Over the next few months, this discussion came up again and again and I told her that we would love to take her to Disney for a day and show her how we do the parks. We had extra tickets we could share, so we planned to do a day, the day after Labor Day, when crowds would be lower.
A few weeks before it was time to go, she messaged me on Facebook and told me that she found a great deal on a room at Pop Century, and that she'd be glad to pay for a room for us, so that we could stay for two days, instead of one! Score!
So, with that in mind, I began planning an awesome two-day extravaganza that didn't include the Magic Kingdom or even the Mono-rail! FastPass+es were made, meal reservations were made, I was ON it!
We were up before the sun on Tuesday (and after running a 5k yesterday!) and we headed directly to Pop Century to meet mom and check in. Since we got there at 8am, there obviously weren't any rooms ready, but they would text us when they were. We hopped on the bus and made our way to Animal Kingdom to get in line for Flight of Passage, the new ride in Pandora: The World of Avatar (P:WoA).
Mom was a little put off by how crowded it was for this ride, but was in good spirits as we queued up at 9:03am.
|We look like we're close, but we're soooooooooooooooo far...|
|We were now in the "official" queue around 10:30am|
|I dunno know what this is, but it's cool lookin'|
|Disney people always want to put money places! And, um, I hope they don't want that gift card back...|
|I'm #2! I'm #2!|
Once we left P:WoA, we were all ready for lunch. Mom only eats yogurt for breakfast, and all we'd had were donuts, so we trekked over to Restaurantosaurus for some Picky Eater food.
The Kiddo got nuggets, Mom and Hubby each got a burger, and I got a Kid's Meal cheeseburger, that was served in a bucket!
Because we'd gotten there early, we were also able to score the BEST seat in the place; the Airstream Booth!
A thing of Disney Legend, envied by all on the DISBoards and internet chatrooms. I have officially made it as a Disney Ultimate Fan!
|🎶 It's the end of the world as we know it! And I feel fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine! 🎶|
Once our meal was done, our next FastPass+ was for Finding Nemo. Is this a great use of a FP+? Not really. But Mom isn't a roller-coaster rider (I'm the only one), and she'd mentioned many times how she wanted to see some of the shows that Disney offered. Hubby and the Kiddo think Finding Nemo is a boring show, but they knew that this was a trip for Mom, so they went along with it.
After we found Nemo, we headed over to Festival of the Lion King. I'm the only one - out of the three of us - who has seen this. Mom saw it once and was looking forward to seeing it again. I saw it on the day I did Disney alone, after the Kiddo went to MegaCon a few years ago, so I was eager to share it with them, especially because the Kiddo is a rabid Lion King fan.
They were both impressed with the show, but I was impressed with the seats we got!
|Hey, I'm in a tree|
|Like a true performer, he caught my lens all show long!|
|Insert Culture Club Reference Here|
|He can light the candles on my cake!|
|I'm so happy to be an extra!|
|Raise your hand if you're a badass Mofo!|
We stopped by the Boardwalk Bakery, where I got a cheese croissant and we all split a Creamsicle cupcake. Mom asked the cashier at the bakery if they had any sort of picks for my birthday (picks are the little plastic things you usually find on cupcakes). The poor cashier had no idea what she meant, but they were able to find a box of candles, so I stuck two candles in my danish.
I liked the danish, but the cupcake was not very good. I think I'll stick to my cheesecake brownies!
|I wanted to keep the box, but I was already weighed down by my sand pail from lunch|
|(We never actually lit the candles)|
|Orange Creamsicle Cupcake (Yellow cake, marshmallow top, crispy pearls, orange cream filling) - it was meh|
|I'll just wait for a Publix cake, thanks|
Mom, however, really liked it!
|Despite looking indifferent, she was enjoying it!|
We didn't stick around for Illuminations, because Mom's not a huge fireworks person, so it was time to catch the bus back to the hotel for the night. We'd been texted hours before what room was ours, so we were able to go directly to the car and grab our bags, then conk out in the rooms.
|It's a crappy photo, but I love it because that's how they spent most of the day; just walking and chatting!|
|Queen bed and Queen Murphy bed (when closed it's a table with two chairs to go with it)|
|Kitchenette-ette? Fridge and coffeemaker; also luggage rack and ice bucket, and chairs for the table|
|Big TV and sideboard/dresser|
So, we headed over to the Bus Loop to pick up a bus to Wilderness Lodge (the CMs said it would be easiest to take a bus to Wilderness Lodge, and then boat over to Fort Wilderness from there). Once we got to the Loop, however, a Fort Wilderness bus had just pulled up to drop off their park-goers, so we hopped on and got a great personal bus ride over to FW. He was very chatty, talking about the impending storm (Hurricane Irma, more on that in a bit...), and he seemed almost sad when we got off the bus!
A second bus brought us to Trail's End Buffeteria, only a little bit late, and we were soon settling down to a delicious breakfast.
|Sausage, Bacon, Biscuits & Gravy, Breakfast Potatoes, Tots, Donut Hole, Pulled Pork, Mickey Pancake and Eggs - whew!|
|NOAA prediction as of August 30th at 11am|
|NOAA prediction as of September 3rd at 5pm|
|NOAA Prediction as of September 4th at 11am (less than 24 hours later)|
|Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap!|
Now it was forecast to come straight up the center of Florida! When we saw this, we started thinking, hmmmm, perhaps we should take this a little bit more seriously?
|NOAA prediction as of September 6 at 8am|
|Get out of my shot!|
Once there, our first stop was Toy Story Midway Mania. Hubby and the Kiddo rode together, so I was able to ride with Mom. She did terrible and ended up winning a cat.
|Both of us have bad vision - I think it shows!|
|It's soooooooooooooooooooooooo long!|
|Kiddo, Lazy and Mom|
|Hubby, Kiddo, Lazy|
Traffic seemed a bit heavy for a Wednesday, but we didn't think anything of it until we got past the Okahumpka Turnpike Service Plaza (about 70 miles from home). Once we were past there, traffic got slower and slower until finally, it just stopped.
|This is our view on the Turnpike at 2:50pm|
|And this is the view behind us... there's a lot of traffic|
Yeah, there was some reason - an unusual reason - for this slow down. It's not every day that there is hardly any traffic coming the other direction when you're on the interstate.
|I mean really? There's only three cars going South!|
When we got to where I thought the problem was, there was no problem, so we had to rethink about what the problem might be.
The storm! Duh!
Holy shit! Are all these people coming NORTH because of Irma?! Where do they think they're gonna go?
After more than an hour of this stop and go traffic, I made the decision to cut our losses and get off at State Road 200 in Ocala and take back-roads home. There were even back-ups when we got off the interstate!
|We got off the Interstate around 3:50... to more traffic on State Road 200|
|I'd guess 4 lanes, 4 pumps each lane - 16 total pumps and still this backed up!|
We got on US-441 and headed north, and soon the road was wide open.
|Our view of 441 at 4:15pm|
In case you don't know, I live in a college town. This Publix is the closest grocery store to all the major dorms and apartment complexes. Many of these children (yeah, I said it) have never had to deal with a hurricane, if they moved from out-of-state (or out of country!), and many more haven't had to deal with one in so long, that they were very young when the Summer of Hell happened to Florida in 2004. And if they ever have had to deal with a hurricane, chances are their parents were there to deal with the logistics of getting water, making an emergency kit, etc. Basically, I'm in a town of Hurricane Newbies, and it showed!
Parking was hell - there were scooters everywhere, parked willie-nillie. People were trying to put bottled water in bike baskets. This was a huge mistake. But, we kept on.
Inside, you would have thought zombies were coming! All of the water was pretty much gone, as was the bread and most of the pre-made food from the deli. We each grabbed a pre-made sandwich and a soda and got the heck out of there. I was ready to GO HOME!
What a birthday, huh?