Birthday on the Boardwalk: Trip Report

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alicemouse's picture
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Birthday on the Boardwalk: Trip Report

Well, today is a terribly exciting and sad day--Thursday, April 10. It is terribly sad because I woke up at home this morning instead of at WDW, especially because I'm reading this morning about the beautiful festivities taking place today to celebrate the 50th anniversary of It's a Small World and I missed getting to celebrate the milestone in the parks by just one day. But, it DOES mean that I get to sing along in my living room at the top of my lungs without making anyone's ears bleed AND I GET TO WRITE A TRIP REPORT and to make a new photo book for us and for my parents. So, in the immortal words of Peter Pan, HERE WE GOOOOO!!!

For those who may not know me yet, here is the cast of characters for out Birthday on the Boardwalk Trip:

Holly: ME! I'm a 33-year-old (well, I was 32 when we started the trip...) realtor/gymnastics coach from Hanover, PA. I love Disney (especially Disney parks, Disney history, pin collecting, movies--animated and live-action, and drawing & painting), cats, giraffes, baseball, and above all else, spending time with my family. I still do some light gymnastics on occasion and I'm currently training for the ToT 10-miler in October.

Benn: my 34-year-old DH who is a paralegal. He loves Disney (though not as much as I do), Star Wars, Dr. Who, other various sci-fi related things, reading, and writing novels (he's written 5--hoping that some day he'll actually try to get one published!)

Mom: My mom turned 59 on April fools day, so I wasn't the only one celebrating this weekend. Mom works as an assistant to the Principal at our local high school. Before that she ran two businesses--a dry-cleaners and a phone sales & payment center. She has been battling epilepsy for 23 years, so we had some considerations to deal with when traveling with her. Adequate rest is especially important for her as not having enough rest can trigger her condition. Mom is very adventurous, but she is partial to cruise vacations because they are very relaxing.

Dad: My dad turned 59 on St. Patrick's day, so it turns out that poor Benn was the only one left out with no spring birthday to celebrate on this trip. Dad works for a local construction company as a commercial property manager and he still does handy work on the side as a residual from when he used to do residential construction for himself. Dad suffered from congestive heart failure 8 years ago and has had two surgeries to correct chronic arrhythmia. He also had damaged cartilage removed from his left knee in December. So, how dad would fare in the parks was a point of much concern for everyone--especially because he was NOT going to use a scooter or a wheelchair. No way. No how. Let's say he's a little bit stubborn.

Benn and I were taking our second trip on our Premium Annual passes and mom & dad were using a 5-day MYW ticket with no park hopper. We flew Southwest from BWI to MCO and stayed in a 1BR standard view villa at Boardwalk Villas for 5 days from April 5 thru April 9.

Our morning was crazy rushed. We were planning to leave home at 4am originally for our 6:20am flight. Fortunately, we decided to leave at 3:45 because I seriously think we would have missed our flight had we been 15 minutes later. It takes an hour to drive to BWI from our house early in the morning. Well, even though we had sufficient gas in the car, dad insisted on making a stop for a snack and a drink at Rutter's (a local gas station/minimart) and then even though we were running closer on time than I like, he decided that we should park in the economy lot, which not only takes longer to drive to, but also takes longer to get a bus. We just missed the bus to the airport and waited almost 15 minutes for another. When we got inside, the line for Southwest check-in was almost to the end of the roped area. We had out boarding passes of course, but we still needed to check our bags. Then we got in the security line which was not only LONG, but VERY slow moving. I'm going to say that there were probably 40 people in front of us with 2 stations in operation. I didn't time it exactly, but my best guess was that we waited for about 50 minutes to reach the checkpoint. This was without question the longest that I have ever waited for airport security and on a 6:20am flight, I thought it was particularly crazy. It was like that dream where you have somewhere to be, but things keep getting in the way and you can see the place that you're trying to get to, but you just can't get there.

Thankfully, mom & dad were assigned pre-check status and were able to snag the exit row plus the window and middle seats immediately behind them and they gave me the window set with extra leg room. I had tons of breathable air all around me with no seat back in my face AND I was able to see outside. As someone who suffers from anxiety brought on by severe claustrophobia, this was by far the most comfortable I have ever been on a plane. We walked onto the plane at 6:16. We must have been the last passengers to board because we stowed our bags an within 2 minutes, the doors were closed and we were preparing to fly. The best part about the flight other than the best seat on a plane ever was the hilarious flight attendant who did hilarious pantomimes and cracked jokes with us the entire flight. Our flight was bumpy, but otherwise uneventful, and best of all, we arrived almost 15 minutes ahead of schedule. This actually put us right on time because traversing the airport with dad was not a fast procedure. We arrived at Magical Express check-in and Benn attempted to scan his MagicBand. Blue light. Crap. I scanned mine. Green Light. Ok, I made the ME reservation. Maybe it was only linked to my band.

On to the Boardwalk!! We boarded the bus at 8:35. After about 10 minutes, we were on our way! We stopped at Caribbean Beach, but we were at the Boardwalk by 9:20. We had been to the Boardwalk lobby previously, so we knew what to expect, but all mom & dad had were a few pictures and when they walked in, mom's jaw just dropped. Mom & I used to go to the beach together every year when I was a kid. Our local beach is Ocean City, MD and it's basically a dump. We still love it, but you wouldn't find a hotel like Boardwalk in the heart of Ocean City and the boardwalk shops there are t-shirt shops and cheesy souvenir stands.

We checked in and described to the Cast Member the trouble that we had encountered with Benn's MB at the airport and she recommended that we visit the concierge to make sure that everything was set before we went to the park. We did and after several tries, Rebecca at concierge was able to link Benn's band to my MDE account and pick-up his info. Or so we thought. Apparently what happened was that Benn's band was linked to the account, but was not active. All three of my bands (December trip, AP, and April trip) were active on the account, but only Benn's December band was active. It figures. That was the one set of bands that I left at home because "there was no way that we could possibly need them." When we go in May, I'm taking every MB in the house along. So, band issue solved (or so we thought). Park Time!! We left for EPCOT with assurance from Boardwalk check-in staff that we would receive a text when our room was ready.

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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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Well, that was an eventful start to your trip. And 3:45 am? If I'm up at 3:45 am, it's because I haven't been to bed yet!

Looking forward to the next installment, and especially to our DHS meet-up! I'll be writing up my version of that day tomorrow.

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Prior to our trip, I was very excited about taking mom & dad to EPCOT. Dad remembered enjoying EPCOT the most of any park and was the most interested in going there out of all of the parks. Mom loves flowers and she used to spend a lot of her free time gardening before dealing with my grandmother's health issues and helping my uncle to keep up the bookwork on his auto repair business became her standard evening activities. Unfortunately, some circumstances came along that made our EPCOT experience the worst park experience of the trip. (I'm actually fine with that because it lowered expectations so that everything else that we did on the trip seemed amazing by comparison.)

Issue #1: Benn's band was NOT fixed. The room reservation was linked, but the park tickets were not. On my MDE account, everything looked like it was linked perfectly, btw. Not a huge deal because we brought his AP card and that has his tickets and FP selections, so the band issues did not detract from our vacation. It was just annoying for Benn to have to get his card out all the time. He was also tired and cranky.

Issue #2: Dad was tired. He's working on a house flipping project and was trying to finish up a bunch of things on Friday before we left. We got up very early in the morning to get ready to go to the airport. He had to walk a long distance at the airport, so he was wiped out before we even got into EPCOT. World Showcase was not open, so we had nothing to really look at or do on the way to the Land pavilion. I know that the attractions at EPCOT are pretty far apart, especially in Future World, but I never realized how long the queue is for Soarin' because we're usually chattering away as we walk through the queue. That was the first ride that we did and dad was pretty much toast after that.

Issue #3: There was a preponderance of mumbling, unhappy, inaudible cast members at EPCOT. It was so bad that I was starting to think that we were at Hersheypark.

I was looking forward to entering EPCOT through the International gateway, but it would have been more convenient and seemed like less walking if we could have entered through the EPCOT main entrance for this part of the day. Oh well, we did the best we could. We looked at the flowers along the way and stopped at the butterfly house, which mom really liked. Our first ride was Soarin on FP and mom loved it. Dad slept through a lot of the ride. We stopped for lunch at Sunshine Seasons and then rode Living with the Land on FP. Next up was Innoventions for the Great Piggy Bank Adventure while we waited for our Nemo FP. Benn and I split ourselves up - one with each parent - because dad + technology is sometimes not a good combo. Mom & dad are really diligent about making good financial choices and both are very anxious to retire, so they really had fun with this game. We used out last FP for the day for Nemo, which was a total waste. We actually ended up in the merged line behind people who had entered the standby line after we entered the FP line. The only other thing that we had planned was Figment and that would have been a waste of a FP, too, so it didn't really mater.

After Figment, we still had not received a text about our room being ready. It was almost 2:30 by this point, so it seemed unlikely that our room really wasn't ready yet. We decided to just go back to Boardwalk and check because dad could barely keep his eyes open and he was walking slower and slower with each step.

Luckily, our room was ready, so we headed up to the 5th floor to room 5075 to find that our checked bags had even been delivered. The 1BR villa at Boardwalk was very nice. The only thing I would have changed was that there were two bathrooms, but only one toilet. For 4 people, it would have been nice to have one in each bathroom. The bath attached to the bedroom had a whirlpool tub (so nice to soak my feet in this tub) and a sink. The other bath had a shower, a toilet, and a sink. Everyone laid down for a nap and we woke up and reassembled around 6:00 for dinner.

Dad was not excited about going back to EPCOT for dinner, but we asked him to try now that the sun had nearly set and it was much cooler. He ended up being glad that we went back for a few hours because we didn't make it back to EPCOT the rest of the week. We had counter service at Les Halles in France. I had the apple and brie sandwich (no idea what the French name is) and the Lobster Bisque. Dad had the Croque Mosiuer (sp? sorry. Spanish gal here. French is NOT my language. Por favor mantenganse alejado de las puertas.) Mom and Benn each had a different quiche. From there, we continued to the American pavilion for a Piggylicious Maple Bacon Cupcake. Personally, it was a miss for me, but I don't really care for maple flavored foods, so I would have been more surprised if I had liked it. Everyone else thought it was pretty tasty, but no one was jumping up and down over it. We stopped in Germany for dad to look at the model train. He has been collecting trains since he was 5-years-old and he must have hundreds. He build a layout in the basement that must be 10' by 40' with buildings, little trees, etc. He's in the process of preparing the trains to sell so that he and mom can downsize eventually, but he still loves to look at trains and ride on trains and look at other people's layouts. Our last stop was for a caramel apple.

I wanted to go the whole way around, but since it was slightly shorter to turn around and go back to International Gateway, that was the better plan. We started back and ended up watching some of IllumiNations from Japan before continuing on to the boat. I was pleasantly surprised that we hardly had to wait at all for the boat even though IllumiNations ended before we reached the dock. Had it been just Benn and I, we would have walked back to Boardwalk, but obviously having dad necessitated waiting for the boat.

Mom & dad missed Spaceship Earth, Test Track, and the topiaries and snacks in Mexico, Norway, and China. We also did not visit Club Cool or the Flower & Garden Festival Center. I was a little bit disappointed about that, but we were able to see lots of things that mom & dad really liked, so it all worked out. That was the end of day 1. Dad definitely had an easier time in the evening since he had had a chance to take a nap and the World showcase is more compact than Future World is.

I didn't take a lot of pictures on day 1 because honestly, I was pretty tired, too!

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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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crazycatperson wrote:
Well, that was an eventful start to your trip. And 3:45 am? If I'm up at 3:45 am, it's because I haven't been to bed yet!

Looking forward to the next installment, and especially to our DHS meet-up! I'll be writing up my version of that day tomorrow.

That's usually me, too, but on such a short trip, I was trying to cram in the most possible Disney time! laugh

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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 2: Hollywood Studios

One of the biggest surprises of the trip for me was how difficult it was to get mom & dad moving in the morning. We took a cruise together in 2005 and dad & I got up every morning at 6 and went to the gym. Dad's an early bird all the time (or used to be) and I get up early on vacation just because I don't want to miss one single second of fun. On a normal day, dad often gets up by 4-4:30, but this week, getting him to be ready to leave for the parks by 8:00 was a challenge. It was like an alternate reality for me.

So, it was about 8:15 until we made our way out of the room and headed for the boat dock to ride to DHS. In total, Benn and I think that we prefer Saratoga slightly to Boardwalk, but there is no denying that the boat transportation to EPCOT and DHS is FANTASTIC! We made it into the park a few minutes after 9. Since we had a FP for Toy Story, I didn't worry too much about what time we were arriving and we ambled casually toward the hat. Dad saw Goofy out doing pictures and asked about whether or not we could get a picture with him, so I said sure and we hopped in line. Goofy did the bit where he pretended to be stealing mom & me from dad & Benn and mom thought that was just hysterical, so it was a great character interaction for them.

From there, we made our way to Toy Story. This was the one ride where I was a little bit worried about mom's epilepsy because she is very sensitive to spinning and backwards motion. (We sometimes take the metro into Baltimore for the Orioles games and mom has to sit facing forward because riding backwards in the train for 4-5 minutes at a time makes her nauseous and dizzy.) So I explained the motion of the cars to her and let her watch the beginning and end of the ride from the bridge and she said she was confident that she would be okay. Fortunately the ride was uneventful. Both mom & dad enjoyed themselves and thought is was a great ride. Benn won out of our family, but we were still both in the "cat" prize category.

After Toy Story was One Man's Dream. It turns out that this was a first for Benn! I hadn't really though about it, but it was closed for refurb on our first trip together and that's one of my go-to attractions while I wait for him to ride ToT or RnR, so I never drag him to the movie. This attraction was a big hit with everyone. Dad in particular loves behind the scenes stuff, so DHS was a real win for him.

After One Man's Dream, we were ideally going to catch Voyage of the Little Mermaid, but our timing was off for the shows, so we did some pin trading and watched the Citizens of Hollywood while we waited for our GMR FP to open up. When it did, we hopped on quick and then proceeded directly to ABC for lunch so we could get to Indiana Jones in a timely fashion. I don't know about you guys, but I hate waiting in line for GMR. I always feel like the wait is about 10x's longer than whatever is posted out front, so this was the perfect use of a FP for us. The last time that I did GMR, we had a really poor tour guide, so I'm happy to report that our guide this time was significantly better. She seemed unsure of herself and a little nervous, but at least she was better!

ABC is one of our favorite QS destinations in DHS. Both Benn and I tend to stick with the burger with the shrimp on top. Mom tried the Asian salad, which she liked very much, and I think Dad had a bacon cheeseburger. They both commented throughout the trip that they remembered Disney food as being very expensive and not at all delicious. They were very impressed that while the food is much more expensive than you would find in our local market, it was not completely outrageous and at the end of the trip, neither of them could name a place that we had eaten that they wouldn't like to go back to again.

While we were at ABC Commissary, we met up with Mr. & Mrs. CCP and made plans to watch Indiana Jones together. The idea was that since we got a FP, we would save two extra seats so we could all sit together. Well, dad being a little on the slow side again, we actually missed the very small window of opportunity to choose the best seats that was afforded to us as a reward for wasting a FP here. Since there was clearly no advantage, we entered via the stand-by line and reserved our FP for later in the day. Jan & Dan joined us a few minutes later in the front row to the left of the stage. Unfortunately, I didn't get to spend much time with them during the show because in a fit of spontaneity, I volunteered to be an extra and I was actually chosen! It was really neat to see the show from the other side and just a tip for my friends--if you're thirsty, this is the job for you because being a show participant at Indiana Jones comes with a free go at the water cooler! Probably the coolest part of this experience was getting to shake the real actors' hands.

After the show, we said goodbye to Jan & Dan and hustled to Lights, Motors, Action. It finally occurred to me to ask for reasonable accommodations for dad because there was no way that we were going to be able to have him walk to the top of the grandstand at this point. Luckily there was no one sitting in the handicapped row, so the nice CM in charge let us grab seats right in front. I'm guessing that this is not something that many people abuse because the seats were actually terrible (large safety rail directly at eye level), but at least it saved dad a ton of steps. Mom & dad agreed that LMA was more interesting to them than Indiana Jones. From there, we went to the Backlot Tour. This was the tour that has scared me so much as a small child, so it was nice to be able to take mom & dad on it again without me screaming!! laugh

After Backlot, the plan had been to grab a nap before dinner, but Benn and I decided to stay at the park and mom & dad ended up staying, too, but they just wanted to grab a bench and rest for a bit. We trekked over to guest relations and took another stab at getting Benn's MB fixed. Heather from Oakland, CA managed to at least get his park tickets linked to the band, but she had to give him a new band because she thought the one he had on had a hardware malfunction. She thought she had the FP's fixed, but no such luck. After that, Benn basically gave up on getting his FP linked to his band for this trip. I'll just hang out on the phone with tech support for a few hours and make sure that we have everything handled for the May trip. Heather was really great and she even loaded both of our bands with 2 bonus FPs for the trouble that we'd had! We used them on Star Tours and a second run at Toy Story--I won the second round!

We tried to catch "Character Palooza". According to "Kenny the Pirate"s character tracking website, the characters on the steamboat in Fantasmic! appear on the Streets of America on a schedule determined by the timing of Fantasmic! for that night. For our night, they were expected to make an appearance at 4:30 and 5:10. Well, we just missed the 4:30 and they never came out for the 5:10. We'll have to try another time. We did, however, take the opportunity to try a Sweet Cream Cheese Pretzel. This is now near the top of my list of favorite Disney snacks. I had a second one at MK a few days later.

After "not" Character Palooza, we split for a while so that Benn could do ToT and I could do Animation Academy. We drew Winnie the Pooh, who is not exactly my favorite, but at least I had never drawn him before. Next up was our ADR for 50's Prime Time Cafe. This was a must-do table service because the basement at mom & dad's old house was decorated as a 50's malt shop and in many ways, my dad never really left the 1950's. Mom and dad split a sampler and so did we. The food was considerably better than we remembered and our waiter was much more fun this time.

After dinner, mom & dad were pretty tired, so we decided to skip Fantasmic! and go home. Especially because Benn and I were going out to MK for EEMH so I could be at MK for the very beginning of my actual birthday!! On the ride home, we checked the lighthouse, and Mr. the Colonel, you'll be happy to know that it appears to be in working order at the moment. Photographic evidence attached.

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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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Really enjoying your TR so far. My DH likes the sweet cc pretzel too but I LOVE the jalapeno cc pretzel. I don't even like spicy food but they just have a little kick and they are awesome. They are at the top of our Disney snack list!

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Great report so far!! Your Pooh drawing is really good!! I think even with the instruction mine would look nothing like him lol...
When we went on our honeymoon, I was picked as an extra for Indiana Jones too! It was cool to see what it was like on stage in front of so many people, and I love acting so that little but of running around pretending to be scared was fun biggrin

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Gotta say I love that you took a pic of the light house as evidence for colonel hahaha

Love that you were picked in the show! I'd love to see someone I know in a show, but I'm way too chicken to do it myself hehehe

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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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Great trip report Alice enjoying your photos Smile

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Day 2 continued...

I just couldn't finish the EEMH part last night. I got home from work at 9:00 last night and my team had a competition that started at 8:00am this morning at a gym that is located two hours away. Early mornings are not my forte (when I'm not at Disney laugh )

SO after we watched a little bit of "Follow Me Boys" (dad brought a stack of Disney movies along) with mom & dad on Sunday night, Benn and I headed over to MK. We went down to the bus around 10pm hoping to hit MK shortly after the wave of post-Wishes traffic cleared the park. With the stops at Swan & dolphin, we hit it pretty much just that way around 10:45. In two hours, we did Pirates, BTMR, Haunted Mansion, Barnstormer, Tea Cups, TTA, and Buzz Lightyear. We even saw part of the electrical parade as we made out way from BTMR to Haunted Mansion.

Aaaaannd I just now realized that I went the entire trip without riding Dumbo or any similar rides. This is unacceptable. I'll have to go back.

My original plan had been to ride BTMR at midnight so that it would be the first ride on my birthday, but since it was going down for refurb the following day, I was paranoid that they would close it early on the evening of the 6th, so we rode it second. Also, it was very much out of character for Benn to be so generous about staying out that late with me in the parks and I didn't want to squander my good fortune, so I kept our touring sequential. As it turned out, the Teacups were my first official birthday ride and it was perfect! I love Alice in Wonderland. I love spinning. This could not have been any better. While Benn was spinning as fast as he could (bless his heart--he hates the teacups and he rode with me anyway), I dropped my head back. OhMyGosh! Have you ever done this?!?! It was the first time I felt dizzy on the teacups. It. Was. Awesome!

The other part of the plan was dependent upon 7DMT having a soft opening, but that was just wishful thinking. Some of the walls are down, but many are still up and the sounds of construction activity can still be heard loud and clear.

MK was nearly empty by the time we made our way to the front of the park at 12:30. We missed Peter Pan and Philharmagic, but otherwise we made it to all of our favorites and there would be time for the others in the morning. While I dislike the buses in general (seems too much like how I used to commute to work), one advantage of Boardwalk is that when you are returning from a park, you are the first stop on the loop, so even though it takes a long time to get to the parks because of the Swan & Dolphin stops, at least the trip home when you are good and tired is a straight shot. On this particular night, we encountered the cutest family playing a Disney trivia game. They let me join in on a few questions, so of course I was in heaven!

As is the norm, we had many conversations analyzing the efficiency of the bus routes and we decided that it seemed less inconvenient to us to stay at a resort that has many internal stops that it seems to stay at a resort where the bus services multiple separate resorts. Because of traffic and signal lights, it takes more time for the bus to pull onto and off of the main roads multiple times than it does for the bus to make a loop around one resort and just stop a few extra times. Now that we have this knowledge, we would probably just walk over to Swan & Dolphin or boat across Crescent Lake and walk through the Yacht Club to the bus stop when traveling to AK/MK. Coming home we would board the Boardwalk bus as usual. For DTD, we would board the bus @ Boardwalk because it is a direct ride from there. Coming home from DTD, we would get off at the first resort stop (I forget which one is first). We failed to do that on this trip because with Dad to consider, it was better to stay on the bus even if it did mean a longer ride.

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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 so far!

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Loving the trip report so far. Sounds like it was a great birthday trip.

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So much fun Alice! I want to be there right now, broken wrist and all. mickey

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disneydoc wrote:
So much fun Alice! I want to be there right now, broken wrist and all. mickey

I hear ya, doc! I was trying to figure out any way possible to not get on the plane. I asked the nice man who was directing traffic when we checked back in at MCO if I could just draw the little TSA pre-check symbol on my boarding pass to by-pass the long security line and he told me that if I did, that they would put me up in a nice building over on I-4. I was seriously considering it because even that seemed preferable to getting on the plane to come home!! laugh

In all seriousness though, the most valuable FP in the world would be for the airport security ride. I was still wearing my magicband, but I couldn't find a Mickey scanner ANYWHERE in that silly airport!

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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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disneydoc wrote:
So much fun Alice! I want to be there right now, broken wrist and all. mickey

Oh, golly, yes. If it wouldn't have cost $$$ to change airline tickets last minute, I might have stayed another day or two. Pop Century isn't that expensive even at regular rates. And since then I've been thinking that once the Easter break crowds die down, I could go back for a few more days. I mean, I've got that annual pass, might as well use it. It probably won't happen; I need to earn the money to pay for our November trip. But dang, I sure would like to go back.

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Don't rule out another quick trip ccp! I will be planning a Halloween party trip as soon as they announce the dates. mickey

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Day 3: Magic Kingdom and my ACTUAL birthday.

Before we left for the park, mom & dad gave me the present they picked out the night before--a musical Mickey Mouse snow globe with the park icon from each park sculpted around the base that plays "It's a Small World". Benn got me "any Disney present that I wanted, but I only had until midnight to pick it out." You'll have to read on to see what I picked. My family gave me a whole rash of static for wearing my birthday button the day before and the day after my birthday, but today I could have gotten away with murder! So of course I took advantage of that and made sure that we hit MK for rope drop. Originally, we were going to do EPCOT on my birthday because of predicted crowd levels and hit MK the following day, but the weather report wasn't promising for the following day and dad was leery of trying EPCOT again.

Our strategy turned out to be a pretty good maximization of the current FP+ options for MK for those who are not riding mountains. Our goal was to see about half of the park today, knowing that we would return the following day. We began in Adventureland with Jungle Cruise. Our skipper was above average, but not phenomenal and unfortunately, she spoke a little bit on the soft side and fairly quickly, so it was hard for papa mouse** to hear the jokes. We had Skipper Sarah when we rode the Jingle Cruise at Christmas and she was excellent. I don't remember this gal's name, but she was alright.

After walking onto Jungle Cruise, we walked on to Pirates. I was somewhat disappointed because even though we were routed to the FP lane, the switch was done to late in the queue to see the skeletons in the eternally deadlocked chess match, which is my favorite part of the Pirates queue. I had commented to Benn the night before that every time we go over the falls to go back to pirate times, I have a moment of complete panic where the drop seems to be taking longer than usual and I think that
the Imagineers have secretly refurbished the attraction and now it has a huge drop. I'm happy to report that yet again today, the lengthened drop was all in my head.

We finished a little bit ahead of schedule since mama mouse and papa mouse did not want to do the Tiki Room, so we took the shortcut to Frontierland and got picture with Chip & Dale and did some pin trading at the Trading Post. I miss the old pin trading washboard that they used to have here, but Jessie's hat is nice, too, I suppose. By the time we finished trading, we were just in time for the 10:00 sailing of the Liberty Belle. It's not a narrative that's really super interesting to me personally, but it's a nice 20 minute boat ride. Next we hit HoP. This was more engaging than I remember from the last time we watched. This was the one flaw in the plan. We had a Haunted Mansion FP for 11:00 and we would have been better off to make the FP for 9:30-10:30 and go there between Liberty Belle and HoP because we waited about 18 minutes for HoP and we would have had time to do Haunted Mansion in that window.

After HoP, lunch was at Columbia Harbor House, which is one of my favorite TS locations in MK. I had been wanting to try the Lobster Roll and it was good, but I would have preferred the salmon. Benn had the Anchors Aweigh sandwich that I think is also delicious. I have absolutely no recollection of what mom & dad ordered. I do remember that they commented that it was delicious.

We popped into Haunted Mansion where our FP was indeed fast. We walked right into the stretching room. Our doom buggy stopped twice during the ride. Neither stop was terribly long, but I feel like every time I do that ride it stops! I can only assume that it's guests needing assistance, but I can't believe that there are that many guests who need assistance loading and offloading. I feel like it's people not paying attention during loading and offloading and standing up or attempting to get out of the doom buggies. I've heard that there are pressure sensitive mats along the track that will shut down the ride if anyone steps on them. Have I just been unlucky with this ride lately or have other folks experienced this also?

Next up in our very sequential tour was IASW, which had I moved our HM FP earlier, I would have gotten a FP for. We had a FP for Under the Sea that we ended up not using and it would have been nice to shave off 15-20 minutes at IASW. This is one of the places that I used an "I get to do this because it's my birthday" card because the male members of the mouse family would have gladly skipped this cute little boat ride. I wanted to take my new camera out for a spin (don't worry, no flash. turn it off, people. it doesn't work on dark rides anyway.) and the little cybershot did not disappoint. I've been a fan of Sony ever since I bought my first walkman in the 80's. laugh

After IASW, it was time for Peter Pan's Flight!! mr. mouse and I both love that ride. Our last MK attraction for the day was Mickey's Philharmagic. Mom loved it, but dad fell sleep because well, that's what dad does. I don't even think he woke up when he got splashed.

To round out papa mouse's first MK day, we stopped at the ice cream parlor--his favorite ride. By this point, it was around 2:00, so Benn and I found a semi-shady curb for the Festival of Fantasy Parade (birthday request) and sat down to wait it out. Since the parade starts from Frontierland in the afternoon, we knew we had about an hour and a half to wait. Benn left for a bit to buy a drink then I saw some Main Street street sweepers with pins, so I took a break to trade with them. When I got back, Benn was talking with the Magic Kingdom voice teacher (I think her name is Viola??) and her friend (Bea maybe??). They were making a fuss over his Captain America shirt and so when I returned, I became Mrs. America. Of course I was very honored, so I waved to all of our loyal subjects. Then when the ladies saw that it was my birthday, they wanted to sing me a song, so they chose Holly Jolly Christmas. laugh Any other time I hate that song, but they were particularly hilarious, so I guess from now on I'll have to like it because it will remind me of Disney.

After the ladies moved on, we started chatting with the family sitting next to us from Maryland. They were there with their two preschool aged children to watch their oldest son in his high school marching band. Once the two bands came through at around 2:30 and 2:45, they left. Then a lady came over and asked if there was room for her grandson to sit by me so I said sure. So little Silas and I sat there and chatted while we waited for the parade. Turns out it was his birthday, too. Right after he came over, a swarm of black gnat-like bugs started swarming all over the place. Bless his little heart. He thought he could kill all of the bugs and we worked at it together. I think we made a pretty significant dent in the population because we were able to watch the parade in peace.

Now, the parade itself was just indescribably beautiful. I watched it on Livestream courtesy of the DisUnplugged the day that it premiered and I was not encouraged. I didn't care for the soundtrack and I didn't like the color scheme. Particularly, I didn't like that deep, bold colors were mixed in with more vibrant pastel shades. I thought it would be visually confusing. Incorrect. In person, everything flows together splendidly. The Tangled float was Benn's favorite and the Maleficent float was mine. I LOVE that the three fairies are in the parade and the sword fight with Prince Phillip and the thorns is amazing. Peter Pan's float is also really awesome in person.

After the parade, we had a decision to make--bus to Boardwalk and grab a nap before dinner or monorail to EPCOT and walk home through the park. I don't want to keep you in suspense, but this post is getting rather lengthy...

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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 loved that parade too! Saw it in front of Liberty Tree Tavern early in my trip - pre breaking of wrist! awesome

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OK, I won't keep you in suspense...we decided to monorail to EPCOT and walk through the park on the way home. And if we happened to say, hop in the single rider line at Test Track, well that wouldn't be tragic would it?

It only took us about 10 minutes to make it to the front of the line and despite the warning that we would be split up, we ended up in the same car--Benn in the front seat, me in the back. I believe that the boy I was sitting beside likely had a form of autism given the gestures and movements that he was making and the way that his mother was handling him. The boy and his mother had a very difficult time with their seat belts and I was a little bit concerned as to whether or not he had been on the ride and knew what to expect already or not. I didn't want him to be scared. Whether it was his first ride or his 50th, he was grinning ear to ear when we finished the loop, so if that was his first ride, it surely won't be his last! The only downside to single rider is the lack of customization that you can do to your car. Both of our cars scored 200 and we each picked a different thing to optimize.

After Test Track, we popped into the Flower & Garden Festival Center. I have a client who is going to settlement on her house at the end of the month and she loves gnomes, so I decided to bring her something with a gnome from the flower & garden festival as part of the "congratulations" gift that I always give my clients at settlement. When we acquired the gnome, we also stopped by the festival center food stand to try the Caprese push pop. It was a neat concept and at $1, what do you have to lose? It was tasty, but I would have called it a salsa push pop or maybe a bruchetta push pop because that's more like what it reminded me of.

Our original intent was to take the long way around WS since we had missed the topiaries in Mexico, Norway, and China on Saturday night, but by now it was 5:00. We were trying to be in DTD by 6:00 and we still had about a mile to walk back to Boardwalk. When we got back, we found that the parents had encountered a plumbing issue and had put in two calls to maintenance/housekeeping to take care of the problem with no response. I suggested that we head out for Downtown Disney and stop by the Concierge desk on the way out to try to expedite the response. We spoke with Steven and he assured us that everything would be taking care of when we returned.

We proceeded to the bus stop to wait for the DTD bus. At 22 minutes, a full DTD bus arrived. 3 people left the bus and even though we were the first people at the bus stop for that bus (for several minutes we were the only people there), other guests proceeded to shove ahead and get on the bus. I informed the driver that we had already waited in excess of 20 minutes and hoped that another bus was following soon. I don't know if it was just luck or if he fixed the problem for us, but a nearly empty bus was about a minute behind him and we were all able to board. From Boardwalk, DTD is a straight shot, so once we were on the bus, we reached DTD in about 15 minutes. Some of the tension here was that is was hot and we were all hungry, but we were also meeting my friend Jordan who goes to Full Sail and his boyfriend Greg who recently moved to FL. Fortunately, they were having as much trouble parking at DTD as we were having getting a bus, so they actually turned up at Earl of Sandwich about 3 minutes after we got in line.

EoS was a mad house because we were much later getting there than was ideal. Luckily those folks know how to manage a crowd because within 15 minutes, we had 6 hot sandwiches, 2 bowls of soup, and 3 macaroni and cheeses and had by some miracle found a table for 6 of use to sit around. I had my favorite Holiday Turkey and Benn had the BBQ Chicken. We, rather unwisely, added a bowl of tomato soup and a macaroni and cheese to our order and the "food coma" commenced. Greg's Philly Cheesesteak came out uncooked, but with the number of sandwiches that those folks were cranking out, it was easy to see how someone could miss a step. He took it back and they fixed the problem very quickly.

After dinner, mom & dad split off to walk around the marketplace and we wandered around with Jordan & Greg. We hit Once Upon a Toy where I built my crazy potato head for the trip and Pin Traders where I picked out my birthday present from Benn--3 pins to go with my Flower & Garden pin that I had bought earlier, a 3-D Maleficent, a Stitch with Bikini, and a Cheshire Cat with Teapots. We also walked through the Christmas Store, the Lego Store, and Art of Disney. After an hour or so, we said goodbye to Jordan & Greg and met up with mom & dad for a quick stop by Goofy's Candy Company for some cotton candy before boarding the bus for home.

The bus ride home was not nearly as magical as the rest of the day had been. From the time we boarded the bus, it was 50 minutes before we arrived at Boardwalk. Not only did we stop at Swan & Dolphin like we did for MK and AK, but we also stopped at Yacht Club & Beach Club. As I may have stated earlier, it is one thing to make 5 internal stops at Saratoga Springs where the bus is driving around in that loop anyway, but 5 stops at 5 separate resorts that requires the bus to wait for signal lights an traffic between stops feels interminable. In the future, I would definitely get off at the first stop and walk home. It may or may not actually be faster, but at least it would be more enjoyable. Better still, I would rent a car (although I'm not driving to DTD until I see a parking garage) because the less time spent on a bus, the better my vacation!

When we returned to our room, housekeeping had still not attended to our problem, so back down to concierge I trudged. Fortunately, the 4th time was the charm. eek Sheesh. Despite the bus and the housekeeping issue, this really was the best birthday imaginable. Sadly, when we woke up, we would be on our last full day sad

PreviewAttachmentSize
Crazy Potato Head
Crazy Potato Head4.31 MB
Birthday pins
Birthday pins4.01 MB
__________________

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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disneydoc wrote:
Don't rule out another quick trip ccp! I will be planning a Halloween party trip as soon as they announce the dates. mickey

My problem is timing. I hate heat, so if I don't get it done this month I won't want to go until October, and then our November trip will be just two or three weeks away.

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crazycatperson wrote:
disneydoc wrote:
Don't rule out another quick trip ccp! I will be planning a Halloween party trip as soon as they announce the dates. mickey

My problem is timing. I hate heat, so if I don't get it done this month I won't want to go until October, and then our November trip will be just two or three weeks away.

I hear you on the heat. I have a June trip booked, but may postpone it because of this arm thing. Heat plus a sore arm does not sound fun, even if the cast is off. We will see.

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Day 4: Magic Kingdom

It was our last full day and with 80% chance of rain in the forecast, we were debating about what to do right up until we left for MK at 8am. We still had New Fantasyland and Tomorrowland to see and we hadn't taken time for papa mouse to ride the train the previous day, so we were REALLY hoping to go back this morning. Benn and I have done the parks in the rain before and it really doesn't phase us, but mom & dad were a different story. If dad got caught in a monsoon, he wasn't going to be a happy camper. It seemed that the rain was not likely to start in earnest until 11:00, so that gave us just enough time to finish MK.

When we approached the bus stop, our friend Nico was there helping to get everyone where they wanted to go. I forgot to mention him on yesterday's entry. He was there in the morning monitoring the bus situation, engaging guests in conversation, and telling hilariously awful jokes. You know the type. 'Why was Cinderella bad at soccer?' 'Because she ran away from the ball' kind of stuff. Nico was one of my favorite cast members of the week because he was so full of energy and fun. It was a sharp contrast to what we had found at EPCOT on the first day. Arrival at MK went very smoothly and we actually had time to stake out a spot for the welcome show, get a photo of the family in front of the train station, and have an eager beaver CM be completely unhelpful.

So here's what happened with this CM. She approached us and asked how FP+ was working and if we had any problems. Well as a matter of fact, we DID have a problem. We started to explain to her that Benn's FP+ reservations were not linked to his band. Without listening to what exactly we were saying, she scanned Benn's band and proceeded to cancel ALL of out FP+ for that day for everyone so she could make new selections! WTH? I didn't realize what she was doing at first because the welcome show was starting and I was trying to watch it. Realizing by this point that she had no better ability to fix this problem than Heather had at Hollywood Studios on Sunday, I told her to nevermind and leave our FP+ alone (because she clearly wasn't understanding what our issue was) and she told me that I had to pick new times because she had already ERASED all of our FP+ selections for the day! ARGH! So I'm missing the welcome show as I'm picking out the same three experiences that I had carefully selected the night before. gaah We weren't able to get all of the same times, but we did get pretty close. The result was by no means catastrophic, but I was annoyed because having a CM not listen to what my actual problem is before they start messing around with my account is the kind of customer service I expect when I have to call Comcast (you know, America's lowest rated company for customer service), not when I'm at Disney.

It just makes me sad every time I encounter someone like this because I feel like the percentage of cast members who are awesome like Heather at Hollywood Studios, Nico at the bus, and our very own Mandy is declining and the percentage of CM's that don't care, aren't appropriately trained, and would probably be better suited for a non-customer service job is increasing. It's not that we've had a host of terrible experiences. They've all been things that are minor human errors, but I feel disappointed because Disney used to be a cut above and I feel like as the company has branched out into DCL, Adventures by Disney, etc. and started to rely more on the College Program for park staff and lessened the amount of training that these front line folks receive that the quality of the guest experience has become less consistent.

In 2010, we took a 7-day trip and I encountered one CM in those 7-days who I felt was a little bit short in answering a question. Not a big deal, but that was literally the only CM I remember who wasn't absolutely fabulous. In April 2012, aside from the folks serving breakfast at Coronado (and seriously, they did not have the resources necessary at the time to do their job well. That was Disney's fault, not theirs) we did not encounter a "bad apple" in 9 days. I remember one CM from August 2012 for his "a little bit too candid" description of why he was glad he wouldn't have to work for Disney much longer, but everyone else was great. That was a 4-day trip. On this 5-day trip, we encountered at least 3 CM's that I remember from EPCOT day 1 that were not very "Disney", Maintenance taking 3 requests and Housekeeping taking 4 requests over an 8-hour period for what was essentially a 10-minute job, and a CM erasing all of our FP+ selections because she failed to listen to us when we described the problem. Coupled with disneydoc's experience with no one helping an injured guest, and other accounts of less-than-stellar guest treatment, I feel like this is something that Disney needs to get a handle on. FAST.

Ok, off the soap box, back to the happiest place on Earth! When we entered MK, we took a route that was new for me--directly to the Main Street train station. We rode the train to New Fantasyland where mama mouse asked about that big steel track in front of us. I told her it was the Barnstormer and asked her if she wanted to ride it. Both she and papa mouse gave me the shock of the day when they heartily accepted my offer. Up we climbed! They loved the cute little coaster as much as we do and agreed that it needs to be about 3x's longer. Next we used our unnecessary FP for Under the Sea. I'm starting to like this ride more. At first, it was too sterile looking for me and I felt like there were some obvious touches that were missing like bubble effect or water splashes or something. I like the animatronics and the detail in their movement and I've come to terns with this not being a boat ride because if we were sitting on the surface of the water, how could we believe that we were watching Ariel swim around under water. I like the queue a lot and the overall look and feel of the exterior, but the ride itself doesn't do a whole lot for me. Even though this ride is much more sophisticated, I liked Snow White's Scary Adventures better as a movie ride-through. We skipped Enchanted Tales. Mom would have liked it, but we would have lost too much momentum with dad, so next stop, TEACUPS! I had been looking forward to this ride with my dad all week! Every tilt-a-whirl, scrambler, teacup, or other on-the-ground-spinny-ride was dad's territory. I have a very vivid memory of going on a spinning carnival ride with dad when I was about 7 or 8 and I was scared and starting to get dizzy. He told me to watch something that wasn't moving and that fixed everything. I think we rode that thing 5 more times. Ever since, dad has been my spinning buddy. He can spin the wheel quite as fast anymore, but we still had a great time!

Next up was supposed to be TTA, but just as we got there, they were closing it down. We waited a few minutes to see what was going on and a man with a stethoscope walked up the now stationary ramp. Uh oh. That's a bad sign. We wanted to do Carousel of Progress anyway, so we just left and went there. Well, it's a 24-minute show and we came back out, the peoplemover was still down. I'm scared to think what kind of medical emergency could shut down the ride for so long. We shopped, pin traded, and waited for the Lunching Pad to open so mom & I could get a cream cheese pretzel and it was STILL down at roughly the 1-hour mark. Yikes. Intermittent rain had started, so we waited for lull and walked to Casey's Corner for a hot dog on the way out. The pianist wasn't playing because the piano was being tuned, so we watched the ducks for entertainment instead.

Since it was still before noon, we decided to hop the monorail and go over to Grand Floridian for the Edible Easter Egg display. The eggs were very impressive, but I think that the Gingerbread houses at Christmas make more of an impression. After we looked at the eggs, we hopped the monorail back to MK to get the bus back to Boardwalk. First stop....Ahhhh... We walked back into the room to find apology strawberries and a white chocolate picture of the Boardwalk on a dark chocolate picture stand from, I can only assume, Steven at concierge. That was a very nice gesture and it was quite tasty and much appreciated! I had considered walking back over to EPCOT, but my head hit the pillow and I was OUT. We all slept through what I can only assume was a rainy afternoon.

PreviewAttachmentSize
TEACUPS!!!!
TEACUPS!!!!1.3 MB
Rapunzel Easter Egg
Rapunzel Easter Egg2.03 MB
Elsa Easter Egg
Elsa Easter Egg4.57 MB
Apology Strawberries
Apology Strawberries3.18 MB
Chocolate photo
Chocolate photo4.89 MB
__________________

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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Hubby has also noticed that customer service seems to have deteriorated a bit. As you say, it's still better than at most non-Disney venues, but we expect a lot more from Disney. His particular peeves were towel and napkin dispensers that were empty, ketchup dispensers that were empty, etc., not actual interaction with CMs (thankfully all of ours were good if not great), but if enough of that stuff happens it does color the whole vacation experience.

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I must tell you, I have a huge crush on Nico! He is just so cute and pretty! And smiley and funny... Even the lame jokes were making me swoon! Shhhh, don't tell simon though Wink

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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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Thanks for the report and great pictures. And the lighthouse update.

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Ahhh that was a nice touch to send strawberries and chocolate. What are the edible eggs? Are they make from real animal eggs? (I'm guessing they are and I sound a bit silly!)

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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 4 (cont):

After everyone woke up from nap time at around 5:00, we made our way down to the boat dock to sail over to Beach Club for our 5:40 ADR at Beaches & Cream. We had never been here before and it was a major trip highlight! I understand now why you need an ADR here. I think there were only 7 or 8 tables! Our server, Herina, made a huge fuss over my birthday (I know it was yesterday, but this was my "birthday dinner" since we did all counter service the previous day). All of the staff at the restaurant signed a birthday card for me and Herina gave me a happy birthday balloon that I toted around MK for a while that night. She also got the whole restaurant (ok we're talking maybe 20 people, but it was still cool) to sing to me. I had the grilled cheese and tomato soup--delicious. Benn had the caesar chicken sandwich and wished he had gotten the salad instead because the bread was huge and delicious. We split an apple cranberry pie (amazing) for dessert. Mom & dad split a bacon cheeseburger and a banana split for dessert. After dinner, mom & dad went for a stroll on the boardwalk and then back to the room because dad was still tired and we had Animal Kingdom left for the following day. Benn and I hopped the bus to MK.

We had two FP left for the evening--meet Mickey at Town Hall and Main Street Electrical Parade, both of which were excellent choices. We were a little early for our meet & greet, so we grabbed a new pack of cards for SMK (I left ours at home! eek ) and had our difficulty level reset to medium. The game makes much more sense on the more difficult setting. We met Mickey Mouse and I had not told Benn that he was now a TALKING Mickey Mouse, so that surprise was delightfully fun. I kind of hope that they do this with other characters. Mickey had us pose like hitchhiking ghosts, which was pretty hilarious. We had some time before the MSEP viewing area opened up, so we strolled up Main Street slowly and walked through the castle to the Carousel. By the time we were done, they were in the process of closing the castle gates for the night, so we had to go around the long way. No biggie--less time to wait in line.

We met up with a newlywed couple and an older military couple in line and exchanged some pleasantries with them. It had gotten chilly by this point (not something I complain about in Florida and after the winter that we've had hear, 60 degrees should have felt downright tropical, but the dampness was still hanging around from earlier in the day and the wind was picking up. The military couple insisted that I take their spare poncho to try to cut down on the wind and I very much appreciated the gesture because it really did help!

One thing that I thought was strange was that the CM in charge of the rope was taking the rope and stanchions down before the parade came through. I don't remember that happening before. Anyway, we were not asked to move following the parade, so if you want to be right in front of the castle for MSEP, Celebrate the Magic, and Wishes, just get a MSEP FP. This was a great spot except that it was a little bit too close for Wishes. The perspective made a lot of the fireworks seem low. We watched from a similar location in December and I don't remember that being the case, so maybe the scaled back the charges because of the wind.

After Wishes, we made our way out of the park with our 50,000 closest friends biggrin . I thought the bus would be mobbed, but we got on the first bus back to Boardwalk without any problem. We did most of our packing quickly when we got home. It's so much easier to pack to go home because there are no decisions to make--it all has to fit in the suitcase somehow!

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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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RobynPrincess wrote:
Ahhh that was a nice touch to send strawberries and chocolate. What are the edible eggs? Are they make from real animal eggs? (I'm guessing they are and I sound a bit silly!)

Robyn, they're all chocolate! Even the rabbits on the display are made from chocolate, but they don't look like the kind that you buy for Easter at the store. It takes pretty careful examination to distinguish them from ceramic rabbits!

__________________

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.

Magic Mirror's picture
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Happy Belated Birthday birthday

Your mom and dad are so cute muchlove

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Day 5: The last day (aka the saddest day sad )

Originally we had been torn about whether or not to take mom & dad to AK. It is by far our least favorite park. Also, mom & dad were never really into the zoo thing when I was a kid. They took me a few times out of some sort of obligation, but my dad grew up around farming and butchering as family professions, so to him, animals are a source of food more so than they are something to be cherished and admired. Since they had decided not to park hop, if they hated it, there was nowhere else to go! Since EPCOT had not panned out well the first day, that kind of made the decision for us--we would give AK a try. I'm glad we did because it was a hit!

It was an extra magic hours morning, but we had to finish packing and check our bags with the airline check-in desk and bell services, so we didn't get to the park until about 8:40, but we still streamed right in and walked on Kilimanjaro Safaris. (Tuck that FP away and save it for later...) We had a great day for Hippos and Lions! I actually got a picture of a male lion mid-roar! Our safari driver was little fast, but I think they were anticipating the large crowd that assembled as the day wore on.

After KS, we walked the Pangani trail. The gorillas weren't super active today, but we still got a few cute shots. When we finished, we were still within our FP window and the return line was short. Everyone needed a restroom break and by the time we walked to the restrooms and walked back, there must have been 50 more people in line than there were before! We made it to the scanner in time for our now slightly expired FP to still be active and took another lap through the savannah. This time we got better activity from the giraffes.

After Safari #2, we had promised dad a train ride, so we took the wildlife express train on a roundtrip ride. We decided that Rafiki's Planet Watch involved too much extra walking for dad with not enough payoff. When the train returned, we made out way through a VERY crowded Harambe. In the area around the live performers, it was so crowded that you would have thought you were in the Magic Kingdom on New Year's Eve.

Once we cleared the bottle neck, it was smooth sailing to Flame Tree BBQ, our favorite lunch spot. Benn had the ribs, which he declared to be spectacular, and I had the 1/2 chicken, my favorite. I love that this counter service takes Tables in Wonderland. It's one of my favorite CS restaurants anyway because I think it's such a great value and getting an extra 20% off is just amazing.

We had a FP to meet Dug and Russel from Up!, but until we had finished lunch and everyone took another restroom break, I figured that given dad's walking speed, we had better skip it if we wanted to get to Maharajah Jungle Trek before our Finding Nemo FP for the 1:00 show. We had also originally intended to do Flights of Wonder, but since we did KS twice, we didn't have enough time to work it in. Our ME bus was leaving from Boardwalk at 3:15, so to play it safe, we needed to leave AK by 2:00. By skipping FoW and the Up! meet & greet, we had time to stop for an ice cream cone, so that made dad's day. We had walked past an ice cream stand in Africa without stopping and his bottom lip was hanging so low from the disappointment that I was afraid he was going to trip over it.

The tigers were a little bit sleepy today, so that was a bummer, but at least we saw them this time. As for Nemo, I agree with CCP. This is an excellent use of a FP at AK. When the show ended, we walked past DinoLand on our way out of the park and described it to mom & dad and explained why we didn't feel the need to take them there.

We happened to walk right onto a bus back to Boardwalk and it was making a stop at Blizzard Beach, so bonus, mom & dad got a glimpse of a water park. We arrived back at Boardwalk around 2:15, so we had an hour to have one last treat before we went home, retrieve our carry-on bags, and finish up with a few last minute pin trades. Our DME bus pulled up right on schedule and we departed at 3:15. The airport trip went much more smoothly than it had on the way down. Our bags were already checked and our boarding passes were already printed (Disney slid them under our door that morning. I don't remember that happening before), so we went straight to the security line. Mom had pre-check, so she went right through and down to the gate to wait for us. I think we waited for about 20 minutes. We were standing in line when I asked the (unusually jovial) TSA agent if I could borrow his pen to draw a little TSA pre-check symbol on my boarding pass and he wouldn't let me. What a buzz kill. It wasn't so bad though. As is usually the case, I found the whole security process to be much less of a pain at MCO than it is at BWI. Maybe it's because MCO is prettier.

Our flight home was as bumpy as the flight down and our seats were not as good. Dad, Benn, and I shared a row and mom was across the aisle making new friends. The lady right in front of mom was an absolute basket case about flying--like sobbing into a tissue basket case. I offered her some of my Southwest free drink coupons, but she said that she was picking up her kids when she got home and needed to be alert. I felt really bad for her. I hate flying, too. I much prefer flying in a fake hang glider within the confines of a building. We exchanged a few words getting off the plane and it turns out that she owns at Saratoga, too.

We arrived ahead of schedule again and our luggage came off the carousel very quickly. We were sitting near the back of the plane, so it took a while for us to offload. We walked right onto the parking shuttle and we were the first stop in the lot. Mom, Benn, and I had a plan that I would drive home because dad was far too tired to operate the care safely. It was a tough sell, but we convinced him. The hour-long car ride home was filled with trip discussion and how dad was very impressed that each day of walking had actually gotten easier for him. Then I asked them the million dollar question--would you go back? And I got a Yes!

I couldn't have asked for a better birthday present than being able to take this trip with my family. I'm so glad that I got to share this trip with my parents and I'm so happy that they had a good time. Next month we'll be taking Benn's aunt and his cousin and I hope they enjoy their trip, too. Thanks for reading!!

PreviewAttachmentSize
Kangaroo
Kangaroo2.76 MB
Lesser Flamingos
Lesser Flamingos4.2 MB
Lazy Lion
Lazy Lion3.07 MB
Giraffes Rock!
Giraffes Rock!4.36 MB
Hungry, Hungry Hippos
Hungry, Hungry Hippos4.81 MB
One last snack before the bus arrives
One last snack before the bus arrives4.24 MB
__________________

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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Magic Mirror wrote:
Happy Belated Birthday birthday

Your mom and dad are so cute muchlove

Thanks, Angie! How've you been? Are the wedding preparations coming along?

__________________

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

Find me on Facebook

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.