A Day Away From Our Week Away Day 8 Heading Home

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Cinema Too's picture
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A Day Away From Our Week Away Day 8 Heading Home

Our plane leaves just before 9:00am on Saturday morning. If things go right, we should be at SSR by 1:00pm.

It has been 3 years since we have been in the World. That is way too long.

I have decided for this trip that I will give a brief daily update ( I have a different idea that i hope will work) and then put together a more detailed report when I return. I found last time that trying to type a full day recap on an iPad at the end of the day is not as easy as it may seem.

I will also update what (I think) happened at the end of my last trip report and why I haven't posted much since.

So, who's going? It will be my wife and I again. The boys won't be going. We have tried over the last couple of years to get the four of us down there, but work, school, baseball and busy lives got in the way. We came pretty close this May. The wife and I were looking to celebrate our anniversary (Number 35, thank you very much). Son the Older, had vacation time from work and Son the Younger was wrapping up school and baseball season around the middle of May. Then Son the Younger landed a great internship and they wanted him to start right away. Son the Older did not want to go if his brother was not going. So the wife and I headed to Maine for a week. We had a great week, but still have the desire for the four of us to be together at WDW. Disney was a big part of our family life as the boys grew up.

OK. One last day of work, a couple of last minute errands, pack and try to fall asleep.

More to follow.

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Can't wait to hear more. yay

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Looking forward to hearing all about it!

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Looking forward to hearing all about your trip Smile

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Have an awesome time! Can't wait to follow along! mickey

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Can't wait! Safe travels and tell Mickey hello for me!

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Saturday September 17 Recap[b]
[b]Where
Disney Springs and Magic Kingdom.
Weather Hot. One of the hottest days we have spent down here. It started spitting at about 4:00pm with a couple of very loud thunderclaps. At about 6:00pm it poured for 15 minutes, but we were under the awning at Haunted Mansion.
Crowds surprisingly heavy for this time of year. MK was very busy and as we were leaving at 9:00, crowds were still pouring in.
New stuff for us Fastpass+, Magic Bands, 7DMT. More on those in the trip report later.
Best thing we ate Sushi at Morimoto. I would have said Schofferhoffer but technically, you don't eat beer.
FitBit Steps 20,132 steps
Fitbit Mileage 10.1 miles
CM of the Day Tommy at Dockside Margaritas in Disney Springs. His energy, enthusiasm and smile set a great standard for service.

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Sunday, September 18
WhereMagic Kingdom and Disney Springs
Weather Very hot, very humid. Rain started at about 9:00pm
Crowds A bit lighter. Wait times were down. 25 at Jungle, 20 at Pirates
New Stuff for us Be Our Guest, Under the Sea, Festival of Fantasy Parade
Best Thing We Ate Saratoga Salad with Chicken. It was a very boring food day.
FitBit Steps 17,124 steps
Fitbit Mileage 7.86 miles
CM of the Day Mary. Don't know where she works, but as she was walking into work, she was singing to the parade music and smiling. Happier to be there, doing her job, than I was on vacation.

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Monday September 19
Where Magic Kingdom and Epcot
Weather Hot and Humid
Crowds Down from the weekend. Most ride times 20 or less.
New Stuff for Us Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour, Food and Wine, Soarin' (new version)
Best Thing We Ate Pizza at Via Napoli
FitBit Steps 26,267 steps
FitBit Mileage 12.06 miles
CM of the Day Michael, our tour guide on Marceline to Magic Kingdom

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What did you think of the Marceline to Magic Kingdom tour? We still have this on our to do list! Maybe on our November trip next year!

Have the wait times you've been sharing the posted wait times or the actual time you waited in line? I've heard that the posted wait times have been pretty inflated recently.

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We were at the parks last week and the posted times were actually about half of what was posted.

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Mcheal wrote:
We were at the parks last week and the posted times were actually about half of what was posted.

awesome

I wonder what the reasoning behind that is? To make the parks feel busier then they are?

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Allie wrote:
What did you think of the Marceline to Magic Kingdom tour? We still have this on our to do list! Maybe on our November trip next year!

Have the wait times you've been sharing the posted wait times or the actual time you waited in line? I've heard that the posted wait times have been pretty inflated recently.

The wife and I loved the tour. 3 hours with a 10 minute comfort break. Our guide, Michael is a big admirer of Walt and that came through in his presentation. More than just historical, he got in traits of Walt and how those affected what he did.

We did get to see how the ballroom scene is accomplished at Haunted Mansion..To do this we went way, way behind the scenes. We were told that this is not listed as part of the tour, because it does not happen every time. It was quite a treat.
The last 20 minutes was a private showing of Carousel of Progress, with Michael feeding stories, facts and anecdotes into our ears as we watched. He did the same on a group ride through Haunted Mansion.

The wait times were fairly accurate. There were occasions that they were off. I think this has to do with the weather. You might check your phone and see a 30 minutes wait time, but with lightning and thunder rolling in, people started getting in line to get out of the weather and the wait time becomes inaccurate.. We saw a wait time of 25 minutes on Soarin'. There was a large storm moving through and the park was emptying pretty fast. That number was fairly accurate. We got off, found out it was still raining so went on Living with the Land. It was listed at 10 and was actually a walk on.. We got off, saw Soarin' at 10 minutes, got in line and it was probably 20.

Hope this helps.

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Tuesday September 20
Where Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs
Weather Still Hot, Still Humid, No Rain
Crowds Heavier than we expected. Thought we would see 2/10 or 3/10, but they were more like 4/10 or 5/10. Wait times for the premium attractions were 60 or less. Attractions like Beauty and yhe Beast, Indiana Jones and Muppets were walk ins.
New Stuff for Us Frontera Cocina, Walking through a metal detector, Vivoli il Gelato
Best Thing We Ate Oaxacan Red Chile Chicken
FitBit Steps 19,714 steps
FitBit Mileage 9.05 miles
CM of the Day Juliana at Frontera Cocina. She was knowledgeable (could answer any questions about the menu) and friendly (just the right amount of chatty and always a smile). Very professional.

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Wednesday, September 21
Where Monorail Resorts and EPCOT
Weather Same
Crowds manageable shorter wait times except for feature rides
New Stuff for us Mission Space, Grand Floridian, skipping dinner
Best Thing We Ate Food & Wine (to be discussed later)
FitBit Steps 20,240 steps
FitBit Miles 9.29 miles
CM of the Day unfortunately, no one stood out.

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Thursday, September 22
Where Port Orleans Riverside, Animal Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Lodge
Weather No Change
Crowds a bit lighter, still heavier than expected
New Stuff for Us Sleeping in, Sanaa, Winged Encounters
Best Thing We Ate Sanaa, Sanaa, Sanaa
FitBit Steps 11,837 Steps
FitBit Miles 5.44
CM of the Day The staff at Sanaa, especially Bernadette.

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Friday, September 23
Where Epcot
Weather Same
Crowds Slightly Heavier probablythe start of the weekend
New Stuff for us Turf Club, Test Track,
Best Thing We Ate Food at Turf Club
FitBit Steps 17,545 steps
FitBit Miles 8.06 miles
CM of the Day Carol and Brianna at Turf Club

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Love Sanaa and Turf Club! Tell me you got the bread service at Sanaa! *drool* muchlove

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Let's start the trip report

First, a little background info.
It was my wife and I, one week, Saturday to Saturday, staying at Saratoga Springs. It was our first time staying there as we stay somewhere different each trip.
First trip in 3 years, 12th trip in the last 20 years.

3 years ago we visited for 5 days in September. (see Impetouisly Impulsive trip report). The weather was enjoyable and the crowds were light.

For this trip we chose the same time (actually one week later) and the weather was much hotter and the crowds bigger.

If you read any of the previous abbreviated posts of this trip, I'll need to explain a couple of things.

First, the FitBit numbers. I was helping a co-worker plan his first visit to WDW. I met with him and his wife and we discussed many questions that they had. (Biggest concern was the 5 year old daughter and the 16 year old step-daughter and how they would manage stuff for both). In wrapping up our meeting, I gave my usual comfortable shoes, wicking socks, blister stuff, etc speech. As it was a spring trip and we were just coming out of winter, I suggested they take a few walks to get in shape for the trip. They laughed and asked why. I told them that they would probably do 6-8 miles walking each day. They scoffed at this. They returned and said that I was right about the walking. As we were getting ready to leave on our trip and since I have worn a FitBit for several years, he asked that I let him know how far we went each day.

The CM of the Day idea came from checking in for our flight. We were TSA PreCheck and entered that line. While walking through the queue, an agent announced that this was the PreCheck line and if your tickets did not have PreCheck on them you were in the wrong place and would not be allowed through. My wife is in HR and I am a sales manager so employee behavior is something we both observe just out of habit.
There were two podiums where you show your boarding pass and drivers license. The one on the right manned by a smiling person, who greeted people as they approached, talked with them while he did what he had to do with their passes and wished them a great trip. The other was manned by a person who did not smile, whose only comment was 'boarding pass and ID' and upon handing our documents back, yelled 'Next'. We wanted the smile, we got the other. There was a woman ahead of us who approached the one with no smile and her ticket did not have PreCheck, she was abruptly informed she was in the wrong line and would have to go to the other area. "Next". As we approached she told her co-worker " I made an announcement, what was she thinking?" I thought about pointing out that this is an international airport and perhaps she did not speak English, but since she was still holding our documents, I did not.

Walking out of there, my wife and I decided we would look for outstanding CM behavior and comment on it.

OK. With all of that out of the way, here we go.

Up Next: Day One: Our first thrill ride did not require a FastPass

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Saturday Day One

The alarm went off at 6:00am, but both of us had been up for a bit. We both worked late on Friday trying to handle some last minute stuff before we stopped answering emails and phone calls. I know she was up quite late creating to-do lists for her staff.

We left the house on schedule, parked and got on a shuttle with plenty of time to spare. We went through security quickly and decided we had time to grab a bite to eat. We lingered over coffee, talking about the trip and how nice it will be to disconnect electronically.

We lost terminal gate lottery and had to walk to the very end of the concourse. Looking to our left, we saw a beautiful Ohio sunrise. Looking to our right we saw dark grey and black clouds approaching. We sat facing the storm and watched the winds and the lightning increase. You could see the wall of rain approaching. Thunderstorms rolling in off a Great Lake can be pretty nasty and while we are used to them, we don't see many at 8:00 in the morning. As it rolled in we started boarding.

It was a typical Saturday morning Orlando flight, lots of families, lots of kids.

Right before we pulled away from the gate, the pilot announced that we would have a 2 hour, 5 minute flight time. He then said the flight could be a bit rough heading out because of the storm and a little rough on landing as there were winds at MCO. There were lots of oohs and aahs, and a few gasps as we bounced and dipped our way to Florida. Flight attendants remained strapped in for the first hour of the flight, so beverage service was pretty much, "what would you like, here you go and are you done." We landed and headed towards DME.

Our MagicBands worked and got us on our bus to SSR. We received a text telling us our room was not ready, so we checked our carry-on, took care of some business at the front desk and then started looking for the walkway to Disney Springs. We were excited about our first ADR, a 2:15 at Morimoto.

Unfortunately, I missed the sign for the walkway and we spent more time walking around the resort than we wanted to. It was during this extra walking that we realized that the temperature and humidity were much higher than our last September visit. And that my wife was not handling the heat very well. As we crossed the bridge into Disney Springs we decided to soak up some air in the Disney Christmas store (One of the wife's favorites).

Leaving there, we set out to explore Disney Springs as they were just working on it during our last visit. Very impressive and we looked forward to exploring. Since we still had an hour to kill, I decided we should have a cocktail to celebrate our arrival. We headed to Dockside Margaritas and met the wonderful Tommy. He was wonderful to chat with and took great care of us. He helped my wife select a Margarita and said 'great choice' when I ordered a Schofferhoffer Grapefruit. We sat in the shade, listening to the entertainment and started to decompress. We told Tommy that we would see him tomorrow and headed off to Morimoto's.

More to come

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Day One Continued

We pulled ourselves away from our refreshments and headed to Morimoto to see if they would get us in early. They were able to and we were seated in the main dining area and greeted by a very competent (at least at the start) server, Steven.
He brought us beverages and then helped us navigate the menu, giving us several recommendations.

After a few minutes of consideration, we placed our order. An appetizer (Kanikama Rangoon), 3 sushi rolls and a Chicken Lo Mein. Steven informed us that they bring the food out as it is completed, so some items may arrive at the same time. I asked Steven to split the bowl of Lo Mein so each of us got a bowl or dish of it. He told me that they couldn't do that, but he would bring me plates and extra forks so we could share. I did not think that this was an unusual request and was surprised that they would not accommodate us.

A food runner brought the appetizer, followed within seconds of another runner with our sushi. This necessitated us moving things around the table to make room for everything. I hoped the Lo Mein would not show up for a few minutes as we were dealing with a pretty crowded table. Turns out I didn't need to worry. The Lo Mein would arrive later. Much, much later. Steven stopped by to see how we liked everything and I pointed out that we were still waiting on our noodles. He rushed off to the kitchen and came back several minutes later, saying that they were just finishing up.

15 minutes later, nothing. I finally got his attention. He came over asked if I needed more tea and should he bring the check. I said yes to the tea and that I would like him to check on our noodles. He looked at our table (like maybe they were delivered and we didn't notice) and headed back to the kitchen. They were finally brought out, not by Steven, but by a runner. As promised, we were given two plates and two dinner forks to divide up the bowl. Ridiculous.

We paid our bill and headed out. What did we think? The sushi was excellent. The other two items were good, not great. I was just expecting to be wowed and I wasn't. Please note, the place is very pretty and looks incredible lit up at night.

I asked my wife as we waited on our bus to MK (BTW, love the new bus station at Disney Springs. There could be a few additional signs directing you to it.) if I was being unreasonable. She felt the same way. Good, not great. If we went back we would stick to sushi.

We arrived at MK and cleared bag check and heard the first clap of thunder. As we came out from the train station, we felt a few drops. We ducked into the shops on the left and walked our way through all the way up to Casey's. There was no rain falling as we walked out on Main St. That is when we saw it.

I had seen photos and read comments, but never really thought it was that big a deal. Seeing it in person changed my mind. It changes the whole image of Cinderella Castle. It is, of course, the dreaded crane. The crane was discussed on our tour later in the week, so I will talk more about it then.

We had a couple of fast passes to use so we headed off. The highlight was to be a night time ride on 7DMT. Our first.
On our way to Splash, we passed Haunted Mansion and the wait time was 20 minutes, so we jumped in line. A wise choice as the skies opened up for a late afternoon shower. I was glad we did this as a good amount of our tour centered on HM and it was nice to have a refresher. About a third of the way through, our buggy stopped. We were right outside the door that rattles with a ghost trying to escape. After a couple of minutes, the lights came on. We received numerous announcements to stay in our seats. A few minutes later, a couple of CM's came running by with flashlights. (I was secretly hoping we would have to be taken off and we get some views behind the scenes). Suddenly the lights went out, we got an announcement that the ride would resume and off we went.

We decided to grab a quick bite to eat at Columbia Harbor House and headed upstairs where we are usually the only ones up there. This night, the place was packed. So much for my hidden gem.

We left CHH and started our walk to 7DMT. As we got between Beast's Castle and Cindy's Castle, the fireworks started. This is not a great spot to view fireworks, but it is an unbelievable place to feel and hear them. While feeling all the percussions might not be everyone's cup of tea, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
We used our FP+ for 7 Dwarfs. As most people have commented, we found it to be a enjoyable ride, but shorter than we anticipated. With our FP+, we walked right on so we did not get to see any of the pre-ride theme. We will need to go back.

As we got off, it sort of hit us what a long day we had had, so we headed out. Overall, a good day

Coming up, Day Two We do something we never thought we would.

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I can't wait to hear what y'all did!

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"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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First off, an omission from Day One.

We had received a message that our room was ready while we were at Morimoto. I looked at it quickly and it said that our room was in the Congress Park section. (as I had requested). We got off the bus at the Congress Park stop, the plan being get into the room and get settled, then i would walk down and get our checked bag from Bell Services. Stepping off the bus, I pulled out my phone to look at the message and it was dead. Oops.
Now when you have been married as long as we have, not all of the communication is verbal. Tired, hot and having been on the go for over 16 hours, she just shook her head and started walking for the Clubhouse. I told her we needed to head this way and prayed that I was correct. If I got us lost again, this would be a very long 7-night stay.
We made it to the Clubhouse, where the CM informed us about our room number and how often the messages get lost, deleted, etc. It was little consolation that there were other jerks in the world with dead phones.
The Bell Captain grabbed our bag and offered to drive us to our room. Once inside we saw that DME had delivered our suitcases. We unpacked, cleaned up and were asleep very quickly.

Day Two We do something we never thought we would

I was up at my usual 6:00am., so I grabbed my iPad and looked at the weather. It was to be the hottest day of the week, even hotter than yesterday. Since I had some time, I went back and looked at the temps from our last visit. The temps 3 years before had been 8-10 degrees cooler than we were looking at this week.We were going to have to make some changes to our touring style. More hydration, more stops, more inside stuff. I decided not to mention the forecast as we headed out.

We usually make one ADR a day. More than that and we feel too restricted in what we want to do. So today we were eating an early lunch at Be Our Guest. We had never eaten here before and the only time i could get was a lunch at 10:50. We did a FastPass of Mickey's Philharmagic before our meal. It is one attraction we have to visit. We both enjoy it and love watching little kids watching it for the first time, reaching out to touch things that aren't there. Sort of reminds me of my college days in the 70's. (But we better move on).

We placed our food order and decided to get a table in the West Wing. It was a perfect spot, quieter than the other two rooms (well, except for the thunder), a great place to talk for a while and also a great spot for people watching. She had the Carved Turkey Sandwich, I had the Roast Beef and we split the Grey Stuff. We were both pleasantly surprised at how good the sandwiches were and how magical the place was. We made a note to try to have dinner there on our next visit.

We took a quick tour of the place and headed out. Our plan was to stay until 6:00, as it was MNSSHP and it would start getting crowded. We would then go back to Disney Springs and figure out something to eat.
We found 20 minute wait times at Jungle, Pirates and Small World. Just to cool off, we went in the Tiki Room. As you know from my other trip reports, she is a bird nut. And there will be more bird stuff to report on later in the week. But I was glad we went (besides the air conditioning)as the Tiki Room would be brought up in our tour the next day.

At about 3:00, she looked at me and said, I want to go back to the resort. Now I know a lot of people suggest afternoon naps or swims or relaxation, but we have never done it. Ever. All those trips with the boys when they were young and we would just go until it was late or the park was closing. Even when Son the Younger was only 4, my wife would find a shaded bench in the afternoon and he would fall asleep for 20-30 minutes and he was good to go.

We started to head out, as she was struggling with heat. As we turned onto Main St the Festival of Fantasy Parade was passing. She stopped to watch and she stayed for the entire thing. We have not watched a parade in 15 years, but both enjoyed this one. All the colors, the music and the energy of the performers, got us to stop and watch. Highly recommended.

We were on the bus back by 4:00 and in our room by 4:30. She apologized for making us leave, but she had become too uncomfortable with the heat. I said, no apology necessary as we are doing this together and if you need to take a break, we will do it.

We went online to try to figure out dinner. Because of the heat, neither of us was hungry enough to sit down to a big meal. So after much discussion, we headed to Artist's Palette. She had the Saratoga Salad and I had the Spicy Italian Beef Sandwich. Both hit the spot and were the perfect amount of food. We bought a couple of yogurt parfaits to have for breakfast tomorrow as we had a very early morning ahead of us.

As we approached the room (it was a little cooler with evening approaching) she suggested visiting Tommy. So it was off to Disney Springs where we watched the sun set next to the Rain Forest Volcano and Tommy kept the Margaritas and the Schofferhoffer flowing. We had an early bedtime as both of us would have to be up at 6:00 tomorrow.

Up Next: Day Three. Michael and the Magical Disney Tour, followed by a Party at Napoli's.

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Enjoying your trip report looking forward to reading more Smile

It was our first time seeing the FOF parade as well, the main thing I noticed was how colourful it was I loved it.

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Day Three. Michael and the Magical Disney Tour, followed by a Party at Napoli's.

The alarm went off at 6:00am. (I thought this was vacation). We made a cup of coffee, and had our yogurt parfaits as we got dressed and headed out to grab a bus to MK. We wanted to be at the stop at 7:00am. Our room in Congress Park at SSR was two minutes from the bus stop. Arriving at the stop, we checked the monitor and it said an MK bus would arrive in 3 minutes and just like that, it pulled in. This meant we would have a half hour to kill before we started the Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour. We cleared bag check and were asked to go through a metal detector. There was a
K-9 walking around as people arrived. There was definitely a heavier security presence this trip. And for the record, I have absolutely no problem with it. I know somewhere in the world, someone has WDW on a list of targets, so I will gladly let you check me and my stuff so everyone can enjoy.

There was a good crowd lined up outside waiting to get. Most were breakfast people, but our tour group had about 20 and there was also a KTTK Tour heading out as well.

We checked in for the tour at Main Street Theater (more than a dozen trips and I had never seen the place), and were handed a neat name tag to wear (and keep) and a small pouch to hang around our necks that contained the electronics for the tour.

Our guide Michael greeted us and moved us outside to a courtyard where he introduced himself, showed us how to use our earpieces and promised he would keep it to the 3 hours (in case anyone was worried about a FP or an ADR0. He also promised to keep us in the shade as much as he could.

Michael was wonderful. He said he had two big passions, History and Walt, and that two would come together on the tour. While we were near the train station he pointed out Walt's love for trains and why they were so important in his life. A slow stroll up a near-empty Main Street was filled with stories of Walt's youth and how where we were walking tied into Walt's background. We learned the importance of Snow White and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. We learned of Walt's family, his failures, his struggles. We paused at the Partners Statue and learned about the corporation and how it got to where it is today.

We walked towards HM and passed the Tiki Room and were told what an important place it held in Disney History. We heard about Walt's military career and meeting his wife.

At HM we gathered outside and heard background stories of this ride and others. Michael spoke to a CM and the let us get into the ride as a group. Michael said that as we rode he would let half the group go in front of him and half ride behind him. In our Doom Buggy's we had 3 options. We could remove our earpiece if we did not hear Michael's comments. we could lean forward if we just wanted to hear what he was saying on we could lean back with the earpiece in to hear both.

Exiting the ride, he gathered us and said that he had a treat for us. If we promised to be quiet, leave all cameras and phones out of sight and followed his instructions he would show us how the dining room scene is accomplished. With that he took us through an employees only gate and through a door marked Keep Out. I can't spoil it for everyone but I will tell you it was cool to be in there. Very Cool. You could see the Doom Buggys going by overhead.
If any of this stuff interests you, I highly recommend the tour. $49 but there are discounts available.

After a comfort stop Michael began walking/talking our way towards Carousel of Progress. We stopped behind Cinderella Castle and he told us some fascinating stories about the castle. He also discussed the crane that was interfering with the view. There is a lot of work down on the parks after they close. The vast majority of cleaning, maintenance and landscaping are done at night. The room in the castle that is used in give-aways sometimes for people to stay in, has a window that is stain glass so you can't see out, lest little Billy were to look out at night and see a not so magical garbage truck and bulldozer. One thing not allowed to be done at night is crane work. They are required to do it during the day. They were brightening up the roofs of the turrets and hanging Christmas lights.

Two things I know. The crane is ugly and disruptive, and I would love to ride it to the top and see the view of MK for on high.

We reached C of P and Michael again told us that we would be in a theater by ourselves. He would be commenting through out the show. Remove earpiece if you didn't want to hear him, leave it in if you did.

After the show we turned in our electronics and said thanks to Michael. We really enjoyed this tour and would recommend to anyone interested in Walt's History and a background look at some of the attractions.

More to follow

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The Marceline tour is quite good. I think it's funny though how the guide's keep it a "secret" that there is a behind the scenes look at HM. I took the tour mainly for that reason, yet our guide made it out like it wasn't going to happen until he "surprised" us with it.

Interesting too about the comment on the crane at night. When I was there a couple of weeks ago, I sat out on the balcony at BLT around midnight and watched as they were hanging lights on the castle with the crane. Plus there was another crane at the front of MK flying something into place at 1 am. They are getting better at folding it up and out of sight when not in use though. They used to just leave it up all the time.

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Great trip report so far! We went the first week in September back in 2014 and it was just TOO hot for us so I totally feel you. We lost our appetites a ton from the heat exhaustion which was a total bummer because I love to eat. We're planning to do the Marceline to the Magic Kingdom tour on our November 2017 so thanks for all the insider info!

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Day Three Continued

Finishing up the tour, our plans were to head to EPCOT. It was weird being at WDW for 2-1/2 days and not being in EPCOT. It is where we always spend the most time. Walking down Main Street we realized that our 6:00am yogurts had worn off and we were in need of some food. Since our ADR was early (4:30) we wanted something more than a snack but light enough not to interfere with our anticipated meal at Via Napoli. We decided to catch the monorail and get to EPCOT.

Walking in, my wife was 'randomly selected' to go through the metal detector. I bring this up because she was 'randomly selected' later in the week at Studios and at Animal Kingdom. Just a streak of luck, I guess.

I took care of my EPCOT tradition (http://www.wdwforgrownups.com/forum/soon-i-walk-epcot-i) and we headed to find some food. We decided against F&W, as we wanted to approach it in a planned out way (because it was our first time), so we popped into Electric Umbrella. Salad for her, Veggie Naan for me. We grabbed a F&W booklet and walked through World Showcase, highlighting items we would try the next day or two.

We strolled slowly through the Showcase making sure to grab some cool air every once in awhile. I had planned to take advantage of the Chase Lounge to hydrate and cool down, but every time we passed it there was a line standing in the sun waiting to get in. That seemed counterproductive to us, so we went elsewhere. We grabbed some liquid refreshments and continued our walk until we realized it was one minute until our ADR at Via Napoli. We stopped strolling and started dashing to Italy. This was a place we were looking forward to and hoped it would turn out better that our first ADR of the trip.

We were seated in a few minutes and started to work on what we were ordering. Our waitress/waiter took our beverage order (I say that because it seemed like we had 3 people taking care of us, a waiter, a waitress and a trainee). We lingered over our first drink and placed our food our at the same time we ordered another round.
We chose the Mozzarella Caprese to start (very good) and the Piccante Pizza. (Loved it)

While we really enjoyed the food we were struck by the feeling that it wasn't a great place for two to eat. It would a great place for a group, passing slices around, trying different things, clinking glasses. As it was, we felt like we were at a dinner party where we didn't know anyone. Probably just us, but it was an unusual feeling.

SIDENOTE: The title of this day's recap included the phrase 'Party at Napoli's'. While we ate at Via Napoli, this is a local reference to the name Napoli. Unless you are a big baseball fan or from our home area, this may mean nothing to you. If you want to read a neat story about one fan's handwritten sign turning into a rally cry for a team, a marketing gem and a charity fundraiser ($150, 000 and still growing), Google Party at Napoli's.

As we exited Via, we heard the first rumbles of thunder and the sky was getting very dark. We started walking towards the front half of the park, figuring it was a typical late afternoon Florida shower and we would duck into MouseGears until it passed. I took a peek at my phone and saw colors on the radar you don't often see. There were also flash flood advisories for the area. We talked about heading out, but we enjoy donning panchos and sticking around. We also had a 8:00pm FastPass for Frozen and wanted to keep that.
As we passed the electronic Wait Time board, it said Soarin' was 25 minutes. So we moved quickly over there and entered the building to large flashes of lightning and very big raindrops.

The new queue for Soarin' was wonderful. It is done in beautiful blues with soft lighting. The interactive game played on the large screens kept people busy with their phones and the line proceeded more steadily than before as the third theater kept things moving. We would hear rumbles that we thought were part of the movie, but soon realized were thunder. They grew louder and more frequent. We were seated in about 30 and prepared for take-off.
We both enjoyed the new video. It was well done (OK, a couple of the effects are a little cheesy) and a big improvement over the old one. Lots of applause broke out when we landed.

We headed up the escalator to the exit past lots of people entering with very wet clothing. We stepped outside and it was pouring. Harder than we have ever seen in our frequent trips to Florida. I suggested that we go back downstairs and go on Living with the Land as it was posted as a 10 minute wait. We walked right on and tried to recall the last time we had been on it. When we reached the glassed in areas, you could see how hard it was raining and how much lightning was in the area. You could also see a few leaks as water was pouring in through some of the glass.

As we approached the escalator again, we saw that Soarin' was posted at 20 minutes and got in line. Another check of the radar showed we still had a ways to go before this storm was done. This was the most inaccurate wait time we experienced and I think it was because of the weather, as the building suddenly got very crowded. After about 35 minutes, our feet were dangling again.

As we exited the building it was still raining quite hard. We put on our ponchos and ventured off. (we figured our mickey ponchos are about 18 years old and have been on all of our visits and numerous friends/family visits. Still as good as new). Properly Shrink-wrapped we made our way to the middle of the park. We stopped to decide which way to go. Turn left, go with the flow and head to the exits or turn right, go against the traffic and head to Norway for our FastPass.

We went right, going against the grain of people heading home. Passing Mexico, we arrived at a very deserted Norway, the courtyard outside was empty. Empty but for a solitary Norwegian CM, standing under an umbrella. As we approached, I heard my wife say, 'this can't be good news'. The ride was down and would not be back up before park close. We looked at each other and laughed. We laughed because that's about all you can do at a situation like this and laughed because we were wearing ponchos and everyone looks funny in ponchos.

We decided to head for home.

Up Next: Day Four. A Super Uber Breakfast

Miss Mikki's picture
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Great trip report awesome

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no ticker Sad

Cinema Too's picture
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Day Four A Super Uber Breakfast

If you asked my wife to pick a couple of things she was most looking forward to on the trip, breakfast at Kona would be right at the top of the list. Since we first ate at Kona on our big anniversary trip, this became a must-do. We had such a relaxing meal that morning that we make sure we do it on each visit.

Actually, today was our only 2 ADR day. Breakfast at Kona, dinner at Frontera Cocina. I had called my nephew (he lives an hour away from WDW) to tell him we were in Orlando and he was going to drive up and meet us for dinner.

With great anticipation for our upcoming meal, we left the room right on schedule at 9:00am and headed for the bus stop. We saw an EPCOT bus leaving, a Studios bus loading and a very full bus stop. Judging from all the strollers, we guessed that most were waiting on an MK bus. A quick view of the monitor showed the next MK bus scheduled to arrive in 27 minutes. You could tell the crowd had been there awhile. The time on the monitor changed to 9:29. Congress Park is the 4th stop on the Saratoga Springs route, so if there were this many people at the 3 stops ahead, we probably would not make that bus. The monitor changed to 9:31. Since we had to get to MK, get to the monorail and ride to Poly, we discussed taking the walkway to Disney Springs and grabbing a bus there. I grabbed her hand, started walking and said I have an idea.

We set out for the Clubhouse, with her a little confused (but trusting me) and me getting out my phone and pushing a few buttons. We reached the front of the resort, I looked at my phone and told her that our ride would be there in 3 minutes and we should be at the Poly with time to browse. I told her that I had summoned an Uber.

Now she has seen credit card statements and knows that I use Uber for work on out-of-town business trips. It is very handy for getting a group to and from places in towns we are not familiar with. She, however, wasn't crazy about getting into a strange car, with a stranger driving. Reluctantly (and hungrily) she got in. We had a really nice car and a great driver. He took back roads that the buses don't use and in no time we werenat Poly. We said thanks to our driver, got checked in at Kona and walked around the resort.

10 minutes later our pager went off and we were quickly seated and ingesting coffee. We were back at Kona and we were happy. We told our server we would order in 10 minutes, we just wanted to talk for awhile. My phone went off and it was my receipt from Uber. I asked her to guess how much the ride was. She said $15.00 and was shocked when I showed her my phone and it said $8.32. We settled in for a relaxing breakfast.The conversation was wonderful (talk about work had been banned) and soon we were ordering breakfast. She was going to get Tonga Toast, but decided it may not be a great choice on a hot day. She went with a couple of eggs, bacon and pancakes. I, of course, had the Samoan. I love the Samoan. I also love when people sitting near you see the Samoan for the first time. It is not the prettiest dish, but it is delicious. We were in caffeine-enhanced bliss.

After over an hour at Kona, we headed downstairs to grab a bus to Studios. We chatted with a nice young man who was at the bus stop helping folks get where they needed to be. I am not sure of the title of this position, but we ran into several of them and they were all personable.

We arrived and once again she was 'randomly' asked to go thru the metal detectors. It became a running joke each time it happened. We used our FastPass for Toy Story Mania (she won), saw the Muppets, did GMR, watched Beauty and the Beast, did Toy Story Mania again (25 minute wait, she won again). Then we spent a lot of time inside Walt Disney: One Man's Dream. We are becoming more and more fascinated with the history of Walt and how WDW became what it is.

We suddenly realized we needed to get back and clean up for dinner. Our exit was briefly blocked by Storm Troopers, but soon we were on our way.

Cleaned up, we took the walkway to Disney Springs and soon we were at Frontera Cocina. My nephew showed up on time and we were seated promptly.

I had watched Rick Bayless's cooking show on PBS and always wanted to try his food. He seemed different than other 'celebrity' chefs, maybe because he was less celebrity and more chef. I had been on business trips to Chicago and tried to visit his place, but invariably, some one in the group would nix Mexican and we would end up in some stuffy steakhouse.

We ordered the chips with salsa and it became obvious that this was not going to be a typical Mex meal. The two sauces that came with it were more than the simple 3 or 4 ingredient stuff you usually have. The were multiple flavors and they were balanced yet bold. I had studied the menu and knew exactly what I was ordering, Oaxacan Red Chile Chicken. My wife ordered the Cocina Half Chicken and my nephew ordered the Shrimp Enchiladas Suizas. There were a couple of margaritas and a couple of Mexican beers and a lot of catching up conversation. Mine was cooked in a mole sauce. I like good mole. I love great mole. I cannot describe how good this mole was. I wanted to eat and eat, but I also wanted to savor. My wife loved her dish and it was quite good, but when she tasted mine, she stopped chewing after a few seconds and said "Holy crap, is that good." I finished my meal thinking that here is the excitement missing from our first ADR. Here are flavors, so complex, so forward, but perfectly in tune, that I want to eat there again, and soon.

We walked out of the restaurant and my wife and nephew noticed Sprinkles and went to grab a cupcake.
Confession time. I don't understand the attraction of cupcakes. They seemed to enjoy them, but I set off in search of something better. Gelato. I ordered pistachio (i thought it would be a nice tie-in to the mole) from Vivoli il Gelato. It was good, not great.

We said goodbye to the nephew and made the walk to SSR. We thought about a nightcap with Tommy at Dockside, but decided we were done for the day.

Up Next Day Five: We finally do some Food & Wine

jtownpluto's picture
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You had me at mole sauce! Yum, I'll have to take my husband there in January.