Trip Report ~ Day 2: Animal Kingdom

Sorry for the delay in posting this update!  Okay …. now, on to our Day 2, which was spent at Animal Kingdom!

We are rope drop people (or we try to be 90% of the time) – so we were at the park at opening, but with no time to spare – but, luckily, that meant we didn’t wait in a line to get in! 🙂

I, personally, love Animal Kingdom.  My family – not as much, with the exception of Expedition Everest – which my girls LOVE!!  Hubby is not a roller coaster person, so he’s never even done it… but, he is a sport and he goes along with us.


Given the love of Expedition Everest – that is where we started… And, the wait times were so good that my daughters went for subsequent rides!  They love when it works out like that and they are able to do EE back to back to back!  I chose not to participate in the subsequent trips up the mountain.  But, the girls sure loved it…

Here are a few of the EE ride photos:



As a side note, not sure that I’ve ever taken a ride photo that I liked… but, moving on…..

After we rode Expedition Everest a few times, we took a few pictures at the Tree of Life …


… and headed to have some brunch!  We decided to give Pizzafari a try!


We were actually thinking that we might make it in time for the breakfast menu, but by the time we made it over – they had the lunch menu out.  But, that was okay – we all like pizza!


Three of us decided to get pizza (pepperoni for the hubs and youngest, with veggie pizza for me!) and my oldest daughter decided on the chicken, veggie and pasta salad.  We all really enjoyed our meals – I, particularly, enjoyed that I got a Caesar Salad with my pizza and – while I’ve had better salads – I really enjoyed it.  My oldest really enjoyed her pasta – though she expected it to be warm, but it was a cold dish.  For our desserts, three of us got the chocolate mousse and the baby got the cheesecake in a glass.  We all really enjoyed the chocolate mousse (not as good as the mousse from France in WS, of course, but it was good).  The cheesecake wasn’t received as favorably… she didn’t like the ‘gel’ topping that was on it.  So, she finished off my mousse.  The only major complaint was from my husband – who will easily drink two (and usually more) average sized cups of drink with a meal – and, Pizzafari doesn’t offer refills.  So, that was a bit disappointing… The price for the refills was reasonable, so we did keep him hydrated … but, a minor complaint.

This restaurant is absolutely beautiful – we made it a point to walk through all of the rooms and admire the brightly colored decor.  It was fun to look at all of the paintings on the wall… and the colors were just so cheerful …


We would definitely return!

And, then we headed to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.


We had never done Rafiki’s Planet Watch – but, it was in the right area (we had fast passes for the Safari in a bit) and I was intrigued by the concept of the Express Train, with it’s side facing seats..


We enjoyed the train ride and decided to explore a bit.  As I said, we had never done this … so, we didn’t know what to expect, but we enjoyed it and even got to meet a few characters (unexpected bonus for my youngest daughter).

Hannah with Rafiki:



Hannah with Chip & Dale:


After meeting Rafiki and Chip & Dale, we decided to head back for our safari.  It was a good plan… however, as we made our way back in to the Rafiki’s Planet Watch station, it started to rain … and we decided, having done the Safari on our last trip, to skip the Safari this time.  We didn’t want to just sit at the station, so we headed out… THE.BOTTOM.FELL.OUT… Luckily, the girls and I were able to take cover and remain relatively dry!  My husband, not so much … bless his heart, due to the people blocking the doors to the shop we were going in, he got soaked!  Thankfully, the down pour was short lived and we headed out… After stopping to take a picture with an African mask.


Given that we were all already wet, we thought this was a perfect time to do Kali River Rapids (for the girls – the hubby and I sat it out). So we took a trip to “Asia”… it was an uneventful travel and we just enjoyed the sights along the way! The girls enjoyed the ride.

We decided to have a mid-afternoon meal / snack together and headed to Flame Tree Barbecue! We decided to share two of the combination platters and it was wonderful! The chicken was delicious!!!



After our meal, we headed to do Expedition Everest again!



After Everest, we headed to DinoLand to spend some time before we enjoyed a show a bit later.  With the exception of Dinosaur, I don’t particularly enjoy DinoLand, but it is a cute area.


The girls enjoy Primeval Whirl – so they rode that a few times.   We were going to ride Dinosaur, but given the wait and the timing for the next Nemo show (which we wanted to see) and our FP for Expedition Everest return time, we headed back toward the theatre.  There was still a bit of time before the show, so the girls headed to Expedition Everest, while we waited at the theatre.

While we were at the theatre waiting, I got a frantic text from my oldest daughter.  My youngest daughter, Hannah, had lost her Magic Band on Expedition Everest… She was so upset!  I knew we could get a replacement, but it wasn’t the same as her custom painted Magic Band.  I could understand!!  But, I told them not to worry about it and come on back (they only got to ride once) so we could watch Finding Nemo:  The Musical.


It was a great show!!  I really enjoyed it – but, I must admit – Hannah being so sad about her Magic Band put a damper on it.

After Nemo, we decided to grab a snack – a Mickey bar for me, Dibs for Sarah and a frozen banana for Hannah (Michael declined a snack) and go ride Dinosaur.  As always, we really enjoyed Dinosaur… we rode it twice, as it was nearly a walk on by this time.



After riding Dinosaur, we decided to head out of the park and to Animal Kingdom Lodge for our dinner reservation at …


We were most excited about this reservation – and had been really looking forward to it!  And, it didn’t disappoint!!  The restaurant is beautiful!  And, we had a wonderful server, named Chris – who took really good care of us during our meal.

We already knew that we’d start with the bread service … with all the accompaniments!


The hubby and I decided to have a drink – he chose the Magical Star Cocktail and I settled on the Malawi Mango Margarita.  Both were delicious – but, I much preferred mine!

For our entrees, I chose the Spicy Durban Chicken and Beef Short ribs.  Michael chose the Butter Chicken and Spicy Durban Chicken.  Sarah chose the New York Strip and Hannah decided on the Tandoori Chicken.  We all enjoyed our meals!  The only think I would change is that I would get the Butter Chicken, instead of the Spicy Durban Chicken.  Hannah would probably try something else … while she enjoyed her chicken, she didn’t enjoy the side (Coriander Khichdi) that was served with it.

Here are a few pictures:


Beef Short Ribs & Spicy Durban Chicken


New York Strip


Butter Chicken and Spicy Durban Chicken


Tandoori Chicken

For dessert, the girls and I decided on the dessert trio, while Michael got the rice pudding.  We all enjoyed our desserts – but, my favorite was the Chai Cream – next time, I would choose 3 Chai Cream!!  It was that good!!


Dessert Trio


Rice Pudding

After dinner – we were stuffed and tired and retreated to our room to rest up for our day at Universal Studios, the next day!

Stay tuned for the next post!!

Trip Report ~ Day 1: Magic Kingdom

Let’s see … where did we leave off….

Okay, after our delay in travels (darn weather) – we finally got to Pop Century, were checked in and headed to Magic Kingdom!  Yah – how exciting… nothing like finally getting to Walt Disney World, and getting to Magic Kingdom… I’m not sure I could ever start a trip where Magic Kingdom wasn’t my first stop!!

Given that we were later arriving that we expected, and we had planned for lunch at Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian (my favorite resort – and dream resort – I’ve never stayed there – but, can remember wanting to from when I was a child!) – we decided to head there before going in the park ~ boy was that hard to do – but, with a later reservation at Chef Mickey’s, we didn’t want to be too late getting our lunch.

Getting to the Polynesian was a little more tricky than normal, due to the monorail being closed – so, we decided to take the boat.  But, there was a long wait ~ more delays.. that really stinks when you’re ready to get your vacation started!  But – a day waiting at Disney World, is better than a day anywhere else!!  Completely not related to Disney  – but, while we were waiting in line, we saw some girls who were softball players for ECU (East Carolina University) – and it was a treat for my youngest daughter (who is also a softball player) to get to talk to them.  They are incoming freshmen and were there for  a tournament at Wide World of Sports.  Hannah thought it was cool to get to talk to them.

Finally – we were on the boat headed to the Poly!!!  It was a nice boat ride… even if we were eager to get to the pork nachos and Dole Whip!!!  I took the opportunity to take a quick picture of the girls with the Grand Floridian behind them:



As soon as we get to the Polynesian, we head straight to Captain Cook’s…


We’ve been looking forward to this since our last trip!!  Pork Nachos (which will be a new one for us) and Dole Whip (a family favorite!!)!!

The hubby and I both had the Pork Nachos.  They were D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!!  They definitely did not disappoint.  This dish contains homemade Polynesian chips,  wonderfully seasoned shredded BBQ pork (same as what is on their Aloha Pork Sandwich, pineapple salsa and a cheese sauce that has a bit of a sweet taste to it!  We all really enjoyed it!!


The girls decided to share the Stir-fried noodles.  The noodles contained chicken and vegetables, as well as Udon noodles ~ with a lemon grass sauce.   And it is garnished with fried wontons.  They were also very delicious!!


And, of course ~ we finished it up with a Dole Whip!!!  It had been a long year since we’d last had one.  I know that some purists prefer the plain Dole Whip – but, I much prefer the Dole Whip Float – but, I certainly wasn’t going to pass up a plain Dole Whip – what better way to get our vacation started!!

Dole Whip

After we finished our lunch – we headed out to the lobby to take a look around – Have I mentioned that the Polynesian is my favorite resort???  Well, it is!  I absolutely adore that resort – and I have a mission to stay there at some point in my life!!!  It has the most beautiful lobby. And, as an aside – I’m sad to hear that they are apparently removing the water feature as part of the upgrades that are going on now.. why in the world would they do that??  Something about the smell of that lobby always makes me happy – without the water feature it won’t be the same. 😦

And, one more picture of the girls at the Poly before we move on to the rest of the trip report for day one:

Girls at Poly


After lunch, we headed to Magic Kingdom!!!  One of the first things on our list was to get our PhotoPass + card (sad that this will be the last time we’d have the PP+ benefits – now with Memory Maker you no longer get the physical pictures at the participating character meals or the disc of all your pictures – it is all digital – unless, of course, you wish to pay extra – Not cool, Disney… not cool!).  It took a while in town square – but, we were able to get our card!

With all of the travel delays – we really didn’t have a lot of time before we needed to make our way over to The Contemporary for our dinner reservations (I know, right, we just ate … but, that is okay – that is part of the fun of vacation at Disney World – the eating!!!).  So, we kicked around Magic Kingdom for a bit – mostly just looking around and soaking in the magic!

Then it was off to The Contemporary…


Normally we would have ridden the monorail (it is my favorite mode of transportation in Disney World – I can remember riding it with my great grandparents, grandmother and aunt when I was a child – and, as soon as I get on it – it takes me back!).  But, as mentioned earlier, the monorail was down for refurbishment (only during the day – so we’d be able to ride back to Magic Kingdom – YaY!) – so we decided to walk.   We weren’t quite sure how long it might take us to walk – so we left a bit early with the thought that we’d be able to look around the resort a bit – I’ve never really explored The Contemporary.

We were early, so we took a look around.  They have some pretty nice shops there!!  I was looking for a small Minnie Mouse and this was the place that I bought it… My good intentions were to take Minnie with me as we enjoyed our vacation – and, have her be in lots of our pictures – well, she did go with us some… and did get in some of the pictures – but, my good intentions did sort of fall flat … oh well … after shopping a bit and just looking around the resort – we went to check in at Chef Mickey’s.



We’ve never been to Chef Mickey’s before.  I didn’t really expect a lot out of the food, as I had read so many bad reviews – but, with the Fab 5 being there – and, it being my daughter’s choice for her birthday celebration – we decided to give it a try!

We really didn’t find the food to be bad, as some have reported – We’ve certainly experienced better food – but, it was good, filling and – again – our decision to eat here was more about being able to meet the Fab 5 at one location.  Over the course of our planning, I mentioned to my daughter that we could get her a cake when we were at Chef Mickey’s – and, for some reason, that was what she had been most excited about!

The food:

Chef Mickey's Food


I thought the meats were excellent – there was roast beef and turkey.  Both were delicious!!  I also tried the ribs – but, I could take them or leave them.  The mashed potatoes were very good as well.  I did try the sushi – meh!  I did, however, really enjoy the mozzarella and tomato salad.

We didn’t really try a lot of the desserts – as we were having Birthday Cake!  I was really pleased with the presentation of the cake – it is so cute how they did the cake and cupcakes on the Mickey platter.  My daughter was thrilled.  And, the cake was quite tasty!

Now – for what we really came for… the characters!!  You can’t beat being able to meet the Fab 5 in one place!  If for no other reason, we would do Chef Mickey’s again – just for that!

My daughters with the Fab 5!


The character interaction was great!  They took plenty of time to sign autographs for my youngest and pose for pictures!  I think that Goofy was the absolute best, though.  He took Minnie off the table and proceeded to cut up with my husband.  He was hysterical!



Our server – who’s name I can’t remember – was great as well!  He was extremely attentive and went out of his way to make the birthday cake delivery special!  When we weren’t able to eat the whole cake (as if we could have) – he offered to box it up for us to take back to our resort.  When we told him that we were heading back to the Magic Kingdom, he even offered to hold the cake there until they closed if we wanted him to.  We declined, but I thought that was a very considerate gesture!!

When we got back to the Magic Kingdom – we were able to get a lot of rides done!  We were amazed at how much we were able to get done!!  Even my girls, who never seem to think that we’ve ‘done enough’, kept commenting on how much we were able to do!  I’m sure that our progress was aided, in part, by the fact that we weren’t watching Wishes this night – as we had the dessert party scheduled for our last night!

After riding lots of rides, trying a Le Fous Brew (my daughter loved it – I did not!) and having a Dole Whip Float (my absolute favorite – YUM!) for a late night snack, we headed back to Pop for some rest!  We were heading to Animal Kingdom the next day!



A few more random photos from our last Disney trip

I’m working on the next blog post in my trip report (should have it published before I go to bed Sunday night) – but, in the mean time, I was looking through some pictures and doing some editing… And, thought I’d share a few now … more to come, of course… These just happen to be a few that I was working on, tonight.


My oldest daughter, giving her ‘thumbs up’ for being at Magic Kingdom, in front of Cinderella’s Castle.

Castle Edited_Fotor2

Cinderella’s Castle – before the crowds came in!

Sarah Dumbo 2-25-14

Sarah and Dumbo 🙂


Another photo of Cinderella’s Castle.

Sarah and Hannah Epcot 2-24-14

Both of my daughters enjoying the World Showcase in Epcot!

More to come later …. 🙂

Getting to Disney… part 1 of the trip report

We don’t live THAT far from Disney, so driving is an option; however, the hubby is not interested in driving 8-9 hours for vacation … so, we like to fly!  In 2013, we were able to fly out of our (somewhat) local airport – with a direct flight to Orlando.  That direct flight has since been cancelled by Southwest – so, if we were to fly out of that same airport this year – we’d be changing planes – also not on hubby’s list of ‘acceptable travel arrangements’.  So… what is the Foster family to do??  Drive to Atlanta, the night before, and fly out of the ATL!

After the girls finished school on Thursday, we loaded the car and headed to Atlanta – this is an easy drive for us (though, driving through Atlanta does give my husband a bit of anxiety).  We arrived at our LOVELY hotel by 7 or 8pm.  We like to stay at Hilton Garden Inn – as we’ve had great success with all of the locations we have been to – so, that is what we chose for this overnight stay.


As is typical – this was a very clean establishment that met all of our needs!  We found our room to be clean and inviting – and we knew we’d rest (as much as one can rest when they are excited to start their Walt Disney World vacation!!) well before our flight out!


We booked a stay, park and fly package – which allowed us to leave our vehicle at the hotel for the duration of our vacation – and utilize the transportation to/from the airport, that the hotel provided!  This worked out wonderfully for us!  Unlike some of the area hotels that offer this service, the Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Airport/Millenium Center offers gated parking for it’s guests – so there was a sense of security in leaving our car parked there for over a week.

We had dinner in the on-site restaurant. While somewhat expensive (as is the case, typically, with these on-site restaurants) – it was a very nice meal.  Of particular note – my husband really enjoyed his 1/2 roasted chicken which was exceptionally seasoned and moist.  The girls had cheeseburgers, including The Classic Mobley (which is, apparently, a signature dish at Hilton restaurants).


I had some sort of steak wrap that was, obviously, somewhat forgettable.  Certainly, the stand out was my husband’s chicken!  All in all – a pretty good way to start our vacation.

After a good night’s rest – we were up early, for an early flight to MCO!  The shuttles run every 30 minutes – and, unfortunately, we just missed one of the shuttles as we arrived downstairs – luckily, this hotel has a beautiful and comfortable lobby – so we waited for the next shuttle.


Once the shuttle came – we were on our way to the airport!!  It was a short ride to the airport and the shuttle let us off at the Southwest entry and we were on our way!

We had chosen, this year, to utilize the Magical Express luggage service – which allows you to check your luggage at your departing airport – then you don’t have to worry with it at all!  They get it from the airport for you – and deliver it to your room within 3 hours of your arrival to MCO!  It worked out great for us!

Our experience in the ATL airport was mixed – mostly good – but, a few hiccups.  Baggage check in was easy enough – though, we did find it a bit rude that the clerk ASKED for a tip (we were planning to tip, anyway – but, them asking is a bit rude – in my opinion).  Anyway – that was easy enough – as was the TSA line (waiting, aside).  Then we headed to the tram to get to our terminal!

Once we were checked in and through TSA, we headed to our gate to grab a bite to eat … and wait…. not so patiently… for our departure time!

We decided to grab bagels and other breakfast goodies from the Atlanta Bread that is in the airport – everything was good – though they certainly did flatten out our sandwiches.  We did, however, find the service to be wonderful here!  Then, my oldest and I wanted to get a coffee from Starbucks… let me tell you – there were some ‘characters’ working there … not rude, so much as just not engaged – and certainly more concerned with entertaining one another than helping their customers.  Coffee was good – service, not so much.

Finally – we were boarded… and supposedly on our way – but, NO!  Due to weather delays – we sat IN THE PLANE for an additional 1 1/2 hours before take off…. So we did what any self respecting people would do – we whined and complained to each other … and took silly selfies!!


Aside from some turbulence and a longer than normal flight (due to re-routing to avoid bad weather) the flight was good… but, we were so ready to be there!!  Nothing worse than being on vacation, but not able to start your vacation yet!!!


Eventually – we made it to MCO …

and then boarded the Magical Express …



and then to Disney World …


and then to Pop Century …


and, eventually, to Magic Kingdom…


Check out the next installment of our trip report for what happens next!!!