Run, Princess, Run: Walt Disney World Trip Report 2/22/2017-2/28/2017

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I bet you want a newsy and detailed retelling of my Disney World Trip don’t you? (Well, you’re getting one regardless). I should note that the title of this post was almost, “Everything Takes Longer Than Reenie Thought It Would” (This also applies to why I’ve been MIA for a few weeks. I’ve also been working on other writing…and not watching things that aren’t on my DVR…and Buffy, I’ve been watching a ton of Buffy…)

Wednesday 2/22/2017: Wine and Gathering

I always consider a vacation’s beginning from the moment work or school ends the night before. So, once I exited the doors of my office and blared “How Far I’ll Go” on my car stereo, I was on vacation. I got home to find my mom, Mike, his friends Owen and Meg (who were watching Bella, Mike’s puppy for the week!) as well as Mary and my friend Dino and Meg, who were joining us as a surprise for Joe. Much wine was drank, steak was eaten, puppy care and trip plans were discussed.

Kristi showed up later, with her husband (my cousin) Sean, and we all chatted some more. Kristi was staying over because we were taking a very early flight. We didn’t sleep more than a few hours. (TOO EXCITED) and thus, set a dangerous precedent for the rest of the weekend.

Thursday 2/23/2017: Be Our Guest!

Kristi and I required an Uber to the airport as my mother was NOT getting up at 4 AM to drive us. “If I wanted to do that, I’d be on the plane with you.” She has a point. After a slight panic attack because no Ubers appeared to be answering the call, I switched over to Lyft and one showed up 15 minutes later. I am converted, I’m a Lyft person now. (They also let you tip in ap! So much easier!). Our drive was pleasant and quick, as was the check and security process. (Not always a guarantee at Newark airport, let me tell you!) We settled in with coffees as we waited to board.

The flight was equally pleasant, and I watched Beauty And The Beast because it was a free option. Right as Belle and Prince Adam (NEERRRDDD) kissed and froze in time forever as a stained glass window, the plane descended, and we were in sunny Orlando.

Then came Magical Express. This was my first time using the service (it wasn’t available when we stayed at the Contemporary, Juli and I stayed off site, and it doesn’t service The Swan) and while you can’t beat the price (INCLUDED!) we waited well over forty minutes for our bus.

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Bus that finally loaded us after 40 Minutes!

It was fine, since we landed 30 minutes early, but I was frustrated. We got to Saratoga Springs Resort, handed our carry ons to bell services, got changed and headed to The Disney Health and Fitness Expo to pick up our race stuff. We basically ran through there, because we had a 2 PM reservation at San Angel Inn, but regardless, we got our bibs, snapped a few pictures and hopped in a cab to the Boardwalk.

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After getting my Annual Pass (MORE OF THESE REPORTS COMING) synched with my Magic Band, we wandered World Showcase on our way to check in to our “Romantic Lunch By Candelight.” So began the long weekend of “Are you sisters?” “No, cousins,” which tends to go on everytime that Kristi and I go someplace together.

I really liked San Angel Inn, though I liked Hacienda De San Angel for dinner better. We shared Queso Fundido (Melted Cheese!) and I had enchiladas, plus a delicious Hibiscus Margarita. The ambiance of the restaurant is unbeatable and it was a truly festive way to kick off our trip.

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Not a bad view for lunch right?

We then decided to roll the dice on Frozen Ever After, since we had nothing better to do, but then got the message from my mom that she and Mike and Mary had landed, so we decided to head back to the resort, rather than wait another half hour for a ride we planned to do the next day anyway.

Barely taking a minute to settle into our villa, we four Nayden ladies, headed to Magic Kingdom to ride Splash Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and of course, eat at Be Our Guest! Splash Mountain gets me everytime. I’m never sure if it’s worth the time and mess, but it’s always so much fun, I leave with a huge smile on my face. I was even more excited to see Mary and Mom’s reaction Mine Train, and they were both giddy, but even more excited to share it with my dad and Joe in a few days time. (They were right to be, both were floored by it).

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Kristi was cute, the rest of us were just screaming…

Finally came Be Our Guest. We checked in, waited about 10 minutes (not bad, the hostess warned they were running 15 minutes behind, so I guess we would have gone right in had they been on time) and were escorted right to our table.

Walking into Be Our Guest is one of my favorite Disney World experiences, I always find myself inhaling sharply. But the way Mary giddily clapped when she learned that after dinner we’d get to meet Beast was even better. (I’d managed to not spoil that detail for them. I’m proud of myself). We had champagne, soups, two bottles of wine and a variety of entrees. (Seafood & steaks) We obviously shared some grey stuff and a lemon merange cupcake before moving on.

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This might be my favorite picture of the whole trip. We Nayden ladies clean up pretty well, I think.

Moving On wound us up seeing the tail end of “Once Upon a Time” the new projection show and heading back to the villa for, what else! More wine. Most of our group had rendezvoused by this point and it was quite the fiesta. It had nothing on the next day though.

Friday 2/24/2017: But, this one goes to 11

So, Friday morning, Mike, Joe and Dad had decided to play golf, and Mom decided to sleep in a bit, and Meg and Dino headed to Magic Kingdom, so Mary, Kristi and I headed to Epcot, missing park opening by a breath because of BUSES being SLOW, with one thing on our mind, “FROZEN,” we didn’t bolt, but worked pretty quickly, back to Norway and lined up for Frozen Ever After and this time, DID NOT bail halfway through the line, which, I should note moves very quickly, at least in the morning. We waited about 45 minutes, which for a ride this new and popular is not bad at all, especially given the cuteness of the line. You weave through Kristoff’s ice house, Arrendell’s town square and Oaken’s Tokens before boarding. But remember, we were there before 9:30 AM, which I get is a dealbreaker for a lot of people.

Anyway, the ride itself, really is great. On Sunday, Meg and I would chat about how her trip to the Wizarding World that day reminded her of being a kid at Disney, and I said Frozen Ever After did the same for me. The storyline that you’re on a boat to Elsa’s ice palace to celebrate the anniversary of her coronation is perfect, the animatronics are SUPERB (Olaf and Sven in particular are impressive) and the fact that it keeps the structure of Maelstrom makes it somehow able to be both nostalgic and brand new at the same time. It’s a real triumph. Worth a 2 hour wait? Absolutely not. Worth 1 hour? For SURE.

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Kristi and I Disneybounding Anna and Elsa. I love these topiaries.

After our Frozen adventure we walked around admiring the topiaries (Flower and Garden didn’t start officially until the day after we left, but we got the benefit of all the pretty!) shopped in World Showcase and met Belle.

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Bonjour Mademoiselle Belle!

By this time we met up with Mom, and waited on the others by more shopping. (Mom even bought Mouse Ears! I’m so proud!) We also registered for the Express Bus, which is meant to cost $19 for a single day and $29 for seven days. This is a very good service that takes you from park to park, by passing the gates and security, at specific times on every hour for each park. It was AWESOME, and I highly recommend it, except I hope that most people don’t do it, because the buses not being crowded was one of the best parts. Once we met up with everyone we headed over to ride test track. Knowing that we’d never beat the boys in power, Kristi, Meg and I decided to focus on making our car environmentally friendly and cute. We did so. I was proud of us. After that we rode Nemo, which is a cute ride and gets you into The Seas, and since aquariums are in Mary’s top 10 favorite things in the world, I knew we wouldn’t be allowed to skip it. Then we began our drink around the world.

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At the beginning of our boozy, boozy journey. (Note Mom’s mouse ears.) This is a close second to the hugging on Mainstreet Pic when it comes to favorites.

Let’s just say, we finished, but it was a bit of a rush, it was very sloppy and there were a few tears (mostly from me.) (They weren’t the nice emotional kind) (they were the mean drunk trying to make the people I love feel bad about themselves kind) (I’m very sorry) (I was VERY drunk) We had lunch at Yorkshire County Fish Shop (YUM!) and dinner at Spice Road Table (SUPER YUM). We then headed to the Boardwalk, hit Abracadbar and then Jelly Rolls and then took like 2 hours to get home because of BUSES being THE WORST.

Saturday 4/25/2017: Animals, A Galaxy Far, Far Away & A Start of A Challenge

Getting 10 grown ass, hung over adults out the door in the morning when there are only two bathrooms is a challenge, but we did it! (YAY!) We did miss extra magic hour (booo) but were in the gates at Animal Kingdom by 9:30, and on Kilamanjaro Safaris by 9:45 and it was, and I say this in all seriousness, the best version of the ride I’ve ever been on. The weather was hazy and cool so all of the animals were out and about. We saw the baby giraffe and baby elephant, as well as an adolescent elephant and 3 of the lions walking around their rock. It was really, very, very exciting.

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Puppy Elephant! (This is an ancient It’s Always Sunny reference…)

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Just LION around!

Next came Everest, which we all rode single rider and then we all split up a bit. I needed to eat, so I went over to Harambe Market and picked up a chicken skewer (delicious) and a few people hopped on Kali Rapids (It was too cold for me). We then hopped on the Express Bus over to Epcot, which was great because we ran into an old friend, Matt Ban and his wife Erin. We had a lovely catch up with Matt and then headed into The Seimens VIP Lounge, courtesy of Joe’s coworkers. This was excellent, in caffinating us, and getting us right on to Spaceship Earth as we exited. Then we headed to Studios and to Backlot Express For Lunch.

I had a Diet Coke and the Darkside Chicken and Waffles because A) Chicken and Waffles are delicious. B) I tend to eat quicky southern food when I find it, because it’s not always readily available in the burbs of NYC where I live. I am also a sucker for sausage gravy, chicken fried steaks and grits! C) These waffles had Darth Vader on them! I also got the BB8 Souvenier cup because I want nothing more than to walk around a convention in my Poe cosplay drinking out of BB8’s head. (I know, I have weird goals.)

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VADER. On WAFFLES. Also, Joe looks very serious in this picture.

As we sat eating lunch, and watching Trials of The Temple (Nothing better than those kids fighting Darth Vader) (Except maybe Mike and I explaining who The Seventh Sister is to everyone else) (Mike is also pretty into Rebels. This warms my heart) Mary and Joe mentioned maybe going to Magic Kingdom after dinner and I pointed out that 4 park day is something Disney Geeks strive for. This made the decision for them, pretty much . After eating, we opted to head over to Muppets 3-D while we waited for our Star Tours Fastpasses to kick in.

I love The Muppets and so much of that comes from family memories involving them, so it was nice to share this show with my family for a change. Next some of us rode Star Tours. We were taken to Hoth, and intercepted by Porkins, which, YAY! Porkins! (Which I exclaimed, quite loudly and embarassingly.)  Then, after our spy was revealed. (Maybe one of these trips I’ll just ride Star Tours over and over again, until I’m the spy) we were taken to Naboo by Yoda’s orders and escorted by Gungans to our final landing place.

I really enjoyed a completely different ride from the last time I rode. Though I wouldn’t have minded the Jakku scene as I never object to BB8 or Finn. Also, this one involves gungans and I mean, REALLY?

Anyway, after that we hit Tower of Terror and Star Wars Launch Bay, including a very fun visit with Chewie and a discussion with Mike about how Ahsoka’s light saber being in the case with the others was awesome, (we are less impressed by Ezra’s, because, it’s Ezra, but his Saber/Blaster combo is a cool design.) (Talking about Star Wars with my brother is one of my favorite things in the world and we did a lot of it on this day) it was time to head back to Saratoga Springs.

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It’s weird they only have one of Ahsoka’s sabers, as she fights with two. (Yes I’m using present tense.) (#ahsokalives) (I’m in denial)

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We were all really psyched to meet Chewie!

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So scared of The Tower of Terror!

We had an early dinner planned since Kristi and I had to go to bed at like 8 o’clock for race day. From everything I’ve heard and seen in pictures the 4 park day was a hit though, and I went on to have my own later. Dinner was at The Turf Club Bar And Grill at Saratoga Springs and while I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to eat there, if you’re staying at the hotel, it’s worth one night’s relaxed meal. I had steak and a glass of wine.

This was followed by a hasty trip back to the villa, where Kristi and I prepped for the next morning, watched the first of half of High School Musical were asleep by 9:00 PM.

Sunday 2/26/2017: Run Like The Wind! And May All Your Wishes Come True

My alarm went off at 2:30 AM and by 3 Kristi and I were on a bus to the race. After getting coffee, waiting in line, and then using the facilities, we opted to head to our corrals. And thus began the crying. (The good kind this time) I met and chatted with several of the women in my corrall, and waited about an hour after official race time to get moving. I really enjoyed the race itself, despite it taking a very long time. I wrote on facebook later that day about how amazing it felt to be running up Mainstreet USA, hearing my family cheer for me. I really, really adored the whole experience and I’m all about trying to go for this again.

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Crossing the finish line! I was BUSHED, but I did it!

After the race, there was another quick detour to the villas, where we showered, changed and then headed to Magic Kingdom. We ate hotdogs, rode The Jungle Cruise (which is bizarrely the most important ride to my family.), rode the Mine Train, which did in fact, garner the enthusiasm I expected, and then split off. Kristi and I decided we didn’t want to wait on the half hour line for Big Thunder Mountain, so we headed over and rode Pirates of The Carribean, which is always a treat, and we got front row seats, so SUPER BONUS treat. We got coffee, wandered through Tomorrowland, considered getting on the Peoplemover, but discovered that it had a line, so we refused to ride on principle. We were planning on meeting the rest of the group back in Fantasyland to get on Small World with Fastpasses, so we decided to head to the Carousel, as neither of us had ever ridden it before. (It was super fun, especially because we were already dressed for dinner.)

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Small World is a secret favorite of mine and I was worried that we weren’t going to get on it this trip, so I was happy that Mom requested we get the fastpass. (None of us were willing to wait more than a half hour and Magic Kingdom was VERY crowded.) Pointing out our favorite dolls was great as was singing the song over and over again. After that, we did some shopping on Main Street and headed over to the Contemporary to have dinner, not until after we’d said good bye to Joe. He assures me that he had a great time on his first trip, and as he has a work commitment out west for the next year, he and Mary are already talking about going to Disneyland at some point. (I am very jealous…and would NEVER crash their vacation. Also I probably can’t afford it…) He boarded a bus back to Saratoga and an Uber to the airport and it was all over for him.

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Favorite people and favorite place! I’m a lucky girl!

The rest of us hopped on the Monorail and we checked in to California Grill and rode up. This was probably the non race, non introducing my family to new things, part of the trip that I was looking forward to the most. Ever since I entered a constant state of Disney Planning I’ve been DYING to eat at California Grill and watch Wishes from it’s fabled decks.

We settled in at our table, enjoyed the sunset over Seven Seas Lagoon, as well as some amazing sushi, charcuterie, and cocktails and then the main meal…I had scallops which were perfect, we tried a wine variety that we hadn’t before and then each got a desert.

We were finished by around 6:45 and after a bit of hemming and hawing, decided that our best bet was to hang out at the bar until 8, rather than go elsewhere and rush back. Meg and Dino rejoined us (they’d spent the day at Universal) and we made friends with some regular Disney runners, who were happy to encourage Kristi and I in our pursuit of more Disney races. And then Wishes.

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Pretty good view, right?

I’m really going to miss these fireworks when they go, and I’m even more grateful that I’m going to have one more shot to see it before it’s retired. But seeing them from this new vantage point was incredible, and watching them with the people I love so much was even better. Having space to breath sing and even dance a little bit took our breath away. After the fireworks, Dad and I headed back into the park, to ride The Haunted Mansion and I was reminded, as we wound along the path from The Contemporary to Main Street, of one of my all time favorite Disney Memories.

When I was in seventh grade we took a trip and stayed at The Contemporary. We were never a “at park opening” family. For a lot of reasons, we often stayed off site, Mom, Mary and Mike are not early risers by nature and we never went at super busy times, so it wasn’t really necessary, but after missing out on Space Mountain and a few other rides, Dad woke me up early on our last day and we went to the park, just us. We saw the opening show, which we did not previously know existed. (“Really?” Juli’s reaction to that when I mentioned being excited to see it again to her.) This quick trip back into the park was a lot like that. We hopped right on Haunted Mansion, pointing out our favorite ghosts and gags. We also talked about planning strategies for next years trip. (Yes, really, my “we’re not going back until we have grandchildren” parents are now considering a second trip inside of two years.)  Then, the rest of the group met up with us at the buses and we split off between people who wanted to get another drink at Disney Springs and people who had run a half marathon that day and needed to sleep.

We watched bits of the Oscars as we fell asleep, and planned for our four park day the next day.

Monday 2/27/2017: 4 Parks, 1 World, and STKs

We got up earlyish in an attempt to get to Studios first thing and ride The Great Movie ride. We were once again thwarted by BUSES, and absurdly long security lines. But we still managed a relatively brief wait for the ride.

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And a fun pic in front of it!

We went to find out the Express Bus situation. We had a 1 PM reservation at Tiffins, and it was now about 11:30. So our thought was to go to Epcot (I had some souvenier pick up that I wanted to do in France) and then head to AK for lunch. We’d just missed the Epcot bus, so decided to try our luck at Animal Kingdom, and checking in to lunch early. It was absolutely the right call. We got on the Animal Kingdom bus, walked right over to Tiffins, checked in, settled in at Nomad Lounge, and waited maybe a grand total of 25 minutes for our table.

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Also more pictures!

Tiffins was number 2 on my “I can’t wait for this” list after California Grill, and I was so glad we were able to fit it in. Nomad Lounge is really cozy and beautifully themed, and the food at Tiffins was sublime. Mom and I split a fish entree, Kristi & Mom both had salad an I had the lobster popcorn soup, which GUYS, OMG yum! I really like the concept of this space too, that it’s inspired by the travels of Imagineers designing Animal Kingdom. It’s subtle in the same ways that Animal Kingdom is.

We then circled back to Epcot, heading to France to get me a tee shirt and everyone some ice cream. It was our quickest stop, but it counted because we ate food.

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Then it was on to Magic Kingdom. We had fast passes for Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain, rode them both and then headed back to the hotel to get showered and dressed for our second girls night (this time minus Mary, who’d left that morning. This whole day was just Mom, Kristi and I).

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Hooray for meeting goals!

Mom had expressed, way back in our ADR making days wanting to eat at “not a Disney restaurant.” Kristi and I were shocked by this request, bubble dwelling Disney people that we are. Juli suggested STK, where she ate with her sister Jenn, and which is, a high scale chain, including spots in Manhattan and Vegas, but we wouldn’t have to worry about a cab, as it’s at Disney Springs. The food was excellent. I really love steakhouses, I think there’s something special and communal about that style of eating. You pick your meat, your group chooses your sides and everyone shares, and everyone’s wallets are a little lighter (Often a lot lighter, depending on the place) and pants a little tighter. This was a very fun night, we ate on the patio.

Our next mission after dinner was shopping. Hitting World of Disney is always a treat, even if we were in a bit of a rush this go round. We also went to the D-Co Op, which is my favorite shopping spot in the whole of WDW.

2/28/2017: Dig a Little Deeper

It was back to just Kristi and I on Tuesday, we once again missed the opening (stupid buses!) but were on line to meet Cinderella and Elena by 9:10, and then Rapunzel and Tiana by 9:45. It was really fun. I like meeting the princesses, and have made it a staple of my trips, but I really love meeting Rapunzel, I’ve never had a bad or boring or awkward interaction with her. This particular go round however, was exceptionally fun, all four.

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Her crown is very shiny.

I know very little about Elena but she talked with us a lot. (The group ahead of us had a bunch of kids, all for autographs, so she was filling). We were again asked if we were sisters. We then talked to Cinderella about the race. She congratulated us, and mentioned that she could never run that much, she’d lose all her glass slippers and the Prince would be going crazy.

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We wished Tiana a happy Mardi Gras and she chatted with us about the special food she was making for the day.

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And then Rapunzel. Seriously, I love this meet and greet. We mentioned that we’d met Eugene the other day, and she also congratulated us on our run. We talked about the smoldering (“He does that to everybody. He knows it doesn’t work on me.”) And then took a selfie.

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Another top five picture from the trip!

This was basically our, “wander around and take in Magic Kingdom” day. We also grabbed coffee and breakfast at Gaston’s Tavern, and then did Enchanted Tales with Belle, which is adorable, and made us wish we’d worn our medals, because we were pretty sure we would have then been in the show and gotten a pic with her. AH well.

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My favorite thing about this restaurant? The background music is the song “Me” from the Broadway musical version. Seriously, such a delight!

Next up we hit Main Street and watched Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, which I liked a lot. It didn’t move me the way that Dream Along With Mickey did, but I appreciate the focus on the newer characters and music. It’s always nice to see Tiana get her due, and the costumes on the dancing cast members really blew me away. (This is kind of like how my mom and I get obsessed with wigs on TV. I fixate on costuming…go figure) Then we checked in with our fast pass to meet Mickey.

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Seriously, I LOVE these costumes.

Being more prepared for the talking Town Hall Mickey this time around made the whole thing way less awkward than when Juli and I met him. He performed his card trick for us and then we realized that we needed to eat.

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My eyes are closed, but I love the Big Guy!

I suggested making our way to Liberty Square and going to Columbia Harbor House. (I had a hankering for a Lobster Roll) but we went via Adventure land, and decided to see what the wait would be for a table at Skipper Canteen. The hostess said 20 minutes, so we decided to do it, taking menus so we could order right away once we sat.

It way have been the best decision we made all day. The wait was much closer to 10 minutes than 20, and comfortable in rocking chairs on a fanned porch in front of the restaurant. And as for the restaurant itself. Can I say, wow? The space is really beautiful, and it’s got the killer Jungle Cruise wit.

I also know that the decision to serve beer and wine at sit down restaurants in The Magic Kingdom is controversial. While I logically understand the rule, and the reaction against breaking it, the part of me that was tired and hot and happy to be in air conditioning, was even happier to be given a cold can of Blue Moon and a frosty glass to drink it out of. I also had the Char Siu Pork, which was incredible.

We next finished out our trip by riding The Little Mermaid. Kristi said, “that ride is way better after a beer.” She would be right. We were singing and dancing the whole time. Then it came time to leave. The ride back to the airport on Magical Express was much nicer than the ride in. We only had one other stop and I was at my gate with about 30 minutes to spare.

So ends the trip report. I’ve spent two weeks putting it together and I’m pretty proud of it. Next trip is a solo jaunt for Dapper Day, so I’ll be there from April 28 to May 1. The to do list includes, Rivers Of Light, Sunset Safari, lunch at Be Our Guest and one last hit of Wishes.

Ready To Run: Back To Work & Food Stuff

Running Work:

This past few months have been both busy and plagued by a low level of depression. (I did however keep going to work, AND being productive at said work…plus socializing. I walked around in a funk and only have some memories from the time, but hey! I didn’t self destruct, soo…progress!) I wasn’t exactly…training for the big race that I’m supposed to run in February. Anyway, that changed this week. I’m back on the treadmill 6 days a week. (Tuesdays are shaping up to be my rest day.) I’m also not drinking on weeknights, so as to sleep better and possibly be able to shift my runs from evening to morning.

Anyway, I’ve lost some momentum, but I’m doing much better than I thought I would be. I’m running an hour per run, five minute intervals, 2 walk, 3 run. My pace is at 15:30 now, I’m hoping to get back down to 13 by November.

So, that’s what’s happening there.

Disney Planning:

We got all of our dining reservations! We’ve got 2 Be Our Guest picks (one dinner, one breakfast…that way anyone who wants to can get into the castle…) California Grill on Sunday night, Tiffins on Saturday and Spice Road Table on Friday. I’m trying not to dictate too much of what other people should be doing, but also everytime I ask what people want I get the “I don’t care, you pick!” So, we’re doing things my way, at least for now…(That said I left a lot of open space so people can fill in as they will.)

My newest obsession is special occasion cakes. They all look amazing, and I feel like it would be a fun thing for the big family dinner at California Grill on Sunday…on the other hand…those cakes are mad expensive, and that dinner is gonna be expensive anyway…I dunno, I’m thinking about it most of the blogs and things suggest that you can wait until a few weeks before your trip to order a cake…I don’t know. I do think that the idea of a couple of mini cakes to celebrate Kristi and I doing the race (Maybe one Cinderella Themed, one Aurora themed…) I don’t know, but I’m loving looking at pictures of the cakes. So gorgeous!

Planning on booking flights and getting on the phone to Magical Express and getting that all worked out sometimes this week. I’m pretty excited about that.

Ready To Run: Training Speeds and AK Drink-A-Thon

So here’s what’s going on. I run a lot now. And I’m working on National Novel Writing Month, and (as I said before) I had some personal stuff going on.

So we’re going to talk about running. I’m using the Couch to 13.1 Ap on my phone, because I am a useless human who can’t do anything without technology.

Not like, I’m incapable, just like, I’m lazy? We’ve established how lazy I am in the past so let’s just move on.

Anyway, the way the ap works is that it tracks your training intervals for you and gets you on a running program. This week, I’m doing 5 minute warm up, and the 7 5 minute intervals of 3 minutes of running, 2 minutes of walking. It’s killer, I’m dead by the end of these runs, but the good kind of dead. I’ve set a training pace of about 13 minutes per mile. (Disney requires 16 minute miles. I had those at the beginning of the year, so I’m not worried about that.)

Also, as the planning process kicks into high gear, I think of my family. We’re big drinkers, and “Drinking Around The World” is going to be a center piece of this vacation, I can assure you. But one thing I want, is to explore The Animal Kingdom a little bit more. And, knowing my family the best way to do that is with some kind of alcoholic boost. So I scanned google for Animal Kingdom bar crawls, and nothing popped up, so I made my own!

Drink Through The Jungle

This is an idea that I have. It may not work for this trip, but I can’t seem to find a “drink around the world” style bar crawl for Animal Kingdom, which seemd CRAZY because there are so many weird little watering holes in that park. So I’ve put together a little list of how I think an Animal Kingdom bar crawl should look.

Disney World, for the most part doesn’t start serving alcohol until after 11AM (I think you can get breakfast drinks for sit down breakfasts and at La Halles Boulangerie in France but that’s about it.) What’s good about that is that if you go on a early extra magic hours day (Reccomended) you can get all of your rides in except Kali River Rapids, which also doesn’t open until around 10.

So let’s say that’s it’s Saturday or Monday, when there are AM EMH’s at Animal Kingdom. You got there for opening, got right on Kilamanjaro Safaris, then everest, and headed over to Dino-Land, and went on Dinosaur, if you’re so inclined. (I will never go on that ride again. Unless I someday have children who demand it.) Maybe you’ve even wandered the Animal Trails, and you’re ready to do yourself some drinking.

First Stop:

Africa – Dawa Bar

I should disclose that I haven’t been to many of these places. When Juli and I went, we were quite hungover on our Animal Kingdom day, and when I went on my own, I had a couple of drinks, but left early in the day to take a nap. But Dawa Bar seems really cool.

Second Stop:

Africa – Harambe Market

I did grab a beer there. The Market is probably the coolest non Be Our Guest atmosphere place to eat. It looks like a town square in a Kenyan village, and each window has different foods. It’s really cool. Highly reccomend.

Third Stop:

Asia – Yak And Yeti

Last trip I did lunch here, which I would reccomend for this also, but if you can’t do that, just go to the bar, or to the “Quality Beverages” window at the Local Foods Cafe if that’s even too crowded. But great Daquiris here!

Fourth Stop:

Asia – Thirsty River Bar & Trek Snacks

This just looks like a cart outside of Expedition Everest. It’s not. It’s a fully stocked bar, where the friendly and smiley tenders will mix you up some strong mixed drinks, if that’s your bag. And while you’re in this area, you might as well hop on the Everest single riders line.

Then don’t get a drink but see Finding Nemo: The Musical, and if you are me, cry.

Fifth Stop:

Dinoland USA – Anywhere

There isn’t actually a bar in Dinoland, but you can get Bud Lite at most of the counter service spots. So if you’re feeling it, pick one up there.

Sixth Stop:

Discovery Island – Nomad Lounge

The bar attached to Tiffins and it was supposed to be open when I went in May, but all the new Animal Kingdom stuff got delayed because of STUPID, but we’re definitely planning on going here, and eating at Tiffins on our trip.

Seventh (Optional) Stop:

Entrance – Rainforest Cafe

I mean, if you want to, pop into the Rainforest Cafe on your way out. Why not?

The thing that makes this tricky is that unlike Epcot, where the bars open at 11, and keep serving until 9 or 9:30, unless the “Animal Kingdom Nights” become permanent. (Doesn’t look like it right now, and I’m PISSED) everything finishes up between 5 and 7 PM, which gives you a lot less time. But, there are only 6 stops on this crawl, which is totally managable. Especially if it’s an Extra Magic Hour day and you get your rides in early, there’s plenty of time to get them in and wander with your drinks. I really want to spend more time exploring Animal Kingdom

 

I’m One of THOSE People Now: My Solo Disney Trip Part 3

I swear this is the final update on this! (Seriously, I need to move on, there was just so much that I wanted to write about and so much of it was amazing.)

Sunday 5/1/2016


This was easily my favorite day of the trip, where I spent most of the day at Magic Kingdom, (with a quick jump back over to Epcot to hang out with some awesome people!)But first things first.

Gratefully, the saga of the horrible on fire contacts was resolved in the new solution making them wearable, and my eyes were un reddened. (Woo!) So, rather than risk missing my breakfast reservation I grabbed an Uber over to the Contrmporary, and walked right up to the gates! I was not prepared, in the slightest for how cool it felt to be walking down a practically empty Main Street, USA.

Heart of America, indeed!


I was doing breakfast at Be Our Guest which is all the way at the back, so I got to walk through Fantasyland as well. I got to the restaurant and settled in. I’d pre ordered a Croque Madame, and opted for a table in The West Wing, which was cool, but in the end, I think I would have preferred sticking to the ballroom.


The sandwich was so good, I wound up scraping every last drop of bechamel off my plate. Then I wandered the castle for a bit and waited for official opening time, I walked right on to almost every ride, and wound up only using my fastpass for Splash Mountain. I also decided to keep the princess hunt going and met Tiana.

Then it was lunchtime and so back to Epcot! I don’t consider a Disney trip complete without a ferry ride, so I took the ferry over to the Epcot monorail, and while heading through world showcase happened upon Greg and Joanna! (I’m kidding, of course. We planned it and Joanna and I had been texting about meeting up for days before hand!) We had lunch at Via Nappolie in Italy, which was amazing! 


Then it was time for a visit with Belle in France, and back to Magic Kingdom. I quickly rode Jungle Cruise, met Ariel, Aurora, Anna and Elsa, then started on my favorite part of my whole trip, The Monorail Bar Crawl!

If you don’t know what that is, it’s quite simple, you get on the monorail from Magic Kingdom, you stop at The Contemporary, Polynesian Village and The Grand Floridian and go to a bar (or multiple bars) at each. I did one each, The Wave at Contemporary, Trader Sam’s at Polynesian, and Mizner’s at Floridian.

At The Wave, I discovered the joy of The Moscow Mule. But it was definitely not a hang out and chat place. There was a convention there, so most of the people were just talking to each other, but Moscow Mule, AWESOME!


Then it was on to Trader Sam’s which was EASILY, my favorite place in the whole of Disney World (narrowly edging out Jellyrolls over at the Boardwalk). The bar is spectacular! I had the Krakatoa Punch, and the Tuna Poke and chatted with a nice couple staying at the resort. 


After realizing that I couldn’t actually sit there all night I hopped on the Monorail at hit Mizner’s, which included a cosmopolitan, some jazz, and some more lovely conversation. 


Then it was back to Magic Kingdom for The Mainstreet Electrical Parade, Celebrate The Magic and Wishes. And so much crying. I also managed to meet Cinderella and Rapunzel, ride Peter Pan and Haunted Mansion again! I got back to the hotel and watched Game of Thrones. 

Monday 5/2

Not much to report. I went to Disney Springs. I shopped, I ate, I flew home. 

Sorry this post was so late! I’ve been at ACBC having the best time ever! But overall, I had an amazing trip!

I’m One of THOSE people now: My Solo Disney Adventure Part 2

So, this went up Early (eek!) and before it was finished…so I took it down and here’s the completed one! Anyway, here’s my report on Saturday of my trip last week. (Sunday report will go up on Friday! YAY!

Saturday 4/30

Saturday didn’t start out super awesome when the travel contact solution I’d bought turned out to be super industrial strength or something because it burned my eyes. So I ran down to the lobby and bought a different one but it was clearly a glasses day. Which was fine! I like the was my glasses look, although it was tough to not have sunglasses…Anyway after that drama and screaming of the f word repeatedly I got on the bus to get to Animal Kingdom for Extra Magic Hours!


I pondered how great it felt to be riding a free bus rather than paying for an Uber plus getting to be in the park first thing! I went on Kilamanjaro Safaris first thing, which was amazing, and I really couldn’t get over just walking into rides I have distinct memories waiting hours for. Then I rode Everest, and then I went on the Maharajah Jungle Trek, where I got to see my spirit animal, that tiger (didn’t make it to that last time) and then I went on Primeval Whirl, which I really really liked!


I rode Everest two more times, and headed to brunch at Yak And Yeti, where I ordered a mango daiquiri that knocked me on my ass, pot stickers and a mandarin chicken salad.


Then I saw Finding Nemo: The Musical and wept! Seriously, I was basically sobbing because I broke an important Rule Of Life which is “DO NOT DRINK AND MUSICAL THEATER,” I back tracked to Kali River Rapids and my body started to fail me. So I got back on the bus and headed back to the hotel to sit by the pool, which I wound up not doing because the AC was to nice. So I took a shower, I lay in bed, I watched some TV and drank a beer. Then I went back to Epcot for the evening.

I happened to arrive just in time to get in line and meet Mulan, and so the great “meet the princesses” quest of this trip began. That day I met Mulan and Snow White. They both asked me about my love life, which, RUDE, but also kind of hilarious.

I also checked out the exhibit in Japan, which was about Kawaii Culture, and I mean, come one, the fangirl in me was not going to miss that.

 

 

And I drank. I drank a lot. I puttered over to China and got a Peach Snap which is one of my two favorite Epcot Drinks. (The Other is The Morrocorita…which I had later…seriously, Juli and I wrote POEMS about the Morrocarita in October, it’s a margarita with Vodka instead of Tequila…it’s brilliant) and then I did the Epcot Wine Flight which I am now convinced is the best drinking deal at Disney World. You go to one of the wine stores in either Germany, Italy or France (I started in Germany) you plunk down $20 and you get two wine samples in each country. I really enjoyed some of the wines, especially the dry whites (Quelle surprise!) but the French Red was also great.

 

I had dinner at La Hacienda De San Angel, complete with an Avacado Margarita and a Taco Sampler (the pork in particular was WONDERFUL!).


I had made that reservation in hopes of being able to see Illuminations from the restaurant, but I didn’t have a great view from my table…so I just had an entrée and by 8:50, found myself parked at the bridge in France with that Morroccorita, ready to watch my all time favorite fireworks show.


After that, I realized just how drunk I was…and headed back to the hotel, and as I got into my pajamas I glanced out my window and noticed that I could see the fireworks at studios through the window, so I kicked back and enjoyed those.

Then I passed out…and…the next day was my favorite day of the whole trip, which I’ll get into on Friday! (or possibly next Tuesday! We’ll see…)

 

Remember The Magic: My Walt Disney World Favorites

So, I’m finally home and I’ll be doing my best over the next few days to get caught up on my normal things, plus news from NYCC. (I can tell you that we’re getting 2 weeks worth of Sailor Moon coverage on Thursday…)

I know this is late, but I hope it gets the job done. Rather than a day by day breakdown of the trip, I’m going to break down a few favorites.

Food Favorites

We ate really, really good food on this trip. Partially by design, because Juli and I are both grown ass adults with full time jobs and can afford it, and partially because, well, it was the Epcot Food and Wine Festival so there was good food all around

Favorite Table Service Meal

Far and away, my favorite meal of the trip was at Jiko, which is located in The Animal Kingdom Lodge. I cannot recommend this restaurant enough. It’s a little on the expensive side, but it was far and away the best food we’d had. Juli had the Filet Mingon and I had braised pork. We split a couple of desserts, had an excellent South African wine recommended by our waitress and split the “Taste of Africa” appetizer. The whole thing was an incredible experience.

Favorite Restaurant

Be Our Guest. While our actual meal at Jiko was worlds better than the two we ate in the park, Be Our Guest is unbeatable as a place to eat. We were seated in the ballroom, but walked around the whole place, taking pictures and of course we got to meet The Beast and take pictures with him. The food here is also quite good, and we had a bottle of champagne which, lead us to being buzzed in the Magic Kingdom, which was really fun.

And you really should try The Grey Stuff, it is delicious.

Favorite Counter Service Meal

This goes, without fail to our first at Columbia Harbor House. I had the Lobster Roll and Juli had the Sunshine Sandwich, both were great, and very large. Plus that place is huge with lots of comfy seating.

Favorite Food Item

This was hard to call, but it was absolutely going to be something at the Food And Wine Festival, we ate a lot of really good food. In the end I think it’s a tie between the Lobster and Seafood Pie from the Ireland tent or the Cheddar Cheese Soup in Canada. While the other food we ate was delicious, these two were pretty much transcendent.

Park Favorites-Rides!

These were my favorite things in each park, attraction-wise.

Magic Kingdom

I wish I could rank the two newbies, The Seven Dwarves Mine Train and The Voyage of The Little Mermaid, which were both great, but in the end it was a classic that won out. Riding The Haunted Mansion again reminded me of how much I love classic Disney Magic, and why I go back there over and over again. Plus we rode it during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Oh my God, is Toy Story Midway Mania the greatest thing ever or what? So much fun. The Tower of Terror has been my favorite Disney ride for a long time, but I had SO MUCH FUN on Toy Story that it was my favorite this trip.

Epcot

Test Track, I guess? Epcot doesn’t have a lot going on in the ride department. I do love the updated Test Track though. I wasn’t a huge fan of it when I last rode it over 10 years ago, but the new version is a lot more fun.

Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest. We rode it twice! Once first thing in the morning, and once right before leaving with a FastPass.

Favorite Attractions – Shows and Whatever

Magic Kingdom

It’s hard to beat the parades at Magic Kingdom and choosing between the two we saw is even harder, and while the Halloween themed “Boo To You” was really cool to see (and I may never see again, which is worth noting) I couldn’t believe how much I love Festival of Fantasy. And managed not to cry, not something that happened at well, any other show.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

You’re expecting Fantasmic right? I do love it, (And wept like a baby) but no, it was For The First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing-A-Long, that captured my heart. Sitting in a full theater full of people singing along to “Let It Go,” is the kind of pure joyful moment that’s impossible to be cynical about. I know it’s manufactured fun, but it was just so great.

Epcot

Illuminations is my favorite fireworks show in the history of the world. Add to it that Juli and I walked into Spice Road Table in Morocco and asked if we could sit and have fireworks view (complete with cocktails and snacks), it was absolutely perfect.

Animal Kingdom

We did not see any shows at Animal Kingdom. This was a timing thing…

Favorite Character Interaction

We did a lot of character meetings but I have to say my favorite might surprise you.

I finally met Cinderella, who has always been my favorite, and had never met before, but she was eclipsed by her companion. When we entered the room in Princess Fairytale hall, Rapunzel immediately gave us tackle hugs and said that she liked our “satchels” (my cross body bag and Juli’s back pack) asking where she could get them, because Finn is always losing his.

"Oh I'm so excited to meet you!" - Actress Playing Rapunzel "OH MY GOSH ME TOO!" - Me, Full Grown Adult Woman With No Irony In My Voice At All

“Oh I’m so excited to meet you!” – Actress Playing Rapunzel
“OH MY GOSH ME TOO!” – Me, Full Grown Adult Woman With No Irony In My Voice At All

It was so much fun, that a minute later, Cinderella’s far more mellow and proper interaction was underwhelming. Though I was grateful for both. (We got on line 3 times, before realizing that we had other things coming up and then finally sticking it out. It was a whole thing.)

Overall it was an insanely fun trip. I’m still exhausted and reentry to the real world is going to take a day or two, even though I’m back at work today! I’ve got a full DVR to clean up, about 16 hours of podcasts to listen to and plenty of news to sift through (plus a couple weeks of movie season to catch up on, may have to do a Sunday double feature again soon…)