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Disney World 2014

Friday April 11, 2014. 14:53
Disney Totally Redeemed Itself!

 

I was extremely pleased with Disney's customer service recently, as after I arrived home from my vacation I emailed to inform them of my bug bites. Disney was amazing to deal with, and after a few weeks of working with me, I am happy with the final result. Doesn't take away the bites, but I won't hesitate to stay on site again based on the incident support I have received so far. Good on you, Disney. :)

 

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Friday January 17, 2014. 23:35
Day 6 - Disney to Miami

 

Today we left Disney. It was mixed for all of us I think, but we had done pretty much everything on the Disney maps we had really wanted to (except for splash mountain, but that's only because IT WAS CLOSED! Still annoyed.)

Anyway, we got all packed up, checked out and booked our Disney's Magical Express to the airport all before 10:00. We had booked the 12:30 ride as we had planned on doing Downtown Disney to get Nichole a T-shirt, but we ended up finding something we really liked in the lobby store. Much easy. We then did breakfast in front of the TV in the lobby restaurant and realized we had over 1½ hours to kill. We had dropped our bags at the baggage check out front after checking out, which made getting around a lot easier, but we ended up getting seats on the 11:30 bus in stead. This was really good, because by the time we got to the airport, got our rental car, got everything loaded up, used the bathroom and got going it was already 13:30. So by the time we got food for the road, found an ATM and picked up some water it was after 14:00.

And we were on our way! Until a block later, when I had to slam on my brakes for a red light and my Checkers chicken flew off my lap and under the brake paddle. My new diet plan, I guess. On the bright side, Nichole had a blast feeding the birds at the next highway stop the bread from my sandwich (oh come on, they eat garbage, a little bread can't be any worse!) I did replace it with a healthier option, and we continued on with one more stop near Fort Lauderdale for a bathroom break before reaching our hotel near 18:30.

We got checked in, got unloaded, and went for Subway. The first one was closed at 20:00 (on a Friday night, really?) but there was one a few blocks away. We ate our supper in our room while I started laundry, and Troy, Lee & Mom were here visiting by the time I returned from the laundry room.

I had stayed here once before (Candlewood Suites, Miami Airport) and decided it was really good for the money, with things like free laundry and wifi, great kitchenettes and easy location (close to MIA and Dolphin Mall) and of course free parking. Outdoor pool, too, but I've never used that. This time I realized that the deal only includes 1 Queen bed, not two, which posed a few moments of concern (Nichole finally ended up sleeping with Grandma instead of on the air mattress provided by the friendly staff here) so that made things a bit more comfortable, so the only thing left to complain about was the smell in our room.

Now, I always try to be politically correct, but everyone has a different choice of taste when it comes to cooking. The people before me obviously liked Asian noodles more than I do. I do like a good noodle bowl, but I'm always content picking one up at the Wok Box or somewhere similar over cooking it in my own home. Wow, strong stuff. I guess that's the down side of Kitchenettes. My Mom's room was great, so it was obviously on a room-by-room basis. Only one night.

After Nichole & grandma went to bed, between laundry, Mandi, Troy & I discussed some times and plans for tomorrow morning, and now everyone but me is in bed. So, laundry is done and I think I've covered most of the days happenings here, so I think it's time to retire. For the night, of course. And, this will be the last live post until after the cruise!

So, have a good night, a great weekend and a wonderful week. I'll see you on the other side!

 

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Thursday January 16, 2014. 23:46
Day 5 - Magic Kingdom Part II

 

Today started out relatively smoothly.  We got up, got ready and went to the bus stop.  That's about it.  Then it stopped being smooth.  We waited for our bus.  Buses came and left, but not our bus.  Most buses left without anyone even getting on.  We were all waiting for the Magic Kingdom bus.  We saw 2 or 3 buses for each park, but none for ours.  Finally I asked a Hollywood Studios bus driver about our bus, and he radioed dispatch and said they were sending us one.  Thanks.  We were already pretty much late for our character breakfast at "1900 Park Fare, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa".  We waited about half an hour, and eventually one did come.  Did I mention it was really cold out? (for Florida, that is).

We made our way to our first stop, Magic Kingdom, and got on the monorail to our breakfast reservation.  Breakfast was good again, as the buffets always seem to be here, and the bill would have been over $100 if we didn't have our dining plan, as the buffets always seem to be here.  We got a bunch of character photos and signatures (Mary Poppins, Mad Hatter, Alice, Tigger and Pooh) and ate our food.  Nichole had an upset stomach, so her and Mandi left right at the end for the rest room.  After 20 minutes or so, I decided to gather up our stuff and go find them.

Somewhere in the mix, as we found out later, Nichole's autograph album was left behind.  Thinking we had everything ready to go, after finally locating them, we headed out to catch our monorail.  But, guess what?  During breakfast, the monorail broke down.  No one told us that until we waited in the cold for a few minutes, but we were eventually informed, along with everyone else waiting.  This resort was across 7 Seas Lagoon from Magic Kingdom, so we were able to hold up a bed sheet and ail across the lake.  But we didn't, instead we caught the water taxi, which gave us a tour of the lakefront resorts before getting us to our destination.  As we arrived, I was first off the boat going through the gate I came up behind a slow moving duck, going the same direction, towards the exit of the dock gate.  So I slowly followed it, the whole time close enough I could have tapped it with my foot, and it didn't look back once as if it knew it was leading us out.  It finally did fly away after giving us a good laugh.

We approached the park gate, and that's when Mandi realized we didn't have her book.  So the two of them went into the park (I guess they didn't get too far by the time I got back) while I ran and caught the same boat back to the Grand Floridian to find the book.  I eventually did get it, and was happy to see the monorail running again so I was able to make a fairly efficient round trip.  I entered the park and headed down main street towards our pre determined meeting point but somehow passed them, and they came up behind me.  It all worked out ok in the end, but wow, definitely not the way I had planned.

Once in the park we made our way over to meet Rapunzel and Snow White at the Princess Fairytale Hall.  Cinderella and Aurora were next door, but the line was really long and we had a Fast Pass for Rapunzel.  We thought we might drop in to see Cinderella later, but we never did have time.  After visiting with the princesses, we took a float on the Jungle Cruise before using our Fast Pass at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  By that time we were almost ready for our lunch reservation at The Crystal Palace.

We got there, checked in and were given a pager (that is suppose to vibrate and flash).  We visited with other guests that were waiting, and Nichole was holding the pager.  She informed us that the pager was flashing, but the sun was very bright and it hadn't vibrated, so I thought maybe she was mistaken.  About 15 minutes later I decided to check back with the hostess.  Sure enough, we had been paged 15 minutes prior, as had our line-friends.  So we all went in and got our tables.  This time we ate amongst Piglet, Eeyore, Pooh, and Tigger.  I managed to get Nichole to eat a good amount of fruit as that seemed to be the source of her upset stomach.  After our great lunch, we went back to Adventure Land and went up into the Swiss Family Treehouse.  It was neat, but Nichole was uncomfortable for most of it.  Once done, she had settled down enough for us to enjoy the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.  We all had fun, and afterwards, in the right place, Nichole managed to clear the source of her discomfort, which I think relieved me as much as her! 

We had a few rides circled on the map, but as walked past them (Peter Pan's Flight, It's A Small World, Meet & Great with Cinderella, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh) we decided the lines weren't worth it at the time, until we made our rounds.  We ended up getting in the queue for Tomorrowland Speedway, which Nichole LOVED (She got to drive) and then checked out Space Mountain.  She was still too short, even with shoes on, plus the wait was way too long.  We finally agreed to go back and wait in line for Peter Pan's Flight after a failed attempt to remove Excalibur from the stone out front.  It was pretty neat, taking the flight from London to Neverland and back. While in line we bought Nichole a Mickey Mouse flashing staff.  After it was over, we went across the path to It's A Small World, which ran at a similar pace.  I forgot how neat that ride was, going through all those countries in a single boat!  That ride would end up being our Disney finale for this trip, as we decided to make our way back to main street for the Main Street Electrical Parade at 19:00.

We weren't near the front, so Nichole was on my shoulders with Mandi in front, and I noticed a mother with a child up on her shoulders and a girl a couple years older than Nichole standing in front of her.  The Mom kept saying things like "Oh, look at that!"  and "who is that over there?" and the poor little girl was getting so frustrated.   So after confirming that Mandi was OK with Nichole on her shoulders, I offered to put the other girl on mine.  Her Mom was happy to accept, and I was reminded how small and light my daughter really is.  Wow.  Once I lost all feeling in my hands it was better, but it did take a while for my circulation to get cut off enough for that.  So we all enjoyed the parade (except me, I still couldn't see anything).  Once the parade ended, and once I regained feeling in my arms, we pushed our way through the crowds and found our bus stop.

We got back to our hotel and went to the food court for a light supper before coming to our room and putting Nichole to bed.  Tomorrow we head south to Miami, so we did a bit of quick organizing to get ready to check out.  As I sat down to write about the day, I was reminded of all the bug bights I have accumulated over the past few nights.  During the day (I've been looking) I don't recall seeing any bugs at all, but somehow every morning I have some fresh ones added to my collection.  I've looked really good at the sheets and beds, and the bites don't seem to fit the traditional description of bed bugs, and I haven't spotted any spiders around, so whatever it is that is feasting on my arms is a mystery.  A very annoying uncomfortable mystery.  I guess I'll get into bed and see what happens in the morning.  If this is last you here from me, assume it was extra hungry tonight.

 

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Wednesday January 15, 2014. 22:38
Day 4 - Epcot

 

Today, after getting breakfast at our hotel food court, we caught the bus to Epcot Centre by 10:00. We made our way to our first Fast Pass time at the Chevrolet Test Track. As we crossed the bridge to the gate, we were greeted by Krista (although her name tag said "Miyeko") who seemed more interested in talking to us than most cast members that say hi in passing. She then proceeded to invite us up to the VIP area of the Test Track, and informed us she had chosen us as her guests of the day. This was really cool, as we got to go up to an office-type area, used a computer to design our vehicles, and then get right into the front of the line. She was extremely nice, and made our morning even more fantastic than normal. Nichole enjoyed the ride so much she wanted to go again. We got back in line, and Krista saw us and asked us how it was. We told her we were going again, and she magically made our expired Fast Passes valid once again. And she gave us front-of-line passes for any ride in Epcot! We ended up not needing those, and gave them away as we left the park, but wow! Really cool.

After that we made our way to "The Seas With Nemo & Friends" for a tour through the ocean looking for Nemo, who was always one step ahead of us. Nichole enjoyed it mostly, so that was good. After checking out the live aquariums, and watching the manatees for a few minutes, we then started our long walk across the park to Norway for our lunch with the Princesses.

We found our restaurant (Akershus Royal Banquet Hall) and got in line. Once inside, they put us in a little room and all the princess lined up to get me to sign their books and take pictures with me. Kind of, except the opposite. As we entered, Princess Belle was set up for signing and photos, and as we were seated we spotted Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel and Jasmine carousing around the room. We placed ourorder, got our buffet, and tried to eat. But it's hard to eat when you have a 6 year old girl at your table and Disney Princesses keep stopping by. Nichole loved it. She got all kinds of hugs and signatures, and she got to take her patch off for most of it (that was her favourite part, I think!) We did finally get her to eat a bit, and after she did the conga line around the room we were ready to carry on with our day.

Just outside of the restaurant we found the Maelstrom Viking cruise adventure. It was pretty cool. I would recommend it compared to everything else we did in Epcot. That and the Test Track. From there we carried on our hike around the globe, taking pictures along the way, until we got to the border of Canada and the UK (you know the place). We noticed a large red solid gate in front of which Hook and Mr. Smee were dancing around excitedly, when all of a sudden a Cast Member flung open the gates to reveal a wonder of all wonders. It was like Christmas all over again! Behind the gate, dancingand prancing were (let me list them for you) Chip, Dale, Brer Bear, Mickey, Minnie, Baloo, Max, Goofy, and some guy that kept getting in the way of my pictures. (I think he was on the outside of the gate when it opened.) I urged Nichole to go say hi to Mickey & Minnie, and as she approached them they each took her by a hand and walked with her as all the characters took a spot along the hidden pathway. Even once the gate was open, people didn't come pouring in as our location was still off the beaten path enough to be slightly secluded. A little hole in the wall between Canada and the UK that nobody really paid attention to. It was our little secret paradise. Nichole went from one character to another with little or no lines for the most part, filling up her autograph book, enjoying all kinds of hugs and serenades, and getting a tonne of great pics! Finally, as we were finishing off our last of the visits, they had closed the gates and called in all the characters. So we carried on, finishing our trek back to Future World.

As we went through "Canada", we saw the band "Off Kilter" performing our Country's finest Celtic music. Not bad. Not sure they represented Canada as a whole, but there was a lot of Canadian hockey shirts in the shop, so I think that about covered it. I feel represented, at least.

On the way out, we took the tour through the big silver golf ball (Spaceship Earth) which is always educational (Nichole kept asking "Is that Jesus?" and, "Where's Moses" every time we saw wax figures that looked Egyptian or had beards.) She enjoyed it. We got out of the park around 15:30, caught our bus toour room to change and drop off some stuff before getting another bus to Downtown Disney. We didn't have a lot of time by this point, so we checked out some shops, bought some souvenirs and gifts and clothes and shirts and dresses and clothes. And clothes. And after we bought some clothes we found our bus stop and headed back to our hotel. We ate pizza in the Food Court while Nichole watched some Disney Jr. on TV. Finally back at our room Nichole did some homework (we are a wee bit behind on that stuff, oops) and we got ready for bed.

We went through our meals from the week to see how our dining plan worked out, and although we are out of meals (except for our 2 remaining Character Meals tomorrow) our plan really paid off, I would recommend it. I think most of our Table Service meals would have put us back $70 - $120 each if we had to pay. We did have to tip however, and that added up, but I guess it was all worth it in the end (for Nichole for sure). We might give her a few years, and 4 and a half inches before considering a revisit. But, now it's bed time. Big finale tomorrow at Magic Kingdom! I bet the Princess are already lining up for me.

 

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Tuesday January 14, 2014. 22:25
Day 3 - Hollywood Studios

 

This morning we got up and ready and decided we wanted a buffet breakfast, so we booked a Character Breakfast at the Hollywood & Vine buffet just inside

Hollywood Studios park (we still know it as the old MGM Studios). We caught the bus and arrived at the park around 0930, casually made our way in and found the restaurant.

While we waited to go in, the hostess attempted to have us guess by description what Disney Jr. characters we would be seeing (I guess Disney Jr. is a show on TV.  Who knew?). I'll just tell you the names without making you guess. There would be Handy Manny (Mandi guessed Fix It Felix), Oso (she thought it might be Kung Foo Panda), June (no guesses, but I would have mistaken her with Dora), Jake (no ideas, I guess he's a Lost Boy). Apparently they are all part of some show called Disney Jr. It's on something they called "TV". Huh. Breakfast was really good, feeding a 6 year old breakfast in a room with a 1-1 ratio of kids to characters, not so easy. But we stuffed some food in her little mouth and went to check out the park.



We had picked Fast Passes for today, but the fancy new ride in town, Aerosmith's "Rock'n' Roller Coaster" was a "48 inch plus" ride, so we had to take turns. I went there while Mandi and Nichole went to Toy Story Midway Mania, and she decided not to go on "Rock'n' Roller Coaster" at all. It was fun, good thrill ride, but I actually thought the themed atmosphere while we waited in line was better then the ride itself. And the gift shop had cool drum sticks. I picked myself up a pair later in the day.



After our separate rides, we met up at the Magicians Nephew hat, and went to catch the last couple scenes of Indiana Jones Epic

Stunt Spectacular. Really neat, Nichole was a bit concerned. We then attempted to check out Disney Junior - Live On Stage, but before the show started we decided to leave because Nichole's 6 year molar was hurting her and I wanted to get her some ice. She said it didn't help, but she didn't complain about it anymore, so it helped me!



We had at least an hour before our Fast Pass for The Great Movie Ride, so we thought, even though we have a 15:25 FP for The Twilight Tower of Terror, we might as well see about getting on it now while we had time. You know the ride, right? The one based on a story of the Hollywood Tower Hotel elevator accident? Ya, well the elevator wasn't working so it was closed for the morning. Go figure. So we looked around, did some wandering, and made our way to our appointment at The Great Movie Ride as planned.

It was OK, a trip down movie-memory lane, if your in the 60+ age category. Plus Nichole cried most of the way through. After that, we grabbed some pretzel bread things and checked out some more of the park. I was almost ready to chalk the park up as 2 good rides, one out of order, and a bunch of effects-shows when we happened

across "Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show" while looking for "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set Adventure". It was excellent! I wish we would've got there to catch the start of the show. Really cool. After, we did find the "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids", but it had recently been turned into a play structure based on the movie as the ride had out worn it's welcome, I guess.

We skipped that in order to get to Tower of Terror early and maybe to go Downtown Disney for the afternoon. En route we passed by a meet

and great line for Woody & Buzz, and because it was raining and the line was indoors, Mandi thought it would be a grand idea to do that. I selfishly pushed on to the tower, getting there an hour before our Fast Pass time, only to find an hour long line. So, we went back to the meet & greet. It turned out to be a really fun line, and the characters were really great. Green Army Guy was also hanging around the line. I forgot to have Nichole say "Andy is coming!" to see if the would really play dead. I

hope we get a chance to in the next couple days. While Woody was signing our book, Buzz started dancing with Nichole, and she completely confused him when he tried to spin her and she spun the other way.

On the way back for our FP at the Tower, some cast members were just

setting up for a dance session in the Magicians Hat Plaza with Chip N Dale (the furry ones), goofy and Pluto. Nichole got in the front row and took part in all the fun. That lasted for five or ten minutes, and after that we ran into a classic street performance put on by the Hollywood Public Works, same dept. that

performed Plunger Olympics way back in 1999 only a couple blocks away! Different crew, I assume, but just as funny. These ones were spraying the trees for some kind of bug, apparently, and needed help from a young bystander. It was obvious they were using water, but funny nonetheless.

This time we actually made it to the Tower of Terror,

and got in and everything! Once again, great ride, and once again, scared kid. After it was all done, she wiped away her tears and asked if we could go again. The 120 minute sign at the end of the line made my decision for me. So, we checked out some shops, got a $12 balloon, and made our way to the bus station. From there we made a pit stop at our hotel to change and caught the water bus to Downtown Disney, just down the river.



Nichole was starting to get grumpy, and as it was getting close to 18:00 those pretzels were starting to lose their affect, and we were starting to want food. On the boat ride there, Nichole met a really fun couple on their 20th anniversary travel that visited with her and kept her happy and occupied for the duration of the 30 minute trip. But as soon as we got off the boat and parted ways, Nichole let loose. I returned the shorts I got to the Rainforest Café, and we had a long talk. We finally got

things under control and found the Wolfgang Puck Express for some much needed grub. By the time supper was over (pretty good, by the way) it was getting late, so we decided we should get to the bus stop and get back to our room. We stopped in at LEGOLAND for a quick peak and made our way to the bus depot.

We finished off the night on a high note, Nichole even did some homework, and once again everyone is asleep before me. If it wasn't for my desire to keep track of my daily events (just to clarify, this is here for me more than for you! :D ) I would be snoring along with them, believe you me!

And so, my sleep will begin now.

 

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Monday January 13, 2014. 23:38
Day 2 - Animal Kingdom

 

Today we got up at 0700 in order to get a full day in at Animal Kingdom. After getting ready, getting fed and getting the bus, we made it to the park around

09:59 and 1 second, approximately. We headed into the park and made our way to the far corner to catch our truck for the Kilimanjaro Safaris. This time we had a Fast Pass! It was a perfect first ride, the site-seeing was fantastic, but my little budding photographer kept fighting me for the good shots, I admit I had to push her out of the way a couple times. A competitive thing, good photography is!  I remembered this trek from my last trip here and once again, I was really glad I did it.  They

do such a great job making you feel like you are right there in the animal's natural habitat.  I highly recommend it!

After completing our first adventure of the day, and after finding a bathroom and water fountain, we made our way back to catch the Wildlife Express. This took us to Rafiki's Planet Watch, where we played with some farm animals and learnt about the similarities and differences between African Pygmy hedgehogs and Canadian Porcupines. Nichole volunteered to help demonstrate how porcupines can be trained, which I think was one of her

highlights of the day.  The Wildlife Express is great if you want to pet some goats and sheep, and learn some neat things about animals.  It was fun.

I would guess her number one highlight of the trip so far would be our next adventure, but on route we stopped at the Tusker House because Mandi needs

food a few times each day and Nichole & I need Disney Characters to sign our book. I chose the Tusker House because the map said it was a buffet, but I wasn't sure we would get in because the map said Character Lunch. But they put us on the list, and within a few minutes we were being seated. It was an amazing spread, and with Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Mickey, it was quite a meal. We got some great photos, some names in the book, and full tummies.  If you have a Disney Dining Plan, or have recently won the lottery, I would highly recommend eating here (we have a Disney Dining Plan).

We left there and continued on to the Kali River Rapids. We dropped off our dry goods at the locker stacks and used our Fast Passes to get to our rafts. There was no one in the regular

line, but we used our Fast Passes nonetheless. We got on our raft with our new temporary friends, got going up the lift, and Nichole started getting scared. We made our way around a few bends in the "river" before coming to the "waterfall". Our circular raft turned just right so that Nichole and I had our backs to the action, which ultimately made it so we couldn't see how wet we were about to get. We got really wet. Nichole took a few minutes to let it all "sink in", and then the crying started. It was impossible not to laugh, so I didn't even try, but

instead tried very hard to get her into the spirit of it all. And with the encouragement of Mandi and our new friends from Ottawa, she finally broke and started enjoying it, and by the end of the trip she was ready to go again. We were already soaked, so I figured I might as well go along with her while she was having fun. After round 2 we were thoroughly soaked, and ready for some more action.

We checked the horizon for the white peaks of Mount Everest and made our way there. Those of us over 44 inches would have had no trouble getting onto

Expedition Everest (Legend of the Forbidden Mountain) but those of us that are 43 and ½ had a harder time. Boy, was she upset. She even went and tried the puppy-dog eyes and the pretty-pleases with the Cast Members, but to no avail. So we let Mandi go on her own while we played some

games and looked around. Mandi recommended I take a go at it, so after we took in Mickey's Jungle Jammin' Parade, I made my way back.  It was pretty cool, there are a lot of surprises, and a cool theme, but it was over very quickly.

And while I enjoyed the thrill of the ride, Nichole and Mandi took in the sites in Dinoland while they waited. After we met up, Nichole

went to play for a few minutes in the "Bone Yard", then we headed (at Nichole's request) to the DINOSAUR ride. We were advised it was scary, and we warned her many times, but she insisted. So, we went through our time-travel orientation and got into our time-travelling vehicle. It was entertaining, we had to go back and recover a dinosaur, but Nichole, I think, nearly wet herself. She kept asking "is it almost over?" We finished the ride, checked out some shops, did some last minute site-seeing, and made our way out to the Rainforest Café as the park closed behind us.



We only had to wait a few minutes for our table, and with the amazing atmosphere of the RFC, plus the great shop attached to it, we had a great meal. The food was tastey, desert was fantastic, and after it was all over I walked away with some left over chicken, a new pair of swim trunks

(that ended up being a size to tight) and a nice shirt from the shop.

We caught what I guessed to be the last bus out and got back to our room around 1930. We had promised Nichole a swim in the pool directly out our door, so because she needed a bath anyway we let her have her swim provided she didn't need to change. So, still in her jean-shorts and t-shirt, she played in the pool for a few minutes before showering and getting ready for bed. Once again, as if she had a tiring day, she was out before the lights. Mandi just retired moments ago, shortly after Nichole woke up with what I assume was something profound to tell us. But after a couple attempts to find the words she needed to say, I asked her if she wanted to go back to sleep. She said, "no, that's OK", put her head down and was out once again.

I really had hoped to show you some shots of all the great times we've been having, and I will attempt to get some on Facebook sometime soon, but I am unable to quickly throw them on my photo site (turbo.ca) because someone at FUNIO (my hosting people) decided to change enable-mbstring=shared, which makes it so exif_read_data only displays the first character rather than the entire string. So I'm sure you can clearly see it's clearly their fault. Clearly. Anyway, tomorrow I'll tell you all about our day at Disney's Hollywood Park. Until then, I'm going to bed.

 

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Sunday January 12, 2014. 23:20
Day 1 - Magic Kingdom

 

So our first day in Disney and we decided to change the plan. We got to bed so late that we ended up sleeping in. By the time we got ready and had breakfast at our resort, it was almost 1100. We figured we might as well do a half day at Magic Kingdom today as we had planned on going back anyway. This way we get our full days at the other parks.



We caught the bus for the park sometime around 1100 (with no watch or phones, we really had a hard time keeping track of time so far) and were walking through the gates before 1130. 

When we arrived, we wanted to get a Disney-themed scrap/photo/signature book for all the princess I was hoping to meet, but I ended up giving it to Nichole. While Mandi was making friends with the cashier (remind me to tell you about the Disney Magic Bands) I took Nichole out front to watch a few floats go by as

part of some random mid-day parade.

Once the small parade had ended, we went back inside the shop to see how Mandi was doing. She was trying to pay for our book using her fancy Magic Bands. Let me tell you about Magic Bands! When you book a Disney travel, they offer you free Magic Bands, and by email instruct you to "Choose and customize your Magic Bands!". I tried to follow the instructions, but was only able to confirm my Canadian address and accept my shipping address for the bands to be our Disney hotel. Upon check-in, the "cast member" helping us first grabbed and opened the wrong box (good thing I realized no one in my party was Zoe), then got our box and was surprised our bands were the default grey color. I explained the website wouldn't let me choose, he informed me I did it wrong. Thanks, buddy. Whatever, we got our bands. Nichole hated it. We tried to convince her, and got her to wear it for half of the day today, but she still wines and complains non stop about it, so I think I'll give up on that. Upon getting into the park, the member that "greeted" us was very impatient when he realized we were new to the whole "Magic Band" thing, and we later realized he neglected to offer Nichole her "First Visit" badge (she did get her United Air badge, though, forgot about that!). So now Mandi is trying to pay for her purchase by placing her band against the sensor as instructed by the not-so-fluent-in-English cast member. It turned blue. "Make it turn Green" he told her. So she did. "Put in your PIN now". "PIN pad says "Thank you" with no PIN entered", I says to him. "Enter PIN NOW" he replies. This went back and forth 2 or 3 times before I finally scanned my band, it went green, I entered my PIN and took my receipt. We headed out.



We wandered around until we came across Marida and her courtyard. The line was quick, they had coloring for the kids while waiting in her courtyard, and the cast members were all very happy and easy to deal with. A really great experience. Nichole got a hug and a signature (obviously the authentic Merida signature) and we headed out in search of Ariel and her grotto.

On the way we found some distractions. First was the "Mr Sanderz" house, by the "Pooh" ride. We had a peak at the house, but skipped the ride due to the

line. Yeeks. But Nichole did want a ride, so we crossed the road to the Dumbo tent. We played around under the Big Top, got some pictures of Nichole and some kids doing what appeared to be pole dancing (that's a circus skill, I assume - I decided not to share these) before hopping into one of the cars and going in circles for a few minutes on "Dumbo the Flying Elephant".

Right outside the exit was the entrance to "Barnstormer", a fun little roller-coaster type plane ride. After the 15 minute line we enjoyed the 30 second flight, and we were back out on the street.



After a pit stop at the bathrooms and the gift shop for Nichole's new hat, we found Ariel's grotto hiding behind some construction. Nichole wanted to take the tour before meeting her most beloved princess, so we slid over to take the "Under the Sea Journey With The Little Mermaid". We then got in the longest line yet, this one to meet Ariel herself in all her splendor. Nichole was star-struck and didn't even know where to begin. It all went well, and as soon as we got out of the cave she said "Can we go see Sleeping Beauty?" Right.

We never did find her (she must have been having a snooze) but instead got on the Steam Train at Fantasy Land Station and headed around the park to

Frontierland to take a ride on the "Big Thunder Mountain Rail". Nichole loved it, even the 40 minute queue was fun for her with all the blowing stuff up and making stuff make noise. Worth the wait, but I found out later (back at our hotel) that we were entitled 3 free "Fast Passes" that we didn't know about, that would have been nice to have. We know now! (for the rest of our trip).

Mandi was about ready to die of hunger, so we headed to the restaurant strip (passing the "under refurbishment" Splash Mountain) for an early supper. After

that, we started heading out, passing on the $10 balloons that Nichole so badly wanted. We made it to the gates, and decide to take the Tram to Epcot Center and catch the bus to our resort from there. Something to do, and it was fun. Back at our hotel we did some planning for the next few days, booking some dining reservations with some Disney Characters as well as some Fast-Pass times, got Mandi a snack, and headed back to the room. We got ready for bed, Nichole fell asleep great even with the lights on (must have had a busy day), Mandi did shortly after, and I might soon as well.

Check out some photos atturbo.ca/travel.

And have a great night!

 

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Saturday January 11, 2014. 22:29
Getting To Disney World!

 

Well, it was a day. Last night we stayed at the BEST WESTERN PREMIER Freeport Inn & Suites before getting up at 0500 to catch our 0755 flight south. The idea behind this was Mandi would be able to spend a wee bit of time with her sister who flew in from China last night at 2250, exchange some Christmas gifts, have a quick breakfast in the morning and wish each other safe travels as we head through customs. This went mostly according to plans, if plans also included 5 hours of sleep and a whirlwind visit! It did go well, and I was thankful to Donna and Steph for helping us get to the airport and get going.

Once through customs and baggage check, I was informed I was "randomly" selected for special screening. Not too eventful, but that's because I'm starting to expect these things. We grabbed breakfast and boarded our plane without further event. The flight went pretty good, other than a 30 min delay because they forgot to do the safety run through on our plane. Go ahead, please, we'll just wait here.

We had our layover in Chicago, which a few days ago was cause for concern due to weather and backlogs, but all was well. Nichole loved the underground tunnel from Terminal C to Terminal B, what with all the escalators and moving pedways, so we went back and forth a few times before getting to the food court for some lunch. Greasy, expensive, more or less normal airport cuisine. We got our next flight and went on our way.

We landed in Orlando on time, and headed straight to the Disney shuttle we had booked. We had decided to take the risk of labeling our bags with pre-printed Disney luggage tags that should eventually find their way to our resort and room. And they did. It did take the full 3 hours they warned us it could, but almost to my surprise, we got them.

After we checked in, while we waited for our bags, we made use of our limited meal plan included in our Disney bundle and had some supper. FYI, when at the food court in the Riverside Port Orleans resort, get the build-your-own pasta vs the chicken pieces. We got back to our room, got ready for bed, received our luggage, and settled in for the night. Well, everyone else did. Now, I'll join them. Until next time!

 

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Thursday January 9, 2014. 17:43
Getting Ready To Go!

 

Almost packed and ready to head-out!

 

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Wednesday January 1, 2014. 22:56

 

Disney World 2014 - The Plan

Sat Jan 11, 2014 07:55 - 18:13

FLIGHT

Depart Calgary, AB (YYC) on United Air Flight #UA283 / UA288 (Layover in Chicago, IL - ORD) to Orlando, FL (MCO)

Sat Jan 11 - 16, 2014

HOTEL

Catch Disney shuttle from MCO to Disney World. Check into "PORT ORLEANS RVERSIDE RESORT"


Sun Jan 12, 2014

DISNEY

Disney's Animal Kingdom Park

Mon Jan 13, 2014

DISNEY

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Tues Jan 14, 2014

DISNEY

Disney's Magic Kingdom Park

Wed Jan 15, 2014

DISNEY

Epcot & Downtown Disney

Thurs Jan 16, 2014

DISNEY

Enjoy Disney World Parks!

Fri Jan 17, 2014

ROAD TRIP

Catch shuttle from Disney World to MCO to pick up rental car. Drive to Candlewood Suites, Miam to meet up with Mom, Troy, Lee & Lisa for supper.

Fri Jan 17 - Sat Jan 18, 2014

HOTEL

Candlewood Suites, Miami with everyone!

 

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Random In-Sites:
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Life Changing Facts:
On average, an iceberg weighs 20 million tons.
'Deep Thoughts'
Here's a good trick: Get a job as a judge at the Olympics. Then, if some guy sets a world record, pretend that you didn't see it and go, "Okay, is everybody ready to start now?".
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