Trip Report 6/4-12/17


#1

Hi Everyone,

I found such great words of wisdom and advice here, while planning my trip. One of my favorite things about the group is reading other people's trip reports, because it feels like I can live through a whole Disney day and experience the magic for a few minutes. I've decided to write my own trip report here, for anyone else living vicariously through others vacations and planning their own enjoy our highlights and learn from our mistakes! Enjoy!

Background: We currently reside in Reno, Nevada. This was essentially our first trip to WDW and our first solo trip for more than a weekend together as well as our honeymoon! I had previously been to WDW once at about age eight. It was right before my parents divorce, so although I have some memories I was very young and most of the trip has been long since forgotten. DH is 27 and I am 26, we are both foodies (although I am definitely a way less picky eater).

Day One, June 4, 2017: We had finalized the majority of our packing the day prior on our post-wedding high. We woke up early and scrambled to pack a few last minute items, but isn't there always something you forget? The Reno International Airport is tiny, but also has cancelled flights regularly due to weather and wind. This can result in extreme chaos during early morning flight hours, so we arrived early. There was no line at the counter and we were quickly able to check our bags and make our way through security. A quick breakfast and coffee stop and we were on the first leg of our flight. I have to give a quick shout out here to Southwest. They are my preferred airline, because I always receive excellent customer service. Also, I love reading their customer stories online and in their magazine. I truly believe that customer service like this deserves to be rewarded, so I will deal with their awkward pick your own seat on the flight procedures every time. tangent ended. We flew through Chicago Midway, I have flown through this airport for work and DH went to boot camp in Chicago, so it was nice to have a quick stop in a place we were both individually familiar with. We shared a Chicago hot dog, because when in Rome. Am I right? and were quickly back in the air to Orlando.

Once we touched down, I was immediately bouncing with excitement and ready to go. Due to surprise tickets to Kennedy Space Center as a wedding gift, we ended up with an extra ticket day. This meant we could immediately head from the resort to Pandora. (Insert heart-eyed emojis here). We touched down at about 6:35 (five minutes ahead of schedule) and immediately headed to the magical express. This being our first trip, it was difficult for my attention span to stay with the signs to ME Check-in and not just run outside to the first ME bus I saw through the window. Luckily we made it, and there was already a bus waiting. We along with two more families boarded the bus and headed to the world. Due to my overwhelming amount of research and reading so many stories, comments, and trip reports, I was worried about ME and it taking forever to get to our resort. Luckily we were the second stop!

When we pulled up at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, I knew I had made the right choice for our honeymoon. The resort is closely placed near Hollywood Studios and Epcot (our projected favorites), with its own bus service, but sort of a quiet romantic vibe. We didn't receive a room text, so we headed to the front desk. Our cast member was friendly and gave us plenty of resort information as well as our Happily Ever After Buttons. After check-in we ran to the room to drop our bags. I had reserved a preferred king room and requested close to transportation. We were about a six minute walk from El Centro and the food court and only about a four minute walk to the bus stop. As this resort is being renovated, I expected the room to need updating. However, we both questioned if we received an updated room because everything was so wonderful. After dumping our gear we headed to the bus stop. As Tink must have been looking down on us and sprinkled her pixie dust, we waited less than five minutes and the first bus was for Animal Kingdom.

Once we arrived at Animal Kingdom, I explained our loose touring plan to DH. Fast pass for the Safari, Fast pass for Everest, some sort of dinner/snack, and then Pandora for as long as we can stand it. We walked up the side left side of Animal Kingdom, we could even see the entrance to Pandora. I did a quick check of the wait times. Although it was almost 10:00 p.m. Pandora was packed and I didn't want to waste our FPs, so it would have to wait. We arrived at the Safari and at that point I was worried because it was dark. Although 10:00 p.m. in Orlando our west-coast selves weren't ready for it to be nighttime. We rode the safari and got to see more animals than I expected. The tower of Giraffes was fun as well as the hippos and then onto my favorite the lions. They were perched atop their rocks overlooking the savannah. It was the highlight of my ride.

Next, we started the hunt for dinner. Unfortunately, I didn't realize a lot of the stands would be closed in preparation for park closing. We stopped at Harambe's as planned, but DH being himself didn't want to try anything on their menu. At this point, I was too hungry to care. We stopped at a snack stand and ended up with hummus and veggies and a water for me and a Mickey icecream sandwich for DH. My hummus and veggies was good the pita was wonderful. The hummus was a little thinner than I prefer. By the time I looked at DH, there was no sandwich or wrapper left in sight. I took that to mean he was happy. After a quick bite, we immediately walked on Everest. As this was both of our first time to Animal Kingdom, we were surprised by the backwards portion of the ride and the amount of force at the end on the turns. We both loved the ride and our hilarious photos.

Now the time had come, we slowly wandered through Dino-Land and past Flame Tree BBQ back to Pandora. As we walked in, I looked around and knew this was the right choice for a honeymoon. DH was pointing out plants and foot prints and the mountains with a look of amazement. We wandered through the land and gift shops before ending at Pongu Pongu. We ordered a Mo'ara Margarita and the Pongu Lumpia. I'm not sure why we ordered a margarita, neither of us are drinkers and neither of us are especially fond of tequila. I guess the amazing themeing and promise of blood orange sucked us in. We both had a few sips and weren't especially amazed by the drink. I think Boba is just not for us. The jelly casing freaked me out a bit, so it got donated to the adult party next us consuming a variety of alcoholic beverages. Disney magic my friends. Next was the lumpia, neither of us had ever tried traditional lumpia before. We loved the sweet of the sugar cream cheese and the acidity of the pineapple. This was a snack credit well spent.

Next we checked the wait times, 45 minutes for Na'vi River Journey was do able, so we hopped in line. The people behind us had been riding this on a loop and were telling us all about the ride and the line theming. I always enjoy meeting other disney fanatics and hearing their thoughts. Their teenage daughters were watching The Force Awakens on an iPad in line, so as the conversation dulled we all caught a bit of Kylo's mood swings. Then next thing we knew, it was our turn! Let me just stop here to say, this queue is fantastic. I was amazed with the tiny details and plants throughout the land, but the braided cabana really felt like something from Pandora.

We got in our boat, row three. If you are not looking for Pandora spoilers, catch my next day post. For everyone else, this was amazing. In more than a new cool ride, but in an awing way. I rode through most of the ride with my mouth open amazed. This is a traditional boat ride, it is extremely smooth with no drops or splashing. Think Its a Small World. As we floated through the landscaping is so detailed and layered that as it gets further away a small screen is placed in the back so you can experience Mo'ara wildlife, see Na'vi and their banshees, etc. It was absolutely amazing. Also don't forget to look up as some of my favorite pieces of this ride were above us. This ride is much shorter than I anticipated, less than five minutes of ride time. Especially for a boat ride and a 45+ minute wait, we felt a little jipped. Now time for my favorite part, the shaman. She is stunning and scaled to actual Na'vi size it was amazing to compare her to my 5'4" self. She sings to her yaweh and moves so smoothly I questioned if she was real. She blinks her eyes, and wiggles her toes. Truly the best anamatronic I've seen to date.

After Na'vi River Journey the line for Flight of Passage was still 120+ minutes, and having been up since 3:00 a.m. we called it a day and headed back to CSR. I don't remember the bus wait or trip back, we were exhausted. Once we opened the door to our room and saw our luggage had arrived. I turned up the air conditioner and we crawled into bed dreaming of our next adventure. Day 2 Kennedy Space Center.


#2

Wonderful! Congratulations!


#3

Congratulations. Sounds like your trip was off to an amazing start


#4

Congratulations! Can't wait to hear more about your trip!


#5

What a fantastic start to your vacation!


#6

Congratulations!! Awesome report! Looking forward to reading more! :smile:


#7

Day 2 – Kennedy Space Center (Fair warning this is not WDW related, skip to Day 3 if you aren’t a science nerd like us)

This was our earliest day. It was poor planning to pair our latest park day, leaving Pandora so late, and our earliest morning together. Also my morning-self and my west-coast time clock fought and my west-coast internal clock won. Finally at 6:00 a.m. (3:00 a.m. at home) we drug ourselves out of bed, showered and headed to the lobby for breakfast and the Grey Line Bus pick up.

At the Pepper Market, I got Mickey waffles and bacon (it was my one must have breakfast item on the trip) and DH ordered a breakfast sandwich, juice, and two cups of coffee. We enjoyed our breakfast in silence as we continued to struggle with the time change and lack of sleep from the night before. The bus was a few minutes late, and turned out to be a van. The other guests on board were also solemn and quiet.. it was too early and we hadn’t had enough coffee yet. After a few more stops to pick up other guests, we stopped in a grocery parking lot. The driver dropped us off and promised a bus would be along shortly.

It was actually good timing, DH’s breakfast didn’t sit well, so he utilized the facilities and I picked up some Pepto for the rest of the day. Perfect timing the double-decker bus arrived just as we checked out and we were on our way to Kennedy Space Center. Our driver was hilarious and told stories about his job and talked to us about the happenings at the Space Center. Truly his knowledge of NASA and facts history made me question why he didn’t work there. After his stories, he played a promo video and we curled up and napped for a few minutes until we arrived.

Upon arrival, he outlined the best touring plan for each individual family based upon their plans. He even gave us projections about how much time to spend where, down to each floor in the Atlantis building. This seriously saved us. As science lovers and DH being super into space, we could have spent all day in that building alone. Luckily his time suggestions helped us stay on track.

We hopped off the bus lathered on our sunscreen (this was the only day it didn’t rain on us) and trekked to the Atlantis building. DH loves NASA so we were sporting matching shirts and enjoyed the comments from staff members. At Atlantis we watched two movies that lead to the reveal of the ship hanging through this huge building. The look on DH’s face said it was the perfect reveal, I felt it cost us 20 minutes of time inside the building. We wandered around and read the placards for exhibits and took lots of photos of DH being amazed. Our driver suggested 15/20 minutes on the top floor. We spent 40. We knew we were behind so at the middle floor we walked right over and slid down the awesome slides to the first floor. Due to our overage of time on the top floor, we knew we didn’t have enough time to ride the simulation and look at the exhibits. I looked to DH to pick and he chose exhibits. We checked out the Hall of Remembrance. It was humbling to see the personal items left for each of the astronauts lost and the bits and pieces of the shuttles that they did recover. DH commented how hard it would be to be inside the shuttle as pieces began falling off and apart. We prayed that their lives were ended peacefully and continued through the bottom floor of the Atlantis Building. DH got to simulate a few space missions and he was thoroughly enjoying himself, but alas it was time for our first event on the Ultimate VIP Tour.

We headed from Atlantis back to the Hall of Fame at the front of the park and got in line for lunch with an astronaut. If you are questioning including this in your trip, DO IT!! Staff members helped get everyone seated and through the buffet. Surprisingly this meal had some of the best food we had all week. They had wonderful cheese pierogis, salmon, steak, and sides. Plus Tang of course. After lunch we enjoyed a quick dessert and it was time for our astronaut to begin. Ed Gibson was one of the astronauts on Skylab 4. He along with his two companions spent 84 days in space. He had wonderful stories and was a great speaker. After his introduction and speech, he answered audience questions. Some were hilarious and some were serious. Overall, DH and I would both recommend this event to other guests. After lunch, we were excused before everyone else for pictures with Ed before our VIP tour at 1:30. We snapped a quick photo and wished him well. … Well DH did. I fumbled over my words and was star struck.. see what I did there.. space jokes.. okay moving on.

We got to the VIP touring area about ten minutes before our bus left. Our tour guide gave a loose agenda for our tour and offered everyone a cold bottle of water. We loaded the bus and took off. The VIP Tour took two hours. We visited launch pads, checked out some alligators, saw the building where they build space shuttles, and a few more things I couldn’t remember. DH was enthralled and taking photos of everything.

The VIP tour ended at the building with the Saturn V. We were both in awe of the size of the rocket and enjoyed the numerous exhibits surrounding it. We waited in line to touch the moon rock, but at the last second decided to keep the mystery alive on that. There were soo many people touching, I was grossed out thinking of the germs. We checked out the space suits exhibit and Shepard’s moon boots. It was fascinating and is scary to think that small suit was keeping him alive.

We caught a bus back to the main park and had a few minutes to shop around, we walked away with a three meter tall Lego Saturn V… when it Rome, right?... a few bags of space ice cream and strawberries, a shuttle toy, and a NASA magnet. All great things we could distribute to family as souvenirs plus a magnet for our fridge. Then it was time to go, we took a few last minute photos of the countdown clock, and the rocket garden. On the bus, we watched part of the movie the Martian and quickly fell asleep. I woke up a few minutes from the grocery store and realized, we were going to have to move back to the van. Luckily, our tour guide changed his mind and said he would stop at CSR on his way after Art of Animation. We quickly agreed and sooner rather than later were back in the room.

DH had requested one night in Disney Springs during the planning phase of our vacation. Knowing this would be our only day not in the parks, made reservations at Raglan Road, per DH’s request. We rested a bit in the room, and although we really needed the rest we drug ourselves out the bus stop and the next thing we knew we were wandering through Disney Springs. We were 45 minutes early for our reservation. The hostess was kind and sat us almost immediately. DH enjoyed a whiskey recommended by the waitress (when in Rome? See the trend?) and I enjoyed a water. The band was playing and the cloggers were dancing we got wrapped up in the entertainment and were surprised our food came so quickly. I ordered the steak and it was done perfectly. DH had their Pub Burger and said it was ‘phenomenal’ we ate in silence and enjoyed more of the show. We each ordered a dessert per our meal plan and most of it went to waste. Not the best dessert ever, and we were completely stuffed from all the food before.

As we got up to leave another band started and began playing covers of popular music, so we ended up hanging around the lobby listening to a few more songs. After dinner, DH wasn’t tired so we wandered through the Lego Store, World of Disney, and Kate Spade. I love Kate Spade, but only shop at the outlet near an office I travel to regularly for work. DH was so sweet and trying to get me a gift, but I couldn’t justify the price. Especially because the same items will be discounted so much at the outlet in a few weeks. We passed on the Kate Spade splurge and headed “home”.


#8

Day 3 - Magic Kingdom
We woke up early and caught one of the first busses to MK. At bag check we were asked to step aside for additional screening. After this, we were asked for additionally screen every time (minus one) that we entered a park. On Day 4 when the security officer said, "tactical bag, step aside please." I realized the error. DH is a veteran, and that part of his life heavily influences are every day life now. To the extent that we carry a 5/11 tactical backpack. When at Disney, do not carry a tactical backpack or expect additional screening upon every entrance.

Once we made it through security we scanned our bands and stopped for a few selfies in front of the train station.

Next a quick stop for coffee and a quick breakfast, Starbucks had only two people in line. So we were in and out quick enough to catch the welcome show. Immediately after we "disney walked"... you know that awkward. 'I'm not running.." jog... to Peter Pan. Our 'disney walking' skills were not quick enough and we started our day with a 35 minute wait for Peter. We were looking forward to the Peter Pan queue because we had heard wonderful things compared to the queue or... line in DL. The queue was nice, but not nice enough that we would wait in standby again. For Peter Pna, I'm ranking this ride a tie with the ride in DL.

We quickly hopped over to Haunted Mansion as it was a walk on. The queue for this ride is so much better than the queue at DL, we were almost disappointed that we couldn't stop and play. Honestly, I think the HM at MK is better than the HM in DL. It feels like there are things that are so much more prominent and play especially well to the history of the ride. I was sad to see HM in MK doesn't have a hatbox ghost.

Next we started the trek back to frontier and adventure lands. We rode Jungle Cruise and had a hilarious skipper. For some reason, I always picture the skippers at Disneyland being better, but our skipper was fantastic. Next, we rode Pirates and ended up stuck in the burning room for about twenty minutes. It was cool, but also I had a touring plan to keep to and this event meant we would only get to ride Pirates once today. Upon finally getting out of the ride we headed directly to our FP for Splash Mountain. Knowing what I know now, we should have done this standby as it was only a 15 minute wait. Either way we walked right on, only to be seated in row 1. Splash Mountain, I enjoy that the MK version has side-by-side seats, so that made it also rank higher than Splash in DL.

After Splash we had another FP for BTMRR, as we made the short walk we realized the ride was closed. A cast member let us know we would be able to use this FP for any ride other than Peter and 7 Dwarfs or come back later in the day. We headed back to the Tiki Room to enjoy some air conditioning and a few refreshing beverages. The Tiki Room, while the songs and birds are the same, we missed the fountain with water during the show. That's why I'm rating the Tiki Room in DL better than the Tiki Room in MK.

At this point we took a restroom break, got some water, and shopped around. I really enjoy the set up in Adventureland at MK much better than that in DL. In DL everything is crammed together including the people, which makes this very fun area of the park incredibly stressful and anxiety provoking. Luckily we had another FP scheduled, to turn our luck around.

We walked over to the queue for 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, saw the 90 minute wait and walked through the Fast Pass entrance. This being our first time to MK in 20 years, it was our first time on the ride. We both absolutely loved it. The rocking of the carts and the smooth track make it a great ride for all ages. DH loved it enough that we questioned waiting 90 minutes, but in the end the touring plan won out and we continued on with our day.

Next, we wandered back to Fantasyland. Touring Plans told me to get in line for Ariel... I did this without question. We waited 50 minutes for this ride. I should have questioned getting in that long of a line. This was the longest line we waited in all week also the next two times we walked by it the wait was 15 minutes. After the disappointment that was waiting in a line that long for a ride identical to one we have seen at DL, we headed to It's a Small World. For IASW, we both preferred the queue at DL. However, we both liked the ride at MK more. Why? Because its simpler. At DL everything is crammed in there floor-to-ceiling, so much so that compared to the ride at MK its overwhelming.

Finally, we caught some air conditioning in Mickey's Philharmagic. This was on my must-do list, but was on DH's never-do list. Luckily, I played my new wifey card and he came with. We both enjoyed the songs from our childhood and animations. Unfortunately, the 3D didn't sit well with me. It was like my eyes weren't matching up, so I ended up missing the video of the second half so I could focus on not being sick. After Philharmagic we had a reservation for the Crystal Palace. We wandered over at 1:05 p.m. ish only to be told it was too early to check in. So we wandered over to Casey's and through the Main Street shops. As we walked back Casey's to exit... we found it was now raining, raining hard like flooding the walkway raining. A lot of people had taken cover under the Crystal Palace covered waiting area, so getting back there was a bit rough. After we checked in we waited 40 minutes for our table, even with the reservation. This was a bit frustrating, but the CM explained that guests inside were choosing not to leave due to the heavy rain.

After we got our table we enjoyed the buffet, I tried a little bit of everything. DH tried somethings and had two full plates of dessert. It was entertaining to see the number of adults helping themselves to the kids sized buffet and walking away with chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. At the price you pay for the Crystal Palace I expected more people to be interested in the pierogis, salmon, and meat. The food at the Crystal Palace was average for a buffet, we both enjoyed a small make-your-own soft serve sundae. We were fortunate enough to meet Tigger, Piglet, and Pooh as they all walked around. They were excited about our just married shirts. When Tigger saw my shirt he started bouncing up and down, it was very cute.

We finished our lunch and left in a timely manner, knowing there was a huge line outside still. I was exhausted, so it was time to head back to the room away from the rain. I knew wearing our Happily Ever After buttons and just married shirts would get us comments from CMs but what I didn’t expect was the number of other guests who would say congrats or stop us and ask about our honeymoon. It was so refreshing and entertaining to have other guests in line provide marriage advice or tease us. Truly one of the many highlights of our trip.

After our break, we headed back to MK around 6:00. I had picked up another FP for Pirates and we had an anytime FP for Big Thunder burning a hole in our pockets. We walked in and enjoyed another ride on Pirates. This is DH’s favorite, so we rode it a few times this trip. After getting stuck in there the first time, I was well past my Pirates quota. But being newlyweds, I didn’t say a word and happily rode it again and again and again. After Pirates we wandered over to Big Thunder Mountain. This ride is equally as excellent as the one in DL and one of our favorites. By the time we finished our FPs I was starving and we agreed on Columbia Harbor House for dinner. I enjoyed my first lobster roll and DH had nuggets and fries. We ate upstairs as suggested by my fellow liners and enjoyed a quiet break with a beautiful view of the river. There was almost no one else upstairs, so we chatted and joked about our first few days. I told Jeremy we could just move in and I’d eat lobster rolls for every meal, he didn’t buy it.

After Columbia Harbor House, we checked the wait times and decided to do a few more rides over in Frontier and Adventure lands because we knew it would be our last day on this side of the park. We rode Haunted Mansion, Pirates… again (see the trend), and ended with Big Thunder right as the fireworks began behind the Castle. I knew we didn’t want to see the fireworks today because we had that scheduled for another trip, so we ‘disney walked’ from BTMM back to the bus stop and caught the last bus out before the firework crowds began. Having some downtime to shop and re-ride our favorite attractions was the perfect low-key way to end our first day in Magic Kingdom.


#9

I understand about the tactical bags! I have to remind DBF not to bring his into the parks next summer when we go! He wonders why some people give him a wide berth sometimes...... :slight_smile: Glad your trip went well! Can't wait to hear more!


#10

Ya. We were wearing our honeymoon shirts, so the CM actually said, "tactical Dad and wife to security." That's when it clicked for me that it would be an every. single. time. thing.


#11

Day 4 - Animal Kingdom

I'll start this post by saying, its hard to have a bad day when you are at Disney. However, this was definitely our least favorite day of the trip. Not because of the park, or lines, or Pandora.. but because it rained. I know what you think when you think Florida rain, but this was different. It rained so hard that CMs were closing down parts of the park because of flooding. It rained so hard that we only ended up spending a half day here, and enjoyed some much needed rest in the hotel room until after dinner time.

We started our day at the CSR bus stop #2 waiting for an AK bus. Due to the volume of guests at the resort and the openings at AK, there are plenty of busses to and from that resort with a very minimal wait. We were quickly walking through the gates to Animal Kingdom before RD. They were allowing guests up to the tree of life and to line up for Pandora and the safaris. As I had pulled FPs for Everest, Na'vi River Journey, and Kali River Rapids, we followed the crowd up to Pandora and slightly passed. CMs opened the park about five minutes before RD and we 'disney walked' our way onto the second safari truck out of the gate.

I was a bit disappointed with our tour guide on this adventure. Perhaps I was just overly impressed with our tour guide from our nighttime safari or just too used to the Jungle Cruise, but her lines and facts seemed poorly timed and didn't keep me interested. Anyway, DH and I enjoyed the safari and seeing different animals that we had during our nighttime adventure. If you have time, I would definitely encourage you to ride this one both in the morning and after dark. They were two completely different experiences. The lions were my favorite.

After the safari, we made our way over to Dino-Land to enjoy the new Mickey waffle breakfast with the topping bar at Restaurantasourus. When we walked in, there were no other guests. Our cast member to guest ratio was 4 CMs to each guest. Maybe the news of the topping bar hasn't caught on or people don't want to waste the valuable morning time.. either way we were happy to have a place to enjoy a quick bite. It was about $9-10 per person. The meal comes with three Mickey waffles and your choice of breakfast meat. I got bacon, DH got sausage. Both were great. The toppings bar is definitely the best part of this experience. The toppings bar had everything from butter and syrup to caramel, chocolate, chocolate chips, and sprinkles, and whipped cream. I wish we had taken photos it was amazing. After breakfast, we walked on the Dinosaur ride.

As we regular DL the Indiana Jones ride is one of our absolute favorites. The Dinosaur ride in AK is essentially the same ride, different theming. We both agreed the Indiana Jones ride in DL will remain our favorite. We enjoyed the gift shop and wandered through the land a bit more, but decided there wasn't anything else here that we wanted to ride.

We were moving quickly through our touring plan with everyone else being in Pandora, so we headed back to Rafiki's Train and the Conservation Station. We enjoyed the train ride, although it was interesting to be riding sideways with only windows on one side of the train. As we arrived at the station, we made our way through the trail exhibits and to the conservation station. I was surprised at how little was actually out there. As we are from a very small town in the west, we both have had lots of experience with livestock and didn't partake in the petting zoo situation. As we started our way back to the train in began to rain. Sort of a light, we can make to the station and back to AK before we reevaluate rain. On the trail, we caught up with a family (two adults, one toddler). The toddler was having the worst meltdown I've ever seen a child have in public. Luckily it was just the two of us on the trail with them. He was biting and screaming and sprinting away. As courteous as we could be we passed them and 'disney walked' away so they could get some privacy.... however as luck would have it we missed the train by about 30 seconds... and soon the screaming, biting toddler was also waiting for the train. DH and I felt bad for the family. It would truly be so difficult.. the parents and cast members were trying everything.. but it was just the meltdown of all meltdowns.. We all boarded the next train and listened to the wailing the entire ride back to AK. This was foreshadowing of the day left ahead of us.

As we arrived back at the AK Station, it was raining so hard that there were minimal to no guests on any of the park trails. We quickly donned our ponchos and checked the TP. It said Gorilla Falls, and who was I to question the TP wisdom.... so even with no one else out and about we headed to the trail. Once we arrived it seemed every dry body was crammed into each exhibit, as we continued on the trail the rain worsened and worsened and there were fewer and fewer people until we reached a single CM. She told us the rest of the trail was experiencing too much flooding for us to continue so we headed back out the way we came to Africa.

Next, TP had us moving to the Maharajah Jungle Trail. I tried to talk DH into finding some cover, but we were both completely soaked to the point that it didn't matter much. After about three minutes, he was bored and we pressed forward. We arrived at the trail to find that it too was closed due to flooding. We had a FP for Everest coming up, so we wandered in that direction.. also closed due to the rain. We wandered into the Everest shop to regroup. At this point the only things open had extremely long lines. Also of note, we knew it was going to rain during our trip. I did research and was told to pack flip flops to change into... we had not been checking the weather at all during our trip and of course did not pack flip flops in our day bag. Our shoes were soaked, DH shorts were about an inch longer than the poncho, and therefore soaked.. As we discussed paying the $10 to cancel lunch and heading back to the hotel, the rain came to a light drizzle and we heard Everest was going to start again.

We quickly replaced the ponchos and headed to the FP queue. We were in the first car out of the gate upon reopening. After Everest we headed to Pandora for our Na'vi River Journey FP. Again this ride was fantastic. We waited in line for a photopass photographer and had some photos taken under the floating mountains. ... Disney poncho photos didn't make the cut for my report as we were both a soaked mess.

For whatever reason, prior to coming to Pandora I hadn't been impressed with the floating mountains. I watched a behind the scenes report on how they were engineered and it sucked the magic out of it for me. However, as we stood in line I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with the weight of it all and snapped a few photos.

At this point we were pretty miserable and decided to head early to our lunch reservation at Rainforest Cafe. Apparently everyone in the park had this idea because as we started heading back toward the front it started raining again. The Rainforest Store was completely packed with people trying to have lunch. We took the time to de-poncho ring out our socks and dump the water in our shoes outside then headed in... At this point my hands were pruning from all the rain and water. Luckily we dried out and made our lunch reservation. I ordered some sort of seafood trio and DH ordered a burger. I love seafood and was happy with my choice. DH joined the clean plate club, and didn't have any complaints. We ordered the volcano dessert and left about half on the table. I was disappointed it was a volcano filled with icecream and no hot fudgy center.

After lunch, we stepped into the cafe to see the rain continuing. We had FPs for Kali, but had started to dry out and really didn't want to make the trek back to the top, so instead we headed back to the busses.

Lessons learned: check the hourly weather forecast before leaving the hotel every day!!! and adjust the tp accordingly. If there is a high chance of rain, put flip flops in the day bag.

After a few hours resting, the rain started to let up. Around 7:00 p.m. we caught a bus to Epcot. We hadn't been there yet and knew we could get delicious quick-service dinners all over the World Showcase. As we arrived the clouds cleared and the sun came out, it ended up being a beautiful evening. We picked up a FP for Soarin' and stopped there first. I am continually disappointed with the distortion on the new version of this ride. However, it is also DH's favorite, so we will ride it three times on this trip.

After Soarin' we headed to the World Showcase and wandered through Canada hoping to find poutine. Out of luck, and starving we decided against the movie and crossed over to the front of Mexico. We hopped in line and enjoyed the delicious tacos, empanadas, and some churros. With our bellies full, we were ready to explore a bit more. We wandered over to Norway and through their stores, knowing we had a FP for FEA in the coming days. Next we wandered through China. China was one of our favorite countries. We loved the museum and enjoyed the reflections of China show. We picked up a few more souvenirs to bring home to friends and family. Finally, it was time for Germany. DH was stationed abroad during his service, so he was looking forward to seeing the differences between EP and countries he'd seen and lived in. He enjoyed Germany, and fell in love with the beirsteins. We both enjoyed looking at the unique designs available. I love caramel, so we stopped in Karamell-Kuche and picked up a few types of caramel corn and I got a caramel candy for the road.

At this point it was getting late, and people were filling in for Illuminations all over, so we decided to head back. Although, one of the toughest days we had, we ended happy having seen almost half of the World Showcase and enjoying some sun.


#12

I didn't know about the breakfast st Restaurantosaurus, it sounds delicious! Sorry for all the rain, AK is tough in bad weather.


#13

Forgive me for being clueless, but is a tactical bag and a hiking bag the same thing? Or what's the difference? Hubby bought a hiking backback for our trip (see link below) and I'm wondering if we will have this issue?


#14

In my mind a hiking backpack is different than a tactical bag. In that, a tactical bag is a bag designed for work use by an agency like a police department, military, fire, etc.

http://www.511tactical.com/rush-24-backpack.html

This link will take you to our backpack. When I think tactical I think, a place to concealed carry a weapon, magazines, ammo, etc. We obviously didn't carry anything like that to the park but the gear is purchased and created for individuals who use it for things like that, which is why we were asked for additional screening. Our choice of bag indicated we may have access to items not allowed in the parks.

Also, not to say tactical gear isn't allowed. My husband added his name tapes and other patches to the outside of his bag along with some Star Wars pins, etc. Each time they went through our bag and we walked through the metal detectors with no problems. Each time the CM was polite and thanked us. We even saw other families with tactical bags in the park, and made conversation. What branch? MOS? Where are you stationed? etc.


#15

Exactly what @hillary_murphy said. When you see the two styles side by side, the purposes are more pronounced. I actually had no clue what they were until I started dating my BF- military history and currently works in Law Enforcement. Now they're part and parcel to our daily wear.


#16

Didn't know about Restraurantasourus having breakfast. Looked it up on WDW web site and not listed. Is this something on special dates. Sounds like something we would like to do.


#17

I saw a post about it on the Disney Food Blog here is the link:

http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2017/06/02/news-mickey-waffles-with-toppings-bar-at-animal-kingdom-for-a-limited-time/

Looks like this was just available the week we were there, which is odd... maybe it wasn't successful as the place was empty.


#18

Day 5 – Hollywood Studios

We are now half way through our vacation and by this day, we were fading. I was wishing I had scheduled our trip with a break half way through, but we trekked on. In my research and preparing my touring plan, I knew this would be a RD Park due to the tiered FP situation. I reviewed my plan the night before, catch bus at 8:00 to Hollywood Studios. RD Rockin’ Roller Coaster, FP for ToT, Great Movie Ride, FP for TSM, lunch at 50s Prime Time, FP for Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, 2:00 March of the First Order, One Man’s Dream, and then back to the hotel room to rest. We had tickets to the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party that night, so I knew we would want the rest and have time to check out the launch bay later in the day.

Looking at this back, it was a wonderful plan… What is the famous quote? The best-laid plans, right?

Thursday morning we started out moving a little slower than our normal pace. We checked the weather, rain predicted in the afternoon. I wasn’t worried because most of our afternoon was indoors and we could always have an earlier break in the hotel room and head back over for the dessert party early to catch whatever attractions we missed. Planning more ahead than yesterday, having learned that lesson the hard way, we tossed the flip flops in the day bag with the ponchos and headed out.

We arrived at the CSR bus stop 2 at 8:08 (just ten minutes behind my schedule)… Turns out this was the day of all days to arrive early. As we walked up there was no predicted time for the next bus to Hollywood Studios, meaning we had missed the next bus. However, my research had told me about 20 minutes between busses and about a 15 minute drive to HS would land us there before RD. As we waited we watched bus after bus come and go.. still nothing for HS. At 8:50, I told DH we should have called an Uber. It would have been worth the cost to make it to RD. We finally arrived at the park at 9:15. For those following a long, we sat at the CSR bus stop #2 for almost an hour. Rough..

Upon departing the bus, we realized this was the first time we had arrived at a park with lines to get through security and scan our magic bands. The lines moved quickly and we were in the park at 9:28, almost a half hour post RD. Without thinking much of it, we continued with our TP over to Rockin’ Roller Coaster. The wait time at 9:36… 75 minutes. TP had projected my arrival at 9:06 and a 23 minute wait. I optimized and it told me to get in the line... I stood in front of the stand by entrance and debated internally. DH didn’t care to ride this, but had agreed because it was one of my must-dos. My FP window for ToT was opening in 9 minutes and if I got in this line I would miss it all together, plus mess up the rest of our day’s plans. I quickly removed the ride from our TP and optimized again.

This was hard for me, as it was one of my must do rides. 1. I’d never ridden it before, but love roller coasters. 2. Aerosmith was a group from my childhood. If my Dad had been given the chance, he would have been an 80s groupie. I grew up with Kiss, AC/DC, Aerosmith and Metallica in the car. We all have songs and bands that shaped our lives… this was a ride I couldn’t miss. As we walked away from Rockin’ Roller coaster I was remorseful and had regrets, but also hoped that we would be able to pull a FP for later in the day. With that inkling in the back of my mind we headed back to ToT.

Upon arrival at the FP entrance, DH chickened out. Yep, my buff new husband with his macho veteran ego, pulled me aside and said he couldn’t come with me. I knew better than to push him, because in our house we do understanding, so I gave him a hug and told him I’d meet him on the street outside in a few minutes. We parted ways. Oddly, this was the first time since we had been married almost a week ago, that I was alone. It felt odd to be standing in line and not joking or talking about the Imagineering in the queue, but I knew pushing this ride would have dampened the whole day, which was already drowning.

This was my first time at ToT in WDW. We came once when I was eight, I remember walking up to the gate and looking in. The wait time was 45 minutes, and it took a lot of begging to get my family of 8 into that line. About 15 minutes into our wait, it broke down and we never made it back. I have ridden the former ToT in DCA three times total, all of them solo because my family also hates this ride. As we lined up, I got sat between two families in the back row. The daughter of one family was obviously terrified and refused to sit in her seat. She was clinging to her dad’s chest. Finally they got her belted in and the ride began. I was not expecting our elevator to move up a few floors and then move into another cage, so that caught me off guard. Soon, we were floating and screaming and hoping for a safe return to reality. We all made it… and we were all aware the little girl made it too.. she was having a full panic attack. Crying, breathing rapidly, and curled up in her seat. DH and I don’t have any kids, but I know I will never force my children to ride anything. I will not lie to them to get them on a ride, especially something that adults have declined. I felt bad for her and guilty that I didn’t say something before when they told her it was like the Haunted Mansion.

Upon departing the ride, I met up with my other half and felt whole again. Turns out, he felt guilty about the Aerosmith ride, and having me ride ToT alone, so he picked up a few pins at a nearby store. A Stormtrooper one for his bag and a Winnie the Pooh one for his Mom. Having been to DL/DCA/WDW close to ten times, I have never purchased a pin. DH had selected a cute Minnie pin with white polka dots and a blue bow. He had also selected a large Pascal. I am a huge Tangled fan, the movie came out during a very dark period of my life and I watched it daily for over a year. They were the perfect gifts.

We wandered back to the main area of HS and picked up some treats for breakfast. How do you say no to the iconic carrot cake cookie and coffee? Next we got in line for the Great Movie Ride, the posted wait time was 35 minutes. TP said I would wait 23, so we finished our breakfast in the queue. DH loved this ride, I enjoyed the queue with the props better. It just needs updating, I was unfamiliar with most of the movies we rode through. DH was torn, it wasn’t as good as he expected either.

Next we made our way to TSM, we both felt it was difficult to find this area of the park and ended up asking for directions. It is just oddly placed with a narrow entrance. Upon arriving, we found out that the ride was only taking FPs and had over an hour wait as they only had one track running. The CM offered to give us FPs for later in the day and we accepted. Our touring plan was rapidly falling even more and more by the way-side. On our way back, we noticed One Man’s Dream and stepped inside. We started reading the notes on the wall and exploring the exhibits, but by the end we were both bored and decided to head into the theater. We watched an extended preview for Cars 3 and decided it was on our list to see when it is released.

Our lunch reservation was for 11:35, it was now close to 11. We decided to wander in that direction and see if we could get an early seating. On our way, we popped into a few stores and looked around. We didn’t find anything we couldn’t live without but ended up almost on time for lunch. I was expecting this restaurant to be hilarious… it seemed like we picked the wrong day/time/meal... as there really wasn’t much happening. DH ordered the meatloaf and a soda, I ordered the salmon and a milkshake. We shared the milkshake and people watched as we waiting for our food. Our waitress scolded me for using my phone at the table, but honestly? I was bored and my touring plan needed some resuscitation. DH said the meatloaf was the best he’d ever tasted! Guess I should have asked for their recipe. Since he finished his meal and almost licked the plate clean, our waitress recognized him and gave him a clean plate club sticker. I enjoyed my salmon and ate all of my veggies, but left the rice. It was unseasoned white rice, and I didn’t have enough sauce to dredge it in. Our waitress complimented me on my healthy choices and took our plates. DH ordered dessert and ate the whole thing while I was using the restroom. I was full and declined dessert, so the waitress also brought DH a milkshake for the road. As we gathered our belongings and headed for the exit, we realized it was raining and had been raining for a while. We donned our ponchos and traded our shoes for flip flops, we had FPs for the Indiana Jones show, which was very close to where we already were.

We got in line and had nice seats near the front, but high enough we had a great view. Due to the rain, parts of the show had to be cancelled for the safety of the stunt people. However, the parts we did see were fantastic. DH and I discussed this on our way out, although we love the ride in DL, a show has pretty cool potential too. After the show, we headed over to line up for the March of the First Order. Although the rain had substantially let up, and I chose to replace my tennis shoes but maintain my poncho. The march was cancelled. We knew if we left, we wouldn’t have another opportunity to see this show, so we wandered over to TSM and used our FP.

We love this ride at DCA and since they are twins, we love this one too. We had fun competing and playing around. DH had the best score in our car and was proud of himself. At this point we had extra time, so we decided to wander into the Star Wars launch bay. We caught the movie and wandered through part of the exhibits, then decided to move out and wait in line for the next March of the First Order.

The March was wonderful, DH and I got lots of pictures and he was all smiles. I really enjoy the storm troopers but don’t identify with either the light or the dark. DH has a bro-mance with Kylo, so he was disappointed to see Captain Phasma, but still really enjoyed himself. I checked the availability for FPs and there was a TSM and Rockin’ Roller Coaster. DH decided he didn’t want to ride RR after all, so again I had to decide between my must-do alone or something we both enjoy. I picked up the TSM. At this point we were burnt out, but it was pushing 4:00 p.m., knowing the bus took over an hour this morning… I was reluctant to leave. This was a mistake. We needed the break…

Instead we wandered over to Muppet Vision and enjoyed that show. We found a few gifts for our Fairy Godmailer boxes and picked up a few souvenirs to bring home. The rain had mostly subsided, so we removed the ponchos and DH put his sneakers back on. We headed back over to the Launch Bay. DH took photos of literally everything. We waited in line for BB8 and Kylo.

Both were fun to meet, next we headed to the gift shop. DH could have spent a lifetime and a million dollars in this store. He built phone cases and looked at the figurines and paintings. Having been on our feet all day and this being the middle of our trip, I was exhausted and fidgeting from my feet aching. We headed over to TSM and used our last FP. Again it was fun, I did unexpectedly terrible on this ride. After we picked out a bench and sat down to rest, we checked in with our families and enjoyed the people watching.

After about an hour, I talked DH into walking into the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. This was one of the only shows we saw all week, it was fun… but made us both feel like we wished we had a little person to share in that experience with.

Next we wandered over to the launch bay and checked in for the party. They gave us lanyards with special passes and explained that it would be another hour before they started letting guests into the Launch Bay. We wandered back towards the front of the park and exchanged our fuel rod.
*I need to pause to say: if you travel for work or vacation regularly, fuel rods are the best. I exchange them in airports, recharge them for the car, and there are stations in each Disney Park and some of the resorts (including CSR).

We shopped around more and headed back to the dessert party. Once inside, they had three food stations, a drink station, and a bar. The first food station was an ice-cream station with all sorts of sweet and savory toppings as well as brownies. The second food station was set up buffet style with a large selection. There was pita bread with hummus and a black bean dip (both were excellent, especially they black bean dip with Sriracha yum!), next there were cheese and olive skewers, and watermelon skewers. The end of the table was filled with a variety of dessert options: cupcakes, brownies, rice crispies, pudding, etc. The final food station was freeze dried Nutella mouse. It was wonderful (I may have eaten two of these). Beverages… when the doors opened and we filed in there were servers with trays of signature mixed drinks. We enjoyed two passion fruit cocktails and DH ordered another signature drink from the bar. The non-alcoholic drink station included water and lemonade fountains as well as another signature moctail. Also there was an ice bucket with traditional canned coke products.

We enjoyed our sweet and savory options as well as a few drinks. There was still plenty of time left, so we found a place to sit and watch the Jawas trade. I was fascinated with this. It was hilarious to see the things they wanted. On this day it was bubbles and fidget spinners. At one point one of the Jawas was doing fidget spinners in each hand. It was hilarious.

Then it was time for the fireworks. We briskly walked… and by that I mean DH walked and I jogged to our private viewing area, right in front of the Great Movie Ride. This fireworks show is absolutely the best I’ve ever seen. I got chills and had a few tears. It was absolutely amazing. My favorite part was when all the lights and sounds stopped and Darth Vader’s breathing began. The projection of him on the Great Movie Ride and coordinating lights, sounds, fire, and fireworks took my breath away. DH and I were both screaming and wishing my Dad was here to share in this joy. DH’s favorite part was, of course, Kylo Ren. After the fireworks, we made our way to the CSR bus stop… we were on the third bus to CSR post fireworks. I didn’t realize how long the wait would be, and again told DH we should have called an Uber.

Although this was our longest day at the park, more than 12 consecutive hours, and we were exhausted. We both loved Hollywood Studios and the Star Wars Fireworks was the highlight. If you are questioning the value of the Dessert Package… its middle of the road… but the preferred viewing for this made it worth it in our minds. No question. If/when we return, we will absolutely do this again.