Anyway, before I get to “the end”, I wanted to throw together a list of one favorite memory per park for the whole trip (mouthful!). Here goes:
I hate drawing attention to myself so you can imagine how thrilled I was to receive the bride + groom ears from my mom (love ya Mom!). Not only did I have to schlep them down to Orlando in a separate bag to keep them from smushing (I tried to forget them) but people were going to. Look. At. Me. But, you know, you only get one honeymoon and my mom was expecting (demanding) some earful pictures. So we wore them. Only during two full days at the park (they hurt after awhile).
One of the days we were in the Magic Kingdom, it was still pretty early and basically a ghost town in Tomorrowland. Cast members were actually begging us to say hi to Stitch. So we did. And he fought James, stole me away, and then stepped on my foot. (Always the charmer.)
A fun character moment, right?
But the best by far was the one James mentioned in his first guest post: Chip and Dale marrying us. Never in my many visits to Disney did I have that long of an encounter with characters. Not even when I was younger. (Although to be honest, I was probably less receptive then.) It wasn’t even like we were alone. Chip and Dale orchestrated our “vow renewal” for an audience. I know if I were on that line watching it happen to someone else – I would have loved it. I hope these guests felt the same way. It’s going to take a lot to top that – believe me. (And kudos to the cast member for taking such awesome pictures!)
So the World Showcase is pretty empty when it first opens, and James and I were able to scout out a lot of the Flower & Garden festival masterpieces we had missed the first time.
We took our time walking through Morocco, and stopped in Japan for some candy and ate it along the rest of the Lagoon (cookies & cream chocolate is a must!).
We stopped at Mexico’s fast service for lunch in its new seating area. A delicious choice, especially topped off with 2 cold Dos Equis beers.
Upon leaving that day, we walked by flowery figure of Lotso at the main entrance and realized the new scent of strawberries wafting from the foliage was actually coming from Lotso himself! (Seriously, how imaginative [yet simple] was that?)
This moment was a nice wind-down, especially after waking up at the crack of dawn and dealing with some excruciating afternoon heat.
James and I found ourselves saying “but it’s our honeymoon!” basically our entire trip. A built-in excuse to have these “once in a lifetime” experiences. This is why the day before our cruise, James was on the phone booking the African Trek in AK for the day we returned from the cruise a.k.a. our last full day. The price was a little steep at $189 a person but – say it with me – “it’s our honeymoon!” (See how that works?) So on Saturday, after our Mexico lunch, we headed over to AK for the tour.
We met behind Tusker House and were efficiently fitted for vests, given full water bottles, and lined up to walk around a rickety bridge to test how well we could handle the rest of the course (so easy). Our group was tiny – about 12 people. We were the only couple, latched on to two different families.
Led by 2 tour guides, we took a route parallel to the safari and headed through the wilderness. Our tour guides were really great and kept the tour moving with their knowledge and humor. We got to watch a hippo feeding (crazy!) and crossed 2 rickety bridges via zipline (really tame without any “zipping” involved). Next, we were whisked off on a private safari jeep, armed with binoculars and cooling towels. (It was dreadfully hot. I was probably a bit dehydrated.)
While it’s hard to say what I enjoyed the most during the trek, this part was close to my favorite. Unlike the safari, we were able to pull off the path whenever there was an animal experience to be had. The first was a giraffe that came so close it could have hopped into our jeep. It was truly amazing.
After wandering along the safari, we stopped at an outpost in the middle of the Savannah, where we had a lunch break – a small African sampling brought in from Tusker House. Delicious! For about 45 minutes, we were able to watch the Savannah and even got to see a baby elephant wandering in the distance. It was so nice to have an uninterrupted opportunity to take in all the wildlife, at your own pace.
Afterwards, we climbed back on the jeep one last time and had a fun experience with the white rhinos who are basically afraid of every noise in the world and just about fled when we approached them. Who knew such a mean looking animal was such a scaredy-cat?
Before we left the tour for good, we were able to choose which cause we wanted a portion of our admission fee to go to. I chose the white rhino. I thought that was a perfect way to end the tour especially after hearing just how much Disney has done through all their work in AK and beyond.
While I wish there was a bit more dialogue associated with the tour at times, it was truly an amazing experience. I loved how close up we got to everything and how knowledgeable and receptive our tour guides were. I would have also liked one more run around the safari after lunch – you know how you never catch the same thing twice (especially since we saw no cats at all).
I loved seeing AK this way. I’m pretty sure most people are unaware of the lengths Disney goes to to help the real “animal kingdom” and how much is already being done throughout the park.
I’d definitely be up for trying this tour again, especially if more was added in the future (as I heard they will be doing). Sure the price is a bit high, but (when we went) it included a full disk of pictures taken during the trek, including the ones the photographer took of us during lunch. Definitely a great experience all the way around even if you felt like it was still in the experimental stage.
It was on our final night that classifies as our last favorite moment. Hard to fathom, right? If you remember from here, we dined at Mama Melrose (our original plan was Yachtsman Steakhouse but with the Trek and discovering there would be another Fantasmic show, we changed things up a bit) and once we were sufficiently stuffed, it was darker and cooler outside. We strolled with our full bellies around the Streets of America and stumbled into our second go-round of MuppetVision 3D. (I also found the key under the mat; that Hidden Secrets book proved invaluable!)
It was small and short-lived moment before Fantasmic but it was nice to find a stolen moment in a spot of the park that was basically empty at that hour. Even though neither of us wanted to admit defeat, we were pooped. (We were even talking about heading to our fourth park of the day after Fantasmic — this didn’t end up happening.) I just remember how nice it felt to chat and wander in the park like we had the whole place to ourselves.
So there you have it – our honeymoon complete. Sure it didn’t take as much planning time (or stress) as the wedding but it flew by just as fast. Of course, the best moments always pass so quickly. And while our honeymoon destination may not be the ideal for other couples, we can’t imagine spending our post-wedding time anywhere else. The park time + the cruise really were the perfect mix of fun and relaxation. The food, the islands, and even the bride + groom ears were the best way to preface our newlywed life.
When we arrived home, we popped Toy Story 3 into our DVD player and enjoyed a case of Newcastle, just like we did that final night on the cruise. All we could do was keep the magic going for as long as possible… isn’t that what marriage is all about anyway?