#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!

My Favorite Disney Date Night Restaurants

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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!

#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?)

 

 

#Overlooked@WDW – Flag Retreat Ceremony

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With so many things to see and do when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort, it is easy to overlook certain attractions simply because you are busy trying to enjoy the popular mountains or meet those Arendelle sisters. This blog series focuses on the attractions which may not draw in the masses making them overlooked by the typical guest at times. Just because it is not a high demand attraction does not mean you should steer clear of it because you may be pleasantly surprised! Hopefully on your next trip, you can experience one of these Disney gems!


 

Filled with magic, enchantment and fantasy, it is no wonder Magic Kingdom Park continues to be the most visited theme park in the world. With so many attractions to enjoy and characters to meet you may have never even noticed the Flag Retreat ceremony taking place on Main Street USA in Town Square.

Each evening, at 5:00 PM, the American flag is lowered in what is a moving and patriotic ceremony. They even choose a United States Veteran to help with the ceremony and a lucky child from the audience. I recently had a chance to watch the Flag Retreat for the very first time and I cannot believe in all my times visiting the Magic Kingdom, I had never seen it. I am so glad I had the opportunity to watch it!

As mentioned, the ceremony takes place at the flag pole in Town Square, right near the Roy Disney & Minnie “Sharing the Magic” statue. I arrived about 20 minutes early and Cast Members had begun already blocking off entrances to this area to prepare for the ceremony.

Security prepared the flag and other Cast Members were talking with the United States Veteran about what to expect. All the while other Cast Members positioned around Town Square politely told MANY people that they could not pass through or get that picture with Roy and Minnie right now. Most people were fine with it, but others were visibly annoyed that they had to actually around to get to whatever their destination was – I presume the park exit. People watching is an activity in and of itself when at Walt Disney World and I highly recommend it especially when waiting for something to begin!

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Soon, the Main Street Philharmonic marching band arrived and took their positions as did the Dapper Dans.

They announce over the loud speakers that the ceremony is about to begin and more and more people begin to stop to check it out. The band begins to play from the Train Station!

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The Dapper Dans are the MCs of the ceremony and explain the Flag Retreat tradition. They introduce the child(ren) they chose from the audience to help lead the Pledge of Allegiance. DSC_8013The National Anthem is played next as the flag is lowered.Flag Retreat Ceremony-1DSC_8024

DSC_8023The flag is then folded with the help of the Honorary Veteran and they invite everyone to sing along to God Bless America with the Dapper Dans.      DSC_8016DSC_8017DSC_8008DSC_8029I really love that Disney chooses to do this ceremony each day, it is a great way to honor our Veterans, Service Men and Women and country. I think it also sends the message and reminder to all that we should be honoring our country and those who fight or have fought every day and not just on Veteran’s Day or Independence Day. And yes, we can even do that when on vacation at Disney World! It was amazing to see all the people who decided to stop and take in the ceremony, many of whom where on their way out of the park.

So next time you are at the Magic Kingdom, take a little time out of your day and head towards the front of Main Street USA to catch the Flag Retreat ceremony. Since it is just about 10 minutes, it should be easy to fit into your day’s plan and really is a special moment within the hustle and bustle of Disney’s busiest and most popular park!

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Have you ever seen the Flag Retreat at Magic Kingdom Park? Leave us a comment!
You can also hop on over and visit us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!
Be sure to check out other #Overlooked@WDW articles such as Rafiki’s Planet Watch!

#TripReportTuesday – Bonjour! Breakfast in Beast’s Castle

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Happy Tuesday! Time for another installment of our May 2015 trip report!

Our early departure from Magic Kingdom the night before was kind of a bummer, but I think it was right choice because I felt great when I woke up and ready for our breakfast at Be Our Guest. We had a busy day ahead of us because we were checking out of Coronado Springs and using our DVC points to stay at Saratoga Springs for 4 more nights before sailing away on the Disney Dream.

Since we were checking out and heading to breakfast, we made a couple trips to the car to pack everything up, it is amazing how much we accumulated in just 2 short nights! Given we were going to check in to Saratoga Springs after our breakfast, we opted to just drive to Magic Kingdom.

This was the first time we parked at the Ticket and Transportation Center since we started staying on property in 2009! If we stay on property, we always take the bus to the Magic Kingdom since it drops you off right in front of the gates. Of course, if we were staying at one of the Magic Kingdom Resorts, we would monorail, walk, or boat over depending on the resort. For anyone that has never visited, when you drive to the Magic Kingdom, the parking lot is at what is called the Ticket and Transportation Center which is still 1.5 miles away from the Magic Kingdom. You are transported to the front gate via monorail or ferry boat. During extremely busy times like Christmas, they also offer bus service. Since we hadn’t parked here in what seemed like forever, we opted to take the ferry and it is such a beautiful and peaceful ride to the Magic Kingdom! It definitely takes a little longer than the monorail, but we were still early for our reservation, so it was the perfect time for it! Plus, the weather was absolute gorgeous!

While on the ferry, we got our first views of the new DVC Polynesian Villas & Bungalows!2015-05-10-09h12m202015-05-10-09h16m09Grand Floridian looking perfect with not a cloud in sight!2015-05-10-09h16m40I love this view from the ferry! You can see the Magic Kingdom Train Station, castle and a monorail pass every few minutes. It really is beautiful and you feel like you are being transported to another world, which is exactly what Walt wanted and the reason it is 1.5 miles from the main parking lot!2015-05-10-09h18m32As we arrived, it was approaching our Be Our Guest reservation for breakfast. We had only been to Be Our Guest for multiple dinners, never breakfast as this was a fairly new offering and I knew I wanted to try it especially because at the time, we didn’t know if the breakfast would be offered permanently.

We made it to New Fantasyland, checked in and were immediately led inside.

2015-05-10-10h21m26Breakfast is considered a quick service offering but it certainly feels more like a combination of quick service and table service in that you order from a kiosk pictured below, then pick a table and are brought your food. They know exactly where you are because of your MagicBand or you are given an enchanted rose which helps the servers locate your table. Something else to note is that beverages are self-served during breakfast unless it is something bottled such as milk or orange juice, as these will be brought to you.

Here I am ordering at the kiosk obviously excited! 2015-05-10-09h44m19Once we made our selections at the kiosk, we were led to our table in the Castle Gallery. This is the least exciting of the 3 rooms available in the restaurant, however, we had always eaten in the Ballroom which is the iconic room where Belle and Beast dance the night away in the movie! There is also the West Wing which is the Beast’s study where you can find his enchanted rose. The room is filled another fun enchantment as well if you watch the painting above the mantle closely. We have yet to eat in there! As for the castle gallery, it still is a beautiful room filled with larger than life paintings depicting Belle and Beast’s love story. There is also a beautiful gigantic music box in the center of the room. To read more about the Castle Gallery, Disney Parks Blog did a feature on it HERE.

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Soon, our food began to arrive on the cutest little meal cart. To begin, they serve you a tray of pastries. Which for two people, they certainly give you tons of options! I think we had already dug into some before I took this picture.
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Then our main dishes came out!
I knew exactly what I was getting when I saw this on their menu when I made the reservations 180 days out!

Croissant Doughnut

Fried Doughnut topped with Banana-Caramel Sauce, Pastry Crème, and Chocolate Ganache served with fresh Fruit and a selection of pastries
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OK-definitely not the most healthy of choices, but like those toffee Heath bars, anything banana/caramel calls to me!
Justin decided to go with something different and we decided we would share our plates. This is what we usually do when trying someplace new.

Eggs Florentine

Puff Pastry Shell filled with Scrambled Eggs, Cheese, and fresh Spinach served with Country Ham, Roasted Plum Tomatoes, and a selection of pastries.
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Both of these dishes which were delicious!! What I really liked about this breakfast was that the options were different from your regular breakfast fare that you can find around the resort. While, I love things like Mickey waffles, I am happy to see those not on the menu because they are standard around Walt Disney World and you can get them almost anywhere! Everything on the menu was unique to Be Our Guest and I think that is what stood out most to me. The menu is not very extensive, but the fact that the choices are unique definitely make up for it. Check out the official menu from Disney HERE.
The nice thing about this breakfast is that you pay for your meal when you order so once you are done, you can just leave your table without needing to wait on a server to settle the bill. We were definitely impressed with the breakfast here and cannot wait to return. I’m very happy that they decided to keep this as a permanent option!
See our happy, smiling faces?
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A quick check of the My Disney Experience app showed that Splash Mountain had a short wait, and since technically check in at Saratoga Springs wasn’t until 4:00 PM, we decided to give it a go. However, one cannot pass the Tangled potties and not use them! Seriously, the best themed bathrooms in the world.2015-05-10-10h26m42
It was getting pretty warm out, so a go on Splash Mountain was just what we needed to cool us a down a bit and it is always an amazing trip down into the Briar Patch! I love how the kid behind me is so not impressed. Maybe he’d rather be on Carousel of Progress or something or he doesn’t appreciate the awesomeness that is Brer Rabbit!
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Since we were going to return to the Magic Kingdom after dinner, we thought it would be wise to go get checked in at Saratoga Springs. We knew our room would not be ready since it wasn’t even lunchtime yet, but we decided we would do some swimming until it was time. Some photos from the front area of the resort!
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As expected, our room was not ready and they would text us once it was, so we grabbed our bathing suits out of the car and headed to the Main Pool in the Springs area of the resort. This pool is convenient because it is close to the lobby area, which is also close to Artist’s Palette which is their quick service food & shopping locations.
After a little swimming and because we were still pretty full from breakfast, we split a meal for lunch to hold us over until dinner. We still hadn’t received a text message, so we decided to join along in some of the poolside games. The recreation staff were leading poolside Disney BINGO, which was so much fun! They give you these big laminated cards and pieces used for marking. On the cards are various characters – sometimes you had to match a movie quote to the character, other times they would just shout out the character or just give a fact. In addition to BINGO, they also played music trivia where they played a very short snippet of a Disney song and you had to guess the character and name of the song. Also, lots of fun! I love that the poolside games are open to everyone. We saw lots of adults playing along with their kids and some even without!
Finally, we received our text message telling us our room was ready. We were placed in the Paddock section of the resort, which is what we had requested, so we moved our car to that area and started lugging all our stuff to our new home for the next 4 days. Here’s some pictures of our Studio room:
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Next up was to get ready for dinner and another first for us: The Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Fort Wilderness! I was so excited to finally see this Disney classic!
More on Hoop Dee Doo next Tuesday!