Trip Report The Short but Sweet March 2015 Surprise Trip.. Mixing Business with Pleasure!

Go easy on me.. lol. I'm somewhat of a newbie to trip reports! This trip I was supposed to be travelling alone on business to Disney World with out the family. My wife and I decided to add a couple days to my trip and fly her and my son down as a surprise, so the trip ended up being 3/3 - 3/8.. They would come down a few days after I left. I stayed at the WDW Swan for the first time, and the only downfall was the lack of Magical Express.. Took the Mears shuttle and stopped at about 4 other hotels before ours.. Trip time just over an hour though so not terrible.



3/3 - Travel day.. Leaving Upstate NY for Orlando on a direct flight.. The picture below shows the snow squall that hit just as I was taking off! Perfect timing!! Ate dinner at the Big River Grille on the Boardwalk and tried some awesome microbrews! They had an IPA that was not listed on the menu, and that ended up being my favorite..

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3/4 - Meetings... But had an awesome evening outdoors on the Cabana deck at the Dolphin.. Fully catered event and they even hired some magicians to entertain as we all ate.



3/5 - I was in meetings all day, and had dinner at Shula's [insert mouth watering picture here]

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At 8:15pm our group of 200+ people (we were split up between 3 restraunts) were escorted (About 15 minute walk) into World Showcase and set-up in an area near Mexico for Illuminations complete with an open bar and a bunch of tables setup next to the railings. I was going to take some pictures but at this point my phone died. I remember this area as being a Fast Pass + spot on a previous trip (Nov2013).. It was crazy because we all had the same blue shirts on. Everyone kept asking who we were with.. lol. Think a few said blue man group.. After Illuminations we were escorted to Test Track for a private ride or 2.. At this point we were the only ones on the ride(About 9:30-10:00). Had an awesome couple hours at the park!


Also on 3/5, my wife went and picked up our son (8yo) after school and surprised him with a trip to Disney for the weekend! She sent me the video of her telling him they were going to the airport and it was priceless! So after I was done at Epcot they were waiting at the Hotel for me.




think I fixed video...



3/6 - After getting done with meetings at Noon, I met my wife and son at Epcot.. We had a FastPass for Soarin at 12:30 so we did that first. I have to admit that Soarin used to be one of my favorite rides, but now between all the film dust showing up on the screen and just the general low def appearance of the movie, I am definately part of the "Lets overhaul Soarin Now" camp.. When ever they do replace it, I am sure I will miss parts of it, but at this point enoughs enough, get on with it.. After Soarin we did Spaceship Earth, and then made a stop at Club Cool so my son could get me to try his favorite soda Beverly.. I had tried it before but for his sake(I knew where it was going) I decided to let him get his laughs. He laughed so hard he just about pee'd his pants. Those of you that have tried it before know what I am talking about, and those of you that haven't I highly recommend you try it! You will never taste anything like it again unless you go to Italy where I am told it is very popular. We then made our way over to Mission Space (green) and Test Track(GM employee so can still get paper fast pass with ID). It's at this point I realized that the crowds were really not that bad. It was going on 3:00pm and had gotten a lot done in a short time. Forgot to mention I stopped at the beer/turkey leg stand by Test Track and got my favorite beer in Epcot(up to this point) Racer 5 IPA. Highly recommend that all IPA beer snobs like myself should try this one! We then made our way to World Showcase.. First Kiosk we stopped at had the Ghost Pepper Tilapia.. It was very good!! It had just the right amount of seasoning on it. Don't be afraid to try it.. We then had one of those "Let's soak it all in" afternoons as we slowly made our way around World Showcase. As you can tell, it was a cool day. Temps were in the low to mid 60's with a breeze that made it feel cooler than that. Also notice the pullover I ended up buying.. Just to the right of Mickey(My left) is the Hat from the studios.. I tried arguing to get a discount because the hat is gone but was shut down(didn't argue very hard)..LOL

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While in Canada we watched the Martin Short circlevision show.. It was better than I had remembered!The Lumberjack show was just finishing up as we left.. Awww too bad... [insert sarcasm here]

Our next stop was for a tasting at "The Smokehouse".. I tried the Brisket along with the Catagory 3 IPA(Very close but I liked better then Racer 5). Edge probably goes to Racer 5 though only because it is always available.. We had arrived there just in time to see the Gin Blossoms perform. They put on a very good show! We then continued around world showcase ending up in Mexico to ride the 3 cabelleros, and then made our way to China for a good dinner.. It's not on the menu, but I highly recommend getting Genereal Tso Chicken along with the spicy spinach noodles. I know its expensive chinese food, but IMHO it's worth it.. Watched Illuminations and called it a night. They had Extra Magic Hours till 11:00, but we were all tired.. Made the 15 minute walk back to the Swan via the Boardwalk enjoying the relatively warm evening.. At this point the 3' plus of snow at home was a distant memory..

That's it for our first day in the World.. No park hopping. We left that for day 2, we ended up doing 3 parks in 1 day! Studios, Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom... I'll work on posting that next...
 
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LisaBelle

Well-Known Member
Great start to your report. I think it's great that your wife and son were able to join you. The surprise was great! Looking forward to more!
 

FlaggNL

Well-Known Member
Great start! Love the suprise, there is nothing better than suprising the family with a WDW trip :) Following along and waiting for more :)
 

Dubman

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
:) Thank you all!! I still get goosebumps when I watch the video.. He was so caught off guard! Memories like that are priceless.. Working on day 2.. We covered lots of ground! Podometers we were wearing were well over 20,000 steps that day!
 

Dubman

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
3/7 - We started the day out by taking the boat from the Swan to Hollywood Studios. It was very chilly and windy this morning. Temp was about 54 and the wind chill was listed as 48! But still 100 times better than being at home where it was 8 today. They had extra morning hours and we got there about 8:30.. First thing I noticed as we walked in was no more hat!! It's been a long time since we have seen this view of the Chinese Theater from Hollywood Blvd..


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We had a fast pass for ToT at 9:00am so we rode Rockin Rollercoaster first. For the first time in forever(wait, we didn't do that this trip), let me rephrase that, for the first time in a long time, I rode in the back. I had forgotten how good it can be back there! We then rode the Tower of Terror, and what else can you say about a ride this great? Excellent as always!We then headed to the Great Movie ride.. On the way there, my 6'5" coworker raised his hand up above the construction wall and got this shot of part of the area where the hat once stood. I was surprised to see he had gotten such a good shot on his 1 and only attempt! lol. Also surprised to see railings still intact.. I also posted this picture in the Hat thread..



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On the ride, the first 2 cars were empty except for a cast member riding in the first one. Don't know why this would happen? Maybe an issue with the western scene? Other than that not much has changed since the last time we rode it about 2 years ago. Definately needs some updating. And the spires need to return also..

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Our next fast pass was for Toy Story Midway Mania 10:00am.. Had a fun ride as always except for a minor 10 minute delay before we were able to exit the ride vehicle.. I had the top score in our group at 196,000(my highest ever) and my son had 150,000! The stand-by line was up to 90 minutes when we left the area at about 10:30am..


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Up next was Star Tours at 11:30am. We decided to have lunch first to beat the crowds, and decided on Pizza Planet. Somewhat of a mistake because the pizza was not really that good. We had eaten there years ago and we don't remember it being that bad. We should have gone to the Backstage Cafe instead. The Star Tours ride was as good as always! After that we started making our way to the exit. Next up was Animal Kingdom!



After waiting almost 30 minutes for a bus, it finally came. By 1:00pm we were in AK. Because we couldn't get another fast pass time until we entered the park, I went ahead to a fast pass + cast member to see what we could get. Safari was gone, so got one for Everest at 4:00pm. While waiting for that we did the Safari(45 minutes posted, actual about 15 minutes) Bugs life, and Dinosaur. The Safari was good. We normally do it first thing in the morning, so it was a little less active then we normally see it. When we entered the park my son got the explorers book and along our travels he was earning his stickers.. Got to see parts of the park we wouldn't normally have seen. Although not as interactive as the Pirates Adventure in Magic Kingdom, it was still fun searching out the areas and learning.


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Now it was time for dinner, and for the first time ever we tried the Tusker House. At 35.00 per adult it seemed expensive, but it was an all you can eat buffet so we decided to give it a go. It was not as good as we had anticipated. The pork and beef at the carving station were dry, and the rotisserie chicken was also. Some of the other stuff was decent, but in the end we agreed it was just ok and would not include it in our plans in the future. After dinner we headed to Magic Kingdom.. They had extra magic hours till 2:00am!


Again, we waited and waited for a bus to take us to MK.. In the time we waited we saw 3 buses come for Epcot. One bus even pulled into our spot and everyone applauded, only to have it pull away into the Epcot spot! Then people were really starting to get upset.. About 40 minutes in, a bus finally came!! The entire que was full and overflowing past the next bus stop. While the first bus was loading another bus showed up right behind us. We left AK gate at 6:00pm and didn't get to MK till 7:00pm. Just have to keep reminding yourself that you are in Disney and bus wait or not, we made the best of it and soaked it all in..

Nothing like walking up to the entrance to MK when it's dark.. The lights of Main Street Station are awesome! We got right in and made our way through the crowd and into adventureland to ride the Jungle Cruise. It was about a 30 minute wait.. We then rode Pirates and that was very refreshing! The mist effect was actually working, and the ride as a whole seemed much better then when we rode it in November 14. Only thing that was questionable was the mermaid effect because I remember being able to see them in the past. I could be wrong though. The front row of our boat was loaded with 4 full size adults, and the cast member warned us about getting wet.. He was spot on. I think that is the first time I have gotten that wet on the ride! lol Since we were already wet, my son dared us to go on Splash mountain. It was not the warmest evening by any means. I would say probably upper 50's at best, but we all met the challenge and rode it. Of course there was no wait, and of course we all got wet.. Again! Lots of fun though and I wouldn't have had it any other way. I bundled up before the big drop!

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Now the Electric Light parade was making its way through Frontierland. So we decided to take advantage of what appeared to be little or no wait and ride Thunder Mountain.. The posted 30 minutes was actually 0 minutes! No line whatsoever! Awesome! Since the parade was about to end they probably put the wait time there in anticipation of the crowds coming.. After that we started heading towards Haunted Mansion making our way through the crowd. The castle show was going on. We stopped for a few minutes and I snapped a picture at the exact same spot of my avatar picture except obviously this one was at night..


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The crowds at this point were larger then any in recent memory so we decided to leave before doing haunted mansion and finish the rest of what we wanted to do there tomorrow. They had some of the bridges closed so we pretty much went all the way back through adventure land to get out. We were by Crystal palace and found a good spot to watch Wishes.. Awesome show as always! But as it ended it was the mass exodus out of the park.. lol.. Got to our bus stop and low and behold, there was a bus waiting and we were on our way back to the Swan! We were in bed by 11:00pm(really midnight with time change) and I layed in bed reflecting on just how much we had managed to see that day and was out in about 5 minutes.. Overall an awesome day as always.. Got to see almost everything we had planned on and manged to fit in a few things we didn't think we would have time for..

3rd and final day coming soon. A day that featured an early morning at MK and tasting at Epcot around World Showcase.

I am also working on getting more pictures together and will add them as I organize.. Normally I carry our camera bag around and gets lots of pictures and videos.. This time it was cell phones and photopass..lol I'll look back through our November pictures and post some relevent ones..

Thanks again for following along! :)
 
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Dubman

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
3/8 - The final day.. :(
Got up early so we could get our luggage to the bell station to be held for the day. Our flight out wasn't until 9:00pm so we arranged for Town Car service for the trip to the airport at 6:30pm. Since MK opened at 8:00am to the general public, we tried getting going as quickly as we could. We walked out to the bus stop at about 8:30am and a bus was leaving for MK. This time we only waited 15 minutes for the next bus, so this got us to the main gate at 9:00am.. I was surprised to see that there wasn't much of a wait to get into the park which was a good sign for things to come. I checked wait time for Seven Dwarfs(all fast passes gone weeks before our trip) and it was listed at 75 minutes. Nothing else in the park was more than 10 minutes! So we decided to skip it(We had ridden it in November).. So we picked up where we left off the night before and headed to the Haunted Mansion.. No line! Took our time and played around with the interactive que items etc.. I had a fast pass but didn't use it.. Was able to switch it to the Speedway which my son wanted to do. Also did Winnie the Pooh ride for my wife.. lol Before we rode Winnie we had some time before our pass was good.. The wait time for Seven Dwarfs was 60 minutes, but the line(or what we could see of it) didn't look bad so we went for it.. After about 20 minutes we reached the barrel room(never saw before because used fast pass last time)


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Next thing you know we were being loaded onto the ride in just under 30 minutes! And we got to see all the interactive stuff on the regular que line.. So after that we rode Winnie the pooh, did the Speedway and by that time our fast pass for Space Mountain was good. Regular line was at 60 minutes, so good thing we had the FP.. Awesome ride! After Space Mountain we went to Cosmic Rays for lunch.. The best lunch of the trip! The toppings bar there is awesome..


Now it was time, about 12:30pm, to head out to Epcot to spend the afternoon strolling around World Showcase. Headed out of the park to the Express Monorail to the TTC.. Once there we hopped the Monorail to Epcot and whatever the Magic Kingdom lacked in crowds, we found them all at Epcot..


The last few times at Epcot we have wanted to show our son our picture on the monoliths, so we went into the camera store under Spaceship Earth and got the location. It didn’t take him long to find it!! Hopefully the monoliths will be next to go. Even though we have a picture there I would not be sad to see them go.

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My son wanted to do Sum of all Fears so we went and checked out the line. The que was full and overflowing into the walkway. We were told about a 60 minute wait so we skipped it. We then decided to go to Test Track, but it was down and nobody was working the GM desk to get a fast pass for later. Strike 2. So we decided to head over to World Showcase and do some tastings.. Before we headed there I grabbed a Racer 5 IPA for the trip.


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Disclaimer.. The above picture is from Nov 14..




We started at Mexico and shared the Taco and Quesadilla.. Both were very good! Next my wife and I got a Lime Patron Margarita to share. mmmmmmm. FYI, Always available and not part of the festival..


Next was China and we tried the 3 food items there.. Kung Pao chicken bun Beijing-style, candied strawberries, and the Vegetable spring roll. All 3 were good but the Candied Strawberries were absolutely incredible! You must try these! Trust me, this was not the Lime Patron talking.. haha. The "Short" in my title was because of our only 3 days in the parks, but the "Sweet" came from the candied strawberries! LOL

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Next up was the Smokehouse again.. Indulged in another Catagory 3 IPA (from day 1). FYI Only small size available at $3.75 just like at Food & Wine last year.. Also had the pulled pork and brisket.. Very Very good!


Did I mention that the forecast called for mostly cloudy skies and a high of 70, but it was actually mostly sunny and close to 80? Couldn't ask for a better last day, which was making it even harder to leave.. Here are some assorted pictures of the topiaries.. Notice my wifes shirt in the first picture.. This brings up a very good point.. She got that shirt in 2008 in Epcot at the UK pavillion. We also remember seeing a lot of different St. Patricks Day stuff back then. This year we did not see one item pertaining to St Patricks Day and its just over a week away.. Interesting.. She had numerous people commenting on it and asking her where she got it...

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When we continued on and got to France, my son wanted a caricature done. I took about 30 minutes to complete and came out well!


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The last Kiosk of the day was the Pineapple Promenade.. My wife and I shared a coconut rum dole whip and it hit the spot because at this point it felt like 90 out.. We finally realized that it was time to start thinking about what we wanted to do before we left. We voted and Test Track won.. Since it was down most of the day, the standby line was up to 120 minutes.. Thankfully we able to get a fast pass for it, but even so, that wait was about 20 minutes. We got our last ride in, and my son got the high score of the day!


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We then walked to the back exit to catch the boat one last time to the Swan hotel.. Sooo depressing.. We did our best to soak in every last minute though.



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As you can see, I wasn't expecting a lot of sun today and didn't have any suntan lotion on, my wife and son were a little smarter than me! And no, that is my wifes arm on my sons shoulder and her pandora bracelet.. lol
Double checked our flight status and it was on time.. Always in the back of your mind that you have a delayed or cancelled flight.. And what better way than to spend more time in the parks, but this was not to be.. We got back to the Hotel, retrieved our luggage and went out to the waiting Town Car to take us back to the airport. FYI, If you have 4 people it is cheaper to get the Town Car at 70.00 then it is for 4 people to take the shuttle.. You are also going directly to the airport. We left the hotel at 6:30 and were checking our luggage in at 7:00.. Could have spent extra time at Epcot but is always better to be safe than sorry..


That’s pretty much it.. Our flight home was a little turbulent and we got home by 11:30pm.. Our Short but Sweet trip was now over. Like I said before, I will try to add more pictures as I get them. Thank you for following along!!
 
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Dubman

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Before I forget, and believe me it is getting pretty far back in the memory banks, I have to say that I was really really disappointed with the Lumberjack show. While the addition of the log rolling made it marginally better, the MC seemed to be forcing the shows to tie with the next show always being the tie breaker. Witnessed this on day one at the end of the show and again on our last day. On our last day, the log rolling was the last challenge and the Blue team was up 15-0.. Of course the log rolling was worth 15 points and the only chance for the Red team to tie it up. (A LumberJill was competing in this challenge for the red team). It was best 2 out of 3.. Blue team won, then red team won.. Then Blue team won again, but wait.. For some unknown reason he got disqualified! So they went again.. Again the Blue team won! This time it was the fact that he didn't wait 5 seconds before starting? Now they went again and in this turn the Blue team member obviously fell on purpose! Red Team wins and forces a tie with the winner to be determined at next show!! :rolleyes:

In all fairness, they did generate a crowd and people seemed to be interested, but as I was walking away I overheard people saying "What's up with that?" and things to that effect. Even my son said it wasn't fair(we were on the Blue team side of the crowd). It's still somewhat early on so maybe it will improve, but to me it seemed it had a "fixed" outcome. Maybe I'm reading this all wrong, but I would be interested to get other peoples opinion on it.. Sorry, no pictures of this show.. Kind of wished I had taped it. Oh well, it would have been a waste of the memory card.. lol
 
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mrdrift

Well-Known Member
Great finish to the trip report. All of the pictures were a nice addition to the report. It's amazing that the posted wait time and the actual wait time never seem to match, bonus for your family not waiting as long as posted. Thanks for the tip on transportation to the airport, We can always use tips to save money on trips.
 

Dubman

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Great finish to the trip report. All of the pictures were a nice addition to the report. It's amazing that the posted wait time and the actual wait time never seem to match, bonus for your family not waiting as long as posted. Thanks for the tip on transportation to the airport, We can always use tips to save money on trips.

Thank you! Wait times are not always accurate we found out, and it worked to our advantage 90% of the time..


It was 20 pp for the shuttle, so getting the Town Car was a the way to go.. Both operated by Mears
 

mrdrift

Well-Known Member
Wow, those were some really cute videos from the photopass. I hope they are included in the Memory Maker since they can add so much to a vacation. Dis you ask for these or did they just give them to you when you went to the photopass website?
 

Dubman

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Wow, those were some really cute videos from the photopass. I hope they are included in the Memory Maker since they can add so much to a vacation. Dis you ask for these or did they just give them to you when you went to the photopass website?

Ask every Photopass Cast member if they have any magic shots they can do for you.. They will be included in your photo pass account when you log in to look at your pictures. So when we actually looked at all our pictures, we had no idea what the magic shots were going to be. You can only get the video magic shots as part of the memory maker package. On this most recent trip we did not have the package.. I am able to view the 7DMT video, but not download or buy it. Hope this makes sense...

On the ride videos you do not have to ask for anything special.. It automatically reads your magic band
 
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