crazycatperson's best trip yet - November 2014

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JMed's picture
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Yes we got the Slider!!! Can't wait to hear what your new favorite restaurant is!

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I know, I know! Was it Sanaa? Loving your report Smile jiko is on my list, I regularly check the menu to see what it's changed to in the hope I will be able to eat something but so far no luck. I know they will make me something specific but that's not really the idea is it, I want some of the yummy African flavours! One day I'll make it there Laughing out loud

I'm so with you on the buffet/all you care to enjoy meals. I just can't eat anywhere near enough to make it worthwhile, I'm lucky if I finish a plate, I very rarely go back for a second. At Ohana in particular, I could have eaten the exact same food at a CS for a 5th of the price (ok I wouldn't have got the characters though). Sy can eat a fair amount being a man but given that he's a big guy he can't eat as much as you might think he could either so it's not really even like eat could eat both of our shares lol. In fact most of this trip I shared meals with either mum or sometimes Sy if I could twist his arm to eat some chicken haha

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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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Indeed it is Sanaa. We'd eaten the bread service, the others had eaten their main courses while I'd had mine boxed up for later, and I told the waiter, "We ate at Jiko last night and it was great, but I like Sanaa better." He replied, "You don't know how many times people have told me that."

Having said I was done with buffet/family style breakfasts, I've gone ahead and rebooked Whispering Canyon for breakfast on our next trip, a day after I'd cancelled it. Hubby really wanted to try it, and it's not as pricey as some of the other buffet/family style meals, so what the heck, gotta keep hubby happy.

Since I've said Sanaa is my new favorite, I might as well describe our meal there. It was Tuesday lunch. We all agreed on the bread service and chose the garlic ginger naan and two breads that weren't naan. One had paneer in it and isn't on the online menu I found on All Ears; the other may have been the onion kulcha. That's what I get for not taking better notes. We got all of the accompaniments; we all agreed the coconut chutney was best and the mango was excellent. I also liked the cucumber raita, garlic pickle, and tamarind chutney. Hubby and Gary liked the jalapeno pickle, but it was too spicy for Sherry and me. We quickly finished our bread and ordered three more of the same.

I ordered the tandoori shrimp on naan, but by the time it arrived I was stuffed and had to box it up for another day. Everyone else chose the slow cooked in gravy entree with jasmine rice. Hubby chose the Goan seafood curry and chicken vindaloo; Gary and Sherry had the spicy Durban shrimp and chicken vindaloo. They all enjoyed their meals, and both Gary and Sherry managed to finish theirs off in spite of all the bread, but hubby had to bring some of his up to our room for later.

We weren't planning on having any duplication in our ADRs over our three trips from September of this year to February of next year, but we loved Sanaa so much we've made a dinner reservation for our Animal Kingdom day in February. I think Sanaa will be a must on all our future trips.

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That's it. I'm booking Sanaa for our September trip awesome

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Do it, Spook! You won't regret it.

Since Animal Kingdom park closes fairly early and our friends didn't have park hoppers, we went to Downtown Disney and Earl of Sandwich for dinner Tuesday evening. I got the holiday turkey, which I tried for the first time in September and loved. Hubby got his favorite, the chicken chipotle avocado, Sherry got the avocado BLT, and Gary got one of the wraps, I think it was the buffalo chicken. This was Gary and Sherry's first time at EoS and of course they loved it. They all got the Earl Grey lemonade while I got a bottle of water, and we all had barbecue potato chips (crisps for you Brits).

Dinner Wednesday evening was Restaurant Marrakesh. We'd originally scheduled it for Friday evening, but due to major schedule changes so Gary and Sherry could see the Osborne lights on the night they opened, we moved Marrakesh to Wednesday after our F&W Fest grazing lunch. The restaurant wasn't overly full of diners when we arrived for our 8:00 ADR. We were seated in the upper section on the right side of the restaurant as you come in the door. Great seats for watching the musicians and dancer and for seeing what was going on around the rest of the restaurant. We started by ordering drinks - mint tea for all but Gary, who ordered a beer, I think (again, apologies for not making more detailed notes). When the tea arrived, it was iced - we'd thought it would be hot. I was happy to have the iced tea, since I love mint iced tea, but hubby and Sherry both sent it back. Our server (yet another wonderful one) quickly returned and ceremonially poured the hot tea into hubby and Sherry's cups - Americans, if you watch the Amazing Race, it was just like they showed it in the Morocco episode earlier this fall.

All four of us ordered one of the combination meals - Gary and Sherry got the Royal Feast, while hubby and I ordered the Marrakesh Feast. The menu on Allears.net describes the Royal Feast as...

"Choice of one appetizer: Jasmina Salad - Lettuce, tomato, olives, feta cheese in mustard vinaigrette OR Seafood Bastilla - baked layers of thin pastry filled with grouper, shrimp, mushrooms

Choice of one entree: Lemon Chicken - braised half chicken with garlic, green olives, and preserved lemon OR Roast Lamb Meshoui - lamb shank braised in natural juices OR Couscous with Seven Vegetables - National dish - steamed tiny semolina pasta served with seasoned vegetables."

This is not accurate - Gary and Sherry got ALL of those things.

As for the Marrakesh Feast, the Allears.net description is mostly accurate:

"Harira soup; Beef Brewat Rolls; Marrakesh Mixed Grill (Tenderloin of Beef Shish Kebab, Lamb Merguez Sausage, Marinated Chicken Kebab) served with roasted potatoes."

The one inaccuracy is that we didn't get lamb merguez sausage, might've been because they were out since I think it was on the menu at the restaurant. Pity since that was what I was most looking forward to, having had it at a past F&W Fest.

And both combination meals came with "Assorted Moroccan pastries," which meant three different kinds of baklava, all yummy.

The starters arrived. I knew I would love the beef brewat roll and was surprised at how tasty the harira soup was. I'm not a big soup eater, but I would definitely eat this soup again. The jasmine salad and seafood bastille ooked equally good, and Gary and Sherry both enjoyed them. The main courses were a bit disappointing in comparison, at least for Sherry and me - she didn't care for her lamb at all, and neither the chicken nor beef kebabs were as good as the soup or the beef brewat roll. Hubby and Gary, on the other hand, had no trouble finishing everything. Sherry and I both boxed part of our meals up and took them back to the rooms, but they ended up getting tossed. Fortunately, the delicious pastries made up for any disappointment we'd had with the main course.

Restaurant Marrakesh is not a "must do" restaurant for hubby and me, although we usually like it well enough. Next trip we're going to try Spice Road Table instead.

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yay yay yay yay

We had Cali Grill and Sanaa and I picked Sanaa as my favorite. Joe really liked Cali Grill as did I for the view and fireworks but EVERY SINGLE THING at Sanaa blew me away!

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"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."

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Just so you know, you don't have to order the all you can eat breakfast at WCC, we didn't have it when we went for breakfast. I think I got eggs any way and Sy got the pulled pork burger thing (yes, it was off the breakfast menu!). I'd go back for breakfast there no worries Smile

If you loved Sanaa you gotta come over to the uk and taste some of the Indian food here, it's soooo similar to Sanaa! Sometimes even better Shock curry is the most popular dish here in the uk - even more than fish and chips.

I loved the garlic pickle the best I think in Sanaa, though I didn't find the jalepeno dip that hot... Maybe it was a cool night cause I'm usually more sensitive to spicy foods. In my humble opinion, you missed out not trying the butter chicken, it's my fav thing on the menu, so much that I get 2 of them and 1 rice hehe though I learned on this last trip to get 1 of those meals between 2 of us and then some breads, that more than filled me up Smile

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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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JMed wrote:
We had Cali Grill and Sanaa and I picked Sanaa as my favorite. Joe really liked Cali Grill as did I for the view and fireworks but EVERY SINGLE THING at Sanaa blew me away!

I know! It was like that for me comparing Jiko and Sanaa - there were two or three entrees I really wanted to try at Jiko, but at Sanaa I wanted EVERYTHING.

RobynPrincess wrote:
If you loved Sanaa you gotta come over to the uk and taste some of the Indian food here, it's soooo similar to Sanaa! Sometimes even better Shock curry is the most popular dish here in the uk - even more than fish and chips.

You have much better Indian food in the UK than we have around here, I think. In the USA when we think of Asian food, we think far east - Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese. Indian isn't as popular.

RobynPrincess wrote:
In my humble opinion, you missed out not trying the butter chicken, it's my fav thing on the menu, so much that I get 2 of them and 1 rice hehe though I learned on this last trip to get 1 of those meals between 2 of us and then some breads, that more than filled me up Smile

Next time! We've got a dinner ADR there during our winter trip, and I will definitely take your suggestion.

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And now to wrap up the food portion of the trip report. I actually have a photo or two to accompany this report, but it will have to wait till tomorrow because I'm on the desktop PC and the photos are all on our laptop.

We spent Thursday at MK and had lunch at Pecos Bill's since we were in that section of the park. Hubby got the taco salad and was surprised to discover that all they give you is the taco shell bowl and the meat. Everything else comes from the fixings bar. This was good for me to know since I can get that in the future without having to ask for it without the cheese - I just won't get it when I load up on veggies. I had a hamburger (meaning the cheeseburger without the cheese) and onion rings and our friends both got the cheeseburgers with fries. Pecos Bill's burgers are pretty darn good for counter service, and the toppings bar is wonderful. I topped mine with mayo, mustard, pickles, lettuce, and grilled onions (my usual toppings when I go someplace like Five Guys). And the onions rings were quite good - battered instead of breaded, which is the way I prefer my onion rings.

Dinner that evening was at 'Ohana. We had an 8:00 ADR but arrived around 7:00 to request a table with a good view of the fireworks. The CM at the check-in desk said we were the only people with that request at the moment. We waited a bit past our ADR time - hubby got a fireball cocktail while we waited, which I tasted and thought delicious - then finally we were seated right by the window overlooking MK. Perfect!

This was our first visit to 'Ohana since they switched the lettuce wraps for the salad and removed the chicken from the fire-grilled meat selection. We had no problem with the changes; as much as we loved the salad, we enjoyed the lettuce wraps even more, and neither hubby nor I missed the chicken. As for our friends, this was their first meal at 'Ohana so they had no expectations going in other than a good meal. Of course we all enjoyed it immensely. For those who've never had the pleasure of dining at 'Ohana, the meal start with delicious welcome bread, moves on to the appetizer selection (chicken wings, pork dumplings, and lettuce wraps), followed by veggies, noodles, and grilled steak, pork, and shrimp. And for dessert the scrumptious bread pudding with caramel sauce and ice cream. My favorites are the lettuce wraps, pork dumplings, and steak. I got a red sangria to accompany my meal, the guys both got fireball cocktails (that made two for hubby), and I can't recall what Sherry drank.

As we were finishing the main course, the music started and the lights dimmed - time for Wishes! This was the only time we saw the fireworks show this trip, but the view from our table was spectacular.

Friday saw us at Hollywood Studios for the first and only time this trip. We had lunch at ABC Commissary; hubby and Sherry got the Asian salad with chicken, I got the shrimp platter, and Gary got the hamburger with fries. I thought the shrimp was very tasty, especially since at $7.99 I'm sure they were "shrimp nuggets" and not actual whole shrimp - the lack of tail shells kind of gave that away. Still, I would definitely order it again. Dinner that night consisted of leftovers from Sanaa for hubby and me while our friends passed on leftovers and picked up sandwiches.

Saturday, departure day, we parted company with Gary and Sherry, who had an earlier flight than we did and left for the airport after we checked out. Hubby and I spent a few hours at Animal Kingdom, but neither of us had much of an appetite. For lunch we got two orders of samosas and edamame for hubby from the vegetarian cart in the Asia section. Those samosas are very tasty and one of my favorite things at AK. Later that afternoon I finally got popcorn, my favorite park snack. And that was the last thing I ate at WDW this trip.

Next up, the WDWFG meet-up!

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Pretty sure I had more popcorn than one person should be allowed. laugh

We didn't try the samsoas but they sure did look good. Will have to start a list for the next trip!

YAY for meet ups! yay

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"I do not like the cone of shame."

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell."

"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."

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Veering slightly off topic, a week ago I was strolling around Disney's Hollywood Studios in shorts and a T-shirt. Today I put on my winter coat just to walk to the mailbox. And yesterday I saw a few snowflakes - the real kind, not the soap bubble "snow" they have on Main Street and the Streets of America. I need to go back to Orlando NOW.

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crazycatperson wrote:
Veering slightly off topic, a week ago I was strolling around Disney's Hollywood Studios in shorts and a T-shirt. Today I put on my winter coat just to walk to the mailbox. And yesterday I saw a few snowflakes - the real kind, not the soap bubble "snow" they have on Main Street and the Streets of America. I need to go back to Orlando NOW.

rolling rolling I get that exact same feeling after every trip!

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MrHub wrote:
crazycatperson wrote:
Veering slightly off topic, a week ago I was strolling around Disney's Hollywood Studios in shorts and a T-shirt. Today I put on my winter coat just to walk to the mailbox. And yesterday I saw a few snowflakes - the real kind, not the soap bubble "snow" they have on Main Street and the Streets of America. I need to go back to Orlando NOW.

rolling rolling I get that exact same feeling after every trip!

Me too!!

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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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The last of the food photos - the shrimp platter and Asian salad from DHS's ABC Commissary and samosas and edamame from Animal Kingdom.

And I forgot about that cupcake! It was the seasonal pumpkin cupcake and slightly out of date with the jack-o-lantern on top, although still appropriate for the season. Very delicious. We cut it in fourths and shared it around the table.

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awesome i love your trip report. i bet Dan really enjoyed the giraffes Smile muchlove

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Dee, he loved them! But you know he likes giraffes. He wore his giraffe T-shirt and giraffe Mickey ears when we went to Animal Kingdom park and was a bit miffed that I insisted on sitting in the lion section at Festival of the Lion King, so I promised that next time we would sit in the giraffe section. BTW sorry we just missed you on this trip, hope to catch up with you at WDW again someday.

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Here's a photo I borrowed from JMed's trip report of the tuna poke at the Hawaii F&W booth along with a photo I took in 2011 of the same dish. Sure looks as if the portion was smaller this year. Still yummy, though, and still one of my favorites.

Edited to add: I think the tuna pieces were slightly smaller and there was less seaweed salad underneath this year.

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And now, the meet-up!

We were schedule to meet at 2:00 Monday in the UK pavilion courtyard where the British Revolution band plays. Due to a last-minute change to the park du jour, hubby and our friends weren't at Epcot at all that day; due to some unexpected complications (more on them later) I was worried for a time that I wouldn't make either. Also, due to not doing anything on a computer since arrival day except rearrange FastPasses, I had no idea that Robyn and Simon would be late or that Mickey2 and Mr. Mickey would be joining us.

Anyway, my complications were dealt with early enough for me to get to Epcot and over to the UK before 2:00. As I approached the courtyard I looked around but didn't see Robyn and Simon. I did, however, see a woman on a bench who kept looking over her shoulder at me and eventually got up and approached me. Sure enough, it was JMed! We exchanged greetings and I said hello to Mr. Med. We talked about this and that, don't recall exactly, although I know the Food and Wine Festival came up. Mickey2 and her hubby showed up a bit later. As I said, I didn't know they were coming so had no clue who they were, but figured it out pretty quickly. And I was very sorry hubby was over at MK showing our friends around because the Mickey2s are full-time RVers, and that's on hubby's wish list for retirement, so I know he would have enjoyed talking with them. We also talked about the Mickey2s' Annual Pass/FastPass problems and how they were finally resolved. JMed had mentioned that Robyn and Simon were running late at a Les Chefs ADR; they arrived a bit past 2:30 but with plenty of time to visit before the band started their 3:00 set.

I enjoy meeting everyone I can from this forum, but I was especially happy to see Robyn and Simon since hubby and I had the pleasure of meeting them two years ago. They are both such lovely people, and I consider them friends even though there's an ocean between us. So I gave them both a hug and then all seven of us got back to talking about our trips, the merits of being a DVC owner (looks as if we talked the JMeds into buying!), and other things. Robyn showed me her iPhone 5; hubby and I were seriously considering upgrading our "stupidphones" since they were both showing their age and weren't holding a charge as long as they used to. And I'm happy to report that Robyn's recommendation combined with not finding anything else that met our criteria led us to purchase the same model iPhones.

The band came out as we were talking and we all stuck around to see the show. Once that was over, we talked some more and then started to split up to get to FPs or ADRs or whatever was next on our respective agendas. Robyn and Simon had a FP for Soarin' (I think it was Soarin'), and since I had to catch the monorail to meet my "peeps" at the Magic Kingdom, we started walking together. And lovely people that they are, they walked me all the way to the park entrance, where we took a quick PhotoPass photo together and then said our goodbyes. But not for long - although my schedule called for me to go to Animal Kingdom park Tuesday, I decided to blow off my group so I could see Robyn and Simon at Magic Kingdom after they checked out of the Grand Floridian.

So Tuesday morning arrived. I made it to MK a little before our scheduled meeting time, which was 10:00 to 10:15. We'd agreed to meet by the flagpole, which I noticed had been moved from the town square over to the city hall. I waited a bit, watching people meeting characters in the square and doing a questionnaire with a cast member who asked if I was willing (I said I was waiting for people so might as well spend the time answering his questions). I saw Robyn in her scooter a little past 10:15; she apologized for being late, but I assured her I would've waited as long as it took. Simon arrived a bit later, since he had taken their bags through the bag check while Robyn hurried ahead to find me.

Our first stop was the Main Street Bakery; I was taking doxycycline (more on that later) which needs to be on an empty stomach, so I didn't have time to eat before I left for MK. Simon very generously treated me to a croissant and an iced tea lemonade (thanks, Simon); Robyn also got a croissant (we agreed they were delicious) while Simon got a breakfast sandwich. After that, Robyn and Simon had a FP for Haunted Mansion. I didn't, but since the standby wait was just 10 minutes Robyn was able to use her GAC to get all three of us in with no wait. This was the first time I entered any attraction via the disabled entrance, and it was interesting to see how it was done. After entering the first room, we and a few other groups that included disabled people waited to the right while everyone else entered the shrinking room. From there we followed a CM through a CM corridor to the ride's exit. For everyone who had the ability to walk a short distance, wheelchairs and scooters were left outside the building and then we all walked to the ride exit platform and boarded our Doom Buggies as other riders were getting off. Simon told Robyn to ride with me (thank you again, Simon), and Robyn described some of the secret effects of the Haunted Mansion that she and Simon learned during one of the behind the scenes tours they took (I think it was Marceline to Magic Kingdom).

From Haunted Mansion we continued to It's a Small World, again using the wheelchair entrance. I'm sure most if not all of you have seen people with disabilities enter this ride, so I won't describe it here. The three of us shared the front seat of our boat. The front seat has considerably less leg room than the seats farther back - and if I have a legroom problem, you KNOW there isn't much legroom. Poor Simon was really cramped up. Anyway, Robyn told me a seriously creepy secret about Small World that she learned on a backstage tour. Every night when the park closes, they stop the Small World boats, turn off the music, and shut down the lights. But it would take too much time to go through the ride turning off all the animatronics - so all night long, in the dark and silence, those little dolls keep dancing and dancing and dancing.... Dang if that would not make the basis for one terrifying horror movie!

Robyn and Simon's next stop was Monsters, Inc., where they had plans to meet other friends. So onward we went. I really should have said my goodbyes then and headed over to Kidani Village for our Sanaa lunch ADR, but I did not want to leave just yet, so since the standby wait at Monsters was also just 10 minutes, all five of us were able to go right in using GAC card. Again, you've no doubt seen how people with disabilities enter this attraction, so I won't go into detail. Robyn parked her ECV, the rest of us got chummy on a bench that was just a hair too small for all of us, and we all enjoyed the show. And then I really needed to hustle my butt to the exit to make that ADR.

Below are two photos of the Epcot meet-up. The first was taken by a kind stranger using my camera. Front row, left to right: JMed, crazycatperson, Robynprincess, and Mickey2. Back row, left to right: Mr. JMed, Mr. Mickey2, and...ummm, shall I call him Robyn's prince? (Ladies, feel free to borrow this photo to illustrate your own trip reports.)

Second photo is borrowed from JMed and shows JMed and Robyn posing, with me in the Marie the cat T-shirt behind them.

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I missed a meet-up photo. This is Robyn and Simon, taken with my old mobile phone, so apologies for the low quality. Hubby asked me to send him a photo of them from the meet-up.

Also, ladies, if any of you would like a higher-resolution version of the meet-up group photo, send me a private message with your email address and I will get it to you.

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Love the pics!!! And it was so wonderful meeting you all! It's exciting putting a face with name and actually meeting the people we interact with here on an almost daily basis!!!!

Wish we could have caught up with you all in MK that day, we were there too but crazy busy and we just kept walking onto ride after ride after ride!

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"I do not like the cone of shame."

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell."

"It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell."

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Thanks to Food and Wine, I made a couple of stops while out yesterday - the liquor store (the one on Eisenhower, Alicemouse) to get some Glenfiddich whisky, which we tried and loved at the F&W Scotland booth. We had the 18-year at Epcot (magnificent) but only bought the 12 year here at home. For good reason; the 12-year cost $45 for a 750 ml bottle, while the 18-year was up around $100. I'm sure the 12-year will be very good as well, but if not perhaps next time we'll have to bust the budget for the 18-year. I told hubby he was not to make any whisky sours with this stuff, and he said, "No, that's what Jack Daniels is for." Good man.

Second stop was a beer distributor. For those of you who aren't fortunate enough to live in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, here we can only buy wine and liquor at state stores. Beer must be purchased at beer distributors and can only be purchased by the case. (The exception being that six-packs can be purchased at stores that also sell food for consumption on-site.) I wanted some of that scrumptious Stella Artois cidre that I got at the Belgium booth. Fortunately, since I already knew how good it was, I didn't balk at having to purchase a case of 24 bottles. There's a four-pack in the refrigerator right now, and I know what I'm drinking tonight.

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And now, on to a day-by-day account of our vacation.

Saturday, November 1 was departure day. In spite of procrastinating on preparations, I'd gotten most of the stuff I wanted to do finished Friday evening (meaning I left the place a little less clean than I would've liked, but everything we needed and everything the cats needed was done). Saturday we happily had a relaxed morning getting the last-minute stuff done. We loved up the cats one last time, especially the kitten, and hit the road just a little past our target departure time. The drive was uneventful, and we got a text from Gary and Sherry saying they'd reached the terminal while we were boarding the parking lot bus.

We checked our bags, but instead of taking them behind the counter, we were told to take them to a woman with a baggage cart at the end of the check-in counters. The Southwest employee behind the desk explained that they were changing their baggage-handling procedures and this was temporary. (Remember this, because it will come up again later.) That done, I breezed through security because they sent me over to the TSA pre-check line after I'd gotten in the regular one. This was the second time it had happened, since I also was sent through TSA pre in September. After hubby had his shoes and belt back on and the laptop back in its case, we wondered why they kept sending me through TSA pre. Because I was over 60? But I wasn't in September, and Gary and Sherry are older than I am and had to go through the regular line. I checked my boarding pass and realized that "TSA PRE" was printed right on it! Later I realized that it was probably because I'd undergone a government background check in connection with my government contracting job. It was probably the same background check as the TSA pre-check, if not more stringent. And sure enough, my boarding pass for the return flight also had "TSA PRE" printed on it. So thanks to my job I don't have to take off my shoes and belt, pull out my liquids bag, or unpack my laptop when I go through airport security. Very nice. Definitely need to keep this job.

We met Sherry and Gary at a small food court adjacent to the Southwest Airlines gates after we'd all made it through security and got lunch. Our gate was more crowded than usual due to a delayed incoming flight, so we had to stand around a bit. Eventually we heard an announcement saying that our flight had been moved to another gate, thankfully not crowded at all, and we grabbed four seats before the rest of the folks on our flight made it over. Our flight was delayed by roughly 20 minutes, which became 30 minutes, and then became much longer because apparently someone on the arriving flight had been messing with a floor grate, which was now loose and needed to be thoroughly inspected and secured before anyone could board. Bummer. We finally boarded the plane; hubby and I had boarding placement of A32 and A33 while Gary and Sherry had A40 and A41, close enough so we were able to get seats in adjacent rows, with hubby sitting in an aisle seat on the right and the rest of us taking up all three seats on the left. Since Southwest doesn't assign seats and lots of people don't pay the extra charge for early-bird online check-in, a family of three boarded last and couldn't find seats together since there were only single seats left. The boy, perhaps 12 to 14 years old, was quite anxious about having to sit apart from his parents and ended up being seated between hubby and the woman in the window seat on his right. I felt bad and for a moment considered telling hubby to take my seat and I would go sit in a single seat so the kid and at least one parent could sit together. Then I thought, Hey, we paid $25 to get good seats, not my fault they didn't, and it's not as if the kid were 5 years old. He was old enough to take care of himself. And he did just fine, plugged himself into his music and games and was none the worse and perhaps better off for having had to do something that pushed his comfort levels. Next time he'll know he can do it.

And then the flight was delayed a little more because the winds had shifted and the plane had to change runways! By this time we were over an hour late taking off and I knew we wouldn't be doing much at WDW that evening. Fortunately the flight was uneventful, with just a bit of minor turbulence along the way. We landed over an hour late and found it quite cool for Florida. We split up from our friends at this point, since they were renting a car and we were doing the Magical Express. We were the only people going to Animal Kingdom Lodge and rode with the Pop Century/Art of Animation crowd. It was cool seeing Pop again after our fun stay there last April. Once all the value guests had been delivered, hubby and I moved up to the front seats to chat with our driver, who was awesome. He made the whole trip a lot of fun and chatted with the two of us all the way from AoA to Kidani. I discovered he was from the state I was born in, and we reminisced a bit about the old home towns even though he was young enough to be my kid and our growing-experiences were somewhat different. I really felt bad that I had no smaller bills in my wallet because I would have tipped him if I'd had a few ones or even a five. Check-in went smoothly, after which we took the elevator to the fourth floor and walked...and walked...and walked until we finally found our room almost at the end of our semicircle and practically in Jambo House. But we were quite pleased with the rooms (see description and photos above) and especially with our savannah view (also see pictures and description above).

We phoned Gary and Sherry and discovered that they were just leaving the airport! The line at the rental car counter was huge, and instead of making it to the resort before we did, which I had expected, they were going to be quite late. Hubby and I were starving at this point, so we headed over to Jambo House and eventually found The Mara. We figured we could go back with our friends or accompany them anyplace they wanted to go once they arrived, but once they arrived they were too stressed and tired from the long trip and all the delays and ended up eating cookies for dinner.

Gary and Sherry only had 6-day non-park-hoppers and wouldn't have wasted a day on a few hours at Magic Kingdom that evening. Hubby and I could've gone on our annual passes, and I'd even made FPs for the evening, but we also decided to stay in and take it easy. Good thing, too, because we heard the sirens screaming past and then saw news about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train fire on the TV news that night! So glad we weren't there! But I am happy to report that when we did make it to MK later in the week, we could see no evidence at all that there had ever been a fire, and aside from while the fire was burning and being fought, the ride never closed down.

By this point we were exhausted, but our bags hadn't arrived yet. Hubby fell asleep fully clothed while I watched TV and the evening news. At one point I looked out the window and saw a whole herd of zebras right outside! So I woke hubby up to show him, and he was glad that I did - that was our first really good view of the savannah animals. At the four-hour point after check-in, which was 12:30 am, I called the front desk and explained the situation. Did we arrive on the Magical Express? Yes, we had. And had we flown Southwest? Why, yes to that also. And the helpful CM explained that Southwest was having "problems" getting checked baggage to the resorts. Aha! So changing the baggage-handling procedures was causing complications on both ends of the trip. The CM asked whether we wanted our bags brought up as soon as they arrived or not until we woke up and called in the morning. Of course I opted for morning, not wanting people dragging bags into our room while we were sleeping. And we went to bed, me without my toothbrush.

Day 2, Epcot!

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crazycatperson wrote:
Thanks to Food and Wine, I made a couple of stops while out yesterday - the liquor store (the one on Eisenhower, Alicemouse) to get some Glenfiddich whisky, which we tried and loved at the F&W Scotland booth. We had the 18-year at Epcot (magnificent) but only bought the 12 year here at home. For good reason; the 12-year cost $45 for a 750 ml bottle, while the 18-year was up around $100. I'm sure the 12-year will be very good as well, but if not perhaps next time we'll have to bust the budget for the 18-year. I told hubby he was not to make any whisky sours with this stuff, and he said, "No, that's what Jack Daniels is for." Good man.

Second stop was a beer distributor. For those of you who aren't fortunate enough to live in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, here we can only buy wine and liquor at state stores. Beer must be purchased at beer distributors and can only be purchased by the case. (The exception being that six-packs can be purchased at stores that also sell food for consumption on-site.) I wanted some of that scrumptious Stella Artois cidre that I got at the Belgium booth. Fortunately, since I already knew how good it was, I didn't balk at having to purchase a case of 24 bottles. There's a four-pack in the refrigerator right now, and I know what I'm drinking tonight.

It's insane. I never really paid it much attention when I lived here as a kid because I couldn't buy alcohol anyway. In college there were three liquor stores within a 1/2 mile of campus and when we moved to Virginia, we could buy alcohol basically anywhere--grocery store, gas station, you name it. Then we moved home and I wanted to pick up some of those little pre-mixed Kahlua drinks that they used to sell in the grocery store in Virginia . I didn't even know where to buy them! (That's when the current wine & spirits store was a Haband.)

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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:
We checked our bags, but instead of taking them behind the counter, we were told to take them to a woman with a baggage cart at the end of the check-in counters. The Southwest employee behind the desk explained that they were changing their baggage-handling procedures and this was temporary. (Remember this, because it will come up again later.) That done, I breezed through security because they sent me over to the TSA pre-check line after I'd gotten in the regular one. This was the second time it had happened, since I also was sent through TSA pre in September. After hubby had his shoes and belt back on and the laptop back in its case, we wondered why they kept sending me through TSA pre. Because I was over 60? But I wasn't in September, and Gary and Sherry are older than I am and had to go through the regular line. I checked my boarding pass and realized that "TSA PRE" was printed right on it! Later I realized that it was probably because I'd undergone a government background check in connection with my government contracting job. It was probably the same background check as the TSA pre-check, if not more stringent. And sure enough, my boarding pass for the return flight also had "TSA PRE" printed on it. So thanks to my job I don't have to take off my shoes and belt, pull out my liquids bag, or unpack my laptop when I go through airport security. Very nice. Definitely need to keep this job.

We're curious how this TSA pre-check is done, too. I heard that if you're a frequent traveler that you're more likely to be selected for TSA pre check, but when we went in April, my mom and dad both had it and neither of us did and my mom had it again coming home. My parents fly quite a bit, but not as frequently as we have been and even after 10 flights in 12 months, we still weren't selected for this past trip. I did have a government background check for work, but it was 11 years ago. I guess my mom probably had one for school, but I had another one as a youth sports coach, too, so I'm not really sure what criteria they're looking for. Coming home in August, everyone in our security line got randomly converted to pre-check and it was awesome. I'd love to use that line every time, but not enough to pay extra for it!

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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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Pre-check is a mystery to me too. When I flew home to PA in July I was selected on US Airways. I didn't know it until I got to the security agent who pointed it out to me on my boarding pass. I checked on my flight back and sure enough it was there. I didn't have it for Southwest when I went last month. When I was going through security at MCO for my flight home the line was converted to a pre-check line.

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Well, then, I will be sure to check my boarding pass for my next flight to see if it has TSA PRE printed. Perhaps I've just been getting lucky these past couple of trips.

Anyway...

Day 2 - Sunday, November 2 - EPCOT day

The USA switched from Daylight Savings to standard time overnight, so in spite of getting to bed late I woke up at 7:00 standard time feeling pretty well rested. Hubby was already up and said we had a phone message telling us the luggage had finally arrived at 3:30 am. It was delivered very quickly. Of course one of the first things we did was check out the savannah, but there weren't many animals visible from our rooms, just some Ankole cattle. Our friends suggested going offsite for breakfast, and we agreed, so once we were prepped and ready we hopped in the rental car and off we went. I guess we should've turned left onto 192 from Sherberth instead of right because the only place we found was a Cracker Barrel, not a favorite restaurant of any of us. And the breakfasts were HUGE! Quite good, but too large for people who'd planned to graze at the Food and Wine Festival. Our waitress, whose name I don't recall, was very friendly and funny - she joked about my request for decaf coffee (oh, we can't let her get wired this early in the morning!), flirted just a bit with the guys, and generally had a humorous response for nearly everything. It was a fun breakfast.

Breakfast took a bit longer than I'd expected and we barely made it to Epcot in time for my first FastPass, Test Track. Everyone else was doing Mission Space and their FP window started a bit later than mine. Once through the gates I speed walked straight to Test Track. According to my phone I arrived the minute my FP ended and according to their clock I was a minute late, but of course they give you a few minutes' grace period so my band made the scanner flash green and in I went. In designing my concept car, I went for a sports car outline with a hybrid engine (which seems to balance between performance and efficiency). I tweaked the exterior, wheels, etc., picked my favorite color (teal), then headed in to the ride to see how my car did. Test Track is one of the few WDW "thrill" rides that I can handle without getting queasy (unless I throw my arms up in the air, that's a no-no for me). I was seated in the front row with a family of five, but the woman in front of me didn't realize someone would be sitting with her and her small daughter and plunked down in the right most seat. I asked her to move over, and she climbed over her daughter so I could get in. (Newbies, I guess.) We had a good ride, as always, and my concept car did pretty well, best in most areas among my fellow riders and it got a 204 total score, my best yet. It even beat hubby's best score from September of 200.

Once I was off I got a text saying the rest of my bunch were done with Mission Space - and when I joined them I learned they had done the orange side! Fearless. Sherry said it wasn't that bad, although she did get a tightness in her chest during the most intense moments. Of course, they'd all done the "orange" experience back when it was the only experience and knew they could handle it.

Nobody was even remotely hungry yet, so we decided to visit Ellen's Energy Adventure since we were so close. Correct me if I'm mistaken, but didn't there used to be an Ellen animatronic somewhere in the prehistoric scenes? I keep looking for it but haven't seen it at all over our last couple of visits. Then we stopped at the Festival Center to look around and get something to drink (hydration drinks, not the fun kind). We had no more FastPasses until mid-afternoon, so we decided to swing around the World Showcase by way of Club Cool. Gary and Sherry had never visited Club Cool before, and I think they enjoyed it...all but the Beverly. I had warned Sherry to try the Beverly first before drinking anything sweeter, but even with the warning I don't think she was impressed. Gary, meanwhile, had wandered to another fountain, never heard the warning, and hit Beverly after trying some of the really sweet stuff, so of course he thought it was horrid. Meanwhile, I sucked down two or three cups before trying something else.

In addition to our Food and Wine Festival stops, our tour of the World Showcase had us stopping at the Twinings shop in the UK to see whether they had the Christmas tea, a favorite of mine that's hard to find around here. And they did, but since I knew we'd be nearby for our Le Cellier dinner ADR, I waited to purchase some. At the far end of the World Showcase we considered visiting the American Adventure, but then realized we had impending FastPasses for The Seas with Nemo. So it was on the boat from Morocco to Canada and then we hoofed it over to The Seas. I don't think Gary was particularly impressed; I get the feeling he'd be a lot happier at the Universal parks where there are lots of thrill rides. But I always think it's cute. We had still more time to kill after that ride, so hubby left us to visit the tobacco attraction while we walked into Turtle Talk with almost no wait.

Everyone but me had FastPasses for Soarin' next, although there was still time before they could enter. I had a FP for Turtle Talk, but didn't need it since we'd already visited that attraction. We started in the Land pavilion with Circle of Life, and I really need to stop visiting that one, the images of filth, pollution, and dead or dying animals gets me every time, and I already agree with the message. Soarin' came next; while they rode I visited a FP kiosk and tried to find another FP that I could use fast, but there was nothing that interested me, so I headed back to the Land and waited outside the Soarin' exit. And then we had a fair bit of time to kill before our Le Cellier ADR and our friends were starting to get tired, so we swung by Living with the Land. The standby line was the longest I'd seen for that attraction in quite a long time, although the posted wait time of only 10 minutes was pretty accurate. While we wound our way through the line we passed a fellow with a T-shirt that made me do a triple-take. It read, "Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast." I imagine many of you won't have a clue what that means, but a few of you, and especially our UK friends, might. It's a line from an episode of my favorite British TV show of all time, the sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf. I told the fellow (a North American from the sound of it) that I loved his shirt. Next time we passed, we smiled and he said he wondered whether anyone at WDW would get it. I replied that I had the boxed set all nine seasons plus a separate set with the three-episode "Back to Earth" miniseries. And he told me THERE'S A TENTH SEASON! OMG!!!! I didn't even know. He also said there's an eleventh in the works. I am so in geek heaven. So back to the ride - it was interesting as always, and always cool to see what's new in the greenhouses. We were in the back row of our boat, and hubby noticed the Garden Grill above us and thought it was an observation deck. I explained it was the rotating restaurant, and now he wants to try it someday. (But not this trip or next trip, they were and are booked solid.)

Our ADR for Le Cellier wasn't until 6:00 and we still a good 45 minutes to go, but we headed over anyway, snagged the first seats in the lobby we could find, and waited. I've already reported on the meal, which was excellent. After dinner we returned to the Twinings shop and I bought two boxes of the Christmas tea. While shopping Sherry heard the British Revolution start their final set, so we headed over to hear the band. I sort of semi-danced, mostly just bobbing around without moving my feet, and occasionally we old farts sang along to songs I still think of as young people's music. And that was the end of our day at Epcot. The rental car was parked too close to bother waiting for the tram but far enough to make some of us complain about the walk. And then we couldn't find the rental car. Luckily it had Texas plates so was a bit easier to track down than if it had had Florida plates.

The original plan for Monday was to return to Epcot again to do more F&W Fest and meet up with WDWFG people, but with Sunday morning's visit to Cracker Barrel leaving us with little appetite for booth cruising and Boma on the agenda for Monday's breakfast, we decided to visit the Magic Kingdom Monday, with me park hopping to Epcot for the meet-up. And those plans got royally messed up Monday morning due to circumstances beyond anyone's control, but more on that later.

And back at Kidani Village, we saw four giraffes bed down right outside our window along with Ankole cattle and antelopes.

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crazycatperson wrote:
Dee, he loved them! But you know he likes giraffes. He wore his giraffe T-shirt and giraffe Mickey ears when we went to Animal Kingdom park and was a bit miffed that I insisted on sitting in the lion section at Festival of the Lion King, so I promised that next time we would sit in the giraffe section. BTW sorry we just missed you on this trip, hope to catch up with you at WDW again someday.

I look forward to meeting up with you and Dan again! please tell him I said hello mickey

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Ok so I'm FINALLY caught up on your trip report! I didn't want to start it until I had time to read it all at once. Because I'm weeks behind I apologize for the randomness below...

Your room was gorgeous! I am craving that Savannah view! My daughter's favorite animal is giraffes so if there were a way to guarantee a view of giraffes out our window I might be swayed to switch our December 2015 trip from BWV to AKV...

I've been wanting to try Stella Artois cidre too so I'm glad to hear good things! What a bummer about the tiny portion of the tuna poke, though. The smoked salmon and the pork belly sound so yummy, they definitely would have been on my list to try if I were there! All of your F&WF pictures and descriptions make me really sad we didn't make it this year.

Glad to hear you like Le Cellier! I've heard it's really crowded down there...did you feel like you were really close to other tables? That's kind of what has turned us off from trying this restaurant.

Jiko sounds great but oh man do you and JMed having me want to go to Sanaa so badly after your TR! Unfortunately my super picky in-laws would probably die if we brought them there so it will most likely be a few years before we make it there.

Your favorites at Ohana are my favorites too! I wish it were possible to get just all you could eat lettuce wraps and dumplings for a reduced price, I would do that in a heartbeat!

I've never tried the samosas and edamame (LOVE edamame) at AK so I've added this to my must do's for next trip.

That It's a Small World fact totally freaks me out. I'm not a big fan of that ride to begin with, but that is the stuff of nightmares!

The suspense to find out what the royal mishap was is kind of killing me! Great TR so far!! clapping

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Allie, we were in room 7454. I imagine 7254 and 7354 have an even better giraffe view, being on lower floors. Get one of those and you'll have a giraffe feeding station right out your window.

The tables at Le Cellier are quite close together, but we were at the end of a row of tables in a corner, two of us with our backs to the wall and only one dining party close by on one side. So we didn't feel horribly crowded and did have a modicum of privacy.

Don't get me wrong, Jiko and Sanaa are both wonderful, I simply prefer Sanaa. I hear you about the picky in-laws, though; couldn't do anything like that if my dad and stepmom were able to come along.

The "complication" will be up soon.

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I had the surf and turf at Sanaa, the pap that was under it wasn't too "strange" for picky eaters, kinda like grits or maybe potatoes I guess with bacon and corn in it. The bread service alone is worth it!!!

Keep the TR coming!!!!

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