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Disney World October 2015 Trip Report Part 9: AK and MK

on March 2, 2016

Last full day at Disney.  Boo!  I was determined to “squeeze the juice” out of the day, to use a Latin expression (‘sacar el jugo’).  Let us commence to squeezing!

We started out by sleeping in just a bit.  Had I known the transportation rigamarole we were about go through, I might have gotten up earlier.  But I didn’t, so I blissfully slept like a corpse in that dead-comfy bed (see what I did there?) at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  When I woke up, I headed straight to the balcony to check out our Savanna View in the daylight.  Oooooooh, looky here!

I was soon joined by my husband, and after a good 15 minutes of happy animal-watching from our balcony, we decided to start getting ready for the day.  Our agenda included a special pirate-themed outing for DS, shopping w/DD, and saying goodbye to Animal Kingdom and Epcot (sob).

We got the kids up and ready- they were great all trip to be honest, with the one exception of DD not being ready that day when the rest of us went to the pool.  I’ll say it again: my children are good travelers.  Partly due to their own personalities, and the rest due to lots of travel experience.  Whatever the reasons, I am super grateful and make sure to heap them with praise about it.

So we were up and ready and needed to get to Port Orleans-Riverside by 9:15a to check in DS for the Bayou Pirate Adventure.  This a 2-hour, kids-only event.  There are 4 different cruises, each themed slightly differently and departing from different Resorts.  For the PO-Riverside one, the info on the Disney site states:

Sailing down the Sassagoula River, young scallywags listen to the legends surrounding Captain Jean Lafitte, one of the most infamous pirates ever to haunt the waters of New Orleans. Departs from the Fishin’ Hole on Ol’ Man Island at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort Riverside

So, DS would have some swashbuckling fun, and the rest of us would get a bit of a break.  DH planned to leisurely drink coffee/have breakfast at the Riverside Mill Food Court, and then just wander around the beautiful grounds of Port Orleans until DS was back.  DD and I wanted to go back to Disney Springs to pick up some last souvenirs since were in such a rush the 1st time we went.  The plan was to meet at Animal Kingdom in a few hours.

But first we had to get to PO-R!  Port Orleans actually has 2 different Resorts, Riverside (PO-R) and Port Orleans-French Quarter (PO-FQ).  Traveling Resort to Resort at Disney is never easy (remember how we got to the Beach Club from Art of Animation: bus to Park, bus to different Park, boat to resort).  I had planned that out and it didn’t work well, so I didn’t really plan this.  We played bus roulette, getting on the first Park bus that showed up, with plans to change busses at the Park and get onto a resort bus.  Luckily, the first Park bus that showed was for Animal Kingdom- this was great because AKL and the Park are super close to each other.  So we got to AK in no time- I looked at the clock on the bus, and it was literally 6 minutes from getting on the bus to getting off at the Park, at around 8:25a.  Now, we walked over to the combined Port Orleans resort bus stop.  After a few minutes, a PO bus came to discharge some passengers, and I asked the driver if he was going back to PO.  He replied no, he was going somewhere else.  He asked where we were going, and I said, PO-R, and he replied that we should wait there, he would call it in to the dispatcher to come pick us up (as you can imagine, we were the only people trying to LEAVE at Park at 8:40a).  I said thanks, and we went back to waiting.

5 minutes passed.  Other busses came and went, and no one was going to PO-R or even PO-FQ.  Another 10 minutes passed, and I spoke to the driver of a another bus that was dropping off passengers.  She said, I’m sorry I’m not going anywhere near there, I’ll call it in to the dispatcher.  All I could say was OK.  It was getting really close to 9am, and I knew PO-R wasn’t close by- it was going to be tight, time-wise.  Just as we were picking up our stuff to walk over to the taxi area, a bus showed up just for us!  We got on, and I immediately called PO-R, wanting to reach the Front Desk to let them know that we were on our way and to please not let the Cruise leave without DS!  I got them on the line, and the Cast Member tried to call the Cruise check-in area directly but couldn’t get through.  She took my name and promised she would pass along the info, even if she had to walk over there herself.  Having done all I could, I tried to enjoy the rest of the bus trip.  The Port Orleans area is beautifully landscaped and peaceful.  We pulled into PO-FQ first, and then instead of moving on to PO-R when no one got on or off the bus, we sat there and IDLED for 2 or 3 minutes.  It was 9:14aI was dying.  Again, just as I decided to get up and say something, the driver put the bus into gear and got going again.  We made a game plan for getting off the bus.  I would put DS on my back and haul ass through the PO-R lobby and straight back to the water, and throw him onto the boat as it pulled away from the docks, lol.  DH and DD would follow behind me at a normal person’s pace with the stroller.

What happened was, DS (who was indeed riding piggyback and having a good old time back there as I ran) and I made it to the check-in area at 9:23a, where they were putting name tags on the kids and checking with the parents for food allergies (they serve snacks aboard). They had gotten my message!  We were not the last to arrive though!  Some other family came hurrying to the dock 30 seconds after we got there.  This made me feel better.  There was no time to waste with goodbyes- they started the Adventure right on time and before I knew it DS was life-jacketed, name-tagged, water-bottled, and on the boat with about 10 other happy kids.  We watched them depart, and I collapsed in sweaty exhaustion on the closest bench.

pirate cruise

After taking a few minutes to recover, we walked to the Riverside Mill Food Court for breakfast.  We got a window table near the big water mill, I got this beautiful creation:

mickey waffle

This is a dinner-sized plate, ladies and gentlemen.


and I enjoyed every mouthful of my young-child-free breakfast.  It was nice to have 3-of-us time.  Soon, DD and I made our way to a dock very near the one DS had departed from, but this time, we were taking a water taxi to Disney Springs.  What a fun voyage!  We saw the rest of the Port Orleans grounds, saw some people playing golf, crossed paths with DS’s “pirate ship,” got a glimpse of the Characters in Flight  balloon, and even spotted Guests on board the Amphicar from the BOATHOUSE restaurant. The Captain was a hoot, too, playing games with the young kids and playing along when DS and his fellow pirates threatened to take over the water taxi.

So DD and I did some shopping and snacking.  She was hungry again, even though we had just eaten breakfast!  We got some nachos from a stand, and they were tasty, but not amazing, and we had a hard time finishing them.  She begged for a $10 Stitch ballpoint pen, I scoffed, Disney Magic kicked in, and I said yes.  Shopping complete, we made our way over to the busses.  By now I had remembered that we left DS’s Wilderness Explorers book at the hotel.  He wanted to continue earning the badges, and it was our last time at Animal Kingdom, of course.  So DD and I took a bus to AKL, she waited at the bus stop while I ran up to the room to grab the book, and while I was walking back out, texted me to say that the AK bus was already there and to hurry.  I rounded the corner and we got on the bus no problem.

Side note: Do you think DS even cracked the book open while we were in the Park?  If you guessed, “of course not,” congratulations, you are an experienced parent.  It would have been a completely useless stop, if not for this picture I got while walking through the hallway back to the lobby.


It kills me that I didn’t stop long enough to perfectly center this photo, but I love the architectural details of the Lodge that are visible here.


As we were walking into Animal Kingdom, it occurred to me that we hadn’t yet seen DeVine on this trip.  She is simply put, an artist, who walks around the Park, blending into the scenery and then surprising folks when they least expect it.  As if by divine intervention (I’m so, so sorry, but I had to), she literally showed up right in front of my eyes not 1 minute later.  Awesome!devine

Now I texted DH to see where he and DS were.  He replied that they were sweating profusely at the Boneyard in DinoLand U.S.A.  We joined them, me pausing briefly to embarrass DD by dancing with the Viva Gaia Street Band, which is basically a roving party.  Soon we reached the Boneyard and began joining the men in our family by sweating profusely as well.  WOW- it was really hot.

DD started making noises about riding DINOSAUR! She had never ridden it, being too nervous about it in 2008, and too small before that.  All our FP+ for this day were for the evening at Epcot, so no way to get another.  The line was showing a 70-minute standby time on the My Disney Experience app, gah.  DH was up for it though, since he wanted to ride.  I was cringing, but since I didn’t have to wait in that long line (DS is too small, someone had to stay with him), I wished them luck.  Off they went, and DS and I decided to blow that Boneyard popsicle stand and head practically next door to TriceraTop Spin.  On the way, I stopped for some ice water and a Sprite.  Warding off dehydration is key.  The line for TS was 5 minutes.  So…we rode 3 times in a row.  Just got off, and got right back in line.  DS loved it, as it is basically a dino-themed Dumbo’s Flying Elephants/Aladdin’s Magic Carpets.  I had a nice moment with a lady in line in front of us- she was wearing a white skirt, and had brushed by something chocolate-y.  I grabbed a Shout Stain Wipe from my bag and handed it to her- she was very grateful.

no disco dancing

Another Trip Tradition: taking a pic of one of the “no adult/child disco dancing” signs.


Of course, DH and DD were still in line for DINOSAUR!, so we continued to enjoy DinoLand by playing some Fossil Fun games, which required me to buy a ticket from the CM at the Dino-Rama cart, then hand it to the CM at the game booth.  I guess it eliminates them handling cash at the booths?  I got 2 tickets, and so we played 2 games, with me/DS winning a small blue stuffed dino on the 2nd try.  He promptly named it “Samuel.”

Ok time to check in with DH and DD.  I had missed a text from them.  Oh no!  The ride was down, and they were still in line waiting to see if it would come back up.  By the time I responded to the text, 10 minutes had passed and they had given up and practically bumped into me as I walked toward the queue area. DD was bummed, since they had spent at least 45 minutes in the line.  Later in the day, I saw on the app that the ride had been down for at least 4 hours, so they made the right decision leaving when they did.

eric dinosaur

This was as close as DH to a terrifying dinosaur got that day.


We got some yummy lunch at the Flame Tree BBQ, and decided to attend Festival of the Lion King as our last AK activity.  DD and DS walked ahead of us as DH and I made a potty stop.  The waiting area was so crowded that we never did catch up with them, and they sat in a separate section from us during the show.  I could see them, though.  I cried during “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” again.


We slowly walked toward the exit, stopping to buy my Park magnet.  While in the store, Dug and Russell walked through on their way to a character meet.  Someone called out, “Squirrel!” and Dug totally stopped in his tracks for a few beats, then kept going.  It was perfect.

We had to get one last PhotoPass pic on our way out, so we stopped to do just that.  And then I asked the PP guy to do a jumping shot, and he said he couldn’t do it with the official camera, but could do it with our personal camera.  He took a zillion shots, and here is the best one.  I love it!

jump shot

Feeling like we had done the Animal Kingdom justice on this trip, we headed to Epcot.  For some reason I can’t remember how I did it, but I got us to the Magic Kingdom Ticket & Transportation Center so we could monorail to Epcot instead of taking a bus there.  Did we take a taxi?  No idea.  Of course we had already done the monorail Resort Loop, and I wanted to do the other Loop, since you go a good ways inside Epcot on the monorail before getting off.  I just love going by Spaceship Earth and seeing pretty much all of Future World from up high.  Plans included: more Food & Wine Festival goodies, and FP+ for the Character Spot, Spaceship Earth, and Soarin’.  And the grand finale of the night (and the Park phase of our Trip!), would be IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.

So we walk in and head right to our first FP+, for the Epcot Character Spot.  The kids got pics with Goofy, Minnie, and Mickey, with DD taking a few selfies, too.  Then we headed to Spaceship Earth.  With FP+, we bypassed the 30-minute line and got right on.  Oh, this simple ride is my very favorite in all the World.  And look what was featured on the Disney Parks Blog today:

SE shirt

A new shirt for Disney’s Parks-inspired menswear line, Twenty Eight & Main.

After enjoying the smell of “the burning of Rome,” we headed further into the Park.    DD wanted to ride Mission: Space and the standby line for the less-intense side was 15 minutes, so off we went!  Claustrophobia, here I come!  It actually wasn’t as closed in as I had remembered from the last time- your mind plays tricks on you.  So we had fun, but I drew the line at going for the more-intense side, which had an even shorter wait.  I did not want to feel dizzy on our last night.mission space

It had been several hours since lunch, and we wanted something on the Future World side to feed the kids before using our last FP+ and braving the mobs for Food & Wine snacks to eat while watching IllumiNations.  We headed to the Electric Umbrella and got the kids some burgers and chicken strips.  And fries, of course.

Last ride of the whole trip was Soarin’, where we got the front row again!  I definitely got misty while riding.  The music, the end of the trip, it was all getting to me.  I cheered myself up by busting out the package of glow sticks I had my bag and using up all the rest (we had made use of a few earlier in the week already). Everybody enjoyed making bracelets and chains out of them.

After our brief visit to California, we went to World Showcase.  It was even more crowded than earlier in the week, being a weekend night on a holiday.  I was soaking up the energy and listening to all the different languages being spoken.  I decided to stake out an IllumiNations viewing spot with DS, and contemplate what I wanted to eat while DH went and picked himself up some fish & chips in England, and DD went to get some potstickers and bubble tea in China.

Side note: we had decided to let DD have charging privileges on her MagicBand, as long as any purchases over $10 were cleared with us beforehand.  This worked great when she wanted to buy a pastry to eat when she and DS were waiting for me and DH to come out of Tower of Terror, and on this night so we wouldn’t lose our viewing spot.  She was very responsible with her spending on the trip.

DS had fallen into a light sleep, so as I waited I called my sister.  What a treat to be in the same time zone for once!  We chatted about the trip and all the great and funny things that had happened.  She totally got it.  I was happy to have spoken with her that night- made it even more special because we got to be at Disney together again in a way.

Well, my crew was back, and it was time for me to eat!  I’d been eyeing the Scotland Food & Wine cart, and the Seared Scallop with spinach-cheddar gratin and crispy bacon was calling my name.  I got a portion, and after the first bite I knew that I had to go back and buy another portion.  DELICIOUS.  Food was good, crowds were loud and cheerful.

They dimmed the lights around the World Showcase Lagoon, and it was time for IllumiNations!  We woke up DS for the fireworks per his request.  I started full-on crying, and soon, I wasn’t alone.  All 4 of us were clenched in a big hug, crying because the trip was ending, while the music soared and the fireworks exploded around us.  I told them that they had fulfilled my dream, that there is no one else I’d rather be with at Disney than them, and that I hoped they would remember all the quality family time we’d had.  I cried from sadness and also from joy, because I was in my favorite place on Earth with my favorite people on Earth.

Whew!  Once the show was over and we dried our tears, we did our patented Slow Exit To Avoid Bus Lines, making sure to appreciate the Fountain of Nations and the fun fiber-optic effects in the sidewalks.  I was squeezing every last drop of juice out of our Park time.  Inevitably, though, it was time to walk out of the gate, and say goodbye to Epcot.

Back at the room, we packed the checked luggage and organized what we would need in the morning.  We watched some animals moving around thanks to artificial moonlight at the Lodge, watched Must-Do-Disney a bunch of  times, and went to sleep.


2 responses to “Disney World October 2015 Trip Report Part 9: AK and MK

  1. VivaLaDiva405 says:

    :””'( wahhhhh! I’m crying so much, lol


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