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Orlando 2017 – hitting the highlights

Glen had his company conference in Orlando again, so I met him for an extended weekend of just hitting the highlights with one day for the Wizarding World at Universal Studios, plus a couple days of DisneyWorld so we could add a 3rd Disney park to our list for 2017! We stayed at Animal Kingdom Kidani Village with a savannah view so got to see animals from our balcony!

Wednesday May 3rd

Already one flight down, now on my way to Orlando to meet Glen for Universal & DisneyWorld!

First stop in Orlando was the new Dress Shop at Disney Springs, where I was absolutely delighted to find TWO adorable dresses that fit me!!! Boy was I lucky since the Haunted Mansion dress was _only_ available in my size and the non-Disney purple & aqua Madame-Leota-inspired one was only my size and a small! I would have bought the purple bat bag if it was a little larger. Glen was very patient to indulge me and help with zippers. 😉 Now I can be a different Haunted Mansion princess both days at Disney!

We enjoyed our evening at Disney Springs, including pizza, ice cream, window shopping, and hats! 😉

Thursday May 4th

90F and muggy today so first priority were Wizarding World photos in Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade & Hogwarts before I melted in my new outfit! My wand still works and the first spells I tried were the two unmapped spells – proud I remembered the gestures! Bonus was that the staff loved my outfit so much that they put us in the Hogwarts fast line! Drawback is I skipped half of inside Hogwarts where I was hoping for photos! 😉

We got soaked on Jurassic Park, rode Kong Skull Island (which had impressive animatronics & 3D video but almost nothing to do with the movie), had a hilarious velociraptor encounter, and back for Honeydukes snacks at air-conditioned Hogs Head pub. Now boarding the Hogwarts Express back to Diagon Alley for the rest of Universal Studios…

We were being teased about “glamping” vs camping…haha!

Sure glad we saw the dragon flames two years ago since we never saw flames today! We saw Kreacher peek out of Grimmauld Place, Madame Malkin’s has a projector dress & plaid deerstalker witches hats, Gringotts and the Mummy are still fantastic rides, and Simpsons nachos were pretty tasty!

The new Jimmy Fallon ride “Race Through New York” was cute, but my favorite parts were the pre-show with the barbershop pop songs and classroom instruments! 😀

Good thing we strolled through the Monster Cafe this morning since it had closed by the time we were leaving! The electrical lab display was new but most of the rest was the same as earlier trips. We did find one store with some fun shirts and toys, but nothing usable for Haunted Hollywood this year. 😉

Friday May 5th

Hooray, we saw animals from our double balcony at Animal Kingdom Kidani Village, and zebras fom the lobby! We couldn’t book until 33 days ago so the only savannah view room left was a suite, so we have two TVs and two bathrooms! Now for Disney parks today & tomorrow!

First park was aqua-themed Hollywood Studios with the original and best Tower of Terror & Star Tours before lunch! I’ve gotten so many comments on my new purple dress, and I discovered it even has nice, deep POCKETS!!!

Glen hadn’t seen the drive in restaurant so glad we could get in and get the drivers seat and glowing cocktails! Love the cheesy movie loops and snack bar ads!

Glen had never seen the Great Movie Ride (Wicked Witch animatronic = Halloween goals!), and I LOVE the Toy Story Mania line more than the ride. 😉 We saw a little of the Star Wars show, and now it’s time for EPCOT…

No special edition Elsa Magic bands at our hotel or Hollywood Studios, so we went to Guest Relations so they could look up which stores actually have them…score! Spaceship Earth now asks you questions and puts your photos in a silly future story…they sent us to the Great Wall of China! Hahaha…

Not only is it Margarita Friday but it’s Cinco de Mayo so we went to the Mexico pavilion to stand in a long line for a margarita-to-go at Cava de Tequila! Sure would be nice to eat at the restaurant someday but we couldn’t get reservations. At least I got the chance to ride the ride this time. :)

Longest ride line today was for Test Track, but we got to design a car so guess what color I picked. Haha!

We both survived the intense orange team for Mission: Space without getting sick, and can you tell which Japanese floating gate is in Japan vs which is in EPCOT? 😉

Earlier today Glen said, “You want to meet Anna & Elsa for photos, don’t you.” I said if the line was reasonable then definitely, and we decided reasonable would be 45 minutes or less. Our Fast Pass for the Frozen ride wasn’t until 6:50pm, and when we finished Mission: Space, the Disney app said the Royal Sommerhus line was only 20 minutes! Not only did we not wait very long, the house decor is adorably Norwegian, and Glen stole the show when he told Anna he likes her better than her sister, so she had to repeat it to Elsa! He has been emphatic how Anna should get more respect as the true hero, so he asked if she would do her hero pose from the end of the movie. She said he could do it for her…nailed it! 😉

The first thing I did when we booked our hotel over a month ago was to get a FastPass for Frozen Ever After since we heard the stand by times were often still over an hour. We were so impressed with the state-of-the-art effects that we skipped the fireworks show and came back at closing to see it again!

The lefse was all gone on my 2012 trip, and I always wanted to try it, so we had our chance to split one. Glen has already tasted my mom’s lefse twice now, and I prefer her much thinner and more tender lefse! The giant troll is still there in the gift shop, but most of the space has been taken over by Frozen merchandise. 😉

We needed some protein for dinner, and we got inside the Oktoberfest hall just in time for the last music show! I love how they sneak in pickled herring salad on the buffet even though that’s more Scandinavian than German. We shared a flight of German wines that were refreshing and enjoyed the kids bouncing around to the fun traditional music. :)

We left EPCOT and two monorails later with the tail end of fireworks, we still had an hour of fun at the Magic Kingdom, so we started with Pirates of the Caribbean!

Our third Disney resort in three months, and our third park today, but no Haunted Mansion until tonight! We ran around front to get on again once more before the park closed, then a nice Haunted Mansion cast member helped us take photos outside! A couple castle photos and a bus ride after over 9 miles and over 22,000 steps means we are pooped! Animal Kingdom and more Magic Kingdom tomorrow…

Saturday May 6th

We decided we needed more sleep, we saw lots of animals out our window this morning, plus some more out the lobby verandas, so we skipped Animal Kingdom for just a quick breakfast at the main lodge, and we are on our way to the Magic Kingdom all day!

First stop was our FastPass for Enchanted Tales with Belle, an adorable interactive show for kids with more really impressive state-of-the-art effects! The new Fantasyland has a whole Beauty & the Beast area now, but boy is it packed with people today!

Sure glad we had a FastPass for the Haunted Mansion since the line was well over an hour!

We enjoyed sitting down inside for lunch in Liberty Square. Glad we had our last FastPass for Splash Mountain! I was trying to stay looking nice for dinner with the Beast tonight, but I still got soaked!

Delicious Dole Whip achieved, an adorable kids pirate lesson show with Jack Sparrow, and a Magic Band treasure map to win FastPasses for Pirates! Good thing since there are no digital FP available the Pirates for the rest of the day!

By the time we got to Tomorrowland, Space Mountain was closed, so since neither of us had ever ridden the PeopleMover we decided to try it. We couldn’t believe the super-long line would only be a 10 minute wait, but it was, and was “surprisingly entertaining” like the cast member said. 😉 When Space Mountain reopened it claimed a 2-hour line, but thankfully we were through in just over a hour…woohoo!

We made it back to Liberty Square with just enough time to shop before our 8:10 Haunted Mansion FastPass! We had already eyed our favorites in the morning, and after being spotted as superfans with Glen told he was “late for work” we were shown their two ghosts in bottles. The Hatbox Ghost shirt was teal and the printed dress adorable, but the coolest had to be the custom lenticular changing “spirit photography” portraits where they spookify you onsite! 😁

Be Our Guest was a fun as we hoped! The decor is amazing, including the West Wing with the floating rotating rose that drops petals between lightning flashes. Glen requested the photo of us dancing in the ballroom by our table! The Grey Stuff was indeed delicious, along with the charcuterie plate, seafood pasta & braised beef with our wine pairings. My big camera was freaking out, then the cast member I gave it to left when I was meeting the Beast, so I might just buy a Disney photo or two!

After dinner at the Beast’s Castle we had just enough time to get in the Haunted Mansion line so Glen could finally play with the interactive gravestones! We were on the ride for our 5th time this trip during closing of our last day, fitting that our hitchhiking ghost held up a sign saying “California here were come!”

Not quite as many steps as yesterday, but still too exhausted tonight and we have a super-early wake up call to fly home tomorrow! I’ll let you guess what our last ride was… 😉

Sunday May 7th

After about 4 hours sleep, we were up before dawn to get to the airport home, then Glen’s flight was delayed so I spent all afternoon by myself hauling my crap to the curb until he finally arrived, thankfully even with his luggage…long day and back to work tomorrow! At least the kitties have already forgiven me for being gone. 😉

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