Big Family November Blow Out Trip!

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Kristen K.'s picture
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All the FOOOOOODZ!

Your tastes got off to a rocky start here, I was glad to see you liked some things down the line. I was super excited for Greece last year, and also super disappointed. You are braver than I trying the spam. I totally agree about the nitro chocolate truffle. And - That corned beef looks delish!

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Other Epcot Foods

Boulangerie Patisserie les Halles
We got the macaron that had the little raspberries inside as well as the macaron collection that came with a variety of macrons. OH MY GOSH these were amazing. How have I never made it to stop at this little shop of deliciousness before? I need to try every dessert here because they all looked amazing. And I need to make it a point to try lunch or breakfast here one day as well because the sandwiches looked yummy.

Lotus Blossom Cafe
I was surprisingly really impressed with this place. Don't get me wrong, it's cheap Chinese food, but I liked it way more then I expected to. It was a nice little tucked away spot too so there was almost no one there when we went over lunch. We actually ended eating here twice because we liked it so much. Penny is a huge Chinese food fan and she ate more here then she probably did total over the entire course of the trip. The Beef Noodle was good but the Orange Chicken is definitely the way to go.

Sommerfest
My mom and sister got the pretzel and the nudel gratin and I tried a bite of each. The pretzel was HUGE but just like any pretzel you can get anywhere else, and I thought the nudel gratin was gross. It was 100% flavorless and a mush mess, in my humble opinion.

Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe
I got the Viking Chocolate Mousse which I didn't enjoy a ton because it had a dark chocolate taste and I just am not a big dark chocolate fan, and then I also got the troll horn which was a nice option if you want something light but I didn't think had very much flavor. Personally I'll be going to France for dessert from now on.

Via Napoli
Holy hell yum. My one complaint about this restaurant is that the tables were REALLY close together. I mean REALLY close. Even for Disney standards. Like I constantly felt in the way while sitting at my own table. But I would eat there again in a heartbeat. The food was outstanding and reasonably priced and the waiters were attractive. What more do you need? We got the arancini which is the best arancini I have ever had anywhere ever, the mezzo metro of the pepperoni, and then an individual of the affumicata that had smoked salmon on it. I LOVE smoked salmon and we all agreed that it just didn't really work on the pizza, but it still wasn't bad and I'm glad we tried something different. That being said the pepperoni and the arancini are all I need in life.

Drinking Around the World
My sister and I attempted this challenge over two days so as not to get totally crazy and sick. Here's what I got:
Mexico Spicy Apple Margarita at the Mexico booth at Food & Wine. I do not recommend.
Norway White Zinfandel at Kringla...a cop out I know but I'm not a big beer drinker and I was NOT going to tod that Aquavit shot so I wasn't left which much in the authentic department here.
China Tipsy Ducks in Love from Joy of Tea. SO yummy and this has become a staple for me!
Germany You know I had to do that Grapefruit Beer. Even my sister got one and liked it and she hates beer.
Italy Rossini at Via Napoli. Yummy!
American Adventure Not Your Father's Rootbeer Float from Fife and Drum
Japan Blackberry Sake Mist = delicious! Another favorite here!
Morocco Tangierine Daiquiri at Morocco Coffee and Pasteries. I really like a good daiquiri but both mine and my sister's (who got a strawberry) were not very tasty.
France Duh a Grey Goose Citrus Slush from Les Vins!
United Kingdom Cider and Black from Rose and Crown Pub. This is the one location where they wouldn't check off our shirt. Not a big deal, they still were nice and gave us a suggestion for a British greeting to write in like the other Cast Members have done, they just weren't allowed to physically do it themselves. Kind of strange since no other place had an issue, but just something to note as a possible issue you may run into if attempting this yourself.
Canada I got the Montreal 75 and my sister got the Ottawa Apple, both from the Canada Popcorn Cart. Mine was ok but the Ottawa Apple was the winner.

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Hollywood Studios Foods

Sweet Spells
I finally tried the infamous carrot cake cookie here! It was fine but I wouldn't get it again just because I'm not a super big carrot cake fan so I'm probably not the best person to judge this. My mom, who is a HUGE carrot cake lover however, thought it was fabulous.

Backlot Express
I got the Caprese sandwhich, a couple people got the chili cheese dog, a couple of people got the Royal Guard Burger, and Penny got the Dark Side Chicken and Waffles. The fries were good and everything else was ok. Not terrible, not great. But if I can find even decent food at Hollywood Studios I'm pretty satisfied.

Sci-Fi Diner
This place is only worth going to for the experience, in my opinion, and even that was just ok. The environment was cool but the seating in the cars, while a very unique option, is not very conducive to dining with a group. I think I would have felt weird if I were sitting in a car with strangers, but it was also weird to have my entire family sitting two by two behind me. The food was just meh, nothing great. I had the salmon fajita salad which was very dry and under dressed. I believe Jon did a burger and just about everyone else did apps and a milkshake which is the way I would go if I were to dine here again. I do have to give props to our server though who was absolutely fantastic.

Fairfax Fare
I just got the seasonal Bailey's Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa here. It was very yummy but laughably small for the $9.25 price tag. Hand in photo for size reference.

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Allie wrote:

Via Napoli
The food was outstanding and reasonably priced and the waiters were attractive. What more do you need?

We got the arancini which is the best arancini I have ever had anywhere ever,

Yes, yes, yes!! All of these things make Via Napoli one of my favorites. Also, they turned me into an arancini lover. I had some at Citricos the night before and didn't care for them, then I tried them again at Via Napoli and fell in love.

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Resort Foods

Big River Grille
First place we ate on this trip was Big River Grille. We walked up a bit after the lunch hour and, as a group of 7, were seated immediately with no problem. Our server was fabulous and the food was ok. Pretty on par with a local Applebees in both price, variety, and quality. Nothing special but nothing terrible. I got the fish tacos, Jon got the Kobe Burger, and I believe my mom got the meatloaf. I honestly don't remember what everyone else got.

ESPN Club
I have no personal feedback on this as I didn't eat there, but my family did on the night we were at Flying Fish. They thought it was....not great...

Boardwalk Bakery
I ate here once on this trip and Penny and Jon ate here twice. I had the two cheese focaccia which, for $10, I expected to be a focaccia grilled cheese but really was just a giant piece of focaccia with some bread melted on top. It was very yummy but didn't have enough going on to be a real meal. The cucumber salad that came with it was great! Jon got the meatball sub which I believe he enjoyed and I think Penny had the mac and cheese. We also got a couple of baked goods here which were all fun but nothing that blew my mind, especially considering it has "bakery" in the title. I fine spot for a quick stop, though.

Flying Fish
I will start off by saying that I think I was too over hyped for this one. The restaurant was beautiful, our server was incredible, and our appetizers were outstanding. The main dishes, however, were just ok. Like, we dropped around $50 for each plate and we each left half of it sitting there. I did one of the wine flights and then we shared the Evolution of Cheese and the Kurobuta Pork Belly. I don't know if I've ever ordered a cheese plate before, but if they are all like this I'm going to start! The pork belly literally melted in your mouth. It was delicious. If we had stopped there we would have walked away super pleased. I did the Wagyu Filet which, while cooked perfectly, was quiet chewy and didn't have a ton of flavor. Jon got the Wood-fired Spanish Octopus, Chilean Sea Bass, and Key West Pink Shrimp. Everything on the plate tasted 100% exactly the same as everything else on the plate, including the vegetables and risotto it was served with. Neither were terrible and we didn't leave the restaurant unhappy, I just was a bit disappointed with the entrees, especially considering the price tag.

Trader Sam's
I've had drinks here before but never food. It was delicious! The grotto was of course packed as it was a Friday night, so we ate outside which would have been much more pleasant if it weren't so chilly. The service we received out there was pretty lacking, and it was obviously a bummer to not get the big show that comes along with the drinks inside, but it was all just as yummy as you could hope for. My sister and I shared the Uh-Oa! if for no other reason then I wanted the mug, and then as a table we shared the Headhunter Sushi Roll, the Chicken Lettuce Cups, the Kahlua Pork Tacos, the Corn-Battered Portuguese Sausages, and the Pan-Fried Dumplings. It was all great but surprisingly I liked the the sausages the best and I probably would have predicted that to have been my least favorite.

O'hana Breakfast
This one was another disappointment for me. We had an 11:30am reservation which we checked in for at 11:30am on the dot. We waited in the 20+ minute line to meet Stitch for about .3 seconds, and then were seated 40 minutes after our reservation time. I really enjoyed the breakfast potatoes, we went through about 5 pitchers of the POG juice, and we all really liked the ham which, again, is not a normal favorite for most of us. The eggs came out really inconsistent though; half the time they were overdone and half the time they came out pretty running, which is off putting with scrambled eggs. I also found it strange we were never offered any other drink options then the POG juice and the coffee that was brought to the table. Is this normal? Our server was great though and made sure we were always refilled on everything we wanted.

The character interaction, however, was really sad. Now, I understand that we were probably in the last seating and they were obviously running quiet behind. By the time we finished up our meal, we were one of the last couple of tables still in the restaurant. So the characters are also behind schedule and are trying to quickly finish up their shift. I totally get it. That being said, for the price you pay for those character meals, I don't really care. It's not my fault that we were seated so late. Like I said, the Stitch meet was very quick and the PhotoPass photographer was pretty abrupt. Pluto was quick but fine, we've met him before. Mickey completely skipped our table and we had to go chase him down as he was meeting with his last table. But the biggest disappointment was Lilo. Penny had been REALLY looking forward to this one. Lilo was why we had booked this meal to begin with. She stopped by our table, signed our book, gave Penny a hug, and posed for one picture with Penny. We asked her quickly if she would do a surfing pose with Penny as we have a surfing picture with Stitch from back in February and I had wanted to put them up together in her room. Instead of taking one more quick picture, Lilo waved and walked off. Didn't even wait to see if anyone else at the table wanted a picture or a signature. Luckily Penny seemed unphased so I brushed it off and didn't let it bum me out too much, but as far as character meals that we have had go, I would have to rate this one as the lowest.

Trattoria al Forno
This character meal, on the other hand, would rank as one of our highest character meals. The food was great, the location was beautiful, and the character interactions were incredible. We didn't even have to wait a crazy amount of time for the characters like you sometimes do at a character meal; they all came around in the time it took to order our food and eat and they all spent a good amount of time with us. Rapunzel played peekaboo with Penny while we sat in the lobby waiting to be seated. Flynn Rider came over to our table multiple times to throw in some more jabs about Prince Eric. Ariel and Eric were both lovely. Jon got the King Triton's Shipwreck al Forno which he wasn't a big fan of but said it was totally personal preference and that everything on it was well prepared. I got the Simmers Delight which was heaping with smoked salmon and goat cheese, two of my favorite things. I accidentally got brought the King Triton's Shipwreck to start with as well, but once I told our server about the mistake she had a new plate out of me within minutes. The pastries were all great and I'm not a big pastry person. I especially enjoyed the chocolate chip braid. All said and done, this meal was worth every penny we paid for it.

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Allie, Yes the cheese plates are like that at a lot of places, I get then all over the place at Disney, for apps and for desserts! Do you know what kind of cheeses they were? Always keep that paper they give you with the cheeses that describes them.

The Wagyu Filet should not of been chewy in the least, as a matter of fact, you should have been able to cut it with a spoon and it melt in your mouth. If it didn't, you should have sent it back, seriously. Also the Wagyu should have an exceptional flavor. Sound like you got a poor cut or it may have been Japanese Wagyu. How did you get it cooked?

That Wood-fired Spanish Octopus, Chilean Sea Bass look awesome & the wine flight sounded good too! I just had some fresh octopus list night from a local restaurant that was magnificent!

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MrHub wrote:
Allie, Yes the cheese plates are like that at a lot of places, I get then all over the place at Disney, for apps and for desserts! Do you know what kind of cheeses they were? Always keep that paper they give you with the cheeses that describes them.

The Wagyu Filet should not of been chewy in the least, as a matter of fact, you should have been able to cut it with a spoon and it melt in your mouth. If it didn't, you should have sent it back, seriously. Also the Wagyu should have an exceptional flavor. Sound like you got a poor cut or it may have been Japanese Wagyu. How did you get it cooked?

That Wood-fired Spanish Octopus, Chilean Sea Bass look awesome & the wine flight sounded good too! I just had some fresh octopus list night from a local restaurant that was magnificent!

I know, I totally failed on not grabbing the sheet or taking a picture of it like I did with the flight! They were all super delicious. The last one was either a bleu or a gorganzola because I don't normally like either and I was surprised that I enjoyed it. I don't know if it was more mild then most or if the progression helped work me up to it, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed the entire plate.

I know I probably should have said something about the filet, but honestly I wouldn't have been hungry enough by the time they prepped another one. It wasn't inedible, it just wasn't enjoyable and when I'm dropping $55 on a steak I don't think I should walk away feeling like I've had significantly better at our local Texas Roadhouse eek I got it cooked medium rare so I was not expecting how tough the meat was. I would absolutely give this place another go for the ambiance, appetizers, and service alone, though.

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I realized I missed a couple of Boardwalk restaurants soooooo....

Resort Foods Cont.

Abracadabar
Let's start with the positive. This place is so cute and I love the decor. The Spiced Fries are to DIE for. I need to go back for those alone. The service and the drinks however were underwhelming. When we sat down, the place was just emptying out. We grabbed a table as a few others got up, and by the time we looked over the menu, there were several tables open. We were overwhelmed with the drink choices so we asked our server what she recommended. She shrugged, said "Depends on what you like," and walked away. Helpful, thank you. We Googled which of the drinks had a special table-side presentation and ordered based on that. I got the Conjurita which, according to DFB, is traditionally poured at the table and changes colors. I don't remember what Megan got (but I know it was one that was supposed to have some magical element as well) and Gill got the non-alcoholic Seashore Sweet that is supposed to come out with cotton candy in one glass, the drink in another, and then the drink poured over it to make the cotton candy "disappear". Our three drinks came out on a tray already prepared and, if I hadn't known that there was supposed to have been a magical aspect to them, I would have had no idea. I don't know if they have stopped doing this presentation for some reason or if our server was just really not into three younger girls at her table, but I feel like the specialty drinks were part of the draw of this bar and there was really nothing special about them without the show aspect. Plus they were pretty dang pricey for what you got.

Ample Hills
Gill and I stopped here on our way back from Epcot one night. We each sampled a couple of things, but I ended up getting the PB Wins the Cup. It was super yummy and the shop is adorable with lots of fun options. I will definitely be back next time we're in the area.

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Disney Springs Foods

Earl of Sandwich
This was our first time here and I will definitely be back! The food was so good and so ridiculously reasonably priced. Jon and I split the Italian and then also ate most of Penny's pizza bread as she was in a mood and not wanting to participate in anything, including eating. Both were delicious and everyone else at the table enjoyed there meals as well. With our 10% AP discount we fed seven people for $56.73 which is pretty dang awesome, especially by Disney standards.

Daily Poutine
This was a first for us as well and definitely not the last. We got the classic poutine and it was awesome. I'm really regretting not getting the Fireball cocktail as well so we will definitely be back.

Jock Lindsey's Hanger Bar
I've been here once on my own for a drink, but Jon had never been and I've never gotten food there so we stopped by on our way to Cirque. The atmosphere here is awesome. Great theming and every relaxed. It hasn't been busy either time I've been here. I went with the Safari Sangria which was a fine, pretty typical tasting sangria. I can't remember what our server talked Jon into, maybe the Singapore Sling? Whatever it was it was quiet strong and, even though I helped him with most of it, he was quiet tipsy as someone who rarely drinks. We also shared the Air Pirate's Pretzels which were quiet good but extremely overpriced for the potion you get.

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Allie wrote:

Resort Foods Cont.

Abracadabar
Our three drinks came out on a tray already prepared and, if I hadn't known that there was supposed to have been a magical aspect to them, I would have had no idea. I don't know if they have stopped doing this presentation for some reason or if our server was just really not into three younger girls at her table, but I feel like the specialty drinks were part of the draw of this bar and there was really nothing special about them without the show aspect.

How disappointing! No wonder you had missed reporting on this one. I would have been pretty upset if I had ordered drinks for the show and got nada.

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I got the Seashore Sweet and nothing fancy for me either.

I loved the PB Wins the Cup at Amples Hills.

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JoAnn C wrote:
I got the Seashore Sweet and nothing fancy for me either.

I loved the PB Wins the Cup at Amples Hills.

Huh. I wonder why they stopped doing that! I loved the idea that the drinks had a "magical" aspect to them to fit the bar's theming.

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Allie wrote:
JoAnn C wrote:
I got the Seashore Sweet and nothing fancy for me either.

I loved the PB Wins the Cup at Amples Hills.

Huh. I wonder why they stopped doing that! I loved the idea that the drinks had a "magical" aspect to them to fit the bar's theming.

We were there the same night I think. Maybe it was just bartender working that night. Will have to try it again.

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JoAnn C wrote:
Allie wrote:
JoAnn C wrote:
I got the Seashore Sweet and nothing fancy for me either.

I loved the PB Wins the Cup at Amples Hills.

Huh. I wonder why they stopped doing that! I loved the idea that the drinks had a "magical" aspect to them to fit the bar's theming.

We were there the same night I think. Maybe it was just bartender working that night. Will have to try it again.

awesome awesome awesome

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Allie wrote:

Huh. I wonder why they stopped doing that! I loved the idea that the drinks had a "magical" aspect to them to fit the bar's theming.

I'm going to put out some feelers on this.

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Kristen K. wrote:
Allie wrote:

Huh. I wonder why they stopped doing that! I loved the idea that the drinks had a "magical" aspect to them to fit the bar's theming.

I'm going to put out some feelers on this.

According to AJ over at the Disney Food Blog, there are no more "magic drinks." My guess is that it was a staffing/budget issue. None the less, I am insanely disappointed.

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Kristen K. wrote:
Kristen K. wrote:
Allie wrote:

Huh. I wonder why they stopped doing that! I loved the idea that the drinks had a "magical" aspect to them to fit the bar's theming.

I'm going to put out some feelers on this.

According to AJ over at the Disney Food Blog, there are no more "magic drinks." My guess is that it was a staffing/budget issue. None the less, I am insanely disappointed.

That is such a bummer! That's what separated it from every other lounge, in my opinion.

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The Highlights

Boardwalk
Our room and view at The Boardwalk were beautiful! The location was amazing and Penny was obsessed with the pool. She would have spent all day everyday going on the clown slide if we would have let her. Being able to walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios was crazy awesome.

Crowds and Weather
The weather was just about perfect and, while busy, only our Sunday at the Food & Wine festival felt unbearably crowded. This was the second to the last day of the festival so we did expect it to be crazy, but you could barely move. Other then that, we were able to get most of what we wanted accomplished. The days that Magic Kingdom opened at 7am were bomb! I was annoyed about having to get up so early to make my rope drop plans a reality, but we walked on just about everything for the first two hours we were there in the mornings. It was amazing! Penny was the first one to meet Cinderella and Elena one morning, had no wait for Rapunzel and Tiana, went on some rides, and then met with Rapunzel and Tiana AGAIN with no wait. Did I mention she met Cinderella and Elena twice, Tiana four times, and Rapunzel five times on the course of this trip?

Lots of Firsts for Penny
Penny finally hit 40 inches so she rode Test Track, Big Thunder, Soarin', Splash Mountain, and Tower of Terror, all for her first time ever! It was so fun to get to experience these attractions with her! She loved Test Track, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder (except the time we rode in the back...she got upset with getting jostled around so much) and was OBSESSED with Soarin'. We rode it at least 5 times this trip. Tower of Terror we weren't going to take her on, but she didn't want to sit off with my mom and promised she would be super brave. She did good! She never cried, but the ride did go on a little too long for her and she is wavering about if she will go on it again this trip.

Enchanted Tales with Belle
Penny got to be Maurice this trip and we volunteered my baby sister for the wardrobe which was hilarious! Penny has now been Maurice, Chip, and the salt shaker multiple times, but she is on the hunt for more roles to play! laugh

Kilimanjaro Safaris'
Our safari this trip started out pretty lame, but the second half was really active! We had to stop at one point for a Ankole-Watusi (totally had to google what this was called, so don't be too impressed...) that was crossing our path, we had the best view of the giraffes that I've ever seen, and we watched the male lion roar!

Meeting a "Celebrity"
Penny had her first viewing of the Indiana Jones Stunt Show which I was shocked how much she loved! She even asked if we could watch the movie at home sometime. We met Indy and Marion afterwards...but Marion was Jackie, THE Marion from the Disney Planning DVD. Super nerdy, I know, but we watch that with Penny all the time so we were pretty excited.

Sunset Seasons Greetings at Hollywood Studios
I LOVED this addition to Hollywood Studios! Of course it doesn't replace the Osbourne lights, but I really enjoyed this! I wish we would have had more time to take it all in. And we missed Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam which I'm pretty bummed about.

Minnie Vans
We only used this once, but I think it's a great offering. We probably will only ever choose it over Uber when we're traveling to and from Magic Kingdom because of the MUCH superior drop off point, but I can see how it would be an incredible value for larger families with multiple kids needing car seats.

Marceline to the Magic Kingdom Tour
We loved this! It was the perfect length, our tour guide was awesome, and going backstage at the Haunted Mansion was worth the price alone. Jon said it even made him appreciate Carousel of Progress and It's a Small World more (two attractions he despises...I know, I know).

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
The party was awesome and Penny handled the late night like a champ! Enough so that we're already planning on Mickey's Not So Scary for next October. I thought we were going to have to cut out early, but Gill, Penny, and I were the last of our group still there at the end of the night, and she was still awake when we rolled up to Boardwalk at 12:15am. The rare characters were super fun and the parade was awesome! We only had one minor and one major downer which I'll get to later...

Meeting Santa at Disney Springs
Our Santa wasn't overly friendly or interactive, but I still have to give props to this whole setup. Being able to walk through the Christmas tree trail, play in the "snow", and have a pager rather then waiting in line? All fantastic!

Character Palooza
We try and hit this at least once every trip, and it is always such a great time! You will sometimes get some rare characters, and you generally get some more time to interact as there are so few people there. The characters generally seem a lot more present and excited to be there, probably because they haven't just been imeeting with thousands of other people for the last several hours. This time we met Pinnochio, Geppeto, Bert, Mary Poppins, Chip, Dale, Aladdin, and Jasmine. Bert even sang Jolly Holiday with Penny and danced the penguin dance with her!

ECV
While my mom did have a lot of issues with people cutting her off and her getting separated from the group that could classify as lowlights, for the most part I'm super glad we rented a scooter for her and it was neat to get to see how seamlessly Disney works accessibility into the park. All of the cast members we encountered were fantastic.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
We had a great experience here! We did the basic Crown Package and brought in our own costume, and you would never have known we didn't pay for the full experience. Penny got changed in the dressing room and was escorted to her personal Fairy Godmother in Training who was absolutely amazing. The whole process took around 30ish minutes. Do I think it was worth the money I paid? For the experience, yes. Would I do it again? Probably not. I definitely think it's something you should do once though if you're able.

Riding the Teacups with Alice
That's right! We arrived a little before 8:00am for her 8:35am meet and greet. Penny was Disneybounding as Alice and we only had one other family in line behind us when two cast members came out around 8:15am. They chatted with us, and Penny talked to them about the squirrel she had been watching in the garden. The two cast members went backstage (between the Merida meet and greet area and Chesire Cafe, and minutes later Alice came out from the same spot with a Photopass photographer behind her (about 8:20am now) and asked Penny if she wanted to ride with her. It was hands down one of the most magical experiences we've had at Disney and I bawled the entire time. I can also promise you that those initial cast members that came out were scoping the area because Penny told us later that Alice talked to her about her squirrel friend that we had been talking with those two about.

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I love how she is holding out her top like Alice.

you missed one highlight though. Meeting me. Smile

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Of course, how could I forget! Our mini meetup was a big highlight of our trip! Our first night there, Jon and I snuck away to upgrade our tickets to Annual Passes, purchase Tables in Wonderland, start our Food and Wine Festival touring, and meet up with JoAnn, Lauren and Bob and Eloise, and Corey and Michelle and their Penny. Super fun and all such sweet people!

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Penny is getting so big! What a good girl going on all of those big kid rides, that's amazing. I remember when she was just a little bean.

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Kristen K. wrote:
Penny is getting so big! What a good girl going on all of those big kid rides, that's amazing. I remember when she was just a little bean.

I know, right?! She had Kindergarten registration last night gaah