with any of the selections I made. As it got closer to the day we could choose our FPs she asked me if I would do that too. In the past she always had to wake up earlier on that day to get ready for work before the 7:00 am window opening and she didn't want to do that this time around. Since I was going to be making the selections it was time for me to start some research. She told me she had been looking at Disney Tourist Blog so I decided to start there. I read everything I could about FP strategy and learned about rope dropping. The two nights before the morning I could make the selections I ended up staying up much later than intended, making sure I knew exactly which rides I wanted and the times I wanted them for, writing everything down. Then the morning comes and I'm ready to go, and the website keeps crashing. 20 minutes have gone by and I haven't been able to do anything. I thought for sure I would miss out on Flight of Passage, Slinky Dog, etc. I'd spent all of this time doing research for nothing! Then I finally got in and was able to get FOP. I went to make another selection and the site crashes again. Luckily I don't have to be to work until 9:30 am, so I had plenty of time to keep trying. I needed that time and then some. I eventually had to get to work and I continued trying to fill my selections when I got there. After about an hour of trying, while working, I finally had everything booked. It had taken over 3 1/2 hours to make 15 FP selections.

    So with the ADRs and FPs all set I decided to try and plan out the entire days at the parks. I started looking at other websites and blogs, reading about different rope drop strategies and itineraries. I was doing this just about every night after work. Michelle told me I was becoming obsessive. The thing is I actually enjoyed doing it. I found it all fascinating and I looked at it
    as a personal challenge to try and plan out "perfect" days at the parks. I especially enjoyed reading all of the different rope drop strategies on Easy WDW, even the ones that wouldn't really be comparable to the times and crowds that we were expecting for our trip. As the weeks went by I continued to tweak our ADRs and FPs and went through multiple drafts of each day. Eventually I was able to fully plan out our Epcot day from rope drop to the end of Illuminations, our AK day from rope drop to park close, our first MK day from rope drop (for me) until the 6:15 castle lighting, and our MVMCP MK day from rope drop (for me) until the end of the party. The only day I didn't really plan out was our DHS day. I knew roughly what we'd be doing up until lunch, but after that we were just going to wing it.

    So we were ready to go to WDW the week after Thanksgiving with just about everything all planned out, but how would those plans go? In my next update I'll share how our first day went. We'd be arriving in the early evening and planned to spend 3 or 4 hours around the Boardwalk. Sounds simple enough, right? *Spoiler Alert* The first night didn't go nearly as well as planned.


     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  4. buteraa

    buteraa DIS Veteran

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    Hi and welcome! Congrats on your first trip report, I looking forward to reading more.
     
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  5. Unca’ Donald

    Unca’ Donald Earning My Ears

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    Thanks! I'm looking to update within the next couple of days.
     
  6. LurkerLisa

    LurkerLisa Mouseketeer

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    Following!
     
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  7. DLo

    DLo DIS Veteran

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    Following along looking forward to reading more about your adventures
     
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  8. b5sgqueen

    b5sgqueen Earning My Ears

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    I must follow any who loves Babylon 5! The Corps is Mother, The Corps is Father.
     
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  9. cheshiregoofy22

    cheshiregoofy22 Mouseketeer

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    Fellow Mainer here! Looking forward to following your first trip report!
     
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  10. Unca’ Donald

    Unca’ Donald Earning My Ears

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    Saturday, November 24, 2018 - Part 1: Travel Day


    I don't recall what time we woke up that morning, I just remember we both had trouble sleeping the night before. Actually, whenever we are going to fly to Disney World we don't sleep well the night before. I think Michelle doesn't sleep well because she's nervous about flying. Me? I don't sleep well because I feel like a 10 year old kid the night before Christmas. Too excited to fall asleep. We were flying JetBlue out of Boston, MA so my dad was picking us up at home and driving us to the bus station in Portland, ME which is about 15 minutes away from us. It was chilly that morning, about 20 degrees, but I didn't want to bring a jacket with me on the trip. The forecast for our week in Orlando was showing some colder days in the middle of the week so I was bringing two zip-up hoodies, a thin one and a thick one. I decided to just throw on a t-shirt and a pair of jeans and wear the thick hoodie in place of a jacket. We arrived at the bus station about a half hour before we could board.

    There isn't much to say about the bus ride down. It took about 2 hours and I spent a good deal of it playing Disney games (Magic Kingdoms and Emoji Blitz) on my phone. After arriving at Logan International Airport, and going through TSA PreCheck, we had nearly 2 hours to kill. We made our way to Terminal C and there was a Boston Beerworks there. I told Michelle I wanted to grab a beer at the bar. She went off to find a quick bite to eat and would meet me back there. A quick glance at the tap list and I knew just what I wanted, the Cookie Stout. I like most styles of beer but stouts are definitely my favorite. I might as well post the pic of it since it was the only picture I took that day before we arrived in FL.

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    It was an oatmeal milk stout brewed with chocolate chip cookies and conditioned on vanilla beans and cocoa nibs. It sounded great, and looked good in the glass, but I found it to be rather flavorless and disappointing. I only had one beer but we were at the bar for quite a while. It was busy and there was pretty much only one woman doing everything the majority of the time I was there. After I finished the beer it was at least 10 minutes before I got the bill, and another 10 minutes before the payment was collected. I normally wouldn't have been too impressed having to wait that long but, like I said, we had time to kill. After leaving the Beerworks we went to the boarding area for our flight and sat down to wait. We waited probably close to a half hour before boarding.

    The flight was scheduled to depart at 12:57 but I think it ended up being 10-15 minutes later. Once we were in the air I was anxious for the TVs to come on. I've been a Michigan Wolverines football fan since 1993 and they were playing the big game against Ohio State. When the TVs finally went online there were only a couple of minutes left in the first half. Michigan was trailing 24-19 at halftime so they were right in it. Once the 3rd quarter started it only took about 3 minutes for Ohio State to score a TD. By now I was feeling pretty tired from only sleeping a few hours the night before, and I didn't feel good about the way the game was going for Michigan, so I decided to just let myself doze off if I could. I later woke up just in time to see Michigan lining up to punt the football away, only to have Ohio State block the kick and take it into the end zone. I don't recall what the score was at that point but the game was pretty much out of hand, so I began looking for something else to watch.

    After landing and claiming our luggage we attempted to make our way to Disney's Magical Express check-in. I say "attempted" because every time we arrive at Orlando International Airport we get lost trying to find it. This time was no different. We eventually found our way there and we were through the check-in at 5:00 pm. I only know that because that's what time I took this picture:

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    We hopped on the bus destined for Port Orleans French Quarter and arrived about 40 minutes later.

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    After entering the lobby we walked to the front desk to check in. We know you can do that ahead of time on the My Experience app, but if we had done that then I wouldn't have been able to take this picture:

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    Actually, we waited to check in when we arrived so we could ask about opting out of Mousekeeping. We don't have kids, and we weren't going to be spending any time in our room other than sleeping, so we decided we'd rather have the gift card. Also, Michelle wanted to see if we could get a room close to the bus stop.
    Once that was taken care of we made our way to the back exit (seen bellow) and to the left towards our room on the 3rd floor of building 6.

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    It's getting late so I'm going to stop right here for now. I'll be back tomorrow night with Part 2 of our arrival day. Same mouse-time, same mouse-channel!
     
  11. cassidy57

    cassidy57 Mouseketeer

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    Beautiful picture of the French Quarter. Enjoying your report, can't wait to hear more.
     
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  12. Unca’ Donald

    Unca’ Donald Earning My Ears

    Joined:
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    Happy Valentine's Day everyone! We just finished watching Lady and the Tramp and I'm ready to pick up where I left off last night with my trip report after a quick pic. I took this picture during the Once Upon A Time castle projection show on the 5th day of our trip, but it seemed appropriate to post it here tonight.

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    Saturday, November 24, 2018 - Part 2: Evening on the BoardWalk

    As soon as I opened the door to our hotel room I imagine there was a look of confusion on my face. We had stayed at POFQ for each of our previous 3 trips and I wasn't aware that the rooms had been refurbished. It definitely felt odd at first but we settled in and prepared to head out for a night of 3 or 4 hours around the BoardWalk. The temperature was in the mid 70's so I changed into a pair of shorts and was ready to go. The plan was to grab a sandwich at BoardWalk Bakery, walk to the Beach Club and Yacht Club resorts to look at the decorations, and then go back to the BoardWalk to check out the street performers and look at the BoardWalk Inn decorations. This should have easily been the least stressful part of our entire week. It was 6:40 as we headed toward the stairs and I took a quick pic of the grounds below.

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    We got to the bus stop and I figured it made the most sense to to take the bus to Epcot, since that was the closest park to the BoardWalk, and then take a bus to the BoardWalk Inn. So we get to Epcot and walk over to the information board to see which gate we need to go to for a bus to the BoardWalk Inn, only to find out that there isn't one. I had read that the Boardwalk was within walking distance of Epcot by way of a path through the international gateway, but I never considered that this meant there was no need for a bus there. The information board said to take the bus to Hollywood studios to get to the BoardWalk, so we got on the bus for DHS.

    We arrived at DHS and checked to see which bus gate was for the BoardWalk Inn. Guess what? There wasn't one! I suggested we just walk to it (didn't realize at the time we could have taken a boat) but Michelle didn't like that idea. We knew for sure we could get a bus from Disney Springs to the BoardWalk, having done so in the past, so we got on the bus to Disney Springs.

    This ended up not being a great idea. It was Saturday night and as we got near Disney Springs the traffic was heavy. We finally arrived at Disney Springs and went to the bus gate for BoardWalk Inn. It was pretty full and Michelle said "There's no way we're getting on the next bus." She was right. Thankfully it didn't take too long for another bus to pull up and we got on. Unfortunately the bus also had to make stops at Swan and Dolphin, Beach Club, and Yacht Club before BoardWalk Inn. To top it all off an ECV needed to be loaded on at one of the stops.

    We finally arrived at the BoardWalk around 9:20. From the time we stepped out of our room at POFQ, to the time we arrived, it had taken about 2 1/2 hours to get there. So basically our bus ride to the BoardWalk took a half hour longer than our bus ride from Portland, ME to Boston, MA. Ugh. We were both frustrated and hungry as we made our way to BoardWalk Bakery. I ordered the big and beefy sandwich and a Mickey Oreo cupcake. Michelle needed to speak with someone about preparing a sandwich for her as there are now a lot of foods she isn't able to eat that she could before. For the most part on this trip she would just be ordering chicken prepared plain and certain vegetables or rice. As she was doing this I went outside to find us a table.

    The big and beefy sandwich was definitely big, mostly because the focaccia bread was very thick. They could have taken one of the slices and sliced it in half, and that would have been more than enough bread for a sandwich for me. I hadn't eaten anything since I left home that morning so I was very hungry and didn't bother to take a pic of the sandwich. It was a little difficult to eat because of the overly thick bread but it was decent. I was just about finished with it by the time Michelle made it out to the table with her sandwich. By the time I was done eating the cupcake, which was very good, we were both finished with our meal.

    I had originally planned to get an ice cream at Ample Hills Creamery after we returned from the Beach Club and Yacht Club, but since we had wasted a few hours on buses there was no way we'd be visiting those resorts at this point. I already knew several weeks ahead of time which ice cream I would be getting. A waffle cone with one scoop of Coffee Toffee Coffee and one scoop of PB Wins the Cup.

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    With ice cream in hand we walked over to watch a street performer that was nearby. The ice cream was good, though I felt Coffee Toffee Coffee should have been called Toffee Coffee Toffee as there was way more toffee flavor than coffee. PB Wins the Cup was probably the best peanut butter flavored ice cream I'd ever had.

    On previous visits to the BoardWalk the street performers I had seen were a guy that did magic tricks and a mime that did a juggling act. This guy we were watching as I ate my ice cream was new to us and went by the name Coney Island Chris. If someone were to ask me what his show was like I guess I would describe it as a comedy act with props. Apparently he was on "America's Got Talent" at one point but I'm not into all of those singing and dancing and competition shows, so I'd never heard of him. We only caught the last 5 minutes of his act but it was entertaining. As Chris was gathering up his things after the show I took this picture across the lake with fireworks going off in the distance.

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    It was 10:10 and I asked Michelle if she wanted to take a quick look inside the BoardWalk Inn and then head back to POFQ. She agreed. Of course I had to get a pic of the outdoor Christmas tree first. There were several kids running back and forth around the tree. I waited to try and get a shot of the tree without any of them in it but it wasn't happening. You can see two of them in the background on the left.

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    Despite going to the BoardWalk on 2 previous trips this was our first time going inside the BoardWalk Inn. Actually it was the first time we'd gone inside any of the hotels besides POFQ. We spent about 10 minutes walking around the lobby and taking pictures.

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    I would have to say these are the creepiest looking chairs I've ever seen in my life:

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    We exited the inn at 10:21 and walked to the bus stop. I don't even remember where we went to get on a bus back to POFQ. It ended up being a pretty disappointing first night at WDW. I was really looking forward to spending 3 or 4 hours around the BoardWalk but we ended up being there for only an hour after our miserable bus journeys. At least we still had 6 full days ahead of us, and surely things could only get better.

     
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  13. Bama Mom

    Bama Mom Disney Dreamer

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    Following along. Sorry the first night was a bust but I'm hoping the rest of your trip ended up being amazing.
     
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  14. Unca’ Donald

    Unca’ Donald Earning My Ears

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    Sunday, November 25, 2018 - Part 1: Hotels for the Holidays


    I was glad this day wasn't going to be a park day. After a long day of travel from ME to FL (plus a few extra hours of travel on buses after we'd actually arrived at WDW) the previous day, we had decided to just sleep until we felt like getting up. We got out of bed around 7:30 that morning and got ready for a pretty straightforward day. We were going to spend the morning into the afternoon visiting some of the deluxe hotels (Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge) to look at the Christmas decorations, and then spend the rest of the day at Disney Springs.

    We took the bus from POFQ to MK and arrived shortly before 9:30. After going through bag check we walked over to the CR and made our way to the large Christmas tree to take some photos.


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    After that we went inside the hotel and up to the 4th floor to see the Cinderella display, which was pretty neat. We spent a few minutes looking for hidden Mickeys and taking pics.

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    I bought a chocolate peppermint cookie at the nearby snack stand and then we went inside the gift shop to look at the pins. We are casual pin collectors. We don't do any trading, and we don't try to seek out older pins that we missed out on, we just buy whichever pins we like as mementos of our Disney trips while we are there. We both always have to get a pin that has the year of our trip on it and I was happy to see there was a Donald Duck pin for 2018. Michelle got the Minnie one.

    Michelle wanted to get something quick to eat so we walked to the Contempo Cafe and she ordered a bagel. We sat down at a table while she ate, and then we went to board the monorail for the GF. We had spent about an hour walking around the CR and we arrived at the GF shortly before 11:00. Michelle went inside a little shop that had different soaps and things like that, so I walked around and took some pics of the large tree and the gingerbread house down below.

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    Michelle bought a few things in the shop and then we took the elevator down to the ground floor. I took several pics of the gingerbread house and this is one of my favorite pics I took the entire week of our trip:

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    Another pic of the large tree with some other Christmas trees in the background:

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    We eventually got in line to buy some gingerbread goodies from the gingerbread house.
    Michelle bought a gingerbread man, and I bought a shingle and a Mickey that had chocolate-dipped ears.


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    We then got in line to get our picture taken in front of the large Christmas tree. I checked the time and it was already 11:45. We still had two more hotels to get to, and we were planning to spend several hours at Disney Springs, so we decided to skip the photo op and get back on the monorail.

    When we stepped off the monorail at Magic Kingdom I noticed there was a boat at the dock. I had read that you could get to the WL from MK by boat so we decided to do that. The timing was perfect as the boat set off only a couple of minutes after we boarded. I must say the monorail and boat were a nice change of pace after the 8 different bus rides we had taken throughout the previous day.

    We were off the boat and walking up to the WL at 12:15. I really liked the layout of the hotel from the outside:

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    and the theming on the inside:

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    We did get our picture taken in front of the WL Christmas tree:


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    and in front of this display of faceless bears:

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    After that I wanted to go check out the cupcakes at Roaring Fork.
    I had read that they had a really tasty s'more cupcake, but when we got there they only had 3 or 4 different cupcakes, none of which was the s'more one. They did have one cupcake that looked rather photogenic so I got that one. We went to sit at one of the outdoor tables and I saw a spot that looked like a good place to take a pic of the "Campfire Cupcake." It had a marshmallow cream center and was really good.

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    I had been considering creating an instagram account during our trip and decided to do so while enjoying the cupcake in the outdoor dining area. Once I was finished we had been at WL for about 45 minutes and it was time to go out front to wait for a bus to Animal Kingdom so we could get on another bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge.


    We entered the lobby of AKL just before 2:00. I thought it looked fairly similar to the WL lobby.

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    After some pics of the large Christmas tree we wanted to go look at the animals. We had no idea where to go but we decided to just walk around and see where we'd end up.


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    We ended up in an activity center for children. Luckily there were no children present to laugh at a couple of lost tourists, but there was a helpful CM who pointed us in the right direction.


    I don't own a camera so all of my pics were taken with an iPhone XS Max. I used the telephoto lens quite a lot on this trip but the zoom wasn't nearly enough for most of the animals we saw. I did get a few pics of some birds that were close enough.


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    After seeing some of the animals we went back inside the hotel to check out the gift shop, but I had to take a pic of more Christmas trees first.


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    It was nearing 3:00 as we went out front to the bus stop to wait for a bus to take us to Disney Springs. When we got on the bus there were fewer than 10 other passengers, and they all stepped off at Kidani. We were on our way to Disney Springs with an entire bus all to ourselves.


    And so ends Part 1 of our first full day at WDW. In my next update I'll cover our time spent in Disney Springs.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019 at 5:20 PM
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  15. Belle stitch

    Belle stitch Earning My Ears

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    Resort hopping is a great way to spend a day, especially when the Christmas decorations are up. I'm glad that day went better than the night before. The bus transportation can be frustrating at WDW sometimes. We have learned that when we need (or want) to go from resort to resort, the Minnie Vans are really a great way to go. The cost was worth it to us to save time when trying to get back to our resort after a late dinner ADR without having to deal with the MK bus crowds at the end of the night.
     
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  16. Unca’ Donald

    Unca’ Donald Earning My Ears

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    Agreed on the bus transportation, but it was totally my fault on the first night for just assuming that buses ran from every hotel to every park. But you learn something new on every trip, I suppose, and at least we know not to make the same mistake next time.
     
  17. Unca’ Donald

    Unca’ Donald Earning My Ears

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    Sunday, November 25, 2018 - Part 2: Disney Springs


    Our bus driver chatted with us for a few minutes after noticing we were the only passengers left on the bus after the Kidani stop, but otherwise it was a quiet bus ride to Disney Springs. We arrived at 3:40 and I thought this lamppost with the helium balloon in the background would make for a nice photo:

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    On each of our last two trips (2013 and 2015) we spent the rest our arrival day at Disney Springs and always went to Earl of Sandwich first thing upon arriving there. A lot of new restaurants had opened since our 2015 visit and I was interested in trying something different. Michelle still wanted Earl of Sandwich so we had already decided we were going to split up for our late lunch and meet at Disney's Pin Traders when we were finished. A former coworker of mine had been to WDW last summer and he told me he went to the Polite Pig and liked it. I decided to go there for lunch and planned go to D-Luxe Burger later in the evening for dinner.

    Throughout our stay I was always on the lookout for decorations to photograph and I saw these snow people on the way to Polite Pig:


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    I had looked at the menus for each restaurant we would be eating at days before we left for our trip, and I pretty much knew ahead of time what I would be ordering at each one. For Polite Pig I had planned to just get two sides, the Mac and Cheese w/aged cheddar and breadcrumbs and the crispy Brussels Sprouts w/whiskey-caramel. While I was waiting in line I noticed on the menu board behind the registers that sides were $6 each or 3 for $15. I decided to go ahead and get the Sweet Potato Tots w/parmesan cheese too, and also ordered a beer.

    I sat down at a table inside the restaurant and had my food brought over to me just after 4:00.

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    All three dishes were good and I saved the Sweet Potato Tots for last to have with my beer, the Cask & Larder Working Man Porter, since I felt those would go pretty well together.

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    I finished eating right before 4:30 and Michelle let me know that she had only just sat down to eat at Earl of Sandwich after a long wait in line. I decided to head over to Raglan Road as the sun was starting to go down.

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    When I had last checked Raglan's tap list from home there was a Coppertail Brewing Miriam's Irish Coffee Stout I was really hoping would still be on tap. I walked up to the bar and saw the tap handle for it, so I sat down and ordered one. While I was waiting for my beer I remembered I wanted to try the Ger's Bread and Butter Pudding, which I had read was very good. When the bartender dropped of my beer I ordered the Ger's, and the next time she walked by she made a comment to me about how the coffee beer I had ordered sounded like it would go really well with it.

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    Just after the bread and butter pudding was brought over to me I got a text from Michelle saying she was done eating. I replied that I was at Raglan and would probably be there for another 20 minutes. She told me she would look around in some of the shops she was near and for me to let her know when I was heading to Pin Trader's.

    I didn't think to take a pic of the Ger's Bread and butter Pudding, but that and the beer were both very good, and I enjoyed listening to the Irish band that was performing on stage behind me.

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    I left Raglan Road just after 5:00 and took a couple of pics of holiday stuff on the way over to Pin Trader's. These nutty Reindeer:


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    And this Christmas tree:

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    Michelle and I spent close to 20 minutes in Pin Trader's and walked out just in time to see the sunset.

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    We went to Once Upon a Toy and looked around the store for 10 minutes.

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    When we exited the store the sky was noticeably darker and I had to get another picture of the tree now that the lights were more visible.

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    From there I noticed people walking in to the Christmas Tree Trail. I seemed like a good time to check it out now that the sun was down so we walked over. A lot of groups were posing for pictures in front of the trees. I wanted to try and get a picture of each tree by itself, but it didn't seem possible with so many people walking in front of them. I discovered the best way to do it was to quickly take a pic after a group stepped away from a tree and the next group went in front of it. This worked pretty well for a while, but with so many people waiting to take photos in front of trees the trail became extremely crowded about halfway through it. I decided to move ahead to take pics of the trees further away from this congested area and then come back after for the trees in this area. The trail ended up being a lot longer than I was expecting. By the time I was near the exit I had already taken pictures of more than 20 different trees. We had been in there for a half hour and at this point I had lost interest in making my way back to the trees I had passed over.

    The Haunted Mansion tree was definitely the most interesting one I saw:

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    After the Christmas Tree trail we went to the World of Disney store for about 15 minutes and then Michelle wanted to go to Ghirardelli for an ice cream. On the walk over I checked my phone for the list I had made of every treat I wanted to try and where to find them. 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa had gingerbread churro balls that I was really looking forward to trying, and when I looked at the Disney Springs map I saw the food truck was right near Ghirardelli. I decided I would pass on ice cream for now and get those churro balls.

    When I got to the food truck and looked at the menu there was no mention of gingerbread churro balls. I was worried they had sold out and I asked the guy at the register if they had them. He asked one of the cooks and was told that they did have them. After I ordered them the guy at the register asked me how I knew about them. I told him I had read about them on one of the Disney blogs.

    I walked over to Ghirardelli and got us a table just outside the shop. The churro balls were decent but they didn't really taste like gingerbread to me. Also I had never had a churro so I wasn't able to compare them to other churro snacks. They were one of my most highly anticipated snacks to try so my expectations were probably set a little too high. About halfway through them Michelle had arrived with her ice cream.

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    Once I finished eating the churro balls I remembered about The Void. We both wanted to do Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire. I wanted to do Ralph Breaks VR too, but Michelle isn't a big fan of Wreck-It Ralph and had no interest in doing that one. While she was finishing her ice cream I checked on my phone to see what times were available for Star Wars. To my surprise there were no tickets available for it at all. It didn't seem possible to me that it could be completely sold out so I suggested we just walk over to it.

    On the way over I had to take a pic of this window display with Donald Duck:

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    When we arrived at The Void a couple of their employees were at the door. We were told Star Wars was down but Ralph was available. Michelle agreed to go ahead and give it a try and we went in. After signing up for it we got to choose which character we wanted to be. Michelle picked a yellowish/orange female and I was this purple guy:

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    Since we were a small group the had us play with a guy that was by himself. We talked a little bit while we waited. He said the Star Wars one is awesome and he was disappointed it was down, and that this would be his first time doing the Ralph one. After a bit of a wait we got to put on the VR gear and start the game. I won't go into detail about it as I don't want to spoil it for anyone who has yet to try it. You work together as a team but it does keep track of individual scores. I had the lowest score after the first 2 objectives but ended up with the highest score when it was all said and done. Once it's over they have you pose for a couple of pictures while you're still wearing your gear. You can buy a physical photo for $15 but I was able to get a digital one for free thanks to the Void promotional posters that were on the Disney buses. They had a "secret word" on them that you could mention when you signed up. I went with my best victory pose while Michelle's visor refused to stay up on its own:

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    I must say it was a lot of fun! Even Michelle, who wasn't really interested in doing to Ralph one, thought it was awesome. We both felt it was definitely worth the cost to experience it and we hope to try the Star Wars one some day.


    We browsed a few more stores after leaving The Void and then I wanted to go to Sprinkles to try the Cap'n Crunch ice cream. I haven't eaten breakfast cereals in countless years, but Cap'n Crunch was one of my favorites as a child in the early 80's. I have fond memories of eating it while sitting in front of the TV for Saturday morning cartoons at my grandmothers' after my mom would drop me off there on the way to work as my dad would be still sleeping at home since he worked nights.

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    After the first bite I enjoyed it. It tasted like Cap'n Crunch. But then I started getting bites with the cereal pieces and I didn't like it. I didn't like the taste of the cereal pieces at all. They were chewy and not crunchy. They had a flavor that was familiar to me but I couldn't figure out what it was. After a few more bites it hit me. The cereal bits tasted like Honey Smacks, a cereal I didn't really care for when I was a kid. I finished it, but I didn't really enjoy it, and then we headed toward The Ganachery.


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    After I bought a few holiday decorated ganaches, Michelle wanted to get something small to eat. I wanted to get a cookie at the Candy Cauldron, a must do for me on every Disney Springs visit, so we split up again. I always take a pic of whichever cookie I get in front of the store sign, but I wasn't aware they had replaced the sign that had the witch and the cauldron. Very disappointing. My snickerdoodle cookie doesn't look nearly as cool in front of this boring sign:

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    I decided to get a cold brew from Starbucks to have with my cookie and, after a lengthy wait, I went to meet back up with Michelle. It was around 9:30 and she was ready to call it a night. I love just walking around Disney Springs at night, and could have easily spent another hour or so there, but I agreed to leave. I never made it to D-Luxe Burger for dinner. Between the late lunch and all of the snacks I was never close to being hungry enough for a meal the rest of the night. I was also really disappointed I never made it in to Amorette's Patisserie to look around.

    We arrived back at POFQ at 10:25

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    With our first full day behind us we were off to bed. We'd be up early the next morning for the first park day of our trip, which was also going to be our first ever rope drop!
     
    DLo likes this.
  18. Bama Mom

    Bama Mom Disney Dreamer

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2017
    Messages:
    142
    My hubby and I are staying at WL in August for our 25th Anniversary trip. We plan to resort hop a bit on our arrival day since we have an early arrival. I hope to check out The Grand Floridian, AKL and The Polynesian.
     
  19. Unca’ Donald

    Unca’ Donald Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2018
    Messages:
    27
    The WL was our favorite of the hotels we visited. We really liked the look and feel of it and would like to stay there some day. We're looking to stop by the Polynesian on our next trip.
     
  20. Unca’ Donald

    Unca’ Donald Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2018
    Messages:
    27
    Monday, November 26, 2018 - Part 1: Soarin', characters, and pizza


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    We were up early and arrived at Epcot around 8:00 to rope drop Soarin'. This was our first time rope dropping a park and it didn't go so great. To make a long story short, Michelle had brought a back pack she didn't want to carry around the park all day. She wanted to leave it in a locker and retrieve it later in the day. The problem was not being able to get to the lockers until after the rope had dropped. We should have been two of the first people on the ride but instead hundreds of people ended up in line for Soarin' before us. Her stopping at the lockers set us back a lot more than I had anticipated. I was in a pretty bad mood when we finally got on the ride since we had pretty much shown up nearly an hour early for nothing.

    When we first rode Soarin' in 2013 I thought it was amazing. I actually felt like I was soaring through the air. I had never experienced anything like it. I'm not sure why, but when we road it again in 2015 I didn't enjoy it nearly as much. I was really looking forward to experiencing the new film this time, I was expecting to be blown away. I wasn't really into it though. It's possible part of that was due to me being in a bad mood when we boarded, but I think it was more to do with the overuse of CGI. Every time a new structure appeared on the screen I couldn't help but focus on it, looking to see if it looked as fake as the one that had been on screen before it. Michelle really enjoyed the ride, but it was a major disappointment for me.

    After Soarin' we headed to Innoventions West For some meet and greets. There were three I was hoping to get in before our FP for Frozen Ever After and our 11:30 ADR at Via Napoli. The Ralph and Vanellope meet and greet had debuted only a few days earlier and I was afraid we were going to be in for a long wait. When we stepped inside the building I was surprised to see that the line didn't look bad at all. We were done with Ralph and Vanellope at 10:00.

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    Up next was Baymax, one of the characters we were most looking forward to getting a picture with.

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    We waved goodbye to Baymax at 10:23 and went to get in line for Joy and Sadness.

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    While we waited in line I asked Michelle who she wanted to stand next to and she said "Probably Sadness." I suggested one of us should make a happy face and the other make a sad
    face. She liked the idea but didn't want to do the sad face, so she agreed to stand next to Joy. I had actually practiced making a sad face in the mirror a few days before we left for our trip, but apparently I hadn't practiced enough. Michelle looks pretty joyful in the picture, but I ended up looking more like a psycho than a sad person.

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    We were finished with our meet and greets at 10:42 and had plenty of time as we made our way toward the World Showcase. I had to get a picture of the snowman with Spaceship Earth in the background. There is a tiny lizard on one of the snowman's eyes:

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    We also got our first good look at the giant Christmas tree:

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    This was our first time riding Frozen Ever After and we thought it was just "okay." I knew it was only a boat ride but I guess I was expecting more from it. Unfortunately we never rode Maelstrom on any of our previous trips so I don't know how it compared to that.


    We checked in at Via Napoli 10-15 minutes early but still had to wait a bit to be seated. We were seated at a table with a window that had this statue of a gentlemanly-looking rabbit, with another one of those tiny lizards on the base, right outside.

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    I ordered an individual Piccante and asked for pepperoni on it as well. Michelle had to get something custom made without red sauce.

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    Our pizzas arrived right after 12:00. The toppings looked like they were just kind of tossed onto mine, which was fine, but they did a terrible job of slicing it. I live in Maine, and don't travel much at all, so I can't say I've been to any really great Italian restaurants. I went in there thinking I was going to enjoy the best pizza I'd ever had in my life. It tasted good, but we were both expecting more.





     

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