Our last full day of the trip had arrived, which also happened to be St. Patrick’s Day. We all wore green again in full Irish spirit. My dad, sister and I headed to Animal Kingdom bright and early to ride Everest and Dinosaur and Primeval Whirl during the Extra Magic Hour. We always spend the least amount of time at Animal Kingdom but this trip we spent the better part of a day there.
After going on these three rides, we ran out of the park back to the car and back to Old Key West to pick up my grandma, mom and aunt. We drove back to Animal Kingdom and most of us went on the safari using our Fastpass + Reservations. After the safari we headed to Yak & Yeti for lunch. My sister and I were super excited about eating here. We ate here the first year that it opened and loved it (besides the fact that there was no cell service and the air conditioning was too strong). The chef was very accommodating in making sure anything I ate was not cooked near shellfish. My sister and I had dumplings to start and then shared Sweet and Sour Chicken and another Chicken dish. It was EXCELLENT! Nothing like having Asian cuisine for St. Patrick’s Day! The forecast had said it would rain in the afternoon so we wanted to get back to Old Key West before it started pouring. We quickly used our Fastpass + reservations for “It’s Tough to be a Bug.” Because my grandma is in a wheelchair, they sat us in the front which is actually a very smoky part of the theater during the scary part. I say the scary part because I had not seen this show in a while and ended up closing my eyes during the smoke filled part. I get scared easily as you can tell. After leaving Animal Kingdom, we went back to Old Key West. For the first time since my parents starting going to Walt Disney World every year which was back in the early 90’s, we ventured off property to the Orlando Shopping Outlets. We spent a few hours here before we ate dinner at Olivia’s which wasn’t as great of a meal as usual. My Arnold Palmer did not taste like the one I had had in Vero Beach a week ago. My dad, sister, and I then went to Hollywood Studios for late hours from 9:30 to 11:30pm. We rode Rock’n’Roller Coaster and they did it twice. I sat the second time out as well as the three times they went on Tower of Terror because riding Star Tours had made all three of us not feel well for a bit. We saw Fantasmic which we had not seen in a few years and it exceeded my expectations.
I was glad we went to that because it helped my motion sickness from Rock’n’Roller Coaster to go away. It was sad leaving the park because it was our last full day in Disney. The next day we packed our bags, went to the Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom for lunch which is my grandma’s favorite restaurant and headed to the airport. It was another great trip! I would definitely head back to Disney in March because the weather was perfect. If I went back in March, I would spend more time in Epcot at the Flower and Garden Festival.
Looking at my schedule and noticing that March 16th was the fourth day of the trip meant that we were more than halfway done with this vacation. Vacations always go by quickly! We had a late start this morning after three of us had been out in Magic Kingdom so late the previous night. We had made a last minute reservation through the My Disney Experience App the day before for lunch at Mama Melrose’s one of our favorite places to eat. We made it to Hollywood Studios with time to walk around and go through One Man’s Dream before heading to lunch. Before we went in to eat, my sister grabbed a coffee at the little coffee shop around the corner. I can’t stand the taste of coffee and mochas but she loves them. I love Italian food, so lunch was great. I had my usual for Mama Melrose’s which is the Chicken Parmesan. We used our Fastpass + reservations after eating to go on Toy Story Mania. We also saw part of the Cheerleading Competition on the Indiana Jones stage. Since we had not been down in Florida in March before, we had never seen this taking place. There is always something different to do in Disney and no one can say that they have done absolutely EVERYTHING. It was hot outside and so we did not spend as much time as usual in Hollywood Studios. We passed this advertisement for Maleficent near Toy Story Mania. I always loved the large billboards in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As a kid I never recognized any of the ABC shows but now I know what the shows are and watch some of them. Just one more thing I notice that has marked my growing up through Disney trips. We rescheduled our Great Movie Ride Fastpass + reservations because we had missed the original time. Switching them with one of the cast members took a long time. The wi-fi was bad and it is hard when they give you a time instead of letting you choose one. We finally got a time that was early enough before dinner so we went on the Great Movie Ride before exiting the park. I was super excited because we passed through the gangster scene with no shooting. Emma (my sister) and I were thrilled. We have had the gangster for the past few times so it was nice to have the bandit for a change. Emma was a little frightened because she did not remember ever having a different “show.” I am fairly sure I say most of the ride script now. I don’t think there has been a trip where we did not go on this ride.
We left Hollywood Studios without going on my two favorite rides-The Hollywood Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. I knew that we would come back the next night for late hours. We went back to Old Key West to get quickly changed for our St. Patrick’s Day themed dinner at Raglan Road. We drove to Downtown Disney where parking was not fun. Note that you can have your car valeted near Raglan Road during the St. Patrick’s Day celebration. I am not sure if this is only because the construction was going on or if they do it every year but it could come in handy. We split up upon arrival at Downtown. My aunt, grandma, sister, and mom wanted to go shopping in World of Disney. I LOVE looking at everything in the World of Disney but my dad and I wanted to go to Fit2Run to buy new running shoes for our half marathon in less than a month. It was a long, crowded walk over Fit2Run on the Pleasure Island side because of the construction walls which limit the pathways. Fit2Run was not crowded however which was good because we did not have time to wait for an hour before buying shoes. We had two nice guys help us by having us run on a treadmill which showed our gaits in slow motion and then telling us about how we ran. They brought us shoes to try and then we ended up both deciding on purchasing Asics. Then my dad and I walked back to Raglan Road, passing by some Irish bands and festivities. We found the rest of the family listening to a band outside Raglan Road. We checked in and my dad bought a Guinness while we were waiting. Most of the people who passed by were dressed in green, as all members of my family were. The atmosphere in Downtown Disney was great. We were seated close to our reservation time and had a booth where half of us could see the performers on the stage in the middle of the restaurant. I enjoyed the dinner even though I am not a fan of Irish food. I prefer anything Italian. We watched Irish dancers, singers, and musicians perform throughout the night. It was loud which was to be expected but do not plan on having a long conversation when eating here without feeling the need to shout. There was free face painting so everyone but my mom got something Irish painted on their face. Here is a screenshot of the snapchat my sister and I sent out. She looks like she is crying but it is because she was laughing so hard. It was a successful St. Patrick’s Day celebration the day before St. Patrick’s Day and we were tired when we got back to the room. My dad and Emma went back out to Magic Kingdom but I wanted to be ready for the next day. My dad, Emma, and I were planning to wake up to make 8am for Animal Kingdom early hours and that meant I would need to be up before 7am to shower and get ready.
My sister woke up to a fully decorated room and a Sweet 16 Birthday Princess Sash and Button awaiting her. She did not wear the sash all day, to my disappointment since I had picked it out but she wore it at night when we closed Magic Kingdom. We quickly got ready and got on a bus to Magic Kingdom. We were let into the parks because we had the tour reservations and signed in to the 8:30 tour. We received headsets which ended up being very easy to use so that we could hear the tour guide better. I am not going to tell much about the tour however I will say that it was fantastic! Our tour guide was awesome. My three favorite parts of the tour were 1) seeing the mad rush of people run down Main Street as the park officially opened for the day 2) seeing the backstage parts of Magic Kingdom and 3) learning facts that I had never read about or heard of as a huge Disney World fan. Since my sister turned 16, we could finally go on the Keys to the Kingdom tour and it was worth it. We had lunch during the tour but no dessert so after the tour ended we grabbed Mickey ice cream pops in Tomorrowland. Here is my overjoyed birthday sister with chocolate on her tooth. We went on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, which is my grandma’s all time favorite ride. She went on it during the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair which is very cool. The part where you go through Space Mountain appeared darker than normal or maybe my vision is just getting worse. We then went to the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, which has become a new favorite of mine. The show is different every time and very funny. You can go three times in a row and still have a blast. Here is a photo of my dad featured on the screen during the show. I know he will be thrilled when he sees this on my blog. My sister really wanted to take pictures of the new Festival of Fantasy parade. So we headed over to Main Street to watch the parade. My dad bought popcorn and I have never had popcorn at Disney. It was very good. The sun was really shining at this time and I could feel my scalp getting burned which would hurt in the shower in the following days. We decided to leave the park after the parade in order to get ready for my sister’s birthday dinner at Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian. The first time my parents, aunt, and grandma, went here they were so stuffed afterwards and had to sit down on a bench before continuing their night. The second time, we all ate there and it wasn’t as great of an experience with cold food and less than Disney type service. So my dad determined that this time would be the deal breaker. We had an amazing dinner here. They had shellfish free and dairy free menus for me and my mom and were able to change almost any dish to suit our allergies. I ordered a cake for my sister when we walked in and she did not notice. At the end of the meal, my sister and I went to the bathroom and the waitress brought out the cake all lit. My dad says she quickly blew out the candles and ran back. We returned from the bathroom and had take 2 of the birthday cake. My sister was surprised especially since I had sounded very convincing when telling her what I was going to order from the dessert menu. After dinner, my dad brought my grandma, aunt, and mom back to Old Key West while Emma and I took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. Emma and I rode the People Mover another time for fun after watching the fireworks on our way in. They let people out of the park next to the bathrooms right before Tomorrowland off to the right of Main Street which was weird. We had Fastpasses for Space Mountain but I have been getting more motion sick than I used to so I decided to pass. My dad arrived in Magic Kingdom 15 minutes after the Fastpass+ Reservation expired but him and my sister were still allowed on which was great. We rode Winnie the Pooh since there was no line and then went to Ariel’s Undersea Adventure to use up more Fastpass+ Reservations. Well we got stuck in the Ursula scene for ten minutes. So others were taking flash photos and we decided to attempt a selfie. It turned out blurry but interesting… Big Thunder Mountain Railroad would be our final stop for the night. We rode a total of three times I believe. The last time we rode was the last time the coaster ran for the night. We have never ridden a ride the last time for the night. This was pretty cool. We closed Magic Kingdom as usual and left the park very tired.
On March 14th we headed to Epcot after my dad and I went for a 6:30 am 3 mile run around Old Key West. It was 48 degrees when we started running! That seemed crazy after having run the Tower of Terror 10 Miler last October in 70 something degree weather with high humidity. It felt warmer than the Northeast but not by much! We had Fastpass plus reservations for Soarin’, Test Track, and Nemo (different members of our group had combinations). We managed to get to all of them and see the Festival Center for the Flower and Garden Festival before lunch. Soarin’ seems to have increased the amount of orange spray used. Test Track and Nemo seemed similar to the last time I went on them, which was not surprising. I was more excited about the food booths for the Flower and Garden Festival but it was nice to see brightly colored flowers after being in gray, dreary winter in the Northeast.
After going on the Nemo ride, we ventured around the aquarium portion of the Seas watching dolphins, poisonous lionfish, and rays swim around. The coolest thing was seeing the eels be fed though. We had never seen this done before. Certain eels were fed with the food brought right to them while others swam up a tube in order to get the food. The two cast members explained everything they were doing which was great and answered any questions. Right before this demonstration, my sister decided to be funny and “kiss” the fish. She’s weird, I know. We had lunch at Biergarten because we had not been there in years and I had no memory of the buffet style German restaurant. My sister and I learned very quickly that we are not fans of German food. After walking around for already three hours in Epcot we were starving. My sister and the rest of my family had stopped at Starbucks for snacks but I had been signing us all up for the Twinings Tea Tour in England for the afternoon. The pretzel rolls and the pork with the pepper sauce were our two favorites. We decided we would probably not come back here for a bit (at least my sister and I did). It was fun to hear the German music and take a photo with one of the German waiters though. We left lunch and walked around the World Showcase for a bit. We got to America and I wanted to see the American Adventure so we went in. We saw the Voices of Liberty sing but did not see the actual show because I realized our tea tour was going to be starting right as the show would end leaving us no time to get to England. So, we quickly exited the theatre before my favorite part of Epcot, the American Adventure, began. I will have to see it next time! Below is the view from upstairs (where the wheelchair parties are escorted to-my grandma can’t walk for long so she has a wheelchair). We walked to England and signed in for the Tea Tour. I stood in line to get a bottle of water which took a good seven minutes due to everyone before me ordering fish and chips. But it was warmer than the morning so I felt the purchase was a necessary one. The tour started at 3:45pm and was a nice 20 minutes tour around the different types of Twinings tea set up behind the England tea house. We learned about how different types of tea are made and which ones are caffeinated and which ones are not. Afterwards we each got a packet of 8 tea samples from Twinings. This was a very nice souvenir from the free tour! A great, free, short tour if you or your family members like tea and are in Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival.
I then realized that we would be just in time to see the British band play in England. They are my favorite part of England in Epcot. Unfortunately I only knew one of the songs they played. I need to brush up on old British bands. Usually they play some Queen and Police but not at the show that day. My aunt and her friend met up with us around this time and we went around the Outdoor Marketplaces or food booths as I call them for dinner. I tried the Spring Pancake in China which was delicious! I also had a chicken kebab in Morocco which was also tasty. I wish we had not had lunch so late because I wanted to try many other items. We stopped to watch Gary Lewis and the Playboys, a band from a few decades ago, play as part of the Flower Power Concert Series. My sister got henna on her leg in Morocco with my mom while we listened to the band play a few songs. One of my aunts especially enjoyed the concert because she had listened to them growing up. I wish I had listened to a few of their songs beforehand so I would recognize the songs more. To end the night we all headed over the walkway to the Beach and Yacht Club. We ate ice cream at Beaches and Cream. Usually we go to Ghirardelli’s in Downtown Disney for our ice cream fix but I think Beaches and Cream is the new top choice. I had mint chocolate chip ice cream with hot fudge and sprinkles and almost finished it all. My sister had a massive peanut butter sundae. We passed on getting the kitchen sink because we were too full from our snacking and lunch. My dad let the cast member who was our waiter know my sister’s 16th birthday was the following day and so everyone sang Happy Birthday as he brought out her sundae and a balloon. Disney is a great place to be for your birthday. We were too tired to go back to Epcot for the fireworks. My sister and I almost fell asleep on the couch in the lobby while my dad got the car. We fell asleep fast once we got back to our Old Key West room. We needed to be up early the next day for our Behind the Scenes Keys to the Kingdom tour in Magic Kingdom. It was also my sister’s birthday and I had bought decorations so my dad had to decorate the room before my sister woke up the next morning.
For the first time EVER, we decided to go to Walt Disney World in March. We made this decision for a few reasons. One was that it was the last time my break and my sister’s spring break would coincide before I leave for college. Another reason was that it would not be as hot and humid as August usually is but not as cold as November either. And a final reason or bonus was that it would be my sister’s 16th birthday while we were down. She was absolutely thrilled at the idea of being in Disney on her birthday.
March 13th was the first day of our trip. My sister had come back from Italy the night before so she was frantically repacking the morning of the 13th before our 10am flight. My grandma and aunt came to my house and we drove to the airport. It was -2 degrees when we got out of the car at the airport. We were definitely looking forward to the warmer weather! On the flight we got a free movie which turned out to be “Frozen” because we had to walk outside the airport to get to the plane. I did not mind this at all. When we arrived at Orlando, our luggage came quickly and after a quick rearrangement of the luggage to get it all to fit into the rental car, we were heading to Old Key West!
My sister and I could not wait to have a snack when we got to Old Key West at around 2:30 even though we had dinner in three hours. We bought Mickey Ice Cream Pops at Conch Flats while my dad checked us in. My grandma and aunt’s room was ready but ours was not so we hung out in their room. Soon after, my aunt and her friend popped by for a quick hello before we had to go to the Contemporary for dinner at the California Grill.
The last time we had been at the California Grill was with 22 family members in matching polo shirts before the renovations. We were excited to try the new menu items and have a great first meal.
Our meal here was excellent as usual. I had Sweet Potato Gnocchi as well as a rich Chocolate Pudding dessert.
The meal did take a little longer than expected so my sister and I missed our Big Thunder Mountain Fastpasses for the night. We all headed back to Old Key West. My mom, dad, and aunt went out to go grocery shopping (A traditional first night festivity for them) while my sister and I debated whether or not we should go to Magic Kingdom. We ended up deciding not to. I did not want to get stuck in the fireworks crowd coming out of the park and I also wanted to be ready and well rested for a full day at Epcot the next day. I thought that she should also catch up on some sleep since she was still on Italy time. I am going to end Day 1’s summary with a picture of the sun setting at the Contemporary, something I really loved seeing and was a lovely first look at Magic Kingdom of the trip.