Day 3, March 28th - Magic Kingdom (Planned and Actual)Go Back to Part 1
We almost always do the Magic Kingdom on Sunday morning and this trip was no different. Today (Sunday) was the last day on our old annual passes (APs) and we proved by experience that APs are actually good for 366 days. We purchased and first used our APs back on March 28, 1998 and they were good through March 28th, 1999. We woke up to a rather cool but refreshing morning. After a breakfast in the camper of bagels, cereal and oat meal, we saddled up on our bikes and rode to the Fort Wilderness marina. We queued up about 10 minutes before rope drop at Cinderella's Castle and waited there to ride Dumbo. There was a discussion on rec.arts.disney.parks recently about characters riding on attractions and I had to admit that I'd not seen it done at WDW - well that has changed. Minnie was in the first group on Dumbo riding with a child. She only stayed for that one ride and then was escorted off somewhere else in the park.
We then rode Peter Pan twice with no wait, noticing that Tinker Bell was missing from the loading queue. All that was left was a dangling bare wire. Perhaps she had the day off. ;-)
We rode Snow White and Teacups with no wait and then headed to Mickey's Toontown Fair. Brian won the "stupid hat" contest when he plucked one off of a cart in Toontown and posed for this picture. We rode Goofy's Barnstormer twice with no wait and toured Mickey's and Minnie's houses and Donald's boat with no wait or crowds. We ducked into the Judge's Tent to see Mickey but saw a line and changed our minds. We went into the Toontown Hall of Fame too and saw Chip, Dale and *my* favorite character - Donald - woo hoo!
After some shopping in County Bounty, we took the "secret" path from Toontown to Tomorrowland, only to find long lines for Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear and Alien Encounter. Abhorring lines, we opted for a relaxing ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (People Mover) instead. The Carousel of Progress opened at 11 am and that was our next stop. CoP makes you realize how much things have changed over a relatively short period of time. Also I confirmed that the dog, while having several names in the original General Electric version, now is only referred to as Rover and that the daughter's name now is Patricia (Patty). We crossed the park for our last attraction of the morning - Pirates of the Caribbean. Normally the left queue has a much shorter wait than the right but *this* time we had to wait almost 10 minutes on the left side while we saw folks walking right on from the right hand queue.
After Pirates, we made our way down Main Street for our noon priority seating at Tony's Town Square. Folks were collecting in Town Square to participate in Disney's attempt to break the Guinness world record for the longest bunny hop, an event that was to be taped and shown during the Easter Parade on ABC. You can see that Katie is pouting in the picture because she wanted to go do the bunny hop but we insisted that she stay and eat her lunch. In terms of entrees, Susan had the parmisanna, I, the turkey fettucine, Brian, the pizza and Katie, the spaghetti. We all really enjoyed our food and also found sitting on the patio outside and watching the goings-on in Town Square to be fun. We were really full but our server talked us in to dessert - which was a seven layer chocolate something or other - which was yummy. Total for the meal, with MKC discount and tip was $60.
By this time, Disney had completely filled Main Street with bunny hoppers and leading the hop were none other than Caroline Rhea and D. L. Hughley, the hosts of the 1999 Easter parade. We heard Hughley mess up several times causing them to have to start the whole thing over as we made our way down Main Street. We headed towards Tomorrowland, hoping the crowds participating in the bunny hop would have cut down the line at Space Mountain but that was not to be the case. The line was still way out the door. We rode Buzz Lightyear instead after a 5 minute wait. Buzz has quickly become a family favorite. We spent some time in the Tomorrowland Arcade, where Katie won two stuffed animals in the crane games. Those two "treasures" probably cost her the majority of the roll of quarters she'd earned for behaving on the ride down. She thought they were worth it though and I guess that's what counts, well that plus she finally got rid of that pouty face. :-)
We walked to Toontown where we caught the WDW Railroad around to Frontierland. We had not been on Tom Sawyer's Island in years so we'd put that on this trip's list of things to do. We rode the raft over to the island, but not before our driver ran us aground on the bank. After getting us off the bank he nearly ran us into the other raft. Yikes! He finally got us to the island dock but did so by backing us there in a big arcing loop. Kissing the ground would have been too dramatic but the thought crossed my mind. ;-)
Once on the island, we explored Injun Joe's Cave and the Fort, where Brian and Katie took aim on unsuspecting Liberty Belle passengers and riders on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We cooled off at Aunt Polly's with sodas and ice cream and fed the ducks and other birds. After riding the raft back over to Frontierland, we then visited the Country Bears. As always, we sat on the back row so our kids could sit up on the back of the seats and see over everyone's heads. We decided to call it a day and headed for the turnstiles.
As we passed through Town Square we noticed the camera crew breaking up and Caroline Rhea close by. I asked the kids if they wanted to try to get her autograph and they did so off they went. Brian was successful...Katie, being the polite and patient one, did not. Unfortunately, some adults and older kids pushed their way in front of her so before she could get her autograph one of the stage managers pulled Caroline away. Katie was not a happy camper. If we would have had the energy we might have revisited the crane games in the Tomorrowland Arcade to get her smile back but decided to head back to the campground instead.
After showers and dinner at Trail's End (pizza - $14), we rode the Fort Wilderness boat back to the MK. We always enjoy the MK at night and find certain attractions there are better at night than during the day. One prime example of that is Jungle Cruise. Not only is the ride better but the wait time is typically 5 minutes or less. Another is the Haunted Mansion, which seems spookier at night than during the day. Our favorite MK attraction at night is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad but unfortunately it was down. :-(
We also enjoy Fantasyland at night so we made that our next stop. After riding Small World with no wait, we made our way to one of the MK's most beautiful attractions at night - Cinderella's Carrousel. Brian claims not to like the Carrousel but I noticed him smiling as he was riding. It was getting close to time for the Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks so we made our way to the right front side of the Castle for a good view of Tinkerbell as she flew out the Castle window. As it turned out, Tink was 15 minutes late and as we waited, folks entertained themselves by shining those damned laser pointers all over the Castle. I think there should be a law prohibiting such things with stiff fines for those caught. What a nuisance! After Tink's flight and the fireworks, we called it a night and headed back to Fort Wilderness.
Day 4, March 29th - MGM Studios (AM), Animal Kingdom (PM) Planned
MGM Studios (AM), Typhoon Lagoon (PM) Actual
Following our plan for touring the park which was the early entry park the day before, our first park of the day was MGM Studios. Since we were up fairly late last night watching the fireworks, we slept in this morning.
***TIP***If possible, plan ahead so when you stay up late to see Fantasmic!, Illuminations or someother late night event, that you don't plan something early like a character breakfast or an early entry park. You'll wear yourselves out quickly doing this!
The first live stage shows at the Studios don't start until after 10 am (except Indy, which we skip or do at night anyway) so we often plan to visit MGM after a late night in the parks. Our first order of business was to renew our annual passes, which we upgraded this time to premium APs. It took a few minutes to recover from the sticker shock but I began to breathe normally after a few minutes. ;-)
Star Tours (5 min. wait) was our first stop. I still marvel over the queue this attraction has. Our entire family loves Star Wars and we're really looking forward to the new movie coming out in May. It would be great if Star Tours would be modified to include another destination besides the moon of Endor. Brian is a *big* Lego fan and he was hopeful of finding some of the new Star Wars Legos in the gift shop after the ride, but there were none. We made a note to try the Lego Store in Downtown Disney sometime before we went back home. We then did Muppetvision 3D (great!) and tried to do Voyage of the Little Mermaid but just missed it. We stopped to say hi to Pooh before letting the kids burn off some energy at the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground. We then did the first showing of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, which we always find to be the least crowded. The new Esmeralda was a knockout plus she could sing. ;-)
Hunchback is our favorite Disney stage show and we hope that it stays a long time at the Studios.
After lunch at the Backlot Express, we stopped in at Doug Live!, a new stage show that replaced the lame (in our opinion) Superstar Television. What a cute show! Doug is joined by Patti, Roger, Skeeter and Porkchop and a few volunteers from the audience for a lively show which combines live action and animation. In our opinion, Doug Live! is a definite improvement. By this time the park was getting pretty crowded and it was also pretty hot (temps were in the mid 80s) so we decided to head back to the camper for a nap.
After our nap, we decided to use our new PAPs to try out one of the water parks. The only water park we'd visited before was River Country so we decided to try one of the other two. Typhoon Lagoon turned out to be our choice, though I can't recall why. As you may have noticed in some of the photos, Brian was wearing a partial cast wrapped in Ace bandage on his right arm. He'd gotten into a fight at school and broken his little finger below the knuckle. Anyway, his cast severly limited his water activities, which served him right since he shouldn't have been fighting, right? We did take pity on him though and brought along some plastic bags and a pony tail thingy to wrap it in so he could at least wade out in the shallow water. After playing in the Surf Pool (the wave machine is great), Susan, Katie and I left Brian there to do Castaway Creek, the slow-moving inner tube ride that circles the water park. Very relaxing. :-)
Susan then stayed with Brian while Katie and I went exploring. We first thought about doing Shark Reef, where you snorkel with sharks and various reef fish but I decided that that might be too much for Katie. Instead, we made our way to the water slides and watched as other guests came hurtling down Humunga Kowabunga. Deciding to start small and work our way up, we decided to try the Storm Slides first. What fun! These three slides, the Jib Jammer, Rudder Buster and Stern Burner, are winding slides that take you through caves, water falls and around rocky outcroppings. Each is different and worth experiencing - we rode all three with no wait and Katie loved them. Having done that, we decided we'd give the big slide a go. Unlike the Storm Slides, Humunga Kowabunga is a speed slide, i.e., it is straight and faster (30 mph versus 20 mph). Katie didn't like it because she "inhaled a bunch of water" and "it was scary". I liked it OK but agreed with Katie that the Storm Slides were more fun. It was now 5 pm, which was closing time, so we made our way back to the camper to get ready for dinner.
After our showers, we opted for Olive Garden at the Crossroads. Some don't care for Olive Garden but we always enjoy it. We arrived back at our camper only to discover that we'd been unfortunate enough to get *really* noisy neighbors. They occupied two sites directly across from us and there had to be at least a dozen of them, including young whining children...great! Could things get any worse? Yep. Just as we were settling on our bed, my side moved and dropped about two inches - YIKES! A check with the flashlight revealed we had some serious problems involving some sheared rivets. Luckily, Susan and I were able to temporarily anchor the bed using our clothesline rope. By the time we'd finished with the bed the whining kids next door finally gave out - woo hoo! :-)
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