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I originally wrote this trip review on the 1branson.com boards.
I hope no one minds, but I thought I would do a trip report of our recent vacation. I could do it on a Disney board, but I like to share here. My travel party included my husband, my six-year-old daughter, and me. We have an 18-year-old, but she has been to Disney twice and doesn’t enjoy traveling as much as we do. In fact, she was quite happy to watch our home this time and have the house to herself. She recently graduated from high school, so she was looking for some time to relax on her own before her life changes in many ways this fall.
We left Joplin at 4:00 am on Saturday, July 9, and began our drive. We packed sandwiches and snacks, so we only stopped for a short time for breaks and gasoline. We made it to Chattanooga pretty early, but it was nice to get checked in to the Country Inn and Suites and have dinner at Cracker Barrel before dark. We had a quick swim, and then we were ready for bed.
The next day we left around 8:00 am to get on the road again. We hit some traffic in Atlanta, but we eventually made it through. We had sandwiches again for lunch, and that afternoon we made it to the Florida state line, and it was HOT. The welcome center itself was closed because they had a broken air conditioner, so no free orange juice this time. I really don’t have any interesting pictures of this part of the trip.
We made it to our first hotel early in the evening–a Hampton Inn not too far from Disney. Our room was pretty nice and roomy. After checking in, we had to take a drive through the Disney area. My daughter wanted Cici’s Pizza for dinner, so we decided, why not? After dinner and the drive, we went back for a swim.
The next morning, we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel. They even had Mickey waffles. We checked out, loaded up the car, and headed over to Disney’s Pop Century Resort.
When we arrived at Pop Century, our room wasn’t ready yet. They said they would text us when the room was ready. We decided to swim for awhile. When I mentioned this at check-in, the lady gave me some towels for the pool. I didn’t think about there not being towels at the pool. Weird. We chose the 80s pool even though we didn’t know where our room would be.
After we were at the pool for about an hour and a half, we got the text that our room was ready. It was across the resort in the 60s section. It wasn’t easy to get our luggage to the room there. The 80s would have been much easier, but we didn’t know at the time. We eventually got everything to the room, and then we had lunch at Wendy’s. We came back to our room, and it was really hot out again. We had a rest in the room, and then I took a walk around the resort and over to Art of Animation. It was so hot. I kept ducking into air conditioned buildings to cool off for a moment. Still, Art of Animation is really cute. Soon it was time to go back to the room to get ready for dinner at T-Rex in Disney Springs.
We haven’t been to Disney Springs since it was called Disney Springs, so there were many changes. One of the best changes is the addition of parking garages. These are super awesome parking garages that have sensors to tell you how many spaces are available for each level, and then green lights that light up open spaces. So handy! Also, it’s free!
After we parked, we headed down the escalators to Disney Springs. We were an hour early for our reservation at T-Rex, but we are Landry’s Select Club members, so we showed our card to see if we could be seated earlier. No problem! Also, my husband had birthday rewards on the card, so we used those. This is one of our favorite reward programs.
This was the second time to eat here. The first time, we were in the ice cave that changed colors. This time, we were right outside of it. We had awesome service, and the food was good. My husband had a hamburger, and he said it was really good. I had a chicken caesar salad, and it was perfect for a hot day. My daughter had chicken nuggets and a slush in a souvenir dino cup. Since my husband had a birthday reward on our card, they brought him out a cupcake with a candle. So fun!
After dinner, we walked around a little, but a big thunderstorm with bad lightning rolled in. We don’t mind rain, even torrential rain, but the lightning scares me. We did some shops near T-Rex, but decided to leave. It was kind of a bummer, because the pools at the resort remained closed the rest of the evening, so we didn’t get to swim in the feature pool. But we did see some of the Star Wars fireworks from the walkway outside our room. We went to bed after that. The next day we were moving to our villa at the Beach Club!
We awoke the next morning, and we gathered our things up for our move to the Beach Club. We did call luggage services this time so we didn’t have to make 20 trips to the car. Soon, we were on our way!
I absolutely fell in love with the Beach Club. We visited the area on our last trip and walked the Boardwalk area, but we had never stayed here. When we arrived at check in, we discovered our room wasn’t ready, but it was morning and we didn’t expect it to be. We were ready to check out Stormalong Beach, the pool complex for the Beach Club and Yacht Club.
We had our swimming suits on under our clothes today because we were hoping to spend some time at Stormalong Bay. After our quick change, we got our wristbands and headed to the water.
My daughter’s favorite part was the sand bottom pool area. I have to admit, it was pretty relaxing to sit there with her. The sand is really soft. We also took a trip around the lazy river, and we swam in several different areas. One thing to note, the sidewalks were very hot. We didn’t take off our shoes until we were ready to get in the water.
After about two hours, we had the text that our room was ready. We gathered our things, and went to the room. We rented points for a studio. It overlooked the Villas’ quiet pool area. It was wonderful!
We were able to park relatively close to the room, so we unloaded our own luggage. We got settled and had some lunch in our room with some things we had brought. We then rested a little before our dinner at the Polynesian at ‘Ohana!
After a short rest, we dressed for dinner and headed to the Polynesian. Our daughter fell asleep again in the car on the way over, so she was a little groggy at first. Our reservation was for 5:15, and we were there a little before 5:00. We were given a pager. We walked around looking in some shops, and then we found a bench looking out at the resort and towards the castle. We didn’t wait too long, maybe 20 minutes total, before our table was ready.
We had never been here before, so we had fun taking in the whole experience. We were seated near the fire where they cook the meat. Our daughter got to participate in coconut rolling with the other kids. We then enjoyed our appetizers of bread, wings, noodles, and pot stickers that they bring to everyone. We also had some salad. The noodles and pot stickers were the best. It’s hard to pace yourself and not get full before they bring out the meat!
Soon the meat did come. We had steak, chicken, and shrimp. I liked the steak the most. They also brought out chicken nuggets and fries for our daughter.
After dinner, they bring you bread pudding and ice cream. It was so good, but my tummy was pretty full by then. We walked around the outside of the Polynesian resort for awhile, and then we rode the monorail around the Magic Kingdom resorts. After that, we headed back to the room. We had to get some sleep to wake up for extra magic hours at Epcot the next morning!
Here are some more pictures of the Beach Club.
We were finally ready for a park day, and since we could walk to Epcot from the Beach Club, that’s where we started. It also happened to be an extra magic hour that morning, so we had to get an early start. It was pretty easy, though, from our resort.
I made our tier one fast pass for the day at the new Frozen Ever After ride. That was for around 11:30. It was our hope to get to Soarin for our first stop and to avoid a long wait. I had a fast pass for Soarin later in the trip, so I wasn’t that worried, but I thought we could probably get that done. I later regretted not getting a Frozen fast pass for both days.
We lined up at the International Gateway for our resort Epcot entrance. We didn’t get in any earlier, although I had heard reports that it was possible. Once in, we made a beeline for Soarin. We didn’t run or anything. We got on the ride in about 10 minutes. It was our first time to see the new film, and we liked it. We then walked over to Test Track to see if my husband and I could take turns riding through the single rider line. Our daughter did not want anything to do with this ride. My husband and I had never ridden it before, so we wanted to try. We both were able to take turns walking straight on. It was okay, but I’m glad I didn’t wait in line to ride it.
It still wasn’t 9:00 yet when the general public would arrive, so we went back over to the other side of Future World. We did the Pixar Film Festival, which was cute, and we took a ride with Figment. Our daughter played in the area after the Figment ride for awhile. She wanted to buy a Figment toy, but we promised to come back later to buy one if she still wanted one.
We then had a fast pass for Spaceship Earth, so we did that and looked around after that ride. We decided to go ahead and do the Seas with Nemo. By the time we finished with that, it was time for our Frozen fast pass.
I loved the new Frozen ride! I know a lot of people are sad that it replaced Maelstrom, but I like Frozen better. But my family really enjoys Frozen. After that, we decided to try to meet Anna and Elsa. On our last trip, the waits were hours long, and we lucked out getting a fast pass. Now in their new Sommerhaus, they don’t offer fast pass. Luckily, the wait said 10 minutes, and that is about how long it took us.
After looking around in the shops, we decided we were ready for lunch. We went back to the room and ate the food we brought, and then we took a little rest. I decided to do some laundry. Normally, I would go to the place closest to us, but whole floors of the Beach Club villas were being refurbished, so our closest laundry facility was unavailable. We had to walk across the resort to the other quiet pool. Not a big deal, but it was really hot and I was pretty sweaty. Normally you can walk mostly indoors, but you couldn’t with the refurbishment. So, I decided what I needed was a Mickey ice cream bar. I walked over to the pool bar area, and I found one. It was perfect!
After we rested and cooled off, we were ready to go back into Epcot. We didn’t get park hoppers this time. We wanted to see if we could do without them. For the most part, it was fine. But I probably would’ve hopped one day because our Animal Kingdom night was rained out. More on that later.
We didn’t have a lot planned, we just wanted to walk around World Showcase and see Illuminations. Our daughter wanted to make another Duffy fan to have stamped in the countries, and I wanted to see The American Adventure since I missed it last time. We decided to start in America and have dinner at Liberty Inn. My husband and daughter really aren’t adventurous eaters. It’s really a miracle I got him to agree to Ohana, actually. So, I had some fried shrimp, and the other two had chicken nuggets. I know, I know. We’re in Epcot. But that’s what they wanted.
After dinner, we zipped over to the American Adventure. It was starting to sprinkle a little, so it was great timing. Then, DD started her Duffy bear in America.
We then went to Japan and walked around the store there. It’s probably our favorite. Our daughter spent some of her travel money on a Pokemon stuffed animal. We got Duffy stamped and moved on to Morocco.
After we looked around and got Duffy stamped there, it was getting close to Illuminations time. We found a place over by England and France. We had a nice view and an easy exit to our resort afterwards. On the way to our room, we took some pictures of the Boardwalk. It was a nice Epcot day.
The next day was our Hollywood Studios day. This park had extra magic hours in the evening. We got in right after rope drop. We had fast passes for a little later, so we decided to start with something we couldn’t get fast passes for first. Plus, our resort had downloaded two fastpasses each to our magic bands since our resort was in refurbishment. Awesome! We didn’t complain or anything; we just had a message on our phone telling us this.
We went straight to the Star Wars Launch Bay. We thought we could meet Chewbacca and Kylo Ren first thing. There was about a 10-minute wait for Chewbacca and even less for Kylo Ren. Chewbacca was fun, but my daughter wasn’t sure about Kylo Ren.
After the meets, we traded some fruit snacks to this Jawa. We got a droid part in return.
We finished up looking around the Launch Bay, and then it was time for our Tower of Terror fast passes. Our daughter didn’t want to ride, so my husband and I took turns. We then went to the Frozen sing-along.
Next, it was time for our Toy Story fast pass, so we did that. We then had fast passes for Star Tours, but I sent all the magic bands with my husband. My daughter didn’t want to ride, and I don’t like the ride enough to ride it by myself. I like Star Wars, but it can make me a little queasy. If everyone were going to ride, I would. But in this case, I told my husband to go. My daughter and I decided to meet some characters. We did some of the Disney Junior characters. Then we saw Donald and Daisy out by the Great Movie Ride, so we stopped there.
Then we searched out Olaf.
We didn’t have to wait very long for any of the characters, which was really nice. By that time, it was pretty hot. My husband finished riding Star Tours, so we decided to leave. I had some gift cards for Landry’s, so we decided to go have lunch at Disney Springs at Rainforest Cafe.
We got to Rainforest Cafe, and we showed our card, and we were seated within five minutes. We sat near the entrance where the aquariums are. My husband got the hamburger and fries again, but I got nachos this time. The food was great and the service was wonderful.
When we left Rainforest Cafe, it was even hotter than before. We looked in a couple of shops, but soon we were ready for a swim. After a swim and a rest, we ate a light dinner in our room and went back to Hollywood Studios.
We got back to the park, and we decided to use one of our fast passes for my husband and me to take turns on Rockin Rollercoaster. When we got over there, it started to rain. My husband went in first, and my daughter and I waited in the gift shop. Soon it was time to trade. I forgot how much that ride can knock you around. It might be good just for every four years for me!
It was still sprinkling when we were finished, but it seemed much cooler. It was soon time to check into our Star Wars dessert party. It was our first dessert party, so we weren’t sure what to expect. But it turned out to be pretty awesome. It was all you can eat desserts, snacks, pop, and cocktails. Good times! We were also guarded by stormtroopers.
We ate and drank our fill, and then went back outside for a few moments. We had a wristband that allowed you to come and go. About 15 minutes before the Star Wars fireworks and projection show, we were led to a special viewing area by the stormtroopers. This was one of the main reasons we did this party. We didn’t have to wait around in the crowd. We had a laid back place to view the show in a prime location. It was a little delayed due to rain, but it wasn’t long before we watched probably the best fireworks show we’ve seen at Disney, or anywhere.
They also gave us bottled water and a Chewbacca stein.
After the show, we waited for the crowds to disperse. We had entertained the idea of catching the Fantasmic show next with our last fast pass, but after the great show we saw, we didn’t really feel like heading into another crowd of people to see it. We walked around soaking up the atmosphere since we had two extra magic hours. We took turns on another round of Tower of Terror, one of my favorite rides. We shopped a little, and then headed back to the room. It was our last night at the Beach Club.
The next morning, it was time for us to check out of the Beach Club and head over to our next resort–Bay Lake Tower! We slept in a little, gathered up everything, and packed the car.
We arrived in the morning, so we knew it was probable that our room wouldn’t be ready. But when we went to the front desk, the man checking us in said that it was ready! Even he was surprised. We did use bell services this time to get our luggage to the room. We had booked a standard view studio, so we could only possibly be as high as the fifth floor. Our room was on the third floor. Sounds great! Let’s go!
But our room was better than great. We had a view straight on of Space Mountain. We could just see the tip of the castle. To our right, we had a view of Bay Lake.
I was pretty excited to have this view. I am now spoiled for all trips. Bay Lake Tower is my favorite resort now.
We didn’t have any park plans at this point in the day, so after we settled in our room and gazed at Space Mountain a lot, we went for a swim.
The pool is nice here, but it’s not like some of the feature pools at Disney. The one thing I really wish it had was some sort of shade. There wasn’t much shade during this time of day. The water is pretty warm this time of year, so it’s not always refreshing to swim. But it’s a lot of fun!
After a swim, we cleaned up and had some lunch at the resort’s quick service–Contempo Cafe. I know my daughter and I each had the kids’ flatbread pizza, and we both shared a cupcake. She chose a chocolate cupcake with gummy worms. I had my eye on a Frozen-themed cupcake, but I went with whatever she wanted. It had a caramel filling in it, too. Yum!
We went back to the room to cool off and rest a little before dinner. I love our little rests where we can close the curtains and make the room cold and dark. Soon, it was time to go to our dinner at Chef Mickey’s.
It was pretty awesome to take the sky bridge over to the Contemporary whenever we needed to go there. We left for dinner a little early so we could visit the shops in the resort first.
Then we made our way over to Chef Mickey’s.
We had a 5:05 reservation, so we were in the first seating. It wasn’t long before our server led us to our table. We were over to the far right by the start of one of the buffet lines. Our server told us it would be a few minutes before a character would make it our directions, so we headed over to the food.
I really liked the Parmesan mashed potatoes here. I had some carved beef and some kind of pasta salad. I also tried some macaroni and cheese with lobster. Not bad. I’m not sure what all the others had, but I know my daughter had a slice of ham and some chicken.
Soon the characters found us.
We got to meet Pluto, Donald, Minnie, Goofy, and Mickey. It takes a while for Mickey to get through. Everyone wants multiple pictures with him, and he has his own handler who will take pictures with your camera for you.
We had dessert as we waited for Mickey. I know Oreos with mouse ears were involved in dessert. Also ice cream and Reese’s Pieces.
With our tummies full, it was time to head over to Animal Kingdom!
We decided to do an evening at Animal Kingdom since they had their new night hours. On our last trip, we never made it to Animal Kingdom because we decided to take a rest day instead of going, and the park used to close early in the evening. We’d only been to Animal Kingdom one other time, so we were excited.
We had a fast pass for Kilimanjaro Safari first thing. I wanted to be sure we could ride it before it was dark, even though they have the new sunset safari. I’ve heard that the sunset safari is still pretty dark even though it’s lit up. Maybe we’ll try it sometime.
We headed to the safari, but we were concerned about a storm that was rolling in. We didn’t know how much time we would have. I know storms move in and out in Florida pretty regularly in the summer. My husband’s radar app said the storm was on its way.
We got on the safari quickly and didn’t have any rain during the ride.
After the safari, it started to lightning. We had fast passes for Expedition Everest, but the ride shut down due to lightning. When lightning comes to Animal Kingdom, your options become diminished quickly. After walking around a while, we decided to try to see the 3D film It’s Tough to be a Bug. We got in, but it started to sprinkle as we walked into the queue. The show was cute, but some parts made DD a little nervous. After the movie let out, it was pouring. People were trying to take cover in the exit, and it became crowded. We put on our ponchos and headed out. The ponchos weren’t really helping much. After a restroom break, we decided we probably should leave. We didn’t know how likely things would open back up that night.
We were completely soaked by the time we reached the car. We drove back to our resort. After getting dry and ready for bed, we realized that it was almost time for Wishes to start at the Magic Kingdom. We turned on our TV so we could hear the music, and we sat on the balcony to watch the fireworks. I never dreamed we would have this view and that this would be possible. It was pretty magical!
The next morning, we were up early. Magic Kingdom opened at 8:00 am. We were ready! It was also my birthday. I couldn’t think of a better place to celebrate!
We walked over to the Magic Kingdom. This is another reason I love this resort! We got through the turnstiles and bag check just in time to see the end of the opening show. Soon, we were walking down Main Street! There are few things better than walking towards Cinderella’s Castle.
We went straight to Fantasyland to ride Peter Pan before the line was crazy. Here are a couple of pictures of the new queue for the ride. You get to walk through the Darling home and the children’s nursery. Tinkerbell flies around and there are some fun effects.
We did It’s a Small World next. Soon it was time for our Haunted Mansion fast pass. We got right on. We looked in the new (to us) Haunted Mansion gift shop. It wasn’t there last time we were there. We strolled over to Frontierland and looked around until it was time for our Splash Mountain fast pass. This is one of my favorites, and my daughter really likes the characters.
I was able to then move up our fast pass for Pirates of the Caribbean. We headed that way, and a pirate tutorial was in progress.
Soon, it was time to ride. This is one of my husband’s favorites. We then made our way over to Tomorrowland. We decided we were hungry, so we grabbed lunch at Cosmic Ray’s. We’d never eaten there. I had rotisserie chicken which was really good. After lunch, it was getting pretty warm. We went back to the room for awhile. We had to rest up for our dinner in Cinderella’s castle later!
After a rest in the room, it was time to get ready for dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table. My daughter had done Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Downtown Disney on our last trip. We did the Cinderella dinner at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian afterwards. This year, she really wasn’t interested in doing it again. She did want to wear her Elsa dress from last trip and do her hair. At BBB, they give you the leftover make-up and nail polish, and she had a hair piece with her style, so I brought all of that with us and used it again. I didn’t do it as tight at the fairy godmothers do, so it didn’t stay for long, but we gave it a shot.
We took a couple of pictures before our dinner reservation.
Soon, it was time. They would not let us check in until five minutes before the reservation, but that was okay. We just didn’t want to be late. When they call your name, you get to meet Cinderella before going up to dinner.
Then, you go upstairs to meet your server and be seated.
First, they bring out a plate of cheese, bread, and cold meats. They brought my daughter cheese and grapes. For dinner, I ordered the grilled beef tenderloin and shrimp. It was served with mashed potatoes and carrots in a wine reduction. Very good! Here is a picture.
My husband asked for just a plain beef tenderloin with mashed potatoes and corn. They said it was not a problem at all, and the mashed potatoes and corn are offered on the children’s menu. My daughter had chicken with mashed potatoes and corn.
For dessert, my daughter had a smores dessert. My husband and I each got a different dessert so we could share both. I had the clock strikes midnight cake, and he had the cheesecake with strawberry sauce. Both were really delicious!
We also met Snow White, Jasmine, Ariel, and Sleeping Beauty. After dinner, we had fast passes for Tiana and Rapunzel, so DD left her dress on to meet them.
After meeting those two, we went to the Rapunzel bathrooms to change out of the Elsa dress.
We rode some more rides including the Peoplemover. We then saw the Incredibles dance party getting underway, so we had to go check it out.
After hanging around here for awhile, we decided to head back to the room. We had seen some of Wishes, and people were getting ready to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade. We thought about riding the monorail to the room, but it was really crowded in that direction, so we just walked back to Bay Lake Tower.
Our next day was another great day at Magic Kingdom. This time, we went straight to Adventureland. We got another ride on Pirates, and then we did the Jungle Cruise and the Tiki Room. We did story time with Belle, which is always cute. We then took our daughter over to Dumbo. While we were over there, my husband and I took turns riding Space Mountain since DD didn’t want to ride. With fast passes, we got right on. After that, we had fast passes for Monsters Laugh Floor. We then did some looking in the shops on Main Street. Soon, we were ready for lunch, so we took the monorail back to the room.
After a swim, we got ready to go back to the Magic Kingdom. We had dinner reservations at Liberty Tree Inn. This was our only reservation that ran behind. Still, we were waiting in air conditioning, so it wasn’t that bad. Our daughter colored a colonial picture of Minnie Mouse while we waited. She also did a photo shoot near the fireplace.
The food was all you can eat Thanksgiving. It was very good. It did take awhile, though. Towards the end of the meal, we were getting antsy and ready to go. We were also so full that we skipped dessert. Crazy, I know. It was our last Magic Kingdom night, and we had things to do!
Mostly we rode a lot of our favorite rides again. I know we rode It’s a Small World and Haunted Mansion again. It was very busy this night. Soon, we staked out a spot in Liberty Square to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade. We able to sit on the rock wall and see perfectly. Now it’s been announced that this parade is leaving WDW. That may have been my last time to see it.
After the parade, we rode a few more rides including Aladdin’s Magic Carpets. At closing time, we sat in Frontierland for awhile and let the crowds leave. When we finally did leave, the exit was still pretty crowded. We decided to walk back to the room again. Did I mention I love staying at Bay Lake Tower?
Finally, it was our last Disney day. We had decided to spend it at Epcot. This is the time that I wish I had kept that second Frozen fast pass, because those were long gone. Oh well. We also decided to sleep in, so I rearranged the fast passes we had to the evening. Only tier one fast passes really matter anyway. The others usually don’t have a very long line.
After we woke up, we went for a swim until we were ready for lunch. My husband and daughter went back to eat in the room, but I went to the quick service and got a kids’ flatbread pizza again. I got it to go and took it to the room. Along with this–
I had been thinking about that Frozen cupcake.
After lunch, we were ready to go to Epcot. We took the monorail to the Ticket and Transportation Center and hopped on the Epcot monorail. We thought we would try to meet Mulan first thing before she stopped meeting for the day. When we first got to the Chinese pavilion, they were just cutting off her line inside the temple building. They said she would come back out in 20 minutes, and we could get in line then. Soon, Mulan went inside for her break. So, we decided to wait on the benches where people wait for the film. Other people were waiting for the film. The time for the film came, and people went to go view it leaving us there alone. A cast member came up to us and asked if we were waiting for Mulan. We said we were, and we were told Mulan’s next meet would be outside at the red bridge.
No one had mentioned this detail to us! By the time we got to the bridge, a long line had formed out into the path. Mulan and her handler had not come out yet, but I thought there was no way we would make this set either. I was about to give up, but the handler came out and rerouted the line. It was cut off right behind us. We were lucky to get in, but we still had quite a wait for our turn.
At times it started to sprinkle, so we asked the handler how hard could it rain before Mulan had to go in. She said if it rained any harder that the meet would have to be canceled. Oh no! We continued waiting in line. Then, we noticed as we rounded a curve that there were three people ahead of us that had not been there moments before. Normally, we wouldn’t care that much about line cutters, but we were at the end of the line waiting for a second time and hoping it wasn’t rained out before our turn. So, we said something to the handler. The people started to deny it, but my husband called them out on it. Then they said they didn’t want any trouble and they left. This incident is after my husband watched a man take his two kids through the exit of the carousel in Magic Kingdom and put his kids on the horses without the cast members seeing. I guess he’d had enough.
We continued waiting, and the sun came back out. Finally, it was our turn!
We went back to Future World for awhile and used our fast passes after that. We also rode Figment again, one of my daughter’s favorites. She still had some trip money left, so she bought the stuffed Figment she wanted. We decided to eat an early dinner at the Electric Umbrella where my family had chicken nuggets and fries, as usual. We decided to spend the rest of the evening in World Showcase.
We spent more time in Germany than we ever had. We also took a boat ride in Mexico, and we went shopping again in Japan. We bought two t-shirts for our older daughter and two small lucky waving cats like Asian restaurants often have. All too soon, the sun was going down. Instead of watching Illuminations again, we thought we might leave before it starts to get to the monorail without the crowds. We slowly made our way to the front.
When we got back to the resort, we stayed on the outside patio by the skybridge for awhile, just soaking up our last evening. Finally, we went to our room to get some sleep
The next morning we packed up everything and checked out. It’s always sad to leave, but we still had some more adventure ahead of us. Today, we were heading to St. Augustine for some beach time.
This was our third time to St. Augustine, so our only plans were to go to the beach. We’ve been to the fort, and we’ve taken a ghost tour. We’ve been to the pirate museum and checked out the old town. So, this time we didn’t feel the need to do too much of that stuff. We checked into our favorite hotel there, a Hampton Inn steps away from the ocean at Vilano Beach. There is also a little town center and a Publix right there. We love it!
Our room was ready, so we took in our bags and grabbed our suits. We walked over to the beach on a beautiful day, the best day we’ve had in St. Augustine. Usually, our visits include a lot of lightning.
We spent a couple of hours going into the water and taking breaks on the sand. We found a lot of shells. The water was pretty rough; it was a yellow flag day. I did feel like there was a point that felt too far out, so I didn’t go that far again. It is a little scary. Even on a yellow flag, there was a point I felt like it was sweeping me out farther, and my first instinct was to swim straight to the beach. I did think about riptides and how you should swim parallel to the beach. I know it wasn’t a riptide, but I could see how dangerous that could be for an inexperienced ocean swimmer like me.
When we were ready for a break, we headed back to the room. It took us a little while to get all the sand cleaned up. We all took a little nap, and then we headed into town and had dinner at Chili’s. When we got back, it was still light. We decided to walk down to the beach again. The water was even rougher, and the tide was almost up to the dune. There were several local surfers out. We just walked along in ankle deep water and enjoyed the evening.
We then took a little drive into old town where the fort is and drove past all the little bars with live music. We just drove around a little to see people having a good time. While we were driving, it got darker and the full moon came out. When we got back to the hotel, we walked over to the beach one more time to see the moon over the water.
It was a nice evening for sure.
The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel before packing up and leaving. We had one more destination before making the drive home. And we’d never been there before–Savannah, GA. I was really looking forward to it. I had read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil before, and I own the movie. I had always wanted to visit.
We arrived in time for lunch, and we planned to eat at the Pirates’ House. There are stories about pirates sleeping there in the tavern, and some people were kidnapped, taken through underground tunnels, and put on a ship sailing out to sea. When they awoke it was too late, or so the stories go. Also, it’s supposed to be haunted. Robert Louis Stevenson of Treasure Island fame was supposedly inspired by the pirate stories here. We were told that there were no famous pirates here, though. Good to know.
The building is supposed to be the oldest in Savannah. There are several rooms you can dine in. We waited about 15 minutes to be seated. We spent that time in the gift shop. When we were seated, they gave my daughter a kids’ menu with pirate accessories that can be punched out. My husband tried it out.
The food was pretty good. I had hand-dipped shrimp. I couldn’t eat all of it. The others had chicken. Of course.
We then drove out to Bonaventure Cemetery. It has many beautiful headstones and statues, and the oak trees are covered in Spanish moss. It is really peaceful, too.
We then came back to the historic district and saw some of the squares and Forsyth Park with its famous fountain.
After some exploring, it was getting hot. We decided to check into our motel. We decided to save a little money and not stay right on the river. Instead, we stayed at a little retro-looking place on the edge of the historic district called the Thunderbird Inn. Here are a couple of pictures I took.
They have two RC colas and two Moon Pies waiting for you in your room when you check in. Also, breakfast is Krispy Kreme donuts. It’s interesting!
After we settled in, we went to have a quick dinner before our ghost trolley tour. I had made a mistake in waiting too long to book this, and when I did, the latest I could get was 7:00 pm. So our ghost tour was at dusk instead of at night. It was still fun. We’ve started enjoying these as a way to tour the city at a cooler temp. The stories are fun, too.
That’s our trolley. The tour started on River Street, so we got to see the bars and shops before our tour.
Our tour included a stop at the Andrew Low house. His daughter-in-law founded the Girl Scouts. We got to go inside the home. It was beautiful.
We drove through the squares a little. We drove past the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
The tour ends in a building on River Street where a storyteller performs a story in an old cotton warehouse. It has some fun special effects.
After our tour, we strolled along a little more.
On our way home to the motel, we looked up the Williams Mercer home. This house plays a role in Midnight, so I had to snap a picture.
We got a pretty nice glimpse of Savannah. Maybe someday we’ll go back. It was a lovely place. I think it would be fun for a weekend.
The next morning, my husband had a crazy idea. He thought we should drive straight through home to Joplin. I said I didn’t care if he wanted to. We’ve already seen many sights along this drive on our various trips. I think the thought of taking luggage into one more hotel was too much for him. Anyway, we got on the road and drove and drove…
We did try Zaxby’s for lunch for the first time. Not bad. And dinner was at a Taco John’s, my second visit to one of those. Also, not bad.
Thank you for indulging me while I wrote this out. I like to remember these trips, and I love to read other people’s trip reports when I am planning a trip. So now, only about ten months until my family’s next big vacation. I’m ready!