Day 7, June 6 - Magic Kingdom
Since the Magic Kingdom was the early entry park yesterday, it was our destination today. Folks, if you haven't visited the Magic Kingdom on a Friday, I encourage you to do so. There were no crowds. It was one of the more pleasant days we've spent in the Magic Kingdom in quite a while. We began the day, not with Dumbo, but with Astro Orbiter. There were so few of us that we were able to all ride in separate ships. Susan doesn't really like this ride but the kids and I like it pretty well and the view of Tomorrowland and the Cakestle is pretty cool. Next we walked right on Grand Prix Raceway for our obligatory lap around the track. I got to ride with Katie for a change and I got a brief glimpse of what driving lessons are going to be like I'm afraid. We continued in a counterclockwise fashion to the Teacups. In the past, I've always dreaded this ride; however, as of late, I've gotten pretty cocky and have begun to really get into spinning the cup with Barfin' Brian (another trip report). One day soon I'm sure I'll pay the price. Next, we rode Mr. Toad. I asked Brian and Katie if they ever noticed that when they drive, we always end up in hell? I think they said it was purely a coincidence. Right. We bypassed Dumbo, as the line was already considerable, and continued on to Peter Pan. This is my favorite ride in Fantasyland. With Hidden Mickey list in hand we crossed the walkway to Small World. I now have a new appreciation for this ride. There are bunches of clever Hidden Mickey's on this ride and we actually discovered one not on the list! We were so busy looking for HMs, I don't even think I heard the music!
We exited Fantasyland and headed for the Haunted Mansion and rode with no wait. This ride is so cool and Susan and I were given a special treat by our kids. They let us ride together! Another romantic moment at WDW. I had to remind myself that they have cameras that watch your every movement while on the ride or I might have gotten carried away. We continued through Liberty Square to Adventureland with the intent of riding Jungle Cruise; however, the line was 25 minutes so we passed. We chose, instead to ride Pirates of the Caribbean and look for Hidden Mickeys. There are quite a few on this ride that are wishful thinking at best. Oh well, I guess it's like looking up at clouds, if you look hard enough you can see anything. We passed on Tiki Birds and headed to Frontierland. Once there, we waited for 15 minutes to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad again. The kids were getting braver with each ride with Katie holding her arms up nearly the whole ride. That's my girl! We took the rope bridge to the Country Bear Jamboree and walked right in. We took up our usual seats in the back row so the kids could get up on their knees without getting in anyone's way. Hey, why don't we do that at Voyage of the Little Mermaid? Hmmmm. It was now lunchtime so we decided to eat at one of the best counter service restaurants in the MK - El Pirata Y el Perico, otherwise known as the Taco Place. Susan and I had the taco platters, which were very good. The tacos were heaping with meat, lettuce, tomatoes (if you want them), and cheese. The kids had hot dog kid's meals. Total for lunch was $18.96.
By this time the crowds had begun to build somewhat so we went into our "what to tour when it's crowded" mode. The closest such attraction was the Liberty Belle Riverboat. This is now a must-do ride for us since they added the characters. For this cruise, the characters were John Smith, Meeko and Governor Ratcliff. Pocahontas was conspicuously absent. Brian somehow caught the attention of John Smith and John really tweaked Brian. He stood there for 5 minutes while John signed everyone's autograph book but his, all the while asking Brian questions and joking with him. Brian was persistent though and finally John gave in and signed his book. It was really funny and Brian got a big kick out of all the attention. Next up was the Hall of Presidents (HoP). Both the Riverboat and HoP run on the half hour, which is convenient, since both take about 25 minutes. When you finish one, you can go right to the other and avoid any wait. We crossed the park to Tomorrowland to ride the TTA and then Timekeeper. Typically, we don't go into Timekeeper until right before the show starts which puts us in the back of the Circle-Vision theater. This time we went in fairly early and made our way to the front of the line. This put us in the middle of the front row where we had a great view of the Timekeeper and Nine-Eyes. The kids loved being up front and we enjoyed the different perspective. Another plus is that being new, this attraction is filled with some really cool Hidden Mickeys. It was now about 2 pm and we had done quite a bit so we decided to head back to Fort Wilderness for some rest and relaxation. On the way down Main St., we were drawn into the Bakery, where the kids had cupcakes and Susan and I had some other sinfully sweet treat. Total for the Bakery was $7.95.
After naps and laundry, Susan cooked our dinner at the camper. The food and the service were good, the atmosphere was nice, and the price was right. Unlike the Sci-Fi, we will definitely eat here again. (grin) With our energy restored, we again caught the Chip bus to the marina for the boat trip back to the Magic Kingdom. An interesting thing happened on the boat ride over. I jokingly asked Brian and Katie about riding Alien Encounter (AE) and they actually seemed interested! I began to describe the entire ride to them, how it was dark inside and that an alien like the one on the Great Movie Ride would be in the theater and what would happen. They agreed to ride it with a few stipulations. One, I had to buy them each a Surge (caffeinated citrus soda), and two I had to buy them each an ice cream bar. Are kids slick or what? Luckily, when we arrived the wait was a mear 15 minutes and passed quickly. This was Susan's first time on AE too so she was a bit leery as we entered the theater. Things happened pretty much as I had remembered and we all came out with big smiles on our faces giving high fives for having survived AE. Brian immediately wanted to do it again but we passed. We walked to the nearby Skyway and rode it to Fantasyland. I love this ride and hope Disney keeps it open for a long time. It's neat to look on top of the buildings and behind the scenes. As we passed over Ariel's Grotto we noticed there wasn't much of a line so we went there next. After a 15 minute wait we were ushered in to meet Ariel herself. It was amazing to watch her sign a rather elaborate signature, without looking once at the autograph book. Though, I guess if you do it 10,000 times a day like she does you would get pretty good at it. We finished off the evening with a night ride on BTMRR. Woo hoo! We were just able to cross over into Adventureland before it was closed off for Spectromagic and we were able to walk down Main Street fairly easily and exit the park.
Day 8, June 7 - Epcot, MGM Studios
Unfortunately, today is our last full day in the parks. We arrived at Epcot at about 8:35 am and headed directly to Honey I Shrunk the Audience. We walked right and in watched the show with no wait. Those with kids 7 and under, beware of the loudness of the show and the startling 3D effects. DO NOT take kids to HISTA prior to Muppets 3D at MGM Studios, because after HISTA, you might not convince them to see another 3D movie. In fact, they might not want to see any theater-type show. We again rode Journey Into Imagination then headed for the Living Seas pavillion. As some of you may know, Living Seas is not a personal favorite. I did enjoy seeing the manatees but the fake coral is pretty ugly. The kids do enjoy it though, so we always at least walk through. We backtracked to the Land pavillion just to see Food Rocks (FR). Some may wonder about my sanity here, but the Spencer's actually enjoy FR. Brian, of course, being the rebel, likes the Junk Food. I like Pita Gabriel. It was now nearing lunch time so we made our way to the Rose & Crown (R&C) for our 12 noon priority seating.
We arrived a few minutes early but were promptly seated by Andy. Our server, Laurense, was very nice and took our drink orders immediately. The interior of R&C is nice with a rustic look to it. Poor Laurense mishandled the tray of drinks and ended up dumping the whole tray on the floor. Luckily, no one got wet, and Laurense quickly cleaned up the mess and brought out a fresh round of drinks. I ordered the beer sampler which I highly recommend for those that like beer. The sampler includes Harp lager, Tennent's lager, Bass ale and Guiness stout. With the beer, they bring out a sheet that describes the heritage of each brew. Very interesting. In terms of food, Susan ordered the open-faced roast beef sandwich, I had the fish and chips, and Brian and Katie had the kid's fish and chips. We all thought the food was excellent. Of course my opinion could have been slightly swayed by the beer sampler. Total for the meal, with tip, was $44.50.
We left R&C completely stuffed and made our way to the UK park to find a nice shady place to apply sunscreen. While we were doing so, who should appear but Pooh, Eyeore, Tigger, the Mad Hatter and White Rabbit! It was really neat because there were very few people in the area so the kids got to spend a good bit of time with the characters. Brian had a field day with Pooh and was able to show off the Pooh hat he had bought earlier. Our character luck continued as we approached the France pavillion. Our intent was to see the Impressions de France movie; however, we were sidetracked when we noticed Quasimodo signing autographs in the courtyard to the right of the building. As we rounded the corner, we also saw Cinderella, Clopin, Esmerelda, Perla and Suzie. It has been *years* since I'd seen Perla and Suzie in the parks and it was the first time I'd seen Cinderella outside of her Castle in the MK. Cool! We never did see the movie as the kids decided they *had* to go to the bathroom right before show time. A funny thing happened while I was waiting in the lobby for Susan and the kids to get back. Everyone, including the French CM, had gone into the theater for the show so I was alone in the lobby. A lady approached and asked when the next show would start so I told her with my Alabama accent that it would be in 20 minutes. She turned, seemingly satisfied, to walk away but instead turned back around and asked "shouldn't you say that with a French accent?" I burst out laughing and explained that I was only a guest. It must have been the red Guest of Honor badge. We continued to walk around the world, stopping at the China pavillion to watch the cute and very talented Chinese acrobats. We finished our day at Epcot with one last ride on Maelstrom.
We left Epcot and drove directly to MGM Studios. We had arranged to meet up with our good friend Barb (aka gardenia) there at 3:45 pm. We hooked up and decided to go on the Great Movie Ride first. We got to ride in the front of the car with a wonderful Cast Member named Marci. We told her that we were interested in Hidden Mickeys (HM) and she proceeded to point out several that we had not seen. In fact, she got into it so much that she almost forgot to do the tour! She was really helpful and lots of fun. Thanks Marci! We next went to Voyage of the Little Mermaid. We sat in the very back row with Barb and were delighted with the seats! We were far enough back that we didn't see the silhoettes of the performers on stage and we didn't have to put the kids in our laps to see. Woo! Hoo! We crossed the park to queue up for the Hunchback of Notre Dame stage show and got to sit on the front row thanks to being Barb's guests. This turned out to be a somewhat bizarre show. First, for some reason, Phoebus got tickled while doing his lines and nearly screwed up big time. Then at the end of the show, Clopin ran out onto the extended stage and slid right off into some poor girl's lap! Ouch! We parted company with Barb, who had dinner plans at the Brown Derby with other friends, and proceeded to Star Tours for one last ride. Afterwards, we had dinner at the Pizza Planet. Four cheese pizzas and two large drinks were $18.43. We buy the big drinks and get extra empty cups to share with the kids. We finished out the evening and the week by watching my favorite fireworks show at WDW, Sorcery in the Sky.
Well folks, that's it, at least until August when we go again! For those that hung in for the whole trip, thanks for letting me share this with you. I hope you find something useful in our experiences that will help you during your trips. Bye!
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