2013 has been a banter year so far. Will and I have had many adventures.
Walt Disney World round 2: In February we made a trip back to WDW during True Love Week. For all of 2013 Disney is having extra limited time magic, which sums down to something special is happening every week to two weeks. We had an amazing time in WDW even though True Love week didn’t live up to my expectations on a Disney level.
Anyone that knows anything about Disney knows that everything is over the top well done (or at least the majority of it is- there are some things that people would argue about.) My expectations for True Love week was decor everywhere, and basically just absolute gushy-ness all around for Valentine’s Day. It came down to just a few banners and the castle lit up in pretty purple/red/pink colors and hearts.
That’s not to say that the trip wasn’t filled with magic and love for us. We went to all 4 parks. I also made sure to add some extra special things to make the trip even better than last years. Making sure to see all the things we skipped last year because of time or just not really understanding that it was something great to see. At Animal Kingdom we made sure to see Finding Nemo the musical and The Festival of the Lion King both of which were amazing, I’m not really sure how or why we missed them before. Animal Kingdom is a great place to start your trip, the whole park can be seen in half a day, and it’s much smaller than the other parks so you won’t walk your feet off on the first day. That evening we had a great dinner at Rain Forest Cafe and then took a cab to the near by outlet mall to do some shopping and from there on to try out our version of a Monorail Bar Crawl. It’s just the two of us on this trip, but we had a lot of fun. There are bars at 3 resorts and Epcot that you can get to from the monorail. As we were limited on time because I didn’t really take into account the time they shut down the monorail we only were able to visit 1 bar at each of the 3 resorts, but the bar crawl could easily be turned into and all evening event. You also don’t have to go into any of the parks so you could do this on a free day if wanted. It’s a really great way to see other resorts which are all really amazing. We started at the Grand Floridian, grand is almost an understatement. The place is stunning, but unfortunatly we didn’t have time to fully explore. We made our way to Mizner’s Lounge. There was a jazz band playing just outside the bar in the atrium. When we sat down we decided we needed rules for our crawl, nothing too crazy but we had to order something different at each place. I ordered a magical star, and it was amazing, besides lighting up! (X-Rated Fusion Organic Mango and Passion Fruit liqueur, Parrot Bay Coconut rum, pineapple juice and a souvenir glow cube.)
The lounge is tiny and filled with business types, but the staff was really friendly, and the jazz music made up for the hoity toity people we wouldn’t normally be around. After that we went to the Contemporary. The monorail pulls right into the hotel which is pretty cool. We made our way down to the Wave bar. I really would like to go back to the Wave next time, they had a really delicious looking menu and the crowd was much more down to earth and fun. Here I asked for a recommendation and the bar tender suggested a Mai Tai. The bar itself had a really great lounge feel and tv’s for watching sports if that’s your thing. At this point we were sort of tipsy, but we made our way to the Polynesian anyway. It’s like being on a tropical island, palm trees, tiki torches and all. The bar was pretty empty so we pulled up a seat and hurried to order. This time I got Disney’s most popular drink, the Blue Glow-tini (SKYY Infusions Citrus vodka, peach schnapps, blue curacao and pineapple juice with a sugared rim and souvenir glow cube.) Beautiful, and yummy, but I still preferred the Magical star. Our bar tender was amazing, I wish I remembered his name, but he’s worked for the Mouse for the last 30+ years, and seemed like he still loves it. We wrapped up our night as we finished our drinks.
Day 2 was Valentine’s day and we went to the Magic Kingdom. For added romance I had booked us dinner at Tony’s Italian restaurant just after the fire works. It’s based off of the restaurant in “Lady and the Tramp.” We made sure to see all of New Fantasy Land first. It’s wonderfully done, I’m certain Walt would be proud. Then we ran to the Tea Cups and got to meet Alice!
The Tea Cups are Will’s favorite if you can’t tell 🙂 After an exhausting day we watched the Wishes fireworks show and then headed over to Tony’s for a very late dinner. It was delicious and for and added bit of magic the manager came over and sang “Bella Note” to us. After a day like that it’s hard to go back to your hotel room, but we did because the next day was set aside for our favorite park!
Day 3 and E.P.C.O.T.! Yes I know it probably sounds crazy, but it’s out favorite! All of my memories from going to WDW as a child are from this park (well most anyway.) It’s like getting to travel around the world all in one place, and then getting to play in really interactive sciency ways and very entertaining rides (aside from what they did to ruin Journey Into the Imagination with Figmint.) It also has the best food in all of Disney. I booked us a Behind the Seeds tour, which was really educational and fun. The Living with the Land ride is great on it’s own, but getting to go in the background was something I’d recommend to everyone. After getting all the science-y and educational things out of the way we started our Drinking Around the World tour. Now I don’t want to sound like I’m a crazy drinker, we were on vacation, and I was not prepared. I can’t imagine how people do this in the summer. Our day in February was about 65 degrees. There are 11 distinct country pavilions, I don’t think I could have managed drinking 11 beers in 1 day during college, now I’m older and I drink maybe 2x a month at most. We started in Mexico with a Dos Equis, and of course the boat ride staring the Three Caballeros (you can’t take your drink on the boat.) Then were on to Norway and a Carlsberg and then the Malestrom (probably the best ride in Epcot! and even better when you’re tipsy.) Next stop is China and Tsing Tao beer. The China pavilion is beautiful and we got to see some acrobats and jugglers. After that is a tiny little outpost, that can’t even be called a pavillion, for Africa. The people that work here were from Haiti and not Africa and the beer options were Landshark and Safari Amber (which is really Anheuser-Busch’s amber red.) We both got the Safari in the spirit of the name at least, it wasn’t good. As we wandered into Germany and I was fully drunk, I realized that Snow White was appearing all day in Germany and I absolutely could not miss her! We used the hour and a half of standing in line to finish our nasty Safari Amber, have a snack, and then oh yes! drink more delicious german beer. I had a heifenwizen and Will had a Radeberger Pilsner. And I met Snow White and she was great!
You’d think from that photo that we were done, but we still had more countries to visit. Onward to Italy and Moretti. Then America and Yuengling. Followed by Japan and dinner reservations and Kirin. For good measure while we were waiting to eat we made our way over to Morocco and had a Casa Beer, which was spicy and weird and I did not finish it. We went back to Japan from there to eat, I don’t remember much besides it being delicious and giggling up a storm. After we left dinner it was time to quit. Our poor sweet waitress, she was nice as can be, but we were loud and unruly, and she put up with us graciously. We missed out on France, the UK, and Canada. next time if we do the world of beer tour again we’ll make sure to start at the other end.
Day 4: An unbelievably hungover trip to Hollywood studios and everything else we missed. We got up extra early, in part because I woke up at 6am with a crazy headache, I tried getting up, taking advil, drinking a ton of water and going back to bed. Unfortunately that didn’t work, so we got up and made our way to breakfast and then the park. Everything seemed wonderful at first, we got our photos taken, and went straight to get our fast pass for Toy Story Mania, you have to get there early or wait in line for up to 2 hours, we missed out on it last year. Hollywood Studios seems like a work in progress to me, there just seems to be a lot of unused space, but there are still some really great things to see and do. The best of which is probably Star Tours! We love everything 4D, and this ride takes it to the extreme, and there are 52 (i think) combinations that you can see so riding over and over again is a must. Riding it once while extremely hung over is a no no! one time through I thought I was going to throw up. Fortunately I had some Dramamine in my purse so a couple of orange flavored chewable and another bottle of water later I was feeling much better. We made special reservations at the Brown Derby Fantasmic Dinner package. We also missed out on Fantasmic last time because they only showed it certain days of the week. While the Brown Derby was delicious and the service amazing, I’m not really sure if the VIP section was worth the added cost, maybe if we had used the disney dining plan. From lunch we made our way back to E.P.C.O.T. to walk through the countries we missed the day before (sans beer.) Then we made our way over to the Boardwalk to get a snack and then walk back to Hollywood Studios to ride Star Tours a couple more times and see Fantasmic. This is one heck of a finale for the parks, almost every character is involved, there’s a dragon, and fireworks! It’s definitely a must see. We made our way quickly out of the park and back to Magic Kingdom to see Wishes one more time and sneak in a few more rides on our last day. Leaving the park on your last day there is always so bitter sweet. The only real solution is to start thinking about when you can go again.
There were definitely some hiccups in our trip, but what I think works best for us on our Disney trips is planning as much as I can including which parks on which days, but also making sure there’s space in the planning for the hiccups. Going to the park the same week as Mardi Gras threw us a curve ball, the park was much more full because apparently everyone that lives in and around New Orleans leaves and heads to WDW, as well as all the other places that celebrate Carnival and get the week off for the celebration. This meant we didn’t get to see all of MK in one day, we still had to skip some things, but we made sure they were things we didn’t mind skipping. Planning makes sure that we get to see and do all the parts that are musts for us. We are also traveling without kids, and that makes a big difference. The best tip I’ve heard about traveling with kids is to get up really early and get to the parks before the crowds, and then plan a break back at the resort either for a nap or some pool time to relax mid day when the park is busiest, then head back again in the evening when the temperature has cooled down and the crowds are fighting for dinner. I’d also do some research about the parks if you’ve never been. Of course all kids are going to love MK, but depending on what your kid is into some of the parks might not really be fun for them, or if you want to see all of them you can par down a lot of the parks to a half of a day with the park hopper pass. Animal Kingdom is mostly a zoo with some fun theatrical exhibits and a couple of rides and character interactions. E.P.C.O.T. will be great if your kid is into learning, or science, or plants, or the world. It’s also neatly compartmentalized if you want to avoid the world half you easily can, or you could just hop over there for a delicious lunch. Hollywood studios seems to me to be geared for older kids and adults, though it’s the only place where Pixar characters are around. So really make sure you take your time and plan, figure out what is important to you and the other people going to WDW with you. If you have a smart phone there are lots of apps that can help you find your way around the parks and wait times once you are there. Adventure is out there!