The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Jockey Lindsey’s Hangar Bar Review

Alas, the day has come: this is my last post for my December 2017 trip report. Now comes the long dark stretch between now and November’s Wine & Dine Half trip.

But why dwell on such tragedies when there is delicious food and drink to be had? My friends, we now return to Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar at Disney Springs. Is my mom an Indiana Jones fan? No she is not! Nevertheless I dragged her in for a late lunch because it’s a great bar and I wanted some SOFT PRETZELS, DAMMIT.

We’ll get there. First, can we take a moment to admire the holiday decor on the patio?

One of these days I’ll sit in the famed diving bell booth, but so far I’ve been happy to march through the otherwise lauded themeing of the main bar straight to the cool breezes and beautiful sites of the lakeside outdoor seating. Funnily enough, we wound up at the exact same table Pat and I sat at last time, right by the prop radio that occasionally calls in a plane or two.

On to the comestibles! For drinks, I committed a blogging sin as I so often do: I got the same drink I had during my last trip. But none of the seasonal beverages caught my eye, and the Anything Goes is so good, guys! Made with lime, passion fruit, pineapple juices, and dragon fire spirit, this cocktail is fruity without being cloying and spicy from the alcohol. And look how pretty:

This time around we also got some food, and that’s brand new! My mom got the vegetarian fritters, which are currently described as “veggies” but I’m 95% sure when we were there the fritters were specifically sweet potato. She was pleased with her selection. I tried a bite and found the fritters a little lacking in spice, but then I like it a bit spicy (see drink selection above).

I went with the famed Air Pirate’s Pretzels, served in an adorable wire airplane with grain mustard and beer cheese fondue on the side. While the argument that these are too expensive is valid, they’re soooo tasty. The pretzels are soft with just a hint of salt, the mustard seems homemade, and the beer cheese is of course delicious. Way into it.

Although no one seems to be fully able to explain to me why Disney chose to theme an Indy bar to such an obscure character, I’m a fan of Jock Lindsey’s so far. I can’t wait to go back and try new things! (Yes, maybe even a new drink.) (Maybe.)

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Spice Road Table Review

It’s trip report time! You can see all the posts in this report here.

Spice Road Table has never been popular. The reviews I’ve read have been pretty good, but the restaurant never seems to find favor with guests. 

Nevertheless, when I was selecting a Candlelight Processional dining package, I gravitated to it immediately. I knew it had just the sort of menu my pescatarian mother would be into.

We had one of those weird, 3:30ish time slots where it’s too late for a normal person’s lunch but also too early for a normal person’s dinner, and the restaurant was hushed and dim. We were ensconced in a cozy booth across from a large bay window with a view of Spaceship Earth, and while our server was a little slow he was very pleasant.

The Candlelight Processional dining package comes with an appetizer, entree, and dessert per person. We wouldn’t normally order that much food. The appetizer was a total gimme, so we were totally comfortable each ordering the exact same thing: hummus with pita and olives.

And it was GOOD, guys! I mean, it was two types of hummus and olives, and if you don’t like those things, nothing about this was transformative enough to change your mind. But the hummus was nicely textured and the pita was soft with a hint of spice, and we both enjoyed it enormously. My only suggestion would be to make the hummus flavors a little bolder, but I know Disney needs to keep in mind those with more timid palates.

For entrees, my mom went light with the vegetarian platter, which meant more pita and hummus plus stuffed grape leaves and falafel. While this is hardly maximizing your dining package value, she enjoyed everything and that’s what counts.

I went with the spicy yellowfin tuna, which was SO GOOD, you guys! I hate tuna in a can but when it’s raw or a cooked steak it becomes DELICIOUS to me, and this was no exception. The meaty flavor came through, complemented by the spicy sauce. The zucchini and eggplant mix underneath was good as well. I only wish I could’ve it had come out a little rawer, but that’s personal taste. I don’t recall the waiter asking me how I wanted it cooked, but I wouldn’t swear he didn’t…

Finally, dessert! The chocolate pyramid is their signature dish, but the saffron custard really called my name – and my mom ended up getting the same, because she had no concept of bloggability. But we didn’t regret it, because it was great! More of a creme brulee than a custard, the delicate taste of the saffron had the chance to shine, and the pudding element was creamy and smooth. Very enjoyable!

Spice Road Table is a bit of a hidden gem, if you ask me. Our experience was relaxed with a nice view and great food. God forbid it go the way of Sanaa where suddenly everyone finds out about it at once and you can’t get a table, but what the hell – this place could use the love. Tell your friends!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Be Our Guest Review

It’s trip report time! You can see all the posts in this report here.

Remember when Be Our Guest was, like, THE dining reservation to have? I mean, I guess it still kinda is, but I never really got into the hype. Despite its general popularity, Beauty & The Beast was never a huge favorite of mine as a child, and aside from the grey stuff there was no huge attraction in the perfectly serviceable but expensive menu.

I don’t know why I suddenly felt the urge to go there for breakfast, which generally gets middling reviews. The lure of doing something new, I suppose. Whatever the reason, I found an ADR almost as tough a get, but with dogged pursuit landed an ADR at a mid-morning time I liked.

And thus we found ourselves there on the second morning of our trip. Since breakfast is not a true table service affair, the experience starts out a little less lux. Even with an ADR you’re shuffled through a huge line, culminating in a cast member taking down your order. All adult breakfast are the same price and come with a non-specialty beverage and pastries to share. It’s been pointed out that if two people make separate ADRs each person gets a separate pastry plate and they can still sit together, but I had a hard enough time getting the one ADR, so.

If you have a Magic Band, you’re free to wander the castle – your food will geolocate you later. First up: a stop at the drink station. There seems to be one in every room and you can help yourself, so presumably seconds are allowed? I didn’t try but I don’t see how they’d enforce a single serving policy. My mom and I both got coffee and it was indeed coffee. So far so good.

Then I took a dip into the three available seating areas. The main ballroom dining area is everything you’ve heard: loud, cavernous, enormous, loud, loud. Lovely ceiling art but otherwise avoid.

The library has a lovely rose centerpiece, but my hurried examination didn’t yield much else of note (I didn’t want to linger too long lest my food have to chase me around). Instead we settled in the West Wing, with its soothing darkness and periodic thunder noises to scare all the small, loud children away. (For some reason WDW is full of children???? PLS EXPLN)

About five minutes after we selected our table a Cast Member brought our food in a cart, checking our receipt and leaving us to our devices for the remainder of the meal. 

My mom got the vegetable quiche, which is for some inconceivable reason served with a slab of puff pastry even though it already has a crust? Go figure. She seemed happy enough with it. It came with mixed fruit but I can’t even LOOK at it because the bowl contains grapes and GRAPES ARE THE DEVIL. P.S. My phobias are legitimate!

I had originally planned on ordering the bacon and egg sandwich, but upon arrival I found myself digging something a little lighter. I wound up selecting the charcuterie plate. Tres European, non? Nothing on the plate blew my mind but it was all satisfying: the cheese was brie, and the meats were two types of ham and salami. Bonus: apple slices and french bread with marmalade. Pro tip #1: put some cheese and marmalade on the bread and GO TO TOWN.

As for the provided pastry plate, they were decent; more or less what you might expect to be served at a hotel breakfast buffet. The pan aux chocolate was a particular standout. The cinnamon roll was kinda dry, but the apple danish and turnover were decent. Muffins provided were blueberry and bran. Pro tip #2: bring a couple plastic baggies with you, bag it all up, and stick in your backpack for snacks later. That’ll show ’em!

Overall I found it to be a pleasant enough experience, and the food was pretty good. The pastry plate stretches the value. Still, I’m not sure it’s worth the price or effort; I think I’d rather just snag a waffle sandwich from Sleepy Hollow. But if I ever find myself traveling with a big BatB fan, I’ll take a swing at an ADR. What the hell, y’know?

Have you ever been to Be Our Guest? Thoughts?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Behind The Seeds Tour

It’s trip report time! You can see all the posts in this report here.

I have had Epcot’s Behind the Seeds tour on my to-do list for literally years. Which is ridiculous because it’s one of WDW’s cheapest, easiest to book tours ever. But that very accessibility is what makes it so easy to skip when other things come up, you know? This time around I was absolutely determined to take this tour of The Land’s greenhouses, and I dragged my mom along for the ride.

We checked in for the tour at the desk by Soarin’, where we were given hand-drawn name tags. I noticed that some people had elaborately designed name tags, whereas some had otherwise plain name tags save a Mickey-dotted “i” if the name happened to contain one. I deduced that this was determined by whether or not you had booked in advance. Either way, I enjoyed my snowman in a Mickey hat.

Our group was picked up by our tour guide and took us through a side door behind the Living with the Land boat ride, where she distributed headphone packs that enabled us to hear her spiel regardless of our place in line.

Regarding our guide: she was good. Very pleasant, very nice, very knowledgeable. But to be frank. she was also kinda bland and flat – her delivery didn’t have much personality. There were no young kids on our tour, and maybe it’s different with a different guide, but if there had been I bet they would’ve gotten real antsy real fast.

Anyway! After receiving our headphone packs, we proceeded into a small room containing bugs and plants. Our guide explained that scientists are experimenting with using one type of insect to curtail populations of another, thus cutting down on the need for pesticides. 

This was all well and good, but we next got to the real meat of the tour: the portion you can see when you’re riding Living with the Land. We stepped through a door, and ta da! We were in the ride’s greenhouses. 

Our guide noted some of the methods Epcot uses to grow crops before taking us over to a small station with a refrigerator and sink. She offered us all a piece of The Land-grown English cucumber, and I gotta say it was pretty delicious – much tastier than the large cucumbers you get at the grocery store. 

After that we went into the fish tank area, where we checked out the catfish in particular. One particularly interesting tidbit: our guide told us the catfish are unusually snuggly, and will rub up against you if you get in to clean their tank. I asked if this seemed affectionate or just happenstance, and she said she wasn’t sure. In conclusion, I should probably get myself a catfish and see if I can convince it to be my friend.

Next we moved on to the tropical greenhouse, where many exotic and familiar plant specimens were pointed out to us. The highlight was the spice display, where our guide gave us containers full of spices to attempt to sniff and identify – cinnamon, clove, etc. 

And then the tour ended. Look, this probably wasn’t super exciting to read. To be honest, it wasn’t super exciting to experience, either. It definitely had interesting bits, and it was definitely fun watching the ride boats go by while actively on the show floor. But overall I was kind of underwhelmed.

I’ve read much more positive reviews of this tour, and I’m not sure if something was off or if it was me or what – but I wonder how my experience might have differed if I’d had a more enthusiastic tour guide. I may try again someday…

Have your done the Behind the Seeds tour? Did you like it better than I did? I’ve read plenty of rave reviews so I don’t know what happened!

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Lunch at Sanaa

It’s trip report time! You can see all the posts in this report here.

Remember when Sanaa was a hidden gem and you could waltz right in? Those were the days. Now word has gotten out about how awesome this restaurant in Kidani Village is, and an ADR is a must. Since my mom raved about our visit there in 2013, I made sure to make a reservation for this trip as well.

As you know if you read my trip report, we arrived late and a bit cranky to boot. Thanks to my phone call ahead during the bus debacle allowed the hostess to hold our ADR, and they even accommodated our request for a table by the window. By the time we settled into our seats we were already feeling better.

Our first act was obviously to order the bread service. I initially selected the three accompanying dips options, but our server was moved by our tragic tale and brought us all nine gratis. Sampling was of course a delight, with the pickles being a surprise favorite. I was also pleased to find that they only bring you soft naan breads and such now – none of that crunchy cracker nonsense.

We also ordered some mango lassi, a yogurt-based drink of smoothie-like consistency. It’s a little icier than, say, a milkshake, and very refreshing.

Since we were already starting to fill up on bread service, so we elected to order some appetizers for our meal. 

I went with the Boerewors sausage with spiced eggs (our server told me how to pronounce that but it has already gone wooshing out of my head). I enjoyed this immensely – I love curry, and both the sausage and egg were nicely spiced. If anything I could’ve gone with a slightly more intense flavor profile, but as it is I would definitely order it again. Protein, baby!

My mom picked out the shrimp tinashe, sauteed shrimp with season pap and nhopi (whatever that is). I didn’t get a taste because my mom wasn’t about to share it, so I’d say if you like shrimp it’s safe bet.

We also ordered the salad sampler, but to be honest we barely touched it – we had enough food as it is and nothing I tasted really warranted a second bite. The ingredients are unusual compared to your average restaurant salad but I wasn’t wowed.

Sadly we didn’t have room for dessert, but since the chai cream is long gone, who cares? I may have to try the Spice Trade Candy Bar sometime, though.

As always, the ambiance was top notch –  while we dined we viewed Watusi cattle, giraffes, cranes, and more.

I almost hate to say it, but: BOOK SANAA. (But don’t book the ADR day I want.)

Have you eaten at Sanaa? How did you like it?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Caring For Giants Tour

Sooooo I totally interrupted this trip report with a trip report of my WDW Marathon weekend trip. Let’s jump back to the December 2017 trip, cool? If you need a refresher, you can see all the posts in this report here.

I have been trying – and failing – to book a Dining with an Imagineer reservation at Sanaa for years. I’m especially desperate when my mom’s coming to WDW with me, as she loves animals as much as I do. Alas, no dice. The stars have never aligned for me.

Lucky for me, a new animal experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom dawned just as I was starting to make my plans: the Caring for Giants tour, featuring a backstage viewing of Disney’s elephant herd. With tickets in the reasonable $30 area, I signed us up without hesitation.

Our journey began at the check-in desk near Kilimanjaro Safaris, across from the fruit stand. We were given lanyards with name badges on them and signed a waiver that basically stated that if we were up to and including trampled by the elephants it would not be Disney’s fault. Not that we would be getting anywhere near them really but I’m sure Disney’s lawyers nurse a healthy paranoia about life, the universe, and everything.

I had signed us up for the last tour of the day, and there were only two other people accompanying us. A Cast Member escorted us backstage with the strict admonition that we not take any photographs. Not that there was a ton to see from a strictly aesthetic perspective, but as a WDW enthusiast it was nifty to observe the goings on.

We were loaded into a van for our trip down to the elephant area; as we drove our CM driver regaled us with some elephant facts – things like how much elephants eat (lots), how long they gestate (long), etc. Our guide assured us that we are the only groups allowed down this particular road to the elephant viewing area aside from relevant employees.

There was a brief delay when a maintenance truck was found to be blocking our path, but they soon cleared out. The reason for their presence was soon apparent, however; as we drove up to the viewing platform we saw a busted water pipe right by the enclosure gate. Several of the elephants, being intelligent and inquisitive creatures, were supervising the work.

Happily for us, they weren’t all enthralled by the plumbing. We ascended the viewing platform and were greeted by… oh shoot. I’m pretty sure the mother elephant we saw was named Donna. I know her baby was Stella, and another one of her more grown daughters was there – Luna. Stellaluna!

We had a lovely vantage point on the opposite side of the savanna from where the safari ride trucks drive through. Stella was of course adorable, nursing and then wandering about. Donna and Luna munched hay and hung out for the most part, although by the end of the tour we had lost them, too, to the fascinating maintenance work.

But we saw them most of the time, and while we watched another CM told us about them – their names and history and such. He also showed us an “elephant collar” which a scientist used to record all the sounds and reverberations elephants make in the hopes of understanding them better – apparently most elephant noises are not detectable to the human ear. (Some smart aleck should point this out to Mufume at Festival of the Lion King. Not me, mind you, but somebody.)

We were then handed over to a CM who was if I remember correctly from Namibia. She told us a bunch of stuff about elephants’ part in the ecosystem of the area. Evidently they are not super popular with farmers, as they are known to both steal and trample crops. In an effort to scare away the elephants without causing them harm, the latest tech is… bees!

Yes, elephants fear bees, and so a trip rope fence can be installed around crops; when the elephants jostle the rope, the bees come out and scare them away. Plus the farmers can collect the honey, so win-win!

After a bit more elephant viewing and some photos, we were given elephant pins and bused back to the park proper. All in all a very satisfying experience.

A few days later I received a survey from Disney specifically about this tour and how valuable I found it. Obviously I said very very – but I would strongly encourage anyone reading to book it, too. 100% of the proceeds go to Disney’s conservation fund, and we want to encourage them to continue doing that! Plus they could add tours for other animals, too, which would be awesome.

Have you gone on any of DAK’s tours? Thoughts?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Goes On All-Star Runs

It’s trip report time! You can see all the posts in this report here.

In a Walt Disney World trip diaspora dominated by races, there’s not usually a ton of room for training runs. When you’re pounding out a half or even a full marathon (or both and more!) you don’t exactly want to pile it on. And so when I planned my most recent trip with my mom and there was no race in sight, I knew I needed to squeeze in some early morning solo miles.

My runs took place mostly on the sidewalk that connects all three All-Star results. Not precisely the most magical trail WDW has to offer, but a helluva lot more magical than anywhere else, y’know?

The official running path itself is pretty unassuming – you pick up the sidewalk in front of (or even inside) your resort and then pick a direction. If you head toward the main road you’ll run out of the resort past the security checkpoint, a McDonald’s in view across the intersection. If you go the other way you’ll bottom out in All-Star Movies.

Running the whole thing out and back will net you roundabouts 3 miles if you tack on a little bit of time in Movies. Which I did, circling Bo Peep and Woody and some of Andy’s toys. You could easily eke out a little more mileage snaking your way through all three resorts and their oversize decorations, but then you run a greater risk of having to dodge other people, which I didn’t want to do. (And yes, there were people out and about at 6am. Go figure.)

There is another chance for expansion – I saw across from the McDonald’s a bit of path and a bridge heading into the woods. I don’t know where it goes or how far or if it’s even accessible by the common man, but I am intrigued. Perhaps I’ll have to check it out sometime.

The only other resort I’ve ever taken a training run in is Pop Century, and to be honest I think I prefer running lazy loops around Hourglass Lake. But the All-Star path ain’t bad. And maybe, if I’m very lucky, I’ll someday get to run the Boardwalk or even the monorail resort sidewalk. Goals!

Subliminal messaging?

Have you run in any of the resorts? Which is your favorite for training?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 12/02

It’s trip report time! You can see all the posts in this report here.

A point in Day 3’s favor: We got significantly more sleep on a whole.

Point against Day 3: We felt a little sicker.

So… call it a wash?

We got up, got ready, and headed out for Disney’s Animal Kingdom later than I would have liked for the Morning Extra Magic Hour, but we would still catch some resort-guests-only time. I kept an eye on the MDE app on our bus ride and ultimately formulated a brand new plan, essentially throwing out all the FPs I had booked so long ago in favor of an of-the-moment itinerary.

Our first stop was the Na’vi River Journey, which at that early hour had but a 10 minute posted wait. POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD! I actually enjoyed this more than Flight of Passage; despite its low thrill level I find it does a much better job of evoking a feeling, and several of the scenes are very pretty indeed.

Unfortunately I think the main criticisms leveled at it are correct: there isn’t nearly enough to look at when you consider repeatability, and yes, it is WAY too short. I think another two minutes or so would’ve improved matters considerably, not only in terms of return on queue time investment but also in terms of emotional resonance. The Shaman of Song audioanimatronic IS impressive, but I’ve only barely gotten to know her, you know?

From there we hustled out of Pandora and over to nearby African for an early morning safari, where I was pleased to find the posted 20 minute wait was in fact a zero minute wait. Nice! The lions were out and about and the painted dogs were particularly active.

While in line I picked up a FP for the first Festival of the Lion King show of the day, which I know isn’t strictly necessary but I’m very particular about where I sit, so. We killed the little bit of time remaining with a coffee stop at Kusafiri, where I also got one of those breakfast wraps. They’re not bad for counter service.


One of the advantages of seeing the first of any show of the day is that there’s no wait for the previous audience to clear out; we were let into FotLK about 20 minutes before showtime. I got my preferred spot on the side of the lion section AND a tumble monkey high five, yay!

After the show we moved toward Asia, and I stopped briefly at Serka Zong to sneak in a single rider line spin on Expedition Everest, a ride far too thrilling for my mom to ever attempt. 

Then we moved on to Flights of Wonder to see the show one more time before it evolves next year. Happily we got my favorite Guano Joe (indeed, my ONLY Guano Joe with the exception of one single time). I considered asking him for a photo afterward but by the time the crowd had moved sufficiently out of my way he was moving offstage so I decided to leave it.

A quick bathroom break later and we were on to our final FP, Dinosaur – we were in the backend buffer time by this point but I knew we could make it. I was curious to see if the preshow sparked an aha moment for my mom as to why I had named my car the Time Rover – and it did!

I was determined to get a delicious Hightower Rocks before we left DAK, so I pulled my mom over to Nomad Lounge’s outdoor patio. My mom didn’t want to drink because of her scratchy throat, so I drank by myself like a weirdo. 🙁 It’s just so good I have to bear the indignity!

I ducked into the big gift shop to scope out stuffed animals for Pat’s younger niece, and then we headed out, picking up a bus to AKL before transferring to Disney Springs. I’m finally starting to get my footing here!

We wandered around a bit, poking here and there: World of Disney, TrenD, Cherry Tree Lane. The latter has the cutest dresses but DAMN are they expensive. The Haunted Mansion ballerina dress with the capelet is almost $200! I’ve no doubt I’ll capitulate eventually but I haven’t been able to pull the trigger. When I cave it’ll probably be for the Snow White apple dress…

We also took a stroll through the Christmas tree trail, but if you can believe it, we balked at the three hour wait time to get our picture with Santa.

Kanine Krunchies can’t be beat!

This tree brings honor to us all.

Movin’ right along, footloose and fancy tree.

Oodelaly, oodelaly, golly what a tree.

Thinking ahead, I pondered the Magic Kingdom’s food options and decided I wasn’t into any of them. Instead we had a late lunch/early dinner at Jock Lindsey’s. Review to come!

From there we picked up the bus to the Contemporary before walking over to the Magic Kingdom. Guys, it was CROWDED. Like, what the hell levels of crowded. My guess is because lots of people wanted to see the new fireworks show and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party precludes that most nights at the end of the year? I know that’s why I was there.

Whatever the reason, I led my mom to Tomorrowland only to discover a bonkers line for – what for it – the Peoplemover. Yowza. I pivoted quickly and instead dragged her over to a just-closing showing of the Carousel of Progress. This turned out to be a big hit! She likes shows and music, and I liked the idea of an immortal dog.

After the show we skedaddled back to the hub to watch the castle lighting. It’s always lovely to watch the castle light up but I miss the old Cinderella and fairy godmother version. :/ I hope Frozen fever dies down someday. (Don’t tell Pat’s niece I said that.)

We took another shot at the Peoplemover then, and this time we made it! Somewhere along the way I had also picked up a solo Splash Mountain FP in Pat’s honor, so we started to head toward Frontierland. I had time to kill and it was on the way, so we ducked into a showing of The Country Bears. I know it’s not for everybody, but I personally find the absurdist humor pretty solid. Just as soon as I find a ladder!

We tried to check out the Christmas shop afterward, but it was just too crowded. Instead I found a bench for my mom to chill on and headed into Splash Mountain. Incidentally, at that point Big Thunder had a 110 minute wait – that’s the kind of crowded we’re talking here.

Post Splash we headed back to Main Street and, because we were THAT desperate for throat-soothing tea, we got in a Main Street Bakery Starbucks line that spilled well out into the street. Twenty minutes or so later we had big cups of mint tea to sip while we waited for the fireworks.

Although I know it’s not the optimal position, I chose us a spot down toward the entrance in front of the train station, to the right of the big Christmas tree. I wanted to be able to shoot out in front of the crowds. The tree did block some full fireworks spreads and we couldn’t see the projections as well as if we were closer, but I thought it was a perfectly acceptable vantage.

As for Happily Ever After, I was pleasantly surprised. I went into this one expecting to be underwhelmed, as I am deeply suspicious of re-recordings. But there was a lot more original music featured than I expected, and the covers weren’t too bad. I was also pleasantly surprised by the breadth of the movie selections. Super bonus points awarded for “That’s What Friends Are For” from The Jungle Book, with Shere Khan’s solo at the end and everything.

The second the show was over we spun around and booked it in front of the bulk of the crowd to the buses, and we were on our way back to Music in good time. We made a brief stop at the food court for sandwiches before slipping back into the room, eating, and conking out.

Next up: the last day. :/

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 12/01

It’s trip report time! You can see all the posts in this report here.

We pick up the next morning with me bouncing out of bed at 6am and going for a run, because if a trip doesn’t have a race built in you just have to do it yourself. I’ll do a full post on running around the All-Star resorts at a later time.

I knocked out three miles before heading back to the room to shower and get ready to roll out. 

Finding out my grandmother had died had certainly cast a pall over things, but since my dad wanted us to stay we figured we may as well try to enjoy it. Unfortunately my mom is a light sleeper/as much of an anxiety machine as I am, so between the bad news and the late night phone call she was running on like three hours of sleep. 

Oh, and another thing! The whole trip we were surrounded by coughing children. There must be something going around. Sure enough, on the second morning we were both feeling a little under the weather. Nothing debilitating but there was a throat-tickling component.

Nevertheless we set out. Our first stop was at the front desk, where I recounted the story of the aforementioned suspicious phone call to a CM. She checked my record and confirmed that there were no problems with it; it was indeed a scam. That sucks – I could see through it because I have a strong understanding of how Disney operates and what information is on my account, but if they’re targeting other Disney guests I bet some newbies might not know better. The CM promised to recount the tale to management but I’m not sure what can be done. Never give credit card information over the phone, people!

That out of the way, we picked up a bus to the Magic Kingdom for the tail end of Extra Magic Hour. Main Street was gloriously uncrowded, and as we walked toward the castle we could hear the opening strains of the trolley show, specifically “The Trolley Song.” My grandmother looooooooved Judy Garland, so this was a nice nod to her.

We headed into Fantasyland and knocked out Winnie the Pooh, the Little Mermaid, and it’s a small world in quick succession – only Pooh really had a wait, and it was maybe 15 minutes. Incidentally, I don’t know who designed VotLM’s queue, but they seriously overestimated its popularity. You could run an entire 5k in that thing.

After that it was off to our hard-won Be Our Guest breakfast reservation, a review of which I will of course be saving for a separate post because food always deserves a starring roll role, no?*

* RIP Starring Rolls.

Post-breakfast we were off to our first FP+ of the day, the Jungle Cruise – or I should say the Jingle Cruise, as it was all done up for Christmas. The modified name of our boat? Garland Gertie. Judy again! Our skipper was good but talked too fast; she never gave time for her jokes to land.

We stopped briefly at the Jack Sparrow show before using our Pirates of the Caribbean FP. Front row! Then it was over to the Haunted Mansion to try for standby. The posted wait was 25 minutes, so I gave my mom a choice: this or Philharmagic? Proving that not everyone classifies attractions on the same level, she chose Philharmagic. Oh, I kid, I kid; I find the movie quite enjoyable. And we only had to wait like 4 minutes to get into the theater, so all in all it was a successful use of time.

We says goodbye to the redhead.

I hustled us so resolutely to our Peter Pan FP that I accidentally tapped my band 4 minutes early. Oops! We backed away apologetically and people-watched for the necessary time before trying again with success. I do really like this ride but the standby line is always nuts.

By then it was time to head to Epcot, although we stopped briefly for snippets of the Great Moments Muppet show and the Dapper Dans. There was a monorail waiting for us at the MK stop and another for Epcot at the TTA, so that worked out beautifully. I picked up some Soarin’ FPs while we rode.

Once inside Epcot we headed to the Fountain View because it was the closest place I could think of off the top of my head where my mom could get a smoothie. Then we headed to The Land and checked in for the Behind the Seeds tour. I’ve been meaning to do this for YEARS. Finally it happened! More detailed review coming in a future post.

The tour lasted over an hour, and by the time it finished it was almost time for our late lunch ADR. Almost, but not quite – we headed into the World Showcase and bypassed Morocco in favor of a stop in Japan’s Mitsukoshi department store. Sadly all the Shinzi Kato merchandise my mom loves seems to be gone? But the whole place has been rearranged so I’m honestly not sure; maybe it’s hiding in a corner somewhere. I’ll have to check again some time.

We were still a little early but checked in at Spice Road Table for our Candlelight Processional package anyway, where we were whisked to a table with no wait. I’ll do a full review post for this too, but for now let me say SRT is seriously underrated.

After lunch we backtracked to the land for our Soarin’ FPs. This is about the thrill level my mom is most comfortable, and she found the new movie very enjoyable. We were in the middle left hangglider and the distortion was somewhat evident but I don’t think she noticed.

I had to stop and say hi to my buddy Figment.

We also snuck in a ride on the new green side of Mission: Space. First of all, I don’t understand WHY they re-recorded the preshow videos because it is literally the exact same script. I like Gina Torres and all, but I miss Gary. Second, the new green side is pretty underwhelming, no? Too much talking, and again, the ending is exactly the same as the Mars side. So weird!

By then it was high time we headed over to the American Gardens Theater, although we paused briefly at the gospel show on the way. My plan was to pick up a drink at the new Choza Margarita as we passed, but the line was INSANE. Next time!

Speaking of insane lines, the queue for the Candlelight Processional WITH the dining package was pretty nuts too. Obviously we had a seat, but it took some time to get in and my mom was starting to get cranky from sleep deprivation and residual shock. I soothed her as best I could and managed to scope out an empty area reasonably close to the stage. It was way to the right but it would do the job. And we were directly in front of the sign language interpreter so that was interesting.

My mom and I saw Whoopi narrate when we went in 2013, and my mom loved her so much she wanted to go again this year. Honestly I get it: even if she weren’t a part of my beloved Star Trek franchise, I would love her delivery. My mom says she does it “very New York.” I don’t know what that means exactly but she’s very straight ahead and maybe juuuust a little bit sassy, especially in the bit at the end about the origins of “Silent Night.” My favorite part was when she danced and sang along to “Rejoice with Exceeding Great Joy.” Great show, great show!

Oh, and BAM: before the show I messed around in the MDE app and snagged Frozen FPs. This was good. The bad bit was that my mom was starting to fade. I coaxed her over to Norway and sat her down on a bench before running into the Sommerhaus line to meet Anna and Elsa.

Normally face character meet and greets aren’t my thing – I always feel awkward. The actors stay in character because that’s their job, but I always want to be like, “you know I know you’re not real, right? Can we just take the picture and roll out?” Costumed characters are much less awkward. I know; I’m a boring killjoy.

But I was in line for a reason: I wanted Anna and Elsa to sign a Christmas card for Pat’s niece, who is freakin’ obsessed with Frozen (attempts to divert her to Moana have been only moderately successful). This they did, and they seemed to like the idea, but it was definitely also a awkward as they talked about Olaf and his hot chocolate preferences while I stared them blankly like a weirdo. But I got what I wanted with only about 15 minutes’ line time so it all worked out.

Turns out Anna and Elsa are both pretty short.

I very cruelly dragged my zombified mother through Frozen Ever After because I love the Let It Go scene more than I love her, apparently. At least I was kind enough to forego IllumiNations in exchange for an early bedtime. We grabbed a bus and headed back to Music.

Next up: we finally start to cheer up a little at DAK.

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 11/30

Hello and welcome to a very strange trip report! If you are looking for a perfectly normal dose of pixie dust, I refer you to any of my other trip reports. For you see, this particular report will have its fair share of oddities. And before this first installment is over, SOMEONE WILL BE DEAD. Ahahaha!* … Yeah.

Ghost Host laugh.

Still with me? Cool. I began this trip as I begin every trip: with a terrible night’s sleep. It’s anticipation, sure, but then there’s also the crippling fear that I may sleep through the alarm. So my brain largely seems to land on scarcely sleeping at all.

No matter! I was going to WDW, so I bounced out of bed before my alarm even went off, collected my mom, and rolled over to the airport. The flight left on time, we landed early, Disney’s Magical Express made us chill on the bus for awhile, and then we were on our way!

All-Star Music was the second stop. Our first act upon landing was to hit up the front desk. I had of course done online check in, but I had also received an interesting voicemail the night before offering a $20 gift card in exchange for no housekeeping services. This seemed like a fine deal to me so we accepted.

I made a pit stop in the bathroom to change and freshen up – and I must say, the All-Star bathrooms compare quite unfavorably to Pop’s. They’re like half the size and in terrible shape. Half the door latches were broken. Lame!

Then I did something I haven’t done in four years: went straight to a park. What, no race expo to attend? What is that even like??? Well, I’ll tell you what it’s like: it’s time-saving. We were on a bus to Epcot in no time flat.

I did something mildly clever here, I think? See, when I set up our FastPasses, I knew we wouldn’t be in Epcot long enough to warrant all three. But I also wanted to take a stab at picking up some last-minute top-tier FPs, the kind you can’t have two of at once. So for my first FP selection I deliberately took a slot I knew I wouldn’t use (and before you get all up in arms, know it was for Figment at 9am – NO ONE HAS EVER NEEDED OR WILL EVER NEED THAT). That way once I used the other two I was free to try for FPs on any ride I wanted!

So our first legit FP was for Spaceship Earth, and while the FP line was weirdly backed up (a trend, we would find), but it was a good start – my mom enjoyed messing around with the animation at the end. Poor dear, she hasn’t learned to be jaded about it yet.

I dashed into Club Cool for some Sparberry (and to complain about the lack of watermelon soda) before heading over to Test Track for our FP slot. I was off my game for the vehicle design – our car was neither particularly good nor particularly weird. I mean, it was pink and had butterflies on it, sure, but I can do better.

While in line I tried to pull up FP options, but for some reason my mom’s use of our TT FP hadn’t registered. I made her trek back to the FP sensor to tap it in so I could start checking for new FPs and also because I am a terrible daughter. And it was for naught, too; nothing good was coming up in our allotted time.

Instead we decided to head to our Sanaa lunch reservation early. EARLY! Oh, to be that naive again. Guys, we arrived at the AKL/Kidani Village bus stop at 12:15pm for a 1:30pm lunch ADR. Q: Did we make that ADR? A: NO WE DID NOT.

This was FAR AND AWAY that worst bus situation I have ever experienced. Disney claims a bus will arrive at each station at least every 20 minutes, but of course this is not an exact science. Here’s what happened to us:

  • At the 30 minute mark, we asked a passing Cast Member, who assured us a bus would be along any minute.
  • At the 50 minute mark, someone in line called guest services, and he was told that there was a problem with the bus but it was coming now. (Followup question: there’s only one bus…?)
  • At the 1 hour mark, I called Sanaa and asked them to hold my ADR, which luckily they were able to do.
  • At the 1 hour and 5 minute mark, we flagged a vest-adorned CM, who said he would call someone but didn’t that we could see.
  • At the 1 hour and 10 minute mark, someone else from the line approached a different bus driver and was told that there was a shortage of buses and there wasn’t really anything he could do.
  • At the 1 hour and 15 minute mark, a bus finally arrived.

So yeah. Not Disney transportation’s finest hour. The interesting thing is that we did gently complain later to a very nice lady at the Kidani Village desk, and she told us the buses were delayed because of all the construction. So I don’t know what the hell was going on, but at the very least get your story straight, Disney. We did walk with an extra FastPass each, though, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Anyway, we finally arrived at Sanaa about 20 minutes late, but I’ll save that for a full review post. Obviously it was delicious.

After lunch we picked up a very reasonably timed bus to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where we poked around in some shops for a bit before our Caring for Giants backstage elephant tour. Saving that for a separate post too, but the short version is this: awesome. Book it.

Somewhere in there I also picked up a FastPass for Kilimanjaro Safaris at my mom’s request, so we did that immediately following our elephant encounter. While in line for that, I performed a miracle: I picked up evening FPs for Flight of Passage in Pandora. And they said it couldn’t be done!

We saw three lions at once!

Our sunset safari was very good, but the most notable thing about it was our driver. As I noted on Twitter, this dude talked like William Shatner had fused with John Wayne and then smoked all the weed in Orlando. And he was sassy about it, too. I personally found him hilarious, but I’m surprised Disney lets him get away with it.

By this point the sun had set, and the Harambe nightlife was heating up.

But as much as I love Harambe, it was time we journeyed with the crushing masses to Pandora. Much has been made of Pandora at night, and having seen it that way for the first time, I must say… why? It’s so freaking DARK, guys, and obnoxiously crowded, and the “bio-luminescence” is just glow in the dark paint and blacklighting. I guess the fact that the mountains “float” is unique but basically it’s just a rainforest, right? I felt lost the whole time and frankly cranky about it. #avatarstillsucks

With that glowing introduction, I segue to my first ride of Flight of Passage. POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD. Once again, I’m going to have to be Debbie Downer Hateseverything here. I honestly do not get it. Admittedly, as you may have noticed, I am coming from a place of burning hatred for the Avatar movie, but still. 

A lot of the positive reviews for this ride go on about how it’s unlike anything you’ve ever ridden before. Really? It’s a motion simulator. I know that the bike-style seating is kinda different, but other than that… it’s a motion simulator? Moving a couple pads against my thighs doesn’t suddenly make me believe I’m no longer riding a bike. For starters, if I were actually riding a banshee, shouldn’t I be able to see his head in front of me? Huh? Huh???

To be clear, I’m not saying it’s bad. It’s pretty! It’s fun! The music is nice! I like the swoopiness! The star effect at the beginning is pretty cool! But… it’s a motion simulator. What am I missing here? Please tell me; perhaps there’s an important innovation I’m overlooking.

After that I had had quite enough Pandora for the time being, so we hightailed it out of there. We made a brief stop at the Discovery Island dance party and then headed to Serka Zong. 

I checked the Everest line but it was long, so we just handed in our bus-apology FastPasses in exchange for a place in the audience Rivers of Light, ’cause ain’t nobody got time for that standby line.

I was experiencing this for the first time as well, and by contrast to Flight of Passage there wasn’t much hype to overcome. Perhaps in part thanks to that I wound up enjoying it. Mind you, it’s no Fantasmic or whatever, but it’s a pretty little show and the shaman boats are nifty. My main complaint is the weird pop power ballad in the middle? What the hell was that about?

DAK was closed by the time the show ended, so we power walked out ahead of the masses and managed to pick up the second bus back to All-Star Music.

Unfortunately this is where things started to go wrong. My mom called my dad, you know, just to check in… and we found out my paternal grandmother had died. Now, she was almost 97 and had dementia, so it’s not like this was completely out of left field, but still… it was a strange cognitive dissonance, hearing this in the most magical place on earth. My dad insisted we stay, saying my grandmother would want us too, but it cast a strangeness over everything.

So that was weird and dampening of spirits. We went back to our room in the Broadway section, watched some of the Disney Christmas special, and tried to get some sleep.

Probably you think this is the end of the day’s report. You are wrong.

A little before 10:30pm, I’m in the bathroom area prepping for bed when, out of nowhere, the hotel phone starts to ring. Thinking it might be, I don’t know, a message from my dad or something, I lunge for it.

There’s a woman on the other end claiming to be with the resort. She keeps referring to me as Mrs. German, and tells me she’s been trying to get in touch with me for hours. I’m 97% sure my account says Miss and I KNOW my cell phone and email address are on my record, but I roll with it.

“There’s been a problem with the database, and I need to confirm some information,” she says. First she asks me to confirm my name. That I do. 

But THEN she asks me to confirm the address attached to my credit card, and I balk. “Can I do this at the front desk tomorrow?” I ask. She agrees but hustles off the phone.

Yeah. That had scam written all over it. And that’s how our first day ended.

There’s more trip report to come, guys! It does get better. (Mostly.)

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!