EPCOT and Disney Hollywood Studios


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November 16th 2016
Published: November 17th 2016
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We got a Magic Shot!We got a Magic Shot!We got a Magic Shot!

The photographer asked the kids to look surprised. She took this photo and added Olaf to it!
We decided to sleep in a bit this morning, since we were out late at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. We used some of the snack credits from our dining plan to get bagels and pastries from a little cafe at our resort. Our tumblers that we got from our free dining plan also allow us to have unlimited coffee refills, so we got our on-the-go breakfast for free! We hopped on the bus to EPCOT around 10 or so, and when we arrived, we went straight to Frozen Ever After, the new Frozen ride. It's located in the Norway section of EPCOT.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a Fastpass+ for this ride. Because it's so new and Frozen is so popular, it's not an easy one to get. I did have one glimmer of hope, however. Currently, they don't offer FastPasses for the ride until 11am, which means there is only standby until that time. So, the standby line moves faster during the first couple hours of the morning. We booked it to Norway to get there before 11am. We made it!

....but the ride was temporarily closed. There must have been an issue with it. We were bummed, but we made the most of it and went to meet Anna & Elsa in their Royal Sommerhus. The wait time was posted as 55 minutes, but it probably took half that time. Jo was shy and wouldn't speak to the princesses, but they were both happy, which is what counts! By the time we got off, Frozen Ever After had opened back up. It was 11:25am, and we had a lunch reservation in Norway at 11:55am. The wait time was only 30 minutes! We decided to gamble and do it. I'm so, so glad we did. First of all, the line moved at a pretty good clip. It was beautiful, too, and we also got to spend some of the wait time in Wandering Oaken's Trading Post.

The ride was perfect for any Frozen fan. It had clips of all the songs, but the characters are what made it great. I have no idea how they got them so life-like. Olaf skated and danced and sang. We saw Sven, Anna & Kristoff, and, of course, Elsa, who sang "Let it Go." The kids' mouths were completely agape. I broke my no-pictures-during-the-rides rule and took a photo. I was thoughtful of others and didn't use a flash, but that also meant the kids' faces didn't turn out. Oh well. I guess I'll just have to remember! Near the end, our boat went by Marshmallow, the snow monster. Joanna was TERRIFIED. She screamed and started sobbing, especially when he blew "snow" at us. It took a few minutes to calm her down and remind her it was pretend. Still, I thought it was a fabulous ride. Just be sure to mentally prepare your young kids for Marshmallow ahead of time!

For lunch, we had reservations at Akershus in Norway for their Princess Storybook Dining. This lunch is normally EXPENSIVE, but we dined free with our free dining plan. When we entered, we got to meet Belle. Both she and the photographer weren't as nice as the other characters we met. Our kids were shy, and they seemed a bit annoyed that the kids weren't willing to just walk up and stand right next to Belle. We got a nice but quick picture and then went right inside, where we had the most incredible server from Norway. We started off with an appetizer buffet, where there was a variety of salad, cheeses, rolls, meats, and fruit. As soon as we got seated with our appetizers, all of the princesses came out! They rotate around the restaurant, each starting at different tables, and they make sure to visit every table. You never know exactly which princesses will show up each day, but we had Snow White, Aurora, Ariel, and Cinderella for our lunch. Joanna was star-struck. She wouldn't talk to any of the princesses, except to ask Cinderella where her pumpkin carriage was. Snow White was the most patient and was willing to spend a little bit of time talking to the kids, even though they were so quiet and really didn't say a word. Still, for whatever reason, Jo said that Aurora was her favorite! If you look at the pictures down below, you'll see she looks less than thrilled with Princess Aurora, but maybe that was because she was too excited to smile. Then, after we ate lunch, the princesses started their "royal processional," which was a little parade around the restaurant. All of the kids got to follow them. It was super cute! We were so full from lunch, but the dining plan includes dessert. How could we pass up the beautiful family-style dessert trays he brought out? We couldn't. They were so good!

Once we finished with lunch, we decided to walk over to ride on Soarin'. On the way, we stopped so Oliver could meet Baymax. He loves Big Hero 6. Baymax was so cool! The kids gave him a hug, and then we went to stand in line for Soarin'. This is a new, updated version of the old ride, and it just reopened earlier this year. Ohmygoodness. Seriously, guys, Soarin' was an experience I can't really describe properly. Basically, you sit in something that kind of looks like a hang glider, and you're lifted up and into a round screen. They play a film that I'd liken to the "Planet Earth" documentary, and it seriously looks and feels like you're inside the film. Whether you look up, down, or to the sides, you see the film footage. They lightly blow wind in your face, and your seat tilts with the screen so it feels like you're soaring. They even pump in some light scents to match what you see. We flew over a whale that breached the surface, and we flew over elephants that threw dirt into the air. Joanna shrieked with glee at that part. The whole time, I was thinking, "I can't believe I'm seeing this." It was one of the most amazing things I have EVER seen. I only wish I could go again! The woman next to me kept saying things like, "Whoa. I can't believe this. Whoa. Can you believe this?" When I got off, my mother-in-law said, "I could just ride that over and over again."

We left Soarin' feeling like we were on top of the world. Paul and Colleen decided to rest while Andrew, the kids, and I went to the Disney Visa meet-and-greet. If you have a Disney Visa card, you get a special meeting with 2 of the Big 5 Disney characters at the same time! It's not very often you get to visit with 2 characters at once. You get your own viewing space, and everyone else waits behind a wall. We heard the girl in front of us say, "It's Minnie!" when she turned the corner. I was so excited. I know that might sound lame, but I like Minnie Mouse, and I was dressed to meet her. Well, there was a bit of a wait before our turn, and when we turned the corner, Minnie wasn't there. They must have just switched! We got Goofy & Mickey. We had a great time, but I realized then that I did want to meet Minnie Mouse. So, when we left there, I walked with Jo over to the Character Spot, and we got to meet Minnie.

It was about 3pm at this time, and we all felt like we were done for the day. I don't know if it was because of the travel or what, but we wanted to go back to the resort and just nap. Unfortunately, I'd scheduled a 6pm dinner reservation at Hollywood Studios for Minnie's Holiday Dine. We'd be charged $10/person if we didn't show up, so we went. I have to say, I don't think I'll ever park hop again. We didn't wait long for the bus, but it still felt like a long time to get there. We arrived and went to see the Beauty & the Beast live show at 5pm.

After that, we walked over to Hollywood & Vine for our dinner reservation. It took so long. We
Frozen Ever After RideFrozen Ever After RideFrozen Ever After Ride

You can't see Jo next to me. She was cowering from her run-in with Marshmallow ;)
weren't seated until about 6:30pm. When we walked in, we were directed to a line to meet Santa Goofy. When it was our turn, he went on break. I understand that happens, but we were a bit cranky from being hungry and waiting so long, so we were disappointed. We were told we could meet him on our way out. We ate a decent buffet dinner, and Minnie, Mickey, Donald, and Daisy walked around the restaurant in their holiday outfits greeting everyone. They follow a set pattern with tables, so you know when each character is about to get to you so you can plan on when to eat. That part was seriously wonderful, but both Mickey and Minnie went on break after visiting the table right before ours. They held up a gloved finger to show that they'd be back in just a minute, and then I think they went back and switched with someone else. Of course these characters need a break, but somehow it seemed wrong that 3 out of the 5 characters went on break right when it was our turn to meet them. I think they should find a way to keep track of those things. We didn't want to leave the table because we knew they'd be coming back at some point, and we didn't want them to come to an empty table and move on. So, that made eating pretty tricky. Mickey came back immediately, but Minnie took a while. Then, when we were done eating, we waited again for Santa Goofy. No joke, when the people before us were up, a cast member came up to take Goofy on break. I was trying to think of a way to say something nicely but assertively, but the Goofy decided to see us before he went on break. I'm so glad we got to meet him! He put his Santa beard on the kids' heads, and they laughed and laughed. It was the best character meet we've had so far!

I'm definitely glad we got to meet the holiday characters. If you're interested in seeing them in their holiday outfits, just scroll down to the bottom of the post.
On the other hand, I honestly think if I had to do it again, we wouldn't have park hopped and would have just gone back to rest. Doing the extra travel and waiting so long for our reservation was hard on the kids. It is what it is, though. Now I know for next time, that I won't schedule dining reservations at two different parks on the same day, that way we aren't forced to go park hopping if we don't want to.


Additional photos below
Photos: 29, Displayed: 29


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Meeting Princess AuroraMeeting Princess Aurora
Meeting Princess Aurora

She told Jo to have "sweet dreams."
The Princess ProcessionalThe Princess Processional
The Princess Processional

It's a parade around the Akershus restaurant, part of Princess Storybook Dining.


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