Friday, March 24, 2017

Anniversary Trip - Day 8

Headed Home

Today is bittersweet. There is still fun to be had, but it ends with us leaving :(

We spent the morning getting all packed up. And took until 11 am (checkout time) to finish up.
We still had money on our arcade card, so we hit it one last time.

Then we drove to Epcot for the last fastpass we had pre scheduled.
Frozen, Ever After.

I still hadn't had my traditional Epcot treat of Schoolbread in Norway. So I grabbed one and the rest of the clan ran back to Mexico to ride 3 Cab, one more time.

Then we walked World Showcase. Landing in France to stand in the longest line for food of the trip. Hubby and I got lunch items and the kids got more snacky things.

Now the kids need real food... so we went to Sunshine Seasons at the land and got them lunch.
Our last ride of the day is Spaceship Earth and now we leave.

Sadness has fallen on the land :(
But we managed.
Our flight was mostly uneventful. Some good turbulence along the way and a few too many trips to the restroom for someone sitting by the window.. we won't name names.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Anniversary Trip - Day 7 otherwise known as Our Anniversary!!!

It just seems wrong to get up super early on an anniversary, so we slept in a bit.
We are all solidly on Florida time at this point, so we aren't sleeping in crazy late.

We had planned to spend the whole day in the Magic Kingdom today, and as it's the hardest park to drive to, we are taking the bus.
Our bus stop has what time the buses will arrive posted, which is a great help in waiting for the bus,  except for when the times change... making the bus later :( WDW traffic apparently.

The pin on his hat says "Happily Ever After" and the cast member wrote "20 ears"
Very cute :) Him and the pin ;) 

Watching for the bus. 

But we made it to the MK without any trouble and our first Fastpass of the day was for Peter Pan.
We front loaded our three fast passes early in the day, so we could get more as the day went on.. this worked very well for us.

Next up 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. I didn't go on this one - Its a great ride, but I was pretty picky - trying to keep my pain at bay. And I learned earlier in the week that roller coasters aren't great for my pain. Yes, Lots of fun, but today, I wanted to last all day.

I met the miners at Pinocchio's Village house for lunch.
It has been a few trips since we last ate here. They have it very well staffed, which helps with the chaos of lunch at a counter service.

Now, we had time before our Jungle Cruise Fastpass, so we talked the kids into the Tiki Room. Yup, they have never been... I don't know how it happened, but today we fixed it.
Our reluctant young man wasn't thrilled about this, but he grumbled on and we ended up enjoying the show.
Then we left the show to find it was pouring down rain! WHAT? The kids were sure the rain in the Tiki Room show was fake and now to find out the same thing was actually happening... they were a little surprised.
And with Florida rain... sometimes you get lighting. And with lightning, all water-related rides stop until 30 minutes after the last lightning is seen. So, no Jungle Cruise - and this was a HUGE frustration for our young man.
The nice thing Disney does when your fastpass can't be used, is convert it into a flexible fast pass, so it's good on any ride any time [For the rest of the day in that park].
We decided to save ours until the Jungle Cruise could come back, and try to get a new fast pass for something else.
While hubby was getting us Small World fastpasses, we enjoyed a mid day treat in Liberty Square... in the rain. He and I split a waffle with strawberries and the kids had cookie Ice Cream sandwiches. It had mostly stopped raining, but come on, we are from the great Northwest. If we can't handle a little water, that would be soo sad ;)

We spent the rest of our day on rides, with hubby getting us 10 fastpasses over the course of the day. Which I think qualifies him for some sort of expert status. [Editor's note: Yes, yes it does... See proof below]

Fastpasses and reservations for the day (Click to see larger)

We decided to have dinner at the Kona Cafe at the Poly. So early evening the young man and I headed towards the resort monorail. Thinking we would explore the Contemporary and the Poly, while hubby and daughter saw another Muppets "Great moments in History" and then joined us.

We met back up on the monorail to the Poly and had a great dinner at Kona.
After that we rode the monorail back to the Magic Kingdom and enjoyed some more rides before calling it quits.

My goal was to get out before fireworks. I had been on one insanely crowded bus an evening earlier in the week and really didn't want to end our day in that same sitution. So, we skipped the new Rapunzel Photopass, and tried to get out of the park before the fireworks started.
Which we did. But at this point in the evening, the buses seem to wait for the show to end before they roll. So we were on a packed bus, luckily we all had seats :)

It was a great day. I can't believe how many fast passes we got!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Anniversary Trip - Day 6

Family Portrait Day!

Part of our family tradition is to get a family portrait taken every five years. We try to do it around our anniversary and this year we were excited to try the Disney Fine Art Photography Service. 
We were scheduled to meet our photography team at 9 am at the International Gateway entrance to Epcot, as we had scheduled out session to be in Epcot World Showcase.
Well, we were running late.
Our spectacular kids have an amazing talent for slowing down in the tiniest ways we we are on a tight clock - Ugh. Our goal was to be there at 8:45 to meet our team and have a few minutes to talk before we started.
We were still in the car at 8:45 am. But by 9 am we were going through the gates at the International Gateway.... but our team was no where to be found.
Hubby ran to get a wheel chair and I asked a cast member, if she could suggest where to wait - which she did. We had the chair and then spotted the team coming back from finishing with another portrait session.
They spotted us right away and we were off to Germany and Italy area of World Showcase for what turned out to be a fun hour.
We took a large assortment of shots all over those two countries. With fun architecture and Spaceship Earth, we are excited to see how they all turned out.

After that, we had fastpasses for Test Track, which both kids were soo excited about. But the ride was down, which they were not excited about. We decided to grab a snack and evaluate our options.
While noshing on our food the ride opened and we were back on track... get it? Test Track... track?

Anyway.... from there we rode Mission Space again and the kids and hubby went on Ellen's Energy Adveture again. We all rode Spaceship Earth once more and then headed back out the International Gateway to have lunch in the room.

A little bit of lazy time in the quiet of our room is called for this afternoon. Granted hubby an our little lady did run over to Animal Kingdom for one more ride on Kali River Rapids. But beyond that, we relaxed in the room 'til the evening.

Our evening activity was scheduled to be BOWLING!
DVC has a couple of member exclusive events each week. We haven't really joined in in the past, but this year we are checking more out. So we reserved spots at DVC Members' Night at Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Disney Springs (Formerly Downtown Disney).

Having really no idea what to expect we made sure we all had socks and headed to the lanes.
Upon arriving we were directed upstairs to check in. The check in area had lots of blue and white balloons and a "Welcome Home" sign, so we knew we were in the right place.
The staff couldn't have been more helpful. They set us up with our own lane, gave us all DVC socks (cause that is an obvious gift) and shoes and before long our server had joined us.
He told us the general plan, 2 hours of bowling, two appetizers for the group and one entree per person, but all the coke freestyle you could drink.
Getting started was a little bit of chaos, as we were trying to get shoes on, bowl, look at the menu and take it all in. I finally had to stop everyone and say, lets get drinks and look at the menu before anyone picks up another ball.


Some of the pictures are a little blurry, but still fun - so I used them.
I can say that is was a trip highlight for all four of us.
We had a blast and will definitely do it again.

The food was plentiful, next time we won't have much for lunch so we have more room ;)
And the staff was amazing. Our talented kids managed to get bowling balls stuck in some unique ways... bumpers were up, but somehow the ball got stuck behind them? But our server, said "No problem, happens all the time" and expertly retrieved them... every time. Yup, it happened more than once - they are crazy talented ;) [Editor's note: At the end, as he needed to retrieve one more ball, he said "Happens all the time... however, this may be a record for a single family." We tipped him well though.]

We left lanes and decided to go back to the room instead of wandering around Disney Springs.
I think during the day I would enjoy the stroll, but at night the Springs come alive with people everywhere... and despite our rousing game of bowling, I was not up for fighting the crowds or noise.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Anniversary Trip - Day 5: Sleeping in = Long lines

At some-point late last night I had the brilliant idea to not set an alarm. We could sleep in and just go into the park when we are ready.. no rush, no fuss.
Ah, the best laid plans.

With that we probably got to the park 30 - 40 minutes later than we would have if we had set an alarm.
We had 3 fastpasses for Animal Kingdom today.
Late morning on Primeval Whirl, Early Evening Safari ride and the new nighttime show, Rivers Of Light.
But apparently a safari ride first thing is a tradition for our young man. The reality of this schedule change hit him hard and he begged, pleaded, etc. to go on the Safari.
I used the tired and true logic of "the wait is 55 minutes, you don't want to wait almost an hour, do you?"
He said YES.
What? you want to wait an hour for this ride and then go again tonight?
You will willingly, happily, stand in line with a hundred strangers for an hour?
This logic worked perfectly on our sweet girl. She wanted nothing to do with a 55 minute wait. She and Hubby decided to go explore while our determined young man and I settled into a line that turned out to be more like 80 minutes.
He had a few brief moments of impatience, but in general he kept his word. I love this ride, so it wasn't too big a deal for me to wait.
And the pay off was wonderful. Great assortment of animals to be seen. It's still my favorite ride in the park.

After we safari'ed we went to our first fast pass of the day - Primeval Whirl.
At this point, it was already lunch time... where does the day go?
We tried Pizzafari again. It's a little different every time we go. More flatbreads than pizzas this year. And I enjoyed the Orange Lemonade.
We popped into the Starbucks after lunch on the way to check in for the Express bus to the Magic Kingdom.
In my (limited) experience, this location has shorter lines than the Epcot or Magic Kingdom location.
Iced coffee in hand we took the Express bus to the Magic Kingdom.

Now, we have NO fastpasses or options for fastpasses during our time at the Magic Kingdom, so all our choices need to be short lines or shows with no real lines.
PeopleMovers was our first choice.. but it was closed. So we hit the Carousel of Progress to start.
By the time we were done, the People Movers was back online. Yay!
From here I wandered to main street to shop a bit and the rest of the family went to the Laugh Floor. We met up at the Train Station and enjoyed a ride around the park.
Since we were at the front of the park, we grabbed a wheelchair and rolled out to Adventureland for something cold.

The parade! Looks like the dragon actually breathes fire!!!! 

Rolling around the park :)

We enjoyed an assortment of cold treats and Hubby and our Sweet Girl got to see another show of the Muppets present Great Moments in History.

At this point we decided to go back to the Animal Kingdom.
Again the Express bus service is great. We were back at the Animal Kingdom in record time.
Hubby and our sweet girl have been watching the time on Kali River Rapids all day, hoping to catch a ride on it... at this point is open, but 70 minutes - nope, too long.
So we picked up some food from booths and flametree before our Safari time.
The evening safari was even better than the morning one.
Our driver was FANTASTIC and we saw a great number of animals including animals that were not out this morning.

Now on to Rivers of Light.
We heard that the standby line for the early show was standing room only [45 minutes before showtime] - we were glad we decided to use one of our FastPasses on this.
The show was nice. Fun and interesting. Good music, nice water effects and a nice length. We enjoyed it.

While we waited for the show to start hubby found some fastpasses for Kali after the show. So when the show ended we split up - son and I took the bus back to the hotel and the adventurous ones went to ride Kali... apparently 3 times! [Editor's note: Turns out that at that time of night, Fastpasses were unnecessary since there were literally 3 people in front of us after we walked through the empty line. The cast member was telling people they could turn around and get back in line without having to walk through the whole thing. We did that for our second ride. On the second ride, however, we ended up with a large group and at the end of that ride, the group asked if they could stay on. The case member said sure, and my "OK, we can go again, but this is the last time" after the first ride became an "OK, one more time, but this is REALLY the last time..." as it was already around 9:30PM]

Todays post was a lot of... then we rode this and next we rode that. I am not sure that is all that interesting.... So I may mix it up a bit tomorrow and do highlights or stats. We will just wait and see how things go. Ok? Good.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Anniversary Trip - Day 4

I think this is our earliest morning of the trip... [Well, other than arriving in Orlando at 5:45AM] and it felt sooooo early.
We had 8:10 am breakfast reservations at Garden Grill in Epcot.

Hot Air Balloons out this morning... we saw 5 total :)

Sun is coming up!

Walking to breakfast

When we got to Epcot they had a whole separate (and surprisingly long) line, just for people who have breakfast reservations before the park opens. I am not positive, but I think 8:10 might have been the earliest time option.
Once at the Garden Grill, we waited a few minutes before being seated in an outside facing booth on the lower level. (the restaurant rotates, so this is the ideal spot).
Breakfast is served family style and was a great selection for our group. We swapped the meats for veggie meat and couldn't be happier with it.
While we ate, Chip, Dale, Pluto and Farmer Mickey stopped by to say HI.

We were just signing the check when Mickey came... perfect timing.

After breakfast we walked on to the Living with the Land ride and then had a few minute wait before our Soarin' fastpass.
I thoroughly enjoyed the new Soarin' film. Our location on the ride wasn't idea for perspective, but we got the gist of it. I look forward to next time.
Our sweet girl and I watched the Circle of Life Film while hubby and our son went to grab a wheelchair.
Then we all hit Journey Into Imagination.

It was almost time for World Showcase to open so we decided to go wait for the Circlevision in Canada.

After Mr. Short shared "his Canada" with us, we buzzed over to Japan.
Yup, we walked right past England, France and Morocco and went straight to Japan.
I have always wanted to do the Pick-a-Pearl thing in Japan, but never could either work up the nerve or justify it. I don't wear jewelry beyond my wedding ring and didn't know what I would do with a pearl if it wasn't in or on something.
But being our 20th Anniversary, I decided I wanted to pick a pearl and put it in a little ring. I had heard it gets really crazy, but going early is the best bet - So we temporarily skipped a few countries.
The process was soo fun. The cast members in Japan really make it festive. I had read to pick the ugliest oyster you can find... so the kids and I looked  and I settled on one that seemed a bit uglier than the rest. The cast member pulled it out of the water and taught us how to count down in Japanese. Three, two, one.... pearl. She opened it and found a beautiful pearl!
Amazing. How does something so sweet and lovely come out of something soo weird looking... I suppose its a good life lesson.
Anyway. I picked a setting and they would put it all together for me... we just needed to come back later to pick it up.

Ok, now back to France and our World Showcase touring. Our young man and I went to the France film and Hubby and our little lady explored a bit - found an egg from the Epcot egg hunt and started on a ice cream treat.
We found them after the movie and had a little ice cream ourselves - well, maybe more than a little!

Don't you love how they display the ice cream!?!

This is an Ice Cream Sandwich... meaning it's two pieces of Brioche with a scoop of Ice Cream in the middle and some chocolate sauce that was then put in a sandwich press... so the edges are sealed and the bread is toasty.... OH DEAR ME! 

We can't miss the American Adventure when we are here, so that was on our schedule with a light lunch. Hubby and I shared an entree.
Then we buzzed back to Japan to pick up the ring.

By now we were fairly invested in finding all the eggs. So Italy, Germany, the outpost and China... Eggs found!
As well as Norway and Mexico.
While in Mexico we rode the Three Caballeros.
Wrapping up our day, we took a spin on Mission Space (actually we do the green ride.. so no spinning) before returning the chair and heading home.

Tonight, dinner in the room. It was nice to have a quiet meal. During dinner we planned out the rest of our in-room meals for the week and decided to go to the grocery store.
So we all went to the local SuperTarget to stock up on breakfast, bottled water and assorted food.
When we got back, the kids talked hubby into taking them down to the arcade before bedtime.

What a fun day!