Wednesday, Mar. 8, 2017 – Home Again

I left the hotel at 6:30am.  It is about an hour by the time you stop to pay tolls and you stop to gas up your rental car and get in the correct lane to return your rental car.

I had the car for 8 days and I paid $210.00.  Just like everything else, rental cars are not as cheap as they used to be either.  That was a great deal in comparison with everything else I looked at.  I checked many, many times over the weeks before the trip.  I will say that I love having a rental car.  I just enjoy the freedom of being able to wander wherever I want, to shop, to eat and the peace and quiet of the car versus riding the Disney buses.

The weather was pretty nice during my week with some wind most days and a few sprinkles.  The first couple of days were pretty warm at 85 & 86 and then 74 to 78 on the remaining days.

The value resort “All Star Sports” I chose was a fine choice for what I needed.  The room was clean, the water was hot and the TV worked.  Any noise I heard was during acceptable hours.  As expected the “food court” restaurant area was chaos.  I tried it a couple of times and then made other choices.  The food is not very good and the crowds and noise level are too much for me.

The best part of the stay was the location of my room.  Here is a map of the resort:

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On the left side you see building 2 – Hoops Hotel.  When you reserve your resort you can make a couple of vague requests.  I requested the Hoops area and ground floor so that I could be close to parking.  I very happy with my room 2133.  It was ground floor and the room closest to the parking lot.  I was able to walk between my room and my car less distance than when I go to Wal-Mart at home.  It was great!

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Hotel View from my car

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My room was the first room

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View of the parking lot from in front of my room

Over the week I noticed a few major differences from my visit two years ago.

  1.  Leggings – I have never seen so many women and girls wearing leggings in my life.  Especially the athletic sport leggings.
  2.  Cell Phone Apps – In a short two years, apps have drastically changed how you visit Disney World.  First, you have the official Disney app.  All your reservations and daily fast passes are accessible on this app as well as many other things.  It will tell you the nearest bathroom to where you are, etc, etc, etc.  Then Disney has a Park shopping app.  If you see a shirt you like in a store but they do not have your size the app will tell you where you can find it in your size.  Of course you can use it to purchase items when you get home as well.  Then there are 3rd party apps.  I used touring lines.  It tells you what the official posted wait time for all Disney rides is and the “real” wait time.
  3. Texting instead of speaking….the one good thing about texting is you no longer have to hear other people having phone conversations all day.  Of course, selfies are still hugely popular.
  4. Alcohol – I never saw anyone drunk or tipsy but I did see a lot of alcoholic drinks.  It seems like almost every drink and snack place serves some kind of alcoholic drinks now including many specialty cocktails “themed” to the area you are visiting.   When you are waiting to see a nighttime show, you used to see people having popcorn and cokes.  Now you see many, many adult beverages being consumed.  Beer, wine and cocktails range from $7 to $10 each.  I had ice cream one evening and they even had a root beer float made with “hard” root beer.

 

So my flight was at 9:40am.  It took a long time to get on board.  They had seven people in wheelchairs to load first.  Back in KC about noon.  Made a few stops along the way home.  Then home safe and sound.  Once again I am always astounded by flying.  It is so incredible that you can be in one place at 9:30am and a mere three hours later you are 1200 miles away.

I will spend the next month getting the EggCamper ready for my first road trip of 2017 in late April.

Tuesday, Mar. 7, 2017 – Best Weather of the Trip

I spent some time shopping, having a little lunch at Chick-Fil-A and just hanging out.  I went to Hollywood Studios at 4:00pm.  Most of Hollywood Studios is under construction currently so there is not as much to do there.  I rode a few rides and just enjoyed the beautiful evening.  After a week of winds it was finally still and the weather was perfect in short sleeves.  I left Hollywood Studios at 7:30 and was back in the room by 8:00pm.  I spent the rest of the evening trying to stuff everything back in my suitcases.

Here are a few photos:

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Monday, Mar. 6, 2017 – Gardens of the World

I left for EPCOT about 8:15am.  I went on the 9:00am tour “Gardens of the World”.  This tour walks the park and talks about the flowers on display and what it takes to put on the Flower & Garden Festival each year.  They do not grow any flowers from seed.  They order their plants from vendors as much as a year in advance.  She showed us how they make the many topiaries they display.  It was interesting but not the best tour I have ever taken.  The cost for this tour was $77.  The tour lasted until 12:15pm.  At the end we rec’d a special pin that only tour participants receive.  Here are some photos taken while on the tour.

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After the tour I had fish and chips from the fish shop in the United Kingdom land.  The fish is so good there.  I have it every trip.  I left EPCOT about 2:30 for a break.  I left “the world” to have some dinner at Sweet Tomatoes.  The food was very good.    I went back to EPCOT at 8:00pm to continue my visit and enjoy the 9:00pm “Illuminations” show.  The weather was nice all day and it was a lovely evening as well.

Here are a few photos from my evening:

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I left EPCOT at 10:00pm and was back in the room at 10:30pm.

 

 

Sunday, Mar. 5, 2017 – Tonga Toast & Rivers of Light

Magic Kingdom opened at 9:00am today.  I had a breakfast reservation at Be Our Guest inside Magic Kingdom for 8:00am.  That is called a PPO (prior park opening) reservation.  They are hard to come by as it is a few minutes that the park has just a few people in it and it gives people a head start in Fantasyland in getting on rides.  I had a cupcake for breakfast. The cupcake was $4.99.  All the breakfast entrees are $24.00 each.

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Feast A La Gaston

Scrambled Eggs, Herb-Roasted Potatoes, Apple Smoked Bacon, and Sausage served with Fresh Fruit and a selection of pastries.
$24.00

Assorted Cured Meats and Cheese

Alpine-smoked Ham, Serrano Ham, Sopressata, and Cheese with Marmalade, Fresh Fruit, Toasted Baguette, and a selection of pastries.
$24.00

Open-Faced Bacon and Egg Sandwich*

Poached Eggs, Applewood Bacon, Brie Cheese, and Arugula on a Croissant served with Fresh Fruit and a selection of pastries. *This item may contain raw or undercooked ingredients. Consuming raw or undercooked meats, seafood, shellfish or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.
$24.00

Croque Madame*

Open-faced Ham Sandwich topped with a Fried Egg, Gruyere Cheese, and Béchamel served with Fresh Fruit and a selection of pastries. *This item may contain raw or undercooked ingredients. Consuming raw or undercooked meats, seafood, shellfish or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.
$24.00

Scrambled Egg Whites

Scrambled Egg Whites with Roasted Tomatoes, Chicken Apple Sausage, Fresh Fruit, and a selection of pastries.
$24.00

Vegetable Quiche

Mushroom, Zucchini, Bell Pepper, Onion and Chive Quiche served with Fresh Fruit and a selection of pastries
$24.00

Croissant Doughnut

Fried Doughnut topped with Banana-Caramel Sauce, Pastry Crème, and Chocolate Ganache served with fresh Fruit and a selection of pastries
$24.00
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Here is a picture of the front of the castle with just a few people.  Normally there are hundreds if not thousands in front of it.

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In the last few months they have changed the opening procedure for the park.  They used to hold everyone at the park entry and then 5 minutes before opening the Disney Railroad would pull up and a Welcome show was performed and then everyone was allowed to enter through the turnstiles.  This obviously caused quite a bottleneck and a lot of impatient people waiting to enter.

The new way allows people to enter the park into Main Street one hour prior to park opening.  You cannot actually enter any of the “lands” where the rides and attractions are until park opening.  You can however spend as much money as you want in the gift shops and restaurants that are open on Main Street.

At 8:55am the new welcome show was performed at the castle and then the park is open.

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So I left Magic Kingdom about 10:00am to take a boat to the Polynesian Resort.  The Disney fanatics on the forums rave about “Tonga Toast”.  You can only get it at the Polynesian.

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Thick-cut Sourdough Bread is stuffed with ripe bananas before it’s deep fried and rolled in Cinnamon Sugar.

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It is very large.  It is at least 3 inches tall.  It is basically a whole banana inside two very thick pieces of bread.  I was not able to eat it all.  It was okay but I probably would not order it again.

I made my way back to my car and then left “the world” to drive up and down International Drive and do a little shopping.  I came back to the room about 3:00pm to rest and nap a little.

I left for Animal Kingdom at 5:45pm.  I watched the new “Rivers of Light” show at 7:15pm.

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Rivers of Light is a nighttime show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the Walt Disney World Resort. Rivers of Light is located in the park’s Discovery River lagoon between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest. The show features water fountains, mist screens, floating lanterns, fire effects, lasers, lights, fog, projection mapping and live performers and incorporates the park’s Tree of Life into the show.


The show has been under construction since 2014 and was supposed to begin April 22 last year.  It has been delayed again and again since that date.  It finally began two weeks ago.  It is very pretty and kind of peaceful but it only last 15 minutes.

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Back at the room by 8:30pm.

fyi – The View (TV Show) is being taped at Animal Kingdom starting tomorrow and will be aired all week.

 

Saturday, Mar. 4, 2017 -Pretty Toes, Shopping and Fantasmic

I left the hotel about noon today, had a little lunch and a pedicure.  I then spent a couple of hours at Disney Springs (used to be called Downtown Disney).  When I was here two years ago there was a lot of construction going on there.  Wow….what a change in two years.  It feels very “planned community” now and very upscale.  There are now 90 stores, 57 places to purchase snacks or eat full meals, movie theatres, bowling alley, etc, etc.

I had a little snack – Poutine (French fries with gravy and cheese curds).  I guess it is popular in Canada.  I had read about them and wanted to try them.  They were okay but once was enough.

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Here are some photos of a few of the millions of souvenir items available for purchase.

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The handbag/tote above is a leather Dooney & Burke with disney characters all over it.  Priced at $318.00.

The one below is another leather Dooney priced at $308.00.

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The tote above is a Vera Bradley and bargain priced at $115.00.

I went over to Hollywood Studios and watched the 7:00pm show of Fantasmic. There was quite a breeze to make it a little chilly.   It is 30 minutes long then I followed the crowd to watch

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Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular

The Night Makes the Jump to Hyperspace

State-of-the-art projection effects, dynamic lighting, lasers and pyrotechnics light up the night like never before! The music, magic and characters of Star Wars combine with special effects and fireworks to put you inside iconic scenes from the Star Wars saga.

You’ll be thrust into the middle of the action as you gaze upon Tatooine’s famous twin suns, fight through an army of Trade Federation battle droids, navigate a swirling asteroid field, rocket down the Death Star’s narrow trench and deliver a heroic final blow to Starkiller Base.

Gather your favorite Jedi, Jawas, Wookiees, droids and Ewoks for an experience you can only get at Walt Disney World Resort. The sounds of John Williams’ majestic Star Wars themes fill the air as the sights of twinkling lights fill the sky.

While a dazzling array of colors burst above you, imagine the awe-inspiring sights of exploding starships during a legendary Star Wars space battle—what better way to celebrate Star Wars than watching a show written on the stars!


It was not my favorite.  You stand in front of a building with a bunch of trees and misc in front.  Then there is a projection show about Star Wars on the building along with lasers, sound and some fireworks.  I guess it was about 10 minutes or so.

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Back in the room by 8:30pm.