June 19th was The Day.
I turned thirty. The big 3-0.
And I was going to Disney World. WOOHOO!
The plan was to do Animal Kingdom first (because Avatar-Land), then hop over to EPCOT. We didn’t make it quite in time for rope drop, and I had issues getting my printed ticket to scan and converted to a normal ticket, but eventually everything got situated. AND I got a Disney birthday button at guest services! Woot!
Chris and I headed over to Pandora first and jumped in the FP line for Na’vi River Journey. The standby line was at 40 minutes, but we were in and out in ten minutes. While the ride was gorgeous, it was waaaaay too short. Honestly, if you’re waiting in standby and that wait time is over twenty minutes, it’s really not worth the wait.
We had some time to kill before our Everest FPs, so we hit up the Satu’li Canteen for breakfast! Their menu focuses on American cuisine, and I settled on the cinnamon French toast and some coffee. Oh my goodness…absolutely delicious. And there was hardly anyone in the restaurant! I HIGHLY recommend going for breakfast if you get the chance.
Once happily full of food, we hopped on Expedition Everest (and reconfirmed my hatred for roller coasters). Happy to say we didn’t spew on the ride 😛
Since this was my second legitimate time in AK (first visit being in 2010), and I wasn’t running a marathon, we took our time walking around and exploring…and, of course, taking pictures of the Tree of Life carvings.
We were also keeping an eye on the wait time for Flight of Passage (which was at 180 minutes and fluctuating because of something or other going down). Chris and I have a pact that unless a ride time is quoted at less than 120 minutes, we won’t stand in line. To kill some more time, we headed to Festival of the Lion King (my first viewing!). The line was extraordinary, and we were one of the lucky last 35 that snuck in for standing room.
After Festival, we headed to FOP, which had gone down to a 115 minute wait. I had been apprehensive about potentially spending so much time waiting, but we entered the queue at 12:00 on the nose, and found ourselves going through the pre-ride sections at a blazing speed. (I think the notification of the ride going down deterred a lot of people from sticking around.) Once inside, we were surrounded by bioluminescent beauty:
Then we got to the lab attraction in the queue, where the actual avatar is located:
At one point, the cast members came on the speakers and reminded everyone to, “Please fill in the available space to keep the wait times down.” It was THIS ROOM that we observed people just standing around taking pictures and not moving. There was a massive gap between the small section of people near us and the rest of the line. I’m not sure if families were planning their reunion pictures in this room or what, but for the sake of sanity and respect to the other hundred people behind you, quit holding up the line with your paparazzi tendencies.
The ride itself: fantastic. It’s like Soarin’, but you’re on the back of an individual banshee. (It’s like riding a motorcycle, honestly.) If you have a fear of heights…well, there’s a lot of height-related things on this attraction. Tip: look straight ahead and not straight down. It won’t be as scary.
Time entering the queue: 12:00 PM. Time done with the ride: 1:07 PM. Total time = 67 minutes. Win.
I definitely had to get a new Disney mug to commemorate the weekend, and I settled on the Floating Mountains mug. This is definitely the most creative and intricate mug in my collection!
We headed back to the Satu’li Canteen for lunch. Couldn’t resist! My lunch ended up being dessert:
Also, on your birthday, you get a birthday cupcake!
It was a tad more crowded for lunch, but we still found seats inside. This was another win, as it had started pouring outside (and we didn’t have proper rain gear). We monitored the radar and enjoyed our food as the heaviest rain subsided. Then we took off for the parking lot for the second half of our adventures in EPCOT!
Along the way, we passed under a bridge, and the musicians started an improvised version of “Happy Birthday” for me. Normally I’d be scared shitless by being serenaded to, because I don’t like attention and I hate the song with a burning passion, but I rolled with it and it was a lovely time had by all.
By the time we got to EPCOT, it alternating between drizzling and raining. We camped out in the parking lot for a bit to dry off from AK and to determine what we were going to do. Chris somehow, some way, scored FPs for Frozen. We planned our first three hours around that, starting with a visit to Club Cool.
Did you know you get a free slushy on your birthday?!
We hit up Soarin’, Living with the Land, and the Pixar Shorts before heading to World Showcase. We spent a bit of time in China exploring; there is an exhibit about Shanghai Disneyland that caught our attention, and now we want to go!
We doubled back to Mexico and had dinner…
We started traversing the rest of World Showcase and got as far as Italy before it was time to turn around again and head to Norway for Frozen! En route, we got notice that the ride broke down and it stayed broken for the rest of the night. Bummer.
We made up for it by heading to Spaceship Earth (a classic!), and our running friend, Ian, showed up to EPCOT! That was a nice birthday surprise! We went back through World Showcase in the opposite direction (to grace the other lonely countries with our presence, haha), and stopped in Italy for gelato before Illuminations!
I had missed out on Illuminations the last couple of times I’ve been to EPCOT, and I wasn’t about to miss it again. We camped out by Norway (torch 3 is a great viewing spot) and watched the show:
We agreed that the speedboats need a feature. Maybe an illuminated “Thanks for Watching Reflections of Earth” banner as they speed around the lagoon?
It was a fantastic way to kick off my next decade. Here’s to another thousand circles ’round the sun, and many shenanigans to come.