View Full Version : Stephen Simmons -- March 2000 -- Dixie Landings

Trip Reports
01-07-2007, 07:11 PM
Stephen Simmons -- March 2000 -- Dixie Landings

Trip Report - Pre Planning and Day 1

This trip report covers 6 days and will be in 6 parts. This part will cover the pre planning and the first day. You will see the word “first” a great deal in these reports as we experienced many “firsts”.

To start off I’d like to thank everyone who has posted information on RADP concerning Walt Disney World and Dixie Landings. I’d also like to thank to members of the radp-friends chat channel, especially Tigger-fan and Scout-mom. Finally a couple of web sites I’d like to mention for those of you who are in need……try Deb’s web site www.wdwig.com . For those of you who need useless information, try www.disney.com.

OK….the cast of this trip are as follows:

Me (Steve Simmons) known on radp as Main Street Magic. A former Disneyland CM (back when E Coupons were real).
Sherry, my wife of 28 years who is, thankfully, a Disney fan as well but the saner half of the family; and finally
Tom Damon, a good friend who was the one who decided we needed this trip, booked the room and flight and then sat back and let me do the little stuff. This is Tom’s second trip to WDW.
It should be duly noted that this is our first trip that we will be staying on Disney property (our first “first”). After many minutes of discussion (and watching one of the Disney videos) we decided to go with one of the moderate hotels. We decided on Dixie Landings and Tom called Disney to do the booking (yes, I know………don’t let Disney book the whole thing!….Too late!!! Next time we’ll know better). Next since we are flying down from Atlanta, we decided to use Disney transportation (more on this as each day goes on) and to get us from the airport to the hotel we decided on Tiffany Towncar (thanks Deb! - more on this later, too!). One of the package benefits we decided on was a free character breakfast so 60 days before we left I booked breakfast in the Castle in the Magic Kingdom. I also got tickets for a Sunday night for Cirque de Solei. Other than that we were going to play things by ear. OK…let’s cut to the chase and get on with the report.

Day 1 - March 15. The weather is warm (65 in Atlanta, 73 in Orlando).

The plan was to leave Atlanta, arrive in Orlando, get to the hotel and then since this was a day on our pass we were going to run over to Pleasure Island. As with the other trip reports you are about to read, plans never come to pass.

We leave Atlanta at about 6:55 flying on Air Tran with an estimated arrival in Orlando of 8:22. The flight smooth and we arrive a few minutes early and head to the baggage claim area to meet with our Tiffany Towncar driver. However, when we get there the driver is not to be found. For those of you who have never used Tiffany, the driver is supposed to meet you at the foot of the escalator as you enter the baggage claim area. So we searched the entire baggage claim area and after coming up empty I made a quick phone call to Tiffany asking where our driver was. I was informed that he was in the area. After a few minutes the driver showed up (Mike), and proceeded to lead us to his car (no he didn’t pick up our luggage and NO his car was not at the curb! We had to walk out to the towncar carrying our own luggage (again, more on this later!). After loading up we are off. We informed Mike that we wanted to stop at a grocery store to pick up a few things (for those of you who are unaware, Tiffany will give you ½ hour to pick up groceries on the way in). We picked up some juice and a few munchies and are finally off. As we approached the Disney property we were provided a view of the fireworks from Epcot. What a nice welcoming! Minutes later we finally reach the main office of Dixie Landings. Tom and Sherry get the bags while Mike and I handle the financials (we were lucky and got the “old” rate of $75 and I had the $5.00 coupon from the web). Mike leaves and Sherry and I wait outside while Tom goes inside to check in. After several minutes I decided to drop in and see how things are going.

Tom is still checking in so I decided to pull a little surprise on my wife, whose birthday was the week before. You see I had called down to Dixie Landings about a week earlier and talked to one of the Guest Relations CM’s (Shannon) and asked her what we could do for a birthday. Shannon suggested getting a card signed by the characters. Not a bad idea. So back to Tom and I standing in line. I asked if we could have something done for my wife’s birthday. The CM (Rolm) asked several questions (Sherry’s age - 40+ and her favorite character - Tinkerbell). He hummed something about fireworks and said that he would see what could be done. Having finished with the checkout we were handed our room keys (which were also our entry cards to the park and credit cards for the next 5 days) and we proceeded outside. It should be noted that we were not provided with the Sassagoula Times newspaper that Deb mentions in her web site. I had previously asked to have it mailed to me so I already had one. But one was never provided to us. We headed outside, picked up our bags and proceeded to find our room on our own. Here’s where we went wrong again. HEY !!!! Let the CM’s show you where your room is the first night. It will save you time (and the energy of carrying your bags around). Besides, you don’t have to tip since they won’t accept it anyway! We didn’t ask for anything in particular and were given a room in building 95 which is called Parterre Place. We were in the first building on the right as you face the main building. It is a short walk to the central building (and south bus stop!) so we really didn’t mind. We dropped off our bags and headed back to explore (which means we were hungry and wanted to see what was in the Food Court (Colonel’s Cotton Mill). We found the food court, immediately grabbed our refillable mugs and got a small snack for the evening. We decided there and then that this was going to be the end of the evening. No Pleasure Island tonight! So we wandered through the merchandise shop (Fulton’s General Store) and after scouting out where the bus stop was we headed back to the room for the night. For those of you who are interested, ask for a room in buildings 14, 15 90 or 95. Those are near the main building and near the south bus stop. The south bus stop is the first stop of four that make up Dixie Landings. If you use any of the other bus stops you might find that the bus will either be full by the time it arrives or you will be standing (which we had to do on several occasions anyway).

Plans for day 2? Sure - Head off for the Animal Kingdom as soon as it opens (8 a.m.). After that? Well, we’ll see how it goes. Are you still with me? Then head on over to Trip Report - Day 2. See you tomorrow!

Trip Report - Day 2 - Thursday, March 16 - The Animal Kingdom and Main Street Electrical Parade

The weather is….hey what do you think this is, the weather channel? Seriously, it is 75 degrees and as we found out for the rest of the trip, all the parks are crowded! It’s Spring Break, ya know?

We awaken at 6:30 and get ready to head off to the Animal Kingdom. We get out the door at just a little after 7:30 and head for the bus stop. Watch the signs overhead on the south bus stop. Make sure that you are on the proper section (either Mason or Dixie) Yes; it does take about 15 minutes for a bus to arrive. We find out how the bus goes around Dixie Landings to the other three stops and then off across the property to the Animal Kingdom which is the furthest theme park from Dixie Landings. It takes approximately 15 minutes to arrive at the front gate. Our bus driver reminds us that the pickup point for the return trip is the furthest one from the gate (we will find that the bus stop for Dixie Landings/Port Orleans is the furthest one at ALL of the theme parks). We enter the front gate and begin our trek immediately by heading off to Africa for the Kilimanjaro Safari. We did make a few quick stops for several things along the way (watch out for the “grape vine” near the main entrance) and a few pictures of the Living Tree. Considering that I had already put my zoom lens on my camera I couldn’t take any real good pictures of the tree yet. Those will be later. As we got to the Kilimanjaro Safari, we noticed that it is a 45-minute wait (no we didn’t get in the park at 8 a.m.) so we tried Fast Pass for the first time. It was about 8:25 and the Fast Pass time frame was 9:10 to 10:10. So we learned how to insert our cards (upside down with the magnetic strip to the left!!!!!) and decided to get a little breakfast from the Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery, which is nearby. A croissant and coke later we are off to wander up the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. I watched my watch and a little way through we turned around and headed back to the Safari to see just how Fast Pass works. It was 9:05. Would they make us wait five minutes? Nope. Showed the first CM our Fast Pass and proceeded down the empty line past the rest of the guests. On and on. Geez, this is great. Look at those people over there in line. Finally we reached the loading dock. That took all of two minutes. Did I mention yet how much I liked Fast Pass? Our driver on the Kilimanjaro Safari was Mason and he got major points from us. Now they claim that they are not supposed to stop for any reason. Well the animals were out today. In fact we were stopped at one occasion while a giraffe came very close to the truck. The best part of the trip was the elephant watering hole. There were two elephants actually taking a bath. It reminded me of the Jungle Cruise except this was real! Thanks to Mason for stopping there as well. The lions were on top of the rocks pretty well hidden. Yes, we caught the poachers near the end of the ride <g>.

Once off the Safari we walked back through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail skipping the portion that we had seen earlier. Once through there we headed over to Asia and didn’t need the Fast Pass for the Kali River Rapids ( it was marked as a 10 minute wait). I wasn’t too thrilled about getting soaked but what the heck. As we stood in line Sherry and I took out our rain ponchos we brought with us. Tom kept laughing at us. Other people who saw us kept saying things like “Look! They came prepared!” Having ridden on something similar to this at Six Flags I was sure that the rest of the day would be “squeaky shoes day”. I was mildly surprised that there was a water-proof container in the center of the raft where you can put your shoes and other belongings. Hurry though, because others are trying to do the same and there’s not much room. You might bring a bungie cord too to hold down the top of the container. So you are probably wondering how wet you get. Well, Tom got soaked. Thank goodness for the ponchos. It is a guaranteed thing that you will get wet. Not just a sprinkle but soaked so be prepared. On a hot day that may be a good thing. Note that there aren’t too many places when you get off where you can sit to put your shoes back on either. From there we wandered up the Maharajah Jungle Trek to see the tigers. They were pretty much sleeping but I might have gotten several good pictures. We left Asia and headed down to Dinoland to do the Countdown to Extinction. Again we grabbed a Fast Pass and having an hour we ducked into the Restaurantosaurus for lunch. Yeah, I know that it’s sponsored by that “Golden Arches” place, but it was close and we were hungry. The hamburger wasn’t that bad. I’ve had worse on Disney property in the past and since one of the things that Disney has never done well as far as I am concerned is French fries, well, this was an improvement! (Ah, I hear some of you now already categorizing me as a real gourmet). Well, we rest and head back to Countdown to Extinction. Another quick entrance (less than 5 minutes) and we are in! Yes, Fast Pass is the Only Way to go! What a ride.

Out of there we decide to take in It’s tough to be a Bug since the line isn’t too long. In fact we almost walk right in. Quite the cute attraction. I just loved it when all the bugs “left” at the end of the show <g>! Oh yeah, I almost forgot. It is very easy to get lost in this park. Remember that you enter Tough to Be a Bug from the Africa side of the tree. You will find that the exit is on the Asia side. It is very easy to get “lost” here as we found out several times. The paths are small and winding and the bushes tall. Often there are very few visual aids to assist you. Don’t hesitate to ask a CM how to get somewhere. In fact, there are CM’s just standing around to answer questions and assist lost travelers. Coming out we stopped at a small store so that Sherry could crack open an oyster to get a pearl.

From there we headed over to Camp Minnie-Mickey just in time to catch the Festival of the Lion King. We had heard everyone say that if you did one thing to see that and we agree. Don’t pass this show up. No it isn’t anything close to Lion King but it is entertaining. Once we were out we decided to take a few pictures and then headed for the exit. No, we weren’t rushing or anything and yes we were out of the park well before closing time, but we weren’t into shopping and didn’t need to see Tarzan so we decided to head back to the hotel for a bite and then onto the Magic Kingdom to catch the Electric parade.

We got into the Magic Kingdom at about 6:00 for the 7:30 showing of the Electrical parade. We saw that people were already claiming their “spots” so we headed over to get one of our own. Usually we park ourselves in front of the City Hall near the exit so we can be out first after the parade. However, since they were still using that as a path to the exit we instead settled down on the hub directly in front of the Fire House. We waited while the crowd grew around us. This was Tom’s first time to see the Electrical parade but he had heard the music many times from me playing it around the house. I have many memories of it from the past and have many pictures from several previous trips with my family. It still brought chills down my spine when the opening began. Tom took many pictures and when we got back to the hotel he immediately turned in the film for processing. We grabbed our mugs again (they have paid for themselves by now) and begin planning Day 3, Epcot. Be prepared because we still have the Test Track, and much more to come. Oh wait…before you go, some general comments concerning the Animal Kingdom. The walkways are not that large and are very winding. Because of the bushes and large amounts of foliage, it seemed that it was hotter in this park than in any of the others. We had water bottles with us that I refilled several times to keep us somewhat cool. The crowd was pretty large, also, which made it somewhat difficult to get around. Never again will I visit during Spring Break! ….. See you tomorrow

Trip Report - Day 3 - Friday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day - EPCOT (we all know that it stands for Every Person Comes Out Tired!!!!)

Once again the weather is in the high 70’s and the crowd is large.

OK. Once again we begin the day at 6:30 with the intent of getting to EPCOT on an Early Entry day. Once again we head out the door about 7:30 and once again the transportation bus is slow. We get to EPCOT about 8:15. No biggie. Again we find that we are on the outer end of the bus loading dock. A walk and a half to get to the main gate. As we enter EPCOT we approach what we call “the graveyard”. Boy are those things ugly. They sure take away from Spaceship earth. We immediately head over to Test Track to find…….(you guessed it)….It’s not working!!!! Oh well, we decide to go get something to eat over in The Land to find….that we can’t get over there because we didn’t make preferred seating. So we just drop into the Fountain View Espresso and Bakery. Finished there we wander through the Art of Disney checking out some of the new collectibles which we need to pick up when we get home. Then we head down to Spaceship Earth for a quick one. Once out of there we check out the pins. I really don’t like some of the shades that they have added around. They keep you from getting photographs of Spaceship Earth. Well, we do no find anything to purchase (today) and we see that Test Track has opened so we head over to pick up a Fast Pass. Well, we have an hour to kill so we then go over to Universe of Energy. From there we wander through MouseGear looking for a tie that we saw a CM wearing earlier. From here we head over to the Land and after taking the trip around Living with the Land we head over to The Living Seas to walk through that again. I see that we can bypass the film now (thank goodness) so that’s an improvement. We spend some time in here so that Tom can reminisce about his last trip here. You see last time we came he participated in the Dive Quest (that’s where you can spend extra money and actually go swimming in the Living Seas. He said that the Living Seas looks a whole lot better from the inside and insists that things have changed since he was here last. Surfacing we see that it is time for the Test Track so we go over there and finally get in. By the way, did I mention just how much I really like Fast Pass??? What a rush the Test Track is. It starts out slow but sure is great when it gets outside. Just who was driving, anyway? From here it is out to the World Showcase. We almost stop in Canada to eat but decide instead to do another “first” and check out the Rose and Crown. What a delight. We all had the Fish and Chips. Tom and I each had some green beer to celebrate the day. From here we doubled back and wandered through the Millennium Village. We all agreed that it was not anything that Disney put together. What a waste of space. None of us were impressed. Coming out we headed over to France and as we passed by I realized that it was near time to catch the Statues. Having never seen this we hung around until “she” came out and posed. It was quite comical how she reacted to each person who posed with her. Moving around the world from right to left, we now came upon Japan. Here we watched the Matsuriza drummers, walked through the mechanical dolls exhibit and then Sherry had to go get another pearl so we went inside the Mitsukoshi Department Store to open another oyster.

From here it is a quick walk to the American Adventure. We could hear the singers inside so we ducked in thinking we were going to catch the next show. As the American Vybe finished, we were disappointed to find out that the American Adventure was down so out we went. We wandered past Italy and walked through the stores in Germany and noticed that it was getting near time for the first of the Tapestry of Nations parade (well, it was about 5:45 so we decided to sit down on a bench right in front of the Hummel shop. I noticed the large doors where the parade would begin/end so we knew we were in the right place. I ran off to get us some drinks while we waited. Finally we were welcomed by the sounds of the ticking clock and it was time for the parade. What a wonderful parade. And what a spot to see it. We actually got to see the parade twice from where we were, since it started and passed right in front of us and then we got up and moved about 10 feet so that we could see the parade as it also finished at the same gate. The only thing lacking from the parade was all the CM’s that you see in the advertisements on Disney television and in their video. The puppets are fantastic and some of the performers can really get into the music with them.

After the parade we decided that we needed to see it again and also needed to catch the Illuminations 2000, so we continued around to China. We stopped there to catch the Pu Yang Acrobats perform. Then we settled down in a spot that we determined looked to be good for both the parade and the fireworks. And we were not disappointed. The parade passed by and Sherry and Tom both were really getting into the music now. I was sitting on the railing along the waterfront holding down our spot while they enjoyed the parade again. After the parade they moved over and we all enjoyed the wonderful presentation of Illuminations 2000. The only complaint we all had was of the projection of the images on the globe. Some of them were hard to see. With the fireworks over we joined the crowd as it worked its way out of the World back into Future World. We still had to stop in some of the shops for a few items before we left. Once out the front we headed for the bus and finally found our way back to our room. A quick trip to get ice (which is another small problem I have with Dixie Landings) and we sit and plan for day 4, The Magic Kingdom. It’s going to be a crowded Saturday, but I’m sure we can fit you in so come along with us! See you there.

Trip Report - Day 4 - Saturday - The Magic Kingdom & Pleasure Island

Once again the weather is in the high 70’s and the crowd is large. It looks like we might get a little rain today.

We have a 9:45 priority seating in Cinderella’s Royal Table so we decide again to get up at 6:30 and get into the Magic Kingdom on the early entry to get as much done as possible. Perhaps I should have consulted a map or asked what would be open before we started because our plan of attach was to do Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain first (ha!) and then go over to Space Mountain. So we head out and catch a bus. Today the bus was almost prompt. We are dropped off in front of the Magic Kingdom and we immediately head up Main Street heading towards Frontierland. Yeah, I hear you screaming at me now. IT’S NOT OPEN YET!!!! Argh! Well, having had most of the crowd beat us towards space mountain we head over to get a Fast Pass for Space Mountain. Again we have an hour so we double back and see that ExteraTerroestrial Alien is loading and there is no wait so we jump inside and catch it. Leaving it we cross over and do my favorite, the Timekeeper. Coming out we head over and jump on Space Mountain. It took us 2 minutes to get to the front of the line. Did I mention how much I really enjoy Fast Pass? We quickly head over to Splash mountain and see that if we grab a Fast Pass that the return time will be about 11:15 to 12:15. What a deal! We can go eat breakfast and still have time to get back here so we head back to the castle for our meal.

We stop off and notify the front desk at the castle that we are here for our breakfast. They usher us inside to wait. Inside is the Fairy Godmother signing autographs for all the kids. This breakfast is really designed for families as the characters we will be seeing are Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Princess Jasmine and Aladdin in addition to the Fairy Godmother. While we waited downstairs, I checked out the surroundings. If you are into details, look around carefully. If you are alert, you will find Gus and Jacques up on one of the walls watching the Fairy Godmother. After several minutes we are announced (“Lords and Ladies, Presenting the Simmons Family”) and taking our ticket we head the winding staircase. Note for those of you who might need it, there is also an elevator for your use. We are greeted upstairs and led to our table. Our waiter greeted us, took our request and proceeded to present us with our breakfast. It is all you can eat, but none of us got past the first plate. Fresh orange juice, coffee, milk to drink and then the plate of scrambled eggs, potatoes and some kind of donut thingie along with both sausage and bacon. All of it delicious. Watch your orange juice, however, as soon as you drink some of it someone appears and refills it quickly, just as they do with the coffee. We watched as the characters played the room. It appeared that they took their time going across the room and we almost finished our meal before they even got close to our table. You could tell that they were near the end of their shift as they seemed rather rushed with us (yeah, I know we are three adults) and they also seemed rushed with a few of the other tables around us. But they did attempt to take time to have their pictures taken with us and talk to the children around us. Our meal finished we head downstairs to head back to Splash Mountain.

We arrive at Splash Mountain and enter the Fast Pass line. Past the throng of people waiting in regular line. Upstairs and almost down to the front. I don’t remember but did I tell you just how much I really really enjoy this Fast Pass idea? Well, I should have used my poncho again because I got caught on one of the splashes as the ride progressed so today I was the one who got wet. Once out we thought that we’d see about Thunder Mountain but it was down so we thought we’d wander over to see the haunted Mansion. We got over there and saw that there was quite a line and having been spoiled by Fast Pass we decided to pass up the Mansion (Sherry was really taken back when I suggested passing it up, but the Magic Kingdom was really crowded and I didn’t feel like standing in line at all). So we basically just wandered through Fantasyland (seeing that the lines for most of the attractions were up to one hour in length). When we reached Tomorrowland again it was decided to head down Main Street and go back to the hotel and rest up for the evening. So we wandered down the empty stores on Main Street (buying absolutely nothing), boarded our bus and headed back to our room. When we entered we found the birthday card for Sherry. She was quite surprised and quite happy. It was a lovely hpotograph of Cinderella’s Castle with the fireworks behind it and signed by Tink! It was still rather early so we all collapsed for a quick nap. After an hour, I woke up bored, as did Tom so with Sherry’s permission we took off to explore the hotel grounds.

We entered the main building and Tom first wanted to check out the game room. Finding his favorite game broken we left and in passing Guest Relations I stopped in and met Shannon, who was the CM who I talked to about having something special done for Sherry’s birthday. Shannon had something else up her sleeve and asked if we were early risers that she would have Goofy call to wake Sherry up. Even though we were, I knew that Sherry wouldn’t answer the telephone. It was then that I was struck with another plan. I suggested that Shannon give us a half an hour and then have Goofy call. So Tom and I wandered around, going over to the island to check out the swimming pool and all. Watching my Mickey Mouse watch, I carefully timed it so that Tom and I returned back to our room just minutes before the suggested time. Sherry was awake, laying on the bed reading. We discussed our adventure (without mentioning Shannon) and was discussing what we had planned for the night when the phone rang. Tom and I both looked at Sherry as she was closest she picked up the phone. A grin began to appear on her face as she looked as us saying…”It’s Goofy singing Happy Birthday to me”. A good laugh was had by all.

It was almost 5:30 and we were beginning to get hungry and decided to go over to Pleasure Island and eat there. This time we decided to take the river boat ride to get there so off we went. We get over to the dock and get in line. We are in the first group which should get the next boat. As the boat docks, the skipper looks at us and says “your skipper will be here in about 7 minutes”. Well it is 5:45 so no biggie. Well, 6:00 rolls around and no skipper. What is this going to be, a three hour tour? The first skipper shows back up and jumps into the boat and gets on the radio. As he leaves the boat he says that our skipper is just around the bend. Lo and behold a small boat appears with our skipper, Bill. Bill docks, and has us board the boat. As we pull away from the dock a second boat shows up. Once again we are held up by transportation. But we shake it off and sit back to enjoy a leisurely cruise to the Market Place dock..

We arrive at the market Place dock and immediately head for Tom’s favorite restaurant, the Raintree Forest. When we got up to the counter we discovered that there was a two hour wait to get in so we decided to make other plans. We weren’t really wanting to eat at Fultons’ Crab House or at Portobello so we ended up at the Wildhorse Saloon, since there was no waiting there. We had dinner there and then proceeded immediately to the Adventurers Club in Pleasure Island. Sherry and I had been in here for just an hour on our last trip and I had heard so much about what goes on in here that we had to check it out for a longer period. We entered and went downstairs and I immediately found us a seat in the Mask Room. After ordering some Jungle Juice’s and catching the side show in the Mask Room we entered the Main Room for the initiation. Then off to the side room for a sing-a-long with Samantha. Back to the main room again and then back into the side room for what Tom called the Boasting contest. I won’t go into detail except to say that we were all feeling no pain and enjoying ourselves by this time. It was getting late now so we decided to leave the Adventurers Club (we will return on another trip) and head back to the hotel. We find the bus stop (it kept moving on us) and the bus driver delivered us back to Dixie Landings. Another day in front of us at MGM with whatever we decide for the evening. It looks like it might rain tomorrow. Perhaps that will scare away the Spring Break crowd. Before I leave you, some general comments again.

Today was the largest crowd that I have seen in the Magic Kingdom in many a trip. Once again we decide that March is not a good time to visit. Thank goodness for Fast Pass or we wouldn’t have seen anything (except the people around us in line). It was very odd seeing kids running around Pleasure Island (and in the Adventurer’s Club). Sure they were with their parents, but personally we felt that there shouldn’t be any small ones in there. It is bad enough all day long having to dodge strollers (or adults swinging folded up strollers around) throughout the theme parks. Give me someplace where we don’t have to worry about kids. Speaking of “adults”, it reminds me of the second night of our trip. We were inside the general store while Tom was submitting his film to be processed. There inside the store is a parent playing catch with his son across three aisles with a rubber ball about the size of a large softball. Now the adult is tipsy (to put it mildly), carrying what appears to be a drink in one hand while tossing this ball to his son, over several rows of souvenir glasses, etc. His partner is standing in line nearby purchasing, you guessed it, another six pack! I am amazed at how stupid this looks and how dangerous this could b. My wife notices and, remember I said she was the sane one, she decides to see if she can stop this so she deliberately crosses between the man and his son and when the man tosses the ball she turns and makes a comment about how he might break something. The man turns to my wife and says, “Hey, lighten up, it’s ok. This is Disney!”. Oh well, there’s one in every crowd. We decided to leave the store before something happens. That was it. Sorry. See you Tomorrow at MGM….

Trip Report - Day 5 - Sunday, MGM and Cirque de Soleil.

Once again the weather is in the high 70’s and the crowd is large. We will get rain today.

We come to the day I have not been looking forward to and yet I was. It is the day I have to ride RockNRoller Coaster. Neither Tom nor I are big coaster fans. We had tricked Tom on our last trip into riding on Space Mountain so we were sure he wouldn’t do this one. Read on to find out.

Since we had been on Pleasure Island the night before we didn’t get up as early today. In fact, we didn’t get motivated until about 8 am. Once up we headed out the door and off to catch the bus. We arrived at the front gate and proceeded immediately up the street and turned down Sunset Blvd following the crowd. Once again we grabbed a Fast Pass for the RockNRoller Coaster and once again we had about 50 minutes so we wandered down to the bakery to get our morning refreshments. Finishing those we wandered through some of the stores, and finally headed back to RNR. Once again we breezed past the queue and into the “studio”. I was really impressed by the pre-show. It almost looked like Aerosmith was really there. So the doors open and right in front of us is where the “limo” is launched from. As we stepped into the room one of them shot off into the dark. I uttered something about how fast it looked. So did Tom. Both of us are really reconsidering why we are in line. I remember thinking that if there had been a “chicken door “ that I just might have used it, but I did make a promise a long time ago that if Disney ever had a roller coaster I would ride it (now I don’t consider Space Mountain a roller coaster, nor Thunder Mountain). So we follow the line around and we finally board our “limo”. I remember thinking “what was I thinking when I made that promise?” when suddenly we are shot off. I can hear the three of us screaming our heads off throughout the ride. Just like I read, I am thinking that I got through the first inversion without even knowing that I was turned upside down. But there are others and these I can see. Well, the ride finally ends and as I get out I am reminded how I felt the first time I went on Space Mountain and the first time I did the Tower of Terror. Let’s do that again! That wasn’t that bad! Even Tom agreed! But we wanted to do Tower so we hopped over and grabbed a Fast Pass for that. Now we have another hour to kill so we walked over and went right into Star Tours and then into the Muppets and caught that show. I pointed out the key under the mat to Tom (that’s just as you go in, on the right side just past the turnstiles. The window has a sign that says “out to lunch. Key under mat.” If you pick up the mat, you will find a key! Then inside, we pointed up to and said, “Look, A Net Full of Jell-O” (say it fast and think of a former Mousketeer). We were escorted into the theatre and enjoyed the show. Then we went over to the Animation tour (which has reversed directions since we last were there) and enjoyed that. However there wasn’t anyone working today so that was pretty much the same as always. Once out we headed back over to the Tower of Terror and let them drop us. And drop us, and drop us, and drop us…..(well you get the point). Having escaped from the elevator, we decided that we had seen everything we wanted so we went back to the bus to head back to the hotel. We had a 9 o’clock show of Cirque to see and we wanted to get something to eat and then catch the show. But it was about 3:30 and we had some time to kill. Tom had passed up purchasing the Millennium CD in Epcot and we had been looking for it everywhere to no avail so he wanted to go back and get it. I had some ideas of my own, so we left Sherry at the room and caught a bus back to Epcot. We found Tom’s CD outside in the gift shop, but we were curious so we went on into Epcot to see how long the line for the Test Track was. We stopped at the central kiosk and saw that the wait time was 120 minutes. So I asked if he could tell me if Test Track was still on Fast Pass. The CM informed us that there were no more Fast Passes for the day. So I had something else up my sleeve. I told Tom I wanted to get a few pictures of Spaceship Earth but wanted to do it from the Monorail. I mentioned that there might be a possibility of riding up front with the driver. So out we went and headed up the ramp of the Monorail station. I checked with the first CM I found and he told me that there was a three-train wait to get in the front. That was for traveling to the Transportation Center. So I told Tom we would just catch the first train and ride in any of the cars and then when we got to the Transportation Center we would turn around and ride back to Epcot. This was we would get the straight on view of Spaceship Earth. Tom agreed so we hopped aboard. When we arrived at the Transportation Center, sure enough we went down the ramp, turned around and back up the ramp and were the only ones on the station waiting for the next train. I asked if we could ride up front and we were immediately escorted to the front of the train. Tom immediately begins finishing off a roll of film by taking pictures of the train console, outside the train looking back, down the track, a picture of me, and finally he needs to change film. He gets all of this accomplished and we still haven’t left the station. Finally our pilot, Jim arrives and just before leaving two more lucky people join us up front. Tom takes a picture of Jim behind the console as we depart. Jim is great and provides lots of useless information about being a Monorail CM. He describes how he controls the Monorail to the other passengers and tells of playing “chicken” with the birds that like to sit on the Monorail track in front of the trains. The ride is not very interesting until it gets close to Epcot. Oh the view of Spaceship Earth is better than I imagined. I sure hope that those pictures turn out. I took several as we turned to face Spaceship Earth and then as the Monorail turned inside Epcot and came back to the station I took several more. Tom was clicking his camera as quickly as well. We arrived at the station and headed down for the bus having felt great accomplishments. We were back in our hotel room taking only 90 minutes to get all that accomplished.

We puttered around the hotel and at 6:15 took off to go over to Downtown Disney. We were planning to get something to eat there prior to the show. The tickets for Cirque recommend that you arrive 30 minutes prior to the show so we figured we had plenty of time. So we waited for the bus. And we waited. When the bus finally arrived, it was crowded. And there was a crowd on the bus stop impatiently waiting for it, too. Talk about a “slow boat to China”? At every stop the driver had to get out of the bus and walk around. It took us until 8:05 to get to the West Side of Downtown Disney. I think we got the scenic route to get there. I mean Downtown Disney is just down the road. We’ve had shorter rides going over to the Animal Kingdom, which is on the other side of the property!! So much for grabbing something to eat. We walked through the Cirque Store and finally the doors opened so we immediately headed for the snack bar and grabbed something to eat and drink. Now with our hunger satisfied, we head inside to see where our seats are located. We are in section 205 row EE. Not really bad seats. Come to think of it, there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. The show is 90 minutes in length with no intermission. It is very entertaining and the performers are very good. When the show finished we headed out for the bus stop to find a group of people waiting ahead of us. One lady mentioned that she had been there for almost an hour with only one bus passing by without stopping since it was completely full. So after about 15 more minutes our bus finally arrives and we board and head back to the hotel. Coming up - The final day. A Last romp through Animal Kingdom before we leave. Thanks for staying with me this long. See you tomorrow.

Trip Report - Day 6 - Monday - Pack It Up - Time to Go Home, But Wait! Let’s Hit The Animal Kingdom One More Time!

Once again the weather is in the high 70’s and the crowd is large. We will get rain today.

We are up at 6:30 this morning having packed most everything last night. A quick run through of the hotel room and we are ready to get out. So we take our luggage and head for the central office again (HEY! WHY NOT LET THE HOTEL STAFF DO THIS NEXT TIME!!!!) We had the CM store our bags and turned around to see the bus heading towards the bus stop. For once we decided to run to catch it. We get on the bus and it is crowded so I had to stand for the trip to the Animal Kingdom. Out of breath from carrying my bags and then running across the parking lot to catch the bus. Whew! For the first time we actually get to the front gate before 8 a.m. Tom wants to do lunch in the Raintree Café here later. We immediately head up towards Africa and we get to the rope drop just at 8 am. So, along with the crowd, we walk slowly towards the Safari. We get there and there is a 30 minute wait already and the Fast Pass is for 8:45. What the heck, let’s go get something to eat again, so we use our Fast Pass again. We head over to the bakery again but this time we run into trouble. We are one of the first people in the bakery and Tom decides to use plastic to pay for his food. Wouldn’t you know it, the printer that prints out the receipt breaks and hangs up their cash registers. It takes them 20 minutes of running around to fix the problem. The CM’s in the bakery cannot use either register because they are both locked up. Even their supervisor from the back is confused by this. Finally after several attempts he gets them up and running again, Tom gets his cappuccino and two other people behind me get waited on before I do because of the way that the CM’s behind the counter wait on people. So after some complaining I finally get some food and we head to a table. Finishing our quick meal we head back to the Safari.. We are on the Safari in a Flash. Once again I just love Fast Pass. We are lucky in that we are sitting right behind the driver again, just like the first trip. However we have a different driver today. It is not as active of a day as it was our first trip. The animals were out but laying around near the back of their areas. We did see some cheetas today which we didn’t see on the first trip but the highlight of the trip was when we neared the lion area. The male was out standing on the rock as if it was Simba on Pride Rock. What a wonderful photograph. Well, we got off and headed down to catch It’s Tought to be A Bug again. This time it is really crowded. I took many pictures of the tree as we went around in the rain. (yes it finally started to mist). On leaving Bug we headed over to the Countdown to Extinction again. We grabbed a Fast Pass and had another 45 minutes to kill so first we walked back to the Raintree Café to see if we could make lunch reservations. We fought the crowd to get back to the main entrance and waited patiently while the CM was finishing up seating for breakfast. We asked when the first opening would be for preferred seating for a party of 3 and we were told 3:30!!! Geez, we’ll be at the airport by then. So we had to pass up eating at Raintree. Perhaps next time. We walked back to Countdown and still had 20 minutes to kill so Sherry went off to take a break and Tom dashed into a nearby store for “something special”. When our allotted timeslot came around we boarded Countdown. We had the front row and after the ride all of us commented on the fact that the front is bumpier. It was on the way out that we found what that “something special” was that Tom had purchased. When we examined the photograph that was taken of us inside Countdown, beside Sherry was …. A dinosaur. Tom had purchased one of those dinosaur hand puppets, and slipped it on during the ride. Then just where they take the photograph he reached around and tried to grab at Sherry with the puppet. Of course, in the action and flash, Sherry never saw it but it showed up quite nicely in the photograph!

Well, it was about 12:00 and our driver was to pick us up at 2:30 so we decided to call it a day. We didn’t want to risk anything so we just headed back to the hotel. When we arrived we first went back to the food court for a quick lunch. I then went over to Guest Relations to ask them to call Tiffany to be sure that our driver would be on time today. I was assured that Mike would be there. So we went back inside to rest. At 2:00 we decided to move outside where Mike had told us he would pick us up. We went out and asked the CM to retrieve our baggage. It was then that we learned that they don’t accept tips, either. So we sat down outside the baggage storage area and waited. At about 2:20 a limo drove up (not ours but a Mears limo. Honest, a real limo!) When the driver asked if we were his fare, another driver who happened to be standing by heard us mention our names. Turned out it was our driver. No it wasn’t Mike but a different driver from Tiffany. Eddie, our new driver, told us to stay put and he would bring the car around. He did, and loaded our bags for us and opened doors for us and was just everything that Mike had not been. 20 minutes later we were at the airport and got the same treatment there. Eddie was out the door, opening doors for us and making sure that we were on our way. He was very interesting to talk to along the way and made it so that I felt like using Tiffany again on our next trip. We checked in at Air Tran, headed for the waiting area. When we got there I watched the bags while Tom and Sherry went off on a food run. They came back with ice cream and coke. Yeah. What a way to end the trip. A quick flight back to Atlanta and it was over.

Some general comments about the whole trip:

Even though Tiffany Towncar messed up picking us up, they were on the mark when they delivered us back to the airport. Yesterday I emailed them about our encounter with Mike and received a nice email back from Tiffany Towncar apologizing for Mike and they have straightened out everything to my satisfaction. See you next time, Tiffany!
Our stay at the Dixie Landings was wonderful. The staff was wonderful. I really appreciated what Shannon did for us and have emailed Disney praising her and the rest of the Dixie Landings staff. We did comment on the transportation but that was the only sore spot.
It was Spring Break and if we had it to do all over again I would not have booked at this time. However we wanted to be sure we saw the Electrical Parade before it leaves in May. We were mildly upset that Pirates was being rehab’ed and that Thunder Mountain and the American Adventure in Epcot were down while we were there but we survived.
The weather was not too hot but we really felt the heat in the Animal Kingdom and somewhat in Epcot. I will have to agree with everyone that Saturday is truly not the day to see the Magic Kingdom.
This was a wonderful trip. We were spoiled by staying on property and if we can help it we won’t stay off property again.
Two final words…. FAST PASS!
Thanks for putting up with this. If I can answer any questions, drop me an email. ssimmons@eds.com. (by the way, Tom said he’d put together a trip report too. When I find it, I’ll let everyone know where it is.

Stephen (Main Street Magic) Simmons