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Trip Report New Years Wedding~Sister trip!

ELeigh

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#1
I hope everyone has had a Disney-filled summer! It has been a while since I have posted on here but we have been pretty busy.
My kids were lucky enough to visit 5 amusement parks in the past 2 months! (I guess we could accomplish that in a few days in Orlando)
Here's what we have been up to:
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Thomasland in Massachusetts
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Sesame Place in Pennsylvania
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Santa's Village in New Hampshire
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Storyland in New Hampshire
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Wonderland at the Jersey Shore
Between all of this we have been on countless trips to the beach, pool, splash park and at least 4 children's museums. Safe to say it's been a bit crazy for us.
Now that the kids are going back to school (and I am back at work :/), I am finally getting some time to plan my next Disney adventure. I will include the details so far in my next post and I look forward to everyone's input as I plan!
 

ELeigh

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#2
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We are parked in front of our AC today with high heat and humidity here in the northeast so I figured I would do some trip planning!

Last winter one of my college friends got engaged to her longtime boyfriend and a few months later she asked if I would be able to attend her New Years 2019 wedding at WDW (more excuses to do Disney? Yes please!).

During my trip this May I purchased an annual pass in anticipation of the return trip and at the 180 day window before New Years I made some quick ADRs not knowing what the travel dates would be or even who I would be traveling with. I later looked quickly at flights and made a hotel reservation for All Star Sports which was the only room I could find for our dates under 400/night :/. I also tentatively asked my sister to be my date for the wedding as DH has limited days off work and I have my eye on a family wdw trip in the spring. This will be an adults only trip-My first one since becoming a Disney fanatic :).

I haven't thought too much about the trip over the summer but this week I received the formal invitation and info for accommodations at shades of green (the wedding will be held here). I confirmed dates with my sister before booking flights and securing shades of green reservations yesterday. We will be staying Dec 31 and Jan 1 and then staying at an airport hotel for Jan 2 for an early flight on the 3. Now I can finally go into full planning mode, with the crazy time of year that we're going and several wedding events it will be a perfect time to check out the lower key side of Disney. If anyone has must do suggestions for an adults only trip itinerary please share! I have so many different ideas so I need to start thinking about what the best experiences will be (and start putting things on the list for the tentative may trip as well ;) )
 

ELeigh

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#3
With flights and hotel booked I am ready to tackle actually planning this trip! Here is what I have so far:

Day 1: December 31
Fly out of New England at 6:45am
Arrive in Orlando at 9:45am
*I need to arrange transport as DME doesn't service SOG-I am thinking of just packing super light so we can avoid having to drop anything off.

Free time: Arrival-2:30: I know the parks will be unbelievably crowded and in winter there is always a chance of a flight delay, so I will make some tentative FP if there is anything at MK that interests me and play it by ear. If the park doesn't pan out my back up plan will be a monorail crawl-I would love to see WL for the first time and spend some time at the poly.

Check in to SOG at 3:00

After this we will get ready and going out with the wedding group. I believe the plan is to attend the NYE festivities at Epcot but I will have to update as I know more.

Day 2: Jan 1 (Wedding Day)
If we make it to midnight on NYE, we're going to need some sleep in time this day if we plan on making it through the wedding festivities.

Brunch at Homecomin'-11:15/DS bar crawl: I am hoping to hit a few more spots in DS for alcohol and snacks. On my potential list: Jock Lindsey's, Frontera (Love their margaritas), and D Luxe burger (Spiked milkshakes <3).

Get ready for wedding-We will need to head back to SOG at 2:30/3:00 depending on how much getting ready we need to do. The wedding will be at 4:00 at SOG and I anticipate the festivities taking up the rest of this day.

Day 3: Jan 2

Rope drop at AK-9:00am-Really hoping we can get FOP fast passes for any time at all on this day but if not we will be heading there as soon as the park opens. I plan on spending this entire day in the AK and AKL. We usually do AK as a 1/2 day park with the kids but I always feel like it's not enough. I also think I will like AK better without the heat.

Sanaa-1:15-I have been wanting to try Sanaa but never made it last trip, I am really looking forward to this one.

After lunch-back to AK until we drop. Grab a ride to our airport hotel for early morning flight out.
 

ELeigh

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#4
Planning this mini trip made me start thinking about our next trip with the kids, I hadn't settled on dates but just realized there is only one time frame that will work so..... IMG_1390.JPG
I will have ADRs to make for Spring before I go for the New Years trip but I will try to wait until after the trip for the rest of my planning!
 

ELeigh

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#5
So plans have been shaken up a bit (I think all for the best) and there are a few more things subject to change but just a little over a month out here is where we stand:
Dec 31-Early morning flight and arrival at MCO scheduled for 9:45. I am still reasearching the best modes of transportation but planning to head straight to DS. This will mean bringing our luggage and packing very light but it's a short trip I think we can manage. We have an ADR for Homecomin' at 12:15, depending on our arrival time we will try to do a little bar crawl before and/or after lunch and then head to Shades of Green for checkin at 3:00. The evening festivities for NYE are still in the works with the wedding party but I think they are firmly decided on no parks (I am glad after researching NYE crowd levels). This will be a lower key get together and I am not planning on staying out until midnight.
Jan 1-We are planning on starting off the New Year with a trip to Epcot. I made some fastpasses but I have no idea what to expect crowd-wise.
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The plan is to go in early and knock out some attractions then eat lunch around the WS before heading back to get ready for the wedding.
Jan 2-We will check out of SOG to rope drop AK. We have some fast passes
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I am planning on investing in a locker since we will have all of our luggage with us again (hopefully we can get it down to a large backpack each). We will check out Animal Kindgdom Lodge and I can check Sanaa off my bucket list. I'm not 100% sure I will enjoy this but I want to try it. Fall back plan is BBQ pulled pork fries from flametree when we return to the park. There is one more thing I will need to check off my list
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I can't wait to experience this ride, I didn't brave the 2 hour line in May but hopefully this FP will save me some wait time. After we ride we will probably hang around until we grab some QS dinner before catching a ride to our airport hotel.
 

ELeigh

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#6
One week from now we will be on the plane to MCO ✈️!
I put together a picture list of food (and a few drinks) that I want to try and sent it to my sister, her boyfriend wanted her to let me know "There are only 3 meals in a day" since there was so much on the list. I don't think that rule applies in WDW ;).
So here is my to do list:
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My sister has accepted the challenge and we have ADRs in place to help us. I have had some recent health issues that are going to require a change in diet (who knew cookies and cupcakes for breakfast and Burger King for lunch would catch up to me), so this will be a goodbye to salt and sugar for a while.
I am looking forward to the trip but nervous about the crowd levels, hopefully my time spent planning will lead to an enjoyable trip.
 

ELeigh

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#7
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Since this PTR has been fairly light I am going to switch it over to a TR now that we are checked in for our early morning flight tomorrow and my bags are packed :). I won’t have time for a live TR but I will try to check in with some pictures here and there :)
 

ELeigh

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#12
DECEMBER 31 3:00am Travel Day
H myself, and O and Z (DD and DS) spent the night at my parents house. My mom had offered to keep the kids overnight so they would be less bummed about not coming to Disney with us. Z was fine with not going but made us promise to ride the "Donald Duck Boat Ride" and send videos. O asked us to ride the little mermaid ride, however H did not have plans to visit MK and told her that Ariel was off visiting her friends under the sea for New Years and the ride would be closed. When it was time for the kids to go to bed, my mom offered to keep them with her to make everyone's morning run smoothly. I said goodnight and goodbye and they were much too excited about their sleepover to be disappointed about Disney.
This left me free to sleep at 8pm with my old bedroom all to myself. I watched criminal minds on Netflix until I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. My alarm was set for 4:15 but I woke up coughing uncontrollably around midnight. I moved to the living room where H was sleeping to see if the recliner would help the situation and I slept on and off until I ended up awake for the day at 3:00am. H had been watching The Office on Netflix so I watched that until I was ready to get up for the day.
I quickly got ready and we were out the door around 4:30
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It was a chilly 29 degrees when we left the house.
After dropping off my car at a relatives house, we made good time to the airport. We arrived expecting to get through security with plenty of time to spare however we u were met with the longest security line I have ever seen at our airport.
The line moved at a moderate pace and we were able to make it to our gate with a few minutes to spare. H grabbed a coffe for herself and a green tea for me-I wanted to kick the sore throat from coughing all night.
We waited for boarding however it was delayed a bit due to the crew being down a flight attendant. This seems to be a recurring problem with southwest. Once we finally boarded the plane (only 15 minutes late), I tuned in to the shows I downloaded from Netflix and watched exactly 4 episodes of criminal minds before we arrived. I also grabbed some coffee when the flight attendants made their rounds.
We landed just shy of 10am and summoned an Uber before finding the fonorail.
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The green tea and Florida sunshine must have done the trick as I was feeling much better and super excited about our upcoming ADRs (Yes plural) at Disney Springs.
 

ELeigh

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#13
DECEMBER 31 10:00am Disney Springs Lunch 1 of 2
While we were walking through MCO, H informed me that our projected time to Disney Springs would be shortly before 11am. In the week leading up to the trip I had made an additional ADR in the case that we somehow missed our earlier one due to a delayed flight or horrific traffic. So at this time our plans looked like this:
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We would be arriving over an hour ahead of our Homecomin ADR and we were both hungry, so I suggested to H that we try to move up the Frontera ADR and grab some Margaritas and appetizers. I was able to make the change to 11am and we quickly caught our Uber.
Our driver was able to get us to the springs a few minutes ahead of the projected arrival and the fare from the airport was around 30$ (I don't have the exact number because H took care of the Uber).
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We ended up on our first rope drop of the trip, 6 minutes before opening. The staff were finishing up their staff meal as the manager opened the doors and welcomed us inside. The hostess arrived at her station shortly after and asked if we wanted to sit outside or inside. We decided on outside as we had just left the below freezkng weather back home and found out that the hostess actually grew up in the town where I teach (small world).
Outside was the perfect choice. I had dined at Frontera on two previous trips and H once before, but both times were indoors. We ordered our Margaritas and some water to try and hydrate after the flight.
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H ordered the "Mango Fire: Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, mango purée, chamoy (salty, sweet, sour and spicy pulp" (she had loved the non-mango version "Playing with Fire" on our last visit). I ordered the "Watermelon Pink Flamingo-Volcan blanco tequila, fresh watermelon and lime juice, orange liqueur, Tajín chile powder rim". Both were amazing, we quickly reaffirmed that Frontera serves the best Margaritas we have ever had.
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Our waitress soon brought out our food order, we had agreed that we would go fairly light as we needed to save some room for our second lunch. I was thinking guacamole but the "Toto Elotes" caught our eye when scanning the menu. I declared that I would be taking all opportunities for cheese covered deliciousness on this trip and we went for it. We also ordered a side of their cheese covered plantains, checking one item off my must eat list.
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As we soaked up the sun I reflected that we were sitting directly across from where we started our May trip at D-Luxe burger at about the same time of day. I had been worried about how quickly the NYE crowds would pack in to Disney Springs however at this point we had the outdoor section to ourselves and the clear blue water made it feel as though we were on a Caribbean island rather than in the middle of one of the most crowded places in the world on one of the most crowded days.
 

ELeigh

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#14
DECEMBER 31 11:45am: Disney Springs Lunch 2 of 2
We finished up by settling our bill at Frontera (made a litter lighter by my pass holder discount) and decided to get some shopping in before our next lunch. We had only one drink each but I was starting to feel the effects and I thought walking off some calories couldn't hurt.
Somehow I couldn't find any of my Magicbands before the trip and H had also lost hers, so we decided to pick some up before our first park day. We tried World of Disney but they do not carry them, a CM let us know that our best bets were Distech in the coop building or the pin traders store near the carousel. We tried the coop first but they only had magicbands to be personalized on display and the CM there was pretty busy with other guests.
We tried the pin store and came upon a wall of magicbands. I *almost* bought a grey band to match my silver manicure but I decided black was much cooler. H decided on millennial pink.
Next we stopped into the Lego store, Z had asked me to bring home a "Disney Lego minifigure blind bag". This has quite a memory because I had bought some ahead of our Disneyland trip over a year ago to give them as little bribes for the plane ride and we haven't gotten any since. I checked to see if they carried them at the Lego store but unfortunately they did not. I decided to wait until Epcot to find something else to take home for him.
We still had time to spare so we popped into Amorettes Patisserie to check it out. I was contemplating ordering some champagne but decided against it and we headed out towards our ADR.
As we circled back towards Homecomin', we realized how the sun was already getting to us. I realized that we had neglected to pack sunscreen in our attempts to avoid checking a bag but I honestly didn't believe it was going to be so hot. When we checked in at the restaurant we opted for an indoor seat to avoid further damage.
As soon as I gave the hostess my phone number for a text alert, it went off and we were directed inside. We finally found a crowd as it was quite busy, however it wasn't too loud considering the number of guests and our service never suffered due to the busy lunch rush.
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The first item of business was to select drinks. Oddly enough once we looked down at the drink menu H said that she was between the Sweet Tea Shine and "Honey Lavender:Fresh strawberries and raspberries muddled with rosemary lavender vodka, lemon juice, honey syrup, and garnished with rosemary and a lemon twist" exactly the two drinks I had been looking at. We ordered both (and more water) and shared. Our waiter was friendly and the turn around was quick.
Both drinks were really good and reasonably priced for the quality. The tea was sweet and had a strong lemon flavor, and the Lavender was herbal and fragrant. I preferred the Tea but I recall H preferring the Lavender. The Lavender tasted stronger but we suspected that the Tea was hiding its power under the sweetness. We set to task deciding what food to order.
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In planning this trip, I planned most of what we would eat ahead of time. I knew we would be ordering the "Thigh High Chicken and Biscuits" and one side. I have read other reviews about the Mac and cheese being dry but I decided to give it a chance. As we waited for our food, the manager came around and we had a great conversation about his cat and he showed us pictures. This added to the very homey vibe.
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When our food arrived the chicken and biscuits lived up to all expectations. The biscuits were flakey but not too dry, and the chicken was the perfect degree of crunchy. H didn't even notice until I told her that it was dark meat (where the Thigh portion of the name comes from). We dug into the mac and cheese and found it to be perfectly done. H compared it to our grandmothers mac and cheese which is pretty high praise. We quickly polished everything off and settled our bill once again.

Up until this point we had made excellent time. We walked out of Homecomin' with over an hour to kill before we would need to try and catch a bus to the Poly and I had a long list of food and drinks I wanted to try in Disney Springs...
 

ELeigh

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#15
Unfortunately at this point my wallet and my stomach protested any further food. I think I could have made an exception for the strawberry bubble waffle from Aristocrepes but sadly they were not yet open. Their normal weekday hours appear to start at 4pm this time of year but I thought there was a chance they would be open earlier for NYE crowds.
By this point we were too full to eat or drink anymore and too tired to carry our bags much further. I suggested we make one more stop before heading out.
We got a little lost in the process and I got my first look at the Edison, but we finally made it to the Christmas Tree Trail. I figured the kids would like to see some pictures of the trees so we tried to find some of their favorites.
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Belle for O
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Little Mermaid for both kids and H
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Snow White for me (Hello random kiddos)
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Alice In wonderland-our weekly movie night choice 9 times out of 10
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"Star Horse/Dark Vader" as the kids called it for DH R
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Robin Hood another favorite of Z
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Muppets for my muppet baby loving crew
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Close up of Z's favorite character
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Finally toy story, for Z who had to have a "Mr Potato Head and Zerg" themed birthday
Bonus was catching this area empty as we walked out:
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ELeigh

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#16
Dec 31 1:30pm-Shades of Green Check in
Although we were still and hour and a half shy of Shades of Green check in, we decided it was time to head that way due to sheer exhaustion.
We found an empty Poly bus stop which of course meant a bus had just left and we were in for a long wait. During the wait a Great Dane in a “Service Dog” vest was paraded into line behind us. This made me uneasy as my son was attacked by a Great Dane a few months ago (I know they are normally gentle but I am still terrified of them). I just tried to look the other way, however when the queue began filling up a CM came over to direct the traffic and the Great Done growled and began barking. The owners made excuses saying the dog had never been in a crowded place before and was confused. True service dogs, in my understanding, are trained to handle these situations and the fact that they thought it was a good idea to bring this animal who clearly couldn’t handle crowds onto a packed enclosed space was mind boggling to me.
Luckily when our bus arrived I had the first choice in seats and went all the way to the back. It ended up being a fairly full bus and I didn’t see or hear the dog after sitting down.
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We arrived at the Polynesian and began looking at the map on MDE to figure out how exactly to get to SOG.

We weren’t quite sure we were headed the right way, but this was a reassuring sight.
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A bad blurry drive by of some holiday decor.

When we reached the lobby H offered to sit with our bags and I gladly unloaded. I got in line to check in at ten of three. The check in process was a bit long and seemed to take at least ten minutes per family. I was second in line and luckily my check in went much quicker. I helped H gather our belongings and we made it to our room by 3:15.

I meant to take room pictures however H was in her bed in a matter of seconds with her laptop catching up on some work and I had plans to change and head out for a bit.
 
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ELeigh

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#17
Dec 31 4:00pm-Magic Kingdom (on New Years Eve?!)
Backing up to a couple of weeks prior to the trip, I was out to dinner with my friend L who would also be attending the wedding. I asked her if she had any plans to visit the parks and she said that she really wanted to but wasn’t sure yet. The obsessive Disney planner in me couldn’t handle that and after dinner I spent the better part of an hour trying to help her plan a park day. The only problem was that she wanted a full park day and would only be in Orlando for two full days: NYE and the day of the wedding. She decided that despite the crowds NYE was her best bet and she really wanted to go to Magic Kingdom. I told her she was crazy and I would never do it but that she could probably get some fast passes if she got tickets sooner rather than later. I opened MDE and made some fast passes for myself on that day to show her.
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So once I showered and changed, and more importantly set up my new Magicband, I headed out to do something I never thought I would.
The walk back to the Poly was much more pleasant sans baggage and in a fresh change of clothes. Even though it was in the low 80s, I covered up to avoid sunburn and I was still comfortable. I got turned around a couple of times looking for the monorail and ended up going in the side entrance to Trader Sams and to say it was packed would be an understatement.
I worried about the crowds on the monorail but I was pleasantly surprised to make my way through security in a breeze and quickly find a seat on the monorail that pulled up shortly afterwards. This was my first solo monorail trip but I found some lovely people to talk to-Disney people are my kind of people.
At this time MK was closed to one day ticket holders but the lines were still building.
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I got to use the pass holder entrance which I don’t normally do :).
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Hello super crowded Main Street
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I had been texting with my friend L throughout the day and learned that she had not taken my advice about the fast passes :(. She was with another friend, A, and they had been on a handful of rides since arriving and had rope dropped cosmic rays. They had been contemplating the 2 hour wait for BTMRR when I arrived but decided A needed a change of clothes after Splash Mountain and wanted to look for something to buy for her to change into. We met by the Walt and Mickey statue and I suggested heading into Tomorrowland and trying the people-mover before checking out some shops. I am sad to report that the line for the people-mover was over 30 minutes :(. I figured maybe a 15 minute wait but I guess that’s what happens when the park is at full capacity. We skipped the ride and headed to some shops. After a few failed attempts we found what they were looking for in Sir Mickeys. I offered to use my AP discount and we purchased a pair of Pajama pants to replace some uncomfortable wet jean shorts.
At this point A needed a bathroom to change in, I walked with them to the nearest bathroom and the line was probably as long as the one for the people mover. I had plans with H and needed to head out of the park soon and didn’t want to spend my last 30 minutes in line for the bathroom, so I told them I would meet them later back at the hotel.
I contemplated grabbing an ice cream at Storybook treats but decided I was not willing to wait in a 30 minute line for ice cream when there was perfectly good dole whip at the Poly.
I checked my fast passes and I was in my window for Pirates. I decided to squeeze my way through the crowds over to Adventureland. Around the tiki room crowds became crippling. Everyone seemed to be trying to move but no one was going anywhere. I was beginning to feel claustrophobic when I found a clear path out of the chaos.
I used my FP without issue. My last time riding pirates in WDW was back in 2015 and the pirates look like they have had some fresh paint since then. I tried to take everything in and enjoy my one ride for the day.
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I look unimpressed but really I was just focusing on the details :) The first Captain Jack Sparrow is so lifelike I did a double take.
I headed back out to the Poly and took this on the way out around 5:45.
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ELeigh

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#18
December 31 5:45 Polynesian
The monorail pulled into the poly just as H texted me saying she had arrived. We had a few goals to accomplish this visit, but the first one looked a little like this
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The Tambu bar area was full but we were able to find a seat near the window. H ordered the drink above (I am not sure now what it was) and I ordered the Tropical Mccaw (which somehow missed being in the picture). I considered the items on the food menu but we had our heart set on something else. After settling our drink bill we made our way down to Captain Cookes.
H had seen people eating the pulled pork and pineapple "nachos" on our last trip and we were both excited to try them for ourselves. We were still not very hungry after our Disney Springs food adventures so we decided on one order to split. I considered a cupcake from the bakery case to go with it, these were really cute
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Alas they were all chocolate and I am not a fan of chocolate cake :/. We were about five minutes out from the start of the 6:30pm NYE fireworks "Fantasy in the Sky" and H headed out to the "grass" to grab us a spot.
Meanwhile I secured something to complete our meal. Pineapple Lanai was a bit busy but I was able to make it back to H before the fireworks began with a spiked dole whip. After realizing I paid 7 dollars for a shot of rum, I think I would bring my own next time.
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We enjoyed the fireworks as we shared our small feast. The nachos were an amazing pile of cheesy, crunchy, meat and fruity goodness that I never knew I needed. I would have liked more chips for the amount of toppings and if (hopefully soon) I ever get them again I would order an additional side of chips to help soak up the goodness.
There was quite a crowd gathered at the Poly for the fireworks, it looked like about the level of people I had seen in the garden viewing area inside MK. I would gladly take that over the sea of people who I saw packing in near the castle prior to heading out.
I wish we had the music playing because it was just ok from where we sat. During a lull most of the crowd walked away. Soon after fireworks filled the sky for the finale. As the crowds were moving out I asked H if she wanted to take a look in the gift shop as I needed to find something to serve as a wedding card. I snapped this picture of the tree as I finished up my dole whip.
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With that we ended our Disney portion of NYE. Back at SOG I contemplated just going to sleep however it was only 8pm and I knew I would be up at 3am again if I didn't push through. The wedding party was gathering at the SOG pool bar so I decided to join for one drink. H stayed behind at the room.
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I wrapped up the night with my friend L chit chatting in her room. She showed me the pictures she and A had taken of the projections and fireworks and they were stunning. We ordered room service quesadillas that ended up being very heavy and greasy but I somehow ate almost all of mine. I stumbled back to my room with sore feet after that and was in bed with heavy eyes right around 11pm.
My first day had been a busy one, three hours of airplane travel, two hours of Disney Springs, three foods checked off my list (and one missed), a little Magic Kingdom and a lot of Polynesian.
 

NessNewt

Active Member
#19
After realizing I paid 7 dollars for a shot of rum, I think I would bring my own next time.
We made the same mistake with the pineapple Lanai's Dole whip and rum. BUT! There are better options. A Spikey pineapple from Trader Sam's (we've gotten them from the terrace) or a FROSTY pineapple from the poly pool bar. These are both Dole whip and rum but blended together into a liquid form so it's a drink. (Different names because different types of rum). They are both delicious.

Edited to add this picture of a frosty pineapple:

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ELeigh

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#20
We made the same mistake with the pineapple Lanai's Dole whip and rum. BUT! There are better options. A Spikey pineapple from Trader Sam's (we've gotten them from the terrace) or a FROSTY pineapple from the poly pool bar. These are both Dole whip and rum but blended together into a liquid form so it's a drink. (Different names because different types of rum). They are both delicious.

Edited to add this picture of a frosty pineapple:

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Looks delicious! Putting this on my list for next time :)
 
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