3 generation trip with celiac and shared deluxe dining plan

Hi all, I did a long shenkel list in the Lines app during our trip but want to record here as well now that we are home. Some overall thoughts before I do a day by day recap.
The players:
1 and 2. my parents (“Mom” and “Dad”), who are in their mid-70s. Mom has had 2 knee replacements and survived ovarian cancer, but walks daily at home and does water aerobics. Dad has a million health issues and spent time on the trip scheduling various doctor’s appts for when he got home, but plays tennis daily at home. Spoiler, they were huge troopers despite me pushing them maybe a little too much.
3 and 4. Me and my wife. I’m overweight but bike commute daily with a preschooler so am at least aerobically fit. Wife has diagnoses of celiac (so has to be very strictly gluten-free), chronic fatigue syndrome, had pancreatitis and her gallbladder out in January, and is allergic to banana, avocado, melon, and can’t eat eggs as a primary ingredient in anything. The hardest thing was actually the gallbladder. She can’t eat raw veggies, is limited in which cooked veggies she can have, and can’t have much in the way of fatty/greasy/fried foods. It was tough for her to find gluten free food that was low-fat without being raw.
5 and 6. Kiddos DS 3 and DD 7. No allergies, except that DD3 believed he was allergic to walking and wanted to be in the stroller or carried constantly. DD7 did great except was a little picky about food.

Based on my daughter’s camp schedule, we could only go in June or August, and my father’s work schedule made August better. We stayed in 2 rooms at Pop Century because Pixie Dust and Pirate Hooks had a special rate there. We considered off-site for the space and full kitchen, but I wanted to share the deluxe dining plan so my father wouldn’t gasp at the prices (too much) for the fancy meals I wanted to do.

We ended up with 2 6-night reservations under PDPH’s special rate and 2 1-night reservations at some awful rate to get us the dates we wanted. I did a room request through TP, and ranked as my priorities: 1. Not needing to change rooms for the 1 night stay, 2. Connecting rooms, 3. Lake-view, 4. 1st floor, but wrote that I understood it was unlikely all of those could be honored. So when we got 4th floor, courtyard view (just realizing I forgot to take a photo of the view…oops), but connecting rooms that didn’t require moving for our last night, I was happy. 4th floor ended up being great because we always got in the elevator with our giant double stroller. 2nd and 3rd floor guests sometimes couldn’t squeeze on.

We arranged the rooms to have 1 room with 3 adults and 1 room with 1 adult and 2 kids. The extra adult fee of $15/night was far cheaper than doing 2 adults/1 kid on the deluxe dining plan, and we didn’t need the credits of having 4 people on the dining plan.

I bought a double Citi Mini off of fb marketplace for $100 before our trip. I managed to get it stuck in an opening bus door, and my 3 year old expanded a hole in the fabric, but I imagine I could still sell it for $70 or so. For now it’s in my basement until we figure out if we will ever need a double stroller again. Review: the double Citi mini was a huge pain on the bus. So glad we didn’t have the GT double citi mini. On our previous Disney trip, we had used a double mcclaren umbrella stroller, which folded up SO much smaller and I think may have been lighter, too. Sadly we had given it away and couldn’t borrow it back for this trip. Despite the bulk, the stroller was comfortable enough that both kids fell asleep in it. The under-seat storage was tough to access, but the back pockets were easy and good for waterbottles, sunscreen, and the shower curtain we used as a rain cover. That was a tip I had seen on FB–a target brand clear shower curtain ($2) and some big plastic laundry clips from dollar general made for a terrific rain cover. More coverage than the $60 one on amazon and fairly sturdy. Only issue was that DS3 thought the clips should just be used for clipping his nose shut…haha

Overall schedule:
Saturday August 10 Arrive
Sunday Aug 11 Magic Kingdom
Monday Aug 12 Blizzard Beach + Artist Pt
Tuesday Aug 13 Epcot
Wed Aug 14 rest day/Disney Springs/ Sana’a
Thurs Aug 15 Hollywood Studios
Friday Aug 16 Animal Kingdom
Saturday August 17 depart.

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August 10, arrival day.
Our flight from Philadelphia was delayed because of broken AC on the plane. We knew we would no longer have time to do the character warehouse and a Publix trip before my parents’ later flight from Pittsburgh arrived. So I ordered groceries through Amazon Prime (really Whole Foods). Tried to meet the delivery driver to avoid the package charge but missed the call. Still not sure if we got charged or if it was per bag or one overall charge. All the charges went to my wife’s account (she was the one listen on the room with the dining plan) but I’m the only one with a MDE account–this was a pain in the neck throughout our stay but she never figured out how to create an MDE account for herself and I never got around to making her one myself. The groceries were fine, though.
We went to the Character Warehouse and found moderate success. Everybody found something to buy and we got some presents to take home. Later, we were totally unsuccessful in limiting souvenirs to what we had bought at the character warehouse, though, so it just felt like an extra way to spend money. I would skip in the future, though my family may outvote me.

Wanted to order pizza but it was getting late so we just went to the Pop food court and bought (using credit card, not dining credits) a whole pizza for the gluten-eaters and salmon for the celiac. Both were pretty good. Pizza $18, so less than delivery would have been, and much faster.

Tried to get kids to bed early-ish but walked by Goofy’s Campfire S’mores on the way back to the room. Of course we stopped. A bag of marshmallows was $1 for 8 marshmallows–a very inexpensive treat! A s’mores kit for I think 8 s’mores was $5 but the graham crackers had gluten so we skipped that.

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Day 2, Magic Kingdom. Sunday August 11, 2019.
We had a PPO BOG reservation. I wanted to be first in the restaurant, which we didn’t manage, but we were probably the 6th or 7th family in line and then some of them hadn’t pre-ordered so we were maybe 3rd in the dining room! Unfortunately DD7 managed to get her hair terribly tangled in our misting fan while we were waiting to be let in to eat. Cue hungry, crying child, plus irritated parents who had wanted her to be careful and keep it away from her hair… Eventually we got her hair out of the fan. She was still crying and a kind CM asked us if she had any allergies. When we said no, she brought out a small plate of the gray stuff shaped like a Mickey head. Nobody at our table actually liked the gray stuff, it turned out, but DD7 appreciated the attention and the thought (we all did, really).
We ordered:

  1. Feast á la Gaston. Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Sausage, and Roasted Potatoes served with Fresh Fruit. Nobody liked the potatoes but the rest got eaten quickly.
  2. Gluten Free: Assorted Cured Meats and Cheese Alpine-smoked Ham, Serrano Ham, Soppressata, and Cheese served with Marmalade and Fresh Fruit on a Toasted Baguette–Toasted Baguette became “Loaf of Millet Bread.” This was fine, not super-amazing but I wasn’t expecting it to be. There just wasn’t much my wife could eat at BoG. My wife doesn’t eat pork, but she ate the cheese and bread with jam, as well as some of the tray of gluten-free pastries. I had brought ziplocks, so the rest went in a ziplock we carefully labeled Gluten Free.
  3. Open-Faced Bacon and Egg Sandwich* Poached Eggs, Applewood-smoked Bacon, and Brie on a Toasted Croissant served with Fresh Fruit. This was the best entree we ordered. There was a slice of tomato with it as well as crunchy lettuce, and the whole thing was fantastic. I shared this with my mom but would have been happy to eat it all myself.
  4. Vegetable Quiche. Mushroom, Zucchini, Bell Pepper, Onion, Goat Cheese, and Chive Quiche served with Fresh Fruit. This was bad. It was very bland and just didn’t taste good. We tried to eat it with bits of the salami from the gluten free entree, but even then it just wasn’t good. We left this. Luckily they had brought 2 trays of regular pastries so it was fine.
    Note: We ordered 3 chocolate milks and 1 coffee with the breakfasts, but the CMs told us to go up to the bar and get whatever hot or cold drinks we wanted. So we did and took the milks with us.

My mom, wife, and DD7 then got in line for 7DMT. It was an EMM day so they didn’t get to ride until exactly 9. We took a while to eat so they were probably around #40 or so in line (getting in line about 8:45). I tried to set up rider swap but was told they couldn’t do that until the park actually opened, but that they would remember me. My Dad, DS3, and I then tried to go to Winnie the Pooh, but they wouldn’t let us line up early. They did, however, let us play in the little house.

At 9, we rode Winnie the Pooh. We then rode it again while waiting for the 7DMT riders. Finally we got to switch but the CM who said she would remember us was gone. They let us do rider swap anyway after I described her.

Wife, my Dad, and DS3 wandered off and rode the carousel while we did 7DMT. Getting everyone back in one location, with the stroller, was far more challenging than it should have been. My wife and I realized that we couldn’t rely on my parents to help with communication, like about how I had moved the stroller after breakfast to a more convenient location–they were just following us and never mentioned to my wife that she was looking for the stroller in the wrong place. Ugh. Anyway, lost some time there, but wife, Dad, and DS3 did get to ride the carousel with the stepsister! DS3 was scared and rode the bench but my dad rode a horse.

We were now significantly behind our plan so DD7 agreed to skip Tomorrowland Speedway. DS3 and the grandparents did the speedway and wife, DD7, and I rode Space Mountain with a FP. Lots of fun. We did not attempt to rider swap this, as my parents weren’t interested in riding it.

We then all enjoyed the people mover. It’s such a great ride.

We then walked across the park as quickly as possible. The heat index was 105 so we were dying even though it was only about 10am. My mom, DD7, and I did Splash Mountain. I thought we would do Rider Swap, but nobody else wanted to ride! That at least put us back on schedule. We did do rider swap for BTMRR. We had 3 FPs for it but thanks to RS 4 of us got to ride it and 2 ppl 2x. That was fun. My dad still refused to ride, even though we had gotten a RS for him. He and DS3 instead shared a snack, looked for ducks, and watched the riverboat. I encouraged them to check out TSI or at least the raft, but they didn’t really want to move. It was SO hot. My dad has some gastrointestinal issues and spent some time checking out the bathrooms in Tomorrowland and again in Frontierland. DS3 also checked out every bathroom in the park, I believe.

We were all happy to take an AC break with Skipper Canteen. The steak there was maybe the best meal of our whole trip, though the rack of lamb was also very good. The kids love dumplings, but did not like the dumpling appetizer I had ordered for them. The dumpling meat was a little spicy. I liked it, but we don’t eat pork at home and so maybe they just weren’t used to it. The sauce was spicy but the CM was able to get them some plain soy sauce instead. DD7 ate a few. DS3 ate our steak instead (cry…). Both kids really loved the fancy drink we got that had boba bubbles in it.

After lunch we all enjoyed our FP for Jungle Cruise. I told the CMs that my father is hard of hearing, and they had us wait for the next boat so we could sit near the skipper. That made such a difference, and we all could hear the jokes. This was a big hit for all of us. My dad tells tons of puns, and it was nice to share these ones. I had hoped Skipper Canteen would be similar, but it was too loud for my dad to hear anything the waitress said, even though we were in the back room where it was slightly quieter.

I managed to get a 4th FP for 3 ppl to Magic Carpets. I sent my dad and the kids on it, but DS3 flipped out when I tried to get out of line and leave him with my dad. The kind CM (a theme here) let me stay with him even though I couldn’t get a FP. CM said as long as the majority of ppl have Fps, it’s fine. I assume that it only true on rides like Magic Carpets, but who knows. Anyway, it was fun. Wife was exhausted and fell asleep in the stroller while waiting for us.

This is where I messed up. I should have followed my optimized plan, which said to go ride the carousel then watch the parade, but we had 35 minutes and ETWB was listed at a 10 minute wait, so I decided we should try it. This was wrong. We waited 20 minutes and then I said we should bail because we were going to miss the parade. We hightailed it back to the parade but by the time we got there (3 exactly), Maleficent had just gone by and we only saw the final balloon. I was super sad and kids were upset, too. I had managed to make us waste time in line for an attraction we didn’t do, and then we missed the parade. Then we realized my Dad was missing.

I sent my mom, wife, and kids back to ETWB and told them I would find my dad. I called him and he couldn’t hear me, but he told me where he was and I caught up to him–he had followed the parade for some reason. We went back to ETWB but the rest of the family hadn’t realized I wanted them to wait there (maybe I never said it) and had gone in without us. I was so sad about all of this and just sat and cried. This is ridiculous in retrospect, but I really wanted to see the kids in the show, and everything was falling apart, and I was just sad.

Eventually they emerged and we tried to start over. We rode the carousel. We tried to go to barnstormer but Lines said 85 minute wait and the CM said 25 minutes. We weren’t willing to wait at all, so after a few minutes of cooling off in the water area over there, we went to Dumbo instead. The play area was open but they weren’t requiring it. However, my kids really wanted to play, so we let them do that for a while. Eventually we rode Dumbo and I felt better. That was the first chance I’d had all day to be alone with my wife, too-- the big group was hard to manage and I was struggling. Dumbo was a good break.

After Dumbo, we got another FP for Small World. Everyone liked that. Then we rode Under the Sea with another FP (#6). This was fine except my Dad had trouble getting into the shell and hurt his foot. He had tried to use the bar to get in but the bar moves and he kind of collapsed. He limped for days. I felt so bad.

After that we tried to ride the People Mover again but it had been down and so had a long line. We decided just go to dinner. We had an ADR at Crystal Palace, which was beautiful and the characters were fun. DD7 decided she didn’t like any of the food, though, which was challenging. She used to eat anything, but now she won’t eat most meat because she says it’s hard to chew with her loose teeth, she’s fussy about mushy foods, and just generally annoying-ness. She finally condescended to eat olives, shrimp, and Mac and cheese. Whatever. This was our first character meal, and the kids were just wild with excitement over it. They barely ate anything because of the excitement, anyway.
I enjoyed my meal, but in retrospect, it was probably the worst of our trip. Okay roast beef. Good green beans and rolls. I liked the dirt pudding dessert. (Rabbit’s garden dessert).

After dinner my parents went back to the hotel. We went to Haunted Mansion because I had wanted to go all day. This was maybe a terrible idea but I really wanted to see it. DD7 talked herself into being terrified and spent the whole ride and most of the waiting period crying. This was even after skipping the stretching room. DS3 didn’t hide his face at all and just sat there being scared. Afterward he told me it was too much for him. Sorry kid… By the time we were off the ride it was 8:45 and my wife and DS3, who had planned to leave before fireworks, couldn’t get out of the park. So we parked our stroller just off the bridge from Frontierland toward the hub, and had a decent if semi-obstructed view of HEA! I loved it. It started to rain partway through and DD7 wanted her poncho, but I couldn’t get it with DS3 on my shoulders. DS3 had earphones on because he is sensitive to loud noises, so I couldn’t even really get his attention. So I told her to deal. She dealt. My wife’s shoulders took several days to recover from a 45 lb DD7 on her during the fireworks, but there was no other way she could have seen. I was lucky that our stroller was in front of me and then another stroller, so there was a big gap in which to view things even though I am very short. The thing that looks like a mausoleum was just to our left, and people were avoiding that because of the obstruction (until it rained and people wanted shelter). Anyway, not a bad spot for a zero minute wait before fireworks.

Getting out of the park was awful–hot with ponchos, wet, crowded. We went through stores but it was still awful. I know the advice is to wait but the kids were exhausted and so were we. Happily, when we finally got to the busses, the Pop buses were just running one after another. DS3 was asleep in the stroller but he stayed asleep through being carried onto the bus, the ride, getting off the bus, back into the stroller, and into bed. We had put him back in pull-ups for the week despite his general prowess with the toilet (mostly because he never knows he has to go until he absolutely has to go right that second), and this was a time we were really grateful for the pull-up. No need to wake him before putting him to bed.

DD7 stayed awake for the ride home, but barely. It was a terrific first park day, but we were all very, very tired. My wife had pushed herself a lot, and she showed it.

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I followed a lot of this on the app but love the detail here. That pic of your son wrapped around Piglet’s arm with that huge smile - precious! Adorable family!

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Day 3–Blizzard Beach. Monday, August 12.

We took it easy in this day after such a big day at Magic Kingdom. My wife felt awful so decided to stay in bed rather than come with us to the waterpark. We were sad but I wanted her to be able to join us for the rest of the week. We weren’t sure if it was going to be a full day at the waterpark or only a few hours and then break before our 5:20 Artist Point reservation. In retrospect, with transportation time it was silly to think we could take a break if we hadn’t left our room until 10.

We at breakfast in the hotel room and made sandwiches to take with us for lunch. I was very worried about using up our credits too soon (hahaha).

We took the bus from Pop to Blizzard Beach. Blizzard Beach shares a line waiting area with AK, but not a bus. So I was happy when after about 10 min, a bus for Blizzard Beach showed up. Unfortunately the bus then went to Art of Animation to pick up more people. By the time we made it to Blizzard Beach, it was about 11. I had oh-so-carefully grabbed my wife’s magic band so I could use it to order food at the waterpark, but realized at the gate that I had not grabbed my own magic band. I contemplated sending my parents and the kids into the park while I went back to Pop to retrieve my magic band, but decided to see if Guest Services could help. Thankfully, I had my photo ID with me (to show proof of age for alcohol!) and other people from my room with bands so it was very easy and guest services just gave me a card to swipe. They also gave my kids some temporary tattoos of celebration buttons, randomly.

We went in and found tons of chairs, even in the shade. I had been very worried about that, but the park wasn’t crowded at all. We spent a while setting up our gear, sunscreening, and trying some waterproof cell phone cases we had found. I wanted to do slides first but everybody else just wanted the wave pool.

So we did wave pool for a bit until I could convince them to do the chairlift up to steamboat springs. The chairlift was a little tricky for my dad but they did slow it down for him to get on (but not off!). The chairlift stopped for about 10 min 2/3 of the way up the slope. DD7 is scared of heights so I had to talk her through this. It felt like an hour but she survived. DD3 didn’t care. I had visions of having to climb ladders to get off somehow. Finally the chairlift restarted. By the time we had gotten to the top, much of the line at steamboat springs had dwindled due to the lack of people coming up the lift! So we only waited about 10 minutes.

I loved the ride but my dad ended up backwards for most of it and was terrified. That turned out to be our only slide for the day. :astonished:

DD7 really wanted to do the zipline in the tween area. The line looked reasonably short for this but moved SO slowly. At least 15 -20 minutes. There’s a max height of 60" that the lifeguard was very strictly enforcing. However, I’m 5’ 1/2" and made it on!! I was excited to finally have being so short come in handy. DD7 then climbed all over the fake icebergs while my mom, DS3, and I swam nearby. My dad was apparently attempting to find our stuff and getting lost. When we realized he hadn’t come back, we tried to call him but couldn’t. He had taken his hearing aids out for the water, so he couldn’t hear the phone. We tried to text him but without his glasses, he couldn’t read his texts. Eventually I found him and we all went to watch the kids play in the tiny kid area. They liked it.

We ate our sandwiches and went back in the wave pool. It was more crowded by now (approx 1:30pm) in the wave pool. We talked about slides but a big storm cloud was overhead and I didn’t want to go all the way to a slide to have it close down.

Then it started raining. My dad wanted to get out; I wanted to stay in. We stayed in for a bit but when the rain got harder, we went for our covered chairs. I had not thought to bring the stroller rain cover for this day, nor our ponchos (but I cared more about the stroller; we were already wet).
We hung out under cover for probably 30 minutes or so. I ran out to buy mini doughnuts during the storm, for fortification. The storm intensified and the lifeguards kicked everyone out of the pools. Lots and lots of people left. Eventually the rain lessened and I convinced my mom and DD7 to at least try the lazy river with me. DS3 did not want to get back in while it was still raining, so he stayed with my dad and played in the wet sand, totally content.

We enjoyed the lazy river 2/3 of the way around until the lifeguards told us there was more lightening nearby and we had to get out. At this point the rain had completely stopped and it seemed silly, but of course we listened. We rinsed off and changed for dinner with Snow White.

We took the bus to Wilderness Lodge. It stopped at Fort Wilderness first–neat place! Horses! Would love to stay at either Fort Wilderness or Wilderness Lodge someday. We got there about 4, very early, but my wife was also on her way to meet us and said she should be there by 4:30 (she had taken a bus from pop to MK, then the boat). So we checked in and asked if there was any way to eat earlier than our 5:20adr. We were still waiting for my wife, but she had told us she was on the boat. They said yes, and we were all ready…when my wife called to say she had ended up at the fort wilderness dock instead.

Boo.

She caught a boat to Wilderness Lodge eventually, but by then it was after 5 and they ended up not seating us until 5:40. We were all SO happy to see Wife, at least, after all day without her.


However, by the time wife got there and they sat us, DD7 was losing it. She hadn’t liked her sandwich at lunch and I hadn’t really thought about snacks besides the doughnuts. She was beyond consolation and it was not helped by the Artist Point menu, which she announced included nothing she was willing to eat.

We were finally seated. My wife was also super cranky because she had spent forever trying to get to us, and the allergy menu showed only one option that was gluten free and she didn’t want it. Wife was also supremely irritated at DD7 being picky, when at least she had options and wife didn’t. I wanted to leave them both behind… My parents were annoyed at both of them and wanted us to make DD7 stop. We would have if we could have…

At our request, Chef Jessica came out to speak to my wife about her allergies. She offered to make something that wasn’t gf on the adult menu but was on the kid menu (roast beef? fish? can’t remember) for my wife, which worked. She also got us a few shrimp and olives for hangry DD7. She wouldn’t eat the shrimp but returned to normal after the olives and our drinks were delivered. DD7 and I shared two of the kid potion drinks, which was fun.


I might have gone for alcohol but the drinks at WDW were strong and I wasn’t a big fan. I tasted the poison apple drink that my mom ordered and was glad it wasn’t mine.
Most of us had the roast beef. It was good but very fatty. I liked the popover that accompanied it, as well as the mushroom soup appetizer. DD7 and DS3 liked making their own honey butter and the fruits and veggies on the kid appetizer tray. DS3 got the kid steak and ate ALL of it. DD7 got the kid pasta and ate very little of it, but at least she stopped complaining. She ate some of the soup, the fruits and veggies, and my dad’s popover. Oh well.

Meeting characters was a hit despite the fragile moods. Wife had cheered up/calmed down and posed with Grumpy, making fun of her previous sourness.

Kids posed with everyone but I like this photo. We did a memory maker share so I don’t have those photos yet.

DS3 loved the caramel corn dessert. He may or may not have asked for popcorn every single day. But I didn’t realize you could use a snack credit for a smaller container of it and didn’t want to buy and carry around a bucket, so I pushed him off for most of the trip.

DD7 liked all the different desserts, as did I. I thought this meal combined good food with great theming in the food and characters. It was a challenging meal for our family due to our various issues but that was all us, and I would highly recommend this for most people if you are on the dining plan. My dad saw the prices and gasped and asked if we were really paying that much. I assured him we weren’t, but I understood his concern.

We took the boat back to MK and then the bus home. The bus was quick but waiting for the boat took forever. Deluxe transportation isn’t all it is cracked up to be. By the time we got to Pop, we were all exhausted, not how I wanted to go into the next day’s PPO at Epcot, but I didn’t have the kids’ car seat vests so Lyft wasn’t an option and I didn’t want to pay for a Minnie Van.

Overall, despite the rain and the hangry family members, it was still a good day. We were still at Disney. We’d had a good time at Blizzard beach. Wilderness lodge was pretty to walk around, and hanging out in their lobby, we met our only other LGBTQ family of the trip, a sweet pair of gay dads with a toddler.

Ours beds felt great, but we weren’t thrilled that housekeeping had never shown up. True, my wife had been in bed most of the day, but she hadn’t put a sign on the door and nobody ever came to try and clean while she was there. This will be repeated in future days…

Other notes:

  1. the dress DD7 is wearing, my mom made for my older sister to wear as a flower girl in my cousin’s wedding in 1987. DD7 loves it and my mom ended up taking it home with her to replace the elastic.
  2. DS3’s swim capris and shirt and DD7’s swim leggings were from land’s end clearance from the end of season. I paid $24 for all three pieces, and love them. DS3 is very opposed to sunscreen, so minimizing how much we have to put on him is great.
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Can’t wait for the part where you run into me on the 13th!!!

How many people did you ask if they were Liners before you found one?

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You were the only one! @MamaLuvsDisney asked me after she saw me optimizing a touring plan on my phone. I was really tempted to ask the woman next to me on Magical Express back to the airport, but at the end of someone’s trip, you really don’t want to crush them with the knowledge that they could have saved so much time and toured so much more sensibly… So I’ll never know.

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I have celiac disease, as does one of my kids. Thank you for all the menu details!

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Day 4, Epcot, August 13, 2019.

Today started off wonderfully, and (small spoiler) was pretty great all day long. The plan had been to hit the park hard in the AM, then return to the Pop Century food court for a late lunch after Test Track, take naps, and come back for dinner. It didn’t quite work out that way.

We began with a PPO breakfast at Garden Grill. We had a reservation for 4 at 8:35 and another reservation for 2 at 8:40, since I hadn’t been able to snag reservations together. We were let into Epcot at maybe 7:59am and I was a little worried because of the walk to the Land pavilion, but it was fine. A CM offered to park our stroller for us off to the side as we walked toward the Land–that was terrific. I had no idea they ever did that.
We were at Garden Grill by 8:10 or so and were seated immediately all together. We were probably the 2nd or 3rd family to be seated. My father managed to spill his coffee and my daughter her water. But we all loved the food and the family style dining, and the kids were totally in love with the characters. We had prepped them with some last minute Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers early that AM on our phones, since prior to the trip they hadn’t know about chip and dale at all. The slowly moving restaurant was also a hit! Looking back, this was most people’s favorite meal, even though it was so simple. My wife was thrilled to get gluten free mickey waffles, and the rest of us loved the sticky bun (wife got a boring Udis blueberry muffin, but ignored it in favor of the waffles). They brought special, melon-free fruit for my wife (just berries). There was chocolate syrup for the waffles! I thought breakfast in the hotel room made sense most days, but this was really terrific.

!
gluten free mickey waffles

They also brought us extra sausage because we ate so much of it. I liked the tater tots. The eggs were less awesome, but they were fine. They were eggs.

We left by 8:40 (the time of one of the original ADRs) and headed down to Soarin’. We did not feel rushed and I was surprised it was so early. There were lots of people coming into Garden Grill as we left and I felt bad for them. No way could they get on Soarin’. We might have sat around and picked at stuff if we didn’t have soarin’ waiting, but we were stuffed.
We set up Soarin’ rider swap and sent the first group in. Only one other family is waiting. The CM send both families directly to B1 and shocked, we start the ride. It’s so much faster when they only have to check one row of seat belts! After the ride I couldn’t help but ask if anyone in their party used Touring Plans or the Lines app. How else did they know to get here so early? As expected, the other family had a TP member— @douglar. They had also eaten at 8am at Garden Grill. I made him take a photo with me.
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We rider swapped Soarin’ and Livin’ with the Land. I almost got to go on Soarin’ 2x but DS3 was being very clingy and refused to do anything without a parent. So my parents each got to ride twice and my wife and I learned about agriculture. Oh well. After that and a bathroom break, we headed to Nemo. Wife peeled off to get Starbucks, missing Nemo. Nemo was about a 4 minute wait, and the adults barely thought it was worth that. Kids liked it, of course. I had allotted 30 minutes to look at the tanks and play in the mouth of the big shark, as those had been hits last year, but the kids were not at all interested. So hard to predict. We went to Crush, during which my father fell asleep and DS3 almost fell out of my lap with excitement (he had refused to go up front to sit with the other kids). A woman with a screaming toddler was next to us; she finally left. It’s such a challenging situation with an unhappy kid–if you leave, you can’t get back in, but your kid is miserable and so are the people around you. I felt for her but was really glad when she left and we could hear Crush better.

I don’t understand how they do Crush. There must be a person backstage/at a computer who controls Crush; I know that. But it seems SO perfect with the interactions. I enjoyed the show, although I would be fine never seeing it again, too.

Then we hit the Character Spot with a FP from that brief time it had been a Tier II FP. Thanks Liners for alerting me to that. Got some good photos. Really eagerly awaiting my PhotoPass pics. Wish I had them here since very few other people in my life will care, but if I wait any longer to write this up, I know I’ll never do it.

We were all a little hot and kvetchy after that so I suggested Club Cool. That was nice but my dad is a type 1 diabetic, and I hadn’t realized that none of the pops there are diet. So he was left out, boo.

Spaceship Earth was our 2nd FP. Last year I had a crying 2 year old, who was scared of all dark rides, on my lap, and I was not looking forward to this FP at all. I kept suggesting we skip it. This year he was fine, and I rode with my Mom anyway. She’s a retired sociologist and loved all the history. She said she’d like the ride to be at least 10x longer and more detailed. She goes on bus tours of historical sites for fun, so this makes sense. I did appreciate it more with her there, at least.

After Spaceship Earth it had started to rain lightly. Our TT Fps didn’t start for another 20 minutes, and while I knew they were highly likely to turn into anytimes, I was hesitant to head back to the hotel for our break without knowing for sure. Somehow people were hungry despite the amount of food we had eaten that morning, so we just went to Electric Umbrella. I mourned the delicious World Showcase food we weren’t eating, but a) very little of it is celiac-safe, and b) Electric Umbrella was ~ 30 feet away from where we were at the exit to Spaceship Earth. My wife still hadn’t downloaded my Disney experience so we couldn’t mobile order using the meal plan, plus I was still worried about credits. So I mobile ordered with my stored credit card for the actual food, and then stood in line to use the snack credits on drinks and a croissant doughnut. The croissant donut was DS3’s big request and he LOVED it (though he could only eat half. I didn’t object to this). Later, when asked about his favorite meal during the trip, he said it was the one where he got to eat a doughnut, 2 yogurt tubes (from other family members’ meals), and French fries (again scavenged from a different family member). So much for those expensive character meals…
Wife got allergy chicken tenders. I tasted one and thought it was good but she said they tasted okay at first but didn’t have a great mouth-feel. They were fine for a quick meal, though.
DD7 and my dad split a brisket sandwich with fries, which was delicious. It looked and tasted like a good Philly cheesesteak, minus the onions. My mom and I shared a little pizza, which was not at all delicious. Mostly were were just all happy to be fed and to have found a table and chairs in the madness that was Electric Umbrella at 12:30pm.

Our TT FPs had turned to anytime, but then in the app it showed the ride was back up. We walked over there and it was down again. We started to leave and then they let people in again. We tried to set up rider switch but by the time we got to the CM, the ride was closed again. This had been a lot of frustrating back and forth walking, and we decided to just leave and go take our naps. Both kids were asleep in the stroller as we walked toward the busses about 1:30. DD7 woke up halfway through the bus ride back to Pop, but DS3 didn’t wake up at all despite the transfers between stroller/being carried on the bus/stroller. We were glad to find out that the double citi mini just fit in the pop room (with both beds down) without being folded up. So we just reclined the stroller and he named for a few more hours. DD7, my wife, and my parents also napped. I futzed online and tried to figure out a new plan to get TT done.
We got back to Epcot at 4:20pm. There were evening extra magic hours that night, and we could tell that the park was significantly more crowded than it had been in the morning. At the gates I realized that my parents could still make Voices of Liberty if they hurried across the park, but my dad walks very slowly. I told them to try and sent them on their way with DS3 in the stroller. They made it and enjoyed the show, but I felt bad for how hard I had pushed my dad. I think he may have preferred taking it easy and going slowly to seeing the show in the end, but it’s hard to know those things in advance. He was tired and still limping from the Under the Sea ride incident at MK two days prior, but he refused to rent a scooter.
Wife, DD7, and I rushed off to TT for FP3. It was fun! DD7 loved designing our car. I felt a little bad my parents were missing it, but I think they would have hated the jerky motions of the car as well as the loud noises. DD7 wanted to go 2x but standby was posted at over 100 minutes, so, no.
We then walked to the American pavilion to meet my parents and DS3. I walked a little further and grabbed kakigori with condensed milk for all of us. It was delicious. We walked slowly back to Norway, where were had 3 FPs for frozen and an Ackershus reservation.

My parents and 1 kid rode FEA and we met Anna & Elsa, killing time until 6. Neither kid was willing to wear the Elsa hat whose hair I had painstakingly detangled the night before our trip. So I wore it, darn it!

At 6 exactly I went to check in at Ackershus and was told we had missed our reservation, that the reservation was actually at 5:20.

Yup.

This was bad.

DD7 starts sobbing. I start apologizing to everyone and breathing too quickly.

CM says, “We can’t get you in right now, but we could get you in at 6:15pm.”

Saved. OMG. We thank the CM profusely and sit down to wait.

DD7 loved. the princesses (DS3 liked them but not as much), but the food here was only ok. I really like Norwegian and Swedish food, but was disappointed with this dinner. I had the viking platter, but found the sausage to be full of gristle and inedible, and the salmon was bland. I ate the meatball and the mashed potatoes, but otherwise fill up on herring and smoked salmon from the salad bar. My parents, who had also ordered the viking mixed grill, were similarly unimpressed. We had dessert packed up to go along with most of our food, but we never ate most of the food we took back to the hotel that night. I did like the chocolate mousse and my dad liked the apple cake. Nobody liked the rice cream, but it was the only gluten free dessert so my wife ate it. DD7 had ordered pizza and brought most of it home, where she ate it cold for breakfast. I tasted it and thought it was awful but she liked it well enough. DS3 had ordered the beef medallions, which were just steak. He demolished it and there were no leftovers of it.
Here’s a photo of DD7 in her Aurora dress, which we dragged all the way to WDW for just this evening. I have no idea how some people manage these changes and fancy outfits so frequently!


and with Aurora.


After dinner we used the rider swap for FEA. This time it was me, my wife, and DS3. DD7 really wanted to ride again but it felt like we had been giving in to her on a lot of things to keep her happy, and the rest of us wanted to ride, too. So we said no, and she had to wait. But then we went through the FP line (now carrying a tired DS3) and then never scanned his band. And then I looked at his band and realized it wasn’t even the one that rider swap was on (because originally we hadn’t thought he would want to ride at all, thus getting the rider swap in the first place–he only changed his mind at dinner). So then we called my parents and had them send DD7 through the FP line with the band that still had the RS on it. So she got to ride after all and my patience lesson was missed. Oh well. She was thrilled.
My mom wanted to try and see Oh Canada, so she and my dad left and started walking that way. Unfortunately it was closed, so they had done even more walking for nothing. Wife, kids, and I had ridden Gran Fiesta Tour instead. A very large group cut ahead of us (1 person scooted ahead of us, and it was semi-ok, but then there turned out to be 15 people attached to that person, which was very annoying). My wife made a few passive aggressive comments, but the line moved fast. 12 minute wait–I timed it. DS3 loved the ride. He really liked Donald Duck. DD7 liked it well enough and was just happy to be in the Mexico pavilion and see the Coco stuff. She is in a Spanish immersion elementary school and gets very excited whenever she sees anything that relates to what she has learned at school about Day of the Dead or anything else.

When we got out it was almost time for Illuminations. My dad wanted to watch from as close to the spaceship as possible so we could exit more easily afterward. I wanted to be close to the water and also had promised the kids we could stay late if they took naps, which they had. We compromised on behind the FP viewing area, which had a pretty decent view and was still available shortly before Illuminations began. We liked the show, but compared to HEA it was disappointing. The show ended, my parents left, and we stood like coral in a school of fish, stuck in place while the crowds went past us. We tried to figure out what to do and I rued not having a plan for this! I had imagined we would walk around the world showcase, but we had already seen a lot of it and everything was closed after illuminations anyway. We had done all the rides we wanted to do…until I looked at the app and saw a 15 minute wait time for Soarin’. We rushed over there and the wait time had gone up to 25 min, but we set up rider swap and got in line anyway. I went first and gave my phone to DS3 so he could chill watching Thomas & Friends while DD7 and I rode. I have to say, the games in the Soarin’ line would have been a lot more fun if I’d had my phone and could have really participated. It still helped to pass the time in line, though. Wait was probably an actual time of 20 min. We then did rider swap and wife left her phone for DS3. I was surprised that their turn took just as long, even without the wait. Turned out they’d had technical difficulties and stopped the show part way through. They were worried they’d have to leave, but after a bit they just restarted it. So it was all fine in the end.

We burned some snack credits on ice creams leaving the park. We couldn’t agree on what to share, though, so each got something separate and then the children could barely eat half of what they’d requested. Of course these had gluten (ice cream sandwich and ice cream cone), so wife couldn’t eat them. I ate a lot of ice cream and ended up throwing some away. Better than than throwing up!

We left Epcot at 11:30 with a park closing time of 12. There were still a lot of people in the park, but the bus lines were long. It took at least 4 busses before we got on one. They didn’t come immediately after one another, but pretty close. DD3 had been asleep from the minute he passed me his ice cream and said he was all done, and DD7 was close to it. So we were fine.

We arrived back at Pop near 12:30 and passed out. Thank goodness the next day was a rest day.

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We heard a CM at Dinosaur saying this after a guy was shouting at him because his party who didn’t all have FPs weren’t let in - they were waiting for those who had got on and he saw him letting in another group who didn’t all have FPs.

The same day at FOP, the CM was trying to figure out if 2 or 3 of the group of 5 teens trying to get in had FPs, but I don’t know if that was just to know who to let in or if 3 of them did, he would have let them all in. We never saw them join the line behind us.

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I love that you wore the hat! I was constantly worried I had our meal times wrong, glad they could still fit you in. Lovely pics!

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I was shocked to be let in, but DS3’s death grip around my neck and wailing at me not to leave him may have helped. And I DID have a FP for carpets for later in the day, but I don’t think the CM cared about that

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I’m guessing they have some leeway on rides like carpets. Does it matter if 2 people or 4 people come in and fill one carpet? Nope.

But they won’t want to advertise it or we know some people will try to abuse it.

Loving this report. Your family’s happiness is so apparent in the photos, it really warms my heart. Thank you for sharing.

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These were all adults!

Enjoying the report!!

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Day 5, Rest Day, August 14, 2019.
Thank goodness for a rest day. We slept in a little bit (DS3 still woke up early and wanted to watch Mickey on tv, like every day. ugh. He was very sad to leave the hotel that has tvs in the bedrooms…).
Wife was feeling awful. She wasn’t sure if she had been glutened or if it was just a reaction to so much rich, fatty food, but she had been up all night being sick. So she stayed in for the day. We were sad that she was missing so much, but I was glad it wasn’t a park day!
We swam at the big Pop pool. It was about 10am and the whole resort felt empty. Only a few other people in the pool. Most folks at the parks or maybe still asleep. Some messy haired people wandering out of the food court carrying mugs (of coffee I assume).
The big Pop pool is shaped like a daisy. There are steps to get in at most of the indentations of the petals, and that’s where it is shallowest (3 ft 3 inches). It is deepest at the tips of the petals (4 ft 6 inches I think). DS3 is just barely over 3 feet, so he could only stand on the steps. We put him in a life jacket, but it wasn’t ideal. We checked out the baby pool, but it really was for babies and was only a foot deep. So he wore a life jacket and we played for a bit. There are sprinklers in a few spots that are nice to stand under. The pool also had a few noodles and balls for anybody to use, which was neat–but as more people arrived closer to 11am, those became in high demand.
I have no idea if the quiet pools are shallower. I never even saw the quiet pools. Pop is big.
Anyway, we played for a while. DS3 had to use the bathroom so I dragged him into the lobby of the main building to use the toilet. Upon exiting I saw that there is a bathroom right next to the pool at the Petals pool bar. Oh well, he made it.
We changed clothes and took a bus to Disney Springs from Pop. This was easy. We had an ADR at Homecomin’ for lunch. Kids ordered from the kids menu (fish sticks and a cheeseburger). My mom had the fried catfish and my dad ordered the fried chicken. I ordered the chicken biscuit appetizer and my dad wanted the spicy shrimp cocktail appetizer. Then the waitress told us we had 2 more appetizers to pick because the kid meals came with one each as well! So we got fried green tomatoes and deviled eggs. My parents each got alcoholic beverages, but my mom didn’t like hers at all. I think she had ordered the Muleshine and it was very very strong. The waitress asked how she liked it and when my mom said she didn’t, she actually offered to get my mom a new drink! We were impressed and my mom was very happy. I think she got the sangria instead and was much happier. My dad, who drinks maybe 1x/year, asked if they had a Pina colada. They did not but suggested the local. He was agreeable and liked it very much. That’s “RumHaven coconut water rum, lime, simple syrup and fresh pineapple,” according to the menu. My dad said he liked it because it didn’t taste like alcohol at all. Note, this trip was kind of amazing because my dad drank at least 3 times! That’s probably as much as I’ve ever seen him drink combined, ever. The man drinks Diet Coke. That’s it. But with the meal plan, he felt free to get alcohol when he wanted it, and he liked that there were drinks that didn’t taste like alcohol. He was happy.
So then the food came. OMG so much food. The deviled eggs were tasty. We were a little worried about what Southern style deviled eggs might be like, but it turned out they were just regular deviled eggs (no relish) with a little bit of bacon topping each one. The fried green tomatoes were amazing and maybe my favorite thing I ate in all of WDW. Shrimp cocktail pretty good, but seriously spicy. Chicken biscuit appetizer was 3x the size of any of the other appetizers. I managed to eat one biscuit, having downed most of the fried green tomatoes already. A little spicy in a good way.
DD7 didn’t love her fish sticks because they had the same coating as the fried chicken and she thought they were too spicy. But she ate the Mac and cheese that came with it as well as her brother’s Mac and cheese. They also ate the fruit that was on the side. DS3 ate a few bites of his burger and said he was full. My parents really liked their fish and chicken, but we were all so stuffed. Kid deserts were donuts a la mode. They suggested giving the kids the ice cream and taking the donuts to go–that worked well. We ordered a slice of key lime pie and a slice of chocolate pecan pie to go, foregoing the al la mode part. Sad, but we were too stuffed to consider eating more. Our fridge at the resort was getting awfully full…
We walked over to Erin McKenna bakery so I could buy some gluten free treats for Wife whenever she felt she could tolerate food again. CM told me what I could get with snack credits and I picked out a few things. Wife reports that the whoopee pie was the best (we had also gotten a large mint cookie and a chocolate truffle). Kids really wanted to buy Mama cupcakes but those weren’t included. CM suggested that if the kids wanted to eat the cupcakes themselves, she could give them the cupcakes “on Mickey.” Kids immediately forgot about giving any cupcakes to Mama as well as having had lunch 10 minutes earlier. I got everything packaged up, though, and hoped they’d forget about the cupcakes so Wife could eat them.
It was now cooler, windy, and seemed like it was about to rain. But we hadn’t managed to get silhouettes done at Epcot and I REALLY wanted to. So we hustled off to the silhouette shop, only to find it was shuttered. Disappointing. But we went into Ghiardelli and my mom used a bunch of snack credits. DS3 doesn’t like chocolate and said No Thank You to the woman who tried to offer us samples when we entered. I would have happily eaten his. Silly kid.
I let the kids go into World of Disney while my mom finished at Ghiardelli because we had told DS3 he could get a Goofymobile to replace his from last year that had broken. Of course that turned into a much longer shopping session than intended. DS3 picked out an ASS car and alien and DD7, after much thought, finally picked out a Minnie Mouse keychain. In the checkout line he saw a Mickey plane as well and had to have it. I gave in because I am a pushover.
We finally were leaving when I noticed the silhouette shop was open again! My dad really wanted to leave before the rain and he and my mom left, but I got the silhouettes. I love them (it?) so much. My mom was really happy when I gave her the mirror image version later, too (since you get 2).


We had an ADR at Sana’a that evening, but I didn’t want to kill another 2 hours at Disney Springs first, so finally the kids and I left Disney Springs. The bus seemed to be miles away, and I had not brought the stroller. Pop was 2nd to last.

We took a Lyft to Sana’a. It was only $13 and well worth it. We sadly weren’t very hungry after Homecomin’–I had been afraid that would happen. My mom was feeling really sick after Homecomin’ and later decided she just can’t eat fried foods anymore. I was really close to cancelling this up until midnight the night before but, as is the downfall of the dining plan, had the credits to use. And I didn’t want to just use them on the pop food court.

Kids were super into…the animals in the courtyard? Uh. Sort of. Vaguely. The beautiful lobby? No, they were most interested in the Mickey cartoons screening in the lobby. I loved how pretty it was. This was basically my lust tour of all the places I’d love to stay if I had the money.
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I forced the children outside to look at the animals. Giraffes were far away, but a zebra was very close, and lots of things that seemed like different varieties of antelope.


Food itself was fine at Sana’a. I had hoped for a window table but they said that we couldn’t get one for another 3 hours. So we had an interior table. The windows were all fogged up so we couldn’t see anything at all from the interior tables, which was disappointing. I think people right next to the window could see a little, but even then not much. Not sure why the windows were so steamed up; maybe this is normal in the summer but I’d never heard about it before.

We liked the cheese plate and the scallops (they gave us 3 appetizers even though we only ordered 2 adult entrees and 1 kids meal). We did not like the bread service. Nobody ate most of the dips and the breads were all just the same ones that we eat at Indian restaurants at home. DD7 loved the kids butter chicken. My dad and I shared the duck and the grilled New York strip. The duck was very good but the steak was the worst we had at Disney–very tough. DS3 liked it, though. All my mom ate was a bowl of chicken soup that came with a kid’s meal and some of the cheese plate. I didn’t really understand how we could get the kid’s appetizer and an adult one, but I wasn’t complaining.
Adult deserts were underwhelming, or maybe we just ordered wrong. The candy bar was gross–tasted like chocolate fruitcake. We left it behind. African triple chocolate mousse was good but didn’t taste any different than the other chocolate mousses we had been served at practically every other meal.
The kids were given 1 kid desert, which makes sense because we hadn’t ordered a meal for DS3, but it was challenging for them to share the Paint your own cookie. DS3 swirled the colors together and ruined any design DD7 had managed. Neither of them actually ate the cookie, but they did have fun once DD7 gave up and just enjoyed mixing the colors/making a mess.

We took a Lyft back to Pop and crashed. It was later than I wanted to be going to bed since we had an early day at Hollywood Studios the next day, and we were all tired rather than rested, but at least we had walked less than at a park.

I felt that the day had been a success because Homecomin’ was so good and I had gotten the silhouettes and gf treats, but in retrospect I should have canceled Sana’a and just “wasted” the credits at the food court. We were tired and the kids prob. would have been happy to watch tv or even go back to the pool. I pushed us to see something new, and it was cool to see the animals, but we couldn’t see them while we were eating and a lunch table service and dinner table service the same day was too much (uh, I repeat this problem 2 days later). Even though we didn’t order as many meals as we had people at either place, we still had leftovers from each and even just sitting still for 2 meals in one day was a lot for DS3.

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Oh, a note for those following with regard to celiac–when we got to the restaurants and they noted the allergy on our reservation, and I would say that the person with the allergy hadn’t been able to join us that day, they practically jumped with joy at both homecomin’ and Sana’a. I wasn’t as surprised at homecomin’ because it isn’t Disney owned and there weren’t going to be a ton of options for my wife there anyway. At the same time, I was very surprised at how clear both restaurants made it that they didn’t want to be serving people with food allergies! When my wife was with us, everyone was very serious and polite, but when they found out she wasn’t with us, they partied. Ouch.

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Sorry to hear this. I’ve always heard WDW is so good at accommodating people with allergies. This seems very insensitive to show this attitude to customers with loved ones that have some special dietary needs.

Had a similar problem with the Sanaa meal where we were not that hungry, but had 2 mitigating factors - 1) we didn’t get apps because we were on the standard plan and 2) I was able to push the meal out to 1:30pm and then we got there a bit late so we didn’t get seated until 2, and served at 2:30. Kids wanted to know the name of the meal we were at (for documentation purposes maybe?) “It’s Lupper!” I tried to declare with the full weight of paternal authority. Children were completely unsatisfied by my answer and not entertained in the least.

Spicy shrimp was spicy enough to keep by belly warm for a long time ( probably because i added the chef’s hot pepper paste). Butter chicken was a hit with DW and even picky DS7, but he was emotionally prepared because we corrected his false impression that it was plain chicken with butter on it. We did the Kheer rice pudding (creamy not so sweet) and Kenyan Coffee Mousse Cake (sugar and caffeine) for desert. Both were good and unique. I’d recommend either if you ever go back. DS7 made a 6 point color wheel with his cookie paint palette and used the ice cream to tint shades out to the side but didn’t eat much (still managed to get pink frosting in his hair for the rest of the day). DS9 just made one big color ( Greownurple?) and then ate the whole mess. :crazy_face:

We saw several kids sitting by the reception desk decorating larger cookies with paint, sprinkles, etc. If we ever stay at AK Lodge, I’ll have to track down that activity for a non-park day.

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