The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Drinks & A Snack At Oga’s Cantina

The full trip report is over, but the details still need filling in. Read on for more May 2021 WDW fun!

I think we can all agree by now that a reservation at Oga’s Cantina is an absolute must for every WDW trip. Heck, I’m not even much of a Star Wars gal, and even I think that. It’s still a hot ticket, and I had to fight to get it, but it was well worth the effort. In fact, I’d despite the quieter atmosphere due to COVID restrictions, this time around was even better than the first. And I owe it all to Jason.

Jason was our bartender, and oh, what a wonderful bartender he was. We were seated at the bar itself, which probably helped, but his service was unparalleled. (Oh, and now would be a good time to link you the menu so you can follow along if you want.)

I had preselected drink number one: the Dagobah Slug Slinger. This one comes with tequila, blue curacao, citrus juices, ginger, herbs, and bitters. This was enjoyable but I was a little disappointed with how dominant the fruit flavors were; I would’ve liked a stronger showing from the ginger and herbs. The little plant garnish was a nice touch, though.

Dagobah Slug Slinger

My second drink was where the magic of Jason kicked in. I was hemming and hawing between the Jet Juice or the Outer Rim.  The latter is a delicious bourbon-based cocktail that packs a punch, but the Outer Rim is a margarita by any other name that comes with an AMAZING passion fruit foam on top. What to do, what to do?

Well, let me tell you. Jason knew what to do.

What he did was deliver me a Jet Juice, a glass of ice, and a cup FILLED with passion fruit foam. “Pour the Jet Juice over the ice,” he said, “and then top it with the foam.” That’s right, kids, he combined the two drinks just for me!!

Jet Juice + Outer Rim

Jet Juice + Outer Rim

And it was awesome. Normally I prefer my bourbon on the rocks, not in cocktails, but Jet Juice is definitely an exception. It’s fruity without being too sweet, and the passion fruit foam played surprisingly well with the flavors. That being said, I definitely wound up eating most of it with a spoon. When it was done, Jason even wandered by and refilled it unasked! See what I mean? Five-star service.

If you’ve been to Oga’s, you know they have some rules, one of which is that you can only have two drinks per person. However, I find that it’s very loosely enforced, and sure enough a little while later a different bartender wandered by and asked if we’d like another drink. I felt like another cocktail might be pushing it, but an item from the beer menu had caught my eye, so I ordered that.

Gold Squadron Lager

The beer in question was Blue Point Brewery’s Gold Squadron Lager, and I was after because it was described as featuring the flavors of plum and – wait for it – LAVENDER. You know how I love my floral flavors. I wound up really enjoying this one, too; the lavender flavor wasn’t aggressive, but it was definitely present. It seems you can get this beer at Docking Bay 7 too, so I may need to look into that next time I’m there.

All this drinking required a snack. Pickings are pretty slim when it comes to Oga’s food menu, but the Batuu Bits sounded decent enough so we ordered those. They’re described “crispy galaxy snack bits,” whatever that means. Turned out they were various vegetable chips with a spicy chermoula dipping sauce. I found the whole thing pretty underwhelming, consisting of crunch and salt but not much else in terms of flavor, but I know Becky was pretty into the dip. I wouldn’t discourage you from ordering it but I think I’ll grab a snack pre-Oga’s next time.

Galaxy Bits
Did I mention it’s really dark in there?

The atmosphere was, as noted above, a bit subdued due to COVID restrictions, but our time there was exemplary all the same. I can’t wait to come back when it’s bumpin’ again and we can get all the theatrics alongside the absolutely amazing drinks.

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 fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which You Can Hear ALL The Disney Parks Music In Single Videos

My love of Walt Disney World background music loops is well documented. There’s just something so soothing about listening to the sounds of the Disney parks while doing work or chores; it floats the mind away to a better, more carefree place. 

I have lots of favorites, but I’m also always on the hunt for new treasures. I was poking around YouTube for just this reason when I came upon a video from Epcat77 that claimed to be the ENTIRE master music loop for Disney’s Animal Kingdom – yes, the whole entire park.

Eager to explore every possible musical nook and cranny, I clicked play and started on my work. It was all standard DAK stuff at first, marimbas and all that sort of thing, until I was startled to hear the It’s Tough to Be A Bug show. Not the queue background music, not the area music, but the entire show, with Flik talking and everything.

I opened up the video description and there, painstakingly delineated, was every bit of music in this master loop, plus time stamps for when it started. Dinosaur was in there, and Festival of the Lion King, and Na’vi River Journey… when they said master loop, they meant MASTER LOOP. (Mostly. I notice the Finding Nemo musical isn’t included; maybe it’s a copyright thing?)

But wait, there’s more! This particular YouTube channel has a master loop for all four major theme parks, and they’re the same – depending on the park, many to almost every ride’s audio track is mixed in with the area background music loops. DAK does seem to be the most complete in terms of rides, followed by Magic Kingdom and the Studios with Epcot bringing up the rear, but in every case it’s the lion’s share of the park’s music as far as I can tell… and I think by this point I should be able to tell pretty far!

They seem to be grouped by land, but the creator has but outdoor music in between each ride, presumably to simulate the walk from queue to queue. It’s like a day at the park if only your ears had tickets.

Naturally each video is very long, and depending on what you’re doing, having the Tiki birds shouting in your ear might not be as conducive to productivity as you were hoping. But the next time you’re feeling nostalgic for some of some of that sweet sweet WDW park audio, give these a go!

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 fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Lunch At BaseLine Tap House

The full trip report is over, but the details still need filling in. Read on for more May 2021 WDW fun!

Fact: Becky absolutely adores BaseLine Tap House in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. 

Fact: I had never been to BaseLine Tap House.

WE WENT.

And while the theming is subtle and the offerings are basic, it didn’t disappoint. Follow along with the menu here.

BaseLine is intended to feel like a California craft brewpub, and while it does offer some wines and cocktails its pride is its rotating collection of beers. Faced with such a selection, I did the only thing I could do and purchased a flight.

Of the beers available at the time, I selected: Golden Road Brewing Hefeweizen, North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner, North Coast Red Seal, and the Ace Space Blood Orange Hard Cider. Basically the “Not An IPA” collection. 🤣

BaseLine beer flight

The beers were all pleasant but didn’t knock my socks off or otherwise stand out for me; they basically tasted like their category of beer. I quite enjoyed the blood orange cider and could see myself getting a full glass of it if it sticks around. In either case it’s always fun to try a flight!

We also shared a couple snacks. First up is the charcuterie plate (minus the grapes because I HATE AND FEAR grapes and Becky was like, all right, weirdo, I’m not invested enough in grapes to die on this particular hill; I’ll ask for it without grapes). 

Charcuterie board

The board came with a bleu cheese, a goat cheese, and something called “farmstead cheese” which tasted to me kinda like a manchego? The bleu cheese was my favorite but I like strong cheeses. The salami and chorizo were suitably meaty but the chorizo could’ve used some spice. Honestly I think my favorite part might have been the toasted baguettes – they were buttery and not too crisp.

We also got the Bavarian pretzel, a giant soft pretzel that came with beer cheese and spicy mustard. The spicy mustard wasn’t completely my jam, but the beer cheese was pretty good. I just wish it was spiked with a spice or something; I feel like the mellow cheese could use a flavor foil. The pretzel itself was a standard issue soft pretzel, well-baked with a good chewy softness but nothing out of the ordinary.

Pretzel

Normally there’s a smattering of indoor seating, but this was largely done away with during our COVID-era visit. Luckily we were able to snag a table on the patio. The patio very much has a laid-back biergarten vibe. It doesn’t necessarily scream Disney, but it’s a lovely place to take a break from hectic park hustling.

So BaseLine didn’t blow me out of the water with its offerings necessarily, but it’s definitely a great place to hang out and try some beer and I will 100% be back. Oh, to be there now…

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: May 8

It’s time for my favorite type of post: a trip report! I celebrated my second vaccine dose with a trip to WDW accompanied by Becky of Disney In Your Day. I will now exhaustively tell you all about it. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

I knocked out my Hourglass Lake run a little early again this morning; it was another Studios day and you know what that means: Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group Rush! Once again Becky with the Fast Hands got us a boarding group, this time in the single digits. Assuming this whole boarding group thing continues, I have no idea what I’ll do without her on future trips.

That early boarding group does come with a caveat, which means that now you definitely need to make it to the park before rope drop. I was apprehensive of how we’d fair on the Skyliner given the debacle of our attempts to make it to Epcot on time earlier in the week, but surprisingly the lines were extremely manageable. I guess people don’t like waking up early on vacation even when Kylo Ren promises to meet them there.

Cast Members were actively advertising Runaway Railway as a short wait, and since we wanted to ride it again anyway we hopped in line before the park was even officially open. Not that it mattered, as the ride was already running. I still think the visuals are a skosh chaotic but I also noticed a bunch of stuff I didn’t see the first time. I predict that’ll keep happening for a while, so high scores for re-rideability!

We exited Runaway Railway at 9am precisely, official open time, and to our boarding pass being called. Not wanting to keep Rey waiting, we immediately headed over to Batuu for another thrilling escape from the First Order. 

Rise of the Resistance

Although, can I opt to join the First Order instead? It’s the only CM job where you can tell guests what you really think of them. Like, as we transitioned through the Stormtrooper room, a CM instructed everyone to go right to the next section, as per usual. I hung back briefly on the left side of the room to snap a quick selfie with a droid, at which point the CM said “Right is that way.” I got served!

Rise of the Resistance

For once the little Batuu market area didn’t have a gigantic line, and as I had never been we decided to meander through the shops. They were only allowing one party per time in each individual kiosk so we really just window shopped, but it was interesting to see some of the souvenirs they’re producing. Ever the fan of stuffed animals, I liked the… the… look, they’re shaggy and have horns? The internet informs me that these are in fact the banthas. I’ve been drinking their milk all along. (It’s like drinking the Kool-Aid only it specifically makes you interested in IP you never cared about until somebody made a theme park land out of it.)

Batuu market

The milk also makes you take pictures in front of the Millennium Falcon like you wouldn’t answer the question “Whose ship is this?” with “I don’t know but you better hope the Borg don’t catch up to it. Anyway, does anyone know if there’s a Species 8472 animatronic?” 

Millennium Falcon pictures

Millennium Falcon pictures

(Not Becky, obviously. She has her own Porg. Clearly she knows what she’s doing.)

Toy Story Mania was right on the other side of the land and posting a reasonable wait time, so we took a ride through the Midway in which I discovered my string-pulling skills are rusty. It’s like all that arm-focused weight training I’ve been doing has been for nothing.

We also jumped in line for Slinky Dog Dash; the posted wait time was just under an hour, but I’ve definitely seen worse. Becky noted that the queue area is subtly decorated with hints about how Andy customized his roller coaster building set, and as my only other experience had been through the FastPass+ line I was able to keep myself entertained looking for them.

Slinky Dog Dash

While in line we mobile ordered food from Docking Bay 7, but the restaurant was so popular our pickup window still hadn’t opened by the time we got off Slink. We walked back into Batuu anyway and killed some time in the Den of Antiquities until we could get our food. I expected something higher end but the animatronic proprietor was kinda neat.

Den of Antiquities

Docking Bay 7 was weirdly cold inside, so we sunned on a bench for a bit while we considered our next move. Muppets 4D seemed like a good bet, but when we arrived there was a rather more social-distancing induced line than we were prepared to deal with. Yet another strange impact COVID has had on our society.

Instead we backtracked to Star Tours, where Becky was once again the rebel spy (nostalgia!). Let’s see, we traveled to… oh, shoot. Hold on. Oh, right, we did the battle scene where you end up dodging AT-AT walkers, and then we evaded Boba Fett, with Yoda as our interstitial character. Not my favorite destination but at least I didn’t got the pod racer scene again

We still had some afternoon to fill up before our reservation at Oga’s Cantina, so Becky suggested a wildcard option: the Vacation Fun showing in the Mickey Shorts theater. My exposure to the modern Mickey cartoons has been limited almost entirely to what’s shown on the Magical Express, but as it turned out I really enjoyed Vacation Fun! The yodeling segment was my favorite but Potatoland is entirely deserving of its photo op (how did we miss that one?).

Finally it was time to return to Batuu for our ADR at Oga’s Cantina. I’ve reviewed Oga’s before and didn’t necessarily anticipate doing so again, but as it happened it was a truly superlative experience that is deserving of its own post. SO MUCH PASSION FRUIT FOAM!!!

On this happy note we rolled out of the park, although not before stopping for more Millennium Falcon pictures as we weren’t entirely satisfied with that morning’s batch. 

Millennium Falcon pictures
Millennium Falcon pictures

Then we took the Skyliner back to the park for a much needed rest break. Of course, not long after we were back at it again with the Skyliner to Epcot. Just can’t get enough of that Flower & Garden Festival!

We hung a right toward France and immediately stopped for a PhotoPass photographer. 

Epcot France

Epcot France

In Morocco, we… stopped for a PhotoPass photographer. You WISH your social media was as flush with pictures as ours!

Epcot Morocco

Our presence duly documented, we grabbed some food and drinks to enjoy at one of the picnic tables outside The American Adventure. Disney appears to have hired rotating local bands for the evening shows, and if I remember correctly we caught the tail end of a pleasingly retro set by I think The Hooligans?

I grabbed a pineapple sake from the nearby Japan pavilion, which was a light and pleasant sip with a smooth and fruity finish I was happy to slowly savor. This was in stark contrast to the duck gnocchi I had earlier wolfed down like an animal. The “gnocchi” was more like dumplings but the meat had the rich flavor I expect from duck. 

Pineapple sake

Duck gnocchi

There was a PhotoPass photographer in Japan, and we just walked right by. Wouldn’t even look at them. HAHAHAHA AS IF.

Epcot Japan

Epcot Japan

I also grabbed the one hibiscus beer I hadn’t already sampled, which tasted like all the others, as well as a desert violet lemonade beer, which actually had a bit more of a floral taste to it than the OG desert violet frozen lemonade. We split a spicy hot dog, too, which was tasty if not really spicy enough.

Epcot Flower & Garden food

Epcot Flower & Garden food

I didn’t buy any food or drinks in China, but as we wandered past the House of Good Fortune gift shop I asked Becky if we could stop in real quick. “Are you going to buy the ox?!” she cried with great enthusiasm, and with that kind of encouragement how could I not? A superfluous purchase to be sure, but LOOK AT HIS LITTLE FACE HE HAS ROSY CHEEKS I CAN’T!!!!

Year of the Ox

In Norway we attempted to get Aquavit shots so we could prove we’re true Vikings, but alas, Kringla wasn’t selling it at the time. I hope it comes back in a post-pandemic world because I still want to earn my Brunhilde status.

My photos suggest there was one more drink in there somewhere, but I’ve got myself all turned around and if my brain does too many cartwheels it gets dizzy, so let’s just say I had another beer of some sort. Either way, an excellent end to the day.

Epcot Flower & Garden food

Epcot Flower & Garden

There was a long line for the Skyliner at the end of the night, as per usual, but we were back in our room at Pop in as reasonable an amount of time as could be hoped. We finished up the French room wine and did some preliminary packing up, for tomorrow was the dreaded… last day. 🙁

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: May 4

It’s time for my favorite type of post: a trip report! I celebrated my second vaccine dose with a trip to WDW accompanied by Becky of Disney In Your Day. I will now exhaustively tell you all about it. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

Obligatory: May the Fourth Be With You!

Yes, we did it: we snagged Studios Park Passes for the most important day of the year assuming you’re a Star Wars fan. I am resolutely a Star TREK fan in favor of the Wars, but even I’m not immune to Batuu’s charms, so I was in!

Of course, the first thing anyone must do on a Studios Park Pass day is wake up at the crack of just before 7am to try to get one of those coveted Rise of the Resistance boarding groups. I had only just gotten to the “select your party” screen when Becky announced that she was already through and we were boarding group 11. Score! 

Our next order of business was a slightly sadder one: this was our morning to transfer to Pop Century. Don’t get my wrong; I’m a huge Pop fan, and there was plenty more WDW time before us. But it was bittersweet to say goodbye to that amazing theme park view.

We dropped off our bags at bell services to transfer and headed out to the bus stop. Not surprisingly for such an important date, the bus line for the Studios was no small amount of LONG. We noped right out of there and paid for a Lyft instead. We were beating rope drop come hell or high bus wait times.

Grauman

Despite arriving ahead of the technical park opening time, our boarding group was called before we even got inside. No matter; we had an hour to get there. Nevertheless, we went directly to Batuu and hopped right into line. There was almost nobody else there and we breezed straight through to the – let us say to avoid spoilers – first ride segment. I was happy as I had read that Disney was occasionally skipping the pre-shows/first segment, but we got a total ride experience. It was awesome as always!

Star Wars Photos

Star Wars Photos

On May the Fourth all SW-related experiences will have long lines, so we figured we’d get some PhotoPass photos out of the way early.

Star Wars Photos

We were already in the area, so we braved a minor line for Smugglers Run. I like this ride but this time we were assigned the engineer role, which I didn’t care for as it requires you to focus a lot of your attention on the sides of the ride vehicle so that you don’t miss your button-pushing call outs. I wasn’t a fan of having to bounce my attention between the screen and the wall if I wanted to catch any of the actual visuals. Being the pilot was much better. I’ve never been a gunner but it’s probably an improvement too.

Hondo

By this point we were feeling a bit peckish, so we decided to mobile order some breakfast. Ronto Roasters wouldn’t let us pick up for another half an hour, but we put in our orders and wandered into the adjacent Toy Story Land while we waited. Toy Story Midway Mania’s line looked prohibitive, but Alien Swirling Saucers was pretty short and I’ve never ridden it. I thought it was cute and fun enough but certainly not worth waiting a while for.

Alien Swirling Saucers

We scarfed down our breakfast in that little recessed area next to Docking Bay 7 while we considered our next move. Sadly the Tower of Terror wait time was inflated – I assume because they weren’t fully loading the elevators. Oddly enough the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster line was short, so we did that instead. They were loading every row of the trains there and skipping the pre-show entirely, so it was extra fast.

Surprisingly the Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway line was posting, I don’t know, like 40 minutes? Which for a brand new ride in the middle of the day in the age of inflated wait estimates was good enough for me. We had to wait in the sun for a bit again, but it still wasn’t as bad as the Tiki Room. 😅

Runaway Railway is really cute! I do think it’s a touch to frenetic to follow the story effectively, but that might not be as much of a problem if they were running the pre-show. I felt like I was missing some key background info. But the sheer number of visuals does give it a lot of re-rideability. SPOILER: My favorite part was definitely Daisy’s dance class where the ride cars waltz! END SPOILER.

Runaway Railway

Lunch brought us to BaseLine Tap House, another first for me. We had to brave a bit of a line to get in but I regret nothing. While there we met a gorgeous service husky who was a little worse for wear due to the Orlando heat. I gave him my cup of ice water but I think Disney should start stocking dog bowls like a lot of bars now do. 

On our way into the park that morning we had snagged a spot in the virtual line for a “Star Wars Merchandise” opportunity of some sort. To be honest, we didn’t know exactly what that meant, but if there’s a virtual line at Disney you should probably join just in case, no? Anyway it turned out to be for special May the Fourth souvenirs they were selling in what was usually the Muppets gift shop. Our shopping time came up during lunch, so we went to take a look. Honestly none of it was particularly compelling, but we did see some very impressively costumed SW fans.

It was getting on in the afternoon, so we picked up the Skyliner back to Pop (God I love the Skyliner!!!) where our new room was ready. We wound up in the ’60s section, which is what I prefer, on the opposite side from the pool with a nice view of Hourglass Lake, which is also what I prefer.

We grabbed our stuff from bell services and took a rest break in the room for a bit, then jumped back on the glorious Skyliner to Epcot. This was (almost) strictly a snacks-and-drinks Flower & Garden Festival stroll. Our biggest haul was from Honey Bee-stro – we tried all three food items. The lavender chicken flatbread was disappointingly pedestrian in my book, and the flavor of the cheesecake was a little light, but the spoonbread was a slam dunk in both texture and flavor. The citrus honey beer was only okay.

Honey Bee-stro

We also stopped in at World Showplace. I was disappointed with the maple bacon stout, which was minimally maple and not at all bacon, but the watermelon mint was one of my favorites – light and pleasantly fruity. I love watermelon!

Maple bacon stout

Watermelon mint beer

Other activities: we did roll through that one gift shop and bought the flower scavenger hunts. The cashier let us grab our prizes (travel mugs in Figment and Orange Bird) in advance, which is good because I don’t think either of us ever completed the hunt. 😆 Look, it didn’t fit in my backpack, okay? 

I also insisted on a viewing of the Impressions de France movie in the France pavilion, because for some reason they’re only showing it at night now. I’ve never seen this new Beauty & The Beast Singalong they’re doing in the daytime, but I’ve yet to hear anyone say a single good thing about it. Whereas the France movie, while admittedly somewhat dated, has a KILLER soundtrack. The Saint-Saens Organ Symphony alone is worth the price of admission (free/the bajillion dollars an AP now costs).

Then I dragged Becky through the France gift shops because I wanted to get something for my Spanish teacher, who is from France. (She’s THAT good at languages.) It wasn’t all bad, though; while there Becky discovered they have bottles of wine for sale for $15. Room wine!

We thought we were getting out ahead of things by leaving the park half an hour early, but of course the Skyliner line home was absolutely bonkers. And of course in pandemic times it’s only one party per gondola. But it’s still darned efficient, and we were on our way back to Pop and safely in bed in reasonable time.

Next up: back to Epcot we go!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 1/13

And now for my favorite kind of post – the trip report! I’ll be covering my 2020 Marathon trip. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

Hello and welcome to the final day of my 2020 Marathon Weekend trip report! Are you here looking to get stressed tf out??? If so, do I have the blog post for you!

Our morning began at 5am. In the still-dark of early morning we rose, showered, dressed, and headed out the door with but one goal in mind: RISE OF THE RESISTANCE.

Luckily there was no real line for bag check/airline check in, and with a Studios bus arriving in a reasonable amount of time we were at the park and through bag security a little after 6:30am. That half hour was spent milling around in a pool of anxious psychic energy as we all waited for the moment of release: BOARDING GROUPS FOR RISE OF THE RESISTANCE.

I asked Erika to go for a boarding group too, since it’s a numbers game, and at 7am we went to town touchpad-smashing in the app. But, alas, a mixup! Erika got through first but had forgotten to add me to her boarding group. So I had her in mine, got an error that she already had a group, I was briefly distracted by discovering Erika had accidentally signed up solo, and THEN I got my own boarding group. She was 35… and I was 80.

Drat.

Not to litter this trip report with every minuscule move we made in an effort to correct this error, so here’s a summary: we talked to several Cast Members at several guest services locations throughout the day, and were told on no uncertain terms that once boarding group filled up the day there was no way to make changes. We finally got someone to agree that, if Erika wanted to ride with me (which she did) despite a lack of overlap in boarding group time windows, that would be allowed.

So what we had now was a numbers game. If we wanted to make our Magical Experience bus to the airport, we needed to head out of the park in the area of 1 – 1:30pm. Group 35 would almost certainly make it – but 80? That was a less certain. It was definitely doable, but it all depended on downtime. Based on early morning boarding group movement, I had around two hours worth of buffer time – but precious little more.

But there was nothing to be done about it but wait and see. We set our sights on other rides, and after grabbing our boarding groups headed immediately for Rock ‘n Roller Coaster. We went through the line so quickly they weren’t even using the preshow rooms. (Incidentally, if we had gone directly to guest services about our boarding group mix-up instead of riding that first, we might’ve gotten it fixed, since backup groups were still available. Oh well; live and learn.)

FORGOT TO DO THE SHOCKER DAMMIT

I had originally made DAK FastPasses for this day before we found out about the whole boarding group thing, but in the interest of keeping focus I cancelled them all and instead picked up a FP+ for Tower of Terror, which we then rode. Ironically, my boarding group distraction kept me from freaking out in anticipation of the drops. Turns out sometimes anxieties can cancel each other out! Who knew?

Erika’s boarding group number was nearing, so we headed over to Galaxy’s Edge, snagging a quick breakfast at Ronto Roasters before setting up camp near Rise. We made a last-ditch effort to see if any CMs would let me sneak in with Erika’s boarding group, but alas, they would not. Not that it mattered overmuch, since Rise of the Resistance was down.

It remained down for about two hours.

Double drat.

I did enjoy the free-range characters.

I had made us another FP+ for Star Tours, so we did that, and thankfully by the time we got out Rise boarding groups were moving again. But I’d lost just about all my buffer time. I called Disney’s Magical Express and convinced them to let me reserve a DME bus 30 minutes later our current one, although they made me agree that if I missed my flight – which was still a solid 2.5+ later – it would not be their fault. Yeah, no, not a problem. (Erika’s flight was an hour later than mine already, so fear not, I was not endangering her in any way. I may be a neurotic mess but at least I’m not a total jerk!)

We stopped by guest services at the front of the park where a very nice CM reprinted our DME info even though as it turns out they don’t usually do that in-park, and then de-stressed with a lovely photographer who very kindly directed us through some photos in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

It was only later I discovered I had spent some portion of the day
with my ears on backwards and it will NEVER NOT BOTHER ME.
Do you have your exit buddy?

After that we headed over to Muppets 3D, but I couldn’t concentrate; every three minutes or so I was discreetly checking the app for boarding group movement. The groups were creeping along, but agonizingly slowly. Growing frantic, I began surveying Twitter for information – once your boarding group is called, how long is the line usually? How much time did I have, really??? I was doing math wildly in my head, calculating the drop-dead time I had to give up the ghost and leave WITHOUT RIDING RISE OF THE RESISTANCE.

I determined that if I prioritized making our Magical Express bus, I wouldn’t make it. But I also knew Uber was a thing that existed, and we were getting so close to boarding group 80. I decided that at 2:15pm, we simply had to abandon our quest.

Boarding group 80 came up at 2:08pm.

Thankfully, even though Erika’s boarding group was closed they let her through to ride with me as promised (which is good because I probably would’ve burst into tears at that point), and after a mere 20 minute wait that included a fortuitous call for parties of two that allowed us to jump some of the line, we were in!

And was it worth it? Oh, hell yeah.

Spoilers ahead, I suppose. To start, I wish I was more of a Star Wars fan; as it stands I respect it and have seen the movies, I’m just not into it, you know? I can only imagine how freakin’ amazing it would be if you lived and breathed by those environments and characters. Because as a tepid fan, I STILL found it awesome.

The first portion in the motion simulator shuttle was well done and unexpected, especially the part where you emerged outdoors. The interstitial bit with the storm trooper room and all the First Order CMs was excellent. The CMs organizing people into ride groups were clearly given freedom to role play; I swear I overheard one guy speaking with a mock German accent. Our CM was a petite college girl who was a tad too small and adorable to be convincing, but she did her level best to interrogate us.

Once the doors opened for the second, dark ride portion, the CMs there too were clearly playing characters, and they called our attention to the droid piloting our car before sending us out into the ship. (Ship? Star? Were we on the Death Star*? I honestly don’t remember. See what I mean about being a tepid fan?)

* “What’s that?” “It’s the Death Star.” “What does it do?” “IT DOES DEATH.”**
** “I shall have the pasta alla arrabiata.”

Anyway, I won’t do a blow-by-blow description of the ride, but suffice it to say it was impressive. The sets were massive, the details were plentiful, and I always like to see audio-animatronics. Give me a dark ride over a roller coaster any day! My favorite part was probably, you know, keeping it vague, when the one guy does the one thing with the laser and the ceiling. You know? End potential spoilers.

And so the ride ended and we boarded a bus back to Animal Kingdom Lodge with satisfaction in the knowledge of a job well done. We grabbed our bags from bell services, got a very comfortable Uber to the airport, and were still there in plenty of time to get through security and pick up dinner before our flights. I mean, sure, in essence I paid $35 to ride Rise of the Resistance, what with the Uber charges and all, but that’s not the point. The point is that I set out to ride it and ride it I did. Victory! Victory in our time!

So ends the high-stakes tale of WDW Marathon Weekend 2020. As always, it was full of honor and glory.

Thank you so much for reading this trip report! It’s truly my favorite type of post to write. Occasionally I like to bust one out and navel-gaze as I relive race triumphs and nostalgic moments; it’s probably a solid 85% of the reason I keep this humble little blog going.

runDisney and WDW are not without their faults, but they both truly bring me tremendous joy. I hope I passed on just a little of that joy as you read.

Tune in here in the coming weeks for a couple bonus tidbits in the form of food reviews. See ya real soon!

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

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 1/09

And now for my favorite kind of post – the trip report! I’ll be covering my 2020 Marathon trip. Onward!

I was coming from my parents’ house in NC this year, and my dad very graciously drove me to the airport. Guys, the Wilmington airport is SO TINY. There are literally only three airlines there and you can stand in the center of the terminal and see EVERY SINGLE GATE. Like, in the ENTIRE airport. It’s bonkers.

I did experience one small adventure even in this scaled-down setting – my crotch set off the TSA scanner. >D The TSA lady said it was because my running pants were almost perfectly smooth aside from the seam down the middle, which the machine evidently did not like. Go figure.

Luckily my first flight took off on time, and even my second flight out of Atlanta went off without a hitch; despite my high anxiety over, oh, everything, I actually made it into Orlando early. I still managed to push back our first FP+ of the day while waiting in the airport, just to be safe.

Disney had sent my Magical Express tags to the wrong place, sadly, so I had to pick up my own luggage. Well, actually, I didn’t have to – according to the DME lady I spoke to on the phone, I could give my baggage claim ticket to the people at the DME check in area and they would still get my bag. But I was leery of potentially losing all my race stuff, so I decided to get my own bag anyway.

Miraculously my flight’s bags were already spilling out onto the carousel when I arrived, and there I also found my trip buddy Erika. We grabbed my bag, hopped on the bus, and hightailed it over to Pop Century.

We weren’t there long, though; after a quick-change and bag check, we grabbed a gondola for the Studios. Can I just tell you how much I freaking LOVE the gondolas? They’re so low-stress! No waiting! No wondering! Will the bus be there when I arrive? What if the next one doesn’t arrive? What if the bus is there but too full? None of that with the gondola, my friends. I adore it.

Anyway, we arrived in plenty of time for our Slinky Dog Dash FP+, and I was finally able to ride the coaster everyone’s been talking about. It was super cute and fun, but definitely not the 85+ minute wait worth of fun it seems to average on the daily. I’d totally ride again with a FP but not without one.

We were overdue for lunch, so we moseyed on over to Woody’s Lunchbox (review to come), which was a mad scene. Hell, the whole park was a mad scene. Rather than fight it, and with our next FP+ not for some hours, we chose to exit the park and head over to the race expo a day earlier than planned.

I had pondered getting an Uber for this part, to save time, but the Skyliner was so quick and easy coming over we elected to just gondola back to Pop and take the bus from there. Wide World of Sports was business as usual, with bib pickup being fairly smooth. We took a quick spin through the expo for our shirts and, since we were there, for me to grab some Clif Shots (mocha please!), but we headed out in short order. (I’ve discovered at this point I prefer to do my own KT Tape.)

On our way out (I think), we saw a line for Goofy, and being Goofy Challengers we obviously had to snag a photo with him.

From there we went into the official merchandise building, and may I just say that whoever made the decision to make it separate from the main expo deserves a raise – it’s so much more pleasant now that you don’t have to stand in line for the privilege of being squished into a too-small space.

I found Pat a shirt!

Anyway, we went in there, and were dismayed to find that the only Goofy Challenge merch was a single “I Did It” shirt. 🙁 I guess it’s possible it sold out before we got there? But it was only the second day of expo and there was plenty of merch for the other races and even Dopey, so…?

Ah well; that much less to drop money on. Erika picked some stuff out, including a jacket I had been eyeing up for, oh, I don’t know, three years? And the graphic on the back was even cuter this year. But I talked myself out of it because what do I need a jacket for in Puerto Rico?

So I picked out a Tervis insulated travel mug and got in the checkout line. And as I watched Erika buy the jacket I coveted, I thought to myself – I won’t live in PR forever, right? I’ll be cold someday. And I’ve wanted that jacket for ages. Thus after making my purchase I turned right around, grabbed the jacket, got back in line, and bought it, and I continue to regret nothing.

We took the bus back to Pop to drop off our purchases in our now-ready room, then took the oh-so-simple Skyliner back to the Studios. We had been in position to miss our Star Tours FP+, but I managed to push it back while we were on the bus. We were able to make it to Star Tours where we had a fun new adventure on what the internet tell me is Kef Bir, plus I want to say the final battle from the latest movie? Also Lando Calrissian was there! I love Lando!

From there we embarked upon our first journey to Batuu; we started by taking a lap, just to get acquainted with the very impressive area.

From there we got in line for Oga’s Cantina. Full review to follow, but suffice it to say even this lukewarm Star Wars fan was impressed and digging it!

After our prescribed two rounds at Oga’s (although we were offered a third – rebellious!), we slipped into line at Smuggler’s Run, where the wait was only posted at 35 minutes. We wound up assigned as pilots, and it was super fun! I was the right pilot, with the up-and-down, and while to be honest I couldn’t really see more than a minor adjustment on screen based on what I did I got a huge kick out of the experience. I think we got 100% completion? Or something? I’ll have to pay closer attention next time.

The park was closed at this point, but we stopped in a gift shop on our way out – and found the coveted Redd ears! I immediately bought a pair because I am at times a suggestible follower. Shut up; they’re adorable! ;P

And then it was time to head back. We jumped in the line for the gondolas and while it was predictably a bit long it moved quite efficiently. And when we got off to transfer to Pop, there was hardly any line at all! Seriously, guys, the Skyliner is THE BUSINESS.

We popped (ha!) into the Pop food court for dinner (further discussion on these offerings later), then went back to the room to chill before heading to bed. In the morning: the Magic Kingdom!

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!

In Which Jenn Shares Another Favorite WDW Christmas Music Loop

Ah, the official start of the Christmas season! Last year I marked the occasion with a brief love letter to my favorite WDW Christmas music loop, and this year I am excited to carry on that tradition!

Funny thing is, I may seem to contradict myself here – when I declared my (strong, continuing!) love for the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Christmas music loop in 2018, I provided as part of my reasoning its uniqueness. In the process I noted that a lot of holiday loops can sound a little generic, being familiar renditions of carols and all that.

Well, this year I want to share with you my second favorite WDW holiday music loop, which consists of… familiar renditions of carols.

Sort of.

I’m talkin’ ’bout the Echo Lake loop in Hollywood Studios, where they’re not just playing carols – they’re playing old Hollywood carols. Think Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, etc. As a huge proponent of anything you might see on TCM, I’m into it.

And! While a lot of the songs are indeed well-known carols, several are remnants of a bygone era. I mean, maybe you already knew Kay Starr’s “The Man with the Bag,” but I did NOT, and I freakin’ love it. Dean Martin’s “Marshmallow World” – nifty. Ella Fitzgerald’s “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” – iconic. Ella Fitzgerald’s “Christmas Island” – I must learn this immediately.

Like 50% of it is a love letter to Ella Fitzgerald, which I am fine with. Which reminds me – she also does my all-time favorite carol, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” Sure, so do a lot of people. But she does it WITH THE ORIGINAL, CORRECT LYRICS. When I tell you how much the fake happy lyrics irk me… Hallelujah, indeed!

So yeah. Give Echo Lake’s Christmas music a spin. Or just play AKL’s for the 87th time this month; I’ll be right behind you.

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

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Lunch At The Brown Derby Lounge

The trip report proper is over, but we’re not done yet – I’ve still got lots of thoughts, including food reviews and photos! You can see all the posts in this report here. Onward!

My final restaurant review for this trip report was probably my favorite of the trip, edging out even our meal of California Grill for sheer enjoyment.

The timing worked out so that we rope-dropped the restaurant, filing in with a small handful of people at noon and selecting our own seat toward the back by the railing. This turned out to be a lovely location, as we could see the Galaxy Far, Far Away show and Captain Phasma’s March of the First Order. Not that we hadn’t seen the latter enough already, mind you, but it’s always nice to enjoy a show with your meal.

I had been deeply saddened to see that the champagne flight had been recently yanked from the menu just before my arrival again, even though even now it’s listed on the official Disney online menu. But then several things we DID get AREN’T, so I’m not sure anyone’s entirely clear on what the Lounge serves…?

Anyway, in an effort to capture some bubbly magic, I started off with the champagne cocktail, consisting of Fairy Tale Iron Horse sparkling wine, elderflower liqueur, and bitters. Fun fact: bitters are bitter; the aftertaste wasn’t my jam. I liked the bubbles but it’s a pass from me.

Pat got a whiskey sour and indeed that’s what it was. I made him take my maraschino cherry too because BLEH.

We started off the food portion of our meal with conchita pibil steamed buns, which came topped with hot sauce and pickled onion. These were AWESOME, both in texture and taste; but then I’ll eat just about anything in a steamed bun, and I dig on pickled vegetables. Pat liked them too if that counts for anything.

This was quickly followed by an item our server told us was new to the menu but already his favorite: tamarind glazed pork belly, accompanied by chorizo, plaintain, sweet potato hash, and mango pico de gallo. I challenge you to find one thing in that list that doesn’t promise beauty and wonder. Can’t do it, can you? So of course this was excellent, led by a rich, delicious pork belly.

For my second round, I went for the Derby Cocktail, consisting of Whiskey, honey syrup, and grapefruit juice. I liked this one quite a bit – the whiskey was nicely tempered by the honey which was in turn cut by the acidity of the grapefruit juice. Bonus: it came with a derby glow cube!

Pat got red wine. Boring. But at least it was a malbec, so, good choice.

For our final food item we selected the cheese and charcuterie board. The menu is kind of vague as to what you’ll be receiving exactly, probably to give the kitchen some wiggle room. We wound up with baguette slices, pickles and olives along side prosciutto, salami, pate, and an assortment of tasty but unremarkable cheese. Really this was charcuterie at its most basic. It was good, because of course it was good, but it had nothing on what was presented at the California Grill a few days prior.

We wiled away a lovely, leisurely lunch at the Brown Derby Lounge, with good food, good drinks, excellent service, and no ADR required. Get there right at noon for lunch, and thank me later.

This ends my food coverage for our April trip, but I may have one or two more posts up my sleeve…

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: 4/24

It’s trip report time again! I love trip reports! I’m recapping my April 2017 trip to WDW for the Dark Side Half. You can see all the posts in this report here. Onward!

The last full day. The last day of true safety.

After my sleep-deprived-and-zombified antics of the night prior, I woke feeling incredibly refreshed. I all but hopped out of bed with my alarm. I showered and dressed with a light heart before waking a considerably crankier Pat, because he’s always cranky when you first wake him up. He later pointed out that, this being the case, I should rouse him from bed any time I want when at Disney since he’ll cheer up once he’s in the park. Though this sounds risky I’m totally taking advantage of that note next time we go.

We finally got the bus timing right and were off to the Studios in short order. Upon arrival, they had a red carpet and performers out entertaining/interviewing the crowd, which was a nice touch.

Our first stop was Rock ‘n Roller Coaster for FastPass #1. Pat was incredibly disappointed to see that Steven Tyler’s shocker hand gesture had indeed been digitally (no pun intended but I laughed when I realized) removed. We realized too late – just as we were getting off the ride – that for our ride photo we should’ve done the shocker in memorium. We vowed to correct this mistake later in the day if possible.

Then it was back over to Hollywood Boulevard for coffee at the Trolley Car Cafe, where we coincidentally caught the March of the First Order again. The First Order marches A LOT, as we would soon see…

We poked around a few gift shops before backtracking to Sunset for our Tower of Terror FP+, which I booked purely because I love my boyfriend. ToT and I have had… OUR UPS AND DOWNS (pun 100% intended and I laughed immediately). This is to say that while once the ride starts I enjoy myself, the anticipation freaks me out. But I survived my trip to the Twilight Zone.

It felt like snack time, so we followed some free-range stormtroopers (“DO YOU HAVE YOUR IDENTIFICATION????” they said to the Spanish-speaking toddler, who was all ????) back to Sweet Spells where we picked up one of those “Minnie’s Bake Shop” soft bake cookies that are kind of amazing. You know, that you can also get packaged but they’re still inexplicably good?

I’m not 100% sure about this but we MAY have caught some of the March AGAIN while we ate our cookie. I wouldn’t be surprised.

We caught a small bit of the Jedi Training kid thing before taking advantage of our Star Tours FastPass. I was very disappointed to get the pod race AND Boba Fett, because those are the segments I somehow ALWAYS get, but I was pleased by the BB-8 interstitial. Also C3PO called some podracers “ruffians” and I have a cat named Ruffian, so.

Lunch was to be at Brown Derby Lounge, but we were a few minutes shy of opening. Some Streetmosphere actors were performing nearby, so we wandered over – the cowboy and his companion from park opening as mentioned above. The cowboy had some pretty good jokes, I thought, but I’m down for some bad jokes a la Garrison Keillor, so you by the judge:

“My cowboy friend’s house burned down. It’s sad, but I did warn him. I said: don’t you know you can’t build your home on the range?”

“Some of my cowboy friends went to England. They went into a pub, and the bartender said: I’m sorry, I can’t have chaps here.” <– or something like that

And then they drove off in a tiny car. The Disney difference!

Yes, my friends, we rope-dropped a restaurant: we were one of a small parade that marched into the Brown Derby Lounge at precisely noon. I’ll save a full review for a later post, but suffice to say it was pretty awesome. Also we saw the Star Wars shows like 87 times. Pat would love to recite all of Captain Phasma’s March of the First Order lines for you if you’re interested.

While eating I had managed to snag another RnR FastPass, but we still had some time to kill before it opened. Once again proving my love, I agreed to do Tower of Terror again on standby with a posted wait of 30 minutes. I’d say we were in the library after about 25. I survived, even!

From there we cashed in on our RnR FastPass, where “Sweet Emotion” played as we threw up twin shockers for the photo. We were delighted to see it didn’t get censored in the photo display area – but it somehow disappeared in our photo package! 🙁 I don’t think the photos got flagged, either, because we had some mysterious strangers’ photos instead. Same thing happened during our first Splash Mountain go-round. Bummer.

This closed out our Studios plans, so we exited the park accompanied by the sweet, sweet sound of the March of the First Order. Over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, my Very Favorite Park!

I snagged an Everest FastPass on the bus, so we did that first. Three times, based on the PhotoPass evidence. We rode it so many times I don’t even remember all of it. NEVER ENOUGH EVEREST!

Shocker’s Revenge

Then I dragged Pat over to what might be my Very Favorite Place in my Very Favorite Park: Harambe!

Before I go any further, I must be the bearer of bad tidings: my friends, Kusafiri’s paw print brownie is no longer a thing. It does not exist. Pat was quite devastated. I, too, suffer.

Ah well; couldn’t be helped. Instead we scooted over to Dawa Bar for some cheering drinks. While there, I made an instant friend! A girl came up to me and correctly identified my Alice dress as being from Hot Topic. We had a mini-Hot Topic amazing-Disney-stuff love fest and it was awesome. Seriously, guys. Get on this.

I insisted on staying for a Burudika show (THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, ESTELLE), but was able to tear myself away-post performance for a recently acquired Dinosaur FP. Honestly, we didn’t really need it. For some reason people were leaving the park in droves. I don’t know if everyone’s just trained to leave at 5pm even though hours have been extended, or they’re waiting for Pandora, or what, but there was a mass exodus as early as probably 4pm. Weird.

Indeed, we so little needed our FP that when the FP lined got blocked by a massive group of slow-moving individuals led by the world’s most cautious ECV driver, we hopped the rope into the regular line and still walked right into the briefing room.

Then I rode Dinosaur tipsy. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

On the way out we picked up a shirt for Pat’s niece, who has recently discovered what we all know: dinosaurs are awesome. While purchasing I had a lovely chat with a CM who agreed that DAK definitely is the best park, and prompted me to perform the Wilderness Explorer’s Salute or whatever the hell it is. Drunk me is a chatter.

A quick scroll through the MDE app showed wait times were plummeting everywhere. We ran over to Everest and enjoyed an almost wait-free ride, then shared Fireball shots at the Thirsty River bar before I hustled Pat back to one last Kilimanjaro safari trip on the theory that at this later time the animals may be more active. Which they kind of were? The wildebeest were holding it down, anyway. We waited maaaaybe 20 minutes, max.

I had picked up one more Everest FP, just to be safe, so we headed back to Serka Zong. One more round of Fireball shots from Thirsty River and then we headed off on our Himalayan adventure in the setting sun.

Pat wanted to have one more good, sit-down meal before we left, and some heated refreshing finally yielded a Boatwright’s ADR for 9:15pm. Leaving the park was the smart move if we wanted to be on time… and we made it like 15 feet before turning around and zipping through Everest one more line-free time. Bonus: it was finally dark! I love Everest in the dark!!

Then it was really time to go – Pat didn’t want to stay for Rivers of Light and to be honest none of the reviews have made me crazy eager. Don’t get me wrong, I want to see it, but I’m not worried about it; I’ll catch it next time. I was sorry to walk by the dance party that was going down by the Tree of Life, but we had an ADR to make.

We were able to pick up a bus back to Riverside pretty quickly, but just for safety I pushed our Boatwright’s reservation back by 15 minutes. We went straight from the bus to the restaurant – more on this to come.

One loop through the General Store gift shop for those super amazing Goofy-brand sour gummy worms and then back to the room to sleep. Up next: 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!