Friday – Getting there and Expo
I got up at 5:00 to get everything ready. I left my house just before 6. There was very little traffic at that hour. I got to the Park ‘n’ Go lot a little earlier than I had planned. I can’t say enough how much I love the Park ‘n’ Go lot. They directed me to a spot. I waited less than 5 minutes for the shuttle to come directly to my car. The driver loaded my bad onto the shuttle. I also had a backpack. He handed me the yellow slip to let the return driver know exactly where I was parked. We made 2 more stops to pick up people and then headed to the airport. They drop off on the A end on the baggage claim level. I went inside and up the escalator. The A security had a little line so I thought I’d keep going closer to C since that would be closer to my gate. Well, B was for TSA-pre check. C ended up being for priority. D was another TSA-pre check. I learned the only places for regular security are A and E; both ends. I walked all the way down to E. My bag was flagged so the TSA guy pulled a few things out and ran it back through. It still didn’t clear so he did a manual inspection and decided it was okay. Later I figured out that judging by the area of interest, it was probably being flagged for the glow bracelets I had packed. I didn’t think about it, but there is liquid inside of those.
Having cleared security, I headed towards my gate. The Starbucks lines were pretty long so I decided to skip the coffee. I made a bathroom stop and got a large bottle of water from one of the little stores. After sitting at the gate, I chatted with the lady next to me who was also going to the Princess Half marathon. Soon, our plane arrived. Shortly after the plane was emptied, people started crowding the boarding area. I really wish people would stop that. How is anyone supposed to get on the plane? Honestly, it was worse on my flight back, but I’ll get to that. The lady I was talking to boarded shortly before I did. I used a mobile boarding pass for the first time. It worked very well. My bag fit lengthwise in the overhead. I squished my backpack under the seat after taking out my Kindle. I also shoved my jacket under the seat and it ended up a little up the side since I was in a window seat. There was a couple sitting on my aisle seat and the one in front. Eventually, a business man came to take the middle seat in front of me. They asked him to switch with the lady in my aisle seat. Of course, for him it was a no brainer. The flight attendant even made a joke about it.
Soon, we were fully boarded and ready to go. I knew there were storms coming so I was hoping we would beat them. Well, they closed the door and moved the jet way, but we didn’t move anywhere. Just about the time I was getting really frustrated, I got a text from Jamie about her flight. She had been slightly delayed. We were supposed to arrive within 10 minutes of each other. I was watching both of our flights on FlightAware. If you haven’t seen them before, FlightAware and Flight Stats are two apps I use all the time to see flight status, location, and information. It started raining. Soon after, the captain told us the delay was not the weather but the fact that only one runway was being used for take offs. We had not yet been given clearance to push back. Soon, 30 minutes after the doors closed, we pushed back. We sat on the tarmac for another 10 minutes before getting in line for takeoff. I was watching Jamie’s flight and she was very close to my area before we finally took off. She was coming from Chicago. I thought she might beat me there, but we would be close again. We finally took off about an hour late. Due to the storm, there was a lot of turbulence in the first 20 minutes. They asked everyone to stay seated unless absolutely necessary. I did get a bit queasy during this time. Finally they were able to serve drinks. I got a Ginger Ale to help calm my stomach. It worked wonders. I forget how good it is, too. The rest of the flight was great. We landed and taxied a long way to the gate. We got in just after 10. Shortly after getting to the gate, I got a text from Jamie that she had just landed. I deplaned, used the bathroom (which is difficult with a rolling bag) and sat in the area between the gates just before the monorail. I texted Jamie what I was wearing so she could find me. In just a few minutes, she found me. I put on my bracelets and magic band and gave ones to her.
We both made our way to the Disney’s Magical Express. We decided to take the elevator down. Since we had our Magic Bands, we just had to touch them to the reader to get on the bus. Only one person per room has to do that. We waited for only a few minutes in line before our bus was there. We got on letting them load our larger carryon bags underneath since there is no room on the bus for them. We were both tired and excited. We got to know each other better on the ride. Honestly, it would have been hard to find a better roommate for me. Our personalities and vacation styles are very similar. After one stop at Port Orleans French Quarter, we got off at Port Orleans Riverside. I had done the online check in so we got in that line. It was taking a little while. We were next in line when Brian, the concierge, called us over. He was amazing. He told us our room was ready (at noon) and we couldn’t believe it. He also went to get the goody bags the travel agent had left for us. Thank you so much Jennifer at Destinations in Florida. He also changed Jamie’s Magic Band to use her credit card. He was extremely helpful. Our room number was 8725 in building 85 which was one of the manor house style buildings.
The location was great. It was across the bridge from the main swimming pool. It was on the second floor, but the stairs didn’t bother us much.
We got to the room and unpacked. I had brought things to decorate our window and Jamie was more than happy to help me do that.
I know at some point before we went to the Expo, we got our refillable mugs from the main food court, but I can’t remember if it was before or after we went to the room. I have to say, having the dining plan was easy and convenient.
Soon, after changing into more suitable clothes for FL, we made our way to the front of the lobby. The Expo bus was waiting there. We got on with no wait. They waited a few more minutes and then we were off.
This year the Expo was back at Wide World of Sports.
I will admit, this was a much better place for it than the Coronado Springs convention center last year. It didn’t seem nearly as crowded. There was a truck giving away Dannon Greek yogurt. They only had blueberry, but we both took some. We were hungry so we ate one before entering the packet pick up area. Jamie needed to print out her waiver. The machines were just before entering the rest of the area. She printed it off quickly and signed it. Then we made our way into the area.
This is where Jamie and I decided we were having a charmed weekend. First, both our flights were delayed about the same so we got to the airport together. Next, our room was ready way earlier than is typical. Then, there were no lines for packet pick up. We went to the Glass Slipper lines for our bib numbers. I had brought my waiver from home. I didn’t realize until I tried to hand it over that I had failed to sign it. That was easily remedied. They gave me my bib, sticker for the bag check, a card for my commemoratives, and coast 2 coast bracelet. We then went over to the shirt line (non-existent). For Glass Slipper, this was in the same area as bib pickup. It was very handy. They had all 3 shirts in our clear plastic bag for bag check. They also had a tiny Ziploc with 4 safety pins. I think there were a few other things in the bag like a small Luna bar. We then made our way to Commemorative items. I handed them the card and they gave me a large envelope with a half necklace and glass slipper necklace I had pre-ordered along with the race retreat bracelet. We walked through the small official merchandise area in this building and then made our way to the main Expo.
The entrance has you walk down a red carpet which is a nice touch. Before entering, there were 2 footmen taking pictures.
There were only 2 people waiting. We decided to get our picture together here. On first entering, you walk through some concessions areas and then are on a balcony overlooking everything.
It is a little overwhelming, but looked less crowded than last year. I should say we were there about 1. We walked down the stairs and the first area we encountered was Lasting Memories. They had some great displays for Coast to Coast with duplicate medals. I was contemplating ordering one when they got a line. I knew I had a tight schedule because I had a tea at 3:40 and needed to leave about 2:15. So, we kept going. I saw the Marathon Photo booth and knew they were running a special. Knowing I was planning to stop for character pictures this year, I bought the $100 for $65 gift certificate. I’m hoping I won’t spend much more then $100 on pictures and then I’m covered. We walked around some more and saw the shirt line for the half and 10k in this area. We found Raw Threads since I wanted a different shirt for Tea. I found a pretty blue Castle to Castle. Check out was quick and they email your receipt. We walked by Sparkle Skirts and I ran into a Princess Posse member working there. She knew me from the Sparkle Skirt I was wearing. We said hello and she told me about another member there but we wanted to get to the Official Merchandise area before I had to leave. We saw some cute flip flops while walking around, but I didn’t get them. I think they might be a future buy, though. We decided to visit the Official Merchandise area next. Again, there was no line! I couldn’t believe it. Last year there was a constant line for that area. We walked in and found the “I did it!” shirts for the Glass Slipper Challenge. They still had my size. I also got a shirt for my son and daughter. I was very happy to see shirts that weren’t too girly this year. We walked around and had lots of space. Jamie picked up a few things. We went to the check out area and the line was very small. I used my Magic Band to pay. Soon, we were walking around again. We went back to the Sparkle Skirts booth. We both love their skirts. Jamie was thinking about getting another one. I said goodbye to Jamie thinking I needed to run to make the Tea. I ran into the other Princess Posse member and her friend. We snapped a picture and they told me about the Tea.
They had been the night before. They told me I needed to get the trifle. I thanked them and turned to leave and ran into a Glass Slipper Challenge (GSC) Facebook member. I was giving out purple bracelets to that group. She introduced herself to me as Gabby. She also introduced her friend, but I can’t remember her name. I gave them both bracelets and then went to find the bathrooms. I changed into my new blue shirt. It did look better than the black on I had on.
I ran into Jaime again on the way out. Oh, she had agreed to deliver a present to All Star Sports for me. We walked to the buses together. She got on the All Star one and I found the one for the Grand Floridian. Soon after boarding the bus, it started raining. We sat for a few minutes before leaving. As we were driving to the first stop at the Polynesian, it stopped raining. The second stop was the Grand Floridian. I asked the people up front where to find the Tea. They told me it was in the room at the back on the lobby. I thought I was running late so I walked fast to the area. I heard someone call my name as I got close. It was Bettina. I really enjoyed meeting everyone. Gwendolyn made the experience a lot of fun, too. We were waiting on one more person who was parking. Soon she arrived and we were eventually seated at a round table by the windows. I sat between Bettina and Gwendolyn. Bettina has a Gluten allergy and the other lady we were waiting for had a Gluten and egg allergy. The manager came and told them what he could do for them. The lady with the egg allergy said she got sick after last year.
We all decided to do the Grand Tea which included a glass of sparkling wine. That was the first thing we got.
We made a toast and started drinking.
There was a table next to us with a charming older couple that I think were from Canada. We commented that we felt sorry for them. They were probably trying to have a romantic tea and we were laughing and talking about lady parts. Eventually, our tea came. Each person gets their own pot with a warmer. Those warmers worked really well, too. My tea was still warm at the end of a very long meal.
I got the Mad Hatter tea. It is a special blend for Disney. I really enjoyed it. After a while, our tea sandwiches came. The people with allergies did have some differences.
We had a cucumber, egg salad, salmon, chicken curry, and roasted pear (from right to left in the picture). There was also an onion tart and a pate with pistachios wrapped in bacon. I decided I was going to try everything. All the sandwiches were delicious. The pate was also surprisingly good. That is not something I would have eaten otherwise. I was not fond of the onion tart, but I do not like onions in general. Next came our bread course.
We got a jam tart and a scone with currants served with a lemon curd, some kind of whipped topping, and jam. The lemon curd was amazing! I could have eaten it with a spoon but decided to be more decorous and just heap it on the scone. I tried the whipping topping but it had almost no flavor. The jam was typical strawberry. The jam tart was also good. After an extremely long wait, we were finally given our desserts. I got the bananas foster trifle based on the recommendation at the Expo.
When they delivered the desserts, the ladies with allergies did not get stencils. They were told there is gluten in the powder. The lady with the egg allergy remembers getting the stencil last year. So, she thinks that is the reason she got sick. The room was getting colder as we sat. We paid the bill (this is not covered by the dining plan) and left. I will say the floor in front of this area has some nice inlays with Mrs. Potts and Chip.
After saying goodbye to everyone, I visited the bathroom.
I made my way to the buses and boarded the bus to Downtown Disney with no wait. I was the last one to get on standing. After getting to Downtown Disney, I decided to find the ears with the Glass Slipper on them. I did get them and took them over to the store that does embroidery. I had them put on the year instead of a name. It turned out very nice. I wanted to get back to the room with my bags so I made my way to the boat dock by Rainforest Café. I was put on a boat with very little wait. Soon we were on our way back to Port Orleans. The boat is a nice way to get around for a change of pace and scenery. The first stop is French Quarter. I waited and then we continued to Riverside. After getting off the boat, I went back to the room. Jamie was there. I was already hungry again so we went to the food court to get dinner. The Riverside food court is nice. They had a Baked Ziti special which we both got. It came with a breadstick. With the meal plan, we also get a drink and dessert. I got a cookie bar and Jamie got an oatmeal cookie. We both got bottled water. Checkout was easy. Our bands scanned no problem and we figured out how to read the receipt. We sat down by the window and enjoyed our meal. I took the cookie bar back to the room and put it in a Ziploc bag. I had a message when we got back that I had a present. I went to the concierge and got a cute pink gift bag.
I was so excited. I should explain that the Princess Posse group did a spirit bag exchange. We used Elfster and you don’t know who got you until they give you the present (if they remember to say). It was a great idea and I look forward to participating again. My person did a great job! The bag was pretty. I opened it to find a FSU visor with a tiara (I was the only one at Tea that didn’t have on a tiara). It also had a necklace, bracelet, Princess Posse bracelet and tattoos, and some anti-chafe ointment. It was a great gift.
Jamie and I decided it was time for bed. We set up for a 2:45 wakeup call and I set the alarm on my phone. We turned on the Olympics and I figured out how to set the sleep timer on the TV. The remote doesn’t work. You have to get up and use the buttons on the TV for menu to get there. We both fell asleep fairly quickly.