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Last Annual Pass Extravaganza – Day 4

Last Annual Pass Extravaganza – Day 4

Day 4 – Jawa Issues

I can’t tell if I was overwhelmed later in the day from all the fun I had the night before at Trader Sam’s, or was depressed to have to leave the Polynesian, or if meeting Kylo Ren was that overwhelming but I wasn’t feeling magical on day 4.

waffle

The day started out great – I got breakfast from Captain Cooks and brought it back to the room.  We stayed at the Poly till check out time at 11am and walked around the resort.  The new pool looks so relaxing!  I hope there is a chance for me to experience it in a few years.

polypool

We left our bags to be delivered to Beach Club and took the bus to Hollywood Studios AGAIN.   We had to see the Jedi Training again and we also checked out Watto’s Grotto and Launch Bay.

I got the BB-8 soda cup I had been eyeing since we got to the parks and within an hour almost lost it to a Jawa!

jawa

After the Jawa encounter I was already excitable but then we did the Disney Visa Character Meet and Greet.  I didn’t ask who we would be meeting and they have it all hidden around corners.  When I walked in and Kylo Ren was there I almost crapped my pants.   I had so much fun I can’t wait for the park ‘s full concept to be put together.

We finally got to ride Tower of Terror and for the first time in forever (no, not Frozen) I was able to take the queue to the left side of the bell stand and could see parts of the lobby I haven’t been able to check out for years.

tower

It was starting to get hungry and a bit tired so we took the boat to Beach Club to find out what was up with our room.   For some reason the online check in didn’t work and we got a text that we needed to see the front desk.  They fidgeted with our magic bands for about 15 minutes then gave us the room number.

Before going to the room we had lunch at Beaches and Cream which was the definite highlight by far of our stay at Beach Club.  We got to our room and it was so run down looking it was depressing.  ESPECIALLY after a stay in the brand new Poly Villas.  It was actually uncomfortable.

We walked around World Showcase and had a light dinner at the Boardwalk because I wasn’t feeling it.

mexico

And check it!  You can see the Star Wars fireworks from the Boardwalk!  Although you need to really be there to experience its full effect.

boadwalk

Its always hard to say goodnight to your last night in the Park.  But the excitement about the Egg Hunt I had for the next day kept my spirits up!

Last Annual Pass Extravaganza – Day 3

Last Annual Pass Extravaganza – Day 3

We checked out of Bay Lake and brought our bags to the Polynesian where we stayed for one night.   We had breakfast at Kona then took the Monorail to EPCOT.  It was two days before the start of Flower and Garden but a lot was in bloom and smelling FANTASTIC!

flowers

We hit our favorites:

We explored more of the flowers including those at the Canada Pavilion.

 

We then took the Monorail back to the Polynesian.  We hadn’t received the text that our room was ready so we set up to enjoy some Dole Whip and the front desk informed us that the room was in fact ready and had been – they just didn’t send the text for some reason.   Either way – perfect timing.

whip

Like anyone else who has stayed at the Poly DVC I can confirm its absolutely gorgeous.   We stayed in Pago Pago only for one night and it was one of the major highlights of the trip.

We put on some Hawaiian music and relaxed in paradise.

We had reservations a Morimoto in Disney Springs for an early dinner.   This is where my second cautionary tale regarding Uber begins.

  1. We thought they would be able to pick up in the DVC parking lot near Pago Pago – they are not allowed in so we had to walk to the lobby.   This makes sense in hindsight.
  2. We were waiting at the lobby when a cast member asked us if we were waiting for Uber.  She informed us that the GPS locators often send them to the Grand Floridian instead of the Poly and this in fact happened to our driver.   I would recommend texting your driver and confirming the resort location.
  3. There is so much construction at Disney Springs right now and they really only allow cabs to drop off on the West Side – even if you are trying to get to the Marketplace so if your goal was to cut down on walking – waiting for the bus might be the better option.
  4. Pickup for Uber at Disney Springs is in the “Strawberry Lot” – that’s on the other side of West Side so if you are coming from the Marketplace Area it could be a trek.  We were going directly to Hollywood Studios and still thought this was easier than bus hopping.

morimoto Balls

Morimoto makes one hell of a Singapore Sling!   I highly recommend.

We went to see the Star Wars Fireworks AGAIN after dinner because they are THAT GOOD.   Since we had already taken 2 Uber rides we figured we would take the bus back to the Poly – at park closing.   This 45 minute exercise in patience reminds me why I try to be at a resort that is walking distance or linger in the park after hours until I’m forced out.

We closed out the evening at Trader Sam’s Grotto.

trader sams

Last time we were there – they said they couldn’t do anything for vegetarian food (outside of sushi) but this time they offered tofu for the lettuce cups!  It was so tasty!

tofu lettuce cups

On the walk back to Pago Pago we stopped at the Tiki Terrace outside the Grotto to listen to the ukulele player.  He was so good I would say its worth the visit alone to see him perform.  Aloha!

Last Annual Pass Extravaganza – Day 2

Last Annual Pass Extravaganza – Day 2

Day 2 – Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios

The view of the sunrise from our room at Bay Lake was amazing!  It was 44 degrees so there was also some mist over the water.

sunrise

Since we were at Bay Lake we had a quick breakfast at Contempo Cafe then took the monorail to Magic Kingdom for opening.   They opened 20-30 min early and since it was a Sunday and my fast passes were for Hollywood Studios later in the day – I was nervous we wouldn’t be able to do what we wanted.   We did almost EVERYTHING!

On this trip – I found a new favorite thing.  Tinker Bell in the Peter Pan queue actually feels  magical.   It is details like this that make all the difference and this is now a must see for me on my next trip.

Then onto our favorites:

  • Pirates
  • Thunder Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Haunted Mansion

On our walk to Be Our Guest for lunch – we happened upon a babbling brook on a beautiful spring like day without a cloud in the sky.

brook

Hollywood Studios for a Star Wars Experience!

After a nap we took the bus to Hollywood Studios.   We put our fast passes to use and hit the Great Movie Ride.  This is where we encountered an unexpected character.

“Yah get no show?”

We roll up to the iconic yellow brick road ready for action – and nada.  No munchins, no sound, just a lifeless yellow brick road.   Our show guide was great and tried to keep the show going with Wizard of Oz songs but then a maintenance guy shows up from under the well and breaks the flow and like its nothing special and says “Ya get no show?” and then a few other dudes show up and shrug their shoulders an push some things and we move along.

I rejuvenated my spirits by becoming an Honorary Disney Citizen at One Man’s Dream. We then used fast passes to get on Tower of Terror but only half the elevators were moving  and the line came to a standstill.  After a few minutes we turned around.  This is a cautionary tale because once you tap to use a fast pass but don’t tap the second time you are in some fastpass limbo.   It was the technical version of…The Twighlight Fastpass Zone.

We got some dinner at Backlot Express – a surprisingly good “galactic” salad with black beans and avocado along with some “Corellian Spice Fries”.   While we ate we watched the Jedi Training show that got us pumped for the Symphony in the Stars Dessert Party.

party

The party was cute – my only complaint is that I wish there was seating.  The Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular Fireworks were SPECTACULAR!   The coolest firework shapes – strobes, bees, star shapes, Saturn shapes and the MUSIC!  You get the chills from the music and the drama of the fireworks combined with other Star Wars sound effects.  It was also, hands down, the LOUDEST firework display I have ever witnessed.

You can see the full show online but it doesn’t do it justice.

We watched the Electric Light Pageant before going to bed.   The music is just too ridiculous to ignore.

Last Annual Pass Extravaganza!

Last Annual Pass Extravaganza!

As a way to honor our first and likely last annual passes we used up the remaining days of our passes along with some DVC points to check out a few resorts and the parks on a 5 day trip.   There was lots to see with the new Star Wars stuff along with the start of the Flower and Garden Festival.  This was one of the BEST TRIPS I’ve ever been on – mostly because we didn’t over plan and went with the flow (I also had the best company you could ask for – my Mom!).  The next few posts will go through each of the five days on the trip.

Day 1 – Magic Kingdom and Bay Lake

Now that Uber picks up at MCO we decided to avail ourselves of this service.  Word of caution – this was pricey.   I’ve taken UBER TO the airport from the parks and it was about $22 (and this proved to be true with this trip too).   Since a regular cab is about $60 from the airport to the parks, I figured that even though UberBLACK is more expensive it would still be worth it.   I was NOT expecting $20 in airport fees alone.  Uber does offer fare estimates that did indicate it would be this expensive so I recommend checking that out.

contemporary           room confirmation

 

We dropped off our bags at Bay Lake and went to the Contempo Cafe for lunch.  The Contempo Vegetable Salad had tofu and quinoa and was actually quite good!

Since we did online check-in we got the message that our room was ready via text and headed there and ordered our bags.

 

Since the perk of Bay Lake is the quick walk to MK we went there even though it was mid-day on a Saturday.   The lines were NUTS but we were able to visit the Enchanted Tiki Room.   The weather was perfect so it was nice to just walk around.

fez case

Since it was the last day of the trial of same day reservations for the Skipper
Canteen
– we were able to get a reservation for dinner.  The place is pretty big, has an eclectic but really good menu and a great amount of detail in each of the themed rooms.  There is fez case in the corner near the bookcase!  I wish I could spend the whole day with a Jungle Skipper.

After dinner we rode the Wedway People Mover and for the first time in years we had a ride with no issues!  I was almost bummed because it made the trip shorter.   We capped off the evening at the Top of the World Lounge then ran back to the room so we could watch the Electric Water Pageant.

Days 7 and 8 (FIN)

Days 7 and 8 (FIN)

Day 7

I spent the last full day in my two favorite parks – MK and EPCOT, doing most of my favorite things:

  • Thunder Mountain
  • Jingle Cruise (again)
  • Orange Swirl Break
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Wedway People Mover
  • Monorail to EPCOT to have lunch at Germany

tikitocki

princesses

 
Back to the hotel for a break then on to the evenings festivities:

  • Trader Sams Grotto
  • Captain Cooks
  • Shopping at Mitsukoshi Department Store followed by Peach Sake
  • Resiling at Germany
  • Gran Fiesta Boat Ride

I love spending the night in EPCOT. The details of the pavilions come alive.

Day 8 – Final Morning

We had an afternoon flight but still spent the morning in EPCOT.   For some reason I was hell bent on seeing O Canada!  There had unfortunately been a private function that morning in Canada of all days so there was a delay in their opening but I finally got to see it.   I just like the song.  I can’t watch the movie without falling over.

bridge garden

How much walking?

Now that we have nifty devices we can get an idea of how much walking is involved in a trip to Disney World.   On this trip I walked about 61 miles in total!  If only I didn’t take in 500,000 calories – it could have been a healthy adventure.

PARKS AND MILES

November 2015 Trip Report! (Day 6)

November 2015 Trip Report! (Day 6)

Day 6 – Mistakes and Memories

Day 6 started out great at Animal Kingdom!  Got to visit the Gorillas and see how much Lilly has grown and see some of her new little friends too.  I really could spend an hour there watching them – unless something gross happens.

After standing around for a while we went on the Safari.  Maybe I got bit by something because at this point my decisions are questionable.  I decided it would be a great idea to ride the Kali River Rapids.  If you’ve been on this then you know the soaking isn’t proportional to the amount of ride time.

http://themermaidgrotto.tumblr.com
http://themermaidgrotto.tumblr.com

That’s when I had to get a ride back to Beach Club to change my clothes and put my sneakers in the dryer then went back to Animal Kingdom/Kidani Village to eat lunch at Sanaa.

After spending some time at the hotel room, still drying out my sneakers I decided to make my next horrific mistake.   I decided I wanted counter service Mexican food – I went to La Cantina.  It was 100% crowded, not a table to be had, and the one that did open up didn’t have a single corner of shade.  I also didn’t have a lot of success with the vegetarian side of things.  I’m still ashamed of myself.whispering

We walked around the China Pavilion including the two shops and the House of the Whispering Willows Exhibit featuring replicas of the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang. I didn’t give this the attention it deserves – I didn’t even know anything about this major archaeological event.

To shake the shame from Mexico we went to the Stave Church Gallery in Norway and then finally took some highly recommended advice and tried the Norwegian School Bread.  I would say it lives up to the hype! We paired it with a Linie Aquavit Glacier Shot which I did NOT care for because it reminds me of licorice (anise/fennel).

schoolbread

For dinner the family wanted to try Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs and I’m really glad we did.   Everything was very good, very fresh and the Singapore Sling was fantastic.  Even if the place reminds you of Kill Bill.

Next post features the finale of the trip with all my favorites back to back!

November 2015 Trip Report! (Days 3-5)

November 2015 Trip Report! (Days 3-5)

Day 3 – MK!

I had three firsts on this trip to Magic Kingdom!   We couldn’t get Fastpasses to the Mine Train which I had been on before so that was the first thing we did with no wait.  The ride was faster this time too! Then – two first time attractions for me!

  1. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – This is hallowed ground of course and so I have always avoided it but I finally did it.  The “hopping” was neat.  The AC was appreciated.
  2. Princess Fairytale Hall – to meet Anna and Elsa.   I was IMPRESSED. These are private staging areas that really make you feel special. I think they should have princes in there.

Then I went for a few tried and true attractions – Small World, Haunted Mansion, a stop for an Orange Swirl then onto my third new adventure!

  1. Jingle Cruise – Absolutely did not disappoint.   The details make this amazing from the queue to the river.  Even if Santa is a tarantula.

santa

Even though it was HOT I still couldn’t resist the call of the potato leek soup and quiche from Be Our Guest before heading back to Beach Club for some R&R for most of the afternoon.  Dinner was low key – Chefs de France mac & cheese.

We closed the night out with our first, and apparently last, visit to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights!  (Double click to play movie)

Day 4 – 90 Degrees by 10am

It shouldn’t be this hot in November.   We started out at Cape May for Mickey Waffles and then went to EPCOT.   Walked all the way to Spaceship Earth and that was about all the heat I could take for the day.   We poked around in the Art of Disney store and meandered to the Living with the Land.  Then I called it and spent most of the day at the Beach Club cooling down!

For dinner we went to Jiko and unfortunately we were less impressed with the service this trip.   Took an hour for our dinner to be served.   At least the view before hand was nice.

animals

My folks had driven to Jiko so we had them drop us off at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto!  This was our first time and we had so much fun!  We took home the Nautilus.

Day 5 – Making up for lost time

Since the day before wasn’t fit for any outdoor activity I spent this day of the trip making up for lost time.  We started out at Hollywood Studios – did you know about this Splash Statue?  It was a pleasant surprise to come across.  I wonder if it will last though all the renovations.

fountain

We visited One Man’s Story, Watto’s Grotto (where I bought a Star Wars scarf), Tower of Terror then on the way out stopped at Starring Roles Cafe for my favorite chocolate peanut butter cupcake for later.

Next up!  EPCOT Food and Wine for some snacks!   We went to Greece and had the Vegan Moussaka and Spanakopita followed by the Dole Whip with Rum from the Refreshment Port.  Then we went to Chew Lab to try the “Smoking Hibiscus“.  We checked out Captain Eo (and found out when we got home it would be our last time).

I'm going to miss this.
I’m going to miss this.

To stay cool we went to Nemo, Living Seas, and Spaceship Earth. 

The night ended at the Very Merry Christmas Party (a perk given to us by the hotel for a microwave malfunction that almost ended in a fire) where we rode Pirates, Splash Mountain, the Wedway People Mover and saw the “Holiday Wishes – Celebrate the Spirit of the Season” Fireworks.

My next post will talk about the last three days which include a big mistake and alcohol, the two of which are not actually related!

November 2015 Trip Report! (Days 1-2)

November 2015 Trip Report! (Days 1-2)

No better way to spend a snow day than to reminisce about my most recent Disney trip!  This was a seven day trip during a November heat wave and the last day of Food and Wine.   We stayed at the Beach Club Villas most nights with the exception of the Swan on night one.

Day 1 – Resort Hop

The new renovations at the Swan are very posh – I was so impressed I would actually stay there over the Beach Club Villas until they finally get their refurb.  Our arrival day was low key and didn’t involve any park visits.

Lunch – Beaches and Cream – We tried the new Beaches Veggie Burger – FINALLY a non frozen patty!  I don’t have pictures of it but its HUGE and definitely falls out of the tasty bun.   Get extra napkins.    Its worth the mess.Beaches Veggie Burger

Evening – We went to the Polynesian and had a light dinner at Kona Cafe given the massive burger from earlier in the day.   We watched Wishes from the Poly Beach but it was crowded and we couldn’t hear the sound as well.   We did this more out of curiosity so I was glad I didn’t have any expectations.   Still, fireworks are awesome no matter what.

We were still full but how can you resist walking past the Pineapple Lanai and not get a Dole Whip? Much to our surprise – they give out free samples!  Its a few mouthfuls and satisfies the craving without overdoing it.

Day 2 – EPCOT

Before checking to the Beach Club we went to breakfast at Las Ventanas at Coronado Springs and it was one of  THE BEST breakfasts I’ve ever had at Disney.

IMG_6794 IMG_6793

After this breakfast and checking – in at Beach Club Villas we went to EPCOT to cool down.

France!

  • Impressions de France – “PARIS, The City of Lights” (and sweet, sweet air conditioning)
  • Shops (5)
  • Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie

IMG_6806

Morocco!

  • Shops (4)
  • Gallery of Arts and History  – This was my first time in this exhibit and its beautiful as evidenced by the gorgeous stain glass door and what lies inside is a bench for SITTING and the most glorious air conditioning you could ever want.   This will be my go to cool down hangout going forward.    A display with the history of the fez was also neat.

IMG_6810

IMG_6809

Japan!

  • Bijutsu-kan Gallery – Featuring Kawaii (Japan’s Cute Culture) which I found terrifying.
  • Taiko Drummers
  • Pineapple Infused Sake from the Japan Food and Wine cart

IMG_6816

This was the last country we visited.  We walked around the rest of the World Showcase and returned to Beach Club when our room was ready.  We got the view we wanted and spent the rest of the night relaxing at the resort.   I had a grilled cheese and fries from Hurricane Hanna’s because sometimes that’s just what you need.

Hotel Room View
Hotel Room View

In my next post I will write about all the other parks and the HEAT.

Impromptu Flower and Garden Visit!

Impromptu Flower and Garden Visit!

Edit March 9, 2015:   Didn’t make it to most places as the lure of table service at Germany and France was far too strong.    I included pictures from the places we did eat.

Making a quick trip to Disney and I’m once again excited about the food.  My last visit to this was 2013 and grazing the kitchens is fun.  My favorite was the one at Germany which I don’t see on the list yet – but if I get bummed – I’ll just go watch Captain Eo about it.

Items I am most looking forward to:

Botanas Botánico (between the France and Morocco) 

  • Cachapas with Farmer’s Cheesecornthing
  • Coconut Tres Lechescake

Urban Farm Eats

  • Quinoa Vegetable “Naanwich” with Arugula Pesto and Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Pineapple Promenade

  • Pineapple Soft Serve with Sammy’s Beach Bar Red Head Macadamia Nut Flavored Rum

Intermissions Cafe

  • Vegan Trio (couscous, tabouleh, and hummus with pita)

France

  • Gnocchi Parisien à la Provençalgnocci

China

  • Vegetable Spring Roll
  • South Sea Storm (Guava with Light and Dark Rum) – also a repeat from 2013

Morocco

  • Mint Iced Tea (I wanted to try this in 2013 but never got to it) – Finally tried it – its basically cold Mint Medley.   I was hoping for the old Snapple Mint Iced Tea.  It was refreshing.