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Old 14 Oct 18, 07:30 PM  
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Two Disney Nerds go coast to coast – A June WDW & DL trip report - day 4

Day 3 is here
Index is here

We’re going to Disneyland!

Tuesday 12th June

The day started early. Veeeery early. The alarm went off at 3am (ugh, also, as an aside – that’s midnight at our destination. Ugh again) and we sleepily dragged ourselves out of bed and started pulling ourselves together for our cross continent odyssey. It’s not right to see 3am from this side.

We threw our toiletries and jammies into our suitcase (we were taking 1 suitcase with another nestled inside with us to California, plus our two carry on cases – the rest were already on their way to the Polynesian for the next leg of our WDW trip) and with that, we were saying a very fond farewell to our room at Bay Lake Tower. The studios here are among the most sensibly laid out and while not perfect (its easier for us to have the rooms that have a single bed that pulls down from underneath the TV – much easier at the end of the day than pulling out the sofa bed) they are just lovely. We will be back here again, hopefully for the WDW 50th celebrations in 2021.

Our room was not too far away from the main lift, so we dragged ourselves down the corridor, very aware that it was very early & we didn’t want to disturb our neighbours. By 4am we were sat on the little bench outside the main Bay Lake Tower entrance, waiting for our Magical Express to the airport.



So long Magic Kingdom! See you on Sunday!

Our bus was due to arrive at 4:15, but the driver was soon pulling up and by 4:07 we were pulling away from the kerb and heading on to Orlando International Airport. It was the oddest journey, just us and a couple of older gentlemen on the bus, and we took a very unusual trip around the back of Magic Kingdom that we don’t usually see – all very fascinating to these nerds to see where all of the cast areas are, and where they shoot off the fireworks, and more Tronstruction views.

Thanks to it being the middle of the night we were very soon pulling into MCO – it was a brisk 37 minute journey according to my notes. We stumbled off the bus, tipped the driver and headed into the terminal with our cases.

We were flying with American Airlines from MCO to LAX. American Airlines don’t allow you to pay for any cases in the hold in advance so there was a little bit of anxiety going in – I hate not knowing what I am supposed to be doing, add to that not having had a coffee yet and it still being the middle of the night (well, not quite) I was a little befuddled. There are no manned check in desks for American Airlines either, just self service units. R went off to see if we could find someone to tell us what to do, but thankfully in that time a very nice fellow traveller who knew what she was doing explained the concept to me. In case you find yourself stuck travelling internally on American, the process is thus – enter your flight details on the self serve unit, check in, select the number of bags you are checking in, pay, print tag for your bag, attach said tag and voila! To bag drop you go with one bag ready to wing its way to wherever you are heading.

Phew. All this and it was still not even 5am.

Our next challenge was security. It felt a little strange heading to a different part of the airport – new terminal excitement! As the rest of the world was asleep it was a pretty quick trip through security and 15 minutes later we were on the monorail to Terminal B and gate 39 to LAX.

Our flight was not due to leave until 7:49 so we had plenty of time to kill & breakfast was first on the agenda. We settled on the Cuban fast food place – Zaza’s and grabbed a couple of Café Con Leche and egg & cheese croissants.

This was delicious. The croissants were flaky and warm, the egg and cheese all gooey and soft and just heavenly. The coffee was hot, sweet, creamy and most importantly strong. Honestly wishing there was a Zaza’s in the usual terminal, but there are 3 Zaza restaurants in the Orlando area (it’s a local chain) that I need to look up before our next trip…

Fortified with good food we take a quick stroll to find our gate and settle in, watching the sunrise as we wait.

And wait.

And wait.



It was a pretty sunrise though.

We board our flight late, but still, we’re on board and sat together, ready for our flight to the other side of the continent.

And wait.

And wait

First announcement informs us that there are technical difficulties that they are trying to fix, but we will be a little delayed.

So we wait.

And wait.

And then get deplaned as whatever the issue is cannot be fixed. We eventually learn than the captain’s seat was broken, so fair enough, he can’t fly the plane standing…

By this point our 7:40 departure time was long gone. The staff inform us that we are waiting for a replacement plane & I have visions of cancelled flights and lost luggage and am generally getting a little tense.

Finally, a new plane is sourced. Hurrah! But the pumps have broken so they can’t fuel the plane.

I think we were starting to get cabin fever by this point. The updates on my phone were amusing me though.





We finally boarded at 9:30, just under 2 hours after we were supposed to depart. Helpfully the plane lay out was the same as the first so we were all seated in the same configuration as the first flight, easy peasy.

Our old plane as viewed from our new plane



And we were off! Finally sky bound. I was starting to think we were never going to get there…



I was a little anxious that our suitcase had made it onto the flight, but American Airlines have a nifty app that includes a bag tracker, and the plane wifi is free for checking the AA app.



It certainly looked like our case had made it onto the plane with us.

The planes are a little basic though – no in seat entertainment, no charging points. But comfy enough. I tried to get some sleep but was far too restless, so tried to write up my notes instead. And stared out of the window at all these places I had yet to visit. Apologies – all of the photos to follow are from my phone camera which is now a little old (I still have the iPhone 6+) and has a permanent mark on the lens that I think is internal, heavens knows I have cleaned it enough.

I was a little obsessed with the changing scenery below. That country really is bonkers, so much different terrain.

















Finally – we made it to the other side!



Ocean!





R was delighted to finally see her hometown after so long apart. The pair of us were just pressed up against the window by this point, willing the plane to hurry up and land so we could be off.

Ahh, terra firma.





We ended up landing at 11:35, a little ahead of the 11:51 estimate given by the app. We were due to land at 10:15, so that delay of over 2 hours had been reduced to 1hr 20 in flight – thanks pilots! Hope that new chair worked out for you…

As is obligatory when going through LAX R and I brought out the Airplane! Quotes (and I geeked out as I recognised décor from the film – nice to see that hasn’t changed in the almost 40 years since it was produced… ) but mainly I was just delighted by how easy it was – we just deplaned, strolled along the corridor and down an escalator where I could finally breath in that LA smog air and grab our suitcase. No lines, no passport checks, so simple.

We had booked the Disneyland Resort Express bus from LAX to Disneyland. This isn’t a service operated by Disney but is referenced to by them as an option to get from the airport to the resort. We had been going back and forth about the different options for a while – Uber, private hire, or this bus service, and eventually settled on this as it seemed like a reliable and economical option at $30 per person. Unlike the Magical Express in WDW, the Disneyland resort Express has scheduled times, roughly every hour. We were planning on taking the 10:45 bus, but of course that was long since gone. The next bus was 11:45, but since we were grabbing our case at that time it seemed a little aspirational to think we would be able to get that bus.

However… we grabbed our suitcase and dashed outside to see that the bus stop was literally feet away from the exit. Even more helpfully, the bus has to stop at a number of terminals at LAX and our terminal was number 4.

The bus eventually arrived at 12:04 and we were on our way to Disneyland. So lucky! Despite the madness, we ended up on a bus that was just 1 hour later than the one we had planned to be on. So so lucky.

The bus itself was… something else. It smelt like poop (actual poop, or the nastiest of public loo you go to in error, not just bad) and was rather old. The driver was peculiar too, and the person who was taking tickets spent most of the journey asleep over from us. It was getting us to Disneyland however, so we put up, shut up and tried to not to breath too deeply. Needless to say we don’t recommend the service.

The final insult was that the bus was supposed to stop first at the Disneyland Hotel, but instead skipped ahead in its schedule and went to the Grand Californian first instead, before doubling back to the Disneyland Hotel. We were both jumping out of our skin at this point and just wanted to be off! I almost had us jump out at the Grand Californian and walk to our hotel, but patience won out and finally, at 1:06pm exactly, we were walking into the Disneyland Hotel. Goofy, Pluto and Dale were playing with guests outside as we pulled in, and then we found Chip by the check in desks watching cartoons with guests.



I could have cried. It was all getting a bit emotional and we hadn’t even checked in yet. Look at the Small World themed carpet! It was all too much.

The lady checking us in was super lovely and had us in a room super quickly despite the fact that check in wasn’t until 3pm.

We were on the first floor, almost immediately above the check in area – you can kinda see the awning for the hotel in the first photo of the room. It was also super close to the lift, but tucked away behind an extra door making the room really quiet. It was also in the Fantasyland Building, which was quietly the building I most wanted to stay in.

First, can we take a moment to appreciate the headboard?



I need a print of that photo, so beautiful.


The bathroom is all one room



Bath / shower to one side, the toilet is on the other side in what I can only describe as a broom closet.



Mickey head taps! Apologies for the lack of focus, I was a mess at this point



Closet / safe combo



Including robes!



Lets try that again



So cute.

And of course neither of us could wait to try out the headboard – it lights up and plays a dream is a wish your heart makes



Quickly adopted as my bed



Mickey heads on the sheets!



We were smitten. Staying here was definitely an indulgence, but also a bucket list item. It didn’t disappoint.



R was ready to be off.

Edited at 09:21 PM.
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Old 14 Oct 18, 07:33 PM  
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We quickly unpacked and freshened up before heading on out to the parks.



This was just outside our room. So cool!



Lift photo with accidentally coordinating ensembles.



Disneyland hotel from just inside Downtown Disney – we were staying in the tower on the right side.

Disneyland Hotel is at the other side of Downtown Disney, so you need to go through security and then walk through Downtown Disney before you reach the esplanade, on the right hand side is the entrance to Disney California Adventure, on the left side is the entrance to Disneyland Park. DCA was on what was the parking lot the last time R was here. You hear how close the 2 are to each other, but I don’t think I quite grasped just how close they were until I was stood in the esplanade, it’s a longer walk to the ferry dock at Magic Kingdom than the walk from Disneyland to DCA.

We quickly went through the turnstiles, having our photo taken by the Cast Member, which was checked every time we used our ticket.

And then we were in.



How perfect is that?

There were princesses meeting and greeting at either side of the train station, musicians playing in the background…

First stop was getting Max Pass added to our account (we had to do this through the app and could not add until we entered the park for the first time each day) and then we got our first photopass photos of the trip.



Train in the background!



We didn’t take advantage of this enough - it’s included with MaxPass along with ride photos. We didn’t ever add our ride photos to the app either, so just have crappy phone pictures of them that we really did intend to add later…

First Castle photo!



R was pretty ambivalent about the whole thing



The first look at the Fire Station. I am sure you are all aware, but Walt’s apartment in the park is above the Fire Station, and the lamp in the window there remains lit as a tribute to his presence in the park.



R was reunited with an old friend



There were tears. As first impressions go... it was just amazing. This place is pure magic. There are musicians everywhere, characters wandering around all over the place. The only way I can describe it is it’s the small town to Magic Kingdom’s big city. It feels so similar, but more intimate and personal.

Lets get a closer look at that castle



Thank you Walt



Lets take a moment to discuss the weather. It was in the high 20’s when we arrived, but the heat was in complete contrast to Florida. I was perfectly comfortable in my light sweater, my makeup wasn’t melting from my face (though I wasn’t sure I had much left at this point – it had been a long day already) and the sun felt so lovely on my skin. Its not a gentle sun though – we’ll do a little comparison in a couple of days when my hair is suddenly a few shades lighter.

I could happily live with this weather. I’d be blonde, but a happy California blonde.





Baby geese in the moat!



Paintings inside Sleeping beauty Castle





Tummies were calling – it was now 3pm, or 6pm Florida time – so we walked over to Frontierland to the restaurant that we had both been most excited about trying.

A few wilderness shots on our way





Mine Train!



Our destination – Rancho del Zocalo

Fun fact – it was an early iteration of this restaurant that led to Doritos. Really.



Just look how pretty the details are in this sign:



Stained glass on the way in

A

The cast members here were utterly charming and so helpful. As we were dining outside of the usual meal times it was pretty quiet which was helpful for a first visit, but everything was easily laid out and we headed straight to the enchilada station.

I ordered the Red Chile Enchilada Platter (Three Cheese Enchiladas topped with Red Chile Sauce served with Mexican Rice and Refried Beans - $12.99), R went with the Carne Asada & Red Chile Enchilada Platter (Succulent Beef cooked to perfection served with two Cheese Enchiladas, Mexican Rice and Refried Beans - $14.99). We also grabbed the crispy chips con Limon ($3.99) to share. Our eyes were bigger than tummies however and most of these went back to the hotel with us.

Worth noting – DVC discount of 10% was available here too. Handy! Our order was rounded out with a coke for me and a lemonade for R.

R’s plate:



My plate:



The chips



(creamer nabbed for our morning coffee also in shot)

In all honesty, this was possibly the best meal of the trip. I’m craving it now. Every element was utterly delicious. The plates were scraped clean. And lets take a moment for those plates – actual plates! With actual knives and forks! Can someone send me Rancho by courier?

The dining area was lovely too, although it was a little busy so I didn’t want to take any creepy photos of other people enjoying their food. It was right next to Big Thunder Mountain so we could hear the trains going around in the distance.

Whilst we were enjoying our food we booted up the Disneyland app to check wait times and to book our first fastpass of the day – Haunted Mansion at 4.30pm. We had little time to kill in the area first so we though we would head down to Pirates of the Caribbean first where the wait time was a very civilised 15 minutes.

As we walked along the Rivers of America down from Frontierland to New Orleans Square the Columbia was passing by







Before we made it to the entrance of Pirates. How pretty is that entrance?



We found this lovely fountain commemorating the first 30 years of the attraction



On to the ride!



It had just finished a long refurb just a week before we arrived so everything was looking gorgeous, and a few new elements had been added, such as this fabulous fellow:



Hopefully I have some better photos to come of him as the special effect is very cool.





Yes, they have the new redhead too; yes she is fabulous here as well













Its longer, has more details, more drops… I now completely understand why people say this is the best Pirates. My ranking, should anyone be interested, is

1. Disneyland
2. Disneyland Paris
3. Walt Disney World

It’s a triumph, and such a shame that WDW had to squeeze this ride into an area that was too small for it.

Edited at 09:23 PM.
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Old 14 Oct 18, 07:39 PM  
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When we left Pirates we were able to grab another FastPass, this time for the Matterhorn at 11.20pm.






Over at the Haunted Mansion, the fastpass line takes you past the pet cemetery where you meet a kitty and her kills



this amused me endlessly for some reason

The Fast Pass line was so short I barely had time to stop to take that photo before we were being ushered into the house and to the stretching room



It was all so familiar, but a little off. Like you had gone through the looking glass and it was taking a moment to realise that everything was flipped. Feeling the stretching room actually stretch was a bit of a thrill









So far, so familiar. Though you exit into the portrait gallery and a queue area that is more like the area at Phantom Manor in Paris than the area at Magic Kingdom.

It did mean that I got a closer look at one of my favourite portraits though





The Hatbox Ghost! R had heard about this fellow since she was coming here as a kid, but he had only been in the ride for a week or so after it opened before he vanished. He was reintroduced to the ride during the 60th anniversary celebrations and R was as excited as can be to finally meet him in person, so to speak.





It is such a clever effect. I’d love to get stuck on the ride just about here so I can get a better look at him – he is just after the bride right at the corner before you fall out of the window into the graveyard.



From the Haunted Mansion we walked on to Critter Country to see how the wait time for Splash Mountain was looking as there were no fast passes left for today. At over an hour we were not willing to wait, but headed on to Winnie the Pooh whose wait time said 15 minutes but in reality we were barely in line for 5 minutes before we were boarding our Hunny Pot to Hundred Acre Wood



We had always heard that WDW had the superior version of Pooh, with of course the greatest version in Tokyo. Now I can’t speak for Tokyo (yet) but between the WDW and DL versions, this one is definitely superior. It has a better storyline (no mean Pooh Bear leaving his friends to drown whilst he is stuffing his face) and the vehicles are just charming. I think the locals are just ticked that this took away their version of The Country Bears, for which I couldn’t blame them. I’d hold a pretty big grudge there too.





Look at the tiny Heffalump on the back of the vehicle!

























Time now for a little refreshment break, so we headed back to New Orleans Square to grab a couple of Mint Juleps from the Mint Julep Bar



We found a table nearby in the French Market and settled in to enjoy our drinks whilst watching the jazz band



They were fantastic, and so was the Julep.

Suitably refreshed, we realised that we were right next to the New Orleans Square Train Station, so why not hop on the train around to Main Street?

The station itself was just as cute as can be



We were not able to get on the first train, but just about 5 minutes later the next train was pulling into the station and we were able to hop on to the front row of a carriage that has front facing seats



We saw the Columbia again, a little higher up a view this time.



And then I ran out of space on my memory card just as we were going into the new section of the river. Talk about timing. It was glorious though, and photos will come on a future visit this trip. I managed to get a replacement card into my camera by the time we got to Small World and saw the parade pulling in to the end of its route – we held up the Up! section of the parade, but they seemed pleased to see us



Matterhorn!







Behind Tomorrowland



Bad photos from the prehistoric diorama to follow. This whole section is amazing and I kinda hope they add this into the Magic Kingdom with all oth those unused dinos from Ellen’s Energy Adventure whilst the railroad is down for Tronstruction.

The whole thing is behind glass, so that’s what I’m blaming for my out of focus snaps






Edited at 09:43 PM.
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Old 14 Oct 18, 07:43 PM  
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We hopped off the train at Town Square and headed into one of the shops we had been most excited to visit – Disneyana



(and look – benches! They’re all over Disneyland. It was lovely).





We drooled over lots of things we can’t afford and then headed next door into Town Square Theatre where we found one of the benches from Griffith Park, where Walt famously sat watching his daughters on the carousel, thinking that there should be some place where people of all ages can have fun together…



We walked back up Main Street as the sun was starting to set, heading behind the castle to go on into Fantasyland for our next Fast Pass – It’s a Small World at 6:30pm.





Snow White and her Seven Dwarfs. This area is just to the side of the castle and is just as pretty as can be.



Behind the castle





Fastpass on my phone ready to be redeemed. When we booked these is lost to time – I think it was either when we were waiting for the train or when we were walking back up Main Street



Can we take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous Small World is here in Disneyland? Just magic



We got here at 7.10pm and headed on in to the Fast Pass line. There wasn’t much of a line at all, but the FP saved us a few minutes I’m sure





So we boarded outside and were quickly passing this handsome fellow



Before heading on inside where the adorable started.





I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to think of Small World here. Unlike WDW, DL’s Small World has had characters added to each country, like Alice here with the White Rabbit and chess king and queen



Or Pinocchio hanging out here in his little wooden boy period





I’m not sure when it happened, but I just lost it. I bawled on Small World. Laugh it up Hyenas.





My girl the Hippo hanging with Pumba and Simba, Timon pops up out of that tower there too.



There he is!

It was something else. The whole thing felt so special, loved, detailed.



I was having some sort of religious awakening, latest member of the cult of small world (I’ve been a fully paid up member of the Disney cult for a good number of years – perhaps its like Scientology and I just entered a new level and could now see the alien overlords?)



And then this



My Caballeros!











the grass skirt dancers really moved





My favourite croc is a glittery masterpiece on the west coast











True story

Anyway. I patched myself up and scrabbled off the ride. We headed back down the hill into the main area of Fantasyland where we came across this gorgeous sign for Matterhorn FP

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Old 14 Oct 18, 07:45 PM  
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It was at this point that we realised that we would not be able to make it to our 11:20pm FP for Matterhorn. Or anything else. It was coming up to 8pm and we had been up for 20 hours, crossed a continent, had a bit of an emotional day and we went barrelling straight into a wall. We didn’t eve have the energy to walk back down Main Street, so Monorail to Downtown Disney it was.



The setting sun was making Disneyland look gorgeous

A welcoming beacon





The walk to the Monorail station takes you past some of the Autopia show scenes, this one was particularly cute.



Tomorrow Matterhorn, tomorrow.







I was particularly excited by the idea of taking the monorail from within the park. It looked amazing.

Tomorrowland would be explored, well, tomorrow.



We hopped off the monorail in Downtown Disney and went first to the Grand Californian, hoping that the little shop would be able to sell us creamer for our morning coffee since it’s a DVC hotel.



It was designed by the same people who designed Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge and oh boy does it show, this place is gorgeous.



Unfortunately the little shop did not have any creamer. Of course we later found out that the provisions are sold in the quick service area rather than the hotel gift shop, but we were too bleary eyed at this point to look in such a sensible place.



We stumbled, literally, to the Disneyland Hotel which was looking very welcoming

R was off, bed calling her name



it was a lovely warm evening and the pool was still very busy





its called the monorail pool and the slides are made to look like monorail vehicles. Another reason to stay here again – we never did make it into the pool





“can we go to bed now?” – R



We looked at some of the artwork whilst we were waiting for the lift. Yes, we were only one floor up but we never did find a staircase…







This is all concept art for Fantasyland. I could have spent hours looking at this stuff, but alas my bed was calling.




R and I dutifully washed away our long days. R was already in bed by the time I finished washing and I was just setting all my bits and bobs to charge overnight when I heard a large boom. And then another. I pulled the curtains open to discover that we had a sort-of view of the fireworks. Too tired to stand, I perched on the end of R’s bed & we watched the fireworks before finally crashing into my own bed at just about 10.30pm. Our first day in Disneyland done.

Day 5 is here

Edited at 08:21 PM.
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Old 14 Oct 18, 09:10 PM  
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Oh my goodness what a long day. Love all the detail and photos in your report. Thank you for sharing. Can’t wait to read your next day.
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Old 14 Oct 18, 09:14 PM  
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A long but brilliant day


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Old 14 Oct 18, 09:18 PM  
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After a shaky start it turned into a rather fabulous day. I thought you were optimistic booking a fastpass for 11:20pm. You did really well lasting as long as you did. Another one here looking forward to the next day.
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Old 14 Oct 18, 10:16 PM  
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Originally Posted by 4fromsuffolk View Post
Oh my goodness what a long day. Love all the detail and photos in your report. Thank you for sharing. Can’t wait to read your next day.
Thank you very much, its a lot of fun to relive it. The next day is going to take some effort - I changed the time stamp on my camera half way through the day (why would I do that to myself?!) so the photos are taking a bit of time to put in the right order...

Anyway - thank you so much for reading

Originally Posted by mick View Post
A long but brilliant day


Joan
Thank you very much Joan! It was quite a day - 22 1/2 hours at final tally. Phew! thank you so much for reading

Originally Posted by Juliemack View Post
After a shaky start it turned into a rather fabulous day. I thought you were optimistic booking a fastpass for 11:20pm. You did really well lasting as long as you did. Another one here looking forward to the next day.
Optimistic or crazy! We were both a little cross that we crashed, but really I don't think it would have been possible to go longer. We're thinking that the next time we go we will plan on arriving later in the day, have dinner and an early night so we can go go go the next day. That extra 3 hour time difference was a killer.

Anyway - thank you very much for reading
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Old 15 Oct 18, 08:48 AM  
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So enjoying your report and the amazing photos. I didn't realise the castle was so small at Disneyland! Looks beautiful though. Can't wait for the next instalment. X
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