Day 3, August 10 - Magic Kingdom, MGM Studios
We awoke at 7:30 am and after breakfast rode our bicycles to the Fort Wilderness marina. Our timing was great as the boat was just about to pull up as we walked onto the dock. We arrived at the MK and were strolling down Main Street at 8:30 am. We had called Lisa Harris, a fellow radp'er, and arranged to meet her at the MK at the hub. As we sat on a bench in the shade, we amused ourselves by watching confused and befuddled "tourists" walk from the rope at the bridge to Tomorrowland back to the rope at the entry to the Plaza. Here they were met by a Cast Member who's sole purpose in life was to tell them that that rope did not drop until 9:10 am, so they would walk back disappointed.
**Tip** The Plaza shortcut is no longer there! In fact, they now put separate ropes up along the spokes of the hub leading to the various lands so the shortcut by the Crystal Palace to Adventureland is no good either.
Lisa soon arrived and we took our place in the masses headed towards Space Mountain. We walked slowly so by the time we got there we had a 20 minute wait, but that's not bad for Space Mountain! We killed time in the queue talking about how you overhear people say how they like one side better than the other, when in fact, both sides are the same. We exited Space and took the "secret sidewalk" from there to Mickey's Toontown Fair (MTTF). For those that have never walked on the sidewalk, don't feel left out. Probably 95% of the folks visiting the MK don't even know it's there. It does provide a relaxing, direct path from Tomorrowland to MTTF. Lisa had not ridden Goofy's Barnstormer yet so we definitely had to remedy that situation. There was no line so we went around the queue and did it again, this time with Susan and I riding in the back. We passed on Mickey's and Minnie's Houses since we were without kids and proceeded to Fantasyland. We decided to ride Teacups against *all* our better judgement and all three hopped into a cup after a minute or two wait. We decided to punish ourselves and see how fast we could get the cup going--I'm feeling quesy right now thinking about it! Woo! We staggered out laughing, happy to have survived, with Mr. Toad and the famous Naked Lady on our minds. Lisa had never been able to see the lovely Lady so we were more than happy to oblige. After a 5 minute wait we were off! I'm going to take a picture next time and add it to The Spencer Family's Disney Page--I think it'll be a nice addition.
We continued through Fantasyland and walked right in to the Lion King show. This is a *great* place to cool off--take note!
**Tip** Kids will not be able to see the preshow with Rafiki unless they are standing up near the front. If you want to be in the front, hang near the left wall and follow it around and down to the front. Also, there's not really a bad seat in the Lion King theater so don't worry about crowding in when they open the doors.
We left the Lion King and walked next door to Peter Pan. After a 15 minute wait we were "Off to Neverland". Yes, I know this is a kid's ride and it's not "high tech" but I *love* it and consider it a must do attraction whenever I'm at the MK. Next up was the Haunted Mansion. Again we had no wait and were ushered into the left stretch room. The revamped bride, which I think I already mentioned, is too cool. We also noticed some hoof prints in the concrete outside that I had not noticed before. It was now nearing 11:30 am so we parted company with Lisa to head to the Wilderness Lodge for lunch at Whispering Canyon Cafe (WCC). We just missed the resort launch to WL, so we relaxed on the benches waiting for the next boat. We were joined by several ducks who were not shy in the least. In fact, they would come up to us and nibble our fingers when we weren't looking! We didn't have anything to give them so they moved on to harass other guests. The boat arrived in a few minutes and we were off. We walked into WCC right at noon, which was our priority seating time, and were seated in a couple of minutes. Susan had the Dizzy Daisy, a veggy plate that she adores, and I had the hamburger (there's a name for it but I didn't write it down). Both were good, as usual. We were entertained by the antics of the staff. A table nearby asked for more ketchup and were rewarded with an entire case, place bottle by bottle on their table. Total for lunch with tip was $24.50. We stopped by the gift shop on the way out to buy some Beanie Babies. I'm sure everyone has heard by now that WDW resort gift shops were covered up with Beanie Babies. I've never seen so many in one place in my life!
We caught a Disney bus from the Wilderness Lodge to MGM Studios. After stops at the Poly and Grand Floridian we made our way to the Studios. We had arranged to meet back up with Lisa Harris at 1:30 pm to watch the Hunchback of Notre Dame stage show, a big favorite of ours. We were seated after about 15 minutes and did our usual walk around the stage to get prime seats on the right side of the protruding stage.
**Tip** Arrive at the Hunchback show at least 30 minutes before the posted showtime. When you are let in, walk past those scrambling for seats on the left side and go to the right side. Prime viewing is on rows 6-8, next to the stage. Quasi, Clopin, Esmerelda and other cast members perform right in front of you and come out after the show to talk and shake hands.
Crowds were fairly heavy with long, long lines for all the rides. The queue for MuppetVision 3D was snaked around the side of the building and actually went behind the building!
**Tip** Do *NOT* wait in these kinds of lines folks! Muppets, Star Tours, and the Great Movie Ride are all walk-ons later in the evening. My advice is to do the shows (Beauty and the Beast, Hunchback, Indiana Jones, Little Mermaid) during the middle part of the day and do the rides first thing in the morning or late in the evening.
We decided to kick back at the Backlot Express near Star Tours to wait for the new Hercules parade. We sat at an outdoor table with an umbrella (we were in the shade) and sipped sodas and chatted with Lisa about radp and got to know one another better. We had a good view of the parade as it came out and I must say that it STUNK! I would not recommend to anyone that they spend any time waiting to see this parade. I was hoping that it would be as good, if not better than, it's counterpart at Disneyland but I was extrememly disappointed. This is the worst Disney parade I've ever seen and I've seen them all--too bad. Despite being in the shade it was still 90+ degrees outside so we decided we'd visit one of our favorite cooling off spots in MGM--Voyage of the Little Mermaid. We walked past Star Tours, through the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground, and up Dalmation Ave. to arrive at Mermaid ahead of the rest of the parade crowds. We parked ourselves under a ceiling fan for a short wait before being let into the air-conditioned waiting area--ahhhhhhhh! We sat near the back, as we've discovered that the show is better when viewed from a distance as you're not able to *see* the puppeteers on the stage. It seemed as if, in response to the heat, Disney turned up the misters for the under the sea effect. I can't ever remember getting so wet in a Mermaid show--but we weren't complaining! Susan and I were getting pooped out so we decided to head back to the camper and Lisa was gracious enough take us back, not only to FW, but she dropped us off at the Settlement Depot where we had left our bikes--thanks Lisa! Radp people really are the best people in the world!
We showered, changed and rested a bit before driving over to the Contemporary for dinner at the California Grill (CG). We self-parked, then visited the gift shop so Susan could buy *more* Beany Babies. There was a wide selection and there was literally a mountain of them in the center of the shop. Having temporarily satisfied Susan's Beany Baby urges, we headed up to the CG. This was our first time at CG so we really didn't know what to expect. We were seated immediately at a table for two near a front window--what a view! Our server, Eric, came around soon after. Susan ordered the BBQ beef filet, I had the pork tenderloin. What can I say besides Wow! The food was fabulous, the service by Eric was superb and the view was unsurpassed. We will definitely return to the CG in the future. A side story here--I am 95% sure I saw Sally Fields while we were dining. She came almost right up to our table to admire the view, but she did it really quick and then was off with several other people to a table in the back. Susan never saw her. I saw her this week on the cover of a magazine, making me all the more sure it was her. For dessert Susan had the peach souffle, I, the chocolate wave. Both were excellent and an great way to finish the meal. Total with tip was $66.00.
As we were eating it started raining outside so we delayed our plans to return to the Magic Kingdom. We instead rode the monorail around to the Grand Floridian for some shopping and to listen to the wonderful band that plays in the lobby. Susan purchased a Mickey Mouse watch there but the watchband was way too big for her wrist. We were told to take the watch to the Jewelry store in the MK and they would adjust it. Magically, the rain subsided so off to the MK we went. We arrived just as the 9 pm Spectromagic parade was stepping off in Town Square so it was a bit difficult getting to the Jewelry shop, but by cutting through the shops we made it. Once there we were told that no one there knew how to adjust the band and that we'd have to come back. After explaining we weren't coming back, we decided to return the watch and buy it later at a Disney Store for 10% less. The return process was a nightmare taking at least 25 minutes. Grrrrrr.... We walked over to Alien Encounter and rode it with a 15 minute wait. Next were the Tomorrowland Transit Authority followed by Carousel of Progress, both with no wait. We then exited the park, catching the monorail back to the Contemporary then drove back to the campground.
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