"Real Estate Convention" trip - Complete

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alicemouse's picture
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"Real Estate Convention" trip - Complete

I think I shared a little bit of this story before, but I don't seem to have a trip report listed yet, so here goes. Last February, I attended the annual ERA Real Estate Business Convention trip in Washington, DC and you can imagine my excitement when the Swan & Dolphin were announced as the host resorts for this year's convention--February 29-March 2. Even though it wasn't perfect timing because our DVC use year is March and we were straight up out of points until March 1, 2016, I immediately bought a ticket and started dreaming of a winter trip to the world.

Then in September, the gymnastics director at the gym where I coach announced that we would be attending the Presidential Classic meet at ESPN Wide World of Sports February 12-15. Ok so my trips would be two weeks apart. I'd like to have spread them out a little bit, but what the heck. They're both business trips, right? Oh darn. What a tragedy.

Then in December, we received an email stating that the Real Estate conference was being moved due to a scheduling conflict and would now be held at the end of March instead of the beginning. Well it doesn't take but a minute to look at a calendar and see that the new dates fall during the week after Easter. Well in my original reservation, I had booked two nights at Boardwalk, 4 nights at Beach Club (the first time we've ever gotten in), and a night at AKL (first time there). I had also secured a reservation for dinner at BOG and I had an afternoon tea for Grand Floridian--results that I was unlikely to be able to replicate for times around the new conference dates, so I decided to chuck the conference, request a refund, and turn my original trip into a vacation. Fast forward through several months of tinkering and here's what we're looking at so far:

Day 1 - Take the first Southwest flight on Monday morning, arrive at Boardwalk. I'll probably rent a car--not 100% decided yet. My grand plan to ship the leftover water from this past weekend to myself failed for the next trip failed, so I'd like to be able to get to a grocery store. I'm still trying to convince mom to join me for a few days and she might given that roundtrip airfare is still hovering at $168. If mom comes along, we'll go to Epcot in the afternoon since she missed out on World Showcase when mom & dad came along for my birthday two years ago. I have evening fast passes for 7DMT, PPF, and Wishes. Benn won't be joining me until Wednesday, but I made FP reservations for him just in case he decided to come down early or if not then I could essentially have double fast passes possibly along as I took one of his activated MagicBands along. I'm hoping that I can use them for mom (if she decides to go) even though Benn's AP isn't activated yet. I don't think that the admission and FP databases are linked in a way that they can determine if the person with the FP reservation has to be checked into the park for the day. Either way, it will be an interesting experiment.

Day 2 - Tuesday we'll go to DHS and I have FP for Star Tours, TSM, and VLM. Mom won't be able to ride Star Tours, so I might just skip it or switch to GMR if she comes along.

Day 3 - Wednesday is currently slated for Animal Kingdom. I'm thinking about doing the Boardwalk Ballyhoo tour that day, but right now my FP selections are starting at 9:30, so I may have to make some adjustments here. I have a FoLK and Safaris FP. I also have a Primeval Whirl, but I'm sure that mom would just wait for me to be done. Spinning is an epileptic trigger for her, so we have to be careful. I really hope that she'll go with me!! I move to Beach Club that day. Mom would be going home on DME around 2:30 based on the flight times that we see currently and Benn will be arriving at Beach Club around 7:00. I have a reservation for us at Cape May Cafe for 8:00. I'm considering dropping it because of the potential for flight delays, but since I could show up regardless, we don't have to worry about the $10 fee--just the fact that if I'm going to eat alone, I'd probably do quick service.

Day 4 - It's an MK day with the same FP selections as Day 1. I find that the "turn left" strategy really works for me witht he new FP selection system. I always want to get to Fantasyland holding three fast passes and I can walk on everything from Jungle Cruise to Haunted Mansion with no more than a 30 minute wait anywhere. I don't really like Space Mountain, so I don't care about having a fast pass for it. This is the day that we have the Tea Room scheduled, though if mom goes with me, I'll try to move it to one of her days and do something different today. We booked the free DVC member bash at Magic Kingdom for this night. I'm soooo excited about it!!

Day 5 - Friday will be Epcot until lunch (Chefs de France) and then Hollywood Studios where we have FP for TSM, Star Tours, and Indiana Jones.

Day 6 - Saturday is Magic Kingdom in the afternoon. Either Thursday or Saturday we want to do the Wilderness Lodge Tour. Fast passes for the day are BTMR, 7DMT, and Space Mountain (apparently I briefly went insane when choosing FPs).

Day 7 - Sunday morning we transfer to AKL. We currently have an ADR at Biergarten, but I might try to switch to Boma. I really enjoyed the tour that we did there in November and given how much I liked Sanaa, I think I'd like to try it. Sunday FPs are Journey into Imagination, Test Track, and Spaceship Earth.

Day 8 - After checkout, we're off to AK for Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, and Primeval Whirl. I'll probably bail on Everest and get an ice cream cone. LOL. Tonight we fly home sad , but that means that we get to start the countdown tot he meet-up cruise!!!

Also unbeknownst to Benn, since we don't depart until Monday and we are too points-poor to stay DVC on both sides of the cruise, I have started pricing out adding on a weekend at Universal prior to embarking on the cruise. That might be his birthday present this year....

I'm sure glad that the conventions canceled. I'm not sure how I would have fit everything in! laugh

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

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

alicemouse's picture
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Oh I forgot--must-do's for this trip:

*Meet Baymax again with Benn
*Meet Kylo Ren again with Benn
*Meet Joy & Sadness (Not there yet as of Monday--supposed to be appearing staring mid-February???)
*Bubble Tea
*Ballyhoo Boardwalk tour and Wilderness Lodge tour
*Symphony in the Stars fireworks
*DVC Member Bash
*Be Our Guest dinner
*Flower & Garden kitchens
*VISA cardmember meet & greets

__________________

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

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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GMR is a tier one attraction so you won't be able to switch Star Tours out for that Sad Otherwise sounds like a great trip! You'll have certainly gotten a good amount of Disney in this month! awesome Can't wait to hear about the DVC bash!

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Allie wrote:
GMR is a tier one attraction so you won't be able to switch Star Tours out for that Sad Otherwise sounds like a great trip! You'll have certainly gotten a good amount of Disney in this month! awesome Can't wait to hear about the DVC bash!

Of course you're right. Can we please open some more attractions at Epcot and DHS so we can get rid of the tiers already?? They're such a pain.

__________________

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

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

Allie's picture
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alicemouse wrote:
Allie wrote:
GMR is a tier one attraction so you won't be able to switch Star Tours out for that Sad Otherwise sounds like a great trip! You'll have certainly gotten a good amount of Disney in this month! awesome Can't wait to hear about the DVC bash!

Of course you're right. Can we please open some more attractions at Epcot and DHS so we can get rid of the tiers already?? They're such a pain.

Amen!

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SO jelly that you're going to the DVC Member bash! I hope it's good and you have tons of fun.

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alicemouse wrote:
Oh I forgot--must-do's for this trip:

*Meet Baymax again with Benn
*Meet Kylo Ren again with Benn
*Meet Joy & Sadness (Not there yet as of Monday--supposed to be appearing staring mid-February???)
*Bubble Tea
*Ballyhoo Boardwalk tour and Wilderness Lodge tour
*Symphony in the Stars fireworks
*DVC Member Bash
*Be Our Guest dinner
*Flower & Garden kitchens
*VISA cardmember meet & greets

The Baymax meet and greet was my favorite one so far. I can't wait to go back and meet him again in October!

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A few updates...

My solo time is no more--mom is a definite yes! We've also added the Marceline to MK tour, which I'm super excited about, and ADR's at The Plaza (with mom) and Sanaa (with Benn). I was able to drop all of Benn's FP's and pick them up for mom.

__________________

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

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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Also I just tried something new for this trip--Prime Pantry. I've looked into Garden Grocer in the past and I understand how this service could be very cost effective if you have a large family that is staying a villa and cooking their own meals, but for two people in a studio or standard room, I've never been able to justify the delivery fee. For us, the better alternative has always been to rent a car. Benn and I together drink about 6 bottles of water per day. On an 8-day trip, that's $144 for water. Since we can rent a car for less than that, we usually rent the car and hit the grocery store so we can pay $0.20 per bottle instead of $3 per bottle.

Since we're in the Epcot Resort area for all but one night this time, the car is really not necessary. So I'm having an Amazon Pantry box delivered to Boardwalk in my name. The delivery fee is $5.99 per box and one box holds 36 bottles of water, a bag of chex mix, a box of granola bars, and a box of cheez-its. You can fill it with anything, but that's all that would fit in my box. So for $22, I get my water and I can cut down on the snacks & breakfast foods that I need to pack in my suitcase. One caveat, as an Amazon Prime member, I'm accustomed to free 2-day shipping. I thought that I didn't need to place my order until Saturday. However, the order that I placed today (Wednesday) isn't guaranteed to arrive until Tuesday. Had I shipped it to my home, it would have been guaranteed to arrive on Monday. I'll report back on when I actually receive the box and if the items arrive intact.

__________________

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

Find me on Facebook

Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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alicemouse wrote:
A few updates...

My solo time is no more--mom is a definite yes! We've also added the Marceline to MK tour, which I'm super excited about, and ADR's at The Plaza (with mom) and Sanaa (with Benn). I was able to drop all of Benn's FP's and pick them up for mom.

Sounds like fun! I've eaten at The Plaza twice now and I must say that it is becoming one of our favourites. The burgers are fantastic!

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JanJ wrote:
alicemouse wrote:
A few updates...

My solo time is no more--mom is a definite yes! We've also added the Marceline to MK tour, which I'm super excited about, and ADR's at The Plaza (with mom) and Sanaa (with Benn). I was able to drop all of Benn's FP's and pick them up for mom.

Sounds like fun! I've eaten at The Plaza twice now and I must say that it is becoming one of our favourites. The burgers are fantastic!

Glad to hear it, Jan. It was a redemption reservation. We've only eaten there once and we were about 5 minutes late because we had to wait 45 minutes for a bus at Coronado Springs and the hostess was actually really rude about seating us "late". It kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. I'm trying to think--is there outdoor seating at The Plaza? I was hoping that we might catch a glimpse of Festival of Fantasy at lunch.

__________________

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

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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alicemouse wrote:
Also I just tried something new for this trip--Prime Pantry. I've looked into Garden Grocer in the past and I understand how this service could be very cost effective if you have a large family that is staying a villa and cooking their own meals, but for two people in a studio or standard room, I've never been able to justify the delivery fee. For us, the better alternative has always been to rent a car. Benn and I together drink about 6 bottles of water per day. On an 8-day trip, that's $144 for water. Since we can rent a car for less than that, we usually rent the car and hit the grocery store so we can pay $0.20 per bottle instead of $3 per bottle.

Since we're in the Epcot Resort area for all but one night this time, the car is really not necessary. So I'm having an Amazon Pantry box delivered to Boardwalk in my name. The delivery fee is $5.99 per box and one box holds 36 bottles of water, a bag of chex mix, a box of granola bars, and a box of cheez-its. You can fill it with anything, but that's all that would fit in my box. So for $22, I get my water and I can cut down on the snacks & breakfast foods that I need to pack in my suitcase. One caveat, as an Amazon Prime member, I'm accustomed to free 2-day shipping. I thought that I didn't need to place my order until Saturday. However, the order that I placed today (Wednesday) isn't guaranteed to arrive until Tuesday. Had I shipped it to my home, it would have been guaranteed to arrive on Monday. I'll report back on when I actually receive the box and if the items arrive intact.

Great idea! Let us know how that works out for you!

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We've returned home!! We had a really cool trip with a lot of new activities for us or at least new activities for Benn. I had an awesome time with my mom for the first few days. It was weird--at 8 days, this was a mid-length trip for me, but it actually seemed really long. Our long trips are usually 10-11 days and our short trips are 4-5 days. I think that for me, park hopping and split stays tend to make our vacation feel longer because the activity is more broken up--almost like it's multiple vacations set to express mode. I really expected to feel the opposite way about split stays the first time we tried one. I thought I would waste a lot of time moving from place to place, but it turns out that I really like the variety!

A few trip highlights that will be coming up in the trip report: The resolution to the AmazonPantry box idea; Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour; DVC member party; dining reviews of The Plaza, Cape May Cafe, Gardenview Tea Room, Chefs de France, Be Our Guest dinner, and Boma; Lodging reviews of Boardwalk, Beach Club, and AKL; Food & Garden Festival report; new character meet & greets; and more!

But first, there's a bit of work to catch up on...Be back soon!

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

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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Looking forward to your TR Smile

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alicemouse wrote:

A few trip highlights that will be coming up in the trip report: The resolution to the AmazonPantry box idea; Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour; dining reviews of The Plaza, Cape May Cafe, Gardenview Tea Room, Chefs de France, Be Our Guest dinner, and Boma; Lodging reviews of Boardwalk, Beach Club, and AKL; Food & Garden Festival report; new character meet & greets; and more!

If you want to do any of these for the blog - let me know! I've got open guest spots for Guest reviews muchlove

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Can't wait! I heard there were some pretty awesome meet and greets at the DVC event! clapping

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Kristen K. wrote:
alicemouse wrote:

A few trip highlights that will be coming up in the trip report: The resolution to the AmazonPantry box idea; Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour; dining reviews of The Plaza, Cape May Cafe, Gardenview Tea Room, Chefs de France, Be Our Guest dinner, and Boma; Lodging reviews of Boardwalk, Beach Club, and AKL; Food & Garden Festival report; new character meet & greets; and more!

If you want to do any of these for the blog - let me know! I've got open guest spots for Guest reviews muchlove

Sounds good--I don't remember which ones have been done the most recently, so let me know which ones you need. Even if I didn't hit them this trip, it might be something that I've done in the past year. In addition to the location above, I could do SSR & All-Star Sports. For restaurants, Flying Fish (not much point at the moment), Fultons, Ohana dinner, Olivia's, Sanaa, Coral Reef, Skipper Canteen, Spice Road Table, and Beaches & Cream. For tours, we've also done Keys to the Kingdom, Undiscovered Future World, Behind the Seeds, and Walk in Walt's Footsteps at DL. We've done with Wonders of Wilderness Lodge Tour and the Culinary tour at Jiko/Boma.

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

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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awesome I'll send you an email!

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Ok here we go....

Day 1 - Monday, February 29 (8.03 miles)

Early, early morning, but we were going to Disney, so who cares! The drive was quick and uneventful. Benn was such a good sport. Since he works about 20 minutes from the airport, he drove us down at 3:00am and then drove to work and took a nap in the car until he actually had to be there. We were actually at the airport too early because Southwest doesn't open their desk until exactly two hours prior to the first flight. I would love to take my time getting there for these early flights, but we were only arrived 90 minutes early one time and the TSA people were SO SLOW that we almost missed our flight, so now I'm super paranoid about being there 2 hours early. Of course when you're super early, dropping your bag and getting through security are a breeze, so we had to sit in the terminal forever. Also apparently Starbucks doesn't open until 5:00? I was dragging already and it felt like I waited ages to be able to get an iced tea. (It had been a rough 12 days...unpack from/wrap-up February trip, catch up on work, get clients wrapped up so I could travel again, pack up and trip prep again, and head back out. Both trips were completely awesome in very different ways, but I'll actually be glad to have my feet planted on the ground--at home!--for a few months.) The flight was fine. We arrived 20 minutes early. I'm pretty sure that Southwest upped the time estimates for flights so that they could artificially improve their on-time rating. As long as we get there fast and I can spend a minimal amount of time in the plane, I'm happy.

We lucked out with Magical Express. The bus was nearly full when we arrived, so we were off and rolling in less than 10 minutes. Unfortunately, our drop-off order was AoA, Pop, Caribbean Beach, then onto Boardwalk. Hey at least we weren't staying at Beach Club. We'd have been at the very last stop. My previous two stays at Boardwalk have been lackluster, so my expectations were low for our two-night stay. But honestly, other than one incident that we'll talk about in day 2 that was not really within the control of the Boardwalk Cast Members, this was a reasonably pleasant stay. Our room was ready on arrival. We've never been so fortunate at this resort, but that could have something to do with the still ongoing guest room renovations. We were assigned to room 1107, which had a lovely view, but failed to meet my "highest-floor-available-but-please-dear-God-no-matter-what-anything-except-1st-floor" standing request for all reservations. I (very politely) asked the CM at the check-in desk if there was anything at all available on another floor. She told me no, but I have serious doubts as to whether or not that was the truth. Non-1st floor rooms outnumber 1st floor rooms 4:1. We were only staying for two nights. Even with large sections of rooms being closed for renovations, I can't imagine that they literally couldn't put us anywhere else. I could understand if there was some sort of unwritten rule where owners at a DVC resort get preference when it comes to room requests, but if that's the case, I shouldn't keep getting iced out of Congress Park when we stay at SSR.

Like I said, it was a nice room even though from what I could tell it has not made the refurb list yet. It was far away from the front desk and the Boardwalk unless you cut through the pool area, but it was a great location if you wanted to walk to Hollywood Studios a lot. I'm just not a fan of sleeping on the first floor because of the increased risk of bug infestation and robbers. We did have a nice garden view and we could see the buses from our patio. So at least we could look out the door and see what buses were at the stop already and get an idea about which ones might be coming soon. Too bad we couldn't just leave straight from our patio and run tot he bus, but we wouldn't have been able to lock the door behind us. We actually only took one bus from Boardwalk during our entire stay and that was to Animal Kingdom about 30 minutes after we arrived. The rest of the time, we took a cab or the boat. We saw the AK bus from the room and figured that we would never make it. Well, we found a closer exit door in the hallway that led us on a path straight to the bus and we ALMOST made that bus, but it had pulled two feet away from the official stop to the sign, so the driver was not allowed to open the doors for us. The new estimated arrival times for the buses are great, but it is a little bit disheartening to be watching the board and have the arrival time increase by 10 minutes and meanwhile be looking at the WDW app and watching the wait time climb for the attraction that you're trying to get to.

Mom had decided that she actually did want to go to AK (after she told me that she wanted to skip it--thank goodness I got her a park hopper!) So I told her that we would go to AK first when we arrived since we didn't really have plans for MK until our ADR at Plaza at 3:10. She really just wanted to do Kilimanjaro Safaris and I wanted to take her to Festival of the Lion King since it had been closed for the Harambe Theater construction the last time that mom was with me. When we arrived in our room, the wait time for Safari was 25 minutes. By the time we made it to the bus stop, missed the bus, caught the next one, and got to the back of the park, it was 55 minutes. We still had plenty of time, but if we had caught that first bus, we would have saved a total of about 30 minutes, which might have given us time to ride Pirates and Jungle Cruise when we arrived at Magic Kingdom. As a result of our plan change, we missed both. I don't think mom even noticed, but they're two of my favorites! laugh

We got this awesome pic with Pascal!

Ultimately we did get on the Safari and we saw a fair number of animals, but this was my first ever giraffe-less safari. I was kind of bummed. I love giraffes. We did see a lot of hippos out of the water and we saw a ton of elephants. Festival of the Lion King was lovely, but by now, the early morning was wearing on mom and she had to take the opportunity to grab a quick nap. Flights of Wonder is down (they're refurbishing the birds???) and we decided to forego the walking trails in the interest of time. Magic Kingdom time!

I love these BB8 mouse ears. There'll be a story later...

I finally caught a halfway decent picture of the bird. I've been trying for ages!

We lucked out that the bus came very quickly, so we had a fair amount of time to meander on Main Street before lunch. We watched the glass blower make most of a Donald Duck vase, but I really wanted to catch the Dapper Dans and Casey's Corner pianist, so we ducked out before she was finished. I think we caught Mark at the piano. Originally I was thinking that it was Jim, but that must have been a different day because we got a selfie with him an it definitely doesn't look like Jim! We only caught the Dapper Dans for one song. They were roving to entertain all of the people waiting for Festival of Fantasy and the street was very crowded. We checked in a little bit early for our ADR and we were informed that they were running a little bit behind schedule. At first I thought, perfect! We'll request a table outside and we'll be able to catch a little bit of FoF while we have lunch! Incorrect. Turns out that all restaurant seating is inside and the tables are for the ice cream shop. So since we were going to be seated late, I asked if they could maybe push us back long enough to catch part of the parade. They did and we made it all the way to Maleficent before they called our table. Perfect.

Our last experience at the Plaza was in April 2012 and we nearly missed our ADR because of the tremendously poor bus service at Coronado Springs at the time. We waited 45 minutes for a bus and as a result, we were five minutes late for our ADR. The hostess was actually considering whether or not she was going to seat us. That really irritated me. Then the food was just average. Not a place that I was really planning to return to. But on a whim, and knowing that it's one of the less expensive table service restaurants, I decided to give it another try. I'm really glad that I did! Mom and I split a club sandwich and a cheesesteak and we each had a tomato soup. We should have split one sandwich with getting the soup, but everything was delicious! I will definitely choose Plaza as a table service again in the future. At lunch, entrees were $12-15. There are counter service locations where you would spend almost that much for your meal.

Tomato Soup

Cheesesteak

Club Sandwich

After lunch, mom needed to do some non-ride activities for a little while, so we walked through Liberty Square and I pointed out to her the details that I know about. When I told her about the change in pavement color being representative of the open sewers in colonial times, she told me about an island that they had stopped at on a cruise a few years ago where they still had open sewers on the island!!! EWWWW!!! She couldn't remember which one it was. We skipped Haunted Mansion because we were doing Marceline to MK in the morning. We hit It's a Small World and stopped at Castle Couture for some pixie dust. It was time for our BTMR FP. Unfortunately, mom was not a fan. She used to go on the Trailblazer at Hearsheypark with me all the time when I was a kid and even though BTMR is rougher, it's not really any more intense than the Trailblazer. Unfortunately, the combination of too much to eat at lunch and having not been on a roller coaster in about 20 years left mom feeling briefly ill.

So we slowed down a little bit. I took mom to Philharmagic and Enchanted Tales with Belle and she loved both. Next up was our FP for 7DMT. Once again, I really thought that she would like it. It's smoother than BTMR, but but the time we had arrived, it was dark and if you haven't ridden at night yet, it feels about 12x's faster in the dark! Even mom admitted that she probably would have enjoyed this one in daylight if we hadn't eaten a big meal first and if she hadn't tightened the lap bar just a little bit too tight. The photo pass photo did catch her smiling!! We finished up our riding day with PPF, much more mom's speed.

We returned to Main Street and hopped in line for an ice cream cone while we watched the tail end of MSEP. We moved up a little bit from my usual Celebrate/Wishes spot between Casey's Corner and Plaza--closer to the FP fireworks viewing areas. There was an awesome CM, Ben, who was skipping up and down the street and interacting with guests and cast members alike. We were right at the walkway and at the back of the section in front of us, a guy in a suit grabbed Ben and explained that he was going to propose to his girlfriend during the show and asked if he could help him with pictures. Of course Ben agreed and recruited several of his fellow CM's to give him a hand with creating a perimeter in the walkway. It was so super cute! My first Wishes proposal and on Leap Day at that! Of course his girlfriend said yes and I cannily assume that they will live happily ever after.

PSA: Please hold your children on your hip instead of your shoulders. It's impossible to see around them...

Ben the awesome cast member. We stopped to give him a commendation.

The proposal!

After Wishes, I took mom home and she passed out within about 2 minutes of changing into her jammies. It was a great first day and it was only the start of great things to come.

I had to call and add mom to the reservation and the DVC rep pestered me about special celebrations until I finally gave in and told him that is was mom's birthday. A month early, but what the heck!

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

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

danijrod's picture
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Sounds like a great trip! How nice of the Cm's to help with the proposal! Magical!

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danijrod wrote:
Sounds like a great trip! How nice of the Cm's to help with the proposal! Magical!

I hadn't really considered it, but there were a TON of people who got married at WDW on Leap Day, too. We saw a batch of (sometimes park appropriate) wedding attire throughout our trip. There was one gal who I think was wearing her actual wedding dress and getting on 7DMT. Yikes! I think it's a tight fit to wedge myself into that seat. I wouldn't want to be toting along a few extra pounds of dress. confused

__________________

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

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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Day 2 - Tuesday, March 1 (10.11 miles)

It was mom's first and last full day sad , but that meant that Benn was arriving tomorrow. We woke up at 6:00am because we had booked the Marceline to MK tour for this morning and we had been advised that we needed to be AT the park at 7:45. Basically, we had to catch the first bus around 7:00 to guarantee that we would make it. Well, of course as we were watching from the patio, the first bus to arrive was for MK and we weren't quite ready to go yet. We thought that we would PROBABLY make it if we took the next bus, but we definitely didn't want to be late, so we just grabbed a cab to Contemporary and walked to MK. I think it was around $16 for the fare without tip.

It turns out that we would have had plenty of time to wait for the bus because we couldn't even get into the park with our tour reservation until 7:50. Tour check-in has been moved to Town Square Theater (where you enter to go to Tony's), which is really nice. There's more room for people to sit and the ambiance of that building is much better for setting the stage for a tour than the Chamber of Commerce was. I don't remember the old headsets being the kind that looped around your ear. If I had thought far enough ahead, I would have brought my own earbuds. With glasses, I find the over the ear headphone style to be uncomfortable.

Joseph was our tour guide and he is my favorite tour guide at WDW to date. He doesn't top Philip from the Walk in Walt's Footsteps tour, but he was very, very good. He was enthusiastic without being gushy and he had a definite command of the information. Here are the tour highlights. If you'd like to wait and take the tour spoiler-free, skip the rest of the post. I'll start a new post for the rest of Day 2 after the tour info.

* Joseph paralleled the instruction that Walt received from his father about how to properly deliver newspapers into Walt's commitment to provide excellent customer service to his guests.

* Walt sold his first drawing (of a horse) to a neighbor at age 8 for $0.50.

* Flora Disney forged Elias's signature to give Walt permission to join the ambulance corps.

* The hearse in front of the Haunted Mansion was used for several movies--mostly westerns. The canopy is not just to shield Disney guests from the rain and sun--a mansion of this sort would have had a canopy to cover the ladies arriving by carriage in the event of rain.

* The first tombstones in the graveyard are a murder mystery. Each tombstone has a picture of the weapon that its owner(?) used on one of the other characters. The last one to die was cousin Maude. Her tombstone references that fact that "her dreams went up in smoke". This is a reference to the fact that ladies in Maude's era soaked their hair in kerosene as a cleaner and that they would use what ever they could find to hold their hair in a bun. Maude unfortunately chose matchsticks...and inadvertently burned herself up! If you walk around to the back of the statue, you'll see the matchsticks in Maude's hair!! Benn and I tried to figure out the series of events later in the week. Here are the tombstones. Can you put the sequence together?

* One tombstone that I hadn't put together with Disney history before was Francis Xavier. Francis Xavier Atencio is the proper name for X. Atencio, who wrote Yo Ho, Yo Ho and Grim Grinning Ghosts. Speaking of which, I also hadn't noticed that the instruments on the wall actually play Grim Grinning Ghosts if you play them properly.

* The tombstone for Harriet was for Harriet Burns, the first women to be hired as an Imagineer on Walt Disney's team. She was in charge of building a lot of the original concept models for attractions including Sleeping Beauty Castle, Pirates of the Caribbean, and of course, the Haunter Mansion. She also solved the problem of how to make the Tiki Birds appear realistic. She noted the texture of a sweater that Walt Disney was wearing one day--cashmere--and thought it just the right covering for the birds. So the Tiki birds are the best dressed characters in all of WDW.

* Of course co-creator Marc Davis has a Haunted Mansion tombstone, but Joseph told us an interesting story about how Marc Davis became an Imagineer. Walt Disney sent him to Disneyland to spend the day walking around. At the end of the day, Walt asked him what he thought of the park. Marc told him that there was animatronic that was shaking its head yes and one that was shaking it's head no on the same attraction. He said that they should be moved right beside each other because that's much funnier. That was the interview process. Walt hired him on the spot.

* "Our Dear Departed Brother Roland" is Imagineer Rolly Crump who was in charge of gathering ideas for "the Museum of the Weird", which eventually became the haunted Mansion. Some of Rolly's ideas like the monster clock actually made it into the final product. This isn't from the tour, but I'm a big fan of Rolly Crump and his first job at Walt Disney Studios was animating the spots on the dogs in 101 Dalmatians. I feel like anyone who can make it through that job without cracking up deserves a medal. On the same wall, a tribute to Master Frees--Paul Frees is the voice of the Ghost Host.

* A few notes about the mansion in general - there were originally 8 speakers in the stretching room. There are now over 100. The wallpaper has 218 of moving eyes throughout the ride. There are monster faces on the trim on the doorways inside. The library scene is a painted flat except for the books at the very top of the ladder that move! Check it out the next time you ride. It's amazing. You'd never be able to tell if someone didn't point it out to you. The scene with the upside down stairs was inspired by the Sarah Winchester Mansion in San Jose, CA. It's a bizarre building project undertaken by a wealthy widow who had basically unlimited income. The house has stairways that lead nowhere and was the site of construction for the sake of construction. When you "fall out the window" after the attic scene, the exterior mansion that you see is the DL version of the mansion because during construction of HM at DL, they built two identical sets of everything. The sconces when you exit the ride vehicle are arms.

* Backstage at Haunted Mansion: The Pepper's Ghost effect in the Ballroom scene. We got to go backstage (or really, under the stage) at HM to see the Pepper's Ghost effect. I've heard it explained before, but I didn't really get it. It's so simple once you see it in action. The panes of glass that you look through on the ride at 35' tall. The roof on HM is actually retractable because there's no other way to replace the glass. There is a spare pane hidden in a compartment inside the attraction, but that compartment has not been opened since 1971 and no one has any idea if the glass is even intact. There are black plywood sets of ever piece of furniture in the ballroom to properly block the light so that the "ghosts" behave properly amongst the furniture. Every morning, the candle blowing-out effect and the rocking chair have to be re-synchronized. Aside from the Presidents at HoP, there are only 7 faces for all of the animatronic people that we see. Grandma and Caesar's ghost have the same face in the ballroom. The person blowing out candles at HM has the same face as the whistling jailbird at the end of PotC.

* There is no signage between Liberty Square and Fantasyland, but there is a definite division to be sure. Just across the line, you see hoof prints appear. One set of hoof prints is even stamped with the name Maximus and they lead right up to Rapunzel's Tower.

* The mosaics in Cinderella Castle are much more incredible than I realized. The mosaics were designed by Dorothea Redmond and created by a hobbyist, not a professional mosaicist. He took measurements and created the mosaics in 2'x2' squares. He covered them with black felt and shipped them to the Imagineers with specific instructions for where to place each one. Only when the ENTIRE wall was assembled did the Imagineers peel off the black felt. And the gorgeous result is what we have today. All of the gold that you see in the mosaic is 18K gold leaf and all of the silver that you see is real sterling silver. Herb Ryman and John Hench have their faces immortalized in the mosaic because Herb drew the first concept art of the castle and John did the first technical drawings. The mosaic is the only signed work at MK.

Herb Ryman and John Hench

* We also red Winnie the Pooh and while I'm not a huge fan of this ride, I did like Joseph's explanation that the ride was designed the way that Walt would have read a bedtime story to his children.

* Our last ride was CoP. We got to have an entire theater to ourselves, which was really cool because Joseph actually encouraged us to take pictures of the attraction and I feel like you're not supposed to do that normally. I didn't even realize that John's voice changes from the first three scenes to the last one. The first three scenes are now narrated by Jean Shepherd from "A Christmas Story" and the last scene is still narrated by Rex Allen, who passed away in 1999. Even though GE sponsored the pavilion, there are no GE logos in the first scene because GE hadn't been founded yet. Rover is the the same dog from Pirates and the fur on both dogs is modeled after another of Walt's sweaters. (It seems that if Walt hadn't been a fan of wearing sweaters, the Imagineers might never have had any ideas!) There is a note pinned to the bulletin board in the last scene that says, "Marty called. Wants changes." The note is a shout out to Marty Sklar. The line to see Carousel of Progress at the World's Fair was 3 hours long!

You can't see the robins in this picture very well, but they are the robins that were made for "Spoonful of Sugar" in Mary Poppins!!

It was a really excellent tour, especially for the price. I think the regular price is $32. I think with the DVC/AP/Disney Visa card discount, I paid around $26. There's no pin and lunch isn't included, but you do still get a free bottle of water and you get to go backstage and learn interesting little tidbits. Keys to the Kingdom is a more robust tour by far, but it's considerably longer and more expensive. Honestly the title of this tour doesn't make a ton of sense to me because other than the link between customer service in Marceline and customer service in the parks and maybe a little bit in Carousel of Progress, there is virtually no link made between Marceline and the Magic Kingdom through the duration of the tour. Still it's a cool tour.

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

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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alicemouse wrote:
danijrod wrote:
Sounds like a great trip! How nice of the Cm's to help with the proposal! Magical!

I hadn't really considered it, but there were a TON of people who got married at WDW on Leap Day, too. We saw a batch of (sometimes park appropriate) wedding attire throughout our trip. There was one gal who I think was wearing her actual wedding dress and getting on 7DMT. Yikes! I think it's a tight fit to wedge myself into that seat. I wouldn't want to be toting along a few extra pounds of dress. confused

Dear me! I can't see that being comfortable at all!! I struggled to get in the wedding car with my dress never mind a cart! I bet that was a sight to see.

I have really enjoyed reading the breakdown and information from the tour i especially liked the bits about the mosaics coming separately Smile looking forwarded to reading more from your trip :_

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The tour sounds great! Think I will put it on my list for 2017!

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LOVE that fact about the murder mystery on those Haunted Mansion epitaphs! And the part about the mosaic was amazing. Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks, everyone!

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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Day 2 - Tuesday, March 1 (part 2)

After the tour, which conveniently ended right at CoP, we grabbed a cream cheese pretzel and a ham & cheese pretzel. I love the cream cheese pretzels, but this was a first for the ham & cheese. I think it's slightly overpriced for the amount of food, but it sure was tasty! It reminded me a little bit of the savory pretzel twists from the Fantasyland pretzel cart at Disneyland that Benn and I enjoyed so much.

After lunch, we needed to swing by the Emporium quickly because mom wanted to pick up a shirt and an Imagineering DVD for dad for his birthday tomorrow. On the way, we stopped at the restrooms by Casey's corner and I met Curlie, the restroom attendant who must have been super old school Disney. I'm telling you that restroom was so clean you could have eaten off the floor. And she was smiling and greeting people (somehow completely not awkwardly even though she was speaking to people in a public restroom). We stopped and gave her a commendation, too.

At the emporium, I picked up one of the Stitch jersey shirts that I had seen at All-Star Sports on the last trip and we made our exit to Hollywood Studios where we were holding fast passes for today. On the way to DHS, I decided to put on my Stitch shirt over my existing shirt just because I was so excited that I couldn't wait to wear it, only to discover that the seam was ripped out of the one side! Mom had found the video that she wanted for dad, but had not found a shirt that she liked, so first stop at DHS was to exchange my shirt and pick out one for dad. We found a nice shirt for dad and I'm pleased to report that it was no trouble at all to exchange my shirt at a different Disney shop in a different Disney park than the one where I had purchased it. I'd never tried to do this before, so I was happy that there wasn't some silly full about having to exchange it at the same place or some other brand of ridiculousness. I also spotted a Baymax and Hero pin set, so that was an easy purchase decision.

Our first fast pass was for the Frozen Sing-a-Long and we were about 10 minutes late getting into the park to use it. No biggie. I knew that it was kind of a long shot that we'd make it, but there wasn't another FP that we wanted and mom's priority was to spend more time at Epcot, so no biggie. Unfortunately, that meant that we ended up having some extra time to kill before our next FP. We grabbed a photo pass picture and then basically just wandered around for awhile. Our next FP was for Little Mermaid and mom was tiring out a bit, so she took the opportunity to grab a power nap. It's so cool and dark in there that I think I nodded off, myself, for a few minutes. I was at least awake enough to snap a picture of two. Don't worry, no flash.

We stopped by the shell of what was formerly One Man's Dream. This is a bit of a sore spot for me. I think it's so important to have an educational exhibit where people can learn about Walt Disney and they just keep plucking away at it. I don't care if they move it elsewhere or change it or upgrade it, but stripping it the way that they are is disgraceful. The replica of Walt's office was removed months ago and since the weeks leading up to The Average Dinosaur, that beautiful biographical film narrated by Julie Andrews has been pulled. Until the day we left, it was a Zootopia preview. I'm so irritated by it that I haven't even gone to see Zootopia. (I also dislike the style of the animation, so we'll see. I'll probably eventually break down and go, but I'm still mad about it right now, so I'm going to continue throwing a temper tantrum for the time being.)

I was probably still miffed about One Man's Dream because I had an awful round on Toy Story. Just kidding--the 3-D wasn't quite matched up ad I had some weird halo effect on some of the screens. Also, my hand cramped up a little bit at the end. I still won the car, but only with a 159K. My goal this trip was to break 200K. We'll have to see what happens the rest of the week...

I was hoping to catch a little bit of Citizens of Hollywood on the way out. Ordinarily I would have hung around for awhile, but mom has at least experienced Citizen of Hollywood on a previous trip, so a quick stop at Boardwalk to pick up our Amazon PrimePantry box that had been delivered that morning and we'd be off to Epcot!

Here enters my "bad Boardwalk thing" for this trip. I'm telling you, whenever I stay there, SOMETHING happens. At least this time, the Cast Members and their ability to provide great service were in no way responsible. I had asked several times where I should pick up a shipment because the first two responses that I received were not the same. The consensus seemed to be that all packages arrived at the business center. Ok, no problem. I went to the business center to request my box and the man at the counter said. "that will be $10." I said you must be mistaken. I already paid for the items and for the shipping charge and I just need to pick up my box. "Oh, no. We're a 3rd party contractor and we charge a $10 handling fee for all packages because this resort has a business center." WHAT?!?!!?!?!? I'm a regular vacation guest, not a business customer. I'm neither attending nor running a conference, nor am I conducting any business onsite. Benn had sent me a box of macaroons for Valentine's Day two weeks earlier when I was staying at All-Star Sports. There was no pick-up fee, no ridiculous handling charge garbage. I came home from the parks one night and there was a cute little box filled with delicious cookies that had been delivered directly to my room. So I should expect to receive better service on package delivery when I'm staying at a $118/night at a Value resort than when I'm staying at a $408/night deluxe resort? I feel like one of the things that can be included in that $290/night premium along with a slightly larger room, a balcony, and better location is to have at least EQUAL package delivery service that of a value resort. At least since I had to pay the $10, he did deliver it to my room--but I had to ask him to do that. It's not part of the service and you have to be present in your room to accept the package.

So I did some research (you know, since I had ordered the box purely in the interest of "science" silly ). The policy is each resort that has a business center does in fact charge for package handling if you ship something to a resort. SO, if you're staying at Boardwalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Coronado Springs, Contemporary, or Grand Floridian, be prepared to pay $5-10 extra dollars based on the weight of the package--not to exceed 70 lbs--and possibly have to pick up the package yourself from their business center. Apparently the policy at ALL other resorts is to ship the package to the front desk. You might still have to pick it up, but to the best of my knowledge (and to the best of the Cast Member with whom I spoke's knowledge), there is no handling fee. It's not the $10. It's the disparity in included services among resorts and the lack of disclosure about the fee--even the first Cast Member that I spoke to said something to the effect of, "that can't be right" when I questioned what the deal was with this fee. Of course I have since done further research and the fee is disclosed on the resort's website under the amenities tab , but there is no mention of any fee on the Mail Services page, which was where I had looked to find out if I could do this:

Receiving Mail
Guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort hotels can receive mail during their stay. Occasionally, some Guests choose to ship items in advance of their vacation to help save luggage space.
If you intend to receive mail during your vacation, be sure the receiving letter or package:
Includes the mailing address of the Disney Resort Hotel
Clearly features the word "Guest" on the front and the date of the recipient's arrival at the hotel

In total, even if it costs $10 extra dollars to claim my own stuff, the Amazon PrimePantry box is marvelous. Just to experiment, I threw in a bag of Chex mix, a box of cheeze-its, and a box of granola bars to see if the box would be packaged sufficiently so as not to break the more fragile items. I'm pleased to announce that 36 bottles of water and all snacks arrived damage-free in the same box. Another item of note. I ordered my box too late. It seems to take a day longer to get the box to WDW than it would have to get it to my house. The box can arrive up to 3 days ahead of your physical arrival onsite and delivery took just shy of 1 week. With only being at Boardwalk for 2 nights, transferring the contents of the box to Beach Club was a matter that I hadn't considered. We still had 30 bottles of water at that point and Benn was bringing a spare suitcase, but he wouldn't arrive until after I had to check-out at Boardwalk. I could have had Bell Services transfer at least the water for me, but I didn't have a way to secure the water (note to self: bring tape) and I would have had to carry the box to the very-far-away lobby. Instead I was able to squish and smash enough items to get all of the water in my bag and then I could roll the bag to Beach Club. Technically I could have still had Bell Services transfer the bag, but I thought that I might decide to swim on check-in day and I was informed that it could be 4:00 before my bags were delivered to BC, so I just walked them over myself. The moral of the story is that I still saved $2.35/bottle or nearly $85 total even with the extra fee versus buying those 36 bottles of water on property. Packing water in your checked bag is still the least expensive way, but you can't fit very much in before you hit the weight limit. I think the best way is probably to send a second bag checked bag full of just water when flying Southwest since the second bag flies free, but PrimePantry is going to be a really good solution for the meet up this fall since I can order it before we leave for the cruise and it will be waiting at the resort when we arrive.

Ok enough about that--on to Epcot. We saw Cinderella on the way into the park. I really like these new "pop-up" meet & greets. We decided on Les Halles in France for "dinner". Mom had Quiche...Florentine maybe? and I had Fromages...on bread? Basically, pizza. I'm a Spanish gal and other than a bit or two that I've picked up here and there, I don't speak, understand, or remember French words so well. Both were good. I think I like the apple and brie sandwich and the croque mos.. ham & cheese sandwich better. We proceed in an orderly fashion around the World Showcase. Mom had never been back into these pavilions because dad is just so not a multicultural sort of guy and this was her first trip to Epcot ever without dad. Mom finds other cultures interesting and she likes to experience new things, so she actually got to meander through the pavilions without pressure to hurry through World Showcase and she had a blast! We noticed that most of the topiaries were out in advance of the Flower & Garden Festival starting the next day.

In Morocco, I saw a scarf and I was struck by an idea. My mother-in-law is getting remarried in April to a man whose heritage is Chinese. Out of respect for his family's culture, she wants to accent her wedding dress with a red sash and she wants read shoes to match. Well apparently, the appropriate shade of red is not a color that is "in" at the moment and we were having a TERRIBLE time finding an off-the-shelf product that would pay homage to my soon-to-be father-in-law's culture but would still be suitable with her dress. So mom and I went on a scavenger hunt. Everything in Morocco was too multi-colored and wasn't a compatible fabric. In Japan, we didn't find anything that would work, but we did stop to buy some Hi Chew and listen to the drummers. Italy, no scarf. I didn't really expect to find it in Germany. Then of course we got to China, where you would expect to find just the right thing and sure enough! We found a solid red scarf and red shoes with gold embroidered flowers on them that I THINK are her size. She'll be at our house next weekend for Easter and I've got my fingers crossed that they'll fit. I'm so excited for her to see everything. I think it's going to come together perfectly!! To celebrate our find, I tried a bubble tea. I was a little bit nervous because I'm not a huge peach fan and I don't particularly care for tapioca pudding, so the tapioca pearls weren't something that i was particularly excited about, but WOW was it ever delicious! That will definitely be a new go-to treat for me in China. We also caught the Jeweled Dragon acrobats. I think I liked the old routine with the tumbling through hoops slightly better, but this one is really cool, too. The chair balancing guy outs the guy who does Serveur Amusant in France to shame.

Bubble Tea!

Scarf

Shoes

Moving on to Norway, mom was ready to find some dessert, so we opted to try the famous School Bread. Sorry guys, not my cup of tea. If reminds me of a stale donut and I'm so not a donut fan. I'll stick to my churros and caramel apples. We rounded out that side of World Showcase with Gran Fiesta Tour Mexican It's a Small World, which we both thoroughly enjoyed. I asked mom what she thought about trying Test Track and we walked over to take a look at it. She said it sounded fast and she didn't think that she was up for it. So we walked over to the other side of World Showcase and walked around in Canada for awhile. I was actually really worried about mom tripping and falling on the stairs. It didn't occur to me before that the lighting is particularly poor at those stairs and mom's night vision is not the best. Also, she's a bit on the clumsy side. Fortunately, she did fine. As we approached the UK, we could hear the sounds of British Revolution playing!! So we stopped to listen to the rest of their set. We were going to stay for IllumiNations, but mom was tired, so popped back over to France to grab an ice cream and then we walked home. We stopped to watch a magician on the Boardwalk. This guy was pretty impressive. He solved a rubics cube blindfolded! It was Super Tuesday, so we watched the election returns for a bit before going to sleep. Not sure why--I turn 35 next month, so I'll be eligible to run and at this point, I think I'm voting for myself.

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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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Curlie is fabulous, we always go and see her and she is true Disney. She remembers us every year. She has something like a 20+ year unblemished record no sick no days off apart from vacation days. Last year she got her blue badge which she is really proud of. This year she is 70 in July and G and I think she is a total star.

I would totally recommend the tour too. Great value and going into the HM is terrific. We were lucky we saw it with the lights on!

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Sally-Ann wrote:
Curlie is fabulous, we always go and see her and she is true Disney. She remembers us every year. She has something like a 20+ year unblemished record no sick no days off apart from vacation days. Last year she got her blue badge which she is really proud of. This year she is 70 in July and G and I think she is a total star.

Yay!! I wasn't sure if I had read her name tag correctly and I wasn't trying to stare her in the chest. I can't believe that she will be 70!!! I would have guessed her for maybe 50.

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

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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Great report so far! I think I may add a tour to July while the kids golf!

I just got Blondie the BB-8 ears for the cruise! She is dressing up as Rey and needs her BB-8!

More more more please! yay

Oh, the red shoes are adorable!!!!!!!! I hope they fit!

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JMed wrote:
Great report so far! I think I may add a tour to July while the kids golf!

I just got Blondie the BB-8 ears for the cruise! She is dressing up as Rey and needs her BB-8!

More more more please! yay

Oh, the red shoes are adorable!!!!!!!! I hope they fit!

Definitely do a tour!! They're so worth it. I hope the shoes fit, too...especially since Benn's mom broke her foot shortly after I bought them. Hopefully it's not a bad break and she's out of whatever sort of cast/boot contraption they gave her in time for the wedding!!

__________________

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

Find me on Facebook

Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.