10th Anniversary DVC Christmas Trip Report

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alicemouse's picture
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Pictures from day 2...

First is Enchanted Tales with Belle. It's remarkable how personal this experience feels and how close you are to the action. I was so skeptical about this attraction and I was so pleased with it. Really a tremendous job here by the Imagineers and all of the cast members to make this a memorable experience and not silly or childish at all.

Saw Chip and Dale running around. We love these guys. Benn is a twin and as kids, he was Chip and his brother was Dale, so we have a special affinity for them.

The bell ringer at Biergarten. I have other photos, but my indoor photos are pretty bad. I need a new camera. Also forgot to take a food pic mad

Helga, the German storyteller

La Befana, Italy's Christmas witch

PreviewAttachmentSize
Enchanted Tales with Belle
Enchanted Tales with Belle3.19 MB
Chip & Dale
Chip & Dale4.02 MB
Biergarten
Biergarten3.6 MB
Helga in Germany
Helga in Germany4.61 MB
La Befana in Italy
La Befana in Italy4.23 MB
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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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DAY 3: December 2

Started off the day at EPCOT where we were extremely fortunate to have booked out FP+ before the change to the EPCOT reservation rules, so we hit rope drop (waited in line with some very friendly locals) and did Test Track on standby and then right away again on our FP+. The car design feature did not work for us the first time because the person in line in front of us was not following directions and activated the selection screen with his magic band before we arrived at the station. The cast member in charge of loading the vehicles programed in a standard car for us and everything was fine, but we missed the fun of doing the design phase. The second time we went through, something malfunctioned on our design and our car never showed up on the results screen. Not sure exactly what happened there. We did ride two more times during the trip and we had no problems any other time, so must have been a fluke that morning. We really loved the "new" test track experience. We happened to be at EPCOT the day before it closed for refurbishment, so we were among the last riders in April 2012. When I went later in 2012, it wasn't open again yet and during my summer work trip, we bypassed EPCOT due to limited time and park preferences among my co-workers.

Next was Soarin' and Living with the Land, which was very cleverly decorated for Christmas with garlands and candy cane striping on the irrigation pipes. We had a few minutes to kill before World Showcase opened, so we decided to check out the new Club Cool selections. We were pleased with some of the new flavors. Benn's favorite was Pineapple and I liked the Raspberry Cream. When we drink soda, we are accustomed to diet, so the very syrupy texture carries an unwelcome stickiness to me (that's not new. the previous selections had the same drawback for me), but I liked the flavor. Not being a tropical/citrus flavor person, the others were crossed off my list very quickly.

From there, we made our way to Norway where we split a Norwegian Club and tried a Latke for "dessert". The sandwich was delicious and we would eat here again in a minute. We would definitely try something different than the latke next time. It reminded me of the desserts from the Chinese restaurants. Very pretty, but very bland with a peculiar aftertaste. Of course, we never leave Norway without enjoying a run on Maelstrom. We considered the Anna/Elsa meet and greet, but with the film just being released, it wasn't a line we were anxious to hang out in at this point. We've got three more chance next year.

We finished up our morning at EPCOT by taking the long way around World Showcase lagoon with hopes of bettering our dessert choice (gingerbread cookie was a huge improvement) and catching Serveur Amusant and Pere Noel in France. Being a former gymnast and now a coach, I LOVE Serveur Amusant. muchlove

Continuing our quest to do "things we've never done before", we headed to Downtown Disney. We had all intents of going directly to Disney Quest, but when we arrived, we noticed that the Characters in Flight balloon was flying!! VICTORY!! After 3 years of "Ooooh!! Let's do that. Oh, sorry, the ballon is shut down for weather issues", we FINALLY got to do it! It was such a smooth ride! Benn had a mild fear of heights, so he was a little apprehensive, but if I get excited enough about doing something, he'll go along with it. So aboard we climbed and up we went! It was spectacular and the ride was very smooth. At no time did we feel out of control or unsafe and the view was just fabulous!

After Characters in Flight, we did make our way over to Disney Quest, which is included on our Premium Annual Pass. I don't think I'd pay to do this, but it was a neat think to do and it was kind of cool to play as many games as you want without paying anything extra. We probably played about 50 rounds each Sea Wolf. They had a Crazy Taxi machine, which was required play for me given all of the hours that I logged playing it on the Sega Dreamcast in college. There was also a Star Wars flying game that Benn liked and played a lot. One of the things that impressed up most was the row of Fix It Felix, Jr. games!! Game play wasn't very good, but it was just cool that they existed. I was really disappointed in the Aladdin's magic carpet VR game that Randy Pausch (see signature) had designed while on sabbatical from Carnegie Mellon. It doesn't seem to have ever received an update and it sorely needs one. Also, the Virtual Jungle Cruise was not very much fun. The virtual Pirates of the Caribbean game was very cool and the cars that pick up the cannon balls and shoot them were neat (I want to say that this is a Buzz Lightyear theme), but they were having some trouble with the ride system malfunctioning and randomly shutting off certain cars. We ere there for about two hours. It was a nice place to grab some shade and cool off for a bit, but I probably would not be inclined to go here if I had to pay for it. In a regular arcade, I spend my $10-20 bucks and go home. It's nice that play is unlimited, but I would never spend $50 at an arcade, so the unlimited play doesn't pay for itself for me. Although I did play my best round of Ms. Pac Man ever...

Dinner was Earl of Sandwich--Original, Holiday Turkey (LOVED this sandwich), Tomato soup, and a free peppermint brownie courtesy of our EoS email subscription. I don't remember how I got signed up for this, but if you like to eat here, google EoS or something and try to sign up. We each got a coupon via email. Can't beat two free desserts!!

After dinner, went over to Osbourne Lights for the first time and I was every bit as amazed and awed as I had hoped to be. I can't believe that this is the last year. If indeed Streets of America is to be leveled to make way for Star Wars land, I hope that the planners can find a new home for the Osbourne Lights. They are just magnificent and the gazillions of people that enjoy them every year would be so disappointed if they were to leave forever. Maybe they can move the flats to the queue area for Fantasmic and display them there during the holidays or something. With all of the available real estate that WDW has at its disposal, it would be such a shame for this holiday tradition to disappear forever.

At park closing (still only 8pm!) we hopped into the mini-bus and headed over the outlets and walgreens for a craptacular shopping experience. The Character Warehouse was cleaned out of anything that would have fit our purchasing list for friends and family and the Walgreens was devoid of basically anythingt hat we wanted snack/breakfast wise, but rather than search out a real grocery store or walmart, we picked the least objectionable items and called it a night. Had to get home to Saratoga and rest up for Hollywood Studios/MVMCP!!

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Be good at something. It makes you valuable. Have something to bring to the table because that will make you more welcome. --Randy Pausch

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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Great TR with great pictures and details! I'll be very disappointed too if they call it quits with the Osbourne Lights...we still haven't made it to WDW for the holiday season yet and that would suck to never get to see it!

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I don't think this is the last year. I was talking with some of the light technicians and one of the managers mentioned that they might need to add a Mickey in Florida so guests stop thinking that the arrow is WDW for next year.

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disneydoc wrote:
The Colonel wrote:
When I see a car like that, I picture how many clowns can fit in it.

And I picture how happy I am at the gas pump - and driving by a station without needing to get more!

Wow- you probably could laugh all the way to the bank riding a bicycle! awesome

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Mandy, glad to hear that Osbourne is not a done deal yet! awesome Disneydoc & Mr. The Colonel, you guys are hilarious! laugh

Jan, as per your request, continuing on!!

DAY 4: December 3

Started the morning at Studios rope drop and of course, we made a bee-line for Toy Story and courtesy of FP+, rode twice in a row by 9:30. I've had a lot more practice than Benn has had lately with my two extra trips, so I took the first two games and won my first ever virtual "cat". Wahoo!! He turned the tables on me later in the week, but at least I got to sip the sweet nectar of victory! We walked right into Voyage of the Little Mermaid. This is still one of my favorite shows and I like it so much better than the new Little Mermaid ride at MK. Got into animation academy without any substantial wait and we drew Donald Duck!! Best of all, at the end, our animator (Don) asked a trivia question (what is Donald Duck's middle name?) and of course I knew that the answer is Fauntleroy and the prize was that I got to take home Don's autographed instructional drawing!!! We did the Wreck-It-Ralph meet & greet. (Funny story - I love the princess movies and Benn is a huge video game guy. His favorite recent animated movie is Tangled and mine is Wreck-It-Ralph.) I don't have in in my notes, but according to the sequence of my photos, we also did the Backlot Tour this day. We actually got the full tour with the actors in the Harbor Attack sequence, so that was nice. The last two times I did this tour, they didn't actually "film" the stunt sequence. They just showed off the special effects, which is not nearly as much fun. (Mandy, any insight as to why they would not have real people in the Harbor Attack scene?) We really enjoyed the updates to the AFI exhibit at the end of the tour, now featuring West Side Story, Chicago, Batman, and Superman. Took a spin on Star Tours and let Benn spend 20 minutes gawking over stuff he wasn't going to buy at Tatooine Traders.

This is where our otherwise lovely day took a bad turn. Benn was feeling a little queasy after Star Tours on an empty stomach, but it's not unusual for him to have issues with the motion on that ride. (yet another amusing coincidence, it's Benn's movie franchise, but he barely tolerates the ride motion. I couldn't care less about the story, but I love the motion and the special effects.) Well, a stop for lunch seemed to be in order and I had seen the sandwiches on focaccia bread at Starring Rolls bakery on a previous trip and they looked delicious, so we decided to stop. Well, apparently the turkey sandwich was full of magical food poisoning because as soon as we ate, Benn's digestive system started to revolt. Benn decided to scrap his ToT FP+, although in hindsight, it may have gotten the food poisoning remedy going a little bit sooner. After stopping to enjoy the citizens of Hollywood, we headed back to the room to hopefully give the poisoned sandwich time to wear off before MVMCP. No such luck...

After nap time, Benn decided that he wanted to try to go to the Christmas party, so we hopped in the mini-bus and drove over to MK. MVMCP was sold out and MK was pretty crowded. This did little to help Benn feel calmer and more settled. I gave him a choice of dinner locations and he (perhaps unwisely) selected Columbia Harbour House and picked the fried shrimp to share. Well, his stomach was not as interested in fried food as his brain was and he started to get more green as the evening progressed. Fortunately, after dinner, our plan was to meet up with Magic Mirror and Amy and spend about an hour waiting in line for the 7 dwarfs to that we could meet them right at the beginning of the party. So, we found our way over to the line that was starting to form and Benn rested while we waited to meet up with our buddies. (While we were waiting, we got to see the test cars running for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train!!) They ended up running into travel delays, parade traffic, and all sorts of other road blocks, but luckily, they arrived just in time to trade off picture taking services. This was our first of four friend meet-ups and running into friends "accidentally on purpose" turned out to be a huge trip highlight for us. It's amazing how much smaller the World really does feel when you get to meet up with friends and acquaintances in such a magical place!! We chatted for a bit and exchanged some stories and then parted for the evening so we could all accomplish our party agendas. Benn was such a trooper! He was content to wait in line for Bert and Mary Poppins while I scouted out the free cocoa and cookies, picked up my MVMCP pins, and did some roving character gawking. After Mary Poppins, we started making out way back towards the hub for Celebrate the Magic (It was hard to contain my excitement about my first time seeing in in person after watching it for months on YouTube!!) and Wishes. Well, we had to crowd in pretty tight for see Celebrate the Magic and usually, I'm the one with the claustrophobia issues, but as poor as Benn was feeling, I had to get him out of there as soon as possible once CtM was over, so we retreated to Liberty Square so he could sit down and I watched Holiday Wishes with Hall of Presidents as a backdrop. I like the castle better, but this is a decent place to watch from if you need to get away from the commotion. Plus, it meant that we already had an awesome spot reserved for Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas parade. This parade was fantastic! My pictures of it are just terrible, but it was such a beautiful parade and the YouTube videos don't begin to do it justice. Parade highlights for me were Mary Poppins with Bert & penguins, Alice w. winter scarf, Clarabelle the Cow and Horace Horsecollar, and Chip & Dale's snowball fight! After the parade, we called it a night. There were still characters left un-greeted and events left un-experienced, but I had pushed my luck with Benn long enough and he had been so good about trying not to be a buzz-kill that I really did owe it to him to get him back to the room as soon as possible. I offered to leave and take him home at the beginning of the party, but he wouldn't hear about it. Then he was going to take the bus home after the dwarfs, but he was torn between wanting to see the party and wanting to go home and lay down and die.

Around 4am, the revenge of the turkey sandwich began in earnest...Guess who was on her own the next day Sad

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Be good at something. It makes you valuable. Have something to bring to the table because that will make you more welcome. --Randy Pausch

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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Oh no, so sorry to hear about Benn! What a trooper, though! The MVMCP looks fantastic!

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DAY 5: December 4

I was on my own this morning (poor Benn!!), so it was a great day for an MK day!! Benn loves MK, but not like I do and I always feel like he's a ticking time bomb of patience for shows and attractions that are historic or nostalgic for me, so this was a good opportunity for me to do some of my favorite classics without having to subject Benn to them. mickey

I started out on Aladdin's Magic Carpets which I had never done but I was infinitely curious about when I learned that they could go not just up and down, but they could tilt left and right as well. I tried to operate both functions simultaneously, but the effect was lost by having to reach to over the seat to get to the second lever. I'll have to try it again sometime with a buddy. Next I did BTMR because it's just not a magic kingdom day for me without my favorite ride! On the way there, a random butterfly started following me. I tried to take his picture, but he sat right on my camera, so he just looks like a big blurry blob. I took advantage of being on my own schedule and did a ton of pin trading at as slow of a pace as I wanted. awesome Next I hit the tea cups and the coolest thing happened. My powers of observation being as deficient as they are, I failed to notice the Alice and the White Rabbit had appeared for their meet and greet until shortly before our ride was over. It was as if by spinning the teacup that I had made them appear! I got in line for a photo and then headed over to Astro Orbiter. By 10:00, I was standing in line to get my requisite photo with Stitch!

The second hour was meet & greets at Pete's Silly Sideshow. Minnie and her photographer noticed that I was wearing my 10th anniversary button and asked where my other half was. They felt really bad and did some photos where they saved a spot for Benn so I could photoshop him in later. Very sweet! Used my FP+ for Barnstormer and enjoyed some street entertainment by the circus performer at the entrance to Storybook Circus. The girl who had been selected for audience participation had been sitting next to me on the bus that morning. Next I hit Pinocchio's for a Caprese flatbread (yummmm...). I finished just in time for my Peter Pan FP+ and then I made a real departure from the ordinary and went to Country Bear Jamboree (which was as hideous as I remember from 9-years-old) and the Enchanted Tiki Room (which was slightly more interesting than I remember, but not likely to top my favorites list anytime soon). Benn was really glad that he missed out on these two! Animatronic animals freak him out and he's a little nervous around birds in general. Needed a pick-me-up, so I swung by the shops in Fantasyland for some pixie dust and pin trading before going over to Dumbo to use my last FP+ and hit my last of the three Dumbo-style rides for the day, sparing Benn from having to do them with me later.

On my way back to Saratoga to check on Benn, I crossed off another trip must-do by spending some time wandering up and down Main Street. We always do rope drop at MK and systematically avoid Main Street in the middle of the day because of crowd patterns that are affected by the parade and stage shows. Well, I finally saw the complete Dapper Dans and Main Street Philharmonic shows. I even saw some of the Citizens of Main Street and watched them interact with people while I enjoyed my mint chocolate Chip ice cream cone.

On the way back to the room, I stopped at the Artist's Palette for some saltine crackers for Benn which he joked about being his favorite meal all week because it was delivered right to the room. He's even hilarious when he's sick!

While I was checking on Benn and debating about what I wanted to do for dinner/the evening, MagicMirror texted me and told me that Amy was out for the night with a migraine sad and she was going to EPCOT. So that couldn't have been more serendipitous. We grabbed some dinner at La Cantina de San Angel (I love that the churros are just in a drawer there. If you've never taken notice to this phenomenon, check it out the next time you're there. It cracks me up every time!), popped into Mexico where we rode the Grand Fiesta Tour and shopped a bit. The next place that we really took time to stop was Germany and MagicMirror treated me to the first glass of wine that I've ever actually liked the tasted of. It was Winter Punch and they served it warm. It was almost like a melted apple strudel, but less apply. It was really good and it's the only wine I've ever had that I would actually seek out and order again. We also took a spin through the caramel store where I believe that I restrained myself on this particular trip. My resistance to the gooey delicious caramel coated products waned as the week went on. We paused briefly at Candlelight Processional to see Ashley Judd before finishing our WS lap. We both elected to flee the park before IllumiNations and the mass exodus.

Benn was feeling much better by that evening and he was ready to tackle Magic Kingdom with me the next morning!

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Be good at something. It makes you valuable. Have something to bring to the table because that will make you more welcome. --Randy Pausch

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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alicemouse wrote:
We actually got the full tour with the actors in the Harbor Attack sequence, so that was nice. The last two times I did this tour, they didn't actually "film" the stunt sequence. They just showed off the special effects, which is not nearly as much fun. (Mandy, any insight as to why they would not have real people in the Harbor Attack scene?)

You mean why they don't have volunteers to get wet in the harbor attack scene? Sometimes it's just too cold and they don't want the volunteers getting sick.

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I am so glad we were able to hang out! mickey

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Me, too, Magic Mirror!! I had a great time. I really hope we all get the chance to meet up again sometime!

Oh my gosh, Mandy! That is too funny! It's happened on two separate trips and I don't remember it being particularly cold at the time when we were on the tour. Of course, it was 23 degrees here this morning and I had to take off my coat while I was shoveling the snow because I was too hot. I guess "cold" is a very relative thing!!

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Be good at something. It makes you valuable. Have something to bring to the table because that will make you more welcome. --Randy Pausch

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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Oh no! Does that mean Amy missed Ashley Judd, Magic Mirror?! eek eek eek

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No worries, Allie! Their reserved seating was for the following night yay

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Be good at something. It makes you valuable. Have something to bring to the table because that will make you more welcome. --Randy Pausch

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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DAY 6: December 5

Today we intended to do a lot of hopping, so the mini-bus got a break for the morning and we took the big bus to MK for AM magic hours. We were running a little bit later than I like to be for MK rope drop, so we were not "rope adjacent", but on the plus side, we did get to actually see the welcome show for like the first time ever. I've listened to it many times, but it was neat to actually see all of the characters. A slight miscalculation cost us time. The only thing I had planned about magic hours was that we needed to be at MK an hour early. I never bothered to check the attractions schedule and because we very rarely do AM magic hours, I had forgotten that basically only half of the park is open. Luckily as we were standing at the Adventureland rope waiting for it to drop so that we could book it to BTMR, I overheard another guest mention that the rope would remain in place until 9. So, we reversed directions and booked it to Space Mountain. Benn wanted to test out his gastrointestinal condition as quickly and violently as possible. Luckily it was practically walk-on because the whole roller coaster and darkness thing definitely gives me some mild anxiety, so if we decide to go, I don't like to wait for very long! Benn's stomach was in good shape! Our next stop was Peter Pan's Flight...much more my speed. laugh

As we exited Peter Pan, and walked back in the direction of the castle, we noticed something peculiar. There were three not very attractive ladies in dresses standing in line for the Prince Charming's Regal Carrousel. We looked a little closer...why it was Lady Tremaine and Cinderella's Stepsisters! SO of course, we jumped in line, too. After the ride, we continued following them and they proceeded directly to their meet & greet area where we were lucky enough to be near the front of the photo line. I've seen photos of the Mad Hatter on the teacups, but I assumed that they were just publicity shots since you aren't allowed to ask characters to ride with you. Does anyone know if this is a daily occurrence? Are there other rides that characters ride before setting up their meet & greets?

After our carrousel fun, Benn decided to enter "stomach condition test phase 2" and go on the tea cups with me. Just to be on the safe side, I let him have control of the wheel. Test number 2 also yielded favorable results and Benn decided that if he could handle the ride that is most nauseating for him that he was definitely in the clear! Now that the rest of the park was getting set to open, we made our way towards Liberty Square. Although quite a crowd had formed, we were still able to get on The Haunted Mansion with relative ease and then we finally made out way down to BTMR. Since we still had some time to kill before we planned to head over to Be Our Guest, we walked over toward Pirates of the Caribbean. On the way, we encountered some preliminary taping for the Christmas parade (the very short segment at the beginning where guests and the Splash Mountain characters are jumping excitedly to help kick off the parade) and the enlistment quarters for Pirate Quest. This was such a cool little diversion! Personally, I like it much better than Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. I found the map to be easier to read and I like that all of the stories are in Adventureland and that the quest items are physical items instead of screens. We will definitely do this again!

After Pirates, we proceeded to Be Our Guest where were about the third from the last group that was allowed to line up. We we arrived about 30 minutes prior to opening and the line was the whole way across the bridge with very little shade. The cast members in charge of the restaurant wouldn't let people continue to line up past the point where the wait was anticipated to be 1 hour. Once the line started moving, it took us about 20 minutes to arrive at the front. This was by far the longest line that we waited in at any point during our trip! I would definitely eat here again, but this is something that I would hope to be able to fast pass in the future. I had received a notification that FP+ was testing here, but when I attempted to sign up, it asked me for a code that I didn't have, so I decided not to bother with it and that we would just do standby. It really wasn't that bad to wait and it was worth it for delicious food and a beautiful atmosphere. We sat in the ballroom, which I really think is the most magical room. It's also worth mentioning that this is one counter service with self serve drinks which means...free refills!! And as of yet, the cups do not seem to have those nasty little RFID chips that restrict the number of refills that you can get.

After lunch, we the next item on the itinerary was to take a short cruise over to Wilderness Lodge to see the Christmas decorations. On the way, we happened by a very short line for the Fairy Godmother, so we seized the opportunity! On our way down Main Street, the pianist at Casey's Corner happened to be playing. I was hoping to see him. I hadn't put this stop on our touring schedule because Benn wouldn't have been on board, but when we "happened upon him" and Benn got to watch him improve yo-ho, yo-ho a pirates life for me because two little girls dressed as pirates happened by, he was immediately sucked in!

After the pianist finished his set, we continued on to the boat dock. We were on the long boat loop that took us to Fort Wilderness before docking at Wilderness Lodge, which was fine with Benn because he could spend a whole day just riding all of the boats around. We rambled around WIlderness Lodge for a bit and looked at the Christmas decorations and chatted up the DVC guys before hopping a bus for the longest ride in history to Downtown Disney (not really--it just seemed that way). It's a relatively long ride from WL to DTD anyway, but we also stopped at GF and got stuck at the crossover for Magic Kingdom parking behind a huge line of other vehicles for about 10 minutes. So, nearly 40 minutes later, wishing that we had driven the mini-bus that morning, we arrived at DTD where we were transferring to the Saratoga Springs boat. Unfortunately, our prior boating experience told us that the resort boats leave from the Marketplace dock--and they do IF you're going to Port Orleans. oops. So we boarded the boat to the West Side and then transferred to the Saratoga boat because we didn't really have any pressing plans and Benn likes the boats.

After a brief rest for the feet and returning a few phone calls, we hopped in the mini bus and drove over to EPCOT for the evening (hmmm...seems like I just did this yesterday. oh well, love me some disney deja vu!) Today we were experimenting with FP+ as an afternoon/evening option. We hit the park just right to walk right into the end of the time window for our Test Track FP, hit the beginning of our Soarin' time slot, grab dinner at Sunshine Seasons, and catch the very beginning of our Character Spot FP. In the land pavilion, we walked around the side by the Circle of Life movie and saw an unexpected Christmas surprise--a beautiful train layout with the World Showcase countries represented with chocolate icons! We caught the Christmas storytellers at Mexico and Norway and in Norway, I got recruited to be in the show!! Julenissen kept handing the bell to me and telling me to ring it, which irritated Sigrid the storyteller and she kept yelling at me! HAHA!! She asked me my name (Holly) which with its holiday connotations, knocked her off balance a little bit! I got to go up on stage and everything. It was really cool! yay Our next destination was the EPCOT resort area and I rationalized that it was practically the same distance to International Gateway regardless of which path we took, so walking past the gelato stand in Italy seemed the most logical route!

I prefer walking to boating typically because you never know where and how frequently the boats are stopping and then there's the whole docking procedure. Plus, the parks aren't a very good cardio workout. Too much congestion and too many attraction/ gelato stops to actually get any kind of benefit from the 10 million miles we walk in the parks. biggrin So, we walked to beach club to see the gingerbread Carousel and pick up our first gingerbread pin and then continued on to Boardwalk to see the Sweet Treats stand and pick up pin #2...and maybe an iced cotton candy shaped gingerbread cookie...

It was a beautiful ending to a very lovely day. Once again, we decided to forgo IllumiNations in favor of getting out of the parking lot prior to park exodus and wait for our preferred viewing area FP+ later in the week.

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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Glad to hear Benn was feeling better awesome
I saw Cinderella's evil Stepmother walking around when I was there in November but no Stepsisters. I did see Alice hop on the tea cups and ride with a family a couple years ago.

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That's awesome! Was it early in the morning?

My theory was that maybe this happens every morning near regular park opening to try to draw some of the crowds away from attractions that line up quickly. This was the first time I've ever seen characters on a ride, but our usual first stop is either Space Mountain, BTMR, or Peter Pan's Flight. It's very rare that we are in the vicinity of the Carrousel or the Tea Cups first thing in the morning.

Has anyone ever seen other characters hop a ride on their attraction? It seems like it would make sense for Peter Pan and Wendy to do this although the way the ride functions, it might not be very enjoyable for guests.

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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I never knew that they did that. I have seen the bellhops from the Hollywood Tower Hotel ride the elevator up with the guests to their rooms before. I'm glad to hear Benn is feeling better. I have some friends in entertainment that I can ask about the rides to see what they say.

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That's awesome! I've never seen characters on any of the rides before! awesome

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Before I carry on reading I just gotta say, we only ever hire compact in the USA as they are BIGGER than our cars back home! So it's very funny to hear you compare it to a tin can hehehehe

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Our Very Merry 24 nighter Nov/Dec 15
Watson's go West May 15
The one with all the birthdays Oct 14 4 Big Birthdays and a Vow Renewal thrown in
The OMG trip June 14 30th Birthday present from the hubs
Girly trip March 14 A last min cheapy week
September 13 our first all DVC stay
TR May 2013 the last min bargain trip offsite
Oct 2012 TR with a cruise!big family trip featuring the beach club, AKL, the dream and a villa offsite
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So enjoying reading! Can't wait for more. Sad that Benn wasn't well Sad glad he felt better the next day Wink though space mountain was a brave choice for first ride lol

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Our Very Merry 24 nighter Nov/Dec 15
Watson's go West May 15
The one with all the birthdays Oct 14 4 Big Birthdays and a Vow Renewal thrown in
The OMG trip June 14 30th Birthday present from the hubs
Girly trip March 14 A last min cheapy week
September 13 our first all DVC stay
TR May 2013 the last min bargain trip offsite
Oct 2012 TR with a cruise!big family trip featuring the beach club, AKL, the dream and a villa offsite
TR on a budget May - June 2011offsite condo
TR Sept - Oct 2010 big family trip in an offsite villa

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DAY 7: December 6

We were running a little bit behind schedule for Hollywood Studios rope drop this morning and we ended up walking in to the back of a crowd that was pushed all the way back to the ticket booths. I knew that the folks from the DIS Unplugged podcast over at wdwinfo.com were doing their Disapalooza where they rent out Toy Story Mania after park close that day, but that should have had no bearing on our early morning crowds. Even though we were way back in line, we still went with our early morning plan where we just get in as soon as we can and book it to Toy Story. When we arrived at the queue line, the cast members had already chained off the area for the exterior queue line and were diverting guests past the attraction and into the extended queue area. It was still only about 5 minutes after 9:00 at this point and posted wait time was 70 minutes. I was thoroughly confused. All of our research had indicated that this should be a "low crowd" week. We had used this plan for Toy Story many times in the past and had never waited for more than 15 minutes at park opening. In fact, there was even one instance where I was OFF the ride by 9:00! According to the Unofficial Guide, the wait time per 100 people ahead of you on TSM is approximately 4.5 minutes. Our wait time was actually more like 50 minutes because since were were a group of 2, we got diverted up the fast pass lane, but that still means that more than 1100 people were in front of us in line already at park opening. We did learn while we were in line that there was a group from another message board site that had organized themselves to all try to get together and ride TSM that morning, but I looked up their site and they had a list of 35 members that were attending. If they each brought an average of 2 people, that accounts for less than 5 minutes of the line. Please note that I'm not complaining, just still perplexed as to why on that particular morning the line got long so much tremendously faster than I had ever experienced before. Maybe they opened the gates early but didn't start the ride early on that particular morning. Anywho, the point is that for some reason or combination of reasons, the line for TSM was ungodly long.

Once we finally finished our ride, it was time for Benn's FP+ for Rock-n-Roller Coaster and my leisurely stroll through One Man's Dream and my ritual waterworks fest at the movie about Walt's life. My only minor trip regret is not scheduling Hollywood Studios the day before so that I could have done One Man's Dream on Walt's birthday. I feel like that would have been a cool thing to do. As it turns out, EPCOT was a good choice, too because one detail that I missed in my Dec. 5 report was that someone had wished Walt a Happy Birthday using sidewalk chalk in the World Showcase near the UK pavilion.

Our next adventure in disappointment for the day was arriving at Indiana Jones with our FP+ in hand (or on wrist in this case) and learning that Disney just prints the return window on the show FP+ for funsies. I think our show was 11:15 and our FP+ said to arrive between 10:45 and 11:05. If you follow those instructions, you have just wasted a fast pass because everything is still general seating. There was no FP+ reserved section. As we learned the following day at Animal Kingdom, if you arrive prior to the start of that window, FP+ participants do seem to get the opportunity to choose their seats first. I would have been happy with that, but I was definitely not thrilled with the execution of the FP+ for shows in this particular case.

After Indiana Jones, we hit up ABC Commissary for lunch, used our Toy Story fastpass, and headed out to do some resort touring. One of our goals on this trip (and one of the reasons that I really wanted the rental car) was to see all of the resorts decorated for Christmas. So this afternoon, we hit Art of Animation (our first trip here and I love it!), Caribbean Beach (didn't see much, but I wasn't impressed and I'm glad we chose Port Orleans and Coronado for our previous moderate stays), Pop Century (cute, but I liked AoA much better), Port Orleans (Riverside is like "home" to us because it was our first stay on property), and Old Key West (we're staying here in May and it looks nice, but I think I'm happy that we bought at Saratoga instead as I like the overall look and feel slightly better). We stopped by Downtown Disney to do some shopping and had dinner at Earl of Sandwich. I think this was the night that we had the BLT and the Cannonballs, but I forgot to write it down and now all of the days are blurring together! We chatted with some really nice DVC people for about 20 minutes. These were the folks who "confirmed" for us that the Star Wars land plans are real. We decided to make it an early night and we were back in the room by 6:00. Very unusual for us!

This was kind of a "bleh" day for us. Certainly no implications that is was a bad day, but there was nothing particularly noteworthy or standout about today. We did have some fun in the gift shops and we talked to a bunch of interesting cast members today. SO our photos for today are playing in the gift shops, giant Minnie Mouse face rice crispy treat, Pop Century golf cart, and Chip & Dale monkeying around at Port Orleans Riverside.

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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alicemouse wrote:
DAY 7: December 6 Our next adventure in disappointment for the day was arriving at Indiana Jones with our FP+ in hand (or on wrist in this case) and learning that Disney just prints the return window on the show FP+ for funsies. I think our show was 11:15 and our FP+ said to arrive between 10:45 and 11:05. If you follow those instructions, you have just wasted a fast pass because everything is still general seating. There was no FP+ reserved section. As we learned the following day at Animal Kingdom, if you arrive prior to the start of that window, FP+ participants do seem to get the opportunity to choose their seats first. I would have been happy with that, but I was definitely not thrilled with the execution of the FP+ for shows in this particular case..

Most fastpasses for shows are general seating. Fastpasses for Finding Nemo - The Musical, Festival of the Lion King and Fanstamic are general seating and do not provide preferred seating. Apparently Indiana Jones may be the same way. Also Lights, Motor, Action! also does not provide preferred seating for fastpass but only grants you a seat.

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Well, it's snowing...a lot...so that's as good of an excuse as any to bury myself in trip reporting. mickey

DAY 8: December 7

This morning I woke up with a mission: to make friends with Animal Planet! (Yes, I do that all the time, not just because it annoys Benn, but because it also amuses me to know end, but I'll behave for the rest of the post.) Prior to this trip, we had spent two partial days in AK and because we have never used park hopper before, it really felt like a wasted day to us. The first time, I got the most viscously awful pain in my stomach after eating at Pizzafari. My best guess is that my body was just not interested in eating chocolate that day because it started right after I ate the chocolate mousse. I wasn't sick, but I just got these waves of massive stomach cramps for a while after lunch. Anywho, the pain was so bad that I literally just stopped in my tracks on the way to Pangani Forest and cried. I think it scared Benn because this crying thing is not something that I do. Ever. So anyway, AK trip 1 was not our best day ever. On AK trip 2, something similar happened to Benn but it seemed to be more or less heat related, so once again, we ended up leaving way early and having the day marred by one of us feeling poorly.

Another reason that I have never particularly warmed to AK is that there just aren't very many attractions there that appeal to me. Everest is not a thing I'm likely to do and I don't like to walk around the park soaking wet, so Kali River Rapids is not high on my list of fun. I'm not interested in nor am I really particularly fond of Dinosaurs, so that's one whole land that is basically a giant "who cares" for me. Benn has a moderate fear of/discomfort around birds. Cross off the bird show. Bugs are gross, so I'm not going inside the tree. My uncle has a farm with (among other things) goats, donkeys, and sheep, so affection section is cute and all, but I've got one at home. Let's see...we're down to Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and the two walking trails. Don't get me wrong, we really love all of those things, but let's just say if we were racing the SS Minnow from Gilligan's Island on its 3-hour tour, we'd beat the Minnow home and have time to stop for an ice cream cone.

SO off we went on our cheery adventure armed with some FP+ selections and with me determined to have a good time and Benn secretly wishing his food poisoning episode had happened today so he wouldn't have had to go along. I will say that this was our best AK trip to date! Not a hard fought victory, but a victory nonetheless. We drove the mini bus this morning so that we could continue our resort tour once we had tired of the Kingdom. This was the first time that I've ever been in the AK parking lot and somehow I drove down the wrong lane and I guess I was headed toward the handicapped parking area, but a very nice CM helped me to get re-oriented so we could go about our day.

The AK Christmas Tree was my favorite park entry tree, so that kicked the day off on a good foot and we loved the Chip & Dale snow globe under the tree. Based on our 5 favorite AK attractions above, you can probably imagine that we are always among the crowd lumbering toward Kilimanjaro Safaris at park opening. I feel very fortunate to have never waited more than 5 minutes for this ride. On this trip, we even scored a seat all to ourselves so we could slide back and forth to get the best view of all the animals!! This was our first safari trip without the silly poacher storyline and what a welcome change!! That story really cheapened what a cool experience this is. We saw a Cheetah for the first time and we got some great giraffe closeups. In fact, apparently it is giraffe mating season and we were nearly charged by on of the gentle giants!! LOL! The lions weren't active (i know, shocking, right?), but we could see them better than ever. Right after Kilimanjaro, we made a quick run through the Pangani Forest...basically just for the gorillas who were busy being their awesome selves. We were rushing a little bit because I intended to be at the Camp Minnie-Mickey rope drop so we did not have a repeat of the Indiana Jones disappointment with our FP+ earlier in the week. (What they're doing with show FP is fine, but it's not communicated very clearly when you select the FP+.)

Our Festival of the Lion King FP+ was an excellent choice as the 20 or so of us who were in the FP line were allowed togo in a choose our seats first. I was really hoping for the Lion section because, well, we love cats and I really wanted to get to be in the group that "ROOAARRED", but to my very mild disappointment, the sections were not labeled, so our 2nd row seat ended up being in the elephant section. I know, it's a rough life. At least we didn't have to wait in the peasant line. (This is a running joke in our house wherein we think that if our cats could speak that they would refer to us as "peasants" because in their world, our only function is to serve them--feed them, pet them, let them onto the sunporch, etc.). So, over the course of the week, the standby line was frequently referred to as the "peasant line" whereas when we had a FP+, we were in the "princess" line.) As for the show itself: this is the first time we've ever seen FoLK. OMG it's so amazing!! I coach gymnastics and I did quite a bit of dance as a kid, so this show was right up my alley. Costumes, choreography, eye contact by the performers, musicality, rhythm...every criterium that I could use to evaluate this show was an A+++. All the hype is well deserved. This is one of the best live performances that I've ever seen and I will never again go to AK without making this show a priority. awesome

After FoLK, we popped over to Flame Tree BBQ where we could use our newly acquired Tables in Wonderland card to save $5 (woohoo!) and then used our second FP+ to ride Kilmanjaro Safaris again where this time we saw the baby giraffe!!! and got a really good up close look at a zebra and saw an elephant...um...relieving himself. LOL! Those lazy cats were still sleeping--just like at home. We took a run through Maharajah Jungle Trek and we didn't see a single Tiger sad Our next FP+ was Dinosaur (yep, I did it!) eek It was alright and we survived, but we won't be beating down the doors to go back. Very dark, very corny story, Benn looked a little green afterward. The day trended downward a bit after Dinosaur. It started to get REALLY humid and the crowds seemed to be multiplying by the minute. We trekked over to Africa to ride the train to Affection Section because we were trying to kill time until the Jingle Jungle Parade. By the time we arrived at the Harambe train station, it was clear that I had lost Benn and if I made him kill another hour and a half in the park, I wasn't going to get to go back to MK later that night. So, after we petted the cute little sheeps and goats and donkeys, I called it a day and rescued Benn from his least favorite park. (In the interest of full disclosure, even though we both had a much better time today than we've had in the past, it's still my least favorite park, too. I really want to like this park, but I just can't get "into" it!) So, unfortunately, we missed the Jingle Jungle Parade, but it wasn't worth seeing it if I was going to get a cranky Benn in return!

(I have to share a personal story here about one of my gymnastics family's farm. They had 2 goats on the farm and they bought a miniature donkey. The first day they had the donkey, he got jealous of the goats, so he picked up one of them by the scruff of the neck and threw him in the pond! Every time I see a goat or a donkey, I think about this story and get a life-sized image of this happening and start giggling uncontrollably!)

Since we were in the area, we checked out the decorations at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Coronado Springs. I love the shop at AKL, so of course we browsed around there for a bit and we stayed at Coronado in 2012, so we stopped by to see our friend Burrito the "pin"-ata, Coronado's themed pin trading station.) I really liked the decorations at Coronado--White hibiscus garlands really accented the Spanish theme nicely. On our way from Coronado back to Saratoga, we passed a McDonalds that seems to be set squarely on Disney property, which we found very amusing.

After a quick recharge/ foot break/ water refill, we assembled ourselves for an evening at MK. We were both hungry for some sort of pizza or Italian dish, so we checked at Tony's to see if we might be able to snag a last minute table, but the wait was an hour and a half, so we opted for flatbreads at Pinocchio's instead. That should have been a sign that we should expect some crowds during the evening. Turns out that while Pinocchio's is a madhouse at lunchtime, it was nearly deserted at dinner. With our FP+ selections exhausted for the day, we set out in the oddly crowded park to see what we could do without waiting forever. We opted for the Liberty Square Riverboat, which I had not done since I was 9-years-old. We really enjoyed the ride, but the spot we picked on the boat (main level in the very front) had a great view, but no sound. Still, we enjoyed the ride and we just made up our on story. From there, we did Pirates, got some Dole Whips and did Carousel of Progress before making our way to Main Street.

Benn had really enjoyed the castle projection show at MVMCP and wanted to see it feeling well and I wanted to see Wishes and Celebrate the Magic from straight-on on Main Street. There was no way we were getting anywhere near the hub because the crowds for MSEP were insane. So we asked a (yet again helpful) cast member where they would recommend that we try to position ourselves to get a good spot for CtM and Wishes and he suggested that we try to position ourselves between Casey's Corner and Edy's. We tucked ourselves in an alcove outside of Main Street Bakery and attempted to wait out the parade. We actually made it about 30 minutes before we got relocated by a CM on traffic patrol because apparently the spot we picked was a fire hazard. We promised not to play with matches, but she was having none of it. SO we just moved inside of Main Street Bakery where no one else bothered about us. As soon as MSEP finished, we flooded out into the street and made our way to dead center on Main Street. We were right behind the rope for the walkway so there were no tall people in front of us!! Until a few dads directly in front of us put their children on their shoulders. Even so, it was still a great view--much better than we had at MVMCP. As people started to disperse after Wishes, we noticed that the curbs were going unclaimed, so we snagged a front row seat for MSEP.

While we were waiting on Main Street, I had been exchanging texts with Karlipants, who was also in the park, so after MSEP finished, we arranged a meet-up at Winnie the Pooh and chatted for a bit and then rode together. We were nearing the end of park hours by that point and we were getting hungry again, so we split with Karli and her husband after our ride to go find some food. I really wanted to try a waffle sandwich from Sleepy Hollow, but we quickly learned that waffle sandwiches are a lunchtime item, so off to Casey's for a midnight chili dog! I thought this was going to be a bad idea this late at night, but it turned out to be fine. The only mistake we made was that we forgot to split an order...ugh...too much food, but Benn loves Casey's Corner, so this was a great treat for him. We did some last minute pin trading and then had a very interesting conversation with Bill the bus driver while we waited for "the big bus" about how the drivers schedules work. I wish I could remember more details about what he told us, but when I learn something new late at night, it doesn't seem to stick with me very well. Just like that, we were down to 3 Disney days left...

I apologize in advance for the photos. We missed the elephant taking a dump. LOL! OOOH!! But I also just realized that I can name my pictures! Splendid!

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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I feel the same way you do about Animal Kingdom, but it's hubby's favorite park so skipping it is not an option (except for the time I went without him). The AK parade is also his favorite parade, but honestly I could take it or leave it, so I think your decision to skip the parade and go to MK was a good one.

More trip report, please!

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I didn't know that they don't serve waffle sandwiches at night! Good thing to keep in mind as I'd be really disappointed if we missed my beloved nutella and fruit waffle sandwich!

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Allie, I'm not 100% sure about the nutella and fruit, but I really wanted to try the chicken one and they definitely weren't doing the savory flavors late in the evening. I vaguely recall the sign saying that the sandwich I wanted to try was served until 5pm, but I can't say for certain that it applied to all waffle sandwiches.

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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It was great meeting you and Benn! Love the TR biggrin

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Allie wrote:
I didn't know that they don't serve waffle sandwiches at night! Good thing to keep in mind as I'd be really disappointed if we missed my beloved nutella and fruit waffle sandwich!

You can still get the nutella and fruit waffle at night (or at least you could as of last May). We had that for dinner one night, instead of a big meal.

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finngirl wrote:
Allie wrote:
I didn't know that they don't serve waffle sandwiches at night! Good thing to keep in mind as I'd be really disappointed if we missed my beloved nutella and fruit waffle sandwich!

You can still get the nutella and fruit waffle at night (or at least you could as of last May). We had that for dinner one night, instead of a big meal.

Awesome, thanks! clapping

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DAY 9: December 8

Today was the day of the walking. It was pretty low key as far as activities go, but we walked our feet off. I don't know if we quite hit 10 miles today, but we solidly surpassed 9. We started the day at EPCOT where we had FP+ for Soarin & Test Track (have I mentioned how bummed I am that we won't be able to schedule these two FP+ reservations on the same day anymore?). Crowds were super manageable this morning. This was more like what I was picturing for early December crowds.

Since we were done with our Future World must-dos before WS opened, I convinced Benn to do Journey into Imagination with me. He hates this ride for some reason, but I love it silly. He doesn't hate it because of some sort of allegiance to the old story because if he saw the original, he doesn't remember it. I saw the original and remember liking it, but I was just a kid and honestly, Horizons captured my imagination more than Figment did at that point. From what I've seen and remember, I did like the old version and I'm inclined to agree that it probably surpassed the current version, but I like this one ok, too. Another big difference between Benn and I--he doesn't like attractions where the song gets stuck in his head. I LOVE to still be singing the song from one of the morning's attractions when we get back to the room at night. Of course, I've been know to listen to the same 1/2 dozen songs over and over and over for 6 months at a time. (I've listened to nothing but Frozen in my car for the past two months.) It drives Benn insane, but I can't help it.

Since Tony's had been a bust the night before, we decided to try a walk-up at Via Napoli to see if we could get some pizza. They did not disappoint! We ordered a Mahgerita pizza with chicken sausage that was supposed to serve 2-3. Holy crap it was the 2nd biggest pizza I've ever seen (the first being Vinnie Van-go-go's in Savannah, GA). It was delicious and I was bummed that we missed out on the pistachio creme brulee at Tony's the night before, so we had the very delicious pistachio gelato. Then, in our only "here's free food because it's your anniversary" experience, our waitress brought out a free cupcake with two candles in it--very sweet!

We proceded the rest of the way around the world showcase in a clockwise fashion, stopping to shop at Italy and France. We couldn't decide what to bring home for my parents. They drove us to the airport and were picking us up and the took care of our cats and got the mail while we were away so we had to take them SOMETHING. Neither of them drink because of the medications that they are on, so bottle of wine is out and they've been talking lately about downsizing and they aren't really like "yay Disney" so a shirt or a random chotski or something doesn't really make sense for them. So usually we end up taking them some sort of food item. So funny little side story: My parents are not fancy people. They especially do not care about fancy food. Well, my aunt and my cousin (a pastry chef at Wolfgang Puck's "Cut" in Las Vegas) had gone to real Paris a few months earlier and my aunt brought along a box of macaroons in this fancy little box on her last visit to my parents' house. She made a point of telling my dad that they were $6 per cookie and the cookies were smaller than an Oreo (dad's favorite cookie). I thought my dad was going to fall on the floor when he found out that the amount she paid for one cookie could have bought two whole packs of Oreos. Well, we got this crazy idea to pickup sort of a gag gift--some real French macaroons to refill the fancy pants little French box that my mom had saved! Ok, Disney has a reputation for being super expensive for everything right? Well, macaroons in France, $6 each. macaroons at French pavilion in EPCOT, like $2.50ish each. Score. And, the reviews from the folks? The ones we brought home were better than the batch that actually came from France.

Upon leaving the France, I realized that I really really wanted a caramel apple from Germany and depending how the remainder of the day went, this could be the last time it was reasonably convenient to get one, so we doubled back to Germany quickly before continuing on to the UK.

At the UK pavilion, we picked up a can of English toffees for my mom that was shaped like Big Ben and had Peter Pan flying across it and a tin of some sort of chocolate biscuits for dad from the Twinings tea shop. I also brought dad a box of Oreos from our Walgreens stop "just in case he thought the British cookies to be no better than macaroons"! LOL. Realizing that the Holiday Voyageurs show had started as we were checking out, we booked it over to Canada only to find disappointment. I am still trying to catch Off Kilter, so I was excited about seeing these guys as a holiday replacement, but they were perfectly awful--mainly the vocalist was off key. A lot. This was the one "fail" of the Holidays Around the World presentations. (Except that China is an unknown because that is the only one that we didn't manage to catch.) I felt like this show had a lot of possibility and it was wasted on poor song selections and poor vocals. This afternoon I had promised Benn a nap, so we headed back to the room around 2:30.

After Benn woke up, we finished our leftover pizza for dinner and hopped into the mini-bus for Hollywood Studios. We wandered about for a little bit and then headed toward the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater for Fantasmic! This is my least favorite evening entertainment offering, but I do like to see it occasionally and Benn likes it, so onward we went! We have a great plan for seeing Fantasmic that hasn't failed us yet--we only go if it's hot out and then we claim the splash zone seats in whatever section is available. Using this strategy, we've been able to walk in 30 minutes before the show starts and still get excellent seats where we can snap a few decent pictures. One time we made the mistake of going on a cool night. The splash zone got a little chilly by the end of the show that night! After the show, we stopped at...um...I think it was Mickey's of Hollywood where I picked up my customary not-pandora (I forget what the brand is called--the one that has licensed Disney charms) charm for my bracelet and we got a funny Christmas light necklace for Benn's mom (which she absolutely loved!) before we walked back to Osbourne lights. Our strategy here was that since we couldn't be at the front of the line leaving Fantasmic! that we would just take our time working our way over to Streets of America and let most of the post-Fantasmic! crew funnel through. It worked like a charm. Osbourne take two was much less crowded and we really got a chance to explore all of the little details.

We had one FP+ left for the evening--preferred viewing for IllumiNations and we had been skipping it all week in anticipation of this special viewing area. So now we faced a decision--should we drive the mini-bus over to EPCOT and have to deal with both the closing crowds at Hollywood Studios and the closing crowds at EPCOT or should we walk/take the boat from HS to EPCOT and then have to come back for the car, but get to do so by exiting the park via International Gateway instead of out the main entrance of the park. Well, much to my surprise, Benn opted for walking to EPCOT! On previous trips, he would have opted for the boat, but he's been really diligent about working out, so his feet were much more accustomed to the abuse. So, off we went down the walking path to EPCOT. It was beautiful! On our way, we walked across the Boardwalk and grabbed a drink. When we arrived at the gate, the security guard took notice that we were celebrating our anniversary and asked us if we wanted to see the coolest thing going on at EPCOT that night. Well, of course we did, so he pointed to the fence beside the Mickey scanner and there was a bunny who was determined to eat an entire apple--and he seemed to be succeeding. During the course of my childhood, we had 10 different rabbits and I will tell you with some certainty that this was the first time that I have ever seen a rabbit eat an apple. Since we were early, we took the long way around to the Tower gift shops and we stopped at Germany (had I known this would happen, I would have waited for my caramel apple) for a caramel peanut butter cookie. I wish I had gotten a second apple instead as the cookie was not delicious. It was very dry and the caramel was completely overwhelmed by the peanut butter. Lesson learned. So we continued over to our reserved viewing spot, thoroughly enjoyed IllumiNations with the holiday tag and then started back toward the HS parking lot. Since we had enjoyed our walk so much, we decided to do it again.

We were on mostly repeat scenery by this point, so I don't have many pictures from today. The good news is that 3 out of 5 of them are of food!

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.