The "How can we be 40? We just graduated from High School!" Trip Report


New member
I think that combo of activities (brunch and party) will work out perfectly. Might I suggest a monorail Christmas decoration tour in between? That would have been my dream plan, but alas. Also, I'll mention this when I get to my party day, but we were in line at the MK tapstiles by about 3:40, and they started letting us in at 3:46. So if you are wanting as much time in MK as possible, get there early!

Regarding the dress code, I think golf shirt and jeans would be fine for your son (even non-basketball shorts, if he's younger than 10 or so) and nice top and capris or jeans for you. We both wore sundresses and there were people more dressed-up (I definitely remember seeing some of those 50s-style dresses that Disney sells) and some less.
We are totally planning to visit the monorail resorts to see the Christmas decorations! Brunch and MVMCP are the only things we have planned for Sunday so we have plenty of time to make all the stops. Thanks for the heads up about the party entry time. We'd like to get as much done as early as we can. No plans whatsoever to stay at the party until midnight because we have an early day planned for Monday.

DS is 18 so pretty much grown . . . golf shirt it is. I am a stickler for dressing up for things like this but what I would normally insist we wear is not practical theme park attire. I'm sure after a couple mimosas I'll be less uptight about feeling under dressed, ha ha.


Nov 11, part 4 - Fireworks from the Contemporary, sorta

First, be sure to check out the Everest ride photo I added to the AK post!

So we were tired, and we weren't sure if we'd even make it back to the Contemporary in time, but we decided to chance it. After all, when else would we get the opportunity? We figured we'd check out the bus stop, and if it seemed like we'd get on the first bus, we'd do it. And we did! But we didn't fully process that the bus was shared with Wilderness Lodge, and that the bus would stop there first. But by that point, we were on the bus, with no way to escape, as we watched 9pm get closer and closer.

The fireworks started just as we were pulling into the Contemporary area. So we got off the bus, but knew it would be a lost cause to try to get into the balcony viewing area at that point. We could actually see some of the fireworks from the bus waiting area, so we just hung out there. I'm sure there might have been better places we could have gone, but we figured we'd enjoy what we could get. I even pulled up the soundtrack on youtube on my phone and synched it with what we were seeing, that was kind of cool.

We both wanted something to eat by that point (it turns out that ice cream does not make an entirely satisfying dinner) so I suggested we check out that Wave Lounge. After stopping by a Christmas tree

We asked to see the lounge menu and were told we could also order from the restaurant menu. We went to the ladies' room and then found a table in the lounge. When the server came, we asked to order off the restaurant menu, and were told that they close at 9:30!!! (it was about 9:40 at this point) This was very frustrating. But there weren't really any other options, so we ordered from the lounge menu (caesar salad and seared tuna) and had some drinks.

One more Christmas tree

And it was time to head back to Pop. Wanting to avoid the walk back to the MK bus loop, and the possible long wait for a bus, we asked the concierge about the Minnie vans, and if they could accommodate the ECV. She said she thought they could, but you have to call special for it, so she called and was put on hold... while waiting, she asked if we were celebrating anything so we told her we were both celebrating our birthdays and she gave us birthday pins with our names (with Mickey's over the "i"s in my name)...still on hold after 10 minutes, we decided to give up and use the dreaded buses.

So we walked all the way back to MK and around the bus loop and entered the double-sized queue for the Pop bus. I couldn't tell you exactly how long we waited (20 min? 30 min? more?), but there were many buses that came and filled-up before we got on and these were the double-long buses. All the other resorts' queues seemed to be empty and we were still waiting to board. I honestly think we ended up on the last bus of the night, because they loaded 2 ECVs and 1 wheelchair on our bus because (I think) they were trying to get everyone possible on this bus.

But at least we were heading "home." And after 4 buses in 1 day, BFF was an expert at getting the ECV on and off it.

According to my iPhone, I walked 9.6 miles that day.


Nov 12 - Food and Wine

I had promised BFF that we wouldn't be doing any rope drops this trip (waking up early does not feel like a vacation for her) but we were nervous about getting to Epcot on the last day of Food & Wine after seeing yesterday's traffic. We upped our morning plans a little bit (left the hotel at 10am, I think), but didn't have any trouble getting on the first bus and we didn't encounter any traffic.

Our first stop was to be Test Track with a FP at 10:45. On the walk from the bus stop to the park entrance, I asked her if she felt up to doing (and transferring in and out of) TT, with her back injury. She decided that it wasn't worth it. So as we waited on the security line, I was able to snag 1 FP for Soarin in the afternoon, a 2nd FP for Soarin in the afternoon, and then move both of them to 7:15pm, which was exactly where it fit in our plan! It was probably all in the span of 5 minutes. I felt like the FP queen!

So with no rides to do, and since it was after 11 (and food booths were open), we headed directly to WS. The weather for the next hour or so was really strange. It was misty, it rained, it was hot and sunny. So every 10 minutes, we were putting on ponchos, taking off ponchos, putting on sunglasses, etc. Look at the sky in the next few pictures, yes these were all taken on the same day. It was crazy.

After months of pouring over the F&W menus and reading all the reviews I could find, we had a very specific plan for what we wanted to try. Our first stop was Australia for BFF to have the Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies. She absolutely loved this and, even after trying many other things throughout the day, was her favorite item of the festival (I think, certainly one of the top 3). (I will try to give our thoughts/reviews on each item we tried, though I won't remember all of her opinions)

Since this was a child-free trip, we wanted to take time to explore each country around WS. I also wanted to buy a candy in each country to bring home and do a taste test with her kids (I did, we did, it was really fun. I'll list the candies at the end.)

I think these gardens in Canada are just lovely.

Next was Ireland, where I wanted the Warm Irish Cheddar Cheese and Stout Dip with Irish Brown Bread and Guinness Baileys Shake. I had also been planning on getting the Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard, which I have had and enjoyed before, but decided that there were more interesting things coming up. The cheese dip was tasty but I agree with Josh's review-too gritty and not enough bread. The shake was delightfully refreshing and many people asked about it so it's a fun conversation starter.

We walked around UK a bit, but were still kind of hungry so made our way to the France booth.

A dramatic French skyline.

BFF got the Beer-braised Beef with Bacon, Onion and Mashed Potatoes and we got the Crème Brûlée with House-made Raspberry Jam to share. She also got a St-Germain Sparkling Kir and I had a La Passion Martini Slush. The Creme Brulee was lovely and the drinks were delicious.

BFF loves the princesses, Belle especially, so we went to meet her in her provincial outfit.

(I love Spaceship Earth behind her)

And then headed back to the pavilion proper to catch the next showing of Impressions de France. Either here or at the American Adventure show, BFF charged the ECV during the show. (this is a good tip - many of the theaters have outlets in the back, where the accessible seating areas are. these are great opportunities to charging since you're not going anywhere anyway)

It was time for more food so we went to Brazil and I got the Moqueca: Brazilian Seafood Stew, we split Pão de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread, and BFF got a Quinta do Crasto Duoro Red. Since Belgium was right next door, we also picked up Beer-braised Beef served with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes (for BFF) and a Chilled Coffee featuring Godiva Chocolate Liqueur to split (they gave me an extra cup, which was nice). Together, this all made for a nice little meal.

I enjoyed the stew, it was creamy and citrusy. I've had the cheese bread before and it's great for sharing. It's not a very strong flavor, but it's a fun texture, and a great snack. BFF felt that the red wine was oddly chilled, and I thought that it might be a Brazilian thing? The chilled coffee was divine! It was like the most amazing chocolate milk I have ever had. I would have drunk that all day if I could. Highly recommend and I hope it's back next year!

We skipped over Morocco and Japan to make the 1:50 (I think) Voices of Liberty performance and following American Adventure show. Btw, crowds had started to really pick up by this point so maneuvering around was sometimes difficult. The VoL show was lovely, and there was a fun song about all the states and you got to cheer when they said your state's name, it was cute. The one other time that I gad been here with BFF, they had taken us up in the elevator before VoL, we watched them from the 2nd floor, and then they let us into the theater. But now, they wait till after they are done singing and there was quite a line for the elevator, which only holds 1-2 ECVs at a time. So it took a while to get everyone up, and then once that was done, let us into the theater, which also took a while. Then they let in the rest of the crowd (which was quite large). I enjoy this show and the Two Brothers song always gets me, as well as the photo montage near the end. Unfortunately, the last scene (Twain and Franklin on the Statue of Liberty torch) wasn't working-the audio was on, but the figures weren't moving. So they stopped the show and we had to leave, oh well.

We went back to Morocco and Japan to do our shopping/exploring. Then Italy (where BFF got a red wine from the cart out front and discovered that all of Epcot has cold red wine) and Germany.

What's a Christmas tree collection without a pickle tree?

And China, Norway, and Mexico. (since we had spent a lot of time in Norway and Mexico during the last trip, I just ran in to those ones to get candy)

As the sun set, we stopped at the Mexico booth for a little pre-dinner. Short Rib Tostada for BFF, Coconut Rice Pudding served with Mango Coulis and Mariachi Loco Margarita for me. I adored this drink (which was the suggested paring with the tostada, which BFF confirmed would be an excellent mix) which was a little sweet and a little spicy. The rice pudding was ok, but nothing special.

WS was really filling up at this point (that Mexico booth was probably the longest F&W line I waited on all day, most were 3-4 people) but we were headed out of there anyway! We went over to the Disney Visa Meet & Greet location and got to meet Mickey and Goofy!

Then spent way too long trying to get a good selfie with SE in the background.

We headed over to the Land, even though we were about 20 minutes early for our Soarin FP. We asked nicely and they let us in early! (I have done this before and never been turned away. CMs are usually very accommodating.) Unfortunately, we got the bottom row, and a side section, so it wasn't the best ride, but is still super fun. BFF is able to drive the ECV right into the theater, leave the ECV in a designated square, and get on and off the ride with ease.

It was time for part 1 of dinner. BFF staked out a spot at the Next Eats tables as I gathered our food. Baked Shrimp Scampi Dip with Sourdough Baguette and Scallops with Roasted Corn and Butterbean Succotash and Chili-Chipotle Butter Sauce from Coastal Eats and Spice-crusted Verlasso Salmon w Lentil Power Salad, Avocado and Sherry Vinegar from Active Eats, all for sharing. We enjoyed them all, with the scallops and the salmon being real standouts.

Dinner part 2 (electric boogaloo) was at the Art of Pairing area where again I went to each studio and then we ate everything. From the Wine and Dine Studio - Seared Scallops, Truffled Celery Root Purée, Brussels Sprouts and Wild Mushrooms for sharing, Butternut Squash Ravioli x2 (1 plate for each of us), and Trio of Artisan Cheese featuring La Bottega di BelGioioso Cheeses for BFF. From the Cheese Studio -Braised Beef Stroganoff for her, Cheese Trio for me, and Maple Bourbon Boursin Cheesecake for sharing.

I have had (and adored) the scallops from previous years, but these disappointed a bit. The Coastal Eats ones were much tastier. The ravioli was rich and delicious. I loved the cheese trio (especially the macaron with pepper cheese) but we both felt the cheesecake was way too rich.

Too full to get the Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey-Caramel from the Chocolate Studio, we each got a (teeny-tiny) glass of the Croft 10 Year Tawny to cap off the night.

It was almost time for IllumiNations. I was worried about being in another long wait to get on a bus so we decided to watch them from in front of the fountain in the middle of FW. There is a little curb around the planter there, so I sat there and BFF pulled-in next to me. There were a number of others doing this as well. The view was pretty cool, with the huge Christmas tree right in the middle. We could see the fireworks, but none of the other effects, and couldn't hear the music. A few people left after the first big display (thinking it was over?) and then we left after a bunch of huge bursts, but then saw that it was still going on during our walk out, oh well. It was enough for us, and we had no wait at the bus!

If you only have 1 day for F&W, or it's a really crowded day, (or, you know, just generally) I highly recommend doing what we did and hitting WS early and then doing the FW booths in the evening. In Disney, it always helps to go opposite the crowds, and I felt like we did this perfectly.


Well, I just booked another trip (less than a month from now) so I'd better finish this report.

Here are the candies/sweets we picked up in each of the countries:

Canada: Coffee Crisp
UK: Rountrees Jelly Tots
France: Honey Nougat with Pistachios
Morocco: Turkish Delight
Japan: Mixed Fruit Gummies
Italy: cookies filled with chocolate-hazelnut cream
Germany: chocolate-covered marzipan
China: Dandy's Coconut Hard Candy (most of the candy in China was actually Japanese but this one said Hong Kong on the bag so I went with it, it turned out to be a surprising hit)
Norway: Troika bar
Mexico: Guava roll AND Coconut candy

It was fun tasting them all (it did get a little exhausting by the end). I would highly recommend this as a fun (and not too expensive) way to bring your vacation home with you. Of course, buy whichever treats look good to you! Of these, I would buy the Coconut Hard Candies and the Troika bar again.


Nov 13 - Pre-Party

We had considered going to the outlets, we had considered going to Disney Springs, but we decided on just sleeping late and (sadly) packing.

We did want a nice lunch before heading into the Christmas Party so we had chosen Kona Cafe. We took the MK bus, which was thankfully a much easier process than 2 days earlier. We figured not many people would be heading into MK in the early afternoon on a party day. Security at MK was easy this time and then we took the monorail to the Polynesian.

We'd never been in this resort before. It is really beautiful resort. Kona Cafe was right there where the monorail station lets out and we were seated quickly. We loved our tropical drinks

And the food was delicious.

BFF's Pot Stickers.

I didn't photograph my Island Tuna Poke but it was wonderful, and a lot of food.

Entrees - Togarashi-Cured Salmon for me and Asian Stir-Fry with Tofu for BFF

Our wonderful server even brought us complimentary birthday cupcakes!

I highly recommend Kona Cafe if you are looking for a tasty, easy meal near MK.

It was about 3:30 when we were ready to go, and we thought about stopping at the Grand Floridian to check out the Gingerbread House, but I was worried about having to wait for 2 monorails and getting to MK for the 4pm party entrance so we decided to skip it. Some other time...


Well-known member
Just getting caught up. Sounds like you had a couple great days! Love Kona and the Polynesian. Can't wait to hear about your party night.


Nov 13 - Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!

After monorail-ing from the Poly to MK (it sure is nice to go through security at the resort instead of the park), we went to wait at the Event tapstiles (on the right side of the entrance). There were some long lines already, but we found a short one all the way on the left side. I think we were in that line by 3:40 and at 3:46, they let us in!!! (14 minutes ahead of schedule!) We got our wrist-bands and were funneled into the special party entrance corridor (though I asked and we could have gone up Main Street if we wanted). We got our Mickey sugar cookies and took some photos.

While it had seemed at the Halloween party that we were funneled all the way to Tomorrowland, the party area actually ended by Tomorrowland Terrace and we easily went to the hub to enjoy the beautiful castle.

Our first stop was Liberty Square because there were some thing there that we wanted to do that would not be going during the party. BFF loves the Hall of Presidents though I will not see it anymore, at least not until the next revision. She made it to the 4pm showing, and I had just enough time to do some shopping in the Christmas store before the 4:15 Muppets Present. As a Jewish Atheist, I don't do a Christmas tree, but the Disney ornaments are so beautiful and creative (especially the princesses-as-shoes ones) that I bought an ornament tree and I needed to buy my first ornaments! I got the shoes for Belle, Ariel, and Mary Poppins, as well as a 2018 all-parks design silver ornament. I'm looking forward to getting more on each trip!

I left the store just as the Muppets were starting. It was the Declaration show (my favorite, of the 2) and even though I've seen it a few times now, I still choke-up when we all say "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

I had a FP for Peter Pan (I had thought that BFF couldn't ride because they would not stop the track for her to get on and off, though I saw them do just that for someone else as I was waiting, so maybe we'll try it next time) and hadn't gotten to ride it in a few trips so that was nice. Then we met up to use our SDMT FP.

My turn for my hair to fly up, lol.

The last non-party attraction we wanted to do was Carousel of Progress so we went over to Tomorrowland for that. We were really ahead of schedule at this point but the next thing on the list was down (Space Mountain). Since we were in the area, we checked out Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, which I don't think she had seen before. A cute show, as always.

When we got out, Space was back up so we headed over there. We had learned in August that BFF would always be sent through the FP queue (because standby has stairs). She does have to transfer to a wheelchair though, which I have to push (it's a bit of a workout going under the tracks). This is her absolute favorite ride but I can't stand it (!). So after helping her get into the vehicle, I just took the wheelchair to the unloading platform to wait for her.

Looks like she had fun.

Once we were out, the party was in full-swing so we decided to do a little cookie-tour. First stop was Lunching Pad which had Snickerdoodles (more like slightly-brown sugar cookies) and Hot Cocoa (standard, but not bad). Next was Auntie Gravity's which had Chocolate-Chip Cookies and Snow Cones (more like an ice-ball sitting in blue syrup, we did not finish these). Then up to Pete's Silly Sideshow for Peppermint Crunch cookies (probably the best of the party). We had just enough time to grab our Dove Chocolates and "Apple Cider" (apple juice) before finding a spot to watch the 8:15 castle-lighting.

We managed to slip into the area along the path between Tomorrowland and the Hub and had a pretty good view of the castle. I had seen this show once before but it was BFF's first time. The show itself is ok, but when the lights turn on it's totally magical.

Unless you or someone in your party really NEEDS to see Anna and Elsa up close, I would definitely recommend seeing this from the back of the hub, where you can see the full scope of the castle and the side turrets. When the castle is lit up, it is truly breath-taking.

We tried to get into the wheelchair-area in the center of the hub to watch the parade but that was already full. A CM directed us to another area in front of the Firehouse in Town Square. That was also filling-up but we happened into a "front row" spot right across from it, in front of the Barber Shop. It was a great spot, not crowded at all, and had a great view of the parade (though there was a rude guy right next to us who was livestreaming and sticking his arm/camera in front of BFF's view most of the time, ugh). Because we were at the end of the parade route, we had a bit of a wait. But there was a group of "elves" that came out and danced and played with big beach balls that helped pass the time. By the time the first floats came by, it was almost 9pm. Here are some of my favorite shots from the parade:

Not a great pic, but look at that horse!

I felt so bad for these guys. It was pretty warm, and they were in heavy sweaters, and had been skating for a half an hour already.

Cinderella's horse-drawn carriage, amazing!

I loved this float that looks like Cinderella's castle.

I couldn't believe that these toy soldiers are actually playing those horns.

After the parade, it was time to head back up Main Street to watch the castle show and then the fireworks.

We found the accessible fireworks viewing area (which was fantastic, btw) and BFF stayed there while I went to get some hot dogs from Casey's Corner. They were pretty busy and mobile ordering was not available. Since I had ordered the vegan dog, the order took quite a while. I actually missed the whole stage show. (a kind CM gave me a free sweater brownie to make up for the long wait) I re-joined BFF and we ate our hot dogs and waited for the fireworks. The vegan dog was quite good, though a little spicy for my taste. I am thrilled that Disney World has been adding more of these options though, so I'm not just left with salads and french fries. (I eat fish but no meat)

The fireworks were amazing, of course. And we had a great view.

Even though there was over an hour left to the party (and we hadn't gotten all of the treats, and there were more rides to ride), we decided that we were done. It had been a long couple of days, and we were going to have to be on the DME bus at 6:30 the next morning, and we were worried about how long the line for the bus to get back to Pop would be when everyone was leaving. We said our final goodbyes to the Happiest Place on Earth and headed out.

Last edited:


Nov 14 - Heading Home

The 6:30 DME for a 9:57 flight was painful but we made it.

Pop's tree had been put up overnight.

Of course, there is no traffic at that hour so we were at the airport with hours to kill. We got breakfast at the food court and then went through security. MCO's TSA was much more thorough with BFF's ECV than JFK's (can I get any more capital letter groups in that sentence?). The checked every inch and even made her stand up to look under her.

But eventually we were on our way to the gate and the flight was uneventful. NYC was VERY COLD when we returned. We took a cab from the airport to BFF's apartment in Manhattan and almost froze our fingers off putting the ECV back together when we got there. I hung out for a few hours and got to give 2 of her boys their souvenirs. Then I headed home.

It was a really wonderful trip. We did almost everything we wanted to do, but also was able to take it easy most of the time. This is a great time of year for a trip (good weather, F&W, Christmas) and it was so much fun getting to enjoy it with my best friend.

Sorry this TR took so long to complete. I tend to write while I'm at work, and there just haven't been enough slow days. I leave for my next trip in a week, if you can believe it! Hopefully that report won't take 2.5 months to finish.


Glad you were able to finish this report - I enjoyed reading it! And I hope you have a wonderful time on your next trip!


Well-known member
Sorry this TR took so long to complete. I tend to write while I'm at work, and there just haven't been enough slow days. I leave for my next trip in a week, if you can believe it! Hopefully that report won't take 2.5 months to finish.
At least you got your report done before your next trip, that's better than I can manage ;-)

Thanks for sharing, can't wait to hear about the next one!