Thursday, February 9, 2023

DisneyWorld 2023: final part

Our trip continued (part 3)….

Day 6: Epcot again!

Adam and I woke up at 6:55 AM again to do the guardians virtual queue again. He had the world clock on his phone and once it struck 6:59:59 I clicked join and got group 35! An improvement from last time, but I’m just happy to get a boarding group at all. 

We slept in this morning due to our late magic kingdom night, being there until after 10:30 PM. I got up at 8 (I could never sleep in very late any of these mornings) and the girls woke up around 8:15/8:30. 

We were running low on cereal so the girls had one last bowl for breakfast and for myself, I ran down to the kitchen and got a Mickey shaped waffle kids meal. Brought back to the room and gave Thea the yogurt and apple slices it came with. Adam had one last microwaveable egg bites pack and I got him a side of sausage. 

We got ready for another hot day and already made plans to likely come back and swim to cool off. We got down to the bus stop and it was busy this morning. It was around 9:30 so the parks had all been open for an hour give or take, so not sure why so busy. There’s no “line” for the bus, everyone just kind of stands around or sits on benches. There were some boomers that showed up 10 minutes after us and once the bus came they shoved their way to the front. Some of them tried to climb in the back when the bus lowered for the electric scooter. I thought they were family of the scooter person but they weren’t. I couldn’t believe the lack of manners and etiquette a lot of these people have. We ended up having to stand on this bus ride while some of the rude people that came after us got to sit. Ugh annoying but let’s shake that off.

Got to Epcot and it was a very short line for both security and main gate. It was also already pretty hot. It just reaffirmed this was going to be a pool break day. 

We wanted to ride the couple rides we didn’t get to do the other Epcot day. We got an appointment for soarin’. Then saw Minnie, so Adam and Thea decided to line up to meet her. It was at least 20 minutes long, but we had the time. In the meantime Mira and I walked over to joffreys to get a snack since she was hungry. She ended up getting one of those sprinkle donuts as big as her face. Not my idea of a “snack when you’re hungry” but it’s Disney… I told her she had to split with sissy, and she did. Once Adam and Thea were done they walked over to Mira and I and I noticed our boarding group was already called for guardians. We decided to do soarin’ first. I think it was Thea’s first time since she was too short both at Disneyland and on our last WDW trip. She loved it! I love watching her reactions during the ride. 

Then it was time for guardians. I ended up going first so Adam could take Thea on the Nemo ride she had asked about. He also got some early lunch for her and himself. Guardians is just as amazing the second time! Wow! Just love everything about that ride. It has the starry sky I love about space mountain, but a much better, faster, and smoother coaster, that spins 360. Not to mention with awesome music and floating VR things in the sky. 

When it was Adam’s turn I was so hungry I went over to one of the festival booths with mussels. I’d never had mussels before and I saw that they were a fan favorite in the Disney foodies group. I got the mussels and there happened to be a playground right next to it so I got to eat while Thea played. After that I washed my hands and met up with Adam and Mira. I had a 2:00 space 220 reservation but it was only for 2 people, it’s probably one of the top hardest restaurants in all of property to get a reservation for. I walked over to the hostess posted up outside to see if she could squeeze in 4 instead of 2. I was assuming she would say yes. Unfortunately seemed like a real stickler and said no there’s no room, my only option is to keep looking for a 4 person to open up. I had already been trying that for days, well weeks even….. I told Mira this might not be happening and she just cried. She was really looking forward to that. I shouldn’t have been so confident and honestly never got her hopes up. Dang. 

Mira was hungry so we walked over to Starbucks to get a bagel. Of course they didn’t have bagels there so she just got a sugary drink. If you’re keeping tabs she’s now had a frosted donut and a sugary strawberry Starbucks smoothie. I ended up deciding to cancel space 220 altogether and would keep looking for one to open up, but told the fam to not bank on anything. Mira was sooo disappointed. Well, this is a good lesson in sometimes life has disappointments. But we are at Disney and have plenty of other fun things to do!

We decided this was a good time to go back to the resort to do pool time.

This was a beautiful hot day again. The water felt even colder than the day before though. The pools are supposed to be heated to 82° but ours wasn’t working. First world problems I know. I only stuck my legs in this time while Adam got in with the girls. I really enjoy just vibing in the beach lounger soaking up the sun. Adam and I tried different drinks this day from the pool bar. I had some sort of frozen/blended drink that was like a melon pina colada and Adam had a lager. I also brought some grapes and oranges, something for the girls to snack on. Today they had a tie dye tshirt craft so after the girls swam for an hour it was time for them to get to do the craft.

The shirts turned out great! What a cute souvenir. The cast members bagged them up and gave us the instructions then we headed back to our room. On our way out of the pool area, we stumbled upon Goofy, Pluto, and Donald! I had heard a rumor that they occasionally come to this resort but it’s very random and we were so lucky to catch them!

We all got back to the room, changed and re-packed our waters and necessities in the stroller caddy to head back to the park. I also quickly made them peanut butter sandwiches because we knew we’d be going around the world again and the food is geared toward adults. We got to the bus stop and the next Epcot bus was already arriving so we didn’t have to wait at all. 

This time we knew we were focusing on going around the world and wanted to start in Mexico. Mira had been asking to do the paint by numbers wall that she did the last trip so our mission was to get that in before they closed the booth at 5. It was like 4:50 and we were practically running to this area. We finally made it and both her and Thea got to paint. Whew! Would be a shame if we missed this since she had been daydreaming about it since last trip. We were also lucky we knocked out our rides in the morning and just did around the world in the afternoon/evening because apparently a couple of the more popular rides went down for a long time. The girls were already kind of being a handful at this point. I will say Epcot is the park where kids lose their shit the most. Lots of crying was heard from other kids as the night went on. It’s almost as if parents start to enjoy themselves by relaxing a little with delicious food and drinks, kids can’t handle it ๐Ÿ˜†. We stopped at the festival booth in Mexico and Adam and I had some awesome bites. Then went to the pyramid again to get another avocado margarita and an old fashioned for Adam, and went on the three amigos ride. Never done that one before! I really liked it. 

It had been almost two hours since the girls had their sandwiches, so I walked my margarita across the walkway and we got some chips and guac and got the girls a chicken strip basket to share. We sat at a table by the water while the sun was starting to set. A margarita, chips and guac, by the water and the sun setting, in “Mexico” = perfection. 

After Mexico, we just kept walking around the world, stopping for either food or a drink in as many countries as we could. We walked right past Norway and china this time. We spent a good amount in both on our other Epcot day. We went past the outpost area and Mira had to get her paint cookie again. Thea didn’t like hers last time so Adam entertained her in the cool music/drumming area where she got to play different types of percussion. Then we looked at some art booths. Of course Mira asked if we could buy some and take it home. Not this time ๐Ÿ˜†

Walked past Germany and now it was dark. In Italy I got a delicious Italian limoncello margarita and got Thea a fancy chocolate pudding dessert. Adam actually took her to the bathroom while I was in line. Mira and I posted up by a fountain in Italy and I drank my margarita and enjoyed the scenery. Just vibing. After my strong (but delicious) Mexican margarita I was on my way to buzzed already. Mira had fallen asleep resting in the stroller so I pushed it over to meet up with Adam and Thea to give her her chocolate pudding. Adam happened to stop in an American festival booth to get a couple dishes. He got me the hummingbird cake I secretly wanted. Great minds! And delicious cake! I don’t think there a a single thing from the booths that we didn’t love. There was a stage here with different artists singing broadway songs, so we sat and watched that while we drank and ate. It’s hard to walk and drink with a stroller so we did like that there was lots of entertainment to stop and enjoy. 

After standing around here a bit, Mira woke up and must’ve had enough rest. We then made our way over to Japan and had to go in the shops again. It does have really fun stuff. At this point Thea had to go to the bathroom again? So back to America I went to take her to the bathroom there. We stopped at the kidcot station, got her passport and then traded some pins. There was a cast member here that talked to her for a good 10 minutes. This isn’t the first time a cast member would take to our girls and just have conversation with them. I think they really like this attention. 

Walked through Morocco to enjoy the architecture here. It was so quiet and beautiful, I love it. Then found the Encanto festival booth and I got a passion fruit daiquiri and Adam got the spiciest soup he’s ever eaten. Then we got to France and decided we weren’t going to stay for the fireworks in an attempt to avoid the crowds that’ll be all inevitably trying to push their way out once they’re done. We looked around at the festival booths here but decided we were too full for anything. It was now around 8 and I booked Test Track for 8:30 because Mira and Thea (mostly Mira) wanted to ride it one last time.  We walked over to the UK and surprise there was another band playing. It was a British 60’s/70’s tribute band. Hellllo! I made my way over (they were tucked away in the gardens), ditching my family because they were slow, and it was very casual seating. The fam caught up and the girls were dancing around and I was vibing. Okay I say that a lot but I was really feeling the vibes this whole trip! After listening to a few songs we wanted to make our way over to test track. 

Thea fell asleep so Adam went with Mira and I came to terms that I probably wouldn’t have time to ride it now, doing rider swap, if we were trying to leave before the night show. This ride took them forever so I just sat with Thea in the stroller and people watched. I was too full to eat anything else and we had walked a lot this day so it was nice to just sit. 

The fireworks starting going off promptly at 9 and Adam and Mira were still on the ride. The ride takes a while because you design your own car and then there’s interactive stuff to do after the ride is done. I stood and watched the show for a good 10 minutes. Once adam and Mira got off around 9:10, we decided to book it out of there. Mira was super glad to do one of her favorite rides one last time! We technically still closed the park down because it closes at 9. 

Walked to the bus stop and got back to our resort. Carried Thea to bed and Mira went straight to bed, I think both in their clothes.

Day 7: Hollywood Studios (our last park day ๐Ÿ™)

This was the last morning we needed breakfast and all the cereal was now gone, so instead of ordering a whole other Instacart order for a box of cereal, I went to the food court and brought back a spinach vegan egg scramble with a side of breakfast potatoes, Mickey waffles and sausages, and a cinnamon roll. I was thinking we could all kind of share it all, which Adam and I did, but Mira just wanted the cinnamon roll and Thea wanted her own too, so Adam went back down to get another one lol. My bad. But this resort is small and everything is so close, hopping down to the food court just takes a minute. I also made the girls peanut butter sandwiches again and packed them up with some mandarin orange cups, in case they got hungry while we were busy running around or didn’t like anything. They are so picky (Mira especially) that I needed them to eat something of substance. This whole eating junk food all day didn’t sit well with me. 

Since Hollywood studios has a lot to do and we just had one day here, we wanted to close the park down and not take a break. Well, today was another hot one. We got there at 9:45 and it was already 80°. The crowds were also heavy this day. I think by default that makes this my least favorite park day. We still enjoyed it, but crowds can really make or break your day. 

When we got through the gate I made sure to book the slinky dog coaster right away since I knew it was going to have the longest wait. I think it had an 80 minute wait or something so we decided to walk around and enjoy the scenery on Hollywood boulevard (I LOVE the 1950’s Hollywood vibe it has going). Went into a gift shop and got my ornament souvenir I need to get every time. 

We decided to make our way over to the Disney jr. area and met fancy Nancy, vampirina, doc mcstuffins, and Pluto. The first 3 were definitely more for Thea, but Mira enjoyed meeting doc mcstuffins and Pluto too. We also saw chip and dale walk by. Since it was hot and there was little shade, I actually suggested to the girls they pick out a frozen treat when we were done. They didn’t even need to ask! They both got frozen pink lemonades. I stole a bit of Thea’s and it really hit the spot on a hot day like this.

We then made our way over to toy story land. This is where all the people were filtering to. It was crowded here. We all went on our slinky dog ride and it now became tied for first for Thea’s fave ride, along side 7 dwarves mine train. She begged to go on again. Okay we will have to try to do this one more time before we leave. While I was in line for this I actually booked Toy Story mania right across the path. So when we got off of that we were able to hop over to TSM. That’s a fun ride! I was into it. The girls were hungry and so we stopped in a shaded area so they could eat their pb sandwiches and oranges. That’s after putting on hand sanitizer of course. I remained a stickler about that and it paid off because neither of them got sick. Adam did catch a mild cold though.

After this I booked Mickey and Minnie’s runaway railway. This was new since we were here last. We went and met Sully from monsters inc. since it had a 10 minute wait time posted, then I went to grab some food. I had mobile ordered a buffalo chicken grilled cheese with a faro salad as a side and it was delicious. The food at Hollywood studios was lacking last time we went but had some better options this time.

Then we rode Mickey and Minnie’s runaway railway. That was a cute ride. After that the girls split a Mickey pretzel and we went over to do Star Tours. Mira loved that ride when we did it last time, loved it again, and now Thea got to enjoy it. It’s a good segue into the two more advanced Star Wars rides. Thea also built her own lightsaber after this. This made us decide it was time for galaxy’s edge. I had also booked rise of the resistance shortly before this anyway. 

We made our way over to Star Wars land and Mira got one of those cool batuu themed Coke bottles. We went on millennium falcon and both Mira and Thea got to be the pilots, so that was cool for them! Adam and I were gunners. 

Then we wandered around galaxy’s edge a bit, seeing chewy and Rey and storm troopers walk around and work the crowd. Adam got some food from docking bay 7, and then it was time for rise. Thea was tall enough for rise this time, unlike at Disneyland. So we made the decision to bring her with, despite knowing she could be scared at parts.

So she was scared at parts…. She did not like it. Poor thing thought Kylo ren was coming to get her. 

I think Adam would’ve liked to stay in galaxy’s edge a bit longer and shop around in the cool gift shops but I saw that there was only one more showing of the Indiana Jones show that day (4:30) and I missed it last time we were at Disney. It’s just nostalgic for me as I remember going to it as a kid. I really wanted to knock out some things we missed last time. So the fam begrudgingly went back over to the other side of the park to catch the show. I did say we could go back to galaxy’s edge at night. 

They all ended up really liking the show! I’m so glad! It brought back so many memories for me too. After the show I booked slinky dog again. So back to Toy Story land it was. I mobile ordered a grilled cheese kids meal from the Toy Story restaurant so the girls could eat something of substance. Then we did slinky while the sun was setting. After walking away from slinky Adam and I stopped at Joffrey’s to get coffees and Mira another frosted donut. I got this cookie butter iced coffee that had sprinkles and animal crackers on top. Super fun looking, but it was pure sugar and no cookie butter flavor was detected. I could only choke down half of it before I worried about getting T2 diabetes and threw it away. 

Now it was getting dark. Mira decided she wanted to build a light saber now too. She chose yellow. Of course now the girls had to go battle with their new sabers in galaxy’s edge in the dark. Thea was getting a little cranky at this point. Cranky as in she didn’t want to play with Mira. We went through the market in batuu and Adam went into the shop to look at all the cool gear. I snapped some photos of mostly Mira with her saber because Thea was not in the mood. Galaxy’s edge also gets more crowded at night. Understandably so with how cool it looks.

Mira had been begging to go on tower of terror for a while so I booked a ride for 8:15. We headed on over to that side of the park (which we actually hadn’t been to yet). Adam and Mira did tower of terror because despite her being tall enough, I know Thea would NOT like it. It’s a very droppy ride and it has scary elements to it. Just not a good mix for her. I also really wanted to make the Fantasmic night show this time because we also didn’t make it to that our last trip and it’s nostalgic for me! So we were trying to squeeze in our last couple rides in order to make it to the second Fantasmic show in time (9:30 - the first one was at 8 and it filled up but 7:45). I skipped ToT for myself and booked an appointment for Rock’n Rollercoaster. Mira was too short to ride this last trip, so she was excited to try it this time. It’s the only coaster that has a 46” height requirement because it goes upside down several times. 

Mira and Adam rode first and they LOVED it. Then I rode it with her next and we had so much fun. They are apparently re-theming this next year from Aerosmith to a different rock band but I don’t know who. It’s a super fun ride though! 

After Aerosmith it was around 9:10 so we walked across the path to get in line for Fantasmic and the line was huge. I told the fam don’t let it intimidate you, this is a large stadium so once they open the doors we will all be filtered in quickly. Adam and the girls didn’t really know what Fantasmic was so they kept asking several times if we could skip this and do Slinky or Aerosmith again. Nope, I am forcing them to go.

Turns out they all loved the show. Thea got scared during the middle when all the villains come out, poor thing. But it was a really good show and I’m so glad we pushed through!! I love taking the girls to things that I got to experience as a kid. 

Again, leaving was like a bunch of cattle but organized cattle at least. We got to our bus stop and were the second ones in line so I’m sure a bus had just left. We talked with a woman and her daughter in line for a while and then finally 10-15 minutes later got on the bus and back to the resort.

I had to remind the girls this was our last park day but we still had a character breakfast in the morning. So the party only sort of stops, more of an easing off. I didn’t really mean to plan it that way but it worked out nicely to let them down easy. 

We stopped at the food court because we were all slightly hungry. We were busy riding rides all evening, that the girls having their grilled cheese at Toy Story over 4 hours ago was the last thing anyone really ate. Adam was about to get a yogurt parfait with chia seeds and I bullied him into splitting the shrimp and grits with me. Tables have turned! Usually I’m the healthy one. I just needed those shrimp and grits one more time. I can have a yogurt parfait anytime! I made the girls peanut butter sandwiches again. Thea already had the pizza twice and Mira didn’t like anything else. Having a picky kid is kind of annoying. After eating, we put the girls to bed and said we will just pack in the morning. Adam and I lied awake in the dark on our phones for a bit since I don’t like going to bed so soon after I eat. 

Day 8: departure day. A bummer day

I set my alarm for 8:15 just in case we happened to accidentally sleep in. I still got up at 8 and started to pack. We were running out of space with our new souvenir additions and had to play a bit of Tetris and pass things around to each other based on what kind of room each suitcase had. 

We got packed up pretty quickly though. We had a character breakfast at another resort for 10:30 so we just had to make sure we would be on time for that. We grabbed all of our bags and left the room at 9:45. We said bye to the room and maybe see you next time. 

We went to bell services to ask them to hold our bags while we went to breakfast, which works out nice. There’s no charge for this or anything. In fact, there’s not a lot of up charge at Disney at all. Yes, they’ve added some things in now to where you have to pay to skip lines and what not, but overall prices are pretty inclusive. It has really ruined us for things like Renaissance fair, where every little thing you want to do costs $5-10. It’s so nice to just pay at the door and all your entertainment is included, and you only worry about buying food. It was especially nice to never once get hustled for a tip at counter service spots like you would back home. They actually aren’t allowed to take tips here at quick service restaurants or coffee shops. If you don’t have a dedicated waiter, you don’t tip. I like the simplicity. 

I booked an Uber car seat so we had a straight shot to the resort (taking the boat or bus would’ve had two stops). It was less than 10 minutes away. While we were waiting for the Uber we had characters show up at the resort again! It was goofy, Pluto, and Donald again. The girls were so excited! They got to meet them again and have more personalized interactions. After they met the characters the Uber arrived and we got in. Super weird having no luggage or backpacks, just our Fanny packs, felt like we were missing something.

Got to the riviera resort and it was pretty. I did a mobile check in since the restaurant is on the 10th floor. While we waited for our table we moseyed around the resort and checked out the grounds. The girls ran around this open grassy area and I went to check out the white sand beach. It was another bright sunny hot day! Once it was 10:30 we thought we better make our way to the restaurant to see if our table is actually ready since the app hadn’t notified me. We rode the elevator up and talked to the host team. After about 5 minutes they texted me saying our table was ready. 

I had done research about this restaurant and it had a lottt of hype. It seems like a fancy place but it’s also a bit chaotic because of how busy it is. I already knew what I wanted to order, and Adam figured it out pretty quickly. The girls each got a fruit and yogurt plate and the waiter was kind enough to make their side two waffle sticks, when those weren’t actually options for sides. I ordered the quiche and potatoes with a sour cream chantilly waffle as my side. Adam got the lox bagel with the same waffle as his side. Our waffles were topped with an apple slice and raspberries and had a citrus maple syrup. They also gave us an unlimited bread basket with assorted spreads. This was all super good. They had flaky croissants and assorted muffins, then with butter, hazelnut spread, and a strawberry rhubarb spread. While we enjoyed the bread, the characters came around to greet the girls. First it was Minnie, then Mickey, then Donald, then daisy. All in all it was a good breakfast! Lots of food and got to enjoy the characters.  I was fulllll. On the way out Adam got an espresso at their little coffee shop and I got roped into talking with a DVC salesman while Thea pin traded. I’m not sure I’m the DVC target market as we only get to Disney world once every few years.  

After this we still had a few hours to kill before we needed to board our flight so we took the bus to Disney springs again. Adam wanted to go back to Uniqlo and I wanted to stop at the famous Gideons cookies. We walked around and looked in some stores, then got in line for Gideons. This is such a cult place I was excited to see what it was all about. We waited in line for 10 minutes outside just to get into the bakery, which ended up being very cool and dark inside. It was a bit like Harry Potter or something. Like ollivanders meets haunted mansion. Adam wondered if it was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe based on some of the elements inside. We got a cookies and cream cookie (Mira’s choice) and a pistachio toffee chocolate chip cookie, and I got a peanut butter cold brew. I was still full from breakfast but we each took a few bites of the cookies and cream cookie. Mira loved it and I thought it was just okay. The cold brew is what surprised me. It was scary good. 

By now it was 1:30 and we still had to catch the boat back to our resort, get our bags, and get an Uber to the airport to make our 4:45 flight. So we said goodbye to Disney springs and went on the boat back to French quarter. We didn’t have to wait at all for the boat, it was boarding as soon as we lined up. By now everything was going very smoothly, keeping us on track time wise. 

We enjoyed the beautiful ride to the resort, and then got our bags from bell services. I immediately booked an Uber just in case another one didn’t come around. The only car seat one available was the Uber XL and it was $55. Ouch. Regular Ubers were only like $25. Oh well. Turned out this Uber was only 2 minutes away so that was fast. I probably could’ve waited a little if I had realized that. Again, things were just going too smoothly ๐Ÿ˜† making us ahead of schedule which I’m not used to. Uber came, we packed up, got Thea buckled and were off. 

We got to the airport at around 2:30. Thea had fallen asleep in the car so we swiftly placed her in her stroller. So glad we brought it! We didn’t need to do bag check since we had all carry-ons and just needed to get to TSA pre check. We were through security in 5 minutes and we got to our gate at around 2:45-2:50. Again, way early because of how smooth things were going. Just one of those days where everything went in our favor and caused us to be too early ๐Ÿ˜† Found a spot to sit and put our bags and then took turns using the bathroom and Adam and Mira got Starbucks. Thea wanted to sit by the window and watch the planes so just had to keep an eye on her. She was enjoying herself for the next hour doing that. 

When the plane started boarding at around 3:30, we took the opportunity to board when they called for people with strollers and infants. Found our seats, sat, and as we were taxiing I got really hungry and almost nauseous. So I started eating some of the pistachio choc chip cookie from Gideons as we took off ๐Ÿ˜† it was very delicious! I sat next to Thea this time and she’s such a joy. Both girls behaved so well on their flights they barely made a peep. They really like watching the plane movies and doing some coloring. Had a smooth flight home and arrived at 7:20 PM.

We were out of the airport pretty quickly but once leaving the parking lot we learned we made a costly mistake. We parked in the short term lot instead of the long term, which meant our parking bill was nearly $300 for the week. Double ouch. The cherry on that was we weren’t even parked in a covered lot. We were in the overflow on the roof and got snowed on ๐Ÿ™„. Welcome back I guess. 

Oh and Thea was also bawling, both because she was cold and also didn’t want to be back home. The utter disappointment and lack of welcome from Minnesota ๐Ÿ™ƒ. Everyone was also probably hangry so we stopped at chick fil a. 

We’re back. We’re doing okay. I’m just happy that it stays light out past 5 PM now and the sun has been out every single day. It’s quite beautiful actually. It has felt like a pseudo spring, being in the upper 30’s and 40’s temp wise every day but our first day. I know we still have a lot of winter left but this at least helps us ease back into reality and not go into a post-Disney winter depression. At least Adam and I will be going somewhere warm again for spring break. Ha! Sorry kids! 

2023 has started out great and we are so grateful for this fantastic trip. We got to do every thing we wanted, while also having some leisure time to stop and smell the roses (actually though - Thea picked a LOT of flowers this trip, that she wasn’t supposed to pick, oops). I can truly say it turned out even better than I envisioned it ❤️

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