Almost Time – Disney Summer Road Trip Plans

We’re calling it the “Epic Mother/Daughter Disney Summer Road Trip” and in just a few weeks, we’ll be on our way!  Packing lists are made.  FastPasses are booked.  Like all great Disney vacations, new things are in store and include quite a few Disney firsts for us.  Megan and I are more excited than I can describe and are constantly texting each other about our plans.  Speaking of plans…

Almost Time – Disney Summer Road Trip Plans

Let’s start with the firsts:  First time at Saratoga Springs, first time on the Quick Service Dining Plan, first time driving to Orlando, and (the most exciting!) first time to see Pandora!  We’ve also booked the “Caring for Giants” tour at Animal Kingdom and are looking forward to seeing the new Happily Ever After nighttime spectacular in Magic Kingdom.

Here are the plans we’ve made day-by-day…

Arrival Day:

Magic Kingdom:  We’ll get there for lunch and grab what sounds good at the time.  We have FastPasses starting right after lunch for Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Splash Mountain.  Between FastPasses, we’ll fill in with the usual favorites depending on wait times.  Those attractions are usually PeopleMover, Haunted Mansion, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Carousel of Progress, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Country Bear Jamboree.  For dinner we’ll catch the boat to Wilderness Lodge to try Geyser Point before returning to Magic Kingdom and staying for Happily Ever After.

Day Two:

Animal Kingdom as early as possible.  It would stress me out to shoot for an exact arrival time, but it will need to be early.  FastPasses start at 9:00 am with Na’vi River Journey in Pandora.  We’ll grab breakfast there at Satu’li Canteen either before or after the ride.  Then we’ll have plenty of time to explore all of Pandora at our leisure.  Our next FastPass (Expedition Everest) isn’t until early afternoon.  We’ll do the Caring For Giants tour mid-afternoon then be able to roam around Animal Kingdom at a lazy pace, eat dinner, and use our final FastPass for Rivers of Light at 9:15.

Day Three:Animal Kingdom's Kali River Rapids

Animal Kingdom again first thing.  Our FastPasses are all in the morning:  Flight of Passage, Primeval Whirl, and Kali River Rapids.  We’ll be hopping to Epcot for the afternoon – so many great quick service options for lunch in World Showcase!  Dinner that night will be at Paddlefish in Disney Springs after which we’ll call it a day.

Day Four:Entrance for Toy Story Midway ManiaWe’ll start by rope-dropping the Studios to ride Rock’n’ Roller Coaster before using our three FastPasses for Tower of Terror, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Star Tours.  The unplanned afternoon will be spent at either Magic Kingdom or Epcot before we start the first part of the long drive home that evening.

Yes, we have solid plans for much of the time, but I think we’ve allowed for plenty of free-styling along the way.  Primarily we’ll be focused on exploring Pandora since it’s new, but we’ll also be able to enjoy many of our must-dos in every park while trying a few new restaurants too.  Mother/Daughter time should include a nice mix of new experiences and old favorites while making lots of happy memories.

While we’re away, Joseph has decided he should stay at the house and keep Raymond (and Junior) company.  So while they won’t be going to Disney World, they’ll be guys home alone doing guys stuff.  I think they’re pretty excited about it.

Are you headed to Walt Disney World this summer?  What are you the most excited to see and do?

 

Epcot – World Showcase’s Drawbridge

Clearly no matter how many times I visit Walt Disney World or how much I read about my favorite vacation destination, there will still be things I don’t know.  Remember when I found out about the collectible transportation cards?  Discovering there’s a drawbridge in World Showcase was a lot like that…an unexpected Disney surprise!

Epcot – World Showcase’s DrawbridgeChina Pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase

It’s okay if you’re thinking, “How did she never notice the bridge over a waterway between Africa and China?”.  Truth is, I never noticed it before because I was never trying to get from France to Norway when the bridge went up.  I don’t know about Raymond and Joseph, but I was cruising along looking forward to using our Frozen Ever After FastPass, minding my own business, focused on the crowd ahead.  The crowd that wasn’t moving!  Then suddenly I was all, “Whoa!  What the heck!  Check it out, y’all!  There’s a drawbridge!”  Me being me, I sort of eased us up to the front of the crowd for a better look.Epcot - World Showcase's DrawbridgeI seriously had no idea what the deal was.  Turns out, the globe used in Illuminations is stored backstage and moves into the World Showcase Lagoon via this little waterway-with-a-drawbridge.Epcot - World Showcase's Drawbridge Epcot - World Showcase's DrawbridgeI was a little surprised at how unassuming and kind of small the globe looked.  During Illuminations it’s the amazing centerpiece of all the action.  Arriving at the “theater” it looked rather like an unadorned actor heading for make-up and wardrobe.  Or a super hero as his or her alter ego maybe.Epcot - World Showcase's Drawbridge The crowd around us was boisterous and having fun.  I was even enlisted to take a photo for a group of young adults clearly celebrating something (or just having a really great time involving lots of adult beverages).  When the globe moved on and the drawbridge lowered, we were on our way to what we would soon find out was a closed Frozen attraction.  I was happy anyway – I’d learned something new about Epcot and got to see the famous Illuminations globe up close in the light of day.

Did you know about the drawbridge?  Have you seen it go up for the globe to pass through?

Magic Kingdom – Festival Of Fantasy Parade’s New Time?

What time is the 3 o’clock parade?  The answer might surprise you on and after August 20, 2017.Festival of Fantasy Parade's New Time

Magic Kingdom – Festival Of Fantasy Parade’s New Time?

I love Disney rumors and gossip – it’s fun to speculate and discuss among my fellow Disney geeks.  When I came across this brief article from WDW News Today, I had to visit Disney’s official website and check out the times info for myself.  Sure enough, the “3 o’clock parade” is moving to 2:00 pm.  Annnnnd I think that’s okay.  Pretty good, in fact.  Here’s why…Festival of Fantasy Parade's New Time

If you’ve never seen Festival of Fantasy, it’s a must-do at least once.  I’ve caught the entire 12 minute spectacle a few times because it’s nothing short of incredible.  Seriously, the floats, costumes, and music are wonderful and as good as Disney gets.  I was not a huge fan of the prior parade (Celebrate a Dream Come True) for a variety of reasons and only watched it in its entirety once because we had VIP seating.  Festival of Fantasy is everything I wanted the previous parade to be and oh, so much more.  3 o’clock can be a tough time of the day to fit in a parade…no matter how fantastic.

Mid-afternoon is the classic post-lunch naptime for legions of littles.  It’s hot, humid, sometimes riddled with pop-up thunderstorms and for lots of families their resort pool is calling.  Sometimes people want to spend a couple of hours before dinner cleaning up and enjoying happy hour (me!).  Sometimes people want to park-hop after knocking off their favorite Magic Kingdom attractions (also me!).  Moving the parade up an hour could really be a huge help for lots of folks.  The Festival of Fantasy Dining Package will also work out better for people who eat at the earliest times available – closing the gap a bit between meal and parade time.Festival Of Fantasy Parade's New Time

I think, if this time change is permanent, The Fam and I will get to enjoy Festival of Fantasy more frequently than we do now.  Our favorite viewing spots are on the Tomorrowland side of the hub and also at the end of Main Street USA across from the flagpole – easy to exit the park from there after Mickey and Minnie go by.Minne Mouse in the Festival of Fantasy Parade

Are you a Festival of Fantasy Fan?  How do you feel about the parade’s new time?Festival Of Fantasy Parade's New Time

 

My Disney Mother’s Day Experience

Sometimes, when your kids prove that they’ve been listening and learning the best things in life from you it’s pretty magical.  It’s what we hope for during all of that other stuff…you know…potty training, ballgames, homework, dance lessons, laundry, nagging, emergency room visits, late-night-worrying, and the rest.  Parenting mistakes were made to be sure – some big, some small.  Turns out, in spite of all that, kids can turn out to be very awesome humans in spite of your having had no manual for raising them.  Our children are adults now and on Mother’s Day, they went all out to give me an experience I’ll never forget.Disney Mother's Day Experience

It started Saturday night as Megan, Grant, Joseph, Lyndsey, Raymond and I were out at a party for our nephew’s upcoming wedding.  Joseph and Megan told me that when the party was over, they were both spending the night at our house.  Knowing we were planning to run together in the morning, I thought this was just a fun and happy convenience.  I envisioned staying up watching movies and hanging out.  They had other plans and I was told to go to bed.  Never one to pass up the opportunity for a good night’s rest and only a little disappointed, I did as I was told and wondered what they might be up to.

My Disney Mother’s Day Experience

Sunday morning, everything looked the way it had when I went to bed.  We grabbed some breakfast and hit the road for our weekly long run.  I was still clueless what the rest of the day would hold.  When we got home, I played outside with Junior for a while, took a shower, and was informed at that time to “stay out of the kitchen”.  This was going to be challenging!  The kitchen is very much the heart of our home.  I love to cook and when we’re all together, we tend to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  Together.  I turned on the TV, found a movie, and settled in to wait.  From time to time, I secretly took pictures of what I could see of the kitchen action (there were some serious game-faces).My Disney Mother's Day Experience

There was a LOT of activity going on in the kitchen.  To keep me out, I was served my favorite Epcot beer, Innis & Gunn, in a Rose & Crown pint glass.  After a while, I was brought a big spread of cheese, crackers, spreads, and prosciutto.  Junior faithfully stayed by my side, but it wasn’t easy.  For either of us.  The WAITING!  The MYSTERY!

Raymond, who’d been working outside for most of the afternoon, came in and set the dining room table.  I asked for someone to bring me a bottle of water and the response from Joseph was, “I can’t right this second, I’m flambéing something.”  Now I was imagining flames shooting everywhere and the potential for catastrophe, because, hey!  It’s what moms do, right?  I stayed right where I was (I should get major points for that) and before long, dinner was served.

The made-from-scratch bread looked familiar and when I found out there was a dipping sauce made from a Guinness reduction, I was on to them!  We were eating food from Raglan Road!!!  This Disney Springs restaurant has been one of our all time favorites for many years.  We have had so many great dinners there!  Those memories are precious to me and clearly Megan and Joseph know it.  I was blown away and very excited to sit down and dig in.  (Clearly, in my excitement I was unable to take a clear picture of the bread.)

My Disney Mother's Day ExperienceAside from Irish Brown Bread, there was an incredible Cashel Blue Cheese Salad with fresh raspberry vinaigrette, Lamb Pasta Ragout (this dish has like 17 different ingredients) and finally, Traditional Bread and Butter Pudding for dessert (incredible!).  Pictures do NOT do this meal justice.  My Disney Mother's Day ExperienceIt was ALL so delicious!!!  Joseph as master chef with Megan as his sous chef spent five hours cooking up this amazing meal…just for me.  After we finished eating, I received The Raglan Road Cookbook as a gift.My Disney Mother's Day Experience

From their earliest childhood, we tried to teach our children to value experiences over things.  It’s a fact: Creating happy memories will mean more in life than accumulating stuff.  I think they learned exactly what we intended and I couldn’t be more proud.  (Thank you Megan and Joseph!  I love you!!!)