Thursday, February 18, 2010

Exploring the Magic Kingdom all by myself

Why yes, that IS a giant crane behind the castle

Monday, January 18

We're up bright and early (that's the ONLY way to do things while at WDW) - Kevin has to head to a trade show breakfast and I have to catch the bus to the Magic Kingdom. I want to be there AT rope drop!

I should mention that it is Martin Luther King Jr day - so I am a bit surprised when I arrive at the MK gates and the crowd is rather small. I'm thinking this could be a good thing! The park opens right on time and I walk in slowly, taking it all in! First things first - I must eat breakfast, so I head into the Main Street Bakery and grab a quick bite to eat.

Then, I head out - ready to explore the Magic Kingdom on MY schedule and and MY pace. This is a new kids, no husband, nobody is crying or whining or dragging behind. It is pure MAGIC! Within 45 minutes I am able to ride (with NO waits!) Peter Pan, it's a small world, the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. The best part of my ride on it's a small world -- I had a boat all to myself! The cast member said "enjoy your private cruise!"

Around 10 a.m., Kevin called and said his seminars were boring and he was headed to the MK to spend the rest of the day with me. (So much for exploring on my own! I'm kidding!!!! I was very happy he was meeting me!). I hadn't noticed that the crowd had grown -- until I waked back to Main Street and it was as though the floodgates and opened. There were people everywhere! It was apparent that today WAS going to be busy!

Once Kevin arrived (around 10:30 a.m.) we headed to Space Mountain to get our Fastpass (return time 2:00 p.m.) and then decided we were going to spend the day doing things we can't/don't do when we have the kids with us -- riding the 'big' rides, etc. First on the schedule - Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The wait time was only 30 minutes so we skipped the Fastpass and stood in line -- and we were able to ride in the FRONT car! So much fun!

After the ride, I talked to my Disney Twitter friend Don and we met up with him and his wife Mary at Aloha Aisle for a Dole Whip and some conversation! I love meeting my online friends in real life! It was as if we had known each other for years -- we sat in the sunshine for 2 hours, talking about Disney!

Me and Don enjoying our Dole Whip floats!

After we said good-bye to Don and Mary, we headed back to Space Mountain with our Fastpasses. I think I forgot (or blocked out) how scary this ride is. I was terrified the entire time! But it was fun ... and it is a must do ride when you're at the MK!

One of my favorite places to grab a bite to eat at the MK is Casey's Corner - it's just hot dogs and fries -- but it's so good. Somehow we lucked out and found a table outside just as the afternoon parade was starting!

I have to say this - going to Disney without your kids is such a strange experience - we didn't stand in line to meet the characters, no one had a mid-day meltdown, we didn't feel rushed. But at the same time, we missed the girls terribly and kept repeating "oh the girls would love this!" We've already decided that if we do (1) the trade show or (2) the social media conference next year we ARE taking the kids.

After our late lunch, we headed to the Hall of Presidents and then had another 'first' - we rode the Liberty Belle Riverboat. Then, we decided to take the train from Frontierland to Main Street because we needed to do some shopping! (Yes, I said "needed"!). After much debate we finally found something cute for the girls (who had NO idea we were at Disney World!) and then it was time for Mickey's PhilharMagic (another first for us).

By now it was getting dark which meant it was almost time for SpectroMagic and Wishes. We found a spot in the Hub, grabbed some popcorn and waited for the parade to start. Near the end of the parade I decided we should find a new, less crowded spot to watch Wishes - so we headed down Main Street to the train station and let me say this -- it is just as magical watching the fireworks from that location!

After shedding a few tears (Wishes always makes me cry)....we said good-bye to the MK and headed back to the resort. I had just spent 12 hours at the MK - without an afternoon break - and I was exhausted! Even without the kids, we had managed to have a magical, memorable day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Finally! A trip report from January!

At Epcot

Yes, I realize it's now February and Kevin and I went to WDW a month ago ... but things have been busy (and I just returned from another trip to Disney!).

So, without further ado....our January trip report!

Day 1 - Sunday, January 17

Our flight to Orlando started out 'normal' - meaning we were squished in like sardines, but excited to be heading to Disney. Then, an hour into the flight we hear an announcement "If there are any doctors or EMTs on board please notify a flight attendant." Oh no. This cannot be good.

A few rows ahead of us we see a bunch of people surrounding a man who seems unresponsive. Then a few minutes later we are informed that we're making an emergency landing in Cincinnati so that paramedics can take the sick passenger off the plane. We land in Cincy and sit at the gate for an hour - and all they serve is us WATER. Yeah, just water. The flight attendants claim they can't give us anything else.

Finally we are back in the air and headed to Orlando once again. And, after the WORST LANDING EVER we're off the plane and headed to our resort.

For Kevin's conference/trade show we are staying at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort - one of the moderate resorts on property. I'm quite excited since we've never stayed here - and I was not disappointed! The grounds are beautiful as is the main building/lobby.

As Kevin is checking in, I head over to the concierge desk to buy park tickets. We know we won't be making it to Epcot anytime before 4 p.m., so I'm dreading spending $79 per person for a 1-day ticket when we're only going for half a day. Imagine my surprise when I'm told that as a conference guest we can buy "after 4 p.m." tickets for $40 a piece!

After taking our bags to the room, we are finally on our way to Epcot.

We wander through the world showcase for a while, stopping in France for a delicious cheese plate (seriously, one of the best things I've eaten at Epcot). Then, we walk over to the Boardwalk Resort, since we have reservations at Kouzzina by Cat Cora - a new restaurant at the WDW resorts.

Let me just say - I loved Kouzzina! The dining room is warm, inviting and looks into the open kitchen! At various times during our meal we heard "OPA!" being shouted in the kitchen.

We started our meal with the appetizer sampler platter. My favorite item was the warm pita bread and the Kalamata olives (they were served warmed in olive oil).

For our main dish, we decided to 'be adventurous' and order something we would not normally eat - the whole fish! Our waitress said this was one of her favorite things on the menu and it did not disappoint! The fish really is WHOLE when it comes to your table - head, tail and everything in between. However, they will remove the head and tail for you and just leave the rest of the fish (which is exactly what we did - I didn't want the fish staring at us while we dined!)

After dinner, we were too full for dessert (plus, I really wanted dessert from France!) we headed back to Epcot.

There were two things we really wanted to ride - Test Track and Soarin' - but of course, the Fastpasses were gone for both rides. The wait for Test Track was about 120 minutes (no way I'm waiting that long for anything!), but the wait for Soarin' was only 45 minutes. This was do-able.

We met a very nice couple in line who told us that we HAD to ride in the front row - so we waited with them for that sought after front row seat. It was so worth the extra 10 minute wait! This ride quickly became one of my all-time favorite rides at Epcot!

After Soarin' we had just enough time to wander through the world showcase (not really stopping in any countries) and we made it to France with about 5 minutes to spare before everything closed for Illumiations - Reflections of Earth.

After Illuminations we headed back to the Boardwalk to catch a bus to Downtown Disney (yes, we were trying to fit several days worth of 'stuff' into one day!). I was on a mission - find the Dooney & Bourke Disney wristlet! I knew they were at at least one or two shops in Downtown Disney and no matter how tired I was or how much my feet hurt, I was going to find that purse!

After nearly running to World of Disney, we discovered that the white wristlet was nowhere to be found. However, the very nice cast member said "check TrendD" -- so we ran past the Ghiradelli ice cream shop and finally!!!! I found my purse! I looked at 10 different 'versions' of the wristlet before choosing the perfect one.

Now, we could return to our room.

Mission: Accomplished.

Up next: Rope drop by myself at the Magic Kingdom. And Dole Whip!