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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
 

corey154

Active Member
The sad thing about this line is when I was there on Wed, Oct 3rd there were still 30 year annv items available for sale. I was looking at some pins and one of the guys standing next to me commented he stood in line for hours to get that some pin!!


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Laura

22
Premium Member
Ew! I didn't know anything about the gross hotel room! Bleh! :mad:

I didn't mention it? Haha.

It was so nasttttyyy. In the morning I'd be trying to get ready at the bathroom sink, and bugs would be crawling all over my toothpaste and hairbrush and everything. I had to inspect each thing I picked up for bugs and try to keep them from crawling on me the whole time. I was losing my mind!
 

SweetMagic

Oh Meyla Weyla
Premium Member
I didn't mention it? Haha.

It was so nasttttyyy. In the morning I'd be trying to get ready at the bathroom sink, and bugs would be crawling all over my toothpaste and hairbrush and everything. I had to inspect each thing I picked up for bugs and try to keep them from crawling on me the whole time. I was losing my mind!

YUCK! :eek: Thank goodness it was only 2 nights, I probably would have sat up all night with a can of bug spray. :confused:
 

NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
The sad thing about this line is when I was there on Wed, Oct 3rd there were still 30 year annv items available for sale. I was looking at some pins and one of the guys standing next to me commented he stood in line for hours to get that some pin!!


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I'm glad we didn't wait in the line of insanity, as I was able to secure the "I Was There" pin I really wanted the next day at Pin Central! I went home a happy camper. :cool:
 

NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2ND
Departure day. :( UGH. They are the worst! But thankfully we didn't have to leave immediately. Our flight didn't depart until 6:50pm!

I think we got up around 8am today. We were definitely in a hurry to get out of the yucky motel and over to the parks, but unfortunately we still had to get packed up and ready to go. I think we left the place around 9:15 and then drove across the street to Chick-fil-A again. I didn't have any Publix chocolate chocolate chip muffins left (*sadface*) so I got something for breakfast too - a couple o' good ol' Chick-n-Minis!

We went back and forth on where to go today. I had originally planned on starting at DHS and ending up at MK (even had a lunch ADR at Liberty Tree!). With two straight days at Epcot, I figured we'd be more than done with the place. But that just wasn't the case - we only went from 6-close on Sunday, and we mostly just did a lot of walking and hanging out on Monday, which meant there were quite a few things still left to do. So that's where we went!

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Nick asked me to call and wake him up at 9am, and I did that, but he wanted to sleep in more, so we decided to do some browsing and such while we waited for him to get to the park. We stopped by MouseGear first to find gifts for Laura's kids and her niece. I was surprised to find that the front of the store had completely switched to Halloween merchandise over night - it was nothing but EPCOT Center stuff the day before!

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I found John Carter Vinylmations here. Who is buying these…? :p I made it through an hour or so of the flick before shutting it off. I was bored out of my mind.

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We went to Wonders of… ugh, I mean the Festival Center, after we did the MouseGear thing.

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I wanted to rip the Festival Center stuff off to find the Wonders of Life signage underneath!

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I was a big fan of Wonders. Cranium Command and Body Wars were so good. I always make a point of coming in here during the festivals, as much as it pains me to see everything torn out.

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Right behind this garbage was the entrance to Crainum Command… :(

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I also had to stop by The Making of Me, which was playing random HGTV crap. The "sperm chandelier," as I like to call it, still lives in here. Just look at its design in a brighter picture - I swear that's what it was meant to be!

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We got to check out the Ghirardelli exhibit in here, which was cool. We are huge Ghirardelli fans! And they handed out samples at the front and everything.

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Also in the Ghirardelli thing is the entrance to the Chase Lounge. This thing is open for all Chase cardmembers - Disney Visa or not. I have a Southwest Visa, so we got to hop in.

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It was very nice! Lots of comfy places to sit, TVs playing stuff, charging stations for your mobile devices, a touchscreen map of the festival, and best of all - free soda! They were also giving out reserved seating bracelets for both Illuminations and the Eat to the Beat concerts, which was super cool. We sadly had to decline both for obvious reasons. :/

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NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
Back in the Ghirardelli exhibit, we checked out the cool chocolate models…

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Had to snap a pic of my free sample and free Diet Coke! :p

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Time to head into the HQ of Miniaturized Exploration Technologies… right? Where the hell is the entrance!? :(

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I snapped a shot of Test Track construction after we left the Festival Center. I thought going to Epcot would be hella weird without Test Track open. But it was fine, haha. I sure missed it, though!

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We were STILL waiting for Nick to show up by this time, but he hadn't, so we decided to just go ahead and do some rides while we still could. Our first attempt was Spaceship Earth, but:

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Gah - no thanks! I'd rather not spend my final few hours in the park standing in a giant line. We'll try later!

We went to The Living Seas from there and rode Nemo. We actually wound up waiting a good 10 mins. or so in the queue. I can't say I've done that since it was previewing years ago. And at the exit, we caught this happening - so cool! It'd been years since I'd seen someone in there!

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We took a look in the exit gift shop at the Seas and went out from there. I called Nick and wound up waking him up. :rolleyes: Heh. I told him he had 30 mins. to get here or he was gonna miss our 12:00 lunch ADR at Chefs de France (guess I shoulda mentioned that I made the ADR earlier in the morning when we decided on Epcot for the day!).

Since we had to be in France fairly soon, we decided to make our way around the Showcase. First stop? Mexico!

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Had to stop for a shot with my main man Dolan (Gooby pls!):

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We strolled through the countries from there until we ended up in France. I grabbed Laura a Grand Marnier slush before we went into the restaurant.

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NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
We checked in about 10 mins. after our ADR time, but that turned out to be alright since there was barely anyone in the restaurant. Nick showed up about 5 mins. later after booking it through the park. Impressive!

Laura had the "Gratin de Macaroni," which is a personal favorite of mine…

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… but I decided to try something different this time - *insert fancy French name here*. Ok, so it was just a ham & swiss sandwich with mixed greens. :p But it was pretty darn good!

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Nick had the ham & cheese quiche with mixed greens.

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Look at how empty it is!

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Remy stopped by the table - that's always fun.

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Chefs is another favorite restaurant of mine that seems to be hit or miss for others. They've got a good selection and I've never had a bad meal or service there. I think the only thing I'm disappointed with is the lack of a mixed drink menu, heh. All they had was wine, champagne, and vermouth.

It looked like another nasty storm was gonna roll in after lunch. Thankfully we'd wind up leaving the park without a drop on us later!

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We walked through the U.K. and Canada and ended up in Showcase Plaza for drinks at the surrounding booths. I first stopped at the Hawaii one for a Mai Tai.

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Then we went to the Caribbean for more Bacardi Torched Cherry frozen limeades! These things are amazing. Nick also picked up a jerk chicken drumstick here.

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NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
With drinks in hand, we made our way into Future World and over to my personal hell - Mission: SPACE. I call it that as I feel sick walking on the grave of Horizons whenever I'm forced to ride this crappy thing. :p

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We went to MouseGear after the ride to make some final purchases, and then I decided to stop by Pin Central to see if they happened to have any of the limited edition 30th pins left. Sure enough - they did! I bought one for me, one to send to Monty, and one for eBay that I turned around and sold for double the cost. :p

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Next up was good ol' Spaceship Earth. It was a walk-on by this time - excellent!

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It was around 2:45 when we got off the ride. I figured we needed to leave by 3:30 to have enough time to stop for gas, get to the airport, etc. Laura also wanted to stop by a Bank of America to deposit a check. We had a small amount of time left, but no one could figure out what to do with it. World Showcase was too far away and there wasn't really anything ride-wise left to do in Future World (other than Energy, which I really wanted to do, but it takes up too much time). So… Laura decided it was best for us just to leave. :(

We stopped outside Spaceship Earth to get some shots of it and the area. Laura is obsessed with taking panoramas now on iOS 6, so she did a few of those, and I decided to try one out too - although I did a half one to make it look cleaner. It came out kinda warped, haha.

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Laura got a picture of me extremely sad and ed off about having to leave my most favorite place in the world, and in the process I got photo bombed by Nick! :p

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NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
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Nick wanted to continue his day at Magic Kingdom, so we said goodbye and parted ways at the monorail station. We had a good time with him.

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And then we were off. :( I know 417 is usually the preferred way back to MCO, but I took I-4 to Bee Line since we had time to kill and I wanted to find a gas station that was cheap (last time we rented a car, I wound up in that area near MCO where it's like $5/gallon without prices on the signs - ridiculous). Apple's new Maps took us off Bee Line to OBT, where it claimed there was a Bank of America… but that wound up being an ATM INSIDE the Florida Mall. :rolleyes: So from there we took Sand Lake to a "real" BoA and I was able to get gas for something like $3.53 at 7-Eleven. Then we got back on the road to head over to the airport, and here is where the heavens opened up and the rain rain rain came down down down.

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Returning "the beast" was simple and we found ourselves in the airport with about two hours to spare. We grabbed a snack at Krispy Kreme and visited a bunch of stores. That's always fun to do before having to leave. I stopped for a shot with Goofy:

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Getting through security was relatively painless, and then we sat at the gate for a bit before having dinner at the nearby Burger King. Boarding time was soon after, and we were delighted to find the plane half empty. I was shocked to see that, especially for a nonstop flight to LAX! And because of this, we wound up having all three seats to ourselves. Woohoo! That made stretching out and getting up so much easier for the nearly five-hour journey home.

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Honestly, the flight flew right by. Usually these return flights just drag on for me. I played around on the iPad for a bit, watched Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (good stuff) and some Family Guy, and before I knew it we were getting ready to land in crappy ol' Southern California. :( Our great trip came to a close once the wheels were down at LAX around 8:45pm.

Aaaaaand that's it. I hope y'all enjoyed this report! I had a great time writing it. I didn't really want to finish it up because it felt like writing was keeping me "there" in some way, and of course I don't ever want to leave! But yeah, we had a great time, and all the BS that goes on around here about the parks being dirty, poor CMs, lack of maintenance, etc. was definitely not present in my view. If you go to enjoy yourself and have a great time doing some awesome things, you will. If you go looking for some trash on the ground, burned-out lightbulbs, chipped paint, and a CM that's having an off-day, you'll have a very crappy time and I feel sorry for ya. Sure, things have changed from the 90s - no doubt about it - but there's still no reason not to have an awesome time at the World. :cool:
 

NemoRocks78

Seized
Premium Member
Original Poster
Actually, the fun's not over just yet - Laura has said she's got some stuff of her own to add in. So be on the lookout for that soon! :cool:
 

Monty

Brilliant...and Canadian
Premium Member
In the Parks
No
We went to MouseGear after the ride to make some final purchases, and then I decided to stop by Pin Central to see if they happened to have any of the limited edition 30th pins left. Sure enough - they did! I bought one for me, one to send to Monty, and one for eBay that I turned around and sold for double the cost. :p
:cool:
 

Monty

Brilliant...and Canadian
Premium Member
In the Parks
No
It'll be on the way as soon as I get to the post office. :p I went last Monday, but forgot it was Columbus Day in the States, so… :confused:
It was Thanksgiving day here, so I would have been in the same boat! :p No worries... Waduioweu?
 

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