January 2017 at Saratoga Springs

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crazycatperson's picture
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Our next FastPass was for Festival of the Lion King, hands down our favorite live show in all of WDW. We ended up in the elephant section, not the lion section, darn it. I have no photos because I decided to try making a video instead - something I should do more often if I can just remember that my current phone and camera both have video capability. I was using my phone and ran out of memory just a bit before the end of the tumble monkey acrobatic act. Next time I need to use my camera instead because it has a much greater storage capacity. But the video is still cool, glad I have it. There was one thing different in this show - the blue bird chick must have been out sick because instead of having the aerial act, the singers just sang. The red bird dude did show up during the show but obviously not to do his half of the aerial act.

Our final FastPass was for Kilimanjaro Safari, our first time experiencing it after dark. I'm glad we did it once just to see what it was like, but the safari is much better during the day. Half the time we couldn't even see animals and the other half they were hard to see because it was, you know, dark. The highlight was seeing a lioness stalking around the lion area instead of just napping as they usually do during the day.

The park wouldn't close for nearly another hour, but we decided to head back to Saratoga Springs. Since I never did get that snack I was saving room for at Animal Kingdom, I was getting hungry. Hubby was not; in addition to eating more food at lunch (all but the taste I had of his potjie, about a third of my boerewore sandwich, and the dessert trio), he also purchased a family-size bag of sour candy and ate the whole thing! So after a quick stop in our rooms, I headed out alone to catch the Disney Springs bus and get some dinner.

As I've mentioned, the new Disney Springs bus stop is in the middle of the complex between the two new parking garages. This whole section of DS is either completely new or so remodeled it's almost unrecognizable. If I hadn't eventually happened upon Raglan Road I would've had no idea where I was in relation to what Downtown Disney used to look like. I am not sure whether I like the change. It's a lot more upscale and trendy, and that is so not me; I'm more an Eddie Bauer kind of person (casual clothing store since you Brits might not know what Eddie Bauer is). But the new restaurants intrigue me. D-Luxe Burger and Blaze Pizza are both located not far from the bus stop, so I checked out the burger joint and then decided on pizza based on Robynprincess's recommendation. Good choice! I got original crust with classic sauce, about half as much mozzarella as they usually put on (pizza is about the only time I will eat cheese and even then I'd rather not have a lot of it), sausage, mushrooms, onions, black olives, and banana peppers with a sprinkle of oregano. I got a root beer while I waited for the pizza and then managed to find a seat toward the back. That was one good pizza! Normally I wouldn't eat that much all at once, but I wanted to do a little shopping after and didn't want to have to carry leftovers along.

After dinner I walked around checking out Disney Springs. At World of Disney I found a Disney license plate for the front of hubby's car (we only have rear plates in Pennsylvania); this was something he had wanted for Christmas but I was unable to find anything I thought looked nice. Then I visited the nearby Ghirardelli shop and bought some big bags of chocolate on a buy one get one half off deal, one bag for the cat sitters and one for hubby to take to work. The work bag lasted two days. On my way back to the bus stop I hit all the Pokestops and collected a few Pokemon - just FYI if you don't have a Gyarados, come to WDW, the place is lousy with Magikarp. I should have enough Magikarp candy to evolve one into a Gyarados sometime during our next WDW trip. Anyway, by the time I made it back to Saratoga Springs I had walked over six miles and was exhausted, so took just enough time to write up the day's notes and drink some tea and then it was bedtime.

Next up, our first Magic Kingdom day of this trip.

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Wednesday, February 1 and we're off to the Magic Kingdom. As at Epcot, we had to go through metal detectors to enter the park (we were not required to do so at Animal Kingdom the previous day). We had a lunch reservation at the Skipper Canteen, our first visit to this new restaurant, around 1:00 pm, but we arrived so early we needed a quick snack to tide us over till lunch, so we stopped at Casey's and shared an order of corn dog nuggets. The Move It Shake It dance party/parade arrived in the hub as we were chowing down on corn puppies, so after we'd finished we walked over to catch the end of it. In addition to a few still photos I got a video of the parade as it moved out of the hub at the end of the show. There were a couple of small boys to our right dressed as pirates (and pretty impressive and fearsome pirates they were), so a lot of the performers stopped to talk with or high five the boys. I think their mom was thrilled, as were they.

Our first FastPass was Pirates of the Caribbean, no photos this day, followed by the Jungle Cruise - I thought it would be cool to do the cruise and then go to lunch at the Skipper Canteen. Of course we had time to kill between the two FastPasses, so we checked out the Tiki Room, our first visit there in a while. (We generally agree that the Country Bears, Tiki Room, and Swiss Family Treehouse are good time-killers but not attractions we need to see every trip. There are a few of those in every park.) I did snap a photo just for old time's sake and to remind myself that we actually did it. Then we just sat a bit because we STILL had time to kill before the Jungle Cruise FastPass.

Finally it was time. We got a great skipper this time around, he cracked the usual jokes with gusto, ad libbed a few of his own, and didn't even get peeved when I shouted "Because we're in Africa!" in response to his elephant question.

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Two videos, the Move It Shake It parade and a bit of Festival of the Lion King.

Move It Shake It
https://youtu.be/Q73ywqo3ZsY

Festival of the Lion King
https://youtu.be/BaO8Z45DAl0

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After riding the Jungle Cruise we were early for our lunch reservation at Skipper Canteen but decided to head over anyway and check in since we assumed this new restaurant would be packed. Surprise! It was more than half empty. Frankly, since it is the newest restaurant in the Magic Kingdom I assumed demand to get in would be nearly as high as it still is at Be Our Guest, especially since there is some entertainment value at Skipper Canteen and it is themed after a beloved and iconic Disney attraction. This doth not bode well, methinks. I can't imagine they will close the place after they went to the trouble of building it, but could be the menu will become a lot less interesting in an attempt to appeal to the tastes of children who will only eat burgers, nuggets, and mac & cheese. And that would be a shame since the menu really is interesting and the food is very tasty. This is the first time we've eaten at ANY Magic Kingdom table-service menu because none of the other menus appeal to us in the least.

A couple of photos of the mostly empty dining rooms. We were seated in the second one, that's hubby's back in the plaid shirt. There is also a third dining room that was visible to us from where we were seated, but it would've been difficult to get a photo so I didn't.

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So, the food! Delicious! After consulting with our server, I decided to get two appetizers instead of an entree because the portions are mostly large and I was not that hungry. I decided on an Asian-style noodle salad and South American corn cakes with pork. The salad was good but not great. The corn cakes, called cachapas, were excellent.

Hubby got pot stickers as an appetizer (not pictured) and a berber lamb chop with couscous. I had a potsticker, excellent, and hubby very much enjoyed the lamb.

Again I was going to pass on dessert, but the "quicksand" rice pudding attracted my attention so I went ahead. Hubby got the chocolate cake with caramelized bananas. The rice pudding wasn't bad but I probably wouldn't order it again.

The atmosphere of the restaurant is a lot of fun. The "skippers" crack jokes just as they do on the Jungle Cruise ride, and the theme of the ride is carried over into the restaurant. I highly recommend it. Even if your kids only want nuggets.

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After we had finished lunch hubby decided to head back to our resort for a rest; I made my way through Adventureland and into Frontierland, passing the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean along the way. I wanted to check the standby wait on Splash Mountain since the afternoon was warm enough to get a little wet, but at 30 minutes I decided the wait was too long, especially since we had Splash FastPasses later in the week. I then checked the Haunted Mansion and Peter Pan's Flight, but again, the standby waits were longer than I liked. The Festival of Fantasy parade was an hour away and I could have found curb space if I'd so desired, but I didn't feel like standing around that long so I kept walking. After a quick tour under the sea with the Little Mermaid, I walked through Storybook Circus but didn't do anything, then sat by the teacups for a while playing on my phone for a bit, then got a Coke in Tomorrowland and sat around playing on my phone a bit more.

When I had finished the Coke I headed over to Carousel of Progress. As I listened to the CM give the usual speech about no this, no that, no flash photography, I got the bright idea to video the whole ride! I would do the 1900s scene and the 1940s scene on one ride, then go again to catch the 1920s and whatever decade that last scene is supposed to represent, the purpose behind this method being that I would get all of each scene but in four different segments so I could transfer them to my computer and possibly upload more easily. (I was sitting in the back row, so not in anyone's way.) I got the first and third scenes, no problem, and then you'll recall the ride stopped moving after we rotated into the final scene. I got to see it three times plus. And as the second viewing ended and the ride still wasn't rotating, I decided to video the final scene then and there. So for that one there is no rotation and lots of grumbling from other folks on the ride, plus an announcement in the middle of it all warning people to stay seated.

Finally a CM let us out and gave us all paper FastPasses good on any attraction except Peter Pan's Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to appease us. After a pit stop over in the restrooms behind the Tomorrowland stage, I came back around and discovered, surprise, Carousel of Progress was working again! So I got right back on so I could video the 1920s scene to complete my collection. Also big surprise, that spiel at the beginning with all the no this, no that, no flash photography actually is no video or photography, oops! But I just needed that one last scene so I did it anyway. Don't tell! Now if they ever decide to close that attraction I'll still be able to see it. (This and Small World are my two nostalgic attractions since I first saw both at the 1964/65 New York World's Fair.)

Next up was the People Mover; while in line I checked the Buzz Lightyear standby time, too long, and debated using my paper FP to ride but decided to wait till later. Instead I visited the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor after the People Mover and managed to get a prime center aisle seat but did not get called on to pick a number, bummer. Finally our Peter Pan's Flight FastPass time had arrived, and hubby had not; he decided to stay at Saratoga Springs instead. After Pan I quickly made a fourth FastPass for Winnie the Pooh and then used my paper FP to ride Haunted Mansion first. I was cutting things pretty close if I wanted to see Wishes (and I did), but I managed to finish up with Pooh and get down to the hub in time to snag a decent viewing spot behind and between two tall men with small children on their shoulders. I could see between them fairly well, and each one eventually realized I was there and moved over a few inches so the gap got even bigger. On top of that, one man was standing behind a stroller, so nobody else was able to stand directly in front of him. You tall people won't understand how awesome all this was, but when you are only 4'11" (150 cm) tall, you usually cannot see a freaking thing anywhere you go.

This was Evening Extra Magic Hours night at the Magic Kingdom, and as a resort guest, yay! I got to stay while throngs of other people had to make for the exit. By now I was hungry and since hubby and I had just shared some corn dog nuggets earlier, I decided to get a whole order with fries for my dinner. (I'd forgotten how good Casey's fries are, but I could only finish half of them, the portion is huge.) I got to Casey's right after Wishes ended, so the lines at Casey's were almost nonexistent. I quickly grabbed my food and went outside to find a table. I managed on my second try (a woman scooted past me and took the first table I was heading for). Good thing I went straight to Casey's because in short order both the food lines and the tables were full and the table vultures were circling. A man in a scooter pulled up to an empty table with no chairs (people had taken them to other tables) and grabbed an empty chair from a nearby table for his companion, who I assumed was getting their food. I told him he could have the other chair from my table, but he only needed the one. Then he almost got out of his ECV, perhaps to get napkins and such, but thought better of it and I advised him to stay put because even with the ECV parked there, table vultures would surely have taken over his table.

After dinner I went looking for rides and ended up over at Buzz Lightyear. This time the wait was not at all long, but the CM scanning people's Magic Bands to make sure they were resort guests got on my nerves. There was a small crowd around him, myself included, and he went from man to man to man scanning their bands and asking how many in their party while completely ignoring me. Eventually he started to tell me, "You can go...." then I guess he realized that maybe I was not with one of those men. I said "One" with a little emphasis, he scanned my Magic Band, and had the decency to apologize before letting me in. This is not the first time in a ride queue that a CM, almost always a male CM, has looked right over my head when I'm alone and asked a man behind me how many people were in his party.

Now, I am going to point something out that perhaps will incentivize the Disney people to train their CMs to be less sexist. If I, as a short older woman, were to stick around a park during evening extra magic hours, I would not need to be a Disney resort guest to enjoy any ride I wanted to ride. All I would have to do is find a large enough party that looked enough like me (which would include nearly every group of European descent) and just walk into the ride with them after the CM asked the biggest dude in the group how many people were with him because the CMs don't actually count. Disney people, you wanna do something about that? I am getting just a little sick of being treated as if I am invisible.

After Buzz I mostly walked around playing Pokemon Go. I would've ridden Peter Pan's Flight again if the line weren't half an hour long. I did ride Pirates of the Caribbean again and then checked the Pan wait time on the MDE app - it was shorter - but I was tired and decided to just head back to SSR. It was laundry night anyway.

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A couple more videos from Animal Kingdom.

https://youtu.be/5WXtSmxECck

https://youtu.be/jsnW7-VRg4U

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Really enjoyed reading your report, can't wait to read more. I remember the table vultures well.

I agree with you I don't think it's right that the CM's have looked passed you and straight to the men, something Disney should definitely look into.

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I forgot to mention while writing up our Monday at Epcot that we stopped by Club Cool and asked about the Beverly Challenge, which reportedly awarded you a free slushie or some such treat if you could down six of those little cups full of Beverly. Sadly they no longer do it. Sad because hubby and I would've walked out of there with two free slushies because we both like Beverly.

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Thursday, day 5 of our trip, was our Hollywood Studios day (first of three visits, all involving park hopping), but since we both are of the opinion that there is no good food at DHS (or nothing that appeals to us, at any rate), we started our day at Epcot with a reservation at Tokyo Dining. This was our first time ever there; we did Teppan Edo a few years back, but might never do it again because we both fell in love with Tokyo Dining.

Our reservation was at noon, but we had allotted plenty of time for Disney transportation to get us there, so we arrived a good 20 minutes early. Assuming the restaurant opened at 11, we walked up the stairs only to find the doors still locked. Hubby looked around up on the second level for a bench or something, but there were none, so we stood near the doors that lead into the restaurants. At one point I thought I heard a click, and shortly thereafter we saw other diners enter, so we followed. We checked in at the reception desk and received a pager since we wouldn't be seated until the restaurant opened at noon. Very few lunch patrons had arrived yet, so we easily found a seat in the lobby area overlooking the sushi counter and waited.

Right around noon, much to our surprise, the entire staff of the two restaurants paraded out into the lobby and performed a formal opening ceremony involving much bowing and the lead CM introducing us to the various attractions in the Japan pavilion, gesturing toward Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo as she mentioned them, then toward the door outside to let us know how to get to other sections of the pavilion. Those of you who have been to Japan, is this something they usually do over there? Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool, and have already made another noon lunch reservation for our next trip.

Shortly after the ceremony ended, our pager buzzed and we were seated. Since our ADR was among the first of the day, we got an awesome window seat with a beautiful view of the lagoon. If we could guarantee getting that table in the evening it would be an absolutely perfect place to watch Illuminations.

Our servers (there were two, the main server who did most of the talking and I guess an assistant) were also very formal, more bowing and such, very courteous and helpful and lots of asking if everything met with our satisfaction. And it did, very much so. Hubby ordered a couple of pieces of sushi along with the tonkatsu, a breaded pork cutlet, and I got the bento box, which I loved so much I will get it again next time. It was absolutely perfect - a sample of several different items, and although it was a decent amount of food it was light enough that I didn't feel overly full after I'd finished. The bento box included included salmon, tuna, and shrimp nigiri sushi; two pieces of vegetable maki sushi; tuna poke with salad; steak with asparagus; chicken with cauliflower (one orange and one green); and shrimp and vegetable tempura. After that hubby ordered not one, but two desserts - a cake and a ginger ice cream. I had a taste of each and ended up eating half of his cake. Think I will need to order my own next time.

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After lunch we decided to take the boat over to Hollywood Studios instead of walking. I guess we must've just missed a boat because we had to wait a bit and probably could have walked there faster, but it's not like we weren't getting plenty of exercise - I averaged over 6 miles of walking per day. At DHS we passed through our second metal detectors of the day and then, once inside, stopped for a Photopass photographer since Memory Maker is included with our annual passes.

Our FastPasses were at DHS today; first up was my favorite, Toy Story Midway Mania, and our FP window was open so we headed straight over. Last October the standby line used the original two tracks and the FastPass people headed over to the new third track, but today the setup was reversed, so we got to ride on one of the original two tracks. And I got the kitty first time out! Yay kitty!

On our way back to TSMM we passed a CM touting the famous carrot cake cookie. I told him he was pushing drugs, and he laughed. Hubby had never heard of the carrot cake cookie and decided he wanted to try one (never mind the fact that he'd already had two desserts at lunch). I was under the impression that the carrot cake cookie was now sold at Starring Rolls, so we stopped there only to be told by a CM that they had just closed. Little did we know we were among the last people to see the place before it closed forever. I asked about the carrot cake cookie and was told it actually was sold around the corner at another shop, forget the name but it's on the left as you walk toward Tower of Terror. We made our way over, hubby got his cookie, and then we went back to Starring Rolls to sit in their outdoor eating area since they weren't serving anymore. Hubby loved the cookie and will probably get it many times again; I didn't get one and frankly didn't like the look of it at all. It looks like what we call a whoopie pie here in Pennsylvania, two huge pieces of cake with gobs of frosting in between, and I can't stand gobs of frosting.

Our next FastPasses were still a little ways away so we checked out the new Star Wars Launch Bay, located where the Animation attraction used to be. This was our first time, and I like it, although I assume once Star Wars Land opens all that will get moved. I took a panoramic photo of a large piece of Star Wars art picturing characters from the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy but not from The Force Awakens or Rogue One. I mainly wanted to meet Chewbacca since I am a huge fan. Kylo Ren was also meeting people (no doubt with his mask on since I doubt Adam Driver does meet-and-greets at Hollywood Studios) and amazingly, the wait to meet him was a fair bit longer than the wait to meet Chewie. I mean, Chewie is a freaking legend! Get your priorities straight, people! Anyway, as we waited we saw stormtroopers stomping about acting threatening and I joked with hubby about shouting "Vive la resistance!" but I didn't. Finally it was out turn, and meeting Chewbacca just about made my day. If I had known, back when I saw Star Wars twelve times in the summer of 1977, that someday there would be Star Wars all over WDW I probably would've tried to invent a time machine just so I could get there faster.

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For our next two FastPasses we split up since hubby likes the thrill rides and I can't handle them at all due to motion sickness problems. He did Tower of Terror while I headed over to the Little Mermaid show. FastPasses for that show might be useful when the crowds are high, but on this day it just meant I got to stand around in the holding pen for a really long time.

We met up again after those FastPasses since we once again had a little time to kill until hubby rode Star Tours and I saw the Frozen sing-along. I thought they were both more or less in the same direction; at any rate, they were the last time we visited, but there's no "there" there where the Frozen show used to be held - all that stuff is being demolished to make room for new stuff. I discovered this as we were walking past the theater where the American Idol show used to be held and I saw all the Frozen stuff along with a sign listing show times. So I walked hubby to Star Tours and then, as at the Little Mermaid show, I got to stand around just outside the theater doors for a while. This time at least the FastPass got me a better seat than I would've had on standby.

The Frozen sing-along is much improved by the move to its new location. The stage is larger and they now have one really huge projection screen on which to show scenes from the movie. The set is more elaborate also. And the "royal historians" are funnier. I think some of it was scripted but I know at least a little was ad lib because at one point they kinda lost their s*** when one of them said something the other didn't expect. And the guy had fun ragging on some little kid who shouted out "Puddle" instead of "Happy Snowman" during Olaf's big number.

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Now that our original three FastPasses were used, I pulled out my phone and made a new one for Toy Story Midway Mania! And I got the kitty again! Yay kitty! Then I made a FastPass for the Great Movie Ride, not that we needed it since the crowds had dwindled down to nothing; I guess everyone was doing Fantasmic since there was only one show per night this week. We got a female gangster, which always pleases me. Do they also have cowgirls occasionally? I've never seen one.

As soon as we got past the Great Movie Ride's FastPass Magic Band scanners I used my phone to make yet another FP for Toy Story. Sadly, no kitty this time around, but I couldn't really complain since I'd already gotten two.

Next up we found a spot to watch the Star Wars fireworks/projection show, and of course I loved it. Between Chewie and the show I was in Star Wars geek heaven.

Hubby and I parted ways once the fireworks show was over. He walked over to the Speedway near the Boardwalk to buy some more smokes, then walked to the Boardwalk, caught a bus to Disney Springs, and from there returned to Saratoga Springs. I wanted to get a little dinner and couldn't decide between busing to Disney Springs myself or just heading back to the resort and eating quick service there. Bus stop locations made the decision for me - the Saratoga Springs bus stop was one of the closest to the park entrance and had very few people waiting, whereas the Disney Springs bus was waaaaay out there, so far I didn't know what kind of crowd might be waiting to board a bus (hubby said the line was long when he walked by on his way to the Speedway). Dinner at SSR was an Italian flatbread sandwich and chips; it wasn't bad, but that quick service location doesn't have enough variety for me to want to eat there regularly. Hubby wondered which of us would arrive back at our rooms first, and it was me by a huge margin - I had time to bus over, eat dinner, walk to our building, take a shower, climb into bed, and start writing my notes for the day before he returned.

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I so would have taken the Beverly challenge.

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I'm back. We had a scary few days with a kitty cat who had a complete blockage of his urinary tract. Emergency vet, overnight stay, medications, return trip just to make sure he was okay. He is doing quite well now. Crisis over.

Anyway, on to Friday, Day 7 of our trip.

This was our second visit to Epcot and the Arts Festival. We didn't get a lot of festival food this time around. At the Decadent Delights booth hubby got the deconstructed purple sweet potato pie, which is pretty but I forgot to take a photo. I had a taste and it was all right, but not great. If you don't know sweet potato pie it's sort of a variation on pumpkin/squash pie even though it's made with a totally different type of vegetable. This one had some spices I'm not familiar with in a dish like this. Not bad, just not something I would go out of my way to get.

At Pop Eats I got the shrimp ceviche and hubby got the sous vide venison. We each tasted both and I thought both were pretty good. Hubby got a second beef short rib at Cuisine Classique, and I really should've gotten one of my own at some point because in retrospect it was the best thing I tasted of the festival food. Finally, at Masterpiece Kitchen, I got the smoked salmon tartare with "traditional accompaniments," which I did not realize meant egg. I do not care for egg, hubby does not care for smoked salmon, so between the two of us we finished the whole thing off. The salmon was not as good as the smoked salmon I've had at the Scotland booth during the Food and Wine Festival (which did not come with any eggs).

And this is everything we ate of the festival food this time around. There just wasn't enough stuff that really appealed to me. Instead I got an order of the delicious egg rolls at the Joy of Tea stand (no photo, but you all know what egg rolls look like). Hubby ate about half of one and I ate the rest (two per order). I was still a little hungry and the line for Kringla Bakery was short, so I decided to try the thing so many people rave about - school bread. No, I had never had it before. Yes, it was good, but not something I feel a need to get every time I visit Epcot. Later on, around near the Imagination pavilion, I stopped at the popcorn cart and got some cheese popcorn. (I'm not a fan of cheese in general but I do love cheese popcorn, Cheetos, and nacho cheese Doritos. My cheese must be crunchy.) This was pretty good and I probably will get some of it every time I happen by.

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While we were wandering the World Showcase we also used our second FastPass for Frozen Ever After. We switched sides of the boat so I could get a few photos of stuff on the right side of the boat. For our other two FastPasses we did the Pixar Shorts 3-D movies in the Imagination pavilion's theater (why we were over near the popcorn cart) and the Figment ride, for which we absolutely did not need a FastPass.

I meant to wander through the various countries' shops and displays but somehow forgot to do it, aside from a wander through the UK pavilion, where we found a lovely kitty cat tea cozy. Yes, some of us Americans actually do know how to brew a proper pot of tea. With the loose leaf stuff, not tea bags, and a proper pot. Up till now I've had to wrap my pot in a tea towel but now I can do it right! I will get a photo of the cozy sometime when I brew a pot of tea.

The UK pavilion CM who sold us the tea cozy is named Laura. On a whim I asked if she happened to know Robynprincess and her hubby, since I know Robyn actually has known people who worked there and elsewhere at WDW. Laura did not know them, but we got into a nice conversation and we discovered that she and Robyn live not awfully far from one another. So Laura then gave us lots of tourism advice for when we get over there ourselves. Since we were two days away from going home, we couldn't have the tea cozy sent to our resort. Instead Laura suggested that we have it delivered to parcel pickup at the Epcot entrance.

The next day, when I pulled the tea cozy out of its bag, I discovered Laura had written a nice long note reminding us of the tourism advice and saying hello to Robynprincess and her hubby! I took photos of the note (two pages' worth!) and texted them to Robyn, and less than two weeks later Robyn got to meet Laura herself during her recent WDW visit. But just barely since it was Laura's last day on the job!

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Once we'd done everything we wanted to do at Epcot hubby and I split up; he returned to Saratoga Springs while I caught a bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge. My main reason for going was to leave something for them to give to Robynprincess when she arrived just a few days later, but I also wanted to link two upcoming reservations into a single one (we had to waitlist one day and it had come through). Mission accomplished; we now have only one reservation on My Disney Experience so we know we won't have to change rooms the day after we arrive.

We had FastPasses for Fantasmic that evening. I bussed over from Animal Kingdom Lodge and got a burger from Rosie's All American in the food court near the Fantasmic entrance. It was all right, but Backlot Express has better burgers in my opinion. Hubby was a bit late arriving so our FastPasses were pretty useless; we ended up clear over on the left side of the Fantasmic seating area, which afforded us a view of the show we'd never had before. In the past we've almost always had a choice of two Fantasmic shows and have always gone to the second, meaning the crowds weren't so bad. This time around there was only one show and the crowds were horrid. I didn't see any seat vultures, but I did see people trying to sit on the stairs and getting chased off by CMs. In the mad rush to obtain seating I also got run over by a stroller and got a little pissy with the man responsible. He at least had the decency to apologize after I turned around and glared at him. Am I mistaken, or has the Fantasmic show been updated in the last year or so? There were things I didn't remember from previous visits and things I thought I remembered that weren't there anymore.

After the show we went back to the food court; hubby got the empanada platter from Fairfax Fare. I don't recall his saying anything about the empanadas, but he really liked the beans that came with them. As he ate facing Tower of Terror, I was able to see bits of the Star Wars fireworks through the trees. And then we headed back to our resort to do more laundry and rest up for our final full day.

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Here's the tea cozy. I forgot that I'd taken a photo while we were still in Florida.

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A few photos of our one-bedroom unit at Saratoga Springs.

The entryway from the door and then looking toward the door - entry door on the left, door to lockout studio unit on the right.

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The living room/kitchen area.

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The bathroom is split into two sections, one with a shower and the other with a whirlpool bath. The toilet is in its own little room to the right of the sink in the section that has the shower in it.

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The bedroom.

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Finally, a panoramic photo of the view from our balcony. We were on the third floor with a parking lot view. We usually stay at Saratoga Springs on an RCI exchange of our non-DVC timeshares. Used to be that we could get into Congress Park with a Downtown Disney view on an RCI exchange, but now we get the Paddock with a parking lot view. But we probably will never use DVC points to stay at Saratoga Springs so I guess we'll never get the Disney Springs view again.

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Saturday, Day 8, our last full day. Our day started with a noon lunch reservation at Kona Cafe; travel involved three options: bus to Disney Springs then bus to the Poly; bus to MK and then monorail or boat to Poly; and bus to Epcot and then monorail to TTC and walk or monorail to Poly. As we approached the Congress Park bus stop (although we were staying in the Paddock section the Congress Park bus stop was closest to us), a Disney Springs bus was just leaving, so that option was out. So we waited...and waited....And our ADR time got closer and closer. We'd left sufficient time under normal circumstances, but the bus delays were going to make timing tight for us. At this point even if a Disney Springs bus happened to show up next we would let it pass since the monorail seemed a little more reliable than having to wait on another bus.

An Epcot bus eventually arrived and we boarded. At Epcot we discovered that even though we were just getting on the monorail we still had to go through Epcot security (thankfully the no bag line), which took a few extra minutes as we cleared out our pockets and went through the metal detector. A train arrived quickly enough and we were once again in motion. At the TTC there was a huge crowd heading for the MK/resort monorails so we decided to hoof it over to the Poly and ended up being about 15 minutes late for our reservation. Fortunately Kona Cafe was half empty and we were seated immediately.

This being our last table-service meal for this trip, we went all out. I got the potstickers appetizer and hubby the octopus salad with edamame; I got the pork tacosl and he got the Asian noodle bowl for our main dishes; and we both had creme brulee for dessert. (The creme brulee photo below is from the dessert display since I forgot to take a photo of ours.) Everything was delicious as always, although I think I prefer the fish tacos, which I got on a previous trip. Hubby is a big fan of the Vietnamese soup pho and compared his noodle bowl to that soup. Of course he added the sriracha sauce that came with the soup.

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Hubby had an idea for our last park day - go on a tour of all the roller coasters. Unfortunately he was just a bit late to pull it off; he had a 7 Dwarfs Mine Train FastPass, but MK was very crowded this day and he couldn't get FPs for the other MK coasters that fit into his tight schedule. Still, he could at least ride one coaster per park. So after lunch he headed off to catch a bus to Animal Kingdom to ride Expedition Everest while I went to Magic Kingdom as planned.

Here are photos of the roller coaster tour, both photos he or I took of the rides and PhotoPass photos of him riding. (Somehow we didn't get a PhotoPass photo of him riding Everest on this day.)

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You'll notice from the photos of hubby above and those of me below that we were wearing matching T-shirts. I got them from the James Monroe historic site in Virginia last April. They play with the presidential election since Monroe was elected the USA's fifth president in 1816. His presidency was known as the "era of good feelings," hence the slogan on the T-shirts. I think exactly one person understood what the T-shirts were about, a CM I encountered while boarding a ride who shook my hand and said he agreed completely. Of course not everyone at Magic Kingdom that day was a US citizen and I hardly expect folks from Canada, the UK, and Latin America to know the details of US history.

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While hubby was off tackling roller coasters (and stopping back at Saratoga Springs for a nap), I was touring the Magic Kingdom as planned. It was a good thing we had FastPasses (even if hubby only used his 7 Dwarfs Mine Train FP) because there was going to be very little riding anything without them due to very large crowds. Maybe not Christmas large, but still large. My FastPasses for the day were for Buzz Lightyear, Splash Mountain, and the Little Mermaid, that last one coinciding with hubby's Mine Train FP.

Since we left for home the next day and I needed to pack and such, I never got around to making notes about Saturday. Suffice it to say that the freaking PeopleMover had a half hour wait! So I skipped that. Mostly, again, I wandered around the park hitting Pokestops in between FastPasses. I did have a little fun with the on-ride PhotoPass cameras. Also, that Buzz Lightyear score is better than average for me. I tried to apply some of Robynprincess's Buzz tips to get a better score and while it is not amazing, I was happy with it.

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I also did Monsters Inc. and Carousel of Progress again; of course CoP had no wait at all, but Monsters Inc. had the longest line I've ever seen. But the wait was still a good bit shorter than for a lot of other attractions.

Once I was done meandering and hubby had arrived at MK and done the mine train we met at the DHS bus stop so he could get to his last roller coaster. I quickly checked to see what FastPasses might be available at DHS that I could use while he did Rock'n'Roller Coaster, but DHS must also have had a big crowd because there was very little left. I ended up getting a Muppets FP that I did not need at all - there were maybe two dozen people total to see that show. But it was getting close to DHS closing time and most of the people at DHS were probably crowded into the Fantasmic ampitheater at the time.

This was my first time visiting that section of DHS on this trip and boy, have they ripped it up. I found a little bit of the Streets of America still visible behind a construction barrier and I guess waiting to be torn down. Otherwise, as I think I said before, there's no "there" there anymore. While down in that section I did see the new PizzeRizzo that replaced Pizza Planet, but honestly aside from the name and probably some theming inside (they were closed so I couldn't tell), it looks pretty much the same.

After the Muppets I made my way to the opposite end of the park to catch up with hubby. Unfortunately for me EVERYONE IN THE PARK was rushing to get from Fantasmic to the Star Wars fireworks show. I am talking an unbroken wall of humanity all going in the opposite direction I was, and every one of them so desperate to get to the Star Wars show (which had already started) that not one of them would give one inch to let me pass in the opposite direction. Honestly, if I had stood still they would've just run right over me. So instead, I ran right over one or two of them. Sorry, folks, but this is not a one-way street. One woman shouted, "Excuse me!" at me, but where was I supposed to have gone?

Anyway, I met hubby down near the roller coaster and since the park was close to closing, we were tired, and we had to pack and such, we decided to beat the crowd to the buses and head back to Saratoga Springs.

Sunday morning we had to get out early (early for us at any rate) because the Magical Express was scheduled to pick us up at 10:20. We actually managed to get onto the 9:50 bus and good thing too because we had a huge hold-up getting lunch at the airport and only just reached our gate in time to get in line to board our plane. But from that point on everything went smoothly and we made it home in time to watch the whole Super Bowl.

And that's it for our 2017 winter vacation. For some reason I did not have the Disney blues after this trip and I actually felt ready to go home when we did. Of course it doesn't hurt that we have another trip planned for April!

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Sounds like you had a great time. I love the tea cozy. CATS!!!

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I just bunged your whole trip report. laugh

Sounds like so much fun muchlove