Trip Report They're coming over ... and we're not going to WDW??

Swissmiss

Premium Member
Original Poster
Your pictures in front of the castle are great!
With how crowded the parks were in general the week we were there, I was surprised at how good most of the pictures came out. I think it helped too that C and I were in a good mother/daughter teenager phase that week having fun together rather than squabbling, because we were goofing around alot.

And I have to admit - I always looked at the name tag of the CM before we got in line for pictures to make sure it wasn’t Callen 🤣
 
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Swissmiss

Premium Member
Original Poster
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Monday, 30 December - EPCOT

We had a pre-park opening breakfast at Garden Grill, so we woke up somewhat early ... well, early for C, the rest of us are usually early risers so it was more or less a "regular" time to get up. I tried the wifi, but it still was not working. We all got ready and walked over to the South Depot to catch a bus. There were fewer people this morning, and the CM working was more organized so there was no repeat of yesterday morning. In fact, Sunday morning was the only bad bus experience at POR - we usually ended up timing things just right and only ever waited a couple minutes at most AND always got a seat.

We arrived at EPCOT and saw the huge lines of people waiting to get in (after bag check). I seemed to remember that there was a place to "check in" for pre park opening reservations ... and I was also pretty sure that it was on the other side of the mass of people waiting around. Not wanting to have people grumbling and getting nasty that we were trying to cut the line, I decided to go up to a CM member and ask where we should go. She too must have thought it wasn't a good idea for us to cut through all the people on our own, so she told us to follow behind her. Without even looking at her name tag I could hear that she came from the same neck of the woods as where I was born, and sure enough, she was from a town or two over. Unfortunately I don't remember her name, but she was a star getting us through the throngs of people unscathed. We were quickly through the turnstiles into an empty - save walls - EPCOT.

There were some PhotoPass photographers so I approached one and looked at his nametag. Matthew was GREAT. We mentioned that we always have "the same" pictures - the four of us in a row and he said OK, let's do something different and he started snapping pictures as we were putting our stuff down and would add and subtract individuals into the picture.

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Fun photoshoot finished, we headed off to Garden Grill. Our number one reason for eating breakfast at Garden Grill was for the Candlelight Processional Package. We've been to WDW two other times in December and watched the Candlelight Processional both times and when we realized the Candlelight Processional ran through December 30, we knew it would be a must do for us. Our package was for the latest performance, which also meant the last performance of the year, and we were really looking forward to it.
 

Swissmiss

Premium Member
Original Poster
Ok before I get back into this, I have to share that I had to have a blood test this morning and the nurse said something like "I'm doing this so you won't bruise". Jiminy Crickets I'd like to know what my arm would look like if she hadn't done it, because I've got a HUGE bruise!

And now back to EPCOT:

We meandered over to the Land and Garden Grill. We checked in and a few minutes later we were called for our table. As we were sitting down, I made a comment to my sister that we needed to get a picture - she knew I meant of the hidden mickey on the table, but our waitress very kindly grabbed the camera to take a picture of the 4 of us.

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Soon our food arrived, as did Chip and Dale.


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When Chip arrived, he decided that C was lacking a play buddy and he immediately obliged :joyfull:

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By this time, C had found out that it was all you cared to eat here and that you could ask for more of ANYTHING. She had been picking out the strawberries from the fruit salad and dipping them in chocolate sauce and she wanted some more. This did not surprise her mamma, as I used to eat a half a pound of strawberries in one sitting when I was pregnant with her ... so my dutiful daughter gets ready to ask for more strawberries like should would ask for something at school:

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Pluto, not to be outdone by Dale's playfulness, gets into the act as well:

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The waitress came back with more strawberries for the table, and now all we were waiting for was the main mouse himself to stop by to see us.
 

Swissmiss

Premium Member
Original Poster
What happened next was absolutely priceless, and unfortunately the pictures do not do it justice. Mickey came up behind C and it scared the crap out of her. The little bowl of chocolate sauce went flying. A fork went flying and C is saying "Oh no! I almost killed Mickey!" Mickey absolutely lost it he was laughing so hard!

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You can see the people behind in the first picture looking surprised at all the ruckus. And then Pluto decided he needed to come back and see if he could scare C even more:

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And then he gave us both one more hug and was back on his way to his regular rotation:

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After this we quickly paid, as the park had only just opened (my sister's camera time is slightly off) and I had decided that I would do something I had never done before: I was going to ride Soarin! C was surprised, but game. She knows that I am really scared of heights.

Up next: how did I fare on Soarin?
 

Swissmiss

Premium Member
Original Poster
We exited the restaurant and sent my sister and BIL to ride Living with the Land, and C and I got in line for Soarin. If I recall correctly, it said 30 minutes but I don't think we waited that long. We passed the time talking with an extended family behind us; the grandparents have traveled extensively and we had fun talking about different placed in Europe that they had visited that I had as well. Soon we were listening to Patrick and I was beginning to think "what was I thinking???" But I still wanted to try it. Unfortunately we were on the far right, in the front row. For all of you who have only seen the Eiffel Tower from Soarin, I feel sorry for you, because it is an amazing sight to see and to see it so curved is just sad! So how did I do? I was actually ok. I had to close my eyes once, because I got a bit dizzy flying over whatever we were flying over, but other than that I was fine and I would ABSOLUTELY do it again. C, on the other hand, little miss not afraid of heights, did not like it ... at first. After a day's reflection she decided that she did like it and would do it again another time.

We returned by to EPCOT and were walking out to find K and S, who had messaged to say they were seated in Sunshine Seasons after riding Living with the Land. Just before we got to Sunshine Seasons a man who was a couple steps ahead of me almost took my hand as he turned and then said "wait, you are not my wife and you are not my children" :joyfull: Nope buddy. I know I just soared around the world but I think I would have remember if I had gotten married :hilarious:

We found my sister and her husband and I was surprised that they were making no motions to move, but it turns out that my sister was assuming C and I would go ride Living with the Land, so they were staying put. As we still had time before our first FP, that is exactly what we did. I have to admit, this was a ride that I "discovered" through TRs (and probably an @Tuvalu TR at that) and it really is a must-do for us. Since I knew we were eating at Garden Grill I hadn't tried to get a FP for us, but luckily the standby line was tolerable (and shorter than Soarin).

I have a hard time getting good pictures on the ride but here are a few:
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After Living with the Land, our FP for Nemo had opened up, so the four of us made our way over there. When we finished, it was absolutely packed in that area so we choose not to watch more aquatic life and headed towards Mouse Gear to eat of the time left before our Spaceship Earth FP. We also decided that as soon as we finished Spaceship Earth, we would head back to the resort to rest before going back to EPCOT later in the day for our last FP, dinner and the Candlelight Processional. I seem to recall we might have gotten separated going back to POR (or maybe C and I decided to wander through Fulton's?) because I know we didn't have lunch together and I don't recall seeing my sister and BIL when C and I grabbed some food to bring back to our room while we relaxed.

Up Next: back to EPCOT
 

Nunu

Premium Member
Glad you got to experience Soarin for the first time, I was very nervous with Splash Mountain too, but it felt great being able to conquer my fear of big drops. Now, about Tower of Terror, hmmm... nope!

Loved your experience at Garden Grill's Breakfast, C's smiles and laughter are priceless! :joyfull:

Oh! and looking at the picture where you're holding your cup of coffee, made me smile. ☕;)
 

Swissmiss

Premium Member
Original Poster
Glad you got to experience Soarin for the first time, I was very nervous with Splash Mountain too, but it felt great being able to conquer my fear of big drops. Now, about Tower of Terror, hmmm... nope!

Loved your experience at Garden Grill's Breakfast, C's smiles and laughter are priceless! :joyfull:

Oh! and looking at the picture where you're holding your cup of coffee, made me smile. ☕;)
Guess what ... I’ve got coffee now too 😉

About Soarin - after nearly 25 years I‘ve finally seen the Matterhorn 🤣. And I’m with you about Tower of Terror - it’s still a hard no for me. And I won’t do inversions on a rollercoaster either; RnR was a one and done for me at DLP about 10 years ago.

C has a great sense of humour and when she is happy it is quite infectious. Unfortunately as a 14 year old girl, there is also a certain amount of sullenness and angst. During the trip though, it was way more smiles 😀
 

lindawdw

Well-Known Member
Your breakfast at The Garden Grill looked like you had so much fun with the characters!!! Glad you got to finally ride Soarin although as you mentioned, it's sad that they didn't film with without the curves on either side of the seating. :( They did such a great job with decorating LWTL for the Christmas Holidays!!!
 

Swissmiss

Premium Member
Original Poster
Good morning @Nunu. Brought the coffee for you and @Back!Elbow!Shoulders!

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So when I left off we'd gone back to the room to relax a bit before our last FP+ and the Candlelight Processional. I can't remember if this was one of the days when our room was being cleaned when we came back; this happened once or twice during our midday breaks and was somewhat annoying. There were other days when we were in the room, and I just asked the Mousekeeper to take any dirty towels. She had left SOOOO many another day that there was no need for new ones; I think at one point we had maybe 8-9 towels because I would hang our towels up on hooks and then she would fill in to make sure there were 4 towels folded in the bathroom and would leave "extras" on the bathroom counter!

The first thing C does when she entered the room - as any teenager does - is check the WiFi which STILL is not working. I call again about it, and get transferred to IT. The IT CM tells me that they will look into and then proceeds - I kid you know - to start to tell me what to do to "get some compensation" from WDW for this problem! I thanked him but cut him off, telling him that working WiFi would be enough compensation.

After our rest, it was time to head back to EPCOT for our last FP+. The sun was going down when we arrived, so the lighting was very dusky. I got took this picture of C and with my sister and BIL as we headed into World Showcase:

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We continued walking along and we were setting up to take a selfie of the four of us (my camera has a great selfie function and take better pictures than my phone) and a very nice woman stops and asks if we'd like a "real" picture instead. Of course we said yes, please!

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After this we headed off to Norway for our last FP+ and took this little boat voyage:

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I wish I could share the unedited version of this picture, as I know that @amjt660 would have lots of fun with it. My sister looks scared out of her mind (she insists that she is "fine" with this ride) and because of her scared face, it looks like my BIL is praying (but in fact he is merely scratching his beard). As you can see, C loves this ride.

Oops - time to get ready for work ... the rest of EPCOT will have to wait :)
 
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Swissmiss

Premium Member
Original Poster
Since Frozen was our last FP+, I had looked as soon as we tapped in to see if there was anything else available that my crew would do (given that my sister is way less adventurous than me, and I'm not particularly adventurous...) I saw that Living with the Land was available, and we should just about have enough time to get to it after the last Candlelight Processional show.

Once we unfroze it was clear that food was going to be in order rather quickly, so we started walking further into World Showcase as we thought of options. I'm fairly easy - as long as it is not cooked fish, I'm good. C is a somewhat picky eater, but we can usually find something that she'll eat enough of that she isn't hangry. The other two ... a bit more complicated. I love my sister and her husband, but their palates are not as adventurous, or so they think. I was trying to push Tangierine Café in Morocco because at the very least I knew C would eat some falafel and/or hummus, but this was a big fat NOPE with the others. Again, I am sure they would both have really enjoyed it. We ended up going to Katsura Grill in the Japan pavilion. I can't remember what everyone ordered, but we were all fine with our meal.

For some reason, our (mine and C's) food was taking way longer than my sister and BIL's, so the three of them went to try and find us seating will I waited. As I was waiting, there was a woman (who spoke limited English) who was very surprised by her food. She has ordered something with rice and was expecting to see fried rice on her plate, not steamed. It was almost sad to overhear the exchange between the CM and her, as both women were clearly frustrated at not being able to communicate clearly to the other. The last thing I heard as I was walking away was something along the lines "but s/he wanted fried rice and won't like this". I had the impression it was about a child, so I hope that in the end the woman was able to find something her child would eat.

Our bellies satisfied, I think we still had about an hour to kill before the Candlelight Processional, and we could tell it wasn't really necessary to get in line yet, so we poked around the Japanese store. C suddenly had a craving for crepes, and did I think there would be any here like there is in DLP? Why yes, sweetie, I am sure in the France we can get some crepes. So she and I headed off to France will K and S found a place to sit in Japan. As we entered France, there was a small booth next to the lagoon where they were making crepes so we got in line. As we waited, C noticed the bottles of water "Look Mom! Evian!" Do you want a bottle of Evian with your crepe? "Yes - it'll taste like home". She isn't wrong; the water company often has a stand at events here (they will install a temporary drinking fountain so you can refill water bottles or get a cup of water). They will do blind taste tests to encourage people to drink more tap water than bottled water. There are usually 3 bottled waters and 1 tap. I can immediately identify 2 of the bottled waters. It takes me a few sips to determine the tap water over Evian, so yeah, it does taste like home ;).

Crepe and water in hand, we headed back to Japan. There was a PhotoPass photographer set up, so C and I jumped in line:

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Swissmiss

Premium Member
Original Poster
Shortly after our PhotoPass pictures we decided to get in line for the Candlelight Processional. C took a selfie of us while we waited:

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It's a good thing I am looking at these pictures today, because the last few days C has been a "typical" teen ... which means she is negative, whiny and not much fun to be around. But I know that such moods are temporary and she will soon be back to the teen that took this selfie with me ;)

While in line we spoke a bit to the older couple in front of us; she was in a wheelchair and her husband was pushing her. Boy was I glad when the woman pulled out a flashlight as the line started moving, as it had suddenly gotten very dark and I have bad night time vision. Surprisingly, as the two other times we had gone in the past it had been packed, there was plenty of room and we did not all have to squish together for everyone to get a seat nor did we need to squirm around to have a good view. All day long I had been discussing with C about hoping the monorail to MK when we finished at EPCOT, because it was open until 1 am (or at least had EMH until 1 am). But while we were sitting there waiting, she had a change of heart and said she'd rather go back to the resort. To be honest, I am not sure if I was disappointed or relieved! As usual, we really enjoyed the Candlelight Processional. Our narrator was Lisa Ling and her opening remarks showed how happy she was to be there. And having this be the very last one of 2019, I felt the orchestra and the singers gave it even more than their all (if that's possible!)

Once the show was over we quickly started making our way back to the Land for our fast pass. As we had a good 15 minutes, I wasn't too worried. Until I saw what seemed like people were leaving the Land yet no one was going TOWARDS the Land. So I looked at my watch again and it was something like 8:58. C and I took off at a very brisk walk and made it downstairs just as they were shutting up the line. We turned behind us, expecting to see K and S, but there was no one. The CM were great, they said not to worry, they would hold the last boat a bit. I know they walk so, but OMG I think it was nearly 5 minutes later - the CMs were clearly wanting to run the last boat and I was saying yes, let's forget about them and they finally appeared. So we all got to ride it at night.

We had all decided just to enjoy the ride and not take pictures. We couldn't have timed the ride more perfectly if we had tried, because as we came around to the area with the glass dome, the fireworks were going off overhead. But of course I hadn't thought that much about it other than that it was such a pretty sight to see. Until we walked out of the land and saw the sea of people leaving EPCOT. And would you believe that C and I had trouble keeping up with K and S in all of this?! I figured as long as I knew where my kid was, my sister and her husband's were adults and could make their way back to the resort safely. I kept telling C to stay towards the left, as eventually that was the direction we would need to go. For all the masses leaving at the same time, the bus line was relatively short, so I figured that K and S must have just made for a bus that already left. Imagine our surprise when they came walking up AFTER us. Turns out that my sister had the same idea as me - to stay to towards the left - but the reason she took off walking so fast was to keep up with her husband, who was kind of just following the crowd so they ended up going quite far over towards the right before they came back to where the buses leave. Luckily we didn't have to wait very long and we managed to get seats as well. I think that during the entire week, there was only 2 bus rides that I had to stand, and maybe one or two more rides when C gave up her seat to someone older or someone holding a child.

When we got back to the room, there was a message from the POR General Manager about the WiFi, leaving me a number of how to reach him if we were still experiencing problems. We were, and stupidly thinking I was just going to be able to leave a voicemail message, I called back. But of course this meant being placed on hold for the night manager to be found, having to explain the situation all over again, I think to once again be transferred to IT. When all I really wanted was to go to bed. Next time I will know not to call back at night.

The WiFi saga didn't end until Wednesday; I had reported it to the front desk the following day (New Year's Eve) and I think once again spoke to someone in IT who FINALLY admitted that the problem was larger than just mine and my sister's rooms, and that they were waiting on a piece of equipment to be installed to fix it. I told that CM that I appreciated their candor and wished I had been told that from the beginning, as I would have been much more patient about it all. I must say, however, that I was rather disappointed that I never received a follow up call from the General Manager; all the more so because when I received a survey about my stay, I was immediately "booted out" when I put that I lived outside the US, because I was "not the targeted population for the survey" or some other nonsense.

Up next: New Year's Eve
 

fractal

Premium Member
Once the ceremony ended we made our way out the park to catch a boat to Fort Wilderness and while we were waiting we were entertained by Donald and Daisy 🤣🤣

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We made it over to Fort Wilderness and sat waiting for my sister and BIL ... this would become a fairly consistent theme during our trip. They managed to make it just before the doors were opened for dinner :). We love Hoop-Dee-Doo and it is something we do every trip. C was only about six the first time we went, and at the time she wasn't all that comfortable with English, but it was in fact her that asked if we we could go back on our next trip, and now it has become a tradition. I did get a chuckle listening to one of the Christmas songs they sang which was probably from the 1950s ... which made reference to something that wouldn't have existed during the period that Hoop-Dee-Doo is supposed to be and thought "whoops - someone should have changed the lyrics a bit ;)

After having our fill of corny jokes, ribs, fried chicken and strawberry shortcake we made our way out because we still had one more activity on the docket for the night: an evening carriage ride through the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds.

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Unfortunately our pictures don't do justice to all the AMAZING decorations that people put up, but here are a couple to give you an idea:

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After our carriage ride we hopped an internal bus to the main parking lot, hopped the first bus that arrived (which was for Disney Springs) and ... in what we end up being a recurring theme (at least for C and me) we got off at Disney Springs just as a bus for POR was pulling up.

Back in our room, I realized that the WiFi still wasn't working, so I called about it and was transferred to IT. They told me it was probably a router issue, they would reboot it and I would shortly have a connection. By this point I was exhausted and C was already in bed, so I thanked them and rather than wait for the reboot, I decided to check my emails in the morning before we left for breakfast. Spoiler alert: the reboot did not work!

Up next: EPCOT ... where C thought she nearly killed Mickey! (rest assured, C can be a bit dramatic sometimes ;) )
Love Hoop-de-doo. Need to do that again next trip!
 

fractal

Premium Member
What happened next was absolutely priceless, and unfortunately the pictures do not do it justice. Mickey came up behind C and it scared the crap out of her. The little bowl of chocolate sauce went flying. A fork went flying and C is saying "Oh no! I almost killed Mickey!" Mickey absolutely lost it he was laughing so hard!

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You can see the people behind in the first picture looking surprised at all the ruckus. And then Pluto decided he needed to come back and see if he could scare C even more:

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And then he gave us both one more hug and was back on his way to his regular rotation:

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After this we quickly paid, as the park had only just opened (my sister's camera time is slightly off) and I had decided that I would do something I had never done before: I was going to ride Soarin! C was surprised, but game. She knows that I am really scared of heights.

Up next: how did I fare on Soarin?
Funny! and great memory!
 

lindawdw

Well-Known Member
Sounds like you had a very enjoyable evening at Epcot! I'm hoping to do the CP this year since it's been a while since we did it and it really puts you in the holiday spirit!
 

Swissmiss

Premium Member
Original Poster
Tuesday - 31 December 2019

When my sister and I spoke about this trip, we agreed that whatever happens, we would not step foot in a park on New Years Eve. So we made today about eating at resorts we wanted to visit.

First up was our breakfast with the mice and ducks at Topolino Terrace at the Riviera. In the planning stages, I had sent an email to my sister and said "how about having breakfast with the nice and ducks on New Year's Eve?" I was surprised by her "huh?" reaction, because to me it was obvious. I wrote back: Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy. Once she read that, was surprised as well that she hadn't clued in immediately as to what I meant.

We decided to take a Lyft over, as we really didn't want to deal with going to whatever park bus was leaving first and then getting a bus to the Riviera. We arrived shortly before our reservation time, and spent some time wandering through the store. My sister and I loved that the kiosk for browsing Disney art that you could order. From what I recall, it can be ordered framed or unframed. One of the CM told us there were a few of these kiosk in various locations around WDW. I found that a lot of the articles in the Riviera store look very similar to what is sold in DLP, which made sense to me. We also browsed a bit of the artwork on the walls of the Riviera as well. Neither my sister nor I took any pictures of the lobby or artwork :banghead:

We then headed up to check in for our breakfast at Topolino Terrace. We had a short wait, which was fine - the waiting area is fairly large with seating. We were seated and although not right next to the windows, still had a nice view of the skyliners. My BIL started to ask lots of questions about them, and I said I was going to ride one after breakfast. I suspect that he wanted to ride one too, but my sister is in the "no way" camp. C thought I was joking, because she knows I am afraid of heights...

The characters were FANTASTIC with babies - my sister had snapped a few pictures of this around us of the characters getting down to "baby level":

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Looking through our pictures, I noticed my sister got a bit "arty" with some of them, trying to catch candids of the charactersIMG_0318.JPG:

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Or of her family members:
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