The Great Grandmother of All Trip Reports
Before we even get started Id like to point out some conventions (acronyms) Ill be using throughout this report. For the longtime Disneyholics these will seem trivial but for you first-timers to one of these novellas please take time to look them over.
When I say
I am talking about
Walt Disney World
The Magic Kingdom
Disneys Animal Kingdom
Walt Disney Worlds Central Reservation Office
Disneys Coronado Springs Resort
Disneys Grand Floridian Resort Hotel
Disneys Caribbean Beach Resort Hotel
Disneys Polynesian Resort Hotel
Electrical Light Parade
Fantasy in the Sky fireworks at The Magic Kingdom
Voyage of The Little Mermaid
The Great Movie Ride
Beauty and the Beast
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Rock n Roller Coaster
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Voices of Liberty
Magic Kingdom Club
Ticket and Transportation Center
Pirates of the Caribbean
Carrousel of Progress
Tomorrowland Transit Authority
Voices of Liberty
I apologize for any Ive missed.
I thought long and hard about whom I should dedicate this trip report to and then it came to me. Although we all try to keep tabs on whats going on at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, we would all fall far short if it wasnt for the countless hours put in by our dedicated Disney Webmasters. Im sure my audience knows of who I speak of and agree with me that without their sites many of us would not be privy to information that we use in our trip planning.
So heres a Mickey thanks to all of you and I hereby dedicate this labor of love, The Official Great Grandmother of All Trip Reports to all the Disney Webmasters.
Oh yeah, before going any further I would like to say that I am assuming my audience is made up of
...Walt Disney World veterans who just cant get enough of WDW and are vicariously reliving my trip along with me
People who are interested in getting some trip information before planning or going to WDW in the near future
Friends, relatives, and colleagues who may or may not particularly be WDW fans but just like to read along hoping for a chuckle or twoI hope I dont fail you
Walt Disney World employees who I hope will at least take some stock in what I have to say good or bad. I am all for helping them keep WDW a fun place to always visitbut they need to listen to those of us who are willing to give our honest opinion of how things are down there. Its tough to please all the guests but if enough guests feel strongly about certain areas there must be some merit to those thoughts.
Okay audiencehere we go.
Flashback - The Family Trip
For those of you who have read the 1997 Grandmother of All Trip Reports you may remember that my daughter Holly did not go with us on that trip. With that in mind let me set the stage.
April 1999the settinga small restaurant in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. My wife and I had made the 2- hour trip to Vermont to visit Holly who was one month from her college graduation. We had gone up to bring back some of her things. You knowlike a few hundred pairs of shoes, five dozen sweaters (Vermont Winters are so cold that the bears wear overcoats) ten thousand CDs, and other assorted staples for a college coed.
We had come to this restaurant because we planned on taking the family out for lunch after graduation. We had a tough time finding a restaurant because the state of Vermont is stuck in the 60s and everything is closed on Sundays except for restaurantsand they dont open for business until 4 P.M. I think this law has something to do with the untimely death of an aging Indian squaw, who met her destiny one night while picking blueberries past her curfewduring a Full Moonin a leap year,
Ha but there was one restaurant, The Lincoln Inn, which opened earlier in the day. Surely this is a renegade establishment who will someday rot in HelerhHeck(after all this IS a Disney trip report).
Okay so were trying out this restaurant and after we order my wife went to powder her nose. Holly and I started to chat and I told her that her brother Mike and I were planning on going to WDW in late summer because we felt we needed it after a tough winter. She looked at me and said, You knowIll never say no again, referring to the 97 trip in which she had decided to stay home and work during the summer.
When Holly made that statement the wheels in my head started turning. I immediately conjured up a plan to turn this trip into more than I had originally planned. Could I pull it off and make it the family vacation I had wanted the 97 trip to be? I told Holly that we would have to figure out a way for us to somehow convince her mother to buy into it. When I had planned the trip in March Carol had suggested that just Mike and I go and that she would stay home. I assumed that Carol was thinking that Holly would have either secured a job by then and not be able to take a vacation or that Holly would be in the midst of a job search and not want to take the time off to visit Mickey and friends. But it was clear that Holly wanted to go.
Now lets fast-forward this timeline. It is now early June. A few weeks after graduation we had a family powwow and the plans changed a bit. Carol, once realizing that Holly had an interest in going, was now thinking like mea family vacation.
Mike and Holly had both decided that two weeks would be too much for them to be away. Mike did not want to miss more than a week of work and Holly was intent on finding a job in television (Communications Major).
We all decided that Holly and Mike would spend one week in Orlando and then fly home. Carol and I would spend the entire two weeks in Orlando. That plan seemed to work well with everyone.
I had originally booked the All-Star Sports Resort back in March when I thought it was just Mike and I venturing to Florida. I had to call and make some adjustments to the reservation.
99 Trip Tip #1 - Watch those dates
For those not aware, when you make WDW resort reservations be aware that if your reservation crosses over from one period to another that your room rate remains as it was for the first night. For instance, if you book one week in Mid-August and your room rate starts at $100/night and the fifth night of your stay happens to be the beginning of Value Season you will still be charged the $100/night instead of the $85/night because thats the way they do business. By the same token when moving from Value Season to Regular Season if you start with the Value Season rate you will end with the Value Season rate. How do you get by the original scenario? Easy, make two reservations so that the second reservation begins on the first day of Value Season.
Mike Scopa: Discount Hound
When I called the Central Reservation Office (hereafter referred to as the CRO) I told them of the change I needed to make. Remember that after the first two adults in the room anyone over the age of 18 carries a surcharge per night with that surcharge amount depending upon the type resort you are staying at. During the conversation I worked in the questions EVERYONE needs to ask when talking with the CRO: Could you please tell me if there are any Magic Kingdom Club or Annual Passholder specials during the time period I had originally booked?
Walt must have been smiling on me that day as although there were no rooms available at the Caribbean Beach Resort Hotel (CBR), which is our favorite WDW resort, there were some rooms available at Coronado Springs (CS) for the price of $104 per night. Now if we do the math we realize that if we dont use the AP special the price is $134/night plus $30/night surcharge ($15/person/night) plus taxwere talking approximately $180/night (for the first seven days. The last seven would have gone for $148/night)instead the nightly charge including tax came to about $116. Hmmm, $116/night for four people at the most recently opened WDW resort? What would Walt have thought?
One of my goals for this trip was to make use of every discount edge I had and try to save as much off the standard cost as possible. This was a big step towards that goal as, pay attention, the savings realized just by using the AP special on the room, came to just under $700.
It pays to ask.
Without hesitation I moved us from the All-Stars Resort to Coronado Springsby the way, the cost at the All-Stars resort would have been close to $100 MORE than CS. For those not familiar with the WDW resorts this may not seem like a big deal but we are talking about a Moderate resort (CS) versus an Economy resort (AS). Againit pays to ask.
I also booked the Polynesian Luau (which I later canceled) and Cirque du Solei (which youll find I was glad I didnt cancel).
Okay, the stage was set. The room was booked. I secured the rental car through the MKC/National Car Rental. Since I had waited for final plans before booking I knew I would have to jump through some hoops to get a decent deal. I had to book a full-sizesomething I would not have done if it were just Mike and I going. Using the MKC card I saved about $100. The airfare was booked via the Internet on a Southwest Airlines special$188 RT Direct. If I had booked it a month or two earlier the cost would have been $154 but again I had to wait for the family to make their final plans. It pays to plan early so do so whenever possible.
All that was left was the waiting.
This was a different type of territory for me. On average my WDW plans are usually in place an average of 12-14 months in advance. It was quite an education but now I know how to quickly put a trip together if I have toalthough I strongly recommend at least a six-month buffer. I admit thoughwaiting a month or so is a lot more tolerable than waiting a year or two.
For the record a few weeks before the trip Holly got a job as a television producer with the stipulation that she be allowed to take a week off in August to vacation with her family. The station really wanted Holly so they told her Whatever it takes
Everything had fallen into place.
Tuesday, August 3, 1999 - Good Bye New HampshireHello Orlando
I was up around 5 A.M. Do you really think I slept at all? Our flight was scheduled to take off at 8:30.
Apologies to Ponce DeLeon
I took a shower and did the dreaded deed of coloring my hair. To all the guys out there sporting gray hairbe aware that sometime during your lifetime your wives and daughters may ask you to color your hair to take the gray away and look good for the vacation pictures. This is fine and dandy but I want all of you to say along with meI will not let them choose the hair color!
I should have gone with the light/medium brown instead of the dark brown. When I had emerged from the shower I was shocked to see a mane of dark, almost black hair. My hair wasnt that dark when Doc Molliver gave me my first spanking and uttered that world famous saying, Mrs. Scopa, its a boy.
Now I know youre saying to yourself, Mike, give me a break. It couldnt have been that bad.
All I could think of wasElvis is in the building. Hmmm, maybe I can shave my head and then find a gray wig somewhere. Well there was nothing to do except hope that somewhere along the line Id see something like a million Brazilian tour groups to turn my hair back to a salt and pepper look.
We packed the van and drove to the Manchester Airport. I dropped off everyone and parked the van in the long-term parking lot. Hey a bus to take me back to the terminalcool. I headed for the gate. As with most Southwest Airlines Internet specials you board the plane 30 passengers at a time. Carol and the kids were already in line. We got our boarding passes and sat down to wait for the boarding call. This was the very first time we were to fly as a family. In other years Carol and the kids have visited relatives in Phoenix but I hadnt gone. The kids were pretty excited that this time we were flying and not driving down to Florida. I know my friend Julie OBrien will be proud of me when I tell her we were among the first 30 to board the plane.
We landed in Orlando some three hours later. It was the first time I had landed at Orlandos International Airport. Oh I had flown to Orlando in the pastthe last time was 1976. However, back then it was called McCoy Jetport and I think there were only two gates. My how times have changed.
Now the fun began. While Carol, Mike, and Holly concentrated on getting the luggage I sped down to the National Car rental deskand found NO ONE IN LINE. I mean not just for National but for all the car rental companies. In less than five minutes I was heading to baggage claim. I found everyone and Mike and
I headed for the National parking lot. Mike and I picked up the car (thank God I rented a full-sizebarely fit the luggage in the trunk) and we were off.
For those who havent flown to Orlando lately (many people still drive to WDW) take my advice and use the Greenway toll road. For $2.00 you will be able to drive from Orlando International Airport to the Walt Disney World property in about 30 minutes. Funnyit took less time to drive from the airport to the Disney property than when I returned(sigh).
We drove to Coronado Springs. Hey, where did all these trees come from? They had really spruced up the place since July 1997. We had driven past the resort back in 97 before the resort opened.
Holly and Carol stayed in the car while Mike and I went in to register. The room was not ready but we were able to get our resort IDs. For the size of the resort I would have thought there would be more windows at the Service Desk. Once we registered I immediately went over to Guest Relations and purchased Mikes
7-Day Park Hopper (used my MKC card). I asked if per chance I could activate the APs at the resort. I had an idea as to what the answer was but you never know. It never hurts to try. The answer was No.
I did convince the Cast Member Dawn to sell me E-Tickets for that night.
99 Trip Tip #2 - The E-Ticket Express: Part I
The E-Ticket Express is offered on special nights in The Magic Kingdom (TMK). To purchase an E-Ticket Express pass you must be a resort guest with a multi-day pass. When you purchase the E-Ticket it will look like your resort ID. You trade this ticket for a wristband at TMK. You can do this between City Hall and the firehouse or Splash Mountain or Space Mountain. Only 5,000 tickets are sold at least thats the impression I got from some of the CMs. Most of them said its about 5,000 but noone said it was exactly 5,000.
We drove off to the Marketplace. Hmmm, when I pulled in not only did I find a parking space without driving around 60 times but I found plenty of parking spacesa far cry from 1997. We walked right into the Rainforest Caf and sat down to lunch. The time was about 2:05. I mention the time because I want the audience out there to take note as to when its a good time to go to certain restaurants.
I wont go into what we ordered but I would say that Mike likes the Jamaica Me Crazy Pork Chops. I could not use my AP discount there because I had left the vouchers in the carnot sure if I would have gotten the discount with the voucher anyway. The RFC can be expensiveour bill was well over $100 so plan accordingly when visiting the RFC.
After lunch we checked out the RFC gift shoptons of stuff were reducedI purchased a polo shirt for not $40not $30not even $20 but for $14.
Welcome to Coronado Springs
We drove back to CS and we had our resort IDs coded. Our room was in the Ranchos section of CS.
CS has the following main areas:
El Centro - Front Desk/Guest Services, Main Lobby, Gifts/Sundries, Arcade, Bus Stop, Marina
Pepper Market - Lounge, Food Court, Convenience Store
Maya Grill - Full Service Restaurant
Convention Center - The last thing I want to see while on vacation.
Casitas - Largest of the three guest areasabout 1500 rooms (also closest to the Health Club and Salon)
Health Club and Salon - Mike was sure to find this place ASAP.
Dig Site - Pool, Nature Trail Bar and Grill, Arcade, Playground, Volleyball Court
Ranchos - Second largest of the three guest areasabout 1100 rooms
Cabanas - Smallest of the three guest areasabout 680 rooms
Our room was 7671 at the Ranchos. We (or should I say Mike and I) unloaded the car and put all our stuff in the room and we were off to TMK.
I parked at the Poly and took the monorail to the park. It started to sprinkle a bit. We went to Guest Services and I showed the CM at the window Hollys AP Voucher I had renewed in 95 and the two I renewed in 98 for Carol and myself. The CM informed me that I did not have to upgrade the vouchers. I thought that with the addition of the fourth theme park (Disneys Animal Kingdom) that Id have to upgrade the APs. I was pleasantly surprised. The best deal was Hollys as I had renewed her AP at the price of $194imagine having an AP at that price. If she were to stay the two weeks and entered a park every day the cost would be just over $13 a day. I was pretty happythe savings were adding up.
It really started to pour. I led everyone under the train station to the left and through City Hall. We saw several CMs at a table between the City Hall and the Firehousehey when did the Firehouse sprout Dalmatians? Check it out. Anyway there were NO LINES at the table. There were more CMs than Scopa family members at the table. We got our green wristbands for the night. Again I asked how many E-Tickets were usually available and I was told 5,000 so lets stick with that numberbut they seemed to think that only 3,200 or so were sold on this day.
It was still raining so we ducked into the Emporium...hmmm the Millennium merchandise was already out on the display cases and clothing racks. On to Caseys Corner to quench our thirst. We went over to TomorrowLand because Holly wanted to do the Carrousel of Progress. Surprise Surprise. The COP operating hours for the summer were 11 to 5. Hmmm, file that one away. It was well past 5 P.M.
Mike and Holly decided to do Astro Orbiter. No thanks! I said. After they came off the Astro Orbiter we all did the TTA (TomorrowLand Transit Authorityoriginally known as the Wedway People Mover), one of Carols favorite attractions. She likes it because its never really crowded; its not a big time thrill ride, takes you around TL, and cools you off.
It wasnt until we rode the TTA that I noticed Cinderella Castle changing colors. Dusk was approaching and the lights were oncool. I think it was those colors which drew us to the castlewe were trying not to do the E-ticket rideswhy waste time doing those nowlets do the attractions that are open until 11.
We cut through the castle and I checked out the banks of lights at the base of the moats...looks like a big time investment to meI liked the effectwhitebluepurple.
We walked right onto The Lion King Adventure. Hmmm, it has never been as good as the first week it opened back in 1994. To this day I still maintain that there were twice as many performers doing the show as now. The I Just Cant Wait to be King number back then was packed with animalsnot anymore. As we entered the attraction I started thinking to myself.Hmmmparking spaces at the marketplacewalked into RFCno line to get E-Ticket wristbands...walked onto three attractions
We left the show and cut through Liberty Square. The CMs werent sure if Pirates or Haunted Mansion would be on the E-Ticket menu tonight so we did the HMwalked right onhmmm.
97 Trip Tip #3 - Dont Go Left Here
Im sure many people have heard the go to the left advice. Well, when it comes to the Haunted Mansion stick to the right because the outside area curves to the right ...takes longer to get to the doors if you are on the left. Also, stand near the painting of the woman with the umbrellayoull thank me later.
When we left the Haunted Mansion we noticed the Electrical Light Parade had started. We got on the riverboat and watched the Parade from the top of the boat...pretty cool. I noticed the Peter Pan float and lookthe seven dwarfs mine car floatyepits the Disneyland version
Boy time was flying by. I reminded everyone that if they were hungry that we would be smart to get something to eat not much later than 10 P.M. as the restaurants would start closing shop. We had a light meal (salad and sandwich) in the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon and saw a great show. This show involved four guys who were pretty talented musicians and great comedians and entertainers. If possible schedule a meal around show time. The show lasted about 30 minutes.
We couldnt hold back. We went to the Pirates of the Caribbean. If its an E-ticket attraction; well do it later also. Im expecting about a 20-minute waitwrong. No linestill havent seen a line. Did you know that the audioanimatronic figure holding the key at the end of the ride was modeled after a longtime custodian at Disneyland?
Lets seewhat time is it? Hmm, almost 11 P.M. As Rafiki would say, It is time!
We headed over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (BMTRR) and as we approached the entrance we noticed a crowd and a few CMs holding court. The guests were upset because the CMs had closed the attraction. I heard one of the CMs say something like, Well its 11 P.M. and
I didnt hesitate and walked by him with my arm raised so he could see my wristband.
Okay, he said.
Mike and Holly followed me. As we made our way up to the loading area we could hear him trying to explain to the (non E-Ticket) guests why we were allowed on the attraction.
It was pretty strange, almost Surreal, to walk through the queue area with noone else around. Mike kept on saying, This is nuts! and Holly kept saying Oh my God! We got right on.
Methinks that BTMRR needs some adjustment. I always thought of it as a smooth semi-roller coaster ride. It seemed a bit rough tonight. Dont know why. As we left the attraction we were still lauding the E-Ticket.
We then headed for Splash MountainCarol again said shed sit this one out. Again there were NO LINES. Hold up that wrist. The CM at SPM was really into this E-Ticket stuff as he was handing out high fives as we went by him. Yknow that queue well behind the mountain? No use for that. Right up the stairs.
We had a log all to ourselves. Man did we get wet. I forgot about that area after the big drop. After you come off the big drop and head around to the left side the water canyons soak you, and then you stall next to this waterfall. When we came off we got the picturegrrr, I thought I was looking right at the camera.
We have to go again. This time Carol went with us and we all got wet. Carol was hoping to prove to everyone back home that she was brave enough to go on SPLM but the photo had Mikes arms up which covered her faceand I was not looking at the camerawe didnt buy that photo.
99 Trip Tip #4 - Conquering Fear at WDW
This is sort of a different type of tip. For those of you reading who are still not sure if you want to try Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Twilight Zone of Terror (TZTOT), or even the Rock n Roller Coaster please listen to my theory. In many cases its either the fear of heights or motion that prevents people from trying these attractions. If you think your fear is one of heights then I suggest trying Splash Mountain and TZTOT at night. Ive done them in the day and at night and the experience is different at night. By different I mean that the sense of height is not the same. SM and RNR because are basically in the dark. BTMRR is not a roller coaster ridegive it a try...at night. If you cant see how high up you are then you may just be able to enjoy these attractions. Motion sickness is another thing. Be like Mike (me) and stay far away from those deadly TeaCups.
After a few rides on SPLM we headed over to TomorrowLand. Holly and Mike went on Space Mountain.
SM just doesnt do it for me anymore so I sat this one out with Carol. When Holly and Mike came out of the attraction they commented that the attraction was just so-so. They used to love this attraction. HmmmI wondered if theyd ever ride it again. We headed over to Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin.
I think the Imagineers hit the jackpot with this attraction. Buzz greets you just before you enter to do battle with the Evil emperor Zurg. When you enter this attraction you may ask yourself, Gee, I wonder if Disney had to pay Viewmaster for In this attraction two people ride these space cadet vehicles. The bar across the front has two laser guns. The objective is to aim for the Z targets that you come across during the ridetheres plenty so no excuse to not score a zillion points. The middle of the bar contains a joystick that you can use to spin the car clockwise or counter clockwise. You need to constantly reposition your car so you can score points. Some of the targets move and you are also rewarded by more than just points when hitting some of them.
I dont remember how many points I scored but I do know that Carol scored a ton999,999. At one point in the attraction you will be going through a tunnel. For you BabyBoomers who remember If You Had Wings this is the tunnel where you felt you were skiing downhill. When you get to this area of the attraction spin your vehicle. As you approach the end of the tunnel you will get the sensation that you are spinning uphillpretty neat.
Since Holly had never seen Alien Encounter (AE) and since it was on the E-Ticket menu for this evening Mike and I escorted her to this attraction. We prepared her for the attraction. I was reminded by the CMs there not to video tape. Theres not much to videotape so I dont know why the warning.
99 Trip Tip # 5 - Read This before You Experience Alien Encounter
I may have mentioned this in previous trip reports but I think its a good reminder for those who dont like being confined. When you enter the AE chamber and sit downDONT SIT DOWN. Instead crouch a little or sit on your hands until the harness stops. That way you wont feel confined but also keep in mind that you may not get the full effect of the attraction.
Well Holly had mixed feelings about the attraction. She thought at first that it was going to be really scary and it was but not to the point that she had expected.
Carol and I wanted to make sure that Holly and Mike got the most out of this E-ticket night so we suggested that we go back to Frontierland to SPM and BTMRR. We told them wed meet them there. Along the way as we crossed over the Tomorrowland bridge we noticed the castle changing colors. Time for a picture of the kids.
Did I forget to mention that there were some characters out and about during the E-ticket night? Donald and Daisy Duck were outside the Buzz Lightyear attraction and Chip and Dale were near the TTA.
Carol and I observed some interesting things on this night. The guests using the E-Ticket seemed to be very outgoing. A CM told us that he enjoyed working the E-ticket nights because the guests were different and were really intent on having a good time, which made his job more enjoyable. These people were upbeat, party people...and Disneyholics.
Carol and I made our way slowly over to the BTMRR/SPLM area. We sat down and soaked in the atmosphere. Goofy was visiting folks near SPLM. Holly and Mike rode BTMRR and SPLM a few more times each before joining us. Wowit was almost 2 A.M. where did those three hours go? I figured that in total we did somewhere between 12 and 15 attraction visits in less than three hours or one every 10 minutes or sopretty good rate for a summer night.
One note: FantasyLand attractions closed at 11 P.M. and were not part of the E-ticket experience.
It was almost 2 A.M. and we headed back towards the Castle forecourt towards Main Street USA. As we crossed over the Frontierland Bridge I had mentioned to Carol that I had either read somewhere or heard somewhere about someone mentioning how he had hung around towards the end of the night in TMK and how he witnessed a closing ceremony with the castle. I couldnt recall exactly what the ceremony was.
As I was mentioning this to Carol we were about halfway down on Main Street USA and listening to the background musicits the sort of music you would expect to hear in TMK. Someday my prince will come.
We were slowly making our way down Main Street, USA.I guess we were right near the Main Street Cinema when the music changed, and the castle begin to increase its color change frequency.
The music changed and we began to hear a chorus that seemed to be humming When You Wish Upon a Star.
We then heard a voice come over the PA system and thank us for being therethen a quote from Waltthen a good-bye from Mickey.
Then we heard a chorus from a song I have heard on the Eric Kunzell CD called A Disney Spectacular.
Now while all of this is happening the castle is glowing and changing colors and the trees in the castle forecourt are showing off their sparkling and twinkling lights and Im pretty much going into overload.
The song finishesbig time volume. They finish with a big finale and then we hear Tinkerbells chimes and then, hmmm, wellthe castle changed colors again but I dont know how they achieved this effect. What I saw was the castle change colors from top to bottom as if several eye drops had splashed several different colors from the very highest spire and these colors dripped down the castle. Another way of describing it is to say it was like Mother Nature dropping a multicolored veil over the castle.
For anyone who has grown up with Walt Disney, Davey Crockett, Annette, Zorro, Mickey, The Mickey Mouse Club, and the other classic Disney memories you will be moved. It sounds corny but you will be moved.
Okay so after my family pulled me off the streetafter that performance I was on my hands and knees bowing to the castleI know! I know! But hey if the pictures come out those Korean tourists will have a good story to tell their friends on the other side of the world about the crazy American who prayed to Mouse God.
We took the monorail to the Polyfound our car and drove to CSI got us there in 10 minutesnot bad for the first dayWDW signs are great.
It had been a long day. We pulled into CS and dragged ourselves into our roomtiredbut content. I was still a bit wound upbut I fell asleep around 3 A.M. It was probably one of the most enjoyable 22-hour days of my life.
Wednesday, August 4th - Mike Scopa Sleeps in at WDW?
Sad but truebut it wasnt too bad. We all woke up around 9:30. The plan was to sleep in and then go to Planet Hollywood for Lunch. We got there a few minutes after they had opened and walked right in. Holly had been to the Planet Hollywood in Ft. Lauderdale and didnt like it. She seemed to like this one. Discount time. I used my AP and saved 20% on the bill.
Afterwards we took a stroll along Disneys West Side. Are there any collectors out there? If so you want to check out Starbillia. There are all kinds of political, show business, and sports memorabilia there.
Some of the more memorable items were
A 6 x 6 framed Wizard of Oz tribute that had 37 signatures on it from the stars of the movie. It can be yours for $12,500.
Cinderella sheet music signed by Walt himself$4,995.
A baseball signed by Babe Ruth $9,995
A team Picture (with signatures) of the 55 Dodgers...only $4,500.
You Yankee fans can get a team photo (with signatures) of the 61 Yanks. $5,500.
Can I interest you in an autographed photo of Superman George Reeves for only $2,495?
The store is pretty amazing. I saw a lot of browsing going on but not much purchasing.
We then went to Virgin Music store. I was waiting for this moment as I was looking for two particular CDs. The first was a reissue of a the Beachboys Sunflower album and the second was a song recorded by the Neon Philharmonic in 1970the song was Heido-Ho Princess. I found the latter but no luck on the former.
As we attempted to leave the store it began to pour. No sir. I was not going to let the rain stop me from doing what I wanted. We had a family POWWOW and discussed whether to visit DisneyQuest or to go to Disney/MGM Studios with the intention of staying to watch Fantasmic. We drove to MGM. Along the way I noticed the car in front of me doing strange thingsI soon realized that I was following first timers. Its kinda scary. For those of you familiar with MGM Studios try to picture a car that takes a RIGHT after passing the entrance booth.
While waiting on the tram to go to the park we kept hearing the tram guide saying, No more boarding please, no more boarding. But that was falling on deaf ears as people kept getting on the tram. Now I know why so many of the accidents in WDW happen regarding the tramsthe guests dont understand. Of course I wonder how much of that is a language problem.
We were in MGM a little after 2 P.M. I went over to Mama Melroses to book the Fantasmic dinner package.
OOPStime for a tip.
99 Trip Tip # 6 - The Fantasmic Dinner Package
On those days when MGM is showing Fantasmic you have the opportunity to secure some special seating by booking a dinner at either Mama Melrose or the Brown Derby. If you do so and everyone in your party orders an entre you are given a special orange pass for special seating for a Fantasmic show.
Now this may not sound like a big deal to you but keep in mind that people start filling up that 10,000 stadium as much as two hours prior to showtime to get a good seat. By booking this dinner package you can show up around 30 minutes to showtime and get good seats. Book as early in the day as you can because the seating fills up fast. We were told only 300 seats are available for this package. I would not put much stock in that figure. Id say it was closer to 500.
Holly and I went ahead to Mama Melroses to book the dinner package. We were disappointed to find out that there were only two seats left for the evening. Oh wellnow we knowgee and its only 3:00.
MGM seemed to have more of a summer crowd size than I had seen to this point. We walked over to the Drew Carey Show. I thought it would be a long wait but we were inside in less than 15 minutes.
Just as the show started I heard this little boy behind me say Wheres Doug? His father told him to be quiet.
AgainWheres Doug??? Shhhh!
Again with feeling.WHERES DOUG?????
His father had to clue him in that this was the Drew Cary Sound Showduh.
WellI wish I were in Doug Live. This Drew Carey Show was lame...see for yourself and then tell me if youd like to see the Monster Sound Show back where it belongs. I really think the folks at WDW should be more proactive in polling people for their opinion on different attractions in the parks. When we think its time for an attraction to be retooled we will be more than happy to give you some ideashonest.
Bring back the Monster Sound Showaudience participationfungeeI dont think I saw EITHER ONE in this attraction.
After the Drew Cary Sounds Dangerous show we hoofed down to Sunset Blvd. Along the way we saw a shop that was called Wicked Delights or something like that. This shop will remind you of the old time candy stores that offered you candied apples...something that Holly and Carol decided to try. I was thirsty so I took a Frozen Pineapple drink please.
We went down to check out the Rock n Roller coaster attraction. The RNRC Plaza is entered through an archway that has a rollercoaster mounted on a trackthat is, mounted upside down. This track weaves and loops and twists until it becomes part of a guitar necka big guitar. There was a 70-minute wait so we thought otherwise about doing it just thenplus we had just had a snack and who knows what lies inside that building.
Carol wanted to take a picture of Holly, Mike and me in front of the guitar. As she focused us in two oriental women walked between Carol and us and stood still for about 30 seconds, not realizing we were trying to take a picture. I caught their eye and said, Hucker, da pooka sah hiya and pointed to my wife.
They raised their eyebrows and got out of the way. We all kind of chuckled but well never know what that jibberish of mine meant to those two women. We guessed I said one of the following phrases
I did not have sex with that woman!
Look out! Incoming Brazilians!
No Im not glad to see youits an extra battery for my camera.
The Fried Dog at the Brown Derby is great this time of year!
I was abducted by a Pokemon Master.
I dont know which of these phrases I said but it got them out of the line of fire.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (TZTOT) was also looking like a long wait so we headed back to Hollywood Blvd.
We settled in around the SuperGreeter Bulletin Board to take in the Mulan parade. I dont know why but people kept cutting in front of me to cross the street just before the parade. When the parade started I noticed that under my armpit was the lens of a video camera and over my left shoulder was another camera lensI couldnt move.
It was at that moment that I thought of a great business someone could open in Orlando. It would be a Walt Disney World Bodyguard business called something like Spaces r Us. Anyone who has ever gone to WDW knows that sometimes it gets so crowded that your personal space gets invaded over and over and over and over againespecially during the parades. Well why not provide a service that lets you rent the services of Space Guards whose sole purpose is to guarantee you your personal space for the duration of your stay?
For parades these guards will make sure that noone comes within three feet of you and will deflect any guests who even think about crossing that line. Think of the enjoyment as you watch Mulan come up Hollywood Blvd. And you have plenty of elbowroom to properly focus and snap that picture.
After the show we discussed when we would like to eat dinner. The kids said that 6:00 P.M. would be a good time so I went over to the Prime Time Caf and made priority seating for 5:30.
99 Trip Tip #7 - Priority Seating Tip
Keep in mind that when you make priority seating at any restaurant they will try to seat you at the first available accommodations for your party. You are not making reservations. Thats why they ask you to be there five minutes before your slated timeif you are there five minutes prior to your time then theres a good chance youll be seated within 15 minutes of your time. I try to make priority-seating times about 20-30 minutes prior to the time I want to actually start eating. That way I get seated well before that time and actually begin my meal at the time I aimed for.
I wont bother you with the details of our dinner except that it was very good; weve never had a bad meal at Prime Time. I used my Magic Kingdom Club (MKC) discount. The discounts are beginning to add up.
Does it pay to use your MKC discount? Well look at it this way. If lunch for four costs $50 you save $5. A week of lunches saves you $35. Dinner for four will cost an average of $85 so 10% savings would be $8.50. Over a weeks period that comes to another $59.50. I estimate that during that first week with Holly and Mike with us the savings via the MKC and AP discounts for meals totaled close to $100. I saved at least $50 the following week. Admission to DisneyQuest was discounted by $25. If you count the discounts I got from the car rental and the souvenirs my total savings were well over $1000. What amazed me most of all was that this 14 day trip was less expensive than the 12 day trip I had taken back in 1990. The difference? Awareness of the many discounts and of course the foresight to plan accordingly to make the most of these discounts. I point this out for those of you reading this who are planning a trip for the first time with your family and are concerned about the cost. Look for the discounts and make use of them. This means plan, plan, and plan.
After dinner we took in The Great Movie Ride (TGMR). We had about an eight-minute wait. I always look for the subtle changes in this attractionmost of them are found in the movie montage at the end of the attraction. I noticed a few added clips from some recent films.
From there we made our way over to Muppetvision-3D. The best part of this attraction is the pre-show. There are all kinds of neat things in that pre-show arealike a Muppet made to look like Jim Hensen ...jokes like the colored blocks hanging from the ceiling in netting. Those blocks are supposed to be Jell-O ...you knowits a net full of Jell-O...or Annette Funicello...and look for the Muppet soldiers that you see in the 3-D film.
When the doors opened we held back a bit then went in after most of the crowd. We picked a row and made it about a third of the way and had to stop. The people in front of us had stopped and sat down instead of going to the end of the row. Holly, Mike, and Carol sat down. I didnt. I put my hand on my hip and glared at the peopleheck there were about twenty seats left in the rowI must have looked pretty ominous as about a dozen people got up and moved to the end of the row and we ended up towards the middle.
I took off my glasses and taped the movie with the glasses in front of my video camera lens. I didnt get a 3-D effectbut it was in focussorta.
We left the Muppets and walked right onto Star Tours. I like the pre-show area and havent really had time to enjoy it since 92...weve been fortunate enough to pick the right time to go on this attraction. It is getting a little old and there needs to be a new show. Are you listening imagineers?
We left Star Tours around dusk. As we headed towards the plaza in front of TGMR we heard this woman yelling and crying out loud she was looking for her daughter and English was definitely not her primary language. A number of people were trying to help her, notably the Cast Members on duty. Apparently this had been going on for a while. Many people were crowding around her and I urged my family to move on as we werent helping the situation and thought that if I were in that situation I wouldnt want people gawking at me either.
Just as we were near the Disney Radio building we heard that they had found her daughter and there she wasthe woman collapsedquite a scene. Imagine being in a foreign land and losing your childpretty traumatic. A week later I noticed a woman in EPCOT who had this leash that was attached on one end to her shorts and on the other end to her daughters shorts. There was about an eight-foot length to the leash. Good idea.
Well, enough of that. Since we couldnt do the Fantasmic package and were still recovering from our long day yesterday we headed back to CS. We wanted to check out the resort and wanted an early start in the morning for the Animal Kingdom. It was about 9 P.M.
We drove to CS and checked out the El Centro area. Panchitos gifts and Sundries is a pretty big gift shop. It rivals many of the shops in the other resorts in size. I think that the presence of a convention center in this resort had much to do with the size of this gift shop...not to mention the prices. If you really want to purchase a nice Coronado Springs shirt with the CS logo embroidered on the breast then be prepared to dish out $46. This price is so much out of whack from the other resorts that the convention center is the only reason I see for having such an outlandish price. Yes dear the convention was really worthwhile and I bought shirts for everyone...here you go Tommy, Susan, Billy, Katie. Ohsorry but I had to CLEAN OUT YOUR COLLEGE FUNDS TO BUY THESE SHIRTS!
For the record I did not purchase a shirt at this resort.
We checked out the food court area and restaurants. There is a sit down restaurant called the Maya Grill. I cant comment on it because we never ate there...but the fact that we didnt eat there may be a comment all its own. There is a convenience store that also serves as a place where you can get a sandwich, a box of cookiesand all kinds of stuff...sort of like a 7-Eleven.
The Pepper Market food court process will be explained later in this trip report.
We walked over to the La Vida Health Club. Its located in the middle of the Casitas section of CS. The resort may appeal to some peoplethe jury was still out with us. I think what is lacking is a footbridge that crosses over from the Dig Site to El Centro.
We went back to the room and tried to get to sleep early so we would be up relatively early to make our first visit to Disneys Animal Kingdom (DAK).
Thursday, August 5, 1999 - Disneys Animal Kingdom
We were up early and headed out to DAK. This park is pretty close to CS. CS is listed as an Animal Kingdom resortand now I know why.
Some initial thoughts after the first five minutes in the parkthe entrance area and access areas to the general outlets to the park could have been made wider but I think in all cases regarding the construction of this theme park the animals were of the prime concern and all areas had this in mind as the park evolved.
When we first entered the park there were creatures watching us from rocks and the ground. I thought it was a good touch to have CMs dressed up in interesting costumes.
We walked over to make priority seating at Donalds Prehistoric Brontosaurus Breakfast. We then checked out Countdown to Extinction (CTX). Holly, Mike, and I decided to try it but Carol decided to wait outside.
This attraction is very enjoyable but I agree with the warningsif you really have a problem with dark areas and sudden motion then Id pass. This attraction is a bit bumpy and will frighten small children.
The premise is that you will be going back through time to track down the dinosaurs but theres this meteor and then theres this T-Rex and wellthings get kind of hairy...check out the picture and me in the last row of our vehicleHolly is so frightened she is covering her face.
We left the attraction and headed over to Donalds Breakfastosaurus (held at the Restarantosaurus Restaurant) and in five minutes we were enjoying a breakfast buffet.
This was one of my favorite meals on our trip as it wasnt crowded and the food was very good. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy visited us at our table.
The restaurant was built to represent a structure that would have been built in the jungle or at a military siteor campsite. Its simple and made to look that way. Its a great place to have breakfast and the characters constantly came around to all the tables.
After breakfast we made our way to Tarzan Rocks! This show takes place in an outdoor theater but there is a roof and fans.
Like any show at a Disney theme park if you arent familiar with the movie the show was spun off from then you probably wont enjoy the music and probably wont understand the story, plotlines, relationships, characters, etc.
The same goes for the parades based on Disney movies.
This was the situation for Holly and Mike with Tarzan. The Tarzan Rocks! show was an amazing combination of singers, musicians, and athletes who sang, played, danced, rollerbladed, pedaled, and swung their way through the show. The show was comprised of all the songs from the Tarzan movie so it would have helped to have seen the movie or at least listened to the soundtrack.
Anyway, were talking lights, music, and singing like you would pretty much see at a rock concert. Beyond that there were performers who were blazing through the audience on rollerblades...then you have the guys on the bikes and then Tarzan and Jane swinging from vines...its a great show and it would be even better at night. I wonder what the animals think of the noise.
Even though it was close to the Noon hour and I knew it was not the right time to do this we went over to the Kilamanjaro Safari ride. Hmmmm...packed. But wait. Lets try the FASTPASS.
99 Trip Tip # 8 - Use the FASTPASS
I cannot stress enough how much time you can save using the FASTPASS. This is a great idea that helps everyone. Would you rather stand in a line for an hour or two or do something else and then come back and NOT STAND IN LINE to do an attraction?
The FASTPASS lets you make good use of your time because it will tell you when to go to a certain attraction. Thus you will not be idlesomething you may not want to be in a theme park and something certainly that the WDW folks dont want you to be in their theme parks.
Okay so how does this FASTPASS system work? Its real simple. All you do is insert your admission ticket into one of the FASTPASS machines. Your ticket is returned to you along with a slip of paper that serves as your FAST to this attraction. The FASTPASS system is not available for all attractions just some and you get your FASTPASS at that attraction.
The FASTPASS will indicate the window for which you will be able to enter the FASTPASS entrance to the attraction. Depending upon the attraction and the time of the day you inserted your admission pass; you may get a short or long window. Our window was 30 minutes long and it was about an hour or so away.
This gave us some time to explore this new park and we did.
Remember I said that this park somehow made the day seem hotter and more humid than if we were in one of the other parks? I guess we can chalk that up to the lush tropical atmosphere. There is less Air Conditioning in this park than in the othersless buildingsmore vegetation... really hot. I could sense the heat bothering Carol a bit. I bought Carol a tiny fan that had a pocket for a little atomizer. It wasnt one of those huge fans but a small one that would fit in the purse she was bringing around to the park. This fan was a very personal fan that could cool you off using two AA batteries.
We all got some water to drink and then took off for some exploring in the shops and then in some of the interesting trails. The trails lead you to areas that are inhabited with animals and especially birds.
I noticed that in some areas if you look up you can see that you are walking in a huge screened in area so the birds cant get out and the outside birds cannot get in.
I think it was here that we saw some gorillas and also saw a mear cat looking out for everyone. I called him Scout.
After an hour of exploring we went back to the Safari entrance to see just how well the FASTPASS worked. I figured that at best this FASTPASS would reduce the waiting time by about 50%. Well I was totally wrong and thoroughly amazed as we entered the FASTPASS entrance (a Cast Member DOES look at your FASTPASS to make sure its the right time window), and we walked by people waiting in the regular lineand we passed more peopleand more peopleand more people...and so onuntil we got to the loading area and got right on. The FASTPASS system calculated just how many people to allow for this time window so thered be no waiting.
If you have never been to the Animal Kingdom but have been to TMK and Splash Mountain imagine walking into a line parallel to the normal line...walking through the rocks out front and through the maze queue in the back up the stairs and eventually into your logWITHOUT STOPPING. Thats right, when you use the FASTPASS you most likely will walk right onto the attraction. There is no waiting or at least there wasnt for us.
There is no doubt that the FASTPASS saved us at least an hour (Im being conservative) of waiting in line for the Safari ride and I would even say it might have saved us close to two hours.
Note that when you put your admission ticket into the FASTPASS machine and get your FASTPASS you CANNOT re-submit your admission ticket for another FASTPASS until your present FASTPASS time window expires. Thats rightit wouldnt make sense for the system to allow you to get multiple passes from one admission ticket. Basically the database searches to see if there is an active FASTPASS that is associated with your unique admission media. If there is then you wont get another FASTPASS.
The Safari was pretty enjoyable. Hold on tight while riding in those vehicles. We saw lions, giraffes, okapi, wildebeests, hippos, rhinos, antelopes, zebras, and a lot more animals then I thought we would see at that time of the day. I could see that there were obvious attempts to place eating stations in some shaded areas that were also in view by the vehicles.
There are some surprises along the way with this ride but I wont spoil it for you.
After we left the Safari ride (still talking about how great the FASTPASS was), we checked our show schedule and decided to go to the Festival of the Lion King. This was in Camp Minnie and Mickey so we had to trek our way over to the other side of the park.
We got there about 10 minutes before the previous show was letting out. When we entered the theater we were amazed at its size. It was basically a theater in the round and there were plenty of seats. Again its an outdoor theater so you will not be enjoying the AC. Carol made good use of her personal fan while waiting for the show to begin. Actually we all made good use of that fan.
The show started up with a bang and I immediately recognized the lead singer. A few years back he was one of the Voices of Liberty. He played the role of the CM who introduced the Voices of Liberty and served as the Chorus Director. He has the voice that many radio and TV announcers would kill to own.
Festival of the Lion King is a remarkable show. There are singers and acrobats and audio-animatrons and all kinds of wondrous components to the show. Of course theres Timon and Pumba and naturally Simba. Its a great show because since everyone who attends the show has most likely seen The Lion King they are comfortable and familiar with the characters and songs.
The acrobats are very talented and you must keep your eyes on everyone in between the songs, as these CMs are really active during the show. Theres a lot of energy expended during this performance. Dont miss it, and oh by the way, before you go to this show practice making sounds like a giraffe, you never know when you may be plucked from the audience and asked to display this talent.
As we left Camp Minnie and Mickey we checked out Its Tough to Be a Bug. Its another one of those
3-D shows that each time get a little bit more realistic. Somehow we got front row seats although in this kind of an attraction its not much of an advantage. There are some surprises in this show that should not be disclosed to those who have yet to go...so visit our friends the bugs in the Tree of Life and you may be pleasantly surprised.
We took the train ride to Conservation Station. This is a definite must for animal lovers, especially if you have small children. Its very much like a petting zoo and a very educational area. But if youve seen enough animals in other sections of the park then you may thank me for telling you to skip the train ride to Conservation Station. Another point that must be made, if anyone in your party has trouble walking then I strongly suggest you skip Conservation Station. Its quite a hike from the train to CS and some people may find it somewhat difficult, especially the elderly.
We made our way to the front of the park. We stopped in at the Garden Gate Gifts to look at and possibly purchase the pictures that were taken of us when we first entered the park. I really didnt like either one because of the, erh, hair.
While we were looking at the pictures Holly made a phone call to someone back home who needed to know on this day if Holly was going to move in with her. Holly called to say no as one of her friends had called her earlier in the day and Holly was going to move in with her instead.
As we left the park we took a surveyfrom a CM who was there for the summer on the College programshe was from NH.
We had pretty much spent all day at DAK. Since the kids were in Orlando for only seven days we had decided to do as much here as we could. We did not do the Rapids.
Some observations I had regarding DAK was that it really would make me feel a lot better if they did not allow smoking in that park. Think of the animals and the guests and the thick vegetation. This is another suggestion for any WDW people reading this. I do understand that such a policy would be hard to monitor... but if anyone can do it
Im beginning to notice a strange habit exhibited by the 1999 WDW guests. They all have a disease called Doorwayitis This is a terrible infliction which causes people to stand right in any doorwaybe it to a restaurant, a shop, a rest room, an attractionits been real noticeable I never noticed this in previous trips.
This was a Brazilian Free Daycant say that too often down there.
So now its late in the afternoon and we hadnt eaten since breakfast. I suggested we go to Chef Mickeys.
Mike and I went over to the counter and put in our names while Holly and Carol relaxed. We were the first family called and, oh no, again? All families are brought over to a picture area and a family photo is taken. Gee, can I have enough pictures of me with this black mane?
Well we sat down, put in our drink orders (which means unsweetened ice tea or just water down there) and we started to eat. Chip came over to visit us and when Carol tried to take a picture of Chip between Mike and me the camera wouldnt work. Chip was kinda funny as he was trying to help but since none of us talk fluent chipmunk he wasnt any help.
It looked like the camera battery had finally given up. I hustled down to the gift shop and in a flash was back with a new battery. Everything was back to normal.
The next thing we know theres a towering CM standing over the table with packets of our pictures. Yes you can get a couple of these...big onessmall ones...magnetspassportsGod knows what else. I asked The question. No discounts. Too bad...I told her wed think about it. When our server came back I asked him about discounts. No AP or MKC discounts, but they do give a discount on the Wine and Foods Society. What the heck is that?
If youve ever been in Chef Mickeys you know from time to time that Mickey, Goofy, Pluto, and the gang do a little party dancing. Now if you are a CMespecially Goofyyou are pretty tall and can see only in front of you. I think more parents should realize this and keep their small children in eyesight of the characters. I think Goofys knee wiped out six dozen little kids during dinner. So Jimmy how did you get this imprint of a patella on your forehead?
I know it makes you look Goofy but how did you get it?
Did I mention that in the area where you first come into Chef Mickeys there is a little area where you may see Donald? Yepa short Donald.
As a salad lover I usually end up eating so much salad that I never have room for all the other stuff Id like to try at a buffet...but I love my salad. When I went up to the salad area at the Chef Mickeys buffet this rather large person was behind me. As Im going through the line this person stood on my right with plate in hand. Okay some lettuceperson still theregreen peppers...still theretomatoes...yeponionsIm getting nervouscroutonswhat the heck does this person want? Finally the salad dressing and Im outta there...I look back and this person is loading up on all the non-salad stuffsince there was noone in front of me why didnt this person just go to the meat and potatoes area...there was definitely no interest in the salad area tonight...or any night in this persons lifeIm no shrinking violet but could have been such a flower compared to this lady.
The picture person came back. I took the cheapest way outCarol wanted some pictures of the four of us. Ill just airbrush my hair so I dont look like Elvis.
After dinner we checked out the Contemporary gift shops. Just like Coronado Springs the Contemporary has a Convention Center. hmmmm another common denominator. Contemporary shirts are $56...much higher than other resorts.
Although we did think about going to the park right from the Contemporary we thought it best to head back to the room for a rest. We normally dont spend eight straight hours in a park so we were pretty tired.
Mike wanted to try out the gym at the resort. We went back to CS. Mike and Holly went to the Health Club and Carol and I scouted out the pool and the laundry area. By the way, in case youre interested its $40 for a family length of stay membership at La Vida Health Club.
Back at the room I did my thingchecked out what I had videotaped that day and also recharged my batteriesboth for my camera and my body. I was asleep earlywanted to get an early start for EPCOT.
99 Trip Tip #9 - Batteries, Film, Tape, etc.
Youll find almost all the WDW books telling you to make sure you bring plenty of film to take your pictures. Well Ill go further than that. Why take a chance and not have enough of everything? Try to get an idea of what youll see and how many pictures youll take and then bring TWICE as much film. You can do almost the same for videotape. A few weeks before your trip sit down and actually think about exactly what youll be doing on your trip, what youll be seeing, and what youll be taping. Estimate how much time youll put on tape and double that.
The most important thing is to make sure your equipment is ready and powered to go. I always purchase one or two fresh batteries for the video cameraI also number my batteries...the lower the number the stronger the battery. I always take at least two batteries and two tapes with me wherever I go in Orlando. With so many interesting things around you never know when you may find yourself taping some event you hadnt planned to tape. Also, batteries are so fickle I always have backups. On this particular trip I had seven batteries with meI used only six because one of them was pretty much done. Also, always have at least two batteries charged at all times. Try to get into a routine whereby you are always charging batteries...when you wake up in the morning, if you come back to the room in the middle of the day, or just before turning in at night. Dont be caught short.
Friday, August 6, 1999 - EUC (EPCOT Under Construction)
Today we went to EPCOT. As we walked from our car to the tram to take us to the park we noticed a van with a side door wide opened. We told the CM directing traffic. I guess we could have closed the door but you never knowmaybe the owner was on his way back to the vehicle.
I never got around to asking a CM about that roller coaster like track off in the distance to the left of the theme park. It wasnt until I got home and noticed the completed Spaceship Earth that I realized I was looking at the 2000 they attached to the side of the geosphere.
We noticed a lot of construction going on in EPCOT. The front of the park was all boarded off which takes a little bit away from the excitement of entering the park. It looked like some heavy-duty work was going on. Also, there was a huge structure to the left of Spaceship Earth (SE). This structure was a platform and on SE were two or three stars. Obviously this was part of the Millennium stuff. You could not walk to the left of SE. Also, the Centorium was closedactually it was temporarily located in the same area where that Pasta Piazza Ristorante area is...but there was far less merchandise in this temporary location. Too badmy best bargains were always found in the Centoriumsuch as my $18 Disney University shirt and my $20 EPCOT/World Showcase jacket.
Hmmm, I thought Innoventions would be totally closed but part of Innoventions West was open. Not much there.
We walked over to Test Track90 minute wait and also heard some grumbling about delays, stalls, and other stuff normally associated with the attraction over the last few years. We opted to pass on it for now.
I suggested we head over to the West Side of Future World cause everyone and his brother were on this the East Side. We strolled over to Honey I Shrunk the Audiencehoping that maybe Journey into Imagination (soon to be called The Imagination Institute I guess) was open. Nope.
Carol wasnt too sure about this attraction. The last time we did this we were really cramped into the small pre-show area. This time she asked a CM if there was any way she could see the show but also have the option of leaving at any time. The CM brought Carol to the last row of the theater right next to the exit doors. Mike went with her and Holly and I sat a few rows up from the stage. We all survived.
99 Trip Tip #10 - When in Doubt Ask a Cast Member
This is probably the best advice anyone can get regarding a trip to Walt Disney World and it comes with Carols strong approval. If you are unsure about any attraction dont hesitate to approach a Cast Member and ask if there are any options to viewing the show. The Cast Member may tell you exactly what to expect for the attraction and may also offer suggestions regarding your attending the attraction and also may help you in dealing with any potential problems you may see. They are there to help everyone and they really enjoy helping people who are quick to say thank you.
From HISTA we went over to The Land Pavilion. Living with the Land had a long line. We made priority seating at the Land Grill and then went over to Food Rocks. We sat in the first row and enjoyed the music along with the other five or six people who were there with ushonest.
We then headed back to Living with the Land and got on in about eight minutes. I always enjoy this attraction because Im a gardener and love seeing what they do with plants. I think Id enjoy working as a Disney botanist or horticulturist. While going through and looking at all the veggies growing I couldnt help but think back to my tomato jungle growing back home. When I had left I had 22 million green tomatoes growing and one had showed signs of turning orange on the morning we left for Florida.
After we did Living with the Land we decided to tackle Test Track. This time the wait was 2 hours. No thanks. I think this attraction is a candidate for the FASTPASS.
Gee is Horizons open? I know its intact. Nopenot open. I thought with a 2 hour wait at Test Track that Horizons would be open. Oh well.
We walked into the Wonders of Life Pavilion and the kids and I did Body Wars. Now I know why I didnt like it the first time I rode ittoo bumpy...maybe if there was a new show...but its kinda fun to see the actors who recorded the sequences. Recognize anyone?
I enjoy Cranium Commandand that was what we did next. The sensory Funhouse is okay the first time around, but unless there are some new things its not that interesting.
It was almost time for lunchno breakfast so we were pretty hungryand unless we ate pretty soon the CMs doing the Living with the Land would have to figure out how to explain the half eaten audio-animatronic buffalo in the attraction.
The Land Grill has changed the way it operates since our last time. It operates a bit like Whispering Canyon Caf. The server brings out your drinks and dishes. You are served your food on a huge platter and everyone takes what they wantthe chicken and the catfish was pretty popular at our table. Want more? Okay.
Food was skillets of flank steak, catfish, barbecue chicken, corn on the cob (best I ever had), zucchini and roasted potatoes. Along with this skillet we were also given a cold veggie salad. When we asked for seconds we got a smaller skillet. Hmmm, I figure that if the Guinness Book of World Records holder for the person with the largest appetite showed up at the Land Grille that hed be eating from a thimble when asking for the tenth skillet.
At one point the skillet turned into a pan the size of an omelet.
This was a character meal and Chip, Dale, Pluto, and Mickey himself came by to say hello. Chip and Dale were funny as they both tried to beat Mike in arm wrestling.
Oh yesuse the MKC discount in this restaurant.
It was early afternoon and we had planned to go to the World of Disney in the Marketplace so we decided to leave EPCOT. We noticed that the Field Trip/Education place was closed.
We planned on coming back to EPCOT to watch illuminations. I had received several Certificates of Magic from the Magic Kingdom Club of which I am a Gold Card Member. One certificate in particular gave me the option of viewing either Fantasy in the Sky or Illuminations from a special viewing area.
Well I knew where this special viewing area in TMK for FITS was...its just below where the Plaza Restaurant isfor you old time WDW goers its where you would get on those Swan boats.
Instead of FITS I opted for Illuminations as I have always had a tough time finding a good spot to watch that nighttime spectacular.
We went to Guest Relations and I showed them my certificate and they recorded my name and party number and told me where to check in at around 8:30 that evening.
We left EPCOT and headed over to the Marketplace. Along the way we dropped Mike off at CS as he was itching to get in a workout.
Again amazingly there were plenty of places to park. Either attendance in Orlando was down or the amount of expansion with Universal Studios and DAK has had an impact on all areas.
Holly was on the lookout for some souvenirs for some friends and I was looking for a watch.
I was thinking of getting a watch with the castle on the background or one with Walt Disneys moniker. We did see a special collectors series that offered you the opportunity of having an animator handpaint a watch for you for $200not sure Im that crazy about getting a watch.
There were two watches that caught my eye. The first one had a Magic Kingdom look to itsort of a castle on the face and the other was a WDW 2000 watch. I also saw a pretty nice leather jacket with some pretty neat embroidery on the back...hmmm a jacket instead of a watch? Maybe.
So over the next few days I have to decideI wont get a watch and the jacket its one or the other.
While Carol and Holly were shopping in the WOD I went over to Studio M. I found the WDW Forever CD Kiosks. It is at these Kiosks where you can burn your own personal CD with special soundtracks taken from around the WDW resort.
I was disappointed in the choices. It looked as though the choices were far less than had been reported on the Internet earlier in the year.
The general areas were:
The Magic Kingdom
Disneys Animal Kingdom
Walt Disney World Resorts
With each of these selections you then get into sub categoriesfor instance for the EPCOT Center you can drop into Future World and go to the Land Pavillion and get the old Kitchen Kabaret songs if you like.
For TMK and MGM you can drop down into specific sections of the park.
Id guess there were about 60 choices some of which were partial tracksSorcery in the Sky had Part I and Part II. The CD I burned had Sorcery, Spectromagic, Remember the Magic Parade, Golden Dream, and some Main Street USA tracks.
Tracks I would have liked to see would have been
If you had wings!
TMK closing schpiel
EPCOT Opening music
More background music from TMK, EC, and MGM
When you save your selections you bring your slip to a CM at the counter and they make the CD for you. The CM said that the Kiosks at TMK might have more selectionshmmm.
We left the Marketplace and went back to CS to see how Mike was doing and to rest up a bit. As I was charging the video camera batteries we turned on the TV and with school starting that day in Orlando there were back to school hotline numbers mentioned on all the channels.
Okay, so youre a back to school hotline operator.
Someone dials 1-904-437-7526 (actual number given).
Hello back to school hotlinehow may I help you?
Hello BTS hotline? Ive got a crisis. My son and daughter are having a tough time deciding which lunchbox to get for school this year. Can you help?
Thats what were here for maam. What exactly is the problem?
Well they each are torn between two selections and they are fearful of being ostracized if they make the wrong selections.
Okay maamlets work on your daughters problem first. What are her two choices?
Well its come down to Brittany Spears or Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Well Maam thats a tough oneweve got a problem with either onewith Spears youve got the breast augmentation problem and with Buffy youve got this Gellar obsession...in each case the children want to emulate their heroinesso if you dont want your daughter thinking about surgery and wanting to look like Brittany Spears or Sarah Michelle Gellar we suggest going to a recently released new lunchboxthe Blair Witch Project lunchpail.
Now why would my daughter want that?
Well, like the movie it doesnt cost a lot of money, comes with a thermos that, when you shake it, looks like the forest sequences in the movie, and contains scenes from the movie that are guaranteed to scare your daughter enough to keep her in the house after dark.
Ill take it.
Now your son.
Well my son is torn among three selectionsfirst theres this Stone Cold Steve Austin lunch box, Steve Austin is his favorite wrestler, then theres the Austin Powers lunchbox, and finally the Tiger Woods lunch box.
Hmm tough one. Well Id remove the Austin selectiontoo much violence and swearingAustin Powers could be a possibility but Myers has already made too much moneyscratch thatTiger Woods? Normally Id let it go but that could lead to other problems...your son may start asking for Nike clothing only. Our suggestion this fall for boys is to play it safe and go with the Darth Vader Through the Years
lunchbox. It commemorates Darths rise through the ranks and makes for a great conversation piece at recess.
Okaywell go with the Blair Witch and Darth Vader lunchbox. Thank you so much.
Thank you for using the back to school hotline.
We got back to EPCOT in the early evening. Mike was hungry from his workout so he grabbed something hed been wishing two years forone of those turkey legs. He enjoyed it but said it seemed awful fatty. As we passed by the American Adventure Pavillion I told everyone I needed to powder my nose.
I wont go into the gory details but lets say that after you turn away from doing your business you dont usually expect to see A LITTLE GIRL IN THE MENS ROOM!
What is this Ally McBeal?
Some guy had brought his little girl into the mens room with him. Okay can we assume hes a single parent? It took about three minutes for Carol to stop laughing when I told her about this little adventure.
The Lord of the Dance show was going on in front of the AA Pavilliondidnt look too impressive.
I told everyone Id scout up ahead as to where wed be watching Illuminations that evening.
I found the area that had been described to me earlier in the day at guest relations when I registered us with the certificates of magic.
The area is located across from the Italy Pavillion. If you are facing the Italian Pavilion you will notice two buildings. The one on the left has to its left a small cart that sells Italian delicacies. Opposite that refreshment stand is a special viewing area called the Isolata. It was roped off. I went up to the CM guard and asked here if this was the place and she said it was and asked for my name and she said yep its on her list and to return around 8:30.
We walked around a bit and then returned. She let us in. There was one other family in there. A family of three. We felt somewhat odd in this area because it could hold about a 100 people very easilybut there were only seven of us in there and everyone kept on coming up and asking about getting in and the guard had to explain how to get in there. I guess that gold MKC card paid off after all.
She took a picture of us with the Lagoon in the background.
Around 8:45 a group of seven people showed up at this viewing area. One person pulled out a magic certificate and his name was also on the list...for a party of two. The other five were stunned when these two people went under the rope. What about us? I heard from one of those left behind. You need one of these certificates! the man saidand smiled.Thats not right returned the people. I agreed. If you are part of a group you all should stay together.
In 92 we had driven down with another family and we were getting into Orlando a day before our reservations were to start. I had called from Daytona to see if we could get the rooms a day before...we couldnt but there was one room available...we turned it down and stayed offsite that night. It wasnt a big deal to us.
I remember others in that seven person family called out to the couple inside the rope, Thats not fair. Youre with us. They didnt look too happy.
Some guest asked me how we got in there and I told him...he looked puzzled.
To the side of us was another roped off area that looked to be set aside for some company or conference gathering. There was music and wine flowing for awhile in there and I saw guests trying to get in there too. It was obviously a special event for this company or group or whatever.
Just before Illuminations started I asked Holly and Mike what theyd like to do for the remainder of their stay. There were only three days left. After some reflection on what they wanted to do we decided to scratch Universal Studios. I think they really would have liked Islands of Adventure but it was their choice.
Illuminations started. The show appeared different from the last time I had seen it. While I was taping the show I kept hearing this small boy over my right shoulder. It sounded like he was right in my ear. His father had to keep reminding him to shut up and watch the show. I think it was the very first time this kid had ever seen fireworks.
I really like the post-Illuminations music...we walked counter clockwise towards Future World. We came across this band called Cast in Bronze made up of four musicians. One played the keyboard, one played the drums, one played a guitar, and the other one played a carillon. This musical instrument looked like it was a something out of a gothic novel. Imagine you are sitting at a huge pipe organbut instead of pipes you are playing bells...and Im not talking Salvation Army bells. Im talking church bell size bellsQuasimoto bells.
Now imagine thisits around 10 P.M. and real dark...these guys are playing something out of Poltergeisttheres fog around...it was pretty surrealistic. We were up close and the music was unbelievableit wasnt too crowded at EPCOT this evening.
We left EPCOT and returned to CS and went to the Pepper Market. Like I had said before its a different way of eating. We went into the Pepper Market and were seated. We were given these tickets which we could take to any of the stations to get things like salads or grilled dishes, pasta, veggies, soup, desserts, sandwiches, drinks...and instead of paying for them at that time we had out tickets stamped with a code that represented the item we got.
It was close to 11 P.M. and I got the feeling that most of the people working at the Pepper Market werent too happy about working this late hour. I wondered if they stayed open as long as they had customers. Apparently they did because we were there until 11:30.
I had a Chicken Caesar Salad...I thought about calling up Guinness and asking them if they knew what the record was for consuming the most Caesar Salads during a vacation at WDW. I think at this point I probably had already eaten six salads.
Oh yeahyou take your tickets and pay for your meal on the way out. Im not sure if this meal was cheaper than any meal we would have had in a sit down restaurant. Did I mention the 10% gratuity they tack on your bill? For what? Because someone came around and took our trays?
Yawnboy we were tired but we wanted to get up early because tomorrow we were determined get into MGM before the crowds because we were gonna do the dynamic duo of the Rock n Roller Coaster and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
Saturday, August 7, 1999 - Who Da Man?
We all woke up early and we were out the door early to head for MGM. I noticed that I had a little discomfort in the ol tummy and the head but I figured it was due to a late dinner and fatigueId never be a doctor.
The news had mentioned that last night a 28-year-old woman had died while at Pleasure Island. There was no explanation as to the cause of death. Mike and I guessed alcohol poisoning.
We walked into MGM...made Fantasmic Dinner Package arrangements at the greeting board for 6:20 that evening and went down Sunset Blvd until we got to the rope. It was about 8:30 A.M. so we had a half-hour waitharrrr, just enough time for me to catch the eye of a Cast Member and reel him in for some questions.
Morning sir. How are you today.
Im fine thanks. Could I ask you how many drops youre featuring at the Hollywood Hotel?
He was dressed as a bellhop.
The current profile calls for five drops, said Rafael, my new CM buddy.
I told Mike and Holly...their reactions were totally different...Mike said Awesome! and Holly said, Omigod!
I asked Rafael as to how the crowds have been this summer. He noted that at MGM Studios the crowds seem to be less than hes noticed in the past few summers.
He rationalized that the resorts relatively recent additionsDisneys West Side...Disney QuestDisneys Animal KingdomDisneys Wide World of Sportsplus the addition of the Atlantis section of Sea World plus the Universal Studios Isles of Adventure has helped to thin out the crowds.
I then asked him if this summer has produced the usual number of tourists from Brazil. A smile came to his face and he said its been quite light this year but he couldnt put his finger on exactly why.
We then talked about the FASTPASS and I told him how pleasantly surprised we were as to how well it worked. He said that there are current discussions regarding the FASTPASS for TZTOT and if they can work out the details that we may eventually see it at the Hollywood Tower.
About five minutes before 9 A.M. one of the Cast Members got on top of some pedestal to address the crowd. He told the crowd that after the opening announcement over the P.A. system is complete that they and the CMs will WALK down Sunset Blvd. No running will be allowed. Those who run will NOT get there first he promised.
I think that some trampling had occurred sometime in the past and that they didnt want any small children getting hurt.
The announcement came and we walked down Sunset Blvd. towards the dynamic duo. The majority of the crowd...like 75% decided to go to TZTOT. We headed for the RNRC.
Now Im not a roller coaster kind of guy but this attraction intrigued me a bit so what the heckI went in with Holly and Mike while Carol remained on steady ground.
RNRC has a FASTPASS but there was no need for it on this day at this time. When you enter the attraction you are immediately introduced to the theming involving recording sessions and all that jazz. Its almost like you are touring a recording studio. There are plenty of warningstelling us if we have back problemsor motion problemsif we are afraid of the darkbeing confinedpregnantall that stuffthat we shouldnt be in line for this attraction. Nothing was said on any of those signs about my stomach still feeling yucky since I woke upnor did I see the word headache on these warning signs.
The line was movingwe were soon in a room where on one side was Arrowsmith doing their thing at a recording studio. Soon their manager comes in and says its time to go. Of course they dont want to leave their fans behind so they talk their manager into getting some large and fast limos to follow them.
We then enter what I call the OMGNW area.
This is the loading area where the limo-coasters begin their journey. What we saw when we first arrived in this loading area was obviously a test of courage. The limos would come in and the guests would get in, pull down their harnesses, get into positionand amidst screeching tires DISAPPEAR. Yepdont blink.
Everyone looks at that LED overhead54321...0...and unless you are a bald eagle with the fleetest of irises you will not see the limo start...erhtake offerh LAUNCH.
At this point I realized this was the OMGNW area because I heard many people say Oh My God No Way! and decided NOT to do the ride. Im thinking, Its only 105 secondsbut its a roller coasterI dont like roller coasters. I decided to damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead...youll find out one of my reasons for doing the attraction.
Okay, here comes our limo. Holly sat next to me and Mike sat behind us. Okay, harness fitsa little tough to hold onto the handlesthe limo is made for people around 5 9...tall people will find it a little
uncomfortable but EVERYONE will love the soft thick cushion in the seat.
Our limo got into place5and I said to Holly are you ready? 4She took a gulp. I looked just above3our heads and saw the number countdown2 We appeared to be tilted up a bit and I felt the vehicle sort of back up a bitI felt like a rock in Davids slingshot with designs on Goliaths forehead...1and thenOH MY GODDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We were launchedI mean LAUNCHEDI immediately learned why the vehicle had a thick cushioned as we were shoved back into the rear of the carand immediately we were in the dark...now Im pretty sure we immediately did a loop or two and we were upside down some of the time but I have no idea as to when my head was where it started or if my feet were skywalking. We flew through signs that read something like Madison Square Garden or Hartford Civic Center or anywhere else where Arrowsmith would perform. Hmm I can read the signs so we must be right side up...then again ...are the signs right side up or upside down like us?
This is the most amazing attraction on the Disney property. It lasts only 105 secondsI wont tell you about the entire 105 secondsdont want to spoil it for you excitement thrill seekers. You may not remember most of the ridebut I guarantee that you will remember the launchand if you listen real hardas you take off youll hear people calling for their Creator. Oh yeahfor the recordlength is 3000 feettotal ride time105 secondslaunch speed0-60 mph in 2.8 secondsacceleration g-force1.4vertical g-force generated5.0 (the space shuttle launch is less than 4)audioon boardinversions...nope Im not saying...I guess youll have to count em yourself. Oh yes your picture is taken upon launch. We did not purchase oursinstead we took a close up with the video camera.
As in all Disney attractions recently designed, this one finishes up into a souvenir area where you can purchase your photograph or buy any of a zillion Rock n Roller Coaster souvenirs or Aerosmith merchandise. I wonder if Aerosmith was Disneys first choice on this attraction.
We went outside and behold I had dj vu from some five years earlier when leaving the TZTOT after riding it for the first time on opening day.
There were many people milling around in the plaza deciding whether or not to attempt the attraction. They would look at the building then turn back and look overhead at the track with the upside down limo. I
could hear them thinking out loud and wondering if it would be a could idea to take the kids on it. You could see the young fathers itching to try it but their young wives not too sure if the four-year-old would survive.
Holly and Mike went back for a second ride but I sat this one out and stood outside with Carol. I tried to explain to her how the attraction was setup inside but it got next to impossible to describe the launch in a way that not only made sense but also got across the feeling that I experienced.
One thing for sureIm glad I wore contacts because Im not sure if any pair of glasses would survive. Remember that the RNRC is a FASTPASS attractionmake use of that.
Holly and Mike came out and Mike and I strolled over to the TZTOT. Holly is not keen on this attraction so she and Carol hung around Sunset Blvd. while Mike and I visited the old Hollywood Hotel.
As we walked through the garden I noticed that spritzers were installed to cool off the guestsgood touch. It was in this attraction that I had a second spotting of a Brazilian tour group. There were about 20 of them but were relatively well behaved.
As we weaved our way to the elevators I kept wondering how I would handle five dropstwo were pretty wild but FIVE?????
When we got to the elevator I noticed another change. It looked as though the rear middle seat was goneno seat belt anymore in the last rowguess if theres no lap bar then theres no seat. Im surprised that they hadnt eliminated this seat a lot earlier.
This young British family was waiting next to us and I sensed this was all new to them. I asked them if this was their first trip to MGM and they said yes. They had two children with themboth about 10 years oldcertainly no older.
They asked me how long ago this attraction had opened. I told them 1994 and they both looked puzzled.
The father said, The boy in the bellhop uniform told me this hotel opened in 1917.
The mother then said when they asked him to tell them about the ride he returned, Ride?!?!? What ride is that Maam?
I thought it best to prepare them for what was to come so without providing spoilers I briefly told them what to expect but I assured them that they would be okay.
We got into the elevator and did the usual stops and yes we went
Now if youve ever dropped 130 feet in 2 seconds you pretty much know what youre body is probably thinking. Its probably saying, Erhhh...do you know what you are doing to me? Will you please STO
But before your body can finish telling you to stop its over.
Not this time.
Not only is your body screaming at you to stopyou arent paying attention because by the third drop youve lost your ability to thinkall you can do is close your eyes, scream, and pray that you can maintain control over all bodily functions.
If youre my son then all you do is laugh during the whole time.
I did notice that regardless of whether its one, two, or five drops you still feel the same as you leave the elevator. One question that still lingers in my mind is whether or not first timers get a bigger thrill out of the five-drop profile than the repeat riders who have experienced the single and double drop profiles.
While Mike, Holly, and I were on the RNRC Carol had made priority seating at Hollywood and Vine. We had decided that we would have a late lunch. After TZTOT Mike and I decided we would seek out some Streetmosphere while Carol and Holly shopped.
While sitting on a bench along Hollywood Blvd. We were approached by a middle aged CM who was taking a survey. This was no Streetmosphere person. She asked us if this was our last day at WDW. I guess we gave her the wrong answer because she lowered her notebook and just asked general questions about our stay and politely moved on.
Carol and Holly returned from shopping and we went over to H&V. We were a bit early but they had plenty of tables. As we walked in we saw Goofy dressed up in a Zoot suit (ask your grandparents) and he was jitterbugging with Minnie while Chip and Dale looked onboy can that Goofy cut a rug.
While we were eating we noticed a CM we had met at Prime Time nine years ago. Her name was Annie and she was originally from Dover, New Hampshire. We waved to her and she came over and we talked about the first time we had met. She was now married and had three children and her family was looking forward to moving back to New England. It was pretty neat to visit with CMs who remember you.
Our waiter, Tom, was very friendly. He asked us where we were from and when we told him NH he got all excited. In two weeks he was talking his family to New Hampshire for a big time vacation and it was actually a family reunion.
He said, yeah were gonna stay near some Japanese Lake.
Yeah thats it!
Well Tom sat down and talked with us for about 15 minutesforget the other tables. We gave him all kinds of information for his trip and he was forever grateful.
Of course during our breakfast we got visits from Goofy, Pluto, Chip, Dale, and Minnie.
We told Chip where we were from and asked him if hed like to come home with us. We told him we had plenty of trees.
He asked for something to write on and we gave him the back of my notebook. He grabbed a crayon and wrote
We nodded and he then wrote down Yum!
I have to give that Cast Member credithe/she stayed in character the whole time.
An interesting thing happened while we were there. I noticed that after I had made my initial trip up at the breakfast buffet that the restaurant was changing over to the luncheon buffet. So in effect we had brunch.
Unfortunately I was so involved in my discussions with the Cast Members in there that I forgot to use my MKC discount...oh well...theres six dollars I did not save.
After our brunch we decided we had put off doing laundry long enough so we went back to the CS to do the laundry and give the pool a shot. Meanwhile I was noticing the queasiness in my stomach was growing ever so strongly.
When we got back to the room I took something to ease my stomach and also help reduce the wicked headache I had. Man I was pretty sickwasnt sure if Id even want to leave the room. I flopped on the bed...and woke up about four hours later to find out that Carol, Mike, and Holly had not only done a few loads of laundry but also had spent time at the pool. I felt somewhat better but there was this lingering blahh that just didnt want to go away. I pulled myself togetherdidnt want to miss Fantasmicand we left to return to MGM.
We stopped in the First Aid office to get Holly a Band-Aid. She had a blister on her foot and needed a Band-Aid. While in the First Aid office we overhead the nurse call for an ambulance to take a 72-year-old woman to the hospital. Apparently the woman had broken her wrist. No details were given on how this accident happened.
We started making our way to Mama Melroses. We were still a bit early so we stopped off at Pizza Planet to play. We played a few games and I noticed that there were four WDW Forever CD Kiosk stations in the Pizza Planet arcade...looks like they were out for repair.
We went to Mama Melrose and had a pretty good meal. The deal with the Fantasmic package requires that everyone in the party order an entreno problem here.
Remember that kid Ralphie in that 50s genre movie a Christmas Story? Well I think he was sitting next to me in Mama Melrose...in the next table. I wouldnt have noticed him if he hadnt spilled his drink and almost splatter meTWICE!!!! Watch it kidyoull shoot yer eye out!!! Im telling yahe was Ralphie...blonde hairglasses.
After our dinner we walked down to Sunset Blvd. Dinner had actually settled my stomach a bit and my headache was somewhat subdued. We did not have dessert at MMs because Holly and Carol wanted to check out the desserts at Wicked Delights (I think that was the name) down at Sunset Blvd. As we made our way towards that shop the rain was making it a bit of a challenge to keep dry. I was hoping that this bit of unsettled weather would quickly pass, as I feared that it would threaten the 9:15 Fantasmic show.
When you do the Fantasmic dinner Package you receive from your restaurant server some orange Fantasmic Dinner Package vouchers. You are to take these vouchers down to the front of MGM near Oscars Filling Station. When we got there we handed our vouchers to a CM and she led us in through a side gate and we walked up to the stadium. She told me that the stadium holds about nine thousand guests and they do whatever they can to run every show unless the weather really makes it dangerous for the performers to put on the show.
The walk up to the stadium was pretty long but it wasnt crowded. There were some other guests who also had booked the package and we all trekked our way up to the stadium. When we got to the stadium entrance we were amazed at how many people were already there. The time was about 8:45 and the stadium had to be about 75% packed. We showed our orange vouchers to a CM and she directed us to the right.
The Fantasmic package seating is to the right of the Fantasmic stage.
TIP #12 - Finding Good Seats for Fantasmic
We were lucky in that we knew about the Fantasmic dinner package; otherwise I dont think we would have had good viewing seats. If you do not get the package and still want good seats you should try to get to the stadium about an hour before the show and sit either to the right or the left of the stage. If you sit in the middle you will not be able to see one of the water screens that play a large part in the show. I should say that if you sit in the middle you will see the right portion of the left screen and the left portion of the right screen. If you can...sit on the right.
Since it had been raining and was still sprinkling everything was wet. Since it was a humid and rainy August night we figured we were wet and couldnt do anything about it.
Shall I get us some ponchos? I asked Carol.
She didnt think it was necessary since we were wet already and we all agreed that those things could make you hot too. Five minutes later the slight sprinkles picked up a bit. The stage manager told us that they were watching the weather very carefully, and that they will do everything possible to put the show on tonight. The rain was picking up some more so Mike and I went to get ponchos. We walked up the stairs, made our way to a very popular CM selling ponchos and just as I was about to pull out my wallet the rain stopped. I waited for five minutes...no rain...ahhhh who needs ponchos. We returned to our seats.
About fifteen minutes prior to showtime, a CM who is probably a Streetmosphere person entertains the audience. I recognized the voice. She went on for about 14 minutes until showtime and then the lights dimmedincluding the Swan and Dolphin lights to the rear left of the stage.
The stage is a body of water with a huge mountain in the middle of the water. The stadium is a half moon surrounding the stage.
Its a bit difficult to describe Fantasmic. The show is based on good and evil and focuses on the Disney villains who want to take Mickeys imagination away from him. During the course of the show the audience is treated to a collage of images from famous Disney classic films to live performances from about a hundred or so performers. There are fireworks and lasers and great music throughout the whole show.
There is a haunting melody at times and you will find yourself humming it after the show.
The highlight of the show involves Mickey confronting a famous Disney villain. I have purposely left out some details because not only do I not want to spoil the show for anyone who will be seeing it but also because there are some parts of the show in which words do not do it justicejust make sure you have a camera (video or still) to capture what you see.
The 20 minutes or so that this show ran turned out to be one of the highlights of this trip. I think every trip to WDW has its own personality and this trip so far had two shining stars to itthe TMK closing and Fantasmic.
This day was quite long and so after Fantasmic we made our way down the ramp near TZTOT and strolled along Sunset Blvd. We stopped in a few shops and I started to go downhill. The headache and the nausea started to buildnot enough to stop me in my tracks but enough to slow me down.
We got the tram bound for the parking lot. In the seat in front of us was a young mother, I would say in her early twenties, who had a very small child with her. The child was no more than two years old. The mother had to handle the child, several bags, and a very cumbersome stroller. There was no father to be seen. I felt sad for this young woman. Where was her husband? Luckily someone helped her take her stroller off the tram so she could safely help her small daughter off the tram. To this day I wonder why she was there by herself.
I barely had enough energy to drive back to CS. Luckily MGM is the closest park to CS.
I did not have a good night. My head and my stomach were dancing all nightand I did not want to tango.
August 8, 1999 - The Not Ready for Test Track Trip to EPCOT Day
I slept very little and woke up feeling only slightly better than the night before buthey Im in WDW with my familynothingnot even the suspected food poisoning I may have gotten from some bad salad dressing at Pepper Market (hint hint) would stop me.
We took off for EPCOT. When we got to Test Track the wait was about 90 minutes. I was not feeling too well and thought it best for Holly and Mike to go on without me. They didnt want to but I encouraged them to get in line, and, when the opportunity came, to go into the singles line.
Carol and I sat underneath a tree and waited for Holly and Mike. We had not eaten breakfast and I felt that if I had a little something I might feel better. I went over to the Fountain View Expresso and Bakery and picked up two fat free blueberry muffins and two boxes of apple juice. Boy it took me a long time to eat that muffin. I had very little energy.
While we were waiting for the kids to return we saw a mother with a tether cord attached to her waist and the other end of the cord attached to her daughters waist. I guess the eight feet of cord was the allowable distance for the child to wander from her mother.
While trying to somehow will this yuck feeling from myself, a bird from high above displayed great aim and crowned me (actually my shirt) as a newly designated bird restroom. When I was young I always favored the color green...not today. I went to a nearby restroom to try and remove the gift from above. As I was washing it out of my shirt I was wondering, Okayso wheres the good luck thats now supposed to come my way?
I continued to experience waves of nausea and decided to stand over near one of the spritzing stations. That helped a little bit. I went over to the spritzer to try and get some of that spray onto my face. Goofy pulled up and went to the fountain area and started taking pictures with all the gueststhe only problem is that if you wanted to take a picture with Goofy over there you had to be willing to get wet. Goofy had his bathing suit on and the water would come up from the ground like a geyser and soak the guests. It was fun to see young children more than willing to get wet and have their picture taken with Goofy but the teens and the adults werent so brave.
Soon Holly and Mike returned from Test Track.They had been gone an hour and werent really that impressed with the attraction. I figured Id have a chance to check it out sometime over the second week.
Holly and Mike were hungry so we went over to the Electric Umbrella. Carol and I did not eat anything.
We headed towards World Showcase. I was determined not to let this nausea keep us from enjoying ourselves but it was a struggle. Several times I had to sit down and rest a bitand usually its me leading the pack.
Carol and Holly said they would meet Mike and I at American Adventure. Mike wanted to do some shopping at China. Boy was he in for a surprise. When we got to China we found out that the Chinese shop was closed for refurbishing. That is Mikes favorite EPCOT shop. So not only was the Centorium closed but also this China shopokay, my reputation is at stake hereahem. I mean the Yong Feng Shangdian Department Store was closed for refurbishing. I began to curse the Millennium. Did I mention that the mens room in the China pavilion did not have running water? Jeesh, what would Walt think of this?
Mike and I met Carol and Holly at the American Adventure. They had just watched a special character show Disneys International Songbook at the American Gardens Theater.
Mike wanted to do a little shopping and Carol, Holly, and I went into AA. It wasnt too crowded and I was holding my own. The A/C helped my cause. We sat down close to the stagethird row I guess. I wanted to see this show close up.
Ive always liked the American Adventure and always found a lump in my throat at the very end of the Golden Dream song, especially when the curtains are pulled back and the whole auditorium is filled with music.
But those times in the past paled in comparison when towards the end we were reminded of a little boy who saluted his fathers casket some 36 years ago. It was very difficult to watch that segment of the film. This little boy had been reunited with his father about a week or so before we had left for Florida. There was not a dry eye in the house.
I tried to tape Golden Dream but couldnt maneuver my camera to the right angleno videotaping in there and I wanted to be discreet. I have the audio but the video is more like that of a black cat at midnight during a power failure.
As we were leaving the theater I did the best job I could to pull myself togetherstill thinking of that little boy.
We met Mike outside and we headed back counter clockwise. I was thinking of a tasty treat at the Outpost. Next to the famous Dole Whip nothing beats the heat and a dry throat than a strawberry slush from the Outpost between China and Germany. We all enjoyed cooling off.
We wanted to rest a bit before we headed down to Disney West Side and Cirque Du Soleil so we headed back to the room to freshen up.
I was kind of excited about Cirque Du Soleil. I had heard a lot about it but was told that it was very hard to describe and that I wouldnt understand this until I actually got to see a performance.
From the outside The Cirque Du Soleil Theater looks like a very unusual circus tent. We had tickets for the 5:30 show and we were there just in time for the doors to open. I was pleasantly surprised to find that our seats were pretty goodabout halfway up the center area.
Okay heres my attempt at describing Cirque Du Soleil.
The stage is part of the show. The audience sits in a half moon theater. For the most part the audience is looking down at the stage areabut there is a promenade section that is almost level with the stage.
Before the show begins we are entertained by some clownssilent clowns that make us laugh with their antics as they carry several packages around the theater along with some funny interaction with the audience. Their work reminded me of the mime at Sea World.
Just prior to the show there is a troupe of performers who make their way around the main aisle of the theater. I didnt realize it then but these performers represented some very key performers and the type of entertainment we were about to see.
Thats the easy partnow comes the hard part.
The show La Nouba seems to be based on a dreamat least thats what I think. As far as the performers there are
high wire and trapeze artists
bicylists who do amazing things
tiny oriental girls who astounded us with their stick/rope/thimble things
acrobatsclownsdancerssingersmountainsmoving paintingslarge roly poly wheelsa chameleon stagethe list goes on.
From the beginning to the end of the show you are entertained with so many different acts simultaneously that you are bound to miss something. There are times when I was amazed at the number of things going on and the choreography of the action.
There is one part of the show where this one male performer, along with about a half dozen female performers, entertain us by doing these stunts on sheets that hang from the ceiling.
It was during the high wire act that things were somewhat calmor should I say tense. The performer on the high wire tried to do a front flip and slippedcaught his leg on the wire and got upsteadied himselfand then stood there for about 45 seconds before attempting the flip againand successfully completing it. This was about ten minutes into the show and it wasnt until that time that I realized there was a live band playing the music and this band was strewn throughout the towers on the stage ends. There were also several singers who were constantly showing up at different points of the stage.
Lets get back to the high wire act. Imagine a high wire performerabout 50-60 feet in the air. He has a balance pole and he goes from one end of the wire to the other endabout 100 feet. Pretty difficultespecially in a darkened theater. Now lets add his female partner who gets on her partners shoulders and does a handstand ON HIS HEADno waitshes balancing herself ON ONE HAND AS HE GOES BACK TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIRE. Amazing.
The stageit had a personality of its ownparts of it spunparts of it liftedparts of it sunkand at times I thought the performers who shot in and out of various portions of this animal were going to slip and end up beheaded or bisected.
Flash photography is not allowedyoull understand why after seeing the show.
The very end of the show is truly unbelievable. With all the stuff going on youll be mostly mesmerized by the building that magically appears onstage and the performers who are using trampolines and the sides of the building to do all sorts of amazing stunts.
There is one particular performer that you should keep your eye on. I dont know what to call him but he is
one of the standout male performers and when you first see him he walks around the main aisle in a very determined manner. He looks somewhat muscular with a shaved headlooks pretty hideouslike he stepped out of a futuristic sci-fi post WWIII epic. He wears nothing but some shorts and I think he has shoes or sneakerssort of a Kramer-like (as in Seinfeld) character.
Anyway, this guy shows up from time to time but he really does his thing at the end of the show with the trampoline and the building. That appears from nowhere.
At the end of the show the applause is deafening. You find yourself wishing you could go down to the performers and tell them how amazing the show was and how thrilling it was to see all the things you see.
A lot of performers received bigtime pops from the audience. I think the three biggest pops were for the high wire performers, the oriental girls, and the guy with the shaved head.
Quite a show. You can add me to the list of people who have said that prior to the show I thought the ticket price was a bit high but afterwards felt that I got a bargain.
I had to powder my nose real bad and immediately looked for a mens rooma lot of people were in the same category...once the show began noone left their seat.
Holly wanted to see Boardwalk and so we headed there and for dinner. I was still not 100% but better than I had been earlier in the day.
When we got to Boardwalk we showed Holly that miniature carrousel in the lobby and walked around a bit before deciding on which restaurant to dine that evening.
It came down to between Flying Fish and SpoodlesHolly and Mike decided on Spoodles.
We were seated immediately and I ordered a mango smoothy, which was pretty good.
Our server Mike took our order. We struck up a conversation with him and found out that he had made the rounds of the restaurants and that he had worked at Prime Time and Whispering Canyon Caf.
He told us that the CMs liked working at the Whispering Canyon Caf because of the interaction with the kids. We mentioned the waterguns over there and he said, Well we cant do that anymore.
It seems that a year or two ago the CMs over there would go from squirt guns to Uzis to super soakers and one guest got a bit upsetMike said that he may have been a little drunk and went after one of the super soakers and fell down hurting himself.
Spoodles was offering some tuna special and I was torn between that and the salmon. I asked our server what he thought I would like bettertelling him I was pretty hungry. He suggested the tuna. We all had Caesar Salads too.
While we were eating our salads a young couple with a small boy, about three years old, were seated next to us. From the time they sat down the little boy was screaming and actually started to CLIMB OUT OF THE BOOTH AND UP THE WALL. Well, they didnt even get to order their mealthey dragged that kid out of the restaurant.
It took FOREVER for our meal to get to us. When my tuna came I was pretty upset. First it took a very long time for our meals to get to uslike 45 minutesthen I get a large platter with this tuna thing in the middleIve seen more tuna from an 89 cent can in the grocery storeand it was raw. Im surprised it didnt swim out of the dishhey I didnt order sushiI specifically told the server to cook it thoroughly.
I think only twice in my lifetime I have ever sent a meal backthis was number three. I called my server over and told him this was unacceptable. He took it back to have them cook it more.
I immediately whipped out my notebook and Carol said, What are you doing?
Just jotting down some notes I said.
Heres what I jotted down:
SpoodlesMike picked it but I will NEVER go back. I wasnt impressed in 97 and that goes double for 99. The food is overpriced and takes too long to get to your table. The amount of food you get is insulting.
Now I know I really cant blame the server but gee when a 200+ pound guy says hes hungry you dont suggest a morselyou suggest a meal.
While I was writing this little tirade a girl came over with my meal. It was not the same foodit was tuna but it wasnt the piece that was originally placed in front of me. Carol said that the girl who brought the plate over seemed a bit intimidated as she approached the table. Maybe she saw me writing and thought I was a Shopper (Disney undercover shopper). Good.
For those of you reading this report for advice let me ADVISE you to AVOID Spoodles. Restaurants are allowed one bad outing but not twoI will NEVER EVER grace their doors again.
I thought about not including this information but just to EMPHASIZE why I feel so strongly about Spoodles is that the meal came to $119.00 before the tip. That tuna entre was $22.00.
You may never see me at Boardwalk againexcept maybe to look at a few shopsbut certainly not to eat.
Maybe Im selling Flying Fish short, as I have never eaten there.
After the meal we walked around Boardwalk and especially down to the Atlantic Dance Clubwhich appears to have put in place an entrance or cover chargesee ya.
We headed back to the carquite a dayit was no doubt the most challenging WDW day of my lifeby that I mean I really had to call upon every bit of strength to get byfor most of the day I was pretty much well under the weather but the drive to spend a day with my family in WDW was strong enough to suppress the nausea for the day.
Monday, August 9th - Resorts and Disney Quest
This was to be our last full day in WDW with the kids. When I woke up I felt much better than the day before. We made priority seating for breakfast at 1900 Park Faire and a late lunch priority seating (3:30 P.M.) at Tonys in TMK.
When we got to 1900 Park Faire we noticed the Mad Hatter was watching television with several children just outside the restaurant. I had never seen the Mad Hatter close up and was very impressed with the CMs rendition of this character.
This character breakfast offered visits from the aforementioned Hatter as well as Mary Poppins, Princess Aurora, Snow White, and the main reason I wanted to do this breakfastDopey. You see Dopey is Hollys favorite Disney character and this would offer many photo opportunities.
The breakfast went well as we were there when it wasnt very crowded and we received many visits from the characters. Mary Poppins kidded Mike about his beard and Mike, always one for playing along, thanked her for her comments.
After breakfast we drove to Disney West Side and got into line at Disney Quest. Tip time.
99 Tip #12 - Treat Disney Quest like a Theme Park
Disney Quest is best enjoyed during the first two hours from the opening. During these two hours you can do everything you want at Disney Quest with virtually no waiting. Thats correctno waiting. As the day goes on the crowd builds and builds. I would say that after the Noon hour the crowds become so large that you begin to see queues build up to the point that you begin to think about leaving...get there early.
When you go to Disney Quest keep in mind that there are several areas that become quite crowded during the day. The most popular area is CyberSpace Mountain so you may want to visit this attraction on the second floor before anything else, then Buzz Lightyears AstroBlaster on the third floor. These two attractions seemed to have the largest crowds.
I used my AP discounts at Disney Questthat saved some money.
Disney Quest, which Disney calls The Ultimate Interactive Adventure should not be underestimated by any first time guests. One Cast Member told me that surveys have shown that the average time a guest spends at Disney Quest is about 4 hours.
The Disney Quest Building is right across from the Cirque Du Soleil Building. You pay an admission and everything inside is freeexcept any games involving prizessome of the creative stuff on the second floor, food, and souvenirs.
The building is divided into five floors and rather than take you chronologically as we did Disney Quest I will briefly describe each floor and what we did on each floor.
First and foremost after you go through the turnstile you will find yourself riding another interesting WDW elevatorI wont spoil it for you.
The first floor has four basic areas. The first and foremost area is the Virtual Jungle Cruise. In this area you step into an inflatable raft that is sitting on the floor. You are enclosed on three sides and are handed an oar and told to make sure you use it. Dont forget the place your feet in the straps at the bottom of the boat?
I wonder whyyyyyyyyyYYYYYYYYEEYYAHHHH!!!!
Suddenly the floor comes alive and the boat is lifted highin front of us the screen lights up and we are heading down a rivera ROUGH RIVERpaddle leftpaddle rightWATERFALL WATERFAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! I almost fall out of the boatwe find ourselves in the midstand at times in the mist...of a prehistoric rainforest. At times we had to use our paddles to avoid all kinds of troublethe raft was on some series of hydraulics and there were sprayers or water misters that did their best to make us feel like we were really in the water.
The second area on the first floor is called Treasure of the Incas. It makes up at least one third of the floor because you walk on part of it. Think of yourself walking over a series of tunnels and mazes. As you look down through the strong Plexiglas you see small jeeps with headlights and a curious camera lens mounted on the front of each vehicle. Each jeep has a number emblazoned on top.
Along the walls are about a dozen or so stations that contain a monitor. Below the monitor is a steering wheel, a shift stick, and an accelerator pedal (I dont recall if there was a brake pedal). Each monitor has a number that corresponds to the same numbered jeep. The camera mounted on the jeep transmits to the monitor what the jeep sees. Therefore as you drive the jeep you see what the jeep sees in the maze.
The objective is to maneuver the jeep through the maze and look for special areas where there are symbols or medallions. These places are little alcoves which you find through the help of a partner on the floor who yells, Leftrightbackforwardgo back!!!! when you find an alcove and flash your headlights on it and bump ita light come on your panel below your monitor. As you find each symbol more lights are added. There is a time limit on the game and at the end of the game you receive a number of tickets based on the number of symbols you found. Mike and I worked this little puzzle to the point that we got about 80% of the symbols. We had more success with Mike on the floor and me on the wheel than vice versa.
The third part of this floor has a virtual reality game with Hercules in the Underworld. Carol and Holly did this little adventure and Carol tells me that they were in this little pod and had to collect thunderbolts in the underworld en route to doing battle with Hades. Thats all I got out of it but they seemed to really enjoy it.
The last part of this floor is the Emporium. It is here that you purchase souvenirs. I purchased a shirt and a special Disney Quest mug that you put in your freezer to use when you want to keep liquids cold.
The second floor has been designed to let guests be creative. I did not pay too much attention to this area but I do recall seeing children at such areas as Animation Academy, Sids Create-A-Toy, Magic Mirror, Living Easels, and Sticker Shots. Anyone who is creative and has any artistic talent should definitely have a look see in this area.
This floor also has Aladdins Magic Carpet Ride which is a virtual reality attraction that lets you ride Aladdins Magic Carpet through Agrabah in search of gems and to do battle. I recall the prototype for this
Attraction back in 1994 at the Imagineering Labs in EPCOT. I wasnt too impressed with it.
The most popular area in this floor, if not in all of Disney Quest, is Cyper Space Mountain. Guests can design their own roller coaster ride and then actually ride it. Mike and Holly designed a level five ride and then got to experience it. We were allowed to watch them enjoy their creation. After creating the ride via a touch screen, they saved the file, they are then brought to a coaster pod; there are eight of them. Each pod is about the size of a large red bottle cap thats resting on its edge and seats two guests. The cap would be about 15 feet in diameter and six feet deep. Guests enter the pod, secure their harness, and take off on their ride. The pod simulates the designed roller coaster ride through a series of hydraulics and other features. We saw some pods spin and turn and could only imagine what type of ride some of these guests designed. We were able to not only watch Holly and Mike react to their ride but also watch their monitor and see what they were seeingquite a ride.
I asked the Cast Member if Holly and Mike could get a second ride and he smiles and said, Surewell make the ride twice as fast too. Sure enough when Holly and Mike went on round two they were a bit hysterical as the dips, inversions, turns, and flips were done at a faster pace.
Floor 3 of Disney Quest has four major areas.
The first area that is the most popular one on this floor is called Buzz Lightyears AstroBlaster. Guests pile into these bubble-like vehicles and work as a team to propel these large plastic balls at the vehicles driven by other guests. It takes about two or three go arounds to get the knack of competing at a decent level. Theres a lot of coordination involved with one partner steering and the other loading and firing. Carol and I did nor fare too well in this little endeavor but we had fun anyway.
On Floor 3 the Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam involves the guests with the opportunity to be part of a pinball game. Each guest stands on a platform that pretty much acts like a joy stick. By maneuvering your weight in any direction you can influence the pinball that corresponds to the number of your joystick. You do this while watching this huge screen that shows you where you are. The objective here is to move your ball into the bumpers that will give you points. Its fun for the whole family.
The Underground Arcade is pretty neat. I have never seen any of these games anywhere else. Some of the more interesting games were:
A hang gliding game where you actually hold on to a hang gliding apparatus and try to hang glide onto a target.
A water ski jet game. This was very difficult as you try to weave your ski jet through some tough tunnels. It was ver difficult.
A railroad game where you and a partner pump one of those handle carts and move down a railroad track to keep ahead of danger coming from behind you. At times there are obstacles on the track and you avoid them by stepping on a pedalthis game is quite a workout and I did not see anyone get over 40% completion.
A fishing game was also in this arcade. You would actually cast your line and fishvirtual reality of course but fun.
There were several video basketball gamesbut if youve seen oneMike and I could play those all day.
There was one game that had a lifelike figure of Uncle Fester from The Adams Family standing on top of it. He had a light bulb in his mouth. The object of this game was to hold onto two terminals and see how much ELECTRICAL VOLTS YOU CAN HANDLE! Mike and I did this and then Holly and I did thisit jolts you a bit but I would say that 85% of everyone who did this went the distancewe did.
There were some pretty neat racing games in this area tooand also some air hockey games.
Regarding the Daytona USA Race Game, I noticed this one girl who was obsessed with this game. She looked about 13 or 14 and was hooked on this game. After each race she would immediately go back into line and try to get the same car. I noticed this behavior for about 15 minutes. At one point she argued with her mother and just kept playing. The real weird thing about this was that I never saw her smileand never saw her lose.
The fourth floor had a Ride the Comix virtual reality area where guests would don these VR helmets and carry a VR sword and fight these VR monsters. Its pretty funny to see these people with these headsets on and waving these little handles around. Mike liked itand still mentions it as being one of the most enjoyable parts of Disney Quest. I never got around to trying it. Im saving that for my next trip.
There is a Sports Arena Arcade up here and that included some real basketball games where you shoot at baskets that move back and forthsoccer games where you try to score on a goalkeeperyou really kick the ball, and some skiing games and others.
Theres an area called Midway on the Moon but there wasnt much there except games in which you would have to pay to playand win prizesthat was pretty empty.
Theres also a caf on this floor and areas to sit in and send e-mail to friendsI sent a few but the way you sent mail was kind of awkwardyou couldnt do too much.
The fifth floor did not have muchtheres a cafeteria like area called The Pinnacle and a place to get some real fattening dessertsespecially cheesecake.
The most interesting thing on the fifth floor is called Invasion! An Extraterrestrial Alien Encounter. This area contains 4 pods. In each pod there are four seats for the guests. The pilot uses one seat and the gunners use the other three. The object here is to maneuver the craft over this alien planet and pick up crewmembers while at the same time blasting aliens and enemy ships. Mike was the pilot and I was the Gunner and we scored pretty high. Its a fun activity as you feel like you are actually in this special craft and are really doing this stuff. What makes the experience so realistic is that while in the pod your screens surround you and you actually sense that you are on an alien landscape.
Well before we knew it we had spent from 10:45 to 5:30 in Disney Quest. I guess the 3:30 priority seating at Tonys wasnt as important as the fun we were having at DQ.
Okay so where do we go? We asked the kids since this was nearing the end of their week. They suggested the Whispering Canyon Caf. I think it was more of a Lets visit the Wilderness Lodge than Lets visit the Whispering Canyon Caf.
During the meal I had to powder my nose. Remember the Ally McBeal scene at the AA restroom in EPCOT? Well, as I finished my business and prepared to exit the stall I opened the door and as I opened the door I stared at a couple ofcheeks. A small boy was standing at the urinal across from my stall and was doing his businessI guess he felt it best to drop everything in order to do what he had to do. First Ally McBeal now Drop Your Drawers DanI think it took Carol, Holly, and Mike about 10 minutes to stop laughing after I had told them about this little incident. I knowwhats this doing on a Disney trip report? Did you forget whos writing this novel?
The meal was very fillingone thing for sureafter a meal at Whispering Canyon your arteries will have less flow after your meal than before your meal. We took a stroll through the hotel, checked out the gift shopHolly saw a nightshirt she liked and I asked her if she wanted it. She didnt want me to buy it for herso I made a mental note to get it for her birthday. We walked around the pool and down by the geyserwaitingwaitingwaitingwaiting for the geyser to spout. It never did. But we did see about 45 million birds fly out to what was once known as Treasure Island and later as Discovery Island. Yeah and youve all heard the rumors about this piece of property being turned into a 3D version of Myst.
My guess is that this island will be turned into an exclusive and expensive resort.
It seemed so peaceful while staring at that part of Seven Seas Lagoon. Even though it was only around 8 P.M. we all started to yawn. Keep in mind that Disney Quest is a true interactive adventure with the emphasis on ACTIVE.
Since Holly and Mike were flying home tomorrow we decided it best to head back to CS and do some packing tonight to save time in the morning.
As Mike and Holly packed I laid down on the bed and watched TV. The next thing I knew it was 4:45 A.M. and I had my clothes onI was wide-awake. With the volume low I watched ESPN but decided to changed into my running gear and get a workout. I went outside and it was still somewhat darka bit humid but not as hot and humid as it would be six hours from now. I ran the outer rim of CS. At times I passed some undeveloped areas and wondered if Id see some animals. For those of you into running you may be interested to know that one lap around the outer rim of CS is approximately 1.7 miles (at least according to my pace). On my run I did see some interesting sights. I saw either the largest cricket on Earth or a Grasshopper on steroids. Whatever this thing was it looked like it was eyeing a medium sized birdfor breakfast. There are some waterways around the resort and while running I wondered if I might come across something I wouldnt particularly be happy aboutlike a croc or an alligatordont know which of the two frequent the Orlando areajust kept my eye peeledbut no excitement this morning.
I made it back to the room and everyone was still sleepingtook a shower and then took orders for Breakfast.
I stopped off at the front deskwhy not buy a couple of E-tickets for tonight? Well I was shocked and chagrinned when I was told they were all sold out. Huh? It was only 7:30 A.M. I then found out that E-tickets were sold all week long.
99 Tip #13 - When to Buy Your E-Ticket
If you are to be in WDW on a day for the E-Ticket and dont want to be shut out then try to buy your e-ticket well in advance of that day...the sooner the better as they sell only about 5,000 E-tickets. Dont wait to purchase your E-ticket on the day of the event.
I cashed a Travelers Cheque and made my way to the Pepper Market, got a few muffins, a few bottles of juice, and some fruit and headed back.
I was disappointed about the E-tickets and as I was thinking about them on the way back to the room I had taken a right when I should have taken a left. I realized this and cut back this time through a grassy section.
One of the juice bottles had come through the bag and had fallen onto the grass. Hmmm, if I had gotten the E-ticket and had not been mulling about it I would have been walking the correct path and on concrete and the bottle would have brokenmaybe things happen for a reasonstill Id rather have seen the bottle break and gotten the E-ticket than what really happened.
Carol was also disappointed to hear about the E-ticketswell adjust our plans.
We helped the kids pack and loaded up the carI was not too happy about this dayI knew that this could be the last day that I would be in WDW with my children. You never know but still it hurtonly a parent would understand. Of course Im hoping some day Ill hear, Cmon Grandpa, lets do Splash Mountain again.
We packed the car and headed to the airport. For the first timers who will be using Orlando International Airport again I cannot stress enough how convenient it was to use the Greenway toll road to go back and forth between the airport and the Disney property. I left the property and took 417 to the Greenwayits worth the $2.00 in tolls. It took about 30 minutes to get there and it wasnt white knuckle driving either. The traffic on this road seemed light to me.
Carol and I both wanted to be with the kids until their flight left but they insisted that we just drop them off and they would be fine. This was VERY HARD to do but their insistence was honored.
Hugs and kisses and some last minute instructions on what to do when they got home and they were off.
We left the airport and headed back towards WDW. On the way back I decided to drive the route (route 4?) I often take when I drive to Florida instead of flying. The traffic was unbelievable. It took forever to get anywhere. I figure that after we had dropped the kids off at the airport that we had we driven around for about an hour. We drove to BELZ and checked out the two Disney Character Warehouse stores. I recommend checking out the newer oneits much larger. We always check the Disney Character Warehouse on each trip because there are always a few good bargains waiting just for me.
We left BELZ and ate lunch at one of the Olive Garden Restaurants in Orlando. Lisa V. Ill always think of you when Im in an Olive Garden Restaurant. Our waiter got excited when he noticed I was wearing a UCONN shirt. I guess he was a big basketball fan and we talked basketball. Its amazing how even better the service gets when you connect with your server. We always try to strike up a conversation with our servers and they appreciate the conversationIm sure it makes their job more interesting than to just serve statues.
Well the kids were on our minds. I would look at my watch from time to time and say, Okay they are over Washington, D.C. now or They should be over New England now.
We estimated when the kids would get home and just as we were about the call them the phone rang. It was Holly and Mike. The flight was good, not crowded. Mike had found where I had parked the van in the long-term parking lot and they had no problem getting home. Mike did tell me that the tomatoes in the garden were ripening fast and in a few days they would have about 64 million tomatoes on their hands.
After about 15 minutes of conversation we hung up and said, Okay! They are home, we are here. Lets go to EPCOT.
When we got to EPCOT we decided to take the boat to World Showcase. Only one side of the World Showcase Lagoon was operating boat tripsagain a commentary on the lack of crowds.
As we were walking towards the American Adventure Pavilion we noticed that the Lord of the Dance show was starting in about 20 minutes so we sat down at the America Gardens Theater and watched the show. The show was okay. The most talented performers were the two girls who played the fiddle while dancing up a storm. The rest of the performers were good too. I think that they dance so effortlessly that they look like they really arent doing much. During the performance it started to rain it but we stuck it outthe rain didnt last long.
We made a mental note as to when the Voices of Liberty would be performing in the next several days and we planned to be in EPCOT to see them. We also wanted to catch the Living Statues in France. We were hoping to see them today.
After the Lord of the Dance we walked clockwise around World Showcase. My God Im sick of hearing those Japanese drummersdont they know any other songs?
At the International Gateway area there is a shop that has four WDW forever CD kiosks. I checked the selections and found that they were the same as those at Studio M where I had purchased my CD.
We went back towards Franceit was getting close to statue time. As we crossed the bridge we asked a Cast Member to take a picture of usthere was a rainbow over Germany and Italy and we thought it would be cool to have a picture with a rainbow in the background.
We got to France and asked a Cast Member where we would be able to see the Living Statues. We were told that the Living Statues could be seen just in front of Chefs de France and in front of the souvenir shop area.
We were in luck. We saw a living statue standing on a pedestal in front of Chefs de France. The Cast Member with the statue was carefully draping the gown that the statue was wearing. This statue was a female Cast Member with a chalky complexion dressed in attire that made her look like the Virgin Mary. She stood on a pedestal and did not move. Everyone just stood around and stared at her. Wellnot me. I told Carol to get the camera ready and I went over to the statue and struck a pose or two. Carol took a couple of pictures and in between one of the pictures the statue moved ever so slightly. A few other guests had the courage to go over to the statue and take photos too but there werent that many people who wanted to do that.
I asked the Cast Member standing to the side if this always happened. She said that most of the guests will stare at the statue but only a few will take pictures. It happens all the time.
I noticed a young father trying to convince his young daughter to take a picture with daddy and the statue but the little girl was positively terrified at the thought of getting close to this creature.
The Cast Member who portrayed the statue was amazing. She had to be pretty warm with the outfit she was wearing but to stand perfectly still with her eyes closed was something else. She would move from time to time but it was a graceful movement that must have been rehearsed many times. Even when she moved it was ever so slight a movement that you had to be pretty sharp to catch it.
I think the total time for the statue viewing was about 15 minutes. When the statues time was over we gave her a rousing ovation and she took a bow.
Carol and I decided to try the Biergarten Restaurant for dinner. We had never eaten at the Biergarten Restaurant at the Germany Pavilion and thought it a good place to try. If youve never eaten at the Biergarten Restaurant you should know that its not the type of restaurant you would go to for a quiet or private meal. The guests are seated at a large table. Each table seats eight guests. The tables are such that you end up talking to everyone at the table and sharing your WDW experiences. If you are real outgoing person and make friends fast then this is the place for you. If you are shy then you probably wouldnt like this restaurant.
We sat down at a table with a couple from Mexico, a couple from Pennsylvania, and two college interns.
Of course I immediately struck up a conversation with the two interns. The two interns were Carolyn and Jen. Carolyn was a Communications major at SUNY (State University at New York). I think Jen was also from SUNY too but not sure I heard rightthe band was playing pretty loud during our conversation. Now if you are a WDW college intern and a Communications major where would you most likely work in WDW?
Carolyn was a lifeguard at Typhoon Lagoon and Jen was a custodial worker at Blizzard Beach. They told us that they were paid $5.60 an hour and that the government subsidized $5.00 of that amount. They told us that in attending some of the seminars down there they learned that Disney managers are expected to turn in an unbelievable rate of profitwell over 50%. Do you know that the profit margin for sodas you purchase in WDW approach 95%? Yep.
The interns talked about their jobs and such. They said that there was a joke among Cast Members that went like this. If you could speak three or more languages you were multi-lingual. If you could speak two languages you were bilingual. If you spoke only one language you were American.
They complained about a few things here and there. I looked at them and said, yeah but. And Carolyn said, I knowIm spending my summer in WDW and complaining! As interns they got certain perks like free admittance to the parks and a pretty good discount off meals. I think it was around 20-25% but not sure.
They talked about how Disney rents out Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. I guess there are private parties and at times Disney lets people surf in the wave poolat a cost of $10/wave.
Did you know you could rent the pool for $300/hour?
We sat to the left of the band in the restaurant near one of the buffet tables. There are two buffet tables but guess what? The one close to us was not open. We had to go to the other side of the restaurant to get our food. I think this was due to the time of night rather than the crowd factor. Im sure earlier in the day both tables were operating.
We liked the Biergarten. Its a real good place to go if you are seeing EPCOT with a large group of people.
We left the Biergarten well after 8:30 and I suggested to Carol that we try and make it out of World Showcase before Illuminations begins. We walked briskly and got to the area near the Odyssey Restaurant used to be. We cut through and made it to Innoventions Plaza just as the lights went low and Illuminations began.
As we left EPCOT we noticed the workers coming in to probably work on Spaceship Earth and other areas that were to be showcased for the millennium celebration.
It seemed like a long dayand it wasI was up at 4:45 A.M. and I didnt even last to 11 P.M. this night.
Wednesday, August 11 - Visiting the Brick
We were excited about this day. We planned on visiting the brick we had gotten back in 97. I felt bad that Mike and Holly werent able to do this but as long as they had a good time when they were there then I was happy too.
We drove to the Polynesian and searched out our brick. Thanks to Ed Badger I had an idea as to where the brick was located. We walked through the Polynesian main hall and made our way to Luau Cove. As I came across the general area where I knew the brick was I began to look down and seek out this treasure. I think Carol found it before me. It has a pretty good location. Its right near the beach and if you read the brick and look up you can see the castle from way off in the distance. If you look to the left you can see the GF and the Wedding Chapel. To the right and behind you is the Poly. We took a few pictures and video and went back into the Poly and up to the monorail.
We took the monorail to TMK and Carol saw this great ELP shirt at the shop to the left of the turnstiles as you go through the turnstiles. We made a mental note to look for the shirt in the parkthe shirts in this shop were too huge for her.
I picked up some non-English Park guides. I dont remember why but Carol said thatoh I remember. My son who is fascinated with his Italian heritage would enjoy the Italian version of the guide.
I stopped off that the City Hall because I wanted to check to see if there were any discounts, MKC or AP, which I wasnt aware of. I talked with one of the Cast Members behind the counter and he said he had seen some specials listed somewhere but couldnt recall exactly where. We checked his database and some other areas but nothing out of the usual popped out. He did give me a slip that listed the restaurants offering MKC discounts.
99 tip #14 - You Cant Fight City Hall but You Can Sure Ask City Hall
When you first enter TMK go to City Hall and ask for things like a slip that tells of the MKC discounts offered by the Magic Kingdom restaurants. Also ask if there are any AP discounts available in the park.
You can also find out when the characters will be out for photos and what parts of the park will feature what characters. If you are looking to get a photo with a particular character then City Hall is your best source for this information.
We had planned to have lunch at Tonys so I made priority seating there and then we started to explore.
We went into the Disneyana area next to Tonys and found some interesting things. There were several stations with PCs and digital cameras to take photos and send them to friends and relatives. Some of these werent working too well and at one point only one station was working. Since there was a line of people waiting to use these stations Carol and I sent only one or two photos across the Internet. I strongly recommend checking out this area because theres a lot moreread on.
We explored beyond this kiosk. It was early and most guests were heading for Space Mountain, Splash, Winnie the Pooh, and other attractions. It wasnt crowded at all in this areain fact I thought Carol and I were not only the only guests in here, but also the only people in here.
There is one area where on the wall is a very nice rendition of the Walt and Mickey statue that is in front of the castle. A young father and his two small children were looking at this large painting and the father said to his kids, you see that man? Thats Walt Disney.
His son then said, Is Mickey his little boy? I didnt stick around to hear the explanation.
This was to be a moment in which I had wished the kids, especially Holly, was there. We walked around the corner and we found some areas that were obviously designed for photo opportunities with the characters. Were talking some very special characters that you rarely see for photo opsthe seven dwarfs.
There were several areas where you could take photos with the dwarfs. Carol and I had these seven guys all to ourselves. We took a couple of pictures here a couple thereoh lets take a picture with you on the left and you on the rightoh miss Cast Member will you please take a picture of the both of us?
There was absolutely nobody around. It was great because we got to kid with the characters. There were also areas with some famous animated scenes where you could insert yourself into the scene. For instance there was a scene from Steamboat Willie (I took the helm for that), the dance scene in Snow White when Dopey stood on the shoulders of one of the other dwarfs and danced with Snow White, and the famous scene in 101 Dalmatians when all the dogs were watching television. There were others too.
99 TIP #14 Photo Opportunities
You knew there was a tip coming didnt you? Its obvious that this area (formerly where the Walt Disney Story used to be) is a great place to get some pictures. I cannot stress how important it is to hit this place very early in the day. Most guests are aiming for the attractions and will bypass this area. Its worth taking an hour out of your day and visiting this areaespecially if you have small children who love taking pictures with the characters.
I couldnt get over how excited Carol and I was at finding this little treasure. I had known about the video card kiosks but I had no idea about all the scenery and characters that were available for pictures.
We had decided to take our time on this first day without the kids. We strolled through the Main Street USA shops. Since it was very early and people were heading to the attractions these shops were pretty empty of people. This is the time to shopand send your packages back to your roomassuming you are staying on the property.
We started in the Emporium. Hey lets look for that ELP shirt for Carol. Hmmmm, all they had were the huge sizes. No thanks.
It was real enjoyable to go into the shops on Main Street and putter around anywhere without people bumping into you. We found ourselves talking with Cast Members and checking out the merchandise like never before. Its so different than the scene at night when the park is closing.
We were looking for things for the kids. I checked out the Clothiers for a Rugby shirt for Mike. Nothing there.
We crossed the street and checked out Crystal Arts and The Uptown Jewelers. I was interested in looking for a watch and also wanted to check out the wedding bands. I talked with a Cast Member or two about the watches. Carol and I were the only guests in the store. The Cast Member showed me several watches and I couldnt decide on any particular watchnothing struck mewell I shouldnt say that. There was a special watch with Walt on the face but I didnt think the price was reasonable enough for iteven though it was supposedly handpainted.
We checked out the wedding bands. The ones that we liked did not have my size and the ones that we didnt like had plenty in my size. We passed on those too.
Time was flying.
We worked our way down to Tonys. It was almost Noon. We had spent almost three hours in the Main Street area. We sat on Tonys porch and watched the activity in the Town Square. I reported in to Tonys and we waited to be called.
We got a great table.
If you face Tonys we were seated at the corner table to the far left in the glassed in area. I think it was one of the best tables we were given for the entire trip. We had some privacy and could see all kinds of stuff while enjoying a great meal in one of our favorite restaurants.
While we were eating we noticed some activity at the train station. It looked like some filming crew was doing something. There was an entourage and some actorsnone of whom I recognized. Eventually they walked by us and into the back.
Our server was real nice and she was topnotch at also knowing exactly when to come by the table to ask us if we needed anything.
There is a taste of Streetmosphere in the Town Square but its rather subtle. During our meal the Mayor came in and greeted everyone. He looked like your typical turn of the century political animal and did a great job playing his role.
I forget what we had for dinner but I know that it was delicious. One of the waiters came over to show us the dessert tray. I dont remember if we had dessert but I remember one waiter telling us that one of the desserts (tiramisu) had liquor in itdipped in Ammaretto (SP) and its the only place in TMK where liquor is on the menu. Good trivia question.
After our lunch we headed to the train station but not before Carol took a picture of me sitting with Goofyor a statue of Goofyon a bench in front of Tonys. Its a talking statue
We took the train to Mickeys Toontown Fair. One of our objectives today was to find an ELP shirt for Carol so we checked out the large shop in Mickeys Toontown Fair. No shirt there but we did find a couple of postcards that were pretty neat to send out to some family members.
We made out way from Mickeys Toontown Fair and through FantasyLand to the castle forecourt. We wanted to stake out a place for the 3 P.M. parade and so we first purchased a couple of bottles of water and then looked around for a good spot to watch the parade and take pictures and video.
We decided to sit in the castle forefront hub. We staked out a spot on the curb that faces the walkway coming from Liberty Square. This turned out to be a prefect spot because the parade approached us head on and gave us great angles to photograph and video the floats and Cast Members as they made their way towards the castle forefront.
Keep in mind that the day parades do the parade route completely opposite to what the nighttime parade does. I dont think I would have liked to sit at that spot for the ELP. It would have been fine except that I like to see the parade floats come right at me instead of from left to right or right to left.
If we hadnt sat at this particular spot in the parade route then afterwards we may not have seen a certain Cast Member with a name pin that said he was from Berlin, NH. Once I spotted that I immediately introduced myself as a fellow Granite State neighbor and the conversation began. This Cast Member was Dan and he has lived in Florida for 30 years but still had some property in NH. We talked for about 20 minutes and here are some of the tidbits from that conversation:
The favorite trees for the WDW groundskeepers are the Creighton Myrtle (not sure of the spelling) trees. You see them all around the resort. They are popular because they are so easy to maintain. Once a year they are sliced in half. That is the trees are cut off at the point where the main trunk begins to split. The trees then grow back real fast and more vigorously. The trees can then be maintained at a certain height. They are all over the place.
There are some trees in TMK that only Disney has the right to grow in Florida. They are called Tube Trees and come from Brazil. I guess you need a special permit to grow themand against the law if you grow them without a permit. Apparently you can boil the leaves and make a drugso you can bet that guests are watched very closely when near these two trees. I promised Dan not to disclose their location in my trip report.
Speaking of trees, lets talk about the trees that surround the statue of Walt and Mickey in the Castle Hub area. Dan told me that one night while working maintenance, he heard a helicopter and saw one fly over the castle and come down and lift one of the trees up and took it away. When the helicopter did this it was only then that Dan found out that these trees are placed in huge bins. This enables them to be replaced real quickly overnight if they become diseased or if they just need to be replaced. The new tree is also airlifted into place and then plugged in. The trees are pre-wired and once they are put in place they are hooked up and ready to go. So the next time you are in front of the castle remember that those arent necessarily the same trees you saw on your last trip to TMK.
Dan also said that with all the construction in the Orlando area some of the animals that are flushed out are brought to the resort and are taken care of by the WDW folks. Some of them may go to the Animal Kingdom but most of them are allowed to roam in the undeveloped areas owned by WDW. There are some animals like deer and rabbits that actually roam around the Magic Kingdom at night during the times when there arent that many crews around. Dan has seen these animals and mentioned that in the early morning hours when music comes on the animals go back into the thick brush as if they understand that soon the park will be open and the guests will be coming in.
The horticultural crew works a regular eight-hour shift. They usually work from 4:30 A.M. to 12:00 noon. The first four hours are usually spent on-stage to clean up and fix any areas that can be seen by guests. Once 8:30-9:00 comes the crew then moves offstage out of the view of the guests. In the summer months the crew appreciates these hours as the sun gets pretty hot from mid-day on.
Dan has worked all over the park and talked about some areas that he has worked in. He mentioned that he had opened Alien Encounter. Originally that attraction did not have all the special effects it has nowlike the effects of the glass breaking and drooling.
Dan let us in on a secret. There is a fifth theme park on its way. This particular theme park will concentrate on providing guests with thrill rides like roller coasters and special shows. He sort of alluded to the theme park as concentrating on the Disney Villains. One roller coaster in particular that is being designed right now would have the guests lie down on their back.
The Skyway in FantasyLand and TomorrowLand is on its last days. According to Dan TMK is the only Disney Park left with the skyway attraction. The Skyway attraction can be a problem at times because when it gets windy the attraction has to be shut down. He expected the attraction to be closed before the end of the year.
The 20K area may see some development in the next several years. FantasyLand may get a doubleloop rollercoaster in that area.
Dan told me to check on a friend in EPCOT who works at Test TrackI forgot the guys name so I never got a chance to talk with him.
It was late afternoon and Carol and I realized that we had been in the park all daya rarity for us. Not only that, we were pretty reda bit sunburned. We were also thirsty and since we were pretty close to AdventureLand, it seemed only natural that a DOLE WHIP was in order. We went over to Aloha Isle and it seemed like a million people had the same idea.
I didnt want to wait so we went to the Sunshine Tree Terrace and I got a citrus swirl and Carol got an ice tea. We sat down near an area across from the Tiki Room and just relaxed and talked about the rest of our day.
We hadnt seen the new Tiki Room show so after we finished our little treats we wandered into the show. We were lucky in that the show was letting guests in and we filed in late. I like sitting in the back row for the show and thats where we were.
The show started out like the old showI knew that so I was readyho hum and then the new stuff started. The new songs were fun and just as I was getting into it THE SHOW WAS OVER. Huh? I figured that the show would last at least 14 minutes but Im guessing that it was barely 10 minutesthat explains why there are virtually no lines or crowds for this attractiontheres no time for a crowd to gather.
After we cooled off we headed for the Pirates. On this vacation, unlike any other vacation, every time we were in TMK and went to the Pirates we walked right to the boat dockno crowdsamazing.
When we left the attraction we poked around the shopping areastill looking for that ELP shirtbut no luck.
I looked at the show schedulewe were in luck as it was almost time for the Steel Drum Band to perform.
Sure enough they came out and did their thing. While they were playing I could have sworn that Rick Smits from the NBAs Indiana Pacers walked by me. Not only thatI saw Michael Jordan. Well not really. I saw this kidan older teenagera 6-footerwith a Michael Jordan uniform on. Im talking a complete uniformlooked like the home uniformshorts, shirtbasketball sneakersthe whole thingguess hes a big fan.
After the Steel Drum Band was finished Carol and I made our way around Adventureland, FrontierLand, Liberty Square, FantasyLand, and into TomorrowLand in all the shops looking for that ELP shirt. Still no luck.
Since we had been in the park all dayunexpectedly I might addwe were running out of film so we bought film in the park in Liberty SquareI knowI knowbut we didnt plan to stay all day in one park. Luckily I brought plenty of tape and batteries.
99 Tip #15 Once More with Feeling on Film, Tape, and Batteries
I know Ive drummed this into people many times but it doesnt hurt to remind everyone that not only should you stock up on film, tape, and batteries before leaving for your trip to WDW but you should always carry enough to get you through the day. The objective here is twofold. First you buy this stuff before you get to Florida because its cheaper. Secondly, you want to have enough film, tape, and battery power during the day so you dont have to buy it in the parks and you wont miss that special Kodak moment. Of course this means you have to plan each day. I usually take two blank tapes and two extra batteries with me when I start out in the morning. If I return to the room depending upon how much tape or battery power I will need for the rest of the day I will make the necessary adjustments. I always have more tape and battery than I need. The same goes for regular cameras. Replace your camera battery before going off on your trip. You should have at least two extra rolls of film with you at all timesespecially if you go all day without a break. Dont get caught short. But if you do you can always pay an arm and a leg for film, tape, or batteries.
We thought about going over to TL to see Carrousel of Progress but hmmmmpast 5 P.Mclosed.
We took in the Haunted Mansion because there was noone around that attraction. There might have been only four or five people with us in the stretching room. We could hear the audio real well.
Carol wanted to do the Hall of Presidents but the attraction was having some problems. Carol commented that it must have been something that Bill Clinton did.
We were both somewhat sunburned from sitting in the sun for about an hour and not moving and watching the parade so we decided to go into Small World to cool offhadnt seen it this time aroundand were stuck for a while in thereboats just wouldnt move. I think that the boats run too close but thats part of the deal with this attraction as the Cast Members try to move the guests along as much as possible in a constant loading mode.
We were amazed at the time. We had been in this park a long time today and it was getting towards 8 P.M.
Looked like we were in line for a late dinner and that we were about to spend an uncharacteristically marathon day in TMK. I figured we were looking at least a 14-hour day because we were thinking of watching and filming the 11 P.M. ELP.
We had a light dinner at the Plaza Restaurant. This restaurant has always been one of our favorites because it gives you a chance to have a sit down meal without charging unreasonable prices. Its a great place if all youre looking for is a salad and a sandwich. We had a great meal and with my MKC discount the meal came to $20 before the tipnot bad for a dinner in TMK huh?
We walked over to TomorrowLand and rode the TTA. Its one of those attractions that cools you down, whizzes you through the park, and never really has a line. It offers you a great view too.
Next we wanted to go to Buzz Lightyear and fight the evil Emperor Zorg. I was impressed with this attraction the first time we rode it and I think that it will prove to be the most popular attraction in TL, next to Space Mountain.
It was dark now so we went on the TTA againI knowbut we really like the TTAwe noticed that the 9 P.M. ELP was going on.
When we got off the TTA we headed over to FantasyLand. We walked right on to Snow Whites Adventures. Most of the people were at the parade I guess.
After Snow White we worked our way over to the right of the TomorrowLand Plaza just below the wire that Tink rides to launch Fantasy in the Sky. Tink came right above us and I still cant tell if Tink is a male CM or a female CM.
Fantasy in the Sky should be viewed from several locations. This location really lets you see almost 100% of the fireworkssome are blocked by the castle but its a neat view.
After FITS Carol and I decided to make our way to our secret spots to take pix and video for the 11 P.M. ELP. We found our spots in Liberty Square and waited for the parade. I couldnt get over how excited the Cast Members get for The Magic Kingdom parades. The Cast Members who do crowd control really get into the parade themes and make it enjoyable for the guests. The late parade is the best.
After the parade we waited for the crowd to disperse and we slowly moved towards Main Street USA. I wanted to wait as long as possible before leaving the park because I wanted to hear the closing schpiel. I got to hear and see it up close as I was right near the castle but the schpiel was drowned out a bit by the vacuum cleaners scooping up street debris and the color trick didnt come throughit seems that the closing is a bit different every night.
Carol was really tired but shes a trooper and held up pretty wellits not easy visiting WDW with memy energy seems to be endless. Before we left the park I suggested we look for that ELP shirt one more time. We went into the Emporium but no luck. As we were leaving the Emporium at the corner nearest the Town Square I saw an endcap with the shirts and lo and behold there was ONLY one in the rack. I should say only one in the correct size in the rack. I grabbed it and thought, Perseverance finally paid off.
This day had been one of our longest days of the trip. We made our trek to the monorail and got off at the Poly where we had parked. I made it back to CS in about 10 minutes and when we walked into the room we noticed the light beeping on the phonenot usually a welcomed sight.
There was a message from Carols fathers wife (not Carols mother) saying that she has to tell Carol something but not to worry. Please call me when you get in! Hmmmm, almost 1 A. M. I think well wait until the Sun comes up. Needless to say we didnt sleep too well that night.
Thursday, August 12 - Decisions! Decisions!
You might say we slept in this morning. I call it sleeping in when I sleep past 6 A.M.
Carol called NH to find out that her father was in the hospital. Apparently he was having some problems breathing and the doctor wanted him checked in. not only that but he was in the ICU unit of the hospital.
She tried to get as much information from her fathers wife Alice during the call.
After she hung up I asked her if she wanted to immediately go home. She wasnt sure. I suggested we call the hospital and talk to the doctor. Tell them its long distance and theyll get him pronto, I said.
Carol called and found out that her father had a slight blood clot in his lung but was responding to the medical attention. The doctor said there was no need to come home because her father was responding so well to the treatment and assured us that everything would be fine.
We decided to continue with our vacation but to monitor the situation from long distance over the next day or so.
We went to MGM and after we went through the turnstiles we discovered that Carol had used my AP and I had used hers but nothing was saidso are her fingerprints identical to mine?
We took in the 11 A.M. Hunchback Show. The HB of ND is my favorite 90s Disney film because I think it offers a lot of different stuff to the audience and I also like the music. The show was not crowded. I estimated the theater to be filled at about 70% capacity. We sat on the left side of the runway so I had a great view and could tape the show with little distraction. Id never get tired of seeing that show.
Since I was along the aisle I had to be careful as some of the performers would run by me during the show. At the end of the show when everyone was applauding the cast the main Cast Members came out and shook hands with the audience. I gave Quasi a high five.
When we left the show we walked through the NY City streets and caught the last five minutes of The Hitmen which was a brass band. They were pretty good.
We walked right into the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant for lunch The food at this restaurant is average and the prices are good. Its one of those restaurants that we like to go to at least once on every trip because it is differentplus we get to see great vintage sci-fi clips. If you do visit this restaurant make sure you have your sunglasses ready when you leaveyoull need them.
After lunch we headed towards the B&TB theaterwe saw some streetmosphere along the wayIm sure everyone is familiar with Otto Von Aeroflex, the great movie director.
Once again I need to comment on the crowdsor lack of crowds. We sat in the third row to see B&TB and again noticed that the theater was probably around 75% full.
I thought the shows length had been cut down considerably. I had seen the original version back in 1992 before Sunset Blvd. was built and I would say that the show was at least 15 minutes longer back then. I was definitely spoiled.
After the show Carol and I went to the TZTOT souvenir shop to check out the shirts. I found one that suited me. We went to the RNRC souvenir shop and I got not one but two RNRC shirts. One was your basic shirt with a logo on the breast and some stuff written on the sleeve. The other was along the line of the Splash Mountain and TZTOT shirts where you have the fab four in a coaster on the front and in the back are all the facts regarding the attraction. Only after experiencing an attraction will I allow myself to purchase and wear any attire that references that attraction.
We also bought a few trinkets. In both cases we had the stuff delivered to our room.
99 Tip #16 - The Shopping Advantage for Property Guests
Its a great convenience to do your shopping and have your stuff sent back to your roomsomething that you cannot do unless you stay on the property. But if you plan to do that keep a few things in mind. Make sure you know your room number and dont send your packages back to your room if you are leaving WDW in less than 36 hours. Some people may say 24 hours but if you shop late in the day I would not bet on your packages arriving at your room the next day.
We strolled through the Animation Courtyard Shopshmmm couldnt find any porcelain goodies to add to our collection at home.
We decided not to do either the Magic of Disney Animation or the Backlot Tourbeen there, done thatthen it started to rain, and I mean RAIN. We took refuge on a stoop in the NY City Street area. It really poured for about 20 minutes and noone was walking in it.
I noticed the different colored ponchosbesides your basic yellow there were blue and red ponchos. The Rainforest Caf ponchos are green.
The rain stopped and the Sun came out to quickly heat up the park. It wasnt until that afternoon that I noticed that many of the oriental visitors would use their umbrellas ALL THE TIMErain or shine. I guess if youre sensitive to the Sun its a good way to avoid it but AT NIGHT TOO? Let me tell youthose umbrellas are pretty dangerous for those of us in the six feet and over range.
Carol and I wanted to see the Mulan parade but also have a great spot to do so. We found that spot. It was the bench that sits in front of the Darkroom/Cover Story shop on Hollywood Blvd. This was a great spot as it was at the front of the park so that once the parade ended we could shoot out the park without fighting any large mass of people.
Some 30 minutes before the scheduled start of the parade an announcement was made saying that due to weather conditions the parade was cancelled. A Cast Member told us that the weather service indicated that there was a storm cell in the area and that it was a strong possibility that wed have a storm in the next hour or so and that pretty much cancelled the parade.
With that cancellation the streetmosphere came out to entertain. We watched for a while and then headed back to CS to call home and see how things wereby the waythe parade could have gone offno rain for the rest of the day.
Carol called home and found out that Holly and Mike had visited Carols father. It looked like everything was fine and that he was responding to treatmentlooked like hed be going home soon. That brought a relief to Carol and we both felt good about the kids sort of taking control back home.
Okayfresh batteries in the camcorder and fresh film in the camera. Off to Downtown Disney.
We decided to have dinner at Wolfgang Pucks Restaurant at Disneys West Side. We made reservations and they gave us this disk to carry aroundwhen it flashed and buzzed it was time for dinner. We roamed around outsidechecked out the House of Blues and a few other places. We waited about 20 minutes before being seated at Wolfgangs. Our table was towards the rear of the restaurant near the windows overlooking the water.
I forget what Carol had but I know what I ordered. It was one of the specialssome type of a penne paste with chicken and artichokesall in a jalopeno sauce.
Now Im, sure everyone reading this has from time to time eaten some thing spicy and hot and usually when youre about to eat something hot or spicy you pretty much put your tastebuds, mouth, stomach, and body on alert.
Attention everyone. We are about to introduce to everyone some food that will be a little spicier than we are normally used to. Please adjust accordingly.
Now your eyes and brain will judge as to what level of alertness all these areas must adjust to. Once the judgement has been made the signal is given.
Okay everyone, looks to be a level seven, grade B spice range. Plan accordingly.
Boy was I wrong.
My first mouthful was the indicatoractually I think it was my throat that gave me my first clue that this was to be more than a level seven. Maybe a level SEVENTY.
I figure that all over my bodytastebudsstomachnot to mention colonlights were going off, horns were blaring.doors were being sealed offand complete panic was setting in.
The waiter came over to ask how everything was. In a whisper I asked for a barrel of watercold water.
I asked the server if anyone else was trying tonights special. He chuckled, knowing I didnt expect it to be that hot but also sensing that I liked it.
Lets seeanyone else having this dish? Just those two gentlemen in the cornerMr. Chernobyl and Mr. Hades.
Oh yeah, Carol had the four-cheese pizza with tomato and basil. This particular dish had been mentioned by several sources including a CM friend of ours. It was a bit similar to the same dish at Mama Melrose with a slight difference in the crust and the cheese. Mamas had the more tasty crustWolfgangs the better cheese.
We had been real good todayno treats so we decided to reward ourselves with a desert of Oatmeal Crunch Apple Pie.
While enjoying our dessert, which we sharedeasier on the fat and calories that way, a manager type came over to our table and asked if everything was okay. He did not go to anyone elses table. We wondered why he visited only our table and then I saw a light bulb go on over Carols head.
What? I exclaimed.
You were jotting down notes in your trip book and
She did not have to say anymoreobviously they thought I was a Shopper. Carol then mentioned that he had been watching us ever since I had started writing in my notebook.
Cool. The pen remains mightier than the sword.
I liked Wolfegang Pucks Restaurant and will definitely try to hit this restaurant on any return trip. It is a pretty popular restaurant and anyone reading this who intends on trying it should think about getting there early.
After the meal we walked around, called home again, everything was fine. We walked around the Marketplaceboy that place comes alive at night. I cannot begin to describe all the activities that were going on and how much there is to do there. Who needs Pleasure Island? We looked at a couple of shops. I think everyone should check out the Disneys Days of Christmas Shopbut leave your wallet at the door.
We did a lot of walking that night and were happy to head back to the room early. We wanted to go to the Animal Kingdom in the morning and get an early start. It didnt take long for me to fall asleep.
Friday, August 13 - Three Parks in One Day
We were up early and headed off to DAK. First stop was the Rainforest Caf to make priority seating for lunch. We went into the park and decided to try the boat ride. If youre into boats and water then this is for you. If youre easily bored while riding a boat then avoid this attraction. It will eat up about 40 minutes of your day.
I will say that you can get some decent pictures of the Tree of Life and some animals while on this boat ride but unless they add some spice to it many people will have the same reaction as I had.
We left the boat ride and headed over to the Festival of the Lion King. It amazes me how energetic the performers are for this show. Its almost as if they are performing for the first and only time and its for you and they are going to give you the best show ever.
Oh yeah75% capacity.
As we were walking through the center after the show we passed by these huge floats of Simba and his friends. One little boy was saying goodbye to one of the animalsPuumbaexcept he didnt get the name right.
Bye Poo Poo! he said.
We tried the Maharaja Trek. Its a walk through the Animal Kingdom Park where you can see some of the animals. We saw the huge fruit bats, a mear cat, gorillas, lions, and tigersall kinds of stuff. I think it needs to expand but it was pretty good.
We also did a little bit of shopping. I think the people who look forward to shopping at WDW will be a bit disappointed at the shopping opportunities at DAK.
We headed towards the front of the park as it was getting time for us to eat at the Rainforest Caf. I had not heard good things about this one so I was curious to see if all the reports were true.
The service was less than I had received at the Marketplace RFC. Our salads arrived at the same time our entrees arrivednot good planning. It seemed that people all around us were in and out well before us. That is we were seated before several surrounding tables but those tables seemed to have had their lunch and got out of there much faster than we did.
Carol had her favorite, Rasta Pasta and asked if I could figure out the recipe and make it when we returned home.
I had the Siam Stir and actually ate the entire dish using chopsticks. Hmmm, maybe thats why it took so long for us to have lunchpretty difficult eating rice with chopsticksit helped to mix the rice with the side dish of mashed potatoes.
Okay the plan was to go back to CS and to check for any messages from home. Then we planned to go to MGM to catch the Mulan parade, which should have been run yesterday. But first before leaving the RFC we shared a Tortoise Ice Cream Pieprobably should have never ordered dessert because it took 15 minutes to get it. So my thoughts are that Ill probably do the RFC at the Marketplace and skip the one at DAK.
Well we eventually made it to MGM and the same bench we had secured yesterday. The parade seemed dysfunctional as the floats had big separations between them.
We then took in the Doug Live Show. I was pretty impressed, as the performers were very good. Of course I wasnt familiar with the characters like Pork Chop and Quail Man. Outside underwear?
After Doug Live we checked some of the shops we hadnt as yet checked on this tripthen we took in some Streetmosphere. As I mentioned earlier my favorite Streetmosphere CM is the guy who plays Otto Von Aeroflex. Hes the big guy with the deep voice that plays the part of the movie director.
We left MGM and Carol was surveyed outside the gates.
We drove to the Contemporary and took the monorail to the Grand Floridian. It was almost 7 P.M. We went to 1900 Park Fare for Dinner. The Grand Floridian Breakfast has Mary Poppins, The Mad Hatter, Dopey, and Princess Aurora and Snow White. Although we decided not to visit restaurants twice this trip we did on this occasion because it was breakfast first time around and dinner now.
You parents should take note that the 1900 Park Fare Dinner characters include Belle, the Beast, Peter Pan, and Captain Hook. Interesting combo.
While coming back from the buffet table I noticed Carol was conversing at the table with Peter Pan. At this point in the trip I didnt feel like exchanging small chatter with the characters so I went back to the buffet and added another tomato to the saladturned aroundstill thereokay maybe add some fruitturned aroundlooks like hes goingon the way back to the table one of the waitresses said Hi Tarzan! OOPShad my Tarzan shirt on.
Carol said that Peter Pan knew a lot about the Electrical Light Parade and that it was imported from California. He asked if she noticed which float was not there this time. It was the Small World float.
Captain Hook came to visit. No talk just photosI can handle that.
For those of you who love salads, fruit, and veggies1900 Park Fare is the place for you. Im not into meat as much these days but I did try the pork loin.
I seemed to be going through ice tea like crazy so our waiter left us a pitcher of itgotta remember that during tip time.
Belle visited our table. Now obviously this CM had no idea who she was dealing with. My wife told Belle that B&TB was her favorite Disney movie. I told her that I liked B&TB but Hunchback was my favorite. She asked me if I knew that she was in that film. I told her about the market scene and her walking through reading a book. She smiled. We took pictures and she left. Ill stump her later.
As we were leaving 1900 Park Fare I stopped Belle and said, Belle, how did you like Beasts appearance in Aladdin? she looked puzzled. I told her of the scene and she promised to check it that night when she got home.
On the way out Carol wanted to take a picture of the Beast. We asked a Cast Member to take a picture of us with the big guy. When I say big I mean big.
We strolled around the Grand Floridian. Piano playingband playingkinda nice but I dont think I could ever stay there. Just not my cup of tea. I asked the clerk at the desk what time the Water Pageant comes by and he pointed out towards the Poly and said it would be there in about 15 minutes and then by Narcooses 30 minutes later. Carol and I went out to the beach near the Wedding Chapel. The Water Pageant was there all right except that we really couldnt see it too well because it was performing for the Poly and we were looking at it from the side. Oh well.
Since we are the biggest TMK fans we took the monorail to the park to watch and tape Fantasy in the Sky. I wanted to tape it from the middle of Main Street as that is the best spot to hear the PA system and catch the castle and the fireworks all at the same time.
After the fireworks Carol and I sat down outside one of the shops on Main Street USA and just were amazed at the throng of people leaving the park. It was a good time to rest because were had done a lot on this day. At one point I wondered exactly how many people were in the park. I figured that a conservative estimate would have no less than 100 people walking by us every 5 secondsor 1200 per minute. That means that for the 30 minutes we were sitting down that somewhere around 30,000 people walked past us
We walked over to FantasyLand and walked into Peter Panalmost no waitmaybe three minutesthen we went to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Poohnot too badfive minute waitcouldnt find that part of the attraction where supposedly Mr. Toad was handing over the deedanyone ever find that? We walked through the castle and came into the 11 P.M. ELP.
We hung around the park real late hoping to catch that closing that Im addicted toit never came this nightodd. We waited 45 minutes. For some of that time I sat above on the train station platform while Carol sat down in front of Tonys. While up there I struck up a conversation with a high school aged boy from the United Kingdom. He was visiting his sister in the states and loved WDW.
No endingwe went back to the room pretty pooped.
Carol had no problem getting to sleepnot so for meI was up until 1:30 A.M. checking out the video I had taken that day.
Saturday, August 14 - The EPCOT Homestretch
In the morning after taking a shower I put on the news to find out that a small boy was seriously injured on Spaceship Earth. Apparently the boy had somehow became trapped in between and underneath one of the vehicles. It sounded like this was definitely a user error situation and a language problem as the name of the child indicated that he was not using English as his primary language. The report said that the boy had suffered a multiple fractured leg. The boy was airlifted to a hospital and underwent six hours of surgery before his injuries could be stabilized. He was five years old.
On top of that there was still another report that a 28-year-old woman had collapsed and died at Pleasure Island the night before. No details were given.
We called home to see how things were. Mike was working but Holly was home. She was very excited because she was told that shed be producing a new show at her television station. I guess she had to do all kinds of stuffshe couldnt help but get excited about the whole deal.
Carol and I decided to go to EPCOT today. Hmmmwe got into the car and I was looking for my sunglasseswhere are they. Carol was looking and underneath her seat were not my sunglasses but a Sony Portable Discman. Looks like someone forgot to clean out the car before turning it in. We decided to leave it in the car and to mention it when we returned the car at the airport.
When we got to EPCOT we noticed that there was even more construction going onor at least there had been a lot of activity during the night as more boards were up and more stars on Spaceship Earth. There were at least 20 stars on the geospherewhen we first saw EPCOT some 10 days ago there were only six stars.
We noticed more construction around Innoventions East and in World Showcase. It was a nice weather day and we strolled around World Showcase and checked the shops. Our goal was to take in a performance of the Voices of Liberty but we found out that they werent performing on Saturdays. Hmmm. Oh well.
We had a light lunch at the AA Restaurant and then came out to watch the character show at the American Gardens Pavilion Theater. It was Mickey Around the World with all the Disney characters. Its best here to describe how sparse the crowd was in Epcot this day. We approached the show about 10 minutes after it started and were able to sit in the first row about 15 feet from the center.
After the show we started looking for gifts for the kids. They did not want anything so we decided to get them something anyway. We checked out the shops in Italy. I think they need to add better or different merchandise in the Italy areajust couldnt find anything for my son. We were looking for an Italian Rugby shirtno luck.
We kept walking came to China and the Nine Dragons Restaurant. So you think that dinners arent more expensive than lunch? Get this...the $13.95 entre for lunch at the Nine Dragons Restaurant will cost you $18.50 for the same entre for dinnerso eat a late lunch when you are in EPCOT.
We reached Norway and for some reason didnt even bother doing the Maelstromgee I havent done that attraction since 1994. We went into the Stave church and read the exhibits. I was mesmerized by the music they played and immediately went to the shops looking for a CD or a tape of the musicno luckcheck it out the next time youre in World Showcaseits a haunting sound. I also checked out the Viking boat that theyve placed in Norway. I thought these boats were much biggerya cant trust Hollywood I guess.
As we were leaving World Showcase we checked out the Showcase Plaza shop. I saw a pretty neat EPCOT 2000 shirt that I just had to havecouldnt buy it anywhere else and get a discount so I purchased it here.
Innoventions West was sort of half opened. There was not much in there except for some video games and a real lame set of Internet exhibits. There was an area to send a postcard but it was also operating at 50% so half the time it worked.
This is the part of Innoventions where all the Sega stuff is found. Both Carol and I commented that instead of spending money on the Sega stuff here a family would be better off going to Disney Quest.
Test Track again had the longest lines in the Park. We wanted to go to Ice Station Cool but it was closed.
The fountains at the plaza came alive. Has anyone seen the fountains at night? I dont recall ever seeing that show at night.
Ice Station Cool was open. Omigod that Italian drink is terrible. I liked that China drinkwatermelon like.
Here are the drinks:
China - Smart Watermelon (my favorite)
Israel - Kinley Lemon (very lemony)
Brazil - Diet Tai Gurana (this one was okay)
Japan - Vegitabeta (not good not bad but different)
Mexico - Lift Apple (another good one)
Germany - Mezzo Mix (youll either love this one or hate it)
Italy - Beverly (absolutely terrible)
Mozambique - Krest Ale (Not quite good enough for seconds)
The Centorium was closed or being refurbished so the right side of the Pasta and Pizza place was being used as a makeshift souvenir shop. There were some bargains there but nothing that we liked.
Again I must comment on this trip being a Brazilian free tripuncannyIm not complaining.
This trip has been characterized by crying children. Hey sonny, your Mom and Dad just mortgaged the house to bring you all the way to Orlando to Walt Disney World. Now what are you gonna do?
We left EPCOT and decided to do some exploring. We drove around the Disney Institute. Its nice but Im not sure if Id spend money to stay there or take some courses. It didnt strike me as a vacation type place.
Eventually we got back to our room. We decided to eat dinner at CS so we went to the Pepper Market. I was careful not to order the taco salad and had something that seemed harmless.
We noticed that the people who were sitting at the next table left their tickets. So how do they get out without paying?
We went back to the room and discussed what we wanted to do on our last two days. We made out a list of things we needed to do (and shop for) over the next two days.
Monday, August 15 Three Parks in One Day, Part II
This was to be an interesting day.
We drove to EPCOT real early and instead of going into the park we took the monorail to the TTC. We were the only guests on the monorail. We didnt bother to ask to sit up front because as far as we understood it the only time you may ride up front is when you board from a Magic Kingdom monorail resort. It had been a long time since I had rode the monorail from EPCOT to TMK. There are some interesting sights to see along the way including a hidden area near TMK where I caught a glimpse ofnopenot telling. Check it out yourself. Just keep your eyes to the left.
We got off at the TTC and took the ferryboat to TMK. We made our way into the park and found ourselves underneath the castle five minutes before the rope drops.
As we were told in MGM, No running please!
Carol suggested we do the Winnie the Pooh attraction. Now Im not a real Pooh fan but I was curious to do the ride again and tape the attraction. It has become the new attraction king in FL replacing Dumbo. We did the ride several times before the crowd showed up. I think it was at least three times without waiting. Total time we spent at the attraction was 11 minutes. So each ride through averaged just over three minutes.
Peter Pans Flight was next. We walked right onto this attraction. Remember this was between 9 and 9:30 in the morning.
From Peter Pan we made our way to the Haunted Mansion. We entered the stretching room with four other people. Theres a big difference in the audio with fewer peopleso clear.
From The Haunted Mansion we cut through the shortcut to the Jungle Cruise. Now weve all done the Jungle Cruise many times and we know the jokes right gang? But lets face itif the Cast Member is really into his or her job and does the script right its very enjoyable. Well this CM was a great actor and he had us in stitches. The ride seemed a little enhancedmaybe just some refurbishing.
It was getting to late morning and Carol and I decided to have a late breakfast at the Crystal Palace. We were seated almost immediately. I dont know why but every time we go to the Crystal Palace and they ask for my name I get the urge to say Disney and hold my index finger up to my mouth as if to say Shhhhh.
99 Tip #17 - How to Beat the Crowds Twice on the Same Day
If you want to get a head start on theme park attractions and then have a late breakfast or early lunch its a good idea to focus on a place that goes right from breakfast to lunch. That way everyone in your party can be happy. This works at The Hollywood and Vine in MGM and Crystal Palace in TMK. If you try to get priority seating as late as possible for breakfast then youll already be seated for lunch and wont be wasting precious time waiting to be seated. Also, youll be finished eating around the noon hour so you can hit the attractions while everyone else is waiting to be seated for lunch.
Again crowds were not a factor on this day. Of course we were earlybirds today and that had a lot to do with the crowds.
By the way, the Crystal Palace has all day character dining. Our server explained how the characters worked the restaurant. Of course I could not understand a word she said. Her name was Dija and she was from Morocco. Gee if she married a man from France her name could be Dija Vuget it?
Tigger assaulted me during my meal. Photo. Thank you. Piglet was next. My god is Piglet pink. Eyore came to the table next to us and Carol took a picture of Eyore with the three girls from Japan, Korea, or ChinaI have no clue but Im guessing Japan.
On the way out Carol corralled Pooh and we had a CM take our picture.
We left the Palace and headed down Main Street and we listened to the Dapper Dans. I think this was the first time I saw Dapper Dans who were younger than me.
It was early afternoon and we headed out to the ferryboat. Along the way as I passed the little Kiosk that sold the Walkaround the World bricks I noticed several shirts that I just had to inquire about. The shirts
Have a neat insignia over the breast and it said Walkaround the World Family Member or something like that. I had to have it so I got one. I think its my favorite shirt from this trip.
We headed for the Ferry. Not too many people were leaving TMK on the Ferry at this time...midday. I noticed as we crossed Bay Lake that the Ferry is chaperoned by several boats that watch out for other boats and water sprites. These boats are sort of escorts to insure no accidents happen during the trips to and from the TTC.
We took the monorail from the TTC back to EPCOT and we were able to see inside the construction boards as to what was happening in front of EPCOT. It looked like some permanent type construction was almost finished.
We went into Spaceship Earth and I tried to figure out where that five-year-old boy could have hurt himself.
After SE we stopped off at Ice Station Cool. Refreshing.
We took a boat to Morocco and then headed for AA to listen to The Voices of Liberty.
They came out and I started taping them and then as I was about ready to hear them do the Star Spangled Bannerthey didnt. Apparently they had finished their set. One of the female VOL came over and talked to me and I asked her about the performance. I asked things like why did they sing only a few songs, why no Star Spangled Banner, why no second chorus of singers on the balcony, and all that stuff. I also mentioned and asked about Derrick Johnson. She was amazed at my questions and was very accommodating with her answers.
Oh, excuse me. Derrick Johnson pretty much is the person responsible for the Voices of Liberty and the arrangements they sing.
This CMs eyes kinda lit up when I mentioned his name. CMs are always excited to meet well-informed guestsit makes their job more enjoyable. She seemed quite intrigued that I knew a lot about the VOL and Derrick Johnson.
She told me that due to WDW expansion their (Voices of Liberty staff members) numbers were down and because of this they did not perform as much as they used to. Over a period of one week during the summer months the Voices of Liberty perform only 22 times. They have a few days off during the week but they really dont as some of them perform in a contemporary singing group that performs on the days in which the VOL do not perform.
She told me that there is only one crew who does VOLat least for now. She also mentioned that even though the members may change from time to time the voices seem to stay the same because someone who pretty much has the same voice as the member who is leaving replaces a member.
Carol and I left AA and headed towards FW. We stopped off for a strawberry slushEPCOTs answer to Dole Whip.
We then did Ellens Universe. It wasnt crowded but we noticed that the people sitting behind us were talking quite a bit during the show and that was annoying.
When we left the attraction we noticed it was raining pretty good. Well its only water so we tip toed through the raindrops and made our way out of the park and back to our room. I was starting to get a headachecant figure out whytoo much MSG in the buffet at Crystal Palace?
We got back to the room and called home to see how things were. The kids said it was hot and humid in NH. Everything else was fine.
Headachearrrghhh! Dont want to be sick in WDW.
Carol and I were ready to go to MGMour third park of the day. We called to book at Mama Melrose. They were booked solid. So we called to make priority seating at Prime Time.
When we arrived at MGM we watched a little bit of Streetmosphere. My favorite Streetmosphere activity is the Where are you from? skit where a large number of Streetmosphere performers gather in the middle of Hollywood Blvd. and take turns going up to guests and asking the guest where they come from. That Streetmosphere CM then mimics the mannerisms, gestures, and voice inflections made by that guests response. The next Streetmosphere CM finds a guest and does the same thing. Every time a new guest is asked the whole Streetmosphere gang goes through all of the mannerisms from all the guests.
This is great stuff and is usually performed in the late afternoon or early evening.
The sky was beginning to darken upwe checked in at Prime Time. While in line we noticed one family was real upset because somewhere down the line their priority seating reservation was lost. They were asked for their reservation number but tell me is there anyone out there reading this report who religiously writes down the reservation number they give you when you make your priority seating?
Carol ordered the Giovannis Pasta and I had the Pot Roast. We found out we could order a Caesar Salad as an appetizerCaesar Salads are good at WDW.
We left Prime Time to find it raining pretty hard. Hmmmm! Looks like Fantasmic is in jeopardy. The rumor was that the 9:15 and 11:00 Fantasmic shows were cancelled. I figured the 9:15 was definitely out but wasnt ready to give up on the 11 P.M. show.
We walked over to Sunset Blvd. and there were a lot of people around. We went into the TZTOT and RNRC souvenir shops. It was time for me to get some shirts. We came out and the rain had stopped. One CM said they will try to get the 11 P.M. Fantasmic show goingbut of course if the 9:15 people stay then it will really be crowded. We decided to leave and look for something else to occupy the time.
Carol and I were able to get into the last VOTLMM show for the day. The performance was pretty good considering it was late in the day.
Same thing for the Muppetslast show of the day and we got to see itnot crowded at all. Too bad because we walked right in and that means past the preshow areasomeday I want to spend a lot of time in there and study all the gags.
After the Muppet show we strolled through the stores. It was pretty empty around this area of the park. We noticed that as we got closer to Sunset Blvd. the numbers increased dramatically. Looked like a big crowd for the 11:00 Fantasmic show. No thanks.
It had been a long daythree parks in one daysomeday we want to do four parks in one dayof course thats assuming we get back to Orlando before that fifth Disney theme park is built. I think it can be done but only in the summer.
I would start off with DAK and do CTX and any other attraction until 11 A.M. Then I would head over to MGM and do a few attractions therea bit challenging at that time of the dayI would leave MGM around 3 P.M. and then head over to EPCOT. I would hang around EPCOT until around 7 P.M. From there I would go to TMK to finish the day. Of course this works even better on an E-Ticket Express night. On that kind of a night I would break the day up into two 9 hour segmentsfour hours at DAKfour hours at MGMback to the room to rest a bitfour hours at EPCOTfour hours at TMK.
Actually Carol and I have also planned to do the following:
Drive to EPCOT and watch Illuminationsthen take the monorail to the TTC and TMK and watch FITSthen leave and take the monorail back to EPCOTand then drive to MGM to see the 11 P.M. Fantasmic show.
I think this can be done but you have to watch Illuminations at the edge of Future World, FITS from the train station, and maybe have already booked the Fantasmic package at MGM. Anyway, thats what
We want to do the next time we are in WDWit would have to be during the summer to pull that off.
We had no problem getting to sleep on this day.
Sunday, August 16th Last Full DaySay it Aint So Mickey!
We sort of slept inyesterday was like a marathon and the extra sleep helped. We drove over to the Marketplace to do our last minute shopping. My head was somewhere else because not only did I leave my wallet at one counter but I also left my travelers cheques at another counter. Luckily there are honest people and we got both back with everything intact.
We purchased a few items. I bought a Millennium watch and some CDs. We bought a few things for the kidsused our MKC card and saved a bunch.
We had lunch at Portobellos. It was the first time for me but it certainly wont be the last time. The food was greatI put this restaurant up there with a 5 star rating but I do suggest that doing lunch is the smart way to experience Portabellos.
After lunch we went back to CS to do some packing for the trip home. While we were packing the phone rang. It was Mike. He said everything was fineof course there were about a zillion ripe tomatoes in my garden.
We headed towards the front desk at CS to cash some travelers cheques and to take some pics of CS.
We then went to the Poly to visit our brick. We wanted to take video and pics in the afternoonthe placement of the sun in the afternoon made for better lighting.
We parked at the Poly and took the monorail to TMK.
There was a little show at the Train station with something called Minnie mania. Cute.
We then stayed for something that Ed Badger had mentioned to me. Its the Flag Retreat ceremony held at sunset every day in the Town Square. They rope off the area where they take the flag down. Does anyone want to guess why? Im not telling you so youll have to see for yourself.
We made priority seating at the Plaza Restaurant. We headed to Aloha Isle for a Dole Whip. This is uncanny but on my last two trips it was almost the last day of the trip before I had my first Dole Whip. The truth be known I had two Dole Whips on this nightand two Dole Whip headachesate em too fast.
Its amazing what I put myself through on the last day of a WDW trip.
We sat in AdventureLand and watched the people walk by. I love watching people in WDW. I try to observe everyone and try to guess as to whether or not they are first timers.
We ate dinner at the Plaza Restaurantgreat place for good food at a reasonable price.
Afterwards we strolled down Main Street USA and took the train to Splash Mountain. When we got to the train station I asked if Bruce Metcalf was on duty. Missed him again. Bruce, someday well get together and talk about that WDW Trip Planning seminarI promise.
When we got to Splash it was pretty crowdedso thats where all the people were gathering. Looked like an hour waitonce youve done E-Ticket youre spoiled.
We took in Country Bear Jamboreetheres still blood on the saddle. Whoaupon exiting CBJ we noticed a changein the old days it opened out into the Mile Long Barnot anymore.
We walked over to TL and did the Wedwayerh TTAwe got stuck just as we were coming out of Space Mountain. We were stuck for about five minuteswe heard the same schpiel over and over again for five minutes.
We decided to help Buzz Lightyear fight Zurg while in line there was this huge guy behind us. We both wondered if he could fit in the vehicle. It made me think about a discussion on RADP about large people who worry about such things and I thought it would be a good idea to have the ride vehicles in a spot outside the attraction for people to judge comfort levels.
He did fit in the vehicle because his son was four inches tall and weighted five ounces.
Carol was thirsty so we looked for something to drink other than soda. It was late so a lot of places were closedincluding one of my favorite places the Sleepy Hollow Refreshment Stand. We managed to get some ice tea at Lumieres Kitchen.
From there we took in Snow White then cut through the castle to watch FITS from Main Street USA.
It was packed. Afterwards we let the throng pass by. We sat outside the sports memorabilia shop.
While sitting down and watching the mass exodus we noticed a little boy in a stroller fighting sleep. He managed to fight it off for a few minutes, but the sandman eventually won out.
Again we waited for the ending and it started upbut was cut short as if someone pulled the pluggrrrrr.
We wandered through the Emporiumyou never know what new merchandise may pop upthen up to the monorail to the Poly.
Of course this was our last night so we bid farewell to the Happiest Place on Earth.
Each trip has its own personality and on this trip I will remember most that first day and how much fun we had as a family on that E-Ticket night. But most of all Ill remember the first time we witnessed that special Magic Kingdom closing:
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, On behalf of everyone here at The Magic Kingdom we thank you for joining us today. We hope that your magical journey with us has created wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. Walt Disney said, The Magic Kingdom is the world of imagination, hopes, and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment, magic and make believe are reborn and fairy tales can come true. The Magic Kingdom is a place for the young and the young at heart; a special place where, when you wish upon a star your dreams really do come true. Until we see you again have a safe trip home. Thank you and good night.