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NemoRocks & Laura's Hot as Heck #EPCOT30 and Food & Booze Extravaganza

Howdy howdy howdy, and welcome to our fun lil trip report! Hopefully y'all will enjoy it. If ya don't, my apologies in advance, heh. Anyways, I wrote a pre-trip report ("Insert Witty Title Here" Pre-Trip Report) two months ago that discussed all of the fun things we were doing on this trip. But if you're too lazy to click that link and read for a few mins., I'll give ya a short 'n sweet version: we were going to Walt Disney World for four days to enjoy Epcot's 30th anniversary shenanigans and the Food & Wine Festival, and expected to have a great time - which was definitely had!

I'll start this trip report off on departure day, which included a visit to Universal Studios Hollywood - so let's get this bad boy goin'!

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28TH
I just barely slept the night before. I was so excited the entire week for no reason. I even packed a couple days before, when I'm usually a "night before/day of" kinda guy! I mean, everyone's excited before a trip to WDW, but I'd never felt anything like it before. But that was fine by me!

Laura was originally going to have to work all day Friday, which is why we had to take a red-eye flight. They definitely aren't fun, but it's better than flying out the next morning and wasting most of the day. I was mostly worried about getting to the airport that evening - we were flying out of LAX, which is 90 miles away, and we'd be driving there on a Friday evening. Anyone who lives in Cali knows Friday evening traffic is the WORST. Originally Laura would be getting home at 5:30, and we'd have exactly five hours before our flight left to get up there, have dinner, and get into the airport. It wasn't exactly impossible by any means, but I was still worried. Anyways, she asked her boss if she could leave an hour early that day, and he told her to take the whole day off! :rolleyes: UGH! I mean, that's great and all, but he could've done this two months before when we booked our flights. I could've had an extra day in WDW! :p

I wanted to leave the house first thing Friday morning, but Laura would never allow that to happen. The house has to be spotless before we leave. She spent the morning finishing cleaning and packing, while I had to go to a physical therapy appt. (lower back problems - lame!) and stop by Target for some last-minute things. We wound up leaving the house just after 1pm.

Getting to L.A. was mostly a breeze. We hit up a McDonald's drive-thru in San Clemente and split a 20-piece McNugget meal for lunch. Traffic wasn't a factor until we approached downtown L.A. on the 110. I wound up getting off at one point and driving through town like a mad man before getting back on at the 101. Traffic was a mess through Hollywood but we eventually made it to Universal Studios Hollywood!

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I think stopping at the park is going to become a tradition for us when we've got a red-eye out of LAX, haha. We did it back in June, too. I just wanted to run in for a bit to check out the Halloween Horror Nights decorations and ride Transformers. And that's basically exactly what we did!

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The park was actually quite busy for a Friday. I was expecting little to no people. There were a ton of Asian tour groups in there, though. Most of the rides had 30+ min. waits. We simply rode Transformers as a walk-on through the single rider line and still rode in the same car together. It's such an awesome ride!

It was still wicked early to head to the airport area once we left the park, so I scrambled to find us something to do. I figured this was a good time to drive a few miles north to show Laura the filming location for The Office! Haha. I've been a huge fan since the beginning, but we recently watched most of the series (through season 7) on Netflix and now Laura's hooked too. The show's set in Scranton, Pennsylvania, but they film in L.A., and the office building is in an industrial area of the city. Anyone can drive right up to it.

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After that little diversion, we hopped on the road to the LAX area. We had to take 405 south, and it was like 5-6pm, so traffic was nuts. Going north was worse, though. That was barely moving.

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We stopped in Culver City, which is just north of LAX, and went to a mall there. It's super cool… very "modern" and they have stores like Target and Best Buy, in addition to the usual suspects like Macy's and JCPenney. Laura bought a larger purse at Target to carry in the parks and we walked around the mall for a bit before going to the attached BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse for dinner. Laura had an individual Hawaiian pizza and I went with one of their giant baked potatoes with cheese & bacon on top. Super yummy! Laura also had a baked beignet for dessert, but I decided to skip that.

It was around 7:45 when we finished dinner, so Laura figured it was a good time to get over to the airport. I stopped at a nearby CVS to buy some ThermaCare heat wraps for my back (that I'd wind up never using!), and then we went to the offsite Park 'N Fly lot to park. Once we were in the terminal I had to check the board and make sure our flight wasn't canceled, heh. The last two times I've flown out of LAX have been scary (a few years ago, I was three hours late to ATL, missed my connection, and spent the night in the terminal - then in June our flight was cancelled in the morning and we couldn't leave until 12:45am that night). Everything was fine, though! The security line was even nonexistent at that time so getting to the gate was simple. We had time to kill so we charged our phones and browsed some shops. I grabbed some pretzel M&M's and water as I was getting a tad hungry before boarding. Soon enough we were on the plane, which took off right on time at 10:35, and then we were off to Florida! :D
 

NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29TH
Red-eyes are so brutal. There was a baby in front of us that cried a ton and there was a toddler a few rows back that had a similar meltdown. I wish parents would try their best to skip red-eyes with possibilities like that! :confused: I got about twoish, maybe close to three hours of sleep total, and Laura got the same. Our plane also landed a half hour early - nice, but I wanted to attempt to get a few more minutes of sleep, heh.

Tired, we ran through the airport to get to baggage claim and the rental car desk. I went to pick up Laura's bag (gate checked, unfortunately - they decided it wasn't gonna fit in the overhead while we were on the jetway) while she took care of the rental car. We had to make the ressie in her name as I'm under 25 and she's… not. :p I booked a good deal with Dollar, but I was a tad scared about it because their reviews (and basically everyone's but Enterprise) were awful. Laura escaped the hard-sells, though, and left the desk area alive. We then went off in search of our rental car, and every single car in the "COMPACT" row was this:

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o_O So, well, that's what we had to take. :p So much for a compact! That thing was a beast.

Our plan was to head to my family's condo in Kissimmee to shower, change clothes, and have breakfast before heading to Magic Kingdom. We had to take backroads as I only know how to get there via toll roads, but we made it pretty fast despite the issue (it's times like these when I miss my SunPass!). It was about 7am when we pulled up to the condo. My parents had come the night before and were sleeping when we got there, but they bring our Yorkies with them when they come up from West Palm Beach and they went crazy once I walked in. That woke my mom up and she came out. I hung out with her and the dogs while Laura got ready for the day.

This is Mickey. He was very sick and his original owner wanted to put him down when he was a baby, but my dad (a veterinarian) fixed him up and we kept him. He's 5, but still very hyperactive!

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And this is Minnie… she was also sick and my dad fixed her up. She's not as crazy as Mickey, heh. She likes to get some lovin'.

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Eventually I got ready and we had breakfast. Laura's good with her cereal but I just had to have my mom bring me my super deelish chocolate chocolate chip muffins from Publix. They are heavenly!

We got out the door around 9:30 (sans parents - they were coming to MK later) and made our way over to the Vacation Kingdom of the World. :D I was so happy to be back.

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We parked in Aladdin. I definitely miss the Fab 5 and Dwarves lots, heh. We had to wait for a tram that soon got us over to the TTC and once there I stopped to turn in my Florida Resident Play 4 Day Pass voucher for the actual ticket. We hoped Laura could have her Premier Passport activated here too (you have to have it activated on each coast - super lame!), but they couldn't do it. We'd have to wait until we got to MK for Guest Relations to do the job.

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The first of many hand pics I'd get through the trip:

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She just doesn't want her picture taken! :rolleyes:

We eventually made it over to the park and had to sit through a pretty heavy line at Guest Relations for her Passport to be activated. That took all of 5 seconds to do. Ugh! I just want to get in the park…

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… but we soon did! :cool:

We were attempting to meet with the WDWCelebrations group for the morning activities in MK that day, but we were too late to the party. The group was in Mickey's PhilarMagic when we got to Fantasyland - Laura knew this because she stalks fellow forum member Monty with Find My Friends on her iPhone. :p We waited in the Fantasy Faire gift shop until the group walked out and we snuck up on Monty to surprise him. He was with Dave, another forum member (ClemsonTigger), so we all stopped to chat for a few mins. I took in the views of all the New Fantasyland construction at the same time, which looks great!

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NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
We all decided to go to the Haunted Mansion. That was a simple walk-on, and it never gets old! Disneyland's got the original, but it's definitely better in Magic Kingdom. It's what I grew up on and I love the audio and Hitchhiking Ghost effects here.

My mom texted me when we were on the ride to let me know that they had just gotten to the park. I didn't think they'd be there so soon! So we said goodbye to Monty and Dave for a while so we could meet up with my parents. They were in Adventureland so I told them we'd meet up at Pirates of the Caribbean and ride that.

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Super sadness - I never got to have a citrus swirl on this trip. :( We walked by on the way to Pirates, but it was too early in the day for one. I will get one eventually!!

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Everyone was hungry after Pirates, so we went off in search of food. My dad dragged us into Diamond Horseshoe, but nothing sounded good in there at all. Finally we all settled on Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe being the best option, heh. With three different counters, you can't NOT find something to eat in there, I think!

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I had the grilled chicken sandwich with fries and a water:

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Laura had the turkey sandwich, my dad had the roasted chicken, and my mom had the BBQ pork sandwich. Everything was decent. My mom and I sure miss the chicken caesar salad they used to serve up there, though! That was so good. I can't believe they took it off the menu. All they have salad-wise now is a Greek salad.

Next up - a good ol' ride on the TTA! We miss this ride like nothing else when visiting Disneyland. It'd be amazing to have here. Always appreciate your TTA!

Still can't get her face… :p

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I, however, am more than happy to pose for a picture!

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We grabbed FPs for Space Mountain - good for the 2:05-3:05 timeframe - and then went to the Carousel of Progress. It was insanely hot outside and we were beat. No doubt some cool air in a relaxing setting would be nice, right?

My mom took this pic of us in there - Laura and I passed out! We'd both been up almost nonstop since 8am the previous day, so that and the heat had us beat. :p I remember getting to the first scene and waking up at the end of the last scene. I feel terrible for sleeping through such a great attraction, but I couldn't help it!

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We all went to Storybook Circus after naptime to check it out. We got to see some of it in June, but the newest additions were still under construction at the time. I think it's extremely well done and I can't wait to check out the inside of Pete's Silly Slideshow and Big Top Souvenirs on our next trip.

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NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
While at lunch, WDWCelebrations tweeted some fun info - Enchanted Tales with Belle was testing. I was hoping to get a chance to see it, but we didn't go there immediately. Since we were back near Fantasyland, I decided to see if we could get in. The door at the construction wall was shut, and a CM was posted in front of it… a family came up and asked what was happening, though, and the CM told them and let them in! So we did just that and got behind the walls for a sneak peek. :cool:

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We had to wait about 15 mins. outside. The first portion of the queue, which is completely uncovered, was brutal in the heat. Laura didn't want to wait, but the line started moving and we were soon under some much-needed shade.

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I thought it was all very well done - I would just change the part where you're sitting there waiting for everyone who participated to take their picture with Belle. I wouldn't wait more than 20 mins. or so for the thing myself, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Even my parents thought it was super cute. Laura didn't care much for it, though. :p Lame.

More on the way soon!
 

NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
My parents decided to leave after Enchanted Tales with Belle because A) it was so darn hot outside, and B) because they needed to go back to the condo and let the dogs out for a bit. They would rejoin us at 5:30 for our dinner reservation at Kona Cafe. That left Laura and I with a few hours to burn, so we went over to Tomorrowland (with a stop at Auntie Gravity's for water - seriously, the heat was insane!) so we could use our Space Mountain FPs. The ride was good, but it definitely killed my back. Big Thunder Mountain did it at Disneyland the weekend before, so I'm not sure why I decided to go on another rough coaster. :confused:

Our good friend, Kate (SweetMagic here on the boards), arrived just after we got off Space Mountain, and we met her outside the exit. We weren't sure what we should do, but Laura found Monty on his way back into the park, so we walked towards the front of Tomorrowland to meet up with him. We all decided to take a break in Tomorrowland Terrace, so we found a table and sat down to chat for a bit and figure out our plan for the rest of the time we had before everyone had to go to dinner. Kate and Monty were dining at The Wave at 5, and Laura and I had Kona Cafe with my parents at 5:30.

We decided on…

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It was time to leave the park once we were done with that, so we made our way out. We cut through the Main Street shops to escape the heat and crowds. Everyone was headed to a resort - Kate and Monty to the Contemporary, Laura and I to Poly - so we ALL rode the resort monorail together.

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We arrived at Poly about 20ish mins. before our reservation, so we checked out the shops and sat in the lobby. I love it here - it's so relaxing!

My parents had never eaten at Kona Cafe, as they usually don't go to resorts to eat. They only like to eat at Epcot and off-property places like Landry's and Mimi's Cafe. I don't get it, but that's them! Thankfully, though, they REALLY enjoyed Kona. My father - who's very hard to please when it comes to restaurants - fell in love with the sweet bread. It reminded him of a bread he used to eat all the time in his home country (he's from Sri Lanka). He also really enjoyed the grilled lamb chops he had for his entree, though he wished there was a bit more meat on 'em. My mother had the teriyaki-style New York strip and loved it too.

I had the coffee-rubbed pork chop with bacon-potato gratin. So yummy!

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Laura had the coconut almond chicken. She's a super picky eater but always loves this, despite the warning of "coconut" and "almond." She claims it simply tastes like a giant Chicken McNugget with honey.

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My parents decided to forgo the evening at MK for a movie at DTD, so we made the trek back to the park ourselves. The plan for the evening was to stick with Monty, Kate, and the WDWCelebrations crew for the group viewings of the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes.

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We were a tad early, so I thought we could try and run into Tomorrowland to ride Buzz Lightyear… but that wasn't happening with the 20 min. wait we walked up to. So we went back to Main Street and met up with everyone. The wait was killer on the legs and feet, being crammed into a crowd of a million people and all, but we had a good time.

*I am the WORST fireworks picture taker imaginable… my hands are too shaky for me to get a good shot, heh. This picture is here just to show that we did indeed watch the fireworks. :p

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Wishes ended with about 20 mins. until the WDWCelebrations meet at Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. By this time, though, Laura and I were completely beat. We decided to head out of the park with Monty and Kate, who also had enough for the day. Monty took a bus back to Pop so we rode the resort monorail (since the express line was redonkulous) with Kate to get back to the TTC. From there we said goodnight and got on the road back to the condo. After a much-needed shower and hanging out with my folks for a bit, we both passed out sometime around midnight.
 

SweetMagic

Oh Meyla Weyla
:D

Dinner that night with Monty was fantastic. I am never disappointed by the Wave. They had just changed over to their fall menu and I had the Pork Tenderloin on Goat Cheese Polenta. So yummy.

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tigsmom

Well-Known Member
Love when you guys do a trip report! Lil'Mermaid (my Katie) was there this past week and really loved all the new stuff (it's been 5 years since we've been down).
 

Laura

the Great
Love when you guys do a trip report! Lil'Mermaid (my Katie) was there this past week and really loved all the new stuff (it's been 5 years since we've been down).

Someone mentioned that. I think Dave? (Clemsontigger) I didn't see her though.
 

NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
Loving it!! Keep it coming!
Thanks! :D Got more on the way soon!

:D

Dinner that night with Monty was fantastic. I am never disappointed by the Wave. They had just changed over to their fall menu and I had the Pork Tenderloin on Goat Cheese Polenta. So yummy.

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Gah! That looks amazing! :eek: I wish we could've been in two places at once!

Love when you guys do a trip report! Lil'Mermaid (my Katie) was there this past week and really loved all the new stuff (it's been 5 years since we've been down).
Hey, Mad! Hope you're enjoying! :cool: Dave mentioned Katie being around. I was hoping we'd run into her somewhere, woulda been cool. Glad she had a great time too!
 

NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 30TH
I got up at 9:30am today, well-rested after getting some MUCH-needed sleep. Laura was still in a deep sleep, though, so I went out to have breakfast and watch TV with my parents until she got up an hour later. We had no plans until 6pm at Epcot, so it was OK to take our time getting up today, heh.

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It was lunch time when we were all finally ready for the day, so we went out in search of some foods. After much debate, my dad threw down the hammer and decided on a Ruby Tuesday on 192, which was fine by Laura and I since there are no RTs in California and we love 'em. Laura had the parmesan chicken pasta and I had Ruby Minis & fries with salad bar. Here is a picture of a Ruby Tuesday meal, in case you've never seen one before. :p

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From there we went to the Orlando Premium Outlets on Vineland (by DTD). I just wanted to go to the Disney outlet for pins and whatever else they might have. Unfortunately the Vineland store isn't very good… I've always had better luck at the International Dr. location. I only left with two Vinylmations - a Florida Gators one on sale for $3.99 and a basketball one since my mom bought two and there was a buy two/get one free thing going on. We also stopped by a few other stores before leaving. It was a quick stop - maybe an hour or so.

Our next thing on the agenda was to find a place for me to get a quick haircut. See, I love my hair. Call me conceited, but I think it's awesome. :p And there was a time in 2009 when I grew it long and it looked super cool. Well, since I'm not working and just going to school right now, I wanted to grow it back out again. I hadn't had a haircut in a few months. But the heat was so insane on Saturday that it made my head crazy and I knew I couldn't deal with another couple o' days of heat. I just wanted the hair gone. Laura also hates it long so she was gonna get her wish of it being chopped off. :rolleyes: We wound up at a "Great Clips" in the Hunter's Creek area on the way back to the condo and 20 mins. later I emerged with a shorter cut. The woman didn't take ALL of it off so I was happy.

We got back to the condo around 4:30 or so to pack up and load the car. My parents were also leaving to go back home at that time so we helped shut the condo down and played with the dogs for a minute. But soon enough it was time for us to depart and I had to say goodbye to my folks. Here's a shot with my mom before we left:

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Laura and I made it to Epcot about 20-25 mins. later. It was like 5:40 when we entered the park. Our reservation at Tokyo Dining was at 6pm, so we had to hurry!

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And "hurry" for me meant stopping at MouseGear to buy the blue EPCOT Center 30th t-shirt and the pavilion logo shotglass, er, 'toothpick holder' set. o_O Heh. Laura also got the maroon women's anniversary t-shirt. I couldn't help it… I was afraid all of the D23 people would get out of their presentations at 6pm and go buy up all the shirts and stuff! :p

We then walked quickly to World Showcase. I caught a Friendship boat boarding in Showcase Plaza, so we hopped aboard and took it to Morocco!

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Our dinner was with Kate, Jackie (brkgnews on the boards!), Monty, and Kate's pal Robert (a former member here… I'll leave his name out of it, LOL). They were all in the D23 thing, which got out exactly at 6pm. They were gonna hurry over to Japan from there. We had a few mins. to kill while they did, so went into Mitsukoshi for a lil bit. I love this store!

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Laura caught a pic of me while we waited outside:

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Everyone arrived at about 6:15 - which was OK with the people at check-in, thankfully! We went right upstairs and waited a second for our buzzer to go off so we could be seated.

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NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
I've been to Tokyo Dining once before and they got me the hook-up on the "white sauce" from Teppan Edo. They graciously did again! I am SO in love with this sauce (that's also served at many hibachi joints around the country). I've tried making it, but it never comes out right. I've also been to multiple Japanese markets in Florida and Southern California and no one has it. I dunno what's the deal with this stuff, but someone needs to mass produce it and get it in grocery stores ASAP!

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I was originally going to have the simple grilled chicken, but at the last second I decided on the "Shibuya" - tempura fried shrimp and chicken! It was delicious.

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Laura had the "Ebisu" - tempura fried shrimp and sea scallops.

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I think everyone wound up getting some kinda of tempura dish. Monty also had some sushi. Everyone really enjoyed their food. And at the end of the meal, Monty got a free slice of cake! That's what he gets for wearing a birthday button weeks before his actual birthday. :p He didn't want any of it, so we all took a few bites, despite being totally stuffed.

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Jackie, Kate, and Robert had to bolt quickly after dinner since they had "World Key Passports" for the D23 thing and that included a dessert reception at Spaceship Earth that started at 7:45. Monty, Laura, and I had no plans until 8:20, when WDWCelebrations was meeting at The Land for group rides on Living with the Land and Soarin'. We decided to just slowly make our way over there. But after a stop in France for a Grand Marnier orange slush, this happened:

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:confused: The heavens opened for like 10 mins. straight. We were stuck under the canopy at the Grand Marnier place, and the rain was coming right at our feet so our shoes got soaked. When it slowed down, we ran to the shop at the exit of Impressions de France to buy some ponchos - I think it was $13 for two after AP discount. And as soon as we walked out of that store the rain had basically stopped completely. o_O Ugh! LOL.

On our way to The Land, Laura stopped for some bubbly at the Canada F&W booth. It sucks that I was so full from dinner - some choup would've been amazing right then!

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Just as we got to the monorail beam by Imagination, the rain started coming down again. Thankfully we had some cover under the beam and were able to throw our ponchos back on for the rest of the walk to The Land.

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The WDWCelebrations group wasn't there yet when we got down to the entrance of the ride, so we had to wait a bit for them to show. Once they got there, it was time to listen to the laaaaaaaand!

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And then we went on Soarin' around 8:55 - complete walk-on! Gotta love going on this thing before Illuminations.

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NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
STILL haven't gotten a pic of Laura's face…

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… but, as usual, I am more than happy to pose! And here I show off the massive WDWCelebrations lanyard. I'd never seen anything like it, haha. We only wore them when we were doing group things.

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After Soarin', we ran over to MouseGear with Monty so he could pick up the blue anniversary t-shirt. Love the retro display in the windows outside!

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While we were in The Land, Monty had decided we should find a bar or something to go to after the park closed, which was a great idea! We originally thought Pop Century's pool bar was the place to go, but we were unsure about what they serve or if they were even open at the time. We finally settled on Downtown Disney being a good spot, since they're open late and all. So we all left the park and drove over there.

We ended up at…

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Finally got her! Wine was the trick. :p

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Monty had a couple gin & tonics…

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I was tired and not feeling 100% so I didn't have anything to drink. We sat outside and chatted and listened to the live music. I think we were there til 11:30 or so. We took Monty back to Pop and then went to check into our hotel for the next two nights - the Rodeway Inn Maingate on 192. :confused: It's across the street from Old Town. I got a AAA rate of $25/night. The reviews weren't terrible - said it was a good place to sleep and shower and nothing more. Well, that's all we needed it for! Can't be too bad, right? I'm not someone who's picky about hotels, either. I can sleep anywhere, as long as it's clean.

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The room was as basic as you'd expect from a typical motel room. The beds were sleepable. But the floor wasn't exactly the cleanest, the bathtub was kinda falling apart, and there were a couple ants or termites or some other kind of tiny bug (not bed bugs, thankfully) running around on the bathroom counter and around the bathroom door. That situation made Laura upset, and I offered to ask for another room or just leave in general, but she said she'd tough it out for the night. We had the condo to go back to, but I'd chosen to stay at a hotel since we needed to be close to the parks for the next two mornings. The condo is so far down in Kissimmee and we'd have to get up a lot earlier to leave on time. I figured $25/night was definitely worth spending, and it turned out to be - just not for that hotel. :p Definitely not one of my best life choices.
 

Hakunamatata

I dont believe you
Premium Member
Paul, you definitely gotta ride it at night sometime! It's so peaceful and relaxing - even more than it already is in the daytime.
It's one of my favorites. I was on a band trip in high school the year after Epcot opened. That technology they talked about was so interesting. Pretty much the same show, but still really cool. Love the aquaculture section. Shrimp in a tube. Lol.
 

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