August Trip (and food, MNSSHP, and F&W) Report!


#1

I love reading other people's trip reports so here's my contribution! Plus, going through it is like being on vacation again. =) I'm also a major foodie so any chance I get to discuss food, I'm all for it!

Day 1: Arrival and Epcot
DH, DD8, DS5, and I took an early flight out of NYC into MCO and the Magical Express, as always, got us to the Boardwalk Villas in under an hour. We had stayed at the Contemporary for both of our previous stays but 1) wanted to try an Epcot resort as we would be enjoying the first 2 days of F&W and 2) I found a better deal at the Boardwalk this year. This would also be the first time we were staying in a DVC room. We booked a standard view studio but were happily upgraded to a pool view without us asking. Our room faced the main clown pool but we were never really bothered by the noise of the happy splashers.

To be honest, I was a little nervous about the available counter service options at the Boardwalk. The Contemporary's Contempo Cafe is easily the BEST counter service in all of Disney due to its large and varied selection combined with high quality food. Plus, the prices are (for Disney) really reasonable! The Boardwalk area has several highly lauded table-service restaurants (i.e. Flying Fish) in addition to nearby table-service restaurants at the Yacht and Beach Club or the Swan/Dolphin that are likewise highly recommended. However, we didn't feel like dropping a ton of money for every meal, which is what we almost always wind up doing every time we go to a table-service restaurant. So we generally try to find the counter service gems. The Boardwalk area doesn't really have any. Of course, Epcot World Showcase is an easy walking distance away but when you have 2 kids under 10, sometimes (ok, many times) you just want something quick and easy and literally 5 min from your hotel room. We found Boardwalk Bakery to offer a small but decent selection, albeit limited hot food items. We had much better luck with dessert due to both the Boardwalk Bakery's phenomenal cupcakes and Ample Hills Creamery's kickass ice cream. After several visits to said dessert places, I vote for the Mickey Oreo cupcake as the best Disney cupcake and Ooey Gooey Butter Ice Cream as the best ice cream. We made use of the To-Go Cart and Pizza Window on the Boardwalk several times just because it was easy for the kids when we were tired from a day of touring. They offer basic hot dog/chicken fingers/pizza options that are your standard fare, nothing to write home about. The kale chicken caesar salad offered at both the Boardwalk Bakery and Pizza Window was a decent healthy option (to provide buffer for all those cupcakes and ice cream!). Like I said, the above food was decent but we had the Contempo Cafe to compare it to (Lobster roll! Pot roast! Salmon caesar salad!) so we were a little disappointed by the limited options.

Ok, back to the trip. We arrived at the Boardwalk around noon but decided to eat in the area instead of braving the lunch crowds in Epcot. I had read that Captain's Grille at Yacht Club (temporarily located at Beach Club) offers great food and is never crowded. We found both points to be true the 3 times we dined there. (Although we generally try to eat counter service to save money, I'm not adverse to table-service when the reviews are good!). The Seared Tuna appetizer was refreshing and light. We also really enjoyed the Blackened Fish Tacos and Bacon Cheeseburger Sliders. DD8 loved the kid's menu shrimp skewers and DS5 went for chicken fingers. For dessert, we headed to Ample Hills. DD8 loved the Lemon Sky Ice Cream while I enjoyed Nonna D's Oatmeal Lace Ice Cream in a M&M Cone. The ice cream was good (but super sweet!). The M&M cone was eh- not something I would order again as it was pretty tasteless.

Our room still was not ready by then so we just left our carry-on bags with the front desk and took the boat to Epcot. As we found out over the next few days, walking to Epcot takes less than 10 minutes and HS about 15 minutes (even with 2 young kids, including a DS5 that was doing his first stroller-free Disney trip). Walking always beat the boat but note that if you get caught in the usual August downpour on the way to/from HS, there is very little cover so you'll get drenched.

We concentrated on FutureWorld and got to do Figment, Seas with Nemo, Spaceship Earth, and TT. It might not sound like we did much but my kids spend a LOT of time in the interactive exhibits after Figment and SE, especially SE. Seeing how we woke the kids up at 3:30am that day, we turned in for an early night and just grabbed food from the To-Go kart for dinner. The nighttime atmosphere at the Boardwalk is so sweet and relaxing but my kids hardly got to experience it as they would be extremely tired by the end of most days. Even DH was too tired to explore so it was mostly me who got to experience the Boardwalk at night. Mommy alone time!

Day 2: Magic Kingdom and Epcot
While my kids being early risers (5:30-6am anyone?) is generally painful for everybody involved, it really helps us during our Disney vacations. We can generally get to the parks in time for EMH and we get sooo much done those first few hours of EMH days. After a beautiful almost-sunrise breakfast on the Boardwalk, we took the bus to MK and arrived about 25 min before park opening. Cast members let the crowds in before EMH hit and stopped us at the entrances of the various lands open for EMH. Once EMH started, we proceeded into Fantasyland.

WTP was down so we adjusted our plans a bit. We did Barnstormer first because I like to ease my kids into roller coasters instead of throwing them right off the bat onto 7DMT. (It helps prevent flat out refusals to do any roller coasters the rest of the day). Regardless, the lines for 7DMT climbed to 45 min within the first few minutes of park opening and I personally refuse to wait more than 20 min for ANY ride. After riding the Barnstormer several times, we then met Ariel at her Grotto and rode Under the Sea. WTP was up by then but the wait was 45 min so...no WTP for us. Since Frontierland was still not open, we did Small World earlier than we had planned. We then ran to BTMR...and it was down. sigh We waited in vain for another 10 minutes and then decided to give up. We decided to use our FP for Splash Mountain instead and then ran over to Adventureland to meet Aladdin and Jasmine, fill up on Dole Whip, and ride Magic Carpets. Then back to Fantasyland for our FP for PP.

The previous night, I was able to score a last minute BOG lunch reservation (thanks Reservation Finder!). I had eaten dinner at BOG on our first trip in 2014 but was underwhelmed by the food. I wanted to give BOG another try since many reviews rate the lunch as the best of the BOG meals. I really liked my French Onion Soup but found the Tuna Nicoise Salad just ok. The tuna I had at Captain's Grille was better and the salad was barely dressed so tasted pretty bland. DH's Braised Pork was much tastier and I stole a decent amount. DD8 was happy again with Shrimp from the Kid's Menu and we coaxed DS5 to try the Grilled Cheese and Turkey Noodle Soup. He wasn't that excited and mainly nibbled on the crusts. (My kid is unusual in that he generally prefers the crust to the actual grilled cheese sandwich). Much to my pleasant surprise, my kids opted to eat in the West Wing. I had thought that the darkness and frequent thunder would scare them but nope, they had fun staring sideways at the Prince/Beast's painting the entire time to "catch" it turning to the Beast. We stopped by Gaston's Tavern for LeFrou's Brew as dessert and some light shopping while waiting for our FP to meet Elena and Cinderella. Then some more shopping/browsing while we waited for a 4th FP to Monsters Inc Laugh Floor to activate. My kids had us go to MILF a total of 3 times this trip and loved it every time. We highly recommend it! I was hoping to grab more FPs then for Buzz or TS but there were no more available and the waits were too long. So we decided to make a stop at the Confectionary and then head back to the hotel to rest. I got a Mickey rice krispy treat and DD8 got powdered sugar candy. Just looking at the latter makes my mouth feel like it's drying up but DD8 loves it. When on vacation...

After resting in our hotel room for a little bit, we walked over to Epcot WorldShowcase and had a delicious dinner at Les Halles. We all shared a Brie aux Pommes, Croissant Jambon Fromage, Quiche Lorraine, and Roule Lard and Fromage. We also had a coffee pastry dessert (I apologize but I can't remember the actual name but it looked and tasted like an Opera Cake), DD8 also enjoyed some macarons and took the remaining home. After dinner, we walked around World Showcase a little. DD8 and I got our traditional henna tattoos in Morocco but boy, they really jacked up the prices! I think it's doubled in price from just a year ago! If those prices keep skyrocketing, I'll have to seriously reconsider our "tradition".

We then enjoyed Strawberry and Cherry Kakigori from Kabuki Cafe in Japan while listening to the acapella group, American Sound Machine, in the American Pavillon. My kids were transfixed by the guy who could make all sorts of interesting sounds without any instrument but his voice. After that, we browsed Italy, Germany, and Norway a little before heading back to the hotel. I then had a nice pina colada from the kiosk on the Boardwalk before calling it a night.

To be continued...


#2

Day 3: Typhoon Lagoon and Epcot
For our water park day, we planned a leisurely table service breakfast since TL didn't open till 10am anyway. We walked over to Captain's Grille again. The walk around the water is absolutely beautiful in the early hours when it's not yet that hot or muggy. I loved the espresso mascarpone cream that used to grace the waffles at Trattoria al Forno. Once they switched to the Bon Voyage breakfast however, that item disappeared from the menu. =(
However, due to my love of reading Disney menus, I found them on the CG's menu! At CG, that beloved cream is served on dark chocolate waffles with dried cherry compote and a side of bacon/sausage. The espresso mascarpone cream was as delicious as I remembered so I was in heaven. DH had the crab cake benedict which was also delicious. Kiddies had standard breakfast fare from the kiddie menu.

After a quick change back at our hotel into our swim gear, we were off on a bus to DS to then transfer to TL. Clouds were hovering the whole time and it was a little cool. We've come to accept that everytime we plan a TL trip, rain inevitably occurs. Must be the magic of the typhoon part of TL. Heh. Oh well, we're getting wet anyway. Due to the bus transfer, we didn't get to TL till 10:15 but we still had time to ride the new Miss Adventure Falls twice without too much of a wait. After MAF, we did all 3 Storm Slides and then KeelHaul Falls. Sometime during all that fun, DS5 lost his MagicBand. But luckily for us, it was found and we were able to retrieve it by the time we were ready to leave TL at 2pm. A few days later, DH lost his Magic Band coming down the hotel pool slide once. Again, we were lucky that the lifeguards found it. On our last trip, DH lost his Magic Band in the wave pool at TL and we had to replace it back at our hotel front desk. So learn from our water mistakes- lock up your Magic Bands in a locker or something before heading into any slides/wave pools!

After about a half hour of wave pool fun (fun for my kids and husband, not so much for me since the gigantic waves sort of freak non-swimmer me out), we headed to Castaway Creek. Don't get me wrong, the wave pool is amazing. But the floor is extremely rough (to provide traction I guess?) so if you get knocked over by the wave, you will get scratched up. As I was chilling with my Shaken Jamaican (frozen cappuccino with Kahlua) watching my family in the surf pool, I saw a group of unsuspecting teenage girls get completely knocked over by the wave and they were covered in red marks from their tumble on the floor. It seems to be more dangerous to hang out in the shallow end of the pool. My family hung out in the middle section where the water came up to my kids' chest and DH hung on to them to help them stay up.

After a light "lunch" of mini donuts and popcorn, we headed back to our hotel around 2pm. (Hey, it's vacation). After cleaning up, we walked to Epcot World again. We cobbled together a late lunch/early dinner from snacks at Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in Norway and La Cantina de San Angel. From the former, we shared 2 orders of Traditional Kjottkake (meatballs), a mixed selection of cured meats and cheeses, and school bread. At the latter, we had Empanadas con Queso, churros, and paletas (watermelon and lime), which were awesomely refreshing in the muggy heat.

After all that yumminess, we went to China to catch the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats show before our FP for FEA. Thankfully, FEA was only down for a bit and we were able to use our FP. As we came out of FEA into the adjoining store, the mugginess translated into full on downpour. We tried to wait it out but after a half hour of unrelenting sheets of rain, we shrugged and put on our raingear and proceeded to walk through the monsoon back to our hotel. This is when we unhappily discovered that our rain parkas from Uniqlo were only rain-resistant, not rain-proof. We lasted halfway back before the drenching downpour soaked through our rain gear. I had a few random dry spots here and there after our 20 min walk back but damage was done. We had to improvise with our bags for the next few days since the typical bag that we take with us to the park (to hold water and rain gear) was a sodden mess. After we gave the kids a hot shower to warm up and get ready for bed, I walked on down to Ample Hills to try the Malty Salty Pretzel Punch ice cream. Eh. The pretzels were mostly soggy from being in the ice cream so it was a bit of a disappointment.

Day 4: Hollywood Studios
Another early day for us as we wanted to hit EMH at HS. We walked to HS as boat service would not start till 7:30 (for an EMH at 8am) and would make stops at the other Epcot resorts, thereby making us even later for EMH. By walking instead, we arrived at HS well before EMH and were again at the front of the pack waiting to get in. They let us into Hollywood Blvd early and held us at the end of it till EMH.

Surprisingly, my kids didn't want to do Jedi Training. I was doubly surprised that DS5 bypassed it as he had never tried it before. DD8 had fought Darth Maul when she was 5 and the Seventh Sister when she was 7. My kids are big Star Wars fans but I was sort of relieved they didn't want to do Jedi Training this trip. Waiting for signups eats up a lot of time and it's always hard to make a touring plan since we never know exactly what time we will get. Since we didn't have to worry about Jedi signups, we booked it to Toy Story Mania. Funnily enough, everyone else running to TSM were without kids. I know that many kids are stuck waiting for Jedi Signups but I was surprised that that many adult only groups chose TSM as their first ride of the day instead of say, RRC or ToT.

We were able to ride TSM after just a few minutes of waiting but had the misfortune of getting a car that didn't work (the shooters and screens did not activate). So we wasted a ride just sitting there. It seemed like many cars were malfunctioning that morning. We got back on to the next available car and had a blast. By the time we got out, it was only 8:40am but the standby line was already half an hour. Since we had a FP for TSM at 9:15 anyway, we just hung around and my kids and DH had a second mini breakfast LOL (DH got a pretzel and the kids shared a popcorn). After the FP TSM, we went to meet BB8. That line ate up a LOT of time (30 min?) but we really like that character so we hung in there.

After browsing the rest of Star Wars Launch Bay for a bit, we walked over to check out the line for Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight. It was 25 minutes or so and I was willing to wait but DH pointed out that the kids didn't really care about this meet and greet so we shouldn't waste precious morning hours on it. I agreed and we did Star Tours twice instead (once on standby and once on FP). While we were waiting on line for ST, we saw Darth Vader on a platform doing a Meet and Greet. DH got really excited and wanted to try to find him after ST but neither of our kids seemed interested (what the heck?!) so we skipped it. Truthfully, we wouldn't have even known how to get to Darth Vader as he was on a random elevated platform with no easily visible walkway to him. Darth Vader also wasn't listed in MDE that day so I was a bit puzzled what was going on.

Since we were waiting around for the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge to open at 12, we also fit in Star Wars: Path of the Jedi and Voyage of the Little Mermaid. When we arrived at HBDL at 12 however, we were devastated to hear that it would not open for the day due to the inclement weather. For most of our trip this year, there was a lot more rain than usual. I hate global warming. I was really disappointed as I had wanted to try the intriguing small plates offered at HBDL. We didn't try to see if they had room in HBD as the prices are pretty steep. I don't doubt that the food is good but I just didn't want to drop $200 on lunch. :sweat_smile:

So, we went back to our HS staple- Backlot Express and got the Dark Side waffles and chicken nuggets. Cutesy and good but nothing spectacular. After lunch, we headed to our last FP of the day- Frozen Sing Along. Although we love the movie, I had never scheduled us for the FSA because I thought it was just listening to a roomful of children (and adults) singing to Let It Go. I was pleasantly surprised that the show is so much more. The 2 "historians" were hilarious and made the show enjoyable for both adults and kids. Following the show, we headed to Sweet Spells to try the "whoopie pies" I had heard so much about. I got both the banana cream whoopie pie and maple bacon. Unfortunately, none of us liked them at all. The icing was super artificial tasting and put us off. I think we took 2 bites of each and just threw it out. The bacon wasn't even crispy but soggy. Bleah. Major disappointment.

By this time, the rain was off and on heavy. During brief respites from downpours, we ran to the bus stop in stages, ducking from cover to cover. Stupidly, we had not yet wised up to buying the Disney ponchos and were trying to make due with umbrellas. Silly us. We finally caught a bus to AKL to wait for our Boma reservation 1 1/2 hours later. To kill time, we hung out in the breathtaking AKL lobby and then Victoria Falls Lounge. I had the Magic Star Cocktail and was lulled into a relaxation state by the hypnotic glow cube. The food at Boma was, as always, delicious. Even my kids loved it, concentrating a lot on the various roast meats and pastas. DH and I loved the meats, salads, and soups. From the dessert menu, my hands down favorites were the Kenyan Coffee Tart and Bread Pudding although Zebra Domes were a close second.


#3

Day 5: Animal Kingdom

Yet another EMH day for us. We got to the bus stop early by 6:55am but were worried when the bus time posted for AK wasn't till 7:26am. For another park, we may have just waited anyway but it seemed vital to get to AK early to beat the crazy Pandora lines as I didn't have a FP for either Pandora ride that day. We decided to catch a taxi and were at AK by 7:10am or so. A little while later, cast members again let the crowds in early before official EMH but this time, they didn't hold us at any entrances. We were all able to walk straight to Pandora. My family and I waited about 10-15 minutes for Flight of Passage. That was by far the best ride of the entire trip. By the time we got out of FoP, it was only 7:45am (stil before official EMH) and the wait for FoP was already more than an hour! I was so happy that we took the taxi and didn't wait for the bus. When we arrived at AK by taxi, we saw several buses from other Disney resorts already there so I guess the bus system is hit or miss in the early morning before EMH.

We then waited about 25 minutes for Na'vi River Journey which was also spectacular but FoP wins hands down. By this time, I was hungry (despite a light breakfast from Boardwalk Bakery that morning) so I popped into Satu'li Canteen to grab a breakfast "pod" filled with eggs and bacon. LOL. We're Asian so it cracked us up that the exotic "pods" were just steamed buns common in Chinese cuisine. While I scarfed down my "pod", my family browsed the Pandora shop adjoining FoP.

Side note: On many occasions, I used Mobile Express on MDE to order and pay for my food on-line at various counter service locations. It saved us sooo much time as I didn't have to wait behind 20 people to order my food. Use it, people!

Over my childrens' (and DH's) protests as they wanted to keep browsing/playing in the Pandora gift shop, I then hustled us over to the KS before the standby lines got long. We had good luck and saw a wide variety of animals close up. After KS, we browsed some kiosks in Harambe while we snacked on ice cream sandwiches and spiked Dole Whips. After this third breakfast (LOL), we went back to the Pandora gift shop cuz DD8 was dying to design her own Avatar doll. We gave in since she's pretty selective about what she wants in the giftshops (whereas DS5 would try to get everything in sight if we let him).

We were then ready for our EE FP. I don't know how Disney does it (reading our Magic Bands maybe?), but they posted DD8's name as "River Guide of the Month" on a poster on the EE line. It's little touches like that that makes me love Disney. :grin: After EE, we did It's Tough to be a Bug before proceeding onto Dino Land. We browsed some more giftshops and rode Triceratops Spin while we waited for our Dinosaur FP. Following Dinosaur, we were finally hungry for a late lunch and grabbed a waterside table at Flame Tree BBQ. Again, mobile ordering helped save me time. We had the ribs, pulled pork cheese fries, and baked chicken drumsticks. We love that counter service and highly recommend it.

After lunch, we were pretty tired and decided to call it a day. We stopped by the Pandora giftshop to pick up DD8's Avatar. The whole design and reveal process is pretty cool for the kids but the doll costs about $70. And that's BEFORE you pick accessories for the doll. :sweat_smile: Just a warning to you parents with eager Pandora fans.

After a brief rest at our hotel (and some phenomenal ooey gooey butter cake and coffee toffee ice cream at Ample Hills for yours truly), DD8 declared she was ready to continue touring at night. I'm always game for more touring but DH and DS5 were beat so we made a strategic decision to have the boys stay in with an easy dinner from the To-Go Kart while the girls would head to HS to try to catch Fantasmic. Since it was still raining on and off, we decided to take the boat to HS. Once there, I got DD8 some chicken nuggets from Rosie's All American Cafe for dinner. I wasn't hungry due to the ice cream I had back at the hotel. I was sort of sad to be too full to try the fried green tomato sandwich as I love trying the non-standard stuff at Disney. After I secured her some popcorn and me a coke float, we headed to Fantasmic with a fourth FP.

Ok, at this point you can call me really naive/stubborn but I still had not purchased the Disney ponchos by then despite the constant downpours. I just had my umbrella. Well, Fantasmic is all outdoors. And the cast members made me close the umbrella well before the show started. So we sat like idiots in the steadily increasing rain before I broke down and ran to buy some ponchos from the nearby kiosk. We waited a total of 40 minutes. Even though the rain started letting up by the 8:30 showtime, they cancelled Fantasmic for the night. I was surprised since the rain really wasn't that bad by then (or maybe I was just too drowned to notice) but I overheard some people mentioning that Disney will cancel Fantasmic if there is lightning within 5 miles of HS? Either way, I was bummed that DD8 and I had waited so long in the rain for nothing.

But as we were trying to exit the park, we arrived at Hollywood Blvd just as there was a pre-show for the the Star Wars fireworks show being projected onto the old Great Movie Ride. As luck would have it, we were standing in a great spot (at the end of Hollywood Blvd with a required walkway separating us from the crowd in Animation Courtyard). Due to that walkway, no one was standing directly in front of me or DD8 so it was a decent view. Our short height is always a concern at these shows so I'm always trying to get a spot where no one can stand directly in front of us. So we stuck around for the Star Wars fireworks show. Just at the start of the show though, a last minute family packed into the back of the crowd in Animation Courtyard. Although the walkway still gave us some space, the man was at least 6 and 1/2 feet tall. He then proceeded to put his tall kid (she looked to be at least 13 or 14) onto his shoulders. Together, they were easily 8 feet tall. And they were standing right in front of our line of sight. ARGHHHH! Ok, I get putting little kids on one's shoulders to see but if you are already a giant and you then put a teenager onto your shoulders, you are really screwing with everyone behind you!!!! Thankfully, DD8 was a good sport and enjoyed the show anyway. After the Star Wars show, we headed back to our hotel via boat.

Day 6: Hotel Pool, Epcot, and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
We started the day with the Bon Voyage Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno. Our kids had great interactions with Rapunzel and Flynn as they were both really playful. Prince Eric was sort of stiff but tried. Ariel literally just posed with us and was off to the next table. The breakfast was really good though. Of the pastry basket given to each table, our favorites were the sugar cookie shaped like the Tangled sun and the chocolate twist. DH got King Triton's Shipwreck al Forno (a giant calzone with soppressata, bacon, sausage, and cheeses) while I selected the excellent Two Poached Eggs Underwater (fennel sausage with gravy and parmesan over polenta). We loved both entrees. DS5 loves breakfast carbs so we got him the Tower of Pancakes while DD8 got the Royale Breakfast with steak, cheesy egg torte, asparagus, crispy onions, and roasted potatoes. Overall, this character breakfast was a really good value and we highly recommend it.

Since we wanted the kids to save their energy for MNSSHP that night, we took it easy (for us) that day. We played in the pool for about an hour. After showering, we headed to Epcot World for lunch. We first had a simple sugar crepe in France as an appetizer. It was disappointingly really greasy so I didn't enjoy it all that much. The kids liked it though.
We then headed to Restaurant Marrakesh in Morocco for a walk in lunch. DS5 had a blast dancing with the belly dancer. For lunch, we shared the Appetizer Combo for Two (which included Beef Brewat Rolls, Chicken Bastilla, and Jasmina Salad), seafood bastilla, roast lamb meshoui, and chicken kebabs. The beef brewat rolls and chicken bastilla were an unusual flavor combo as they are basically baked layers of thin pastry filled with minced meat and then sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. DH and I really enjoyed it though, as well as all the other food. DD8 liked her seafood bastilla (thin pastry filled with grouper, shrimp, and mushrooms) as she loves seafood but we didn't think it would be drizzled with a spicy sauce. DH and I loved the spicy sauce but DD8 isn't a fan of heat yet so she had to eat around the sauce. DH was extremely happy with the super moist lamb. DS5 loved the free bread and ate a total of 1 and 1/2 rolls. Each roll was the size of my hand. We then stopped by France for strawberry sorbet for DS5 and lemon sorbet for DD8.

We then ran back to our hotel amidst on and off rain to change the kids into their costumes for MNSSHP. We took the bus to MK (instead of walking through Epcot and then taking the monorail) as we wanted to conserve their energy. We arrived at MK about 5pm and took in Monsters Inc Laugh Floor again, 7DMT, and WTP. We were able to get a FP for 7DMT because Disney automatically converted my FP for Fantasmic from the previous night into an almost any ride FP good through the rest of the next day. Yay to Disney for taking care of its customers! As the other ride lines were still decently long (30 min or more), I opted to have us take many photos with the Disney photographers with the special Halloween decorations while we waited for the party to start.

We had a quick and relatively light dinner at Columbia Harbor House (another counter service favorite of ours). We all shared the fried shrimp and chicken nuggets combo and a frozen lemonade ice tea slushy. By the time we finished our food, the party just started. I had wanted to go on the standby line for PP as I had heard the queue for it is really fun for the kids but alas, PP was down for the first hour or so of the party. By the time it was up, the wait was 45 min. No thanks. We then wandered around looking for characters to meet and short ride lines. We attended the second MNSSHP of the year and it was a Tuesday so I was hoping for low crowds. Maybe it was low crowds in comparison to the later MNSSHPs but it looked plenty crowded to us. Many ride lines were still 20 minutes or so with 7DMT (the most popular ride with the longest wait time all night) usually hovering upwards of 30+ min waits. We were dismayed to see that pretty much all character meet and greet lines got long fast. The Moana line was ridiculously long. But we didn't need to meet her anyway since DD8 was our own little Moana and DS5 was Hei Hei. :slight_smile: I was hoping to meet the Mad Queen or Lotso but again, the lines were long from the beginning. In retrospect, we should've lined up for these characters before the party started but I HATE waiting in any lines for more than 20 min! I can usually work FP and early morning touring hours to avoid long waits so MNSSHP was a planning struggle for me since there are no FPs. Since my kids generally go to sleep early (their usual bedtimes at home are 8pm), I felt like we had limited time before my kids, especially DS5, would clamor to leave.

Buzz Light Year Space Ranger Spin was a short wait so my kids did that twice. We waited 20 minutes for Tomorrowland Speedway. Gah I hate breathing in that exhaust. We also took some pics of the kids dancing with Mike, Sully, and Boo at the Monsters Inc Dance Party. DD8 and I shared some candy corn ice cream (yum!) and a Haunted Mansion tart from Auntie Gravity's (I think ours was a chocolate tart shell filled with lemon curd and strawberry compote). The tart was decent but I liked the ice cream better. I was hoping to get the Oreo panna cotta Haunted Mansion treat (it was located at Aloha Isle) but we never made it back to that area. :disappointed:

I was trying hard not to criss cross the park too much by then as DH's ankle was hurting. He was a good sport though and said he was willing to go wherever. Love that man. I made the mistake of suggesting that we take the train from Fantasyland to Frontierland as we wanted to do BTMR and I wanted to save DH some walking. Nope, train was closed for the party. :tired_face: So we walked all the way from the far reaches of Fantasyland to the other side of the park where BTMR was located. Whereas most of the rides open for MNSSHP still had waits of 10-20 min, BTMR had a short 5 min wait. I'm assuming that was because it was all by itself without other open rides or characters near it (Splash Mountain was closed for refurbishment). My kids liked it a lot but by that time (9pm) they were exhausted and DH's ankle was killing him so we called it a night.

Our verdict- for us, MNSSHP wasn't really worth the extra cost. Aside from at the entrance, we didn't even bother with trick or treating as we wanted to take advantage of short lines and characters. However, the ride lines were not as short as I was hoping for and the character lines were too long for my tired kids. We didn't bother with the parade since some of the elements are too spooky for my kids and there was no way they were going to last till Hallowishes at 10:15pm. In retrospect, I think we were too wishy washy about selecting rides and thus wound up riding very little. Maybe in a few years when my kids are older and have more stamina, we'll do MNSSHP again but for now, it's a waste of money for us.

To be continued...


#4

This was my experience also. Partly because ours was rained out. Plus I'm not sure it's really a thing for adults without children.


#5

Day 7: Blizzard Beach, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios

For our second water park day, we decided to go back to CG for breakfast since we loved the food there and BB didn't open till 10am anyway. I had my beloved espresso mascarpone cream waffles again while DH had a customized omelet. This time, we left directly from the restaurant to BB. We had to take a bus first to AK and then transfer to BB. We were there a few minutes before park opening. We took the Chair Lift up the mountain to ride Teamboat Springs. I was surprised that my kids only wanted to do this family raft ride only once (on the previous trip, they wanted to do this over and over) but I think they were excited by the prospect of Ski Patrol Camp.

They both did the zipline at Fahrenheit Drop several times with little waits. DD8 then decided to try tackling the Thin Ice Training course (where you hold onto an overhead net while trying to balance on floating "icebergs") while DS5 was happy to slide down Snow Falls (a simple water slide) over and over. They surprisingly each only did the Cool Runners (a short tube slide) once before scampering back to their respective favorites. After Ski Patrol Training Camp, they were happy to go to Tike's Peak to just splash around and play in the kiddie waterfalls. We then had a quick lunch at Lottawatta Lodge (just chicken nuggets and fries) along with some more mini donuts and a frozen blue raspberry lemonade. I tried the chocolate dipping sauce but it was disappointingly thin and bland.

We then hustled over to AK as I had a FP for Flight of Passage along with FPs for their other 2 favorite AK rides (Expedition Everest and Dinosaur). AK was extremely close by to BB so we were there in no time. We all rode FoP but only DD8 and DH were interested in riding EE again. So, we decided to send them onto EE first while DS5 and I would get a quick snack in Asia before meeting them in the shop adjoining EE to trade magic bands. That way, they could use our FPs for another EE ride. I got a Frozen Chai at Royal Anandapur Tea Company and a honey chicken from Yak and Yeti counter service. Simple but yummy.

After they rode EE twice, we strolled over to Dino Land. It was super hot so we got the kids a frozen lemonade. The standby line for Dinosaur was short by that time (around 4pm) so we got to ride Dinosaur 3 consecutive times. I enjoyed it as it was extra AC comfort. After Dinosaur, we took a bus back to the hotel. Both kids had a quick catnap on the bus ride and DD8 insisted she was ready to try Fantasmic again after she woke up. Again, the boys decided to stay in while DD8 and I headed back to HS after we all had a quick pizza dinner. But first, we had some Butter Pecan Brittle and Sally Sells Seashells (orange marshmallow ice cream with salty chocolate shells) from Ample Hills while we waited for the HS boat. The former was really good but the latter had a strange gritty texure. It had good flavor but the texture spoiled it for me.

This time, we had extra time to ride Star Tours again before our FP Fantasmic time. We headed over to Fantasmic as soon as our FP time opened up and we were able to get a seat close to the middle section. We waited in the heat for 45 minutes but it was worth it as the show was awesome. After Fantasmic, we had to wait 20 minutes before a boat showed up at the dock. DD8 was exhausted by the time we got back and promptly fell asleep. Both boys were asleep in the room when we got back but I was still pretty awake so I had a nice quiet walk around the Boardwalk while enjoying a Cookies and Cream funnel cake. It was nice to be able to browse the shops without having to keep an eye on the kids from grabbing or bumping into breakable items. :sweat_smile:

Day 8: Epcot Food and Wine Festival!
On the first day of F&W Festival, we took advantage of Epcot's EMH to take in a few rides in Future World before F&W started at 11am. We did Soarin' first on the Standby line. We then enjoyed TT with a FP and the adjoining car showcase where my kids spent about an hour taking pictures at the various photo booths. Once 11am hit, we were ready to hit the food booths. Over the next 2 hours, we ate the following:

*Active Eats' Loaded Mac 'n' Cheese with bacon, cheddar cheese, peppers, and green onions (ok but pretty basic)
*Canada's "Le Cellier" Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce & La Face Neige Premiere Apple Ice Wine (just ok)
*Chocolate Studio's Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with an accompanying Lenotti Recioto della Valpolicella
*Coastal Eats' Lump Crab Cake with Napa Cabbage Slaw and Avocado Lemongrass Cream & Seared Scallops with Roasted Corn and Butterbean Succotash and Chili-Chipotle Butter Sauce
*Earth Eats' Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle
*Hawaii (um, practically everything) I had to use my tray to carry the Kalua Pork Slider, Grilled Tuna Tataki with Seaweed Salad and Pickled Cucumbers and Wasabi Cream, Teriyaki Glazed SPAM Hash, and Sparkling Pineapple Wine
*New Zealand's Steamed Green Lip Mussels and Frozen Wine Cocktail
*Refreshment Port's Dole Whip
*Wine & Dine Studio's Seared Scallop with a Truffled Celery Root Puree, Brussel Sprouts, and Wild Mushrooms & Pulled Duck Confit

My favorite of the day was by far the Chocolate Studio's Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with an accompanying Lenotti Recioto della Valpolicella. I'm not usually a wine drinker but I loved the wine that was the recommended pairing with the truffle. I also really enjoyed the sparkling pineapple wine at Hawaii and the Frozen Wine Cocktail at New Zealand. Surprisingly, the Apple Ice Wine at Canada was my least favorite drink of the day. The Spam Hash at Hawaii was pretty bland- I couldn't really tell the difference between the potato and spam. The filet mignon at the Canada booth was ok but definitely not the best steak I've ever had. All the food I had that first day was good but nothing (aside from the truffle) was mindblowing. Still, I greatly enjoyed my first taste of the F&W.

We returned to our hotel for an hour or so to start packing for our return trip home the next day. We then headed over to DS for a last minute souvenir shopping trip. Since DS5 hardly ate any of the F&W selections, we decided to grab a few items from Chef Art Smith's Homecomin'. We had the fried catfish sandwich, fried chicken sandwich, box of fries, and their fried chicken and doughnuts combo. We all loved it and the service was super friendly and outstanding.

At World of Disney, I was disappointed that I didn't see many items I had previously seen around the parks. I had waited to get these items, figuring I could just make one giant purchase at World of Disney instead of grabbing here and there. In the end, I was able to find most of what I needed but lesson learned- the giant stores at each park (i.e. Mouse Gear at Epcot, Emporium at MK) don't necessarily carry everything so if you see something you like at a random small shop, grab it. It might be hard to find elsewhere.

After the shopping trip, DH and DS5 took the bus back to the hotel room to rest/do more packing while DD8 and I headed to MK for the Happily Ever After Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing. Before it was time to check in for the dessert party, we browsed a bit in the Emporium and took in MILF one more time. This time, DD8 was delighted to see that her submitted joke was picked.

We were able to check into the dessert party around 7:35pm. My favorite dessert there was surprisingly the pineapple mousse. It was light and refreshing. DD8 loved the macarons and sparkling apple cider. I also had the s'mores bite, oreo pastry, chocolate strawberries, some simple vanilla ice cream, and the renowned POG (pineapple, orange, guava) juice. Although Happily Ever After wasn't starting till 9pm, the Once Upon a Time show was at 8:30pm. We decided to head over to the Gardens at 8:00 to make sure we got a good spot (read the previous entry in this thread about our short heights). Both shows were awesome and I was really happy that DD8 got to enjoy it. During our previous 2 Disney trips, she was too tired to make it to most night time shows. I was so happy that she got to see 3 this time around! It was a great way to cap our last night at Disney. However, I don't know if we will splurge on the dessert party again. We in no way ate $94 worth of dessert and we had to wait in the heat and hold our spots for an hour anyway.

Day 9: Epcot F&W and Departure
We had a late start (for us) on our last day due to last minute packing and luggage check at the airline resort counter. I really love love LOVE the Disney resort perk of pre-printed boarding passes and resort check-in of luggage. With 2 kids in tow, it's great not having to worry about most of our luggage. We were packed and ready to go by a little after 9am and headed over to France's Les Halles for a light breakfast. We had the bacon cheese roll and ham and cheese croissant again (cuz they are THAT good) as well as a giant chocolate chip cookie, frangipane, and a cappucino glace. I wasn't planning on eating much that morning because I wanted plenty of room for F&W food but the offerings at Les Halles are just too good to pass up!

After eating, we browsed in the little shop adjoining Les Halles and started hunting for Remy for the F&W Remy's Hide and Squeak while we waited for World Showcase (and the food booths) to open up. That game was super fun for both the kids and my husband and I. It definitely made browsing the World Showcase food booths more palatable for our kids. The Kidcot Fun Stops were also helpful in keeping our restless DS5 engaged. He loves coloring/drawing so it kept him happy when I was busy gnoshing.

For this second day of F&W, we had the following:
*Belgium's Beer Flight (DH greatly enjoyed all 3)
*Craft Beers' West Florida Beer Flight (DH only liked the middle selection)
*Flavors from Fire's Piggy Wings with Korean BBQ sauce (seemed slightly bland to me) & Smoked Corned Beef with Crispy Potatoes, pickled onions,and Blonde Ale Beer Fondue (way too salty!)
*France's Croissant aux Escargots (decent but I didn't understand why my garlic and parsley sauce was no longer sauce but a slightly hardened crust on my croissant)
*Hops and Barley's Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese on Griddled Garlic Toast
*Morocco's Spicy Hummus Fries & Chocolate Baklava
*New Zealand's Seared Venison Loin with Wild Mushroom Marsala Sauce and Kumara Puree & the Frozen Wine Cocktail (again)
*Chocolate Studio's Liquid Nitro chocolate Almond Truffle with an accompanying Lenotti Recioto della Valpolicella (again)

My favorites for this second day was Hops and Barley's Smoked Beef Brisket, Morocco's Spicy Hummus fries, and of course, the Chocolate Studio's almond truffle and wine. :grinning:

I really wanted to try Spain's booth, too, but I was just too full when we passed there during our trek around the Showcase. To keep the kids hydrated, we got them Kakigori from Japan and Paletas from Mexico. DD8 also got a milk chocolate sea salt caramel from Karamel Kuche in Germany. We ducked into AC whenever we could to cool off. It had rained for most of our trip but for these last 2 days, we had unrelenting sun. On one hand that was good since I have no idea how F&W would've worked in the rain since practically everything is outdoors. On the other hand, it was HOT.

When we were in Future World for a few of the Remy Hide and Squeak hunts, we had perfect timing to use our FP for Soarin'. Following Soarin', we had just enough time to find the last 2 Remys in United Kingdom and Canada before heading to the giftshop at the International Gateway to trade their completed maps in for cute Remy prizes.

It was a great way to end our Disney trip and I sincerely hope that F&W will continue to start this early!


#6

Awesome report!


#7

Great report, I too am vertically challenged and usually have someone scraping the clouds in front of me.


#8

It's so nice to hear you got a few moments of alone time! We stayed at TBC and never made it to The Boardwalk. Cookies and cream funnel cake?? I haven't heard of that one, must try, where is it from? Also, I HATE when people put kids on their shoulders. It's just a pet peeve of mine. Every family is in the same boat, having small kids that want to see. Just deal with it instead of blocking everyone behind you. Rant over.....


#9

The Cookies n Cream Funnel cake is a seasonal specialty. I saw it offered at both the Funnel Cake kiosk on the Boardwalk (right in front of the Boardwalk Inn/Villas) and at the funnel cake kiosk at the American Pavillon.
Vertically challenged people unite! :grin:


#10

Such fun to read your report! Thanks so much for all of your details - I'm taking notes for when we go! I think you and I have similar taste buds :grin:. Sounds like you and your family have some really wonderful memories to take home with you.


#11

Loved your report! I'm glad you had a great time despite some rain.


#12

Great report

My daughter loved the funnel cake they served on the boardwalk and we all enjoyed the ice cream parlour on the boardwalk

Not as nice as the ice cream parlour in HP world though - that was amazing!


#13

@mariaCD Do you have any suggestions for vertically challenged people in the garden viewing area? Do you need to get there early and stake out spots right in front or would it be easy to find another spot without people right in front of you? I've never done a dessert party before, but we're doing that one this time specifically for good viewing for DD10 and DD7. They're too short to see past grown-ups but too big to be picked up. Not that we're kid-on-the-shoulders [jerks] anyway during fireworks. :wink:


#14

In the Garden Plaza viewing area offered for the Dessert party, we chose to stand right at the fence facing the castle. We were a bit to the side of a twisty hedge (the hedge creating some additional empty space around it). The walkway in front of the fence was intentionally kept clear by cast members so I say there was about 2 yards of empty space in front of us? This spot gave us a pretty good view.

Some of the other dessert party goers opted to hang in the back part of the gardens and watched the fireworks from a sitting/laying back position. That may have worked for them as there was enough space in the garden that there were a decent amount of empty space in front of them. However, I don't see how they could've seen the projections at the bottom of the castle from that angle. For a 8:30PM Once Upon a Time and 9:00PM Happily Ever After showing, we staked out our spot starting at 8:00. Even at that early time, most of the front fence was taken already. FYI, even though the dessert party reservation time said 7:45, they let us in early at 7:35pm. When we entered, several parties were already there eating their desserts so they obviously let people in even earlier. So you can try to get to the party early to make sure you get enough time for dessert and then hustle over to stake a spot. I'm not sure if people would've held off on staking a spot that early if there hadn't been Once Upon a Time at 8:30. Good luck! It does sorta suck that even with the exorbitant price, you still have to hold a spot for an hour. :unamused:


#15

Great report! We were staying at YC the same time as you it seems.....the Darth Vader on a random platform at Star Tours that got you puzzled was probably a rainout Jedi Training meet & greet. My DS10 and DD 6 Jedi training was cancelled b/c it started raining right at the start so they sent us into Star Tours for a meet and greet with DV on the disability entrance platform.


#16

Ah. Mystery solved. I'm glad to hear that they softened the blow of having your kids' Jedi Training cancelled by providing a Meet and Greet with Darth Vader!


#17

We were there the same time as you i believe, and attended the Same MNSSHP party. I guess a lot of people had the same idea that the second party of the year wouldn't be crowded, but it seemed like a lot of people to me. We ended up watching the parade in frontier land instead of spending so much time on a spot on main street. I also agree it seemed that every line we tried to visit for Character, Trick or Treat, or Magic Shots was just exceptionally long.


#18

Bookmarking your food post!

Re: wanting to make one bigger shopping trip instead of multiple smaller ones - I will scan tags of souvenirs I want throughout my trip into the Shop Parks app, and add them to my cart. Make the order at the end of the trip, and since there's free shipping over $75, it's a way to extend the magic for me when I get my package at home a few days later. If it doesn't show up in the app then I know I have to buy it at that location.


#19

What an awesome idea!!!
BTW, can you still get a 10% discount off purchases over $50 with a Disney Visa Card using the Shop Parks app? Just curious. Part of the reason I waited to get everything all at once was to be able to use that discount.


#20

It sure does! Visa or AP.