Day 7, April 3rd - Magic Kingdom, MGM StudiosGo Back To Part III
It had come to me yesterday that Nanci Rosetti had said on IRC that she was from the "Poke-Your-Nose" (Pocono) mountain area, which, to the best of my recollection, was in Pennsylvania. I had called the Disney operator back and was able to hook up with Nanci at her resort. We planned to meet at the bridge leading into Adventureland at rope drop (9 am). Nanci is a really nice lady that I've chatted with on IRC and I was *really* looking forward to finally meeting her and her family. We rode our bikes down to the Fort Wilderness marina to wait for the boat to the MK and we waited, and waited, and waited... I have some newsgroup (radp) and IRC friends that tease me about how poor the transportation is at Fort Wilderness...well, I admit it, it *did* let me down this time. It was the only time all week we had any problems...sigh. We arrived about 9:10 and Nanci was nowhere to be found. I suspected that her kids had dragged her off to ride Splash mountain and later found out I was right. We looked for her at Splash but it's difficult finding someone you've never met! Sorry Nanci. :-(
We walked to Splash via Adventureland and rode with a 10 minute wait. Our focus today was to ride the few things we had missed earlier in the week so after Splash we walked to the Jungle Cruise. We were surprised to walk right on the boat with 0 wait...woo hoo! Brian was hoping to be able to "drive" the boat but was beaten to the punch by another child. By all means, encourage your child to ask if you think they'd like to do it and no one else has asked. Peter Pan was our next target. The smell of something burning didn't greet us this time...good sign. :-) It may just have been my imagination but it looked as if they had repainted since the last time we rode. The colors seemed brighter than I remembered. We split up after Peter Pan, me queueing up at Ariel's Grotto to get Ariel's autograph for Jessica Cahill, Susan and the kids continuing to ride Fantasyland attractions. I found out later that they rode both sides of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Snow White and Cinderella's Golden Carrousel.
We rode Haunted Mansion (5 min) for the last time before deciding on Columbia Harbour House for lunch. This counter service restaurant is a good place to eat...with plenty of seating inside both downstairs and upstairs. We ordered two fish and chicken specials for the four of us with extra french fries and drinks, which was more than enough. We rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA) one last time before heading for the exits. On our way down Main Street, Susan reminded me that we had always planned on getting one of the toll house ice cream sandwiches at the Bakery but always seemed to forget. I love that woman! We shared a toll house ice cream sandwich and the kids shared a piece of magnum chocolate cake which was huge! Yummy! :-)
We just missed the boat back to Fort Wilderness so we decided to ride the resort monorail to the TTC and catch the Boone bus there to Fort Wilderness. We were lucky in that the monorail was waiting for us. Our luck continued as we found the Boone bus waiting for us at the TTC. The Boone bus makes one stop at the Wilderness Lodge prior to going to FW. We noticed as we were pulling in that Disney was putting the finishing touches on the Wilderness Lodge Guard Gate. We made it back to the FW marina in about 15 minutes! It was a beautiful day on Bay Lake so we decided on a whim to rent some of the water sprites. We had never done this but had read good comments about the experience. The rate, with tax, was $18.02/half hour for each boat. You must be 12 years old to drive, which meant neither of my kids was old enough...lucky me! Susan drove one boat with Brian, I drove the other with Katie as my copilot. The boats were a blast!
We rode our bikes back to our campsite and picked up the Explorer and headed off to MGM Studios to see the Hunchback of Notre Dame show and do some attractions that we had missed earlier in the week. As we were pulling into the parking lot we came to a Cast Member that attempted to wave us to the left, wanting us to drive around to the other side of the parking lot. No! I refused and turned right, finding a nice parking spot right up front. I *hate* having to drive around to the other side, especially later in the afternoons and evenings. As we walked through the turnstiles who did I see standing by himself beside Sid Cahuenga's One of a Kind shop but Donald Duck - my favorite character! We walked straight to the HoND show and who should we see walk up but Beth Eloheimo and Kirstyn from the west coast! I had first met Beth in September at Disneyland (see Jeff's, Laura's Lee's and Pam's Disneyland Trip Report on our Disney page) and was pleased that my family could meet her and Kirstyn. After HoND, we walked over and saw the last of the Goosebumps Fright Show...so-so in my opinion but the kids liked it. Next was the Backlot Tour, which includes Catastrophe Canyon. This tour lasts about 40 minutes. It begins with a special effects demonstration in a water tank (good), is followed by a tram tour through Residential St. (so-so) and wraps up with a walk-through of the American Film Institute Showcase (good).
The kids insisted on a return to the One Saturday Morning Sound Show so we placated them. Katie was hoping to be chosen as an on-stage participant but no luck. Our last show was the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. We often go several trips without seeing this show because they do the same stunts over and over. We have found that the effects are neater if you can catch a later show when it's dark. After Indy, we headed for Mama Melrose's for our 7 pm priority seating. We *love* Mama Melroses! Try it on your next trip! I had the seafood carbonara, Susan the veal parmesan, the kids had cheese pizzas that they got to make themselves. The kids were disappointed that they had changed the kids dessert from a chocolate cupcake to a rice krispie treat. Susan and I shared a candy bar (Snickers) cheese cake for dessert...yummy! We had just enough time to ride Star Tours one last time before park closing at 8 pm.
Day 8, April 4th - Epcot, Downtown Disney, RADP Meet at Trail's End
Our plans for our last full day at WDW were to do things we had missed in Epcot, visit Downtown Disney to do some shopping and attend a mini-RADP meet at Trail's End Buffet at Fort Wilderness. We began the day at Epcot, first visiting the Land pavilion to do the Living with the Land boat ride. If you enjoy plants and gardening as we do, this attraction is for you. If you avoid educational stuff like the plague, you might get sick here...move on. ;-) We planned to see the Circle of Life movie next but just missed it, so the kids coaxed us into another visit to Food Rocks...yes, we did it twice in one trip. We finished off the Land by seeing Circle of Life. We like to sit at the top of the theater...visibility is good and we're the first out of the theater.
It was now beginning to get really cloudy and windy, with some sprinkles, so I decided to find the kids some Mickey ponchos and make lunch ressies (San Angel Inn) at Guest Services. While I was doing that, Susan took the kids to ride Journey Into Imagination (JII). We met upstairs in the JII pavilion at Image Works. Wouldn't you know that once I bought the ponchos the weather blew over and the sun came out? Money well spent I say. Next we did something we had never done - visited the Epcot Discovery Center. The Discovery Center, located in Innoventions East, is home to all kinds of WDW information and trivia. We picked up the following:
The History of WDW was an especially interesting 20 page write-up. For those interested in the details behind Walt Disney World, we highly recommend that you stop in and check out the Discovery Center. Continuing to do things we'd never done, we next visited the Disney Gallery on the second floor above the Centorium. There are all kinds of things there, from books to "seri-cells" that are priced at thousands of dollars. Not something I'd buy but definitely worth a look. Armed with our Hidden Mickey list, we headed for Horizons. Knowing that Disney plans to close Horizons whenever Test Track opens, we make a point to ride it frequently since our last time may indeed be just that. :-( We found several of the hidden mickeys and scratched our head on others.
- Walt Disney World Facts and Figures
- Expansion Projects at the Walt Disney World Resort
- A History of the Walt Disney World Resort
- Official WDW Hidden Mickey List
- Spaceship Earth Information
- WDW Imagineers
- Fantasmic at Disney MGM Studios
It was now after 11 am and the World Showcase was open, so we headed to Norway to ride the Maelstrom.
The crowds were minimal so we had no wait.
***TIP***If you want to ride Maelstrom with no wait, queue up at Mexico at 11 am and head directly to Norway at rope drop.
We backtracked to Mexico for our 12:15 priority seating and enjoyed listening to Mariachi Cobre as we waited to be seated. Reading the menu in the San Angel Inn is always a challenge...I always feel like I need a flashlight. Susan ordered her favorite, the chicken enchiladas, I had a humongous burrito and the kids had chicken finger kids meals. The food was tasty, as always. The San Angel Inn is one of our favorite places to dine at Epcot. Before leaving Mexico, we rode El Rio del Tiempo (boat ride). Make sure to look for the three pots that form a hidden mickey in the market scene near the end of the ride.
The kids had been asking all week to go back to the UK to see the World Showcase Players again so that was our next destination. This time we were treated to a rendition of "Romeo and Edna" (parody of Romeo and Juliet). As you can see in the picture, I got to make my acting debut as the "municipal mime". It was a rather easy part as it turned out...I really didn't have to do or say anything...just wear that stupid hat that made me "tinkle"...hehehe.
We finished up our day at Epcot by seeing the Canadian band Off Kilter. We had never seen them before, but had heard a lot of good things about them on the newsgroup rec.arts.disney.parks (radp). We were not disappointed...they were excellent!
Since today was our last day, we decided to visit Downtown Disney to buy souvenirs. Katie wanted a watch really bad and Brian wanted anything. Susan had been looking all week for a new fanny pack with Mickey on it too. Once there, our first stop was the new Lego store...WOW! All the different figures built out of Legos were amazing! The dragon in the lagoon was impressive, as were the sleeping guy on the bench (snoring sounds included) and an alien family and their space ship. We got Brian a big bucket of free form Legos at the Lego store, then went next door to World of Disney and found Katie a nice Minnie Mouse watch and Susan a suitable fanny pack.
We returned to the camper to begin packing a few things up in preparation for our return drive in the morning. I took the kids for a swim to keep them busy while Susan did the laundry (again, her choice). After the swim and showers, I had a revelation about why the lights in the camper might not be working! I recalled having seen, in the past, a wire and plug at the back of the camper underneath the hard top. Sure enough, when I checked it I found that it had come unplugged. Yes! Better late than never right? :-)
At 7:30 pm, we boarded the Chip internal bus and rode to Trail's End (near Pioneer Hall) for the mini-radp meet planned by Lisa Crawford. Shortly after arriving we saw Debbie Scuderi and her family (husband Joe, son John, and daughter Laura) arrive. I had met Debbie and her family back in December and was happy that Susan and the kids would get to meet them too. We had ordered pizza earlier and when I brought it back to our tables in Crockett's Tavern I was confronted by a Cast Member there and told we couldn't eat it inside. Huh? "Well what are those people over there putting in their mouths" I asked the lady. "Oh, that pizza was sold by me by the slice here" she replied. The Fort Wilderness expert was being kicked out of Crockett's Tavern! Will I ever be able to live it down? Oh well...it was a nice evening anyway, so we moved outside to one of the picnic tables on the patio and continued to talk and eat pizza. It wasn't long before Brian and John were off feeding quarters to the machines in the arcade. I got up every few minutes and made the rounds in Trail's End and Crockett's Tavern looking for Lisa and/or anyone else wearing a radp pin or looking like they were looking for someone else, but found no one. I learned later from Lisa that her kids were to blame...of course! They had kept her in the Magic Kingdom until it was time for their Hoop-de-Doo show at 9 pm. Regardless, we had an enjoyable evening with the Scuderi family, topping it off by watching the Electric Water Pageant at 9:45 from the FW marina.
Day 9 - April 5th - Travel
There was nothing remarkable about our return drive back to Alabama. We really did miss that hour of sleep though that we lost as a result of the change to Daylight Savings Time...ughhh.
Post Script - April 13th - Epcot
An interesting set of circumstances came together during the week of April 13th. First, I was travelling on business to West Palm Beach, FL; second, I had found out that an internet friend, Charlotte Johnson, and her husband John would be at WDW...woo hoo! I don't need much of an excuse to visit WDW and the opportunity to meet Charlotte (Goofyprof on IRC) and John was more than enough. I met Charlotte in the lobby of their hotel (Port Orleans) and after hugging each other, we sat and chatted. We then went back to their room to pick up John and then we were off to Epcot. We wandered around the World Showcase looking at the beautiful flowers in Canada's garden as we talked and got to know one another. We stopped at the outdoor cafe next to Rose and Crown and the Johnson's treated me to a Tennent's draft beer. The view from the cafe patio is nice and it was a welcome change to just sit and absorb the beauty of the World Showcase. Hearing music, we went to the park in the UK and just caught the tail end of the Beatles band, British Invasion. With our beer cups empty, Charlotte had the excellent idea of visiting Germany to sample a Becks beer...woo hoo! On the way, we stopped to see Bubble Nicolas at France and the classically-inspired band Rondo' Veneziano in Italy. Charlotte remarked that one of the latter band's songs reminded her of Yanni, which should give you an idea of what to expect music-wise.
We ended up walking all the way around the World Showcase and found ourselves back at the UK in time to see Illuminations. For the very first time, I actually got to watch it from the "secret garden" down by the water. Initially, a Disney Cast Member had the area roped off but for some reason he let us in. Charlotte thought that he might have seen the NASA insignia on my shirt...I don't think that was it, but we really didn't care why, we were just happy to be there. And let me tell you it is a great place to watch Illuminations, provided the wind isn't blowing in your face. We departed through the International Gateway, walked around to the Boardwalk marina and boarded the boat. After stopping at the Beach Club and the Swan and Dolphin, we arrived at MGM Studios just in time to see the beginning of the Sorcery in the Sky fireworks...my favorite fireworks show! It was getting late for me, especially since I had a 2+ hour drive back to West Palm so we rode the Port Orleans bus back and said our farewells. It was an enjoyable, if too brief, visit with Charlotte and John.
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