Sheri was feeling a little guilty about going on the cruise without the boys (trip report HERE), so she twisted my arm to look into a quick weekend trip to the Walt Disney World Resort during Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival.
It didn’t take much twisting.
About two weeks after we returned from the trip, we had lodging, flights, and tickets (for the boys…we had annual passes muahahaha) for a late October trip. We decided that, since we had quite a few points saved up with RCI through our timeshare, we’d stay off-site. We decided on Vacation Village at Parkway, where 192 (Irlo Bronson) crosses I-4.
Yeah...it was pretty close...
We decided to try surprising the boys with this trip. On the morning that we were going to leave, Sheri made special Mickey-shaped pancakes for breakfast, and we put their Magic Bands on the plate before serving it to them. We figured it would take a second for it to sink in, and then they’d run around the house screaming in excitement.
Aaron looked at the plate, saw the magic band, and nonchalantly asked what time our flight was.
We cleaned everything up, packed the car, and were on the way to the airport about 45 minutes later. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I absolutely LOVE having a regional airport only ten minutes away from home. We pulled in, parked, and were through security in no time flat. While we were waiting, we saw our school's band/choir directors filing in for the same flight; they were checking out some things for their 2017 spring break trip for the high school.
The flight to Orlando Sanford was uneventful, which is always a good thing. Unlike MCO, we had our luggage and had the keys to the rental car within about 10 minutes of landing. Also unlike MCO, we had a long drive down 417 to get to Disney World (ehh…you take the good with the bad, right?).
At exactly 2:15, the Mushfam crossed underneath the Welcome sign, and we were home!
Our first stop? Animal Kingdom!
Yeah, yeah...I know...you're all wondering what's up with that. It had been quite a while since we had been to that park. Aside from a short visit during the 2014 WDW marathon (yes, the actual marathon…we ran through the park!), it had been 5 or so years since we had been in this park. This is a park to sit back and take in. I would love to have the opportunity someday to just sit on a bench with lead Imagineer Joe Rhode and talk about the subtleties of Animal Kingdom. It's on my bucket list.
That being said, I had a pretty tight schedule, with timing being of the essence. OUTTA OUR WAY…WE NEED TO GET ON DINOSAUR NOW!!!
Okay, okay…maybe it wasn’t THAT dramatic. We did stop at Discovery Island for a minute to grab the requisite Photopass Pics. Our Photopass due was AWESOME!!! We both could instantly tell that we had the personality to ham it up. After a couple of jokes, we handed him our camera and asked if he could get a picture with that.
Man, I love the cast members!
Pics done, we made our way in Dinloand and over to Dinosaur for a quick journey back in time to around 64 million years earlier (give or take a million years). We exited and made a beeline for Finding Nemo. Miraculously, we made it into the theater with about 4 minutes to spare, and we were even able to sit together. This one has always had a sentimental value to me, as I saw it for the first time on our first family trip with our son, and it did not disappoint. Excellent job all around by the cast and crew of the show. Oh, and mad props need to go to Crush on that show. Go With the Flow is my favorite song from this show, and Crush absolutely annihilated that high note on the second refrain.
No time to delve into nostalgialand, however; we had FastPasses at Safaris that were burning a hole in our pocket. We flew past Everest (“Not yet, boys…it’s later in the plan!!”) and got in the Fastpass+ return line to bypass the lin….waaaaaaiiiiitttt a minute here. The Fastpass line was all the way back to the queue entrance. Hmmmm.
I did something that I have rarely done in my life at this point.
I didn’t worry at all about it. #HakunaMatata. So the touring plan wasn’t going to work out exactly as I had planned. This unanticipated wait meant that we’d have to choose between seeing the Festival of the Lion King or riding Expedition Everest. We were on vacation…so what if we missed an attraction or two.
For those who don’t know me, this is a major departure from how I typically am. I am the ultimate perfectionist, and, worse, I am my own worst enemy. Being an economist, I’m also constantly examining the alternatives in case the main plan doesn’t go as hoped. I could tell that I was starting to stress a bit and started running scenarios in my head, but I stopped and looked around. Sheri was happy. The boys were all smiles (which is saying something for an 11 and 13 year old). All was good. I took to heart what Crush has sung to me not 40 minutes earlier: “just go with flow (ooohhh ooohhh oohhh WHOOOOOAH ooohhhh ooohhh WHOOooah oohhh ohhhh)”.
Eventually, the Fastpass line starting moving along, and, within about 15 minutes or so, we merged in with the standby guests to board our safari vehicle. I’ll just let the pics speak for me…they’re more interesting, anyway.
...and me getting a picture of Sheri taking the above picture:
Moose friends...no comments!
We had a minor traffic jam thanks to the guys below...they refused to let the vehicle pass.
After we got done with Safari, we made an executive decision to forego Festival of the Lion King in favor of a jaunt on Expedition Everest. We were all getting a little hungry and still had quite a bit of time before our dining reservation at Raglan Road. We found the closest snack cart and grabbed all sorts of ice cream treats; yes, I had a Mickey bar. No, I didn't get a picture of it - I was too hungry.
Our return window for our FastPasses was just about up, but the wait was only 5 minutes, so they shut down the return line. It had been a while since we had ridden that one, so it had a new(ish) feel to it. I’ll admit that I missed what I affectionately call the “Chicken of death” (the vulture that’s supposed to swing out over the front of the train when you’re suspended and about to start backwards). A lot of people don't even realize it's missing. Speaking of that, Sheri and I were lucky to have seen the yeti in its glory before it went into B-mode (aka “Dance mode yeti”). Granted, the current incarnation is still an imposing sight, but nothing will ever beat its original mode where it would lunge at the train as it went underneath. For those who don’t know, the weight and momentum of the largest animatronic that Disney made created such force when it lunged, over time, that it nearly compromised the integrity of the entire attraction. While the Disney faithful hold out hope that the yeti will again make its lunge, the attraction remains a very popular one without the need for the expensive refurbishments required in order to get it safely running. In other words, it’s a freaking awesome ride the way it currently is!
With Everest being done (we all loved it!), we decided to take our time and slowly head out of the park. I'll repeat that Animal Kingdom is a place to savor...there are so many stories all throughout the park. Let's do a little test here and see who reads this. Below is a simple streetlight near the tram queues outside of Animal Kingdom. You may notice something a bit interesting about the center animal.
The first person to comment below to this blog post with the story behind what that creature is and why it's in there will get eternal glory on the interweb as a Disney expert....okay, okay...I'll call you out and give you credit in the next blog post.
We had later reservations at the newly rebranded Disney Springs, though we were going to try out a restaurant that has been there for a while already (we were going to have to hit Jock Lindsey’s, Morimoto Asia, or the Boathouse on a later trip). Tonight, we were dining at….
We had plenty of time to spare, so we looked around the Springs for a while. We made our way into World of Disney for a bit. Knowing that the Mushrush surname has roots to England/Ireland/Scotland, I also took a little time to go through the index of names that Raglan Road had; however, no luck…not even for alternate spellings of Mushrush (like Moscherosch and other spellings).
Pics around Disney Springs:
I cannot wait to do a "research meal" at this place!!!
Our pager went off, and we made our way into the restaurant. I handed earplugs to the boys because I heard reviews about it being remarkably loud in there. It was definitely loud, but I like loud, especially when there is live music.
When in Rom….errrr…..when in Dublin…
When I see lamb on a menu, there’s a good chance that it’s what I’m ordering; today was no exception. Lambo was the order for me! There were also some fish and chips, the King Cod (second picture below) as well as “It’s Not Bleedin’ Chowder!”
While we ate, I watched the performers play and dance…I’ve always loved Irish Folk Dancing and also always wonder just how many calories they burn a night when they’re performing.
We contemplated dessert, but we were all starting to get a little tired from the long day. We settled the bill, left Raglan Road, and made the trek to the car. Waze took us to Vacation Village in about 10 minutes, and we were checked in within a couple of minutes. While others unpacked, I stopped at the Publix about two blocks away and grabbed some groceries for our weekend.
We wouldn’t need too many tomorrow, though…we were going to Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival!
View the beginning of Day 2 HERE.