May 2012 Trip Report - The Last Day

       We started the day at Hollywood Studios for Star Wars Weekend!  Be prepared for lots of pictures in this entry.

Storm Trooper Welcoming Committee

Special Park Map



       After running to grab fastpasses for Toy Story Mania (the line was already 45 minutes long!), we grabbed our cupcake breakfast.

Cupcake #7 - Butterfinger
Cupcake #8 - Darth Vader

      After breakfast, we rode Tower of Terror and Rock N Rollercoaster again.  We did MuppetVision 3D and then it was time for our fastpasses.  We got put in the short line again! YEY!  After seeing Lights! Motor! Action!, we decided the park was getting too crowed and left for Epcot.

       Epcot was also extremely crowded.  We grabbed lunch in Germany, picked up some presents for the family, and decided to call it a day.  We didn't even ride our sentimental Spaceship Earth again because the wait was over 30 minutes!  We went back to the hotel, swam for a while, and took a nap.

      For dinner, I had made reservations for us at the Hoop Dee Doo Review, which I had heard great things about.  The show was enjoyably cheesy, the food was pretty good (I'm not a huge fried chicken or rib fan), and the strawberry shortcake dessert was wonderful.  However, our server left something to be desired.  She was not very attentive and seemed to have her timing off.  Our drinks went unfilled, dirty plates stayed on our table, and she seemed to come to the table at awkward times (the show has various breaks for servers to come switch out courses).  All-in-all, it was fun, but there were other meals I enjoyed more and for the additional cost, I'm not sure I'll do it again for a while.   It was almost midnight by the time we got back to the hotel so after packing up a bit, we fell asleep.



May 2012 Trip Report - Animal Kingdom & an Old Friend

       We visited Animal Kingdom yesterday for the first time this trip.  I rode Expedition: Everest then Ken and I got more cupcakes at Kusifiri Bakery for breakfast.

Cupcake #5 - White Chocolate Elephant

Cupcake #6 - Cotton Top Tamarin

                                     
Next, we rode Kilimanjaro Safaris.  We were seated right up front and were able to see really well.  We got to see giraffes up close, and there were both elephants and hippos playing in the pools.  They were very cute.  After seeing It's Tough to be a Bug, we grabbed lunch at Flametree BBQ, which is pretty good for a change from typical theme park food, but isn't the best bbq I've ever had.  Then we saw Finding Nemo: The Musical, which was beautiful.


The next showing of the Lion King wasn't for another hour, so we decided to go on and leave.  Both of us are starting to get really worn out and the humidity is at 100%, making physical exertion harder and harder.

       For dinner, we had Paradiso 37 at Downtown Disney.  Neither of us were impressed.  The server was mediocre, at best.  I had the surf and turf; my shrimp wasn't great, but the skirt steak was surprisingly moist. Ken didn't care for his fish tacos. He said the fish was fried and overall the tacos were very "heavy" for something that's supposed to be a light, fresh meal.

      After dinner, Ken went back to the room and I met up with my college friend, Laura!  She's working at Disney now and I was really excited for the opportunity to see her.  We shopped at Downtown Disney while waiting for the storm to pass, then headed to Magic Kingdom.  When we got there, I realized I had accidentally left my key/ticket in the room when I dropped Ken off.  Luckily, Guest Relations was able to print me another one.  Laura and I went to the new part of Fantasyland to see all the fun expansion stuff.  We rode the new Dumbo and Goofy's Barnstormer.  We decided to go on and leave before the crowd and grabbed hot dogs from Casey's on the way to the monorail.  We stopped by the Contemporary to get some cupcakes to take back to the room!  I can't upload the pictures right now, but they were Red Velvet and Peanut Butter Chocolate.  When I got back to the hotel, I crashed.

New Dumbo

Laura!

May 2012 Trip Report - Hollywood Studios & Epcot


Cupcake #4 - Marble

Cupcake #3 - Chocolate Peanut Butter


       We started the day at Hollywood Studios with the breakfast of champions - CUPCAKES! While there were several different flavors, we picked these.  They were both delicious.

       We utilized our super secret HS plan again this morning - fastpass for Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, Rock N Rollercoaster, ride Toy Story Mania.  We also did the Animation Academy; today we drew Carl from UP!



       After that, it was time to go so we could make it to our lunch reservations.  Today, we ate at Le Cellier for lunch.  This was the only repeat reservation we had this trip.  We loved Le Cellier so much last time, we wanted to go again.  The pretzel bread is fantastic.  Did you know that the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany is in Canada (not Cincinnati)?  I had the wild mushroom filet, which was like heaven in my mouth.  Ken had the strip steak with lovely mashed potatoes.  We also ordered a side of poutine, which was an interesting adventure into Canada's world of junk food - it's fries, cheese curds, and gravy.  It was pretty good as well.

Fire Grill at 'Ohana

       We also rode Soarin', Spaceship Earth, and Figment again.  We were both pretty tired so we headed on back to the hotel.  We had dinner at 'Ohana at the Polynesian at 9:30pm.  You can see Magic Kingdom from the restaurant and the fireworks were at 10pm that night, so I thought it would work out perfectly.  They brought out pot stickers (wonderful), wings (okay), and salad (pretty good).  The meats were brought out on skewers after being roasted over an open fire: steak (pretty good), chicken (good), pork (good), and shrimp (good, but still had the full shell on).  Just before dessert was to come, the fireworks started.  We had a great table, with a clear view of the castle.  Unfortunately, a man allowed his child to climb up on the window and run all over the window ledge unsupervised, so it was difficult to see or get a good picture.  The dessert was bread pudding with bananas foster sauce.  I really liked the sauce, but Ken and I agreed that the pudding was too heavy on the egg.  After dinner, it was time for bed.

     

May 2012 Trip Report - Magic Kingdom

       We decided to make this day a rest day.  We slept in until around 9:30 and took our time getting ready for the day.  We arrived at Magic Kingdom around noon, ready for lunch.  Ken hadn't had his traditional turkey leg yet, so that was his lunch.  I had a burger from Pecos Bills.  With all the "fixin's" from the toppings bar, I really enjoyed my burger.   There was a lot of construction going on for the new Fantasyland expansion.  I can't wait to see all the new stuff they are putting in.

The Grand Floridan
       We rode a few rides again before it was time to leave for dinner.  (Ken beat me at Buzz this time - my streak is over!)  We were eating at the Wilderness Lodge, so we were going to take one of the boats.  Right about the time we got to the dock, it started pouring.  Luckily, the area had a little roof to stand under.  The boat ride was a little wet, but we made it okay.

       We arrived about an hour early for our reservation so we wandered around the hotel.  After looking through the shop and rocking in the rocking chairs, it was time to eat at the Whispering Canyon Cafe.  We both got the all-you-care-to-eat skillet meal and neither of us were incredibly impressed.  However, they also bottomless milkshakes that were fantastic.  Ken got bread pudding for dessert, which he loved.  I don't know what was in it, but there was some spice in it that made me shiver and shake my head.  I felt like a little kid who just tried spinach for the first time.  We couldn't stop laughing about it.

Strawberry Milkshake


        After dinner, we headed back to Magic Kingdom.   We grabbed some Dole Whip and got a good spot to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade.

    On our way out, we got to ride on the "Avengerail!"

The Hulk - Avengers Wrap on Monorail

May 2012 Trip Report - Hollywood Studios & Magic Kingdom

     
       Breakfast was at the Pepper Market in our hotel - Coronado Springs.  It was a buffet with a wide variety of foods including my all time favorite Disney breakfast food... MICKEY WAFFLES!  Yes I'm a big kid, no I don't care.  Ken and I also got our refillable mugs this morning.  All in all, breakfast was pretty good.  There were some things I didn't care for, but the variety was wide enough that I was able to find things I enjoyed!

We started out the day at Hollywood Studios, hitting the headliners.  First, we grabbed fastpasses for Toy Story Mania.  The line said a 20 minute wait, so we got in the standby line.  As we approached the middle of the line, the CM saw our Just Engaged buttons and directed us to a much shorter line!  After a really close game (Ken beat me by 900 points), we rode Tower of Terror, Ken's favorite.  I really debated buying the ride picture because it was hilarious - Ken looked like he was having the time of his life and I looked terrified!  I tried to take a picture of it, but it didn't turn out.  After that, we rode my favorite - Rock N Rollercoaster!  Ken really wanted to ride the new Star Tours so we went over and rode our way to the Wookie planet and even saw Darth Vader!  Unfortunately, the ride made Ken sick, so we won't be doing it again.  We still had a little time before our fastpasses were ready so we rode the Great Movie Ride too!  When we rode Toy Story Mania again, Ken beat me by a much larger margin.  We decided that we had pretty much done everything we wanted to do in HS, so we left.

       We arrived at Magic Kingdom around lunch time and were starving.  Unfortunately, that meant some crazy food crowds.  We ate at Cosmic Ray's, which was packed.  We glimpsed Sonny Eclipse, but had to sit way over in the opposite side of the restaurant.  I had a grilled chicken sandwich with the no sugar added mango gelato and Ken had the BBQ chicken sandwich with chocolate cake.  It was all okay in my opinion.  I didn't get over to the toppings bar because it was so packed I didn't feel like it was worth it.  I might have had a different opinion if I had done so.

       It was very hot while we were at Magic Kingdom, so we spent most of the time running between rides.  We rode/saw Jungle Cruise x2, Pirates of the Caribbean x2, Mickey's PhilharMagic, Stitch's Great Escape, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Small World, Haunted Mansion, Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover, and the Carousel of Progress (or as Ken calls it, Nap-ousel of Nap-ness).  I beat Ken twice, by A LOT on Buzz, so we were tied in our winnings.

       For dinner, we ate at Liberty Tree Tavern.  They saw our engagement buttons and decorated our table!  Dinner was basically Thanksgiving.  There was sliced turkey (very moist), pork, and steak along with mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, green beans, stuffing, and mixed squash.  Everything was really tasty.  We both really enjoyed our meal here.

       After dinner, it was raining and we were exhausted, so we decided to call it a day.



May 2012 Trip Report - Epcot, Pt 2

       Okay, I can't sleep, so I'll post some more about Epcot. After riding Soarin again, we had a little over an hour before our dinner reservation. Ken wanted to ride Spaceship Earth again and I wanted to ride Mission: Space. I thought we were going to Mission: Space first, so I started walking that way. Ken started picking on me, saying he didn't know why I "hated" SSE, but hew was going to make me like it. (For the record, I liked SSE. I just was confused on which we were doing first. (-: )
       So anyway, we walked right on SSE and back in the future we went. Toward the end of the ride, you pick different options so the computer can develop "your future," based on the options you pick. Since Ken had picked his "future" that morning, it was my turn. As I was selecting my different options, Ken leaned over and proposed! Of course I said yes, after making sure he was serious.
        I couldn't believe it. While I had dreamed of him asking while we were at WDW, I didn't dream it would be on this trip. As we got off the ride, he said "Told you I'd make you love this ride!" We called my parents and grandparents to tell them. Apparently, almost everyone knew but me, parents, friends, family. Mom said when I came me over to paint our nails, she was going crazy trying not to say anything! She said she even considered making me mad on purpose, so I wouldn't talk to her. I couldn't believe that everyone  already knew! Even my grandma, when I called her, wasn't surprised (even though she didn't "know"). Her first response was "Have you set a date?" She didn't realize it had JUST happened. I really liked the way he did it. While in front of the castle would be the "obvious" choice of proposal locations, neither of us like being the center of attention, so standing in the middle of a open courtyard or restaurant full of people just wasn't right for us. On the ride, he was able to ask privately while still right in the middle I'd the action... Plus Epcot is our favorite park - even more so now.
       After all the excitement, it was almost time for dinner.  We started walking back to France, Ken leading me because I was too busy being mesmerized by my ring to pay much attention to walking. Dinner was really good. I really wanted to tell the server because I just wanted to tell everyone, but Ken didn't want to (afraid they would make a scene in three restaurant). We both started with French Onion Soup, which was the best I've had. I had the macaroni and gruyere, which was awesome, but too rich to eat a lot of. Ken had the spare ribs, also excellent. I'll have to look up the names of the desserts we had, but Ken's was definitely better. I also had a celebratory glass of wine. 

View from Chefs de France

       It was raining when we finished dinner and we were exhausted, so we decided to head on back to the hotel. On the way out, we stopped so I could ride Mission: Space. Ken waited for me in the gift shop because the ride doesn't agree with him. I then ran in to guest relations for "Just Engaged" buttons. While I was getting those, Ken bought me a SSE pin for my lanyard in honor of the occasion!



May 2012 Trip Report - Epcot

       Our first day at a Disney park was pretty wonderful.  To start out, we checked in at our resort, Coronado Springs.  We got a room in the "Cabanas" section, which is themed to look like a seaside Mexican fishing town.  I haven't had a chance to get any pictures of the scenery yet.

Coronado Springs Entrance


The Room Interior (Love the Colors)


       After we got checked in, we set our sights on Epcot.  We started the day in the park with a ride on Spaceship Earth (the big ball at Epcot) and then went to get fastpasses for Soarin'.  While waiting for our time to go ride Soarin, we did Journey Into the Imagination with Figment!, Captain EO (a 1980's throwback 3-D movie with Michael Jackson), The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Turtle Talk with Crush, and Living with the Land.  By that time, we were ready to ride Soarin.  We love it so much that we just went ahead and got another fastpass after riding.    
       For lunch, we ate at Sunshine Seasons in the Land.  I had a porkchop with the most amazing mashed potatoes and my favorite dessert - strawberry shortcake.  Ken had cashew chicken and a carrot cake cupcake.  I suppose now is a good time to mention that Ken and I are planning to do the "cupcake crawl"... sort of.  The true cupcake crawl is one person eating 10 cupcakes in a day.  We opted for the "eat 10 cupcakes between 2 people across 6 days" plan.  We'll see how that goes.

Cupcake #1 - Carrot Cake

       After lunch, we set off for a tour around the World Showcase (starting with Canada).  We watched several of the shows from the different countries, including China and America.  We had a nice, leisurely stroll looking at the architecture and various shops.  I decided to try a cupcake from the carmel shop in Germany (Karmel Kuche).  It honestly wasn't my favorite.
Cupcake #2 - Chocolate Carmel


       After finishing our tour around the world, it was time for our Soarin fastpasses again... and that's where I'll end part one of our Epcot day!

May 2012 Trip Report - Universal Islands of Adventure & Downtown Disney

Islands of Adventure

        To start out the day, we went to Islands of Adventure at Universal.  As many times as I've been to Disney, even when I lived down here in Orlando, I had never been to IoA/Universal.  Ken hadn't been either.  We both were pretty excited to go, though we knew it wouldn't compare to Disney.

Islands of Adventure Entrance


We knew that Harry Potter world would be the busiest, so we headed there first.  I rode the Forbidden Journey (ride in the Hogwarts Castle) and it made me ill.  I think I would have enjoyed it, but I spent most of the ride with my eyes shut so as not to get sick.  That's only the second ride to ever make me feel sick to my stomach (the first was Tower of Terror).  After the ride, I got a frozen Butterbeer, which was was fantastic.  It tasted a lot like the recipe my mom and I made at home (1/2 cream soda, 1/2 butterscotch schnapps), but without alcohol.

Hogwarts Castle


        After that, we did Poseidon's Fury, Spiderman, and Jurassic Park River Adventure.  Poseidon's Fury was pretty good.  It had a couple really cool parts and some other really outdated ones.  Overall, it was worth doing.  Spiderman was awesome, really well done.  We both enjoyed it.  The Jurassic Park river ride was disappointing.  The ride itself wasn't anything special and the team members were pretty rude to us and then sent us on our way before we were settled in our seats, which unnerved me.  I wanted to ride the pteradon flier ride, but was told I couldn't because we didn't have a child with us.
       Because I love Harry Potter, I really wanted to eat at 3 Broomsticks, despite reading some bad reviews.  Ken and I headed back across the park for lunch.  I ordered the shepherd's pie with a non-frozen Butterbeer (complete with souvenir mug).  The shepherd's pie wasn't good - the meat tasted more like taco meat than anything, in my opinion.  Ken tasted it and didn't like it at all.  For his lunch, he ordered the ribs and chicken meal.  He said the ribs were passable, but the chicken was pretty bad.  The Butterbeer was good, though.



       At that point, we were pretty much done with what we wanted/were able to do at Universal.  While I'm glad for the experience, since it was something new, paying $90 per person for half a day was ridiculous.  We could have paid extra to go to Universal too, but we weren't really encouraged by our experience with Islands of Adventure and were just ready to leave.  We headed back to the hotel and took a 2 hour nap.

Downtown Disney

       When we woke up from our nap, we were pretty hungry.  We set off for Downtown Disney for dinner.  Unfortunately, we both forgot it was Mother's Day.  Every "table service" (sit down) restaurant had at least a 90 minute wait.  We ultimately decided to go to Wolfgang Puck Express.  I had the 4 Cheese Pesto pizza and Ken got the bacon wrapped meatloaf.  We both loved our meals.  It was so nice being on Disney property where most employees actually care about customer service. After dinner, we walked around the different shops and enjoyed the beautiful weather.  Dessert was two amazing sundaes from Ghiradelli.  Sitting in the warm evening breeze, eating these wonderful sundaes together was pretty magical ending to the day.

Magical Sundaes



May 2012 Trip Report - Clearwater and Blue Skies

Today was much more exciting than yesterday!  We headed to Clearwater early this morning to meet up with Ken's old boss.  He and his wife took us out into the intercostal waters on their boat.  It was fantastic.

Ken and I on the Boat

Hulk Hogan's Clearwater House (On Sale for ONLY $18M)


Leaving the City Behind


We pulled up to the dock at a local restaurant for lunch.  It was a pretty cool set up.  They helped you dock and watched the boat while you ate.  The food was awesome.  *You should be forewarned... I like to talk about food.*  I had a cajun grouper sandwich and Ken had grouper nuggets.  Both of us really enjoyed our meals!  I enjoy small food joints that really showcase local flavors and this one was no exception.

The Dock @ Frenchy's

Mural @ Frenchy's

 After lunch, we headed out in to the Gulf of Mexico.  The water was beautiful.  We saw dolphin and a few sting rays playing in the water.  Despite how beautiful it was out today, the boat traffic was not too bad.  The beach did seem pretty packed.  It was nice to be able to wave to everyone as we passed them on the shore.

Dinner was a less exciting adventure.  Apparently, many of the local places don't deliver to the hotel we are staying at.  After trying to order from 3 local places and a restaurant delivery service, to no avail, we opted for delivery from a major pizza chain.  It wasn't ideal, but with both of us hungry, running on <4 hours sleep, and exhausted from a long day in the sun, it fit the bill just fine.

 We're heading to Universal tomorrow.  Neither of us have ever been, so we are really looking forward to it.  Hope to have lots of fun things to post tomorrow!

May 2012 Trip Report - Packing and Driving

Packing


Yesterday started out with our typical last minute gathering, laundry, and packing.  Nothing really exciting happened, except Boogie tried to pack herself in the suitcase.

Boogie in the Suitcase

Puppies Watching for Dad to get Home

On the Road

We got on the road from Cincinnati early afternoon.  There was massive traffic due to a rock slide that lead to a 2 hour (26 mile) detour into Tennessee.  Luckily, this yielded some really pretty scenery along the way.

Kentucky State Line

Tennessee State Line

Blurry Georgia State Line
Florida State Line @ 12:30am


The Scenic Route in Tennessee


 We drove through and arrived at the hotel around 1:30am, exhausted.  Tomorrow, we're spending the day in Clearwater with my husband's old boss/friend.




First Post: Painting Nails with Mom




One of my professors suggested I start a blog to post about our upcoming vacation.  I've never had a blog before, so we'll see how this goes!

For Mother's Day, we will be at Walt Disney World.  I asked my mom what she want to wanted to do to celebrate before we left.  She decided that we should paint our nails using her new nail kit. She helped me decorated mine for the trip!  The right hand is supposed to be Mickey's pants: red with black tips and two white "buttons."  The left hand is Minnie's skirt, red with white polka dots!  I'm getting so excited for our trip.