Month: February 2016

We had a Blast at the DVC 25 Year Anniversary Party!

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Disney Vacation Club is celebrating its 25 year anniversary and as a result, they are throwing some special events for their members all throughout 2016. The first of which was last night which was a complimentary Magic Kingdom party! Reservations needed to be made in advance and you had to show your DVC Member card or be a DVC Member’s guest in order to receive a wristband.

The party’s official hours were from 9:30 – Midnight, however wristband distribution and admittance began as early as 7:00 PM. They didn’t really advertise a whole lot of what was going to be happening at the party other than select attractions in Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Haunted Mansion would be open and there would entertainment and complimentary refreshments. I must say, we were pleasantly surprised with the entire experience! Going in not knowing what to expect, we planned on riding all the rides they were offering just to see if we could do them all, but our plan changed once we saw characters they had available to meet! Keep reading to see who we mingled with!

When we arrived, around 7:45, we were given our wristband and a map highlighting the event. We noticed there were many spots for character Meet and Greets, a dance party, a DVC Executive meet up, and a special fireworks show never before seen called the 25 and Beyond Blast!  In addition there were plenty of locations to get some complimentary refreshments. We were pretty excited about all the offerings because it truly had the feel of of one of the hard ticket events such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, the only difference was that half the park was not accessible and there was no special parade.

DSC_8562 DSC_8613 DSC_8628 Since we arrived just before Wishes, we watched that first then headed to Adventureland for some Pirates of the Caribbean. The park didn’t officially close until 9:00 so we thought it would be a good way to get some of the attractions that would not be offered at the party in. We then headed to Big Thunder Mountain, contemplated riding Splash Mountain, but it was too cold and I did not want to risk being uncomfortable until midnight in wet clothes!

DSC_8631There was a second showing of Main Street Electrical Parade at 9:00 so after Thunder Mountain, we were able to catch that in Frontierland.

DSC_8642 DSC_8672 DSC_8690 DSC_8699Once the parade was over, it was officially party time so so we we headed to Fantasyland where we got our first glimpse at just how awesome this special event was going to be! Louis from Princess and the Frog was out meeting guests right near Philharmagic! He did not have a long line so we hopped right in to meet him!

DSC_8711After this, we knew we needed to check out who else was out and quickly spotted Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and King Richard meeting and greeting near the castle wall leading to New Fantasyland. This was the longest line we waited in all night mainly because there were three of them and they were signing for autographs and you can imagine for those who collect autographs, this was a big deal-so the line moved pretty slowly. It was fine though because while I waited in line, Justin went and found some snacks for us. Throughout the park they were offering lemonade, water, hot chocolate, cookies, chips and even Mickey ice cream bars! Yum!

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After meeting the rare trio, we noticed Aladdin and Jasmine were meeting at the other castle wall, but decided to skip them since you can meet them during regular park hours. Instead, we walked into New Fantasyland  and saw Belle was in her village dress meeting guests near Gaston’s Tavern which was pretty rare because she is usually in Maurice’s Cottage telling stories in her ballgown. We skipped her too though because we caught wind that some very rare characters from our childhood were in Storybook Circus.

DSC_8719 Launchpad McQuack from DuckTales was out and about and so was Darkwing Duck! I couldn’t even believe it as I have never heard of these guys out and about! Darkwing’s line was pretty long and if we got in it, we would have missed fireworks, so after meeting Launchpad, we hopped on the Barnstormer like two 5 years olds because there was no wait whatsoever!

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We then made our way back to the castle to watch the Fireworks and oh my goodness, they were amazing! I do not have pictures or video but you can definitely check out YouTube because I am sure someone posted it! Just know THEY WERE AMAZING and LOUD! Disney really made them special just like they do for their other hard ticket events! It was such a treat even though it was pretty cold!

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Since the fireworks were at 11:30, there was a little more time and I really wanted to meet Darkwing Duck, so back we went to Storybook Circus and found that HE HAD NO LINE! NONE! Everyone must’ve been watching fireworks and then started heading out of the park. I am so happy we decided not leave until midnight because otherwise we would have missed this rare opportunity!

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As we walked out of Storybook Circus we saw that Wreck it Ralph and Venellope has NO ONE in line either so of course we met them! With 5 minutes left to spare, we had enough time to hop the Mine Train and barely waited 15 minutes for it which was terrific since that one is easily over an hour any other given evening!

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We headed out of the Magic Kingdom after the Mine Train and there was one last surprise. Mickey and Minnie were out at the front of park waving to everyone and being all sorts of adorable! They were even dressed all fancy for the event!

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I wish the party was longer so we could’ve made it over to Haunted Mansion because I heard the Cadaver Dans (Dapper Dans) were out and also a special guest from the Haunted Mansion portrait was out and about. We passed through Tomorrowland too and we saw they had Baymax, but you can find him in Epcot any time so we didn’t meet him.

I seriously could not be more happy with this special event that Disney put on for its DVC Members. The Cast Members were all amazing, there were plenty of snacks and they made this an experience you could not get any other time especially with the rare characters and fireworks. Also, the rides had such short wait times, so that was definitely a plus especially for those who don’t care to meet characters. I also liked the element of surprise of the entire event because not a lot about what would be offered was advertised. There is another party March 3, 2016, and I called this morning in hopes of registering, but I think the word is out that the party is amazing because it is now sold out!

I am very much looking forward to the other special DVC Anniversary events throughout the year and will post reviews here on The Magical Escape!

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#TripReportTuesday – Uncooperative Animals

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It was a new day and we were headed to one of my favorite parks, but lets face it, they are all my favorite at one time or another! This AM, we were headed to Animal Kingdom for just our favorite rides.

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Our first order of business was Kilimanjaro Safari because we had a FastPass that was itching to be used, meaning it was about to expire. To our surprise, the FastPass line was weaving outside the queue, apparently some of the animals were being disruptive and blocking the road so the trucks couldn’t pass and caused quite the backup. This happens pretty often on this ride, so just be prepared if you have a FastPass and this happens the line will move slowly. I only mention this because so many people were complaining in the FastPass line that they could’ve rode standby if they wanted to wait this long. Sheesh. It’s not FastPass or Disney’s fault that the LIVE animals decide to move into the road. What do they want the CMs to do? Run them over? That doesn’t exactly scream family friendly attraction to me. Oh well, rant over. Soon enough we boarded our rugged caravan.

I prefer to be in the seat farthest away from where you board, I feel you get the best pictures this way, but we weren’t and the animals were just in a weird mood this day and I didn’t get too many great shots, but a couple of good ones. That is the thing with Kilimanjaro Safari, it is really never the same experience twice. We recently rode it on Valentine’s Day and got the best shot! I honestly am going to do a separate post on it soon! Anyways, sometimes you get a lackluster safari ride, but always fun just the same.

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After our Safari we headed to Dinoland USA. Since it wasn’t time for our Dinosuar FastPass, we filled the time with riding Primeval Whirl. This one gets mixed reviews amongst the Disney community, but I think it is fun. People complain about the theming and how it looks cheap, but the idea is that that area is supposed to look like a sad little parking lot carnival! If you look closely, you will even see parking spots on the ground in the area.

Primeval Whirl is a little rough if you aren’t expecting it, so just brace yourself because it definitely whips you around!

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By the time we we made it through the queue and rode Primeval Whirl, we headed to Dinosaur, aka: the Disney ride I have never seen the ending too because I am covering my ears and eyes. I am really a 5 year old adult.

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I give you exhibit A:AK_DINOSAURRIDE_7305270564

Yup, nearly every ride photo in the Time Rover of ours looks just like this.

Edited to add: On Valentine’s Day, I actually did it! I saw the end of the ride, of course, we don’t have Memory Maker being locals, so I don’t have photographic evidence, but I promise, I actually saw the entire ride!

Next, we went to walk through one of my favorite Animal Kingdom attractions, Maharajah Jungle Trek. This is the walking trail where you can see the bats, tigers and bird area among others. The animals must have been on strike this day because here is the best view we got of the tigers, which happens to be my favorite part!

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A paw! That is all they were giving us!

Good thing these guys were out and active:

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The birds were especially photogenic too!2015-05-11-13h12m26

In the nest!2015-05-11-13h14m45

Feeling cheated out of the tigers, we found this display and figured this would just have to do for our tiger photography this go around.

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With some time to kill before we took on the Yeti on Expedition Everest, we decided to get some PhotoPass pictures have ourselves an Everest photoshoot.

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Soon we were on the other prettiest roller coaster in the world. (7 Dwarfs Mine Train is the other one if you are keeping score).

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We were trying to be cute and do the “Nameste” greeting, but as you can see the couple in front of us rudely put their arms up and blocked my dear husband. It happens. The poor girl in the front looks like she is holding on for dear life, I feel like her dad/grandpa doesn’t even care that his daughter/granddaughter is about to get thrown from the train. Am I the only one that makes up stories for the other guests who appear in your photos?

I am pretty sure we also rode Kali River Rapids as our final ride before heading back to the hotel to get ready for an early 3:40 dinner at T-Rex Cafe at the then Downtown Disney now Disney Springs. If I am not a 5 year old adult then I am definitely a senior citizen given this dinner time. There is no in between.

Tune in next Tuesday for our T-Rex experience!

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#TripReportTuesday – Playing in Fantasyland

My Album 3-001Happy Tuesday!

When I last left you, we had just finished up a rowdy meal at the Hoop-Dee-Revue and were now on our way to Magic Kingdom for the rest of the evening. We decided to hop on a bus from Fort Wildnerness and leave our car in the resort parking lot.

Our Magic Kingdom tradition is to always make a wish in Cinderella fountain since this is where we got engaged back in 2007 so that spot is my absolute favorite spot in all of Walt Disney World. Since they often close the back area of the castle due to shows and fireworks, we made sure we headed back there before all the nighttime festivities began.

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Since moving here, we still try and throw a penny in to make a wish every time we visit the Magic Kingdom. I must say, that fountain never fails to make my dreams come true. But let’s keep that between you and me.

We moved on over to Tomorrowland to use our Space Mountain FastPass. It always seems like we ride Space Mountain after eating a large meal. Such a smart idea always. Haha! Not sure what I was doing here!MK_SPACEMOUNTAINB_7304698007Since I wasn’t feeling too hot the last we were at the Magic Kingdom, I really wanted to do Haunted Mansion again. Luckily, it was pretty empty and looked all the more eerie. 2015-05-10-20h46m08 2015-05-10-20h46m34 2015-05-10-20h52m36

We headed to New Fantasyland next for a little Under the Sea fun with Ariel. I love how Prince Eric’s castle looks in the evening.2015-05-10-21h25m19

Since it was a short walk to Storybook Circus, we took the opportunity to ride one of my favorites: Dumbo!2015-05-10-21h27m06 2015-05-10-21h27m43 2015-05-10-21h31m18 2015-05-10-21h32m30 2015-05-10-21h34m07

This ride is just so much better at night, and by better, I mean magical. The lighting, the water, everything! We recently rode Dumbo in the day and it just didn’t have the same feel. I vowed to only ride it after the sun goes down from now on! Plus, there is virtually no wait if you ride it later so it makes it even more magical!

After this, it was time for our Seven Dwarfs Mine Train FastPass. I must admit, the first time I ever I rode it, it was not my favorite. It was fun, yes, but I always preferred other rides. Lately though, it is really growing on me and it is creeping into being my new favorite. The drops are just so much fun, even though they aren’t that big and I love me a good stomach dropping feeling! Plus the swinging motion of the cars and the smoothness of the ride, not to mention how it is probably the most beautiful roller coaster in the world just appeals to me. It also has the dark-ride feel of the classic Disney rides too. My only complaint is that it is too short!

I love our ride photo below, look how much fun all these grown adults are having? See people, Disney is not just for kids!

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Keeping up with our Fantasyland tour, we decided to ride Peter Pan’s Flight standby to check out the new queue which takes you through the Darling Family house. There is so much magic in this queue and it was much needed mainly because Peter Pan’s Flight almost always has over an hour wait and the queue used to be so blah. I think we happened to catch it with a 40 or so minute wait, which is pretty short. It is definitely worth it to ride this one standby if the wait isn’t ridiculous because it is one of innovative queues I’ve ever seen. I almost love the queue more than the ride! Be sure to check it out!

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Another nighttime favorite of ours is Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel. All the twinkling lights and fairy tale music makes me so happy! I even got to ride Cinderella’s horse this time. You can tell which one is hers by the ribbon on the tail. It is the only one that has one!

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I highly suggest hitting up Fantasyland at night if you can mainly because the lines are shorter for almost everything. That way you can use your FastPasses on other rides!

We had another date with Splash Mountain next! Clearly I did not want to get water in my eyes.

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Finally, it was time for Wishes and Main Street Electrical parade. Walking passed the new hub area we admired how beautiful it was lit up at night!2015-05-10-23h04m52 2015-05-10-23h07m45 2015-05-10-23h13m45 2015-05-10-23h17m32

Pro tip: If there are two showings of Main Street Electrical Parade, stay for the later one if you can. It is much less busy because lots of people watch the earlier showing and then leave after Wishes. We always get a great spot and great character interaction during the second parade!

Having a much better evening than the night before, we headed back to the bus to Fort Wilderness so we could pick up our car and get back to Saratoga Springs.

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We had another jam-packed day ahead with Animal Kingdom, dinner with some dinosaurs at Downtown Disney/Disney Springs and Hollywood Studios for some Extra Magic Hours! We jammed so much in because we knew in a few days, we’d be relaxing on the Disney Dream without a care in the world!

See you next Tuesday!

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My Favorite Disney Date Night Restaurants

Date Night

With Valentine’s Day this weekend, I started thinking about my favorite romantic Disney restaurants and realized there were tons of places that I would consider romantic. While you can definitely have a date night at any Disney restaurant, there are some that are some of my favorites either because of the menu or the atmosphere. While I have not eaten at all the Disney restaurants (yet!!), here are my favorite romantic meal places that I have tried in no particular order!

  1. Sanaa  – Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village

    Why I Picked It: You get to eat with with the giraffes! Well, not exactly with them, but you get to watch them while you eat. That is why I recommend an early dinner or lunch reservation so that it is still daylight. The food here is amazing, I especially recommend getting the Bread Service and trying each of the dips. Since this place is off the beaten path at Kidani Village it feels a little secluded and that makes it romantic, plus did I mention there are ANIMALS!?
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  2. Le Cellier – Epcot – Canada Pavilion

    Why I Picked It: This restaurant is small and feels very cozy as it is supposed to feel like a cellar. Plus there is the most amazing Cheddar Cheese soup and delicious filet with mushroom risotto here! The garden leading up to the restaurant is beautiful too!
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  3. California Grill – Contemporary Resort

    Why I Picked It: At the very top of Disney’s Contemporary Resort is what is probably my favorite restaurant EVER. The views of Magic Kingdom and the surrounding areas are a sight to behold and if you time it out right, you can watch Wishes from your dinner table or watch it from the observation decks. The food is top notch, another wonderful filet can be found here, but honestly, everything about this place is superb right down to the desserts!
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  4. Be Our Guest – Magic Kingdom Park 

    Why I Picked It: This place is straight out of a fairy tale and the food is pretty darn good too. You can eat in the room where Belle and Beast dance the night away, what is more romantic than that? Don’t worry, no talking candlesticks or clocks will interrupt your meal, but you do have the opportunity to meet the Master himself after you finish your meal.
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  5. Sci Fi Dine In Theater – Hollywood Studios


    Why I Picked It:
    It is like a drive-thru but with good food and even better milkshakes! The cars are pretty small, so it will require you to be close to your significant other and you get to watch fun Sci-Fi clips “under the stars.” I feel like Sci-Fi Dine In Theater transports you to a simpler time.
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  6. Les Chefs de France – Epcot – France Pavilion

    Why I Picked It: The entire France Pavilion screams romance with its fountains and gardens, and this restaurant is no exception. They have one of the best French Onion soups I have ever tasted!
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  7. San Angel Inn – Epcot – Mexico Pavilion

    Why I Picked It: Nothing is more romantic than eating under the stars and San Angel Inn definitely gives you that feeling even though you are completely indoors. Like Le Cellier, this restaurant is on the smaller side. The food is authentic Mexican and incredibly delicious. My favorite part is that you get to watch the boats float on by from the Gran Fiesta Tour.
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Honorable Mentions:
Cinderella’s Royal Table – Magic Kingdom Park
Morimoto Asia – Disney Springs
Coral Reef – Epcot
Jiko – Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House

I am definitely hungry now! Do you have a favorite date night or romantic restaurant at Disney? Let us know in the comments!

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#TripReportTuesday – A Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue Review

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It’s Tuesday, so that means a new installment of the trip report!

I was so excited to get ready for our dinner because we were doing a true Disney classic for the first time: The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue! This dinner show musical comedy held at the Fort Wilderness Resort & Camground is one of the country’s longest running dinner shows as it opened in 1974!

Here is what we were in store for from Disney’s website:

Frontier-Style Family Fun

Join the Pioneer Hall Players for 2 hours of rousing Wild West dancing, singing and zany vaudeville comedy.You never know what to expect when Claire de Lune, Johnny Ringo, Dolly Drew, Six Bits Slocum, Flora Long and Jim Handy hit the stage. But you do know that it’s not going to be dull! Get ready to clap your hands, stomp your feet, sing along and have a good ol’ time at rustic Pioneer Hall in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.

In between skits and song standards, chow down on buckets of all-you-care-to-enjoy fried chicken and smoked BBQ pork ribs, as well as a tossed green salad, baked beans, fresh-baked cornbread and strawberry shortcake.

Unlimited draft beer, wine and sangria are included for Guests 21 years of age and up (proper ID required). Soft drinks are also included.

Doesn’t that description just sound like so much darn fun!? Not only was I excited to see the show, but also visit Fort Wilderness because this was the first Disney resort I stayed at when I was 4 years years old, I just don’t remember it!

The show is held at Pioneer Hall, but in order to get there, you have to take a bus from within the resort because the campground is so big and spread out! I definitely did not take this into account in my planning, so we just made it! Make sure if you book, you give yourself plenty of time to get to the resort and use the in-resort transportation! I think the bus ride to get to Pioneer Hall can take up to 20 minutes depending on when you catch the bus, so just plan ahead! When we arrived to Pioneer Hall, we were one of the last people to get there and pick up our tickets so we didn’t have much time to explore because just as we picked up our tickets, they were opening the doors and having people be seated.

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A hostess brought us to our table which was so close to the front it felt like we were on the stage. When you make your reservation, you choose which section you wish to be seated in and there are 3 different categories. Category 1 is the main floor, Category 2 is in the back and some upper balcony looking straight on to the stage, and Category 3 is on the balcony to the sides of the stage. We had chosen Category 1 and really lucked out with our seats! We were also right next to the piano!

2015-05-10-16h16m02 2015-05-10-16h16m08Here was our view looking behind our table, you can see the balcony seating above and can see how jam packed this show was! Even though it has been going strong since 1974, it is still very popular, so definitely make reservations if you have your heart set on seeing it! They put on 3 shows a night: 4:00, 6:15 and 8:30. We were doing the first showing, but I am sure the others are just as packed!2015-05-10-17h03m38

Since they have to put on 3 shows a night, they start the show right away and soon the talented actors took to the stage and it was seriously hilarious! I did not know what to expect, but that was half the fun! I don’t want to give to give too much away, but I love how they use the audience interaction. There really never is a dull moment in this show and you will definitely be entertained the entire time!2015-05-10-16h28m59 2015-05-10-16h29m10 2015-05-10-16h30m16 2015-05-10-16h30m44 2015-05-10-16h29m40 2015-05-10-17h14m27

In between all the rootin’ tootin’ fun, your servers are bringing you literally buckets of fried chicken, ribs, mashed potatoes, corn, beans and salad. All of which is incredibly tasty!

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One of the most fun parts of the show is the way they present dessert! It is a whole production centered on Strawberry Shortcake and even your servers get in on the action! So much yum!2015-05-10-17h31m16

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Be prepared because this show is LOUD! And when you think it can’t get any louder, it does! And when you think it can’t get any funnier, it does! 2015-05-10-17h45m532015-05-10-17h35m19 2015-05-10-17h35m46

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We really enjoyed the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and were glad to cross it off our Disney Bucket List and I know we will definitely visit it again soon! The food is good and plentiful, but the actors are what make this show so great – I wish I had an ounce of their talent! If you are looking to kick back, have fun, laugh and just have a wild and loud time, book this dinner show!! If you are looking for a more quiet, laid back atmosphere, then this is definitely not for you!

I came across this great article on The Disney fan club site,  D23, which commemorates Hoop-Dee-Doo’s recent 40th Anniversary. There are some great old photos, a fun video and lots of history about the show. I have linked it HERE! Go and check it out.

See you next Tuesday when we head back to the Magic Kingdom for the evening (do we even go anywhere else?)

 

 

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