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Trip Reports
01-07-2007, 07:42 PM
Susan Turner -- May 2000 -- All Star Movies

Me, Susan - 30 - Grad Student, currently in South Carolina
Mom and Dad, 60 somethings, Parents extraordinaire and Florida residents
May 6-8, Staying at the All Star Movies
Planning

Woohoo!!! Another Trip to WDW!!! This will be my 4th trip since November. How did I get so lucky? I think I am just making up for some lost years. That and connecting up with this newsgroup to keep me thinking about going! I grew up on WDW, having been born and raised in FL and having been lucky enough to have 2 parents who liked to take the kids to the Magic Kingdom a couple of times a year. But since I went to college, the trips have been less frequent. Before November, I had gone almost 2 years without a trip! My November trip was with some friends from college. In February I accompanied my parents, sister and nieces on a long weekend trip. (Alas, no TR's from these trips) As a result of this latter trip, my parents had extra days on their Play 4 Days passes. I would have bet money that they would not have used these extra days and that they would go to waste. They love WDW, but have been very busy with their own business and wouldn't normally just pick up and go by themselves. But this time, with a little encouragement from me and the extra incentive of the Flower and Garden Festival, I found myself being given the go ahead to book ressies for the first weekend in May. This would be a nice, leisurely trip without the grandkids. I realized I couldn't do much commando-ing, but that was ok. I have great parents and thought this would be a good opportunity to spend some time with them.

On my first call to CRO less than 3 weeks ahead of time, I got ressies for the AllStar Movies for Saturday and Sunday nights. Woohoo!! My family is of the opinion that the AllStars rock. We've stayed at the other two but hadn't stayed at Movies before, despite a few dozen calls to CRO in the days leading up to my other two trips this year. Unfortunately though, we didn't get any sort of discount. In Feb we stayed for $65/night, this time it would cost us $95/night. The original plan was for me to drive to Jacksonville Friday afternoon, then we would get up early Saturday morning and drive the 2.5 hours to WDW, spend Saturday and Sunday in the parks, and then drive home Monday morning.

We had 2 spare days left on some past park hoppers and, needing an extra day, knew we would have to buy tickets of some kind. It was at this point that I started eyeing the AP. I should have bought one in November, as I had spent 8 days in the parks over 3 trips since November, but in November I didn't realize how much I would get sucked in to going so often. I plan to make the December trip, and after a quick trip in March realized how the drive really isn't too bad and if I just take an extra weekend or two trip I can justify the price. I also rationalized it by accepting that the $327 cost really amounted to less than $1/day over the year for the joy and happiness that the memories and planning of the trips and the continued involvement with the newsgroup has given me. So, feeling fully justified, I decided to go this route.

A week before the trip, I realized that having to get up early and drive from Jax expecting to be in the parks early on Saturday might be pushing it. If we had to pick 2 days to be in the parks, Sunday and Monday seemed like a better choice than Saturday and Sunday. Instead of leaving Monday mid- morning, we could just leave in the early evening. So the plan now was to leave Saturday morning and take Saturday afternoon to leisurely enjoy the resorts and downtown Disney. The parents thought this was a great idea too. So I had just successfully finagled almost a whole extra day to the trip! And, it occurred to the commando in me that if I had an AP, I could possibly sneak in a couple of hours in the parks Saturday afternoon as well.

We originally had planned to do the Food Among the Flowers Brunch - in fact we even made reservations. But a few days ahead of time decided to cancel. There are many places we haven't eaten yet we wanted to try and we realized we could do dinner at Cape May and lunch at Akershus for only a little more than that one meal. So with reservations at ASMovies, PS for CapeMay and Akershus, and my pins all sorted, we were all set to go!

Saturday, May 6th

We left Jacksonville about 9am and arrived at AllStar Movies for check in about 11:30am. We have stayed at Music and Sports a couple of times before, but this was our first time at Movies. At least the front desk area and the food court at Movies seemed a bit nicer and newer than the other two. We couldn't get into our room yet, so after checking in we headed over to Downtown Disney. DDMarketplace was horribly crowded at noon on Saturday so I quickly chose a few pins I wanted to be sure I got them at the 10% MKC discount. They still had both the April and May POM's and I even found an "I Was There Pin". As you will see, I have been sucked into this addictive habit called pin trading. Hahaha - "trading" - well, you have to buy the pins first to trade. It all started so simply. I had a card of Snow White pins and a few Donalds I bought at TDS on sale. My first trip I didn't buy a single pin - I only traded. But then, after they had me sucked in I *needed* more pins to trade. They started putting out all these nifty LE pins I *had* to have.

There were sites I could go to to tide me over between trips. I made friends online who became my pin pushers (You know who you are). These pins call to me and I feel a certain thrill upon approaching the pin carts or a CM wearing a pin lanyard. I had made plans to meet Kenny at Epcot at one of the seminars so after buying the pins at DDM my parents drove me to the Epcot gate where I left them to enjoy the afternoon back at Downtown Disney and at the resort while I satisfied my urge to park hop and ride some of the faster rides they wouldn't ride.

After purchasing my AP, I headed over to where the seminar was to be held. Of course, I misunderstood the directions at first and went to the tent that was between Future World and World Showcase via Great Britain. But, I finally found the tent, wandered in and sort of half listened to the seminar on landscaping. Someday I will have a yard to landscape. Then I'll pay attention to such seminars. Instead I perused the neat plants they had in the back of the tent - all sorts of carnivorous, epiphytic and exotic plants. After the seminar I intercepted Kenny exiting. He quickly presented me with a little box with some "goods" which I paid him for - using up all my cash on hand. But that's ok - I really "needed" these pins and was happy to have them. One was the elusive "Figment" pin which I had looked for during the past few trips. It was very exciting to finally have one of these in hand - I trembled with glee at my newly found prized possession. After our transaction we decided to bag the other seminar and hit a few more parks. We first went to the AK to ride CTX - oops - I mean "Dinosaur". That ride always scares me - I don't know why. There was one semi-major change (that I won't give away) but other than that it seemed the same as in March. After riding Dinosaur, we headed over to MGM to see some of the Star Wars weekend stuff. We first got fastpasses for ToT and RnRC, then headed over towards where the SW festivities were going on. There was a movie of the "Making of Episode I" that was good - little snippets of interviews with George and Rick McCallum and others. The wait for Star Tours was too long so we just headed to Tatooine Traders afterwards. We had wondered if they had pins for the weekend, and to our delight we found that the answer was yes! And here was a chance to use my AP as everything was 20% off. Pins and discount : two of my favorite words. By this time our Fastpass times were ready so we headed back to the other side of the park and rode ToT and RnRC.

My parents and I had PS for Cape May at 6:50 and as it was 6:30, it was time for me to head back. Kenny was nice enough to drive me to the door at the Beach Club and I was just in time. Cape May was awesome! I had eaten there in March but this was the first time for my parents. We ate very well! The clams weren't that great, but the mussels and ribs were very good. I also loved the cold salads - they had this shrimp/spinach salad and a broccoli/grape/sunflower seed salad that was very good. The peel and eat shrimp, though small, were tasty. I particularly like the way they do their desserts - they cut them in small portions so you can sample a few. I was glad I had skipped lunch although I had begun to feel a bit woozy over at MGM. I hadn't had anything to drink or eat since 8:30 that morning and by 4 felt a little faint and parched from dehydration. The hunger crept up by about 6. It's amazing how I can forget to eat and drink at WDW. After dinner we took the time to stroll around outside the Beach and Yacht Club before heading back to the ASMovies.

Our room at Movies couldn't have been more convenient! We were on the ground floor in the Toy Story section 3 doors from the end of the wing closest to Cinema Hall and facing the inside. The Toy Story car was right outside our window. And there were NO cheerleaders :) ! On our last trip we were right over the noisy pool at Sports where the cheerleaders practiced until all hours by the pool. After a quick (and I mean we really were within spittin' distance) trip to the food court for something to drink (we had remembered to pack our AllStar Mugs this time) we went back to the room for the night, planning to get up and hit the MK and then Epcot.

Sunday, May 7th

After a quick breakfast at the AllStars, we planned to hit the MK at opening for a few hours before heading over to Epcot. Our plan was to just see a few attractions that either were our favorites or that we had missed with the kids the last time. My parents are a bit older and can't do the commando thing like I can - so we decided to take it slow and try to minimize the walking. Also, they don't do the wild rides - or so I thought. After arriving to the MK about 9:15 we first headed over to Frontierland via the Train. During the train ride, I somehow talked them both into Splash Mountain. Frontierland wasn't too crowded. The Fastpass return time for Splash was for 25 minutes later, and there was no line at Thunder Mountain. Again, surprisingly my father agreed to go as well. After BTMR it was time for Splash. This was the one time I experienced Fastpass not working for me. The fastpass line actually ended up being longer than the standby line. Somebody wasn't doing something right. The people who entered the standby line at the same time we entered the FastPass line were being loaded way before us. I sat by myself in the front seat. I was being the good daughter not subjecting my parents to the front.

Mom and Dad enjoyed this ride even though we got soaked. And this time, my picture came out! After Splash we headed over to Pirates. While my parents went to the bathroom I ran and got Fastpasses for the Jungle Cruise. We were able to do Pirates of the Caribbean and the Enchanted Tiki Room before making our Jungle Cruise appointment. After the Jungle Cruise and another restroom break we headed over to the Haunted Mansion. Six major attractions in 3 hours at the MK is not bad. The longest wait we had was about 15 minutes for Splash (and that was with a FP!) Everything else was a near walk-on. By this time it was noonish and we found ourselves amongst the hordes in Fantasyland. Since we had PS for Akershus for 1:30, we decided to head on over to Epcot. We leisurely made our way through the castle and down mainstreet. I like hopping from the MK to Epcot because you get to ride the monorail - something you miss if you take the buses to the MK from the resort. By the time we got to Epcot it was time for another bathroom break before heading towards Norway. Of course there was a brief stop at the Pin Cart. Lunch at Akershus was great! The food here is ...well..."different". If you have a particular liking for smoked fish it's a great place to go - but if you aren't very adventuresome in the culinary department it may not be the place for you. My family will eat just about anything so I was happy. We filled up mainly on smoked Mullet, smoked Salmon, bread and rutabegas, with a varied assortment of small servings of the cold salads and hot items.

Afterwards we decided to take the boat back to Future World. It was hot and the parents were beginning to need a rest. First was JIYI. Parents were as unenthused as I had been over JIYI - we decided they were using a totally different definition of "Imagination" than we were - a definition we imagined coming out of the mind of an engineer with no creativity - very technical and scientific - a "let's look at the real world in a slightly tweaked way" instead of a "let's imagine a new and fanciful world". So, a little forlorn from this experience we went through the Land ride and the Living Seas. Hadn't done either in a while.

The ride into the Living Seas was most peculiar. Not sure what they were doing, but I think there were some technical difficulties with the mats that signal when somebody gets out of the car. The ride stopped early on (we were only a handful of cars past the loading area), and a CM walked by and said something to some random guy about 10 cars ahead of us. The ride started again, and we watched as he proceeded to get out of the vehicle moments later at, what I now realize, was the mat she was pointing to when talking to the guy. The ride stopped and they took note of which mat it was. Just weird to ask a guest to participate in something like that. I have no clue what was going on. Parents needed a little rest so after we went through the Ice Station Cool I sat them down behind the pasta place and left to check out the Pin station. I watched as the "die-hard" pin traders dealt seriously with a few guests. I don't trade much with these guys - partly because I don't have much that they are interested in, and partly because many of them (not all) take things WAY too seriously. Seeing a Japanese tourist with pins heading our way, I quickly intercepted her before she hit the tables of the die-hard traders and pointed at my Statue of Liberty pin. She smiled and offered a Tokyo Disneyland 17th anniversary pin which I accepted. We smiled and traded pins. A good trade!

I refound the parental units with my new pin. It was now time (7:30) to head to Future World for the parade and Illuminations. On the last trip we stood in a little triangle next to the Chip shop in GB. This was actually a good locale, but we decided to try for something a bit different. We walked on past the bridge and France and found a half empty bench facing the children's garden between France and Morocco. I ran to France to buy 2 desserts to share between the three of us - we called that dinner since we had eaten such a nice lunch. Desserts at France are not too expensive - I paid less than $7 for both. Which meant our daily food total came in just under $70 - not bad for 3 people at WDW, especially considering the excellent, not to mention huge, lunch we had.

So we sat on a park bench, happily munching on our desserts and watching the people being herded around Future World. We thought this would be a good place to see the parade. For seeing the parade, yes, but not a good place if you want to take pics. Because it is between countries, they had to erect huge lighting fixtures that shine somewhat at you. Luckily we had gotten some good pics last time so focused more on enjoying the show. We stayed in much the same place for Illuminations. It was mostly ok, except for a few of the high fireworks obstructed by the tree we were under. In thinking about the whole positioning thing, I think now I wish we had been closer to the entrance to Future World. Getting out was a mess. Mom and Dad needed to find a restroom and I told them to wait until we got to the Millenium Village - rumor has it those bathrooms were huge. But passing by there, we noticed the village was closed and assumed the bathrooms were, too (so, are they or aren't they closed after Illuminations?). After being herded further around the lake we did spot some restrooms - past Canada and very close to the walkway to JIYI. The mass of crowds was at a standstill practically and so we decided to turn in here. BIG MISTAKE. There are only 3 women's stall, lol. What were they thinking? Took us another 15 minutes to get through that line, but at least by that time the crowd had thinned considerably. We decided to leisurely make our way out of the park.

By the time we got to the Bus area there was less than a busload of people waiting. I was afraid we might be in a mob of people heading back to the AllStars. Unfortunately, by the time we were about to load it was standing room only and the driver encouraged us to get on the bus as the next one would be awhile.. My parents don't stand well on the bus, especially after a day at the parks, so we opted to wait. This is probably the one thing that bugged me about the bus transportation. I noticed this quite often - it is rare for people to give up their seats for older adults and small children. I have given up my seat many times when the bus is crowded because I know one day, many years down the road, I would appreciate the same gesture. It would be nice if people could be reminded of this somehow - I think a lot of the problem is people just not thinking or being observant.

We did finally get back to the Allstars and basically just crashed. We were very tired after a long day. Our plan for the next day was to spend it at Epcot , and then leave after dinner. Mom and Dad expressed a desire to sleep in and spend the morning relaxing before check out. They are such good parents, observing and conscientious of my need to do a little commando-ing. They suggested I meet them at noon at Epcot. I offered to stay with them, but they insisted. I set the alarm for 7am and fell asleep dreaming of my park strategy for the next day. I love touring with others, but I also love to have some alone time in the parks to do things at my pace and whim. I was excited by the prospect of 4 hours to myself.

Monday, May 8th

The alarm went off at 7am. I was up and raring to go. It is sort of sad that I can't do this on a workday, when I have to absolutely drag myself out of bed. But today, I was on a mission. I would do Dinosaur. I would do Rock N Roller Coaster. I would do Star Tours. I would do Buzz Lightyear. Before noon.

Didn't take me long to get ready. I walked over to the Allstars food court (I still couldn't get over how close it was), grabbed a Bacon/egg/cheese Croissant (under $4) and walked back to the room to eat and finish getting ready. My plan was to hit the AK at park opening to ride the Dinosaur ride a couple of times, then hit MGM at park opening at 9, then head to the MK for awhile before meeting my parents at Epcot at noon. Sounds crazy, I know, but I wanted to hit a few of my favorite rides one last time. And I have become a firm believer in being at parks at or near opening - you can get 2-3 rides in in less time than it would take to ride it once later in the day. So I hopped on a bus at the AllStars about 7:40 and made it to AK right at 8am.

Headed over to Dinosaur at a near race walking clip to find no line. Woohoo! Decided to ride again - again no line and this time, because I was positioned right at the door of the preshow and walked out way ahead of the rest of the group, found myself being put in a car with no one else. I was the only rider! The bulk of the group were in 3 or 4 cars behind me. I don't know why, but this ride IS scarier alone. And I found something else out....apparantly flash photography *does not* interfere with the homing beacon. Since I was alone, I decided to take a few pics. I wasn't sure how the pics would turn out, but it was a digital camera so I knew I could just delete them if they were no good.

The ride is really bumpy for photographs and a few that I took I was just sure would be blurry. Amazingly, though, they came out pretty good. My parents won't touch this ride, so I could at least show them a few things from it. Well, the being alone part did spook me a bit - as if my chances with the carnatosaur were much worse without a carful of other potential victims.

I decided a third time would be pushing it so I headed back, stopping to chat about pins for awhile with a few CMs. I was back at the bus loading zone about 8:40 and watched an MGM/Epcot Bus just pull out. Drats! But wait - right behind it was another bus! I was impressed - I thought I would really have to wait for a bus to MGM from AK at that time in the morning. This left me reaching MGM right at 9 as well. Woohoo! 2 park openings in one day.

I headed over to RnRCC and because it was at park opening, there was no line so I rode it 2 times in a row, then got a Fastpass for it. I high-tailed it over to Star Tours and rode that with no wait before heading back over to the RnRC to use my Fastpass. After which, it was time to hit the MK.

The bus ride to the MK took a little longer than expected, but at least it took me to the front gates as opposed to the TTC, as the sign had indicated. We took a rather long detour through the Caribbean Beach Resort for some reason, stopping at every bus stop there (and picking up no one). It was nearing 11 as I entered the MK gates. There were swarms of people on Main Street, mostly the Millennium Dreamers. I found out later that there had been a parade of Millennium Dreamers down Main Street at 10:30, complete with Michael Eisner and the CEO of McDonalds. I wished I had known - I would have tried to make it. These kids were supposedly a very elite group of remarkable individuals. I took a few minutes to trade pins with some girls from Hong Kong, not really caring what I got and letting them pick what they wanted. I got some neat pins though - a HongKong McD's 15th anniversary and a WDW 2000 Press pin and they took back some nice pins as well - a Statue of Liberty Mickey and a TDS #1 (Mickey with 1999/2000). I realized then that I would not be able to do much if anything at the MK before needing to leave - it seemed way crowded. But I decided to head over to Tomorrowland anyway and check out Buzz Lightyear. The wait said 30 minutes but it looked much shorter and indeed was - I was in and out in 15 minutes, proud of my high score of 985,000. :) I realized at this point that I was hot and thirsty and my legs were hurting a bit. No telling how many miles I had already put on and I certainly wasn't strolling leisurely from place to place. Not that I was about to slow down. But I did have just a little time to duck over the bridge to Adventureland to sample one of these famous DoleWhips I had heard about. They certainly earned their rave reviews! It was just what I needed. I ate it walking back to the monorail, and even found I could finish it on the monorail. My assumption that there was to be no food or drink on the monorail was false I guess.

It generally takes between 20 and 30 minutes to get from the entrance to the MK to the entrance to Epcot. It was a couple of minutes before noon at this point and I realized I would not make the noon meeting with my parents at the Epcot Pin Trading Station. We had said that if either party wasn't there at 12, we would meet back again in 30 minutes. I would make that time easily. I stopped by the Leave a Legacy station on the way in and inquired about obtaining a pin. I had left my legacy back in November, before they started giving out pins. All she had to do was take my name and look it up on the computer - and in a couple of minutes I had one of these pins in my hot little hands. Mom and dad met me back at 12:30 - they had been touring Innovations in the meantime. We took the boat over across the WS Lagoon and made our way to Japan to the Yakitori house for lunch. Very good and reasonably priced (for WDW) Three of us ate for under $20. From there we wandered back leisurely towards the Millennium Village and spent some time wandering around inside before heading back to Future World. We spent awhile wandering around looking at the topiaries and displays for the Garden Festival and in Mouse Gear before heading back to the AllStars resort. By this time it was late afternoon. Oh - and you know that Figment pin I had looked for in vain on my last trips, and had just bought from someone 2 days earlier? Well - they were all over Mouse Gear.

We had decided that we either needed to leave before or after Orlando traffic, so we had a couple of hours to kill which we decided to do at Downtown Disney. Since we have the MKC card we generally save our shopping to do at here to take advantage of the 10% off. Lots of Figments here too. We also ate dinner at Ghiradelli's. Ice Cream for dinner! Woohoo! I had the Cable Car which is a scoop of chocolate, chocolate chip and Rocky road with nuts, whipped cream and a cherry. Yummm! Very decadent, but this was vacation after all. Again, this meal was just under $20. For this day, our eating total was just under $60 for 3 people. So this was a nice end to our long weekend. It's always in some ways sad to leave or see a vacation finished, but I suppose it has to happen. Now that I have an AP, I know I will be back again, hopefully soon!

Susan Turner