The lead up to Disney World was pretty eventful. I went out of town, I got sick.. ya know, fun things.
I planned this trip to Disney World back in September when Aunt P said she wanted to go. At first, I was just kidding, but then she said she wanted to meet Mickey Mouse and what was a hair-brained idea became a reality. I had our fast passes booked 60 days out, so Oct 17th.
I'm still limited on my vacation time since I took so much time when we went to Germany in June, so I didn't want to be at Disney for too long. Additionally, we were going at peak times and tickets were $100+ per day for park hopper tickets, so in the spirit of saving money, I decided that we'd only be at Disney World for 2-ish days. We would arrive on a Sunday evening, enjoy Magic Kingdom (MK) on Monday, then enjoy Epcot/Hollywood Studios (HS) on Tuesday, then Wednesday, we'd have a slow start and drive back to Charleston. Other than the part where I got sick 2 days before we left, everything went (almost) exactly as I had planned.
I told you about our arrival in my weekend review. We went to T-Rex and walked around Downtown Disney/Disney Springs/that place where anyone can go without a ticket to spend money on Disney property.
Day One: MondayAfter some deliberation with other Disney pros, I decided to schedule a Keys to the Kingdom tour first thing on Monday morning. This meant that our guests wouldn't get to enjoy the parks before going on the tour. They were getting the behind the scenes look, THEN they could go to the parks. Oh yeah, Teh German had never been to Disney World, only Disneyland, so it was his first time as well.
We arrived at the park right at 745. Our tour started at 8, so we were right on time. I scheduled a LOT of buffer time in our plans just in case something went awry. This worked out very well. We were able to sit down for breakfast to enjoy some Mickey waffles before catching the bus to MK. I had wanted to arrive to MK around 730 to get through the gates and maybe look through the shops, but because the wait time for the bus was longer than I expected, we didn't have time. We actually hoofed it to/through the gates.
Our tour started right at 0800. Originally, I had wanted to do the Backstage Magic tour, which is a 7 hour tour that goes through multiple parks, but there were no tickets available on our dates. I settled for the Keys to the Kingdom and it was a great trade off.
|Ready for the tour to start, in our special Disney-themed shirts.|
We were provided with some history of Disney World and had some special details on Main Street pointed out to us. What I didn't realize when I booked the tour was that we also got to go on rides. We were able to ride Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion by sneaking in the exit, which are the rides with the longest lines in the park. After we rode Jungle Cruise, our guide took us backstage and showed us where the floats were kept for the parades, the trash compactor for the mabillion pounds of garbage generated at the parks, and the water reservoir for the water rides. Next up, we went through Haunted Mansion. After, we trekked it across the park and had lunch at Tomorrowland. After our lunch was the grand finale, we got to see the utilidoor, which is essentially the nervous system of Disney World.
I was wearing my "What Prince?" Snow White shirt and I had a special backstage interaction with Snow White, which is different than normal interactions with Snow White. She asked me where I got my shirt in her own voice, instead of saying Snow White-y things in a Snow White voice. The last time I interacted with Snow White, it was at the princess dinner with Teh Sister and we told Snow White that we were there as a breakup celebration and Snow White didn't even break character, but smoothly said, "Someday your prince will come." Well, full-circle we have come.
One of the most interesting thing for me was the pin collections. There was a Cast Member trading location and I found 2 pins that I was looking for and didn't think to ask our tour guide to go trade for me. Duuuuhh..
Around 1:30 our tour was over. We had fast passes scheduled for 2:30, so we had some free time. Our tour started and ended at the Mickey meet and greet location, so that was the first thing we did for Aunt P. The wait was about 30 minutes, but since we had time, I wasn't concerned. Also, we were inside so there was AC. Not that it was hot outside, but climate control is always a plus in Florida.
After meeting Mickey, we headed towards Space Mountain for our first fast pass ride. Aunt P sat it out since she doesn't like that type of ride. We didn't wait long to ride. It was every bit of fun as I had wanted it to be. Teh German and our other German guest enjoyed it very much. After finding Aunt P, we jumped in a few short lined rides, the Monster Inc Laugh Studio and Stitch's Wild Adventure.
Our next fast passes were for 4:30, so after a few "tame" rides, we did some meandering around. I had 2 stores I knew I wanted to visit, the pin trading store in Frontierland and the Christmas store in Liberty Square. Teh German helped me pick out our Disney World ornament ANDDDD he was found both the pins that I had been searching for to complete my medals collection! He's the best.
Our 4:30 fast pass was for Peter Pan's ride, so we headed towards Fantasyland. We meandered around and saw Gaston's Tavern and had some pictures taken. I had purchased the photopass when I was planning in October, so I knew we'd be taking pictures at every photographer I found.
Teh German and I met Anastasia and Drizella (Cinderella's stepsisters) who were awesome. They gave Teh German crap for not marrying me and Drizella gave the best disgruntled face when I hugged her.
Then we headed towards Peter Pan's ride. I had wanted to ride Peter Pan at Disneyland, but we hadn't had time and I hadn't ever ridden it before, so I was excited since it was my first time. Aunt P definitely enjoyed it, but I think I was underwhelmed. It was slower than I anticipated, but still a cute ride. I didn't understand why the wait is always so long, but now I can say I've ridden it. After we came off the ride, Peter, himself, was actually near by and the line was pretty short so everyone agreed to wait for me to meet Peter.
After meeting Peter, we headed toward It's a Small World, since that is a Disney staple. Afterwards, I threw out some options for dinner. We agreed on a place in Liberty Square and met the most unmagical, horrible Cast Member I've ever encountered when we tried to walk into a place with no reservations available. Grouchy Pants sent us to a different location, which had been another option, so it ended up working out.
While we were eating, we decided to let our fast passes for Haunted Mansion expire since we had already ridden it and we were more interested in just taking it easy for the rest of the evening. Instead, we waited to ride Pirates of the Caribbean and then made our way to Main Street to scope out a spot for fireworks.
Since the castle was lit and there were photographers every where, it was picture time. We got in line for a photographer and I noticed a Cast Member was in everyone's photos with her cart full of light up items to sell. I wondered outloud if she would move and the photographer said I could ask her. So I did, because well.. I'm me. When I explained that she was in everyone's photo of the castle, she told me, not so kindly, that this was HER spot. I explained that just moving 4 feet forward would be all that was necessary, but that was HER SPOT. I gave up. I went back to the Germans and it was our turn for pictures.
We got a picture of all 4 of us, and then it was time for Teh German and I to get our picture together with the castle (and the lights vendor).
Instead of staying in our pose, Teh German turned to face me...
Me: What are you doing? We're taking a picture!
Teh German starts digging in his pocket.
Me: No, really, what are you doing.
|Me starting to realize what was actually happening.|
|In my head: OMG HE'S GOING TO PROPOSE IN FRONT OF ALL THESE PEOPLE.|
GET IT TOGETHER. DO NOT LOSE YOUR SHIT. EVERYONE IS WATCHING.
|Me: OF COURSE, YES!|
|Extra nervous giggles while people were awwww-ing and applauding.|
|Me: Uhh, Babe, you're gonna have to put it on my finger because I'm shaking so bad that I can't pick the ring up out of the box.|
He was a good sport and put the ring on for me.
|Extra long kisses for proposing AT Disney, in front of the lit up castle, with all the magic |
AND FOR completely surprising me.
|In my head: OMG that guy is still taking pictures. That was totally a horrible face|
Aunt P was ready with open arms for a hug and with a tissue to help me clean up the tears that had been automatic.
YOU GUYS.. Not only did Teh German completely surprise me, he asked me to marry him AND I said YES.
^^That was the big Christmas announcement for our families, if you didn't already guess.
In fact, we didn't go FB official until a week and a half later since we were waiting to tell Teh German's Mom. This isn't actually that big of a deal, but if we're friends on FB, you realize this is a very long time for me to keep something a secret.
Ok, must regroup and focus! Disney World!
After hugs and applause and congratulations from strangers, we found a place to plop for the fireworks. We were totally ok with just standing around for over an hour to wait on fireworks to start instead of waiting in line for rides or perusing through shops. I think that we all had a bigger day that we had planned for. While we were waiting, it started to rain. At first, we were just toughing it out, but then it really started to come down, so I pulled out the ponchos that I thought weren't going to be necessary. Despite the rain, my spirits could not be damped. Additionally, I love rain, so I wasn't the least bit affected by the situation. Although.. when it started to thunder and lightning I decided that I no longer wanted to endure the weather and we headed towards the Presidents of the United States show. We arrived 30 seconds before the doors closed, which was perfect! We took off our ponchos and got to enjoy 20 minutes of American history, which was extra interesting in the German company. I'm not excited for the 2017 addition to that show. Bleh.
After the show was over, we headed back out to the castle when we realized it had mostly stopped raining. We did eventually put our ponchos back on for a little bit when it drizzled a bit more, but otherwise, everything was golden.
While we had been waiting in our spot, there had been a family near us the entire time. At one point, shortly before the fireworks, the man that had been standing beside me stepped away to grab something from someone else in the party and someone immediately came up and took his spot. NOPE. I, nicely, said, "Someone is already standing there." The stranger shot me a go to hell look as the guy came back to his spot to find someone there. He shrugged and started to head back to the other person and I said, "It's that guy right there. You're in his spot. He's been standing here for a while." The stranger realized I was going to press it, so they sighed and walked away.
The guy and his family thanked me for saving his spot. I explained that we'd all been there for over an hour AND through the rain and no bitches were taking our spots. Magic doesn't always come in big packages AND you don't have to be a Cast Member to be magical.
By the time the show started, the rain had completely stopped. It was as magical as I had anticipated. The best part about the rain was that the park cleared out, which made it way easier to get out of the park after the fireworks ended.
When we got back to the hotel, we made our way to our rooms and we all crashed hard.
Day Two: TuesdayI let the Germans "sleep in" on Tuesday. My goal was to be at the parks by 0830 since that's when HS opened. We had a quick breakfast at the hotel again, more Mickey waffles, to be sure, then we caught the bus. The bus ride was fast for me because I started up a conversation with the lady and her daughter that I was standing in front of. I feel like talking to people that you're crammed up against often helps remove a layer of miserableness from the situation.
We arrived at HS right as they opened. First things first, I went by guest services and got first timer pins for the Germans and Happily Ever After pins for Teh German and I, because duh. THEN, we got our picture taken.
I had scheduled our fast passes for the day at Epcot, so we had to wait in line for all the rides at HS, which is why it was imperative we arrive right as the park opened. Our first ride was Tower of Terror, which Teh German and I had ridden at Disneyland and really enjoyed. Aunt P sat that one out.
After Tower of Terror, we hit up the Aerosmith Rockin' Roller Coaster, since that is the other high demand ride. It was super awesome, but it felt really short. We waited in line for over an hour, despite what the wait time sign had said. 30 minutes into waiting, I remembered that there was a single rider line for the coaster, but since the single rider line was almost as long as the wait line, we just decided to power through it. This was another coaster that Aunt P didn't ride with us. Since we knew we'd be waiting a while, she ventured out on her own to explore the park.
After the coaster, we did some "rides" that Aunt P would go on. We watched the Muppets 3D show and rode The Great Movie ride. The lines were short for both, so it was no issue to wait. After the rides, we grabbed pizza for lunch since it was close and no waiting. After lunch, we decided to wait in one more line and then head to Epcot.
Our last ride was the Star Tours ride, which is a cool ride, except for me. 3D rides usually make my head hurt, but the 3D plus the giggling around really doesn't sit well for me. Add to that it was right after lunch? Yeah, I'm just glad I didn't puke. After Star Tours, I wanted to check the villains store for any cool stuff, but it doesn't exist anymore! I was super disappointed, but the cashier explained that there wasn't enough merchandise selling, so they had to incorporate non-villain items again. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
I did stop by a pin shop and picked up a few pins. The guy in front of me was obviously a serious trader and an annual passholder, so he bought $400 worth of pins! Pretty crazy. I spent $50. Some would say reasonable. I wanted to get a special engagement type pin for Teh German and I, so I picked up the I'll be your Minnie/I'll be your Mickey pins for us. I love the shirts, but I know that Teh German doesn't wear that type of shirt normally, so I didn't really want to waste the money on something that wouldn't get worn. Not that a pin gets worn that much, but he has them on his nightstand and we get to see them, which is cool.
Finally, we headed to the bus stop to catch the bus to Epcot. Of course, our first stop inside of Epcot was... pictures!
Our first fast pass wasn't until 5:30, so I knew we had some time. I remembered that Test Track has a single rider line, so that was our first ride. Aunt P, again, chickened out on us. Yet, it was a good time. I still like the Cars ride at Disneyland over Test Track, but Test Track is cool because you get to go so fast.
I knew I needed to go by the Chase Disney cardholder place to get a rewards redemption card and to see which characters they had hiding out. Unfortunately for me, these 2 things were not in the same place. After a hunt for the Chase character spot, and asking no less than 5 Cast Members where it was, we finally made it. I was flustered and frustrated, but Minnie and Pluto were there to hang out with.
After photos, we had some time, so we wandered into France and the UK. We didn't get very far, sadly, before we had to return back to the entrance area for our Soarin' fast passes. Soarin' is now the same at Disney World and Disneyland, so Teh German and I had already ridden the ride in September, but it is still one of my favorite rides, so I was pumped to ride it. Aunt P said that Soarin' was definitely her favorite.
We had dinner reservations at the Biergarten in Germany at 6. I told Teh German that I'd meet them at the Biergarten after getting my Disney rewards card. It took me longer than anticipated because I passed Guest Services and had to backtrack, ugh. Oh also, I had noticed that Baymax and Joy and Sadness were in the Character Spot and I almost lost my mind.. I considered waiting in line, but knew that for Baymax, I needed Teh German! Our personal hashtag is #Bahlalala, so it was imperative that he was with me.
When I got to Guest Services, instead of someone being able to do it for me right there, I had to call Chase to have the card activated and the money put on the card. BUTTTT, now that I have the redemption card, I can just call Chase and have my rewards added to the card at anytime. It's annoying, but it is what it is. With the card loaded, I booked it all the way across the park to Germany. On my way, Teh German texted me to tell me that they wouldn't seat them without me being there. Then I got another text to ask for someone in particular because they had seated them. Maybe the fact that they were all speaking German together helped?
A bit sweaty, I arrived about 3 minutes after they'd been seated. Teh German was amazed that everyone was actually from Germany/spoke German. I reminded him that I had tried to tell him, but he hadn't believed me. Of course the food wasn't 100% authentic, so it wasn't that big of a hit with our German guests, but Teh German definitely appreciated the effort to be as close to authentic as possible. The food was a buffet and there were many, manyyyy very German options. Also, the beer came in liter glasses, which was definitely a hit with Teh German.
The entertainment was a band on stage and the only part that was shunned by the German guests was the alpine horns, which the band had introduced as an Alpine regional thing, not necessarily a German thing. Otherwise, dinner was great. We were seated beside a family who were there on a St. Jude Make a Wish trip, which was cool. The wife asked me what the Germans thought of the food and we explained that they weren't overly impressed and she agreed with us that for American food, it was as close to authentic as they'd find. The family was very nice and the boys were well-behaved.
While we ate, I recalled what Mission: Space actually was, and we decided to forgo those fast passes since we had just eaten. Instead, we'd walk around the countries and then catch the fireworks show. Aunt P had also noticed the Nemo show that she wanted to see. We had Spaceship Earth fast passes shortly before the fireworks, so we would have a reason to be back around the park for the show to start.
We meandered through the countries for a bit, then headed back towards the entrance when our fast pass time came up. Aunt P agreed to ride Spaceship Earth since it wasn't a high thrill ride and I think she's glad she did. The personalized show at the end brought me so much joy.
|Fitting for a couple that just got engaged, yes?|
After Spaceship Earth, I explained that I really wanted to meet Baymax with Teh German and Aunt P could go watch the Nemo show without us. She wasn't upset by this since we were just going to be waiting in line.
|Aunt P didn't like this photo, but I think the face she is making is hilarious.|
After Baymax, I decided that I also wanted to meet Joy and Sadness, because duh! The line was longer than for Baymax and I knew that it would cut into my fireworks time. Teh German decided that he would rather see the show than meet Joy and Sadness, so I waited alone, in the good company of strangers, while they found a place to watch the show.
Waiting in line wasn't so bad because I have the ability to make friends wherever I go. While I was chatting with my co-waiters the time passed quickly. When I was 2ish families away, the Cast Member telling people when to come back started having a bit of fun behind my back to entertain the other people in line. He was imitating my hand gestures as I spoke or just silently standing behind me until I turned around. The other people in line were getting a great kick out of it, and he did some version of this 3 different times. It was amusing and I was feeling the magic, so even if he was being an asshole, I wasn't put off by it. Then it was my turn to meet Joy and Sadness!
Teh WJL and I joke that she is very much like Sadness, so it was extra special getting to meet her. Joy pointed out to Sadness that I had a Sadness pin and I got an extra hug. The show actually ended right as I met Joy and Sadness. When I finished my photos with Joy and Sadness, the Germans were waiting for me at the Character Spot entrance.
I asked for a few more photos on the way out since the ball was lit. They were groany about it, but acquiesced my request.
With our park days completed, we headed to the bus to catch a ride back to our hotel. We were all exhausted, so we agreed to meet at 0930 the next morning for breakfast.
Day Three: WednesdayInstead of getting an overpriced breakfast at the hotel, we jumped in Baloo and headed towards Daytona Beach for brunch. I distributed granola bars to everyone so no one would get overly hangry (...ok, so Teh German and I wouldn't get hangry). Stopping at Daytona Beach meant that the Germans could say they'd been to several east coast beaches and it got us away from Orlando relatively early. I also knew that Daytona wasn't far from I-95, so it wasn't really out of the way.
I found a place with good reviews on Yelp, The Cracked Egg, and we enjoyed huge portions and free refills (a joy that I forgot I should be grateful for since free refills aren't a thing in Germany). The service was good and one day when I get to doing the reviews for all the places I've checked into, they will definitely get 5 stars.
After foods were consumed, we hit the road. We stopped once for gas/an emergency bathroom break for me, then we were home. The dogs were still alive, so all was well. Teh German hadn't wanted to stop for dinner on our way into town, so I agreed that we could cook something simple (frozen pizzas) or I'd go back out and get something. I was about to do frozen pizzas when a distress signal was sent out from upstairs that the toilet was clogged and our guests couldn't use it. After a frantic search of the entire house, the plunger was no where to be found, which meant having to go out and buy one. Ugh.
I reluctantly agreed to pick up Chinese for dinner, even though I had wanted something more simple that each person wouldn't have to decide what they wanted, but Teh German wasn't a fan of my KFC idea since he felt that we'd been eating like garbage for the last week. Uuuuughhh. So I herded the dogs into the car to get them out of the house and we went to the dollar store for a plunger (and a new toilet brush) and then to the Chinese place to pick up dinner.
When I got home, Teh German had unpacked the suitcase because he's awesome. The dogs felt fulfilled that they had gotten to go on a ride. I was exhausted because I was getting over being sick, hadn't slept well or enough in days, and was tired of making decisions for people. We ate dinner and then it was bedtime.
_______________________________I happily call this short Disney trip, 100% magic, 100% successful, and 100% epic.
Not only did I get to show some Disney first-timers around the parks, my sickness didn't stop me from having a good time, even if people thought I was trying to do a Minnie voice when really I didn't have a voice at all, so I just sounded like that.
I had completely given up on a 2016 proposal, so Teh German surprised me in the biggest way. It was truly magical because for once, I wasn't expecting it.
If you're looking for a price breakdown, let me know in the comments and I can send you some figures. I think we averaged about $600 per person, including food, the tour, park tickets, and the hotel, which for a Christmas trip, seems pretty thrifty.