MousePlanet Trip Report Editor
Justin Callaghan - WDW (16-18 Dec, 1994) - Wilderness Lodge
- Time of Year: Holiday Season
- Travel Method: Personal Car
- Resort: WL
- Accommodations: Standard Room
- Ages Represented in Group: Elementary, Teen, Adult
- WDW Experience Represented in Group: Infrequent
- Comments: Justin's report covers a two day stay at Wilderness Lodge, visits to the Magic Kingdom, and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. This is an interesting report since it covers things from a teens perspective.
Walt Disney World -- Christmas 1994 (Including "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party"): Despite the length of this report, the trip was not a long one -- only two nights at the Wilderness Lodge, December 16 - 18. We visited only the Magic Kingdom.
Introduction & Backgound (or "The Part You Don't Really Have to Read"):
One night in late November of 1994, my father showed me a newspaper advertisement for Walt Disney World. It was large, maybe three quarters of a page, and it showed a small boy, Mickey Mouse, & Main Street USA decorated for Christmas -- and it was snowing. A headline said "The First Snow," and at the bottom of the ad was information on advance tickets for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. He told me that we were going.
Living in Florida, it was almost pitiful how infrequently we visited WDW. I really loved the place -- I'd first been in 1981; I was two years old. The whole Disney property, especially the Magic Kingdom, had an indescribable atmosphere unlike any other place I could imagine. I was glad that we were going back. We had never been during Christmas, and I knew that the holiday season was, arguably, the best time of the year to go.
I asked when we would be going and learned that it would probably be the last day that the party was going on: Friday the 16th of December. That happened to be the last day of school before Christmas break. At first, plans only included the VMCP (Very Merry Christmas Party) and a night at an Orlando hotel. But, with a little persuasion on my part, it was finally decided that we might as well revisit the Magic Kingdom on Saturday, going home Sunday, and this prompted my dad to opt for reservations at the new Wilderness Lodge, which was more than fine with me.
My 11 year old cousin Jerry had asked me earlier in the year if he could go with us to WDW the next time we went. Jerry had gone with us before, and he, unlike a lot of people I know, shares my fascination and general interest in the park. Although he is almost four years younger than me and he's my cousin, we're still friends, and it's always fun to bring him along on vacation, especially to WDW. So I managed to persuade my mom to invite him.
A couple of weeks before the trip, my dad told us that we could skip school the Friday we were leaving. It would be the last day before vacation, so it didn't much matter, and we needed the extra time to drive up to Orlando. The next day my Dad took Jerry to a TicketMaster outlet to buy his ticket for the VMCP. We already had ours -- they'd come with our reservations. Thursday the 15th finally arrived after three hard weeks of the "S" word (school). I'll tell ya, I was tuckered out. At around seven o'clock that night, I fell asleep on my bed, slept a full seven hours, woke up at around two in the morning and didn't go back to sleep. I don't recall exactly what I did all night, but I wasn't catching Z's like I should have been. I packed my bag and took a shower, maybe fiddled around with my new computer, but I did not sleep. And I would come to regret this the next day.
As morning neared, I went into the living room and found Jerry sleeping on the couch; he had not been there the night before when I'd begun to take my extended nap. My dad had already left for work. I sat in the living room as my mom got up, and soon Jerry awoke only to begin moaning that he was sick. He did this sometimes -- whenever he wanted to go somewhere far away from home, he would get anxious for some reason and make himself sick. He was fine if the trip was impromptu, and it wasn't homesickness; once he got to where he was going, he was fine.
Around noon my dad came home from work and soon the five of us -- mom, dad, Jocelyn (my seven year old sister), Jerry and I -- left home, behind schedule as always. In the van we all sang Christmas carols along to a tape in the stereo, which I realize is an awfully corny, "Clark Griswold-ish" idea of family fun, and very unusual for our family, but it seemed to make Jerry forget about his ailment.
By the time we got to the turnpike, the tape had played through one full loop, so we turned it off and drove north. I put my new Sting CD into my portable player and reclined in the back seat. I tried to sleep a little, but excitement (and caffeine) prohibited this.
We got off of the turnpike in Kissimmee with the intention of eating lunch. We finally found a Shoney's and stopped there. My dad told us what he knew a little bit about the "party" we would be attending that evening. Someone from work had been on a previous night, and told him that the "snow" was actually made of bubbles. I told him that I didn't understand how bubbles could look like snow. Garsh was I ignorant.
WDW 1994 (or "Start Reading Here"):
We proceeded to the Disney property. We took the main entrance, riding along World Drive where we passed the Dolphin and Swan resorts, which are always pleasing to the eye. We could also see the Tower of Terror rising up from behind the brush. We would not be visiting MGM Studios on this trip, though.
We rode into one of the Magic Kingdom "WELCOME (now please pay for parking)" booths where one attendant forgot to give my dad change while another was loudly arguing with another driver -- I think it was something about a horn honk. A sign said "TONIGHT'S EVENT IS SOLD OUT." Good thing we all had tickets.
During the summer of '93 we'd seen some construction of the WL (Wilderness Lodge) from Bay Lake when we'd stayed at Fort Wilderness. Still, as we drove down the winding road, under the welcome arch and started to see the hotel, I was struck by how much bigger and grander the building was up close. Seven stories high with two large wings jutting out forming an enormous "U" (really more of a "V") in aerial shape, WL is themed after the national park lodges of the northwest. We drove into the entrance plaza, where a barbecue-like aroma floated thickly in the air.
We usually follow the rules, but this time we were going to break one. We were not sure what would happen if we were caught with an extra person. I could just imagine the bellhop saying, "I'm sorry, only four guests per room, folks, you'll have to stay someplace else, Disney doesn't tolerate this sort of thing." We thought up a few excuses we could give for our extra vacationer, but finally decided to play it safe. So dad went in to register for what seemed like hours, managing to get his change back at the registration desk. Then we parked in the giant parking lot and carried all of our bags all the way to the entrance, all by ourselves.
The lobby is awesomely beautiful -- square with a cathedral ceiling, and the upper floors each with their own wrap around balcony. For Christmas, there is a very very big Christmas tree stretching upward towards the top of the room. Hanging from the ceiling, around the tree (when it's there), are four large canvas-covered chandeliers/lanterns that look sort of like teepees, surrounded by iron rings carved with silouettes of Indians chasing buffalo. And I haven't even mentioned the two totem poles, the stone fireplace, or the windows in the rear that provide a view of the spectacular pool area.
Unfortunately, I had a hard time savoring the beauty with a seventy pound load on my shoulder. We weren't sure what the weather was going to be like -- it's so unpredictible this time of year -- so we'd packed both warm and cool clothes, which only increased the weight. We found the elevators and zipped up to the third floor.
I love the smell of hotels -- most of them, anyway -- and the scent of this particular resort was very distinct, which greatly added to the ambiance. As we walked down the endless hallway, I was really amazed at the size of the hotel, and remembered seeing it as a mere frame of a building not two years before. Our room was way in the back of the WL -- third from the back actually, east wing, east side, or room 3160 for anyone who cares -- so we had the pleasure of walking almost the entire length of the property. It was not a terribly happy trip. It's a biiig hotel. After four of five years (or so it seemed), we arrived at door #3160 and put our loads down for a sweet moment. We were almost there. Dad was having trouble unlocking the door with the resort ID, which doubled as a card key (and an admission pass if you opt for that pleasure). We were becoming impatient. Wait a second, that's a child's ID. Try the adult. It worked, we went inside, put the bags down, then I went out on the balcony and admired our wooded view. I'd already been awake for 14 hours.
The room was nice, but fairly small. All things considered, I'd say it's exactly what you'd expect for this prime location on the Disney property at $160 a night (it's probably more by now). The television is concealed inside of a nice cabinet with drawers underneath. The bathroom is conceivably small, and there is a sink/vanity area right outside. There's a small key safe in the closet. As far as layout and size, it's really your typical hotel room. But the Disney touch is there, with quilted bedspreads, walls bordered with Indian motif, and a nice wilderness carving on the television cabinet. Add this with the fact that it's on the lake right across from the Magic Kingdom, and therein lies your extra cost.
Try as a might, I could not sleep. I knew that at least a little nap wouldn't hurt to keep me going until 2 AM. Mickey's VMCP was from 8 PM til 1 AM, but with the crowds, it was likely that we would have to wait awhile to get on the boat back to the Lodge. I was getting tired, but had ruined any chance of sleep with that horrible caffeine stuff. So I figured that I might as well stock up on another activity-inducing substance before we started the festivities; I watched TV and ate some Hershey chocolate nuggets while my dad and Jerry went back to the van to bring up some soft drinks.
When the little hand reached the five, we heard the sound of rushing water from the balcony. It was coming from around the corner. Must be that geyser, I said, and so me and Jerry went out into the hallway to look through a window into the courtyard. The view was obscured by the building itself, though, and we could not see down far enough.
We left for the launch to the Magic Kingdom at a quarter til six. Instead of backtracking to the elevators, we took the stairwell down, which was at the end of the wing one door down from our room; we found this to be a great convenience, though admittedly an ELEVATOR at the end of the building would have been much nicer. The rear pool area of the WL is stunningly gorgeous, almost surreal. There's a good sized pool with a small water slide winding through a rock (but we wouldn't have time to swim nor had we brought our bathing suits). A small waterfall pours from a source out of the lobby and perpetually empties into a creek that flows into the pool, and the pool, in turn, empties into Bay Lake (or at least it appears to). There is a boardwalk that goes over the flowing water, north of the pool. Looking out toward Bay Lake is Fire Rock Geyser, which erupts on every hour. The whole area is magnificently landscaped. All of this is lit up at night by two columns of bright lights on either side of the lobby.
The boardwalk continues northwest for a small ways, over some wetlands, near the west wing of the resort, and out into the lake until you reach the dock. That's where we were going. Waiting for the launch to arrive, I looked out over the water. Fort Wilderness was off to the right, and since the Lodge is positioned at such an odd angle on the lake, it was a little disorienting. (BTW, my descriptions that include cardinal and/or intermediate directions are sort of screwed up, since I was thinking the lobby faces due south (when it really faces roughly southwest)).
The new boat driver was waiting with us -- his shift would start when the next boat got there -- he told us that the MK was closing at six, so they would reopen for the VMCP at eight. We told him that we had tickets for the VMCP, and we were going to ride the monorail to the resorts until 8:00. The captain told us that it would probably be crowded. Oh well. As the boat pulled away from the dock, the geyser erupted. It was officially six o'clock.
The boat crossed over the bridge near the Contemporary and, alas, we could see the Magic Kingdom -- the Castle and huge Christmas tree rising awesomely in the distance. From the Magic Kingdom dock we proceeded immediately to the resort monorail station. Amazingly enough, and contrary to what our skipper had told us, it wasn't crowded at all; we were first in line for the next available train. We took it to the Contemporary Resort, riding in the front cabin with the driver. We got a nice view of the Magic Kingdom from the monorail, and one of the first things I noticed was the new Tomorrowland. The Astro Orbiter deco looked fantastic, but I must say, I thought all of the purple-blue fluorescent lighting was almost an eyesore. It drew your's eyes away from and took all of the beauty out of the otherwise majestic Cinderella Castle.
At the Contemporary we saw the Pekoes Goofy Christmas show. They performed it right in the middle of the concourse, in front of a country western band that provided the music. Jerry danced with Goofy. I thought it seemed a little politically incorrect for Disney, with Cowboy Goofy as the hero and Chip and Dale as the Indian bag guys (who steal the Christmas presents). I'm not saying that I'm personally opposed to the little Disney vignette, I was just surprised as lately Disney's been doing/changing things in a PC way. Around the shops there were Christmas decorations that went well with the Contemporary's southwestern theme, as well as a large hot air balloon filling north side of the concourse.
Back on the monorail we rode to the Grand Floridian, where we saw their giant Christmas tree. There were Christmas carolers caroling in the lobby. We took a break on one of the couches in the lobby area, then went outside on a second floor balcony area for some fresh air. We were the only ones out there. Dad admired the palm trees planted on the property. I lay/lie(d)/whatever down on the outdoor couch. I was seriously beginning to feel fatigue, and was worried that I wouldn't be able to make it through the evening without falling asleep. I'd never stayed up for 24 hours straight, but it looked as though I might just have to tonight. I had been awake for well over 2/3 of a day, and the night was just beginning.
We got to the gate a half an hour before the party officially opened. There was a long line of people at the turnstiles, but they had opened the gates. Jerry ran over to the Newsstand to look at Mickey Mouse caps -- no one was paying attention and he could have easily stolen one, but he's a good boy. We walked down Main Street USA, and it took me a second to realize that it was "snowing"! It looked about as real as snow could look in Florida -- the effect was absolutely perfect! I caught some in my hand and found that they were nothing but soap suds! Bubbles indeed! "That's smart," my dad remarked, "that way they don't have to clean it up." I took out the video camera and started taping from inside one of the shops so as not to get soap on the camera, but I eventually came out to capture the moment, and in doing so I got soap suds all over the lens.
The park was open only to those who had tickets for Mickey's VMCP. We entered the Plaza Pavilion to get our complimentary photo taken, took our souvinear buttons, and had some complimentary refreshments (cookies and hot chocolate). As far as how the VMCP is different from any other typical MK holiday visit, these were the only major things I noticed. What else was there? Here is a list of the "perks" from our Disney holiday pamplet (followed by my unperky comments in parenthesis):
MICKEY'S VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARTY, FEATURING:
- The first snowfall on Main Street (it snowed again when came the next day, and I'll bet it snowed the day after, too)
- The season's biggest fireworks (the night we were there, rain pretty much ruined the "bigness" of the blasts)
- Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade (they started showing this the next afternoon and on every subsequent afternoon through the rest of December)
- Holiday shows throughout the park (yes, on all three stages, but these were also being shown throughout the remainer of the season)
- More Disney character appearances than ever (and yet we didn't encounter a single character roaming the walkways)
- And unlimited use of Magic Kingdom attractions (well DUH!)
Do note that while the shows and the parade were being shown on the dates after the Christmas Party was held, this post-party holiday season is usually much more crowded than days in early December, so if you want to beat the crowds and see the holiday shows, the CP is a darned good idea. Unless, of course, they start selling more and more tickets each year, in which case the CP could also become quite crowded.
But my favorite thing about the "party" was the fact that it was at night. The Magic Kingdom is so much more magical in the dark, and during a lot of the pre-Christmas season, the park closes before the evening has long taken effect. Not the case tonight. It had been dark for a good half hour when we left the Plaza Pavilion.
Walking into Tomorrowland, I got a closer look at all they had done with the place. It is really amazing how much the relatively minor additions make it look so much more futuristic. We passed the exterior of the new Alien Encounter -- they were giving castmember previews that day (that attraction was shut down for reworking shortly after New Year's; it reopened in the spring of 1995).
Tomorrowland was empty, but it was still early. The lines were either small or nonexistent. Unfortunately, it was beginning to sprinkle. We made a restroom stop near the Skyway, then started our touring.
Looking back, I realize that we made an enourmous(ly stupid) mistake without even thinking about it. As Disney resort guests, we'd been admitted to the party some twenty minutes before the general public. We should have taken advantage of this and done the more popular rides while the crowds were still sparse. We did not. (This was partially due to the fact that Mom and Jocelyn did not enjoy many of the more popular rides -- ie. anything with the word "Mountain" in it -- and we wanted to start the evening doing something together without splitting up.)
We went on Dreamflight, which was totally deserted. When we got off, the sprinkle had become more than a sprinkle, so we stopped at Star Traders to buy rain ponchos. Then, in the biggest mistake of the night, we did the Grand Prix Raceway, Jocelyn's favorite ride. It took about a minute to get to the cars, and shortly after leaving the loading area, it really started pouring. Through the freezing rain I drove, poncho over my head, in the dark, squinting miserably at the track ahead, hoping it would all end soon. It finally did, and we all agreed that that was the least amount of fun we'd ever had at Disney World.
On to the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and the new Snow White. All of this was mainly to please my sister, even though she ended up getting scared on Snow White (a ride which we'd somehow managed to bypass every other time we'd come to the MK). I didn't think too much of it, either.
We looked around in Mickey's Christmas Carol, the Christmas store at the MK (seasonally appropriate), then stopped at the Pinnochio Village Haas for a quick dinner. I was starving, but that feeling of fatigue was really getting to me. My tongue wanted food, but my stomach rejected. I only got a cola, and had a few of my mom's french fries.
Mickey's VMC Parade would start soon. Of course the best viewing area for parades at the MK is Frontierland. So we headed toward Liberty Square right after taking in Peter Pan's Flight, bar none the best ride in Fantasyland. My mom went into the Yankee Trader, the kitchen store, to look for a gift for one of her friends. I felt very drowsy and was beginning to feel sick to my stomach. Must've been those french fries. Dad had decided that after the parade we would go on Thunder Mountain, a thought which didn't much lessen my nausea.
I was feeling a little better by the time the parade started. Only problem: we couldn't see the parade. Even though we got there a half an hour early, that obviously wasn't early enough and all of the good road-side standing areas were more than taken -- there were about three rows of people. We backtracked toward the Liberty Square bridge, found a break in the crowd around the Hall of Presidents and watched what we could. It began to rain. The audio speakers in many of the floats emitted random bursts of static, apparently due to the wetness. It was a good show -- Disney knows parades -- but it would have been better if the music had played uniterrupted by noisy explosions.
There's always a big crowd in Frontierland after the parade. I had forgotten just how big until I again found myself in that post-parade situation, trying to stay with my party, looking at the 1000+ heads slowly making their way along the Mile Long Bar area of Frontierland, many of whom were probably going to the mountains: Thunder and Splash. We were probably fools for doing the same, but oh well. Mom and Jocelyn went to see the Country Bear Jamboree Christmas show. Dad, Jerry and I went over to Thunder Mountain and got in line.
The line was remarkably short for the crowd, although the queue area was very dark, as usual. We got on in no more than fifteen minutes. The ride attendant had the three of us -- me, my dad, and Jerry -- all bundle into the same row. It was a tight fit. I love Thunder Mountain at night. The dim fluorescent lighting adds a special effect to it. As we went careening around the banks and turns, the magic of the moment was heightened as the fireworks started to go off.
When we got off, the fireworks were still going. We stopped to watch them in the Thunder Mountain viewing area. It was still sprinkling, though, and as I mentioned before, many of the blasts lost their effectiveness because of the moisture.
We searched for mom and sister for a good forty-five minutes. We thought that they were still in the Country Bear show, so we waited for the show to end, always looking in the queue to see if the next show had started. But they didn't come out. We found them sitting on a bench just around the corner -- they had been there the whole time! What a complete waste of time! After checking in with them, we headed over to Splash Mountain. The line was pretty short, but, like on Big Thunder, the queue area was poorly lit, irritatingly dark, with nothing but dimly flickering bulbs simulating lanterns to light the way. It did induce a sense of atmosphere, but it also hurt my eyes. We got in the logs; me and Jerry were in the third row. The only other time I'd ridden Splash Mt. I'd sat in the back row and on every drop the vibration would make my back hurt, sort of taking the fun out of it all. I don't know what caused it, or if maybe it was just the way I was sitting, but this third-row-ride provided a much more enjoyable experience, enjoyable enough to allow me to say that Splash Mountain has got to be my favorite Disney attraction. When we got off and looked at the photos from our plunge, I noticed another Disney price hike. We'd already gotten a Splash Mt. photo the last time we'd come. Back then they were $7.95 for the first and $6.95 for additional, already a little much, but now they're asking $9.95 for the first and $8.95 for additional. No thanks.
We found my mom and Jocelyn, who was sleeping on the bench where they sat. It was past midnight, and we decided to leave well before the park closing. I'd been awake for 22 hours. And, to tell you the truth, I wasn't even that tired anymore.
We walked through Adventureland toward the central hub, and again I noticed that blueish-purple-fluorescent-Tomorrowland lighting. It did look awfully cool when you were in Tomorrowland, but from the current point of view it really took a lot away from that giant castle.
As we exited the park I took more videos of the snow on Main Street and the huge Christmas tree in the town square. There was a medium size crowd of people at the dock to the WL. We waited about five minutes for the boat to come and Jerry and I sat in the back outside area. The reflection in the glass window in front of me created the disorienting illusion that we were traveling backwards.
Back at the WL we tried to enter the building from the east wing close to where our room was, but we found the door to the stairwell to be locked. We entered a door on the other side, but there were no stairs over there, so we had to walk down to the elevator. We rode up to floor number three and, stupidly, proceeded to get lost in the hallways. I still don't understand it -- the layout of the hotel is anything but complicated.
In our room I reclined on the bed and fell asleep with The Tongiht Show playing on the TV.
The next day we got off to a late start. I woke up with a headache. I hadn't gotten nearly enough sleep in the past 36 hours, and only recluctantly did I pull myself out of bed. After sitting out on the balcony, noting the fog and breathing in the humid air, we got dressed and went down to the lobby to buy tickets and to take a closer look at the decorations. Dad had forgotten his Magic Kingdom Club card, but still managed to get the ticket discount simply by mentioning the association through which he'd joined.
I took the camera and taped everything I could, inside and out. Jerry and I went out to the van to fetch my cap. There were a couple of limousines in the entrance area; we wondered if they could possibly be celebrities there for the Planet Hollywood opening, although I was pretty sure Disney would give big celebrities rooms at the Grand Floridian or Vacation Club resorts. But probably not all of them...
Inside the lobby we had some delicious cookies at the refreshment post near the source of the Silver Creek. Nearby, there was a miniature town made out of candy. I understand that these towns are on display at several of the Disney resorts during Christmas time.
It was a very foggy morning, so the boat launches were not running. We went to the bus stop and waited for a good fifteen minutes before finally boarding and rode to the Transportation and Ticket Center. Since the express monorail was crowded and we were resort guests, we decided to take the resort monorail to the Magic Kingdom, even if it did stop at the Polynesian and Floridian resorts en route. We were the only ones waiting at first; only a couple of other parties joined us. After waiting twenty minutes for the monorail to come, we wondered if this was really the best route. Usually the monorails will come every five minutes or so, but this time we waited much longer. It finally did come, from the Contemporary, and we traveled around the Seven Seas Lagoon to the MK.
On this Saturday morning, the MK had actually opened to resort guests at seven o'clock, but after poking around and encountering these transportation delays, we didn't get there until nearly ten. We rode the WDW Railroad around to Mickey's Starland, saw Mickey's Starland Show and a few more attractions. We had lunch at the worst time of the day -- luchtime. We ate at the Plaza Pavilion, my favorite fast food restaurant in WDW -- the deep dish personal pizzas there are a hundred times better than the barf burgers they serve at most of Disney's fast food places.
We rode the PeopleMover, now called the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, and listened to its new soundtrack. Jerry asked if we could ride Space Mountain next, another ride I'd somehow managed to miss on every previous visit. But as we passed by on the TTA, I pointed out the ridiculous length of the line, explaining that it was coming out of the entrance, starting below the TTA track. Looking across to the other side, my dad corrected me; the line actually went much farther down, all the way to the Astro Orbiter queue. Forget about Space Mountain, at least for now.
Next we saw the newly reprogrammed Carousel of Progress. It was between the third and fourth scene where the carousel broke down, giving us a view of both scenes at once. Halfway through the scene(s) they got it moving again, but it didn't turn when the scene was over; either it broke again or the people backstage wanted to let us see the whole scene. I liked the new future scene better than the old, outdated one, but the other changes did not seem to be very drastic to me. And I left my $20 Nike cap inside.
We traversed the hub and did some other rides, but it was Saturday and reasonably crowded. Jungle Cruise had a noticeably long line, and our skipper guy wasn't that witty; he seemed to be decidedly bored with his job. Splash Mountain had the longest line, at least four times longer than the one the previous night. This time I sat in the front row, and the front row is the place to sit if you want to get wet. I took some pictures from the top of the mountain with my waterproof FunSaver camera. And I got wet. Finally, as it neared six o'clock, we took a walk through the Swiss Family Treehouse and then decided to leave. As we walked down Main Street toward the exit, the Christmas tree lighting ceremony began. As the crowd sang "Jingle Bells," the star on the tree and all of the lights in the park were turned on. And it started to snow.
At the turnstiles, we got our hands stamped for later reentry. We waited awhile for the boat. It never seemed to come. But it did eventually, and we went back to the WL. After ten minutes of relaxing, I asked my dad at what time we would be returning, and he said that he wasn't sure if we would be at all -- the park closed at ten o'clock. I really wanted to go back, at least to ride that much-hyped Space Mt. for the first time, and even proposed that Jerry and I could return alone. However, Mom explained to me that Jerry's tendancy to wander off -- combined with his poor sense of direction -- might make this a bad idea.
Dad took a nap while all the rest of us went down to the lobby level to look in the WL Merchantile. I got a postcard, a WL T-shirt, and a Fruitopia. We rode the elevator up to the top floor and looked down at the lobby, and also went outside on a balcony, admiring the views. Back at the room my dad was now awake. What to do for dinner? We had one of those coupons that was good at select Disney restaurants, but as luck would have it, none were at the WL. So we said goodbye to seeing the MK again this year, took the bus to the TTC and rode the monorail to the Contemporary, where we made standby reservations at the Concourse Steakhouse. They gave us a beeper. To pass the time, we went down to the first floor and spent (wasted, actually) $10 in the arcade room. A half an hour later we went back up to the concourse, and sat down for about two seconds when the beeper went off.
To provide whatever excuse for a restaurant review I can come up with (I'm not exactly a connoisseur): the Steakhouse is nice if you're already at the Contemporary or nearby, but IMO it's not worth the trip if you're staying outside of the MK resort area. There is a limited menu selection, and they automatically gave/charged us for salad (without telling us). The food is good (I especially liked the seasoned baked potato), but I've had better at WDW. And to make the experience all the more enjoyable, one of the waiters spilled a couple of drinks right next to our table. Accidents happen.
After dinner we went to board the monorail. The Magic Kingdom had just closed, so the monorails were pretty crowded (standing room only). We looked in all of the sections, but there were none with enough space for five people. My mom, dad and Jocelyn got in one and told me and Jerry to get in the one behind. There wasn't enough room. We went to look in the one behind that -- bingo, there's some space -- but someone who should have seen us didn't see us and closed the automatic doors right as we were about to board, leaving us on the platform and separating our party as the monorail pulled out of the Contemporary. Some grumpy attendant rudely pushed us back behind the gate. We got on the next monorail -- Jerry asked a different, friendlier attendant if we could sit up in the "cockpit" again. Yes, he told us, there's enough room. So we got into the front cabin with this guy and his little boy, who along the whole way was trying to imprint into this boy's brain, "This is a MONOrail. MONO means ONE. See, ONE rail. MONOrail. MONO means ONE." Me and Jerry had to bite our lips to keep from bursting out with laughter. Then Jerry, the king of stupid questions, asked the driver if she had to steer the monorail. This seemed to peeve her a little as she explained to him that it was on a track. I would end up making fun of him for this throughout the next year or so.
We finally pulled into the Transportation and Ticket Center to see the rest of the family waiting at the station exit. We got on the bus back to the WL. Jerry, ever the extrovert, loudly chatted with the friendly bus driver.
Our final morning ended up a total waste. We got up really late. We'd planned to rent some water sprites, but decided that there wasn't enough time. We went ahead and put our bags in the van, walking through the bus stop and out into the parking lot. In a final attempt at Disney Magic, we checked to see if there were available reservations at the Whispering Canyon Cafe for the character breakfast. There were not. So we left the Wilderness Lodge. We bid it a pitiful farewell. Then we had a late breakfast at the same Shoney's we'd ate lunch at two days earlier. And then we went home. And, pitable an ending as this is, that was the end of our 1994 Christmas@WDW vacation. Boy oh boy, I can't wait til next year!
Thanks for the readin'; I sure hope you learned something!
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