'K, so, before I start, I want to note that I will be glossing over the food experiences. Don't worry - after the trip report is all done I'll be doing a food post. Maybe a couple!
This trip report starts with me waking up at 2AM, because I am completely incapable of sleeping well the night before a flight. This night was no different, with the added spice of two text messages from Southwest: one saying that our flight had been postponed by an hour, and then one immediately following claiming that it was taking off at the original time. In a panic I checked the website and it seemed like the one-hour-later text was a mistake, but it was not conducive to further good sleep.
Oh well! The important thing was that the flight was listed as on time after all, and we were able to skip merrily over to BWI secure in the knowledge that - that - of course our flight was delayed; don't you know anything about air travel?
But! This blow was softened by Jamba Juice. I hadn't eaten breakfast, so I decided to get one of those fruit-and-veggie combo smoothies for a little extra nutrition. I walked up to the cashier, placed my order, took out my credit card, and was waved away. No explanation, just "Thanks. Next!" The same thing happened to my mom. Free smoothies for no known reason! I later looked it up and read something about a "million smoothie giveaway," but apparently you need to download an app or some such? Which we definitely had not done. Go figure.
Eventually we were permitted on the plane. I was supposed to have a middle seat, but upon arrival the guy on the end asked to switch with me so he could sit next to his wife and I was all YES PLEASE. And my mom managed to make friends with her seat mate, so ultimately we had an unexpectedly pleasant flight. And we only landed eight minutes late!
Our pickup at Disney's Magical Express went perfectly smoothly, and we were the second stop. We checked in with Mike, who proudly announced that we had a first floor room... which I hadn't requested? What I had requested was the Calypso building, which we did not get. We got the Rock building, which was a schlep across the resort. I chose to go with it, though, because we're good walkers and I was happy our room was already ready for us. I only mention because it strikes me as a further example of the WDW website being glitchy. Oh WDW IT. You and your ways.
The room was perfectly adequate, although I was sad to see that they hadn't finished replacing the fridges; we were without. One advantage: the water in the shower was HOT. In other WDW hotels I generally have to turn the heat up all the way. Not so in All-Star Music!
After dumping our large carry-ons, consolidating our park bags, applying sunscreen and makeup, etc., we hopped on to the Animal Kingdom bus. It was here that I was introduced to the All-Star custom of sharing buses between Sports, Music, and Movies. To summarize: DO NOT LIKE.
But we made it to the Animal Kingdom in time, where I immediately got a new Disney Visa redemption card (my old one had expired), and had my points transferred. Then I marched right over to the ticket window and bought myself an annual pass, which costs $232 less thanks to said points. YES.
The next order of business was food, because by this point it was almost 3PM and we hadn't eaten since a tiny packet of pretzels on the plane. I pointed us in the direction of Restaurantosaurus because my mom is quasi-vegetarian (she'll eat fish sometimes) and I SWEAR TO GOD I remember them having a veggie sandwich with sweet potato fries on the menu. Did I make this up? Because when we got there, all they had was a black bean burger with regular fries. Where are the sweet potatoes?!
Nevertheless, we were super hungry, so rather than search elsewhere we accepted our burgery fate. At least it was free! Yes, free. See, my coworker Julia's husband is a music teacher, and he'd been to WDW the previous spring on a school band trip. While there he was issued some of those meal vouchers and forgot to use two of them. Since they expired at the end of this year, she gave them to me. Score! Thus our entree cost us nothing, plus we got to add a Coke and a chocolate mousse. Good times.
While we were eating I attempted to hook up my new AP to my Magic Band, which I was assured I could do via the My Disney Experience app. This was a lie. The app refused to recognize the ID, which meant no FastPass+ for me just yet.
But Dinosaur was right there, so we decided to ride that before I fixed my Magic Band. We walked straight to the divergence point and were let into the pre-show so quickly we never even heard Bill Nye the Science Guy talk to us about meteors and stuff. Bummer!
I put my mom on the inside of the Time Rover with me on the outside because personally I find that carnotaurus a trifle scary at first and wanted things to be as low-stress for her as possible. She did fine, but I think the whole thing was a little aggressive and bumpy for her tastes. She wasn't shaken up but she made no requests to ride again. Ah well.
From there we headed to Guest Relations, where I requested that my AP be added to my band. The CM gave me a funny look and asked if I had tried the website. No, I explained, I only just got it; and I received no further resistance. She synced my band, and then sold me a Tables in Wonderland card for good measure.
From then on, I could access FastPass+! Yay! First check: Kilimanjaro Safaris. No FPs left, but also no wait, so we proceeded to hop into line. There was a bit of a hold up followed by a whole slew of buses coming at once, so I'm guessing that an animal was blocking the road somewhere.
My mom LOVED this, as I knew she would, because she's an animal person like me. We got some great views of a cheetah, among other things, but as it was late afternoon and warm the animals weren't especially active. We vowed to return for a morning ride.
|Lord help the mister that comes between me and my sister!|
Our next order of business was Festival of the Lion King, but we had some time and I figured, hey - we're in the area. I wonder how Everest is looking...
Well, Expedition Everest was looking like it had a ten minutes wait. Now this is a roller coaster of too much heft for my mother's taste, so I asked her if she minded terribly if I rode real quick. She assured me she did not mind, and mentioned that she would call my grandmother while she waited.
Guys, it was nearly 5PM at this point. The line should've been a thousand years long. Do you know how long I waited? I was through the line, on the ride, and out so fast that my mom was still talking on the phone when I returned. I'd estimate the entire thing took, oh, seven minutes. I pointed out to her that the little kid in the car in front of me turned to his dad and asked to go again, but she was resolute in her refusal to ride. Too much of a drop.
She asked if I wanted to ride again, line being what it was, but I was eager to get to FotLK so as to nab my favorite spot (left side when you're facing it of the lion section as close to the front as possible and on the end of the bench, since you asked). And snag that spot we did!
This is the portion of the program where I assault you with photos from FotLK because I loooooooove it. Believe me, there are MANY more where these came from.
The tumble monkeys did not knock on my forehead, but one did high five my mom and I and then pick bugs out of our hair, so that's something.
By that point the park was closed, but we needed to leave anyway - it was time for our California Grill reservation! Like a chump I mistook the front of the bus line for the back of the line and wound up cutting in front of some people, so, uh, if you were headed to the Contemporary around 6:15PM on December 4... sorry about that. >.<
I put together some FP+ arrangements via the app while on the bus. I was really warming up to My Disney Experience, but then again at the time the app was working properly. Over the course of the trip I found this to be rather unfortunately spotty; it had a habit of freezing up at the most inopportune times.
We got to the Contemporary in plenty of time and changed in the downstairs bathroom. From there we headed up a level and went to the check-in desk. We were very early for our ADR, but as I was requesting a Magic Kingdom window view I wanted us to have as much time as possible. To my surprise, we were seated twenty minutes early with a perfect view of the castle all lit up. Magnificent.
Hostess Judy gave us a mini-tour of the place, then turned us over to our server, Justin, who taught me what a Rhode Island accent sounds like (kinda New Yorker-lite, it turns out). Over the course of the evening we learned a great deal about Justin, who is about to go into marketing for Major League Baseball, so I informed him that he simply must read W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe. BECAUSE IT IS AWESOME.
Justin tried to hook up our Magic Bands so that we could pay the bill that way, but my PIN simply refused to work. It continued to refuse for the entire run of the trip. I know we could've gone to Guest Relations or what have you to have it reset, but it hardly seemed worth it when we could just use credit cards anyway. As such we never did take advantage of the Magic Band payment feature.
It was just after 7PM and Wishes was at 9PM, so we entered into a great conspiracy to stretch our meal out to two hours. First we ordered drinks. (I made Justin guess my age before he could card me; he went with 23 so I guess I'm winning!) My mom likes sweet wines, so I guided her toward Italy's Rosa Regale. For myself, I went with a cocktail, the Cucumber Fizz - gin, limoncello, cucumber water, and a dash of Sprite. Delicious!
|With birthday confetti!|
We paid the bill (thank you, Tables in Wonderland!) and wandered out. Judy met us at the elevator, and was kind enough to tell me how to get to the Magic Kingdom walking path, which I knew existed but had never used. For the record: just go back to the Contemporary bus stop, walk past it, keep going, ta da! Magic Kingdom bus stops. We picked up the bus to All-Star Music (no bus sharing this time, thankfully) in less time than I feared and were back at our room in short order.
Only something was amiss - our door wasn't fully shut. Weeeeird. The CM who dropped off our luggage must've forgotten to pull it shut all the way. It was a little scary because the All-Star Music safe was too small to fit our laptops, so we had just stashed them in a drawer under some clothes. Luckily, this is Disney, so they were still there, as was everything else - nothing had been stolen. But it was a little unnerving.
There were two voicemails waiting for us - one of Mickey and Minnie singing happy birthday, as my mom's was in November and mine is coming up in December. The other was Mike from the front desk, pretty much just saying to let them know if we needed anything. Not sure why - is that a standard call now? Nice touch, anyway.
My mom took a shower and went straight to bed; I took my shower second, then posted the day's photos to Facebook, responded to some blog comments, and wrote up my notes on the day's activities so as to facilitate a more accurate trip report. After I downed a glass of water with EmergenC it was my turn to go to bed. Epcot in the morning!
Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. See ya real soon!