my experience at the aol build and allegiant world premiere.

Copyright 2016 Ronica Davis - Theologians.net

I blog for The THEOlogians, a news site for Theo James, who is my absolute favorite actor. Last week, I got to fly to New York City to attend the World Premiere of The Divergent Series: Allegiant, attend the Red (actually BLACK) Carpet, and was a guest at the after party. Theo is a lead in the movie, and he plays the character Four. In addition, I managed to get a ticket to the AOL Build session featuring Theo James and Shailene Woodley. Below is an account of both experiences!

AOL BUILD

I woke up Monday morning, my stomach in knots. I didn’t know what to expect, and I’d never navigated the MTA on my own before, so my main concern was making sure I got there on time without getting lost! Turns out I didn’t even need to worry about that. The trains weren’t running right, so I had to call an Uber. Then traffic was a hot mess. I was very nervous, but I got there in plenty of time.

Check-in was easy. I just showed my confirmation and they let me up to the fourth floor. I was disappointed to see that all the seats in the front and second row were taken. I’d managed to find a seat in the third row, next to one of the employees, and I was OK with that. Much better than the back! I’m short, so the closer to the front the better!

I hadn’t known I could take photos, so I didn’t bring my really good camera. As a result, the image quality on my photos isn’t up to my usual standards. I also hadn’t known I could take video. Turns out that my seat was right next to where they walk in, which was a bonus I did not expect. You may have seen the video on Instagram.

A video posted by Ronni (@lilrongal) on

Before they walked in, a guy came in to warm up the crowd. I was enthusiastic and they took note of that, and it came in handy later. The interview was fun and enjoyable. I forgot there were cameras on as Theo and Shailene charmed the interviewer and the audience. When it came time for questions, the AOL employee next to me made sure to flag down the question guy for me. He asked me what my question was, then he had to get approval. Turns out the publicists didn’t like my first question. Luckily, I had another one prepared, and they liked the second question, which is the one I asked on camera.

Ronni asks Theo a question (AOL Build)

It was awesome. Very very awesome. To have Theo look right at me, and then talk directly to me was a dream come true. Wow. I’ve only been wanting to meet him for years…YEARS…and even though this wasn’t exactly a meeting, for that moment, he knew I was alive and acknowledged me. Not only that, but I am genuinely curious as to what he will come up as a writer and a producer, and I think (hope) he picked up on that. He’s so smart and funny, I think anything he does will be brilliant.

I floated all the way back to my hotel!

ALLEGIANT PREMIERE

I'm at the Black Carpet! OMG!

I’m at the Black Carpet! OMG!

Stomach still in knots, I made my way over to the AMC Lincoln Square at about 4:30 p.m. Official check in was 5:45 p.m., but I wanted to get in line early. It was drizzling outside, and one of the guards tried to tell me to go back home because the lobby was too crowded—there was also a My Big Fat Greek Wedding event going on. (HA, fat chance) I found a little hidden niche with some other bloggers and hung with them as we were escorted to a line until time to check in. Talking to them helped calm my nerves and my stomach.

Soon, a representative called us over and handed out envelopes with the movie ticket and after party ticket, as well as a shiny blue wristband that allowed us entrance to the tent and fan pen. My packet was the last in the bunch, so I was nervous until she finally pulled it out! We were allowed to walk on the black carpet and take photos with the posters, but I elected to secure my spot in the front row of the fan pen instead.

 Hanging in the Fan Pen with Stacy!

Hanging in the Fan Pen with Stacy!

Then we waited. People slowly trickled in, press members, VIPs, the Damn Daniel guys, random celebrities I didn’t recognize, or people I recognized but couldn’t place, and the like. I could see camera flashes outside the door, some people thought it was lightning, but I knew that meant someone cool was coming in. The first actor in was Jeff Daniels, who did an interview and took photos. Then Keiynan Lonsdale came in with his plus one, Jordan Rodrigues, who he’d worked with on Dance Academy. (I had a full on fangirl meltdown at this point, because I am a huge fan of Dance Academy and Jordan Rodrigues played my favorite character!) I gave him a flirty wave as he stood on the carpet, and he gave me a small smile and waved back. Night made and I hadn’t even seen Theo yet.

Bill Skarsgård (Matthew) came in and I snapped photos of him. He came right to the fan pen and took a selfie with me. He was so funny. He’s so tall and his eyes are gorgeous. Nadia Hilker (Nita) spent a lot of time with fans, signing autographs and taking selfies and seemed like she was having a blast.

Nadia Hilker with Ronni from @TheologiansNet at the #AllegiantPremiere

A photo posted by TheTHEOlogians-Theo James News (@theologiansnet) on

Bill Skarsgård and Ronni from @TheologiansNet #AllegiantPremiere

A photo posted by TheTHEOlogians-Theo James News (@theologiansnet) on

The next several minutes were a blur. The carpet got very crowded. There were loads of children all dressed up. There were lots of press and publicists and family members and friends, and it got loud. I saw Naomi Watts (Evelyn) posing for press, and Divergent author Veronica Roth stopped by the fan pen for a split second. I was next to Stacy from Page Turners (who I’d already known because of all the book events we both attend, and also I won a contest from her years ago), and she and Veronica are friends. Veronica made a regretful face at Stacy before being pulled away by industry folks. I managed to get a selfie with Ansel Elgort (Caleb), and I totally photobombed a photo with Miles Teller (Peter).

Miles Teller & Folks!

Miles Teller & Folks!

Shailene Woodley (Tris) stopped right in front of me but she was distracted by the industry people. I said “Hey girl heyyyy” and she turned around and said “Hey—”. A look of recognition came over her face (she totally remembered me from the AOL Build!) and she said “Hey, how are you?” Then she was whisked away.

#ShaileneWoodley at the #AllegiantPremiere

A photo posted by TheTHEOlogians-Theo James News (@theologiansnet) on

@AnselElgort with Ronni from @TheologiansNet at the #AllegiantPremiere

A photo posted by TheTHEOlogians-Theo James News (@theologiansnet) on

Theo James (Four/Tobias) didn’t even get to me on the carpet before he was snatched away. I was a bit disappointed—I really wanted to see if he’d remember me from that morning. Once he went past, that was pretty much it. Zoe Kravitz (Christina) was busy chatting with people on the carpet, but I got a couple of nice pictures of her.

#TheoJames at the #AllegiantPremiere last night (Photo by @lilrongal from @theologiansnet)

A photo posted by TheTHEOlogians-Theo James News (@theologiansnet) on


I TOOK THAT PICTURE!!!

Click here to see more photos from the Allegiant Black Carpet!

Soon after the frenzy of the carpet, they led us out to the theater. There were two theaters—the cast theater and the fan theater. I was in the fan theater. We had assigned seats. They gave us free popcorn and beverages, and the movie score played in the background while we waited for the movie to start.

Movie Time!

Movie Time!

I enjoyed the movie! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really hoped it’d be better than Insurgent. I thought it was, especially the second half. I was on the edge of my seat, and I was surprised when it was over. I like when I get lost in something like that.

After the movie, fans lined up outside and inside, waiting for the celebrities in the lobby who were heading to their fancy cars. I ran outside and grabbed an Uber to the after party. Traffic was bad, but I got there at a decent time.

They didn’t let us keep the after party ticket. It was so cool, so I’m glad I got a photo. There were different ones. I got Caleb.

After party ticket

The place was huge! There were flashing blue lights, “Allegiant” lights on the walls. Loud music, people milling around, a really amazing coat check (seriously, the coat check was impressive), and the size of the main room went back forever. There were couches in the main room reserved for some of the industry VIPs. There was also a separate VIP section that we could peek in, and a private VIP section where most of the celebrities went as the night went on. I really wanted to go in there. REALLY did. Just to sit down and chill with everyone. But I was glad to be at the party at all.

Theo was already in the VIP section when I got there, so I knew there would be no chance of talking to him. The “Damn Daniel” guys didn’t go into the VIP section at all, they hung out together, enjoying all the yummy food and talking to fans. Pasta, seafood, a cold bar, and yummy desserts were all over. Lots of people walked around with trays of tasty small bites. I couldn’t understand why the people serving the champagne kept swerving away from me—do I really look *that* young? I had to go to the bar to get a drink.

But before I did that, I got to speak with Jordan Rodrigues. He recognized me from the fan pen and maybe even from my tweet—he’d “liked” it earlier that night when I tweeted about seeing him there.

He liked my tweet!

He and I talked about acting and career choices, among other things. He was easy to talk to and very nice. We had a great chat! He told me that it was really nice talking with me, which made me happy. I also got to talk to Keiynan Lonsdale, who is *beautiful* in person. Onscreen doesn’t do him justice. He too was very nice, and he is super tall. Jordan is just right.

Jordan Rodrigues!!

Jordan Rodrigues!!

Ray Stevenson (Marcus) stayed out in the regular part of the party, but he didn’t talk to anyone except people he knew. I got to chat with Veronica Roth about living in Chicago and how crazy it is that we live in the same city but I only get to see her at events like this. (I met her two years ago at the All It Takes Divergent premiere in Los Angeles, but she didn’t remember. Not that I expected her to.) Theo came out once (probably to use the bathroom), and security was all over him. In fact, security saw me spot Theo and whisked him (he seemed confused) in the other direction. How rude.

Erin and Me

There was a photo booth, so Erin of Once Upon a Twilight and I got in and posed all cute and stuff. Then we mainly people watched, munched on good food, chatted with Lauren and Michael from The Young Folks, and had a really good time. We danced, too. It was a party, after all! So why not dance?

Too soon, the night was over. I sat and watched some of the celebs leave, only because I am nosy like that. Ansel left with a big group, holding hands with his gorgeous girlfriend. I yelled “Happy Birthday” to him and he gave me a smile. Theo left with a big group of people, surrounded by security. It was like a kindergarten class: “Now everyone hold hands so no one gets separated.” I headed back to my hotel then, ready to sleep for a million years, but the adrenaline wouldn’t let me.

Things I Learned:

1. Actors in general are very tall. Most of them towered over me. (Or maybe I’m just very short.)
2. The “red carpet” is not just a time to pose for pictures and look pretty. Those actors are working hard. Taking photos, talking to press, giving fans a thrill, trying to keep up with all the frenzy. I can see how it could be overwhelming.
3. Lots of random people walk the carpet. Producer’s children, plus ones, family members, random celebrities that have nothing to do with the movie just to name a few.
4. Press is everywhere.
5. The carpet is LOUD because there are so many people.
6. No matter where you are, there is always a “better” place you want to be. (Or maybe this is just me.) I was in the fan pen, but I wanted to be important enough to be on the carpet. I was at the party, but I wanted to be important enough to hit the VIP area. Then the super VIP area. And yet, there were people standing out in the freezing rain, wishing they were were I was. Interesting how that works, no? With that said…

I am everlastingly grateful to Lionsgate for giving me the opportunity to experience this taste of Hollywood glamour. It was an intense, amazing, crazy, adrenaline-pumping time and I loved every minute of it. I hope to get to do it again next year!

Yay!

Yay!

*shameless plug*
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epic adventure: epcot

Epcot

Hi! I know it’s been a while. It takes a lot to put one of these posts together, and I’ve been super busy with work. But today my brain is scattered in 23849 different directions, so I thought, why not catch up. Or try to, anyway?

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Aidan and I went to Epcot twice while on our trip. The first day, it was the two of us, and we had a good time. There was adventuring and characters and rides! There was one part that sucked, though. We were in line to meet Donald Duck when my phone started going crazy, showing me all these fraudulent charges using my Capital One. Then we were next and Donald had to go eat a taco (It was the Mexico Donald Duck.) I’d been trying to get a Donald all trip and argh. The card stuff eventually got sorted, so it all worked out. And that evening? We ate at Garden Grill and had an amazing time. Seriously, that restaurant blows me away EVERY SINGLE TIME I go, and this was my 11th time there.

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We got the HOOKUP for dessert, thanks to Sam, the amazing manager. Check this out:

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Can you even believe? I still can’t.

We watched the fireworks with my friend Joey and he dropped us off at the hotel after which was so nice of him.

The 2nd day we went, it was our last day in a Disney park for our trip. So those days are always bittersweet. Aidan wanted a hat, but not any hat. THIS HAT:

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I’d just gotten the official word that Humana wanted to hire me as a contractor, so I was happy to buy it for him from the China pavilion.

We did the Character Connection, which is always different every time we go!

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Eventually, Aidan and I met up with Joey and his daughters (Bella and Victoria) that afternoon and ate pizza at Via Napoli. That pizza tasted FREAKING DELICIOUS. We rode Test Track and Mission: Space with them as well. Aidan wanted to ride Orange: More Intense and so did Bella. Joey didn’t want Bella to ride it at first; I just think he didn’t want her to go alone. When I told him that I was letting Aidan go, he let her go too. I love that I can let Aidan do that. I was never going to tell him “no.”

Victoria and I played the games in the Mission Control part while we waited, and when that ended, I got her some astronaut ice cream, which she’d never even heard of, let alone tried!

At some point during the day, this bird somehow got ahold of a mayo packet. There was a cast member standing under the tree trying to get him to drop it but this bird was like LOL.

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That night, I had to pick up my rental car. Aidan and I were crashing out at Joey’s for a couple of nights before heading up the Florida coast. Joey made us dinner and let me do laundry, and we got to talk to Ricky Luna on video chat, and watch Wishes (the Magic Kingdom fireworks) from Joey’s window. Then we had to go to bed. It was LEGOland the next day!

epic adventure: hollywood studios

Hollywood Studios

Aidan and I spent one day at Hollywood Studios, and it was a great day. We skipped Toy Story Midway Mania and Tower of Terror (which gets a resounding HELL NO from Aidan), but I got to do Rock’N Rollercoaster (yay single rider!). We shopped and watched the Muppet show they have there, and met characters and ate and rode Star Tours a LOT. We also rode The Great Movie Ride, which has a super long line all the time now for some reason. Thank goodness we had Fastpasses. The ride has been redone a bit, maybe that was the draw. Anyway,

We met Baymax and Phineas & Ferb and Goofy! Doesn’t he look dapper?

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We hung out and acted silly.

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And we drew a picture of Mr. Frederickson from Up! Aidan’s looks professional. Mine is HUGE.

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Hollywood Studios may as well been called Frozen Studios. It was All Frozen, All The Time. I don’t mind Frozen. Aidan is not a fan of it. At All.

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There was a Frozen clavicle, where they stopped and sang Let It Go and skated around, wearing winter clothing in 90+ degree temperatures. There was also “snow.” It was so strange. We did the Frozen Sing-Along which was fantastic. The comedy bits were on point (there was even an Arrested Development joke!), and the singing was great. Let It Go again. Then there was the Frozen Dance Party, where there were remixed versions of Let It Go to dance to. I left all my stuff with Aidan and joined the dancers on the dance floor. It was super fun. Then, there were the Frozen Fireworks. Which were OMG beautiful.

After Frozen-time, we watched Fantasmic! which is always gorgeous. It was Aidan’s first time seeing it and he enjoyed it!

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Hollywood Studios is usually a fun, easy park for me and Aidan. We don’t have rides we really need to hustle for if you go on the right day (and we did! the lines for Star Tours were never more than 10 minutes the whole day), and 50s Prime Time Cafe, where we had dinner, is always yummy and a good time. So many changes are coming to the park soon. I wonder what it’ll be like then?

all hail mickey mouse.

Disney World 2014 Collage

Guess who recently returned from a really cool Disney vacation? If you guessed ME, you’d be right! :) I didn’t post much about it here because well, it was such a random, sorta last minute thing. See, my brother-in-law Eli and his wife Melissa both work for the Disney company in California, so they get free tickets (four each!) and discounted accommodations for the parks. They also run marathons and crazy things like that. They came to Orlando to do the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and then to vacation a bit. Adam’s family was joining them, along with Melissa’s mom. That left one space for me! I just had to pay for my flight and contribute a bit to the room cost, which was VERY VERY reasonable, what they asked. And of course, buy my own food, etc.

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the gang!

The trip was from November 7-15. I had to be with Eli to get let into the park, and then I could do whatever I want the rest of the day. Sometimes I stuck with Adam’s family (his mom, dad, sister, and niece), sometimes I hung with Melissa, Eli, and Vicky. Sometimes we were ALL together. A lot of times I went off by myself. I took a lot of selfies! Ha.

Back at Epcot!! ???? #Epcot #disneyworld #selfie #disney

The Magic started right away, when I went to check in and the guy at the desk gave me a pile of stickers and coloring books and crayons and buttons! And it just kept continuing, with people doing nice things, my friend Joe getting us into Garden Grill for dinner even though it had been booked for months, big hugs from Mickey Mouse and the gang, and so much more.

Here are the things I’ve learned the times that I was on my own at Disney World:

1. It’s an interesting experience. I loved the freedom of doing what I wanted when I wanted. It was much faster and easier to weasel my way through crowds when I was by myself. I enjoyed just answering to myself. If I wanted to do something, I did it. I didn’t have to get approval or wait for people, I could just go for it. And single rider lines for rides are the best. I pretty much walked right on to Test Track more than once. And there are some really warm and open people at Disney World. I talked to one wonderful woman about ten minutes and by the end of the conversation, she was embracing me. Little girls seemed to love me–so many would just stop and smile and/or say “hi” to me or just start talking to me. Little boys, too! And I got a free churro because I was at the Christmas Party by myself. If I wanted to sit and people watch, it was OK for me to do that. I didn’t feel like I was putting people out when my tiny bladder made its needs known loudly and often. If people in the group were doing something I wasn’t all that into, I liked being able to say “I’m going to do [some other thing] and I’ll catch up with you later.” I loved that.

2. Eating was so cheap when it was just me! Before I left for Disney, I purchased $150 in Disney gift cards from Target (using my RedCard so I’d save 5%), and I didn’t use all of it. Granted, one meal was an expensive one and I paid for that NOT using the gift card, but the rest? Well, I came home with $20 left, and I’d even bought a souvenir with some of the gift card money. This was done with some extra help though: I had granola bars and Pop-Tarts in my room. I bought one bottle of water and kept refilling it, and I also bought a refillable drink mug (with a gift card!) to use when I was at the resort. Seeing as I was there so many nights, it was a good investment, especially on my resort day. I also have a small appetite, so many times, the kid’s meal was adequate for me. I also forgot about my gift cards and got a couple of Food & Wine entries with cash. So, truthfully, I probably spent about $180 to feed myself at Disney World for nine days, including a refillable drink mug, a fancy sit down meal, and novelty snacks. I’d say $20 a day isn’t bad.

3. During a long trip like this, a day in the middle to do NOTHING is a fantastic idea. I never knew the value of it until last week. I realized that I am absolutely capable of melting down like the toddlers at the end of the night (or morning or whenever) who have had ENOUGH. I was like that Monday night after the Christmas party. I was just DONE. Then I dropped my brand new phone INTO the Murphy bed that I was sleeping on (which was very comfortable by the way). I didn’t sleep well. By Tuesday morning, I was a mess. I got on my computer while waiting for maintenance to come and help me get my phone out. I took my medication, and tried to calm down. It worked. Maintenance came and my phone was rescued and unharmed. The meds kicked in. I pulled on my bathing suit and decided to stick around the resort all day. I hung out at the pool and had a drink, and talked to my mom and Aidan on the phone. Then I took a nice, hot bath before heading to the food court for something yummy to eat. (Probably corn dogs, seeing as I can’t seem to get enough of the things lately.) It was a nice, relaxing, much-needed day of downtime and self care. I highly recommend a resort/pool day for all long Disney trips.

Poolside drinksies!!!! #vacation #goodlife #disney #disneyworld #selfie ??????????

I got to spend time at Disney with a little kid, which doesn’t happen often. I mean, there are kids THERE, but they’re not with me, so yeah. Hanging out with Lola was great. To hear that little voice say “I want to sit with RONNI” was soooo fun!

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how cute is this?

And I had to admire how they kept her fed and happy with PB&J, fruit, cheese sticks, popcorn, etc. They didn’t have to spend a lot of money on her nor worry about feeding her since she can be a picky little eater. And because she was in her stroller, they could just feed her just about anywhere. Chris and I didn’t do that with Aidan! Not that he’d have eaten PB&J anyway….

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I got to do some new things this trip. I finally got to see Fantasmic! :) I’d been hearing about this fireworks show for years and years but it always seemed like a pain in a butt to get to. You had to line up a million years before to get a good seat or even a seat at all, blah blah blah. But FastPass+ made it possible for Cassidy and me to get front row center seats (now, we’d have normally never wasted a Fast Pass on a show but that’s about all they had available by the time we made it to Hollywood Studios that evening), so there it was. And I LOVED it! It lived up to the hype for sure!

I sat at the Pinocchio restaurant and waved to people riding it’s a small world. That was fun.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is so much fun! Such a cute coaster!

I saw Finding Nemo: The Musical. I liked it, but The Festival of the Lion King wins. I missed the Jammin’ Jungle Parade. So sad it’s gone. I heard it is coming back after all the work is done in Animal Kingdom. I hope so.

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Animal Kingdom in the dark! That was certainly new! It either closes so early or it stays dark so late that I’ve never see it at night. It’s just as pretty.

And there was Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, where I got to meet these guys:

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And see Main Street look like this (complete with fake snow):

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The pictures do not do the castle justice, how pretty it is. It’s incredible, and now they’ve incorporated Elsa and Anna and Olaf (from Frozen) into the castle lighting in a very clever way. I approve! :) Here’s a video of the very ending, complete with a “wooo” from me.

And oh oh oh, I got to see the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights! It was sooooo cool. Definitely will put you in the holiday spirit, as long as you can handle the crowds!! Here’s a snippet!

Honestly, I cannot even begin to put all the stuff I got to see and do. It was just a nice, long, awesome vacation. If you’d like to see more photos, click here! There’s lots to see! :)

And I leave you with a photo of Mickey and me. Because yes.

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Till next time! :)

jammin’ in the jungle!

Animal Kingdom

previous posts:
epic disney world!!
a magical day.
two worlds.
a slow start for hollywood.

Our last day at Disney World took us to Animal Kingdom, which is painfully underrated in my opinion. Of course, there is the safari, and Dinosaur, and Expedition Everest, but it’s just a beautiful park in itself. It’s one of those parks I’d like to just go and hang out in and read or something, except there’s too much to do and see to just sit! Ha.

We’d had mild weather all week, and this Friday was the first day we’d gotten to experience the true Florida summer sun. Even I wasn’t prepared for it… but I still loved it.

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We didn’t ride much at Animal Kingdom. Aidan and I rode Dinosaur. I was really impressed he wanted to ride it–it’s kind of a scary ride! I still have to close my eyes at parts… but we still had fun.

We spent some time over at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. I like to go over there because I get to do things like make Falandos hold a big pile of poop.

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All four of us did the safari, and there were lots of animals out. Our Fast Pass time was later than I’d normally have it, so I was worried. I needn’t have.

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We finished the safari just in time to see the Jammin’ Jungle Parade! YAY! Now that I know most of the dance steps, the parade dancers like to come over and dance with me. It’s really cool!

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It's Sarah!
yay, sarah! she’s one of my favorite disney performers.

This was our last day at Disney World. :( After finally making our way back to the park, it was a mad dash to meet our car (this time an Escalade!) and head to the airport. Where the travel snags started again.

Our flight was to leave at 7:45. Imagine our shock when we saw that our flight had been delayed until 11pm. And as we stood there, the numbers flipped until after MIDNIGHT. Well. We figured we’d just relax, shop, have dinner… except randomly, they gave us another flight, which left at 8:15. I was convinced we were going to miss our flight. It was 7:45 already. Security was taking FOREVER. Talk about stress… trying to make it our gate on time…. where they weren’t even boarding. We made it home OK. Hungry, tired, and sad that the trip was over, but happy we had a few days together to talk about it and relive it through our pictures and stories.

So naturally, we’ll be planning next year’s trip soon….

That’s all of the trip reports for this Disney vacation. If you want to see all the pictures, just click here! :)

Till next time!

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