I knew my 8 year old niece would be visiting with me for a few days in August. I explained about my Disney Days and said we could have a Disney Day when she was here and she could be in charge of the whole day.
I wasn’t quite sure if she would understand the concept but she told me a few days later that she wanted to base the day on The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast because those are her favorite movies. She said she wanted to make cupcakes, do a craft for each movie and watch both movies. Perfect!
Thanks to Amazon I was able to gather some kits for our crafts and some fondant to use for decorating our cupcakes.
Though not really part of the theme, we started the day with Mickey and Minnie waffles.
Our next activity was getting the cupcakes in the oven. Sarah chose Funfetti vanilla flavor.
While they were baking, we did our Beauty and the Beast craft. I had found a very inexpensive kit on Amazon so figured we would try it. It said you could make 10 crafts with the kit, but neglected to mention all the other supplies you would need. So we ended up just making the stickers with the foil, which was actually pretty cool. Sarah was happy with doing that and putting them on paper.
We popped our cupcakes out of the oven, set them up to cool and then took a break in the pool for a few hours.
After the pool, we were ready to decorate the cupcakes. I had purchased some fondant and had the plan to make the “Beauty and the Beast” cupcakes with yellow frosting and a red fondant “rose” and then the “Little Mermaid” cupcakes with purple frosting and try to make either a mermaid tail or scales.
We had white frosting and food coloring so making the colors was easy. I am not very artistic with fondant but we did our best. We had the general idea anyway.
We took a rest break to watch our first movie.
After dinner, which was not Disney themed, we did our Little Mermaid inspired craft. This was also from Amazon. It was a canvas with a mermaid picture and watercolor pencils. You color with the pencils and then use water on a paintbrush to go over it. It was easy to do and came out great.
We settled in with a cupcake for dessert to watch the Little Mermaid.
It was a busy, Disney Princess themed day. It kept us busy for the day and was a lot of fun. Thanks to Sarah for taking over for the day!
With a trip to Walt Disney World coming up in September to finish my Disney Days project, I still had 3 days to find activities to do at home or close to home. When a Disney on Broadway show was announced, it fit in perfectly!
The Disney on Broadway performance was done 4 times as a benefit for the Actor’s Fund. It featured 4 Disney on Broadway performers: Michael James Scott, the current Genie in Aladdin, Ashley Brown, the original Mary Poppins, Josh Strickland, the original Tarzan and Kissy Simmons, who played Nala on Broadway.
The performances took place at the New Amsterdam theater, which is the current home of Aladdin. My sister and I attended the 4th performance, which was a Sunday matinee.
It was such an awesome feeling to be back in a Broadway theater again. Attending Broadway shows was a big part of my pre-Covid life and it was great to be back (I already have tickets to two Broadway shows when regular shows return in the fall).
As the house lights went down, the announcement came on saying “Welcome Back to Broadway!” The audience cheered and you could feel that energy of just being so excited and happy to be there.
The show was great. All four performers were excellent.. though I am partial to Ashley Brown. I just LOVE her voice. They sang a few songs from each Disney on Broadway show and seemed to be sure to include songs that were added just for the Broadway show.
At the end, they did a selfie with the audience in the background. Then they said, “Hey that isn’t fair. You all should take a selfie with us.” So they turned up the house lights and encouraged everything to stand up and take a selfie while they posed on the stage. You can’t see them very well in my picture but it was a fun opportunity.
I certainly enjoyed an afternoon of Disney on Broadway songs. Looking forward to more theater and more Disney Days!
My original plan for my 50 Disney Days included a lot of variety – Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line and some other ideas in a few different locations. Of course, Covid cancelled all of those plans so I had to revamp.
Walt Disney World became really the only option for “in park” experiences and I certainly never pass up a trip to Disney World. In fact, I will be finishing up my Disney Days there in September.
In trying to think of creative ones to do some Disney Days, I came up with the idea of doing Disney in a Day. The flight from NY is about about 2 – 2 1/2 hours long. What if I flew down early in the morning, went to a park for a day, and flew home late at night? It would be a long day but definitely an adventure.
My sister was up for doing it too and one day when flight prices were really cheap, we booked a day in March. It would have been a good time to get in a little Disney fix since it had been several months since I had been there.
At the time we booked, the vaccine rollout had just started. As we all started to get appointments, we decided to push our day to June so we would both be vaccinated by then. I knew it would be only two weeks after I had just been to Disney but that’s fine.
Fast forward to the day before we are going and the weather forecast was questionable. There was rain / possible thunderstorms in the forecast but Florida weather is just like that, especially in the summer. My sister was not up for dealing with the weather so she bowed out. I was still up for giving it a go.
I had a 7 am flight from NY to Orlando. I had set up a car service to pick me up at the airport. I packed a small backpack with what I would need for the day and included a change of clothes just in case I had flight issues getting home. With no checked bags, I met my driver and was dropped off at the TTC at 10:40 am. I had estimated 11 am to get to the Magic Kingdom so I was doing well.
I had already decided that no matter how long the line for Starbucks was, it was a necessity. It was a decent line but it moved along. Plus I got to see the Dapper Dans on the trolley down Main Street while I waited. I also mobile ordered my favorite cream cheese pretzel from the Starbucks line so that Iwas ready to pick up as soon as I got my coffee.
I had to leave the park by 6 / 6:15 pm to get back to the TTC for the car to pick me up. My flight home was scheduled to leave at 9:20 pm.
I had no plan but to walk around and ride whatever I felt like. I did the Peoplemover and then stopped in the hub for some photos.
I caught the Mickey cavalcade. I know they are not going to change this until the 50th Anniversary this fall… and I love you Mickey… but your birthday is over!! It is time to retire the outfit! The song is always catchy though.
I did quite a few attractions in a few hours – Haunted Mansion, Small World, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Winnie the Pooh and Mickey’s Philharmagic. I had a lunch stop for a meat lovers flatbread at Pinocchio’s and a snack of a strawberry sundae in the late afternoon.
While I was enjoying my sundae, I took a quick look at the weather app and it said a heavy downpour and thunderstorm would be starting in about 10 minutes. I decided to head to the Country Bears and hopefully it would be done by the time the show was over.
I had just about sat down in the waiting area of Country Bears and it started to pour. Perfect timing!
When I came out of the Country Bears the rain had stopped but there was still thunder around. I checked the app and the radar still showed a band of storms coming through. I walked a bit and as it started to rain again I found a perfect spot to sit under a covering. I landed there just in time.
It took about 40 minutes for the worst of it to be done. I sat and charged my phone and started to investigate my flight situation. The weather in Florida would be clear for my flight to leave at 9:20 pm. However, the plane for my flight was coming from NY at 5 pm and NY was having a band of thunderstorms roll through. So that flight was already delayed an hour which would delay my flight.
The storm was over. It was still raining but not pouring. Thankfully at the last minute before leaving, I threw a small travel umbrella in my bag. I moved along towards the park entrance. There was a Disney photo pass photographer taking some really cute photos of families in their rain ponchos.
I left the park and got on the ferry back to the TTC. I took some video as we moved away from the park.
I got back to the TTC with about 30 minutes to spare before the car service was scheduled to pick me up. I stopped at Joeffrey’s for an iced tea and had time to regroup while I waited.
In the end, my flight ended up being delayed a total of 90 minutes. It was a late flight to begin with so I ended up getting into JFK around 1:30 am.
It was a long day but it was fun. I don’t NEED to do it again, but it is definitely doable if the situation should ever come up again.
I had an evening flight so I could get in a good part of the day at Hollywood Studios.
I was able to get into a boarding group for Rise of the Resistance at 7 am this morning. Whether I would be able to ride would be a question depending on the timing of the day.
I checked out of the room and dropped my bags at bell services. I then walked over to the Riviera Resort for a breakfast reservation at Topolino’s.
Took this picture on the Riviera on my walk over. It is a beautiful resort and I can’t wait to stay there in September.
This would be my second time having breakfast at Topolino’s. It has already become one of my favorites. It is a fixed price character meal. Similar to Hollywood and Vine, the characters right now come out for photos and to dance around. There are no autographs or photos with the characters at this time.
Your meal starts with a pastry basket and then you choose an entrée. I had the quiche the last time and that is what I wanted again. I ordered it and my server said “Ok, but I am going to bring you a waffle too. And I will bring you bacon because it’s vacation.” From reviews online, many people enjoy the sour cream waffle so I was happy to try that too.
The waffle was really good but I still would chose the quiche again. Love the roasted potatoes as well.
I was at a great table for pictures this time and all the characters posed nicely for me.
In lieu of autographs, they gave me this postcard with printed autographs on the back.
From the Riviera, I used the Skyliner to get to Studios. I love Tower of Terror but the wait times at been high on my previous days. When I walked into the park, it was a 20 minute wait so that was my first ride.
I caught the Pixar cavalcade which was fun.
I also did the Frozen Sing A Long. This is always a good spot for a sitting break in a cool theater. I always get a kick out of the full audience singing along, especially to Let It Go. Plus it snows in the theater… it’s just fun.
I knew I had to leave the park by 3 pm. I was watching the pace of the boarding groups for Rise of the Resistance. I had to be called by around 2 / 2:15 in order to make it in time. It was going to be tight but I thought I would make it, until the ride went down for a little over an hour. So that wasn’t going to happen.
I had a late lunch at Backlot Express. I had a pressed Cuban sandwich and a Wookie Cookie. The cookie was two oatmeal raisin cookies with vanilla cream in the middle. To go with the running theme.. the cream was too sweet for me but the cookies were really good.
I had just enough time to get in one more ride on Mickey’s Railway before I had to leave. It was time to say goodbye for now to Disney World.. but of course I will be back.
This was my last full day on the trip so I was spending the full day at the Magic Kingdom. I had a quick breakfast at the hotel before grabbing the bus to the park.
This morning I was doing a somewhat new experience called “Capture Your Moment.” The experience is 20 minutes with a Disney Photo Pass photographer all to yourself. Because I have Memory Maker for free as a perk for having an annual pass, I would then have digital copies of all of the photos. I had decided to bring all of my Dopey medals and use this as an opportunity to get castle pictures with my medals.
Because all the medals are heavy, I knew I didn’t want to carry them around all day. So another first for me – I rented a locker. It was $10 for the day and well worth it.
I went to the check in desk for my photo experience and had a few minutes to discuss with the photographer what I was celebrating and what photos I was looking for. I told her that my only “must do” was a photo with all 6 of my medals and then I was open to anything.
As part of the experience, you have two photo pass photographers with you. One takes all the photos and the other acts as assistant. The assistant will hold your personal items and helps move other guests out of your shot. The assistant also prevents other guests from lining up thinking it would be their turn next… which happened a few times.
I really loved the whole experience and I was so happy to see the photos. These are just a handful of them:
After I finished taking the photos, I made a stop back to the locker to stow all the medals. Then I was on a mission to get on of my favorite snacks – a cream cheese pretzel. These can be hard to find so I was happy to read that they were available in Tomorrowland. They are simply a soft pretzel with cream cheese inside but I love them
The rest of the day was walking around and rides. I did several of the attractions that I hadn’t gotten to this trip and did a little shopping.
At one point, I found a seat in front of the train station. This is a great spot to sit and catch the character greetings and cavalcades. In just 45 minutes, I saw several sets of characters, two cavalcades and a set by the Dapper Dans.
I had a dinner reservation at Tony’s Town Square. Tony’s does not get a lot of love when you read reviews online. I haven’t eaten there since our honeymoon which was almost 15 years ago. So I decided to give it a try.
I had a great table where I could people watch on Main Street. The meal started with some bread and olive oil. Then I chose the sampler option. It was a small portion of spaghetti with one meatball, a small portion of fettuccine alfredo and half of a piece of chicken parm. With the exception of the meatball being a little spicy, I enjoyed all of it. My favorite was the fettuccine. For dessert, I ordered chocolate gelato. Can’t really go wrong there.
I ended my day after dinner. It was time to go back to the room and pack up for check out the next day.
My initial plans for this day were to go to Animal Kingdom. Then about two weeks ahead of my trip, Disney Cruise Line announced the booking dates for the Disney Wish. I had a few clients who had their booking date fall on this day. I had another agent covering for me who would help but I also planned to bring my laptop and try to take care of as much as I could myself.
So I went into the trip planning to be up early and ready to take care of the bookings and then go to Animal Kingdom. But as the trip evolved, I decided to just make today a “no parks” day. I was meeting a friend for dinner at Disney Springs anyway so I would just go to Disney Springs for the day.
I grabbed an early breakfast at the hotel and was online and ready for the booking window to start at 8 am. I took care of everything I needed to and even spent an hour or so going through emails, etc so it would be less overwhelming when I got home.
By noon, I was on the bus to Disney Springs. There are so many choices for lunch there but I went with a favorite of mine, D Luxe Burger. So this was my view for lunch and my burger:
I had the afternoon to mosey around the shops. The M&M Store is new since my last trip so I went in there. Cute special merchandise for the Disney location.
I also decided to go see an actual movie! For the first time in over a year! I purchased my ticket on the app to see Raya and the Last Dragon. I had already seen the movie on Disney+ but it was a good activity for this day and I was happy to get back into a theater.
I had only a short time after the movie to meet my friend at Cityworks for dinner. There are many restaurants in Disney Springs that I have not been to yet and this is one of them. They are known for all the beers they have so I chose a flight so I could taste a few and then ordered fish tacos for dinner. It was all good!
I got the bus back to the hotel and that was it for the day! It was relaxing and a good parks break.
Today my plans were at Epcot which only opened at 11 am. That gave me plenty of time in the morning so I decided to mobile order breakfast from Primo Piatto at the Riviera resort. I ordered from my room and then took a walk over.
The beach area was looking lovely this morning.
I had ordered the Lemon Blueberry pancakes with bacon. I am not a huge lemon fan but I have read great reviews on these pancakes and wanted to try. They did not disappoint. They were nice and fluffy. The lemon flavor was very light.
The Skyliner runs from the Riviera so it was easy to hop on from there to go to Epcot. I was at Epcot by 10:15 and within a few minutes the gates had opened, even though the official opening time was 11 am.
I headed right to Soarin and was off just before 11 am. Living with the Land is right there so I decided to get on as well. That attraction did not open until 11 so there was a decent line that I expected would move quickly once it opened. However, they made an announcement that the ride was going to be delayed due to a technical difficulty. It took about 25 minutes before it was finally going. I thought about leaving the line several times but I ended up hanging in until it opened.
The Flower and Garden festival is currently happening. There are topiaries all over the park. Here are some of them:
The Flower and Garden festival also has food booths around the park. My plan was to not do a set meal but to munch my way around. I have had this plan many times before at Epcot and it has only really worked out once – which was October when the park was very quiet and there were no lines at the food booths.
I started off with avocado toast and cinnamon bites. The avocado toast was good, though nothing special. The cinnamon bites were really good.
As I kept making my way around world showcase, I could see it was already busy. The food lines were not too bad but there was no much for seating once you did get your food. I passed by a few more booths and got to Norway.
The line for Frozen was posted at 30 minutes and knowing the wait is usually shorter than what is posted, I decided to jump on. Unfortunately, this was one of the few times that the wait was actually longer than posted. I waited about 40 minutes. It was slow moving and out in the sun for most of the time.
After I got off the ride, I was tired and hot and wanted to sit. I looked in the app to see when Voices of Liberty would be performing in the American Gardens theater. Their next show was in 15 minutes so I headed straight there. I knew there was a variety of performers throughout the day at the American Gardens theater so I thought I would watch Voices of Liberty and then just hang out and watch the other performers until I could see Voices of Liberty again.
Of course, my luck ended up being that after Voices of Liberty was done, they made an announcement that they needed to have the theater cleared so they could reset for the rest of the afternoon.
At this point, I had abandoned the idea to eat around the food booths. It was hot and busy. Most lines weren’t bad but there was often no places to sit down to eat. So I did a mobile order from Regal Eagle Smokehouse which was ready quickly. There was plenty of seating inside so I was able to cool off and relax. I had a beef brisket sandwich and fries. The fries were very salty but the sandwich was really good.
I finished up and went back to the American Gardens Theatre to see another set from Voices of Liberty.
It was late afternoon at this point and I was kind of done. I really want to enjoy the food booths at Epcot but I have come to the realization that it just isn’t my thing. I walked the rest of world showcase and stopped in the France pavilion for some ice cream. I was able to find a seat in a quiet spot down by the water to enjoy it.
I called it day around 6 pm and took the Skyliner back to my room. I had a relaxing evening and ended up enjoying some more of the cake from Gideon’s.
This was going to be a Hollywood Studios day so my first order of business was to get a boarding group for Rise of the Resistance. For those who don’t know, Rise is a Star Wars attraction and it does not have a traditional queue. The only way to ride is to get a “boarding group” which is basically a virtual queue. When your group is called, you get a notification and you go to the attraction. The boarding groups are limited and challenging to get. Your first opportunity is at 7 am. And then there is a second chance at 1 pm. They are usually completely gone is less than a minute.
I had a feeling I may have a challenge getting a group at 7 am. For whatever reason, in my room the Disney wi-fi wasn’t great AND my cell phone service wasn’t great. And I was right… I was not able to get into a boarding group at the 7 am opening. Not a huge deal.. I would try again at 1 pm.
A huge plus for staying at Caribbean Beach is that it is the hub for the Skyliner. I hopped on and was over to Studios by opening and grabbed Starbucks for breakfast.
Mickey and Minnie’s Railroad was only a 20 min posted wait so I jumped right on that. I really LOVE this attraction. I then went over to see the new little movie attraction, “Vacation Fun.” It is basically a little Mickey short that uses pieces of the newer Mickey cartoons and somewhat ties in to the Mickey and Minnie’s Railroad attraction. Very cute.
I then decided to do the Muppets 3D movie. I really haven’t done it in a long time and because it rarely has a wait, I have never walked the queue. With social distancing and the limited capacity in the theater, it had a short wait and did require walking through the queue. There were so many fun little “muppet-ized” elements added to the structures in the queue.
I did a mobile order to try one of the new hotdogs at Fairfax Faire and a new cookie. The hotdog was on a pretzel roll with sauerkraut and a mustard aioli. The cookie was two shortbread cookies with homemade marshmallow in the middle. The hotdog was really good. The bun was so fresh and the toppings were perfect. The cookie was way too sweet for me…so it wasn’t bad at all but not my cup of tea.
After lunch, I went over to walk through One Man’s Dream. This is a walk through exhibit with a overview of Walt Disney’s life, the history of Disney parks and ends in a little movie about Walt Disney’s life. At the end of the walkthrough there is usually a little exhibit presenting something that is coming in the future. This time there was a model of the new Star Wars hotel that is coming next summer.
It was soon time to try for a 1 pm boarding group. I found a spot to sit so I would be ready. I had good cell service so I turned off my wifi as that seems to work best. If you are ever in Studios around 1 pm, you will hear cheers as guests score their boarding groups. Yes, I got one too!
I had a 3 pm dining reservation at Hollywood and Vine. I have never eaten there before. Typically it is a buffet with characters. Right now, similar to Crystal Palace, it is a seated meal and characters come around for socially distanced photos. Honestly, it doesn’t have the best reputation for food but I wanted to try it for myself and I like to see the characters in different outfits.
I will start with the food. First are rolls and a salad. The salad was pretty standard (I forgot a picture). The rolls were not so great. For the entrée, I chose a turkey dinner. The sides were good. The turkey was just ok. The star of the meal was the white chocolate cheesecake. It was so good!
Now for the characters. The theme is “springtime” so the characters are in spring outfits. The theme does change with the seasons. I was seated in a good spot where I could see the characters come out.
You can sort of see from the video where I was seated. I was at a table for two along side a plexiglass barrier. There space for a table for two that was purposely left empty in front of me and behind me.
Mickey was the first character that came around for pictures and he posed for me on the other side of the plexiglass like this:
Certainly doesn’t make for great pictures. But I thought “Ok, it’s still Covid guidelines so this must be what they have to do. I don’t love it but it is what it is.”
But then when the other characters came around, they all came to the end of the area I was seated in and took great pictures.
Now I really wanted a good picture of Mickey! So I waited for him to come back around. When it did, he posed again on the other side of the plexiglass. So I said “Could you come around to the end?” and motioned to where the other characters stood. And he did this:
It was super cute how he peeked around the corner and I was happy to get my Mickey photos.
As I came out of the restaurant, I caught the Mickey and friends cavalcade.
I did more rides, including Mickey and Minnie’s railroad again. And then it was time for Rise of the Resistance!
I have done Rise once before and I felt like it was so much to take in that I didn’t really know what was going on all the time. With this time, I was able to pay more attention to the story and take in more and I really enjoyed it more. This is really the best room:
By the time I was done, it was almost time for the park to close. I had picked out a sweatshirt that I liked so I made a quick stop to pick that up. The line for the Skyliner was pretty long but it moves along. I was able to get this picture of the Tower of Terror from the line.
And took a little video of the Skyliners taking off above my head.
This morning it was time to say goodbye to the Grand Floridian and switch over to Caribbean Beach. Disney makes switching hotels fairly easy. You bring your bags to Bell Services and they will transport them over to the new hotel for you. They don’t arrive at the new hotel until late in the afternoon so you need to plan for that. I dropped off my bags and headed to Animal Kingdom.
My plan was about a half day at Animal Kingdom and then go to the Disney Springs in the afternoon. I did the safari and bird show again in the morning.
I had an early lunch (as I had no breakfast) at Flame Tree Barbeque. This was mac and cheese with bbq pork, cole slaw and onion rings on top:
The Festival of the Lion King had opened up a few days earlier for the first time since the parks had been closed. I was hoping to make it into the first show at 12:30. I walked over to get on line at 11:40. The line was already insane. I was not up for standing to wait for that long and possibly not even make it into that showing. So seeing that will have to wait until my next trip.
I ended my day at Animal Kingdom and headed to the buses. Currently there are no buses running directly from the parks to Disney Springs. So you can either do Uber / Lyft or take a bus to a hotel and then transfer to a bus to Disney Springs. OR you can do what I did and take the bus to Saratoga Springs, get off at the Congress Park stop and walk over to Disney Springs. This is first time I tried that and except for having to ask to be pointed in the right the direction when I first got off the bus, it was really easy. It is about a 10 minute walk on a nice path along the water. Here are some views of Disney Springs from the path.
My first order of business was to get on the virtual queue list for Gideon’s Bakehouse. This was the first time I have been to Disney Springs since Gideon’s has opened. You have to go to the shop and ask to be added to the virtual queue. They told me it would be about a two hour wait, which was fine as I had planned to shop and walk around until it was my turn. You get a text message confirming that you are on the list and then another text when it is your time to return.
Once you go back, you check in and then get on the line to enter. There was about 6 parties ahead of me and it took about 15 minutes until it was my turn. The shop is really small inside and with social distancing they were only allowing about 3 parties on the inside line at a time. It is really a funky little shop and I would like time to look around more at some point.
With my treats secured and shopping finished, I decided to make it an early evening and get settled in at Caribbean Beach. There was a little mix up with my check in that required a stop to the front desk, but once it was all fixed I headed to my room and had my luggage dropped off.
I had a standard two queen room in the Jamaica section. I had requested Jamaica because it is about half way from there to the Skyliner station, the Riviera hotel and the main area of Caribbean Beach.
I used mobile order to get some dinner from counter service restaurant at Caribbean Beach. I picked it up and brought it back to the room. I had stayed at Caribbean Beach in October and noticed an increase in food options on their menu this time. For tonight, I had fish tacos and fries.
Then it was time to get a look (and taste) of the treats from Gideon’s. I had an original chocolate chip cookie and a slice of Red Velvet cake.
The cookie was very sweet. There is a little salt on top and I would have liked a little more of that. The cake was moist and the frosting was not super sweet which is a big plus for me. I liked the cake more than the cookie. Both were huge and they were my “in room” dessert in the evenings for the rest of the trip.