"It's Because This Wand CHOSE Me!" Sept 2017 TR *COMPLETE* 3/1 x2

Discussion in 'Universal Studios Trip Reports' started by khertz, Oct 21, 2017.

  1. MeghanEmily

    MeghanEmily DIS Veteran

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    Neat! I've never seen this before!

    :rotfl: Yep, they've definitely heard that somewhere! Funny!

    This is a cool shot. It's interesting how something you've looked at so many times can look brand new from a different angle.

    Naturally! The rule of strawberry icees is that whenever you see one, you get one.
     
  2. skier_pete

    skier_pete DIsney-holics Anon

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    I like the Hogwarts express but it is so *slight*. I mean if you weren't a Harry Potter fan, would you get any pleasure from it? A great theme park ride does not rely solely on prior knowledge to entertain. And as a transportation system it's fine except for the humongous lines and the fact you have to by a 2-park pass to even use it. (Can you tell that it irritates me?)

    It doesn't look like the Hogsmeade crowds were very large though, that would make it nice doing the magic wand stuff. The wand stuff is great, but when there are 18 people in line to do each of them, it detracts a little bit as well.

    Love the Discovery Center - though it needs an update.

    Almost can't believe we'll be there in 12 days - it's so freakin' cold here. (16 degrees at noon).
     
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  4. khertz

    khertz Proud member of the WHO DAT NATION!!

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    It's really cool to watch others go through! Really great that they added that effect.

    Kids can be so funny. lol

    I agree! DH always seems to get this picture and it's one of my favorite views of the castle.

    Especially when it took us SO LONG to find them!!

    lol Yes I can see where it would be irritating! But it doesn't bother us because getting park to park tickets is automatic for us. With the parks so close together, I couldn't imagine getting one park per day passes unless we were REALLY strapped for cash and trying to go super cheap. It's just too tempting to have the other park so close!

    It's like Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. It's not as fun to do it when you've watched 10 people in front of you do it. I was glad we found it less crowded this day because I was a little disheartened to see it SO busy the evening before when we had made it over there. I was hoping it wouldn't always be like that.

    I agree, most of it is pretty dated. But luckily my 7 year old doesn't notice! lol So it still keeps him entertained and me out of the heat.

    So jealous! I keep remembering we were trying to be there this week, but couldn't work it out. My parents are leaving today for a cruise so they couldn't keep DD for us. But *fingers crossed* we should be back in September once more before the APs expire.
     
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  5. khertz

    khertz Proud member of the WHO DAT NATION!!

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    Day 5 Continued: Saturday September 23rd

    When I left off, Kong was down, so we walked over to Super Hero Island to finally get a child swap on Incredible Hulk! We definitely couldn’t leave on our last day without having ridden this at all! Because you go through the metal detectors before getting on this ride, I wasn’t sure how it would work with lockers and child swap. We asked a TM and since the entrance for those utilizing the child swap, this time DH and DS, was through the exit, we didn’t have to put our bags and stuff in lockers. Most of the other rides, everyone goes into the same line together and then separates for the rider swap, so just a tip for those who may be child swapping this one. You still don’t have to bother with the lockers and can leave your stuff with the non-rider.


    I went first, and it was amazing, as always! Never get tired of that fast launch right into going upside down! When I came off, DH and DS were waiting in the child swap room right on the exit platform, and DH was able to get right onto the next train, so it was a fairly quick child swap process.

    Per DS’s request, we next did Spider-Man again. I have lost count of how many times we went on this!


    We shopped in the gift shop after since DS was in a big Spider-Man phase at the time and still had some money left to spend. He ended up picking out some Spider-Man pencils to use for school. We stopped in Captain America’s Diner to fill our cup with some ice water, and when we came out it was starting to sprinkle. We saw in the app that Kong was back up, so we thought it would be a good way to wait out the rain and hurried over to get in line.


    It was good timing too because it started raining harder just as we got into the covered queue! The Express line was a bit backed up because of the ride having been down, but we didn’t mind the time out of the rain. It ended up taking about 30 minutes in the Express queue and the ride skipped the short outside portion.

    It had stopped raining by the time we came out, so we passed through Jurassic Park to check out the wait time over at Poseidon’s Fury. It’s one of those things we never do because it takes so long, but we had talked about taking the time for it this trip since we had a few days and DS had never done it.

    While passing through, we watched a few rafts come down on the River Adventure.


    A pass through the Wizarding World.


    As we were walking past the train station, DS asked to sit down and take a break. All the walking had started to catch up with him, but I was happy he wasn’t complaining like I thought he might (and like he had the night of the Halloween party). So we rested our feet for a few minutes on the rocks and people watched. He knew the plan was to leave the park soon after doing Poseidon’s Fury, so he asked if we could ride Forbidden Journey again since it was his favorite. I’d had enough of that ride for one trip, so I sat with the stuff while DH took him on one more time. The two of them got all the way on the ride and loaded before a TM realized they hadn’t measured DS and made all 4 people on the car get off to measure him. It was a little odd considering they really hadn’t measured DS on that ride all week!

    When they came back, we continued on to Lost Continent to get in line for Poseidon’s Fury.

    We didn’t realize this attraction has “show times” so we got in line with about 15 minutes to go before the 4:50 show. Not too bad, but longer than I’d like to wait for something like this.

    It was super cheesy, but funnier than I had remembered, so it was worth doing once. Now I don’t feel the need to do it again for several more years/trips. When we left, I looked at DH and said, “This CAN’T be the last thing we do on this trip!” So as we walked through Seuss Landing, we asked DS if he wanted to do anything there again and he said the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride so we did that again.


    It had been drizzling off and on but was starting to rain a little harder, so DH put the camera up and we stopped to put our ponchos on for the walk out of the park.

    We had decided earlier to have dinner at NBC Sports Grill & Brew in Citywalk, so that was our destination as we exited Islands of Adventure. We got seated right away. It was cool to see (and smell!) all of the burgers cooking in the center of the restaurant.


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    DH got a burger, DS got the kids sliders, and I went with the chicken macaroni & cheese. We all really enjoyed our meals!

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    While we were eating, we talked about how much fun we’d had and how we wished we didn’t have to leave the next day. Then we started discussing logistics of what time to leave the hotel to get to the airport in enough time before our flight, and an idea hit DH and I at the same time. Our flight wasn’t until noon, and we didn’t need to leave for the airport until 8:45 or 9, so why couldn’t we put those brand new APs to good use and squeeze in one more 7 am early entry in Diagon Alley?!

    Excited that we would be able to get a little more park time before leaving the next day, we took the boat back to Royal Pacific after dinner and spent the evening packing up our stuff to leave the next day and showering before getting to bed.

    UP NEXT: One More Magical Morning
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
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  6. missangelalexis

    missangelalexis DIS Veteran

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    Haha I love that you declared that Poseidons Fury would not be your last attraction!

    Love DH's pics from the trolley ride!

    Sounds like a nice dinner stop! Your mac and cheese looks delish!

    YES to you guys squeezing in one final park morning before your flight! Can't wait to hear about it.
     
  7. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

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    Last Park day is always the best and not the saddest when you have time to do that one last ride again on your departure day
     
  8. amazingact21

    amazingact21 Upendi

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    That's good information to know about the child swap and the Hulk. Not sure I'll be back before Evie phases out of the child stage, but if I am it's nice to know I don't need to get a locker!

    Haha, one more ride on Forbidden Journey! I can't wait to see how many times DS drags you on the coasters when he gets older.
    And maybe the Team Member was new and didn't want to mess up?

    Hooray to realizing you could squeeze in some more Universal time the following morning!
     
  9. MeghanEmily

    MeghanEmily DIS Veteran

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    Nice! Nathan loves this ride, too. One of his favourites in Orlando. Sounds like fun!

    Saved by the queue! Good timing!

    Good for DS for asking for what he needed without getting upset or complaining! Sometimes I need a break, too. Vacationing is a lot of work! :laughing:

    That's weird! And awkward for all of them in that vehicle to have to get out at the last minute!

    :rotfl:Poseidon's Fury isn't exactly the high note anyone wants to end their vacation on! The trolley was a much better choice! I love the views you get of the park from that ride. :-)

    Yay!! I'm all about squeezing as much park time in as possible! Being able to get into and out of the parks quickly is really an awesome thing about being onsite at USO.
     
  10. khertz

    khertz Proud member of the WHO DAT NATION!!

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    With all of the great stuff in the park and after all the fun we'd had, I just couldn't end on something like Poseidon's Fury!!! lol But after skipping it for many trips, I am actually glad we took the time to do it since it was something DH and I hadn't experienced in a long time, and DS had never done it.

    The Trolley ride is definitely photogenic!

    The chicken mac & cheese was REALLY good, but I was having a little food envy over DH's burger, because it was really good too. Lots of good choices there, and it wasn't terribly expensive either, so it was a nice last meal.

    It was so funny how the idea hit both of us at the same time! I'm so glad we think so much alike. lol

    It was really exciting to realize we could add on another morning and delay our departure from the parks just a tiny bit longer!!

    It's SO nice to still be able to leave things with the non-rider and not have to get a locker! I appreciate that they have them and they're free, but they can end up a real hassle at times.

    I hope he gets more adventurous when it comes to coasters...I still can't get him on Big Thunder! But Forbidden Journey he'd do 10 times in a row if I let him. Go figure!

    Could be, we just thought it was funny that he didn't really get measured the whole trip, and this time not only did he get measured, he got pulled out of his seat to do so!! Definitely don't mind him getting measured, I am all about ride safety. I get so annoyed when I see people talking about stuffing toilet paper in their kids' shoes to make them taller!!

    It's always a great moment when you realize you can fit in just a little more park time!!

    It's one of my favorites too! I was a little disappointed only to have time to ride it once this trip, so hopefully next time I can get in another ride or two.

    Gotta love those indoor queues!!!

    He very much surprised me with his maturity this trip. I think not having DD with us, and getting more attention, plus going more at his pace really did wonders. He was his typical self whining at the Halloween party and I was hoping not renting a stroller would not be a huge mistake, but he was so great the rest of the trip. I was really proud of him! And we got to do so much in the time we were there that sitting to take a break whenever needed was no problem.

    Yeah, DH said it was super awkward and he felt bad for the other people in the vehicle!! lol

    We all love the Trolley! Not the biggest or fastest, but definitely one of the best, and definitely a better way to cap off a great trip over Poseidon's Fury. lol

    Absolutely!! Had this been a Disney parks trip, I don't think we would have attempted a park on departure morning, even with a later flight. It's much more work getting into and out of a park than just a short boat ride or walk over from your hotel room.
     
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  11. khertz

    khertz Proud member of the WHO DAT NATION!!

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    Sorry for the long delay since the last update! It's been a busy few weeks around here with lots of preparation for our upcoming Viking cruise around Italy with the DIS Unplugged team!! Still trying to figure out if/where/how I'm going to do a TR for that trip, because I know I will want some recollection of it and I know DH is going to take a million photos, but I don't know if or where I'll find a place for a TR here on the boards. We shall see! Hopefully I can post some pictures on Instagram (I hardly ever use it anymore except on vacations!). I'm @disneymom1024 on there if you'd like to follow.

    Day 6: Sunday September 24th

    On our last morning, we were up at 6 am to get dressed and pack up our last few toiletries and our pajamas to make sure all of our bags were in order. We were down at the boat dock by 6:30 am to soak in one more early entry hour at Universal Studios.

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    We were let into the park at 6:50 and made our way over to Diagon Alley.

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    Blurry but happy DS!

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    We went over to Gringotts first, and DS was asking not to ride. We talked about doing child swap, but realized that would end up taking up most of our hour, so we convinced him to ride with the promise that it would give him time to do some magic spots before we had to leave.

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    It was a good thing DS agreed to ride with us because it was already 7:25 am by the time we finished riding. We let him pick a couple of his favorite magic spots and let him go practice some spellwork.

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    Wingardium Leviosa was his favorite!

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    Since he had wanted to ride Minions the day before as his last attraction in Studios but we had skipped due to the long wait time, we decided we had enough time for that to be the last thing we did this morning. So we headed up to the front of the park. But not before one last picture of our little wizard in Diagon Alley.

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    Until next time…Mischief Managed.
    We had to explain our way through a few roped off areas to get to the front of the park, and the TM we talked to was from Baton Rouge and she couldn’t understand why we were leaving the park so early. We told her we were sadly on our way home but were trying to squeeze in just a little more park time, so she let us through. Lol

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    Then it was really REALLY time to go.

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    We walked down to the boat dock and spotted Captain Bonnie! So as we boarded, I made sure to tell her how we knew her neighbor, and she was thrilled to hear the story! We ended up being the only three people on her boat yet again as no one else was headed from the parks to the resorts at this time of the morning. While we waited just in case anyone else wanted to board, DS was NOT happy to be leaving.

    His “I can’t believe this trip is over” pout.

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    Once it was determined no one else would be joining us, Bonnie asked if DS was ready to work again for his last boat ride, and he was able to go up and help her honk the horn and make the all ashore call once again.

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    After thanking Bonnie for making our boat rides so special, it was time to head back up to the room to get our luggage.

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    We requested a Lyft ride on our way down to the lobby and within a few minutes, our ride was there to pick us up and we were on our way to MCO. We arrived pretty early, which gave us plenty of time to get through security and take a tram over to the B side of the airport to get to our gate. Boarding wasn’t supposed to start until 11:15 and we wanted to make sure we had something to eat before the flight, so around 10:45 DH went over to Wendy’s to grab us some lunch.

    One of our worries about flying Spirit was that we weren’t sure they would let us gate check or carry on DS’s backless booster seat. We had agreed before the trip that since we could replace it pretty cheap, we would just leave it behind if they wouldn’t let us, but it was kind of annoying not to know or be able to find the info online. Thankfully it was our flight home so it didn’t really matter but it would have stressed me out a lot had it been our flight there and we would need it once we arrived. I went to ask at the gate and ended up being able to gate check it for free with no issue so that was good. Normally on longer trips, we pack it in our checked luggage, but with the weight limit of only 40 lbs and having to pay for each checked bag, we only had one so luggage space was at a premium and we didn’t have room for the booster seat in our one suitcase.

    The plane itself was nothing special, but it was just fine for a short flight home. Definitely no frills, but I wasn’t expecting much with the cheap fare.

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    Something kind of funny that happened when we landed…Instead of having all of the gate checked items out when people started getting off of the plane, they waited until pretty much everyone else was off the plane and had everyone waiting for gate checked items line up along the wall as they brought items out one at a time. A family came off the plane and was ignoring the system they had set up and demanding their stroller. The lady working there kept trying to tell him she understood he needed his stroller but that he needed to join the line. Finally she said, “Yes, you need to wait in line over here where there’s obviously a line just like I told you!” It was funny but so obvious we weren’t on vacation anymore. Lol My mom and DD picked us up, and after a quick pit stop to let my mom hop in another vehicle with my dad so they could head home and we could head to our house, we were on our way home.

    And just like that, our short but sweet and magical trip to Universal Orlando had come to an end!!
     
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  12. khertz

    khertz Proud member of the WHO DAT NATION!!

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    Final Thoughts
    CROWDS: This was our first trip to any of the Orlando parks in September (checking months off the list…we have now been in every month except January and June!) and it was the super low crowds we have always heard and read about but never experienced ourselves. I don’t know what WDW was like all week, but DH and I even remarked to each other at the MNSSHP that it was the least crowded one we had ever experience, despite two of our previous three parties also not being sold out. The crowds at Universal were also very light, with most things having wait times of 30 minutes or less, even the Harry Potter attractions. There was a noticeable increase in crowds on Saturday compared to the weekdays, but still not bad at all. I think we would have still be able to do everything we wanted multiple times even if we had not had the unlimited Express Passes.

    WEATHER: Another thing I have heard and read about September is the absolutely miserable weather…extreme heat, smothering humidity, rain every single day, etc. We were pleasantly surprised to have a totally different experience! It may have been a total fluke and we just chose the best days of the month to be there, and I doubt we could ever get so lucky again, but the weather was almost pleasant. Yeah, I said it! Every day was hot, I’m not going to lie and say it wasn’t, but the humidity was only 50-60% every day, so it was actually cool in the shade and when there was a breeze. When the sun went down, it actually cooled off slightly as well to be comfortable. And we only experienced that little bit of rain on Saturday, so no afternoon thunderstorms every day in the parks.

    RESORT: After having a rough experience the last time we stayed at Royal Pacific in February 2016, I was a little nervous about staying there again. But we were trying to do this trip on the cheaper side, and this was the cheapest of the three hotels that offer express, so we went with it again. It was a much better experience this time around. The room didn’t feel small with only 3 of us, and we were able to keep it nice and cold. We actually had time to check out the pool, which was really nice. The boat with the sprayers and other water features was a big hit with DS. It would have been nice to have one more afternoon for pool time in there, but I was just happy we got to fit it in at least once since we always say we are going to and then don’t.

    MNSSHP: Despite leaving earlier than we would have hoped, we had a blast at the party! I’m so glad we were able to go because it would have killed me to be so close and not get to go. The Halloween party is probably my very favorite thing to do in WDW! It was great having some time to get on a few rides before the party started, getting a head start on trick or treating since they opened some of the lines before 7, and of course getting to see the parade and fireworks.

    DOING A UNIVERSAL-ONLY TRIP: I was super excited to be doing a (mostly – minus MNSSHP) Universal-only trip, and it didn’t disappoint at all! Several people told me 4 days was too many, but we could have easily kept ourselves occupied there for a full week! We loved getting a chance to do our favorites multiple times, and getting time to sit and watch some of the shows and live entertainment we usually pass over. We loved the Freestyle cups and popcorn bucket refills and took plenty of time to sit down with a snack and rest our feet on a bench. Getting extra time in the Wizarding Worlds to do magic with DS’s interactive wands was so much fun, especially once we got the hang of it. Those are all things we can’t do when we only have 2 days to fit everything in and have to child swap pretty much everything because of DD. We missed her a lot but it was great to get some time with just DS and getting to enjoy everything together instead of having to take turns with him.

    Overall, it was an amazing and fun trip, with its own magic totally different from what we experience at WDW! We are hoping with our APs we can squeeze in another few days before they expire to do a similar sort of trip. I hope you enjoyed following along with this TR as much as we enjoyed the trip, and as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you all!

    If you want a different take on this TR, I had an opportunity to record a trip report podcast with the DIStracted Life Podcast! It’s a fun podcast that gives me a way to take trip reports on the go with me when I don’t have time to DIS as much as I’d like to. I was on episode 133 this time around, which you can check out on the website here: http://distractedlifepodcast.com/show-notes/universal-orlando-trip-report/

    Or on iTunes if that’s how you roll for podcasts. In case you missed it, I also did Episode 125 to share our Disneyland trip earlier in the year.

    Thanks so much to everyone who has followed along and commented throughout! I love getting to relive my trips back once I get home through writing the TRs, and it's even more fun to do that while sharing it with others!!
     
  13. missangelalexis

    missangelalexis DIS Veteran

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    Sounds like your last morning went perfectly! You were able to ride 2 rides, DS was able to cast some spells, and you got one last trip with Bonnie!

    This sounds like it was a really fun trip! I am sure it was nice getting to really experience the parks at a nice pace vs squeezing everything in!

    Your cruise will be here before you know it! I hope you have a fabulous time!
     
  14. Dugette

    Dugette DIS Veteran

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    Just finished reading. Enjoyed the trip and hope to hear about the cruise as well!
     
  15. amazingact21

    amazingact21 Upendi

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    I hope you can find a place to write a report for your Italy cruise! I absolutely loved your ABD report and used it to help me when planning my Rome trip. And since I might be doing a Mediterranean Disney Cruise in 2019 I might need some more tips about Italy!

    I think my favorite picture from your entire report was the one you got of DS on your last morning. Standing in an empty Diagonal Alley holding his wand up...I now know what photo I want to get of Landon the next time I take him back!

    Making you form a line for your gate checked items...that’s different. I guess that ensures nobody walks off with your stroller but still a weird idea.
     
  16. khertz

    khertz Proud member of the WHO DAT NATION!!

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    It was really great to get that little bit of bonus time before leaving. We wished we could stay another week!! Also getting to ride with Bonnie again was an awesome last bit of magic to cap off an awesome trip.

    Getting to take our time instead of cramming everything into a day or two was such a nice change of pace. I really enjoyed getting the time to really explore some of the things we usually skip over, and getting to ride our favorites over and over as many times as we wanted.

    Just a little over 2 weeks away!! I'm so excited!

    Thanks!!

    I don't know if it would be annoying, but I may squeeze it in on the DIS Unplugged board since that's where the trip really originated. We shall see. I'm sure it will end up somewhere because I always can't wait to share.

    That's one of my favorites too! He really had a total blast in the Wizarding World, and it showed. I loved getting to spend that time with him.

    It was so strange, but everyone was rolling with it except for that last guy who wanted to buck the system. lol
     
  17. MeghanEmily

    MeghanEmily DIS Veteran

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    Thanks so much for sharing this trip with us!! It sounds like it was such a great opportunity to enjoy some special quality time with your DS. I'm such a Disney person that I feel like I'd have a hard time doing a Universal-only trip without caving and popping over to Disney, but I think it worked out perfectly that you got your little Disney fix with the MNSSHP! I really enjoyed hearing all about your trip memories. :)
     
  18. afwdwfan

    afwdwfan DIS Dad #460

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    There's got to be a place. If all else fails put it in the DCL forum and if people don't want to read it they don't have to! I don't think they'd be too upset about a TR for a Dis sponsored event being in the wrong category!

    This looks like it was an awesome trip. And I totally agree that 4 days isn't too long. I'm so used to rushing to just try to get to the things we feel like we need to do that it would be nice to have that extra time to relax and enjoy some of the attractions we don't get to do as often and hit the favorites more than once. Respect for your last morning and cramming in as much as you can!

    Enjoy the cruise, and I definitely want to see that TR somewhere!
     

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