by Brittany DiCologero
In case you haven’t read our pre-trip report, here’s a quick rundown of what you’ve missed:
Who: Brittany & Theresa, with appearances by Cristian, Nora, Holly, Aly, Anthony, & more!
Where: All Star Music
When: August 22-30, 2016
Chaz was unable to go on this trip, so Theresa (my old roommate whose birthday was right before the trip) joined me instead! We were on a tight budget, more-so when planning this trip than when we were actually on it, which resulted in us booking our airfare through Southwest, which if you know me you know I hate. We stayed at All Star Music and added some last minute dining reservations that didn’t make it into our pre-trip report, so you’ll hear all about those as we go along!
I don’t like to dwell on flights in trip reports, because I (correctly?) assume that you probably care more about my Disney trip than my journey from Boston to Columbus to Orlando via Southwest, although you’ll have to stay tuned for the last segment of this trip report to hear about our return flight since that was actually interesting. Our flights down to Orlando were uneventful, and we landed on time at about 2:00 pm.
Though our seats were towards the back of the plane (which I HATE because it takes people so long to get off) we actually managed to arrive at the Magical Express check-in counter pretty quickly. Once there, we scanned our new, PURPLE Magic Bands and hopped on the bus, where we probably waited about 20 minutes to depart from Orlando International Airport. I only note this because I think this past trip was actually the longest I’ve ever waited to get going on the Magical Express bus, although of course 20 minutes isn’t really a long time.
When we arrived at All Star Music, we went right to the Online Check-In counter. We would not have needed to check-in in person, since we had the text alerts set up and would have been able to go straight to our room, however we only booked a deposit for the room so we still needed to stop at the front desk and pay the balance. (I paid the balance off using a Disney gift card I had been saving money on– this makes the cost of a Disney resort stay so much less painful!)
Our room was ready, so we were able to make a quick run over there and freshen up before heading out to the park. We were in the Rock Inn section of All Star Music, which is about in the middle of the resort– it’s not the furthest away from the main building, but it isn’t the closest either. The walk to our room really wasn’t bad, and the room itself was standard for what I’d expect for a room at one of the All Stars.
After quickly freshening up in the hotel room, we were off to the bus stop to catch the next bus to the Magic Kingdom! While Space Mountain is usually the first stop of any Disney trip for me, we were surprisingly hungry by the time we got to the park. First stop, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe! (Don’t worry, the Peoplemover and Space Mountain were not far behind!)
If you’ve been reading this blog, then you probably know that my favorite quick service restaurant in the Magic Kingdom has always been Cosmic Ray’s. Partially because I just love Tomorrowland and the food at Ray’s (toppings bar I’m looking at you), but mostly my favoritism towards Cosmic Ray’s is the result of this guy:
I’ve actually realized that my obsession with Sonny Eclipse is kind of random. Most people who are really attached to some random aspect of a Disney park usually have some kind of nostalgia factor to blame, but I had probably only been to Cosmic Ray’s a handful of times as a kid, and in that handful of times had only sat in Sonny’s room once or twice. (We usually went to Disney during 4th of July or school vacation week, meaning we usually ended up eating outside). I’m pretty sure my love for Sonny actually came from YouTube and various Disney forums… I don’t know what that’s saying about me, but hanging out with Sonny is really one of my favorite things to do in the Magic Kingdom!
We’ll get to the food later once Chaz and I work on our full review of Cosmic Ray’s, but as a preview: I actually strayed from my usual cheeseburger and got the chicken sandwich for a change… and I was pleasantly surprised! Theresa even got green beans, whattttt!?
We had a Fastpass for Space Mountain, but still had some time before our window opened, so we did what any self respecting Disney fans would do, and we rode the Peoplemover first. This was my first ride on the Peoplemover with the narration about the EPCOT model missing. I’m not sure where it went, but I hope it comes back soon! Progress City was the inspiration for Epcot, and many of its forward thinking ideas have been realized throughout Walt Disney World…
Space Mountain was next obviously, and it was especially exciting since Theresa hadn’t been on it in years. To be honest though, I was probably just as excited– even though Space Mountain isn’t my all time favorite ride, it’s my favorite ride to do as many times as possible.
Soon after our trip to Space circa 1975, we were on our way to Fantasyland as we had Fastpasses for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train soon. This trip report might make it sound like we were really rushing around that first day, but we actually weren’t. By this time it was only about 5:30 pm, and we were planning on having a relatively early night anyway since we were tired from our -wonderful- flightS (plural) on Southwest. (Okay, okay, I sound like a spoiled brat complaining about having stops, but seriously it’s a 3 hour flight, the stops are so frustrating. In any case, you know this means I was really on a strict budget when booking this trip because I wouldn’t otherwise have dealt with that).
Before our window rolled around for our Mine Train Fastpass, we decided to go to Mickey’s Philharmagic, which is one of my favorite Fantasyland attractions for a couple of reasons– it never really has a wait, and it never gets old. I thought it would get old eventually when I lived in Orlando and went to it all the time, but it surprisingly never did. If I found myself in the park wanting to do something without waiting in line, it was always a solid choice and I’m still not sick of it.
We went right from the gift shop next to Philharmagic over to Mine Train, which was exciting to do during the day. Most of my time in the Magic Kingdom since New Fantasyland opened has either been when I lived down there or during last minute trips, meaning I never really made Fastpasses in advance, and in most cases would end up riding Mine Train late at night when the line died down. This trip was also Theresa’s first time on Mine Train, and we both enjoyed it (especially because of the Fastpasses) and we really like the concept of this attraction being part classic, Fantasyland-style dark ride, and part rollercoaster.
Since this trip was in August, which is the hottest month of the year in Orlando, we spent some time sitting down and relaxing with cups of water after we got off the ride. (Water that was free from whichever nearby quick service restaurant we went to, probably Gaston’s Tavern, because paying for water in Disney is something you should never do. Asking for a cup of tap water can really save you a lot of money over the course of a trip compared to buying bottled water non-stop).
While we were hydrating, I got a text from Cristian, one of my best friends from the college program, saying that he would be able to meet us in the park soon. Knowing how long Cristian would probably take to get to the Magic Kingdom, we decided that we had plenty of time to ride Pirates of the Caribbean first, our last Fastpass of the day. So we headed over to Adventureland to visit Captain Jack Sparrow and the famous red head.
Pirates was probably at the best that I’ve seen it in a while, so it looks like the long refurbishment that it had last year really did help. (Are the water cannons now stronger, or did I make a poor decision for which side of the boat to sit on? Later in the trip we ended up in the front row, and like every poor soul who makes that mistake we greatly under-estimated how bad the splash after the drop would be).
We met up with Cristian after browsing the gift shop at Pirates, which is quite honestly a dangerous place for me to be as I’m always tempted to spend roughly about $400 in there.
In fact, story time: One time, I actually did frivolously spend a couple of hundred dollars in the Pirates of the Caribbean gift shop. In elementary school, we had this program that was supposed to teach us about banking, where each week we brought some quarters into school and put them into a little coin holder that the teacher or some other unknown person would then bring to the bank and put into our bank accounts. When I graduated from St. Mary’s we add the option to actually open an account at this bank and keep saving money there or withdraw the cash we had saved. Being the responsible person that I was/am, I chose to withdraw the money and bring it on my next trip to Disney, where I spent all $300 of it in the Pirates of the Caribbean gift shop. I’m sure I’m missing some things, but among my purchases were at least 4 or 5 t-shirts, earrings, a necklace, bracelet, a bunch of pins, a jewelry box, ear hat, iron on patches, a poster of Jack Sparrow, a sweatshirt, and who knows what else… This was 2006 after all, $300 in a gift shop went a little bit further 10 years ago.
Moral of the story: There is a way to teach children how to save money, but taking all that they have for money on a weekly basis and tempting them with how much they’ve saved that they can’t do anything with when they have no concept of finances whatsoever except that saving quarters is apparently good, isn’t going to work. I considered my $300 a graduation present to myself, and while it was a lot to have saved from quarters alone, 13 year old Brittany knew that saving $300 again once she started working wouldn’t be impossible. So there you have it, in 2006 I spent an entire bank account in the Pirates of the Caribbean gift shop, and I have no regrets… except maybe the shirts, in retrospect I kind of wish I bought more things I could wear as an adult. While I don’t fit into pre-high school shirts, I do still wear the earrings I bought!
Back to the trip report: We finally had Cristian with us, which I was looking forward to so much since I had not seen him since our college program! Before this trip, the last time I saw Cristian was in May of 2015, when he hugged Chaz and I and we said our good-byes on our last night of the program in the Magic Kingdom. While I had been to Disney since then, Cristian was back in California until fairly recently when he started another college program.
With Cristian, we came up with a new game plan to ride Space Mountain again (because why not? But also because getting a picture on Space Mountain with all 3 riders being people you know is always worth doing) and we decided to get ice cream, some celebration buttons, and then hop on the monorail and run over to the Polynesian to go to Trader Sams.
With our ice cream, and a root beer float from Auntie Gravity’s down, we were off to Main Street to pick up some celebration buttons and head to the Polynesian! You may remember from our last trip report that my celebration button read, “I’m celebrating… quitting my job!” Well I’m happy to report that this trip, I got a button to celebrate my new job! As of July, I have been working as an administrative assistant in a local tourism office, and I love it there so far! Also encompassed in the “new job” celebration is another -small- detail about my work life, but all will be explained in time with that one…
Theresa’s button was for her birthday, which was just a couple of days before our trip, and Cristian’s was probably the best button if we’re being totally honest here. (Or mine, since having a job is important and I kind of need that). All kidding aside, we didn’t want Cristian to be left out as the only one without a celebration button, and this did kind of make sense since it had been more than a year since we last saw each other. If only it were the rest of our friends in the LNC (long story for another time), then we could have gotten family reunion buttons… next time!
We ultimately decided to leave the park around 6:30 and go to Trader Sams because we wanted to have a somewhat early night, and we didn’t really want to wear ourselves out in the parks too much on our first day. Trader Sam’s was a perfect choice, because both Theresa and Cristian had never been, and I was looking forward to getting something other than the Nautilus, (which although I love and basically treat as if it were my child, I’m not planning on ordering a $54 drink again anytime soon).
There was a short wait for Trader Sam’s, which was kind of unusual I thought considering how the park seemed relatively quiet. (In addition to this week being the beginning of the “off season,” Orlando tourism in general was noticeably down due to the unfortunate events of that summer). But Trader Sam’s was still busy- which clearly means that it’s one of the best places in Walt Disney World… to get a drink.. for $54… after drinking around the wor– I mean what? Who would do that? Crazy…
Since I was not going to be ordering the Nautilus again (although without purchasing the souvenir glass it is in a somewhat more affordable price range, it’s also way too much hard alcohol) I ended up ordering the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum! Theresa ordered the same, although little did I know at the time that she had never been in the Enchanted Tiki Room, so she didn’t quite get the joke then. Don’t worry, she experienced the Tropical Serenade soon enough.
Cristian ordered the Hippopotomaitai, which as you’d imagine was Trader Sam’s twist on the classic Mai Tai. We’ll go into more detail about our most recent experience at Trader Sam’s later in a full review, but to keep it short for this report, the drinks were excellent and so was the service (for the most part, some of the servers did have some fun making Theresa think she was already drunk by lowering her bar stool, which was hilarious) and we will all definitely be going back!
It was only around 8:30 pm when we left Trader Sam’s, which is a very early night for me in Disney, but it was totally fine because we didn’t want to be out late anyway, and we did want to beat the post-Wishes rush. Unfortunately we had to leave Cristian at the Polynesian, as the college program bus would be picking him up there, but we needed to get the monorail to the Magic Kingdom to get our bus back to All Star Music.
Click here to read part 2!