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Thread: Savvy’s (Belated) Family Trip, September 10-17, 2016, Yacht Club

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    Savvy’s (Belated) Family Trip, September 10-17, 2016, Yacht Club

    Hello all! Its been a very, very long time since I last posted a report, almost two years I think. Though I spent all this time writing this report last year, I never actually got it posted here. Ive made TWO trips since then, one disastrous weekend in January for the canceled Half Marathon, and another wonderful week in May with my boyfriend. I dont have reports for either, but included brief summaries at the end of this. And while this report is old, I figured it was finally time to get it up. Enjoy!

    Savvy's Annual September Trip

    DATES: 9/10/-16-9/17/16
    TRAVEL: EWR to MCO, Magical Express
    RESORT: Yacht Club
    PARTY: Immediate family, all with 25+ trips
    Me (28)
    Sis (25)
    Mom and Dad (53) - My parents
    HIGHLIGHTS: MNSSHP

    So wow, a lot has changed since my last report from November 2015. Those of you who read that might recall I had just ended a very long relationship and was feeling pretty down on life. Since then, I've purchased my first home, am halfway toward a Master's degree, and went through three months of online dating before meeting a wonderful, sweet guy who is basically the boy version of myself. That's been going strong for over eight months (present day: sixteen months), and I've never been happier. Which means this will be a much less mopey read for all of you.

    On another happy note, Sis's boyfriend proposed this summer. That means in 2018 I'll have a smashing good Disney wedding trip report for you. I'm so excited for my first Disney wedding, not to mention I get to live vicariously through her experience without spending the stress or money myself.

    As for this week's trip, this is just a low-key, immediate-family-only trip, which we haven't had in a long while. No races, no big events except MNSSHP. Unfortunately I do have to bring my laptop with me and do a little bit of schoolwork, but nothing too crazy.

    Days 0 and 1 - Stroop Waffles and Hippos in the Trees

    We cut back a day from our normal vacation this year, which meant leaving on Saturday instead of Friday. I stayed at my boyfriend's house (whom shall be henceforth known as JF, for trip report purposes), since he lives much closer to my dog's kennel. That meant saying goodbye to both of my boys in one shot. Leaving my dog was a little easier, considering the kennel is really more of a fancy dog hotel. He never even looks back when I drop him off, the little stinker. (In truth, this is much better than leaving our family dog, who gets so upset going there that she needs to be medicated the whole time.)

    I went for a quick oil change after dropping him off, put in a full day of work, stopped at home to grab my suitcase, and arrived at my parents' house shortly after 8. I was up bright and early to have the dog at the kennel by 7 am, so I hoped I'd fall asleep easier than I normally do the night before vacation. I chatted with JF on the phone for a while and called it lights out around 10. I had a good sleep and felt ok when the alarm went off at 3:30. Naturally, I was the last one out of bed even though we had another hour before leaving for the airport. After a quick rinse in the shower and last minute suitcase shuffle, I was ready to go by 4:10. I was literally reaching to shut off the light in the guest room when I heard a pop, and all the lights went out. Mom, who is still traumatized by the two weeks of darkness we lived in after Hurricane Sandy, was a little flustered downstairs. By the time I made my way down there without breaking my neck on the stairs, Dad was coming back in from loading up the car and said a transformer had blown. The problem now was that several lights and TV sets had been on, not to mention we couldnt set the house alarm. That meant making a pit stop to drop a house key with a family friend who would come by later to turn everything back off.

    Our drive to Newark was quick, and thanks to Dad travelling all the time, we had been selected for TSA pre-approval. Let me tell you, that is the best thing ever. I have no idea if you can pay for that service (I doubt it), but I would shell out a lot for that. The lines were enormous at 5 am this morning, and we saved a lot of time bypassing them. Once in the terminal, I spent a very long time walking around the little food court trying to find a semi-healthy breakfast. I really hate all the crap they sell now. The court used to house a Dunkin’, McDonald’s, and several other good options. Now it's all no-name kiosks and either really bad junk food or health food to the extreme. I settled for half a bagel with peanut butter, like I always do.

    Dad's status got us into boarding group 2 and himself into first class; he was doing a little dance down the walkway as we got on board. Mom, Sis, and I had seats together in bulkhead, which was nice, but at 4'11", airline legroom is one thing that’s never been a problem for me. We paid our $5 or whatever it is for the Direct TV and were served this delightful little thing called a stroop waffle, a caramel-filled cookie that you let sit on top of your coffee to get the caramel all melty inside. (I'm easily amused.) I read a chapter of my homework until the movies started playing, then watched Captain America: Civil War. Our flight was so quick I never got to the ending. But I date a super hero nerd now (I term I use lovingly, by the way), so I've seen it before.

    We had to wait a few minutes for a Magical Express bus and spent a good amount of time stopped at Caribbean Beach. After a quick stop at Boardwalk, we were finally dropped off at Yacht Club. Dad performed his ritual bargaining for an upgraded room (which failed), we changed, checked our bags with the hotel, and hopped on a Magic Kingdom bus. The weather was gorgeous this morning but heated up quite a bit by noon. The park itself was all decked out for Halloween and really not crowded, with pretty low wait times for everything. This is one of the perks of coming this time of year, when all the kids are just back in school.

    Since the train had been down for refurbishment on our last visit, we rode that to Fantasyland and went looking for food. Someone suggested Pinocchio’s since we're not happy with the new menu at Pecos Bills, and we went with that. Dad devoured a chicken parm sandwich, while Mom, Sis, and I split some caprese flatbreads, which were really very good. Two breads were too much though. We finished just in time to use our FP's on Buzz, which stopped for a solid minute, allowing me to nail the volcano so many times that my score topped out at 999,999. Dad was a little pouty about that.

    Thanks to the now endangered Disney parks music apps, Sis is obsessed with "It's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow." So after a quick ride on the People Mover, we had our first ride ever on the Carousel of Progress. It was a nice break and interesting to experience a true "Walt original," but I think we can count this as one and done. We had Haunted Mansion FP's after that, but the ride was shut down, so we watched a show in the Tiki Room and swapped the FP's out to get onto Pirates. HM was back up afterward but had a huge line, so we walked around the Main Street stores instead. It was a little sad to see so many stores closed and others "selling out" to brand names, like the Pandora store. Im not even getting back up on my Starbucks soap box again.

    Sis and I desperately wanted to visit Trader Sam's before dinner at 'Ohana, so we left the park and took the next monorail, making a quick stop at the Contemporary to browse the gift shops. We made it to the Polynesian around 3:30 and went straight for the grotto, where we were the second group of the day to get our buzzer. By the time 4 pm rolled around, the hallway was packed with people. We were indeed second to be called in and got a good table under the volcano. I had a hard time deciding what I wanted, and felt a little pressured when the bartender came back after only a minute when I asked for more time. So, I chickened out and ordered white wine. We ended up ordering two rounds each and had a really fun time. There were a lot of hippos in the trees that night.

    Dinner at 'Ohana was fabulous as usual. I do not like coconut or pineapple, but despite having both, the bread pudding here is easily one of the top ten desserts I've ever had. And I eat a lot of dessert. After dinner, Mom and Sis were still going strong and stayed at the Poly to catch a Disney Springs bus. Dad and I took the monorail back to MK and transferred to a Yacht Club bus. The room text thing never seems to work for us, and today was no exception: Dad had gotten three texts today with all different room numbers, so we stopped at the front desk to figure out which one it really was. We retrieved our checked bags, rode up to the third floor, found our room, and...magic bands don't work. What a surprise. I won noses and stayed with the bags while Dad took the bands downstairs. Once he was back and we were inside, I saw we actually had a very nice view of the quiet pool. The room itself wasn't a far walk either, which was much better than last year when we were all the way down by the Dolphin.

    Dad got in bed and watched TV. I made a call to JF out on the balcony, claimed my side of the bed I would share with Sis, updated the report, and went to sleep. I heard Mom and Sis come back less than an hour later.

    Day 2 - Chocolate Swan Cream Puff, Marry Me?

    I was the first one up around 6:30. It must have just been my body's internal clock because the curtains really blacked the room out; I would have just as easily thought it was 3 am. I texted JF good morning since he'd be getting up for work, taped up my knees, and dressed quietly in the bathroom. Everyone was still asleep when I slipped out at 7 to go for my run. I know I'm on vacation and should sleep in and all, but running around the Boardwalk and Hollywood Studios walkway is one of my favorite parts of vacationing here. (Might be more of a "was one of my favorites" as of today, but that's another story.) It was beautiful out this morning, and lots of other runners were out as well. My foot complained the first half of the run but quieted down by the time I got to HS, which must have been hosting EMH because it was packed with people waiting to get in.

    My family was getting ready to head to the Boardwalk for breakfast when I got back, so I took a quick shower and joined them. Dad got a seat outside while the three of us got in line at the bakery. I thought it was kind of stupid that everyone waits in the same line to pay, regardless if you're grabbing something from the fridge case or ordering a breakfast sandwich. I was hoping to get cereal with hard boiled eggs like they usually have at Beach Club, but no go. Instead the CM offered to put egg whites on a bagel for me, which I got with coffee.

    Mom split off after breakfast to take a walk while Sis, Dad, and I went back to change for the pool. The two of them went down when it opened at 9:30; I stayed behind to finish my coffee and Facetime JF until Mom got back. I waited for her to change so we could go down to Stormalong Bay together. Even though it's still really hot this time of year, the water is perfect, so I did a good amount of swimming and sat in the hot tub for a while. Around lunch time, Mom, Dad, and I went to Beaches and Cream to split a sundae. Sis got her anxiously-awaited Grasshopper, a Guinness float with mint ice cream that's relatively new to the menu. I think that's gross, but ok. She loved it.

    We went back up to shower and change, then walked over to Epcot. Today was 9/11 so we anticipated extra security, which was indeed the case both today and the rest of the trip. My bag was searched from top to bottom, everything opened, unzipped, unpacked, and everyone walked through a metal detector as well. I totally get the need for it, but I also got to the point where I stopped bothering with a backpack later in the trip to save myself a few minutes.

    After a quick spin around World Showcase, we had late lunch reservations at Chefs de France. I was a little disappointed to see the menu had changed since we last came, as I remember having a really good sandwich last time. Dad and Sis got pre-fix options, Mom got a soup/salad combo, and I ordered a seafood broth with shrimp, scallops, white fish, clams, and veggies. It was just ok.

    There are no words, however, for my dessert: a swan shaped cream puff filled with chocolate mousse, served with chocolate sauce and a scoop of chocolate ice cream. Ok so listen, I've eaten a lot of dessert in my time. I mean a lot. This thing is easily in the top five desserts I have ever eaten; it alone is worth eating here. If I must nitpick, the chocolate ice cream was just unnecessary and didn't compare to everything else on the plate, but you know I ate it anyway. (By the way, did I seriously have a second breakfast of ice cream before lunch in France??? A year later I'm kind of appalled at myself.)

    We walked off some of lunch by walking over to Spaceship Earth and riding that; the park was empty today so even with FP's, this was a quick walk on. Next up was the moment I'd been waiting for: our FP's for Frozen Ever After. I do miss Maelstrom, but I'm sorry, I LOVED this ride. "Let it Go" was a whole big thing with motivating me to get through my first Princess Half Marathon, so yeah I definitely have Frozen fever. If you're not obsessed with Frozen like I am, I still recommend this ride: it's beautifully done and while it does draw a crowd, they move the line quickly.

    I kind of wanted to ride again, but Mom, Dad, and Sis wanted to go back to the hotel, so off we went. The three of them napped while I caught up on some homework and updated my trip report. Once everyone was refreshed, we went down for a drink at Hurricane Hanna's, which was surprisingly empty. After having one round and chatting with the bartender for a while, we decided to head back into Epcot and stroll around World Showcase in search of dinner.

    After getting my mosquito lotion, we diverted left toward the Land to try riding that, but it was closed. The Living Seas was still open, with no line, so we walked onto that instead. My family doesn't really like to linger in the aquarium, which I think is a bummer, so we crossed back over to World Showcase.

    After doing the ride in Mexico and browsing a few stores, we made our way to Japan and decided to try the quick service place by the koi pond. Having never eaten here before, we all ordered different things and really liked it. I had a spicy tuna roll with a side of rice, which was just filling enough for a later dinner. Dad stayed behind after dinner to watch Illuminations, while Mom, Sis, and I went back to circle the Boardwalk before bed. I made a quick stop in Screen Door for some pumpkin fudge before going back to the hotel. After just a quick call to JF out on the balcony, I called it a night.


    DAY 3 - My First Disney Springs Experience

    Our neighbors got home somewhere around 1 am last night. I know this because they were yelling and laughing at the top of their lungs - something I frequently experience in moderate and value resorts but is usually less of a problem here. Dad and I grumbled about it as we all got ready this morning, and I gave him approval to bang on the wall if it happened again. (Mom did not. She's the adult in this family.)

    My legs were sore from my run yesterday, so I skipped my walk and tried to work on homework while everyone was having their coffee. With my luck, the module hadn't unlocked the way it was supposed to overnight, so all I could do was email my professor and wait.

    Breakfast this morning was downstairs at the Captain's Grille, which is a fam favorite. As usual, we all ordered the buffet. So funny thing, you could always order extras for free with the buffet, like a side of toast or omelet. Last year, they were experimenting with having an omelet station by the buffet line so you could order there instead of waiting for your server to put the order in; not only are they back to ordering through your server, but the omelet is no longer free. For an extra $4 apiece, we passed and stuck to the buffet eggs only.

    FPs were scheduled for Hollywood Studios this morning. It was cloudy but already getting hot; Mom, Sis, and I stuck it out and made the walk over, while Dad road the boat. We met up and were approaching the entrance when Sis suddenly threw her hands in the air and turned around. She yelled something incoherently, leaving Mom to turn around and chase after her. Mom not only caught up, but kept walking with her, back toward the hotel - leaving Dad and I there, dumbfounded. I called Mom, who finally answered and said Sis had forgotten her Magic Band, and they were going back to get it.

    We've never run into this before, but I tried to talk them into coming back. I was sure Guest Services could give her a temporary card, but Sis insisted her FP wouldn’t be on the card, so they were going back anyway. I gave up and went in the park with Dad, heading straight to Rock n' Rollercoaster and riding that standby. We then did standby for Tower of Terror, which was only a 30 minute wait. There were a lot of scared kids on this go around, both in line and on our elevator itself. My personal childhood breakdown was on my first ride of Space Mountain, not TOT, but I can relate.

    Mom and Sis just made it back to the park once we got off, so we met them in front of Toy Story Mania to use our FP's. I barely squeezed in a victory, beating Dad by 5,000. Nervous that Muppets is going to get the ax soon, we made it a point to go there next and see the show. Sadly, a lot of effects were broken, like the cannon and fireworks, which isn't a great sign.

    It was pretty toasty by the time we got out of there. We watched a bit of the Star Wars show, where the troopers come marching into the courtyard, then browsed the stores as we made our way out of the park. I can't remember what the FP situation was, but I imagine Sis and Mom didn't want to wait for whatever we had scheduled, so all four of us walked back to the hotel.

    After a quick change upstairs it was back down to Stormalong Bay, with a Beaches n' Cream break thrown somewhere in there. As per usual we started getting restless after a few hours, showered and changed to head back out into the World. We had dinner reservations at the (relatively) new Boathouse tonight, so off we went to board a Disney Springs bus - which took 30 minutes to come. Le sigh.

    So this was my first time being dropped off at Disney Springs since they added the new area with all the brand name shops. Naturally, I hate it. It's commercial. It's even bigger than before. It's not magical. And while I get the local appeal, this isn't Disney. Being dropped off at the Marketplace with the Disney music and quaint shops and pretty lighting was a much nicer experience. It's been my opinion recently that whoever is running park operations now only cares about making an extra buck; I get some people will appreciate this extra shopping, but this new area kind of validates my point. It just doesn't feel to be within the true spirit of Walt's Disney experience. It kind of feels like a sell-out.

    Mmkay, soapbox rant over.

    We walked all throughout the marketplace, stopping for a few treats in the new Ganachery and also checking out that chic new little bakery by World of Disney. The treats were very pretty, but they were also very expensive (even for Disney), and the place was dead. I can't imagine it's going to last long. We got tired an hour before dinner reservations but were able to get bar seats out on the dock. The drinks were good and reasonably priced; the $4 per shrimp and fish dip we got to go with them were not so reasonably priced, but still excellent. We brought our second round of drinks to the podium with us at dinner time and were seated quickly.

    Overall we agreed the meal is too expensive BUT we would definitely come back - the food is just that good. I distinctly remember our server was very friendly and just the right amount of attentive. Dinner was started with some yummy rolls. I originally ordered the ahi tuna burger, but our server came back a few minutes later to apologize and say they were out. Two drinks into my meal and caught off guard, I ordered a regular beef burger instead. It was, of course, delicious, but way too heavy for me. The fries were so good as well; I not only ate all of mine, but stole some of Dad's as well. This coming from the girl who normally doesn't order French fries and sticks almost solely to turkey burgers to save a few hundred calories.

    One thing I should note is that we overheard the bartender telling a couple to call the Boathouse restaurant directly for reservations. Disney will for some reason show the reservations as being all booked up before they actually are. Since this is an independent restaurant on property, you can call them directly if you hit that snag.

    Dinner pretty much wiped us all out. We caught a bus back to the Yacht Club and went to bed.

    DAY 4 - Halloween Washout

    I woke up at 7 just as Mom was making her coffee. It was a little rainy this morning, so I begrudgingly popped in my contacts before heading out for my run. I got drenched, but nothing was hurting this morning, and the rain was actually refreshing. I ended up doing the full Boardwalk to HS and back two times for a total of about five miles.

    I came back, showered, and pulled out my computer to get some homework done while my family got ready for Typhoon Lagoon. The module was still locked, and still no response from my professor. I grumbled and sent an email to tech support, updating some of the report instead. By the time that was done, my family had changed their minds about the water park because of the forecast and decided to do the pool this morning instead.

    We changed and went down to the Beach Club Marketplace for breakfast, which for me was a bagel and hardboiled eggs. I ended up spilling my vitamins all over the Solarium floor, so that was done for the week. I brought my coffee out to a lounge chair once the pool opened, where it was overcast but comfortable, and the pool deck was almost completely empty. Unfortunately it did start to rain just an hour later, so we packed up our things and went back upstairs to change for the parks.

    Tonight was Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, and the plan was to be out all day until the party started at 7. Sis had found online what I think were leftover March Madness Disney Park team shirts, so we each got one and were going as Disney baseball players. While I really liked my shirt - the Bellhops, number 13 of course - it was heavy cotton and black. It would have been too hot to wear all day, so I tossed it in my bag to change into later.

    We walked to Epcot and as it turns out, heat wasn't a concern because it continued raining on and off all day. After trudging all the way to the Land Pavilion in a complete downpour, I was a little cranky. We rode the Land and stopped for a snack at Sunshine Seasons, tabouhleh hummus pinwheels, which were pretty good. The rain let up for a bit at this point, allowing us to make our way toward the front of the park so Mom and Dad could browse the Animation gift shop. We were only here a couple of minutes before deciding to just head over to Magic Kingdom; rain was in the forecast all day, so we might as well be in one place and stay there.

    The skies remained clear during our monorail ride over, and we were able to make it just in time for the Festival of Fantasy parade. I got some great pictures and videos that I sent back to JF at home. We ducked into the Emporium as soon as that was over and each picked out some nice Halloween socks to go with our baseball outfits; I got a cute pair of Mickey pumpkin head ones that would have been perfect had they not been so itchy.

    Next up we used our FP for Space Mountain, walked onto Haunted Mansion with only a short wait, then used FP again for Peter Pan's Flight. Dinner reservations were for Liberty Tree as soon as it opened at 5, so we went there a bit early and waited maybe 10 minutes to be seated. We've done this a few times and it's always a good meal, but the dessert is just terrible. It's a cranberry cake with ice cream. The problem is I'm not a fruit person to begin with, and this thing is so loaded with craisins, there's no eating around them.

    The rain started up just as we were leaving the restaurant, and it stayed raining the rest of the night. We made our way to ride Pirates, then crossed back over to the Monsters Laugh Floor. The park was pretty empty so both were a quick walk-on. I really wanted to see the announcement for the Halloween Party, which I remembered following with the "This is Halloween" song in the past, but that didn't happen tonight. The announcement was pretty lackluster, probably made worse by the fact that it was a complete downpour at this point.

    Here's where my night took a downturn. Since the party had officially begun, we began making the rounds for candy. The rain and wind were so intense, however, that umbrellas and ponchos were almost pointless. I tried huddling under my industrial strength umbrella but still got soaked, and my sneakers were literally filled with water. I was growing crankier by the minute and just really not feeling this party, sad to say. I'm used to Florida rain, but this was a monsoon.

    We huddled out of the rain back by Liberty Tree to wait for the 8:30 Boo to You Parade to start. They made their first announcement it was delayed at 8:30 on the dot, then continued making the same announcement every few minutes. I finally snapped and decided to head back with Dad. We lingered a few more minutes on Main Street to see if they would make one last announcement; when a huge crash of thunder and lightning came down, we gave up for good.

    Mom and Sis stayed behind and actually made a great night out of it. Most people chickened out like I did, so they were given handfuls of candy at every stop, were finally able to see the parade, and even met Mickey at his greeting spot. The Hocus Pocus Spelltacular had to be canceled, but apparently the Sanderson Sisters came out long enough just to sing "I Put a Spell on You."

    So they had fun, which is great for them. I'm was too impatient and wanted nothing more than to dry off. Dad and I talked about getting ice cream on the bus ride back to the hotel, but we were too tired once we actually got there. I changed into dry clothes, called JF out on the balcony, and went to bed.

    DAY 5 - Food and Wine Festival Debut

    Despite getting back relatively early, I slept in until 8 this morning. My family was going to Typhoon Lagoon - which I don't care to participate in with my glasses/contacts- and I had run a lot yesterday morning, so I lounged around the room with coffee and was finally able to do some homework. I changed around 10 and walked over to Epcot for the first day of the Food and Wine Festival. The festival booths wouldn't open for another hour, but I wanted to be there early enough to get some goodies before the crowds started rolling in.

    On a whim, I made it far enough around World Showcase to get a glance of Norway and was surprised to see a crowd around the pavilion. I made a beeline there and saw Frozen was open already, with a 45 minute wait. I had nothing else to do, so I got in line and actually waited only 20 minutes before getting on the ride. The festival booths were opening just as I got off, so it was perfect timing.

    After walking around for a while and being picky, I started with butter chicken and naan from Africa, which was good but a little skimpy on the chicken. Next was my favorite standby, a spicy roll from Japan, which is a nice fat roll topped with volcano sauce. I was torturing JF with pictures of everything as I ate, so I sent him the F&W menu and let him live vicariously through me. His next choice was the cheddar cheese soup from Canada, which was directly across the water and gave me some time to digest. It was definitely worth the walk and as good as I remembered; the little pretzel roll served on the side is a nice touch as well.

    I got a text that my family was heading back, so I walked back to the hotel and sealed my gluttony with a milkshake from Beaches n' Cream. Naturally, Mousekeeping was just entering our room as I turned the corner in the hallway, so I waited outside and talked to JF on the phone until she was done. The other three arrived a few minutes later but didn't linger long. Dad and Sis changed and went to Epcot to use our Soarin FP's, whereas Mom and I went down to the pool. It was pretty hot again, so I swam a little to cool off, got a drink with Mom, and read my book for a while. At some point I began sulking about missing the Halloween party and got the idea to buy tickets to the party on Friday. I began tossing the idea around to Mom and offered to buy the tickets - an idea she rejected immediately. I could tell she wasn't totally opposed to the idea, just to me spending that money again. There might have been a small lecture about not making the most out of last night as well.

    Around 4 we went upstairs to shower and change, then headed back to Epcot. Mom was looking for a specific artist she'd bought prints from a few years ago at the festival. I can’t remember her name, but she did images from each of the World Showcase pavilions that made for subtle Disney artwork. Now that I had my own place, I would have liked one or two for myself. We walked all the way around WS looking for her booth, but she was nowhere to be found.

    Sis texted me to meet them in the Wine Cellar in Italy for a drink. Mom was still restless and continued on her own to the Festival Center in hopes of finding her artist. I joined Dad and Sis at a high top table in the cellar, which was relatively deserted. I ordered a white wine (can't remember which) as Dad and Sis got a second round. We stayed there another half an hour or so and got out just in time for the Wang Chung concert. Apparently I've gone through my entire life having no idea who Wang Chung was or having heard "Everybody Have Fun," so I stood there with a dumbfounded look as all these people - Sis included - were singing and dancing to it. It didn't help that Sis was emulating Elaine's little kick dance from Seinfeld.

    It was almost time for out dinner reservations at Via Napoli, so we headed back to Italy and met up with Mom, who had not found her artist after all. As usual we were seated pretty quickly here with our reservation (and witnessed many people being turned away). I tried to order another glass of wine, but the server was a bit pushy and suggested I try something called Gavi. I have to admit, he was right. It was very good and paired well with my margarita pie.

    We split after dinner again, Mom heading to ride Spaceship Earth and the rest of us gluttons going to France to find some dessert. Dad swung into L'artisan des Glaces for ice cream, while Sis and I kept going into the bakery. I'm normally not one for chocolate mousse (unless it's stuffed in a swan-shaped cream puff), but it looked good so I went with it. It was ok. Nothing to write home about.

    Dessert put us over the edge. We walked back to the hotel and called it an early night. I made my call to JF and read my book in bed for a while before turning out the light.


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    DAY 6 - A Blip of AK and a Pool Day

    I slept until 7 and grabbed my laptop right away to finish my homework for the week. We had 9:05 FP for Kilimanjaro Safaris this morning, so we all skipped our workouts and relaxed with coffee and TV. We went downstairs at 8:30 to grab a "quick" breakfast from Ale and Compass, but two somebodies ordered the breakfast sandwich, which normally takes 15 minutes. It ended up taking closer to 25 this morning, mostly because the girl put the bag on the counter when it was ready after 15 but didn't call us up to come get it. To make matters worse, the new digital bus board kept pushing back the arrival time for the next Animal Kingdom bus.

    So I've mentioned in past reports that I’m the only one in my family that likes AK. I grew up a complete nerd and loved watching Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel, so everything about AK is right up my alley. The rest of my family could do without it, or at the very least, don't need more than an hour or two to hit the major attractions. I was the only one on edge, therefore, watching that arrival time keep slipping back - and my one chance to ride the safari along with it, as there's no way my family was waiting standby. My family was also well aware I was silently containing my anxiety and very maturely made fun of me about it.

    The bus did finally arrive, and we were dropped at the park entrance with 20 minutes to spare on the FP. Considering the safari is basically a mile into the park, that left us with just a little over 5 minutes once we got through security and all the way through Discovery Island and Africa to the FP entrance. Since it was almost 10 am and already hot, none of the herd animals were out, and we glimpsed only one giraffe from far away. We did get a nice view of the elephants and male lion, however, and I was delighted to see the herd of wild dogs for the first time.

    Next up were FPs on Everest, which we got on almost immediately. As they do every year, Sis and Dad attempted to argue that this ride goes upside down in the dark. It doesn’t. Never has, never will. Although might I take this chance to yet again complain about the broken yeti - what a waste. You can barely see him.

    No one wanted to walk the Asia or Africa trail, and Dinosaur was down, so we browsed the Island Mercantile store for a bit, where I got the garlic parm popcorn to bring back to JF. FYI when we tried this back at home, I wasn’t impressed. It was surprisingly bland and a bit stale, though that could have been from the trip.

    So that was about it for everyone. We left the park. Mom and I literally ran to catch an Epcot bus while Dad and Sis went back to the Yacht Club. As soon as we got to Epcot Mom wanted to check out the Animation store again to see if there was a different artist, but it was still Larry Dotson, who had been here all week. We walked over to check out the Festival Center, which was really, really sparse compared to previous years. I got my free Ghirardelli chocolate while Mom went over to check out the Cutco knives and was told by the nice lady that the she already has the knife that can cut whatever it is she’s looking to cut. Said nice lady was then seen being yelled at by the high strung guy running the booth with her for not trying to sell mom something she doesn’t need. Go nice lady!

    The festival booths were just opening by now and Mom had been craving lamington, so we made our way to the Australia booth. She got that and the shrimp while I backtracked to Patagonia for an empanada. Everything was really good, but it was SO hot standing there trying to eat our food that we decided to head back to the hotel. It was a very toasty walk.

    We changed into out bathing suits back in the room and went down to Beaches to split a sundae. Again, I made the mistake of trying to order coffee ice cream, which I'm really mad they don't have any more. The struggle is real people.

    We stayed at the pool most of the day. The water was wonderful, and it was just too hot to move too much. I did a lot of swimming, reading, and relaxing. And people wonder why I'm not sick of Disney yet.

    Dinner tonight was at our own hotel at the Yachtsman Steakhouse, so we maxed out the pool time as long as we could. Once everyone was showered and dressed up into nicer outfits, we went down to Crews Cup for drinks. I had two glasses of Riesling, which were delicious, but I always make the mistake of having one too many drinks before this huge meal. I was sleepy before we even went into the restaurant, and by the time we were done, I was practically dozing at the table.

    Dinner itself was amazing as always. We split the cheese plate appetizer, which was just ok. Take that assessment with a huge grain of salt though. I loved the few cheeses I was willing to eat, but I refuse to touch anything blue or goat. We also split the truffle mac n' cheese side dish with our entrees, which is super rich but nicely done. For my entree, I got the 6 oz filet with potatoes au gratin, both of which were completely mouth watering. We skipped dessert and went straight to bed right after dinner.

    DAY 7 - Halloween Re-Do


    I was up early this morning and outside for my run just a little after 7. There were a lot of runners out here this early, and the weather was absolutely beautiful. I did two laps around the boardwalk and once to HS and back for a total of about 3 miles. Nothing hurt either.

    After working and working on my family ALL week to do the Halloween party again, I finally got them all to agree to go tonight. The forecast was clear, so once back in the room I sent Dad down with my credit card to buy tickets from the concierge. Mom was going out for a leisurely walk this morning, but Sis and I took quick showers and met Dad downstairs to be at HS in time for rope drop.

    We took the boat over, which was fine considering I'd just showered and didn’t want to get immediately sweaty again. We made it a few minutes before park opening and were one of the first ones in line for Rock n' Rollercoaster FPs. We made it inside the building just before you tap in for the second time, but neither the FP or standby line was being let through. It was obvious something was wrong, and I saw the poor CM's face drop when her phone rang. She told us the ride was down and would probably be down for a while, but gave us return FPs for whenever it was back up.

    We had skipped breakfast so now as a good a time as any. Sis split off to get something from Starbucks while Dad and I got coffee and bagels from Starring Rolls. I was a little disappointed they didn't have any peanut butter to go with mine; if I’m going to have a carb fest, a smidge of protein makes me feel less guilty about it. The three of us ate out on the terrace while Sis kept tabs on the ride from her phone. We weren’t planning on sticking around here all morning, so we went back to the ride as soon as we finished eating and were happy to see they were letting people in. We walked right in, skipped the preshow, and rode the second car of the day. Sis and I got stuck in the last row so our heads took a bit of a beating.

    We walked all the way to Epcot from HS. I don't think I really need to mention (but I will), it was hot and we were gross. Regardless, we went to Mouse Gears first so Dad and I could pick up some Halloween shirts. We had FPs for Test Track next, but I think the FP system on this ride is completely useless. We still waited almost half an hour, and I hate that it becomes a free-for-all once you get out of simulation design. The ride as also kind of weird today. As we were finishing the outside loop our car slammed to a sudden halt, which sitting in the middle left me to take the full impact without a cross strap seat belt. I don't know, I'm really not into this ride since they changed the design a few years ago. At least it used to have a story to it.

    Mom met us outside the ride so we could head into World Showcase for food, but we immediately disagreed on where to go. She went right, and the three of us went left. We stopped first at Farm Fresh to split the chicken and dumplings and bacon mac n' cheese. The mac n' cheese was surprisingly just ok for something with bacon, but the chicken and dumplings were very good. We kept moving and next got all three of the main dishes from China, which, sadly, at this point in the game I can't remember. Noodles and pot stickers generally seem to be in the rotation here. Whatever they were, they were all really good.

    We made our way back to the hotel to meet Mom and change for the Halloween party. I didn't have another costume, so I wore my Frozen running shirt from Raw Threads that says "Queen" and planned on scoping out a pair of the Elsa Mickey ears tonight. We had dinner reservations at California Grill, which was originally supposed to be Flying Fish. Us Savvy's are creatures of habit unfortunately, so I think it was only two days into the trip before someone had the idea to change the reservation, and we all caved.

    We therefore caught a MK bus and walked over to the hotel, first stopping at the Wave for drinks. I limited myself to one glass of wine so I wouldn't be sleepy for the party. On our way upstairs, I did find the Elsa Mickey ears in the gift shop, but they were really uncomfortable, especially with my glasses, so I passed. We checked into the restaurant desk and took the elevator upstairs, where they seated us right away. I can't remember our server's name, but she was really nice and funny and made some good recommendations. We started with a goat cheese flat bread that I took one nibble of to appease my family - and which they seemed to enjoy. Besides, I needed to save my carbs for the rosemary and lavender rolls, the latter of which I actually remember disliking the last time we were here. I'm not sure if they toned down the lavender, but it was much better today. For my entree I went with a seafood "ramen" dish with thin noodles and broth, which was very good but a bit spicy.

    We skipped dessert in anticipation of getting candy later and went down to the main level. And saw that it was pouring.

    I fought the feeling of dejavu while Dad checked the radar from his phone, which did show the rain should pass. It was still another 30 minutes before the party started, so we browsed the Contemporary gift shops again while waiting it out. Thankfully, the rain was dying down by the time we actually pulled in MK. (And it didn't rain again all night!)

    The security line was a HUGE mess today. The lines were long and kept reforming, and somehow I ended up inside the park five minutes after all of my family members. I've been having a terrible streak for picking lines ever since they upped security.

    Once inside, there was a candy trail through the backstage area on the right side of Main Street, where we come running in during the Disney races. We walked that first to get our bags and first handful of candy. We made our way across the park and hit a few more candy stops before riding Haunted Mansion, which was a pretty short wait. We then staked out a somewhat iffy spot by the steamboat to watch the first Boo to You Parade. A bunch of us were standing on a ledge, and I was surprised after 30 minutes no one had come by to shoo us off. Someone eventually did come around in the middle of the parade, but we were all back on it five minutes later. Sorry. Setting a bad example here.

    After the parade we rode Small World, where a stupid kid in the boat in front of us had my anxiety levels spiking because he was dragging his hand in the water as all the boats were bumping into each other.

    The Hocus Pocus Spelltacular was just about to start at the castle, and we were way too late to get good spots, so I squeaked as deep into the crowd as I could without being a total jerk. I’m really short so people usually let me slide, but I had Dad in tow and didn’t want to tick everyone off. We ended up finding a reasonable gap in the crowd that didn't block anyone's immediate view. As for the show itself, I loved it. I would definitely stake out a better spot next time.

    Dad went off after the show to get a good spot for Hallowishes. Mom, Sis, and I rode the Peoplemover, and the two of them were done by the time we got off the ride. I was on my way out of the park with them when I decided to stay and watch the castle projection show, which I'm glad I did since they’re changing it. I then ducked into the ice cream shop to get a small sundae, which took a long time. They gave me the completely wrong thing the first time, and the fireworks were half over by the time they got it right. I stood in the middle of Main Street eating it while watching the rest of the show with Dad, who kind of popped up out of nowhere. We left the park just before the show ended to beat the mad rush to the buses and went back to the hotel for the night.

    DAY 8 - The Tragical Express

    Mom started bustling around at 6, and I never really fell back asleep after hearing her. I finally got up at 7 and rinsed off. Today was departure day, but as I had done my packing yesterday, I didn't have to do much this morning but wait for everyone else. We brought our bags down to airline check in at 7:45 and had breakfast at the Marketplace. Dad then sat in the lobby with our carry-on stuff while, Mom, Sis, and I took one last stroll around the Boardwalk. While the Tragical Express generally seems to arrive late, ours came five minutes early and only made one other stop at Beach Club. It's very nice that we don’t appear to be stopping at Boardwalk or Caribbean Beach anymore, and we got to the airport super early.

    We scored TSA preboarding again, which was, again, amazing. I'm seriously looking into registering for this myself; even flying just twice a year, it saves so much time and aggravation. I bought a club sandwich for the plane, which was turkey, turkey bacon, cheese, tomato, and lettuce, served hot - yum. I can never remember the name of the place (or which terminal we were in) but it's the healthy sandwich place in the food court. The flight itself was meh. We left 20 minutes late because of a "bag problem," and the guy behind me smelled awful. I mean he reeked. Our TVs also reset themselves because of the delay, so I had to swipe my credit card twice - and of course was charged twice. Thankfully, though, we and all our bags made it safely home.

    NEXT TRIPS

    As I said, the next two trips have passed. I can recap these relatively quickly.

    JANUARY 2017 - This was one of the few trips I'm glad not to have a full report for. It was kind of miserable. The four of us flew down to run the Disney World Half Marathon. I was registered for the full marathon but sometime around October was hit with a horrible case of knee pain. Long story short, I have patellar femoral syndrome - just one more in the long line of running problems. Nothing worthy of surgery, but chronic and painful. Basically, I have scoliosis and knees that don't track down the center, which makes running a very aggravating hobby. It's a problem I'm still dealing with today. But anyway, I switched to the Half Marathon for this weekend in the hopes of at least being able to walk.

    Cons: Cold, rainy, crowded, oh and yes they canceled the Half Marathon the night before the race due to storms. In truth I kind of didn't care. My knee was killing me and after three excruciating hours of waiting in line at WWoS the next day, we got our money back, including the Race Retreat. RunDisney didn't have to do that. That was very nice of them. And thank you to all the volunteers who suffered through that day along with us.

    Pros: Getting upgraded to a lagoon view with a perfect view of Sis running the 10K and the last leg of the full Marathon on Sunday. That was pretty awesome to watch. Also, getting out of bed when they canceled the half, going downstairs in my pajamas, and buying wine from the Yacht gift shop. I'm sure we ate well, too. Beyond that, this trip was not one of the best.

    MAY 2017 - I've done it. I landed a man who is not only tolerant of my Disney obsession, but embraces it. He's big into Marvel and Star Wars, which I think made him predisposed to share in some of my Disney mania. So besides a wonderful year and a half with him, JF let me drag him down to Florida for his first Disney trip since he was five years old - and he loved it. We stayed a week at the Yacht Club with a garden view that was way down looking out at the Dolphin. We really enjoyed ourselves overall and ate super well, the highlight being my new favorite, Narcoosee's brunch. I also tried Sanaa for the first time, which was just incredible, as well as California Grill, Rose & Crown, and Yachtsman. We also did the Star Wars dessert party, which had a nice selection of noshings, drinks with generous pours of alcohol, an awesome view of the show, and a Chewbacca souvenir stein we still drink out of at home. Pricey yes, but very cute and I felt was worth it. We were also there for the first week of Happily Ever After fireworks, which I absolutely ADORED. And - hilariously - the one attraction that most inspired JF was The Land; we now have a mini hydroponics system in the basement with fish and a few last-of-the-season potted vegetables from Home Depot. It’s become a major project for him, and I'm just thrilled it's Disney-inspired.

    Side note - We did in fact sign up for TSA-pre. It was easy and VERY worth it, especially for the Orlando International Airport. We bypassed a 45 minute security line on our flight home - in and out in three minutes. It costs $80 for five years, and you do have to go to a local center for a brief interview; while I was expecting a motor vehicle type experience, they ran my facility very efficiently and were friendly. Big thumbs up on this decision.

    (REAL) NEXT TRIP
    I'm going back in just three weeks, and it will be the first time I’m bringing a significant other on vacation with my family. It's a little nerve-wracking, but my parents love him and JF did really enjoy himself in May. So the two of us will share a room with Sis and her now fiance, ZF, and I've made all the dining and FP for the six of us. MNNSHP is the only big highlight; the four of them will also be taking a brief wedding venue tour one morning, so JF and I may fill that slot with a Behind the Seeds Tour. We’ll also break off for our own dinner at Citricos, which will be a first for me. The other big first will be Pandora, which is again, Animal Kingdom, so there is mixed interest in my party. None of us are big into Avatar, but I think most of us are at least interested in seeing the new area and riding Flights of Passage.

    I hope to write a report on that, but it may be a bit spotty. Between doing things with everyone and also doing homework, I'm not sure how much time I'll have for report writing. I will likely do at least a general recap.

    Thank you for reading!

  4. #3

    "So this was my first time being dropped off at Disney Springs since they added the new area with all the brand name shops. Naturally, I hate it. It's commercial. It's even bigger than before. It's not magical. And while I get the local appeal, this isn't Disney. Being dropped off at the Marketplace with the Disney music and quaint shops and pretty lighting was a much nicer experience. It's been my opinion recently that whoever is running park operations now only cares about making an extra buck; I get some people will appreciate this extra shopping, but this new area kind of validates my point. It just doesn't feel to be within the true spirit of Walt's Disney experience. It kind of feels like a sell-out.

    Mmkay, soapbox rant over. "

    You are not alone Sassy! Many of us feel like the leaders at Disney are selling out Walt's legacy just for a buck. Iger firing all his American IT workers and making them train their foreign replacements was just another example of him and his minions destroying what Walt and the others built up. Hopefully we have a few years left before they ruin it completely.
    Thanks for taking the time to right out your story. Looking for your next adventure to be a blast.


  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by wdwchuck View Post
    "So this was my first time being dropped off at Disney Springs since they added the new area with all the brand name shops. Naturally, I hate it. It's commercial. It's even bigger than before. It's not magical. And while I get the local appeal, this isn't Disney. Being dropped off at the Marketplace with the Disney music and quaint shops and pretty lighting was a much nicer experience. It's been my opinion recently that whoever is running park operations now only cares about making an extra buck; I get some people will appreciate this extra shopping, but this new area kind of validates my point. It just doesn't feel to be within the true spirit of Walt's Disney experience. It kind of feels like a sell-out.

    Mmkay, soapbox rant over. "

    You are not alone Sassy! Many of us feel like the leaders at Disney are selling out Walt's legacy just for a buck. Iger firing all his American IT workers and making them train their foreign replacements was just another example of him and his minions destroying what Walt and the others built up. Hopefully we have a few years left before they ruin it completely.
    Thanks for taking the time to right out your story. Looking for your next adventure to be a blast.
    I meant Savvy!!! Sorry about that!!!

  6. #5
    Self-Proclaimed Disney Queen! Pammer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Sacramento, CA

    I just started reading and saw your comment about TSA preboarding and was it available for purchase...yes! It costs $85 for 5 years & I think it is well worth it! Here is the link to register: https://www.tsa.gov/precheck

    Pam
    DL trips: too many to remember actual dates, but they began in the 60s!
    WDW trips: 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013



  7. #6

    Thanks for your great trip report! Hope to read more TRs from your future trips!

    Jan

    "A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference." --Eeyore

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