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Thread: Beppe and MB close out AP's on trip 5 - Jan. 13-18, 2019

  1. #1
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    Beppe and MB close out AP's on trip 5 - Jan. 13-18, 2019

    And, we're back. I was pretty sure we would be. But there was the tiniest chance we wouldn't, so I didn't start a pre-trip report.

    I'm MB, and this is my 5th trip to WDW on this AP. I've been to WDW more than I can count, even was a CM for a while, and my mom (Beppe) has been a lot as well. We purchased these AP's on Feb 4, 2018, and wanted to see how many trips we could reasonably take. Final Count: 5 (for me), 4 (for Beppe). She did not go with me and my family in December.

    I've written several trip reports, I'm sure they are easy to find!

    So I had a conference to attend in Atlanta for my business. Beppe (what all the grandkids call my mom) wanted to go with me, as she has friends there and I could drop her off with them while I attended meetings. So she and I left our hometown on Thursday, January 10 super early, and made the 8-hour drive there with a couple of stops on the way. I dropped her off at her friends house and headed to my hotel, where I would attend a conference until Sunday.

    Day 1: Sunday, January 13, 2019

    Sunday afternoon around 3pm, Beppe's friend dropped her off at my hotel, and Beppe and I hit the road to Orlando for what was originally planned to be a 3 day park trip but stretched to 4! The drive was easy, but very long. I was exhausted after 3 days of meetings from 9am - midnight, but Beppe kept me awake easily by telling me all about her visit with her college roommate.

    I was able to secure 4 nights at All Star Music for around $350 (including taxes! AP rate), and we arrived around 11pm after stopping at a Target to grab some water, high-protein snacks, and a few other essentials. We were in Country Fair building 5, ground floor as requested. Our plans were for Epcot Monday, Studios Tuesday, and Magic Kingdom Wednesday. Thursday was to be the drive home. Beppe has a cousin who lives in Orlando that we were trying to arrange a dinner with, so that was still up in the air.

    We settled into our room and watched a little TV, and I was passed out by midnight I think. It was very strange to be at WDW without my babies!
    Last edited by my3rascals; 01-31-2019 at 09:54 AM.

  2. #2
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    Day 2: Monday, January 14, 2019

    As a child and later a young adult, every trip to WDW that included my mother ALSO included an early-morning wake-up call and rope drop.

    As an adult, I have discovered that early mornings do not work for me and my crew. We prefer to sleep in, have lunch, then head to the parks and close 'em down. My mother, when she has accompanied us on our trips, has hindered that somewhat; we usually compromise and do some early mornings and some late nights.

    However, my mother is now 70. She likes to think she could do rope-drop to close, but her body won't let her do it. Her knees are in desperate need of replacement (she's alternating cordisone and gel injections to get from month to month) and so she uses an ECV at Disney. She also is in mid-stage Vascular Dementia, which makes it hard for her to focus and enjoy herself, and has hindered her senses of direction and context and independence. Growing up, she never was in bed past 5am, even on vacation. Even in retirement, she gets up earlier than most.

    So I was shocked to wake up on Monday morning at 9am to find her still sleeping! Hallelujah! I turned on the TV with the volume on low, and answered some business emails. After a little while, Beppe woke up and was shocked to see it was 9:30. Fortunately, our only FP+ of the day was at Frozen Ever After at 12:50pm (our first time riding it!). We had no need for M:S or TT, as we had ridden those plenty of times with my boys over the past 11 months.

    We took our time getting ready, and left our room for Epcot at 10:30. At the bus stop, 2 ECV's had already been loaded onto the waiting bus, so we just sat back to wait for the next bus. After about 15 minutes, it arrived. However, 2 other ECV's had also arrived (a party of 2 ECV's and one other person). They were in the regular line. Mom and I discussed that maybe since we weren't in a hurry we should let them ride together. Before we could even offer to let them go in front of us, the bus driver asked who was there first and they said THEY were! What?!? And we were about to offer to let you go ahead of us! It was irritating. We didn't say anything, just smiled as they loaded and we waited another 20 minutes. We would be fine. Maybe they didn't know that the ECV's and wheelchairs wait in a different area. Whatever. Our bus finally arrived and we were delivered to Epcot quickly.

    Our first stop had to be Club Cool. I am on a diet - lifestyle change, if you will. No more soda. Until Dec. 1 I was drinking 2-3 sodas a day plus 4-5 energy drinks a week. Now I drink only water and coffee. But if I'm in the vicinity of Club Cool, well, what am I supposed to do? IGNORE that delicious Fanta Melon goodness that taunts me as I walk by? Heavens, no. I enjoyed the heck out of that Fanta and had a couple of other samples to boot!

    Over to Mouse Gears next, where we browsed for a good hour or so. There are so many cute new t-shirts! And the purple line is nice. My favorite new line of merchandise is the Disney Food line - I ended up purchasing the string of lights that have a blue mickey head alternating with a dole whip/pretzel/mickey ice cream bar, etc. I have big plans for it for my little business!

    We were ready for the World Showcase. First up: I wanted to get a ring from the Ring Carvers. So we went there and placed our order (45 minute wait she said), and then we visited the Pyramid to ride the boat ride and poke around a little. We also shared the Loaded Nachos at the Cantina. The weather that day was cool and breezy, but still sunny. It was strange to be looking for a seat IN the sun not in the SHADE like we do in the summer! Lunch was very good, it was just enough for the 2 of us.

    After I picked up my ring from the Ring Carvers, we continued walking to Norway. Our FP+ return time was here, so it was time for us to do a New To Us ride! I loved the Maelstrom and I have been carrying on a personal silent protest that it was removed and made into a Frozen ride. But it is what it is, and my mom certainly enjoyed it. She just loves "that snowman"! She's never even seen Frozen. But she really liked the ride.

    In Germany, I picked up a chocolate-covered pineapple spear - I didn't think it was as good as the ones I had at MK and AK, which were completely covered in chocolate, while the Germany one was only half covered in chocolate. Also, the MK & AK versions had much riper pineapple, nice and juicy and soft, while the Germany one was kinda dry? I guess. But it was still better than a banana (which is what i had in my bad to snack on) so I enjoyed it nonetheless.

    Italy had some lovely rings by the registers in the $15-25 range. They all had roman numerals on them in some way. Beppe and I bought matching ones that had two rows of turning numerals. That makes zero sense, as I read it, but it was a gold band with 2 smaller bands inside - a black one and a gold one, each with roman numerals I-XII - and each of the two smaller bands turned. Very unique.

    We made it into the American Adventure just as the Voices of Liberty were beginning the first song of the 1:30-ish show. We just love VOL. An Epcot trip just doesn't feel complete without hearing them. The talent is just amazing. They sang a fun version of Old MacDonald Had A Farm (I cringed when they announced that was their next song but it was hilarious and I wanted to hear it again!), a couple of others, and finished off with You Raise Me Up. Wow. It was just beautiful.

    The American Adventure is one of my favorite shows, and we watched from the very last row. Next up was Japan, where I picked up a couple of small journals, and we browsed through Morocco and France. It was late afternoon by then, and we were feeling peckish, so we shared an order of Fish & Chips in the UK, while we people-watched. I found a great Monty Python shirt for Jason ("Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who!"). We browsed the shops for a while, then headed to Canada to visit the shops (haven't visited there in a long time). I found a buffalo plaid winter hat for my oldest son, Jonah, who spends a lot of time outside.

    As darkness fell, we walked back over to Club Cool for another sample - or two - or more, I'm not saying! -, then decided to give Soarin' a try. The sign said the wait was 20 minutes but we walked right on. We had not ridden this ride on our past 3 trips, and my heart just broke when my mom insisted she had never ridden it before - it was 100% new to her. (She rode it many times before they replaced the movie, and at least 4-5 times since they replaced it). Dementia is a vicious beast.

    We were ready to head back to our hotel, and I had a video conference i had to attend at 9pm, so we made our way back to the bus stop by 7pm. Remember the ECV party that jumped in front of us in line at AS Music that morning? Guess who pulled in behind us in line that evening...right as the bus was arriving. It looked like a middle-aged lady with her senior parents. I heard the daughter tell her father that she would board this bus with her mother and wait for him on the next one. I whispered to my mom, "Mom, don't you think it would be awesome if we let them go in front of us so they could all ride together?". She didn't realize what was going on, but she agreed and so when the bus driver waived my mom over, I motioned for the party behind us to go. The daughter didn't want to at first, but I insisted and she nearly cried. I feel for her - I know what it's like to be the coordinator and in charge of everyone and how stressful it must have been to know she would have to leave her dad behind. So she and her grateful parents boarded, and she came back out to thank us again and to try to give me a $20 bill for letting them go. I refused it, and told her that I knew how she felt and she should go buy her parents some ice cream with that money. She gave me a hug and boarded. The next bus was along after about 15 minutes, and while we were cold, we knew we had done the right thing.

    We were still hungry when we arrived at All Star Music, so we stopped in the food court. We split the grilled chicken with mashed potato, green beans, and parmesan crisp - and it was just the ride amount of food for the two of us. And it was really good, which we were not expecting from food court grilled chicken. I also splurged a little and got a brownie, half of which I saved for the next day. We made it back to our room by 8:30, and I grabbed a quick hot shower (we did not take our jackets and were freezing once the sun went down!) and mom watched TV. My video conference lasted longer than scheduled, so Beppe was asleep before I finished.

    Tomorrow we were going to Animal Kingdom late in the morning - no FP+'s - and then to the Studios. Since we weren't getting up early, I stayed up til about 1am doing a little work and watching some TV, then drifted off to sleep in the surprisingly comfortable bed.
    Last edited by my3rascals; 01-19-2019 at 10:06 PM.

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    Day 3: Tuesday, January 15, 2019

    It was another day to sleep in - such a glorious thing when one rarely is allowed to do it - and in a bed of my own, to boot! We were up and moving around by 9am or so, and had a light breakfast in our room before we were to head to Animal Kingdom. AK was a last minute plan, as I had purposefully left the morning open so we could visit Beppe's cousin, visit Disney Springs, or anything else we wanted. Beppe wanted to go to AK. So that's where we went.

    The bus dropped us off at AK by 10:30 or so - but the ramp for Beppe to disembark from the bus refused to open! That poor bus driver spent a good 10 minutes doing every trick he could think of, and only after every. single. thing. had fallen out of his shirt pocket did it finally give way and Beppe was able to roll on off.

    We had no specific plans for AK, just to wonder around and enjoy. We wanted to leave by 1:30 so we would be at the Studios by 2. We started out just shopping. I mean, we really don't need a single thing. We have Disney stuff galore. Watches. Shirts. Toys (kids). Knick Knacks. Gloves. Bags. Jewelry. But Disney has really upped their souvenir game in the past year and we just wanted to browse, which we never get to do with the kids because they either WANT ALL THE THINGS or they don't want to go in the shop at all. So we browsed the shop outside the gate, then the ones on Discovery Island. Beppe bought a memory box (one of those boxes that looks like a book so she can store mementos in), and I got the cat from Cinderella with the loooonnnnggg tail for Corban (he wanted me to bring him back a cat plush). I've collected the WDW books for years, so I bought the newest one of those as well. We had all of that sent to our hotel so we didn't have to carry them around. But the time we were done, we really only had about an hour before we needed to leave!

    I thought for sure Beppe would want to see the Lion King show, but when given the choice between The Lion King and Expedition Everest, she chose EE! I was so glad. We waited in the standby line for only about 20 minutes. While we were waiting, Beppe asked when we were going home. I reminded her that we were driving back Thursday. She seemed really disappointed. You can see where this is going... so a little while later, she asked if I thought we could stay one more night. Now, my husband has been home alone with the kids for a while, and it will have been over a week by the time we got home Thursday night. So I called him. And he said "MB, if you're Mama wants to stay another day, you better do it!". So I told her I would do my best to get us another night at our hotel. We rode EE and then decided to head on over to the Studios.

    The bus ride was short, the walk was long, but we made it to the front gate in a relatively short time. We had a little time before our Swirling Saucers FP+, so we (of course) visited the shops on Hollywood Blvd (I bought those patio lights and had them sent to our resort). We made our way over to Toy Story Land and rode the Alien Swirling Saucers, which Beppe really liked, and then realized that if we really booked it, we could make the next Frozen Singalong that started in just 9 minutes! We made a beeline for the theater, and were seated inside with just moments to spare.

    What a sweet little show Frozen Singalong is! Beppe hasn't seen Frozen (or maybe she has with my kids, but she certainly doesn't remember it), I've seen it just a couple of times (I have boys!), but I know all of the songs. The "historians" were great, and we both really enjoyed this show. I know now that Corban would have loved it if he had allowed us to see it on our date day (see the December 2018 trip report, he and I had a date day and I thought he would love this since he loves "Love Is An Open Door", but he refused to go in).

    Our stomachs were letting us know we hadn't eaten lunch, so we made the bold decision to give the Commissary a try, despite bad reviews and having not eaten there in years. I'm so glad we did! We ordered the Braised Beef and Enchilada entree to share - Braised Barbacoa Beef served on Cilantro Slaw with a Roasted Corn and Cheese Enchilada topped with Fire Roasted Chipotle Sauce and Queso Fresco.

    Wow! This was really really good. The braised beef was fork-tender, the enchilada was topped with wonderful salsa and fresco, and the slaw, while bland, was cold and crunchy. We cleaned our plate. I also like that even though it is quick service, they give you a pager after you order and pay, you go to your table, and they bring you the food.

    We were done with our late lunch/early dinner by 4:30, and made our way to Beauty and the Beast to catch the last show of the day at 5pm. By 4:45 we were seated, and though we had our jackets that day, we were quite chilly. I left mom in the theater to go find some coffee. On the way to Starbucks, I saw the bar...you know me and margaritas...so since there was no line, I ordered a Margarita with no salt, make it a double, please! That was the best $20 I spent all week. It was smooth and cold and I'll be honest, I was done by the time I was ordering coffee for us. I know, a cocktail followed by a coffee? WE ARE ON VACATION, DANG IT!! 2 mochas in hand, I made it back to the theater feeling cold and warm at the same time, just in time to see the ending of the first song.

    Belle and Beast happily together, we exited the theater and headed towards Tower of Terror. Y'all - I do not like this ride. But I wanted to ride it with Beppe because she loves it. But I just couldn't. I really don't like it. She was happy to ride it alone, though. I waited outside of the gift shop and as us Southerners tend to do, sparked up a conversation with the lady next to me and her granddaughter. I was humbled in the following moments as I listened to her story. She herself had had knee replacement surgery in June 2018, and in August was in a terrible wreck that broke her neck. BROKE her NECK. And after 2 months in the hospital and rehab, she was back at home, recovering and waiting to be recovered enough to have surgery on her rotator cuff, which was severely injured in the wreck. So here we are, less than 5 months later, and she is at WDW with her son and his wife and kids. And her son is in Stage 4 Adenocarcenoma Cancer, diagnosed in February 2018 and given 3 months to live. But thanks to some experimental treatments, he is still with us and a few moments later, he and his wife and father joined my new friend and I met them all and wished them a wonderful trip. Wow.

    Beppe and I wandered back out into Sunset Blvd. Our FP+ for Fantasmic had a 7:20pm entry time, and it was barely 6pm, so we just wondered in and out of shops. I don't think we bought anything at all. Just enjoyed the evening and the lights and the famiies having fun. But by 6:30, we were making our way into Fantasmic. We were seated in the top row in the middle section. Beppe was about to freeze to bits, so I went and bought a blanket to wrap around her, then I got us some hot chocolate and nachos. A few minutes later there was a tap on our shoulder, and a CM handed us 2 Mickey Bars!

    8pm finally arrived, but not before The Wave was done many times and when Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" came on, everyone in the stadium turned on their phone lights and waved them in the air - it was so pretty! - and sang along. The show began and for a little while, Beppe was as happy as she ever has been. This is just her jam, y'all. She loves it. It was quite chilly out, and we were all glad when the fire started on the water - it warmed us up just a bit. Hands all over the stadium reached out for the warmth of the flames.

    Fantasmic over, we followed the crowd to the bus and headed back to our hotel. I stopped at the front desk to ask about adding a night to our reservation, but Music was all booked up. But, she made a quick phone call and they managed to find us a room at Music after all, though we would have to change rooms. So I went ahead and booked that. (However, when I got the confirmation on MDE, it said Sports, so I thought she told us wrong). We made our way back to our room and after another HOT shower, I was curled up in bed, watching TV by 10pm.
    Last edited by my3rascals; 01-31-2019 at 10:24 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member BSS's Avatar
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    It sounds like the two of you were having a wonderful time! It warms my heart that you let the people who had essentially cut you in line earlier go ahead of you again so they could be together. B and I would have done the same - kindness feels so good.

    I'm with Beppe, I love Fantasmic. I don't know what it is, but I just love it.

    Can't wait to read about the rest of your trip. Thanks for sharing.
    Jen

  5. #5
    Senior Member Anne's Avatar
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    Sounds like a great start! I love that most of your trips get extended by day or two :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by BSS View Post
    It sounds like the two of you were having a wonderful time! It warms my heart that you let the people who had essentially cut you in line earlier go ahead of you again so they could be together. B and I would have done the same - kindness feels so good.

    I'm with Beppe, I love Fantasmic. I don't know what it is, but I just love it.

    Can't wait to read about the rest of your trip. Thanks for sharing.
    Kindness is so much easier, too! People waste so much time and energy being irritated or angry about such petty things, and then dwelling on it all days. I had to go back and edit in the line-hoppers because I had totally forgotten about it!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anne View Post
    Sounds like a great start! I love that most of your trips get extended by day or two :-)
    Yep, out of the 5 trips we took on these AP's, 3 of them were extended by a day or two! I'm so grateful that we have the flexibility to do that.

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    Day 4: Wednesday, January 16, 2019

    We had FP+'s at MK for the morning. And Beppe didn't know it, but I had booked the Fireworks Dessert Party with Garden View for that night! Squeeee! Beppe's cousin had called the day before and wanted to do dinner Wednesday night, but I had to tell Beppe I had a surprise planned for the two of us (couldn't get a 3rd in), so we were going to do dinner with her Thursday.

    As soon as I realized earlier in the week that late morning entry's worked best for us, I moved our FP+'s back by a few hours. So our first FP+ was for Pirates at 11am. So we slept til 9am again, had a quick breakfast in the room, and were on a bus to MK by 10am. Bag check and tap-in at the tap-styles was fast, and we were on Main Street USA pretty quickly. The Dapper Dan's were singing a song to a couple celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary in front of the Jewelry Shop, and that was lovely. We browsed some shops and then made our way to Adventureland. The small shop by Magic Carpets of Aladdin had a great Tiki Room t-shirt that I had to get. My business has a pirate/nautical theme, so I always enjoy finding new fun things at the Pirate gift shop. We rode the ride - they don't allow ECV's in the line, but do allow people to transfer to wheelchairs. My mom didn't want to do that, but she should have. Those walkways are DARK and it's easy to trip. Fortunately she didn't but I can imagine it happens fairly often.

    We departed Pirates and headed to Pecos Bill's for lunch. Our Splash Mountain FP+ was coming up at 12:35, but it was down. BUMMER. That is Beppe's 2nd favorite WDW attraction. But we had a leisurely lunch at Pecos Bill's - we shared the fajita platter and an order of nachos - and sat outside in the sun. My phone dinged, letting me know that since Splash was down we had an Anytime Magic FP+ we could use on anything except 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. Space Mountain jumped into mind, and we people-watched while we finished up our lunch.

    Country Bear Jamboree was next, and then I grabbed some Cotton Candy (not on my diet plan, but it's VACATION, y'all!). We browsed the Frontierland shops, then visited Liberty Square. We caught the end of the Muppet show, and went through the Christmas shop, and then visited The Hall of Presidents. I'm so disappointed - not in WDW - but in visitors who are so caught up in politics (either side) that security guards have to be on hand during THE HALL OF PRESIDENTS to make sure no ...riots?...arguing?...violence?... breaks out. It's a theme park, people. Folks should be ashamed of themselves.

    Anyway.

    Our Haunted Mansion FP+ was up next. It was about 3pm by then, and the FP+ line for HM was long. No mind, we waited and talked and reminisced about the big trip we took last year with my brothers and their families. Beppe told me she wanted to do another big trip like that with her kids and grandkids, and we figured that Spring 2021 would be a good time, and we put together an optimistic budget. We'll see if that happens! After HM, I snagged us a FP+ for 4pm-ish at Buzz Lightyear, and we wandered through Fantasyland shops and the Circus tent shop by Dumbo. I found a fun t-shirt (gray with "This is my happy place" and a castle in glittery rose gold) and a silver mickey head ring there, which I purchased.

    We stopped in Mickey's Startraders, where I got yet another t-shirt (I bought 4 over the course of the week!). This one was was from Carousel of Progress - white Raglan style with "There's a great big beautiful tomorrow" in blue letters. Sigh. I love it.

    Buzz Lightyear was next, and I hit one of the 100k targets a couple of times. Next we went through Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor, which I find hilarious. My mother laughed the whole time, and said if we had time she wanted to do it again (we didn't, sadly).

    We took a ride around Tomorrowland on my personal favorite ride, the Peoplemover (or "WedWay PeopleMover" as it was known when I was a child). We then got in line for Space Mountain, where, like Pirates, you can't take your ECV into the line but can transfer to a wheelchair. Beppe refused the wheelchair, but I should have insisted. For as we were walking through the FP+ queue, we weren't going fast but we weren't super slow either. Beppe was right behind me, as the queue for FP+ is not wide enough for 2 people to walk side by side. There were other FP+ visitors about 20-30 feet ahead of us. I suddenly felt a "whoosh" of air and a blonde middle-aged lady swooped past me; I turned around in time to see my mom grabbing wildly for the handrail. Then not 10 seconds later, a man rushed around us and caught up with the lady.

    Y'all. I am patient. I am polite. I may get irritated but it quickly dissipates. But in that moment, seeing my mom stumbling after the woman nearly knocked her down so she could advance 20 FEET and get ahead of 2 PEOPLE, I was fighting the urge to let them have it. It took us just a few moments to catch up with them, and then I told them, "Wow, guys, Great Job! You were able to get ahead of 2 whole people in line by almost knocking down a 70-year old lady! You must be SO GLAD you have saved at least 10 seconds of waiting in line! I'm impressed.". The woman looked at me like I had squids growing out of my ears; the man spoke to her in a foreign language and she shook her head and said "No". I just smiled and reiterated how impressive it was that they could improve their standing in line simply by rushing and knocking people around. She spoke to me in a foreign language, as the man seemed to be translating for her, and I just smiled and gave them a big double thumbs-up. I have no idea if anyone around us heard.

    She tried to stare me down, but I smiled and didn't blink (not because I'm an awesome starer-downer, but because I've always had issues with dry-eyes due to my forgetting to blink when I concentrate, so I can beat ANYONE at a staring contest!). They finally moved forward to then we were at the Magic Band reader. This is the best part. She scanned her band on the left, he scanned his on the right, and his caused an error message. Beppe and I quickly scanned ours, and while she turned around to see what the holdup was for him, I said "Come on, Mama!" and we just scooted right up with the rest of the line. And she and the guy were stuck behind us.

    Beppe had no idea I had said anything to them. She was upset because she had very nearly fallen. I just talked about other things, while the couple stood behind us. I think they may have been staring holes in the back of my head, but I didn't care!

    Okay, so that drama was done. I told my mom about the whole thing once we were done with the ride, and she laughed and laughed.

    Oh, and Space Mountain was awesome! It's still my favorite coaster in the world. Just something about it.

    We had the dessert party coming up at 6:30. It was 5:30-ish, so Beppe and I decided to do a little Main Street shopping first. We wandered through the Emporium, where Beppe found a shirt she liked, then we grabbed a corn dog nugget platter from Casey's to share before we dove headfirst into a sugar-laden dessert buffet. 10 nuggets was the perfect size for us to split.

    We were up at the podium to check-in for our dessert party around 6:40 or so. Spoiler: it was lovely! Everything we hoped it would be and more.

    So at check-in, we were given wristbands so that we could come and go if we needed to, and they also functioned as the "ticket" to get into the fireworks viewing area in the garden later in the evening. The fireworks started at 8pm, so we had well over an hour to enjoy our desserts.

    We were assigned to a young lady who showed us where everything was (dessert buffet, drinks, bathrooms, sparkling cider) and then took us to our table, which was very close to the buffet and on the railing. We dropped of her scooter and then walked to the buffet. I'll try to remember what was on it.

    There were two identical sides to the buffet. We went on the right side. First, we grabbed our plates, napkin, and fork.

    Food:

    Oreo Mousse Push-Ups - layered mousse with crushed oreos - Beppe had 2 (she loved them); I don't love oreo's so I declined.
    Miniature Brownie Cheesecakes - the side of a small cupcake - very good -
    Cupcakes - "confetti" cake with blue frosting - exactly as it sounds - my kids would have loved them, I liked them only because buttercream frosting is my kryptonite
    Pineapple Cake Cups - layers of pineapple "cream" with sponge cake and some pineapple pieces. This reminded me of a dole whip.
    Macarons - several flavors - I was not expecting to enjoy these, but they were very good. Chewy, crispy outside with soft inside. I especially enjoyed the chocolate one. I may have had several!
    Chocolate Covered Strawberry - mmmmmmmmm. Very good.
    Strawberry Tart - a strawberry cream with a sliver of fresh strawberry in a shortbread-type crust - very very good
    Fresh Fruit tray - watermelon, strawberries, grapes, something else?
    Cheese tray - cheddar, pepperjack, a couple of others, with 4 varieties of crackers
    Cheeseburger Egg Rolls - nice and hot, I didn't care for it, but that doesn't mean it wasn't good - my mom had 3!
    Spinach Dip - very good. I went back for 2nds
    S'mores table - make your own s'mores. We didn't try this.
    Ooey-gooey Dessert - hot dessert that felt like it had caramel, nuts, cake, just a bunch of stuff that was very good
    Decorate your own cookie station - we didn't do this - 3-4 types of cookies with lots of toppings

    Drink bar:
    Guava/Mango/orange juice - tasted like regular old orange juice with a little pineapple in it or something
    Lemonade
    Strawberry Lemonade
    Water
    Milk
    Hot tea
    Coffee
    Hot Chocolate

    I think the cost per person, including tax, was around $65.

    I'm pretty sure we sampled everything except the make your own cookies and the s'mores. And everything was so nice. With me being on this "diet", I was concerned that I would totally blow it. But there were enough non-sweet options that I didn't go overboard with the sugar. And I walked away very satisfied. (For those in similary dietary positions: after every sweet item, I made sure to eat a savory - one or two cheese cubes, a bite of the eggroll, etc. I was able to sample all the sweet stuff without being hungry and over-doing the sweet stuff. The protein also helps keep your blood sugar from spiking then bottoming out.)

    The CM's were around often to collect dirty dishes and cups. We stayed for about 45 minutes, and made 2-3 trips to the buffet. That sounds like a lot, but the plates were small, I promise! We each got a coffee to go, and then made our way to the check-in stand where we were assigned a CM who escorted us to the viewing location.

    We were there just in time for Once Upon a Time, the castle light show that lasts about 10 minutes, to start. It was not crowded in the least, plenty of space. My mom was just the happiest I've seen her in a long time. This was a great way to cap off our mother-daughter trip. She does not know how much it cost though! I told her it was much less than it was, or she would have refused to enjoy it. Anyway, I did go back to the buffet to get another coffee between the Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After. The fireworks started right on time, and the reserved seating for party-goers was just perfect. Tinkerbell flew right over us, we could see all of the projections, the music was beautiful...well, it was just the best fireworks show I've ever seen.

    Once it was over, we took the "shortcut" behind Main Street to the train station and our bus was waiting when we arrived at the bus stop. We arrived back at the resort by 9pm, and after I walked with Beppe back to the room, I ran back up to the arcade and sat in the massage chair for 25 minutes. Glorious. Ahhhh.

    The only plans we had for Thursday were moving to Sports in the morning, and having dinner with Beppe's cousin on International Drive. So I didn't mind staying up til 1am, checking emails and responding to texts for work. What a great day.
    Last edited by my3rascals; 01-31-2019 at 10:38 AM.

  9. #9
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    I have to admit, I was hoping the delay at the FP tapstile was going to send the 2 human bulldozers to the standby line.
    You just donít do that!
    Glad your mom was able to stay on her feet and soldier on.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Kasha's Avatar
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    Following along! This really makes me want to do a trip to WDW with just my mom!

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    I'm glad you didn't let the bulldozing people ruin your day and even more glad Beppe was okay. There is so much to take in at WDW. I wish people wouldn't always be in such a hurry.

    Your dessert party experience sounds wonderful! What fun with your mama!
    Jen

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    Quote Originally Posted by Goofballs View Post
    I have to admit, I was hoping the delay at the FP tapstile was going to send the 2 human bulldozers to the standby line.
    You just don’t do that!
    Glad your mom was able to stay on her feet and soldier on.
    I was hoping that as well! But at least they were behind us. Evil laugh here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kasha View Post
    Following along! This really makes me want to do a trip to WDW with just my mom!
    This is probably the 4th or 5th trip I have taken with my mom, where it's just the 2 of us. And it's by far been my favorite! The other trips were back when I was in my early-mid 20's and wasn't yet married with kids. So I didn't appreciate it the way I do now! You should do it!
    Last edited by my3rascals; 01-31-2019 at 10:22 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BSS View Post
    I'm glad you didn't let the bulldozing people ruin your day and even more glad Beppe was okay. There is so much to take in at WDW. I wish people wouldn't always be in such a hurry.

    Your dessert party experience sounds wonderful! What fun with your mama!
    We've certainly learned the art of slowing down at WDW! It's made each trip that much richer. Commando-style definitely isn't for us!

    The dessert party was indeed wonderful. I don't know that I will ever try to watch the fireworks again without the dessert party. It was that nice.

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    Day 5: Thursday, January 17 (Bonus day!)

    We woke up around 9am after our long night, and it took no time at all to gather our things to transfer over to All Star Sports. We were aware that our room may not be ready, which was no problem. We cleared out our room and walked/scootered over to our car. I pointed Beppe in the direction of the All Star Sports lobby (we were in the parking lot between Music and Sports), and she scootered over while I drove the car to the lobby.

    I went to the front desk and after some confusion (while the CM at Music had told me she was putting me in Music for our last night, the message on My Disney Experience said Sports, so I assumed she had mis-spoken and that Sports was where we were supposed to go). In fact, while I was checking in, I received a call from Music saying our room was ready. What? The CM on the phone assured me we were supposed to stay at Music; I told him we had already left Music and were at the desk at Sports. He spoke to the CM there, and they found a room that was ready right then. I still don't know what happened, and frankly, don't really care; it was just for one night!

    Our room was in the Tennis section, and I drove around and met Beppe there. We unloaded our overnight bags quickly, put some bottled water in the fridge, and decided we would go over to the Disney Outlet on Vineland and then to Disney Springs.

    The drive over to the Disney Outlet was quick, and we browsed but didn't find much. I think we spent $7? We had no need for further shopping (tiny house, remember?!?!?), and so we headed over to Disney Springs. I was still looking for the perfect gift for my middle son Abel. We parked on the 3rd floor of the Lime Deck, and slowly walked to World of Disney. Beppe didn't have her scooter, so we were a slow moving pair that day. World of Disney has changed so much - it really feels like a department store. I can't decide if I like it or not. Even now. It doesn't feel like the old space at all.

    We were quite hungry by then, so we enjoyed sandwiches from Earl of Sandwich. I had the Hawaiian BBQ (so good!) and Beppe had the Holiday Turkey (she loved this so much). We'd eaten there on previous trips, and every time it's great. The prices are quite a bit higher than they used to be, but it's still a great deal for a really good sandwich.

    While we were having our lunch, we noticed a tabby cat hanging out with the guests! He/she was going around from table to table. This cat was definitely not starving! Looked very well fed. Later, we saw him/her lounging on a brick wall, enjoying a visit with a lady who was scratching his head. I get the feeling Disney Springs is his home. Definitely not a shy cat.

    We browsed some more shops, stopped in Rainforest Cafe (where I found a great backpack for Abel, since he is so outdoorsy; it is olive green with about 15 pockets, and he loves it), then walked across the bridge to head back to the car.

    Both of us felt like a nap was in order, so when we arrived in our room around 2pm, we just climbed into our beds and snoozed for a while. We had dinner plans with Beppe's cousin at 5:15 on International Drive, so I set my alarm to go off at 4:15 so we could leave at 4:30. We arrived at the restaurant right on time, and enjoyed catching up with our extended family. By 7, though we were back in the car, heading back to the hotel.

    Epcot was open til 9, and we decided that we would do one more Disney night! We parked at the hotel, grabbed Beppe's scooter, and headed up to the bus stop. We were walking through the tapstyles by 8pm. (I was happy to see that according to MDE, Club Cool would be open til 9pm, but when we arrived at 8:10pm, it was closed. Bummer.) With an just under an hour until closing, we weren't even sure what exactly we wanted to do, other than grab a dessert! I had managed to get us a FP+ for Soarin' while we were on the bus for 8pm, so we went first to Sunshine Season's to get a dessert. We shared the carrot cake. I soothed my hurt feelings over Club Cool being closed by having a real Coke. I nursed that thing all night. Soarin' was next, and it was right around 9pm when we were done.

    While Illuminations was going on, we went back over to Mouse Gear and browsed for a little while. Beppe bought a t-shirt she really liked. She also bought me an Epcot necklace/earrings set (silver chain with 3 Epcot charms on it with silver Mickey Ear earrings). We stopped in the shop by Spaceship Earth, and I found a great shirt - purple with Spaceship Earth on it, and it says "I speak Phoenician". I had to have it. That makes 4 shirts I bought for myself on this trip. My favorite is the blue Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room shirt though.

    Back to the bus stop, and then on to the room where we settled in for the night. We were in no hurry the next day to leave, I just wanted to be on the road by 10.
    Last edited by my3rascals; 01-31-2019 at 10:28 AM.

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    Day 6: Friday, January 18

    We were up and out of our room by 9am. I was just ready to get home! I'd been gone for 9 days now, and I missed my kids. I couldn't wait to show them the souvenirs I picked out for them.

    After a quick stop at Chick Fil A for breakfast, we were on our way. The ride back to NC was easy, no rain, no bad traffic. We stopped just a couple of times for gas and lunch, and were home by 8pm.

    Trip highlights:
    * MK Fireworks Dessert Party - $65 per person is a lot to spend on a dessert buffet; that's why we didn't do it with the whole crew. But it was so nice to not be in the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds for the fireworks, and the desserts were good. I think this may be our "splurge" from now on.
    * Slow Pace - I realize that this is a luxury that not everyone can do, but it really is what makes our trips enjoyable. This trip in particular was very slow paced, as I wasn't keeping up with 3 kids and a husband as well as my mom.
    * Late Morning Arrivals - if you utilize FP+ as well as your own common sense, and your family is like mine (likes to sleep late), then you can absolutely hit just about everything without waking up early for rope drop.

    Over the past year, I took 5 trips with this annual pass. Here are some observations:

    *Annual Pass Value - If I'm not mistaken, I used the pass for 32 park days. I think it was around $850. We also bought 4 reduced-priced AP Rate Blizzard Beach tickets for $49 each. There was a 20% discount on most merchandise. And a significant hotel discount when we did stay on-site ($75 a night for the last trip at AS Music). It's a great value if you plan to do multiple trips in 12 months.

    * Off-site vs. On-site - we did it all this trip. We rented a large 7-bedroom house with a pool/hot tub/game room in Emerald Isle; a 4-bedroom townhome with pool in Encantada; Pop Century; All-Star Music Family Suite; 2-bedroom condo in Mystic Dunes; Riverside; All-Star Music; All-Star Sports. Each trip was very different. Our needs were different each time. Our crew was different each time. Some stays were long (13 days), some were short (4 days).

    *Off-site Pro's: we loved having space. Plenty of bathrooms. The resorts we chose were very nice, the homes were clean and fresh. Our family likes a big breakfast, so being able to cook a hot breakfast every morning saved lots of money. Obviously it is very economical to stay off-site (AP's get free park parking, so that helps a lot as well). None of the places we stayed were more than a 15 minute-drive from Disney Property. It was as fast to get to AK from Mystic Dunes than from msot Disney hotels! In fact, once Beppe discovered after we had parked at Epcot that she had left the ECV key at the house. It took just 45 minutes to drive back to the house, retrieve the key, and return to our parking space. I seriously doubt we could have caught a bus from Epcot to our resort, walked to our room, back to the bus stop, caught a bus and returned to Epcot within 45 minutes.) Easy access to grocery stores, restaurants, and pharmacies is always nice. LAUNDRY! I love not having to pack enough clothes for every day plus extras. We pack 3 outfits per person and I do laundry every other day.

    *Off-site Con's: not having the Disney bus service. My brothers, when they visited with us in February, really missed that (they had never stayed off-site). It is nice to park the car and not get in it again til time to go. No resort package delivery - that's something we missed. We like the evening Extra Magic Hours, so not having that was a bummer.

    *On-Site Pro's: we love the bus service, package delivery, evening EMH's of course; we especially like that our kids are now old enough that they can do a few things on their own that they can't when we stay off-site (arcade, go back to the room if they forgot something, go get themselves a snack from the food court, etc.). And the pools are awesome - they especially love the activities. We also like to let the older boys use their Magic Bands to charge a snack or something to our room.

    *On-Site Con's: $$$$$! That's the big one, right? I mean, we had a 7-bedroom house for the same cost per night as a Pop Century room. Wow. And space. We really do need our space. We can do up to 3-4 nights in a regular room and not hate each other, but longer than that and it gets dicey.

    *Travelling with Special Needs people: my crew had a variety of special-needs folks. A tween with hearing impairment. A 5th grader with autism, ADHD, depression, and anxiety. A husband with hearing impairment. A senior citizen with dementia and physical limitations. But it was fine! We just all decided early on that we would take our time, sleep in, go in later, stay til we were done, and it worked for us. Now, everyone didn't love every second, but that's true at home or on vacation. But everyone had a great time. The biggest issues for us were the crowds (my 11-year old doesn't handle that well, so we planned around it) and the scooter (my mom wasn't the best driver, but then people aren't all that aware - many times people cut her off or downright stopped 3 inches in front of her!). I found it helps for ECV parties if one able-bodied person is assigned to monitor the ECV driver and make sure there are no disasters.

    *Food: this is the expense that usually kills a vacation budget. When we were off-site, we ate 2 meals a day at our house/condo. A hot breakfast, and then either an early lunch or a late dinner. One meal out a day. The lunch/dinner time meals at our off-site house were easy ones - frozen pizzas, quesadillas/tacos, sandwiches. We also do not do many table service meals, so we were able to keep our budget down by having counter service meals. Beppe and I shared entrees several times.

    *Splurge: since we went 5 times, we didn't do many splurges. But the ones we did do, we loved! The extra nights at Pop Century, the fireworks dessert party, T-Rex, Food & Wine tastings, those were all very nice extras.

    *Plans - we made the necessary FP+ reservations in advance so we could ride the must-rides, but that's about it. By the 3rd trip, we had already done anything we HAD to do, so we had no need to DO everything. Just the favorites. Multiple times.

    *Weather - we visited during all the seasons, I think. Beppe (in her 70's with bad knees) prefers summer over winter. I prefer winter over summer - the heat is too tiring for me. I think my husband and kids also preferred the cooler weather over the hot weather. The kids only swam once during our December trip, and there were no complaints about it.

    *Favorite Thing Ever - date day with my boys. I'm so happy I got to do that. I had always thought I would take them on a one-on-one trip for their 10th birthdays, but that's expensive. This was a mini-version of that. Each boy was allowed to do anything they wanted on their date day with me. I don't think I ever said No to them! And they didn't ask for much either. Those days were my absolute favorites. I will never forget them.

    Okay, so that's the end of my super-long set of trip reports. There are 5 of them from 2018-19 (and I even took a trip in January 2019 that I didn't write a report on, it was a conference I attended with my husband at Coronado, but we didn't have our AP's then, so I didn't include that trip). I hope you've enjoyed reading them. I have loved reliving them through these reports.

    And please, do yourself a favor, and write a report. You won't regret it. I go back and read the one I wrote in 2014 and am reminded of so many things I would never have thought of again. Do it for YOU and for your kids. I promise you will love it when you read it in a month or a year or a decade.
    Last edited by my3rascals; 01-31-2019 at 10:37 AM.

  17. #17
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    Thank you so much for inviting us into your family each and every trip. I’ve enjoyed all your trips so very much! Are you a little sad that your APs are now expired?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samy1000 View Post
    Thank you so much for inviting us into your family each and every trip. I’ve enjoyed all your trips so very much! Are you a little sad that your APs are now expired?
    We actually still have til February 4 (this upcoming Monday) on our AP's. This morning on the way to school, I told the boys that and asked if they wanted to try to make one more whirlwind trip to WDW. The resounding answer was NO!!! Reason: long car ride. I asked "What if we flew?" and the answer was the same.

    So I am a little sad, since I know we won't be back as a family for 2-3 years, though I will probably be at a conference at WDW in January 2020. But we have lots of ideas for (less expensive) vacations, including the Inner Banks in NC, Washington DC, the NC Mountains, Hershey, PA, a road trip to Colorado, and maybe London (Groupon has some incredible 6-day air/hotel packages!).

    I'm so glad you've followed along with us! I am so glad I wrote these reports. I know in years to come they will be precious memories.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Mrs. Potts's Avatar
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    I have really enjoyed reading your trip reports. Thank you for sharing. :)
    Also, if you want one more trip out of those APs, don’t hesitate to take a trip with just your husband. WDW is one of our favorite vacation spots without our kids.
    Jen

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs. Potts View Post
    I have really enjoyed reading your trip reports. Thank you for sharing. :)
    Also, if you want one more trip out of those APs, don’t hesitate to take a trip with just your husband. WDW is one of our favorite vacation spots without our kids.
    Thank you for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed my reports.

    Man, a whirlwind weekend getaway would be amazing this weekend! Alas, Jason is in Miami for work, will return late Thursday, and I am scheduled to help with cat adoptions with the non-profit I volunteer with. So we will just remember our good times there! I may have a memorial Margarita on Feb. 4 - the day our passes expire.

  21. #21
    Senior Member BSS's Avatar
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    I have loved going vicariously along on your adventures! Thank you for sharing. I only get to go once a year so reading others' reports helps me bide my time.
    Jen

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by BSS View Post
    I have loved going vicariously along on your adventures! Thank you for sharing. I only get to go once a year so reading others' reports helps me bide my time.
    Thank you so much for reading along! Now *I'll* be living vicariously through other poster's trip reports. I know how fun it is! When is your next trip?

  23. #23
    Senior Member BSS's Avatar
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    When is your next trip?
    Not until October!! It's so far away!
    Jen

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    Quote Originally Posted by BSS View Post
    Not until October!! It's so far away!
    Ooh, but the PLANNING, the ANTICIPATION, that's the best part! I think that may be what I miss the most. Enjoy your planning!

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