Tracy Lewis -- March 2000 -- Offsite
February 29 through March 11, 2000.
I am writing this trip report for 2 reasons. The first being that Im sure that Taylor will not be able to remember this years from now and can read this and find out how much fun we had. The second reason is that I felt obligated to write a trip report for this site to payback Brian for all the hours of enjoyment that I have gotten from his site. I hope that some of you might find something helpful or enjoyable from this report. I will warn you now that my grammar is not the best in the world and I do tend to be long-winded at times. I do hope to inject a little humor as we go along for everyones enjoyment. Hope you enjoy.
The Cast of Characters, my family:
Tracy- The trip planner and organizer of this trip. I am 29 years old and will turn the big 30 in August. I work as a secretary-transcriptionist in the Radiology department at the local hospital. My last trip to WDW was in 1976 for the Bicentennial celebration. I believe that is only fitting that I attend the Millennium celebration. I do hope that after this trip is over that I can return before another 24 years has passed.
Lance- My husband of almost 7 years at the time of this trip. He is 31 years old and works for Delphi Automotive Systems. He has never been to Disney World. He is as almost excited as I am about this trip.
Sandra- Lances mother. Im not going to tell you her age because that wouldnt be polite. She works at the same hospital I do as a Pharmacy Technician. Her last trip was in the late 80s before the opening of MGM. She went with Susan (Lances sister), her mother, sister, and nieces. They stayed onsite at one of the condo-type resorts and had a wonderful time except for the fact that it was July and was very, very hot.
Taylor- Beautiful daughter of Lance and Tracy. She will be 4 years old at the time of the trip and attends preschool while I work. This is her first trip to WDW and from being around her mother so much she is developing an obsession to all things Disney too. She is looking forward to getting her picture made with Pooh and Mickey .
Zach- Nephew of Lance, son of his sister Susan. Zach will turn 7 years old shortly after we return and is in 1st grade. He has never been to WDW either. As soon as he saw Space Mountain and the Tower of Terror on the planning video, he said, Im going to ride that, and being the daredevil he is, I know he will.
The Big Decision:
As I said earlier, my first trip was in 1976. I have always wanted to go back someday but the opportunity never presented itself. In October of 1998, I got a very early Christmas present of a Gateway computer with Internet access. I immediately started looking up different vacation spots that I thought it would be neat to visit (such as Nashville and Branson) and sent of for all kinds of free brochures. Well, one day when I was home from work sick and bored, I decided on a fluke to look of the WDW official website just to see what they had to offer. Needless to say, within 2 hours of searching this site, I just knew I had to go and take my daughter there. Of course when I brought the idea up to Lance, he said it would cost to much money and that we couldnt afford it. Then I reminded him that he had always said that he wanted to use our tax return one year to go to Hawaii. I also brought up the fact that we could probably go there a lot cheaper than it would cost to go to Hawaii for a week and we would have a lot more fun because there was a heck of a lot more to do at WDW anyway.
The quest for more information:
Now that I had the Disney bug, I began to search in earnest for any information I could possibly find. I bought guidebooks and spent hours searching the Worldwide Web. Some good sites I have found from my hours and hours of surfing (besides this wonderful site of course) were Deb Wills site (www.wdwig.com) and the Disney Information Station (www.disneyinfo.com). I know I have probably spent thousands of hours surfing for Disney info when I should have been doing housework or spending quality time with my child. Anyway, I am somewhat of a compulsive planner anyway and I can safely say that I have learned a lot of valuable information from all my research. Its a shame that I didnt spend this much time studying when I was in school.
The perfect time to go:
When it was finally decided that we would go, I thought we could go in July during the yearly General Motors shut down. Since we live in south Mississippi, I figured the heat couldnt be any worse there than it is here.
Lance surprised me and said that he would rather use vacation time in go in late winter when it wasnt so hot. That was fine with me. We have spring break in Mississippi the second week of March. We knew that most states had their spring vacations closer to Easter and since Easter is the end of April we figured it wouldnt be very crowded. Lets hope I am right.
The Length of our trip:
Since we hadnt been in a long time, we knew we would need at least 5 days at the WDW parks. Since Taylor and Zach are such fans of Nickelodeon, Rugrats and Barney, I really wanted to spend at least 2 days at Universal Studios, especially since the new Island of Adventure is open now too. I also wanted to go to Seaworld because Lance is and avid outdoorsman and the kids are crazy about sharks and dolphins and I thought it would be something else they would all enjoy. We decided we would spend 10 nights in Orlando to give us ample time to see as much as we possibly could. We plan to spend 6 days at the WDW parks, 2 days at USF/IOA and a day at Seaworld.
How are we going to get there:
When we first started planning this trip, we decided that we would drive. Brookhaven is about 650 miles from Orlando. Then one day I heard on TV that Southwest has direct flights from Jackson,Ms (about a 45-minute drive) and New Orleans (about a 2-hour drive) every day. We figured it might be cheaper to fly than to drive and then stop along the way and sleep. Well, we just didnt get the move on fast enough. I searched the Southwest website and they said they had a roundtrip special from New Orleans to Orlando for about $125 per person. When I called the 1-800 number to inquire I was told most of the flight s down there for March 1st were full and that there were no return flights home the day of March 11th or 12th. Needless to say, if you want cheap airfare, start searching the Web and calling airlines as soon as you possibly can. You may even get a good deal. I did subscribe to the Southwest price special e-mailing list and I get sent a list of all the specials about once a week. I did check other airlines, but Southwest was usually $50-$100 less than the other airlines, and most of them dont have very many direct flights. As of now though, it looks like we are going to drive. We plan to depart Brookhaven on the evening of February 29th and start driving. Lance will have worked the night before, so he can sleep all day and be rested. Hopefully, the kids we fall asleep and it might actually be an enjoyable drive. We might stop in Tallahassee if we get to tired and drive the rest of the way the next day. It mainly depends on how the kids behave though.
Where we are going to stay:
The onsite/offsite controversy begins again. I believe that since I have never stayed onsite before that I will really not know what I am missing. If it was just the three of us and it was a short trip, I wouldnt mind staying onsite (even though in my own personal opinion, I believe that you get a much better deal offsite). Because there are 5 in our party, 3 of them being adults, 2 of them married to each other, I rented a house offsite. I really dont think that the kids will need an afternoon break anyway. Taylor takes a nap at school every day so if she gets tired she can take a nap in her stroller. I have yet to see Zach get tired because he has got to have more energy than all of the adults on the trip put together. The house has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a full kitchen, a washer and dryer and a pool. I just do not believe I would enjoy my vacation too much in a crowded hotel room for 10 nights. We can do laundry and have space to move around. The house was $85 per night, which I believe is an excellent deal for all we are supposed to get. It will also make it easier during the morning rush to have 2 bathrooms and a kitchen were some can be eating breakfast while others are getting ready. Ill let you know how well this works.
What are we going to eat:
To save money, I have planned one sit down meal per day. We can eat breakfast at the house most days, then have a leisurely lunch about 1:30 in the afternoon. I have planned several character meals for several reasons, the first being that they are buffet and should have something that all the members of our party can find to eat, the second being they are all you can eat and I always tend to take that very seriously, and the last reason being that I hope to convince the kids that if we are eating with Mickey and Pooh that we shouldnt have to chase them all over the parks for pictures and autographs when we could be standing in long lines. We are hoping to stay within a food budget of about $75 per day for the 3 of us. I also have a Magic Kingdom card that I hope will get us a few discounts here and there.
I plan to fill my new electric cooler and Lances new ice chest with snacks from the discount grocery store before we leave. Since none of us are big eaters though, I think we will do all right.
NOTE: If you havent noticed by now I am somewhat of a tightwad. I just cant justify spending more money on a vacation than I have to. When we first started planning this trip Lance wanted to stay within a budget of about $2,000. Well, that went out the window a long time ago. I hope we are able to go for about $3,500 now though. From what I have read on the Internet though, compared to what other people are spending on our vacation, Ive done pretty go so far.
What are our plans after we get there:
This is our tentative itinerary as of now. When I follow this up with a full report later on, it will be neat to see how close we actually stick to this. As I said earlier, we plan to spend 6 days at WDW, 2 days at USF/IOA, and a day at Seaworld. Therefore, we have purchased 6 day hoppers (using the MK card of course), 2 day passes to USF/IOA, and we plan to purchase our Seaworld passes from AAA (my mother-in-law has a card, another good money saving device may I add) before we depart.
The Lewis Family 10 day Orlando Itinerary:
Day 0-Tuesday-February 29th: Lance will work the night of the 28th. Tracy will work all day on the 29th. Sandra plans to take of at lunch so she can pick up Zach ( he lives in a town about 20 miles away) as soon as he is finished with school. School as usual for Taylor. The plan is to leave here by 6:00 p.m. and drive to Tallahassee to spend the night. Since Tallahassee is about 495 miles from here, I figure we will arrive there about 2 oclock in the morning. If Lance is still holding up though, we might just drive the rest of the way to Orlando.
Day1-Wednesday-March 1st: Drive the rest of the way to Orlando if we are not already there, find the rental home, swim in the pool and get settled. We have a PS for 7:00 at the Grand Floridian for 1900 Park Fare character dinner. Hopefully, if we arrive early enough, we will have time to drive around WDW and find out where everything is.
Day2-Thursday-March 2nd-Universal Studios: We plan to be at the entrance at rope drop, which is 9:00 I think. My main goal is for the kids to enjoy all the Nickelodeon Studios attractions and for Taylor to see Barney. I really havent studied these parks as much as I have the WDW parks so I really need to do my homework before we go.
Day3-Friday-March 3rd-Island of Adventure: I picked this park for today because I was afraid if we did it before USF, the kids would get bored there. Zach is anxious to get in the Jurassic Park section and Taylor wants to ride the Cat in the Hat ride.
Day 4-Saturday-March 4th- Seaworld: I believe this is a good weekend park because it can accommodate a large number of people in the attractions and maybe we want have to wait in line to long and because I hope to finish this park considerably early because we will need to get up early for the next days plans.
Day 4- Sunday-March 5th-Animal Kingdom: I plan to be at the gate at 6:45 for the 7:00 rope drop with 2 sleeping children and run to the Safari ride as quick as we can. After this, I hope to stroll the park and see the attractions at a more leisurely pace till it is time for our PS at the Donald Duck character breakfast. I really want to see the Lion King show and maybe ride Countdown to Extinctsion. We will probably have to do a baby swap for the bug show because I think it will scare Taylor to death. I hope to finish this park today.
Day 5-Monday-March 6th-Epcot: I really believe that there will be very little in this park that will hold any of our interest for very long. I believe other that Spaceship Earth and the boat ride, Taylor and Zach will be bored out of their minds. I hope they will be able to participate in some of the kidcot stations at World Showcase. I also plan to buy a passport for Taylor to get stamped to so she will have something to look forward to at each country. We have a PS at the Garden Grille at 1:30 for lunch with Mickey. I hope to be through with Future World by then so we can tour World Showcase in the evening. I plan to stay here till 8:00 or until no one can take it anymore.
Day 6-Tuesday-March 7th-MGM: I believe that there will be a lot in this park for all of us to enjoy. I have the feeling that it will take at least a day and then some to do all the things in this park we want to see. My favorite Disney movie of all time is Beauty and the Beast so if just see that and nothing else I will be happy. We have PS at the Sci-Fi Caf for lunch. Closer to the trip, I hope to get a schedule of show times for this park so I can make a tentative itinerary for this park so we want miss any of the shows.
Day7-Wednesday-March 8th-Magic Kingdom: This will be the day Im sure Taylor and Zach have been waiting for most of all. I plan to make the Dumbo dash at rope drop and get this and the Teacups out of the way first thing today. I have the feeling that we will open and close the park today. I plan to let this be the day we see all the parades and shows. We plan to have lunch at the Crystal Palace with Pooh and the gang.
Day 8-Thursday-March9th-Make up day: We plan to take things slower today. We plan to go back to AK, MGM or Epcot and finish doing the things we think we still need to do or redo some favorites. I havent made a PS for this day because I really dont know where we might be. Since this is early entry day at MK, we plan to avoid that park today.
Day9-Friday-March 10th- Magic Kingdom: Our last park day, boo hoo. I thought it was only fitting that we spend our last day at MK. My main goal is to ride the 3 mountains if we havent already. This will be the day we hopefully avoid the long line rides while everyone else is eating and watching parades. To finish our day, we have a PS for Chef Mickeys at 8:00 for a late meal.
Day 10-Saturday-March 11th- Drive home. We have PS at 1900 Park Fare character breakfast at 9:30 am, then the long drive home. We will probably arrive home after midnight. Then time to plan the next trip.
Now that were home, this is what actually happened.
Day 1 and Day 2, February 29-March 1, The day we left and the day we got to Orlando: Work as usual for me. Lance took off the night before because he wanted to finish up a few last minute task around the house. Sandra took off that day and picked up Zach as soon as he got out of school. By the time I got home from work by about 5:40, they had the car loaded and the kids were running around wild in the yard from excitement. I ran in the house, changed my clothes and we drove out of the yard at 5:50.
The kids didnt argue too much. Lance told them the first one to pick a fight with the other would be riding on the roof to WDW. That seemed to work for about an hour. We stopped in Diamondhead, Mississippi about 8:00 for a later supper and to let the kids run around on the playground. Well, at least we got to eat and use the bathroom because the playground was closed. We were back on the road by 8:30. I figured that we would have to stop every 15 minutes for Taylor to go to the bathroom, but she did pretty well in that capacity on the trip down and back (more on this later). Anyway, we ended up pulling over about 10:00 just east of Mobile, AL at a truck stop for another potty break. We pulled over again at 12:00 in Chipley, FL at a connivance store for another potty break and to buy gas and some bottled water. About this time I asked Lance when we were going to stop to spend the night. He said he had decided not to stop. I told him he would regret that. Anyway, we drove some more. I think we stopped again around Marianna, FL for another potty break. After that the rest of the trip to Orlando is mostly a blur. I tried to stay awake so I could keep Lance awake but ended up dozing off from time to time. A few times, it seemed like he was a little too close to the edge of the road for my own sake. At least there werent very many cars on the road where would have to worry about him hitting somebody. By the time we got to Lake City, FL I could tell he was getting very sleepy. We started stopping at every rest area between there and Orlando and he would take about 15-minute catnaps. Zach fell asleep at 11:00 and never woke up till morning. The highlight of the trip for him was to get to sleep in the car. He thought at first we were going to spend every night in the car. Taylor usually woke up every time we stopped wanting to go the bathroom.
We ended up arriving at the rental home about 6:45 AM Wednesday morning. Apparently the landlord wasnt expecting us that early. He hadnt put the electronic lock on the door yet. Im sure he didnt appreciated Lance calling his house at 7:00 in the morning. His wife was there within 15 minutes with a key though.
The house was beautiful and suited our needs perfectly. It had 3 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms. The master bedroom had a king-size bed and a very nice sized bathroom with a big bathtub. That was nice to come home to after a long day at the parks. The other 2 bedrooms had 2 single beds in each room. All the bedrooms had nice sized closets with lots of hangers. There were lots of towels and bed linens but there was only one washcloth in the whole house so I went and bought some at Wal-Mart. The house was very clean and well kept. It was decorated very nicely all the walls were painted white and the carpet was a pretty sage green color. It looked new. The house was only about 5 years old. The swimming pool was very clean and Zach jumped in first thing even though it was only about 64 degrees outside and the pool wasnt heated. The kitchen had a full size refrigerator with an icemaker, dishwasher, garbage disposal and microwave. There was a table and 6 chairs and a bar with 2 stools. The washer and dryer were in the garage and were put to use every day during our stay. The house was perfect for the five of us. We all had our own space at the end of the day after being in each others faces all day. We were very comfortable. The only thing that I could find wrong was that the hot water heater was kind of small therefore if the first person stayed in shower to long, the second person may have had a cold shower. The second thing was that both the toilets backed up sometime during our stay, but I think that was more user error than the blame of the plumbing if you know what I mean. The house was located about 20 minutes from WDW and about 30 minutes from Universal. Lance said he would love to stay there again. Even though we had to buy gas about 3 times because of the drive back and forth everyday, it was still a better deal than staying at one of the All Stars resorts at WDW. I never once felt I was missing any Disney magic, especially the last night when I was standing outside the Contemporary and saw one of there shuttle buses loaded to the rim with guest when all I had to do everyday was get in my car and go.
Anyway, we all unloaded the car. Lance went to sleep in the bedroom while Sandra and I unpacked and stuff. We brought a lot of stuff. We drove down with a luggage rack and a big cooler filled with snacks. The back of the Blazer was so full of other junk we couldnt see out the back. Sandra said we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies when we pulled out of the driveway. I can only imagine what went through the minds of the people we passed on the interstate. The kids played in the pool for a few hours. We went to the Publix supermarket that was about 3 blocks from the house and bought milk and sandwich stuff. Back at home, we made sandwiches and then Taylor and I took a nap.
The first tragedy of the trip happened when a very large vase that was in the foyer of the house got broke. Taylor and Zach were both standing there when it happened so we didnt know who to blame. I was just praying that it wasnt a sign of thing to come. Needless to say, before the end of the trip we had been to about a dozen stores looking for one to replace it and we never did find one. I had the feeling we were never going to see our security deposit again.
We had a 7:00 PS at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian. We left the house about 4:00 to do some exploring. First we went to the Kissimmee visitors center and got some brochures. After that, we went to Downtown Disney and looked around a bit. First we went to the Rainforest Caf and looked around. They were having a birdshow when we got there. We looked around the gift shop a few minutes. I had hoped to eat here sometime during the trip but that was never to happen. About this time Taylor had to go to the bathroomw, so we went to McDonalds. It was a very interesting place to look at. It was probably one of the biggest ones I have ever seen. Next, we went to the Lego store. The sculptures were very impressive. After this, we went to the World of Disney Store. This place is huge. As soon as we arrived Zach and Taylor started doing the but me this thing. Sandra bought Zach an autograph book and a pen since he didnt have one yet and she bought Taylor a pen with a Mickey head on top that lights up. She also bought both of them Mickey Mouse ears, which is a must have for any WDW vacation.
We arrived at the Grand Floridian about 6:30 and checked in. The characters were Belle, Beast, Cinderella, and the Mad Hatter. Beast was greeting guest in the lobby. I was afraid that Taylor would be afraid of him but she ran right up to him and got her book signed and picture made. I got my book signed and my picture made too. Beast was very playful. When I wasnt paying attention, he snatched my sunglasses of my head. I asked if I could have them back. He nodded is head no and pointed at his nose. I asked him if that meant he wanted a kiss. He nodded his head yes. The Beast got a kiss and I got my sunglasses back. Lance got a picture of that.
We were seated about 6:55. The restaurant was very nice but had a somewhat laid back feeling. It was full that night. The buffet was nice and I think everyone found something they wanted. There was a salad bar, prime rib baked fish, mashed potatoes, and an ice cream machine. I really cant remember all the food that was served that night. Beauty was the first one to come to our table. She was very sweet. I thought she was very good with all the children. I noticed that she got all of the little girls to stand in the chair next to her and she hugged then all up close and posed for pictures with them. She called that Zach the little prince and wanted to kiss him, but he wouldnt let her. Cinderella was next. I didnt think she was a friendly as Belle. I was glad I got to see her though because I didnt expect her to be at this meal. I thought it was supposed to be Peter Pan and Captain Hook. The Mad Hatter was a riot. Taylor has never seen Alice in Wonderland, and when she saw him she was so shocked she spilled chocolate ice cream down the front of her dress. He played his character wonderfully. He even had the lisp down perfectly. I think he ended up being on of Zachs favorites. Taylor and Zach were so excited the whole time they were poorly behaved. I felt so sorry for the people around us. I could tell the waiter was ready for the kids to get out of there. If you were one of those people and you are reading this, Im sorry my children behaved the way they did. I told Lance to be sure he left a big tip.
After our meal, Zach was just itching to ride something, so we rode the monorail all the way around one time. It was a nice way to end our first day. I enjoyed seeing everything all lit up.
We ended up getting home about 8:45. I stressed to the kids that it was very important we go to bed early and get to the parks early to see as much as possible (am I a commando or what). I didnt get to bed until 11:00 though. I had to get everything ready for the next day, such as packing the backpacks and stuff. It was an O.K. first day. I was just so happy to be there. I just prayed that the kids didnt show out anymore.
Day 3, March 2nd, Universal Studios: I got up at 6:00 and tried to get the show on the road. We ended up leaving the house about 8:05. I was so glad because I really wanted to get there before it opened.
That didnt happen. We got lost. We missed a turn somewhere along the way that was supposed to get us onto Interstate 4. We ended up getting there about 9:15 (I mean we REALLY got lost). I ran in as fast as I could and ended up running off and leaving the family. That ended up happening a lot, much to Lances disgust.
When we got to the gate Zena was there posing for pictures. She was about 6 inches shorter that Lucy Lawless though. I figured they would have more characters roaming around the park. I bet we didnt see a total of 10 our 2 days at these parks.
After a bathroom break, we went straight to the Hanna Barbara ride. I read somewhere that if you want to prepare kids for motion simulator rides that this is the one to start them on. It was about a 15-minute wait. Taylor was a little intimidated by it. I thought I was going to throw up.
Next we went of the Nickelodeon Studios tour. This was O.K. if you are into their programs and really care about was goes into the making of a TV show. About 10 minutes into the tour, Taylor had to go to the bathroom. That was the end of the tour for us. We got to see everything the part when the kid gets slimed but I really didnt care to see that anyway.
After our next bathroom adventure, I made Taylors picture in front of the slime fountain (that probably not the proper name), and then we sat on a bench and waited for Sandra and Zach to come out of the tour. I went into a nearby gift shop and asked where we could go to see some Rugrats. She said to ask a girl in a green t-shirt. I did. She went through a gate marked employees only, came back and said Chuckie would be out in 10 minutes. We waited and Taylor was 3rd in line. He acted as shy as the Chuckie on the cartoon. Taylor was thrilled.
Zach was itching to ride something again. We walked down the street and saw that Twister only had a 15 minute wait. We decided to take Taylor on because I heard there wasnt really that much to it anyway. Big mistake. Between the thunder, lightening, fire, fake rain and flying plastic cow, it scared her to death. This ride ruined her on rides for the rest of the day. I thought it was stupid. It really isnt even a ride in my opinion. All you do is stand there and watch a fake tornado then the risers you are standing on drop about 6 inches and thats it.
Zach wanted to ride something else. We walked down the street some more. By now it was about 12:00 and everything had about a 30-minute wait. By the time we got to the Jaws ride it only had about a 15 minute wait so we got in line for this next. Taylor had to go to the bathroom and didnt really want to go on this anyway. We got out of line, found a bathroom, mixed up some Kool-Aid in our water bottles, (that tasted nasty), then sat on a bench that was not in the shade and waited for Sandra and Zach. It was probably about 20 minutes before they finally came out.
I decided that it was time to find something that Taylor could enjoy, so we went to the Beatlejuice show next. I thought it was really good and the performers were very talented. It was a bit on the loud side though.
Next, I wanted to see the Barney show. I raced to the theater, leaving my family behind again, and the show had already started. We decided now would be a good time for a lunch break. We ate at Mels Diner. I think we all had burgers and fries. The food was pretty good. After lunch we decided to split up for a while and then meet up at Fivels playland about 4:30.
We went to the next Barney show. I think we all enjoyed that. At the end of the show, the kids can go up to the stage and meet Barney. Taylor got to give him a big hug and I got it on tape. That was the highlight of her day. I wish they had more shows like this with character interaction for the little kids to enjoy. A Rugrat or Blues Clues show would be an excellent idea.
After the Barney show we just went and hung around at Fivels playland till time to meet Sandra and Zach. Taylor and I played in the Curious George ball factory for awhile and the Curious George goes to town-you get very wet play area. We also rode the Woody Woodpecker roller coaster with about a 15-minute wait. I wish I had brought her bathing suit and a towel and we could have stayed there all day. This is a very nice area for the smaller kids. The ball factory was real neat.
Meanwhile, Sandra and Zach went to the Terminator 3 attraction. She said it wasnt anything great, just clips of the movie in 3D. They went in a few gift shops and looked around so Zach could spend the money his mother gave him. There really wasnt anything else he wanted to ride.
We met up about 4:30. Sandra and Zach rode the roller coaster too. I wanted to go to the Blues Brother show. On the way out of the kid area we saw Yogi and Boo Boo. Taylor got hugs and autographs from both and them and Boo Boo danced a little dance with her.
The Blues Brothers show was kind of hard to find. I didnt know it was a street show. When we got to the area where we thought it was supposed to be, there were a lot of people standing around but I didnt know what they were waiting for. I asked a CM who was just standing there where the show was. He said, in a very cocky sort of way I might add, that I was about the 10th person to ask in the last 2 minutes and what did I think all these people were waiting around for? I thought that was very of rude of him. After all it is his job to answer questions. Anyway, the show was excellent even though I ended up missing the first 5 minutes because Taylor had to go to the bathroom. The singing waitress was real good. I got most of this show on tape too.
By now I was itching to ride something. We decided to ride the Back to the Future ride next. Taylor and Lance waited outside. There was about a 10-minute wait. Big mistake. I felt really sick when I got off this one. It was a very good attraction for the most part, it told a good story, but all the shaking got to me.
We decided to call it a day after this. We started heading toward the exit. The Mardi Gras parade was about to start in about an hour and the streets were already filling up with street performers and spectators. We walked through the Lucy museum on the way out because I have always been a big fan of hers. It was interesting to look at.
It took about 20 minutes to get to the car. We saw our first drag queen of the trip on the moving sidewalks. I guess he (or she) was coming to City Walk for the Mardi Gras celebration.
It was a long drive home. At least we didnt get lost. I was craving a big salad so we decided to go to the Sizzler for supper. This was a nice restaurant with a big buffet. There was a lot of stuff for the kids on their on separate bar. The waiter we had was very good.
Lance decided that we needed to get a new stroller. I had just bought one at K-Mart the weekend before but after pushing it around all day, he decided he had to get one that would better accommodate tall people (hes 63, Im 510). We went to Target and found one after about 30 minutes of searching.
So now we own 3 strollers for 1 kid.
We got home about 9:00. By the time we all got baths and I wrote my down my trip notes, it was already 10:00. What a long day. By the time I was ready for bed I had a horrible headache and still felt like I was going to throw up. I was still feeling the effects of the Back to the Future ride. Sandra got some motion sickness patches before we left. She put one on me and the next 3 days it made a big difference.
IMPRESSION: I thought Universal was a nice park. This was probably one of the least crowded parks we saw the whole vacation. It is mostly suited for older children and adults though. The maps they gave you at the entrance werent very good. I kept getting lost in this park. We probably wont go there next time. We will probably wait until our children are older or if they add more attractions for smaller children.
Day 4-March 4th-Island of Adventure: The day for me started again at 6:00. Everyone else followed and we were out of the house a little about 8:20. Today though we had to buy gas on the way there and that made us end up getting to the park about 9:25.
The minute Zach saw the Hulk coaster he wanted to ride it. Sandra told him you had to be 12 years old to ride it. As the trip progressed, anytime this situation came up, the age limit increased. By the end of the trip you had to be 16 and 6 feet tall to ride Rockin Roller coaster.
We went to the Spiderman ride. We all got in line for this. It already had a 30-minute wait that early in the morning. I decided before the trip that on any of the rides I wanted to try, I would stand in a line with a 30-minute wait or less. I stuck to this rule pretty good. Anyway, after we had been in line about 15 minutes Taylor started to cry and said she didnt want to go there. So Lance and I went out the emergency exit and waited outside on a bench. I went and made pictures of her in front of the water while we waited. She made friends with a little boy from England that was about a year old and hugged and kissed on him for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, there was a school group of little boys nearby. They were about 8 years old. One of them started throwing up in the storm drain. I asked one of the ladies with him what he rode to make him so sick. She said he had ridden the Hulk coaster and then he rode the Doctor Doom drop ride. I bet he didnt ride anything else that day.
Spiderman was out posing for picture when Zach and Sandra came out. Zach posed for a picture and got an autograph. Taylor didnt. Shes not a Spiderman fan. Im sure that was one of the highlights of his trip.
We headed through Toontown next. This place made me feel as if I was walking through the Sunday comics. I wanted to ride the Island skipper tour. I thought this would be more in Taylors league. When we got to Jurassic Park, Sandra asked where the boat ride was. He said right over there. When we got in line we found out it wasnt the boat ride we had in mind. This was the Jurassic Park River Adventure. We took her on it anyway. Big mistake. The combination of mechanical dinosaurs and darkness scared her to death. Getting wet didnt help either. We decided to separate after this. Lance, Taylor and I headed to Seussland. Sandra and Zach stayed and explored Jurassic Park some more.
Seussland was right up her alley. We rode the merry-go-round first. Then we rode One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish. That was about a 30 minute wait. Next we rode the Cat in the Hat ride. Taylor started crying in line because she thought it was going to be scary. I thought it was cute. I probably would have got sick on this one to if I didnt have my patch. After the ride, the Grinch and the Cat in the Hat were outside signing autographs. Taylor got to see the Grinch first. He is just as ugly in person as he is on TV. Right after she got in line for the Cat in the Hat, he went on break. We never got to meet him.
We were hungry by now. I made sandwiches for our lunch today. We went and sat at some tables at one of the snack bars. At first I felt guilty about sitting there and not buying anything, but a few minutes later a school group sat down and the ALL had a picnic lunch. There were probably as many people with picnics as those who bought their lunch in the park. I didnt see any sign anywhere saying we couldnt bring our own food.
After lunch, we went and walked through the play area. It was definitely for short people. After this, Taylor rode the merry-go-round a few more times. We were supposed to meet Sandra and Zach so we just hung around and waited for them. When they showed up Taylor, Zach and Sandra rode the fish ride. Lance and I waited for them in the shade and drank a Coke. It was very hot today for March. I think it was about 85 degrees.
Next we headed toward Toontown again. We passed Woody Woodpecker on the way and the kids go to meet him. As we were passing through Superhero Island, I noticed that Sandra wasnt wearing her backpack. I asked Lance were it was. He asked her where it was. She almost fainted. We started running toward where we saw Woody because that was the last place she saw it. There it was on a bench. I guess she had left it on the ground and had gotten distracted by the kids and walked of and left it and some honest person picked it up and left on the bench for her to find. It probably hadnt even been there a total of 3 minutes. All the contents were still inside, untouched. She was so relieved. It is good to know there are still some honest people in the world.
By now, this whole side of the park was packed. We wanted to go to Toontown in hopes of riding the Ripisaw Falls ride and checking out the boat play area. Ripisaw Falls had a 74-minute wait. Sandra and Zach got in line while me and Taylor went to check out the boat. It was kind of crowded and very easy to loose your kids in there. I tried to get out of there quick. We ended up just sitting out in the hot sun and waited for them to come out. I bet they ended up waiting about 90 minutes for a 2-minute ride. We finally found a little shade about 15 minutes before they came out. There was a tour group of teenage girls from Argentina who were all laying on the ground outside the ride waiting for the rest of their group who I guess where also on this ride. The heat must have gotten to them too. Boy and was it hot. All those concrete sidewalks and the absence of any sort of shade didnt help.
Finally, the emerged from the ride. Of coarse, they were soaking wet. Sandra said they waited in line so long that a little girl in line behind them wet her pants. We decided after this to just call it a day. The heat had just wiped us out. On the way out we stopped at one of the shops to buy some souvenirs. I got a T-shirt and an insulated cup. I really dont remember what everyone else got. Sandra had already bought Taylor a T-shirt at one of the Jurassic Park shops.
We dropped Sandra and the kids off at the house so they could swim. Lance and I went to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things and then we picked up a couple of pizzas. We were all really tired today so we made an early night of it.
IMPRESSION: Island of Adventure was very nicely laid out. It was easier for us to find our way around from what the map said. Taylor enjoyed the kid areas very much. Zach loved all the Jurassic Park stuff. A family with older children could easily spend 3 days at these parks.
Day 5-March 4th-Seaworld: I got up at 6:00 and everyone else followed. We were at Seaworld probably by 8:45. It was about 10 minutes closer than Universal was. Upon entering the park we went to a viewing area with flamingos and sea turtles. While we were there a CM walked over and started showing the kids an empty turtle shell and explaining what the backbone was and everything. I noticed that most of the CMs were just as knowledgeable about sea life as her.
Next we went to the Key West area and looked at some stingrays and we went into the indoor viewing area that had a bunch of tanks of tropical fish. The kids thought this was neat.
The first Dolphin show started at 10:00 so we went to that next. We all enjoyed this. It is amazing how much they can get those animals to do. You can tell how much those trainers care about the dolphins and vice versa. The skit where they got a young girl to come meet the dolphins was real cute.
Pets on Stage was next on the agenda. This show featured animal tricks using dogs, cats, birds a very smart pig and some others that I cant remember. They said most of the animals were adopted from the Humane Society by Seaworld and then trained there. Its amazing what those animals could do.
The Shamu show started at 11:15 so we rushed over there. We missed about the first 3 minutes, but it was still a good show. Shamu is a very smart whale. He can nod is head yes and no and splash people on command. This was also a great show.
Zach was doing his got to ride something thing again. Since Wild Arctic was close by, that was the choice. Lance, Taylor and I sat on the bench outside and drank a coke. While we were there they brought the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales by. We enjoyed this because we all love horses.
After the ride, we decided to visit the horse stall. They are such beautiful animals. Taylor and Zach had their picture made with one. Next we walked through the Hospitality house to enjoy the air conditioning.
We saw the penguins and sharks next. It was neat seeing their simulation of the Arctic Circle with all the penguins playing around. It was even snowing into their little room.
The Clyde and Seymour show was next. This was Taylors favorite show of the day. This was a story about lost treasure using sealions and an otter. It was great.
We were all starving by now. Most of the eating places had very long lines. We should have brought a sandwich I suppose. We ended up eating at the Buccaneer Smokehouse. Everyone had the chicken except Taylor. She had the beef, but ate some of our chicken. We also had a group of birds who tried to join us. Do not feed the birds. They will never leave you along if you do.
Hawaiian Rhythms was next. All this show is was a bunch of girls hula dancing and a man singing Hawaiian songs. It was really just a plug for their Hawaiian dinner show they have every night. It was kind of boring; not to mention you had to sit on some very uncomfortable benches during the show.
We split up for a while after this. Sandra and Zach went to ride Journey to Atlantis. The rest of us went to the Intensity games. That was a waste of time. I thought it was a precision water skiing show. It was some kind of athletic competition where people from the audience are the judges. It was very disappointing. We probably would have left but the seats we were in made that difficult.
We met up with the others and decided to call it a day. We stopped at the gift shop and bought souvenirs. Taylor and I got matching T-shirts. I also got another insulated mug. I guess Im trying to start a collection. Taylor also got a Shamu puppet.
We got home by 7:00. I dont remember what we had for supper. I guess we ate left over pizza and sandwiches. I called my dad that night to wish him a happy birthday. He got a kick out of that. I stressed all day that we needed to go to bed early because we had to get up an hour earlier to get to Animal Kingdom the next day. Finally, we make it to a Disney park
IMPRESSION: Seaworld is a nice park people of all ages can enjoy. The sharklover in our party thoroughly enjoyed his day. Lance said this was his favorite park of the whole trip. This park was very large. We got lost several times. The way this park is made it can accommodate very large groups of people, usually the rides were the only thing that had any sort of wait. Zach enjoyed both of those. Sandra said the Wild Arctic made her feel queasy though. I guess her patch was starting to wear off.
Day 6-March 5th -Animal Kingdom: I got up at 5:00. I couldnt believe that I had gotten up that early in the morning to go to an amusement park. We were out of the house by 7:15. We made it to the opening gate by 7:45 and got to hear the opening ceremony.
Everything went according to plan and I ran to the Safari ride as fast as I could. We got on with a 5-minute wait. I videotaped the whole thing. Lance used a whole roll of film. He really enjoyed it but I wasnt very impressed.
We had a PS at 10:00 for the Donald Duck character breakfast. I decided we should head that way and then hit the attractions in between until time to be there. We came upon the Kali Rapids River Ride so the kids and I rode that. It was a walk-on. Taylor had suddenly became brave. Its amazing. The ride wasnt scarry through. You just get wet. We wore our rain ponchos. People passing us in line who were getting of the ride told us how smart we were. It really didnt matter though because we still got soaked. Especially Zach. Since there was still no wait when we got through, we rode again.
It was getting close to time for our PS so we started heading over there. Lance made some picture of the Tree of Life on the way. We got there about 15 minutes early. We had our picture made (which wasnt very good) and were seated right at 10:00. The characters were Donald, Mickey, Goody and Pluto. The food was pretty good. There was something there we all could eat. The characters were great. It was so good to see Mickey. He seemed happy to see us too.
Countdown to Extinction was next. There was a 30-minute wait posted but we rode in about 20. Taylor got scared on this ride. Imagine that. It wasnt what I expected. I thought it was some sort of indoor roller coaster. It was just a tram ride in the dark. It was very similar to the Jurassic Park ride at IOA, except there was no water.
The Tarzan rocks show started about 11:30. I thought it was pretty good. The performers were very talented. The gorilla was funny. We were all packed in that stadium like sardines thought. Lance and I didnt get to sit together.
We went to its Tough to be a Bug. This show was cute. The only thing that scared Taylor on this was darkness. I didnt like the preshow area. I felt kind of claustrophobic. Between being in the vegetated maze where I couldnt see outside or the crowded waiting room, it was almost too much. I was glad to get out of there. If you dont like enclosed places, this isnt for you. The show was cute though. From all my research I knew about the hornet sting though.
By now the park was uncomfortably crowded. We had really done everything now I wanted to but the Lion King show. We headed over there. It probably took us 30 minutes to walk over there. When we got there the 1 oclock show had just started. There was supposed to be another one in about an hour so we went to the Pocahontas show to kill some time and find a little shade. It wasnt anything great. There also wasnt much shade. At least it was a place to sit down though. The highlight for Taylor was getting a paper leaf.
We made our way back to the Lion King show. I hate the way they crowd everyone together in the waiting areas. Please move up so we can make room for more people. Those words were really getting to me by the end of the day.
Finally about 15 minutes before show time they let us in. I dont know why they tell you to show up 30 minutes before the show if you are going to have to wait out in the heat anyway. It was so good to get shade. We sat on the back row. I dont remember what section we were in. It was a good show, but I dont think I would wait out in the heat for it again though.
By now it was time to call it a day. We stopped of at the gift shop on the way out (are we seeing a pattern here?) and Sandra bought the kids some more stuff (I didnt know how we were going to get all this junk home). Lance bought me a gigantic coffee mug for my hot chocolate.
It was only about 3:30 by now. I really wanted to see the Boardwalk so we went over there next. It really didnt look like what I pictured Atlantic City looking like. We all had a shaved ice. They were good. The kids also had popcorn. The birds were very dangerous here. This is more of a retirement community in my opinion than a family place. We were about the only one with small children there. I felt out of place. W e stayed about 30 minutes.
I really didnt like having to go through to the hotel to get there since I wasnt a resort guest.
We called it an early night. We were just worn out. We had Kentucky Fried Chicken for supper. I think I went to bed at 9:00.
IMPRESSION: I got to do most of what I wanted to at this park. It was very crowded to where you could hardly walk. I would like to go back on a day when it is less crowded and explore the animal observation areas. We didnt get to see the boneyard either. The pathways are very narrow in this park. I felt this park wasnt planned very well for large crowds. I will say though, that other than Countdown to Extinction, the whole family can enjoy all of the activities at this park together.
Day 7-March 6th-Epcot: I got to sleep to till 6 today. Yeah!!! We got to the park about 8:50 and it was already open. I could tell this park was going to be crowded today by the hordes of people coming into the park.
I went straight to Spaceship Earth. There was a 5 minute wait posted but we waited 10. Taylor did really well on this ride. The scaredy cat curse was over. She never cried on a ride again the rest of the trip. We just kept telling her over and over it was make believe and I guess it finally sunk in. This ride was O.K. By now though all of the rides were starting to feel alike though.
We went to the Circle of Life movie next. It was very loud. It will make you think before you litter. I though it was smart the way they incorporated the Lion King characters to teach a lesson. The should make everyone who gets caught littering on the highways watch this.
The Living with the Land boat ride was next. It was O.K. If you are into gardening and horticulture. Of course, we were having lunch at the Garden Grille and it kind of bothered me to see where the catfish came from. They should leave that little tidbit of information out of the tour.
Food Rocks followed. This was a cute show. The little puppets were very talented.
We rode Journey to Imagination. It was O.K. The kids liked it. I thought it was similar to several other things we had already ridden
We went to Honey I Shrunk the Audience next. We had to wait about 20 minutes to get in. The snake scared Taylor to death. The special effects were good though.
By now it was getting close to our PS time at the Garden Grille. We went and checked in with about a 10-minute wait. The revolving restaurant idea is neat. This is a good way to see Living with the Land if boat rides make you sick. The food here was pretty good. Baked chicken, flank steak, grilled veggies, catfish, smashed potatoes, and bread with honey butter. The kids had chicken strips and macaroni and cheese. For desert their was apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. Zach wanted plain ice cream so the waiter brought him a bowl. Our waiter was really good. So were the characters. They were Mickey, Goofy and the chipmunks.
We decided to split up. Sandra and Zach headed toward Test Track, (they never got to ride though), the rest of went to the Living Seas. I thought it was just a place to look at aquariums. It was, you guessed it, another tram ride. It was actually interesting though. Taylor fell asleep in the preshow and slept for 2 hours in the stroller after that.
Meanwhile, Sandra and Zach did the Ellen show, Cranium Command and Body Wars. She said Body Wars made her queasy. The patches had about worn off by now.
Since Taylor was asleep and we didnt want to wake her up, we just headed toward World Showcase and pushed her around in the stroller. It wasnt really what I expected. I thought each country had their own pavilions with a film or something from their countries. Some of them did. Most of the countries were just gift shops and restaurants. I would have liked to have seen some of the live entertainment or movies but we couldnt take the stroller in. We didnt get to see the Millenium village. Off Kilter was performing and we got to see part of their performance. I noticed that 1 or 2 of the countries had the kidcot stations I had wanted Taylor to participate in, but they were all swarmed with children. Needless to say, she didnt get to do a passport book either.
We walked all the way around it in about 1 1/2 hours. I plan to spend more time in World Showcase next time for sure. You could easily spend a whole day there just watching the live entertainment and just poking around the shops and stuff.
We walked through a few gift shops and browsed, we didnt buy anything. We parked the stroller and waited for the other s to come back. Lance got up from time to time and walked around. I just enjoyed people watching. I made a picture of Taylor in front of the fountain. A lady sitting next to us offered to make one of me and her together. It came out real well.
They showed up about 5:00. Surprisingly, we didnt stop at a gift shop on our way out.
We went home. I really dont remember what else we did that night. By this time, all our days were running into each other.
IMPRESSION: EPCOT wasnt as boring as I thought it would be. Our whole family was able to do all the attractions together. I think there was a height limit on Spaceship Earth though. Small children may be intimidated by Honey I Shrunk the Audience. This is definitely a 2-day park or you could do it from open to close if you walk fast. This park is very large and can accommodate a large number of people. There were a lot of people there that day, but I never felt crowded like I did at Animal Kingdom.
Day 8-March 7th -MGM: I got up at the dreaded 6:00 and everyone eventually followed. We got there by 9:00. The park was already crowded that early.
I decided to get Zach on the Tower of Terror first thing. We walked straight to it and got on with a 10 minutes wait. I figured he would chicken out. He didnt. All I can say about this ride was that it was exhilarating. This was my favorite ride of the trip. It scared Zach to death. We looked at the picture afterwards and he had his eyes closed and it looked as if I was looking down at him and laughing at him. Later I asked him if wanted to ride again, he said no.
We split up after this. We decided to meet up at the Sci-Fi Caf at the PS time.
My family went to see Beauty and the Beast. This was a great show. It is very popular and fills up very quickly. I wonder were they find all these talented singers and dancers. I wanted to videotape it but my battery ran out about 5 minutes into the show. This will be a must do for next time.
We headed to the Great Movie ride next. There was posted a 30 minute wait and it was about that long. Of course of the Lewis family it turned out to be about 45 minutes. We got in line. Taylor had to go to the bathroom. We found the bathroom. Lance got an autograph from a green army man while we were gone. We got in line again. She had to go to the bathroom again. Lance took her this time. I ended up riding along. I didnt like that, it was very lonely. Anyway, I got the gangster side.
I was very discouraged that is was already 12:00 and we had only done 3 attractions. We headed toward the Sci-Fi caf. We walked past the character greeting area and got to see Eeyore and Piglet. We got lost looking for the restaurant. One good thing about getting lost is that you get to see a lot of interesting things you wouldnt get to see otherwise. It was a good thing it was awhile before our PS. At least while we were lost we got to see the Pizza Planet and all that area over there. We got there about 12:45 and just sat down. The others showed up at about 1:00. I tried to check in early but the rude host told me if I did that I couldnt use my PS. I just stomped out in a huff. I sent Lance in about 1:20 and got him to check us in. He did but it was still about a 15-minute wait. At least the kids enjoyed playing in the car out front.
We got seated about 1:45. Our waitress was very nice. We all had cheeseburgers and fries. They were kind of high but of course everything at Disney to eat is high. I know it was supposed to be a duplication of a drive-in, but it was too dark in there for me. It was hard to seen the menu and my food.
We got finished about 2:30. We decided to go do the Great Movie ride. It was another 30-minute wait. I got on the cowboy side this time, so it made the ride a little different for me this time.
We wanted to see the Little Mermaid show next but there was about a 45-minute wait. We got fastpasses for the first time of the trip and then headed to the Hunchback of Notre Dame. This show was excellent. Taylor and I sat next to the center aisle and we could see everything. The performers were very talented here as well. We have never watched the movie so it was a nice surprise.
Sandra, the kids and I went to the Bear in the Blue House next. It was a cute show. Apparently Taylor has seen this show before because she knew the names of all the characters. It was a good way to kill a few minutes. Lance was souvenir shopping nearby. He bought me some Tinkerbell earrings and Taylor a Tinkerbell necklace.
We went back to the Little Mermaid show. It was O.K. Good use of animation and special effects. You have to be a Little Mermaid fan to appreciate it though.
By now it was time to call it a day. We pondered Fantasmic but didnt feel like trying to keep the kids entertained for 2 hours. This will have to wait until they are older and have more patience.
I think we went to K-Mart this night and bought Sandra some Dramamine. I really dont remember anymore of the happenings other than that. I think I was on everyones back to go to bed early though because I wanted to be at Magic Kingdom on time the next day.
IMPRESSION: This park is very similar to Universal except that I think Universal had more for the kids to do. The map they gave you at the entrance was not very clear though. It is easy to get lost in this park. This park didnt accommodate crowds as well as Epcot. I noticed allot of the eating establishments had long lines as well. It was a good thing we had PS even if we did have to wait. Next time, I will try somewhere else though.
DAY 9-March 8th- Magic Kingdom: I jumped out of bed with great anticipation at 6:00. This was the day I had been waiting for. We left the house at 7:57 and arrived at 8:20. A lot of good this did though, because the monorail broke and it was almost 9:00 before we got inside.
To my surprise, it wasnt very crowded, yet. I was determined to do all the Fantasyland rides today. So we did the Dumbo sprint, (or I think that is what the called it in the guidebook anyway). The teacups had no wait. There were empty teacups spinning. So we rode them first. I got queasy. I told Zach not to spin them around or I would throw up on him. After our ride Taylor got to see Pluto (again) and got her picture made with Pluto (again).
By now Dumbo had a 30-minute wait. I decided to go ahead and get it out of the way. I think Dumbo must always have a 30-minute wait any time of the day. I told Zach to make Dumbo go straight in the air and leave him there because if I was going up and down and around and around at the same time it would make me sick.
The carousel had no wait so we rode this next. I guess I thought I could get the motion sickness rides out of the way first thing. I remembered riding this when I was here in 1976.
Peter Pan had a 30-minute wait posted so we rode it next. At least it was in the shade. Boy, Disney sure loves those anamotronic thrill rides.
Next was Its a Small World. This was a walk on too. Taylor liked but I think Zach was bored. It was exactly like I had remembered it. It might have even been a tad bit longer.
We rode Snow White next. It was a 30-minute wait. I think I rode this last time too.
By now we had rode everything in Fantasyland except Winnie the Pooh. It already had an hour wait. I decided we would come back later and do the fastpass because the fastpass time at 11:00 in the morning was already 2:30 and we were supposed to be at the Crystal Palace then.
We rode the Tommorrowland Speedway next. We probably waited about 45 minutes for this one. They should have had more of the little cars operating though. There were about 50 cars off to the side that were just sitting there. Disney take note. Taylor and Lance rode together and Zach and I rode together. I know never to let them drive a car about 10 or 12 years from now. Some other little boys car stalled half way through and that made a nice traffic jam. I bet it was at least an hour wait by now.
We headed over to Toontown next. This was a cute little place. We headed over to Goofys barnstormer next. This roller coaster is right about my speed.
We had a 15-minute wait. Rode the WDW Railroad next. Nice way to get a quick overview of the park. Also a quick way to get from one side to another. We should have utilized this service more to save our legs but it was kind of hard with the stroller. It was a very relaxing ride.
It was about 1:00 now so we headed toward the Crystal Palace to see if maybe we could get seated early. They took our names. I walked over to check out the Jungle Cruise and it was about a 35-minute wait so we just went back to the Crystal Palace and hung out. I t was a good thing we had PS because they were turning people without them away. Zach was wanting to ride something so he and Sandra decided just to go to Tommrrowland and hang out and get something to eat over there.
We were called in about 1:40. This was one of our favorite meals of the entire vacation. The characters were great, the food was great and the waitress was great. This will get a repeat visit from us. I love the way the characters can make that kissing sound.
After lunch we headed to the Jungle Cruise. This was the same as I remember from before. Our guide was excellent. She got Taylor to sit next to her when she got on the boat and paid special attention to her.
I wanted to ride Pirates of the Caribbean, but it was closed for refurbishment. Oh well, another must do for next time.
The parade had just ended by now so Taylor and I decided to give Splash Mountain a try. It had a 10-minute wait posted but it ended up being about a 30-minute wait. I really enjoyed this ride. We were in the back car and didnt even get wet. It wouldnt have mattered anyway since it was so hot.
We decided to give Big Thunder Mountain Railroad a try next. It had about a 30-minute wait. We waited that or more. This was a good ride too. The waiting area was very crowded feeling. Do not go in here if you are claustrophobic unless there is no wait posted. I bet it is horrible in July when it is so hot. They need to air condition in here. Disney take note.
Needless, to say this was an excellent ride anyway and it lasted longer than I thought it would. Taylor had her arms in the air for part of it.
By now I needed a break from lines and rides so we took the boat to Tom Sawyer Island and walked around. It was very peaceful but there wasnt that much to it. Aunt Pollys had just closed and one of the CMs was outside washing of the tables. He started kidding around with Taylor. To me, he could have passed for Tom Sawyers brother. He asked Taylor what her name was. She said Taylor Marie Lewis. He said, I think your name is Mazie Sue or something like that. He kept on and on. I got a kick out of that. Im sure he didnt get a kick out of the ducks using the bathroom on the table he had just washed soon after that though.
Meanwhile, Sandra and Zach ate lunch at Caseys Corner. They then rode Alien Encounter, Buzz Lightyear, Astor Orbiter, The Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad that afternoon.
It was getting close to time to meet the others so we headed to the front of the castle to make some pictures. Then we met them in front of the Crystal Palace. I noticed they were still turning people away. The park was really crowded today.
We were so tired by now. I think Taylor and I went to bed at 9:00 that night. It was time to sleep in for a change.
IMPRESSION: This park hasnt changed a bit from what I remember as a 5-year-old. I really thought that we accomplished a lot considering all the crowds and lines everywhere. This is definitely a 1 to 2-day park. Im glad we did the parks in the order we did though because I knew if we did Magic Kingdom first that the others parks might bore them some. On the other hand though, I sorted of hated saving this till last. I do think that Disney ought to find a better way to accommodate the crowds(I know this has been said a thousand times). They know that it is going to be busy at this time every year and I just believe they could plan better for this. If they could just throw in a few more trams and boats here and there that would help a lot. Of course, having Fastpass now is a step in the right direction.
Day 10-March 9th- Make up day: This ended up being rest day for everybody. I slept till 8 oclock. There was still a lot of stuff that I wanted to see at Epcot and MGM, but I just didnt have any energy left. I decided just to save a day on our passes and have something to look forward to next time. Another advantage to buying the hoppers I suppose. Zach played in the pool most of the day. That afternoon he and Sandra had to work on homework since he had missed 3 days of school. The rest of us headed toward the Beltz outlet mall.
As I said earlier, someone in our party had broken a vase in the foyer of the house. The guy at the management company told us that if something like that happened (something getting broke that might need to be replaced) we could just go buy whatever and then we wouldnt take it out of the deposit. So we went is search of a vase. I dont know where this one came from but apparently the owners of the home dont shop at the same places we do. We looked everywhere for one. I know we must have gone to 8 or 10 stores (mostly at night after being in the parks all day). Anyway, he told us to check at Burlington Coat Factory. Since it was on the way to the outlet mall, we went there today. They didnt have one either. Needless to say, we ended up paying for a vase.
We got to the outlet mall about 12:00. We went to the Character Warehouse first. We found a few things here, but nothing great. We ate a snack at the food court next. After our snack we went to Character Premiere. I dont think we bought anything here. When we were leaving Lance noticed they were building a Bass Pro Shop across the street. He was on cloud nine. Of course he fell of the cloud after we drove over there and the store wasnt opened yet. Another must do for next time. I really wasnt impressed with the Disney outlets though. I was just expecting loads and loads of stuff. That was not the case. For instance, if there was a purple Epcot shirt, they would all be the same size and there would be 50 of the same shirt. Both of these stores were packed though. I would probably return here on future trips just to see what else they might have though. Taylor got a t-shirt and a stuffed goofy from here. I also got t-shirts for my neice and nephew and I got a T-shirt for Zachs baby sister Ellie and his step-brother.
We went back to the house. It was about 2:30. I took about a 2-hour nap. Taylor played in the pool with Zach. Sandra turned out to be an excellent lifeguard the whole week. Lance may have taken a nap too.
Lance wanted to go to some of the camera shops he had seen on 192. He decided after making so many pictures we needed a better camera for our family. We went to a few stores but he thought they were overpriced. I wanted to go to the Super K-Mart on 192 (there are 2 of them, this is the first one you pass when you are heading east on 192 toward Kissimme. They had a big selection of those T-shirts with Disney characters on them that say Florida (the ones all the guidebooks say are NOT authentic Disney merchandise). These are very good quality shirt so I bought a few of these for Taylor and me. Lance went and looked at their camera selection and found a camera he had seen at one of the camera shops for about $150 less. He bought it.
We picked up supper at McDonalds. The fast food places are even more expensive here than at home. We started packing up to go home that night. Tomorrow would be our last day.
DAY 11-March 10th-Magic Kingdom again: Since we had PS at 8:00 tonight for Chef Mickeys so we decided to head to the park later that day in hopes of preventing a burn out. We left the house about 1`1:00. We parked at the Contemporary. It took a little coaxing to talk the security guard into this. I dont know why because we still had to pay.
We got to MK about 12:00. I asked the lady at the gate if the park was very crowded today. She said most of the rides already had an hour wait. Great.
We headed straight to Winnie the Pooh. It already had an hour wait posted. We got fastpasses for this. The time was 4:10-5:10. Since we hadnt
seen anything in Tommorrowland yet, we headed over there next. Some of us got hotdogs from a vendor. They were O.K., the same size you get at the grocery store.
Space Mountain had a 90-minute wait. Taylor wasnt tall enough to ride this so we just skipped it. Another thing to look forward to next time.
Buzz Lightyear had a 30-minute wait so I rode this with the kids. It was just another tram ride. Zach thought it was great. I scored 223,000 points, Zach got 23,000. I dont really know how I got that much though because I never really could tell if I had hit anything or not.
Next was Hall of Presidents. It was about a 10-minute wait for the next show. It was kind of interesting. I had forgotten the names of a lot of the presidents we talked about. This show needs to be a requirement for every 5th grader Social Studies student.
We headed over to Frontierland again. Zach wanted to ride Splash Mountain again. The wait was 45 minutes and I was stupid enough to say yes. Im sure we waited at least 45 minutes or longer though. It was another great ride though. It is one of my favorites.
By now the parade was coming through Frontierland so that had the street congested. I wanted frozen lemonade so we got one of those next. Boy was it good.
We split up next. Sandra and Zach went and rode the Haunted Mansion next. I really dont know how they spent the rest of the day.
Lance, Taylor and I went to see Country Bear Jamboree next. It was a cute
show. The bears looked kind of worn though. They need to be reupholstered or something. It was real cool in there though.
We walked toward the castle next. I wanted to make some pictures of it. We walked through the gift shop. It made me nervous being in there with a small child because I was afraid she would break something.
It was getting close to time for our fastpass at Winnie the Pooh so we headed over there. Fantasyland was really crowded. It was so great to walk past all of the people in the regular line and get in my honey pot. It was a cute ride. It was so shiny and new looking when you compare it to Peter Pan and Snow White.
By now, we were just worn out. We decided to call it a day. This was the end of the Disney parks for this trip. I wanted to take the ferry to the Wilderness Lodge and look around but we never made it. I really wanted a T-shirt, but I couldnt find one I really liked. Lance suggested that we go to the World of Disney one last time to kill a few minutes. Our PS at Chef Mickeys wasnt until 8:00 anyway.
We rode the monorail for the last time back to the Contemporary. After a quick bathroom break we went back to the car and drove to the Disney Marketplace. Time to relive the nightmare from the first night of the I want this but we didnt relent. I got my T-shirt and got the heck out of dodge. I think at this point everyones nerves were shot.
We decided to go back to the Contemporary and see if maybe they could get us in early. They could. We had about a 15 minute wait (take note Sci-Fi Caf). This was one of my favorite meals of the trip. The characters were great, the food was great and our server was great. The kids got a big kick out of the napkin-twirling thing. The only negative about this place was the rude people who came up to the characters when they were at our table and made pictures and got autographs instead of waiting there turn at there own tables.
After our meal, we headed home. We had a lot of packing to do. Boy we had a lot of stuff to pack up. I assumed that we would come home with less than we took. Wrong. I had almost everything packed by 9:30 so I went to bed for the last time in this beautiful rental home.
IMPRESSION: The park was very crowded today. I think by now though we were so tired we didnt care . People were waiting in line 10 minutes just for a hotdog. I guess Friday is a bad day to visit Magic Kingdom.
DAY 12- The day we go home: I got up about 6:30 and Sandra was already up and dressed. I guess she was really ready to go home. The others soon followed and we were packed up about 8:30. It was sad leaving the house for the last time. I hope we can stay there again sometime.
We stopped at Orange World to get some oranges and grapefruits for some our relatives at home. Im going to miss seeing that big orange everyday.
We got to the Grand Floridian about 9:00. We checked in and hung out in the lobby till we were called. The Mad Hatter was there again but it wasnt the same one as our last visit. Taylor decided for the first 10 minutes we were there she was scared of him today. She finally warmed up to him though and got another autograph.
We were seated about 9:30. The characters were Alice in Wonderland, Snow White, Mary Poppins, and Dopey. The food was very good. They had a bigger selection than the breakfast at the Animal Kingdom. They had the Mickey waffles I had heard so much about. The characters were pretty good. Dopey was the best. I noticed that some people who did not come to the breakfast hung out in a roped off area at the back of the restaurant that faced a lobby at the back of the hotel and waited for characters. I thought that was kind of tacky. Mary Poppins went there to talk to them and sign their books.
We left about 10:30. Apparently a lot of people were going home today. I-4 was very congested. I ended up falling asleep. I woke up about 12:15 and we were in Ocala. The rest of the trip home was pretty uneventful. Taylor made sure that we stopped at every other rest stop between Orlando and Brookhaven. The drive from Lake City, FL and Mobile, AL is a very boring drive. If you plan to ever drive this route, I hope you like trees, because there are a lot of them. We stopped in Marianna, FL about 3:30 at McDonalds and had a snack. We got back on the rode again and drove and drove and drove. We stopped in Pass Christian, Ms for gas and more snacks (a lot of good it did bringing our own). We got back home about 9:30 P.M. It was exactly a 12-hour drive. A very long 12-hour drive.
Before I end I would like to say that you are all very courageous individuals for sticking with it this long. Since we still have a day left on our passes, we hope to back again sometime. I have no idea when. Now that Im home though, I started getting a bug to go to California and go to Disneyland and some of the other stuff around there. Maybe we can go for our 10th wedding anniversary or something. Anyway, before I close, I would like to end with a few comments and suggestions that may help some of you who may also be planning a visit.
Comments and Suggestions from a semi-Disney pro:
The onsite/off site controversy: I didnt feel like I was missing the Disney magic at all by staying offsite. The only thing I missed was early entry, E ticket nights and riding very crowded buses back and forth to the park everyday. We wouldnt have been able to do early entry and E-ticket nights anyway because of the ages of the children. Give me my 3 bedroom, 2 bath rental home with the washer and dryer (that we used every day), and pool anytime. The drive home every night didnt bother me a bit.
But on the other hand, I would one day, maybe fly down for a long weekend of something and maybe stay onsite just so I could do some early entries and E-nights.
Character meals and dining: Character meals are kind of high compared to buffets at off site restaurants. Of course at the character meals usually had food that was superior to food at the off site places and there were characters there too. We probably wouldnt have seen any characters if we hadnt gone to these meals. I didnt see hardly any characters roaming the parks. They were usually at the character greeting areas with 30-minute lines. We never did see Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Buzz Lightyear or Woody. This will be a must do next time. I also hope to eat at some of the other establishments such as OHanas, The Rainforest Caf, and Beaches and Creame. I enjoyed all the food at all the Disney places I ate. The hamburgers at the Sci-Fi caf and Universal were very good. I plan to do Chef Mickeys at the beginning of my trip next time and the Grand Floridian on a night when I have time to dress up a little first. Chef Mickeys really puts you in the Disney spirit.
Make sure to make a PS though because if you go in the busy season like we did, you may not get in.
Crowds: The parks were very crowded, but Im sure they could have been worse. I really dont know when there is an uncrowded time anymore. Disney is trying to improve the waiting times with the Fastpass now though. They could still throw a few more trams on their tracks or more boats in their streams to maybe cut down waiting times. If we ever go again we will probably go in March again just so we can avoid the heat and having to take kids out of school for very much longer than I did this time.
To save money cook as much of your own food as possible. I know there is supposed to be a rule against bringing food into the parks, but I never saw a sign posted saying so. Some people brought picnics and ate them right out there in the open. There was a man in line for BTMR that was carrying a steel cooler right onto the ride. We took sandwiches one day and we should have done so more. Next time I will. We probably spent about $8.00 a day on drinks though. Ill take some pop to the parks next time too. We did take little snacks in our backpacks that saved the day several times with hungry children on the hand. We could eat while waiting in line and save a lot of time and money
Things we still havent done:
EPCOT: Most of World Showcase, World Showcase food, Test Track, Illuminations and The Ellen show and body wars.
MGM: Muppets, Rockin' Roller Coaster (if I get the nerve up) and Fantasmic.
Animal Kingdom: The dinosaur exhibits, the animal viewing areas and the train ride to the Conservation Station.
Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain and most of Tomorrow land, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion. I also didnt get to see any fireworks or parades.
My Favorite things:
Favorite Dinner: Chef Mickeys
Favorite Lunch: Crystal Palace
Favorite Breakfast: 1900 Park Fare
Favorite Ride: Tower of Terror
Favorite Moment: The look on Taylors face when she saw Belle and Cinderella.
Until our next adventure, good bye.