Category Archives: Travel

January 8th, 2017 – Part Three

Eventually, Snow White came out and it was our turn to meet her. We handed her our Record Store Day Disney vinyl to sign (well, just the case, we were smart enough to leave the actual record home). We still haven’t actually done anything with that yet, it’s just sitting beside our record player..,

This was also a really amazing Snow – she looked the part, and her voice/giggle was spot on – I was very impressed by this casting!

This might be one of my favourite character meet and greet pictures ever haha – I didn’t get the memo on how to pose for this one…

After our meet and greet with Snow White, we continued on our way around the World Showcase. Next up was Italy, so we looked around a bit in the shops. Nothing was jumping out at us to purchase, so we journeyed over to the American Adventure. The show was only a few minutes away from starting, and it was something we had never watched before, so we decided to go watch.

The inside of that building is gorgeous! The American Adventure Rotunda is actually a reception venue option for a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding, but it’s only for the Wishes collection (we had an Escape wedding), and the minimum guest count is high (I believe it’s a minimum of 80 people – which means big $$$) – so obviously it was not an option for our wedding. I’ve seen gorgeous wedding photos from there though!

Anyways, back to the American Adventure audio-animatronics show… it’s a great place to have a nap? It’s definitely showing its age, and since I’m not American I guess I just don’t care that much about the country’s history (plus almost everything mentioned during that show was taught to us in school). Basically – it’s not something I feel the need to do every trip. I’m glad we did it once, but I almost fell asleep a few times…

Once the show was over, we rushed back over to the Italy Pavilion – it was time for a meal I was really looking forward to after hearing lots of great reviews – Via Napoli! It was….disappointing. The food was fine, but the service left A LOT to be desired. You can read all about it here.

After our pizza and terrible service, we slowly started making our way back to the Mexico side of the World Showcase. We stopped in Norway to see the giant troll –

It wasn’t long before it was time for our second dining reservation of the night – because everyone needs second supper, right? This time we checked in to La Hacienda de San Angel – Luke made this reservation because he wanted to drink margaritas while watching Illuminations from a different angle  – this proved to be a great choice, since it was so cold out that night!

We had to wait a little bit past our reservation time, but we were led to a two-top table shortly before Illuminations began. You can read about our experience here.

Once we settled up our check and left the restaurant, Epcot was officially closed – however there were extra magic hours that evening for guests staying on property. We decided to take advantage of that, and went to meet Baymax.

I was actually wearing my Baymax dress that day, so this meet and greet was a must!

We then crossed over and got into line to meet Joy and Sadness!

After meeting these characters, we decided to head our of the park for the night, but Spaceship Earth was a walk-on as we went past, so of course we had to get on that again!

We headed out to the bus stop (and even remembered to head to the Saratoga Springs stop, since we were checking in to that hotel for the remainder of our stay), and then stood and waited. And waited. And waited. There were quite a few of us at the bus stop, and it was cold out – and it took forever! Finally, 35 minutes later a bus showed up…

By the time we reached the main lobby of Saratoga Springs, we were exhausted – but of course we still had to go check in, get our room number and new Magicbands, and pick up our luggage from bell services. We got in line in the lobby, and figured it wouldn’t be too long of a wait since there was only one family in front of us. Again, we waited. And waited. And then waited some more… the family in front of us took forever! The kids were running around the lobby loudly, the dad kept asking questions – but eventually it was our turn and we were able to check in and get our room. After a quick stop at bell services, we collected our luggage which had been transferred over from Old Key West, and they drove us to our building.

I was going to take pictures of our room, but I was way too tired (and it was pushing midnight by this point), so I just went to bed instead.

 

 

January 8th, 2017 – Part Two

I still wanted to check out Journey into Imagination with Figment since it was another ride we had never checked out. We just entered the standby line, and it wasn’t bad at all – under half an hour.

This ride is super cute, I’m glad we waited in the line to do it, but I’m not obsessed like it seems some people are.

After we had used our Soarin’ Fastpass earlier, we had jumped on the app and managed to grab another FP for Test Track – that’s right, three tier one rides in one day!

This time around, we made this beauty:

I really can’t bring myself to make a serious car on this ride haha!

We decided to go spend some time in the World Showcase – we never devote enough time to that area of the park! We had to make a stop in the China Pavilion, a drink had caught Luke’s eye – the Tipsy Ducks in Love: Bourbon whiskey, coffee, black tea, cream and chocolate syrup, $8.95.

We ordered Luke’s drink, then stepped off to the side to wait for it to be made, as we’re supposed to. There were two women in front of us, but obviously I hadn’t been paying attention when they ordered. One of them picked up her drink and started walking away, then the other one grabbed the next drink the cast members set down. The two women gave each other funny smiles and started giggling as they walked away. I found this all to be odd, and I thought the second drink looked like Tipsy Ducks in Love. I told Luke I thought that his drink might have just been stolen out from under him, but he didn’t want to believe that, and trust in the honesty of people. I took a step backwards to get a little closer to the two women (who had just moved over a few steps to take selfies with their drinks), and I was able to overhear them talking – the first one was questioning what the second one was drinking, since “I didn’t think you ordered anything”. The second woman giggled, said “I didn’t!” and they both laughed. Meanwhile, Luke was still standing by the counter waiting for his drink, but everyone who had been behind him in line was getting their’s first. At this point, he finally realized that his drink had been stolen by the women in front of us,  so he spoke up and told the cast members. They didn’t seem to believe him at first, but he hadn’t left his spot from in front of the counter and he was still holding his receipt, and when they looked over at the two women I pointed out, they could see one of them holding a Tipsy Ducks in Love drink. So, eventually, Luke did finally get his own drink! I just couldn’t believe it though, I’ve never seen anything like that before! What a terrible human being, I hope that drink made her sick.

Anyways, once Luke finally had it, he loved it. I didn’t even try it, I hate coffee, but he raved about how good that thing was.

We stopped for a few pictures in the China Pavilion (although I’m sure Luke only did that so he could get more pictures of his Tipsy Ducks in Love…)

That giant brown paper bag I’m holding? No clue as to what was inside haha. It must have been pretty big to not fit into the backpack Luke was wearing… this is the problem with waiting over a year to actually write up these trip reports haha.

After China, our next stop was Germany. Luke had one thing on his mind – Schofferhofer Grapefruit Beer.

I’m not a beer person at all, but I really enjoyed this! It’s so light, only 2.5% alcohol, so it barely even tastes like beer. We’ve since been able to find it here in Edmonton, so it makes an appearance in our fridge from time to time 🙂

I had more important things on my mind though – I HAD to go to Karamell-Kuche! Just stepping inside that place is amazing, the smell of warm caramel and chocolate, mmmm.

I bought a large bag of the caramel popcorn, and a chocolate covered caramel (which I didn’t end up eating until we were back home – and it was still really good!).

This popcorn. Oh man. I don’t even know where to start. This is now my favourite snack in Disney World, and it’s up there as one of my favourite snacks anywhere – I loved this. The popcorn is not at all soggy (as sometimes happens with caramel popcorn), and it is coated with a nice, generous layer of Werther’s Caramel.

Honestly, we both loved this so much we added it as part of our wedding day dessert party, and all of our friends and family seemed to love it just as much as we did.

Since we were in Germany, we decided to meet Snow White. She wasn’t out at that exact moment, but we checked and she would be coming out fairly soon, so we joined the growing line of people for her meet and greet. It was nice to just stand still for a few minutes, I was enjoying my popcorn and Luke, his beer.

 

January 8th, 2017 – Part Three

 

Disneyland Tips & Hacks

  • 1. The line for Pirates of the Caribbean splits into 2 directions at one point. When that happens – go right. Going left the line extends into a corner so you’ll wait longer.
  • 2. The doors in the haunted mansion open to let you onto the ride are underneath the stretchy photo of the barrel guy. You can see a red light on the wall.
  • 3. There’s a little known washroom up by the Enchanted Tiki Room. And the line for Dole Whips is much shorter up by the Tiki Room as well.
  • 4. Toward the end of the night, Disney will inflate the wait times for the more popular rides. We once entered the queue for Radiator Springs Racers 15 minutes before the park closed. The posted wait time was 120 minutes. We were on in less than 20. They keep the posted time high so cast members don’t have to deal with 2 actual hours worth of people at the end of the night.
  • 5. If it gets super busy & you need a drink – there’s a tiki themed bar at the Disneyland Hotel called Trader Sams (kid friendly too) where the bar itself kind of comes to life when certain drinks are ordered. Good food too.
  • 6. World of Colour > Disneyland Fireworks. Plus it happens every night in California Adventure. Not just on weekends.
  • 7. There’s a coffee shop in the Disneyland Hotel where you can get a Dole Whip with rum in it.
  • 8. In the Star Wars Launch Bay – there’s a seemingly empty Mos Eisley Cantina. If you see cast members hanging around- ask if they’ve seen Boba Fett. It may trigger a secret meet & greet.
  • 9. In Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – there’s a secret 100,000 point target just underneath the Z on Emperor Zurg’s chest.
  • 10. Plaza Inn fried chicken is very good. And you don’t need a reservation to get in.
  • 11. There’s a Starbucks in each park where you can get pretty neat Disneyland/California Adventure specific You Are Here mugs. They usually have a line specifically for merch so you can avoid the super long coffee lines.
  • 12. The parks are least busy the first 2 hours of the day. If you can get there around then you’ll walk right onto rides for the first hour or so. They get most busy around 2 but there’s a second wave of busyness between 3:30-5 as SoCal locals get off work & just swing by the park to hang out for a few hours.
  • 13. Wear your best shoes. The parks are earthquake-proof so the ground is super reinforced concrete. When you add that + 20,000 steps your feet will be sore AF.
  • 14. Kids tend to have sensory overload sugar infused dehydration meltdowns between 2-4 pm. Bring your own bottles of water or get a free cup of water from anywhere that has a soft drink fountain.

Disney’s Magical Express (and Navigating MCO)

If flying into Orlando International Airport (MCO) and staying in a Disney-owned hotel, you can use their complimentary bus service, known as Disney’s Magical Express (DME). This is a fleet of motorcoaches which travel to every Disney hotel on property (the first year, our DME to All Star Music shared a bus with All Star Movies and Sports as well as Coronado Springs. The second year, our DME to Old Key West was sharing with those staying at Saratoga Springs and Port Orleans).

After you have made your room reservation and booked your flights, you must sign up for DME. The confirmation email you received from your Disney-owned hotel will have information on how to do this.

You will receive a letter in the mail, along with bright yellow luggage tags before you leave (if you have not received these about 30 days prior to your trip, you can give the 1-800 number for DME a call).

Simply attach the yellow tags to your checked baggage before you leave, and check-in at the airport like normal. Once your baggage arrives in Orlando, the airport employees will see the yellow tags, and sort it off to one side. From there, it gets transported from the airport to Disney property, where it is sorted by Hotel and then delivered directly to your room. Expect this to take 3-4 hours from the time you arrive at the hotel – but you do not need to be present in your room for your luggage to be delivered.

If you do not receive the yellow tags in time – no worries! You can just pick up your own luggage once you arrive at MCO (just like any other flight you’ve ever taken).

After arriving at MCO, you will be in one of the four terminals. From there, you will need to catch their monorail to the main building – it’s impossible to miss it.

Then just follow the signs for Disney’s Magical Express – located on Side B on the first floor.

The signs saying “Ground Transportation” will have a little bus with a Mickey head, as seen below.

Other signs will say “Disney’s Magical Express”.

Once you reach the check-in desk for the Magical Express, they will ask to scan your Magicband. Disney only mails these bands to US addresses, so I just say I am Canadian, and they will ask for the letter you received in the mail. Even if you don’t have that letter with you, they can search for your reservation by name in the system. They will then direct you into the proper line, and you will be greeted by another cast member once you reach the front of the line. From there, you will be directed onto the proper bus to get to your hotel.

Sit back, relax and enjoy the welcome video you will see! You are officially on vacation!

Park Bag Essentials!

You can get away with carrying nothing on you for a park day at WDW, since your Magicband acts as your hotel room key, your park tickets (combined with your fingerprint), and you can add a credit card/password to it so you just need to scan it and enter your pin to make a purchase. However, we are not those people.

We always carry a bag with us into the park – and we typically take turns carrying it since we only ever take one bag for the two of us. Lately, we’ve been using our Disney Vans backpacks that I found super cheap at Winners:

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But you can use any bag you’re comfortable carrying around!

Now – what could we possibly need a giant bag for? What do we keep in it? That all depends on the time of year we’re at Disney, what we have planned for the day, etc.

This list is not inclusive, and you don’t have to carry all of it (or any of it – just make your list based on your own personal needs)

  • Sweater/jacket – it cools off once the sun sets
  • Raincoat/poncho – Florida weather is unpredictable! We like having those small ponchos from the Dollarstore which we just throw away once we’ve used them.
  • Sunglasses/glasses and case – I’m blind, and need to switch back and forth between the two during the day
  • Passports – Disney has a rule where you can not purchase alcohol without a passport (unless you are an American citizen, then any government-issued ID will work). If my jacket has a zipper pocket, I like to keep the passport there for protection.
  • FuelRod – these are portable chargers that will work on basically any phone (they come with a few different adapters). The great thing about this brand is that they have vending machine-type things in every Disney park that let you swap out your charger for a new, fully-charged one as many times as you’d like (Luke and I only own one between us – my phone will be low so I’ll use the FuelRod, get my phone back up to almost a full charge, then we’ll swap it out for a new charger for Luke to use. On the day we got engaged, our phones were going crazy from all the text messages and Facebook notifications, so we ended up swapping out our FuelRod at least 5 times in one day).
  • Brita water bottle – we like this one since it has a built-in filter. Florida water is gross.
  • Sharpies – for character signatures
  • Pen/notepad – I like to keep notes of what we do during the day
  • Snacks – granola bars, fruit snacks, etc – you are allowed to bring food into the parks with you, some people bring sandwiches to save money (I like Disney food way too much to do that haha)
  • Gum – Disney does not sell gum on property – but you are allowed to have it/chew it
  • Camera/phone – If I have pockets in my pants/sweater I just hold onto these things myself, but it’s nice to have a place to put them while on rides.
  • Ziplock bags – Come in handy for water rides to stick our phones/electronics into
  • Tylenol – the parks are loud and can be quite crowded, which leads to headaches.

This seems like a long list, but most things are very light or don’t take up much space in our backpack.  I like to be prepared for anything!

January 28, 2017 – Part Two

As we were walking through Downtown Disney, we realized we were feeling a bit hungry, so we decided to go see if we could get in to the Rainforest Cafe.

After we left Rainforest, we still didn’t feel like going back to the parks just yet. Instead, we headed into the Grand Californian Hotel, and found some comfy chairs in a hallway to sit in. We were right by some large windows, so there was lots of natural light streaming in, and people were coming and going, but somehow Luke fell asleep and napped for about an hour while sitting up haha. I spent the time people-watching and checking in on social media (since the parks did not have Wi-fi at the time, but the Grand did).

Once Luke woke up, we decided it was time to go back to the park, so we entered DCA through the Grand – so convenient! I understand why people love staying there!

We walked around a for a bit, before it was time for our World of Colour dining package at Wine Country Trattoria. If you like negative reviews, you can check it out here...

After our not-so-great meal, I wasn’t feeling great (it was a pretty early morning that day, and unlike Luke, I hadn’t taken a nap). It was also a bit cold, so we decided to go to the Animation Academy building in Hollywood Land. We just sat on a bench in there watching the video on the screens surrounding the room for awhile. We could see the line to meet Anna and Elsa, and as it got shorter we decided to jump into line and meet them. I do like that you can get both of them in a picture together in California, but I thought the pair we met in Florida were a little  better (more in character, and more wiling to joke around with us).

We had never gone into the Sorcerer’s Workshop (located in the same building), so we headed there. It was kind of neat, but I find it weird how it just comes to a dead end, and then you need to back-track in order to get out.

We headed out of the Animation Building, and went to buy some matching Star Wars shirts I had seen earlier in the day (I finally convinced Luke to wear matching shirts with me, I was very excited haha). We made our purchase (and saved 15% with my annual pass!),  then continued looking around in the shops. After a few minutes, Luke realized that his FitBit was missing, and couldn’t remember the last time he saw it 🙁 We retraced our steps, and went back to ask the cast members in the stores we were just in, but no sign of it anywhere. We even walked out to Lost and Found to file an official report, but we have never heard back – it is lost forever (or someone found it, picked it up and got themselves a barely used FitBit Flex…). It ended up working out in the end – my company introduced an initiative where they subsidized the cost of purchasing a FitBit – so I was able to upgrade to a Charge for under $60, and I gave Luke my FitBit flex which was only a month old.

Once we re-entered the park we still had some time before we needed to head over to watch World of Colour, so we headed into A Bug’s Life Land and went to watch it’s Tough to Be A Bug – and no, I still didn’t sit back in the seat for the poke in the back part haha. Of course we had to go on Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train afterwards to help him search for candy corn – it’s the simplest most little kid ride in the entire park, but we find a way to go on it every single trip.

We headed over to the Preferred Viewing area for WOC, but made a stop at the Little Mermaid ride when we saw that it was practically a walk-on 🙂

We had an amazing spot to watch World of Colour thanks to the dining package. The show itself was as fantastic as always, It’s a show I never take pictures of, I just put my phone/camera away and enjoy it to it’s fullest. Of course I did snap a few pics of the Mickey wheel before the show started though 🙂

After WOC was over, we headed out of the park, caught an Uber back to our hotel and called it a night.

Budget Friendly Disney Eats!

Look, we know Disney is expensive. Just because we’ve made all those dining reservations does not mean you need to join us for them – but you’re still going to want to eat haha. We decided to put together a list of some great options we’ve tried (or trust the opinions of people who have tried) that might be little easier on the wallet…

Magic Kingdom

  • This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Peco’s Bills! It’s possibly my favourite quick service restaurant at Disney (that fixin’s bar doesn’t hurt my opinion of that). It’s a Tex-Mex style menu, and you can easily get an entree and a soft drink for under $20 (we recommend the fajita platter at $14.99 or the beef nachos, $12.49), and then you load it up with all the shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole and sour cream your heart desires – you end up with a large portion!  
  • Columbia Harbour House – we have never ate here, but it always has great reviews. The most expensive entree on the menu is $15, and you can actually get healthier options (like grilled salmon, salad, etc)
  • Another place we’ve never ate at, but is talked about a lot in the Disney forums is Casey’s Corner, located on the corner of Main Street. This place is all about the foot long hot dogs – topped with chili&cheese or mac&cheese – each $10.99 (includes fries) – or . I’ve also heard a lot of great things about the corn dog nuggets ($8.49 with fries).
  • I’m giving an honourable mention to Be Our Guest (lunch only). This is one of the only quick serve locations on property to accept advance dining reservations, as it is one of the most in-demand places to eat. We actually do have a reservation made for 20 people on January 9th for lunch, and you’ll be pleased to know the most expensive entree is $17 (the braised pork – which I highly recommend!). Soft drinks are self-serve, so you can get free refills throughout your meal as well.

Epcot

  • Sunshine Seasons is the top of my list for this park based on the size of the menu. There are options for everyone – soup, salad, sandwiches, chinese food, vegan – and everything is under $15!
  • We’ve never ate there, but Tangierine Cafe in the Morocco Pavilion is always raved about. The servings are generous, and cost is under $20.
  • If you’re feeling like fish and chips ($10.99), head to Yorkshire County Fish Shop in the UK Pavilion.
  • It’s very easy to make a meal out of snacking around Epcot. Boulangerie Patisserie les Halles has very cheap French pastries, if you like coconut you’ll love the School Bread ($3.49) from Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in the Norway Pavilion, the curry chicken pocket ($4.50) from Joy of Tea in the China Pavilion seems to be well reviewed as well. Turkey legs (~$10) are found in the American Adventure Pavilion, as well as funnel cakes ($7.99).

Hollywood Studios

  • This is the park most lacking in food options, but you can still find things to fill your belly 🙂 The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge has a small menu that is surprisingly affordable. The actual restaurant is pricer, but you can get a smaller version of their famous Cobb salad in the lounge for $10, or wagyu-beef sliders for $17.
  • Backlot Express is considered the best quick service location at the Studios. The menu is fairly straight forward, with a few items having a Star Wars theme (like the Dark Side chicken and waffles, $10.99)

Animal Kingdom

  • Satu’li Canteen is a brand new restaurant that opened with Avatar Land in May of 2017. They offer a healthy “bowl” served with your choice of beef or fish for $12.99, or chicken or tofu for $11.49.
  • If you’re looking for a giant plate of fries, head to Flame Tree BBQ. We shared an order of their pulled pork and cheese fries ($6.49) on our last trip, and it was more than enough for us as a mid-afternoon snack.  
  • There is a Rainforest Cafe located near the entrance to the park. The appetizer menu is shareable and affordable – we shared a $20 appy platter on our last trip to California at the Rainforest Cafe located there and it was a generous portion of food.

Disney Springs

  • Our #1 recommendation here will always be Earl of Sandwich. Luke loves it – I’m not even much of a sandwich person and I’ve always enjoyed my meals here as well. They are very simple pressed sandwiches with straight forward ingredients, and cost under $7.50 each. Even if you make your meal a combo (add a drink and small bag of chips), your total will be only be a little over $10. You can’t eat on Disney property much cheaper than that! 
  • We haven’t tried it, but Blaze Pizza always seems to be loved! Who can complain about $10 pizzas?
  • D-Luxe Burger is also highly reviewed, burgers are $10-$13 with a side of fries costing about $5.
  • Morimoto Street Food is a grab and go location serving Asian-inspired snacks (Bao buns are $8-10 for 2, sushi rolls $8, etc)
  • If you’re craving something sweeter, Ghiradelli serves great ice cream sundaes, although they are a little pricy ($10 and up).

Disney Resorts

  • A lot of people seem to forget about all the options available at the hotels. A personal favourite is Saana at Animal Kingdom Lodge. This can an expensive option depending on what you order, but I highly recommend the bread service ($15). It is more than enough food for one person to make a meal out of!
  • The food options at the All Star Resorts are plentiful and affordable. I had a turkey dinner at All Star Music back in 2016 for under $11 – and it was actually really tasty! [IMG]
  • Beaches and Cream at Beach Club Resort is technically a table service restaurant and you will need an advance reservation, but the prices are very affordable! We have actually made reservations for the group on Friday, January 12th 🙂 It is an old, 50’s diner feeling, and serves up very basic fare – patty melts, burgers, sandwiches, etc. My personal favourite was the grilled cheese and tomato soup ($12.99) – honestly one of the best I’ve ever had. Also save room for dessert – giant ice cream sundaes large enough to share between 2-3 people ($7.99 for No Way Jose, the one we shared)

Honourable Mentions

  • I need to give a shout-out to Disney chicken nuggets. These can be found at select quick service locations in every park, as well as a few resort food courts. They are not your standard McDonald’s style nuggets, they are real chunks of chicken and are quite tasty! ($9.49)

January 8th, 2017 – Part One

When we woke up, the first thing we noticed was how cool it was. The temperature had dropped overnight, and we woke up to it being only +2 degrees Celsius. We weren’t going to let that stop us though, it just meant we needed to bring our jackets with us for the day.

We were up fairly early this morning, since we had asked bell services to stop by our room around 8am. We were saying goodbye to Old Key West, and would be checking in to Saratoga Springs for the remainder of the trip. Bell services was on time, and we handed over all of our luggage, just taking our park bag with us. We headed out to the bus stop, and the internal shuttle pulled up almost immediately so we jumped on that and rode it to Hospitality House. We checked out, then went to sit and wait for the bus to Epcot…and we sat and waited, and then waited some more. The estimated arrival time on the screen kept changing, and after about a 40 minute wait it finally showed up. That’s the longest we’ve ever waited for a bus, but we knew it was due to all the road closures on property to accommodate the full marathon happening that morning.

Luke’s only request for scheduling our park days was that we go to Epcot on the morning of the full marathon. His plan was to sign up for his first ever full in 2018, and he had found watching some of the race in 2016 very inspiring.

We arrived at Epcot, and it was fairly busy despite the cold temperature. Eventually, we were through the security line and entering the park. We stopped to cheer on some of the marathon runners while checking current wait times in the park. We noticed a low wait time for Soarin’, so we decided to go for a trip around the world 🙂

It was great as always 🙂 Once we exited, we realized we were kind of hungry, so we grabbed a table by Sunshine Seasons and split the Mickey Mousse we had purchased the day before from Amorette’s Patisserie.  

Once we finished our treat (who doesn’t love cake for breakfast?!), we were well within our window for our first Fastpass. You definitely do not need a FP for the Seas with Nemo and Friends, but I think it’s a cute ride and worth going on at least once each trip (and this was our second day at Epcot, plus you need to choose something from tier 2).

We then went and watched/cheered on some of the marathoners! I think this is such an awesome thing, it’s really quite amazing to see all the training and hard work these people have put in, and to see them so close to the end of their run. Seriously, if you are ever around Epcot on a marathon day, make sure you take some time to watch the race and clap for the accomplishment these people are about to achieve.

From there, we made our way over to Test Track for our next Fastpass!

We scanned our Magicbands and entered the Fastpass line, and 12 minutes later (according to the time stamps on my phone), we were designing this beauty…

I named her Alberta, after the province we live in – where people seem to love their jacked-up trucks hahahaha.

The ride was great as always (but not as great as Radiator Springs at Disneyland…)

We decided to start walking towards World Showcase, and entered on the Mexico Pavilion side. Since we had never done it before, we went inside the pyramid and saw there was no line up for the Grand Fiesta Tour! Off we went on a journey through Mexico with Donald Duck 🙂

We did not go any farther into World Showcase at this point, and instead starting making our way over to Canada for our lunch ADR. Of course, we had to stop to watch more marathoners! And I had to take a picture of the wonderful signs these ladies had made haha!

After seeing some people run by with absolutely fantastic costumes, we finally entered the Canada Pavilion – gosh it’s pretty!

We checked in, and had lunch at Le Cellier (review here).

Since we were already in the Canada Pavilion, we had to stop and ask for some of the Canada 150 Buttons they had created in celebration of Canada’s 150th Birthday this year. The cast member (who was from Regina, Saskatchewan according to her nametag) even wrote our hometowns on our pins for us (and dotted all the i’s with Mickey Heads!), and then covered the writing with a piece of tape to protect it.

While we were eating, we had decided to drop our Figment Fastpass, and were able to pick one up for Soarin’.

Soarin’ is such a great ride! I can’t believe we had never been on it prior to this trip (although it was closed for refurbishment on our only WDW trip before this one, and it was closed on 1 of our Disneyland trips as well).

Next: Epcot, Part Two

Fastpass+ at WDW

First of all, what is Fastpass+ (FP+)? It is a service offered by Disney complimentary with your park tickets which allows you to select up to 3 attractions per day to experience with a shorter line. At all of the applicable rides, you will see the regular, or “standby” line as well as a Fastpass line. The standby line might be a wait of over 2 hours, but with a FP+ you should be on the ride within 10-20 minutes (usually faster, sometimes it might take a little longer).

At the 60 day window before your trip, you can select up to 3 Fastpasses in advance. Your 3 choices must all be at the same theme park, but once you have used those up on the day of, you can search for any available FP+ that may be remaining for any park (to be used that day). I believe our max was 6 or 7 Fastpasses in one day… so it can be done!

If you are staying off site, your window to book these does not open until the 30 day window. By this point, some of the most popular rides will already have zero availability for FP+ – this is just one of the many perks of staying on site at WDW.

You will be given an hour long window to use your FP+ – there is a very small time frame of wiggle room on each side of this hour (from everything I’ve head or read, it’s about 5 minutes early or 15 minutes late – which essentially gives you an hour and 20 minutes).

When you go to use your FP+ for a ride, you must scan your Magicband (see, these things are important!).  The light will turn green, and a cast member will wave you through to the Fastpass line. Typically there will be a second scan point as well, to deter any line jumpers, so keep your Magicband out and ready!

Not every ride or show offers FP+ selection. Also, not every ride/show that offers it actually requires it. Each park is different as well, as you will see below. If you click on the name of the park, it will take you to my blog post describing a little more detail about each ride.

Magic Kingdom (choose any 3):

  • it’s a small world – Fastpass is not really required, line is typically not too long to wait in.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Dumbo – Fastpass not required, just go a little later in the day
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Mad Tea Party – Fastpass not required, line is never too long
  • Meet Ariel at her Grotto – character meet
  • Meet Cinderella and a Visiting Princess – Princess Fairytale Hall
  • Meet Mickey Mouse – Town Square Theater – talking Mickey!
  • Meet Rapunzel and a Visiting Princess – Princess Fairytale Hall
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic – Fastpass not required, you can almost always get in to the next show (so you might wait 10 min)
  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor – Fastpass not required, the theater is large and you’ll just have to wait for the next show
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – highly recommend getting a Fastpass for this one. It’s one of the newest rides in this park (about 4-5 years old now, but lines are always over an hour)
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • The Barnstormer – Fastpass not required
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – Fastpass not required
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – Fastpass not required
  • Tomorrowland Speedway – Ugh, no. Don’t waste a fastpass on this. Don’t even waste the time spent in line for this.
  • Under the Sea: Journey of The Little Mermaid – Fastpass not required

The three fastpasses you choose for Magic Kingdom will depend on the people in your group.

Epcot

Epcot Group A (choose 1):

  • Frozen Ever After 
  • IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth 
  • Soarin’ 
  • Test Track 

This is a tough call. The easiest one to eliminate as your choice is Illumintions, as the show can be viewed from anywhere around the World Showcase. Are you traveling with younger girls who love Anna and Elsa? Then you might want to pick Frozen as the lines are always long. Soarin’ is one of my favourite rides, but the line does tend to be shorter than Test Track (which is also an excellent ride) – neither one of those are bad choices to be honest.

Epcot Group B (choose 2):

  • Character Spot
  • Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
  • Journey Into Imagination
  • Living with the Land
  • Mission: SPACE
  • Spaceship Earth
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

Most of these are unnecessary to use a Fastpass on – Turtle Talk, The Seas, Living with the Land, and the Short Film Festival almost always have minimal wait times (if any). I’m a wimp and can only handle the green side of Mission:Space, so the line for that is rarely long (although if you’re a thrill seeker who likes G-Force rides you’ll want to grab a Fastpass and go to the orange side). The character spot can see long lines, since it’s one of the only places to see Classic Mickey and Minnie. Even the Fastpass line for that moves slowly. Journey into Imagination is mainly for kids, so if you are a group of adults it’s not necessary to use a Fastpass on. Spaceship Earth never has a crazy line, but it’s something you HAVE to ride while at Epcot, so we usually grab a FP for it.

Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Group A (choose 1):

  • Toy Story Mania!
  • Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
  • Fantasmic!
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

This group should only have 2 options – Toy Story or Rock ‘n’ Roller. Fantasmic is easy to grab as a 4th Fastpass later in the day, and Beauty and the Beast isn’t difficult to get into since the theater is large. Again, what ages are the people in your group? Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is the only coaster at WDW with an inversion, and it does have a height restriction, whereas Toy Story is for everyone. Both rides tend to have long standby lines most of the day as well.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Group B (choose 2):

  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Disney Junior – Live on Stage!
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
  • Star Tours
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terrror

This one is always easy for us – Star Tours and Tower of Terror. You can almost always walk into the Muppet ride, and the other four options are shows with roomy theaters.

Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Group A (choose 1):

  • AVATAR Flight of Passage
  • Na’vi River Journey

I have not been on either of these, since Avatar land opened after I was last at WDW, but from everything I’ve heard Flight of Passage is one of the best rides Disney Imagineering has ever created, and should be your #1 choice for a Fastpass.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Group B (choose 2):

  • DINOSAUR
  • Expedition Everest
  • Finding Nemo – The Musical
  • Flights of Wonder
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug
  • Kali River Rapids – tends to be closed for refurb in January
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
  • Primeval Whirl
  • Rivers of Light

I always get a Fastpass for Everest – my fav ride in all of WDW! I also usually wait in the standby line multiple times (later at night, it’s almost a walk-on). The Safari is always worth a FP+ as well. Dinosaur is ok. FP+ is not required for Nemo or Flights of Wonder.

January 7, 2017

Since the half marathon was cancelled, neither one of us had to wake up with an alarm on this day – which is one of my favourite things in the world 🙂

I believe we slept until about 10am, and woke up feeling refreshed. I actually might have slept even later…

We took our time getting ready, and ate some of the snacks we had in the room for breakfast. We had no plans until supper, and we had planned on this being our day away from the parks, so we decided to head to Disney Springs for awhile. I packed only the essentials in my purse for the day – wallet, camera, fuel rod, bottle of water and lots of snacks haha –

As soon as we arrived in Disney Springs, we realized we hadn’t actually ate any real food all day and we were hungry, so we went to make Luke happy with a stop at Earl of Sandwich.

After eating, we went to Amorette’s to check it out. They had so many delicious-looking things there, I wanted to sample one of everything!

There was also a really cute Christmas tree still up in the store, so of course I had to take a picture of it…

And of course, we did buy a few things…

We took our time, walking around the Disney Springs area. I really like how it looks 🙂

I found the Harley store, so I took this picture and sent it to my mom. Her and my step-dad own Harley’s, so she was excited about it.

After doing a bit of shopping (my mom had a birthday a few weeks after this trip), we decided we were cold and finished with Disney Springs. This day and the next were not the Florida weather we were expecting!

*Yes, I took this earlier in the day, and yes those are in Celsius*

We headed over to the bus stops, and found the one heading to the Polynesian. We didn’t wait long before we were off. This was the first time for both of us visiting this resort – wow! I really loved the feel of this place, it’s definitely on our short list for bucket list Disney hotels.

It was around 3:30-3:40pm by this point, and Trader Sam’s was due to open at 4pm. We decided to go and get our name on the wait list since it was somewhere we both really wanted to check out.

After enjoying some libations at Trader Sam’s, we headed upstairs to check in for our supper reservation – at ‘Ohana!

After our supper, we had planned on sticking around, and possibly heading down to the beach to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks. I, however, had ate way too much and wasn’t feeling the greatest (and the same for Luke), so we decided to call it a night and called an Uber to take us back to Old Key West.

This was by far the most relaxed day of our trip, and I didn’t take many pictures at all. Sometimes, in the middle of a vacation, I just need a quiet day 🙂