Photo TR: Orlando Group Honeymoon

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Chapter II - Skewered Banshee Wings

Postby Director_Guy » Thu Jan 24, 2019 1:26 pm

Chapter II - Skewered Banshee Wings

We woke up before dawn. I’m certain everyone hated me for this decision and I completely understand that. Normally, I am a heavy and late sleeper. I’d rather be asleep than awake in most moments. However, Disney days are not sleep-in days. You only have so much time to explore the parks and it’s a Pluto eat Goofy world out there.

Pluto eat Goofy… does that make sense? The point is, you gotta wake up on time to maximize your enjoyment.

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Meg and I quietly came out that morning. We were among the first awake, but the rest joined us soon. We ate a small breakfast, greased our wheels, and we were out the door and on a bus just before sunrise.

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Last night, Brian and Vanessa (on the left) had arrived. Brian is a very good friend of mine from all the way back in middle school. He would never meet me at Six Flags Great America growing up, but in the last few years I introduced him to Disneyland and has been a straight up convert ever since. Vanessa, his fiancée (they just got engaged when we went to Japan!), is originally from Orlando/Kissimmee and has a complicated view of the parks, understandably so. I can imagine the opinion of a local is far more nuanced on the subject than those of us who are only there for a few weeks every couple of years.

We were among the only ones on the bus. I think maybe one other small group.

Here I am trying to steal Mikey’s beard.
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“Just one quick tug and it’s all mine!”

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When we arrived at Animal Kingdom, there was already a line out the door. We went through security and those of us who were bagless went on ahead, leaving us baggers behind. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. I’m sure they still love us… right?

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“Ehhhh…”

The line moved quickly and were suddenly in line for Flight of Passage.

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DJ! DJ is our final member, he also arrived the night before. DJ we’ve known for a relatively short amount of time, but he is always an endless source of positive energy. The nicest guy ever to love heavy metal music. We chose DJ to be the guy officiate our wedding and he KILLED it. I’ve taken DJ to Six Flags Magic Mountain a few times and he loves the thrills. The previous March we announced our engagement at Disneyland and it happened to be DJ’s first time ever!

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Pandora was pretty neat.

The attention to detail is very impressive. As much as many of us like to say that Avatar has very little lasting cultural impact, it remains true that a good product is a good product. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is evidence that IP is irrelevant. Imagineering was tasked to create something out of an IP no one has a significant attachment to and it still turned out to be an insane success; not because of the IP but despite it.

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We were able to get on Flight of Passage in no time.

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Actually, I found arriving early to be to our detriment! The whole immersive queue I had been hearing about was almost completely bypassed.

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We were ushered passed all of the cool experiments and the big animatronic and put into the pre-show room. Normally I’d say this is a blessing, but we had never done any of it before. That was a small disappointment.

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The pre-show was a big info dump. They had a lot to say to make sure you understood the premise of the ride. It was right in the middle of the part where they “scan your DNA” when a cast member came in and told us we had to move to a different pre-show room. Jackie promptly apologized for her “garbage DNA” gumming up the works.

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The ride itself was pretty good, I gotta say. It’s definitely the best version of this type of simulator attraction. How far that will take you depends on your personal taste. My own tends to gravitate toward fully built out 3D environments with animatronics, but I can appreciate this ride for what it is. The motion base works very, very good and I remember so many smells and misty waterfalls that really added to the realism.

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“I will fight you for pins.”

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We wandered around Pandora for a spell, just taking it in. But it wasn’t long before we were off to Africa to see the savannah.

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“Listen everyone, you can only ride the fictional animals.”

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And there were lots of animals…
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What more can be said really? It's exactly what you sign up to see. Nothing too exciting or out of the ordinaOH MY GOD A BABY HIPPO!!
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After our safari, we took the path nearby that lets us see a bunch of apes.
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I dig that this park has so many walking paths that you can have your own self guided tour and just explore.
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It was then time for our own Himalayan escape.

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Austin, with all of the wonderful things that surround him, still manages to find a way to look at his phone.

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“Touch!”

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Expedition is as good as ever. Obviously, I wish the Yeti was working like it used to; the ride is missing a final climax, but I always leave it with a huge smile.
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First roller coaster of the trip and I don’t get to ride with my new bride?!

Those who had never ridden were very impressed, especially those used to Matterhorn Bobsleds back west.
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I think it kinda blew Austin’s mind a little.


The gang started to feel hungry, probably because I rushed them out the door so early. We filled our bellies and rested our feet at Flametree BBQ.

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I think Animal Kingdom has become my second favorite park in Walt Disney World behind Epcot. That’s not something I would have said when I first visited in 2006. I feel like it’s grown and improved but I also feel like I’ve spent more time in the park and gotten to know what it’s all about. I love how big it feels; how wherever you are there’s always something hidden away waiting to be found. I think the park has the best fully built themed environments, even ones that don’t relate to any IP.

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I still think it needs work. There are obvious sore spots like the Dinorama carnival area. The park definitely needs to be filled out more. But Disney definitely knows this and I think we are beginning to see these changes take shape.

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It certainly helped to expand my enjoyment of the park by staying in the hotel, though! Living there and entering the park as an extension of that theme really put me in the mindset.


“Hey, Austin. We hid a used bandaid in your baked beans.”
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When the food was over, we continued on to the rover, that shows the dinosau...ver.

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DJ No!

We had an enjoyable journey through the dark.
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Here we see the many reactions people had to watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Around midday we wandered back over to Pandora to get a better, less rushed lay of the land.
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We had a FastPass for Na'vi River Journey. It was really nice, I think. If I had waited in line for more than 40 minutes I'd probably be pretty upset. It's kind of an incomplete experience. But, with the use of FastPass, I found it fairly enjoyable. The animatronic at the end blows me away, but the rest of the ride is mostly "cute".

Nick and Natalie I believe had a date planned in Magic Kingdom and they ran off for a while, knowing we would meet them in the MK area later. Brian & Vanessa went back to Jambo House for a little relaxation. The rest of us wandered around Animal Kingdom some more. We caught the Festival of the Lion King show which was pretty good, but probably on the list of I Don’t Have to Do That One Again. It’s a good show, but not worth my precious park time.

We found some drinks and did more wandering. But the day grew hotter and we grew more tired so we all ventured back to Jambo House for a refresh (and a nap).

The unsung benefit of staying on property is midday naps. How have I not been doing this before?!



Anyway, naptime...


And like that the sun was down and we were back out and on a bus...
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...to Magic Kingdom!

And then back on a monorail....
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...to my favorite place in The World.


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You lucky people, you, it’s the ever amazing tropical hideaway Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto!
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Yes, I love this bar. I love Disneyland’s and I love Walt Disney World’s. When I first walked in I said “Oh, look, a place built just for me”. Moody (almost spooky) atmosphere with colored lights, sweet drinks, interactive displays, and an intensive almost obsessive attention to detail that makes you wonder if maybe we should be spending our time and money on things that make the world better and not frivolous entertainment but who cares because I’m TTIIPPPSPSSYYYYYY.

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Everyone else had a great time. We got the entire surfboard to ourselves, it was great.

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And then the madness set in.
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Natalie got the lowering seat!
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Sam’s was a hit! We had a place to be so we vacated our surfboard to the next lucky folks and walked outside for a brief firework show…
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...and back inside for…

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...you guessed it, more booze!

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We had a reservation at 'Ohana and waited it out by patronizing the bar.

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These two on the right are clearly mid-”Jambo”.

It wasn’t long until we made our way to our table.
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The food was very good. So good. I am a meat fan. I eat a lot of it. Almost exclusively meat, actually. ‘Ohana has some of the best, my god. I am such a fan of this place, it’s one of my top two restaurants in the resort.

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But it’s not just the meat! We had three veggie-people on the trip with us and all three of them were so happy and stuffed by the end of this.

And I don’t know how we had no picture, but the BREAD PUDDING desert is fantastic. I have dreams about that thing. The kind of dreams that would be impolite to share on a family friendly forum. My god, it’s so tasty. When asked how good it was by our server, Natalie jokingly replied with “I think we’re gonna need five more of these”. And guys, they did it. They brought us five of those freaking things. Oh my god.

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There I am at the end clearly in the middle of the remains of a meat skewer.
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And of course, you can have drinks there.
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No, Jen, we already did this bit.

‘Ohana was fantastic. We were all so full. It was time to throw in the towel.
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Or hold up the white flag, either way we were done.

After that, we all piled into two separate Lyfts to get back to Jambo house. It was a successful day, indeed.

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“You’re not gonna wake us up again early tomorrow, are you...?”
Last edited by Director_Guy on Thu May 02, 2019 1:51 pm.

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Re: Photo TR: Orlando Group Honeymoon

Postby Philrad71 » Thu Jan 24, 2019 4:02 pm

Any report full of booze, food and animals gets two thumbs up from me.

Thanks for sharing your adventures!
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Re: Photo TR: Orlando Group Honeymoon

Postby ytterbiumanalyst » Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:21 am

Animal Kingdom and Trader Sam's! Best day ever?

You all look like you're having fun, and that's what this is all about.
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Re: Photo TR: Orlando Group Honeymoon

Postby Director_Guy » Sat Jan 26, 2019 9:45 pm

Philrad71 wrote:Any report full of booze, food and animals gets two thumbs up from me.

Thanks for sharing your adventures!


You and I think alike.

ytterbiumanalyst wrote:Animal Kingdom and Trader Sam's! Best day ever?

You all look like you're having fun, and that's what this is all about.


I can't deny that it was probably in the top 10 days of the 10 day trip.
Last edited by Director_Guy on Sun Jan 27, 2019 12:16 pm.

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Re: Photo TR: Orlando Group Honeymoon

Postby Nrthwnd » Sat Jan 26, 2019 11:38 pm

We're so limited in what we'll be able to see when we get to WDW in a few years (only two parks possible for us), your great TR has definitely confirmed one of the two parks we are wanting to visit....

Animal Kingdom ~ For The Booz.....uh.......Pandora!

:smile:
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Re: Photo TR: Orlando Group Honeymoon

Postby Director_Guy » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:33 am

Nrthwnd wrote:We're so limited in what we'll be able to see when we get to WDW in a few years (only two parks possible for us), your great TR has definitely confirmed one of the two parks we are wanting to visit....

Animal Kingdom ~ For The Booz.....uh.......Pandora!

:smile:


That's quite a shame you only get a few days, but two days beats none! What other park are you looking to visit? I'm glad I can encourage enthusiasm for Animal Kingdom. It's a very unique park, very well designed. It definitely needs more attractions, but I do think you could absolutely spend a full day there, especially if you like to go at a slower pace.

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Re: Photo TR: Orlando Group Honeymoon

Postby PKI Jizzman » Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:11 pm

People debate which park has the best 1-2 punch...

the Trader Sam's + 'Ohana combo is without a doubt the best combo that exists on this planet.
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Chapter III - Manic Kingdom

Postby Director_Guy » Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:33 pm

Chapter III - Manic Kingdom

Jambo!
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The day began like most days: early.

This day was Magic Kingdom day. You know, we’re not monsters. We wouldn’t fill our friends up with alcohol and meat late in the evening and force them to wake up before the parks open. Meg and I told them all that we were going to the park early and that there was a FastPass reservation at 11am for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. No obligation to do any of it.

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Austin and Jen were the only two to take up the offer, the others enjoying some hard earned sleep.

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The morning was fairly relaxed. We got there pretty much just after opening and went straight to Peter Pan’s Flight. The wait wasn’t very long and we got to enjoy the queue, which is very different from Disneyland’s awful outdoor line in the harsh sun. People talk about bottling “Disney smells” but that’s one smell that may have to be left out.

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“There, there, Jen. It does have air conditioning.”

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We toured Fantasyland for a little while, taking in the sights and waiting for our FastPass.
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It was then that we learned Jackie, Mikey, and DJ had all rushed to get to the park by our FastPass time. They weren’t aware that it was a one hour window, so they thought we had already ridden. They went straight to the line and rode without us.

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The rest of our gang was on their way into the park. Our FastPass time was up, but with our gang about to be complete, we stalled for time on It’s a Small World.
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What to say about Small World… it’s classic. I have no feelings on it except Disneyland’s is probably better, except for the flooded set aspect. I think that looks really great, reflecting everything back off the water.

And then we waited…
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And waited...
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“Oh hey there! Did you expect this trip to be more exciting? Alright, let’s skip to the good stuff.”

Friends arrived and we coasted.

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This ride has the best on-ride photos I’ve ever seen. The lighting and post-processing is surprisingly nice!

The FP was stacked this day cause up right away was Space Mountain. We made the trek across the park.

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DJ led the way, even though he has absolutely no idea where any of us were going. He just has an energy that can’t be depleted. You let him off the leash and off he runs! He did this his first time at Disneyland, too.

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Time for Space Mountain.
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Space for Time Mountain.

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This is probably the weirdest part of the ride to take a picture, second only to an on-ride picture we’ll get to in a bit.

All that coasting got us hungry. Now with all the great food we’ve been having, sometimes you have to just eat what’s closest. And if we’re going to eat crummy hot dogs and hamburgers, at least we’ll do it in a unique setting watching Earth’s favorite Sonny Eclipse, in Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.

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I guess while everyone is eating, I’ll talk a little bit about Magic Kingdom.

I like it. It’s hard not to compare it to Disneyland, which is vastly superior, I’m sorry. The attractions they both share are almost unanimously much better at Disneyland and the entire park oozes charm. But Magic Kingdom is a great park in its own right. They thankfully made room for all the people, the castle is very striking compared to Disneyland, and the peoplemover still runs. Look, I enjoy both. A lot. And on any day I’d rather be at either of them than none of them.

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After lunch we wandered the park some more, hitting the headliners.

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Big Thunda

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Haunted Mansion (my favorite, and actually I think this one is better than Disneyland’s)

And we couldn’t miss
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The Tangled Restrooms, an iconic establishment.


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It was then that a few people in our group heard a ping sound coming from their pocket. It was a notification on their phones for a trivia game called HQ. If there’s anything to date this trip in a specific time period it’s us all stopping to play HQ in the middle of Magic Kingdom.
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We were stopped here a good 20 minutes answering trivia.

Unfortunately, nobody won any money.


We drowned our sorrows in Mickey’s Philharmagic, which I happen to really love. I’m not a huge fan of 3D shows but I will definitely see this show every time I’m in The World. If only they would update it with a digital projector.

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It was then time for the real feast we had planned for the day.
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I was surprised that they would seat this many at a table at Be Our Guest. I remember the tables not being very big the last time Meg and I ate here.

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What I didn’t know was that we should have requested to sit in the main dining hall because we got sat in what I like to call “The Worst Wing” and it should be forbidden.

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It’s not a terrible room, but the other two rooms are heavily themed and this one feels like a big afterthought. The kind of place you’d put people when they show up with a party of 11…. Oh.

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The food was mediocre! I think I liked this place better last time due to the atmosphere. Somehow being in a themed environment makes food taste better. The blandness of The Worst Wing really opened my eyes to the mediocrity of the food here. Unfortunate, because I really like the rest of the place.

After dinner, Nick and Natalie went back to Jambo House to grab colder weather supplies. The rest of us walked through Frontierland, our bellies full, enjoying the night time ambiance. I looked up at saw a lot of birds darting around very fast. Nightbirds, I thought.

But they were not birds. They were BATS! A good dozen or so, flying above us as we entered Adventureland. That’s fascinating to me. Disneyland has cats and Disney World has bats.

Once in Adventureland, we hopped in for a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean.

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This is the weirdest spot for an on-ride picture I’ve ever seen. Nothing is happening here. Everyone is guaranteed to have a dull expression on their faces, as evidenced by our picture. It’s not that the ride is unexciting. If you took a picture of a bunch of people watching a movie it would look similar, but we don’t want to remember movies like we do rides. We want to see our excited laughing expressions, the ones we remember making. It’s really bizarre to put the picture here BEFORE the drop.

Sorry, that’s a weird thing to care about, but what a strange decision!

We headed for the exit. Jackie and Mikey called it for the night and returned to Jambo House.

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The rest of us hopped on a monorail.
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Epcot?
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Yepcot!

It would be a brief trip to round out the night. In a perfect world, I’d want everyone’s first trip to Epcot to be in the daylight. But we were very good boys and girls all day and had no liquor inside of us. We needed to beeline to Cava del Tequila.


DJ in search of the perfect hat.
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I don’t know folks… do we have a winner?
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HE HAS CHOSEN! SO IT SHALL BE!

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Mexico, my favorite Epcot pavilion. Maybe my favorite place inside a Walt Disney World theme park. I’m sure you’ve noticed they all relate to booze. But aside from the booze, the atmosphere is really nice. And there’s a ride!

By the time the rest of us got our first margarita, DJ already has his second one and ready for more.
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He’s a machine.

“You guys, I found a better hat!”
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Nick returned and we spent our little remaining time waiting for and riding Soarin’. Not wanting to outstay our welcome (and also we were tired and there’s already some pre-bought booze back in Jambo House), we hopped on a bus to take us back home.

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There was still more fun to be had. We needed rest, for tomorrow we would be breaking the sacred Disney Bubble™.
Last edited by Director_Guy on Thu May 02, 2019 2:20 pm.

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Re: Photo TR: Orlando Group Honeymoon

Postby Canobie Coaster » Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:50 pm

That Pirates photo. :lol: I always find the worst photos are on shooters when everyone is hyper focused.

Great report!
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Re: Photo TR: Orlando Group Honeymoon

Postby Leekak » Fri Feb 01, 2019 5:30 am

Hey You Guys.

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