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I'm getting too old for this - My last trip being a Theme Park Commando


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We're back. Three years of careful planning, delay due to COVID, the death of my 35 year old son who was supposed to be on this trip with us, many attempts to reserve the Candlelight Processional dining package anywhere in EPCOT, and trying get to all the new things to do... this was a trip of many emotions.

I'm glad we went. Overall, we had a good time, with a lot of laughter, a few tears, a few misunderstandings and some interesting Disney magic.

We flew into Orlando on Southwest, landing at 9:00 pm on Dec 5th. At 8:30 pm, I got a text from Port Orleans French Quarter that our room was not ready. That was odd, but since we weren't even there yet, not an issue. The Magical Express took us to the resort, and while we didn't get an automatic check in, we were able to get a room on the top floor, which we had requested.

We slogged over to building one, which was not the furthest building from the lobby at least. And it was really near the riverboat landing. We dropped off our bags, and went back to Sassagoula's. We got a pizza for dinner (actually love the pizza at the resort!) ,and some beignet's. We've been looking forward to trying those, and they were delicious! Picked up our refillable mugs and got to sleep, ready to wake up at 7:00am to get our Genie+ and ILL reservations for EPCOT on Monday.

I hope it's ok to post a trip report here, even though I am not a camper.  We didn't even make it to the Fort, although we wanted to. 
 

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For Monday, the plan was EPCOT.  9:30am RD time for resort guests.   We woke at 7am and picked up boarding group 93 for Ratatouille, with an estimated 2:35 pm time frame.  I also paid for the ILL to the Frozen,  11:25 am start time.  Then we got our LL for Soarin’ at 12:30pm.  Not too bad for a first day, while trying to figure out exactly how the Genie+ worked. 

One snag we ran into, was that I had linked an account on Genie+ for my husband, that was one I made back in 2014 for FP+ stuff.  It was not his usual MDE account.   So, he had to add his old account on his MDE to use it for Genie+.   He could not book ILL at all, because he had no park reservations or tickets on his MDE account.  It did allow him to book LL for me and the old account though, as long as he did not include his new account. 

The parking lot for EPCOT was open when we got there at 8:15 am.  We went right into the park, and were held in the ally between the guest services building and what is going to be the Guardians ride. The early entry plan was to head for Space 220, and get on the waitlist for the lounge.  The problem hit that the lounge started taking reservations the Wednesday before we got there, so they had ditched the waitlist.  But, the CM for Space 220 didn’t show up until 10:15am to tell the crowd this information, so we all wasted our morning waiting there.

Moving on with just a bit of a sour feel to our day, we wandered slowly to Regal Eagle to get the CP dining plan.  We stopped along the way and got the Linzer cookie from Bavaria, along with the stamp book for the Cookie Stroll.  That was a good cookie!  At Regal Eagle, they opened at 11am, and we easily got our CP reservation for 8:30pm. You have to buy your food immediately to get the CP entry, so an early lunch of American BBQ it is!  I had the pulled pork and Ed had the brisket.  The sauce selection was diverse.  Ed and I both liked the vinegar based sauce.  Probably would never have eaten there otherwise, as we have plenty of good BBQ in Texas.  Still, if you are craving meat, this is a good choice. 

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After lunch, we traveled back to Norway for our Frozen LL.   On our first pass by the line around 10:30, the standby line was all the way out into the main walkway area passing Norway.  When we returned, the standby line was only just outside the door to the ride, at about a 25 minute wait.  We walked right on with the ILL.

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We walked back to the Port of Entry area, and took pictures of and with the 50th anniversary statues there.  Got our Photo Pass photos with Spaceship earth, and one with Figment.   The Chase Visa Disney card photos are in the building next to World of Imagination, by the jumping water fountains.  We got our photos  (Virtual characters only), then walked towards the Land Pavilion.  We saw Winnie the Pooh interacting with a Christmas present out in a field.   It was cute, but sad that he had to be so far from the crowd.  At noon, I picked up at 1pm Living with the Land LL.  Standby was 15 minutes, but I figured 15 minutes saved was still worth it.

 

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2 hours ago, ThemeParkCommando said:

One snag we ran into, was that I had linked an account on Genie+ for my husband, that was one I made back in 2014 for FP+ stuff.  It was not his usual MDE account.   So, he had to add his old account on his MDE to use it for Genie+.   He could not book ILL at all, because he had no park reservations or tickets on his MDE account.  It did allow him to book LL for me and the old account though, as long as he did not include his new account. 

First off, let me say it's great to see a trip report here.  Enjoying reading it! 

But I also have to say, regarding the part I quoted above...I don't know what any of that means but it sounds like the garbage I deal with at work every day.  Technology that is supposed to make things better doesn't work as intended, and we waste more time trying to find a workaround than it would have taken to do it the old way.  Why would I want to do that on vacation?? 

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Thank you for sharing about your trip... I can only imagine how bittersweet this visit was.  You'll be in my prayers this holiday season.

I agree with Dave's comment above regarding the hassle of technology.  Then again... I wish Disney would bring back the ride tickets, so you can balance my comment with that knowledge :lol:

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22 hours ago, DaveInTN said:

First off, let me say it's great to see a trip report here.  Enjoying reading it! 

But I also have to say, regarding the part I quoted above...I don't know what any of that means but it sounds like the garbage I deal with at work every day.  Technology that is supposed to make things better doesn't work as intended, and we waste more time trying to find a workaround than it would have taken to do it the old way.  Why would I want to do that on vacation?? 

Exactly.  The reason he had 2 MDE presences is long, and I really disliked having to figure out the workaround on our first morning there.   Also, SO many restaurants in EPCOT now just give you a QR code and expect you to pull up the menu on your phone.  I really dislike that, too. 

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3 hours ago, twiceblessed....nacole said:

Thank you for sharing about your trip... I can only imagine how bittersweet this visit was.  You'll be in my prayers this holiday season.

I agree with Dave's comment above regarding the hassle of technology.  Then again... I wish Disney would bring back the ride tickets, so you can balance my comment with that knowledge :lol:

LOL..I'm with you, though.  Make entry to the park free, and just sell ride tickets for each experience, the way it used to be.  You would have to keep the reservation system though, because the parks would become unimaginably crowded otherwise.

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Using the LL for Soarin, we got on the ride with only a 5 minute wait, while standby was about 1 hour.   I immediately booked a 3:25 Spaceship Earth LL.  On Soarin, we got the top row, far right side, so we  giggled a lot at our bent building perspective.  It was still fun though.

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After, we walked onto LwtL using our LL.   We then went to the Seas, and walked on the Nemo ride.  Enjoyed the cool air and watched the aquatic wildlife for a bit, then went to SE.  During this time, I noticed that our Rat VQ was starting to get pushed back again, and again.  After SE, we walked onto MS: Orange.  That ride made me cry for a bit.  I had really hoped to enjoy it with my son, so the grief hit hard right then.

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We watched the Rat VQ change from 2:35, 3:10, 4:20, 5:01 and finally settle on 5:50, then the ride went down.  We had a dining reservation at Nine Dragons at 5:00 pm, so headed that way, with a stop in Mexico to ride the Grand Fiesta tour.  I was happy that the cardboard cutouts were gone.  I still like that ride.  We enjoyed the honey sesame chicken at Nine Dragons, with hot and sour soup.  This is one of our favorite EPCOT dining choices.  Still REALLY good.

We slowly strolled around WS afterwards, sad that the Plum wine and green tea slushy is now gone from the Tea kiosk in China.  We picked up a black and white cookie from the Cookie Stroll, and got our stamps.  Can’t say we really liked that cookie, though.  A bit overly sweet.  The disappointment of the day was the kiosk with the Grand Marnier Orange slush was closed.  

Ratatouille came back up around 6:45, so we did get to ride, YAY!  They honor your VQ after time if the ride goes down, or if you were eating.  Just bring your dining receipt if you had a dining conflict.  It was a fun romp, and interesting to watch the dance of the trackless mouse cars.  Afterwards, we did the BatB sing along, then went to the CP.  Our reading was done by Alton Fitzgerald White, who played Mufasa in the Lion King on Broadway.  A powerful voice, lovely to hear him.   The CP was very moving.  Some more tears were shed here.

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After CP, we went down a bit to the left of the CP stage to watch Harmonious.  We were a couple of people out from the rail, but had a nice view of the stargate and the water tacos.  It was a nice show, but I’d rather have seen Illuminations.  This just used too many of the animated movies to try to get the point across.   It felt very Disney-like, but not at all EPCOT-like.  One warning to all.  Take a look at the shoreline where you decide to stay for this show.  They have put firework cannons all along the shore and we were right behind one.  I almost jumped out of my skin at the first shot.   All of us in the area just cracked up laughing after we recovered from the surprise.  It was LOUD!    If those were there for Illuminations, then I never had the pleasure of being near one. 

Since we were still by the CP Stage, our walk back to the rental car was the longest trudge ever, lol.  They were making everyone exit to the right side of future world, so not even the small shortcut from the path by Canada to Imagination area helped.  Thank goodness we got there at RD, so we were at least parked in the first row.

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Your last update makes me realize how long it’s been since I’ve been to WDW, and how much has changed.  I need some help…LL? VQ?  BatB?   I know what Rat is because I’ve read about it but otherwise you could be talking about a theme park in Bangladesh and I’d be no more lost.  😂

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4 hours ago, DaveInTN said:

Your last update makes me realize how long it’s been since I’ve been to WDW, and how much has changed.  I need some help…LL? VQ?  BatB?   I know what Rat is because I’ve read about it but otherwise you could be talking about a theme park in Bangladesh and I’d be no more lost.  😂

Oh dear, so sorry!   LL is Lightning Lane, the replacement for FastPass +.  You have to buy Genie+ at $15 a day per person to be able to use the LL feature.  VQ is Virtual Queue, what they use for the popular ride as a fastpass feature that you don't have to pay for.   ILL is Individual Lighting Lane, the Fastpass+ you have to actually pay for separately, and can be anywhere from $7 to $10 per person.

BatB is Beauty and the Beast.

 

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27 minutes ago, ThemeParkCommando said:

Oh dear, so sorry!   LL is Lightning Lane, the replacement for FastPass +.  You have to buy Genie+ at $15 a day per person to be able to use the LL feature.  VQ is Virtual Queue, what they use for the popular ride as a fastpass feature that you don't have to pay for.   ILL is Individual Lighting Lane, the Fastpass+ you have to actually pay for separately, and can be anywhere from $7 to $10 per person.

BatB is Beauty and the Beast.

 

Thank you.  I’m sure most readers know those acronyms but I haven’t paid much attention to the details of the Genie system so it was all Greek to me.  

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23 hours ago, DaveInTN said:

Thank you.  I’m sure most readers know those acronyms but I haven’t paid much attention to the details of the Genie system so it was all Greek to me.  

Me too Dave, thanks for asking.  Also thank you for answers.

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Urrrrgh.. the worst of my planning was putting the latest closing park first then having to get up for the earliest opening park the next day.  Couldn't be helped, since my reservations to Hollywood Studios for the lightsaber and droid builds were only available on Friday, and my Skipper Canteen lunch was only available on Wednesday or later. 

AK opens at 8am, so Early entry is 7:30am for resort guests.  Went to bed around 11:30pm, and groaned our way out of bed at 5:45am. The morning was beautifully foggy, dew dripping everywhere.  We drove into the parking lot at 6:15 am, and were the 3rd car in the parking lot.  At 7:00am we were already in the park, and walking to Expedition Everest.  I purchased an individual Lightning Lane for Flight of Passage with a 12:05 return time, and got an LL for Kilimanjaro Safari at 11:00am.  When we got to EE, it was down.  No ETA for when it would come up.  We waited in the area for the first half hour, but no joy.   Another early entry wasted, we are having bad luck this trip.  So, I paid for the ILL for EE, with a return at 2:55. We decided to walk the Maharajah trek, but it wasn’t opening until 10am.

One thing I do like about MDE app, is that it tells you when rides are down.  Turns out Navi River ride was down that morning as well.  We decided to go check out Pandora in the pretty misty morning, so we wandered around and searched for PhotoPass spots.

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  At 10am, I picked up a LL for Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King .  We checked in at the Safari five minutes early.  It was still lightly foggy, and the animals were very active.  We saw giraffes running across the savannah,  and the rhino’s came right beside the tour truck, close enough to pet.   The painted dogs were playing, and we even got a glimpse of the new baby hippo.

 

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We had lunch at Satu’li Canteen.   It was the best quick service we used all week.  We had the soba noodle bowl, mine with chicken and hubby’s with shrimp.   We also had the blueberry cream cheese mousse… cleaned that plate and wanted more!  So good!

After lunch, we digested our food and went to FoP near the end of our hour, close to 1pm.  That was a very fun ride, lots of fun ups and downs.  My hubby didn’t even need his Dramamine for it.   Very smooth.   

After lunch, the big IT hiccup started for Disney.  I didn’t realize how big an issue it was, because the only thing that happened to us was that my gift card wasn’t working.  I just shifted to my Disney Visa and didn’t think anything of it.  Apparently,  park entry was affected, gift cards and other  Disney ticketing issues were occurring.  Genie+ was not affected, though.

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We went to Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King, and got on the Lion side of the crowd. My favorite side! I’ve never been a fan of the tumble monkeys, so didn’t miss them, but my husband did. I am not sure why, I am impressed by gymnastics, and I know how much work it takes for a person to be that nimble, but I've never enjoyed watching people flip around.

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After tapping in the LL lane there, I made another LL for Dinosaur! for around 3:45pm.  We had a couple of hours to kill before EE, so we rode the train to Conservation Station.  It’s still very quiet there.  They have an Art of Animation class you can get into , but they were using tablets, not the cool tables they used to have at DisneyQuest, so we didn’t get in on it.   We ducked into the petting area and played with a few goats and a pig.  I really like the animals.  No vet procedures were being done while we were there.

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We rode back to the main area, and walked the Maharaja Trek.  The tigers were pretty active and the birds in the aviary were just everywhere, quite talkative, too.  We grabbed some water and walked into a KiteTails show.  I love kites, so I was happy with the whole thing.  We sat near the big inflatable landing zone, so got to see Baloo and King Louie do their ungainly crash landings.  I think it’s funny, because honestly, there is no good way to land one of those big kites.  Even at all the kite fests I’ve been to, the inflatables just have to be crashed into the ground.

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I noticed they had some Revolution kites on standby, but they didn’t use them in our show.  That was a little disappointing, because I have one of those kites. They have 4 strings, and can fly up, down and sideways.  I have never been able to get mine to stay up, I don’t have the technique.  I was hoping to watch them fly theirs to get some pointers.

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Afterwards, we tapped in our LL for Expedition Everest.   Disco Yeti is still alive and well.   Next up was Flights of Wonder.  There is no Dug and Russel in the act right now, and the birds are just awesome to watch.  I highly recommend this show!

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We went to “It’s Tough to be a Bug!” next.  Only about ¼ full, and no hollering to fill all the seats.  We like this show, it’s still really good.   We walked over to Dinosaur! next,  it was a walkon for both the LL and the Standby lines at about 4:30pm.

When we got off, we checked Navi again, it was around 4:45pm.  The line was still listing an 80 minute wait, and Flight of Passage was down to 40 minutes!  My husband was upset because we hadn’t gotten an LL for the ride.  I was just going to use the ‘get in line before park close’ feature, but he doesn’t like doing that.   I took screenshots at 4:06 pm, and the wait times had only shifted 5 minutes for Navi.  I thought it was worth keeping for posterity, the day that Navi had a higher wait time than Flight of Passage.

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Anyway, we went to our dinner reservation at Tiffins. I have to give a huge shout out to Andy, our server. He read the table impeccably precisely. Hubby and I were cranky with each other. I was fixated on having a fun dinner, and he just wanted to eat and get out. Andy’s attention to detail, quick suggestions and very impressive knowledge of just what flavor profile we could handle was amazing. I had the sustainable Fried Fish, and it was amazing. I don’t usually like fish, but wanted to try something different. I asked Andy if they had something like cocktail sauce, because the 'fermented black bean sauce' just didn't sound appetizing to me. He convinced me that it was worth it to try. It certainly was that, I cannot describe the flavor of that sauce, but it was exactly what the fish needed, and the fish itself was sooo flaky and delicious. My husband had the Honey-chili glazed pork belly appetizer and some different bread and chip offerings. We both had the Green Shimmering Margarita. He relaxed and we both enjoyed ourselves.

We made it out of Tiffins with almost an hour to spare before park close.  We had time to go get a banshee from the store, and I even did the adoption pledge for mine.   Then, we had it shipped home, and we got into line for Navi at about 15 minutes to park close.  The line was a full 60 minutes long.   We didn’t leave AK until an hour after park close.   ( the 2nd picture below is of the inside ceiling area of the Navi ride.  I thought it was beautiful.  You can see all the heads of the people in line, below.)

 

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Wednesday: Magic Kingdom day!

At least we got a good night sleep, lol. We crashed at about 9:30pm after returning from AK, slept until 6:55 when we got up to make our LL selection for the day. We planned to do MK as the ‘Memories of Walt’ tour (i.e. All the stuff kids find boring!). We’ve been on all the rides. SDMT did not impress us back in 2014. Space Mountain is now in the ‘It hurts too much to ride’ category. We made our 7am selection for Jungle Cruise, with a 2:30pm return time. Perfect!

Resort open time was 8:30am. We drove into the TTC parking area right at 7:30 pm, and again were in the first row of parking. Thank goodness for small favors! The lack of trams here REALLY hurt for me. I have really bad feet. The ferry was not running due to the fog, so everyone was being directed to the monorail. That early in the morning, there was no line, and our car was not even full when we left the station.

By the time we got to the tapstiles, they were letting folks onto main street. We spent the early entry half hour shopping on main street, to identify items to buy on the way out. ( really miss the ‘ship to resort’ feature, hope they get that back before our next trip!) We made it to the hub just in time for the opening show. The first pic was taken at the Christmas Tree at the start of Main Street. The castle was so pretty in the fog!

 

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We started the day in TommowLand.   Buzz Lightyear was our first audible for the day.  As we passed, we could see it was a walk on still, so we went to save the galaxy!  We are apparently terrible at it.

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At 9:15, we went on our first planned ride, the Carousel of Progress.  My husband had never been on this, and I haven’t been since 1983, when I immediately put it in the ‘not worth the time away from better rides’ category.  It was great for our purposes of this visit.  Hubby loved it, as he loves all things classic Disney.  At 9:30, we waltzed onto the PeopleMover, and enjoyed our relaxing tour of TommorowLand.  The Space Mountain part seemed different.  There were big dividers up and it was very dark in there.  We did not see the queue, nor the effects from the coaster.  Very odd.   We really enjoyed looking at the Tron construction.  I hope to get to ride that one, someday.

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Aftewards, it was breakfast break time. We picked up 2 Cheshire cat tail pastries from a quick service near Alice’s Tea Cups, and a couple of strawberry slushes.  Brain freeze time!  Then we strolled to Cinderella’s wishing well, and got a few pictures for my mother-in-law, who is a huge fan of Cinderella.

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We walked by the carousel and headed towards Gaston’s tavern.  I wanted to see if Gaston was there, but he was not.  There was already a line to buy food there, so we just took a pic of the fountain and left.  As we were passing Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, we saw Belle come out in a garden area across the way.  We noticed her first before there was a line, and we got to stop and talk to her for a while, before getting some pictures with her.  Fun interaction!

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Next up was ‘It’s a Small World’.  Only a 10 minute wait at this time of the morning.  When we got off, it was 11am, and I could make another Genie+ LL reservation, based on the ‘2 hour’ rule.  I got Splash Mountain with a 12:35 return time. 

Princess Hall was showing only a 10 minute wait for Elena and Cinderella, so we jumped in that line.  The interactions were fun, Elena was impressed that I knew what Skyler was ( we call them flap cats in my area of Texas), and Cinderella recorded a personalized message for my mother in law.  They were both very gracious to us.

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Thanks for all the kind messages about my TR! We are heading to lunch in MK now.

Outside of Princess Hall, I did a mobile order for Columbia Harbor House for lunch. That was interesting, because the poor CM keeping hold of the doors had to constantly tell people that it was Mobile Order only. That rule is frustrating to both CM’s and guests. Hope they can get rid of it soon. However, when I got inside to pick up the mobile order, there was plenty of seating for us, when just before we were fighting to find a spot to sit outside, thinking we had no choice. Hubby and I both were happy to sit in the AC and eat. We both got the chicken strips. Good enough, nothing spectacular. Condiments and drinks were out for the taking, no social distancing in place at all.

Afterwards, we went to the Hall of Presidents. Got there JUST as the doors were closed, so we had to wait the full length for the next show. Neither hubby or I remembered the film they show now. But, we hadn’t been here since the ‘80’s and there’s been a lot of change. It was good, we liked how they handled it all, and no one in the crowd hollered at the presidents.

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Once done there, we had to stride boldly towards Splash Mountain to make the time for LL.  I made a new LL ( 1pm was the 2 hour mark for another LL) for Haunted Mansion,  with a 2pm return time.   We tapped in at Splash right at the 1:35 time limit for the LL. ( 15 minute grace does still exist, but we weren’t sure).   Happy to be able to see the Brer Rabbit version one more time before it transitions.

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We traipsed back after to the Country Bear Jamboree.  After all the visits I’ve had to WDW, I’ve never seen this show.  Hubby remembered it from his trip back in the ‘80’s.  We had a blast with it.  I actually have an old 45 record with ‘Blood on the Saddle’, that was my dad’s.

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Next up was Haunted Mansion, the LL lane had a 20 minute wait.  I think standby was at 90 minutes.  The standby line was all the way out into the main walkway  area.  We said Hi to Madam Leota and picked up our hitchhiker.   We shopped a bit in the stores around the colonial area, and I got a great Tiki Room hat!  I love it.  The pic below is from a different park, but is the best one I have of my hat.  Check out hubby's hat too!  He waited 2 years to wear it first at WDW, so it wouldn't get all sweaty. 

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It was getting very busy in the park by this time.  We had to dodge crowds over to our Jungle Cruise LL.  Once tapped in there, I got an 7:20 LL for Pirates.  Jingle Cruise was our overlay fun.  Our skipper was Matthew with ‘No L’.    Get it?  Ha! 

After seeing the 8th wonder of the world.. the backside of water!   We went to see the singing birds and crooning flowers of the Tiki room.  The last time I saw this one, Zazu was the guest host.   He’s not there anymore now.  It was still as catchy as I remembered it, and we left with the Tiki room song stuck in our heads.   

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8 hours ago, DaveInTN said:

For some reason that made me chuckle.  Then I was wondering if anyone threw toast at the stage, but I guess I’m confusing it with another show.  

hehehe....I've got some newspapers and a squirt gun around here somewhere.

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19 hours ago, ThemeParkCommando said:

   We went to see the singing birds and crooning flowers of the Tiki room.  The last time I saw this one, Zazu was the guest host.   He’s not there anymore now.  It was still as catchy as I remembered it, and we left with the Tiki room song stuck in our heads.   

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Sounds like you're having a good time despite all the new restrictions and systems that need to be dealt with.

Grandma and I still enjoy the TIKI Room and probably since it was one of the first attractions we saw when we were at DL in 1969.  (I know we're old). It was our first trip to the park together since she came to visit me when I was stationed in San Diego.

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The MK report took 3 posts. We really did have a nice day there, and did a lot!

Time to check in for our Skipper Canteen supper! 4:10 pm was our reservation time, and we were called up at about 4:20. After all my research and perusing about this restaurant, somehow the ‘secret menu’ concept was completely missed. Apparently, there is one. Our server recommended the Pao de Quiejo secret appetizer, so we tried it. It’s a cheese bread bite, and they are served with a chimichurri and cream cheese sauce. So glad we got it, it was delicious. Apparently, the ‘secret menu’ changes almost daily. I guess it’s what they have on hand that’s a bit ‘extra’, lol.

For entrée, I got the Hardy Har Char Sui pork and hubby got the ‘Tastes like Chicken, because it is!’ dish. Every interaction with our server was chock full of bad jokes, we had a blast. As we were waiting for entrees, a different server came by and tried to give us another round of appetizers. We politely told him we had not ordered them, and he left to confer with our regular server. She came over and started to profusely apologize for the mixup. We thought it was a lead up to another joke, but no… they had given our entrée’s to another table, who had actually ordered the same thing we had, but they were given their entrée’s before the appetizer. It was, for us, hilarious. We weren’t in a hurry, and had no issue waiting for another few minutes. We told our server it was the best joke of the day. I felt a little sorry for her, because she looked absolutely terrified to tell us, so you know she’s had to deal with some angry guests before. Anyway, we got food quickly ( I guess it was the order for that other table), and enjoyed it thoroughly. Sorry for not having pictures. I rarely take pictures of food. In fact, I only took one all week, you'll see it a bit later.

We got the Panna-Connie’s Congo Lime Delight for dessert. We passed up the Kungaloosh dessert, and had a spirited discussion with our server about whether it was originally a drink or a dessert at WDW, since I’ve been offered the liquid version before. She’d never seen the recipe for the drink, but admitted it looked better than the dessert’s ingredients.
 

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We left at about 6:15, and went to wander the stores in the area, before needing to find a place to watch the fireworks. The show was scheduled for 8pm, and crowds were already gathering in the hub. No way were we going to make Pirates before the show. We got an awesome spot right in front of the ‘Chip and Dale’ 50th anniversary statue, at about 7pm. (see pic above, C&D in lower right) There was no way I was standing for an hour, so I sat down there and started chatting with the other families near us. No social distancing was observed. No one was wearing masks. I’m pretty happy to try to get back to ‘normal’, but this still made me a bit nervous. Another sign of the times.
 

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The fireworks show was great. I admit, I ended up sobbing hard about halfway through. I grabbed tissues and cried quietly for my son for the rest of the show. It’s just so heartwrenching to have lost him. I miss him so much. We enjoyed so many of the Disney movies and songs together. When it was over, we stayed put to let the crowd disperse, and to let me gather myself.

Hubby and I decided to check if the 15 minute grace period on LL ‘s work like they used to work on FP+. We went back to Pirates, and sure enough, we tapped in at 8:34, 14 minutes after the hour of our LL. Green light, good to go! In line, we were playing Pokemon Go! We were trying hard to get all the WDW presents to send out to fellow gamers. A young child in line behind us saw us playing and got ALL excited. He politely asked me if he could talk to me about the game. So cute! I said of course! And we talked about the game for the rest of our time in line. The kid then told his dad this was the best day EVER! Because he talked to grown ups who play Pokemon Go!. Dad looked at me and said softly “ Thousands of dollars on a Disney vacation, and talking about Pokemon makes it the best day ever.” We both chortled together sympathetically. It certainly raised my spirits. In the pic below, my little Pokemon friend is sitting behind us.
 

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After the ride, we slowly walked back to Main street and went shopping for the presents we decided on earlier in the day. We wanted to stay for ‘The kiss goodnight’. At 10:15 pm, I finally asked someone about it, and found out they haven’t done it since re-opening the parks. Oh well. We wandered out to the ferry, and were on the boat with about 7 other people. This day was a win.
 

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Thursday – Disney Springs / Rest day

You know…’rest’ is a relative term when you are at WDW. This was more of ‘no park’ day, but not completely restful. We did sleep in, got up around 10am and went swimming at the resort pool. I’ve always seen the pool slide at POFQ and wanted to play on it. My chance is finally here! I went down the slide a few times, enjoying the ride and swimming around happily. No one else was in the pool at the time.  We spent a couple of hours poolside, then went to get dressed and head to Disney Springs.
 

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We took the riverboat up to DS, a nice 20 minute journey, past some cute Christmas decorations along the shore. When we got to DS, we encountered something brand new to us. They are still restricting entry pretty tightly, and have an explosive sniffing dog at the entrance. As we walked in, the officer walked the dog behind us, perpendicular to our track. The dogs head shot up and it lunged (no other word for it) at my husband. This was a sweet Golden Retriever, and the lunge was one of pure happiness. The dogs tail was wagging and it was very happy. I saw this out of the corner of my eye, as I like to watch the dogs work, since I train dogs for a hobby. The officer reset the dog, and walked him past us again. Again, the happy, enthusiastic lunge. I told my husband to hold up, we’ve been scented.

The officer came up to talk to us. The dog was happily looking at my husband and ignoring me. My husband and I both have our license to carry, and he does so more than I do, back in Texas. The pants he was wearing hadn’t seen a pistol in over a month, though, and had been laundered twice. The dog still pegged us. What a great nose! Anyway, after a quick bag check and patting my hubbys pockets, we went on our way. I told the officer to give that dog a great reward. The name of the dog was a hoot, too. We were scented by officer ‘Scary’ Terry.

First order of business was lunch. We went to the Earl of Sandwich. The line was out the door. The sandwiches were delicious, as usual. We spent a couple of hours shopping at World of Disney and the Lego store, two of our favorite places. We spent a good 10 minutes trying to finagle finances so we could buy an $800 AT-AT lego set, but decided we liked our home luxuries too much. You know, things like food and electricity… heheh.
 

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At 3pm, we hopped on a bus to the Polynesian resort, to try and get into Trader Sams. We were too late. The waitlist was at 2 hours by the time we got there, and we had Morimoto reservations at 6pm. So we went to the outside Tiki bar area, and picked up our Nautilus mug and drink out there. That is a lovely area to get a drink, too.
 

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Back to DS we went. Going back through the security area, another dog was on duty this time. This dog did not pick up on my husband. His nose was not at sensitive as Scary Terry’s. We did see the dog lift his nose and scent as we walked by, but he didn’t indicate on us.

Morimoto’s dinner was really nice. We were sat by the kitchen area, we could see into the kitchen from the big floor to ceiling windows they have. I really enjoyed the Iron Chef shows, Japan’s more than America’s, and many other cooking contest shows. Because of that, it was fun watching the plates being prepared. Hubby and I ordered the Peking duck for 2. He had never had duck before, and I’ve only had it rarely in more American versions. We also had the egg roll appetizer, egg drop soup, lo mein and steamed white rice. Didn’t get an adult beverage this time.

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Afterwards, we strolled to the new, smaller shops along the middle of Disney Springs, and stuck our head into a few. Took pictures of some of the Christmas trees all around the Springs.

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We walked back over the new bridge to where the boats back to PO were, and we went to Riverside, to see YeeHaw Bob. I am so glad he is back! His show is amazing. A big old sing along full of both Disney songs and old kids songs that most people know. We sang a full round of BINGO…lol. Also, some other song where we had to raise our hands, drop our hands, spin in a circle.. The audience was really into it. I don’t know where Bob get his energy, he was just bouncing all over the place.
 

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Had the blood orange margarita and some bites from the bar, stayed for about an hour and caught a boat back to POFQ.

One thing I didn’t take into account, is the fat content of the duck we ate. I have no gallbladder, so occasionally have trouble with fats. That duck did me in. It didn’t hurt, but the next day had me become MUCH more familiar with Hollywood Studio’s restrooms, lol.

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