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 II
Day 6, December 10th - Eagle Pines Golf Course, Magic Kingdom
The rain continued seemingly all night and it was *still* raining when I got up on Wednesday morning to go play golf with Mary Rogers' (merlib) husband Dave. Dave is a nice guy and I appreciate him inviting me to play golf with him. I expected our chances of playing were slim but drove over to the golf course anyway. The facilities and the Eagles Pines (EP) course itself were in excellent condition. I'm basically a bogie golfer so I was a little apprehensive about playing a tough course but found EP to be fairly easy. There were a number of holes where the tee boxes were fronted by waste areas or water but I'm proud to report that I did not lose a single ball...woo hoo! My only complaint was the sand traps. The heavy rain had compacted them significantly and they were not raked very well afterwards. It was almost impossible to hit a blast shot out of them they were so hard. Despite teeing off with a tornado watch in effect and dark ominous clouds overhead, we were able to play the full 18 holes with no rain. I had a 50 on the front 9 and a 48 on the back for a 98...not bad considering I hadn't picked up a club in almost three months.
***Tip***The greens fee was $125 plus tax. If I had done some investigating, I would have found out that I could have purchased a Magic Kingdom Club Classic Golf Badge for $45 plus tax, then played for $50 instead of $125. The golf badge would be good for the rest of the year, allowing me to play for $35/round from May 1 - Aug. 31, 1998, and for $50/round from Sept. 1 - Oct. 31, 1998. Live and learn.
I no sooner got back to my campsite then it began to rain again...what timing! After a shower and a stint in the laundry room, I drove up to the Fort Wilderness Front Desk and asked if someone had time to show me the inside of one of the new FW cabins. A very nice castmember by the name of LR took me out in a golf cart to an unoccupied cabin. On the way, I quizzed him about the Wilderness Home/Cabin swap-out going on and when it would be completed. I was told that loops 2700, 2800 and part of loop 2500 would not be changed out for two years because they were still under lease to Fleetwood. The new cabins are being provided by a company called Liberty, not Fleetwood. On bus transportation, I asked about rumors I'd heard about them testing out direct bus transportation from FW to the main parks. LR told me that FW currently spends about $3 million on bus transportation. They know the current system has problems and that guests are not satisfied and they are looking at different options. I asked if there were plans to convert any of the new cabins to make them handicap-accessible and was told not at this time but they do know that folks want them and are looking into it.
LR took me to an empty cabin in the 2600 loop and gave me free access. The photos I took may be in the Fort Wilderness Photo Gallery. A description of the cabins and Homes may be found on the Fort Wilderness Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). LR was excellent and I made a point of going by Guest Services later at the Magic Kingdom to fill out a Guest Comment form to that effect. A couple of other items to note on the campground, I noticed they had installed a Coke machine at the 2100 bus stop. Per LR, it was there as an experiment and if it works out, machines will be added to the other bus stops. I also noted that the clothes dryers went up from $.50 to $1.00...dang!
I drove over to the Poly, parked and went in to collect their 25th Anniversary pressed quarter. I took the resort monorail over to the Magic Kingdom, filled out the comment form at Guest Services for LR, then walked down Main St. to the Bakery. I had been eye-balling one of those toll house cookie ice cream sandwiches for months but never got one. Today was the day! If you're a calorie counter forget it...these things have to be at least 1000 calories but they are great! I walked back towards Town Square and found a bench near the Christmas tree and began munching on my treat. I was to meet Debbie Scuderi (sixcats) and her family for the flag lowering ceremony so I ate and waited. After only a few moments Debbie and her husband Joe, son John and daughter Laura arrived. What a pleasant family! We chatted for about an hour, during which, at some time unknown to us, Disney lowered the flag and took it away. Debbie and her family were going to stay for Spectromagic so we said our farewells and I took off for Splash Mountain.
I had been at WDW since Saturday and had not yet ridden Splash...I was going into serious withdrawals. There was absolutely *no* line, so I rode Splash twice. About this time the idea of doing a "triple double" hit me. My quest was to ride Splash, Big Thunder and Space Mountain twice each before park closing at 7 pm. It was now 6:20...40 minutes to accomplish the challenge. Could it be done??? I was off to Big Thunder! The queue there was small as well but they were only running one side. Big Thunder at night is awesome...make sure you scream "We're all gonna die!" as you enter the dark cave at the beginning of the ride. Nothing like a good scream to set the proper mood. As we pulled in after the second ride the Castmember told us we could stay on and ride again if we wanted to since there was *no* queue...tempting but no..."triple double" echoed in my head. A look at my watch showed I still had 25 minutes but I had to get all the way over to the other side of the park while Spectromagic was running through Liberty Square/Frontierland...not an easy task. Thank goodness for the rope walkways along the water or I never would have made it. I had to circle around through Fantasyland and racewalk but made it to Space Mountain at 6:43. For those that are curious, the Space Mountain queue is 185 steps long (about 550 feet)...hey, inquiring minds want to know these things! I was able to ride Space *3* times before closing. I was the last person they allowed into the queue on the final ride...woo hoo! Mission accomplished. :-)
I rode the resort monorail to the Contemporary, where I stopped long enough to collect their pressed quarter, then continued back around to the Poly. I drove back to Fort Wilderness to finish some domestic chores (laundry) then I was off to Dixie Landings (DxL). I had called my friend Larisa O'Donnell (MissBianca) earlier in the day and we had agreed to meet up in the lounge for drinks. After getting the DxL pressed quarter, I went to the food court for some pizza, then walked over to Port Orleans to for their 25th Anniversary pressed quarter. Again for those interested, it took me 8 minutes one-way. Soon after, I met up with Larisa and her parents Brian and Lucy. I really enjoyed talking with the O'Donnells. Our favorite topic was the differences in Australian and U.S. language and customs...Australians really do some *strange* things...hehehe. ;-)
Larisa and I chatted for quite awhile about various and sundry things going on with different folks on RADP...we had quite an enlightening discussion. We said our goodbyes and I drove back to Fort Wilderness for the evening. Guess what...it was *still* raining. :-(
Day 7, December 11th - MGM Studios, Epcot
It continued to rain all night and was still raining when I left FW for MGM Studios. I think I saw the rabbits, peacocks, deer and ducks lining up two by two as I exited the resort. I was to meet Laura Gilbreath and her husband Lee Zimmerman at MGM at 11 am to do the shows today but the weather made me wonder whether that would be possible or not. I arrived at 10:15 am and headed to the Tower of Terror to pick up a t-shirt for a friend. Just as I got there an amazing lightning storm started. It subsided somewhat so I decided to head for the Backlot Theater where I was to meet Laura and Lee. I was walking down Commissary Lane when a lightning bolt cracked seemingly right over my head! Dang! I almost hit the ground...that was *way* too close! I got to the area in front of Muppetvision 3D when a Disney Castmember came by yelling for everyone to get inside...first time I'd ever seen that. Only needing to be told once, I ducked under the covered patio outside Pizza Planet and waited for Lee and Laura. The rain continued to come down steadily but luckily, the lightning moved on. Soon, Laura and Lee arrived looking a bit on the water-logged side but still smiling. Lee was nice enough to get us hot chocolate which we drank while watching the downpour. Finally the rain tapered off enough for us to walk around to the theater and we walked right in, finding a seat on the right front side. We were told before HoND started that it might be necessary to stop the show if the rain started blowing in on the stage area...well it did. Just after show started it began to rain *very* heavily. After a 5 minute break to dry the stage, the show was restarted. I applaud the cast and crew of HoND...to put a show on in those conditions was amazing. It rained so hard that at the end of the show the people in the first 5 rows had to use the stage to exit to avoid stepping in the 6 inch deep lake that had formed at their feet.
Next we did Muppetvision 3D. Tig Jr. really got into the 3D effects. We then Voyage of the Little Mermaid. With all the rain we were having we could easily have done without the misting effect in Mermaid. It was like adding insult to injury. We were truly amazed to find sunshine greeting us as we left Mermaid...woo hoo! Laura wanted to do ToT again so we guys obliged and got in the queue. We got up to the doorway before the line stopped moving...equipment difficulties no doubt. We wanted to see the Beauty and the Beast (BatB) show and figured we couldn't make it if we waited much longer at ToT so we bailed out. We went into BatB about 25 minutes early so we could see the preshow act Four for a Dollar. This group of four guys is fabulous...I always wish they would stay on and sing longer. BatB is a pretty good show but I'd rather listen to those guys any day.
We finished up the day with a late lunch at Mama Melroses, my favorite restaurant at MGM Studios. Lee and Laura had a flight to catch so we said our farewells. Since I was on vacation, I decided to head back to FW for a nap at the camper. Refreshed after the nap, I drove to Epcot to see RADP's own Kenny Cottrell play handbells in the Candlelight Processional. Go Kenny! I walked right into the 7:30 show about 5 minutes before it started...there were no lines. Kenny did a great job as did the rest of the performers. For dinner, I had a capuccino and cheesecake at the Fountainview Cafe. I sat outside and marveled as the fountain went through several songs. I walked back to the World Showcase to watch Holiday Illuminations...what a disaster. The air was very damp and the wind was not blowing, causing the smoke from the fireworks to linger in the air. After a few minutes you couldn't even see the fireworks going off as they were shrouded in smoke. Can you tell I'm not a huge fan of Illuminations? I drove back to FW in the rain.
Go to Part IV
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