Last weekend, I took advantage of my Annual Pass and Rosh Hashanah being on Monday and Tuesday (here in NYC we are out for that and Yom Kippur, and our Spring Break is over Passover) and took a trip to Disney! I plan these trips with the SOOOOOOOOO patient Jacki York who is an agent with MEI-Mouse Fan Travel who puts up with all my indecisiveness and changing of where I want to stay. Seriously, Jacki is the best!!
So! Friday, one of my colleagues gave me a ride to JFK, and since I had a lot of time (I don’t trust the subways to NOT have issues if I decide to go home and back) I treated myself to a day pass to the Admirals Club and hung out there until it was time to head towards my gate and get ready to board. I’d requested an upgrade to First Class, but it didn’t come through. But at least now American gives free wine/beer/alcohol to their Premium Economy (or whatever it’s called – the coach seats you pay more for…every carrier has its own name for that). The cockpit was not super communicative until we’d been sitting – just sitting – for a while and at that point were told it could be an hour until we took off. It ended up being a little less when we started moving and it was pretty clear we were going to take off. According to a friend who is into these kind of things, we had to reroute around some weather (pre-Florence, so that wasn’t it), so perhaps they were planning out the new route with ATC and that caused the delay. At any point we finally landed and I booked it to Disney’s Magical Express.
The bus looked fairly full, but we still sat for about half an hour – and then Port Orleans French Quarter was the 4th of 5 stops. So it was about 1:30-1:45 when I got to the lobby building. I needed to stop at the desk to decline housekeeping (at Value and Moderate resorts at Disney you can decline housekeeping for an e-gift card for $10/night minus 1 night! Your room will likely get a security check if you do, but since I’m in the parks or out all day, that doesn’t bother me.), so it was closer to 2 when I got to my room.
I had requested top floor and a corner room, and both of my requests were met! Granted, I was in the furthest from the lobby building, but French Quarter is a small resort, so it’s not that long. It felt long at 2am though!
I quickly unpacked and got things set for the next day – I just felt better doing that, and I’d already decided to not try and get up for Passholder Play Time at Toy Story Land, so I knew I had a little more sleep time in the morning.
When Winnie the Pooh gave me my wake-up call, I got ready and headed to the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory (the food court for the resort) for breakfast and made two happy discoveries…
Halloween refillable mugs AND the fact that they could do the pumpkin spice beignets gluten-free!!
I had decided to play “bus roulette” on Saturday. This is something that puts fear into the Disney planning people who don’t think you can do Disney without making all your plans 180 days in advance for dining reservations and 60 days in advance for Fast Passes if you’re staying on property. When you play bus roulette, you go out to the bus stops (this pretty much only works at Moderate or Deluxe resorts as Values have the busses corralled for each separate park while Moderate/Deluxe have one or two covered areas to wait (some moderates have more than one stop for all busses – then there is usually one shelter per stop) for the buses. You go and see which one comes first! For me, I’d decided I’d limit it a bit between Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom. As luck would have it, French Quarter, which has only one bus stop for the resort, has two shelters side by side, and AK is at one and MK at the other. So I stood in between the shelters and waited. Soon, I saw my fate for the day…
I got on and looked for Fast Passes once we were off, and I actually found one for Na’vi River Journey! It was clearly meant to be!
When we got there, my first stop was one of the shops where a friend had told me they had the rainbow ears!
Ears goals accomplished, I headed to Dinoland because I wanted to meet the characters out for Donald’s Dino Blast! They were precious! Especially Chip and Dale!
I rode Primeval Whirl and wandered the Maharajah Jungle Trek where I got to see one of the “baby” tigers (who had his mouth open to cool off as it was hot).
Then I headed to Pandora!
I went to get lunch at Satu’li Canteen (best counter service place on property!!)
Rode Na’vi River Journey and then decided to get in the “only” 80 minute line for Flight of Passage (Best. Ride. Ever.) – and managed to miss most of the rain while I was in the line (also? best themed queue ever – and you miss it ALL when you Fast Pass it) and on the ride. I went and did the Safari and saw a LOT of animals
I did see a lot more, but my cat had apparently turned on my camera one night at home when he jumped on that shelf as the battery died two pictures into my walk to breakfast that morning.
I was pretty tired at this point, so I opted to head back to the resort where I had some jambalaya
and got some gluten-free beignets with chicory-coffee ganache dipping sauce to take back to the room. I watched Naomi Osaka win the US Open, then I took a bath, set my wake-up call, and went to bed.
Sunday I woke up and headed to breakfast where I opted for gluten-free Mickey Waffles…with that chicklry-coffee ganache sauce! Yummy!
I headed to wait for the Magic Kingdom bus where I was going to meet up with Seth and Matt! It’s all Halloween-ified now and so cute!!
They got there and we did some rides (Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, and the Jungle Cruise) and then headed over to meet Stitch…
They got some LeFou’s Brew at Gaston’s Tavern, and I got a Peter Pan Float (lime soft serve in Sprite with a chocolate feather) at Storybook Treats
I made a bathroom stop and got pictures with The Great Goofini and The Amazing Donaldo
Met Seth and Matt in the gift shop (I’d texted them I was detouring on my way back when I saw the super short wait time for the characters), then we rode Dumbo
We wandered a bit and rode the Little Mermaid ride and It’s A Small World and then it was finally time to wander over to use our Fast Passes for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I somehow without knowing where the cameras were managed to look like I was in an ad for the ride…
Then we went to Skipper Canteen for lunch where I got the GLUTEN FREE fried chicken (called “Tastes Like Chicken, Cause It Is!” on the menu)!!
Then it was sadly time to say good-bye to Seth and Matt. 😦
I got my bag out of my locker and changed into my “Disney Bounding” costume for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party – loosely bounding as Moana. I knew from reports that her line would get LONG, so I headed over to that area and was 3rd in the unofficial line (that quickly turned into THE line – we just waited about an hour before we were led through the queue to get officially lined up. She was super friendly.
Next stop: Elvis Stitch. He was good and did not try to eat Pua.
I did some trick-or-treating (I got both regular stuff – which I sorted through and left the things I couldn’t eat in the laundry room at the resort – and allergy-friendly tokens), rode Pirates of the Caribbean, got snacks at Pecos Bill’s – Hades Nachos and Worms and Dirt – both safe for me
I walked around for a bit and rode Peter Pan – where again I missed most of the rain storm in the queue. It was still raining, so my sandals got wet – and the total flatness of them was beginning to make my feet hurt, so I decided to go back to the locker and change back into my other outfit. I stopped on Main Street during some wandering for a Magic Shot
And then it was time to watch Hallowishes (the fireworks show for the party) and get my spot for the Boo to You Parade!
Then it was back to the room for some sleep!
Monday morning I got up and showered quickly and ate something in the room before heading for the bus stop to get to Magic Kingdom for my Keys to the Kingdom tour!! We got admitted early along with the people with pre-park opening dining reservations. This is super cool, because you can get the coveted “castle with no one in the shot” picture!!
I got some coffee (a Cinderella Latte, of course)
And went to check in for my tour. No pictures were allowed, and I’m not going to spoil anything for you (yes, we learned how they do the Haunted Mansion ballroom scene), but I really recommend this tour! You learn a lot, and it does NOT kill the magic!
Once we were done with the tour, I headed out to get the bus to Animal Kingdom.
Started things off with Flight of Passage via Fast Pass. This ride takes my breath away every single time! And this time I was in one of the theaters that exits through the hallway where you can see this AMAZING touch
The handprints of James Cameron, Jon Landau, and Joe Rohde who were the primary creators of Pandora, Land of Avatar and the attractions, especially Flight of Passage!
I did the Safari again where I got to see the baby giraffe
A common eland who decided to decorate his antlers…
Elephants – including baby Stella
The sleepy male lion
And a white rhino who had taken a mud bath
But BEST was the Scimitar-horned Oryx!!!!
Even our driver – who does this route all day every working day – was amazed that we saw him!! SHE hardly ever sees him!!
I wandered a little, rode some things, got dinner at Reataurantosaurus, and caught this AMAZING sunlight on the Tree of Life
Then it was time to check into the Rivers of Light Dessert Party! Of course, because severe weather was predicted, they had moved it to the Flame Tree Barbecue area – on the other side of the lake, but that’s ok…more steps. I got there and got checked in. One of the cast members escorted me around to show me what I could have being gluten-free and tell me what they had separately that they could get me. I was VERY well taken care of – and it was MUCH better than the Happily Ever After dessert party for me being gluten-free.
We also got Mickey bars if we wanted them (I did get one later). I could have had more of anything I wanted, and the drink (Tiger Lily – alcoholic) was awesome!! There were a couple of offerings I opted to not have. And the manager kept checking on me, asking me if I was ok with what was offered, etc. It was still drizzly when it was time for them to escort us over for the show, so they gave us all ponchos! And we were encouraged to go back for more after the show! So cool!! It’s pricey – $79 I think – and it would be nice if they included a ride and/or some take-away like the Illuminations and Star Wars dessert parties do – but I was exceedingly happy that I had actually good desserts and not just obviously refrigerated Erin McKenna stuff or ice cream like at HEA.
And the show is beautiful.
After the show and a stop for another drink and some water, I headed back to the resort where I packed up, took a hot bath, and got in bed.
Too early, Winnie the Pooh called me again, and it was time to go and catch the Tragical Express (pretty much everyone’s term for the Magical Express on departure day). I was hoping to be able to get some beignets before I had to be out front and that area was open at 6, but apparently the chefs don’t get there until 7 or so. When the cast member (who did not seem like she wanted to be there) finally noticed that she had a line, I asked for gluten-free beignets and she sighed and said “Give me a few minutes. I’ll need to see if the chef is even here. And then it’ll be a while.” I told her to forget it. That was my only negative experience with needing gluten-free food this whole trip. So if you’re gluten-free and have to catch the Tragical Express before 7:30 at the earliest (so you’d have time to eat), get something the night before that you can eat in your room because they clearly aren’t going to want to accommodate that early.
The flight home I ended up with my upgrade to First Class, which was a nice surprise! Other than that it was uneventful. I got home and started getting ready for my next week (three-days only!) with the kids at school!
It was a quick and busy, but wonderful trip! Again, Jacki was amazing with all my changes to resorts (at least 4, maybe 5?), and I’ll be using her for all my future travel needs!! Thanks Jacki!!