Is it trip report time again already? Yay! I’ll be looking back at my Dopey trip at the beginning of January, with special separate posts for each race and some food experiences depending on how much I have to say about them. Ready? Let’s go!
In the interest of not getting up so early, my boyfriend (hereinafter referred to as Pat on account of because that’s his name) and I drove to his parents’ house the night before, so we didn’t have to get up until just before 6AM, with Pat’s dad dropping us off at the airport around 6:45AM for our 8AM flight. Perfect!
Somehow we were once again ushered through the TSA Pre-Check line, although neither one of us has any idea how exactly you get pre-checked. No matter; we just kept our shoes on and our laptops bagged and went on through. Once past security, we stopped at Potbelly for okay coffee and tasty egg sandwiches, hitting our gate just as boarding was beginning.
As per my usual, we were flying Southwest, which as you probably know has no assigned seating. I wasn’t until B8, but by some miracle there were two seats available in the second row when I boarded. I snagged them quickly and held the window seat for Pat, who is into such things. (Taking the middle seat is one of the ways I prove my love.)
The flight itself was pretty uneventful, and upon landing our desirable location got us out of the plane with all speed. After a quick bathroom break we caught the tram thing back to the main terminal. Pat didn’t feel comfortable trusting his bags to the Magical Express team, so we took a pit stop at the luggage carousels to grab our bags, then hightailed it back to the ME station on the B side of the concourse.
We were saddened upon boarding our bus to discover that Port Orleans Riverside was to be the last stop, but no matter – we were headed to Walt Disney World! Whee! Pat spent most of the bus trip trying to locate gators in the ponds, but to no avail. Alas, he never did see one – better luck next time, Tiger.
Upon arrival, we headed to the online check-in desk and were pulled out of line by a cast member with an iPad. She led us over to a lobby couch and ran us through the check-in process. There was a small hiccup when it was discovered that my card had been charged for the full hotel cost, but this was easily remedied; the CM brought us to a computer, refunded half the cost, and then put it on Pat’s card.
From there it was off to our room, which we got slightly lost finding, but eventually – success! We had a Royal room in the Oak Manor section of POR, which was really nice in many ways, especially the furnishings and headboard fireworks. The use of princess portraits, however, was a bit much for me – which I realize is a bizarre thing to complain about at Disney, but what can ya do. It was fine, just not as subtle as the rest of the decor.
The temperature back in Maryland had been hovering around 20 degrees when we left, so Orlando’s 70 degrees warranted an outfit change. Spring clothing so donned, we left the room and headed over to the marathon weekend transportation bus stop. The cast member there informed us that we had just missed a bus, so we killed some time in the adjacent gift shop before stepping back into line and heading over to the expo.
Guys, I am not claustrophobic. Believe me when I say that the expo was huge and packed – much worse than Wine and Dine. We went through the line to pick up my packet for Dopey and get my photo taken for identification purposes.
Pat split off to get himself a soft pretzel, and I found a cast member and asked him where to do shirt pickup. He said to try the other building, so I did – and was told I had to go back to the building I started in. Sigh. By that point, though, I was already in the main expo area, so I figured I might as well do my shopping now. I zoomed into official race merchandise area (at least that wasn’t as hard to get into as during the Princess expo), grabbed the EXACT two things I had seen and liked on the internet (a gray and pink marathon tank and a Dopey magnet, since you asked), and got right out.
From there I located Pat and we went back to the packet pickup building to get my Dopey shirts. That was quite enough expo for me and we had FastPasses to use, so we picked up the bus to the Contemporary/Fort Wilderness/Wilderness Lodge with the idea of walking from the Contemporary to the Magic Kingdom. Well, once again, we were waiting for the bus’s last stop – and since we still needed to pick up our park tickets from will call, it became increasingly apparent that we were not going to make our first FP+ window.
Ideal? No, but not day-ruining; we just had to regroup. Once again, the My Disney Experience app was not working on my phone (THE MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE APP NEVER WORKS ON MY PHONE GAAAAAH), but Pat had the bright idea that I just access the MDE website via my phone’s internet browser. DUH. I am such an idiot. I did that for the rest of the trip and it worked beautifully.
Anyway, we looked at our FP+ options and decided to skip Epcot for the time being, spending the entirety of our day in the Magic Kingdom. We accepted an early evening FP+ for Space Mountain and the universe was whole again.
A quick walk from the Contemporary later and we were at the Magic Kingdom. We hit guest services/will call for our tickets, and while there I also picked up a Disney Visa redemption card so that we could use my points to buy food and such.
And so we entered the Magic Kingdom – Pat’s first time at WDW in almost two decades! Yay!
Our very first act was to hit Main Street’s Emporium. Pat had forgotten his sunglasses at home, and we spent some time in the apparel section selecting a cheap new pair for the trip. He wound up going with a pretty sweet pair of mirrored wayfarer-style shades on account of because they were one of like two pairs that actually fit his head. But still: STYLISH.
FastPass+ number one was for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the fondest wish of three-year-old Pat’s heart. To get there, we swung through Adventureland, stopping for snacks along the way. Pat watched the Festival of Fantasy parade (verdict: cool dragon) while I stood in line to try an old standby for the first time, the citrus swirl (verdict: tart and delicious). Meanwhile, Pat stopped at an ice cream cart for a frozen lemonade, which was not quite the slushy concoction he had imagined it to be in his head, but he was fine with it.
After stopping a moment to mourn the refurbishment on Splash Mountain, Pat’s favorite – and currently unavailable – ride of his youth, we scanned our bands and FastPassed our way onto Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Pat very much enjoyed the ride but agreed that it is much more cute than it is at all thrilling.
We had some time to kill before our next FP+, so we ducked into Memento Mori. Pat happens to have “memento mori” tattooed on his arm and I was kind of hoping the cast members would notice and make a big to-do about it, but it was so crowded in there I’m not sure anyone would have seen even if it was tattooed on his forehead. Ah well.
Our Haunted Mansion FP+ opened in due time, and we were quickly ushered into the stretch room. There was a little kid on his dad’s shoulders in there with us, and they were exchanging deep, spooky mua-ha-ha laughs – until after the Ghost Host’s opening speech, at which point the kid started crying a little. I think his dad got him mua-ha-ha-ing again, though. I hope you got through it okay, kid!
Other than two mid-ride stops engendered by playful spirits, our journey through the mansion was uneventful. From there we backtracked to Adventureland for a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean, then backtracked again and grabbed a late lunch/early dinner from one of my favorite counter service spots, Columbia Harbour House.
I got my beloved Lighthouse Sandwich – helloooo, hummus! – and Pat got the fish and chicken nuggets, hold the fish. We took our food upstairs and found a seat overlooking the docked Liberty Belle riverboat. We passed a quiet half-hour or so eating, pondering our next steps, and just chilling out. Seriously, if you want a serene park oasis, find yourself an upstairs window seat in Columbia Harbour House. There’s nothing like it.
Then we backtracked AGAIN for a some time in a tropical hideaway with the Tiki Room, which was, as always, hilariously kinda backwards-thinking. You know what I mean, right? … Mein goodness, you’re all schtaring at me!
It was almost time for the castle lighting show, which was some reason Disney was running for the rest of the week. But first a stop in Starbucks for coffees, furnished by a girl who was losing her voice for yelling all the coffee-buyer’s names. Won’t someone buy her a bullhorn?
Starbucks was predictably busy; by the time we got our coffees, the show had already started. As Pat knew and cared nothing about Frozen, however, I wasn’t concerned about missing any of the buildup. All I cared about was the actual lighting-up-the-castle bit, and as that we saw, I was happy.
We ventured into Tomorrowland next and attempted to ride the Peoplemover, but Pat was still finishing up his coffee so we weren’t allowed on. Has the Peoplemover always had a moratorium on foodstuffs? Shame; that’d be a lovely way to pass a lunchtime.
By that time our Space Mountain FP+ had opened up anyway; Pat finally finished his coffee and off we went! We were on the right side track in the front car, and we could argue the relative merits of each track and position all day, but at any rate Pat loved the ride, declaring that it held up well over time.
It was closing in on 7PM by that point, and I had to get up early the next morning for the 5K, so we reluctantly headed back toward the resort buses. On our way we were stopped by a Spanish lady who desperately tried to communicate that she wanted to know where to find the cars. Pat’s Spanish is better than mine, so he tried to translate my information that in order to get to cars she would need to either take the ferry or the monorail back to the Ticket and Transportation Center. I don’t know if she didn’t understand or didn’t believe us, but the message wasn’t getting through. A bilingual Spanish family passed by and I tried to tell them the same so that they could pass the message on. Hopefully that worked, but it did leave Pat and I with a general wondering: if she didn’t know where the cars were, how did she get here?
The POR bus arrived shortly, and upon disembarking we stopped in the gift shop. We picked up some Goofy’s Candy Co. sour gummy worms (highly recommended!), and Pat got some Maker’s Mark from a cast member who was also Pat.
We then headed back to our room, passing an inflatable screen showing Frozen on the lawn in front of the fountain. Once we were back, I immediately set about prepping for the race. I laid out my running stuff and set alarms on my phone AND Pat’s phone AND I organized a wake-up call just in case. If I failed at Dopey, IT WOULD NOT BE BECAUSE I SLEPT THROUGH IT.
Pat had a big project due at work at the end of the week, so he settled in to work on it while I tried to get some sleep. I was weirdly cold, though, and it wasn’t until Pat gave me his hoodie that I was able to drift off. This was a portent of what awaited me in the morning…
Next up: the 5K!
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