Going to Disney World as a travel agent is equal parts fun and research. Especially when going down specifically during the Earmarked Conference. On our little trip here, we have myself and fellow VIP Vacations agent, Jennifer Fegan.
I thought I’d share some of our experiences down in Disney last week. Obviously, I just wrote recently about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and our experiences with the Magic Bands, so I wanted to just report some of the regular and unique experiences that are guaranteed on every Disney trip!
When we checked into the Polynesian, we were super excited to learn that our room was immediately ready. (Yay!) And our longhouse was the one right next to the main Ceremonial House. (Basically, our building was right next to the Main Lobby building.) Double Yay!
The room was really big and we each had a nice Queen size bed. The bathroom was also nice and roomy!
After getting settled in at the room, it was time to head out to Animal Kingdom! We had our Fastpass+ attractions already booked, so there was no rush to make a mad dash for Fastpasses.
Many regular Disney goers are already familiar with DeVine (the live street performer who looks like a vine covered tree.) Now they have a new character in that same vein – and his name is Bamboo…
Our Fastpass+ times were for Expedition Everest, Kilamanjaro Safaris, and The Outpost for pics with Minnie and Mickey.
While walking around, we got some edamame, as Jenn wanted to test out the charging capabilities of the Magic Band. It worked great (and remember, one must enter the correct PIN to use the charging privileges) and we shared a yummy snack. (They were served cold and sprinkled with sea salt, so they were actually a nice refreshing treat on a hot day.) After that, we actually shared a meal from Yak and Yeti counter service, as we had had a super early flight that morning and were getting a bit hungry.
I don’t remember the exact order of things, but I believe we had a bit of time between Fastpass+ times. We rode Dinosaur, saw the tigers in the Maharajah Trail, rode Everest without Fastpass (as there was NO line), got our pics with Minnie and Mickey, and I even got some video chat time in with Miloš, as there is FREE WIFI in every park and resort. That’s right – it’s everywhere now! That made me super happy. I will say that the signal does drop when moving from one signal source to another. When Jenn was on Facetime, it didn’t drop the calls (it just went dark for a few moments here and there), but Miloš and I use Tango, which DID drop as I moved between signals. We just had to keep calling each other back. But the property-wide wifi is a HUGE improvement on Disney’s part. Big thumbs up.
We had dinner reservations that night at one of my favorite restaurants: Sanaa. It’s located at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas – the Kidani Village building. Jenn had not tried this restaurant before, but I assured her it was awesome. And yes, it was as great as always. Service excellent. Food excellent. Drinks excellent. (Catch my drift?) Of course dining here means a lovely view of the savannah and all its animals just outside those big picture windows. Sanaa is in my top five of Disney restaurants, so if you haven’t tried it, I HIGHLY recommend it. The food is a mix of Indian and African inspired dishes. And as if the bread service to start wasn’t good enough, they now offer the option of trying out ALL nine dips/sauces for two bucks more than ordering three. Do it. (Plus they have this amazing chai cream you can get for dessert – it’s like a chai tea latte from Starbucks, but in a pudding/mousse form. Tastes like it was sent from heaven!)
That evening, we were off to Disney Hollywood Studios (DHS) for evening EMH. (That stands for “Extra Magic Hours” – every day there’s a park or two that opens early or stays open late just for on-site resort guests.) Of course after that long of a day, our phones were completely dead. So no pics. (Sad trombone sound…) Rest assured, we had a great time. Twice in a ROW on Rockin’ Roller Coaster – oh yeah! And I admit to not visiting DHS much after dark, but perhaps I have to change that. There was a great cover band playing some awesome rock tunes in the big open area near the Micky sorcerer hat. (They’re called “Mulch, Sweat, and Shears”, I believe.)
The next day Jenn had conferences in the morning, so I slept in and then hit the pool. I was excited to relax by the pool of the Poly! I found a nice beach chair right where the sand meets the pool deck. It was a great sunny day, and I did my darndest to try to maintain my fading summer tan!
Here are some pics from the grounds around the Poly – the gardens, the beach, the pool…
After pool/beach time, I headed to the room to become TINKERBELL! It was the night of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!
Jenn was already in the park with some other travel agents, and I was going to meet up with her after my transformation!
After leaving a trail of glitter all over the bathroom floor, I was on my way! If you want to read all about the party night, just click on one of the links above.
The next day I was on my own the whole time. I had gone in and adjusted my Fastpass+ rides to all be in DHS. I wanted to ride Tower of Terror and Rockin Roller Coaster again. I even got on Tower of Terror twice. But that was because of the downpour we had for about an hour and a half. I even caved and bought a poncho, it was that bad. But I had a great time on my fave rides. Even took a spin on Star Tours. (A reminder to everyone – there are TONS of different versions of Star Tours – you never know which combination you’re going to get! Ride it a lot if you can!)
After leaving DHS, I hopped the boat to Epcot. I made some friends along the way – people in line at the boat. People on the boat… you get the idea. (I like to talk…) But it was a great way to hear about other people’s experiences with the Magic Bands!
I knew that the counter service restaurant in France had been expanded, so after entering through the International Gateway into World Showcase, I took a quick walk to the back of the France pavilion to snap some pics of the renovation.
After getting some pics in France, I was off to my real destination for a late lunch – Morocco! Seriously, it’s one of my faves in World Showcase. The whole pavilion is awesomely realistic and beautiful, and the counter service restaurant is kick-ass fabulous! I got me a yummy chicken and lamb shawarma combo platter. Plus some baklava for dessert. (They threw in the pistachio baklava for me to try – but I still prefer the original. (The original is apparently walnut – who knew? I usually don’t like walnuts.)
And some more awesome pics around Morocco!….
I then continued my walk around World Showcase…. leisurely passing the countries….
Until the rain came again! I donned my poncho again and made a break for Mexico! I figured I’d wait out the rains while having a yummy adult beverage…
After my drink, it was time to head out and get freshened up back at the hotel…
I did want to head back to Epcot that evening again for Illuminations, but I was feeling kind of wiped out and needed to recharge briefly.
Once I came back, I was charged and ready for some Illuminations! It’s my favorite evening/fireworks show of all the parks!
Here are some pics!
ILLUMINATIONS!!!!! (yay!) 🙂
Some night-time pics around Epcot’s World Showcase… Italy, Morocco, and France….
Fountain show by Spaceship Earth….
After leaving Epcot, I met up with Jenn for some drinks at the Tambu Lounge back at our resort. I was super excited to have my favorite drink at Disney – the Lapu Lapu!!! Yes, it’s served in a real pineapple. And yes it’s super strong! 🙂
The next day we were joined by one of Jenn’s childhood friends who now lives in Florida. The three of us had Fastpass+ tickets for Soarin’, The Character Spot, and Maelstrom. We did the new Test Track using the single rider line. (I ALWAYS recommend single rider line on Test Track – that way you move through the line SUPER fast and you don’t use up a Fastpass on it. But like all single rider lines, you will be separated from your party for the ride.)
We were off to France to get our Gran Marnier and Grey Goose slushies!
We were all getting kind of hungry at this point and just decided to grab lunch at Chefs de France. I really like this table service restaurant for lunch. They have the BEST french onion soup and mac and cheese. The three course menu is awesome, and I get a DVC discount there.
After lunch, we headed in the direction of Mexico. The day before I had been chatting with two nice couples at the tequila bar. The one woman let me try her drink, as I had never had a Horchata before. (Admittedly I had never heard of this drink except in that Vampire Weekend song…) But it was similar to a chai tea latte taste in a refreshing alcoholic beverage! Yes please! (Can you tell I like chai?) Anyway, I had been wanting to get one of my own since I tried that sip of her drink, so we eventually made our way over to the tequila bar. Plus, I wanted to get out of the heat. It was BRUTAL that day.
Via Facebook, we learned that it was official “Talk Like a Pirate Day.” And to celebrate, there was a guy and his girlfriend who had done the makeovers at the Pirates League JUST for that occasion. (We didn’t know that at first, we just saw a guy who looked like a pirate. So Jenn dared me to go find out what the deal was… leave it to me to go up to random strangers to take their pictures and talk to them!) They totally found a way to trick the system and be an adult dressed in costume in the parks!
By this time I was feeling mighty fine from my drink… as we left I had to get a pic with this unicorn. Well… just because.
Pretty soon it was time to leave to freshen up back at the room before heading to Magic Kingdom for the evening!
That night it was all about MAGIC KINGDOM!!! I was super excited to see my favorite parade: The Main Street Electrical Parade!
(Seriously, even when I say it in my head, it’s in that super cool electronic announcer voice! Ah – and that music!)
We found spots in Liberty Square and took turns running to get beverages. (Of course I ran over to get a Dole Whip Pineapple Float.)
The moon was rising all pretty on the horizon next to the castle….
After the parade, Jenn’s friend left to drive home and we did a few more rides. When the park was getting ready to close, we decided to walk on over to the Contemporary Resort and check out the newly renovated California Grill. We decided to get drinks and appetizers in the lounge and enjoy the view!
Our server was FABULOUS!!!! (Her name was Rachael.) Jenn and I split the Dragon Roll sushi (crab meat based, with shrimp and tuna) and also split the shrimp salad. Both were just amazingly delicious. I had some hard cider and she had a beer. I wasn’t up for a whole dessert. (Didn’t want the calories NOR the expense.) But I was really eyeing up the one dessert – it came with a mini Coke bottle. Honestly, that’s the only reason I wanted it – that little Coke bottle! When I told Rachael about that, guess what she did? She brought me out a mini Coke bottle filled with Coke – just for me! Yay for Disney magic! (And you all know how I love my Coke!) Before we left, I snapped a pic of the work that was being done on the Seven Dwarfs Mine ride over in the Magic Kingdom. (I zoomed in as best as I could.) A lot of work is getting done on the attraction during the night-time hours.
Afterwards, we had to deal with something we weren’t ready for….
You see, I almost always go in the busy summer season, when the parks are open extra late – especially Magic Kingdom. So I never have to worry about when the transportation stops running. Well, MK was only open until 10pm that night, so when we left California Grill around 11:30pm, we actually had to get a cab. To the Polynesian. (For those not familiar with Disney geography, that’s literally the next hotel on the monorail. But there’s no way to walk over to it. We had to get the stinkin’ cab.) Ah well.
Overall, the trip might have been short, but like all Disney trips, it was just wonderful!
I feel more informed and ready to help all my clients with the new Magic Band system going into place. (It’s going to roll out to ALL resorts starting this November!)
So until next time, have a magical day, and may all your dreams come true!