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As an overview of our whole trip, here is a list of highlights, favorite things and memorable moments:

  • Staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge – Savannah View: At any time of day, the view from our balcony included some kind of wild life. That was awesome. Hearing the sound of African drums as you roam around the resort.
  • Dinner at Jiko: The Cooking Place. Fantastic food and wonderful ambience.
  • Haunted Mansion and Eddie Murphy: The same day we went to Magic Kingdom and saw the Haunted Mansion, we got back to our room and watched the Haunted Mansion movie (Eddie Murphy) on TV and got a kick out of all the references to the ride.
  • Epcot Food & Wine Festival and Disney Boardwalk / Jellyrolls with our friends Scott and Angie: Great food, great drinks, great fun.
  • People watching: There was this one little girl about 6-7 years old on the Disney bus and she was the cutest little thing – short blond bob, big blue eyes, kept peeking at Chris and giggling. She looked like a tiny turtle. We thought it was the most adorable thing ever.
  • Looking for hidden Mickeys all over the place: in the carpet, in the bedspread, in the landscaping, in the parks, …, everywhere.
  • Cirque du Soleil: Seeing La Nouba was awesome – it was like being transported to another world. Fantastic.
  • Favorite rides: Aerosmith roller coaster, Toy Story Midway Mania, the Peter Pan ride, Soarin, Mission: Space.
  • Shopping: Checking out all the toys and Disney gear.
  • Fairies: Seeing a ton of little girls running around dressed up like fairies never gets old.
  • Coming home to sleep in our own bed after an awesome vacation. 🙂
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Or as I prefer to call it the Wine & Food festival. Priorities people, priorities. 🙂

We met up with our friends Angie and Scott to experience the festival together and had an AWESOME time. Anything that involves food and alcoholic beverages is a plus, but to get to do it with good friends is even better!

I’ll try to remember everything we tried – there were some hits, some so-so’s and no misses that I can recall.

Brazil: Grilled Pork Skewer with Farofa – this was just OK for me.

Spain: Poema Cava Brut Sparkling Wine – this was nice and refreshing on a hot day

Argentina: Beef Empanada with Tomato Salsa – very tasty

Greece: Chicken souvlaki with tzatziki – just so-so

China: Chris got a Happy Lychee drink and it was very good

Ireland: We tried a few things here:

Kerrygold Cheese Selection: Aged-Irish Cheddar, Dubliner and Ivernia Cheese with Apple Chutney and Brown Bread – this was nice but I love cheese so this wasn’t a surprise

Warm Chocolate Lava Cake – OMG. Heaven.

Bunratty Meade Honey Wine – yummmm. Reminded me of something Harry Potter would drink at Hogsmeade.

Australia: Rosemount Pinot Noir – very smooth

Morocco: Royale Tangerine Mimosa – this was great, Chris had the baklava and he really liked it

South Africa: Seared Beef Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Purée, Mango Barbecue Sauce – Excellent

Italy: Primavera drink – mix of strawberry, banana and peach slush – very good vacation drink in the sun

Canada: Maple sugar candy – Good but not the same as the local stuff 🙂

Mexico: Mousse de Piña y Coco – yummy coconutty mousse

Poland: Chopin Raspberry Chiller – awesome!

Germany: Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce – yum yum yum – it was warm too!

France: Escargot Persillade en Brioche – good

I know Chris had tried a few others but I can’t recall – and I know I’m missing some wines in there too… It was a great festival and one I would definitely do again.

We also stopped at the Rose & Crown pub for a drink. The guys each had a Guinness, Angie had a cool-looking Leaping Leprechaun and I had an apple cider. Getting out of the sun was good too – I have a mean sunburn 🙂

After Epcot, we headed over to the Disney Boardwalk (which we didn’t even know existed! Luckily we were there with some expert locals 🙂 ) We had some drinks and snacks at the ESPN bar where the crowd was quite excited about the baseball game. We then headed over to Jellyrolls, which is a dueling piano bar where you can make requests for songs and sing along – which was an awesome place.

It was a great day – this day really made our trip. 🙂

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We began the day with another light breakfast, then headed over to Hollywood Studios, where I was looking forward to riding the Aerosmith roller coaster since we had missed it the last time. We arrived and headed right over to Fastpass it (we didn’t want to wait 30 minutes in line). This park is all about Hollywood and film and is probably my least favorite of them all but I was looking forward to 3 things: the Aerosmith coaster, the Narnia ride and the Toy Story Mania ride.

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We headed over to the Narnia ride which was such a disappointment. We stood and watched a really long trailer for a movie we had already seen. Bummer.

Headed back to Aerosmith coaster and boy, this made up for it. That initial pull as you shoot down the track in your “limo” is awesome. And this one goes upside down, loops, all that fun stuff. In the dark! No big drops but that’s OK. You zoom past glow in the dark signs while you ride. I don’t know about you but signs on a roller coaster ride always make me nervous because I’m really tall (5’11”) and they always seem really close to my head… I know there are people taller than me and these things are heavily tested, but I still duck when I see signs zooming by me. No way do I put my hands up in the air on these things either. That’s how accidents happen. 🙂

After Aerosmith, we headed over to see what time the American Idol show was playing at. We had just missed it by 5 minutes. We figured we’d catch the next one. Went over to Toy Story Mania and the waiting line area must be the coolest thing ever. It’s like you’re shrunk down to toy size and you’re surrounded by all these huge toys.

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This was the ceiling (part Scrabble, part Snakes and Ladders, part checkers)

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Mr. Potato Head was our guide. He was actually pretty funny too.

The ride itself was a bunch of games where you use your cannon to shoot at targets. They move you along in a car and you have to wear these special glasses and it keeps track of your score. I was in the lead until the last game!!! Then Chris beat me by a mere 2000 points: 145,000 to my 143,000. This was one of our favorites and worth the wait, although seeing all those huge toys in the waiting area was really fun as well.

We headed over to the Star Tours gift shop to check that out. We missed the American Idol show again by a few minutes. We stopped to eat at the 50’s Prime Time cafe and this was a HOOT! The theme is “mama’s kitchen” set in the 50s where the staff refer to everyone as “kids”. We got to wait in the livingroom while they prepared our kitchen table:

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Chris watching 50s TV while we wait. It had started to drizzle right before lunch (hence his shirt).

We were seated and told the rules of the house (no whining, no elbows on the table, etc.). It was really cute. The decor was awesome too. Formica tables, 50s TVs everywhere, real kitchen items (old cookie jars, curtains, plants, knick knacks…). It was really fun. I had the char-grilled chicken sandwich and a coke float, Chris had the turkey sandwich and a root beer float. At the end they brought us the “grocery bill”. 🙂 Fun.

After lunch, we realized that we missed yet another American Idol show (not meant to be!), and the stunt show only had 2 times (1:20 and 4:30) and we missed the first one and weren’t going to wait around for the next one. This will go on the list for the next Disney trip.

We checked out the Great Movie Ride just to say we did it – neither of us had ever seen it and there were a couple of good moments there but nothing extraordinary.

We headed back to the lodge to rest for a bit since tonight was the Cirque du Soleil show La Nouba in Downtown Disney. I was super excited for this one. It’s beyond me how we lived in Montreal for 30+ years, the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil, and never saw a show before now. Anyhoo. Our giraffe buddies were out again:

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We took the Disney bus to downtown Disney and got off at the Marketplace to do some shopping before dinner. The show was at 9pm. I wanted to check out the huge Disney store and boy, is it huge. You can find everything in the parks’ gift shops here, all in one place. Impressive store. We had dinner at Planet Hollywood (T-Rex was too packed) which made this our Hollywood day (Hollywood Studios + Planet Hollywood) – haha get it? Dinner was good (lasagna + mojito for Chris, NY steak and red wine for me). They played some awesome songs from when we were in high school (i.e. Groove is in the heart by Delite, C+C Music Factory, …). Nice.

Next. La Nouba. Oh my lord – what an awesome show it was. You know all your preconceived notions about what a circus is? Well, throw those out of the window – the only thing that comes close to that is the cotton candy they sell in the lobby. This was art/circus/theater. There’s so much going on at the same time, each character has their own special personality and skill set – it was fantastic. Anyone who hasn’t seen a Cirque show yet, go. A definite must-do. And now I can cross it off my Life List – woohoo!

Tomorrow is Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival with Angie and Scott.

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Sigh, to be a kid again. Oh wait – that’s what we did today. Acted like children. And it was a hoot. 🙂

Today was Magic Kingdom day. We had breakfast (Mickey waffles!) and headed over to the park at around 10am. The cool thing was there were hardly any lines – we didn’t need to Fastpass anything – 5 minute wait times or less on each ride. Cool. The park was also decorated for Halloween. 🙂

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So our first ride was the Stitch Adventure (the one that replaced the Alien ride). There are quite a few scary moments in the dark where a level three prisoner has escaped and is wandering around us “guards” in the teleportation pod. It was cute.

Next was the Buzz Lightyear ride where you get to shoot at things like you’re in a large video game. Chris kicked my butt but it was fun nonetheless.

We then did 3 “kiddie” rides that I absolutely didn’t want to miss: the Winnie the Pooh ride (really sweet), the Snow White ride (the beginning of this might be scary for kids – the witch is downright creepy), and the Peter Pan flying adventure (very cool – you fly in a mini pirate boat!). I also got Pooh and Tinkerbell loot after the rides. 🙂 Christina and Sue: They had Lumpy, so I got 3 (one for Chloe, Sienna and Maddie). They’re really cute.

We went to the Haunted mansion and got stuck!!! The ride stopped for a good 5 minutes. It was pretty funny actually. Especially since we knew there was a kid on the ride that started yelling in the waiting area (“Let me ooouuuut”) so he must have been freaking out when the ride stopped… *evil laughter* This haunted house is just awesome – my favorite part is the dining / ballroom area (Angie: it reminds me of Karazhan).

Then we headed over to Frontierland, stopped for a quick corndog and water, then hit Big Thunder Mountain Railroad rollercoaster which was really fun. It’s a mild coaster but the scenery is cool.

Next was the Pirates of the Caribbean boat ride, still fun and the gift shop is fun too.

And a surprising ride that Chris and I both really enjoyed was the Jungle boat ride. You ride in a boat and sail through the various rivers of the world and see animals and natives (not real), and our skipper’s jokes were really funny. 🙂

Then we went shopping along Main Street…and back to the lodge where all the animals were out and about!!

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Zebras and ostriches eating some grub

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Ignore our balcony railing but isn't it awesome how close we are to the animals?! In this pic, there are ostriches, zebras, wildebeasts and our friend a giraffe.

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Better view of the wildebeasts.

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Cute pic of the three ostriches.

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After arriving back at the lodge from Animal Kingdom and taking a nap (we *are* on vacation after all), we headed down to Boma for our African-themed buffet dinner.

Tasty! There were lots of selections and the dishes included things we knew (falafel, pita chips and various hummus-based dips) and lots we didn’t (bobotie which was like a meat pie, fufu which tasted like spiced pureed squash, and a ton I don’t remember the names for). The meat station was awesome – there was beef, chicken, a sausage dish, several different sauces, MmmMmm. I ended up having lots of falafel (one of the best I ever tasted), two slices of beef (medium rare and awesome), slaw, rice, couscous, fufu, sausages, pita chips and dip (I liked the sundried tomato hummus and the white bean hummus), Sprite Zero, …

There was a salad area and the slaw and couscous were fantastic. We didn’t try any of the soups but they looked very good too.

Dessert. Anyone who knows me also knows that I love desserts. But I held back and only chose 4 of the mini-portioned items: one spoonful of a warm pear cobbler (yum), a mini kenyan coffee tart (this tasted like a tiramisu), a mini vanilla pannacotta which tasted like passionfruit (yum), and one of their famous zebra domes (small cake filled with chocolate cream). Excellent meal.

Tomorrow is Magic Kingdom. Can’t wait!

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As promised, breakfast this morning was much better: bagel with low fat cream cheese, fat free yogurt, grapes, coffee. Ah, that’s more like it.

I wore my Happy Birthday Val pin and everyone wished me a happy birthday.

Today we went to Animal Kingdom. Neither Chris or I had ever been so we were looking forward to it and it turned out to be pretty cool.

Dinosaur was the first ride we went on, which is a mission to locate a missing dinosaur. You sit in this car, in the dark, and go down this bumpy and twisty track with dinosaurs popping up at you  from all angles and an imminent threat of a meteor hitting you. It was cool. We headed over to Expedition Everest to get our fast passes. We watched the It’s Tough to be a Bug 3D show which was funny – this was held in the Tree of life. We went on a jungle trek to see animals and birds. We saw a bird show which was fun. Did some shopping. We went back to Expedition Everest to ride the roller coaster through the mountain – this was really cool. It went backwards, forwards, we rode in the dark…it was awesome.

We had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe which was one of the coolest places I’ve seen. As soon as  I heard how they sing happy birthday to some of the celebrating guests, off came the pin. No way. 🙂 The whole ceiling was a canopy of leaves like in a rainforest, animals everywhere (not real), all kinds of jungle sounds (monkeys, elephants, etc.). It was really well done. I had the broiled seafood platter with a rainbow colada (mix of a strawberry daiquiri and pina colada), Chris had the turkey wrap with a drink that tasted like a jet popsicle. MmmMmm.

We headed back to the lodge early since we were both pooped! Dinner reservations are at 8:35pm at Boma (African-style buffet at the lodge).

That's Expedition Everest in the background

That's Expedition Everest in the background

How rainforest-y

How rainforest-y

It's Batman!

It's Batman!

Good to know - I feel safe now. :)

Good to know - I feel safe now. 🙂

At any moment, a tiger can spring out of the jungle and maul you! Hmm maybe not this guy though... But we better not let our guard down.

At any moment, a tiger can spring out of the jungle and maul you! Hmm maybe not this guy though... But we better not let our guard down.

There's another tiger, ready to pounce! Hmm, well maybe not him either... Not very lively are they...I still think it's just a ruse. :)

There's another tiger, ready to pounce! Hmm, well maybe not him either... Not very lively are they...I still think it's just a ruse. 🙂

My favourite part of this pic are the two heads in the top right corner. "Hey what's going on over there?"

My favourite part of this pic are the two heads on the right side. "Hey what's going on over there?"

Who doesn't like a webbed foot.

Who doesn't like a webbed foot.

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life

Where we had lunch. Very cool concept for the decor and the gift shop was awesome too.

Where we had lunch. Very cool concept for the decor and the gift shop was awesome too.

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For day 2, we planned on doing 1/2 of Epcot, namely the Futureworld (rides/shows) side since we’re doing the Wine and Food festival on Thursday, which is on the other side (world showcase).

That being said, we got a late start to the day (got to the park at around noon) after a heart-attack-on-a-plate breakfast of eggs, bacon, potatoes and biscuit. We vowed that tomorrow’s breakfast won’t be as unhealthy… Anyhoo, back to the park. We got there and went straight to Soarin’ to pick up our fast passes, then did a bunch of rides including Finding Nemo, took a tour through the Epcot ecocenters and greenhouses which was actually pretty cool – I’ve never seen veggies like tomatoes and sweet potatoes grow on trees without any soil before – they might be able to get astronauts to grow food in space! Very neat. We also did Spaceship Earth which was a time travel machine back through time to learn how communication evolved. This was cute too. Then we headed over to the Mexican pavilion for lunch (San Angel Inn), had awesome lime frozen margaritas under a twilit sky with pyramid and volcano in the background. I had a chicken dish and Chris had enchiladas. Dessert was awesome – a vanilla flan that we shared and each had a cinnamon coffee. All very good. I love the ambience of this pavilion.

After lunch we popped over to the UK pavilion to see if they sold Chris’ tea (Twinings Chai) – we can’t find it in stores at home. Sure enough, they had it, and we got a couple of other ones too: Twinings Herbal Unwind African Honeybush (with mandarin and orange flavours), as well as Winter Spice (apple flavoured camomile tea spiced with cinnamon, cardamom and cloves). Yum.

Did a bit more shopping, stayed away from the wine and food kiosks (to keep it fresh for Thursday), then headed over to Mission Space, which was awesome again. It’s a space launch simulation and you’re strapped in, then your shuttle launches into space, you feel the zero gravity and g forces, your shuttle slingshots around the moon and lands on Mars – very cool. But if you don’t like feeling woozy or close quarters, this is not for you.

After this, we did some shopping, then slowly headed over to Japan for supper at Tokyo Dining. We sat and people-watched a bit before dinner and Taylor Dane was actually there doing a concert. We had mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, she was cool when we were in high school, so we felt a bit nostalgic hearing the old songs again (Tell it to my heart, Love will bring you back, etc.). But on the other hand, after her big success, she disappeared and we didn’t hear from her again until now – and it,s kind of sad that she’s been reduced to playing a handful of 80’s songs at Epcot…

Time for dinner. We had sushi and sake. Then for dessert, we popped over to the French pastry shop for a chocolatine (Chris) and chocolate mousse (me) and cafe au lait.

It was a good day! Tribe Gooneegoogoo wins immunity. 🙂

Tomorrow is Animal Kingdom.

That's a big ball.

That's a big ball.

Cool jellyfish on the Nemo ride

Cool jellyfish on the Nemo ride

Mexican Pavilion

Mexican Pavilion

Yummy frozen lime margarita

Yummy frozen lime margarita

Kinda dark but the flash really didn't do the background justice. This is Chris at our table.

Kinda dark but the flash really didn't do the background justice. This is Chris at our table.

Me at our table

Me at our table

Pretty scenery at the Mexican pavilion

Pretty scenery at the Mexican pavilion

The Japanese pavilion

The Japanese pavilion

Japan, where we ate supper

Japan, where we ate supper

This is a hedge maze. Chris knows I have this on my Life List and kept urging me to jump over the fence and make my way through the maze (he can be a bad influence at times). As I considered his suggestion, since the hedge was only about a foot high, to make it challenging, I would have to navigate the maze while crawling around on my stomach. Not very discreet. I chose not to give in.

This is a hedge maze. Chris knows I have this on my Life List and kept urging me to jump over the fence and make my way through the maze (he can be a bad influence at times). As I considered his suggestion, since the hedge was only about a foot high, to make it challenging, I would have to navigate the maze while crawling around on my stomach. Not very discreet. I chose not to give in.

Cool pic of the fountain outside the France pavilion

Cool pic of the fountain outside the France pavilion

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