To the Ends of the Earth, Would You Follow Me? A 2 Week Oct/Nov 2018 TR *Updated 5/5*


Adventure is Out There
Jul 3, 2018
So finally, it’s happening. It’s happening. I’m sitting down to start typing up this overdue (by only 2 months, in my defense) TR. My first ever TR. The entire trip I stopped to take pictures of everything and made sure everyone knew that under no circumstances were they allowed to eat anything without me taking a picture of it. And then everything sat on my phone for days. And days turned to weeks, which then turned to months. But finally, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, I’m here to type this bad boy up.

But first, who even am I? Good question.

My name is Courtney, a 27 year old with hair color commitment issues (my hair color for this trip was a dark black/blue. it's now a dark red. see? commitment issues!) who works in HR for a very well known Retail Chain. I grew up watching every Disney movie and being very well aware of what Disney World was, but didn’t actually step foot in what has become the promise land until I was 15. Then life happened- I became a bit of a rebellious teenager, discovered Las Vegas, and wouldn’t be back “home” until I turned 24 in May of 2015 with my best friend (who’s been with me on every single trip since).

(hello airport bathroom)

Favorite Park: Magic Kingdom
Favorite Party: Halloween
Favorite Ride: BTM // Haunted Mansion // POTC
Favorite Restaurant: Flame Tree
Favorite DisFood: fish and chips (it counts!)
Favorite Night Show: Fantasmic
Favorite Movie: Little Mermaid // Aladdin
Favorite Character: Aladdin
Favorite Princess: Ariel
Favorite Villain: Gaston

Let me introduce the other characters that accompanied me in this trip.

First is Mel, WDW enthusiast and the planner behind this trip. By day she’s a 27 year old bank teller, but by night? She’s her very own travel agent. She’s without a doubt the funniest person I know, and has the pleasure of having the title of my best friend. I’ll try my best to include some of her humor when I can, just so you guys can appreciate her as much as I do.

(She's the floating head. Don't be alarmed, shortly after this she was given her body back)

Favorite Park: Magic Kingdom
Favorite Party: Halloween
Favorite Ride: Midway Mania // Mine Train // Test Track
Favorite Restaurant: 1900 Park Fare- Dinner
Favorite DisFood: Mickey Rice Krispie
Favorite Night Show: Hallowishes (she originally sarcastically answered ROL, since we both hate it)
Favorite Movie: Coco
Favorite Character: Donald Duck
Favorite Princess: Rapunzel
Favorite Villain: Oogie Boogie

Our final supporting actress is my mom, Wendy. :love:My mom has been a massive Disney fan for almost her entire life, but has only been to WDW one time about 40 years ago. She says she walked into the Magic Kingdom (the only park open at the time!), rode IASW, and left. :scared1:What is that insanity?! She also had ridden the same ride at the World’s Fair as well as the Carousel of Progress, which blows my actual mind. Her dream has been to go back ever since, and it’s only taken her 40+ years to get there, but she made it.


Favorite Park Prediction: Magic Kingdom
Favorite Ride Prediction: IASW // Soarin
Favorite Restaurant Prediction: Morimoto Asia
Favorite DisFood Prediction: Mickey pretzel
Favorite Night Show Prediction: HEA
Favorite Movie: Cinderella
Favorite Character: Winnie the Pooh
Favorite Princess: Cinderella
Favorite Villain: Lady Tremaine (do you sense a theme on what her Disney obsession is?)

So what was the plan? When were we going? Where were we staying? Would Wendy ever make it back to Disney World?

Our original plan was to go for the first week of May in 2017, however there was a family emergency and my mom moved up to Massachusetts for around 2 (or 3) months, cancelling her part of the trip about 2 weeks before we left. We were crushed, but Mel and I put on our bravest faces and still went. So we rescheduled for the next May. May 2018, giving us a solid year to get everything settled. Did all 3 of us end up going in May 2018? No, of course not. That would be too simple. My mom ended up not being able to take the time off from work, so Mel and I packed our bags and headed down to the Floridian heavens that April for a few days. A girl needs a vacation after all!

However, after a lot of discussion and careful planning, we finally had a set of dates picked. We would be going for 2 whole weeks at the end of October to mid November 2018- no ifs, ands, or buts. October 27th-November 10th. But we were going to go all out this time. Our first 3 nights were going to be at POR in a Royal Guest Room, followed by 3 nights at my home away from home Pop Century (there’s something about the smell in the lobby that makes my heart happy. It’s weird, I know). Then we were leaving the bubble and enjoying a nice weekend at Universal, staying at the Royal Pacific. Wrapping things up? Well, a nice casual 5 night stay club level at the Wilderness Lodge (my dream hotel). Oh and we also we’re planning a day trip to Gatorland in the middle.

This trip was a first for many things for us- a first for me going around the holidays (working retail really prevents that from happening), a first time at Universal for Mel, and in general (besides IASW apparently) a first of everything for my mom.

It was the trip of a lifetime, and I hope you guys stick around to read all about it!



Adventure is Out There
Jul 3, 2018
Day 0: The Final Countdown
Pre-Travel Day
Friday October 26, 2018

So before we get to the actual trip, I thought I should backtrack by a day, to the day before travel day. Aka the longest day known to mankind. Luckily, I had taken the day off, so I could finish any last minute packing or errands I needed to do before leaving bright and obnoxiously early the next day. Mel was supposed to leave work early, around 3 or so and head up here straight from Philly (she lives in PA, about 2-2.5 hours from me) while my mom was getting out of work around 1. So I spent the morning making sure I was all packed, enjoying some cuddles with my cat:

And taking my dad food shopping so he wouldn’t starve in the 2 weeks he had to fend for himself.

Finally, at 6:02pm I got this text:

Now vacation could actually start!

The 3 of us, along with my sister, went to a pre-Disney dinner at a diner a few blocks from my house. Delicious Disney food, this was not. In fact, it wasn’t even up to usual Jersey Diner standards. I had chicken fingers and home fries, and to be honest, it doesn’t even look appetizing in the picture.

After our disappointing and unappealing dinner, we swung by Quick Chek (if you’re not familiar with Quick Chek, it’s like a WaWa, or 7/11. But better than 7/11, and not as delicious as Wawa) for Mel and my pre-vacation tradition: chocolate banana shakes!

By the time we got home and started settling in, it was 8:30 and we needed to be up at around 3am for our flight. I just had one little surprise for my mom. When we had originally planned this trip for the spring of 2017, I had made a decent order on the Shop Parks app of small things I thought my mom would like from most of her favorite characters. I picked out a Winnie the Pooh ear hat, Cinderella necklace, a Marie World Showcase tumbler, autograph book, and a couple of more little things. And then our trip cancelled. So I saved everything, and it sat in the exact box it came in for over a year. Until today. I wrapped everything up in cellophane with some Disney tissue paper and while my mom was taking a shower, I put it out on her bed. I was now a little Disney Easter October.
She loved it! And I was happy to finally not have to hide a large cardboard box around my house in hopes my mom wouldn’t snoop one day and find it.

After Mel and my shakes were done and the excitement from my mom’s first touch of Disney magic wore down, it was time for bed. Alarms were set and the only thing now was to get a good night's sleep, right? Wrong.

The issue? There was supposed to be a bad storm setting in overnight, with the possibility of flight delays. I laid awake, constantly checking the Southwest app to see if we were going to be delayed, or even cancelled.

Would I ever fall asleep? Would our flight be affected by the storm?
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: DLo
  • DisneyyDaydream

    Adventure is Out There
    Jul 3, 2018
    Wow. Hi, it's been a minute. A couple of minutes. About 2 and a half months worth of minutes.:confused3Work got busy, life got busy. Mel and I flew out to Vegas in the middle of February for (what was originally supposed to be) less than 48 hours. :banana:
    We landed in Vegas on Sunday, the 10th around 3pm and after a 6 hour+ delay in the Denver airport on our way home due to a really lovely snowstorm, we were back in Newark Wednesday the 13th at 4am. We stayed at the Flamingo, which besides Pop Century, is my favorite hotel in the entire world. If you love the idea of old, classic Las Vegas, you'll absolutely love the Flamingo.
    We also tried In N Out for the first time- and then the second time as we ate it for dinner both nights we were there. And now I crave In N Out all the time. In N Out is both a blessing and a curse. popcorn::
    Also, yes those are Sprinkles cupcakes! There's a Sprinkles by the Linq, near the High Roller. Which is also conveniently close to In N Out. A little Disney on a non-Disney vacation. We got Red Velvet, Coconut, Triple Cinnamon, and honestly I don't remember the 4th flavor but I'm pretty sure it was Carrot Cake. So delicious.

    Ok, enough non-Dis talk Back to the trip report!

    Day 1: My Toes are Twitching, Sure Sign of Death
    Travel Day Part 1
    Saturday, October 27, 2018

    My alarm went off bright and super early at 3:15am, except I hadn't slept at all. Not even 10 minutes. :sad: I had been too anxious about the possibility of the storm either delaying or flat out cancelling our flight. But it was now 3am, and our flight out of Newark was still on time. I took a quick shower, did my makeup, and made sure for the 300th time that everything was packed and ready to go. By 4:40am, we were out the door. And man, it was raining hard.

    I live really close to 3 major airports- and I've flown either in or out of all 3. This time we were flying out of Newark, which means my dad got us there in a little over a half hour even in the severe rain. :car:

    Checking in to Southwest was a breeze, security was no issue. It was a little more backed up than I'm used to- but we were by our gate by 6:15am for our 7:50 flight. I always have to eat before flying. I'm not sure why, I just have to. So I grabbed a turkey and Gruyere wrap and a lemonade from one of those...I don't even know what to call them. Grab and go areas?
    It was ok. It's a premade airport sandwich. You don't really go into it thinking you are going to be getting high quality. You're just hoping you don't get food poisoning.

    Pretty soon we were boarding, again no issues to be had. And our views went from this:
    To this:
    And I treated myself to a nice, little airplane mimosa :drinking1
    Cruset Brut with canned Minute Maid orange juice. This wasn't good by any means, but I managed to finish it all while I watched some Good Mythical Morning that I had previously downloaded from youtube.
    We landed at 11am, I think a couple of minutes ahead of schedule. Which is kind of shocking to think about since earlier that morning I was convinced our flight was going to be flat out cancelled. But we were here! Wendy had finally made it to Orlando after 40 years! :jumping1:

    First we introduced her to her "first ride" of the trip: The Faux-Monorail.
    I have to sit in the front, I will wait multiple monorails if I have to, to get to sit in the front. It's one of my few requirements. But the views! Breath taking! It makes me instantly feel like a little kid again- excited, giddy, and really, really gets me in that Disney vacation mode. :earboy2:

    I'm at picture limit, so I'll end this post here and be back soon (I promise this time) with the next update!
    Last edited:
    • Like
    Reactions: DLo


    Adventure is Out There
    Jul 3, 2018
    Day 1: My Toes are Twitching, Sure Sign of Death
    Travel Day Part 2
    Saturday, October 27, 2018

    After a very necessary front row ride on the Faux-Monorail, we took a couple of pictures in front of the Disney Earport, grabbed a Pink Drink from Starbucks (sometimes I'm very basic, but it's delicious and I love it), and headed down to the Magical Express. :flower1:

    Our wait was super short, one of the shortest waits I think we've ever had and within literal minutes, we were boarding this bad boy:

    POR was the second stop after POFQ, so we kicked back, watched some classic Disney cartoons and tried to find alligators out of the bus windows. I've never successfully found one, but I look every single time. And I will continue to look until I find one. Pretty soon we were driving under this magical sign, that is like a mirage in the desert and almost impossible to get a good pic of. :magnify:

    By 1:05pm we were pulling in to our home for the next couple of nights:

    Prior to this trip I had never even stepped foot at either POR or POFQ. It's absolutely stunning! It's so calm and serene compared to resorts like Pop, but not so stuffy like the Grand Floridian. Wow! They really nailed the classic southern charm. :love:

    After exploring the resort for a couple of minutes, we headed to the Riverside Mill Food Court. It was super cute, very rustic looking with mismatched tables and chairs and lots of exposed wood. We picked up a couple of refillable mugs (which for some reason, we stop using half way through the trip every single time we buy them. Ugh!) and our light lunches.
    Mel and I both got the kid's corn dog nuggets- with a choice of 2 sides and a drink. I picked grapes, apples, and a water while Mel chose a double order of french fries with a water. The corn dog nuggets were good, not Casey's Corner level of good, but edible, filling, and hit the spot. And for $6.79? Give me them every day. My mom chose the classic Disney nuggets, with fries and a water. $9.49 My mom tends to be very, very picky as you will probably come to find out and she loved them. Crispy but still juicy. Disney does nuggets well.

    After lunch we explored a little bit more before heading to our room.

    To be completely honest with you I don't remember exactly where our room was, but we had a Royal Guest Room which was absolutely stunning. I want to say we were located in the Parterre Place area but again, I can't be completely sure. The level of detail in those Royal Guest Rooms will absolutely take your breath away. From the rug, to the headboards, to even the bathroom sinks and the trim around the walls. If you stay in one of these rooms, look closely at everything! Your jaw will drop! ;)

    Our luggage wasn't in the room yet but we all had packed a change of clothes in our carry on, so we quickly changed before calling a lyft to the Polynesian. That would become a theme quickly during our trip. I'm an avid user of both uber and lyft at home, so it was only natural for me to want to use the companies when there was perfectly good free transportation at my finger tips.

    Our lyft driver was very nice, quick, and knew how to drive around the World like a pro- the only bad thing was the car smelled like Bob Marley had been in the car before us. It was strong! But oh well, 5 stars. You got us there in one piece. By 3:30, we were pulling up to the Polynesian and taking in all the sights.

    I like the Polynesian but don't find myself there that often. I'm one of the select few who doesn't like 'Ohana. I've only been once and didn't think the food was good. At all.:sad2: But maybe I had gone on a bad night, I'm open to trying it again. But today was not that day. No, no. We were about to try something brand new to all 3 of us:
    Would we like Trader Sam's? Would they have any of the souvenir mugs for purchase? :scratchin Find out next time!
    • Like
    Reactions: DLo


    DIS Veteran
    Nov 24, 2012
    Joining in! I'm always happy to meet another Courtney lol!

    We were in WDW around the same time last year - 10/25-11/8. Glad your mom was finally able to make it!

    I'm in Staten Island so Newark is our go-to airport also. I'm sad that Southwest seems to have gotten rid of most of their direct flights to Orlando though.

    I hope you liked Trader Sams!

    Gina Starr

    DIS Veteran
    Mar 29, 2015
    I’m following along! I’ve been trying to get my mom to Disney with me the last couple trips and stuff always comes up. I’m the same way with my hair too- I’ve been blonde, brunette, pink, purple, rainbow, currently red too but planning my next color. I’ve been dying to do a trip at the same time so I can see Halloween and Christmas so can’t wait to read more!
  • DisneyyDaydream

    Adventure is Out There
    Jul 3, 2018
    I'm always happy to meet another Courtney lol!
    Courtney's of the world unite!

    I'm in Staten Island so Newark is our go-to airport also.
    I have a love-hate relationship with Newark. It's so convenient to where I live but I would chose almost any other airport over it- except LaGuardia. Do you remember when they used to only give you 30 minutes of free wifi at Newark? How was that even a thing?!?

    I’m the same way with my hair too- I’ve been blonde, brunette, pink, purple, rainbow, currently red too but planning my next color. I’ve been dying to do a trip at the same time so I can see Halloween and Christmas so can’t wait to read more!
    Any ideas for your next color? I think I'm going to go back to dark blue/black next, I really miss it lately lol. And managing a trip that includes both Halloween and Christmas is so worth it! You get the best of both worlds. You gotta do it at least once! :cool1:


    DIS Veteran
    Nov 24, 2012
    I have a love-hate relationship with Newark. It's so convenient to where I live but I would chose almost any other airport over it- except LaGuardia. Do you remember when they used to only give you 30 minutes of free wifi at Newark? How was that even a thing?!?
    YES! So bizarre haha. I agree with you. It's by far the most convenient to us cause we get there in 15 minutes but I've flown out of JFK a bunch and it's been a better experience. But LaGuardia- I'll pay double never to fly out of there again :rotfl2::rotfl2:

    Gina Starr

    DIS Veteran
    Mar 29, 2015
    Any ideas for your next color? I think I'm going to go back to dark blue/black next, I really miss it lately lol. And managing a trip that includes both Halloween and Christmas is so worth it! You get the best of both worlds. You gotta do it at least once! :cool1:
    When I have light hair I want it darker and when it’s dark I want it lighter, I’m never happy! Lol- I really wanna do a pastel color but I know my hair can’t take any bleach without falling out so will probably go for like a neutral blonde.

    The Halloween/Christmas trip is on my list but will probably have to wait as we have our next like three years of Disney planned! :rotfl2:


    Adventure is Out There
    Jul 3, 2018
    But LaGuardia- I'll pay double never to fly out of there again :rotfl2::rotfl2:
    I agree with you on that! I’ve never flown out of LaGuardia-only into. And every time I say never again and somehow wind back up there :rolleyes2

    When I have light hair I want it darker and when it’s dark I want it lighter, I’m never happy! Lol- I really wanna do a pastel color but I know my hair can’t take any bleach without falling out so will probably go for like a neutral blonde.
    I’m the same way! Every color I chose I end up going thru old pics of myself and start wanting my hair that color instead! I heard pastel is really hard to keep up with!
  • DisneyyDaydream

    Adventure is Out There
    Jul 3, 2018
    Sorry it’s taken me a few days to get this up and running! My birthday was this past Thursday- the big 2-8! But no more stalling, let’s get into this!

    Day 1: My Toes are Twitching, Sure Sign of Death
    Travel Day Part 3
    Saturday, October 27, 2019

    Going to Trader Sam’s was my idea- it seemed like the perfect start to vacation. I had heard that it could get very busy, very fast especially on the weekends so we wanted to get there as early as possible. Doors opened at 4pm. We jumped in the semi- decent line at a little after 3:30, and were sitting at a table by 4:02. Timing was perfect! :yay:
    We sat at one of the longer tables close to the bar with 2 couples and a mother and child. All 3 other groups had been here before- we were the only newbies. Instantly, my mom and Mel knew what they wanted. Mel, the rum lover that she is, ordered the Shrunken Zombie Head:
    Gosling’s 151 Black Seal Rum, Appleton Estate Reserve Rum, Bacardi 8 yr Rum, tropical juices, Falernum, and cinnamon. Served in a souvenir Shrunken Head.

    She loved this! I tried a tiny sip and thought it was way too strong, but then again I can’t stand the taste of rum so I guess you shouldn’t really take into consideration my dislike. But Mel was happy, and we love a happy Mel.

    My mom ordered the Polynesian Pearl:
    RumChata Cream Liquer, Grand Marnier, and cinnamon with tropical juices. The pearl is yours to keep! (They claim, except they never have the stupid pearls in stock) $17

    Our waiter, who’s name I don’t remember but I do remember him being fabulous, informed us that they unfortunately didn’t have any of the pearls in stock so the drink would have to come in a regular glass. My mom was crushed! She had been looking forward to getting a souvenir pearl to keep as a dust collector. And like any good child, I couldn’t have my mom be disappointed so early on in her Dream Vacation. :sad: So I hopped on ebay on my phone right there and snatched up a pearl for about $18 including shipping, which really isn’t bad considering that most of the other glasses sell on ebay for about $60 (and even higher!).

    Something to know about me is that I don’t like the taste of hardly any alcohol, I’ve only recently started drinking beer because a local bar I go to on Thursday nights has dollar beers and I can’t pass up a good deal. The only other alcohol I will tolerate is whisky (because I’m an old cowboy at heart), and jager. But I love mint in drinks- it’s so yummy to me! So with that said, I settled finally on the Mosquito Mojito:
    Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum, organic agave nectar, Falernum, mint(!!!), and fresh lime juice topped with soda water. $11.25

    This was actually so delicious! You really couldn’t taste the rum and the mint was so strong, I was in heaven. The only thing was that I was slightly bummed that my drink didn’t come with the option of buying a souvenir glass. Because I like being charged extra when given the chance, I suppose. And I really, really wanted the shrunken head glass.

    So Mel came up with a solution- she would slip me her empty shrunken head glass and then order herself a brand new one so she would get another glass. And she would make the sacrifice for me of drinking both drinks. What a pal! Lol

    Trader Sam’s was so much fun! We had a blast watching the bartenders and all of the special effects- I won’t spoil anything for anyone that hasn’t gone but if you guys are on the fence about going, you definitely should. Mel and I have now added this as a Must Do for all future trips and even my mom raved about it to my uncle (who’s also an avid WDW traveler) after we got home.

    Bill settled and 2 shrunken zombie heads purchased we headed out towards the monorail to resort hop a bit before our 7pm dinner reservation at Chef Mickey’s. We got off at the Grand Floridian and spent some time looking at the shops, making sure to stop at Basin and exfoliate our hands. I’ve never bought anything at Basin but Mel is a huge fan. I’m not opposed to it, I just never see anything I’m willing to spend my hard earned pennies on so I pass.

    It was now close to 6:30 so we headed back to the monorail, and a short trip on Monorail Red later we were pointing out the 5 legged goat from Mary Blair’s mural before checking in for our reservation. :magnify: We checked in about 15 minutes early but didn’t get seated until right around our 7 reservation.

    I know Chef Mickey’s gets a lot of mixed reviews- and by mixed I mean it staggers between people hate it and people are more neutral to it. But to me, it just screams ‘First Night of Vacation’ food to me. Plus you get to meet a couple of the core characters right away. It’s just great. And maybe I just have awful-to-neutral taste buds but I don’t find the food that bad either lol.
    As soon as we were seated, all 4 characters came by one right after the other. First was Donald, then Pluto, Goofy, Minnie, followed last by the main man in charge Mickey. I’m really awkward around characters and don’t really talk to them much since I’m not so sure what to say so Mel usually handles all of the interactions and I just watch but I don’t remember anything sticking out to me about meeting them so I assume it was fine- nothing spectacular, but good.
    We ordered a couple of cokes and my mom got a pina colava (Bacardi raspberry rum with pina colada mix, and raspberry puree. $10.75). The food was decent, I really enjoyed their seafood mac&cheese and their deliciously salty rolls. Mel, like me, also found the food decent and stuck to her favorites- plain mac&cheese, mashed potatoes, and potstickers. My mom described the food as ‘edible’ which means it was as good as it was going to get and was pleased with their assortment of cheeses and chicken legs.
    Our waitress must have noticed my mom’s birthday button she was wearing because next thing we knew, she was dropping off a vanilla cupcake with sprinkles and a candle. My mom was so surprised- she’s new to the pixie dust you guys!
    We grabbed a couple of desserts from their surprisingly decent selection and after figuring out the bill, we rolled on out of their and downstairs to catch a lyft back to POR. We pulled up right before 9 and took our time leisurely walking back to the room, really soaking in the atmosphere of the resort and relishing in the fact that we were finally on a vacation that we had been planning for years.

    By the time we got back to the room our bags had finally arrived so we unpacked our things and I made sure to decorate our room window because I’m one of those people. Mel and I have done this on every single Disney trip we’ve taken together- we’ve had flamingos, Finding Dory, spooky Halloween. I just think it makes finding your room so much easier- you really don’t even need to remember the room number (because for some reason it literally never sticks in my mind), you just have to look for your decorated window like the north star in the sky. It’s perfect
    By 10, we were finished and finally climbing into bed ready for an early-ish morning the next day.

    Stay tuned for Magic Kingdom, Muppets, and Meeting Princesses!


    • Like
    Reactions: DLo

    Gina Starr

    DIS Veteran
    Mar 29, 2015
    Trader Sam’s looks sooo fun but I don’t like alcohol, like at all. Maybe they have kiddie drinks I could order cause I love Jungle Cruise and Skipper Canteen so I’m sure to love Trader Sam’s.

    I have never been to Chef Mickeys but have heard basically the same reviews. It’s a great opportunity to meet characters but the food isn’t great. I prefer meeting face characters cause they normally lead the conversation.

    My first Disney trip I had big plans of decorating my window but I didn’t for some reason and haven’t ever done it. It’s going on my list cause yours is so cute!


    DIS Veteran
    Nov 24, 2012
    Happy late birthday!

    Glad you had a good night at Trader Sam's and Chef Mickey's. There's so many drinks at Trader Sam's that I want to try but never do because I refuse to get any that I can't get a souvenir glass for:rotfl:

    Grumpy's Wife

    Dollar Tree gal here
    Jan 28, 2005
    Your first day was great! I definitely have Trader Sam's on my list of things to do next trip.

    So glad your mom finally got back to Disney. I hope you all had a wonderful trip. I look forward to hearing all about it.


    Disney News and Updates

    Get Daily Email Updates