Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Final Expedition Everest

We are back! It's been a while since we've made a post that comes from Jared or myself. We have a lot of great articles in the pipeline, so be looking to for those!

We are just over two weeks removed from my short trip to Disney World for the final Expedition Everest Challenge. Because my wife is a sub teacher about an hour and a half away from our home town, and couldn't take off, I invited my sister to come with me. So we left after we both got off work on Thursday afternoon. While the trip didn't get off to a great start, there was a major wreck on my usual route and the detour took us a 45 minutes out of the way, once we made to the interstate it was smooth sailings.

We arrived at Pop Century around 1 am, and to our surprise, the lobby was pretty full with people checking in. The castmembers did their best to accommodate the crowds and get everyone to their rooms in a timely manner. The biggest problem was that all the guest thought they were more important than the rest and were pushing for the service to be faster. I got our room  key and had a little trouble linking our magic bands, but we made our way to the room, where upon opening the footing, there was a King size bed, so I turned around and went back to the lobby and explained the problem, and within a few minutes we were set up in our room in the 60s building over looking the Pool. 

We woke up bright and early Friday morning to rope drop Magic Kingdom. I was able to get fastpasses for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in the opening hour of the park. My sister wanted to meet Anna and Elsa, so we took the detour (and about an hour wait) and got to see the lovely sisters, with a great interaction from both of them. 

After we got off the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, we made our way out of the park and made our way to Epcot. The Music Director for the church I attend had brought his group to WDW to preform in Epcot and I wanted to see his band perform. We had enough time before the band was to perform that we stopped in and watch the Tomorrowland preview, and did that make me even more excited for that movie. 

The Luverne High School Band preformed at Melody Gardens behind Innoventions West. To be completely honest, I have never seen this area in all my times on that side of the park. The stage is a temporary stage, but the seating area was set there, a good place to go a sit and just listen to a band. LHS did a great job, even if they were excited to be at Disney. 

After the concert we walked around with our friends before me and my sister split paths. I headed to the EEC expo, while my sister would enjoy some time in the park. 

RunDisney had blocked off the Butterfly parking lot to hold the expo this year, which after all the cheerleaders at the ESPN area I thought was a great idea. Boy was I wrong. The expo was small last year, but because of the limited room, it still felt like a descent size. There were three vendors set up for this year's expo, and not much selection from any of them. The bad thing was how spead out they were. 

As you can imagine, I didn't spend to much time at the expo, and after dropping my stuff off at the resort, I made my way back to Epcot to meet my sister for our lunch at Beaches and Cream. This was her first experience at the resturant and she was excited. We both got a burger, but it was the desserts that we were looking forward to. I had the Mud Slide, and it is now my new favorite. My sister got something smaller, because she was saving room for the Mickey Sink later on. 

After our fine lunch, we headed back to the Magic Kingdom for a photo op with Ariel, then hit up Princess Fairytale Hall to see Cinderella, and back to front to see Tinkerbell. I had made plans to see Avengers late that night, so we split ways again so that I could take a quick nap and be ready for the movie. Taking a nap at Pop Century with a bunch of screaming cheerleaders is very hard to do. 

I made it back to the Magic Kingdom in time to catch the middle of MSEP. While everyone was watching Celebrate the Magic, we jumped in line to see Mickey before heading out, and at the bus depot, we were able to watch Wishes while waiting for our ride home. By this time, my sister was spent and ready to get back to the room, but i was ready to see Avengers!

We made it back to the resort, I put down my stuff and headed back to buses to get to Downtown Disney. I was very concerned, by time the bus came. I had tickets for the 11:15 show and the bus showed up at 11 on the nose. I had the bus to myself and the driver was great. having conversations about the times his family was in the parks to his usual routes, and his favorite movies. He dropped me off as soon as he could but I still had a long walk to the AMC theater. I was able to sit down in the theater and get comfortable by time the Star Wars Force Awakens trailer came on.  The last bus leaves the Downtown Disney Area at 2 am, the movie was done at 1:55, so I couldn't stay for the mid credit scene like I wanted to. If there was one thing that I learned that night, is if you want to fill important, need a bus at 1:55 in the morning when no one else is heading that way. I was asked about 7 times if I need a bus and to what resort. By time I made it back to the bus depot, there was a bus with my name on it, well Pop Century.

Saturday morning was a rush for us. We tried to get up in time to run drop Animal Kingdom, that didn't work out as well as we wanted. We made it to the park so after the drop, just to ride Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safari. Now my sister had watched the youtube videos of Everest  and told me should be going on it, and as soon and we got to the line it was a no go for her.

After we got done with the safari, we headed over to Hollywood Studios to finally see the hat removed (Oh Glorious Day). Jennifer had her agenda and I wanted to ride Rockin' Rollercoaster. I was sadly denied my trip when the single riders line was closed, and the stand by queue was 55 minutes. I walked back to the Streets of America, where I had told my wife that I would get a picture with Cinderella's Carriage from the new Cinderella movie. the wait was about 30 minutes, and in the sun the entire time. While waiting on my sister near the Friendship Boats, there was a little boy dressed as the mouse himself, Mickey. This boy has a future with Disney if he wanted. He was talking to every one, and welcoming them to the park, looked like he never meets a stranger.

Overall, there wasn't much time spent in DHS, maybe just over and hour and a half. But we had to get to Epcot for our lunch reservations at Via Napoli. If you have been following our blog, you know that I love the pizza at Via Napoli, and I needed to introduce it to my sister. We had a great wait staff, and the food was still amazing. After we were done Jen told me that I ruined the pizza at home by taking her there. We strolled through World Showcase on the way out of the park to make it to Magic Kingdom for the Festival of Fantasy Parade.

Jennifer hadn't been to Disney world since they debuted the Festival of Fantasy parade, so we Fastpassed it so she could get good pictures. As usual it was a great, a lot of interaction from the characters and performers in the parade. Merida even waited for me to get a picture of her, to bad it didn't come out that well. We walked around the park for little but before I retired back to the room for a quick nap before the race.

So the time had come to jump on the bus for the final Expedition Everest Challenge. While it seemed the crowd was small, it was still a great time. The rumors were running about why it was the final race, and if something would replace it. The corrals were set up a little different, half on one side of the start line and the the other half on the opposite side. It was a little confusing, but worked well. I was in corral I, the next to last, so I had to wait 45 minutes to start the race after the actual start had begun. 

The course didn't change to much from the previous year. They had switched the tire and net crawl around and put both a little earlier in the race. Around mile 2 there was a man that had fallen, I still don't know what happened or how he is, but I saw the quickness that Disney was attempting to have in this situation. This was in a backstage area, behind Everest itself, so the course had to be altered to get the ambulance in. Our prayers are still going out to his family for a full recovery. 

I finished the race in just under 45 minutes, however my run app showed that I only ran 2.4 miles for the 5k. The scavenger hunt was a lot harder this year than last year, for one fact that it was just me helping myself instead of my wife being there. Some of the other runners where willing to help and that was greatly appreciated. The whole thing took me just over an hour and fifteen minutes to do. And was still just as fun as last year. 

The post party was a fun treat for Jennifer and myself. Jen had of course never been in the park after dark, and I was able to see the celebration for the top runners, as last year we do shed the race after they had given away these awards. We got in line for pictures with Mickey and Minnie after we are at Resturantosaurus. We didn't ride any rides, as it was getting late, and we had to drive home the next day, the lines didn't help either. On our way out we did grab a picture with Flick, a first for me as I have never seen him in the parks. 

After sleeping in a little the next morning, we headed to Downtown Disney to do a little shopping and see some of the progress of Disney Springs. We didn't spend to much time in any particular stores, but just enjoyed the day out and about. 

Overall the trip was great and short, something we have become a custom to when it comes to our Disney trips of late. What do you think about the end of the Evrest Challenge? What do you want to see replace it? Let us know!

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