Aw Day 11.
With Day 11 being Nickie’s birthday, we obviously did a lot of cool stuff. But this time around we combined some new experiences with some tried-and-true favorites.
One of the new things we did was NOT ordering a custom cake. Nickie said with everything we would be eating, it seemed wasteful to also get a cake. But I mean, to not get a cake? I was having a hard time dealing with that whole thing. Especially after the amazing cake I ordered for Nickie’s birthday last year.
But eh, I do get it. We usually end up not eating like half of the cake because we are eating so much elsewhere. And when I say I can’t fit another piece of cake in my mouth-hole, you KNOW I mean it.
But not to worry, I still planned a good deal of fun stuff for Nickie to celebrate her awesomeness. So let’s get on with the birthdayness!
Day 11 –Nickie’s Birthday: Disneybounding, EPCOT, sleigh rides, and fried chicken!
Nickie’s birthday started off with…well of course…lots of hugs and “Happy Birthday”s when we woke up. And our first order of business was coffee. Birthday or not, the first order of business is usually coffee. So I headed down, pajamas and all, to the Beach Club Marketplace. I used our refillable mugs to make up some coffees for Nickie and I, a hot chocolate for Myles, and a Powerade for Owen at the Freestyle machine.
I decided that, while I couldn’t get Nickie a full cake for her birthday, I could still get her a cupcake. And I had been eyeing this one in the case since we got there – the hot chocolate cupcake!
I brought it back up to the room and since my candles were lost to the Mousekeeping decoration debacle of 2018, I lit the Christmas Cookie Yankee Candle I bought as part of Nickie’s birthday surprises and we all sang “Happy Birthday” to her.
And of course we all tried the cupcake, which was not only pretty to look at but very tasty.
So I should probably interject here and say that Nickie and I? We are extremely bad at waiting to give each other presents. Also, we are equally as bad at waiting to receive presents. We really put the present in “presents.” Meaning we always sort of want them right now. We be all…
So in that spirit, I had given Nickie pretty much all her birthday presents right before we left for the trip. I gave her a bag o’ stuff like a couple of pairs of new ears (again, bought at LeBownitte, the aforementioned candle, some other little trinkets, and a few things I will save for a little later in the post.
But her big present was two-fold. Or I guess it was actually three-fold. Which is a high amount of folds. I booked her a Character Couture makeover for that morning at the Ship Shape spa. Character Couture is a high-end Disney character-inspired makeover where a Disney stylist creates a customized look based on any character a guest suggests. It’s sort of a grown-up version of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique – it’s not like a full-on Halloween costume-type of thing, more of a subtle character-inspired thing. And it’s completely customized as they claim no two looks are ever the same.
It comes in three levels:
- Storybook Style – just the hairstyle alone (adults, $80/children, $50)
- Magical Makeover – hair and makeup (adults, $105/children, $75)
- Timeless Transformation – hair, makeup, and nails (adults, $120/children, $90)
I had originally booked Nickie a Timeless Transformation session and bought a $150 gift card to cover the service and additional fees, but when I told Nickie about it she asked if she could just do the Magical Makeover as she was planning on getting her nails done before the trip. So she landed on the Magical Makeover. I will get to her experience in a second. But three-fold, remember?
For her birthday, I wanted to create a whole day around her makeover. We had always toyed with the idea of Disneybounding but never could really get it together. This seemed the perfect opportunity. But in order to do that, I had to sort of come up with her Disney character in advance of her makeover. I played with a lot of ideas around her favorites – Belle, Cinderella, Winnie-the-Pooh, the emotions from Inside Out – but I tried to factor in everything including what she would be most comfortable wearing, what park she wanted to visit on her birthday, photo opportunities, etc. and I came up with Snow White as the perfect option.
And this was where the second fold comes in. In addition to what I mentioned above, I also bought her a Snow White-inspired Disneybounding outfit to wear for her special day – a yellow skirt, blue blouse, red sweater, red bow headband and some red Converse she’s been wanting. I wanted to get her clothes she could wear that day as well as whenever else she felt like it.
And as the third fold in her present, I also got Disneybounding outfits for us all to wear. With Nickie being my Snow White, I also put together an outfit for me to Disneybound as The Prince. I had some grey pants. a white button-down, and red tie already so I added to those a blue sweater vest and that was pretty much it. Oh, and I wore my Mickey Mouse Vans to complete the look.
The boys wanted to be dwarfs. Owen would be Grumpy so I got him a red crew neck t-shirt, brown shorts, and a brown slouchy hat. Myles wanted to be Dopey so for him I got a light green v-neck, light blue shorts, and a purple slouchy hat.
We got a ton of pics of us later in the day, but we also got a couple of pics of us BEFORE Nickie’s makeover.
Nickie’s makeover was at 10AM and would be about 2 hours or so. So the boys and I headed to EPCOT. Have I mentioned how much I love entering via the International Gateway early in the morning? Place be empty, y’all.
Our first stop was supposed to be Test Track but the ride was down so we took advantage of the early morning lack of lines and jumped quickly on the Seas with Nemo and Friends. Owen was especially excited, as evidenced by the consistent placement of his thumbs in the “up” position.
When we got off the ride, we decided to explore the Seas pavilion a little bit, which we never do. But this morning was to be laid back for us. Do what we could, but we weren’t really in much of a rush. Especially considering it was gonna be way up over 80 degrees and I was wearing a sweater vest and tie.
The things we do for love, eh?
And I am so glad we decided to explore because we met this dude. Or lady? You can’t really tell with dolphins I guess. Or maybe you can. What do I look like? A marine biologist?
This dolphin was like Flipper-level friendly. Check him out.
Sorry about the portrait orientation. I was a bit dolphin-struck.
But it was awesome. Even the trainer came down and was like, “I had to come down and see what was he (or maybe she?) was looking at.” Gah, the cuteness.
We also paid a visit to the manatees. But they weren’t as friendly. Still cute though, I suppose. I dunno. Are manatees cute? They sort of look like Wilford Brimley. So I mean…obvs cute.
The wait for Journey Into Imagination was pretty much walk-on so the boys and I walked over to the Imagination Institute for a visit with Figment.
And once again taking our time, after we exited the ride, we played a little bit in ImageWorks.
Pro tip – Figment’s Melody Maker is the best part of ImageWorks so don’t waste your time doing anything else. Well, unless it’s buying a Figment Pillow Pet.
By the time we finished our Journey. Into Imagination…
…Test Track was up and running so we could finally use our FastPasses.
On our way over to Test Track, I asked the boys to give me their best Grumpy and Dopey. This was what I got.
We got through the queue quickly and the boys went right to work creating their latest monstrosity.
They always struggle with efficiency.
While we were waiting, the woman next to us was saying her son had forgotten his keycard so I told her she could use my MagicBand to make his car. I only bring this up because I am a true hero.
Also though – I think it created some good karma. Because after we got off Test Track, we were walking by the ice cream cart nearby and the guy working the cart asked if we wanted to help him open it. We said “sure” and he told us to call in the open code over his walkie talkie. And thanks to us, all the other EPCOT visitors could enjoy Mickey bars. You are all welcome.
And as we wee walking away, he asked if we wanted anything. I replied, “No.” But then he said whatever we wanted was free. So then I replied, “Yes.” I asked for a beer, but no such luck. So technically it wasn’t whatever I wanted but still. Free ice cream. Owen and I opted for the traditional Mickey bar and Myles got a Mickey ice cream sandwich. Which he contends is the better option of the two. Also, he has mental problems.
We had one more FastPass to use before shooting over to the World Showcase to meet up with Nickie. Owen and I had FastPasses for Mission:SPACE but Myles isn’t the biggest fan of that ride so he had one for Spaceship Earth. Different rides, but both related to space so I mean. I don’t know. The space between us? Something deep or metaphorical like that.
When we all were off our respective rides, we walked over to the World Showcase and before we started into the countries, I asked the boys if they wanted to take part in the Chip and Dale Christmas Tree Spree, which is this scavenger hunt thing where you purchase a map (for like $6.99) and take it around the countries looking for hidden Chip and Dales holding different ornaments. And when you figure out the hidden ornament for that specific country, you apply the corresponding sticker. If you fill up the map, you can redeem it for a prize. You can finish the hunt over the course of multiple days. I also think you don’t have to finish it to get your prize but what kind of lesson is that?
A craptastic lesson. That’s what.
Our first stop on our map was Canada, eh. But before started our search for ornament-stealing rodents, we went down to watch O Canada, the CircleVision movie starring Ned Nederlander.
Oh, sorry. I mean Martin Short.
After the movie was over, my beautiful princess was in the park. She met us in Canada and helped us find out first Chip and Dale. But Chip and Dale Schmip and Schmale. It was time to do some Disneybounding. And take as many pictures as possible. We started in the UK…
And then we got some PhotoPass pics on the way to and in France. Erm, I mean Le PhotoPass.
It was time for lunch so we took a little bit of a break from being supermodels to eat some lunchz at Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie.
Owen and I got the croque monsieur, of which I only got this insanely blurry picture. Because cheese excites me.
It was very good though. Even Owen liked it. So that’s saying something.
Both Nickie and Myles got the jambon beurre, which is a ham and cheese with Dijon mustard butter on a demi baguette.
And for research purposes, I also had a bite of this. It was delicious but I think I preferred the croque monsieur. Nickie and paired ours with 2 glasses of Chardonnay. I actually wanted the Bordeaux but oddly, that was not included on the dining plan. Womp.
We also got a couple desserts to share. We got a chocolate tart and éclair.
And since it WAS Christmastime. Well, it was nearly December. So we had to get a Buche de Noel.
The éclair was probably the best dessert we got, with the tart coming in a close second. The buche de Noel was ok. But the one sold outside at the Holiday Kitchen is better. At least according to Myles.
Lunch overall was very tasty though I must warn you if you do decide to eat at Les Halles – getting a table is all out war in there. Good practice to have one of you get the food and the other secure a table. And if you have a third, maybe use him/her to threaten violence. If necessary, of course.
After lunch and finding our hidden Chip and Dale, it was nearly slushie o’clock so Nickie and I walked over to Les Vins des Chefs de France. Nickie got the Grey Goose Citron slushie (left) and I got the Grand Marnier slushie (right).
Obviously, these were good. Just know these are ALWAYS good.
We took our slushies next into Morroco to look for our hidden Chip and Dale.
As we walked through World Showcase in our DIsneybounding outfits, we honestly felt like minor celebrities. People kept stopping us to tell us how much they liked our outfits and I even saw a little girl point to Nickie and shout, “Snow White!” Pretty sure that made her day.
When we got to Japan, we saw a PhotoPass photographer setting up so we asked if he would take our picture. The minor celebrity we were experiencing had started going to our heads obviously. Thankfully, he indulged our vanity.
We also of course had to check out what was new at the Mitsukoshi Department Store. I love this place.
The boys seemed to enjoy these stylish…um…hats?
I usually love all the Godzilla merch in here and this shirt was no exception.
Thing was amazing, but 60 bucks for a t-shirt felt a bit steep. Even for a t-shirt this spectacular. So alas, no Godzilla t-shirt for me this trip. To drown my sorrows, I skulked back to the Sake Bar at the back of the store.
They had a sparkling peach sake special so I figured I would give it a shot.
It was pretty good. Very, very sweet but good.
The boys opted for Pocky over Sake. Owen went for the cookies and cream and Myles chose banana (a personal favorite of mine as well.)
The next pavilion up was The American Adventure and the line for their holiday booth – American Holiday Table – wasn’t too long so Nickie and I shared a slow-roasted turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and cranberry sauce. I paired it with an eggnog white porter.
This was delicious. The turkey was perfectly cooked, not a hint of dryness. And all the sides were tasty as well. I had the eggnog porter last year as part of their beer flight. It was my favorite of the three so I figured I might as well just go all in on that one.
We enjoyed our snack while sitting at the fountain in the pavilion.
Italy was up next. There was another PhotoPass photographer on the bridge so of course we took advantage.
While in Italy, we stopped to listen for a bit to Le Befana, the Italy Christmas storyteller.
She’s a witch. But like, a good one. Like Glenda. Or Hermione. Or Robin Tunney.
Next up was the country we were most looking forward to visiting today – Germany! And not for the usual reasons we look forward to visiting Germany. Like pretzels. And Jägermeister. But for another reason entirely.
But of course we asked the PhotoPass photographer to take some pictures.
And Chip and Dale were super easy to find here.
But the real reason we were in Germany was to meet Snow White at her Wishing Well. We had been checking the times all day and she was scheduled to be there in about a half hour or so. While we waited, I took a couple pictures of Nickie and the boys in front of the well.
And while I was doing that, a woman from a kiosk across the way came over and asked if she could take a picture of all of us in front of the well. Which was insanely nice of her to do. Like, she was LEGIT across the way.
Snow showed up soon after that and she LOVED our outfits. She was so sweet to Myles and Owen and of course to Nickie. She was pretty great.
She even said to Owen, “You must be Grumpy” just like she says it in the movie.
Yeah, like that. The only issue was there was no PhotoPass photographer there. So we had to rely on our phones to capture the moment.
It was all a pretty magical part of Nickie’s birthday. And after all that excitement, we were getting a bit hungry. Well, technically I was getting a little hungry. Well, technically, I am always a little hungry. We walked through the World Showcase until we were in Mexico. I had a specific Holiday Kitchen treat in mind at Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen – the Enchilada de Pollo con Mole (chipotle chicken in a tortilla topped with mole negro, shredded Oaxaca cheese, and sesame seeds).
I paired it with a La Posada Margarita. Because, I mean, it had the name of the place in the drink. I kind of had to order it. Also, it’s made with Cazadores Blanco Tequila, Horchata-Cinnamon Liqueur, and Agua de Horchata. AND it’s topped with Cinnamon. Those are also reasons why I ordered it.
This was insanely good. The enchilada had the right amount of kick to it and who doesn’t love a good mole.
The margarita was delicious as well. I mean, it was basically a tricked out horchata margarita so it was obvs squad yumtown.
Owen was also feeling hungry it seems as he purchased a Joffrey’s donut bigger than his head.
It was getting close to the time we were planning to leave the park so we started to head back towards the International Gateway. And as we walked through Italy, Nickie said she was feeling a bit…erm…thirsty. So she grabbed a Prosecco. One sip in, though, she decided she wanted a beer instead. So you know what that means? Free drink for me! Prosecc-OH YEAH.
With some sparkly wine under my belt, I felt ready to continue on towards the exit. What happened next was pretty epic-pantz. As we were walking, we passed a group of guys walking in the opposite direction and Myles says, “hey, isn’t that Lou Mongello?” I looked over and it was. It WAS Lou Mongello. For those people that don’t know, Lou Mongello is the host of the WDW Radio podcast. I have mentioned that podcast on here before and have been listening to it for years to get my Disney fix when I am not at the parks.
I had to seize the opportunity so I walked up…well, sprinted up….to him and asked, “Are you Lou Mongello?” To which he replied, “Why? Do I owe you money?” So I assumed that was a yes. As I was telling him what a big fan I was of his podcast, I looked around and saw some other familiar faces. Big Fat Panda, Michael Ruffin from The Moving Platform and Scott Atwood from The Main Street Mouse. All of whom are people we follow to get our Disney info from.
Pfft. And I thought I was star struck when we saw Snow White.
They were all super nice and seemed genuinely happy to meet their fans. Lou was even saying they were talking about us before we came over because of our Disneybounds. And I mean, OF COURSE we got a picture.
I think there was some big media day going on. Myles said he even spotted Tim Tracker when he was off grabbing a snack. Hrm, a media day? My invite must have gotten lost in the mail. Yeah, that’s obviously what happened. Don’t worry Disney. I forgive you.
And now it was time to head out. We hit the International Gateway and walked back to our room to get changed for the nighttime part of Nickie’s birthday extravaganza.
Disneybounding was soooo fun though. We are already talking about who we should be next time we do it.
In order to enjoy the next part, we had to get over to Fort Wilderness so we ordered up a Lyft. Which was both a positive and a negative. The positive was our driver as he ended up being Amir Ali, the found of Mo’Rockin, the band that used to play in Morocco at EPCOT. Yeah, seriously. I’ve looked it up. And it was him. He told us all about his life and how he founded the band. Quite possibly the most interesting Lyft ride ever.
The negative was that we probably should have sprung for a Minnie Van. A regular Lyft can only take you so far into Fort Wilderness and has to drop you at the main bus stop where you then pick up a bus to take you to where you need to go. A Minnie Van would have brought us closer. Oh well. We were pretty early anyways.
Early for what, you say? Well, as another birthday present for Nickie, I booked us a horse-drawn sleigh ride around the Fort Wilderness campground to see the campsite Christmas decorations before dinner. You’re right. I AM an amazing husband.
But even when we got to the loading area, we were still pretty early. So we found a couple of rocking chairs on the porch in front of Crockett’s Tavern.
I went up to the drink window, got Nickie a beer and myself a double Bulleit rye on the rocks. While we were sitting there, a downpour came on all of a sudden and it was so peaceful and relaxing sitting under the cover of he porch, drinking our drinks, and watching the rain come down.
Myles and Owen then asked if they could go over to the gift shop to get themselves a couple souvenirs. I was feeling generous, most likely due to the double rye, so off they went. And when they came back? Instead of souvenirs for themselves, they had birthday presents for Nickie. Tears. Literal tears.
They bought her a new pair of ears and a Fort Wilderness koozie.
It was very thoughtful. Nickie usually likes to get koozies wherever we visit and I mean, I think she owns like 30 or so pairs of ears? OK that’s an exaggeration. But only a slight one.
We were so impressed by their generosity we told them to go back over and pick out a couple souvenirs for themselves. They each came back with a t-shirt and a snack for the sleigh ride.
Speaking of snacks for the sleigh ride, our ride time was coming up and the rain was slowing (not exactly stopping…but slowing) so I grabbed another beer and rye for the ride.
Our horse’s name was Bob, Bob the Horse. btw.
We boarded our sleigh and got ready for our little adventure. It works out great that it seats four because there are four of us and strangers freak me out.
The sleigh ride was so nice. It was a little drizzly, which was a bummer but in terms of things I can’t control without the help of witchcraft, the ride was perfect.
It was hard to take pictures as we were moving, but these campers take their decorating seriously.
I wish I could have gotten better pics but it was really difficult being that we didn’t stop moving. We did drive by this one campsite that was putting up a giant Cinderella Castle.
Our driver told us those specific campers do this every year. Which is impressive considering they only stay there for a few weeks tops. He also told us there actually are permanent campers there that pay a daily rate. Which is both awesome and crazy.
During the ride, our driver told us a bunch of facts about Fort Wilderness, we talked some Disney, and even sang some Christmas carols (our driver even joined in.) Seriously, I HIGHLY recommend this sleigh ride. The whole sleigh is only $84, which is a bargain by Disney standards.
And at the end of the ride, they even give you an exclusive pin to commemorate the experience.
After the sleigh ride, we still had a little bit of time before our dinner reservation so it was back to the porch. And the beer.
Soon it was time for dinner. And for her birthday dinner, Nickie picked the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue! A favorite of ours, Hoop Dee Doo is an all-you-eat and oft times more importantly an all-you-can-drink (beer and sangria) dinner theater type thing. The food is always delicious and the show is crazy fun. Lots of music and audience participation, with a strong air of Vaudeville.
We had seats in Category 1 a table back from the stage. Double excite. While we have been to Hoop-Dee-Doo before, we had never experienced it during the holidays. The place looked hella-festive.
They sat us and our waitress started us off with some salad.
Soon enough, we heard the piano and banjo start.
Which meant it was showtime.
And then came the main course. We had fried chicken…
Everything was as tasty as we remembered it. That fried chicken is bomb and the ribs are also quite good.
And like I said, we had never been here for the holidays so in addition to their normal show, they also sang Christmas songs.
Soon enough, they sang my favorite song though. The one about strawberry shortcake. It’s my favorite because it means we get strawberry shortcake.
Of course, there was a good deal of audience participation. At one point, they came over and wished Nickie a happy birthday with a song about how people from Massachusetts are drunk. It was a little too “on the nose” for me, but still fun.
The kids got in on the act as well.
The show ended with all the performers singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” It was once again a great show and dinner. Hoop-Dee-Doo is something every Walt Disney World fan should do at least once.
We left Pioneer Hall and ordered up a Minnie Van. It was still a little tough to find where to grab the van. We had to walk down this dark path and through this field. We always love visiting Fort WIlderness but getting around seems like a chore there. Our path did took us through some stables where we saw these beautiful white horses.
What an insanely fun day. I hope Nickie thought so too and had a deservedly amazing birthday. She does so much for us, including the bulk of planning these trips. I hope she felt appreciated. On account of she is.
And that’s Day 11. Stay tuned for Day 12, in which we are joined by more people we love. So THAT’S something to look forward to.