Again, the cast of characters for this trip were Jeff (38), a NASA engineer, wife Susan (36), also an engineer with NASA, son Brian, (10) and daughter Katie (7).Return to Part I
Day 4, December 8th - MGM Studios, Epcot, Magic Kingdom
We decided to sleep in this morning as we had tickets for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) and would be out very late. We began the day at MGM Studios, arriving at 9:30 am. Since our kids are both scared of the Tower of Terror, we didn't even think about doing that. Instead we opted for Star Tours first. As is usual early in the morning, there was no line and we walked right up to the boarding area. A castmember (CM) named Juan mistakenly overloaded the row were were on so we had to get back off of our Star Speeder. We were allowed to pick where we wanted to ride on the next ship and while we were waiting Juan let us stand at the CM station. Here we could watch the camera view of the riders inside the Speeder and, by lifting up a door, actually see the Speeder go through its motions on the hydraulic pistons...pretty cool! Next up was the Great Movie Ride (gangster side), then MuppetVision 3D. It was now a little after 11 am so we wandered over to queue up for the first Hunchback of Notre Dame (HoND) show. If you want seats up front, get into the queue at least 30 minutes before showtime. They typically begin seating at 25 minutes before showtime and you get to see Matt do his great juggling act. HoND was excellent as always, and Susan got her HoND fix for the trip.
As we were heading for the exits, we happened upon Bo Peep and one of the Green Army Men so we collected their autographs. We left MGM and drove over to the Beach Club for lunch and dessert at one of our favorite spots...Beaches and Cream. We were seated immediately. After our orders were taken, the kids went next door to spend their quarters in the arcade and I went to collect the pressed quarters for the Beach Club and the Boardwalk. I walk pretty fast and it took me 15 minutes to walk all the way around. Our cheeseburgers were excellent as always and we finished off our lunch with a Milky Way cake....mmmmmmmm. Since we had tickets for MVMCP tonight, we thought it best to take the kids back to the camper to try to get a nap. We were marginally successful...I think we all slept 45 minutes or so...Susan and Katie slept much longer. We drove to Epcot to watch the 6 pm showing of the Candlelight Processional (CP). We got to the theater by 5:15 and saw no lines so we decided to take our seats and wait for the show. After we found seats, I walked back outside and picked up some sodas and cookies to munch on while we waited. Angie Dickinson was the guest narrator and she did a fine job. I highly recommend the CP for everyone. It features a full orchestra, handbell choir, the Voices of Liberty singers, and a massed choir that is simply awesome.
We dashed out of Epcot and hotfooted it over to the Magic Kingdom (MK) for MVMCP. We drove over to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) then rode the ferry boat over to the MK arriving at 7:45 pm.
***Tip*** For those that don't know, even though the MVMCP is advertised as beginning at 8 pm, the gates actually open at 7:30.
Here is the schedule for MVMCP:
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade
9:00 and 11:30 pm
Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks
Mickey's T'was the Night Before Christmas
Galaxy Palace Theater
8:15, 9:15, 10:15, 11:30 pm, 12:30 am
Miss Minnie's Country Christmas
Diamond Horseshoe Saloon
8:15, 10:05, 11:00 pm, 12:30 am
Every Day's a Holiday
8:00, 10:05 pm, 12:15 am
Belle's Enchanted Christmas
8:30, 9:20, 10:10, 11:00, and 11:50 pm
We were amazed that folks were already staking out their spots on Main Street for the 9 pm parade...what a waste! We made our way down Main Street seeing for the first time the "snow". The effect is pretty good. They do the same thing on New York Street at MGM in the evenings. Taking the advice of other RADPers, we skipped the photo booths along Main St., bypassing long snaking lines, and continued walking into Tomorrowland. We had our picture taken at the booth near the Astro Orbiter and were the third group in line.
***Tip*** To minimize/eliminate any wait in getting your family picture taken, go to the photo booth in Adventureland, Fantasyland or the back of Tomorrowland.
Five minutes later we were finished with the picture. Before the photo is taken, you fill out a card giving your name and address. The picture is mailed in a couple of weeks. We walked across the way to the Galaxy Theater for Mickey's Twas the Night Before Christmas show. The show was a hoot! Definitely a not-to-be-missed show. We split up afterwards with Susan opting for Space Mountain while I took the kids on Astro Orbiter. Somehow, both kids and I crammed into a single orbiter and had a blast! Brian, who has been terrified of Space Mountain, for some unknown reason decided he wanted to "face his fear" and ride it. Katie looked at him like he was crazy and said "Uh uh" and took Susan's hand and headed for Tomorrowland Transit Authority. Brian and I took off for SpM and rode with a 5 minute wait...woo hoo! That's my boy! We met up and decided to do Alien Encounter (AE). AE is pretty good but we never do it more than once per trip.
It was now getting pretty close to time for the fireworks so we headed over to the designated RADP meeting place...the Liberty Bell in Liberty Square. There were about 20 of us in all and we "oohed" and "ahhed" over the fireworks and took photos. Kodak must love RADP...we take *so* many pictures. After the fireworks, Susan and the kids took off for the Christmas Shoppe to buy gifts before I could tell them we were all planning to go ride Splash Mountain together. The group hung around waiting for them to return but they never did. I said my farewells to everyone and went in search of my lost family. I found them still in the shop finishing up their purchases. What I've not yet mentioned is that it was now after 10 pm and we had not yet eaten any dinner!
We made our way to Pinocchio's Village Haus where we stuffed up on burgers and hot dogs. We didn't bother with the cookies or hot chocolate and from what I've read and heard, we didn't miss much. We rode Mr. Toad's Wild Ride with a short wait, then rode the Haunted Mansion with no wait. It was now about 11:15 so we found a place in Liberty Square to watch Mickey's Very Merry Christmas parade.
***Tip*** Take note of where the lights are when you pick out a spot to watch the parade. We noticed that folks sitting on the lagoon side of the road had lights shining right in their faces making the parade a bit tougher to see.
The parade was great! What else can be said? It was now near midnight and we were all pretty exhausted so we started heading towards the exit. On the way out, we ducked into Pirates of the Caribbean for one last ride. We made it back to our campsite at 1:05 am...yawn!
Day 5, December 9th - CB at Grand Floridian, MGM Studios
Susan and the kids were to fly back home today so we thought we'd end their trip with a character breakfast. I had tried to get ressies at Cinderella's Royal Table but they were all booked up. Our next choice was the "Mary Poppins and Friends" breakfast at the Grand Floridian. Our seating time was 8:30 and we arrived on time by taking advantage of the valet parking. Take my advice...do the valet parking...the walk from the visitor lot is a *long* way. We were seated in about 15 minutes and had a great meal. The characters in attendance were Mary Poppins, Bert (the chimney sweep...not Ernie's friend), Pluto, Alice, and Minnie.
As Minnie was walking away after I had taken her picture with the kids, Brian yells after her that "Dad thinks you're a babe!"...Uh Oh. Minnie's head snapped around and she came strolling back and plopped herself down next to me and gave me a BIG kiss...woo hoo! That Minnie is a fresh one. The buffet includes eggs, made to order omlettes, cereals, mickey waffles, french toast, cheese blintzes, sausage, bacon, gravy, bisquits, fruit and on and on. Guess who we should run into in the lobby but Caleb and Michelle Warner and their family. We chatted with them about their stay in one of the new Fort Wilderness Cabins (they really liked it). The decorations at the Grand Floridian are very nice. The tree in the lobby has to be at least 40 feet tall...quite impressive. We did some shopping in the gift shop in the GF lobby and then drove back to the camper to pack up Susan and the kids' bags. I drove them to the Orlando airport, saw them onto the plane and then drove back to Fort Wilderness to do some laundry. Today was a fabulous day weatherwise by the way. I was in shorts and a short sleeved shirt and the temperature was great! It was so nice I decided to wash the Explorer. Big mistake!!! As I was finishing up, a fellow drove by and said "You know that means it's going to rain right?" Boy was he right! It began raining that night and rained every day for the rest of the week...ugh!
I drove over to MGM Studios to meet up with Laura Gilbreath and her husband Lee Zimmerman. I arrived a couple hours early so I decided to eat some lunch. I got a hot dog and a couple of beers at Rosie's Red Hot Dogs on Sunset Blvd...mmmmm good! I picked up some pressed pennies for my friend Pam Teixeira and then met Lee and Laura in front of the Tower of Terror. I think Laura said something about me being late in her WDW trip report ...ha! Don't believe it...I was *right* on time. We rode ToT after a long 45 minute wait then rode the Great Movie ride after a short wait. I pointed out several of the many hidden Mickeys along the way. Next, we did the Animation Tour. We first tried to crash in but were thrown out and told to wait for the next tour...the nerve of those people. The animation tour is definitely worthwhile in my opinion, if for no other reason than to see the movie with Walter Cronkite and Robin Williams at the beginning, and the movie of Disney animated classics at the end.
We walked down New York Street about 30 minutes after the Osborne Lights had opened and there was almost no crowd to contend with. The lights are an amazing sight. I wouldn't want to be on the crew that has to put them up or take them down...yikes!
***Tip***Wait until about 30 minutes after barriers for the Osborne Lights are dropped to tour. The crowds will have dissipated so you can leisurely stroll down Residential Blvd. and enjoy the lights.
Laura, Lee and I parted company at the gate. They were off to tour Downtown Disney and I drove over to the Wilderness Lodge (WL) to collect their 25th Anniversary pressed quarter and to see their Christmas decorations. I rank the WL decorations 2nd behind those at the Grand Floridian. I was worn out from the previous late night at MVMCP so I didn't hang around WL long. Right after I got back to Fort Wilderness, a thunderstorm hit and it seemed to rain *all* night. The beginning of things to come for the rest of the week unfortunately. :-(
Go To Part III
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