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 Top 10 Random Spots In Disney World

So, I spent this weekend pricing and doing some Disney research. I’m not planning a full on trip in the next year, but I have decided that I’m going to do a weekend, (taking either Friday or Monday off from work) to see Toy Story Land and see Illuminations one last time since it’s likely going away soon.

But I’ve been trying to avoid reading and researching much to try to off set that urge I get to just book a trip and head off. (For one, I can’t afford it, for another I have other travel plans for 2019…)

But during this research I started thinking about the trips I’ve taken in the past few years. (8 in the last five.) (Again, I totally don’t have a problem…) and the park exploration and the random spots that I’ve found and loved in the resort in that time. Some of these are weird out of the way spots, others are really really obvious, and others only make sense if you’re me.

10. The Waiting Areas At The Jungle Cruise: Skipper Canteen

I love the Skipper Canteen, I think it’s a wonderful restaurant with an even more wonderful menu, and fun service filled with puns. But my favorite part of eating here has very little to do with the meal and is actually while you’re waiting for your table. There are two spots that you wind up waiting, the first is the porch, where large rocking chairs sit beneath giant fans. The second is actually inside, where a few tufted chairs and a water cooler, filled with cold h2o and various fruits await you, plus a letter from Henrietta Falls and a portrait of Doctor Albert Falls hang on the wall. Both are quiet and relaxing and phase you into the great themeing of your dinner perfectly.

9. Outside Patio At Backlot Express

I actually love everything about Backlot Express, it’s a big ass quick service restaurant with a basic but well executed menu and  lots of air conditioned seating (as a quick reminder this is where I ate Star Wars themed Chicken and Waffles, and got my BB-8 souvenir cup.)  But I especially love taking some time to eat your lunch on the patio here, in view of the At-At at Star Tours and watching the Jedi Training show. It’s a nice little moment of Star Wars themed joy, which is always appreciated, when you’re me.

8. Any of The Side Gardens In Pandora

Like half this list is going to be spots in Animal Kingdom, just FYI. But wandering around Pandora, at any time of the day, but especially at night, it’s worth wandering into weird corners and seeing the plant life. But be sure to follow the trails, because if you don’t do that, you never find this particular spot.

7. Top of The Stairs In The Canada Pavillion

I think that Canada might be the most underrated of the World Showcase Pavillions, but there’s a spot right up at the top of the stairs, that looks over a waterfall and has some benches and it feels like you’re far away from the chaos of the park below you. It’s also the spot of my favorite picture of Mary, maybe ever?

6. The Rose Gallery At Be Our Guest

To be honest, there are not going to be many Magic Kingdom spots here, because I very very rarely stop to smell the roses in that park. (This is also proof that I rarely spend ENOUGH time in Magic Kingdom), but I love The Rose Gallery, if all of Be Our Guest were just this room, it would still be spectacular. (The West Wing and The Ballroom are also spectular and it makes the whole place magical) I love the music box, and the “paintings” and banquette tables. It’s the only room that really feels like a French bistro. And fun fact, I wrote the scene where Lefty and Marina dance for the first time while eating my Croque Monsieur here.

5. The Patio At Spice Road Table

Spice Road Table is my favorite restaurant at Disney World, and sitting on the patio, drinking Sangria and eating hummus fries while watching Illuminations is probably my favorite thing to do while at Disney World. (Besides ride The Haunted Mansion) It’s a thing I gently manipulate everyone who joins me at Disney into sharing at least one part of this experience. (no one has been disappointed..btw…)

4. The Porch At The Nomad Lounge

Nomad Lounge might be my favorite bar in the parks. (Not on property, we’ll get there) and sitting on the porch, with a beer, (while Mom and Kristi pussied out and drank tea…) is easily one of my favorite moments I’ve ever had. It’s just a solid and beautiful space, with a great view and excellent drinks and a pretty good menu. Although it changes a lot and the fish tacos that I adored are now gone…but still, grab a Night Monkey (this is a rum drink that also has espresso in it!) or a Safari Amber and watch the water good past.

3. The Terrace At California Grill

Watching Wishes at California Grill was one of my top ten favorite moments of my big Disney year, but it’s also a beautiful spot, with an incredible view no matter what, and to quote Gonzo, I’m going to go back there someday.

2. The Aviary On The Mahrajah Jungle Trek

To explain the incredible moment of magic that was walking into this room right after feeding time when Juli, Dom and I were there is impossible. It was so incredible. And the other times I’ve walked the Trek, this is still a beautiful space full of gorgeous creatures.

1. The Fireplace Chairs At River Roost

I’ve now stayed at Port Orleans Riverside twice, which makes it my most stayed at Disney Resort, and I will likely stay there again. I like the rooms, and the food court and the proximity to Disney Springs, but I really really love River Roost lounge and those big leather arm chairs by the fireplace where Tommy and I sat, laughing about our adventures while drinking wine remain my favorite place in the whole resort.

Cosplay Corner: Dapper Day Disneybound Figment

OK, so this is truly the last you’ll hear about this Disney trip, and it’s not about the trip quite so much as one of my outfits on it.

Hooray!

Anyway, planning Dapper Bounds is easily my favorite part of Dapper Day weekends. (To the point that I’m considering going down for Fall again…if I can swing it…just because of the Animal Kingdom outing…swoon)

And while my Figment bound is an achievement in both ‘bounding and just in general Disney Park nerdery, as Figment be crazy obscure, y’all, I was mostly happy with how nice it looked and how comfortable it was.

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The dress is a cotton poly blend, purchased from Amazon, which is also where the belt came from. The crinoline, which is bright orange and probably won’t have any other uses…came from Wish.

Seriously, Wish.com, it’s been incredible to me these past few costume seasons.

I wore my hair in my now kind of signature (whatever, let me have this delusion) Usagi style pigtail buns, as it’s gets my, too long for it’s own good (but I love it) hair off my neck, and gave a nice nod to Figment’s horns. I added the bows for cuteness. I also wore my saddle shoes. (For my effusive ode to saddle shoes, see my Cinderella ‘bound post)

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Coming up in Cosplay Corner…A Han Solo casual cosplay, the return of Wonder Girl, Ren Faire prep, and a possible jaunt of the Enterprise. Who’s excited?

Revenge Of Dapper Day: Favorites

It’s time for favorites! You guys, seriously, I’m so fortunate, but in reality, this one was hard this time. Only because so much has become old hat for me, that the standouts stand out even more than usual! Seriously, I can’t believe that I have “routines” at Disney world now. I’m grateful for it, but it’s weird.

Ride:

I think Frozen gets the cake this time. If only for repitition. That I rode it three times within a day feels completely surreal. Also, I just love it so much. Because I rode it so many times, getting to really focus on Sven, he who is my favorite Animatronic, was a delight. Also, when I went on it with Mike and Megan, we took a really good pic.

Show: 

This was tough. “Happily Ever After” finally left it’s impression. And obviously, I will always and forever love “Illuminations,” but I think I have to give it to the floor show at The Edison. There’s the dancers, and the band and acrobats, and it’s really, really special. If you’re of age, give it a shot.

Meal: 

Biergarten. For sure. While it’s hard to dispute me devouring half a lobster in under 20 minutes due to not eating food on an MK day (not my greatest decision) I can’t get in the way of excellent German food, a liter of Heffewiezen, a baby grabbing at said liters of beer, and children dancing to German music.

Also seriously, the food. The pork schnitzel. HOLY CRAP. The warm potato salad, YES! The spatzel, the best I’ve ever had (sorry Uncle Mark!) and obviously the apple streudel. I mean obviously. 

Drink:

I DRANK A LITER OF HEFFEWEIZEN! Though the Martinis at the Edison are a very close second.

Snack:

This isn’t even mine. I didn’t  even snack much. (#costumeseasoniscoming and all…) But, I have to tell this story and I forgot about it while I was writing up my Animal Kingdom trip report. Mike was basically running a fever the whole time we were there. But this did not stop him from while we were sitting on line for Safari, turning me and saying, “hey is there someplace here that I can get a Dole Whip, or do I have to go to Magic Kingdom?” I replied, “Oh no, you can for sure get one here, you can even get it on a rum float!” He sighed, “I’m not feeling up to that, but that sounds AWESOME for next trip.” Before we left the park, Mike got his Dole Whip and Megan got a Mickey Bar (I’d already had my Mickey Bar at Magic Kingdom on Saturday) So that wins for favorite snack.

So that’s what’s happening there. I’m going again for a weekend this summer (still working on a date and plans! But it’s looking like mid July) I’ll get everything lined up for that soon. As for life here. We’re about to dive into the heart of movie season, with costume season nipping at it’s heels, I’m pushing through the end of Don Quioxote, which means, I’ll be picking up the new Trials of Apollo.

See you real soon!

Revenge Of Dapper Day 4/29: A Dream Can Be A Dream Come True

I don’t know why I ever even tell myself that I’m going to go to Studios for Extra Magic Hour on Sunday. I never wind up doing it. It just doesn’t happen. This time, I was actually ready, but missed the bus and I decided rather than rush it when the next bus came, I’d take my time, get some breakfast and rope drop at Epcot.

This wound up being a much better choice, in the long run, I think. While waiting at the turnstiles I made some friends (YAY!) with two girls who were bounding as Rey and Kylo Ren, we parted ways quickly, but I was happy to have talked to them. Once we got in to the doors, I reconnected with them and there was again, a bunch of chatting, giggling and explaining of dapper ware. We wound up riding Soarin together, before I was off to Norway, ready to redeem my Frozen 9:30 fast pass.

There wasn’t much of a line, so I decided to wait for it on standby and then ride again with the fast pass. This worked awesomely, and by 10 I’d ridden the ride twice.

I had a bunch of time to kill, since I was waiting to meet up with Michael and Megan, and with our friend Nick, and his brother in law and his girlfriend (We had quite a crew), so I decided to wander around a bit. I stopped for photopass pictures, I met Baymax, I rode Spaceship Earth & Imagination (had to, you know, the bound..) Then I heard from Nick, and we met up with him and his baby daughter Eva. (His son Matty was sick, so Matty and his wife Jen stayed home). We rode Nemo, which was Eva’s first Disney ride. (She’s not even 1, she was such a trooper all day.) We then met up with Nick’s brother in law Mike and Mike’s girlfriend Gabby, headed to Mexico to get La Cava Margaritas, before Mike and Megan finally got to the park.

So, we were supposed to eat at Biergarten at 2, but by the time we’d met up with everyone, it was closer to 3. (Notes on a theme) Luckily, we still got our table. The German buffet was delicious, the music was really fun, and I heartily reccomend this restaurant for larger groups. (We were seven including baby…) especially if you like meat. Pork in particular.

Then we just got to wandering in World Showcase, stopping for drinks in Italy, France and The UK, before the locals decided to split. We took some group pictures in front of Spaceship Earth, and then Mike, Megan and I decided to ride it.

I teased Mike that this felt exceptionally like when we were kids and our dad always took us on Spaceship Earth in the evening before the fireworks. He nodded, “Dad, really loves this ride.” After our trip through time (I should note both times I rode, no breakdowns. HOORAY!) Then we decided to go for Margaritas (TWICE IN ONE DAY! BLESS!) then Mike said he wanted to try for Frozen.

Wait was about a half hour, and we got right on. (3 times, I rode Frozen 3 times this day, if you’re keeping track.) Then we headed to Morocco to check in for our Spice Road Table reservation. We settled at a table, ordered Hummus Fries, (YESSSS) Rasberrie Brie, Fish Croquettes and a pitcher of Sangria, and watched Illuminations. It was lovely. As always.

Next stop was The Beach Club to grab a Minnie Van to Springs, where we had drinks at Enzo’s Hideaway and then Raglan Road before heading back to the room and basically pass out.

Stay tuned for Animal Kingdom, light Studios, and a quick AF trip home!

Revenge Of Dapper Day Disney Trip Preview!

Guys! I’m off to Disney World again this week. (SHUT UP! YOU HAVE A PROBLEM! I’m FINE!)

So, as always I thought I’d do a rundown of what I have planned, what I’d like to do and then when I do the trip reports, we can all laugh about the plans going off the rails, sound good?

First of all, named the trip “Revenge Of Dapper Day” since it’s the third one. My third Dapper Day and the third time I’m going this weekend in April.  (It’s a Star Wars joke!)

Anywho, here’s my thoughts:

Friday April 27: Arrival Day

Hooray for arrival day! I’m not taking my customary 5/6 AM flight for a lot of reasons, but mainly it was because I wanted to actually do a Disney Springs night, and that tends to not happen when I arrive in the morning and want to rush right to the parks. SO! My flight is at 2, I get in at 4:30, which means I should be arriving at Port Orleans: Riverside by 6:30 at the latest. I have a reservation at Maria & Enzo’s at 7:45 after which I plan to just wander around a little before going to The Edison for drinking and dancing. That’s also the official Dapper gathering. If I’m not enjoying myself, there’s a NON ZERO shot of me hopping a bus to the Poly and hitting Trader Sam’s.

Saturday April 28: Dapper Day at Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom opens at 8, so I plan to be at the turnstiles at 6:30.

I’m kidding. I‘m not doing that again. In REALITY, I’d like to be there by 7:30, that way I can rope drop over to Fantasy Land and get Mine Train and Princess Meets knocked out. (I’ll be dapper bounding as Cinderella so she’s a must, and obviously I have to see my buddy Rapunzel.) I have a bunch of morning fast passes (Space Mountain, Peter Pan & Splash Mountain) plus I’ll hit the other heavy hitters with lighter lines (Pirates, Mansion, Small World, Jungle Cruise) and then I’m thinking I’ll go over and do a brunch type meal at The Grand Floridian, after checking out the Dapper Day pop up shop there. I don’t have a reservation, but I doubt I’ll have trouble getting a table at Grand Floridian Cafe, there seem to ALWAYS be reservations for that day of!

I’ll probably pick up a fast pass and maybe ride the riverboat after that before my afternoon break, where I FULLY PLAN on spending at least an hour sitting by the pool. I never do pool time on these trips and I always regret it. I’m hoping to then either do Riverside Mill quick grab or maybe head to Springs for a late lunch/supper type meal depending on timing, before going back over to MK for the evening (Aiming for around 6).

I love evening at The Kingdom, so I’ll likely wander, do a few rides, maybe character meets, but the one thing I absolutely want to do this trip is head to The Contemporary around 8 and see if I can get to California Grill Lounge for Happily Ever After. Then I’ll head back to the park for my absolute favorite time of day post nighttime show park time. God, I love it, I love the lighting and swimming upstream from the crowds leaving at Main Street (or Hollywood Ave, or The Oasis, Or…I’ve actually never stayed at Epcot post Illuminations…) There are a few things I SPECIFICALLY want to do in these two hours (Dumbo, People Mover & Big Thunder Mountain) but mostly again, I think I’m just gonna grab a Dole Whip and walk about. The park closes at midnight, so I likely won’t go out afterwards, but if I’m SUPER antsy, I MIGHT go to Jellyrolls, (Which stays open until 2) or Sam’s (open until 1 I think?)

Sunday April 29: Epcot Dapper Day and FRIENDS GALORE!

I’m really looking forward to Sunday. I’m hoping to get up and over to Studios for it’s Extra Magic Hour, and hit it’s 4 rides being done by 9:30-ish (this is a truly non difficult thing to do over there at the moment…) I don’t feel the need to over indulge at the Launch Bay or do any of the shows, since I’ve done them all a few times, and I want to get to Epcot for Dapper Day festivities.

I have a 9:30 Frozen fast pass (PSYCHED!) so I don’t have to worry about rope dropping it, and I left my third open, (second was for Spaceship Earth) so that I can hopefully pick up Soarin’ after that. As y’all know, I prefer light scheduling for Epcot days since it’s a wander around and find your fun park (as opposed to Magic Kingdom, where I hyperventilate if my morning isn’t SUPER STRUCTURED because otherwise SO MANY LINES). I haven’t decided on my bound, I’m too fat for the dress I initially wanted to wear, the thing I put together instead looks a bit too casual, though is still very period and I’m waiting on a few pieces I ordered from Amazon as a third alternative, which isn’t a bound at all, just dapper. (I’m hanging out with Juli today, I’m sure she’ll help me decide)

BUT most excited of all for this day, my brother Mike and his girlfriend Megan are going to meet up with me here. They’ll be at a wedding in Sarasota on Saturday and were looking for something to do for the rest of the weekend, and this just sort of worked out. We’re also meeting up with our friend Nick and Jen and their kids (YAY! BABIES!) (Also Nick and Jen!) and Meg’s cousin. We’re doing a late-ish lunch at Biergarten (2PM) and an 8:15 PM drinks/desert/small plates at Spice Road Table (Though I’m continuing to look for Pub reservations throughout the week. MAYBE WE’LL GET LUCKY!) I’m excited for Biergarten, and Mama loves her Hummus fries so woo!

Because we’ll be with Mike, we’ll likely wind up back at Springs for the night festivities, as he feels about Raglan Road how I feel about Trader Sam’s. It’s his all time favorite Disney Spot. I haven’t done the pub properly, so I’m sure this will be super duper fun!

Monday April 30th: ANIMAL KINGDOM HOORAY!

Mike’s dying to go to Pandora and I’m never in a million years going to say no to time at Animal Kingdom, so that’s what we’re doing in the morning. My flight isn’t until 10 PM, where as Mike and Meg head out at 7, so I’ll have the late afternoon/early evening to myself and I’m torn between MORE ANIMAL KINGDOM, and Studios or Epcot or Springs, but I’ll play it by ear…I’ll definitely do a good meal, where to be determined, but hopefully somewhere new, around 6, before getting a Lyft to the airport around 7:30 or 8. (Suggestions welcome, someplace with bar/lounge seating preferred…just because solo dining…)

I’m excited for a lot of things this trip but mostly I’m excited to get bits of a solo trip and hang out and share new memories with people I care about. It’s the best of both worlds! Honestly, if I had one thing I would have changed about my November trip it would have been insisting on splitting off and doing my own thing a bit more (or changing my flights so I had some solo time…) just because I’m so used to doing things on my own in the parks that I bristled a bit at being on someone else’s time table the entire time.

Overall I’m excited to head back, and I love that this has sort of become my little welcome the good weather back tradition. (And that it happens to coincide with Dapper Day now is extra fun.) Seeing Epcot done up for Flower And Garden Festival is sooo lovely, it’s my favorite time of year there, aesthetically. (Though I haven’t done Festival Of The Arts…maybe next year…)

 

Merry Dapper Day: Hotel Review and Favorites

OK, so, the trip went really well, so it’s time, obviously, to talk about staying at Pop Century, and my favorites from the trip.

So, we stayed at Pop Century and it was pretty great. We were in the 80’s section in one of the newly renovated rooms. (We requested it. I also requested a top floor room, this was a mistake that I felt bad about the whole trip.)

The resort is great, huge, and well laid out, with a great food court, and a good gift shop. The new rooms though, are the real reason to stay here. (besides price, the price really is great.)

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The rooms feature a queen bed, and a queen sized murphy bed that when it’s folded into the wall is a small table for two. This allows for extra space when you’re not sleeping and a table is a great way to make that space also functional. The rooms also feature linoleum floors instead of carpet which also allows the room to look sleek and modern.

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Also there’s cool pop art of Mickey and Pluto.

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Given the choice, I’d spend the little bit extra to stay at Riverside, just because having a proper lobby bar rather than just the food court is something that’s important to me. But I was a tag a long this trip, so I happily tagged along and really enjoyed Pop!

Favorites:

Ride:

Fligth Of Passage holds on to the top spot, it’s so special and beautiful and amazing and wonderful. Runner up goes to Dumbo, which after 30 years on this earth I have finally ridden and really is quite magical.

Show:

This was a tough call between The Very Merry Christmas Parade and Festival Of The Lion King, and I think I have to stick with the parade. It’s a beautiful tribute to the Christmas spirit and the costumes are absolutely divine.

Meal:

Tusker House takes the cake, not just because of the characters. I loved the food and atmosphere and service too. Le Cellier was great, really, and I’m glad to have done it, but in the future, if I’m going to spend that money, I’d rather go back to Jiko or California Grill, or try one of the signature restaurants at a resort that I haven’t tried yet. (I still have to do both Narcoosee & Citricois, plus Artist Point and Flying Fish and Yachtsman Steakhouse.)

Drink:

This one does go to Le Cellier, the Coudoulet de Beaucastel Grenache Blend I drank with that dinner was divine. I’ve even passed the label and name on to the wine shop that I go to, so that they can keep an eye out for it and let me know if they order it. I know just enough about wine to know what I like and what pairs well with different meats, and this fit the “good with steak,” and “I like this,” bills quite well.

Snack:

Pongu Lumpia for the win! Sweet, tangy and a cool texture, this was for sure my favorite thing I ate the whole trip.

Special Bonus: Holiday Favorite

It was really cool to see the parks all done up in their Christmas finery, but I have to say that my favorite park Holiday decorations were at Studios. They fit with the Hollywood motif perfectly, and really make it look like something different for, ahem, that time of year.

Merry Dapper Day: 11/20/2017: “That Time Of Year”

If there’s one thing that I’ve done in this year of Disney that I do not every feel the need to do again, it is the 4 Park Day.

While very fun, these marathons are exhausting, and made more so by the discontinuing of the Express Bus Service. (Seriously, such a bummer that this isn’t a thing anymore.) If other people I’m with want to do it, I’ll nope out at lunch time and take a nap.

Anyway, all this to say, that I’m glad I did both of my 4 Park Days this year, but I am not doing it again for a very long time.

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So, we got up early, there was a 7 AM extra magic hour at Animal Kingdom, and we drove over. We were through the gates by 7:45 and on Kilamanjaro Safaris by 8. After the safari, (which went well, again, I don’t know that I’ll ever top February’s safari trip, but again, this one was very good.) and then did Gorilla Falls, before grabbing a fastpass picture and then driving to park at the TTC. (We planned on finishing the day at Magic Kingdom, so this made the most sense.) Then we caught the Monorail to Epcot, since we had some Fastpasses (and a burning desire for some Via Nappoli Pizza.) there. We rode Living With Land, then got on The Friendship Boat, and hit Italy, hoping for a walk up to Via Nappoli. We got a table in about 10 minutes (I always forget how fricking HUGE that restaurant is) and a pepperoni pie and a bellini made the whole day a little better. (I was feeling my hangover from the day before, LET ME TELL YOU!) We then backtracked to the Land pavillion again, to ride Soarin’ and followed that up with a ride on Imagination.

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Somewhere in there, we managed to take this picture.

I haven’t done either Living With The Land or Imagination since I was kid and they were fun to revisit. Living With The Land is super relaxing and the tour of the Greenhouses is really cool, and honestly, who doesn’t simply adore Figment?

After that we worked our way to the back exit, took a Friendship Boat to the Yacht and Beach Club to check out the Gingerbread Carousel. Juli’s always said that The Boardwalk is her dream resort, where as I lean more Yacht & Beach, and I think after catching a glimpse of Storm A Long Bay, I’ve brought her over to my point of view. (STEP INTO MY WEB!) We then got back on the boat, and headed to Studios.

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Because of lines, we opted out of any of the rides there, but did catch Muppets 3-D, For The First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing A Long, (which featured a special ending with “That Time Of Year” and “When We’re Together” from Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.) We also hung out on Sunset Boulevard and watched the projection show “Sunset Season’s Greetings” which goes onto the Tower of Terror. It’s a really cute show, and I especially appreciated that one of the segments is based around “Mickey’s Christmas Carol,” which has always been my favorite version of that story.

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We settled in for Fantasmic after that, and golly, what a good show that is! I haven’t seen it in a while, but it’s Juli’s favorite, so we were definitely not skipping it. We managed to see the actual fireworks from “Jingle Bell Jingle Bam” while we waited, as well as the finale of Illuminations! (Pretty cool stuff!)

Fantasmic really is great though, it’s sweet, and an excellent use of characters and has some great music in it. The five minute long Pocohontas section is a little bit dated. (I mean, I’m just saying it wouldn’t be hard to say, switch that up to be about a young Polynesian girl wondering how far she’ll go…) But otherwise, this is a stone cold classic.

Our final stop was Magic Kingdom, where we arrived just as the lights were dimming for “Happily Ever After.” Our plans were all Fantasyland based, so we saw the fireworks, but not the projection show. (Still really good.)

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Also, got these cool pics with the fireworks in them!

We rode Under The Sea, and then Dom wanted to check out Winnie The Pooh. I’m not a huge fan of that ride, and was wearing my Rapunzel Disneybound, so I went to meet up with Punzie herself (and my girl Tiana!)

As I talked about my “best day ever” with Rapunzel, I thought about how lucky I’ve been this year, to share my favorite place with so many people I love so much, and how happy I am to have made these little touchstones for myself.

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Chatting with Rapunzel = My favorite thing to do on trips. For serious.

Juli, Dom and I met up altogether at the latern photo spot by Rapunzel’s tower, and then we headed out to get to the TTC and then home.

The lines for both the monorail and the ferry were bonkers, so we walked to the contemporary and took the monorail from there. Once we got back to the hotel, we all quickly crashed out.

Our final day might have been my favorite…I’ll get into why when I talk about it tomorrow! (Yes, I’m burning through these write ups…I had to do something to distract myself during the boring/terrible parts of the prequels…so you know…most of the prequels…)

Merry Dapper Day Trip: 11/19/2017: “Dapper World Travel”

Crazy early rope dropping is crazy. Normal things kick off at 9 AM rope dropping…way better. Which made our Sunday much easier than our Saturday.

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It was Dapper Day at Epcot, all three of us were bounding as Inside out Characters. Juli as Disgust, Dom as Anger and me as Fear. Our first stop was obviously the Character Spot to meet Joy and Sadness. It worked out perfectly, we were the first ones in the door and our friends were just so happy to see us.

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Our next stop was Test Track, which because of the speedy Joy and Sadness meet, we waited 20 minutes for. (HOORAY! I ❤ Rope Drop!) And then thanks to Dom, we crushed all of our tests (except efficiency, which you know, fine.)

Our next stop was Spaceship Earth, and I mean, you all know how I feel about Spaceship Earth, but this ride was, well, rough. It’s normally a 20 minute experience and due to breakdowns in every single room it took about an hour. It may have even cured me of my love for it. (Not really, but I mean, maybe.)

After that we had a fast pass for Character Spot, which again, is on my top 10 character meets. It’s just a lot of fun, and you get the classic looks for the characters.

At last, we decided to begin our trip around the world, where we would eat, drink and be holiday merry! Juli wanted to do the Chip and Dale Oranament Scavenger Hunt, which wound up being a great deal of fun! Our first stop was Mexico, which meant, of course! Margaritas!

I decided to skip La Cava (I know, blasphemy!) And to check out the new tequila stand, La Choza. I went for the classic lime frozen Margarita which was delicious and refreshing. We also ate a couple of snacks from the holiday kitchen, and then shopped in the pavilion, and rode La Fiesta Tour! (I still think that ride has some weird racial elements, but everyone else tells me I’m nuts, so you know, whatever.)

Then came Norway, where we had a fastpass for Frozen Ever After. I still love it. I will always love it. Post ride, we split a beer and got some pastries at Kringla, and HOLY CRAP am I planning on doing that every time from now on. Everything was sensationally yummy, not too sweet and delicious.

China netted another beer, some pot stickers and egg rolls, and a wander through the exhibit on Shanghai Disneyland. Someday I will attempt the Asian parks, though Disneyland Paris seems way more likely this half decade. (I have some vague Europe plans, that include Paris, and well, it’s something I’d like to do for a day…) then Germany, (beer and cheese fondue…) then Italy, (Rose Regale), American Adventure, where we not only chowed down on turkey and stuffing (and a citrusy wheat beer,) but we shopped and I bought some mega cute Mason Jar Glasses featuring Huey, Dewey and Louie enjoying New York and New Jersey.

In Japan, we skipped drinking or eating (nothing really appealed) and just wandered around Mitsokoshi.

Morocco brought more wandering through the market place (and Sangria) followed by a bit of Bouche De Noel, (and Kir Royale) in France, plus some more shopping. We reached the UK, and I demanded a Snake Bite! Juli wanted tea, so we got that too, and again, our search for Chip and Dale lead us through the shops.

Finally we got to Canada, and decided to check in for dinner early. The desk actually advised against it, and we instead found out way to the front of the park to take some pictures. I love a picture of Spaceship Earth at night and honestly, I think this picture of the three of us in front of the Epcot Christmas Tree is one of the best we took.

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During this, we squared with the fact that we just might miss Illuminations. I was bummer, but excited to try the new restaurant, which was, once we checked in, truly great. We ate the Cheddar Cheese soup (natch) and a special Poutine only available to Annual Pass Holders (Woo hoo! That decision paid off again!) and then split the Porterhouse for 2 among the three of us. (It was more than enough!) We were finished by 8:50, and the meal was well paced, but not super rushed, and able to find spots right on the railing for Illuminations.

I love this show, and everytime I’ve seen it this year, I’ve remembered that it may be the last time, and I’ve cried. This time, I held it together, until, well, until the end. After the normal finale, there was a very special Holiday Tag, which aside from being a lovely blue color scheme, is soundtracked by a children’s choir singing “Let There Be Peace On Earth.”

So, I was basically a puddle.

After that, we strolled to the Boardwalk and over to Jellyrolls. A few beers, and a lot of fun (though more mellow than the usual brand I’ve had there) later, we decided to hop in a Lyft and head back to the hotel.

Ummm, with a Lyft driver, I will only describe as eccentric, (who didn’t use GPS, God help us) we all did out best to get through the ride without bursting into giggles. The giggles came, once we exited and headed back to the room.

We were in bed well before midnight, ready for our 4 park day, the next day…stay tuned!

Merry Dapper Day Disney Trip Preview

Hey all! So, this time next week, I’ll be in the air about half way to Disney World, for what I’ve decided to call the “Merry Dapper Day” trip, as the main focuses of the trip are going to be Christmas celebrations, and Dapper Day.

This is a basic overview of what I think the trip will look like (obviously, I mean, obviously things often take on their own life.) and honestly, I’m going to try, (SO SO HARD) to not get caught up in the details of things and go with the flow. I’m much more of a passenger on this trip. Juli did most of the planning, (with input, of course! She’s a doll!) And if you want more detailed talk about our plans, you should check out her blog. (You should check it out anyway, because Juli is great and her writing is fun!)

Anyway, here’s the broadstrokes, be sure to check out Facebook, for live videos and pictures throughout the week!

Friday 11/17:

I’m on a 10AM flight, expected to land at MCO by 1-ish, which means I’ll be to Pop Century, by 3, hopefully earlier, but you know Magical Express, I’ve literally had 2 hours each time I’ve used it. Juli and Dom will have already arrived, and then we’ll be off to Magic Kingdom, for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

There are Disney Bound and ride plans in place as well as a few Fastpasses for before the party and I’m really excited about this. I’ve wanted to see the snow on Main Street for years, can’t wait to compare notes with the Halloween Party, and of course, to possibly meet a certain Scottish billionaire duck, who’s going to be in attendance. (I’m speaking of Flintheart Glomgold…natch…He has a kilt McDuck! A KILT!) (I’m kidding, I mean Scrooge.)

The party goes until midnight. So that will be that.

Saturday 11/18:

Magic Kingdom Dapper Day! So there are a few things happening here, it’s our Magic Kingdom Dapper Day, and also, Magic Kingdom is open from 8 AM to Midnight….that’s a long day. Obviously, I will attempt to be totally mellow and NOT demand that we arrive to the park by 7:15 so we can enjoy Main Street and line up before opening.

I make no promises that I will succeed in this, but I’m gonna TRY.

I’m really excited to be back in the Kingdom with Juli, and to see Happily Ever After! We have Fastpasses for morning and afternoon, no dining reservations. (I am trying hard to not hyperventilate at this.) And also, the park is open until midnight, so there’s a good hour and half of post fireworks time (my FAVORITE time in the parks).

Sunday 11/19:

Epcot Dapper Day. Plans include, photos in front of colored walls, I bet. Spaceship Earth, drinking around the world, Frozen Ever After, Holidays around the world, and dinner at Le Cellier, before of course, Illuminations.

This is a more normal park houred day of 9-9, which leaves a deep likelyhood of an evening at Jellyrolls…mostly, I’m happy for light scheduling on Epcot days, because World Showcase doesn’t lend itself to tight schedules. For example had I scheduled by last Dapper Epcot Day, I’d never have wound up doing the Great Princess Hunt of 2017, which was a really fun way to spend that day.

This day also includes one of our only two scheduled ADRs, because, it’s Le Cellier. Juli and I skipped it our last trip for a few reasons (Food and Wine, and we ate at 3 other signature restaurants that trip!) and I’m very excited to finally eat there.

Monday 11/20:

FOUR PARK DAY!

We’re starting at Animal Kingdom, Heading to Magic Kingdom, (though now with MK being open to midnight, this may shift!) then Epcot, then finishing out the evening at Studios.

I’m not entirely sure what the plan is for the evening, because we may go over to Magic Kingdom AFTER Studios closes rather than in the morning, but I know early on there was Monorail Bar Crawl talk. (I always stomp for Monorail Bar Crawl!) Or, Disney Springs, where I know Juli and Dom are spending Friday morning, is also always an option.

Tuesday 11/21:

This is our big Animal Kingdom day! I heart Animal Kingdom and I’m SO SO SO SO excited to have a whole planned day there. Since we’ll have already done the Safari, there’s not going to be much difficulty in heading right to Pandora, where we’ve got a Flight Of Passage fastpass for 9:10, so we can rope drop Na’Vi River Journey, and then head right there.

We have a reservation at Tusker House at 10:45, so we’ll get some character fun in, and we’ll try a restaurant we haven’t before. (I haven’t done a character meal since I was 12, so I’m also excited for that!) But our other fastpasses aren’t until way later in the day (one for Everest, and the other for the second show of Rivers of Light), so it gives us lots of time to just BE IN ANIMAL KINGDOM, which, I’ve only really ever done on solo trips.

I’d love to give my Drink Through the Jungle plan a shot, or finally sit down for Festival of The Lion King, or even just chillax at Nomad Lounge for ages. I can’t wait to see Pandora after dark, walk the Maharajah & Gorilla Falls trails, and, like I said, just wander generally.

Wednesday 11/22:

My flight home is at 9:42 in the morning. My ME will likely be sometime around 6 AM. I will probably not us ME for the return trip. A Lyft at 7 AM ought to do the trick. I am anticipating being delayed anywhere from 1 to 6 hours, as it’s not only my luck trying to get home from Disney World, but the day before Thanksgiving. (I’m also using a car service to and from the airport because when I knew better than to ask any of my family to pick me up from JFK on the day before Thanksgiving.)

I’m really excited to get there! I’m really really excited to be there with my friends, especially, to hit some of the stuff that ignited my love of Disney Vacations with Juli. Since we got home 2 years ago I’ve been in a constant state of Disney planning and it’s been incredible.