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Disney - General Thoughts & More

I decided to have two pieces.  This part is less about the day to day & more general thoughts.

I worked on this at the same time as the trip report.  But I figure I may finish these up *after* the trip stuff.

General Thoughts -

Weather

The weather was perfect most of the trip!  It was in the mid-70s and clear skies for a lot of the time. Saturday at Animal Kingdom was a bit hotter.  But over, it was amazing.  There was also thick fog Sunday for our Epcot day.  But it had burned off by the time we finished breakfast.

Our last day started with rain.  But even that had stopped by the time we were ready to drop off the luggage!

We really lucked out on the weather.  Only need we had for the ponchos I bought was on Kali River Rapids!!  *grin*

All-Star Movies

I absolutely think we made the right call with our choice of hotel.

A lot of the podcasts & things I read had me second guessing our decision.  Many of them say Pop Century or Art of Animation are better choices for the value resorts.  But All-Star Movies was the right one for us.

The theming was terrific!  The Littles loved it.  I had requested a room in the Toy Story area.  But we got put in 101 Dalmatians.  The kids adored it!  They watch a YouTuber named StacyPlays who loves 101 Dalmatians.  She had even gone there.  So they loved being where Stacy was.

We had paid for a preferred room.  I am glad we did.  It was only about $20 more a night.  And it kept us closer to transportation & the food court.  Definitely a good move.

The kids adored the little movie theater in the lobby!  They had a blast there & it kept them entertained when we were in the lobby.  They were always checking what movie was playing.

There was also a lot happening at the resort!  The schedule was stunning.  And most of it was free too.  Didn't of course *get* to any of the activities...but cool knowing we could.

When the kids are bigger, I might want to try a suite at Art of Animation.  Though they are more expensive by a fair bit...  Or try a room at Pop Century.  Heaven knows, I would love to go back to Port Orleans if we could swing a moderate.  But for this trip, All-Star Movies was perfect!

Photo Pass/Memory Maker

Album with professional pics:
https://flic.kr/s/aHskM3mz61

I tried to put the professional pics in this album.  But I may have missed some.  There were over 200+ photos & videos.

Several of the podcasts I listened to said they don't recommend Memory Maker.  Boy, do I disagree on this one!  Money well spent!!

I think if you go to Disney regularly, then yep, not worth the money.  But if this is a once every 4-5 year thing and/or anyone in the party wants to do Meet & Greets, it is worth it!

I loved being able to leave many things in the hands of the professionals.  And grab a photographer when we really wanted a pic.  Having pics in front of the castle & tree our first day at Magic Kingdom.  An amazing pic with the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom.  Pics of the whole family without grabbing a stranger... Love it.

I also loved not spending my time behind the lens of a camera.  I got to enjoy their reactions & know that we were still getting pics.  It was awesome.

I think I had more pics taken of me in the 5 days at Disney than the last 5 years combined!  *laugh*  I am not a photo person.  But at Disney, I didn't care.  I wanted to capture the moment with my family.  I even got into the pics with some of the characters!

The only one I am bummed about was that the professional photographer missed was a pic of Paul hugging Baloo!!  But other than that, they did an amazing job & captured so much with the kids.  In particular, the meet & greets they were awesome.

I confess that I really wish they had the photographers at the character meals too.  But I also know that would be tough.

I also love that they added things to some of the pics. There are some cute videos made of the pics!  And also they added a border to the Baloo pic.  That might be our Xmas card if we get around to having them made in time!  *smile*

There were also some cool ones with Cinderella's mice & Simba at Animal Kingdom.  Also, we got a cool video with our Seven Dwarves video clip in a little video that was awesome.  The Space Mountain one was also cool is Little Guy hadn't had such a bad experience!

I *REALLY* wish that the photographer had gotten Tinkerbelle in the pic at Magic Kingdom.  She set it up perfectly for the shot.  But Tink is missing in the pics!!  *pout*  I am hoping Paul will call them to see if they can add it.  Or maybe we can find a way to do it.  But I haven't see it when I looked.

For me, it was money well spent!  And we were able to download all the pics & do with them what we wish.

Planning

I am the first to admit that I went overboard with the planning.  But the flipside is that I don't regret it at all.  I think I was armed with loads of useful info.  I was able to steer clear of things that would have been a waste of time.  Yet also make sure we hit the must do things.

I confess I kinda miss having something to do.  *laugh*  But maybe I will get back to knitting, spinning & such. *grin*

Character Dining

I don't regret any of the character meals we did.  Though I also know that next time I wouldn't do as many.

My favs were Tusker House & Garden Grill.  Both were great character interactions.  I had heard that about them both.  They were both terrific.  Also, the food at both were super tasty.

I confess...with Akershus, I was a bit disappointed.  Both in terms of the character interaction & the food.  When Paul and I went in 2004, I really think the food was better.  There were more choices at that cold buffet.  Don't get me wrong, I still stuffed myself silly with oodles of yummy fish.  But it just didn't seem like the meatballs were as good.  I could be mistaken...it was 12 years ago.

The interaction with Belle was terrific.  But the rest kinda felt rushed.  The kids loved it though.  I think we might do it again if the kids were interested in princesses.  But if they weren't, it isn't worth the cost. 

I would definitely skip the Disney Jr. one next time.  Even if the kids won't be too big, I just didn't feel it was as well organized as the others.  It felt very rushed.  And it sucked big time that Doc Mcstuffins missed our table the first time around & we were left waiting for a half hour for her to come back...  The cast was nice & told us there was an emergency.  But it still was a waste of park time.  *sigh*

I am torn on Chef Mickey.  I liked it.  But there was a lot of waiting and all.  As I read, it was loud.  But still Little Guy was able to sleep right through it.  *laugh*  And also as read, the food was pretty meh.  Not terrible but not great.  A lot to pay for that.  Again, I would ask the kids next time if they wanted to go.

Fav Meals

Paul asked me what my fav meals were.  And I actually found this was a tough one...

I think the best food was probably Kona Cafe.  It was delicious.  The sushi was super tasty.  The pork was really good too.  We only had two sit down & order meals. And the other was Sci-Fi.  Not high dining.  So it does have an unfair advantage.  Most of the rest were buffets and/or character meals.       

Boma was a close second.  I loved the bobotie & the Zebra Domes!  The food was really good overall.  And I loved getting to try so many things.

I confess I was most surprised about Akershus... I recall it being amazing last time.  And this time...it was okay.  But not as good as I recalled.  I did stuff myself silly on the fishy stuff though.  So it wasn't all bad.  *grin*

Meet & Greets

This may be what surprised me the most.  I really enjoyed them.  I figured I would be doing them for the Littles.  But they were fun.

Mind you, being Elena was a surprise & beyond awesome, it might have put a glow on the whole thing!  She really was great.

And for the most part, the characters were great.  There were a couple of face characters were I was a bit disappointed.  But on the whole, the characters were pretty amazing.

Magicbands

I *LOVE* the tech.  I really think it is awesome.  They are super easy to wear.  I never even noticed it other than when I needed to use it.

I enjoyed it being everything.  Room key.  Park tickets.  Scan for Fastpass.   Linked with the meal plan.  Purchase too.  It was so easy!

And it worked well.  We had some issues with the finger scan at the gates.  At one point, we had to rescan my finger for Little Guy because it wouldn't read his.  But overall, it was really quick & easy.  And the kids loved being able to scan for things.

The flip side is that it is soooo easy to run up a huge bill.  I couldn't find any way to see our room charges.  I figured like other hotels, you would be able to check a menu on the tv.  Nope.

It is brilliant on their part.  They figure if you don't know how much you are spending, you will keep spending.  But we had a certain budget.  So I had to spend time most evenings to review what we had spent during the day.  I get their logic to make people spend more...  But I really would rather have been able to check online or something.

Rides as a Pooh/Baymax Shaped Person

The DIStracted Life podcast had an episode for "Pooh Shaped" people at Disney World.  She also said Baymax.  I loved putting it that way! The Touring Plans site also has good info.

I was astounded by how easily I fit on nearly all the rides.  I didn't ride a lot of rollercoasters.  But overall, I fit comfortably on everything other than Seven Dwarves Mine Train.  I had been warned about getting squished on that.  But even that one wasn't that bad.  The bar was a bit tight on my legs.  But nothing terribly bad.

I even got on a horse on the carousel.  I tend to stand next to one of the kids on most of them.  But at Disney, I felt like I could ride one.  It was really nice.

Beer

I had hoped we would find more beers on tap at Disney.  But alas, much of their beers are bottled.  *sigh*  Ah well.  I do understand. But it seems kinda sad.

It is the reason I skipped beer a couple times & had mixed drinks.  For a few bucks more, I could have a mixed drink.  Though the funny part is that I figured Paul & I would enjoy more drinks than we did.  But it just wasn't worth the cost...

Also, a lot of what was on tap was lagers & pale ales.  Meh.  I get that it is hot.  But at some places, it would have been nice to have something that matched the food & maybe even the country.

I am aware we are pretty spoiled in choices.  A lot of places now have single bottles of beer.  So we can try things from around the world.  So paying double the cost for a bottle of beer just didn't work for me.  I suspect that if the budget hadn't been so tight, I wouldn't have cared as much.  But I was needing to make sure we stayed on track with our spending.  And so when I saw the choices, I decided it wasn't worth it.

Though the flip side is that being in the NYC area, the beer prices actually seemed fairly reasonable!  *laugh*

Rider Switch

I love Rider Switch!  It was ideal.  I was really glad we used it several times.  And really grateful that in many cases, I was able to wait with Little Guy & then Elder Munchkin got to ride twice.  She loved that.

Also, the cast members were great about helping Little Guy get out when he needed to.  It was terrific to know that there was always a way to escape.  So he could change his mind while on the line.  It was a huge help.

Regrets...?

I really don't regret much at all.

I wish I had gotten to do the Everest & Rockin Roller Coasters.  But there wasn't anything I would have given up to go.  I had figured I could do them as a single rider.  But it just didn't happen.

I wish we hadn't let Little Guy go on Space Mountain...  But hindsight is a grand thing.

And I really wish I could have booked the second day MK Fastpasses in a different order.  Though I had to book them for available times.  I wish we could have tested him on another coaster first.  But he loved the one at the local carnival.  Even when Elder Munchkin didn't...  *sigh*  I was concern about his reaction.  But I decided to let him decide...

Hindsight is 20/20.  So there really isn't any way we could have known...  I just feel bad that it scared him off so much else.  But thank heavens for rider switch!!

Great Disney Suggestions -

I did a lot of reading books and websites as welll as listening to podcasts before I went.  I wanted to make a note about the best suggestions.  (And so when/if we go again, I have some idea what worked.)

Bring a battery to recharge phones

This was an amazing suggestion.  Paul & my phones would have been dead half way through the day if not for this suggestion.  I believe WDW Prep to Go suggested it.  Worth every penny!!

Bring water bottles
I think this was also a WDW Prep suggestion.  Brilliant idea.  We would fill the water bottles every morning at the resort.  This way we would stay hydrated & not blow tons of money on bottles of water.

I know when I went in 2004, I went through multiple bottles of water every day.  It is such a waste of money!

I also heard that you can ask for water cups when getting snacks.  But we never did.

Gift cards

A couple sites suggested gift cards to help control spending.  It was brilliant.  I ordered them online & they came super quick.

http://www.disneygiftcard.com/ is the official site for them.

The critical point is you have to get the physical ones.  The online ones are only for the online store.

I got each Little one of their own.  Elder Munchkin got Merida & LG got Lilo & Stitch. They each got $50 to spend.   (I did give them a bit more the last day as we hadn't spent as much as I anticipated.)  I got a Beauty & the Beast one for the bulk of the charges.

As some websites point out, if you have a credit card with cash back or a Target Red card with a 5% discount, this can also save money.  We didn't.  But it is a good thing to know.

Buy trading pins online for swapping

This was a brilliant idea.  I can't recall who suggested it.  But I bought pins off Ebay ahead of time.  Each kid ended up with 11 trading pins.  (Not sure why that number...)

There were also some specific ones I bought for each of us on Ebay that were specifically for us & not for trading.  But the trading ones were about $20.

Mind you, the kids did only one trade the whole time.  But it also meant they weren't wanting to get every pin in the place for $8 and up...  So it was a money saver.

It was a great way for them to get their toes wet with it without breaking the bank.

Rain Ponchos

A lot of the guides & podcasts suggested disposable rain ponchos.  It really was brilliant & cheap.  We lucked out with our weather.  But it was a good piece of mind to know we had them.  And they were light enough that they were great to have readily available.

Water Shoes

We only used them for Kali River Rapids.  But I was soooo glad we had them for that.

Phone # on Magic Band

I had read to make sure your kids knew your phone number.  Or if they were young, do something like temporary tattoos in case they got separated somehow.  Someone even said you could just do a Sharpie & write on them.  That seemed a bit extreme to me...but I did understand not wanting to lose your Littles.

And there are a lot of people at Disney.  It is easy for a Little one to look at something & get separated.  We didn't have that issue.  But I would rather be safe than sorry!!

I think I was just looking on Etsy at Magicband decals.  I saw someone who had a customizable decal with a phone #!  Brilliant!  The kids knew the number was on the inside of their Magicband should, heaven forbid, we get separated.  But it wasn't visible to anyone.  It was pretty good to know they had the numbers if needed.

Bitband

Sharon of WDW Prep mentioned on one of her shows that there were these things called Bitbands.  They were designed for Fitbits.  But they work with Magic Bands as well.  They are cheap.  I ordered them off Amazon.  They arrived super fast.

They wrap around the end to hold it down.  It means that should it pop open, it will still stay in place.  Last thing you want it to worry about a Magicband is it is lost.

Though do not get the Jr. one.  Even when we made the kids Magicbands smaller, the Bitband Jr. were too small.  We struggled to get it in place every day.  The regular size would have worked just as well and not been such a pain to get into place.


Sites/Resources -

Touringplans.com/Lines App/Unofficial Guides

http://touringplans.com/

The first guidebook I read for Disney was the Unofficial Guide to Disney World.  So I may be biased. But even after reading two more guides & skimming another, I kept going back to the Unofficial Guides. 

I was lucky that the library had the core one, the Kids edition & the Illustrated one.  The Kids one was probably the one I read most.  It was great about discussing each age bracket of kids.  So I could read different reactions to rides and such.  Then make an educated decision about it.

I confess that I was reluctant to purchase a subscription to the site.  But given all the info in the guides, I decide to do it.  With the book discount, it was only $8 for a year. Even at the fill price of about $13 or so, it was worth every penny.  It has so much info.

Their crowd calendars were really helpful when we started looking at dates.  I was able to see what the predicted crowds were.  I looked at what the crowds would be & tried to put us in the parks when they would be the least crowded.  They also list weather at that time of year.

They also have maps of the resorts & views from the room.  They allow you to fax a room request.  We didn't get the one I requested.  But one of the people said they have about a 70% success rate.

I adore the customizable touring plans.  They really helped me to decide what to do and when.  The site is able to optimize the plan & tweak it.  It meant I could take a look at the attraction times & really focus on what mattered.

On the website, you can tell it if you want less walking or less time on lines.  You can tell it your walking rate so it gives times about how long it will be between attractions.  But you can also drag & drop steps to figure out what works best.  It will then estimate how long it will take & the amount of wait time.  It is AMAZING...

The only thing I think it lacks is the character meet & greets.  I know they can take more time, but Merida & some others aren't available at all on the plan.

I was grateful for Kenny the Pirate's site for the character info.  But on Touringplans, I was able to add them in as meals or breaks.  So they were listed in the plans.  It was good to have it all there.

Lines App is terrific!  It is really good for so much.  LOVE being able to see the length of the ride.  It helped when trying to figure out what we could do before a dining or FP reservation.

The app also has more accurate wait times for the attractions.  Disney tends to pad the numbers, sometimes in an effort to get people to not wait.  But also sometimes so people don't get upset when they wait more time than the timer told them they would.  The Lines app & website pull data based on the past as well as that in the park.  It is pretty nifty.

I wish I had managed to contribute some data.  But the one time I tried to set a timer, I forgot about it until almost an hour later.  Whoops!

I really wish the app had maps!  Made it challenging as I kept having to flip back & forth between the Disney app & the Lines app.  I really would have preferred to just have to have one open. 

I also really wish the app was as good about retaining the walking vs. time settings from the website.  It doesn't seem to do that.

But either way, it was a great tool!  It also allowed me to keep track of what we wanted to do.

Two of the guys that work on the Guide & Touringplans site also have a podcast which is tied for my fav Disney podcast.  It is the Unofficial Guide with Jim Hill.  It has great stuff about the history of Disney.  Jim Hill is a terrific storyteller.  It is amazing.  I really love it and even after I got home, I continue to listen to it.

WDW Prep to Go

http://wdwprepschool.com/

Love the site & the podcast.  Shannon has a lot of really great info on planning for your Disney trips.  There are so many useful tidbits of info.  Her packing list is extensive & well thought out.  The podcast has tons of tips to make things easier.  I really love it.

The great thing about the podcast is that she focuses on planning.  So the material isn't dated for the most part.  There may be things like changes to Fastpass strategies that don't apply as new attractions are open & some are closed.  But most of the other things are still great knowledge.

Down side is that she started a subscription section of the site.  So I found getting to the free info was more challenging.  And a lot of the things like her touring plans are done on Touringplans.com with a whole lot more data.  So I don't quite get why she did it.  I didn't pay for the subscription.

Also, with the site launch, her podcasts dropped off significantly.  And she then took a break for family purposes.  I get it completely after pouring so much time into the subscription part of the site.  But it was still a bit frustrating as the timing was right while I was planning.

But I really think she has a lot of good info.  And a lot of it is still free.

Kenny the Pirate Character Site

Free site
http://www.kennythepirate.com/
Paid site
http://www.characterlocator.com/

This is a great resource.  I used a lot of the free stuff.  But also about 3-4 weeks before our trip, I decided to pay for the extra features.  It was $7-8 for the year.  So it was worth the money.

One of the cool features is that it lists some things that aren't readily available.  There are special character meet & greets.  It also lists all the characters & where you can find them.

The maps on the site were the best I found on any site because they list both the characters & attractions.  The Disney app doesn't actually list all the stuff!  It was frustrating.  Had it not been for the site, I don't know that we would have found Merida, much less been prepared for the wait time.  It also helped because his site lists the times that she was there.  So we knew there was a break in the middle of the day.

If you want to meet a lot of characters, it is worth the cost.  If you don't care about characters, the maps might still be good.  Though I can't recall if you can view those for free.  I think so.

Mouse Chat Podcast

I think this has turned into my fav Disney podcast.  There are five people who chat about Disney. They focus on Disney World.  But they cover other places as well.

Three of them are travel agents.  Two I think are the owners of the travel agency.

I love that they have different perspectives.  They all love Disney, but they are also different.  So it is fun to hear the interplay between them all.

This one is tied with the Unofficial Guide for fav podcast.  It has stayed in the podcasts even after the trip.  It is entertaining.

I might even try their agency when I book another Disney vacation.

Disney Food Blog

http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/

I love this site. I read reviews of different restaurants.  There are great articles on fav snacks.  I poured over the Food & Wine guides.  For anyone interested in food at Disney, this is the best resource I found.  They discuss new restaurants & old. And have lots of info.  I used this tons in planning where I wanted to eat.

I really wish they would get back to podcasting.  I really love their podcasts.  But they seemed to have stalled.  There is only a handful of them.  But they are entertaining.

Though on a less positive note, I wouldn't suggest paying for their guides.  I found they are the info on their website for free but in a pdf format.  Pdf is not great for reading on most screens.  May just be my experience.   

Allears.net

http://www.allears.net

I used this on our first trip in 2004.  It was one of the few Disney planning websites.  Still has terrific info.  But I didn't use it a lot this time.  I would check menus there.  Though the Touringplans site also has menus.  So I would

DIStracted Life podcast

I came upon this one late in my planning.  I like the host.  She is fun & has a good sense of humor.  She recently added a cohost.

She is married to a Disney travel agent.  Might try him if not the Mouse Chat folks.

DIS Unplugged

I debated if I would mention this one.

I love the short Top 5 segments & such.  They are terrific.

But I confess that I really dislike their longer news shows.  They have strong opinions.  Which I sometimes really like.  But even when I agree with them, one of the hosts in particular will beat the point into the ground.  So I keep skipping forward in hopes that he will move on.

I ended up unsubscribing after my trip. But if I go back, I will see if they are still at it as I like their focused shows.

Next Disney Trip -

As anticipated, we are already thinking about another trip.  *laugh*  Won't be for a while...but still...  I am sure we will again.

Time of Year

I don't think I would schedule it during Jersey Week again.  When we went has been called Jersey Week because the NJ teacher conferences mean Thursday & Friday were off.  Schools were also closed on Tuesday for Election Day.  It meant the parks were pretty busy...

I wish we had known about the Holiday Special filming as that made both Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom super crowded while we were there.  Touringplans.com originally had them in the 6 or 7 level for crowds.  However, *AFTER* they both were 10s.  The Max.  Not fun.  Mind you, I don't know how far in advance they announce when they are filming.  So it might not have been able to predict that...  I don't know.

But a friend did mention that Magic Kingdom was actually *less* crowded on Friday than it has been on Monday & Tuesday!  YIKES!  Too many people for me...

Though I actually loved all the holiday decorations.  Every park had an amazing Christmas tree. And the resorts were already starting to decorate.  There was a stunning piece at the Polynesian.  So I think it might actually be good to go the week before Thanksgiving, but after Jersey Week.

I would also be curious to check the crowds for the Spring.  That could be good as well.

Weather wise, it was ideal.  So staying at a time when it wasn't too hot is pretty key!

I know as the kids get bigger their school schedule will matter even more.  But unless something changes, they are smart enough to make up the work.  So other than big tests and/or projects, I suspect they would be fine taking some time off school.

Time Off After the Trip

I took the day after the trip off.  I would take at least 2 to 3 days afterwards off.  I still felt like I needed more recovery time!  STILL do!  *grin*

I am grateful for the long Thanksgiving weekend to recover!  I plan on getting some sleep this weekend...

Flight Times

While it was nice getting to the resort as early as we did, I don't know if I would do it that early again. Of course, it depends on how old the kids are next time.  But Little Guy was beat by about 6 pm & slept through Chef Mickey.

And yes, I do wish we had a later flight home.  We had schedule it for 8:30 pm.  It would have been late, but it would have given us most of the last day in the parks.  Instead it was only 4 1/2 hours of park time.

If there were a holiday party when we go again, I might have a later flight in & then just get a party ticket.  That might be a wiser choice.

Use a Travel Agent

In all the research, I learned there are a lot of travel agents that specialize in Disney trips.  And they are getting paid by Disney.  So they don't cost more.

Some will book dining reservations & Fastpasses for you.  Some charge extra for that.  Some don't.  So next time, I think I would go with someone who can do a lot more of the planning.  I like planning.  But I didn't enjoy stressing the dining reservations & FPs.

I also want someone else dealing with the flights!  I really don't want to worry about that again.  It was a major headache with United.  I want someone who can check these things...

Dining Plan

I feel a bit torn about the dining plan.  It was really nice to have the Deluxe plan.  Three meals & two snacks plus appetizers for table service meals.  It was good to schedule meals based on desire but not worry about the cost.

But we had 11 snack credits out of 32 left on our last day!!  I really thought we would tear through the snack credits.  I was hording mine for Food & Wine but used 0!  Two a day was overkill.

Also with Little Guy passing out at Chef Mickey & also not eating dinner at Epcot, we still had a meal credit left for him.  *sigh*  We used one when we paid for a breakfast out of pocket.  I *should* have exchanged it for three snack credits & grabbed something before we left.  But I didn't...

With the appetizers, I was often the only person getting them...  Other than Kona Cafe, we didn't get more than one appetizer.  We got three there.  And with dessert included, I ended up leaving most of one of the appetizers.  So while I enjoyed the option, it would have been smarter to have not had them included.

I think if we were to do it again, I would go with the middle of the road plan.  If they even still have that next time we go...  Disney keeps changing dining.  So who knows...

Though I did run the numbers again on http://www.distripplanner.com/.  We did save money.  But we were doing a lot of table service.  So it makes sense.

But when the kids are 10+, they are adults for the dining plan.  And while I think Elder Munchkin could do some damage, Little Guy, not so much.  There were some meals were I suspect EM would have ordered from the adult menu & Paul would have gone with the kids' one.  *laugh*

Travel in General -

Travelocity & United

I will not use Travelocity or United again!

I am still really angry that Travelocity didn't tell me about the time change for the return flight.  And even more pissed that United didn't respond to my email about if for THREE WEEKS after I contacted them.

And then United offered a refund FIVE DAYS before the trip!!  Yah, right!  *shakes head*  And they said they don't do partial refunds or anything.  I would have taken a free checked bag.  Something that said, hey, we screwed up & want to make you feel better.

Someone told me they got a partial refund on Delta.  I also got notification when my transfer flight got changed by Delta.  And I booked that through Travelocity.  So it wasn't only Travelocity at fault for the mistake!

My TN flight with Delta was terrific.  So either Delta or JetBlue will get my business in future.

Also, the fact that they *SPLIT MY ITINERARY* from my families less than 24 #@$ HOURS BEFORE MY FLIGHT* did not make me happy.  And again WITHOUT TELLING ME! *sigh*

I should not have been on the phone with United at MIDNIGHT when I was leaving the next day.  There is no reason for that.  Paul got a text to check into his flight.  I didn't.  I gave them my email & cell.  And I BOUGHT THE TICKETS!  The reservation was made UNDER MY NAME!  And you don't tell me or contact me?!  BS!

Nope.  United will not get my money again...

And Travelocity *got notified* of both the flight change & itinerary.  But NEITHER time did they email me.  Nope.  BS!!  Not getting my business.

I will probably use Travelocity or another site to search the flights.  But then I will book direct.  Mind you, I don't know when I will be flying again.  But we shall see.

Wrap Up -

I am so thrilled with the trip.  There were some hiccups.  But I really feel like I checked into lots of things & it was an awesome trip.

I am definitely checking out the two holiday specials.  I doubt we will appear anywhere in them. But you never know.  *laugh*

All in all, I am really happy with the trip. I think it went well.  Everyone had a good time.  So hooray!!
 

DISNEY!! Trip Report - Part Two

Continued from last post...

Day 4 - Sunday, Nov. 13th
Epcot

Album for Day:
https://flic.kr/s/aHskvksDUH

We had an early day the next day.  We had an 8:05 reservation at Garden Grill for the Chip 'n' Dale Breakfast.

I loved this meal!  The food was amazing.  There was a pan of Sticky Bun Bake & a skillet with all sorts of breakfast yummies.  And the warm chocolate-hazelnut sauce for the waffles was soooo good!  Yum!

The server was terrific and made sure we knew that if we wanted anything else, just let him know.  But we didn't even finish what we had.

I loved that the restaurant rotates & you get to see scenes from the Land.  It was really cool.

And like Tusker House, the character interactions were great!  Mickey & Pluto came to the table more than once.  Pluto offered to sign Little Guy's hat which he loved!  It was really terrific.  And we learned the difference between Chip & Dale. *laugh*

This & Tusker House had the best character interactions.  And both places the servers were outstanding.  Very awesome.

We headed straight to Soarin' and got on within no time.  Though right when we got to loading, Little Guy started crying and saying he didn't want to do it!  *sigh*  Poor guy.  As always, the cast member was awesome.  I told her we wanted to do rider swap.  She has me & LG stand at the exit.  Paul & Elder Munchkin went first.  Afterwards, I got to go.  So EM got to ride twice.

I have to say WOW!!  It was amazing.  I see why it is on all the must do lists.  It was truly amazing.  I love it and it is a must do for me.

Though I do think LG made the right choice.  There were times when it felt like you were high up.  And I don't think he would have been happy.  Poor guy...  But we didn't push him to ride it.  And probably lots better that we didn't.

We headed to Living with the Land as it was super close.  LG bulked at that too.  He said he didn't want to do any rides. We tried to explain it was a slow boat.  No dips.  Not fast moving.  But he wouldn't go.  So I waited with him.  Paul & EM really liked it.  So I am glad they went. Though I confess.  I was kinda disappointed LG wouldn't do it.

We headed to the Meet & Greet with Joy & Sadness.  LG really loves Sadness.  She is blue after all.  The cast member said it was a 40 minute wait.  We were tempted to leave.  But the Littles really wanted to meet them.

I don't think we waited that long.  I think it was more like 20 minutes or so.  And it was worth it.  Both Littles really loved meeting them.  The whole area was themed & adorable.

Baymax was right across the way.  So we also went there.  Timing is everything.  At one point, there was next to no line.  But when we got on it, it was about a 15 minute wait.  Again, the theming helps.  But the Littles were getting restless.

I have to say, for all the waiting, they did really well. It helps that they were things they wanted to do, but still.  It is tough.

We went to The Seas with Nemo & Friends.  Little Guy said he liked the Little Mermaid right at MK.  And this was very similar.  He started to get scared online.  But we told him it was like the Little Mermaid.  So he went on it.  He enjoyed it which was really good.  *smile*

Next we went to Turtle Talk with Crush.  Both of the kids adore it.  Elder Munchkin got called on by Crush.  She was super cute.  *smile*  They both had a lot of fun.

After Crush, we had to scurry to get to our 12:00 reservation at Akershus!  It was a hike from where we were.  But we got there on time.  We had to wait a few to go inside.  But it wasn't too long.

We got to meet Belle first.  She is in a little area as a greeter.  There was a photographer there.  She was sweet and asked the Littles what books they like to read.  Elder Munchkin told her that Belle is my favorite princess.  *laugh*  Belle was very good with the Littles.

Little Guy realized that he forgot to give Belle the picture he drew for her!  One of the cast members said they would give it to her.  He was a bit disappointed.  But he was good about it.  He did give Cinderella the drawing he did for her.  Elder Munchkin gave her the group drawing she made for all the princesses.  It had everyone.  (She added a couple the day before!)  Cinderella was very gracious and said she would have to show all the other princesses at tea time later.

Besides Cinderella, there was Snow White, Arial & Aurora.  I was glad Arial was there.  She only has another Meet & Greet at the MK.  So if they didn't see her there, they would have missed her.  And I think they might have been disappointed.

Mind you, they didn't catch Jasmine.  She is often with Aladdin, back in the Morocco area. But it was getting late by the time we were in that area.  So I wasn't sure if they would even be there.  So I just skipped it.

I confess that I wasn't as taken with Akershus as the last time we were in Epcot.  I think changing it to a princess meal was brilliant on Disney part.  It takes a lot of the pressure off of trying to get a reservation at Cinderella's Royal Table.

They had an adorable princess procession around the restaurant.  Princes were welcome too.  The Littles both were in it and had fun.

But I really feel like the food wasn't as good.  The cold buffet had some nice choices with the various fish.  I love the Norwegian fish dishes.  But the cold buffet seemed a lot smaller than it was when we went...  I could be wrong.  It was over 12 years ago.  But it seemed like when we were there, there was a bigger selection.  And honestly, I recall the meatballs being better.  Mind you, I thought they were *amazing* the first time.  And they were tasty the second time.

Mind you, Paul & I spent ages after our first trip hitting various Scandinavian restaurants in the city to find more meatballs! *laugh*  There are some yummy places.  And honestly, we both like Ikea meatballs too!  *chuckle*

Little Guy didn't like the pizza at all.  He wouldn't eat it. I told him he had to eat at least some of it to qualify for dessert.  That set him into a mood.  *sigh*  I also think he was upset that he couldn't give Belle the picture he drew.

He kept saying no and got louder about it.  After a while, he calmed down.  But it was not fun.  It took a whole lot longer for the meal than we had planned because of that...  *sigh*

Mind you, this was day four.  In a series of really busy and overstimulating days.  So the fact that he had gone that long without fuss was good.  Not to say the kids were perfect the whole time.  But it was really minor fussing.  I really think they were amazing well behaved.

The dessert was three items for the table.  The Rice Cream was the one that came highly recommended from our server.  She was right.  It was really tasty!  The chocolate one was nice too.  There was an apple loaf cake too.  They were all good.  Though the Rice Cream was the best of them all.  And that was coming from a chocolate lover.  *laugh*

Because lunch took so long, we almost missed the 12:45 FP for Frozen Ever After.  But we got in before the tail end of it.  Little Guy decided he didn't want to ride it either.  So we did rider swap again.

The nice thing was that we got to stand by the ride line.  I talked with the guy who was running the controls. He tried to tell LG it wasn't so scary.  He said it was only about a 12 foot drop at a 45 degree angle.  He didn't think it was too scary.

I told the cast member that I really liked Malstrom.  And I thought it was largely the same.  He said it was the same track.  I asked about the extra track that was added.  He said there was.  So we talked a bit about the ride which was nice.

When Paul & Elder Munchkin got off, EM said it was really good that LG didn't go on it.  There was a drop that was *backwards*.  It wasn't huge.  But even Elder Munchkin was worked up about it.  That would not have gone over well with LG.  Also, I really think the drop seemed higher than 12 feet.  But it was dark.  So it could have been an illusion.

I loved the ride.  The theming was adorable.  And I think it was really well done.  Of course, I forgot to make a note that a lot of the visuals are on the right hand side of the ride.  So for both rides EM was on the left!  But she had a blast.  Though again, spent a lot of the ride worrying about when the drop was coming. *smile*

Would I wait in an hour stand by line... ? I don't think so.  But it was fun.

After the ride, we went through the shop that has a troll statue.  I have a pic of Paul in my cube in front of that.  So I had to get another of him with the Littles!

We headed to the Anna and Elsa Meet & Greet.  It was right next to the Frozen ride.  It was a 25 minute posted wait.  It was probably really that long.  The queue is really well done.  So that helped.

The kids were beyond thrilled!  It was really funny.  I think Little Guy actually got kinda shy with Elsa.  It was super sweet.

When I asked Little Guy on the way home what his favorite thing was, he said meeting Elsa.  So he was really happy about it.

Paul really wanted the  Norwegian coffee that he had last time.  So we stopped at the bakery.  And turns out they have it iced!!!  It was amazing!!

We also got some snack items.  I had to get the Creme horn.  Elder Munchkin kept waffling on what she wanted.  But ultimately, she decided she also wanted the creme horn.  We both devoured them.  YUM!!! Little Guy wanted the blue Frozen cupcake.  It had a blue piece of sugar on the top.  It was a pretty cupcake.  Everyone was happy with their choices.

We started to wander further into the World Showcase.  We missed Mexico completely as we tore through to get to our lunch reservation & didn't want to back track.

I knew Mulan was in the China area.  I didn't realize however that she was only there at certain times.  Elder Munchkin spotted the sign with the times...and we were close to one of the times. We wander around trying to figure out where she was.  By the time we finally found her, there was quite a line.  But the kids wanted to wait.

Mulan was adorable. And the kids really enjoyed meeting her.  So it was worth the wait.

We kept going by the Food & Wine booths.  But it didn't help that the first couple were out of things.  One of the places with a beer flight had it crossed off.  They were out of one of the beers so they weren't doing the flights.  And the lines were LLLLOOONNNNGG!

I got exactly ZERO things from the Food & Wine booths!!  I still can't believe it!   I did all this research, checking on the booths.  But it was the last Sunday of F&W.  I kept looking at the lines and thinking that many of the things were items I could get at home...

Yes, I know, I am soooo spoiled!  But I can get some much good food in the city and even in JC.  So it was tough to justify the lines when there were only a few items at each booth.

I think if the Australian & New Zealand booths hadn't been at the beginning, I would have gotten something from them.  But we wizzed by to get to lunch.  And I couldn't bring myself to backtrack.  They had lamb & venison...both sounded tasty...

Paul did get some amazing Innis & Gunn beer at the Scotland booth!  (That was at the end of the day.  But talking about the booths.)  Unfortunately, they were out of the Irish Whiskey Aged Stout!!  *pout*  They said they didn't have that outside the UK!!  *sniffle*  But they had the original one available. So Paul got some of that.  It was super tasty.

The funny part was that I had store up all these snack credits with F&W in mind!  *laugh*

We went to Germany.  The stationary German booth had a massive line.  I went into the quick serve restaurant counter for snacks & got the same beers & pretzel as all the people were waiting for outside!!  With only one person in front of me.  *sigh*  The kids ran around on the patio looking at the water while Paul & I enjoyed a nice Dunkel & Octoberfest.  It was lovely!

We wandered over the Italy pavilion.  It was as beautiful as I remembered.  The kids enjoyed it too.  They liked the fountains a lot.

I asked them to help take a picture of me & Paul.  It was on a bridge where someone had taken a pic for us last time.  It was nice getting to recreate the pic.  And even more awesome that our Littles took the pic.

I should place them side by side.  It would be great...  *smile*

I had hoped to catch a bit of the Eat to the Beat Concert.  Big Bad Voodoo Daddy were playing.  We walked by the stage but another band was playing.  So we wandered towards Japan.

I got a glass of plum wine & the Littles got some shaved ice.  Unfortunately, my plum wine got knocked over.  So I only had a couple sips.  *pout* I thought about getting another.  But I decided not to.  Ah well.

We were still close enough to the stage to hear the music.  So I got to hear Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.  I got to enjoy the music without too many people.  So it was nice.

I had told Elder Munchkin about the pick a pearl in Japan.  The woman from WDW Prep suggested it.  It was a lot of fun.  Both Littles & me each got one (so three total.)  I probably could have skipped it.  But it was fun.  There was a whole lot of ceremony to it & it was great.

The Littles got bottles to hold their pearls.  I didn't get anything.  I figured maybe at a later date, I would get it made into something.  (And turns out on Etsy there are people who make holders for them at a quarter of the price as the settings at Disney!)

The Littles also got some cute erasers.  EM got a Lucky Cat.  LG got a bowling & ball set.  They are very adorable.

The sun didn't just set, but dropped!  It was dusk when we went into the building with the pick a pearl.  And we came out to darkness!!  It was only 6 pm.  But it suddenly felt *REALLY* late.

I had originally made an 8:30 dining reservation at Spice Road Table.  Illuminations was supposed to be at 10.  And it is a location where you can see the fireworks.  So I figured it could be great.

In my pre-arrival brain, I thought the kids could do it.  I did *plan* an afternoon break that all the guidebooks recommend.

But after the first or second day, I realized it was insanity to think it was a good idea to do that.  So I cancelled the reservation.  With so much amazing food at Epcot, a dining reservation didn't seem needed.

I figured Elder Munchkin would like to try French food.  One of the Monster High movies features Paris.  So of course she wants to go to Paris. *laugh*

I had read good things about Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie.  I figured it would be good to go there.  Elder Munchkin & I could grab something.  The Boys could grab something in England or such.

After the amazing Croque Monsieur at Be Our Guest, I really wanted another.  Bad choice...  *sigh*  It was not nearly as good.  *sigh*  It was kinda tough and a bit cold in the center.  Meh.  On the other hand, the ham & cheese Croissant EM got was amazing.  And the Vichyssoise (potato and leek soup) was tasty.  EM *loved* the soup.  She ate more of that than anything.

The desserts however were outstanding!  I got something chocolate that was good.  But it had mouse that turned to liquid fairly quickly.  Little Guy had something with strawberries that looked good.  I think I tried it.  Paul got a chocolate eclair which was yummy.  Elder Munchkin was torn.  She got a cookie, but then wanted the Napoleon.  Given we had a ton of snack credits, I told her she could get both.  But she had to share.  I think the Napoleon was the best of all of them.

Since it was so dark, it felt super late.  The boys decided they would get something back at the hotel.  Paul did get the super tasty beer from the Scotland Food & Wine booth.  But it still cracks me up that it was the *only* thing any of us got from a F&W booth!!

We stopped at the Art of Disney shop on the way out.  And WOW!  There is some stunning stuff there.  I wanted the Beauty & the Beast Stain Glass window!   As well as several of the Nightmare Before Christmas sets.  But there were also some astounding pieces that were 3D setups of the rides like Haunted Mansion.  So much cool stuff.  It was hard to drag all of us out of there!  *grin*

Missed:
The Circle of Life
Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
Journey Into Imagination With Figment
Spaceship Earth
Mission: Space
Test Track
Illuminations

So yah.  We missed a whole lot of things on the Epcot.  Paul & I were sad about Mission: Space.  We both loved it last time.  But with Little Guy refusing to go on rides, even Living with the Land, we knew he wouldn't go on Mission: Space.  And that is not something that is as much fun if we couldn't do it together...  Too bad as I think the Littles would have had fun.

I also really wanted to get to the Short Film Festival.  Little Guy loves the shorts at home.  And getting to see them on a big screen would have been fun.  But since we rushed through the beginning to get to our breakfast reservation, we didn't get back until late.

I *really* wish Illuminations weren't so late.  The only way it would have been possible is if we did a midday break & the kids actually napped.  It is a lovely idea. But in reality, it just wasn't gonna happen.

Test Track could have been fun. But I don't think it was a must do.  The rest were okay to miss.

But I also feel like we got to see a lot of the different areas.  And that to me is what makes Epcot amazing.  They got to see the Chinese pavilion.  We wandered in Italy.  And they looked out at the water in Germany.  And we looked at the Koi in the garden in Japan.  And honestly, I think that beats rides with Epcot.  That is what makes Epcot so wonderful.

I had debated if the Littles should try the Agent P game.  And after the Wilderness Explore badges in Animal Kingdom, I decided not to do it.  I love the badges in AK.  But I really didn't want them racing about Epcot, trying to get to the next clue.  I also debated them trying the Remy Food & Wine quest.  But so glad we didn't do that either.  I think we did enough without going crazy.

We got back from Epcot about 8:30/9.  Little Guy was done.  He didn't want food & just went to bed.  I went out and got Paul some food while the Littles got ready for bed.  They were both passed out by the time I got back to the room!  I am glad they didn't stay up as we had an early morning the next day.  So I was grateful they got some sleep.

I wanted to get things ready for the next day.  Got things squared away with the front desk.  Went back to the room & made sure we were all packed & ready to go.

I went to check into the flight about 11:30.  I tried to check in with the confirmation # I had.  And Paul & the Littles were listed.  But not me!  I confess that I got pretty panicked.  Checked the United website.  Showed the three of them.  Not me.

At midnight, I got on the phone.  WHY CAN'T PEOPLE HAVE NUMBERS TO PUSH ON PHONE MENUS?!!  I was trying to be quiet.  People were sleeping in the room.  But I started having to practically shout at the phone...  Woke up Paul. *sigh*  Though he went back to bed.

Long story short.  They changed my reservation #.  WHAT??!  WHY??!  They said it wat about the hotel.  I realized later that Magical Express was connected with our flight.  So they put the Boarding Passes on our door. That was awesome.  But I really wish I had known they would check us into the flight!  *sigh*

I did confirm that I had a confirmation & was checked into the flight.  So it was fine.  But it was not a fun experience to have at midnight before you were leaving.  Might not have been so panicked, but United is the same people that cancelled out return flight & put us on an earlier flight *WITHOUT TELLING ME*.  *sigh*  So our last day at the parks was already 2 1/2 hours shorter than it was supposed to be...

I think I got to sleep about 1.  Hard to unwind after that.  But I was also exhausted!

Day 5 - Monday, Nov. 14th
Hollywood Studios & Going Home...*sniffle*

Album for Day:
https://flic.kr/s/aHskNE8Zgd

It was our final day.  *sniffle*

We had to get up & moving pretty quickly.  We made sure everything was packed the night before.  Just left out the change of clothes & any essentials.  Everything else was packed & ready to go.

We had an 8:05 reservation at Hollywood & Vine for the Disney Junior breakfast.  I checked multiple times if the kids wanted to bail on it.  But they insisted they wanted to do it.  I had set it up mostly to get us into the parks early.  I really didn't think they would care about the characters.  But they really loved it.

Paul & the Littles had to go to the bathroom when we first got there.  And wouldn't you know it, Doc Mcstuffins came & went quickly while there were in the bathroom.  *sigh*  One of the cast members said she would be around again in about 20 minutes.  Wasn't thrilled as in other places, the characters would swing by again if they didn't catch you at the table.  But she was first. So I figured we would have just finished with the others when she came back around.

The kids caught Jake (of the Neverland Pirates,) Handy Manny & Sofia.  And then the wait began. After a while, I asked one of the staff when Doc would be back.  She said 5-10 minutes.  Then about 3-5 minutes later, the same person came over to the table to tell us that there was an emergency at the Clinic.  So it would be about 20 minutes.

We were already later than I wanted.  I tried to get the kids to go.  But Elder Munchkin was certain she wanted to stay & wait.  *sigh*  So we did.

I had booked the breakfast in hopes of getting out in time to get a spot for Jedi Academy Training.  LOL!!  When we showed up for our breakfast reservation, there were already people at the gate!  This was about 7:50 and the park didn't open until 9!!  They were waiting to get in line for Jedi Training.  *sigh*

We asked the kids if they wanted to get online for Jedi Training or wait for Doc.  Little Guy wanted Jedi Training.  Elder Munchkin wanted to stay.  So Paul took LG.  They saw the line & came back!  It was really long...  And Paul rightfully knew that even if they did *get* a spot, it would probably be after we had to leave the park.  *grumble*

The waiter was super awesome and offered us drinks to go.  It was very kind of him.  Paul & I took some coffee & got water for the water bottles.

Doc came around and the Littles were happy.  So that was good.

We decided to try & meet Chewbacca before the lines got long.  The sign said 20 minutes.  We walked right up!

We also saw the Jawas.  I really *meant* to have something in the backpack to trade with them.  But hey, if that was the only thing I forgot, I am a happy gal!!

We had a Toy Story Midway Mania Fastpast for 9:00am.  We got there about 9:45.  I am glad we had the FP as the line was already pretty long.  It was a whole lot of fun!  I am really glad we did it.

We also had a FP for Star Tours: The Adventures Continue.  So we headed over there after Toy Story.  It was so cool.  Our names & hometown came up on the screens when it was showing the boarding area.  It is such a fun way to use the Magicband tech.

I read/heard that there was supposed to be a lot more customization of that sort with the Magicbands.  But it didn't happen.  But it is cool there are some place where it does happen.

When Little Guy got close to the front of the line, he decided he was scared & didn't want to ride.  As a huge Star Wars fan, Paul needed to go on it.  So he & Elder Munchkin rode it.  I headed to the gift shop with Little Guy.

Little Guy decided he needed the R2-D2 Ears.  Hard to resist as they are so adorable!  *smile*  Elder Munchkin kept looking around at what she wanted.  She decided on a Chewy plush that is *adorable*!  I saw it while she was in the ride & wanted it myself!  *grin*

I confess that I was surprised neither one wanted a lightsaber!  I figure that was what they would decide they wanted.  They were pretty cool!

We were right near Muppet*Vision 3D so we headed over to catch that.  And as predicted, the Littles loved it.  Paul & I are big Muppets fans.  So we knew we would like it. *smile*  I think it was much the same as it was when we saw it in 2004.  But we still adored it.

It was funny.  One of the podcasts was saying it needs to be updated.  And I just kept thinking, NO!  I get that the podcast was pointing out that there is better 3D at a lot of movies these days. But I am glad our kids haven't seen 3D movies at the movies.  So they still liked the effects & had fun.

We had a FP for the 11:30 show of the First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration.  I don't think we need it.  But it was nice to have as we arrived pretty late.  So we didn't have line up & wait too early.  *smile*

The whole family loved it!  The historians did a lot of adult humor.  While the kids loved all the parts from the movie.  I really enjoyed it thoroughly.

We had a 12:00 reservation for the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant.  We arrived a little late.  And then because I had to use the bathroom, we didn't get seated for a bit even after I returned.

It was cute & a lot of fun.  I was concern as a couple people said it was too dark & scared their kids.  But the kids loved the clips & had fun.  They got to sit in the front of the car.  *smile*

Paul & I both had burgers that were really tasty.  I got the spinach artichoke dip.  The server was great about telling us that we all could get more appetizers.  But we didn't.  However, we all got desert.  I got the House-made Sci-Fi Candy Bar which was amazing!  I wanna say Paul got the sundae as did the Littles.

For some reason, I thought they had boozey shakes.  But they didn't.  *pout*  Paul & I each ordered a beer.  I got the Florida Beer Co. Key West Southernmost Wheat.  Paul got the Napa Smith Brewery Lost Dog red.  I know the Wheat was bottled.  I think the Lost Dog was bottled as well.

I enjoyed Sci-Fi.  Yes, it is a bit pricey for what it is.  But I really think it was fun.  I am glad we did it.

I had hoped to get to the 1:00 show of Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage.  But lunch ran long.  So we didn't make it.  I am kinda sad about that one as I really wanted to see it.  But with the shortened day at Hollywood Studios, I feel like we got a lot done in the time we were there.

Missed:
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage
The Great Movie Ride
Voyage of the Little Mermaid

I am still sad about the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.  It was my fav ride in 2004 and I was looking forward to it.  But I don't think that it would have been a wise use of time to go.  I didn't have any idea how long the single rider line would be.

We had ELEVEN snack credits left!  Since we were on the Deluxe dining plan, we had two snack credits per person x 4 nights.  So 32 credits!  I had heard good things about Starring Rolls Cafe.  I was headed there.  But I spotted Sweet Spells.  They have a lot of packaged snack stuff.  I figured that was a wiser choice as we could take things home.

I got 4 cake pops.  One of each type they had.  There were Mickey & Minnie of course which were adorable.  But what caught my eye were the Jack Skellington & Maleficent ones!!

The Maleficent one was similar to the small ones in this pic:
http://experiencethemistress.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2014-Disney-Parks-Maleficent-Candy-Apples-Rice-Krispies-Treats-Cake-Pops-010.jpg

The caramel apples looked amazing.  But they were more expensive than a snack credit.  And honestly, caramel apples always look great.  Get about three bites of apple & then eat the coating. *laugh*

I also got some wrapped up rice crispy treats, cookies & cotton candy for us to enjoy after we got home.  We still have some cotton candy and one each of the cookies & rice crispy treats.  Nice having a bit of Disney after the fact.  *smile*

I held back on the cake pops until we were at the airport.  The Littles loved them of course!  As did I.  The Jack one was mine of course.  *grin*

We counted up signatures from meeting characters.  Not including duplicates, the kids racked up 29!  I am still stunned it was that high.  And there are some that don't sign like Chewbacca, Baymax & King Louie.

We had to be back to All-Star Movies by 2:30 for the Magical Express to the airport.  We caught a bus back about 1:30 or so.  Gave us some extra time.

We checked out the Toy Story area of the hotel as we had some time to kill.  We hadn't really explored the hotel much.  So the kids had fun.  Paul stayed with the Littles at the playground for a little while & I got the luggage out of bell services.

It was nice having the Magical Express to the airport.  I was a bit surprised that it only stopped at All-Star Movies.  But it was a full bus.  There was a large group of teens/20 somethings together.  It meant we got to stay in the bubble a little longer.  Not enough longer...but still...

Then back to reality.  The airport. *laugh*

I have to ask, why do they put all the decent eating places *OUTSIDE* security?!  There was some food that would have been better.  But when we got through security, the only things in the area with United was some lame packaged food & sandwiches.  *sigh*  I got sandwiches for us to eat on the plane.  No sides or such.  A bottle of soda & water.  $50.  *sigh*  I know airport food isn't cheap.  But it seemed pretty steep.

The plane ride home was more eventful than I would have liked.  I think it best to just leave it at some people are crazy and/or mean...  But it made for a really unpleasant trip home.  However, the kids missed most of it.  So I am grateful for that.

Much to my amazement, someone in the seat behind us remarked that the kids were the best behaved she had seen while flying.  Of course, they started acting up while people were getting off the plane.  I jokingly said "Don't ruin the illusion." The woman laughed.

Our checked bag got an earlier flight home!  *laugh*  So we had to go to another counter to claim it.  But it was there.  All good.

The shuttle to parking was reasonably quick. Though they tried to squeeze too many people in.  One guy was standing.  Not good.  But everyone had a good attitude.  So it was all worked out well.  The car was ready & waiting.  We hopped in & headed home.

We got home about 9:30.  Safe & sound...

Of course, our cat Pete made it pretty clear that it was good to have us home.  He clung to me for at least a day afterward.  Probably would have longer if I hadn't have to go into the office on Weds..

Now, I just want to know when we can go back!!  *grin*
 

DISNEY!! Trip Report - Part One

Warning.  This is gonna be a long one!  I thought about chopping it up.  But it is really connects together.  So I am just going LOOONNNGG!

I did decide to split the trip report out from the more general thoughts.  So here is the more day to day, what we did trip report segment.  But I am writing both together.  I may take more time with the other piece.  Who knows until I get it finished!

So Disney World was AWESOME!!  *grin*  Kinda hoped it would be.  And it lived up to my hopes!

I flagged all the pics on Flickr for an album.  I also made an album for each day.

Here is the biggie with all the Disney trip pics:
https://flic.kr/s/aHskNNdeFP

Day 1 - Thursday, Nov. 10th
Arrival & Day One at the Magic Kingdom

Pics for Day:
https://flic.kr/s/aHskLYMKsY

We had to get up at 3:00 AM for our flight at 6:00 AM.  Ouch!!

But on the plus side, despite all the excitement, the Littles got to bed at a decent hour the night before we left.  Wish the same could be said for me.  I was up until about 12:15 trying to tie up loose ends before the trip.

The parking shuttle was quick and easy.  Got checked into the flight.  Really glad the Littles only had to go through a metal detector.  No id needed for them as lots of people said when I polled on FB.  Glad for that.

The kids first flight was great.  They got to watch as we took off.  They also loved that there were touch screens with Disney games on the flight down.  It was also terrific as it showed the map of where we were & where we were going.  It also gave times about how much further it was, flying speed & all.  Needless to say, they didn't sleep!  *laugh* Not that we really figured they would...  Too much excitement!  *grin*

Magical Express was nice.  The kids got to watch the tv with cartoons, clips about different rides and other things.  A great way for us all to get into spirit of things.  Not that we needed any help, but still...

We got to All-Star Movies a little before 10:00.  There was a red carpet and fanfare when we arrived.  It was extra wonderful to start that way.  The "cast members" gave everyone copper colored plastic beads.  The kids loved it.

They sat in the lobby watching a movie while Paul went to check in.  It was a lot of fun that they have a mini theatre for kids to sit & watch things in the lobby.

Much to our surprise, our room was ready!  It wasn't a room in the Toy Story section which is what I requested via Touringplans.com.  It was in the 101 Dalmatians building.  A bit far, but not terrible.  We paid for a preferred room.

I am really glad we paid for the preferred room.  Given the long days, I really didn't want to be in the buildings that were really far away.

After dropping off bags and checking out the room, we hopped a bus to the Magic Kingdom.  We arrived by 11:30.

It was pretty amazing!  It was already decked out for Xmas.  Too early for me.  But I confess...with Disney, it was amazingly cool!

We planned two days in the Magic Kingdom.  I used the Touringplans.com site to figure out what attractions & shows we should do which days.  I decided that the first day we would concentrate on Fantasyland.  It had a lot of things the Littles would enjoy.

I had heard it was worth stopping in the front to get a button if it was your first time (or birthday, anniversary, etc..)  I went to get the Littles buttons. But I asked a cast member.  He told me we could get them at any shop.  So we skipped the line. Paul & the Littles headed into a shop.  Much smarter & faster.

We got pics taken on Main St. by the professional photographers.  One in front of the Xmas tree.  The next on Main St. in front of the castle.  Kinda had to!  It was really aweseome.

And then we hit Main Street Bakery.  Yum! The kids got cupcakes.  I got something chocolate.  All super yummy!

The first ride we hit was Dumbo.  Kinda a perfect start as that was Paul's fav ride when he was young.  So I think it was a perfect way to kick off the trip!

Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid was next.  It was a lot of fun.  Both of the kids enjoyed it greatly.  And a perfect one to see the amazing theming of Disney.  *smile*

We had a Fastpass for Peter Pan's Flight.  A very good idea.  The wait time was over an hour!  It was really fun!  I am not a big Peter Pan fan, but it was on a lot of people's must do lists including my Disneyphile coworker Gina.  So I am really happy we got the FP for it.

It's a small world was next.  And honestly, it was better than I recalled.  Or maybe having littles, I am a whole lot less jaded than I was about it in 2004.  It was sweet.  Yes, perhaps a bit saccharine.  But in that Disney way that made me smile.  The Littles both loved it.  And the scenes were lovely.

Little Guy was probably the biggest fan of Mickey's PhilharMagic.  All that slapstick humor that he adores.  But we all enjoyed it.  I recalled it was fun and glad I remembered correctly.

Though I had a tear in my eye when I saw the Arial's Coral Group poster.  Paul took a pic of that when we were there in 2004 for his mom who passed away earlier this year.  Miss her...

The Prince Charming Regal Carrousel was very charming.  I even got a horse & rode.  *smile*

We really needed some lunch.  I think at that point it was already after 2.  So we stopped at the Pinocchio Village Haus.  It was close by.

I got the Caprese flatbread.  It was okay.  Paul got the Chicken Parm sandwich which I think was the better choice.  The chicken was nice & tender.  Little Guy didn't like the mac & cheese.  I can't recall what Elder Munchkin got.  Overall, it was okay. Not outstanding.  I wouldn't recommend it unless you like crispy flatbread pizza.

We had a FP for Enchanted Tales with Belle.  Don't think we needed a FP at all.  But I had six total since we were going to Magic Kingdom for two days.  So I figured it was good to have it on the just in case theory.

It was great as all the kids in the theatre got roles.  Little Guy was Philippe the Horse!  He was adorable.  Elder Munchkin got to be a framed picture.  I really adored the show.  I mean, Belle is my fav princess.  So I am biased.  It definitely brought a tear or two to my eyes.  They both rocked their parts.

It was also awesome that they gave out bookmarks at the end.  So very appropriate for Belle!  The kids love them.

I had gotten a FP for the Meet & Greet with Rapunzel.  Tiana is there too.   Little Guy gave Rapunzel the pic he drew.  She was so sweet about it.  Put it in a little alcove & said she couldn't wait for Pascal to see it.  She was adorable with the kids.

Tiana was also wonderful.  Though it was hard to have her after Rapunzel.  I think Paul may have mentioned beignets.  She did an adorable bit about how she has to make them all the time for Prince Naveen.  She was astonished to hear about how the Littles had never had them.  *laugh*  It was adorable.

I had figured we would skip Cinderella's Meet & Greet since we would probably see her at Akershus for the character meal.  But when we entered the Rapunzel M&G, the door to the other side was open.  I saw Elena of Avalor.  She is a new princess on Disney Jr.  The kids adore her and I was bummed when her show was no longer on the schedule.  She is officially starting the M&G with Cinderella on the 24th.  But it seems they decided to do a soft launch.  Hooray!

When getting on the bus, I got three paper FPs that were good for everything except Seven Dwarves & Space Mountain.  So I decided to use them for Cinderella so we could get in quickly.  It was actually a waste of FPs.  But I didn't see what we would want to only do with three of us...  And they let all four of us in.  There really wasn't a line.  So we could have just done standby.  But it was all good.

As expected, the kids went nuts over Elena.  They were practically vibrating!  I *wish* I had thought to take video of it all.  But I didn't.  *pout*  They were super excited.  Elder Munchkin kept talking to her about all the things that happened in the tv show.  And Elena was right on top of it all.  She knew her stuff.

I confess that I was enchanted when Elena said she liked one of my pins.  It says I Heart Nerds.  The I is Beeker & the Heart is Dr. Bunsen Honeydew.  She said she loves nerds as her father is kinda one.  It was adorable.  And it was really cool that she pulled me in too given the kids were already so thrilled.  It really was sweet.  I adored her...

I felt a bit sad for Cinderella as the Littles were almost dismissive of her after Elena.  But she was ever the gracious one and took it all in stride.  *smile*

I have to say I really liked the Meet & Greets.  I figured after the first one, the kids would get bored & want to stop going.  But the interactions were great.  Even I started to want to do them.  It really was amazing with that.  That may have been my biggest surprise of the whole trip.  I really just figured I would get annoyed and be done.  But nearly all of them were amazing.

I really loved the Friendship Parade.  It was kinda late at 5.  But we managed to score a decent spot.  And the kids were able to sit up by the ropes.  So they saw everything.  It was terrific.

And yes the Maleficent dragon was as amazing as I had heard!!  It wasn't breathing fire.  But it was still astounding!  And the spinning wheel built into it didn't hurt either!  *laugh*  Both Paul & I loved the Merida float too!  It was bagpipes!  The Tangled one was also awesome.  All in all, it was good we caught it.  We all enjoyed it a lot.

A Frozen Holiday Wish is the castle lighting show with the Frozen folks.  It was really amazing as well.  It was a beautiful show & the lights were stunning on the castle.  Of course I tried to take pics which didn't do it justice.

Though I think it was WDW Prep that pointed out that *many* professionals film the parade & shows.  Enjoy them & don't spent the time behind your camera!

This isn't the day we were there.  But they do the same show...
https://youtu.be/HaK4Tbg58N8

I had other things on the agenda for the day that we didn't get to:
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
The Barnstormer
#INCREDIBLESsuperdanceparty

I don't think any of those were make or break.  I did add them to the agenda for the next day, but kinda figured they wouldn't actually happen.

Since there was the Holiday party, MK closed to non-party guests at 7 both days we were there. 

We had an 8:20 reservation at Chef Mickey.  So we headed over to the Contemporary.  We hoped we might be able to get in a bit earlier.  No such luck. They wouldn't let us in until 20 minutes before our reservation.

So we made a trip around the full loop of the Monorail.  Trouble was Little Guy was starting to doze on the Monorail.  He woke up to get back to Chef Mickey.  But he fell asleep while we were waiting for a table!  We just let him sleep... Have some adorable pics of him sleeping on Paul...  *smile*

It was adorable with Mickey.  He did a super adorable thing about putting his finger to his lip to say shhhh.  *grin*

Elder Munchkin really loved the characters.  Of course, Minnie Mouse was her fav.

I think it was a great way to kick off the trip.  Though I confess that I am not sure it would need to be an every trip thing.  I know some people do it as a kickoff ritual or an end of trip one.  But I don't know that it would be mine.

I have to say, the waitress was super sweet.  She charged Little Guy as an infant since he didn't eat anything.  It was so kind of her to do that.  She didn't need to given it was a full house.  But we really appreciated it.

On a fun note, we caught the fireworks over the Magic Kingdom when we headed back to the bus.  It was fun getting to see it.  Though it was the only fireworks we caught!!  We had to leave the Magic Kingdom by 7 both days for the Holiday party.  Animal Kingdom didn't have a nighttime show.  Epcot's Illuminations was supposed to be at 10.  Way too late for the Littles...  *pout*  But Elder Munchkin was happy to see the fireworks.  Little Guy lifted his head once or twice, but he mostly slept.  *smile*

We got back to our room way late. Just got the kids into PJs and zonked out!  We were all dead asleep quickly after our head hit the pillows!

Day 2 - Friday, Nov. 11th
Day Two at the Magic Kingdom

Pics for Day:
https://flic.kr/s/aHskvkapZT

After our first day being so very long, I tossed out the idea that to make the Opening Show & rope drop.  The park hours started at 8 & there was Extra Magic Hours that started at 7!  So we would have had to be up by 6 at the latest to get there for the 7am rope drop...

And honestly, we were pokey getting ready in the morning.  I really thought we would just get dressed & go.  But it always took at least half an hour to get ready to leave the hotel room in the morning.

We grabbed breakfast at the All-Star Movies food court.  We got our first Mickey waffles!  The awesome cast member at the register let us know that the meals all came with drinks from the case as well as two snacks for the Littles.  It was great to know.  So we grabbed a couple OJs & some grapes.  We were able to take the grapes with us as a snack.

It was funny.  All the guidebooks say get there early to get the most out of your park time.  But other than the days when we had breakfast reservations, we didn't get to park opening.  I don't regret it.  I am glad I didn't get caught up in schedules.  I did set up Fastpass & dining reservations.  But otherwise, I tweaked plans as needed throughout the day.

I really liked the Touringplans.com Lines app for that reason. It made it possible to move things around, yet keep a running list of things I thought we would like to do that day.   I really loved being able to check things off and see what was left on the to do list.  It also showed the current wait times.  So you could look and say, hey, that is close & not too long a wait.  Let's do that now.

I also tried not to get too caught up in it all.  I wanted to do some things.  But I also didn't want to drive us all crazy with a strict plan.  I think the family might argue I did too much booking dining & FPs.  But I think they helped us to get on more attractions without losing tons of time on lines.

I wish we had known beforehand that they filming the Holiday Special on the second day we were at MK!  It was *really* busy.  Though according to a family we know who were at the parks earlier than us, Friday was actually less crowded than it had been on Monday & Tuesday!!  They have been to DW a lot.  So if they said the parks were more crowded, I am terrified!

We went during what has been coined as Jersey Week.  The NJ Teacher conventions are on Thursday & Friday so schools are closed for the whole state.  Tuesday was Election Day.  So a lot of families with school age kids in NJ go down for that week.

I had a lot of trouble getting a Fastpass for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  I ended up with one at the end of the day - 4pm.

So I got them in reverse order of intensity...  Not the plan.  Just what was available:
Space Mountain 9:25 FP
Splash Mountain 11:00 FP
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 4:10 FP

BIG MISTAKE!

*sigh*

If I had it to do again, I wouldn't have let Little Guy ride Space Mountain.  I did tell him it was scary.  I asked repeatedly if he was sure he wanted to ride it.  And of course, he said yes.  He wanted to go. *sigh*

Space Mountain has single seats.  I don't think that was helped at all.  Little Guy didn't have anyone beside him.  *sigh*  Paul says LG spent the whole thing repeating "I hate this ride."  *pout*  I felt so bad...

After that, LG was gun shy about every ride!  He kept asking if it was scary.  I felt pretty bad about it.  He is still asking why we let him go on it.  (I keep pointing out we did ask him... *sigh*  Ah well.)

I wanted to do more over by Tomorrowland.  But Little Guy was not having more rides.  I do understand...  Poor thing.

We decided to try the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.  The wait wasn't too long.  It was supposed to be funny.  And we knew he liked Monsters Inc..

He did have a lot fun.  It is his kind of humor.  We all enjoyed it a lot.

A fun part of the show is they call on people in the audience.  They showed someone and Paul says "Hey, we know him!"  It was the son of a family we knew would be at Magic Kingdom that day.  But honestly, we really figured we were just gonna miss each other!  *laugh*

We waited for them outside the show & got to talk.  They are the ones who told us the crowds were worse on Monday & Tuesday!  Wow.  It was awesome getting to see them.  And too funny that in a huge audience, they were called on.  *laugh*  The magic of Disney!

We really wanted to go to more in Tomorrowland.  But we had an 11:00 FP for Splash Mountain which was across the park.  Good thing too because there was an 80 minute wait for the stand by line when we got there!

Little Guy wouldn't go on it.  I think he would have had fun except the last drop.  So I think it was best he didn't go.

He & Paul waited while Elder Munchkin & I rode it.  EM said she had fun. Though I do wonder a bit.  She kept stressing about when the big drop was coming.  Asking me the whole ride if it was next.  I kinda wish I had recalled the ride better.  I thought it was when there was a little drop.  But I did figure it out before the big drop.  She looked scared.  But she swore she had a good time on it.  So I hope so.  I loved it as much as I did last time.

I was really sad that Big Thunder Mountain was closed for renovations.  But I know LG wouldn't have wanted to ride that one!  Mind you, it is tamer than Space or Splash Mountain according to the guidebooks & such.  So heaven knows, maybe we would have done things in a different order and he might have enjoyed rollercoasters more.  But who knows...  *shrugs*

We hurried over to catch the 12:00 show of Great Moments in History with the Muppets.  It was AWESOME!  *laugh*  My patriotic other half got a bit misty eyed.  It was so wonderful.  *smile*

If you aren't going to see it, definitely watch the video!
https://youtu.be/69A5HCMc27o


We saw the Declaration of Independence one.  It was so terrific...and so very Muppets!

We figured we would have enough time to go on the Liberty Square Riverboat before our 1:25 Be Our Guest reservation.  The boat was at the dock when we came across it. We thought the boat was leaving shortly.  But it left about 10 minutes or so after we got on.

The Liberty Square Riverboat was terrific.  Nice & slow.  I think a great thing for Little Guy!  The kids kept moving all over the boat.  And boats are a must for my hubby.

We got to Be Our Guest Restaurant just about on time for our 1:25 reservation.  This was my Must Do for Magic Kingdom.  Probably even more than any of the rides.  I am a huge Beauty & the Beast fan.  And this was new since Paul & I went in 2004.

And WOW!  It really was stunning in the details.  I loved it.  It was amazingly beautiful...  We sat in the large ballroom.  But I did take the time to check out the other areas.  Took a ton of pics as it was gorgeous.  If it had just been me, I would have sat in the tapestry room!  It was amazing.  But dark...  So not for the Littles this trip.  But next time... *grin*

I admit that next trip, I would really like to get there for dinner.  I would love to meet Beast.  But given the short days we had in the park because of the Holiday party both days we went to MK, I don't regret not scheduling dinner.  I think lunch was the right choice.

The Croque Monsieur was said to be the best thing on the menu.  And the reviews didn't lie.  It was great!  Both Paul & I got it. The kids both got Chip's Delight which was grilled cheese with turkey noodle soup. Elder Munchkin loved the soup.  Little Guy wanted nothing to do with it of course.  *laugh*  But they both ate the sandwiches.

For dessert, I got The Master's Cupcake as I wanted to try the Grey Stuff (which is really just cookies & creme frosting.)   The Triple Chocolate Cupcake was probably the better choice for me.   Paul got the Chocolate Cream Puff which was tasty.  The kids got cookies.  Little Guy was a bit sad as he wanted to ask of the Grey Stuff.  But actually, that is a dinner dessert.  I let them both have some of mine of course.  So that helped.

We decide to head towards The Haunted Mansion after lunch.  Little Guy said okay.  I really thought he was gonna do it.  He got all the way to the room right before the ride starts.  Then got scared & started crying.  The people next to us said the scariest part was over...  I was also telling him that was the worst of it.  But he was too scared.  Paul took him out.

Much to their credit, they know their audience.  And the boys were able to get out quickly...  I felt bad that LG didn't ride it.  Especially after he waited.  And that he had been through the scariest part of it!  I think he would have honestly liked the ride.  But we didn't push him...

Elder Munchkin really seemed to like it.  Though she was checking about any drips in the ride.  Poor dear...  That seemed to be the hardest part for her.

After Haunted Mansion, LG found a souvenir he wanted.  He got a Pluto hat!  It is super cute!  He looks adorable in it.  His love of Pluto was a surprise to me.  But it is sweet.

Elder Munchkin decide on an amethyst cluster from a shop near where LG got his hat.

We headed to our 4:10 FP for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  We did ask LG several times if he was sure he wanted to ride it.  He said yes.  He decided he wanted to sit with his dad.  And all throughout the ride, he repeated "I hate this ride!"  *sigh*

We really didn't pressure him to go.  I wish he had liked it.  EM did like it.  Though she didn't like the drops much.  There were even a few parts that I thought were a bit quick for a family coaster.  But I really liked it a lot.  And the scenes throughout were great.  Like Splash Mountain, the theming & scenes were terrific.

The original plan had been to go to the Merida Meet & Greet first thing in the morning.  Kenny the Pirate's site said there were long waits.  But since we got the park late, it just wasn't possible.

Merida has become EM's favorite princess.  When EM went to summer camp, she fell in love with archery.  She came back raving about how much she loved it.  And Merida is an archer!  So naturally...  *smile*  I adore that she loves Merida.  Merida is probably my second fav princess.  I love that she is the rescuer, not a rescued princess!

I was soooo glad for Kenny the Pirate's info on where this was located!!  It really is tucked back & NOT IN THE DISNEY APP!!  That was super frustrating.  But I had made a note in the Touring Plan about where it was.  So we found it.

We caught the line right after Merida had some back from a break.  So we didn't have to wait too long.  But there was definitely a line.

I was a bit sad as we did ask Merida to take a pic with Elder Munchkin & her bow.  She said her bow was broken.  *pout*

I will confess that I felt like this person wasn't quite as experienced with taking on Merida...  Let's just leave it at that.  The Littles didn't notice anything and loved it.  So I am happy that we went.

Little Guy really wanted to go on The Magic Carpets of Aladdin.  We had seen it earlier in the day when rushing to something else.  And his experience with Space Mountain, we definitely wanted to get him on something he wanted to do!

There was a 30 minute wait for it.  So while Paul & the Littles got online for the Magic Carpet ride, I hit Aloha Isle to get a famed Dole Whip!

I wanted to try the Dole Whip a lot & was super glad I did.  The line was long.  But it really was worth the wait.  It is super tasty.  I got the float with the Dole Whip & pineapple juice.  Next time, I would stick with just a Dole Whip.  That was amazing!  And it had gotten kinda hot.  So it was ideal.

The good part was that I could reach the family while they were online in a few spots.  So I was able to let everyone else try it.  Of course, they all loved it.  Much to my surprise, even Paul liked it.  Though the kids were even bigger fans!

After all the food research, the only must have snacks that I managed to get was Dole Whip at Magic Kingdom & Zebra Domes at Boma.  The kids also tried Mickey Pops.  But it was too funny that I read as much as I did about food at WDW.  And that is all I did.  *chuckle*

We really wanted to get to Pirates of the Caribbean.  Little Guy started off saying he wanted to go on it.  But then when we were close to the beginning of the ride, he started crying and saying he wanted to leave.  I couldn't figure out any way to get out.  So I told him we had to wait until we found a cast member.

We found someone & they let us out.  So that was good.  And Paul says that it was probably for the best.  He said it has definitely been reskinned since we were there in 2004.  I recall it being very fun and a little hokey.  Paul said it was a lot more violent than he recalled.  There are a lot of bits from the movie.  He also said there was a drop that LG wouldn't have liked.  So he made the right choice not to go.

We spent some time in the Pirates gift shop.  Elder Munchkin found some adorable Pirate Princess ears!  They are black & pink! Have a little tiara at the top with skull & crossbone on the ears with jewels at the center.  So very her!!

Little Guy wanted a sword of course. *grin*  He found a Jack Sparrow cutlass.  It is super cute.

I confess...  Had we had a bigger budget, I would have come home with the adorable, but so useless (except at Disney) little hat.  It was super cute.  Very steampunk-esque.  But it had Jack Skellington!!  And a bat. It was so adorable...  But I also have no idea where I would wear it.

But as my dear friend Karen once told me when asking where I would wear a Victorian gown..."Wear it to the supermarket."  *laugh*

I confess...I even looked for it.    I even installed the silly app that searched for items at the parks.   But no luck.  *pout*  But I really don't *NEED* it....  *chuckle*

We grabbed the Railroad at Frontierland Station & took it to the front gate.  It was kinda a perfect way to end our day at the Magic Kingdom.  Paul kept saying he would like to ride the train, but didn't need to...  I don't believe him!  *laugh*

I confess, I got teary as we let the park.  I read the "See You Real Soon" and it was hard not to get choked up...  Hoping it won't be another 12 years before we get back there...  *sniffle*

I am super happy we were able to do two days in Magic Kingdom.

But even with two days, we didn't get to:
Meet & Greet with Tinker Bell
Jungle Cruise
The Barnstormer
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
Astro Orbiter
Tomorrowland Speedway

I have already given up on when we didn't hit them our first day:
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
#INCREDIBLESsuperdanceparty

I forgot to mention it.  But a couple times in MK, we saw Sofia Carson filming things.  One time was a song. Another time was a promo lead for a commercial break.  I wouldn't have a clue who she was if Elder Munchkin wasn't obsessed with Descendants.  EM has two books and she read one on the plane ride.  This was after devouring the book within a week of buying it at the book fair!  *laugh*  EM even dressed as Mal for Halloween, the character that is played by Sofia Carson!  So it was fun seeing her in the parks.

We had also spotted Cruela De Ville in the area near Tomorrowland.  It was clear they were filming her.  Cruela is a character in Descendants as well.  The show is about the kids of villains.  The kids are trying to be good rather than evil.  I like the premise.

We had a 7:55 reservation at Kona Cafe.  Magic Kingdom closed at 7 for the Holiday party.  So we decide to take the boat to the Polynesian.  There was a bit of a wait.  But it was a lot of fun to get to take a boat.

The Polynesian is stunning.  It is a really beautiful resort.  I honestly wish we had had more time to check it out.  But we made it there pretty much in time for our reservation.  The walkway from the boat to the main building wasn't really marked.  But luckily Paul found it without trouble.  Thank heavens he has a sense of direction!  *smile*

Kona Cafe is a nice restaurant.  I met for lunch with a coworker who is a huge Disney fan.  Been going yearly since she was 5 years old!  She loves the breakfast there & suggested it.  I really good choice.

The woman who took us to the table said that because we had the Deluxe Dining Plan, we could also get an appetizer off the sushi menu. However, when I told the server I wanted some sushi as my appetizer, he said that the kids or I could order sushi as their entree.  I decided to order some anyhow.  I am glad I did.

Since the kids could order the adult appetizers, we ended up with two orders of the Pot Stickers.  I decided to get the Steamed Pork Buns.  Though they weren't what I would think of as your typical Steamed Pork Buns.  They were more like the bun part in a patty with the bbq pork.  Super tasty!  But not what I thought they would be.

The pot stickers were also yummy.  Though I have to say, the Kona Combo Plate was the best appetizer.  It has a piece of tuna, salmon & yellowtail sushi.  It also had some tuna sashimi & a tuna roll.  All in all, super tasty.  And it also made Elder Munchkin super happy.

Though the best part may have been the warm Hawaiian bread with the macadamia nut butter! Yummy!!  It came to the table without us asking.  I had completely forgotten about reading about it.

Elder Munchkin misread the menu.  She ordered the tortellini.  But thought it would be spaghetti or another pasta.  She ate some, but mostly she ate some sushi & the adult appetizers.  Little Guy got the cheeseburger though I honestly can't recall if he ate any of it.  He was already zonked.

Paul got the grilled New York strip steak "still mooing" as the server put it.  I tried some.  It was good & almost what I got.  But I decided to get the I got the Coffee-Chilli Rubbed Pork Tenderloin.  It had a little heat, but not a lot.  I probably would have gotten the lamb chops if they hadn't been "curry-crusted."  But I figured I didn't want the heat.  Though had I been thinking with the Chilli for the pork...  *laugh*  But it was really good.

I confess that I was a bit disappointed that the only beers on tap were standard stuff & two lighter beers by Kona lager & pale ale.  Meh.  I went with a mixed drink.  I thought it was one of their signature drinks.  But looking at the Disney menu, I don't see it.  But the Lines app has it.  It was the Agave Nectar Margarita.  It was nice.  Don't think it was too heavy on the booze, but wasn't watered down.  A good choice.

Paul & both got the Kilauea Torte which was a chocolate lava cake.  Yummy!  Should have gotten coffee.  It is the Kona Cafe for heaven's sake.  But we were stuffed to the gills!!  I even left some of the appetizers there as we couldn't finish them!

The Littles both got the make your own sundaes.  Vanilla ice cream with little cups of chocolate sauce, mini M&Ms and something else.  Can't recall what.  They love it of course.

We grabbed the monorail back to the Magic Kingdom to get the bus back to the hotel.  As luck would have it, we managed to catch a bit of the Electrical Water Parade!  I had wanted to see it and had even been thinking that we could catch it at the Poly.  But we hadn't.  So it was awesome that we caught some of it!  It was really adorable.  I am glad we just caught it by chance.

Everyone was exhausted when we got back to the room.  I knew it would be another late start for the next day...


Day 3 - Saturday, Nov. 12th
Animal Kingdom

Album for Day:
https://flic.kr/s/aHskNE8Zgd

We didn't get up early again.  There were early Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom.  But again, we didn't make it.

We grabbed breakfast at the food court again.  Though man, it is kinda crazy in the mornings.  It was hard to find a table.  But we found one eventually.

We didn't get to Animal Kingdom until about 9:30.  This was another Holiday Special filming day!  Again...I wish I had known during the planning stages.  But alas, we didn't.  I think the original Touringplans.com crowd estimate was a 5-7.  Afterwards, it showed a 10!  So it was really busy...

On the way in, the Littles spotted someone doing the Wilderness Explore "badges".  After they were sad we skipped the Sorcerer cards at MK, I figured they would have fun with this. And boy, was I right.  They really had a blast.

There were some great things to do to get badges which are stickers.  They earned a lot.  But in fun ways that didn't feel like work. It helped them feel like they were interacting with things in the park.  It is really adorable.

The funny part is how much the stations varied.  At some, the person was giving away stickers after they lead them through a question or two.  While others, they were hardcore.  They weren't getting them without filling in *ALL* the answers to the section.  *laugh*  Most were more laidback.  And it was fun as they learned new things.

I had put it on the maybe list as it was a definitely a time suck.  But it made the whole park more interactive for the kids.  And I think given the crowds, it was kinda perfect for them.

I also wanted this to be a more leisurely day.  I figure it was way more about walking around, seeing animals & all than rides.  It was a smart way to do it.

Even with it being very busy, it felt less busy than the Magic Kingdom.  I think that is because so much is about walking around winding trails & looking at things.  So you didn't see as many people everywhere.

We had a 9:15 FP for Kilimanjaro Safaris.  Though we cut it kinda close.  We got on about 10:00.

By all accounts, it is a good idea to get on the Kilimanjaro Safari early before it gets too hot.  The animals get less active the hotter it gets in some cases.  I am glad I got the early FP as by the time we got there, the standby line was already pretty sizable.  If we had gotten there for the Extra Magic hours, it would have been a waste.  But it really wasn't given our later arrival!

It was amazing!  We got to see tons of animals.  I really loved it.  Yes...the driver did a hokey story line about missing a turn.  But it was pretty adorable.  *smile* There was a pretty heavy handed message about conservation.  But it is a good message to give kids and presented in a way that is likely to stick with them.

We decide to check out the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail after the Safari.  It is also called Gorilla Falls.  It was really amazing seeing the gorillas & other animals there.

I spoke with Paul the night before about Expedition Everest.  I knew there was no chance Little Guy was going to go on it.  And honestly, I suspect it was too scary for Elder Munchkin.  So we gave up our FP.  I hope it made some family very happy to nab it.  I changed the FP to the 5:00 show of the Lion King.

I had hoped to get on Expedition Everest as a single rider.  But it never happened.  The timing just didn't work out.  We were never near it so I didn't even try.  I am a bit sad about that.  But honestly, it was probably for the best.

We all kinda wanted to do the Meet & Greet with Baloo.  Yes.  King Louie was there too.  But none of us cared about him. *laugh*  Of course right as we got online, there was a pause as Baloo had a "smoothie break."  *laugh*

It was pretty warm & got hotter as the day went on.  But we waited.  The kids were actually pretty good throughout the line.  We tried to keep them entertained by looking at the Tree of Life & such. There are some good views of it when near the water.  And there were two girls that kept coming over to them before the line started moving.  Little Guy seemed kinda irked by them.  But he behaved amazingly well with them.

I have to say, I was super impressed with both of them.  They both were really good. There were some moments of course.  But all in all, they were terrific!

Meeting Baloo was awesome.  Paul loves him.  I was only disappointed that the photographer didn't get a pic of Paul hugging Baloo.  That was the only character that Paul really wanted to meet!  *laugh*  Mind you, the kids loved meeting him & King Louie too.  And we might even have an Xmas card if we manage to get them made this year...by some miracle.  *laugh*

We had a 12:25 reservation for Tusker House.  The timing was perfect.  We got done with the Baloo meet & greet & headed there.  There was a bit of a wait, but nothing terrible.

The server was amazing.  She made sure to let us know when the characters would be coming so we could make sure the kids were at the table.  She even came out to the buffet to get us so the Littles wouldn't miss Donald.  She was awesome!

And I loved the safari gear on the characters.  It was adorable.  Also, the characters seemed to take their time.  I didn't feel as rushed as I did at Chef Mickey.  I had heard that it was a great place for character interaction.  And I found that to be the case.

I also really liked the food.  It was a buffet.  There were lots of choices.  Some African, some Indian, some American.  Also some more traditional kid fare.  All in all, a good selection.  And the deserts...again... I overdid it.  But there were so many good choices.  Yum!

Paul got an African beer but it was bottled.  I was a bit disappointed that again, the interesting selections weren't on tap.  I got a Sugar Cane Mojito which was perfect with the heat.  It was nice & refreshing.  Again, a really great mixed drink. Not too boozy, but also not watery.  Super tasty!

We wanted to get to meet Pocahontas.  As luck would have it, we got on line shortly after she had come back from her afternoon break.

It was a kinda long wait.  I think it was about 20 minutes or so.  But of course Elder Munchkin made a bosom buddy while online.  She is so good at making friends.  *smile*

I did feel that the interaction with Pocahontas seemed kinda rushed.  But ah well.  Given the wait, I get it.  But I wish is hadn't felt so quick and hurried given how long we waited.  And I confess that I wanted a pic with her too.  And she seemed almost annoyed that I also wanted one with her...  Not the response we had gotten with other meet & greets.  But I think I may have been spoiled with the princess at the Magic Kingdom!  *laugh*

Next we headed to Dinoland.  Little Guy was saying no to all rides.  But I showed him a pic of TriceraTop Spin and he was super excited.  It was a lot like Dumbo & Magic Carpets.  He adored it.  So that got him back in a mood to try riding things.

He saw Primeval Whirl across the way and wanted to try that too.  But the height requirement is 48" and he wasn't tall enough!  I think it was best he didn't try it even if he had been tall enough.

So we hit The Boneyard!  And as predicted, the kids *LOVED* it!! They got to play & run around in it.  It was a pretty awesome playground.  And it made LG feel much better.  *smile*

We had a 3:20 FP for Kali River Rapids.  And thank goodness we did!  The wait was 80-85 minutes for Stand By.  We got on the FP line & someone came back saying it was closed.  However, we checked with the attendants.  They were letting people in.  So we got on line.

Everything I read said wear a poncho.  Brought them & everything...  But it was hot.  So I opted not to wear a poncho as did Elder Munchkin.  Paul put one over him & the backpack.  But then switched it so it was over the backpack only.  Little Guy decided he didn't want one...  That was a mistake.

I had also read change your shoes so you aren't walking around in soggy shoes all day.  Elder Munchkin & I did.  And I am soooo happy we did!  The boys kept their shoes on.  They seemed fine.  But given EM & I were really drenched, having dry feet was awesome!  *laugh*

I really loved it.  Elder Munchkin seemed a bit stressed about drops.  But she said she loved it to.  Little Guy...*sigh*  Not so much.  He liked some of the beginning.  But he hated getting wet.

Luckily, Paul & LG didn't get as soaked as me & EM!  Then we got off the ride, LG kept complaining, wanting to go back to the hotel & get changed.  *sigh*

I confess that even I was a little unhappy being so damp for so long.  I was still wet by the time we got back to our hotel after dinner!  *laugh*  EM was too.  But with the heat, it wasn't too bad.  LG was dry about an hour later.

After Kali, we headed to Maharajah Jungle Trek.  It is a walk with the tigers & other animals.  Of course I loved seeing the tigers.  They are my fav big cat!

We had a FP for the 5:00 show of the Festival of the Lion King.  I had read we didn't need a FP.  And if we had decided to do Everest, we wouldn't have gotten it.  But I am really glad we did.  We got right up close to the front of the line which was nice.  And we didn't have to wait for ages.  Paul wanted to sit back a bit.  So we sat in the 5th or 6th row back.

A bit after everyone got settled, a few people entered.  The woman looked really overdressed.  She had a black glitters shirt on and dark pants.  Hair pulled back in a high ponytail.  Looked more like she was ready for a night at a dance club than a day at the park.

Then I realized who it was.  It was Sofia Carson.  She is the actress that plays Mal in Descendants.  We had seen her the day before at MK filming stuff for the Holiday special!

After the show, she hung out and was talking to people who were fans.  I was a bit surprised that Elder Munchkin didn't want to meet with her.  Though had Sofia been dressed as Mal, I suspect EM would have waited eons to meet her. *laugh*

The show....  WOW!!  It was amazing.  I had read it was great.  And it didn't fail to impress.  At one point when there is a guy doing a fire dance, Little Guy said "This is the most awesome thing ever!"  *laugh*  It was adorable and so true!!  *grin*  The fire dancer also put the baton on his bare feet!

The entire show was amazing.  We lucked out in where we sat & were in the lion section!  Given my love of big cats has rubbed off on the Littles, it was the best place.  We got to roar a lot which the kids loved.

The whole show was astounding.  I love the musical numbers and it was the perfect length for the Littles.  They loved acrobatic monkeys a lot.  It was terrific.

On the way back, we wander around the paths at the base of the Tree of Life.  It was truly amazing...  They were lighting up the Tree, but we didn't really get to see it very much unfortunately.

We stumbled upon the Meet & Greet with Russell from Up.  It was awesome after the Littles had been collection the Wilderness Explore badges all day.  So it was kinda a great end to the day.

As luck would have it, we were the last in line because the meet & greet ends at 6.  So they asked the Littles if they wanted to walk Russell home!  It was adorable.  Little Guy wanted nothing to do with it!  But Elder Munchkin walked him home.  She loved it.  And there was a photographer who took tons of pics of her walking with him.  It was adorable!

Didn't get to:
Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
Finding Nemo - The Musical
Flights of Wonder
The Rafiki's Planet Watch section with Affection Section

I confess that I was a bit bummed about Everest.  It looked cool.  But I also am glad we took things are a more leisurely pace.  It meant we weren't burned out.

I am also kinda sad we missed Nemo.  The show is supposed to be really amazing.  But again, I am not disappointed about what we did.

Flights of Wonder... Again.  Looked cool. But glad we weren't scurrying about the same way we were at MK.

I was really grateful that the Boma reservation was at 6:35.  We got to Animal Kingdom Lodge pretty quickly.  It is an amazing building.  Like all the resorts were we ate, I wish we had a bit more time to wander...  But we were struggling to find Boma!  The map made it look like everything was on the same floor.  But it was on another floor from the lobby!

I confess that a bit more signage for the restaurants would have been good.  There was some at the Contemporary for Chef Mickey.  But I didn't think there was as much for Kona Cafe & Boma.  I get that they are luxury hotels.  But so is the Contemporary. *shrugs*

I had originally scheduled dinner at Saana.  But I rescheduled for Boma.  I figured the food selection would be better for the family.  I am glad I did.

While Sanaa looks out on the animals, by the time we arrived, it was dark.  So it would have been a waste.  Not saying I wouldn't have liked the food.  But I am spoiled.  I can get good Indian food right at home.  Though Sanaa does have a lot of African.  But Boma has a lot too.

I think Boma was the better choice.  The buffet meant there was something for everyone.  Though of course Little Guy was already getting sleepy!  But since it was a buffet, we could go at our own pace.

My fav dish was the Bobotie.  I am so glad I looked at the menu beforehand.  It didn't look great on the buffet.  But I had read it was yummy.  It was super tasty!  It was the one thing I went back for seconds for!

The server recommended the Carrot-Ginger Soup.  So glad she did.  It was amazing.  Yum!!

And then there are the Zebra Domes.  I had heard rave reviews about them.  I *loved* them.  Yummy.

I let the kids pick their deserts.  They both picked Zebra Domes.  And then I saw the sign!  "May contain alcohol."  Whoops!  Honestly, it wasn't enough to bother anyone!  There was a guave dessert that was also pretty tasty.  And I really wanted a dozen of the
Kenyan coffee tarts!  Yummy!

Paul & I both tried a couple African beers.  Though again, bottled...  I wish I had seen that they had flights.  I only spotted it someone's table while heading to the buffet.  When we asked what was on tap, our server didn't mention that.  And I didn't see it on the drink menu...  Ah well.

I really enjoyed Boma.  I think it was a good choice.  The food was tasty & there were so many wonderful selections.

I had decided after listening to lots of podcasts that the best thing to do was to get a car or taxi from Animal Kingdom Lodge back to the All-Star Resort.  It is a pain to get from one resort to another.  It generally involves going back to a park to get a bus.

I had planned on using a free trip I had with Uber.  I thought I was all set.  Ready to log into the app after dinner.  Then I remembered that I didn't have my credit card with me!!  And I didn't bring cash for a taxi either...  *sigh*

After a whole lot of panic and all, I realized I could use Paypal for Uber.  Thank heavens. I got kinda cranky while trying to sort it out.  I felt bad about that.  But I think we were all tired after another long day.

We got a great Uber driver!  She was really nice.  I felt bad as I missed her call & text trying to find us.  I don't know how!  I thought I was holding my phone the whole time.  But we found her.

She had on music that the kids really liked.  Katie Perry, Demi Levato & someone I didn't know but the kids did. (I think it might have been The Band Perry.)  She even turned up the music while the Littles belted out along with the songs.  It was great.

I felt really rotten that I didn't have cash to tip!  The trip was less than $7.  You can't tip with the Uber app.  (I had read you aren't supposed to, but she really was great.  So I wanted to give her something.)  I did leave her an excellent review on Uber though.  That might be worth more in the long run.  But she already had 5 stars!

I think we were back at our hotel within 10 minutes!  Even if we had to pay for it, it would have been worth every penny!

We got back about 8:15. The earliest we had gotten back to our room.  The kids got a super quick shower & were passed out cold by about 9 or so.

To Be Continued... 
Since when does LJ have a limit??!

Camp AKA Missing Miss E.

We brought E up on Saturday to the JA Camp.  It is at Double H Ranch.  She is there for five days.  We are picking her up on Thursday.

The camp is amazing.  It is beautiful with so much going on.  There is a rope course, arts & crafts and much more.  They are going to Six Flags Great Escape one day of camp.  And all this for FREE!  I am amazed by it all...

Check in was a bit choatic.  But it was raining.  So what they normally do outdoors was in a tight space.  But it went smoothly.  We got to see where she is staying.  The cabin has five rooms.  Four for the kids & one for the counselors.  There are 10 girls in her cabin.  With ELEVEN counselors!  Wow.  All the counselors we met were terrific.

On the good news, we haven't heard anything.  Which means there haven't been any troubles. The camp is for kids with diseases.  So they are pretty well set for anything.  Mind you, the woman who reviewed E's medical needs said that she was the most "boring" history she had taken that day.  *laugh*  Not a bad thing as E is only on the one shot ever two weeks.  And this was an off week.  So they didn't have to do a thing.

It was also humbling as I saw at least two kids in wheelchairs.  I am reminded that we are so lucky with E.  It was found early and responded well to the meds.  Very lucky...

Truth be told...I miss her more than I thought I would.  *smile*  I am so happy for her.  But it is tough having her be away.  But I know this is one of the best things for her.  I think she can be very mature when given the chance.  But I think sometimes we baby her a bit.  This way, she gets to interact with other kids her own age.  I think she will be terrific with more social interaction.  She loves talking with anyone willing to listen.  And I think that being with girls her own age in a camp situation for five days is ideal for her.  And I think she will be more self-reliant.

I also think with LG having more attention, it is good for him.  He has been less obstinate.  Not saying that is gone.  But I also feel like we are talking to him more.  And he reacts better to that.  So that is great too.

The guys miss her very much.  LG says at least 2-5 times a day that he misses E.  But he is getting better.  I confess that I am probably giving him a lot of leeway.  But I think he needs it.

I think next year, we will let her go on the bus from the city.  I think LG would be better having the comforts of home around him & all the distractions of home.  But he is also having a good time.  We all went down to the private beach.  He & I played in the water a bit.  And DH showed him how to skip rocks.

I am hoping the weather will be good tomorrow & we will go to the town beach.  That would be great.  The first two days were rain on & off.  So today was a bit chilly to start (in the 50s.)  It got up to 70 so the beach was great.  But after I showered, I put on some fuzzy pants.  It is in the upper 60s inside/  The house is largely in the shade.  Feels nice!

Think I need to work on stuff for the Tour de Fleece. A good vacation...
 

Tags:

So, I Wanted to Love It, But....

If I thought anyone was reading my journal, I might think this post would outrage someone.  *laugh*  But I know that other than about 1-4 people, this is really just my own mental masturbation. *grin*

I got an iPad Pro 9.7 for work.  I am supporting an app for work and need it.

I have been doing sales support and wanted one for a while because the reps have them.  So I was super excited when my boss said I could get one.  I thought it would be awesome.

But after a week with it, I have to say, it's not the device for me.  And had I to do it again, I would have said no thanks.

First is that my boss told me that with the iPad comes the expectation to be more available.  But email on the iPad sucks just as much as any other device.  There is a reason people have desktops/laptops & phones.  Tablets are nice, but other than some specific cases, they aren't a need item for most people.  Each handles some things better than others.

I find that people answering emails on tablets & phones often do a half-ass job of it because they give up completeness in favor of speed.  And I really don't find that works well for most things.

Mind you, I love being an active part of the development team.  I love testing the app and making sure it works correctly.  I don't have to say "I don't have my husband's iTouch right now."  I like being able to pull out the iPad and test things right then and there.  So I *love* that part of it.

But man, whoever said that Apple devices are the easiest is only dealing with Apple apps & devices exclusively.

It is possible that the iPad is locked down somehow by work in ways I don't get.  But I don't know if that is the case.  I don't *think* that is it.

I have had a Flickr account for eons.  One of the options with the camera is to upload to Flickr.  So I installed the Flickr app.  Tried to test it out.  Says right in the app, upload photos automatically.  Checked the box.  Figure that with how simple everyone says iOS devices are, that was it.  Waited..and waited...and waited.  Nope.  No pics uploaded.

Checked in Flickr.  Says that my Apple account is linked.  Okay.

Tried directly from the pics.  Looks like it should be uploading.  But no.  Nothing.

Ummm.  Really?

I have tried going through everything.  Still can't get it to work.  I have given up...  I might try again sometime.  But I might not....

Then comes ebooks.  I have a large collection that I have in Calibre.  I love Calibre.  So I look around.

Find that people like Marvin for use with Calibre.  Tried the demo version.  Thought it was similar to the ebook app I have for Android.  Has annotations, customization of fonts & colors, sharing, etc..  Looked good.  It doesn't allow you to view more than the book it came with or download anymore with the free/demo version.  But I could understand that.

So I spent the $4 for the full version.  So...yah.  Despite the website saying it works with Calibre, seems that it lost that functionality a couple versions of the software ago!  So I have to transfer things to Dropbox to download them.  With is yet another step...which is exactly why I didn't want to do it on iBooks.  Not to mention, I don't like the way iBooks handles things.

I am also REALLY annoyed that the knitting app I wanted that is iOS only isn't just a paid app.  It is a *subscription* app!!  So you pay to use all the features for a year!! The bundle that allows you the full functionality is $11 a year!  WTF?!  So no.  I have no interest in giving a robber more money... *sigh*

I did break down & install the resource hog iTunes on my computer in hopes that it would work better with that.  Since I can't just log into the Apple store on a website like I can with the Google Play store.  Because that would make sense and be less annoying.  *sigh*  So I select some apps and *think* I am installing them to the ipad.  Nope.  I have to pull it in & sync it for that to happen.

WHAT THE @(!*!??!

I can use iTunes to install books with Calibre.  But it is a two step process.  I have to transfer them to iTunes within Calibre.  Then I have to send them to the iPad in iTunes.  Also, with iTunes, it doesn't show you that you already installed the book.  So you can easily end up with duplicates.  WHAT?!  It is crazy...

I am kinda done with this thing.  If I could just hand it back, I would.

I spent a good portion of Friday & the weekend trying to get it to work the way I want it to.  I still don't have an easy way to transfer ebooks to it.  I can.  But it isn't simple & can create duplicates.  I haven't gotten photos to work.  And don't have a good knitting/pdf app on it.  Because it turns out Marvin *DOESN'T EVEN HANDLE PDFS*!  *sigh*

So I should find a pdf reader that allows easy modifications.  Whee.

And I still think about 95% of this is because Apple believes that you should just be so happy to spend all your money through the Apple store that you shouldn't want anything more than what they have decided you want.

Other issues.  It is too big.  If I put a decent case on it, it will be unusable.  Given my luck with dropping devices, I should have something like an Otterbox on this thing.  But if I do that, it will be too thick & heavy to be able to be held easily.  Work gave me a cool flip cover.  Works great.  But there is no protection whatsoever on the back of it.  Or if I drop it and the cover isn't in place, it will fall to its death.  Given I travel & need to take it in & out of my bag constantly, I fear what will happen the first time I drop it.  And with me, it isn't if I drop it, it's when.

Also, with the massive Apple logo on the back, I feel like I am walking around with a "Please, mug me & take my stupidly expensive device from me..."  Could just be the early days of people stealing iPods in my brain.  But I really feel like flashing this thing around on subways is a terrible idea.

On the plus side, it is gorgeous.  The resolution on it is incredible.  If I watched a lot of tv or videos on a tablet, I would be in love.

I watch two video knitting podcasts.  That's it.  And they aren't high def.  So it is wasted on me.

The light meter is amazing.  I have only had issues once with not being able to read the screen in bright light.  And even that adjusted itself within about 30 seconds.  It is amazing.  Love that a lot.

There are some fun games.  But again, there are fun games for my $50 Fire...

Part of me is fairly certain the intensity of my reaction is in response to the Apple Fanboys & their worship of Apple.  But I am an intelligent person.  I have been dealing with tech for ages.  I have done all sorts of things to get devices to work the way I want them to.  And the fact that I can't get it *upload pictures to a picture sharing site that was list as an option with the base camera app* tells me that perhaps it is the device and not me.

Yes.  I have checked the permissions.  In the Flickr app, in the camera app, in the device settings. They all say they are allow to talk to each other & share.  *shrugs*

Mind you, I know my phone will be my go to device for pics.  I think the people waving about their iPads during dance recitals are annoying.  Though part of me also knows the camera is really good.  So I might have been willing to try it in places where I wouldn't look like an obnoxious twit. *grin*

But now, I will never know as I am using this for work.  And maybe some podcasts as it handles those well.  And my Android app was being screwy with one of the video podcasts.  So I took to using a secondary app for that.  Though if I can't get the jump back & forward to work easily with videos, I may be giving up on podcasts on it as well...

I think Paul will be super sad that he isn't getting my Fire.  But maybe that could be a Father's Day gift for him.  At 1/12th of the cost of the iPad, I think it is a much saner choice.

 

Tags:

Thoughts on My Amazon Fire Tablet

I managed to kill two Kobo Aura HDs in the span of two weeks.  *sigh*  I had them for about two years. I dropped them both.  Though not from high enough or hard enough that I really thought they should die.  But they did.  Funky screen with lines.  Weird looking.  Not fun.  DEAD.

With the holidays so close, I really couldn't afford another Kobo.  The Aura HD is no longer.  The Aura H20 is the new version of the one I had.  Though at $180, the price is kinda steep.  I think that is the same price I paid for my Aura two years ago. 

I may go to the Glo HD next time.  Smaller screen than the Aura.  But also currently $50 cheaper.  Also, there is no SDcard slot.  That is really frustrating.  The cheapest model doesn't have a light which really isn't good for me.

Man, I was getting grumpy without an ereader.  Yes.  I know I can read paper books.  But I haven't bought any in ages.  So anything new is in e-format.  And I was in the middle of the fifth Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne.  And I wanted to know what happened!

So I decided to pick up the $50 Amazon Fire tablet.  Mostly as a hold over until after the holidays.  Though a bit of me was not happy giving money to Amazon given their tactics with book publishers.  But it was possible to get one and get back to reading.  So I got it.

It arrived last Monday.  I have had over a solid week to play with it.

First impressions.  Wow.  It is nice.

The biggest difference for me is pdfs.  I use a lot of knitting patterns.  And most of the time, they are in pfd format.  The Kobo can read pdfs.  But it is sooo sluggish and cumbersome.  The interface is terrible.  So I generally reformat the pattern into an epub file for the text.  Then put the charts into a separate PDF document to make it possible to enlarge them.

But with the Fire, it is blazing fast with pdfs!  I can open them, zoom in and move around with such ease.  It is astounding.  I *love* it.  It is such a difference.

I put some knitting magazines onto it.  I hadn't even bothered putting them on the Kobo because it was so annoying to try and read them.  And knitting magazines in black & white...  Meh.  I always said I could read them on my computer.  But I never did.  It was too annoying to have to sit and read at my computer.

Now, I might even subscribe to Spin-Off or Interweave Magazine or something.  Might not as I have a lot of things I already have that I haven't read.  But nice to know it is possible to read things I already have! Easily, quickly.

I did spend about 2-3 days trying to find the right reader.  There are a lot of Android readers for epub and/or pdfs.  I have the Pro version of ezPDF Reader which is okay.  I figured I might just live with that for pdfs.  Though part of me also hoped to find one reader for epubs & pdfs so I didn't have to remember what format things were in to read them.

After a lot of searching and testing, I decide on Moon+ Reader.  I bought the Pro version.  At $1.49, it was well worth the money.  It works with both epubs & pdfs.  It will take the tags from Calibre & import those.  So it works really well.  I have to say, I am super happy with it.  The only thing I dislike, to edit a file, it has to be on the tablet, not the SD card.

That brings me to the one of the biggest flaws with the Fire.  The size of the Fire storage.  It says it comes with 8 GB.  But looking at it, it says it has 5.6 GB.  And before I installed anything, it only had about a GB free!  So after installing five games & the reader, it is crying uncle already.  *sigh*

I did install some games.  How can you not with a shiny new tablet?!  And wow.  They are shiny.  I finished Monument Valley which is beautiful.  My Little Guy also love it which was why I installed it in the first place.  Though on the space issues, that may go on the Cloud storage.

There is the ability to set up kid profiles.  I set up both kids with profiles.  Of course, I don't think either have *used* their profiles.  They have just used mine.  But I should set them up more & allow them access to specific things.

So for the price, it was *definitely* worth the money.  I really like it.

But, I still want an e-ink reader.

Seems silly doesn't it?  But I come back to the fact that it is still hard on the eyes to read on a backlit screen.  And I like reading before bed.  And reading stuff on a tablet just isn't the same sort of relaxing as an ereader.

But I can probably go with a less expensive ereader.  I will probably just get a Kobo Glo after the holidays.   I really like the light for reading in bed.  I can use the ereader for books without illustrations.  So not having a SD card slot is okay.  The Fire can be for knitting patterns and any magazines.

I also have been taking out a bunch of graphic novels & manga from the NYPL.  They have a good selection.  And I am able to read them quickly enough.  It is great in that I don't have to buy them.  So it is fun.  And again, there was no point reading them on the Kobo as it was in black & white.  And it was impossible to enlarge images in epub files.  And pdfs were so sluggish, it wasn't worth the time & frustration.

So all in all, I am happy.

Would I want this as a tablet rather than primarily an ereader.  No.  The storage issue is huge.  It limits its use as a tablet.

Also, the camera is embarrassing.  And I tend to think if someone has a tablet, they would want to use the camera sometimes.  Don't get me wrong.  The kids will think it is fun to use it.  But the quality on my phone is so much better.

So I would say that if someone is looking for a tablet, spend the extra money & get something better with more storage.  Unfortunately, too few Android software developers have really enhanced the apps to work well off the SD card.  And the Fire doesn't seem too happy with that as best as I can tell with what I have put on it.

It will allow you to push less used apps & such to Cloud storage.  But I don't care for that as the only option available to have a working tablet.

I also really want to know why so much of my storage was eaten up from the start.  Don't tell me it is an 8 GB device and then only have about 1 GB free.  That is pretty insane.

If you love Amazon, you will love this.  But I really like it as a reader, despite my many issues with Amazon.  So that probably says a lot about it.

At $50, it is a great pdf reader.  And if they get a working night mode, it may become my default reader.  There was a piece that Amazon is rolling out a feature that turns down blue light on its tablets' screens.
http://www.engadget.com/2015/12/02/amazon-fire-tablet-night-mode/

Curious to see how well that works.  I am hoping.  But not betting it will be enough for me & night reading.  But I am looking forward to testing it out.  Kinda guessing they will roll it out to the HD users first.  But heaven knows, I could be wrong.  Only time will tell.

All in all, worth the money.

Still having some issues with giving Amazon money.  But ah well.  It is a good product for the price.





 

Tags:

Feeling a Bit Torn

My boss is back from sabbatical.  I think it was really great for him.  I am so glad he got the time to recharge.

I spoke with him about conference.  It seems with the changes, I won't be attending conference going forward.

I am feeling torn.

I am thrilled that I don't have to travel & be away from my family for a week.  I also know that with people away, I get more accomplished in prepping the ecatalogs & such.  So on that end, it is great.

The down side is that I won't get to see the reps anymore.  Conference was always a time when they would talk with me & make suggestions on things they found useful.  It was a good time to touch base & check in with them.  *sigh*

I am hopeful that if it is in the NY metro area, I will be able to see them.  But who knows.

I miss seeing them as they are really terrific people.  So it is hard not seeing them.

On the upside, the Tour de Fleece is running through that time.  And while I *could* bring a spindle, it just isn't the same.  *laugh*

Elder Munchkin Off One of Her JA Meds

On the super duper great news, Elder Munchkin has been free of joint issues for six months.  So she is coming off one of the two meds she is currently having to take. She gets to stop taking the methotrexate.  WOOHOO!

It is of course the one that hurts less.  But it was the weekly shot.  So one less thing for her to stress about which is great. So HOORAY!

The flip side is me worrying that since she was doing well *on* the meds, what will happen if she has a flair because she comes off them?  But the rheumatologist says that the research shows that there doesn't seem to be a better rate if they take the kids off the meds at six months vs. a year.  Though she was also quick to point out, that with JA, the sample size is small.

Though she says with kids, they always want them to be on as little meds as possible.  I definitely agree with that.  I wish EM didn't have to take anything.

She will probably have to continue with the Humira for two years from the time of the initial uveitis flair though.  With the eyes, they are more cautious about the flair ups.  That is about the time line for the meds for uveitis.  And given you can't see an eye flair up, unlike a joint, that makes it all the more critical to have that under control.

And we don't want blindness or loss of vision.  So I am good with staying her staying on the Humira as long as needed.

The doctor checked with the ophthalmologist.  The ophthalmologist thinks the Humira alone is fine for the uveitis.  I also love that the rheumatologist called the ophthalmologist to make sure it was okay.  So the doctors are on the same page.  And when I said I could call the ophthalmologist (since the rheumatologist was going to a conference,) the rheumatologist said she didn't like the parents having to do that.  She thought it was best that the doctors spoke directly.  I appreciate that so much.

I trust the rheumatologist.  She is experienced.  She is smart & she cares about getting my daughter healthy.  She keeps up on the current information and will change the approach if new research shows something is working or not.  But she also works with her personal experience too.  So it is very balanced.  I can't say how much I really like the doctor & trust her opinion which helps tremendously.

And she says the research shows that if the kid is in remission for six months, the odds aren't any better waiting until a year to take them off the meds.  And they are *KIDS*.  The less meds, the better.

So we are taking her off the Methotrexate.  There is a part of me that is scared.  But also a part of me that is really hopeful and happy.

*fingers crossed*

My hubby & I decided we wanted to give Elder Munchkin the news together.  We were all excited.

*sigh*

EM seemed nonplused!  She said that wasn't the one that hurt.  *groan*  Yes, I totally get that the Humira hurts more.  But the methotrexate is weekly.  And she still gets worked up about it most of the time as it is a shot.

The flip side is we shouldn't have told her in the morning!  *laugh*  She is much like my hubby & me.  Not a morning person.   So heaven knows if she was even really awake!  *laugh*

(Still want to know *how* we ended up with Little Guy who is a morning person!  He gets up between 6-7 am even on weekends!  *shudders*)

Wearable Gear - The Conundrum

So.  The more I have played with the Samsung Gear Fit, the more of a conundrum I have.

I love the smartphone features.  A lot.  I love the beautiful display.

But it is a deal breaker that it can't export to anywhere else.

So some looking brought me to an article saying the Jawbone would support other wearables.  *blink*  This was in September.  But the more I looked, the less it seemed like it was the case.  Until I realized Andriod Wear was the OS.

Currently, that is only six smartwatches.  Which is a bit disappointing.  But it does mean there are options.

The Moto 360 is really catching my eye.  I have spent a long while looking.  Still not sure about the heart rate accuracy.  And the killer?  The battery life.  People complain they can't even get a full day of wear out of it, much less any sleep tracking.

The Samsung Gear Live has Android Wear.  But again, the battery life isn't good.  And the review I saw that compared the Gear Fit HR monitor with an EKG was up to 80 points off!  That is wayyyy too much.  The optical monitor is probably the same.  Ditto for the software.  So it doesn't inspire my confidence.

I haven't found anything on the Moto's accuracy other than some forums where half the people say it is good and the other half say it is terrible.  And both the camp have people sayng that they are comparing with HR chest straps.  *shrug*

I want to go play with them.  Best Buy has the Moto.  So it is probably worth the trip.

Wish the ASUS ZenWatch & LG G Watch R had continious HR monitoring.  That would make them nice.  And wish the Fitbit Surge had a color screen & more Smartwatch features.  And at the same price as the Moto 360, I am bulking at paying the same price.

The Fitbit HR is still possible.  But now it feels a bit lacking.  Especially after testing the caller id against the Samsung.

Feeling like I have more questions than answers...

If the federal tax refund hadn't come in yesterday (soooo fast!!) I wouldn't be thinking of spending $100 to $150 more.
I really thought I had posted something yesterday.  Ah well.

Today I am testing out the Samsung Gear Fit.  I kept wearing the Charge as I still like it more than the Jawbone. (Though see the last post.  Still like the Jawbone software a lot more.)

Impressions of the Samsung Gear Fit so far.

I only put it on this morning.  So they aren't fully formed yet.

Love the face.  It is beautiful.  I love that I can change the watch face.  One of the built in ones allows you to have a pedometer with the steps as well as the watch face.

Caller ID is way more responsive than the Charge.  I just got a call on my phone.  The watch vibrated at the same as my phone.  The Charge hadn't responded by the time I rejected the call.

I tested it again by calling my cell with my work number.  It came up on the Charge at least 10 seconds after the phone & watch had gotten the call.  Hmmm.

I dislike that the Gear Fit doesn't talk to My Fitness Pal.  That may rule it out completely.  And also the S Health app has no food tracking.  So even if I wanted to just track my food in there, there isn't the option.  This may rule it out complete.

I thought the heart rate monitor required stillness.  I tested it while just walking & it couldn't get a reading.  I had to stop moving completely.

But the key seems to be that the HR monitor works when in work out mode.  It read my HR just fine once using that mode.  Did it several times.  Again, I can't say how accurately given I don't have a comparison, but it was nice seeing that.

Love that I can get caller id, text & email notifications.  Though I haven't gotten email yet.  So I need to tinker with that.

I really wish I didn't have to turn on all the built in Samsung apps.  Not a fav.

Also, I don't know that I like being attached to Samsung only should I change phones.  But the flip side is that I am pretty happy with the Galaxy 3 I have.  And if I got another phone, I would lean towards another Galaxy.

The more I am playing with it, the more torn I feel...

Sleep -

Wore both the Charge & Up24 last night.

Charge
Last night
sleep 6
hrs 43 min

awake 7 min (1x)
restless? 26 min (14x)
in bed for

Up24
Last night
sleep 7
hrs 2 min

sound sleep 3hrs 7min
light sleep 3hrs 55min
awoke up 1x

restless? 26 min (14x)
in bed for 7hrs 17 min

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