Let’s Take a Vacation: Day 5

At about 6:15 AM, we welcomed and began preparations for our third full day at Walt Disney World. As usual, we started to get ready for the day, and then headed down to BoardWalk Bakery to pick up breakfast. This time around, I got a chocolate chip muffin and coffee. We ate breakfast in our room, and I sat on the balcony and savored my delicious meal. I had some pictures taken of me on the balcony, as I wanted to have some memories from our last full day at the BoardWalk archived.

Once we were done with breakfast, we finished getting ready for the day and left for Epcot. Earlier in the morning, we noticed a sign that said International Gateway would not be open for entry until 9:00 AM due to the running events occurring during the week, which we were a bit concerned about. Once our short walk to International Gateway was completed at about 8:35 AM, we were let in, which was a relief.

Although some people dislike entering Epcot through International Gateway for rope drop because of its isolation from most of the headlining attractions, I really enjoy walking by the glowing and relatively empty World Showcase pavilions in the morning. For a short while, we considered going over to Frozen Ever After first, but since Soarin’ Around the World was the one very popular attraction at Epcot that we did not have a FastPass for at any time throughout our vacation, we decided to make Soarin’ the priority this morning.

The park did not feel crowded yet, so we took a somewhat leisurely walk (which included picture-taking) over to The Land pavilion.

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Hello, monorail!

Once we got into the queue, the wait was not too long; we were probably in line for fifteen minutes. We did have fun with the game that can be played while in the line, and became very excited when we realized that we would be in the top row and in the middle section of the theater. After paying attention to some important safety information from our chief flight

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Hello, The Land!

attendant, Patrick, we boarded the attraction. I definitely enjoyed the new film, although the CGI was noticeable. There definitely were a few “goosebumps” moments for me, though, and I think we benefited from our prime seating. Next, we walked over to Test Track to see how long the wait time was. Sadly, the line was already quite long, so most of us went back to Journey into Imagination with Figment, as one does, while a family member went on Mission: SPACE. We took some pictures on the way there, since the park still felt fairly empty.

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Of course, the wait was not very long, and we were soon onboard for the zany adventure. I know that this attraction is not as wonderful as it was in previous incarnations (I am always reminded by the Disney fandom), but I still really enjoy it. After we exited the attraction itself, I designed by own Figment and emailed it to myself. I was then happy to see that there were some amazing pieces of merchandise with Figment on them, which I adored but did not purchase. Someday I will purchase the Figment hoodie…someday.

img_1173Our following stop was at The Seas with Nemo & Friends, which is another pavilion that most say was better as The Living Seas (see, it is a trend with most Epcot pavilions), which I will not deny. Anyways, my family has become more and more appreciative of this pavilion, and we have been spending lots of time looking at the amazing exhibits. We first went on the dark ride, which was cute, but I am pretty sure I annoyed one of the cast members at the boarding area with my determination to go right in the next open shell. I am so sorry, cast member! Seriously, though, I felt so bad afterwards.

Once we exited the attraction, we looked at the amazing aquatic life for a while. We saw a manatee, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, and lots of other beautiful fish.

I was determined to see Ellen’s Energy Adventure afterwards, but most of my family did not want to; instead, they wanted to go on Spaceship Earth. Now, I am a huge fan of Spaceship Earth, but I knew that this specific time slot was the only one in which we could

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Hello, Spaceship Earth!

go to the Universe of Energy pavilion on this trip (which is rumored to be closing somewhat soon). It turned out that Spaceship Earth had a long line at the time, so I was able to convince my family to see Ellen’s Energy Adventure.

The attraction is certainly outdated, but I still adore it. Any experience that includes Ellen DeGeneres, Alex Trebek, Bill Nye, and educational information is bound to be a favorite of mine. Our specific viewing this time around was typical, but there was someone looking at their phone (which must have been on full brightness) for a while, which peeved me a bit. Otherwise, I always find the lengthy attraction to not feel long, and most of the guests around us seemed to enjoy it too.

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Picture with the pavilion taken just in case it closes before our next trip

It was then time for lunch. We split up once again, and I went to Sunshine Seasons along with a family member. It was crowded, but we were able to get our favorite meals there, mine of which is the Oak-grilled Rotisserie Chicken with Black Beans and Yellow Rice. It was especially delicious today, and I found everything to be properly cooked and very flavorful. We also split the Key Lime Tart for dessert, which was delicious. The rest of our family joined us there, and we headed out of The Land at about 12:00 PM. As we left, I had pictures taken of me with the mosaic outside, because it is my favorite “Disney wall” and has been the lock screen on my phone for months now.

On our way to World Showcase, we stopped in MouseGear and admired the Epcot merchandise. When walking towards the Mexico pavilion, we really appreciated the gorgeous weather and views offered at Epcot (in the form of lots of pictures). Once we finally arrived at the Mexico pavilion, we went inside and went on Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros, which is yet another dark ride that I enjoy. I was soon delighted to see the talented Mariachi Cobre outside, so we stopped to watch them for a bit before walking over to the Norway pavilion and looking through the new area there.

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Norway

Our first order of business in the next pavilion, China, was to get one of my favorite drinks at Walt Disney World: the Strawberry Oolong Tea Slush at the Joy of Tea. It was incredibly refreshing, and we shared it while walking through the fascinating Shanghai Disneyland Resort exhibit inside the pavilion. I really hope to visit the resort soon, as it looks incredible!

After the walk-through, we moved along to the Germany pavilion, in which we browsed the shops, continued our tradition of purchasing Haribo Gummy Bears, and watched the miniature trains go by. The next dscn9485pavilion was Italy, and we looked through their gift shops and took a luck at the menus for dscn9488the restaurants there. Following that visit, we walked past The American Adventure pavilion to get to Japan. We took a quick look in the Mitsubishi Department Store and found some items we wanted to purchase, but waited until our next Epcot visit to buy them (spoiler alert: we sadly never made it back there on this trip). Since we were a bit pressed for time, we quickly walked through the stunning Morocco pavilion and walked by the France pavilion. I was hoping to stay for a while longer dscn9491in order to see the band Quickstep in the United Kingdom, but my family was eager to get back to the BoardWalk. Since our feet were exhausted at this point, some of us took a ride on a Friendship Boat back to our resort. We sat in the back, and the views were gorgeous and great for picture-taking.

Once we stepped off of the boat, I believe we may have gone inside the gift shops for a bit, but either way, we were back inside our room after a short amount of time. We relaxed for

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Gorgeous flowers at the BoardWalk

a bit, started to feel sorrowful about leaving the BoardWalk the next day, and then went to the Quiet Pool to relax for about fifteen minutes. There were a good amount of people there, and I dipped my feet in the pool while feeling grateful for our now half-over vacation. When we started to go back to our room, I asked my parents if they could see if there were any cancellations at the resort that would allow us to stay there for the rest of our trip (we were switching resorts because the BoardWalk was fully booked for the rest of the week when we made our reservations). They loved the idea, so I sat in the lobby and anxiously awaited the results, but alas, they were still fully booked. We moped back to our room, and then I ate my leftover school bread while relaxing for a bit longer and coping with the halfway-point blues. Although I was quite sad, I built up some excitement to visit Animal Kingdom at night for the first time; I even put on my elephant shirt, which maybe was a bit too on-the-nose.

Since Animal Kingdom was closing at 7:00 PM, we left our resort at about 4:00 PM. A bus arrived fairly soon, so we went on board and were on our way. There was actually only one other family on the bus with us, and they were dropped off at the Dolphin resort soon after we were picked up, so we ended up being the only group on the bus. After the brief drive, we arrived at the perfect place to have a wild time, Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

The cast members at the entrance were especially nice this afternoon, which I appreciated. Once we were admitted into the park, we immediately walked over to Expedition Everest in order to redeem our FastPasses. This was actually the one time in which I had to be instructed “Mickey to Mickey” since I was taking so long to scan my MagicBand; I was due for an ego check, though. Our wait to board the attraction was about ten minutes long, which was not too bad, and it was cool to see the personalized signs in the queue (not many people seemed to notice them as they walked by).

The attraction was amazing at sunset, and in fact, seeing the entire park at “golden hour” was amazing. The guests around us in the back rows were quite enthusiastic, and I was joyfully screaming throughout the ride. I used to be terrified of this attraction, as my first time on it was jarring for me, but I am definitely glad to have overcome my fear of it.

After we exited the attraction, we had a hard time deciding what exactly to do next, as our next FastPass time slot was approaching. We started to walk towards Flame Tree Barbecue, and while my family was deciding when to eat dinner, I watched a couple of the entertainment acts performing across the street (I also went into a gift shop in-between them, of course). Specifically, I saw the Discovery Island Carnivale and the Discovery Island Sunset Serenatas. Both of the acts were amazing and brought even more energy to the park, and their ability to engage the guests walking by was wonderful to see. While watching, though, we saw a little kid who was lost and trying to find his parents with the help of some cast members; we were concerned and felt bad for the child, but I actually saw him later on with his family, which was a relief.

It was then time to use our next FastPass, which was for Kilimanjaro Safaris. Even though it is an amazing attraction and one of my favorites, I had seen mixed reviews of the experience at nighttime, so I was interested to see how it was. The wait was not long, and we were placed in the front row of the vehicle. I cannot remember the name of the cast member guiding us, but she did a good job. It was pretty dark at this time, so we did not see many animals, but the highlight of the experience was when we saw the lions. We saw multiple female lions and a male lion, and a female lion actually roared at us multiple times. Seriously. It was an insane and spectacular experience.

After this great safari, the park was already almost closed. We were still deciding where to go to dinner at this point, which was a bit frustrating for me, as someone who hates “winging” things. I had previously suggested going to Animal Kingdom Lodge after the closing of the park to have dinner and explore, and this idea was neither denied nor confirmed. As a result, as we were walking towards the Tree of Life and exiting the park later on, different scenarios were thrown into consideration.

Before exiting, I made sure to watch a couple of the Tree of Life Nighttime Awakenings. The short projection shows were just as great as I had heard they were, and seeing everyone waiting for each one to occur and clapping at the conclusion of each of them was nice to see.

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As we exited the park, I took some pictures in hopes that they would capture the wonderful atmosphere of Animal Kingdom at night. I must say that I am very glad Animal Kingdom has become a full-day park, and I am incredibly excited for the upcoming additions!

We left Animal Kingdom at right about 7:00 PM. I wish I was able to stay longer so I could have walked through the empty park for a little while, but alas, we were determined to eat dinner soon and beat the crowds to the busses. After some debate, we did commit to my original idea of visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The wait for the bus was short, and we took the crowded bus on the very brief ride to the resort.

Animal Kingdom Lodge truly is one of my favorite resorts, and this appreciation of mine has grown over the past few years as I have learned more about it from others. I was so excited to see the stunning resort for the second Walt Disney World trip in a row, as it is such a welcoming yet unique area. We headed right from the bus stop at Jambo House through the crowds IMG_1190.JPGnear Boma to get to The Mara, which is their quick-service restaurant. A lot of unique items are offered there, so we were excited to try some of them out. I ordered the Braai Chicken Flatbread (which had chicken, sun-dried tomato pesto, bacon, red onion, mozzarella, and Sag Dahi ranch on it), and while we were all ordering, we noticed that the cast member helping us was actually a student of the college I am attending. It was so awesome to see another student like me working for Disney, and this experience made me even more determined to participate in the Disney College Program someday.

Anyway, the food was delicious. The flavors of the flatbread were so delightful (even though I took off the red onions right away because they can irritate my stomach), and it tasted very fresh. Some of my family members were raving about a cupcake they were sharing, and even me, a skeptic, found it to be scrumptious. My family was rushing me during this meal even more than usual, from what I remember, though. I am actually pretty sure that I was three-quarters of the way done with my flatbread when the rest of my family members were done eating or were eating dessert. Oops.

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Blurry picture of the Braai Chicken Flatbread

There was some concern that we would not be able to catch a bus going near the BoardWalk, which I tried to dispel. Regardless, we still quickly left the resort after going to the bathroom and the gift shop first. I had hoped to look at more of the resort, but I was grateful to be able to see it (and a sweet moment in the lobby in which a cast member was instructing children on how to play the drums) at all on our vacation.

Of course, a bus for Hollywood Studios departed right as our entire family reached the bus stop. It worked out well, though, because a bus for my beloved Epcot arrived just moments later. Fate is how I would describe this occurrence, as it was delightful to have the day come full circle; we were able to start and end the day at Epcot, with visits to the BoardWalk, Animal Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom Lodge in between for good measure. Since the park was closing at 9:00 PM and it was getting late, there were not many other people on the bus. The ride was fairly short, and once we arrived at the Epcot bus stop at about 8:45 PM, we power-walked over to become admitted into the park. The cast members at the entrance seemed to be in a good mood, as one of them asked me how I fit the white rabbit in my purse. I was at Walt Disney World, so I said “Magic” in response. He seemed pleased with my answer.

We soon had to resist the temptation to take advantage of the short wait times that were posted for all of the attractions in order to make it to World Showcase in time to see IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. It has essentially become a requirement on our vacations to see the nighttime spectacular at least three times every trip, so we could not let that tradition end. The various members of my family were walking at various speeds once we entered the park, so we ended up in completely different spots; in addition, one family member was not very interested in seeing the show and instead went to purchase a sweatshirt to help cope with the chilly weather we were encountering. I ended up beside the gift shop that is on the left when walking from the sidewalk in line with Spaceship Earth towards World Showcase. Just moments after we stopped walking, we watched IllumiNations. The people around us were pretty enthusiastic about it, which made me joyful. As always, it was an amazing show that I hold close to my heart.

After it ended, we sat on a bench across the way to wait for the shopping family member to reunite with us. Once we met back up with the help of a phone call, we walked towards International Gateway and saw the rest of our family on the way out. Since it was our last night as BoardWalk guests for this vacation, we savored the walk back to the resort. I believe we saw more performers this night, specifically one that I remembered seeing inside the resort a few years back doing card tricks. Our family loves this performer, so despite the fact that he finished his performance just a minute after we noticed him, it was great to see him once again. I saw his name while he was performing and assumed that I would be able to remember it later, but I cannot. I am kind of disappointed in myself, because I made this exact mistake the last time I saw him as well. It think “S” is how his name starts, though. Okay, I really am rambling now.

Anyway, we soon walked back to our room at the BoardWalk and began to pack up our items that were scattered around the room in order to prepare for our switching of resorts the next day. It was a bit sad, but we still had two more days of fun at Walt Disney World ahead of us.

Stay tuned to see how our next day went as we went back to Animal Kingdom, went off property for a couple hours (*gasp*), transferred resorts, and ended the day at Magic Kingdom. Clearly, it was a day of enjoying kingdoms!

Have a magical day!

-Stephanie

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