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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
 

Laura

22
Premium Member
That mall you went to in Culver City is called Fox Hills. If you've seen Superbad, it's the exact same mall they're in during the last scene of the film:D

That mall is so awesome. We discovered it a few months ago when our flight was cancelled and we had 14 hours to kill. We are starting to establish a pre-flight tradition of Universal, then BJ's for dinner at that mall, then CVS, then LAX.:)
 

Californian Elitist

Well-Known Member
That mall is so awesome. We discovered it a few months ago when our flight was cancelled and we had 14 hours to kill. We are starting to establish a pre-flight tradition of Universal, then BJ's for dinner at that mall, then CVS, then LAX.:)

Sounds like the most brilliant pre-flight plan ever created, especially for Florida:) I like that mall too, I think it's really nice, especially with the Target.
 

NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
MONDAY, OCTOBER 1
I didn't sleep much the night before. I played on my iPhone until 2-2:30am - just didn't feel too hot. :( Kinda nauseated. And I felt that way when it was time to get up in the morning, too. But I was gonna power through it - it was EPCOT Center's 30th birthday, after all!

While Laura was getting ready, I decided to go down to the lobby and check out this "FREE CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST!" the hotel offered. When I got there, I found a juice/tea machine, coffee, packets of oatmeal, and jelly/butter packets. That's IT. :p Wow. I didn't even understand the point of the jelly and butter. There was a toaster, but no toast. Did they run out in the hour the thing had been going by the time I got there? Or was it BYOT? Who knows. I grabbed some orange juice for Laura, went back to the room, and ate my last Publix chocolate chocolate chip muffin for breakfast (and I felt good again after eating, too). Laura didn't want it, so we drove across the street to the Celebration Chick-fil-A and picked her up some Chick-n-Minis that she chowed down on the drive to Epcot.

One thing that was awesome about the hotel was that the Stacey countdown was on TV! Woohoo! I had this on at every second while were in the room. Kind of made me feel like I was on property in some awful room, haha.

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We pulled into the Epcot parking lot at 8:50am and quickly walked to the park entrance. I was super excited to get in and receive my commemorative map and button!

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I noticed a MASSIVE line going to something as soon as we got towards Spaceship Earth. As we kept walking I eventually figured out that it was heading straight to MouseGear for the 30th merchandise. Dayyyyuum! I wanted to get some pins, but there was no way I was gonna wait that long. I'll try again later!

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Laura and I met up with Monty at the benches just past MouseGear. This is where everyone doing the WDWCelebrations scavenger hunt was meeting at 9:30. We chatted for a bit and then Laura and I went off in search of a fan or something that could produce cold air because it was already incredibly hot outside. We went to MouseGear, but the entire store was closed to anyone not in line. So lame! Then we went to the cart by Electric Umbrella, but they only had the giant fans. While we were there, though, I noticed they had the AP and DVC 30th pins, so we got in a short line and picked up the AP pin and a box of the mystery pins.

We went back to the area of benches to find Monty, but they had brought the massive merchandise line over there so we found everyone further back by the Agent P place. From there we were all led into the lovely A/C "hallway" for the scavenger hunt distribution.

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It was good to see old friends and new ones here - I hadn't seen Marcia (sillyspook13 on the boards) or her husband Marcus in the longest time, and we also got to meet Bill (nepalostparks) and Evan (DisneyInsider) for the first time. I had no desire to do the scavenger hunt because they're incredibly tough and exhausting, but Laura really wanted to do it. She formed a team with Monty, Bill, and Evan. Their team name was "Lunch > Scavenger Hunt Between Noon-1PM Team." Yeah… strange. :p

While the scavenger hunt materials were being passed out, I ran over to a cart in the breezeway to see if they had any fans. Lo and behold, they did! It was a small Mickey Mouse-shaped battery-powered fan. The blades went around Mickey's nose, heh. I can't find a pic of it online, but it's super cute and was a steal (at WDW prices, people!) for only $6. Definitely something good to invest in on a hot Florida day!

My best friend in Florida, Nick, was coming to Epcot as soon as he decided to get up (he drove to Orlando from West Palm Beach when he got off of work at midnight Sunday - so he was pretty tired, haha), so that was another reason why I didn't want to do the scavenger hunt. I had no plans until he got to the park, though, so I decided to stay with Laura and her team until he got there. Their first questions led us to…

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I was happy, since I love Ellen's Energy Adventure. It's fun and relaxing. But their questions only related to the pre-show, so that's all I got to do. :p Lame.
 

NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
Our next stop was the "Dream Home," or whatever it's called. There were a few questions about it in the scavenger hunt. I'd never been inside. It was cool but took wayyyyy too long to go through. I wish it had the setup of the one at the Innoventions in Disneyland - you check everything out at your own pace.

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I was getting a tad bored with standing around and searching for answers, so I decided to split from the group for a bit. I wanted to check out the ImageWorks gift shop to see if there was anything to buy Laura's niece for her upcoming birthday - she became a huge Figment fan on her first trip to WDW last November (Laura wrote a TR for that one - Our Not-So-Merry Thanksgiving Vacation), so I was hoping to find something good. Of course, finding anything Figment for myself would also be nice! :p

I ran into a high school marching band on the way there. Pretty cool! I've never seen one strolling through Epcot.

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I ran into our good friend Rain (rainfully) on my way into ImageWorks. She was with her sister and a friend and they were on the way to the Behind the Seeds tour. It was great to see her and we'd catch up with her again later in the day.

I didn't find anything in ImageWorks, so I texted Laura to see where they were at. They were in the Circle of Life pre-show, so I decided to head over and take in some wall-carpet goodness. :p I also needed to get in a good laugh at the phallus-shaped design on the wall when you walk in.

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The next question led the group over to the jumping fountains outside Captain EO, so that was our next destination. I told you this freakin' scavenger hunt was exhausting! :confused: I can't believe they wanted to do it.

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Nick called me while we were over there to tell me he was in the parking lot, so I made my way up front to meet him. I stopped in the Art of Disney on the way to see if they had anything good in there. Well, I stumbled upon this lovely piece of art for the 30th with Figment! I just had to have it for my Epcot collection. I was originally gonna get the larger print, but settled on the 8x10 for $25.

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Nick had bought his ticket (he actually got a FL Resident Weekday Annual Pass) and gotten into the park while I was in the store, so I told him to meet me there. He came in and showed me his new pass, so we used it to get the merchandise discount. The CM made him pay since I was using his discount, and this turned out to be a thing everywhere we went. Sometimes I could pay using Laura's AP, and other times they demanded she be the one to pay with her own card or cash. That was a pain and I still owe Laura a ton of money, haha.

We had a lunch ressie at Coral Reef Restaurant for 11:55, and it was just about that time, so Nick and I went straight there to meet up with everyone.

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More on the way soon!
 

NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
That mall you went to in Culver City is called Fox Hills. If you've seen Superbad, it's the exact same mall they're in during the last scene of the film:D
I recognize the Fox Hills name from a road sign. I only know it as Westfield Culver City. :p It really is a great mall. I had NO idea it was the one from Superbad - I totally would've been looking for the spot they were all at if I had! I definitely will next time.
 

Californian Elitist

Well-Known Member
I recognize the Fox Hills name from a road sign. I only know it as Westfield Culver City. :p It really is a great mall. I had NO idea it was the one from Superbad - I totally would've been looking for the spot they were all at if I had! I definitely will next time.

I agree, it is a great mall:) I'll give you a hint. There's an escalator on the first floor that's almost in the middle of the mall. There's a milkshake venue next to it. They shot the last scene in that exact spot.

Great trip report, BTW! Great descriptions and pictures.
 

Laura

22
Premium Member
I agree, it is a great mall:) I'll give you a hint. There's an escalator on the first floor that's almost in the middle of the mall. There's a milkshake venue next to it. They shot the last scene in that exact spot.

Great trip report, BTW! Great descriptions and pictures.

I know exactly where you're talking about. We always want to try a milkshake from there.
 

NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
Our lunch party consisted of me, Nick, Laura, Kate, Robert, and Monty. I think everyone but Nick, Laura, and I had eaten at Coral Reef before. I'd always wanted to, and was super happy to finally get the chance today!

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We were seated at a booth along the back wall, which sucked, but the views of the aquarium were still good. I really enjoyed the atmosphere here. The only time I've ever eaten at a joint like this was at the Aquarium Restaurant in Nashville (inside Opry Mills). That was a fun place and I got a similar vibe here.

I definitely liked how they brought a bread basket out! Who doesn't love some yummy bread?

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Nick and I both had chicken caesar salads. I wanted to keep it fairly simple since I knew we'd all be eating and drinking in World Showcase soon after. The salad was what you'd expect!

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Laura and Robert had the lobster mac & cheese (or whatever fancy name they give it there):

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Monty had the mahi mahi:

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And Kate has the lobster bisque (not pictured). Everyone seemed to enjoy their meals! It seems to be a hit-or-miss place around these parts, but I would definitely come back and try something different.

Laura and Monty booked it to the American Adventure after we finished up to turn in their scavenger hunt materials, so Kate, Nick, and I followed behind them. We also ran into Jackie on the way, who hooked Kate up with an umbrella since it looked like it was about to pour (it didn't, thankfully, but lightly sprinkled a bit).

We all met up inside Liberty Inn and chatted with some people for a bit before deciding what to do next. I was thinking we should get in line for the Epcot "anniversary moment" at 3pm in the America Gardens Theatre, but no one else really cared to do it. Monty suggested Rose & Crown Pub for drinks - who could turn that down!?

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I had a Jameson & Coke, Nick wound up having one or two of those and a Guinness, and Monty had quite a few double gin & tonics and other fun drinks. We stood at a table for a bit, and while we were there Laura spotted our friend Dave (ClemsonTigger) walking by outside. She ran out to grab him and he came in to have drinks with us. We eventually got a table and sat down for a while, just drinking and chatting. It was a good time!

The scavenger hunt awards presentation was at 3:30 in front of the American Adventure, so we went there after finishing up at R&C. The "anniversary moment" was still happening when we got there, so we stood towards the back and watched for a bit. It definitely seemed like a good idea to skip - everyone woulda been bored outta their minds, I think!

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NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
I noticed some nasty lookin' cloudage coming in while we were back there. I bet it's gon' rain!!

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Since we were by the Hops & Barley booth, Nick and I went for some beer while we waited for the "moment" to end. I had a good ol' 12oz Sam Adams Oktoberfest - possibly my favorite beer evar:

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And Nick got the 6oz beer flight, which came with Boston Lager, Oktoberfest, Cherry Wheat, and Chocolate Block. He liked the Cherry Wheat, but hated the Chocolate Block (so did Laura - I didn't try it, though). He also isn't a big Oktoberfest fan, so I wound up taking that from him.

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It started to look REALLY nasty outside, and the stupid "moment" was going on for a super long time, so we took cover at the entrance of AmAdv and waited.

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I ran out to catch a shot of the parade of attraction CMs heading into the theater:

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And then it rained, and it rained, and it rained - just as the "moment" had ended. EVERYONE ran towards AmAdv and it got crazy packed there. We stayed in our spots and tried to figure out what WDWCelebrations was doing about the awards presentation that had been moved to 4pm. Eventually we found out that they pushed it to 5pm and moved the group viewing of AmAdv to 4pm - which totally conflicted with Monty's WDWMAGIC meet in Showcase Plaza. Everyone agreed that Monty's meet was more important, so we decided to skip it.

We took shelter inside Liberty Inn from there, and everyone was hungry so we all got some foods. Nick had chili, Kate and Monty both had chili cheese dogs & fries, Laura had a Mickey rice krispie treat, and I went for the chocolate mousse s'mores brownie, which is exactly what it sounds like - graham cracker bottom, brownie above, topped with a heap of chocolate mousse and marshmallow. It was incredibly rich but very, very good. I'm surprised I ate the whole thing!

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Hakunamatata

Blood Orange Please
Premium Member
Since we were by the Hops & Barley booth, Nick and I went for some beer while we waited for the "moment" to end. I had a good ol' 12oz Sam Adams Oktoberfest - possibly my favorite beer evar:

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Just curious as to how you could possibly drink that out of a plain cup?
 

SweetMagic

Oh Meyla Weyla
Premium Member
We all met up inside Liberty Inn and chatted with some people for a bit before deciding what to do next. I was thinking we should get in line for the Epcot "anniversary moment" at 3pm in the America Gardens Theatre, but no one else really cared to do it. Monty suggested Rose & Crown Pub for drinks - who could turn that down!?

Some of us did it! :cool:

The scavenger hunt awards presentation was at 3:30 in front of the American Adventure, so we went there after finishing up at R&C. The "anniversary moment" was still happening when we got there, so we stood towards the back and watched for a bit. It definitely seemed like a good idea to skip - everyone woulda been bored outta their minds, I think!

:confused:
 

NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
Rain, her boyfriend, and her sister were nearby so they came in and sat down for a bit while we were in there. After we finished up and the rain stopped, we all took a Friendship boat to Showcase Plaza for Monty's WDWMAGIC meet! There was a surprisingly good turnout… I sadly didn't catch the names of everyone who stopped by, but check the thread Monty started in General Discussion for more on that end. I know off the top of my head that DisneyJoe, joel_maxwell, Master Yoda, Scoutn757, wannabebelle, DisneyInsider, Laura, rainfully, SweetMagic, and I were all there! :p It was good to see everyone.

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It was incredibly hot and muggy during the meet, so a few of us tried to take cover at the nearby shop while the meet was going on. Nick and I ran over to the Caribbean booth for these bad boys - Bacardi Torched Cherry Frozen Limeade. Holy crap, these things were gooooooood! I could've put 'em down all day long. And they get props for coming in cool light-up #EPCOT30 glasses (if you paid $12.75, of course!).

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Monty was talking to someone for quite a while, so we stood around and browsed through the shop while we waited for him to finish up.

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It was close to 6pm when Monty was FINALLY done, so we all headed towards Imagination for the group ride. Laura and I stopped for a picture together - it was about damn time! :p

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And then we went on the group ride. I know Journey Into Imagination with Figment gets a lot of hate - and don't get me wrong, the original is truly the best - but I've always enjoyed it. I'm glad Figment is still around, and it's a fun way to get out of the heat and enjoy yourself. *shrug*

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The group stopped for a few mins. inside Club Cool after the ride, so I used that as an opportunity to run towards MouseGear and see if the merchandise line had disappeared. Monty and I really wanted those "I Was There" pins! There was still a massive line, though, so I figured this would have to likely wait until closing time.

From there, everyone went to the group ride at the one and only Spaceship Earth! I can't believe it was 6:45 and we were just getting to ride this that day. It's always worth the wait, though.

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And while we waited for the whole group to get together, Laura decided to take ANOTHER picture with me! I am so lucky! :p

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Laura rode with Kate, so Nick and I sat behind 'em. Nick wore his sunglasses for the picture and he didn't get to have part of his face in the ending:

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NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
I forgot to mention - after R&C Pub, Nick and I ran into the U.K. shops as he was looking for a type of rugby polo he'd gotten there before. While we were inside, a very, um, "well-asseted" woman caught Nick's eye. She was bent over her stroller and breastfeeding her kid right there! I mean, I have no issues with breastfeeding or anything, but it was incredibly strange seeing it done bent over a stroller in the middle of a busy shop. :p

Anyways… after SSE, I thought we were done with WDWCelebrations for the night since the next thing on the schedule was for people who were doing the Illuminations Dessert Party, but they led all of us to that lovely air conditioned hallway behind Club Cool. I wasn't sure what was happening. Well, it turned out they had Gene Columbus in there to share some stories about EPCOT Center's grand opening celebration in 1982. Gene was apparently one of the big guys behind the whole shindig, so he had a lot of cool stuff to tell. It was a nice, unexpected surprise.

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Everyone going to the dessert party had to go after Gene was done, so we had to say goodbye to Monty there. Kate also wasn't doing the dessert party and planned to watch Illuminations with Robert in the special reserved area for Chase card members (if I knew I could go get a wristband earlier in the day, I would've!), so we parted with her there too. Laura was starving and Nick and I had no clue what to do next, so we all went to World Showcase to get some food and a spot for Illuminations.

Cranberry bog!

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Laura loves anything that has to do with cheese, so the 'Cheese' booth was our first stop. It's all the way back by Germany. She and Nick each ordered the cheese fondue thing, and Laura also had a sauvignon blanc.

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I wasn't up for just cheese, but the description of the "Schniken Nudel" in Germany caught my eye. Pasta with ham and cheese? Count me in! This was super, super good.

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Our next stop was the Italy booth. Nick had the baked cheese ravioli, and Laura had a chocolate-covered cannoli.

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We went back and forth on deciding where to watch Illuminations from. We tried a couple of spots back there, but there was always something in the way. We finally settled on the bridge between China and the Outpost, and this turned out to be a pretty good place to watch from. We wound up behind people on the rail, but they left midway through the show (why in the world would you do that with the tag afterwards!?) so we got right on it.

I'm not an Illuminations guy at all (everything before the globe stuff = OMGAMAZEBALLS, everything after? *snore*), but I was so excited for the tag afterwards. And holy crap, it did not disappoint! If you haven't seen a video already, I urge you to get on YouTube right now and find one. That thing totally destroyed any New Year's Eve or 4th of July fireworks I've ever seen. The bridge we were standing on felt like it was going to collapse during the finale! It was that powerful.

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We sat down at a nearby table after the show because Jackie was coming by to drop off an EPCOT Center thingy I bought from Kate on eBay a week or two before. After I grabbed it from him, we walked to Showcase Plaza and found Kate there. She was waiting for exit chaos to end and to see what Jackie was doing, so we waited with her. Apparently the dessert party was continuing in the Odyssey, so Jackie was going back there. Kate decided to leave the park with us then, so we all sadly walked towards the exit, where the inevitable goodbyes had to be said. Much sadness abound! :(

Since we didn't have much of a dinner, Nick, Laura, and I decided to go searching for somewhere to eat. We had separate cars so Nick decided we should meet him at the Hess across from the Boardwalk and go from there. Well, he wound up taking a wrong turn and ended up on 535. :p I had him take I-Drive South and we met him at the Walgreens at the corner of that and 192.

It was 11:00 on a Monday in the off-season, so our choices were limited. Where'd we wind up?

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I traveled clear across the country to eat at an IHOP on 192 for dinner! :p Haha. It was a nice, relaxing late dinner, though. I had the "simple & fit" two-egg breakfast.

We said goodnight to Nick after dinner (he was staying at a friend's house) and went back to our lovely five-star motel. Laura found the ants or termites or whatever they were still crawling around the bathroom sink and door, and she decided she couldn't take it anymore. We wound up going to to the front desk and asked for a room switch. The dude gave us the farthest away room possible - last one on the second floor of the building at the back edge of the property. We go in and the toilet is running, the carpet is yucky, and there's still a few ants or termites or whatever they were running around. Oh, and the bed had a flat sheet - not a fitted sheet - over the mattress. Ugh! We gave up, though, and decided to deal with it. We only had a few more hours in the room anyways. I've learned my lesson and will never pay that little for a hotel room again. :p
 

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