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Unread 25 Aug 19, 08:45 AM  
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HelenJNT
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#USAnumber3- Helen&Andy Nov 18 - Day 12: Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Brown Derby & JingleBellJingleBam

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Day 12: Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Brown Derby & Jingle Bell Jingle Bam

We had a slower start this morning. Dont blame it on the sunshine, dont blame it on the moonshine actually, no, I wasnt hungover, I think we just took our time pottering around our lovely room and, for once, werent in a great rush to get out and about. Wed had such a good day at Animal Kingdom earlier on in the holiday that today was just about our self-imposed mandatory second day in order to fill in any blanks or repeat anything we love.

Therefore, we werent in a mega rush to get to the park by opening. Apparently, according to my photos, we even watched some TV. Who are we? I dont know. She clearly doesnt either.



I also received more updates from the kitty jail where our pets were currently residing. Apparently Rocco was too bouncy and refusing to stay still for a photo, so we were sent more screenshots from a video. Anyway, they were all OK and coping with cattery life, and it was a weight off our minds that they were alright. One of those odd feelings where you want the holiday to go on forever but youre also desperate to get back and see them. Mind you, Ive read trip reports where people were desperate to get back to eat a roast dinner or drink a glass of orange squash, so I dont feel too bad about missing my cats!

Oh! I was super annoyed. My make-up bag had fallen - or been knocked by the cleaner - off the bedside table and I had only realised this morning that the mirror inside my make-up palette had smashed as a result.



Luckily I never peel off the plastic safety thing to expose the mirror so all of the broken pieces of glass were well contained within it but I was narked as a) it was new, bought for holiday, and b) it meant I would have to try to keep it in one piece til I got home and could remove the whole mirror safely. I raided my Elastoplast box, and stuck a ton of plasters over the broken side of the mirror to cushion it further and to be honest, its still like that today as it is on my list of chores that I really need to do but havent quite had the time or inclination to sort it.



Right, back to the more important matters of the day. At 10:12 (once again grateful that I hadnt lost my phone forever on Rock & Rollercoaster yesterday, or this trip report would have had a very abrupt ending) we were ready to leave the room, and saw that a bus was due at 10:25. Perfect. Our first fast pass was starting at 10:30 so figured we had time to get there before it expired at 11:30. Ooh, dicey.





We were in a bit of a hurry and so there arent any photos from leaving the Beach Club to arriving in Pandora for Flight of Passage. Andy had actually decided (dont throw tomatoes at him) that he didnt want to ride this again, that once on a trip is enough for him, as it makes him feel sick. Well, one mans trash is another mans treasure, and all that, so we agreed to meet at the end of the ride and that I would go on by myself twice while he entertained himself. He wouldnt give me his magic band in case he wanted to buy something, so we had to try and meet and swap them over once I had been on once.



Single riders, it turns out, are dealt with really quickly on Flight of Passage. I was directed into the centre lane, and I was completely alone so it was only a few seconds before I was selected to make up the numbers of another group. Sweet.





However, once in the ride, things went a little pear shaped. I was with a massive group of people, half of whom had gone into the next chamber. You go in as a 16, but are divided into two 8s on the ride. There was some sort of kerfuffle coming from the other side of the divide, and one of the ladies on my side got up to see what was going on. Turns out her brother was having trouble fitting into the ride vehicle, but the rest of the family were doing their best to position him properly, so the restraints would close, and he could enjoy the ride.



The lady was pretty aggressive, and for want of anyone else to talk to, decided to rant to me for quite some time about how hard he had worked on his pre-Disney diet and that it was terribly unfair that he still didnt fit in the restraints and they should make an exception and all that. I didnt really have a lot to bring to the conversation other than some sympathetic nods. Clearly he was within a whisper of fitting, or the cast members would have asked him to try the trial seat before letting him into the ride itself?

We could hear rather undignified tugging and grunting coming from the other side of the screen and then, after what felt like an eternity, a round of applause. He was in, and we were off!

As soon as I got my phone back from the locker at the back of the ride chamber, I sent Andy a Whatsapp to explain why I had been so long, and asked him to meet me at the ride entrance so we could swap our magic bands over. And in I went once more!



















This time I was also speedily matched up to make up the numbers to another group. Single riding for the win! I was number 16 again, and this time my ride companions were Meredith and Bernard from New York. They were brilliant, both well into their 80s. Bernard, which was pronounced the American way, BernArrrd rather than the English way which sounds like Burnud, had to come out of his mobility scooter to ride this, and needed several companions to help him on to the bike. Meredith was a very sprightly lady, who sounded not unlike Janice from Friends, and was clearly terrified.

She struck up some conversation with me, asking if I had ridden it before and was it frightening, and that she was only doing it because her grandkids told her she absolutely had to ride it but that she was scared she was going to pass out. She was awesome and kept chattering away to me whilst BernArd was telling her jokily to pipe down. I loved them.

The ride started and all I could hear was Meredith shouting BernArd! BernArd! If I die, make sure the diamonds go to the right one!. It was hilarious. Then all of a sudden she went quiet for a moment, and then started shouting again Oh my god BernAAArd, can you see this? Oh my god, its so beautiful, oh my god, Im flying!

Hands-down, right there, one of my best Disney memories ever. I know others might have been annoyed at her squawking throughout the whole ride, especially if theyd queued for several hours to get on, but, well I loved Meredith and BernArd, and thought it was just brilliant. It even made me a bit leaky-eyed to see her terror shift to such utter joy.

I composed myself, said goodbye to my new friends and scampered off down the ramp to meet Andy. No offence to him but I always have so much fun as a single rider as I never know quite what is going to happen or who I am going to meet.

Poor Andy was drenched and not in the best of moods - no photos - but it appears hed been caught in a short rain storm whilst I was in the ride. Hehe.





Given that the FoP fast pass had taken twice the amount of time as it would have done if we had both ridden, it was now time for our Dinosaur fast pass so we needed to make our way round to Dinoland.



It looked like it was shaping up to be a really busy one in Animal Kingdom.







And look at the fast pass queue for Dinosaur. Ugh.



Still, we survived our trip back in time (oddly, I find this ride scarier these days than I ever used to). Phew! No idea what happened to our ride photo here though as I dont seem to have it.







Next up, Primeval Whirl. All my anatomy stayed where it was meant to be, but it makes me feel horrendous. Im sure Ill ride it on every trip, but I find it peculiar that Andy cant do Flight of Passage or Forbidden Journey, but is right as rain on something like Primeval Whirl. I do the whole thing with my eyes shut and still come off it feeling grotty.







Despite feeling icky, it was definitely lunchtime. We decided that seeing as we were in that corner of the park, we would give Restaurantosaurus a go. We havent eaten here for a couple of years (since the scene of the mad conversation about trying to convert meal credits to snack credits in order to get some chilli cheese fries) but we only fancied something quick and easy so it was time to give it another (primeval) whirl.



Wed pre-ordered whilst in the Primeval Whirl queue (really getting the hang of this now, and loving how easy it was to customise orders, for example, removing bacon for Andy), and in a dramatic turn of events, Andy was despatched to go and collect the food he wasnt happy about this at all and I went to hover menacingly around tables that looked as though they were about to depart. Not really. I found a seat pretty quickly.



After what felt like an eternity, Andy finally returned.



Cheeseburgers for both of us (plain for him, bacon for me), which came with fries, plus a side order of chilli fries (snack credit), cos, yanno, plastic cheese. Hed gone for a Wildberry Lemonade, and I had ordered a Safari Amber beer. It doesnt look very amber though and I have a feeling there had been a mix up somewhere.



Believe it or not, this was my first ever ever Disney quick service beef burger. I know. Mad. I always default to chicken or some other mad looking thing on a menu but today I just wanted a burger. I went and raided the toppings bar and was very happy with my booty, not to mention my ability to manoeuvre rings of red onion into one of those little paper pots. Life skills.



Once I had loaded the burger up with all my favourite things jalapenos, onion, mayo, tomato I got stuck in, and I was really pleasantly surprised as it was good! The burger was nicely cooked, not like an old carpet tile, juicy, and the bacon was great. The fries were hot and crispy, and the chilli cheese fries were pretty good too yes, it was school dinner mince but on the whole, we really enjoyed this lunch and polished it all off. Id always turned my nose up a bit at Restaurantosaurus in favour of other places in Animal Kingdom, but wed definitely go again. Win. Are all Disney burgers as good as this one? If so, its a whole new world of junk food for me. Most people seem to go to Disney fearing that all they are going to eat is quick service burgers -well, Ive survived many, many Disney trips and this was my first one, so there.



We had a quick look to see what the wait times were like in the rest of the park, and were pretty shocked to see that the Navi River ride actually had a longer queue than Flight of Passage. So strange. I guess Pandora fans just cant get enough of looking at the backs of peoples heads.



Speaking of which, we were also shocked to see the scene which greeted us on arrival at our Everest fast pass. The fast pass line was roped right back as far as the bridge by the Nemo theatre and it was utterly mobbed. If this is the sign of things to come, with Disney opening up fast passes to other hotels then soon there isnt going to be any real advantage to it at all. Even at Thanksgiving, wed never experienced queues to get into a queue, but it happened to us several times on this holiday.





There you go, fans of a time check.



Once wed tapped into the fast pass, I immediately searched the app to see what else was available. Not holding out much hope though, given the wait times around the park.



But, luck was on our side, and we managed to snag a fast pass for the Safaris which was due to start at about 4pm. Perfect, as we were planning on catching the 15:00 Nemo show, something we hadnt seen in a few years.







But first, to ride! I managed to take another selfie on the ride (did I learn nothing from my Rock & Rollercoaster phone experience?). Sorry about all the bra. Nearly had another 2016 Primeval Whirl moment there.





Yeti despatched, we felt thirsty and so headed on over to Starbucks to grab a drink.



I spotted this chap, who immediately became my new hero, to the point that I had to take a surreptitious photo trying to capture both his tattoo and his great t-shirt, which, if you cant quite make it out, states I like pig butts and I cannot lie. Bravo, that man.



Drinks were purchased, and we made our way back towards Nemo. It was pretty busy and we didnt have fast passes as I resolutely refuse to fast pass shows unless there is absolutely nothing left available on the day and weve already used all three on rides.





As you can see, we squeezed in, although were situated somewhere near the back. There isnt actually a bad view in this theatre and, dare I say it, some of the effects are more impactful from further away. Ive said before that I find the seats for this show among the worst in the World the slats are soooo uncomfortable and like sandpaper. So, what happened next surprised me most of all I fell asleep!

Sitting bolt upright, on a horrible bench, nothing to lean on, and a half-full venti Starbucks iced drink in my hand.



Apparently according to Andy, I was asleep for a solid 10-15 minutes which meant I missed a fair chunk of the show, but hey, Dory is annoying, and Marlin is frustrating, and Nemo is a little brat, so it probably worked out for the best all round. Tell me, have you, or has anyone you know ever done the same? Im not even a napper and I didnt think this was physically possible. Mind you, I have slept in some terrible hotels for work over the years, so maybe it was good training?

Suitably refreshed, we left the theatre at the end of the show and headed on over towards Africa, stopping for a few photo passes here and there.





This is a normal sized rucksack by the way the man was a giant.



Not really.



Safari time!





We were lucky enough again to be on the front bench of the vehicle, which meant that not only could we hear the drivers narrative loud and clear, but we also had an uninterrupted view of what was coming.







Considering it was pretty hot out there, at 4pm, we actually had one of the best safaris weve had, putting this ride as two for two on this holiday. And even better, we got stopped for ages by the lions by something crossing up ahead, so I got to have a really good look at them and take a load of grainy iPhone photos which Ill probably never look at again once this report is posted, but felt important at the time.



Apple could probably make a fortune selling Disney Park Lovers storage plans you know. A million photos of the same damn thing every year, but each of them too precious to delete.

Once we had tapped in to the safari, we spun the fast pass roulette wheel again and I couldnt believe it when Everest came up, for an hours time. YES! I had said that one of the only things I had wanted to do this trip was to ride Everest in the dark again, as it was one of the highlights of my time in 2017, but I had become resigned to the fact that we werent going to be able to do it. Well, thank you, universe.



After disembarking the safari, we had a little time to kill. I was all in favour of hitting the Nomad lounge for a spell, as we had really enjoyed it last year, but Andy wasnt in the mood for a drink, and instead, wanted to do Its Tough To Be A Bug. This was fine by me as its always good fun.













We had an eternity to wait though (read: approx.12 mins) as a show had only just gone in, so we took the time to browse the near-empty waiting area and admire all the little touches, like these posters. I bloody love a good pun (and a bad one too):



















Also, while we were waiting, we debated what we wanted to do that evening. We had no real desire to see Rivers of Light again, and there was a party at the Magic Kingdom, so we couldnt go there. Andy was actually keen to see the projections and festive firework show at Hollywood Studios as we hadnt caught it thus far in the trip, so that became the plan. However, there was a fair amount of down time involved between now and then, so we decided we had better use some of our dining credits up, and snagged a table at 19:30 for the Hollywood Brown Derby. Cool.





Its Tough To Be A Bug was as fun/creepy/weird as ever. God, Id love to be a first timer in that show again although in hindsight, I wouldnt know when to close my eyes for the spiders, so perhaps not.



By the time we emerged, the sun had set, and I was massively excited about our last trip to Everest. Look how excited I am its palpable. Hehe.



In all seriousness though, this was just brilliant. If you get the chance to ride Everest at night, please do it. Its a game changer.









The theme park gods were clearly looking down on me tonight as when we came off, we saw the wait time had dropped to 20 minutes, so I dragged Andy on it again. Where he proceeded to do an impression of me during the Nemo show.



Continued below...

Edited at 11:12 AM.
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Unread 25 Aug 19, 08:45 AM  
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Suitably exhilarated, it was time to leave the park. There was zero point going back to the hotel, so we kept on trucking and caught the park-to-park bus to Hollywood Studios. I dont think we had to wait too long, and if memory serves, we had the bus almost to ourselves too. It must have been quick as my last photo in Animal Kingdom is just as we got on Everest, and my next one is under an hour later, with us already through the gates of Hollywood Studios.





We looked to see if there were any fast passes available, to no avail, so headed straight to the Hollywood Brown Derby to check in for dinner.



Back in the day, and I am talking the mid-90s, this was the restaurant to eat in. I have vague memories of it, and all the pictures on the walls it felt so glamorous. As I had fond memories of it, Andy and I had eaten there (and paid for it, no dining plan then) back on our honeymoon and again, it was good. The team there were nice and gave us free champagne and dessert as it was our honeymoon, and I have very fond memories of the general ambience, amazing lobster spring roll that I had for my starter. Yes, I can remember a starter I had nearly a decade ago, cant you?



We were about 20 minutes early for our 19:30 reservation, hoping that we might be seated a little early. Peeking our heads round the door, the restaurant didnt look that busy, so we were confident we would have time to eat two courses and get out in time for the 21:00 fireworks. Yes.



The check-in area was a complete scrum, nothing golden-age about it. Kids screaming, parents shouting; it was awful. And we had to put up with it for ages as we werent seated til 19:40. When we were finally led to our table, it was in the lower part of the restaurant which was OK but felt a bit like we were dining in a drained swimming pool. Plus, it was noisy.

Our server chucked some bread on the table and away she went. I dont want to sound like a horrible snob (which means I am going to) but you can buy ten of these rolls for a couple of quid in Tesco they didnt exactly scream signature restaurant.



The thing that sticks out most in my memory is our completely absent server, who, when she did turn up, was rude and surly. She looked and sounded like Baddison from Orange Is The New Black, wasnt happy that we declined starters (that lobster spring roll was long gone) even though she knew we were on the dining plan, and looking at the times on the photos I have, we waited over 20 minutes for our drinks. She also rolled her eyes when I explained at the start of the meal that we were in a bit of a rush as we wanted to see the fireworks at 21:00, and made some sarky comment I forget what exactly, but it was unnecessary.



I cant remember what this cocktail was, Im afraid but knowing me, it would have been some variation on a margarita. Andy stuck to Sprite and we both asked for water.



The menu itself looked pretty good, the food here always appeals to me and it was actually one of my more difficult menu choices as there was so much I fancied. And I had plenty of time to make up my mind, as our server didnt come back for ages. Sometimes I complain about the fact that Disney turn tables too rapidly for you to enjoy your meal, but the one time on this trip where we were on a bit of a deadline, it was slower than a sloth hitching a ride on a tortoise. It wasnt a relaxed signature dining experience, we were being ignored.



Eventually, about 40 minutes later, our main courses arrived. Andy had gone for the beef fillet, which came with sweet potato silk (pretentious, much) and mushrooms. It looked small, and didnt take him long to get outside of it.



I had made a pretty good choice I went for the Cioppino, which is described on the menu as seared scallop, lobster, seasonal fish, blistered tomatoes, fennel, olive bread croutons & cioppino broth.



Unlike poor Andys shameful use of two meal credits, this was a sizeable portion and it was really delicious, if a little salty. I ate all of it, but Im not entirely sure I would have paid $50 OOP for it. Still, Ive never had this dish before and it was nice to try something different.

It was now 20:45 and I was getting twitchy as we still had dessert to order and the evening fireworks were due to be starting at 21:00. We wanted to see the show particularly as it was the holiday special and wed really enjoyed it last year. In desperation, I flagged a passing server down and asked for our bill, but he said he couldnt help us and would go and find our server out back.

Five minutes later she was back at our table. I explained that we were in a rush and could we please order some dessert to go, and have our bill? She wasnt thrilled about this but told us that as we were taking the dessert away, it limited our options and we could choose three mini desserts instead as they were more portable. Why they couldnt just do us a slab of cake each was beyond me, but we chose the mini desserts and asked her (nicely) to please hurry.

Id ordered a mini grapefruit cake, and, because I was under pressure, and a lot of the other options didnt appeal, or we werent allowed to order them due to portability issues (really), two of the chocolate mousse cakes. Andy did the same but ordered an espresso cheesecake instead, so he had three different ones.

Finally, at 20:59, Baddison brought the boxes and our bill, which I tapped and scribbled as fast as I could. For the first time ever, we only left a 10% tip. Bit naughty I know, as it was a signature restaurant and the main courses had been alright, but we should have been able to get through two courses in 90 minutes, and weve never had a server be that rude to us, in Disney or anywhere else. Maybe she was having a bad day, maybe the Brown Derby is better at lunchtimes, I dont know. But I think itll be another ten years before we try it again.

We hurried out the door, and the evening show had already started but hadnt been going long. We managed to find a decent viewing spot relatively easily. Its so much easier to get a good view of the evening show at DHS than at the other parks as its flat and open and there isnt much to get in the way.



The holiday show, as I said in my last report, is some odd little story about some elves trying to save Christmas. Its very cute and the projections are really clever its definitely worth seeing if you are over there during holiday season, we liked it a lot. Sorry if some of my photos look a little... post-apocalyptic.







































What we liked less, was this crowd trying to get out of the park. Woah. Look at a these people. Hell.



Unbelievably though, we managed to weave our way through the scrum, protecting our portable desserts at all costs. We were fully prepared to have to do the salmon swim past the bus stops and to walk back to the hotel, but we saw that a boat was due to pull in and the queue wasnt that long, so we happily turned left instead, and got on the boat. Hurrah!







Back at the Beach Club and we popped into the Marketplace to grab some bottles of water, and a couple of forks so we could eat our desserts.

The water bottle made me laugh:


Desserts were nice and had more or less survived their journey. The chocolate mousse was lovely dare I say it though, I felt the fabled grapefruit cake might be a tad over-rated. But we ate it all up and enjoyed them very much.



Thats it for today. Weirdly, this was the first day of the whole trip where we broke 20k steps and I can only think it was because we didnt come back to the room part way through. It didnt feel like wed walked that much though!



I hope you join us tomorrow for our last full day (sob). We have a great morning in Epcot, and then attend Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party in the evening! Day 13 can now be found here

Edited at 09:53 AM.
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Unread 25 Aug 19, 07:21 PM  
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Awww. Bernard and Meredith sound soooooo cute! What a lovely moment!

Oooh I do love Restaurantosaurus and agree that Disney burgers are good! I mostly go for the chicken tenders too, but every burger Ive had has been tasty!

Loving Andys pose on Everest Hahahaha! Edit to add : both times hahahahaha!

Hilarious that you managed to sleep on those god awful benches!

Eeeep so lucky with that Everest FP! Youre so right, its AMAZING in the dark!

Ooooof your server sounded awful. I dont blame you for only tipping 10%. What a cow. You should have shamed her to guest services. Especially given its a signature restaurant. I have to admit, Ive never considered dining here and you havent made me want to!

Glad you caught the show (and the boat)!

Fab day, so much done! Xxx
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Unread 25 Aug 19, 07:28 PM  
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Thank you for sharing, you made me chuckle out loud with the FOP antics especially Meredith & Bernard!
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Unread 25 Aug 19, 08:05 PM  
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Another mega day - great fast passes in AK...its good to know there were still some decent ones after seeing your queue to get in the queue for Everest, yikes.

Meredith and Bernard sound adorable, I love single rider for the same reason as you - always fun to snoop on other people!

How infuriating about the server. I havent got that booked and Im glad now, although I am doing Hollywood and Vine instead #prayforme

Cant believe youre onto the last day already! But at least youve got another trip booked.
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Unread 25 Aug 19, 08:41 PM  
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BernArd and Meredith 💕
Its little moments like that you only get in Disney 🙂
Another great day, shame about the pants server
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Unread 25 Aug 19, 11:39 PM  
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BernArd make sure the right ones get my diamonds made me laugh 😂😂😂😂
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Unread 26 Aug 19, 07:52 AM  
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I'm also loving the BernArd and Meredith story, it seemed a far better experience for the single rider than being moaned at about Disney building the vehicle too small Shame about the shoddy service at dinner, at least you saw the show. Photos looked fab.
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