Day 182- Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Today there are blue skies and fluffy white clouds. It is going to be another hot day, near 90 degrees, as we get to Epcot this afternoon. We park fairly far out, so we catch the tram and ride to the entrance. We get our bags checked, MagicBands scanned, and enter into the Flower and Garden Festival. The sun shines bright as we walk toward Spaceship Earth. It is busy, but not too crowded.

My first stop is to get something cold to drink, so we walk on around to Fountain View, which houses Starbucks. It is amazing how 88 degrees seems a lot hotter on such a sunny day. Iced tea lemonade sounds nice! As we get to Starbucks, I think a lot of people need a cold beverage since the line is somewhat long. It takes a little while, but I have my drink and we head for the Festival Center to see the displays.

Before we get to the Festival Center, we have to stop and get a picture with the Buzz Lightyear topiary. It looks really great when you see it with Mission: Space in the background. Love it!

Now, we are off to the Festival Center. As we walk up, we begin to see all of the flowers. As you enter there is a wall filled with all sorts of plants, orchids, ferns, and various other tropical greenery. It is truly incredible!

When we leave the Festival Center, we hear some sort of music… Drums? Or is it something else? Oh, how fun! The Jammin’ Gardeners are playing all sorts of trashcans, shovels, buckets, ladders, and even the ground as percussion instruments! They are so much fun and so entertaining to watch!

I need to get something to eat, so we walk back through toward Starbucks and go around the fountains. We stop for a picture, trade a pin, and head off toward the World Showcase Lagoon, turn right, and backtrack a little to the Urban Farm Eats booth. We order the Kale Salad with dried cherries, almonds, and goat cheese with white balsamic vinaigrette and decide to share the Ghost Pepper Dusted Tilapia with crisp winter melon slaw and mint oil featuring The Original Sauce Man’s Kick it Up Rub. The tables are in the sun, so we walk toward Canada and find some benches under umbrellas. There we sit in the shade and enjoy a very late lunch. The gluten free kale salads are really good. We had these the other day, and they are so filling and so yummy! The tilapia is tasty, but we found that the main spicy punch comes from the winter melon slaw. The winter melon slaw was Twinkie’s favorite part of the tilapia dish.

There is a steady stream of people passing as we enjoy our lunch.

Now, off to The Tea Caddy, Mr. Stephen Twining is there today. As we enter the edge of the United Kingdom pavilion, Twinkie finds some pins to trade. Then, we continue on to The Tea Caddy where we check on one of our favorite teas. We find that the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Tea is gone, and Mr. Twining is on a break. We walk through the gardens behind The Tea Caddy and then we enter into the Lords and Ladies shop to look at the Downton Abbey items. We make our way through The Queens Table shop and back through The Tea Caddy. Mr. Twining hasn’t returned yet, but maybe next time we will be able to meet him. We did get to meet him last year, which was really neat!

Now, Twinkie is going to trade another pin on the edge of the United Kingdom pavilion before we head to the front of Epcot. We are enjoying the day, it is hot, but I think we are doing good drinking tea and water to stay hydrated. That sounds funny since it is only March, but in Florida, it is like the early part of summer weather. The clouds have gathered overhead and it is nice to have some shade as we get to the front gates, catch the tram, and walk to our car!

It has been a lot of fun today. The colors and combinations of flowers are so refreshing! I loved today and being at the Flower and Garden Festival!

Day 87- Magic Kingdom and Meeting Scoop Sanderson

Today we were going to have a quick trip to Disney’s Magic Kingdom. But, we were having so much fun that it turned into a much longer trip. The sun is shining and the wind is blowing. We park, ride the tram to the Ticket and Transportation Center, get to the Monorail and it is packed! After two Monorails come, fill up, and leave, we get to board and head to Magic Kingdom. It is beautiful today!

We arrive and there are so many people! We see that the ferryboat has arrived, just as our Monorail is unloading. Happily, there are so many security guards to check bags, that the lines only have about five people in each line. Really, it doesn’t take too long. We wait a bit to scan our Magic Bands, but the lines here move quickly too, and it isn’t bad at all.

As we step through the gates, we are near the Mickey Mouse in the front garden, in front of the Train Station. I get a picture of Tooti with the poinsettia Mickey and the train, just as it pulls into the station! As we enter Main Street USA, we see Hildegard Olivia Harding, one of the fabulous Citizens of Main Street! We are instantly translated to this era as she says, “We are so close, ladies, we are so close! Soon we’ll win the right to vote!” Oh my, I had forgotten that it hasn’t been that long since we women didn’t have the right to VOTE! It is the coolest feeling to see her fighting for our right to VOTE! Women, we need to appreciate those who have fought for our rights.

We run into the Uptown Jewelers shop to see if they have seen Scoop Sanderson. No, but they told us to look for (boy, do I feel like a kid right now!) the Dapper Dans, and Scoop should be near them. However, do be sure to give the Dapper Dans a proper greeting so they won’t be too let down that we are looking for Scoop and not for them. OK! We step back out to Main Street USA and search for Scoop Sanderson. Twinkie is the funniest thing when she is on a mission. She gets focused, waves, and hop-skips when she sees him! Oh, look! She finds him. He is very entertaining to get to meet and to visit with! We were laughing so much.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY SCOOP! What a character he is. We have a nice chat with Scoop who graciously lets us trade pins with him. Scoop is so nice! He’s one of the most fun characters to meet in Magic Kingdom, do be sure to look for him on your next visit!

Now, we are going for our coffee at Starbucks. It is very nice and not so busy right at this moment! We see another Citizen of Main Street! She is at the Main Street Bakery and browsing the pastries in the case. She is adorable to watch as we listen to her vintage speaking patterns. What a treat to get to see a Citizen in the Main Street Bakery! We get our coffees and are having lunch for breakfast. 😀 As we head back down Main Street USA, we get in front of Tony’s and The Chapeau. I take a moment to look at the green building on the end. As I do, I see the early 1900s Main Street USA, and off in the distance I see Space Mountain. It is like the past is right beside me, and in the distance is the futuristic Space Mountain. Walt Disney grew up in this era that Main Street USA is set in, and he dreamed about the future that we live in. Amazing.

We have reservations for Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. The dining room is so very cozy and beautiful to sit in. They have the best gluten free spaghetti and meatballs! We are seated quickly and our waiter is very nice. We have our drinks, and soon the Chef comes out to let us know what is gluten free, they can even do gluten free turkey meatballs! We will have two of the spaghetti and meatballs, and one chicken Caesar salad. We were totally surprised that our food came out so fast! Our waiter added the grated cheese, and we were ready to taste our first bite.

It was the most awesome spaghetti and meatballs that I have had in months! I could not believe how wonderfully awesome the flavors are. Our table got really quiet as we were savoring each bite. We are smiling and our faces say it all; it is so good! Definitely, this will be on our “best places to eat” list! The service was great.

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is our next stop for a FastPass+. As we made out way to Tomorrowland, I noticed that I had never realized that the supports for the PeopleMover are shaped like spaceship legs that look like they could telescope up if the “spaceship” ever needed to take off. COOLEST thing ever!

The FastPass+ line for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is very, very long. When we finally entered the building, the little girl in front of us was crying a little bit, and her parents were trying to cheer her up. She was about 10. I smiled at her mom and I asked the little girl, “Hey, do you want to beat your Dad’s points?” She said a soft, “What?” Her mom was listening, and she said that I asked if she would like to beat her dad. The girl gave a little smile and said, “Yes.” I looked at Twinkie as I said, “There are some targets that have high points.” Twinkie filled in the details. The girl was so happy and cheered up! I also said that she should hug her dad after she beats his score! She laughed and her mom was also laughing. Tooti got Galactic Hero and claimed her badge.

We walk around, through Tomorrowland and towards Fantasyland. We see the Fairy Godmother as we turn towards Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel. We step into Sir Mickey’s gift shop to check pins. Now, we make our way around Cinderella’s Castle. When the shows are going on in front of the castle, they close off the path through the castle. Never fear! There are paths on wither side of the castle that will take you around. It takes a little longer, but on our way down (facing the back of the castle, we went to the right) we could see Peter Pan running onto the stage. Smee and Captain Hook are hiding out on the bridge from the castle to the stage and Smee is waving at all of us as we pass down the path to the front of the castle. It is so cool!

We enjoy browsing the shops as we head back to the front entrance. I love seeing the Christmas decorations within each shop! I love Christmas at Disney! Well, time to go home for the day. It is a very sunny day, and it was a very pleasant day at Disney!

Day 83- Animal Kingdom

It is beautiful today. It actually feels like the sun is hot enough to get a sunburn. The temperature will have a high of 82 or 83 today, and it is hot. However, the breeze is wonderful and keeps us cool. We are going to Animal Kingdom today. As we enter the parking area, it looks really busy until we see the new changes. Yes, they have refinished one huge section of the parking lot and repainted the lines; it looks great!

We ride the tram to the entrance and the tram attendant is so funny. These cast members make Disney so much fun! Soon, we are at the entrance, our bags are checked, and our MagicBands are scanned. Now, off to check the pin stroller at the stroller rental, but once we get there, we find that it is out and about. Not a problem! So, we make our way up and around the Oasis, viewing the animals on our way up. Once we are almost at the top of the Oasis, we make a turn to the left, and step across the rope bridge! I love this bridge! It reminds me of my childhood, crossing rope bridges on vacations.

Now we cross the bridge to Discovery Island, passing the Wilderness Explorer sign up station. It is so cool to find the different animals and get reward stickers! It is a fun way to make your way around Animal Kingdom.

We are heading to Island Mercantile for pin trading. As we enter, we see so many different items in the shop that we haven’t seen before! As the girls are pin trading, I browse all of the cool gifts and hats. As we leave the shop, we make our way through Discovery Island and cross the bridge into Africa. As you are crossing over the bridge, look to your right and you can see Expedition Everest. We on the side of the bridge and enjoy the view for a few minutes. There is a really cool bird that hangs out on the riverbanks here, sometimes he spreads his wings; they are so beautiful and so massive! Today, he stretches one out and also stretches his foot out along his underside. It is just beautiful!

It is rather hot, so we stop at Harambe Popcorn to see what cold beverages they have. We see Jungle Juice Slush and grab one. It is so very good! It is a perfect beverage for a hot afternoon. We enjoy our fun and tasty drinks as we continue to walk toward Asia, then cross the bridge back to Discovery Island. As we walk, I have to chuckle as an ibis sits right above a couple, watching to see if they drop any food. I had not noticed that seat before, it looks like it was carved out of rock, but the ibis sitting above them made me notice. It is a funny picture.

We are finished with pin trading for the day, so off to the rope bridge, and around the Oasis. Out the front entrance, oh, let’s check the Outpost Shop for pins! Found one! Yay!

Now, off to the tram! We sit at the front of a car, and a whole family jumps on with us. I sat by the little oldest son. I asked him, “Are you the oldest?” He said, “Yes!” I said, “You are doing good.” His dad looked at him, then me, smiled really big, and nodded. He was helping with the other 3 siblings and I was impressed with his actions. He did do a good job. See you later, Animal Kingdom; it was a very good day!

Day 77- Epcot

The sun is shining and the day is warm! I think we will head for Epcot! Neil Patrick Harris is at the Christmas Candlelight Processional and that would be amazing to see!

As we arrive and park, we are at the far end of the row, away from the tram. That means that it is almost as close to walk to the front entrance as it is to walk to the tram. These rows are very, very long, but if you are here for the first time, the tram is a great way to make it to the front entrance.

We get to bag check and the security guards are really nice as we go through the line. Twinkie overheard the security guard say that people were lining up to see Neil Patrick Harris at 1:30 today, even though the first Candlelight Processional doesn’t start until 5:00. Apparently, the line was so long, it wrapped from the American Adventure, through Italy, and all the way down into Germany! Wow!

We scan our MagicBands and I laugh with the cast member as she welcomes me. I am laughing because at this very moment there are so many places open to scan my MagicBand! I love these moments!

As we enter, we are talk about wanting to see the Candlelight Processional, especially with Neal Patrick Harris. So, we need to see if there are reservations left for one of the Candlelight Processional Dining Packages. We want to make sure we get to see the Candlelight Processional, and it sounds like this will be the best way to get good seats. Neal Patrick Harris is amazing and we’ve enjoyed watching him throughout his career, even back to Doogie Howser, M.D.!

As we talk to the cast member in Guest Relations, her trainer says that she’s worked at the Candlelight Processional, and she really loved hearing him. He was her favorite! We are so excited, and they begin the search to see if we are able to find a lunch or dinner open. As we explain the restaurant and time we want, they both are so surprised that they have a reservation open. We smile really big and are thankful that there is one available. They completed the reservation, and again reemphasized how surprised they were that there was one still available. We smile and laugh with them and know that it will be an amazing night!

We grab a drink at Starbucks and head for Canada! Oh, Tooti sees a mom that is taking her daughter’s picture and asks, “Would you like me to take a picture of you both?” She was elated, and thanked us several times. We were so glad to get to help!

We are doing a lot of pin trading today. The kids are off and finding cast members to see which pins they have. I love pin trading; we find pins that I have never seen. We find a few and decide to see if we can find the bunny rabbits that live in the gardens in Canada. We see the beautiful gardens and it is so peaceful, but the rabbits must be hiding in the flowers. We continue around, cross the rope bridge, and climb the stairs. It is beautiful, and the waterfall is amazing.

We stop at the Northwest Mercantile shop to see the new items. Twinkie points out the raccoon hat with its plushie head and tail still attached. Then, she finds a little round critter with a Canadian Mountie hat on. They also carry Moose Spit, Bear Breath, Beaver Butt, Sasquatch Sweat, Ferret Farts, and these are soaps by Goat Mountain Soap Company! We do have to chuckle about these. Check out their lip balms! We love those names too!

As we are leaving and walking down the stairs, we can hear the new Christmas music coming from the Mill Stage. Oh, look! It’s the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs playing Christmas music! How fun!

We are going to back track and see if we can do some more pin trading on the way back to the entrance. We do stop at Pin Central to see the new Christmas Pins. We trade a couple of pins with the cast members and we are off. As we get close to Guest Relations, we stop and enjoy watching little kids dancing with the cast member, she has a bubble gun. Then, we notice that there is a remote controlled yellow car running in huge circles! I noticed that there were stickers attached to the top, with a little note that says, “Take one!” It is the funniest, coolest thing! A little dude walked up and got a sticker. I want one! We all got a sticker and the car took off.  I hollered back at two little brothers, “Hey, do y’all want to get a sticker?” They looked up at their dad and he said, “Sure!” They were hopping and happy when they got them as they headed toward the front gate!

I love Disney and all of the fun things they do. We had a wonderful afternoon of pin trading and enjoying the beautiful flowers. It was a good day!

Day 20- Animal Kingdom & Pin Trading at Coronado Springs

Yay! I want to go to Hollywood Studios to explore the Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream attraction. As we approach the parking lot, we see it is pretty full and it is not quite 11:00 a.m. This morning there was a 5K and then tonight there is the Tower of Terror 10 miler. As I assessed the growing crowd, we chose to go to Animal Kingdom instead.

On the way to Animal Kingdom, we were going past Coronado Springs Resort (one of our favorites!) and decided to drop in for some pin trading. Pin trading is a fun event, especially if you are in the parks for more than 3 or 4 days. It is fun looking for specific pins. We also took a moment to look at the beautiful lake.

Animal Kingdom proved to be a great choice. The weather was hot, but the clouds were rolling in and soon there was a good cloud cover. We parked in the Peacock parking lot and I caught the Tram while the kids walked to the gate. We arrived at the same time! I forgot my regular shoes but had a spare pair in the car. I try to keep backup shoes in the car just in case it rains or if I accidentally make it out to the car in my heeled Crocs slides.

I wanted to stop at Guest Relations to check on how many days have we been to Disney World Parks. Yesterday, we were stopped three times to take a quick survey and one of the questions was, “How many times have you been to Disney?” I said that we should pick 40 and the kids said 80… they were closer. We upgraded our Disney Tickets to Annual Passes last fall and the total to date for the annual year is 83. Then, we added in the trips since 2012, and the one trip we made in 2001. So, our grand total is, as of today, 100 park visits!

There was such a quiet bustling to the day. It was laid back, and the animals were busy enjoying the cooler air. Of course, our first ride is Kilimanjaro Safaris, my favorite. It is busy, but calm today. Our time out on the Safari was longer than normal, as some of the animals were crossing the road at a slow pace. I love these days; I can enjoy watching the giraffes and the rhinos, of course all of the other animals too, but these two are my favorite. The question of the day is: Are zebras white with black stripes or black with white stripes? The Safari was about twice as long as usual and totally amazing.

As we were walking to get tea, I noticed that the owl on the Tree of Life was standing out more than usual. The cloud cover and angle of the sun made me need to stop and take a picture. It is the most amazing tree.

We grabbed a peach tea and went to sit by the water on Discovery Island to watch the birds and reflections on the water. Now, off to find more pins and head for the front area.

As we were walking down the Oasis, a lady was talking and her friends asked her what she was saying. She told them that she was finishing a conversation from something someone in another group had said; she likes to do that. I leaned in and said, “I never do that. I never say anything about a conversation someone else is having.” They busted out laughing. I love fun people. She ended up on the same Tram we were on! I know because the guys behind us, from England, joined into our conversation and I told them about the lady at the Oasis, and she, sitting two rows in front of us, said, “That was me!”

A fun day!