Walt Disney World Trip Report 4/29-5/8: Exploring The Universe

Previously On My Trip To Walt Disney World

I sat around and drank all day, then had a lovely dinner with my parents

Welcome To Hogwarts

When I decided to take this long trip, one of the things I was really looking forward to was going to Universal Orlando at least for a day. It’s been nearly a decade since I checked out either of those parks, and they’ve grown and developed considerably. When my parents asked if they could join me for that particular leg, I was even happier! My last two trips were with them and we had a great time.

So turns out a bottle of wine and a bunch of cocktails and sunshine don’t make for a great combination for getting up early to theme park tour the next day. But I managed, got to an UBER, got to my parent’s hotel and then we shuttled over to Universal.

We made our way into Universal Studios, rode Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon, which made us all a little sick. (A 3D simulator is rarely the best choice to start the day!) So we decided to skip Transformers and ride Fast & Furious: Supercharged. I’ve heard a lot of complaints making fun of this ride, but as a big F&F fan, I had a blast. (DOM TOLD ME I WAS FAMILY, Y’all, it doesn’t get better than that!). The ride was made better by my mom asking me who everyone was, and me doing my best to explain everyone’s roles as we went on a wild car chase.

Then we were off to Diagon Alley, and I was blown away. While I’ve written extensively about how I’ve left The Wizarding World largely behind in my fandom life, (It’s creator’s views about trans people being a major contributing factor but not the only one. A reread of the books a few years back left me feeling hollow and unnourished.) the theme park nerd in me, as well as my inner twelve year old who dreamed of an owl showing up one day with my Hogwarts letter, was fully absorbed. I’d seen the Hogsmeade side of the equation ages ago, but this was really something else. We rode Escape From Gringotts, I contemplated that there are multiple Domnhall Gleason holograms running around Orlando and I wonder how he feels about it, or if he thinks about it all. Also, what was Emma Watson doing that was so important she couldn’t spend an afternoon making this ride? (My mom’s answer, attending Brown, probably! I forgot that Watson went to Brown…) Helena Bonham Carter is much busier than her and she made it work!

Anyway, after the ride, we got some Butterbeers and watched Celestina Warbeck for a few minutes. And this is when my mom and I realized we were running into a problem with my father. We wanted to hang out, absorb the atmosphere a little and not rush. He wanted to get onto as many rides as possible.

It was also very hot, so we made a plan to head over to Islands of Adventure on The Hogwarts Express and get lunch there. The express itself is simple but quite fun, and seeing the dementors attack the train, hearing Harry, Ron and Hermione plan their escapades for the year, all super fun. Plus it’s five minutes of AC! YAY!

After the train ride, we got in line for The Three Broomsticks. Dad and I shared The Fish and Chips, Mom got a salad, which we all tucked into, and mainly, we drank water. We were pretty dehydrated at this point. Then we got online for Hagrid’s motorbike adventure. And OH BOY, what a great ride. Mom had thought she might be able to hang on to her cross body, but she wasn’t, so I got to on it twice, as she was basically child swapping with her 34 year old daughter. YAY!

Then we did the Hogwarts Castle Adventure, which is showing it’s age. I’ve compared it unfavorably to Avatar: Flight of Passage before, and Dad agreed with me. (Mom didn’t go on it at all, as it made her throw up a decade ago and she guessed it would remain the same.)

Still dealing with the sweltering heat, we opted for Jurassic Park next, knowing the log floom would drench and cool us down. It did, but we were also not up for the long wait for the Velocicoaster (Oh no, I may have to go back to Orlando to ride this roller coaster at some point…drat!), we did do King Kong, which I liked A LOT. It’s scary and atmospheric and fun. Theme park people are too critical of these things.

Our next decision was simple loop around Islands, ride the Hogwarts Express back to Studios and go on ET. This was the closest to a chill moment in the parks we got, but Dad was still pounding the pavement pretty quickly.

We got to ET, and after that Mom said she had to call it quits. I decided to take an extra half hour to catch my breath, shop and walk around. They headed to the hotel and I went back to Diagon Allley, grabbed a beer and looked in shop windows.

My day at Universal with my parents was PACKED, and we've decided we're never doing it this way again...
Botanicus, ET’s teacher, if you’re a Podcast The Ride person. (Or just a person who likes stuff that’s awesome)

Eventually, Dad called and asked if I was coming back to their room to shower, or if I would meet them at dinner, so I decided to head out, UBER to the room. I had another one of those “truly great showers,” which cooled me down and changed into clothes for dinner.

Then we drove over to go to Cowfish, the hybrid Burger Sushi restaurant that sounds BANANAS, but is actually really fun and delicious, while discussing what souveniers we would pick up in the City Walk general studio store for people. (I’d gotten my brother a F&F keychain that said, “Family Forever,” which I gave him on his birthday and made him laugh out loud. We got my HP loving Aunt Britta a chocolate frog, and Baby Meara a stuffed ET, though this was the longest debate, as other possibilities included, a dinosaur or owl.)

Anyway, dinner. We split a bowl of edamame, Dad and I split a Dragon Roll, Mom and Dad both got BBQ burgers and I got a sushi dinner including a tuna roll. It was a lot of food. Mom and I also firmly told Dad this was the last time we were doing a theme park day like this.

“What do you mean?” He asked. “This is just like last year.”

“No,” I said, “last year we took breaks. We had long sit down meals, and went back to the hotel for hour long stretches in the afternoon. And it wasn’t 90 degrees out. We pushed too hard today, never again.” He was not pleased, but we also started talking about bringing Meara, or leaving her in Jupiter while my sister, brother in law and I took a quick two day trip up here.

After dinner I suggested we go over to The Chocolate Emporium, to which dad said, “You are never going to have to sell me on going someplace called The Chocolate Emporium” and waited on what was easily our longest line of the day, to get milkshakes. Mom got us a table outside, and then they drove me back to my hotel and I passed out. I was wiped.

No more days like this. I can’t do it anymore. Those afternoon breaks are absolutely necessary to keep going. (As I will illustrate over the next few days)

Coming Soon

May The 4th shenanigans, Audreymas Around The World, and I finally make it to The Magic Kingdom.

Walt Disney World Trip Report 4/29-5/8: On The Beaches Of The Carribean

Previously On Reenie’s Trip To Disney World

My friends went home, I lost my fanny pack, and it was really quite hot out.

“No It’s Right There!”

I knew I was going to need some recovery time from the travel and rope drop to close nature of Dapper Day with a big group. Plus, my parents were coming up to go to Universal Studios so it made sense to be not in a park, so that I wouldn’t leave when they came.

Of course it wasn’t a totally relaxing day. Because, as I noted last time, I’d left my fanny pack at Hollywood Studios the night before. I’d filled out a lost and found ticket and gotten an email saying it hadn’t been found yet, so I figured I’d take a trip on the Skyliner and talk to an actual person about what my next step should be.

I luckily still had a cross body, and my phone, which is also my wallet were in my pocket at the time. But, my external battery, sunglasses and sunscreen were all in there, not to mention the bag itself, which I like a lot.

SO, I arrived at the front Guest Services booth at Hollywood Studios, and explained my situation. The Manager I spoke to, exclaimed that SHE HERSELF found my bag, and she had no idea why it was reported not found. Unfortunately it had already been sent to the main Lost And Found at Disney Springs.

So I hopped on a bus, went to springs, went to guest services and was sent to the lost and found. (Which, incidentally, also has a bag check. Which is good to know for if you’re checking out, or in and want to leave right from your dinner or whatever!) I had my ticket and they couldn’t find it, but the cast member was happy to see me, because he said, “I saw this! It’s logged all wrong!” *Sigh* Luckily, I peaked right behind him, and saw it sitting on a table!

“It’s right there! That one!” I said. We were all very excited, me most of all, and it was about 11 AM. I decided to wander around Spring a little, maybe even try some Gideon’s cookies. The Line for Gideon’s was already crazy and it was a million degrees out, (OK, closer to 90.) and so I decided to enact my plan of just chilling out all day.

So I hopped a bus to the Riviera, and went to Bar Riva. I ordered a baked brie and an Aperol Spritz. But they were out of Aperol! QUEL HOREUR! So I got the Rose that the bartender recommended instead, got on the Skyliner and got to my room, to change for by day at the pool.

The Brie was good, definitely well aged, and baked in really flakey pastry with rasberrie preseves. (I’m usually a fan of apricot or fig for baked brie.) And the rose was super dry and refreshing. I kept drinking Rose, albeit from the bottle I’d brought myself and settled into a hammock to drink my wine and read Harvey Fierstein’s memoir, I Was Better Last Night. (Tough reading, emotionally, but very funny and well worth the read if you’re at all interested in the history of theater in New York).

When I would get too hot, I would hop to the courtyard pool, dive in and then go back to the hammock. I got a little hungry and went for a walk to check out The Spyglass Grill, which is well loved by my favorite Disney Blog, The DIsney Tourist Blog. I grabbed the Plantain Chips with two salsas, regular and mango. And then I headed over to the bar and got a Hoist The Colors (a very strong rum drink that I’m super fond of.) And then settled in to a gazebo to eat the chips, and drink the drink and keep reading.

Holy crap, these chips. They’re incredible. I get that this is not the kind of restaurant that most people would seek out, since Caribbean Beach is a little off the beaten path and this is in a weird corner of the resort, but I think it’s worth it.

My afternoon was more just drinking and lounging and swimming and then my mom texted that they were on their way. I’d made a reservation at Sebastian’s (also in my resort) so I took a bath, got dressed and met them up front. We decided to grab a drink at Riviera before we checked in, and discussed our plans for the next day.

Then dinner. Holy CRAP this dinner. Sebastian’s is a hidden gem, y’all. You’re served a family style meal, of chicken, beef and sea food, with Caribbean style sides, and finished with a coconut bread pudding.

It was incredible, the service was incredible and we got a day of reservation. It was all pretty great. After that, we swung on the Skyliner and took a quick walk around Pop Century, before making plans for the next morning. (I would Uber to their hotel and then shuttle to Universal!

(I’m sorry I don’t have pictures on this post. I was in relaxation mode, and really not on my phone much.)

Coming Soon

We head to The Wizarding World, my mother and I try in vain to explain our philosophy about theme park touring to my father, and I get some really good sushi!

Walt Disney World Trip Report: 4/29-5/8: Dapper Day – A Galaxy Far Far Away

Previously on Reenie’s Trip to Disney World

I made some new friends via a new-ish friend, I ate good French good and bad Chinese food, I’d discovered that the heat might get the best of me.

“This Is A Fine Looking Group of Recruits”

Early rope drops are my favorite thing. It’s just really cool to get to the turnstiles when the sun is barely up, when there’s a group that feels like a crowd but you know is going to disperse so that in the end, you get on all the rides quickly. I of course headed right for Rise Of The Resistance, and while there was a short wait, something like 20 minutes, it was definitely worth that. I made a friend on line, and I wish I remembered her name, but she was lovely.

I’m not going to spoil Rise Of The Resistance. (Save a picture or 2). The surprises really make the whole ride. But it’s really really amazing. Fun and thrilling and all ages appropriate and full of exciting “how’d they do that?” Imagineering magic tricks. Really, really exceptional.

After Rise, my new friend and I hopped over to Millenium Falcon, where we both piloted, and then she was going to meet her friends and I went to ride Slinky Dog. After Slinky, I went to Tower of Terror, and then back to Galaxy Edge to try the Breakfast Ronto Wrap, and get some pictures taken, before I texted Maya and asked what their plans were.

They were just hanging out on Hollywood BLVD, shouting, “OH YOU LOOK GREAT!” at passing Dapper Folks, and as such, we had a really nice time for about a half an hour, before taking a bunch of pictures at Grauman’s Chinese theater.

Then we all broke for lunch, some people going to The Brown Derby and some to Prime Time Cafe. I was starting to wilt, and was still pretty full from my Ronto Wrap, so I went back to my room, hung in the AC and ate my leftovers from Cali Grill. Sara texted me when they finished up, I hopped right on the Skyliner and met them, for more “promenading,” to use Maya’s word, and then a decision to get out of the heat and see Frozen Ever After, before doing the big group Dapper Day meetup. (I got a milkshake with Bailey’s in there somewhere.)

Though the meetup was fun, this has never been an activity I’ve been wild about. These big photo calls at Dapper Day and at Comic Cons usually just make me feel overly sensitive and shy and I think the pandemic isolation has only amplified this tendency in me. But, most of the people I talked to were nice.

Then it was time to say goodbye to everyone. Several of my new crew were flying home that night and again, it was CRAZY HOT. So we parted ways. I hopped back on line for Rise Of The Resistance, then did Mickey And Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Star Tours. After getting off Star Tours a MASSIVE thunderstorm hit. I ran quickly and popped into Baseline Taphouse, grabbed a beer and waited out the rain with a bunch of other people who happened to be from Jersey! HEY!

By the time the rain abated, it was just about time for me to check in for my early dinner at The Brown Derby, so I took some pictures in front of Grauman’s Chinese. Then I ate dinner.

The ambience and drinks at The Brown Derby are better than the food, but the food is pretty good. I got shrimp cocktail and Coq Au Vin, plus a Gin Martini and a glass of The Silverado Zinfandel. (To go to a Disney Park and not have at least ONE serving of Silverado feels disloyal to me.)

Then it was back to Galaxy’s edge for more pictures and then the Cantina. I’d enjoyed my previous visit here, but this time, in full swing, crowded and loud and busy, it’s wildly fun. I talked to a father and son that had just wrapped their Galactic Starcruiser, and who endorsed it heartily.

Next I wound my way to one last Rise of The Resistance ride. I was once again with a fun group, but I of course left my fanny pack on the ride as I was getting off, and didn’t realize it until I was already at the front of guest services. We’ll get into that more in when I talk about the next day.

So I was back in my room and asleep by 10

Up Next On Trip Report

I take a day off from the parks, navigate the Walt Disney World Lost And Found system, and my parents come to Orlando.

Walt Disney World Trip Report: 4/29-5/8: Dapper Day – Around The World

Previously On Reenie’s Trip To Disney World

I got a little too drunk hanging out adjacent to The Magic Kingdom, but was ready to kick off my vacation

Welcome World Travelers

I had big plans that involved me having a protein bar and a coffee every morning before going into the parks, rather than overpaying for iced mochas and pastries. This didn’t work out. It is what I did THIS day, and despite my copious drinking the evening before, I was up in time to get on the Skyliner over to Epcot at 7:45 for the 8 AM early opening.

I LOVE this dress. It was very comfortable too.

I was planning on meeting up with my friend Maya today (We’ll get to that) but she’d let me know she wasn’t getting to the parks before 10. I instead took this time to just ride everything I wanted to. I hopped onto ‘Soarin, Spaceship Earth, Frozen and Ratatouille by 9, and then realized I was starving, so I went to get online at Les Halles, but the line was bananas so I went to a Joffrey’s cart and got a donut instead.

It was a good donut. I wandered around a bit, got my picture taken and then heard from Maya that she and her friends were in Connections Cafe (Epcot’s new Starbucks) I wasn’t too far from there so I made my way to them, and as it turned out, several other people I had met were with her! (I know all of these folks through my friend Irvin, who I doubt is reading this, but if he is, HI IRVIN!) Including Sara (who I actually DROVE to Irvin’s birthday party!) and some other people who I hadn’t met but clicked with right away.

This fabulous group made my weekend so much fun!

We mostly all walked around together, though we did get on Spaceship Earth again, (I will never ever complain about this) before people were getting ready for lunch. I had a reservation at the new La Creperie De Paris (back in the Ratatouille section) and they were heading to Le Cellier. So we parted ways.

Y’all? La Creperie is FAN FUCKING TASTIC. In addition to being deliciously made, they have a wonderful Prix Fix menu, which gets you a salad, a savory “gallette” and a desert crepe, plus a glass of hard cider for $33.

WONDERFUL. This was the first time, however, that the heat just got the absolute best of me. I quickly texted Maya and let her know that I was going to take a swim and a nap, and that I’d let her know when I was back in the park.

GOD I LOVE THE SKYLINER. I was back in my room, with an iced tea from the food court within 20 minutes of texting Maya. Chilling out and reading more of Written In The Stars, and even opening the bottle of rose I’d brought.

Around 3, I hopped back on the Skyliner and found the group in Italy, where they were taking pictures. They were all bounding as characters from The Princess And The Frog, so we were scouting for appropriate backgrounds, and also, it was still wayyy too hot to be outside for long. So we landed in the lobby of The American Adventure, watching The Voices Of Liberty wrap up their set. Sara still wasn’t happy with the setting, so several of them decided to head back to Port Orleans (where they were staying) take the pictures they wanted, cool down and come back for dinner.

While looking for my friends, I made a quick photo stop, because a big idea behind my outfit was Casablanca

Maya wanted to keep hanging out, as did her friend Mary, so the three of us headed to France, got some champagne and found a table in The UK under and umbrella and chatted. Maya had learned one of her cousins was also in the Park, and Mary and I both wanted to hit up La Cava Del Tequila so we quickly split up.

I was enchanted by my new friend, Mary, I can say that. We had a lot in common, and compared notes on various romance novels, TV shows, and Disney Parks stuff. We got a table at La Cava, ordered some margaritas and queso and just enjoyed the air conditioning and each other’s company.

After that, we were looking for somewhere to again just be out of the heat, and I mentioned heading to Weinkeller, the little wine shop in Germany. Mary, quickly asked, “WHAT?” And I excitedly pulled her over to it.

There was of course no line, because no one knows about this little spot, but it’s one of my favorites. She’d mentioned earlier that she liked Reisling and I grabbed a rose. (Still a little sweet for me, but Alpine wines always are). Dinner was in China, and the group was on their way back, so we walked over to China, shopped a little and then watched the movie.

Here’s the thing about that movie…I know it’s Walt Disney World and no one wants to be thinking about the uh…darkness, at that time, but a 15 minute propganda video for The CCP in the middle of a theme park feels…well, creepy. And that’s what this is. (There’s a scene where they describe Tienamen Square as the strength of modern China!) But, we were able to sit down and there was AC.

Eventually, after something of an Odyssey, the rest of the group made it to China for us to sit down and eat at Nine Dragons.

I’ve read every warning, and I was already latching onto the plans of others, so I didn’t want to be annoying about it. But seriously, unless you have no other options (and there usually are other options) DON’T EAT HERE. Our service was bad, the food is worse than Panda Express. The restaurant is lovely, so we decided if you want to experience the nice room, maybe order some dumplings and a cocktail and leave it at that.

Trying to recap my Epcot day, but it was a lot of wandering and it turns out I didn't take many pictures, but here we are!
I never think to take random pictures, but Sara insisted on this Roman Holiday pose and she was 100% correct

We got out of the restaurant right on time to watch Harmonius. Having already seen it, I was ready to enjoy myself, but I really really like this show. I think the music selections are excellent, the projections are creatively conceived and the fireworks are stunning.

Over dinner there’d been some talk of either getting drinks out on the Boardwalk or maybe even hopping over to Magic Kingdom.

Instead we all parted ways and headed out. Which was the right call, I had an early morning since I wanted to rope drop at Studios and ride Rise Of The Resistance. So I took another Skyliner ride, had what I would describe the next day as, “possibly the best shower of my life!” and curled up in bed, read a little and fell asleep.

This might be one of my favorite pictures of me ever taken. I had to post it

Next Time!

I fall in love with a ride, my greatest Disney Bounding/Dapper Day triumph, and I remember why I hate big meetups at stuff. (Spoiler Alert: It’s SOCIAL ANXIETY!)

Walt Disney World Trip Report: 4/29 – 5/8: Welcome Home!

Hey Friends, I’m BACK!

I spent 9 days in Walt Disney World a few weeks back.


I was EXHAUSTED and REFRESHED all at once. And, I am very very behind on movie watching.

But I like these trip reports as a sort of journal of my time in the parks and at the resort. So I do these for me, and as a roundabout way of giving advice and recomendations

Arrival Day 4/29

When I go to Orlando I like to take the earliest morning flight I can, thus giving myself an unstressfull afternoon and evening. This leads of course to stress the night before and morning of, but hey, if I’m going to be stressed, get it out of the way early!

So, I was on an 8 AM flight which landed around 10:30. I used the Mears Connect Service that is currently replacing The Magical Express. It functions the exact same way, except you have to get your own bag and it now costs $35.00. (Less service for more money, welcome to the new normal)

I always do my best to snap a shot rolling into the resort’s borders.

Honestly, it was fine. For $10 more I could have done an Uber, but I was curious about the buses. I was staying the The Carribean Beach Resort, we were the second stop after Yacht & Beach, so I was changing into a sundress and swimsuit, my bag’s checked by 1.

I think I was sufficiently vacationy, right?

I opted for some fish tacos and iced tea from Centertown Market for my lunch, and then headed to Banana Cabanna and got some kind of frozen drink, before parking my butt in a lounge chair by the pool and read my romance novel (Written In In The Stars by Alexandra Bellefleure. A WLW Pride And Prejudice retelling about astrology and risk assessment. GOOD!)

I do not remember what this was called but it was pink and very sweet.

I got bored by that pretty quickly. So I walked around. And then did some more walking around. Then, it was 3:15 and I still hadn’t gotten a notification that my room was ready, which felt weird, since check in was 3, AND I had a 5:50 dinner reservation, so I needed to shower and change.

All of this walking around also involved a full lap on the Skyliner. I mean obviously.

Turns out my room was ready and I could have been in there for an hour. Regardless, I LOVED this room. I was in The Jamaica section, on the first floor in a corner room. It was convenient and well lit and very comfortable.

So I changed. I got very lucky the night before and got a reservation at The California Grill. I’ve been trying to go back there for almost five years now, so I was excited.

Since I was down for Dapper Day, I dressed up even though I wasn’t going to be near any Dapper People. (They were mostly over at Disney Springs) But I’d packed the dress. I hopped on a bus to Magic Kingdom, then walked to the Contemporary.

We call this “The Betty Draper Dress” for obvious reasons

I still had about 20 minutes before Check In, so I went to The Outer Rim bar, and got to see a SpaceX launch (Fuck Elon!)

Then I got to The California Grill. If you are unfamiliar with this, it is a large restaurant on the top floor of The Contemporary Resort. It has floor to ceiling windows with unparallelled views of Walt Disney World and has two decks which have views of the fireworks at The Magic Kingdom every night. It’s a premiere dining experience and it’s not easy to get a table.

Right now, they’re serving a Prix Fix dinner with three courses drawn from the 50 years of opperattion. This costs $89 and for an extra $39 you get a sommelier pairing (which I obviously did.)

The California Grill does not disappoint. My three courses, a Duck A L’orange Flatbread, Filet Of Beef With Potatoes and Cauliflower, and A Dark Chocolate Almond Torte.

It was a LOT of food and I only ate about half of it (I brought most of the pizza and torte back to my room, actually). But the real stars for me here were the wine pairings. Really worth that extra $30.

With my choices I got a L’Ecole 41 Syrah from the Columbia Valley, which was sweet and light enough that it didn’t overwhelm the pizza (which had a LOT going on), a Nickel & Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa, which…frankly, a high end traditional Napa Cab is the PERFECT thing for a steak. There’s just nothing better. Dessert was with a Rose Regale, a sweet sparkling red which I LOVE but only drink in Walt Disney World because it is both expensive and kind of tough to find.

There were still a few hours before the fireworks when I vacated my table, so I hopped on the monorail and went to the Polynesian, I put my name in at Trader Sam’s but I wasn’t confident I’d make it, so I grabbed a Krakatoa Punch on the terrace and walked over to The Grand Floridian and got a seat at The Enchanted Rose and got a French 75, before hopping on The Monorail and getting back to The Contemporary and back up to California Grill for the fireworks. More champagne, and a spot on the deck aquired I watched Enchantment.

The French 75 is gin, lemon juice, sugar and Champagne. It is so refreshing and delicious and gets you WAY drunker than it tastes.

Uhhh, I have some issues with this show. (Later in the week they are resolved). It feels too short, FAR too current to be the Spectacular celebrating 50 years in the park, and the new song is no where near as moving as “Happily Ever After.” Not into it.

Not crazy about the show, but I’m pretty proud of this picture

After this, I settled in at the bar, rather than join the mad dash to the elevators, and ordered a whiskey (or 2) and despite having plenty of time to get back to The Magic Kingdom to get the bus, recognized I was WAY too drunk to do that, so I grabbed an UBER, got it together just enough to pop out my contacts and put on pajamas before passing out on top of the covers.

Coming Soon!

Dapper Days, new friends, WAY less booze, A Galaxy Far, Far away, lazy days at the pool, the Wizarding World, I can’t do theme parks with my dad anymore, and oppressive Floridian heat and humidity! It’s going to be fun!

My Big Florida Escape Trip Report Part 6: “So, What’s The Plan?”

March 25: “What Are We Looking For?”

While a day at The Magic Kingdom needs to be almost meticulously planned lest you find yourself hanging around the hub saying, “What do we want to do?” and then you wind up eating the sub par chicken nuggets at Tortuga Tavern and seeing The Country Bears 4 times because all the other lines are too long, trying to over structure an Epcot day is in exercise in futility.

So I try not to overthink it with Epcot. What I hadn’t considered, with Epcot’s COVID hours is that those first two hours walking around in Future World and getting all the rides done are pretty key in that lack of structure. But we’ll get there. I started the day around 8, knowing that Epcot wasn’t opening until 11, and knowing that I was just going to get a coffee and a pastry for breakfast anyway, I decided to take The Skyline (MY LOVE) over to Art of Animation and get my coffee and pastry there.

I love it so much. The transfer station at Carribean Beach is well organized and signed and my god, the ride from Caribbean Beach to the Pop Century/Art of Animation is wonderful. When you dip down over Hourglass lake it is just so magical. I’ve always pushed Port Orleans over Pop and Art, for my own preferences, as it’s usually not much more expensive, but I think the Skyliner changes that calculus quite a bit.

I got a coffee cake and a cold brew. (Me to the nice lady getting my coffee, “Is, is there almond milk?” Her response, “Oh my goodness! Yes!” I was so relieved. I don’t like asking for it when it isn’t clear, but not starting my day with a giant swig of dairy is much better on my stomach) I then got on line to head back to Epcot, and the line was long, it took about 20 minutes to board. Then the line to transfer at Caribbean beach was another 10. I was getting stressed as my parents were texting me that they were heading for the boat.

I got back in time to head to my room and get cleaned up and we still made out 11 o’clock opening, and I’m very glad I did the Skyliner ride, but I probably should have considered the loading delays.

We scanned in at International Gateway and got Mom’s wheelchair and headed towards the front of Future World. Unsure of what the deal was going to be with the wheelchair, our first step was Spaceship Earth, which has a back entrance and loading. We happily rode our time machines and then headed to The Seas, visiting with Nemo and then walking around the tanks and looking at the various fish.

We had a lunch reservation at The Garden Grill and then decided to ride Living With The Land before checking in. I love Living With The Land, it’s such a fun time capsule of what they thought they were doing with Epcot, and probably the last of that strange, boring and silly thought experiment. Then we checked in for a lunch at Garden Grill.

Mom had requested a character meal if they were happening. This seemed a good choice, with it’s traditional American Menu and social distancing wise, having Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale walking around on one rotating platform while we sat on the other made for a fun and more spontaneous experience than I could have even imagined.

But let’s talk about the food. My god, this is a wonderful meal. Roasted turkey and beef, stuffing, seasonal vegetables, a big old salad, macaroni and cheese, and then a berry cobbler for dessert. (Also a cupcake for the birthday girl.) All incredibly executed and served quickly and effeciently. Plus, it’s a slowly rotating platform and you get to see all of the Living With The Land biomes again! (Or for the first time if you didn’t ride the ride.)

After lunch we got on Journey Into Imagination and then Mom declared she wanted a nap/pool time. I was still raring to go, and decided to head back over to Studios to do some Star Wars based shopping. Wandering back into Battuu I felt giddy, and I headed to Doc Andar’s Den of Antiquities to get myself a holocron, and to pick up a couple of Kyber Crystals for Jess. She also requested a First Order pen and while waiting on line I decided to get a Green Milk. (I went green rather than blue because I will always pick citrus over berry) and then found a bench at Ronto Roasters and just, looked around and watched people.

It was pretty great. Because I was with company most of this trip, my quiet moments where I could just be in the parks were fewer this time. I do love them though. It’s a big part of what brings me back over and over again.

Aside from the rides and restaurants and good service, these are incredible spaces to simply be in. After that I hoofed it out to the boat dock, and waited a little while for the boat and quickly hopped in the shower.

My hope for the evening was to do a little mini “Drink Around The World” crawl, hitting Italy for Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar, Mexico for La Cava and UK for Rose and Crown before our dinner at Chefs Du France. After a misunderstanding about timing. (I’d said I wanted to be back in the park at 6:30, which my dad took as, “get to the boat by sometimes around 6:30.”) ANYWAY, while I waited for my parents I decided to head in and check out the lines for the bars. La Cava was wrapped all the way around the pyramid, so I decided to hop on.

After fifteen minutes and finally hearing from them, I was only just in the lobby and we were told that because of a sanitation need, it would be another 15 minutes before anyone got back in.

After checking in with my parents, we opted to meet in Italy instead. Turns out Tutto Gusto CLOSES at 7. I was, not happy, to put it mildly. We landed on grabbing an outdoor cafe table and get wines from La Bottega Italia.

This is part of why I don’t make strict plans for Epcot when I’m with other people. (When I’m by myself it’s because there’s such a fun sense of discovery when you’re just wandering around) I always wind up disappointed and pouty. This is not helped when I’m with my father, who was trying to coax me out of my pout. I assured him I would be fine a minute, I just wanted to be disappointed for a minute and needed to rethink the evening.

We decided to keep the same trajectory, but stick with the outdoor bars. So after finishing our wines, we headed over to Mexico to go to La Choza De Margarita (good as an alternative, but not nearly as interesting a menu as La Cava) stopping to admire the Topiaries for The Flower and Garden Festival as we went.

At La Choza, I got the Mint Cucumber Margartia (delicious), Mom got the Mango Frozen and Dad got the classic Frozen. A Good time was had by all, as we perched on a ledge outside of the patio.

Our final bar crawl stop was Rose and Crown, which had no line and we walked right up to the bar, and then found seats on that patio, where we talked with a couple of girls about my age, who were visiting from Queens. Dad got a Guiness, Mom got a Harp and I got my traditional Rose and Crown Snakebite. Watching the sun set over Showcase Lagoon is wonderful, but seeing the braziers remain unlit hurt my heart a little.

I’m never going to super miss Fantasmic, I’m always happy when I go, but it’s not a show I go out of my way to see every time. Yes, I cry every time “Touch The Sky” kicks in while I’m watching Happily Ever After, and I missed that, but sitting with a beer in the dark in Epcot without the stirring strings of Illuminations (Or whatever Harmonius is going to sound like) really drove home how strange this trip was.

After finishing our beers, we went and checked in to La Chefs Du France. I’m a fan of this restaurant and was happy to return, even though, were it not for my mom’s birthday, I might have pushed for a different venue where I haven’t yet eaten. But we had a wonderful meal, complete with another fantastic server.

After dinner we contemplated our next move. It was just about 10 o’clock, and the park was open for another hour. I suggested we could either go on Soarin’ or, if we wanted, we could walk over to one of the bars at the hotels for a night cap.

“We could go back to Abracadbar!” Dad exclaimed, and laughing Mom and I agreed, so off we trotted, grabbed the exact same table and got our whiskey’s and enjoyed being in until last call (11).

I assured both of my parents that there was no reason for us to rush to Animal Kingdom in the morning, I was not interested in rushing to pack before 7 AM, in order to check my luggage and head to the bus stop in time for an 8 o’clock opening. We decided to aim for getting to the stop around 8, rather missing the opening for a smooth check out experience.

We parted ways and then headed back to our respective hotels for bed.

Tomorrow! We head to Animal Kingdom, and head back south.

My Big Florida Escape Tip Report: Part 5: “When Did You Last Eat Something Green?”

March 24: It’s a Small, Small, World

There is just no way to fully describe the feeling I get when I walk through the tunnel from the entrance of The Magic Kingdom onto Main Street and see Cinderella Castle at the end. It just takes my breath away every single time.

It’s just incredibly warm, and beautiful and intrinsically happy for me. It wasn’t different this time, but again, let’s start on the morning. Slept better this time, and met my parents at the bus stop. I was very proud of them. While we were late because of the bus, we were still in the turnstiles by 8:15 for an 8:00 opening.

My mom is currently in treatment for a hip injury and will be getting surgery this summer. But because of that, she can’t walk very fast, and she is often in a lot of pain when she’s on her feet. She really thought she was going to manage this trip but after being on her feet and walking all day on Tuesday she agreed to rent a wheelchair for the rest of the trip.

She really loved me taking this picture, I promise, she wasn’t annoyed by me at all!

While I would much much have preferred my mother to be healthy and comfortable the whole trip, there are some, let’s say, compensations, for someone in your party being in a wheel chair. We got to cut a few lines, got return times even though fast passes aren’t active right now, and she was in a much better mood at dinner.

So, we headed towards Adventure Land, stopping for some pictures in The Plaza in front of The Crystal Palace. We observed that those main thoroughfare Photopass photographers were not as frequently posted. We assumed this was to prevent gathering and crowding which made sense, but well, it was strange. Anyway, after the pictures, we got right on line for Pirates Of The Caribbean (wheelchair accessible) with about a 10 minute wait. Then Splash Mountain with about 20 minutes (Partially accessible). I was, of course, committed to my TouringPlans app, but after the “wait 2 hours for Tower of Terror” situation, Dad was understandably skeptical.

I always love this Magic Shot

None the less, we tromped past The Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain to walk on to our private wheelchair accessible boat on It’s a Small World. Then we decided to do Peter Pan and got our first return time. About 35 minutes later. We decided to head to Tomorrowland, and learned that you cannot have multiple return times at once. But the wonderful Greg, saw Mom’s Birthday Buttons and let us through even though we really shouldn’t have been allowed through. (Cast Members are always the best! But as I said a few days ago, we really felt so well taken care of this trip.) Then we headed to Buzz Lightyear, before walking through the castle to get to Peter Pan. That was followed by The Haunted Mansion and a snack while we waited for that return time.

Liberty Market is the best hidden snack spot. We got Pretzels, but you can get fresh fruit or yogurt, usually churros, and there are tables. ANd people just walk past it, which is silly, because at 11, sometimes you just aren’t ready for lunch yet, but a pretzel in the shape of Mickey’s Head will do you.

After Haunted Mansion, we still had a good hour before we could check in for our reservation at Be Our Guest, so we rode The Little Mermaid and got our return time for Big Thunder Mountain. The Seven Dwarfs line had grown to long at this point, so we decided to skip it.

Finally getting to wear this dress in the park was the highlight of the trip, frankly.

On to Be Our Guest! I keep saying that I don’t need to come back here. And I maintain that. I’ve now eaten at this place six or seven times. Given my choice from the big themed restaurants built in the 2010s, I’m going to pick Skipper Canteen every time, but other people always want to check out Be Our Guest, and I do love it, so I go back.

Mom in her Belle Disneybound

Be Our Guest is currently only serving their 3 course Prix Fixe menu that’s been in place for dinner the last few years. I understand why with COVID this was the right call but I hope it doesn’t stay. I was a big fan of the Be Our Guest lunch menu and for the world to lose a good Croque Monsieur is a tragedy. We enjoyed out meal anyway. I got the lobser bisque, the roast chicken and we all got the sampler. Dad and Mom both got the French Onion Soup, and Mom also got the chicken and I believe Dad got salmon.

Once again, we were treated to something special for The Birthday Girl, this time, an extra plate of the Grey Stuff, that we were all a little bit too full to enjoy to the full extent. We were discussing our stomach troubles when we realized it had been a few days since any of us prioritized getting some vegetables. So we agreed to order salads from now on.

But first, this dairy based sugary treat! Excellent for upset stomachs!

After eating, we walked to Big Thunder Mountain and rode the Wildest Ride In The Wilderness before walking down Mainstreet to head back to the hotel for a nap and some pool time, and we were greeted by The Dapper Dans beginning a performance from the Train Station Balcony. We were thrilled, listening to them harmonize and sing MOm and my favorite weird Disney song, “Walking Right Down The Middle of Mainstreet USA,” and it was just the kind of random magical moment that we’d been talking about how we missed.

This was my first real relax in the afternoon moment of the trip and it is one of my favorite things about a Disney World Vacation. I lounged out on a chair on Barefoot Bay, lay in the lazy river for a few laps, read about Francesca Bridgerton’s sexual frustration after being widowed at 23, and then grabbed a prosecco from the Market to drink while I got dressed for our evening at Disney Springs.

This is just a nice picture of my parents

I have to thank Jess for her reccomendation here. I’d floated doing either another hotel restaurant or Disney Springs for a light lounge type dinner this night, knowing that we’d all still be pretty full from the 3 course Be Our Guest feast. We agreed on Disney Springs, since it really is a place we know we don’t spend enough time on these trips, despite loving it. Jess and Alex had just gotten back from a trip and Jess clued me in that Jaleo, Chef Jose Andres’s restaurant offered some really great dinner deals on Wednesdays.

We grabbed the bus, and decided to check out World of Disney before our reservation (snagged last minute via Open Table rather than The Disney System, some of the Springs spots are on Open Table, so you should always check), but the wait to even get into the store was a half hour so we bailed on that, and took a stroll along the water and across the bridges to get to the other side of the complex to go to Jaleo.

This is just a fun picture of me!

We checked in, but it was still going to be a while for our table, and so we went across the way to Splitsville to grab a beer and wait, but of course as soon as we ordered, I got the text our table was ready. So we didn’t even get our beers. But we then were settled into this cute little banquet and were once again treated to a fantastic server.

So, the Wednesday deal, let’s talk about it. All bottles of wine are 1/2 off. We went with a Tempranillo, because, Tapas. And there’s a limited “Taste of Spain” menu for $40 a person. We did a 2 person take on that, and it was still too much food. So if you had 4 and bought for 2, you’d probably be golden. Jaleo is a really excellent spot and I’m adding it to my “you must go there if you want good food and to avoid children” list.

After Jaleo, we walked back over to the landing, and saw that the guitar guy was still playing outside of Raglan Road, so we settled in at a table, ordered some whiskey’s and sang along. Then we went to wait for our bus, and a nice bus driver even changed destination to get us back early enough.

Monday (I’m taking the weekend off)! It’s Epcot Day! Also more Skyliner! And a return to The Spires! Looking forward to sharing it with you all

My Big Florida Escape Trip Report Part 4: “TO THE SPIRES”

Alright, here we go! No preamble (Except to Apologize for the lateness, this took longer to write than I thought it would)

Tuesday, March 23: “Bright Suns, Traveler!”

I didn’t sleep super well, I was pretty stressed out about getting to Hollywood Studios early and also getting us on Rise Of the Resistance. I woke up around 5:30 AM (as you may know from previous trip reports or your own experiences, it is not really possible to get coffee or breakfast that early, I was able to MAKE coffee in my room though, so yay?)

Anyway, after drinking coffee and showering, and then running down to The Marketplace to get some biscuits (preorder on the app! As recommended by social distancing guidelines!) I set my countdown for Rise of The Resistance boarding groups.

I didn’t get it.

Womp womp.

Relaxing then, I texted my parents to check in on their timing, and was told that they would be ready to get on the boat at my “8:00 or I’m leaving without you” timeline. So I began walking over to the Dolphin, and got to their room.

We were to the boat dock at The Swan and Dolphin by 8:15 and at the turnstiles by 8:30. And thank God we were.

Hey, y’all, if you’re going to Disney World while the reservation system is still in place? Make sure that the reservation covers your whole party. Because our reservation just covered me.

So, we were then sent over to guest services where the wonderful Rachel did some clicking on her magic tablet and got all of us into the reservation. It was a very stressful and guilt inducing fifteen minutes. But Rachel was great and were it not for her, we would have had a much more difficult week.

Once we arrived back at the turnstiles and got through we headed straight on back to Galaxy’s Edge and got right on line for Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. I did manage to keep it together, sobbing wise as we walked through but then, oh, then we got to the room where the Hondo animatronic was talking to Chewie and I just lost my shit. As a Star Wars fan and a theme park fan this is an incredible moment. The robot is perfection, moving with ease and smoothness that is nearly human and it’s Hondo! Who doesn’t love that guy?

Then you board the Falcon. Mom and I were pilots and Dad was a gunner. We did not score well, but I did almost poop my pants when I learned I was the one got to “punch it” as Chewie does. Seriously, it’s a magical moment. The ride is, I agree a little bit too short and relies a little too heavily on the video game mechanics, but there’s enough good about it that it’s still super fun.

This is probably my 5th? Version of Poe. Sorry Not Sorry

After that we walked around Batuu, as there wasn’t enough time to get on another ride before my build a lightsaber appointment. We did a few Photopass stops and I cried a few times and Mom and walked through the market place, while Dad attempted to buy a coffee. (He couldn’t because Ronto Roasters requires the app, and my father does not put apps on his phone)

I love Batuu, it really does feel like you stepping into Star Wars and it’s awesome. Then my lightsaber appointment came up. Once again I miscalculated and it turns out each builder is only allowed one witness, so Dad came with me, and Mom once again went in hunt of some caffeine for Dad. (Wound up with a Diet Coke).

Saavi’s Lightsaber Workshop was probably the Galaxy’s Edge experience that had been most hyped up to me. Every blog praised it. Jess and Margarita both talked about how it made them cry. When Melvin and Lora got back from their trip, Melvin practically tripped over himself to show us his.

It did not disappoint. The Imagineers did a wonderful job of using that nuclear grade John Williams music to set you in the mysterious and powerful zone of the Force, and The Cast members guide you through your experience with calm and excitement.

After this we decided to grab lunch at Docking Bay 7. Mom and I both got the chicken and dad got the ribs.

Once again, a huge hit. The restaurant itself is very cool and full of ambience and the food is fabulous. It’s also a reasonable portion, which for a theme park, is a big deal, because you are usually either given way too little food or like a giant pig trough. This is actually the correct amount of food for a grown adult to eat. Fascinating and great.

After lunch we got on line for Slinky Dog Dash, and while waiting tried for Rise of The Resistance again. We didn’t get it. It’s fine. It’s a reason to go back. I really very much enjoyed Slinky, but I’m always going to like a Disney Coaster. I like harder and more intense Coasters too, but there’s something just so great about going just fast enough for a thrill, while also getting a cool view and something of a story. The final moment where Wheezy sings, “You’ve Got A Friend In Me,” is about as fun a moment as any.

After Slinky, we headed to try out Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. *Sigh* Here’s the deal kids. This is a good ride. The trackless vehicles are fantastic. The mix of screens and animatronic show scenes are great. There’s a really incredible moment involving often neglected Mickey & Friend’s character Daisy Duck. (I stan The Duck crew, but you all know this) but it’s not good enough given what it replaced. It simply does not live up to the magic and perfection of The Great Movie Ride, which, if it were in another park would have been considered an untouchable classic, I’m just saying.

After that we decided to get in line for tower of terror which was 2 hours and OMG, I love that ride but 2 hours is way too long to wait for it. However we were killing time before we headed to our ultimate destination, Oga’s Cantina. So it worked out.

But Oga’s! It’s very fun! I got the Bespin Fizz (I was dressed as Poe, so I got to rep my other fave, Lando, this way) , Mom got the Fuzzy Taun Taun, Dad got a beer. (Unless it’s mostly gin, my dad is not really a cocktail guy) We walked around and luckily stayed long enough for the music to loop around to the Cantina Song. I definitely want to head to this place with fellow nerds. While Dad was awed, and I am the Star Wars fan that I am because of him, I can only imagine how much fun I’d have had in this space with my friends.

After that, we decided to take a break, before dinner, our reservation at Toppolino’s Terrace at The Riveria, with a meet up at The Abracadabar on The Boardwalk. Watching my Dad fall in love with a Disney bar warmed my heart. I like Abracadbar fine, though it will never replace River Roost in my heart, it’s a lot of fun and has the location going for it. After drinks, and Dad making best friends with our server (AND LETTING ME PAY!) we walked over to get on The Skyliner to The Riviera.

Please note that I did not realize my mask was upside down until we were on the boat back

Is it possible to enter into a monogamous romantic relationship with a transportation system? Because I think it’s true love between me and The Skyliner. The veiws! It’s so fast! And comfortable! It takes you to International Showcase, which I love! Just, I adore it. We’ll talk even more about my love of it in a few days.

“I give to you and you give to me, True Love, True Love…”

We arrived at The Riviera and walked around a little before getting on the elevator to Toppolino’s Terrace. While I still need to check out Dahlia Lounge but I would pick Toppolino’s over California Grill, if I was ranking rooftops. The view, of the entire resort and even out to I-4 is incredible. The menu is limited but beautifully executed, we had some good wine and even a free champagne toast. (Those Celebration buttons really will do you good.)

After dinner, we decided to take a quick stop over at Epcot. We got on Frozen Ever After and then headed back to the hotels. It wasn’t particularly exciting, but it was nice to take a walk around World Showcase at night, and to have Frozen Ever After Knocked Out.

TOMORROW! Mom realizes not being in constant pain is worth more than her pride, we find a world of laughter and world of tears, plus Dad tries The Grey Stuff, which is as advertised, delicious!

My Big Florida Escape Trip Report Part 3: “Wait, how are we getting there?”

All right! All right! All right! We’re in for the real thing now! Thank you all for putting up with me getting me sea legs under me by talking about boring errand running with my mom to get to the main part of the trip, I got to go back home!

Monday, March 22: Arrival Day! Pool Bars! Disneybound!

Waking up sort of early to get a little bit of work done despite being on vacation was probably the best decision I made all week, because it did make my reentry to the real world a week after this a good deal more smooth. But I digress, by 10:30 AM, we were on the road, and by 1, we’d gotten our bags checked at both The Walt Disney World Dolphin (Mom and Dad) and The Disney Beach Club (Me!) though none of our rooms were ready. We also grabbed some quick sandwiches at Hurricane Hannah’s. (I do not recommend this, although it served our purposes)

I had seafood salad sliders and a froze, Mom had an Italian Sandwich on Ciabatta and a Bannana Cabana, and Dad had a Turkey Sub and a Budwiser. Really, I’ve had worse and less thought out first meals on a Disney trip and in less fun atmospheres, because Hurricane Hannah’s is the pool bar and the absolutely lovely Barefoot Bay pool complex at The Yacht and Beach Club. Which, rules you guys, it is the best.

After lunch, we took a walk around the Crescent Lake region. Popping into the gift shop at The Boardwalk Hotel before heading back to the The Dolphin to get my parents settled. This lead to my favorite brand of conversation from the whole trip.

“How are we getting there?”

We had a dinner reservation at The Grand Floridian, so Dad got a little panicky. (If you don’t know Walt Disney World has a largely fantastic public transportation system that is free to everyone who’s on the property. But it doesn’t run hotel to hotel, you have to transfer.) I suggested we take a bus to The Magic Kingdom and then the monorail to the Floridian. This settled him down quite a bit.

I headed back to The Beach Club, and settled in the “member’s lounge” and did some more work. (I wish I was kidding. I’ve become one of those people now) before getting the text that my room was finally ready. I settled in, took a shower, got dressed and then Mom called asking if they should head over to meet me for the bus.

I said sure, and then turned on the TV and learned that OMG Must Watch Disney and the delightful Stacy have been replaced by probably actually entertaining Cartoon Shorts. Again, I say probably because I was too busy being outraged that my friend Stacy didn’t welcome me and yell at me about “HOW COOL IS SPLASH MOUNTAIN?” and I was quite put out.

Anyway, we had a late dinner reservation, but I wanted to check out the Enchanted Rose lounge at The Grand Floridian, having not visited since my beloved Mizner’s was converted to the trendy Beauty and The Beast style bar.

Enchanted Rose is gorgeous. And the drinks are good and the bartenders are, like all Disney Bartenders, top notch chatters. While I will always mourn when a wonderful simple hotel bar goes away, I can’t deny that at least this replacement is super worthy. I also wore a Belle Disneybound and Mom and I did a little photo shoot of me in the dress with the bar. (This room was completely empty, which is why I took my mask off. If there had been even one other group of people there I never would have. There was a level of irresponsibility even going on this trip, I certainly followed every single rule while doing so).

We also made some friends while we were having drinks who were also heading over to Narcoosee, where we were eating, so we all walked over to the restaurant together. We got a great table right by the windows, and I was thrilled when Mom gasped in happiness when The Electrical Water Pageant went by. She was probably the one most preemptively bummed out by the lack of things like parades and fireworks, (I later realized how odd and hollow the experience felt without them) so she was happy.

Narcoosee is meant to be a classic Florida restaurant, so you know what that means! MORE FISH! (I ate so much fish this week it was delightful) We started with a cheese plate which I very much enjoyed. We also ordered a bottle of Silverado Zinfandel. I suggested the Silverado as it’s the Disney Family’s Winery. It was good. I rarely choose ZInfandel, but for fish, it makes sense.

I had The Surf and Turf with Shrimp, Mom had the Porkchop and Dad got Lobster I think? I should have taken pictures. We had the first of a series of truly excellent and attentive servers. Seriously in nearly 30 years of going to Disney World and a decade of these regular adult trips, I had the best service experiences this time. Pretty much every Cast Member was enthusiastic, chatty and exceedingly helpful. The Cast have always been such a huge part of what makes Disney World special and at the moment they are working around masks, face shields and distancing requirements, a shoestring staff and a guest population that’s deeply on edge, and they’re still sunshine in a bottle.

After dinner, one of my all time Dis-nerd dreams came true. I timed this trip around my mom’s birthday, which also happens to be my parent’s wedding anniversary. (They got married on Mom’s 24th Birthday, a move she now describes as, “so romantic at the time, but kind of a pain in the ass as we grew up.”) I enlisted my siblings to give them a specialty cake for the occasion.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time on the Disboard Cake Chatter Thread and as such had a good idea of how to get exactly what I wanted and was very, very excited to see and taste the cake.

After dinner Dad excitedly asked what our transportation options were, and I said, “Oh, it’s midnight, unless you’re at Disney Springs, the option is Uber.” So we Ubered to the Dolphin, made our plans for the morning, and said goodnight.

I walked back to The Beach Club, Crescent Lake was eerily quiet, but it was lovely.

Tomorrow! I finally get to Batuu, long afternoons in the sun prove a bad call, and I fall in love with a gondola! Stay tun

My Big Florida Escape Trip Report! Part 2: Boats Boats Boats

Hello! We’re still in Jupiter and I am still, unfortunately, without photos. Once we get to Orlando (tomorrow) I will have pictures galore to share.

Anyway, let’s talk about the rest.

Saturday, March 20 – Water Water Everywhere

A few years ago, my sister and I realized that when you’re in coastal areas there are usually two kinds of people, beach people, and boat people. We are overwhelmingly, beach people. We love roasting in the sun, and riding waves and the slow pace of a beach day.

My Uncle Denis is a boat person. And we’ve enjoyed being on his various boats since we were very little even if we aren’t really boat people. And these days, he hires a captain and takes the boat out every Saturday, and most of these Saturdays, my parents join him. This time, my dad was playing golf, but Mom and I headed out.

A speedboat is a wonderful thing and it’s a very free feeling when it’s going fast and the wind is blowing through your hair. We boated around the inlet, saw the lighthouse again. (The Lighthouse is really nice) and then docked, said our goodbyes, and headed to the spa at The Admiral’s Cove Country Club to get our nails done.

We had a delightful time doing that and then, Mom had a few other errands to run, which I happily did with her. (Which was a little silly on my part, I could have been poolside!) Then we got back to the house just in time to get changed for dinner, which was my mom’s birthday dinner at the Club’s restaurant.

I am aware that describing these days makes me sound like a Downton Abbey character, but I was on vacation. So a certain level of absurd relaxation is worth it.

Dinner was lovely,back with my Uncle Denis and my Aunt Britta, as well as some of the friends that my parents have made in their short time down there. They start dinner early because they’re old. (I did tease them about this, “5:30 for cocktails? ON SATURDAY NIGHT?”) After said, way too early dinner, we headed to another restaurant for a Night Cap, it was too windy to be outside on the Waterfront, but this place was really cool, and we even talked to a stranger at the bar, something I have described as missing deeply from my life so that was great. Then it was back to the house again, and then bed.

Sunday, March 21 – It’s someone’s Birthday and Hangover Management

There had been some talk about us heading to Brunch on Sunday morning, but, when it came down to it, none of us wanted to get moving early enough to make that happen. So instead we ate soda bread and hung out by the pool and then packed and planned for our Orlando week.

As dinner time came around we decided to try for Guanabana again, and SURPRISE, there was again a 2 hour wait, so we again, bailed. We instead headed back to the Club to one of the 4 restaurants on property (seriously, my parents are very fancy people now.) to The Marina Grill. It’s so called because it’s literally on a boat marina and it’s beautiful.

The menu is pretty straightforward bar fare, which, since we were all still feeling a little hungover was perfect and we got seats at the bar itself and had a lovely, very chill time. We also, happened to be served by a bartender named Tristan and I decided this was some kind of sign from the universe, though I don’t know what it means.

Since we were going to have an earlier morning (I was determined to get on the road by 10) we headed back to the house. I asked my mom if there was something else she wanted for her birthday and she assured me that the week ahead would be enough of a celebration…

And trust me, readers, it really, really was.

TOMORROW! We arrive in The Happiest Place On Earth. I fulfill a couple of Dis-Nerd dreams, and my dad learns the benefits of the Walt Disney World Transportation System!