Photo-Centric Solo Trip Report (3/5-3/12)

Hi everybody!

I’m finally getting around to writing up a report on my recent solo trip.
(Spoiler: It was sunny, beautiful, flower-and-garden-filled, and altogether lovely! :grinning:)

This was a solo trip and I chose my dates specifically to coincide with the start of the Flower & Garden Festival. Nerdy, yes, but I really wanted to be there on the opening day of my favorite Epcot festival! So expect lots and lots of springy, cheerful pics of F&G.
:sunflower: :sunny: :yellow_heart:

Here we go!

Day One (3/5): Travel Day

Flying from the northwest corner of the US and wanting to arrive pre-dinner in Orlando means being up before the crack of dawn for a super-duper early flight. But my aqua crocs and I were feeling all bright and chipper because we were going to DISNEY!

(And yes, I am resigned to the fact that I will never be one of those uber-classy travelers with her designer laptop bag, expensive shades, and chic blazer. I’m more of a Walmart-sweatshirt-and-leggings kinda traveler. But no one can accuse me of not making the effort to be color-coordinated. And no, I was totally not kidding about the aqua crocs! :joy:)

I arrived at MCO around 4pm, breezed through baggage claim and rental car pickup, and headed straight to Disney Springs. I didn’t have an ADR this time around, as I decided I didn’t want to stress of worrying about making it on time. I have had vastly different experiences with rental car lines and rush-hour traffic, so I never know exactly how long it will take me to get to DS. So, I had decided it would be less stressful to just wing it this time around. And with so many QS options at DS, I wasn’t too worried about finding something yummy for dinner!

In the end, the call of Raglan Road and its stout bread with sweet Guinness dipping sauce was just too strong to resist. I decided to see what the wait would be like to sit in the outdoor patio area, and there were literally a dozen tables completely open. I was seated immediately and enjoying that delicious bread in no time!

I decided to go with just apps this time, so I started with an Irish Egg . . . which is basically a Scotch Egg served with a side of live Irish music plus pickled cabbage, saffron aoli, and microgreens!

I ate some pretty amazing things on this trip, but honestly . . . this ranks very high on my “tastiest bites” list. SOOO yummy! :yum:

No visit to RR would be complete without a forest of battered sausages.

Before ^ . . . and after! :wink:

Sufficiently stuffed, I wandered around Disney Springs and enjoyed watching the day turn to night. I love DS after dark . . . it’s so photogenic! :heart_eyes:

This cheery yellow bug full of flowers in the window of the Anthropologie store made me smile!

Having walked off at least some of my dinner, I was ready for dessert. And I knew exactly what I wanted . . . Sprinkles! :cupcake:

I was sure I would have a hard time choosing from so many tempting flavors, but then I spotted the special for March:

Easiest decision ever!

Now I was really stuffed and starting to feel the fact that I had been up since 2:30am pacific time. So I said goodnight to Disney Springs and headed off to my condo (with a quick stop at Wal-mart for bottled water and snacks on the way).

Coming up tomorrow: Epcot and the opening day of the Flower & Garden Festival!


Thanks for sharing…looking forward to your next installment.

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Oh my! When I saw your Raglan pictures I was immediately green with envy!


I love that place. :green_heart:

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Oh. My. Goodness! I was so excited to see your beautiful smiling face! I have loved your past trip reports and I am so excited I get to travel with you on another one! You made my day!


Aww…That’s so sweet of you! :blush: I love sharing about my trips!

Love the pictures and your discriptions

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Day Two (3/6): Epcot

I’ve never started a trip at Epcot before (I usually like to start at MK), but this was the opening day of the Flower & Garden Festival and I wasn’t going to miss it! The weather was simply gorgeous, though it was downright chilly in the early morning and after the sun went down.

I joined the RD crowd and headed straight to Soarin’. I asked for B1 and got it without any additional wait. (Cute story: There was an elderly couple in the B1 line ahead of me who overheard my special request and asked me if there was something special about that part of the line. I quickly discovered that this was their first trip to WDW and they knew next to nothing at all about the ride they were about to board, never mind why B1 was the best row! They looked considerably more excited about the ride after I gushed over it for a few minutes, and they were both “oohing” and “ahhing” and wiping tears from their eyes throughout the ride. I always cry when I ride Soarin’ myself, so it made me so happy to see them having such a lovely experience. :heart:)

I then used a FP for Living with the Land (probably only saved me 5-10 minutes in line, but every little bit helps!). I love this ride.

There was a giant orb of shamelessly fuchsia orchids!

I then headed over to The Seas (modified my next FP so I could ride right away without any downtime). The ride itself is so-so, in my opinion, but I love the aquarium exhibits.

:musical_note: When you swim in the sea and an eel bites your knee, that’s . . .

I found Nemo!

After the Seas, I spent a delightful half-hour in the Butterfly House while I waited for the festival kitchens to open.

There are four little beauties in this picture . . . three in matching blouses and a fourth that missed the wardrobe memo.

This cheery little Red Admiral came over to admire my aqua crocs . . .

. . . and was so impressed with my choice of footwear that her friend had to come over and see for herself how very stylish they were!

After saying goodbye to my new little friends, it was time to tackle some of the outdoor festival kitchens! First stop was Flavor Full, but I wasn’t a fan of the beet salad . . I honestly chucked it in the bin after two bites! :grimacing: Next, I stopped at Isla Fresca for Jamaican Braised Beef (yummy!) and then decided to give the Trowel and Trellis (a new addition to this year’s lineup) a try. Wow. The meatless meatball was sooo tasty (I still can’t believe it was not actually made with meat) and the chocolate pudding “terrarium” was not only delicious but also takes the trophy for Most Photogenic dessert of the trip.

At this point, I was ready for a break from eating (a temporary condition, I assure you!) and just wanted to stroll around and take pictures. So I did. :smile:

Palm trees festooned with living orchids. Two of my favorite things in one!

Look who I spotted riding a cheery yellow bike (complete with a basketful of flowers and freshly-baked French baguettes :wink:)!

I think this is one of my favorite topiaries in this year’s festival:

After a complete circuit of World-Showcase-Topiary-Spotting, I backtracked to Morocco for some fried cauliflower. It’s spicier than last year’s version (which is fine with me!) and also much crispier (also fine with me!). These are seriously addicting.

FINALLY, it was time for the snack that I’ve been reminiscing about ever since last year’s F&G festival . . . FRUSHI. Yep. Frushi. I can’t get enough of it! Kimono Kitty was eyeing my plate with greed, but I didn’t share. Sorry, Kitty, this frushi is mine.

I caught a performance of Voices of Liberty (I could listen to them all day!) and a showing of Reflections of China, then made my way back to Norway and Mexico.

Confession: I actually had managed to snag an early-evening FP for Frozen Ever After, but when the time came to ride I decided I just didn’t want a wet rear end. :see_no_evil: It was getting very chilly and I have a hard time warming up once I’m cold and damp, so I decided to cancel my FP (rather than let it lapse, in the hopes that some lucky person or other would snatch it up) and moved on to the Mexico pavilion. I had stopped in earlier in the day and was surprised to see a very long line for the Gran Fiesta Boat Tour. When I returned in the evening, the ride was a walk-on, so walk on I did!

I had room for one last outdoor kitchen before calling it a night: The Citrus Blossom. This was another hit in my book and I ended up going back for seconds later in my trip. I had the crispy citrus chicken with orange aioli and the citrus shortcake, both of which I enjoyed very much.

I loved the cake and thought it was close to perfect, but on my second Epcot day I saw someone walk by with the cake and it was garnished with edible flowers and mandarin oranges! It was so much prettier than my version (and probably tastier), so I was a little bit sad that I didn’t get the full experience. My cake looks a little bit drab in comparison!

I was very close to calling it a night and skipping Illuminations because I was pretty tuckered and getting very cold at this point. But I stuck it out and stayed for the show, mostly because seeing it twice during this trip was very high on my priority list. I won’t be back again before Illuminations is gone forever and I love this show so much! No pics this time, because I made the conscious decision to leave my phone in my purse and just enjoy the fireworks with my own eyes, rather than through a camera lens. But I got some good pics when I watched it on a later Epcot day, so stay tuned for those! :fireworks:

Coming up tomorrow: Animal Kingdom, Morimoto Asia, and more!


Also, if you would like to skip ahead to an overview of all of my favorite moments from the Flower & Garden Festival (along with more detailed outdoor kitchen reviews) I devoted an entire blog post to highlights from this year’s festival!


Wow, you are one heck of a photographer !!! :smiley:


I wrote ‘‘photograph’’ first, meaning ‘‘person who does photography’’ but I think it means the actual picture ? In french we call the person ‘‘photographe’’ but I guess in english it’s photographer ?

I should have done another of my ‘‘in need of help with my english’’ threads before posting… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Great pics, and I think you looked great for traveling :grinning:

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Your photos are amazing!!

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Thanks, guys! :blush:

(And I just realized it’s been almost 2 weeks since my last update! I will try to get the next installment posted in the next day or two . . . they are so fun to write but they sure are time-consuming! :sweat_smile: )


Day Three (3/7): AK, DS, EP

Today I woke up uber-early to be at AK pre-RD for FOP. Because I usually stay off-site and have zero luck with FOP Fast-Passes at 30 days out, I’m used to the drill of arriving at AK very, very early in order to try to beat the crowds.

And I gotta say, even if I wasn’t a FOP junkie, AK in the early morning is well worth getting up for! This was the view from just outside the Nomad Lounge while waiting to be let into Pandora:

After FOP, I grabbed a coffee at Creature Comforts and snapped a pic of Everest from the bridge into Harambe (not easy to do when one is alone and juggling a purse, drink, and camera phone!).

I had a FP+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris for later in the morning, so I wandered through the Harambe shops while I finished my drink.

One of my favorite hidden Mickeys!

This little fellow looks like he was just struck by the sudden, horrible realization that the Hokey Pokey might actually be what it’s all about . . .

Having finished my drink (but still with a while to wait before my KS FP+), I hit the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.

Big African Bullfrog. His massive size is not super obvious in this pic, but think “dinner plate” and you’re on the right track!

Smiling Taveta Golden Weaver:

Snoozing underwater hippo:

The bougainvillea are in bloom at this time of year!

On my way out of the GF trail, I was able to modify my KS FP and walk on just a few minutes later.

More snoozing hippos.


whoops! I hit “reply” instead of “upload,” haha! :smile:

More on the way . . .

The giraffes are my favorite animals on the Safari.

After KS, I caught the noon showing of FotLK, then made my way slowly out of the park, enjoying the Oasis on the way out.

I was super excited for my next destination: A late lunch at Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs. I killed some time in Anthropologie (muttering “thou shalt no covet, thou shalt not covet” to myself all the while!) and then headed to my reservation. I was seated almost right away with a fun view of the kitchen.

I started with spicy kung pao chicken dumplings, which were super tasty. I would definitely get them again.

I knew I wanted an enormous bowl of ramen, but I was undecided as to which variety to choose. My server recommended the duck ramen . . . I was a little hesitant, but I decided to go for it. I’m sorry to say, I was not a fan. :cry: I think I am not quite as fond of duck as I thought I was. I also thought the broth was oily and not as rich in flavor as I was expecting. Plus, (TMI alert!) I normally love cilantro but my goodness WHY didn’t they cut the stems off? The long, stringy stems were almost impossible to swallow without some serious gagging. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: Combined with the copious amount of fatty duck . . . well, let’s just say I wasn’t able to come even close to finishing the bowl. It was really tough to get down.

I didn’t eat it all, so I decided to spring for one more app to round out the meal. I went with the teriyaki bao buns and they were very tasty. I’d like to come back and try some different things from the menu, or even just make a meal out of apps since those were both winners!

Ah well. Two out of three isn’t bad! Oh, and the lobby is basically gorgeous.

My original plan had been to call it a day at this point and head back to my condo to crash. I was so tired at this point, though, that I wasn’t sure driving back to the condo was a great plan. So I napped in my car in the lime parking garage! :see_no_evil: I woke up 30 minutes later fully refreshed, in absolutely no need of an early night, and ready to hit Epcot to take some pictures in the evening light.

I realized I had forgotten to take a picture of my festival passport, so I remedied that problem right away!

One of my favorite things to do at Epcot is to make sure I’m in the Norway / China vicinity at sunset. The light is just spectacular!

Harald Fairhair, First King of Norway:

Mr. Pineapplehair, First Topiary King of China :wink: :

I had skipped dessert at Morimotos . . . this was intentional. I knew what I wanted, and so I slowly made my way over to Japan for (you guessed it!) more FRUSHI! :yum:

I love Japan just after the sun sets.

I found a friendly bench and waited for Illuminations. At this point I was kind of regretting my decision to hit a second park today instead of sticking to the original plan of an early night. But having pushed through this far, I wasn’t going to leave without seeing the fireworks! By the time the show ended, I was very cold, very tired, and very footsore . . . good thing Tinkerbell came along and lit the way for me! :wink:

Coming up next: Hollywood Studios!


You are hilarious! Love your trip report!


Those nails! :heart_eyes: Is that one of those heat transfer nail polish sheet things? Fabulous pictures but love the ones at AK especially of Everest.


Great pics and report. Love your observations (and how brave are you to nap in your car?)

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