Hello and welcome to another WDW trip report, where I tell you in excruciating detail every little infinitesimal thing that happened during my last jaunt through The Most Magical Place on Earth. All posts in this report will be collected here. All right then. Shall we? We shall!
As is so often the case, we began the trip with a very early morning wakeup call. I was a little concerned about finding an Uber at 4:30am, but as it turned out we got a driver immediately and were at the airport in plenty of time.
Speaking of plenty of time: if you engage in any regular amount of air travel, you simply MUST get TSA Precheck. We just signed up and used the TSA Pre line for the first time this trip. Dare I say life-changing? Security took like five minutes total!
By contrast, there was a pretty long line for Disney’s Magical Express upon arrival in Orlando, but luckily we didn’t have to wait long for the bus. Caribbean Beach was the second stop after Riviera, and after checking our bags with bell services our vacation began in earnest!
Pat decided to hang around Caribbean Beach for a bit and explore while I picked up a bus from the main Old Port Royale stop to the expo. A private bus, as it turned out – the bus driver completely ignored some people waiting at the Barbados stop and just took me straight to ESPN. Either he liked me and wanted me to have a private chariot OR he hated me and wanted to get rid of me as soon as possible. Who can tell?
The first order of business upon arriving at the expo as a stop at the Arena Box Office, as I never received my after party ticket in the mail. I was able to pick that up while simultaneously activating my Annual Pass. In case you’re wondering, yes, I DID get PhotoPass included since I renewed before the system switch, but I was also given an Incredi-Pass per the changes.
Then it was over to bib pickup for my… bib… pickup… followed by a swing through the vendor hall. The vendor hall is always a bit too chaotic for me to hang in long, but I did poke through a few booths. Most notably I got to try out the Aftershokz bone conduction headphones for the first time, and I was impressed with how good the music actually sounded. Unfortunately there were no discounts available at the expo. They were giving out free gifts instead. I didn’t really need a tote bag and water bottle, though, so I instead I think I’ll get some during the inevitable Black Friday sale.
My last expo act was to check out the official merch, but at this point in the race weekend it was pretty picked over. Just as well; I spent quite enough money on this trip anyway!
On my way back – also private with the same bus driver; sorry or you’re welcome, guy, depending – I got a text from Pat that he was at the Caribbean Beach pool bar, so I headed over to Banana Cabana. I ended up picking up an Impossible burger for lunch while we chatted with a couple who were coincidentally from Maryland as well. They had run the 10K that morning, and described it as windy and rainy. Really took the sting off of not doing the Two Course Challenge. 😉
After lunch we picked up a bus and headed to Disney’s Animal Kingdom for the afternoon. This was my first real indication that we weren’t in pre-pandemic, pre-anniversary WDW anymore, Toto; it was crowded AF. There were no short lines for anything, and it being so late in the day Genie+ didn’t seem worth it. Everest was down, too, which hardly helped.
We took some time to wander through Pandora first, since Pat hadn’t seen it yet. The Na’vi River Journey was posting under an hour wait, and in the current climate that seemed reasonable enough for me so we hopped in line. I actually rather like this ride – I like the peaceful ambiance it creates, and the Shaman of Song is undeniable impressive even if she can’t actually sing.
After a brief stop at Dawa Bar to get Pat a drink (I didn’t want to drink pre-race), we got in line for the Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King. I was excited for this as I number among those most rare of creatures, the Festival of the Lion King stan.
I LOVE FotLK. Like, I don’t just have a favorite section. I have a favorite spot within my favorite section. I have been known to do the show twice per trip. Twice per two- or three-day trip.
So when I tell you that the Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King simply does not work, know that it pains me. But it’s just… weird, and disjointed. I’m not sure if it only feels that way to me because I’m used to the full show, but there were definitely bits that were awkward and illogical.
For example, none of the sections get assigned animals currently, and by consequence there are no assigned animal sounds either. But the performers still yell “All together now!” at the end of the parade float procession. All together WHAT, guys? It’s like whoever assembled it just sliced out some bits and mashed it all together again without making any attempt to smooth over the transitions. And don’t even get me started on the lazy replacement for the Tumble Monkeys. I hope the original show comes back soon.
Pat was in desperate need of some food at that point, so I hustled him over to Restaurantosaurus for a quick chicken nugget snack. Restaurantosaurus is hardly destination dining, but I do like the themed details in the seating area.
Happily, by the time Pat finished his food Expedition Everest was back up and sporting a palatable 35 minute wait, so we hustled into line. If Festival of the Lion King is my favorite thing in WDW, Everest might be my favorite ride. I always enjoy communing with the Yeti, who Joe Rodhe assures me is going to start working properly again any minute now. How’s it going, Joe?
It was getting late as far as race weekends are concerned, so we headed back to the resort. We grabbed our bell services and settled into our room. Initially, we had requested a room near the Skyliner, and we were a bit dismayed when we saw our room assignment in Barbados. As it turned out, though, this location was kind of ideal! It was about halfway between the Skyliner and Old Port Royale, Caribbean Beach’s main hub, and walks to both were very reasonable. I might even request it if we stay there again.
We headed back to the Centertown Market food court to pick up a grab-and-go dinner, then winged it back to the room to rest and prep for the race. I set out my outfit for the morning and settled into an uneasy sleep and even uneasier waking… more on that in my next post!
Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email email@example.com. See ya real soon!