Saturday, April 25, 2015

Heading Home

April 18 – Heading Home

We had to be out of our rooms by 11 am. After dropping off our bags with Bell Services, we hung around the Classic Hall until it was time to catch the Magical Express to the airport.

It was a long flight and we left at 9 pm Florida time. And arrived 12:30 am our time. Suzanne and her husband got Robert home to his place and it was about 3 am. when they arrived home.

We got back to our place somewhere around 2 am. Phil got Jeff home, and Mom slept over.

At 10 am on the 19th, Cathy from Kitty City dropped the cats off. Jeff's two cats had managed to escape during the ride which added some excitement. When Phil and Jeff had them in our car they almost escaped yet again. Note: always make sure the zippers are very secure!

Day 14 - At WDW

April 17 EPCOT and Animal Kingdom

Suzanne made a quick run back to Animal Kingdom for more mugs. She did the Maharajah Jungle Trek again. This time she saw two beautiful peacocks. Then on to to Downtown for a last look. After a quick soup and sandwich from the Earl of Sandwich she returned to Pop Century.

Meanwhile, Jeff and Phil stayed in their room at the resort. Robert stayed at his timeshare.

Mom and I went on to EPCOT, where we had a really full day. We attempted to see (and take photos of all the topiary exhibits; the Purple Martin area; all the gardens; Butterflies on the Go,; Backyard Habitat; Pepper Fire Garden and Extraordinary Orchids. I'm sure I'm not listing everything we saw. It will take days to go through all the photos and videos of this area. We thoroughly enjoyed the Butterfly House and The Urban Farm display and restaurant.

Now it's time for Mexico for some food and a margaritas. Then the boat from Mexico to Germany and back again. It was lovely to see all the pavilions from the lake.

On to Morocco where we spent quite a bit of time enjoying the shops and the buildings.

Next is The American Adventure, in time for a performance by the Voices Liberty singers as well as the show: The American Adventure.

Reflections of China was as enjoyable as always. We got there a bit early so the hostess gave us a history lesson about the building. A quick lunch at the Lotus Blossom Cafe.

We had intended to see the show in France but it was getting late so we headed back to the resort.

On the ride home we got talking to a lady who just moved to the area. Her husband kept putting off coming to the Disney parks and resorts. So she ventured out on her own. A CM in the Downtown area told her to just leave her car in there. Then take the bus to Pop Century and on to EPCOT. She was heading back to Downtown via Pop Century. I suggested she take a few minutes to check out Pop Century since all she saw was the bus stops. She had asked me quite a few questions about the resort. So I offered to show her the main building and walk her over to the Art of Animation. That way she could tell her husband she checked out Downtown, EPCOT, and two resorts in one day. She took me up on it and we had a lovely time showing her the resorts.

The evening was spent sitting outside with Mom, Suzanne and and Phil. Along with another Mai Tia and possibly a Long Island. ....

Day 13 - At WDW

April 16 – Animal Kingdom

Robert decided to stay at his time share today and Phil is finding it too hot to go to the parks. So while he stays cool in the resort room, the rest of us head to Animal Kingdom.

We had a leisurely morning. We did not hurry. We took in the rest of the trails that we missed the first day. We saw the Discovery Island Trails along with the Maharajah Jungle Trek. The Maharajah Jungle Trek is absolutely beautiful. The beautiful birds, tigers and other animals among the ruins. 

Daisy Duck was there for another photo session.

We finally got to see winged encounters. What an impressive sight!

We had a nice lunch at Pizzafari again. At this point Suzanne went back to the resort to do her laundry. And she said it took a while.

Meanwhile Jeff, Mom and I took the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki's Planet Watch. We spent some time checking out the displays at Habitat Habit, Conversation Station and Affection Section. Next was another ride on the Kilimajaro Safari.

The ladies had a nice relaxing evening together with a new bartender mixing up the Mai Tais. Mom said they were more like the ones she enjoyed in Hawaii.

Day 12 - Universal

April 15 - Universal

Everyone finally got to Universal today. We looked around for a bit. Then it was time for Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. The first thing we see is the purple Knight Bus. Very cool with the conductor there to answer questions. Then we went into Diagon Alley. So like the movies. 

Jeff and Suzanne got new wands at Ollivanders. Jeff got Ron Weasley and Suzanne's new wand chose her. She loved every moment of it. Next was Gringotts Money Exchange. No one was brave enough to go on the Escape from Gringotts ride.After that it was time Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour for butter beer ice cream. It's rather sweet but I noticed none went to waste. Our timing was off so we didn't get to see any of the performances. 

We then boarded the Hogswarts Express at the Kings Cross Station. Each group has their own compartment. The windows are actually screens where the Dementors made themselves known but you never actually saw them. You hear Ron, Harry and Hermione. Hagrid makes an appearance.

In Hogsmead we ate at the Three Broomsticks where most of us had the shepherd's pie and salad. We had either pumpkin juice or butter beer. Then on to the Honeydukes for a chocolate frog or two.

We did get to see part of the Hogwart's Choir and then we moved on to the Castle. The shop was so dark we really couldn't see what there was to buy. A major disappointment since several of us had been quite looking forward to picking up some items.

We boarded the train back at the Hogsmeade Station. On the return train trip we saw the twins, Mad Eye Moody and the Centaurs. This really is a fun ride if you are a fan of the Harry Potter books and movies. Diagon Alley is as true to the books as the Hogsmeade is. The Gringotts bank was excellent and the dragon on top of the bank was really hot (breathing fire) and so cool.

Day 11 at WDW

April 14 – Hollywood Studios

We start our day with a ride on the Great Movie Ride. Then back to Animation Court Yard. Love this area! WE took in The Magic of Disney Animation as well as the Animation Gallery.

Finally a photo with Daisy! And autographs!

Unlike April 10th, it is much quieter in the park. One is not being assaulted with the “live radio show” that gets blared much too loudly. The park has had so many attractions closed that they are trying to get people excited to be there....but loud does not necessarily translate to “having a good time”

Then lunch there at Sci Fi Diner. Its set up like an old fashioned drive in and we sit in cars. It's a fun atmosphere, but a bit dark for reading the menus. And a bit expensive. But the food was good.

We then saw the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular again. It's rumored that this one will be closing so we're glad we get to see it again.

On the way out of the park we got to watch a performance by the Citizens of Hollywood – the Street Maintenance guys who really wanted ice cream.

Day 10 at WDW

April 13 – Magic Kingdom

After breakfast I headed out to visit my favourite dentist again. This time Mom and Phil came with me so they could check out the Barnes and Noble book store that is in the same parking lot. The appointment only took about a half hour and there was no cost (other than the cab fare). This time the dentist had some staff available to assist him.

Interesting side note: The driver that took us back to Pop Century had quite a few stories about customers with GPS on their phones. He could actually see the places they wanted to go to, but they would insist that he follow the directions on their phones. At times it would cost the customer over $20 more than it would have if they had just let him do what he is paid for. He'd even say “See the roof of that building to your left? That's the building you are wanting to go to.” The customers would insist that he make a right hand turn because that's what their GPS said to do. He said it gets really frustrating, but it's not worth arguing about it.

When we got back to Pop Century, we gathered Jeff and Suzanne to head for Magic Kingdom. Robert felt that Magic Kingdom isn't his thing so he stayed back at his time share to rest.

We finally rode the Walt Disney World Railroad. Then picked up some more Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards.

Next was Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, Mickey's PhilharMagic and finally It's a Small World (which Jeff gave a miss).

It was looking like there might be a bit of a storm coming so we headed back to Pop Century. Suzanne wanted to swim but they don't let you when there is a storm brewing.

We are surprised that there are still so many people in the parks. The crowd calendars all said it should be better with a lot less people after the Easter holidays. But it looks like no one wants to go home.

Day 9 at WDW

April 12 - EPCOT

What better way to start a day at EPCOT then yet another ride on Space Ship Earth.

We wanted to check out Ellen's Energy Adventure, but it wasn't open yet. So we checked out the Festival Centre pavilion (first time I've ever been in this building). Phil noticed that there was a lecture on bees in a few hours. After checking out the pavilion we headed back to Ellen's Energy Adventure which was now open. I don't know why people don't enjoy this ride. It's not a fast paced ride, but it is enjoyable.

Then we headed for Living with the Land boat ride. Then back to the Festival Centre pavilion so Phil could take in the lecture on bees.

Lunch was at the United Kingdom's Yorkshire Country Fish Shop for Mom, Phil and myself. Jeff didn't feel like having anything. Robert went off on his own at this point since he is allergic to fish and it was time for a rest.

Suzanne had gone on to have one of her favourite meals at chicken in China's Lotus Blossom Café. She then checked out the China, Japan and then Germany, France and United Kingdom pavilions. She skipped the shows at this time and headed back early for supper at Pop Century. Suzanne did pick up a new yellow t shirt from the Flower and Garden show. But she hesitated on picking up the umbrella that they had there. Which she is now regretting. Why do we always do that to ourselves?

The four of us walked around the World Showcase, but really didn't take in the pavilions, just a few of the shops. But we did take photos of some of the flower displays.

We all felt that it was so worth going to EPCOT at this time of year because the flowers were so beautiful and so many of them. And so much to learn if one really takes in the whole experience.

Back at the resort Mom and I split a Chinese dish. Guess I was thinking about Suzanne's orange chicken meal. Wouldn't you tooth broke again! At least I know what to do! I called the Medical Concierge again. They called back 20 minutes later with an 8L30 am appointment with the same dentist for the next morning.

Day 8 at WDW

April 11

After breakfast I asked at the resorts concierge desk about finding a dentist. They gave me a card with “The Medical Concierge” phone number. Back at the room I called our travel insurance company. Note: this was at 8 am. I was told that I could go to any dentist that I could get an appointment with. I did not have to use an “approved one” from any list.

I called “The Medical Concierge” number and told them about my broken tooth. They promised to call back within a half hour with an appointment for me. The call came back 20 minutes later. The appointment was in 45 minutes. I took off to the front entrance and had a CM call up a cab for me. I got to the dentist office on Sandlake Road before the dentist arrived. He soon showed up, fixed my tooth, waited with me for the cab to take me back. I arrived back at Pop Century at 11:40. Impressive! Not much vacation time wasted.

We spent the rest of the day hanging around Pop Century and Art of Animation.

Meanwhile Robert was resting at his time share.

Suzanne, not being one to miss out on her Disney experiences had what she called a quiet day. She picked up a t-shirt for her grand daughter, and had a long walk in Downtown Disney. Then enjoyed looking at all the sweet dressed up princesses coming out of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Back at Pop Century, she went for another walk to Art of Animation to pick up some wine, and looked for the turtles in the Hour Glass Lake. Unfortunately they were no where to be seen. Then she had a walk around Pop Century.

Day 7 at WDW

April 10 – Hollywood Studios

It's my birthday!!! We met up with Robert in the bag checked line. That worked out great. We had FF+ for the Voyage of the Little Mermaid was at 10:15. It seemed a lot shorter than it was in 2013. But that's probably my imagination.

After that we went to the Animation Courtyard area where we saw Mickie and Minnie. Suzanne, Jeff, Mom and I got their autographs. Mickey teased Suzanne by taking off with her Mickey Mouse pen.
We also took in The Animation Gallery and the Magic of Disney Animation.

After that we saw Muppet Vision 3D.

Lunch was at the 50's Prime Time Cafe. Our server wasn't quite as much fun as the one we had in 2012. But still very enjoyable. Chef Eugene was there! He came by the table to check on food allergies. As soon as I saw that he would be in charge of the meals I knew everyone would have a good experience. Suzanne claimed it was the best one so far. And that was even over the Be Our Guest Restaurant!

Next was Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – where Suzanne fell asleep. Another guest caught me taking a photo of her sleeping. When I noticed the lady watching me, I commended that “I'm such a good friend”. She got the giggles. We then went to Star Tours for our 1:30 to 2:30 FF+. Suzanne decided not to go on this ride. We were pleased that Robert was able to go on with no issues.

On to the Great Movie Ride. FF+ time for this was 3:35 pm to 4:35 pm. If it wasn't that standing in lineups is difficult for several of our party, I would give the FF+ a miss and go in the stand by line. It's a long walk, but the exhibits are great. I miss seeing them.

Walt Disney: One Man's Dream was our next stop. Never enough time to read everything and look at the displays. And the movie is a must.

Supper was at the Beach Resort. We were joined by a very persistent squirrel. 

Then it was time to board the boat at the Yacht Club for my Birthday Cruise that Jeff surprised us with. The boat was all decked out with balloons and banners. Captain Ron gave us a cruise around Crescent Lake so we could see all the resorts and their lights. Then on to the lake where Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is shown. What a wonderful view!

After that we headed to Pop Century and the ladies went for drinks at the pool bar. Back at the room I had a gluten free cupcake to end my birthday celebrations....and broke a tooth – back molar.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Day 6 at WDW

April 9 – Another Resort Day – Robert joined us for a bit and Suzanne did some exploring.

After breakfast Phil and I walked around the lake. Lots of squirrels, ducks and a few lizards.

Robert met up with us at Pop Century. Then we headed off to Downtown Disney for a while.

Suzanne meanwhile went off to Animal Kingdom Lodge. She found it nice but very loud with the drums. Apparently she got there when they have the kids walk around the restaurant with cast members banging on drums. Wish she would have made it out to the savanna where it is very quiet and surreal. Suzanne did find something special for her grandson there and then headed off to Downtown Disney to pick up something for her husband. Then she hit the Earl of Sandwich. This seems to be one of Suzanne's favourite places to eat on this trip.

We ate at the Earl of Sandwich. Robert picked up some gluten free baking for me. I was supposed to share with Mom, but I'm afraid she didn't get much more than a taste.

We checked out some of our old favourite shops as well as the new ones. I have to say that I like the older shops best. The new ones are going for the more “upscale” and we're the type of guest that buy the Goofy Hawaiian shirt, Minnie Mouse sunglasses and the like. Not the $125 backpacks. $60 cell phone cases....

Robert left after a bit of shopping and we headed off to Animal Kingdom Lodge. We saw a giraffe and some other birds and animals out on the savanna. Very peaceful, at least during the day. The faint aroma of a camp fire in the air. One of these days we'll get there when they have the camp fires and story telling. If we had our act together we could have gone on a resort/restaurant tour.

We then took the bus to Art of Animation and ate there. When I first toured this resort I couldn't quite figure out how their food court line ups worked. We got there during a quiet time and were able to give it a good look over. Turns out that it's really quite easy and lots of selection.

Mom, Suzanne and I went down for a swim during the evening. The water was so warm that I got chilly when I got out. No more cotton swim cover ups for me. I'm making on out of thick terry towels as soon as I get home!

Day 5 at WDW

April 8 – Resort Day – Robert at time share. Suzanne's version of a quiet day.

Mom and I did laundry early in the morning when it wasn't hot. The guys did it later. There are laundry facilities be each of the pools. Only two machines accepted change. The rest required use of a credit card.

After our laundry was done, Mom and I did a video walking from the Classic Hall to Suzanne's room, the view from her area, then up to our room. This way she can show her family how close she was to us and the important areas – shopping and food.

Mom and I then went Downtown and took the boat to Port Orleans French Quarter Resort. A lovely resort! We walked it just a bit, had a washroom break, took loads of photos then headed back to the boats. Next time we'll feel just that much more confident to branch out a bit more and explore the rest of the resort and maybe check out Port Orleans Riverside as well.

Meanwhile, Suzanne, who said she intended to have a quiet day, enjoyed a trip to Hollywood Studios where she picked up some new mugs. Not having to keep a constant eye on where all the others were Suzanne was able to just relax and take her time.. In the afternoon Suzanne went to Downtown Disney, where she took her time in the Disney's Days of Christmas store She picked up some new Christmas tree ornaments of Minnie.

The guys were almost finished their laundry by this time (they had a sleep). When they were done we picked up Suzanne and headed out to Magic Kingdom to take the boat to the Polynesian Resort.
We ate at Captain Cooks. I was listening to Mom instead of taking notice of what was going on around me and we ended up jumping the queue to get into Captain Cooks. I felt so bad when I realized what happened. I hate people who do that...and then I ended up being “one of those people”.

We then took the Monorail back to the Magic Kingdom, watched the fire works from a different angle then we watched the Electrical Water Pageant. Then back to Pop Century.

The guys went to their room, back to the air conditioning, while the ladies headed to the pool bar. A Mai Tia each for Mom and myself and Long Islands for Suzanne.  I do have a photo that could go in at this point....but it's too embarrassing!

Back in the room I checked my e-mails. Tina was now eating which made us feel better.