March/April 2016 Trip Report: Part 1

by Brittany DiCologero

Who: Mostly me (Brittany) and Chaz, but also Natalie, Nora, Aly, Sara, Anthony, Tony, and the cast and crew of Lights, Motors, Action!

What: A Disney trip obviously.

Where: All Star Music (Broadway section!)

When: March 30 – April 6

Why: Because why not? But really though, this was a fairly last minute trip that we planned when we found out that Lights, Motors, Action! was closing on April 2. We had to be there for the last show!

Pre-trip

This trip was actually going to originally be a solo trip for me. As soon as I found out that Lights, Motors, Action! (my work location during the Disney College Program) was closing, I knew I wanted to be there for the last show. Since we only found out the show was closing in January, and we’d have to be there for April 2 to make the last show, I didn’t expect that anyone else would be able to come with me.

I ended up getting a good passholder rate at All Star Music, and booked the cheapest flights I could find on Jet Blue (needed to get those airline points for my next trip!) and planned that I was definitely going, but potentially alone. I wouldn’t have minded going alone, as I’d obviously meet up with friends there, and it would give me plenty of time to photograph various things in the parks and get some work done, but of course having someone to go with would have been much better.

Chaz’s hours at work were reduced due to budget cuts right before our January trip, and by time we came back he was hardly working and actively looking for a new job. This unfortunate turn of events meant that paying for a trip, and getting the time off in case he did get a new job, didn’t look like things that were going to happen. All of this was extra unfortunate because it turned out that I would be away for his birthday.

Although the only day I really needed to be in Orlando for was April 2, I got such a good deal on the resort that staying for a week made more sense. I was also in the process of transitioning between jobs, which made this week ideal as it was after my two weeks were over at my previous job and without going into too much detail I’ll just put it this way– it was a job worth celebrating when it was over… hence the celebration buttons you might come across in some pictures.

As soon as I had booked the trip, I began asking other friends if they’d want to come along. I even offered to cover the entire cost of the hotel room, because I’d already paid for it, and was planning on going either way, and of course I knew that cost would be one reason why friends wouldn’t want to go last minute. Natalie, my friend from the college program, ended up taking me up on the offer and spent a few days of the trip with us, and Sara (another college program friend who I actually only knew through the Facebook groups) decided to come down at the same time as well.

A couple of weeks before I was planing on leaving, Chaz was offered a job, and learned that he would not be starting until after I returned from my Disney trip– meaning that in theory he could go. However after having been basically out of work for the past few months, he did not feel that he was in a stable enough financial state to justify a vacation. That’s when his parents swooped in to help, giving him his park tickets and airfare for his birthday, which happened to be during the trip! On March 29, it was official, Chaz, Natalie, and I would be in Disney together again!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Typically when Chaz and I go to Walt Disney World, we try to get on the earliest possible flight so that we can spend most of the first day enjoying the parks. Since this was a last minute, heavily budgeted trip, we ended up going with a later flight, landing in the Orlando International Airport at 4:00 pm.

We had used the Magical Express, and were able to skip baggage claim and head right to the resort, where we dropped our carry on bags in our room and headed immediately to the bus stop. Although we were obviously excited to get right to the parks, we actually had dinner reservations at the Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge. So we switched buses at the Magic Kingdom, and we at Wilderness Lodge just in time for our dinner reservation with Aly, another friend from our college program!

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It was Aly’s first time at Whispering Canyon, and Chaz’s first time there for his birthday, which led to some hilarious moments with the other birthday-celebrating guests and the cast members working there. You can read about all of this, and the rest of our meal, in our full review of Whispering Canyon here.

After dinner, Aly headed out although we would see her more throughout the rest of the trip, and Chaz and I went to the Magic Kingdom for Extra Magic Hours. We only had a couple of hours in the park that night, so we did all of our usual go-to attractions– Space Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc…

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While we did stay in the park until close, we were thoroughly exhausted from having spent the rest of the day traveling and eating what probably amounted to twice our body weights at Whispering Canyon. We were both very excited to play around with my new camera in the parks, but we were also getting a bit delusional from being so tired by that point, so finally we decided it was time to go back and get a good night’s sleep for the next day.

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

The next day, Epcot was on the agenda as I had surprised Chaz that morning with lunch reservations at Chefs de France for his birthday. Being that the International Flower and Garden Festival was still going on, we planned on spending most of the day in World Showcase.

Flower and Garden Festival is one of my favorite times to be in Disney. Although it’s no Food and Wine Festival we really do love seeing all of the different topiaries and garden displays, and some of the food/drink kiosks are home to our favorite Epcot snacks as well.

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Another important stop anytime we haven’t been to Epcot in a while (or Animal Kingdom or Animal Kingdom Lodge) is to get a Safari Amber! As much as I love the charm of having certain items only be available in certain places, I would not complain if we could buy this at our local liquor store. Perhaps I’m just bitter because when we lived in Orlando we could have Safari Amber all the time…

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Before getting to lunch at France, we stopped and watched the American Adventure, and wandered through the shops in Japan. While in Japan, we came across another guest trying on a kimono, and something just snapped in Chaz that made him want to try it on. It just looked so comfortable and so for whatever reason he had to try it.

I’ve actually never tried on any of the kimonos in Japan, but it was a fun experience as they have a cast member help you get it on, and essentially teach you about the correct way to wear it. One the kimono was on, Chaz loved how comfortable it was, but ultimately decided against it because he just couldn’t figure out a time when he would wear it other than that exact moment. Oh well, something to add to the list of useless things we’ll buy when we win the lottery, haha.

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Once we had decided against buying what Chaz describes as “one of the most comfortable things [he’s] ever worn,” it was time for our lunch reservation in France. After having dined at Chefs de France last year with Chaz and my mom, we actually think it’s one of the most underrated restaurants in Epcot. I never hear of too many people I know actually eating there, although the restaurant always looks busy and the food is really good.

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We also loved the birthday dessert Chaz got (that we shared of course) from Chefs de France. Anything that even remotely resembles a strawberry shortcake is just fine with me. And I love that the candle was in the strawberry rather than the cake– such classy, much wow. If you want to hear more about Chefs de France, you can read our full review here.

By this time, Aly was just getting into the park, so we looped back around to Future World to meet up with her and do some of the things we had missed earlier in the day. Along the way we came across some rare characters, that you don’t normally see out and about in the parks, so of course we had to stop and meet them!

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When we got back to Future World, we met Aly right outside of Club Cool. I have a love/hate relationship with Club Cool. I love the concept of going somewhere where you can try free samples of sodas from around the world, and I love making my friends try the Beverly and laughing at their expense but… I actually don’t like soda… at all… or anything carbonated, like champagne, seltzer water, or whatever else could potentially have bubbles in it. S0 Club Cool is fine, but mostly because I enjoy laughing at people who try the Beverly:

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Sorry Aly!

Because we love World Showcase, and because we really had no other plans for the day, we ended up going back to World Showcase with Aly. But first, let’s stop to take a picture in front of a topiary pretending to be a butterfly, obviously.

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With this walk around World Showcase Lagoon, we stopped at some of the countries we’d gone through quickly or skipped entirely the first time around. This extra walk around was perfect because it gave us plenty of time to catch up with Aly since we had not seen her for about a year, since our college programs ended. 🙁

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We also ended up trying some of the food from the kiosks this time around, or Chaz did anyway. One of the things that he never got around to trying during our program was the frushi, which is one of the more popular items from the Flower and Garden Festival kiosks. While it really wasn’t my thing, because I’m probably allergic to some of the fruit in it,  Chaz really enjoyed it and it’s probably the closest thing to actual sushi that he’ll ever get.

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During our last lap around World Showcase Lagoon, we had heard from Nora, another one of our college program friends who had stayed in Orlando after the program. She was getting off work in about an hour or so, and we made plans to meet her for ice cream at Beaches and Cream.

Since we had some time, we walked over to the Yacht and Beach Club and took our time going through some of the shops and taking photos along the way.

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By the time Nora met us at Beaches and Cream, we were all actually hungry again. We were originally planning on ordering the Kitchen Sink, since Chaz and I have never tried it before, however since we knew we all wanted dinner as well we didn’t think it made sense to do both in this visit. Beaches and Cream was amazing, and I really can’t wait to go back some time and try the Kitchen Sink. I had actually never been, and I was pleasantly surprised. The menu really has a lot of fun and different things on there, like the Guinness Float that Chaz ordered… literally an ice cream float made with Guinness instead of soda. You can read our full review of Beaches and Cream here.

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Now that we were stuffed with dinner and ice cream, the four of us hopped into Nora’s car to get back to the resort. Natalie had a late flight into Orlando and wouldn’t be landing until around 9:00 pm. The last time we talked to Natalie, we told her that we were planning on getting together with Aly and Nora once she arrived.

With Aly and Nora with us in our hotel room, we decided to play a little trick on Natalie and tell her that Aly and Nora actually couldn’t make it, but really they hid behind the shower curtain in the bathroom. When Natalie arrived, we gave her the “news” that she actually wouldn’t be able to see them that night, and we asked her to grab some tissues in the bathroom. While she was in there, Nora, and Aly jumped out and surprised her, which made our whole night.

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If you’re wondering why we’re all on our phones in the photo above, it’s actually because we were Face Timing with our other friends who couldn’t make this trip, Cristian, and Natalie M. This meant that for the first time since our college program all of us were in the same room… sort of.

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