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wendinator

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wendinator last won the day on November 9 2017

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About wendinator

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  1. http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2019/07/02/epcots-electric-umbrella-to-close-as-part-of-massive-future-world-transformation/
  2. Now it's Monday morning. The plan was to rope drop Epcot, but I told the rest of the gang that I didn't have it in me and I would meet up with them a bit later. Instead, I went to Disney Springs to cross another thing off my to do list. At 9:30 on a Monday morning, you don't have to try very hard to find a parking spot! I made a bee line for the Joffrey's near the Boathouse. When I was there in January I tried on two separate occasions to get a drink with a Mickey printed on top. I was unsuccessful both times. These donuts sure looked good! I did not try one. Have you ever had one? Are they any good? Fortunately the Mickey printing machine was working this time. And I remembered to use my AP discount too. I forgot, however, to ask for a small, so got more than I really needed. Here's my Mickey on a latte. After a few sips he was a little worse for the wear. Is it better to start at the feet and make him suffer, or start at the top so he doesn't feel the pain? Or am I overthinking this? With that mission accomplished, I headed over to Epcot to regroup. I met up with my sister. She was chilling at Sunshine Seasons while the rest of the group rode Soarin. LPT: There are self-serve pop machines here that dispense really nice cold water. Good for refilling your bottle. We rode Living with the Land. Our boat had a VIP suite at the back. I know, I know, it's for wheelchairs. But I'd still feel like the Queen of the boat if I got to sit there by myself. I'm going to try requesting it sometime and see how it goes. It felt like snack time after this. The kids took their refillable popcorn bucket over to the nearby cart and got two flavors... though admittedly I forget which ones. And then we went over to the Electric Umbrella so I could get a cronut. One for me, and one for the kids to share. Mobile order was quick and easy. Worth noting that Electric Umbrella (if it's still open when you read this) also has self-serve drink machines where you can refill your water bottle. We rode SSE and got stopped in the California garage for a short bit. The group split up, and I took one kid with me. He made one of those Coco characters at the kiosk. Nothing goes better with sugar than sugar, so we shared a school bread. Man, the chairs in that seating area are LOUD! He wanted to go off and do things on his own, so I was by myself again for a while. And then I discovered that the Play Disney Parks app has stuff for you to do at the Kidcot stations. You have to find a specific puzzle piece and point your camera at it, and then it unlocks a photo frame that you can add to a picture. Like this. Once I discovered this I figured I might as well try to collect the set. Apparently landscape is not supported. You can see the puzzle piece over my shoulder in this picture. I didn't quite get them all on this day. Still a few left to collect. I made a note to myself to do this wine walk some day. But not today. I caught the tail end of the Voices of Liberty. Regrouped with one of the kids in time for more sugar! I'd never had these before but heard they were good. The woman was happy to give me an empty cup, so I used a spoon and put about half of it in a separate cup for the kid. It's two kinds of slushie and some vanilla soft serve in the middle. Very patriotic and very tasty. I'd get that one again. It's called the American Dream from Fife & Drum. My sister's MIL took the two kids to Beaches & Cream for dinner. My sister's husband had a nasty cold at this point, so they went back to the time share, stayed in and rested. I got this picture taken as I left Epcot to go to my last minute dinner plan. When you find yourself without a dinner plan, there's only one place to go! I take that picture most times I'm at the Fort. It's been there since I was a kid, so I'm sure that means sometime soon it will disappear. I rested comfortably while I waited for my table. I got a table on the lower level near a very large, fairly noisy group. It was pretty dark down there, so apologies for the quality of this food picture. Unfortunately this wasn't my best Trail's End dining experience. The ribs were VERY tough, to the point of almost being inedible. And my favourite coconut/carrot salad thing wasn't on offer. My server said they don't make it every day and that it would probably be back the next day. Ah well. Even a bad meal at Trail's End is still pretty good! About the time I was finishing up, my sister texted and asked if I could swing by the Beach Club and retrieve the MIL & boys, so that's what I did, and that was the end of Monday.
  3. There is a photopass "photographer" near where I'm standing (I'm facing the Plaza restaurant/ice cream parlor). They're really just a wrangler, because the camera is mounted on top of the building. They tell you where to stand and where to look, then they press the button that takes the picture. You may see people lining up for no apparent reason - there's a masking tape line on the ground to keep people far enough back that they aren't too visible in your shot. I've circled the area in red on this satellite view. Castle at the top, train station at the bottom. Tomorrowland on the right.
  4. There was a hippo expert with our group at the hippo pool and she was feeding them. I don't remember there being a barrier, other than an embankment. One of the hippos was very food motivated and happy to be fed. The other got bored and left. I'd be surprised if they were interested in charging at the group. Moving along to Sunday. I started the morning off with a quick stop at CVS for dental floss. Such excitement! While I was there I noticed the Halloween candy was out, and this one caught my eye. Glad it's just the packaging that glows in the dark and not the candy! After that, it was a drive to the Contemporary. Here's my parking reminder. We were headed for brunch at the California Grill! I discovered too late that valet parking is included, but I think I prefer to self park anyway. One of the reasons we wanted to try this was the glowing review from Josh. We were about to find out whether it was worth it or not. As advertised, those of us of drinking age were greeted with a mimosa. They also had some fruity non-alcoholic drinks but while I saw them being offered to other guests, our non-drinkers didn't get them. We asked our server after we'd been seated and saw other tables with them. The way the brunch works is there's a buffet, but you also get to order a main entrée. Here were our choices. Because my sister does gluten-free, she was given a menu that showed her the GF entrée choices. There were exactly two - the omelette, and steak & eggs. She was pretty disappointed to say the least. She asked our server if she could have the lobster eggs benedict but on a gluten free bun instead. The server checked and came back and said yes. Which made us wonder... Why doesn't the menu offer that? Surely we weren't the first people to ask for it? While they made the entrées, I went to the buffet to get started. Here's a sad little plate of sushi, meat, cheese, and a deviled egg. They also had a station that were making these - a cake (muffin?) with a scoop of ice cream, warm bourbon sauce, and some corn flakes. Definitely breakfast food! For the gluten-free, they were happy to give you a scoop of ice cream with the bourbon sauce on top. Yum! I ordered the pineapple-coconut french toast. I was expecting it to be very rich, but it wasn't. If you order it, ask for more of the pineapple topping. It was OK, but I kind of regret not going with the pancakes and sharing a bit of each. Apparently you can order more than one entrée, but I don't have that kind of appetite. Here's how the eggs benedict turned up, which she said was delicious. And the men got the bison burger. Dessert was this platter to share. The little cinnamon buns weren't worth eating, but the chocolate bark and macarons were good. The red things were a kind of fruit jelly, like a gumdrop. By this point we were pretty stuffed anyway. A note about the mimosas. They did indeed seem to be bottomless. Though our server wasn't particularly attentive so we didn't get to test it. I was really the only drinker at the table. The "juice" in the mimosa was the orange boba balls at the bottom (like in bubble tea), so it was really more like drinking straight up sparkling wine. The kids ordered OJ so I stole some of theirs to blend in with mine. Josh mentioned in his review that they had a fantastic server and that was part of the reason why he enjoyed it so much. I wish I knew who he had so we could have asked for them, because our server was a dud. It was a pretty expensive meal, even with TIW. Definitely an infrequent splurge and nothing that I'd beg to do again. Our plan for after brunch was to head to MK since we were so close. The kids wanted to walk to MK, and my sister and her husband wanted to go back and change. It was at this point that I realized 3 mimosas for breakfast + a rental car = bad idea. So I got my sister's MIL to drive the rental from the Contemporary to the TTC. Here's our parking reminder at the TTC. This was my first time at the TTC on this trip and I didn't realize there was construction going on there. The tram doesn't drop you off near security anymore, it drops you off before the underpass. Not only that, but at the end of the day we found that the signage wasn't very good for getting back to where your car is, especially since there are temporary barricades up. It made for some hot, sweaty, frustrating moments. Not very magical. We met up with the kids, but first I needed a bio break. I noticed that the stalls near Auntie Gravity's had these indicator signs at the top so you could see if the stall was occupied or not. People clearly don't look at them anyway, because there was still a lineup despite availability. We went on the People Mover. I checked out the Tron construction. Unsurprisingly it's made a lot of progress since I saw it in January. We went on Buzz Lightyear. I can't imagine why the kids don't want to ride with me, can you? One of the kids Googled how to get a high score, so he got a Galactic Hero sticker and was pretty happy about that. There was some interesting construction going on beside the castle. I assume this was part of the pathway widening. You know you've raised them right (or wrong, depending your perspective I guess) when you can get kids to ride Small World without a fight. And so we did. My obligatory "beginning of the ride in case you get stuck and need to know how long you've been here" photo. And my hippo friend. The screens at the end of the ride weren't showing names this time. We split up for a bit and I went on a little side mission to Pinocchio Village Haus. First up was to get a cup of ice water, and while I was doing that I saw this sign. I'm a sucker for glow cubes, but this one didn't tempt me. My real mission, however, was to go see the wish book. So that's what I did. I didn't add a wish to the book. I'm already far luckier than I have any right to be. But it's nice to know I could put one there if my luck runs out. I regrouped with some of the family for the next important mission - ice cream! MIL and a kid went and got Dole Whips, but I had something else in mind. As you can see it was doing a pretty good job of melting quickly in the Florida heat. I walked from Sunshine Tree Terrace over to Aloha Isle and it's a miracle I didn't get any on my clothes/shoes. Especially considering it stained my hand. We went on the Jungle Cruise and saw O2H. We rode POTC and a wild Jack appeared in the exit gift shop. I got the zoomy picture taken. When browsing the Emporium these buttons made me laugh. My husband saw the picture and asked me to buy them for him. I told him, "You are NOT wearing that to your mother's funeral!" This Haunted Mansion clock was neat, but not $80 neat. We called it a day after that and took the monorail back to the TTC. A pretty decent step count considering the first half of the day was nothing but sitting and stuffing my face! 14.1 km is 8.76 miles. And that was the end of Sunday.
  5. Three guesses and the first two don't count!
  6. We left the park after the Wild Africa Trek and had a rest and a change of clothes. My sister had made us an ADR at Le Cellier, so off we went to Epcot. Parking reminder! I had the kids with me - who aren't so kid-like anymore, and after we got in we thought we had enough time for Journey Into Imagination, but we ended up bailing from the line and going straight to Le Cellier. When I tried to check us in they said they were running at least half an hour behind schedule, and they wouldn't officially check us in until our whole party was there. The waiting area was pretty cramped, and there were some unhappy campers due to the delay. We found some seats and enjoyed the air conditioning, and I did the activities on the children's menu. Eventually we were seated and we had an affable server from near Ottawa - not terribly far from where we live. We impressed him with our knowledge of tiny Ottawa area towns. Arnprior! Carp! Smiths Falls! Anyway, our plan for dinner was to share some appetizers and have dessert. Part of the motivation for this is that we had some serious eating planned for the next day. They start you off with this nice assortment of tasty carbs. We got one each of their two different kinds of poutine - "signature" and "beef bourguignon". Frankly I don't remember which is which, nor which one we preferred. Suffice to say you can't go too far wrong with fries, gravy, and cheese curds. FYI, poutine is drunk people food. It originated in Quebec as a nice salty, fatty snack to end a night of drinking. Sorry for the weird colors - that's what I get for taking pictures in a dimly lit room with my cell phone. We also got some brussel sprouts - that don't look much like brussel sprouts. But I assure you they were good. And some mac & cheese. When contemplating our dessert options we noticed that the dessert menu on MDE looked nothing like the dessert menu we were presented in the restaurant. I assume this happens fairly often. Anyway this was my nanaimo bar inspired dessert. If you've never had a nanaimo bar (they're pretty common in Canada), they're a great little sugar bomb. I took some to Tennessee once for my coworkers and they said they were too sugary. No such thing! And yes, that's Duke Caboom printed onto chocolate. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanaimo_bar After dessert our group split up. I went on SSE with one of the kids. I forgot to mention that my sister's MIL was with us for part of the trip. She wanted to see Illuminations before it ends, so one of the two kids came with us and we went to the second floor of Japan and watched Illuminations from there. There was a woman standing in front of us who had some Mickey ears on that were very brightly lit. She'd clearly forgotten they were on because when I asked her to turn them off she apologized and quickly obliged. After Illuminations was over we made our way out of the park and back to the time share. That was the end of Saturday.
  7. You can see in the alligator (or were they crocodiles?) pic that it had started to rain a bit. In fact, it was wonderfully overcast, and only a light rain, which kept us from getting too hot. Couldn't have asked for better considering it was August in Florida. At one point I told my watch I was on an outdoor walk workout so it would track where we went. The map ended up looking like this. Part way through the tour you get to take off the vest/harness and get into your private safari vehicle. When we got to the giraffes, we couldn't have asked for better. Apparently giraffes don't like rain, so they all gathered together under the trees. How cool is that? Look how close we were! I should point out that although you are welcome to take your own pictures, they also have someone taking pictures with a good camera, and at the end of the tour they give you a link to download the photos that become available in a couple of days. The safari truck takes you to a building where there's a bathroom and also a snack. I liked the floor in the bathroom. Looks like M&Ms! Each person gets their own tiffin for the food. This one has the gluten free label on it for my sister. I didn't take pictures of her food, but here's mine. The flower is edible, and there's three little containers on the top layer - a curry chicken salad, fruit salad, and cured meats. Here's the bottom layer. Shrimp, a salmon roll/wrap, and little pitas to go with the hummus. All very good, and also served with POG/jungle juice. After your break you get back on the safari vehicle for more animal watching. Disney contributes a portion of the tour fee to conservation, and at the end of the tour, each participant is given a rock and told to place it in the bin corresponding to where they'd like their money to be spent. These were our tour guides for the Wild Africa Trek and they were great! It was Daniel's last day as a tour guide, as he was about to start a new job as a science teacher. I'm sure he will be great!
  8. Our morning was booked at Animal Kingdom. Here's my parking reminder, taken at 10 am. Cross one thing off my to-do list... I saw Kevin! But here was the big plan for the morning! None of us had ever done this before. When you sign in you have to empty your pockets and put everything in a locker, and if you intend to wear sunglasses or take a cell phone, they both have to have a strap. Fortunately, the CMs have a LOT of straps! After you put your stuff in a locker, you get weighed (no lie!). I'm glad this happened at the BEGINNING of my trip and not the end! You can see the CM hiding the weight in case you don't want to know. The purpose of the weigh in is just to get the right vest/harness. They also give you: a name tag, a water bottle, and a little pager-sized audio receiver and earpiece so you can hear the guide during the trek. Here's the back side of our group with us all in our vest/harness gear. At certain parts during the trek they attach that umbilical cord to a guide/restraint system. Presumably so you don't get too close or don't fall in. Here we are using it at the hippo pool. It was very cool to get up close. And a chart for the hippos. When you're not attached to the restraint, you walk through some wooded areas on uneven ground. I wouldn't recommend this for anyone with mobility issues. This also might not be the activity for you if you're afraid of heights. Or if you're afraid of vultures. Or if you're afraid of giant reptiles.
  9. I get so many good ideas from other people's trip reports (and I really miss *cough* certain ones), that I thought I'd do another trip report here for your reading enjoyment. So grab a cup of your libation of choice, strap in, and enjoy the ride! My sister and her family are DVC members and also have a time share. Between these two things and them both being teachers, they'd made plans to be in Florida for a nice chunk of time this past summer. They invited me to join them for two weeks and I gladly accepted. I booked my one-way flight to Orlando for August 16, and a rental car, and we went to town on booking ADRs and activities. I'd drive home with the crew in their minivan on August 31. Everything was set! And then life threw a little wrinkle my way... My Mother-in-Law died on August 13, and the funeral was scheduled for August 29... in England. I made arrangements for a flight home on August 26, and a flight to England on August 27. As soon as I found out, my sister got busy with Guest Relations and was able to move the two things I'd pre-paid and would have missed: MNSSHP on August 27, and the HEA fireworks dessert party on August 28 - my birthday! She did all of this without me so I don't know how much of a hassle it was, but I'm very grateful to her and the CM for making all the changes. So now that you know a bit of the background, here's how the trip went. I had to work on Friday, so I scheduled an evening flight. Here's when it was scheduled to leave/arrive. When I got to the airport it was pretty busy, but I had no trouble clearing security and customs. Apparently that experience was not the norm, as there was a significant system outage that was slowing customs clearance to a crawl. My Nexus card was the reason I escaped all the headaches, but I could tell lots of people weren't as fortunate. There were lots of people running to their gates to catch their flights, and lots of people being paged to the gate who were about to miss their flight. I used up all my luck with customs, however, as my flight was delayed due to a mechanical issue. And then delayed again. And then a plane change and a gate change. We finally boarded the plane only to have a maintenance technician get on. This did not bode well. We were in danger of leaving Toronto too late to beat the landing curfew at MCO. They managed to close the airplane door with only 30 seconds to spare. We took off almost 3 hours late, and landed well after midnight. The terminal was deserted, the stores closed, and a lot of lights off. But I made it! I picked up my rental car and drove to the time share on 192. By the time I got my room key and into the room it was almost 2 am. I was hot, sweaty, and tired! Fortunately the next day wasn't a rope drop day.
  10. I have the California Grill brunch booked for this August so stay tuned for a comparison report later this year!
  11. Yes, Whirlpool is a Nexus only crossing. The card is very handy and there are also Nexus only lanes at several land crossings. Plus expedited lines at many airports as well.
  12. The butchered trees were clearing for the Tron coaster. It's behind the autopia stinky cars. On the trip home I crossed at Peace. For a while it was quite a gamble because of bridge construction that had it down to one lane in each direction. There's also Rainbow and Whirlpool (and Queenston) to choose from, so at least I have lots of options!
  13. It's easy to put the miles behind you when you only have one stomach and one bladder to worry about! :-) i'll be doing the drive north again this coming August with my sister and family, and I don't expect to keep the same pace.
  14. I can't believe I was there at the same time as the Wild Womenz and didn't see you! Looks like you had a great time so far.
  15. It's now Sunday morning and departure day. Time to head back home to the Great White North. It's a bit of a long story that I won't bore you with, but normally I'd get up early and hit the road at like 6 am to start the long drive home. But this time I had a Boma breakfast instead. The ADR was originally for 9 am but I moved it up to 8:30 and then when I couldn't move it up any more, I just showed up early and they seated me just after 8 am. I have come to realize that the Boma breakfast buffet has ruined all other breakfast buffets for me. There is no comparison. Here was round one, with a nod to being healthy with a small bowl of fruit. If you do nothing else at the Boma breakfast, make sure you put the praline sauce on your Mickey waffle. Heck, put the praline sauce on everything, I won't judge. As I was chowing down a couple was shown to the table beside me and it was their first time there, so I gave her my praline sauce tip. She said they were vloggers and asked if they could include the tip in their video. I had no objections. She wrote down the name of their channel so I could follow them. Spoiler: it never did show up on their YouTube channel. MOAR! After stuffing myself to the gills, I waddled to my car. On the upside, at least I wouldn't need to eat for the rest of the day. On the down side, I really could do with a nap. But there was no time for that. It was time to hit the road. There was a LOT of moisture in the area. It rained non-stop from the time I left AKL until just north of Jacksonville. There were several accidents on I-4, fortunately none that affected me at all. Though at one point there was a cop at the side of the road in his wet weather gear encouraging drivers to slow down since the roads were so wet. I'll spare you the details of my progress, but I made it as far north as Morgantown, where I stopped for the night just before 11 pm. About 920 miles. This is the part that had me worried... There was nasty weather coming for Monday. 15 to 20 cm is 6 to 8 inches. Monday morning was another early start. I stopped in Grove City for fuel and it was -16°C (3°F) which was a bit of a shock to the system. I forget what time I made it to the border, but the crossing couldn't have been quicker. By the time I was passing the city where my sister lives, it was just starting to snow and it was also about lunch time so I gave her a call. It turned out she was taking the kids out for lunch at an all you can eat sushi place and asked if I wanted to join them. That was a no brainer! I met them for lunch and handed over the purchases I had for them. We had a good time catching up. By the time I hit the road after lunch for the last 35 miles to get home the snow was REALLY coming down. I'm glad I didn't leave any later than I did. There were many accidents, the roads were getting snow covered, and I was pooped. I pulled into my garage at about 2 pm pleased that I'd dodged the worst of it, and better yet that I don't have to shovel! Thanks to those of you who followed along on my little adventures.
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