Philip Jerominski -- March 2000 -- Offsite
6 March 2000
My wife (Joan, 46) and I (Phil, 49) had come down to central Florida for other reasons (one being a Disney Wonder cruise later in the week, another being to help my father in Cocoa Beach after surgery) and decided we'd like to do a one day park hop. We have park hopper passes we buy at work every couple of years and this seemed to be a good time for us to use a day. Our plan was to go to only a couple or so attractions that we really liked at each park (MGM, MK & Epcot...we don't have AK on these passes) and then get out before the closeout crowds got us. We've been to WDW many, many, many times before, so there was no need or inclination to see "everything". We also decided we'd have one nice meal in one of the parks, and picked Epcot. We drove from the DC area to Cocoa Beach on Friday, March 3 and decided we'd go to the parks on Tuesday, March 7.
Tuesday arrived and we set out from Cocoa Beach about 745am...the parks opened at 9am and we wanted to get there as the gates opened. Our tentative plan of attack was Tower of Terror at MGM; Haunted Mansion, Tiki Birds, Buzz Lightyear and possibly the train at MK; then a meal at Epcot, followed by Test Track, Maelstrom, the Millineum Parade, and The Land if there was time.
We arrived at MGM at almost exactly 9am and made our way into the park as the gates opened. We hadn't been to MGM in over two years, so we were really looking forward to it. Normally when we go to WDW I rent an electric scooter because I have a bad leg, but this time decided we could walk to the places we wanted to go to in MGM and MK, then get a scooter to end the day at Epcot. It sounded like a good idea at the time...
The crowds were heavier than we expected, but not that bad. We made our way directly to TOT, and were dismayed to see that there was already a 45 minute wait sign up...and quite a line for Fast Pass. Then we realized that the line was MUCH shorter than we thought, and we were in the attraction in less than 10 minutes. The CMs were right on character and we really enjoyed the walk through the "basement" towards the elevators. The last time we had ridden we dropped three times; we had heard that changes had been made, so we were quite excited to see what they were.
On the elevator, we were both in the back row, and I had the middle seat belt seat. The ride progressed, we got to the "drop zone"...and...BAM, BAM, BAMBAM, ...BAM!...we dropped FIVE times! We were laughing like kids! Apparently, the drops are now relatively random. GREAT ride!
We got out and discussed going again, but decided not to. On the way out of the park, we saw a notice for a new "Drew Carey" attraction and decided to give it a try. I won't give it away for those who haven't been, but most of it is in the dark, and it was great fun. Something to try if you haven't gone on it yet.
We got back in our car and drove to Epcot, where we parked and took the monorail to MK. We planned on taking the other monorail into the park, but it was temporarily down for repairs and we had to take the ferry.
Inside MK we took the horse drawn trolley to the castle (to save wear and tear on my leg) then walked over to Haunted Mansion. Again, the wait was only ten minutes and we had a fun ride. HM is one of my favorites and on this day the CMs were perfect.
Even though the crowds looked fairly heavy in MK, the lines weren't yet long. Not sure why...maybe just good timing. We were going on rides during regular lunch hours, so maybe that had something to do with it.
We grabbed a hot dog at a street vendor (which I don't remember seeing before, but Joan says they've been there) and made our way to Tiki Bird, which is one of Joan's favorites since it came under "new management". Neither of us liked it before. After the show, we hiked across to Tomorrow Land and got in line for Buzz Lightyear. By now my leg was starting to give me some problems, but I consoled myself with the thought of getting a scooter at Epcot.
We waited for only about 15 minutes before we were in our spaceship and had a great ride. Surprisingly, I beat Joan even though she conrolled the joy stick. That's never happened before.
Outside after the ride we discussed going on Alien, but the crowds were getting worse, it was about 130pm and we still had a number of attractions we wanted to see in Epcot. We figured we'd skip the train, too, and just head on over. We hoped to get another trolley ride back to the gate, but it was getting close to parade time, and we ended up walking back to the ferry. After the ride across we got on the Epcot monorail and were in the park before 230pm. By now we were pretty darn hungry and my leg was hurting big time, but we were still more or less on schedule.
We got into Epcot, walked up to the guest services area and, disaster! Because of larger than expected crowds, there were no scooters available...and they didn't expect any more!
This had never happened to us before, and it put a large crimp in the main battle plan...there was no way I could do the entire world showcase with my leg as bad as it was. Plan B: we decided I'd take one of my big pain killers, we'd go see what Test Track looked like, then get something to eat and go from there.
That plan started to come apart almost immediately.
The wait at Test Track was over two hours, there were no Fast Passes left for the day, and the "single rider" line was at over 45 minutes. Some more discussion and we decided that Test Track would have to wait until another day. Now we wanted something to eat.
We walked (I hobbled) to Canada and checked out he steak house. Nope...it didn't open until 4pm and didn't have any openings until 8pm. Joan hurried over to England to see what the Pub looked like, and, LO, there was no wait at all! We got a table on the water, ordered the fish and chips (Joan had the mushrooms for an appetizer, I had the fruit and cheese plate...yummy!) and settled in for a nice long, leisurely meal. I popped another pill and we had a very relaxing time...we stayed for about an hour an a half.
After that it was time to find a good spot for the parade, which was to start in about an hour. We strolled over to France and I found an empty bench right on the route. I claimed it for the weary travelers and plopped myself down while Joan did some shopping in France. When she came back, she bought some crepes and drinks, then we both settled in to do some serious people watching. That can be great fun, especially when characters come out. The funniest thing we heard was when characters from the Hunchback of Notre Dame came out, including Qasimoto and a knight, and some woman, was very obviously from Long Island, yelled to her familty, "Look! It's Quasimoto and some dude!"
The parade started right on time and it was WONDERFUL! It was almost worth going to Epcot just to see it. If you get a chance, you really must see this parade. In our opinion, it's one of the best Disney has ever put on.
It was dark by the time the parade ended (it lasted over a half an hour) and we took one of the boats back across the lagoon to Canada, which we'd never done before. Because of my leg, I parked myself on a bench while Joan did some shopping in the Millenium Village. By now it was around 7pm...the park closed at 8...and we decided to skip The Land and make our way out. Because of my leg, it was going to be a slow walk.
We were out of the world showcase and heading towards SSE when we saw what looked like an iceburg sticking out of one of the central buildings. Out of curiosity, we went inside and found it was a Coca Cola display. Really neat, especially if someone is there on a very hot day. We walked through the iceburg (it really was very cold!) and ended up in an area where Coke products from around the world are sold. There were also fountains where, for free, you could sample popular soft drinks from other countries. Most were pretty good, if not a little strange, but unless you like things very bitter, stay away from the Italian drink!
One more shot at leaving, and we saw that there was no line for SSE. We rode that just on principal (there were some changes since the last time we had been) and then dragged ourselves out to the car in the parking lot. My leg was shot, but it had been a good day. We were back in Cocoa Beach before 10pm, and, even though we didn't get to go on some rides that we would have liked to, we considered this to be a very successful one day park hop.
The Magic is still there.