Welp, this is it you guys.
We made it. The last post in the series chronicling our longest Walt Disney World vacation ever.
Can you believe it?
I gotta be honest with you. I wasn’t 100% on us making it here. 14 posts chronicling 16 days at Walt Disney World was quite an undertaking. I mean, there are only so many Disney-related puns and jokes about the PeopleMover I have in me.
I know. It probably doesn’t seem like that big a deal to you guys. It’s not like I was curing COVID or like designing a new city or something. They’re just blog posts, right?
But regardless of how incredible I am and whether you see that or not, here we go. The last post. The big finale. The last hurrah.
The…ugh, I’m out of colorful ways to say “this is the last post.”
Day 15 – Our last full day at Walt Disney World!
By Day 15, we could all tell we were feeling the effects of 2 weeks of straight Disney. Our day began well after 8 and when I say “our,” I actually mean “Mine and Nickie’s” since the boys were having no part of being up before 9AM.
The plan for this morning was to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom. So Nickie and I decided to head there sans kids for now with the idea to meet up a little later.
The two of us were ready and out the door by 8:45. On our way to the car, we stopped at BoardWalk Bakery to refill our mugs and grab some almond croissants for the road.
We were in the car line for Animal Kingdom by 9AM…
…and in the park by 9:50 AM.
And then we…
Wait. Is that right? We were in line at 9AM and in the park by close to 10?
That can’t be correct. Oh wait. That’s right. We parked our car literally on the other side of the world from the park entrance. I am pretty sure we were in the back row of the Itchy lot.
But whatever. We were at Animal Kingdom!
Oh beeteedubz. Day 15 was HAWT. I think it was up over 90 degrees and humid AF. But you know – last day and all so we braved that Florida heat. I know. We are the true legends.
And since it was our last full day at Walt Disney World, the hours in which I could make use of my $2.00 popcorn bucket refills were fleeting. And if I am one thing, it’s always hungry. And if I am two things? It’s cheap and always hungry.
So…10AM popcorn it is.
Yeah, I know. That’s not technically a popcorn bucket. But it was a refill. Disney World allows you to get your refills in a box like this so that you don’t get popcorn all over the refillable bucket. The refillable popcorn bucket.
Right. It’s insanity. I see that now.
But the popcorn was certainly welcome because we had a 30-minute wait for our first attraction of the day – Kilimanjaro Safaris!
It’s crazy this was our last day AND our second day at Animal Kingdom this trip, but this was our first safari of the trip. But we were ready to hit the savannah.
And those who have been reading this blog for a while know what that means….
SAFARI PICTURE STAMPEDE!!!!
I’ll see you on the other side.
While we were looking at the cute and/or ferocious animals, Myles, Owen, and Liam made their way to the park. And while I know it feels like we only had breakfast a few paragraphs ago, it was actually getting close to lunchtime. So we told the boys we would meet them for lunch.
Because. It was lunchtime.
Come on. Keep up.
On our way to meet up with the boys, look who was coming just around the riverbend.
Get it? Just around the riverbend? Because of the song? Just Around the Riverbend?
For lunch today, we decided on one of my favorite counter service spots in Animal Kingdom – Satu’li Canteen, the counter service location in Pandora – the World of Avatar.
Look, let’s just get this out of the way and move past it. It was the last day. We were all tired. And well, that exhaustion had gotten to me. We got to the restaurant, everyone ordered their food, and the boys left us up at the counter to grab the food while they grabbed a table.
When we got to the table, after carrying all the food and drinks, there were only 4 seats at the table the boys secured. Even though there were chairs around for them to grab and bring over. They were sitting there, on their phones, after we had brought all the food over, with no seats for us.
And well….I got mad, raised my voice a little, and I feel shame for this.
So the main draw for me at Satu’li are the Bowls. You can choose a protein, base and side to create your own little masterpiece. I went with Combination Bowl (Slow-Roasted Sliced Grilled Beef marinated in a blend of Garlic, Herbs, Red Pepper Spice and Red Wine Vinegar, paired with Wood-Grilled Chicken Thighs marinated in Garlic and Olive Oil, topped with crunchy Vegetable Slaw and Boba Balls served with your choice of Base and Sauce.)
I went with the Creamy Herb Dressing as my sauce and the Lo Mein Noodles as my base.
And I paired the whole thing with a Mo’ara High Country Ale.
It was a delicious meal and by Disney standards, it always feels a little healthier than most of what I eat when I am at the parks. I’m looking at you, beef fat candle.
So yeah, a tasty and healthier option.
And I couldn’t let that stand. So I of course got some dessert as well. And the dessert here is one of my absolute faves – the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse (Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse with Passion Fruit Curd).
Super pretty, right? Well thing is also delicious. It has all the ingredients of a pretty perfect dessert, no? Blueberry? Cream Cheese? Mousse? Passion Fruit? CURD???
After lunch, we decided to split up as Myles and Owen really wanted to get Liam on Flight of Passage and since I had already ridden it this trip, waiting in a multi-hour line didn’t appeal to me as much as getting a post-lunch cocktail.
So we said goodbye to the boys for now and Nickie and I headed to the Nomad Lounge & Cocktail Bar, which is another favorite. And it is hella-pretty in there.
And I know what you’re thinking.
You’re thinking, “oh cool, do you have any more pictures of how pretty is in there?”
To which I would answer, “No. Mad?”
And this answer would distract you long enough for me to run away.
When we arrived, the host outside told us they weren’t seating anyone inside right now as they had hit capacity. But, thankfully, they did have to-go cocktails. Which is really great for the multitasking alcoholic.
I ordered the Tempting Tigress (Russell’s Reserve 10yr Bourbon, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, Tamarind Syrup, and Lime Juice) and Nickie got the Lamu Libation (Starr African Rum, Cruzan Banana Rum, and Guava Purée with Orange, Lime, and Pineapple Juices topped with Gosling’s 151 Rum).
Both drinks were yummy and they were the fuel we needed for the next part of our Animal Kingdom adventure – The Maharaja Jungle Trek!
I wanted to see some tigers, man. And according to the signs, we were in the right place.
So yeah, let’s see some tigers!
Well, first actually. Look.
Oh and I always have to stop and see the giant bats when I visit the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
No no…giant bats. Like flying bats. Like thwip thwip thwip. With the flying and the rabies and the vampires.
Come on, man.
No? You can’t see the bat? Oh well, look in this picture.
Well, I swear. There’s a bat there.
But whatever. I mean, the ONLY reason to really visit this Jungle Trek is to see the tigers, right? So let’s get our tiger on.
Nickie and I turned the corner, excited to see some big ol’ striped cats and BAM, check it out!
Yeah. No tigers. Nothing. Nowhere.
I asked the cast member and he said he hadn’t seem them out for hours, most likely due to the oppressive heat.
So I mean, that’s a bummer, right? We really wanted to see some tigers. And it turns out they won’t refund the cost of your entire trip if something like this happens.
Like, just in case you were gonna ask for such a thing.
I mean. I wouldn’t.
But beyond the tigers, I suppose the walk was still nice.
It is a pretty cool-looking walk-through. But I mean, with no tigers, it better be grrrrrreat.
There were also deer (which, in fact, are NOT tigers).
And a whole section with birds (which, again, last time I checked, were NOT! tigers.)
Yeah I mean, I am not bitter at all about this whole lack-of-tiger thing. What makes you say that? Maybe you’re projecting because YOU are the one who is upset about this whole tiger situation. You ever think of that? Maybe you’re the one that stormed off into a dark corner of Animal Kingdom and cried a good cry before slapping yourself in the face, screaming at yourself, “get it together Wayne!” er…I mean…”get it together whoever-you-are!”
After we finished our tigerless trek, we met back up with the boys because we had to head out. We had some business to attend to. You see, we were all heading home the next day and pretty much immediately after that, Liam was heading to a month-long architecture camp thing and he needed to get a COVID test beforehand.
So we had made an appointment for this afternoon at a local pharmacy for a drive thru test and that appointment was coming up.
The pharmacy was about 10-15 minutes away from the park. We arrived there at around 2PM, pulled up to the drive thru window, and the pharmacist passed the kit through the little drawer. And then Liam got to it.
And yeah, one picture of the Nomad Lounge. But I photo-chronicled the entire COVID test procedure.
We got the results a little bit later but eh, I can tell you guys now. It was good news. Liam was in fact NOT pregnant.
Wait. Sorry. I got my days mixed up. He did not have COVID. Which was good news. Obvs squad.
As I said before, today was HOT so the plan for the next few hours was to get some pool time in. We drove back to the BoardWalk, got our suits on, and went to the main Lunar Park pool.
But being that it was so hot, chairs were a bit hard to come by. So we walked over to the quiet pool instead.
And the nice thing about this pool is that it’s very close to our room, which meant we could grab some Bud Lights.
Which are beers. And we like beers.
We spent about an hour or so out at the pool. Swimming. Talking. Laughing. We brought out the football for a little bit too. Was a real nice way to spend the afternoon.
We even saw a hidden Mickey in the sky.
If you squint.
At around 5PM, they started a campfire and marshmallows off to the right of the pool. And being both a pyromaniac and an overeater, I found this especially appealing.
There were two cast members helping out, handing out sticks and bags of marshmallows. But still, eh. Liam was obviously having a hard time.
Burnt mallow or not though, we did have a good time.
After we finished up with our mallows and fire and burning mallows in the fire, we all went back to the room to get ready for dinner.
And dinner tonight? It was at Disney Springs!
We were in the Springs by 6:30 and our reservation for dinner wasn’t until after 8PM so we had some time to kill. And one of the best places to kill some time in Disney Springs is at the Coca-Cola Rooftop Beverage Bar.
The kids ordered some floats – Myles and Owen got root beer, I believe. And Liam ordered an Orange Cream Float (Coca-Cola, orange cream bar, & vanilla ice cream.)
Nickie ordered a Cuba Libre and I got a Cherry Coke Ripper (Cherry Coke, Malibu Rum and Cherry Whiskey).
That Cherry Ripper situation? Amazetown btw. Highly recommend.
Soon enough, it was dinner time. Dinner tonight was at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’.
And tonight, super exciting news-time! Because the Hills were meeting us for dinner.
I know. That joke? Never going away.
But yeah, the Hills (Eric, Missy, and Olivia) are our friends. And while dinner is always something I look forward to, dinner with friends is something I even morer look forward to.
While we were waiting for our table, I walked up to the bar to grab some drinks for the crowd.
I legitimately have no idea what was in that cup. Sorry. I know. But I mean, I have been writing these posts for like 5 months. Get off my case.
I had a seat of great honor, being seated next to Olivia.
And she was playing some type of phone game called Toca Life World while we were waiting. And in her game, she created characters resembling all of us. Even me. I am up there with the scissors and hairdryer.
Which I feel she did ironically on account of my ever-increasing baldness. She cuts me to the core, that Olivia.
For our meal, we started with some appetizers.
We got the Bunch of Puppies (House-made hushpuppies served with pimento cheese and red jalapeño jelly).
The Bee Haven Bay Fried Green Tomatoes (with Shaved ham, rémoulade sauce, and dressed local greens.)
And of course – the always-incredible Church Lady Devilled Eggs.
All were delicious, but those deviled eggs continue to be an appetizer I dream about.
And of course, the company outshone every dish.
There was also some live music going on throughout the meal, which always makes a good meal even better.
And the kids did make some requests but, oddly, the dude didn’t know any Vampire Weekend OR Wu-Tang Clan.
I didn’t snag pictures of EVERYONE’S meal, but I did manage to get a couple pictures beyond my own dish. Like Nickie’s appetizer-as-entrée Thigh High Chicken Biscuits (Three biscuits topped with Chef Art’s famous fried chicken thighs and bread and butter pickles. Drizzled with hot honey).
And the Fried Chicken & Doughnuts (Two pieces of Chef Art Smith’s famous fried chicken served with house-made sugar doughnuts and choice of side item) Myles and Liam split.
Both of which I have had before and I can attest to their delectability.
But tonight, I ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich (Buttermilk-brined for 24 hours and hand-battered, dressed with hot sauce, aioli, iceberg lettuce, tomato and bread and butter pickles) with a side of Momma’s Mac and Cheese.
SO good, you guys. That piece of chicken was all kinds of yum with the crispy and the hot sauce and the what not. And that mac and cheese. Oof, always get the mac and cheese as a side here.
Like if someone says to you, “you want fries with that,” you slap them straight in the mouth and like, whisper…but whisper you know aggressively, “Mac. And. Cheese.” Like, let them know you mean business without exhausting too much energy.
Even though Homecomin’ does offer some pretty amazeface desserts, we skipped because we had something more legen…
..dary planned to top off the night.
We were going to Gideon’s Bakehouse!
Which, to anyone paying attention to anything Disney food related, is a big deal. But for those that aren’t spending their spare time reading Disney Food Blog or don’t consider reading Disney menus “light reading,” let me explain.
Gideon’s cookies are kind of a big deal in Disney Springs. The cookies used to be brought in from their original location in Orlando and offered as a snack at the Polite Pig but due to their sheer awesomeness, would sell out almost as quickly as they were stocked.
Sooooo…naturally, Gideon’s opened up another location in Disney Springs. Buttttt….even this became a tough get as people would line up and wait for hours just to get a cookie. So, they instituted a virtual waitlist in addition to their standby line so that people could put their names in and then still tend to other Disney Springs business like public drinking and Drey-C.
And that is what we did on this day, my friends. I put our names in before dinner and, as luck would have it, I got the text that we could enter just as we were settling the bill.
So all of us walked over to Gideon’s and were ushered inside.
The whole vibe of Gideon’s is pretty great in there. All like gothy Victorian and what not.
It’s like creepy. But you know. That fun sort of creepy. Like The Addams Family. Or Harry Potter. Or those kitty litter commercials where the cats are like cowboys and they act all weirdly human and it makes no sense but you still feel like its kind of funny but not like ha-ha funny.
But enough with the décor, right? We came here for cookies.
Look at all that glorious cookie. We ended up getting like at least one of each flavor. I don’t even remember how much it all cost. I think I was cookie-drunk.
It’s a thing.
And yeah, it was our last night but we wanted to bring some home with us as well.
Those cookies were definitely some of the best cookies I have ever had. I think, honestly, the chocolate chip was a favorite though the peanut butter chip one was a very close second.
And speaking of peanut butter, Missy and I also each got a Peanut Butter Cold Brew Coffee.
And whoa boy. This coffee. I just. The words. I don’t have them.
Like, I have had peanut butter flavored coffees before and they’re fine and whatever. But this thing had such an authentic peanut butter taste to it. It was like nothing I’ve ever had before. Imagine if someone was able to make actual peanut butter refreshing. I dunno. It was an experience. And I would go back to Gideon’s just for that, even if they were out of cookies.
Unfortunately, after Gideon’s, we had to say our goodbyes to the Hills. Which was, of course, SadTown. We were lucky this trip because we got to spend so much time with Missy, Eric, and Olivia. And yeah, saying goodbye to them was merp but they’ve become such a staple of our Disney vacations, we always know it won’t be too long before we see them again.
After we said our goodbyes, the five of us hit up World of Disney to do our last bit of souvenir shopping.
Because, you know, we still had some money left in our bank account.
We ended up leaving Disney Springs close to midnight and were back in our room by 12:30AM and in bed probably by 1AM or so.
Which wasn’t the smartest thing.
Day 16 – Departure Day!
…we were up extremely early on Day 16. Our alarm was set for like 3:30AM because we needed to have enough time to make our early flight after getting the rental car returned and Liam all set up (he was on a different flight than us.)
So yeah, like 2 1/2 hours sleep. Good. Times.
We brought our bags down and realized quickly all of us and our bags would not fit in our tiny clown car so Nickie and Owen called an Uber to bring them to the airport while I took Myles and Liam in the car. We were on the road by 4:00 AM. Our first stop was the rental car drop-off and then we took Liam to his security line to make sure he was all set for his 8:45AM flight.
Myles and I then found Nickie and Owen in the other terminal and we made our way through security and to our gate by quarter of six.
First order of business was breakfast and options were crazy slim. In that Burger King was the only option.
So like, rull slim.
Myles came with me to get breakfast for the crew. I mean, not the flight crew or anything. I mean my family. Figure of speech.
And the due-to-COVID procedure was pretty nuts at this Burger King. They weren’t allowing customers to place orders at the counter. Instead, you had to make your order on the self-service kiosk and then wait for your order number to be called by the sole BK employee working the counter.
It was a pretty time-consuming process. The line was ginormous, again due to it being the only option available. And it moved INSANELY slow. Mainly due to..erm…technologically-challenged customers that apparently had never used a touchscreen before.
The full experience from placing order to receiving our food took close to an hour. And by the time Myles and I were back at the gate, they were already boarding for our 7AM flight so we had to “enjoy” our airport BK breakfast on the plane.
Our flight took 3 hours or so to touch down in Boston and I guess I took no pictures beyond my BK Café while on the plane. So I am assuming I spent most of that flight sleeping? I don’t know, man. 2.5 hours of sleep made the whole process kind of a blur.
But yeah, we landed in Boston at around 10AM, got our bags together, grabbed an Uber, and were home by 10:45.
And look who missed us!
We unpacked and I, of course, took my standard “look at all of our shizz” picture.
And I mean, that’s it you guys. The longest Walt Disney World trip we have ever taken. And what a trip it was. We made so many amazing memories and had more fun than one has any business having.
Thank you all for following along with me. I hope you enjoyed all the posts. And thank you to everyone that joined us throughout this trip IRL as well – Missy, Eric, Olivia, Jeff, Shannon, Kayce, Bella, Lani, and Liam. We had so much fun with each and every one of you. And a special thanks to my boys for continuing to be two of my favorite travel partners. I really hope you guys never get sick of going away with your parents because I know we won’t ever get sick of going away with you guys.
And of course, a GIANT thank you to Nickie for once again putting in so much work to ensure our vacation is a magical as it can be. You make every day of my life better just by being in it and I can’t imagine how lame our vacations would be without your planning and expertise.
So yeah, thanks everyone! It’s been quite a ride.
Last post – Day 14