This place has really gone downhill since we checked in! - A September 2019 Trip Report. COMPLETED 12/31

Verstehen

I break for the Nautilus
Joined
Jul 4, 2008
Day 6, Part 1: Radical Cookies!

I have in my notes that we awoke at 8:30. We had some plans today, but I’m sure as usual we took our time getting ready.

But first, it was time to head down to the gym for some cool, refreshing, scented towels…

But they were out!! Still!

It was bad enough that we hadn’t been able to treat DH to a scented towel the night before, but now despite the fact that it wasn’t even noon yet, they STILL didn’t have any!

“Boy,” I said, “this place has really gone downhill since we checked in.”

I knew, in my heart, that would be the trip report title, but I swear it came out organically. My dad heartily agreed.

But time waits for no man, so we sadly pressed on and made our way to Epcot.

It was time for our final Food and Wine event of the season: chocolate painting!

We were back in the big tent, and were seated next to a nice couple. In front of us was a big cookie with Minnie printed on fondant, a cup, a recipe paper, and some brushes. The chocolate hadn’t been brought out yet.





It was really hard to not just eat the cookie right away!

The presentation was nice, though I can’t say I remember much of it. Mostly I think the chef talked about how she came to run her bakery, and tips on how to make the best possible cookie and how to paint with chocolate.





Soon enough the “paint” was brought out. We had yellow, blue, and pink, and we were also provided with some white and brown chocolates to lighten or darken as we deemed appropriate. As soon as we had the paints, we got to work.



I went for kind of an early 90’s vibe with my cookie. I knew if I tried to create a physical background for Minnie, like she was standing in a park or something, it would come out looking weird, and I thought the colors lent themselves well to a more abstract design. Obviously the cookie would taste pretty much the same no matter what I painted, but I was still determined to make it look the way I wanted!





My dad apparently went for a simpler design for the background, but check out his work on the bow. Inspired!





We were advised that the paint would melt pretty much the second we took the cookies outside, so if we wanted to eat them while they were still painted now was probably the time. Otherwise, we could use a sealable plastic bag provided and bring them with us, though of course at our own risk.

I took a few bites of mine then sealed it up. Dad wasn’t hungry so he opted to wait.

We left the tent and went to Canada for another popcorn refill and discussed what we wanted to do next. The popcorn and the few bites of cookie would keep us sated for awhile, so there were really no food booths on our radar, and no attractions we were interested in. Dad suggested now was a good time to go to Animal Kingdom. I had a Navi River Journey fastpass for us for later in the day, but was flexible on whether we ended up at the park at all. Now, though, seemed like the perfect time. So we made our way to the front of the park and to the bus area. Soon enough a bus to AK arrived, and we were on our way to our second park of the day!

Up Next: Animal Kingdom time!
 

rdkeim

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 23, 2006
Just commenting to say I've been following along and enjoying your TR! I like your relaxed style. Nice way to get some quality time with your Dad. Hope you enjoyed your time in AK!
 

Verstehen

I break for the Nautilus
Joined
Jul 4, 2008
Day 6, Part 2: The Amazing Libra Man

We made our way into Animal Kingdom. Aside from the Pandora fastpass later in the day, we didn’t have anywhere we needed to be and nothing particular we wanted to cross off our list. Again, it was so nice having limited formal plans on this trip. We could just take things at the pace we wanted.

I heard some kids mumbling about otters in Discovery Island, so I led us down to their area. I love watching otters swim around. I tried to take a few crappy photos and also took a video while my dad asked me questions that basically amounted to, “how do otters work?” You’ll recall that I have no formal training in anything to do with animals, so I was pretty much at a loss.




You can kind of see them gliding along...


We went around the back of the Tree of Life and took a look at some giant Galapagos turtles. Apparently these guys can get even bigger than they are here!


Around this time we started to snack on our cookies. I ended up throwing about a quarter of mine away. It was just so huge! The paint did of course melt, but it tasted the same either way. I was glad we had snapped some good pictures of our masterpieces!

After that we needed something refreshing to wash the cookies down with, so we went over to Creature Comforts, AK’s Starbucks location to get an iced coffee to share. My dad gave the barista his last name for the drink order, as he often feels like it’s easier to spell and remember than his first name. His last name (my maiden name) is Lieberman. However, when he got the cup, this was what was listed on it:



This has to be the funniest interpretation of our last name. I had to take a picture for posterity!

Since we were limited in the attractions we could ride, we decided to check out Rafiki’s Planet Watch. So we boarded the train and made our way over. I knew there’d been some recent changes and wasn’t sure what the place looked like now.

The pathway leading up to the main building was pretty much unchanged. But the usual entryway is no longer the entrance! You have to enter through the back near the gift shop area. Pretty much all of the main space inside has been taken over by the drawing class.

I know a lot of people are happy this class is back, but I could take or leave it. I’m a terrible artist and don’t think this experience fits into this particular area. I would have rather seen updated displays, more animal interactions, etc.

Luckily, there were still plenty of cool animals to look at!


I loved this guy's name


No animals were being worked on in the vet area, but I always find that a fascinating aspect of Planet Watch. On some trips I’ve tried to get over here early to have a better chance of seeing an exam. But it’s a long way to travel especially when you like to sleep in like I do!

We didn’t have much interest in the petting zoo area, so we finished looking at the snacks and amphibians and made our way back to the train. On our way back, we got to see a presentation with a really cool owl!


I was happy we took the time to come here, even if there’s a little less going on now.

Up next: More Animal Kingdom!
 
  • SimplyGoofy

    "You are not Mickey Mouse... you are a rat!"
    Joined
    Jul 31, 2011
    That's such a bummer about the scented towels. Hopefully they were back in stock before the end of your trip!

    Your cookies are awesome! What a fun class!

    A low-key time at AK sounds amazing. I feel like AK is better if you take your time rather than rush from attraction to attraction.
     

    Verstehen

    I break for the Nautilus
    Joined
    Jul 4, 2008
    Just commenting to say I've been following along and enjoying your TR! I like your relaxed style. Nice way to get some quality time with your Dad. Hope you enjoyed your time in AK!
    Thank you so much!

    That's such a bummer about the scented towels. Hopefully they were back in stock before the end of your trip!

    Your cookies are awesome! What a fun class!

    A low-key time at AK sounds amazing. I feel like AK is better if you take your time rather than rush from attraction to attraction.
    I agree. I don't think AK is a great park for a regimented plan. In fact, now that I'm older and wiser, I think any park experience is best enjoyed at a relaxed pace.
     

    Verstehen

    I break for the Nautilus
    Joined
    Jul 4, 2008
    Happy Friday! We had an ultrasound yesterday to check baby's growth and position. She's in the 80-somethingith percentile! Over 6 pounds! Yeesh. It sounds like they'll want to induce if she's not here before 39 weeks, so everything just moved up a week! So crazy! Trying to power through this report, but my energy keeps running out.

    Day 6, Part 3: Tigers and Na'Vi and Birds, Oh My!

    Dad wanted a drink after our train ride back to civilization, so we went to the bar at Yak and Yeti. I can’t remember what he got, but I’m sure it was loaded with sugar and alcohol!

    We then ventured over to Maharajah Jungle Trek. One thing we always want is to see a tiger, but it feels like the tigers are pretty much never out. This time, though, we lucked out!

    And unlucky for you, I neglected to snag a pic. D’oh! Sorry, bad trip reporter here.

    We also went into the aviary, which I’m always cautious of, because I’ve definitely been pooped on in here before. My dad had sadly discovered that the feather in the hat he bought on our first night had fallen out, so he was determined to find a feather here. He was delighted when he saw one on the ground that had fallen out of a bird. I was really against this idea. First, it seemed wrong, even though the bird obviously wasn’t using the feather anymore. Second, I actually got lice years ago from a wild bird feather in my hair so even though it was going into his hat and not directly on his head, it still felt gross to me. When I told him about my second objection, he relented and decided not to take the feather with him.

    When we got out, it was time for our only fastpass of the day, at Na’Vi River Journey. We made our way to Pandora to enjoy our relaxing boat ride.

    Am I weird for liking this ride? I remember one time I was meeting a relative at the exit of this ride, and while I waited I noticed guests who had fastpasses would say things like, “That was great, glad we had a fastpass!” and guests who didn’t would say, “Well that was terrible and not worth the wait.” I’m a weird person in that I actually suggest to people that they get a fastpass for River Journey and do standby for FoP (or rope drop it). I find the standby line for FoP goes by way faster and the ride is much more worth the wait! I’ve done standby for it several times, but the one time I did standby for this one it was miserable!

    Also, I know a lot of people complain it doesn’t have a story, but to me it does. It seems like we’re watching the animals and Na’Vi make some kind of pilgrimage to the shaman. I might be wrong, but I interpreted it like I was watching everyone walking to church or something. Anyway, it’s not my favorite ride, but I’ll pretty much never turn down a chance to go on it with minimal wait. It’s short and beautiful. My favorite part is the creatures jumping on the big leaves.

    Of course I tried to snag a picture of the shaman.



    After our boat ride we were ready to head out of the park, and we stopped in front of the Tree of Life for some lovely photopass photos. We love having this as a perk of our AP’s, but I don’t think we take advantage of it enough!





    I love that cloud in the second picture. Looks like a butterfly. Also, check out that tiny bump! Now that I'm almost three months removed from this trip, I can't believe I thought that was big! Haha.

    We then took a bus directly back to Boardwalk. We were hot, so we changed into our suits and spent some more time in the pool. I can’t remember which pool we were in this time, but I think it was the main pool.

    Once we were sufficiently refreshed, we changed again and headed back to Epcot for the evening!
     

    Verstehen

    I break for the Nautilus
    Joined
    Jul 4, 2008
    Day 6, Part 4: The Perfect Turtle

    With this being our last night and our last chance to get the festival items we wanted (for both of us—I never made it back to Epcot before F&W ended, partially because after my GD diagnosis it seemed pointless anyway), we walked through the gates with some specific items in mind.

    First up, at the Ireland booth, we tried the beer cheese with bread.



    It was pretty meh. The cheese was pretty runny and not super flavorful, and I don’t remember the bread adding much to the flavor palette.

    Next up to the cheese booth. I wanted to try the souflee. I seem to remember my dad being skeptical about this, but he ended up sharing it with me. We both liked it!



    Then to the Caribbean booth. I wanted to try the meat pastry. I can’t remember how it compared to the other meat pastries I’d had, but I do think I liked it. I rarely don’t like Caribbean food.



    We made a stop in the China shop, which is always a favorite for our family.



    We rarely buy anything but we love browsing. I love the vibe of this store. It’s peaceful and warm.

    My dad actually ended up buying a little turtle tchotchke with a bobbing head. But the only ones they had on display had heads that kept getting stuck in the little mechanism. So he made the poor saleslady bring out like three or four more turtles from the back until he found one with a sufficiently wobbling head. If you’re wondering if it was irritating and slightly embarrassing to be standing there while he individually assessed each turtle that was brought out to him, all for probably a $10 purchase, it was! :headache:

    After that Dad was full, but I still had a couple of items I wanted to try. We made our way to the small courtyard between the Belgium and Brazil booths (right between Morocco and France). I left him at a table and went to procure my two items.

    First was the cheese bread from Brazil, and then I got the chocolate waffle from Belgium. Two completely different countries, but so delicious either way. I can’t remember if I shared with Dad, or if he even wanted any. Either way, I know these were really tasty.





    I finished my snacks just before 9 pm, and it was time to secure a spot for our last viewing of Illuminations. We found one pretty much right in front of where we’d been sitting, as the park was not super crowded that evening.

    At this point it was less than a week before the show would close, so I knew it was probably the last time I would see it, and definitely the last time for Dad. I was glad that we got basically a whole year to say goodbye, but it still felt like a gut punch, realizing I would never see it again. Illuminations is my absolute favorite nighttime show at Disney. I love the message, the music, the effects. Everything about it. I knew it was time for something new and fresh, but it didn’t really make it sting any less. Still, I told myself I could get through it without being weirdly emotional, especially since it wasn’t like I hadn’t seen it countless times before.

    I was wrong.

    You guys, as soon as the music swelled I started BAWLING. I don’t think it was just the pregnancy hormones, honestly, because I’m a crier by nature. But I really thought I could get through this. It’s just a fireworks show! But no. I cried like a baby. I think I got a few funny looks from people. I didn’t care. This was my show and it was going away and I was sad.

    Halfway through, I knew I needed to get the Illuminations ears I’d been eyeing during the trip. I am not a big ears person. I have like one other pair that I don’t even know where they are right now. The headbands hurt my head and I don’t like the way the beanies look on me, so I’ve never been a big ears person. And I’m also not usually one to get dated merchandise. But I knew from how wet my face was that this was a really special time that I needed to commemorate, and I hadn’t seen any merchandise I liked better than the ears.

    So on our way out of International Gateway, I had us stop at the gift shop and picked out a pair of the ears. I didn’t even bother trying them on. I knew they weren’t really for wearing. My dad was nice enough to get them for me. I hadn’t bought much in the way of souvenirs this trip, so that was sweet.

    Back in the room, we decided to pack as much as we could. I tried on the ears and discovered that in fact, they looked quite big on me. Oh well. Like I said, they’re not really for wearing. I ended up wearing them on Halloween just randomly and haven’t worn them since. They’ve been hanging out on my dresser until I can figure out how better to display them. Open to suggestions there!



    Once I’d given myself some time to mourn and we had the bags pretty much packed, we went out and put as many of my bags as possible in my car so I could get out in the morning without much hassle. Food and my large suitcase with the stuff I’d need to get ready in the morning stayed in the room, but everything else went in the car, which did make my departure much easier.

    After that we took a much deserved break at a bar I’d never actually been to: Abracadabar!

    I was hoping it would be Trader Sam’s-ish, but I was disappointed. Aside from some digital posters on the walls, there was nothing really “magical” about this magic-themed bar. No cool events that occurred when drinks were brought out. It was just a bar with some magic memorabilia on the walls. At least that was cool.



    I can no longer remember the name of the drink we ordered, but I do remember it was delicious. The left is my non-alcoholic version, and the right is my dad’s alcoholic one.



    We chatted awhile, discussed some family stuff, details about our February trip, and stayed until close to 11 pm. Then the bar was closing up, and it was time for us to get some sleep anyway.

    We went to the room, and to bed, dreading our early wake up call and the signaling of our dreaded return to civilization!
     
  • SimplyGoofy

    "You are not Mickey Mouse... you are a rat!"
    Joined
    Jul 31, 2011
    Although I've seen Illuminations more, I was similarly sad about Wishes going away. I understand your sadness since it was your favorite nighttime show. I'm so glad you got the ears!

    All of your food from the booths looks very tasty! I'm glad you enjoyed most of it.
     

    Verstehen

    I break for the Nautilus
    Joined
    Jul 4, 2008
    Hope everyone is having a good holiday season! I'm working today and tomorrow but things are very slow. We stayed home since my DH had to work but I got some much needed relaxation time in!

    Day 7: Until We Meet Again

    This was the earliest wakeup call of the trip…7 am! Ugh. I don’t even wake up that early on a normal work day at home. But if I wanted to start work on time and have enough time to get ready and give dad a proper goodbye, it was what had to be done.

    There’s not much to say about this morning. I got up, threw on some clothes and made sure the rest of my stuff was packed. I didn’t bother with makeup since I was going right home where my husband would be sleeping. I took stock of everything, took one last look out our awesome balcony, and my dad and I headed to my car.

    This was actually the most recent time I saw my dad, and I knew that when I saw him again, most likely I’d be a mom. It was so surreal! We gave a melancholy goodbye to each other, he asked me to let him know when I’d gotten home safe, and I drove off.

    I’m sure I hit some Orlando traffic on the way home, given the hour. But I recall I got home around my usual work start time of 8:30. I brought in the foodstuff and my laptop and got to work. A few hours later, Dad texted to let me know he’d checked out and was on his way to the airport on the ME, then he updated me once he was on the plane and once he landed.

    And with that, our 2019 fall Disney trip was officially over! I can’t believe it.

    I’ll do a brief wrap-up post after this, which will include details about our February 2020 trip. I’ll also update again here once we have the baby, and once the new TR is started. I don’t think I’ll do a PTR for that trip. As you can imagine, we have a lot going on!
     

    Verstehen

    I break for the Nautilus
    Joined
    Jul 4, 2008
    Final Thoughts

    Wow, am I really finishing this report? And before the new year???? Hot dog!

    Overall, this was a very nice trip. I feel like ever since we became DVC members, each trip is better than the last, as we get into a better groove and feel less pressure to do things that we’ve done several times before. I’m glad we got to try a different resort this trip, and I’m glad we got to do an extra day. I figured I’d end with some of my best and worst moments.

    Worst Moments:

    • Not being able to indulge in certain drinks
    • Not being able to ride certain rides
    • Our Food and Wine events I would say were not as fun as last year’s. We were of course limited in what we could pick.
    • Selecting that damn turtle in China


    Honestly, those are the worst things I can think of! This was a super mellow trip and not being able to drink or ride certain things wasn’t so terrible, just a bit of a bummer.



    Best Moments:

    • Discovering the scented towels
    • Getting recognized several times at MNSSHP
    • Taking advantage of the Boardwalk amenities such as the pools and the community hall
    • Delicious food!
    • Riding TSM a million times in a row


    This trip was very special. We might never get to do a trip with just the two of us again. Although I’m excited for what’s ahead, I really cherish that we took the time to do this trip in a way we might not ever get to do again.

    Speaking of what’s ahead…

    Planning is officially underway for our winter 2020 trip. As I mentioned before, I’m not going to do a PTR for that one, but I will come back here with any major life or trip updates, as well as a link to the next report once I start it. We are going to be staying at the Polynesian Village in a studio villa February 26-March 2. My daughter will be born in early January. We actually have an induction date set for the 10th, but she may very well come before then. So that’s very exciting! She’ll still be quite young for this trip, and it will be very different than any trip we’ve done before, but as we are a laid back family, I think we’ll do just fine.

    I’m excited to hopefully try Rise of the Resistance, indulge in some adult beverages, and start to see Disney through someone else’s eyes. I really appreciate all of you who joined me on this report, and hope I’ll see you again for my next one! As Mickey would say, See Ya Real Soon!
     

    rdkeim

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2006
    Thanks for sharing your trip! You have a lot of fun times ahead. I'm sure your daughter will love Disney as much as you do :love: I'll watch for your Feb/Mar TR.
     
  • SimplyGoofy

    "You are not Mickey Mouse... you are a rat!"
    Joined
    Jul 31, 2011
    Thank you for sharing your trip!

    Even with your laid-back approach, I'm impressed that you're planning a Disney trip with a young baby. I hope everything goes smoothly for you!

    Good luck on your impending arrival!
     

    Verstehen

    I break for the Nautilus
    Joined
    Jul 4, 2008
    Thank you for sharing your trip!

    Even with your laid-back approach, I'm impressed that you're planning a Disney trip with a young baby. I hope everything goes smoothly for you!

    Good luck on your impending arrival!
    Haha thanks! It helps that I have the luxury of just going home if things get too dicey, so I figured why not try to make it work! Look forward to reporting back.
     

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