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Thread: Sue Holland Rayford's Nov 2023 Family Trip

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    Sue Holland Rayford's Nov 2023 Family Trip


    Who: Sue (65), DVC Member
    SB (66), my husband
    Chris (37), my son
    Amanda (35), my daughter-in-law
    Ari (7), my grandson
    Dates: November 9 12, 2023
    Resort: Disneys Beach Club Villas Resort
    Experience: Very Experienced 59th stay at Beach Club Villas

    Normally we book Chris & family to join us for part of the main Food & Wine trip, but since this year the trip was Sunday through Friday there wasnt a weekend for them. Since Veterans Day falls on a Saturday this year we have Friday off at work. Ari has no school Thursday and Friday. So, I booked a 2-bedroom villa at Beach Club Villas coming in on Thursday, November 9th and checking out Sunday November 12th. Itll be one last chance at Food & Wine Festival, too. Unfortunately, the DVC quiet pool is being refurbed, so I wont have that. I prefer it over the busy/crowded Stormalong Bay, but its out of my control.

    I will probably work until noon Thursday and then hit the road to meet Chris family at Disney. Theyre dropping their dogs off at the boarding place at 6:30 a.m. and will make the 3-hour drive to Disney. We all have park reservations for Epcot, so we can enjoy Food & Wine Festival and a pleasant evening in Epcot. Friday will be Epcot/Food & Wine Festival again. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is performing tonight, and theyre always fun. Saturday SB & I are blocked out of the parks, but the others will head to a park (Magic Kingdom most likely). Since Amanda & I both have November birthdays and were both in the Levy rewards club we each have a $15 birthday credit to use at Terralina or Paddlefish. We booked lunch at Terralina. Sunday theyll head to another park before going home. I have a $25 birthday credit from Landry, so I booked breakfast for SB & me at the Rainforest Caf at Animal Kingdom before we drive home so I can get packed for my HAL cruise trip which begins 5 days later.

    The plans so far are:
    Thursday 11/9: Drive to Disney, Food & Wine Festival
    Friday 11/10: Epcot/Food & Wine Festival, Pool
    Saturday 11/11: Pool, Terralina lunch, Resort
    Sunday 11/12: Rainforest breakfast, Drive to Gainesville

    DAY 1 Thursday 11/09/23
    Who: Sue (65), DVC Member
    SB (66), my husband
    Chris (37), my son
    Amanda (35), my daughter-in-law
    Ari (7), my grandson

    Plan: Drive to Disney, Food & Wine Festival

    Actual: Since Chris & Amanda would be arriving early, I decided to change our plans and leave work at 9. Yes, I realize the logical response is why even go in at all, but I wanted to take care of a couple things. Also, yesterday Amanda snagged a reservation for breakfast at Topolinos (at Riviera) and since Ive never been able to bring myself to pay $50 plus tax/tip per person for freakin breakfast, we (I) decided to go ahead this one time. Clearly, it's about experience with family, and not value <g>. It should be fun, but most likely a one and done for us (me).

    I worked 8-9 and we were on the road by 9:10. Thankfully the drive was easier than last time, with no traffic or other issues. Well, no other issues besides SB. Its no surprise flip flops are on his feet, but he did put a pair of sneakers in his backpack. Hes recovering from a cold and was coughing horrifically for quite a while difficult for him and a pain in the *** for anyone in the car with him (me). Finally, he dozed off for a while. After waking he coughed again. Before leaving Id advised him to bring the otc meds and he said he brought something (in the backpack, in the trunk).

    We pulled into Beach Club around 11:10 and the Hollands were just behind us. The security cast teased them, saying someone said they were expected but not to let them in, lol! We ended up parking right next to each other. SB checked his backpack and chugged down some NyQuil for his cold. Since the room was not ready, we let the cast member know we were here. She let me know wed be on the 2nd floor, and NOT facing the noisy construction area that used to be quiet pool. SB was still in his flip flops I was willing to take them back to the car and get his sneakers, but he said hed be fine.

    We walked over to Epcot and entered without any wait. The park was significantly busier than it had been last trip, even at barely 11:30 on a Thursday! The food booths close to the entrance to World Showcase were crazy busy very long lines in each queue. Thankfully as we walked further around it thinned out.

    Canada was impossible, and so was Hawaii (Amandas favorite). At the cheese booth Chris got the southern pimento cheese, which he liked. I tried a small bite and didnt really care for it. Poseidons pimento cheese is much better! Somewhere they got a charcuterie plate for Ari and that was pretty disappointing. In Mexico SB & I went into the Cantina to get him a frozen mango margarita. The others met up with us in Mexico. It was so busy here the line for the boat ride started outside the building!

    In India the line was short so Chris & I each got the chicken tikka masala. He loved it and so did SB. In fact, SB ate almost half of it, lol! There was a lot, so I didnt mind. We continued on and stopped in Spain. SB ordered the paella and seafood salad, with a glass of the rose sangria for me. When he got the food they mistakenly gave him the charcuterie cup, then went to hand him the seafood salad (in the same type of cup). He said he ordered paella, and thats when they realized he was holding something he hadnt ordered. They couldnt take it back, so we scored a free charcuterie cup, which was actually excellent. I ate one of the pieces of cheese and it was really good. Chris ate the rest. We stood in the shade by the trains in Germany while SB ate his paella and seafood salad. It was so friggin HOT outside!

    We continued around the countries and at International Gateway SB said hed wait for us in his usual spot. The rest of us talked about doing Soarin and Living with the Land, but I had Chris check the wait times. They were 70 and 40 minutes, which I was not willing to do I suggested they could, and Id head back to the resort and get my laptop. They decided to just get food at Hawaii and then meet us back at SBs bench.

    SB was dozing off and on, to the amusement of the cast member who was working at the character greet station. When the Hollands returned, we walked back to Beach Club and hung out in the Solarium waiting for the room. SB was struggling to stay awake, and I told him to just lay down but of course he didnt want to. Chris & I went out to my car and brought some of our stuff in. By that point SB was laying down asleep, lol! Ari was watching a Disney show. I set up the laptop and started updating the report but just after 1:30 we got the text that the room was ready.

    We moved up there and found none of our magic bands worked. Chris was able to open the door with his phone. All the rooms are refurbished now, and they look nice. I took some pictures then we started getting settled after bringing up the rest of our stuff. SB went into the bedroom to lay down.

    After unpacking Amanda & I took all of our magic bands and walked over to Beach Club. The carousel is in place and the gingerbread & hot chocolate stand is open. The magic bands got reset and thankfully worked once we got back to the room. SB was finishing a beer so NyQuil, margarita and beer no wonder hes sleepy.

    The next challenge was the tv in the living room I could not figure it out and could get sound but no picture. I called for help, and they said theyd send someone up. I mentioned it to Chris, and he came to the living room. Just then it started working fine. I didnt cancel the service call, and a few minutes later a maintenance guy showed up. He reset the tv and hopefully itll continue to work. The only remaining issue is the channel number is visible on the screen and we couldnt figure out how to make that go away.

    I had brought Ari a Nightmare before Christmas tree, so he set that up and added the Jack Skellington decoration Id brought. They gave me cute Mickey earrings for my birthday, and Ari had made me a card. For my birthday Holli had commissioned an artist in the Ukraine to create and oil painting of Ari on the carousel. I brought it to show them, and they were quite impressed. The artist did beautiful work great detail and it really captured Ari well.

    We hung out in the villa for a while, heading back out around 4:20. SB decided to stay at the resort, and he was asleep by the time we left. I agreed to bring him the chicken dinner when I get back. It was busier entering the park by now, but we got in without too much of a delay. We decided to start on the right this time, so we went to France first.

    Along the way we checked the various menus. Lines everywhere were really long it really felt more like a Saturday during Food & Wine Festival. In France the line of people waiting to get into the ice cream store extended beyond Monsieur Pauls restaurant. Chris got a mango beer or cider somewhere along the way, which he and Amanda both liked. In China Ari got the kids meal with orange chicken so we sat there for a bit. Lotus Blossom was not busy at all. Amanda mentioned the cast member working was busy texting on her phone rather than greeting a guest and taking an order.

    We continued walking, cutting through the Odyssey (not busy at all) and over to the French fry booth. Chris got the fried pickles (spears, not chips), which he said were excellent. They also shared the three different fries malt/vinegar, bacon, and sweet potato. It was starting to get dark, so we walked over to the Land and rode Living with the Land since the posted wait was only 10 minutes. It was actually more like 5 minutes at most. It was pretty in the greenhouses with the sunset sky visible through the glass.

    Once we got back outside it was dark, so we went to Moanas Water Adventure. It does have a different feel after dark. In some ways its better but then in other ways I preferred daylight. Ari had fun playing with the water features and we chose the dry path. People were lined up on the wet side!

    We then headed back out to World Showcase, and I was thinking if the lines were short, Id get the cheese soup from Canada. That was crazy thinking, as the line was still horrific! Amanda had thought of the flourless chocolate cake at Ireland, but that line was nuts too. SB called to say hed gotten his dinner, so I no longer needed to do that.

    We exited via International Gateway and walked over to Boardwalk. Chris went into Abracadabar and got an old fashioned to go while Amanda, Ari & I went up to the Boardwalk lobby to check out any holiday dcor. There was absolutely none not even a string of garland. We went back out and met Chris on the Boardwalk to continue walking around Crescent Lake.

    Big River Grille was dark, and they had a sign outside saying they would be closed today. Sounds like its only one day. The Dolphin hotel was projecting images on the outside of the building. I couldnt tell what they were, but it was pretty cool to see. This weekend Swan/Dolphin are having their Food & Wine Festival, which is always popular. Its a separately ticketed event I think tickets are $195/person. Its similar to Disneys Party for the Senses but outside.

    Coming around to Yacht Club we checked out that lobby. The train village was set up and running, and a worker was building a gingerbread lighthouse. Ill have to check again Saturday to see if its completed otherwise, Ill see it when Im back in December. We walked through the inside over to Beach Club, where Ari & Chris got to see the carousel. At the hot chocolate booth Ari got a hot chocolate with peppermint candy, sprinkles, whipped cream and Hersheys syrup. I got a DVC button/pin at the DVC kiosk.

    We went into Beach Club Marketplace where Amanda ordered mac & cheese for her dinner. We went up to the villa to settle in for the night. Amanda was shocked to see goldfish on her mac & cheese. Id forgotten about that but really liked it. She wasnt having any of it, and picked them off, lol. I had brought a kit with cheese, salami and crackers so everybody had something to munch on. At Beach Club Marketplace I got a chocolate chunk cookie to share with SB.

    By 8:30 everyone was headed to their final resting places (for the night no fatalities to report). With the coughing SB is sleeping in the living room. This also lets us have our own timeframes in terms of watching tv, going to sleep, etc.

    Today was a mostly great day. The heat and crowds are a negative its not normal for this time of year (the heat). Well make the most of the crowd situation, thankful its a short trip. Its been great spending time with the Hollands and despite not feeling 100% I think SB is happy to be here as well.

    Tomorrow, we have breakfast at Topolino, pool time and then Food & Wine.

    DAY 2 Friday 11/10/23
    Who: Sue (65), DVC Member
    SB (66), my husband
    Chris (37), my son
    Amanda (35), my daughter-in-law
    Ari (7), my grandson

    Plan: Epcot/Food & Wine Festival, Pool

    Actual: I slept really well the villa is so quiet! I was up by 5 and made my cappuccino to take back to bed. SB was up shortly after that, saying the murphy bed was the most comfortable bed hes ever slept on. We did online stuff and watched tv until it was time to get ready to head out.

    Everyone was up and out in the living room by 6:45, except for Amanda who was drying her hair. Today is supposed to be the hottest day of the week and once again about 10 degrees above normal. We had this last trip as well, so my luck has sucked in terms of weather this Food & Wine. Itll be in the 70s all next week, after we leave on Sunday. We were out the door just after 7.

    Despite the sign saying the skyliner opens at 7:30 we were sitting in our gondola passing over Boardway by 7:15. At Riviera we exited and went up to Topolino (rooftop restaurant). We were early for our reservation but were seated within a few minutes. Our server was terrific. Its a pretty dining venue and we had a nice view since our table was close to the windows.

    Here its a set price, although specialty drinks cost extra. Breakfast is $49 per adult and $30 per child (up to age 9). For that theres a shared pastry bucket, one entre and something from the included beverages.

    SB got the mimosa $15 and his entre was the steak and eggs. The steak was actually 2 small filet mignons cooked to perfection and absolutely delicious. They were set on some delicious polenta and accompanied by some really great potatoes and toast. I had water and the gruyere quiche which came with the same great potatoes and a field greens salad. The salad seemed odd to me for breakfast, and with more then enough food I only ate a bite of that. The quiche was delicious and made in a very flaky croissant-dough crust. Chris also had the steak & eggs, along with regular (not specialty) coffee. Amanda had coke and the waffles. Ari had the kids breakfast with Mickey & Minnie waffles, bacon & sausage. The pastry bucket was very good too especially the apple crumb cake. We took the leftover one back with us.

    As passholders we got 10% off, but its still a very pricy meal. For the 2 of us, with tip it was nearly $140. For breakfast! It was absolutely delicious, and I have no regrets trying it but its not something well do on a regular/frequent basis.

    After checking out the view from the outside deck we returned to the skyliner and went back to the resort. SB & I changed into swimsuits and went down to the Beach Club quiet pool around 9:15. The Hollands would be heading to Stormalong Bay when it opens at 10.

    The pool was wonderful so quiet! At first a family with 2 little kids was there but they soon left. They werent overly loud or obnoxious at all while they were there. SB spent about an hour in the pool before heading back upstairs. I spent about 2.5 hours on my chaise lounge, reading with a little bit of dozing. When I went upstairs just before noon I found him asleep in the bedroom with ESPN playing on the tv. Perhaps he needs some extra sleep to recover from this cold, so its all good.

    I went to take my shower and could not figure out how to turn the water on. Theres no obvious arrow to tell you which way to turn, and it wouldnt budge in either direction. SB said just turn it, so I forced it harder and, in the process, knocked the first dispenser (body wash/shower gel) right off the wall and onto the shower floor in 4 pieces. Most of it spilled out onto the shower floor. We tried to put it back together, without success so I set all the pieces on the bathroom sink for an expert to deal with. When I turned the water on it hit the shower gel all over the floor and it looked like a bubble bath in there!

    I took my shower (carefully, since the floor was a bit slippery) and after drying off made another attempt at the shower gel. Having studied the other two while showering, I had it figured out enough to get 3 of the pieces together. The 4th piece should have gone on before one of the other pieces, which now I couldnt take off, so I hung it on the shower wall in its altered state. The other piece is on the sink, so housekeeping can fix that when they get the villa ready for the next guests.

    The Hollands got back while I was in the shower, and they took their showers to clean up after Stormalong Bay. This morning Amanda got us a virtual queue group for Guardians of the Galaxy but Im thinking it will be coming up during the first half of the afternoon, and as hot as it is I really dont feel like walking to the front part of Epcot. At 10:45 the actual temp was 83 but the feel like was already 88. Thats awful for November.

    The Hollands had a nice time at Stormalong Bay and said it wasnt busy at all. Chris also mentioned the lady working at Hurricane Hannahs tried to kill him. He ordered a pineapple mule, and he said it was almost entirely alcohol took him a long time to finish it, lol! At 1pm everyone was showered, and the virtual queue was saying 50 minutes. They decided to walk over to Epcot, do Guardians, then hop on the monorail to transfer to the resort monorail and see the holiday stuff. I decided to skip it. Ill be back here a week after the cruise ends and had planned to do the MK resort touring Saturday afternoon of that trip since my park pass is no good on weekends. We agreed wed either meet back up in Epcot later or if they came back here, wed walk over together with SB as well. When they left just after 1 the feels like temp was 98.

    After they left, I decided to go down to Beach Club Markeplace to buy the DVC member mug SB is giving me for a Christmas gift. He asked for a chili cheese dog as well. Down there it was an absolute zoo people everywhere, lines at the registers. I stepped outside and did a mobile order for the food to get that out of the way. I then grabbed a mug and joined a line the damn chili dog was ready before Id even gotten to the front of the line. When it was my turn, I asked about a box and the cast member wrapped the mug in paper before putting it into a cardboard gift box. The passholder discount saved us $5 (20%). I took the box, picked up the mobile order bag from the table over there and returned to the villa.

    SB enjoyed the chili cheese dog and washed it down with a beer from the fridge. I had a few cracker/salami/cheese snacks and a glass of wine while watching General Hospital. Chris texted a little after 4 saying they were getting off the monorail at Epcot. I thought wed wait a bit, but SB was ready to head out the door. The park was mobbed, as expected. We sat on a bench and waited for the Hollands to check out the fish in Nemo and then come back to meet us.

    We started walking around and stopped in Mexico at the Cantina. SB went inside and came back with 3 margaritas 2 mango and 1 lime. He was the only one who wanted a margarita though! Chris took one of the mango ones and Amanda & I each had a little bit of the lime margarita. Once the guys had finished half of theirs, I dumped the lime into each of their glasses to give them a combo margarita.

    We didnt get food from any of the Food & Wine booths since the lines were absolutely insane. It was very crowded walking around World Showcase as well. We saw lines that were unlike anything wed ever seen, and it wasnt even Saturday! As we approached America it was only 15 minutes until the first Big Bad Voodoo Daddy concert would start so we stood outside the theater along the back rope. The theater looked full, so no point trying to go inside. SB had been talking about a turkey leg, so he & Chris disappeared and went over to the food/beer stand in America.

    They came back with 2 beers, 2 popcorns and Chris had a turkey leg! We watched about half of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy then headed back towards China to get Ari dinner. He loves the orange chicken there and last night after the kids meal he said he was still hungry. Tonight, Amanda got him the adult portion and he ate almost all of it. Since the F&W lines were so bad, I got an orange chicken for us, which SB & I shared. He really liked it and even he said it was too much food for one person! But, thats after a big beer, 2 margaritas and a thing of popcorn, lol!

    By now I was feeling pretty stuffed. We headed out and turned back to pass Morocco for Chris to get baklava. SB had mentioned the soft swirl ice cream, so we stopped in America again for him to get a cone. I think they gave him salted caramel instead of vanilla, but it was still good. I ate the last bit of it. It was so humid out the ice cream melted quickly.

    In Morocco (at the stand across from the stage) Chris bought 5 pieces of Moroccan pastry 4 baklava and an orange cake. He brought those back to the villa, so we headed out of the crazy busy park. Once in the nice cool villa Ari used the cookie decorating kit to make 4 Day of the Dead cookies. He used the orange icing and added candy balls, sprinkles & some other small candy. They turned out nice and tasted pretty good too. Hes got 12 more to make later and at home.

    Amanda ordered up a burger from Ale & Compass and was surprised to see a dvc discount appear. She wondered how that happened, since shes not a member. Maybe they somehow know from this room? She & Chris went down to pick up the food while I watched Ari decorate the last 2 cookies. He then watched some Disney stuff on tv while I finished up the report.

    Today was a nice relaxing day. The ridiculously high heat was a disappointment, along with the terrible crowds in Epcot and the other parks today. Thank goodness were here often and this isnt a once in a lifetime or once every great while trip! Topolino breakfast was excellent. Its not something Ill do very often but it was nice to try. The quiet pool was a very nice surprise other than being slightly less convenient to the Villas I liked it better than our quiet pool. It was nice touring Epcot tonight even though we werent able to enjoy any of the Food & Wine Festival due to the crowds.

    Tomorrow the Hollands head to Magic Kingdom for a short time and then will meet us at Disney Springs for lunch. SB & I will have a lazy morning and hopefully some pool time after lunch.

    DAY 3 Saturday 11/11/23
    Who: Sue (65), DVC Member
    SB (66), my husband
    Chris (37), my son
    Amanda (35), my daughter-in-law
    Ari (7), my grandson
    Plan: Pool, Terralina lunch, Resort

    Actual: I slept well last night. We were both up around 5 and SB said he coughed a lot last night. Thankfully I didnt hear him (he was in living room) and hopefully the others didnt either. At 5:30 a.m. it was already 75 degrees outside and theyre saying another record-breaking heat day. Pool time in the afternoon isnt looking very likely, but well see.

    The Hollands were up by 7 and threw in a load of laundry. I added a couple of my tops to the load things that air dry and Ill want to pack tomorrow for the HAL cruise. I let them know there were eggs in the refrigerator, and they cooked some breakfast. I always hard boil eggs for Ari before leaving home and write his name on them with a sharpie. This trip I brought 2 since one day we had the Topolinos breakfast.

    I cooked my egg and slice of bacon while Chris cooked their eggs. I also microwaved the rest of the bacon for them. Ari ate both of his hard-boiled eggs. There are 2 eggs left, which they can cook for their breakfast tomorrow. They eventually headed out for Magic Kingdom, planning to leave there by 10:30 to walk to Contemporary to catch a bus to Disney Springs.

    SB wanted hot chocolate, so I made him some and then he decided to walk down to Beach Club Marketplace for breakfast. He came back with the bounty platter, and although I wasnt hungry, I ate his Mickey waffle. After that he went back to watching tv and I put on my sneakers and went out for a walk around Crescent Lake.

    It was a nice walk, but very humid out there! The gingerbread lighthouse inside Yacht Club lobby is completed now and I also checked out the Swan/Dolphin Food & Wine Classic. They have some big generators off to the side to provide power to the sites and quite a few food/wine stations. I could identify some of the wineries, but nothing had the food items posted. My initial thought was theres hardly any tables and seating, but then I saw they set up several tables w/chairs next to Swan near the spot they rent out for weddings. Still, thats pretty far from the food/wine booths in my opinion. Maybe youre not supposed to sit at this event?

    I got back to the villa a little after 9 and spent time looking at various options for this time next year. There are no good options, so it comes down to whether we can make something work or not. NJ week sucks. The holiday is on a Monday next year. My park pass is no good on weekends. Ari is in school. I have important meetings on Tuesdays starting at 8:30. If Aris school has a teacher duty day the Friday before the holiday it could work to arrive Thursday (then wed have 1 day with them in Epcot on Friday, except itll be horrifically crowded and we may not get to do much) but Im not sure I want to spend a ton of points over the whole weekend. Well see I have about a month to figure it out.

    SB took his shower and was ready to go just after 10. We went down the stairs and walked across to the bus stop, where the sign said the next bus to Disney Springs would arrive at 10:24. It later changed to 10:22 and thats exactly when it pulled up. People were already onboard from Yacht Club and after our stop we also stopped at Boardwalk.

    At Disney Springs I had to get my bearings on where to find Gideons (I usually drive and park in the Orange Garage) but that didnt take long. The line was wrapped all the way around the corner along Morimoto Asia, so clearly the virtual queue was not open yet. It was only 10:45 and the person working said they open the virtual queue to keep the line from blocking access to other businesses and Morimoto (the first one) doesnt open until 11:30 so they just monitor it. The wait at this time was 1.25 hours in the hot sun! No cookie is worth that so we walked up the street and decided to get a drink at the bar inside Boathouse while waiting.

    This ended up being a good choice! It was busy already (brunch) but we got 2 seats at the bar. SB got a strawberry margarita (not frozen from a machine) and I had a glass of sauvignon blanc. People on either side of us were nice & friendly. Around 10 after 11 SB was ordering another magarita and I left him to go check on Gideons. I could see the virtual queue had started so waited in line for that and was told it would be about 60 minutes. I mentioned our lunch reservation and they said just dont delete the text message and come on over after lunch! I rejoined SB at Boathouse. The bartender noticed my birthday button and brought me a cupcake on a plate that had Happy Birthday written on it in chocolate.

    The Hollands left a ridiculously busy Magic Kingdom and walked over to Contemporary to catch the bus to Disney Springs. In 2 hours at the park, they were able to do the Jungle Cruise, Tron (with boarding group #1) and the People Mover. They said it was pretty awful in there (crowds). Back at Boathouse SB ordered a third margarita and the Firecracker Shrimp our neighbors raved about. I was still nursing my glass of wine. Soon we saw Chris & family arrive, with Ari sound asleep. Chris eventually set him down because he was getting heavy as dead weight! I got a box for the cupcake thinking Ari would eat it later. We settled the check and walked over to Terralina for lunch. After a brief wait, we were seated.

    No sooner had we sat down when the text from Gideons came in. We ordered lunch a beer for SB (he drank half or less), glass of wine for me, Arnold Palmer (half lemonade, half iced tea) for Chris and water for Amanda. For food Ari had the kids spaghetti & meatballs, SB had the adult version of that, I had the margherita pizza, Amanda had the kids pepperoni pizza and Chris got a small Caesar salad w/chicken breast. Everything was excellent! We ended up with half my pizza, one of SBs meatballs and some of Aris spaghetti in to go boxes. Hed eaten some of the pepperoni pizza (loved it) so didnt have room for all the spaghetti.

    The birthday credits in the Levy loyalty club changed from $25 to $15 this year, so we got those deducted for Amanda and me. SB bought lunch for everyone, wanting to treat his family.

    We walked over towards Gideons and left SB on a shady bench with the bag of leftovers while the rest of us joined the queue. Friends of Chris & Amanda who live up here were there so they joined us in line. Once inside we all got some treats Chris got a piece of the cake of the month too. I got a bag of the Bites because they were the pistachio toffee chocolate chip that I love, a banana bread chocolate chip cookie for me, coffee cake cookie for Holli and triple chocolate for SB.

    Once back outside we said goodbye to Chris friends and headed to the bus stop. There were quite a few people already waiting but it still took a while for a bus to come. Eventually it did and then it sat there filling up until people were standing throughout. After a stop at Yacht Club, we got off at Beach Club and went up to the villa. SB laid down to watch tv and possibly nap, the Hollands went to Stormalong Bay, and I updated the report. It was after 3 by the time we got back to the resort, so I didnt bother with the quiet pool.

    While they were at Stormalong Bay some ducks or birds flew in and were swimming in the pool with everyone. Amanda said the kids were loving it! Eventually it started to rain a bit so they came up to the villa to get cleaned up & dressed for dinner. They headed into Epcot for orange chicken in China (Ari) and pulled pork sliders in Hawaii (Amanda). I left right after them for another walk around Crescent Lake.

    It was unbelievably humid/muggy out there. My hands were immediately sticky and although it wasnt hot in temperature it wasnt very pleasant. The sun had almost set so I took several photos as I walked around its always so pretty at dusk. The Food & Wine Classic was going full swing over at Swan & Dolphin. They had lots of people there, covering a very big area. A band was playing over by the Dolphin and lights/images were being projected onto the building. Sometimes theyd be stationary and other times theyd move. It didnt seem to be synchronized with the music or anything like that.

    I also saw a wedding on the viewpoint near Boardwalk. I felt bad for the bride, having such miserable weather for her outdoor wedding ceremony (in November, no less). It was a little after 6 when I got back to the villa and asked SB if he was still getting the half-roasted chicken dinner from Beach Club Marketplace. He wanted it but didnt want to walk down to get it, so I agreed to get it. I tried mobile order, forgetting that for whatever reason the chicken doesnt appear on the menu. I had to walk down there and order it in person thankfully it wasnt busy tonight. It was ready in just a few minutes, and I brought it back upstairs for him to eat at the dining table. He couldnt quite finish it, so I had a few bites of chicken breast and mashed potatoes. Its a good meal!

    After dinner he moved to the couch, figuring he & Chris would watch the UF football game tonight. I moved into the bedroom and got comfortable under the covers while I finished up the report, watched HGTV and waited for 8pm for 90 Day Fiance to start. Were in for the night, and the Hollands were back a little after 7. We hung out together in the living room for a while. They said Epcot was really busy but not as bad as yesterday. Ari ate the adult orange chicken and Amanda got her pork sliders, so it worked out well.

    Ari had gotten a cake pop from the hot chocolate booth in the lobby, so he ate most of that. It was actually three cake pops on a stick, dipped in white chocolate and decorated as a snowman. It was cute! He then got the cupcake from Boathouse but before he could eat any of that he complained he was feeling too full. Little wonder! He went into their bedroom and at some point, must have hit the emergency button on the phone. They called back and Chris heard the phone ringing in the other room, so Amanda went to answer it. It was someone with the hotel asking if we were ok and what was the emergency. She had no idea, but they explained someone hit the emergency button. That someone could only be Ari as the rest of us were accounted for in the living room. Amanda apologized and assured them there was no emergency.

    Chris & Amanda ate the cake slice they got at Gideons and said the cake and the icing was fantastic. They dont have a way of getting it home, so they had to eat it all. I was no help because Chris had given me the last Moroccan pastry a piece of pistachio baklava and I needed to finish that. It was very good! By 7:45 everyone retreated to their spaces. Chris was going to watch the game from bed so I helped SB pull down and get organized on the murphy bed then went into the bedroom with a glass of wine to watch 90-Day Fiance.

    Today was a pretty laid-back relaxing day, especially for SB & me. The Hollands were busier. The time at the Boathouse was fun, and lunch at Terralina was excellent. The great timing with Gideons was the icing on the cake! Again, the weather sucked too hot, too humid. This is not normal for November at all. I did decide to do the trip again next year, so maybe well have better luck in November 2024.

    Tomorrow the Hollands head to Hollywood Studios before going home. SB & I head to breakfast at the Rainforest Caf at Animal Kingdom before going home.

    DAY 4 Sunday 11/12/23
    Who: Sue (65), DVC Member
    SB (66), my husband

    Plan: Rainforest breakfast, Drive to Gainesville

    Actual: We all slept well again, and never heard the fireworks testing that was set to occur late last night. SB & I were up around 5 and the others were dressed and packed up by 7. I made my cappuccino but no breakfast since we have an 8:30 reservation at Rainforest Caf. Chris cooked the last 2 eggs for Aris breakfast. We brought their stuff and some of our stuff out to the cars and then said our goodbyes just before 7:30. Theyll ride the skyliner over to the Studios and spend some time there until lunch and the drive home. Its been nice having them here with us.

    SB got up and took his shower around 7:30. I packed up the cooler and we headed to the car by 7:45. Its been years since I drove to a park, but we found our way into the Animal Kingdom parking lot without any trouble. Parking is now $30 if not staying in a Disney Resort or not an annual passholder. We were fortunate to be parked just a few cars from the beginning of the row, but then I wasnt sure if the trams were running. We didnt see any, and most of the other guests were walking in the other direction. We assumed that meant there were no trams and started walking that way to reach the park.

    The park was already open, but we breezed right through security. While walking over I checked out of the resort and once at Rainforest I was able to check in there. We browsed in the shop until they opened and were the second party seated. Our server was terrific.

    SB ordered orange juice and I stuck with ice water. They no longer have breakfast sliders on the menu, which is what I used to order. There are quite a few choices though. I went with the eggs benedict, which was excellent but huge. It came with breakfast potatoes. SB got the breakfast with 2 eggs, bacon or sausage, breakfast potatoes and toast. He also ate my second benedict. I used my birthday credit here and they brought out a birthday cupcake and sang to me a bit early (and too full) for a cupcake but I appreciate the thought!

    We settled the check and headed out, spotting a tram unloading guests. It left just before we got there so we waited for the next one. Theyre only making one stop for Dinosaur and Peacock lots. If youre in Unicorn you walk. We were in Peacock, so it worked out well for us. It was an easy drive home we left Disney just after 9:30 and were home by 11:30. Now its time to get ready for the cruise!

    This was a really great trip. I wont ignore the fact that the weather was miserable (too hot) and it was too crowded to do as much as wed normally like to do. However, weve all been so often its not the end of the world if we can only do a few things each day. The resort was fabulous and the best possible choice. The villa location was ideal, Ari got to enjoy Stormalong Bay, and Epcot was a short walk for all of us.

    Food at the Food & Wine Festival was excellent again its a shame the long lines meant we couldnt sample more than we did. Im glad we tried Topolino for breakfast and I agree the food is excellent there. The price will still keep me away most of the time, since character interaction isnt something I care about and $100+ for breakfast for 2 just seems ridiculous. We might do it again for a special occasion, but not when its just us.

    It was fun at Boathouse and that really is a great restaurant! We both like it and Ill have to book that more often. Terralina was also excellent, as was breakfast this morning. I asked SB which was his favorite of our three recent breakfasts (Trattoria at BWV, Topolino or Rainforest Caf) and surprisingly he said Rainforest Caf. Go figure! My top pick would be Trattoria al Forno.

    Now I need to get busy packing & getting ready for the upcoming HAL cruise w/Holli & Fran. Were spending Friday night in Vero and then board the ship Saturday for 11 nights. That trip report will go out to people on the HAL cruise list, which includes many people here. After that Ill be back at BCV for a long weekend December 7th.

    Sue (Holland) Rayford

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