Trip Report The Big Birthday Trip (report)

Discussion in 'Walt Disney World' started by Gemma, May 18, 2016.

  1. Gemma

    Gemma L4: EPCOT Centrists Executive Cabinet

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    We just got back from a wonderful 12 days at WDW and I thought I would share some of our thoughts and experiences for anyone who may be interested/who is in Disney Withdrawal/wants to live vicariously. On the whole we had a great experience and the few (some major) things that weren't peachy were sorted very well by Disney.

    Where we stayed: Beach Club Villas Studio rented via DVC Rental Store (and parents in Boardwalk villas so I will do a little comparison)
    Who we are: Young couple, no kids with 50/60 something y/o parents who joined us for a few days.
    How we travelled: BA from UK and then Magical Express.
    Main thing we learned: We are not the Brickers (apparently we need more sleep!) and any attempt by me to introduce an up early plus evening EMH plan didn't go down well ;)

    After the hell of travelling trans Atlantic in Economy we were super excited to arrive at MCO and after a very speedy (and rare) whizz through immigration (15mins!) we hot footed it to the ME check in, there was a bus waiting and a few people already on board, we sat for about 20 mins (not too bad although I was desperate to leave) and then got going. We had 3 stops and obviously we would be last, we also got "stacked"on the bridge outside the Beach Club waiting for another coach to leave so I was pretty much bouncing with excitement (and annoying Stu, my husband, no end) by the time we disembarked.

    Check in was fine but our Touring Plans fax/adding requests on via DVC had not worked o_O so we got put in a non-refurbished room by an elevator - pretty much the opposite of what I had requested, however, I said just that (nicely!) at check in and after a couple of calls the CM said they could move us to a refurbished room for the next night/rest of the holiday, great! This was actually really handy as it gave me the opportunity to compare the non and refurbished rooms. I know there has been some controversy about the refurb but IMO you don't want to get a non-refurbished room. Our non refurbished room looked 3 star at best and smelled very funky. Had we not already been moving there would have definitely been some complaining. Everything looked tired and grubby. Ick. By comparison the next day when we got our new room (magic band transition worked perfectly) it looked 5 star, the carpets in the hallways were fresh, clean and complete with hidden mickeys :) and the room itself was lovely. Great bed, good space (considering it could sleep 5 there was only just enough storage for us 2 though...) and we like the little kitchen space, plus we could see (and hear!) Symphony in the Stars from our balcony and see the Eiffel Tower/some higher Illuminations fireworks.
    [​IMG]IMG_6007 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr

    As this was our first trip back since our honeymoon we enjoyed a quick drink in the snug bar in the lobby at The Yacht Club (where we stayed on honeymoon) before dinner at Crew's cup Lounge (by this time we were coming up on 24 hours awake so my recollection of the meal is iffy but by all accounts the burgers and fries were great and pretty sure I enjoyed my chicken!).

    Day 1 - Blizzard Beach, Winter Summerland, Epcot and Beaches n Cream

    We generally hit a water park on Day 1 to ease in and as we were surfing at TL later in the hol we picked BB. It was lots of fun and the food at lunch was good (the Harvest Salad with chicken, dried cherries and nuts is great). After a few hours (the UK ticket options makes nipping into the water parks for a few hours possible and we really like this option) Stu and I headed to Winter Summerland the mini golf at BB. This place was great and we had loads of fun, we both love Christmas (obviously as we're not communists) so loved the music and theming plus one game a day was included in our ticket.
    [​IMG]IMG_6015 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr

    That afternoon after dropping the bags off (and getting our bags transferred to our new room) we headed in to Epcot via International Gateway and immediately heard the British Revolution band playing in the UK, they were fantastic, if you can catch them on your next trip then do. We then met up with my parents, wandered World Showcase looking at the topiaries and shared a bottle of prosecco in Italy - great start to a trip! We got in a couple of rides (Spaceship Earth, mine and my dad's favourite, and Test Track) before heading back to Beaches and Cream for dinner. Nobody else agreed with me that this was an acceptable pace for the first day ;), I thought it was great!

    Day 2 - Quick change of plans
    Day 2 should have been surfing at TL early morning followed by Disney Springs. Unfortunately due to the epic storm the night before it turned into an early morning standing outside TL whilst the CM decided if the pool was too cloudy for safe surfing, it was, meh, we switched days to come back later and decided as we were up early we'd head out for breakfast (after changing) and hit the shops - coming from the UK the shopping in the States is epic so our Disney holidays always involve melting the credit cards at malls/outlets at some point.
    [​IMG]IMG_6021 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr

    However, for dinner we still had Raglan Road booked and this was a major hit! Thanks for all the recommendations and for the review Tom. The food was fantastic, we had the appetizer de Liara between 4 and I shared the Braised be Beef with my Mum. We also loved the dancers. So good my dad wanted to go back and he's a hard guy to please with restaurants.

    After dinner we also checked out Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar and were lucky enough to get the little booth in the Diving Bell, pretty cool. We enjoyed our drinks but loved having a look around at all the bits and pieces.

    - Don't want to drone on too long but I will let you know (as briefly as poss) what we did for the other days in a later post/update to this one, including some character dining, Wild Africa Trek, surfing TL (eventually!) and some other restaurant reviews - spoiler alert Brown Derby gets 0 stars....!

    ****Updates in comments below****
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2016
  2. Sydney Herron

    Sydney Herron L4: EPCOT Centrists Executive Cabinet

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    Thanks for the trip report! Looking forwards to reading the rest. :)
     
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  3. mindeola

    mindeola L4: EPCOT Centrists Executive Cabinet

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    Love reading your report so far!
     
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  4. Rose

    Rose L4: EPCOT Centrists Executive Cabinet

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    Following along! Excited to hear about Wild Africa Trek.
     
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  5. wwcpd

    wwcpd L4: EPCOT Centrists Executive Cabinet

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    Love trip reports - everyone should write one! ;)

    Sorry that your Touring Plan room request fax didn't work, but glad to hear it was fairly quickly rectified. I'm also looking forward to hearing about the Wild Africa Trek, specifically if it was worth the $$$.
     
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  6. DisneyDanielle

    DisneyDanielle L2: Member of Big Al's Posse

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    Thanks for sharing! I'm glad to hear that you had such a great trip :) Looking forward to hearing more!!
     
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  7. WxManKyle

    WxManKyle L3: Dreamfinder Presidential Campaigner

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    Looking forward to your next post - following along, as well!
     
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  8. Gemma

    Gemma L4: EPCOT Centrists Executive Cabinet

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    Day 3- Magic Kingdom and Ohana

    Pulling back the curtains in our room on Wednesday morning I was looking forward to seeing the sun splitting the sky, alas a monsoon seemed to be raging outside. Ah. Oh well, on with the (welcome) show! Plus we're Scottish so we've been on beaches in the rain. A little, or a lot, of rain wasn't going to stop us. So off to MK we went with our emergency ponchos donned.

    We caught the welcome show which was wonderful as usual and the rain had turned to a drizzle by then which was a blessing. We went straight to Peter Pan's Flight which was a walk on, followed by the Little Mermaid and Pooh's Honey Pot (also walk ons) before heading to the Crystal Palace for our 0935 breakfast reservation. As this was a 30th b'day trip (which I'd forgotten was on all the bookings) we found our table decorated with Mickey confetti which was so cute and then Pooh Bear arrived just after we were seated. The food was fine and enjoyed by everybody (I love the breakfast lasagna!) but the characters were great even though we were a table of adults. My Dad, who was pretty skeptical about the whole character dining thing, had a great time too. Our waitress also brought me a birthday card signed by the characters and a cupcake which was really kind. May have felt a bit emotional - must be my age ;)

    [​IMG]IMG_6098 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr

    After we left CP the rain came back on with a vengeance but again not to mind and now nobody was mocking my stockpile of ponchos - ha how things change! I should have been charging for them. We headed to the Haunted Mansion, great as usual, and popped into the Christmas shop and Momento Mori which I hadn't seen before. Then it was time for our Splash Mountain fastpass... yeh we passed, nobody wanted to get even wetter and it was pretty chilly by this time. Not chilly enough for us to part with cash for sweaters but close enough to shiver a lot and consider it! Instead we did Big Thunder Mountain which in those conditions actually was a wet ride but loved it nonetheless. We spent the rest of the day trying to keep warm and dry whilst dotting around lands. A highlight was the Enchanted Tikki Room which we got to early and could huddle around the "fire" in the line! I also hadn't been back since the "new management" was removed - what a relief, back to a classic and I loved it. We did some more classics, Jungle Cruise, Space Mountain, Carousel of Progress and People Mover before our FP+ for 7DMT came up. I know the crowd is split on this ride but we really liked it - despite it feeling slightly like being in a laundry machine on a spin cycle due to the elements (we redid it later in the trip in the sun - much better). However, no way would I wait in standby for it, *shudders at the thought*. Once we had done this ride it was 1430 so we caught the bus back to resort for a rest before dinner at Ohana (oh and it was still raining - a lot).

    [​IMG]IMG_6101 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr
    Told you it was raining! Note the sensible people in the background with jeans and sweaters, I had a dress, Stu had shorts and a tshirt. Brrrr. By this point I had also given up caring about trying to keep my hair remotely "done" ;)

    The original evening plan had been to stroll through Epcot, catch the Monorail to TTC and enjoy a walk along the beach to the Poly. Instead we donned another emergency poncho and caught the bus! I thought we were going to the Poly but when we got inside it felt more like being back in the immigration hall at MCO! There were people everywhere and not a smile to be seen! Oh oh. The monsoon outside meant nobody was wandering whilst waiting for their table and the Tambu lounge had two servers for the roughly 5000 people waiting. Unpleasant didn't describe it. Unfortunately the evening didn't get a lot better (and this was stressful for me and Stu given how much we had raved about Ohana and how much I was looking forward to taking my parents there). Two out of three servers we had just could not be bothered - felt really bad for the third who was obviously straining to pick up their slack. The food was still good but the noise and the stress just kind of killed the evening. Bit of an anti climax but it didn't (pardon the pun) dampen our spirits- it had still been a great day and a rainy day at WDW is better than a dry day anywhere else huh?!

    Day 4 - Stormalong Bay and Illuminations

    For the sake of brevity - this was great! Good to chill and fireworks fantastic as per usual!

    Day 5 - Morning - Wild Africa Trek

    [​IMG]Wild Africa Trek 001 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr

    As my parents had a hire car we drove to AK for our 0800 WAT slot. We were met by two WAT CMs who were lovely. We then headed through the empty park to Africa (it was great to see Africa without the crowds and be able to see all the details). Once at the check in we signed waivers (naturally!) and were given our vests, water bottles (which you get to keep by the way) and put anything loose (inc magic bands and buttons) into lockers. Everybody also gets weighed(!), nobody in our group looked close to the weight limit but I guess it's easier to do than picking on people. We started off on a proper trail, stepping over roots and zig zagging through trees, we saw some zebra including a young baby, very cute and then went straight to the hippos - which is what I was most looking forward to. Here we met one of the hippo keepers who told us a lot about Henry and Hans (great name!) who are a father and son pair. One of the best things about WAT is speaking to the keepers, it is such a small group that you really can either get one on one time with them or just raise a questions in front of the group.

    [​IMG]Wild Africa Trek 022 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Wild Africa Trek 023 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr

    After the hippos we walked on for a bit and got to the rope bridges over the Nile crocodiles. This was another highlight and we really got to take our time and have a good look. The keeper at the crocodiles was, again, great and was able to give us a really good insight into the crocodiles and their behaviour. I don't want to go into huge detail about everything as some of you may do it - so I will skim over bits.

    [​IMG]Wild Africa Trek 071 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr

    We were taken around by two CMs who had a great rapport and were both funny and educational - as we say in Scotland, great banter! One point worth making is that we all had ear pieces which meant it didn't matter where you were in the group/how close to the lead CM you were and this made it pretty relaxed as nobody had to jostle for position/everyone gets the same experience.

    After about and hour of walking and having fun on the bridges we met our private safari truck to tour around the first savanna, here we stopped to see the painted dogs and spent ages with the giraffes, listening to how they are trained etc. This was really fascinating (and in the case of the giraffes hilarious - not the brightest animals!) There was also a good bit on conservation. After this half of the savanna it was time to head to the "lodge" for our snack. This was great! I think even fussy eaters would be happy with it. There was a good mix of fruit based snacks, meats with flat bread (delicious!) and a sticky date sweet tart which was delicious. The juice was also yummy and I think is the same one raved about from AK Lodge and AK Tusker House breakfast. The rest of the food can only be eaten on WAT and is prepared by Tusker House chefs. We really enjoyed the food, it was definitely a highlight although the whole experience was great.

    The second half of the savanna was elephants, lions, ostrich, different types of gazelles (inc one extinct in the wild), cheetahs and more. Again it was super interesting to hear more info on each of the animals, the environment at AK and Disney's conservation work.

    Was it worth the money? Absolutely. We loved it. Three hours flew by and we felt we really had got value for money. The staff were great, food was yummy and being so close to the animals was fantastic. I seriously don't think we had any gripes at all. The only fly in the ointment was that we thought Kilimanjaro Safaris would now be a bit of a let down! It's also worth noting that I think there were some repeat visitors on the trek and I think if we saved our pennies we would probably do it again.

    Will update on our dinner - Yachtsman Steakhouse, fantastic - and more ASAP :)
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
  9. TikiRosita

    TikiRosita L4: EPCOT Centrists Executive Cabinet

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    Loving your trip report! When we went I took enough ponchos for two a day - my sister thought this was hilarious until she begged on off me on our first morning, when it tipped it down! :D

    Wild Africa Trek looks so good, I really want to do that next time I'm at WDW. And I love Crystal Palace, I think it's one of the best Character meals you can do by far, both food and interaction wise!
     
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  10. Gemma

    Gemma L4: EPCOT Centrists Executive Cabinet

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    Haha! Yes everybody thinks it's funny until they are miserable. I forgot to post this photo in the report but I think this summarises really well quite how wet 7DMT got, everyone is kind of wincing as opposed to smiling! I've made it relatively small as we all look awful...apart from my husband who had a weird knack of knowing where the cameras were exactly and smiling right at them... spooky.
    [​IMG]PhotoPass_Visiting_Magic_Kingdom_Park_7676819273 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr
     
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  11. HelloCindy

    HelloCindy L4: EPCOT Centrists Executive Cabinet

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    Wonderful report! Thank you for sharing. We are set up to do the Wild Africa Trek in Oct. I am so psyched!
     
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  12. Gemma

    Gemma L4: EPCOT Centrists Executive Cabinet

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    Day 5 afternoon at Hollywood Studios and Dinner at the Yachtsman

    After the WAT we headed over to Asia where the wait time for Everest was still less than 20 mins (this is one ride I really don't mind queuing for as the detail is amazing). We did Everest and then having just missed a Flights of Wonder (didn't see this at all this trip and I love it - apart from the cheesey tour guide who I try to block out) we headed out of the park and off to Hollywood Studios (we dropped the car at the Boardwalk first and walked). One thing worth noting about Everest - the screens that pick up on your magic band info were working which was pretty cool - I was river guide of the month! Not sure how these work or how they select guests but when we did Everest again later in the holiday I got picked again and depite waving his arm around like a maniac nothing ever appeared with Stu's name (lol). We did both get posters in Rock n Rollercoaster later in the holiday though - he was mollified by that!

    [​IMG]IMG_6177 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr

    [​IMG]PhotoPass_Visiting_Disneys_Animal_Kingdom_Park_7678434908 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr
    My mum and me on my birthday - in the background is the seating for that water show thing that was once planned for AK, what's it called again?!;)


    I had booked us fast passes for ToT, TSMM and Star Tours. Nothing too exciting to note here apart from something that falls into our "Things I wish other guests wouldn't do" post. Now generally at Disney I am pretty laidback and let stuff go (generally the opposite of my day to day persona...) but I'd say turning a ride into "that" scene from When Harry Met Sally is a pretty big no no... Screaming "Oh My God" in a rising crescendo on ToT is generally not going to endear you to your fellow guests. Anyway I will resist the temptation to post the ride photo with said lady circled with an arrow saying "this woman" :D Instead here is a photo of the super good peanutbutter and chocolate Darth Vader cupcake that I had for lunch...nutritious too!

    [​IMG]IMG_6182 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr

    My main observation from HS was generally - wow this place is small at the moment but that's not exactly breaking news to this community. We all thought they had closed way too much in a oner though and making Great Movie Ride a top tier fast pass option? Really? I think scrapping the tiers would have been better. We ended up never doing this ride as the queue was always second longest (after TSMM) at about 40mins whenever we looked - err no and obviously we had FP+ for TSMM. Shame though.

    Anyway! Dinner. The Yachtsman is one of our most favourite restaurants (not just at WDW but in the world), we ate their twice on honeymoon but after the slight disappointment of Ohana I was a bit nervous that it wouldn't live up to memory. On our first night of holiday we had nipped in to the Yachtsman to see if our server from honeymoon, David, still worked there happily he did so we asked to be seated in his section. Some people will think we are nuts but it was like being reunited with a friend. It was great to see David and he remembered us from our last trip, down to the wine we had - now I wondered if he knew we had requested him and checked back on tickets but we had booked under my maiden name on honeymoon so no he hadn't, he is just that good! If you are eating at the Yachtsman ask for David and tell him Gemma and Stuart McDonald from Scotland say hi! The Yachtsman was fantastic and definitely lived up to memory and expectation. We shared two charcuterie boards to start, everything is made in house and is exceptional, it is also really undersold on the menu. Three of us then had the New York strip, superb! And my mum had lobster thermidor which she thought was fantastic. They had also made me my own celebration menu which was very kind and David very kindly brought me some birthday dessert and some smaller sharing desserts for everyone else. Really kind.

    [​IMG]IMG_6202 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr

    We finished off the night by watching Symphony in the Stars from outside the Yacht Club - great way to finish the night!

    Just wanted to share this photo of the cake that Stu had secretly ordered for me! Although it was way too big for all of us and sadly we ended up leaving lots of it it was so sweet of him! He felt I had organised my whole birthday so wanted a couple of surprises for me. It wasn't from Disney (so he didn't have to sell a kidney to buy it) so if anyone needs help organising one from an outside vendor then let me know and I will get the info.

    [​IMG]IMG_6212 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr

    Day 6 - More shopping, Hollywood Brown Derby and Fantasmic.

    After another morning spent melting the plastic at the malls we had a reservation for the Brown Derby with the Fantasmic Dining Package, if you've been following along you may have caught my spoiler that this dinner was a disaster, which was a shame as we were so looking forward to it.

    It wasn't a good start when the "greeter" at the podium didn't make eye contact or smile, just shoved a pager at us but we were excited to look around and look at the decor/theming so this didn't bother me too much. The next server who took us to our table may have also just come straight from a funeral. Oh dear. Our actual server was not great either. Menus were thrust at us whilst he looked anywhere in the restaurant but at us and when we asked for water the drinks menu was whisked away - err no we wanted actual drinks too. The food was really disappointing too. I can't recall everything we ate and for brevity won't go into it but I remember the crab cakes whilst good in size were pretty bland and the Grouper I had for my main was a bit overcooked and overseasoned. The plates were also dropped onto our table, not placed. Really bad. Now I know when I read people complaining about service I always think "what did you do to the server"? But honestly everyone, we are super pleasant to servers, always smile, always pleases and thank yous, always eye contact and general chat so it wasn't us! The icing on the terrible cake was the dessert trio that you get as standard on the Fantasmic dining package. First of all we weren't sure what the trio was as we were never told but by guessing one was a creme brulee - or was supposed to be, the top was just sugar that might have glanced at a blow torch, not hard, not crunchy. Acceptable at a quick service or low end restaurant not acceptable at a signature restaurant where the meal was costing $300+ for the 4 of us. We raised everything with the manager who also might have been at a funeral. He couldn't have been less interested, pulled a (single) fast pass from his top pocket (anybody else worried how accessible these were?!) and that was it. Not for me it wasn't, I emailed Disney and got the usual "we will get back to you in 4-5 days" automated response. We had a phone call by 0830 to our room the next morning! And a FULL refund. That's how you deal with disappointed Disney customers. So well done to the main complaints team but we won't be returning to BD...!

    Fantasmic was great and we hadn't seen it in years but tip for anyone doing the dining package - we gave it 20-30 mins before the show to go to our "reserved" seating and were lucky to get a seat! Also nobody was checking tickets once we got to the Scar section so anybody could have got in and sat in that section, just FYI... Had we not got refunded anyway it would have been a bit of a bust! I was really pleasantly surprised by how quickly we got out of HS though so that was well managed.

    I will leave it here for today, still got Gospel Brunch at House of Blues to cover and surfing Typhoon Lagoon! Just as well I am back at work for a rest :D
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2016
  13. WxManKyle

    WxManKyle L3: Dreamfinder Presidential Campaigner

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    On our last trip we did the Fantasmic Dinner Bundle at Mama Melrose's. The food was over-priced and...average. When we got to our 'reserved' seating at Fantasmic, it was nearly full too and they were not checking tickets. I've screamed from the hilltops since then - the dinner packages at DHS are a complete waste!

    Has anyone ever had a positive experience with these? Have they ever been worth your money...or time?
     
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  14. Gord K.

    Gord K. L3: Dreamfinder Presidential Campaigner

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    Great report! Thanks for posting.
     
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  15. Michael Greiner

    Michael Greiner L4: EPCOT Centrists Executive Cabinet

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    I'm really surprised by your experience of The Brown Derby. It has been a go to restaurant to us for years and we have always had consistently great experiences there, especially with the service. The one item I do agree on is that the dessert trio is kind of lame. We do enjoy the creme brulee though (it usually is nice and crispy on top) and we typically just ask for 3 of them each. Admittedly we have not eaten there since November, but still I would bet that your meal was an anomaly.

    Enjoying reading your trip report though! I'm definitely going to give Wild Africa Trek a go in November for my honeymoon.
     
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  16. Kevin_W

    Kevin_W L4: EPCOT Centrists Executive Cabinet

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    We like the food at Mama Melrose. (Although like everywhere else, the prices keep rising.) It used to be that you could get a very good pizza and a soda with free refills for only $5 more (after tip) than a lousy pizza from pizza planet. But that delta has gotten larger over the years.

    We ate there once and were given the dinner package seats to Fantasmic by a nice server. The passes were nice to have, but certainly not something I would pay for.
     
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  17. Michael Greiner

    Michael Greiner L4: EPCOT Centrists Executive Cabinet

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    They always check the tickets at the top, however that doesn't really prevent people from moving across the rows to get over to that area a suppose. Still we always do the dining package and arrive around 20 minutes before showtime. While it is fairly crowded by then we have never had an issue still getting a good seat in that area. Its 100 percent worth it in my opinion.
     
  18. KatieLVT

    KatieLVT L1: Stitch's Great Escape Fan Club

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    I love your trip report! Thank you for posting it...it's so great to live vicariously through someone else's Disney trip while you wait (impatiently) on your own. Great job!
     
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  19. Gemma

    Gemma L4: EPCOT Centrists Executive Cabinet

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    Thank you to everyone for the lovely comments and for following along. I've been enjoying reliving our Disney time and it has been staving off the post Disney blues a bit. Don't know when we will be back (my husband has said he wants a 5 year break :(, he did not say anything about California or Japan though...;))

    [​IMG]IMG_6225 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr
    This actually belongs in the Fantasmic post but this post is a little text heavy/photo light so thought would put it in here - that's my dad photobombing us! Loving the lack of sorcerers hat in HS though!

    Day 7 - House of Blues Gospel Brunch, Animal Kingdom and Sanaa

    I can't even remember where I saw info about the Gospel Brunch at House of Blues but I am guessing it was deep into a Disney research binge! Anyway I can't recommend this enough. There are two sessions 1030 and I think 1330. We went to 1030. The food is great and the entertainment was fantastic! The food is a mix of breakfast and lunch options - so you can have waffles and mac n cheese on the side - well that's a win! Oh and you can also have a mimosa so really is there a better way to start your day?! We sat on the lower level, quite near the stage and had two tables of two - because we are anti social and didn't want to sit with strangers at the bigger tables. The queues for food were never huge and we had a great time!

    [​IMG]IMG_6233 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_6244 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr

    After brunch we headed to Characters in Flight. This is something that has been on my Disney Bucket List for about a decade but there's always been weather issues. It was great to see the progress being made on the Springs and get a different view of "the world". After this we returned to our room to lie in a cool darkened room to digest and chilled on our balcony for a bit. Later in the day we headed over to AK (around 4:30) and saw first hand why Disney are desperate for a nighttime attraction there - there were so many people leaving I thought the park had closed. But! this was great for us, we pretty much walked on to Kilimanjaro Safaris and then Everest. We ended up doing Everest twice (me praying on the second time that I wouldn't feel too sick to eat dinner) because Stu loves his ride photos and on our first ride the couple behind us decided it would be "cool" to do a nazi salute - not even kidding you, fake Hitler mustache fingers and all. Thanks for that then. Sigh. Luckily the people behind us on the second ride were not totally reprehensible examples of human beings. Another thing to file under "things I wish other guests wouldn't do" but wouldn't have thought we'd have to specify that one! We felt like we had the entire park to ourselves after Everest 2.0, a great experience (nazi issues aside!)

    We hopped a bus to AK Lodge after another meander through the park. As we were leaving I realised we wouldn't be back soon and definitely felt a bit sad as I tried to make the front of the park imprint on my memory - anybody else do this/anybody else a bit weird?!

    At Sanaa we checked in and asked for a window table, were told it could be up to an hour wait and were given a buzzer, our buzzer went off within 5 minutes so that was great! The meal was fantastic. We started with the bread service which was excellent as per all the reviews. We then both had the chicken tika which was equally delicious and shared the dessert trio - super yum! This was high up there with one of the best meals we had and we would 100% go back on our next trip. It was fun to see all the animals too. Oh and the wine selection was great - plus our waitress was lovely and a generous "pourer" of wine! Big tip there :)

    [​IMG]IMG_6271 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr

    After we left the plan was to get a bus to Epcot and walk through the park, catching illuminations on the way home. However no buses were coming and when one for MK arrived we took it as a sign. We arrived at MK in time to see the first floats of the electrical parade - I hadn't seen this is in forever (possibly since I was 5!) and loved it! Next we got into a primo spot for Celebrate the Magic and then realised we were on the wrong side of the white lines - oops, so moved to a slightly less primo spot but great nonetheless (in Crystal Palace vicinity). This was the first time I had seen CtM and my goodness, what a great show. Wishes was, obviously, wonderful too. I love that show and just wished we had seen it more. It really is a special show for Disney nerds! Once the fireworks had finished we hustled through the shops - epic tip - to the buses and managed to hop on a waiting Boardwalk bus - Our go to policy was to just get on whichever Epcot resort bus arrived first and walk. Plus the line for the invisible Beach Club bus was super long and I wasn't convinced we would get on the first one. Anyway, we were back in resort by 1040, pretty good going I thought. Great day! Thank you fate for not delivering an Epcot bus!

    [​IMG]IMG_6290 by travelbug_1986__10, on Flickr

    Our spot for Wishes.

    Day 8 - Stormalong Bay, Disney Springs and Old Key West

    As I had (accidentally) got my way of a late night at MK :D (well us late - not Bricker late!) I agreed to a late morning and then a chill session at Stormalong Bay in order to placate Stu! This was lovely though and lunch at Hurricane Hannah's was good. That afternoon was more shopping at Disney Springs (sidebar - we hated Downtown Disney, so the fact that we spent so much time at DS is, IMO, a sign that they have really got the remodel right!) and then got the boat to Old Key West for dinner at Olivia's.

    The boat ride to OKW was so peaceful! We had also never been there before so I loved getting to have a good look at the theming. Our meal was good but spending time in OKW was great. Only downside was I lost one of my birthday magic bandits :( These are pretty poorly designed from a customer perspective but Disney must do great business in repeat trade as people replace them! Anybody got any hacks for not losing them? Mine popped off loads/got caught on dresses etc so surprised I came home with 2 out of 3.

    We caught a bus to Epcot and walked back through the park in time to catch Illuminations - check out my stealth tactics at getting my husband into the parks at night, lol.

    Just two more days to report on but got to get back to work (to pay for the next trip to Disney - even if I have to sneak it into a non Florida holiday!) so leaving it here for today!
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2016
  20. HelloCindy

    HelloCindy L4: EPCOT Centrists Executive Cabinet

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    Wonderful post! Three of my favorite things in 1 day - the gospel brunch, Sanaa, and the electrical parade at MK - awesome!
    I'm so sorry about the fake Hitler people. :oops:
     
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