MousePlanet Trip Report Editor
Jim Pertierra - WDW (5-12 March 1983) - Offsite
- Time of Year: Spring
- Travel Method: Personal Car
- Resort: Offsite
- Accommodations: Standard Room
- Ages Represented in Group: Adult
- WDW Experience Represented in Group: Infrequent
- Comments: This is a description of Jim's second trip to WDW. When he and Janet got married, they'd hoped to go to WDW on their honeymoon. It didn't happen, but they did make it a few years later. As was Jim's last report, this is great collection of wonderful memories.
Preliminaries / Background Check / Family History
As I related in my 1973 report, I had always dreamed about spending my honeymoon in Disneyland. Knowing I wouldn't be getting to California, I hoped to spend my honeymoon in Walt Disney World. Those of you hoping to now read about my honeymoon in Walt Disney World, I am sorry to disappoint you, it was not to be! <G>
What follows is a report, to the best of my receding memory, of my wife (the lovely Janet) and my first trip together to Florida in 1983.
When Janet and I were first engaged, we had hopes of spending the honeymoon in Florida at the Contemporary. We did a detailed analysis of our finances a few months before the wedding. 25 seconds later we came to the conclusion that a trip to Orlando/Kissimmee was not in the offing. So, after the nuptials, we went to Washington, DC. As an aside, we were married June 1, 1980. I was fast approaching 31 and I think that the reason St. Anthony's Church was full was to make sure that I did get married and the money could safely exchange hands. Both being Italian, it was a major league family get together. The reception was held in my Mother In Laws backyard. 200 people/1 bathroom/1 woods = fun! Anyhow, to the point. Janet and I drove back to our apartment to spend our wedding night, before heading for DC the next morning. On the way home Janet opened the envelopes from our friends and relatives. Much to our delight, we had enough money to go to Walt Disney World. Much to our dismay, we were leaving for Washington in the morning. Washington was great, which leads us, finally, to this trip report.
In April of 1982, the Northeast was hit by a freak snow storm. It was just before the start of baseball season and we were hit with a foot and a half of snow. During the height of this snowstorm, I called the Magic Kingdom Club and booked a week in March of 1983 for the Contemporary. At this point I had the first edition of Birnbaum and was reading everything I could get my hands on regarding WDW.
Fate stepped in again as we bought our first house in May of 1982 and came to the conclusion that we could not afford to A) Buy a house and B) Go to Walt Disney World. Now, you must know that it was a hard decision, but we went forward with the house and canceled the reservations. Not more than a month later the house fell through and we did not have a reservation anymore. We put the trip out of our minds as it did not look like it was in the cards.
One thing I should tell you about my wife is that she is one of the greatest Christmas people of all time. As we get close to Thanksgiving, Janet goes into overdrive and it lasts until New Year's night. On the other hand, the months of January and February hit her very hard. She lost her Dad in February of 1974, she hates the cold and it all kind of comes together. January of 1983 was particularly cold around here. On a Saturday in early January, Janet and I were out shopping when, out of the blue, she suggested we go to a travel agent and go to Florida. Now I did not need any persuading.
We walked into the first travel agency we saw and booked a week in early March. I was disappointed that we were not staying on the property, but at least we were going. Later in the day I was talking with Janet's brother John (middle brother in law) and told him we had just booked a trip to Florida. He told me that his family (wife Vicki, sons Tim and Bret (6 and 4 at the time)) were also going down as they had just bought a new vehicle and part of the deal was 3 nights at the Polynesian. They hadn't firmed up a date, but decided to go down at the same time. They were planning to drive to Atlanta and meet up with Vicki's parents, who would also be making the trip to Orlando and staying off the property.
A few weeks later we were surprised to learn that my Mother In Law, Anita, sister-in-law Patti, youngest brother in law, Chris, oldest bother in law, Frankie and Chris' girl friend, Mimi were going to drive down in February, for a week, and had already booked themselves into the Harley Hotel in downtown Orlando.
So, without talking with each other, the entire Lentine clan was going to be in Florida within a few weeks of each other. It was unfortunate that we would not be meeting up with my mother-in-law and the rest of the crew, but that was for other trips and other times.
Saturday, March 5, 1983
Our booking was at the 1776 Motor Lodge (which I think is now deceased). We had rented a car for the week. Janet and I were to take off from Stewart Air Force Base in Newburgh, NY (90 miles south) in a Charter flight at 7 AM on March 5th. The tour information told us that we had to be at the check in area at least 2 hours ahead of time or they might cancel us. Were we naive? Were we literal? Were we there 2 1/2 hours ahead of time? Yes, Yes, Yes!
Our car was locked into a fenced/locked parking lot on the base. You have to forgive me, but I have mercifully forgotten the name of both the tour company and the airline that they used for charters. You will see why shortly.
Janet and I walked into the waiting area and we were the only ones there, other than one representative of the tour company. This should have given us some sort of clue as to what our flight and airplane time was going to be like. At the two hour mark I asked the attendant if we could check in. She said that we would be able to check in shortly. At the 1 1/2 hour mark, the waiting area had swelled by 2 more people. I was actually starting to feel sorry for all those people who were going to be canceled and made another trip up to the attendant. She said it would only be a few more minutes. At the 1 hour mark, there were 10 of us and signs of life at the check in area. At the half hour mark they allowed all 20 of us to check in. While checking our bags I asked where the plane was and was told that it was being fueled and would soon be at the gate as boarding would begin in 10 minutes.
We boarded and the plane was only about 1/3 full. Now, calculating genius that I am, I figured that there would be plenty of leg room and a nice quiet flight. We fastened the belts and lift off - Florida, here we come in a couple hours. The flight attendant got on the speaker system to tell us that our next stop would be .........
JFK Airport in New York City!!!! 60 miles away. We wuz robbed! Our agent had kinda, sorta forgotten to tell us that little detail. Up we went and, immediately, down we came. The three things that Janet does not like about flying are 1) take off, 2) the time in the air, and 3) landing. So, there was a little good in this flight. <G>
The plane filled up, they closed the doors, and we sat, and sat, and sat, and sat and sat. Finally 2 hours after landing we were off again. In all fairness, the flight was very smooth and, before we knew it we were descending into Orlando International. Actually we descended into the old airport which used to be a military field. Before they let us off the plane, they sternly reminded us that we were to back at this exact spot 2 hours before flight time (7 AM, March 12).
Nonetheless, we were finally in Florida. It was warm and it felt really good We had to wait awhile to be picked up by the courtesy vehicle to take us to the car rental agency. We got a Toyota Corolla (nice one too!) and began looking for International Drive. By this time it was closing in on 4 PM. We had been up for 14 hours and we were both tired and hungry.
The 1776 Motor Lodge wasn't that bad. It was a standard room (we wouldn't be spending much time there) with the usual amenities. It did have the Disney newspaper listing all the starting times and the other pertinent information. (I still have it!)
There was a Red Lobster next door, so Janet and I walked over to get a bite to eat. I am not a big seafood fan, but I remember that meal (crablegs) being pretty good.
John and Vicki were going to be coming to the motel the next morning and we were going to caravan down to Busch Gardens in Tampa. After returning to Orlando, they were heading to the Polynesian to begin their stay on the property. We weren't going to actually going to the Park until Monday. While we were eating dinner, Janet and I agreed that it would be a good idea to drive over to the Transportation and Ticket Center after dinner, to purchase our 3 day pass. It would also give us the opportunity to get acclimated to a drive we were going to make 3 times over the next week.
By the time we finished eating, it was dark, but still gloriously warm. We drove over to Walt Disney World. I can still remember the feeling driving onto the Property. Everything they said about each step heightening the excitement was so true. We parked in the Magic Kingdom lot at about 7:30 PM (park was closing at 9) and hopped the tram to the TTC. As we walked up toward the lit ticket windows, we could both see Cinderella's Castle in the distance, lit up like a candle. We bought the passes and I broke! I almost pleaded with Janet to hop the monorail and spend some time in the park. Janet, as always, reminded me that we would be wasting one entire day's worth of admission for 1 hour. Recognizing genius when I saw it, we got back into the tram and found our car. In retrospect, the 3 day passes were pretty unique. The only other time I had been to the WDW (see 3/73 trip report) the park was operating on the E-Ticket system. The 3 day pass was pretty convenient and took the decision making out of which rides to use tickets.
On the drive back, I could not get the image of Cinderella's Castle out of my mind. It had been nearly 10 years since I had last seen it, and it felt like I had looked at it for the first time. Needless to say, we both slept well that night.
Sunday, March 6, 1983
John, Vicki and the boys showed up at 9 am on Sunday. We decided that we would take 2 cars down to Tampa. Vicki and Bret would come with Janet and me while Vicki's parents would drive with John and Tim.
Somehow it felt funny to be driving away from Orlando, but it was a beautiful day and a very nice drive. I handled the driving on the way down to Tampa. We had no trouble finding Busch Gardens. In retrospect, Busch Gardens suffers by its proximity to Orlando. The park has its own charm and is best viewed before WDW.
My brother-in-law had purchased one of the first generation camcorders. It must have weighed about 3000 pounds. He had to strap the battery pack around his waist and connect it to the camera. I am certainly glad he had the camera because the video that he shot that trip has helped keep this trip's memories fresh.
The roller coasters at BG were pretty good. At one point Tim begged Janet and I not to go on one of them, fearing for our lives.
The day flew by quickly and soon we were on our way back to Orlando. Janet did the driving honors and I dozed off. We stopped at a local McDonald's to eat. This was the first time I had met Vicki's parents and I really enjoyed their company. Her Dad (now dead) had a HUGE laugh that was very infectious. It was obvious that the boys were glad to be in the company of their grandparents (and vice versa).
While were at dinner, we tentatively made plans to try getting tickets for the Polynesian Luau the next night. We were also interested in the Hoop De Doo Revue for later in the week. Since Johnny was going to be on the property, it was left in his hands to get reservations. We decided to meet in front of the Town Square Cafe (It wasn't Tony's yet!) the next morning.
After McDonald's we all went our separate ways. I was a little envious of my brother-in-law's destination but it was warm and we would be going to the Magic Kingdom the next day.
Monday, March 7, 1983
The great day was here. Back to the Magic Kingdom. It wasn't a pretty day weather wise. The skies were threatening as Janet and I drove onto the property. We hopped on the monorail and headed to the Magic Kingdom. The crowds weren't that large at the turnstiles. I remember that the kiosks in the waiting area were announcing the imminent arrival of the Disney Channel. Janet and I headed under the train station and went our meeting area in front of the Town Square Cafe. Even with the overcast skies it was hustling and bustling on Main Street. There was no sign of my in laws, but Janet and I were content just to people watch.
When John, Vicki and the boys showed up, the skies opened and the rain came. Major bummer. First time in the park in 10 years and we were going to have to dodge rain drops. We put on our ponchos and headed up Main Street. John told me that he had gotten the reservations for the Luau for the first seating.
We hustled up Main Street but didn't stop anywhere. We had rides to so, shopping could wait. I can't remember the order that we did things that day, so I will just give you general impressions in clockwise rotation.
Pirates of the Caribbean was down for repairs so our first ride on that ride was delayed for a couple years. After studying Birnbaum for 2 years (I've still got the original Birnbaum with no Epcot Center - talk about thin!!!!) the two rides I wanted to get on the most were the roller coasters. We all hurried as quickly as possible to Big Thunder. The line was fairly long but they had both sides operating (had never gone through the then unique Disney line system before) so it moved fairly quickly. Big Thunder was a blast. It remains, to this day, one of my favorites. Birnbaum had recommended riding it at night and during the day in order to get the full effect of Tumbleweed. The ride was over much too soon and the line was long, so we moved on.
It was still raining (not pouring) so we headed for the Country Bears. As I said in my earlier report, Big Al had made no impression on me, at all. This time was different. From the first twang of the guitar to that Tex Ritter vocal....long live Big Al! Heh, heh!
We made every logistic mistake possible. We went to Fantasyland and completely passed up the Hall of Presidents and Haunted Mansion because we thought the kids wouldn't like them. Next up was Peter Pan (another all timer), Mr. Toad (A Jim favorite) and over to 20,000 Leagues.
We stood in the rain for 15 minutes before we got to the covered section of the queue. Needless to say, the wait was interminable. Now I don't know if this clouded my feelings for the ride, but that initial ride was my last on 20,000 Leagues. If the kids had enjoyed it I might have gone back, but they didn't even like it. Sorry 20,000 fans, but I am hoping they do something really creative with the area.
The rain knocked us out of the Grand Prix Raceway for this run through Tomorrowland. We hopped on If You Had Wings (sponsored by Eastern Airlines - "Official Airline Of WDW") which was okay, Carousel of Progress (still wonderful after all these years) and the Circle Vision 360 Magic Carpet Around the World, which had taken the place of American Journeys. The 360 Magic Carpet was wonderful but, then again, I am very partial to those rides.
At this point, the rain had not let up so we went down to the Town Square Cafe for lunch. Lunch was nice. We sat out on the terrace. Can anyone confirm my memory that the terrace was of the open air variety then? I seem to remember being able to look right out into the Town Square and across at the Emporium as opposed as to the current configuration since they renamed it Tony's. The Town Square has always been a favorite of mine especially now.
It was still raining when we finished eating so we decided to leave the park. Vicki's parents went over to the village with her to do some shopping. Johnny took the boys back to the Polynesian for a nap. Janet and I went back to the hotel to take a nap. We made plans to meet in the Polynesian Lobby at 4:30 to go to the Luau.
What was ahead for us was, to this day, a night that Janet and I both look back on as the best night we have ever had in the Magic Kingdom.
We met for the Luau and, frankly, was not impressed. I was really looking forward to the dinner as I am a fan of the food and culture. I liked the appetizers but the main dinner left a lot to be desired. The service was excellent and it was a shame that the food did not meet the service. The show was very entertaining. They could have told me anything and I would have bought it!
We got done eating and started walking back to the Polynesian. The rain had finally stopped. John, Janet, the boys and myself decided to head back over to the Magic Kingdom, which was open until 9 that night. We figured that we could stand in line for a few of the rides that we had not wanted to wait for during the rain. Vicki and her parents went over to Epcot for the evening.
The 5 of us caught the monorail at the Polynesian station and, in a preview of what was to come, got to sit in the front car. As one who, during every visit to Walt Disney World, wishes that my area of New York State would install monorails, I loved the ride. We got to the Magic Kingdom all too quickly and raced down the ramp with everyone else to get a head start over to Big Thunder Mountain. There was one problem with our plan - there wasn't anyone around. On our trip up Main Street we saw 2 dozen people, tops. We had the place to ourselves. So now that we the kids loose in the candy store, we were off. We rode Thunder Mountain twice in a row. What a difference at night. We were all giggling. The Hall of the Presidents was next and it cast its spell over me again. The Ford, Carter and Reagan figures were all new since my last visit. I always get the grins watching them "whispering" to each other up on that stage.
After the Presidents, we went over to the Haunted Mansion. Janet and I had Tim convinced (conned) into going into the Mansion. John could not (and did he try) get Bret through the front door. It was like there was an invisible force field and Bret would not go in. We said that we would meet them by the Riverboat landing and headed in. Tim had a ball! I did my best to try to make it scarier, but he was onto me. He wanted to go again, and it take much to convince us. The Haunted Mansion is one of those attractions where there is too much to look at. You always see something new, especially when you head around the corner into the graveyard. Love it!
We decided to take a crack at Space Mountain and, guess what, there was no one there. Johnny passed and Bret was not tall enough yet (not for long) so they went on the Starjets. Remember the first time you went on Space Mountain? It seemed like it took forever to get through the building and to the queue area. We ran through the displays on the way like they were not even there. But at the end, like a light at the end of the tunnel, was all the dazzling lights in the semi-darkness was SPACE MOUNTAIN. About this time Tim was running out of bravado. (Heck I am not sure if I wasn't losing it either) There was no line and we ran through the maze and into the loading area. The rocket cars were different back then. You sat in front of each other. Janet sat in front, Tim in the middle and I brought up the rear. Soon we were barreling our way through the darkness. WOW! About mid way through the trip, Tim turned to me and said, "Uncle Jim, I don't feel good!" Knowing if he was telling the truth, gravity was going to take whatever he did BACKWARDS, I was not in an enviable position. I braced myself and, suddenly, the ride was over. No damage. First words out of Tim's mouth, "Let's do it again!" We did it three times giving each of us a chance to sit in the front. We have not had a chance to go on Space Mountain every time that we visited the Magic Kingdom. I didn't go on it after our 1989 visit until 1996 (1992 and 1994 were Space Mountainless). Space Mountain remains a huge personal favorite, and the first time was the one I remember the most. Just for Tim. Now he is nearly 20, in College at UMass, and we still laugh over remembering that trip.
When we got out of Space Mountain, past the RCA exhibit, we met up with Johnny and a quite limp Bret. It was time to leave both literally and figuratively. So here we were walking almost all alone down Main Street in the dark with all exterior building lights twinkling. The scent of rain was still in the air and it was a wonderful close to a great night.
On our ride back to the motel Janet and I agreed that, even though the weather was miserable during the day, it was a evening that we would not soon forget.
Tuesday, March 8, 1983
We were not planning to be on the property today. We had a 3 day pass and we had planned a Monday, Wednesday, Friday rotation. We were going to do EPCOT on Wednesday (it was John and Vicki's last full day) and the Magic Kingdom again on Friday (our last full day). Janet and I thought we would sleep late and do some exploring. John called around 9 to saw that he had gotten reservations for the first seating of the Hoop De Doo that night. We had been hoping to get to see the show but were not sure if we could at that late date so it was a real nice piece of news. John asked if we could get to Fort Wilderness early to get the tickets and they would meet us before seating time. He told us to bring a change of clothes.
The only place I remember going to that day was the Stars Hall of Fame Wax Museum (long since departed). My In-Laws had hit it during their trip in February and really liked it. Janet and I had gone to a wax museum in Washington, DC during our honeymoon and discovered that wax museums were not really high on our list. The raves of my brother in law, Chris, made us go despite ourselves. As the Beatles once said, "Nothing has changed, its still the same". We re-vowed never to go to another wax museum.
After relaxing most of the afternoon, we drove back to the Magic Kingdom lot to take the bus over to Fort Wilderness to pick up our tickets for the Hoop De Doo. I ran up to the ticket window to pick up our tickets. Standing in line in front of me were two lovely young women from England. We had a nice conversation while waiting for the window to open. Loved the accent. We got the tickets and took advantage of the rocking chairs on the front porch of Crocketts while waiting for John, Vicki and the boys.
We were ushered in promptly and found our seats which were in the back of Pioneer Hall. To show you how things have changed, when the Pioneer Players made their entrance John started to video tape the show. One of the cast members came up to him and told him that taping was not allowed. So we have about 20 seconds of the show on tape. Of course, in 1983, video cameras were a novelty. Like I said before, John must have had a ton of equipment wrapped around him, so he stood out.
About the Hoop De Doo:
A) Loved the food (especially the salad) and
B) Loved the show.
I am very partial in regards to the Hoop De Doo. Each time I make our reservations for our vacation, I always reserve the Hoop De Doo. It is the one dinner we all agree on each trip, plus we want to sit near the front. When they say reserve early, it is great advice!
We were on the bus heading back to the TTC when John asked us if we would like to stay in the room that night. (Thus the change of clothes). They had plenty of room. I agreed but figured that the room cops would break the doors down at 3 am and remove us from Walt Disney World forever. The rooms were amazing. I swear to this day that the bathroom was bigger than our room at the 1776. I wanted to sit and watch the in-House channel forever. Too bad, looking back, that John couldn't have hooked the tape unit up to the television to videotape it. Have there been a few changes since 1983?
Vicki had a headache and was going to take a nap. Janet was tired also so John and I went down to Captain Cook's (it was a lounge then) to listen to the guitarist and have a cold one. We enjoyed the entertainment. After about a half hour, Vicki came down to see if the change of scenery would help her headache. I sat with them for a while longer, but found that I was getting tired myself. I went back to the room to sleep and they went for a walk on the beach. I tried to be as quiet as possible because I didn't want to trip any early warning devices causing the Disney Cops to come get me. Janet was fast asleep. She is normally a light sleeper, but that night's sleep was a very sound one for her. I feel right to sleep myself because I never heard John and Vicki come back to the room. Turns out they took a long walk and Vicki's headache turned into a monster.
Wednesday, March 9, 1983
Janet and I got up early. We wanted to get to EPCOT Center early to make dinner reservations for Alfredo's. Everyone else would meet up with us later on.
We took the monorail over to EPCOT. We managed a seat in the front car so we got the full, "Oh, WOW" in seeing EPCOT for the first time. It was a sight I will never forget. It was huge, shining and new! Even now I love that curve around Spaceship Earth.
There was hardly anyone waiting on line so we had a good shot at the mad dash to Earth Station for the dinner reservations. I had read an article in New York Magazine about EPCOT and they centered on Earth Station and the inhumanity of it. I skidded into Earth Station and was pointed right at a monitor. This was my first experience with 2-Way communications and I really enjoyed it. We managed to get a good seating time for 8 for dinner. We had decided against making lunch reservations, so Janet and I were free to explore EPCOT until we had to meet up with her brother.
One of the huge differences in EPCOT then and EPCOT now (and a change that I do NOT like) is that back then, when EPCOT opened, the entire park opened. The American Adventure was the one attraction we wanted to see, so we went straight to the World Showcase. There was just so much to see.
Our original objective was France and specifically the Boulangerie Patisserie. We purchased some coffee and a pastry and sat down outside the shop. If you didn't know that you were in Florida, you could be easily diverted. This is one of the things that I miss most about Disney now. Why not open up both parts of EPCOT? Seeing the World Showcase early spread out the crowds. You used to be able to get into the Land early also to eat. Now you have to wait there also. Just a simple thing like sitting in France in the morning is a treat that we can't experience anymore and it is our loss.
We spent most of the morning just strolling around the World Showcase. It was a little different than it is now. First off, there was no Morocco or Norway and there was this mysterious area between Canada and England that was supposed to be for international buffets, but I never saw anyone allowed in there.
Regarding the Countries themselves...
Of course, we loved the American Adventure. We saw it twice. The second time it broke down just as Ben and Mark were about to rise up on the Statue of Liberty. My favorite part was watching Ben Franklin walk up the stairs to visit (my idol) Thomas Jefferson. Just how did they do that. Also, the America Song, "America, Spread Your Golden Wings" ranks up there with the best of the Park music. (Speaking of which, there was no WDW/EPCOT Soundtrack record (dating myself) available at that time.)
One of my fondest memories of EPCOT was the music they played at opening. The exact name of the medley escapes me right now (it is 5 AM as I am typing) but it has always bothered me that the medley was on the WDW/EPCOT album, but they deleted it from the CD. It is probably my favorite (next to When You Wish Upon A Star and Tomorrow's Child) Disney melody.
Janet and I both loved the movies in the World Showcase. Impressions of France was so majestic. The grandeur of the estates, the lushness of the Country and the beautiful music makes it time well spent. Oh Canada is another favorite of mine. I especially love the mountain scenes and the Cathedral interiors. The Canadian gardens were (are) beautiful. We explored Italy just a little and saved it for later at dinner.
We had lunch at the American pavilion. Not that much different from Pecos Bill's to our taste.
We spent the afternoon in Future World. Future World in 1983 did not include Horizons, The Living Seas or the Wonder Of Life, so you know that we did not spend a lot of time there. But we did enjoy everything we saw. The lines at the Universe of Energy were always seemed long, so we didn't go in there but we did hit everything else.
My memory might be a bit foggy on this, but were they playing "Tomorrow's Child" on Spaceship Earth in 1983. We were in Spaceship Earth in 1983, 1985 and 1987 and my first recollection of the song was in 1989. Did I miss something? I can not believe that I did because I love the song. The ride was wonderful. Does anyone who ever went into Spaceship Earth not remember the burning smell from the Fall of Rome? One of the classic Imagineering touches. Spaceship Earth, the first time, was rather maudlin for me. I loved it, but we were months away from the divestiture of the Baby Bells from AT&T and, as a New York Telephone employee, it felt funny. Back then Spaceship Earth was sponsored by the Bell System, another name that is no more!
General Motors was a lot of fun. You could see Ward Kimball's touch all over the ride. The traffic jam scene is one that we will all remember.
I enjoyed The Land. We rode Listen to the Land. I wanted to go inside the farmhouse. In a later visit (to the then Good Turn Restaurant) it was nice to be able to take a quick peek into the upstairs bedroom in that scene. Symbiosis was a very entertaining movie, but the charms of the Kitchen Kabaret somehow escaped me.
Journey to Imagination was one that I was really looking forward to. My friend Chris Klug had worked on some of the Dreamfinder/Figment ride during his stint in Imagineering in the late '70's before returning to New York to work for SPI and design wargames. He had told me a little of the fiber optic stuff he had worked on. I nodded my head, but had no idea what he was talking about. We took the Dreamfinder ride and enjoyed it. We both had grins when our picture was taken even though we didn't know that we were on camera.
One of the other enduring images from our first trip to EPCOT was seeing Magic Journeys for the first time. My only exposure to 3-D movies was of the cardboard glasses with one Red cellophane lens and one Green cellophane lens. I wasn't prepared for the clarity of image that we saw. When the bird flew right up to my nose, I couldn't help but reach out to try touching it. I wasn't alone.
We enjoyed exploring Communicore East and West, but I can't tell you which was which. We took the EPCOT Poll and looked at all the exhibits. Whatever happened to the Roller Coaster simulation?
We met up with John, Vicki, the boys and Vicki's parents at Spaceship Earth around 4 PM. We decided to ride the double decker busses over the World Showcase. One thing we learned here was that the busses were not the quickest means to get from one side of EPCOT to the other. The water route was probably the quickest, but I think that sneaker power is the most efficient.
Our dinner at Alfredo's was great. Up until our 1996 visit, we always ate at least twice a trip at Alfredo's. We still had many special moments upcoming at the restaurant that will be contained in further reports, but this was very good food. Interestingly enough, the first 5 times we ate at Alfredo's, we sat at the same table, regardless of party size. It was almost like "our" table. Tim and Bret enjoyed the extra attention that they received.
In 1983, Laserphonic Fantasy, the older brother of Illuminations had not been born, so our late night entertainment at EPCOT was the lights and the reflections off Spaceship Earth. It was a pleasant day at EPCOT.
We had rather ambivalent feelings about the Park. While we enjoyed most parts of EPCOT, the overall impression it left with us was rather cold. It lacked the warmth and charm of the Magic Kingdom overall. At the time I wasn't sure why but now I think I do. I think that the "newness" of the park made it sterile. With none of the Disney characters around, EPCOT was left to provide it's own character and it was lacking. I must tell you, in all honesty, that today it is my favorite among the 3 parks in Walt Disney World, which does something about first impressions, but back then it was well behind the Magic Kingdom.
We drove back to the 1776 for the first time in nearly two days and were glad to find our that we had not been evicted. The bed felt good but we had to get back to the Property early because we were going to our first Character breakfast the next morning at the Empress Lily.
Thursday, March 10, 1983
It was an absolutely stunning morning. Not too hot, not too cold and the beginning of a very warm sun as we drove back to the property. Johnny had gotten seating for the first character breakfast of the day. This was to be their last day as they would be starting for home after lunch and would arrive back in Connecticut about the same time we landed in Newburgh on Saturday.
It is hard to believe now, looking back, what the landscape around the Empress Lily was like. You had to walk through a pretty heavily wooded area from the parking area adjoining the Marketplace to get to the "boat". It is also hard to believe that the Empress Lily was not a boat. It sure the heck looked like one, but......
That wooded area is now all Pleasure Island. I don't think that Pleasure Island was not even in anyone's brain in 1983. It was pretty rustic looking though. We waited outside for until our name came up. Our "room" was up on the second level of the Lily. It was a fairly large room and the 8 of us were in one sunny corner of the room.
Before I go any further I must tell you that my Sister In Law came to breakfast with an ulterior motive. She just knew that Goofy must be suffering intensely with the heat and her mission was to relieve him by depositing a piece of ice down his back. Now we all figured that if she did it, she was going to be deposited in the Hall of Misbehaving Guests and turned into an Audio-Animatronic Vicki.
The great thing about this entire confrontation is that it is all on videotape. We have watched it many times over the last 14 years and it never fails to bring tears to our eyes. The breakfast itself was just okay. Nothing special food wise for sure. As breakfast began to wind down, the characters started to make their appearances.
It was an interesting mix. Mr. Smee (who you don't see often at breakfast), J. Wellington Goodfellow (who had a lot of fun with the kid's Davy Crockett Coonskin hats) and Pluto were among the first characters out. Goofy came out and Vicki perked up. He was working the opposite side of the room when Minnie came out. Minnie was the last character, the star of the show. She came over to Bill, Vicki's father, and made a big fuss over him at the insistence of his Grandsons. Vicki, meanwhile, was just waiting for Goofy.
Finally, the Goof got to our table. He circled it shaking hands with everyone. Watching the video is interesting because we can see, as Goofy is making his way around the table, Vicki dips into her ice water for her ammunition. Now, the confrontation was merely seconds away. Goofy closed in on Vicki to shake her hand and Vicki spread her arms wide to give him a hug. Goofy obliged and Vicki made her deposit. Whomever the cast member was, he or she was just incredible. Obviously, the mask never changed expression, but you can see exactly when the ice hit the jackpot.
The rest of the room was clearing out as breakfast was over, but the action at our table caught a few people's attention and they stuck around to figure out just what was happening .Over the next 3 minutes, Goofy and Vicki sparred with each other. At one point they had each other by each other's noses and were using napkins as swords. It looked straight out of Peter Pan's Flight. Goofy went to another table and Vicki, unfortunately, thought that it was all over. She was soon Pearl Harbored by Goofy, who messed her hair up, called for a time out and waved good-bye. Everyone applauded because it was a hilarious performance. We finished our coffee and Goofy reappeared for one last hug. Vicki obliged and the Goof dumped several pieces of ice down her back. It was brilliant. Goof blew kisses and left the room to thunderous applause, not the least of which was from Vicki. We never knew who was wearing the suit, but it was an unforgettable performance and, as I said before, I am glad that we have it all on video.
John and Vicki were going to get some last minute shopping in at the Village before heading back to the Polynesian to check out. We had plans to check out Church Street Station for lunch. They were going to be heading back after lunch and Janet and I were going to try getting into an exhibition baseball game between Houston and Minnesota.
Janet and I both enjoyed the Village. The shops have changed a lot over the years (and I know that it has really changed since our last visit in March, 1996) and it has lost most of the charm it had back then. I looked up some of the names in the 1983 Birnbaum. Remember the Pottery Chalet, Toledo Arts, Sir Edward's Haberdasher? Our favorite was the Christmas Chalet. We enjoyed shopping in the Christmas atmosphere while it was 80 degrees outside.
We did some cruising around on our way to Church Street just to see a few of the sights of the area. We were due to meet up with John and Vicki at around noon. The Church Street Station was very nice. We liked the old time atmosphere. We were originally going to eat in Rosie O'Grady's but wound up eating in the Cheyenne Saloon and Opera House. We sat upstairs in this beautiful building and almost had the place to ourselves. I got the barbecue special with Ribs, chicken and pork. Scrumptious! I don't even know if it is still there, but we have never been back.
We said our good-byes and John and Vicki started back to the frigid North. Janet and I started searching for Tinker Field. By the time we got there, it was mid game and we had a great time watching some baseball. It was the first time that either of us had seen an exhibition game and we both liked the relaxed atmosphere. The pitchers did their running in the outfield between innings. No one seemed to lean forward in the seats in expectation of action, everyone seemed to lean back, relax, and enjoy the whole scene. I had a few of the players on my tabletop baseball team, so I watched them very carefully.
We didn't do anything special for dinner that night. We were planning on spending our last full day in the Magic Kingdom on Friday and knew that the packing up wasn't far away for us either. Neither one of us was really looking forward to going home, but the return was inevitable. At that point we didn't know if we would ever return, so we wanted to get in as much as possible.
Friday, March 11, 1983
A sunny, but cooler day. Janet and I took the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom. We had decided to have breakfast at the Town Square Cafe. We were in no particular rush to go anywhere but were only planning on hitting our favorites depending on the lines. Breakfast was very good. My orange juice was refilled many times (it was good!).
We walked down Main Street and noticed how you never really hear the music playing, but it is always there. Another of the things I love, along with the smell of popcorn in Town Square.
We spent a very nice day in the Magic Kingdom. We ate lunch at King Stephans'. I had the prime rib and I wasn't thrilled with it. The appetizers were very good however. We had a table by one of the windows which gave us a nice view of Dumbo.
By 4 o'clock we had enough and wanted to head out. Like my visit in 1973, we left on the Ferry. By this time it was getting very chilly. The wind had picked up and Janet froze on the way out. Again, the look back at Cinderella's Castle was special. I hoped that I would see the Castle again soon.
As we drove out and we were glad that we had managed to get to Florida at long last. We had learned a great deal while we were there. We knew that, if we ever returned, we would stay on the property. However, we had to stay off the property to realize it.
We also felt that special attraction that lies within those 30,000 acres. Driving onto the property, and seeing either Cinderella's Castle or Spaceship Earth washed us with pixie dust and brought back our childhood. Somehow you are never old while you are there. Perhaps that is what brings us back over and over again.
Return to Reality
The trip home was uneventful. We landed in Newburgh and the snow started flying. We were tired and the thought of an hour and a half driving in the snow was not something we looked forward to doing, especially after spending a week in Florida. We got home safely filled with many memories and thankful to be safe.
I thank you for bearing with me as my brain was being stretched trying to remember the magic. 14 years is a long time and, thankfully, my next report will be from our 1985 trip. 12 years is a lot easier than 14, trust me.
I would appreciate any comments (pro or con) and any constructive feedback regarding this report. It was a lot of fun to write and I hope it didn't bore you too much.
Last edited by Trip Reports; 02-07-2006 at 07:36 AM.
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01-29-2006 03:11 PM