Suzanne Castle -- January 2001 -- Walt Disney World (DI)
January 23 - February 18, 2001
January 23, 2001
I set the alarm for 5:30 AM, which seemed early to be waking up, but one must get ready for the adventure of traveling to the world of WDW! After medicating my two little parakeets, I was driven to the LAX airport.
While waiting to board the plane, I was told that a very friendly lady was waving to me. Well, wasnít that nice, she must be able to tell how excited I was to be traveling to one of my favorite spots. It soon turned even nicer when the friendly individual turned out to be The One and The Only FAB, Michelle Smith, from Mouseplanet. We exchanged hugs and marveled about the coincidence of running into each other on the same flight. She mentioned that the Sherman Brothers were right; It Really Is A Small World After All.
Following some minor turbulence on the plane, I landed and spoke with Fab, her parents, and her very charming daughter, Alice, while waiting for the luggage. After picking up my own traveling companion, I was on my way to Oakwood Plantation Resort, part of the Vistana Timeshare Resort.
I wanted to try this off-site location for a night since the price for a one-bedroom suite, with kitchen and washer and dryer, was $71.00 plus tax per night. This was an Entertainment book rate special. It was much less expensive than anything on the World. This resort is located eight miles from everything, aka WDW.
Aside from the noisy air system in the unit, it was nice and quiet. I spotted several squirrels in the trees. I would recommend the site to anyone looking for an alternative to Disney. It was very nice.
I unpacked and turned in about 11:30 PM.
January 24, 2001 (Wednesday)
I woke about 8:30 AM. After cleaning up and packing, I was on my way to the Titanic Exhibit on International Drive. Every year, I say that I want to see something other than WDW (Horrors, I know. All of you die-hard Disney fans can stop reading now, if care not to associate with me), but once the big Mouse sucks me into his world, I never leave until my Visa gives out on me. So, this is the year to be different.
Ignoring the siren call of the Mouse, I drove to see the big ship, well what was left of the big ship. I paid my boarding pass from the winning of my poker game (just kidding) and become a first class passenger, Miss Eliza Doling. Everyone is assigned a real passenger name and at the end of the tour, you can check the boards and find out if you lived or died. I hoped that I would make it.
I was called into the group and we were given a brief history of the building of the ship. Following the English tour guide, we were lead through two rooms into the exhibit room where we were met by Mrs. Astor, wrapped in a long dress and a fur stole. We viewed museum pieces from the ship as well as a replica of a first class cabin. It was very elaborate with lots of dark wood, but very small.
The group was next met by a third class passenger who lead us into a dining room and discussed some of the meals abroad the ship as well as the conditions for the third class. Dark and dismal, the third class seemed. We were further lead into the bowels of the ship, past that famous car, and onto the bridge. Here Mrs. Astor rejoined us, talking about an iceberg that had recently been spotted, but said there was no cause for concern since the ship was unsinkable due to all the watertight compartment doors. Then suddenly alarm bells went off, and we were lead outside to a dark star-filled night to the lifeboats and it was certainly cold out there. I had been close enough to touch the iceberg and it was freezing. The water was between 28-24 F that night, colder than ice. Mrs. Astor remised, tearfully so, about being forced to part from her new husband and how she was in a lifeboat. She talked of men being shot when they tried to enter lifeboats. She said that she heard later how her husband had gone down into the kennel area and released the seven dogs on board so that they would have a fighting chance to survive.
Soon, Mrs. Astor was so overcome with her memories that she was forced to leave us and we were left to examine the survival boards. I had made it into a lifeboat! I lived! Many others in the group had perished.
I continued walking through the rest of the exhibit, looking at original photos and letter from the survivors and spotted an original cork life jacket and an outfit that some guy named Leo once wore.
Much to my surprise (Not!), my tour ended in a gift shop. I purchased a few post cards. I had to hurry; the big Mouse down the street was calling my name!
I drove over to the Beach Club, parked and had lunch at Beaches & Cream. I had the kidís cheeseburger meal, which consisted of two small burgers, fresh fruit, and a chocolate chip cookie. I saved the cookie for a later feeding to the ducks and indulged in a Mickey sundae, topped with a cherry stem tail and two Oreo cookie ears. It is one of my favorite desserts on the property.
Walking along the International Gateway, I fed the cookie to the ducks and purchased my new annual pass. The CM was very nice and gave me a 10% MKC discount, even though my card is no longer valid. As a matter of fact, I didnít even have a card anymore, but he was a nice CM. This saved me about $75.00.
I walked around Epcot, looking for Sue Hollandís (WDW 1972) favorite cucumber & tomato salad at the Tangerine Cafť in Morocco, but the CM said it had been discounted a few months ago. I hope that she is mistaken about that. It always sounds so good when Sue has it.
I rode El Rio De Tempo and exited Epcot.
I drove over to Disney Institute and checked into room 539. I had requested a top floor, non-smoking with a water view. Well, this room did have all of that if you leaned out the window, you could see the lake beyond the two very large trees in the way. I called to the front desk to request a room with a better view and was told that there was one available, tomorrow night. I settled in, but was soon on my way to dinner at O'hanas at the Polynesian, one of my favorite meals. I have a lot of favorite meals at WDW, so expect some more of this, dear reader. I watched the castle change colors, talked to my cousins, and watched the MK fireworks while enjoying a lovely dinner. The meal was topped of with my favorite dessert of fresh pineapple and caramel sauce. Yummy! Soon, though back to reality and I was driving to Publix Supermarket for some grocery shopping.
$42.00 later, I was out of the door and headed to Dixie Landings for a piece of chocolate cake. I love their desserts at the Cotton Mill. They always seem so fresh. Their bakery is located right on site. Well, due to the time, about 9 PM, I changed it to a carrot cake, avoiding the caffeine. The calories would have to take care of themselves.
By 11:30 PM, I was trying to fall into some Disney Dreams.
January 25, 2001 (Thursday)
Again, I woke at 8:30. Pretty good, considering that it is three hours earlier at home. I showered and got dressed and packed the car. By 10:45, I was out the door and headed out to the Polynesian for a look around and a trip to the MK.
Once under the tunnel, I gasped in wonderment that I was once again back in the magic. This trip came up quite unexpectedly. I normally had traveled to Florida for a winter vacation for several years, but the year 2001 seemed out of the possibility due to budget matters. However, my fortune took a unexpected turn for the better, donít you love it when good things happen, and I was at the World within three weeks of first booking my vacation.
I am staying the Disney Institute because I found an Annual Pass rate of $120.00, tax included, a night. What a bargain, by Disney standards.
I should mention that the Institute is my favorite property on site. I love the under theming, which I consider to be a break from the over the top feel of at the parks.
It also seems the DI attracts few families with children. This is a nice break away from all the families that I encounter at the parks.
The lake is beautiful. The overall atmosphere seems very relaxed and peaceful. I have encountered very few problems with excessive noise while relaxing in my room.
This will be a different vacation for me because I have almost no plans except to relax, relax, and relax. I am beyond the Disney commando mode, for once in my life, and now I want to sit back and let the magic envelope me. I donít want to have to seek it.
So with all of this in mind, I strolled over to the rose garden and saw Mickey fumble football after football being tossed to him for some future commercial that was being filmed by ESPN. The super bowl is this coming Sunday, so maybe that has something to do with it.
I rode the TTA; I mean how much further relaxed can I get? I want to feel like I have received a massage at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa every day, without actually getting one, of course. That is beyond my budget for nowÖ
I continued strolling around the MK, soaking in the atmosphere. I tried a piece of Sue Hollandís (WDW1972) and one of my favorite trip reports writers, famous banana nut bread at the Main Street bakery. It was good and spicy. I had a tiny corner piece and am saving the rest to enjoy over the next monthÖkidding, LOL. I actually ate the whole thing!
I watched a Christmas show on the castle courtyard, complete with Santa Goofy and two giant rabbits that were dressed as Easter bunnies, but were in a Christmas show. Since it is almost the end of January and Disney is wishing me a Merry Christmas while showing two giant rabbits in their show, I am confused. Maybe, itís really time for the Fourth of July, I donít know.
I had a kidís peanut butter and jelly at Aunt Pollyís and left the park about 2:30 PM. I boarded the boat for the trip across the lake to the giant expensive Red Roof Inn and had a great tea at the Grand Floridian cafť. I had a plate of small tea sandwiches, a fruit and cheese plate, and some raspberry tea. It was wonderful and relaxing. I really enjoyed the tea. Soon, it was time for my room to be ready at the Institute. Yeah. I can finally move in and really unpack.
And, what a beautiful view of the lake I have. It was well worth changing rooms to my current 825. I love it. I can sit on the sofa or lay on my bed and watch the mallards paddle by. What blissÖI never want to leave the room. Okay, well maybe for one of another of my favorite meals.
I stayed in the room, sent out for dinner, and surfed Mouse planet before starting this trip report. Just a note of thanks to the trip report writers out there, Thank You. I enjoy every trip report. I have learned more from these reports than I ever could any other way. Thanks!!! I hope that you enjoy mine as well. I will try to fall off my bike or at least stall my water mouse sometime, so all of you can get a good giggle in. Itís the least I can do for it. Maybe I will drink my way in beers around the world, like Kevin Stringer, nope, heís a great writer, I canít compete. Iíll just have to horde my marshmallow thingies until next summer. Yes, that ought to do it.
January 26, 2001 (Friday)
Since Mickey hasnít been in the habit of calling me (Oh why, Mickey, are you ignoring me?), I slept in till 9:30 AM. After a quick breakfast of some Cheerios and taking care of some details, I was out of the room before an hour had passed and driving towards Animal Kingdom.
Walking into the park, I spotted a cleverly designed "walking stick", a very tall person dressed as a tree stick. It was beautiful, but I was in a hurry to see one of my favorite men of the jungle, Mr. Tarzan and the lovely Miss Jane.
Aside from it being a very loud show (and what Disney show isnít), it was good. I would notice that show in the jungle.
Next on the agenda was the Asia Jungle track. One of the tigers was near the window and the rest were snoozing. Tigers sleep about eighteen hours a day. Now, arenít you glad you are reading this report?
I headed over to Flights of Wonder, the free flight bird show. Not as loud as Tarzan and quite entertaining, but a bit preachy along the conservation message.
Next it was time for lunch at the Flame Tree Barbeque. This was my first time at the restaurant and thanks to some trip reports, I knew to sit further down and enjoy eating along the waterís edge. There was a rude smoker there, but I quietly asked a cast member and he was dispatched. Yeah!!!
A walk along the Patagonia Trail and a good view of an okapiís behind was viewed. He never turned around, but I certainly could spot one from the rear from now on!
I spoke to Dick, a pleasant older cast member about those new bamboo sticks that are placed along the park. He mentioned that Disney is testing a palm pilot where information will be given when one is near the stick.
He also mentioned that kids would be able to wear a little wristwatch and headphones. The watch will tell them where they are, for example, "Jane, you are now approaching the Dick-Dick antelope." It will call them by name and tell them a little something about whatever animal they are viewing.
He mentioned all of this was in the testing phase and he did not mention how much this would cost. He did mention that knowing Disney it would not be inexpensive. Yeah, heís right about that.
He also mentioned the troubles with the Brazilian tour groups and the numerous times they pretend that they do not understand English. He mentioned how only 5% of Brazilians can afford a WDW vacation and how their society is money classed based. Therefore, the Brazilian teenagers who arrive at WDW purposely throw their trash right in front of the cast members just to watch the Disney "peons" (this was his word) pick up the trash.
He said this was such a problem that most Brazilian tour groups are lectured by tour hosts on how to behave properly in the United States, but that it doesnít always take effect. He said that he had tossed out many Brazilians while he was working the Land Boat ride. He mentioned that Disney has banned them from several of their hotels because of the damage they cause. Does anyone know if this banning from certain hotels is accurate?
Moving on, I saw one of the bachelor gorillas licking his food bowl clean, reminding me of one of my collies.
Leaving the park, I drove over to All Star Movies where FAB (Michelle Smith from LaughingPlace) was having a talk about Disney California Adventure. The talk was scheduled for 4 PM. I arrived about 3:55 and no one was around. After some moments of a minor panic, I spotted someone with a Disneyana bag and he was talking to a DVC representative. Yeah!
He said that FAB was running late and that I was, indeed, in the correct area. The talk began and it was worth the wait. I learned the story behind the new park and much about the attractions. The ninety minutes flew, she is such a delightful and very informative speaker.
Thanks for taking the time out of your vacation to speak to us, Michelle. It was very generous of you.
I drove over to dinner at Cape May Buffet at the Beach Club. What a feast! The potatoes are wonderfulÖ
Following dinner, it was time for some mini-golf at Summerland. What fun. I think that my golf game has improved over the years. Hey, it pays to be good at something, right?
I drove back to the Institute to work on this trip report and to relax. It did feel so good to be back to my cozy, warm little room. Weather has been in the sixties during the day once it has warmed up with the lows in the forties. It was cold enough to see my breath while playing the mini-golf.
Soon, it was back to the room to read yet another exciting Disney trip report. I print them out so I always have several to carry with me.
January 27, 2001 (Saturday)
I had Mickey wake me about 7:45 AM since I wanted to get an early start on the road to Silver Springs near Ocala, Florida. It bills itself as "Motherís Natures Amusement Park". It features a glass bottom boat tour, animals of all types and several shows. I thought that it would be an interesting change from the Mouse.
When I left the property about 8:30, the weather was clear and sunny. Driving on 192 towards State Hwy. 17, the air became thick with smoke. It was so dense that even with the windows closed in the car, I was forced to mouth breath. I was becoming alarmed that this dense smoke could trigger an asthma attack in myself. Since I so rarely have an attack these days, my reactive medicine is expired. I made a mental note with my self that I need to correct this with a doctor when I arrive home.
Pulling onto Hwy. 17, state troopers blocked the entrance. They were redirecting all traffic and I was forced along with the traffic flow. I eventually found myself on Hwy. 17 Southbound.
Pulling off at an exit that I began to recognize, I noted this area was less smoky and was also the exit for Bok Tower Gardens. I decided to call Silver Springs and they confirmed that they were not in a smoky area, but getting to them was very difficult with the highway closed.
So, a quick change of plans and on to Bok Gardens. With this awkward name, I wasnít expecting much. This had been on my list to do all one of my trips to Florida, so it wasnít totally unexpected.
The gardens were lovely! Even the shaded parking lots filled with oak trees and draping moss and lots of friendly squirrels was beautiful. The parking lot reminded me of the old Knottís Berry Farm parking, years ago.
I walked into the visitorís center and viewed the film. I noted that there was a house tour scheduled of the 1930 estate mansion three hours from now. Drat, I thought, I wonít be here that long.
I had a fantastic time exploring the lovely quiet gardens with all of the friendly squirrels. I took some birdseed out of one of the abundant feeders and hand fed quite a few squirrels for quite some time. They crawled into my hands and up my arms and legs to get the sunflower seeds. They were really quite tame and so cute! I wish that I could have taken several squirrels home. Yes, I know that wouldnít have worked, but they were that cute.
Admiring the many wood ducks and even more squirrels in the pond window was like watching a nature film in action. They had a small wooden hut, which several visitors who came into it, remarked that they thought this was a restroom, where one could view a pond almost directly below them. The sign noted that gators were seen fairly often, but much to the ducks and my own relief, I didnít spot any. I think the wood ducks would have noticed first.
I spend almost twenty minutes in the shed, it was Natureís Miracle. It was time to explore even more of the gardens. I saw the huge Bok Tower with the ringing bells, surrounded by a pond filled with three gigantic white koi. There were several sand hill cranes walking about, just enjoying the gardens like everyone else.
The gardens were not crowded and there were lots of empty places to escape from anyone. It was wonderfully relaxing. So relaxing, in fact, that when I finally looked at my watch and noted that the house tour began in an hour. With a lunch, I had time to go!
I had lunch in their on-site cafť, which was actually quite good. The tuna sandwich and mint chocolate chip ice cream cone was delicious. The prices were cheaper than I had seen in several days, too.
The mansion tour was $5.00 and lasted an hour. A neighbor, Mr. Buck, not Mr. Bok, built the mansion for his six week Florida vacation, where he came to escape the Pennsylvania winters. He has seven acres, adjoining Mr. Bokís gardens.
The Spanish style twenty-room mansion was very nice, all 10,000 square feet of it. The tour guide was very casual, basically opening the door and one could stay with the tour guide and hear the spiel or they could wander on their own. I did some of both. The grounds on the estate were lovely, lots of old oak trees draped with the Spanish moss.
Mr. Buck had employed ten full time gardeners year-round for his six-week vacation and it still showed. Once the tour was over, we were led into Bok Gardens again and reentered a little Florida paradise.
Well, paradise is not complete without a gift shop. It was small, but well stocked with an emphasis on garden and nature products. I purchased a tour book on little known Florida attractions and a Florida map. AAA had been out of Florida maps when I checked before leaving on my vacation.
I sat around the parking lot some more, feeding more squirrels. They are just so cute. One buried the seeds that I gave him, digging a little hole, burying the seed, and tamping down the hole to avoid air pockets, just like any good gardener. No wonder that squirrels is responsible for most of the trees in any forest. I wish that I could employ one in my woods! After all, he would work for peanuts!
I drove to nearby, Chalet Suzanne, a historic hotel with a wonderful name. It was a very unique resort, overpriced in my opinion.
It was back to the Cotton Mill at Dixie Landings for some dinner of one of my favorites, Minnie Spaghetti and a chocolate cake. Wonderful!
Soon it was back to the Institute for some rest and some computer time. About three hours later, I took a stroll over to Downtown Disney Marketplace. It was about 10:30 PM, but most of the shops were open until 11:30. I looked in several shops and thought about what I might like to purchase. I am going to look around, pick out several items, and then check the Beltz Outlet before I purchase anything.
I did join the Safari Club at the Rainforest Cafť, thanks to Sue Hollandís (mailto:WDW1972@aol) great description of the club benefits. It did sound like a good deal.
It is $10.00 to join and you receive a $10.00 off coupon for immediate use. A few weeks in the future, you receive another coupon. The best feature of the club is their no wait policy for Safari members. When you approach the elephant for a table, you mention your card and are assigned the next available table. This eliminated a forty-five minute wait the first time I used the card.
Walking back to the Institute, close to midnight, I got slightly lost, but overcame this and finally found my room, Room 825, top floor, non-smoking with a lake view. What a wonderful room!
I read a bit before falling a sleep, after midnight.
January 28, 2001 (Sunday)
No Mickey this morning, I unplugged the phone last night. I woke about 9:15, and read the Sunday paper until 10. I learned the 300-acre brush fire yesterday had been caused by a semi overturning onto some power lines near the highway, and thus sparked a wildfire in the very dry brush. It began on Tuesday, my first day here and has been burning ever since. I had noticed it some from the property, but only a little. Off property, though, it was unavoidable.
The article stated I-4 would be affected today with fans possibly having trouble reaching the Super Bowl in Tampa, which is today.
I spent several hours doing laundry and updating this trip report. Eventually, I went out to the car and drove over to Wilderness Lodge. I thought it would be fun to relax in the beautiful lobby for a while. I parked myself into the rocking chairs near the misty stream in the far lobby area. After a while, I became bored and hopped the boat to the MK.
Walking into the park, I was curious to see what the crowd level would be on a Super bowl Sunday. The shops were empty about 1 PM. I spent a while looking around. I havenít seen much yet that appeals to me except for a relaxed Mickey shirt and a Pluto phone. The phone is adorable, but the problem is I already have an adequate phone.
I strolled through some more shops and enjoyed a chocolate chip ice cream treat from the Sleepy Hollow bakery. This is one of the best desserts in the WDW complex. Although, I reserve judgment until I try the chocolate flourless lava cake at the Flying Fish someday. Note: Once I tried the lava cake, I still think the ice cream cookie sandwich is better. It has much more chocolate.
Anyway, I rode Peter Pan and climbed into a Hunny Pot to see Poohís world. I will be anxious to try the new version that is coming to Disneyland sometime.
I made a few phone calls and decided that the MK was hot and somewhat crowded. The lobby at the Lodge was sounding more appealing, so I hopped into boat across the lake. I went to the second floor and sat near the gas fireplace for a few minutes while thinking about where to have a nice dinner. I can only take so many nights at the food court, after all!
I had been wanting to try different restaurants on this trip, so I choose The Concourse Steakhouse in the Contemporary. Making a PS before leaving, I drove the car to the desired place.
I had a minutes wait before the restaurant opened at 5:30 and took a look at the Chef Mickeyís. I normally love Chef Mickeyís, but I just wasnít in the mood for a big meal tonight.
Dinner was good. I had a Caesar salad followed by the half of a petite grilled filet minor and garlic smashed potatoes. Wonderful. You could certainly feel when the monorail was approaching by the entire shaking of the restaurant. This was something I had not noticed in Chef Mickeyís, probably due to the noise of the mouseís restaurant.
Most of the Contemporary was pretty quiet, so after dinner I drove over to the Cotton Mill for some dessert. I continued home to the Institute and turned in early tonight. I was tired.
January 29, 2001 (Monday)
Mickey rang about 8 AM. Little did the Mouse know that I was sneaking off to Universal. I bet he wouldnít have called if he had known.
I arrived at the ticket windows by 9:30 and purchased a two-day pass, reserving one day for the future. Once my adventure began, I turned straight into Dr. Seuss land and checked out the Green Eggs and Ham restaurant. Yes, they are green. I wonder how many they sell.
I decided that the Cat In The Hat ride couldnít be too bad considering it was a kidís ride. Wrong! That car spun out of control so many times that I was very thankful I had only looked at the green eggs. It is a very similar ride to Roger Rabbit, but you have no way to control the ride vehicle. Never again, I said I am.
I did One Fish, Two Fish. This is a Dumbo type Ride Fish. Not much difference here.
Moving onward to the Lost Continent, I didnít see anything I trusted. Cat in The Hat had me convinced I would try nothing strange again. I like my Green Eggs and Ham in my tummy, where they belong, I cried out, in a song.
I did spy Dudley Do-Right Ripsaw Falls and thought a ride on that looked fun. I suited up in my Gore-Tex and followed the worldís longest cue, which was empty, thank goodness, and boarded the log. Drenched by the drop and it seemed two buckets of water had hit me straight in the face, I thought it was fun.
I viewed the comics by King Features come to life. I saw Olive Oyl, Popeye and Bluto, Beetle Bailey and several others. Most of all, I finally saw a Dagwood sandwich and some of Cathyís Hot Fudge Sauce. Neither one of them would share.
On Olive Oylís boat, it was great fun to soak the Bill-Rats on the boats with super soaker water guns. I got so many people wet! I never knew I could be so evil. I hope they forgive me or at least, not remember what I looked like!
Traveling through Superhero land, I awed at the folks on the coasters, but none was for me. I was still wiped out by the Cat.
I made one more complete tour of the park before deciding that I had seen everything in about three hours.
I walked over to the Portfolio hotel and looked around and returned by boat to Citywalk. There it was a short stroll to my car. The parking garage certainly reminded me of Mickey and Friends Parking at Disneyland.
Back to the Institute at about 4 PM. I read some trip reports on the sunny balcony, until the ducks in the lake discovered me. Since I had feed them yesterday and this morning, they quaked when I opened my patio door. They were expecting another food court repeat. I did give them some treats and when they werenít looking, I retreated back inside the safety of my room. Tomorrow, I wonít open my curtains at all! Ahhh!
But, dear reader, never fear. I could never hurt a friend of Donaldís. Quack, Quack!
Dinner was in the room from the Cotton Mill, even more of my Minnie Spaghetti. Soon, it was back to the Institute for another night of rest.
January 30, 2001 (Tuesday)
Today I was rather tired, so I decided to rest. By resting, I mean that I woke about 10 AM. I showered and dressed and put in a load of laundry. While the clothes are washing, I walked over to The Gathering, the buffet at the Institute. I had always enjoyed Seasons, the previous dinging room in the past, but that had been replaced with this new semi-restaurant buffet line.
One of the reasons I had enjoyed Seasons so much was that I never saw it crowded; in fact, I was usually one of only three or four diners in the place during meal times. No wonder it had closed.
The Gathering had a buffet of eggs, potatoes, bacon and fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt and an assortment of pastries. I even found some of the MK banana nut bread there! The price was $9.95 and a sign stated no tipping was allowed! Can you believe it?
The price seemed more reasonable considering that just one slice of the banana nut bread costs $2.50 over at the parks. All in all, it was a good breakfast and I had the place to myself. I was the only customer there with plenty of attention from the three wait persons. And, no tipping allowed!
Returning to put the laundry in the dryer, I feed the ducks along the beautiful little lake that surrounds the bungalows here at the Institute. I read some of my trip reports and waited for the clothes.
Afterwards, I decided to rent a bicycle for a trip over to Oliviaís at Old Key West. I enjoy OKW as it is very relaxing over there. The muted pastels on the buildings are very calming to me. I finally found my way to Oliviaís and parked my bike at Hankís near the waterfront.
Lunch was wonderful! I ordered a chicken salad with baby fields green lettuce. It came with one olive, one large tomato slice, a still warm grilled half of a chicken breast, and warm glazed nuts. I had some key lime honey mustard dressing on the side and a multi-grain roll topped with warm honey butter. Winnie the Pooh would have found enough honey (well, maybe) in this meal.
I followed with the red velvet chocolate cake. I ate about half the salad and half the cake. I took the remaining salad with me for dinner and left the cake. The cake was good, but not great. The salad was better.
Continuing onward, I took a Disney Vacation Club tour of the new Boardwalk Villas. I had not seen those before and was curious. Although I am sure it is a wonderful deal for many members, it doesnít appeal to me right now. Maybe, in the future.
Returning to my bike, I pedaled over to the Institute Gardens. What a shame! I used to enjoy Disneyís Way To Grow on the Home and Garden Network. Unfortunately, I guess the show wasnít popular enough. The hosts were always a little weird, but the content was informative, I thought.
Anyway, the garden looks like it has been almost totally neglected. Two of the large Mickey and Minnie topiaries are ruined and the ponds are leaking, everything that is not dead is overgrown and it is a total mess. Where are those Disney gardens fairies? Tsk, tsk, Disney.
I retuned my salad to my room fridge and continued my bike tour. I had followed the Conch Flats trial, thanks to Sue Holland (WDW1972) and had found it very enjoyable. I also biked along several of the golf cart paths, since there were no golfers present.
Returning my bike, I rested in my room. I ate the remaining of my salad for dinner. Later, I walked over to Downtown Disney for a one scoop Ghiradelli sundae, which was marvelous. I just looked at several of the shops before walking back to the room.
My room location is great, Room 825. I am close enough to walk to anywhere in DD, which is really nice since parking can be troublesome over there.
January 31, 2001 (Wednesday)
I slept in again and had some breakfast of cereal in the room. Today was another day of rest. So, after reading some more trip reports (thanks to all of you writers out there, I love the reports!), I decided to walk over to OKW. This was before I had stepped out of my room.
Once outside, the heat was terrible! Hot, sunny and very humid. I canít imagine what it must be like in the summer. How does anyone do Disney in the summer?
Well, I pretended that someday I might be a Floridian and walked anyway. It didnít take me long, about twenty minutes, to arrive at the back of Old Key West. I walked along more of the deserted gold course and through the Disney Institute tree house villas. Those are very pretty. I wonder what they would be like to stay in?
I walked until I was tired, about two and a half hours. I returned to have a sandwich for lunch in my room.
For dinner, I decided to go out to the Garden Grill over at the Land in Epcot. It is one of my favorite restaurants. Dinner was excellent. I donít care for the new dessert of the apple cobbler with the pastry crust top and the whipped cream. Itís tasty, but itís too difficult to eat without making a mess. I miss the apple cobbler crumbs and the cinnamon ice cream.
The wait staff at the restaurant was terrific. Chip admitted that he had prepared the entire meal, Dale didnít help one bit. Farmer Mickey was polite, but a bit standoffish compared with the very friendly chipmunks.
I inquired to Mickey about where his serious girlfriend was and he signed that she was on the phone. He then put his paws on his hips and pointed to me! He must know Iím on the phone a lot, too. LOL.
I mostly fell in love with the big yellow dog, Pluto. What a great guy. He got down on his knees, twice, and purposed! He didnít have the ring, but I still said "Yes!". At the end of the meal, Pluto came up again and got down on bended knee. I smiled, we joined arms and we were walking down the isle, leaving the restaurant, when all of a sudden, Mickey appears and takes Pluto by the collar. Oh, no! My dog-man is nailed! No Merry Wedding for me. That Mickey, he ruined everything. Pluto and I were going to run off together.
Disappointed, I needed something to release my frustration. I got in the single rider line for Test Track. There, now I feel better, though, Iím still a little mad at Mickey. Itís a very good thing it wasnít The Beast, my favorite Disney man, purposing. All I need to do is to find a way to murder off that Belle and Iím in the castle door. Maybe, I can get that little Lumiere guy to help. I hear that he does the dishes.
I rode The Spirit of Norway IS Adventure before exiting into the Illuminations fireworks. Do they always let you skip the movie now?
Well, I wanted a Mickey sundae at the Beaches and Cream, but I was good and resisted. Home to look at Mouse planet until turning in at midnight.
February 1st, 2001 (Thursday)
Up and at Ďem, Pal, Mickey says about 9:30 AM. Mickey knows better than to call me too early. I have forgiven him for the night before, but just barely.
Over to breakfast at Boat wrights in Dixie Landings. I love those fresh blueberry pancakes. Absolutely wonderful.
Returning from shopping at Fultonís General Store, I look at my Florida maps to find the directions to Mount Dora. This is a small town of 10,000 about forty-five minutes away from WDW. Itís filled with antique shops and quaint shops. It sounds charming.
Ninety minutes later, in the rain having taken the long way down Hwy. 441, I arrive. It is such as charming as I imagined. I especially enjoy meeting Tigger at the Piglet Pooch Dog Bakery. Tigger is the adopted greyhound on petting duty today. Pooh and Piglet have the day off.
Tigger is munching on a dog cookie when I enter the store. All of the dog goodies are baked fresh on the premise. I admire the birthday cake and the truffles. The dog Oreos look wonderful.
I scrunch Tigger and we have a little chat. The store has been open five years.
But, I must now on. I search through the other shops. I purchased a book on Skunk Ownership that I wanted.
Recalling that Mount Dora has a small railroad that operates, I go looking for it. I find it, twenty minutes before the last dispatch of the day. Lucky me! For $10.00 I take an hourís journey back in time on a 1928 streetcar that runs parallel to Lake Dora and into the next town and back.
I bring a box tuna salad sandwich for lunch for the train and settle in for my journey. We spot lots of vultures that are attracted by the dying fish in the lake. There are hundreds of vultures in the lakeshore trees. The fish are dying because they are a non-native species that when the lake gets below 50 in the winter dies off, and this attracts the birds.
The guide on the streetcar explains a little history of the town. He points out a bald eagle nest in a field on orange groves. What a huge nest! We not even close to it on the train and you can see that it is enormous.
The streetcar, which is called the Doodlebug, runs on the weekdays. On of the weekends, they run an authentic steam train. However that costs $18.00 since it uses more fuel.
Overall, it is a nice train ride. I really enjoyed it. Lake Dora is very pleasant, although filled with gators, according to the guide. The fish also have seven times more mercury than normal as well. He stated that some water-ski on the lake, in the summer, but he says they are merely potential bait for the gators. This would encourage me to get really good at water-skiing really fast!
Returning home on the Florida Turnpike in only forty-five minutes, I decide to go out for dinner at Jeff Foxworthyís Bar-B-Que on I-192, near Celebration. Once I find this little restaurant (Oh, Jeff, you need a much bigger sign on 192), it was closed for a private dinner party. Drat! The little plaster pigs looked so cute and the Christmas lights, are too cute for words! But closed, nonetheless.
I returned to try the Safari Club card at Rainforest Cafť at Downtown Disney. An hour wait outside, I waved the card and was told to approach the Gorilla! I was given a table, near one of the relaxing fish tanks right away. No wait! Thanks Sue Holland for mentioning the Safari Card in your wonderful funny trip reports.
Following a great hamburger dinner, I shopped for some Pooh and Mickey truffles at the Gourmet Panty before returning back to the Institute. The truffles, all four, lasted about five minutes before I wolfed them down. I decided that I wasnít about to make them last for days, just chewing off the ears!
I worked on the trip report before going to bed.
February 2, 2001 (Friday)
I decided that Jeff Foxworthyís Bar-be-Que on 1- 192, seemed worthwhile enough for a return visit. Hopefully, today they will be open to the public! After taking care of some things around the room, I ventured out to the mega mess that dominates the 192. It is strip of mega signs, hotels and motels, nearly every chain restaurant in America (so it seems) along with various tourist traps. It really makes me wonder what it would be to live in Celebration with all of that down the road.
Mr. Fox worthyís was open! His little piece of a down home restaurant is sandwiched between a Pizza Hut and a Red Lobster as well as sharing a common wall with a huge liquor store. It is very small and very easy to miss, please call ahead for exact directions, if you wish to check his bar-be-que.
Passing the pig taking a bath (a cute cut-out cartoon figure) on the right while entering the restaurant, I ordered the pork sandwich and some corn on the cob. I choose a seat in a pick-up truck bed and looked around the restaurant. A fishing boat was suspended from the ceiling, the tables were decorated in laminate with redneck expressions, and a comedy tape of Jeff routine was blaring in the background intermixed with country songs. None of the bar stools matched and hubcaps were on the bottom of the chairs to be used as foot rests. A huge sign near the back pointed the way to the outhouse, right past the little gift store selling Foxworthyís books. Large Christmas lights were strewn around the room. It was cute.
Locals from a construction crew were dining there. I didnít see any other tourists; none with cameras like myself, at least. I would recommend at least one visit if you like unique dining and good food.
Onto sanctuary! I drove over to MGM for a RAPD Ground Hog Day meet at Hunchback of Notre Dame. Catherine had organized the meeting for the 2:05 PM show. Spotting her homemade sign was easy and the meet was fun. We exchanged names and small talk while watching the show. Afterwards, we all went our separate ways.
I had already seen Muppets 3-D a few minutes earlier and had walked around the Studios. It was cold and drizzly out. I was cold and tired. Every single time I have gone to MGM, it has rained. I couldnít believe the spell continued yesterday. Of course, I have only been to WDW in the winter, so they explain some of my luck. Either that, or Iíll have to constant my tarot cards a little bit more. LOL.
Leaving early from MGM, I got the tail end of the Mulan parade. When are they going to change that? It has been running for years. Enough already! I am Mulaned out.
I was in the mood for warmth. I drove over to the Grand Floridian for afternoon tea about 3:30. What a great idea. So great that many other people had the same idea and I had to wait twenty minutes for a table. But, I soaked up the atmosphere of the lobby reading some handy trip reports.
I had the assortment of tea sandwiches, the fresh fruit plate and some herbal raspberry tea. Wonderful! It was cozy sitting while watching the mist off rise off the pool and sipping my tea.
A mother and daughter were sitting to the left of me, sharing some tea and cute little Mrs. Potts child tea (chocolate milk). The little girl, of about four, climbed into momís lap and cuddled. It was a magical moment.
I braved the rain again while sloshing back to the car and drove over to Goodingís for some food for the room. $42.00 later, I was restocked again. Yes, I should have gone to Publix, but it was near dark, rainy and cold. I didnít feel like taking any more time than necessary.
I did find time to shop in Bath and Body Works to purchase some Juniper Mint bubble bath for my spa time back in the room. This is nice nation-wide store, located close to Goodingís.
Back to the room for some time on MousePlanet. About eight oíclock, I had a dinner of spaghetti and some chocolate cake. Then, more computer time. I watched some TV before turning in for the night.
February 3, 2001 (Saturday)
Well, Mickey called at 7:50 AM this morning because I was planning to go (again) to Silver Springs, which is about two hours away. For better or worse, I told Mickey not to bother me right nowÖand rolled over.
I was finally out of bed by 10 AM. Cringe, all you commandos out there, this is my trip report. By 11:15, I had packed a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, carrots, Fritos, and bottled water. I decided since it was almost noon to go to Gatorland! Since it is about thirty minutes from the World, it fit nicely into the time schedule.
A quick stop at Walgreenís Drugs for some supplies and a quick return to the Institute room for my rain coat since it had started raining while I was in the drug store. Again, I was off to see the Gators.
For several years, I have wanted to visit this park. I had never found the time. This was a shame because as I discovered, it is really a nice park.
I had imagined that it was some sort of little tourist trap off 192. Well, itís a 110 acre park (bigger than Disneyland) and chock full of hundreds of gators, snakes, and various other animals.
I was just in time for the famous Jumping Gator Jumperoo show. I could barely pay my $14.34, discount AAA price fast enough. I got my little green alligator stamp on my hand and exited the gift shop.
"Go Gator, Jump", the crowds roared at the Gators, who were peering at some chicken breasts being dangled above them on a rope. About thirty gators were in the direct show area. Not one seemed interested in any chicken.
The guide strapped himself to the dock with a chain cable lest any gator try to pull him into the water, waved his hat and yelled at the gators to get their attention. One gator just peered at him, the other twenty-nine seemed not to notice the yelling.
Finally (and a good thing since itís a fifteen minute show), one of the gators took a chicken leg from the guideís hand. And then, another until about five gators had dined on a little chicken. Then, a raw steak was dangled over the water. Ahh! The crowd cheered. A very large gator jumped and missed. Another smaller gator jumped and got the steak.
The guide explained the gators were sluggish in the cold water. In the summer, they actually jump out of the water, rising like Shamu, and grab that chicken.
I liked the fact that the lagoon was very open. The gators could choose to participate in the show or they could not show up. It was their decision. A dinner was ringed prior to the show, but Iím not sure if that was for the gators attention or the guests. It was a good show.
The bait shop, which sold hot dogs for $2.50 was open. A few British tourists bought some food. The gators didnít seem too interested. Finally, about five gators managed to eat the four hot dogs, very slowly. My own canines at home are a lot more interested in hot dogs.
Next, I walked around the park. A lot of the walkway was covered against the rain, which was nice. Large ponds surrounded the walkway, which contained various sizes of gators.
One gator, which was very large and estimated to be about forty years old, was in his holding pen. He gathered a lot of attention due to his name, Dog Eater. The sign explained that he had lived nearby and had been captured after numerous dogs disappeared in the area. He was to be killed, but Gatorland asked for him. The sign continued that it wasnít the gators fault, food is food, and Golden Retrievers make nice tasty snacks for large gators. He has a permanent home since gators can live to be fifty to sixty years of age. It said that he had eaten a dog since moving into his new home.
Continuing with the tour, I passed gators of all kinds, Nile gators, saltwater and fresh water gators. Some were huge, eighteen feet, I would guess.
I saw the next show, Gators of the World. The guide was nice to answer all of my questions before and after the show. I hadnít realized that I knew so little about these ancient reptiles. I learned a lot today.
Continuing with the walk after this show, I passed by the breeding marsh of ten acres. A boardwalk covered the walkway and you walked right over one hundred female gators and twenty-five males. A gator could be so close to you and you wouldnít know it.
A very large female in one tank, Nile, kept her eye on me while swimming silently through the water. Iím not kidding, she never took her eyes off of me. I need to lay off the chocolate cake. I think the gators can tell that I have been snacking lately.
The next show was the Gator Wrestling. The water in the show tank is heated so the five gators were much more active. You could see the steam rising off the water. A brave fellow wrestled an eight-foot gator out of the water, held his jaws shut and played with him for a while. The most amazing part to me was him the handler flipped the gator on his back and the gator totally just laid still. After a minute, the gator flipped him and slid back in the water, ending the show. But wait! For $10.00, you could buy yourself a photo of you on the back of a gator!
Another gator was pulled from the water, his jaws were duct taped shut. Audience members lined up and each sat on the gator, put their hands around the gator jaws, and smiled for the camera. I skipped this part.
I had wanted to try some gator nuggets, but after seeing all the gators and how alive they were, I just couldnít eat any.
After viewing some venous snakes and petting some goats, I viewed even more gators. They are not kidding when they called it Gatorland. It has been open for fifty years, which is longer than you know whom.
Finally, the gift shop called. Well, at least it was the way back to the car. I did buy a bird nature song CD for my two parakeets to sign along with and some postcards. A few fudge samples were handed out. They were huge samples, too. A very nice gift shop.
Overall, Gatorland was nice. Their brochure says, "Are you tired of high tech, but low entertainment rides? Well, come to Gatorland, were the thrills are low-tech, but the fun is high tech."
I heard a lot of British accents at the park. Smokers were on some of the pathways. But, overall, it was a great time. It was something different. It would be a nice day (or a couple of hours) to spend when you wanted to get a break from the crowds of Disney.
Driving down the Florida turnpike, I went to Chick-A-Fillet for dinner. This is near The Crossroads shopping center on 535. It was kind of like a cross between Boston Market and Carlís Jr. for the West Coast readers. It was fast food, but very high quality and really reasonable prices. Itís closed on Sundays, a tradition since the restaurant was started in 1948.
I would also recommend this place. I had the chicken Caesar salad and the dressing is served separately. It also came with garlic butter crotons and sunflower kernels on the side as well. It was $3.59 and it had all white meat chicken.
I also had some chicken soup to go and it was very tasty. Four stars! Oh, and fresh carnations were on every table. This was quite impressive for a fast food place. Again, very, very nice.
I returned to the room, dropped some things off and walked over to Downtown Disney. It was crowded, but then itís a Saturday night. I bought the new WDW 2001 CD and paperback book about romantic flower stories for Valentineís Day. I also had a quick trip into Ghiradelliís for a single scoop sundae of chocolate chip ice cream with butterscotch topping and lots of crunchy almonds. Yummy!
Also, earlier in the day, I had stopped by Krispy Kreme Donuts on 192. Itís located near Wild Billís dinner theatre. This was my first time into one of their stories where you can watch the donuts being made. Very interesting. Two senior fellows had been there for half an hour watching the donuts baking away. They said they had learned a lot about donut making.
Watching the assembly line, I thought of Eisnerís tortilla making press at the new DCA. I wonder if he got the idea from Krispy Kreme. I wonder if it will as popular.
Soon, it was time to work on this report and think about the day. I learned a bunch of facts on gators and donuts. HmmÖI wonder how I can make the connection on those two? I know. When I was walking over to Downtown Disney tonight, I spotted a gigantic gator in the Disney canal, swimming along. I was getting nervous when suddenly the gigantic gator began quaking. Yes, quaking. It tuned out to be three mallards swimming in a row. It was dark out, okay. Now, if I can only see three swimming quacking gators eating Krispy Kreme donutsÖbut then, Iíd have to go to the Adventureís Club (Kungaloosh!) for that to work!
Time for bed.
February 4, 2001 (Sunday)
Well, another day was planned to be driving around to see several sights, but when Mr. Mickey Mouse called, sleep called as well. A day in the Magic Kingdom was decided upon for this sunny Sunday.
I did get a late start, but took the time to go see the Disney Institute gardens once again. Itís a shame they are in such a bad shape. I miss Disneyís Way To Grow on Home and Garden TV.
Since it was time for lunch, I decided to try Oliviaís once again. The place is never crowded (so far, I think I have been fortunate in this matter) and is rather relaxing with the big twirling palm leaf fans.
I had half of the grilled chicken breast sandwich and iced water. The waiter, John from New York, was rather pushy and kept rushing me through my meal. Luckily, I had plenty of trip reports to read and I didnít rush. I tend to be a slow eater anyway, but he was overbearing. Other than this, was another fine meal.
Driving over to the Poly, I took the monorail into the park of the day. I first went into the AAA office to obtain some Florida maps. I had tried to get these maps in California, but the office did not have anything but the state map. I got so many Florida maps, the AAA employee jokily asked if I was starting my own map store!
When I was leaving with all of my maps, the well-dressed employee said cheerfully, "Have A Triple A Day!". I thought this was rather cute.
I also got into a nice little chat about my Landsí End jacket. The majority of my clothing comes from this company in Wisconsin. I find almost everything to be of very high quality and reasonable prices.
Next, I just walked around, soaking in the atmosphere. I didnít think it was crowded, although Pooh had a forty-five minute stand-by time. I used my Fast Pass and waited less than five minutes.
I did several other attractions and explored several shops. I delighted in another chocolate chip ice cream cookie sandwich at the Sleepy Hollow Bakery. I think this is the best dessert on property. It was a warm cookie sandwiched with vanilla ice cream. It was messy and chocolate ends up all over, but oh, so delicious. It is much better quality than a regular Chipwich, which I wonít even eat.
It was just fun being in the Magic Kingdom. It is my favorite park. I like something about each park and they all have their own charm, but the MK has the most magic for me.
In Fantasyland near Itís a Small World, I noticed a bunch of people leaning over a railing. I had to see for myself what had gathered this large crowd. AHH! A mama duck and her nine ducklings. Most were not bigger than two cotton balls put together. They were all swimming in this little pond. It was so cute.
One duckling ran up the stairs and was getting lost out into the crowd of people. Mamma Duck didnít notice and was busy preening herself in the little waterfall. I decided that it was time to do some duck herding and herded the little pepping fluff ball back into safety. I just hope that it doesnít continue to wander off.
A lady walked by who was wearing my same color Landsí End jacket! I stopped to talk with her. She said that LE was the best. She said that she was glad that she had her heavy Wisconsin jacket since it was cold today, probably in the 60ís and slightly drizzly. She asked where I was from to have an equally warm jacket.
I replied that I was just a cold Southern Californian who liked Wisconsin type clothing! We both got a good laugh out of it.
I had made PS for Tonyís Town Square for 6:40 PM with the park closing at 7:00 PM. After waiting ten minutes, my name was called and I was led to my table.
I decided upon the baby field green salad and the childís spaghetti and meatball. The waitress discouraged me from ordering a childís meal. It was $4.99 and the adult meal was $17.99. I knew that I would never eat the amount in the adult. I inquired to her manager who said that it was okay, this time. I explained that I have always ordered childrenís meals all over WDW and have never had a problem. Whew! That was a close one.
I do hate the very large portions they serve in many of the restaurants. The food just goes to waste, money is overspent. I would order the adult if they came in reasonable sizes. A twenty oz. Steak, like I saw on the menu over at Le Cellar, is not a reasonable portion.
I have taken to boxing up any extra of my leftover food, if I have to order an adult meal because nothing on the childís menu interests me. I take the food out any feed it to the ducks and gulls that surround every park. Of course, this only works if it is good for the birds. They love any leftover salads, no dressing.
Anyway, a nice meal was had at Tonyís. I did get a one-scoop sundae for my dessert. Following the meal, I watched the lights on the castle change colors and just enjoyed Main Street. It was very refreshing to see it mainly empty. I took a few photos with Goofy and Roy and Minnie.
Since City Hall was still open, I went in to write out a guest comment card. When I walked to the front desk and asked for the comment card, the cast member inquired if it was a good comment or a negative comment? When I replied that it was good, faces lit up. The CM politely and courteously handed me the form and pointed out that her name was Regina. Cast Member Curtis, who also pointed out his name, graciously uncapped my pen and asked if I wanted any water. Was there anything he could do for me? Hint, hint.
I actually filled out the form commenting that Cast Member, Lois, over at MGM Studios was a delight for the guests. I had run into her two years ago and instantly recognized her when I saw her again this year. She is such a standout.
She is a silver haired senior who retired after years as a grade school teacher. She moved to Florida and got a job at the World. You can tell that she really enjoys interacting with the guests.
Afterwards, I spent some time talking with the CM at the desk. I asked about Silver Springs Amusement Park and directions. The horrors, I know. I wasnít really sure if they would give me directions to another park. To relieve my guilt, I explained that I was an AP holder in Disney World and Disneyland. There that did it. I was absolved. Whew!
I was rounded up by the guard and put on the last monorail out of the Magic Kingdom for that evening. Time to get back to the room while my pumpkin still worked its magic.
February 5, 2001 (Monday)
Another day for sleeping in. I am definitely not doing any commando touring on this trip. I have done that in the past. It has its own fun and rewards, but I want this trip to be a very relaxing one.
I got to Epcot in time for lunch. I had read about how great the Cheddar Cheese soup is at Le Cellar and I wanted to try some for myself. So, I made a PS for 12:40 and set off to Canada. Parking at the Beach Club and walking in, I arrived about half hour early. Still, I was shown to a table.
The restaurant only had about six other people in it at the time. I had the soup, which was outstanding. I thought that it was going to be a thick cheddar potato sort of chowder. Rather it was a thin cheddar soup with a little bit of a bite. I would highly recommend it.
Next, I had half of a grilled salmon BLT sandwich, which someone had recommended in his or her trip report. They stated it was the best sandwich they had ever eaten. Well, I wouldnít go that far, but it was good.
It was fresh salmon between some sourdough baguette with lettuce, bacon and tomato and a garlic mayonnaise spread. It was served with rather ordinary steak fries. I think their fries could some improvement. It seemed a lot brighter in this restaurant today than it has in the past. Was I sitting in a different section or did they lighten it up?
After this delicious lunch, I took a ride on the AT & T attraction, Spaceship Earth. This set off my motion sickness some and I felt a sudden urge to return to the room and finish some overdue laundry.
It is amazing that I can ride Splash Mountain for hours, but one trip on Spaceship Earth can do me in. Test Track, no problem, Spaceship Earth, and I get problems. That backwards decline is terrible.
Laundry done in two hours, I just continued to rest until it was time for dinner. Once in a while, I feel the need to go off site just to get in touch with real world food prices. I decided to have a hamburger at the World Famous Jungle Jimís in the Crossroads shopping center, near Goodingís Supermarket.
This restaurant reminds me of a cross between a Red Robin and a Rainforest Cafť. However, the prices are very reasonable. Two scarlet macaws greet you in the side window under the pride of animals as you walk in the door. I was seated at a quiet table in the non-smoking section. Thatís one thing I notice right away when I go off property is the smoking. It is terrible! I am so thankful that Disney controls it so well. I am so fussy about smoking since I find it so irritating.
Anyway, my steak burger was delicious along with more fries. I tried to order some fruit for the fries, but they were not available. Too bad. This is my only objection to Jungle Jimís. It is a nice place. Faster, quicker, and much cheaper than the Rainforest, but a somewhat close imitation. If you were looking for any of the above, I would highly recommend this restaurant. It was so nice to see real world food prices again.
I strolled around Downtown Disney some and enjoyed a new scoop sundae at Ghirardelliís. I love their chocolate chip ice cream, butterscotch topping and crunchy almonds in a beautiful little glass goblet. Nice and relaxing.
A tour of the World of Disney store followed. I only purchased a relaxed blue Mickey with a garden flower tee shirt. I was holding out for Beltz Outlet.
After all of this excitement, I jumped in the car and drove back to the Institute for another night of Disney dreams and magic.
February 6, 2001 (Tuesday)
I was awake about 8:30 AM this morning. I watched the fog rise off the lake here at the Institute. What a pretty sight.
About 10:30 AM, I headed out for some breakfast over at Boat Wrightís. I felt like some more of their delicious blueberry pancakes. They fill the pancake full of little moist plump blueberries, it was one of the best dishes on property, I think.
After a relaxing and hearty breakfast by the gas log fire, I feed the remaining pancakes to the ducks near the marina. They really seemed to enjoy it as much as I did.
After purchasing the latest issue of People in the Fultonís general store, I headed out to the Beltz outlet. Since I have been there several times now, I had no trouble finding the store. However, I think they are difficult to find since the outlet is so large. It claims to be the largest outlet in the US. Iím not sure about that, but it is the largest I have seen.
I did find three nightshirts for myself. All were marked at half price off their original retail of $40.00. I also found some cute Mickey lamp head finals and a couple of Eyore beanies right in time for the upcoming Valentineís Day. I looked at the watches, but I couldnít find anything that I found that appealing.
I did see another mother duck and her six babies, paddling around in the streambed that separates the Beltz buildings. She and her children certainly her cute!
Afterwards, I took a drive down International Drive. It is not too crowded during the day when most people are at the parks. Nighttime is a different story.
I drove to Ripleyís Believe or Not Museum and paid my $10.50 admission, saving $2.00 with AAA. It seemed smaller than the one in Hollywood, but I could be wrong. It was still interesting, in a National Enquirer sort of way. The chamber of horrors was rather ghastly. I had recently seen an exhibit of torture devices used during the Inquisition at the Museum of Man in San Diego. So I am now more prepared for that type of exhibit, but still the horrific things humans have done to each other is beyond shocking.
I exited through the revolving rock barrel tunnel, a mistake on my part. This increased my motion sickness and I weaved my way out to the car. A few minutes in the air conditioning and I was all right again. Driving past the worldís largest McDonaldís, I returned to the Crossroads.
I shopped for some supplies at Goodingís and Valentineís Day at Hallmark. I picked up some dinner at Chick Filletís down the road from the shopping center. I wanted to try their chicken sandwich. It was very tasty. I was surprised that it is served warm, though. Again, I highly recommend this healthy fast food restaurant when you are in the area.
Returning to the room, I rested and played on the computer for nearly three hours. There was a lot of Disney stuff to catch up on. I worked on the trip report before finally making my way to bed at about 12:30 AM.
February 7, 2001 (Wednesday)
Well, I was planning on going to a water park today. I donít have much choice in the Disney parks since only Typhoon Lagoon is open. However, I received a call from the front desk late last night saying that I had to stitch rooms. I am at the end of my fourteen-day stay, but I have continuing reservations. I was told when I made the initial reservation that I would be able to stay in the same room.
I was now told this building, Room 825, is going down for maintenance. They offered me an upgrade to a two-bedroom townhouse, complete with two bathrooms and a full size kitchen. I didnít see the point in all of that room just for myself. I asked about a complimentary room night for the major inconvenience of moving. CM David checked with his boss, who Okayed the change. So, now after spending the morning packing, reorganizing my stuff, and doing the laundry, I am waiting for bell services to move me into my room.
After several calls to the front desk inquiring about my move, bell services sent Dave over to assist me in moving my stuff to room 836, in the next building. Of course, I had to pack everything myself.
As much as I was peeved about the move, it was actually rather a good thing because it forced me to reorganize my stuff again. It did take four hours of potential theme park time, though. At least, the Institute did comp me for one night.
Fortunately, the view out of my new room is nearly the same as the last. This room gets a little less sun since there is a large pine tree that is blocking half the window. However, I have seen several small bushtits up close so that is a plus. Nearly everything has a trade-off point.
I returned to the front desk and received new keys and a new parking pass. I am now here until February 21st. I would rather stay even longer, but the spring crowds and the higher prices will send me on my way back home once again. I already regret having to leave.
After reorganizing my stuff, I decided to mail some of it home, so I drove to a nearby Mailboxes Etc. They packed everything. It is convenient but a bit expensive. However, it beats lugging everything around with me.
I returned to have dinner at Wolfgang Puckís Express over at Downtown Disney Marketplace. I had the childís pepperoni pizza at $5.95. I thought it was overpriced. It was okay, better than a pizza hut. However, I prefer California Pizza Kitchen. Their pizza is the best and less expensive!
I tried a sample of Wolfgangís macaroni and cheese, rather bland to my taste. The ducks finished my meal once again.
I drove back to the room and changed into pants for the evening. Then I walked back through Downtown Disney, stopping at the Gourmet Pantry. I bought four peanut butter and chocolate Pooh truffles for forty cents each. Very tasty!
Walking over to Pleasure Island, I got my wristband and looked around the Adventureís Club for a while. Nothing much was going on, so I looked at the photos of the equestrians on the wall.
Soon, it was time to stand in line for the Comedy Warehouse. The first show tonight was at 8 PM. I was seated on the bottom floor in one of the chairs. I ordered a popcorn and sat back to enjoy the show.
I actually didnít think the show was very funny, a lot of barely disguised sex jokes. After the show, I waited in line for the second show while finishing my popcorn.
I was also reading my new paperback with a small flashlight while waiting in line. I tried to tune out the band that was very loudly playing nearby. People were smoking in line as well. Yuck!!!
Between the loud music and the smoke, I was very glad when the line was let into the building. I was seated in the third row of the barstool area. This time I didnít order anything.
The second show constituted of more sex jokes and bathroom humor. People with speech problems were made a joke. This is very unfunny to me.
I did take part in the show when the actors were doing a "Fill In The Blank" sequence. A book title was called for and I waved my book. Itís called, In My Search For Personal Growth, The Rest Of Me Grew Too.
So, I was teased about drinking my bottled water, which I had brought in with me, and reading a personal enlighten book while in a bar. LOL. That was fun. Little did they know, I bring my bottled water everywhere with me.
After two shows, the next did not begin for another thirty-five minutes. Since I did not feel like waiting, I walked back to my new room. I made some phone calls and finally went to bed around 12:30 AM.
February 8, 2001 (Thursday)
Mickey called at 8:45 AM. I wanted to get an early start this morning. Quit laughing, its early for me.
I left the room at 9:30 and drove to the Central Florida Zoological Gardens, which is about fourth five minutes from Walt Disney World. It is just off the I-4, so it is very easy to find.
I paid my $7.00 and entered the park, seeing some Gibbon monkeys on my left. This was school day at the zoo and place was almost overrun with children. I saw some animals that I had not seen before, including at the World Famous San Diego Zoo, to which I am a member.
The Amur leopards were new to me. They are highly endangered with an estimated population of only fifty-five left in the wild. I also viewed a breed a cattle I have never seen before.
The rest of the animals were cute. The zoo is quite small, only about twenty-five acres. I was finished with the zoo and gift shop, taking my time seeing everything and videotaping, in an hour and twenty minutes. The grounds are lovely. The shaded picnic areas were very relaxing.
Most of the animals are in wire cages, though. The zoo is not modern. If you want a relaxing few hours away from the parks, it would be worthwhile. Otherwise, I would skip it.
Continuing past Lake Monroe, which is very large, I drove into historic Stanford. I wanted to see the sights in the area. I visited the historic downtown discreet, filled with antique shops. It is not as pretty as Mt. Dora, nor as quaint, but the antique shops looked interesting.
I stopped for lunch at Sonnyís Real Pit Bar Be Que, a chain that I like. The beef sandwich and chips was good. It was very reasonable for $5.50, including a salad.
I went two the local Seminole County museum, which is located near the lakefront in a park. Admission is free of charge. Several large rooms tell the history of the area, including that Stanford was once the Celery Capital of the World. Wow!
Celery died out in the 1950ís due to the expanding industrializing areas. A re-creation of a home library was presented. Facts on the people of Stanford were displayed. I thought it was interesting that Jack Hanna, the Zoo guy, got his start at the Central Florida Zoo. I have read his autobiographies and I didnít remember that fact.
I next checked the other county museum on 17-192. It is located near the local Flea World. It didnít take long, there wasnít much to see.
I continued onward to see The Senator, probably the highlight of the day. It is just off the interstate. It is the largest known cypress tree in the United States. Calvin Coolidge dedicated it in 1927. It is huge!
By this time, I had developed a headache. I think I didnít drink enough water today. So I took some Tylenol and drove I-4 straight back, making the trip in less than an hour. I made PS for Artistís Point.
I had some trouble making my priority seating, however. This has occurred before, but I am not sure why. I called at 4 PM to make a PS for one at 5:30, right when the restaurant opens. I was told that the only seating for one was available at 7:45. Hmm? You mean they are completely booked on a weeknight right when the restaurant opens? Yes, says the dining host. I was polite and hung up the phone.
I immediately called right back and asked for a table for two at 5:30 PM. No problem, I was told. The seating host even suggested that I request a view table when I check in. They cheerily told me to have a nice dinner.
What is up with this? I have encountered this problem before and I have never understood it. I usually am forced just to start lying about how I am a party of two. I donít like the lying part, but Disney forces this upon me.
When I show up as a party of two, I fumble around for some excuse as to where the other person is and I am shown to a table for two.
This quirk in the system bugs the heck out of me. What is wrong with a party of one that I have to pretend that I am a party of two? I also donít need the sympathy of the Disney operators who find out that I am dining alone. HelloÖit is my choice. I always bring a good book with me and I have the best company. Just book the darn table for one, okay.
In spite of my dinner companion not joining me, I had a great dinner at Artist Point. I had the house signature, the cedar planked salmon from Washington, au gratin leek and potatoes and wilted spinach. Rolls accompanied the dinner with roasted garlic butter and a peach dipping sauce. Terrific! The food was excellent.
I sat next to a window, overlooking Bay Lake and watched the ferries go past. I recognized several wines from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, where I own a house.
The grilled salmon was good. I didnít think it was any better than the salmon I cook on my outside Weber grill in my backyard patio in Oregon. There I have the Salmon while looking over a sea of grass and onto a backyard pond while being serenaded by many colorful hummingbirds drinking their pre-bedtime nectar. But, for Florida, it was delicious.
If you have the time and donít mind spending the money, I would recommend this restaurant. I spent $28.75 for my dinner.
Since that didnít include dessert, I made a quick trip by the Cotton Mill to pick up two cakes, one carrot for tonight and a chocolate cake for tomorrow. Hey, I know that I will pay for this by eating Lean Cuisine forever once I get back to the real world, but for nowÖit was delicious.
Some computer time, some phone calls, some reading, and then it was time for bed about 12:30 PM.
February 9, 2001 (Friday)
Since I had a hard time falling to sleep last night due to some pain I was feeling, I took two Tylenol PM. This kept me sleeping until 10:30 AM this morning. Its no wonder I have a hard time making to those breakfast meals in the morning.
I had a phone call this morning to the West Coast and talked on the phone for thirty minutes talking about what I was going to do today since it was a Saturday. Oops! I was reminded that I had the day wrong. Wow. What a vacation. I donít even know what day it isÖI am obviously having a terrific time.
Gaining an extra day, I decided to rest some more. I read in bed until noon. This is one of the major reasons why I like to travel by myself so much. I can set my own schedule. I know I would never do this if I were with somebody.
If I were traveling with someone, I would have to be and look cherry and presentable at least by 9 or at the latest, 10 AM. Heck, here I am by myself, laying around in my Mickey nightshirt and drinking orange juice sideways in bed, looking a total messÖwhat heaven.
I havenít worried about my clothes or make-up in weeks. I put on sunscreen, comb my hair and other niceties, and go! I then go where I want, eat when I want, sleep when I want, and read what I want. I almost feel like a man, arrr, arrr. At least, most of the men I know.
I put zed around and finally left the room about one PM. I called housekeeping before I left and requested room service. I always do this since when I leave late and donít request room service, my room has been skipped, on occasion.
I drove over to Chick Fillets for lunch. I had considered getting a hamburger in the parks, but I figured since it was near lunchtime, everything would be busy. Besides, CF is healthier and certainly cheaper.
I ordered a chicken caser salad and medium diet lemonade. Their food is wonderful. I am so glad that someone recommended it in his or her trip report. Thanks! I wish we had some on the West Coast.
I took my lunch and drove over to Typhoon Lagoon for the afternoon. I had my salad in the car, parked under some shade.
I then went and bought my ticket for about $31.00. This is not an inexpensive treat. I thought about buying the annual pass for $99.00, but I didnít think I would really be here more than three times this year. Hopefully, I will be wrong.
On my way to find the lockers, I smell the mini-donuts. Oh, piggy heaven!!! Oink, oink. My Belgian Sheepdog, Stormy and I used to eat a bag or two full a year at the local fair. He loved those things, with a passion. Since he is now gone (and I really miss him), I knew I would get a bag later in the day, in his honor. Enjoy life in heaven, my little boy.
I put my stuff in a large locker, $6.00 rental for a large and it was on the bottom, too. Man, at least I remembered to bring my own towels for the Institute. Those were a buck each to rent.
I next videotaped the park. I wanted to show it to my friends at home since they have not been here, yet. This was also the first time I could really see in the park. I decided to wear my contacts. I did the water slides and did not have any problem with them, floating out.
I decided it was time to get wet! I went down each of the three body slides. Man, those stairs are steep! But, they are fun. I rode each several times.
I am too chicken for Humunga Kowabunga, so I went to Castaway Creek next. I did several floats around in my inter-tube. This is my favorite ride, so relaxing. It is more relaxing when there are less people in the creek and this did happen, as the day wore on.
I always try to arrive to the water parks late in the day. I know that I wouldnít spend more than three or four hours there by myself. I wait for the crowds to wear themselves out first and then I show up. It seems to be a pretty good system, at least, in the winter.
People were leaving when I arrived at 2 PM.
After all that water, I wanted to dry out, so I sat in the sun. But, first, I had to have the mini-donuts. I bought a bag and some orange juice. Sitting in a beach chair, reading my book on flowers and romance (for Valentineís Day), eating my fresh hot sugary donuts, sipping my juice, life just doesnít get any better. It was wonderful.
This was one of my best times on the entire vacation. It was 100% completely relaxing. I felt everything was right with my world for this moment of time.
Finally, life guards starting gathering chairs and I knew it was about time to leave. Drat, just when I was already halfway through my new book, Flowers Are For Love. I bought it over at 3Rís in Downtown Disney.
All good things must come to an end, I guess. I donít believe it, but itís a common expression. Anyway, I didnít want to get sunburned, so I packed my things up and drove back to the room.
I lay down on the bed and decided a nap was in order. I called Mickey to wake me in an hour at 7 PM. He was a good mouse and called right on the dot. That guy is prompt. Is he that serious about Minnie or do I have a chance with him? Heís a dog loverÖI would need that.
I thought hard about where to go out for dinner. I wanted to go someplace nice, like last night. I know, right here. I made myself a turkey sandwich, some carrots and crackers, a diet 7UP, and for dessert, some chocolate cake with mini chocolate chips on it. Terrific!
I turned on Mouse planet and settled in for the night. I worked on the trip report and then went to bed about midnight again.
This was a wonderful day. I know that I would get lonely being by myself all the time, but sometimes, it is very nice. I am very lucky.
February 10, 2001 (Saturday)
I didnít have any major plans for the day except that I wanted to eat somewhere nice for dinner. Ah, ambitious on vacation, arenít I?
I slept in and played around in the room reading until nearly 10:30 AM. Then, it was off to breakfast over on 192 to the Cracker Barrel. This chain of restaurants reminds me of a cross between an old-fashioned Farrellís Ice Cream Parlor and a Dennyís. They pride themselves on old time country cooking and a good down home value. They have a country store in the entrance of the restaurant, which sells everything from candles and tee shirts to a Cracker Barrel Barbie.
My favorite is their audio book rental center, which is especially handy on long road trips. Their food is good and well priced.
I had one scrambled egg, crisp bacon, sourdough toast, and one pancake, all for less than $5.00. This is much better than Disney prices, thatís for sure!
It was fun to eat there since I have not been to one of their restaurants in a few years. They are rather a unique chain.
Driving along 192, I was looking for future hotels. I checked out several. I was doing this because I always look for hotel specials. So far I have been lucky and have been able to get the annual pass discount at the Disney hotels, but I know this may not always be available. I wanted to have some back-ups in mind the next time I visit Florida.
I donít think I would mind too much staying off property. On my last several trips, I have really enjoyed staying at the Institute, which is not overly themed anyway. Of course, I would prefer to stay on-site, but the budget may not always cooperate.
I spent some time hotel hunting and found a nice hotel on 192 West, the Holiday Inn Nicky Bird. Currently with an Entertainment book discount, the room with tax would be about $50.00 a night.
I remember someone raving about this hotel several years ago in a trip report and that is why I especially checked it. It does seem nice and pleasant. It is only about two miles west of All Stars. You wouldnít see much of 192 at all since it borders the property line.
After all of driving around, I went to Celebration. I always enjoy visiting this town, fantasizing about what it would be like to live there. I think I would like trying it, at least for a while. Since I have five dogs at the moment, I am not sure how my little pack would fit in, though. One of the collies hates lawn mowers, for instance.
I went into several of the house models and looked things over. I read Celebration USA, Living in A Disney Town, recently. That was an eye-opener on how poorly many of the houses have been built. Also, the other problems with the town were numerous. A very interesting book, by the way about Celebration.
I arrived back at the Institute about 4 PM and rested up for my dinner at (drum rollÖ.) The Flying Fish on the Boardwalk. This was my decision on where to spoil myself with a fancy dinner.
I arrived at 5:10 PM and checked in at the podium. The restaurant opened at 5:30 for dinner. I was told that I could be seated at the open kitchen bar area, yuck. I was not thrilled with this idea, but they seem very reluctant to let a single individual have a normal table. Oh wellÖ
I asked to be seated under the spotlight so that I could read my book on flowers and romance. Soon, a lady sat beside me and we began conversing. She was in her fifties and in the college program. She was studying to become a travel agent.
We had a nice talk and time passed quickly during the dinner. I had the potato wrapped snapper with Yukon gold potatoes and steamed sugar snap peas. This was not what the dish was normally served with, but I insisted this was yet I wanted. And, it was delicious. I thought it was much better than the leek fondue normally served with this fish.
I really wanted to try the flourless chocolate lava cake that Sue Holland (WDW1972) raves about in her trip reports. It is a four inch chocolate cake with an orangey warm chocolate melted center sprinkled with powdered sugar. To the side is a small scoop of blood red ice cream and some raspberry sauce swirled on the left of the plate. It is rather small. And, it was my most expensive dessert of the trip priced at $8.00.
The ice cream was most interesting. I have tasted blood red oranges and I thought the ice cream would be the same color as the orange. It was rather a pale orange red color, not dark red at all.
I thought the dessert was very similar to the flourless chocolate cake served with vanilla ice cream at Applebeeís for about $3.50.
Overall, the food was exceptionally delicious at this restaurant. It was rather dark and too noisy for my overall taste however. I think my bill came to about $38.00 for dinner.
Comparing between Artistís Point and Flying Fish, AP wins hands down. AP is much quieter with a far better atmosphere. It was well lit, quiet, with a great water view. The tables are far apart. At Flying Fish, the tables are rather close together and the place has a fish odor. It permeates the ice cream sweet shop next door as well. This is all just my opinion, of course.
Next, was a walk on the boardwalk and I went into Epcot. I wanted to see The American Adventure. This is one of my favorites. I disagree with it in several areas, but all of the Animatronics are wonderful. I sure wish they had found room for some of my favorite Americans, though.
By the time I was through with that and the gift shop, the Illuminations were about to begin. Since I didnít want to do anything else at Epcot that night, it was a perfect time to begin my exit. I am not a fireworks or a parade fan.
I decided to take the long way back to the Boardwalk hotel. It was nice and quiet since nearly everyone was watching the fireworks behind my back. I went into the Boardwalk hotel and looked around. I wanted to check out that long walk from the elevators to the far rooms, like everyone complains about in their trip reports. So, I went up a few floors, found the elevator and began walking and walking. It really is a long way to the far rooms! It was so far that rather than walk back the way I came, I went out an exit door.
Oops! I found a private courtyard area and a very private pool. All of the rooms had private little gardens outside their multi-room studios. I walked around and around, not being able to find my way out. I called a friend and complained that I was lost at the Boardwalk.
I walked some more. No one was around. I checked the door leading back into the hotel, but that required a room key to enter. I continue walking in a large circle. Finally, I ran across a bell person and I asked how did I get out of this maze?
He asked where I was staying. He said all the doors locked at 8 PM and there was no way out except by a room key! He agreed to let me back in and then I was out! What a strange situation.
Finally back to my car and a good forty-five minutes behind schedule, I headed over to Pleasure Island. I had read on the Disney Internet boards of a RADP meet starting at 10 in the Mask Room of the Adventureís Club.
Since my Pleasure Island card was good for several more nights, I decided to use it. I parked in section O and walked in toÖa line getting into PI. After a long wait, I entered.
Once inside the club, I never did see any RAPD folks. Maybe, I had missed them since I was late or maybe I had misunderstood the day or somethingÖI watched the mask room show and took off. I was rather tired by this point.
Returning to my car was a challenge. Section O is really large and I couldnít find the rental car. And, I hadnít had anything to drink in the club, so I couldnít even use that as an excuse. Finally, I found it.
I drove back to the Institute and spent some time on the telephone before turning in at nearly 1 AM.
February 11, 2001 (Sunday)
I didnít wake up until 11 AM. Oh, no! Well, since I already running late, I spent more time in the room. Finally, it was time for lunch and I took off about 12:45 PM.
I drove straight to the Contemporary, where I had read the hamburgers at the Concorde Steakhouse are very good.
I had no trouble with the guard at the gate. I was given a three-hour parking pass. I took the stairs to the fourth floor. I had failed to make a priority seating, but I was seated right away.
The steak burger was good. It was too juicy for my taste, though and the bun was tough. It was also expensive at about $9.50. I asked for some fruit instead of the ordinary steak fries that came with the meal. I think the fruit was the best part. Since the beef was so juicy which comes from fat, I wouldnít order it again. I ate about half of it.
Walking over to the Magic Kingdom, I stopped to look at all of the bricks lining the pathway. They are inscribed with various names, dates, and what appear to be expressions of fondness, like "Mr. And Mrs. Collie, 30 Years Together" or even one I saw, "Wendy, I promise to be the best husband ever. Love, Carl."
These all sound like expressions or slogans to me. Let me explain. I wanted to get a new brick at Disneyís California Adventure in Anaheim. I though of several fun and interesting sayings, like "Mr. And Mrs. Collie, A Disney Romance" or "Mr. And Mrs. Collie, A Magical Beginning." No matter what I tried, every expression was a slogan. I went through eight different expressions. Love Is Eternal, thatís a slogan.
I finally began so frustrated with the whole experience, that I still donít have a brick at DCA. Why is it that you can print almost anything on your personal brick here, like "Will You Marry Me?" That sounds like a slogan to me. J .
Finally, into the gates. I check out the horse barn, but it is closed. A few days ago, I met and spent quite a bit of time petting a little white pony named Rosie in the barn. She had retired several years early from pulling Cinderellaís Carriage during the weddings.
She was wearing a little white blanket since it was cold that day. Her hooves were shiny from hoof polish. This is similar to nail polish for humans. Her mane was nicely brushed.
I talked to the Cast Member who told me that Rosie was twenty-eight years old. Ponies can live to be about thirty-five. She had become bored in her retirement and was taken over to the horse barn at the MK several days a week for petting sections. She seemed happy and friendly to see people.
The CM told me that one could adopt a Disney horse from either US Park. They can live anywhere in the US. Potential adopters can fill out an application. Once chosen, if they can provide evidence that they can take care of the horse or pony well, they can adopt. They must have a barn or a rented stable to house the animal. They must not advertise that this is a Disney horse or use the horse to make money in any way. The animal must be a pet.
The adopted person pays for all transportation costs, but the animal is not exchanged for money. She stated the adoption process can take months or longer, but eventually one can obtain a Disney horse.
Horses come from the parks, like the parade horses or the carriage shows, the wedding horses and the riding stables. All of this was new information to me. I am quite the horse lover myself. Anyway, no Rosie today.
I treated myself to another chocolate chip ice cream sandwich at the Sleepy Hollow Bakery. I walked into the Haunted Mansion and took a tour with the Happy Haunts. The attraction broke down right when I was in front of the control panel. This was rather interesting seeing all the red lights flashing. The ride resumed normally however.
Since it was hot, about 83 (and how, do you people do it during the summer?), I wanted to find my Laughing Place. A very wet ride down Splash Mountain followed. I dodged the parade, and checked the shops for a souvenir wall map. The third CM told me that the maps had not been issued for seven years. Oh well, they probably didnít sell well.
Exiting the park, I headed out for 192 and found a Publix for more grocery supplies. I shopped for $28.00 worth of essentials for the Institute ducks and myself.
On the way back, I stopped in at the Cotton Mill and bought my dinner of Minnie Spaghetti and a chocolate cake to go. I returned to the room, ate my dinner, caught up on the Disney boards, and did some laundry. I also wrote in this trip report until it was finally time for an earlier bedtime tonight.
February 12, 2001 (Monday)
Mickey called at 8:30 this morning. I wanted to get on the road after the fog had cleared on I-4 for a drive down to Tampa. I had considered going to Busch Gardens, but due to my motion sickness problems, I decided that was rather a waste of time and money. I then decided upon seeing The Florida Aquarium. This is rated as one of the top eight aquariums in the United States. Since I am a fish fan, it sounded interesting.
It took an hour and fifteen minutes, with very light traffic, to reach the aquarium. It was a multi-storied building, costing about $10.95 to tour.
Upon entering, I immediately signed up for the next behind the scenes tour, which began in fifteen minutes. This was free and took about forty minutes. I thought that if I didnít like it, I wouldnít have wasted any money. Time, yes, but that is another factor. I had just enough time to look around the gift store before the tour began. Amazing how they do that.
The tour included the kitchen area, the filtration areas, and an overview look at the giant reef tanks. It was interesting tour, but I wouldnít waste my time on it again, since a large portion of it was dull.
Exploring on my own was a lot more fun. I entered the wetland area, where one could see lake fish and turtles swimming around on the open aired tanks you could stand beside. I could see the ducks floating on the water. They were so tame that I was within twelve inches of them. I knew they wouldnít let me pet them, so I just watched.
Continuing into the aquarium, I could see fish that were nine feet long and weighing about 800 pounds, a type of giant grouper called a Jewfish. These are native to Floridian and hang out near piers.
There was a fascinating display on seahorses and sea dragons. The later was especially wonderful. It looked liked a cross between a seahorse and a piece of kelp. I could see the animal looking at me. They are native to the Southern coast of Australia.
There were tiny seahorses, adult size is one inch. There are three species of seahorses native to Florida and this is one of them. Many were barely visible. You had to peer closely at the tank in order to see them at all.
Of course, there is the standard shark exhibit, nothing unusual here. It seems to be a requirement of every aquarium to have a shark display of some sort. The jellyfish were the same way, very standard.
They did display some vampire bats, small alligators, and leeches. I was able to pet one of the small gators. He was rather cute in a crocodilian kind of way.
Overall, I spent about three hours. I had a decent lunch in the cafeteria. I purchased a bird nature song for my parakeets in the gift shop. I was given good directions to get back to I-4 and I was on my way.
Dinosaur World took me in, at exit ten on my return trip. Since I like a Dinosaur exhibit along Southern Oregon coastline so much, I decided to check out another. I wasnít expecting very much.
At nearly $8.00, after my $2.00 AAA discount, I was hoping for a nice walk in the woods and a few decent dino models. I got more than I bargained for, yes!
It turned out to be a very nice paved walk through a swamp forest. Many large and small dinosaurs lined the pathways with informative display markings. I recognized a few of the dinos from Jurassic Park, the movie.
It was quiet in the forest. I was the only person there, surrounded by the dinos. Now, you canít say that at Disney! I did see several nice Florida turtles sunning themselves along the riverbank. I guess these dinos are pretty friendly to their neighbors.
I asked about the history of the place. The ticket taker told me the place had only been open for two and a half years. It used to be a Jungle land zoo of some sort. That was sold off and the new owners put in the dinosaurs.
On display in the gift shop, was the oldest known alligator. Unfortunately, he was now stuffed. He was born in 1911 and died when he was eighty. He had been given to some people in Cincinnati as a wedding present. Wow, that would be memorable!
When he was five, he was given to a zoo and eventually moved to Florida. He wasnít as large as the gators I had seen over at Gatorland, who were in their fifties. I suspect that he hadnít had enough proper nutrition when he was growing. At least, he lived a long time. I hope that he had a happy life.
There was also a Florida native, a Brown Bear, who was also stuffed, on display. A nice plea followed about how Bears were being squeezed out of Florida.
I really wasnít expecting very much of this place. It looks like sort of a very disreputable place right off the interstate. I really enjoyed the time I took there. I would recommend a visit if you like that sort of place.
I returned to WDW about 4:30 PM. I picked up some dinner of Minnie Spaghetti and a chocolate cake at the Cotton Mill and returned to my room. I had dinner and read USA Today. I relaxed, read and watched some television before calling it a night.
February 13, 2001 (Tuesday)
After all the driving yesterday, I decided to stay on property today. Several days ago, I had checked out the menu at the Big River Bar & Grill on the Boardwalk. Their grilled meatloaf sounded interesting. Since it was $2.00 cheaper at lunch at $11.95, I decided to go for it at noontime.
I drove over to the Boardwalk and parked. I had no trouble getting a table on the patio. It was warm, but a nice calm breeze was blowing, so it was very pleasant outside. I had my Birds and Blooms magazine with me to read, so I was a happy camper.
After having the char-grilled meatloaf, garlic mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables, I will be modest and admit that my meatloaf is much better. Theirs was bland and overcooked. I wouldnít have it again.
Finishing my lunch, I walked over to Epcot. I didnít feel like I needed to ride anything, but I wanted to explore the shops. I had a good time, just enjoying the day and looking around. I didnít purchase anything, it was fun just to look.
I did listen to the band, Off Kilter for a while. They combine Irish bagpipe music with modern rock. I know a lot of people enjoy their music. I found out very quickly that I was not one of them.
I just donít get Off Kilter. It sounded like a bunch of noisy people blowing on horns while playing some awful rock music in the background. Dancing around in the skirts looked silly and out pf place.
I will admit that I donít like much modern music, though. When I was at Pleasure Island and in line for the Comedy Warehouse, two couples were discussing the recent Pink Floyd concert. I canít think of one song by this group.
Anyway, by 4:30, I was done. I decided to go to the AMC movies on Pleasure Island. I drove straight there. The only movie starting soon that I though sounded interesting was Castaway with Tom Hanks. It was surprisingly good. I thought it sounded like the movie would have a difficult time holding my attention because it focused mainly on one character that whole time, but it was a very good film. It was long, though and let out about 8 PM.
By this time, I was more than ready for dinner. I drove over to the Cotton Mill (again), but this time, I was determined to get something other than some childís spaghetti and a chocolate cake.
When I got there, I had never seen the place so crowded. I think it was packed because the MK had closed an hour earlier and folks were hungry. I just sighed and stood in the line for a chicken salad. I didnít move in this line and it was long.
Sighing again, I gave up. The pasta line was short! Yes, I had more Minnie Spaghetti, but this time, (drum roll, please!) I had a piece of carrot cake, instead of chocolate. So, there! LOL.
Returning to my room, I read USA Today. I checked out the computer and read some before I went to bed at about 1 AM.
February 14, 2001 (Wednesday and Valentineís Day)
I had Mickey call at 9 AM. Again, I wanted to have the traffic clear off of I-4 before I venture on the interstate. I got up and like usual, I had a breakfast of a Nutri-Grain bar in the room. I drank some non-fat milk and took my daily vitamin pill. Well, chocolate cake doesnít have the daily supply!
Heading out on I-4, I drove to Universal Studios at exit 30. Paying the $7.00 for the parking garage, I pulled right into a space. It is a very nice garage. It seems much better designed than Mickey and Friends at Disneyland and is prettier, too.
On my last trip to Universal, I had purchased a two-day pass, so I went right to the admission area, inserted my card and I was in the park!
I wanted to check out Jaws, one of my favorite Universal movies. I am familiar with the Universal Hollywood Park since I have been going there since the 1970ís. It would be interesting to compare the two parks.
I have read several trip reports where writers comment they like one park more than the other. To be upfront here, I like the one in California better. They both have their good and bad points, though.
It was nice to be out of the smog in that part of California. The lack of enormous escalators was also another bonus. The lack of the tram tour in Florida is a major fault, however. I really enjoy seeing the original sets from the movies and this just doesnít exist here in Florida.
What does exist, though, are the action parts of the California tram tour, taken apart and made into longer segments. For instance, I was very pleased to see multiple sharks in the Jaws attraction.
The Earthquake and King Kong were much longer at this part. I didnít ride Twister, so I donít know about that attraction.
The only show I viewed was Beetlejuice. I walked out of this because the rock music was very loud and I donít care that much for monsters, anyway.
The animal actors show was closed. I was disappointed because this is my favorite show in California. It was being remodeled into an Animal Planet show, so I guess I will have to see it next time.
I had half of a very bad hamburger at Melís Drive-In. It was nice one could have an apple substituted for the French fries at no extra cost, though. I was given the fries anyway. The gulls appreciated the offering along with the remaining hamburger.
I viewed the set from How The Grinch Stole Christmas movie. I havenít seen the movie and the set pieces didnít hold much interest. It was nice to be able to wander freely in the display, though.
I liked the tribute to I Love Lucy. They have this in the California Park as well, but I havenít seen it for several years.
I explored the gift store, searching for Lassie items. I didnít find any, though. He/She is my favorite movie star. Last March at the California Pet Expo, I was kissed several times by the current Lassie. His name is really Howard and he was a cutie. I posed for photos, got his autograph, and got kissed several times on the check. Now, hardly anyone can say that about his or her favorite Hollywood star. I would rather have Lassie than Tom Cruise, any day!
I wasnít feeling well and it was getting hot, about 85. I decided to leave the park, about 3:30 PM. I saw the park in about five hours. I think it is much smaller than the California Park.
I returned to the Institute and turned on the air conditioning and took a nap for a few hours. Waking up at 6:15, I felt better. I called around for a PS at ĎOhanaís, but everything was booked for Valentinesí Day. I didnít want to risk driving over there with no PS; I thought it would be very crowded.
I drove over to Chick Fillet. I began to feel ill on the drive there and decided it was just as well I didnít go out for a larger meal. I had the chicken caser salad and returned with the meal to the room. I read a trip report and enjoyed my salad, watching the sun go down over the little lake here at the Institute.
After my meal, I perked up and tossed in a load of wash. I talked on the phone and worked on updating this report. Happy Valentineís Day, Everyone!
February 15, 2001 (Thursday)
Well, since I still wasnít feeling well when I woke up the next morning, I decided to take it easy. I basically stayed around the room and rested most of the day.
Later in the morning, I went swimming. I read the paper by the pool and swam for a while. This was my first and only time using the pool on this vacation. I really like to do things. I donít think sunning myself is enough of an activity for me. Besides, Iím too worried about sun damage to enjoy baking like a lizard.
In the late afternoon, I walked over to the Rainforest Cafť. I used my Safari Card and was seated right away. I really like that card!
I wasnít very hungry, so I had a cup of their jungle soup. It was sausage, beans, pasta and vegetables in a beef broth. It was served with some warm fonica bread. It was very good and light. Best of all, lunch was under five dollars!
Next, I walked over to the AMC movies in Downtown Disney. I went to see Miss Congeniality with Sandra Bullock. I was surprised the admission was $5.75 for the matinee. I must be out of touch.
The movie was good, but predicable. I got a theater with stadium style seating, which was nice.
Afterwards, I went to Ghirardelliís and enjoyed a single scoop sundae, chocolate chip with butterscotch topping and lots of almonds. Delicious!
I shopped around the World of Disney store and purchased a Minnie silhouette head necklace. I had noticed this last year, but not one to rush into purchasing anything, I had not bought it. This time, however, I decided I finally had to have it! It is very pretty.
Itís made of real cubic zirconium on a fourteen karat gold chain necklace. Luckily, I was able to use my annual pass 10% discount.
Thursday night I watched too much television and finally went to bed after midnight.
February 16, 2001 (Friday)
Since I was starting to feel better, I went out to breakfast at Boat Wrightís. I love their blueberry pancakes. I had the same waitress, Regina, from last week and she recognized me. Afterwards, I feed the remaining pancake to the ducks along the waterfront.
I walked around Dixie Landings. It is a beautiful resort and my favorite moderate. I reminisced about the times that I have stayed there.
Afterwards, I came back to the room and relaxed by reading my new book. Its entitled "Reading People" by Jo-Ellen Dimitrius.
Finally, I decided that it would be time to have a nice dinner for my next-to-last day. Artistís Point sounded good to me, so I gave WDW dining a call. No tables until 9:15 PM, I was informed! Thatís four hours from now!
No matter if I was a party of one or two, the answer was the same. I called AP direct and inquired about availability. No problem, come on down. Iíll put your name on the list.
I drove over and handed my rental car to the valet. First class service, how nice!
I received a pager and read my book in the lobby. I was first seated at a dark table near the window. Since it was dark outside, the view didnít really do it for me. I asked to be moved to a brighter table, so that I could read my book. No problem.
I read, ordered a glass of wine, and the house special, the cedar plank salmon. I changed the side dishes to my liking and relaxed.
A couple with a cute seven-month-old baby sat next to me. We talked for a while. The baby was very well behaved. Never having any human children, it was interesting watching the infant. I have taken a lot of child psychology, but have no practical experience at all.
After dinner, I got a vanilla cupcake from Roaring Forks and departed Wildness Lodge.
Back at the Institute, I played on the laptop until it was almost time for bed.
February 17, 2001 (Saturday)
I had a late night, so I slept until almost 10:30 this morning. I called United and arranged for my flight tomorrow.
I drove out to the Magic Kingdom. It was crowded for the Presidentís Day weekend. Even at the Institute, I have been seeing a lot more people around here.
I had lunch of a tuna sandwich and some carrots at the Harbor House, one my favorite fast food places in the park. I sat upstairs. Even though the restaurant was crowded, upstairs was nice and quiet. I sat for some time just watching the crowds below.
Finally, I took a stroll of the park, just looking at the crowds. It was a lot different a few weeks ago in January. I have never seen the lines so long. Splash Mountain was nearly two hours!
Not wanting to wait in anything, I left the park and spent some time looking at the bricks around the world. I enjoy reading the various inspirations. Of course, the unique ones are best. I found one from, "James and Lora, To Our Future Children" Okay, whatever.
I packed and drove over to the mailbox place to ship some items back to California. This took a long time, but I am sure it will be worth it tomorrow. Returning to my room, I played on the computer and did some laundry.
I thought about what should be my last dinner to end this vacation. I was tired and everything was crowded. I hopped in the car and drove over to Chick Fillet for another salad and a brownie. I had really wanted another pasta meal and some chocolate cake from the Cotton Mill, but I was too tired to deal with the crowds.
I really enjoy visiting Walt Disney World in late January and Early February when the parks are very uncrowded.
I set the alarm for 8:15 AM and called it a night.
February 18th, 2001 (Sunday)
Mickey called right on time, but I wasnít going to be visiting with him today. Today was my visit with the friendly skies of United. I felt bad for Mickey, but I was reassured that he would have lots of other visitors.
I left for the airport about 9:20 AM. This was plenty of time for my flight departure time of 11:45 AM. Since fires were occurring in the area on I-4 and causing quite a bit of problems, I wasnít sure how the traffic would be flowing.
Luckily, I encountered no problems and drove straight to the National car return. Dropping off the car was a breeze. I got a luggage cart and check-in at a very short line at United.
The flight was smooth. The co-pilot was interesting. He made an announcement that he was answering written questions within the next ten minutes on Channel Four. If anyone wanted to listen in, they were invited to tune in. I plugged in my headset and listened to answers concerning jet fuel use, miles per hour, how to tell all the buttons and levers from one another, and the education required to be a pilot. It lasted almost thirty-five minutes and was very interesting.
I was met at the gate and escorted back into reality. It was nice to be back.
Overall, I had one of the best vacations that I have ever experienced. It was fun and relaxing being on my own yet, still calling home every night to get reassurances of affection. It was nice only having to worry about myself for a change. I didnít have to be concerned about pleasing anyone else and that was nice.
I loved staying at the Disney Institute. They were very accommodating in room selection. I did notice the bedspreads were a bit dingy looking this time. The second room that I stayed in had so many loose carpet fibers in the living room area. This bugged me after several days of looking at the long loose fibers. I got on my hands and knees and with my scissors cleaned up the rug. It was that bad.
I miss the Seasons dining room. The replacement area, The Gathering, is okay. Seasons were a full restaurant area and this new place is kind of a cross between a bar and a deli.
I had a great time on the days I relaxed and stayed out of the parks. I remember the time I spent biking between the Institute and Old Key West. That was nice.
On this vacation, I really tried to focus on relaxation and visiting the resort amenities of the World. I spent a lot of time reading and going to the finer restaurants.
I really like visiting the World when the crowds are light and the weather is decent. I hate hot weather and donít like crowds, so that really limits when I can visit. And the length of time that I visit also puts me into a narrow window of time. I also like to find an Annual Pass deal on any hotel at Walt Disney World.
Final Conclusion (And yes, its finally here!)
It was a wonderful vacation. Vacationing by oneself is different. I think one has to be independent and self-focused to really enjoy it. I had a wonderful time. Thanks to all of the trip report writers out there, you kept me company many times. I appreciate all of your efforts. Thank you for enjoying my vacation and for allowing me the same in return. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
Dogwritr@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org