Our ten-year anniversary trip to the World was a world of firsts for the wife and I: First solo trip, first Food and Wine, first stay at our DVC home, first trip without kids, and first time vacationing during a hurricane warning. Hurricane Mathew was bearing down on Florida and the entire east coast. My home state of SC was preparing for coastal evacuations and my place of work put us all on alert. We could have stayed home (contemplated it actually…but no, we are stubborn and really needed a vacation.
The trip was planned for Wednesday, October 5th to Sunday, October 9th and already the week had thrown about 6,534 monkey wrenches into the spokes of our plans…the vacation was in jeopardy. My kid’s schools were canceled and grandma couldn’t take off work to watch kids all day. Enter other grandma and cousins. They stepped up and took on the challenge that is an 8-year-old and hyper-active 4-year-old with special needs. On the day of departure, the good governor of South Carolina planned on reversing I-95 at 3:00pm, that’s ok, we would be out of the state by then. The kicker: the wife and I have jobs that are considered essential during natural disasters. Both us received emails from our respected work places telling us that every one is on alert and to not make any plans. In a panic we called our supervisors and was informed that since we put in for vacation time that we would be ok.
Our departure time was adjusted due to the ‘no school thing’. Instead of dropping the boys off at school at 7:30 and leaving after, we had to wait for the grandma to come over and we didn’t leave until about 9. No biggie, we could adjust. The commute down was uneventful, and thank Thor we didn’t run into any heavy traffic on the south bound side of 95! We arrived in the world around 3:30, and by the time we settled in at the Polynesian, we had missed 2 of our Hollywood Studios’ Fastpasses. The decision was made to ‘phone it in’ on park time and just went to the new and improved outdoor shopping mall, I mean, Disney Springs.
October 6th, 2016 is a day that will never be forgotten. The wife and I awoke and prepared for a day at Epcot. The weather was not bad: Cloudy, windy and a little rain. Hurricane Matthew was about 40 miles off the coast of Florida and was predicted not to make land fall. We arrived in Epcot and headed over to purchase a stroller for the day. Then we realized that we didn’t have the kids with us, smiled and continued on our way. Now, I was happy to be in Epcot and was ready to hit the attractions; but I was excited for my first ever Food and Wine Festival and the time in Future World was just some filler until World Showcase opened up. The rain had started to get a little heavier and high quality Disney umbrellas were purchased. We rode Soarin’ a few times, enjoyed Living with the Land and Spaceship Earth. We then made our way over to Test Track…but who are we kidding, it was raining.
11:00 am hit, World Showcase had opened, and my first ever Food and Wine Festival had commenced. The plan was to take it slow, hit all the places that I wanted to first, then wander around and say, “that looks good.” We would eat until we got full, take a break, then hit Le Cellier for dinner. If timed just right, when we exited Le Cellier we would hopefully walk right into the beginning of Illuminations.
Well, all was going to plan until I hit my first station. I walked into the Craft Beer pavilion and ordered my flight of beers. As I was trying to pick up 3 beers in a holder without spilling it, I noticed Cast Members huddled around. I didn’t give it much attention, maybe it was a last-minute “Do it for Walt!” kinda pep talk. The team leader or manager was not talking loud, but loud enough to where I could make out some mumbles. Then I heard the words that will haunt me till the day I die, “be prepared to close early tonight, and come in late tomorrow.” I panicked, and didn’t realize that I was staring at the team blatantly eavesdropping. The team leader asked “anything else, sir?” I told her I was fine, but that was a cold-hearted lie. I was not fine. I was scared.
I exited the Craft Beer pavilion and found my bride and informed her of the impending doom. She went to the powder room to prepare for what was to come. As I was waiting, I downed my 3, 2 ounce pours of craft deliciousness and saw a Cast Member. I asked, “is it true that y’all (I say y’all) are closing early?” He replied with a smile, “yes sir. probably around 5.” I gave the gentleman my thanks with a smile. The wife and reunited and made a game plan. She was bummed due to the early closing eliminating our Le Cellier ADR. Instead of strolling casually through Epcot, we would hit the place with purpose. No unnecessary stopping, no time to savor and no time to take pictures. We wanted to be done by 4 pm to beat the stampede at 5. We headed towards the Mexico Pavilion and began to journey.
This is where it gets sad. I cannot to this day recall in detail what I ate. I know we stopped at the American Pavillion and had the seafood thing, and a waffle delight from the Belgium kiosk. But all I can say was, it was good…we didn’t have a bad dish. Unfortunately due to the speed and lack of note taking and ‘social mediaing’ our finds, I just don’t remember the fine details of my first ever Food and Wine Festival. As mentioned before, we started out at Mexico and ended in Canada. And when we were at about Norway, the loud speakers stopped playing music and an announcer confirmed: “Disney Parks will be closing at 5 pm today (Thursday) and will not be open until 8 am Saturday.” Once the World Showcase Lap was completed, we just decided to head back to the Poly. We had plenty of time to make it back through and get go to the kiosks that we missed, but what was the point? We just wanted to get out of there. So we boarded our bus of sadness and headed to our room.
By the time we got back to the Poly, the winds had picked up and the rain became a little more heavier. The lobby was a buzz with activity. We sludged back to our room and changed out of our wet clothes. The little red message button on our phone was blinking, mocking us. The nice lady on the other line again mention that the parks will be closed on Friday and that there was a 11:00 pm curfew for all resort guests on Oct 6 and we would essentially be on lock down on Friday until further notice. That is right, confined to our room until the Mouse decided it was safe for us to venture out. What a great vacation.
Well, this ends Part 1 of our ten-year anniversary dream vacation. On the next episode you will get a glimpse into the mind of a man trapped inside the Happiest Place on Earth.