Trip Report (Sept. 11-22)- The Magic is Back!... ish! (Featuring the BEST DISNEY STORY EVER now!!)

Jabroniville

Mouseketeer
Joined
May 26, 2019
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The flaw of park-going solo- the only pictures of you are ones other people took or when you get selfies with the characters.

DAY SIX (MAGIC KINGDOM):
-Back to the Magic Kingdom! This time around, I had a bit of an unusual vacation, as instead of 2-3 MK days, I had FIVE! This is kind of nutty, but I was thankful for it, as various things can happen to otherwise wreck a day- it's not so bad having everything rain out on your MK day when you have four more!

Today, I believe I forgoed the Mine Train and instead rope-dropped Peter Pan, which otherwise manages one of the most ridonkulous lines in all WDW all day long. Then I just sat there and waited for rope-drop to the OTHER half of the park, netting me a walk-on of the Haunted Mansion! I think it was during this day that I skipped over to Splash Mountain, which boasted a short line!.... aaaaaaaaand quickly revealed that the projected wait time was a BUNDLE OF LIES, because sure enough I was stuck in the massive winding queue. And then I realized it was dangerously close to the start time of the Magical Friendship Faire! So I did what any respectable park-goer would do- I waited until the queue reached the edge of the exit area and hauled my 200+-lb. frame over the fence and into the exit line and bailed XD. And boy, was I glad I did, because...

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THE BEST DISNEY STORY EVER:
-SO, during the first day's MFF, I waited sort of to the right of where I normally do, because I got there a bit later (because of the Splash Mountain Queue of Lies up above). But no worries, because the family beside me had a tale to tell! So they were talking to a husband & wife about the show, and the mom let slip that "Our daughter's in the show!" and pointed to the shirts of herself, her husband and their son... revealing the face of my favorite character! The wife gasped and I nerded out internally as she talked about how their daughter had been downsized with everyone else during COVID, and that "they were all given the choice- do you want to leave or do you want to stay? She she said she wanted to STAY, so she had to take an extra job just to stay on". She then described her second workplace, which I shan't reveal here, in a vaguely-similar context ("She's the QUEEN").

And the mom's reactions during the MFF were priceless, as her daughter comes on stage, notices them, and does a little heart with her hands at them during the two numbers she gets during the show. The mom in tears as she watches her daughter be the star of the show for a time. And I nerd out like crazy extra-hard cuz she's the best and all that, maybe more than usual because now I have this extra insight into the show.

Naturally, when the show was over, I had to interject (attempting to avoid saying I was obviously eavesdropping, lol) "Just so you know, I overheard you a bit and that is AWESOME- she is my favorite character!" and the mom ran up and HUGGED me. When I went on about the movie and the movie's actress playing the character being my favorite and such the dad was like "People like YOU are the reason they do it!". The dad explained "She's a BFA (Bachelor in Fine Arts), and can actually sing this song!". He even asked "Do you work here?" and I said "No- you just make no MONEY" and he was all "yeah, but you LOVE IT" or "They LOVE it" or something, because I'm often having Disneyphiles try to convince me I should work in the parks, lol. A very nice family, and the person talking to them was the one who took the picture of me in front of the castle up above.

The family explained they were there from Texas for a short time and were seeing all the shows. Tragically, I had to miss the next show because I got Cinderella's Royal Table reservations and explained this, but I showed up a couple hours later, and I managed to get down just as the parade was starting, so I got to see all of that... and THEN the best part of the story happens!

So at the next Magical Friendship Faire (around 1pm), I stand more to the left- I didn't want to invade the family's privacy like a weirdo (again) or intrude upon their special time or whatever, but right before the show, the dad comes up to me and says "Just so you know, you were noticed. (the girl's name) said 'wow that guy beside you was REALLY excited!'"!!! "Do you think he's coming to the next show?" he says! He had to tell her that "I don't think he's at the next one, but probably later!".

And sure enough, once the show starts and her bit comes on, she actually DOES THE FREAKING HEART WITH HER HANDS AT ME DURING THE SHOW! Like does the lil' heart and pushes it at me!

I nerded out over this to the family after the show- they said the performers love it when adults go nuts during the show (one of the lyrics literally says "for the child inside!", after all). On the next show I saw, she did one of the standard "walks across the stage" and even did this "Oh HIIIIIII!" reaction/wave to me when she spotted me! So my favorite character gave me special acknowledgement she otherwise only did with her own freakin' FAMILY, and that is my greatest Disney story ever.

Unfortunately that was the last show as it got rained out the time before that, and I think the one after. But nothing was beating THAT. Unfortunately she wasn't there on either of the other days I went to the parks (some actors only seemed to perform this Saturday).
 

Jabroniville

Mouseketeer
Joined
May 26, 2019
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The lovely (but cramped) restaurant! Cinderella! And pics I got of her seated on her "Resting Stool"! One of them even turned out!

CINDERELLA'S ROYAL TABLE:
-So I got reservations for this one because I hadn't been since 2014. I knew the experience was diminished a tad, but some things were still there, and I wanted to see the inside of the castle once again, and to peer down at the park from above. I was HOPING they'd have added more Character Dining since it'd reopened with none, but alas, there was none to be had. And unfortunately the only reservation I got was around noon. I was fine with this at first because eating during peak hours at supper time is kind of annoying, but I realized while at the park what a mistake this was, as this puts you in long sit-down restaurants for the duration of the PARADE (which is at noon) or a Magical Friendship Faire- in this case, I missed the second MFF (with the cool family and the performer I mentioned before) and only barely made the parade. Something I hadn't considered during my planning, but oh well.

One advantage of this place is you get to meet Cinderella beforehand, but in the special "Castle Entranceway"- right around the corner of the table manned by two staffers (who have to spend all day telling people they're screwed if they want to get in there day-of). Here, you find a long red carpet and wait in line to meet Cinderella herself, which you do before you're called to your table. I forget what we talked about, but halfway through the conversation she went "Oh right- we've talked before!" and I had to pretend I remembered which interaction that was! See, Cinderella's costume is among the most concealing in terms of outfit/wig/etc. so she actually tends to look alike between performers a lot- it wasn't until I looked at my vacation photos later that I realized which one she was. This is the kind of awkwardness that awaits those who do multiple meet & greets throughout the week, lol.

Then there was a bit where the line died down and so she just sat on her royal cushion or whatever- I ran back up and asked for a pic like that, which stands out as a bit unique (neither really turned out well, but whatever). I also spotted Gus & Jacques up in the walls, and pointed them out to some kids (I find that kids are usually pretty bad at noticing stuff like that, so I try to help out distracted families sometimes).

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Gus & Jacques in blurry photos cuz iPhones can't project that far!

It's a prix fix menu, and I got some meat thing with... oysters, I think? The server was nice, but almost kind of nervous, as if he'd never done this before and wanted to be SURE he got it right. Thankfully/unfortunately I didn't get the classic "Loser Single Person Table" which is usually shoved into a corner or alongside the edge, but I realized that the tables alongside the edge get the best view of outside, while I was in the middle like... beside a post. It seemed like a table they just sorta shoved in there wherever it would fit to milk the most out of their seating. The food was fine, but not really worth the price- character dining can be fun and it's an easier way to meet characters with no lineup, but I know that performers tend to hate that job ("You always MISS a table and the guests get offended!" "sometimes they put the really BAD character attendants in there and it's miserable!") and it's kinda funny to meet Snow White or whatever when you're stuffing your face. Plus the one time in 2014 Snow called me out for being single "Are you here ALL BY YOURSELF?!" "Are you still looking for that special someone?" "Oh, I'm sure you'll meet them soon enough!".

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Oysters! I'm adventurous on vacation (which is funny, cuz these prices should really make me want "Safe Bets". And my dessert, which was a fondant thing and this chocolate hockey puck dealie!

In any case, I charged my phone while eating, tried to deal with my fading memory resources, and fretted over possibly meeting the parade and not wanting to bail on this EXPENSIVE meal before I'd taken enough pictures or enjoyed the actual ambiance of what is, honestly, one of the best-looking restaurants on property. I mean, it's not worth it if you bail early, right? Thankfully I still met the parade after spending a decent amount of time here.
 

Jabroniville

Mouseketeer
Joined
May 26, 2019
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THE OTHER STUFF:
-See, spending five days here and being more than a month removed, I probably forget a lot of what I did on each day without pictorial reference. Heck, I'm not even sure if this was the day I bailed on Splash Mountain to go to the MFF like I said it was!

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I finally decided to see what the one "Adventure Cavalcade" was all about... but it was rained out today. I eventually saw it a bit later but today you just get the cars. It's mostly the minority characters here- including Pistole Pete & Joe Carioca... and some Jungle Book characters. Well I guess they're from India, even if they have Southern US & English accents. Also Merida gets to be here! Because... I guess her float died in the Festival of Fantasy parade? Because they used to have one!

Unfortunately, this parade kinda sucks for taking pictures in the rain, because everyone's deep inside a vehicle ("The costumes are VERY expensive, and we can NOT get them wet!" parade attendants tell me) so you get a lot of "Princess Elena... with the dividers between windows on one side of her face!" unless you're a master photographer or just hammer the thing repeatedly, which is tough when you're also trying to take in the parade and not just view it behind a lens. I managed to beat the vehicle down Main Street and got the other side, and still the pictures weren't great. Thankfully my chances were much better two days later. I'm pretty sure this is the same Elena who recognized me from the parade float last year- she spotted me a few times one day and shouted "You came back! So lovely to see you again!".

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I took a picture of this courtyard because I think it's neat. I dunno- it's RIGHT next to the castle (you can SEE IT just by turning around) so it's weird in terms of ambiance but it's like this little constantly-empty part of the park right next to its busiest portion. This is like... backstage stuff or the outside of the Liberty Tree Tavern or something and there's nothing else much here since Meet & Greets are more assigned elsewhere, so it's a fun little do-nothing area now. Not a lot of those left.

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When the Princess catches you taking the photo when they're not looking.

The fun part of multiple days in the parks is you can freely spend more time doing things like the meet & greets... where you can occasionally meet the same performer! Which sometimes catches you by surprise because you can't always tell on-sight who was whom.

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It's hit & miss whether the attendant is close by or able to take photos- sometimes the Princess will try to get their attention and they're off doing something else, and I swear once or twice they were like "no" XD. I do miss PhotoPass being here, because while that does crowd the room a LOT, it makes paying for the PP photos a bit of a better deal, especially as I was in here a TON. So I have an interesting mix of "Princess Candids", close-ups, inopportune close-ups (where they start moving towards you and you click when not looking and end up taking a picture up their nose or something), selfies and proper "Princess Poses". I usually make sure I take a few actual posed photos at the end as well.

A video of one of the parades: https://jabroniville.smugmug.com/Disney-World-3022-Day-7-8/i-Htm5FbW
 
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Jabroniville

Mouseketeer
Joined
May 26, 2019
THE FIREWORKS:
-This was a bit of a funny one- my third attempt at the fireworks and wanting to see how Tink shoots out of the window in person. Here, I sat next to a pair of women and their kid in a stroller- I noticed the little girl staring up and me and not stopping at all, and one of them noticed and said "You look like her dad" and showed me a picture of a much heftier bald guy with a beard, lol. They were kind of weirded out that she just KEPT staring and I think Facetimed the actual father so she'd get distracted. The fireworks viewing area was jam-packed, and naturally the person immediately to the side/front of me was a 6'5" guy with a child on his shoulders.

So remember when I said I wanted to see Tink come out in person? Well guess who decided to bail literally the SECOND BEFORE she came out? Yeah, the ladies decided to turn around with their stroller and leave, leading me to look down and try to shuffle out of there way... then hear the gasps as Tinker Bell swing overhead where I was, lol. WELL FOURTH TRY'S THE CHARM!!

After this, I forget what I did, but I probably ate at the ice cream parlor (sadly the people who kept noticing me come by last year appeared to be no longer there- I don't imagine many people stick around the quick-service locations for that long, as I am to understand people shoot around the parks a lot. Then it was another hour of doing shops and such after park closing. I checked out the crystal shop that nobody ever buys stuff in, and the gigantic Main Street store.

Next Up... Epcot!
 
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Jabroniville

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Joined
May 26, 2019
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DAY SEVEN (EPCOT):
-So now, every park done and MK entirely travelled through, it was time to return to EPCOT- on my last trip, I'd actually over-Epcotted a bit because it was my fave in 2019, but I was more used to Frozen this time and "Wallcot" was getting on my nerves, so instead of making it my first & last park and going on three days I went on the first then my third-last days. Today, I rope-dropped Frozen once again (getting stuck at one of the walls by the big Disney store on property and a CM who did the "ask all the waiting guests a ton of questions" thing and telling jokes before we were off. This is an introvert's worst nightmare, so thankfully it was optional selection.

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Elsa! Anna! Snow White!

This time, I met the characters again- curiously, Aurora & Belle were the same, while Snow White & Jasmine were different. By this point I'd met Belle so many times across the parks that I wasn't sure where I'd seen this one, but she recognized me. "Oh wait, when did I see you before...?" and I had to be "... was it the cottage, or here?" "HERE!" "Oh, it was last week then" because I guess she only works at Epcot, lol. I actually saw the same Elsa as last week, which was a rarity (they must have a LOT of rooms open). I ended up going into the Royal Somerhus THREE TIMES mostly because I wanted to go early, then saw a short line once, and then I think I LL'd one? I forget. In retrospect since I missed a couple things I could have cut off one of them but I wanted to tell Elsa she was the best, lol.

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The English Pavilion's chandelier, I think.

The old issue with Epcot's huge size reared its head again, as when you wait for the characters, then try to head back for the big rides, then do a couple other things and have a sit-down meal, you end up running out of time! Despite like 12+ hours to do whatever you want, I still missed a couple of things because I would hang around Italy for a bit to take things in, or feel the "hollow wall" in Germany where a dark ride was supposed to go. I was like "oh yeah! the Werther's store!" in Germany but I was kinda between meals and there was a line by the time I thought to go.

And then, as I mentioned before, I left Mexico until it was way too late. I wanted to do it but literally ran out of time at 8:30-ish, because Frozen Ever After might have closed by the time I left it. Which is too bad- I learned last time that the Three Caballeros ride I'd often blown off was better than I'd remembered it, starting out as a cool dark ride through some ruins.

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Unique merch! In 2021 the France pavilion had absolutely nothing for cool merchandise, despite being packed with it in 2019. Here I found an even SMALLER shop, but at least it had cool art like this on what little they did have. I really hope the shops start pickin up more unique merch, though.

I made a second trip on GOTG: Mission Rewind, and this one went a lot better- I made sure to eat fairly soon beforehand (which always struck me as odd advice, as you'd think the opposite would be true) and this was instead way smoother and I barely felt nauseous at all. I could keep my eyes open the whole time, and wasn't trying to hold anything in, which makes it a lot more fun, and you could spot all the neat background scenes and the spin around the Earth & Moon (though both look REALLY fake in that "this is obviously a piece of scenery" kind of way). They played "One Way Or Another" this time. The older dude I was in line with found it a bit more nausea-inducing- he said he probably hadn't eaten recently enough.
 

Jabroniville

Mouseketeer
Joined
May 26, 2019
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SPACE 220 (aka "OH MY GOD LOOK AT THESE PRICES!"- The Restaurant):
-OKAY, so when researching this trip, I knew about this, but I also knew how hard it was to get in. I kind of glossed it over, and honestly knew nothing about it save some videos on the DFB YouTube videos. But when I went looking for restaurants... I found it available! Surprised, I grabbed it before looking stuff up. So I went in blind on this one, and kind of wanted to be surprised. And boy, was I!

So the whole set-up is quite interesting- you scoot in behind the "Mission to Mars" ride and meet an attendant, who brings you to a central table (the girl of course nerded out over my Wicked shirt). They assign you a seat or whatever, then you sit and wait for your name to be called. Then you're invited into an elevator, which brings you to an "elevator"- actually just a regular room with images above and below to make it look like you're shooting on a miles-long platform into outer space. You walk by a room with "lettuce" hydroponics and a giant wall of wine, and enter a singular room- tables on three tiers, with a REALLY long bar, each section manned by a different guy.

I was placed along the bar, next to one couple and a trio of girls who were admittedly fussy (one couldn't eat ANYTHING). The bartender was pretty cool and mostly chatted with them, which suits me just fine. The place itself does look very "current ideas of what space will be like" with bright, clean uniforms and silver metal everywhere, and there's a huge viewscreen with tons of things to see- mostly ships flying around, spacemen doing spacewalks, etc. I never did see Mickey, despite sticking around for several minutes after eating to see if he showed up (I know he sometimes does).

And once I sat down... I finally looked at the menu. And HOLY CRAP this place is expensive! Something like $79 for the full three-course meal! Now I wish I'd checked it out beforehand! I'd have eaten a smaller meal earlier (I had a pork bun in Japan's "Food & Wine" booth and that was mostly it), but by this point I hadn't eaten in so long I didn't want to split the meals up, as I'd waste both time and probably pay the same to add an extra bit on. So I went with the three courses. The food was perfectly fine, of course, and worth a bunch of money... maybe not THIS much, but still. It was nice to do this as a one-off I suppose, but this is the kind of meal where you think about your wallet the whole time, haha.

I had salmon I believe, with calamari as an appetizer. Good stuff, but the most fascinating part was the cocktail, which was like a blue slushy drink but with POP ROCKS added in. Now I had to be careful here, as occasionally it's a light fizzle, and the rest of the time it EXPLODES- at one point bursting out half a foot away from my plate and coming dangerously close to the girls beside me at the bar! I usually had my hands guarding things and they were more interested in what that was that disturbed that I was about to soak them in blue syrup, but yeah.
 








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