Category: Ramblings

A Weekend of Goodbyes

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In order to prepare for the future of Disney Parks, the weekend of April 2, 2016 was chalk full of closures of some popular (or not-so-popular, depending who you consult) attractions. I had so wished to be there in person for the finale shows, but between fighting a cold and the consistent rain on Saturday, it just wasn’t in the stars for me this time. Since I wasn’t able to be there in person, I decided to look back and reminisce on what just closed and what is ahead. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

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Over at Magic Kingdom, the popular castle stage show, “Dream Along with Mickey” had its final performance after nearly a 10 year run. The show is being replaced with “Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire” which will feature Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy and some of the newer Disney friends from Tangled, The Princess and the Frog and of course, Frozen. Really not hating, I just wish Cinderella had something to do with her own castle again as it seems she is always getting the boot to Frozen lately. I mean, I know that Frozen doesn’t have an attraction of its own or anything coming…oh wait.

Enough of the snark, back on the topic of Dream Along with Mickey, I will admit, I only saw the show a handful of times as when I was vacationing at WDW, and I never really stopped to take it in with so many other attractions to get to, plus I will admit, I thought it was dare I say, childish to “Dream Along with Mickey.” BUT after  setting aside time to actually watch it, I now kind of regret not seeing it more because it really was a well executed show. I think what I learned to love most about it was that is was classic Disney. Mickey and the gang were in their classic outfits and original squad of princess royalty (Cinderella, Snow White and Aurora) and their main squeezes were there too. Not to mention, Peter Pan and some classic villainous friends joined in the fun. The message of Dreams Come True and taking a dream with you wherever you go also hits home. I hope the new show has just a catchy of a tune and a heartwarming message as well. You will be missed Dream Along with Mickey, I am sorry for taking you for granted!

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While Mickey led the chant of ‘Dreams Come True!’ one last time, over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, an entire portion of the park was closed down and walled up to make way for the new Toy Story and Star Wars themed lands. The 11 year run of Lights, Motors, Action stunt show came to an end as were the nearby Streets of America. The Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area was also closed down as was the quick service location, Studio Catering Co. The Mike and Sulley meet and greet was also shut down, I am sad I never too the opportunity to meet them! Hoping they show up somewhere else, perhaps the Magic Kingdom near the Laugh Floor.

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Not taking into account the Osborne Lights, out of everything that closed this weekend at DHS, I will most miss Lights, Motors, Action. It was always exciting and amazing to see the stunt drivers perform, but there is a lot of space back there that will need to be utilized, but I will miss walking through the Streets of America and hearing the cars zip by. And while the show was hard to catch with only 2-3 performances per day and with it being all the way in the back of the park, I will miss seeing the good ol’ fashion stunts and pyrotechnic finale, but I guess I can get my stunt fill at yet another performance of Indiana Jones Epic Stunt spectacular to fill the void.

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The Streets of America, while a fun concept for the 90’s, was now just a large area of very empty real estate, aside from Christmastime when the Osborne Lights were dazzling and dancing, there was really nothing going on there anymore, especially after the popular band Mulch, Sweat ‘n Shears ended their run. Lately, it seemed besides the holiday season, the only time I really stepped foot in the Streets of America was to get from Muppets Vision to Toy Story Mania or to catch a rare performance of Lights, Motors Action.

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Now The Osborne Lights were like nothing I had every experienced before. It was truly Christmas magic and I could sit on the curb of the Streets for an eternity taking it all in. However, I think I mourned the fact the Lights were not returning this holiday season when they shut them off for good so the fact that Streets are now officially gone doesn’t sadden me that much. I guess what I am trying to say in this rambling is that I will miss the Osborne Lights immensely, but not the “Streets” if that makes any sense whatsoever.

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And so, the period of rebranding Hollywood Studios is among us. I am looking forward to see what is to come and while it will be years before any guests can step foot in these new lands, it nice to see that one of my favorite parks is getting the refresh it deserves.

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Our Disney Year in Review – ABC Style

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It is always fun to look back at the end of a year to see all what you accomplished & experienced. This year was definitely a whirlwind for us with our relocation and with Disney being such a huge part of our lives, I decided to take a look back at our Disney year in review in ABC form (must be the former teacher in me). It is always fun to look back at all the pictures and memories! I cannot wait to see what 2016 will bring. Enjoy!

A – Aqua Duck 

With two cruises under our belts this year, we definitely enjoyed riding this fun water slide on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy!

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B – Be Our Guest  

We had experienced dinner at Be Our Guest multiple times, but this was our first time experiencing the breakfast and lunch options and they did not disappoint!

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C – Cast Member

This is easy! Hubby landed his dream job and became a Cast Member in Florida, proving that dreams do come true!

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D – Duffy

We said goodbye to Mickey’s favorite bear on his last day at Epcot, but purchased a ShellieMay to help get us through this difficult time.

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E – EO

Another goodbye was said to Captain EO at Epcot in early December. We saw it in its last week and still believe the 80’s were a strange, strange time.

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F – Force

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens being pretty much the biggest movie of all time, we definitely had Force Fever in our household. We visited the new Star Wars Launch Bay, saw the movie at Disney Springs, fell in love with BB-8 and plan to see it again on the first day of 2016!

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 G – Gaston

For the first time, we met everyone’s favorite guy at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, needless to say, he liked our costumes, but didn’t understand why Justin let me walk around and read books. Such awesome character interaction!

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H – Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue

2015 marked the first time we witness this classic Disney dinner show at Fort Wilderness. Good food & even greater fun!

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I – Islands

Going on two cruises, we got to enjoy our fair share of islands this year. We visited:

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  • Castaway Cay (Disney’s Private Island and our favorite of them all!!!!!!)DSC_4894

J – Jafar 

We had another first time visit with Jafar at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. He is definitely not as lively as Gaston!

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K – Key

Our funny/not so funny story of 2015: The day we moved down here, our corporate apartment forgot to leave us our key in the lock-box as we were told. We arrived at 3 AM after 25 hours of driving straight to Florida and obviously the apartment office was closed. We called the 24 hour support line for the corporate housing company who basically told us to check into a hotel for the night and we would be reimbursed for the hassle. We checked into the nearest hotel we knew of:

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Funny thing was, our room key didn’t work at the Contemporary either and we had to wait an additional 45 minutes before being let into our room by housekeeping. Overall, a very bad day for keys which we can laugh about now!

L – Lilo & Stitch

Met these two for the first time at the DVC Merry Mixer in December. It was my first time visiting the parks solo!

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M – Move

We moved to Disney in 2015!

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N – Nighttime at Animal Kingdom

We finally got to catch a glimpse of how amazing Animal Kingdom will be once a full day park as we were able to visit after dark! The park has such a different feel at night, definitely put it on your must do list for 2016!

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O – Osborne Lights

With this being the final year of seeing these spectacular lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios,  I am happy we got to experience them one last time. Here is to hoping that they return somewhere else on property next holiday season. I will miss you, Osborne Lights!!!

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P –  Polynesian Village Resort

This is where Disney placed us when we came down in September for our house hunting trip! It was the next resort on our list to stay at and we didn’t even request it. Magic!

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Q – Quick

The whole move happened so quickly that sometimes I wake up and still cannot believe we are living down here and sitting in the hub grass! The entire year also seems like it flew by as well!

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R – Resort Hopping

Living locally now, we can really enjoy the resorts. We love just visiting and grabbing a bite to eat or taking pictures. The holidays are always a special time to visit the resorts to see all their decorations! Hoping the pay to park at the resort test that they are doing right now does not happen!

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S – Sunrise

We got to witness the most beautiful sunrise while aboard the Disney Fantasy in October. It was a pure accident too as Justin’s phone did not update and said it was 10:00 AM all the while it was really 5:00 AM. These are #insidestateroomproblems.

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T – The Magical Escape

This was the year this little blog was launched! I am glad to still be posting a year later and hope to do more blogging in 2016 than I did in 2015! Being local should help with that!

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U – United Airlines

Believe it or not, this year marked the first time my husband and I ever flew together, and of course it was to Disney. Since our house hunting trip was only a few days and we were in the middle of moving, it just made more sense to fly! It was my first flight since 2000 and his first that he can remember!

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V – Visitors

We now look forward to seeing our family and friends when they come to visit. We have already had both sides of the family come down for short visits and we have more to look forward to more in the summer! It is fun to share our Disney love with those we love!

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W – Wish

It is a tradition of ours to make a wish at Cinderella fountain behind the castle. Since we moved down, the fountain and surrounding shops have been under refurbishment and behind scrims. Recently, they took the scrims down and the fountain is back, but I won’t be able to get to Magic Kingdom until 2016! I guess they figure we didn’t need to make anymore wishes since we finally moved down here.

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X – Xmas Tree

All of our belongings are still in storage, but I still wanted to get a Christmas tree. We got a very small tree and decorated it with Disney things we had lying around like our Tsum-Tsums, Justin’s extra CM nametag and an ornament we got engraved for the year (which is another Disney tradition).

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Y – Yummy

Between the two Disney cruises, our May and September Disney vacations and now living here, we have got to experience a lot of yummy food! Some of the new places we tried this year included: Coral Reef, T-Rex Cafe, Cape May dinner, The Boathouse, and so much more! Plus we got to experience the Food & Wine Festival multiple times which was amazing!

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Z – Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay

The lyrics to this song pretty much sum up 2015 for me, minus the Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder:

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
Zip-A-Dee-Ay

My oh my, what a wonderful day
Plenty of sunshine heading my way
Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
Zip-A-Dee-A

Mister bluebird on my shoulder
It’s the truth
It’s actual
Everything is satisfactual

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
Zip-A-Dee-A
Wonderful feeling
Wonderful day

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Happy New Year everyone!!! Hoping 2016 proves to be as magical as 2015!

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Dreams Come True.

 

 

WishesIt has been a while since I last posted anything, but as you know life often times gets in the way, and well, I guess you could say that life definitely got in the way here because The Magical Escape is now blogging live from Central Florida!!

We have always talked about moving down here, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would happen before retirement! The stars aligned and my husband landed a job with none other than The Mouse himself, which is another dream come true in and of itself. In the span of two short months, we moved our entire lives down to the Sunshine State and we have been down here a little over two months now, it all still seems surreal!

To have Walt Disney World literally in your backyard is crazy and we have been quite busy since we got down here just trying to take it all in. It is amazing to be able to go Epcot for dinner or see your favorite Candlelight Processional narrator–Neil Patrick Harris, anyone? We often do date nights at Disney Springs, partake in the special holiday events like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or visit the resorts, just because. It is definitely a different way to do Disney and I think we can definitely get used to it!

We still have to do a little planning along the way since our Annual Passes expired, I am currently using my Maingate Spouse pass, which is subject to blockout dates, especially during the holidays, so it isn’t always as easy as just deciding on a whim that I want to go to Magic Kingdom on any given night as much as I would love to. Same for dining reservations, most of the popular restaurants still need to be made 180 days in advance. I have been itching to get to ‘Ohana for some bread pudding!

With that being said, I think we are settling in nicely here and just wanted to share some highlights from our last two months:

We said goodbye to Duffy on the day he jetted off back to Japan.
20151003_182256I celebrated my birthday at the Food & Wine Festival, YUM!20151016_182604We got to see Animal Kingdom all lit up and beautiful at night, which something we had never seen before and are so excited that shots like this will soon be the norm!DSC_5624Belle and Gaston had fun at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! DSC_5913 DSC_5667We journeyed into the high seas on the Disney Fantasy visiting St. Marten, St. Thomas and Castaway Cay! Belle & Gaston came along too since it was was special Halloween on the High Seas sailing! 2015-10-27-13h31m332015-10-26-18h57m59 2015-10-28-10h20m35 2015-10-30-09h04m48We witnessed the amazing Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights for their final run at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We will be back there again before they shut them off for good. :tears:DSC_6632 DSC_6622We were Merry & Bright despite the rain at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party20151119_233515 PhotoPass_Visiting_Mickeys_Very_Merry_Christmas_Party_7536957415We said goodbye to Captain EO which caused us to be late to get in line for the Candlelight Processional…but hey, we changed the world…DSC_6679So went back the next evening and saw Neil Patrick Harris, albeit from pretty far away, but it was still wonderful!DSC_6754There is still so much we want to do this holiday season! I must see the Osborne Lights again, visit Holidays Around the World at Epcot and catch the special holiday ending of Illuminations, plus I want to check out the trees and gingerbread displays at the various resorts. We also have not made it over to see the new Star Wars Launch Bay! There is still so much to see and do, but the best part about it is, we now get to experience it all!

I will leave you with this lovely little Someecard that I pinned a while back because it is just too perfect to not include in this post:6a3b37e53350bd478845c364239fa0dd

 

 

 

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Progress City…Get Excited

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What an amazing time to be a fan of the Disney Parks!! The internet has been a buzz all week with all the new  and exciting expansions coming to Walt Disney World in the next few years thanks to all the announcements made at the D23 Expo. I absolutely cannot wait to see all of the new attractions, restaurants and entertainment that is coming our way! Sorted by park below, you will find my two cents as always as well links to official Disney Parks Blog articles regarding all the new gizmos and gadgets a plenty!

Magic Kingdom:

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Jungle Navigation Co., Ldt. Skipper Canteen (Jungle Cruise Themed Restaurant) — YES YES YES!! I have been saying for a while that my beloved Magic Kingdom Park needed a new table service offering that was outside of the princess theme. Skipper Canteen sounds amazing and just what Adventureland needs! I cannot wait to see more details about the menu and decor. Jungle Cruise is such a fun ride, so to carry that theme to the restaurant setting sounds like such a fun meal! I am ready to make my ADR’s now!

Epcot:

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Soarin’ Around the World – While I love the original Soarin’ and soundtrack, a Soarin’ Around the World film makes so much more sense for Epcot, plus the film will now be digital and another theater is being built which should help with the wait times. I hope the soundtrack is just as good and I wouldn’t be the least bit sad if they kept the original music. If they also want to find a way to incorporate oranges, I would be all for it too!

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(Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog)

Frozen Ever After Attraction – I know lots of people are on the fence about this one because they removed the popular Maelstrom ride to build it, but the renderings of this attraction look beautiful & I cannot wait to get the Norway Pavilion back! Frozen fans will also get to meet Anna & Elsa in the new neighboring Royal Summerhus cabin. Be sure you FastPass+ this one once it opens because I cannot even fathom what the wait times will look like! More Frozen Ever After

Disney’s Hollywood Studios:

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(Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog)

Star Wars Land – This one was the BIG kahuna that everyone was waiting for. A whopping 14 acres of land has been put aside at both Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to make Star Wars Land a reality, making these expansions the largest in park expansion to date. I cannot think of a series that spans through so many generations and with the new movies coming out, Star Wars fever is going to get real. I cannot wait to see the attention to detail that they will put into this land! Universal Orlando can keep the Wizard Boy, we’ll take the Jedis.

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(Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog)

Star Wars Launch Bay, Star Tour Enhancement & Season of the Force – To hold everyone over while Star Wars Land is built, Disney will be offering some new Star Wars experiences. Star Wars Launch Bay, which will be located in the Animation Courtyard, will be home to interactive exhibits, character meet and greets and food/merchandise offerings centered around Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Star Tours will be adding new locations and characters from the upcoming movie. Lastly, Season of the Force, will be a new seasonal event coming in 2016 which sounds very similar to Star Wars Weekends with special entertainment, character greetings, etc. The headlining attraction sounds like it will include a new Star Wars themed fireworks show (no word yet on whether this is replacing Star Wars Weekends or not). The Star Wars hype is real, folks! I like that Star Wars is going to have an increased presence in the Disney Parks, especially for all those dads and kids who are such big fans!

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(Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog)

Toy Story Land – As if getting a Star Wars expansion wasn’t enough, Disney Hollywood Studios will soon also be home to a Toy Story Land! This land looks so colorful and straight out of the movie! In addition to another track being added to Toy Story Mania, a new family-friendly Slinky Dog coaster is being added as well as an Alien Saucer attraction. I love the queue of Toy Story Mania, so I cannot even imagine how detailed and amazing an entire land will be!

Animal Kingdom:

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(Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog)

Pandora – The World of AVATAR – While this expansion was announced some time ago, fans got some new sneak peeks at D23 for this upcoming mystical world. I cannot wait to see this movie come to life and see the bioluminescent plants and ride the banshee on AVATAR Flight of Passage.

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(Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog)

Rivers of Light + Kilmanjaro Safari Enhancement – The concept art revealed for Rivers of Light makes me so happy! If there is one thing I love most at Walt Disney World, it is their nighttime entertainment, so the fact that we are getting a new nighttime show and at Animal Kingdom, a park that many people (myself included) have never seen after dark, makes me giddy! Since the park will be open during later hours, Kilmanjaro Safari will be doing Sunset and Nighttime rides as well! I think Animal Kingdom is going to feel like a whole different park after dark! I cannot wait!

Phew!! All this, plus all the new restaurants and shops coming to the new Disney Springs is enough to make any Disney fan’s head spin!! You can bet we will bring you more details as they are revealed!

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#TripReportTuesday – Taking on the Springs & the High Seas – Let the Memories Begin!

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Day 1: Checking In to Spring Stay #1


When I left you last, we had just driven under the glorious Walt Disney World sign officially welcoming us to Disney property & like a “tale as old as time”, I just couldn’t contain myself!

I need to back up a little because I had forgot to mention that during our final routine gas stop while on the Florida Turnpike, I had received a text message and email from Disney letting us know that our resort room at Coronado Springs was ready & it was only 10:42 AM! This was awesome because check in was not until 3:00! The text message/email even told us what room we had and said that since we had MagicBands, we could go straight to our room without having to visit the front desk to check in. Remember that one of the functions of MagicBands is to act as your room key. This was the first time we got to use this new service of bypassing the front desk since it was just launched this year. In order to opt into using this service, you need to complete the Online Check In process on My Disney Experience and have an active MagicBand and obviously provide them your cell phone number. Online Check In can be completed 60 days in advance.

Knowing that our room was all set and waiting for us, we followed the magical purple street signs to Coronado Springs for our first ever stay at a Walt Disney World Moderate resort.

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^^Excuse the bad quality, I took the picture at the last minute before turning!^^

After minimal navigation, we checked in with the parking lot guard who scanned our MagicBand to ensure we were registered guests and not some crazy people and we were on our way to the Casitas area of the resort.

Coronado Springs is a large Spanish/Southwestern themed resort which also houses a convention center. The resort is basically one large loop which I imagine probably makes for a nice jogging trail. There are three sections your room can be located in: Casitas, Cabanas and Ranchos.  I was actually pleasantly surprised that we were put in Casitas because that area is usually reserved for conventioneers, but there must’ve not been any events during the two nights we were there or if there were, they were relatively small. The Casitas area is near El Centro, which is the main hub of the resort where you will find guest registration and concierge as well as the resort’s restaurants (Maya Grill and Pepper Market) and gift/convenience shop (Panchitos). Our location to El Centro was super convenient especially when we wanted to grab a quick bite to eat, which we would need to do soon since we had not had lunch yet.

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^^Deceiving Signage ^^

We arrived at the Casitas parking lot and hopped out of the car to locate our room. This is when I had wished we had visited the front desk because we could not find our room and the Cast Members always give such good detailed directions! Our location was Casitas 3 room 3324, which was located on the third floor. I must say, the signage for Casitas needs to be a little better! Each of the Casitas buildings has its own set of elevators and stairways, and it can get quite confusing  and we often found ourselves at a dead end even though we followed the sign! At one point we had thought we had made it to Casitas 3, but we were still in Casitas 1. Finally, after much exploring, we found the correct elevator bank. After lots of long winding hallways, we arrived at our room and prayed that our MagicBands would unlock the door so that this wasn’t all for nothing. Luckily for us, they worked!!!

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The room was nothing overly special, just your standard hotel room, but we found it clean and comfortable which is just what we expect. Now that we had a better idea of where our room was, we headed back to the car to grab the rest of our luggage and actually found a stairway which acted as a shortcut to our room, so the walk turned out to not be so bad in the end. Since we were only staying 2 nights, we did not need to unpack everything and didn’t need to use Bell Services.

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We took some pictures along the way which really capture the beauty of this resort. Around every corner there were fountains and lush greenery which made for a very picturesque landscape. You will also notice in most of the pictures, there are no people in sight! A lot of the popular Deluxe Resorts on property are always so busy because of the amenities and proximity to the parks, but we found Coronado to be a nice & quiet retreat. We hardly encountered anyone else in the hallways until we reached El Centro or The Dig Site (main pool). Looking back at these pictures, I really love the colors of this resort!

2015-05-08-12h58m11 ^^Our View!! So pretty!^^

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Once we finished unpacking, our stomachs gently reminded us that we had not had lunch yet. We knew we had dinner reservations at Le Cellier in a few hours which is located in Epcot, but there was no way we could hold out until then because Disney makes us hungry! We decided to hit up El Centro to check out their quick service restaurant: Pepper Market.

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Pepper Market has lots of different options from sandwiches/burgers to pasta to Mexican favorites such as quesadillas and nachos which is what we opted to share! As you can see, the Nacho plate was HUGE and it was delicious as were the quesadillas. There are so many options at Pepper Market to suit every taste and it is always nice to find a place with a good variety of options! Not all quick service locations are so lucky in that respect.

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After a very satisfying lunch we checked out the rest of El Centro and visited the front desk to receive our welcome packet with the park hours and resort happenings schedule. While the option to bypass the registration desk is a nice addition, I actually missed the whole traditional check in process where you get to interact with the Cast Members, especially if you are celebrating a birthday or other occasion. I definitely recommend the express check in service if it is a resort you have stayed at many times, but if you are a first time visitor to Walt Disney World or even that particular resort in general, I think it is wise to visit the front desk and get some assistance from the always knowledgeable Cast Members. As for the Welcome Packet documents, it would be nice if they could deliver that to your room upon arrival if you do decide to use Online Check In, which they may indeed do, I just didn’t give it a chance to check it out. What can I say, I am impatient. Maybe I will test that out on our next trip.

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^^ 3 Caballeros are the cutest!^^2015-05-08-13h37m37^^ Love that Donald!^^

With our bellies full and check in process officially complete, it was almost time for our first FastPass+ reservations so we were off to explore the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (Epcot)!!

 

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