Archive for November 28, 2014

Jaime & Ethan’s Pinky Swear Trip: Day 2, Part 1 “Trapped in Fantasyland!”


Most mornings I pop out of bed, since I’m a morning person, but on vacation I occasionally do it before the sun even makes an appearance. Today, the sun is out, but hasn’t had time to burn off the fog, so my first savannah pictures are not as good as I’d like them to be. But I’m not complaining, I have a balcony, a savannah, a cup of coffee, and I’m on vacation!

We get ready for the day and take a cab over to the Polynesian Resort for breakfast at the Kona Café. Just to refresh your memory, our last visit here the chef made me incredible Gluten Free Tonga Toast out of rolls. Amazing!!!

This trip we are told Disney will no longer let them modify foods like that. I’m beyond heartbroken. I settle for Allergy Mickey Waffles with some pineapple-macadamia nut butter. These aren’t even the best waffles I’ve had – the centers are a little runny.

Ethan orders the Big Kahuna and indicates he also wants the gluten free substitute, but the chef misunderstands and brings him GF pancakes instead of Mickey Waffles. These are the thinnest pancakes I’ve ever seen in my life!

By far, the most disappointing breakfast we’ve had – we swear off Kona Café for awhile.

We monorail over to the Magic Kingdom (having to wait for the monorail to begin operation – we are really running early today!) and make Rope Drop!

I don’t know what has gotten into us, but we start today doing a series of Character Meets…

Ethan is hooked on themed exit signs…

It is close to 10:40 by the time we actually get on a ride!

According to Ethan’s list, the next item was the Fantasyland Steam Train. We must have ridden a full loop then, because after that, we’re still in Fantasyland! For what, you ask? MORE CHARACTERS, OF COURSE!

Still in Fantasyland, we run into the Main Street Harmonics. I love this kind of entertainment, but I think they’re lost!

Next up was Enchanted Tales with Belle, and guess who got to be picked as a Suit of Armour again!

It’s time for an early lunch at Be Our Guest – being creatures of habit we order the same meal as November: turkey for Ethan, roast beef for me!

Still good, but not quite as good as last time…

One last character meet in Fantasyland and it’s time to change location!

Jaime & Ethan’s Pinky Swear Trip: Day 1, Part 3 “Animal Kingdom Lodge Room Photos & Sanaa Dinner”

I love getting to your hotel room and checking out every corner, every detail! We had a DVC Savannah View Studio Room down Kudu Trail, overlooking the Sunset Savannah (the one between Jambo and Kidani.)

View of Kidani from our room:

Here is the room (since it’s too dark for savannah photos):

I love the soft lighting at this resort…

We have dinner planned at Sanaa tonight. We decide to walk over. Too bad we can’t just walk across the savannah, it’s much shorter!

We check in at Sanaa and are given a pager. They work outside, so we headed out to the kopje to find the night vision goggles. We can see our room from here!

I believe it’s the 2nd one down on the right (way to leave the lights on!)

A shot into the restaurant:

After a few minutes, our pager goes off and it’s dinnertime!

I absolutely love the décor here, especially these lights!

We have been pouring over menus and reviews of Disney restaurants for months now, hunting for any news on gluten free eating. At Sanna, they replace the naan with papadum if you order the bread service to make it gluten free (so we didn’t have a “choice” of breads).

Indian Bread Service: Choice of 3 breads and 3 accompaniments (get all 9 accompaniments for $11.99)
Breads – Naan, Garlic Ginger Naan, Spiced Naan, Onion Kulcha, Papadum
Accompaniments – Red Chile Sambal, Cucumber Raita, Coriander Chutney, Mango Chutney, Coconut Chutney, Garlic Pickle, Spicy Jalapeno-lime pickle, Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus, Tamarind Chutney

This was amazing!!! Our favorites were the Cucumber Raita, Garlic Pickle, Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus, and Tamarind Chutney.

I ordered the Tandoori Chicken – with seasonal slaw and coriander khichdi $19.99

It wasn’t bad, but I prefer other things on the menu.

Ethan ordered from the Choice of Two served with Basmati Rice or Five-grain pilaf: Butter Chicken; Spicy Durban Chicken or Shrimp; Beef Short Ribs; Sustainable Fish with Goan Curry $22.99

Looks like butter chicken and beef short ribs to me.

Dinner was fantastic – we really enjoyed Sanna!

After dinner, we went back out on the kopje for a bit. I’m super excited to spot an Ankole Cattle – my favorite cattle!

We walk back to Jambo and crash – it’s been a LONG DAY!

Jaime & Ethan’s Pinky Swear Trip – February, 2014 – Day 1: Part 2 “An Afternoon at Animal Kingdom”

This may be the nicest sight in the world…

Followed, this trip anyway, by this:

We checked in at Jambo House and got our Honeymoon buttons (Honeymoon #3!) before heading over to the actual Animal Kingdom.

We stop at Guest Services to activate our Annual Pass vouchers and purchase a Tables in Wonderland Card. The Tables in Wonderland (TIW) cost me $100, but it provides a discount at a lot of the table service restaurants on Disney property. You need an Annual Pass or to be a Florida resident in order to purchase one. (At 20%, you need to spend $500 for it to pay for itself. It’s good for 1 year. I think we’ll make it.)

We’re having lunch at Flame Tree Bar-B-Q today and we’re starving (it’s now almost 3pm!) Ethan, as always, orders the turkey on gluten free bread. I order the kids’ chicken drumstick meal (which used to have 2 chicken legs!)

Flame Tree meal

It was very good, but I missed the beans and cole slaw from last time, so I think I’ll stick with the adult chicken entrée from now on.

One of today’s goals is to show Ethan Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Yes, I realize we’re grown adults going to a petting zoo, but Ethan is new here and I want him to experience everything! As we walk towards Africa and the train back to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, we pass Baloo and King Louie hanging out and high-five as we go by. (I only mention this because Ethan keeps a running list in his phone of our every move on vacation – scoff away, but wow, it’s really coming in handy right now!)

We take the train ride and wander the path to the building. I can’t believe how far you have to walk once you’re off the train! It felt like we were walking back to where the train picked us up! We finally make it and head through the building portion of this area – looking at the Hidden Mickeys and other exhibits (most of which are creepy crawly things). We get in line for our picture with Rafiki.


We next go outside to the petting zoo type area.

We walk around, looking at the various animals. There are 3 pigs hanging out together when a trainer takes one of the pigs backstage. The remaining 2 pigs are bereft. They are squealing at the gate like they will never see their friend again!

He eventually is returned to them and all is well, but they reminded me of my dogs: put one in the yard for 5 minutes and there’s this huge reuniting scene they need to play out when you let it back in the house.

There’s a bunch of goats hanging out under a large tent structure (it had been raining off and on all day). Basically you’ll see sheep, cows, pigs, and goats out here.

We walk back to the train and head back to Africa. We get in the stand by line for the safari. We take all the normal pictures you take on the safari, nothing spectacular, until we get to the lions. They are out and gorgeous today!

Time for a Mickey bar!

Mickey Bar at Animal Kingdom

We get in line to meet Baloo and King Louie now (SIDE NOTE: we watched The Jungle Book before this trip and I found myself tearing up talking to Baloo and telling him I watched his story and when he got knocked out and they thought he was dead I was very upset… that bear had to think I was nuts…)

(ANOTHER SIDE NOTE: We still had our ice cream and had to hold each other’s Mickey bars in order to be allowed near the characters)

Our room is ready and we are ready to check it out, so we head back to the bus to return to Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Jaime & Ethan’s Pinky Swear Trip – February, 2014 – Day 1: Part 1 “Getting There”

FEB. 1, 2014 – SATURDAY

I’ve had a stomach ache for the last 2 days. I’m not sick. There’s a blizzard outside. Again.

We are flying to Florida during the worst winter Chicago (and the rest of you!) has seen in 30 years. It seems like every Sunday or Monday, we’ve gotten 6-8” of snow, on a regular basis since Thanksgiving. And it started snowing again Friday night. It snows all night. We head to the airport Saturday morning as the snow continues to fall. The flight before us and the 2 after us to Orlando have already been canceled. We check our bags and I ask about the possibility of actually flying out. I am told that we are an “originating” flight so there’s a really good chance we will. I don’t know what that means, but the vise grip on my stomach lets up the tiniest bit. (Basically, we piece together that our plane was already IN Chicago before the weather started turning planes away last night.)

I feel very bad for the people on the canceled flights and am still worried we might become one of them! My husband, on the other hand, is taking pictures of the airport’s new carpet sample. (COMING TO MIDWAY IN 2014!)

When the announcement is made over the loudspeaker that it’s time to line up to board, all the stress of the last few days pours out of me – from my eyes.

Yes, I burst into tears.

Yes, Ethan looked at me and said, “Really???”

We board the plane, armed with snacks, and leave the cold, white ground behind! (Spoiler: they will get another 8″ before we get home in 8 days!)

I suppose I should show you my nails for the week – glued these on at 4am… ended up setting off some security sensor at TSA and had to explain the glue residue all over me!

They just seemed very Magic Kingdom to me!

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN IN THEIR 40S: On Magical Express, Ethan is still in his winter coat; Jaime has stripped down to a tank top and her bangs are curling unflatteringly…

Please explain to me why, no matter what resort we stay at, we are always the 4th stop on Magical Express?

Jaime & Ethan’s Pinky Swear Trip – February, 2014, PRE-TRIP REPORT


We rode monorails back to our resort, and I had my head on his shoulder and my eyes closed. Ethan nudged me awake, and I opened my eyes to find his pinkie finger crooked in front of me. I hooked mine in his and he says “We will be back next Super Bowl Weekend. That is a promise.” My heart did that melty thing… it still does when I think of this.

And, even though we managed a bonus 5 day trip over Thanksgiving, THIS is that Pinky-Swear Trip. For the past year, Ethan got a crash course in PLANNING A DISNEY TRIP!

STEP 1: DATES. Decide when you want to go. We already knew we wanted to be there on Super Bowl Sunday. So the decision needed to be made whether we started the trip or ended the trip with that date. I ask if Super Bowl Sunday is going to be an annual thing or what. He says yes. So I suggest we start the trip on February 1st this year and end it on February 1st next year – thereby fitting both trips into one 365 day period – and getting Annual Passes to cover both trips (and any trips we can sneak in between! – I’ll save you the suspense – it was TWO)

STEP 2: ACCOMODATIONS We were using my DVC points for this trip. We’re spending 7 nights in a savannah room at Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House.

Everyone does this differently. Some people don’t Plan and just Wing It. That would give me hives. I start with getting the park hours and special event times for each of the parks for every day of our trip. By seeing how to maximize my time and touring, I start narrowing down where we are each day. There’s lots of discussion and research: things we both enjoy doing very much. We will continue to move things around (the last “save date” for the February 1st trip schedule was January 31st, actually!) We make a list of restaurants we want to try, rides we need Fast Passes for, extras we’d like to see or do, and other miscellaneous notes to refer to over the next few months. Sometimes the plan is posted on the wall with index cards and post-it notes.

I can admit I may actually take planning a little too far… so we’ll skip ahead to the actual trip in the next post!

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