Disney with Friends, Pop
April 2 to April 8, 2014
This trip was initiated by our friend Bill. He wanted to get back but in nicer weather (ie. Not Summer.) Our mutual friends were invited along with their son. It will be there first vacation EVER! As much as my wife and I know about WDW, it will still be a learning experience for us, and we are really looking forward to it.
We know Frank and Dana as volunteers from Hudson River Audubon's huge butterfly garden that is maintained by the chapter at a county park, so we are all looking forward to the Flower and Garden show.
Planning: After hearing all about our trips, Frank and Dana thought that Disney would be a great place for their first vacation. We agreed. We needed to avoid long lines and heavy crowds. To avoid crowded busses we will drive to the parks, thus we needed two rental cars.
Based on crowd predictions for the spring, there will be a slight dip in crowds between spring break season and Easter during the first week in April. To avoid crowds and lines as much as can be at the airports, we are flying out and returning midweek. It is also Dana's and Frank Jr's first time flying.
Frankie Jr may have trouble in long crowded queues, so we will use both Fastpass plus and Disneys Disability Access Service Card for him. Then adjust their use as we see best. We have three ADRs, Bomas, a repeat favorite of ours, Sci-Fi Diner, and the Plaza Restaurant, which is new to us.
Two weeks before we left; Dana hurt her back. She got better but never fully recovered in time and had to rent a light wheel chair. She could walk short distances till her back acted up. Bill was also suffering from knee pain. So the chair would serve as a resting spot for him as well. In the end I felt it did not affect our touring of the parks at all. Wheelchairs are highly maneuverable even in crowds and we pushed her as quickly as we walked. Her ability to walk through queues at times made that part equal as well. I recommend that if you are with a group and need some assistance walking, don’t hesitate to rent one. You can easily park the chair with the strollers and enjoy the queue as normal. Don’t let the perceived stigma stop you.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Kelli and I woke up early at 5:30AM and our brother-in-law Rich drove us to JFK Airport. We met Dana, Frank, Frankie Jr. and Bill in the terminal and checked in. Security was a bit odd; Kelli was pre-cleared and did not have to take off her shoes, but I had to. It seemed to be a random thing. It was Dana’s and Frankie Jr.’s first flight and fortunately we had a very smooth flight down.
We had a bit of a wait for our luggage, and then we had to split up for the rental cars. Kelli, Bill and I went to Alamo and the others went to Hertz. Kelli picked a roomy white Impala with California plates and we were off to Pop Century via the south exit. I forgot to tell Frank that this route requires 75 cents in change to get through the last unmanned toll booth, oops! Yes, Florida is stupid enough to have an unmanned toll on a common route from the airport to Disney.
As we got out of the car at Pop Century, Frank pulled into the check-in parking lot. We all checked in at the same time with three different CM’s and made sure all our rooms were together. They were way back in the 50’s section, Building Two 2346, 2347, 2348. Perfect for our group who wanted a quiet section and close parking since we won’t be using the buses.
We had lunch at the Everything POP Shopping and Dining food court. The menu was updated from the last time we were here. I would guess it is in response to the better food court across the lake at Art of Animation. Kelli tried the Salmon Burger with wasabi Thai curry, and mayonnaise and I the Sloppy Joe sandwich with onion rings. I tried a bite of the salmon burger and it was really good; the sloppy joe was fine, nothing better or worse than expected.
Dana picked up her light foldable wheelchair at bell services and we all unpacked in our rooms.
We then headed for a quick run to Publix in Celebration off Route 192 for bottled water, soda and snacks for the week. FYI, there is a liquor store next door.
Frank, Dana, and Frankie headed out to Epcot later and got the DAS (Disability Access Service) card for Frankie, and rode Soarin’, Spaceship Earth and viewed IllumiNations.
Kelli and I headed by car to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to meet my niece, Kristen for dinner at Jiko- The Cooking Place with a 6 PM ADR. Kristen was in down from New York in St Augustine for an internship. Traffic delayed Kristen a bit but the restaurant was not busy and we checked in 15 minutes late and only waited a short time for a table. We had not seen Kristen for a while and we had a fantastic time catching up and enjoy the fabulous food at Jiko; we are all “foodies”.
We started with drinks with Kristen trying the Sunriser; Parrot Bay, Banana liqueur, orange, pineapple and cranberry juices and I got the Safari Amber.
For appetizers we all split the Grilled Wild Boar Tenderloin; Meale Pap, chakalaka, white truffle oil and micro cilantro and a bread plate called "Taste of Africa".
Taste of Africa; consisted of three different breads and four sauces. Jiko even handed out a card explaining each offering. If you are not foodies or interested, you can skip the next part.
The breads tonight consisted of: Pappadam, an Indian bread made from lentil flour; Poppy Seed Lavash; and Naan, Jiko’s version has yogurt and flax seeds.
The dips consisted of: Bhuna Masala, curry consisting of tomato, coconut, tamarind and chile peppers; Sagh Dahi, aka Dhai Saag, paste made of lentil, spinach, garlic, and chiles; Moroccan Chermoula, a mixture of herbs, oil, lemon juice, pickled lemons, garlic, cumin and salt; and Kalamata Hummus, cooked mashed chickpeas, with sesame seed paste, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and kalamata olives.
Entrees included: West African Jerked Scallops, basmati rice, red quinoa, vegetable mélange, and coconut curry sauce; Tangine Chicken, preserved lemon artichokes olive, cinnamon couscous, harissa and saffron jus; Lamb Two Ways, autumn vegetables, pumpkin seed duqqa, grilled olive ciabatta and pomegranate demi-glace.
For dessert Kristen had the Banana Bread Pudding, raisin bread, custard, banana with Madagascar Vanilla bean ice cream, and Van der Hum Liqueur; Kelli and I split the Lavender Citrus Crème Brulee, madeleines with coriander glaze.
The Tables in Wonderland saved us $35.31 off the bill which was $171.06 with tax and tip included. Expensive but the meal and the company was so worth it.
After dinner we took a look out back at some of the animals and visited the lobby. The lodge had a colorful parade with drums, children and parents while we toured. We took a few pictures of us thanks to the help of some resort guests and a Cast Member. I picked up our rental car from the valet, free with the Tables in Wonderland card and drove Kristen down to her car in the parking lot. We said our goodbyes and sent her on her way. We headed back to Pop to get a good night sleep to start touring the parks tomorrow with our friends.
Thursday, April 3
After an early 6:30 AM breakfast at the food court, with Kelli having cereal and I with the French Toast platter we shopped in Pop for some magicband bling. I found some Muppets and attached Animal and Kermit to the band and Kelli went for some fashionable clear light blue and green Mickeys. All six headed with two cars to the Ticket and Transportation to catch some of the early magic hour at the Magic Kingdom. They held non-Disney resort guests before the monorail and ferry. Cast members checked our magicbands and let us through. We chose to ride the monorail to the park and arrived around 8:30.
Crowds were light and we easily walked on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. Space Mountain had a short wait. Kelli and Bill sat this one out; but I decided to try it. I had not been on it in a long while. I have a hard time fitting my long legs in with my hip problems. But I figured out a new way to make myself fit. I was grinning like a kid at the end of the ride. Dana was also happy she did her first coaster and wanted a souvenir. Surprisingly the gift shop had little to commemorate her achievement. A cast member helped out by creating a celebration button for her. I also pressed a penny with Space Mountain on it and gave it to Frankie.
Next up was a relaxing ride around Tomorrowland on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover followed by Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. Buddy Boil selected Kelli to try and read her mind. She did great and looked like a natural up on the TV screen. The show was funny as ever.
After a quick rest room break next to Auntie Gravity’s we crossed the park for our FP+ time on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Next up was Bill’s favorite, the Haunted Mansion with a short wait. We had time before our FP+ time for Peter Pan’s Flight so we used DAS card on it’s a small world and waited the 25 minutes just out in front. I think the new DAS card works great and is very fair. It does not give anyone a shorter wait than anyone else, just the needed relief from confined and crowded queues.
We all enjoyed Peter Pan’s Flight next with our FP+ and magicbands. Next up was Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Frankie really enjoyed this one. We had gotten a lot done and the park was finally filling in. We checked in early for our ADR at The Plaza Restaurant. This is a new restaurant for Kelli and me.
A couple of people ordered the turkey sandwich, I ordered the Cheese Steak Sandwich and Kelli the Tuna Salad Sandwich; which is listed on the menu as a tuna salad with lettuce and tomato on freshly baked croissant. She also had an Arial lemonade Glow cup. It came with a light up Ariel figure on the straw. I mentioned we should try to get another one for Marissa, a huge Ariel fan.
Kelli’s dish was the last one out and unfortunately and oddly the croissant had various seeds on top. Kelli is allergic to sunflower seeds and had to ask if they were present, they were. A chef from the kitchen came out and offered to remake the sandwich on white bread. We tried to slowly eat as she waited, but we were still finished before hers came out. Our waitress finally came back around after a long absence and we asked; she was surprised that no one brought it out. The kitchen had forgotten about it. We had to wait even longer for them to make it. Kelli was pissed. It’s hard to enjoy your meal after that. Our waitress did offer to take it off the bill and give us a couple of free desserts. We were all full but decided to share one sundae.
We give the Plaza Restaurant a B+ for food, D for our waitress and F for the other staff.
We left magic kingdom so we could enjoy the pool during the heat of the day. This time we took a relaxing ferry ride back to the Ticket and Transportation center and our cars.
Like many of us, we all endured a longer than normal winter. The pool, sun and warm weather felt great. Dinner was at Pop Century around 5:30PM. I tried the Coconut Curry Shrimp with vegetables with green curry and rice; Kelli had the Rotisserie Chicken. We really enjoyed these entrees. As we were finishing our meal the cast members came out and danced to the Hustle at 6 PM in the middle of the food court.
Bill stayed back at the resort and the five of us headed back to the Magic Kingdom arriving at the Ticket and Transportation center before 7 pm. We decided on the relaxing ferry ride again and once inside the park headed to Adventureland. People were already taking positions for the parade on Main Street, but the back of the park was not that crowded. Pirates of the Caribbean had a short wait so we rode that then headed for the Jungle Cruise. It had a long wait so we used the DAS card to come back later. We passed the time in the Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room missing about half of the preshow.
We did Jungle Cruise and it was Kelli’s first time at night, and only my second. It does take on a different feel as others have posted. We had a good clear talking skipper and she had some new material I have not heard. It was a great trip through the exotic rivers.
We made our way over to the parade route and found an empty spot in front of the Frontier Trading Post. Most people were up on the steps and tree planters. We had a front row view and sat on the ground, except for Dana who sat in the wheelchair. Some adults filled in behind us but no one ever pushed their way up in front. Kelli and I have never viewed the Main Street Electrical Parade from this vantage view, as a kid would see it low from the ground and up close. The parade looked spectacular!
After the parade we tried to head towards the castle, but were caught up in a crowded mob. The mob stopped as the castle projection show started. Dana, Frank and Frankie bailed out due to the heavy crowd. Kelli and I were caught up ahead and could not move backwards or forwards. We watched the show with a partial side view of the castle. After the show and the crowd thinned slightly we pushed our way back to the empty area near Liberty Square and found our friends. I apologized for the crowd. I knew we could not leave due to the very heavy crowd on Main Street, however, I knew we could see all of the big fireworks from the empty area behind the castle near it’s a small world. We enjoyed the fireworks from there then tried to let the crowd thin out before heading towards Main Street. Main Street was still mobbed so we shopped inside the stores entering at Casey’s Corner, letting the crowd thin out more. I finally brought one of the books on Walt Disney, Bob Thomas’s “Walt Disney - An American Original”
We made our way through the stores and out the gates easily, but we hit the mob again both heading to the Monorail and Ferry. We tried to wait them out but even after another 15-20 minutes the mobs never diminished. Now I REALLY know why we bus to MK, but drive to the other parks. Resort buses may be crowded and you may even have to wait for a second bus; but it is far better than trying to get to a car at the Ticket and Transportation Center.
I decided to have our group walk over to the Contemporary and catch a resort monorail there. It took time and was a long walk, but the main thing was to avoid the crowd. It worked out well but we did not get back to Pop Century and our waiting beds till midnight.
Friday, April 4, 2014
Today was our Animal Kingdom day and it opened at nine so we met a little later for breakfast at 7:30. Today I tried the ham and cheese omelet. At 8 AM the cast members danced to the Twist.
We arrived by car and got in a little after opening; there were still small lines of a dozen or so at each turnstile. OK, they are not turnstiles anymore but what do we call them, RFID entrance readers?
|Photo Bombed!||Kelli and Mike|
We had a 9:20-10:20 AM Fast Pass plus for Kilimanjaro Safaris so we took our time heading to Africa. Dana spotted a couple of nice hats at the Mombasa Marketplace but decided to wait to buy.
Our safari ride was good, the giraffes were not at close as they sometimes are, but a White Rhino came right up to the truck. Afterward we stopped back at the Mombasa Marketplace to shop and Dana got her hat, later in the trip it looked just as good on Frank so he ended wearing it most of the time.
Our time for Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain was approaching so we headed to Asia. Bill, Kelli and Dana decided to sit this one out. We got the second and third row so the view of the broken tracks was great.
We had time before the next showing of Flights of Wonder so we explored the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Dana was keen on seeing the giant fruit bats. The Komodo Dragon was out; I thought it had passed away recently. The bats did not disappoint but the highlight was the bird enclosure. We spent a good amount of time in there.
We had great front row seats for the Flights of Wonder show. Guano Joe was amusing as ever and the birds and our host put on a great show. Next was the Flame Tree Barbecue for lunch and we found a nice quiet spot to eat next to the reflecting pool about half way down. A couple of White Ibis came by looking for scraps.
White Ibis looking for a handout
After lunch we did Dinosaur using our last fast pass plus and shopped at a kiosk nearby. Next was It’s Tough to be a Bug and the effects surprised our three newbies good! J
We had time before the next Nemo show and Kelli found the Vera Bradley bags in Disney Outfitters shop that she was in search of for her sister. She wasn’t sure if it was the right pattern so thanks to technology we took a picture with her phone and e-mailed it to her sister. I promised Kelli that if we can’t find them anywhere else we will come back here if we had to.
We hurried back to Finding Nemo - the Musical and had a short wait on line before being let in. Everyone enjoyed the show and we rushed out to try and stay ahead of the crowd. We left the park to head over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for our 5:10 PM ADR at Boma – Flavors of Africa.
I missed the turn for the lodge out of the parking lot. I don’t think it is marked with a sign. We had to make a U-turn on Osceola Parkway to get back. Once there I took Dana, Frank and Frankie out back to show them the animals. Kelli and Bill sat inside in the air conditioning. We had great weather for the trip, temperatures were higher than normal and that meant the mornings were not too cool. By late afternoon it was well into the eighties.
We met a helpful cast member out back and saw the pelicans and some distance giraffes. Boma had just opened so we were seated quickly and had no lines at the buffet. The kids section seemed a little light on normal items but Frankie filled up on mac and cheese. Kelli and I split a Godiva flight, 3 half ounce pours of Godiva Liqueur; Chocolate, White Chocolate and Caramel topped with Godiva liqueur infused strawberries. I think I was still a bit full from lunch and ate lighter than normal so I still had room for my Zebra Domes.
The first two days have been tiring so we relaxed at the pool tonight till it got too cool out.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Today is Hollywood Studios day and Kelli and Bill decided to skip it since they don’t do thrill rides. I woke up very early before sunrise and quietly sneaked out to let Kelli sleep. After an Egg and Cheese Bagel, I took my time walking near the lake and took some nice pictures.
I met Dana, Frank and Frankie outside the room at 8 and we headed over to the Studios in one car. The plan was for Kelli and Bill to meet us for lunch later traveling by bus. Kelli had a great morning sitting and reading by the lake and she was able to observe both Great Egrets and a Great Blue Heron fishing for meals along the water edge.
Once at the park the intrepid four headed to Toy Story to get a return time with the DAS card. We explored the Street of America to pass the time and ended up near Star Tours - The Adventures Continue. It was a walk on so we went in. We had Darth Vader, the Wookie Planet, which I have not seen, Yoda and the Death Star. Next was back to Toy Story Midway Mania and I rode with Frankie. Everyone really enjoyed it and Frankie bested my score.
|Darth Mickey||Barrel of Monkeys||Princess Leia painting available in Tatooine Traders|
We crossed the park and Frank, Frankie and I rode Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. It was a great sequence; I don’t think I went up and down so many times as in past rides. Next up was Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. It is amazing how young they look ;-). Frankie is a big Indiana Jones fan so we headed there early for the 11AM show. We had front row seats, but off to the right side. It was startling when Indiana burst down from the ceiling right in front of us. The show was spectacular; we really felt the heat of the flames during the plane scene.
Kelli had made her way into the park; Bill’s knees were acting up so decided on the pool today. After the show we met in front of the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant and had a slight wait after checking in.
We ordered the Fried Dill Pickles and the Spinach and Artichoke Dip as appetizers for the table. We noticed they had the light up cups again. Kelli ordered the Cars 3 punch and I ordered another Ariel as a little gift to Marissa who is due with her first child in a month. Frankie got a Meteor and had his own glow cube as well. Kelli and I also ordered a special alcoholic Oreo Shake. Again they got Kelli’s order wrong and she got a regular Oreo shake. I switched with her since hers was smaller and I was getting full on the appetizers. I think most of us had burgers and the meal was very filling.
We were out in time to make the 1:30 PM Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. We wheeled Dana in and took the elevator up, but she was able to walk to a seat. I think Frankie really enjoyed this. It took a while to get out; there was a long line of wheelchairs and EVCs for the elevator down.
We headed back to the resort for a midday break. Kelli and I took the bus back and stopped at the food court for some snacks including a King Cupcake, in honor of Elvis. It is a chocolate cupcake with banana custard filling, peanut butter frosting and candied bacon. It was delicious! I chose the Tie-dyed Cheese Cake which now comes in its own round single serve packaging. I do prefer the old slice they used to have, but this was almost as good. We also picked up a hummus and pretzel pack, this turned out to be a great snack and ended up purchasing one each day for the rest of the trip.
We relaxed at the pool and then we decided to head to Epcot for the evening for the flower and garden show, and to eat at the world showcase; Bill again stayed behind. We took a few pictures in front of Spaceship Earth and the topiaries, then showed Frank and Dana, Kelli’s Leave a Legacy plaque on the pylons in front.
Next stop was the Butterfly Garden. It was crowded but a lot of butterflies were out.
|White Peacock||Zebra Longwing||Queen|
We made our way to the World Showcase and started to check out all the Outdoor Kitchen menus for things to eat. We went right towards Canada but as we neared the Pavilion we could hear Off Kilter playing and saw a massive crowd extending into England. We reversed and retreated and crossed the Showcase Plaza, admiring the Fantasia topiary, and stopped at the Urban Farm EATS. Kelli got the Land-Grown Eggplant “Scallop” with Romesco Sauce and Spaghetti Squash and I had the Ghost Pepper dusted Tilapia with crisp Winter Melon Slaw and Mint Oil featuring the original sauce Man’s Kick It Up Rub. Both were delicious.
Next I tried the Quesadilla de Hongos con Queso (flour tortilla filled with Mushrooms and Cheese) at the Jardin de Fiesta kiosk.
We finished dinner with a stop at the Florida Fresh kiosk. We each had the Shrimp; with stone ground grits with Andouille sausage, sweet corn, tomatoes and cilantro.
We continued our way to the American Adventure pavilion. Kelli noticed that Paul Revere and the Raiders would be starting soon. We decided to split up. Dana, Frank and Frankie would continue on; they wanted to try the sushi in Japan and leave before the IllumiNations crowds. We found seats in the American Gardens Theater and relaxed till the start of the show. It is hard to believe that at age 76; Paul Revere is still “performing” and has been touring in 7 different decades for 56 years. The band even appeared on the Batman television series as themselves performing one song (episode title: "Hizzonner the Penguin").
The band did Raiders song, some cover songs, as well as their big hit “Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)”; you might know the words - Cherokee people! Cherokee tribe!
At the Smokehouse Barbecue and Brews; Kelli found her Piggylicous cupcake, a bacon cupcake with maple frosting, pretzel crunch and smoked bacon. I had a bite and it hit the spot! We continued around the World Showcase and decided to shop in Mouse Gears instead of seeing IllumiNations. We did stop outside MouseGears in front of the fountain to view the beginning of the fireworks. When the show centered on the globe, we went in to shop.
The main purpose was to find the Vera Bradley bags found earlier at Animal kingdom and to see if they had other patterns. They did; but Kelli went with the current pattern and bought the items requested from her sister. She also picked up a small backpack with the same pattern for herself. The annual pass discount of 10% came in handy here!
Illuminations had just finished and we left ahead of most the crowd.
Sunday, April 6, 2014
We headed back to Epcot after a breakfast of French toast and pancakes. Bill is coming along!
We headed to the Land Pavilion. I scurried ahead to get a return time for Soarin with the DAS card. We left the wheelchair upstairs. Dana will try to walk the pavilion. To pass the time and have a place to sit we did the Circle of Life movie. This is so well done and Timon and Pumbaa provide some comic relief.
We rode Soarin, one of our favorites. This time Dana really enjoyed it. During her first ride on Wednesday she was too apprehensive about it and she was glad that she had a second shot at enjoying it. We crossed over and did Test Track with Kelli sitting it out. It was me, Frankie Jr and Bill designing one car and Frank and Dana the other. Frankie did most of the work as Bill is “still off the grid” and was reluctant to play with the design screen. Our ride in the test car out in the open was exhilarating. Bill likes this ride but this time his knees got banged up. He had ridden his two favorite rides here and decided to head out since we were still relatively close to the entrance.
We stopped and enjoyed the JAMMitors. We never get tired seeing this short but impressive percussion show.
Next stop was the festival center, but not before getting some free Transitions Adaptive Lenses for regular glasses. You peel and stick them to clear glasses and they become sunglasses in the sun and clear in the shade.
Once inside I asked at the Intermissions Café if the Caprese Push Pops were available. They said maybe in about 15 minutes so we shopped. I picked up a garden show vinylmation.
I bought a round of the Caprese Push Pops; Tomato, Mozzarella, and Balsamic in a little tube that you push into your mouth. They were awesome and we ordered more. No wonder they run out so quickly.
We headed out and paused at the active Purple Martin bird condo outside Innovations and visited the Hummingbird at Home, a National Audubon Society area with plenty of hummingbird attracting plants. No hummers were seen but we knew we would see them back home in New York in early May.
We took pictures with the Mater and Lightening McQueen topiaries. Unfortunately my photos of the day had a burry spot on each since I got some of the balsamic on my camera lens!
There was another obligatory shopping at Mouse Gears before heading to the World Showcase. I really liked the Sand sculpture before reaching Canada promoting the new Disney Bears documentary.
With smaller crowds then yesterday we finally made it to the Buttercup Cottage. Time to eat! Kelli and I shared the Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare, Pork and Apple Sausage Roll with Piccalilli, Lemon Scones with Berry Preserves and Crème Fraiche, and a Rose Blush Lemonade with Raspberry. All were quite good.
In France we all relaxed at a small table sipping our alcoholic slushes. Dana had the Grand Marnier Orange Slush, Kelli the Grey Goose Citron Vodka and Lemonade Slush and I got the special at Fleur de Lys, a La Vie en Rose Frozen Slush (vodka, grey goose orange, St.Germain liquor, white and red cranberry juice). It was almost as good as being in Paris on a beautiful spring day. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable moment.
We eventually got up and made our way to Japan where Frank and Dana encouraged me to try the sushi at the Hanami kiosk. I enjoyed the Hanami Sushi; salmon, scallop and beef topped rice balls served atop a Shiso violet sauce.
We made our way around the showcase. Frank and Dana picked up a drink or appetizer here or there. Kelli and I were fairly full but were keeping an eye out for a dessert.
In Norway we got a return time for the Maelstrom for about 20 minutes later and we just waited in the courtyard. Kelli had been eyeing people carrying what looked like Napoleons and wanted dessert. I took a quick trip to the restrooms and came back through Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe. I picked up a School Bread, best dessert deal on property. Kelli did not care for any. So I wolfed it down before heading in to ride the Maelstrom. We bypassed the movie, the temperature was up in the high eighties and we were beginning to fade.
We stopped at Pineapple Promenade and I got as Pineapple Soft Serve for Kelli and a Pineapple Soft Serve with Myers’s Dark Rum for me before heading out. At the entrance Frank and Dana tried on more hats at a stand but Dana could not find one that she liked.
The afternoon was spent cooling off in the pool before heading to dinner at the food court. Afterwards we headed to the bridge with some pizza crust to see if any turtles were out. We attracted a few Florida Softshell Turtles and a few small fish. The water was like glass and we took some cool photos of the area as the sun set.
Kelli and I stopped by the Pop Century food Court for a late dessert. She got the Chocolate Cake and I had a Mickey Ice-cream bar. We also picked up another hummus and pretzel pack
Afterwards we hung out in front of our rooms, pulling some chairs onto the walkway and just drinking, snacking and talking with our friends. It was a highlight of the trip as it was so relaxing.
Monday, April 7, 2014
We decided the night before that today would be a true vacation day and we would “relax more” and do a tour of the Art of Animation Resort. We slept in a bit and after breakfast we headed to the bridge to cross over to the other resort. But not before attracting more turtles, some huge fish, and a Florida Gar with scraps from breakfast. This is the first time that we have seen this primitive fish here. Cool. On the other end of the bridge a Double-crested Cormorant peered up at us with his green eyes.
We toured the Art Resort first taking our time in the Nemo section then the Cars section. We took a lot of photos here.
After a stop for lunch (grill cheese and tardoor shrimp) and shopping in the main building we continued on into the Lion King and Little Mermaid sections. We returned via the path around the lake. It is interesting to note that once Art of Animation opened that the walking/jogging path around the lake is complete, and you can also drive from one parking lot to the other; i.e. if you are in Pop century you can drive through the resorts to the Art of Animation building without heading out to the main road.
Kelli and I headed by car to Downtown Disney in the early afternoon for a quick shopping trip. I was lucky enough to find parking at the far end of the lot and we only hit D-Street for some vinylmation buying and trading then on to World of Disney. I picked up a couple of packages of Disney and Minnie Mouse sticky notes for coworkers. We stopped into Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop. I tried a new salted caramel banana shake and Kelli ordered a lemon fizz, but they were out so settled for a strawberry one.
We headed back to Pop Century and joined everyone at the pool one last beautiful time. We are not looking forward to those cool temperatures back in New York.
After dinner at the Pop food court, Southwest burger and chicken flatbread; Kelli and I decided on one last jaunt into a park. We needed something to hold us till we get back here in September. We took the bus to Magic Kingdom and got inside about 8:30 PM. We had time so we rode the People Mover and Buzz Light-year. We headed over to the hub as the Main Street Electrical Parade was ending and stepped into the street to watch the Celebrate the Magic show and Wishes nighttime spectacular. We headed out, making our usual way through the stores and had a moderately long wait for a bus, about 20 minutes, we must have just missed one.
Back at Pop Century we grabbed another King Cupcake for a late night snack.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
We had a mid-day flight so we did not have to get up too early. Breakfast was a little before eight; we grabbed one more King Cupcake which we transported home in our carryon. We all headed back to the airport by nine. I had forgotten to gas up the night before so had to unexpectedly exit off I-417 before we got too close to the airport and sky-high gas prices. I exited onto S John Young Parkway and found a Texaco station with normal prices.
I had trouble returning the car at Alamo. Remember we picked out a car with California plates; they could not find the car in their system! We had to go to the desk to get a receipt.
We still had time to shop in the Universal Studios shop where I picked up some minions for the lab. Security was again a mess. Apparently some people have been pre cleared and others have not. You had to be in the right line for each, but it seemed many couples have one of each, so you have to split up.
Most, like us, did not know this. After spending time on one line and realized they were turning people away we got off onto another line. We waited again till we got in front. Well, I was on the right line but now Kelli was in the wrong one and had to get back on the other line we just came from. She was pre cleared so got through with little wait. It looked like I had a very long wait. But after getting checked by the first NSA idiot they put me on the screening line that had pre-clearance since the regular line was so backed up. Wow, what a safe and time saving new procedure – NOT! The good thing now was that I did not have to take off my shoes or take out my computer so things moved quickly after that. I was still the last to be cleared with everyone in my party waiting for me.
Our plane was late arriving at our gate for departure. They had heavy turbulence heading down. Kelli was now more apprehensive than usual. They kept the seatbelt sign on the whole time. But it turned out it was not bad at all. Our nephew was there to pick us up and we were home in no time.
Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed the pictures,
Michael and Kelli
Read our other trip reports at Kelli and Mike's Adventures