Disney World Trip Report (Sept. 2022)

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Jabroniville
Posts: 21601
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:05 pm

Disney World Trip Report (Sept. 2022)

Post by Jabroniville »

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Might as well start this off with a pic someone took of me, haha.

Hey all! I'm ready for my 3-4th Trip Report here, having just returned from Florida.

I'll make this first post a placeholder, but sum up the Best & Worst right away:

The Best:
* The Festival of Fantasy & Magical Friendship Faires are back! Oh how I'd missed these.
* Having a fantastic conversation and interaction with the family of one of the character performers in the Friendship Faire, then having the character acknowledge me on a later show.
* Character Meet & Greets (having a long trip and going multiple times meant I got recognized, lol). Princesses have been so hug-starved they've started doing it un-prompted, which surprised me as a solitary male guest (who certainly doesn't expect princess hugs, lol)!
* The WiFi has actually IMPROVED! Like it's actually lightning-fast in spots and doesn't cut out as badly! Keep in mind it was straight-up awful from 2014-21 at least with tons of dead zones.
* Tons of great conversations with Cast Members, all of whom are fans of Wicked & A Goofy Movie (most of the t-shirts I wore, lol)
* Things feel a bit more like the "parks of old" with more staff and extended hours. Though people I know tell me that management is as toxic as ever and morale is in the toilet. At least I couldn't SEE that this time around... though CMs are way more open in talking with guests about how bad it can be.
* Helping a dude propose. But seriously folks, give people some warning before you get them to document this important moment, lol.

The Worst:
* Florida weather suuuuuuuuuuuuucks. I knew it was gonna be bad but even then the sheer heat/humidity/sun mixed with torrential downpours made me not wanna go in September ever again. And I barely missed a hurricane!
* Endless 6-7 am wakeup calls to make the "Early Morning Magic". I miss the "late hours" a lot, lol.
* Having my phone constantly near-death in battery power (not Disney's fault... mostly) even with my portable charger. I should've just brought two.


Previous Trip Reports:
https://www.disboards.com/threads/jabs- ... 1.3751617/ (Spring 2019)
https://www.disboards.com/threads/d...t ... w.3860600/ (Nov. 7-16 in 2021)
https://www.disboards.com/threads/tokyo ... t.3803602/ (Tokyo Disneyland in 2015)
Jabroniville
Posts: 21601
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:05 pm

The Planning

Post by Jabroniville »

THE PLANNING:

Okay, so!

As a Canadian, WDW trips are somewhat tricky but I'm not a veteran and can manage them, though the cost keeps me from making it a super-regular thing.

In 2019, I wasn't feeling great and went on a WDW trip I'd impulsively set down 6 months earlier. I had an AMAZING time and learned that Meet & Greets were great fun regardless of your age, and so I instantly made plans to made WDW trips a yearly thing!

Then 2020 happened- the parks closed the week I was set to go and I spent the next year+ wondering when Canadians like me could travel to the US, or when park hours would be elevated. In the meantime I watched as tons of CMs were let go (I follow several on IG and other sites), including my fave Elsa. With things up in the air, I finally made a Nov. 2021 trip and had a great time, albeit in parks that were open a mere 10-12 hours and with distancing and masks indoors. But I was all set to renew my "yearly trip" thing!

This trip was done less impulsively than in 2021- I'd wanted to go in fall, hoping for quieter crowds (2021 was NUTS; "revenge travel" had jam-packed the parks and there were less CMs to go around), but was maybe gonna wait for spring... but it was suggested that September was among the most reliable "dead times" of year. So I made plans a couple of months ago and was set! This turned out to be an ideal time for crowds, though the weather stank a bit and I probably will go for Spring from now on again.

I was delighted to find out a week before arrival that the park hours had increased! They'd merely had "placeholder" hours on the schedule before, and now we had things like MK being open from 8-11 every day! Given I'm a crazy person who does "coast to coast" when I'm on vacation to maximize time, this was ideal.

My trip was also incredibly long- maybe my longest yet. 10 days overall- Disney Springs, 5 MK days, 2 Epcot days, and one each in the other two parks. I went with Air Canada over WestJet this time around because oddly AC is now slightly cheaper and had times I preferred (and I never really liked flying with WJ- too cramped and poor luggage services). I know they'd been filling more CM roles (though CMs told me that morale was at an all-time low and everyone was over-tired and overworked). But I'd wanted to spread myself around as long as possible to ensure I could do everything (I'd missed out on a bit in 2021, despite having tons of time), and see things I'd missed in the prior year, such as the Magical Friendship Faire & Festival of Fantasy parade!
Jabroniville
Posts: 21601
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:05 pm

Re: Disney World Trip Report (Sept. 2022)

Post by Jabroniville »

THE TRIP THERE:
So air travel still stinks, especially from Canada to the US, as Toronto's awful Pearson Airport is usually the only transfer point.

So having gone with Air Canada, I had some weird flights- a mid-afternoon jaunt to Toronto, arriving around midnight, followed by a 7 am flight the next morning! So I'd be left in an airport overnight, which wasn't a new thing but still not ideal. Better than a quick layover given how Pearson airport is, though.

It was here that I realized my plan to watch movies or a documentary was ruined by the fact that one of my headphones had broken off and I was too cheap to pay for the ones they sold on the plane. And only after like 3.5 hours of flying did I discover they had video games I could have filled time with instead of just sitting there half-sleeping, haha.

Arrival at Pearson:
Entertainingly enough, on the same flight was a fellow Disney nerd and YouTuber, and we were both going the same route to Orlando! Aaaaaaaaand realized that the "Connections" line was closed at night. Despite arrow after arrow leading there, we arrived at a gate blocked off by a rope, and then had to grab a passing worker who got a security person who told us they close the Connections gates entirely at midnight and so we'd have to get to the regular "international passengers" line in the morning.

So we talked about Disney stuff & hidden Mickeys and such for hours (I wasn't much of an "airport sleeper") and FINALLY went to the gate... and of course that was the Nexus "regular fliers" gate and so instead of being super-early and first in line we were behind 30 minutes of people in the normal line, lol. So despite having been in the airport for hours upon hours we'd been beaten to the gates by people who'd just arrived! To be fair, when we got there it was incredibly dark and EVERYTHING was blocked off and there was zero staff around, and the area with all the chairs for resting was far apart from the gate we were meant to get to, so we'd missed everything.

So after waiting for eons, we BOTH ended up having our bags flagged as "Unchecked" or something by security, who sent us in some random direction... we both thankfully found out where we had to go because there was a passing worker... oh, and it turned out it was too early for the people at those desks to have started, so we had to wait another twenty minutes! But another "random passing worker" (I wonder how many people who work at airports just slowly walk from room to room) told us "Don't worry- you won't miss your flights" and finally some workers started their shifts and were like "Okay, what's your name? Okay, now your bag is okay!" with the push of a button. WHY COULD ONLY THESE PEOPLE DO THIS, LOL?!?

The security guy (who thankfully informed me I should go back to see him directly) told me that likely some airport worker just didn't scan my bag, and that was the issue. "Otherwise they wouldn't have transferred your bag and you'd lose your luggage". Eventually me and the 4-5 people in line behind me all got this sorted out.

So despite my monster head start, I had to basically grab breakfast with less than an hour to go for the connecting flight, choosing one of those "place your order on an iPad" restaurants that's really just two women working a grill and one waiting tables. And I think I got over-charged because I either accidentally asked for cheese baked in my omelette or they assumed I asked for it but I didn't realize until it was too late and my plane was leaving soon, lol.

Thankfully I don't have an issue sleeping on airplanes so I slept on THIS one, and got my bag in Orlando with no issue (aside from a short wait, which was unusual; in 2019 when I took too long at a shop the WestJet people actually tossed my bag onto the Magical Express without me and I was without it for the day so had to do without amenities or a change in clothes and was stuck in a long-sleeved button-up shirt in Florida springtime, lol).

Arrival in Florida:
I got onto the Mears shuttle without issue (thankfully I'd checked literally the day before I left and realized I'd scheduled my pickup for the day my FIRST plane left, not when my second plane arrived, and was able to fix this on their website within 24 hours with no extra charge) and me and the same guy ended up at the same resort, haha. This time I went with All-Star Movies- I was usually a Pop/Art of Animation guy, but a desire for lower prices (these had a Disney+ discount active) and a less jam-packed resort drew me there.

Next Up: Day One (Disney Springs)!
Jabroniville
Posts: 21601
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:05 pm

Disney Springs

Post by Jabroniville »

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My glamorous hotel room! Thankfully I remembered to get dressed before I took the picture.

DISNEY SPRINGS:

Okay, so my standard "thing to do" when I arrive in Florida is to go to Disney Springs- it's a good use of half a day. This is easily the most time I've had before it closes, as I got to Florida right around noon. My room was ready while I was standing at the concierge area shuffling my bags around, and I was off! Rare opportunity to shower & junk before I go. I had a dinner reservation, but not for hours.

The Springs is same as it was since 2019, mostly. I'm better at traversing it now, so it's "old hat". Thankfully World of Disney no longer has a singular entrance (due to COVID) way on the other end of the building. I did notice a HUGE drop in Disney Princess merchandise this time around. I brought it up with a couple of staffers who were themselves shocked- even the old poster boards with each princess on them were gone, and dolls were in short supply. I theorized that Mattel getting the license back has meant they're no longer producing these so numbers are running short, and the staffers were like "Maybe it's because Bibbiti-Bobbiti-Boutique opened up again" and that drew away their merch. It's very weird, though- one girl even felt it was sad that such a signature line is so diminished right now.

I ended up at Earl of Sandwich for lunch... tragically there's no beef dip/au jous this time around! I settled for whatever other roast beef thing there was, and thankfully ordered at the right booth this time (last year I asked at the cashier desk and got the "... SIR..." response as I was supposed to do that at an "ordering" booth, haha).

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Some of the only really nice-looking new merch I saw. I love that they can interact on pictures now (this was a big moment for the fandom). Tiana is just getting SKOOSHED.

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The two posters I got.

Not really much new merchandise as far as I could see. Trend-D and their semi-hidden art gallery (it's in one alcove of a large, multi-pathway building) had some new stuff. I got two Ariel posters- one of which was apparently there last year (judging by my old pics). Oddly very little super-new stuff even there (it used to be a reliable source of stuff to destroy my wallet). Granted, it's been only 10 months since my last trip.

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For the first time, I bought one of the "Disney Artists" things. I actually had to ask a couple of times to ensure that I didn't have to buy the stand that came with it, as the artist & attendant were busy chatting, lol. But hooray- Elsa drawing! I talked to the artist before & after, and she talked about how funny it is they're mostly the same price even though some characters are way easier than others (imagine drawing the big, poofy Baymax and then Sofia the First, who has dozens of tiny beads on her dress). Her technique is terrific, though- she holds the pencil WAY far back yet still maintains control.

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This Cinderella statue has become a meme. "No wonder he didn't recognize her by her face...". It's more obvious what this is in person (it's just her dress having sewn-off sections to appear poofier), but it's still hilarious XD.

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The horrifying before and after as I demolish the evil sea bug. Apparently most people leave out the green stuff.

PADDLEFISH:

So for whatever reason, Paddlefish is usually my "go to" restaurant here. The websites are like "ugh, ignore it" but my landlocked butt ain't used to good seafood, so I usually try to get crab & stuff from here. The meals are HUGE and it's fun to splurge once in a while (he says, doing so four times on this trip). Alas, they STILL haven't brought back the crab boil (like someone took the Burns Omni-Net from The Simpsons and emptied it into a tub of butter), so I finally decided to do a first-time thing: eat a whole dang lobster.

Now this is 100 times easier to do by hand, as it turns out- I struggled with bits of it with the little nutcracker but it's just way easier to pull it apart like a ravenous beast and use the forks to pick things out. The tail/body especially can be easily yanked apart that way. I thankfully asked for more butter (last time I had crab legs and didn't think to, and it hardened up a bit). The green stuff (liver, apparently) is something apparently a lot of people skip, as it looks like... well, green sludge. It tastes just like the rest, but a bit sharper and more intense. I left out the black stuff because it looked REALLY ugly, haha. Even I have my limits!

It's pretty spectacular to eat a whole freakin' lobster, but I am uncertain of coming back here. There are some other dining options here, but some are a tad controversial or iffy with folks. Part of me adores T-REX & The Rainforest Cafe, as they're spectacularly noisy and themed like a true Disney eatery should be! But the food is never anything more than mediocre according to literally everybody, and I'd be there by myself so there's no kid around to revel in the noise and scenery.

Raglan Road always seems fun with the dancers and everything (all the guys I know love that one, haha), so I might try that. The clambake place has great scenery (I love the boat and the big "clam bar"). From CM social media I follow and a few I talk to online, apparently Splitsville, Hard Rock Cafe (at Universal), Miller's Ale House and other places are the CM hangouts, probably because they're cheaper and more casual. I'd imagine half the customer population of the Springs is off-duty CMs, though- it's 20-30 minutes from the usual small towns surrounding Orlando like Winter Garden and such, which otherwise have very little in them.

The Rest of the Springs:
-Since I had literally hours here (something like 8-9- way more than normal) I checked out a lot of stuff and dug the atmosphere, crossing the whole thing several times. The movie theater appears to be a standby for locals and CMs. The fancy newer ice cream shop is pretty good (I went with Salt & Straw this time- more "Craft" ice cream over the "Sprinkles" shop, which I did last time). The Marvel shop is now more themed around Thor: Love & Thunder and other new releases instead of "Eternals" (which was hot last year). The Star Wars shop had someone controlling the BB-8 with their controller hidden behind their back- I think that was done last year, too.

I did laugh at their current Limited Edition pins, because somehow they printed them all on backings which said "Limeted Edition" in big letters. YOU HAD ONE JOB. I got one of Max Goof as Powerline serenading Roxanne.

Overall another solid night at the Springs. I've only ever had one disappointment (2014 during mass construction & walls; with restaurants all fully booked so I couldn't eat ANYTHING). I'm old hat at this now and always have reservations ahead of time... but I'm looking at other options here now. Since Epcot closed at 9 one day I actually popped right back to the Springs and bought another couple of things and enjoyed the outdoor scenery again. And tried another ice cream place (the gelato one that's kinda hidden around one corner).
Jabroniville
Posts: 21601
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:05 pm

Day One (Epcot)

Post by Jabroniville »

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DAY ONE (EPCOT):

-So Epcot went from "hey, this is pretty cool- lots of stuff to see" to "OMG Best Park Ever!" between 2014-19 to me, but "Wallcot" in 2021 was pretty bad... seeing huge walls everywhere, blocking off everything and making it hard to see or even find things is a lot less fun. So in 2021 I got kinda bored of Epcot, having set my first TWO days in the parks there, and so I regretted that and split them up considerably this time around. I still love Frozen, and I'd missed two whole years at the parks thanks to Covid, but even then I'd remembered the ride enough that it didn't quite hit the same way.

The sheer size and scope of Epcot is always an issue. I wanted to visit the characters and see various countries' stuff, but it's all a mile from World Discovery/Future World/Whatever and so I largely stuck to one side of the parks the whole time. In fact, I didn't even do Figment, Test Track, Mission: Space (which I found a lot less fun last time), The American Adventure, or Living With The Land this time around- by the time I was done doing World Showcase, there was usually not that much time left. I even failed to check out the Mexico Pavilion- I wanted to but literally just ran out of time. Given how much time I had at these parks that's kinda silly, but I just kept putting it off!

Some of the pavilions are kinda funny- Germany & Italy are really just "shops" with some extra scenery. Many are still manned by generic Epcot staff- Norway and a few others had legit representatives of those countries but I still saw the "Generic Epcot Shirt" a lot. One lady in the mask shop at Italy (a very cool-looking place) was telling her coworker the story about how her ex-husband was an alcoholic who cheated on her and drank himself to death. Many places I like to hang around a bit more but there's usually something to go to or a line to get in.

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Five violins in the Anna & Elsa Meet & Greet, which represent the five major characters. Also a picture of them as girls with their parents, and the three-headed troll inspired by the "Maelstrom" ride.

Norway's grass-covered roofs look as good as ever... I honestly forget if I ever checked these out or noticed them last time, but they're neat. I actually missed out on going to the stave church this time.

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Either iPhones just suck at taking pictures with lights in them or I have no idea how to make iPhones do this right.

This week, the parks were actually not busy AT ALL compared to many times I've gone... last year's revenge travel meant I had a hard time doing repeat rides, but this time I rode Frozen Ever After literally 3-4 times in a row without any difficulty until the lines picked up (there were times in 2021 I actually hit a 40-minute wait even at rope-drop!). Then I had a LL for 9:40. Sadly that time Kristoff & Anna had their faces frozen when they did their spiel. Bizarrely, when I got in line for the very last FEA ride of the day right before park closing... Elsa was SILENT! She literally did her full animatronic display and moved her mouth, but the SONG DIDN'T PLAY! Truly bizarre and everyone in the boat laughed. Never seen THAT before or since (there's a hilarious YouTube video of an Elsa just staring at the boat and then silently pushing it aside while everyone LOLs).

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Remy's Ratatouille Adventure was brand-new last year, and had both requirements for getting in line AT ALL (a reservation was needed) and a paid "extra" to get in... thankfully I'd done it in Paris as well, so it wasn't a huge deal. This time it appears the bloom is off the rose and it's just a standard "long line" attraction. It & Frozen being on opposite ends of the World Showcase probably help the lines. I rode it twice on each visit, more or less (on my last day it broke).

The Japan Pavilion is always my favorite- the jumbo-sized Mitsukoshi store is a highlight of the area, looking fantastic and having great stuff inside- as a big Japanophile it was always fun to visit... this time, however, it's under construction. The front entrance is closed, the bit with the oysters has been closed since 2020, and even the kimono section is roped off and empty! There's a few interesting books there, but they lack a lot of the cool books they had even a year ago, likely due to the construction/issues getting stuff from Japan.

The main "sit-down" meal I had was at the American pavilion, which I'd learned to like last time. Solid serving sizes and tons of sauces for ribs and what-not. Still too dang expensive, but that's everything. It didn't seem as great this time around, but it's a pretty quick meal.
Jabroniville
Posts: 21601
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:05 pm

GOTG- Cosmic Rewind

Post by Jabroniville »

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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY- COSMIC REWIND:
-I got the "imaginary spot in line" reservation for this one at 7am, and had an early afternoon ride. The outside of the building has a fantastic photo-op with the huge Nova Corps. spacecraft at full-size. The queue here is legitimately VERY good, but horrifyingly long- they are expecting this one to last for AGES. I actually had to let people past me so I could see more of the stuff about Xandar. This actually puts a fine point on how odd it was that it played zero role in GOTG 2. Here, we see Glenn Close again, and now Terry Crews plays our main ambassador to the Nova Corps. You actually go through a huge winding room with little in it, then a winding queue featuring a mock-up of Xandar's capital, a miniature Corps. ship, and a viewscreen where they narrate stuff about Xandar itself- they're expecting people to be here for a WHILE when the Virtual Queue stops being a thing. As of right now the queue means you can just walk in when it's your turn and there's few people here. Then everyone gets loaded up into a different zone for a "Haunted Mansion" style "set up the ride" thing, then ANOTHER queue as you split up into two large sections of coasters. Yeah, they're really building this as a "modern" attraction with the ideal huge people-eating nature (not like Frozen, which had to stick people in a 1980s boat ride with those people-eating expectations).

The ride itself is a great wonder- all the cast are here to bring us "along for the ride" as a Celestial (you can tell by the glowing sections of its face) swipes a Xandarian object and plans to destroy humanity with it- you chase it on a rollercoaster with spinning cars and ohhhhhhhhh man it's a barf ride. I HATE the "spinning rollercoaster" thing most of the time for the aggressive "make you hurl" aspects of it, and had to close my eyes a lot on the first trip. Partially my own fault, though, as I didn't eat enough beforehand- bad timing and I was mostly on an empty stomach, which makes these things worse. I fixed it the next ride in a week's time and it was MUCH smoother and nicer. I really love the way you spin around the Moon & Earth in statue form. They played "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" the first time, then "One Way Or Another" on my trip a week later.

The gift shop here is pretty tiny- more or less a bunch of GOTG figurines and Infinity Gauntlets for sale. The building itself is kinda nestled away in an odd zone- Test Track is right nearby and can be heard, and there's Mission: Space over in the other direction. It's an odd set-up of randomly-placed buildings, probably because of how they had to build Epcot- that giant gold building is just over to one side as well.
Jabroniville
Posts: 21601
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:05 pm

Disney Springs (Part Two)

Post by Jabroniville »

DISNEY SPRINGS (Redux):
The park closing at 9 made me want to go back to Disney Springs- I think MK was on Halloween this day so for the first time ever, I did a mixed Park/Springs day and went back there. A helpful bus CM directed me to the Saratoga Springs resort, indicating which bus stop to leave from. Two ladies on the bus had the same idea but weren't told the same thing so almost got off twice- this resort has THREE bus stops! I've heard of that, and it seems like a real pain (guests there complain about it). We all got off and did a walk down the way and across a bridge to Disney Springs (this stop has a security checkpoint, oddly enough). Along the way, we chatted about how things have changed- they're from close by (1-2 hours?) and used to go WEEKLY to the parks/Springs, but the "Reservation" system completely put a stop to that. We parted ways ("Don't worry" one said "you don't have to hang out with two old ladies!") and they went to get makeup because one had apparently forgotten her entire kit at home and they were doing a weekend stay.

I re-checked out the Rainforest Cafe, had some gelato (from Viva Il Gelato or whatever it's called) and a Goofy candy store slushy drink to finish the snacks I didn't get from the day before (I mean, even I can only tempt diabeetus so much), and bought a couple of the postcards at the Trend-D store. There I found a great clerk who complimented my Wicked shirt and we got to talking about Broadway like Hadestown (unfortunately I was less familiar with that one). We talked about Wicked, the link from Wicked to Frozen (she pointed out that Kristen Bell had a lot of similarities to Kristin Chenoweth, who played Glinda, and the producers probably leaned into that to mimic the contrast between Anna & Elsa).

When I talked about the Wicked link to Elsa and brought up the character performers, she brought up something I've heard before- "We all idolize them, but they really do have the hardest job in the parks". Having to have one-sided conversations with shy children and always be peppy. And I learned the ways Cast Member culture has shifted- back in the day you'd probably NEVER have heard someone openly trash the company, but today she went all-in on things- "Did you know that a Princess isn't allowed to use a second language, even if they know one?!" (this is a Character Consistency thing- Belle is not supposed to know Spanish, because next time the guest will meet Belle who DOESN'T, and it breaks the illusion).

Referring to that, I brought up the now well-known "Anna uses American Sign Language to a delighted guest" thing (where an Anna performer surprised a deaf guest by signing in ASL), and we discussed that- "yeah, they even USED THAT for our cast training and *How To Make Magical Moments*... but that girl probably got a REPRIMAND!" because that is actually not allowed for the same reasons (now guests might expect EVERY Anna to know ASL). But then it was 11 o'clock and I had to go so I thanked her and hit the buses back to All-Star Movies, lol. I did leave a Cast Compliment (unfortunately forgetting her exact name because I did this weeks later, but I think I got close).
Jabroniville
Posts: 21601
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:05 pm

Day Two (Magic Kingdom)

Post by Jabroniville »

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Me: "Okay so I've been here three times before, so I don't need as many pictures of the backgrounds as I used to." Also me: "Time to take 25 more pictures of the castle from all angles."

DAY TWO (MAGIC KINGDOM):
-So with an Epcot day down, I finally did my standard thing, and set my SECOND day to be in the Magic Kingdom! To me it's still the "Disney-est" park here and the one with the most attractions. I have an astonishing FIVE DAYS here this time around (with a Park Hopper in case I got bored), which is the most ever. I mostly consider everything but Epcot a "1-day park" and Epcot a 2-day one while it's still under construction. And this time around I went with the utterly mad decision of doing two days in a row COAST TO COAST, hitting rope drop (8:00 in the morning) to park closing at 11 pm, AND doing shopping for the last hour it was open! Yes, that's TWO fifteen hour days at the Magic Kingdom, back to back! So my memories of which day what happened kinda blur together a bit.

So last trip, I had 3 days in the MK, but only rode "Seven Dwarfs Mine Train" once because of various things (ride breakdowns, getting in a bit too late and it was already at 45 minutes, etc.) and I didn't wanna buy a LL pass for something I'd done before. This time around my plan was more successful, as the parks were MUCH quieter- for this entire week (including the weekend) the parks were some of the quietest I've ever seen- I don't think a single ride was over an hour except for the Mine Train. Though I got a Genie+ LL thing for every single day of my trip... this ends up being quite expensive (like $210 Canadian), but as a solitary traveler waiting in line sucks and destroys a phone's charge since I sit on it while in line. Especially in MK where the lines are LONG and don't let up.

The agony of rope-dropping hasn't really diminished- you have to get up RIDICULOUSLY early now- something like 6:30-7 am, try to get to the very first bus or two (those extra 15 minutes between buses COUNT), get in as early as you can, randomly get stopped at security (my portable iPhone charger or my case of mints usually being the culprit, though most of the time I just walk through), then wait in the giant line of people shoved into the right side of the castle and then motor to the Mine Train or Peter Pan's Flight (my early morning go-tos). I LL'd Peter Pan and hit the Mine Train. I... LIKE that ride, but I find it bizarrely popular given how it's not very thrilling and only has two little sections where it's got the characters. It's a weird combination of a half-thrill ride and a dark ride and I'm never sure whether or not sacrificing sleep is worth this. I still USUALLY rode it once each day (trailing off by the end of my trip).

My typical LL stuff includes Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise (which ALWAYS has a huge line nowadays, even without the "Jingle Cruise") and such. I think the first day I walked into Space Mountain pretty quickly- I only did this one twice, as it's thrilling but I've BEEN THERE, ya know? The more times I visit, the more I appreciate the dark rides. Oddly, I've always found Pirates & Big Thunder to be walk-ons in the first couple of hours of the day- Big Thunder being way on the butt-end of the park makes it WAY too far for most people to bother hitting first, especially as it's a dead end area and you can't loop around.

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Thankfully, today I FINALLY found something I'd recently read about and had somehow missed before now- the legendary "Hidden Steamboat Willie" in the Little Mermaid exit queue. This little thing is compiled via a ship's steering wheel in the background, a flattened "Mickey head", an "arm", and his "legs" made up of two separate rock formations- all lining up when you stand a certain way. Pointing it out to people they STILL mostly won't see it, so it's not the most convincing thing, and Mickey is more Nightmare Fuel than the mouse we'd recognize, but it's neat.

I also finally, for the first time ever, found that blasted Nautilus. I searched for AGES on past trips and never once found it. Oddly this time I easily did so, and wonder why I didn't before- it's actually VERY big.

THE CASE OF THE MONSTER ENERGY DRINKS (which I totally am not addicted to; hush up, I'm not):
-So a frequent S.O.P. at Disney Parks is to jack myself up on enough caffeine to violate the Geneva Convention, but to be honest, I actually don't drink any more than on a normal day (no, I don't know how I'm still alive). And hey- 15 hours of the Magic Kingdom on 5-6 hours of sleep I'm gonna need SOMETHING, and I don't like coffee- so I usually get a Monster in the morning at the food court, then another at the park... problem being, the parks are very weird about which places carry those, and the places alternate at different times (once in 2014, the Everest gift shop had it- never again!). This time, for example, Main Street had NONE! When I asked a CM, they don't me that the week before they'd gotten rid of ALL of them in every shop! Tragedy!

Thankfully, I ended up finding a place- the Tomorrowland generic gift shop (the big one by the bathrooms). Never a line, and it's out of the way and reliable. Mid-afternoon crises averted! Now I can vacation like a crazy person! I believe I actually found another place carrying them later on, but I forget where it was. It was definitely unexpected, though. Otherwise it's a total crapshoot- you see Coke products everywhere, but most things it's just Coke/Diet Coke/SmartWater/Dasani and maybe like... orange?

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DOING STUFF THAT GOT MISSED LAST TIME:
-So on my 2021 trip, there were a few things that got missed (largely due to having to travel in the mid-afternoon to take a COVID test in order to get back to Canada- twice, since the first attempt was a bust)- Tom Sawyer's Island, The Carousel of Progress and the Country Bears. I think I hit CoP on that first night, near the point of being wiped out, and good thing, because it broke shortly after and I think I saw that it was offline for the entire rest of the trip.

CoP is terrific, though- all that old-timey humor and "YES, DEAR" stuff that lets you know it's an attraction built in the 1950s. The daughter trying to use the "shake off the weight" thing ("Didn't work then; won't work now!"), and the daughter bothering dad by saying "I think it's SO romantic you're taking mother to the dance!". And then there's that funny "Future" bit where people wear current fashions even though it's supposed to be modern times, and the kid & grandma play a video game for "points" (why do old people always think video games are played for "high scores" still? That hasn't been a thing since the early '90s! Granted they probably don't wanna make Grand Theft Auto comparisons but still). But the modern fashions (instead of the SUPER dated 1980s ones they had previously) do make it look a bit more modern.

Oddly, the time I went in they replayed the introductory bit, trapping us in the theatre until it got moving again. Possibly this is the reason why it was shut down later.
Jabroniville
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Dinner Reservations

Post by Jabroniville »

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The "Secret Passageway" into the Jungle Skipper Canteen's private room.

DINNER RESERVATIONS:
-My first big dining reservation was at a place I'd slept on for ages until my last trip, where I realized that the Jungle Skipper Canteen is low-key one of the best places on property! It's MASSIVELY themed, with great posters and "relics" all over the place, pictures of Dr. Falls, a showcase of butterflies behind one table, and more. In addition to great food at cheaper prices than the two big 'uns on property- the Royal Table & Be Our Guest! I had, uh... steak? I think? They changed the name and some of the side bits but it's a classic. I was in the main room this time, in the classic "single person" side table- on my last trip, I was behind the "hidden" door (ie. a permanently-open door that looks like someone pulled The Jungle Book out to open a secrety passageway to the Society of Explorers & Adventurers meeting room).

I later went to Pecos Bill's, which has become my reliable quick-service deal since learning of its taco trio. Though the line here is MUCH worse than the similar (quick-service/lots of seating/sorta themed) Columbia Harbor House, it's pretty quick once you order and the trio is EXCELLENT and you can pack the extras on yourself. There's often very little seating, however- during one particularly bad rainstorm I had to eat on top of a garbage can because even the tables that were empty had every single chair swiped by enormous families moving about in packs.

Bill's sorta has become my "go to" because of its space and the food size & quality (Harbor House has a few too many things I don't like and ENORMOUS portions), reminding me of my 2014 trip when I didn't quite research the restaurants on site and thus didn't book reservations at all after lunch, and was stuck hungry and eating a gross turkey leg (which I'm pretty sure made me sick)- turns out this & Harbor House would have been handy!
Jabroniville
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The Magical Friendship Faire

Post by Jabroniville »

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The dancers I dub "Brown-Haired Girl" & "Blonde Girl".

THE MAGICAL FRIENDSHIP FAIRE:
-So the show on Saturday led to the single greatest Disney Magical Moment EVER, and one that I will forever use to advertise the park to people. One of those "this could only happen here" moments combined with pure serendipity. But that was days after this, lol. Without spoiling it, it involves watching the show with a performer's family, then hearing backstage impressions of myself.

Okay, so in 2019 I saw this show for the first time- it was then called the "Royal" Friendship Faire and had everyone in medieval gear. In 2020 naturally they killed it off and we went without, and I didn't miss it TOO bad, but this year it returned, and once I'd heard the fireworks on my first day at the MK I was like "Oh crap- I forgot!". This show is such a big deal they actually block people from going THROUGH the castle entirely for the first half of the park day (you can't do this until 5pm, after the last MFF show), and it blocks off the entire stage, which you can see from some angles having tons of markers to show the people where to stand for their dances.

Part 1) The show is the same as usual- a bunch of dancers do a big dance while the Big Five show up and welcome the audience. Mickey's friends split up to bring people to their celebration, leading to three segments before the finale, in which the characters are actually voiced by their movie VAs, showing just how big this show is (and how those actors probably never guessed they'd be doing these voices for eternity).

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Flapper Tiana! Making her the only "off-model" character in this.

Part 2) Goofy brings in Princess Tiana, Naveen & Louis, along with some New Orleans girls in flapper gear (actually the dancers from the first part of the show in a rapid costume change)- Tiana herself is a flapper as well, making her the least-recognizable royal in the show. Here they do Mama Odie's "Dig a Little Deeper" to bring out Goofy's secret skills to the "gumbo" that is their jubilee (in this case, the tambourine). I am impressed at Goofy's balance- that heavy head and he still manages to do a full kick above his shoulders. Though the main event here is oddly a random dude who comes in tap-dancing. The song is PRETTY good, but reminds me of how weak that movie's "Hero Songs" were since they went with Odie's song instead.

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Part 3) Donald brings in the "ruffians" by mistake- the Pub Thugs from Tangled! They cause a scrap, and Daisy just totally harpies out on Donald like a mean sitcom wife ("You've ruined EVERYTHING!"), but Flynn & Rapunzel pop up in the top corner. They all sing "I've Got a Dream" when the heroes convince the gang that the Thugs aren't that awful. The main eventers are Hook-Hand (wearing a bald cap and fake mustache) and Vladamir. A backgrounder does a big backflip during the "brawl" (in which nobody gets punched or anything- it's mostly just throwing each other around). This one always feels a bit odd to me, as Hook-Hand is easily the main character and the stars of Tangled are just backgrounders who kind of just pop in on one side and are largely ignored- you barely even hear people react to them because they're an afterthought.

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The trademark "Elsa Pose".

Part 4) Minnie's about to start it, but Mickey announces his OWN surprise, and brings out OLAF! The crowd inevitably freaks at this, and it only gets bigger when ANNA AND ELSA arrive! Wearing their more recognizable "Frozen 1" costumes. Minnie declares "I wish I could be more LIKE you!" but is corrected- "But being who YOU are is PERFECT!" cries Anna, while Elsa turns that into an opportunity to sing "Let It Go" (I mean, duh), complete with bringing out handfuls of "snowflakes" (one got stuck to me and I kept it once) from a hidden pocket and I think Minnie's costume, fog, and more. It's funny how clearly they make it that Elsa is the true Main Eventer of Disney during this show- Tiana & Rapunzel barely sing at all and are part of ensembles, and here Elsa does a 2-minute number by herself while Anna just stands there ("You can do ANYTHING when you have someone you LOVE by your side!" "That's me!" cries second-stringer Anna).

Part 5) Mickey announces the Friendship Faire can now begin, reintroducing all the named characters (Flynn is always going by his thief name and not his real one- Eugene Fitzherbert). They all do a big group dance as I kinda laugh at how simple Elsa's has to be because she's wearing high heels, so it's just her and Anna kind of hop-skipping to one side and then the other. Characters dance with their own castmates (Elsa/Olaf), then swap out (Goofy dances with Tiana, and Elsa dances with a random background guy- it actually seems bizarre for me for such a closed-off character who noticeably rarely deals with men in the movie to the point where "Elsa is Gay" is a meme. Finally, everyone does their big poses (Elsa naturally using her famous "hand held up while the other's at her side" pose) while fireworks go off timed to their hand movements (the left ones when they point stage right, the right ones when they point to stage left, then some little ones, then the big eruption).

Watching the cast switch out is fascinating- I notice that the background dancers are often the same, but some swap out (thers is a redhead, brown-haired girl, black girl & blonde... but the black & blonde girls seem to swap out randomly or one only does an earlier show?). At some shows, Vladamir was a strong-looking, hefty black dude and at other points a skinnier white guy. I noticed three different Elsas, two Tianas (one I only saw once) and swap-outs for a few others (the tap dancer is often different on alternating shows- that must be more exhausting than it looks). I also noticed a few swap-outs in choreography- with one Elsa, the two Pub Thugs actually fight each other over who gets to dance with her, at which point she kind of pantomimes by gesturing to Olaf and dancing with him, and the Thugs hang their heads, shrug and then dance with each other.

MFF SNAFUS & FUN BITS:
-At one point, I was on the far right side of the stage because I arrived late, and I overheard some of the actors actually talking on-stage during the final dance- some of them seem to be made to "pretend talk" to each other to get to know one another during the Faire, but I actually heard Elsa utter, in her real not-Idina-Menzel voice, "D'ya remember that?" to Olaf, and I LITERALLY HEARD HIM TALK THROUGH THE SNOWMAN COSTUME. I couldn't make out what he said, but I bet we're not supposed to hear THAT, lol. I only ever saw a screw-up once, though- Elsa at one point kicked the steps during her rapid ascent to the upper platform during "Let It Go", stumbling and crouching down for a second before popping up in time to pantomime the singing. The dad beside me remarked "UH-OH".

At one point, Hook Hand was about to do his comedy stuff while Flynn sang to it... but the sound abruptly turned off entirely. Immediately, the cast frozen in place, stood there, then ran off behind the curtain while the familiar "Kingly Voice" narrator went "The show has been temporarily DELAYED". A few minutes later, everyone burst out to do the Part 4, ignoring the rest of the Tangled one. Later on one day, it started raining mid-show and they IMMEDIATELY bailed off stage and the music ended. Later, everyone came out for a "Rainy Day" version of the dance, which is much like the other one but features simpler choreography with people just kinda skipping in place so nobody slips.

Fun fact: if the MFF is cancelled due to weather, they still have to fire off the fireworks, because they're armed and can't be disarmed. It seems funny to me to announce that the show's been cancelled and celebrate it with huge explosions.
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Davies
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Re: The Magical Friendship Faire

Post by Davies »

Jabroniville wrote: Thu Oct 27, 2022 6:17 am Fun fact: if the MFF is cancelled due to weather, they still have to fire off the fireworks, because they're armed and can't be disarmed. It seems funny to me to announce that the show's been cancelled and celebrate it with huge explosions.
View it as a celebrating the fact that the huge explosions didn't go off on the ground. ;)
I'm not fourteen hundred years old! I've been sixteen years old fourteen hundred times, but I'm definitely not fourteen hundred years old! If you can't get that through your skull, I'm divorcing you!
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Re: Disney World Trip Report (Sept. 2022)

Post by greycrusader »

I think you need more photos of Elsa, Jab. There aren't enough photos of Elsa. Do you think you could use some more Elsa photos, Jab?

😊

All my best.
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Re: Disney World Trip Report (Sept. 2022)

Post by Jabroniville »

greycrusader wrote: Fri Oct 28, 2022 1:15 am I think you need more photos of Elsa, Jab. There aren't enough photos of Elsa. Do you think you could use some more Elsa photos, Jab?

😊

All my best.
Alas, I took a mere 3.5 GB worth of Elsa pictures, so I have to spread them out delicately!
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The Festival of Fantasy Parade

Post by Jabroniville »

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https://jabroniville.smugmug.com/Disney ... /i-fq3sKH6 (here's a video of the first float at least)

THE FESTIVAL OF FANTASY PARADE:
-IT'S BACK!! A few months after I left, the famous Parade finally returned. Mostly intact from before (but with no "Brave" float this time), it has a good string of performers. "Parade CMs" are some of the highest-end CMs in the parks, having to have an "Animation Score" to be able to gesture and move as a parade performer. I've heard tell from non-CMs that they deliberately choose the best-looking girls to do this, but that might be an LA thing or just a snide guest guess, as true CMs typically talk more about how they gesture... though I will admit the parade performers tend to lean towards looks just a tad (not universally; never mind one's own tastes getting involved). Searching CM social media, I discovered one MFF Elsa is ALSO Anna, Belle, Mary Poppins AND Ariel in the parade, meaning her Animation Score has to be through the roof.

If you watch carefully, you can see how they have to do it- Anna & Elsa will wave at the fans and do random movements, but as soon as the "Beauty and the Beast" song or "For the First Time in Forever... Let it GOOOO Let it GOOOOO!" happens, both will stop what they're doing and sway in time with the music.

There are a number of floats and sections: the key float is headed by Belle and the Beast, then has a spinning dress behind which is Cinderella and Prince Charming. Behind that is a spinning switch-off for Tiana/Naveen and Elsa & Anna (with a tiny Olaf). There's a Tangled float with swings featuring Flynn, Maximus (a static figure) and some Pug Thugs, then a Peter Pan float with a pirate ship above a rainbow- Peter's up top, Captain Hook's on the bottom, and Tink looks out, taunting Mr. Smee (who follows the float). This is actually the park's only way to see "live" Tink save the fireworks show, as her meet & greet is still gone. There's a Pinocchio/cartoony characters float, an Ariel float (way too high up to take a good photo of, lol), and the famous "Steampunk Maleficent". There are "walking groups" including the Three Fairies & Prince Philip, Alice/Mary Poppins/Mad Hatter, and Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs. Oddly, Aurora is nowhere to be seen (she was meant to be on the first float... but then Frozen shattered records the world over and they got HER spot) despite all the other characters being there. All the "Minority Princesses" and Merida end up stuck on the "Disney Adventure Cavalcade", detailed later.

The struggle in taking photos here is the Tiana/Frozen spinner is actually very quick-moving and if you're sedentary you're guaranteed to miss some of it, as the characters will either be on the other side or sideways and quickly going back around. So I decided to run like a crazy person and follow it around repeatedly to get better shots or to see my faves close-up repeatedly- thankfully I can easily outrun a parade float so long as the world's slowest creature- a father pushing a stroller- doesn't get in my way.

During one show, the swing for Maximus & Flynn wouldn't move, so poor Flynn just had to stand there like a yokel. Another time, the Ariel float wasn't there at all! When it got rained out once, they brought out the double-decker bus with lots of characters... but for some reason, Anna & Elsa are never on this one.

Despite the "Lightning Lane" option being in the inner circuit at the end of Main Street, I find the best views are in the outer circuit- in the inner one, you can only see Belle's back, and can't move quickly from one spot to the next because it's cramped, full of gates, and you can't cross the street. I was told that the end of the Liberty Square street was actually the best spot for parade viewing as you see them coming down the street head-on, and while that's true, I found it's a bad way to view the first float, as it turns on a tight axis and you will almost certainly miss the princesses as they angle out too quickly.

I do enjoy this parade, though I wish they'd have a Frozen float of its own (I thought there was one, actually), and more of an even mix of characters. In 2021, a lack of parades meant they had a quartet of alternating ones throughout the day- I kind of liked having an "Only Princess" float set, where a roving gazebo and a huge float had a mix of them- I liked seeing Elena & Mulan with the others.

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The Cinderella & BATB windows on Main Street.
Jabroniville
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The Castle Show

Post by Jabroniville »

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Showing this pic to my comic book-reading friends, the wire made them think that Green Arrow was here.

THE CASTLE SHOW AND THE ADVENTURE OF TRYING TO SEE TINKER BELL:
-So part of the big finale of the fireworks show is to see Tinker Bell fly from the castle over to Main Street/Tomorrowland- this is almost ALWAYS the biggest moment with the crowd, and last time, I overheard some people say they saw movement in the castle BEFORE Tink pops out, so I made it my mission to see it. Obviously she didn't light up until she was out of the castle, but WHEN? So I carefully spotted locations and kept an eye on the front of the castle, at the exact point the wire extends forth from it, in order to see it... and it only took me four tries, lol. Granted, I was also watching the fireworks, haha.

I can go into more detail each time, but:
1) I was too late to get a great view, then went to the bathroom and forgot about said mission until it was nearly too late- I was moving underneath a tree when she launched.
2) It was raining that night, creating fuzzy castle projections and Tink never came out at all. I should've checked that ahead of time cuz most of this was a bust.
3) Someone beside me (who'd been there for 20-30 minutes, mind you) literally decided to bail the SECOND BEFORE Tink came out, with her friend and her friend's stroller, so despite being there the whole time I had to shuffle over and watch where I was going, and thus still missed it!
4) FINALLY, on the fourth try, I got a spot on the bridge to Fantasyland, between two of the large trees, enabling me to catch a glimpse of it. Turns out she scoots free of the castle and hits about five feet out BEFORE lighting up the costume (you see her actually LUNGE forward), at which point most people end up seeing her. The side view makes this a lot more clear.

But yeah, the "Enchantment" show is... fine. People seem REALLY impressed by the fireworks (always "oohhhhhhhh..."-ing at the single "shooting star" one at the beginning) and the song is okay. "Happily Ever After" is considered the all-timer for a reason, though, and I remember seeing that 1-2 times on my 2019 trip and being astounded by it. I'm glad that one is coming back.

Another issue is you have to be RIGHT at the center to get a good view. On the bridges you can see the fireworks but the projections are invisible, and they don't bother to put good stuff on the sides of the castle. This leads to an absolutely huge jam in the middle of the area in front, clogging up space. They have a hundred CMs shuffling guests along to get them out of the way, and will block off certain areas. Naturally the good views are closer- Main Street is dead on but too far to see most stuff that well. If you want a good spot, you HAVE to camp or risk being that jerk who decides to push his way into a crowd in front of the people who actually tried to wait, ruining their time. Worse still are the people who stand in the huge crowd and try to signal their friends to come watch the show with them (duh- they can't push past to get to you even as you raise your umbrella up and down).

The projections here are fine, but it's part of the issue of a lot of Disney shows these days, where it's just a "Clip Show" of one thing after another. Some of it's just showing off their mapping skills as stuff hits the castle... and some things don't seem to have any real importance to the show beyond "Hey, this is a thing we made!" Toy Story in particular feels incredibly pointless with just an instrumental version of You Got A Friend In Me playing with trombones & tubas or whatever. It also starts out with some of the less popular and well-known "Pandemic Dead Zone" movies like Soul and Raya, then Pocahontas of all things gets a big instrumental bit, though shares space with Hercules.

Moana is oddly the main eventer of the whole deal with a LONG version of her key songs, and then we get a big Into the Unknown bit... which I think suffers, like the other songs do, of not being the actual version from the movie. You have access to IDINA MENZEL'S VOICE and instead you use two random no-name singers doing a harder rock version? Elsa features a bit on here, but not as much as you'd think- just her in her nightie doing a couple of movements while other characters scoot about the castle. Like, you'd think they'd also stick on the Show Yourself sequence with the Four Spirits turning her into the "Snow Queen" at last.

Overall it's fine, and it is certainly not a mistake that the movies starring minority characters get most of the spotlight here, but everyone loves Happily Ever After for a reason.

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"Drunk Elsa", the best Park merch I never buy.

THE MERCH I NEVER BUY:
-I always liked the "glass store" at the one end of Main Street... though I've never bought anything from here. I mean, everything's SO EXPENSIVE! And despite it being all very pricey stuff, a lot of the time the character depictions look like butt. A lot of "Eye Wonk" and other issues. And EXPENSIVE!
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