Solo runDisney Trip: A Trip of Firsts

lovett1979

Member
Got back from an amazing trip to Disney World on Tuesday and want to share it all with you. It took me (too) many hours yesterday to figure out how to get my photos from my phone to imgur for sharing but no they're ready so my report can begin!

Background
I am a 38-year-old single woman living in NYC. I've always loved Disney but have become nuts about the parks in the last 2 years. I've done a couple of trips with my best friend's family (see trip report http://www.easywdw.com/forums/showthread.php?33839-Family*-Trip-Aug-22-30-(*not-technically-my-family) for our August trip) and I took a last-minute short 3 day trip in November, 2015 to experience Food & Wine for the first time, and Osborne Lights for the first (and last) time.

When I heard about runDisney, I thought it would be a great excuse to get to go to Disney again. I am overweight and not an athlete and have never run or done anything like this before. I mean there's no reason to run a race unless Mickey Mouse is going to High 5 you at the end, right? I chose the 10K distance because 5K just didn't seem like enough to really *justify* a whole trip, and a Half Marathon is way too much. I started training in March (I have a trainer who guided me and we worked very similarly to the Galloway plans) and successfully worked up to 5 miles. I had a slight setback in October when I fell while running at night and hurt my hand, knee, and elbow (mostly external injuries, but still annoying and painful), but by race day, I was ready!

I flew on JetBlue with miles, bought a 5-day non-PH ticket from Official Ticket Center (which, btw, plugs Josh's book int he confirmation email), and used $480 in gift cards and rewards dollars from my Disney Visa to apply to my room to try to bring the cost of the trip down as much as possible.

So, I think that's all you need to know to start. I hope you enjoy my coming tales of the trip.

 
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lovett1979

Member
November 3 - Going to Disney!

(this part is boring, but there's some details about arrangements at MCO that one might find useful)

I worked a full day at my office job, headed to JFK, and got on a plane leaving at 8pm. I had been planning to carry-on my 1 suitcase (JetBlue now charges for checking luggage) but it was a full flight and they asked for volunteers to check their bags (free of charge) so I did. The flight was nauseatingly bumpy but we got to MCO in one piece and I was off the plane at 11:10pm.

My flight's bags were in the A luggage area so after I got my bag (one of the first off, because of the gate check), I had to go back up and over to B to get my Magical Express bus. I was staying at All Star Music for this night only so that's the line I went to. Sadly, I *just* missed a bus. Bad timing, I guess (although I recall the same thing happening to me last year). So I was the first one on the next bus, but we waited at the airport till we were full so we didn't pull away until around 12.

ASMu was the third stop (after CSR and ASSports) and I had to check-in at the desk. I had done online check-in a couple of weeks prior but never received a text with my room number, not sure why. It took a while to get to someone (very understaffed at midnight, understandably) but I got my room info and was in my room at 1am, about an hour later than I had anticipated.

I had requested "close to transportation" and "first floor" and was given room 0440 in building 10. TouringPlans lists this as a Preferred room, although I recall booking a Standard (and now can't find anything with that information to confirm or not). Either way, it was a great location. Close to the main building (food, transportation), the pool (not that I used it), and had beautiful greenery outside. When I turned the corner onto the block with my room, it smelled of the woods.



In the morning, I brought my suitcase to Bell Services for transfer, bought a Runner's Box* for breakfast, and headed for the bus to the Race Expo at ESPN.

*Runner's Box-this was something I found at the food courts for ASMu and POFQ, it is probably available at all resorts during a runDisney weekend. It had a bagel, peanut butter (with knife), banana, granola bar, and small Dasani for $8. It's good of them to provide these to people who are prepping for a race and don't want a super fatty bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich or a super sugary muffin the day(s) before they run.
 
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Mrs Darling

Active member
Love love love that pic with Mickey & Minnie!!
That alone would be worth the trip (to me anyway)
10k is an awesome distance. Long enough that you feel that you really achieved something, short enough that you can still do the parks
Can't wait for the rest of your report!
 

lovett1979

Member
Hey folks, I'm so glad you are following along and interested to hear about my trip. Unfortunately (and most likely due in part to the trip), I've been really backed-up at work so I haven't had the chance to write. But rest assured, I will get to it. Stay tuned.
 
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BeckyW

New member
Following along! I'm doing my first runDisney event, the Princess Half, in Feb. Thanks for sharing!!
 

lovett1979

Member
November 4 - Race Expo

The bus drop-off at ESPN was a bit of a walk from the actual complex, and I had no idea where I was going, but I just followed the crowds and got to the line for bib pickup just as they let people in (10am). The line wasn't too bad and I was in and out (with my bib) pretty quickly. Then I had to go to a second building to get my shirt and bag (contained a CLIF Bar and safety pins for the bib, also can be used to store stuff during the race). I walked around for a little bit checking out the vendors. I can see how one could really get sucked into buying a LOT of merchandise.



I found out how to sign up for a friend to get text messages regarding my progress during the race and got a pamphlet about racer discounts at Disney Springs for the weekend. That was a nice little perk. The whole thing took about an hour and I walked back to the busses and jumped on the first one I saw (All-Star Sports). Through the whole process, I had walked about 4,000 steps which seemed unfair to me. I had a race to run the next day, I was trying to conserve my steps, you know?

At ASSports, I went right from the runDisney bus to the Epcot bus stop and a bus came relatively quickly. I was finally on my way to a park!
 
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lovett1979

Member
November 4 - Epcot



After a "random" (I always seem to get chosen at Epcot) trip through the metal detector, I was in Epcot!

[CL7, Epcot not recommended (because Friday during F&W)]

Now, I titled this a "solo" trip, but I wasn't actually alone the whole time. My best friend from childhood, who now lives a couple hours away from me, was in Orlando for a conference that week, completely coincidentally. She was staying at Pop and her conference ended on Thursday so she was doing Disney on Friday and Saturday, my first 2 days! We had found this out right before the 60-day mark so we were able to coordinate our FPs and I had an ADR that ended up working great for us. It was awesome to get to spend some time together.

So, she was waiting for me at Epcot having just gotten off Test Track. We had some time before our SE FP so I met her at TT. We used the SR line, which was about a 10 minute wait. This was around 11:30. I've been on TT before but this was the first time I was in the front seat of the car. OMG, I am never sitting in the back again! I'm only 5'6" (but have a bit of a butt) but my knees always bump painfully during that ride. Not so, in the front! On future rides during this weekend, I always asked for the front and it made such a difference. On our way out, I stopped to design a car to use in future rides (the one downside to using SR is skipping the design room).

We made a quick visit to the Festival Center to check it out and get free chocolate from Ghirardelli. I love the chocolate dioramas there. For those that don't know, Disney chefs make elaborate scenes using only chocolate. They are remarkable creations. This one was my favorite.



Our SE FP time had opened up so we went to do that. We spent most of the ride chatting about Disney, life, and everything else (it wasn't the first time on this for either of us). One thing to note was that the pictures that they use in the personalized videos was working. It had not been when i went in August, or on a vlog that I had seen only a couple of weeks prior. I don't know if this is something that comes and goes, or if it got fixed just before this trip.

We stopped for some quick free soda at Club Cool and then went to do Journey Into Imagination. It's a cute ride that I've done before, but it's not an "every trip" ride. I had heard a rumor, though, that it might be going away so I wanted to get one last trip on it, just in case.

According to apps (MDE and tourinplans), the wait at Soarin wasn't bad, but when we got there, it said 85 minutes, iirc. We decided to go "live with the land" instead. I know Josh made fun of the F&W signs on some of the items in the greenhouse but I liked that they were trying to tie those things together. I do always find that a relaxing and interesting ride, and will somebody tell me what a peanut butter tree is?

My friend decided that, even with a long wait (now closer to 60 minutes), she had to do Soarin one more time. I had to "conserve" my feet for the race the next day so I left to get some F&W eats. I had a few things from the booths on the path to FW and did my best to find shaded areas where I could eat/relax. I'll share my full list of F&W items and thoughts in a later post.

After Soarin, my friend found me and we went to get her fish & chips in UK (she was on the DDP so F&W didn't make sense). I have never had the fish & chips and they looked really, really good. That is definitely going on the wish list for the next trip (whenever that may be). We sat and chatted for a while and then walked over to Mexico and rode the Gran Fiesta Tour.

We had FPs for Frozen Ever After at 4:50, which was the earliest we were able to get for 2 people at 57 or 58 days out. This as my first time on the ride, and I had never done Maelstrom, so it was a totally new experience for me. I really like the movie and I found the ride to be charming and fun. It wasn't worth a super-long wait, of course, but with a FP it's pretty fun.

I stopped into Kringla go Bakeri to get School Bread to have for breakfasts in my room, but they were out!!! :RpS_sad:

We left the park together and my friend headed to the monorail to MK and I went to get a bus to Port Orleans French Quarter, my real resort for this trip.
 
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Goofballs

Member
I appreciated the "I was trying to conserve my steps, you know?" Followed by "I went right from the runDisney bus to the Epcot bus stop".
 

lovett1979

Member
I appreciated the "I was trying to conserve my steps, you know?" Followed by "I went right from the runDisney bus to the Epcot bus stop".
Well, I was *gonna* spend the steps in Epcot no matter what, so I just didn't appreciate an additional 4,000 steps just to pick up my race stuff.
 

lovett1979

Member
November 4 - Port Orleans French Quarter

When I arrived at Port Orleans French Quarter, a friend of mine who lives in Orlando was waiting for me at the bus stop. Sadly, she had plans out of town for most of my time there, but was able to meet me for dinner this night. It was a good (but too brief) time. Anyway, she went with me to check-in and get my bag from luggage services.

I had done online check-in and had gotten a text earlier in the day with my room info, and a link to a resort map. I was confused, though, because I thought that I hadn't fully paid for the room. I went to the registration desk because I had wanted to pay with some Disney gift cards that I had through my Disney Visa card. It turns out, when you do online check-in, they charge the card on the reservation the morning of check-in. However, the CM was able to use my gift cards and return that balance to my card, so all was good.

I was in Building 2, room 2306. I had requested close to transportation/upper floor. The elevator was all the way at the other end of the building from the main building, which was a little weird/annoying (conserving steps, remember?) but not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

The room was lovely/no complaints and the resort was absolutely gorgeous. The pool looked nice, though I never found time to use it, and the kids' splash area looked super fun. I was sad it said only for people under 48" :RpS_wink:

Josh's pictures in a recent blog post about the resort are much better than mine, of course, but here are some of the lovely views I saw during my stay.













I would definitely stay there again, given the chance. I liked that it was small and easy to get everywhere. The one negative was the temporary dining situation, but that is no longer an issue.

Back to my day-after we found my room and left my bags there, we went back to the main building for dinner. I had a Broccoli/Cheddar Baked Potato with side salad and that was a nice pre-race carb-load meal. Sadly, I had to get to bed super early so my friend left and I went back to my room.

I unpacked and set out everything I would need for the morning. Then did a little stretching and was in bed by 9. I didn't have trouble falling asleep (odd, given the early hour) but kept waking up through the night due to excitement/nerves for the race. Here we go...
 
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lovett1979

Member
November 5 - Wine & Dine 10K!!!!!

It's here! Race day! Let's go!

(gonna do this with approximate times, in case anyone is reading this in preparation for a race and want to know the basic schedule)

3am-Alarm goes off, jump out of bed, get ready, quick stretching

3:30-Get to bus stop. The first bus is already full. There is a small crowd outside and we are offered to take this bus and stand, or take the next bus (already there), which will also stop at Riverside. I opted for the second bus, and it filled-up with French Quarter people so we went right to the race as well.

3:45-Bus drops us off in the Epcot parking lot but there's a bit of a walk to get to the race area (have you noticed I hate *extra* walking?). But it was fun walking with all these other people through a deserted lot.



4:00-Security check (the little pocket in the holder of my water bottle counts as a bag needing to be checked) and then overwhelmed by everything that's going on. If I was checking a bag of stuff to pick-up after the race, I would do that now (but I wasn't).

4:05-I notice that there are 4 large lines and I realize they are for character meets/photos. The 4 stations are Mickey&Minnie, Remy&Emile, Lumiere, and Goofy&Donald. The lines for the rare characters are much longer, so I hop on the Mickey&Minnie line. It moves pretty quickly (it's all adults that are doing quick pics) and I started chatting with my line neighbor and also admiring everyone's costumes.

I was able to snap these from my line:




(that's Lumiere back there)

And then it was time to meet the famous mice:



4:25-I didn't want to stand through another character line, and I wanted to be in the front of my coral (E, the last one) so I headed in that direction. There were port-a-potties on the way, so I took advantage of that and then went to my coral.

4:30-Entered the coral which was pretty empty. I picked a spot next to the barricade separating E from D (on the left as you enter) so I could sit with my back on the barricade and also use it for support during stretching. I realize now that I should have gone to the other side due to the odd funneling that happens as the coral heads to the start. I also should have been more aggressive about getting as far forward as absolutely possible.

As I waited, I struck up some conversations with those around me and met some lovely people. There were a couple of "waves" where suddenly everyone would get up and move forward, even though nothing was actually happening. It was weird, but it also helped me meet more people, so hey! I also ate the nut-butter Clif bar that had been in the race bag.

5:30-The race starts! As each coral goes through the start line, there are fireworks. After D went through, we made our way to the start line. Here's where I ended up:



There was a DJ asking Ratatouille trivia questions (the 10K was being "hosted" by Remy) and otherwise keeping us "entertained" till the start.

6:10-Our fireworks go off and we start! I stepped on the starting mat at 6:12 and was off!

This was basically the first time I had run with anybody other than myself. It took a while to get used to the energy of all these other people and to pay attention on this new course. I had 1 earbud in to listen to my running playlist and to hear my interval timer. I was doing 60sec run/60 sec walk. A lot of people were doing run/walk and I learned that you are supposed to raise your hand when you are switching to walk so the people behind you don't crash into you. It is also considerate to stay to the left when running and the right when walking. This leads to a lot of extra mileage which, ugh. I also discovered that sometimes I couldn't go as fast as my body wanted to because there were people in front of me, that was unexpected.

The first half of the course is highway, as we left the Epcot parking lot through the toll booths and went onto the road. It was kind of boring but there were video screens set up at some places showing old Mickey cartoons and scenes from Ratatouille. According to my MapMyRun, I was doing (and would continue to maintain) about 14min/mile which was a little slower than my 13:30 during training, but still well under the 16min/mile that would get you swept. I decided not to stop for any characters and wait till America in Epcot to use the bathroom (there were port-a-potties along the course but those had lines). The characters that I saw along the race were Mary Poppins Penguins, Flik & Princess Atta, Phineas & Ferb, Pinocchio & Gepetto, Genie (dressed for vacation), Chip & Dale (dressed for baseball), and Sebastian puppet/parade version?).

We finally made our way into Epcot, entering between Norway and China. As we passed behind Norway, we could see Frozen Ever After boats out back, that was kind of cool. We entered the park and it was absolutely gorgeous with the cauldrons around the lagoon lit up and music blaring from each of the countries. CMs from each country were also lined up and cheering us on. I actually got (unexpectedly) emotional when we entered Epcot. I started to tear and was just overcome with pride and relief (thinking that I was past the sweep point, I've since found out that there is a secondary point) and accomplishment.





As we ran around the World Showcase, the sun started coming up. It was a treat to see WS at dawn.



We exited at International Gateway and ran by the Boardwalk, Beach & Yacht Clubs. It had rained the night before (see Josh's blog on One Upon at Time) so the boardwalk was a bit slippery. That made for some tentative running, just when I was ready to go "full out."


(that's me looking all badass)

We came back into Epcot between UK and Canada and then went through the center part towards Spaceship Earth. At this point, I was super tired but was still running! I was so proud of myself. We looped around SE to the left and then exited Epcot through an exit to the right of the main entrance. I could see the Finish Line and kept running till I hit it!



I started to cry again when they put the medal on me. My official time was 1:34, avg 15min/mile. This makes sense when you factor in all the extra mileage from the weaving, and the breaks, etc. I was happy, but there's definitely room for improvement, so I'll just have to do another one ;-)

My friend (the one from Epcot "yesterday") had come to cheer me on at the finish line so we texted to find each other (during which I momentarily lost the ability to spell "where") and met up. I was kind of overwhelmed and emotional so it was good having a friendly face to hug. We had plans to do MK till mid-afternoon when she had to leave for the airport. She went to the monorail and I went to the bus to POFQ for a much-needed shower. My brain still wasn't working entirely right and I went to the "wrong" bus twice. (don't ask)

I did eventually find the right bus and got back to my resort. While (very slowly) walking to my building, I ran into someone I had chatted with in the coral. She was lovely and we had a lot of things in common. I wish I had gotten more than her first name because she lives in NY and we could be friends, oh well.

So, that was my race! If you are doing or thinking of doing your first runDisney and have any questions, feel free to ask them. I am far from an expert but I know way more than I did before the race and, yes, I am already planning the next one (stupid Disney pushed up all the registration dates so i actually have to commit in 2 weeks, argh).
 
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lovett1979

Member
November 5 - Magic Kingdom, part 1

After I turned myself back into a normal-looking person, I walked (very, very slowly) to the bus stop and headed to Magic Kingdom to meet up with my friend. Some folks on the bus saw my medal and asked me about the race, they were doing the half marathon the next day and had a bunch of questions. I found the medal to be a great conversation-starter throughout the weekend, especially with characters ;-)

[CL8, MK not recommended (because PM EMH)]



I arrived at 10am, and was pleasantly surprised that the crowds/lines weren't crazy. They did funnel us all to the left side for bag check, which was a little annoying, but the lines were not that bad. My friend was riding Splash so I waited for her in a rocking chair in front of Town Square Theater because we had a FP to meet Mickey for 9:40-10:40. I needed to get my post-race High 5. I told him that that was the only reason I did the 10K and he obliged. (the pic wasn't great, though, so I went to see him in Epcot as well and got a better pic)





My friend and I both agree that the talking Mickey is a little weird? It actually makes the interaction less free, because you have to "follow their script." Anyway, we were in and out quickly and strolled up Main Street to stake out a spot for the 10:30 Mickey's Friendship Faire. We found a great spot in the shade, with a fence to lean on, and a great view (if you're looking at the hub like a clock from above, and the castle is 12, we were between 2 and 3). It wasn't the closest view, and there was plenty of room if we had wanted to be closer to the stage, but it was great for us. The show started a little late, I am sure it's because Goofy overslept. I had never seen the show before and it was very cute, although not the most cohesive story. I liked that, for the most part, they got the real voice actors to record the script. They had just started doing the Holiday ending, and that was fun. I like that it will change-up throughout the year.

Because we were living our best lives, my friend wanted an ice cream sandwich from Plaza Ice Cream Parlor and I wanted a Dole Whip (my first ever) for a mid-morning snack. Both were procured and we went into the Tiki Room queue area. The Dole Whip was delicious and refreshing, but I would probably not get the float next time (the sweet pineapple juice made the Whip taste less sweet). I think I saw the Tiki Room show when I went to WDW as a child, but I haven't seen it on any of my recent trips. Really cute show and the animatronic capabilities, considering when it was made, are really impressive. Even when they aren't "singing," all the birds are always "alive" in some way.

We had some time to kill before our Splash FP at 12:10 so we went over to Tom Sawyer's Island. This had been a favorite of mine as a child, but have not been as an adult. It's nice getting away from the park and the crowds for a bit. We didn't do too much active "exploring" but took a quick stroll around the area. I love "going back in time" in places like that.



Back to civilization, we got our Splash on



And went to check out the Country Bear Jamboree. This is another one that I haven't been to recently, if at all. I am happy to report that it was far from empty (as was Tiki Room). I find it sad when attractions like this are totally empty. It shouldn't be all thrill rides, right?

One of the things I was most looking forward to was seeing Great Moments in History with The Muppets and it did not disappoint. We got to see both shows (Declaration and Paul Revere) sitting on the stone planter wall across from the Christmas shop. This is a fantastic addition to MK, a great use of the space, and a great use of the Muppets. This will be a must-do on all future trips. I hope they add more shows/topics to add some variety.



As we walked to Mine Train, we noticed that the crowds were getting bigger and we were happy that they wouldn't effect our plans too much. We had a FP for 1:30 and had a great ride.



Then it was time for our Be Our Guest ADR! I had never been here and had picked-up a late lunch ADR back when I first started planning this trip (in March), thinking that I probably wouldn't get to use it. When my friend and I discovered we'd be there at the same time, she mentioned that she'd like to eat there, but assumed it was too late to get an ADR. What lucky coincidence, I already had one! For 2 people! If we had planned this whole thing from the beginning, the timing couldn't have been more perfect as she had to leave the park at 4 to get her DME to MCO.



BoG is fantastic. The theming is beautifully immersive; we ate in the West Wing (spooky, scary). I had the French Onion Soup, which was soooo delicious, and I was super thrilled that it was vegetarian (usually it's made with beef stock). I haven't had the dish in years, yay! I also had the Tuna Nicoise (very good) and the Master's Cupcake with Gray Stuff (delicious, of course).

We said goodbye as she went to use a 4th FP on Winnie the Pooh and I headed back to POFQ for a much-needed nap. As I left, there were tons of people in Cubs gear lining Main Street as the team was there for a victory "parade" post-world series win. Do they do that every year for whoever the winners are? Or was that because they hadn't won in so long? I was surprised something last-minute like that could attract so many visitors, since it's not a local team. But what do I know, I almost wrote "post-super bowl win" just now.

As I made my way down the bus area, I tried to run to the bus waiting at the POFQ stop (the last station in the line, of course). My hips were having none of that, lol. Luckily the bus driver stepped out and I was able to wave to him to wait for me, and he did, whew. That does not happen in NYC.



At every angle, that's a beautiful castle.
 
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lovett1979

Member
November 5 - Magic Kingdom, part 2

I was intending to return to MK in time for the 7:00 Frozen Holiday Wish Castle Lighting but I could not get myself up from my nap in time for that. I opted for dinner and a drink at my resort's lounge (Scat Cat Club). The shrimp po'boy was just ok but my drink (don't remember what it was) was delicious.

Another bus, bag check, and tapstile later, I was back in MK and looking at the gorgeously lit-up castle.



My feet and hips were really feeling the race now so I took the Railroad over to Frontierland to use my Splash 4th FP.



And then went back to the Railroad to get a ride to Fantasyland. This was the last train of the night and we were warned (repeatedly) that it would only stop in Fantasyland. That was fine with me since I had a 5th FP for Barnstormer. While definitely too short, I think Barnstormer is highly underrated. It's more thrilling than SDMT, I think.

I wanted to do Dumbo, but couldn't get a good FP for it and the waittime (and Barnstormer, too) was pretty long. I'm sure this was because of the EMH. The waittimes were high, the FP availability was low, and the crowds were more plentiful than in late August, that's for sure.

I headed into the Hub to find a spot for Wishes. I ended up pretty close center, in front of the "reserved" area (not sure what the reservation was for? there's no more FP). I love fireworks and they turn the castle lights on near the end for an extra magical touch. Wow.



The area started clearing out and I was able to get into that (no longer) "reserved" grassy area to wait for Once Upon a Time. I had about 20 minutes to kill so I just lay on the grass and enjoyed just "being" in Magic Kingdom. It started to get a little chilly and I was glad I had brought a little jacket.

Once Upon a Time is fantastic!!!! The projections are fantastic, the effects are magical. It was funny and touching, often improving upon the movies themselves. Make sure you add this this to any upcoming trips, I can't wait to see it again!

The park officially closed at 11pm but I stayed for the EMH! I booked-it over to the Peoplemover because I realized too late that it does not operate during EMH. Sadly, I was too late and it was already closed. This might be my one regret of the trip. That is one of my favorite rides and I have done it on very trip of the last 3 years. :RpS_sad:

But since I was there, I hopped into the walk-on line for Astro Orbiters. This was another first for me and I loved it! It's quite a thrill and absolutely beautiful being up that high at night. I did have a bit of trouble getting out of the car, though. Those were not made for people my shape, especially after running and walking all day.

I was hungry so I got some popcorn and ate it while I waited for Monsters Inc Laugh Floor. Funny show, as always.

My memory gets a little fuzzy here. I guess doing Astro Orbitor knocked out my need to do Dumbo, so I went back to the Hub. But I noticed a 20 minute wait at SDMT on my phone so I went through the castle to get to that. The line to get into standby entrance stretched the length of the ride and it was moving, but I didn't trust that "20" and my feet were about to give up so I decided not to chance it.

Back through the castle I went, and it was nice seeing the castle and main street with so few people around.



I stopped into the Confectionery to get some fudge and then left the park. By the time I was back in my room, it was 1am and my iphone pedometer said I had taken 35,000 steps. It was a looooong day.
 
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lovett1979

Member
November 6 - Animal Kingdom, part 1

After that late night, by some miracle (and the switch to daylight savings time), I was able to get to Animal Kingdom for rope drop.

[CL8, AK most recommended]

After going through security, we were held in 2 lines on either side of the center ticket booths. While on line, I ate some snacks from the race for my breakfast. Once we were let through the tapstiles, they held us again in front of the Tree of Life. I sat on some rocks in front of Island Mercantile and waited for the "rope" to drop. Right before opening, a group of gorgeous parrots fly overhead and land nearby. What a fantastic way to start the day!



I (and hundreds of others) made our way to Kilimanjaro Safaris at a quicker-than-normal walking pace and made it to a basically walk-on queue. The safari was amazing. Tons of animals were out and about and the giraffes were right next to the jeep. My iPhone camera can not do justice to the beautiful animals and setting, but here are some of my favorites.











After the safari, I took a quick stroll through Gorilla Falls Trail. I love this gorilla just "hanging out."



I think my second-favorite animal on the trail (after gorillas, of course) are the meerkats. They are so cute! They were all standing and looking at the roof above the viewing area. A CM said there was probably a bird up there.



The next stop in my plan was the 10:45 Flights of Wonder. But, I happened to check the Times Guide while I was on the GF Trail and I saw that the show was now scheduled for 10:30! So I quickly finished up my explorations and headed out of Africa. I did stop, though, at Zuri's Sweet Shop to get some snacks (cake pop and haystack, both amazing!).

When I got to the FoW theater, they weren't letting people in yet but there was a man with an owl at a little stage outside who was doing a Q&A about the bird. It was a nice pre-show. He also told us that the parrots from the RD live a mile or so away and "commute" to Tree of Life every morning.

I had never seen FoW, and I'm not really a bird person, but so many people on here had raved about it so I went. The show is pretty good, and seeing an eagle up close is amazing, but I don't think it will make my "every visit" list.

Next stop was Expedition Everest with a FP. I have never been a big rollercoaster fan, but am becoming more adventurous in the last years. I rode EE last year for the first time and enjoyed it, but would never want to do it back-to-back. Anyway, it was a thrilling and beautiful as always. I would love to ride it at a slow speed because the landscaping and the views as you reach the top are amazing.



I had a FP for the 12:00 Finding Nemo show so that was my next stop. I absolutely love this show! Now, I am a musical theatre lover, I go to Broadway shows all the time, in fact my user name is a musical theatre reference. So, I'm maybe biased, but also hyper-critical. I think this is a great show, with great music and wonderful stage-craft. The cast I saw was particularly wonderful (I've seen videos of less-than-stellar performances) so that definitely helped. I wish there was a cast album I could buy of the score. For those of you who don't know, it was written by legit theatre writers Bobby and Kristen Lopez, who also wrote the music for Frozen.

My final morning stop was It's Tough to Be a Bug. This was another first for me. I loved the bug-themed theatre parody posters in the waiting area (see above re: my love of theatre). The show is fun, but I could see how it could be frightening to most children (or me 5 years ago, lol).

I left the park and took a bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge for my 2:15 ADR at Sanaa. I loved the prospect of eating with a view of the animals roaming but was told the wait would be over 30 minutes, and I was starving at this point, so I had to settle for watching the animals while I waited for my table.



Amazing!

I had the African Starr Mojito and the bread service, as well as the potjie inspired (okra cashew stew and goan seafood curry). I probably should have gotten the salad sampler instead of the potjie because it was all way too much food. But all delicious. I took some of the bread to-go and headed back to Animal Kingdom.
 
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